Friday, October 9, 2015

Remnant of a story

Sometimes you are writing a story and then *poof*, there is no story. You thought there was a story when you were hitting the keyboard but all you ended up with is a scenario, an idea, a vague glimmer of an actual story.

"Where was I going with this..."

That happened to me just recently. Maybe I should go back and try rewriting it some day. Maybe there is a story in there and maybe it isn't worth digging for. Here is one that obviously needs a chapter sometime in between the two parts.



Donny placed his hand on the football, nestled in the grass in front of him. His teammates lined up on either side of him and Tommy was standing a few yards back waiting for the hike. The opposing team was from Turner Middle School, their cross-town rivals, they seemed impossibly large from this perspective.

There were stands on one side of the field and it was sparsely occupied. High schools games drew more of a crowd than middle school ones. The coach, assistants and volunteers mingled with the uniform children on the sideline. Donny had only briefly glanced at the sideline and something made him freeze up. A slightly familiar man in a suit and trench-coat at the front, standing was staring directly at Donny.

“I said hike! Donny! Are you listening?” Tommy yelled and Donny finally snapped the ball a bit wildly. Donny stood up to block Terence Smith, the Nose Tackle for Turner Middle School, but he was a bit late and was thrown to the side. Just a couple seconds later the whistle was blown, Tommy had been sacked.

“Donny, what happened? Pay attention!” Tommy told him as the officials spotted the ball eight yards back, making it second and eighteen at their own fourteen yard line. Not an auspicious start to the season, to say the least. All because some creepy guy in the stands gave him the willies. Donny looked back at the stands and the man was nowhere to be seen. Odd.

After Tommy called a new play, a simple slant route for Derek and Boris with both of them lining up to the right, Donny again set himself above the ball. The leather ball felt right under his grip, this was the position he had been born to play, it just was.

“Hut Hut!” Tommy called and Donny snapped it perfectly and then pushed Terence back to protect his quarterback. As the defense tried to get in front of the fast receivers, Tommy turned and tossed the ball to Harry who ran to the left side. Donny and the others on the offensive line had already moved to get between the defensive line and where Harris was headed.

Harris Dalton piked up the first down by reaching the thirty-five yard line. As they moved towards the new line of scrimmage, Donny glanced at he stands and there he was again. The strange man was staring at him. This time a ringing noise started up in Donny's left ear. He forgot all about the man and tapped his palm on the side of the helmet a few times.

Donny bowed over the football and put his hand on his, gripping it. The ringing noise was bothersome and he shook his head a few times. He only heard Tommy distantly but snapped the ball at he right time, but he did a bad job of it.

Tommy had to back up a few steps and reach up to snag the ball from the air. By that time, one of the outside linebackers had got around and into the backfield. Tommy tried to dump the ball off to Harry but it bounced off his hands and towards the line. Donny gave Terence a push and reached up to either catch or slap down the errant ricocheted pass.

Suddenly instead of ringing he heard someone yelling right in his ear, close enough to feel the breath through the ear hole in the helmet. “Donny! What are you doing, boy?!”

Donny stopped and looked around and the ball was snagged by Terence, giving Turner Middle School possession.

Donny took off his helmet as he jogged to the sideline, wanting to avoid the ire of his coach and throw his helmet at the ground. He scanned the stands for that strange man again but he saw nothing. That man had done it, somehow, although it seemed impossible. He knew better than believe it, but he could not fathom any other way.

When the coach called him over, Donny hung his head low.

“What was that?!” his coach asked, putting a hand on Donny's padded shoulder, “Were you even paying attention?”

“I'm sorry, I got distracted.” He said, which was true.

“I expect you to do better on the next possession. You know Rodney wants to go in, right?”

Donny nodded.

“Now drink something and get some rest.” The coach said pushing him away lightly.

Donny sat on the bench and sipped the lemon-lime drink. He occasionally glanced at the stands, but was afraid he would see that man again. Better than imagining him, Donny thought to himself.

The rest of the game went without a hitch and the Wilson Middle School Spartans defeated the Turner Middle School Wildcats by a score of 12-6. Neither team had anyone who could kick a field goal worth dirt.

Donny rode his bicycle home after the game because his house was only a few blocks away, His pads in his locker but the rest of the uniform needed to be washed. Even though it was getting dark, he wouldn't have trouble finding his way home.

As he walked in the front door he yelled, “Mom, we won!”

He could smell the Hamburger Helper on the stove as he dropped onto the couch and picked up the remote control. There was nothing good on, it didn't take long to check because they had no cable like some of the neighborhood families.

“Mom, is it almost done?” He asked, getting up and walking into the kitchen. It wasn't his mother, it was that strange man. He didn't have a trench-coat on but it was definitely the same man.

“Hello, Donny.” the man said in a deep voice, “I'm your uncle. Your mother is my sister and she needed me to come over and take care of you for a few days. I dropped by the school to see you play, I guess I jinxed that for you. I'm glad you won.”

“What happened to mom?” Donny asked, backing up to the doorway between the kitchen and living room. “Where is she?”

“She had to go to Oklahoma, because her father is dying. We had different dads.” The man explained, “My name is Thomas Mack. Your mom's legal name was Dorothy Mack until she got married. She never even had her own fathers name. Maybe she never wanted to be an Ivan.”

Donny had no idea what the man was talking about. He didn't know if the man was telling the truth or not. He looked at the phone hanging on the kitchen wall, cord dangling to the floor, and considered calling the police.

“I said I was your uncle. Hello, nice to meet you, have some manners.” The man said with a grin on one side of his face before he turned back to the frying pan. “I'm not much of a cook, but it's all prepackaged. Sit down, Donny, and let's eat.”

Donny kept his eyes on the stranger as he circled the kitchen and sat on the far side. The plates, cups were already set and some bread slices were sitting on a small plate in the center.

“How come I've never met or heard of you before?” Donny asked as the man put a plate of very normal looking meat, cheese and fat noodles. The man let out a short laugh.

“I'm sort of the black sheep of the family. The one nobody wants to talk about because they think I might be a bit crazy.” He told Donny while he shook some pepper onto his plate and picked up his fork to eat. “I've been away for years, fighting the Tallions. Almost nobody else on Earth even know these things exist but they keep trying to take over.”

The man was insane. Or maybe the man watched cartoons on Saturday mornings and thought they were real or something. “What is a Tallion?”

The man put his fork down and looked directly at Donny, “They are ether aliens or demons, but it's all semantics really. They are what they are, and they are definitely evil.”

Donny avoided looking at the man, instead he shoveled the food into his mouth and took a bite of bread and a drink of the soda.

“I'm done.” Donny announced, “I think there might be a show coming on I like.”

The man smirked again. “I have something you can watch.” He was holding a video cassette up in his left hand. Where had that come from?

“We don't have a VCR, yet.” Donny said.

“I brought one.” The man said and when Donny got up and went to look at the television there it was sitting on top. It hadn't been there before he came into the kitchen. He had looked through the channels and that thing had not been there.

Donny sat on the couch and grimaced as the man put the cassette tape into the box and closed it. Then he put the television on channel 2 and hit play. The man sat down in the love seat to watch Donny's reaction. “Is it a movie?” Donny asked, concerned that it might be something very different.

“It's a documentary. I recorded some of it myself.” he said as the static gave away to some blurry video without even any kind of introduction.

“We were high on a ridge looking down at the Tallion outpost in a valley in the desert of Harken IV when we took these images. You can see that hover vehicle moving across the surface and here we got some closer images of some of their warriors.” The man narrated the video footage.

Their heads looked a bit like hard-shelled bird beaks, while they had two arms and two legs their chest armor looked like something from a Roman empire movie.

“These graphics look a little cheesy.” Donny said.

“No, Donny. This is not a movie, this was really happening.” His uncle Thomas, or whoever he was said. Donny leaned back on the couch and crossed his arms, ready to play movie critic.

Then there was an explosion and some shooting and people on both sides falling over with blood on them. “What kind of weapon is that?” Donny asked.

“A laser weapon of some kind.” Uncle Thomas told him.

“Usually they show the laser bolts in movies.”

“Donny, in real life you can't really see a laser beam. Except maybe through a fog or smoke.” His uncle told him. “I have a lot to teach you, my nephew.”

“What do you mean?”

“Tallions have been getting closer and closer to Earth. You need to be prepared for them when they arrive, and I will teach you what you need to know.” His uncle said, the television was showing a group of Tallions taking a human prisoner and running him through with some sort of neon-looking blade. “They are coming, Donny. Earth needs people who can fight back.”


Don Mack Automotive was barely making ends meet in the never-ending recession. He leaned back in the chair and rubbed his eyes, trying to push his headache away. Everyone else had already gone home and he was planning to leave soon himself. If they didn't sell some vehicles soon, he might not be able to make payroll.

He checked the time on the gold watch his crazy uncle had given him. Must be past eight by now, he thought to himself. Instead of showing the time the face of the watch was showing a countdown, which was interesting since it wasn't digital.

Donny looked around. Why would a wristwatch be counting down? He thought about it for a good ten minutes before coming to one conclusions.

Tallions? The Tallions would be here in twelve hours? Donny left, locking the doors and gates carefully before driving his truck home. There was a chest in the attic he needed to retrieve if the Tallions were really coming. Maybe everything his uncle taught him was real and he would need that stuff after all.

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