Sunday, June 17, 2007


I thought I had it all pretty much covered. You see, the idea was to fortify the house in such a way that I wouldn’t even have contact. Seems funny now, watching the house I spent so many hours renovating burn to ground from the roof of my garage.

I never got to work on the garage. The garage was supposed to be fixed up this year. I had big plans. Of course that tends to be me in a nutshell: big plans, a lot of stalling, and poor execution. Poor execution. Maybe not such a great choice of words considering. I’m trapped here on the roof, my neighbor’s corpse sluggishly bleeding in the middle of my suburban driveway, watching a blaze roar through my house and all I hear is Flanders voice in my head, “We’re in a dilly of pickle.” Good to know I haven’t lost my sense of morbid humor at least.

My neighbor was a nice guy; I guess was being the operative word here. I could never remember his damn name, but we’d wave genially at one another as we went about our lives. I was thrilled when he moved in and started sprucing up his yard. Until his corpse became what I suspected was at least a semi permanent fixture in the driveway, he really prettied things up around here. Until he attacked that is.

The thing is, I really thought I did a good job on the house. I put those cheap little motion alarms on all the windows and double boarded them as well. I had plywood screwed into the studs running first horizontally across all the windows, then a separate small sheet backing that up running vertically. Its really amazing how quickly you can get things done when it doesn’t matter what it looks like. If anything tried to get in a window, the alarms would sound once the glass broke, then whatever, or whoever it was would have to get through two sheets of ¾ inch plywood. Even if it wouldn’t keep everything out forever, at the very least it would slow them down. I put old school four by four braces up across the front door that no one uses, and where I thought I was really clever was by the side door. This was the door everyone really used to get in and it was the most vulnerable, being at ground level. I built a braced frame at forty five degrees to the inside of the door so that anything that broke through would be automatically forced down into the basement. Granted this is where Pretzel, our tenant lived, but he wasn’t home and I figured it was time for all of us to make sacrifices. To get upstairs I built a door into the artificial wall that was padlocked and that could be braced shut by more four by fours. It wasn’t pretty, not even close, but it was built strong. By the end of the building I was getting pretty tired. I had hauled up all of our camping stuff into the upstairs and was headed back from the garage with a handful of tools when I saw him standing in my hallway.

Like a dumbass, a tired and worried dumbass, but a dumbass nonetheless, I had left the door open while I made my trips out to the garage. I don’t know when he got in, but there he was, big as day, black as night, and covered with what I assumed was his own blood. Vaguely, I could hear my phone ringing over the sound of my heart beating. Both sounds seemed incredibly loud. Without hesitating a second, he started to come at me. In the movies, they moan, but I didn’t hear anything but the sound of my own panicked breathing. I backed up into my kitchen as he closed the gap, not fast, but steady, and cut off my escape down the stairs. I looked at the other door and realized that it would take me too long to get past my own defenses. Even as I looked around, he kept coming, ever closing that distance. I dropped the tools in my hands and kept backing up. He was in the exact worst spot now, blocking the living room and the stairs leading down and out of the house. I searched around for a weapon, but as you might imagine didn’t have anything more deadly than a chef’s knife in my kitchen. I had stowed all of my camping gear in the dining room and I quickly made for that, remembering the small, dull old hatched I always keep in our stuff. Throwing aside sleeping bags and a tent, I got to the big Tupperware bin with all of our camping gear I threw aside propane tanks, coleman fuel, garbage bags, waterproof matches, and other useless shit. Just as my hands closed on the hatchet, I felt incredibly strong hands dig into my shoulders pull me off balance back into the kitchen.

In what seemed like an instant, he was on me, snapping his jaws like an angry dog, inches from my face. He was so strong, that really surprised me, and he didn’t stop pressing for even a second. I know for sure that if this had been a fair fight he would have killed me. In another moment, I would have felt his cold (he was so cold) teeth clamp down, crushing their way through my thin pathetic skin, grinding muscle and fat until the skin burst, not from being cut open, but from the pressure of his unskakeble jaws. It would only have been another moment if I hadn’t been able to bring the tiny hatchet up and around and club him in the left ear. I didn’t hit him smoothly, or even particularly hard, but it was enough to scramble free, panting with exertion and fear. As I pulled myself up, I must have bumped the stove and lit one of the burners. I heard them clicking and smelled the rotten egg smell of gas, and, as I stumbled forward I heard the woompf of the gas catching and then the familiar flutter of the blue flames flicking back and forth in the open air. My neighbor stood, bracing himself on the stove in a disturbingly familiar pantomime of humanity. He didn’t even blink when his hands touched the blue flames. He didn’t turn his head when his shirt caught on fire. He just kept coming after me, so fucking steadily. I ran down the stairs and out the door. I should have shut the door, trapped that burning fuck in the house and let him roast in the hell he made for himself, but I still didn’t want to abandon the house. I didn’t know yet that the flames had spread onto the nylon fabric sleeping bags that lay next to where we had been struggling. Instead, I waited outside the door, panting, hatchet raised above my head. When that flaming monstrosity calmly stepped out of the front door, I brought that tiny axe down onto his exposed skull with all the strength I had, driving its dull steel blade past the scalp, splitting the skull, and finally stopping rammed deep into the monsters brain, about halfway through his right ear. He dropped (oh thank god he dropped) like a stone to the ground, pulling my hatchet out of my hands. Slow, thick blood, blood like cherry jello, coagulated and dark, spilled from his ruined head. Without a second thought I grabbed the hatchet, using my foot to brace his head and pulled it from his skull like Excalibur from the stone. I looked around in a frenzy, bloody hatchet raised up and over my head. My heart was pounding and I was shaking, not with fear but with the adrenalized blood rush of a first time killer.

That was about an hour ago. Now I’m sitting on my roof, feeling less than triumphant. My phone was in that house. My life was in that house. I had little more than a couple of crowbars I pulled from the garage, Excalibur, my hatchet, and no word from my wife. Where were they? Where would I take them to be safe? How would we get there?

No comments: