Category Archives: Mythology

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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Twilight Time: #AtoZ Blog Challenge

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A Car In The Woods: Chapter Sixteen

2019 AtoZ Blog Challenge

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

AtoZ2019T TWILIGHT TIME

1964

The search wound down and finally was called off. Snow came in hard, not just blanketing the county but throwing three quilts on top of it. Schatzi had not come back, nor did they find any trace before the storm hit them. Afterward, it seemed fruitless. Patricia was convinced their precious girl must have gone chasing something. Did she just get lost? Was she trying to find her way back, still, through all this snow and ice? She shook her head. The thought of her getting hurt, dying in the far woods alone, was one she never voiced.

During the day, she kept busy with work, the kids, fixing things around the house, cooking and cleaning. The night was the enemy. Doing nothing, the heaviness in her chest grew, her skin feeling pulled and taut. She was awake more than she slept. Eyes open, she’d stare at the ceiling, motionless. She felt the emptiness of the bedroom. Patricia concentrated on sounds. More than anything, she was hoping for the long series of barking from Schatzi returning. Even one bark. One.

Patricia eventually tired. That was when things got worse for her. Her heart became a heavier lead weight, beating against her ribs.  Her thoughts began revolving around and around, which started a headache. Schatzi, gone. The effects of this causing the pain inside Timmy to breach onto those around him. Debra took the opposite reaction. She went silent, monosyllabic when she did say something, hanging her head down as she shuffled around.  She didn’t make a fuss when Patricia called her daughter “Debra.” Everything was off kilter.

Then Eddie. Each night the absence of her husband, her best friend, tore through her, replacing any other thought. All of their life together, patches of the good and the not so good, rushed through. As every night, Patricia let loose a flood of tears. She’d drift away on a damp pillow, an uneasy sleep waiting for her.

This night, almost exactly a full month to the night since Schatzi vanished, something cut through her ragged weeping. Loud, outside her window, she heard this incessant clicking noise. This was exactly what Timmy and Debra told her they heard, amongst the story about the car in the woods. She hadn’t believed them. But now, Patricia froze, the crying stopping as her heart began to race. It ended as fast as it came. She waited for more of the clicking, but none came. Her body began to unclench, mobility returning in dribs and drabs. Patricia worked on sitting up, moved the covers off, and swung her legs over the side of the bed.

Taking the few steps to the window was hard, but she managed. Patricia put her hand on the cold glass to steady herself. She looked around, but the moonlight was playing hide and seek with the night clouds. Nothing. Her head dropped, a perfect imitation of Debra. She was turning to go back to bed when she heard something.

“Patricia. Sweetie.”

She spun back to the window in a forceful, jerky motion. Her foot caught on the nightstand, sending her crashing to the floor. Just before she landed, her head connected with the bed frame. Patricia didn’t move again through the last hours of the night.

In the morning, Debra went looking for her Mother. She was always up before them. Not getting any response from her knocking, Debra opened her parents’ bedroom door.  She saw her stretched out by the bed, dried blood soaked into the throw rug. She raced over and knelt beside her. Debra knew enough to check her pulse. She saw that her mom’s chest was moving. She tried but couldn’t wake her.

“TIM!” she wailed, again and again until he showed up at the bedroom doorway.

~~~~~    ~~~~~    ~~~~~

1968

Tim stared into his father’s eyes. They locked onto each other. Tim really wanted to run into the woods, but his mom just got married. She’d suffered enough. He didn’t want to hurt her. He wasn’t 100% sure it was his dad. But the face: it was the same, no aging. His shoulders were broader than he remembered, and what he could see of his arms were muscular. The bush was just high enough to hide most of his body. Something else moved beside him; an animal of some sort. It wasn’t any normal shape that Tim knew of. But the color of its coat was etched into his memory.

“Schatzi,” he said, a strangled whisper.

Eddie was moving back step by step. He looked at his son, wanting to go to him. Eddie knew things had moved on without him. He’d kept enough tabs on the three of them over the years to feel the pain that pulsated off of his family. Pat had finally moved on, and while Eddie understood he felt like he wanted to cry. He hadn’t cried in a very long time.

Tim started to walk towards his father and what he was sure was his dog. He was preparing to run as he saw them both backing away, making ground as they vanished behind the thick grouping of the trees. He was just passing the last row of chairs when he heard his name called out. Not wanting to stop, it was the second “TIM” that had him halt and turn around.

Debra stood outside the back door. Her arms were crossed, her head was tilted, and her face did the Critical Frown. Tim knew she wouldn’t come to him. He grudgingly went back to the house, facing her.

“What in blue blazes were you doing?”

Tim shrugged, putting his hands in his pants pockets.

“Tim, you know what today means. I know you don’t want Mom to get frazzled. We’ve experienced too much of that over the years. From her and from the two of us. So, spill it.”

He looked over his shoulder, searching, but there wasn’t anyone amidst the trees and green growth.

Debra punched him in the shoulder. “Well?”

Tim took a deep breath in; as he let it out, he said: “I’m pretty sure I just saw Dad. And Schatzi. They were over there,” he nodded to where the duo had been. “Sis, I’m not crazy. Not any crazier, anyways.”

That brought a smile to her lips while her frown lines became crevices.

Debra lowered her voice. “Timmy. They are gone. Gone. I know that. I know you know that. I can’t…I just can’t anymore.”

Tim brought his sister into a hug, which was reciprocated two-fold. With his mouth near her ear, he whispered: “Debs, it was the two of them. I’m pretty damn sure. I’m going to go look for them.”

Debra held him by the shoulders, taking in the set tone of his voice and his body language. She knew he would go.

“Please, just wait. Wait until all the guests have gone, and Mom and Will take off. Please. She deserves this.”

He nodded his head and started toward the house. He’d lost his appetite for the food inside, but he cared deeply for his Mother. His sister, too.

“Tim.” He stopped, hand on the doorknob. “I’ll go with you. Let’s try, even though it will be the last time.”

They both went inside the house. Music was playing on the HiFi, people were loaded down with food and drink, and Patricia and Will were sharing a kiss. Everyone inside applauded.

Outside, there was stone cold silence.

~~~~~    ~~~~~    ~~~~~

1962

Gary/Maynard went ass over teakettle across the room. He landed against the rack of barbells. As he got up, he put both hands around his nose and twisted, setting it straight. Gary wiped the blood that had streamed over the lower part of his face, smearing it into lines across his cheeks. Smiling, he met Eddie as he fully entered the room. Fists met faces; knees attempted to find the squishy dangling parts. They tossed each other around.

Gary got in a powerhouse into Eddie’s gut, sending him flying backward. He landed near the barbell rack. As he got to his feet, Eddie took a 20# barbell and was into his backswing when the Insert went off shorted them both out.

When he woke, he found himself back on the slap, very tightly strapped down. An IV was already in place as one of the Lab goons approached him holding a very large needle syringe. The white-garbed man stopped at the edge of the slab. He had placed the syringe somewhere out of Eddie’s sight.

Leaning over Eddie, eyeball to goggle lens, Eddie barely saw the slap across his face coming. Eddie didn’t  feel it.  He didn’t feel anything in any part of his body. No sensations. He wanted to shout at the man, but his mouth didn’t work.

Eddie saw, once again, the very large needle. It was raised over his face. A bit of liquid squirted out the end, dribbling down onto him.

He couldn’t help but watch as the needle made a beeline to his left eye.

~~~~~    ~~~~~    ~~~~~

Present Day

The black night brings hints of the unknown.

The unknown can be frightening.

What is known can be downright disturbing.

There was a car in the woods.

 

Stay Alive: #AtoZ Blog Challenge

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A Car In The Woods: Chapter Fifteen

2019 AtoZ Blog Challenge

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

 

AtoZ2019S STAY ALIVE

1963

Eddie held the combat knife clutched to his chest. The thick trunk hid him well. Plenty of low hung branches.  He was surrounded by enough bottomland trees, the upturned roots plentiful. Tripping was a minor problem. Stepping on dry leaves or breaking a twig underfoot would give away his position.

He wasn’t going to give away his position.

Slowing his breathing and heart rate was primary out here. He’d been working on it in the lab’s workout room. They had finally lessened the drugs, which gave him time to come back to himself and think. He needed a way to beat the clicking noises. They came from his chest, and it drove him over the top on too many occasions. He knew what they told him: it was a way for the group to keep tabs on each other while on an Op. No talking. No bird calls or any other type of signal. The clicking drove their targets to lose focus.

Eddie also found out it did more. The Insert monitored his heart rate; if he couldn’t control himself the clicking became unbearable. He knew they had a way to track him and the others: had to be the Insert. It was also able to bring them all to their knees if anyone got out of line. Or tried to make a break. The jolt blacked him out instantly. It was up that was far worse. It felt like chest  had been torn open and everything inside had been used as a punching bag. Every Taken had it happen enough times to buckle down to the orders given.

It was a classic mind fuck, but with new toys.

~~~~~

1961-1962

The stab to his leg, the blow to his head, and Eddie faded out. Before he went unconscious, the last thing he thought of was Pat. Patricia. He was out too fast to think of the kids, but when he woke strapped to the table in the lab, he thought of all of them while he tried to free himself from the bonds. He couldn’t raise any part of himself except his chest as he breathed in and out. Even that was tight, causing pain if he breathed out too forcefully.

Time meant nothing. No windows. No clocks. None of the lab workers would talk to him. What he could see were the white jackets that were buttoned up to their necks, large white face masks, and white head caps covering the rest. Over that they wore thick goggles, the glass more yellow than clear. When they worked on him, which felt nonstop, Eddie was usually on his back, the overhead lights boring into his eyes. There was always a point where a needle took him out. He’d wake up lying on a thin mattress on the floor in another room. His cell.

They took blood often. In between, they injected different colored liquids into his arms. Sometimes his legs. Sometimes his stomach. One time into his heart. Most of them delivered a deep burning feeling throughout his body; some sent him into screaming jags that only quit when his vocal cords gave out. A few shots sent him elsewhere. Every time they injected this type of drug, Eddie’s mind shattered into tiny particles and then took him on a bizarre journey.  Nothing seemed real. Everything seemed real. When he came back to himself, there was always sweat pooling under him.

The worst were the operations. These came after the first barrage of drugs they pumped through him. They were studying him, making furious notes while he tried to not scream. Eddie didn’t always succeed. The Insert was one of the first operations. That was a screamer. Other times he passed out, no matter how much they tried to keep him aware and awake. Too much was too much.

Back in the cell was always discovery time. Stitches ran up his right leg. Another time he woke up to find a duplicate row of stitches on the other leg. Then came the arms. He fought through the pain each time with the best he could. Eddie wasn’t always at his best.

The last major operation had him waking up to an A-Bomb of a headache. Eddie thought his skull would explode. He reached up and put pressure on either side of his head. The pain stayed. The pain grew. The pain was all. However long it took, the throbbing finally eased off.  Still holding his head, Eddie realized that he was now bald. Reluctantly, he ran  hands around his head, finding a full circle of stitches.

He jumped to his feet, which sent him leaping across the room and into the wall.  He screamed and beat at the cell barrier.  His face flamed, his arms and legs grew tense and tight, and his fingers clamped white-knuckled.  This continued for a very long time. If his captors heard, or saw, any of this, it didn’t matter to Eddie. He was beyond caring. He saw red, and it was full and consuming.

More operations. More needles.

And then it all stopped. Eddie was placed into a barracks. The others were all there, watching. He looked around, taking in the pecking order of their stances and positions in their clumps of groupings.

One leaned against a wall, arms folded, one leg bent and foot planted on that wall. Glaring. Eddie found the Alpha.

“Maynard,” Eddie said. He had to stop his lips curling in disgust. His eyes said all he needed to say.

~~~~~

1963

Eddie heard clicking from his left. Not too close, but judging by the “shit” that followed, not too far away. Root by root, he eased away from the tree as other clicks sounded out, then silence. It was Putdown Mode. Eddie knew it too well. He stopped against another tree, crouching on a thick root. A sound came from above. Eddie ducked and rolled. The huge rock sailed past his head and hit the tree he had just been in front of. It set up enough racket that the others came running.

Picking up the rock in his knife free hand, Eddie saw two figures racing towards him. They probably expected him to retreat, but Eddie knew that there were more behind him. He ran, but forward, turning as he did so counterclockwise. The two were too close: Eddie flung the rock, hitting the one on the right across his scalp. The rock spun off and hit the other in his face. Both were down. Eight more to go.

Present Day

The years fall upon each other.

Time was a lie; man-made and changeable.

What was done to Eddie?

Changes.

There was a car in the woods.

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

Author’s Note: Apologies to one and all. Monday got away from me. I know I’m posting the S post on the T day. I will have T up later, midday on Tuesday.

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.

Parting Sorrow: #AtoZ Blog Challenge

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A Car In The Woods: Chapter Thirteen

2019 AtoZ Blog Challenge

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

AtoZ2019P PARTING SORROW

1968

Debra brushed some dandruff off of Tim’s shoulder and then fixed his tie.  He squirmed a bit but settled when he saw the moisture building in Deb’s eyes. Tim was glad his sister was home from college. He’d never say it, but he missed her.

“There, better than new.”

She punched her brother on the arm.

“Hey!”

“Hey, you. I’m sure you deserve it for something or the other while I’ve been gone.”

She smiled. He returned it. Together, they walked downstairs and out to the backyard where the ceremony was going to be held. In only a couple of hours, their Mom would finally wed Sheriff Will Kane.

Seven years after Eddie, Patricia’s husband, Debra and Tim’s Dad, disappeared. Seven years and the law pronounced him dead. A little over four years since Patricia went on a first date with Will. Bittersweet feelings had a starling’s effect over the festivities, mourning and celebration weaving in and out of the Kelly household.

The Army was appeased by the certificate, which helped financially. Patricia had scraped every penny, financial aid, and loans she could so Debra could get to college. With Tim getting close to leaving as well, Eddie’s pension release was a godsend.

She’d beaten the tearing inside of her from putting the petition forward with the state, and then going for the funds.  She still missed and loved Eddie. That was never going to change, she felt. But, Will made her happy, and she loved him. Here. Now. Patricia was the one who proposed. Will broke out into a face-splitting grin, held her, and said yes a thousand times.

The chairs faced away from the house towards the wedding canopy that Tim built, with Will’s help. He had gone into the woods to collect fallen branches, sturdy enough that, when assembled, would stand true. Patricia fussed when he’d go off to search in the woods, only leaving the kitchen window when she saw him return.

Tim had asked Deb if she wanted to help decorate the arbor when the wedding was a sure thing. He was already underway with the materials. He knew she kinda felt left out of things, but being hundreds of miles away would do that, and his asking made her really happy. Deb had decorated it with purple flowers and ribbons, their Mom’s favorite color. Looking the yard over, Deb was the one who light-bulbed a need Tim hadn’t thought of.

“Mom’s going to wear heels. I might, too.” She and Tim, again with Will’s help, foraged for flat, smooth stones. Over the last two days, and up to the near to last minute, they laid a mosaic path from the house to the Wedding Arch.

The guests started arriving, dropping off their gifts in the living room, food in the kitchen for the party afterward. Sam from the luncheonette was “catering” the majority of the fare, but he was light on the less greasy items. Everyone knew him. Side dishes, lots of vegetables, and desserts appeared to accompany his offerings.

Will arrived with most of his men. Tim was stone silent when he noticed a couple of State Troopers mixed in among them. He and his car were well known to some of them, especially these two. Will laughed when he saw Tim’s face, patted him on the back, and told him not to worry.

Today.

Debra went upstairs. Her mother’s room had finally quieted down. An hour earlier a mini whirlwind hit, makeup brushes flying, hair swirling up and around, a fog of hairspray making anyone inside and ten feet outside of the room cough like crazy. Debra critiqued the use of the spray, citing the recent Miss America protest as her stand to do away with this instrument of female torture. Patricia shushed Debra, shooing her out of the room right after she hugged and kissed her. They smiled at each other as she was leaving.

They smiled at each other when she returned.

“Mom. You look beautiful.”

“So do you, sweetie. So do you.”

Turning to the full-length mirror, Patricia looked herself over. She didn’t go for a gown this time; her parents had bought hers’ when she and Eddie got married. They, too, were gone now. With ample discounting in town, Patricia wound up with a graceful light grey dress, dotted around with small crystal inserts that sparkled when the light hit it just right. The dress, the hair, the makeup: she had to hold back the crying.

Debra already had some tissues in hand, just in case.

Coming behind her mother and hugging her, gently, she caught herself on the verge as well.

“I miss him, mom,” she said, a light tremor shaking her voice.

“Me too, sweetie. Me too.”

They broke and spent the next five minutes fixing their faces.

Tim knocked on the door.

“Hey, it’s time.”

“In a second, dweeb,” Debra called out.

“Hey!” Tim answered, needling his sister as he opened the door. After he was okayed in.

Patricia sighed, and smiled. “Next steps,” she thought, “and some things never change.”

Debra led the way as the bridesmaid; Tim walked Patricia down the aisle way. Everyone stood, followed them making their way to the back of the yard, and settled back down when a beaming William took Patricia’s outstretched hand.

The ceremony began. All eyes were fixed on the couple.

~~~~~   ~~~~~    ~~~~~

All eyes included the two pairs hidden among the brambles and trees surrounding the back yard.

A low grumble sound started by his side.

“Shh, Girl. Shh, sweetie.” His hand was stroking the sparse fur on top of her head. It was an instinctual movement. He couldn’t take his eyes off of Pat. He wanted to growl as well, but the freedom to do that had been taken away from him long ago. Things were different. The two of them were very different, now. They remained, watching, both fighting urges to rush forward, change outcomes.

It came to an end with a lingering kiss and all the guests applauding and yelling their congratulations. All except them. He watched as Pat and Will walked back towards the house. Then, he fixed on Debbie and Timmy.

He wasn’t sure which couple crushed him more.

“C’mon, Girl. C’mon. Time to go. We don’t belong.”

Girl whimpered, getting to all fours as he stood. His plan was to just fade away and get gone. His mistake was doing it backward, straining for any view he could stand.

A quick yelp; Girl had wormed her way behind and between his legs, and stepping on her tail wasn’t what he planned.

Patricia and Will had already entered the house. Debbie and Timmy were standing by the back door, guiding the guests in.

Tim thought he heard something. It sounded like something he hadn’t heard in way too long. His head snapped around to where the sound came from.

Their eyes met. Both froze.

By the time the word “Dad?” left Tim’s mouth, the woods were empty.

 

Present Day

Shh, Girl. Shhh.

Pat.

Debra.

Timothy.

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.

 

 

LAB 4: CLASSIFIED : #AtoZ Blog Challenge

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A Car In The Woods: Interlude 2

2019 AtoZ Blog Challenge

AtoZ2019L LAB 4: CLASSIFIED

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Date: REDACTED

TO: All Staff-LAB 4

From: REDACTED

Subject: Termination Protocol-Lab 4

PART I:

Due to the continuation of disappointments in behavioral actions, and failure to bring in line, the following Test Subjects must be terminated precisely at 0300 HOURS, REDACTED:

  • REDACTED
  • REDACTED
  • REDACTED
  • REDACTED
  • REDACTED

It is imperative that this action must take place preciously at the stated time.

Use:  

All results must be detailed and delivered promptly at 0800 on REDACTED.

Failure to meet expectations will not be accepted nor tolerated.   

PART II

Find and contain Girl immediately.

Once contained, do not terminate.

Repeat: do not terminate.

Further testing orders will follow.