Space Rescue


The jackals are moving in. You can hear their scraping and panting through the walls, as their claws and bumping muscles reverberate through the entire compound. They’ve taken over all but one small corridor, the small band of survivors have evaded them in all but this small bottle neck escape route. Now they are getting wise to the layout of the compound, and circling their targets, honing in on their last victims.
Running with the boy and the 2 women is Sergeant Jack, the sole survivor and leader of Alpha Numeric Squad 7, the trained space marine battalion dispatched to rescue the president’s daughter, wife and young son.
The war had just ended; scaled-back to be more accurate. The territory in which the alien force had ceded kept expanding into the unknown expanse of space. The exploration expedition out into space, the first team to attempt to map this region of space had bumped into an outpost belonging to the hitherto unknown aliens, and effectively kicked the hive. Once an automatic video report had been received of the team’s demise by Head Quarters, news immediately started flooding in of similar attacks from the neighboring colonies.  War had sprung; waged by an alien race whose appearance, at first, looked as that of upright Jackals- only with claws the size of a child’s head, and composed of something more metallic in nature. So much was unknown about the creatures. However, what was known was that they had a propensity for seeking out human life, destroying it, and that they can be killed by the usual means: fire and artillery.

Sergeant Jack rounded the corner with the three survivors in tow. A body lay slumped to the wall here and, while looking behind him, he nearly slipped in the pool of blood. The sight elicited a wail from the two women, and a shocked gasp from the boy. “Let’s move!” commanded Jack.

The nightmare scenario had visited the quiet moon base late at night, and the jackals descended on the stronghold after taking out several others, in a succession of assaults.  Their sequence of attacks could clearly be traced back to the unknown planetoid the first Expedition had stumbled into.
The view from the communication vid screen back at HQ had red lights, lighting up for every distress call sent stemming from the planetoid. The next one in line, the Commander could clearly see was the Moon base of planetoid Trop342, a tropical planet, still yet unexplored. Sergeant Jack and his team of Space Marines were dispatched as soon as it was realized the president’s family were residents at the compound on the moon of Trop342.

Jack was briefed, and the team on the way were briefed by Jack. Upon arrival – looming, over the compound they could see the shadow of what must have been the alien ship. From then on it was a race to meet with, and extract the three targets. Once the telescopic landing corridor sealed  with the main entrance bay, they had filed in. Before having done so, a message declaring their arrival had been sent to the compound, with no further explanation as to the purpose. It appeared routine to Captain Holloway, who had been assigned charge of the moon base compound.

Captain, after receiving his curious orders to receive a team of space marines, and subsequently being told by Jack that the purpose of their visit was confidential, a strange foreboding seemed to creep in through the tight riveted panels of the compound.
He walked into one of many domes, for a smoke.  This particular dome, which specifically recycled air wasn’t intended for smoking, but that’s what the men of the base tended to use it for. There were plants, and trees here- species apparently all that had been taken from the American North East. For Hollowy, having grown up in a quit New England town, it was quite homey. He lit his cigarette and waived out the match, making sure to put it in his pocket. Suddenly a rustling from the bushes about 100- 120 feet away from where he stood rapt his attention. His intuition and the chills on his neck were informative, so was the distant unfamiliar flapping sound off in the distant. It had sounded like a reciprocating fan, scraping or obstructed somewhere. Visibly now Holloway spied the leaves swaying as if being moved through. “What’s that!” he spat at what appeared to be an animal moving through some underbrush.  Memories of back home, and his youth informed his brain of what must be a small body moving about. But he wasn’t back there, and now stood looking at a continually extending silhouette of about 6 feet.
At the same time the inlet ramp was sealed, marrying the Transporter craft with the base, where Jack and his team entered the base. At once Jack asked the on duty personal who greeted him with a salute where Captain Hollowy was.
“He should be here sir.”
“But he’s not,” said Jack, “where is he likely to be?”
The soldier looked a bit nervous for a tick before saying “probably in dome habitat 6 sir.” Jack shot him a queer look, to which the soldier responded to with “for a smoke sir.”
“Smoking’s bad” said jack as he walked forward, then turning on a dime “escort Junior Sergeant Benny here and Frick and Slim, you go to, to this dome habitat,” he directed to the soldier.
“Yes sir!”
“Benny.”
“Yes sir.”
“Inform the good Captain what we’re up against have initiate evaluation procedure.”
“Yes sir,” Benny then looked at a wide eyed and glistening soldier who jolted out of his daze to briskly walk in a direction.
Benny and the two soldier followed the moon base soldier. “The rest of you,” Jack directed to the remaining marines, “come with me.”

The rest follows just as you’d expect.

Presently, Jack reaches the Transportation Craft. After their arrival the door that lead to the extension connector was locked. Jack turns to the keypad panel set in the wall and punches in the standard code. The door, which is bifurcated down the middle, jerks suddenly but then halts- a hitch pitched straining sound can be heard from within the wall; gears apparently jammed up and a belt spinning wildly. Lights flicker down the hall from whence they came, as a scratching and scrambling along the path can be heard on the metallic floor. Jack looks in this direction, with his large gun, strapped over his shoulder pointed as well. The beast emerges, grimacing in the shadow and flickering light- its body shiny and red. Its elongated mouth filled with fangs starts to open slightly as its body appears to have been fixed tensely in a prone position. Jack let’s a fire ball blast of incessant bullets into the monster. The bullets shred through the head and neck as it howls a horrific shriek.
The women and the boy cower, huddled in the corner next to the malfunctioning door- on screams during the barrage of gun fire.
Once the eruptions from the gun had stopped, and the monstrous, black bloodied beast had skunked to the floor, a quiet set in for a mere few seconds. Wide eyed in horror, and clutching at each other in wild anticipation. Jack, perking his ears up and looking in the directions of the sounds, could hear the by now too familiar scramble of claws and bulk of the monsters elsewhere. Then, the sound faintly echoing down the hall, in between FTTZZZ sounds from the broken light fixtures.
“After all that noise, you can be sure more are coming.”
Sobbing erupted from the young woman clutching her mother and brother on the floor. Jack looked down at them, then sorrowfully to the floor, then to the door only slightly ajar, but not enough- not even to fit the small boy through. He then looked at the key panel on the wall, with anger, “C’mon!” He erupted while at the same time raising the butt of his gun about to strike the panel.
Suddenly the two sides of the door sucked into the wall on either side, as the four felt the rush of air into the vacuum of the corridor. Not a minute too late Jack ushered the family into the corridor just as three more beasts threatened to emerge from around the corner.
Opening the door to the ship, all filing in and closing it behind them Jack then rushed to the controls in the front of the ship. A flash of memory occurred: the pilot Jim inside the cafeteria getting slashed in half by an exceptionally large variety of the monsters.

Jack began manipulating the controls as the three rescued party watched in rapt attention. “Look!” The mother screamed, pointing out the windshield of the ship at a gathering mass of the beasts just before them.  Then, thumps from the sides of the ship, followed by faint scratching.
“Here goes everything,” Jack quipped before jerking back a lever, sending the ship into the air.  “Get into a seat!” Jack yelled to the huddled group over his shoulder, as he himself latched a seat belt harness.
The woman helped the boy into a harness, then the girl and herself. “Good,” Jack said right before punching the after burner.  G force thrust them back into the cushions of their chairs as the left the moon’s atmosphere.

Then, once floating through space jack set the coordinates for Head Quarters and initiated a scan of the outside of the ship. It came up nothing. Presently, Jack sighs with relief, wipes his brow and slouches in his chair. The mother, young girl and boy in the back unbuckle their harnesses and look appreciative at one another, tears in their eyes.

Presently, Jack queues up the caller, and taps the preset for command control at HQ. The call loads. Jack settles in, and prepares his summation of events in mind. The three loading dots continue to bounce, while no personal appears on screen. This has never happened before, it occurs to Jack. There are personal manning the communication stations around the clock. What he was looking at, to his mind, was an impossibility.

He continued to wait fifteen minutes- when suddenly an emergency screen appeared. The only message there being was: You are Being Directed To Terrestrial Space.

This Jack recognized from training, more than twenty years ago. For this to occur, he inferred, …he decided in that moment he didn’t have the energy, or required sleep to deduce, or process on a personal level, the possible explanation. The one, however, being readily surmised, was that HQ had been taken out, which meant the entire Confederacy had been compromised.
For now, Jack decided, it was time to sleep- as the Transporter drifted through space.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

The EXHIBIT

exhibit

The line of mothers went around several blocks for the sign-up; some hadn’t slept the night before because their little one was screaming excitedly about the event into their ear. “DON’T FORGET!”

It went fast however, they all had filled out the form, printed off the internet and simply had to hand the piece of paper over.

Some signed up themselves, showed up with their papers- a guardian’s signature wasn’t needed since children gained full rights.
The available slots were filled rather quickly as the line filed-in and out.  Plastic figurines of this year’s monster was given away, the movie had already been seen by every single child in the country, and everyone was a fan.

Then it was done, and invitations were sent.

Samuel Cain sat by the door all day, in his mother’s 15th story apartment when the mail light lit red.  He sat frozen.  His mother came hurriedly over “oh boy Sammy,” she said as she swung open the door, and left.
A scene starring Prixel, one of the main characters in the last movie, had her head crushed, Sammy remembered vividly. She had a doll in her tent, he happened also to recall.

At once the door swung back open and mother was dancing an envelope side to side in her hands crouching to Sammy’s height. Sammy remained sitting, recognized the glee on his mother’s worn face and smiled.

“Here it is Sammy!”  The anticipation was moot since every child was accepted as a participant in the yearly event.

“You…MADE IT!” She jumped slightly up and down to show excitement. Sammy stood and opened his mouth, raised his eyebrows and let out a silent nothing. She put the piece of paper down on the counter in the kitchen area, and walked off to the other room.
The tv shown a cartoon green figure, slicing and dicing with his claws and metal horns that shot out of his shoulders.

A week later Sammy joined who he recognized as kids from his building in line to participate in the yearly “Exhibit.” More kids he had recognized from around his neighborhood were also there.  It clicked for him that this must always be the way;  the children in the movies always automatically knew each others’ name.

The warehouse was on the outskirts of the city. Large, made of metal,  rusted, over grown in spots outside, in the parking lot where nature has reclaimed. A large surrounding parking lot cracked with grass, and a burnt out car rest just off the main entrance, where, he and his mother now waited in line. Holding her hand as his mother chatted with Dorothy’s mother, who he presently waived to. She eked out a smile, that wrinkled the sides of her eyes – she waved back with a doll in her hand. “Just like Prixel” he laughed. She laughed too.

Sammy remembered Dorothy telling him that Prixel was her favorite after all. Sammy showed her his bike, as his one object he was allowed to take in with him.

Inside the massive warehouse rest a large metal box, on criss-crossed beams.  Lining above the walls of the warehouse were windows that went all the way around.

Tents lay scattered throughout the warehouse floor, outside the large box of which the officials termed “the museum.”
The Official who took the paper once Sammy and his mother reached the entrance said he would be escorted to his tent, that he was assigned to. It was a shared tent, he was told, and his tent partner was a boy who lived in his building named Jared.
Jared was the closest Sammy had to a best friend. This excited him, and his face lit up. The Official saw this and smiled broadly. “I knew you would like that,” he said.

They were led-in to the great warehouse. It was mid day and the sudden shade of the place forced Sammy’s eyes to adjust rapidly.

Jared was already there at the tent, and, not surprisingly too brought his bike, which Sammy parked his right next to.
Sammy looked around for Jared’s mom, who must’ve dropped him off and left already. Jaredy presently looked up, saw Sammy and tightened his lips to a smile, got up to walk over to him.

The Official who escorted the both of them in, finished up talking to Sammy’s mother, who  leaned down and planted a kiss on Sammy’s forehead “I’ll be watching. Bye.”
“Bye,” Sammy replied before turning to his friend and excitedly waddling over to him.

“Everyone is now here!” a booming loud speaker suddenly broke out “Its time, for THE EXHIBIT TO BEGIN!”

Sammy looked toward the large warehouse door, as it began closing – the mothers waiving, slowly faded to silhouettes, until disappearing behind the great door. Then the big hard metal door clamped shut with a reverberating bang.

Sammy and Jared talked all night. They reminisced about the time they had shared in the building they both lived in, and riding bikes in the parking lot. As the full moon, seemingly peering-in through the window, shone down brightly. They spoke of the intricate bus routes they’ve taken in the past, miraculous, it seemed whenever they would actually make it to their desired destination.
Abruptly the boys caught a glimpse of a figure in the darkness, just away from them, emerging from the darkness beside the warehouse wall , lurking. A man, they could see, in an old filthy dress coat, stopped, and turned toward them. The boys were sitting up, straining on end, looked on, adrenaline pumping. The man turned his head, toward them, his edges illuminated by the lunar light, enough so though to make out his dour expression, and middle to later aged face. He then slowly turned back toward the trajectory of his path and shuffled away.
A moment of silence had passed when Jared remarked “that’s an old kid.” To which Sammy broke out in raucous laughter at.

The next day the large vid screen shown what they were to encounter inside the “museum.”

“Inside the museum, as you can see there is a platform, and ladders. Bathrooms are located on this platform on the western side.”
Images of a large, shiny new appearing steel room, with diamond pattern floor and railing leading all around the cat walk second tier. On this second tier platform, on the western side of the square was one large bathroom, inside, the vid screen continued to show, four stalls and one large water basin.

“As you see, breakfast is waiting for you on the killing floor,” on screen, a table covered in fruit and pastries, eggs and bagels and other breakfast fair lie waiting on a table on the first floor of the museum.

Just then, the doors at the top of some stairs flicked open, sucking into the walls on either side of the entrance leading to the killing floor.

After breakfast, each day, Sammy and the other children found that there was nothing to do in the large space allotted to them, besides, sit, wait and interact socially. Images flashed on the enormous vid screen showing the cocoon, hidden somewhere within the compound, where, the dreaded monster was to hatch.
They’re whole lives they, each one of the children, saw the movies as they were shown on the public vid network in each of their apartments.  Each time, the children were brought to the compound; the cocoon was eventually found, always too late. The plot had always run the same course, with different variables here in there.  Different characters of course were presented, of whom the viewer was welcome to relate to.
Sammy thought of himself as Arnold. Arnold in the latest “Exhibit” movie had the most screen time. He lasted the longest, as it were. Until, he was at last, the sole child survivor. Always at this point in the movies, aside from scrambling about to recover the green orbs, which extended their time and paralyzed the monster momentarily, an option to escape would appear.
In the last “Exhibit” the escape option appeared in the center of the killing floor. The bodies of the slaughtered children lay strewn around it, floating there in mid air seemingly. It was shown to Arnold on the large vid screen, that could be seen from anywhere in the warehouse. It was a framed photograph of a man, always, in the movies it was a cherished possession from the character’s history to bid the child to go recover. In hopes of escape, Sammy recalled vividly, the boy teary eyed, came out from under a pile of bodies and a collapsed tent, when suddenly the monster who had camouflaged itself against the wall bounded toward him. He ran, but was taken down before he could get to the stairs leading up to the museum, killing floor and thus escape.
Sammy’s mother let out a “oooohhh,” at the moment, the scene in the movie. “Too bad.”

Sammy already knew what his “bait for escape” would be. A ring from his uncle, given to him.

The bathrooms, after several days were disgusting, excrement everywhere. Fights broke out frequently. Children were dirty.
Jared wondered aloud most nights, contemplating the logistics of the place. How did they replenish the food on the killing floor? How is it the cocoon just appears right before its hatching?

Sammy didn’t know.
Every night the inevitable deaths plagued Sammy’s dreams. All he could do was assure himself he would not be one of the first to go, once the killing starts.
As the day approached, Sammy fell silent along with the rest of the children. No longer did anyone look at each other in the face. They became despondent. It was obvious the most optimistic ones, in the movies, were the ones to survive the longest – knowing this however did little to lift anyones’ spirits.

Sobbing was frequent. Most of the boys had explored the whole place by now.
Then, the green digital numbers appeared on the vid screen: 20:00. Quickly changing to 19:99, and descending.

Later, a boy ruddy-faced and smeared with built-up dirt, with tear treads marking his cheeks ran up to the tent of Sammy and Jared sometime early morning, before sunrise.
Sammy and Jared lurched awake, and alert to the rustling at the tent.
They saw Jinksy, a little boy they both had played games with in the past, panting out of breath, breathing out an incoherent, urgent, and dire apprise.

“I found it!” he breathed out, wide-eyed and alarmed.

They three went to it. In the scant moonlight they could see it undulate underneath one of the ladders that led up along the north side of the ware house to locked doors, around twenty feet up. They stood around it, feet balanced on the beams, holding onto the ladder;  the three of them, around a large glistening, beating sack. Green and gross, stuck to the wall. Jinksy held his hand out toward it, Jared said “Don’t!”
“OW!” Jinksy spouted, retracting his hand, blood running from the gash.
“Don’t you remember? They’re spikey.”
“oh yeah.”

It made a wet jostling sound, as they watched,  it vibrating against the reverberating sheet of the wall.  After so long, the three boys clambered down the ladder.

Sammy looked up at the vid screen to see the latest time, it read: 01:20.

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Cliff Wretched’s Escape: Part 2

clifwretchpart2
(Read Part 1)

I stood on the precipice. Roiling below was the smashing ocean, clapping together and sinking into vast sloping canyons before filling again with yet more harsh, unforgiving ocean.  Grasping onto the eroded thick metal shards to my either side, I stood there on the edge, balancing myself. The oxidized, rough surfaces threatening to tear the flesh of my hands had I gripped too hard in an attempt to catch myself for losing balance. Precariously I balance the soles of my shoes on the enormous, rusted metal while peering down, dreadfully, at my fate. 
Standing in the frame of a huge exit wound, as it were, a breeched hull to Rust City, I prepared myself to jump. What had created this hole, what have torn into the giant metal wall I have no idea. All I concerned myself with was escaping the Floating City, or what us  wretcheds  referred to it as: Rust City.
Rust City, lay afloat, unwavering, solid, in an endless ocean of crashing waves attempting to scale its walls and capsize. But the gigantic heap remains, seemingly immobile out in the middle of an ocean of nowhere.
And there was I, heart pounding out of my ears, feeling the mist rush up at me from huge waves smashing apart against the massive solid wall of the city beside me.  The opening I stood in spanned about the size of a traffic tunnel. It looks almost, I imagine the result of a ballistic missile would cause. This thought, and being surrounded by all this torn metal reminded me, once again, of my fleshy, blood-pumping fragility. Here I was, to build up and gather the courage to plunge myself into suicidal uncertainty; to jump into the sucking, undulating waves of this ocean abyss in hopes of escape. This is, which, I finally resolve to do.
Surging with adrenaline, I am to direct all energy to my front- to finally push myself over- and so, waving my arms in a grand wheel motion from back to front, bending my knees for leverage and then pushing with all the gathered might- off, I push with the soles of my feet. Out, air bound I leap. The action is performed as atmospheric pressure stops and gravity slows time down. Arching mid dive, and pointing cupped hands straight forward, together before penetrating the deep blue wave; as if through the head of a diamond. Smashing violently into vast bottomless blue nothing.

Momentarily I am all consumed by a cosmic bubbling void.

No thoughts now, besides those of the hindbrain, primal instinct, encoded for survival. Desperate reaching, and shoveling back with my extended mechanical arms.
This went on for as long as I can remember. Nothing now matters besides reaching an uncertain surface, gasping at air and exerting everything I had went through the pictures of my mind. My every bit of energy, fiber of body and mind went towards that island.

The island, the one I had stared at for a good, long while before taking the uncertain plunge, stood fixed out there off- in the distance. A minuscule mossy lump rising out of the ocean.  I had made my way down there winding sewage corridors there in the bowls of Rust City. I was on sewage duty, to sand down barnacles that had been let-in- and to file back the rust that had built up. Telling my partner for the day, his name was either Abiff, or just Biff- I can’t remember that I had to take a restroom break, to which he replied “yep” and I set down my rig. I sloshed my way through the winding tunnels until coming to where I had been told the breech in the hull was, and there it was. Gaping, and open to the naked sea.
I crawled my way through barnacles, dried and stuck, some patches slimy, nodes for me to steady myself on as I reached the terrible metal, wrenched, gash -as a way to avoid the gruesome cleaver-like shards twisting out at me at odd angles. I place my feet steadily, mindfully onto the layered metal.

Off in the distance it sat.  A miniature plastic island. It appear so unreal, as an island get-away would in a commercial on the vid screen.

After jumping, I went for a ways, peaking every once in a while ahead, at the distant beach- my destination. Until, black.  I could exert myself no more.

I could feel it all around me, looping long thinking fleshy ropes around me. Probing me, latching here around my waist- tightening and squeezing, others simultaneously around my thighs, shoulders neck and underarms.  Long, undulating tentacles firmly loop their winding way around me as I lay flaccidly afloat just under the surface of thinning out waves. I only remember the scene, in hindsight, and even then vaguely.  Some snuggly wrapped me, others severely coiled to me.  Finally, the snug ones loosen and fall away, the tighter ones, around my waist, neck, wrists and thighs do follow suit slightly at first, then all together disperse from me.

After an eternity of this, I wrench open the eyes to a black abys marked by flash points bursting and then shooting off electrically. This bright lightning never seizes to surge, to gather into different nodes in a network only to burst again. Layers upon layers of this creating a panoramic strobe of galactic mini explosions. This landscape of sharp bursts of neuron bundles spark envelope me, it all occurs so rapidly and lingers so long that I can’t concentrate, nor track the network of veins or attempt to notice patterns. It seems to be at random, and is too much for my comprehension at the time. flash- flash-flash –spread- spread gather- flash again. A nervous system seemingly.

My sense, over stimulated and my eyes go into an epileptic flickering seizure, as the electrical storms begin to move away. They appear inches away, then miles- until they fade out to the farthest reaches of this nether space to black. I am given to the sensation of being wrapped in a gauze, paralyzed and placed in the back row of a vast auditorium.  This goes on for how long I cannot recall.

My senses find their way slowly infusing back. I awaken to the gentle white noise of ocean waves nudging me back. Very twisted and bent in on myself, rolling waves shove me then, up along the wet matte of the lower beach.  The sloppy mess of beach and frothing water all round me. Clinging to me, is seaweed, affixed to my half sopping jumpsuit here and there, not tentacles, but coiling green and slimy rope wound round. The top of my head burns, and my shoulders are stiff, my whole body aches. I start to shiver as I find my back and upper half and dry and caked with sandcakes, my lower half licked by undulating arriving waves.  I’d been washed-up! Apparently, it would seem for a while, having sunburned and beached half submerged, the undulations having created a cavity here in the sand shaped like me.

I pull myself upright, painfully. I then peel off the seaweed, brush off the dried along with the wet caked sand, and empty some snails and sea shells from my open pockets.

Presently, I stand on a beach that extends in either direction, indefinitely- the edge ending in mirage producing wavering hot air. To the edge of the beach is thick forest, palm trees and bushes, inside is pitch black- a mysterious shadow space under a canopy. Off, above the trees is a distant fine mountain.   The air is breezy, spiked with a daggering chill, the sun dampened by some hovering overhead clouds, waits to punish me anymore, but its heat is felt as well.

I had made it. Standing there in sand, taking inventory and stock of my surrounding- I had almost forgot to celebrate my accomplishment, never mind my survival.

And so I smile. I look out now onto the ocean, expanding off to the edge of the known world. I put my hand up as a visor to shield my eyes from the sun now making its appearance, raining down its harsh rays.  Looking now,  out here, light gray and dull, and having the appearance of an upturned pin hammer, tiny like a trinket, distantly laying on the edge of an ocean, the impossible floating city.  The I Rust City.
I stand there, for a long, introspective moment, to allow the immensity of the scene to take root in my comprehension.

I see a flash, a burst of light like in my dream prior, at the top of the needle that sprouts out the middle, the citadel as it catches the sun ray and flashes off a spark. A wink.  The rest of the prison there rests, stationed immobile, like a tomb as the ocean lays flat for it at this distance.
I let my shoulders down, and draw in a deep breath.
It’s over now, and it had at least become time to consider my next actions. And so I decided to walk, perhaps take in the perimeter around before attempting to penetrate into the mysterious forest.
I shuffle forward, the movement making me I feel creaky, muscles strained and cramped. “Errggh,” I moan, as I walk along. Though painful, at first, my energy was up. Thereupon realizing this my stomach growled and turned, the indication I well noted.

I decided to walk for what I could measure was about ten minutes, after such time I would make every effort to forage for sustenance. This thought dissipated, however, as soon as I saw ahead, an unexpected sight. Wavering in the hot air, what I ascertained to be, rationally,  a mirage. To the mind it appeared to be a figure. At first, the aberration was apparently still, then moving slightly- animated, I had decided, only by imagination. After more steps, the figure remained, I projected upon it a standing structure. Wavy heat continued to obscures what had evolved from mirage to be physical structure, larger than a man. Sturdy, and upright, a black standing figure, off in the distance down the long stretch of the beach. As I continued to stare, it became quickly apparent with some excitement, that, the figure was making its own minute progress in my direction. And I its.

Suddenly, my foot strikes something hard in the sand, and I stumble forward, falling down. I look back to see what it had been.  And there, I see resting in the sand, a black stone the size of about a brick. From the feel of the impact I decide it to be adamant, perhaps even partially buried in the sand- as it hadn’t seemed to budge from its spot. Looking intently at it now, while I rubbed my smarted toes, I notice it crackled here and there, all over in fact, and within these cracks the color red. The look of it was almost spongy in appearance; as I continued to gaze, momentarily absorbed int he mystery of it, I see it almost slightly move, expanded out, and then retract. I realize then, just as the throbbing pain in my foot reminded me of my situation, that, this is what all inanimate objects do when attending to them with intense tunneled focus for so long.  Quickly my sense come back to me and quickly I turn my head, and attention, back to the approaching figure.
Now, getting up, I continue on my way for the anticipatory meeting.

I continued to walk toward it, staring in rapt attention, at which point it became clear that the thing was not only a figure, but too had been moving my way.
Gradually it formed- a human shape,  holding a staff. Then, a female (judging by height, shoulder and hip width) , pale skin, little cloths (if any) and shoulder length hair. All this arrived to my vision gradually.  Heart pounding, legs moving faster carrying me toward what had moved out of the wavering heat to incarnate as a girl, who, certainly  at this point wore little clothes. In fact, I could see now, what constituted as covering was very little indeed,  just a hanging, waist strapped loin covering that looked as if fabricated out of tanned animal hide. She was nubile, being no more than 25 years in age.
As we approached each other there in the sand, she looked upon me apparently in astonishment, as I imagined I must have looked upon her. Mouth agape and wide-eyed. Her brunette hair picked up and flickered in the breeze sweeping in from the ocean.
We both stopped then, approximately ten feet from each other, mutually perplexed, apparently, and unthinking; too awe struck to even attempt to fathom the other’s circumstance.
Here beset upon me was what appeared to be, in all likely hood, a savage island dweller. I looked upon her dirty face. Her white sand breaded tan skin. Her expression of completely abandoned shock at my arrival. Guarding nothing, loosely holding a staff in her nakedness.
As she too examines me- I blink to my senses and attempt to communicate.

“Hi” I utter, and as I do she flinches, automatically as a point of instinct it would seem,  angling then her spear in a lazy daze. I contemplate her spear. The arrow head fit into the notched end of a stick the length of her own body, which must have been no more than 5 feet.
I hold my hands up in gentle protest. “I mean you no harm,” is the cliché Tuesday night matinee vid feature line I deliver. An automated response as my brain scans for viable options based on past experiences. Of which there is no precedent.
I stand my ground and repeat my hands-up gesture, she responds by maintaining her grip on her pointing spear and continued her wide-eyed stare. Her eyes are crystal blue, her breasts bare, and she’s fit with toned muscles, adequately fed for a girl, and comely. Sizing her up like this of course stirs the imagination, fueled with red blood. My forebrain determines it wise, however, to be suppress such stirrings at this juncture.
“I won’t hurt you,” more lines come out of my mouth. I contemplate the best course of action- I figure, rightly, that I could physically take this small girl and extract the weapon from her; or, I could submit to her as an authority by kneeling and see what happens.

Through the course of holding my hands up palms open and flat to her, and attempting to intimate through empathetic facial expressions I see, after a while her face unchanged.  She appears to be in state of such unprecedented shock that she fails to exert any intimidation with her stance, does not shake her spear, or even grip it tightly. She in fact has not even eeked a sound out of her wide open mouth, or shut those rather large blue eyes for a second.  I stand, looking quizzically and see her for what she is. An awestruck savage girl who is out of her wits.
I stand upright, firmly and walk slowly over to her. Meanwhile she attempts no sudden moves and simply watches me do it. I reach out and grip her spear as she releases it to me.

Now in possession of the spear I look down upon the dirty, wild creature, holding it in my left- I take my right forefinger and nudge her petite chin with my forefinger. Instantly her eyes shoot farther open and a rush of blush brightens her cheeks. Her eyes glitter and dance while holding my gaze and suppressed thoughts are reintroduced as she, almost instinctively it would seem moves her face in toward me, closer to my own.
‘My god,’ I think, ‘what is’- and before I can finish this thought she pushes her face in a sudden jolt toward my own, her lips gripping my own.
We stand there pushing into each other, intimately kissing.

She then removes herself from me and looks upon me once again momentarily. Thoughtless and gathering my own thoughts, I respond in kind- until she lunges her hand out and grabs mine. And then she is a flurry, turning suddenly on the balls of her feet carving sand below her she pulls me suddenly with a lurch. Her dainty hand gripping mine pulls with all her bulk, which I feel now. I run behind her for a while, admiring her backside and, as thoughts begin to thaw, faintly celebrate my surreal good fortune. This is until, after several yards gained, I grow annoyed with the uncertainty and lack of communication, whereupon I throw her hand away from me and stop in my tracks.
She turns instantly.
“I demand you tell me where you’re taking me.” By way of answer she once again lunges at me, pushing up from the ground with her feat in a jump. Her small frame hits me, as her arms fling around my neck and her warm, soft red lips are reintroduced to my own. We stand there in a romantic embrace, our blood circulating to the surface of our bodies to warm the other’s. She releases me with a wet smack for a momentary gaze, as I realize I had dropped the spear in favor embracing the girl’s smooth skin.  She once again grabs my hand and turns abruptly. Realizing I had no longer the spear in my hand I turn to pick it up with my left, free hand. This stopped the girl in her tracks as I effortlessly lashing her back, her grip on my hand unyielding. Lifting back up now with the staff in hand I am once again greeted with a kiss, and she pulls on my hand- yanks now. Though, having felt my power compared to hers, and having experienced already the discomfort of her insistence to drag me running to an unknown location, I felt compelled to walk.
I sturdily, and firmly walked- more of a stroll, as she yanked and pulled on my hand, her naked feet sliding back forming skids and trails in the sand along the way. I smiled at her ceaseless effort. We made progress as she amused me to no end. She gritted her teeth as she pulled and screwed up her pretty face, she turned around from time to time to grab my wrist with both hands- grunting the whole way, falling down, her breasts swaying from the effort.
I was in heaven I decided- I was dead and incarnated into a clone of myself. This wasn’t reality- this was a masturbatorial fantasy I had manifested subconsciously and was to play out for eternity.
I experienced corporality to its fullest extent. I gripped the grooved wood of the spear, I contemplated my legs.  I looked upon the struggling girl before me insistent and resolute in her dangling loin cloth covering not her shapely tanned thighs.

Soon thereafter as I was brought further, we came upon presently a little village on the beach in a cul de sac formed out of the tree line. The girl kept me hidden from tree to tree along the forest line however, peering around the corner of each one until pulling me in a rush forward, just to hide behind the next and repeat the maneuver. I could see huts, now, bundled together with sticks with roofs and smoke stacks sprouting out of each. I could also see figures off in the distance, either carrying something or tending to a fire. The girl now yanked me hither onto a worn path through the woods. We promptly came to a fork at which she darted left with some urgency. I smiled at this and even laughed a little- to which she responded at this point with a small savage growl close to my face. I pulled her in for a kiss, she accepted the brief respite as she pulled me further along the way, until, presently we came out of the shadow of the canopy to a clearing near the entrance to a hut. She pulled now with all her might toward the entrance.
I had noticed no one around. Soon, standing inside the cool shadow of her, I assume, hut, she untied a flap that fell to cover the open portal. She then turned to me, wild.
I looked, to my right for a wall to set the spear against, and saw cabinets. Actual cabinets too. Manufactured by rotary saws and wood glue and nails- complete with porcelain knobs. Before perusing any more of this thought I was set upon by the girl, who had rushed and lunged toward me once again. I felt her soft hair spray me- firmly pressing her lips on me, I grappled her lean frame. We kissed hotly while she folded her arms around to the back of my neck. I grabbed her buttocks and picked her up.

All the while realizing, that, I must’ve been dead. Here I existed now, in a phantasmagorical dimension. Of course these thoughts were side-lined- the inevitable conclusion to them was evident: I was simply to enjoy myself.
I place the girl down as she frantically kissed every inch my face, onto the counter top- tiled, and next to the basin of a sink, with a faucet.  These things- I decided, I will make every effort to ignore and effortlessly integrate into the living fantasy I currently found myself in.  Soon she was grabbing at me, trying in vain to navigate my jumpsuit. I obliged her by locating the zipper, and- before I was able to remove my wrappings, we were suddenly interrupted. I heard a heard a high pitch mouth noise, and a clicking-also by mouth. And I turn, to see, yet another naked savage girl. Wildly flailing her arms at the girl in my own arms, of which she then extracts herself from to jump to the dirt floor and, with her back to me braces herself up against me.  The other girl, now, getting louder, staring suddenly from me back to her- catching my eyes. She could very well have been the girls sister, though a little taller, and hair lighter.

The other girl suddenly moves in as she and the girl argue. The girl, in response to the other girls increase in volume pushes her teeth together, and with her tongue and O-shaped lips “Shushes” the other girl.  Presently, the she grabs the other girl by the hand, who looks up at me searchingly, and is taken to a corner of the room- where they murmur to each other excitedly. They continue to talk incomprehensibly, while occasionally the looking over at me, the other girl doing so more apparently interested than the other, at which point the girl gathers the other one back to emphasize her points. They go on like this for minutes.
This is when, I decide to contemplate the contradictions present all around me. The unlikelihood of the entire scenario and of course, the reality of my situation. I open the cabinet doors over the sink, empty. I try the faucet, which does nothing. I work my way around the cabinet doors which reveal nothing, until I step on something that yields underfoot, like a soft spongy material. I lift my foot to discover what looks like a root- though, again, soft and red in color. As I look I can see it expand out of the dirt floor as if taking a break, and then shrinking again- and then repeats.  I look up at the girls still arguing, animatedly in the corner- beautiful and naked. I kneel to further inspect the root. It expands and retracts before me. I touch it with the tip of my finger to find a warm- fleshy item- alive-seeming. I quickly jerk upright.
*KERCHUNK* the spear falls to the floor. *KERCHUNK* Looking up, in the direction of the noise, I look at the larger, closet-sized cabinet. It’s the long vertical one, where one would store a broom. *KERCHUNK* I notice now, the door abruptly opening slightly as if a vibration, and slamming again. *KERCHUNK* and again. *KERCHUNK* and again- as if it were locked from the inside and some one where kicking it. *KERCHUNK* Or an earthquake were causing it shutter. I reach out my hand for the knob, and take it.
I wing the full length cabinet door open to discover a large eye- a slit for an iris running up and down it, glossy and glistening and terrible. It flicks around the room behind its film of wax- around it flesh and lids enveloping it, with tiny mouths puckering around it- also flickering tiny tentacles shifting wildly like flames licking and lapping.  The slit of the eye focuses on me as it contracts- the tentacles stop and stick erect outwards toward me- all angling to point at me. The small mouths pockmarking the wall of red and black flesh now uniformly pucker a shape and start making a tiny “ah” utterance- in chorus.  Terrified, my heart pumping blood in hurried palpitations I slam the door shut. But instead of slamming in its frame it doesn’t shut, but instead hits the squishy edifice of the terrible monster inside. Then, suddenly another living root pushes up from a crackling spot in the dirt floor, and even right below me, one pushes up under my feet and emerges in the loose dirt.

Then, suddenly, noticing the two, I look up to discover the two girls standing side-by-side, looking at me with the same mischievous expression, mouths curling up at the ends. Their holding hands between them and they move toward me with the same step. They start caressing me, and the girl finds my zipper to my jump suit where she had learned it to be from before. More living veins push up out of the top soil and the new girl puts her wet open mouth onto mine- when the cabinet door fires open, nearly hitting me. The huge terrible eye and its slit for an iris stare into me. I look back as I move away from the girls, who- with looks of surprise and not understanding remain in place. Backing out I include the terrible cabinet monster in my sight which now appears to be bulging out of the cabinet door as more veins pop out of the earth. I push the cloth door to the hut aside and rush outside. From behind me I can hear the same mouth sounds and whooping from the girls.

I’m frantically running now, toward the beach, past other huts- past other savage nubile young women. As I rush buy small groupings of girls their heads turn with me. Out on the soft sands of the beach my breath is pushed out of my lungs, and my heart is beating out of my chest and I fall to my knees and turn onto my side to lay on the beach.  The whooping of the girls follow me, as I catch my breath. I sit up now, sensing the girls- and so I look. A large crowd, maybe over a hundred girls- all naked, all beautiful.  I push my legs out at the sand, getting up off my backside. I feel an incessant drum beat inside me, a nightmare adrenaline fueled urgency to escape- and so I turn towards the ocean as the crowd of girls form a crescent around me- effectively surrounding me.  Encircled now, in an open cul-de-sac allowing only the ocean as a way, I stood, in the lapping diffusing and fizzling waves reaching my feet. The girls, all cacophonous chatter of some incomprehensible language, closing in on me- shortening the ground between myself and them. Then louder, the whooping sounds of the girls, and the ocean waves- a wall of sound behind and ahead of me.  I stopped, then.
I looked around. I felt a calm suddenly, in the storm. I peer right beside me- an obscuration there, afloat in midair- immediate and fixed. Like a ghost, there beside me set fixed like an invisible field, a sliver- like that of the eye in the cabinet. A black floating slice, as it were- enveloped by a warped wrapper running along the edges, obscuring the image of what lay behind it- half of the beach and half the ocean waves. I touch the aberration, the floating ghost hole. It is solid, yet ephemeral, of this world and behind. Feeling the waves rush by me now, and conscious of the encroaching army of girls-all of whom stare wild eyed directly at me while chanting- I decide I only have this route- this portal. Presently I plunge my hand into it, it, or rather its edges, proving to be elastic in a rather solid kind of way. It takes some effort, like pulling a heavy bucket, but I pull either side wide enough to allow for my body size to pass through. Splashing next to me now, the girls move closer, like zombies- like the possessed. The begin reaching out at me with outstretched hands as I life a foot and push a whole leg into the portal. It feels like a black matte surface, on the other side- is the only way I can describe it- as I pull the rest of myself in just as a myriad dainty, groping hand grab around my collar. At first they were unyielding, and so I let out a horrible yell and, with all my might lunged myself forward into the darkness. Once inside, the darkness was complete, save for the shrinking sliver of the portal. Smaller and smaller it shrank- then a one hand shot through, whereupon the portal closed on the wrist thereof. And as it did- the closing echoed like that of a granite covering to a tomb.
And then darkness.

Unfathomable abyss darkness. Infinite, final darkness. I felt afloat in the nothing of it, suspended in ethereal solutions- inky, and increasingly wet. Then flashes- that, at first looked as if light flickering off of an oil black wave pool-then the first burst. I remember now. The electrical storm arrived back into view- slowly at first. And then all at once, like speeding towards a galaxy faster than the speed of light.

Engulfed, now- in the electrical storm- blasts, and viens made of light surge all around me. Stuck, and entangled in the bursting network of electricity. However, I am awake this time, and filled with anxiety, frustration and anger. So I start to frantically flail, punching my fist outward and kicking my feet while screaming-thrashing violently side to side. In a sense: I throw a tantrum.
Then, whether its blood filling my extremities once again, or my feeling out the area- I feel, the enclosed space I was in: its walls.  I feel slime now, I taste the putrid bitter taste and feel horrifically warm dangling tendrils. This is, until I see, yet another sliver. This one white and I push straight for it. Pushing violently my environment to my sides, and head first, birth myself from wherever inside this is.
Spurting outward, wet from birth, blackened by the oily substance coating me; I fall head first toward the sandy beach. I’m screaming my head off- slithering in the sand which sticks to me, my feet feel still latched to the thing from where I had sprung as I dangled there. I kick, and then, with my back firmly planted in the sand, I kick again. My slits for eyes are almost welded shut from the black slime- but then I force them open to behold the living holding cell that had me.
Before me, looming black, large and hideous, obscuring the sun- a monster. A large vertical slit running up its middle, where, at the top a large hideous eye. All round springing out of its red-veined and pitch black skin are innumerable undulating tentacles. The bulk of the creature is circular, resting on top thick, elephant legs like trunks- with a long reptilian tail trailing behind it, also flailing this way and that. Strands of the black slime fall dripping from the gaping hole onto the sand. Having taken in the hideous sight, I quickly and frantically back track like a crab away from the hideous creature.
There I am on the beach- a beach, off always is the tree line to the forest.
I hear a sickening chorus of tiny mouths emitting a horrible siren song. A high pitched “ah” is carried by the wind.
Plastered with the black slime I discover, I try to wipe it-only to find that it sticks slightly, but also goops. Suddenly, a bulky shadow appears just behind the creature, standing before me- its eye fixed onto me.
Another one. I turn around to find more, running like nightmare mascots.
‘More dream?’ I wonder- ‘no, I just came from the dream spewing into the nightmare.’

And so my eyes dart toward the forest- where to I am presently sprinting toward, just as I notice the original monster along with its ilk are doing the same, only more in the way of a lumber- toward me. Upon running up the beach, over some rocks and up to the tree line- a little ways off I notice a path, just like the one the girl had lead me to. It’s small, and human sized. And the distance between the trees, I decide, the way could not allow the bulk of these monsters. And so I run toward this path and step into the shadow of the forest.

A few yards in, I stop. My heart pounding, my thoughts settling, I look back past the bushes and trees to the mouth of the path. I see the ridiculous insulating tentacles shuddering there. And over the bushes I can see more shadow shapes framed by rubbery spikes that extend or retract.

I keep moving, along winding path, leading further into the forest.
Cursory glances at the plant life and fauna discover tiny bizarre, scurrying creatures and colorful, potentially dangerous plants.
Too exhausted and stuck in instinctual overdrive to take much interest, I keep walking.

A ways further, past some large rocks and strange, almost yodeling sounds from deep within the forest, I come upon a clearing.
At first I hear the loud sound of rushing water- until, then, I see a large water fall. At the base of which, its clear crystal pool of water.

I reach the edge, cup my hand and take drink after drink.
I turn over on the shore of it, a little ways away from the edge- and, laying there on my back, close my eyes and drift off to sleep.

 

THE END OF PART 2

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CLOWNS OF THE APOCALYPSE

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Prologue

WE JOIN OUR HERO DRIVING HOME, DOWN A LONG, TYPICALLY WINDING ROAD,  THROUGH A BLACKENED COUNTRY SIDE SOMEWHERE IN THE AMERICAN NORTH EAST. On either side trees stretch their gnarled branches toward a gauzy, moon illuminated fog-filled sky.
Presently, Dillird Q Thurman spins the dial on the car radio,  static and cut-off random bites of chatter; 60’s folk rock, 90’s alternative, a baseball game, some talk, and auto-tuned pop.
He eventually settles the needle on the Union Public Radio channel.

“Next up on Union Public Radio: Racism, and the good ol’ boys network, still an entrenched institution, still influencing government policy behind the scenes. It’s all next up, on a brand new: Fresh Look.”

The soothing, jaunty and jazzy theme song plays.

The show progresses just as you’d expect it to.

Presently, Dillird flicks off the radio, opting for the sound of the car, the road, and the rushing wind.
He fingers the paycheck in his jacket pocket.  He had worked one day less than last week, which meant ends would be barely met with barely anything left over.
“Pay the bills-” Dillird thinks aloud to himself  “and no frills.”

He now turns his thoughts, as they naturally tend, toward his fiance’,  Meagan. Who at this moment awaited him at their home, a rented house on the edge of town. Already, he knows well, her probable reaction to the net amount printed upon his paycheck. He plays through the anticipatory scenario in his head, an ultimately futile exercise, yet possibly instructive nonetheless.  Their relationship had been rocky recently, so to speak.

Dillird flicks the radio back on, then presses ‘seek.’

“Riding that train, high on cocaine…” blurts out of the stereo speakers, to which Dillird’s arm responds instantly to *Click* turn off these infernal sounds.

A little farther down the road is the bar.  The Star Light Bar, a small lone dive out here on route 9, in the middle of nowhere; patronized mostly be the bumpkins residing in these parts, privy truck drivers and passers-through.

Dillird fit into two of those categories tonight.

The Starlight Bar had come up just as Dillird, without much deep consideration, made his haphazard decision to stop in for a drink. Any attempt to postpone the inevitable by pretending that he’d actually choose self-control this time was futile. This, even though being late in getting home, he realized, only exacerbates the  situation- tardiness with a hint of booze.

Dillird pulls into the dirt parking lot surrounding the bar, making sure to avoid deep puddles pock marked throughout. A sign atop a pole brightly shone before him bearing the bar’s name.  The car bounces side to side jostling him inside as he guides the metal heap into place.

Dillird’s spirit sinks into his gut as he mechanically, as if automated to do so, goes through the steps of what he knows is yet again the wrong decision. Having already fulfilled half the task by pulling in and parking, it was also too late, he decided. Patronizing a bar, in a state of existential funk and depression, instead of going home to his girl-such is the human condition.

Further committing to his lot, the keys are turned out of the ignition and the door handle pulled then pushed open, then swinging out, as Dillird shifts his weight to jump from car over a puddle last second.
The moon, still fixed in its spot, still silently shines through the gauze; a strong harsh wind picks up– just about chilling Dillird’s bones through the jacket.

In his mind, He flips through a mental rolodex of the people, friends and family, Meagan must be communicating with over social media.  Old flames or even new flames perhaps? He in his paranoid manner speculates. He considers first her closest friends in town, Monica and Kim, who she goes and sees, as she too goes for her job locally as a bank teller.

He swings the door closed after realizing his lingering for a while, then finally rounds the car and heads for the front door of the establishment. He notices only three other vehicles in the lot, aside from the employee’s spots around back, which were out of view.  In the windows hang Neon lit beer signs.  Pushing open a squeaky door rustling some chimes attached to the top of the door, ringing out.  Dillird is met with the smell of stale beer hanging in the air, a glowing television mounted to a wall in the corner lording over and above at the end of the bar. A bartender, the lone bar keep, noticing his entrance, swivels his head back toward the tv while wiping out a glass one final stroke, before flicking the towel over his shoulder and racking the glass.
Dillird strides over to the stool on the corner of the bar, directly in line with the entrance, and mounts the seat.
“what’l it be,” the bartender asks while reaching below the counter, promptly producing a circular coaster, before slapping it down onto the bar top where it instantly sticks in place.
“Uh,” Dillird thinks, “an IPA is fine, whatever’s on tap- thanks.”
“Sure thing.”

The bartender turns and heads down the bar toward the taps.

On the television, the nightly news, the closed captioning appearing on the bottom of the screen. Pictured, a comely anchor woman talking as a box pinned over her left shoulder shows, what looks to be, clowns, dirty and melancholy under tree lines. Close ups of make-up caked faces, frowning into the camera.

The close captioning reads:

“For days now we’ve been reporting to about the ongoing clown refugee crisis. Homeless, dirty, hungry and in desperate need of a place to stay – and yet, Americans cling onto anti-clown bigotry.”

The bartender after decanting foam from a pint glass having just been filled under a spout starts his walk down the bar toward Dillird. Dillird reaches for his wallet in his back pocket.
Just as Dillird does this the chimes on the door behind ring out. He turns to look just as the bartender sets down the pint glass on the bar before him. Cloaked in the shadowy entrance of the bar stands a rather rotund, small statured individual with an apparent, small, ridiculously so- almost miniature sized bowler cap on the side of a bald head.

The bartender, registering the sensation of the entrance of the newcomer, looks blankly still hands placing the glass and lets out an exasperated sigh. “6.50” he says while wiping his beer moist hands on his sides, onto an apron tied there.
Curiously, now, Dillird picks through the bills in his wallet while sidelong glancing in the direction of the newcomer, who now moves into full light.

A clown.
Dillird jerks his head back toward the television on the wall as at some supernatural entity, having just spoke into existence this aberration. A double take back toward the door revealed that, yes, indeed this clown had manifested.

Caked white make-up running with lines down his face, a sad expression only exaggerated by splotched, red marked around his mouth, emphasizing a frown that looked more caused by chafing than applied makeup. A bald pate, on which rested a tiny bowler cap attached precariously as noted before to one side. Suspenders held up large bowl-like pants that looked like they could very well contain water that would be splashing out the sides, as, the clown man hobbled side to side as he walked toward the bar.
To this, the bartender squeezed eyes closed while facing down and letting out an exasperated sigh of annoyance.

The clown pushed his belly to the round stool, large red shoes straddling the base on either side. Deciding first to spin the stool seat around several times before hopping up onto it.

The bartender glares at the clown, while the clown looks down- slowly after a tick lifting his head up to meet the glare.

“Here to pay your tab?”

Expressionless, the clown continues his gaze, seemingly not having heard the question.

“No NO! Out!” The bartender suddenly erupts, presumably having dealt with such despondency before,then directs an outstretched arm ending with    pointing finger towards the door.

Cement and stoic, the clown outwardly remained unfazed.  Accepting and submissive to this abuse, Dillird noticed he was, non reacting, as he had already resigned to such treatment. The clown, looking more like a mechanical creature given over to the elements, turned now toward the bartender, a large man 6 foot- a lined face of about 60 or so, with a glimmering single tear running down his cheek.  The bartender, an imposing statue of a man, wooden, now leans on arms, hands placed on the bar top- red in the face and peering into the painted-on frowning face of the clown.

Through gritted teeth he repeats “out,” rather harshly. A final demand.

The clown, not acknowledging, turns, imploringly almost, towardDillird.

Dillird finishes a pull during the explosive, rather awkward interaction between the two men, now setting the glass down back onto the coaster before him. Meeting the dull eyes of the sad bastard, then turning back toward the screen- just in time to catch an image of clowns walking out of the wood escorted by police. The woods, somewhere- the caption reads “HavenVille,” a town he presently sat in an establishment he currently drank a beer in.
“Alright, fine!”  The bartender shrugs, as he walks to opposite end of the bar, where lie a phone.

Looking back, now, meeting once again those dull eyes. Deep set in the roundish face. The age of the man is down right indeterminable, behind the large red bulbous nose, the matte flat eyes give nothing away.
“I got ‘im,” Dillird hears issue from his mouth just as the bartender picks up the phone to his ear and shoulder, starting to point at the number pad.

He looks over his right shoulder while pinching the phone with his choulder to his cheek with his left. Looking over at Dillird now, picking up the phone setting it down again on a fridge top under neath the bar, the power cord trailing.  Continuing to dial the bartender asks “pardon?”
Dillird once again issues, as if fished for and yanked out rather effortlessly by the imploring gaze of the empty clown vessel to his left “I got ‘im.”  The bartender stares.  “Whatever he’s having, I’ll cover it- it’s on me.”
A few seconds of stare further. And the bartender replaces the receiver onto the hook, and phone back to its place. He turns, looking at Dillird, not condescendingly, but out of a tolerable pitty.

“Look, its an awful nice gesture,” as he strides over, “but, this, ‘clown’ we got here, he don’t need no booze, what he needs is his own place- “ turning to him now, “away from decent folk.”
“It’s okay, I don’t mind.” Dillird reaches for his pocket.

Images of sad, despondent clowns on television, being rounded up, pushed, cuffed, into the back of cop cars.  Mug shots of the most pathetic looking side-shows, almost innocent inherently to judge by their appearance alone. Some with frizzy hair, tall, lanky others more of a hobo variety, blasted stogies hanging off their lips.

The clown, sitting there on his stool at the end of the bar remains unchanged in expression- fixed in a gaze, interchanging his apparent attention, although no sign of a capacity for such flickers on his face, between the television set, to Dillird and then off into no particular direction.

“yeah, no, it’s okay.”

The bartender, frustrated by Dillird’s misunderstanding incorrigibility cracks his head toward the television.  This time, showing protests of young college students in the town square, skipping class apparently, standing, holding signs, some going so far as to block traffic while holding hands; others with bullhorns, others still lying down in group protest. They all don costumes, clownish apparel. Big shoes. All wear a fixed red nose on their face. Large multi-colored wigs. Many other varieties of eccentricities, garish jumpsuits with fuzzy button balls affixed down the front- a myriad of horns, some on stilts.

“Clowns are People Too” reads one particular  sign that stood out.

A protest for clowns. Clowns, Dillird thinks to himself, a group of people he, up until this very moment, was unaware of, existing all together never mind considered as having the status of an oppressed identity group.
Sure, he remembers clowns for hire, at childrens’ birthday parties or other festivals where children were guaranteed to be present.  But then, something happened in culture. A shift in viewpoint concerning clowns. For a little while they turned sad, but then the clowns turned evil, and scary. The old fun, fun-loving clowns, unassuming and innocent in nature- not considered even to have human biological urges: went away; and the neutral, innocent clown was replaced with another stereotype: the terrifying nightmare variety.

The supernatural demonic clown. Otherworldly. Still, yet, having no considerable human traits inherent, but, now, vacillating from a proclivity to spread joy and merriment, to, terrorizing, and dread.

Even violence.

Dillird looks onto his neighbor, a proximate exemplar, here, in real life of- a clown.  A human, a real person. Who, now, faces discrimination and prejudice.  And, judging by the television reportage, this condition is endemic.  Dillird, accepting this new reality, a social milieu all together new to him and up until this moment remained blind to- ignorant of- now, decides to do what he perceives to be the right thing.

“Son,” the bartender begins, now turning back to Dillird, his arms folded across his apron “listen, you gotta understand, their not telling you the truth,” a fist held up with the thumb extended toward the television over his shoulder “they’re not like they say.”

“that’s okay, I don’t mind.”

The Clown, looking up from a peering down at his own bulk, neck bulging, peering up at Dillird, who interprets his expression of one of exhaustion.

There’s no telling to what extent this has occurred- Dillird, he, has only worried his self of his own life situations, his personal immediate predicaments.  Up until this awakening, he hadn’t considered the suffering of others.

To help, to extend a show of kindness to this clown, in this moment, filled Dillird’s heart, previously harboring a feeling of barren, with a sort of altruistic meaning.

He puts at ten onto the bar from his wallet which he now folds and back and puts back into his lifted back pocket as he shifts on his stool.

Then resuming his perch, reaches for his glass and takes it in his hand “its okay,” brings it to his mouth and takes another pull- half emptying the glass. He smacks his lips. “whatever he wants I’ll cover it, for him,” he says pushing the bill toward him on bar.

The bartender, slowly shakes his head, shortly at the clown- scowling with a sour face, turns abruptly toward the taps and fills a glass.

Walks it over to the clown, slaps down a coaster and says “you don’t deserve this,” and places the beer on top. The bartender then turns back around toward the television at one end of the bar, picks up a remote and flicks the channels until reaching a hockey game.

The clown, peering now at the glass before him, foaming atop excited golden bubbles rushing to the top, reaches out and grabs the pint.

His hands, gloved, picks at the glass, and lifts it to his big red lips.

He puts the glass back down.
Turns his head toward Dillird, and gives a single gratifying nod.

Dillird, having watched out the corner of his eye the whole display, now nods back, and holds his beer up to the man for a cheers.

The clown man reciprocates this gesture, and the two go on drinking.

The bartender, wipes down the bar- paying little interest toward the game.

As Dillird finishes his beer, placing it down, notices that the clown’s head has been thrown back, for an extended length of time-emptying the glass into his throat, then finally placing an empty beer down onto the bar.

“thank you, good night,” he says to the bartender. “You too chief,” the bartender, uninterestedly offers back.  Dillird paces toward the door, past the clown- who, too, is getting up, preparing to leave.

Dillird, reaching the door first exits the portal and then holds behind him the door as the clown just reaches it.

Both outside, discovering both at simultaneously the picked-up rain, dropping now in angled lines, filling the puddles of the parking lot. A chill too, being noticeable- as plumes of breath appear before Dillird’s eyes.

He looks over at the frowning clown, who, staring down, looks totally disposed to the elements.
Dillird begins to wonder about the situational circumstances of the clown. Where does he live? Is he homeless? Does he have a group?

“Um, excuse me,” Dillird says.  He looks up, onto Dillird’s face.

“Uh, do you—could I offer you a ride somewhere? There isn’t anything for miles, and, it’s cold and wet out- I wouldn’t mind.”

The clown, blankly, looks off, and then back toward Dillird’s imploring face- and nods a vertical affirmative.

“C’mon then.”

He strides over to his car, the clown in tow- opens the door and sits down.

The shut of the door echoes instantly by that of the shutting of the passenger side door. Taking up the passenger seat, now, is the clown- appearing as though he had almost, just about, been there even before Dillird.

He picks his keys out of his pocket, inserts and turns them into the ignition and throttles the car in reverse before accelerating that way. The car bounces side to side over holes through puddles as lights turn out in the bar and Dillird hits the gas makinging contact with the road and taking off down it.

Inside, Dillird turns the knob for heat.

“So, ‘you got a family?”

The clown animates into a groping of his entire person, searching pockets inside his pants, his frilly shirt, until producing a huge brick of a wallet.

Opening it, inside he peels back several layers cards and pictures until getting to one he then diligently picks-out.

Handing it now to Dillird, who, turning the over head light presently takes it from his hand. Back and forth, looking from road to picture, Dillird looks upon a picture of, a, clown family.  A female clown, dressed similarly to present company-only, instead of bald head with absurdly tiny hat, she is donning a rather large multicolored frizzy wig.  Three children before them, an eldest boy, a middles son and a youngest girl. All, dressed as clowns.  All splashed with colorful clown make up as well- the difference being, from Dillird’s passenger’s make-up job, and those of the clown family in the photo, is, that the makeup surrounding the mouth is turned up into smiles.  This be as it may however, nevertheless they are all just the same frowning uniformly.  Just as Dillird works the gears of comprehension to explain this “clown logic” to himself, the clown snaps the picture away and pushes it back into its sleeve within the wallet, that, he presently fishes for a place to put back- apparently having forgotten, or misplaced the pocket.

A minute transpires.

“Where can I take you by the way?”

A half a minute, transpires- while, Dillird assumes the clown mules this question over, in his head.

It is at this moment, that, Dillird notices the smell. First, of, plain human body odor, which, he honestly would have expected- or even that of beer sweat seeping out of the pores and into vapor to fill the cabin of the car- these odors were present-but, a new odor filled the air.

Stale cola, and, he sniffs, perhaps feces.

“Sir,” startled by the sudden odiferous funk, Dillird reaches over and shakes the redolent clown man.

He apparently shakes to wake.

“Are you okay?” ….

Seconds pass, until, Dillird is met with a dull stare.

“Where, where can I take you sir? I’m getting close to my house now.”

The clown reaches into a pocket, this time producing his wallet right away, and opens it.

He files through some, dollar bills Dillird notices, until finding another photo, of which he produces.

Dillird turns back on the overhead light and pinches the photo of an apparent campsite.

“Where is this?” Dillird asks, before the clown snaps the photo from his hand, placing it back into his wallet, where he, once again fingers through other items there within. Dillird now sees, out the side of his spying eye, a sizable wad of cash stashed away in the large wallet. The clown fingers through bills,  some 20’s even, and then finally,  a folded up piece of paper gets picked out.

The clown begins unfolding the tiny piece of paper. Small unfolds at first, until, soon a map filled the entire front of the car. Dillird did his best to look around past it to see the road through the windshield.

The clown points to a large clearing within Havenville. A clearing the closest road to just so happens to be the one he lives on.

A dead end, on the edge of town- next to seemingly endless blocks of old dilapidated factory buildings out of commission for innumerable years now- a magnet for squatters bums and youthful urban explorers.

“Okay,” Dillird said “I can bring you close to there, now put this map away.”
The clown obliges.

15 minutes later Dillird turns onto Hope st.. Entering now the ruins of an old industrial era, where, at an intersection on the corner rests a relic, an old phone both. Turning now, Dillird turns onto the street where he lives, with Meagan- on Ivy Lane.

A normal looking house, a box with a roof rests behind a small front yard- the lights are on. Dillird pulls into the driveway off the street.
“Okay, well, here’s me-“ he begins to say as the clown opens the door and bursts out of the car all at once. Confused, slightly, by this odd behavior, Dillird nevertheless follows suit.

Out now, he sees the squat clown walk off, toward Hope street. He shuts the door behind him directing his thoughts now toward Meagan, who, most likely he reckons is up, watching television.

He walks up the walk way. If, she is in fact upset, as he suspects she will be, arguing will cut into the precious few hours he needs to get an adequate amount of rest tonight before work tomorrow. The morning he is not looking forward too is a mere 8 hours away.

Reaching the door now, twisting the knob and in he goes.

He walks toward the living room at the end of the hall where, he is met with shadows and silence. Noticing, just the other way toward the kitchen, a light on, he makes his way hence.

Sitting at the dinner table, arms crossed- as is with the look on her face, is Meagan. Upon the table, before her, an empty wine stained glass and a bottle beside.

Dillird removes his jacket, looking sidelong at her. He rests the jacket on the back of one of the kitchen chairs.

“I’m so-“ he begins to say before being cut-off abruptly by a knock at the door.

“Are you expecting any-?” he begins to ask.

“Just get it,” she curtly replies.

Retreading back to the door now, reaching for and twisting the knob and finally opening- reveals, the clown.

Standing there looking blankly up at Dillird- and, behind him stand more…more clowns.

“I, uh-“ he manages to utter before the clowns, stronger, larger, push past the familiar clown before him and violently push Dillird back. They push him back and then back some more- unceasingly coming at him until he’s thrown into the living room.  He continues to be pummeled by a large grimacing nightmare of a clown, punched in the face neck and chest. The man, – the clown, it would appear is equipped with exceptionally hard boxing gloves. Blow after blow is thrown at Dillird now bent over backward on the couch. “AAHGG!” he belts out, trying futilely to block the onslaught with his arms, holding his hands up- which are pummeled back down.

“AAAHHH!” he hears the unmistakable scream of Meagon emit from the kitchen- filling his body with a red hot surge of adrenaline. He roles off the couch onto the floor, takes the underneath of the coffee table with his open palm before lifting it with all his might from a sitting position up into the direction of the hideous clown. With the table now in the air he throws himself into it, tackling the flown before him.

Now atop the red flaming haired clown Dillird rushes to his feet and begins to jump up into the air and come down with a stomp onto the table that currently pins the clown to the floor.

Again again does he jump and stop. He looks down at the grimacing clown- no indication of pain appears on its face- but, for the first time having a good look at the thing Dillird notices the distorted features. The razor yellow teeth, the elongated jaw and yellow sliver irises for eyes. It still smiles, still, its cheecks permantly cemented in a hideous smile.
Just then, once again he hears Meagan’s screams and the burst of some glass object smashing on the floor. With a vicious grab, yank and mighty twist he takes one of the legs of the table off. Looking up at Dillird towering over the clown menace, the clown gurgles a struggling hiss- omitting a filthy stench into the air surrounding him. Taking the leg now, pointing the splintered end down just as the clown attempts to struggle out of its predicament Dillird forces a primal roar and with all his might plunges the leg into the clowns face. Again and again until his arms ache. Dropping the leg now he gets up as a clown passes by, and another- with a struggling black bag between them- they both holding it aloft, carrying it toward the front door.

“Meagan,” Dillird’s head tell him- urging him forward, telling him to reach out and knock the first clown to the floor grab that end of the back and pull with all his might away from the other.

He, on his feet, pushing one leg forward, the other ages it feels to catch up- but close behind, reaching out in a fit of rage, panic and utter despair.

Before he can reach the struggling black bag however a burst of light smashes into the side of his skull and he is dropped to the floor. Opening one eye, half glued shut he sees the large red, blurry bulb of a shoe, a clown shoe. Lifting his chin off the carpet amidst the sweat and blood he’d smeared there, he looks up with effort out the open front door. A black van peels off, out of sight.
Just then another sudden blow knocks like wood on the top of his skull.

The clown, the rotund clown, with the absurdly placed precariously small bowlers hat looks down at Dillird unconscious body, still yet lifting with breath and exhaling.

He maneuvers around him, blank in the face, expressionless, and turns his body by pulling both legs, with both hands. In this way, however, he is unable to manage the body into an angle from which to drag the body out the front door. He looks, down at the living corpse. He decides, to turn Dillird over onto his back. He lifts the back of Dillird’s head, kneeling down to do so- and firmly grabs the collar of his long sleeve shirt.  He know lurches forward, the unconscious Dillird, toward the front door.

Dragging along the carpet, over the threshold, down a few steps.  Down the walk way past the car parked in the drive way. Across the street.  And then, finally, disappearing off into the woods along a hidden path.

 

End Of Part 1

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The Cat’s Of Brushems Cove

CatsofBrushemsCove

A man sits in his lonesome house with the shades drawn. His name is Hephner Finderbind, and he is a recluse-for good reason. His circumstances dictate this to be so. For, if the townspeople ever found out (those milling around just beyond the hedges of his house-getting on with their lives),  his dark secret would be exposed; and he’d be ruined forever more.

This dark secret isn’t locked in the basement, or hidden behind a secret door, or underneath the floorboards, but rather, slithers in-between his heart, brain and bowls. Moving up and down his nervous system.  If this monster is found out, and brought out to the exposure of the light of day, for all to see; no doubt, the accusations would start forthright. And it would end good ol’ Hephner.

Hephner sits plaintively, playing the scene in his head.

A lassoed rope would be thrown about the neck of the beast, then dragged from the cave of his dwelling. Children would gasp in astonishment at the hideous tendrils, the slimy sides of flesh and popping veins of gore that make up its body ; the single eye protruding to look back at them, in a way  unfathomable and hideous to their innocent minds. The grown members of society would stand in between, maintaining the safe distance away from IT and the women and children. As the more brave members of the community approach the monster, ropes in hand, ready to all at once attempt to throw a harness onto the monster.

By then, having exploded with gore, to show my true appearance, my slimy form would be held fast, secured on all sides by ropes, tethered to the other men.
“What is it!?” a voice would cry.
“Kill it!” would demand another.

—-

*Knock *KNOCK* a sound disrupts this thought, and the tentacles recede back into my chest – I quickly button my shirt as another knock rings out.
“Just a minute,” I say, loud enough, as I pull myself from my chair, walking the expanse of the room, to the door. One latch shifted aside, another, and then the last, then the knob itself, and the door is swung open.

Standing there is Hank Effermill, my neighbor and local social activist. He will frequently petition the neighborhood for this cause, or that, always the most talked-about and fashionable amongst the folk at that given time.

This time however, he stand s on the stoop with a broad smile and wide probing eyes, a faccade of friendliness greets me.

“Hey Hephy,” he calls me—a nickname I have never condoned, or approved of; or liked for that matter, but, nevertheless…
“Hey there Hanks,” I issue back– I will either use ‘Hanks’ or just ‘Hank-y’ him right back at ‘im—these games irk me, yet, they come to me—and I see no way to avoid them.
“Hephy, how ya doing?” he extends a hand, I take it, and he continues, “Hey Bud, listen, I’v been talking to everyone in our little commune here to address a concern We all seem to have.”

A bead of sweat forms on my forehead, I can feel it – the late afternoon sun shines from over Hank’s right shoulder into my face “Oh?” I say, “and what’s that?”

“Haven’t  you noticed all the cats?” he asks, already mocking outrage.
“I’m sorry?” I reply.

“The CATS!” he repeats, urgently, probingly at me.

“I’m sorry Hank, I’m afraid I don’t  follow, what about the cats?”

Hank pauses a few seconds, staring wide-eyed at me, mouth open as if about to let out a gasp.
“Hephy, are you telling me, you haven’t noticed the dead cats? They’ve been strewn all over the side walk and street for the past week.”
Concerned, furrowed brows—I look over the left shoulder of the accuser to see no such image in the streets.

No dead cats.

“I don’t see any dead cats.”

“HA!” Hanks erupts, and starts shaking his head as if at a moron “Bud, me and your other neighbors have cleaned them up—we’ve already taken care of it—I don’t know what you’ve been up to this whole time.” Hank gives a long concerned glance around the frame of my shoulders into the open house behind me. A bead of sweat slides down my temple as more begin to form. The sun now is unbearable, and my patience has been exhausted with Hank-y/bud.

“listen Hank-“ I begin, sternly.

“Why are you sitting in the dark?” Hank begins.

“What?” I ask, discontinuing my train of thought.

“Uh, there’s no light on in your house…what are you doing, sitting in the dark?”
I look behind me, thinking of a plausible explanation, but then abandon this course, and start wondering rid of Hank, and get this door closed.
“Listen Hank, I’m right in the middle of some-“

“What? What are you doing?”

“I don’t, …none of your business.”
Hank, not offended, not concerned, but, suspicious, is projecting guilt,– I can I feel it– he moves closer to the door frame, and continues in a more intimate manner.

“Listen, Hephy, you okay bud?” Hank says, as if concerned.

He places his right arm on my left shoulder paternally, and I feel my blood temperature rise.

I don’t like Hank, I never have ever since moving into this house. I haven’t been able to interpret his manner, and therefore haven’t developed strategies to neutralize interactions with him.  It seems he’s always looking for my buttons, so as to press them. I don’t know what his agenda is, —but then I remember.

A Flash of light bursts in my brain, and a vision occurs to me:

Late at night, I crawl out my window, though I have no legs, just a slithering mess for replacements; I slide over the sill and lower the rest down to the grass below.

Lurking in the shadows, in the space between my house and Hank’s, just out of view of these two sweethearts, local teenagers I see standing underneath a street lamp. The girl is giggling, as the male puts his arm around her waist, then puts his face to hers for a kiss.

Suddenly, a hollow dry gurgle erupts from the center of my body—I look down to see a bumpy cavity laced with ropes of drooping slime.

I look back-up, the couple now are looking in my direction, where I hide in the shadows of a tree, two houses and behind a shrub.

“What was that?” the girl asks.

“I don’t know,” the male responds.

“Let’s get out of here,” she says.

“Good idea.” And so,  from underneath the street lamp, they quickly step away.

Moments later, a tabby cat jumps into view not five feet from myself.  The cat stops, sits and starts licking a lifted leg. Suddenly, before I realize it fully, I see two tentacles jut out on either side of my vision; startled, but before it can react, the tabby is ensnared, and dragged toward  gaping hole in my midsection.

Suddenly, I am ripped out of this trance, and my consciousness returns to the present,  just as Hank removes his hand from my shoulder.
I spurt “Jesus, why are you touching me!? I don’t want anything to do with you, now please:  leave me alone!”
I step back from the wide-eyed Hank, and slam the door.

In a cold sweat, and  panic I secure the door with all three latches, plus the lock in the door knob.

I back step back into the darkness, shift over to the window, and peel back a corner of the shade. I watch Hank back-out from my front walk way, then turning his head toward the bottom corner and finding me with his eyes.
I flick the cloth back in place, already cursing myself for reacting so flinchingly.

‘Hank has no power over me!’ I think to myself.

I wait a few seconds, deciding that, if Hank is still standing there I’ll rip open the window shades and stare right back, hands crossed and even more accusatory and condescendingly than even ol’ Hank-boy can achieve. But he’s not, I can see, instead, he’s off a few yards down the street, talking with two more figures.

I then recognize who they are.

The couple, the teenage couple from the other night.
More panic enters my blood stream, as I watch the three of them talk, the male points a finger toward the alley between my house and Hank’s, saying something.

They all three look, and Hank gives a concerned glance toward my own house again—and I, once again, close the flap.

Once again cursing myself for being so obvious.

It is then I resign to clear my mind of these paranoid thoughts.  There is nothing to be concerned about, I’ve done nothing wrong, I’m no monster. Besides, how can they prove anything?

They’ve got no evidence, and can’t pin a damn thing on me.

I sink back into chair, and try to relax.  I hum a few bars of an impromptu classical-sounding song.

Silence.

I hear cars pass outside.

“Yes, of course,” I consider, “I will argue that the speed limit on this road is too high, people don’t slow down, and it being a curved road- it is obviously a dangerous spot for cats to be allowed to freely roam.  Besides, there were far too many cats in this neighborhood anyway—at night, sometimes, I will lay awake and hear them hissing and fighting outside—“ —  suddenly a pain.

In my abdomen a punching, form inside, outward. So violent, my abdomen protrudes suddenly, a button from my shirt zips across the room. Then another punch, and another button. I look down to see the mound pushing outward, from above my belly.

Another cold sweat, and another flash in my mind.

———————-

Presently, it is night time, and I sit watching a group of cats, maybe three or four, fight over some scraps behind the local deli, just down the street from my house. I loom closer, not so close however to give myself away and startle the critters. Silently, I slither closer—and then—

——————

My eyes burst open! I am cold, numb, and naked on the floor of my living room. A cold wind rushes in through opening where windows should be, jagged shattered shards still in the frame. I lay in sweat and the rest of the broken window on a cold hard wood floor.

“Oh no!” I think, “not again!”

I’m not only sweaty, but covered in a dried film of slime, the tentacles, like writhing worms still hold out like a claw inches from my abdomen.

Then I hear a loud booming voice from outside, on the sidewalk, in the front of my home.

I reach the edge of the window sill and peer over to spy a group of townsfolk, having gathered in front of my house. The cloudless night sky gives stark outlines of this group, all whom I recognize as neighbors. All now stand stern, of about ten of them, with hard, determined expressions on their faces.

At the helm, I see the back of who must be Hank, arms raised, as if to silence the crowd. And then to issue a speech.

“On the count of ten, myself, and Rich, will enter the house and cajole the monster out, we’ll try to lasso him and drag him to the front lawn here, where Marty, you Pank and Fillmore will throw your lassos around him.  Peggy, you and Matilda will then shoot your tranquilizers.  If we can’t get him out right away, we’ll have fire on him, but we’ll try not to kill him—we want ‘im alive! But if it comes down to it, and he proves too much for us, we will have no choice but to kill him as a last resort! Okay!?  let’s do it!– 1!”
Hank turns around to face my house, I drop to my ass to the hardwood floor with my back braced against the wall.

I hear him continue his counting.

From outside the house, looking on, the group of townsfolk stand tense, listening to Hank’s count to 10. When Hank reaches 8, however, a large mass of inexplicable gore and guts shoot from the opening in the house as if like an explosion from a cannon,  and this grabbing, mass of tenticles springs out, grabbing at the gathered crowd.  Shots ring out throughout the night air of the small community of Brushems Cove.

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