Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Featured Creature: The Rathbone Assignment: Part III, Derrick Comes Home

The Rathbone Assignment: 
Part III, Derrick Comes Home

Erica closed her eyes against the sorrow that gripped her.  She felt as if the ground beneath her had suddenly opened up and that instead of being buried, she had fallen into empty space.  There was no land to break her fall, no release, just an endless descent.  She pushed her hand against the back of the recliner to feel something solid.  She ran her fingers across it but it was only a thick cloth wrapped tightly over the frame of the chair and gave unpleasantly under her touch.  She retracted her hand and scooted herself closer against the wall.

Erica reached out instead with her mind for something solid to latch onto.  She thought of the locked doors and windows and the remains of the duct tape on the kitchen counter.  These held no comfort, no safety.  She thought of the trees on her drive home and the air as she drove.  This offered her a moments refuge but then she remembered the steaks and asparagus growing warm on the kitchen counter, the soda bottles in the driveway, and the bag with the test in it still sitting in the passenger seat of the minivan.  She clenched her teeth to try and contain the sob that threatened to erupt from her throat.  She held her legs against herself in the darkness and rocked herself gently until her tears subsided.  

If she could just see Derrick she would be able to push back the nothing.  Even if he were disfigured or sick or even crazy, if she could just see him and know for herself what had happened.  What the possibilities of their future together were.  She could be okay even if he were dying.  She pushed the idea away in her mind.  She focused on the officers.  She imagined them at her doorstep, ambulance in the background with Derrick being assisted by paramedics.  She imagined a weary smile on his face at the sight of her.  She rushed to him in her mind.  He was weak and alive and knew who she was.  Please let the officers get here quickly.  Let them come.  As if in response to her thoughts, the corporal's tunnel voice came over her phone once more.



"My men are ETA 7 Minutes.  They are aware of your location in the house and will be coming to the front door."

"Thank You."

This gave her a simple relief.  She only had to endure this for a short while longer.  The hole had a bottom.  She let out a heavy sigh and wiped her tears with her shirt sleeve.  She allowed herself to unlatch a little from her tightly curled position.  Her lungs followed her body and fell into an easy rhythm.

She thought she saw the headlights of a car flash and leaned her head out slightly from behind the chair, but there was no change in the living room darkness.  She listened closely for the hum of the vehicle.  Nothing.

Several houses down, the Wallace's basset hound, Max, began his nightly ritual.  He barked several times and howled briefly.  Next door, the Mackenzie's retrievers, Bear and Chewy joined in the canine revelry.  Soon the dogs on the next street followed.  She smiled at the comfort of what she normally found annoying.

Erica thought she saw headlights again and moved her head from behind the chair.  No headlights, but there was definitely light outside.  She quietly extricated herself from behind the recliner and took tentative steps toward the front windows.

She could see that things were brighter outside, but she could not locate the source of the light.  A fog had risen since she had gotten home.  It was thin and low lying.  In the dim moonlight it seemed as though it were glowing.  Balking at the thought, she took a step towards the window and squinted her eyes slightly.  She decided her eyes and the moon were playing tricks on her.  The neighborhood dogs had continued barking this entire time and she remembered then why she found it annoying.  She stood still, mesmerized by the fog.

Next door, Bear's and Chewy's barks suddenly turned into a strange yelping.  She turned her head to hear them better.  She had never heard them make that kind of sound before.  Their yelping quickly intensified and became choked howls.  Their rough howls then faded into an unpleasant growling whine.  She turned back to the windows.  Outside, the fog had grown thicker and it's faint green glow was now undeniable.  An electric tingle shot down Erica's neck as the hairs there stood up.  She backed towards the recliner.  Just then the carport light came on.

Erica quickly backed against the wall beside the recliner and faced the carport door.  From the kitchen windows, she could see the fog was in the backyard also, but much thicker. The kitchen was bathed in muted green light.  

There was a loud thud at the carport door.  Erica gasped involuntarily.  She covered her mouth and slid down the wall into a crouching position.

"Mrs. Wilson what is happening?"  She had forgotten she was holding the phone and jumped at the corporal's voice.  She spoke in a trembling whisper.

"I - there's...someone outside."

There was another thud at the carport door, followed by the sound of something being dragged against wall outside.  The sound slowly moved towards the front of the house.

"Is it Derrick?"

"I don't know.  There's this weird fog."  There was a long pause.

"I'm with you.  Just stay quiet and hidden."  She slid back behind recliner.  The dragging sound from the carport wall had gone.  She sat stock still in the silence, watching the edge of faint green just beyond the chair.  After a long while the intensity of the light suddenly changed.  The motion sensor light had turned off again.  Erica sighed with relief.

"I think they left." she whispered into her phone.

There was a loud boom as something hit the front door hard.  Erica screamed and pushed herself out from behind the recliner.  Scooting across the floor, she backed away from the front door and towards the kitchen.  In her motion, her leg caught a nearby lamp that blinked on as it fell.  The sudden illumination hurt her eyes.  She could see the door shake visibly as it was hit again.  She pushed herself off the floor and stood up.  BAM!  BAM!

"Erica!  Mrs. Wilson!"  She could hear the Corporal's voice but it was faint and far away.  She had dropped the phone behind the recliner.  She moved to get it, but recoiled as the door was hit again and again.  BAM!  BAM!  BAM!  BAM!  She heard a loud crack and saw splinters fly free from the door.  She gave one last pleading look towards the phone and ran down the hallway.

She nearly tripped as the corner of the hallway rug caught her foot.  BAM! BAM! BAM!  She righted herself and ran into the bedroom, slamming the door shut.  She twisted its lock and backed away.  She grabbed the comforter from the bed and shoved it into the space under the door as best she could.   From living room, she heard thick crunching noise as the front door gave way.

Erica whipped around.   The open closet was closest to her.  She ran into it and pulled the folding doors closed.  She slide back into the clothes.  She looked through the slats into the dark room.  She heard heavy footsteps in the hallway, getting closer.  Seven minutes, she thought.  It had been three, four?  There was a soft noise at the bedroom door followed by thump.  Erica clenched her teeth down to keep from crying out.  BAM!  BAM!  BAM!  She noticed that the edges of the comforter had begun glowing green.  She pulled her shirt up over her nose and mouth.

The lock on the bedroom door finally gave way and the door flew open.  Green fog poured into the room, opalescent and glowing.  A figure stood in the doorway.  Through its shirt she could she its lungs and others organs glowing that horrible green.  Its eyes were solid glowing saucers and behind its teeth came the same glow.  With each breath, it puffed out fog like a smoke stack.

The figure stalked into the room.  It paused at the bed then moved around to enter the bathroom.  Erica heard an unpleasant moan then a loud crack.  The transparent man came out of the bathroom, dragging a thick cloud of fog with him.  Erica could taste it now, a dense chemical flavor akin to the way bleach smells.  Her skin and eyes had begun to tingle unpleasantly.  She tried to breath shallow and pulled another shirt down to assist in covering her nose and mouth.  She swallowed hard trying to contain the itching cough that was forming in her throat.  The transparent man moved over to the closet door and smelled the air.  It was Derrick.  He stood just inches away, breathing out green fog.

"Mrs. Wilson?"  from the front the house, she could hear the officers calling to her.  The Derrick thing heard as well and turned and stalked out of the room.  As he disappeared into the hallway, she could no longer contain the cough that had been itching inside her throat.  Once she began though, she could not stop.  Her eyes watered with painful tears as she hacked.  She felt as though her throat were closing up.  Water.  She needed water.

Erica flung open the closet doors and rushed to the bathroom.  Distantly, she was aware of noises from the living room.  Gunshots?  She flung herself into the bathroom and fumbled with the faucet, scooping water up as fast as she could.  She spewed the first few swallows across the mirror.  Her breath had become ragged and wheezing.  She finally got some water down, but it did nothing to moderate the terrible itch in her mouth and throat.  She rinsed her eyes as well but nothing could make it the burning itch subside.  Behind her, the green fog had followed her into the bathroom.  It illuminated the mirror and the large network of cracks on its right side. 

She realized then that she could see herself in the mirror.  She leaned in close.  She could see her eyes and teeth clearly in the darkness.  She leaned in closer.   Beneath the surface of her skin, a faint spiderweb of veins around her eyes were glowing soft green.  From the living room, she could hear more gunshots and screams now.  She placed her hand on the broken mirror.  Erica watched as her face became a transparent skull.   Beneath her, the vast hole opened again.  She fell into it.

~ FIN ~ 

{8x5.33,  created in Adobe Photoshop}


Eddie said...

Yay! Now Erica and Derrick will be together forever, glowing and invincible! I love a happy ending : )

Seriously though, this was fun. Sorta like an extended Featured Creature. Really enjoyed the build up of tension. Something so primal and universal about forceful pounding on a door.

Also, liked your description of Part III on your Writing page, you puny bastard : )

Jesse Campbell said...

Ah, Young Love! :-D

Like most of my grand ideas, it started out simple enough and quickly ballooned into a "thing". LOL I drew the final piece of Derrick at the door first. I thought I could write something quick to get to that image, but the Erica quickly became paramount to the story's emotional punch.

I had a hard time finishing this story. I was running out of writing juice. Apparently, I can't write during the summer time. Too much sunlight I guess. :-/ Once the light started changing this month it all came back but I couldn't squeeze out a word this summer. :-(

I had just come off of Reunion also, so my writing batteries were super low. This story also inspired me to change my writing process so that I map the landscape more before I'm knee deep in it. Part II was very challenging to write in that respect. Also there was a ton of dialogue in that part.

Thanks on the door pounding. :-) I do find that personally unsettling. Especially when you don't know exactly who / what is doing the pounding. :-O

I had to work my butt off for that description! LOL With the Writing blurbs, I try to entice without giving the story away. That one in particular was VERY difficult to balance out.

Thanks for your insight and your good humors Sir! :-)

Eddie said...

I definitely agree on Erica. There's no way the suspense could've been built so effectively without her.

Man, oh man do I hear you about summer time. Anymore, I just take a ding-dang sabbatical once the heat hits.

I'm obviously no writer but I couldn't tell your batteries were getting low. I thought Part II turned out very well. I was right there with Erica in the house as she secured everything, following Mark's instructions. I was even starting to get paranoid for Erica, wondering if the instructions she was following were actually a trap of some kind.

Forgot to mention another bit of fist pounding on Derrick-thing's part. Really enjoyed the one sentence when Erica heard Derrick-thing moan and break the bathroom mirror, implying there was still enough of a remnant left of Derrick to get upset at his appearance reflected in the bathroom mirror. I'm a big fan of (and always on the lookout for) the little bit of human left in the monster :>

I apologize if I seemed a bit indelicate with my remark about the Part III blurb :-/ To me, her future becoming clear as her body became transparent seemed planned from the start, hence the puny bastard retort. I guess I've been out of my artwork long enough to forget how easily you can miss things about your own artwork when you're too close to it. I know this wasn't a huge offense but I hope there's no hard feelings.

Thanks again for the story, always a pleasure :)

Jesse Campbell said...

This is the second year in a row that my creative juices have taken a nose dive in the late spring. I still do stuff, but it is twice as hard to create. :-/

Thanks on the Part II accolades. :-) and...maybe it was a trap. :-o

Human in the Monster - There was a bit of Derrick in there, he was still coming home after all. :-) I have to admit I wasn't intentionally pursuing that theme overall but it was part of the idea behind the transformation that Derrick had gone through. However, now I may explore the human in the monster (and vice versa) more in the future. Thanks. :-)

No worries on indelicate - No offense at all! That was all mock drama on my end. Okay. Here's the funny bit - I JUST NOW got clear and transparent and puny. Okay...I'm officially thick. LMAO! Wow. I can't see the forest for all these friggin trees! Definitely too close to my work. Oi!

Thanks again, and more writing soon! :-)

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