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Adam-Beilgard
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Madness Sep. 23rd, 2012 @ 09:30 PM Reply

Back in the day (like, last year, even) there was a prize for literature on special days. Since we just saw Madness Day come and go, and as far as I can see, there was no prize for stories this year - I'll submit mine here. This was something I worked on a long time ago in anticipation of Madness Day. My muse was early and when creativity visits you, you have to strike whilst the iron burns hot.

So I've been sitting on this for a while, may as well get some mileage out of it.

Enjoy.

Or don't - I can't tell you what to do.


...the four right chords can make me cry
Some mellow jazz

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Adam-Beilgard
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Response to Madness Sep. 23rd, 2012 @ 09:32 PM Reply

He wanted to cry. He had never WANTED to cry before, not once in his life that he could remember. It always just happened. But now, that's all he could think of - wanting to cry, and being unable to. Not now. Not when his dad needed him most to be a big boy. Not when he needed his dad most to be the hero. The comforter. The one who made the bad guys go away at night.

But they wouldn't go away.

And so he sat hunched, in silence, looking at his father, the strongest man he'd known for the last seven years. A man who, right now, couldn't even face his own son. So the boy looked on with pleading eyes that fell on blindness in the dark.

Every now and again, his teeth would chatter. He'd clench his jaw tight, not because it made too much noise, but because if his lower lip quivered any more, he'd be unable to keep from crying and they would hear him. They would hear him and find him and his father there, where they'd been for what felt like two days.

It was hard to tell exactly how much time had passed since they made their way to safety. Neither one slept for more than a few minutes at a time, and the only light he could see hummed and lightly flickered from the other room, like most old fluorescents do.

Like the ones the boy would stare at during school. Tuning out the rest of the world until the bell rang for recess. Waiting to see if he could catch it the next time it skipped and flittered - like a staring contest that he would always lose. This light didn't offer any escape. Its hum became a buzz that became a siren in his ears. The unpredictable flickering was not like a whimsical fairy darting about anymore, it had become an aggressor. A dog at the end of his leash, randomly, desperatley lashing out.

His teeth chattered again.

The cold had seeped halfway up his shirt. The runoff was up past his ankles and clung to anything it could grab, refusing to let go, basting his skin. His father was able to stay relatively dry. The wastewater barely touched the tops of his boots. Whatever luxury his size afforded in keeping him off the floor was quickly forgotten by the ceiling. Perpetually hunched, he was forced to take as little space as possible. Only one of two things he could actually do for his son at this time.

The son he couldn't bring himself to look at.

What started as a flood of uncontrolled thoughts churning, whirlpooling in the boy's head slowly fell into the wadepool of sewage below him. Only one thought remained. Why? Why had these men come for them? Why couldn't it have been someone else? Why hadn't they left yet? He coudn't bring himself to face the answers, so the question of why perched on his mind like a drop of water on the windshield. Slowly, sometimes jauntily dripping down, collecting with other drops, separating into new drops, gaining speed, changing course, gaining mass, then suddenly.

The wiper blades would erase it from his mind. Only to have it start again as a fresh drop at the top of the windshield.

He let this go on. This mind game to occupy his time. How long had it been? Two days? Don't think about that. Think about the drop.
Focus on the drop.

He did this to keep from facing the truth. He was only seven, but he knew the answer to the question 'why'. Why those men were there. Why they were interested in his father. Why he needed to hide, no matter how long, or in what conditions. He even knew why, when his father had been so wanton with his bullets during their retreat, why he made sure to save the one at the bottom of the clip.

He even knew why his father, the man who made the monsters under the bed go away, didn't look at him once in the last two days.

Or had it been three?

Stop it.

Think about the drop of water.


...the four right chords can make me cry
Some mellow jazz

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Adam-Beilgard
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Response to Madness Sep. 23rd, 2012 @ 09:34 PM Reply

One. Two. Three. Four abrupt pops in the distance. Was someone banging on a door? Were those gunshots? His eyes strained and stretched until they felt like they would fall out of his head. The view never changed. The ventilation pipe was only an inch and a half wide, and, being that it was almost a foot long meant there was no peripheral view to be had. Just the ceiling of their breakfast nook. The little room off the kitchen, by the back door. Monday through Friday he would eat his breakfast in there, getting ready to go to school, the outdated flourescent light above his head flickering warmly as if to say "good morning". Saturdays, he would eat there in the morning and then go with his dad to work. Only on Sundays did his parents let him eat in the living room, while he watched TV.

If we get out of this, he thought to himself, I'm going to eat there every day, no matter what.

Then darkness.

The boy quietly gasped and pulled away. A shadow came over the opening for a second and then retreated, pushed out of the way by the jealous light, still growling and snapping. The light that knew where they were hiding. The light that barely allowed him to see his father in the hastily-built panic room below their breakfast nook. The breakfast nook the boy would eat in every morning if they got out.

The shadow was gone as soon as it came. No sound made its way to them below. The boy wondered how much of them could be heard above. Do the sounds they make climb and strain, only to fall back into the pile of muck and drown? He knew he couldn't chance it. The risk was too great. So he sat quietly and thought about the raindrop on the windshield.

He wanted to cry.

Shivering again, he hugged himself, instinctively trying to keep warm. As he rubbed his arms, his fingers rediscovered the tender flesh that was probably bruised. Each little dent a reminder of where his fathers fingers had been earlier, when the boy tried to drink some of the standing water in their sarcophagus. Even then, his father didn't look him in the eye. He just grabbed his arm and shook his head 'no'. The young child wiped his hand on the upper part of his shirt. The part the cold-dark hadn't crept up to. Yet.

He didn't know enough about dehydration to understand what was happening to his body. All he knew is he had been too weak to crouch anymore. He had been that weak for at least a day. Or was it two?

Raindrops.

He knew that the cold effluent was the lesser evil to the burning he felt in his legs from hovering over it. He knew he no longer had the urge to pee. He knew if he kept his mouth still for too long, it would dry up and his lips would crack. He knew, no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't sleep.

He knew his dad wanted to cry.

The light went out.


...the four right chords can make me cry
Some mellow jazz

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Adam-Beilgard
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Response to Madness Sep. 23rd, 2012 @ 09:36 PM Reply

Plunged in total darkness, the fear he felt when this all began gripped him again. Every muscle in his body tensed and burned, ringing out and then re-absorbing the acid it couldn't flush away. His stomach especially hurt.

He reached out for his dad. Make the bad guys go away. Make this a nightmare. Make it stop. Please.

He would do anything for this to be over.

His dad startled and recoiled at the touch. Water sloshed around and lapped up at their feet. Neither one of them knew why he jumped at his son's touch. It would have been more surprising if the boy hadn't reached for his daddy. But there they were, in total darkness, only their breathing to break the silence between them.

Did this mean they were finally gone? After two days of looking did they give up? Were they even looking? Were they waiting? Maybe this was a trick. Maybe they wanted us to think they were gone so we could come out. The pool of thoughts that the boy had been steeped in made their way back into his brain into a violent eddy again. Was his mom okay?

No.

He had made it the whole time without thinking of her. Not now.

It was all too much. He had no more control over his own thought process.

Once, when he had had a bad dream, he stumbeld into the living room where his parents were watching "A Clockwork Orange". He stealthily crept up behind the couch where they sat and watched with them. Things were going well enough until the scene where Alex was brought to the Ludovico. Only a second of the images had been cast on the TV - the TV where he would watch his cartoons while eating his Trix on Sunday mornings - when he shrieked in terror. His mom sat with him in his bed that night until he could fall asleep.

And now she was torturing him.

He was a prisoner to his own thoughts. Like the Ludovico, he was forced to imagine what had become of his mother. The only other person in the world who could compete with his dad for his affection. The only other person in the world that he knew could make the monsters go away.

But if his dad couldn't do it this time, what chance did she have?

He wished he knew what had happened to her. Even if it meant knowing she was dead. Even if it meant witnessing it with his own eyes as they ran from the car to the house.

Raindrops.

Even if it meant her pounding on the hatch to the panic room as the bad guys swarmed in.

Windshield.

Even if it meant her being ransomed for his father, while they waited it out in the panic room.

Wiper blades.

He just wanted to know.

It was too much for him. The weight of the black silence that was slowly drowning them took over. The only way he could even breathe now was to cry. First a sniffle.

Then a sob.

His dad stroked his hair, and whispered "hang in there", the first words shared between them in two days. Or was it three? Even in the dark, he knew his dad wouldn't look at him.

"Hang in there"

It was too late.

Sobs became whimpers. Whimpers became crying. His dad hugged him for the first time in days. The exact number didn't matter anymore, this was it. Would the bad guys be gone? The crying felt good, cathartic, even. He could barely feel his dad's arm around him, he had become so numb to the world they lived in for the past few days.

No, the hug actually didn't help, but the crying did. At least until the thumping returned.


...the four right chords can make me cry
Some mellow jazz

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Adam-Beilgard
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Response to Madness Sep. 23rd, 2012 @ 10:03 PM Reply

This time, it was accompanied by the light, unfiltered. It poured over them like a heavy rain, blinding, as oppressive as the darkness had been. The bad guys had opened the hatch. The rebirth was shocking to every sense. Noise and light bombarded him from every direction - he was disoriented more than he was scared at this point, but the child could still see one thing.

When you die, your life doesn't flash before your eyes. Most of the time it's because you don't know you're about to die. Kind of like when you forget to turn your phone off and it rings at a bad time, and for a second, you fumble around because you forgot exactly where you put it. Death surprises you like that and you can't get doe eyed over your first kiss or watching your child come into the world. You don't see old friends or get wistful thinking of the house you grew up in. You can't even remember where you put your phone. And people who die slowly in sterile beds in sterile rooms are lying if they say it happens to them. They're either in too much pain or on too many drugs to mitigate the pain to think straight, let alone catalog every important event that ever happened to them.

It especially doesn't happen to seven year olds. Which is why he didn't react when the only thing he could see, surrounded in the halo of new light was his father pointing the gun at his head. And he wasn't at all surprised when the only thing he heard through the cacophony of new sounds was the gun being cocked.

What was surprising was the fact that his father was looking him in the eyes for the first time in two days.

Or was it three?

The moment they shared, their eyes locked on each other, lasted longer than the time they shared below ground.

His dad was crying. This was the second thing he could do for his son:

Make it quick, don't let them get him.

The surge of numbness that raced from head to toe in his small body rallied against the shock of being pulled from his cell. The boy stayed, staring at his father, who held the gun tightly in his hands, trained at his son's head. Then, nothing.

Not the nothing of death. Death comes unexpectedly. The boy saw death coming, but it turned around.

Not today.

The bad guys didn't go away.

Not yet, at least. Not before they had his father relieved of his firearm, bound, and gagged.

One bullet left.

He couldn't do it.

He didn't do it.

Now the boy watched as the bad guys took his father out the back door. The back door he would stare out of while he ate his Lucky Charms, the light above his head flickering "have a great day at school, today".

But the voice he now heard wasn't the light's. And it wasn't reassuring him that it would wait for him to come home from school.

It was one of the bad guys.

Pointing to his father being dragged away, he said "This is what happens when you cross us".

Except for brief moments during his struggle, the father never broke his gaze with his son. Entire conversations that could last for days were shared between their stares. But then, time sped up to resume its normal tempo and he was gone. Gone with the bad guys. Gone with his son's youth. Gone with the numbness that had been sheltering the boy for the last two days.

Or was it three?

Having seen his father taken from him, he realized he had been wrong. He wished it could have been a mystery, like with his mother.


...the four right chords can make me cry
Some mellow jazz

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Adam-Beilgard
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Response to Madness Sep. 23rd, 2012 @ 10:04 PM Reply

That was almost two decades removed from where he is now. More appropriately, two decades from who he is now.

That's a nice car.

The man looks like he's been behind that counter his whole life.

Just the gas?

He points to a pack of cigarettes.

Can I see an ID?

Still no sound other than the old man's breathing.

Hank, huh? What are you doing in Nevada?

...Looking up some of my dad's old friends.

The fluorescent light flickered and hummed.


...the four right chords can make me cry
Some mellow jazz

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DeftAndEvil
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Response to Madness Sep. 24th, 2012 @ 01:49 AM Reply

Yeah, first, Robot Day, Pico Day, Madness Day, and Halloween all had writing contests with store credit as a prize. Then, they had cash prizes. Now, they aren't even part of the holidays....


Despite the name, I'm actually good--Deft, and good!

Giving out reviews to anyone who wants them (exception: poems. I'll find you).

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Labraxadores
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Response to Madness Sep. 24th, 2012 @ 01:12 PM Reply

You've got some talent here.
The writing style is good,and for now I don't see any flaws.

I have a story about Madness too,and i may or may not submit it.


Some may never live, but the crazy never die.
- Hunter S. Thompson

Adam-Beilgard
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Response to Madness Sep. 24th, 2012 @ 08:58 PM Reply

At 9/24/12 01:12 PM, Labraxadores wrote: You've got some talent here.
The writing style is good,and for now I don't see any flaws.

I have a story about Madness too,and i may or may not submit it.

Thanks!

I say, bring it on. Maybe we'll show the demand is high enough to bring lit contests back!


...the four right chords can make me cry
Some mellow jazz

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DeftAndEvil
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Response to Madness Sep. 25th, 2012 @ 01:40 AM Reply

At 9/24/12 08:58 PM, Adam-Beilgard wrote:

I say, bring it on. Maybe we'll show the demand is high enough to bring lit contests back!

Then show your love over here.


Despite the name, I'm actually good--Deft, and good!

Giving out reviews to anyone who wants them (exception: poems. I'll find you).

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Labraxadores
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Response to Madness Sep. 25th, 2012 @ 09:11 AM Reply

At 9/24/12 08:58 PM, Adam-Beilgard wrote:
At 9/24/12 01:12 PM, Labraxadores wrote: You've got some talent here.
The writing style is good,and for now I don't see any flaws.

I have a story about Madness too,and i may or may not submit it.
Thanks!

I say, bring it on. Maybe we'll show the demand is high enough to bring lit contests back!

Gimme' some time.


Some may never live, but the crazy never die.
- Hunter S. Thompson

Adam-Beilgard
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Response to Madness Sep. 29th, 2012 @ 12:38 AM Reply

At 9/25/12 09:11 AM, Labraxadores wrote:
Gimme' some time.

Not a problem, looking forward to it!


...the four right chords can make me cry
Some mellow jazz

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