Addie saw Stimple’s front door was slightly ajar, but she kicked it wide open anyway. It promptly bounced against the wall and slammed shut in her face with a resounding boom.
So much for a future with SWAT.
Trying again, she gingerly turned the knob and walked in. She saw the large hole in the drywall and grimaced.
Probably should pay for that.
The house was quiet, Stimple was either hiding or maybe loading a shotgun, but nowhere in sight. She knew he was here. She could feel it.
“Stimple! If you don’t come out now, so help me, I’ll crack you on the head and tell God you died.”
After a moment, a long moment, the man of Hell’s Home emerged from the bedroom. Without a shotgun. His eyes were bloodshot, his face worn and his clothes bagged and hung from his frame.
The sight of him had Addie trading her anger for disquiet. He wasn’t exactly the picture of health, nor was he sporting an evil smirk. Though she supposed she’d probably look the same if she had opened the gates and stuck around too.
Aaron’s eyes studied Addie warily as he sat down on the couch, flicking a hand towards her to join him. “What do you want?”
Straight to the point then. Good.
“You have to rebuild the gate. And you have to do it quickly. In case you haven’t noticed, weird stuff has been going down and the natives are restless.”
Aaron leaned forward and cradled his head in his hands.
“Oh, I get it. You’re confused. I know you think you’re here, still alive and breathing but you’re dead. Sorry you had to hear it from me. If you need assistance moving o-“
Addie’s hand snaked out to grab the closest object handy and closed around a book. Whacking him briskly on top of his head, she asked outraged,
“Have you gone completely ’round the bend? I’m alive. Flesh, blood, warm and breathing.”
“Hey!” Aaron grabbed for her arm and dropped it in shock. “You can’t-wait. You are warm but you’re dea-” whack!
The woman getting ready to renew her assault on his head was clearly dead but…not. She had to be (a guardian) a figment of his overworked mind. It wasn’t possible, as far as his limited knowledge went, to be able to be both.
Addie lowered the book. No use in beating him up anymore, even if he was of the male species. He was as confused as she. “Ugh, this is nuts. Where is your ole pal Roger? Would he have some answers?”
Aaron said nothing. And together they sat in the deepening gloom. Waiting.
Remember to check out more from Aaron Simple and the rest of the cast from the continuing story of Hell’s Home. 2 blogs, 1 story, lots of fun.
“Let me get this straight, Adelaide. Your boyfriend is married, but not to you, you’re having a recurring nightmare at a recurring time, you’re writing in your sleep, and your iphone is haunted? All this in one week?”
Addie sighed. “Yeah, except it feels closer to 4 months than just a week.”
Sophia leaned back in her chair and chuckled softly, even as her concerned gaze swept over her daughter, taking in Addie’s pale face and haggard appearance.
“You never did do anything on a small scale,” she commented lightly. “Not even when you-“
“Tell me about Hell’s Home, Mom.” Addie interrupted brusquely. She knew she’d suffer a month of guilt trips for her rudeness, but Sophia’s reminiscing would have to wait.
“Remember that story you used to tell me? About how Hell’s Home is supposed to be the gate that opens the crossroads? The place of everywhere?”
Sophia’s smile faded and she shifted uneasily. “Honey, that’s just an old ghost story. It isn’t true, you know that.” Sophia got up and began to clear the last of the dishes from the table.
“So what are you going to do about your married boyfriend? What’s his name again?”
“Mom. Please.” Addie insisted quietly. “I need to know.”
Sophia’s shoulders slumped as she sat back down and stared down absently at her folded hands.
“It wasn’t ever a good place to be, not for any length of time, Hell’s Home. When the settlers first staked it, no natives came to fight them for it. They wouldn’t come near it. Claimed it was inhabited by spirits that had never walked as humans and the place for the dead. Of course that didn’t scare the settlers, they just laughed and went on with life.”
“But things kept happening. They said time was weird there. It would stretch out for the longest or it would pass in what felt like seconds. Fires would start as if by magic and would destroy everything in their path, crops failed, livestock died, children disappeared. The settlers were desperate. The story goes that an arrangement was made.”
An arrangement with who-I don’t know. I do know those big iron gates that stood at beginning of the path leading into the woods were part of that agreement. The same gates the contractor guy demolished a couple of months ago.”
“What happens if the gates are taken down?” Addie asked and shivered, despite the heat.
Sophia shrugged, not looking away from her hands.
“The story never said. Hell on earth maybe? I don’t know. Look, why don’t you stay with me and your Dad? I know he’d love to have you around and I’d love to introduce you to my neighbor’s son.”
Addie was up and kissing Sophia before she could stop her. “Thanks Mom, maybe later. I’ve got to run. Love you.”
Duck, The Redneck, and I went to Holiday World as a end of summer daycation. It was their idea, I didn’t really want to go. I cited my reasons, (excuses) the heat index, blah blah, but the real reason was that I had myself a whoppin’ case of middle-aged bathing suit anxiety. Duck and The Redneck were unsympathetic. Of course.
So this is…
What I learned about my bathing suit fears at the water park
Guess what? Not one single person I saw there was a perfect 10. Of course it could be that it was the Victoria Secret models day off or something, or I wasn’t looking in the right direction at the right time for the shy and elusive tenners, who knows.
1. Everywhere I looked, body flaws were on flagrant display and Nobody. Cared.
I saw several third nipples, always a wonderful if slightly dangerous, wish-we-all-were-so-lucky perennial conversation starter, tons of I-know-there-must-be-a-story-behind-this tattoos in interesting and unexpected locations, and plenty of successful (and unsuccessful) dislodging the suit buttcrack ballet maneuvers going on. Hell yeah.
2. To my amazed delight, I most certainly wasn’t the only one with eye wateringly bright white summer denied skin. Far from it.
3. Not a single one of my fears came true. Nowhere was anyone was having a surprise swim suit inspection, everyone came sunglasses prepared, so there were no acrimonious accusations of spontaneous blindness or threats of seeking the advice of an attorney and best of all, being a 10 to gain admittance was not a requirement.
No one’s looking at you when there are friends doing the less than graceful, drowned rat water slide dismount off The Mammoth to howl insults at, a wave pool to dunk your kids in, either for general purposes or perhaps in payback over the regrettable and hopefully soon to be forgotten roller coaster incident.
And having the convenient option of having giant Tiki buckets nearby that dump a gazillion gallons of water from high above, to stand them under, you know…if the wave pool isn’t enough closure is a plus. Not that I’m saying I did that or anything.
Yeah with all that going on, well, you’re just part of the crowd getting sunburnt to an extra-crispy cinder in the background. For a people watching introvert with bathing suit anxieties, that ain’t half bad.