Friday, July 20, 2018

Everyday For A Month: Day 18


Womp. Womp. Womp. 

That's how it started. Everyone in the world could hear it, I think. And if they didn't actually hear it, then they felt the vibrations associated with it.

Womp. Womp. Womp. 

A sound so loud, it became hard to breathe. Like the noise was vibrating the air and making it impossible to suck into your lungs. 
When you hear something that loud. That big. It makes your heart drop into your stomach. The tips of your fingers tingle. You start to shake and contemplate what it is to die. To stop existing.

And where would I be at the beginning of the end of world? Delivering groceries to an asshat named Brad. Which is kinda funny because my name is also Brad. Except for when I deliver groceries to Brad, then my given name morphs to Other Brad. 

I hate my job.

So I knocked on the door and Cool Brad (his idea, not mine) answers. Of course he's shirtless. As if to remind me of my own bony chest and he says: “Sup Shitty Brad.”
Ah, so I've devolved to Shitty Brad.
Beautiful. Just what I needed today.

Before I could respond, he ripped the milk from the bag in my hands, opened it and took a huge swig. White liquid dribbled down his chin. 

“I didn't order milk, but I guess I've got some now.”
I sat the bag down and pulled out my card reader. 
“$42.26.” I said with zero enthusiasm. 
“I'll owe ya.” He snickered.
“No, you gotta pay now, or I'll have to take the groceries with me.”
He smiled. Cool Brad sucked.
“Nope. KiKi wants ‘em, so they stay.”
“No.” I parroted. “Pay, or no groceries.” I shoved my card reader at him like a badge.
He shoved it back. “Fuck off, Shitty Brad.” He grabbed the bag from the ground and started to close his door in my face. My inner monologue was screaming something like: ‘No no no no!’

Womp. Womp. Womp. 

We both looked to the sky. (That's where it was coming from). It was so loud, Cool Brad dropped his stolen groceries and a head of lettuce rolled down his front walkway. 

Womp. Womp. Womp. 

A shadow passed overhead. My initial thought was that night must have come early, but it was only 4:15 in the afternoon.

“What the---”

And then we saw it. A huge beast. The legs of an octopus spinning in the air above its bulbous, veiny body like the blades of a helicopter. Blades made of fat, gargantuan tentacles. I scrambled away from Cool Brad’s front door, my eyes wide, my heart racing a hundred miles a minute in my chest. The tips of my fingers were so numb and tingly I thought the shock of seeing such an imposing alien craft might give me a heart attack right then and there. I abandoned my card reader on Cool Brad’s front lawn, turned tail and ran for my life. I was just passing his mailbox when I heard him slam his front door so hard, it knocked the porch lamp of its hanger.

Okay, How can I explain how big this thing was to you?

Lemme see. 

If you could, close your eyes and envision the Michigan Stadium floating overhead. Maybe that’s not big enough, but you get the picture. All I know is when I hopped in my little Toyota pickup truck, I wasn’t paying attention to the road as much as I should’ve been. I was too busy looking up… into the belly… or the head (I’m still not sure which) of this massive monster that moved like a helicopter, but looked like an octopus. 

An octocopter. Yes. That's what I'll call it. That makes sense. Nothing else does.

I stopped at the four way at the end of Cool Brad's street and my engine went dead. 

“No!” My hands shook so bad, the keys rattled in my hands. My tried-and-true truck restarting method to remove the keys and put them back didn't work. My truck wouldn't crank. I was on the verge of a full mental freak out, when an old man knocked on the driver's side window. I screamed, and possibly wet myself a little before yelling “What!” like an asshole.

“Get off the streets!” was his muffled reply. I cranked the window down and he repeated himself. “Get off the streets! They're shooting at us.” 

As if on cue, a huge bang followed by a bassy rumble brought my attention back to the octocopter above. 

Their ‘ammo’ was black ink, because why not? I mean, what else would giant octopus-like helicopters shoot if not ink? Only, the ink was toxic. When it hit the ground, it spread.

A huge blob of it smacked into the road about 30 ft in front of me. The tar-like black goo splashed to the concrete from above with more force than I imagined it'd have. When the liquid hit the tarmac it spread and rolled out sizzling as it went. 

“Run!” Said the old guy at the side of my window, and he did. He took off in a flash of gray-black beard and bright orange wind pants.

I didn't have time to leave the truck, but it was a good thing I didn't. The tar/ ink swept over the road. Trees on the sidewalk fizzled and burned, sinking into bubbling blackness. They withered and died like plastic in heat. The tires on my truck popped and I lurched downward when they did.

I grabbed my cellphone off the seat and opened the latched window behind me. 

Thank God I'm a scrawny guy. I squeezed myself through the back window and tumbled into the truck bed. Ink sluiced across the pavement burning and singeing everything it touched.

This was a nightmare. 

I saw an opening on the sidewalk and jumped to a safe spot. As soon as my Keds hit the pavement, I ran for my life. The ink followed me until it finally lost momentum and solidified a few yards behind me.

“This way!” The old man yelled. I spotted his orange britches from across the street. I hoped he had a plan, because I didn't.

Sprinting towards him, I followed as he ran through a yard, nearly tipping over a birdbath when he took a corner. I dodged it and tailed him into an alleyway between two houses. He stopped under an awning in someone's back yard, turned to me and said: “It's all over the news. Everyone is heading to their basements. We're going to try to wait it out. You're welcome to wait with us, for now, if you want.”

That was nice of him. I mean, Earth was being invaded by helicopter aliens that spit black ink at the ground, but hospitality wasn't dead. It was comforting.

I nodded. 

He led the way to his basement shelter. In hindsight, I should've taken one good look at that guy's britches and said 'no thanks’. But what can ya do? Live and learn, I guess. It's the only option if you think about it.

The first thirty minutes or so in the basement, we all just hovered on hands and knees, close to the floor. Every noise that came from outside was heart attack worthy. Some sounds I’d never heard before. Others were familiar. Splashes of alien ink as it hit the ground and burned everything in its path, screams of people getting caught in the black goo. 

Down in the basement, there were five of us. 

The man in the orange wind pants, whose name was Henry, three ladies, and little old me (Shitty Brad, if you prefer). The ladies were all about my age. Early twenties. We’d been huddling in the dark for about twenty minutes watching a captioned version of the news on a battery operated TV (which I never even knew existed) when I realized whatever was going on in this basement wasn’t right. 

None of the girls talked to me. They barely even looked at me, they all the squeezed together and tucked their knees into their chests. Henry walked around the room, glancing at the boob tube, muttering to himself every few minutes. 

My first clue that I’d made a mistake when I took Henry up on his offer was the second time I tried to talk to the ladies. They ignored me. They seemed too scared to speak to me, but then again, we were in the middle of being invaded by aliens… But one of them put her finger to her lips and shook her head ‘no’ while staring at me with wide green eyes. She was the brave one. Then she looked at Henry. 

That's when it dawned on me; the true scope of what I’d waltzed into. These women weren’t here of their own volition. They were dirty. None of them were wearing shoes. Their clothes were torn and tattered. I sat silently in the half-light of a dirty basement as my faith in humanity wanned. 

“I knew this was coming.” Henry whispered. “Said so for years.”
“You knew about the octocopters?” I asked tentatively. It was settling down outside. Things were getting more and more quiet as time ticked by.  

Henry nodded.

“I knew something was coming for us. I told them. I told ‘em, come down here where it’s safe and wait.” He motioned at the women.
“How long have y’all been down here?”
“A few months? I don’t know, I lose track. Maybe a year?”
“Jesus.” I whispered under my breath. 

In a dirty corner, there were rations of food; still sealed in grimy boxes. In another corner, a miasma of human waste hung in the corner and as the craziness of what was happening outside began to fade (only slightly) into the background, the weight of what was going on down here was coming to the forefront.

“I think the worst is over outside.” I said, after forty five minutes.
Henry glared at me then grinned. He was missing teeth, looking at me like he knew best. Like he was making the decisions now. Wisps of thin, white old man hair was waving around on top of his liver-spotted head as he walked from corner to corner, checking his apocalypse inventory.

I stood up. “I’m going to see what’s happening up there.” I told him. He stopped moving and turned to me.

“Sit.” Henry’s voice registered in my mind as nearly inhuman. The hair on my forearms rose.

My eyes widened. It seems like everywhere I went these days there was another Cool Brad just around the corner waiting to fuck with me. Not today.  

Rather than argue with the crazy old man, I asked if there was a restroom I could use. Of course I knew there was. Henry pointed me towards the bucket in the corner covered by a flat piece of wood in lieu of a lid. I think it used to be a cutting board. 

My bottom lip quivered in disgust, my mouth watered, gearing up to spew the contents of my stomach. I kept my shit together. For my escape plan to work, I’d need to not projectile vomit everywhere— but now that I think about it, any distraction could work, as long as I could run/ fight while simultaneously blowing chunks.

I popped my neck, ready to make my big stand and grabbed the cutting board off the top of the bucket. “Henry, this bucket is full.” I called back to him. I heard his wind pants shuffle as he made his way back towards the ‘bathroom corner’. I white knuckled my grip on the cutting board. 

This was it. This was me saving three innocent women and myself. This was me officially stealing Cool Brad’s name. Somebody else could be Shitty Brad from this day on, because after I took out ol’ Henry, I’d be in the running for Badass Brad. Fuck yeah.

When he came up behind me to check the waste level in the bucket, I popped him hard with the cutting board. Right in the face.

He went down like a ton of bricks, one of the few teeth he had left clattered to the floor. I let out a woot(!!!) of shock and astonishment that my plan had been successful. Thank sweet Jesus! I mean, if you can’t stand up for yourself during the apocalypse, then, when can you stand up for yourself, amirite?

Still unwilling to let go of the cutting board, I raced to the three women. They were still huddled in the same spot. “Let’s go.” I told them. “He’s down. Now’s the time to get out if your going.”

Green Eyes looked at me like I was speaking a forgien language. The other two were wide eyed and shaking.
“What’s the matter with you? Get up.” I croaked making for the stairs leading up and out of this basement of horrors. 

Womp. Womp. Womp.

It was close this time. So close in fact, it vibrated the stairs I was standing on. I lost my balance and the cutting board toppled out of my hand.

The basement door slammed open, but no light came from the doorway. I stumbled backwards onto the basement floor, my elbows stinging from the tumble. I crab walked my skinny ass backwards until I hit a wall.

The ladies stood up for the first time since I’d been down here.

Womp. Womp. Womp.

It was so loud, I felt my nose run. I touched a finger to a nostril. 

The girls walked in unison towards the stairs, then made a single file line as they ascended. Whatever was blocking the exit looked like an over-sized throat, pulsating and glistening as it expanded and contracted.

An octocopter was right at the basement door.

It vaguely occurred to me that Henry had mentioned ‘something would come for us’. I’d assumed he was being paranoid. I never in a million years thought he was speaking about waiting for a ‘space ride’. As in, 'Hey, I called some bros and they’ll be here at six to pick me up'.

Womp. Womp. Womp.

One girl disappeared into the mouth.
Then the second one. They walked into the throat at the top of the stairs as casually as if they’d turned a corner.

Green Eyes was last.

Just before she crossed the threshold into the maw of the octocopter, she turned and stuck her tongue out at me. Not in a sexy way, mind you. This bitch’s tongue was a tentacle, complete with suction cups and slimy bluish veins crisscrossing around them. 

Her tongue shot back down the stairs in less than a second. Snaked across the nasty basement floor and wrapped itself around my right ankle. She gave her head a jerk and started to drag me towards her.

Towards the mouth.

Oh, hell no

Obviously, I freaked the fuck out, but thank the good Lord I had the presence of mind to remember where I’d dropped the cutting board only seconds ago.

Badass Brad would not be dying today. He would not be going quietly into that dark mouth either. I snatched the shit board as I skidded across the floor. I went careening up the steps, right leg first, slamming the board down onto her tongue until she finally gave up and I tumbled back down into the basement like a skinny ragdoll.

She screamed at me, a high-pitched wail of frustration and maybe even some pain.

“Not today, bitch.” I screamed back. 

She gave me a quick hiss and turned to catch her ride. Into the mouth she went. Alone. The womping subsided, and soon the doorway led to outside again. The sun’s rays shone down the staircase. I told myself I was gonna live.

I sat there on the concrete, shit board in hand, just trying to get my heart under control. I was in the middle of wishing I really had gone to the bathroom when I'd had the chance, when I heard something rustle behind me. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a veiny tentacle heading in my direction.

I sighed. Henry was awake.

I grabbed the shit board and smiled. 

Badass Brad was at it again. 

Round Three? Comin’ right up. 

I was beginning to like this game. 


  1. Well that was a goddamn ride

    1. Woohoo! Thank you for riding,,, er, I mean reading. 🐙🚁💀 Glad you liked it! 💗

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.


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My novel, Trigram, is in the works, but in the meantime, I'll probably be working on short stories such as the ones on Wicked Shorts. (Wink)

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