“Parlor Tricks” | Novella | Written by McConnaughay | 4 - Mishmashers Mishmashers

“Parlor Tricks” | Novella | Written by McConnaughay | 4

4.

As they arrived at the house, Huey beat down on the door with a ham fist knock. Todd stood beside him. For a reason he could not make sense out of if he were pressed, it seemed right Huey who knew the person inside be the one to knock in the dead of night. Awaiting a response and receiving none, Todd peeked his head in the darkness, worried he might see the return of their masked assailant. When Huey saw Todd, his upper body was leaned over the porch’s wooden guardrail. The aura a nearby streetlight shone over Todd made Huey anxious.

Get back,” Huey yelled in a shouting whisper, “Once we get inside, we will have the town swarming with cops, but, let’s not draw any attention to ourselves in the mean time.”

Todd said nothing, but he knew Huey was right, and he showed it by joining him at the door.

No noise came at the other end. No rustling footsteps. No one peeking from behind the curtains. Nothing.

Maybe no one’s home?” Todd suggested.

The lights are on,” Huey responded, looking through one of the windows. It did him little good, most of the inside was blurred by a thin white curtain.

The sight of Jamie’s demise flashes in Huey’s head again, as though the graphic was right-clicked and saved, forever available to torture him with. The panic returned to him shortly thereafter, “I am not fucking around with this!”

Todd played the fool, but he knew what Huey was about to do and certainly did not object to it. In a blunt effort, Huey drove his boot into the front door, an act that failed to bring the desired effect. Huey glared at Todd who took the hint, helping him ram the door open. It took one synchronized boot from each of them, forcing the door open and letting them inside.

Silence remained on the other end. No one alerted or at all concerned with the disturbance.

Huey continued forward.

Todd closed the door behind them and followed.

Let’s hope that your cousin is one of the only people left in the world who still has a landline,” Todd commented.

Huey’s cousin was an older man and was exactly the type of person who would still have a landline, but Huey didn’t bother to say that. Maybe it was because he knew something was wrong with the situation. Where was he? Why were his lights on?

As they entered the living room, which had the basics: a small couch, a reclining chair, and a modest television set to aim it all at, they were able to see that they were not alone.

Across from the living room, in the dining area, a skeleton sat at a table, and even though it was not possible, Huey felt confident that skeleton was smiling at them. The skeleton pointed his head up at them, “Well, it seems you have found yourself on the wrong side of tracks, my friends.”

His voice was crackly and yet, radiated a playful humor. Huey, on the other hand, felt too caught off guard by the mere audacity of what he was seeing to say a word. This was a skeleton. No skin. No meat on the bones to speak of. He looked like a decoration you might have seen at a supermarket around this time of year, and yet it was upright and talking in the real world like it was no big deal.

I can see neither of you is much the one for banter or discussion,” The skeleton said, replying to himself. “No matter.” The skeleton snapped his fingers, offering them little more than that. “Gandhi. Go fetch!”

They heard movement. It sounded like a large dog hurdling its way down the stairs of the two-story home, and, as it arrived, as the so-called “Gandhi” arrived, the assumption seemed both appropriate and grossly incorrect. It was a hairless man, naked, frail but frantic and ravenous. They heard more movement from the staircase to their right. A lot more.

Although you are, by my approximations, reluctant participants, we all have our roles in this performance, and this is the part where you need to run for your life.”

And run, they did.

Todd was the first out the doors, but Huey shortly followed. Both of them running the way they came, uncertain of the horrors headed their way, but no less terrified. Huey looked back behind them, pale-skinned creatures poured out of the house like a ruptured water main. They chased after them, crawling on their hands and knees toward them.

Todd had a sizable lead, but, as he came closer to the train tracks; one more impossibility occurred. The abrupt sound of a train whistle and the vibration of the ground beneath them. Todd looked for the source and soon found it, a train was indeed closing in; the conductor being a skeleton, theatrically hanging his body out the window, bumping his hand to signify the blaring air horn. Although there was no way to say for certain, and no reason to think it, Todd felt confident it was the same skeleton they had left back inside the house. But, how!?

As both Todd and Huey stopped themselves, too taken and petrified by fear to continue, it was Huey who was first met the detriment of that mistake. Huey let out a loud scream of agony, devastated by the pain as the frail creatures dug their teeth into his body. No one body part in-particular was special, no favoritism shown, the creatures fought over him like a slab of meat, ripping one limb off, then, the next. The screams were loud until they weren’t. They continued until they didn’t, replaced by the sloppy, ugly sound of gnarling animals devouring their meal.

All Todd could do was watch on, knowing the same fate awaited him.

Unless.

Todd looked at the train tracks and, then, at the train still a ways away. Maybe he could escape them. Whether he could or could not, it was the only option he had. Todd looked at the creatures, seeing that a couple of them were no longer preoccupied with Huey and were now in-search of their next meal.

Todd fought forward with all his might. His legs felt light and wobbly, disheveled like they could give in at any moment. His whole body shook; anxiety putting him at risk of either vomiting or losing consciousness. But still, he fought. He fought until the very apparent realization set in – that he would not be able to beat the train.

Close enough to feel the wind of the train, Todd stopped dead in his tracks in front of the tracks, looking forward at the train as it went by him.

In fear, he turned back, looking to see how close the creatures were to him, but was met by the gust of wind brought on by a second train, now parallel to the first.

Todd fell to a seated position, standing in awe of the train in-front of him and behind him. This wasn’t possible. None of this could be happening. This had to be a dream. A nightmare. Some type of reaction or hallucination. This wasn’t real.

That was about as far as his panicking reached before the next realization set in, his back was leaned up against something, something that had not existed prior. He turned his attention to it, sliding his hand over the cold steel of the rail.

His eyes went to the bright lights of the train hurling toward him.

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