I’m asked on a regular basis… “who inspires you? Who supported you when no one else did?” By-in-large just one person… my wife… Dearheart. Now I wouldn’t say it has always been easy, not for her and certainly not for me but now I can say I’m cured! Yep, 100%… cured… thanks to She who rules the house. I was an addict, oh not like you think, nothing as mundane as drugs or alcohol or even sex… none of that common stuff for me. No, I had fallen hard for practical jokes… any of them… all of them… whoopee cushions, firecrackers, water buckets over the doorway… anything that would scare the crap out of you, I loved them all !
I was king of the practical joke. I was sly, clever, inventive and always on the look out for my next victim. It had reached the point all my friends and colleagues walked on egg shells around me for fear of being next on my list of pranks. With my head swollen with the pride of my ability, I had become a tyrant and loved every moment of it. I was unstoppable!
At least so I thought. Several of the cowards went behind my back… speaking to She who rules the house… Dearheart. They begged her to get me to stop, begged her to rein me in, to save them from my antics.
“I can’t stop you from tormenting them,” she conceded, waving a dismissive hand.
I was secretly thrilled and my head filled with plans of retribution for those that dared to stand against me.
“Just don’t bring it home,” she warned sternly.
A light bulb when on… until that moment, it had never occurred to me to make her one of my conquest. The thought burned in my brain day and night. I argued with myself contentiously… I shouldn’t, I couldn’t. She would make my life a living hell if I did… but if I did, how good would that feel? To good to pass up.
I searched for the next few weeks to find just the right situation until I found an Italian candy. Hidden inside its delightful cherry flavored exterior is by-carbonate of soda. The instant the hard candy is cracked, the by-carbonate of soda foams wildly and can no longer be contained. The victim foams at the mouth like a mad dog. The more they wipe away, the more there is to take its place… the perfect practical joke.
I bided my time, waiting for the right moment. Days went by, each eating at me more than the day that proceeded it. I could wait no more. I slipped the first piece into my mouth, being extra careful not to crack it.
“Did you want one?” I asked with as much disinterest as I could fake.
“Sure,” she returned quickly.
My heart began to race, adrenaline pumped wildly through my veins and then… and then I heard her piece crack. Every fiber in my body vibrated with excitement.
At that moment, to my surprise, she spit her piece out into her hand… intact.
“You shouldn’t have done that,” she said, her voice full of venom.
“Awh, I was so close. How did you know?
“I knew and pay back is a bitch,” she countered.
“Bring it on. I’m the best. I can’t be beat. You can never get me,” I bragged.
“I will and when I do I will be she who rules the house,” she demanded.
“Deal,” I said foolishly.
To my disappointment a month or so went by without a single mention. I assumed she had simply given up and forgot all about it. At least until… one night at around two in the morning she woke me up.
“Did you hear that?” she whispered harshly.
I tried to sit up, shaking off a deep sleep.
“There it is again. Did you hear it? Someone is in the house.”
I didn’t… I didn’t hear it at all. I strained as hard as I could and still heard nothing.
“Someone is in the house! I think they’re in the kid’s room,” she cried grasping my arm tightly.
Instantly, I was awake. Goosebumps rippled over my skin… I had heard nothing.
“There! Hear it?” she asked, more frightened than I had ever seen her.
I didn’t! I didn’t hear a thing.
“Go! Check on the kids, please,” she pleaded desperately.
I nodded my agreement without a word. My mind swirled with genuine concern. Slowly, I made my way in the dark to the hall toward the kid’s room. To my shock, standing in their door way, with his back against the frame… a man. He stood six foot two if he were an inch. My heart jumped into my throat. My body gave a quick shake of fear and all I could think was “Dear God, please don’t let him hurt me.”
I swallowed hard and then made my move. I lunged for the intruder grabbing him by the neck. We fell to the floor, fighting. I swung with all my power but he held my arms in place. I couldn’t move. I had no choice, panic over took me. I wrapped my hands around his throat and squeezed with all my might but he fought me fiercely. I began to beat his head against the floor to free his grip on me. My panic had now become anger and I was suddenly willing to kill to stop this madman.
Then the unthinkable… his skull gave way… pieces of him began to fly off in every direction.
“My God, I’ve killed him,” I gasped, releasing my grip, standing. I stared at my hands expecting them to be covered in blood and pieces of the man’s brains.
Only then did I realize his head was Styrofoam. Hanging from it a flowered sheet in which I had gotten tangled.
Now I was mad again.
I stomped back to our bedroom, mad as hell.
“Was anyone there?” my wife asked with a snicker.
I was too angry to speak….
I’m cured… all hail She who rules the house.
We stood, packed together like sardines, afraid to go down the stairs, afraid to be found out. I was last to enter so I stood closest to the door, holding it open an insignificant crack to see who it was that was about to catch us.
Movement caught my eye.
My heart jumped into my throat and I pushed back.
“Shit, it’s Carl,” I blurted softly, turning to Bob.
Almost instantly, Fred darted down the stairs ahead of Bob and me.
“Holy shit,” Fred said, slapping his hand over his mouth.
I was instantly angry at him. I was certain he had just given us away. As I rushed to him to shut him
Up, I bumped into Bob, who now stood frozen in place along side Fred.
Then the unbelievable… a voice… a woman’s voice, speaking in Russian, pierced the darkness.
As my eyes became more accustom to the faint light, pushing past Bob, I was jolted by the shocking image in front of me.
Sitting before us at a wide, wooden table, a woman… her hands, set in the middle of its broad width, sat in a puddle of blood.
To my astonishment, jutting up from the back of her hands were metal spikes… one in each hand… she had been nailed to the table.
“Peter, help me please,” she begged, lifting her head to look at me.
Her shoulders bent forward, her eyes pleaded with me, as her lips quivered. Her face had large purple bruises and a number of bleeding cuts.
I was stunned that she knew my name. There was an air of familiarity in her appearance, in the tone of her voice, in her expressive eyes but I was certain I had never seen her before in my life.
Before I could move, the sound of the door opening at the top of the stairs sent us scurrying for a place to hide.
We barely reached our hiding places before the light of a single bulb flooded the room. Carl’s heavy footsteps pounded over my head and I pushed deeper under the stairs.
“Miss me?” Carl’s voice menaced from mid-stair. An odd electrical, crackling sound followed his question.
Its clicking buzz grew louder with each step Carl took to the basement floor. As he reached the bottom, his back to me, he made the sound once more. In his hand, a small black device with two metal prods jutting out, an electric spark jumping between them… a tazer.
“You don’t have to do this,” the woman cried, pulling hard at the spikes that held her tight.
“Have to? Want to, girlie.” Carl chortled cruelly, sparking the device again.
The woman began to speak rapidly in Russian without taking her eyes off Carl as he approached, the crisp sound of the tazer’s spark echoing off the walls.
Then without warning, Fred leapt from his hiding, attacking Carl. He jumped on the man, shoving him backward, more out of surprise than by force.
Fred fought like a madman, punching Carl in the face and chest alike, all with little effect.
Carl, having regained himself, simply swung a huge arm knocking Fred to the floor. Bob immediately took his place, planting a solid blow to Carl’s jaw. The loud crack that followed shook me to the core but Carl just shrugged it off, barely taking notice.
Again, Bob delivered a crushing blow, knocking Carl off balance.
The bigger man returned the favor, punching Bob in the stomach, folding him in half and then hit him in the face, sending him into the table where the woman was attached.
Her scream filled the air, sending chills up my spine, as the table disintegrated under Bob’s weight.
My mind raced as I tried to decide what to do. I was looking for a spot to jump in between the two titans.
Suddenly, Fred reappeared from nowhere, lunging headlong, throwing himself at Carl with no self-regard. He was a lunatic, screaming, punching, scratching, biting all at the same time.
Carl brushed him away, striving to reach the woman scrambling on the floor, trying to get up.
No time like now. I jumped on his back, riding him like a child on his father’s back.
Somehow, she was free of the table but still impaled. She grabbed the spike in her left hand, pulling at it. Her skin stretched with the effort, clinging to the metal. Finally succeeding, she clutched it like a dagger. Getting to her feet, she lunged for Carl.
With shocking swiftness, she plunged the spike into his chest.
It was Carl’s turn to scream and he did… a howling snarl of a growl that curled my toes.
“You should have killed me when you had the chance,” the woman said through clenched teeth, trying to force the spike deeper with her weight.
“Fucking bitch,” Carl shouted, backhanding her, sending her to the floor again.
I was raised pretty much the same as everyone else… devoted mother, strict father and all the imaginary friends I could conjure. Not that I wasn’t friendly, I just wasn’t “people orientated”. Maybe I lived in my head way more than I should have, maybe not. I liked machines more than people, at least I did until I met my wife.
The first thing I can remember writing was for her. For the life of me I can’t remember what it was about… something about dust bunnies under the bed and monsters in my closet. It must have been pretty good because she married me shortly after that. I spent a good number of years after inventing games and prototypes for a variety of ideas before I got back to writing.
It wasn’t a deliberate conscious thought it was more of a stepping stone. My wife and I had joined a dream interpret group and we were encouraged to write down our dreams as they occurred. “Be as detailed as you can,” we were told.
I was thrilled. If there is one thing I enjoy it’s making people believe me and I like to exaggerate. Not a big exaggeration or an outright lie mine you, just a little step out of sync, just enough so you couldn’t be sure if it were true or not. When I write, I always write with the effort of “it could happen” very much in mind and nothing, I guarantee you, nothing, makes me happier.