This time around, Chuck has us writing X meets Y of Horror meets Not-So-Horror... this should be fun - in more ways than one!
My neighbour has a secret.
My neighbour has a secret.
I’ve noticed him as he’s come home every night from work, called out to his wife – Astrid – had dinner, then retired to his garage until around midnight.
I know he did this because the light from his garage shone through my bedroom window well after I turned out my light and went to bed.
On Friday nights, while I studied further into the night, I’d take breaks out on the roof and watch, listening as he worked away in that dark green garage; and noticed one thing: the two cars were never kept inside it.
The doors were always closed.
The two family cars were always parked outside on the driveway.
I watched him for about three months before we got our first decent thunderstorm and he eagerly arrived home, clambered up on the roof of the garage as the wind picked up and made sure the tall shining wires were connected right.
He was drenched by the time he climbed down – as he’d neglected to put on a raincoat – and he stood out there in the pouring rain and wind grinning up at those wires as though he had invented them. Within a few seconds, he’d run inside the garage and fiddle with something and I knew he was waiting.
For what I wasn’t sure, but I waited in my room watching on as the lightning came closer and closer.
But storm passed over and the closest the lightning came was the footpath outside. It left a large, black stain on the concrete about three feet across, which faded over the next three months to a light grey and kids played marbles on it.
He was disappointed about where it had made landfall; and just seemed to stare at the black stain on the concrete as I checked the letterbox the next afternoon.
Then, he looked over at me, “Hi there.” His voice was kind husky and loud for somebody so young; as though he was a little deaf and had to shout to make up for it, “How are you?”
I looked around to see if he was talking to me, then back at him, “I’m good.”
“I’ve noticed you’ve been watching me… would you like to see what I’ve been making in my garage?”
I hesitated, “Um… I don’t know you.”
Slapping his forehead as he burst out laughing, he stepped across the road hurriedly, thrusting his hand out, “I’m Emmett.”
Glancing at the letterbox, he spotted our last name, “Pond.”
“Indeed.” I smiled, but couldn’t keep it as he rushed across the road to his house, then turned, “Well, Amy, are you coming or not?”
Stepping inside the garage, I found the place crowded with instruments, a couple of large tables, a huge telescope (which protruded through the roof here – and yet it didn’t show on the outside) and then there was a blue police box in the middle with its doors open and wiring feeding from inside it.
Curiosity got the better of me as I stepped toward it and looked inside where my eyes followed the wiring to a huge circular desk which seemed to be the epicenter of this thing… and yet, the box was bigger on the inside than the outside… and yet the garage had the same perimeters.
“Impressive, isn’t it?” Emmett mused as he proudly looked around his garage.
“Which one? Your garage or the box?” I asked.
“Both, Amy, both!” he answered as he seemed to remember something and rushed across to the bookcase, scanned the books, muttered, “Ah-ha!” and pulled a book down from the shelves and came back to me, “I assume this is yours?”
I took the book from him and looked at its red cover. It was a book I had lost years ago at school – somebody had stolen it from my locker in high school, “Where did you get this?”
“From the kid who stole it off you.” He said, “Did you know he had a crush on you and wanted to own something of yours?”
“Oh… no. But I love this book.” I still wondered how he got it, “How did you get it off the kid at the exact time he was stealing it?”
“That, my dear, is hard to explain.” He grinned that same grin I saw when the storm was on – he was nuts on toast.
“Thank you.” Turning, I started toward the door, “I better go home, I have to study and give Mum the mail.”
“We have another storm in a few days.” He said, “I hear you’re good at science.” He walked me home.
“Yes, I’m okay at it I guess.”
“Well, how would you like to be part of an experiment – a witness if you will?” Emmett’s eyes glowed with hope, “I just need an assistant.”
“It’s for the next storm, isn’t it?”
“Yes… I need somebody to help me with my secret.”
The storm didn’t strike when we had hoped; it went around our suburb instead. Emmett was disappointed. But then I was too – I loved storms as they’re great entertainment.
This gave Mum and Dad time to meet Emmett and get to know him as a neighbour, as well as his wife, Astrid. They came over for dinner, where we found out they were from all over, traveling for work and wherever they wished to live. Dad thought it must have been a great joy to be able to pick up sticks and move at a moment’s notice, and Emmett smiled and said it was. They seemed happy and wonderful and lovely. Both sets of adults talked well into the night, but I had to head off to bed – being seventeen sucked. I was part adult, part child; and yet still had to do what my folks told me to.
Soon, the Summer storms arrived along with the heat. It was great to be able to feel the storms coming, predicting them with such accuracy that Emmett and I were ready for the lightning when we needed to record it.
Well, that’s what he told me I was doing.
Then, Astrid went missing.
The police searched everywhere for her. Emmett was beside himself as the neighbourhood rallied around him in support to help him find his beloved wife, soulmate and companion. They were such a wonderful pair; so old-fashioned and retro-looking and yet so cool that everyone loved them from the start. Eventually, Emmett went back to work on his secret in his garage.
“I can’t see why you can… Astrid was such a big part of your life.” I said at the door as he begged me to come back.
“I need to keep working in her name… please I need you there.” He said, “My work will keep me sane.”
The next day – around midday – a storm struck.
It was massively wonderful!
Day turned to night.
Thunder rolled as though the world was engulfed in a drum solo in the darkened, broiling clouds overhead.
Emmett was in his element as the readings came through – and the strikes came closer and closer.
All my study at school was really beginning to pay off as we looked up at the glass ceiling at the flashing, darkened sky and he threw the switches and the wires entering the blue box in the garage started to hum.
“Now, be careful… they’re all live, okay, Amy?” he shouted above the thunderclaps.
Next, the box began to glow from within… a soft green, then it turned blue and it made a sound as though it was going to feedback on itself before it vibrated and a sound of woman’s voice came from the box. It wasn’t before long when I recognized that voice: it was Astrid’s!
He turned grinning, “What?”
“Astrid’s inside the box.”
He looked over and nodded, “I know. I put her there.”
His huge grin told me everything I needed to know – Emmett had lost his marbles in the biggest possible way, “I put her there… and then called the police and told them she was missing. I mean, it didn’t take much to put my wife into the machine – I mean she’s dead anyway. It’s just a matter of juicing up the machine and getting her going again.”
My gut did a backflip, “Dead?”
He walked across toward me, reaching over the top towards a shelf and grabbing a pair of heavy-duty gloves and pulled them onto his hands, “Why yes… I needed a freshie to get things going.”
I stared at him: “Freshie? How come you’re using that word as though you’ve done this before?”
“Oh, come now, this can’t be your first rodeo… can it?”
“The worse thing I’ve done is dissect a frog; and I was just about the only person in the class who didn’t regurgitate their lunch.”
Emmett hesitated, “Oh, I see… so you’ve never seen a dead body before – a real one. I can show you her if you want.”
“No… I’d rather remember her the way she was… please.”
“I thought you had more guts than this.” Looking me up and down, a smile carved its way across his cheek, “Actually, we can find out if you do…”
Outside the storm had doubled in fury and I just wanted to get home; but knew I couldn’t leave just yet – it was too dangerous to run across the street.
But his house was close enough.
I raced out the garage door – just dodging out of his grasp – and into the howling storm outside, getting drenched in a few seconds. I knew where the door of the house was and raced toward it; totally surprised that it was open.
Once inside, I stood there dripping wet for moment, leaving the two monsters behind me – one human, one Mother Nature – before I took a step into the kitchen and could smell it: decay. This filtered into the back of my nose and I couldn’t get rid of it as I gagged into my hands and looked around trying to figure out where that stench was coming from. And it wasn’t long before I found it: there were three people sitting in the living room propped up as though they were watching television; but yet it wasn’t switched on.
It was the Parkinson’s.
They hadn’t been seen in about three months.
Emmett and Astrid told everyone they had moved away.
But I don’t remember them moving anywhere… they would have told everyone.
“Oh my God… he killed you all.”
“That’s right, I did, Amy.” Emmett’s voice came from the kitchen behind me as the door closed out the other monster outside. His snide grin was still on his face, “And now, the blue box is alive… Astrid survived the experiment and is part of it. She’s its soul power source. But there is one little problem.”
I hated to ask: “And that is?”
He slowly picked up a meat cleaver, “You’ve now seen far too much.”