Sandman

It is a nightmare the young Marine could not awaken from as he lay in the hospital bed. Once, he believed the Sandman meant sleepiness, but the Iraqi desert taught him different. All he can do now is lay between the clean, white sheets, body broken, legs missing, and wait for his return to take what remained.

Promised

H/T to Pati G. for the idea…

Mama promised to pass her ring to me, but it disappeared the day she was murdered. Police said it was taken as a trophy, so I never thought I’d see it again. Imagine my shocked on my wedding day, when I recognized the ring he’d slipped it on my finger.

Condemned

Tom wandered about the prison yard with his fellow inmates, waiting for the coming sound of death. Moments before, the convicted was dragged away. There would be no stay of execution this day, no last-minute pardon for the truly innocent. The blow of the ax’s thud on the butcher’s chopping block made the flock burble nervously.

Zombie Wabbit

It was after four in the morning when I got home from work. Our dog, Buddy met me at the door with a dead rabbit in his mouth. To understand the implications of this, our neighbor raises white rabbits, so I instantly knew it was theirs.

It took me a minute to get the rabbit away from Buddy, wash it off, climb over the fence and put it back in its cage. I had to do all of this as quietly as possible so I wouldn’t wake my wife and terrify her with the sight of a dead animal in her kitchen sink.

Later that morning, I heard my neighbor lady shriek, followed by, “Oh God! Oh God! Oh God!”

Quickly, I dressed and rushed over to find out what was wrong, believing I already knew.  In a half-panic, she breathlessly explained how the rabbit died a few days ago, was buried, but is now back in its cage.

Covering my mouth, not only to hide my actual shock, but to also stifle any possible laughter, I helped her rebury the poor critter. And as I did this, I kept thinking, “I gotta fix that hole under my fence, pronto.”

Locker Number Six

No one at the manufacturing company could recall the last time the lock had been removed or why it was there in the first place. And the one person who did, had died nearly thirty years before.

It had been old man Martini who had warned that Number 6 should never be opened. However, in the small hours of a crisp Fall morning, a company maintenance man appeared with bolt cutters, removing the ancient and half-rusted padlock.

Aside from the usual heavier sounds of industrial machinery, came the sporadic report of an odd whisper, a queer chant or a strange gurgling from inside the walls and pipes, which were given to imagination or fatigue. However, on this night the newer sounds of rattling, scraping and rapping began from some deeper place within the factory’s wall.

Thayne sat alone, eating in the lunchroom, when he heard beyond the nearby wall, what he believed to be a body, either being dragged or dragging itself. Suddenly a woman screamed as a greenish arm with a wretched clawed hand, bigger than any man’s head, shot-out from the now unlocked locker and grabbed Thayne tightly by his right calf.

With a monstrous yank, it jerked Thayne off-balance, causing him to fall. And once down, the hapless man was quickly pulled into the locker’s darkened opening.

As he yelled, the others unsuccessfully battled to free him from the horror violently drawing him into the small opening and the greater depth of the locker.  Eventually, all the would-be rescuers could do was listen to the cacophony of Thayne’s pain-filled screams, amid shattering bones, tearing sinew, tendons and muscles, as he abruptly disappeared into the unknown recess of locker number six.

In the following minutes of shocked and unsettling quietude came the infrequently reported and often ignored, “Voq’u’u-lo Zaa-q’ran.”

In So Many Words, Part One, Chapters 1-19

After reading the story, “57 Reasons for the Slate Quarry Suicides,” by Sam J. Miller, I ruminated  on how lovely the shorter sentence and chapter was…

Chapter 1.
It was 2:23.
A Wednesday morning.
They said I was there, but cannot remember.
My other-self went away as if he’d never been there in the first place.

Chapter 2.
Living outside of town.
Fell from the couch.
Fell from the stairs.
No injuries, but life is dangerous.

Chapter 3.
We’ve been kicked out.
Taking a ship to America.
Wind, rain, emergency evacuation drills.
The fire engine has been left behind to rust.

Chapter 4.
Another member has joined the party.
He cries constantly.
I don’t mind it though.
It is nice to have the company.

Chapter 5.
Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink.

Chapter 6.
So many new faces.
So much hostility.
Frightening and I want to go home.

Chapter 7.
She made me slide into first base to see what hand would be my dominant.
One-hundred words and one hundred percent.
A red ribbon made of yarn tied like a bow.
This could be a beginning — if only I knew to what.

Chapter 8.
There was blood, looks and stares, but I held my tongue.
I cannot speak, though I know I have a voice.
Another will have to drag it out out of me.
Yet another member has joined the party.
A real screamer.

Chapter 9.
Oceans and Indians and Little House on the Prairie.
Nothing adds up now.

Chapter 10.
I’ve lost my marbles and have paid the price in punishments
With a final member coming into the tribe, the council, where we collectively have no true voice.
My pen and paper are my only comforts.
The harsh clickity-clacks of a gifted type-writer are like music to the soul.

Chapter 11.
A true loneliness has set in as I see the world and our inhabitants for what they are and may become.
Like newspaper, I am shred into strands of isolation.
I cannot discover where or how I fit into this hodgepodge.
Take a picture, it lasts longer – but is also so expensive.

Chapter 12.
She was victimized and not one authority cared.
I am ostracized for trying to give her comfort and aid.
Now she’ disappeared.
And now I know how the Native’s felt, smoke the peace pipe and then to be tricked into a battle.

Chapter 13.
Rallied others in acts of vandalism and then cast out.
Damaged the little red books beyond repair and planted them in a garden and under a row of trees. Fertilizer.
The ladies in black are firmer and I find myself terrified all the time.
I am searching for my irony.

Chapter 14.
A triumphant return, it was not, for not a single person missed me.
I am regarded as the outsider.
They think it is a punishment.
Good for me as I did not wish a circus or parade.

Chapter 15.
A change in prison walls as I face down more internal fears.
One of many, apart from all.
Books and words are a refuge.
It is easy to hide in a library when remaining quiet.

Chapter 16.
I have struck off on my own.
Chasing down that less-than ten second mark.
She loves me, she loves me not.
Not.
Watched a classmate burned himself up on whiskey, speed and gasoline.

Chapter 17.
More of the same, only with a greater confidence.
A greater speed, at which I peaked.
Funny how I don’t really care what they think of me.
Not certain if my mouth overloads my brain or visa versa.
This universe needs new leaders and I’d like to be one.

Chapter 18.
My biggest troubles are self caused.
Perhaps self-loathing are an inbred trait.
There are no rewards in life for doing wrong and I’ve been wrong a lot even when doing right.
Perhaps this final youthful summer will bring that need change.
Rain is the first component of a lovely Spring.

Chapter 19.
A big push into an ever larger change, this one a life-time in the making.
I have never liked change.
And home never looked so small.
The Greyhound seat is cold and hard as I head for that great Gateway.
It is only six-years into the future.

Call Back

Inspired by a photographic image of Godzilla wading ashore at Crescent City, California, near Battery Point Lighthouse.

The lighthouse was situated  some 20 nautical miles west and north of the nearest seaport, slightly short of the great drop into the inky depths of the Pacific’s cold waters. It had been there since 1895 and had served its purpose well.

On some nights though, when thick fog and heavy, crashing seas were met on the large sea-stack that formed the foundation of the lighthouse, strange sounds could be heard emanating from that great depth. It were as if something were answering the deep bellow of the fog horn that sounded through the impenetrable darkness, and responding to the accompanying rotation of its bright glow and magnified by the polish of the Fresnel lens.

The three keepers, who rotated shifts of two-weeks each, told one another that it was merely imagination, set upon each man while in lonely isolation. That is until the youngest of the keepers, a Josh Breedon, lived through a waking nightmare.

One-hundred and twenty-two, that was the number of steps to the platform that housed the lens, as Breedon banged upward and out onto the catwalk, to enjoy a smoke, taking in the night’s breeze. The fog lay high, having yet to drop to sea level, giving him an unvarnished view of the blackened expanse that lay miles before him.

At first, Breedon believed he was watching the undulating movement of a large whale as it passed by and then circled the rocky platform. But soon it occurred to the youthful observer that he was looking at a massive body, perhaps three-times that in size of any ordinary whale.

Further, he believed that he could not only hear the darkened form reverberating, “Voquulo Zaa-q’ran,” as if in answer to the fog horns blast, but he could feel it’s subsonic vibrations racing through the stony tower. As the thing called back, it continued to circle the lone edifice until it was nearly making contact with its base.

By then the fog had started its majestic decent to the top of the waves, making it hard for the light keeper to fully fathom what was happening below. It was the sight of a large green head with red glowing eyes and tentacle like appendages, captured momentarily in the flash of the rotating lamps glare, that caused Breedon to rapidly retreat from the outer deck.

With that horrendous head came the deep bellow “Voquulo Zaa-q’ran,” in response to the continuing boom of the horn, followed by a webbed claw, reaching for the frightened man, now racing down the metal steps, heavy boots clanging, speeding for the safety of the ground floor. The entire thing shook with a great upheaval of violence, as he dashed to the safety of the machine room below the structure.

Breedon dived beneath a concrete work bench as the water-locked monument shuddered, crumbling around and over him. It would be two days before rescuers arrived to begin the task of digging the light keeper from his place of interment.

When asked what caused destruction, Breedon gave no answer. Eventually it was agreed that the ancient construct had suffered structural failure.

Replaced by a buoy, that emitted an electronic signal, a fog horn and bobbed at the end of a long, thick steel cable attached to the ocean bottom, the days of the lighthouses and the lighthouse keeper started coming to a close. Breedon found this acceptable as he remained too frightened to speak of that thing which befell the old lighthouse.

Instead, he moved to the 24-hour beacon of neon lights and the crashing coinage of the one-armed bandit, which line the streets of the many towns of Nevada. And it was amid this cacophony that Josh Breedon heard the familiar echo of  high desert, but failed to recognize its voice.

Deadly Biscuit Dough

As I walked through the grocery store I finally found where they keep the tubes of ready-to-bake biscuits. They were no where near the milk or butter, but way down beyond the eggs, near the yogurt.

As I stood looking over the vast selection, I was surprised by one of the tubes as it exploded. Startled as the end of the tin came flying at me, I jumped back, tripped and fell on my ass.

Unknown to me at the time, a lady shopping at the other end of the aisle heard the pop and witnessed me fall on my backside. She immediately raced for the front of the building to report an ‘active shooter.’

In the meantime, I stood up, looked around to see if anyone saw me get stupid, dusted myself off and proceeded to select a tube. Once at the checkout stand, I was forced to wait about an hour outside while the police searched for a ‘possible shooter,’ which put the store into a lock down situation.

After a while, one officer asked me to come with him to the main office. He showed me a video tape of myself hitting the floor. There was no denying the fact that the guy on the closed-circuit TV was me, so he asked and I explained what happened.

The majority of the cops present laughed, others sighed and the Sergeant grumbled impolitely as he left the office. Finally, with no ‘active shooter’ found, the all-clear was given and I was able to buy the biscuits for $2.29.

Now that I’m home, I’ve begun wondering if the dough is really trying to kill me or not, as I was jus’ laughing about the situation at the store and nearly choked on the bite of biscuit in my mouth.

What’s Funnier Than a Racist?

One of the women that I work with, and who sits behind me, was giggling through much of our shift. Near the end of our workday, she began outright laughing.

You must know this: she self-describes as a ‘Black person.’ I self-describe as ‘pasty.’

“What are you laughing about?” I had asked.

She pointed to her earphones and continued laughing, before finally answering, “Eddie Griffin — he’s killing me!”

She turned back and laughed some more. By this time she had the entire room chuckling because she is generally so quiet and unassuming.

Then she looked back at me and said aloud, “I love racist jokes!”

Nearly everyone fell about with laughter of their own. Her honesty caught many off guard and that made it even funnier.

I responded, laughingly, “Why, so do I!”

Another woman, also Black, sitting across from the laughing woman looked directly at me and stated flatly: “Oh, I bet you do!”

While smiling at her, I began laughing like Eddie Murphy from ‘Beverly Hills Cop.’ As she looked away, laughter erupted.

Our supervisor, who was also laughing, eventually had to to tell everybody to settle down.