Welcome to the Dungeon...
When we first bought the house in Carson's Mill, things were great here. Nice area, nice neighbors, close to everything we needed, yet tucked away enough to feel a sense of peace and quiet.
Dick lived next to us, and we called him the "Neighborhood Watch". A retired phone company lineman, he was the eyes and ears of the street, and knew pretty much everybody in the city, so we got all the dirt well before the news or papers did. It was a good situation for years, until poor health caught up with Dick, and he had his idiot daughter Gigi move in to help take care of him.
That's when things started going downhill.
Gigi is the archetype of the Trailer Park Drama Queen, you see. Short, large, loud, and ugly, she's a proud member of the "Living on The Dole" society that is so prevalent in New England. It seems her reason for living is to sit outside for hours at a time, cordless phone cemented to her face, holding court at the Pity Party Line. For reasons I am not medically qualified to explain, she has a pervasive need to end every third or fourth sentence with a plaintive, "you know what I meeeean?"
Trust me when I tell you, a few hours of this right outside your window is enough to fully appreciate why waterboarding is so effective.
My nickname for her is Monster. I can't, and frankly don't want to, imagine what is on the other end of these conversations, listening to her droning babble, but then...Living on The Dole society, right? My tax dollars at work.
She was just a minor irritation at first, when I still spent my working days on the road, but then I had the opportunity to work from home, and things changed. Despite having a full backyard, she likes to sit next to the side door of Dick's house, right next to the trash barrels. She has one of the old aluminum frame, webbed folding lawn chairs from the '60's, and it is a testament to American engineering. How this chair supports her weight defies all the known laws of physics, yet there she sits.
Unfortunately, her setup is right outside the corner of my home where my office is situated. Even with windows closed, she drones so loudly, every word comes through loud and clear. Mind you, I sit with a headset on, talking customers through technical problems, trying to solve their issues and get them back up and running.
Her endless narrative is bad enough, but when she and her equally hideous daughter Stella (a.k.a. Shrek) start a screaming match, cursing each other at high volume, that's when I get really tweaked. I really don't need a call from the boss because a customer was offended by what they heard coming through my microphone.
More than once, I have fantasized about strolling casually over to the backyard fence with a gun in my hand, shutting them both up for good.
A guy can dream, can't he?
And then, just last week, it occurred to me. I sometimes write short horror stories, just for my own enjoyment (Stephen King has nothing to be concerned about), so why not write her into one, and make her demise both horrific, yet perfectly appropriate? Sure, her yammering will still continue, but you can't get a life sentence for imaging things.
Well, not just yet, anyway.
So, on a dreary, rainy Saturday morning, I started work on a rough draft...
Monday dawned, bright and perfect. The flawless blue sky above, birds jumping around in the bushes, chirping away, plants starting to bloom in the early springtime warmth. If only it wasn't a work day, and I didn't have this damned cold, it would be absolutely perfect.
I had everything on the computer set up and ready to go for my 7:00 AM start. The first caller had a simple issue, which we resolved easily, and he was thrilled. Everything was looking good until 7:30, when it began.
Monster got off to an early start, yammering away on that damned phone of hers right under my window. After the third or fourth "you know what I meeeean?", I was clenching my teeth and gripping my coffee cup almost hard enough to shatter the ceramic handle. I turned to face the screen on my personal laptop, and opened that PDF version of the Necronomicon that I had recently obtained, browsing the contents, and hoping the translation was accurate.
I found what I was looking for, and uttered the incantation aloud, insuring I had muted the microphone on my headset first. After reciting it three times, I opened my pocket knife and made a small cut in my fingertip, just enough to draw blood. I allowed exactly three drops to fall on the desk, then popped my finger into my mouth and went to fetch a Band-Aid for it.
Walking back into the office, I heard her saying, "Well, that's when he told her to graggh, auggggh...", and I looked out my window. She was standing now, arms waving madly, as though swatting at a swarm of invisible flies. Her eyes were bulging, her skin turning a deep shade of violet, as she tottered on her feet, finally dropping the phone. She seemed to look over toward my window, where I stood, wearing my best 'Norman Bates' smile.
I really hoped she could see that smile clearly.
Her mouth was wide open, far wider than normal, to accommodate her rapidly swelling tongue. It looked to be the size of a tennis ball now, and still growing. Her bulging eyes rolled back in her head, revealing huge whites behind her glasses, as she fell backwards.
That faithful chair finally met its match, the aluminum frames snapping loudly under her falling weight, collapsing beneath her. The arms folded over, trapping her in the broken frame. Her struggles were much weaker now, and finally ended, her polyester pants turning dark as her bladder and sphincter let go and her hands dropped lifelessly to her sides.
Her tongue was so large at the end, it looked like she was trying to swallow an entire pot roast at once. Her teeth had impaled it, blood trailing from the sides of her mouth, adding to the illusion of degenerate gluttony.
Just then, a call came in, so I had to turn away from my screen and pull up the customer's info on the work computer. He explained the problem he was having, and I determined he'd need hands-on service to resolve it.
Living in the city, I hear sirens all the time, but these were getting louder, closer. I quickly verified the necessary information, and placed the call for the customer, then signed off, removing my headset. I walked into the living room as an ambulance and a fire truck pulled up in front of Dick's house. I went back into the office and looked out the window, fearing he'd taken a turn for the worse, but gasped, frozen in place at what I saw outside.
Monster was on the ground, exactly as I'd imagined in my story. Her mouth stretched around that enormous tongue looked horribly obscene as the EMT's began taking vitals and trying to revive her. It took both EMT's and three firemen to pry her out of the damaged chair and get her onto the stretcher. I didn't need to hear the conversation to know she'd be pronounced dead from asphyxiation once they got her in the ambulance. She was stone cold dead when they arrived, exactly as she was on my laptop screen.
I felt neither joy nor sorrow, pride nor remorse. I felt nothing actually, except a cold sense of unreality as though this couldn't possibly be happening, this only happens in books and movies, not for real, can't possibly be for real...
And yet, it was. Right in front of me, right outside my window.
I gently closed the lid on my laptop, letting it hibernate, my story still up and active just before the screen went dark. It occurred to me that I should title it "Poetic Justice", considering that she'd lived by the tongue, and died by the tongue.
I composed an email on my work computer, stating that I had to take the rest of the day off, as my cold had compromised my ability to talk to people. I sent that off, then closed out and shut down the work computer, smiling as I thought about how I would take a ride. It was time to enjoy the rest of this beautiful spring day, just bursting with new beginnings.
Copyright 2017, G.A. Miller. All Rights Reserved.
Thanks for reading this sample story. This is just one sample of short work I've done, very much in the spirit of the late, great EC Comics, that I think might work in a modern version. One day, perhaps...