Where is the damn key? Will Wallace thought to himself as he hoisted his friend Jim's green welcome mat high above his head. He had just jogged from his house to Jim’s. He began shaking the mat around, and the key seemingly fell form nowhere in particular, landing on the concrete step with a ding. Although he was exhausted and sweaty, he was rather excited for the Halo tournament they were scheduled to have in a hour when Jim got off work. Jim had told him to let himself in early, to make sure all the cords and Internet worked. Upon stepping into the house and being harshly battered by the soothing air conditioning, he saw the magnificent Harbis coat of arms. It consisted of a centered golden triangle, with a triangular gap that split the golden one into three congruent pieces. Below that was a red bird, as if you were viewing it from the top as it would fly, also centered perfectly below the triangles. In the birds talons was yet another golden triangle, and it was the exact size of the omission in the large one, almost as if it had been taken out of the middle. Besides the metal border, the background was a brilliant blue. Will had a soft spot for epic shields, and gawked at it for a few minutes before making his way to the living room. After checking the internet connectivity and controller battery levels of the Xbox, he decided to clean the house a little bit. Shortly after finishing the bathroom, he got a call from Jim himself.
“Hey, Will! I take it you’re at my house, since you answered the call, yeah?” Jim said, his voice partially distorted by the phone.
“Well, yeah, I cleaned the bathro-” Will began.
“Well, I’m in a small hurry. You see, I forgot to grab the game from Jack’s house when I was over there last Thursday, so I’ve got to swing by there before I get back.” Jim interrupted.
“Jack? You mean Jack Harkness? The guy from your work who devised a control scheme for piloting a starship?” Will asked, holding back a laugh.
“Yeppers, that’s the one! He’s not too bad to hang around with, if you can get past the starship noises he makes.” Jim said, chuckling softly, followed by an imitation of Jack. “Vssheeeroo!”
“Alright. So I have a bit of time still. You want me to make something to eat?” Will asked, having wandered to the pantry as he conversed.
“Yeah, go ahead. I’m pretty hungry. Make anything you want except the-” Jim started, before a dial tone filled Will’s ears. Note to self. Threaten AT&T at gunpoint to provide better coverage.
Will pondered for a while, trying to imagine what Jim could have been saving. Looking in the freezer, he saw a huge turkey. Here’s the perpetrator, your majesty! He thought humorously. Grabbing the turkey with both hands, he looked it over. Plump. Also frozen. Bleh. Please! Your omnipotence! Have mercy! Will continued, rolling his eyes at himself. He carefully set it back in the freezer and grabbed some lasagna from one of the other freezer shelves. He followed the basic preparation instructions and slid it into the oven. Why am I going through all of this trouble, anyway? He shuddered as a fast recollection went through his mind. Who was he remembering? He stared down at his finger where, nine months prior, a ring had been. He truly had loved her. Reua T’nerb. And so, an internal conflict began.
God, she was beautiful. So why did you screw yourself over so horribly? I didn’t! It’s not like I could help it! These things take time to develop! So letting her find out you were boinking someone else wasn’t screwing yourself over? And a man at that? Who are you trying to convince? Will cringed as he remembered the acidic sting Reua’s nails had left on his face. I swear she soaked them in vinegar... He was sure that many vile terms were verbally applied to him, but he didn’t remember which ones they were. Reua had just ripped up a photo of Travis and him holding hands by a pond. It was all just a blur, and anything he heard was muted except for one thing.
“Daddy, make mommy stop yelling! I’m scared!” his daughter’s voice pierced, resounding above everything else. Oh, how he missed her. Little Agitha Fura Wallace. One thing he loved most about his daughter was her obsession with small, golden bugs. She always tried to collect them, but usually became sidetracked and began to play other things in her roomy backyard. The last day Will had seen Agitha was at court, as his wife provided the judge with substantial reason to divorce him. Yep, Reua had gotten the best thing of all. I haven’t told Jim anything... why not? Time flew for Will, and soon he was taking the lasagna out of the oven, turning his head as he heard a noise from the door.
“I hope you didn’t cook the - oh. I was gonna say not to cook the turkey. Nice!” Jim said as he waltzed through the door, holding his cherished copy of Halo 3 out in front of him. He began snuggling it against his face, making Will laugh.
“Oh, will you stop?” Will hardly managed. “You’re such a dork! Go put it in the room, then get back here and grab a plate!” Jim put the game case sideways in his mouth and clapped his hands, as if he were about to dance. Suddenly, he did a spin, grabbed his crotch (uttering a muffled “Ooh!”) and moonwalked into the living room, earning more laughter from Will, who was clutching his sides. Eventually, Jim made it back into the kitchen, and plopped himself down onto one of the stools that rested in front of the island. He grabbed the fork, licked his lips and took a giant sniff, catching the great aroma of Stouffer’s.
“Now don’t just inhale it, Halo will always be there. Be careful; it’s hot.” Jim said, placing the plate of lasagna in front of his hungry friend.
“Hut!” Jim heaved as he stabbed his lasagna with his fork. The guys ate as much as they could handle, and Will put the remainders of the lasagna into some plastic containers. He turned around and saw Jim’s leg dissapear around the corner, followed by a yell of, “The Banshees will be mine!”
“You cheap bastard! Wait for me!” Will called back as he put the little tubs of food into the fridge and slammed the door shut.
Thirty-seven headshots and twenty-three team kills later, Jim and Will said their goodbyes, and will headed out the door. Such a beautiful night for a walk home... Will thought as he held his hands int he pockets of his tan trenchcoat. ‘Twas a beautiful autumn night, and there was no denying it. As he passed under various streetlights leading back to his house, he took many satisfying sniffs. As he reached his house, he sighed happily. He went to unlock the door, but found it unlocked already. Meh. Must’a been in a helluva hurry... As he entered his foyer, he was reluctant to take his coat off, as it was his favorite, like a child’s safety blanket. He hung it on his coatrack and smiled. I love this coatrack. It’s so sleek... He yawned and stretched, starting to walk into his living room. He reached for the light, and fumbled around before he finally hit it. Will heard and felt a blistering crack and everything went black again.
Blow after blow rattled Will’s head and ribs, and he was crying. Oh, how he cried. Everything was a black confusion. Then he smelled it. Nuit Brillant de Pompadour. He would never forget this perfume; no sir, never. Instantaneously, his mind shot back to the only other time he had been so unlucky to smell the wretched brew. On Reua and his 6th anniversary, (which had been the last before the divorce) Will, at dinner in his home, had presented to her a bottle of Nuit Brilliant de Pompadour. It was a French perfume, and was quite expensive. Normally, he wouldn’t have spent so much money on a mere gift, but Reua had gotten rather... unfriendly over their 6-year marriage. Will had hoped to impress her and make her act less bitter. As Reua had ungratefully opened the small, wrapped box, Will sat nervously, sweating and pulling at his collar.
“What is this garbage?” She asked him in a shockingly hateful tone.
Will was caught off guard. “It’s a-a Fre-French p-p-perfume, and I though you w-would enj-joy it...” he stammered in a manner quite ungraceful.
“Well, you could have done better by not wasting money on this shit!” She screeched, throwing the box to the ground, utterly destroying the fine glass bottle within. She then jumped from the table and sucker-punched poor Will straight in the stomach before walking to her room and slamming the door. Will lay on the floor, gasping for breath, when Agitha wandered out of her room.
“Oh, Daddy, what happened?” she cried, tears welling in her eyes.
“Nothing, sweetie, Daddy just hurt his stomach.” he choked out.
She knelt by her rasping father and kissed his forehead.
“You should be more careful from now on...” she said, allowing her tears to fall. Will looked up and tried to smile.
“You’re right, Agitha. Go on back to sleep, now, alright?” He said, getting to his knees and hugging her.
“I love you, daddy.” she sighed.
“I love you too, little Agitha.” he said, kissing her cheek.
He heard her go up the stairs, and after about three minutes, a music box began to play from Agitha’s room. It was a lullabye, and it was the only one that played that particular song. Will had made the roller himself.
He blacked out once more as he recieved another harsh blow to the cranium. When he awoke, he was lying on his kitchen table, completely stripped of his clothing. His feet and arms were bound behind his back, and then together. The light above the table came on, and he saw Reua standing awkwardly next to the lightswitch; the same one he had trouble locating.
“Well, now...” Reua began, an evil smile spreading across her face. “You’ve met with an unfortunate fate, haven’t you?”
“Reua, what are you doing here? Who’s watching Agitha?” He sputtered, not caring about his nudity in the slightest.
“What am I doing? Nothing much, just... ridding my life of the things that plague me...” she looked thoughtful, but then donned another grotesque grin. “Agitha, eh? Well... have you read the obituaries lately? There was quite a horrible car accident...”
Will’s eyes widened. “No! Reua, no! Tell me she’s alive!” He began to cry.
“Well, I can’t say that. You don’t want me to lie, do you?” She began cackling, as if she had lost her mind.
“You traitorous bitch! Damn you, vile woman!” Will struggled to free himself, but to no avail. Reua had stopped laughing.
“Traitorous? Me? You’re one to talk! Look back at us, married... and all of a sudden I find out that you’ve been sleeping with a MAN?” She produced a meat cleaver from behind her. “It seems that you’ve gotten yourself into some trouble with your... member... wouldn’t you say?” She eyed him carefully.
“N-n-no! You stay away from me with that, dammit!” He screamed.
She grabbed a washrag out of a bucket on the counter. Holding it, she advanced and held it to his face.
“Tell me, dear Will, does this smell like chloroform to you?” she asked him, eerily peaceful as she did so. Once he stopped struggling, she eyed the knife, then his naked lowers. Grabbing said lowers, she raised the knife.
“Think of it as a favor!” she yelled, bringing the knife down.
Author’s Notes: The above story was written as an assessment to Stephen King’s assignment he gave in his book, On Writing. Also, Nuit Brilliant de Pompadour means “Brilliant Night of Pompadour” and I do not believe it is a real perfume.
Around 8:13, Sherry went to receive the mail on that same morning, only finding that someone had bashed her mailbox in with a blunt object.
-Damn teenagers!- she yelled mentally, then realized her own daughter was a teenager. She chuckled to herself before wiggling the mail out of the smashed box. She sighed, went back in the house, and got ready for work.
Jasmine sat in Biology, bored to death with her teacher's words of Ardepithicus Ramidus and his extinct friends.
-It's a fan-freaking-tastic prehistoric party.- she thought amusingly. The one thing that was always on her mind was ice cream, of all things. She guessed it was because of Alisa's accident. Remembering that, she wasn't hungry anymore. Lots of her friends had asked her about what it was like to be there and see it happen, and each time she burst into tears, and angrily shoved the people away from her.
Alisa's father, Dwight Sullivan, awoke to the sound of a car starting and pulling out of the driveway.
-Where the hell is Sherry going this early?- he thought, groggily.
"Hopefully it's to work." He said to nobody.
He walked, still tired, to his kitchen and noticed his copy of Stephen King's Insomnia on the table. He picked it up and started to read where he left off. Ralph's attempts to hide his thoughts from Doc #3 made him laugh. He read for twenty minutes before he realized his bladder was full, and that he was hungry. He promptly relieved himself and made some omlettes, after washing his hands.
Later that morning, at abour 11:43, Alisa sat watching the news while she waited for the day she could go home. She tapped on the cast surrounding her leg and winced, expecting intense pain. She was suprised to find that there was no pain.
-Must be one hell of a cast!- she exclaimed mentally.
=You would think so, wouldn't you?= a deep, masculine voice responded, except there was nobody in the room.
-Where are you? Who are you? How can you read my thoughts?- she asked it, unsure if she would get a response.
=My name is Julius Johnson. I'm in the room above you, and I've been able to do this since I was fifteen. That's how I would pass all my tests in high school. It was fun, let me tell you.=
-Since we are having a conversation, does that mean I have this "thing" too?-
=Were you involved in an accident or something of the like?=
-Yeah, I'm here cause I got hit by a car, and broke my left arm, right leg, part of my neck, and stopped breathing.-
=Well, that sounds about right. Usually happens after a near-death experience, like yours and mine.=
-What happened to you?-
=It was my fifteenth birthday, and we had a drawbucket well, God knows why, and my dad left it open and told me he hid my present in it. He was joking, and I got mad, being the arrogant teen I was, and started kicking at the bricks. When that did no visible damage, I leaned up against it and started calling him dirty words. the bricks gave way, and I fell down the shaft. Broke the same arm and leg as you, but instead of my neck, I broke part of my back. I also couldn't breathe, but that only lasted about a minute and a half. Luckily, my brother saw me fall in. When they got me out, I was crying and said that I would never call people cuss-words ever again. I try not to, but sometimes an arrogant bastard is, well, an arrogant bastard.=
-Aw, damn! Sorry to hear that Mr. Jo-
=Call me Julius, please!= he interjected.
-Ok. Sorry to hear that, Julius. How old are you now?- she asked, concerned for this poor soul's well-being.
=23. I'm here today because I wanted to get into the air-conditioning. I told them I was here to visit the old chap up here in this room.
I got his name from two chubby ladies walking out of the main door.=
Alisa snickered at that, both mentally and out loud.
=This thing only works close range too, and I'm feeling hungry. I'll leave you to have your thoughts unmolested for a while.=
-Well, give me a shout if you come back!-
=Oh, I will. They have cable here!=
And with that, he was gone.
Very quickly, a short submliminal string of worries shot through Alisa's mind.
=>whataboutmyboyfriend whatwashisname ohyeahhisnamewasdevon doeshestillloveme willibegoodenoughforhimwhenimhealed<= At that exact moment, Devon made plans to take another girl to the movies after school. Alisa hadn't the slightest clue. Sherry walked into the room just as Alisa's mental conversation ended, and Alisa almost jumped out of her skin. "God, mom! You scared the hell out of me!" Alisa said, laughing as she carefully hugged her mother. "How have you been, hon?" Her mom asked, giving Alisa the most motherly look ever conceived. Alisa prepaared to answer her when Sherry's face twisted into a large, evil grin, and her mouth had grown nearly three feet long, twisting across her face like a giant crack. It went from ear to ear. The crack opened, revealing nearly sixteen circular rows of teeth. Sherry moved in closer to Alisa, as if to surround her head with those horrible teeth. Trying not to scream, Alisa picked up the knife she had used to cut up her egg. She held it by the blade, with the sharp edge pressing against her palm =>justlikeinthosecallofdutygamesthatdevonalwaysplays<= the subconscious string said.
She cocked her arm, got ready to throw it, and let the bastard fly.
The knife flew into Sherry's gaping mouth, lodging itself through the roof of her mouth, her sinuses, and into her brain.
=>headshot<= the subconcious string said.
Big-mouthed Sherry made a noise which seemed to Alisa as tires sqealing on pavement.
Alisa snapped awake screaming.
Roger Sandersburg woke up in prison, breathing heavily and once again sweating. His cellmate gave him a look that said -Really?- Roger looked at the ground.
-I wish I would have gotten the death sentence. What was I thinking?- he thought, his eyes tracing the lines on the floor.
=Why do you wish that?= a deep man's voice said.
Roger looked around at his cellmate.
"Hey, did you say something?" he asked.
"No, mud'afugga, I di'n't say nuttin." the cellmate replied.
=It wasn't him.= the voice said to Roger.
-Are you in my head?- he asked the voice.
Roger had always been the shy type. When he was around ninteen, he became obsessed with conspiracy theories about the government and such. He was convinced that they could read his mind and that the aliens would come and probe him. Luckily, thanks to his great golfing abilities, he was able to take his mind off every theory he had ever heard in his life. In fact, he was so good at golf, that the only reason Tiger Woods became famous is becuase he broke his ankle before the tournaments. He got mairried after his ankle broke. His wife's name was Veronica Spalini, and her family had moved to America when she was three.
He met her in sixth grade, when his teacher had placed him at the same table as her. The first time they ever spoke was when she had dropped her scissors. Roger had caught them and cut his finger.
"My gosh! Are you alright?" she had asked him.
He told her he was fine, and that it was only a small cut. He was good at hiding the pain, because the cut had extended all the way down the side of his hand. He raised his uncut hand to ask to go to the bathroom, where he washed it off and cried. He still has the scar to this day, a testament to the love he lost. After seven years of beautiful marriage, they finally decided to have a child. During the birth of the baby, it was strangled by its own umbilical cord. He couldn't believe what happened and shot his hand up to hold Veronica's. They were very cold.
Veronica had died as well.
He cried every night he spent alone for a whole two months. In three years time, he was seeing people again. There was a small problem. Whenever he went steady for a while, he would find himself in a situation where actions were getting heated, and sex was just around the corner. When that time arose, he immediately thought of Veronica, and he was disgusted with himself, ultimeately forsaking any upcoming actions, leaving his girlfriend very unhappy and angry with him. She always called him a wuss, saying
"I thought I was the one with the pussy in this relationship!"
He left the room, exited the hallway, and stepped out of the elevator on the verge of tears.
On July 13, he had been on the phone with a hotel clerk, trying to reserve a lounge for his dead daughter's memorial party/wedding anniversary. As it turned out, their wedding, only wife and child's death had fallen on the same day. The clerk said there was already reservations in all of the rooms. And that had been when he had inadvertently struck Alisa.
=Those are some very unfortunate circumstances, Roger.=
"How in the hel-" Roger began out loud, earning him another stare by his cellmate.
-How in the hell are you talking to me? Who are you? Have you read my thoughts? You fucking creep!-
=Please, Roger. No need for foul language or insults. Yes, I can read your thoughts, but you have read mine as well. That is how we are communicating. My name is Julius Johnson, and yes. I did read the story about your wife as you thought it. I am very sorry that all landed you in prison. How long are you in for?=
-Well, just today and tomorrow. Luckily for me, this town, Old Balldown End, decided to keep an old set of laws intact that deal with automotive accidents. That's the only reason I'm in here really. How is this... this telepathy... even possible?-
=Well, I went through some circumstances very similar to your own. I had a beautiful wife. Like you, were were married exactly 7 years before we decided to raise a child into the world. Evenutually, when the baby was being born, I was mentally cussing out the doctor for gawking at my wife's vagina. When it came out, it also died by strangulation with the umbilical cord. Mine too was also a baby girl. It was absolutely mind-bending, and after that I vowed never to swear again. Sometimes, however, I do swear. Sometimes an arrogant bastard is, well, an arrogant bastard.=
-How old are you?-
=Well, this is kindof awkward, but I am also thirty-four. Just like yourself.=
Roger swayed on his bed and fainted. The last thing he heard was Julius announcing that he needed to leave the jail, because the cops were suspicious why he was just sitting in the lobby.
It was cold and dark, and that was all she knew. It was then bright. In the daze she found herself in, she heard jumbled words and phrases. Buleer! Kluur! Clear! She felt a sharp lurch in her chest, and found she could make no noise. Finally, she was allowed rest and heard someone calling out her name. "Alisa! Alisa!" the voice said numerous times. By the 6th time, Alisa had passed out.
Whether there was a dream to be dreampt, she didn't know. When she awoke, her mother, Sherry, was holding her hand.
"Nice to see you, sleepyhead," said Sherry, with tears in her eyes.
"Hey mom," she replied. "everything hurts... what happened?"
Sherry's sad smile quickly died.
It all ran through Sherry's mind in an instant.
July 13, 2010.
The day it happened.
Alisa was walking with her friend Jasmine, and they were sharing the headphones on Jasmine's iPod. The song, as it was later released, had been "Heaven On A Sunday" by Sir Paul McCartney. They were at a crosswalk in front of the Old Balldown End Mall. Jasmine had bought a large blue raspberry slushee, and Alisa had a plain ol' ice cream cone. They started off across the street, and Alisa thought of Abbey Road. Shortly thereafter, Jasmine grabbed at her arm. The cone fell to the ground and splattered, like a glob of jelly against a wall. Everything hurt. She heard a car door slam, and saw nothing but red.
"Shit! Shit! Oh my god!" screamed the man who got out of the car.
"What the fuck were you thinking? Can you fucking see?" Jasmine yelled at him.
The man was bald, sweating profusely, and was wiping it away with a plaid golf cap, which soaked into his white golfing gloves.
A security guard had seen the whole thing and called 911. The ambulance came, and they loaded Alisa into the back. She had stopped breathing.
As Sherry told Alisa the story, Alisa blinked in disbelief.
"What happened to Jasmine? Is she ok?" asked Alisa.
"Actually, she i-" Sherry began.
There was some shuffling of feet outside the hospital room, and in walked Jasmine.
"Alisa! You're awake!"
Jasmine came over and carefully hugged Alisa, minding the casts on her left arm and right leg, and also the neck brace she was wearing.
"Alisa, I'm so sorry I let you get hit, but I saw him a split second after you did, and I tried to grab you, and-"
Jasmine started to cry.
After about ten minutes of hugs and comfort, the nurse came to inform the group that visiting times were over. As Jasmine prepared to go, Sherry pulled her to the side.
"Thank you so much for watching out for her and trying to protect her." Sherry said, hugging Jasmine tightly.
"You're welcome, I guess, but it wasn't a choice. I had to at least try to do something. I also don't exactly have a ride home. I kinda walked here." replied Jasmine.
"Oh, it's no trouble at all. I am curious, though. Aren't you sixteen? You could get a license, couldn't you?"
The nurse ushered them out before Jasmine could answer.
Sherry dropped Jasmine off at home, and drove off. Jasmine was quiet as not to wake her uncle and little brother. As soon as she got in to the house and closed the door, She heard a small knocking coming from upstaris.
"OK, I'm home now!" She yelled up the stairs.
The noises abruptly stopped.
She went into her room, grabbed her bed clothes, and went downstairs to shower. When that was finished, she promptly went to bed.
Before she fell asleep, the last thought to cross her mind was that her uncle was unmarried.
The next morning, Alisa woke up from a very strange dream. In the dream, she was wearing a plaid golf cap, and was tied up. She had a white golfing glove in her mouth as a gag, and she was about to get hit with a nine-iron. It came swinging at her in slow motion, and when it was a millimeter from her cheek, she woke up. She moved her arm and screamed.
The nurse came rushing in, asking her what was wrong.
"Oh, nothing. I had a pretty messed up dream, and I woke up and hit my arm on the railing."
The nurse propped her arm up, gave a satisfactory nod, and walked out of the room.
Alisa averted her eyes to the T.V. screen and sighed. Sesame Street was on.
-What do they think I am? Five?- she thought to herself. The T.V. then shuffled channels to channel 23, where a reporter was just coming in live from the Old Balldown End Mall.
"Yesterday at approximately 1:28 in the afternoon, a girl and her friend were walking right about where I am stnading now. A man came driving in and struck one of them. Police have released information about him. His name was Roger Sandersburg, age 34, and he was on his cellphone when the accident took place." said the reporter in a voice that suggested she had a cold.
The nurse brought in some food.
-Bleh. Hospital food. Probably government rations, like at school.- Alisa thought.
She thanked the nurse, and began eating.
She was unaware that the pain in her leg had gone away.