Blogophilia week 39.5 – A Harvest of Thanks
(Hard, 2pts): incorporate some gobbledygook in your blog
(Easy, 1pt): feature your favorite holiday treat, that is not Yorkshire pudding
The story picks up right where we left off in the blog posted before this one. Hope you enjoy it…it’s the first story I’ve written that has given me shivers while writing it.
“That sounds like a good plan, I’m for it. What do you say Ryan?” I asked.
“Sounds good to me, all except the part about getting locked up in the funny farm with you two, so if we can keep that from happening, I think we have a plan.” Ryan agreed.
I showed Hank to the guest bedroom bidding him a good night. I sent Ryan to my room and grabbed pillow and blanket from the hall closet on my way to the coach. I didn’t really think any of us would get as much sleep but at least this way we wouldn’t be trying to talk to one another when we needed to keep quiet. I lay on the coach and replayed my encounters with the winged beasts, trying to figure out what they could be. Other than looking like extremely tall men with wings who just happen to be all grey or black, but not like people from Africa, no, this was somehow different, unnatural. Then, there was the white one I saw fighting with the black, what was that all about? They looked the same except for the color; I wonder if there is something I’m missing. Granted, I didn’t get good looks at their faces or features. They were more like the old-fashioned cameos, as I could only see them in contrast with the changing background the first time. Then the second time it was just dark shapes against the early-morning haze as the sun began to rise. Shadows’ moving among shadows all but that one who jumped or few up to the window across the street, it was black against the shimmering candle light coming from the apartment window. Once again, my vantage point did not give much detail and only a view of its back and wings.
Once again the sound of car horns and alarms roused me from sleep, I know with what I was trying to work out last night you would have thought I’d never fall asleep, but I did. Although, I must say my dreams were quit disturbing. This time I just lay where I was, I had no need or desire to go peeking out of any windows. I knew what was outside and why it was causing such a raucous, and I refused to give in.
It didn’t take Hank long to come out to the living room once the noise started. Ryan fallowed close behind, now with all of us in the same room the boisterous carrying on didn’t seem much more than everyday sounds of a rush hour street. Both Hank and Ryan wanted to peek out to see what I had already seen. I could tell by the way they kept starring at the closed draperies. I gave them a nod to let them know it was fine with me, I only hoped they would be careful.
I joined them as they crept across the room to the windows; we spread apart each taking our own window as not to crowd each other. Once in place we raised the curtain slowly from the bottom, just enough to peer beneath yet enough to see over the windowsill. I don’t know what the others thought of what they saw that morning, but I must say I was ever so appreciative not to have seen anyone plucked from their window and thrown to the ground or rooftops of the parked automobiles below. Still I wasn’t able to get a look at any faces or glean any real details of the creatures. I can tell you that when the curtains were dropped both my companions were a whiter shade of pale, as all the color had drained from their faces. They also seemed a bit at a loss for words until much later that morning, merely sitting on the floor in front of their windows.
I sat to work making out a list of supplies we needed for the road. As we hadn’t really eaten the past couple of day’s food was top on the list fallowed by bottled water and road maps or atlas. Along with an assortment of different-sized batteries, portable radio, hopefully one with weather and police frequencies if we could find one. As well as candles, lighters, matches and some miscellaneous bath items, I wasn’t certain, how long we would end up on the road before we got away from what was happening here. For that matter, I wasn’t assured this wasn’t happening elsewhere too. Once the list was made, I unearthed my duffel bag and commenced to pack what was on hand, beginning to fill my list, along with a couple of shirts, pants and about ten pairs of socks. I even grabbed a couple of old sweat shirts and sweaters just in case it got chilly, then went and got my pillow and blanket. I figured there was no telling when or where I’d be sleeping once we left Monroe.
“Ryan, do we need to stop by your place to pick anything up? You know like some clothes or any other personnel possessions you don’t want to leave behind?” I asked as I secured the closure on my bag.
“No, we’re just going to Shreveport, not camping or around the world. I’ve got money I can buy whatever I need until things get back to normal around here.” Ryan retorted with an appearance of shocked bewilderment.
“ I’ve got my bag in the car. I remember seeing a couple places on the way in that we can stop and pick up some junk food and batteries.” Hank piped in as he eyed Ryan.
“What? I just want to get the hell out of here! The sooner we get going the sooner we can get some help. Damn, I just want the last couple of weeks to be a really bad dream and wake up!” Ryan exclaims in self-defense. Throwing his arms in the air, “Besides, I don’t think we can drive to my place the streets are a mess.”
“Come with me Ryan, I have a bag you can use and maybe we can find some stuff that will fit you.” I said as I started for my bedroom.
Once we got to the bedroom, I started pulling everything out of my bag. Grabbing a small carry-on and started sorting the stuff out. Putting the things we would need in the car into the smaller bag and the clothing and bedding in the larger bag. Ryan found some clothing and bedding for himself. On our way back out to join Hank, I stopped and grabbed some bedding for him too. Remembering my mom saying I was such a boy scout who if the world was ending I’d be the one packing for it. I hope that’s not the case now, I thought, stopping in the kitchen to get a few pots and pans as well as the aluminum foil.
Gazing around the apartment one last time, “I guess that’s it. Time to head out and put some distance between us and this insanity, we have a long way to go and the sun won’t stay up forever.” I said just as something caught my eye, a book, in the bookcase. I walked over and grabbed it along with a few other books, stuffing them in my small carry-on.
We loaded the big bags in the trunk of the cab, and then climbed in, ready to go at last. We didn’t get far; looking up Hank saw someone standing in front of the car, as he prepared to pull away from the curb. “Whoa! Hold on now, who do we have here?” Hank questioned no one, in particular, bemusement pricking the corners of his mouth.
Ryan and I both looked up to see what Hank was on about. “Don’t know!” We said in unison.
Standing before use was a young lady. Her face was strained with fear as her eyes darted in all directions. She carried what appeared to be a pillow case stuffed with something other than a pillow. Moving to the driver-side window, she motioned for Hank to lower the glass. As soon as a gap started to show between the glass and the rubber encasement channel she leaned down and asked if we would take her with us. The sound of her plea was that of a child begging for a sweet.
Without any preamble, Ryan popped his door open and told her to get in. Hank and I looked at one to the other before turning to see Ryan sliding over as she climbed in, closing the door quickly behind her. “Oh, thank you, thank you! I’m Lisa Hampton. I live over there.” Lisa was pointing to a building catty-corner across from the one I live in. “I saw you pulled up yesterday and hoped I wouldn’t miss you before you left. I ran down then, but you had gone inside so I waited until the last minutes of daylight but when you didn’t come back down I returned to my apartment until this morning and started the wait all over again. I haven’t seen any people but you in days; in fact, it’s been almost a week. I was starting to think I was the last one alive around here. I cannot thank you enough for letting me come with you, really I don’t think I could have stood being cooped up all by myself another day. I don’t even care where you are going, I just have to get out of here and be with people. You really have no idea how hard this has been on me. What with all the creep stuff going on at night and the people disappearing. The last person I talked was my sister, we were in the apartment and had the doors and windows all locked up tight waiting for this to be over. I went into the bathroom and when I came back to the sitting room, she was gone! She never said she was leaving or anything, so I went around looking for her in the apartment, but I never did find hide-nor-hair of her, and everything was still all locked up. Now, let me tell you that scared the pants off me, and how! If she didn’t live with me, I’d swear I dreamed the whole thing.”
Once Lisa was in and told us where she came from I motioned for Hank to take off. I didn’t want to sit here on the street any longer than needed too. It wasn’t so much in hopes of not picking up any more people, but not losing any more daylight. It wasn’t long before we reached the first gas-station convenience store, we pulled in and Hank and I got out. I thought it was best if we didn’t leave the car unattended, and it would go faster if just the two of us went in and grabbed the things we needed. I told Ryan he, and Lisa could go into the next one if they needed anything or wanted anything. I hoped we would be able to get everything in one stop but felt I should give them both a shot at picking up anything they may want. Especially since neither one had much to start with for whatever reason. When Hank and I got inside we split up, he checked the front of the store while I went and checked out the storeroom in the back. I placed some boxes I found on the two-wheeler I found next to the door in which I entered. One of the shipping cartons had beef jerky in it, and the other was filled with different sizes of batteries. I felt like I hit the mother-load, except, I wasn’t sure where we would find room for it all. I met up with Hank in the front of the shop; he had the answer to my dilemma. He led me to an aisle in which they had automotive items; bungee straps were among them. Hank, likewise, found stacks of bottled water sealed in cardboard trays with stretch wrap that would have to be affixed on the top of the car. I also grabbed up some toilet paper and baby wipes, you just never know when you’re going to need stuff like that. Hank took a bottle of charcoal starter and bagged up as many flashlights as he could as well as a sack filled with potato chips and candy bars. In a strange way, I didn’t feel like we were stealing, but at the same time it didn’t feel right even so. By law, we were stealing, but as things are right now, there didn’t seem to be any law, man made or otherwise. Under these conditions, it felt more like survival of the fittest or a no holds barred match of sorts.
It took us some time to strap everything that we could fit onto the car roof. We passed out water and everyone got some candy bars, chips, and jerky. You wouldn’t have thought anything so bad for you could taste as good as Christmas ham but this did. I received a harvest of thanks for the meager offerings. I can’t speak on behalf of the others, but at this point, I cannot remember the last time I’d eaten anything.
We made our way through the city with little trouble, there were a few cars blocking the streets here and there, which we had not encountered during the trip in. It didn’t take much to work our way around them, after all Hank was a taxi driver. We reached the second convenience store on the outskirts of town; Lisa wanted to stop, she said she needed a potty break before we really got going out on the road where there wouldn’t be any place to do her business. So we stopped, and before we left we all decided that she had a good idea and did the same. The countryside looked much the same as it did the last time I passed through. No traffic and a great deal of wide-open space, a few scrub bushes dotted the flat land but no trees. It all gave me the feeling; we were the last people on earth, looking out at the nothingness of it all. Hank pulled the car into the driveway at the hospital. We had agreed to check in on the staff and patients when we made our plans. Just to see how they were managing in the wake of these events. As well as to see if they had heard what was going on in Monroe. It all appeared as though nothing had changed, but then why would it; it only was a couple of days. I guess in my mind it should have turned dark and foreboding in some way. This being the last place I ever wanted to see, let alone come back too.
Hank stopped the car in front of the entrance to the facility. I got out and headed up to the double doors, hoping that someone would come to meet me, which is the norm. No one came to greet me either outside or inside. I proceeded to the front desk but saw no one manning the post. It wasn’t the first time I’d seen the desk unoccupied, looking over the area; I could see nothing out of the ordinary. I then walked down the hall to the left of the desk leading to the doctors’ offices. With three doctors on staff, there was a good chance I’d find at least one in his office. Yes, I can say his as there are no women doctors on staff here at this hospital. In fact, most of the personnel are grisly old timers without families for one reason or another.
Halfway down the hall it commenced, I could hear voices but couldn’t discern from where they were coming from. I kept on investigating the offices, moving forward in the hall until I reached its end and a set of double doors and a new hallway leading further into the hospital. The voices were growing louder with every step I took, alas; I was no closer to finding the person or persons responsible for them or any of the doctors. It would seem they were busy elsewhere in the building. Not knowing the layout of the hospital beyond, I was reluctant to go any further, but tried the doors just the same. They were unlocked so I went through to the room inside. It was a very large room with many tables and chairs both at the tables and set in groupings like little sitting rooms. The visitation room where family and friends could visit with the patients, I thought to myself. I couldn’t see anyone in the nurses’ station beside the doors I’d just passed through as I walked slowly past. Stepping beyond the small room I could see there was a group of people in the back corner, the source of the voices. With caution, I approached the group, not sure if a doctor was among them. However, sure I didn’t want to surprise any of them, just in case they were a violent bunch. I had traveled about halfway between the corner of the nurses’ nook and the group of people, when I was accosted by an accusing statement coming from behind me. “You, you are the bringer of death!”
I froze on the spot after the initial start of surprise that had caused me to practically jump from my skin. Slowly turning to see who was behind m. I could see the group was now looking at me as well. Dread flowed over me as I feared I may be in for some trouble. I was feeling trapped between the two. Not sure I wanted the group out of view; I stepped back to the wall, now I could see the group as well as the small child-like figure of a woman. Well, childlike in stature anyway, as for the rest she looked to be as old as Methuselah. Skin brown and wrinkled as one of those apples carved faces, with the texture of leather, her hair was gray and coarse, reminding me of steel wool, rather long but still sticking out in all directions. Standing with the assistance of a hand carved well buffed cane, gripped with fingers as gnarled and knotty though not as polished. I know she doesn’t sound scary. Look in her clear ebony eyes was indeed freighting. Eyes without pupils is daunting to say the least, accompany this with an unyielding gaze, sent shivers racing all over my body.
“No, it wasn’t you. Awe, but you were there when they were brought over. You saw who it was, yes, but you do not know that you saw them. They are near; I can feel them. Maybe you brought them with you? Did you come alone or with others?” The Witchy grandmother said, lilting her head to the right as the question hung on the air between us.
“A…I don’t know what you are talking about, but I didn’t come here looking for trouble.” I stammered, inching away from her without taking my eyes off the creepy little woman.
“You know exactly what I’m speaking of. It’s why you have returned to this gawd awful, ghastly place. It has not reached us yet, but it is following close behind you. We will surely see it and feel its effects tonight. Of that you can be sure. Now, tell me who you have brought with you. One is not what you think they are or can it be you do not know them as well as you believe. Either you fetch them to me or me to them.” The woman snapped.
“Now hold on there, lady! I don’t have time for this gobbledygook. I need to speak with one of the employees can you please tell me where I can find someone?” I growled back.