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Haunting in an Age of Recession, Part 4 - Laura Wise

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October 27th, 2010


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07:33 am - Haunting in an Age of Recession, Part 4
Terrifying thing that happened to me yesterday: as I was driving myself and the Small Blonde Dog home, a tree frog suddenly dropped onto my passenger-side window. Where did it come from? I have NO IDEA.

I am beset by frogs. That's one of the plagues, right? This is a sign!

Which perhaps explains why I'm writing this little Halloween story. ;-)

Anyhow, yesterday we ended with "Weird," he says, says, and thinks of cartoons and a pink tricycle, thinks of blood and reddened eyes, wonders what it is that has touched him.



Other than the shivers, little ripples of unease at quiet moments, he feels fine. Mostly.

When he goes home at the end of the day, Hortense isn't there screaming at the door. This is unusual: he's ten minutes late, and she believes in prompt feeding and chastisement of the staff when a meal is delayed. He walks through the house calling her name, but nothing... until he looks out in the backyard, by the old water-feature he built in the middle of the mint bed.

Three crows lie dead at the base of the fountain, and Hortense sits beside them like Bastet the devourer. She never has been a killer, but--

Her eyes shine red in the twilight.

Ignoring a fresh ripple of fear, Hal picks her up and brings her back inside. She is heavier than usual, he thinks. When he puts her down in the kitchen, she slides away without asking for her Karma Organic wet stuff.

But she pauses at the door, looks back over her shoulder, glitters red eyes at him.

He gets himself a beer from the fridge and tells himself to fuckin' chill.

Melissa won't be home until late -- City Council meeting -- so he wanders around the quiet house for a few minutes, turning on lights, drinking his brew. He puts on some music (not big-band, not the B52s) and thinks about dinner. He thinks about strange connections.

He picks up the phone and calls his best friend from college.

Mikal answers on the second ring. "Hey, bro. I was just thinking about you."

"Hey, Mike. Were you?"

"Yeah," Mikal says. Outside, it's gone silent. Not even the sound of traffic. "Gotta go in a second, you know, the weather waits for no one--" Mikal is the associate meteorologist for a local TV station-- "but I was hoping you're okay. I remembered... Well, bro, I remembered that Halloween. You know, right? The weird shit?"

Stupid damn fall festival on campus, some idiot sorority girl who thought she was a fortune-teller, and the dark silence when she'd looked at his hand, then the scream and the backing away, the canvas tent ripping as she fled... "Yeah. But that was a long time ago, dude. Say, before you go tell the people about the comfort index and stuff, I've got a question. Is it possible for a single block to have a microclimate different from everywhere else? Like, a tendency for morning mist?"

"I guess. It'd take a lot to make it happen, lot of factors, but I guess." There's noise on the line, then Mikal says quickly, "Sorry, got to get. Love to Miss Liss, though--"

"And love to Miss Amber and little Mr Jamal, too. Thanks, bro."

There in the quiet, Hal drinks the rest of his beer and organizes his thoughts. Recession, microclimate, dementia, stress, natural hunting instincts. Perfectly logical explanations for the weird. Perfectly, totally logical. He hasn't been touched by any damn thing.

Hortense comes back out and sits at his feet, Bastet no longer. When Melissa comes home, she drops down into his lap and kisses him with concentrated attention, so deep he can taste the Mexican food from Pedro's she must have had for dinner. "You okay, babe?" she asks softly. "You bothered about bad news?"

"Not really," he says, and kisses her again, kisses her til all the shivers are good ones.

He grabs some food, they watch TV, they have sex on the couch, they go to bed. Everything's normal, everything's logical.

When he gets up for his morning run, though, Melissa doesn't stir, mummified in the blankets. Hortense isn't around. And the world is covered in mist, fog lapping at his doorstep.

For a second, he contemplates staying in, just skipping the damn run completely. But there's a pressure in his body, a scrape of tension he can't explain, telling him he's got to go today.

He contemplates taking another route from his usual, but two tree-service trucks are blocking the street over. Okay. Sure. He'll run his usual.

And as he starts to move, feet a drumbeat echoing through the empty world, he begins to sing to himself. "'In the mood, Be mine forever'...."

He runs straight toward Ash Avenue. The mist gets heavier with every step, every note.

.................................



Happy midweek, without frogs or other bad omens! ;-)

(16 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:anne_d
Date:October 27th, 2010 12:25 pm (UTC)
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I don't know if I can express this coherently, but I'll try - having people and things in your normal life suddenly go weird on you, that's what really scares me.

By the way, this:

Is it possible for a single block to have a microclimate different from everywhere else? Like, a tendency for morning mist?

We have a couple of those spots - the back yard can be five to ten degrees colder, and it gets frost when the front doesn't, and some mornings, you walk up to the block north of us, and walk into a much cooler fog bank. So far, nothing else weird has happened, though.

[User Picture]
From:laurawise
Date:October 27th, 2010 03:59 pm (UTC)
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Yes yes, that's what scares me too! (So I write about it.)

And I wanted to acknowledge the truth of microclimates as well; it's certainly possible that a city block that was habitually misty might be so because of nature. Whether THIS block is naturally so, well...

;-)

Happy day to you and yours!
[User Picture]
From:janus_74
Date:October 27th, 2010 02:03 pm (UTC)
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Interesting. Gotta wonder if he really was touched by something.
[User Picture]
From:laurawise
Date:October 27th, 2010 03:59 pm (UTC)
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That is the question. :-)

Thank you thank you for reading and for asking it!
[User Picture]
From:heron_pose
Date:October 27th, 2010 02:29 pm (UTC)
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any day now ... i will read this.

frogs, yes. and i think we're having apocalyptically strange weather down here.

a whimper, not a bang, wot?

::hugs::
[User Picture]
From:laurawise
Date:October 27th, 2010 04:00 pm (UTC)
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[hugs and no apocalypses] Have a good Wednesday, H_P!
[User Picture]
From:paratti
Date:October 27th, 2010 05:46 pm (UTC)
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Loving it:)
[User Picture]
From:laurawise
Date:October 27th, 2010 08:27 pm (UTC)
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Thank you kindly, L, thank you kindly. :-)
[User Picture]
From:gwynnega
Date:October 27th, 2010 06:23 pm (UTC)
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Eeeeek. Now HE'S singing that song!

::hugs::
[User Picture]
From:laurawise
Date:October 27th, 2010 08:28 pm (UTC)
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Yes he is! Jeez, Hal, pay attention. ;-)

[hugs and thanks and a good day]
[User Picture]
From:mobile_alh
Date:October 27th, 2010 07:39 pm (UTC)
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Brrr...the shivers just got stronger (or I'm getting colder).

total agreement sbout normal people/things suddn\enly not being normal. Even more brrrrrrr.....

excellent spookiness.
[User Picture]
From:laurawise
Date:October 27th, 2010 08:29 pm (UTC)
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It's the little things becoming big things that are scary, yes! :-)

Thank you, ALH, thank you thank you. I do appreciate it.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:laurawise
Date:October 28th, 2010 12:51 am (UTC)
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Thank you, L, thank you for finding it creepy! Thanks thrice. ;-)
[User Picture]
From:stevie_carroll
Date:October 28th, 2010 04:59 am (UTC)
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Such a wonderfully ominous air to this one.
[User Picture]
From:laurawise
Date:October 28th, 2010 11:28 am (UTC)
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Thank you, Stevie. :-) I really appreciate your reading and kind words!

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