Monday, November 8, 2010

Prologue: Beach Blanket Bloodbath

(Note: This is a rough draft I am noodling over. I decided to throw caution to the wind and just post it.)

I trip over the first head in the dark. Without looking down I know what it is – there’s a kind of terrible give that a severed head has that a rock or piece of wood lacks. It’s almost like a jack o’lantern, soft and meaty and full of heavy smells. I scrape my shins on a pile of twigs as I go down and my hand comes to rest in something wet. But I don’t dare move. They’re somewhere near in the woods, and coming after me. Far away I can hear the sounds of the ocean. I smell the salt on the wind. Somehow it doesn’t help.

When I’m convinced my pursuers are still a ways off, I finally click on the light of my cell and scan the ground. The head belonged to an attractive brunette woman. I believe she was a hooker, although I’m almost positive I’d never availed myself of her services. Just a few feet away there are several more heads. All of them covered with festive glitter. And hanging on a tree branch above the garish scene I notice a cloth banner decorated with more of the glitter and a single word cut out of red felt letters: PRAISE!

I’ve stumbled back to their lair. Hope leaves me.

That’s when I hear the twig snap, not twenty feet away. I fall as flat as I can, trying to squeeze myself into the ground if I can. I know what’s coming a half-second before it does – the woods around me explodes with automatic weapon fire. The dirt sprays everywhere, getting in my mouth and eyes. Branches disintegrate around me. The roar goes on forever, the sound like toothpicks in my ear… until I become disoriented and time seems to slow, and for a moment I think I am already dead. That this is how it is, how you experience your last moments, stretching out forever until you don’t notice that you’re gone. I am very, very tired. I’ve been running for hours. I’m certain these people will close in soon and kill me. And in this moment I feel small and weak, and I don’t care anymore. It will be a relief to die, I realize for the first time in my life. If it weren’t for Peg and her daughter, lost somewhere in the dark, I would just give up now. But I can’t.

The gunfire stops. There is silence as the birds and animals hold their breath and even the wind seems to stop. Then an inconceivable sound. For a few long moments I can’t believe it’s happening. But it’s impossible to deny.

You just call out my name… And you know wherever I am…

Is that a guitar twanging?

I’ll come running! To see you again…

This is worse than the severed heads, or what I saw in the burnt-out remains of that store on Atlantic. Somehow this is worse than anything…

Dontcha Know that Winter, Spring, Summer, or Faaall. All you got to doo is call...
And I'll be there, yesIwill...

The sick fucks are singing James Taylor.

You've got a friend.

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