Right now, I’m one of those people.
I’m frustrated because I’m a creative guy stuck doing a repetitive job. The pay and the hours are good, but the job itself makes me hate my life. It drains my energy, eats up my time, and affects my creative output.
Sunday nights are the worst. I feel the stresses associated with the oncoming workweek before it has even arrived. I don’t look forward to getting up early. I don’t look forward to an hour-long commute to a job I’m not enthusiastic about. I don’t look forward to a phone that won’t stop ringing. I don’t look forward to an endless stream of emails about shit I couldn’t care less about.
I’d like to do something different for the company I’m working for. I’d like to write for them. I think it would be a win/win if I could move to a department where my creative talents could be put to work. I’ve tried making key contacts in other departments. I’ve shared my intentions (and my current discontent) with my supervisor. I’ve made it known that I want to move up as soon as possible — but it’s clear that moving up will take some time.
It could be worse. I should consider myself lucky to have a job. I should consider myself lucky to have received a new job with better pay in this recession. I should consider myself lucky to be able to make ends meet on my own while Cassie is unable to work and is just concentrating on getting healthy again.
I want to write every day. I don’t. I desperately want to, but I don’t.
Tonight, I’m feeling miserable. The “Sunday Night Blues” are just killing me. Aside from the obvious things causing me stress, I’m frustrated at myself for not writing anything recently. I brought my work laptop home this weekend with the intention of spending some time in my writing room, closing the door to everything that’s been shitty about this year and just putting my thoughts into words for a while.
Around 8pm I felt like it was too late. I’d wasted away another weekend without writing a damn thing. I felt sick to my stomach over it.
So here’s the deal. I’m going to try to kill some Sunday Night Blues by typing up a story. It’s what I’ve been writing during my lunch hour at work.
John Traicoff stirred in his sleep. His alarm clock blinked a blurry 12:00. He reached for his glasses and wristwatch, and was confused why neither were within his reach. In his confused state he figured he might be dreaming, or only be half awake, or that he simply was reaching in the wrong spot — and for a moment he had every intention of rolling over and falling back to sleep like his body wanted. That blinking 12 — now reading 12:01 — would make him think otherwise. He got up to investigate.
“Mother fucker!” Traicoff yelled. He had stepped down hard on the edge of his watch (at least it wasn’t his glasses, which would have broken immediately), and although it didn’t really hurt it startled him enough to cuss. He propped the watch up on his bedside table next to his alarm, and returned his glasses — found just below the bed frame — to his face.
His fingers manipulated the buttons and transcended time. 12:03 … 4:03 …4:22. Now the alarm: 12:00 … 6:00 … 6:15. Done. He took off his glasses, rubbed his eyes, and set the glasses on the table where they should have been when he woke.
I wonder why my shit was on the floor. What would wake me up like this? Traicoff was more or less deaf in both ears, consequence of a close one in Vietnam. Anything that made him stir in the night would’ve had to have been LOUD.
Transformer blew, Traicoff concluded. No power, loud boom, had to have been. Content with this explanation, he was ready for bed again. He laid down and shut his eyes.
Something in his subconscious prevented him from sleeping, though. He was awake and wouldn’t drift off, no matter how much he might have wanted to. Traicoff’s mind turned over and over and came back to his stuff being found on the floor. No transformer out on the pole on the other side of the street could cause that. He got up and drew the blinds out of habit, expecting darkness but finding his farm was on fire.
Traicoff blinked, rubbed his eyes, squinted, wondered what the fuck he was looking at, and made a quick grab for his glasses.
With his eyes on again, he was able to see the firey glow was not his farm on fire, but his barn. The roof was caved in, the east wall was knocked over, as though something big had hit the roof.
Traicoff put on one shoe, decided he needed pants first, then rushed outside. He knocked the front screen door clear off its hinges as he darted out to his irrigation machine. The heat from the fire could be felt right away, and the smell permeated his nose — a crisp mix of bonfire and electrical burning. Traicoff oriented the Hydrant-It-Done at his burning barn, set it at no oscillation, and let her rip.
Sixty gallons of nutrient-enriched water per minute fired off towards the flaming structure, and black smoke poured out of the mixture. As the Hydrant-It-Done did its thing, Traicoff ran inside to phone the real firefighters. It might be twenty minutes for them to drive from county but dammit he was gonna try to make sure the barn was all that he lost in this lightning strike.
That smell of metal got him wondering, though. All of his equipment was stored in the shed or under the lean-to. The barn housed only feed and hay. He gave only a quick glance towards the far side of the barn where the worst of the strike had hit, and might have kept running towards the house if there hadn’t been a giant fucking meteorite where his barn door used to be.
Traicoff never called the fire department. In fact everything he may have planned to do at one point that day never actually got tended to, just because he had to deal with this new treasure, artifact, meteorite thing that knocked the fuck out of his barn, left a truck sized imprint where it impacted the ground, and was hot enough to burn up all the grass in a ten foot radius — not to mention a few corn stalks on the edge of this year’s crop.
It was as tall as he was, but when you factored in how half of the sphere was underground it must have been better than ten feet in diameter. It had a blackened outer shell that would burn your damn hand off if you dared to touch it. The winding cracks in the molten rock almost made it look like a soccer ball caked in black mud. Traicoff was hypnotized by the monster, wondering what to do next. He scratched his head then wondered why his head was wet. Traicoff then realized that the mist from his irrigator stream was soaking him to the bone, even though the fire had long been out. He walked to the machine and threw the lever. He wondered how much that fire had cost him to extinguish, then dismissed the thought. There are more important things to worry about today. Traicoff wondered if he should reopen the stream, this time pointed at the monster meteorite. Was there really much sense in cooling it off? It would maybe allow him to touch it, invesigate it, but it certainly wouldn’t help unbury it or move it.
Move it? Where would he take it, and for what purpose? Traicoff imagined a frontpage newspaper article “Meteorite Strikes Traicoff Farm” with a picture of him standing in front of the beast, and immediately knew why he wanted it moved — he wanted it RE-MOVED. Traicoff was never one to like to be the center of attention. This fucking mass from space would draw in all sorts of people from county, perhaps even the state or further, people who wanted to test it, take their picture with it, maybe even offer to buy the farm to build a tourist attraction around it. Traicoff hated the idea. He gave the beast the finger without realizing and mumbled “Fuck you” at the same time.
Of all the places the damn thing could have landed, it chose his fucking farm, and consequently would turn John Traicoff’s world of simple living upside-down. He thought about his options and figured the CAT would be he best bet for unearthing and hiding the monster. He had to move quickly, as it was nearly 5am and shipment would arrive for a pickup around 9. The gears turned in Traicoff’s head, desperately trying to piece together the plan of action, or at the very least a cover story.
“Mother fucker,” he mumbled, flipping it the bird again without realizing. “Mother fucker,” he said again while he moved his Hydrant-It-Done within range to cool off the beast. He unleashed the stream onto his unwanted guest, immediately causing a loud hiss of blackened steam to rise off of it. “Of all the fucking places the fucking thing could have landed, it chose my fucking farm.” Little did he know that only 400 miles away, the same type of problem was being handled with the polar opposite type of attitude.
Jay Fast lived up to his name. He talked fast, thought fast, and moved fast. He was an overachieving entrepreneur who made his first million by the ripe age of 19, and refused to stop there. Every opportunity he saw to make a quick mill, he took. He was an opportunist who knew how to play the game, who turned opportunities into successful business ventures, exploits, or money makers. Ted Fast, on the other hand, was none of these things.
Ted was Jay’s younger brother by ten years. They were birthed by different mothers, their deadbeat dad freeloaded off of a different unsuspecting woman every five years or so and often had a kid or two before whatever woman he was with kicked him to the curb. Jay looked at it humorously, saying his dad was the simplest of opportunists, while Ted used it as an excuse for all of his shortcomings. The American Way, blame your parents. I beat my children cause I was beaten. I’m a failure cause my dad’s a failure. I’m a user cause my mom’s an addict. There was nothing in Ted’s life that hadn’t gone wrong without the blame going straight to his missing father, who left before he knew him. He told it to everyone he’d ever come to know well, and with that strategy there was no wonder that he’d eventually meet someone who had heard his father’s name before, which is how he’d come to meet Jay. And if that meeting wasn’t awkward, nothing is. Jay had taken it as a life lesson, that adversity exists, and your reaction to disappointment is what matters — while Ted felt adversity was life, and the excuse can often absolve himself from responsibility. Jay thought Ted was a loser, Ted thought Jay was wealthy enough to carry him, and so they butt heads on nearly all things. Ted hated relying on Jay, but since it was easy money he refused to “earn” it any other way. Jay hated how Ted relied on him, but quickly learned that the fastest way to get Ted out of his hair was to just write him a check. He’d disappear for six months or more before he’d need another ten grand. With almost 80 million in disposable income accumulated by age 40, ten grand payouts was nothing to Jay. To Ted, however, ten grand was everything. It was six months rent, food, and recreational drug money. When Ted happened upon his meteorite (or more accurately, the meteorite happened upon Ted), he was stoned out of his mind.
“Going for a walk,” he told Ron. It had become a code between the two roommates. “Going for a walk” meant going into the woods to smoke up. A locked door followed by an “I’m studying” meant I’m masturbating. And if either of them happened to bring a girl home and hand over a $10 bill saying “Here’s the money I owe you” that meant “Go see a movie I’m trying to get laid.” Ron was cool about weed and smoked it himself, but since it was his name on the lease and pot smoke was easily recognized by the landlord he didn’t tolerate it in the apartment. If he had decided to get stoned with Ted that morning, Ron may have had his hands in the profit. He wouldn’t.
Ted patted his pockets to make sure he had everything. Content he felt the papers stash and lighter, he set off for his walk. Once he cleared the tall grass of the back courtyard and was on the path, he started rolling as he walked. There was rarely anyone on the trail, more frequently there were people hanging at crystal pond back in the woods getting drunk, stoned, or naughty. It was always a judgment call as to whether whoever he might run into would be cool about weed so Ted rolled quickly. Once finished, he slipped it into his pocket and walked the remaining trail a little bit faster.
Crystal pond was about half a mile set into the woods behind the complex. It had no fish in it, but there was some kind of life growing in it. Plants that covered the walls and bottom of the pond and caused it to glow like a blue crystal. Ted once caught some young kids putting a “sunny” fish they brought from somewhere into the pond, and before he could stop them the sunny swam out into its new surroundings, turned abruptly in a circle, swam sideways in its last attempt to breathe, then spiraled down to the bottom where it would remain to this day. He peered into the pond to see that the rotting carcass of the fish was still there, and likely would be fore some time — spoiling the otherwise pristine and awesome view of the pond.
Ted sat on the sandy ground, habitually glanced at all four trail entrances, and lit up.
Smoking always made Ted hard — and this time was no different. Maybe because his first sexual encounter happened while he was stoned, his body associated weed with sex. Maybe because when he got stoned he often liked to jack off, combining two of his favorite pastimes in order to enjoy them more, together. Maybe because he found the act of doing something illegal arousing, and enjoyed the thrill of possibly being caught. He adjusted his hardon down the leg of his jeans, laid back, and took another hit. He fantasized about Julia, the young woman in his building, going down on him while he smoked. He’d never said anything more than a passing “Hey” to Julia, but he would often see her go running or tan out on the lawn. Ted would watch her through the slated blinds in his bedroom while beating off, telling himself there was no shame in it since every man with a window facing the lawn must have been doing the exact same thing. Imagining the small yellow triangles of her bikini top trying their best to cover her breasts made him want to whip it out and wank off right there in public — but he knew better. He was horny, but not horny enough to be stupid about it. Ted would likely return to his room later today — I’m studying — and maybe if he was lucky enough Julia would be outside giving him something to look at. He took another hit and rubbed his crotch once, reassuring his dick that he’d take care of it later. He closed his eyes, took a long hit, held it, exhaled, and felt the warmth in his lungs warm his being. His dick throbbed as he felt a peculiar warmth and glow behind his eyelids — as though the sun had begun to rise. He thought he must’ve lost track of the time, as the sun shouldn’t rise until 6:30 or 7, and opened his eyes.
The fire in the early morning sky was raining down on him, causing him to leap up and drop his joint. The approaching fireball was screaming as it tore through the morning sky, causing Ted fear not unlike paranoia he’d experienced during a bad trip. For a moment, he thought he might be tripping now, but it was rare for his connection to supply him with tainted weed, and this sure as fuck felt real.
Ted ran into the trail and watched the monstrosity crash into the pond’s edge, where it kicked up a mix of water and dust, hissed with steam, and proceeded to bounce into the treeline, uprooting the group of trees it impacted. The sound of splintering tree branches and the domino effect of having all the morning birds take off at once was a sight unlike anything he had ever seen. In the distance, dogs barked and howled in a chorus of what the fucks. Mesmorized, Ted approached the crash site.
Some of the foliage surrounding the blackened sphere was burnt up. Everything was living so nothing was on fire, but the pungeant stench of burnt flowers filled Ted’s senses. He sucked on empty air between his fingers where he expected his joint to be, and kept pursing his lips as though he were reaching for a straw — completely unaware that he wasn’t holding anything. He stepped closer to the sphere, and noticed the impact with the trees had broken a significant piece of it off. It looked like a giant black orange with one slice pulled from it. He would later piece together that the water had weakened the hot shell knocked out by the treeline, and use this to his advantage. Now, however, he could not take his focus off of what was inside the orange where the slice had been removed. Ted’s hand reached out to touch what was so illogically trapped inside that burning magma sphere — a woman’s foot, perfectly translucent as though made of glass, with her five toenails painted black.
Traicoff cursed his luck as the second chain broke. He had finished cooling the rock, and was on his third try to move the damn thing. The first attempt to push it with the CAT only caused the bucket to bend as the rock pushed hard into the ground. Traicoff then tried wrapping an iron chain around the sphere and pulling it, but only managed to break the chain. For his third time’s a charm he took both halves of the chain and wrapped them around the beast, then rocked it a good centimeter before one of the halves broke. He gunned the engine in frustration and the other chain followed suit.
“Fuck!” Traicoff cussed, running low on time. His chain was in pieces, the mass hadn’t budged, and to top it all off his barn was royally fucked — one strong summer storm would easily topple it over. He threw the remains of the chain at the busted barn, gave it the finger unknowingly, and spat. The morning sun had come up over the horizon, and Traicoff felt like it may come to be the last sunlit morning he’d see before the coming of the storm. He backed the CAT up to the beast, still mostly underground, and had a sudden moment of clarity. He dropped the gear into drive and curved around to the far side of his barn. He raised the bucket high, in line with what was left of the roof, and proceeded to push the remains of the barn over. It sounded its opposition with only one or two cracks of the remaining supports, but then gravity took over.
The two remaining walls and roof fell into a makeshift teepee, completely covering the half of the sphere protruding from the ground. The beast was invisible now, because all Traicoff could see was a fallen barn. He had bought himself some time, and so he smiled as he put the CAT away.
“Wut happn’d t’yer baan?”
“Lightning got her.”
Gutter was content with the explanation, nodded and pointed a clipboard at Traicoff. “Sign tha bottom thare.” Traicoff wished all the deliveries would be as uninquisitive as Gutter. Having gotten the signature he just hopped up into the back of the semitrailer and rolled the pallets to the lift. Traicoff steered his forklift to the shipment and with a wave asked “Just the one, right?”
“Yessir. Seeya next taam.”
As always Traicoff carted the goods to the deck, slowing just enough to watch and make sure Gutter motioned to leave. Once he was certain he was free and clear he disappeared into the warehouse to stock up the shipment. On the way out he double-checked the delivery schedule, and felt pleased that if he got through today, he’d have at least 4 days before anyone else came round his farm for any reason. In another hour there was a small chance Melvin would stop in to claim first picks on the harvest planned for market, but Melvin and John went way back. If there was anyone he might need to recruit in order to help dispose of the beast, Melvin was his man. Preferably, he would tend to this matter privately, but the giant fucker might require a second man. He parked the lift, relaced his boots, and ignored the demon under his barn for a while as he tended to his chores.
The foot was glass, Ted supposed, and was the only exposed portion of the treasure within the rock. It was surprisingly cool to the touch, considering its firey entrance several hours ago. Ted’s mind had been blown by the event and, what with his mind already stoned stupid it came as no surprise that several hours had been lost just staring and feeling the curve of that glass foot, causing Ted to giggle occasionally as he tweaked. He reached for another hit from his invisible joint and, finally aware that it was missing, snapped out of the trance.
He tried to break another slice out of the giant burnt orange, and scalded his fingertips. “Yowll!” he exclaimed, bringing his fingers to his mouth. He put his other hand on the glass foot and tried prying it in either direction, hoping the orange would split along a seam and fall apart like two halves of a mold. No dice. He picked up a fallen branch and took several swings at the hot surface of the orange. It responded with its unchanged smile, reminding Ted of a giant black Pac-Man with a human foot stuck between his teeth. He wedged the branch between the foot and the edge where the first slice broke loose, and tried torquing the magma to a breaking point. No dice. He stepped under the wedged branch and pushed from the other side, putting all his weight into it and pressing his legs up against the base of a tree. The branch snapped, causing Ted to lose his balance and fall into the mass. He yelped as he burned his hands, arms and chin — the chesthairs popping from the top of his shirt were singed, smelling that nasty stench burnt hair makes. He ran to the pond and thrust his arms inside, splashing water on himself furiously.
Before he tried getting the woman out of Pac-Man’s mouth again, he resigned to the sense that he should cool the mass off first. He cupped his red hands and walked what little water he could carry over the Pac-Man’s mouth, and poured it inside. “Thirsty, big guy?” Ted giggled as the remains of his high tapered off. The water sizzled like drops in a hot pan, creating tiny puffs of black smoke. It was clear he’d need a better way to do this, but in his haste to make do with the resources he had, he continued cupping the handfuls of water and splashing them on Pac-Man one fistful at a time.
Ted continued this nonsense for the greater portion of an hour. He thought it might be safe to touch the surface of the orange to try to peel it but was scared to. He just kept pouring the puddles to make small pockets of steam with the accompanying sizzle at every part that wasn’t wet. Everything that had been touched by the pond water looked oddly familiar. Ted had a vision of when he was younger, how he used to like spitting on his wood stove when his parents weren’t around just so he could watch his saliva dance around while it evaporated. By the end of winter he’d be found out by the gross traces of bubbles and food left on the surface of the stove after his mucus had dried. He was sad for a moment, remembering how it wasn’t fun after dad was gone — mom never cared enough to scold him for it. Walk, scoop, walk, pour, sizzle, repeat. It had become a habit and the objective now was to empty the pond on principle. The game went on until the munchies set in, and Ted was sober. He was aware of how stupid his method was, as one bucket would have accomplished the same task in a single go, and likely would have saved his back from all the bending over. Had he been thinking he might’ve tried rolling the damn thing down the inclined beach straight into the water, and saved himself the pain — but Ted wasn’t an opportunist like his big brother. His mind saw the lazy way to success, and being lazy meant not troubling himself with the hassle of going to retrieve a bucket, no matter how much time it might save him.
Ted felt the need to eat and piss, and suddenly he had a perfectly acceptable, albeit disgusting, method for cooling Pac-Man off. He unzipped and pissed on the thing. The rock was cool by then anyway, regardless of Ted’s innovation — but it made him confident enough to try touching it again. He put his hand on the warm rock (comfortably, despite how he was placing his hands among streams of his own urine) and noticed the magma felt breakable. He pulled Pac-Man’s smile apart like he was getting it to “Say Ahhhh” and small bits of the rock broke apart in his hands.
The layers were clearly rock of some type but it broke apart like hardened peanut brittle, almost like a slate rock from someone’s driveway that had been weakened by years of water run-off. He cracked his knuckles and got to work, peeling the layers off around the foot, exposing more of the glass woman’s ankle and calf with each moment.
Ted worked silently, obsessed with the task at hand. Even in the moments when thin sheets of rock cut into the skin beneath his fingernails, Ted didn’t even mutter an ouch. Invisibly small fragments of the rock splintered into his soft palms and fingertips, causing them to swell with pain. He noticed his hardon had returned after exposing the glass woman’s asscheek. He palmed the smooth curve of her ass and insinctively stretched his fingers towards her sex while motioning to touch himself with his other hand. His fingers were stopped by the unexpected hardness of the rock — Ted hadn’t yet uncovered what he was reaching for — and he laughed at himself. Of all the things to get excited about, this thing was a curious artifact indeed — and here he was simply getting off on it. He took a break from the sexy parts and went on uncovering her other leg.
The process came more easily to him since he had done one leg already. He was able to pull off the chunks of rock in larger pieces if he used both hands. Eventually he broke off a piece so large the weight of what remained simply fell off the opposite side. A glimpse of a memory of getting his cast removed — the result of a stupid decision to kick a treestump with all of his strength at the invincible age of thirteen — flashed in his mind and then was gone. The toes of this newly exposed foot were also painted, although if one looked closely one could see that it was only a different colored glass.
With both legs exposed Ted moved down towards her butt again. With her feet and legs spread and pointed to the sky, Ted imagined that if anyone happened to see him and these legs that they’d certainly believe he and his glass partner were up to something kinky. Chunks of rock broke off, revealing her behind and a good portion of her back. The more surface he exposed, the less translucent the glass appeared. It seemed to capture the sun’s rays, becoming more and more opaque as it trapped the light inside — glistening, diamondlike.
Ted thought about laying the glass woman’s feet down on the ground but abandoned the idea. The inverted woman wouldn’t stand a chance to support herself as she was right now, due to the amount of rock still clinging to her. Ted imagined the toes and legs were fragile, and if he dared to reposition her in a way that put pressure on them, maybe the figure would shatter like a poorly planned ice sculpture.
Ted moved his concentration outward, working perpendicular to the small of her back. This process was slower, since he didn’t know the positioning of her arms, and didn’t wish to snap off any fingers. He broke away the magma towards her shoulder and then followed her right arm back down (up, from his perspective) towards her hip/crotch. He decided to take a break from that only because the hand was clearly touching her sex — whether in a modest manner as if to cover her shame, or in a provocative manner such as rubbing herself, still undetermined. Ted now wanted to remove what remained of her magma panties, and climbed around front of her, standing on the boulder and propping his back against a tree trunk. He worked the rock off, starting in her asscrack. His dick throbed as each new bit of glassy skin revealed itself as he pulled the shell away. Disappointing to him, her hand would not be plunging two or three fingers into the cave. Instead, she just cupped her hand in a way for maximum coverage, no peeking through spaces between fingers. Her fingernails were painted black, like her toenails.
Disappointed but still determined, Ted continued downward (upward, from her perspective) towards her navel. Soon he’d expose her breasts, and those might be fully exposed like her ass. Blood from his aching fingers dripped down her front, curving around her navel and landing in the crack between her underboobs. As he pulled the rock bra off to check out her glorious bust, though, he found her left arm there instead. He hated this bitch’s modesty as he pulled off what remained of the bra. Her left arm elbowed at her left breast, where it stretched across to and cupped her right breast. The only exposed parts of her bust were some cleavage, right sideboob, and underboob (which would never be noticed except from this angle.)
Frustrated with his overwhelming horniness, Ted removed the rock towards her neck thinking if this bitch’s mouth happened to be open, his dick was going in. He was bent over, his head buried in her undercleavage, clawing at the remaining rock of Pac-Man’s shell. He was too stoned, too horny, or too preoccupied to see that the entire weight of the figure was now completely supported by her neck, and had developed a considerable lean. Ted was holding two fistfuls of magma when the rock let go of her head, the weight of her legs flipping her face up towards him, like they were rushing in for a kiss.
Her face, still covered in a mask of magma, clocked Ted between the eyes, knocking him off balance. Her legs, butt and shoulders met the ground at the same time that Ted’s did, making a distinct pair of thuds. Ted clenched his fists hard on impact with the dusty ground, the magma in his hands bit back fiercely. They weren’t important and he should have just dropped them, but the punch caught him by surprise and he instinctively held on tight to what he was holding, despite how imprecious they were. He finally let them go when he pressed his hands to the ground as he stood up.
The figure was naked now except for her mask. Ted stood above her, grasped the final rock formation clinging to the figure with both hands, and pulled. Her face, like the rest of her, glowed so brightly it was practically an opaque white. She had no hair, just a bald white scalp. Her eyes were open, her mouth closed in a kind of shy smile. The figure’s expression was modest yet seductive, head slightly turned with a sly smile that said “Caught me.”
Ted felt the figure, trying to simultaneously understand what it was and where it possibly could have come from. The figure was plainly human, perhaps made from a mold of an actual person, but why would some artist send his delicate glass sculpture catapulting across the sky protected only by the encasing of the rock? It didn’t make sense because there was no benefit or profit from doing such a thing, so that left Ted feeling even more confused.
Ted stood over the figure, bent at his waist and tried to lift her from her shoulders and elbow. If the figure wasn’t as hard as stone, touching the edge of her breasts that way might have turned him on again — but his hardon had subsided. He strained to lift. There was no chance he’d succeed at standing her up. It made him wonder if her legs would shatter under her own weight if stood upright. She continued to lie there, naked in the dust, staring up at the sky if she only had working eyes to see it.
Ted wanted to hide the treasure before anyone else came along and spotted it — yet even if they found it they wouldn’t have the means to move it, just like Ted didn’t. It was almost like trying to move a heavy metal safe — without help or ingenuity it was simply impossible. Ted’s mind raced through the possibilities of friends he might trust enough to call. Problem was it was still pretty early, though the sun was high now it was likely that his loser friends would all be partied out til noon or later. His mind wandered to Julia, who he’d long wanted a reason to initiate conversation with, but thought better of it. He could just imagine her reaction to him saying “Hey I don’t know you, but I need to show you something set back in the woods.” Smooth. She’d be reaching for her pepper spray if he dared to say that — it sounded like it was straight ouf of the rapist’s handbook.
He got the idea to call Jay. Jay was resourceful and reliable — everything Ted was not — and would get a team out to pick up the treasure and airlift it out of here if that’s what Jay wanted. Ted’s tired fists tightened. Here he was in his moment of glory to shine over Jay’s achievements with his discovery, and there was no way not to involve his brother somehow. Jay would be the guy to get it done, because Jay was a go-to guy. Fucking Ted the loser couldn’t do a damn thing but stone himself stupider and here’s yet another scenario where Jay would just make him feel like less of a man.
Well fuck that, Ted thought, determined to have his moment of victory. He pulled some branches off the trees and covered the figure with them, poorly. He piled some of the crumbled magma around and on top of the figure. It was a pathetic attempt to hide the gem, because there was obviously something under that pile of rubbish, but he was making do with what he had. With the sun now close to high noon, Ted ran down the trail towards the apartment complex.
Traicoff sipped his afternoon coffee. Nobody raised an eyebrow to his downed barn or the scorched crops. His secret, for the moment, was safe. Staring out the window at the knocked down structure he fooled even himself, practically forgetting about the beast beneath the rubbish pile. He enjoyed the last few drops of his coffee and poured another cup.
Ted fumbled his key into the lock on the front of the building. Once inside, he headed down the steps past the main foyer rather than up the steps on the other side. The cool air of the basement met with his sweat-soaked clothes, causing him a chill. He found his way past the laundry room to the storage area, and flipped on the light.
The wooden closets were hardly secure, supposing you wanted to store something valuable — but they were certainly private. The large sections of plywood that divided the bins made it seem like a row of toilet stalls that ran all the way from the floor to the ceiling. Ted tried his apartment key in the padlock, realized that was wrong, then used the correct key. The heavy lock exposed its rusty tooth, then hinged open easily like it was stretching after a long nap. Inside the closet was Ron’s bike, standing upright, Ron’s tent and poles packed up in a duffel-like bag, and a writing desk Ted had pulled from the curb somewhere. It was the type used by students in classrooms, a plastic chair with a length of desk/armrest attached. The point is that there was clearly some spare room in storage to hide his treasure, if he could figure out how to get it there. He went over in his head once more, “Who to ask for help?” and decided he’d have to confide in Ron if he didn’t want to ask Jay. That was that. He closed the door, secured the lock, and turned off the light. He darted back through the laundry room and up the stairs, taking them two at a time.
Martin Gussman was a nerd. He embraced this fact towards the end of high school, assuring himself that he’d be richer than all the popular kids someday. Martin’s skills with computers, math and science naturally extended to an interest in astronomy. Martin was a stargazer who often contemplated just how small and insignificant the world was in comparison to the vast infiniteness of the universe. Martin was one of the earliest adopters and even volunteered his programming expertise to help spearhead the Search for Extraterrestrial Ingelligence at Home project. As Martin grew up and fulfilled some of those dreams of having a big salary and only himself to spend it on, he invested in an alert system that would monitor the local weather satellite radars, bands of transmissions from military frequencies, among other nerdy resources, and consolidate any irregular instances around the globe into a database. If anything should happen within 50 miles of his home, it would email him a high priority message immediately.
Martin must have built, configured, and tweaked that system over three years ago without it making so much as a peep. He had “set it and forget it” like an unmanned fishing pole you never really expected to get a bite, but tossed into the water anyway just to help your chances of catching something. As Martin slept in after an all-night coding session, dreaming of the infinite, the Blackberry on his nightstand blipped repeatedly. Though he had done everything right to prepare for this moment, he was sleeping in through the astronomical discovery of the millenium.
That’s all for now. Forgive any typos. It’s after midnight, it’s Monday, it’s bedtime.
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