Friday, January 18, 2013

Hole in a Field, Chap 12

A little while ago I wrote a short story for the L. Ron Hubbard "Writers of the Future Contest".  I did not win, and I know why, my story is really more horror than Science Fiction or Fantasy.  But I decided that I will post each chapter here on my blog.  There are 37 very short chapters, for a total of 15,000 words, about a fifth of a modern novel.  Here is the start.

Chapter 12:
“Okay, who do we talk to first?”  Allison was not incredibly interested with the more investigative side of White Hat work and so she sat on her park bench with a blank commemorative plate, letting Todd do his thing.

“It varies.  In a small farming town like this, one would begin with local librarians, school authorities, elected officials, and anyone who volunteers information.”  Todd was actually an old hand at the research and information gathering aspects.

“Volunteer?” said Allison.

“Have you ever watched a movie in which a group of out of town visitors begins asking questions of a small town?”

“What do you mean?”  Allison really didn’t understand the illustration Todd was making.

“Okay, um…”  Todd tried to recall a specific instance and failed.  “Well, here’s how it usually progresses: something weird happens, investigators come in, question people, the people give a cold reception to the questioning, and then just as the out of town detectives or whatever give up...”  Todd paused for effect and then turned to Allison, making a twisted up face and making his voice sound gruff like a sea captain’s.  “Then, a local nut job shows up and tells the group some old legend, weird story, or mysterious tale.”  Todd then straightened back up and resumed in a normal voice.  “Those asking the questions follow the new lead, and then uncover something that cracks the whole investigation open.”  Todd punctuated his speech with a wave of his hand, as if signaling to an orchestra that a particular score had ended.

Allison ignored the flourish.  “And this happens often?”

“It happens so often that we have actually coined a term for it.”  Todd stood tight lipped in anticipation of the question he knew was coming, nearly bouncing with the rhythm of his puckish heart.

Allison sighed.  “What is the term for it?”

“Thought you’d never ask," Todd said.  "The term,” he paused for a bit of emphasis, “is: 'Cracking the Local Nut'.”

Allison made a face to denote her lack of interest in puns, and Todd responded by slumping slightly.  “Don’t like it?” asked Todd.

“Eh…” grunted Allison in reply.

“Look,” Todd started again.  “It has worked in the past, and unless you have something else coming in over the higher lines, it's all we got.”  He stared at her for a moment.  He moved his head down to eye level with hers. “Do you have anything coming in on the higher channels?”

Allison huffed slightly and said, “I'll try again.”  She stood, closed her eyes, and began walking in a random direction away from Todd, who proceeded to take her place on the park bench with the blank commemorative plate, and watched her stroll off into the distance then down a street and out of sight beyond a corner store.

She tried to drift off, to go to the place she goes when she needs to see elsewhere or elsewhen or elsewhy, but couldn’t.  She tried again, and failed.  She then started to concentrate on what it is exactly that kept her from focusing, and in the not too distant distance she heard a steady, repeating tapping, and laughter.

            Allison opened her eyes and walked quickly toward the source of the distraction to see a young girl playing with a jump rope and reciting a funny chant.  The girl didn’t notice her approach, or didn’t care, faced away as she was.  After stopping for a missed skip, she started again.

In the field across the way,
On this dreary, cloudy day,
The faceless man makes his way,
Down the dirt road street.

Up and up the tents all go,
Red like blood and white like snow,
And every little child knows,
Today's the day to come.

The carnival has come to town,
The rides go up, the rides go down,
The people come from all around,
And smile their happy smiles,

And in the tent just at the end,
The clown awaits with tales to spin.
And many a child goes up to him,
And the clown's face is a grin,

His teeth are white, his eyes are blue,
He hands balloons for me and you,
"Your little sister wants one too,"
He smiles but it isn’t true.

His skin is pale, his voice is high,
His fingers reach toward the sky,
He smells like death, you start to cry,
And try to walk but why…

He follows you into the wood,
Just like you kind of knew he would,
You run fast; a good kid should,
He moves faster, wolf after hood .

You run hard, you run too fast,
You try to make your breathing last,
You know your time on earth has past,
The clown’s laugh echoes aghast.

You'll never see the light again,
The opaque sky will start to spin,
You'll see the clown's last, awful grin,
And then you'll see no more, it’s the end,

The little girl stopped her chant and stood still, staring into space, then slowly slumped and sobbed.  She then began to full out cry and bawl, covering her face and dropping to the ground.  Allison, struck by the whole thing, started to walk up to the girl to offer comfort, but then the crying turned to laughter from behind her.  Allison turned to see a mime, very tall and spindly with dark eyes.  The mime was holding the string of a bright red balloon, with a wide white smile plastered across his face. She turned back and the little girl was lying curled and dirty and-.

“Well, do you have anything coming in on the higher channels?”  Todd was staring into her eyes as she sat on the bench with the blank commemorative plate, his eyes narrowing with concern.  “Ali, your head is bleeding.”

Allison reached up to see and saw the tips of her fingers were coated in blood. She checked her other hand and found the same.  She looked at Todd who was wide eyed and perplexed at the sudden invisible wound.  “I think we might have a bigger problem then we realized," said Allison.  "Though a bit cliché with its menace, if you ask me."

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