Twine


Dad, can we stop and see that ball of twine we heard about yesterday?” my son asked.

“Sure,” I said as we approached Exit 13 that led to the town.

Twine Town isn’t its real name. I don’t want to remember the name, let alone have a desire to say it aloud.

We stopped there to see the world’s second-largest ball of twine. It was started in 1933 by Henry Johnson in memory of his two children, who died one early morning after they lost the guideline from the barn to the house in a blizzard.

The boy and girl froze to death, less than 10 feet from the back porch. Mrs. Johnson lost her mind with grief, dying a year later after being placed in an asylum.

Henry Johnson died twenty years later when the ball was only seven feet around. Since then, Twine Town has held an annual festival, said to be on the anniversary of the children’s death, adding twine and increasing its circumference a little at a time.

Taken by the huge Gordian Knot, my twelve-year-old son walked around it, running his hand over its rough and uneven surface. After a few pictures, I stepped outside for fresh air as the room had a funky rancid odor.

After a couple of minutes, I returned to where I had left my son. Only, he was gone.

Panicked, I raced around the small quad, searching for him. Finally, I headed for the police department to help.

“Are you sure he didn’t run away or something?” the officer at the desk asked.

“He wouldn’t do that,” I answered, “Besides, he doesn’t know anyone around here, and he’s rather shy.”

“Well, your boy wouldn’t be the first child to surprise his parents by running off,” he said, “I’ll get a BOLO on the air. I’m sure he’ll turn up.”

“I’m going back over to the ball of twine, in case he did wander away and returns,” I said.

“You do that,” the officer said.

While bothered by his attitude, I left and returned to the display. As I loitered about the place, I noticed town folk watching me, some looking away when I made eye contact, others staring.

As I tried not to notice the odd behavior, I turned to look at the twine. Something flashed, then fell to the floor with a metallic sound.

Walking over to look at the object, I instantly recognized it as the silver cross and chain I had given him for his last birthday. I studied the area to see from where it could have come.

Then it struck me. My son was inside the ball of twine.

Not taking the time to think about how he might have gotten inside it, I took out my knife and cut away. A reddish mist sprayed out and into my face, arms and hands.

I hacked until I could push the upper half of my body inside the sphere and grab my son.

He was being held fast by twine, which I chopped and cut until it released him. Free, I lifted him over my shoulder and dashed for my truck.

By the time I locked the doors, a crowd of people had gathered and began beating at the vehicle’s window.

Quickly, I started the truck, and without hesitation, stomped the gas pedal to the floorboard. And though I ran down two or three people, I sped out of the town’s limits within five minutes.

I looked at my son, and he gave me a goofy little smile as he recovered from his frightening ordeal.

“How did you end up inside the ball of twine?” I asked.

“It grabbed me, opened its mouth, and swallowed me,” he answered.

That night, being some 100 miles away from the place, I left my boy asleep in our motel room and drove back to Twine Town. The place was quiet, nobody on the sidewalks, and no vehicles in the street.

With the five-gallon gas can I had purchased beforehand, I slipped into the display area with the twine and doused it, using all the fluid in the container. As I prepared to strike a match to the ball, a general alarm sounded, and the quad suddenly filled with people.

Realizing I could not escape, I tossed the match to the twine and stepped back to watch as it turned into an all-consuming blaze. As it began to unravel, I saw, much to my fright, the gathering outside the display area begin to disentangle as well.

Taking a chance, I pushed my way out the door and through the now struggling mass of unwinding humanoids. Half a second later, I was in my truck and speeding out of town.

In my rearview mirror, I could see nothing but a conflagration as the entire town disappeared in a hellish wall of flames.

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