shortstory

Hot Garbage

I am no feminist. I needed to say that before I say this… taking out the trash is man’s work. I don’t have a garden, nor will I ever own a pottery wheel. I thoroughly detest having filthy hands. I refuse to grow out my fingernails because of the disgusting, bacterial contaminated shit that gets under them. The very thought of getting dirty launches my gut into my throat. Sure, maybe that does speak volumes about the state of my sanity. However, to those who know me, this is not news. My husband did not marry me for my willingness to touch waste. So, when I do tackle the monumental task of removing the full trash bag from the trash can inside and transporting it to the dumpster outside, I kind-of expect to be thrown a goddamned parade.

I almost never ask my husband to do anything around the house. I’ve pretty much got that covered. Plus, he has the gift of sight. He can see what needs to be done. Typically, he doesn’t need to be told anyway. He’s totally willing to help… except when it comes to the garbage and recycling. If I don’t specifically ask someone to remove the bag when it is full, my hubby and my son will cram their waste into that can until it is threatening to vomit hot garbage all over the kitchen. I hate to nag, so it gets to that point more often than I should publicly admit. I am also starting to think that the recyclables are invisible until I point out that the heap is nearing counter height. Only then does anyone but me seem to notice that repugnant grime is reaching critical mass.

This morning, the kitchen smelled like burning death. Initially I was just going to leave it until my husband got up, but I was consumed by the stench. Plus, he has a rare day off from work. I decided to grant him a reprieve and just take care of it myself. Sometimes a vacuum effect causes the bag to get stuck, making it a real challenge to hoist the trash out of the can. Not today. Today that sucker slid right out. I should have been wary but I was too busy being pleased… until I realized why. Seems there’s not much of a vacuum effect when there is a large vertical tear in the bag.  This one spanned from the very bottom corner all the way to 3/4 up the side of the bag. The minute that sack was liberated, 4 day old refuse began spewing free of its confines.

I’ll spare you the details of the moist, oozing hell that I had to touch with my now forever unclean hands. It’s not that I don’t want to gross you out. It’s just that we haven’t reached the worst of it yet, and I am already grossed out myself. For God’s sake, swampy garbage bread disintegrated in my fingers. I cried a little.

I finally managed to cage the steaming heap of trash can discharge. I transported it outside, gagging and convulsing along the way. The dumpster is almost as tall as I am, so holding the lid open while hoisting a rather heavy bag into it is awkward, to say the least. I managed to heave my swill bag up and in successfully. However, the weight of that percolating rubbish jarred the lid free from my hand the moment it hit the bottom of the dumpster.

Before I tell you what happened next, I should mention… it rained here for 4 days straight. There is water everywhere…

That lid slammed closed with what seemed to be the force of an Oldsmobile falling off of a bridge and crashing into a swamp 30 feet below. The water on top of the lid, the water under the lid, pure, vile garbage water, sprayed clear to my neighbor’s yard. You know what was standing between the dumpster and the neighbor’s yard? ME. I took the vast majority of that disease polluted wave of scum water directly to the face. Oh yes, I GOT DUMPSTER WATER IN MY MOUTH.

So, from now on, unless I’m ferried down Main Street as the Grand Marshall of the Garbage Day parade, sporting a sash & crown, sitting atop a streamer adorned float, while princess waving to my adoring masses, I am never, ever taking out the trash again.

 

Return to Short Stories

Return to Home

The Tempest’s Tower 2: New Beginning

Need to catch up first? Click here to read The Tempest’s Tower 1: Vengeance.

“Cara?”

Mother. She was too distracted to hear Susan coming. Cara quickly wiped her eyes. She hoped her mother didn’t notice. The rain softened to a drizzle.

“So, it was you. “ Susan joined her daughter at the window. “Ah, and now I see why.”

“Go away.” Cara mumbled.

“I’m going to help you. Come with me,” her mother requested before she exited Cara’s room.

Cara rolled her eyes and shook her head. Right, SHE’S going to help ME. She returned to the window in time to see Allie wrap her arms around Ryan’s neck and glare directly into Cara’s window. As the skies suddenly darkened, Cara determined it might be in everyone’s best interest if she distracted herself with her mother’s drunken delusions.

Cara’s mother was at the dinner table, already drinking directly from a bottle of cheap vodka. Apparently using the empty glass next to her was too many stops on the way from tipsy to drunk. Cara sat down across from her mother. Susan poured some of the vodka into the empty glass.

“Don’t bother classing it up for me, Mom.” Cara jabbed.

“Brat. This one is for you,” Susan retorted as she handed the glass to Cara.

“You’re drunker than I thought,” Cara refused the glass.

“Take it. Trust me. You’re going to want it.”

“I’m 12.” Cara reasoned.

“So?”

Cara took the glass from her mother’s persistent hand but did not drink from it.

“You’re going to change your mind,” Susan insisted.

“You said you were going to help me.”

“Cara, I know I am a terrible parent. This probably seems like an all-time low, even for me, but I promise you, it WILL help.”

Cara looked into the glass before she placed it to her lips. The reflection that stared back at her seemed to transform from her own likeness to that of her mother’s. She set the cup down and shook her head.

“Suit yourself,” Susan continued, “I know more about what you’re going through than you think. You are not unique, Cara. I’m cursed too.”

“What?” Cara looked at her incredulously. “By alcoholism?!”

“You’re a funny girl tonight. Your powers, where do you think you got them?”

“I thought I was cursed.” Cara replied honestly.

“Well you are, but you are not alone.” Her mother confirmed as she took another swig from her bottle.

“No. No way, I would know. This is not something you can keep secret.”

“I know what keeps the curse at bay, baby girl,” Susan slurred, “a bottle of vodka a day.”

Cara picked up the glass and reconsidered. However, the aroma of its contents brought her back to reality. “You’re a drunk,” she told her mother, “and a liar.” With that, Cara stood up from the table and turned to leave.

“You don’t have to take my word for it. You’ll see. I’m dying, Cara. The cure to my curse is killing me slowly,” She stood and took her daughter by the shoulders, forcing Cara to look her in the eyes, “but it’s worth it. I poisoned myself to keep from killing someone else, and it was worth it.”

Cara was tired of listening to her mother’s booze-fueled meltdown. She shook free of her mother’s grasp and retreated to her bedroom.

“You’ll believe me soon enough,” Susan proclaimed just before she downed the contents of the glass she had previously offered to her daughter.

The rain fell steadily throughout the night as Cara quietly wept into her pillow.

***************

It was Halloween morning when Brandon arrived in Crystal Bay. He did not know why Father Aetas had beckoned him so urgently, but the priest never sent for him if it wasn’t something of vast importance. Brandon headed toward the temple. As he hurried by, he was surprised to barely recognize the place he used to call home. The quiet little village he saved from fire many years ago was now a thriving resort town, serving primarily the country’s elite.

Father Aetas greeted him inside the sanctuary. “I’m relieved you were able to get here so soon, Waterbender. This is a pivotal moment in Cara’s life.”

“Who is Cara?” Brandon inquired.

“Cara is the reason you are here,” the priest replied, “she is powerfully gifted, my boy, dangerously so.” Father Aetas poured them each a cup of tea and explained Cara’s situation to Brandon.

“This could have dire consequences, son. That is why her mother came to me,” The priest concluded.

Brandon understood the importance of the father’s request. “I will not let you down,” he assured his old friend.

***************

Cara checked and double-checked her hat and wig in the mirror. She had to ensure that not a single strand of her hair was exposed. Glaring reminders of the night her father died haunted her still. The lightning bolt she absorbed transformed her hair from golden blond to stark white. Her once cobalt eyes were now icy violet-blue. Spidery scars sprang out from the electrical burns on her palms, all the way around the sides of both hands. Halloween provided the perfect cover to allow Cara to escape the confines of her house.

With her hair concealed, Cara donned her go-go boots, gloves, and 60s sunglasses. Satisfied that she was unrecognizable, she grabbed her bag and hurried out the door. It had been 3 weeks since the night her supposedly terminal mother tried to promote her from daughter to drinking buddy. For the first time in 2 years, Cara actually wanted to get out of the house.

It was an unseasonably pleasant night for mid-autumn.  She was more interested in people-watching than candy. Everyone was smiling and laughing, enjoying their warm Halloween. None of them realized that it was Cara’s exuberant mood that provided them all with such a perfect backdrop for a night of epic trick-or-treating. She was basking in the sights of new faces, the sounds of unfamiliar voices when she was unexpectedly jolted back to reality. She stood for a moment, stunned, after a baseball struck the side of her head and knocked her sunglasses to the ground.

“Robby, you brute!” Lissa shouted. “Hey, are you OK?” She called to Cara.

Cara panicked. A sudden gust of wind caught her wig. She quickly bent to the ground and fetched her glasses. She managed to cover her eyes before Robby came running up. Unfortunately, several pieces of snow-white hair peeked out from beneath her windblown disguise.

“I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to… whoa, Cara?” He backpedaled slowly.

Seeing their friend’s reaction, Lissa, Allie, and Ryan quickly rushed to Robby’s side. When they realized who he was talking to, they collectively gasped.

“P-pl-please don’t hurt me. It was an accident, I swear. I didn’t know it was you.” Robby sniveled.

“Oh my God! Get out of here, psycho!” Allie hissed.

“Yeah, get out of here! Leave us alone!” Lissa echoed.

Cara’s heart was pounding. The wind began to whip. “I’m not going to hurt anyone,” she choked. Even as she said the words, the skies began to darken.

“OK, everybody just needs to relax.” Ryan interjected, “Cara, is your head OK?”

Cara did not expect a gesture of concern. She loved him more than ever in that moment. She didn’t even know that was possible. She smiled meekly. “My head is fine, my glasses took most of the impact. Thank you for asking.”

“I can walk you home, make sure you get there ok,” Ryan suggested. Allie shot him a look of disgust.

Cara nodded in elated agreement. “I’d like that,” she replied.

“OK. Guys, I’ll be right back.” he assured the group.

Despite his promise to return, Allie promptly proceeded to follow the twosome down the street, flanked by Robby and Lissa. Cara and Ryan walked in silence, except for the sounds of the girls jeering behind them.

“What is she supposed to be, an alien?”

“I don’t know. She should have been a witch, an ugly wicked witch.”

“Or a serial killer.”

When it began to sprinkle, Ryan finally broke the quiet that hung between them. “Don’t listen to them. They’re just scared.”

“I don’t blame them.” Cara said as she wiped the tear from her cheek.

“Take care.” Ryan told her when they reached Cara’s front walk.

“Thank you for walking me home.” She replied genuinely.

Cara hustled into the house and watched through an open window as Ryan returned to the group. She could still make out their voices as they talked.

“What, so now you love The Tempest?” Robby teased.

“No, he does not love The Tempest, do you, Ryan?” Allie demanded.

“Settle down guys. No, I do not love The Tempest. I just wanted to get rid of her before any of you got hurt.” Ryan laughed as he hugged Allie from behind. “I was protecting you from the go-go demon,” he joked.

A wave of dejection washed over Cara. As the rain returned, the foursome bolted out of sight of The Tempest’s Tower. The winds gusted and swirled. Cara’s sorrow deepened and fear grew as she watched the trees bend and sway. She needed to calm down. Maybe booze isn’t the worst idea, she decided.

Cara dug a small bottle out of her mother’s nightstand. She held her breath, put it to her lips, tossed her head back and drank it in a single gulp. She retreated to her tower and waited for the elixir to take effect.

Soon a warm sensation filled her from the inside out. The winds began to ease. The rain became a mist.

“I’m tired of the rain.” Cara stated aloud. Another drink was in order. It actually seemed to be working. She tiptoed down the stairs to where her mother was sleeping on the couch. Cara couldn’t believe her luck. The bottle in Susan’s hand was nearly full. Cara gently attempted to pry it from her mother’s grip. While doing so, a sliver of light from a passing car crossed her mother’s face. Susan’s eyes were wide open. Cara retreated in shock. When her mother did not blink, Cara reached out hesitantly and touched Susan’s hand. It was ice cold.

Cara fell to her knees and knelt before her mother. Her blood curdling wails filled the air and rattled the windows. The heavens turned a familiar apocalyptic shade as lightning erupted in webs across the sky. Cara stroked her mother’s cheek, then brushed her hair away from her face. She lowered a hand to Susan’s eyes and closed them for the final time.

When she returned to her feet, her eyes glistened with electricity. She cried static tears. The strands of her hair thrashed like angry snakes as they crackled and popped with voltage. She shrieked again and unleashed a torrent of lightning through the palms of her hands. She turned and walked out the front door, leaving the house to burn in her wake.

***************

Brandon did not need to know the one they called “The Tempest” to know that their current weather conditions were likely her doing. He feared that death had come for Cara’s mother just as the doctors predicted it would. He hastened his pace.

Cara rounded the corner a block ahead of him and stormed down the sidewalk. He did not need to be able to see well through the torrential rains to know it was her. Electricity illuminated even her veins. He noticed almost simultaneously that flames from her house flickered over the tops of the trees. He rushed to the scene before the inferno could spread to any other homes.

The Waterbender cupped his hand and twisted his wrist subtly. It took centuries of training and practice to perfect the ability to summon powerful forces without drawing unwanted attention to oneself. His slight gesture collected the pouring rain into a cyclone in the sky. When the cyclone grew large enough to douse blaze, Brandon opened his hand. The contents of his water tornado poured down upon what was left of Cara’s home and snuffed out the flames. He quickly fled in search of Cara, before she could do any more damage.

***************

Cara zapped Ryan’s front gate off its hinges. She walked half way up the walk and stopped. She could see Ryan peeking through a curtain, watching her.

“Mom! Come quick!” She heard him call. His voice dripped with terror.

The front door opened. Ryan’s mother emerged. “Cara, honey, what is happening to you? Are you alright?” Her voice trembled as she spoke.

“No.” Cara stated simply as she raised a hand and snapped at Ryan’s mother with a rope of electricity.

The horrified woman screamed, “Call 9-1-1!”, as she quickly slammed the door shut and locked it.

The bolt whipped wildly and struck the porch swing, causing splinters of wreckage to blast through the nearby windows of the house. Cara summoned another charged whip with her other hand.

“Cara! Stop!”

Cara spun around to see who dared disturb her blaze of glory. “Who are you?” She demanded. Her voice echoed fiercely, no longer sounding human at all. “What do you want?” She bellowed.

“I want to help you.” Brandon assured as he cautiously approached her.

She laughed wickedly, “The last person to tell me that is lying dead in the burning hell that used to be my home.”

“Your mother did the best she could. Her death was not your fault, Cara.” He yelled over the din of the whipping winds.

“You seem to know a lot about me…”

“Brandon,” he finished.

“Brandon. So you should know, I have nothing left, nothing to lose.” With that she directed a gust in his direction, knocking him off his feet. “Don’t get in my way,” she warned.

Cara returned her attention to Ryan’s family home. She again started to raise a lethal hand when an irresistible force caused her to stop.

“I can’t let you do this!” Brandon persisted.

Cara was defiant. She fought against the unseen force holding down her arm. The Waterbender stood unmoved, holding his hand close to his body, palm facing the Cara. The harder she resisted, the more the paralysis consumed her. It felt like she was suffocating. “What are you doing to me?” she besought.

“I’m sorry,” he replied, “so, so sorry. It’s called blood-bending. It is a matter of last resort. You cannot resist. Please, just relax, Cara. You will be more comfortable, I promise. I suspect the police will arrive soon. We must go, now.”

The girl whimpered in agony as she continued to oppose her captor. She learned one thing was true; she could not resist. Against her will, Brandon proceeded to move one of her feet after the other. He controlled her like a puppeteer. Cara couldn’t imagine a greater sense of violation. She wished he would just kill her and end this once and for all. She could hear him behind her, uttering “I’m sorry” over and over. She would not accept his hollow apologies. She couldn’t even turn her head to look at him when she declared her undying hatred for him.

Brandon walked her directly through the doors of the church and released her before Father Aetas. Weakened from the toll the Waterbender’s invasion had taken on her, she fainted into the priest’s arms.

“Good work, Waterbender, thank you.” the priest exalted.

“Don’t thank me just yet, Father. I fear I may never gain her trust now.” Brandon responded honestly.

***************

She woke the next day to find Brandon sitting at her bedside, his hand cupped over hers.

“Cara? I wanted to be here when you woke up. Please you must understand why I did what I did. I am so deeply sorry. I wish I had handled it differently.” He admitted remorsefully.

Cara trembled as she withdrew her hand. She looked Brandon directly in the eyes. “You’re a monster,” she whispered…

***************

Want to read what else is happening in the Mayhem Universe?

The Waterbender, part 1
The Waterbender, part 2
Baan the Deathlord
The Tempest’s Tower 1: Vengeance

Keep up with all of the superhero action by using the “Category” menu on my blog’s main page to select the Mayhem Universe option.

Photography: http://fav.me/d8wzq17

Return to Short Stories

Return to Home

Live a Thousand Lives

Why live just one life? Even if it is a charmed life, why not live 1,000 charmed lives? If the one you’re living leaves you wanting more, why not find 1,000 alternatives? Reading is the gift of adventure, the gift of entertainment, the gift of imagination, the gift of surprise, the gift of life…

Join me on a journey to the Mayhem Universe! The follow up to The Tempest’s Tower: Part 1 is scheduled for release here tomorrow. Stop by and be transported to a land of superheros, villains, dragons, magic, and adventure. It’s an opportunity to escape your boring real life and live one of fantasy, even if it is just for a few minutes.

Hope to see you tomorrow!

Want to catch up on all of the Mayhem Universe posts to date?
The Waterbender, part 1
The Waterbender, part 2
The Tempest’s Tower: Part 1
Baan the Deathlord

 

Return to Home

Closure

Nick knew she wasn’t coming after 20 minutes, but still waited a full hour. What choice did he have? He endured the hassle of driving into the city. His 2 hour journey took closer to 3 hours. Some simpleton on a cell phone stepped into oncoming traffic just blocks away from his destination. Emergency personnel had to detour traffic around the entire area while they dealt with the carnage. That slight deviation from his printed directions was enough to have him driving aimlessly lost for an hour. He was thankful he had the foresight to leave the house early. Otherwise, he might have kept her waiting.

Funny how things can change in 60 minutes. She made a complete fool of him. It was Emma who had insisted that they meet in person. He was still completely content with their relationship exactly the way it was. It was thrilling to hear the laptop ring out with the sound of a new message. The online conversations that ensued could go on for hours. She had a such a beautiful way with words. She made him laugh too. Why did she have to mess with perfection?

He paid for the coffee he consumed while he pathetically waited, then exited the cafe. The dark clouds that loomed overhead let out a roar and spilled their contents. Mammoth drops of rain soaked him as he sprinted for his car. At least the accident scene was clear. He could get the hell out of there unimpeded.

Soggy and pissed, Nick made his way home. He didn’t even bother to change before he sat in front of his computer and fired off a message to Emma.

“I waited for an hour, then got stuck in the rain, Emma. You could have called.”

He waited, refreshing his screen every few seconds, becoming more despondent each time his effort proved fruitless. Dispirited, Nick logged off and dragged himself upstairs to shower and change. It was morning before he had the nerve to check his messages again. Still nothing.

“Did you drag me to the city just to break it off? What happened? Decide it was easier to just stop talking to me entirely?”

All day Nick tried, in vain, to forget about being so unceremoniously dismissed. However, he required closure. Out of desperation, he attempted one last message.

“I didn’t know you had the capacity to be so cruel, Emma. I love you, truly and deeply. I was going to tell you at the cafe. I honestly believed that you felt the same. If that has changed, please, I’m begging you, just tell me.”

He fell asleep at his keyboard that night, waiting for Emma to admit she’d made a mistake and confess that she loved him too.

During the 2 days that followed, Nick’s heartache became anger. He was convinced that she intended to end their relationship that day in the city but got cold feet and blew him off instead. By the 3rd day, when a message from Emma finally did arrive, he was too furious to acknowledge it.

Nick selected the message, held down the Shift key, and pressed Delete. He had his closure. He got to give sweet Emma a dose of her own medicine.

Nick never did learn what the contents of that unread message explained…

“Dearest Nick, You don’t know me, but I’ve just recently learned that you do know my sister. Unfortunately I have terrible news. I am sorry to tell you this way. Emma was struck by a vehicle last week and was killed in the accident. I am so sorry that you were not contacted sooner, but the police kept her phone for their investigation. According to them, she was drafting the following message to you when the accident occurred,

I am so excited to see you, touch you, hold you, kiss you. I want to look you in the eyes when I tell you how I feel. I’m almost to the cafe already, I think I’m over an hour early. I’m that eager to begin our next chapter, my darling. Hurry and get here Nick, I…’

 

Return to Short Stories

Return to Home

Push For Help

“Why do I always cut it so close?” I thought to myself. I checked the time on my phone, 12:55pm. I had 5 minutes to get to the meeting. Realistically I had 10. This case had been pretty drawn out. All parties involved were familiar with my chronic tardiness. I removed my jewelry, dropped it into a dish with my phone and placed it next to my purse on the x-ray belt. I stepped up to the metal detector and waited to be waived through. It was my lucky day. My bra’s underwire didn’t trigger buzzers nor sirens, a rare occasion indeed. I skated by, picked up my belongings, and headed to the elevators. I glanced at my phone, 12:57pm. I smiled to myself and thought, “I’m practically early.”

A number of elevators arrived at the ground floor simultaneously. My lucky streak continued. The vast majority of the crowd piled into the closest elevators to the security desk. I opted to walk to the more distant and less densely populated elevators. I glanced to the bank on the right. “Five adults, one toddler.” I counted to myself. I looked left. “Five adults, no children. Winner,” I decided. I made a sharp left and quickly hopped onto my elevator of choice, immediately claiming a corner near the doors.

“7th floor, please,” I asked of the stout gentleman nearest to the destination control panel.  As he raised a short, plump finger, the seams of his tweed jacket screamed for mercy. I decided that his jacket likely stopped fitting him sometime in the Clinton era. Even his bow tie was too tight. A roll of greasy neck fat hung over his collar like a scarf. After fighting against the restraints he called clothing, he obliged.

“Thank you,” I uttered, mostly just out of respect for the social expectation of gratitude for the completion of even the most menial task. He then looked me in the eye and bared his dingy brown teeth in a broad, dreadful smile. I politely returned the gesture with a meek half-smile, and immediately averted my eyes directly forward to the “customer assistance intercom” panel on the wall ahead of me. Out of the corner of my eye I could see that he was still leering at me, his ample head noticeably moving up and down as he gave me the once over. I pretended he was a member of the defense team that I hadn’t yet met, and he was just sizing me up before trial. I checked my phone, 12:58pm. My irritation with Professor Plump subsided immediately. I went back to being mighty proud of myself for being “on time”.

As the elevator began its ascent, an audible SNAP! started a terrifying chain reaction. Gears were grinding as the elevator lurched and stopped. While most of us simply gasped, the young pregnant girl behind me, who had up until now been mindlessly chattering away on her cell phone, began screaming.

“Jesus Christ, get a grip,” I thought to myself. The elevator had been still for just a few seconds when it attempted to resume its upward journey. Metal on metal screeched and again the lift jumped, dropped, and stopped. The Pregosaurus Rex was still shrieking. I stopped judging her. I considered joining her.

Instead I checked my phone, 1:00pm. “Damn it, c’mon!”

Then I saw it, sucking all of the hope from my soul, ‘No Service’. “Wonderful,” I thought, “commence wailing”.

“Ma’am, would you mind pressing the ‘Push for Help’ button directly in front of you?” The gentleman behind Professor Plump snapped me out of my pre-panic meltdown with his condescending request. I realized for the first time that he was wearing a badge. He was in street clothes, but still carried a holstered gun. “A detective,” I decided. I took a deep breath and complied. Immediately the “Call is being placed” button lit up like a stoplight. I exhaled a sigh of relief.

My comfort was short-lived. The voice that returned my electronic plea for help sounded like it was coming from another planet, in a distant galaxy, from another point in time, in an alternate dimension.

“W… a… … … yo… si… We a… …ing on th… … …ow.”

“What?!?” I asked no one in particular, “Did anyone understand a word of that??”

“I think I caught ‘we’ in there somewhere,” replied the officer with a smart ass smirk on his smug face.

“A regular Sherlock-fucking-Holmes,” I thought to myself.

Ignoring him, I shouted into the intercom, “What? This speaker has more static than a polyester suit in the winter. Can you hear me? We need help! We’re stuck here!”

Nothing.

As the Pregosaurus’ anxiety attack raged on, the little blond kid in the corner began to laugh. In response to the keep-it-up-I’m-going-to-end-you glare I shot him, he shrugged and said, in a very thick Russian accent, “Thees hoppeen een Rossia aoll zee time.”

I found his input to be less than helpful, so I turned away, rolling my eyes as I did so. Professor Plump on the other hand, was riveted.

“О! Какая часть России вы?” That oily bastard started a conversation with little Ivan, in Russian, of course. I shook my head in disbelief. At least the distraction made Pregosaurus stop bellowing. She seemed comforted that Ivan had survived similar ordeals in the past. I also noticed that she was no longer yapping like a chihuahua into her phone. The only logical explanation was that she too was without service in our suspended tomb. It was the first break I had caught since stepping into that death trap. I checked the time. I was absolutely stunned to learn that only 2 minutes had passed since I last looked.

I stared at the red light that indicated that my call for help had been placed. By sheer will I tried to force the green “Call answered” button to light up. It didn’t. I was still trying to conjure telekinetic power when I felt a gentle tap on my shoulder.

“Excuse me, excuse me dear,” a soft voice was interrupting my focus, “would you mind switching places with me?” she asked feebly.

I looked at her incredulously. “Can you not see that I’m trying to save us all?” I wondered, “Besides, this is my corner. I claimed this spot. Kick Professor Plump, Sherlock Holmes, Ivan, or Pregosaurus out of their spot. This one is MINE.”

“I didn’t plan to be on my feet for so long. I didn’t bring my walker,” she went on.

“Who does she think she is, Betty fucking White? YOU forgot your walker and now it’s MY problem. Fantastic.” I knew I was paving my way to hell with my silent assessment of each of the strangers with whom I was trapped and surely going to die. “Go to heaven for the climate, hell for the company,” I thought as I looked around, “Oh shit, what if the elevator actually crashed into the concrete depths of the courthouse basement and we’re all dead? What if this IS hell?”

“If I could just prop myself up in that corner there and lean on the railing…”

“Fine.” I interrupted. I wasn’t paying attention to what she was saying anyway. Besides, I couldn’t win this one. Every horrible person in that elevator was now an audience; an audience waiting for the bitch in heels to relent her sweet corner spot in our mutual coffin to the adorable little white-haired old lady with sore legs.

I attempted to secure a new place along the railing but Pregosaurus had decided to make herself at home. She was sitting in the corner, rubbing her protruding belly, with feet outstretched along the side wall nearly all the way to where Betty White was now standing.

I turned around to assess the railing situation at the back of the elevator. Ivan saw me coming and plopped down on his bony ass. He looked me right in the eye, gave me a fuck-you grin, and extended his skinny jean encased lower limbs along the back wall. He took out his phone and began snapping pictures of himself and his surroundings like he had just hiked to Machu Picchu.

Professor Plump too lowered himself to the floor. His all-too-tight clothes did not simplify his efforts. The elevator shook as he shimmied down the wall. I was sure all of the jostling would send us careening toward the underworld at any moment, if we weren’t there already. After much grunting and some inexplicable sweating, Plump’s ass finally reached the ground. I noticed that he actually made an attempt to consume as little space as possible. He hugged his knees to his chest in an effort to keep the area around the elevator doors unobstructed. It was like watching Jabba the Hutt assume the fetal position.

I was relegated to the middle of the elevator, in 4″ stilettos, with nothing to lean on, nowhere to sit, and a portly stalker now enjoying his front row view of my legs. I looked over at my last bastion of chivalrous hope.

“That was nice of you.” Sherlock had a firm grasp on the obvious.

“Thanks, I just wish I had worn more comfortable shoes today.” I angled for sympathy.

“I don’t know why you ladies even wear those instruments of torture. All you do is bitch about how much your feet hurt when you have them on. And, what if you had to run from a rapist?”

Clearly I wasn’t going to get sympathy from this asshole. “I suppose I would just kick them off and go.”

“There ya go,” he replied, “just kick ’em off.”

I looked at the floor. Spots of black putty that used to be chewing gum clung to it. A collection of paper clips, dust, leaves, and various other bits of filth were creating new ecosystems around each disgusting blemish. I realized I was happy to remain standing, with my shoes on no less.

I looked at the holster on his hip. I envisioned myself reaching out with the grace of a ninja, unfastening the strap that held the gun in place, and liberating the weapon from its restraints in one fluid motion. I was debating whether I would shoot them all, starting with Sherlock Shithead, or just make quiet sniveling hostages out of each of them when I heard it…

“Psh psh psh psh psh psh”

“What the hell was that?” I heard it again,

“Psh psh psh psh psh psh”

It was Betty White. She was making the strange shushing noises with her mouth. Her eyes were fixed on the green light in front of her.

“Green light? Hell yes! Call answered!” I celebrated in my head.

“Psh psh psh psh psh psh”

“Is she having a stroke? What is she… OH MY GOD, WHAT IS THAT SMELL!?!?”

I looked down at Professor Plump. He had one hand over his nose and mouth. He was using he other in a desperate attempt to use the railing to pull himself off the floor. He failed. He landed with a great thud and flailed about like a beetle on its back.

I wondered as I watched, “What is the weight limit on this thing anyway?” 

Sherlock Holmes buried his nose and mouth into his collar. I could tell by the tears collecting in the corners of his eyes that it was a relatively futile effort. He began coughing and clearing his throat. I think he was starting to taste it.

“Vat ees dat smeel!?!” Lacking any tact whatsoever, Ivan blurted out what we were all silently deliberating. Well, sort-of. He said something that sounded like what we were all thinking.

The Pregosaurus Rex was writhing on the floor in agony. That’s when I realized it. The noise coming from Betty White’s mouth was intended to cover any noise that may escape her ass as she set loose a foul, constant stream of tainted wind into our crypt. Pregosaurus was in the danger zone, directly behind Old Fart, face level with the gas gun. The way she gagged, choked and carried on, I was sure she was going to break her water right then and there.

Betty White, aka Old Fart, maintained complete composure. She didn’t crack a smile. She didn’t look at any of us. She didn’t move at all. She stood silent and stoic. Clearly she was the source of the stench, but I wondered for a moment if she even realized it.

“Psh psh psh psh psh psh”

“Goddamn it! She realizes it alright!”

I had reached my breaking point. That damn green light had been on for at least an hour now, or so I believed. I checked the time, 1:07pm. 10 minutes had passed since I stepped through security. 10 MINUTES!

“I’m trapped in some realm where time passes infinitely slower. This MUST be hell. I’m dead. We’re all dead. Old Fart is Satan! That’s it! This is our eternal punishment for being terrible people. No way, I can’t be as awful as the rest of these dolts. I bet the other elevator, the one with that kid on it, was the stairway to fucking heaven! I almost got on that one. This is a mistake. I don’t belong with these people. I took the wrong elevator. Maybe I should tell Betty White/Old Fart/Satan. Surely she’ll understand and let me out of here. Yeah, Satan will understand. Shit! What am I going to do?”

The elevator began shaking again. Professor Plump was trying to free himself from his tiny coat. It wasn’t going smoothly, like a mental patient trying to escape a straight jacket. That twat waffle was intent on snapping whatever cables remained intact and riding the fast track to hell.

“That’s it, I’m taking the gun. I’m putting Plump out of his misery first.”

I looked at Sherlock. He was picking his nose, PICKING HIS NOSE! I recoiled in disgust. He caught my revolted look. He removed his snot hook from his nostril and rested his contaminated hand on his holster.

“Fuck the gun, I’m not touching that thing now. I need a new plan.”

I turned toward Ivan, who had just snapped a picture of my snapper. That’s right, he was holding his cell phone near my ankle, screen up, and firing off crotch shots. I kicked the phone out of his hand with my heel. He looked at me with disdain.

I returned a look that said, “Screw Plump. You’re the first to die, Ivan.”

The Pregosaurus Rex was either practicing breathing techniques or was in active labor. I didn’t care either way. She was at least 9 1/2 months pregnant. I was sure we’d still be trapped here when that demon came out of her, whether she was in labor now or not.

“That’s what this place needs, a crying baby.

“Psh psh psh psh psh psh”

“Oh hell no, Betty White! You did NOT just shit your pants again. That’s it. I’m going to kill you all with my bare hands. Come here, Ivan. I’ll shove that phone so far down your throat that you choke on my photographed muff, you little pervert. Your turn, Plump! I’ll twist that ugly bow tie until you suffocate slowly you fat fuck. Ugh, Sherlock, stick that finger up your nose again so I can shove it through your brain! And you, Pregosaurus…”

DING!

“Wait, was that? It was! We’re moving!”

The elevator stopped smoothly this time and another DING! rang out like the sweet sound of church bells on Easter Sunday in the Vatican. I swear I heard a chorus of angels sing as the doors opened and a cherubic palm extended into our cell. Shunning my cellmates, I snatched his hand and skipped out of our cage ahead of all of them.

“So sorry about your ordeal, ma’am,” he said as he tipped his hat, “I hope it didn’t cause too much inconvenience.”

I replied over my shoulder with a sprightly tone as I scurried away, “No problem, sir! These things happen. It was no big deal at all. I’m not even that late.”

I looked at my phone, only 1:10pm. Well, at least that last part was true.

 

Return to Short Stories

Return to Home