Wednesday, October 22, 2008

warren's story


as i struggle to get over this cold and back into gear after the show, it looks like i'm going to have to put off the details of the first screaming tiki comic con until next week. sorry, but thanks so much for your patience...!


if you don't read johanna draper carlson's COMICS WORTH READING, then you're doing yourself an injustice. the whole blog covers all manner of reviews and commentary on just about every aspect of entertainment! yes, johanna is a friend of ours and the perhapanauts and my blog, and she IS married to our other friend and frequent contributor, kc carlson, but even with all that, you should really be checking it out!

also, she was kind enough to review perhapanauts 3 and 4 on her latest, so get on over there and check it out!


and here's today's scary story contest entry, from our pal, warren newsom...

Daisy Was a Good Dog
By Warren Thomas Newsom

I’m standing here where our home used to be and I’m looking at stars.

When we first got married, we lived in town, but when my great-uncle got too old and feeble to live alone, we got offered his house in the country. It didn’t take too much talking to convince Annie, my wife, to move the family out to the boonies.

It was a nice, little two-bedroom house, and while our kids, Jacob and Missy had to share a room, they were still little enough to do so and there would be space enough to build on a room later when they got big enough to need to be separated. As little as the house was on the inside, there was plenty of space on the outside; surrounded by woods with a long dirt drive that connected us to the highway. We were finally able to get the kids a dog.

Daisy was a good dog, a big golden lab-shepherd mix. We got her for the cost of a checkup and shots at the animal shelter. I don’t think you could find a gentler dog than Daisy. She never barked unless something came into the yard that didn’t belong there. If a strange car came rolling up the driveway, we’d know. One time a couple of hunters who’d lost direction came strolling out of the woods. Daisy let us know we had company, and when we went out to see who she was barking at, she’d had them penned up against our storage shed, just barking away – never threatened to bite them, just barking. If a stray dog or a bobcat or some other animal that was big enough to hurt one of the children got in our yard, Daisy would send them running.

Daisy was a good dog.

I wish everything could have stayed the like that -- perfect. I wish we could have lived out there the rest of our lives, let the children grow up and me and Annie grow old. But then the sky comes falling on you and nothing’s the same again.

When you live out in the middle of nowhere, you can see the stars really good on a clear night. Some nights I’d go out after supper to smoke a cigarette and look up at all the thousands and thousands of twinkling lights up there. I didn’t know the names of them, but I knew them. It gave me a feeling of being a small part of something huge in a way that an entire childhood of Sunday school and preaching hour had never done.

Two weeks ago, on a particular crisp October night, I saw a light in the sky. It was almost straight up when I first saw it, and crossed the sky quick like meteor, only it wasn’t a meteor. It wasn’t an airplane either. Or a satellite. I had seen all of those things and this light wasn’t any of them. For one thing, it pulsed – not blinked like airplane lights, pulsed – getting brighter and then dimmer and brighter and dimmer. And when it did that, with every pulse, it would change color. Red. White. Green. White. Blue. White. Just like that, changing to white between the other colors. It was getting bigger too, like as it crossed the sky, it was coming downward.

I yelled for Annie, but by the time she got out there, it had disappeared behind the tree line.

“What did you see?” I remember her asking.

I told her it was just a shooting star. When she asked me if I had made a wish on it, I told her I’d forgot.

“Too bad,” she said, “Wasted that one.”

I didn’t talk about it the next day. I just laughed when, at breakfast, Annie told the kids that I had wasted a perfectly good shooting star wish. It was a fake laugh though, and I think Annie sensed it. The UFO (that’s what it was in my mind anyway) had left me with an uneasy feeling. I went to work and tried to get it out of my mind, but it was all I could think of.

I wound up asking to leave early so I could meet Jacob and Missy where they get off the school bus and drive them down the driveway to the house. Annie was already standing there when I pulled up, Daisy by her side. She said Daisy had been nervous all day, barking at the woods and pacing around the edge of the yard. When the bus dropped the children off, they all got in the car; wife, kids, dog, and I drove them to the house.

Things seemed calm then. Daisy didn’t go back to pacing the yard and barking. She came in with us and stayed inside, and lay on the floor in the kitchen where the kids did their homework and Annie cooked supper. Nobody was real talkative, but I thought maybe everybody was tired. Or maybe it was just that time of year, with summer over and winter coming on. But that wasn’t why we were quiet. We were quiet because Daisy was listening.

Sometime after midnight I woke up to Daisy barking at the back door. I ran through the house to see what had stirred her up so much. She was scratching at the back door and whimpering when she wasn’t barking. I knelt down beside her and tried to calm her down. When she got quiet for a moment, that’s when I heard it.

There was a whistling. That’s the only way to describe it. It wasn’t like a tea-kettle, but it wasn’t like someone whistling a tune either. It didn’t waver in tone. It didn’t rise and fall. It didn’t fade out. It was constant. But somehow, it didn’t seem like it was coming from a machine or something like that. It sounded like something alive was making that noise. That’s the only way I can describe it – something alive was making that sound.

Daisy got all excited again and tore away from me, attacking the back door with her teeth and claws.

By this time Annie was there too and when I reached for the doorknob, she said, “No! Don’t let her out!”

But I didn’t see no other way. Daisy was going to get out that door even if she had to tear it down. I opened the door.

She dashed across the yard to the woods with me following behind as fast as I could. The whistling seemed even louder now, filling my ears so that I could barely hear my dog. I stayed with her right up to the edge of the woods, and then before I knew it, she had disappeared into the thick underbrush. I heard her tear her way through the honeysuckle and kudzu, her bark booming the whole way, and that damned whistling over and above it all, seeming to come from everywhere at once now.

Then things went silent. The whistling stopped. I couldn’t hear Daisy either.

I turned to see Annie standing on the back porch and the kids looking at me out the screen door.

“Send them kids back to bed,” I said, “and go get the gun.”

You hear it said all the time, “the silence was deafening.” I’m here to tell you that ain’t just an old saying. The only sound was my own breathing. It seemed right then that the rest of the world had disappeared, just up and gone, and I was the only one left.

When I heard the sound of something crunching its way through the woods toward me, it was a relief. Then I realized that it might not be my dog that came running out to me – it might be the whistler. I stood my ground, and when I definitely heard the sound of paws pounding the ground, it was a sweet sound.

“Daisy!” I shouted when she came out from the brush. I threw my arms wide and knelt down to hug our hero who had protected us from the Unknown. Looking back, that was the wrong thing to do.

She didn’t slow down, and as she bowled me over I knew something was wrong. Before I could get away, Daisy had me pinned down. She was growling now, and her eyes were rolling wild with way too much of the whites showing. I tried to push her off, but she was strong – too strong. All I could do was try to protect my face and neck. Her jaws clamped shut on my arm and I screamed. It hurt like hell when she wrenched a chunk out of it.

Daisy’s jaws opened wide. Her teeth came down across my face. I could feel them sinking into my cheeks. She was going to kill me and there was nothing I could do to stop her.

I should have closed my eyes. Anybody else would have. I could have closed my eyes and then maybe the universe would still make sense to me. But I didn’t. I kept them open and when I looked between those jaws into her maw…

… I saw stars.

I know. It sounds insane. It would make things easier if I was crazy.

I saw stars. Not the stars I knew. Not the ones that filled me with wonder. No, these were strange stars. Stars that didn’t belong in the same creation with the night sky I had loved to look at. For a moment, I could feel them pulling me to them.

The sharp sound of my old thirty-ought-six rifle pulled me back to earth. Daisy left me and darted toward where Annie was on the porch. Annie fired again. Daisy fell in mid-leap and never moved again.

We buried her that night at the edge of the back yard. Annie wanted to get me to the emergency room, but I’d have none of that. She did most of the digging and together we lifted Daisy and carried her to her grave. The kids watched the whole thing from their bedroom window. I didn’t tell them about what I’d saw.

When the sun came up, I finally let Annie take me to the doctor. The kids came with us. Didn’t see no point in sending them to school after a sleepless night. After my 800-and-something stitches, we went to Annie’s folks to stay. Annie, Jacob, and Missy all decided they didn’t want to go back home. Ever.

I just came here to start getting our stuff out. But it’s gone. The house is gone. Where it used to be there’s a deep sink hole, and down at the bottom…

I’m standing here where our home used to be and I’m looking at stars.


thanks, warren!

gotta go!
smell ya later!


~ Wendy ~ said...

Warren you are an excellent story teller.. I was at the edge of my chair .. scared to read the next word.. wanting to close my eyes when daisy came bounding back but knew if I did that I, well, wouldn't be able to keep reading now would I? lol
GREAT! Story! I'll never look at the stars the same way again.

Todd - hope you feel better soon my friend.

Brian said...

Great tale Warren.

This is going to be a tough one for the judges.

Anonymous said...

Very cool story Warren.