Friday, April 30, 2010

Chapter 3

Eyes of The Watcher

With their father’s grey cocoon so convincingly escape-proof, Mike and Callie took their time and stocked the faded green station wagon to capacity: food, beverages, blankets, pillows, extra clothes, etc. When they finished, it was dark outside.
Plumb exhausted, they sat themselves down at the back of the open wagon on lawn chairs taken from the front yard. The single bulb garage light cast its flickering illumination down upon them.
Callie clamped her hand over her mouth and yawned deep. It had been a long day even before this whole stupid mess had erupted, and Callie found herself nodding off. She shook her head and turned to Mike, who was already snoring lightly. She gave him a shake.
He grunted to wakefulness. “Hmm? What?”
“It might not be wise for us to take off like this.” Callie said.
“Like what?”
“All tuckered out and sleepy.”
“What do you suggest?” Mike asked.
“Dad can’t escape from under all that rope and duct tape, so it isn’t like we have to leave tonight. Maybe we should get some sleep and head off early tomorrow morning.”
“You’re crazy, Cal. Do you really want to sleep there ever again?” Mike asked, and pointed his thumb at the house.
“Perhaps we don’t have to.”
        She motioned to the station wagon behind them. Mike looked perplexed (though perhaps it was mere drowsiness), so she got up and retrieved some light blankets and pillows from the cargo behind them, and handed one of the bundles to Mike.
        “Sleep in the wagon?” he asked.
        “We’re gonna have to get used to it anyway, on the road,” she said, “Might as well start now.”
        “I suppose…”
        He was unsure about it, but was too sleepy and thickheaded to argue. He shrugged his shoulders, which was as good as a yes between the siblings. He got up and took his batch to the driver’s side of the wagon, opened the door, and set up his bed across the single-unit front seats. Callie did the same across the back seats.
        Callie made herself comfortable right away, while Mike went back and closed the wagon’s back hatch. This done, he folded the lawn chairs, and put them aside.
        “While you’re at it, go turn off the lights in the house.” Callie called out.
        “What---? Why?”
        “Wouldn’t want the neighbors to get suspicious, would we?”
        “Our neighbors are idiots. They wouldn’t get suspicious if we parked Dad out in the front yard.”
        Mike grumbled, and walked into the house to turn off the lights.
        He went to the rooms first, his and Callie’s, followed by his father’s room. He gave each a cursory glance, before he switched off their lights. The thought that he would never see these rooms again after tomorrow elicited no nostalgia. He was glad to be leaving.
        He and Callie had talked about running away many times, but somehow had never felt ready to do so. Almost as if an interior clock had held them back year after year. “Not now.” it would whisper in its insistent voice, “Not yet.”
        Perhaps it was procrastination, perhaps it was a lack of courage on his part, but the time had never felt propitious for such a dangerous venture. Now it was going to happen, thanks to Callie’s spur-of-the-moment act of violence; something HE should have done a long time ago. 
        He felt no little shame in that.
        He came to the living room, and looked over at the man in the chair facing the wall.
        “G’night dad.” Mike whispered. He hit the switch and cast the living room and its captive occupant into darkness.
        The kitchen was the last to go. Mike then walked out into the adjacent garage and looked through the window into the back seats of the wagon.
Callie was already in a fetal position under her blanket. Mike grabbed for the grease-stained string that hung under the bare bulb, gave it a tug, and clicked off the light.
        He stumbled his way over to the driver’s side, and into his new bed. The seats weren’t too uncomfortable, and after some fidgeting, he at last found a good position.
        “G’night, Cal.” he said.
        “G’nigh, Mi…” came the garbled reply.
        Within minutes they were both asleep.

        Sometime around midnight, a pair of glowing eyes appeared in a dark corner of the garage. Silent, they hovered there; and looked down at the station wagon---through it---at the figures asleep within.
        Callie shuddered in her sleep and burrowed deeper into her blanket; Mike moaned as if caught in a nightmare.
        At last they are ready for the fire, the mind behind the eyes thought to itself, Come to me, children…the burning awaits.

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