Lemme tell you something…

Posts tagged “House

CAT WATCH

catCAT WATCH
Copyright 2016 by E.C. McMullen Jr.

I don’t believe in magic, so what happened to us after the fire I can only chalk up to a reality I’ve never experienced, that can be rationally explained by science beyond my understanding.

The night before the fire our little house was rumbled by thunderstorms – lightening storms to be accurate I guess. It was all more electric than rain. Living in a farm house about 30 miles from our nearest neighbor and around 100 from the nearest town, we thought it was safest to stay indoors and not attempt driving to a safer place.

The next day we awoke to smoke.

Connie bounced off of the bed, her feet already moving, in air, before she touched floor. She ran to the window, throwing the curtains aside.

“Our farm’s on fire!”

Fearing the worst, we got on the roof. Everywhere we looked our fields of sorghum were ablaze. We were surrounded by fire.

Thinking fast I ran to the tractor to hitch the furrow while Connie got to the water pump and brought it to full pressure.

The fire closed the circle around us, but at a risky, yet not fool-hardy distance, I followed along the closing circumference of the ring, digging a shallow trench of dry moat around our house. Connie tossed the water hoses into the ditch. Then, all we could do was wait as the water slowly filled the moat.

Our house was the axis pin of the approaching fire, our livestock were getting fidgety, and I didn’t want them running into the fire to escape. it. Animals make weird choices in a panic so, except for the chickens, we tied all the livestock to the posts closest to the house.

Firebug embers floated overhead.

“We should have watered down the house,” Connie said.
“I know,” I answered. “One thing at a time.”

I ran to the wheelhouse where we kept all of our fire extinguisher canisters. Though a fire this large was unheard of, crop fire isn’t an unknown quantity on the farm.

The heat created a smoke typhoon, choking us, so back inside the house we went. Either the moat was going to work or it wasn’t. Whatever was going to happen now was out of our hands.

We opened our front door and the cat ran out.

I should correct myself.

At that time in our lives, “a” cat ran out, as we didn’t own a cat.

She ran out of our house, tail in the air like a question, and toward the moat and fire. Not knowing what was going on, but instinctive to me as a man born and raised on a farm, I immediately ran after it to bring her back to the relative safety of the house. You gotta save the livestock.

She ran through a still dry part of the moat and right to the fire’s edge. Where she approached – and this is what knocked me for a loop so hard I could only stop dead and stand there, jaw agape – the fire stopped, then retreated.

She slowed to a walk and instead of running toward one part of it, she walked along the edge of the ring. The fire backed away, the circle began widening. She walked the large ring around our house and the fire not only retreated, it shrank. That part makes sense to me. It already consumed the fuel of our fields behind it. It had nowhere else to go.

In an hour the approaching fire was out. In two hours the smoke stopped. In the distance, we could make out the rest of the fireline still burning as it moved outward in the opposite direction away from us and into adjacent farms. The circle widened as far as the eye could see. We became an oasis.

The cat that saved us, now our cat, sat on her haunches near one side of the burnt rim. And there she stays to this day.

She never moves away from that rim, even when it rains. And when it does rain, there’s no more lightning.

Year after year, little by little, our crop circle grows, extending further out into the char, and they grow well. That’s good because, for whatever reason, neither Connie or I can step beyond the circle of plant life and into the burnt area. It’s not like we bump against a wall. More like we try to move into the burnt ash and our bodies just won’t obey.

It’s the same with our livestock. Nothing that can walk or fly moves into the ash. Hopefully in time, the ring of plants will extend enough that the burnt circle isn’t there any more. Connie and I would love to see our friends and family again.

In the meantime, at least we’re alive.

Electricity works, but not the phones, the Internet, no communication at all. I’m glad we have so many books.

Another weird thing is our kitchen. All of our food in the cupboard never runs out. Not the flour, the rice, the coffee, nothing. It’s always full.

As for the cat, she never seems to eat. If I go out to her, she appreciates a kindly pet on the head or scratching her back a bit. She purrs, but remains at her post. She stays there at the edge of the circle, staring at the charred rim as if defying whatever is on the burnt side to confront her.

One more thing I should write down here is, we never named her. To us she’s The Cat. The Cat who came into our lives at just the right moment. Considering the circumstances, we feel we belong to her as much as she belongs to us.

Fact of the matter is, she’s the one who chose to come into our lives and she’ll be the one who chooses when to leave.

END

Story by E.C. McMullen Jr.

Art & Artist: Unknown. If you can prove you are the artist, please contact me and I’ll credit you.


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Look for my story Cedo Looked Like People, in the anthology, FEAR THE REAPER, edited by Joe Mynhardt. Available from Crystal Lake Publishing and available in Print for $12.99 or eBook for $2.99.

Also available from Crystal Lake Publishing, the film making guidebook, HORROR 201: The Silver Scream. Reap the rewards of movie making experience from the likes of Myself as well as Ray Bradbury, John Carpenter, Wes Craven, Tom Holland, Jeffrey Reddick, George A. Romero, Keith Arem, Richard Gray, and many more. $19.99 in Print or $3.99 in eBook.

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THINGS THE FIRE LEFT US

DragonSkullThe forest fire of the past week flooded to within mere yards of my backyard. I’d used a foot pump to siphon water from my pool and keep the treeline at the edge of my yard wet. It worked.

What most people don’t know about fires is, some plants endure it amazingly well. Many types of pine tree need fire as part of their breeding process.

A few days after the conflagration, I took my new girlfriend, Hope, through the smoky ruins of the forest behind my house.

Everything was damaged to some degree, though I knew by now which plants were killed and which ones would merely heal, adapt, and regrow.

We walked through the smoking, eerie aftermath of Hell.

“My God!” Hope suddenly exclaimed, and I looked to where her fear sharpened eyes were staring.

To her it must have looked like the burnt, thorny stalks of a rose bush. Except where the rose bud would be, there was miniature human skull, it’s delicate fleshy covering now burned away to bone.

Terror galloped through her voice, pulling a hayride of Horror behind it. “WHAT kind of a plant is THAT? Hope gasped.

I shrugged, “A face plant.”

RimShot

END

Photograph – I searched extensively around the Internet, but though I found many websites with this photo (Bored Panda, Pulptastic), none had – or knew – the proper credit. If you are the photographer and can prove it, I’ll link your name here.


wb2016Feeling burned by buying the wrong book? Don’t make that mistake again! Buy my book,
WILLOW BLUE.
It’s my second collection of critically acclaimed Supernatural and Drama Thriller short stories with all of the Weird Sex, True Love, Monsters and Mayhem, you’ve come to expect (or should by now). Available in paperback for $8.00 or in Kindle for only $1.99. Buy the paperback at Amazon and the Kindle eBook is free! The tales will last you longer than latte!

Want more? Buy

PERPETUAL BULLET: A Science Fiction Collection.
It’s a veritable trove of previously published Science Fiction Horror Thriller tales – plus bonus stories
Featuring: Weird Sex, True Love, Monsters and Mayhem!
Now on sale for $9.00 in Trade Paperback and in eBook for $1.99 and available for your Android Tablet, iPad, Kindle, Nook, and every other “E”!
Find it at (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Diesel, !ndigo, iTunes, KoboBooks, Smashwords, WHSmith, and more).
Buy the paperback at Amazon and the Kindle eBook is free!

Crave still more?

Look for my story Cedo Looked Like People, in the anthology, FEAR THE REAPER, edited by Joe Mynhardt. Available from Crystal Lake Publishing and available in Print for $12.99 or eBook for $2.99.

Also available from Crystal Lake Publishing, the film making guidebook, HORROR 201: The Silver Scream. Reap the rewards of movie making experience from the likes of Myself, as well as  John Carpenter, Tom Holland, Jeffrey Reddick, George A. Romero, Keith Arem, Richard Gray, also the late  Ray Bradbury, Wes Craven, plus many more. $19.99 in Print or $3.99 in eBook.


THE WHEEL

TheGarden

Art by Aron Wiesenfeld

THE WHEEL
by E.C. McMullen Jr.
Copyright 2013

Morning in our kitchen and my big sister Leni was talking futility again.

No one takes her seriously. Mom ignored her and Pop taunted her.

“Ah, the morning’s teen angst!” he mocked theatrically, filling his to-go cup. “What would we do without our Daily. Drama. Dour. Jour?

Mom and Pop shared a warm hug and a kiss. Then Pop gave Grandma a kiss on the cheek, which she leaned into. Scowling Leni got a quick kiss on top of her head, which she shook off.

Pop noticed but in good-nature, took no offense. “She casts aside my affections. Oh, the ta-ragedy of it all!” he wailed, giving me a quick wink and a nod as he walked out the door. His voice trailed back to us, “If ennui wants me, I’ll be at work.”

“Dad!” Leni groused, “You’re such a-!” But Pop was already gone and the door closed.

Leni turned her attention back to the news and deeply sighed. “Nobody understands the hopelessness of the Suicider.” (I was pretty sure she made that word up). Leni shook her head sadly, murmuring. “Eight story fall. Imagine such hopelessness.”

“Such drama,” Grandma scoffed. “Suicide is only for attention.”

Outraged in a snap, my sister nearly shouted, “Attention? You think people kill themselves for attention? That is so crue-”

“Why else would they leave a note?” Grandma posed, unfluttered by Leni’s anger.

Leni’s open mouth huffed in shock, but said nothing.

“But Grandma,” I said, as I was only eight years old then, “How can anyone kill themselves if they don’t commit suicide?”

Asking Grandma anything required patience. Grandma was forever measuring her words and reconsidering them. Her answers were slow and punctuated by thoughtful pauses. Pop said Grandma spoke in ellipses.

“Everyone knows the way,” Grandma said, then turned her head as if in realization. “They know … how to get there,” she explored the thought. A glint of revelation came to her eyes. “Although… they often don’t know when they’ve arrived.”

Grandma blinked, surprised by her epiphany. “So I’ll tell you,” she said.

“Whether you live near a paved street, a dirt road, or just a path, it’s the same. You merely step out of your house at night, and walk to the end of the road.

Take the steps up to the House That Isn’t There. On the other side of a row of trees, you’ll find the -”

“Trees?” Leni snippily interrupted. “Well what if you live in a desert? Or the city?”

“Or just somewhere with no trees?” I added.

“Like Iceland!” Leni erupted. “They have no trees in Iceland!”

“There will always be the line of trees,” Grandma answered. “They are the borderland between you and your destiny. On the other side of the trees, the giant wheel will appear and wait for you.”

Leni was rudely incredulous. “A wheel?”

“What kind of wheel?” I asked.

“The kind you ride,” Grandma intoned.

“Like a Merry-Go-Round?” I asked hopefully.

“Or a Ferris Wheel?” Leni burst in unexpected enthusiasm.

“Either, or something else,” Grandma said. “It will be your wheel.”

“Why a wheel?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” Grandma shrugged. “The wheel was the first machine human hands ever made. Hm.”

She turned the answer over in her mind. “Some say machines will replace us. Maybe there is something to the idea that… our own creations deliver us to…” Grandma trailed off, then threw up her hands. “Whatever is next.”

“So you see the wheel. Then what?” Leni asked, now caught up in Grandma’s tale.

“You have a choice. You pass between the trees and take your seat on the wheel, or you don’t.”

Mom stopped her puttering to listen to Grandma and it seemed in that moment, as if  silence physically stood in the room with us, blocking all sound but our own.

“And if you do?” my sister asked quietly.

“If you do, the wheel will turn and take you around, but when your place on the wheel returns, you won’t be in it.”

“Where will-”

“I don’t know where you’ll be, but nobody will ever see you again.”

My sister and I thought about this.

“Wow.” I said in hushed awe.

Leni’s face crinkled up.

“Wait a minute,” she asked, all sneer and sarcasm. “How do you know this?”

Grandma’s eyes looked past us far away to a place we could never go.

“When I was a child, I shared a room with my big sister, Lise. She was never a happy girl, but in her last week, Lise was … different in a way I was too young to understand. It made me uncomfortable and I didn’t sleep well.

One night, Lise got out of bed and, in her nightclothes, walked out of our room, down the hall, down the stairs, and out our front door.”

“I put on my slippers and hurried after her. I nearly caught up, then checked myself. Something about the way she moved kept me back. She moved …  she was …” Grandma searched for the word, then used one of Leni’s. “Ethereal. So I followed apace.”

“Followed a-what?” I asked.

“I followed a ways behind her,” Grandma said. “I was only nine and wearing bedroom slippers, so I felt every pebble, acorn, and twig beneath my feet. But Lise walked so lightly, nearly floating. It was almost hypnotic. My, we walked such a long, lonely way in that cold night. So long I started to wonder if the sun would ever rise.”

“Finally we came to the end of the street. Three stone steps led up from the walk to a House That Wasn’t There. Everything was there for a house. A mailbox, empty property, a barren square for a foundation, even a street lamp to light the house number. But no house.”

“My sister walked up the three steps and, just as she entered the place where the house should be, a circus wheel,” Grandma nodded to Leni, “like a Ferris Wheel, rose up from behind a row of trees. Then it did nothing else but tower over us, waiting, and my sister walked toward it.”

Grandma paused again, remembering the moment. “I felt a dreadful finality about that wheel. When Lise vanished from view, I was suddenly so frightened for her. So scared that I broke from my trance shouting, “Lise!”

No answer.

I hurried cautiously, staring up at that oppressive thing as I neared it. What kind of grown-up would operate such a thing? Who would I meet? And what would he do? Then the Wheel seemed to breathe a sad, rusty sigh, and turned.

I was certain what that meant: Lise was riding that awful thing! I broke into a run, between the trees, shouting “Lise! No!” and arrived just in time to see the big wheel rise her up and away into the dark night.

I stood there helpless, watching the Wheel turn, my sister growing smaller as she slowly rose high up, to the top, and eclipsed the moon.

The moon was so bright I blinked in its glare. I waited for my sister to circle back. As small as I was, I was determined to take her hand and pull her away from this terrible place. But when her chair returned it was empty. Only the prints of her feet remained on the footboard.”

“So what did you do?” my sister asked quietly, once more captivated by Grandma’s story.

“Frightened and alone, I ran home crying, losing my slippers behind me. I ran all the way back down that long, lonely street in the night. Even with such a great distance again, the sun never rose and the moon never moved. And because I was by myself and the night was strange, I thought I must surely be lost.”

“But just as I felt I would never find my way back, I recognized the houses on our street, and ran all the way to our home, back upstairs to our bedroom, and just as I did, I woke up in the daylight and my Mother’s arms.”

“Huh?” I blinked.

“Oh,” Leni said, disappointed. “It was only a dream.”

“The sun rose after all and all was light,” Grandma continued. “My Mother held me… crying on my head… while father and our doctor carried Lise’s body from the room.”

My sister opened her mouth to speak, or maybe it just opened by itself, but no sound came out. Leni only stared as her eyes went wet.

END

Story by E.C. McMullen Jr.

Art: The Garden, by Aron Wiesenfeld. Find aron.wiesenfeld at Facebook.


wb2016Find yourself going in circles? Buy my book,
WILLOW BLUE.
It’s my second collection of critically acclaimed Supernatural and Drama Thriller short stories with all of the Weird Sex, True Love, Monsters and Mayhem, you’ve come to expect (or should by now). Available in paperback for $8.00 or in Kindle for only $1.99. Buy the paperback at Amazon and the Kindle eBook is free! The tales will last you longer than latte!

Want more? Buy

PERPETUAL BULLET: A Science Fiction Collection.
It’s a veritable trove of previously published Science Fiction Horror Thriller tales – plus bonus stories
Featuring: Weird Sex, True Love, Monsters and Mayhem!
Now on sale for $9.00 in Trade Paperback and in eBook for $1.99 and available for your Android Tablet, iPad, Kindle, Nook, and every other “E”!
Find it at (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Diesel, !ndigo, iTunes, KoboBooks, Smashwords, WHSmith, and more).
Buy the paperback at Amazon and the Kindle eBook is free!

Crave still more?

Look for my story Cedo Looked Like People, in the anthology, FEAR THE REAPER, edited by Joe Mynhardt. Available from Crystal Lake Publishing and available in Print for $12.99 or eBook for $2.99.

Also available from Crystal Lake Publishing, the film making guidebook, HORROR 201: The Silver Scream. Reap the rewards of movie making experience from the likes of Myself, as well as  John Carpenter, Tom Holland, Jeffrey Reddick, George A. Romero, Keith Arem, Richard Gray, also the late  Ray Bradbury, Wes Craven, plus many more. $19.99 in Print or $3.99 in eBook.