Homework Gone Awry: And Now For Something Completely Different

Stuart rubbed at his eyes with his thumb and forefinger. The words on the page still weren’t making much sense. He wasn’t sure if it was fatigue or his inability to grasp the benefit of understanding the intricate social system of a German cockroach.

The latch on the door behind Stuart clicked, and then clacked. The sound of shuffling feet materialized in to Darryl sliding across the living room floor. His hands were deep in the pockets of his tattered bath robe. The hems of his pajama pants left trails in the dust. Stuart’s gaze followed as Darryl stopped in the middle of the room. Through greasy bangs a concerned look flashed across his eyes.

“Hey, listen. Ya hear that?”

Stuart looked around the dim room. “Hear what?”

“Shh. Quiet.”

In all fairness, Stuart didn’t know what he should have been listening for. It may not have on any other day, but the noise that resembled the painful regurgitation of a distressed sheep took him by surprise. The shock lasted only a moment before he was hit with an intense aroma.

“For the love of Christ, my mouth was open!”

Stuart turned away, the book in his hands now flattened against his nose. He looked back to see the concern in Darryl’s eyes turn to mischief and a sly smile cross his face.

“Ya like that do ya?” Darryl pursed his lips and raised his nose, “There’s a hint of something special there, it’s sort of Oakey.”

“It’s like you just shit a burning log is what it’s like.”

“Come on now, probably won’t be no lasting effects.”

“Go kick a ball Darryl.”

Darryl dropped his head and continued across the room, “Don’t go gettin’ all hurt, you’ll live.”

“I know I’ll live, it’s you I’m worried about!”

Darryl didn’t answer as he passed through the darkened bathroom door.

Stuart sighed, “I need to find a new place to live.”

 

*******

Photo by Brandi Redd on Unsplash

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Michael

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“Michael, is that you?”

“Yes Charles, I’m here.”

“Where… where are we?”

“In a safe place Charles.”

“I can’t feel my legs. Why can’t I feel my legs?“

“It’s for the best.”

“Is this… Oh God no. It was you all along, wasn’t it? But why?”

“The reasons why will serve you no purpose. Not now. Focus instead on what is to come.”

“Michael please, I can’t…”

“I’m afraid you don’t have a choice Charles. You see, I’ve decided to make you my special project. The others, the cases that bolstered your career, they were gifts. I have decided you will not be like the others.”

“But, Rachel and Casey, what will they…”

“What will they do without you? Well, let’s talk about that shall we? Young Casey, abandoned by his father, how long do you think it will be before he starts to act out, to get in to trouble? And Rachel, she’ll be so heartbroken, so scared. As young and beautiful as she is, it won’t be long until another comes along to replace you.”

“Don’t do this Michael, please…”

“Focus Charles! You are responsible for everything that is about to happen. You brought this upon yourself, and on your family.

“No…”

“It’s time. Let’s begin.”

 

*******

 

This was written awhile back in response to a prompt that Sacha Black had sent out requesting “208 words on a villain”, but since I apparently don’t deal well with deadlines when it comes to writing I did not submit. It did however seem like a good post for today. I hope you enjoy it.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema

The Flood – Part 20

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The first drops of rain hit my face. I wipe at them and my hand comes away the colour of red clay. It hardly registers. I’ve been running on pure adrenaline, but I can feel the tank is almost empty.

Whatever the hell those things are, I’m positive they’re toying with us. They never get closer than about thirty feet out, and they’ve been doing circles around the boat and the barn for the last twenty minutes. They’re trying to wear us down, and it’s working.

Tess is calling to me. She’s wrapped in a blanket, propped up against her sister. Her face is gaunt, her eyes are hollow. It hurts me so bad to see her this way that I nearly forget what’s going on around us.

“Tess?”

“Dad, Grandma says it’s time. It’s time to make all the bad things go away.”

She pulls back a corner of tarp. I don’t know what it is, but the chaotic tangle of wires and repurposed machinery has John’s name written all over it. It’s beautiful. That’s the only way I can put it. It doesn’t make sense, but it feels important.

I’m distracted by a commotion in the water. They’re coming for us. I can see their dark eyes for the first time, and I sense no hesitation.

My hand is drawn to the small red button set on one corner of the machine. There’s an audible click as it hits home, and then the world is bathed in light.

 

*******

 

Wonder what’s going on? Start here -> The Flood – Prologue

 

 

The Flood – Part 19

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I’m flat on my back. There’s a trickle of warmth on my left temple, and a hint of copper on the air. The girls are screaming, but it sounds like they’re at the far end of a tunnel.

“Dad! It’s coming back!”

I feel more than hear the impact. It’s like someone hit a tree with a sledgehammer. I manage to get up on all fours in time to see the creature’s wake moving away from us.

“Oh my God, there’s another one!” I follow Zoe’s shaking hand. This one is bigger. It’s pushing hard against the current and coming right for us. I reach out for the girls, “Get in the middle. Stay down!”

The front of the boat lifts at least two feet out of the water and then slams back down. I’ve got a shoe in my face and Tess is sprawled on top of my legs. Zoe rights herself and edges toward the back of the boat. Tess picks up the journal and cradles it in one arm while brushing at the cover with her free hand. I heard the hull give that time. I scramble to get upright and cold water soaks into the knees of my pants.

I think I’ve lost track of them, until a bolt of lightning streaks across the sky and I spot them about fifty feet out. They’re moving away from each other as they come closer to the boat. Oh God, they’re flanking us. I think this is it.

 

*******

 

Wonder what’s going on? Start here -> The Flood – Prologue

 

 

The Flood – Part 18

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The sun is setting. At least I’m pretty sure it is. You have to pay attention to the subtle change in the colour of the clouds from day to night. The sun hasn’t broken through at all the last couple of days.

It’s been hours since the girls said a single word in my direction. Tess hasn’t even looked at me. I got mad at her earlier. She was crying, but I thought she was faking it. I didn’t realize that her tears had run out. We’re all dehydrated. I need to be more careful.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately. There’s not much else to do. I’ve been wondering what we could have done differently. How we could have been better prepared. I wonder about John. I come up with scenarios where he is still safe. Where most people are safe. Maybe even Janine. The problem is I’m not a very good story teller. I am pretty good at lying to myself though.

The wind picks up. It’s warm, and there’s a hint of moisture that I’m not fond of. The clouds are shifting around us, twisting and turning in on themselves. Out of nowhere there’s a flash of lighting that hits somewhere behind the barn. The sky cracks like it’s trying to split apart. We’re all frozen, waiting for what’s next. It doesn’t come from above us though. Something hits the front of the boat hard. I reach out to stop myself from falling, but my hand slips.

 

*******

 

Wonder what’s going on? Start here -> The Flood – Prologue

 

 

The Flood – Part 17

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We’re out of food. Any trees that are still above water have all turned black. Even the bloody sky is wrong.  Oh, and we’re being stalked by some unseen creature that may or may not want us as a snack. Everything sucks. Every. Single. Thing. I don’t know how much longer I can do this.

I’m trying to stay as low as possible but still keep an eye on the water. So far there’s no sign of movement. This strikes me as being both good and bad. Sure, we’re not being terrorized at the moment, but there’s nothing else out there either. No Ducks, no gulls. They’re all gone.

I huddle back down in the boat and pull a blanket up to my chin. For the first time in my life I’m truly scared about not being able to keep the girls safe. Without that, what good am I?

Tess is holding the journal close. Her eyes are half closed, she’s just staring at the floor of the boat. Zoe is running her fingers along a length of rope, back and forth. She’s shaking. I can see tears forming in the corners of her eyes.

“Dad, what are we supposed to do?”

“I… I have no idea. I really don’t.”

“We have to do something. We have to at least try…”

“I don’t know! Stop it! Please!”

Zoe turns away, her hands covering her face. Tess shifts over to sit with her sister, staring me down through wet eyes. Shit…

 

*******

 

Wonder what’s going on? Start here -> The Flood – Prologue

 

 

The Flood – Part 16

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We’re all hiding under bits of tarp trying to keep dry. The rain started about an hour ago, it’s a pain in the ass but thankfully it hasn’t amounted to much. Zoe’s leaned up against the side of the boat. I can’t see her eyes but judging by the rhythm of her breath she’s sleeping. Tess is somewhere under the ball of blankets to my right. I can hear her whispering, either to herself or to the journal, but can’t make out the words.

The sky is dark. There’s no wind and no noise except the steady patter of rain drops. I’m about to drift off myself when the boat shifts in the water, like something is rubbing up against the hull. It’s happened a few times before, usually a tree branch but once or twice something man-made. This feels different.

It happens again, harder this time. I realize I’m holding my breath. Zoe is jolted awake, “What the hell?” My hand is shaking as I touch my index finger against my lips. Zoe goes pale and shrinks back when she sees the look in my eyes. Tess is peeking out from under the fringe of her blankets but stays low.

There’s nothing else for what seems like an eternity. Both Tess and Zoe are watching me. I don’t want to look, but I have to know. I raise my head up. Off the bow there’s a distinct ripple on the water, and a dark shadow moving away from us.

 

*******

 

Wonder what’s going on? Start here -> The Flood – Prologue

 

 

The Flood – Part 15

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Tess sits bolt upright and takes a deep breath. She stretches her arms wide and then hunches forward. I almost think she’s gone back to sleep but her head tilts and she clears her throat.

“Mornin’ Dad.”

“Morning baby.”

“How was your sleep?”

“Not so good. How about you?”

“Not sure. Okay I guess.”

“Yeah.”

“Can I have some water?”

Zoe leans over, “Here, I’ve got one open already.”

“Thanks.”

Tess drains the last half and then sets the empty bottle down beside her. I focus in on the clear plastic. Not many left. I’m still struggling with the fact that something we take completely for granted most days is so necessary for our survival. A glint of something catches my attention just behind Tess.

“What do you have there?”

“What?” She looks down behind her, “Oh, that.” Tess pulls a corner of tarp back, “Grandpa made it. I’m keeping it safe for him.”

“Oh. Is it something important?”

Tess watches me from the corner of her eye, “Very.”

“I see. Well, keep up the good work.”

Tess starts playing with her shoe laces, “Dad, I’m hungry.”

I turn and rummage around in the box I’ve been keeping the food in, “Do you want a fruit cup? Last one.”

“Okay.”

Zoe shuffles forward with her elbows on her knees. “Dad, have you had anything today?”

“Uh, yeah, of course.”

“You need to eat something too.”

“I’m okay, don’t worry,” I try to smile, but can tell that it falls short.

 

*******

 

Wonder what’s going on? Start here -> The Flood – Prologue

 

The Flood – Part 14

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It’s three AM, or close enough to. The moon is nearly full, probably will be tomorrow. This is our second night in the boat. Zoe has been quiet, more so since the battery on her phone died. Tess is either buried in a blanket trying to get some rest or trying not to cry. I’m mostly just sitting here wondering what the hell we’re going to do. It’s surprising how fast you run out of things to talk about, how soon the words to comfort sound hollow in a situation like this.

It doesn’t matter what I do, I can’t get to sleep. There are weird noises all around us, and a deep red glow to the south. It’s like perpetual sunset. I doubt I want an explanation for any of this, so I focus on what’s in front of me.

Things definitely aren’t getting better. The water isn’t going down, and it’s got this weird, stale smell to it. Every now and then a dead animal floats by. Some you might expect, I think I saw a Coyote once. Its things like water birds and fish that worry me most. There haven’t been many signs of life out there. Zoe thought she heard a helicopter earlier, but it’s hard to know what is wishful thinking and what might be delusion. Even if there was help coming, how long will it take to get all the way out here? Looks like we’ll have to figure this out on our own.

 

*******

 

Wonder what’s going on? Start here -> The Flood – Prologue

 

 

The Flood – Part 13

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Our first night in the boat wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. After a breakfast of a granola bar each I did an inventory of our supplies. The food and water are going fast, I’m doing my best to ration but I don’t know how much longer they’ll last. Stashed in the crates there were a few tools, a couple lengths of rope, and some strange mechanical bits. Nothing much useful as far as I can see. I did find an old coffee tin which has helped the bathroom situation some.

A pair of ducks have been hanging out about fourty feet off the nose of the boat. It’s a nice distraction. Something normal in this whole mess. Tess is drumming her fingers on the side of the boat, “Come on, come here Duckies.”

The ducks continue to paddle around the same couple of square feet, scooping water with their beaks and quacking to themselves. I will admit that the idea of Duck for dinner has crossed my mind more than once, but knowing my luck I’d end up capsizing the boat in an attempt at capture and drown us all.

Zoe brushes a stray wisp of hair behind her ear, “Dad, can you pass me a water?”

“Me too please,” Tess says.

“Sure,” I turn to pull a couple bottles from behind me. There’s some sort of commotion in the water. I hand Zoe and Tess their bottles as a lone duck takes to the air.

 

******

 

Wonder what’s going on? Start here -> The Flood – Prologue