Article: 261281 of talk.bizarre From: Andrew Solberg <email@example.com> Newsgroups: talk.bizarre Subject: Marquette House nightmares: 4 Date: 1 Dec 1995 01:14:38 -0500 Organization: iTRiBE Mail to News Gateway Lines: 162 Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Message-ID: <email@example.com> X-Mailer: ELM [version 2.4 PL23] X-Provider: iTRiBE, Inc <URL: http://www.itribe.net/> X-Gateway: Posted via the iTRiBE News<->Email gateway X-Disclaimer: iTRiBE, Inc. neither endorses nor assumes any responsibility for the contents of this posting. Status: RO GET OUT OF THE BOX ****************** It is summer. The day is hot and humid and very, very slow. The crickets are very loud. We are running low on supplies. We need candles, gasoline, trash bags, and pesticide. The vermin are spreading again, and they don't care for vermin at Marquette House. Particularly the dead things. They hate vermin. It is time to go into town. Town is a quarter of a mile away. There is no car. I must walk into town. It will not take long, and it will get me away from the house. I enjoy going into town. There isn't much else to enjoy. The gravel drive, only slightly weedy due to my ministrations, crunches under my feet. The sycamores arch overhead. The sun is too bright, but I do not have sunglasses. I pull my hat low over my face. I turn off the drive onto the road. The road is paved but has no lines painted on it. It is cracked from the heat and weather. It is very flat; I can see the water- mirage up ahead. It's damned hot. I'll get a beer in town. The town is at an intersection. The crossing roads look exactly alike. There aren't any signs saying what goes where. There isn't even a GET OUT OF THE BOX sign saying what the town's name is. It's just 'the town'. It's not much of a town, either. It's got maybe fifty people living in it. That's not a very big town. But it has a store. The store has two rusty gas pumps out in front. A sign with removable numbers tells how much gas costs. Most of them have blown down. There's a chair on the porch in front of the store, next to the door. Nobody's in it. A sign in one of the windows advertises beef jerky for $1.29 a stick. The other window has no sign, but it's cracked. I go inside the store. Mindy is at the counter. Mindy is small-boned and has very large eyes. She looks at me when I walk in. "Hello, Andy," she says. "How are things out at the House?" Everybody in town calls the place the House. "Things are okay, I guess," I say, and get a beer out of the sliding cooler. The counter has two high-backed stools, for paying customers only. I sit in one and drink my beer. Mindy looks at me solemnly. I look back. Without warning, she lifts her hands up from behind the counter to reveal a large rubber band. She draws and shoots in one easy motion. The rubber band hits me squarely in the head. I jerk my head in surprise and my hat falls off. "Hey!" I say, bending over to pick up my hat. "What'd you do that for?" "To get some life into you." Mindy's like that. She's full of juice. Nobody else in town has juice. They know better. Mindy knows better too. She has juice anyway. So far, nobody's hauled her away. "I swear, Andy," she says, turning to GET OUT OF THE BOX flip on the fan, "when you came here four months ago, I didn't figure you'd turn out dead like everybody else. But you did, didn't you? You're about as dead as a chicken with its head cut off." I sip at my beer. "Chickens keep moving when you cut off their heads. They run all over the place. How dead is that?" Mindy leans over the counter and arches her eyebrows at me. "Now that's a very, very good question." I finish my beer. "Mindy, I'm damned if I can make sense of half of what you say. I need to pick up some stuff and then I'm out of here. I'll have another beer for the road, and I'll need...." I stop. Mindy has taken a pump-action shotgun out from under the counter. It is lying where my beer had been. Mindy is staring steadily at me. I look at her. "Listen," she says, freezing me with her eyes. "I got this and a .22 target pistol. I got that old Jeep's block repaired; it's running now, full of gas and ready to roll. I got a week's worth of supplies all packed up. I can jump in the driver's seat and be motoring out of here inside of thirty seconds." I look at the gun. I look at her. "You'd never make it." "I might." There is no hint of GET OUT OF THE BOX uncertainty in her voice. "I might do better with a copilot. You might come along with me." "What, now?" "You got a dinner date or something?" "I can't leave my son." "He's lost and you know it. They got him now. Look, Andy," she says, putting a hand over her eyes, "I'm starting to lose it. They wear you down, around here; you lose your will to keep moving. They got just about everybody else, except maybe you and me. They'll get us soon, though. If we make a move, it's got to be now. *Now*, Andy!" I can see that she is right. Old feelings of resentment are starting to come back to me -- feelings that had been buried for a long time. I used to fight their will at every turn, back when my car broke down and I wandered, all unknowing, into this hell. I had been dulled down, but not made completely useless. I had just enough spark to make a decision. "Okay," I said flatly. "I'm coming with " GET OUT OF THE BOX. " huh? "Get out of the box." The store has gone crazy. Things that were solid are now two-dimensional. The world outside the windows looks like a painted-on scene. I am sitting on a stool made of cardboard and toothpicks. I look up. There is no roof. A giant pair of eyes stare down at me. "Get out of the box." I get out of the box. I am in a cramped attic room. On a small table in the middle of the room is a diorama. It is a crude representation of the store. All the props are there. On the far side of the room is the Puppetmaster, a hunched and gibbering old man. He is dangling something in his hands. It is a small wooden marionette. Its eyes are very large. The Puppetmaster cackles and looks at me slyly. "Did you remember the candles? I need my candles." I stare at him. "Was I ever there?" I ask, not really expecting an answer. "Of course!" he sputters indignantly, marching forward and stabbing a finger into my chest. "Of course you were there! It was all real!" The sly look returns to his eyes. "....in the box, that is. It was real in the box." "But the box isn't real." "What is real? Let me tell you something, my boy," says the Puppetmaster, folding up his diorama and putting it up on a shelf: "It's boxes all the way down." He turns to face me squarely, all sense of humor gone from his manner. "Now go get me my candles." I go downstairs and walk into town, again. (?) The store is the same. Gina, whose husband is the constable, is behind the counter. "Where's Mindy?" I ask. She frowns. "Who?" -- This post is COPYRIGHT 1995, Andrew Solberg. All rights reserved. Standard usenet distribution is acceptable; other forms of reproduction or reprinting may be considered in violation of international copyright law. Andrew Solberg is HWRNMNBSOL: firstname.lastname@example.org, Math Dept., Rice U.