Glitter in the Dark – Excerpt 2

Chapter 3 – Tomorrow

…Almost all of the channels still broadcasting show one of three available images. One depicts nothing but grey clouded sky with debris feathering from a billowing air mass. The second shows a satellite illustration of what appears to be a severe weather pattern over the Tri-State region. And the third displays a low-level aerial view of a widespread metropolitan area that has been overcome by smoke and fire. Many channels are static, and a few are still broadcasting soap operas as if today is just like any other.

The internet was frozen at work, fragmented by the time I got home, and has now leveled out to about quarter-speed. No video newscasts, no viop communications, no Skype, no nothing. Well, nothing except for a few broken audio-casts from the large conglomerate news stations and a healthy number of independent stations. Ironically, the low budget liberal and progressive stations come through loud and clear, providing well researched findings regarding the how’s and why’s of the purported attack compared to the repetitive speculation blasted through the speakers by the big boys. The how’s and why’s interest me, but Jane is on my mind – she has not made it home.

Each channel reporting the event has a live picture-within-a-picture of an empty White House press room, and each has its own frantic correspondent blurting random, unpolished reports of events occurring nation-wide: reports of cities ground to a halt as people attempt to evacuate more populated areas; reports of looting and other criminal mischief; and reports of other catastrophic events – all of which have been refuted by subsequent, evidenced reports since I got home.

There has been no official word or declaration. Our nation must be in complete chaos, yet the government hasn’t done anything!

Though, my neighborhood seems calm – dangerously calm – as if everyone is sitting quietly, like me, with their eyes and ears glued to the TV set. The reporters tell us to sit tight, but I worry about Jane. It’s almost noon, and I haven’t heard from her since she kissed me goodbye on her way to work. The phones have been jammed, and traffic was a nightmare on my way home.

I have to remind myself over and over again that her office is much farther away than mine. “Don’t panic, Tyler.” I dare not leave the house now, not now. I need to stay strong. I need to stay here! She’ll know to come straight home. She’ll come straight home. She must come home.

Or will she know? She mustn’t stop by my office first, else we would be chasing each other around town. My cell phone is getting no reception either, fucking piece of shit!

The reporters tell us to remain calm, to stay at home with our families. I peer outside expecting chaos, but there’s nothing apart from a few bare trees and a bounty of Robins occupying them. It’s another beautiful winter day – brilliant orange sun and robust blue sky. Jason hasn’t emerged from his house across the street, and the neighborhood is as quiet as one would expect on any given Monday morning. Most of the students are probably still in bed, nursing their weekend hangovers.

This cannot be happening.

This can’t be true.

One hell of a prank, I tell ya.

You fooled me this time.

The blaring TV quiets suddenly, and a balding, blue-tied staffer steps up to the microphone within the now enlarged image of the White House press room. Papers ruffle and cameras flash, but no other news is audible for a minute or two. This must be the he calm before the storm.

Chapter 12 – Prepare for War

…Dudley drops his bounty at my feet, and I kneel down to pick up the hard-rubber bone. I instruct him kindly face-to-face, “Ok, boy, just one more time.” Dudley licks the air from my lips and says nothing. He‘s such a good boy.

Glass shatters next door, and Dudley rushes to the west end of the property, kicking dust into the air as he slides to a stop. He snarls at the thick brush between my house and Carol’s.

“Dudley! Stay!” His growl intensifies.

More glass breaks on the other side, “Dudley!” My “good boy” relieves himself from my command and barrels through the witch hazel, disappearing behind swaying branches.

A male voice shrieks, “Holy shit! Get him off of me! Get him ooofff me!”

I peer around the brush to find a pair of legs hanging from Carol Jenkis’ front window. Attached to one leg near the ankle is Dudley. The man screams and kicks, but Dudley does not let go. His paws grip the soil, and he lowers his chest to the ground for more leverage – twisting his jaw for submission. Not knowing if the stranger is alone or armed, I approach cautiously and empty-handed. Dudley lunges back, pulling the man half-way out the window. I tip-toe closer as Dudley yanks the red hooded burglar onto the ground. Blood sprays the white bricks of Ms. Jenkis’ house, and the intruder palms his wound and cries for help. This fuels Dudley further. With a firm grip on the man’s leg, Dudley rolls over, forcing the stranger to roll with him. Dust rises from the melee, and the scene becomes cloudy.

“Help me! Somebody, please help me!”

If he was armed, he is no longer. If the intruder had a companion, he was not calling for him. I kick him a swiftly in the kidney, and tell Dudley to halt. Dudley loosens his grip and sits up straight. I pounce on the man’s back and pull one ankle to his ass.

The stranger cries face down into the dirt. Blood gushes though his clinched fingers. “Help me,” he cries.

Jason arrives with one hand held awkwardly behind his back. “You caught one, I see.”

“Quick, grab a towel… and some duct tape! This man needs medical attention fast!”

“But, why? He’s just a thief?”

“Dammit, Jason, just get the fucking tape!”

Jason trots across the street and disappears into his house. A few neighbors from down the way rush to my side, and one tells me that he’s already called the cops.

“Call an ambulance too.”

The kid whips out his cell phone and dials, “Yes, this is Dan Larsen, I just called a minute ago… yes… yes… we need an ambulance too… laceration.” His companions, two young hippie chicks, observe the fray from ten feet away.

“Let me help,“ Dan says calmly, “I’ve had some practice with this.”

Jason reappears with tape and towels, and Dan receives the goods without hesitation or introduction. He orders the thief to let go of his hand, “Now!”

“No, no… it hurts, it hurts!” Dust billows with each desperate syllable. The thief finally shows his face, resting one ear to the ground. Dirt outlines his nose and teeth like charcoal would on a white canvass. His eyes plead mercy.

“Let go of your hand, now!” Dan repeats himself with a confidence that I did not behold at his age.

I grab the thief’s right arm and yank it from his left. Blood squirts onto the loose soil, darkening it upon impact. Dan wraps the wound with cloth and orders Jason to hold it tight. Dan then wraps the entire hand with duct tape.

“Apply pressure!” Dan barks to Jason. “Here! Like this!”

Jason crouches near and applies pressure. We are suddenly nose-to-nose, and uncomfortable chills run down my back. I ease off the thief’s back and away from Jason’s snarl, maintaining weight on the thief’s leg from a standing position.

“Thanks for doing this, Jay… it’s the right thing to do.”

The cops didn’t even show, but an ambulance did. The medics applied a more superior bandage, and then carted him off to the hospital. We had no choice but to let him go. I wrap on Carol’s door. No answer. “Carol? Carol? Anyone home?” No Answer. We have not seen or heard from Old Lady Jenkis for weeks. For all I know, she had left town to be with children I didn’t know exist. Meanwhile, Jason kicks up dirt on the lawn and argues with Dan and his two attractive friends. “He should have faced jail time!” Jason barks eyes bulging and veins popping.

I investigate further. Carol’s broken window lays five feet off the ground, and jagged bits of glass guard the opening on all sides. I heave myself up to the sill, kicking the air until my torso rests evenly on the ledge. I balance there for a moment when I feel a warm spike on my forearm. A gash, maybe four centimeters long, coagulates on sight – and for the first time in a long time, I see my strong muscles instead of my weak arms. Sweat and dust bound my wound, accentuating my newfound youth.

I crash suddenly onto the floor, and my confidence fleets just as fast out the window. I shake myself clean and peer outside. Jason has calmed a bit, but I know him too well. He feels threatened now that he’s without control, but he’s the one who appears threatening. Dan and his lovely companions speak softly, soothing Jason with kind words. Dudley stands guard for us all in the open yard, what a good boy.

I make my way through the shadows, “Ms. Jenkis?”

Sunlight guides my search, and dust dances in my wake like snow on a winter day. “Ms. Jenkis?”

“In here, Tyler.” Carol’s soft, aging words surprise me.

“Where are you?”

“The switch is to your left… Over there. Thank you, Dear, for saving me.”

 

Next is Glitter in the Dark excerpt 3.