Tag Archives: kids

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

Gunther Reef and Taddy Markum might have been Cardington’s most likely pair of best friends. They met, unofficially, in Cardington Memorial’s maternity ward, when fate placed them side by side in the viewing room after being born a day a part from each other.

They met officially in kindergarten. Due to Gunther’s preoccupation with tiny metal robot toys and Taddy’s incessant drawing, it was three days in before they actually connected. It could also be said that fate played a strong hand in their association, for the occasion of their connection, the spark as it were, was a shared deep, rolling on the floor type belly laugh generated when Cassidy Lombeck dropped her glasses in the class fish tank.

All the elements were there. Both Gunther and Taddy had independently come to the conclusion that Cassidy Lombeck was a snob. She hovered over that fish tank like she owned it. She took great pride in telling everyone everything she knew about aquariums and fish and such because her Daddy told her it was so when they got a fish tank at home. Which, of course, was much bigger and better than this.

Cassidy was holding court at the tank on the morning of that third day. It so happened that the boys were in proximity to each other, not by design, but by happenstance.

First, Cassidy explained the proper way to feed the fish to prevent them from over eating, getting sick and possibly exploding. It was a delicate balance she liked to say and her hands moved with a fluid grace as she demonstrated her technique.

After the feeding lesson, Cassidy explained to her curious onlookers that if you wanted the fish to like you, you needed to talk to them. The best time to talk to the fish of course is when they’re eating because it brings them closer to the surface and they can hear you better. Duh.

Despite the grace she displayed while feeding the fish, her method of establishing communication was less so. The table on which the aquarium sat was sturdy but high and Cassidy needed to step up on a chair to look up and over the edge so that she might share her wisdom with the lesser creatures. When the eager to watch and wanting learn Orlan Phibbs stepped a little too close, a little too fast, he jostled Cassidy, forcing her to jerk in a way that saved her balance and avoided toppling the aquarium, but launched her glasses into the air.

It was enough of a commotion that the boys turned from their respective hobbies to watch as the pair of glasses lifted off the girl’s grimacing face. They floated and spun in mid-air for what seemed like a long slow motion movie shot before descending with a plop into the water. The moment of hilarity was not so much the glasses hitting the water, their long slow, swirling decent to the bottom of the tank, or the look of complete terror and rage that contorted Cassidy’s face.

Rather, the glasses landed in such a way that, from the boy’s perspective, when Rascal, a Black Demecin swam into the lens, it made his already large and bulbous eye appear cartoonishly enormous and somewhat expressive.

After watching the action unfold before them, they turned to face each other, as sometimes people do, they caught each other’s gaze and burst into speechless laughter. The fact that the first outburst forced a glob of snot from Gunther’s nose, which landed squarely on the toe of Mary Hasting’s shoe, bumped the laughter level up from holding your sides funny to silent, hard to catch a breath, tears dripping from your eyes hysteria.

Once they figured out that they lived three slight blocks away from each other, they became virtually inseparable. Not in a “peas in a pod” or a “two sides of the same coin” kind of way. There were definable differences between them. But, their friendship grew from the basis on which it started, a silent common understanding, a way of communicating beyond the standard surface chat, and in many ways, unknown to them at the time, a certain admiration and respect.

On the night of the storm, when it was still just large weather pattern far off to the west, the boys were setting up for a night of monsters and snacks in the converted attic of the Markum house. Both sets of parents were set to be out for the night and agreed, that if they boys could be responsible they could stay alone together without someone to watch them.

Of course they could. They were in the seventh grade now and practically invincible. Plus, as Taddy’s mother pointed out only about fifteen times, the number for Mrs. Krepp’s from next door was on the fridge if they needed anything.

It was all they could do to contain themselves as the cars drove off in the night, with the boys waving vigorously from the large bay window in the Markum’s front room.

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Doll

Despite the waves of rain thrashing the window panes, the brilliant flashes of lighting and the resounding cracks of thunder, Chalmers Elk slept in his overstuffed easy chair. The winds of October howled, making sure that summer knew its time was done, that fall was here and that winter would soon follow.

At the end of his long days, the now 67 year-old Chalmers found very little that could keep him awake once he hit the chair. He still worked full-time at Hatter’s Mill, thanks to a few bad investments and an on again, off again drinking problem.  These days he was finding it hard to keep up. Even as much as a year ago he could run circles around the younger workers. It wasn’t so much his greater strength as it was their lack of motivation and odd sense of entitlement.

And of course, there was the accident. It wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but unless he stood or moved just right, his knee let him know it was bad enough.

He stirred a bit when a louder than normal set of commercials assaulted him from the television. He laid a lazy eye on the screen as the beautiful people reminded him there are tasty ways to increase his fiber intake and many possible solutions for erectile dysfunction. He smirked and faded back into sleep.

As the storm raged outside, an hour passed.

Thump, thump, thump, thump, thump … a heavy pounding came at his front door pulling him abruptly from the arms of his rest. He sat up and listed again. What was that? It could have been the storm. Probably was. Nobody came out to see him on a good day, say nothing about one of the nastiest nights of the year. He started to ease back to reclaim his peace.

Thump, thump, thump, thump, thump.

The clock in the hallway chimed. It was midnight.

Thump, thump, thump, thump, thump.

Chalmers pulled himself up to the edge of his chair. Someone was at the door. It was probably kids. He guessed he was at the age now where kids found it funny to hassle the old guy who lived alone. He stood, nearly giving in to the protest from his knee, and headed to the hallway. He thought about stopping in the kitchen first for some kind of protection, but thought again. Probably just kids.

Thump, thump, thump, thump, thump.

He worked his way down the hall to the door clicking on lights as he went. He turned the porch light on last and as he did, the latest bolt of lightning hit threatening to take all the lights with it. They flickered, but held. The rain spattered window made it difficult to see if anything or anyone was outside.

He unlocked the door and pulled it fast and wide hoping to catch any one who might still be running. He winced again at the pinch in his knee.

As he suspected, no one stood at the door. They ran away. He squinted out into the rain looking for suspects and listening for laughter or footsteps or any clue as to who might pester him on such a night.

It was then he looked down, half expecting to see a smoldering paper bag filled with feces. Pathetic, he thought. But while something was left for him, it was not on fire. It was a damp package, brown packing paper sloppily, or hastily wrapped with a thick piece of frayed jute twine. He nudged it with his toe once and again. Then he looked out into the rain. Nothing. He took the package inside.

Locking the door behind him, another bolt of lightning made the lights flicker. Not one for suspense, he untied the loose knot of the twine and peeled back the paper. Inside was a dirty bundle of blue and white gingham cloth, most from the rain. The cloth was wrapped around something. Dropping the paper and twin to the floor, he slowly unwrapped the cloth.

His hands froze the moment the cloth revealed its hidden secret. They clenched tight as his breath caught and his chest began to tighten. His eyes grew wide. A wave of memory and fear churned through him.

Looking back at him from the dirty cloth was a child’s doll. Small, fragile and dirty, one eye sat half-open as the other seemed to pierce his soul. They stared at each other as he stumbled back against the door. His chest expanded, growing tighter.

“Paisley,” he whispered.

The doll stared. His breath grew shallow, but their eyes never wavered.

He slid down against to door to the floor. Sweat poured from his head. His heart pounded in his chest as if it were looking to escape.

It was Paisley’s doll. He hadn’t seen it in thirty years, and why would he? She was buried with it.

A bright burst of light filled the house. This time, the lights were no match, the house went dark. Still holding the doll tight in his grip, Chalmers Elk passed out.

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Karrington Kipper

Karrington Kipper magnificent skipper,

Skipped all through the night and the day.

She skipped down to breakfast.

She skipped off to school.

She skipped through the garden on her way to play.

 

She skipped over puddles,

She skipped over bridges,

– through showers of April and flowers of May.

She skipped through the dark and the dangerous forest

– a trick that she learned to keep monsters at bay.

 

And if she was lonely or down in the dumps,

Or hurting, or angry, or blue,

Karrington Kipper, magnificent skipper

Seemed always to know the exact thing to do.

Her skips became bigger, or smaller, or louder,

or faster, or slower, or timid, or prouder.

 

She’d skip and she’d skip

and she’d skip, skip, skip, skip,

– until all was as well as it seems.

Then she’d skip off to bed and cover head,

so Karrington Kipper could skip in her dreams.

That’s Crisco!

Jake kicked his heels into the dirt at the base of the tree and leaned deeper into the shade. Biscuit sprawled out on his back across the grass and pulled his ball cap over his eyes to keep out the glaring summer sun. It was another glorious summer day, but after hitting the ice cream truck, riding their bikes through Mrs. McCatanney’s sprinklers and then all the way across Montgomery Field, they found it was a good time for a break.

“We should invent our own language for stuff,” Biscuit said

“What do you mean? Like a code?”

“Kind of, sort of, not really. A code is something that only we would use. Like when we came up with ‘Sparlez.’ We had Charles, who is a spaz, and we mixed them up to make Sparlez. That’s a code. If we made up a language, everybody could use it.”

Jake squinted up the sun then clamped his eyes shut. He traced the remnant aura back and forth under his eyelids. “Oh, you mean like how people say, ‘cool.’”

“Yeah.”

“That’s dumb. Why would we do that? Who would use our language?”

Biscuit rolled over onto his elbow letting his hat drop to the ground. “If it was good enough, everybody would use it. We’d be famous!”

“You’re a dork.”

“Shut up. And you just proved my point. Who do you think came up with dork?”

“I don’t know. Some dork. He’s certainly not famous.”

“Just because we don’t know him, doesn’t mean he’s not famous for coming up with the word. That could be us.”

“You want to be a dork? No, a ‘dork-maker’?”

“No, I want to make cool names for stuff that other people will use liiike…Crisco!”

“You are now a super-dork!” Jake said laughing and resetting his feet. “Crisco is already a word.”

“Yeah – but we can use Crisco to mean something is slick. ‘That’s pretty Crisco!’ That’s pretty slick. See?”

Biscuit rolled over onto his back again and reset his hat.

“How about, gelatinous?” Jake said.

“Hm…gelatinous,” said Biscuit. “Good word, but what’s it mean in our language? Use it in a sentence.”

“Ok.” Jake paused in thought. “The plan to get Jerry Brigg’s Jonathan Tyler rookie card was gelatinous. It means, the plan is good, almost super solid and can work, but it might be a little shaky.”

“That’s not bad,” Biscuit said. “How about, needs soap? Like, you know how Chester Ding always smells like armpit? We could just say, ‘needs soap’ and leave it just like that.”

“That’s like code.”

“I guess, a little,” said Biscuit. “At least until it catches on.”

“I don’t know,” said Jake. “It all sounds pretty paper to me.”

Biscuit sat up. “Paper?”

“Yeah, paper, super thin. Probably not going to work. See what I did there?”

“I see. That’s Crisco!” Biscuit said pulling himself up. “Let’s go write these down. It’s too hot out here.”

“You mean it’s…solar!”

“I guess. Let’s go.”

“Don’t you mean let’s…zoom?

Biscuit straddled his bike. “I think I created a monster.”

“Do you mean you created a…jumpdog?”

“Shut up already!”

“Are you telling me to…pop mouth?”

“Come on! Shut up! Let’s go…let’s Zoom!”