Straw Man

  It was a gorgeous fall morning. The leaves were a vibrant gold and orange. The slight crispness in the air and the warmth of the sunshine was soothing to the face. The smell of burning leaves and pumpkin spice filled the morning air. Bill and Tori were lounging on their porch, sipping on coffee and planning their agenda for their day trip to the big town.

  After finishing up, they loaded up the burgundy Honda minivan and headed out on their way. It was such a beautiful day, that they decided to take the back roads. Tori gazed out the window as the wind blew through her long brown hair. Bill fiddled with the knobs on the radio. Unfortunately, the only station he could pull in was some sort of weird sermon with a preacher shouting fire and brimstone. He quickly turned it off and played his Cat Stevens CD instead.  

   All of a sudden they began hearing a loud rattle coming from the rear. Sure enough the back right tire had gone flat. Bill slowed the minivan and pulled over to the side of the road next to a massive cornfield. They both hopped out to inspect the problem. Bill went for the jack while Tori searched for a signal on her phone. “Do you want me to call a tow service?” said Tori.

  “No, I’ve got this”, said Bill as he lugged the jack and spare over to the side where the flat was.

  “I can’t get a signal”, said Tori as Bill began to loosen the lugnuts. They all came off relatively easy, except for the last one which seemed to be rusted on. Bill decided to rear back and give it a little extra something. While doing so, he gouged his knuckle on the jagged old wheel well. The blood started to flow as Bill reached into his pocket and found a couple of coffee napkins that he used to cover it and soak up the blood. Concerned for her husband, Tori quickly cleaned up the wound and bandaged him with the first aid kit

  “I don’t know what I would do without you”, said Bill as he leaned in to kiss his savior.

  “Ouch! Your whiskers are like straw, be gentle and maybe you’ll get lucky”, said Tori as she winked, slowly unbuttoned her blouse, and headed for the back of the van while seductively gesturing for bill to come with her.

  “No problem, just let me finish up”, said Bill as he quickly continued the tire change and rushed back to the van like a teenager on prom night.

  Fast forward about twenty minutes later. “I’ll be right back”, said Bill as he stepped outside the van to relieve himself.

  As Bill fumbled with his pants on the side of the road, he noticed that the soiled coffee napkins that he used to clean his wound had blown into the field next to the road. Being the environmentally conscious person that he was, he decided to gather them.  While finishing up, Bill noticed a slight clearing around 30 feet or so from the road. He decided to take a look. There he saw a massive straw man attached to a pole buried in the ground. Oddly, the straw man was dressed in the same plaid flannel and khaki pant combo that Bill was currently wearing.

  A chill formed along his spine.The temperature seemed to drop as dark clouds began looming overhead. He could see his breath float through the air. Bill’s eyes grew huge as the face on the straw man changed and morphed to look like his own. He quickly closed and rubbed his eyes. He thought he was seeing things.

  “How could this be!”, he said to himself as he took another look. That time the straw man appeared normal. As Bill turned to walk back to the van, the straw man spoke to him. “Please help me… please help mmmeee!”, said the straw man as it’s face changed to resemble Bill once again.

  “I must be seeing and hearing things”, shouted Bill as he darted back to the van.

  “I must have watched too many horror movies as a kid”, he said under his breath as he opened the door of the van, hopped in, and fumbled for his keys.

  “Is everything OK”, said Tori as she played with her cell phone in an attempt to get a signal.

  “There was some sort of scarecrow or straw man back there that really freaked me out”, said Bill as he attempted to draw Tori’s attention away from the phone.

   “Cool! Can we get a picture of it? It would make a great Halloween profile pic for my facebook page”, said Tori as she kept her attention on her phone.

   “OK, let’s go. I’ll show you so you can see for yourself”, said Bill as he took Tori over to the clearing where he had seen the straw man.

   When they arrived, the straw man was gone. The pole that the straw man had been attached to was still standing, but no strawman.

  “Maybe this isn’t the right spot”,said Tori as she snapped a shot of the pole and tried to upload it to her facebook profile.

   “No, this is the spot and that is the pole where the straw man was!”, exclaimed Bill.

   “You’re creepin’ me out, let’s get out of here!”, said Tori as they ran back to the van. In a panic, Bill started it up and they began to drive away.

   A few miles down the road, Tori was finally able to get a signal on her phone. As she glanced at her home page, she noticed there was a notification of a Facebook profile picture update. Tori seemed puzzled as she didn’t remember changing it. As she clicked on the link, Tori began to shiver, her eyes widened, and her jaw dropped. The temperature plummeted and exposed each breath they took. Her profile picture had been changed to a photo of her husband’s head on the body of a straw man, just as he had described earlier. “Oh my God!” she screamed as she looked up to show Bill. Except it wasn’t Bill driving, it was the straw man. Tori screamed as the van drove off of the road and disappeared into the cornfield, never to be seen again.

 

                                                         -The End-

  

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Big Trouble in Little China issue#1 comic review

BTLC#1

Photo taken from: https://shop.boom-studios.com/comics/detail/3097/big-trouble-in-little-china-01-(cover-a)

If you have never seen the 1986 John Carpenter cult classic, Big Trouble in Little China, then you are missing out big time! However this review is about the first Big Trouble in Little China comic book written by Eric Powell for Boom Studios. If you haven’t seen the movie, then go buy it, rent it, or borrow it. The comic is based on what happens directly from the end of the movie. (Spoiler alert)

Eric Powell, the creator of The Goon and many other genius comic creations, struck gold with his take on Jack Burton, Wang Chi, Egg Shen, etc… As I stated previously, issue number one picks up where the movie ends with Jack Burton driving way in the pork chop express and David Lopan’s furry demon beast reveals that he has hitched a ride. Unbeknownst to Jack, the Demon beast that he later refers to as Pete, is now bonded to Jack because he killed Lopan at the end of the movie.Befriended by Pete, Jack reunites with Egg Shen after Wang is kidnapped by a sorcerer disciple of Lopan who has vowed to avenge his master. Adventures ensue as Jack, Pete, and Egg travel to save their friend.

I liked this comic for many reasons, but the first and foremost reason is how well Powell made Jack Burton come to life. Even though it covers many different genres, the comedic value in this comic is right there with the movie. When you read his dialogue, I can hear Kurt Russell. It feels like I’m watching it on the big screen. Powell even borrows some of Jack’s famous one liners. Heck, I can even hear Victor Wong’s voice when Egg Shen speaks.

Secondly, the art work by Brian Churilla is outstanding. It is as visually accurate as it is written. A lot of the scenes are dimly lit with occasional bright colors to signify sorcery just like the movie. There are some flash back panels of Jack’s past that are hilarious and really shine throughout.

Finally, I would just like to say that if you’re a fan of the movie, then you will love this comic. I saw an interview with Powell on Youtube in which he referenced that he may only be doing the first twelve issues or so. I hope to see more, but if not I highly recommend checking out some of Powell’s other work such as The Goon, Big Man Plans, and Chimichanga. All have Powell’s blend of slightly adult oriented humor, horror, scifi, etc.. I’m sure that he has other works, but those are the ones I’ve read so far. Peace out for now!

 

The Clock

 The clock hand struck 6:45 am and the sun began to rise. Professor John Stanton was lying in bed asleep in his second floor flat in downtown Sheffield. The flat faced east. The morning revealed a breathtaking sunrise. Bright shades of orange, red, and yellow illuminated his entire room.  

  “Bloody hell, why is it so hot, my skin is on fire?”, John mumbled to himself as he was awoken by the sun shining through the open window. His skin began to sizzle like bangers on a hot skillet. He opened his eyes and quickly leaped from the bed to close the shades and draw the curtains as he couldn’t take it anymore. The burning hurt so that John moved without the use of his cane. Something he hadn’t done since the accident.

 The clock hand struck 6:46am. The pain went away. John was not quite awake yet. He was in a sort of haze as he stood in front of the bed. He barely noticed the stark naked young woman lying in the bed next to where he was just a second ago. “Who the hell is that?”, he thought as he rubbed his eyes and reached for his glasses to get a better look.

  “There, that should help”, John said to himself as slipped the bridge of his tortoise-shell eyeglass frames snuggly against his nose.    

  The corrective lenses blurred his vision, so he removed them. He repeated it again and again. It was distracting him from what was clearly a much larger issue. He was astonished, his vision improved significantly without the glasses. John had worn them since he was a boy and was very near-sighted. “How could this be”, he pondered.

  “Bloody hell, the..the girl!”, he shouted inside of his own mind.

  She was just lying there sleeping with her back to him. John noticed that she was very pale, but also very beautiful. He couldn’t see her face, but her long black hair cascading over her bare shoulder was luminous. He began to tremble and his heart race. He couldn’t remember anything. He didn’t know what to do.

  The clock hand struck 6:47am. John stood and stared at the remarkably gorgeous young woman lying asleep in his bed. All he remembered was stopping for a pint at the local pub on his way home from work. Who is she? How did she get there? Is she one of my students  These were all questions that rushed through John’s mind as he frantically searched for the right way to approach the situation. “This makes no sense, I’m probably more than twice her age and besides I never talk to women. Well, not in a very long time” John thought to himself.

  John’s nights usually consisted of staying late to work on lesson plans, grading papers, and self loathing. He was never the same after the accident. He never moved on. Last night was the 25th anniversary of the accident and his wife’s disappearance. John had planned to stop for a pint and have some dinner at the pub.  Afterwards he planned to go back to his flat, take a bottle of sleeping pills and fall asleep forever while dreaming of his lost love.

  John and Mina were college sweethearts and were married right after John was hired by the university as an english professor. They were both young and very much in love. They were going to have children. Mina was going to continue her education program and be an elementary school teacher. They had their whole life ahead of them, or so they thought.

   One stormy night in November, about a week after moving into their downtown flat, John had to work late at the university. He was concerned about Mina, so he phoned her to let her know his plans and when he would be home. She reassured John that she would be fine and not to worry.

  Seconds later there was a knock at Mina’s door. It was her downstairs neighbor, Lucy. She had come to borrow some candles as she and her husband Arthur had just moved in and didn’t have any. The storm grew intense and lightning flashed repeatedly. There was a loud roar of thunder and the lights went out.

 A couple of hours later, John arrived back at the flat. He rushed up the stairs, excited to be home with his beautiful wife. When he opened the doors he was horrified. The flat had been ransacked. There must have been a break in. He saw Mina lying on the floor unconscious and bleeding. They didn’t have a phone to call an ambulance. John knew he needed to get her to the hospital as soon as possible. He couldn’t imagine life without her.

  He swept her up in his arms, swiftly carried her through the door and down the staircase where he laid her gently in the back seat of the tattered old green station wagon. He quickly slammed the car in reverse to back out of the driveway. Out of nowhere something slammed into the side of the car. The old station wagon was spun across the road. That’s when everything went black.

  About a week later John awoke in the hospital. He had been in a coma. He was still in pretty bad shape. He immediately thought about Mina and screamed for the nurse! The nurse rushed in to calm him down and stabilize him. “Nurse please, where is Mina! Is she OK? Please, I need to see her”, said John.

  “Sir, please calm down. You have been in a serious accident. You have a broken hip, two broken legs, and a punctured lung. I need you to remain calm.”, said the nurse.

  “Please, my wife was in the car with me. I need to make sure she is OK”, said John.

  “Sir,you were the only one found at the scene of the accident. In fact the police aren’t sure what hit you as there was no trace of another vehicle on the scene. We’ve tried to contact your family but we were unable. Do you have a phone number or know the whereabouts of any family we could contact”, said the nurse.

  “I am an only child and my parents are both gone. The only family I have is my wife, Mina, who was in the car with me before the accident. You see I came home and she was lying on the floor unconscious and bleeding. I was on my way here when everything went black”, said John.

  “Sir, I’m not sure how to say this, but the police said there is no record of a wife. They even checked your apartment and there is no evidence of your wife, not even a photograph”, said the nurse.

  “That’s impossible!”, shouted John.

  “Sir, calm down. I am only trying to help. Can you tell me anything else”, said the nurse as she prepared a sedative.

  Well there was a break in, maybe her things were stolen. Maybe she is lost and has amnesia. For the love of God, please find my wife!”, exclaimed John as he began to panic. The nurse injected him. Soon everything went black again.

  The clock hand struck 6:48am. John kneeled over the young woman in his bed, he was going to go for it. The moment of truth was upon him. He carefully grabbed her by the shoulder and rolled her on her back. He couldn’t believe his eyes.

  It was Mina. It was Mina exactly as he had remembered. She looked exactly the same as she did 25 years ago. She opened her eyes and smiled.

  “How could this be! How…”, said John.

  “It’s OK, you’re with me know. I saved you”, interrupted Mina in a sort of soft calming voice as she reached to John for an embrace. In shock, he fell to the ground facing the mirrored bifold doors next to the bed. He looked up to face his reflection in the mirror, but it was not there. The clock hand struck 6:49am.

Lucky red hockey sweater

Karl was an accountant by day and a hockey super fan at night. He never missed one of his team’s games, even the preseason. Tonight was the big game seven. Two bitter hockey rivals facing off to decide the championship.

Karl was passionate about hockey, but he liked to eat even more. He had his feast all lined up for the big game. There were pizza rolls, chicken nuggets, pizza, corndogs, and even nachos. He had turned his hockey rink coffee table into a buffet. This may seem like a lot of food, but Karl was a large man. At age 47, he tipped the scales at 445 lbs. and stood 6’ 3” tall.

The game was as exciting and filled with drama. The overtime period had come to an end and the teams were still tied. There was going to be a shootout to decide.

“Laplante winds up, and shoots! …” screamed the announcer as the telecast was cut off and went to white static. Karl tried to stand in dismay, but that is when it all went black.

The cushy, tan chair and that had supported Karl in the upright position for the last eighteen hours was slowly causing his backside to grow sore. His sweatpants were filled with human waste as he couldn’t stand to use the bathroom. The chafing had festered into deterioration of the skin surrounding his genitals. He stared straight ahead at the white static on the television screen. He didn’t move, he couldn’t. The sweat dripped off of his furrowed brow and saturated his lucky red hockey sweater. It wasn’t too hot that day, but old widow Dietrich from downstairs liked to blast her thermostat. She could never get warm enough. Granted, she was easily 90 or so, but boy she liked it hot. Unfortunately for Karl, heat rises. He would open the windows, but he couldn’t move. His legs felt as heavy as two concrete pillars and his spine was equally as stiff. Karl could barely wipe the sweat from his own brow or stroke his cat that was curled up in a ball on his lap.

Jonesy, his cat, purred and purred as Karl stroked his calico fur. Thoughts of despair flashed through his mind, but Jonesy helped him stay calm. Suddenly, there was a pounding at his apartment door.

Karl slowly turned his head toward the noise and tried to speak, but nothing came out. All he could do was lightly moan. The pounding continued. A lump grew in Karl’s throat as he attempted to gather enough saliva to try and speak again. It took a while as the dehydration had diminished his voice. His throat was so dry that every time he tried to speak a word, he felt as though he had swallowed a handful razor blades.

The pounding grew louder. This time it startled Jonesy as he hopped down from Karl and took shelter under the hockey rink coffee table in the center of the room. Karl tried to move, but the stiffness and pain was overwhelming. Using what he thought was everything he had left, Karl reached for the remote control to his assisted lift chair and pressed the “up” button. The pounding was now as loud as ever. “There must be multiple people out there”, thought Karl as the assist chair allowed him to stand for the first time in eighteen hours. Unfortunately, he quickly collapsed onto the floor and cracked his head on the coffee table and rendered him momentarily unconscious. When he came to, he was face to face with Jonesy who was feasting on the plate of pizza rolls that Karl had dropped during the game.

Moments later, Karl stood at old widow Dietrich’s door, slowly pounding and moaning with his head pressed tightly against the handmade welcome sign that her grandson hade made for her in woodshop class. Blood from his forehead spilled out onto the walnut stained “E” on the welcome sign

“Just a minute… I’m an old woman!” shouted widow Dietrich as she hiked up her green plaid house dress and shuffled to the door in her ratty pink slippers.

Old widow Dietrich looked through her peep hole, but all she could see was Karl’s red hockey sweater. She opened each of her ten different locks while grumbling about how cold she was and how everyone upstairs was stealing her heat. As she opened the last of the locks, she slowly turned the knob and opened the door to see the most horrific scene of her life. There were body parts and blood strewn all over the hallway.

Two feet in front of her stood an undead Karl gorging himself on calico fur and flesh. Karl looked up from the mangled corpse of Jonesy with yellow bloodshot eyes and lunged for widow Dietrich.

The explosion that followed was fast and hot. It evaporated everything and everyone in its path.

                                  -the end-

 

 

Facade

 I recant to you this story in hopes that whoever reads this can help me:

   My mind was broken, there was nothing I could do. My energy low and my body was paying the price. As I sat staring into space. I couldn’t help but think I was dying. I was staring blankly at the television and computer screens. My mind had lapses. One second it was 8am and in a blink it was 5pm. It was like my clock was mocking me. Dirty, miserable, fucking clock! This has been happening for years. My life was withering away and the atrophy in my brain was equalling the atrophy in my body. I could barely move.

  I guess you could say I was on the verge of slipping into a coma and I didn’t see a way to stop it. Then it happened. I mustered the energy to fit the noose around my neck and tie it to the beam in my garage. This was it, I was going to end this train wreck of a life. As I kicked the chair from beneath my feet and the noose tightened like a boa constrictor, a small metal object protruded from my neck and fell to the ground. It was small and shiny, like a metal sliver or microchip. The force of the noose squeezing the life out of me, ejected it. Instantly I felt relief. I could think, I could breathe, I could move. All of my senses were heightened. I wanted to live! I grabbed the rope from above my head and pulled myself up and cut myself down. I immediately fell to my knees and began to cry. As the tears of joy fell from my face to the floor, the realization that I had just cheated death began to sink in. I was going to go see my family, live life to the fullest! I was going to do all of the things that I’ve always wanted to do. “I’m alive!”, I screamed.

  Wait, what was this chip in my neck? What was it and how did it get there? Why did I feel relief. Was it possible that someone or something had implanted it there to control me and keep me in that comatose state?

   I was ready to take on the world and find out what had happened. Who would do this to me? I wanted answers and I wanted them now! I went to open my front door when it all went black.

  The next thing I know, I was lying on some sort of an operating table. I had no idea where I was. I appeared to be in some sort of hospital. The equipment looked unfamiliar. I couldn’t move. I was paralyzed. I looked up and I saw several really tall humanoid looking creatures with their backs to me. They appeared to be in some sort of heated discussion, but I couldn’t understand the language they were speaking. I was afraid. What were they going to do to me. What about my family?

  The humanoids turned to face me and appeared to be showing me some sort of 3d picture of a hideous green alien with huge black eyes, a giant hairless head and long skinny appendages. I still couldn’t understand them. It was weird, the alien in the 3d picture was moving and mimicking my movements. Then it hit me, that was no picture, It was a mirror. I was and currently still am the alien. The silver chip contained false memories of what I thought was my entire life.

   I am writing this story from my cell. Please help me. I have no idea who I really am, how I got here. or what is real. I am trapped. Who or what am I? Please help!