Monday, June 23, 2014

Story Time - The Peculiar Passenger

Copyright  June 23, 2014 SB-TFC
All rights reserved. This story or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

The Peculiar Passenger

Forty three years today I had been driving cab in this thriving city, young and old have slid across my back seat, most were quite engaging while some had a less than pleasant disposition. Countless lives whom in passing shared with me a tiny glimpse into their fragile souls. I spent my life living vicariously through my passengers, sharing in their successes and failures. Through them I travelled the world, through them I experienced love and loss. I had spent a lifetime living the lives of my passengers that I never gave much thought to experiencing it myself. I had no need or desire to do so until now.

It was on this rather blustery evening in late fall as the wind brought solid sheets of rain pelting across my windshield, I listened to rhythmic sound of the wipers whooshing back and forth lulling me into a melancholy mood as I came to terms with the realization that this would be my last time in the drivers seat.  I had no plan, no direction, I never prepared for this day. Maybe I was delusional thinking this day would never come. I was such a stupid old fool. I was to be retired like an old vinyl record. I had no family, no special person to spend my golden years with. I was alone. What will become of me?

I was manoeuvring through the slick wet streets when I passed the railway station. A rather meager looking man in his black rain slicker that looked a few sizes too big for his spindly stature flagged me down. The hood of the raincoat covered his head leaving his face in murk obscuring his features. It was when he slid into the back that I noticed he was holding a plain brown package no bigger than a shoe box that was wrapped tightly in clear plastic. He spoke barely above a whisper as he informed me of his destination. 

We left the throng and glare of the beating pulse of the city letting the horn blasts and random shouts fade into the night. Eventually the unforgiving pavement reluctantly retreated and gave way to the rougher uneven terrain of the countryside. A crisp freshness replaced the heavy exhaust fumes and the soft pungent scent of earth drifted along the passing streams of air currents. 

The rain had subsided and the thick black clouds parted floating off allowing the starlight and moon to cast a muted glimmer along the deserted roads. I glanced in the rear view mirror to check on my eerily silent passenger who began to lower his hood. As the moonlight shone through the glass his complexion appeared to have a waxen glow in the gloomy shadows. His eye sockets were hollowed as his translucent skin stretched across his face lending him sharp piercing features. I felt a twinge of sorrow as I got the impression that he was in extremely poor health and that there was a possibility he was nearing the end. 

My thoughts shifted to the package that sat in his lap. Maybe he was delivering a rare antique. Possibly he kept his life savings stored in that box. Perhaps it contained all his worldly positions or it could even be the remains of his lost love. He suddenly spoke sending an electric volt resonating through my body shocking me out of my reverie.

“Would you like to know what is in the box?” 

His voice was still barely above a whisper, as his words felt like a soft breath in my ear. His tone had an odd echo that vibrated through my head. I instantly glanced up in the mirror. He was still leaning back in the seat, appearing not to have moved at all. 

“Pardon me?” I stuttered, as I was still foggy from being so lost in thought that maybe I had just imagined that he had spoken to me.

“Would you like to know what is in the box?” he said again, although now there was a rough raspy tone that had etched into his speech.

“I suppose I do.” I answered so shakily that I could barely get the words out. 

“Pull over and I will show you.” he said as he indicated to a narrow pathway that cut through a corn field up ahead. 

The moon was as round as a saucer as it glowed high in the heavens above. The slightly soggy earth glistened in the moonlight from the recent rain but was solid enough so that the tires held their grip as I made my way a few feet from the road along the path. The spent stalks of corn towered along the edges of the path disappearing over a small hill and faded into the inky black horizon. I put the car in park and leaned over the back seat.

Never even hearing the faintest sound, my passenger had already removed the plastic from the box as I turned around. He held the box up with long thin fingers that were more bone than flesh. “Open it” he said as if he were offering me Christmas present.

My heart started thrumming in my chest and I felt a wet trickle of sweat run down my armpit. I stared down at the box about to lift the top with my aged spotted hand when I paused, just hovering above the lid and I looked up at my passenger. He met my gaze with an intensity of a raging fire burning in the depths of hell. Before my mind registered what my hand had actually done, I was holding the lid. I tried to scream but the sound caught in my throat only producing a gagged croak as thousands of shadows flew up out of the box and swirled around my mortal vessel and began to squeeze my essence from me. My arms flailed about banging into the steering wheel and smashing into the rear view mirror shattering it, spraying tiny shards of sharp points into my pallid skin, but I could no longer feel anything as the maelstrom of shadows frenzied rampage began to consume every inch of my being. 

I opened my eyes as the sun was beginning to peak up over the hill in the distance. The corn stalks slightly rustled as a light breeze brushed over their dried carcasses, I quickly turned around and my passenger was gone. All that remained was his black rain slicker sprawled out across the back seat. Next to me sat the plain brown box with its lid securely in place. My head hurt, but patting down myself all seemed to be in order. I got out and opened the back door and grabbed the raincoat and put it on. A perfect fit. 

I felt exhilarated as I drove back into the city and dropped my cab off at the taxi stand for the last time. I collected the box from the car and tucked it under my arm. Today I was officially retired, and today I had a new vocation to pursue. I was anxious to get started as the collector of souls. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Story Time - The Vault

Copyright  June 15, 2014 SB-TFC
All rights reserved. This story or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

The Vault

Quinn had been driving on county road 25 for almost an hour after turning off from the main highway. Nothing but dense clusters of Spruce and Pine spread out across the hills and valleys for miles. Nestled between the evergreens all the Maple and Birch trees had already shed their autumn coats leaving them looking exposed and vulnerable. Briefly the thick forest receded for a field of brambles and overgrown weeds, set back from the field a derelict farmhouse sagged to one side on its crumbling foundation looking like a forlorn sentinel banished to isolation for eternity. 

Quinn began to wonder where in the hell they were sending her as she glanced down at the Google map print out sitting next to her on the seat while considering the possibility that she might of made a wrong turn. This was her first assignment and cringed at the thought of having to call the office saying she was lost. The abandoned farmhouse faded from view as she crested a small hill and caught site of a small building tucked back from the road about 200 feet to her right. As the road flattened out she seen the wooden sign nailed to a weathered fence post at the beginning of a gravel laneway lined with tangles of sumac bushes. Slowing down, the faded red letters proclaimed she had finally made it to her destination, WHOLESALE FOOD DISTRIBUTION.  

Thin layers of sooty cloud moved across the deepening magenta sky as the last hour of sunlight began to fade. Quinn pulled her old Daytona next to a black Ford Explorer in the otherwise deserted parking area. Grabbing her backpack she got out of her car and made her way up to the building taking in her surroundings. 
The concrete structure was only about 1000 square feet and rectangular in shape. The front had a large corrugated metal shipping door and ten feet to the right, a plain grey metal man door. Hanging on the man door was a tattered orange plastic sign, in white block letters the words ‘CLOSED’. Quinn’s stomach knotted as she noted that the there were no windows on the front of the building, she hoped there would at least be one at the back. 

The door handle felt cold beneath her hand as it yielded easily when she pressed down on the lever and poked her head in. A buzzing like a thousands bees in a tin can assaulted her ears as the fluorescents flickered above, casting a peculiar greenish glow in the room. Quinn called out “Hello? Anyone here?” To the right stood a single cashier checkout and beyond that a few rows of drab metal shelving filled the rest of the small space. On the shelf closest to her a few super-sized cans of vegetables, ketchup, and mustard were scattered along one of the upper shelving units, but for the most part, at least what she could see the rest of the shelving stood empty. 

To her left about ten feet from where she stood she noticed a set of double swinging doors and made her way in that direction. Thinking to herself “What an strange set up for a food distributor” as she crossed into the stock room. The stock room was large enough to comfortably fit a small delivery truck. Towards the back to her right, three rows of heavy-duty blue metal shelving. The shelves in here were stacked to the ceiling with various canned goods that had been loaded on pallets and sealed in a thick layer of plastic. To the left was the large shipping door she had seen from the outside. She headed towards a door inset with a window directly across from her. The blinds were lowered but light filtered around its edges. Just as she lifted her hand to knock on it, the door flew inward. Jumping back, she swore under her breath, gritting her teeth.  

“Sorry to startle you. I just realized the time and thought I better check to see if you had made it, and here you are” he thrust out his massive hand. 
“The names Jake, Jake Grimmes. So glad they could send a security guard out on such short notice.”

His muscular frame took up most of the entryway. His short dark hair was slicked back giving him that sexy just got out of the shower look, while the shadow that played across his chin and up his cheeks lent to the rugged outdoors man. A slight musky scent drifted towards her tingling her senses. As soon as his green shimmering eyes fixed on hers, she was immediately lost in his gaze. A few seconds later she managed to compose herself, cleared her throat and grasping his hand she said “Um, Quinn, Quinn Sparks from Tweed Security” His hand swallowed hers as he shook it. In his firm grip her head started to throb while an icy trickle of sweat slipped down her spine, then as quickly as the sensation began it vanished when he let go. All Quinn could think of to say next was, “You can depend on Tweed Security, we are on call 24/7 even at a moments notice, Sir” As soon as the words left her mouth a flush heated her cheeks.  

A smile broadened across his face “You don’t need to be so serious and call me Jake. So how long have you been a security guard Quinn?”

The heat within her cheeks remained as Quinn self-consciously said, “To tell you the truth, I just started, and you’re my first.” 

Jake let out a loud burst of laughter and winked “Your first, well I am honoured.
You really think you are up for this challenge?”

“Challenge? I may be a rookie, but I certainly know how to handle myself.” Quinn said feeling slightly annoyed at his comment. 

“You would be surprised what kind of trouble can be stirred up way out here.” Jake said as he flipped off the light and locked his office door. He steered her towards the back of the stock room. “Let me give you a quick tour, but there really is not much to see other than a washroom that is back here behind these shelving units. The alarm company will be here first thing in the morning to fix the alarm system, the room is locked, but they already have a key for it.” As they passed he pointed to a utility room door next to the washroom. They were back in the store area heading towards the entrance door when he added “That’s it, hope you don’t get too lonely out here. Any questions?” 

“No, I think I got it, thanks” Quinn said as she held the door open. Watching him leave an internal shutter resonated through her body and her chest tightened realizing that there were no windows in whole place. The structure was just a solid mass of concrete reminding her of a vault. She had always managed to avoid places involving enclosed windowless spaces. She never considered herself as being claustrophobic; she just needed to be able to see outside that was all. Now, it looked like she was going to spend an entire night entombed in this concrete vault. “Could my luck get any worse?” she thought.

As soon as he was out of sight, Quinn stepped out into the twilight taking in a deep breath of fresh air. Grabbing her folding beach chair and portable radio from her car her thoughts turned to Jake and the unsettled feeling she had gotten when he shook her hand and the odd conversation they had. Something was off about that guy, but she couldn’t put her finger on it. She decided to grab her thicker security coat when the wind picked up making the temperature drop a few degrees. The road was completely deserted, as it had been all the way here. The only sound was a chorus of crickets starting up their nightly serenade and a protesting crow screeching as it passed overhead heading home to bunk down for the night. Locking the main door she glanced around the tomblike room when the idea of opening the shipping door came to mind. 

Pushing a big green button on the door panel, the metal door began to rattle and whine as it slowly rose up on its chain pulley system. Two feet up, she pushed a red button bringing it to an abrupt halt. A swoosh of cool evening air rushed in giving her a shiver. Next she set up her beach chair about ten feet from the opening to keep it far enough from the draft yet still be in full view to see out from a sitting position. Adjusting the aerial on her radio, static was gradually replaced with ‘We gotta get out of this place’ by the Animals. Quinn set the volume just loud enough so that it would drown out the constant hum of the fluorescents. Glancing outside the tightness in her chest loosened while she draped her thicker coat over her shoulders as she sat down. A faint yellowish glow started to pool along the threshold of the open shipping door from the outside security light, it stretched halfway across the bottom edge leaving the rest of the space in murky shadows as the rest of the day slipped away. 

Quietly singing along with the classic tune playing on the radio she reached into her backpack and pulled out a Ziplock baggie containing a ham and cheese sandwich and a can of Sprite. Taking a bite of the sandwich, she rummaged through the pack again and found a book, opting for a mystery rather than her usual horror and began to read. It was nearing midnight when her head started to bob and her eyelids fluttered like shutters opening and closing. Soon she was drifting on a cloud of semi consciousness. Walking through a delightful forest, a fresh pine scent filled the air, spent pungent leaves crunched under foot, while golden rays filtered through the bare branches of Maple trees. Stepping on a twig it made a snapping noise like cracking knuckles. When the next twig snapped under her foot the bright sunlight gave way to a murky gloom, fading the forest from view and replacing it with a cement room. A dim light began to filter through a narrow opening far off in the distance; then a soft scraping sound started gradually and kept getting louder and louder. 

Quinn’s eyes flung open “Oh crap” she muttered. 

As she tried to focus there appeared to be a raccoon just inside the shipping door. Its nose twitching, claws clicking on the cement floor as it made its way towards her. “Shoo, shoo, get out of here” waving her hands in the air, figuring that if she made enough noise it would scare the thing away. But so far it seemed to have little affect. 

 “Shoo” she said again raising her voice. Glancing down, noticing her half eaten sandwich she flung it across the room and yelled, “Here, have this, now git”
The creature sprung up on its haunches and snatched it in mid air, swallowed it in one gulp then continued towards her. Quinn’s blood started pumping quickly through her veins making her heart pound like a bass drum as she sprung to her feet thinking maybe it was rabid. Her only protection was dangling at her side, a Maglite.  Her supervisor had recommended that she buy the standard heavy-duty flashlight as part of her gear, she wondered how effective it was on rabid animals. She unclipped it from her belt hoping that by shining the light in its eyes the light might frighten it away. Thinking that right about now a nice illegal can of Pepper spray or better yet a Taser would come in handy. Flicking on the flashlight she shined it directly into the creatures eyes.

A low growl erupted from its throat, its pointy ears pressed flat along its head. Course black hair stood straight up on the beasts back, then it gradually transformed, changing into something, something she had never seen before. Glossy black eyes rimmed in red flashed with pure evil as foamy wet drool slid from the gleaming pointy shards in its gaping mouth. It grew to a height just over six feet and stood erect on its hind legs. As it advanced it started to lick at its snout excited for the main course. Quinn was transfixed with horror as it became a raging beast, she uttered in disbelief “What the f…” her eyes darted around the room looking for an escape, remembering that Jake had locked the office door. Maybe she could make it through the store and to her car. “Move it!” her mind screamed. She started to back up slowly then quickly turning on her heel she darted towards the swinging doors. With one leap the beast blocked the way. Quickly doing an about face she headed toward the back where the washroom was. The second she turned to run the beast reached out with its sharp dagger like claw and snagged the collar of her coat enabling her to keep running full tilt as the coat just fell off her shoulders. 

Throwing back its head a piercing howl erupted from the beast. Not looking back Quinn raced between the metal shelves heading towards the washroom. She was within inches of the door when the beast grabbed for her once more and this time it connected with its target grabbing her by the neck, spinning her around, and lifting her feet off the ground. Squeezing her throat, one claw pierced her flesh and a small drop of warm crimson trickled down her neck. Gasping for air, 
she could only stare into its bottomless dark orbs. As the beast sunk its razor sharp fang into her she caught a faint scent of musk emanating from it. A brief moment of recognition flashed through her mind as she slipped into unconscious bliss, Jake?

Gossamer clouds backlit in a reddish glow spread across the early ashen sky as a white van with ACE ALARM COMPANY written on the side pulled into the parking area between Quinn’s Daytona and a black Ford Explorer. A lanky young man with curly brown hair stepped out and gathered his tools. He sauntered up to the entrance of the building and tried the handle, the lever opened. When he stepped across the threshold Quinn attacked.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Poetry Interlude - Time Winds Down

~ Time Winds Down ~

Hear that clicking across the floor
Something waits outside the door

Pull the covers up, under the chin
Hear heavy breath, it really wants in

What beastly creature haunts from below
As the light fades and moon is aglow

Night after night fear it deepens
Strength to fight it slowly weakens

Prayers of forgiveness play on the lip
One day to plan that inevitable trip

Above or below
One never will know

Until one day we return to the ground

As life passes on and time winds down 

Copyright 2014-May 28 SM-TFC

Monday, June 2, 2014

Poetry Interlude - Evil Blossoms

 ~ Evil Blossoms ~ 

I be a garden nymph of bane
Victor Habbick
My sole purpose, to cause you pain

Toil you must within a garden so bright
I wreak havoc with delight

Something menacing, wicked did I
Just in spite to see you cry

While you slept I dug a hole
I ate the roots in your garden bowl

I giggled while I did the deed
Knowing how I made you bleed

I feed on souls, that is what I take
Pleasure is mine while you quake

All is lost when I appear
All that is left, undeniable fear

<Evil laugh>

Copyright 2014-May 27 SM-TFC
**bane : in the archaic meaning of > something, typically poison, that causes death.**