Thursday, April 28, 2011

Transmission Error

Okay...there is no error. I just didn't get around to finishing a post this week (busy, sick, bogged down, etc), but I didn't want to leave you all with nothing. So, here is a bit of the short story I started a couple weeks ago. I hope you like it and come back for the funny stories next week.


Kyle sat up. Grey-green light leaked in from the window, making his heart tighten in his chest. He had seen that color only once, just before the tornado tore through his home, taking everything he had known and tossing it into the sky.

His father had been in the kitchen when the roof blew off, the crumpled body found two days later miles away, dangling from a tree like a forgotten ornament. Kyle’s little sister had been in the nursery. Pieces of the crib are still imbedded in the neighbor’s cinderblock wall, but they never found the baby. Kyle’s mother jumped when the windows shattered, covering Kyle with her body as the walls fell, just enough cushion to keep her son alive, even if she wouldn’t be so lucky.

Kyle breathed in the memory as he pulled the blankets off, dust and rain, as air whipped away from him. Silence as insulation rained softly down like pink snow. Crushing pressure on his chest where his mother covered him. A hot, electrified nail burning its way into his thigh. His mother smiled as she looked down on him. “Hold on.” But, the ambulance didn’t come for hours and Kyle had watched as her eyes changed, not the glaze you see in movies, but an absence of life, a flicker as everything that made her his mother went away.

Kyle shivered in the warm room and rose on shaking legs to pull the blinds. The grey green light seeped in as he twisted the clear plastic rod. He grabbed the string and pulled, swallowing bitter bile as the blinds creaked up and the oppressive light did not change. Kyle glanced at the sky, looking for funnel clouds. What he saw made less sense. That’s when the little boy popped a head out of Kyle’s trunk at the foot of the bed, chocolate skin and eyes the color of almonds.

“Hiya! You should really hide now.” The boy ducked back down and closed the lid.

“What? What are you doing in my trunk?”

The lid cracked. “Your trunk, my trunk, our trunk. Hide.” The lid thudded closed.

Kyle walked over to it and knocked on the beat up leather. “Seriously kid. I’m in no mood for hide and seek. What are you doing hiding in my room? And what is up with the sky?”

The lid didn’t open this time, but the boy’s muffled voice came from inside. “Sky’s always weird when the Eater is near. Time to hide.”

“Eater?” Kyle pulled up on the lid, but the boy was clinging to it from the inside.

“Hide, hide, hide!”

An elderly black woman walked in the door as Kyle tugged on the trunk. She glanced at Kyle before shushing him. “Listen to Timmy. He’s a smart kid. Hide. The Eater is coming.” She opened the closet door and shoved the confused Kyle inside.

“What? Are you both crazy? Let me out!” He pushed on the door.

“Stop that! You’ll call it straight to us. I’ll explain everything after it passes. Now shush up!”

Kyle opened his mouth to complain again, but a wet gurgling whistle echoed down the hall and Kyle forgot what he planned to say. He waited a second and whispered. “What was that?”

The lady hissed. “The Eater. Stay quiet and stay hidden.” She lowered herself to the floor and stuffed her bent body under the bed.

Kyle peeked through the crack between door and frame, waiting for the mysterious Eater to appear. The gurgling whistle came again, louder. Then something moved past the door. The shape of the Eater roughly reminded Kyle of a panther if it weren’t for the extra, slithering limbs that swayed back and forth. The body of the creature was harder to define. There was no fur, no teeth, no eyes, no skin. Black and smooth, like someone tore a hole in the sky. The stars smeared where it bent and stretched the dark vacuum, emptiness that takes form and still resists that form. Kyle leaned forward even as all his muscles fought to keep him hidden, overcome with a sense of falling endlessly into the night. Kyle spiraled down into the darkness, unable to look away, a scream frozen in his throat.

The thing passed, but one waving appendage rested on the door frame for a second, seeming to sniff and taste the air before flowing away down the hall. Shuffling and screams came from another room. The old lady under the bed mouthed a name and closed her eyes. Something large fell over in the next room, Kyle thought it sounded like a dresser. One last shout and then silence.

Kyle’s knees started to shake. This isn’t real. This can’t be real. He leaned against the door frame to keep from falling, his eyes still glued to the crack. His movements made a floor board squeak. The old lady’s eyes shot open and Kyle winced at the scolding look that woman gave him through the closet door. He silently mouthed “Sorry” even though she couldn’t see it.

They waited several minutes in silence, waiting for the creature to return, but nothing happened and the light from the window shifted from green to a very bright and eerie blue. The woman crawled out from under the bed and Kyle let out a breath he had been holding.

The little boy hopped out of the trunk and took the old lady’s hand. He looked up at her and smiled, but his forehead wrinkled with concern. “Jones?”

The old lady nodded. “I’m afraid so.”

The boy patted her hand. “I’m sorry, Grandma Bent. I liked Jones.”

“Me too. Let’s get our friend out of the closet though. We can mourn Jones later.”

Kyle had not left the closet. He was trying to wake himself up. Pinching hadn’t done anything, but it hurt. He slapped himself in his face. When the door opened, he shot back with enough force to send him through the cheap drywall into another room. He should have landed in a room exactly like his own, basic temporary housing. He rolled into something out of a movie, crystal and gold glimmering around him. A seagull called from a large open window and salt air flowed in with it.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Thing - Part Two (Revenge)

My brother scared me, yelling "kitty" like some deranged monkey...that knew how to say words like "kitty" or "vegemite" but only while shouting. You should have read about it last week.

I began plotting my revenge. The scary movie marathon continued for several more days. That gave me plenty of time to manage a scare. I didn't sit down and diagram out my scheme. That might have turned out better. I'll do that next time.

I came home a little later from work another night. I heard the tv on in the other room, so I peaked around the corner.

He was obviously watching a scary movie. I thought this was my chance. I can jump out and scare him, but, as I spied on him and prepared myself for the scare, he started muttering to himself and pulled out the remote to turn the movie off. I don't know if it proved to be too scary for him or he finished it.

I sprinted silently down the hallway, like the ninja that I am. I jumped in his closet and piled clothes, trash, whatever was in there on top of myself. This was going to be good.

Mark came in a moment later.

I sat still, monitored my breathing, and thought about what I could do to scare him.

I could just scream really loud.

Or maybe crawl out once he's in bed and grab his foot and scream.

Or I could make a strange noise and make him come to me to investigate.

Then I would rise up in my debris mound like the trash heap from fraggle rock. That thing freaked me out. I figured it would do the same for my brother.

The thing about waiting to scare someone is you bottle up a lot of tension. You have to wind yourself up to the point of breaking, ready to move at lighting speed and scream at decibels you find uncomfortable. As I imagined what I might look like as I rose to my brother's horror. I thought he would pee his pants and scream like a little girl, but...

...the image proved too much for me and all that bundled tension. I burst out laughing. I immediately clapped my hand over my mouth.

Oh no! What had I done? The scare was ruined. I blew it. What a waste, right?

Well, not quite.

Seems a mad cackling laugh from your dark closet after watching scary movies for a week straight is just as horrifying as anything I had thought of.

He screamed, pulled me giggling from the closet, and dumped me out side his door.

I don't think I've scared him better.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Thing! - Part One

My older brother hates scary movies. He curls up in a ball and half hides from them under the security of a warm blankie. They give him nightmares for weeks. None of this stops him from watching them though. He has a strange addiction.

The other day a scary trailer played before our movie at the theater. He leaned over to me and shuddered. "Not going to watch that one!"

I laughed. I knew he probably would. He'd also drag someone else along to share in the terror as though companionship actually helps him. It doesn't.

That's just the way he is.

I worked at a grocery store while in high school. I would often come home after a late shift bagging and chasing carts around the parking lot and find some member of my family hanging out downstairs, watching tv. One week a channel had a monster movie marathon. I came home day after day to find my older brother balled up on the couch with a blanket just under his nose.

Yes, we did have a huge ugly green sectional and a large wooden entertainment center. My brother often claimed the corner as the blue light of horror washed over him. He would look up when I walked in, pat the couch next to him, and mutter something through his fluffy shield. "Watch. Scary. Sit. Watch."

I would usually sigh, then sit, and watch the rest of whatever nightmare fuel happened to be on.

I've mentioned before that few things scare me and that I like to scare others. Movies just make me laugh. This evening my brother had elected The Thing as his drug of choice. It wasn't that scary, but it did have this crazy scene where an alien in the form of a dog assimilates several other dogs. One of the actors turns a flamethrower on the creature and you can imagine the mess. Not pretty and horrifying in a not so scary way.

The movie ended and my brother remained near comatose behind his blankie, shivering, twitching, and muttering to himself.

"Shouldn't have watched that. Not gonna sleep. Icky dog thing."

I stood up and turned on the light. The switch sat right next to the entertainment center and a dark hallway. Now, I can count on my fingers the number of times I have been scared enough to jump. This is one of slow motion for your entertainment.

I did not kick the kitty, so you know. That is me half jumping away.

I know. Not that scary. In my defence that was not our kitty! It could have been some mutant from outer space intent on assimilating me and using my husk as a disguise while spreading its invasive self around the globe. You don't know!

And what is wrong with my brother? Who yells "kitty" like the zombiepocalypse has begun and I happen to be standing right next to a mindless biting corpse? I didn't even understand him. My ears could not decipher the terrifying scream. My reality blurred into sudden light, blinking, a horrible noise issuing from my brother's mouth, pointing, some unknown black thing moving inches from my leg, recoiling from the evil beast before it could consume my soul. So, yeah, I jumped. Do you blame me?

The poor kitty ran for it, probably more confused and terrified than any of us.

My brother laughed at me. At me! I started plotting my revenge right then...and my revenge would be epic, dear brother, epic! You shall see! You shall wade in the epicness of my revenge! But that will be next week's post.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Hypothetical Rolling Tires

This post is a hypothetical example of what might have happened if I went with my brother and his friends when they suggested we go roll tires one evening after a rainstorm. I am not saying I did go and participate in such an event.

We lived in a little town in Nevada at the time, one of those places that barely makes it on a map. A random exit in the middle of the desert and a twenty minute ride out into nothing before the first farmhouse pops up. So, there isn't much to do. We camped, hiked, played at the lake, and ended up looking for interesting ways to have fun.

When my brother's friends showed up and mentioned "rolling tires" I had no idea what they meant. I was in though. Better than hanging out at the house watching reruns.

We drove to one of the mesas overlooking the town.

We made our way to the top in an old beat up pickup truck. My brother's friends hopped out and pulled a used tire from the back.

"Okay...I get it. Rolling tires. Fun."

"It's more fun than it sounds."

Then the gas can appeared.


"You didn't think we just rolled the tires as is? That wouldn't be fun. Everything is better with fire."

I couldn't disagree. I mean we all remember my post about grease, right? I'm a bit of a pyro.

So this is how rolling tires works...hypothetically:

You take a tire to the edge of the mesa. You stand up the tire. You pour gasoline in the tire. You light the gasoline. You push flaming tire off the mesa and watch it bounce and roll down. Fun is had.

That was the plan. Things did not go according to plan.

We got the tire set up and filled with gas. My brother stepped forward to light it.

He struck the match on the first try.

He then dropped the match short of the target.

As he reached for another match to try again...fumes are flammable.

The person holding the tire upright dropped it, dumping the gas that sat inside. Flames spread all over the tire.

"Kick it off."

"Kick it!"

"Kick it!"

"AH! It's hot!"

"Maybe rocks."

Thud thud thud.

We threw rocks and kicked the tire until it fell off the edge. The flaming tire rolled and bounced along the mesa. It hopped a fence and jumped into a little sappling on the fringe of a farmer's field. It had just rained. We weren't too worried about starting fires.

At this point several cars started moving up the mesa. We saw their lights, assumed the police were on their way, jumped in the truck, and took off into the desert with the lights off. When the cars turned on a side road we went back. Very smart of us. We wanted one more chance to get it right.

Our second attempt went smoothly.

We looked over the edge to watch the full show this time.

The tire fell twenty or so feet before contacting the rolling surface of the mesa. When the tire hit, the gas inside bounced up into the flame above it...

My brother didn't have much of his eyebrows for a while. His friends were hypothetically right though, better than reruns.
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