A Puzzling Neighbor — Part 3

*This was my first story posted and I have yet to give it a thorough edit. Soon to come!

Glenn made it home just as the sun started to set. He couldn’t remember how long he had been driving for, or even why he needed to get home so fast. He thought that when he arrived at some town that he couldn’t remember the name of — which was one that might be close to his home — was the moment his mind fizzed like champagne, trapping his short-term memory in bubbles that dissipated with a joyous pop. The one constant vision that remained was that of his wife. He couldn’t remember if he it was true or not, but in the vision, a gorgeous women in a yellow sun dress was being chemically restrained – over and over by smothering liquid sedatives that oozed with suffocating viscosity from the end of a hollow-tipped needle. They were terrible, relentless images that he struggled to dismiss, and he began to question why he was now standing in his driveway, dwelling on something so horrendous.

“Why am I here anyways? Huh, I shouldn’t think of my wife like that. She’s gotta be fine,” he said to himself.

Glenn unlocked the front door, walking in to a home that he thought was his, never once minding the chuc-kunk-kunk noise from within. Vague recollections returned, hinting at what it was that he was suppose to be doing here. There is something I have to get in the dinning room… in the junk draw. I’m suppose to use it get into someplace…. The hammer. That’s it. Susan, she must be in that house. He walked around a thin, glass rectangular coffee table and through to the dinning room, and saw the old man shoveling a hole in the floor of the attached living room hallway.

Chuc-kunk-huc.

His shovel. That’s what was making that gross sound – but I can’t focus on that, I need to pay attention to why I am even in this house…. Three Elizabeth Street. Right. I have to get the hammer from that draw, then I can break into Three Elizabeth Street. Glenn brushed off the apparition as if it was nothing out of the ordinary, and continued to the dinning room. The rubber shaft of the framing-hammer was easily found among the miscellaneous household items, and he held it out, examining it from top to bottom.

“I’ll break a window, if I have to,” he said aloud to himself.

The man responded.

“That’s not very nice.”

His voice was dry, and shrill. When Glenn heard it, his mind began to process select events that progressively trickled into his mind like wasted water from a leaky faucet. Susan in the padded room. I have to get in that house across the street. There could be something in there that could help me. I pray to never lay eyes on that old man again. He looks like the man who is digging-up my carpet.

“How about a song, Glean?” Another chuc-kunk-kunk, then the ghostly intruder sang. “In the oubliette you go. Oh-so easy to get in, and so easy to get out. You just gotta for-get now, so, in the oubliette you go-oh.”

His hand released it’s grip on the hammer, and it hit the hardwood floor with a dull thud. Utter madness harnessed the loose reigns of Glenn’s fleeing sanity, steering his uncontrollable legs into the living room against his remaining logic’s persuasive rhetoric. Glenn stopped in front of the table, watching in stunned terror as the old man from Three Elizabeth Street pushed blood-soaked, three-dimensional puzzle pieces the size of melons from the hole with his metal spade. The sleeves of his white shirt were rolled-up and the collar was unbuttoned, as if he was trying to stay cool from an extended period of strenuous labor. The old man hushed his song to a hum, as one would normally do if they anticipated interruption, but still wanted to keep cadence of a catchy tune while remaining polite.

The phone rang. Twice. Then three times.

“You better get that. Could be about my Susie,” said the man, never once taking his eyes off of his work.

Chuc-kunk-kunk.

Glenn couldn’t break free to answer the old man’s recommendation before the voice mail clicked over. It was Michelle’s voice, speaking on his answering machine to a steady rhythm of chuc-kunk-kunk.

Glenn, hi, this Michelle Dunkirk, sorry to call right off, but there is an emergency,” the man looked to Glenn with a haunting I-told-you-so smirk. “We needed to administer a chemical restraint from the incident that we both saw earlier. After the medicine seemed to take hold, several staff attempted to assist her up and to her room… and that’s when she… she is missing, Glenn, I am so sorry. She eloped from the building, and we’re looking for her – we have everyone in the hospital looking for her. Glenn, if you’re there, please pick up. I’ll try again.”

Michelle Dunkirk ended there, and the man pushed a bloody, puzzle-shaped rock as large as a basketball from the hole with his spade, resting it on a blunt, protruding end that dripped with gelatinous, crimson matter. His shovel was tossed in the hole with a nonchalant gesture, and the old man began to uncurl his sleeves from the elbows, straightening the length of fabric as if he was about to meet someone proper.

“Guess I should take of for now. It’s a long walk from the hospital, and I’d hate to see my Susie running through the night without me. They’ll never find her. Like you said: Professionals with only good intentions. Anyways, take it easy.”

He waved goodbye as if he and Glenn were the best of friends, reuniting from years apart and now, leaving each other for what may be their last time seeing one another. A ripple, formed of cruel air, pulsed from the hallway as the man descended into the hole. When he was gone from Glenn’s view, the room crackled with a flash of light that forced him off of his feet and through the glass coffee table. A shard sliced through his jeans, cutting deep into his outside left hip. Glenn saw that his leg steadily bled, but a surge of maniacal adrenaline numbed his current sensation for pain. Whatever floodgates held back his short-term memory crumbled, releasing surges of precise thoughts and vivid images. He remembered what he needed to do.

“Susan. I know you’re in that house. I will find you.”

Glenn went back and grabbed the hammer off of the dinning room floor, and left his house, walking forward with insane fervor that was accepted with by his body with skeptical relief. A faint voice within advocated for the treatment of his cut, but his overwhelming madness squelched the voice. Three Elizabeth Street was within view, quiet and still as it had been that night of his last date walk, just as the neighborhood around him, now sadly watching along as he left a trail of blood behind, following close across the sidewalk, then the front yard, and up the front steps to the porch door. Glenn struck down with the bold, metal head, busting through a corner of screen that attached to the thin, wooden door frame. The wood splintered, then cracking apart from another set of strikes. He grabbed the porch door and tore it down with an unbalanced rage that nearly toppled him from the concrete stoop. He pushed it aside, stepping into the porch and to the locked front door.

“Open up in there!”

The claw end slammed into the sturdy door, over and over, quickly proving ineffective. He pulled on the closed windows to either side of the door, but they too were locked. Glenn reared back, holding the hammer in his right hand out to his side like a baseball bat, and swung inwards, striking the window. He utilized the recoil of the hammer, smacking harder and harder with each hit, until finally, the window broke. His arm never stopped moving forward, and Glenn acquired another gash from a jutting hunk of glass on his right forearm. A tranquil voice spoke within, requesting that he stop and seek medical attention with much haste, and once again, his burning insanity banished that thought from his mind.

His body was beginning to slow, his hand was drenched in blood, but he continued on, punching-out remnants of glass from the window frame. Once he felt there was plenty of space to squeeze through, Glenn tossed his hammer through the broken window, then stepped in with his left leg, ducking under the glass the best he could. It seemed that he was going to enter the home partially unscathed, but as he shifted his weight to pull his right leg over, he slipped into a jagged wedge of glass that sunk deep into a thin section of flesh that was between his crouch and lower-right butt-cheek. When he fell to the floor, the glass ripped away, leaving behind a gushing, meaty hole.

“Look at that, Susie – he broke our window. He said he would, but I didn’t believe him.”

It was the ghastly voice of the old man, trumpeting from every corner of the home. Glenn was able to look and see that he was alone in what he guessed was a living room or sitting area, and noticed that to his front, a fading light beckoned from a room at the end of a hallway. The madness was fading inside, now providing Glenn with strength that matched his level of fierce pain. He pushed himself up, fighting through as he rose to his feet, and lurched forward, favoring his right leg as he hobbled to the a wall of the hallway, which he now used as a flat surface to slide his tattered body across. The room was close, and the light grew brighter. Glenn was in the middle of the hallway, resting on a spot that felt like a closed door. The loss of blood was taking it’s toll, causing his eyes to droop heavily while the rest of his body was ready to call it a day. The voice of the old man roused him.

“You’ll never get to say goodbye to Susie if you snooze around. Get it together – we’re about to hop in.”

Weak steps brought him across the hallway and into the doorway of the room. A stuttering-light emitted from a dusty ceiling globe, illuminating a painting that was in the middle of the table. Glenn stumbled forward, catching himself by his stomach on the edge of the table, looking down at a painting of a gorgeous black-haired woman in a sun dress. It was Susan. Finer detail showed that she was standing in front of a modest, white colonial with a screened-in porch, and also, that it wasn’t actually a painting at all, but a completed jigsaw puzzle, glued and framed.

In the oubliette you go. Easy to get in and easy to get out, all you gotta do is forget now, so, in the oubliette you go.”

The voice was brooding, unidentifiable to any gender and tainted with many evil layers. It came from behind him. Glenn stood back on his left foot, pushing himself off the table and pivoting his stance around. Another painting hung on the wall. He shuffled his hemorrhaging body forward for a better look, noticing right off that it was another finished puzzle of Susan, but in this picture, she was being dragged by scabbed, disfigured hands into the bowels of a black pit.

“You coming to say goodbye or what? Trains leaving the station.”

From the hall, the voice of the old man called to him from the direction of another dull light – one that was not there before, and one that seemed to be waiting – as the pictures, as the man, as Three Elizabeth Street had been. Glenn continued forward, pulling himself into the hallway and ignoring the debilitating pain in his legs and arm as he carefully plotted his course. The dark spot on the hallway wall was now an open door, breathing light into the hallway with fading, shallow spurts. Glenn heard a familiar sound.

Chuc – kunk – kunk.

Chuc – huc – huc – kunk.

He stood at the top of the basement, looking downward at faint outlines of steps that seemed to turn half way into darkness.

“I am right here… I am… almost here… Susan.”

The wooden railing that was bolted into the wall of the stairwell seemed secure, and Glenn attempted to ease his left leg down first, so he could put his weight on it. It was successful, but he didn’t know what to do next. He was starting to forget what he was doing and began to question why he was covered in his own blood. But is it my blood? I don’t feel any pain at all, he thought to himself as he let go of the railing, putting all of his weight on his right leg in an effort to turn back.

His mind slipped before his body.

The stairs were much higher then Glenn could guess. First, his right leg collapsed under him, then, his hand failed to react to the fall quick enough, shooting-out much with a tardy effort to catch himself, when finally, his left cheek cushioned the bone shattering blow for the rest of Glenn, as his body crumpled down the stairs, off the narrow landing, and down the remaining two steps and onto the dirt floor below. Glenn was sprawled face first in a dreadful position.

Chuc – kunk – huc – huc – kunk.

A gorgeous woman stood beside a man who was digging a hole in the basement. She was wearing an elegant yellow sun dress and opened-toe shoes.

“Help… me….”

It was a guess that something was wrong, but Glenn’s head sung in absolute confusion as he tried to think of who that woman was in front of him, or why he was laying in a now wet patch of dirt. Blood poured from his wounds, turning the dry soil into a moist bed of crimson mud. Though he tried, Glenn couldn’t make out her face for the life of him when he tried to catch a glance. He had a gut feeling that he knew her from somewhere, but couldn’t quite grasp it. The man now placed the shovel on the ground, and bent down on his knees, reaching in to the hole. With both hands he removed a massive puzzle-shaped rock, tossing it off to the side of the dark basement with ease. A wonderful sequence of powerful lights, filled with stunning reds, oranges, and yellows danced from deep within the hole, showering the darkness with a magnificent finale. The man stood, and once more, threw the shovel down first before he began his descent, this time, followed closely behind by the gorgeous woman in the yellow sun dress. Her eyes caught Glenn’s just as she vanished from view, and she stopped, looking to him with pitiful eyes.

“Do you think we should take him? If it is as nice as you say in the oubliette, wouldn’t he enjoy it?” asked the woman.

“Someone has to stay back to feed the soil. Come now, Susie, best not be late.”

Glenn could only think that when he was feeling better from all of this – whatever it was – he wanted to track the gorgeous woman in the sundress down and ask her on a date.

© Copyright John Potts Jr 2016 – 2017

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