Category Archives: Folklore

Reflections In A Car Mirror: #AtoZ Blog Challenge 2019

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#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary Reflections badge

26 Posts

A total of 36,061 Words

A Car In The Woods

Six years of participation. Six years surviving. Six years.

This year kicked my ass.

I’m not someone who outlines these things. Titles, maybe (i.e. the Road Signs year). I get the basic idea, like it enough, think I’ll get some mileage out of it, and go with it, peddle to the metal.

I originally planned to just do individual stories. The only through line connector would be the Narrator (the Present Day voice). My take on The Twilight Zone.But then…

Commenters got invested in the mystery. The clicking sounds. Then the Thunderbird. Finally, Patricia, Debra, and Tim. What started out as a Horror/Mystery series of lightly connecting pieces began to form a larger story. So, commenters, you may take credit for leading me in this direction.

I also began to care and think about the family.

Zeno the mutated frog was planned before I started. This is a real African frog known as the Clawed Foot. It does not have a tongue and makes a clicking sound instead of croaking. It can’t make the usual frog noise. AND: it was (is being?) used in many Biochemical labs as a test subject for a variety of reasons. I had my X post planned out, and the Z post.

Which changed drastically by the time I reached Z.

The Narrator was originally going to remain a mysterious “voice” in the woods, with Z being a more philosophical/paranormal pondering. Once I introduced Eddie, it felt right for him to take on that role. By the very end, and the reason why Monday the 29th’s post was delayed, I was having an intense inner struggle: let Eddie live to fulfill the role I was planning, or let him die and have someone else become the narrator.

Tim was a bit fragile, with all the trauma he went through. Patricia needed, I felt, a happier life. That left Debra, the smart mouthed, arm punching, take no shit Sister.

Eddie vs. Debra. A full day was spent with inner debates, and then a well thought out feedback email came along. Thanks, Melanie. If you are not familiar with Atherton’s Magic Vapour, you really should check it out.

I didn’t want to be predictable, but in the end I guess I was, based on the few comments I had at the end.

The posts were much longer than I should have written. The story took me where the story took me. Blog hoppers don’t always want to invest in long posts. Pop in. Hit the like button. Leave a comment here and there. Not this puppy. The lowest word count of the main story was 887 words (I on April 10th). The longest was the Y post, with 2,936 words. In case you’re wondering, I wrote the Z post’s 1,491 words the same day I wrote Y.

4,427 words. One day. I think I used up all the words in my head. The night was for vegging out.

The Saturday posts were hint drops for things as yet unexplained. Some were straight forward, most needed your thinking cap on to make the connections. I felt I didn’t have to hit the readers on the head with explaining every last detail. Sometimes solving things, or allowing your own mind to wonder, can be a great experience.

As for TB, there are clues scattered here and there about the T-bird. Red Thunderbird-4 was described by one reader as just gobbledygook. It’s the least straight forward of the Saturday posts, but read between the lines and look at the graphic inserts. Add that to the last week of stories and TB’s role.

I want to thank every single person who read, liked, and commented on the day-to-day posts. This is what stirred me on, made me think, and really boosted a confidence that needed a lot of boosting. Congrats to everyone who completed, or attempted, this years Blog Challenge.

Big thanks to all the hosts of 2019’s AtoZ Blog Challenge:

Arlee Bird (founder) @ Tossing it Out
J Lenni Dorner (captain) @ Blog of Author J Lenni Dorner
Zalka Csenge Virág @ The Multicolored Diary

John Holton @ The Sound of One Hand Typing

Jayden R Vincente @ J R Vincente Erotica Writer

Jeremy Hawkins (graphics) @ Hollywood Nuts

Final Words:

Is this story done? Are there questions you still have, threads you feel I didn’t tie together?  Why did I choose the titles for each piece? Thoughts, comments, Agents who you think should read this? I’d love to hear from you.

There’s a car in the woods.

Link To AtoZ Reflections Sheet

And to finish this out, the following are 10 Reasons Why I Hate You

10 Questions To Answer:

  1. What did you love about the challenge this year?
    1. As always, getting my creative juices flowing & finding new blogs to read/follow
  2. What would you change about it?
    1. Group the Master List by categories, as we’re asked to choose where our blog fits in.
  3. What was the best moment for you during this year’s challenge?
    1. The comments of those who really followed my complicated story line.
  4. What is the best comment your blog got during the challenge, and who left the comment?
        1. First Post: “Excellent start, Stu. Almost David Baldacci meets Stephen King. Expertly narrated.” by Varad
        2. Last Post: “Fantastic story. Had me riveted to my seat on every entry. Well done.” by Harvey

       

  5. Will you do the challenge again?
    1. Most likely. Depends where my head is at next April
  6. Was it well organized and were the hosts helpful? (Did you fill out the after survey?)
    1. Survey Says: It’s done. This year, the main AtoZ page was a little hard to navigate. Took too many tries to find things. i.e. Master List
  7. How did you and your blog grow, change, or improve as a result of this challenge? Did you find new blogs out there to enjoy?
    1. The more I write, the better I feel my storytelling gets. Each year has its fans, but I really pushed myself this year, and I think it shows.
  8. Were you on the Master List? (If you did the challenge last year, was it better this time without the daily lists?)
    1. Yep I was. I do with we saw the deletions as previous years. Winnows down searches.
  9. Any suggestions for our future?
    1. Throw us a curve-ball: Start the month with Z, work out way to A. Something.
  10. Any notes to the co-host team? A word of thanks to Jeremy for all his hard work on the graphics?
    1. As always, thank you. The graphics were excellent. Thanks.

 

 

That’s All Folks. Comments are always appreciated. Did you like my April output? Are there things I left open that still leave you puzzled? Who wrote the book of love? Just want to say “Hi Stu!”?

Enjoy

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Todd, Summoning

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ChairandChisel

©ChairandChisel

TODD, SUMMONING

Elwina, blood cousin, thrice removed, of the albino prince of the Dragon Isle, grasped Hellbringer, the Demon Sword, in her ebon armored right hand. The armor gleamed, polished and pristine. Eldritch black sparks cascaded down her left arm, fist raised on high.

High being optimum, standing at just over seven feet. With those heels? Ahem.  I had to stretch my neck back to see if another weapon was being equally grasped. Nope. Just her fist, which was formidable enough as is.

I had done the Sacred Dance of Interpretation, sacrificed the Two Glazed Legs of a Chicken (they were yum), and dropped a drop of Ceremony Wine into the Silver Chalice of The Dead God. Poof! She appeared. Angry, but she was here.

I had summoned here in the dungeon cell of my place of habitat. Twenty foot ceiling, plenty of light pouring through the barred high windows, and wall to wall Enchanted Weeping Stone. The black shag carpet was a nice touch; mother did well in that respect.

Elwina stamped a mighty thump on the carpeting, which wasn’t the effect I think she was going for. It was followed, though, with a booming, echoing voice, amplified by the curly-cue helmet she wore.

“Todd, Master of the Flickering Candle, Supreme Master of the D20, Devourer of Smoked Meats, Keeper of the Chilling Collectables, and Scion of Queen Yen-Tah,” she paused, whether for a breath or effect, then continued, “Why have YOU summoned me hence?”

“Um,” I stalled, bowing as far over as my cinched pants would allow. “Um, my lady, I do not think “hence” means what you think it means.” I unbowed. “You see, hence means…”

Her left sparkly hand was suddenly in front of my face, mere inches from my nose. As the tip of proboscis began to emit the aroma of a summer BBQ, I knew enough at that moment to not let the “Ouch!” leave my lips.

Bits of stone, from the walls, shattered, dropping onto the shag with her next words.

“Am I here to amuse you, Todd? Do you think I am a Jester?” Her already red eyes, glaring at me through her armored head, were ablaze. “Do I make you laugh?”

I felt my mustache and eyebrows singe.

“Chaos forbid, O’  twelfth Princess of The Dreaming City. Farthest thing from my mind. Please forgive my, um, basest of conjectures.” Bowing again, not as deep as before, because I wanted to keep an eye on Hellbringer, I added: “I am but discarded foliage adrift in a hailstorm.”

I waited, hoping I had abased myself just enough.

Elwina lowered her twinkling fist, at the same time slamming her demon sword into its scabbard. Not too gently, she pushed me back enough that I almost lost my footing. A few feet separated us now.

“Well?” The word bounced around the room. Thunder was in her voice. Very, very frightening.

“Methought, m’lady, um, you might behoove a simple, tiny request. A wish.”

She stood stock still and silent. I took that as a good sign. That, and Hellbringer was still sheathed.

“Tonight marks the beginning of the Centennial Celebration of the War That Should Never Have Been. The Dowagers of the WTSNHB have prepared for this eve for the last decade. Everyone who is anyone in Evermore will be there.”

“So?” Her hand went ever so quietly to the hilt of her damned sword.

I mumbled incoherently. My heart was in my throat.

She took off her helmet and through it at me. My shoulder throbbed. Better than it hitting me square in the face.

“My gods, are you a man or a slithy tove? State you wish. Now! What did you summon me here for, Todd?”

I was still rubbing my shoulder.

“Yeah, um, well…It’s a big night. An event. Happens only once a century.” Her eyes narrowed, a deep depression formed between her at the bridge of her nose. She swept a lock of her red hair out of her face, having fallen with the tossing of her helmet.

She stared.

I bowed.

“Um, Lady Elwin, would you do me the honor of accompanying me to this most illustrious ball?”

The silence that followed felt as if another century had passed before she spoke again.

“Are you, Todd, asking me on a date?”

I stood, looked up into her eyes, and nodded.

“About frigging time! Why do you think I spent the time polishing my best armor?”

Once outside, passing by my mother and assuring her I would be back at the appointed time, Elwina drew Hellbringer and commanded it transform itself into a Coach and Four.

We arrived at the ball fashionably late.

I did not make it home until a week later, but that is a tale best told at another time.

 

Red Thunder-4: #AtoZ Blog Challenge

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A Car In The Woods: Third Interlude

2019 AtoZ Blog Challenge

New? This is a serialized work. Please start on A: A Car In The Woods

AtoZ2019R RED THUNDER-4

 

SUBJECT:  1957 FORD THUNDERBIRD CONVERTIBLE AMELIORATION

TO: ALL DEPARTMENT HEADS

LOCATION: LABS: 1-25

PRIORITY: URGENT

64-32818

REPORT:

I.

  1. Progress in Lab 4: Decisive positive results ahead of schedule.
  2. Integration Ratio reduced by .018
  3. Spatial Cognizance Acute
  4. Live test exceeded stress calculations
  5. Action: Immediate commencement to Phase Three

Bone

II.

  1. Labs 1-3, 5, 9-14, 16-19: full systematic failures.
  2. Termination Code: DPB-2549
  3. Scrap all previous procedures.
  4. Action: Lab 4 Documentation Disbursement to All Labs by 1400 Hours

 

III.

  1. Labs 20-25:
  2. Resume Alpha-X biogenic testing.
  3. Increase control methodology
  4. Increase rapid response by 3.45

 

 

 

 

 

 

Questing Beast: #AtoZ Blog Challenge

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A Car In The Woods: Chapter Fourteen

2019 AtoZ Blog Challenge

New? This is a serialized work. Please start on A: A Car In The Woods

AtoZ2019Q QUESTING BEAST

1965

Girl was out.

She prowled around the woods. Marking one tree and then tearing out a bush by the roots because it was stubbornly in her way.  Her misshapen paws pulverized the things that got in her way. Girl’s tail brushed the earth, picking up twigs, leaves, and other detritus on its sweep to the right; the items sent flying off to the left on the tail’s return arc. Her coat was shaggy and matted, tufts of grey replacing some of the blacks. Girl heeled, turning her head one way and then the other.

There.

The sound.

A round of barking was followed by growl vibration. The thing she was after sped off. Girl clicked into Tracking Mode. She went from at rest to forty-eight mph in just under ten seconds.

She barely panted.

The deep bass clicking noise came from above her. Night and dense leaf coverage made it near impossible to see her quarry. Her prey was springing from branch to branch, tree to tree, heading in a straight line north. Girl could follow this: the sound of the clicking above sped up, pauses for breath at short intervals. Twigs, bark, and leaves fell in its passing, leaving a trail for Girl to trample over in pursuit.

Just ahead, a different sound after a landing on another branch. A creak, followed by crack, and pieces of bark from the trunk, and the bough, fell to the ground.  Girl froze. Waited. Her target did not follow. The breaking through the tree’s canopy, the sounds of leaping from one limb to another, sent a cacophony of noise that was easy to follow.

She did, gaining speed, closing the distance. If they had been on the same level Girl would have had her jaws embedded in its throat already. A short series of barks stirred them both on. She sprinted around trees of varying widths. Tall bushes were conquered by massive leaps over and beyond. She tore through the brambles that were increasing in density. They tore back, thorns sharp and greedy, but Girl went on.

The clicking noise was moving off its straight path. Girl smelled familiar scents, recognized her surroundings. She sped past the grove of trees, the grassy clearings, the car. She was on a path she knew well. The booming clicks didn’t matter anymore. They were both heading in the same direction; the same destination.

Girl clicked to her top speed and zoomed off. Ten more mph then before. Her tongue lolled out the side of her open jaws, drool spinning out behind her.

As she broke free of the woods, Girl slowed enough so she wouldn’t wind up in the lake water. Standing between the soft ground and grass that gave way to gravel and rocks, Girl looked out over the still water, a lit reflection off to the edge. Looking up and beyond, Girl noticed in the distance a change from above. A glow began to rise, cutting away the dark bit by bit. She walked onto the rough shoreline, turned to the woods, and waited.

The sound of branches breaking, some hitting the forest floor, merged with the fast-paced clicking discordance. Girl’s ears perked, moved over to compensate from where the sounds were coming from. Her tail was stiff and her teeth danced around the vibrations from her growls. Tension ran through her as she made ready to leap.

The leaves and wood exploded as her kill went airborne. Except it wasn’t in Girl’s straight path. A final side leap changed its trajectory. The growing light saw it land a good distance from Girl. Its yellow-green slimy skin bounced the sunlight that hit its back into Girl’s eyes. It was a momentary blinding, but it was enough. Girl’s reaction was split second.

Just not on the right side of that split.

The plunk in the water took her intended victim out of range. Girl began howling so loud that any birds and animal that had been returning quickly turned tail and left. The barking that followed was aimed at the lake. The lake didn’t care.

A sound behind her ceased the barking. Three horn beeps. She knew the sound. Girl sat on her haunches, still staring out at the lake. She waited for the car to stop, for the lights in her face to go away. The car wheels were running over the gravel, nice and slow. It came her way. She finally turned to look at the car as it slowed to a stop. The headlights followed.

Her head did its tilting thing. She saw him get out and come towards her. He stopped just beyond the reach of her jaws. He crossed his arms over his chest. His head made its own motion that made as much sense to Girl as hers did to him.

She barked. Three times. Waited.

“Those idiots renamed you well. ‘Giatisant.’ You are a barking beast, girl. One great big Giatisant! I heard you all the way back at the glen.”

A low growl started low in the throat.

Slowly holding out his hand, he eased over, scratching her head, then under her jaw, then down her back. He patted her on the side and sighed.

“C’mon, Girl. Time to get back. Sun is coming up, and we don’t want to be seen, not that there’s anyone out here to see us. C’mon. Let’s go.”

He walked back to the car, aware she wasn’t following him. Opening the passenger side door, he patted the red leather seat as he turned to face her. She was still in the same place, but that’s not what bothered him, much.

Girl was stark still, dead on staring at him.

“Shit. C’mon, Girl. We need to get out of here.”

No movement.

“Hey. Girl. Now. Get in the car.”

She was now laying down, her massive head on her massive front paws. She licked her lips.

“OK. OK. I’m sorry, Girl. I shouldn’t have called you by that name. I won’t do it again. Just stupid on my part.” He waited. “Girl?”

The great Staring Contest by the lake ended in his defeat. He sighed.

“C’mon, Schatzi. Let’s go.”

He almost closed the door on her wagging tail. It thumped against the seat in a hard rhythm. He started up the engine and Girl settled down, head already hanging over the side of the door. He revved the Thunderbird’s engine, made sure the top was down, and they took off.

 

Present Day

Things had been getting out of hand for a while.

Aggression grew sharp and raw.

Reasoning went the other direction.

Things got out.

Things always got out.

There was a car in the woods.

O, Woeful Lament: #AtoZ Blog Challenge

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A Car In The Woods: Chapter Twelve

2019 AtoZ Blog Challenge

New? This is a serialized work. Please start on A: A Car In The Woods

AtoZ2019O O, WOEFUL LAMENT

1962

 

“Weeks. Just three weeks,” murmured Sheriff John Miner into his lunch, a greasy Bacon Cheeseburger with mustard, mayo, and ketchup. Just what he wanted. Just what the doctor told him, repeatedly, to stay away from. He lied to himself that not ordering fries evened things out.

“What’s that, John?” Patricia was behind the counter, back turned to him, preparing to make a fresh pot of coffee.

“Nothing, Pat. Nothing at all.” He bit into the burger, the juice dribbling across the long hairs of his mustache and into his need-to-be trimmed beard. He chewed twice and swallowed, watching Pat bending over to get a clean pot from underneath. “I might be old, but I have eyes,” he’d say every time one of his deputies, or his drinking cronies, caught him eyeing someone other than Mrs. John Miner.

When Eddie disappeared, he made an effort not to leer. It was only respectful, seeing how he did like Eddie, for the most part. He gave himself permission to enjoy himself again after about four months. Just happened that was about the same time that Pat came back to the luncheonette, picking up her shifts again.

Munching away, in between slurps of his cup of Joe, which Pat filled every time the cup was at the halfway point, he thought about his retirement. As far as he was concerned, it couldn’t come soon enough. Full pension, money saved up; he was leaving this godforsaken place and heading south to warmer climates. He was counting the days.

He grunted, the coffee burning his tongue on contact. “Yeah, outta here. Snow, ice, and all these damn eerie disappearances.” Sheriff John never really sussed out if he was more bothered by the missing or the fact it was putting a dent on his record. Not being very self-aware kept things, like a clean conscious, at bay.

Finished, he tried to pay, but Sam, the cook/owner, waved him away. As usual. They went through this every day. Patricia wanted to refuse the tip, but she needed the money. Sheriff John knew it and always left her a dollar anyways. Putting on his hat as he got outside, he huffed as he saw his deputy, Will Kane, outside waiting for him.

“Sheriff,” Will touching the brim of his hat.

“Will, what now?”

He knew what it was. The Sheriff was trying to push it away, but it kept coming up. He was afraid this would bite him in the ass at least one more time before he was done. He looked Will in the eye, once again assessing the deputy. Did he make the right choice in grooming the kid to take over? It wasn’t the first time he thought that. Each time he did, the Sheriff calculated how much longer he had, and each time he had the same answer: it wouldn’t be his problem once he was gone.

“Complaints about the sounds from the woods, same as the last two weeks. We had to split up today because of the different areas reporting in.”

“Same sound?”

Will nodded. He didn’t want to add that he thought he had heard that disturbing clicking sound as well, just the other day. He drew his gun from his nightstand, threw on a coat, and checked the area. Nothing. Will didn’t know what to think anymore. The reports coming in were getting under his skin.

Plus, the fact, that over the last year there were five more “incidents.” It unnerved the whole area. Already some families had left. More might follow.

“OK, Will. You know the drill. Lord knows at this point how many times we’ve done this search-and-discover Jack, but we have to. Since last night was that bad, I’ll pull in some favors with the State boys. If I can.”

“Seven,” Will thought, slightly gritting his teeth. Seven half-assed attempts. He knew the Sheriff was both biding his time and putting on a show to appease. Less than a month, and he was already planning to run things differently.

Will had no way of knowing that Sheriff John had the exact same thoughts about his predecessor just before the old man retired.

Both men got into their respective Ford Fairlane cruisers and headed back to the Sheriff’s office to plan the night’s forays.

~~~~~    ~~~~~    ~~~~~

Three nights later, and they had nothing. The State Troopers gave up on the second night, returning to their speed traps and truck stops. The Sheriff had bolstered his staff with deputized volunteers who he insisted must travel with one of the normal deputies only as a backup. They petered out until the only two volunteers left were the idiots who discovered the Thunderbird in the first place: Todd and Barry.

Todd rode with the Sheriff on the first night out; Barry on the second. The third night, he rode alone. The two talked, and talked, and talked throughout their rides. It was all one piece of BS after another, the stories no longer even coming close to their statements from ’59. He wound up dropping them both off on their respective ride-along at any tavern on their route. The buzzing in his head stayed with him well after he returned home and opened up his Scotch.

The Sheriff and Will went out separately on the fourth night. The calls had died down to next to nothing by then. Will thought one more night might catch the noisemakers or shake them enough to move on out of the area. Sheriff John didn’t care anymore. The days were counting down, and cruising in his car at night, alone, sounded just fine with him.

By 2:30 a.m., Will was calling it a night. The Sheriff agreed. His body sagged into the seat. Tilting his head back onto the headrest, he rolled down the window a touch, the cold air hitting his face. He began humming to himself, which morphed easily into singing “Kill the wabbit! Kill the wabbit! Kill the wabbit” and then laughing. He loved that cartoon.

He was about to go into another piece he heard through Loony Tunes. Headlights approaching, coming up fast. He moved his cruiser to the right, skirting the ridge of the side rut. The car blew past him, honking once when they were level.

Swearing, Sheriff John hit the Cherries and Berries, U Turned, and sped after the car, sirens blaring. “Damit,” he yelled. “That damned Thunderbird. I’ve had enough,” reverberated through the cabin. The T Bird increased speed. The Fairlane did as well. The turns were sharp, the road dark, but Sheriff John white-knuckled it and floored the gas pedal. It wasn’t until the T Bird’s brake lights lit before it went off-road that the Sheriff took his right hand off the wheel, picked up the two-way and called in for backup.

He knew exactly where he was being led. He cursed at the car and whoever was inside it non-stop. Until the Fairlane stopped, right passenger tire going flat after hitting something sticking out of the dirt road.

Sheriff John left the headlights on, put the car in park, and got out. His right hand went to his sidearm, drawing it out slowly, clicking off the safety. Staying behind the open door, his gaze traveled along the empty grassy field in front of him. It took a second for that eyeballed information to reach his thinking process.

Empty. Tallgrass, dark outlines of trees off in the near distance, but nothing else. He started to call out but didn’t; movie logic never made much sense to him. If the headlights were throwing their vision off, why give them a voice to focus on? He waited. The lack of bird or animal noise caused his forehead to perspire. It wasn’t natural.

The Sheriff made his decision: he needed to find that damned car and whoever drove it. He reached in and turned off the engine, leaving the headlights on Brights. Forgetting his hat on the passenger side was unlike him, but he had closed his door already and didn’t want any more large movements that might take him down.

Three steps away from his Ford and the clicking sound started. This one loud and deep, not at all like the majority of the callers described it. This was thunderous. Four more steps away and the ground buckled under him sending him sprawling. His gun spiraled out of his control. Rolling over, he looked back at his Fairlane. Something huge was on top of the car, its right arm smashing through the front window while the left was digging deeply into the driver’s door.

The thing jumped up, landing on top and crushed the roof. The rest of the window glass shattered. The other tires burst as the car was jumped on again and again. The Sheriff began to inch away, a reverse crawling motion that was jerky at best.

His escape was inconvenienced by two factors: while he was looking at the shape destroy his car, a less volatile clicking nose what now behind him; and his head was stopped by a foot being placed on his head, pushing it into the cold soil.

Sheriff John peed himself while his arms and legs were similarly restrained. He started to address them, question them, abase himself, but the backhanded slap cracked his head around so he was eating grass. The foot holding his head down had been removed before the slap. It found its way back.

A figure crouched down, facing him. The Sheriff could taste the blood running out of his face; he tried to spit it in the other’s face, but it barely cleared his lips. A hand came around his cheeks and squeezed, the pressure strong. The two made eye contact, and the Sheriff could only let out a gasp.

“Hey, Sheriff John. Long time, eh?” The voice was grave. It had a vibration to it, changing the pitch and tone as he spoke. He, because the Sheriff knew who this was. Quick glances around and he caught some familiar faces. It wasn’t much of a leap of intelligence, even for the Sheriff, to realize he was being held down by some of the missing.

“Hey, hey. Look at me. Yeah, it’s me. Gary. Remember me? Remember all the hassles we received from you? HEY!” He slapped the Sheriff again; the clicking sounds made its rounds, only stopping when he focused on the young man.

He started choking on the blood that was pooling and spit that onto the ground. It hurt to talk, but he had to make sense of what was happening.

“Maynard?”

Gary growled. “Man, you too. Any idea how much I hated being called that? This much,” as a hard object hit the Sheriff between the eyes. When he was finally able to open his eyes, he saw that the little bastard was brandishing a pretty large knife in his hands, flipping it back and forth.

Gary stood as the others picked the Sheriff up and held him, their claws digging into his extremities.

“There are other things I hate, Sheriff. A lot of that hate is directed your way. Yeah, yeah, you were doing your job, we were delinquents and all of that. But, it all added up. It was other things. We thought we knew you, knew to stay out of your way. But, I got to watch you on some of your night excursions. Things. You know? Things.” He swept his arms around. “Not to all of us.”

One of the others hauled back and punched the Sheriff in the stomach. He noticed it was a woman once he could straighten up. A damn strong woman.

“One of your unasked questions I’ll give you a freebie to: me and the others were taken, but it was as recruits. Recruits. Tested. Poked. Punctured. Changed.

But not you. We were. Not you. Definitely not you.”

Gary gestured, and they all manhandled the Sheriff back towards his car. Well, what was left of it. The hulking mass was on top of the pile of pieces. Its head picked up, and the huge clicking noise it made was followed by the stench of its breath.

Before the Sheriff could say anything, beg, curse, or even draw in another breath, Gary thrust the heavy duty combat knife into the Sheriff’s back. He gave it a twist as he pulled it out. The woman who punched the Sheriff in the gut kicked and sent Sheriff John flying towards the car.

There were no screams as they faded back into the woods. Clicking sounds filled up the void.

 

Present Day

Some had slight regrets for that evening’s outcome.

Mainly that Sheriff John Miner was already dead by the time Zeno got its meal.

The thrashing seemed to mellow Zeno’s clicking.

Not that night.

There was a car in the woods.   

 

 

 

Nap-Of-The-Earth Flight: #AtoZ Blog Challenge

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A Car In The Woods: Chapter Eleven

2019 AtoZ Blog Challenge

New? This is a serialized work. Please start on A: A Car In The Woods

AtoZ2019N NAP-OF-THE-EARTH FLIGHT

1961

The Chevy Bel Air was not made for the back roads. David cursed under his breath every time they hit something, and the steering wheel shook in his hands. He barely regained control at one point after hitting a tree root that tore through the earth. He was also starting to lose control of himself: he didn’t tell David he was still dropping Bennies like candy, even though he swore that was over and done with.

His last hit was hours ago; David refused the urge to take one in front of his only friend. Just barely. He was coming down; the ragged route they were taking and Eddie’s urging him to slow down was not helping in the least.

Parking his car, finally, David got out and looked around at the massive trees as a whole. He instantly began to shudder. Nam memories, the training, the ambushes, the bullets flying, just too much. He closed his eyes, breathing hard, almost hyperventilating. Eddie came over and put his hand on David’s shoulder. It was grounding. It was enough.

David retrieved a flashlight from the trunk of the Chevy. They’d need it soon, Eddie told him, assuring David that they wouldn’t need it for long. They had to get back to chow down and alleviate the worry lines that Patricia was wearing when they left the house.

David was envious. He hadn’t had anyone in his life who cared about him since soon after he got back from his last tour. Driving them away was easier than facing the devils inside him.  Three someones. Thinking of Eddie’s family set up made him want a Benny even more at the moment.

They trudged through the tall grass and proceeded through tough, dry bramble. A little blood was poked out as they made their way clear. The further into the woods they got, the more the trees were growing thicker. Again, Nam.

David had to stop. The urge to pop every single pill he had left was riding high. Eddie hadn’t realized he wasn’t right behind him until he turned to motion him to silence. There was just light enough for David to catch the worry he saw pass over Eddie’s face. David walked on and caught up.

Being on alert, the two went light-footed, passing through a dense grove of trees. They stopped;  a clearing showing just beyond the ridge of the tree line.

Eddie pushed his left hand down fast and crouched.  David followed ASAP.  The left hand fisted up. They froze. David noticed Eddie point to him, then motioned him to follow. He gave him the thumbs up.
They went into stealth mode, taking in their surroundings, listening for things they did not see.

What they did see made them both smile, lips closed.

The very cherry Cherry-Red Thunderbird. Eddie hadn’t really believed it existed. David just fell in love.

Satisfied they were alone with the car, they approached, still heads and eyes on a swivel. Approaching the T-Bird, David wanted to whistle but suppressed that urge. It was beautiful. The red leather seats accented with the white piping and inlays. It was soft under his hand; he ran it over the seat back. Eddie was walking around the car’s perimeter, taking in the details he still could with the ever fading sunlight. David resisted getting behind the wheel for just a breath before he opened the door and climbed in.

A shattering noise came, off to the left. David’s car. It was in that general area. The screeching of metal tearing apart sent them both into high alert. Eddie dropped, going prone behind the T-Bird’s rear.  David hadn’t closed the car door. He tucked and rolled out, going to deep knees by the rear tire. As he scanned to the left, then the right, David rolled up his pant leg and drew out the combat knife he had strapped and hidden.

Another thing he didn’t tell Eddie he was still hooked on.

A couple of heavy crunches more in that general area and then silence. Eddie crawled over, putting he left hand out and palm forward. They waited. Nothing. They waited a bit longer. Still nothing.

The sunlight was almost completely gone. The darkening sky was cloudless which worked both to and against their advantage. Light enough to see; light enough to be seen. They didn’t see anything. They didn’t hear anything. There was no choice. They had to move.

Clicking noises surrounded them the instant they stood. David moved his palm forward hand in front of him. Eddie didn’t know either. “Run,” Eddie said, low and angry. David instinctively took the rear, his knife clenched and ready.

The attack came from both sides, fast and furious. Eddie, in front, was bowled over, enough force used to send him tumbling up to the tree line, his back connecting to one hard scaly trunk. Dazed, Eddie almost missed what came next. Raising himself, first on his elbows, and then to his knees, he was too far away and weaponless to be of any help.

Two things were all over David. People. Things. He shook his head, needing it to clear. He saw David on the attack, his knife sadly only a momentary advantage. He was being circled. Thrusting out, he missed on the first two tries. One landed a glancing punch to David’s shoulder, sending him off balance. The other sent a bone breaking kick to David’s left knee. On his way down, his arm went up and down, the combat knife tasting flesh and blood.

Eddie was standing, leaning on the tree when he saw David lose the knife. The one who kicked him picked up the knife. The other one was on one knee, black looking blood leaking down its leg, both hands in claws ripping along David’s back. The knife slashed along David’s front. One long reach back and a swing, and David’s head came flying towards were Eddie stood.

Then the things turned their attention to Eddie and raced towards him.

Clicking noises sounded at Eddie’s back as he retreated, his survival instincts clicked into high gear.

As he entered the woods, he knew he needed a weapon.

~~~~~    ~~~~~    ~~~~~

After climbing up the tree, jumping to the next one, and then using that tree’s abundance of leaves as camouflage, Eddie worked on an overhead branch, solid enough to be used as a club. Not too entrenched that there’d be no use expending energy on it. This one tested true to his needs.

As he pulled and pushed, he ran through what had occurred. It was no use thinking about any reasoning behind the two who were after him. The facts were: they were fast and strong; they killed David; most likely they were still in possession of David’s knife; and judging by the intermittent clicking noise, they were still coming for him.

In the distance, a quickly receding series of ground thumping sounds came at the right moment. The tree branch came off, the cracking partially covered up whatever it was that most likely destroyed David’s car. He swung it, feeling for its balance. It wasn’t a perfect weapon. He’d have to make it one.

The canopy of leaves surrounding him started shaking. “Damnit,” he thought, as he hurled himself off of his perch, the makeshift club firmly placed into his right armpit. Landing on the tree limb just below, he heard two separate light landings above and to either side. He swung upwards, connecting with a hand or a foot. He wasn’t sure, but a plummeting body was good enough.

No cry on the way down. Above, the clicking got intense and angry sounding. Eddie was winding up to take another swing, but the club went flying as his face was backhanded. Eddie landed, his back again meeting painful force as he fell onto the hard limb. He kicked out, caught the figure in the gut, giving him the room to move.

Eddie jumped, tumbling down, the whipping branches slowing him enough so that when he hit the ground Eddie was winded, but nothing was broken. He quickly glanced around as he stood. The club had landed near enough. Grabbing it, he took off again. He needed another advantage point.

He wasn’t going to get one.

The Click was on him. Eddie got one good hit with his club, but that was all he got. David’s knife bit into his right thigh, missing the arterial but sending pain ripping up his leg. Tried as he could, he couldn’t avoid the punch in the side of the head that took him down.

As he was being pummeled into unconsciousness, his last thought was of Pat.

~~~~~    ~~~~~    ~~~~~

Patricia waited up all night. Debra and Timothy tried to stay awake with her in the living room, worried sick about their Dad and Uncle David. Tim folded first. Debra soon after.

Debra woke up to daylight and the sound of her mother speaking on the phone. She started to tear up as she listened from the couch.

“Hi, Sheriff. It’s Patricia Kelly. No. Nothing is all right, I think.” She took a deep breath in and slowly let it out.

“Eddie didn’t come home last night. He and his army friend. Neither came home last night. Please, John. Help.”

~~~~~ ~~~~~

Sheriff John Miner was called to the site by his deputy, Will Kane. As his Ford Fairlane pulled alongside Will’s, the tightness in his chest was finally expelled. Getting out of the cruiser, Sheriff John put his hat on and walked over to the remains of a Chevy Bel Air.

“Again,” he said. A statement, not a question.

“Yes, Sheriff. It’s as Mrs. Kelly said, same two-tone colors. The rest, well, there it is.”

“Eddie and his friend?”

Will shook his head. “No trace of either of them. The boys and I followed the paths they must have made: bent, broken grass; couple of pieces of material caught on bramble spikes. Trail goes dead after a bit. Came back and got you on the horn.”

The Sheriff took off his hat and slapped it against his leg and let out a drawn out “Shit!”

He wasn’t looking forward to an ongoing search. Again.

Putting his hat back on, he realized he really wasn’t looking forward to telling Patricia and her kids the news.

 

Present Day

Training.

Training and natural skills.

Evade. Gain advantage.

Lose it.

Capture or kill.

There was a car in the woods.

 

 

Monday Mourning: #AtoZ Blog Challenge

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A Car In The Woods: Chapter Ten

2019 AtoZ Blog Challenge

New? This is a serialized work.  Please start on A: A Car In The Woods

AtoZ2019M  MONDAY MOURNING

1961

Monday, December 11th, 1961. Three events mattered that day to retired Corporal Eddie Kelly, Army: Adolph Eichmann was found guilty of war crimes in an Israeli court; JFK officially began a war in Vietnam; and David was dead. His severed head sailed past him, barely missing Eddie’s by a hair’s breadth.

Eddie turned and shot into the woods, looking for anything he could turn into a weapon. The sounds behind him were sickening unto themselves; the wet sound of rendering flesh. The clicking noise grew louder behind him, centering on where Eddie had left David’s body. His friend’s dead body.

Still in combat readiness, Eddie rocketed through the woods making as little noise as he could. He made out a climbable tree to his left. Scaling it with ease, Eddie tested out a viable branch that stretched out towards a different tree. He took a deep breath, steeled himself, and ran across the narrow length, jumping just as he felt the limb start to bend.

Safely across, he duck walked towards this tree’s trunk. The foliage was thick, and Eddie took advantage of this, catching his breath, and giving him a moment’s rest; his mind insisted he replay the events that led him here.  Hopefully, it would help lead him the way out of this.

He met David Fox on his last tour with the Army. Instant buddies from ’56 to ’58. Long hauls for both of them, but they were there in an advisory capacity only, helping train the ARVN Ranger units under their oversight. They met on the transport flying out of the US; by the time they landed in South Vietnam they were solid.

The April 1956 siege and fall of Dien Bien Phu was the reason they were there. The US was ramping up their mandate: get the ARVN ready steady for what they all knew was coming. The insurgent’s attacks were escalating. It’d be a full-blown war before any of them knew it. Eddie and David were well versed on what their jobs were: they went total Boot on the South Vietnamese troops.

Eddie shipped back home a half year before David. He had a wife and kids waiting, and re-upping wasn’t an option for him. It was all going FUBAR, and all the signs laid out it would only get worse. David wanted one more shot; there was a bit of payback in his decision. Eddie understood. Didn’t agree, but he understood.

They connected after David returned, phone calls bridging the gaps in the distance. He’d been up to visit Eddie and his family before. This time, it just happened to fall on a really sensitive day. They were out on a drive in David’s Chevy Bel Air, shooting the shit. David was overjoyed about Eichmann’s trial, having lost too much family on his father’s side in the camps. Eddie felt the news brought some justice to the world. Not enough for all the dead, but it was something.

Both of their moods, though, were slashed to pieces once the car radio was turned on.  Things had been getting worse in Nam: insurgent attacks had ratcheted up in the last few months, and the Diệm government retaliated by decimating the Communists still on South Vietnam soil. Advisory reasoning was shoved aside: the Vietnam War for the US had officially begun.

Thoughts of reenlistment went through both of their heads. Eddie felt the need to break this train of thought. He had previously told David of the weird things going on in the woods a little further on. A T-bird appearing out of nowhere, and then nowhere to be found when it was searched for. Missing people. Smashed cars here and there: not the T-Bird. Never the T-Bird. The few times it had been seen it had always been described as pristine. Bringing it up again got them both fired up, trying to replace the news in their heads and the wooden blocks in their hearts.

Eddie navigated; David drove. They stopped and looked around the few spots that Eddie knew someone saw something or claimed to. First stop was where the Ford Falcon was found. They got out of the Chevy and looked around. There was still enough light left, but it was just an empty space. David found the marred Basswood the car had hit. Eddie thought some dry rot was setting in; he noticed some mushrooms further back in the hole the car had left. Anything that might have been of interest was scavenged in the year since whatever happened, happened.

Next, they went to the outcropping where the Golden Hawk Studebaker was turned inside out. The sunlight was inching away from them by the time they arrived. The four missing teens were still being talked about almost two years gone. Eddie showed David the marks that were gouged out of the rocky ridge. No one could explain it.

The sun was sinking. David looked out over the tree line, the light playing across the leaves, shimmering over the random patches of ice and snow on top of them. A few stars could be seen above and beyond.

“Man, this is beautiful. Thanks, Ed.”

“Davey, we have one more stop, then home to whatever Pat is making for dinner. C’mon.”

Eddie got into the Bel Air, his mood lightening. Just before David opened the car door, he noticed something: there was no noise except for the wind. Strange, he thought.

David disregarded clicking sounds he thought he heard as he got in, shut the door, and turned the engine on.

 

Present Day

Turning around and going for that meal would have been the smartest thing to do.

Would have.

There was a car in the woods.

 

 

Kaleidoscope In Her Eye: #AtoZ Blog Challenge

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A Car In The Woods: Chapter Nine

2019 AtoZ Blog Challenge

AtoZ2019K

KALEIDOSCOPE IN HER EYE

 

1967

Mouth agape, Samantha was stunned by what Lisa told her. Tied hands and feet, ass planted on the ground, her back thrust against the cooling VW Microbus, she had no options but to listen. Most everything she thought she knew about Lisa was a lie. She tried to run through memories of their sessions. Nothing stood out that sounded false, and there were the state and hospital records to back things up. She couldn’t understand how wrong she had been. Was still. Samantha’s confidence, already shaky at this point, crumbled even further.

Lisa went back into silence mode after she dropped the bomb. Testing? A glass-walled cell? Samantha was beyond puzzled. She hurt from the beating, the way the ride to this grove battered her along, and the fear she felt about her parents, then herself. It was all just too much.

Mocking laughter brought her attention back to the present. The slap that followed burned on her cheek, her head conking on the body of the VW. Anger welled up as she turned her head back to face Lisa.

“You went away for a bit, Dr. Sam. Isn’t that against your training as a psycho?” She grinned widely.

“Therapist. Psychotherapist,” Samantha spat out, immediately regretting that she let the other woman goad her like this.

“Yeah, yeah. Doesn’t really matter now, does it? So, where was I?” Lisa looked around the site, up to the sky, and turned back to Samantha. She cocked her head to the side. Waiting.

Dropping her gaze, Samantha reluctantly said: “Something about testing.”

“Oh, yeah.” She patted the ground around her, fidgeting a bit.

“Did you know I killed my first guy in this spot? Yes, this very spot. That never came up when we chatted. I think it was six or seven years ago. Yeah. Wasn’t like I meant to, really. Things just got a little out of hand. I wasn’t thinking very straight at that point. Dumped his body here. Blood was everywhere. Everywhere.”

Lisa’s voice faded, her eyes taking a glassy turn. Samantha waited. Moments passed before the narrative picked back up.

“I got back into my brand new car. The very first car I owned outright. Stupid but, again, wasn’t thinking very straight. My driving was just as crooked. Went too fast, hit a tree, and didn’t get much further after they got me.”

Silence.

“They?” Samantha couldn’t help herself from asking.

Lisa shook her head. The wrong looking smile returned to her face.

“Heh. I lied before, just a wee bit. There was no jail cell then. I was spirited away, but the jail? Nah. The glass cell, the rest? That’s what happened after I killed that guy, wrecked my car, and they snatched me up. Yeah, yeah. They. The guys. D Line. They were still controlled, then. Shame. We eventually had some wicked times together. Until it became my job to terminate D Line.”

Samantha bit back saying anything. Lisa went on.

“Boom. Bye Bye. That happened a few years ago. It’s funny in a way. I was their victim at first; in the end, they were my puppies. Rabid puppies, but still.”

Silence.

Lisa stood up, looking around again.

“What the hell is keeping them?”

Samantha continued staring at her.

“Yeah, I don’t know either,” she sighed, sitting again in the same spot. “After some time in the glass being gawked at the rounds of drugs began. Then the operations. More drugs. Physical work. Drugs. Sex. No Rock ‘n Roll. Heh. Things changed. Others got terminated. Weird shit went on in other labs, we heard.”

“My first task when I was deemed ready enough? They let me choose. Guess who I chose, Dr. Sam. Guess.”

“What are you talking about, Lisa. This doesn’t make sense.” Silence. “Lisa!”

This slap was harder than the first one.

“Stop calling me that. Stop. It’s not mine.” A long pause.  “Hey. You didn’t guess.”

“I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. NO! Please, no more hitting. I’ll…I’ll try a guess.”

Samantha raced through all the things she knew-thought she knew-about her assailant. One person stood out as a possibility. It was better to play this insipid game then more pain.

“Your father?”

“Bingo. Right on the nose. Oh, nose. Yours, not so good right now.” Lisa reached over with both hands, wrapping them around Samantha’s swollen snout, and quickly jerked it. Samantha screamed.

“There. Never going to be as pretty as it was. Better than the smooshed thing I left you with. So, yeah. Dad. Two years later, he was still a bastard. Had a new plaything, too. I snuck onto the estate, waited until they were done, and drove my knife a few times through and through. The plaything I took with me. She was next in line.”

“Estate?”

“Yeah. He was filthy and rich. I know. I know. You thought I was trailer trash. Wrong. You got so many things wrong. You couldn’t see straight.”

“I don’t know what to think anymore. Lisa, please…”

“I said don’t call me that. Lisa. Not my real name. The plaything. She was Lisa. Right now, I have no idea what she calls herself. Last time I heard my name was from Daddy’s dying lips.” She laughed. “I bet you’re dying to know what it is, aren’t you?”

Samantha just nodded.

“He blubbered ‘You. Doris, you bitch. You bitch. You’ and then he bled out. It was worth it, in the end.” A noise came from the ground behind her, close to the grouping of the trees. “Ah, finally, damn took their time.”

A fog-like dust storm began to fill the area. It grew dense, and a strong wind circled around, adding debris from the ground to the swirling. Doris/Lisa stood up and brought Samantha up with her. It was hard for her to stand. She was held up by the others hand pressing into her chest and wedged against the Microbus side.

A continuous barking sound began, coming from the middle of the twister. The wind died away and everything blown about landed on the ground. In the center was a car. Red, shiny. Doris/Lisa was humming; a Beach Boys song, but Samantha couldn’t concentrate enough to remember the title. What she saw in the car frightened her even more then she had been a second ago.

It was a dog. Huge. Barking like mad. Samantha was shaking. She had never seen such a malformed creature. Lisa/Doris began laughing.

“Girl! Girl! Oh, this is just the icing.” She walked towards the car and beast. There was nothing to keep Samantha upright. She fell face forward, the pain knocking her out for a few moments.

She came to quicker this time. Something had changed. Her legs. They were all pins and needles, but they weren’t tied anymore. As she tried to wake them up, the barking stopped and became a horrible growl. Then there was a scream. One long shattering scream.

Her arms were being lifted.

A soft voice spoke into her ear: “Shhh, sweetie. Relax, relax. You’ll be safe now.” Samantha was crying; the man who spoke was rubbing her hands and forearms, helping the circulation move along.

The wailing scream began to die down and went silent. The barking started up again, turning into a piercing howl.

He spoke again: “Sweetie, listen. The keys to the VW are on the driver’s seat. Give yourself a few minutes. Your feet and hands will thank you. Leave here. Don’t look back.”

Her tears stopped flowing. Testing, she slowly began to rise. It hurt, but she could do it. Leaning against the van, Samantha looked around. No man, no dog, no car. No Lisa. She hobbled over the grove, searching in vain. Nothing was there.

The hobble turned to mild limping to walking by the time she reached the VW Microbus. Getting inside was a bit of a problem, but Samantha did it. She closed the door, started the engine, and drove away.

The hospital was her first destination. Once inside the ER, the fussing over her began: her nose was reset, a cut on her head was stitched up, and the hospital staff swaddled her in bandages. They finally put Samantha in the same room as her mother. She’d have a scar on her head after smashing it on the side window, but she’d live. Her father had one broken leg as well as his left arm. Scar too. He’d live as well.

Someone had called the Sheriff. He arrived as they were all together, tears mingling from the three enough to create a tiny river of their own. He was shooed away by all three. He’d get his full statement in the morning. Samantha assured him it really was all over. Details would follow. He nodded, smiled, and left.

Everyone was released over the next two days. Recuperating at home didn’t sit well with any of them; they wound up at their clinic helping others while the staff buzzed around the three of them. Samantha finally relaxed. Her parents would be ok. They’d live.

She booked a flight for the next day after a very long cry fest with Vanessa. She hadn’t known what was going on and was worried sick. Diving into the work in the Haight kept her as sane as she could be.

Vanessa met Samantha at the gate. They fell into each other’s arms and didn’t let go until the next morning. Samantha was dragged around, moving in and out between the throngs of hippies, avoiding the police and the protestors. Vanessa showed her the best places, in her opinion, to eat, drink, and make merry. Sammy shared those opinions.

A day at the street clinic rejuvenated Samantha. She kept catching Vanessa looking at her, smiling. She smiled back, and then it was the next patient to be taken care of.

That night, they went to the park and grooved with everyone else listening to some freeform rock. Vanessa even got Samantha to drop a half tab of acid with her. They flew together, sailing under the stars, letting the music fill them as they danced, danced, danced. This was magic. Everything else blew away.

Samantha didn’t notice that a 1958 red Thunderbird had crept through the crowded street just beyond the park’s border. The horn honked once. Then it was gone.

 

Present Day

Some would say “Poor Doris.”

I wouldn’t.

She overstepped one time too many.

Her master’s voice took on a different meaning after that.

There was a car in the woods.

 

 

Gentle Into Night: #AtoZ Blog Challenge

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A Car In The Woods: Chapter Five

2019 AtoZ Blog Challenge

 

AtoZ2019GGENTLE INTO NIGHT

1963

There was a car in the woods.

Schatzi was standing at the edge of the grove. She was barking continuously, growling in turns, but she would not advance any further. Timmy finally caught up to her, got down on his knees, and threw his arms around her. Deb was not far behind.

“Schatzi, stop barking. Schatzi!” Deb yelled out as she approached. Their dog went belly down, whimpering cries replacing the barks. It wasn’t until she came up behind Timmy that she saw.

“Oh shit,” she said, covering her mouth with her right hand. “Oh, shit. Don’t. Don’t start with me, Timmy. We have to get out of here.”

Timmy, focused entirely on Schatzi, was stroking her head. “Shh. There, girl. Relax. I’m here.” Deb put her left hand on his shoulder. “We’re here. Shh. Shh.”

“Timmy, we really really really need to get out of here.”

Her hand squeezed, Timmy yelped, and then he looked up.

“Oh. Wow.”

The cherry red Thunderbird was facing them. Timmy stood, and Schatzi followed suit. Tail tucked, she growled, staring down the car.

“Is it?”

“I think so,” she answered. “It’s the TBird. Timmy, c’mon. We’ve got to…”

The engine came to life, revving in place. The sound increased, tires spinning out on the patch of ground it was on. The smell of burning rubber and oil filled the area, choking the three of them.

“Deb,” he choked out, “there’s no one there.”

The convertible roof rose from the half closed position and smoothly dropped open. The revving continued, building in stationary speed. Clouds of dust started to rise around the car.

The driver’s door opened.

Schatzi hurtled towards the car. Deb and Timmy yelled out at the same time, but Schatzi didn’t alter her attack. Teeth bared, she dove through the open door. As her teeth sunk into the seating, she ripped away at the leather red and white. She tore out a chunk of the backrest. With the speed of the revving the roof closed, the door slammed shut, and the howl that came from the interior of the Ford pierced Timmy’s heart. Deb was streaming tears.

It had happened so fast that neither had time to react. Timmy tried to rush forward, but Deb held onto him tight.

“Let go of me. Let go!”

She was stronger, but Timmy was working on pure adrenaline. Just as he came free, a shooting wind sent the dust into a frenzy, kicking it up and, covering the entire area. When she wasn’t coughing her lungs out, Deb had the image of the last snow story, coming down so heavy it was nothing but a wall of white. She wrapped her arms around her brother, pulling him close, and turned their backs to the car so the flying debris was not in their faces.

“Deb, let go. Deb. Let. Go!”

Her arms opened, slowly. The wind was dying down, allowing the dirt and grit that had been airborne to fall back to earth. They turned to look at the car.

Trees, torn up grass, glinting ice on the outskirts. This they saw.

But no car.

But no Schatzi.

~~~~~    ~~~~~    ~~~~~    ~~~~~

Patricia left the hospital against the doctor’s wishes. Sheriff Will’s wishes as well. He had deputized a whole mess of townspeople to search for her kids. He knew Pat; there was no way she was going to stay in the ward as long as she could walk. She just got in the front seat of his Fairlane, and that was that.

As they were hitting the roads to add to the search, the radio squawked every other minute or so. Every report came back with a disheartening “No.” Pat didn’t say much as she devoted her energy to looking where they dovetailed off the road. It hadn’t helped that the wind drifts covered any broken snow.

The tree that had waylaid them was gone now, cut up and making its way to the lumber yard. Pat knew they were there by the number of cars parked along the sides. Getting out, she took brief notice of the variety: Will’s deputies; townspeople’s private vehicles; and a brief shock of State Troopers in the mix.

The Sheriff got an update from one of the Troopers, and Patricia got an earful from those taking a break. She asked where they looked, how far out they went, did they see any tracks, any signs. The same bleak responses fell on her heart.

A final question made most folks uneasy, some sad, but all gave Patricia a side look when she left them to talk to another grouping.

“Did you notice, or see, anything out of the ordinary?”

Patricia and the Sheriff joined a group just heading out again. They were all carrying things the kids might need, if. Patricia steeled herself, didn’t cry out, didn’t make a scene, but that needless “If” was a sore that ate away at her as they walked and called out.

The sun was bending to the west when the walkies-talkies sang out. The kids had been found and were alive. This was repeated along the searchers. A huge mixed yell of happy acknowledgment rang through the trees. Pat and the Sheriff started to run once they got the whereabouts of the rescue. The others raced alongside.

The kids were bundled up in blankets upon blankets, drinking hot tea from thermoses brought just for them. A small bonfire was roaring, giving off just enough heat. Behind them was the ravine with their dead Chevy.

The three of them met in a flying bear hug. Timmy “ouched” but he didn’t break free.

“Mom,” he said. “Mom. We didn’t know what happened. We…”

“We went looking for you. You’d been gone way too long. I was…we were afraid something might have happened to you.” Deb looked and saw the bandage that peeked out from the wool cap her mother was wearing. “Oh, something did happen.”

Patricia didn’t answer. She kept hugging, kissing them on their foreheads, rubbing their backs, and the moisture in her eyes did not quit for a second.

“Let’s not talk about what happened to me until later. Some things happened that I have to think about; try to make sense out of.” She paused, realizing someone was missing.

“Schatzi. Where’s our girl?”

Deb started to tell her what had occurred. Timmy was reluctant to say anything, his head hanging low. He got elbowed and interspersed the details as best as he could.

“We searched. Couldn’t find anything besides the stirred up dirt. Deb and I backtracked, got lost once or twice, but we found the car.”

Deb continued. “It was cold in the car. We scrounged up two of Schatzi’s blankets, one hidden under the front seat, the other squished in the back. Our best find: a box of long matches from one of our cookouts during the summer. Timmy and I searched for dry wood. It wasn’t easy, but there was a grouping that worked just fine. Cleared the snow with our feet built the wood up, and started the fire.”

“Deputy Doug said he saw the smoke. That’s how we got found.”

“Sweeties, we need to get moving out of here before it gets dark.” Patricia’s face darkened. “Let’s put out the fire, grab your school books, and let’s get home. The Sheriff said he would drive us there.”

They did as she asked, no questions, no fighting, no stubbornness. Her heart felt shattered that they would be returning without Schatzi. “That’s two I’ve lost to this place,” she said to herself. “No more.”

Moving quickly, they reached the Sheriff’s car in no time. Almost all the cars had already left, getting the passed around good news. The remaining few gave Patricia and the kids long hugs; cheek kisses went around, hands were shaken. Timmy hated the kissing part, except when he got one from a classmate, Becki. He blushed and tried to hide. Becki just smiled.

Last to leave, the Sheriff turned the engine over and made sure all three were secure. The sun had been going down by this point. It was near dark. Putting the car into drive, he crept onto the road and headed to their home.

Everyone was quiet. Deb had nodded off. Timmy had his head leaning on the window, a sorrowful sight when the Sheriff looked in his rearview. Pat had scrunched down, head back on the car seat, staring at the interior ceiling.

“Rage, rage against the dying of the light,” she softly recited.

Sheriff Will gave her a side glance. He knew that poem. He and Pat had been in the same classes ever since first grade. High School they wandered off in different directions, but English class was one they shared in Senior Year.

Looking briefly, he noticed that Patricia’s head lolled to the side. “Good, she was asleep,” he thought. It’s been a rough day for her, if not a rough four years. He focused on the road as they made their way back.

“Rage, rage against the dying of the light,” Will repeated. He was glad to be leaving the woods.

Behind them, a chorus of clicking sounds blended with the settling winds.

 

Present Day

 What are those clicking sounds?

Where was the deadly red car?

And Schatzi.

Where was Schatzi? Was she?

There was a car in the woods.

 

******************************************************************************

The poem Patricia and Will  were referring to:

Do not go gentle into that good night

Dylan Thomas, 19141953

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

 

From The Poems of Dylan Thomas, published by New Directions. Copyright © 1952, 1953 Dylan Thomas. Copyright © 1937, 1945, 1955, 1962, 1966, 1967 the Trustees for the Copyrights of Dylan Thomas. Copyright © 1938, 1939, 1943, 1946, 1971 New Directions Publishing Corp.

 

Elegiacal: #AtoZ Blog Challenge

Standard

A Car In The Woods: Chapter Four

2019 AtoZ Blog Challenge

AtoZ2019E     ELEGIACAL

1963

“Schatzi. C’mon. This way.”

She had been too large for Timmy to carry out of the ravine. He scooted along the edge, finding a rocky path just out of site where the Impala landed. The German shepherd followed him; she found the outcropping and jumped from rock to rock. Schatzi stopped a third of the way from the top. Sitting down, she barked until Timmy’s head crested the lip of the gorge. With Deb crabbing behind him, Timmy found another set that looked more like planned steps. He gulped and went over the side.

Deb screamed, then called out some choice words.

“I’m telling Mom.”

“You idiot, I’m going to tell Mom,” she paused. With a lowered voice: “When we find her. After. We will find her.”

She watched as Timmy guided Schatzi up the new path. They both made it up to the last ledge, but it was too much of a distance for the dog. Deb laid down, her arms dangling over the edge; Timmy boosted Schatzi up as far as he could. It was enough. He pushed, Deb lifted, and Schatzi was on solid, icy ground. Timmy climbed out, also with Deb’s assistance.

They looked at each other, brushing off the dirt and snow that covered them.

Walking back to where they originally climbed out, Deb started looking for any sign of their mother. There were some footprints that cracked through the ice cover. She smiled and pulled Timmy along.

~~~~~   ~~~~~   ~~~~~

Patricia walked, slid, fell, repeating the pattern more than she liked. They had gone further off the road than she at first thought. It could have been a lot worse. Somehow, they missed all the trees. If that huge bank of snow hadn’t settled in the ravine, well, she didn’t want to think about that. The kids were banged up but fine. Her head hurt like the dickens, and she had a pull in her left side. She wanted to stop and rest a bit, but that was not going to get the help they all needed.

The wind gusted up and then died down just as quick as she moved along. What skin showed on her face hurt, her eyes teared up, and it was a losing battle trying to protect them. Patricia plodded on, looking for salvation.

Then she heard her name. Thought she did, but…no, that was impossible. She stopped to listen, but the howl of the wind came instead. “Pat, no. It wasn’t him,” played on a painful loop in her head. Her body shuddered, pushing her to keep on. Patricia hadn’t wanted to admit to herself that they wound up in the area she never wanted to see again. Looking towards her left, she saw the horrible familiar sights. “No, no, no.”

Patricia. Sweetie.

“STOP THIS,” she screamed, breaking into a dash. The tears fell this time, soaking into the scarf just wrapped below her eyes. “Stop,” she cried out.

Looking behind her as she ran was a mistake: Patricia thought she saw something, someone, but that thought was cut short as she stumbled into a tree and knocked herself out.

If she had been awake, she would have heard the crunching of the icy ground coming closer.

~~~~~    ~~~~~    ~~~~~

Schatzi went sniffing, cutting between Timmy and Deb, running behind them, surging ahead. She’d jump into a pile of snow and then pop out, tongue lolling out as she investigated a new tree, bush, and a log. When she was told to heel she did, but it only lasted a few eye blinks, and then off she went again.

Deb’s voice was hoarse, and Timmy was getting quieter, as they called out and looked for their mom. They had come to a dead end, losing sight of her footprints at a small copse. She didn’t know what to do and didn’t want to tell Timmy that.

“I’m cold,” he whined, leaning over, looking for any prints that continued past the tree. Deb did the unmentionable: she took him in a big bear hug. He returned it in kind. She thought she’d start crying, and almost did. Schatzi stopped that before any tear fell.

She began barking like mad, intermittent with low hissing growls. Timmy went to her, but she bounded off across the icy ground and into the trees beyond where they rested.

“Schatzi, get back here, now,” Deb yelled. Timmy called as well, but when their dog didn’t stop, he broke free of his sister and started running after.

“Timmy. NO!” She kicked the tree, a little too hard, and gave chase. Her big toe began to throb; it didn’t slow her pace.

Schatzi was faster than either of them. Timmy lost sight of her as she jetted away, but he followed her barking. Deb kept Timmy in her sight, begging him to stop. Schatzi barked. Timmy ran. Deb followed.

Then the barking stopped.

“This way, Deb. She’s this way.” He was pointing off to the right. She caught up to him, and they both stopped, catching their breaths. Deb took notice of where they were. The trees are larger than when they started out. How close they all were to each other. Looking up, the canopy of branches were thick and intertwined. It filtered the sunlight, breaking it apart into hundreds of solo rays.

“We should not be here, Tim. C’mon. Schatzi will find us. C’mon.” She pulled his arm. He resisted.

“Stop it. I’m not going anywhere. Schatzi! Schatzi!”

He broke free and ran into the gathering of trees.

Deb had no choice but to follow.

~~~~~    ~~~~~    ~~~~~

Patricia groggily came awake. Her eyes fluttered, not wanting to open them. She realized she was warm, very warm. There was no howl from the wind, only some beeps, someone moving around.

“Pat, sweetie, hi. Wake up, ok? It’s ok.”

Patricia came to, her eyesight a bit fuzzy but soon cleared enough to see June standing over her. June, her neighbor, her friend. A nurse. Patricia’s face began to scrunch up, tears beginning to fall.

“Shhh, you’re ok, sweetie. You’re in the clinic. You were near frozen solid when the Sheriff brought you in. We got you just in time.” June stroked Patricia’s hair, sitting down next to her, then took Patricia’s hands in hers and rubbed them tenderly.

Patricia looked around the room. There wasn’t anyone else there besides the two of them.

“Where? Debra. Timmy. Where are they?”

“Sweetie, they should be in school. The Sheriff went to fetch them just a little while ago. The roads are bad. A tree fell and it was the dickens removing it. Took way longer than it should have.”

“No. They were with me. In the woods. They missed the bus. We skidded off the road. Fell into a ravine. In the woods. I went to find help. I…I…what time…what time is it?” Her voice rose in pitch, coming out faster. She was shaking, but not from the cold.

When she heard the time, Patricia screamed and tried to get out of the bed.

A bit more than two hours had passed since she left them. June tried to hold her frantic friend down, tried to calm her, but Patricia’s frenzy was too high. A needle pierced her skin.

“Please. Get the Sheriff. Anybody,” she drifted back against the pillows. “My babies are out there. June. Please.”

June left in a hurry. The beeping and behind her, the noise outside by the nurse’s desk, her breathing slowing, her eyes feeling heavy, Patricia whispered: “Please, God, Please.”

Patricia. Sweetie.”

“Ju…June?” She looked through half closed eyes.

June wasn’t there.

“No,” she mumbled. “You’re…” and the sedative did its job.

 

Present Day

There is more to this tale, and it will be told.

The tempest to come will soon unfold.

Patience, patience, the time will soon fall

When the rest will be given, given in all.

 

There was a car in the woods.