Category Archives: Taking Risks

Xenopus Laevis: #AtoZ Blog Challenge

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A Car In The Woods:  Final Interlude

2019 AtoZ Blog Challenge

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

AtoZ2019X XENOPUS LAEVIS

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TRANSCRIPTION: OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE

On REDACTED, Bio-genetic Exploratory: Weapon Division Oversight Committee 1 listened to testimony from lead scientist, Doctor REDACTED, of Project: REDACTED.  Administration edited scientific reports; claims of misleading additional reports noted. Determination to follow.

TESTIMONIES

Chairman:           Good afternoon, Doctor. The Oversight Committee has requested your presence today to answer some charges brought up by your superiors. You will answer the questions posed to you succinctly. And deviation from a direct answer, obfuscation, or refusal to answer will not be in your best interests. Do you understand?

Chairman:           For the records, we need a verbal assent. Nodding your head is not acceptable. Again, Doctor, do you understand?

Doctor:                 Yes. I fully understand.

Chairman:           Good. Let us proceed. Can you give the committee, in your own words, a brief, and I mean brief, history of Project: REDACTED?

Doctor:                                 Sir, it is all in the report in front of you.

Chairman:           The gentleman will answer the question. In your own words.

Doctor:                 (sound of clearing throat) Um, In July of 1953, my colleagues and I had published our theories on advanced genetic manipulation, an extension of previous experimentation dating back to 1910. We were soon approached by REDACTED and given funding to make our theories concrete. Um, we set up four labs initially in four equidistant facilities across the country. Variations of climate, geographic settings, and, um, other considerations would give us baselines as we went on.

The first success was in Lab #4 located in Upstate REDACTED. This lab worked initially only on amphibian subjects. Lab numbers 1-3’s subjects were, respectfully, um, Mammal, Avian, and Reptilian. I mention Lab #4 specifically as it was here we had our first breakthrough.

We had limited success with local animals. In February of 1954, um, we acquired a shipment of Xenopus Laevis:  the African Clawed Frog.

Chairman:           What was its significance?

Doctor:                 (sound of clearing throat) We realized these were purer specimens. They had no latent toxicity in their systems. Their environment was nowhere near as chemically polluted as ours. There was little to no resistance to our serums. Um. Reactions were extraordinary.

General:               Such as? In laymen terms.

Doctor:                 Um, General. Uh, well, Subject X-1428 grew, sir. General. Where previous subjects did the same, X-1428 surpassed them. She grew at a controlled rate at first, achieving first the size of an adult German shepherd or Labrador.

General:               (after a few moments of silence) And?

Doctor:                 Um, and in the next three months she tripled in size. Its bone structure was solid; vitals were still in an acceptable range. We then, um, started implementing some work from other labs that we wanted to try out. Zeno was the strongest of our subjects, so…

Chairman:           Zeno?

Doctor:                 Sorry, sir. One of our technicians started calling X-1428 by a shortened version of its genus. It stuck.

Chairman:           Go on, please.

Doctor:                 By this time, there were 18 other labs placed around the country. Various subjects. A wide range of testable theories that complimented our beginning theory and expanding on the discoveries. Lab #21 had success with mental manipulations. Lab #14 succeeded in augmentation. And so on. As Zeno was enhanced, the reports stirred the building of the last three Labs.

Um, uh, Lab #25, when it was operational, requested Zeno for additional testing. That’s where it went wrong.

General:               Explain.

Doctor:                 The sedation used for transportation did not work. The dose was too low, it seemed. What was fine for stationary in-lab work fell far short of the jostling of the transport. From reports, the truck used only got 6.7 miles from our Lab. Zeno woke, broke free of her restraints, and destroyed the vehicle.  REDACTED had been thrown from the cab. He witnessed what happened. Too many bones were shattered; the only thing he could do from the hollow he landed in was watch. Um, and later report.

According to REDACTED’s report, Zeno leaped up and down, capsizing and collapsing the frame of her transport. Her clawed front legs had been augmented, um, if you remember, and she ripped through the rest. Um, uh, then…and, um, well, she ate all on board, except for REDACTED. Afterward, she lapped up all the blood. That is why there weren’t any traces. Of blood. Or bodies.

General:               And the noise he reported?

Doctor:                 Um, this species of frog has no tongue. Hence the claws. They grabbed their prey with extremely strong clawed appendages. No long, curling tongue. Oh. Um, they also don’t croak. No tongue. The noise they make is a very annoying clicking sound. Uh, It was the one thing we didn’t miss when Zeno left.

So, um, she escaped. She made a home at the lake in the woods. When she was hungry or disturbed, she hunted.

Chairman:           This is all very disturbing. Were no controls set in place?

Doctor:                 That was why Lab #25 requested her, sir. They were having success with control and further augmentation models. Their goal was to…

General:               (sound of slamming on committee dais) Fine! Enough. We get it. Tell me, Doctor, why in the hell did all of the labs start using humans as test subjects? That was not in any of your mandates. (Pause for answer). Answer me, dammit!

CIC:                       Enough, General. This was a Need To Know situation. Not in your bailiwick. Understood?

General:              Yes, sir. Loud and clear.

Chairman:           (long pause of silence) Doctor. Please continue your original statement. (pause) Now, Doctor.

End:::::::::

Determination: Doctor REDACTED refused to say anything else on this occasion. He was remanded into custody. Further questioning to resume after Oversight Committee members reconvene.

 

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Vanishing Obstacles: #AtoZ Blog Challenge

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A Car In The Woods: Chapter Eighteen

2019 AtoZ Blog Challenge

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

 

AtoZ2019V VANISHING OBSTRUCTIONS

1963

Eddie found Pat ahead and off to the side. He lay prone on the freezing ground, keeping him out of her sight-lines. She slipped, slid, and fell more than she made any real progress. Pat would get up, shake herself, check her bearings, and continue moving.

“Good,” he thought.

After he came back from Nam, Eddie started a personal training regimen. He was “too antsy to sit still for any length of time” was what he’d say out loud, but inside was a different matter. How could he tell anyone how much he missed his training, staying fit, the focus it all gave him? Nam? Pat knew he had had a rough time there. He couldn’t talk about it. She held back from probing too hard. He appreciated that.

When he started, she watched from the kitchen window. Timmy joined him immediately. Debra always looked like she was going to jump in, but she kept backing off. The two of them sat together on the back porch. She saw Debra’s teenage indecision. One day she just began working out with them, Timmy daring Debra and egging her on. Debra finally joined in. Eddie had his whole family working their asses off. He felt nothing was better than this.

It was obvious to him that she kept the training going. Another chip knocked away in his conditioning. He felt something change. He rose and stealthily followed.

Getting within close distance to the main road, Pat fell again, sliding along the ice and into some of the prickly foliage. Eddie froze. Part of him was pushing to go help her; that part caused him to stand, wanting to rush to her side. The compulsion to stay out of sight and seize the target fought against that.

She disentangled herself in a flurry of curses and “Ow”s. If she turned around, she’d see him. He didn’t want to be seen. He wanted to be seen. Something in his mind shifted. Her back was still towards him. The strain was splitting him apart. Something gave.

“Pat,” came hoarsely to his lips, the name drifting towards her on the icy wind.

He saw her start, stop, throw her arms around herself and picked her way forward. Eddie moved as well, the need to conceal himself howling against the need for her. The force of the two opposing actions locked him up, unable to move in any way. Yet, one path was open.

“Patricia. Sweetie.”

She screamed, then glanced back. Eddie the anguish and fear that radiated off of her just before she took off and ran. He heard her scream “Stop,” saw her glancing behind her as she hurtled through the brush and straight into a tree. Patricia fell to the ground. Eddie waited for her to rise.

The last obstruction in his psyche shattered.

Step by step he approached her position. Crouching down, he checked her pulse, staunched the bleeding across her forehead by using the scarf she had been wearing, and tried to wake her. Eddie realized she needed more immediate help. He would have called for a Medic, if.

Picking her up, they trudged towards the Overlook pass. Eddie held her close to shield her the best he could from the wintery wind. She used to call him The Furnace, emitting so much body heat at night as they lay together in bed. He used that to keep her warm, the best he could while waiting to hear for a car heading in their direction.

Finally, the revving sound of a powerful engine came, getting louder as it got closer. It was still out of sight when Eddie carried Patricia over to a tree by the road and propped her against the trunk. He picked up a rock half the size of his hand, aimed, and threw it at the back paneling of the Sheriff’s Ford Fairlane. It hit.

Eddie faded away, erasing all traces of his being there while he found a spot to conceal himself. He heard the Sheriff get out and slam the car door. Next, some choice words as he walked to the rear of the car, stopping and cursing at the new dent marring his vehicle. The Sheriff called out he was going to get whoever threw that damn rock, turning around with continuing threats.

Until he saw Patricia slumped upright against a tree. Until he noticed a growing spread across her forehead. Reaching her, all of his caterwaulings stopped. Gingerly, Sheriff John got her into the back seat of his Ford. Closing the back door and opening the front, he revved the engine, put the car in Drive, and while he sped down the road he called into the town clinic to be ready.

Eddie waited until they were out of sight.

He needed to find his kids and make sure they were safe.

~~~~~    ~~~~~    ~~~~~

1968

Debra was not used to walking through the woods anymore. When she moved out west hiking was the last thing she wanted to do. She liked cities. Dangers lurked there as well, but the woods brought back too many horrid memories. She just loved her brother enough to fight her fear. Letting him go off on this wild goose chase alone was out of the question.

Tim took the lead, looking for any traces that would show him someone went this way recently. He’d point out a couple of broken branches, later what could have been part of a shoe print, and these would hurry him on. Debra just shook her head but stayed with him as best she could, sometimes having to call him to wait for her.

Tim’s yelp and leaping back to her scared her. He had the biggest smile which was matched by the glint in his eyes.

“There. HA! I told you!”

“What? Hey. Stop you’re hurting me. Let go.”

Tim dropped the arm he had been pulling and pointed just ahead of them. Deb walked around Tim and saw what he was pointing at. She gawked while he preened.

“It’s huge. The animal print is huge.”

“Look, Sis, look. The pads laid out, the shape of the outline. All bigger, yeah, but we know that paw print.”

“Schatzi?”

“Yup! Told you!” Grinning, he punched her in the arm.

The nervous tension laugh they shared helped smooth out their jumbled feelings. Debra was working hard to hold back from crying. When she looked into Tim’s eyes and saw they were filling with moisture, she smiled as they matched tear for tear.

An extremely large series of barks vibrated through them.

“That way,” she yelled. “C’mon, Tim,” she coaxed as she flew past him. Time caught up only seconds later.

Sounds came from straight ahead, some barking, something else mixing in. It would stop, then continue in another direction. Two more times this happened.

Then they heard an animal squeal, followed by a raging “YOU…” Whatever words followed were drowned out by a series of gunfire.

They both yelled “DAD!” at the same time. They had no time to process some of the difference in his voice. They knew it was his, instant acceptance. Instant fear for what they would find.

Neither rushed blindly into the clearing. They had learned well, training with their father, then their mom after he went missing. Splitting apart, remaining in eye contact, they looked around.

Deb saw it first. She got Tim’s attention through hand signals, telling him to stay but to keep watching. He acknowledged, fist moving up and down: yes. Crawling, Debra inched out of her cover and went to the mass before her.

Looking around, seeing that it was an animal of some kind but nothing else, she beckoned Tim over. Still wary, they began to stand. The beast on the ground began to growl and turned its head towards them.

The growling stopped the second Tim, then Debra came into view. The deep thumping of the tail went wild. With a whimper, it got off the ground and went for them.

Tim and Deb wrapped their arms around her as they were slobbered on by Schatzi kisses.

Tim buried his face into the scruff of Schatzi’s neck. Debra only broke away to take a look. She knew their dog, and the whimper meant only one thing: Schatzi was hurt.

While she searched, Debra took in the misshapen mess before her. She had trouble wrapping her head around the fact that this was their beloved shepherd.  Schatzi was bigger in her legs, wider in the shoulders, but there were hard lumps in various parts of her hide. The left side of her head was really out of whack, along her snout and up past her eye. Taking it all in broke her heart a bit; but…Schatzi. They had found Schatzi.

“Hey, Sis. Check her right rear flank. I think that’s blood. Schatz’ isn’t putting much weight on it. She’s leaning to the other side a bit.”

Tim was right. She found a bullet hole midway up Schatzi’s thigh. Tim removed his coat, took off his tee, and flung it to her. Deb grabbed it, called out “Thanks,” and pressed the wadded shirt onto the open wound.

They began to squabble a bit over what to do next, but two bodies crashing through the trees and bramble startled them quiet.

The two men were in constant motion. Punches flew rapidly. Choke holds were broken, one then the other were tossed around, rolling on the ground, all in a blur of violence.

“DAD!” Again, in synchronicity; this time Schatzi’s angry bark mixed in with their yell.

Tim went for the gun in his jacket pocket. Debra dug the flashlight out of hers: any object could be a weapon if used properly. “Lesson learned,” she thought. Schatzi limped-turned, her barks and growls escalating, matching the ferocity of the fighting before them.

Eddie jumped backward, his opponent’s speedy left jab missing his head.

“Kids. Get out of here. Schatzi…” was too much: he let his attention move from his foe. Debra and Tim winced as Eddie was tackled and went down. They saw that both of them were bleeding all over, the blood mixing so much neither was sure who was wounded, nor where it came from.

It was too sudden: the man drove his knees into Eddie’s chest. He leaned down, got a rock, and brought it down on Eddie’s left hand. He stopped at the fourth crushing blow. Reaching down, he brought up an item that was smeared in blood.

David’s combat knife was in Gary’s hands once again. He laughed in a gloating, hysterical way. Gary took it in both hands, raising it above Eddie’s chest.

“You’ve been crusin’ for a bruisin’, Eddie-boy, for way too long.”

Tim brought up the gun, put his finger on the trigger, and took a two-handed grip as he aimed it.

“Get off of my dad. NOW!”

Gary snickered and gave Tim the side-eye.

“Shut up, ankle-biter. You and sister will be next if you don’t back off.” Schatzi growled even more menacingly. “And your little dog, too. Down, Girl. Down.”

Schatzi began to react to the command. Debra was gearing up to rush the man.

Tim fired true.

The knife was knocked out of Gary’s hand. The bullet passed through both palms, luckily missing the knife handle and the possibility of ricocheting. Eddie threw a right-handed punch at Gary’s throat, sending him tumbling off, choking. Eddie got to feet, wobbling a bit, and placed his left hand under the crook of his right arm.

Debra reached her father first. Tim was right behind her. The tight, tight hug he gave them would have lasted forever if it had occurred at another time and place.

Tim was yanked up and backward.  The gun flew out of his hand, landing somewhere behind Debra. Gary had regained the knife when their attention had wavered. He was still choking, and his left eye was swollen shut from a series of punches from earlier in their tussle.

“Call her off,” Gary motioned over to Schatzi. Now, Eddie-boy. That one-two,” he snarled, seeing that Debra tightly held the flashlight. “Time to regroup for another day, Daddy-o. Follow me, and we’ll see how sharp this blade still is.”

Eddie dead-eyed Gary.

Gary held the blade against Tim as he backed them away.

“Yeah, time to regroup. But there ain’t no group anymore. Right? RIGHT? Tell the classy chassis next to you how you slaughtered all of your brothers and sisters.”

Debra stiffened up. She whispered “Dad?”

Under his breath, Eddie answered: “Not now. Understood.”

She nodded affirmatively.

Tim tried to struggle against the knife pressure but was rewarded with the feel of the blade letting some blood flow.

“Easy, brat. Easy. Hey, Eddie, he’s a fighter. Just like you. You want him? Come find me.”

They were gone from sight before Gary’s taunt was half over.

Eddie turned to go after them. Debra didn’t try to stop him. She walked over and gave him the flashlight.

“Get Tim, Dad. Get Tim.”

Eddie nodded. He leaned over and kissed her on her forehead. He was gone in a hobbling flash.

Debra walked over to Schatzi. “You too, Girl. Can you get Time? Can you follow?” Deb asked as she stroked her dog’s face. Schatzi’s tongue, always protruding, licked up over Debra’s face.

“Yuck, you silly dog. Go. Please go find them.”

Hobbling as well, Schatzi took off after them.

She followed across the open clearing, watching the direction Schatzi went. Once out of sight, she remembered something important: Tim’s gun.

Just as she found it and was checking how many bullets were in it, Debra heard her name coming from the other direction.

“Mom! Will! This way. Follow my voice. Hurray. C’mon. Mom!”

Patricia and Will ran into the clearing and right up to Debra, another earth-shattering hug.

“Tim’s been taken, mom. We have to go. Now.”

Patricia knew her daughter. Shaken up or not, she knew there was more. She gave Deb the look.

Debra deflated a bit. She looked at her mom; then her eyes lingered on Will when she said: “Dad’s alive.”

~~~~~    ~~~~~     ~~~~~

Present Day

The taunting hit them all.

Later.

Poor Schatzi.

There was a car in the woods.

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.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

logo

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.

 

If You Come To: #AtoZ Blog Challenge

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A Car In The Woods: Chapter Seven

2019 AtoZ Blog Challenge

AtoZ2019I IF YOU COME TO

 

1967 (continued)

The VW Microbus was idling, the driver focusing the binoculars on the back bedroom window. There. Movement. The curtain was open. Just like it had been for the past week. There was a clear view inside the room. At the angle the VW sat, three-quarters of the room could be seen: the bed, dresser, and door to the hallway.

The redhead walked by the window, stopping just beyond the panes. Ah, the neck brace was gone. This brought a grimace to the driver’s face. Inside, she was taking off her pajamas, getting dressed for the day. No shower, this time. The driver kept watching until the woman opened the room door, walked out, and closing it behind her. Something new came into view: a suitcase came into view. It had been obscured by the door.

The two-tone Bus backed up out of the brush shielding it, turned down the hilly dirt road, and made its way to the house. No one could be seen in front or around the sides. Another plus. They must have given up on patrol. Looking through the bay window, there were three figures sitting down to breakfast. The driver finally paid attention to the grumbling, growling sounds just below. The VW picked up a little speed and left.

“Food first. Then, her,” Lisa thought. She turned the Microbus away from town, heading down the interstate to a diner where no one knew her.

~~~~

“It’s fine. It’s fine, Mom. Just a little sore, that’s all. I’ll live.”

Samantha had been rubbing her neck, which set her mother into protective overdrive. She sat with her parents, at their insistence, staring at the cup of coffee in her hands. They had breakfast in front of them. Her Dad ate sparingly; her mom just moved things around the plate.  She knew her parents were still afraid for her. She was still afraid for herself, but things had to move along. The Sheriff finally calling off his deputy watchdogs didn’t help.

The manhunt for Lisa Davies came to a big nothing. The Davies family lived a county over and had a reputation for hunting out of season, going places they were not supposed to set foot on. They taught Lisa well in that if nothing else. The State Troopers felt she had left the area completely. The Sheriff thought so too and told the Wander family the same. He apologized, again, for not coming through. He’d keep an eye out, meaning his men would drive by every now and then, but there were other matters that had to be seen to.

She laughed, and cringed when he said that.

It didn’t matter, much. Tomorrow she’d be leaving for San Francisco. Vanessa was jumping out of her skin elated. Samantha had to let her be excited for both of them for a while. She felt numb inside when the fear didn’t take over. At this point, she wished she was already on the plane.

The day was spent packing. Samantha had to remind herself that this wasn’t just a trip. She was leaving. Moving. Samantha sat on her bed looking around her room. The piles of clothes, her books, her LP’s, all her things. Her mother, who stayed home to help her and spend as much time together as possible, came in with an old camp trunk. The one suitcase wasn’t enough. It was all too much, too overwhelming.  Her mom sat down next to her and hugged her. They shed tears together as they leaned into each other.

Things changed in a New York minute once evening settled around them.

Samantha’s dad insisted they go out for dinner; a celebratory and farewell gesture. Reluctantly she agreed. She chose a restaurant a few towns south simply because she did not want to rehash anything from the incident. The people in town meant well, but.

The night was chillier than she thought. As her parents walked to the car, she stepped back inside the hallway and took a jacket off of the coat rack. A honk, her dad, got her out of the house, putting the jacket on as she walked to the car.

A squeal of tires sounded out from just beyond their yard. She couldn’t see anything, the streetlights not yet turned on. Then it got louder as it got closer. It was a Hippie Van, and it was heading right towards them. No. It was on a clear path towards the family car.

“Mom! Dad!” Samantha yelled in vain, as the Microbus T-boned their Pontiac. It backed up, coming closer to Samantha. She was frozen to the spot. The driver’s door was flung open, and the driver sprang out, running towards her.

Lisa. It was Lisa. Samantha was having trouble processing what was going on. Her thoughts were strangling any cognitive information. It was only seconds, but they were gone in a flash. Lisa wound her arm back and punched her in the face. Samantha collapsed into unconsciousness.

It would be some time before she came to.

 

Present Day

If only Samantha heeded Dylan Thomas.

“Do not go gentle into that good night” he wrote.

If only she had said: “No, I don’t want to go out.”

Would it have changed the outcome?

We’ll never know.

There was a car in the woods.

 

 

Haight Expectations: #AtoZ Blog Challenge

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A Car In The Woods: Chapter Six

2019 AtoZ Blog Challenge

AtoZ2019HHAIGHT EXPECTATIONS

1967

Dr. Samantha Wander rarely lived up to her last name. She was content to live in the same area she grew up in, only venturing out of state during her college through doctorate years. Her psychologist Ph.D. in hand, she returned to her home town. It felt normal.  Her one-year post-doc internship took her to an adjacent county; she barely stood the daily travel. Attaining superb evaluation results, Samantha submitted all the necessary paperwork, and all the years of hard work were validated.  A place had been saved for her in her parent’s medical practice; her skills were needed.

Her best friend Vanessa was the polar opposite. She traveled every chance she could during their school years. Sometimes she was able to coax Samantha to join her; most times studies stood in the way. Vanessa went for the same degrees, same schools, and shared rooms with Sammy, her private nickname, throughout their educational escapades. Opposites in some ways, but exactly alike in their passion for the growing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy programs.

Vanessa went out to the west coast for her yearlong internship, promising Samantha she’d come back east after the year was over.

She didn’t.

San Francisco captured her completely, the lifestyle, the music, the climate; it claimed her, body and soul. She’d been putting the bug in Samantha’s ear to please come to San Francisco. There was a spot open in the clinic that Vanessa worked at, but it wouldn’t remain open for long. Haight-Ashbury was the place where it was all happening. Already, at the tail end of June, it was happening on overdrive, and doctors of all stripes were needed.

Samantha promised Vanessa she would think about it. Really think about it this time. The phone call Vanessa had made laid it all out on the table. “I need your scrawny-ass-red-headed stubborn self here. With me. Now. Stat! Pronto! Rápido! I’ll even put flowers in your hair!”

“I love you too,” she said, and they talked for a little while longer.

Samantha wrote out her pros and cons list as she did with every major decision. Putting her pencil down and pushing the paper away across the desk, Samantha swiveled her chair to face the window in her office. The street was the same as it had always been. The patients rarely varied, rarely advanced on the goals they set together, sometimes falling deep into the holes they kept digging for themselves. The hilly terrain, the abundance of trees: all the same, only morphing with the seasons.

As she shook her head, Samantha’s legendary exasperated sigh passed through her lips. Vanessa called it Sammy’s Sigh of Grand Despair.  She laughed at this, which drew other memories pouring in. Hugging herself, all she understood at the moment was that she was missing Vanessa, with a vengeance.

She told her parents about leaving that night, and the discourse went on long into the night. Coffee,  verbal pros and cons, more coffee, further debates, detailed analysis, some crying, some accusations, coffee, defeats, mild acceptances, and finally bed. By 3:23 am, Samantha was planning how she would let her patients know. She wanted to call Vanessa, give her the news, but felt some sleep was imperative to be able to face the morning appointments.

The day progressed mainly how she thought it would. Most understood, all wished her luck, and too many fell in upon themselves. A few went into mild hysterics, but they were able to calm down with Samantha’s help. She assured them that a replacement would be found before she left. Her schedule confirmed that she would see the majority of her patients over the week; the few bi-monthlies she would call.

The one she absolutely dreaded fell on the second day. Her expectations for that session were not very positive, given the history of their encounters. Lisa Davis had, and still was living, a very painful life. Abused by family, physically, emotionally, and though her juvenile records were sealed, sexually as well. Alcohol, sex, and physically releasing her anger were her coping mechanisms. She always picked up the “wrong guy” at one bar or another. More times than not, her encounters left her with bruises and torn clothing. A few times it landed her in the hospital.

Her temper was quick to rise and harder to quell, and she exacted revenge when she could. Tall and wiry, Lisa was in and out of trouble. Her last outburst landed her three months in county, followed by six months in a psych ward. Things settled down inside of her during those nine months, enough so that she was released on the condition she met the court-mandated twice-a-week therapy demands. One more incident, one more going over the line, and it was upstate prison time. She knew it.

Knowing it and caring about it were two different things.

Samantha thought she was prepared for a Lisa Davis outburst; they had been making progress, she felt, and her overall emotional roller coaster seemed to be leveling out. Samantha was wrong. Lisa was edgy when she arrived. Her father was putting demands on her, this time about money. Samantha did some heavy lifting in this session, with Lisa putting up roadblocks along the way.

Their session was almost at an end. Samantha had no choice but to tell Lisa the news so she wouldn’t hear it elsewhere. It did not go well. No matter how she presented the facts of her leaving, Lisa took it deeply personal. Deeply. Things escalated in a hurry. The hurt on her face, blaming herself, flipping it around against Samantha, her issues of abuse, abandonment, disrespect, getting used. Back and forth, back and forth. Every negative emotion overwhelmed Lisa. It finally built into a bursting, all-consuming rage.

Lisa leaped up off the couch. Tears were pouring down, her face turning a hellish red. All of her muscles were constricting and clenching, her hands drawn into vein-popping fists. Samantha bolted out of her chair, trying to make her way to the office door. The thrown framed diploma went flying past her, shattering against the door. Lisa jumped back at that and cringed as the coffee table, with the box of tissues, followed the smashed frame. The door was blocked off.  Samantha backed away slowly, moving behind her desk. She screamed. Lisa, lurching towards her, howled.

When the staff finally were able to make their way in, they stopped, gaping at the destruction.  Everything in the office was in disarray. Books, bookcases, wall hangings, furniture, and other odds and ends were strewn around the room. Lisa had her back to them. Her hands were wrapped around Samantha’s neck, pushing her back against the room’s window.

Samantha was clawing at the strangling hands, scoring rows of broken skins, rivulets of blood mixing together across Lisa’s hands and forearms. She was losing and knew it, her throat squeezed, the intense pain, the lack of incoming air. Through her protruding eyes, she saw her father run up, followed by other staff. It took a blow to the back of Lisa’s head and a kick to the inside of her knees to get her to drop her hands. Down on the other knee, Lisa started to lunge at the guy to her right.

She didn’t get that far. Samantha’s father had picked up the now broken brass desk lamp, swung it with angry force, and again connected with Lisa’s cranium.  She was down. The only sounds in the room were the gulping for air from Samantha. Everyone else was doing what they could to calm their ramped up hearts. Someone had already called the Sheriff’s office.

Her breathing became easier but painful. Samantha’s father led her out of the room, her mother joining them as they made it to the hallway. The Sheriff and his men arrived just Samantha and her parents made it to their car.  He walked over to them and got the gist of what happened. The Sheriff had other questions. Samantha’s mother put a stop to that. She needed the hospital, they could talk later, and the family got in the car and drove off.

It wasn’t until Samantha was being discharged that they found out that Lisa regained consciousness just before the Sheriff entered the office. She hauled off and punched him between the eyes. Really, really hard. Next, she kicked the closest deputy between his legs, tackling and tossing the other deputy out of her way. By the time all were fit enough, Lisa was gone. All law enforcement in the surrounding counties and the State Police were put on alert.

The Sheriff placed one of his men at the Wander house. Instead of feeling secure, Samantha was overwhelmed. She closed the door of her room, picked the phone up, and sat on the floor, back leaning against her bed. She called Vanessa, and the two of them cried through the telling of the events, ending with smiles they both could feel from the other over the phone line when Samantha told Vanessa her decision. The call lasted a while; plans were made. Vanessa was supportive and encouraging.  She regaled Samantha with all the things she would experience when she arrived at the Haight. The Love In happenings.  Live music everywhere. A peaceful stampede of hippies taking over the streets. Acceptance from the young; intolerance from the Hawks.  “It is so alive,” she said.  “We can be. Alive. We can do what we are meant to do, meant to be. You and me.” Samantha listened to it all, interjecting enough so Vanessa knew she was already with her in spirit.

A shiver ran through her, her mind taking her elsewhere. This all sounded wonderful to Samantha. Yet, it was drowned out by one consuming thought:

Lisa was still out there.

 

Present Day

A not so pretty picture was painted that day. Painted and then torn to shreds.

It would not be the only thing ripped apart, in the end.

Lisa was still out there.

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.