Article: 261281 of talk.bizarre
From: Andrew Solberg <>
Newsgroups: talk.bizarre
Subject: Marquette House nightmares: 4
Date: 1 Dec 1995 01:14:38 -0500
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Status: RO


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

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 

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. "


"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.  " 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.
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Andrew Solberg is HWRNMNBSOL:, Math Dept., Rice U.