Tears would have been easy. They were building to the brink of release as a sob hung in his throat waiting for permission to go. But Taddy held firm, dropping the doorknob and fiercely wiping his eyes clear with his now dusty sleeve.
For the moment, Gunther was gone, but his words hung with him. “Do you want to be the crier?”
Even at his young age, the catalogue of monster flicks and horror movies the two devoured gave him a substantial amount of data to work from. Real or imaginary, didn’t much matter.
He knew that nothing good comes to the ones that lose their cool. The hero stays focused. The “crier” just ends up being the next on the list. Every movie they saw seemed to have one. Someone so freaked out that all they can do is sob and yell about their impeding doom as if it were some sort of self–fulfilling prophecy. They got in the way of the ultimate resolution and you were relieved to see them go. The boys suspected even the producers were happy to get rid of those annoying characters for they often suffered some of the more excruciating deaths.
He would not be the crier. Cliff from The Cult of the Bleeding Eye might have said it best, when it all starts to crumble and things seems dire, there are always two things to focus on. One – survival. Two – rescue.
Taddy found the flashlight and clicked in on, grateful for even the dim light that it offered. He stepped through the shattered pantry door and into the kitchen. Crouching low to the ground, he moved the small puff of light over the tiles. The markings settled into the crushed ceramics looked like giant – hooves.
Standing, he made his way to the island, now set askew by whatever invaded their kitchen and began to paw through the utility drawer until his hand brushed against an opened pack of batteries near the back.
He shuddered through a breath of relief and quickly replaced the batteries in the flashlight. Clicking the button, a newly revived and strong beam of white light filled the room. Taddy smiled. Success!
He then ran to the counter and grabbed a large knife from the block of wood on the counter. The sounds that engulfed him were the now familiar sounds of the storm. No more heavy asthmatic breathing. No more stomping and growling.
Taddy burst from the kitchen, ran down the foyer and into the front sitting room. Everything was in shambles. The couch and table were crushed, the front bay window, smashed. Shards of glass and debris were everywhere. The cold autumn wind and sheets of rain whipped at the open space as if trying to climb in.
Taddy dropped back to the front door and slid his feet into his sneakers. He had to remember to tell his mom that this was exactly why he never untied them. He swung open the front door and stepped out onto porch. The fierce storm welcomed him to its realm by nearly blowing him over. The rain was hitting him so fast it was hard to keep his eyes open.
“Gunther!” he yelled, trying to brush the rain from his face while working to shield himself from stinging, cold, wind-charged droplets.
A bolt of lightning crashed hard and bright nearby and the following thunder marked the strike with an earth-shattering rumble. Through the wind and rain it was difficult to define, but out back, or along the side of the house, there was a substantial crack and a crash.
Taddy ran to the far end of the porch, leaping over a couple of the giant hoof prints that had crushed their way into the wood. Even with a renewed life, his small flashlight just didn’t have the power to give him enough beam to see down to the back of the house.
He waved the flashlight urging it to go farther, but it was at its limit.
The now familiar growl fought its way through the storm to Taddy’s ears from the backyard.
Shoving the knife through his belt loop, he grabbed the porch rail as he had done hundreds of times and vaulted over the edge to the increasingly soft, rain-soaked ground. After the initial cold and uncomfortable shock of the icy water draining into his shoes, Taddy tore out for the backyard.