Crisis Town – Ep. 2: “The Exiled One”

It was a bright, sun-shiny day in the town. The leaves were singing. The birds were gathering light from the bright, brilliant star that defined all our lives. People walked around. It was a good day. But Larry didn’t know any of this because he wasn’t in the town. Instead, he was on the outskirts of town walking across sandy dunes. Oh, it was a bright and sun-shiny day for the desert as well, a little too bright and sun-shiny.

Larry stumbled across the sand. His throat and mouth dry. His vision hazy. “This is…dumb…” The sun sank its fangs into the back of his neck. A couple of shadowy vultures made themselves known, circling high above Larry.

Now, you might be asking, “why is Larry here in the first place?” Well, Larry had little other choice. He needed that rent money.

Earlier that day:

“Ok. Ok. Ok. Yes. YES! Yes. No. Maybe. Sure. Why not? Haha. Bye. Ok.” Larry stood in the opulent office and watched as the mayor spoke into the phone. “Ok. Ok. OKAY! Alright. Sure. Fine…Fine! Ok. Love you too! No. It’s just a figure of speech.” The mayor finally hung-up the phone and shuffled through some papers. Larry waited impatiently and sighed audibly, but the mayor didn’t seem to notice. Finally, after some time, the mayor finally looked up. “Oh. Oh! Larry! Come to pay your pal a visit? Your buddy?”

“Um…you said you had something for me?”

The mayor stared at Larry blankly. Then, he finally remembered. “Oh yes! You know the outskirts of town?”

Larry was confused by this question. “…Yes? I’m aware that this town has outskirts.”

“Okay. Good, because most aren’t. Or don’t. And we like to keep it that way. You see, Larry, if I can call you that, there have been some no-good happenings occurring in the outskirts. We’ve had reports of strange beasts lurking about and some possible evil swelling in the distant horizon. And I need you to make sure that doesn’t happen. Or continue to happen.”

Larry glared at the mayor. “What?”

“I need you to kill the evil. Or bribe it. Or something. Just make it go away. Election’s coming up. Can’t afford to–”

“I’m just going to stop you right there. What the fuck are you even going on about? Evil? Is this some Dungeons and Dragons shit? And if it were, what makes you think that I can even handle that?”

“I will pay you $300, fresh from the coffers.”

Larry thought for a moment. “Fine,” he said. “Fine…”

“Good! That’s great to hear! Now maybe you can bring your buddy, Carl the Cowboy. I’m sure his horse would be ideal for such sandy terrain!”

“Um, he’s still in a coma.”

“In a coma? Well that’s disappointing of him. Well, anyway, off with you. I have to sign some important documents.” He proceeded to sign said documents. “I don’t even know what most of these say. I just don’t have the time…why are you still here?”

“What did you mean by strange beasts?”

The mayor shrugged.

“I would like to know what I’m getting myself into.”

The mayor sighed. “I will let you take one of our scouts. She’s among the best of the best. The brightest. Snack attack.”

Later:

“Greetings Larry! So, are you ready to venture forth across the outskirts of town?”

“No.”

“No,” she asked with a smile. The scout was a young woman wearing drapes like Lawrence of Arabia. She also had a gingery complexion which cannot be ideal for such desert conditions. This detail will not come into play later.

Larry looked out. The two of them were standing at the edge of town where the buildings and streets abruptly ended and the world suddenly opened into an endless, desolate, sandy landscape. “How far are we going? And I only have some water. We probably need more, right?”

The woman laughed and slapped Larry on the back. “Ah, I love these first-timers! When I was young I would always sneak out to see the outskirts. It’s not nearly as bad as you first think. Now, where is Carl?”

“…He’s in a coma.”

“Oh. Well, that’s disappointing. May find some bandits along the way. But, we all need a good rest now and again.”

Larry shook his head. “Can we just go?”

“I thought you said you weren’t ready?”

“I…I don’t care. Let’s just get this over with.”

The woman shrugged. And from there they commenced their trek along the dry, dry land.

They walked for hours and hours. And the woman, Sabile, spoke endlessly about this or that. About how great the desert is. Larry wasn’t a fan.

“You know, people look at the desert and think, ‘well, there’s nothing here. Let’s move on.’ But there is life here. Buried beneath our feet. Grand, wondrous life.”

That reminded Larry of something. “So, what are these strange beasts that were spotted?”

“Oh,” Sabile said, “right. Yeah, I didn’t actually see any.”

“…What?”

“Let’s keep moving.”

“No, no, no.” Larry put his hand on her shoulder and they stopped. “So, why the fuck are we out here?”

“Well,” she searched for the right words. “I had a hunch.”

“A hunch?”

“That is what I said, buddy.” She swiped Larry’s hand from her shoulder. “I know this desert inside and out. And I know when something’s wrong. I can feel it.”

Larry remained skeptical however. This was likely some sort of con that the scouts pull to justify their existence. They tell the mayor that “something is going on” and the mayor gives their department more money. Larry was cynical like that.

“So, we’re out here because of a hunch. Jesus Christ…” Larry started to walk away.

“Where are you going?”

“I’m going to tell the mayor there’s nothing out here. Or, no, I will tell him I defeated the evil. It was just some unruly ground squirrel, but it was dealt with.”

“Larry, you’re going to die.”

But Larry didn’t listen. Instead he walked off in the direction he thought the town was. He couldn’t see the town in the horizon, or anywhere, but he knew they had come from this way.

Some time passed, and Larry still stumbled across the sand. His throat and mouth dry. His vision hazy. “This is…dumb…” The sun sank its fangs into the back of Larry’s neck. A couple of shadowy vultures made themselves known, circling high above him.

That’s when he finally collapsed. His mind felt dry, crackling underneath the heat. His bones were on the verge of crumbling into ash. His skin didn’t feel too great either.

The sand was hot. His thoughts were receding. All he could imagine was a calm, blue ocean, caressing a shoreline. He then realized he’s never been to the beach. He never really thought about that until now. Now, he would happily die in a plastic chair, overlooking the blueness of a sea.

“Well, well, well…” Larry opened his eyes and struggled to cock his head up. He squinted at the silhouette that rose before him. “You ain’t lookin’ too proud there.”

“Carl…?” Larry coughed.

Carl was before him on his majestic steed. “Now Larry, I’ve got a pickle to…pick with you.”

“…What,” Larry asked, dazed and with a raspy voice.

“How come you ain’t haven’t visited me at there hospital yet? After all, it’s your fault that I’m at death’s door.”

“I…I needed help…sorry…I didn’t–”

“Maybe you didn’t mean to put me in that there situation. But you could still come by and visit. Why haven’t ya done that yet?”

“I…”

“After all, remember all the things we’ve been through?”

“…No…”

“Remember how we first met, back in high school? I saved your ass by them injuns, I mean bullies.”

“…No you didn’t. We’re…barely friends…”

“Yeah, well…” Carl scratched his head under his hat. “You still feel guilt though. And plus, let’s face, you don’t really have anyone else. No one else…No one else…”

“Wait, come–” Larry’s cough worsened. He closed his eyes. It felt like he was going to burst into a poof of smoke. Until:

“Larry?” Sabile crouched down and poured some water into his mouth. “Geez. You’re looking rough. Are you okay?”

“Just…dandy…thank you.”

“You shouldn’t have run-off like that. Man, these first-timers…”

“…Home…Carl…”

“But, I…guess I should say something. I was thinking about what you said earlier. And, well, maybe you were right about my hunch. Maybe it was all just BS. Ever since I was a kid, I always felt alone. Always felt like there was nothing for me in the town. I think as a result, I’ve developed a connection to the desert. Because I had no choice. Because–”

But before she could finish, Larry said, “I…don’t…care…,” and started coughing again. “Can you…”

“Oh, right.” Sabile helped bring Larry to his feet. “Don’t you worry. We’re just an hour or so from town, and from there we can…hello?”

In the distance was a figure. Standing there. Watching.

“Is that Sam…no. Today was his day off. Wait a minute…oh crap.”

“What?”

“Oh geez. Don’t move.”

“…Will do,” Larry coughed. Sabile shushed him.

“Don’t make a sound,” she said in a whisper. The figure remained in the distance.

“So…what the fuck?”

Sabile’s eyes widened. Her voice quivered. “The legend is true…I think…that’s the Exiled One.”

“…Okay? Who is that?”

“No time. We’ve got to go!” She started running with Larry shambling slowly behind her. “Come on!”

Larry’s heart raced. He looked back and saw the figure floating slowly towards them. “What the…” He tripped and landed face-first into the sand. Larry tried to rise back up, but his bones ached and his nerves screamed. Sabile stopped and saw Larry’s struggle, then saw the figure, and continued running.

“Wait…” But then a shadow filled the sand around him. Larry stopped. His arms shook. And a chill ran through his heart as his world faded.

And that’s when Larry died.

“Who?”

“Um, Larry, sir,” Leanne said. “Our scout reported that he was taken by the desert.”

The mayor rubbed his chin. “And Larry is…?”

Leanne just accepted this idiocy. “He’s the guy who you sent to fight ‘the evil’ that was reportedly present in the outskirts.”

“Ah yes! Larry. Larry, Larry, Larry. How is he?”

“…Dead, sir.”

“Dead? Well, that’s no good. I’m going to have to find someone else now. Think, think, think. What about–”

“Still in a coma, sir.”

“Oh, darn.”

“But, um…there is something else.”

“What?”

“According to the scout, she saw The Exiled One.”

The mayor cocked his head. “I beg your pardon?”

Leanne gulped. “The…Exiled One, sir. Apparently, he is real. And possibly dangerous.”

Silence in the air. Leanne watched as the mayor slowly rose from behind his desk and walked over to the window. “Sir?”

“Maybe,” the mayor said. “I wasn’t cut out for this job. Like, who knew a job in public service would be so bothersome? All I wanted to do was play golf and wave at people. Well, there’s only one option,” he declared, “we must shut down the town.”

Leanne was afraid he was going to say this. But there was no other option. That night the streets were shut-down and strict curfew was placed. The edges of town were blocked-off via police blockades. And the mayor watched from his window, stern and a little bit scared, waiting for the hideous figure to emerge from the horizon.

“This is it,” he said, “no more running. No more hiding. This may not be what I wanted, but this is the role I’ve accepted. Even if I don’t accept it. It is my duty.” A bead of sweat rolled down his right temple. “Come on, you bastard. Come!”

At the edge of town, at one of the blockades, a couple of cops waited, rifles ready. Meanwhile, there was a sniper fixed on one of the roofs. The sniper peered through his scope in anticipation, scanning the outskirts. The sniper was born for this. He had been waiting for this moment all his life. But, not only that, but he reveled in the idea of being the slayer of The Exiled One. People would finally like him. People would finally respect him. “Yeah!” He pumped his fist and continued searching with his scope.

But then he saw something. A strange figure entered his sights. “I’ve got something,” he said into his walkie-talkie, “I think this is it.” He squinted through the scope. “Oh boy,” he said to himself. “This is it. Here we go.”

The other cops drew their weapons nervously. The mayor wiped the sweat from his brow and slowed his breathing.

The sniper followed the shadow. It was coming in closer and closer. “Yes. This is it. It has to be! Permission to fire!”

“Wait until it comes in closer. We need as clear a shot as possible. Fire too early and it will either be startled or rush-in. And we just can’t risk that,” the voice on the other end insisted. But the sniper shook his head and continued following the creature.

Finally, he said, “screw this,” and pulled the trigger. The shot rang out through the night. The cops looked at each other. The mayor stood there. And the sniper saw the figure. It had stopped. But it was still standing. “Damn!” But as he was about to make another shot, a voice called out.

“Wait! WAIT!” The figure raised its arms. “Don’t shoot!”

The sniper furrowed his brow. The Exiled One was saying not to shoot. That means it was afraid. He leaned back into the scope and fixed his sights on the figure. “Steady…steady…”

“Don’t shoot! I’m just a–”

BAM!

Another shot rang out.

Silence. Until it was announced by the sniper: “Target is down. I repeat. Target is down.” However, when the officers approached the figure they were surprised.

“Well, this is the Exiled One, huh? Seems like a pretty normal guy to me.”

“Yeah…wait, it looks like that one guy who caught the Frenchman. What’s his name again?”

“Oh yeah. That guy. Pfft. Show-off.”

“Anyway, let’s grab him. We accomplished a lot tonight.”

“Hell yeah we did.”

However, it didn’t take long to realize that the person they shot was not the fabled Exiled One, but rather a citizen by the name of Larry.

Larry slowly came to. His eyes nearly blinded by the fluorescent lights. Looking around and it was clear that he was in the bed at a hospital. Word of Larry’s awakening came to the mayor who swiftly came by to pay him a visit.

“How are you feeling?”

“Uh…”

“Good. Leanne, flowers. These are for you. We also brought you a card. Within you should find a Target gift card worth $20. I hope this will be enough to forgive the town. The man who shot you has been fired and will never maybe work in law enforcement ever again.”

Larry didn’t say anything.

“Well, at the very least you can say something, Larry.” The mayor tried a different tact. “Okay. I’m sure what happened to you was very traumatic. After all, everyone thought you were dead. The scout even said that The Exiled One had taken you. Can you please explain what happened exactly. Did you kill it?”
“No…”

“Then how did you escape?”

“Um…”

“Dammit man! Tell us! TELL US!” The mayor started shaking Larry until Leanne pulled him back. “Sorry. As you know, this information is very important. So, if you could…”

“I…”

“Yes?”

“Asked if I could leave…and he said, ‘yes.’”

The mayor stared down at him. “What?”

“When I passed-out…he brought me to a cave. And there were others.”

“Others?”

“They had been there for years. People who just hung around. Played video games. Smoked weed. Ate the fish in the cavern ponds. It smelled awful.”

“I’m sure it did. But tell us about the Exiled One. Was he a mystical creature? Was he harvesting these people?”

“…No. He was mostly just kind-of chill…He was large and deformed. His face was a skull. But he was pretty cool other than that.”

The mayor and Leanne exchanged glances.

“He said that being exiled turned him into a monster. And gave him powers. But he mostly just wanted…”

“What? What did he want?”

“…Friends.”

“PFFT!” The mayor interjected. “Jesus! How lame is that!”

“He said the reason he was exiled was because he was…weird. No one really liked him so they threw him out. Now, anyone who gets lost in the outskirts becomes his friend…it wasn’t for me though.”

“Hm. Right. Because you’re so Mr. Popular here,” the mayor retorted. Leanne shot him a look. “Sorry. So, um…now that we know the Exiled One is mostly harmless, we can tell everyone that he has been defeated. It was truly an arduous and bloody battle. But you came out on top. He even tried sniping at you and you had lost your leg as a result, but you managed to slay the creature. Good job.”

“What…?”

The mayor sighed. “Don’t make me repeat myself. This is the story we are going with and if you divulge anything to the contrary then I will have you arrested. And here, here is the financial compensation that you were promised. $200.”

“You said $300…”

“No. I’m pretty sure I said $200.”

“No…”

“…Yes. Don’t try to gaslight me.”

“Asshole…”

“Right. So I guess we best be off. It’s time to get shit-faced. You can come, Leanne, if you like.”

“Um–”

“That’s the spirit! Toodles, Larry. You did good today. You did good.”

Larry was now alone in his room. Alone. He thought about his conversation with The Exiled One. How the loneliness and bitterness mutated him. At first he thought it would be cool to have those kind of powers, but then he realized, it wasn’t really a life. The people he had rescued seemed to like him, but only because he gave them food and weed. They didn’t really care for him otherwise. It also made him think about Carl. Carl was perhaps the closest he had to a friend, and he felt guilty for not at least visiting him. Well, he was in the same hospital as him, presumably, so he had no excuse.

Larry pulled away the sheets, but that’s when he saw it. His right leg was gone, replaced by machinery. His new leg was metallic and had blinking lights. He was not expecting this. But he didn’t let it faze him. He rolled out of bed and swayed for a bit before finally finding his balance. And from there he exited into the hallway, stumbling, searching for Carl’s room.

Crisis Town – Ep. 1: “The Black Beret”

It was a bright, sun-shiny day in the town. People were shopping. People were driving. People were even going to the bank.

Todd, one of the bank tellers, smiled as he helped people in line. However, things were about to change…

“Hello, welcome to City Money. How can we be of assistance?” Todd continued stretching his enormous smile as the man approached him.

The man didn’t respond at first. He was a strange, foreign-looking personage. He wore a black beret.

“Would you like to deposit or withdraw?” Todd asked, hoping to help guide this peculiar individual.

Once again, the man didn’t respond.

“Um…do you speak English?”

The man shot him an arrogant glare and hopped onto the counter. “Gimme all your MONEY!” He then did a karate pose that was quite intimidating.

“Oh. Um. I left my wallet at home. Sorry.” Todd joked, hoping to defuse the situation. But it didn’t work as the man lept down onto the floor and started running about. Todd’s heart dropped. His eyes widened. He had never seen somebody so fast before.

The man just kept running and running. People started screaming. The security guard pointed his gun at the man, but his hands shook. He couldn’t get a good aim on him. Finally, he gave up and ran home.

The man ran back to the counter. Beads of sweat were racing down Todd’s face and ears. “Alright. Alright. Please don’t hurt us!”

“Youz stupid Americans! Gimme your fragile American currency!”

“Okay. Okay. Just don’t kill us!” Todd complied and handed the man a sack full of fragile American currency.

“Yes! I am Spetch! Fastest man in all the realms! Stupid Americans!” The man sped out of the bank and onto the street. Todd thought he was about to have a heart attack. He collapsed onto the floor. And everyone else were either shellshocked or frustrated by that man’s blatant lack of Patriotism.

“Wait,” someone said. “Does that mean we have no more money?”

“Yeah! What now!”

“Yeah!”

And they started to crowd the counter.

Hours passed and the mayor of the town was leaning-back in his office, sucking on a cigar like it was his mother’s teet.

The mayor’s assistant, Leanne, entered, holding paper. “Sir. Mr. Mayor. Sir. Mr. Mayor. Sir.”

Finally, the mayor responded. “…What?”

“…Sir. Mr.–”

“You know you don’t have to do that.”

Leanne paused. “…Sir. This is the THIRD bank he’s robbed. TODAY!”

“Wow. My God.” The mayor stood-up, shook his head, and sat back down.

“Yeah,” replied Leanne.

“Wow.”

“…Sir. What are we going to do? He can’t keep robbing these banks. Pretty soon the town will be in dire straits.”

The mayor sipped his coffee. “Yes. That would be bad. Especially since the election is coming up in 3 years.”

“Yes.”

“Well. Looks like I’m going to have to make…a phone call.”

“Okay.”

“Yes…”

“…Sir?”

“Yes?”

“To whom are you making this phone call to?”

“Well. To the only person who can stop Spetch.” The mayor turned to a large, red telephone that glowed on his desk like burning coal. He closed his eyes and sighed before finally reaching for his, clutching it to his ear. “Get me…Larry,” he intoned.

The mayor sat there, bored, as the phone rang and rang. Finally he hung-up.

“Was he…not there?” asked Leanne.

“No,” the mayor sighed once again. “He’s probably busy doing something real important. With any luck, he’s tackling this bank-robber situation. I’m going to call again in 5 minutes.”

15 minutes passed and the mayor tried the red phone again. This time, Larry was on the other side…

“Hello Larry. It’s the mayor. Listen, we desperately need your help. I know last time things weren’t so good. We didn’t know that boulder would nearly crush you. But, you see, we have a notorious bank robber in our midst and he’s robbing all of the money in our banks. And he’s French. We need you to stop him. Can you do that? Please?”

Larry was a man. He was sitting in his small apartment watching reruns of Jerry Springer and eating apple pie. He was not fully clothed. And smelled. Larry thought for a moment. “Well, I’m kinda busy at the moment.” Larry looked around his nearly-empty apartment.

“Please.” The mayor was getting desperate.

“Would I get paid?” Larry asked.

“Larry, you know we don’t have the funds right now.”

“Um…have you tried the police?”

“Larry!” The mayor pounded on his desk. “We don’t have the TIME for this! TIME is running out! We need you to stop this madman right now or else you are going to JAIL!”

Larry scratched his head. “What?”

“That’s right? JAIL!”

“Yeah. I heard that. But you can’t just throw someone in jail for not doing something. At least I don’t think…”

“Larry! Don’t make me blackmail you and then hand the FAKE EVIDENCE over to the police! You’ve got 13 hours! You’ve got to stop this Frenchman! He’s very fast! Click!”

Leanne stepped over to the mayor’s desk. “Well, what did he say?”

“He said he will do it.” The mayor sat-down (he was standing earlier,) and lit another cigar.

“Um…no I didn’t.” Larry’s voice crackled from the phone which had not yet been placed on the receiver and was lying lazily on the desk.

“He also said I was the best mayor ever and if I died people will cry and feel like they didn’t appreciate me enough. Heh. I think he may have a point.” The mayor puffed on his cigar.

“Oh geez,” Leanne responded.

“Okay…I’m just going to hang-up. Now…” Larry dug his spoon into his slice of pie and proceeded to not do anything about Spetch, the really fast Frenchman. The sun cascaded its glow down the curtains.

Meanwhile, Spetch went on to rob more banks, then convenience stores, then dog pounds, then back to the banks he originally stole from. If they no longer had money he stole pens and plate glass windows. He was ruthless. And very, very French.

Hours passed and the streets were filled with violence and blood. Buildings burned. Cars burned. Flowers burned. People were robbing trashcans. Cats stole from little old ladies. And people were starting to get angry.

“We want the mayor!”

“YEAH! The MAYOR!”

The mob crowded inside the foyer of the mayor’s house with torches and pitchforks.

“Okay,” Leanne said from the upper level down to the crowd. “The mayor is currently in a meeting, but if you form a line and fill out form ABC then–”

“FUCK YOU!”

“Oh…okay.”

Leanne rushed over to the mayor’s office, but the door was locked. “Mayor. It’s Leanne.”

“No!” A voice croaked from the other side. “I’m not the mayor! Go away!”

“Yes you are. And no matter what happens, you will always be the mayor!”

After a moment, the door opened and there was the mayor, unshaven and wearing a smelly bathrobe. “Leanne…I’ve failed…”

“You haven’t failed! You just haven’t succeeded yet!”

The mayor cast his eyes downward.

“Did you know that Tesla went bankrupt 4 times before finally inventing the electric car? Now, you stay right here and I will get the bazooka.”

“No. This is my fight. I have to face it. Like a man.”

“So you’re going to talk to them?”

“…No.” The mayor went over to his desk. Closed his eyes. Sighed. And picked up the red telephone.

Larry was asleep when suddenly his eyes popped open. He was startled, but quickly he realized his phone was just vibrating. He knew what it was about. “No! I said I don’t want to renew my car’s warranty! So stop calling me!”

“That’s nice to hear, Larry, but this is the mayor.”

“Oh. Um, how’s it going?”

“Remember a couple of hours ago I called asking you to take care of Spetch, the bank robber?”

“Yeah?”

“Well, I need you to take care of Spetch, the bank robber.”

Larry rubbed his eyes. “Um, are you sure you didn’t try the police?”

“LOOK! LARRY! This is SERIOUS BUSINESS! The people are DYING! They have no MONEY! Children are killing children! Moths are eating lightbulbs! This is a DISEASE!”

Larry thought for a moment. “Don’t the banks insure the money?”

The mayor’s eye twitched. “Larry…” he said slowly. “You fat piece of shit. If you don’t take care of your problem. I will make your life a problem. Got it?”

“…Alright. Fine.”

“GOT IT?”

“Yeah! I said ‘fine’. Jesus. I’ll…think of something…” Larry hung-up the phone and sat there for a moment. “Well, there goes my Tuesday.” He rubbed his forehead and then gazed at his hand which was now littered with white dead skin cells. “That’s gross.” That’s when he thought of an idea. Not a brilliant idea. But maybe something that could possibly perhaps maybe work. He picked up his phone and made a phone call.

That evening, at the edge of town, Larry sat behind a makeshift stand with a sign that read “BANK”. Larry scanned the area around him. No sign of the Frenchman anywhere. He pulled out his cowbell. “Bank! New bank in town! This is a new bank! We have money!” He placed his cowbell down and waited.

Suddenly, a shadowy figure emerged from one of the alleyways and shambled towards him. Larry’s blood ran cold.

“Oh, um. Hello sir. How can I help you?”

The figure stepped into the light of a flickering streetlight. “Are you…hiring?” The man was shabbily clothed. And smelled of feces and dead dreams.

“Um…no. Sorry.”

“But, you guys are new…please, I really need this job. I was a bank teller before all this happened. I loved my job. But then, a guy from Europe came and destroyed my life. I was fired. My name was Todd, but they even took that from me. Now, I am nameless, homeless. I sleep in puddles while my friends are getting married and enter middle-management.”

“Um…okay.”

“Please! PLEASE!”

That’s when Larry heard something in the distance.

“Look,” Larry said to the nameless man. “You have to go!”

“I’ve got credentials. You want to see my cv?”

“No! Please go!” The running became louder and louder.

“But…why?”

“Because this isn’t a real bank! This is just a sting operation!” But as soon as he said that, a man with a black beret suddenly appeared before the two men.

“Ah, a fake bank! Stupid Americans! I am Spetch! I do not fall for such trickery!”

“Dammit.” Larry said. “Well…fuck you buddy.”

“Who me?” The nameless man said.

“No, the French douche over there.”

“Oh…it would be nice if someone acknowledged me.”

“Say,” Larry had an idea. “I have an idea. Um, Todd.”

“No, I’m not Todd anymore.”

“Right.”

“They took my name. Remember?”

“Yeah, I don’t get that. Anyway, don’t you want to get revenge. I mean, the man who ruined your life is right there.” Larry said, pointing at Spetch who was just running back and forth on the street like a weirdo.

“Well…” The man scratched his head. “I do. Yet I don’t.”

“Why not?”

“I’m not sure…I just want my old job back.”

Larry pondered the situation. The Frenchman was in his grasp, but he just needed him to stay still in order for his plan to work. “Maybe if you just talked to Spetch and ask him why he did it. That might give you some closure.”

“But I don’t want closure! I just want my life back!”

“Fuck! Fine! We are hiring! In fact, you’ve been promoted. Here! You get to run…um… “Bank” now.”

Todd clapped his hands and jumped behind the stand. His composure suddenly changed and he no longer smelled. “Wow! Thank you! We are now open for business! And our business is helping you save for the future?”

Larry looked around. “Who are you talking to?”

Spetch stopped running and moved over to the bank. “Ah! So this is a real bank! I can tell because of the way that man spoke! Haha! You thought you could fool me with a double-bluff! Stupid, yankee, apple-pie eating bastards!”

“What’s wrong with apple pie?”

But Spetch ignored him and approached the counter. “Gimme your MONEY!”

The bank teller smiled. “I’m sorry, I left my wallet at my cardboard home. But if you like, we can start you off with a new account. Would you like to see our options for credit cards. We even accept medium-to-low credit!”

Spetch smirked and entered an intimidating karate pose. The bank teller’s heart shivered. Suddenly, he felt small. Really small. But then he realized he couldn’t do this. He couldn’t cower in fear. No, he was a teller. A bank teller.

“Sir,” he said. “I’m not going to give you our money. And if you’re going to do any–”

“NOW!” Larry yelled and suddenly a rope lassoed around Spetch.

“What the–” Spetch cried before being thrust backwards. His body fell to the ground and was dragged across the road. Larry’s plan worked. When Spetch was still, his partner, Cowboy Carl, was able to entrap him via rope. “Stupid! Americaaaaaaans!” Spetch called out as his body was brutally damaged by the speeding road.

“Whew! That was…dumb.” Larry watched as Cowboy Carl dragged the Frenchman through the streets. Meanwhile, the bank teller was confused.

“But…my first customer…”

“It’s alright, Todd. Or, Not-Todd. Wait. So, do you have your name back now? How does that even work?”

Not-Todd looked down at his hands. “I…don’t know…but, I have my job now and I guess that’s all that matters. But am I going to get fired for letting my first customer get kidnapped and possibly murdered?”

Larry shrugged. “I won’t tell anyone.”

Not-Todd smiled.

However, as Cowboy Carl rode through the city, dragging Spetch behind, some people started to take notice.

“Hey,” someone said from the darkness of shadows, “that guy has a horse.”

“Yeah, I want a horse.”

Suddenly, a large group surrounded Carl the Cowboy’s horse and he was forced to stop. “Easy there girl, easy.” The cowboy looked down at all the dirty and disgruntled faces. “Now y’all step aside. I’m doing very important business. You see, this gentleman I have in tow here is French.”

“Where’d you get the horse?”

“Well, now I don’t see how that’s any of your business. Now, if you excuse me, I would rather not have to pull out my revolver.”

But the group didn’t budge.

“Well,” Cowboy Carl said, adjusting his hat. “I reckon y’all bunch of banditos. Now, I gonna give you a second, but final warn–” but before he could finish, a box was slammed against the side of his head and Carl toppled off his horse and onto the street. The group tried to seize the horse but the horse wasn’t having it, stomping and kicking members of the gang.

“Ah! Americans! Stupid!” Spetch cried as he attempted to free himself. Fortunately, the rope was suddenly cut by a machete and an older man pulled him from the ground and quickly away from the maddened horse.

“You goddamn, good-for-nothing Reds!” Carl cussed. (He meant “Reds” as in commies, not Native Americans.) The gang managed to beat the crap out of Carl before the horse ran them off. Once the gang finally dispersed, the horse licked Carl’s salty, unconscious face.

The following day seemed to be a bit more mellow in the streets. There were still puddles of blood in most places, but people were able to walk around them.

Larry stood in the mayor’s office. “Good job Larry. Now, I can’t financially compensate you, as you know, but I can do something better. Open your hand.” And he placed a piece of cardboard in Larry’s palm. “A 35% discount at Sweaty Monkey Brows Spa and Cleanliness Center.”

Larry looked at the card then back at the mayor.

“It’s the least we can do.”

“I’ve been there once. It’s not bad,” Leanne said.

“Um, thanks. Can I go?”

“Larry, before you go, do not feel guilty about Cowboy Carl. Or Carl the Cowboy. He’s in a better place now.”

“He’s actually in a coma. So, still alive.”

“Well, he won’t be for long. But don’t feel any guilt or shame about it. Even though it’s entirely your fault.”

“…Thanks.” But as Larry was about to leave:

“Wait! Just one more thing…”

“Er, why?”

“What did you do to Spetch?”

“I told you. I think he escaped. So, he’s still running out there. Or the street people ate him. I have no idea.”

“Well, I doubt he will be running around for much longer after being dragged around by a horse! HaHAAAA!”

Silence.

“I’m just going to go now.”

Larry was getting tired of this place. Getting tired of this town. Having to do things for the mayor, but gaining nothing in return. And now one of the people he mildly tolerated was in the hospital because of him. He wanted to leave, but he couldn’t leave Carl. These thoughts blistered in his mind. When he entered his apartment he found a notice stating that if he didn’t pay his rent soon he will be on the streets.

Meanwhile, there was a new threat growing. Something even more bad than a really fast Frenchman…

The Big Finish – Ep. 3: “Avoidance”

Ted took the long way home. He had no other choice considering he couldn’t drive a burning car. And plus he desired to avoid much of the chaos. But the earth still rattled beneath his feet every once in a while. And he would hear distant screams. The sky looked like the red underbelly of an ancient, sinister beast. And the hole. It quivered and continued to grow. It was an unpleasant sight. 

Yet, there was a thrill to it all. He didn’t want to admit it. He thought himself a good person; yet, there was something in all this, knowing that his final moments will be filled with excitement, drama, meaning. His life, like most, had been a dull venture up to this point. An empty, unexciting thing. But he was still scared, fearing for the worst for himself and others. 

Finally, he made it home. The building was still intact, but people were running from the entrance carrying items like televisions and stools. All the important things. He climbed up the stairs to his apartment which, fortunately, had not been raided yet. He plopped himself on the couch. As crazy as things were, he still found relief in no longer having to walk. His legs ached and his pores spewed sweat. Ted grabbed the remote, about to turn on the television, but stopped himself, watching himself in the black, lifeless screen. It wasn’t worth it; he knew what was going on, and plus the local news anchors always bothered him. He sighed, listening to the chaos outside. It was somewhat disappointing. It was his birthday, and he wasn’t even able to find mix to make his cake from. He sat down at his computer and played a couple hands of Solitaire

The Big Finish – Ep. 2: “The Bodega”

The town fell into chaos, of course. Ted watched from his car as people tumbled over themselves, ransacking the grocery store. “Ah man,” Ted said to himself. After nearly hitting a man dancing naked in the street he found himself at the bodega. He dreaded going to the bodega.

“Hey,” Hubert greeted him from behind the counter. Ted didn’t like Hubert. Hubert wasn’t a bad guy, just the opposite, but he was awfully chatty. Ted just wanted to live his life and move-on.

“Hey,” Ted greeted back as he hurried over to one of the shelves.

“Looks like the ‘pocalypse is happening,” Hubert said, his eyes never leaving the pages of his magazine.

“Um…yeah.” Ted was too busy scoping the now-empty shelves.

“Surprised it didn’t happen sooner. Shame though. I was looking forward to reading some more magazines.”

“Um, do you have any cake mix?”

“Man…I wish I read more magazines.”

Ted approached the counter. “So, no cake mix?”

“What? Nah. I don’t sell any of that queer shit.”

“Oh…”

“So, what you think is gonna happen once all this is over? You know, everything?”

“Um…I mean. Everything will be gone right? So…nothing? Everything will just be nothing, I guess.”

“Really?”

“I mean, yeah. Isn’t that what they mean by the ‘end of the world’?”

“Huh. I guess…that…that sucks man. That really sucks.”

“Yeah. Well, maybe it won’t be so bad. At least there’s…death…which may not be so bad.”

“I don’t know. I just–I just wish that I had–”

“Sorry, I’ve got to go.”

“Oh,” Hubert said. “‘Kay. Be safe out there.”

“Thanks.” Ted stepped outside and watched as a man battled a couple of racoons in the parking lot with a rolling pin. Now the sky was blood red and the dark tear quivered. Green lightning shot from its maw and the earth tremored. Also, Ted’s car was on fire now. Things weren’t very good.

The Big Finish – Ep. 1: “The Opening”

Once their dance was completed, they watched as a tear formed across the sky. The ground rattled and the opening grew and grew. 

“We did it! We summoned the elder god!”

“Nice!” They high-fived each other and ran off somewhere. 

Meanwhile, at the other side of town, Ted was driving his dumb car to the grocery store. But as he drove he noticed flocks of birds flying above. He squinted at the trees as they shook. There was also an unusual darkness that seemed to be spreading across the sky. 

“Great,” he said. “It looks like I’m going to die today,” and continued driving.


Written for the Photo Challenge #336 at Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie. And I’ve decided to make this a series because why not? Well, I guess we’re going to find out why. What’s going to happen next? I don’t know. Stay tuned!

Beneath the Green – Ep. 7: “Away” (FINAL)

When Douglas found himself standing in a parking lot, he realized something. Oh crap, I left my golf clubs back there…But as he turned around the desire to walk back evaporated. It was as if something had completely lifted from him and the world. He stood there for a moment before continuing through the parking lot. 

Years went. The desire to return to the golf course would sometimes fill his veins, but it was to distract himself. Sometimes though he would think about life had he won that tournament. He would have been in Chip Hamson’s position, but what would that have led to? Eventually, talent and skill would have faded and he would have found his corpulent self floating lazily on a pool’s soft glow. He would have achieved things, but they would all have been forgotten and he would have spent his days in comfortable anonymity. But now what? 

Douglas ended-up working at a gas station convenience store. And, every once in a while, a look of recognition would stumble across his view, but then exit. No words. But he knew what they meant. Man, this story got depressing.  

One night, while Douglas sat at the counter doing nothing, he noticed a strange sound. He shifted his position and, a few feet away, the tile flooring started to break upward. Soon, a hole appeared and a dirty face appeared in the ground.

“Drat! Hit the surface again! Ugh!”

“Um, I told you we were–”

“I know what you said! You don’t have to rub your face in it!”

“Wouldn’t it be my face–as in yours?”

“SHUT-UP!”

“Hey,” Douglas said. The miner shot him a look.

“What? We’re busy! Lots to do!”

Douglas was about to ask him, but he just went silent. 

“What? Nothing?”

Douglas said nothing and leaned back in his seat. The miner shook his head and disappeared back into the tunnel. Douglas listened to the pickaxes puncturing the hard flooring and dirt underneath until they were gone. As silence buzzed in his ear, he felt his face turn into a smirk, but he wasn’t sure if it was actually there.

Beneath the Green – Ep. 6: “The Rough”

Douglas sat in his 10×10 room. He used to live in a large house in the country, but ever since disappearing for two days his fortune disappeared. He was in debt, but, when he was in the spotlight, he had others helping him stay afloat. Now, he was unneeded and, therefore, forced to suffer within solitude.

His fingers tapped on his laptop keyboard. He had spent days formulating his plan. This was it; he was going to get his life back by eliminating Chip from the picture.

That was when he decided to take a brief break and checked-out the news:

Chip Hamson, Golf Legend, Dead at 29.

Douglas went pale. For weeks, people were lamenting the golf legend’s untimely demise. And Douglas just watched.

Well, Douglas thought, at least Chip was no longer in the picture. Now, it was time for Douglas to take back what was his. He had to start from the bottom once again. At first, things seemed to be doing well. He won some tournaments, but then he hit a ceiling. It seemed like there was always someone better than he was. He spent hours and hours practicing, but he never seemed to get ahead. He was blocked from participating in major events and couldn’t even get a sponsorship. His life had been whittled away. All because of one little mistake.

One day he found himself alone. He was at the edge of a golf course, searching for his ball which had disappeared into the tall grasses. His mind had become heavy, distracted. Douglas muttered as he fruitlessly searched. But then, he stopped. His hands pulled away from the grass and watched as the blades returned to their original form. Then he walked across the green without direction.

Beneath the Green – Ep. 5: “The Hands of Sand”

Douglas clawed through the hole like an animal. He had to get out, the specifics didn’t matter. But the images blared through his skull. He kept seeing the miners digger deeper and deeper into the sand with no seeming purpose other than to dig. And there was the face who, like Douglas, had been pulled into the sandtrap. Whatever accomplishments or name that that face owned were long forgotten, smothered beneath the dirt.

“Oh hey, there’s a light.” A tiny light pierced the tunnel ceiling just above him. He pulled away the dirt and sand and, moments later, he pulled himself out.

He lied on his back on the green. He was in a large, green field. It wasn’t a golf course, but it was fine. The grass surrounded his skin. The sun loomed in its place of sky. It took him a while, but he was eventually able to get up; his body ached with every step, but the pain soon receded.

He found himself on a familiar city street, just a few miles away from the golf course. It was a relief to be out in the open, fresh air caressing his neck. But then, something horrified him. “Chip Hamson…” There he was; his smug face plastered on the bus-bench. But, it didn’t stop there. As he walked he saw posters, adverts, billboards, all showing Chip’s loathsome mug hawking watches and fast food. It sickened Douglas. Disgusted him. All it took was one mistake for Douglas to lose everything.

But, he had a plan…

Beneath the Green – Ep. 4: “The Face of the Deep”

Douglas crawled for hours and hours. His arms were sore, his back moaned, and his knees? Oh, his knees! He stopped, panting, wondering how long this tunnel must be. Douglas closed his eyes for a moment and laid on his back, letting the damp, thick air stagnant on his skin.

“Mrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.”

Douglas’ eyes shot open. What the hell was that? He looked around until finally seeing something in the tunnel wall in front of him: it was a face.

“Mrrrrrrrr.” It was a face embedded in the sand. Its skin had the same color and texture of the surrounding sand. Its eyes were closed. “Mrrrrrrrrr.”

Terror struck Douglas’ chest, but his body was frozen. He had never seen something so hideous, so disturbing.

Finally, its eyes opened and the face stared out at Douglas. “Nooooooo…” The face intoned emotionlessly. “Nooooooo escape….mrrrrrrrrrrr…”

Douglas shook. All he wanted to do was play golf.

“Do not be afraaaaaaaid. This is yooooouuuuur faaaaate.”

Finally, Douglas spoke. “How? Is–is there any way out?”

The face was silent, its white eyes piercing through Douglas. Soon, its mouth let out a moan. “Noooooo.”

“But–but that doesn’t even…how did the miners build the tunnel? They must have come from the surface.”

“They did…long ago…but now they dig…and dig…”

“Why? Why do they dig?”

“…Because they are the miners…”

“What?”

“They dig…and they dig…”

“This is just…there has to be a way. There has to be!”

The face contorted and let out a noise that could almost be a laugh. “I was like you…once…now…it is your turn…”

“No! I’m not going to end-up–fuck!” Douglas scrambled away, pushing further and further into the blackness of the tunnel. But as he crawled he could feel the face on his back, its gaze wrapping around his skin.

Beneath the Green – Ep. 3: “Tunneled”

Douglas lied there in the tunnel, bloodied and scarred, as the miners stepped over him. He groaned each time a foot pressed against his stomach and every time an axe cleaved at dirt. Soon, they were gone. Douglas, once again, was alone.

His body no longer sank–but his mind did, deeper and deeper into the darkly bowels of his subconscious. He had a dream: he is at the final hole again, but this time he’s able to lob the ball from the trap; he watches as the ball curled through the air, dropping perfectly into the hole; Douglas McCread becomes a household name. Everyone loves him. They even make a movie about him starring a digitally de-aged Brad Pitt. But then, suddenly, he’s floating on a pool, lounging on a giant, blow-up penguin. His fat, pale stomach aplomb. His wrinkled, repulsive mug writhing with sweat.

That was when he came back. He looked around. The miners were long gone. Pain pierced through his bones, but he couldn’t stay. So, he decided to crawl in one direction through the tunnel.