There’s a hasty shuffling of slippered feet across the wooden floor as Albey comes back into the house, almost as if someone was watching what was going down in the driveway and decided not to scurry back to bed until Sidney hopped his way up the steps. He goes to kick his shoes off, realizes he never put them on to walk Victoria to her car, wipes his dewy feet on the doormat, and heads for the stairs. Makes it three quarters of the way up, too, before his parents simultaneously call his name.
Sidney descends quickly, as to waste as little time as possible. He made plans with two women tonight, one significantly more human than the other, and he’d rather not to keep said other one waiting any longer than he has to. Poor thing’s been sitting alone for weeks now.
“What’s up?” he asks, leaning his head into their bedroom.
Jeremy and Ashley, the covers pulled up so far that Albey can see what pajamas they’re wearing, stare at him with giddy eyes as the vaguely blue light from the television dances across their bedroom. Neither say anything; they just don’t know where to begin.
“How did–” they both start, then look at each other, then back to their son. The blankets hide their smiles.
Ashley is the one to speak. “How did your date with Victoria go?”
“It wasn’t a date, mom,” Albey says with a roll of his eyes. “It was just, uh… we just watched a movie. It went fine.”
“Well itsure sounded like it went pretty fine,” Jeremy says, then shoots a sideways glance at his wife, a cheeky kind of glance that can only be described as saying oo’oo’oo’oo. He says nothing more on the matter.
“Your father only means to say that it sounded like you guys were having a really good time…”
Sidney suddenly wishes he was never adopted.
“…you know, lots of giggling and laughing and stuff. Not a whole lot of talking, though.”
“Talking?” Jeremy Blake boasts. “Honey, I think we both know those two were a little busy for talking.”
“Welp, goodnight!” Sidney says, executing evacuation maneuver 41B-3Y with haste and precision.
“Sidney, wait!” grabs Sidney from the second step and drags him back. He sticks his head into the bedroom but doesn’t dare take a step. “We just wanted to say that we’re glad you guys had a good time. She seems like a very lovely girl.”
“Oh, uh… thank you,” Sidney says, both hands on the doorjamb. “Yeah, she’s cool.”
They stare at him smiling like they know something he doesn’t know they know. He stares back like a deer at incoming headlights.
“So uh… anything else?”
“You didn’t get her pregnant, did you?” asks Jeremy Blake whilst Ashley Blake snickers through her teeth and hand. “Anything can happen when you’re holding a girl’s hand, Sidney. We hope you were wearing a leather glove.”
Sidney just stares at them for a second. His head slowly retreats out of the bedroom.
“Wait, come back buddy. Seriously, we want to talk to you.”
Begrudgingly Sidney returns, giving his parentals the courtesy of stepping into their bedroom with both feet. They motion for him to come closer, so he takes another half a step. They both roll their eyes – Jeremy even chuffs a little bit – and they follow up with grandiose gestures of beckoning. Sidney approaches the foot of the bed and then pops a squat, as per the patting of his father’s hand.
“We’re not going to ask you what you did, don’t worry.”
“We won’t be those weird parents who are weird about their son bringing a girl home,” Ashley chimes in weirdly, trying hard to sound normal. “That’s none of our business, anyway.”
“Yeah,” Jeremy follows, “it’s none of our business that you found a female to hit the skins with–”
“Wait, was that… did you get into my music again?” Sidney asks with some concern. “You know that gangster rap is no good for little ol’ white folks like you.”
“I would hardly call Ubiquitous a maker of gangster rap.” Jeremy fold his arms then, as if his son disappointed him.
“Fair enough. Listen,” Albey says, slapping the mattress, “I think it’s a little bit past your bedtimes. I’m go’n’a–”
“You’re go’n’a relax, just…” They look to one another as a captain and first mate might whilst sailing an especially stormy sea. “This is hard for us, be patient. Your mother and I, we don’t…”
“How is this hard for you?” Albey asks plainly. “You guys gave me the talk when I was in fifth grade, and it wasn’t even horrible. Better job that the heath teacher did.”
“Well thank you,” Jeremy says with dignity. “You know, me and your mother went to Bashby High–”
Oh, Albey knows. They don’t let him forget it. Most of his teachers went there, too, and the administration, and all the cops in town, and pretty much every last other human being employed in Logger’s Pond aside from Victoria Moriarty, which plays a bigger role in Sidney’s infatuation with her than he’s aware.
“–and we got the talk from the same woman. She looked exactly the same back then as she does now, too. It’s a miracle ol’ Gretchen Smith can still talk at all, let alone drive herself.”
Although he agrees with this wholeheartedly, Sidney fails to see the reason for this conversation. His ears are beginning to ring, too, the sweet song of Mary’s serenade seems to have punched through the jar. “Yeah… so what’s up? Why’d you call me in here?”
A look of dread grabs at their faces like orderlies might a broken ‘man who’s managed to slip out of his straightjacket.
“Well…” Ashley starts, just going for it. She takes one of his hands in both of hers. “We eh… do you know why we adopted you?”
“Uhhhhh,” Albey uhhhhh s, not expecting that. “I uh… no, I guess I don’t. I always figured it had something to do with the fact that we live next to an orphanage, but uh… nope. No idea.”
Nor were his folks expecting that. Jeremy asks his son what he’s talking about.
“That big house – well, I guess it’s not a house, but uh. That big building up on the hill at the back end of the circle.”
They just kind of look at each other. Ashley gives him his hand back.
“C’m’on, you guys know what house I’m talking about. It has that driveway that snakes up the two rock walls? Like, those old folks live directly across the circle from us; it’s the house between us and them. The big scary one I would sometimes see in my nightmares when I was a kid.”
“You mean the group home?”
“I always thought it was an orphanage. Just kind’a figured that’s where you guys got me from.”
“No, honey, you didn’t come from Logger’s Pond. We outsourced you.”
That might just be the greatest thing Sidney’s heard all day.
“But anyway,” Ashley continues, “the reason why we decided to adopt you – well, not you specifically; I mean, we love you very much, obviously, and we’re glad we took you home that day… you know that, don’t you?”
“Yes, mom, I know you don’t regret bringing me into your lives,” phrased specifically that way. Jeremy thinks it’s pretty funny.
“Stop it. So, the reason we decided to adopt is because your father and I… we can’t have kids.”
“Not… not naturally, you know what I mean?”
He does, but he’s not sure what to say.
“Your mother’s trying to tell you that we’re infertile, Sidney. The both of us. Turkey baster wasn’t even an option.”
“Dad, come on,” Sidney pleads.
“The point is,” Ashley says, trying her best, “that… well, the uh… the intimate part of a relationship was never really a big deal for your father and I. We never had to worry about getting pregnant ahead of our time. Yes, we gave you the sex talk when you were younger and all that, but…”
“You’ve never brought a girl home before, Sidney,” his dad says gently. “We knew it would happen eventually. Hell, we thought you’d surprise us with a girl during one of your breaks from college, but you never did. And that’s okay!” he blatantly assures him. “That’s totally fine, y’know, you were,” he was going to say focusing on your studies, but everybody in the room knows perfectly well that would be a little off-center from the reality of the situation. “Your focus, eh, your focus was elsewhere.”
“I flunked, it’s okay dad. You can acknowledge it.”
But yet he doesn’t. “So now that you have a girlfriend–”
“She’s actually not my girlfriend, we’re just friends.”
“Oh, honey,” Ashley says, taking Sidney’s hand again (despite the fact she’s fairly certain of where that hand has been). “I know it’s not my business but you really shouldn’t go all the way with a girl you’re not serious about, it’ll just confuse her.”
‘Didn’t seem to confuse Jocelyn, bitch didn’t even like me,’ Albey thinks as he takes his hand back and holds it shoulder-height in his other, turning away from them slightly and feigning shock. “No, we didn’t… you guys really think me and Tori slept together up there?”
Jeremy and Ashley share a glance that confirms this.
“Okay… well, just so you know, I am pretty serious about her, and I think she’s pretty serious about me too. We’re just… we haven’t made anything official yet. We’re taking it slow, getting to know each other before we, uh… before we get to know each other. You catch my drift?”
“So,” Ashley says, bewildered. “So, so you’re… are you two dating? What’s…?”
“We’re, uh… I guess you could say we’re talking…?”
“Didn’t hear very much talking going on,” Jeremy says out the side of his mouth, as if Sidney wasn’t right there.
“Yeah, you mentioned that. It’s hard to explain, we… I mean, we’re practically boyfriend and girlfriend, I just haven’t asked her out yet. Does that make sense?”
It does and it doesn’t, mostly because Sidney’s folks know what Sidney’s about – the surely love him, yes, very much, but they know what he’s about – and they’ve seen what Tori looks like and based solely on that they fear she will find someone better. They don’t say that though, how could they?
That said, they don’t say anything, and their silence speaks many volumes.
“We’re just feeling things out is all. No need to rush into anything, y’know? We didn’t have sex, though, if that’s what you’re worried about.”
His parents look legitimately relieved.
“Nor are we planning to any time soon, as far as I know. I’ll keep you updated though, since you’re clearly so invested.”
“Please don’t,” Jeremy says flatly, as if so much as a single neuron in his head thought Albey might be serious.
“It was a joke, dad.”
“I know,” he says from behind a heavy iron shield.
He didn’t know.
“Just be careful, okay Sidney?” Ashley Blake chimes in, wanting this conversation to end almost as badly as Albey does.
“Always,” Albey nods as he gets to his feet. “So uh… anything else? We all good, parents?”
“We are all good, child,” says Ashley. “Goodnight, Sidney. Good sleeps and good dreams.”
“Good sleeps and good dreams, guys,” Sidney says, then leaves the bedroom and scoots up the stairs so fast the crosswind he kicks up makes the door at the top of the stairs move a little. When he’s in his bedroom with the door closed behind him, he says, “Good Christ that was awful,” to himself, but he’s smiling. It’s nice to have parents who care.
“It’ll be even nicer when I’m high,” as Albey drops himself into his wheely chair and scoots into position, taking down his weed jar and grinder and everything else waiting patiently in the rolling tray. The only thing missing is The late Peace Piece, no longer with us, resting peacefully in the clearing at the end of its path. “Well technically I’m in the clearing, and the pipe’s in the woods off to the side of the path… actually, are there any paths in the backyard?” Albey pulls a leaf from a pack of rolling papers and wraps it around his D.O.P.E. pencil, his hands guided by a memory better than Albey’s own, then tears off a RAW authentic tip and begins to fold it. “There’s kind of a trail up to The Foothill, but like… I made that, and it’s pretty much unnoticeable now. Does that count?”
Whether it counts or not, Sidney now has an empty prerolled joint sticking off the end of an unsharpened pencil. He sets it down and flicks the top off the grinder with his thumb, then unscrews the lid off the jar and inhales deeply. His foot taps the floor like a dog’s when its owner scratches it behind the ear. One singular nugg’, probably big enough to make four joints, is sacrificed to the teeth of the aluminum grinder, and Albey takes a fat whiff of the flakes before going about filling his jammer. The smell of ground cannabis just hits differently than cannabis in nugget form, all the flower buds get broken up and the terpenes and chemicals and whatever the fuck are all exposed and fresh and just, just, “Aaahhhhhhhhh.”
Sidney fills the preroll in no time at all, and he was wrong. The nugg’ wasn’t enough to roll four joints, only five; there’s a bunch extra. He’ll just dump it back into the jar and add to the pool of shake sitting at the bottom anyway… or mayhap he shall smoke a li’l’ extra tonight. Mayhap indeed; tolerance to cannabis is a funny thing, more mental than physical as far as Albey is concerned. He’s had sessions where, after smoking constantly for three days straight, he’d take one hit and be unable to take another, although that might have to do more with the tetrahydrocannabinol lockups in his fat cells reactivating when exposed to fresh tetrahydrocannabinol… is that how that works?
“Who gives a shit?” as Sidney twists off the end of the joint and pops the crutch between his teeth. “This ain’t my religion anymore, this is just a reward. I don’t need to know how it works, I just need to work it.”
According to the watch that’s not on wrist, it’s time to do just that. Albey closes the jar, closes the grinder, scoots back, and walks right out of his room without so much as turning the light off. He comes back in a second later – because he forgot his lighter, not because of the lights – and grabs his white lighter off the shelf holding his Dark Tower books, and then leaves again. Sidney comes back in a third time to turn the lights off, and he throws an arbitrary glance to his bed and notices, for the first time, the white zip-up hoodie laying in a heap next to his own black hoodie.
“Oh shit,” Albey says, letting the joint fall – he catches it in his left hand without thinking about doing it – as he walks over to his bed and picks up the garment. “Tori must have forgotten this… unless she wanted me to have it. Does it work that way?” Sidney then smells the sweatshirt as if it was a full jar of weed – it smells clean, nice, with a slight hint of… peaches? Perhaps – closing his eyes and everything. Then, as he’s wondering what possessed him to do that, he takes out his phone, scrolls the contacts, and calls Victoria. She answers on the first ring.
“What, you miss me already?”
“Nah, haven’t thought about you once, actually. Forgot you were here,” he says with a grin. “Just like you forgot your sweatshirt.”
“Ohhhhh shit, no wonder I’ve been shivering this whole time.”
“Smooth. You aren’t home yet, are you?”
“Sort’a not really,” is followed by the sound of a cell phone being shoved into the crevice between a ‘man’s shoulder and ear. “I’m’a turn around though.”
“Oh no, it’s cool,” as Albey hits the light and starts down the stairs, the sweatshirt slung over his shoulder. “I’ll just bring it to the library on Monday. I was go’n’a go anyway so I could start writing.”
“You’re ready to start your book?” she asks in rising pitch.
“Yeah, I finished writing the summary today.” His parents turned the TV off, so he begins to whisper. “I could probably do an outline or something, but I feel like it’d be better to just start, y’know?”
“Why didn’t you tell me that when I was over? And why are you whispering?”
After silently closing the porch door behind him, he says, “I was going out to the porch, folks are sleeping. And I don’t know, I guess I was a little preoccupied.”
Tori rolls her eyes; somehow Sidney knows this to be true. “Fair. You don’t need to wait for me on the porch though, just put it in your mailbox or something. I don’t want to keep you up.”
“Oh, no, you’re not. I’m go’n’a smoke a joint.”
“Nah, I earned it. Summary’s ten pages long.”
Smiles on both ends of the wireless phone line.
“You’re more than welcome to join me, y’know. If we both have ashtray mouth it’s hardly noticeable.”
“Hard pass, Sidney Blake. Driving on the phone is bad enough, I don’t need to be high, too.”
“Then what are you driving all the way back here for?” The weed is beginning to go green–… well, greener with envy. “What, you miss me already?”
“You’re too annoying to miss,” she says flatly. “Plus, I left with the hoodie zipped up so my parents didn’t see the tank top.”
Ah yes, the tank top. And what a tank top it is.
“Your parents don’t like you wearing a tank top to a boy’s house?”
“Please, they didn’t know I was going to a boy’s house. Oh shit, hold on.”
A thud hits Albey’s ears. He takes this as an opportunity to light his joint, and what a joint it is. The smoke tokes smoothly, Albey can hardly even feel it in his throat; ah, the wonders of not smoking all the time.
About nineteen seconds later, “Still there?”
“Yeah,” he says, then exhales silently. “What happened?”
“A cop flew by me, didn’t want to get a ticket. See why I don’t want to drive high?”
“I see why you think it’s a bad idea, but it’s not like driving drunk. If anything you’d probably be more careful, if not a little easier on the gas pedal.”
“Fag,” she accuses. “I see more police lights coming up behind me, I’m’a hang up. See you in a few minutes.”
“Kay babe,” as he takes a fat hit.
“Babe?” Victoria asks incredulously, as if he called her a stupid fucking cunt.
“Sorry, I meant to say ‘kay babygirl sweetheart honeypie.” Albey exhales, letting that soak in. “Better?”
She hangs up before he can hear her smiling.
“Whatever,” he says, shrugging as he locks his phone. “Shouldn’t have called me a fag.”
Over the course of the next four minutes and twentyish seconds Sidney smokes his joint into roachitude. The night is silently chilly, an early winter day quite common in a late New England September, so long as you count Jersey as part of New England. Sidney certainly does. ‘The locals are miserable eno–’
A branch breaks in the distance, jerking Albey out of his head and sitting him straight up. A hauntingly quiet rustling – almost totally imperceptible until it isn’t – approaches his house from back behind the treeline. Sidney, slack jawed, stares at his roach, now down to its last two pairs of legs.
“Am I hearing things?” The rustling continues, imaginary or not, and it’s not moving any farther away. “Maybe I shouldn’t be smoking this shit.”
Sidney stands, roach in his mouth, and smokes the last few hits without using his hands as he opens the screen door and steps down on the little staircase. No deer go running from the compost pile this time, but the rustling moves forever towards him. After taking one last hit, which tastes more papery than the tip-hitty hit which kicked this little powwow off, Albey flicks the roach into the grass and cups his hands around his mouth, issuing a WHOOP into the darkness.
The rusting stops dead. Chills bombard his entire body.
“Well that’s a little fucking odd…”
Sidney steps down into the grass and walks halfway across his backyard. He looks around for a stick or a rock, something to throw, but comes up empty. The rustling started again, sounds like it’s about to come bursting through the treeline, but Sidney’s trying to ignore it. Trying and failing.
“Hello?” he calls out, and again the dead leaves cease to crunch. “Is someone… who’s out there? Come on, this isn’t fucking funny.”
Nobody answers, but of course they don’t. Bigfoots can’t talk, they communicate by making noises. Grunts, chuffs, hisses, knocks made by hitting wood against more wood, and most of all, WHOOPs. Sidney tries again to communicate with the obvious Sasquatch of the Boreal Forest lurking in his backyard, then ducks as a sizable branch comes swirling towards him like a helicopter propeller who lost its body but kept on slicing. It hits the steps and breaks into two uneven pieces.
“Fuck this shit,” Albey says as he beats feet towards the porch.
The rustling of leaves picks back up, then it stops, but not because the thing’s stopped moving. It’s still coming for him, he can hear its feet hammering the wet ground, hear its breathing getting louder and louder, and so Albey takes the bigger piece of the branch and hurls it blindly behind him as he throws himself into the porch, slamming the screen door and spastically trying to get it locked even though his hands are shaking beyond his control. He gets it locked and takes a breath, then is thrown to the floor when something bashes the door from the other side.
“FUCK!” Albey shouts, scrambling up to his feet. He glides through the porch as the thing pounds on the wooden part of the screen door, snatching Tori’s sweatshirt on the way. Once back inside the house where it’s nice and safe, Sidney closes the fully wooden porch door and locks that bitch tight, then leans back against it and slides down to the floor. His face is covered in slick sweat, the hairs on the back of his neck stand at attention. “What the fuck was that thing?”
Whatever it is – not was but is, because it sure as shit hasn’t gone away – keeps pounding on the screen door. Sidney isn’t sure why it doesn’t just punch through the screen and unlock the damn thing, clearly it would be capable, that branch was fucking flying, but at the same time he’s very glad. It is outside and Sidney is inside and Sidney is safe, so he stands, slings Tori’s sweatshirt over his shoulder, and makes his way back to his room. The parents meet him at the stairs.
“What’s going on, what’s that banging?” Ashley Blake asks from Jeremy’s arms. Jeremy doesn’t say a thing; his eyes are squinted, as to better hear the banging.
“I don’t know, some kind of animal I think,” Sidney tells them. “I was smoking and I tho–”
“You’re smoking again?” Ashley cuts in.
“Nope, just one little joint. I hit a milestone with the novel so I was rewarding myself.”
“Fair,” Jeremy decrees, then goes back to listening.
“But uh, I thought I was hearing things, so I went outside and the thing chased me back in.”
“Was it a bear?”
“I don’t know,” Sidney says, unsure of whether or not he should tell them about the stick. “I doubt it, though. Thing whipped a stick at me.”
Ashley and Jeremy share a heavy gaze of worry as the banging suddenly stops. Sidney turns around and stares in the direction of the porch, as if to confirm this.
“Well that’s… odd,” Jeremy says. “Sounds like it’s gone now.”
Still they stand there for a couple moments, just in case it starts up again. It doesn’t. The elder Blakes return to their bedroom, Albey to his. Not three seconds after turning his lights on, his phone starts buzzing. It’s Tor– ‘Oh fuck, Victoria!’
“Hi…?” she says, perplexed. “What’s the damage, dude?”
“Where are you?” as Sidney runs into the bathroom to check the window, the window conveniently overlooking the entire front of the house. He can’t see shit, as it’s dark and Tori seems to have killed her headlights when she got here.
“I’m walking around back, you said you we–” is cut off by the last thing Sidney wanted to hear. The scream finds his ears even after he hangs up the phone.
Sidney, grabbing a pencil off his desk which will hopefully break off in the thing’s eyeball when he stabs it, leaps down the stairs and tears through his house, throwing the porch door open hard enough for it to bounce off the wall and close itself behind him. He runs into the screen door, steps back, unlocks it, then jumps down to the grass without using the steps. Victoria’s not screaming anymore, which is either good or really fucking bad, and he runs around the side of the house before skidding to a stop and throwing himself backwards into the wall at the end of the corner. He peers around like a secret agent and sees… what the everlasting fuck is…
There seems to be a ‘man, or at least the shape of one, terrorizing Tori’s car. She’s sitting in the car, presumably with the door locked, which is good, but… what the fuck… but the ‘man-thing, it’s…
“Is that thing humping her fucking car?” he asks under his breath, and thank god it didn’t hear him. He sees Victoria struggling not to look at it, so he leans out and waves his hands to get her attention. She spots him, and the look of horror on her face makes his stomach drop into his feet, his bare feet, now soaked like the cuffs of his gray sweatpants. He sees a little blue light illuminate her face – her cell phone, it must be – and he slaps his pockets but his phone is inside. He doesn’t have his phone, how does he not have his phone, how is he… oh, she understands. The What the fuck? on her face says she understands, so he holds a finger up to communicate his desire for her to hold tight and disappears back behind the house.
Victoria, who’s closed her eyes so she doesn’t see the disgustingly pale skin of the freaky guy furiously slamming its bare crotch into her driver’s side door – a door which she will be powerwashing until the fucking paint peels off – decides to crawl into the back seat to get away from this, uh… whatever the fuck is going on right now. It’s not easy to do with her car rocking like it is but she manages, then she scoots back against the rear passenger door and hugs her knees to her chest, still with her eyes closed, and starts taking deep breaths. Tank top be damned, she should have let Albey bring her sweatshirt to the library on Monday, her parents are probably asleep by now, and they wouldn’t say shit anyway. She’s old enough to drink so she’s old enough to go out… but they would know. They would know a boy was involved and they would ask her about it – not right away, not even when she starts coming home with hickeys on her neck, but in about a month from now and probably in the presence of her wheelchair-bound grandmother who has nothing better to do than stalk young men on Facebook in an attempt to guess who Tori might be seei–
“HEY!” but muffled as to be heard as hey comes from behind her. She looks over her shoulder and sees Sidney standing on the front steps of his house, waving his arms like an asshole. The car stops rocking, which only scares Tori more. “HEY! Cut that shit out!!”
The guy, this pallid humper’o’th’car, climbs over Tori’s hood–
‘don’t look don’t look don’t look oh god I looked oh god it’s huge’
–and sprints like a neanderthal, arms and legs lunging, towards Sidney’s front steps. She watches him mouth the words oh shit before backing slowly into his house, and when the freak is about to summit the last step Sidney slams the front door in its face, making it stagger backwards. That doesn’t stop it, of course, oh no. That only seems to motivate it, as it grips the door by the jamb and begins striking it with its crotch like it was a car door. Oddly enough, Tori finds it difficult to look away. What in the hell makes a guy–
Her phone vibrates, a text message.
r u ok
She’s not sure how to reply to that. As it turns out she doesn’t have to; the incoming call screen pops up and Victoria answers before the phone has a chance to vibrate again.
“Are you all right? Stay in the car. Did it hurt you? I’m coming out. What happened?” stammered so fast he may as well have said it as a single sentence.
“What the fuck is happening right now?” is her only response.
“I don’t know, I’m walking out on the porch right now. Listen, I’m go’n’a hang up.”
Victoria finally looks away from the humper’o’th’door. “Don’t you fucking dare.”
“No, listen, I need to be quiet. I’m going to sneak around the house and climb into the car with you, I have your sweatshirt.”
“Is my sweatshirt really the most important thing right now?”
“Just unlock the back door on the driver’s side,” Sidney says, then hangs up. She does as she’s told, but she’s not happy about it.
Not twenty seconds later Albey comes running out from behind his house, making zero attempt to be even a little stealthy about it, and ducks down beneath the windows. Tori doesn’t move, she can’t bear to turn around because if she turns around she’s going to see the gross white freak coming down the steps and it’s going to get Albey and it’s going to hump Albey and if that nasty skeleton with skin gets to hump Albey before she does she’s going to run them both over with her car and never speak of this night again and the door opens and Albey climbs in, locks it, and gasps for air as if he’d been holding his breath ever since he hung up on her.
They look at each other, both gaping, neither saying a word. He holds out her sweatshirt. She takes it and wraps it around her like a blanket, zipping it over her legs even though doing so will probably stretch it out and ruin it forever. The heavy breathing continues as the humper’o’th’door continues to hump Albey’s front door.
Finally, Tori squeaks, “Thank you.”
Still trying to catch his breath, “For what?” It’s almost back in his possession.
“Oh.” Deep breath. “Welcome.”
They both look towards Sidney’s house then. The white streak of a ‘man is still going at it, showing no signs of stopping, no signs of even slowing up.
“What is that thing?” Sidney asks with disgust.
“I think it’s a man.”
“Like a man or a ‘man?”
She doesn’t say anything.
“I mean, like, a man or a human?”
“Uhhh, fucking both? Or maybe neither, I don’t… I saw its dick so I’m just guessing it’s a dude.”
Sidney looks at her like she just told him her grandmother died a slow death to cancer. Little does he know, that would be a blessing THERE, I THOUGHT IT, PUT THE OLD BAT OUT OF HER FUCKING MISERY no, relax Tori, this isn’t the time.’
“It’s just a dick dude, it’s fine.”
“Was it big?”
“Sorry,” he says, and it’s okay. She was curious, too. “It didn’t… did it, er, he, uh… did he… get you?”
“I don’t think I’d be able to sit down if he did,” answering his first question. In regards to the second, “He charged at me though. When I screamed he, like, stuttered a little bit, like I scared him. So I punched him in the throat and ran back over here and locked myself in. Then he uh… then–”
“I know what happened then,” he mercifully finishes for her. He starts twirling his pencil back and forth between his fingers.
“Is that a pencil?”
He stops, looks at it, starts again. “Yeah.”
“Why do you–”
“I was going to stab the guy,” he says, looking her dead in the eye. Then, Sidney adds, “If I needed to. Y’know, to defend myself. Or you. Or both of us,” to maybe not come off as a psychopath.
That’s weirdly hot, but she doesn’t let him know. “So what, uh… do you want to come home with me? My parents will be all sorts of awful about it but, like…” She looks over her shoulder and shudders. “I don’t want you to go back out there.”
“I do,” he admits casually, “but my parents are still in there. I can’t leave them.”
“Why not? They’re locked inside, right?”
“Because they didn’t leave me at the orphanage, Tori. It wouldn’t be right.”
“Not the point.”
He’s right, but still. Lots of information tonight, lots to process.
“So what are we going to do, then? Just lay back here until he goes away?” she says, not meaning to say the word lay.
Ah fuck it, she totally did. Something is clearly in the air tonight. Something twisted – very twisted – but it’s definitely there.
“I don’t know,” he says, failing to notice. Then he crawls over and kisses her, so, then again…
They sit in the dark for a few minutes as a queer naked ‘man(?) bashes its flaccid penis into the front door of the Blake household.
“That has to hurt, the way he’s going at it.”
“Can’t feel good,” Albey concurs. “Makes you wonder what a dude has to go through to get to this point.”
There they sit, locked in a car, watching a broken ‘man do all it can do to fix its damage. Then, it hits them both at once like a pair of testicles into a hard slab of stained wood.
“Give me your phone.”
She gives him her phone. Sidney calls the Logger’s Pond police station.
“Hello, emergency services. What’s your emergency?”
“Hi, my name is Sidney Blake, I live at the end of Sawblade Lane. There’s a, uh…” He looks up from Tori’s face at the humper’o’th’door. “Okay, this is going to sound really weird, but there’s a guy– a uh, a naked guy, and he’s… he’s uh…”
“He’s raping the front door!” Victoria shouts abruptly. She chooses this moment to unzip her sweatshirt and straighten her legs. Her feet press into Albey’s chest but he pretends not to notice.
There’s silence from the operator. Then, “Did… what did they just say?”
“I know, I don’t–… he came out of the woods and chased me into my house and started pounding on the back door, I… at least I thought he was pounding it, but, uh… but then my girlfriend came by to pick up a sweatshirt she left here and the guy chased her, but she got away and managed to lock herself inside her car. Then I came back out and distracted him and now I’m in the car with her and he’s uh…” Albey looks at the pale fiend just to make sure he hasn’t been hallucinating this entire time and, unfortunately, he hasn’t. “Yeah, he’s pretty much raping the front door of my house. We don’t know what to do, we’re very frightened.”
“Is he armed?”
“Not that I’m aware of.” Which is true; it’s packing something, but it’s not armed. Jesus Christ, only in Logger’s fucking Pond. “He’s just, uh… he’s just working on the door. Been there for a few minutes now, doesn’t seem to be slowing down.”
“Are you armed?”
“I have a pencil, if that counts.”
“Well, they do say the pen is mightier than the sword,” says the operator, apparently deciding this is an appropriate time to make a joke. Not even a funny joke. “All right, sit tight. There are actually a few cars down on Sawblade now. What’d you say your address was?”
“I didn’t, uh, I don’t know the house number.”
Sidney isn’t sure who’s more silent, the operator or the woman with her feet on his chest.
“You don’t know your own house number…?”
“I just got home from college, it’s been a while.”
“It’s September, school just started.”
“I’m not an observant ‘man, sir,” Sidney scolds him. “It’s the house on the left side of the circle at the bottom of the road, we’re sitting in the car. The lights above the front door are on, they’ll be able to see the guy.”
In fact, they might never unsee the guy. Sidney and Tori sure as hell won’t.
“All right, Sidney. A pair of cars should be there in about twenty-five minutes. Is the driveway clear?”
“Twenty-five minutes?” Albey accuses, his tone sour. “Didn’t you say there were cars on Sawblade Lane already?”
“Yes, but they’re not answering their radios. They are likely tied up with the incident they were sent to investigate. Is th–”
“What? What the fuck are they doing that they aren’t answering their radios? Isn’t that, like, worrisome?”
“Not particularly. Sawblade Lane is mountain, Sidney, as I’m sure you know yourself. Signals get scrambled out there.”
“My phone is working fine, I get great signal.”
“Well I’m very glad to hear that, but our radio system was built before you were born so it’s very much not the same thing.” This cop is copping an attitude and Sidney isn’t a fan. “Now, is the driveway clear?”
“No, it’s full. Why, is that a problem?” he says, giving it right back.
“Do you think this… this guy is potentially dangerous?”
He looks at Victoria. She took her feet off him at some point, but not her eyes. “I don’ow. He took a punch to the throat and kept going though, and he’s been, uh, working the door this whole time. Doesn’t seem to be slowing down at all.”
“All right, then I’m going to ask you to clear the driveway.”
Sidney’s not sure what to say.
“Mister Blake? Are you still there?”
“You’re kidding, right? I’m not going back out there.”
“They want you to go out there?!” Tori rages.
“Sir, you said you live on the left side of the circle, correct?”
“Your driveway is long, from what I see here on Google Maps. The officers will have to park on the street and run across the front yard, which would give the perpetrator plenty of time to escape. We do not want him escaping.”
“Yeah, you’re telling me,” he tells him.
“If one officer pulls into the driveway and one parks on the street they can come at him from two angles and corner him. It’s the best bet.”
“What would stop the guy from running away from my house the other way?”
“Like I just said,” the operator says impatiently, “it’s the best bet. Doesn’t mean it’s a sure thing.”
The car is spinning. Sidney’s pretty sure it’s not the high doing it. “All right, I… I’ll do what I can.”
“Thank you, Mister Blake. Your police department thanks you. I have other calls coming in, so I’m going to have to hang up now. Stay safe, they’ll be there soon.”
“All ri–” and the call clicks away. Albey locks his phone and just kind of looks at Tori.
“What? What’d they say?”
“They uh, they want me to clear the driveway so they can come at the guy from two angles and corner him.”
“What?” she sneers. “He could just run the other way.”
“I know, that’s what I said. Dude said it’s the best bet.”
She just shakes her head. “Is this even fucking happening right now?”
“Just be glad you don’t live here,” he tells her, then looks up at the humper’o’th’door. It’s still humping that door, if anything going even harder now. “This town is a fucking tar pit.”
She shuffles in her seat.
“Oh god, my parents.”
Sidney texts his parents. His dad answers immediately, saying they locked themselves in their bathroom and are hiding in the tub. He tells them not to come out whatever they do and asks where the keys to their cars are. He tells them they’re both in the little dishes on the nightstands on either side of their bed, where they always are.
“Parents’ keys are inside.”
They sit there as one of society’s many rejects proves its worth to the world, whether that world is paying attention or not.
“Sooooo…” Victoria says, her hands folded in her lap, her thumbs a’twiddle. “I’m your girlfriend now?”
“Uhhhhhh,” Albey stammers. Shit, he did say that, didn’t he? No going back now. “I uhh… do you wan’a be my girlfriend, Tori?”
“After tonight? Fuck no,” she says, giving it to him straight. Then she takes his hands in hers. “But if I don’t do it, I doubt anyone else will.”
Sidney’s not sure what to say to that.
“Yes, Sidney Blake. I’ll be your girlfriend.”
Sidney smiles. At least there’s that.
“Sweet. Listen, you need to get out of here.”
“You’re kidding, right?”
“Not at all,” he says seriously. “I need to move my car, at least. The police guy said so.”
“The police guy’s a fucking numbskull,” she says tactfully.
“True as that may be, he’s not totally wrong. If they both park on the street he’ll probably see the lights in the window of the door and take off. Then he might come back when they’re gone.”
“But if you get out he’s go’n’a hear the car door and he’s go’n’a rape you in the ass.”
“You don’t mince words, do you?”
“I’ll mince you if you get killed on the night you ask me to be your girlfriend, dumbass.”
“Fair,” he allows, “but he won’t catch me. I’ll stab him if he tries.” He shows her the pencil, as if to illustrate his point. “If a punch to the throat makes him stutter then a little puncture wound should shut him right up.”
Victoria obviously doesn’t like this idea.
“I know you don’t like it, but uh… too bad. Drive safe, okay? I’ll call you when it’s all over.”
He turns to unlock the door then. She tells him to wait when he gets a grip on the handle, spinning him back around.
“I need to tell you something.”
“What?” he says again.
“C’m’ere, I’ll whisper it in your ear.”
So he crawls to her, and she wraps her hands around the back of his neck and pushes him down and falls on top of him and shoves her tongue into his mouth and, ignoring the acrid taste of ashtray, tells him all he needs to be told. The man has no power to stop it, so he guesses he just has to let it happen. She finishes her message off with a normal kiss on the lips, then one on the cheek, then another one on the lips. They look at each other for a moment, their faces only inches apart.
“Don’t fuck up,” she warns him, then kisses him deeply, and is he squeezing her butt? Yes, she believes he is, so would it be wrong to grind against him a little? She doesn’t think so, and neither does he, considering how h–
“Okay,” she says, parting their lips for the last time… maybe. “Not the time.”
“No, definitely not,” he says, but he doesn’t let go. And they do kiss again, and if that monstrosity wasn’t humping the door, well… well they probably wouldn’t be in the back seat of her car and the windows probably wouldn’t be threatening to steam up, so yeah, not the time.
“Call me when it’s over, Sidney,” she tells him as he slinks out of the car, keeping low to the ground.
“I will. Goodnight… babe.”
He latches the car door, then pushes it closed. Tori climbs into the front seat and watches Sidney sneak up to his sedan and climb in, opening and closing the door without making a sound. They start their cars within seconds of one another, and as Tori backs out of the driveway, she watches with horror as the stark-naked white freak leaps down the steps and charges towards her car. Sidney honks his horn twice, drawing its attention, and before she can even process the movement the guy is assaulting Sidney’s sedan with the hairless hog it rode out of the woods before she came back to get her stupid sweatshirt.
Was it worth it? Maybe. If she still has a boyfriend in the morning then maybe, but that’s then and this is now and now she’s watching Sidney flail his arms as if trying to tell her to GO ALREADY so she backs into the street and peels out, heading up Sawblade Lane which is creepy enough in the dark without the humper’o’th’things running around like it is. To her dismay she’s not passed by a single police car on Sawblade nor on Mane Road, and when she gets onto County Road 115 she tries calling Sidney to see if he died yet but he doesn’t answer, of course he doesn’t answer, he used her damn cell phone to call the police which means he didn’t have his on him and god damnit her boyfriend’s getting raped by a man with three hands and she just left him there. But is she going to go back?
Is she going to come back?
“She better not come back,” Albey says as his car rocks like the cradle this guy clearly never got to sleep in.
He was able to back up about twoish feet before his car’s trauma began and he’s almost afraid to back up more, he doesn’t want to hurt the guy… then again, why the fuck not? This creep is a Logger’s Pond special, it’s only going to understand one language, a tongue spoken without words, one which can be read by blind eyes. Sidney throws his car into reverse and steps on the gas, rolling back so fast he skids to a stop in the street. The humper’o’th’car, basked in the dim glow of Sidney’s uncleaned headlights, seems to be either doing some kind of abstract dance or having a seizure, so Sidney takes this as a chance to pull out of the circle and park on the side of the road. Pencil in hand, the tip miraculously still unbroken, he kills the engine and goes to open the door.
And that’s when the creep comes back for round two.
Sidney recoils into the passenger seat and kicks at his driver’s side window as if it were open, his bare feet clapping the glass. The humper’o’th’car keeps on humping the car, the slapping thuds of its dick hitting the door and probably leaving a dent is enough to spike madness into the mind of the Poet.
“No, calm down,” he tells himself, but that doesn’t stop his heart from beating in his temples, doesn’t stop him from grinding his teeth, doesn’t make him stop kicking the window with all his might.
Finally Sidney reaches back and opens the passenger door, spills out into the woodsy shoulder on the right side of the road, and climbs to his feet. He doesn’t know if the deranged humper’o’th’door realizes it happened and he doesn’t want to know – Sidney takes off running, biting his tongue hard enough to draw blood in an attempt to block out the pain of bringing his heels straight down on pebbles, sticks, and all the other debris present on roads paved back in the woods. He hits his driveway and doesn’t slow down, doesn’t let himself stop, he can stop when he’s on the porch smoking that second joint because he’s fucking earned it after all this. The soft glow of the lights by the front door wash over him shortly after he crosses over to the lawn. There’s a panting behind him, a hissing, a starved growling like a bigfoot in pursuit of a forest bride and who’s to say that’s not what’s happening? Nobody knows what bigfoot looks like, not really, they could be just as hairless as human beings, and Albey, with his longish brown hair and slim enough figure and the scent of his girlfriend’s peachy sweatshirt still mingling with the earthy undertones of the weed, Albey just might present as feminine enough to fool a bigfoot into thinking he’s forest bride material.
But hopefully it won’t come to that.
The front steps are almost within leaping distance now, he can see the grout lines between the slabs, he can see… there’s blood on the steps, bloody footprints, wha–
“GAAAHHHH!” Albey screams as tiny shards of glass – piecemeal pieces of The Peace Piece, if you will – implant themselves into his bare feet, reaching depths the road debris could only dream of. The humper’o’th’doors must have stepped on them when it was coming through the woods, it didn’t even scream, it just took the pain like a proper fuckhead. Where in god’s name did this thing come from??
Tears in his eyes Albey hits the landing and places a hand on the doorknob, turns it, and for a split second, pauses. The ‘man – if it is a ‘man – was right behind him on the lawn, so it’s still right behind him now. If Sidney opens this door then this demented creature of nightmares too frightful to be remembered will get into his house, it will probably kill him, and then it’ll find his parents, and that cannot be allowed to happen.
Albey lets go of the doorknob.
Closes his eyes.
Fills his lungs.
Pushes off the door with a war cry, launching himself backwards directly into the chest of the humper’o’th’car. They clear the steps and land hard on the front lawn, the dew oiling up the already sweating naked creep. It begins to squirm, starts to get out from under Albey, its hands start grabbing and pulling at his hair, his clothes, his flesh. Sidney can’t hold the guy down, it’s going to get up, he needs to pin it down somehow.
Without thinking, Sidney spins himself around and, screaming like a bigfoot as it brings a stone down on the head of juvenile who’s grown a little too big for its feet, Albey buries the sharpened tip of the pencil into the humper’o’th’car’s right bicep, staking it to the front yard.
It shrieks. It does not shout, does not scream, but shrieks; it wails like a tormented banshee and writhes around as if the spirits of devils have entered its body so they may carry out their evil deeds. It kicks at the air, shakes its head so hard Albey hears its neck crack, punches its arms, convulses and flails and dislodges the pencil from the dirt. Albey stands, the shards of glass in his feet clawing their way deeper and deeper, and backs up as the horrible naked foe flops like a fish who escaped the water. He wants to go back inside, the cars in his driveway be damned, but he’s transfixed by this tortured thing, this lost soul never to be found. It begins to punch and claw at the pencil, jacking it around, ripping the hole in its arm wider and wider, singing its awful song all the while, until finally it brings its hand down on the now dull tip. This pushes the eraser end of the pencil nearly all the way out of its arm, and Sidney – at the top of the steps now – is almost happy for it. Then, the thing pulls its hand away and pulls the pencil with it.
The humper’o’th’doors, after being impaled clear through the arm, successfully stabbed itself in the hand.
“Fuck this shit,” Sidney breathes, refusing to watch any longer. He turns to open the door and steps inside, turning around just in time to see the creature, crimson blood standing out against bone white skin like the stripes on a sick candy cane, lurching up the steps on all fours like a rabid beast, like a bloodthirsty dog, like deaf white wolf of the Halla. There is no lust left in the eyes of the humper’o’th’doors, not anymore. There’s nothing there now, just the bloodshot whites, a sliver of iris, and empty pupils black as the night sky, bottomless as the stroke of a pen.
Sidney, screaming, grips the door with both hands and slams it directly into the thing’s skull. He hears a crack – at least he thinks he hears a crack – and the wailing of the tormented creature comes to an unsettling silence.
Breathing. Heavy breathing.
Glass. Glass in my feet.
Albey falls backwards, lands hard on his ass. Bruises his tailbone. Doesn’t notice it.
Tears, hot and salty.
Hits the back of his head on the floor. Not hard.
A door. Footsteps. Coming, more coming, danger, he has to get up.
Has to fight.
Has to kill.
Has to kill them all.
Hands on him, holding him down.
That fades away too.
Hello Commons, this has been the second subchapter of the fourth chapter of Untitled Bigfoot Project, a novel about a writer who writes a novel about bigfoot.
Untitled Bigfoot Project is part of the Third Spiral, an anthology of sorts called The Here and Now which is comprised of stories told from the various planes of Existence.
Untitled Bigfoot Project is available to read for free in its entirety on my website. Click here to check it out.
I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.
If you like Untitled Bigfoot Project and would like to help support my work, click here and buy an autographed copy of the book (or anything else!) from my store. Alternatively, you can snag a cheaper (and unsigned) copy from Amazon by clicking here OR you can buy the ebook for even cheaper here.
If you’re there, hypothetical reader, thank you for being there. Be well Commons~