Friday, March 29, 2013

Take The Long Way Home

Once upon a time, there was a guy.

He was employed to hang around after a movie, in case any of the tear-down crew removing an over 80' height of stacked scaffolding fell off of it, and thus required a sponge and bucket to scoop up what was left of their corporeal selves and present it as an offering to the county coroner, then fill out the requisite reports documenting their unfortunate Failure To Fly.

His crew was diligent though, so mostly, the guy just read books, and answered the seldom-occurring phone calls while working the 6PM-6AM shift, and arose to circulate and check on his wards every couple of hours, both to demonstrate his presence and consciousness, and make any needed housecalls, as well as to verify their continued presence.

There were only a few problems with this idyllic existence.

First of all, the location was a huge white dome, next to a harbor breakwater. The breakwater was the mooring location for a large hotel curiously sharing the same name as a famous ocean liner, and the dome was the empty former home of a large wooden airplane whose name rhymes with "Spruce Goose".

The problem with both these locations, was firstly, the number of independently and documented reliable reports over the years of certain manifestations of things like former billionaires and unfortunately-squished-to-death-in-watertight-doors-engineers roaming the premises daily for the past 40 years, and as recently as the week before our tale occurs.

Secondly, was the glee with which the security personnel at the hotel/former ocean liner regaled anyone not able to run faster with tales of these reported manifestations. Usually after 1 in the morning, on their nightly rounds. Because they could.

Thirdly, was the fact that on a few occasions, the diligent crew, having gotten their work accomplished another 10 feet closer to the ground early, by skipping lunch and breaks, would occasionally finish, and retire to their rooms on the hotel/ocean liner, except after forgetting to tell the guy in our story they were done and gone.

And lastly, but by no means leastly, by the presence of large 2' open holes near the ground, for the multitude of power cables to transit this dome, allowing a galaxy of lights necessary to film, in this instance, one of a series of movies centering around the crime-fighting exploits of a large human dressed, in the translated German version of the title, as a Flying Mouse. Which, in a cruel twist of irony vis-a-vis large flying rodent crimefighters, allowed any number of feral felines normally sheltering among the rocks on the breakwater, and dining on a bounty of crustaceans and nautical birds, to seek shelter inside the decidedly safer and somewhat warmer environment that was the location of this cinematic rodent's well-known lair.

All of these unfortunate but pertinent negatives engaged in a multi-vehicle pileup one morning about 3AM, when our guy, having noted the dearth of the normal clanging, hooting, and so on related to human activity, went to investigate the premises.

And found himself well and truly all alone, inside one of the most allegedly haunted premises in the greater Southern California environs, at 3AM, on a dark and foggy night, inside a dark and barely lit building, and needing to proceed homeward with his traps and trinkets and lock up shop until the morrow.

And left with two routes out of his predicament: one, all the long long way around said enormous dark dome, hugging the wall between detritus in various stages of removal; or the other, and shortest route, straight through the lowest, fully-enclosed, inkiest blackness in existence, right through the subterranean heart of the actual 100 yard long, steel and concrete wonder known to countless fans and moviegoers as The Bat Cave. The mouth of which emerged a scant 20 feet from our guy's exit, the very exit closest to his vehicle's nightly parking space mere yards away in the brightly lit parking area.

And so, with the occasional mournful low moan of a distant foghorn and buoy bell, and absent any sign of human existence within even a lengthy sprint, our guy relied on his decent night vision, land navigation skills, and a firm disbelief in ghosts, to push his squeaky-wheeled cart of medical wonders, accompanied by the echoing footfalls of his own feet, through the cave direct, the quicker to depart the cheery atmosphere of a cold, dark, haunted, and thoroughly deserted building at 3AM.

Alas, just as things were looking their darkest, and dreading each step deeper into the maw of Stygian darkness, our guy was not to be left alone. Because unbeknownst to him, mere feet ahead of him, lay something waiting in the dark, pale-colored, barely visible, poised, and possessed of a singular ability to terrify mortal man.

Thus when the front wheels of the cart ran over kitty's tail, the white little furball levitated from the ground to eyeball height in nano-seconds, and communicating, undoubtedly, what it intended as a feline version of "Excuse me, chap, but that's my ass you're rolling over, would you mind not doing that please?" but which came out sounding a whole lot more like

I know because I heard every syllable, and there are some sounds no one ever forgets.
I don't remember if I climbed down off the 15' high concrete painted-rock and steel ceiling, or if I fainted, fell, and awoke standing bolt upright. I don't remember if I stopped to squeeze the crap and urine out of my underwear, or if the shock diamonds of Mach 3 travel squeezed it out of my garments through centrifugal force. But I do recall the stench of burning rubber, the chattering shower of concrete chips and steel-on-steel sparks, and the unmistakable sound of tennis shoes slapping the floor at the approximate cyclic rate of an A-10 Warthog's 30mm Gatling gun, from the midpoint of the cave to its exit, with the cart close on the frantically gyrating limbs of a rapidly moving pale cat-like blur, as a sound equal parts thundering herd of scared poop-free cattle and wagons competed with the staccato sound of trapped cat in a blender until the two blurs parted company at the cave's mouth, one headed toward the small cable portal, and the other moving over various flotsam and jetsam tragically left between the cave and sweet, blessed light and heavenly freedom of the outside world.

As the clatter slowed down, and the sounds left by the larger blur in its supersonic wake rejoined each other, there was someone's voice yelling over and over "I DO believe in spooks! I DO believe in spooks! I Do I Do I DO I DO!", which was only drowned out by the thunderous boom of the exit door slamming against the outside of the vile, despised concrete Tomb Of Death that had so nearly claimed another life.

Somewhere, on a monitor, some security supervisor might possibly have noticed the blur moving across the parking lot, and suppressed tears and rib pain at the sight of the Frankenstein-on-crack tableau of getting to the car, fumbling for keys, loading the car, getting inside, and driving out the gate hell for leather in a cloud of exhaust and tire rubber. Somewhere, someone doubtless made a notation on a clipboard of "Dome exit found open, no one found inside, closed and locked door. Will notify coordinator in AM." And somewhere, there are half a dozen guys who were soundly asleep in their paid for beds in luxurious accommodation, who may, in the morning, have fleetingly wondered whether they'd forgotten to let some guy know they were leaving for the night so they could let him out and lock up before they left for bed.

But there is one certainty in all of this:
If I ever run across those bastards, I'm going to kill them, slowly and cruelly, savoring every moment; and if I die first, I'm going to haunt them until they have eye-bulging vein-popping heart attacks.
And they'll be re-incarnated as feral cats in Long Beach.


Anonymous said...

I like your usual prose style a lot better. I gave up on this halfway through because I literally couldn't figure out what was happening. Something about traps and trinkets: literal or figurative? Or decorative? It's like Finnegan's Wake.

I'm a prick for bitching about free ice cream, but I figure you write to be read...

Anonymous said...

Bitch, bitch.

Anonymous said...

I would like to thank Anonymous 4:49 for giving me an idea for a post.
For the record, I enjoyed the story.