White light. Even with his eyes closed he can see it.
Can’t open my eyes.
Bright. Too bright.
Sleep. Want to sleep.
Want to dream.
Dream of a tunnel, dark walls all around.
But the light.
The end of the tunnel.
There’s a stirring around him, he can feel it. Many bodies moving about. Voices, some frenzied, others calm. A cold wind blows. Chills ripple up his arms.
Sidney opens his eyes to a bright white light shining directly into his eyes. He scowls at it and tries to block it with his hands, but they won’t move. They seem to be strapped down.
“What’s going on?” Sidney asks in a voice raspy like gravel. No answer.
Slowly Sidney opens his eyes to a squint. The light burns but he can look at it, look beside it. He seems to be in a tiny white room with metal shelves on the walls holding tools and equipment of some sort.
“Hello?” Louder this time, as though he wants to be heard.
An answer. A woman’s voice, older but not elderly. His mother.
“Oh Sidney, thank god!”
His father, Jord–… no. Jeremy. Jeremy and Ashley Blake.
“Mom? Dad?” Sidney asks, still unable to open his eyes. He tugs at his hands again but they’re strapped tight as though he was flailing around, as though he was acting in a manner which designates him as a danger to himself and others. Is he a danger?
What even happened?
“Sidney, can you open your eyes? Do you know where you are?”
Something happened. His feet hurt, and so does his lower back. Right at the top of his ass.
“No, the light’s too bright. I am… where am I?” Never has Sidney Blake felt groggier than he does right now.
“What’s today’s date?” Ashley’s voice, panicking. “Oh god, what if he has a concussion? What if he forgets who he is?”
“I don’t know,” Albey begins. “I’m fine, I’m not… Saturday. Today is Saturday.” Or at least it was, before he went into the light at the end of the tunnel. Before he died.
Is he dead?
“What year is it, son?”
“It’s, uh… twenty’twenty, right?”
A sigh of relief confirms this. Albey smiles.
“Don’t ask me who the president is, I don’t care enough to know.”
“Nurse!” Ashley calls out. “Nurse, he’s okay, I think he’s stable.” The sound of approaching–
‘rustling crunching leaves’
–footsteps, shoes slapping against pavement. “Can I let him up? How do I–”
“Watch out, I got him.”
Another woman’s voice. Tori…? No, she went home. Unless she came back.
“Is that… is Tori here?”
The straps loosen, allowing Sidney to move his hands. The one across his shoulders is undone next, then his legs. Still Sidney doesn’t move.
“No, she went home a while ago Sidney. Before, uhm… before he showed up.”
He. Who is he?
Sidney props himself up onto his elbows. Everything still looks bright but he can open his eyes now, and when he does, chaos unfolds around him. He’s in an ambulance, that much is clear; there’s also another ambulance parked at the end of his driveway, and between here and there are about two dozen human beings. A couple EMTs, a couple old folks in bathrobes (and nothing else, good lord), a couple brawny men dressed in white. Mostly cops. His parents are standing next to him, Jeremy rubbing his arm, Ashley apologizing to the EMT lady for calling her a nurse. Red and blue lights flashing everywhere.
“What uh… what happened?”
“A lot happened, son. Are you all right?”
“Yeah, I’m… oh my god.”
First in a trickle, then in a torrent it all comes back to him. The movies, the joint, the thing in the woods. Tori. The glass on the steps. The pencil.
“How bad are my feet?”
“Not too horrible, all things considered,” says the EMT lady, who accepted Ashley’s fourth apology in the same way she accepted the first three. “You’re going to be walking on pillows for a couple days, but we got all of the glass out. Just a few pieces.” She folds her arms. “You’re lucky they didn’t break.”
“I think I’m lucky for a lot of things,” Albey says with a sheepish grin. “Is uh… is–”
“He’s, eh… fine. Fine enough.” Her arms do not unfold. “You did a number on him with that pencil, though.”
“Yeah, well… he was going to do a number on me if I didn’t.”
The nurse doesn’t say anything, but she knows he’s right.
“I’m not going to get in trouble, am I?”
“Depends if the facility decides to press charges,” says a round-bellied cop who comes strolling up the driveway, “which I very much doubt. I’m Officer O’Kerd.” He offers Albey a hand, and Albey shakes it. “Folks said you hit your head. Not too fuzzy up there, are ya?”
“Yeah, no I’m… I’m all right. Did I hit my head?”
“You fell over backwards when you came inside,” Jeremy tells his son. “You were screamin’, too. We found you on the floor, your feet all bloody. Couldn’t have been too hurt, the way you were carrying on, but we figured better safe than sorry.”
“How well do you remember tonight’s, eh. Events? ” The cop asks, pulling out a notepad. “I’ll take a statement, if you’re able.”
“Sure.” Albey then recounts everything he can remember, opting to leave out very specific parts involving his girlfriend. The officer jots down a few things, by and large leaving out the majority of his story. “It was in self-defense, the uh. The stabbing. I didn’t–”
The cop puts a hand up to shush him, pocketing his notepad with the other. “Trust me son, I’m well aware. Old Jack has a habit of going out for recess when he’s supposed to be in class, if you catch my drift.”
“He’s the, um…” Ashley chimes in. “He’s the… naked man. The one who was banging on the doors. And the cars, apparently.”
“Group home patient, very unstable upstairs,” the cop continues as if Ashley didn’t say a word. “Slippery, too. Don’t react very well to medication, and by that I mean most sedatives don’t have any effect on him. They used to keep him at the place up the road but he got to the point where he was slipping out every other day, so they moved him down here. Extra security, they said.” O’Kerd shakes his head. “Should just put the poor fuck down, in my opinion. Save everybody a lot of misery, him included.”
This is a lot. “Wait, the place up the road? What are you talking about?”
“The group home, there are two on this street. One up there,” the cop points to the building Albey once thought he came from, “and one about halfway to Mane. Dirt driveway across from a little shoulder. Facilities for the crim–… well, for the insane. Technically they aren’t criminals, although Old Jack gets closer and closer every time he gets out. Lucky you didn’t have a gun, could have put a bullet in him.” The way the cop says this doesn’t exactly make him sound regretful, but Albey lets it go. “Now son, I’m go’n’a ask you something, and I want you to answer me honestly.”
“Sure, what is it?”
“Were you, by chance, smoking the marijuana tonight? Before Old Jack came, eh… came knockin’ on your porch?”
“Oh, you smell that?” Jeremy says before Sidney gets a chance to lie about it. “Yeah, that was mine, sorry sir. I’m a janitor at the school in town and they had me working all day, getting the gym ready for a dance. Had me putting up decorations and everything, the whole nine yarns. I was frazzled. Needed to take a load off. You’re not go’n’a arrest me, are you?”
“What about you, son?” he says. Not once did the officer look at the face of Jeremy Blake.
“Nope. Like I told you, I had my girlfriend over for a movie night. She doesn’t like weed, so, y’know. Women.”
The cop chortles in spite of himself. “A’ight.” He looks at Jeremy then, sizes him up. “Yes, I smelled it. And I appreciate your honesty. You don’t have to worry about walking away in cuffs tonight, sir. Considering everything else that happened, seems like that would be a bit inappropriate.”
Jeremy feigns relief, even lets off a li’l’ phew. “Thank you, Officer O’Kerd.”
“Don’t mention it… and I mean that.” He turns to go, then turns back. “Just eh… try to keep it in the house, a’ight? That shit stinks to high hell, I don’t want to be getting any calls from your neighbors.”
“Understood, sir. Thank you.” When O’Kerd’s gone Jeremy elbows Albey in the side. “Thought you said she wasn’t your girlfriend?”
“Thought you said it wasn’t any of your business?” Albey nudges right back, sans elbow.
“Don’t lie to us, Sidney,” Ashley says tiredly. “Your father almost took a drug charge for you, come on.”
“I know, I know, sorry. But I wasn’t lying, we uh… we’re together. Now. She left her sweatshirt here and we got stuck in the car for a little while, so we talked.”
“That all you did?” Jeremy says skeptically.
“Yes, dad, that’s all we did.” This time, hah. “What happened to the other guy though? Uh… Old Jack. Is he…?”
“He’s in the other ambulance, I think,” Ashley says. “I wouldn’t worry about him though, honey. You got him good with that pencil, I think he’ll be out of commission for a while.”
“I hope so,” Albey says, but inside he doesn’t. He feels bad for the poor guy, probably didn’t even know what was happening. Probably doesn’t even realize he’s a human being, either. Dude’s just scared and lost in a world of harsh folks who find him difficult to handle. He’s a problem, probably been that way all his life. Of course he breaks out and humps whatever he can, what else would the broken bastard do? Get high? Come on. “Hey, can we uh… can we, like, go inside? I want this shit to be done with already, I need a smoke.”
“You’re seriously going to smoke again? ” Ashley says with a hint of judgment. She’s probably just mad he didn’t ask her to join in. “Is that really a good idea?”
“Well I sure think so,” Albey says innocently. He raises his hands before him. “Look at me, I’m trembling. I need to mellow out or else I’ll be awake all night.”
“Kid’s got a point,” Jeremy says, putting a hand on his shoulder. “He went through a lot, let him have this one.”
“It’s just… you seem to be screaming a lot lately, Sidney. I’m afraid the weed is making you… I’m afraid it’s making you a little crazy. I just don’t want you to end up like Old Jack, okay?” She takes one of his hands. “Promise me you’re not going to go crazy.”
“Well, if I was going crazy, I probably wouldn’t really be aware of it… would I?” He follows this with a toothy smile that goes entirely unappreciated by his adoptive mother. Dad gets a kick and a half out of it, though. “I’m kidding, I’m not going to become like Old Jack. I promise.”
“You better.” Ashley gives him his hand back in exchange for his arm. “Okay, you get his other arm Jeremy.”
The Blakes lift their boy onto his feet and let him touch his toes to the ground as they walk him inside. Nobody comes to stop them, fortunately, and within the hour the bottom of Sawblade Lane is dark and quiet once more, dimly lit by the light of the moon. Albey accepts the fact that he’ll be staying off his feet for a couple days and so, after his parents are snugly back in their bed, he crawls across his room, climbs into his wheely chair, and prepares another joint for himself. Crawling down the stairs proves to be a trial, but one he overcomes easily enough; holding the crutch of his happystick between his teeth with the grace of a mother alligator ferrying its young, Albey crawls on his hands and knees out into the porch, climbs up on the wicker chair with the revolting pillow, and puts the joint in his pocket so he can make a phone call with a relatively sober headspace. It rings a few times, then the ‘man on the other end picks up.
“Albey?? Oh my god are you alive? What happened?”
“Hey,” he says, smiling to himself. “Yeah, I’m alive.”
“Thank god,” Victoria gushes. “Tell me what happened after I left! I saw the freak humping your car, did you stab him?”
Sidney titters. “As a matter of fact, I did. Right through the arm. Then he stabbed himself, too.”
“Oh my god.”
“Yeah. I cracked him in the skull with my front door too,” he says with the tone of a braggart. “He’s all right, though. They call him Old Jack, he’s a crazy guy who lives in one of the… well, he gets shuffled between the two group homes on my street.”
“There are fucking group homes on your street? What the fuck?”
“I know, I just found out tonight. Crazy right?”
“You are not an observant man, Sidney Blake.”
“Perhaps not…” he says studiously. “But I’m your ‘man… right? I’m pretty sure I hit my head, so I might have imagined that part.”
“Yes, you are my man,” Tori says as though it’s a chore. They’re silent for a moment, both smiling to themselves. Small, content little smiles. Just as content as can be. “What are you doing now?”
“I’m out on the porch. Can’t walk, got some glass in my feet. They got it all out though.”
“Eegh. How did you get out on the porch?”
“Why did you crawl out to the porch, Sidney? Just go to bed.”
“I can’t sleep, baby, too jacked up from fighting off the monster. I’m’a smoke a joint then go to bed.”
“Uggghhhh,” she ugh s. “Whatever, ashtray. I’m go’n’a get you to stop that shit one day.”
“Oh yeah?” as he fishes the joint out of his pocket and pops it in his mouth. “That a threat or a promise?”
“Neither,” she says softly. “Just… information.”
“Information,” he repeats, looking for the white lighter without using his eyes.
“Information,” she replies.
There’s a silence again, but it’s not uncomfortable. It’s just… nice. They let it carry on for a few seconds; no more, no less.
“A’ight, listen,” he starts, “I don’t wan’a keep you up.”
“I’ve literally been sitting here waiting for you to call me,” she says flatly, somewhat annoyed.
“And now you can stop waiting. Goodnight, babe.”
“Goodnight, faggot,” she says, ending with an exaggerated kissing noise.
Albey pockets his phone and flicks his Nic, watching the flame flicker in the darkness.
“Maybe she will get me to stop,” he says as he lights the joint. The tip-hitty smoke is papery and gross, really awful, but the second hit tastes better. It tastes like victory, like darkness overcome. “Or maybe I already stopped. Maybe this is just a little reward… like I fuckin’ said all along.”
After chuckling to himself, Sidney Blake smokes the joint to the peaceful silence of the night, and what a night it was.
What a night it was.
Hello Commons, this has been the last 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.
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If you’re there, hypothetical reader, thank you for being there. Be well Commons~