“Another day, another dollar towards beer money,” I thought as I pulled into my company’s parking lot. As I walked into the office, I heard the gruff, deep voice of my manager Jerry say, “Hey bub, yer goin’ out of area today.”
‘Out of area,’ meaning I was going to be driving to the middle of nowhere, get maybe one job completed, then have to be back here by sun down. As I was pondering my shitty situation, Jerry walked up to me and slapped me on the back like a mildly alcoholic dad who doesn’t know the meaning of too hard and said:
“You hear me, Bobby?"
“Yeah, I’m making less money for the good of the company, right?”
Jerry’s brow furrowed. The sarcasm in my voice was almost beyond his grasp, but eventually he got it, “Listen here, you little ass-clown, the company will pay double for yer gas, will take the drive into account for yer bonus and give you free service for your truck. They treat us good if you do good by them.” Jerry, a portly, balding, middle-aged middle manager gave the same speech in the same tone to anyone who had ever complained about doing anything extra. Of course, though, I had to ask him why the heck I had to do it today. "Because Roger,” Jerry said, referring to the guy that worked the northern most tip of our area, “decided that he hated you and called off this morning."
“Yeah, but why am I the one who has to take his work?” I asked, mildly surprised of Jerry’s own sarcasm.
“Because I think you’re a limp-dicked asshole who needs to learn him some work ethic. And don’t go talkin’ about how you served in the Marines and you worked hard, blah blah blah. I fought in the Gulf under General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, and I know hard work. People like you turned the Corps into a bunch of pussies.”
Jerry, if you didn’t notice, was a Marine like myself, but he served the Corps in the time before the "pussy" generation, as he so eloquently dubbed millennials. But to be honest, he was a warehouse manager (like he is now), while when I was in the Corps, I was busy dodging pissed off Taliban snipers and IEDS, so screw him.
“I know, Jerry, I’m a pussy because I actually wore my body armor, but, anyhoo, before we start a dick-measuring contest, where the hell am I going?” I asked, trying to avoid our normal arguments.
Jerry sighed and said, “Out in the Ozarks, near Grand Gap.”
Grand Gap. Literally a post office and a general store smack dab in the middle of a massive forest.
"The place is on a side road/driveway that goes for about two miles off of AR-7. The customer needs two rooms done and a satellite dish set up," Jerry finished. He sounded like he may have felt bad, because he knew how much I hate setting up those dishes, and on top of that the chance of us actually getting a signal for the satellite was little to none.
“So, I’m driving 120 miles out to the mountains so I can tell some backwoods inbred that he can’t get his TV because of the trees? I must have been a murderer in a past life, man,” I complained. "And yes, Jerry, I friggin’ know I’ll be compensated regardless."
A couple of minutes later I loaded up my truck and started the long trip north into the mountains and away from the safety of familiarity. I knew the drive would take well over an hour and a half on relatively empty roads, so I started to let my mind wander.
I’d been with Cable, Satellites and More! for about two years, now, and it still amazes me I haven’t quit and/or killed myself yet. The hours suck, the pay is sub-par, and upper management spends most of their time on their knees sucking off the big Cable companies, begging for scraps.
Now, you may be asking yourself: how the hell did a combat veteran with access to the GI bill and four years of “leadership” training end up installing cable in Arkansas? Well, the best way to answer that is instead of taking classes and getting a skilled labor job, I wanted to be a bad-ass. At 18, I only wanted one gig: the infantry. It gives you the ability to act under pressure and learn how to lead men into combat, but when you get out most jobs want people with “applicable skills.”
So I tried college, a state school filled with former professionals turned professors, expansive libraries brimming with information, companies from all over the world recruiting to get the pick of the best candidates. Oh and girls, lots and lots of girls. Now, I probably don’t have to tell you, but I only paid any attention to the last one. See, when you spend four years of your life surrounded by dudes, a plethora of chicks in yoga pants kinda distract you. And seriously, being the only non-bearded, non-vaping alpha male on campus got me laid, a lot. Like, I’m talking Ron Jeremy’s hairy ass would be jealous of me; well, for my frequency of fornication, not my GPA. But shit happens, and I got this gig while I was “directionless.”
“Directionless,” by the way, is the word used to describe me by my court appointed therapist. I’ll leave most of the details out, but some punk bitch decided to tell me not to sleep with his girlfriend while I was at State. I decided him eating my fist would be the best way for me to convey my feeling of distaste for his sentiment. One thing led to another, and I have to go see a shrink for my "PTSD." PTSD my ass, I liked what I did over there. Get up, go on patrol, possibly shoot some hodgies, then go back to the FOB. Simple. Now life is complicated: I gotta pay rent, I have to be "politically correct," and I can’t shoot anyone--even the people who drive slowly in the left fucking lane. Well, whatever, maybe I’ll be lucky and whoever this customer is will be a super-hot art student staying at her parent’s cabin for winter break. She’ll answer the door half naked, take one look at my manly frame (hopefully ignoring the pudge hangin’ over by belt) and invite me in to help her keep warm for the winter. I let my thoughts wander thinking about the pretty blonde, no, maybe brunette, waiting for me. Looking back, I really wish that was the case….
As I got closer to the address, the GPS on my phone started acting a bit finicky, but it was able to steer me to the right driveway. Well, driveway was a word, it was more or less a dirt path shrouded by old as hell white oak and cottonwood. I heard leaves and pines crinkle under the weight of my truck as I steered down the narrow track. As I drove deeper, I noticed that this part of the forest was dense and looked barely touched. See, I went camping in the Ozarks every year with my dad up until I was 17. Almost everywhere we went you could tell the woods had been affected by people in some way. You know, random peace of trash, carved initials of young lovers, tire or human tracks and all that shit. These trees, this path and everything it encompassed seemed to have remained unscathed, even though someone apparently lived out here. It was strange, to say the least. Especially because there seemed to be no tire tracks going up the driveway.
The path dragged on and on and it seemed to narrow out to the point where I didn’t think I could fit my truck on it much longer. Then I saw a small patch of brighter Earth and an open area about 200-yards ahead of me. I silently thanked the man upstairs that I wouldn’t have to lug all my equipment through the woods.
As I approached the opening, I caught my first glimpse of the house, or better yet shitpile I’d be working on today. It stood (well, slumped) at around two stories, with rotted wood siding and maybe two out of ten windows not smashed in. The front lawn was just dirt, leaves and pines scattered around. I couldn’t fucking believe my eyes. 'How am I supposed to install TV boxes when there is no power?' I thought. ‘This is probably some redneck with a makeshift wind turbine strapped to a tree. Probably going to ask why he can’t get his Nascar.’
I scanned for the front door and saw a dilapidated plank covering the largest of the house’s orifices. I decided that was my best bet as a front door. At this point, I was just honestly hoping no one was home. There was no car, everything was overrun and there couldn't possibly be a decent source of power anywhere on this property. But God was definitely not on my side that day. As I approached the front door, I saw movement beyond one of the non-smashed-in windows. I may have seen some shit overseas, but someone actually living out here in this busted house couldn’t be someone I wanted to be alone with. But if I didn’t at least try to complete the job, I wouldn’t get paid any bonus.
As I arrived to the plank/door, I slowly reached my hand to knock, but before I could reach, it swung open. Behind the door was a person, at the least what was left of a person after spending a few months at a concentration camp. This guy stood at six foot tall, no more than 120 pounds, white as a ghost and seemed to be made of only bones and thinly stretched skin. He looked like somebody sucked all the fat and sinew out of his body. But the creepiest part was his eyes. They seemed empty, the pupils so expansive that I couldn’t make out the color and barely see the whites. I realized I’d been staring and looked down at my paperwork.
“Good morning sir, is this the residence of Mr. Vidher?” I barely got it out before he opened the black hole that was his mouth.
“Why have you come?” His words rolled off his tongue, heavily laden with a thick, syrupy Scandinavian accent. I barely could respond; here I was trying to install a Satellite for Count Dracula, and he doesn’t ask me what I want, or who I am, but "why have I come?" Who the hell says that?
“I…I’m your cable technician, here to get your TVs set up,” I stammered. It was all I could get out with his pitch black eyes staring right through me. He continued to stare for what felt like an hour until he opened the whole in his face.
“Oh, yes come forth into my home. I will show you where you will be working. But be warned, I do not like anything in my home touched. Your business here is the televisions only. Is that understood?”
'This guy looked like fucking Skeletor and sounds like a James Bond villain,' I thought. Aloud I said, “Yes sir, I won’t touch any of your stuff, or knick-knacks or personals. Just want to set up the TV’s and head back to Little Rock.” He stared at me for a second and turned towards the dark house, beckoning for me to follow.
As I trailed my gaunt host into the ramshackle house, I couldn’t help but notice the nauseating scent of decaying meat, mixed with a tinge of rusted copper. It was as if I wandered into an abandoned slaughterhouse and I could smell the years of blood and decomposition of millions of animal parts.
‘Don’t think like that man, this guy is probably a hunter; lives off the grid and finally decided he missed ESPN and called us up,’ I thought. But the smell wasn’t the only off-putting characteristic of Mr. Vidher’s home: it was the décor--or lack thereof.
The front door opened directly into what can barely be described as a living room. The only sign that an actual human lived here was a decrepit rocking chair that looked like it was the sole survivor of Dresden. The wood was badly scorched, and the only parts that weren’t burned were heavily frayed. I felt like if I sat down in it I would be pulling a thousand splinters out of my ass and wiping flecks of charred wood off my pants for eternity. I took my eyes off of the chair and finally saw the “TV” I’d be connecting the receiver to. I say TV sarcastically, because I’m pretty sure the set I grew up with 29 years ago was more advanced. I saw that the ancient beast still had the original wood paneling and everything. I hoped to God I had some sort of adapter in the truck, because no way I was telling Dr. Frankenstein I didn’t have the parts.
“Now, this is the first Television. It is a Zenith from 1949. I was told your company specialized in connecting new age media to these types of TV sets, am I correct?” Mr. Vidher turned and looked at me with his empty eyes as he asked this.
“Should be, I can always figure it out,” I lied. The oldest TV I set up was from the ‘90s.
'I’m so fucked,' I thought. ‘I’m going to punch that punk-bitch Roger in the fuckin’ throat as soon as I see him. Motherfucker better buy me a beer for calling out.’
“Good, I would be very disappointed if I do not have my shows.” Vidher, I think, smiled as he said this and put an intense emphasis on "very."
He let me pause in the living room to assess the back of the TV. One look was all I needed. One look told me I was utterly fucked. This TV did not have a single connection I recognized. But I had an idea. The job description I received for Mr. Vidher stated he did not want the Satellite on the roof, he wanted it on a pole, and from my experiences with these types of mounts there is a high chance that this guy won’t get a signal, or the ground ain’t right for a mount. All I had to do was take my satellite reader and pretend there wasn’t a trace of a signal. Oh, and I forgot to mention: explain to this guy he wasn’t getting his shows until my manager came out and verified. Eh, fuck it. Jerry can die for the company he loves, I’ll get over it. As my spirit started to lighten and my mood turned from depressed and terrified to less depressed and slightly hopeful, my customer decided I was staring at his TV for too long.
"I will lead you to the next TV. Hopefully this next one will not take too long for you to study." He sounded pissed, so I gave him the go ahead to bring me further into his creepy-ass house.
“So I, uh, I saw the power outlet behind the TV, but no power lines to the house. Is there a generator connected somewhere?” I had to ask, because I didn’t hear the loud hum of a generator, nor did I see any sign of power being run to the house.
My host turned to look at me with his vacant eyes and hissed, “How my home works should not concern you.” As he said this, I could see what little blood this guy had in his body rush to his face. He was angry, and seemed barely able to contain it. He turned back around and started heading further and faster towards the back of the house. I was about to apologize as I fought to keep up with him, but something caught my eye. It was a picture on the wall, one of those old-timey portraits you see in people’s grandparent’s house. I could only take a quick look, but from what I could tell even in black and white, one of the men in the portrait looked exactly like Mr. Vidher, like to a T. The only difference was the guy in the picture had normal eyes and didn’t look so disproportionate. It couldn’t be him. This picture had to be from the 1880's or something.
Vidher stopped abruptly, before I could finish studying the picture, and pointed toward an open doorway to our right.
He said, “This is where the last TV is, and it is exactly like the first one. Do you need to stare at it incessantly, or will the information I have given you be enough?” As he asked this I could literally feel the sarcasm and frustration pouring out of him.
'What the fuck is this guy’s problem?' I thought, then aloud I said with a forced smile, “Just knowing the type and where it is will be enough for me.” The weirdo seemed satisfied with my answer and took me a bit further to a back door flanked by two more busted-out windows. He opened the door and walked through them to the backyard, which was as equally disheveled as the front.
"Okay, sir, I know you want the satellite somewhere in the yard, so I’m going to go ahead and try to find a signal. I’ll come knock on the door when I do."
He looked at me and said, “I will stay outside. You seem young and I generally do not trust the youth.”
How the fuck are you supposed to respond to that? I looked over at Mr. Creepy and said, “Uh, okay, it’s kinda boring but feel free to watch.” No other way to follow someone telling you he doesn’t trust you. Well who could blame him? I was planning on saying there was no signal, even if there was one and going home. As I started wandering around the yard, hitting random buttons on my signal finder to further help my goal of pretending to find a signal, I was able to take in more of my host. His eyes and ugly-ass face kept me from looking at what he was wearing. His clothing looked as worn as he did. His long black coat was covered in Irish pennants and his white button-up shirt was slathered in old stains.
‘Jesus, this guy is just all sorts of fucked up,’ I thought. As I was wandering around the yard, I also noticed something else that was a bit suspect. Every three to five yards or so there seemed to be little holes recently covered up. It looked like he was planting a garden, or maybe some trees. I would have asked, but he was clearly not much of a conversationalist.
After about ten minutes of drifting around and hitting random buttons (my host’s eyes never left me), I decided it was now or never to tell him I had no signal.
“Sir, I hate to say this, but due to the trees in the area, I have no line to your provider’s Satellite. o me, the only option would be to remove some of the foliage…” I was barely able to finish before the anger flashed in his big dead eyes and the blood rushed to his face again.
“YOU WILL NOT TOUCH ANY OF MY TREES, THEY ARE PRECIOUS TO ME!” As he screamed this he closed the 10-yard gap between us in three steps. “AND YOU WILL GIVE ME MY SHOWS!”
He was so close to me by this point that the lifeless holes on his face were mere centimeters away. Okay, this was my final fucking straw with this goddamn psycho. But alas, I would lose my gig if I blew up on one more customer.
I took a deep breath and said in my best customer service voice, “I understand you are upset, sir. I think the best way to resolve the dilemma is to try to get my manager out here.” To myself, I thought, ‘Fuck Jerry, let’s see how tough his ‘Old Corps’ is when he meets this crazy motherfucker.’ As I said this, Vidher seemed to settle down and the blood stopped pooling in his face.
“Very well, but you must know I care very deeply about my forest, you mustn’t harm it in any way,” he said, still containing a hint of his anger. “What needs to be done next?”
“Well, I need to go get the proper forms for you to sign then we can go ahead and call Jerry, my manager, and do not worry about the trees, we won’t touch them,” I said, trying not to smirk.
“Is this Jerry as insolent as you and as uncaring about my forest?” he asked with heavy disdain.
I looked up at him, trying with all my might to not look pissed and said (only slightly sarcastically, I might add), “Not at all, he is a perfect gentlemen and he loves trees. I mean, the guy has at least twelve in his backyard.” Somehow, this satisfied the tree loving psycho.
"Okay, well, I’m going to run over to my truck and get the forms. Want me to meet you inside?" I asked, hoping he would say no and that I wouldn’t have to go back into that terrifying place.
“No, I will be out here, waiting.” As he said this he seemed to root himself on the spot he was standing, like his trees, and remained unmoving. I took this as my sign to get the fuck back to my truck and get Jerry’s fat ass out here. Not wanting to go through that horror show of a house, I took the long way around the side and back to the safety of my waiting truck. As I passed the side of the house, I saw something that caught my eye.
A massive painting was hung on the wall, possibly being the only object not completely dilapidated, but still very creepy. The painting was of a massive tree, but it looked like all the branches ended with a human head with no eyes and dripping out blood. But the trunk of the tree decided it had to out-do the branches in the most fucked up contest ever. The trunk was shaped like a man whose legs were firmly rooted into the ground, its body straight as an arrow and its arms held high in the air, turning into the aforementioned branches. But the face of the trunk-man took the cake for the macabre challenge. The mouth was locked in a permanent scream, spewing rivulets blood that pooled up at the tree’s roots. The eyes were wide open, seemingly fixated on the branches above as if in a trance with the gore-stained scene going on above its head.
“What the fuck…” I mumbled to myself. “If you were smart, Bobby, you would leave.” But alas, I’m a dumb redneck grunt from Little Rock and I refused to leave until the paperwork was signed. I had bills to pay. So, I decided to ignore the massive evidence that this place was probably not too safe and continued on to my truck.
As I approached my truck, I couldn’t help but notice that it looked significantly lower. Now before you have to ask, yes, my truck was lifted and I may or may not be compensating for something. Regardless of my inadequacies, as I got closer I saw that my two front tires had gone flat. I said aloud to myself, “Fuck me sideways…. How the fuck…Fuck....” I nearly yelled the last "fuck," but I kept it down so I wouldn’t have to deal with Vidher.
I walked over to my now useless vehicle and inspected the tires, and when I realized what had happened, I silently cursed myself. Since I was so busy trying to avoid lugging equipment around, I had not noticed I parked directly on top of an upraised tree root.
Fuck. Now I had to not only make Jerry come here, but I’d need him to pick me up some spares. He was going to be pissed.
I took one more look at the depressing sight that was my lifted 24-inch custom tires and opened the front cab. I started fumbling around with my little folder filled with different paperwork until I found the right documents. Thankfully I had one copy left; first good news of the fucking day. The shitty part of the no-signal process is that you need the customer to verbally confirm with the manager that they want the sight issue confirmed. Don’t ask me why, probably some legal bullshit. I started making my way back to the yard, but this time I took the side that didn’t have the creepy-ass painting on it.
As I arrived again to the backyard, I couldn’t help but notice the absence of Mr. Vidher.
“Shit,” I muttered to myself. I headed towards where he was last standing. Maybe he was taking a leak behind one of his precious trees, and God knows there was no plumbing in that horror show of a house. I made my way towards the end of the yard, carefully avoiding the little mounds and started scanning the tree line. After about 30 seconds I started to turn away and make the walk to the front door, hoping that he didn’t want me to come inside. But as I was turning, I caught a glimpse of something black billowing about a 100 yards away in the woods. I moved in a bit closer and further away from the house and could sort of make out the object.
It was Vidher’s jacket! As I took a closer look I then saw a black boot only a few feet from where I was standing and another roughly 30 yards past that. ‘Did this guy just strip down and wander into the woods?’ Well, this was it: the weirdest fucking day of my life.
Now, you may be thinking: why didn’t I book it and flag down the first car I saw and get the hell out of dodge? The answer is, I’m an idiot and I’m curious by nature. Also, I couldn’t just leave a job. It would apparently jeopardize the trust between my small company and the big ones we contract for. My next step would be to call Jerry and figure out what the hell I need to do.
I pulled up my phone and hit Jerry’s number. As I waited for the familiar gruff voice to ask, "What the fuck do you want?" the phone cut off. I looked down at my screen and saw the dreaded "call was lost" tag pop in front of my screen.
Fuck me right in the goddamn ass.
I tried again, and this time it wouldn’t even ring once. I started wandering around the backyard hoping there was a stronger signal somewhere, when finally I gave up. My efforts were fruitless. It dawned on me that Jerry was with one of our new guys today up near Mountain View, about 100 miles east of where I was and a good two hour drive. On top of that, the cell service may have been even worse out there.
No other manager was in today, even if I could get service they wouldn’t pick up. My only option was to call the dispatch office for the satellite company. The folks over there have about zero sympathy for us not completing a job that was given to us, but having someone at least be aware of my situation may stop me from being canned. I made my way to the front yard and thankfully found a single bar of service. Just in case, I tried Jerry again, but nada.
I started scrolling through my contacts list and found the number I was looking for. It started ringing (thank God for small miracles) and thankfully I heard a pleasant female voice.
“Thank you for calling Northern Star, the number one satellite TV provider in North America. How can I assist you today?” Wow, all this time saying I got to call someone I had no idea what to tell them exactly.
“Ummm, hi, I’m a contractor out of Little Rock… and uh, I have a bit of an issue with my current appointment.”
I waited for a moment and I heard the lady sigh and say in an annoyed voice, “Have you tried calling your manager?”
These fucking heartless bastards. I needed a small amount of assistance, but it was too much of a fucking problem to take a call. "SOP dictates you speak to your manager before calling us," I’ve heard 150 times.
I wanted to say, "Well, ya bitch he has no service. I barely got this call going." But instead I tried a more diplomatic approach.
“I apologize, I know this isn’t standard, but I cannot reach my boss, he is out of service.” I waited, praying she would just have some sympathy in her heart.
“Okay, sir, I will transfer you to your area dispatcher. Prepare to hold.” And like that I was sitting there in the middle of nowhere listening to the soft melodies of Loggins and Messina while I waiting for my dispatcher.
The music abruptly stopped and I heard an equally pleasant, yet male voice on the other end. “This is Jack, heard you got a problem out there in Little Rock.”
Thank God, this guy wasn’t a dick.
“Hey, Jack, I got some weird stuff going on out here and I’m definitely nowhere near Little Rock. I’m in the Ozarks, deep down in some backwoods stuck with an MIA customer,” I blurted out. “Oh, shit, the job number. Here it is: 306742.”
I heard Jack typing away at his keyboard, and a few mouse clicks later he said, “Okay, a Mr. Vidher. Oh yeah, he is totally out of your work area. How’d ya end up out there?”
“Fucking callout man,” I said, realizing these phone calls may be monitored and I should ease up on the cussing.
“Ok, so you said he is MIA? Like he isn’t home?”
“No Jack, I went to my truck to grab some shit--I mean stuff--and I came back and this guy was just gone. The weirdest part though, I saw a trail of his clothes leading out into the forest.”
“Like, his clothes?”
“Yeah, man, his clothes. From what I could see, it was his jacket and both his boots.” Even I was starting to think this was made up, there was no way this guy believed me.
“Whelp, I’m looking through all my notes here and there is not a single SOP explaining what to do if a customer wanders off into the woods. But I am pulling up some satellite images of the area and I do see a small pond formation about half a kilometer from his house. Maybe he went swimming.” As he said this I could hear him stifling his laughter.
“Look, I know this sounds crazy, but there is a whole bunch of creepy-ass stuff going on around here. The guy is terrifying looking, the house is barren except for an almost 70 year old Zenith and a ratty-ass rocking chair and not to mention the painting,” I replied, hearing the frustration in my own voice.
“Painting?” Jack asked, either moved by my tirade or trying to avoid a confrontation with a crazy person. I couldn’t tell, but he definitely sounded less light-hearted. After he asked this I gave him a brief description of the picture I saw, what the guy looked like, and even the weird little mounds, and for a fleeting moment he was silent.
“I don’t know how to tell you this, but as long as he wasn’t a danger to you or under the influence of alcohol, you’re gonna need the paperwork signed,” Jack stated matter-of-factly, “but to me that would be absurd. This whole situation sounds crazier than a group of shit-house rats, and I think you should just call it a day. I mean, I wouldn’t want to be there, and I’m sure your company would let it slide if you said you felt uncomfortable.”
I liked this guy, he didn’t just state the guidelines and hang up. He reacted in a logical manner and said something a non-office drone would say. Never thought I would meet a company man who thinks like an actual person.
“Well, I’d say that solution would cover the rest of my problems, but I got another issue. My two front tires are blown and I only got one spare,” I said hearing the defeat in my voice.
“Don’t worry about it, I’ll contact a local t………”
As Jack was about to offer me my salvation from this mess I heard the high-pitch scream of a woman coming from out in the forest. Last time I heard a scream like that some civvie in Afghanistan found her kid torn to shreds by an IED.
"Bobby, you all right? What was that?"
I could hear Jack, but my senses were dialed up to ten and I could feel goose flesh forming on my skin.
"Bobby did you hear me? What the fuck was that?" Jack asked again, but this time I answered.
“Some lady screaming bloody murder right in the goddamn direction that weirdo walked in,” I whispered, trying to keep myself unnoticeable. “Jack, my mind’s telling me to run down this driveway and don’t look back, but if I leave some woman out here to some horrible fate I’ll hate myself for it.”
“Bobby, everything about this place sounds horrifying, but that had to be a neighbor or someth--” I cut Jack short.
“Man, you got the sat images. There ain’t a single fuckin’ person around except for crazy-eyes out there. He had an upstairs, could have been keeping a chick up there for all we know. And the minute I left he grabbed her and took her to the woods to....” I couldn’t finish the sentence, I was already all nerves and thinking of someone getting killed or worse out there might have put me over the edge.
"Jack, by the time the cops get out here….. If someone’s getting hurt…. I think I need to go out there." I couldn’t hear Jack on the other end, he was contemplating what I said.
“If you’re dead set on wandering off into the woods and confronting whatever is out there, go grab your Bluetooth and bring me along for the ride. I’ll try to call the local PD on the other line,” Jack said. I honestly thought he would at least try to stop me.
“Okay, Jack, I will. Let me just get some stuff from my truck,” I responded, thankful I wouldn’t be fully alone. I made my way again to my truck and reached under the seat to grab my piece. Call me a band wagoner, but I do love me a Glock. I put the gun in the front seat and put my Bluetooth in my ear.
"Jack you hear me?" I asked. Those Bluetooth earpieces were finicky at best, and I didn’t want to lose my only companion.
“Yeah, I got you. Are sure you want to do this?”
Now he’s asking.
“Yeah, man. Some poor lady might be getting hurt out there. It’s my civic fucking duty,” I said, trying not to reveal how terrified I was. I grabbed a magazine from the tool box and started pushing .40 caliber rounds into it. I slammed that bad boy in the pistol and pulled the slide back with an audible click.
“Do you… have a gun…?” Jack asked hesitantly.
“You bet your sweet ass I do. I’m in Arkansas and we actually have the right to defend ourselves out here.”
“I’m not judging, just glad you have some protection. I mean, SOP dictates I have you fired, but the situation seems to call for a gun.”
“Thanks, Jack.” A hint of a smile formed on my face as a question came to my mind.
“Are you in a cubicle right now?” I asked, thinking of the irony of a guy wrapped up in his pre-death coffin listening to me embark on an adventure, or quite possibly my untimely demise.
“That’s really what you’re going to ask me? Not like, 'Hey Jack can you call the cops?' Or, 'Hey Jack, can you convince me not to walk into the scary woods towards a screaming person?' Or, 'Why are you condoning this, Jack?” he blurted out, sounding a bit exasperated. "I can answer the last. I spent eight years in the Army, and my old lady wanted me to take a desk job when we had a kid. Now I’m stuck rotting away in a desk, hoping for just a taste of something interesting."
I felt for the guy, I mean, I’d rather be in a temperature controlled office building not worrying about monsters or whatever the fuck was out there, but still I’d probably rather die than have to make small talk with a bunch of office drones every day, so I guess I was on the fence about who had it worse.
"Oh, and no, I’m actually in management. Just took over for one of my guys who is sick. So I’m not in a cubicle, you prick, I’m in my own office. I have a window," Jack said triumphantly. I couldn’t help but laugh a little. Looked like this guy got screwed by a callout, too.
The walk from my truck to the edge of the forest was less than a football field, but every step felt like a mile. I could feel my heart beating in my throat and my stomach was turning to knots. The perspiration on my forehead started to drip into my eyes as I made my way towards the tree line. I decided that maybe talking while I still could would alleviate some of the fear that was building up. I wiped the sweat away from my eyes as I said the first thing that came to my mind.
“So Jack what’d you do in the Army?”
I heard a sigh on the other end of the line and then, “After OCS I went straight to job training in Civil Affairs, then airborne, then air-assault, and lastly Ranger school. After four years I made Captain, went to PSYOPS and transferred over to 1st Special Forces Command. Another odd question to ask at a time like this Bobby.” The first part sounded rehearsed. He probably got asked a lot.
“Yeah, just trying to build up courage here. And PSYOPS huh? Passing out flyers or doing shady shit?” I asked, hoping I didn’t sound too judgmental.
With none of the lightheartedness I heard him speak with before, he stated, “Shady shit.” All my experiences with anyone, even support personal, in Special Forces was generally negative. They were always trying to be mysterious and act like whatever they did was secretive or clandestine. In reality, there was probably a 23 years old NSA intern with a pimpled face and thick rimmed glasses that had more security clearance then these ‘super-soldiers’. But I liked Jack and I know PSYOPS guys probably really do some weird shit besides yelling at Taliban on a loud speaker, so I’d give him the benefit of a doubt.
“But I definitely passed out my fair share of flyers on my first tour with PSYOPS,” Jack continued with a hint of a laugh, "You seem to know a thing or two about the military. You serve?"
“Yeah man. USMC 0311,” I said with gusto.
I heard another sigh and Jack stated, “Well if you survive I’ll buy you dinner. Gallon of glue and a brand new box of Crayola’s sound good to you?”
I let out a laugh, some of the fear assuaged and said lightheartedly, “Fuck you.” Not my best comeback, but I had just reached the edge of the forest and the humor I felt moments ago dissipated and was replaced by that stomach knotting fear.
"Alright, Jack, I just made it to the…." Again, another ear-piercing scream came from farther into the woods. But unlike the last, this one didn’t finish. It seemed to be cut off at the last second. It was go time, and I started running full tilt into the unknown.
“Bobby, quit running. Whatever is out there is gonna hear you coming. And besides, whoever was screaming, doesn’t sound like they made it,” Jack whispered in my ear. See that’s the difference between a guy like me and a guy like Jack. I think tactically and in the short term, Jack, obviously a strategy thinker, decided that there was no point risking me or our chance to stop whatever was out there for someone who was probably dead. Fuck it, though, maybe this girl was hot, and if she wasn’t too jacked up I might get a blowie out of this.
"I don’t hear you slowing down, Bobby."
“Yeah, that’s because I’m a crayon eating Marine and I want to kick some--”
Another scream, followed by, “HELP MEEEE! PLEASE SOM---“
The rest cut off by another scream from the speaker followed by a vulgar tearing sound and a noise I can only describe as a bucket of chum being dumped out on a dry dock. The screams this time came from maybe 30 yards ahead of me, but the sounds had stopped completely, making everything eerily quiet. I heeded Jack’s advice and slowed my sprint to a walk. I got down and started low-crawling to where I thought the screams came from. As I inched closer, I could feel the roots and sticks making small cuts on my stomach. It was as if the whole forest floor had turned against me. But the pain subsided when I smelled something familiar: rusted copper.
I saw a large tree in my path and could make out a clearing beyond the it’s massive base. I inched behind the tree and took a quick glance into the clearing and I felt bile reach the back of my throat.
Vidher had his back to me as he was lifting up an axe and bringing it down on the body of a rather rotund and definitely dead woman. I guess you’re never too fat to be kidnapped.
Thwack. Thwack. Thwack.
He kept bringing the axe down over and over again on this lady’s already decimated corpse, blood misting and squirting out of her newly opened orifices. I also caught a glimpse of what had made the splattering chum noise. About three feet away from her body it looked as if her stomach was torn out and all of her innards were spilled onto the ground. It was a squirmy mass of intestines, kidneys and other organs, all leaking blood and other fluids. The smell of the blood, half-digested food, and shit from her punctured colon permeated the air; it was so strong I felt as if I could taste it.
“Jack?!” I whispered as quietly as I could into the Bluetooth. "This guy disemboweled a chick and is chopping her to pieces." Jack didn’t respond for what felt like ten years until I heard a quiet munching.
“Sorry, didn’t catch that got bored waiting and grabbed a snack. Snickers really do help hunger pangs, ya know?”
“Fuck, Jack. I’m out here watching some woman get butchered by a psychopath, and you’re eating a Snickers?!” I whispered, trying my hardest to keep Vidher unaware of my presence.
“Sorry Bobby, you weren’t saying much and I needed a snack. You’re still alive, so nothing too crazy happened,” Jack stated matter-of-factly. Avoiding the topic of the horror show in front of me, he continued. "Also I think I’m on to something. I did some research while you were fucking around in the woods, and I think I may know what you’re dealing with, but you ain't gonna like it brotha."
I was getting impatient and trying not to re-taste my daily egg McMuffin, so I said as quietly as I could while expressing my annoyance, “What? Just tell me, I doubt I can be more creeped out then I already am.”
“Well, between the tree, the mounds and Mr. Tall, Dark and Terrifying, I think you’re dealing with the evil Danish god of the forest,” Jack said without a hint of humor.
“What--the–fuck are you talking about?" I asked incredulously, and possibly a bit too loudly because Vidher suddenly stopped hacking.
'Oh shit, this is it. This is how I fucking die,’ I thought. But the footsteps and sudden death never came and the hacking resumed. Jack then spoke up.
“That was close, so anyhoo, I’ll explain what I found. I went onto some sort of occult google--never seen this search engine before, but basically you type in a description of a monster or whatever shit you are dealing with and it tells you what it is. And I’m pretty positive, from what you’ve told me, that you are dealing with a Danish forest god, who happens to be an evil prick. Like, super evil. He requires pieces of 1,000 corpses to build his army of humanoid tree monsters. So, for example, if you were to dig up those little mounds you saw, you would be finding fingers, toes, ears, and other human parts used as the seeds to grow his forest friends.” As Jack was speaking, I poked at a mound near my foot. As I did, the loose pile of dirt revealed a piece of a human ear, or tongue, or something. I don’t fucking know. I’m not a doctor. Jack continued:
“Next up is what he looks like. See, his body isn't a tree, per se, but it’s a tree with a face 'screaming his commands and looking to the heavens.’ Oh yeah, there’s severed heads on the tips of its branches that spout blood to help his tree babies grow. Any of this sound familiar?” Jack stated, sounding almost amused:
‘Sick fuck,’ I thought.
Aloud I whispered, “So Vidher is some sort of nut serial killer trying to complete his masterpiece of a god he worships?” After asking, I took another peak beyond the tree and saw Vidher bend over and pick up the lady’s head. He then walked over to the other side of the clearing and pulled out a massive ladder while balancing the blood-soaked head under his arm. Every time I looked out from my little cover it seemed as if there was more and more blood. I would say it was just from that chick's cut open body, but it seemed as if the whole clearing was covered in fresh, undisturbed pools of blood. And that’s when I realized that I had hidden behind the wrong fucking tree.
I looked up and saw the backs of hundreds of severed heads. If I didn’t see that painting I would have thought they looked like coconuts, but I knew better. And as to solidify that what I was seeing was real, a huge glob of blood spewed out of one of the heads and landed in the clearing with an audible splat. So here I was in the middle of the Ozarks leaning against some crazy effigy of a forgotten god with a psycho no more than 15-feet away from me luggin’ around a head. This is within the top five of the worst positions I have ever been in. Jack then spoke up on the headset.
“Hey, so here is something else in case your day wasn’t already ruined. Apparently Berstuk--that’s the god, by the way--has a sidekick that he grants immortality to for their service. The servant is described as being, ‘of great height, little girth and eyes as black as coal.’ That describes Vidher, right?” I swear Jack sounded almost excited about all of this. I took a quick glimpse into the clearing, and Vidher was failing at his balancing act and trying with great intensity to grasp both the ladder and the head. I took his moment of distraction and slowly made my way back towards where I came from and to get a safer vantage point.
“Jack, I made it back about 20-yards, can you do me a favor and call the cops? I don’t think I can do much more for that lady,” I whispered, still trying to keep quiet.
“Yeah, just gonna further ruin your day. I have tried about five times. Each time I try reaching the town you’re in, the call goes dead. I tried calling the police out here in Manhattan to see if they could do anything. They laughed and told me they can’t do much for somebody in the middle of the Ozarks. I think you may be on your own. Well, except for me, buddy. If it’s any consolation and you get killed by crazy devil worshipper or his pet tree god, I’ll avenge you.” Okay, Jack was either the calmest motherfucker on the planet, or he was truly enjoying all of this.
“So what the hell should I do, Jack? And why the FUCK are you so calm?”
Jack took a deep breath and spoke calmly almost coldly, “Put two rounds in his chest and one in his head. I highly doubt this guy or his tree are actually anything supernatural, just a nut-job who is obsessed with Danish folklore. And to answer your question, I spent a large amount of my life fighting some of the most violent, despicable terrorists on the planet. Some lady getting her guts spilled out and a skinny weirdo serial killer cutting people’s heads off isn’t too far from the shit I’ve seen.”
'Damn, this dude is hard,' I thought. ‘Probably the best dispatcher I could have had today.’
Aloud, I asked, "Okay, but what if they are, ya know, supernatural?" Once again in that cold voice, Jack spoke up.
“Per the article on these guys, you will need to ‘set aflame the old god Berstuk and the servant will again be mortal.’ So set Berstuk on fire before he comes alive and then shoot Vidher. Easy peas-y.”
'Damn, I bet this gung-ho-ass Army man wouldn’t be so tough if he was here facing this thing alone. But he sounds confident, I gotta have some faith,' I thought. I closed my eyes and kept my back to my new cover.
“You gunna do this, kid? Just go up there, tell him to freeze, put a few rounds in him, and when the cops finally show up just say he charged you. Oh yeah, I should mention this call isn’t being monitored and you probably shouldn’t mention parts of this conversation happening,” Jack said.
“Okay, I’m ready to put this asshole down and get the hell out of here,” I said, hoping I sounded less terrified then I felt.
“You got this, buddy,” Jack said, trying to motivate me. I started back towards the clearing with the nightmarish theme and a rotting pile of innards as quietly as I could. As I got closer, I could see Vidher on his ladder, fumbling to place the head on top of a branch. If it wasn’t so horrifying to look at, you would think he was an ordinary guy just putzin’ around his backyard, not a sociopath burying and hanging parts of desecrated corpses.
I gathered up what was of my shot nerves and bellowed, “Hey, Dickbag!”
Vidher turned his head toward me as I snuck up behind him.
“Get down off the ladder, slowly. Once you hit the ground, turn around and put your hands up.” I felt and sounded like a testosterone fueled cop. It was almost as cool as being a testosterone fueled Marine. But instead of listening to me, Vidher hopped down off the top of the ladder and turned to face me.
With a devilish sneer, he said, “Is my TV ready, cable boy?” He laughed at my perplexed look. “What, you think I should fear you and your mortal weapons?” As he was speaking, he started toward the axe that was resting between us.
"Lord Berstuk granted me the gift of an unending life as long as I facilitated his rebirth in our world and assisted him in becoming the ruler of the forests once more!"
He was no less than five feet from the axe when I yelled, “I’m warning you, nut job, do not take one more step. I will fucking spray your goddamn tree-puppet with your fucking brain matter!”
In my ear Jack shouted, “Nice line! Where’d you hear that, a movie?” Ignoring the psycho in my ear canal and keeping focus on the psycho reaching for the axe in front of me, I took a few steps back so to avoid any axe swings if Vidher reached for it.
“You are a fool, boy, I have been rebuilding the garden of Berstuk for over a century. Many mortals have tried to stop me, but their bodies and their glorious life’s blood belong to my Lord. And soon, Berstuk’s revival will be completed. But you, you will never bask in the glory of my Lord, for I shall bring down his justice and let his children bathe in your blood!”
As he said this he charged forward, reaching for the axe. I warned him not to move, but he made his choice.
BANG! BANG! BANG!
I felt the welcome feeling of the gun recoiling in my hand, and the vibrations it sent up my arm. My aim was a bit off, but all three rounds found a home. The first two ripped into his stomach, filling the already stinking clearing with the smell of rotted meat and fecal stew. The third snapped his head back as it buried its way between those black-as-night eyes, fulfilling my promise of spraying his precious tree with his brain matter and skull fragments. Vidher crumbled in a heap on the ground, adjacent to the left over pieces of the girl he butchered earlier. I heard a crackling on the Bluetooth.
“Is he dead?” Jack asked, again with that ice cold voice he donned when he was talking about taking lives and stacking bodies. I was pretty sure, but I started walking over to make certain I’d be facing manslaughter charges in my near future. I was a foot away when Vidher’s hand bolted out and grabbed my ankle. Pain shot up my leg, his grip like a bear trap.
I put two more rounds in his skull, which caused his head to once again violently flail backwards, smashing into the ground. But his fucking hand stood strong. I reached down and grabbed the axe and took a powerful downward swing, severing his bony appendage and releasing the pressure on my ankle. I don’t know if it was the adrenaline or the fear, but one thing I finally noticed was that he wasn’t bleeding. Five bullets and a detached hand, but barely any blood, just a small trickle from the axe wound. I swear I saw brain and skull fly out when I popped him in the head.
“Jack?! He isn’t fucking bleeding. I’ve put five fucking rounds in this asshole and chopped off his hand. Just a few drops…” I said desperately, trying to express my confusion.
“From what I can read, the servant will drain all his blood to feed the early parts of Berstuk’s development,” Jack said, finally with a hint of worry in his voice. "Bobby, I think this might be the real thing." As Jack spoke the last word, Vidher’s eyes turned towards me as the holes in his face healed themselves.
He let out a guttural laugh and roared, “I have already proclaimed, I have been given the gift of immortality by the great Lord Berstuk, and no corporeal weapons can scathe me!”
“If you hurt him, he stays down for a minute! Do something and get the fuck out of there!” Jack yelled through the headset. And he was right. I picked up the axe before Vidher could make a move and brought it down onto his skull, splitting it almost clean in half. I saw as what was left of his brain matter spill out onto the forest floor.
“No way he’s getting up from that anytime soon,” I said into the mic, "I cut that fucker’s head clean in half."
“Still, instead of admiring your morbid handiwork, why don’t you get the fuck out of there?!” Jack yelled into my ear. He was right, and I started booking it through the woods, hopefully towards my truck and the large can of gasoline I keep in the bed.
Even though I was at most 200 yards away from my truck, my swollen ankle kept me from getting there quickly. Vidher was probably already healed up and fixin’ to feed me to his tree. Luckily, I had Jack help me keep my shit straight as I made my way back to my waiting Ram 1500.
When I made it to the yard, I went around the side with the painting and made sure to give Berstuk the bird and said, “I’m gonna burn you down, motherfucker, and all your little tree-babies. Oh and your ‘servant’ Vidher, I’m gonna gut him slow, just you wait bitch.”
“Talking to a painting, Bobby?” Jack chirped in my ear. "You may need some therapy when this is all said and done."
“Way ahead of you. Apparently, I have PTSD,” I responded.
“Don’t we all…” Jack said with a bit of humor in his voice. While we were talking, I made it back to the Ram and started sifting through all my junk looking for my gas can.
“Found it,” I said triumphantly, "And my lucky lighter is in the dash. Jack, I may not die today."
“You should set your standards a bit higher, but let’s hold off from celebrating until you ice the tree monster and his sidekick, heard?” Jack asked.
“Heard,” I responded, slightly annoyed he wouldn’t let me have at least a second to chill. But then I grinned to myself as I pulled out the naked woman shaped lighter I’d had since I was 18. It was the last birthday gift I got from my Pops. Yeah, he was the kind of guy that bought his son a tit-covered lighter that had nipples that glowed in the dark. I loved my Pops.
"Alright Jack, I’m taking the long walk back. Hopefully I don’t run into Vidher."
“If you do, just put a few bullets in him and keep moving,” Jack said, back with that frigid voice of his. I started my way back towards that God-awful scene in the woods, doing my best to remain quiet and unseen. The pain in my ankle subsided, or my mind gave up on trying to tell me to lay off it for a while, so I was able to move a bit quicker. My ultimate goal was to get back there and find Vidher still spit open like a piñata. I made it to about ten feet out when I saw a familiar, semi-nude man standing in the clearing, as if he was waiting for me. I guess no luck on him still spilling guts on the dirt.
"Jack, Fuck-Face is standing again. I’m going to pop a few more rounds in him, maybe hack off a foot."
“Don’t waste any time, man, who knows how close Berstuk is to coming back. Put a round in Vidher’s skull and set that fucking tree on fire,” Jack commanded. He was right. I charged forward, and before Vidher could react, I placed another round between that little shit’s eyes. He crumpled back to the ground, and just for shits and giggles I grabbed the axe and swung it right back into his skull. I turned around to face the nightmare tree and tried to figure out how to go about burning down this monster.
"Bobby, from what I can tell all you got to do is set the trunk on fire. That should take care of it," Jack instructed from the headset. "Also, it says something in the article you should probably hear: ‘Do not speak to the old god, because he can and will bend you to his purpose.’ So don’t talk to the tree."
Great. I’m going to get Jedi mind-fucked from a talking tree, can’t wait to tell my shrink. And that’s when I first saw this thing's face. It was just like the painting, but more expressive... angrier. I started pouring the gas on the base of the tree trunk, which added another wonderful smell to this already shit-and-death filled clearing.
As I poured the last of the gas onto Berstuk, he decided then he was going to speak up.
“Hello Robert.” His voice sounded like Barry White after a bout of laryngitis. “Why do you attack me? Why have you hurt my faithful servant? We meant you no harm, all we want is to bless the world with my glory.” I looked at the Old god’s face while he was talking, but not once did I see his mouth move It was as if he was speaking in my mind.
'Don’t talk to him,Bobby. Just light him up and go home,' I thought. Then his voice spoke up again.
“Robert, you have accomplished nothing since leaving your warrior class. I can grant you immortality and a life of bliss. New woman every day, your coffers filled with limitless gold, and power over all other men. Take my root and drink deeply from my life’s blood, and your every desire will be fulfilled.” As he said this a spigot formed on his trunk directly in front of my face.
“Jack, the tree is talking….” I mumbled.
“Don’t listen, Bobby!” Jack yelled from the headset. "He is just distracting you! He doesn’t need two slaves, think about it!" As Jack was yelling, I felt myself drawn to the spigot shaped root protruding from Berstuk’s body. "Fight it, Bobby! Don’t be a goddamn window-licker!"
For some reason, being accused of licking windows pulled me back to reality, and it was almost too late. Vidher was sneaking up behind me with the same axe I split his skull with twice. At the last second I dodged his swing by jumping backwards into Berstuk as I felt the axe swipe past my face. As I dodged the attack I dropped my lighter into a tangle of Berstuk’s roots! I was able to lift up my .40 and pull the trigger four times, but only three rounds came out the barrel. The last got jammed in the chamber. I watched as one of the bullets struck right where his heart should be, but this time Vidher didn’t even go down. He stumbled slightly and moved closer, laughing manically the whole time.
“Fool! Berstuk is close to being completed, and his power has fueled me to unprecedented strengths! Now be still, and I will end this quick!” Vidher proclaimed.
“Okay, then do me a favor and answer two questions and I won’t fight anymore,” I said in my most defeated voice. Vidher seemed to ignore my request until:
“Let him speak my faithful servant,” Berstuck boomed, “His weapon has ceased to be useful and can do us no harm. His begging for life will amuse me.”
I heard in my ear, “What are you doing? Run, he can’t be that fast,” Jack begged. Ignoring Jack, I got onto my knees and discretely grabbed my lighter while feigning injury.
“Dying on your knees, how pathetic,” Vidher mocked. “Ask your questions and be done with it.”
I looked Vidher in his dead eyes and asked, “Why would you ever let me distract you?”
As I asked Vidher this question, I hit the starter on my Pop’s old lighter and dove forward as I felt my ass being scorched from the burning gasoline fumes. An unholy scream erupted in my head causing my ears to ache and my head to spin.
“I WILL TEAR YOU LIMB FROM LIMB! I WILL COME BACK AND TAKE YOUR HEAD AS MY FIRST TRO--”
Berstuk couldn’t finish his sentence because the flames reached his face. I saw as the bark that was his flesh charred and burned, the whole while he was screaming in my head. I was able to shake off the shock and turn my attention back to Vidher. Hopefully he was no longer immortal.
He just stood there, staring at his master with tears welling up in his eyes.
“Why have you done this?! You could have been a part of the great Lord Berstuk, but you have slain him,” Vidher cried. “My last act as his servant will be to avenge him and take the life of….” Before I let this asshole finish his sentence I unjammed my Glock and shot him in the stomach, just so I’d get the chance to watch him die slowly. I looked down at Vidher, and it seemed the spell or whatever it was had begun to wear off, because he looked like he was in pain. His intestines were spilling out of the gaping wound in his gut and I finally saw the right amount of blood starting to pool in the dirt.
In a weak voice, he said, "My whole life… in servitude to my Lord… en… ended by a low man… a servant…." As he spoke I saw blood trickle out the side of his mouth. I guess a bullet fragment ended up in his lungs. I felt now was the right time to ask my last question.
“Oh yeah, before I forget, and before you die, why the fuck did you order satellite TV?!” I asked, hoping that I would find out why I was out here in the first place.
Vidher smiled a bloody smile, looked me in my eyes and said softly, “I… I… I missed The View. That Raven-Symone is a hoot.” I thought my opinion of this pathetic shit couldn’t get any lower, but when he said The View was the reason my ass was out here, I emptied the rest of my magazine into his skull, spraying his fucking brains (for the last time) onto the forest floor.
“Jack, it’s over. The tree is burning up and Vidher emptied his insides on the ground. If it wasn’t for you, buddy, I’d never had made it. I owe you a drink, brother,” I said into the mic.
“So, an ancient deity and his undying sycophant killed by an out of shape former marine turned cable technician. Who the hell would have thought?” Jack said. "I’m glad you’re okay, buddy, but looks like the local PD finally noticed. They gave me a holler on the other line, and the friggin’ chief of police gave me a serious tongue-lashing, yelling about the crazy nut blasting off rounds in the woods."
“Fuck, I’m about eighty-five percent positive I just saved the world, and I’m probably gonna be arrested for murder,” I complained.
“If it makes you feel better, I’ll probably get popped for helpin’ your ass out. So want to be prison roomies?” Jack asked, with a hint of humor. I grunted in response as I heard the distant sirens.
“Oh well. At least I won’t have to install cable anymore.”
Written by The Soul Fister