Things that go Bump in the Night. Part 1

‘And Finished’

 

Robbie sat back triumphantly on the sand and wiped the sweat from his brow, slicking back his long blond hair in the process. Anna, his girlfriend walked over and placed a hand gently on his shoulder while adjusting her own dark, pixie cut hairdo with her other.

‘Well done honey, you stuck some sticks in the ground.’ She said sarcastically

It was true, Robbie had spent the last half an hour since the group had arrived at their campsite hammering some wooden stakes into the ground at intervals, creating a perimeter about fifteen feet around the two tents.

‘Yes, they are sticks in the ground, but once I wrap this string around them, it will create a fence that will stop us wandering off into the desert if we need to move about at night, it will likely be getting quite dark at night.’

‘Well that is what tends to happen at night. The sun goes away!’ came a voice from one of the two tents surrounded by the wooden perimeter. A few seconds later Robbie’s best friend, Kevin appeared from the tent, clutching a pair of beer bottle in one hand and a bottle opener in the other. He was tall but unlike Robbie who was well built, Kevin was scrawny. His short dark hair, like Robbie’s was slicked with sweat and his clothes were slightly too large on his light frame. As He approached Kevin managed to trip on what must have been the only rock they hadn’t cleared from their area and almost managed to fall on his face, barely managing to save himself at the last moment. When he reached his friends, he offered one bottle to Robbie before popping the top off his own and tilting his head back for a big swig. Anna coughed dramatically to gain his attention.

‘And where is mine?’ she asked sweetly

‘You had one when we arrived.’ Replied Kevin as Robbie popped his own bottle and took a swig

‘So, I can’t have one now?’

‘We’re out here for five days sweetie and there is only so much beer.’ Replied Kevin

‘To be fair…’ chimed in Robbie, ‘The cooler will only keep it cold for so long, might as well drink it all tonight or it’ll be warm by morning and warm beer is just gross’

‘Thank you, Baby,’ said Anna, quickly pulling the bottle from Kevin’s hand to little fight and taking a quick swig.

Robbie chuckled and held his hand up to Kevin who helped pull him to his feet.

‘I know you are going to side with your girlfriend Rob, but just remember we have known each other longer’ joked Kevin

‘I know man, but you need to learn to stand up for yourself, can’t just let her push you around cos she’s a woman, now help me with this string would you.’

‘I’ll get it for you’ said Anna, handing the now half-finished bottle of beer back to Kevin and walking off back to the tents.

Robbie started to walk his perimeter again but Kevin watched Anna as she went. Her long-tanned legs climbing up to underneath her white shorts which were cut to show off just enough of her backside to be enticing, her hips swaying slightly as she walked. Kevin felt his temperature rising and decided it best to move on before Robbie saw his looking.

‘So, the rope gets wrapped around the sticks?’ he said as he jogged up to where Robbie was standing staring out into the desert.

‘That’s right, and then if we need to go for a piss or the like during the night then we won’t go too far out else we’ll walk into it, plus if we need to find then tents all we need do is follow the rope around and it’ll pass by the back of them.’ Replied Robbie with a smile

‘It’s genius’

Robbie laughed

‘Thanks, wish I could say I was the one who came up with the idea.’

‘Don’t worry, I didn’t accuse you of having come up with it.’ Laughed Kevin

‘Hey, screw you too’ replied Robbie, giving Kevin a light punch to the shoulder.

The pair laughed and Kevin rubbed his shoulder, hoping that he was exaggerating it enough to hide the fact that it actually had hurt.

Night had started to fall by the time the trio had managed to get their camp fully set up with a small generator running some camping lights and their truck had been unloaded of all their recording equipment which was now placed around their perimeter at various locations to try and get them the best coverage. By the time everything had been finished and a small fire had been set to cook over many more beers had been consumed by all parties, most notably Anna who now was helping Robbie paw over the map while Kevin kept an eye on the sausages and tended the fire, occasionally glancing up at the couple when they weren’t looking.

‘Hey Kev, you’re one hundred percent sure we are in the right place, right?’ called Anna, exaggerating the E sound in his name.

‘Right place right’ chuckled Robbie, quietly repeating what she had said.

‘Shut up’ cried Anna, laughing too.

‘Don’t touch the markers, I’m one hundred, hundred percent sure we are in the right place. I’m the map guy remember!’ replied Kevin

‘Oh, sorry Mr Map Guy’ laughed Anna as she sauntered over to the fire and sat down, rather harder than she had intended, in her chair.

‘Don’t call him that, it’ll just add to his ego’ chuckled Robbie, taking his chair next to Anna rather more gracefully.

‘Well then you can call me Mr Food Guy as I serve up the first plate of hotdogs!’ called Kevin triumphantly as he managed to flip a sausage surprisingly deftly into a bun and passed it to Anna who cheered.

‘Hey Kev, feeding my girl first? Trying to make a move?’ Said Robbie, trying to keep a straight face but failing after a few seconds.

‘Wouldn’t dream of it Rob, I only gave Annie that one because I’d burnt it slightly, but don’t tell her that.’ Replied Kev, managing to get another sausage into a bun and passing it to Rob.

‘Aww Kevvie you’re breaking my heart. You’re really not trying?’ said Anna in a whining tone.

‘I…feel like there is no right way to answer that question’ replied Kevin, laughing

‘Pretty sure that’s the right way to answer it’ replied Rob and the three laughed.

Kevin tried to go three for three on sausage flipping but this time managed to miss his own bun and the sausage padded softly to the floor. His two friends booed as Kevin shrugged and got to his feet, giving the sausage a clumsy kick out of the perimeter, spraying sand up into the air, before carefully skewering a fourth sausage and carefully placing it in his bun before sitting back down with a thump.

‘Always have a spare’ he said with a chuckle.

‘Hey Kev, didn’t you say there was an old ghost story about this place? When we were riding in’

‘Yea there is, there are a bunch to be fair but only a few of them are widely told.’

‘Oh go ahead, tells us a story Kev’ Said Anna who had slipped out of her seat and was now cross legged on the sand by the fire.

‘Right Ok then. Well, you know we are in the middle of the Oregon Trail right? Well not right in the middle of course we would be more along the…’ started Kevin.

‘You can spare us the really nitty gritty details Kev, just get to the gruesome bits.’ Interrupted Robbie who had slipped down to sit beside Anna and placed an arm around her.

‘Right well, there was a group of pilgrims on their travels, maybe about ten or so and when they reach this desert, some of them start getting sick.’ Continued Kevin also slipping sown onto the sand so that his face was partially hidden behind the dancing flames.

‘So a small group of these ten, two guys and a girl in face. They decide they don’t want to get sick and they are going to split off and go back, find another group to travel with as they can’t go ahead with just three.’

‘How were they getting sick? What were their symptoms?’ asked Anna between a sip of beer. Her eyes were starting to glaze a bit as the alcohol started to take a greater toll.

‘It’s a ghost story Anna, I don’t think the clinical details of their illness is the main issue’ laughed Rob pulling her closer to him.

‘Well you don’t know do you’ she replied belligerently.

‘Don’t worry, Annie, it’s not’ chuckled Kevin

‘Spoilers’ muttered Anna as she snuggled closer to Robert.

‘The spoiler is that I’m not going to finish this story if you keep interrupting’ said Kevin with another smile and Rob covered both his and Anna’s mouths with his hands.

‘Thank you, now, where was I? Well these pilgrims, they were trying to head back, and something happened down the road and in short, one of the pilgrims was married to the woman, but he felt that the other man was, essentially, having an affair with his wife. He starts to pull their caravan of course, leading them around in circles so that they could spend more nights out in the desert so that he could have more chances to catch the two being adulterous…’

The duo of Rob and Anna are silent as they curl up together listening to the story being told, letting Kevin get into his grove as he built towards the climax of the story.

‘Finally, the man catches his wife talking with the other man and he loses his temper, attacking his friend and in his blind anger he kills the friend but in doing so his wife is knocked into the fire they had set up for the night. Screaming she runs off into the desert flailing and the man chases after her and to this day it is said that the ghosts of the three prowl the deserts, seeking each other out. The legend even says that everyone and a while a group will be traveling out here and will disappear. Their stuff will be found, but they will be gone.’

There was silence over the group for a small while as Kevin takes a bit from his hotdog. Finally, it is Anna who breaks the silence.

‘So, the guy just sees his wife talking to their friend, goes crazy and kills them both?’ she asked cautiously

‘Well it’s never made clear how they were talking. They may have actually been having an affair, maybe they were just talking about the fact that the husband had gone crazy, leading them around in circles.’ Replied Kevin.

‘And so, a woman was set on fire and decided to run off? Not stop drop and roll?’ Said rob mockingly.

‘It was the 1800’s dude I don’t think they had invented fire safety yet’

‘You’re full of shit’ laughed Anna

‘Well it is a legend, nothing says it has to be true.’ Replied Kevin

‘Well I still don’t get it, what kind of disease do you get in the desert?’ asked Rob

‘Oh shut up’ replied Kevin

The trio laughed and joked with each other for a few more hours, as more beer was drunk and they progressively got crazier. Anna flicked on the radio they had brought and the soft tones of music wafted across the desert around them as they danced under the moon and the stars. It was about one o’clock when they decided they had better turn in. Kevin used his flashlight to give all the recording equipment a final adjustment, making sure the cameras had a good view of the sky before he at last climbed into his tent. Throwing himself down onto his unfolded sleeping bag and passing out without even getting undressed.

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Motionless

Just a quick bit of sci-fi I wrote out of boredom.

Motionless. The only way to describe the wasteland of Braxis. The rolling dunes of the desert were completely without movement. From one side of the horizon to the other one could look an they would see nothing but the barren plains of grey, the desert of Braxis being not covered in sand but ash. Over the centuries since the planet’s core had burst the ash thrown up into the atmosphere had settled and compacted under the harsh winds and heavy rain storms, leaving a solid floor of darkness, leaving it motionless, or all but motionless. Slowly and tentatively something small broke the surface of the ash. A small creature, it’s fur matted and coarse carefully poked it’s head from where it had been hiding beneath the cover of ash and, after many minutes scouting the area. Broke from it’s cover, running a few feet it hid in the shadows provided by the closes dune and went to ground, flattening itself to the floor and watching. Taking it’s time the predator waited, knowing that before long it’s patience would be rewarded. Finally it’s patience was rewarded when something moved, skirting the desert quickly it darted forward before stopping. Sliding forward almost leisurely the predator moved, what it was hunting didn’t matter, only that it was soon to become food. The hunter had learnt after years of life, how to move silently but quickly across the desert and before too long it had closed on it’s prey which was still very much unaware of it’s presence. Staying low the hunter stopped, knowing that even as it closed, one wrong movement would cost it it’s meal. The ash moved minutely before it as it carefully moved again, finally it was close enough, the time to strike was now and with one surge of it’s muscles it burst forward and out of the ash, It’s huge frame exploding from the ash like a breaching whale and it’s jaws scooping up and enveloping the small rodent which hadn’t even realised it was being stalked and which managed a small, pitiful squeal before it disappeared completely into the maw of oblivion.
The Dust Devil lay on the surface of the ash,resting it’s huge frame allowing it’s scales to absorb some small amount of sunlight from the clouded sky as it chewed it’s prey a few times before swallowing. In the distance it watched a as a trio of dust clouds made their way across the desert, the Devil had seen clouds like this before, it didn’t know what caused them but it’s primitive animal intellect told it that it was best to stay away for now. Even if it moved at top speed it was no match for the vehicles on the horizon, but what else it knew was that sooner or later those vehicles would releases softer, slower targets and then maybe it could claim a more significant meals that the one it had just had. Casually the beast turned back to the ash, using it’s ram like nose to crack the surface and then pulled itself underground again. The only sign that it had ever been there being the long thin track left by it’s dorsal spines as it moved, punctuated by one larger crater before the trail continued, turning east and following after the clouds on the horizon.
Heedless of the display of nature that had just occurred the small army jeep sped on across the wasteland, it’s wheels kicking up huge plumes of ash as it did so, causing the bus that followed behind it to need to keep a good distance to it’s left in order for the driver to be able to see where they were going and the same said for the cargo truck behind that, causing the convoy to gouge a wide series of tracks out of the previously perfectly flat ash.

Phantom Limbs XIII

Luck part 13…

 

Sunday 9th September 2116

James Dylan’s audio Diary

Another morning waking up in a hospital bed, another new surgery, more new machinery added to me. I’ve made a huge mistake. I couldn’t help myself, I was on edge. And I’ve always been one that can be talked into compulsive purchases. I bought the arm upgrade. They installed it and the update at the same time, I can’t even change my mind. It’s too late. It’s built into me. What am I going to do? I needed that money. Now how can I afford to buy Mily that gift for her birthday? That play house. She wanted it so badly. I can seen her disappointed little face when I close my eyes now. It’s worse than the dreams could ever be. What have I done? And Joanna, she’ll be furious, there is no hiding what I’ve done. How can I? If there was an award for worst father of the year than it would be me. Why couldn’t Joanna have come with me? Why did she need to be so self righteous? She could have stopped me, why didn’t she take my credit ships off me? She was always going on about how she was the smarter one with money. God damn her, she always has to be so right and now she’s going to laud this over me when she did nothing to stop it happening, if she had just listened to me for once. Worst of all I can’t even go get a drink to try and calm my nerves. I can’t drink for a few days while I am taking the medication to help they systems adapt better to me. Why should I need to drink though? Why would a man ever be afraid to go back to his own home. And I bet I won’t get any sympathy from her. I’m the victim here, I’m the cripple. She’ll forget that though, forget or ignore it like my damn colleagues. Anyway better cut this short, doctor is coming.

James Dylan logged out.

Phantom Limbs XI

this wasn only originally going to be a ten part thing, guess i can’t even keep to my own guidelines.

 

Thursday 6th September 2116

James Dylan’s audio diary.

As expected Joanna flipped her lid at me again when I told her that I had signed myself up for this update but she just doesn’t get it and I was just too tired to explain it to her. I haven’t slept all night and now I am sat here, in the bar again, running up a tab that I have no idea how I am going to pay for after this update and after I buy this damned present for Mily. But I can’t lie, the alcohol at this rate is the only thing that is keeping me sane, as stupid as that sounds. Anyway the procedure is in a few days, if no0thing else I can count on Apex top be there to give me the help I need. Not like those damn, so called, colleagues of mine. I went about today and explained my situation to all of them and to a man they were all unsympathetic. They carried on asking why a man who will now be earning more than they will needs to borrow money of them? As if I hadn’t explained about how I needed the upgrade, how I need this gift for my daughter. I even brought out the big guns, I said to Phil that maybe I wouldn’t need to borrow money if I hadn’t had the lost income from a few weeks off work. Wouldn’t even need the upgrade if we hadn’t had our little accident. Then he goes off on a tangent, says that it was a ‘shitty thing to say’, apparently the truth really does hurt some people. Then the rest of the guys came along and they were there backing up HIM! One of them even says that I only got the damned promotion because of my handicap and that I should be THANKING PHIL!

Great now the barmaid is telling me to keep it down, says she’ll have me thrown me out if I keep making a racket. Apparently there is more discrimination against disabled people in this city than I thought. Guess you only see it when you’re on the other side of it. Anyway Joanna is still in a huff with me, fortunately Mily was at home again yesterday, kept the battle axe off my neck, but she is staying with a friend tonight, there is going to be a riot when I get home, maybe I am a coward for hiding here again but I just can’t take the stress right now. I need some time to myself, away from the damned job, the arsehole colleagues, the judgement, thought I apparently can’t even escape that here. Thought maybe it’s just a gender thing, there is a woman over there, bionic leg, she’s had no trouble. Keeps looking across at me like I’m something foul she stepped in. The hell does she want? As if I don’t have enough problems with nosey bitches giving me the evils.

James Dylan logged out.

Phantom Limbs X

I realised i hadn’t added the ‘James Dylan’s audio diary.’ section of the opening in since about the 5th entry in this little sage. oops.

 

Wednesday 5th September 2116

James Dylan’s audio diary.

Well I’m doing something I never thought I would do. I’m recording this from the bar in town because I can’t stand the idea of going home. Ok let’s be truthful, I’m being cowardly. I took my advance on my wages and I signed myself up for the advanced augment, the one I was talking about before that should help stop the dreams. Well I had another awful one last night. It’s always the same start, the corridor, the flashing light, Mily on that table. This time I make it to the table, I am right there, I can reach out and touch Mily, but as I do so one of those damn arms reaches down and hits my arm, smashes it clean off. The shards rain down onto Mily and she gets cut up by them. Before I can stop myself another arm hits me in the head, it shatters but I can still see as shards rain down on my daughter. I haven’t had more than an hour or two sleep in days. I just sit up all night, afraid to close my eyes. I hear you can get alterations to your body, keep you energised during the day  so that you don’t need to sleep so much. If this surgery doesn’t work I may have to start looking into that. I really can’t live like this.

Joanna was talking the other day. There is something Mily wants for her birthday. It’s like this toy house that she can sit in and play in. It has a small working TV and an oven that can actually cook theses little premade meals that come with it. An iron I think. It’s all been made safe for children somehow and I know she would love it. But it’s expensive. I mean we can afford it, especially with this new job. But her birthday is so soon, and I need this upgrade. And I can’t afford both. You see why I am hiding in the bar? Maybe I can borrow some money from a colleague, this surgery doesn’t use up all the advance. If they will stop being such jealous pricks for a moment. How can they be jealous of a guy who lost an arm?

James Dylan logged out

Phantom Limbs VIII

Monday August 20th 2116

My boss came to me today and told me that he is hiring for a new position that is opening up in the warehouse. It’s not really much of a position, not quite a foreman but still better than an average grunt. It’s essentially someone who will do half the foreman’s work for half his salary. He came to me with this because he thinks I should apply, not sure why I jumped to mind but if he thinks I should I’m not going to turn him down. Anyway why shouldn’t I be in charge of a few of the guys? I work just as hard as they do plus I have a daughter to provide for. Now I don’t want to speak too soon but I think I may have a good chance for this job, what with how sharp I’ve been after my surgery I reckon my boss would be a fool not to pick me. Better start planning my interview topics, it may be sleazy but I think I’ll ply up my injury a bit. Play the brave solider who returned to duty after taking a bullet in service kinda thing.

As for the dreams, they’re getting worse if anything, the doctor says I have a few week on an increased does of hypnocil, if they don’t go away then I can try this new drug, it’s experimental but it should allow for a more seamless blending of my own brain waves and the neural link that keeps my arm going. God I hope so. Last night I found myself in the room again. Mily is screaming and I am running towards her but now my leg doesn’t move at all, I pull and pull and suddenly it shatters, like glass, why whole leg!” I start falling forward, holding my arm out to catch myself and then I realise my arms are gone, I just have bandaged up stumps like before surgery but now on both arms. I fall towards the floor and just before my face impacts on the ground I wake up. Last night I was thrashing so hard I even woke Joanna, and what sympathy did I get? None, she blamed the arm for affecting my head. She just doesn’t understand. If she could see what I have been seeing every night.god…

James Dylan logged out.

Phantom Limbs VII

Sunday August 19th 2116

Oh hell…I just woke up, recording this at quarter past 3 in the morning. I just had the worst nightmare. So much for the hypnocil. Gonna need to go to the doctor tomorrow, I need something stronger, Or an update to the system, or something, I just can’t have that dream again. How I didn’t wake Joanna up I don’t know, I swear I was shouting in my sleep but then again she always could sleep like a rock. This dream though, I was walking down a corridor. It was dark but every so often there would be a blinding flash of white light from down the end and around a corner which would take a few seconds to fade. I keep on walking down the corridor but the closer I get to the corner the heavier my feet felt until I am literally dragging them across this cold, smooth floor. I get to the corner and I turn to see a big open room. The walls are covered in what looks like factory machinery and there are hundreds of these mechanical hands descending from the ceiling. In the centre of the room Mily is lying on an operating table, completely bound to it by huge metal clamps. She was crying.

Every now and then one of the arms would swing down with some wicked looking tool in it’s claws and it would come to rest on her skin. Then there would be the flash of white light, though Mily would suddenly be shadowed, her body twisting as her face was pulled into a silent scream of pain before the arm would move away and she would go limp again. I tried to run, I tried to do anything to get to her but for some reason all I did was stand there. Stand there and watch the torture of my daughter before me. Even when I did start moving I was slow, slower than ever. My legs seemed to be welded to the floor and every step seemed to stretch on four hours. Mily’s screaming face never seeming to be getting any closer and all I could think was that I needed to be faster. Why can’t I go faster?

Finally I woke up. There was one last flash and I was lying in bed. I need…I need to do something, get a shower…maybe. But I can’t go back to bed…not after that.

James Dylan logged out.