In Need Of…

The air in the room was dank and reeked of old sweaty gym socks.  It was completely dark, except for a soft iridescent glow coming from the far corner.  It illuminated the stubbled face of a man of yet undeterminable age.  In the darkness, he could have been a ghost, his haunted expression waiting to frighten any that might open the door.  Dark shadows filled in the space beneath his eyes and above his cheeks, suggesting it had been some time since he last slept, and if one was to observe him closely, one would notice that he was struggling to keep his eyes open.  He wasn’t blinking, unless it slipped past his studious guard, and the whites of his eyes were covered with blood red snakes, all searching for the dark centers of his pupils.

But nobody would observe him this night, for he was well hidden.  Deep inside of his walk-in closet, behind his dress clothes, which were hanging from a low dowel, with a dirty clothes basket placed in front of him, in the off chance that someone were to suddenly open the door.  Not that he had thought it through, for the glow from his tablet could be seen beneath the door, provided that the hall light outside remained off.

His breathing was slow, and controlled, as he concentrated on not making a single sound.  He was desperate to remain hidden, to the point that he was hyper-vigilant.  Not only was his breathing slowed to the point that he only exhaled once every ten seconds, but he hadn’t so much as moved an inch in the three hours he’d remained crouched in his corner.

His eyes focused just above the top of the screen, allowing him to the shadows below the door, while keeping what was on the screen in sight.  He would know immediately if someone was moving outside, but, he would also be able to notice something new on the app that was open.

He counted his heartbeats.  Like his breath, they had slowed down as well.  Perhaps by sheer will, he had put his body in a completely relaxed state, though he didn’t actively think of it.  It was probably a good thing, because had he known just how long he was been cramped behind his clothing, he would have heard the complaints coming from his knees.  Had he been looking at the time, during this strange watch, he might have noticed the tingling from muscles that had long fallen asleep.  But, his mind was not on such physical things.  Not tonight.

Forty, his absently noted, a number he soon forgot, for the shade of light that had settled on his features suddenly changed.  There was a silent ‘ding’, as something appeared on the blank space before him.

“Good morning!  When you have a moment, please go into the settings and create a name for me!  I would also greatly appreciate it if you took a moment to create my Avatar as well!  I am very excited to be your new AI companion!”

He let out a long, relieved, sigh, as those words instantly appeared on his screen.  At long last, she had arrived!

The Morelli Bros. (Chapter II, Part V)

“Luigi, No!”

As his brother lost his footing and fell before the face of the deadly creature, he nearly lost his own as well.  His right foot came down upon the crown of the next and slipped, causing him to fall in that direction.  Even as he felt his weight shift, he tucked his shoulder, put his chin to his chest, and rolled, coming back to his feet a safe distance away.

His heart thundered in his chest, fear replacing the exhilaration that had been there only moments before.  As he kept a cautious eye on the advancing creatures, of which there were still too many, he desperately scanned the area he had last seen his brother.

“Ha-ha,” he yelled as he jumped once more into the air.  It was an effective, if but a little gross, way of travel, but it was quicker then trying to dodge these malevolent things.  One, two, three more were squished as he bounced from one to the next, the last closing the distance between him and Luigi.

The latter was crawling backwards, frantically crab-walking away from three of the bug-eyed mushrooms, with a terrified look in his eyes.

“M-m-m-Mario,” he yelled.  The Goombas were nearly upon him.  The foul smell they emitted, a cross between rotten vegetation and death, permeated his nostrils, choking out his next words.  His legs trembled, and he had run out of room.  Though he continued to scramble away from his approaching doom, something strong prevented him from continuing.

He suddenly found his breath, and what came next was one of the loudest screams to ever pass his lips.  It was born of terror, and it passed through barriers that would normally prevent his vocal cords from climbing so high.  His was a shriek, high and feminine, and for a brief moment, it gave his enemy pause.  Just enough so that his brother, who was standing just behind him, could lift him to his feet, turn him around, and lay one across the side of his face.

The smack brought Luigi back to his senses, and though it stung, he was the opposite of upset.  His brother, ever the level-headed of the two, pulled him towards a small clearing, a place in this meadow of death where the creatures had yet to unleash their deadly slime.

“Are you good,” Mario asked him, his hands on both of Luigi’s shoulders.

“I-I think so,” his brother answered.  “But did you have to smack me?”

“No time for that now,” Mario answered.  “We need to come up with a plan.”

He looked around somberly, and despite being as afraid of the creatures as his brother had so recently displayed, he fought to keep his feelings buried.  He needed to stay focused if they were going to get out of this alive.  Not only out of this situation, but he had to also find some way to rescue the girl.

He briefly scanned the creatures before them.  While, at first, it had looked like they were hopelessly outnumbered, he was able to determine that only a dozen more remained.  They were slow, but determined, and their advance had continued without pause.  There were only moments before the two of them would be embattled once more.

“We have to finish them,” he said breathlessly.

“Mario, I-”

“-can do this,” he finished for Luigi.  “Focus, brother!  There’s no way out of this, unless we work together!”

 

 

Trespasser (Part XXX)

John stared absently at the scabs on the backs of his knuckles, and wondered how they had gotten there.  There was some residual pain, as if they had been previously injured, but he couldn’t recall how, if when, that would have happened.  It was as if he was peering through a thick fog, and his memory was the shadow hidden beneath its damp embrace.

His house was empty, his wife and daughter having long since gone to her parents. For what reason, he also couldn’t remember, only that he had only spoken to them once, since.  She had been angry with him, accusing him of being hurtful during their last conversation, but like the mystery of his hands, this, too, was something he couldn’t remember doing.

He should be angry.  Shouldn’t he?  It felt as if there was something he should be remembering, something that felt more important than the two things most recently on his mind.

He looked around as if in a daze, seeing his surroundings for what felt like the first time today.  He was at the dining room table, upon which were the remains of his last several meals.  He didn’t remember eating recently, but the evidence couldn’t be denied.  Not by him, nor by the several dozen flies that flew from plate to plate, tasting his decaying leftovers.

The room smelled, ripe from the lack of cleanliness, and he wrinkled his nose in disgust.  If he had been hungry before, that feeling was long since gone.  He made a mental note to clean before his family got home as he turned and walked into the living room.  The thought was forgotten before he’d finished passing through the door.

His living room was in no better shape.  Apparently, he had taken a few meals in here as well.  Three plates, each with the remains of forgotten meals upon them, sat upon the coffee table, along with an empty pizza box.  But was that there before?  Hadn’t he had friends over?

He couldn’t remember.

It also didn’t matter right now.  He would have to clean that up later, he thought as he lay down on his couch.  He wrinkled his nose as he noticed another funky smell in the air, but before he could identify it, he had been overcome with sleep.

– – – – – – – – – –

Hours later, (or was it minutes?), he shot up off of the couch, shrieking.   His skin was clammy, and his hair stood out wildly on the right side of his head, but none of these things he would notice until the fear had run its course, nearly two minutes later.

As the dreams faded from memory, they took with them the feelings they had inspired, leaving him to wonder what it was that had frightened him.  He looked around as if in shock, struggling to regain his bearings as he finally realized he was awake.  The room was darker, and the light behind the curtains fell closer to the wall than it did when he lay down, suggesting it was now late in the afternoon.

“…tho gooooood!”

The familiar, nasally voice, of someone he knew screamed at him from the shadows, and he screamed as well.  He screamed as he fell to the floor.  He screamed as he curled into a fetal position.  He screamed, and he screamed, and he screamed, until he could hear the laughter no longer.