Friday, October 27, 2017

The Waking Dream- About Footprints from Across the Void

          The night was indeed the night of the big snow of my fourth grade year.  It was cold as it always was, and Pop had everyone sleep downstairs to ensure that everyone would be safe and warm near the fire. Brigetta and I still laugh about the incident of her bouncing my head like a basketball on the pillow because I wouldn’t wake-up.  I had a few other incidents happen in that room long before I moved upstairs, but those are legends for another time.  I hope you enjoy this tale and I will see you in the shadow~

Footprints from Across the Void

          It was the night of the last big snow that Granite Falls would see for years to come. Randy was dreading another day in his fourth grade class as he stood dripping wet from the bath he’d just taken by the wood stove which served as the heat for the Old House. The Old House, as it were, was drafty, and even with the layer of plastic which had been fastened over the windows, still took a great deal of effort to warm up. The towel draped around his shoulders soon collected enough heat that the cloth began to sting his skin. Having grown up this way, he knew that it was time to turn over and cook his backside. As he stood basking in the warmth, he could hear his father and mother talking in the living room.

          “It’s going to get colder than a well digger’s ass tonight,” Gene said as he sipped on a glass of Pepsi. “We’d better make sure that there’s plenty of wood in, and pack the stove full before bed.”

          “I know it,” Edna replied with a hint of concern in her voice, “they’re calling for snow as far as Charlotte tonight; from eight to twelve inches is what they said on the radio.” She looked over the edges of her book as she regarded him. He sat in his usual spot by the dining room entryway watching the TV and soaking up the warmth from the living room stove. “Do you think we need to have Brigetta sleep downstairs tonight,” she inquired knowing that it would be too cold for anyone to sleep in the drafty halls and bedrooms that lay beyond the landing of the upstairs. As if to prompt an answer, a breeze shifted rattling the great curtain of plastic which had been put up to seal the windows?

          Gene took a deep breath as he thought it over briefly. “Yeah, she’d better sleep downstairs tonight; it’ll be way too cold for her to stay up there in that room. She can stay in Randy’s room that way they’ll both be warm.” They discussed the issue further, but for the most part it was set, Randy’s older sister was going to be sharing the bed with him that night.

          For Randy that meant sleeping in his favorite sweat suit, the self same that he used as his Ghostbusters’ Ensemble. It sure beat sleeping in long-handles; they were itchy- now if only he could get out of going to school the next day it would be better. While most little brothers would be crestfallen at having an older sibling, especially an older sister spending the night with them, Randy didn’t mind. He and Brigetta were rather close for the given circumstances. They would often hang out, and she would take him to see movies, or the arcade even though she herself didn’t play games like Karate Champ or Kicker. It was she who took Randy to see Ghostbusters in the theater a few years back and would often take him Christmas shopping at the mall. So having her stay in his room was almost like having a friend stay over, almost.

          The night carried on and as the stoves gat loaded up with a solid mixture of dry cured oak and some green maple to ensure that the fire would burn hot all night long, everyone went to bed. Randy was out cold despite the wind that whistled just outside, the wind which would soon bury the countryside in a glistening blanket of satiny white.

          The lights were out and Brigetta lay next to him glad to be warm but wishing that she was in her own bed rather than that of her younger brother. Despite the heavy rise and falls of Randy’s deathlike slumber, she could hear the roar of the fire in the dining room. Every so often there would be a mild shift that would shake the floor of the house as a log adjusted in one of the stoves. She lay there listening to the wind whispering its secrets to her from outside, and the rattle of the plastic which covered the windows of the living room, dining room and, kitchen, as it protested the churn of the icy cold wind. Every once in a while a singular breath would find its way through the cracks in the wall, or through the hole where the dryer exhaust pipe ran and remind her why she was downstairs on a night like this. While she didn’t know when it had happened, Brigetta drifted into the land of dreams as sleep crept into her form the way that a cat slips upon its prey.

           The dreams were simple and enlightening as she dreamt of days at the beach with her aunt and uncle’s family. She dreamt of driving and of laughter. It was a moment of joy and wonder as she journeyed through the realms of slumber. It was in this realm she lived another life, as most people do. There was excitement, and fun, but most of all there was happiness…but that came all crashing to a screeching halt when the scene abruptly shifted from a sunny day on the beach to the outer view of herself and Randy laying in the bed. She felt a sense of urgency course through her very being and found it realized as a massive arm reached through the window and began strangling her against the red bed rails of Randy’s bed. Randy lay motionless, unaware of the plight she was in though she fought and flailed against the forceful arm of her attacker. Though she fought with all she had she could not prevail against the murderous grip of whoever held her pinned against the headboard. At the final moment when she knew the struggle to be about over, she snapped out of her dream and back into the waking world.

          The room looked no different than it did in her dream. Even Randy was still on his side, dead to the world around him. Unable to shake the horrific feeling of being choked Brigetta turned to look outside. Snow had been falling for a little while, and goose feather flakes fell as pale shadows falling from the heavens casting the world aglow with twilit obscurity. For many such a scene of serene beauty would bring a simple pleasure to the mind, conjuring the most splendid of childhood memories. That could not be said with this night however, for amidst the ivory blanket that had cloaked the earth, Brigetta beheld a most unnerving sight for there in the snow were pointed boot prints, much like that made by cowboy boots. Someone had been standing at the window and probably left during the time she was dreaming of the attack. Immediately she began shaking Randy to see if he saw it them as well, and when he did not wake right away, she dribbled his head upon his pillow like one would a basketball, waking him immediately.

          “Randy,” she hissed!

          “Hmm,” Randy groaned at being woken from his hibernation?

          “Look! Do you see them,” she inquired her whisper as harsh as metal scraping across concrete? “Do you see them?”

          Randy rubbed his eyes and peered out the window, and immediately he was excited. It was snowing, and that meant the possibility of there being no school. “Yeah,” he exclaimed in a low voice that border lined a whisper and a vocal impression, “It’s snowing!”

          “No,” Brigetta spat, “not the snow, look!” She pointed toward the ground.

Randy strained his eyes, and then it became clear. “Who was outside?”

          “I don’t know,” she replied more than a little freaked” but I knew they were there because I had this dream that they were reaching through the window and choking me against the bed rails!”

          At that moment Edna walked in wrapped in her nightgown. “What’s going on?”

          Brigetta wasted no time in telling her the details concerning the dream and how she woke up to find the footsteps outside of the window. It was almost as if she picked up on some mental signal that revealed to her what was in the other person’s mind, however, that wasn’t where the craziness ended. It wasn’t until Gene went out and checked the prints that it became clear that something obviously had been overlooked. Something that was put into perspective after Gene had went back to bed.

          The footprints started at the window and led away, in the snow. In other words, the footprints originated at the window, packing down the fresh fallen snow and then walked away, but from where did they come… that is an answer the family does not know to this very day…

Friday, October 20, 2017

Commentary on “I’d Better Go”

          Charles and I were always close, or so I would like to think as many of my best pre-middle school memories are rooted in the times when he would come to visit.  Though time would bring those merry times to an end of its own accord, the restless spirits of the Old House made that finality come sooner than it might have been.  As is mentioned in the story, Charles and I did a lot together during those years he came to stay, and even on one of my recent camping trips I introduced my son Brandon to the summer tradition that Charles had hooked me on, Crackers, candy, potted meat/Vienna sausages, and a cream soda.  Some things may end but the impact made is etched in us forever more.  This story is more than just a ghost story; it’s a flashback to a simpler time, where fun and creepy things often shared the same address.  I hope you enjoy “I’d Better Go.”

W. R. Frady

“I’d Better Go”

          Charles loved staying at the Old House with his Uncle Gene and his Aunt Edna. Every couple of weekends or so, he would gather his things and stay with them for the weekend. During the summer, when school was out, he would gather his fishing gear and stay for a week or so at a time, sitting with his younger cousin, Randy and doing minor chores like mowing for his uncle. In their spare time, which was rather often, he and Randy would go to the river fishing or wander the woods just to see where different paths led. If Charles had some spare money from working with Gene or the like, he would borrow Randy’s BMX bike and ride out to Northside, a local gas station on the outskirts of Granite Falls, to grab snacks for the river excursions. Though there was a four to five year difference between them, Charles and Randy had a lot of fun together. During one of his stays, Charles began talking to one of the girls from down the road. As they grew closer, Charles found an additional reason to stay at his aunt and uncle’s more often

          There were countless days when fishing trips and woodland excursions were traded for time hanging out with the girl down the road, while Randy played the Atari. When they weren’t hanging out they would spend time talking on the phone like most teenagers do, or did. During those times when Charles was held captive to the thralls of teenage romance, Randy would usually go outside and ride his bike to the end of the road and back. Randy didn’t care much either way as he was only nine years old and he, being a kid who didn’t understand the complexity of teenage affairs, was going to have fun no matter what.

          One summer day, Randy decided to go out and ride his bike while Charles talked to his girlfriend on the phone. Charles didn’t mind as he enjoyed the privacy of not having his little cousin around during his talks with his girl. Some things kids just didn’t understand, and he knew that Randy always had something better to do than listen to a personal conversation, especially when it involved what most kids would consider the mushy stuff. Charles took a deep breath and sighed, he was glad to have the house to himself for a while. Randy was fun for a kid, but he was a kid after all. He and his girlfriend talked for a while discussing everything from the movies they had seen or wanted to see, plans for the future, people, places, and various other things. Charles sat in the chair by the downstairs phone, which faced the front door and allowed him to see if someone were to come up to the door. As they were in the heat of a deep conversation, the front door opened and someone walked in. Charles looked up half expecting to see Randy strolling in but was rather surprised to find no one there. Whatever it was walked across the living room floor, right by him and went down the long, dark hallway. For that moment Charles was speechless, for he knew that even though he was alone, he was in fact, not alone. Just then the back door opened and whatever it was left, pulling the door to behind it.

          Silence fell over the house once more. Once Charles knew that he was truly alone again, he interrupted his girlfriend’s discussion, cutting their conversation short uttering only, “Uh, something just came to my attention,” he stammered, his voice shaking as his mouth became dry, “I’d better go.” With that he hung up the phone and made tracks for the door. The hot summer sun felt wonderful on his face as he was glad to be outside once more. With all the stories he had heard about the Old House on Lacy Road, Charles knew that things would never be the same around there again. He looked down the field to see Randy riding back toward the house on his bike; and with a shudder at the recent events still fresh in his mind, put on a happy face and strolled down to meet his younger cousin.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Concerning The Peculiar Case of That Which Dwelt in the Field

Camping was a big part of my life, in fact you will see this in many of my stories.  For as long as I can remember or should be able to remember my brothers, sisters and I were as often as not dragging the blankets out of the house to camp out in the yard even if we couldn’t go to the river or somewhere else.  we would simply enjoy laying out underneath the stars and looking into the depths of space with naught but our imagination to tell us what lie beyond the ebony velvet sky and the glittering diamonds that sparkled thereinIt was usually a time of  good memories and sibling community, however as things changed around the Old House, so did the strange occurrences that took place there.  Perhaps these things were going on all along, and I strongly believe they were, but we were to captivated in our own discussions to see what was around us.  There is a memory I have, however from my first summer, when we, Crystal, Brigetta, and I were staying outside, and while they were drifting off to sleep, I could see something Big tromping through the woods just beyond the curve at the base of the hill.  I do not know what it was to this day, but the memory has stayed with me all my life.  After the Crescent Timber Company cut the trees in the forest surrounding the Old House, I never saw such a massive thing again, but I remember thinking that it looked like the silhouette of one of the giants from an old illustrated book of fairy tales.  I can reattempt to write this as a story if you like, but you’ll have to let me know via my Facebook page or my Google Plus page.  Anyway the events of this story took place the summer just after my Freshman year of High School, and while the images if this still haunt me to this day, I’ll never forget the memories these experiences made. 

The Peculiar Case of That Which Dwelt in The Field

          Of the following events of which I cannot explain, I would not be so inclined as to begrudge you should you not believe me. In fact had I only heard this tale and not experienced it first hand, I would be hard pressed to find truth in it s telling; however, I was there and can assure you that what I speak here to be the truth. The only other party to share in this weird tale is that of my friend and comrade Clint who plays a key role in this. You see it was he and I who bore witness to the thing of which I am about to tell you, the thing which dwelt in the field.

          It was in the gloaming of a mid-summer’s day that Clint and I were outside enjoying the relief from the hot and sticky afternoon which was common in the western foothills of North Carolina during the summer season. The sun had dipped below the western horizon, casting the land in deepening hues of crimson which inlaid even the silhouettes of the barn, and various hardwoods that bordered the yard of the old Victorian-style farmhouse with highlights of rich vermillion. We had been laughing and carrying on as we talked about everything from video games, to girls, and movies, as well as countless other topics.

          “Terminator 2 is awesome man. I’m telling you, Randy; you have to see it,” Clint said as he pushed up his wire-framed glasses. We had been throwing daggers at the old oak tree which had in my earlier years been struck by lightning leaving the front scarred and lifeless while the rest of the old tree lived on. Clint did a two-step and turn to add a creative spin to his toss. The dagger, an Arkansas toothpick style knife made a rattling clank as it bounced harmlessly off the dead wood, We laughed despite the failed attempt, as we didn’t expect the knife to actually stick anyway. There had been more than a few times when we were pleasantly surprised by the random success of a particular throw, and when it happened, Clint and I would spend the next hour or so doing it over and over again to see if we could get the throwing style perfected. Such were many of the days we spent laughing and carrying on as we developed our craft. As the sun sank lower behind the distant mountains, it quickly became too dark to continue our game.

          Nightfall soon found us sitting on the steps of the front porch of the old house wondering what to do next. Sure, we could have gone inside and played Nintendo, or watched a movie or something of the like, (…and I was never opposed to a good game of Simon’s Quest) but we weren’t like that, for there was a call of the outdoors that overrode the desire to be stuck indoors, even after nightfall. In the east, we could see the deep golden-orange hues of the lunar disk peering over the edge of the trees. It was clear that tonight would be one of those nights where the moon was so bright that it would be almost like daylight even in the dead of night. So after a little bit of talking, we decided that we would gather our things and camp out in the field for the night.

          By the time we gathered all that we either needed or wanted to take with us on our expedition to the middle of the field; it was getting pretty close to midnight. Pop and Mom had lowered the lights, with the final one being the porch light giving us just enough time to light the lantern which we used for such excursions.

          “We better light the lamp,” Clint remarked, imitating one of the Halloween Sound Effects tapes that I had. At that, we laughed, and so it was with good humor that we set off carrying our things to the center of the field. A fairly large piece of old paneling lay out on the ground where we had dragged it to serve as a barrier between us and the stiff hay stalks underneath. Upon this we laid out our bedrolls and set up our gear. The lamp gave off a warm golden glow which sharply contrasted the silvery pale of the moon which hovered over the horizon like a cold unfeeling eye. The old house and its surrounding environs seemed like an eerie caste of etch art which had been brought to life as shadows and moonlit highlights gave the whole a monochromatic etherealness which put Clint and I into the mind that it appeared as though we had somehow been transported into the setting of an old black and white horror movie. As if to accentuate upon that notion a cool breeze stirred the air, lending a chill to the already cool evening.

          “You know we’re not going to see anything,” Clint stated, his typical skepticism poisoning the statement. I had grown used to this sort of response from him, but there were times when it got under my skin but it was who he was and the Old House had a tendency to make believers out of those who were skeptical when they least expected it.

          “We may or may not,” I replied as usual, “but I still love being out here in the dark, especially when the moon is full and on the rise.” The pale silver of the moon had become more prominent in the last few moments setting the nightscape aglow in a pale imitation of the daylight. One could vaguely make out color in the bright nightly hues, yet as a rough drawback it made peering into the heavens a chore as the halo surrounding the moon obscured the stars beyond. Somewhere a screech owl began its eerie moaning, its mournful sound carrying through the midnight air.

          We sat upon the paneling which separated us from the damp ground and the blankets spread there. The lantern’s glow cast a warm golden light onto the immediate area, as Clint and I talked about a variety of subjects. Time passed and we were talking about one of the incidents which had happened concerning the hallway between the dining room and my bedroom (which was downstairs at this particular time) and a creature of some sort with a weird potato –shaped head or cowl and red, burning eyes. Clint listened but being the skeptic he was, doubted the validity of the claim. A cold breeze stirred across the dew laden field chilling us with its, out of place, icy touch and snatching our attention away from the immediate conversation. We looked around as the whole mood of the night seemed to change. The shadows seemed to encroach upon us, despite the full-moon looming high overhead. I looked at Clint and asked him if he remembered me mentioning something about a strange shadow which had managed to pace my every step through the field one night merely weeks before.

          “Uh, yeah,” he replied with a look that plainly stated that he did not understand? “Why is that?”

          “I don’t think we’re alone anymore,” I returned with a wary glance around.

          “It’s just your imagination, Randy, there’s nothing in the field with us,” Clint stated sardonically as he adjusted his glasses. He didn’t notice that the shadows surrounding us had moved, and in all truth neither would I had it not been for the position of the moon, high in the night sky, casting it’s pale silvery glow upon the surrounding landscape. Being used to the night, especially in this field of which I was so familiar, I could tell that there were shadows where there weren’t supposed to be. Somewhere around the back of the house our dogs, Baby, Trouble, Rascal and Julius (AKA Hogdog) began barking at something only they could see. In many ways I wanted to get us out of the field even if only for a little while until the shadows dispersed, so I grabbed my handmade rope whip and looked at Clint with a daring look in my eye. “Let’s see what they’re barking at!”

          With that Clint and I grabbed the lamp and made our way up the field toward the back of the house but not before Clint could put in his statement. “It’s probably a squirrel, or a skeleton; who knows around here?”

          I looked at him with a chuckle as we trudged up through the field, though it was meant in sarcasm, there was still a ring of humor to it. Just as we reached the front yard we stopped, seeing the dogs trotting back toward the front porch. Maybe it was a squirrel, or an opossum or something of the like. We stopped by the oak tree and watched as they filed onto the porch, with only Rascal and Julius fussing as they always did amongst themselves. Clint and I looked at each other and shrugged.

          “I could have told you that it wasn’t anything,” Clint said.

          I regarded him a moment and then replied, “…and one day you’re going to see that there’s more in this world than can be dismissed by skepticism.” I gave him a resigned smile that didn’t let him know what we had really left the field for, however, as we turned back toward the “campsite” we were stopped by a spectacle that neither of us were expecting, for from the twilit shadows of the field, something had risen and stood upright like a man, though that was where the resemblance ended, for this thing was as a living shadow, and bore no other likeness of anything in earth or heaven. The pale light of the full moon glimmered along its back as it shambled along the grassy dip where our bedrolls lay on the paneling. Clint and I did a double take, regarding one another for the briefest of moments and by the time we looked back it was gone.

          “Did you see it,” I asked?

          Clint nodded. “It looked like-” I stopped him before he could go on.

          “Don’t say anything, instead of telling each other what we saw, we’ll get some paper and draw it to see if we saw the same thing,” I stated, knowing that if we began talking about it, we might interfere with the reality of what each of us had perceived in that moment.

          The door creaked open and my heart sank because I knew that we would manage to wake up Mom or Pop and that would quickly end the purpose of our trek indoors. Once we knew the coast to be clear, we made our way, silently as the two of us could back to my room. Once inside, I turned on the light and fetched each of us some paper to draw what we had witnessed. To keep from drawing upon what the other was doing we sat on opposite sides of the room, our backs toward one another. The minutes thundered slowly by as I sketched out the shadowy humanoid figure that I had bore witness to only moments before. Clint was intent on his sketch and with heavy anticipation, he was soon done. We decided to reveal the pictures at the same time and on the count of three presented them. The air was heavy as each breath came out like an iron lung. Then it was done; the images revealed. And with the exception to particular drawing styles the pictures were of the same shadowy form lurking in the distance with the moonlight shining on its back, Clint and I had indeed seen the same thing… and we could not explain what it was, nor could we dismiss that which Dwelt in the Field.


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

About A Bath Time Surprise

          This event in the uncanny life of our Family on Lacy Road has always been one of the more comical, despite its apparent awkwardness.  While this incident can be laughed off, there are few others that can be so easily disregarded.  This particular story conjures that old song by Rockwell, I Always Feel Like Somebody’s Watching Me yet it did ring with truth in this old house.  Mom’s incident in the bathtub echoes another tale of someone who had the feeling of being watched…and then strangled through the window, but that is a Legend for another day.  I hope you enjoy A Bath Time Surprise

W. R. Frady

A Bath Time Surprise

          It was just another night in the old house on Lacy Road when everyone was just minding their own business and life seemed to carry on its merry way. Edna had decided that she would remove herself from the daily doings which consisted of the cooking, the putting away of food, and the tending to those things that just needed to be done be it by her or the kids. So, getting her things, she prepared to take a bath.

          The tub was an old Victorian cast iron style tub which had been framed in around the basin with plywood older than anyone in the house could lend a guess toward. Its spigot was nearly as ancient as the tub, with a small nozzle that shot the water out in a tight stream as it filled the large basin. Edna turned the knobs beginning with the hot water valve and tested it until it felt just the right temperature. She then turned on the cold, adjusting it until the warmth was consistent to her liking. Without further hesitation she climbed into the large basin; the immediate sting of hot water a welcome feeling to her skin as it would help to soak away the day’s troubles.

          She lay back, allowing the hot water to soothe her tired form. Edna’s hands searched blindly for the soap which had been sat on the side of the tub. She groped around trying to grasp the slippery bathing bar only for it to slip through her grip several times before she managed to accost it. The bath water had nearly reached the overflow drain when she sat up to turn off the water. For several moments she was at peace. It was just her, the lap of the water, and the muffled ambience from the rest of the house which was locked beyond the oaken portal that marked the entry between the kitchen and the bathroom… or so she thought. As she relaxed in the hot water, bathing and soaking away the weariness of the day, she allowed her eyes to rove over the bathroom. All the bathroom seemed in order, as her gaze wandered over the room. From the fixtures to the washing machine, and even the towel rack, nothing appeared out of place, save for the figure which now stood in the middle of the room. It was a gentleman from a bygone era who had made his appearance in the room before her. His dress was that of the Eighteenth Century evening attire, like one who had been in attendance at a party or formal dinner. The gentleman looked around as if Edna was nowhere in the room. Edna, on the other hand, reached for something of which she could use to cover her indecency, only to look up once more to find him no longer there.

          When she got out of the tub, she looked around, and save for a vivid memory of what or who she saw, there was no trace of anyone else ever having been in there but her… and the door was still locked…from the inside.

Monday, January 2, 2017

The Events of But… It Wasn’t Me…

The events of the story But… It Wasn’t Me are a general rundown of how a normal evening at the Frady House on Lacy Road went.  As you read, the evening’s events are those not much much different than any teenager’s Friday evening with one of his friend’s staying the night.  The focus on the normality of the events are in effect to tell how normal the evening was, up to that one point… that one point where the course of the night changed the lives of two teens forever more, and gave them this story to tell.  May you enjoy But… It Wasn’t Me…

But… It Wasn’t Me…

          It had started off like any other ordinary Friday around the Frady House. Randy raced in from school ready to tear into some video games and get his mind off of the wearisome day at school. “School,” he thought, “that’s all behind me now; nothing but the weekend, some video games, and a whole lot of fun between now and Monday. He dropped his book bag on the bed, turned on his Nintendo and television and then went to get a glass of Sun-Drop. The film strip of the game Castlevania II- Simon’s Quest flashed into view and began to scroll across to the prologue as Randy turned to walk out the door, it was the weekend and he couldn’t wait to get it started.

          Grim Reaper descended on Randy like an overwhelming force of doom. He moved just in time for a scythe to fly right by his head, his whip working meticulously to beat back the living incarnation of death. At the last possible moment Randy dashed beneath the folds of the Reaper’s robes and spun, once more unleashing the braided and pleated fury of the Chain Whip on his otherworldly nemesis… “Randy,” his mom called from the living room, “telephone!” Immediately and rudely torn from the dark shadowy world of Castlevania II, Randy paused the game and took a moment to gather his senses before answering.

          “I’m coming,” he replied, taking a moment to study where he was in the fight so that he could finish beating the Grim Reaper and gain the coveted Golden Knife. “Just give me a minute!” He put down the controller and stretched then got up from the golden leather desk chair that served as his gaming chair and went to answer the phone.

          “Rambo,” came a familiar voice from over the phone, it was Nate, one of his best friends from school.

          “What’s up Nate,” Randy asked as he took the phone around the corner?

          “Not much, man,” Nate returned; his voice sounding like he had just stretched the school time exhaustion from his bones.

          The two talked laughed and carried on for probably around fifteen minutes, but by the time it was over, it had been determined that Nathan was going to sleep over for the night. Excited to have someone to hang out and play games with, Randy sped back to his room, leaping over the back of the chair in a single bound and somehow managed to snatch his controller in the process. Once more he was in the depths of Brahm’s Mansion facing his scythe wielding nemesis, “game on Grim Reaper, game on!”

          By the time Nathan arrived, Randy was hopping his way through a game of Wizards & Warriors. A chorus of baying dogs announced the arrival of company to anyone and everyone within an earshot, stealing his attention from the small television set which held the sprites of his virtual consciousness. Without having to look at the clock, Randy knew that his friend had arrived. He paused the game, with Kuros perched atop a lava bubble, and got up to welcome his company.

          Nathan was just pushing his way inside the door as Randy strode into the living room to greet him. The visiting teen seemed a bit conflicted as he struggled with the backpack which slumped carelessly over one shoulder, a handful of NES games including a pair of shiny gold cartridges that denoted the presence of the two Zelda games, and the spring closure of the screen door. Nathan’s eyes roved over the room to see the friendly faces of the Frady Family greeting him as he trudged in. “What’s up, everybody,” Nate greeted Randy’s Mother, and sister? “Rambo, how are ya?”

          “Good Afternoon, Nathan,” Edna replied, “How are you?”

          “Glad school’s over for the week,” Nate returned with a lighthearted grin! He glanced down the hallway to find Randy emerging from the shadowy alcove, a welcoming smile upon his face.

          “Hey, how’s it going, Nate,” Randy said enthusiastically as he entered the room and approached his guest? He met his guest about halfway across the living room, and clapped him on the shoulder. “Man, you didn’t get here a moment too soon,” he said as he ushered Nathan toward the shadowy passage that would lead him back to his room, “I was just, hopping my way through a game of Wizards & Warriors and was about to leave the Fire Caves.” The two continued to talk as they passed the antique shelves that housed several series of ancient encyclopedias and other various books of differing vintages like some forgotten library. On the other side the stairs rose deftly into the second story, leaving the last half of the dismal passageway almost completely obscured in shadow.

          As quickly as the shadows converged upon the youths, they receded as the hallway came to end in a “T” with the backdoor lying directly before them, the dining room to the left, the basement door to the immediate left, and Randy’s room, just beyond it. Light bathed the two as they entered Randy’s room. An old school leather office chair sat between the dresser and the television. At the foot of the dresser, a book bag sat limp and seemingly neglected, its once sturdy straps looking worn and haggard.

          “If you want, you can set your stuff right here,” Randy stated as he and Nathan made their way to the Nintendo.

          “Alright,” Nate nodded and began shrugging off the load that he had brought with him, handing off the handful of games to Randy as he laid the backpack at the foot of the dresser. Randy shuffled through the games in his hands excited to see Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, The Legend of Zelda (of which he had spied as Nathan was coming through the door), and Metroid. As soon as Nathan had slid out of his field jacket, and hung it on the bunk bed post, he and Randy returned to the Nintendo, and the knight who had been patiently awaiting his return atop a subterranean magma bubble.

          The time seemed to glide by as Randy and Nathan jumped, whipped and/or slashed their way through game after game. Randy had just blasted his way through Mega Man 2 when his mother called him from the dining room. “I’ll be right back,” he said as he handed the controller to Nate and bade him to play whatever he wanted while he was gone to answer the summons.

          “Coming,” Randy Called as he bounded over the chair, narrowly avoiding the stereo system in his maneuver! After about five minutes or so, Randy returned, just as Nathan was duking it out with Soda Popinski. “Mom’s ordering pizza from Pizza Express,” he related to his co-gamer, “if you want, we can ride with her and see if Park Square or Flick Video has anything worth renting.”

          Nathan dodged a hook and quickly retaliated with a flurry of punches followed by a swift uppercut that sent the towering monster staggering back into the corner. “Alright,” he responded, using the ten-count as a chance to regard Randy, “how soon do we have to go?”

          “She just now calling, so it’ll probably be about ten minutes before she’s ready to go,” Randy replied as he worked his way back to his gamer throne. Soda Popinski, huh, I’ve read about him and heard you and Ben talk about him, but I’ve never seen him. Dude; he is huge!”

          “Bigger they are,” Nate responded nonchalantly pummeling the larger competitor with practiced precision, “the harder they fall.” Just as he uttered the final words, he launched an uppercut that put the big man down for a “TKO.” “Yeah man,” Nate spoke as if answering the proposal for the first time, “if there ain’t any games, then maybe we can grab a movie or somethin’. Right now, I’m gonna plant an uppercut on Bald Bull’s chin that’ll put his ‘dick in the dirt’ before we go.”

          “Sounds like fun,” Randy chuckled as he took his seat, relaxed and watched Nathan go to work on the big boxer known as Bald Bull.

           Flick Video was busy as usual for a Friday night when the weather was still too cold to get out and do anything. People dotted the aisles, kids ran amuck as they searched for cartoons or games to rent, and the line consisted of no less than four to five people at any given time. Randy and Nathan gave the Nintendo games a good once-over but decided that they had plenty of games to last the night, especially since Nathan was eager to beat Zelda II while Randy watched, and maybe even put a KO on Mike Tyson. They decided that a movie would be the best route to find something entertaining to divert their minds from the nonstop gameplay that would be taking place throughout the course of the evening. The duo skimmed over one aisle after another, ducking, dodging, and evading anyone in their path. Action, Fantasy, Horror, and Comedy movies all found themselves subjected to the roving eyes of the pair of teens who didn’t have a clue as to what might pique their interests. Then it was almost as if the title jumped out at them, Maximum Overdrive. It was one part, Horror, one part Sci-fi, and one part Action, all rolled into one movie; throw in the soundtrack by AC/DC and it was the perfect movie, if only for the night. With the movie in hand, Randy and Nathan knew it was time to go; after all, the pizza was waiting.

          The pizza was a five topping specialty known only as the Express Pizza. At a gargantuan twenty-five inches, the slices covered a full sized dinner-plate, and then some. To Randy and his friends, the Express Pizza was like a slice of heaven, and they could eat it like a Ninja Turtle. They each had two or three pieces of the enormous pizza before retiring to Randy’s bedroom for more games and maybe even a little music. Nathan turned Punch-Out back on and began a new championship run. Randy wanted to watch him play the full game through, and so it was decided. Nathan was more than happy enough to jump back into the game he was playing before they had to leave. One by one Nathan guided Little Mac up the championship ladder, until finally, he was ready to fight “The Dream Fight.” Mike Tyson himself. The battle was intense, as Randy and Nathan were on the edge of their seats as Mike Tyson bore down on Little Mac like a harbinger of doom. Uppercut after uppercut whizzed by, with Nathan nimbly maneuvering Little Mac out of harm’s way, knowing that one wrong move and he would be kissing the canvas. After what seemed like an eternity, the uppercuts ceased and the real fight was on. Time slowed down to a crawl as the two competitors duked it out on the TV-screen. The fight was close but then it happened, Nathan moved Little Mac to the side just in time to avoid a devastating uppercut, and returned with flurry of blows that toppled the boxing heavyweight champ, as well as ending the game.

          “Oh hell yeah,” Randy stated as he clasped Nate’s hand in congratulations! That had been a close fight, and had Tyson landed even one punch on Little Mac, the fight would have been over in favor of the opposition. “Man, I’ll be right back; I’m going to grab another piece of pizza and something to drink.”

          “Alright,” Nate responded with a nod to regard Randy as he got up and moved toward the door; “I’m going to throw in Zelda II so you can see me get to the Grand Palace and beat it before we watch the movie.”

          “Sure thing,” Randy returned, “you want anything?”

          “Naw, man,” Nate replied as he shuffled through the handful of games he had brought. “I’m good.” He produced a golden cartridge which he promptly exchanged with Punch-Out and turned the NES back on. The trilling intro to the Zelda II title screen music could be heard echoing into the hallway as Randy made his way to the dining room where the remains of the giant pizza sat in its box atop of the table. Flipping the box open, he fingered a slice loose from the great pizza and put it on a paper plate before popping it into the microwave and setting the cook time. He could hear his father watching television in the living room and the background music of Zelda II coming from his room along with all of the video game sound effects that came with the Adventure of Link. The hum of the microwave ended with an abrupt ding, letting Randy know that his pizza was ready. He poured himself a cold glass of Coke, retrieved his pizza from the microwave, and munched happily on the huge chunk of mozzarella covered bliss. With his mouth full of the delightful snack, he made his way back to his room where Nathan was riding the ferry across the ocean to the land where the Grand Palace was located. Getting comfortable, he watched as Nate guided Link toward the monster guarded passage that would lead him on a long hard trek through a maze of mountains and caves that served as the path to the final citadel of the game.

          The mountainous maze proved to be quite a challenge, even for the seasoned veteran who deftly guided Link’s every move, yet through it all, he emerged victorious, though both life and magic were getting dangerously low. Nathan used the last of his magic to boost his life; then with a look of intense hope, he entered the Grand Palace. The final castle was in and of itself a deceptive maze of corridors that would easily lose anyone not familiar with its passages. Nathan fell victim to the maze a couple of times, but always managed to sort his way after a few muttered curses. Finally the battle was on with the two guardians of the dreadful palace, Link’s ensorcelled shadow, and the master of the Grand Palace, the Thunderbird.

          The first round of the bout went to Link’s Shadow, due to the wear of the Grand Palace on Link’s arsenal, but Nate guided a fresh Link in to the fight and within moments had the first boss defeated.

          Randy was thrilled to watch the defeat of the game that he had first been introduced to at Clint’s house only a couple of years before, and in so seeing it, the challenge intrigued him. Randy was just about to start climbing the ladder of Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out himself when his mom came in and announced that the TV was open for them to watch their movie. So with a mutual decision, Randy and Nathan turned off the Nintendo, his television, and went into the living room to put Maximum Overdrive into the VCR.

          And so it began, the day of the green comet, when all the machines came to life and turned on humanity. AC/DC’s soundtrack added to the scene, with survivors finding their way to the “Dixie Boy” truck stop. Enraptured in the movie the two adolescents barely moved as the events of Stephen King’s 1986 masterpiece unfolded before them. Randy couldn’t help but find himself wondering how he would cope with the events of such an apocalyptic caliber. Between his own thoughts of survival, and the antics taking place in the movie, he had failed to notice that Nathan, exhausted from a long day of school, pizza and playing games, had drifted off to sleep on the living room floor.

          The movie ended, and the credits were scrolling up the screen. Having realized that Nate had been asleep for the most of the last half of the movie, Randy felt conflicted about whether or not to wake him to go to bed, but decided to let him wake on his own just in case he was one of those people who had a hard time getting back to sleep if wakened. So rising from his place on the floor, he stopped the movie, turned off the VCR and the television, and sluggishly trudged into his room turning off all but the living room light, just in case his sleeping comrade were to come to. Without much thought on the matter, Randy leapt up onto the top bunk, where he always slept, crawled under his covers, and then went to sleep, dreaming of boxing matches, devilish transfer trucks with vile jester grins, and adventures in the land of Hyrule…

          When the morning sun peered in through the window behind his bed, Randy looked over his bed to find Nathan sound asleep in the bottom bunk. Randy thought little of it, until Nathan woke up and wondered why Randy had acted so strangely before they went to bed.

          “Wha…” Randy asked puzzled? “What do you mean, strangely?” By his befuddled expression, it was clear that Randy had no idea of what Nathan was talking about. “Man, you were still asleep on the floor when I came in here.” Randy explained, “I didn’t want to bother you while you were asleep, so I just let you stay in there. I thought you woke up and came in here on your own.”

          “Naw, man,” Nathan replied trying to remind Randy of the night’s events, “I was the one who woke you up and suggested that we go to bed…” And so he related his story-

          “I woke up in the living room, and the movie had cut off but the TV was full of static,” he explained. “You were lying there on the floor where we were watching the movie, so I grabbed your shoulder and shook you to wake you up. As I did, your eyes popped open and you just looked at me. Not thinking anything of it, I spoke to you and said; ‘Don’t you think we need to be getting to bed?’ at that moment you jumped up without saying a word and moved off through the dining room toward your bedroom. I got up and cut off the VCR and TV, and then followed you to the bedroom where you just hopped up on the top bunk and rolled over without so much as a word of goodnight or helping me to clear the bottom bunk of the stuff on it. I didn’t know what was going on, but called out ‘goodnight.’ After I got no response I rolled over and went to sleep. When I awoke, well here we are, having this discussion.” Nathan finished his tale of the night’s events, a tale that left Randy dumbfounded as he looked back on the night.

          “How can that be,” Randy replied, flabbergasted by the story which directly contrasted the events he knew had taken place; for it was he who had cut off the VCR and the TV, he who had left Nathan asleep on the floor and he who had wakened to find Nathan on the bottom bunk?

          “I’m telling you what happened, man,” Nate returned, “I woke you, you just jumped up and came in here, and hopped up on the top bunk. I cut off the TV and VCR and came in here cleared off the bottom bunk, got in bed and told you ‘goodnight.’ The only part I can’t figure out is why you never said anything.”

          “I know what you’re saying, Nathan,” Randy replied, chills running up his spine from the very different relations of the previous night’s closing events, “but I’m telling you, it wasn’t me.”

            To this day Randy and Nathan still talk about that fateful night and the events thereof, and to this day both still remain convinced that their story is what really happened…