I parked with my car almost touching the front door of Wal-Mart, jumped out running.
“Excuse me, sir?”
I didn’t feel it when I kneed a little girl in the face, or when I body-checked the old greeter and ran directly over him, where are the board games?
The air was so tense, my head was going to explode, literally, along with the sky, and the whole fucking story, beginning to end, see you in hell.
On the speakers overhead, “Attention all associates, we have a code ‘crazy.’ ”
They needed an arena and the ringing in my skull said they chose Earth. Stocking everything under one roof said I could find the door in Wal-Mart. Somewhere between cracking that little girl’s cheek and stomping on Senior’s shoulder, I thought of a Ouija Board.
I’m in the toy section, screaming at a kid, “Where are the demon games?!” His dad comes huffing and puffing around the corner, pushing his sleeves above his elbows.
I can barely keep my eyes open and my temples are starting to collapse when Pep Pep puts his hands straight up. Dan is behind him, pressing a shotgun between his shoulders, a bicycle between his legs, a four foot black line behind him from braking hard on the white tile.
Dan’s got a Ouija Board under his arm and he says to me, “Lawn and Garden.”
Dan pedals and I follow on foot with the shotgun. Several employees see me and run toward us. I look them all in the eyes and grip the gun. It’s really that easy to clear a path.
We find a table on display, rip open the game, grab a bunch of candles and light them. Dan stands guard. I have no idea what I’m doing. A kid with his nails painted black runs by us. I grab him and shove him into a seat.
“What’s wrong with your eyes, man? Are they bleeding?”
Alarms are going off now. People are screaming and running for the exits. I’m waiting for my forehead to burst.
I point at the board. “How does this thing work?”
“I don’t know. I think you ask it questions.”
I look at this piece of cardboard that Dan found under Chutes and Ladders and I almost start laughing.
“Will you let the demons out?”
A security guard appears around the corner, gun in hand.
Dan is instantly facing the guard. One shot and the middle of the guy is missing.
Back to the game, I say, “Please?”
A blinding light shoots out of the board, straight up to the ceiling, takes the pain in my head with it. The kid with the black fingernails falls out of his chair and screams all the way down the aisle.
Dan says, “Does Wal-Mart really sell everything?”
I turn his direction and see a black horse staring straight into my eyes.
Several things happen at once.
- The power in the entire building dies.
- The security lights come on, leaving pockets of darkness in each department.
- There is a loud “ch-chunk” as every door locks.
- Everyone still in the store collectively gasps, whimpers, then panics.
Looking up at the opposite side of the store, near the ceiling, I see the shoulder of a giant something pass through a security light before it is thrown into freezers full of popsicles and chicken nuggets, smashing glass and metal and several families into the floor.
I turn to grab the Ouija Board and goddam-kids-these-days, that goth left it laying in a pile of candles and now it’s eat up with fire and now these giant intergalactic gods are trapped on Earth and the winner still loses, gotta leave the way you came.
Dan says, “Get the biggest knives they sell and meet me in Shoes.”
I jump on the bike, fly to the display case full of deadly weapons, smash it, grab the knives with the most teeth, book it over to Shoes.
Dan is standing on a skateboard. He tosses me a pair of velcro shoes blinking red on the bottom. I see he’s wearing the same ones.
“So we can see each other.”
I dump the knives on the floor. He takes the two largest. I’ve known Dan for my entire life, but this is a new look in his eyes. Like he told his conscience to wait outside while his pure urge takes the reigns. He skates toward the battle and yells,
I change my shoes and run back to Sporting Goods. I find anything with gas in it and I open or break it, gagging on fumes.
Across the store, near the ceiling again, I see little red lights flashing. Dan! The big, ugly thing steps into a light and I see that Dan’s upper half is in its throat, his feet straight up. I also see one of the hunting knives deeply lodged between its eyes. The thing screams, hurting my ears like that pressure that got this nightmare started.
By now, this corner of the store is a bomb that will take us all out, I don’t care if you’re a demon god or whatever-the-fuck else. I don’t know what’s over there, how many, how big, but I need them here with me and my matches.
Now, a gift from the Ouija gods. I spot a Jurassic Park BluRay on the wrong shelf. I know exactly what to do.
I rip open a roadside emergency box and find a road flare. I’m on the bike, flare held high, in seconds. I weave through as many aisles as I can, avoiding goblins and bats and horses and slugs. I ride by the big guys last.
Sure enough, I’m being chased back to my corner, hazy with fumes of propane and gasoline. I drop the bike, hold a match to the box.
The demons are here, I swipe the match, beginning to end.
In 2011, I started and finished:
8 stories, some short, some shorter
I’m perfectly fine with these numbers looking back, while during the year I felt a constant anxiety of not “doing anything.” I think it’s mostly due to a lack of discipline. I wrote in short bursts whenever it wanted to come out. In 2012, I’ll be working toward a creative routine.
Septemer 20, 2010
This is a short story I wrote for a challenge from NPR called “Three Minute Fiction.” It’s a series of challenges to write a story that can be read out loud in three minutes.
This one had to start with the line, “Some people swore that the house was haunted.” And it had to end with the line, “Nothing was ever the same again after that.”
If you’ve read anything on this blog, you understand that I picked up my pen immediately.
Some people swore that the house was haunted, that the windows flickered with light, an occasional crash heard from the gate. I had never seen these signs of life from beyond, or any life at all.
I rode my bike by the old house every day, sometimes stopping at the gate to squint into the distance. Legend had me watching for a ghost, not the squatter that my instinct was demanding.
Monday the 26th
The story started to take its shape on Monday. I had been delivering pizza for about six months. You start to notice your regulars pretty quickly. Some you notice for big tips, some for weird things, like a guy who’s always naked, or a halo of burning herb around a trailer. But our star customer, ask any of the drivers, was Molly McGeehan. The most beautiful customer on our route. The story started when I knocked on her door and it was answered by a ninety-year-old lady wearing rubber gloves.
I cut the film into thirty-six clips and spliced it together with special tape. I got it on a reel and played it through a projector. It was thirty-six perfect moments, real on the wall at twenty-four frames per second.
Later it occurred to me that the actual moment was the light, not the film. By the one source, each frame of film experienced.
I cut up a lot more film, ended up with the special tape from beginning to end. My life looks a lot more choppy now, but every moment is exactly what I want it to be.
Your House is Haunted
For years, it was just me knocking on strangers’ doors, saying, “Hi, my name is Kim Wyatt. Did you know that your house is haunted?” That question was usually answered with the other question, “Excuse me?” We would converse in several more questions, ending with one like, “Are you leaving or would you like to wait for the cops?”
I did find the occasional guy that asked me to please come in right away because if these goddamn cabinets don’t stop slamming themselves, no one’s ever gonna get any sleep. I’d buy a case of diet soda, set up my video camera, and just wait for the sun to rise.
It told Stephen, “You’re fifty-four years old with nothing to show for it. “ And what happened is Stephen quit his job and soon after quit his family and now people call him crazy.
He lives alone in a tiny house. He eats tiny meals, goes on tiny walks. He keeps up with tiny stories on a tiny television. He sleeps on a tiny bed where he has tiny dreams. He pursues a tiny relationship with a tiny dog that he lets out into his tiny yard. He pays for all of this with a tiny job.