Tag Archives: creative

Kilt – Finale

“I kind of lost it after that,” Paul said, slowly, softly running is fingers along the gauze that covered the stump of where his arm used to be. For all he knew his fist was still clicking away on that trigger in the belly of that thing. “I can’t tell you how I got away. I can’t tell you how I got to the hospital. You know what I know.”

“How do you feel?” Doctor Kernz said, setting his pen on his pad and lowering his pad to his lap.

“I feel…,” Kilt concentrated on the gauze and how the sensation of his touch felt against quiver of his new reality.

“Mister Kilt?”

Nothing.

Doctor Tarden Kernz breathed a deep sigh and slowly packed his things. Before he left, he patted Paul Kilt on the shoulder and moved out into the hallway. As he stepped down the hall, he clicked the speed dial on his phone and began making the arrangements to have his patient transferred to Starkton and finished by the time he reached the nurse’s station.

“Excuse me,” he said pulling up to the counter, “Nurse Pike, right?”

Amanda turned, “Yes?”

“Paul Kilt. We’ll be moving him to Starkton tomorrow.”

“Did he tell you what happened?”

“He told me what he believes happened.”

“Is he sticking with the big dog story?”

“I can’t discuss the specifics,” Kernz said signing his name at the bottom of Kilt’s chart.

“Will he be all right?”

Kernz looked at the nurse. “I believe he will. We may never know what really happened, at least until he decides to tell us. Our job is to make sure we get him headed in the right direction. At least to the point where he is no longer a danger to himself…or others.” He politely slid the file back to the nurse across the short expanse of the counter. “The long and the short of it is, we’ll just have to wait and see. It’s really up to him. He needs to find his truth and the courage to face it. Have a good evening.”

He gave her half a smile as he stepped away from the desk and walked to the elevator. What a day.

———————

Epilogue:

Tarden Kernz pulled his car to a stop at the end of the long driveway the led up to his house.

He lived on the farther edge of Cardington, probably as far as one could get before stepping into Blakewood County. He liked it that way. He liked to be close enough to his work in case of emergencies, but he treasured at least the perception of distance his set up allowed. The country road, the long driveway, the fair amount of trees that bordered the small lake, or large pond depending on how you look at it, all provided the illusion of serenity, solitude and distance.

He sat in the car for a moment, both reviewing and purging the day from his mind so that the evening belonged to him. The only work he brought home was the Kilt case, and that was just so he could make some additions to his notes before he had them transcribed for the official file.

He shut down the engine, popped open the car door, then scooped up the file and stepped a foot out onto the tarmac all in one movement. A moment later, he was out and heading for the front door. Without him looking, his fingers worked to single out the door key from the rest.

He grabbed a scent of freshness from the trees carried by the small breeze that moved past him, another item of note to further solidify why moving out here was such a great idea.

As he slid the key into the lock and the pins of the mechanism found their place, the crack of a branch rose up to his ears. It wasn’t out of the ordinary to hear such a noise. Not out here with the woods and all still, while he paused for the briefest moment, nothing felt as if it needed further exploration.

As he turned the key, a deep, low rumble reached out to him. Not so much a purr, it was bigger than that. It was more like..a growl?

His hand stopped on the key. His gaze, trained a second ago on the the lock and his hand slowly drifted up the side of the door and leveled off. If he were in front of a mirror, he’d be looking at himself now. His breath caught. His heartbeat seemed to slow as it moved from his chest to his ears.

He couldn’t place the next sound he heard behind him. There was no point of reference, but he imagined. It was close. It seemed…big.

His chest started to rise and fall with a heavy sense of urgency with each new breath.

The hand that held the key let go and dropped to his side.

The rumbling growl drifted closer.

Closing his eyes, he drew one deep breath to try and calm himself. He even tried to tell himself it was nothing and that he was being stupid, but the rest of his body resisted the notion of comfort.

He opened his eyes and slowly turned.

If Tarden Kernz had the luxury of telling his story of what happened next from a room set inside the safety of a hospital as Paul Kilt did, he could have said, that before the reality of his situation blew every circuit of his thinking mind, he could recall what looked like a dark, empty cave of blackness opening up before him. It came at him with a speed he couldn’t have imagined and the edge of the cave was lined with…teeth.

If…

Instead, there was no story to tell. The bits and pieces that were left of the doctor lay in a pool of drying blood. The folder filled with the notes and documents that detailed Paul Kilt’s experience, his horror, dropped to the ground with a flutter the instant the doctor ceased to be. A breeze kicked up working to move the pages away from the carnage. They blew and scattered across the driveway and into the trees to be lost forever.

Kilt – Part V

“At least,” Paul said slowly and pausing to run over it all…yet again, “I think they were teeth.”

For the first time since starting his story, Kilt looked away from the thumb that had been rubbing across his fingers, now so vigorously that he could feel an element of heat from the tips.

“That’s the look I was waiting for,” he said, forcing Kernz to break the stare to look down at his notepad. “Not just teeth, of course. They weren’t just hanging there. They were attached you know.”

“To what?” Kernz asked.

Paul sat for a moment. “I don’t know. To be dead honest, I don’t know what I saw, because my mind can’t get around it.”

“Take your time. Let’s start with what you think you saw.”

Paul turned his attention back to his fingers, back and forth. He drew a half a breath and said, “Dinos….”

After the first part of the word came out soft and difficult to hear, the second half faded into a whisper. He coughed.

“Dinosaur,” he said louder and with a touch more of commitment. “I believe I saw a dinosaur.”

“Good work,” Kernz said, “Now we are making progress. What ki…”

“If you ask me what kind of dinosaur,” Kilt cut in, “I won’t be held responsible. I don’t know what kind of dinosaur! I’m not some kind of pale, paleon, paleo…whateverthehellitis! I can’t even say with one hundred percent certainty and conviction that it was a dinosaur. Maybe Starkton is where I belong! But you asked. You wanted to help! And this is the news. Whatever I saw, my brain registered it as a dinosaur. Apparently, I hit it with my truck as it was going wherever dinosaurs go here in Cardington when the skies and the earth decide to open up and take giant shit on us!”

“I understand Mr. Kilt,” the doctor said in a trained and calming voice. “Really, I do. Based on your injury, it is certainly more possible that something like a dinosaur could take your arm before something like a dog could. Please trust me. We will get to the bottom of this. Take a moment, then tell me what happened next.”

Paul tilted his head pulling in hard, but steady breaths, and staring down at his working fingers.

“I have a gun…in my glove compartment,” he started up again. “I keep a pretty good sized crowbar under my seat. My head was…pounding. I was gasping for air after having the wind knocked out of me and maybe half my senses. The mouth seemed huge, but all I could really see was the teeth. They looked long and sharp and dripped…dripped with what I can only imagine was a mix of rainwater and saliva.”

“Go on.”

“I tried to calm myself down. Tried to get my breath. The thing roared again. I’m not sure if I hurt it or it was just pissed at the rain, or that it was lost or…I don’t know, but as soon as I got a breath I found myself screaming right back at it. That was a mistake. I have to remember that. The yelling and screaming and roaring or whatever…that was all about it…whatever it was. If it heard me, when it heard me…when the roaring stopped…”

“Yes?”

“That’s when it turned it’s attention to me.”

——-

The moment the last bit of scream escaped him, the animal, the thing, tilted it’s head in a way that brought an enormous eye to bare.

“Oh, Shit.”

He certainly experienced moments of panic in his life, some that even moved his heart to his throat, but this…was new. A super-panic seized him as all life around him seemed to slow to a cinematic crawl. He lurched over the passenger seat and pawed at the glove compartment, but all movement seemed slow, and well below the expectancy set by the fire of urgency in his head. The compartment door popped open releasing a shower of useless things he kept in there for emergencies, hand sanitizer, an old map of historic Boston, well outdated mints and aspirin. Even in full panic mode, a voice in his head declared that if we all live after this, we are taking the time to re-evaluate our definition of emergency.

He heard the gun topple to the floor. The pushed away the bits and pieces that followed after it and jammed it into his coat pocket.

The giant head of the animal-thing swung quickly down towards him, the nose scraping along the edge of the roof where bits of what was left of the windshield hung on for dear life. A cloud of hot breath moved over him bringing with it the smell of rancid meat and deep earth. A heavy gag jumped into his throat causing his shoulders to heave as he worked to hold back whatever he had in him that was suddenly and vigorously looking for a way out. He reached his hand under the passenger seat feeling across the mat until his fingers landed on steel. They gripped tight around the crowbar as he pulled it out, making a mental note not to hook it on anything.

A low rumbling growl pulled itself from within the beast and into rain reaching Kilt’s ears and igniting a new fire of urgency. With a speed unimaginable for its size, the mouth poked into the hole left by the windshield. It had no room to do its work effectively, but the jaws, the teeth, snapped open and shut as it reached for what might be inside.

“No!” Kilt heard himself say, almost as if it came from outside of himself. “No!”

He flopped over onto his back and kicked out at the thing as a new wave of nausea poured into his stomach every time his boot found purchased on the leathery hide. It felt like kicking an old sofa, a hungry old sofa.

The head pulled back, but for only a moment to re-evaluate and adjust before bobbing down for another try.

With what room he had, Kilt swung the crowbar out in front of him connecting with one of the long bayonet-like teeth with a sickening crack. The connection was enough to force it back. A new and more inspired roar burst from the animal-thing above him. He shifted himself again as quickly as he could to work the door handle. After pushing with no success he shot his feet out again and again until the door swung open.

The next moment unraveled itself into existence with a slow and overly deliberate pace. An electrical charge of hope surge through the man as he saw the pathway to his escape before him, He heard each breath. Each heartbeat throbbed within him as he turned to look at the animal-thing. The thing looked back at him. Paul looked back at the open door.

Time to go.

 

 

 

Kilt – Part IV

“Dammit.”

Kilt peered out into the darkness as the automatic doors opened wide to release him from the bountiful confines of Barner’s Groceries. The moment he stepped forward, the falling rain seemed to intensify, even more with the next step. He paused on third step, that one that would move him from the relative safety of the door’s overhang and into the brewing elements, as a gust of wind forced the rain at him, as if almost a warning.

“Shit.”

He turned his head back to the store just as the automatic doors closed behind him leaving him to stand alone in that moment of decision, back to the store or forward into…whatever this was.

As his brain began to weigh the pros and cons, the rest of his body was working toward the as yet to be realized decision. He shifted all three plastic bags into one hand, then grabbed the collar of his jacket with the other and pulled it over his head. Surely, he didn’t look as ridiculous as he felt. One deep breath later, he lunged into the downpour and made a break for the truck.

The wind and rain intensified still, blowing him sideways a bit and drenching him to the bone no more than three steps deep into the parking lot. He could see nothing. He heard only rain. He tried to move instinctively to where he thought the truck was parked and hoped he was right.

Two steps later, his brain sent out a single message, “Keys,” and the hand that held whatever protection he got from the jacket released it and plunged into his pocket. He felt for the fob and pressed what he knew to be the unlock button, squinting through the sheeting water to see a flicker of light from the truck’s tail lights.

There.

A quick course adjustment, three steps and a splash later and he was clawing at the door handle to get inside.

Once he slammed the door shut, he sat for a moment listening to his breath mingle with the sheets of wind driven rain blasting his windshield. He tried to wipe some of the water from his face, but really just pushed it around. Everything was soaked. He could end up sitting here all day, he thought, but he didn’t want to. Whatever he was feeling earlier in the day manifested itself in his head which throbbed now. Better to get home.

He put the key in the ignition and turned the engine over. He loved this truck. The dashboard blower started in earnest, working to remove the building condensation from the inside of the glass while the wipers slapped water away as fast and efficiently as it could…which ended up being not very good. He put the truck in reverse and backed out of his spot slowly. So far so good.

——

From what he could tell the roads were fairly deserted. And why wouldn’t they be? What kind of idiot drives in something like this?

Even on a fairly bad day, the trip to the store takes about 12 minutes, max, but Kilt, ever diligent in his desire to doing something stupid as safely as possible was determined to take his time. The wind began to add small branches, leaves and bits of garbage to the mix of rain it hurled at him, but he pressed on.

As he neared the left onto Crestview, the rain seemed to hiccup just long enough for him clearly see the sign and notice that the street was clear of anything he could run into. The brief reprieve allowed him to stop squinting long enough to realize how hard he was working to see…anything, and, how much his head was pounding.

“Note to self,” he muttered. “Get food before stupid storm hits.”

Taking advantage of the minor pause, he spun the wheel to take the turn. The rain returned the second the car banked around the corner and his visibility once again disappeared.

Typical.

He straightened the wheel, then raised his foot gently to press on the gas. If he had the ability to record the moment and review it over an over again, his story would stay the same. As he pressed the pedal to urge the car ahead, a blood curdling…scream, for lack of a better word, coincided with his movement as if he created it.

The noise tore into his head and in one movement, he slammed his eyes shut, slammed both feet onto his brake pedal and gripped his steering wheel to prevent his head from banging into it. The lurched into a skid that was not likely to occur on a dry street, but there was so much water, every movement was amplified.

Despite what he confirmed just before making the turn, that the street was clear, the sliding truck came to an almost immediate and jolting stop, the force of which drove his chest into his steering wheel, cutting his breath. Mixed with the sound of water and debris washing over him, came the sounds of grinding metal, breaking glass and something else.

“What the…”

Another roar tore through the air, causing him to cover his ears with his hands. His body lurched as he fought for a new fresh breath.

Another car? A tree? His aching brain seemed to spin in his skull. What could he have hit? God, let it not be another person…a kid or something!

The new noise, a soft grating, came up from the newly accordioned hood of his truck. As he gasped holding his chest, he blinked at the new batch of water hitting his face through the newly demolished windshield. Whatever it was, it was alive, and it was huge.

One more deafening roar later, and as if by premonition, he looked out into the storm, lightning flashed and he saw them as clear as anything for the first time…teeth.

Kilt – Part III

“Mister Kilt,” Dr. Kernz said with a certain level of matter of factness, “Paul, if I may. This is our third meeting. I can’t prove it of course, at least not yet, but it’s clear that you are not being one hundred percent forthcoming regarding the reality of your injury.”

Kilt looked down at it right hand and stared at the way he ran his thumb back and forth over his finger tips in a soft circular motion. If he had his other hand, he was sure he would have clasped all of his fingers together to accommodate his thumbs tapping each other gently in assured defiance, but his thumb tapping days were over for sure. And with that, some level of his confidence.

“As I explained in our first meeting, we need to figure out what exactly led to your injury. Your insistence that it was a dog, sounds, as we agreed, unlikely to impossible. I surely find it implausible. So if you expect to head back to your home upon your release, instead of a cozy room in the Starkton facility, I suggest we try to explore some new ground. It’s for your own good and the good of the community.” The doctor paused, “I’m here to help.”

Kilt jerked his head away from the oddly calming and near hypnotic thumb movement as if the doctor made a loud noise. His breath quickened as he caught the other man’s gaze.

“Help,” he said, nearly spitting out the p. “How will you help?”

“I…”

“You don’t believe my story. And if I tell you what I think really happened, at least how I remember it, I’m pretty sure you won’t believe that one either. So, it seems a stint in Starkton is probably inevitable. But since you’re so keen on ‘helping,’ I’ll give it to you, warts and all.”

The doctor silently leaned back in his chair, implying in part that he was happy enough to have reached this point. He waived his hand before him as a gesture to Kilt that he was welcome top proceed, please…go ahead.

Kilt swallowed hard, turning his gaze back to his thumb and fingers.

“It was a weird day to start with. I wasn’t feeling well and I’m never sick, but I was off enough to call off work for the day. The reports of a possible storm that evening started early as I recall, but I don’t think they had any idea what type of storm was heading our way.”

“What do you mean?,” Kernz broke in, “Type of storm.”

Paul nodded his head at the doctor as if to look, but kept his eyes trained on his thumb moving back and forth, back and forth. “Aren’t you from around here doctor? Couldn’t you feel it? This storm was going to be different. Different before it even got here. Most storms are stirred up by weather patterns controlled by Mother Nature to help her take care of her business. But this was no Mother Nature storm brewing. You could feel it in the air the closer it got. It wasn’t like electricity or anticipation. It was more like…dread.”

“Dread?”

“Yeah,” Paul said, not realizing how much harder his thumb was pressing against his fingertips. “Dread. Like Mother Nature stepped away for a moment and something else jumped in to steer the storm machine that day.”

“What kind of something?”

“Something…dark.”

“Go on.”

“The clouds…the storm system didn’t just roll in like most storms do. It crept in. It changed the air. It, it, didn’t cover the sun, it was more like it…absorbed the light causing the darkness to increase. And when it got here, it seemed to lock this town down as if it meant to stay a while. Even when the street lights went on, they seemed to have to fight to share enough light to hold back the darkness, at least until the power went out. Even my headlights had a hard time cutting into that blackness.”

“You weren’t home then?”

“No,” Paul said, watching his thumb move. “I was coming off some double shifts, so the cupboards were bare as they say. Even though I felt bad, I would have felt worse with no food in the house and I tend to think storms are better when accompanied by the welcomed comfort of a twelve pack. My plan was to skip to the grocery and get back before things got bad. I left my house just as the winds were picking up and damned if I couldn’t tell something was off the moment I stepped out of that house.”

“The dread?”

“Yeah…,” Kilt’s voice trailed off for a moment. “But not right away. Like I said the air felt…different. The moment I closed my front door, I don’t know if it was a smell or how thick the air seemed, but that first deep breath was nearly like a brick to the head. I had to steady myself for a moment before I moved to my truck.”

“What happened next?”

“Nothing, really. I brushed off the feeling because I didn’t really have anything to connect it to. I just wrote it all down as maybe being sicker than I thought. I got to Barner’s. I got what I needed. I paid and started to leave. In the short time that passed between entering the store to when I stepped on that pad to open the exit door, the light was gone. The darkness had taken over and it was just starting to rain.”

An open letter to congressional Democrats

Java typed with determination and focus, as she was prone to doing in these situations:

An open letter to congressional Democrats –

Dear congressional Democrats:

You don’t know me, but…Ouch! Need some salve for that burn?

Just kidding. My apologies for the snark so early in the note. I sometimes hold that until the end as sort of an exclamation point on the ideas I try to convey, but dang it all if you all didn’t just slap your own big exclamation point on your moment in the sun as the majority seat holders in the U.S. Senate.

I imagine you feel a little salty heading into work these days, what with the Republicans waving their index fingers around, screaming “We’re number one!” and basically telling you all to go suck it. It will make me proud to know that despite the tanning of your hides, you will proceed in your duties as elected officials with grace, professionalism and the knowledge that you are still good people who are there to do a job and to do it the best way you know how. Rise above it.

I would tell you to remember this moment and the feeling that comes with having been defeated, even in what they call a lackluster mid-term election. I would tell you to use this recent string of events as motivation to get back up on your proverbial political bicycles and make a truly inspired effort to regain what was lost so that you might continue to work on making the world a better place. I would tell you all those things…and more… if I thought for half a second that you might a) listen and b) actually remember. Sadly, my faith and my hope in both those areas are severely degraded, if not completely shattered. Shadoobee.

I’m guessing you don’t remember, because those who don’t remember their histories are bound to repeat them and guess what? You’ve been here before! That’s right! You have had it all, the control, the faith of the people, the momentum to proceed with a reasonable agenda and boom, you squandered it! Pissed it away, as my grandfather might say, through petty squabbles, lack of conviction, misguided alliances and dare I say, a fair bit of your own hubris. With all your power and promise, you accomplished nothing. And while you can say, “Well, the Republicans didn’t do anything either.” (which will make you sound small, petty and immature) you forgot that they are the masters of that game and it is an arena where you clearly cannot compete.

I think you need to take some time for reflection. Not a lot of time mind you. You could probably suss this all out over the few minutes it takes to drink a decent cup of coffee. But you need to consider what went wrong and how to fix it, for while you may be down right now – you are not out…provided you get your shit together. Here are a few things to ponder.

  • The people did not let you down – Quite the opposite, you let the people down and this is their way, misguided as it might appear right now, of telling you that you sucked it up.
  • Try taking more credit for the way things are going – You need to pay more attention to the real world and less of what’s going on over at Fox news. Things in America are better than they were when you retook control. Yes. There is a lot more to do, but housing is up, employment is up, the stock market is up (aside from a few days here and there where the market takes a dump – but hey, we all have our off days) gas prices are down. I’m not convinced that you really had anything to do with these trends, but it’s fair to say they happened on your watch and the mindless collective called the voting public appears to believe what they are told with little question (for evidence, please refer to Tuesday’s election results).
  • WTF – Middle East and other areas of global unrest – Look, this is a thorn in everyone’s paw. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. A case could be made that the for many on the other side of the world, creating and maintaining a constant state of turmoil, unrest and a slow simmer of self-destruction seems to be what they do best. I mean, after all this time, if they really wanted to work things out, they probably could. My guess is that there is more money in turmoil and distress than in peace, so until we can create a higher profit margin for peace, we are kind of stuck. The point here is, many have tried. Many. Have tried. For decades and decades to get things straight over there. At some point, the rest of the world is just enabling the conflicts. The Republicans were burned by it and you have been burned by it. I don’t have any answers on how to resolve it, but we need to decide how much longer we need to participate, what we are going to do where – do it and then get the hell out of there and focus on the good work that needs to be done here at home.
  • Reacquaint yourself with Dr. Seuss’s story of The Zax. – Seriously. Read it, or watch the cartoon, or have somebody read it to you and show you the pictures. I don’t care. There is a message for congress there.

I could go on and on, but I realize that you are only congressional representatives after all, and that your attention spans are short, your memories are thin and your intentions are about as deep as the next election. If you take that as fairly harsh criticism, then I’m OK with that. If you could muster up a moment of self-reflection I dare say that you will come to the conclusion that you deserve it.

My one parting notion to you would be that while you are down right now like the stock market in ’07, you are not out. The deck is shuffled and you still have some good cards to play. You will need to be smart over the next year or so, which will be hard, I know, but buckle down and get the work done. I’m fairly certain that you can count on the Republicans doing nothing, aside from setting their focus on the next election, but I’m pretty sure the potential for a bright future lies ahead if you do what you need to do. And if you, meaning both parties, could consider for at least a half a second what it is you are supposed to be doing in Washington instead of what you actually do (or more commonly, do not do), the put upon cogs and wheels of this country – the American people would be truly grateful.

Your friend – Java

 

 

 

 

An open letter to the new republican congress

Java typed with determination and focus, as she was prone to do in these situations:

An open letter to the new republican congress – Dear new republican congress:

Your don’t know me, but I wanted to be one of the first to congratulate you on your retaking of the U.S. Senate and retaining control of the House! Congratulations! And while this may sound sarcastic, I have to tip my hat to you, well done. Really, very well done.

On the surface, I would attribute this turn of events to a small miracle or raging luck. But when one digs deeper, it’s easy to visualize how this is really the one thing you, as a group, have wanted bad and have worked hard on to actually accomplish since the tables upended for you in 2006. If we disregard divine intervention and pure luck (I’m not willing to go as far to say some souls weren’t sold for this outcome) one could surmise that your good fortune comes at the hand of three primary factors.

1. Bottomless financial resources and a singular focus

2. Clever maneuvering and positioning

3. The mindless collective called the voting public

To be brief, let’s again be honest with each other. You spent billions to get here. And not just for this race exclusively. You’ve been spending money hand over fist to reclaim what you feel is rightfully yours since ’06. And if you weren’t making money in a vast suburban basement operation somewhere in middle America, you certainly have some very wealthy benefactors with cash to spare who want you back in the driver’s seat. (Be careful. Those favors and promises are going to come faster than a fist full of Christmas bills in February). Reports appear to indicate that you outspent virtually every opponent in every race. So, like any winning sports team who can afford the best players…wait, sorry. That one doesn’t work. Even with the money spent – you don’t really have the best players. Ok – so, point one – money.

When we look at clever maneuvering and positioning, your manipulation of voting districts and voting laws really are to be admired. And the voting public, whom I’ll get to in a minute, really don’t seem to mind, or actually realize what’s going on around them. Let’s consider that they are so busy working to survive these days, that rezoning districts and such is just too much to bother with. The up here for you is that you developed a plan, you put it into place and it appears to have worked to your advantage. Cheers!

On this last point, I want it known that there are many people in the mindless collective called the voting public that I call good friends and family. Good people who get up every day to do the best they can to eek out a living on this earth and try to have some fun while doing it despite getting punched in the face everyday, just for trying. They carry the wealthy on their backs and seem happy to do it, if and when they get a little piece of the good life to make it all worth while. That said, collectively, the voting public is not very bright – and that is polite. They have no long-term memory. They have no real short-term memory. They are easily distracted by the shiny object and miss the big picture entirely. They are easily swayed by whomever has the biggest sign. More often than not, they just can’t be bothered.

Take my district as an example. We keep electing the same dunderheads over and over, but if you look at their records in congress, they have not successfully introduced or passed one major piece of functional legislation during their entire tenure. They make no waves. They vote the party line. Nobody knows who they are or what they do. The only thing they are really good at is getting re-elected and going to parades and mall openings. Because there is nothing to say they are doing a bad job, or to be more descriptive, any job at all, they are just good guys doing the right thing.

I do not blame you for taking advantage. People should be smart enough and dedicated enough to make informed voting decisions…and actually vote instead of naming each cheek and voting for the one that itches more.  So, the voting public absolutely gets what they deserve. As my grandfather use to say, ignorance is acceptance.

And this is not like the PTO. We can can’t count on a few dedicated people to be able to do the work of many for all. All to the point, you played it right. You swooped in during a lackluster mid-term election with your money and your big signs and your “don’t blame us, we haven’t done anything…really…nothing…in years,” script and got just enough of the right people to the voting place and here you are. Winners.

The big question now is, now what? Will you further deconstruct the middle class? Find a nice war to ramp up somewhere? Remove Obamacare from the face of the earth? Further reduce opportunities for women and the less fortunate? Your options are many, but I suspect your decisions are few…and have already been made. 1) Do nothing. Hey – who can criticize? It works. If you actually do nothing but spew rhetoric and get in the way of others, with patience, you get to win. But I suspect you have your eye on the bigger prize making 2) Take back the White House in 2016. Then you will control the planet and it will be so much easier for you to continue to do…nothing. But it won’t be your fault, or your problem. It’s what the people want right?

I wish you all the very best in the years to come. May all your wishes come true. And again, congratulations! Well played you crafty bastards. 🙂

Your Friend., Java

 

 

Kilt – Part II

“Omahookamobie!”

Kilt jerked awake as he pulled away from a giant mouth dripping with long strands of gooey saliva and filled with long, razor-sharp knives hanging down like fangs that stood above him, poised to snap his head clean off. The movement stirred the slumbering pain in his arm, or what was left of it. And it was only after his darting eyes confirmed that he was out of danger, that he allowed himself to drop his sweaty head slowly back to his pillow.

A slight, soft tap worked its way through the door of his hospital room, not so much a request for an entrance, but rather a polite announcement that the door was opening.

“Yes?” he said.

The door swung wide even before he responded to allow the nurse access. “Good morning, Misteeer…,” she said, searching for the right name and never looking up from her chart. “…Kilt,” she said, almost surprised. “Mr. Kilt. Hello. Good morning. I’m glad you’re awake. How are you feeling?”

The dull throb that seemed to come from the place where his left hand should have been generated new, and probably less than appropriate responses to the question of how he was feeling. Like a man who will be really good at swimming in circles and so on.

“Fine,” was all that worked it’s way to the surface. “O.k. Where am I?”

“You don’t remember?” the nurse asked, looking at him for the first time.

“I’m not sure.”

“Well, I don’t blame you, what with the storm and the amount of blood you lost and all,” she said quickly bringing up her chart and flipping back the first pages. “It says here, you were admitted after falling unconscious to the floor in the emergency room. It says,” she held the s as she flipped a couple more pages, “substantial blood loss due to…,” The nurse slowly leveled the chart to look at him closely. Her glance moved evenly from Kilt’s face to his left shoulder and then to the well bandaged stump of his left arm, cut pretty much at the elbow.

“…dog bite,” she finished bringing her gaze back to his. “Dog bite?”

Kilt lay there breaking a sweat in the heat of her stare. ‘I guess so,” he muttered.

“If you say so Mister Kilt,” she started, breaking the cold surveying look and getting about her tasks. “But if you ask me, that had to be one hell of a dog. Unless, of course, you have always been shy one arm and he just caught the tip,” she paused. “Not to be indelicate to your situation.”

Kilt looked down at his arm and raised it up a bit, despite the staunch objections from the rest of his cells that were working to begin the repair work of his injury. “No, I can assure you that a bit over 24 hours ago, old lefty here was happy as a clam in jam and ready to do whatever needed getting done.”

The nurse, Amanda Pike according to her name tag, checked the bandage, then quickly and efficiently took his temperature and his blood pressure – from his right arm – as unobtrusively as possible.

“Well, Mister Kilt, I can only imagine what kind of animal you were dealing with and what you might have done to him to make him want to bite your forearm and hand clean off.”

“Wait,” he said with a smirk. “What I did? Look, I’m all good with animals. Really. I’m like freaking Doctor Doolittle when it comes to animals. But this, this was…” His voice trailed off before he let himself slip, before he heard him say the words, because then it would make it real. Right now he was happy with dog bite. Hell, even a big dog bite. He had lost a lot of blood. It could have all been a delusion, a big, giant silly manifestation of something that couldn’t be.

“Yeah?” nurse Pike asked. “Are you saying it wasn’t a dog? Because that’s what I suspect. Your arm there, the doctor said it looked it came clean off. What dog can do that? And if it was a dog, you need to tell somebody. Because you can’t have something like that roaming around out there.”

Kilt swallowed hard. He could barely bring himself to muster the thought, much less utter the word. He stared down at the very real injury, throbbing in pain on his left side. Jesus. He slowly shook his head, pressed his lips together to prevent anything from slipping out and drew a deep breath to try and calm the pounding he felt now both in his chest and in what was left of his arm.

Amanda stood next to him, waiting for his response, but as he drew his breath in, she realized this was the end of the conversation…for now. She wasn’t clear on why she had such a yearning to know what really happened out there. Storms always brought in the crazies, and last night’s storm was a doozie.

Instinctively, she reached down to pull up his sheet and blanket and smooth the ends over the edges of the bed. “Don’t worry Mister Kilt. You are safe here. Doctor Blakewood did a great job of fixing you up. Your job now is to get some rest and to start feeling better.” She flipped through the pages of his chart again. “It looks like you are due for another round of pain medication. I’ll be right back.” She turned and let herself out.

Kilt continued to stare down at the stark white bandages. The throbbing pain continued to keep time with his heart, a bit slower now than a moment before, now that the conversation had ended. What kind of dog indeed. He closed his eyes, trying to remember, but not as hard as his expression might allow someone to think. The rain. The lightning. The thunder.

His head twitched with each refreshed vision.

The large, angry eyes. And yes…the teeth.

His eyes shot open and he stared again at the door to his room. No, not a dog. No dogs allowed in this nightmare. But how could he say…

“…dinosaur.”

 

 

Boys – Part XIII

The beast stepped forward and leaned in on Taddy, forcing him to inch back further into Gunther, pushing him enough that it caused the other boy to moan. It’s skin was red and taught like Carlo Farinni’s The Burned Man from 1967, but this…creature was much bigger.

He moved his face close enough to the boy that Taddy could smell the foulness of its breath; a mixture of sour fish, bad milk, garbage and earth. And still, it was the eyes, that caused the boy the greatest amount of discomfort. Deep black and gleaming, yet hollow as if looking into a well where there was no way to tell where the bottom started, if there was one.

“Your friend is useless to me,” the beast said. “He lacks a certain…quality that I require for what I have in mind. He reached his hand forward and placed it on the boy’s head. “I need someone, with courage, someone with strength, someone with…spunk.”

The last word sprayed from the beast’s mouth and into his face causing him to flinch and making his stomach turn, even worse than the time Cody Trentwell spit on him just because he could. The hand on his head sent a trickle of energy through his body, making his skin tingle and his fingers flinch.

“I need someone, who is… ,” the beast continued as he searched and probed. “…healthy. And…you…will…do…nicely!”

The beast moved faster than Taddy could imagine. Before he knew what was going on, his head was clamped between two giant hands. The initial trickle of energy jumped to a sizable pulse that forced him to quiver and jerk. He bit down hard and his eyes rolled up into his head as the energy surge grew and grew.

Once again, the beast felt the energy exchange of the transformation rage through his entire being, albeit slower than before. He never had to initiate the transformation twice in such a short period of time before. And he was already diminished by the ones who came before. If this didn’t work, it would be eons before he would have the strength and the fortitude to try again.

Despite being slower, this new vessel was already proving to be superior, absorbing his energy like a rag soaking up blood.

Taddy twitched and jumped as the heat filled him. The sensation of burning from the inside out was too much. He wanted to scream. He needed to scream but the hands that held his head covered him almost so completely the he could barely move, but less scream. And still, the energy seemed to transform him. The beast before him seemed to diminish in some way. He felt as if he were almost growing…gaining strength against what was before him.

“Sooooon,” the voice of the beast purred, but not like he was speaking. Taddy felt the voice in his own head. His hands clenched as he tried to fight back from inside. A new pain sprung up from his back.

“AAAAAAAAAARRRRGH!”

The beast recoiled, as the flow of energy dropped. Taddy felt the grip on him loosen. Another sharp pain shot into his back. And yet another shot into his thigh and again into his back.

“You can’t have him!” a voice cried, part howl, part shriek. “You can’t have him! He’s broken! He’s BROKEN!”

The beast’s hands released Taddy as he fell backward along the ridge of hole in the backyard.

Taddy dropped to the ground and  onto his stomach. Shaking, Gunther slowly pulled the kitchen knife from Taddy’s back. The blood mixed with the rain that started to creep back into the beast once commanded.

Gunther sobbed as he let the knife fall to the ground. “He’s broken. He’s broken. He’s broken.”

The beast lay on the ground, breathing heavily, yet still clawing at the dirt reaching for the boys. Taddy was right. He was smaller. He looked frail and grey and old. He fought for inches with determination and rage. If he could not transform, then he would certainly take these two to where they would suffer…immeasurably.

Taddy rolled over in great pain to where Gunther sat. “C’mon,” he said grabbing onto his friend. “We gotta go.”

The two helped each other up wincing and groaning, but making progress.

The beast continued to scratch and claw.

Taddy tried to lead Gunther away, but with a renewed burst of energy, Gunther broke free and stood watching the beast.

With what was left of his energy, the beast lunged to grab the defiant boy, but fell short.

Gunther kicked out hard and caught the beast in the head, forcing him to tumble back into the hole from which he emerged.

The ground shook, forcing the boys to steady each other again. The orange-yellow light diminished as the crack sealed leaving little more than a puff of smoke to show it ever existed. And that was soon washed away by a fresh torrent of wind and rain.

– THE END –

Boys – Part XI

The nauseating sound of tearing sod, breaking rock and dripping mud rose up from the center of the backyard.
Beams of bright ogange-yellow light shot from the crack in the earth.

The rumble in the ground made it difficult for Taddy to stand. Using the house for balance, he forced himself up, but held close to the side as if standing on a cliff. As the crack expanded, more light reached into the darkness. It was a little easier to see,a s if his bad movie form before had been colorized. It was also, he gathered, easier to be seen. The minotaur thing stood at near attention behind the make-shift table where Gunther lay barely moving.

With his hands and back pressed against the siding, Taddy could feel the shaking in the ground slow, then fade, then stop. The falling rain, accented by a burst of wind were the only sounds now and that settled in for the moment as the new standard in calm.

He rose slowly, up from the crack in the earth and into the sweet air of the surface leaving the earthen stench of sweat and decay behind him. He breathed in slowly and deliberately, savoring not only this moment, but relishing the promise of what was to come.

The elements of the moment proved to be a minor distraction and with a wave of his hand, the wind and the rain no longer dare enter his arena of destiny. It still came down of course, all around him and with great determination, but where he stood and where he willed, nary a drop would fall. Not ideal, of course. Even moving the rain took extra energy, but with the next transformation so close, it seemed trivial not make the scene as pleasing as possible.

He looked around slowly to find most was to his liking. The Calligar stood at the ready having prepared the altar, haphazardly it seemed, yet functional to its purpose. He stepped closer. His breath caught for a moment at the sight of the new vessel, young, fresh, some would say innocent to the hard ways of the world, and most certainly, the underworld.

He leaned over the boy, raised a large eager hand and clumsily mopped away the residue of rain from the small face, careful enough not to cut the tender flesh with his razor edged nails. Placing his hands on either side of the boy’s head, he moved them in slowly, nearly engulfing the smaller human skull. And from that first touch, he felt the connection, a direct line created.

He threw his head back, taking in another full, fresh breath and released the push, the flow of his energy and his essence into his new mortal body.

The new pressure on Gunther’s head was like a hammer to the skull, igniting once more the splitting pain and fire, but there was something more. He had no words, but he grew hot, burning from the inside out as if he were being filled with lava. Boiling energy surged into him making it harder to breath or to move and yet when his eyes shot open, Gunther began to scream.

With the new light, Taddy watched the new beast rise up from the hole in the ground as if on a small elevator. He stretched hard, reaching full into the sky much like Taddy had seen his dad do after “watching the game” on a lazy Saturday afternoon. He watched it all unfurl before him, while he stood, pressed against the house, just a casual observer waiting for the next commercial.

In his head, a new mantra rose up to consume what was left of his processing power, “OHMYGOD, OHMYGOD, OHMYGOD…” He never really heard the words. The words weren’t meant to form a message. It was just habit tied to panic tied to disbelief that set off the whirring engine of noise.

Then he heard the scream.

Gunther’s voice, ripped and ragged with terror and pain cut through all the noise, leaving his mind vacant and white for one hot second. The next message came in clear as a bell, “Go!” Without another thought, he pulled the kitchen knife from his belt and tore off for the altar.

Boys – Part X

Taddy, in a full-out tear, slipped into the muck as he breached the corner of the house. As he went down, the lightning flare revealed the full figure of a beast he had only seen bits and pieces of so far. The flickering light held off the dark and the sheeting rain just long enough for him to see the thing drop Gunther, quite unceremoniously, to the ground. It pulled its head back and let out a roar that mixed with a crack of deafening thunder.

“Dammit.”

Lingering flashes of residual lightning made the scene across the lawn look like something from a grainy and poorly maintained monster movie. Taddy worked to keep the water from his eyes, squinting and wiping the pelting drops from his eyes as he willed himself to see deeper into the cheap looking animation that played out before him. Gunther rolled slowly to his side mere yards away as…that thing stood over him and howled.

The creature, reminded him of the giant minotaur from Stanley Kaldon’s 1956 classic, Labyrinth of the Damned. Big and ugly and likely surrounded by the smell of death.

The Calligar screamed into the dark thunder, calling his master. It’s head whipped to the left and right, its large black eyes searching for the right tools to make the offering. A large pole stood, stuck in the ground just behind him and next to a small table that would serve him well. It’s massive hands reached out and grabbed the pole, immediately pulling and shaking it free from the wet, muddy ground. He raised it over his head and then, holding it like a giant bat is his hands. He raised the pole a bit more before bringing it down fast and hard.

The pole came down so close to Gunther’s head that he could feel the wind it made followed by the earthy stench of the deep ground. He flinched raising both a dizzying fire in his head and a sharp breath catching pain in his chest. Broken rib flashed through his mind, quickly followed by broken ribs, every last one of them of them for all he knew. The monster stepped away and he tried to raise his head.

Without really knowing it Taddy slipped closer to the outside wall of his house and started inching along the foundation line trying to see and trying to stay hidden. If he could get to Gunther while that thing was distracted, they might make it out of this mess. As best as he could tell, Gunther was alive. He was moving a bit and he held onto that. The rain didn’t help but he was certain he could hear the other boy breathing. Well, wheezing anyhow.

The beast had forced the pole deep into the ground, much deeper than when he pulled it out. If Gunther stood up at tat moment it would probably rise up just above his head. The Calligar had stepped back to grab the flat surface which was, Gunther knew, the bulk of Taddy’s family’s backyard picnic table. He spun and raised the table up, setting the flat top of the table down onto the pole. He began lashing the two together with the ropes and wire he pulled off the nearby drying rack. Once he finished, he stepped back throwing another earth-shattering howl into the rainy sky.

The howl forced Taddy to pull into himself, covering his hears and hoping the sound of the rain covered any whimper his fear and surprise may have generated. A line from Souls on Mystery Island spoke to him, “I’d pay cash money on the dot, to get that thing to shut up.”

Underneath him, Gunther could feel the ground tremble ever so slightly beneath him. How sensitive he was, he wondered in the fog of his head. He didn’t know how the ground could be trembling, especially with all the rains coming down, still…he knew. And the very, very soft tremble began to grow, up into a full shake at least until…

The Calligar reached down and seized upon the legs of the little one. He dragged his prize through the dirt and raised him up before slapping him down upon the table contraption, the…altar, he created with the pole and the small table. Gunther landed hard, like the next cartoon fish in a monger’s shop. He whimpered and tried to recoil from the pain, but everything was pain, there no other way to respond.

Taddy noticed the ground shaking now. He pressed his hands against and into the wet grass to make sure. The shaking grew more intense and the sound of the shifting earth began to roar up canceling the voice of the rain. He looked from the ground back to the alter just in time to see the ground just below Gunther spilt open.

Boys – Part IX

Martin J. Gibbons, 57-year-old house painter.

Randall R. Stibbs, 49-year-old insurance agent and financial advisor.

Alison May Baker-Smith, 37-year-old soccer mom, mother of three.

Cody Timpkins, 28-year-old drummer for the up-and-coming rock band, Syzzle.

Andrew Taylor Corliss, 19-year-old trouble maker and doer of nothing whose friends once called Tack.

The list of recently missing, seemingly disconnected persons, grew slowly, almost deliberately. Each plucked from the burden of their every day struggles with the unknowing intent of serving as the vessel that would bring the dark master to the light of day.

Each one failing the task due to the weak and inadequate construction of the human animal.

He raised his hand before him and turned it slowly, deliberately. The once youthful skin of Andrew Taylor Corliss sat uncomfortably taught and bloated like a too small glove pulled over his fingers and palm. The skin, once smooth and dark, was now pale, dry and covered with liver spots and wrinkles.

He slowly clenched his hand into a fist and watched as the remnant flesh gave way to the pressure, popping and tearing and slowly peeling away as the fist flexed tighter and tighter.

He yearned to roam the lands above again to witness his work first hand, to drink in their tears and savor a symphony of screams. Still, for all that comes with unfathomable power, power in and of itself can be…restrictive. Yet, to effectively do his work among them, he must in essence be one of them. And so the process is what the case demands.

Such a frail species.

He loosened the grip and shook the hand away from him, flicking the last residue of young Corliss from him and toward the decaying pile of what was left of those who came before. A diminished skull from one Martin Gibbons, whose empty eyes stared through the pair of broken glasses resting in a cock-eyed fashion across a shriveled nose. He was strong and outdoorsy, but the process of transference puts so much strain on the human form, that the flesh ages at an accelerated rate. Martin Gibbons, at least the shell of Martin Gibbons, proved the least useful of all.

Mr. Stibbs suffered from an as yet to be diagnosed heart condition, substantially reducing his potential usefulness. Pity, he had a certain look that would have served him well, up there.

The woman was interesting, but again, the transference ravaged the mortal system. She just wore out too quickly for his needs.

Corliss showed promise, real promise. Yet perhaps, in his excitement in finally being able to reach the surface, he probably added more stress to his new form than he might have originally intended. At least until he was top side. The reflection of the once, some might say handsome and brooding young man, seemed to shift all too quickly to middle age and then to the more useless aged and decrepit, then to a pile of rot.

Failures all of them, but in each failure a lesson learned, an adjustment made and an extension of the possibilities that lie ahead. There are no real mistakes in this world, only curiosities…experiments. This time, he would go younger still. Perhaps a smaller and more resilient body would make the transference easier both on the vessel, and on him. So many transferences in such a relatively short period of time had a way of ‘running down the batteries’ as they might say on the crust.

He looked at his clenching fists. He had been charging is batteries long enough. It was time to really get some business done.

Boys – Part VIII

Gunther’s last pure, clear thought was the expletive his mother forbade him to speak…ever. But as the massive hand clenched around him, and his feet left the ground, it was all his brain would allow. His last clear vision was when he wrenched his head around to look at Taddy.

A half a second later, his brain exploded with a searing pain when his head smashed against the door jamb. For another half a second, his head swam in the murk of confusion and pain. A jarring, droning tone echoed within the walls of his skull, just before his head was forced into and through the jamb again, forcing him into darkness.

The ever-dreaded expletive was the first thing to cut through the darkness of his mind as the hand’s grip loosened around him, letting him fall, into the rain-soaked grass. His head throbbed. His chest burned as he wheezed and whistled through a few short breaths. The heavy rain quickly soaked him and nearly choked him as he tried to fill his lungs and piece together how he ended up a bruised and bloodied heap in the cold, wet grass.

Lightning burned a glaring light into his eyes, forcing him to squint hard and even that hurt. And while the light was too much for his aching brain to handle, the flash was long enough for him to see that he was lying between two very large, black hooves.

He blinked hard at the next flash and at the cold rain pelting his face, but again, the dangerous light revealed more. Thick legs, a hulking frame, massive chest, a dripping, snarling snout, horns extending into the dark sky and blood-red eyes that glowed like flames.

As a near deafening crack of thunder briefly erased the drone of the wind and rain, the beast raised its head to the sky and roared.

Gunther slowly rolled from his back to his side with great effort. Expletive.

The Calligar had one job, one singular task – secure and deliver a vessel.

There was no magic or mysticism in the selection. The master conjured the Calligar from the darkest levels of the demon world and the requirements for each new vessel…changed as the strain on the current vessel forced it into a useless pile of decaying flesh.

This time, the new vessel was to be human, male…young.

Boys – Part VI

The boys huddled close in the kitchen, surrounded by darkness, save for the dim light pushing out from the small flashlight Taddy held tight in his hand.

Down the hall and in the front sitting room, someone or something apparently crashed through the large bay window.

With their faces softly lit by the glowing bulb, they looked at each other as they listened carefully, closely, trying to discern what might be sounds foreign from the ever-present whistling of the angry winds, the splashing waves of rain and rolling thunder.

“He’s got asthma,” Gunther dared to whisper, almost mouthing the words.

Taddy looked back at him with his face curled in confusion.

“He sounds like my Uncle Rory. He has asthma.” Gunther started to pantomime the heavy, labored breathing of his uncle with the added emphasis of his tongue hanging out. Taddy nudged him with his elbow and mouthed, “Shhh!”

The sound of labored breathing faded into the sound of rain attacking the windows. For a moment, they could almost believe they imagined the sound of what they believed was smashing of the front window. Then another crash from the room reached them. Of course he had no point of reference having never heard it before, still, Taddy knew it was his mother’s coffee table.

“Graww!”

The noise, a growl or moan, or whatever it was that they had yet to name, forced Gunther to grab on to Taddy’s shoulder tight enough to make the Taddy wince.

Their eyes grew wide. A large, pounding step, or what they believed was a step, sounded from down the hall, then another and maybe a third. It was hard to tell through the thunder, but when a definite fourth step moved from the muffled softness of the front room carpet to the hardwood of the foyer, the game changed. Whatever was in the house was coming their way.

Gunther held on tighter as the boys looked at each other. Their expressions were clear. The message, concise – run – but neither of them could move.

Taddy broke the stare first whipping his head side to side. He doused the dimming glow of the flashlight and pulled Gunther across the kitchen floor to the pantry.

“Thud! Thud!”

At the door, Taddy consciously slowed down enough to hold the panic at bay at least long enough to purposefully get his hand on the knob, turn it as quietly as possible, swing the door open enough to push Gunther inside, step in next to him and close the door softly.

“Thud! Thud! Thud!”

The heavy steps that tread the span of the front hallway in only a few steps, moved into the kitchen, and whatever hit the tile was heavy and sounded like metal on stone.

Taddy kept his hands on the handle of the pantry door holding it tight, just in case. Gunther pressed himself back against the shelves loaded up with canned goods and plastic bags of dried noodles and rice.

“Thud! Thud”

The weight of whatever made its way to the kitchen was enough to grind and splinter the tiles beneath it.

“Graww!”

The roar of the thing gave way to a heavy, rasping breath. Each gasp came long and slow, pulling with it a rumble like waves moving pebbles and sand with each pull.

There was a sniff and a snort and then … nothing.

Taddy waited for a long moment and before he dare take a breath. The only sounds that came to him were the winds, the rain and the low rumbles of thunder.  Almost believing he might have let that which was Video Hell get the better of him, He turned back to where Gunther was. Even in the dark, he smiled as he turned.

Long seconds drifted into minutes and in the absence of any noise in the kitchen, Gunther pulled himself from the shelves. He inched forward slowly and deliberately to find Taddy. He reached forward…

The top half of the door exploded into a shower of splinters. Taddy wrapped his tired hand around the door handle with renewed enthusiasm and a full-fledged panic. He screamed.

Above his head and through the hole, a large hand or claw reached into the pantry, wrapped itself around Gunther. Gunther screamed. The arm quickly pulled back, but Gunther was too big to fit through … on the first try. On the second try, one with clearly more force, the rest of the door and most of the jam exploded into splinters. Gunther’s scream ended immediately on impact.

The heavy feet turned on the kitchen floor, the metal sound on tile creating a high-pitched screech. The thudding sound of the foot falls traveled back up the hallway, into the front room and out through the large bay window.

Taddy stood in the dark. The remnants of the door, the handle he held on so tightly to, shook in his hands. The rain outside grew fiercer as the lightning flashed.

In the fleeting seconds of bright light, Taddy saw the debris littered all around him. In the debris, Taddy saw blood.

Boys – Part V

“Taddy?” Gunther said, in a whisper just loud enough to be heard over the rain attacking the attic roof.

“Yeah?”

“How long are you going to hold my hand?”

“Shut up,” Taddy said quickly letting go. “Just shut up and give me your flashlight.”

Gunther felt around him. “Wait,” he said. “”I thought you had a flashlight.”

“Mine’s dead, remember?”

“Well, I don’t have one,” Gunther said, trying to force any sign of a whimper from his voice.

“Then we’ve got to go get the one my mom has in the kitchen,” said Taddy, still whispering as if the darkness demanded it. “And we’re going together.”

“Right,” Gunther said. “I mean you’re not leaving me up here by myself.”

“Let’s go then.”

Taddy started to inch his way toward the hole in the floor and stuck a foot down through to find the ladder. Gunther inched with him, keeping a hand near Taddy’s shoulder so he wouldn’t lose touch as much for the connection to comfort, as it was a way to accidentally fall down the hole.

“Don’t push,” Taddy said.

“I’m not,” Gunther insisted.

Once on the ladder, Taddy’s instincts took over. He made the climb and descent in the dark thousands of times and was able to slip down into his bedroom in seconds. Gunther followed with a little more caution, but made it to the floor safe and sound.

“I can’t see a thing,” said Gunther. “This is crazy! I mean, look how dark it is. Where are you?”

“I’m over here.” Taddy clapped his hands and reached out for his friend. Gunther found him and the two began to slip their feet along the floor, inching their way to the door.

“Gah!”

A large flash of lightning filled the house, trailing off into the flicker of tiny strobes of light. Any progress the boys made toward adjusting their sight to the darkness was dashed in those seconds of brilliance.

“Boom!”

The thunder followed as they were still rubbing the brightness of the flash from their eyes.

“This sucks!” Gunther shouted. “I can’t see. Now I can’t hear. Really … this sucks!”

“Come on,” Taddy said. “There’s a flashlight in the kitchen. We’ll be there in a hot second.”

They continued their careful movements across the floor, to the stairs and down to the foyer. They inched their way to the kitchen, running their fingers lightly across the wall as a way to stay clear on their path.

Taddy reached the cold tile first. He stepped forward and reached out for the chopping block top of the island in the middle of the room. Finding it, he walked himself around to the second drawer where his mom kept the flashlight and any other number of assorted and likely useless odds and ends. He pulled the drawer and pawed around inside until he found it.

Click.

“That’s it?” Gunther asked, still standing on the edge of kitchen.

A pathetic, whimper of a glow lazily forced itself from the small light. Bringing recognition to Taddy’s face. He smirked and shook the light. It went dark. He hit it a couple of times and the light came back a little stronger, but not much.

“This is all we have unless I can find some more batteries,” Taddy said. “Or, until the power comes back.

“What about candles?” Gunther asked. “Do you have any candles?”

“Yeah,” Taddy said. My mom has a bunch in the…”

Any word Taddy might have said was murdered by another glaring flash of light. The boys had just enough time to look at each other before the thunder followed.

BOOM!

“Ahhhh!” The boys screamed.

“I wish it would stop doing that!” Gunther pounded on the wall next to him.

CRASH!

“What was that?” Taddy yelled. “What did you do?”

“Nothing,” said Gunther, running into the kitchen. “I … nothing. It sounded like window in the front room. You saw me. I was right there. I swear I didn’t…”

“Shhhh! Shush! Hush! Shut up!” Taddy said, trying to cover Gunther’s mouth.

The boys stood in the faded yellow glow of the sad flashlight, listening hard for whatever it was Taddy thought he heard. After a moment, they turned slowly to face each other.

“Footsteps.”

“Breathing.”

While they spoke at exactly the same time, it was clear, they each heard something different.

Boys – Part II

The boys waved from the window as the Reef “Caddywagon,” or “Beef,” as Gunther’s dad called it, drove down Lystrick Street then turned onto Barting Road and drifted out of sight. The growing winds outside marked the event by skittering a small flood of leaves across the road. The crackle and scrape of the dry leaves reached up to them. Their mutual grins spread ear to ear.

“Monster night! Monster night! Monster night!”

Taddy started the chant off slow and low, as if almost a whisper. Gunther joined in while still waving.

“Monster night! Monster night! Monster night!”

The instant the van disappeared the click of freedom was nearly audible. The night was theirs.

“Monster night! Monster night! Monster night!”

The chant grew louder and faster as the boys began to stomp around the coffee table near the center of the room.

“Monster night! Monster night! Monster night!”

Hoots and hollers embellished the base sentiment until the boys were hopping and dancing their way around the room. Their arms shot up and down as they stomped and posed, stomped and posed to the rhythm of their words.

“Monster night! Monster night! Monster night!”

Eventually, in a manic and crazed release of energy, they ran and jumped and hopped and skipped and laughed until they collapsed on the small couch, breathing heavy in the afterglow and the wonder of their youth.

“Oh yeah,” Gunther said. “Monster night at last.”

While this was the sixth monster night for the boys, it was their first where they would be left entirely on their own. At least until their parents worked their way through a “ double date night” out in Beaumont. That would give them at least until midnight, and of course, Gunther would stay over anyway so it was really the best of all possible worlds.

Pulling themselves up from the couch they headed to the kitchen for supplies before settling in up in the attic. Debi Markum had ordered the boys a pizza for dinner and made sure it arrived just prior to their leaving so that the boys would not have let the pizza man know that they were there alone. Taddy tried to protest, saying they might want the pizza later in the night and that they could handle paying the pizza man and making sure the lock was set, but Debi stood firm. It was early pizza or no pizza. The boys agreed that monster night required pizza, period.

In the kitchen, Taddy gave Gunther the pizza and gently stacked a bag of potato chips, a bag of pretzels, a bag of corn chips and a large bag of popped corn on top. He then grabbed the six-pack of Gremlin cola from the counter, a special Halloween-themed brew from Capri Beverages, and perfect for and evening like this, along with a package of Jelli-Strings cherry licorice, a bag of chocolate-caramel Knots, the gum, and, at his mother’s insistence, a large roll of paper towels.

Loaded for bear, they trudged carefully down the foyer an up the two sets of stairs to their new lair in the converted attic.

Taddy’s dad practically made the space specifically for them as his bedroom was so small. The attic space was small too, but provided plenty of room for them to spread out sleeping bags and pillows in front of a large old television that sat under a small round window, place to stash the food, two large benches that converted to boxes for toys and games.

The boys had gathered their potential movie selections after trimming back the list of about 35 possibilities from a list they developed over the last week to about twelve sure to be scary winners.

“Ok, we have to kick off this thing right,” Taddy said.

“There’s only one choice then,” said Gunther, pulling the pizza box to him and flipping open the lid. A grin spread across his face as the pizza was revealed. “Bog Man’s Revenge.”

“We can’t watch Bog Man’s Revenge before we watch Bog Man’s Attack.”

“We’ve already seen Bog Man’s Attack.”

“Then why did it make the list? You said it would be great to watch them both back to back. You said that.”

“Oh, yeah,” Gunther said through a mouthful of pizza. “Then how about The Gore Creature from Nicronus?”

Taddy flipped through the discs. “That works,” he said, but not convinced. “There’s this.” He held up a movie case for Gunther to see.

“The Cult of the Bleeding Eye,” Gunther said in his go to spooky voice. As he pondered the title, he stopped chewing and looked up at Taddy. Without a moment’s pause, they both drew slow breaths.

“WINNER!”

Taddy popped the disk into the machine and hit play. The room filled with the dancing blue light from the large screen. Tiny bits of debris tapped against the small window as if the wind was trying to get their attention.