Friday, January 18, 2008

Chapter 8: Lights, Part IV

Vernon rummaged around in the sacks and lined his lights up on the table. He pulled the first package of batteries out and wrestled with the package. When it refused to open, he walked to the other side of the kitchen and yanked drawer after drawer open, slamming each shut before moving on to the next. He finally found what he was looking for in a bottom drawer that hung up halfway. The scissors' bright orange plastic handles peeked out from the back. He reached for them, but in his haste knocked them out of sight. Growling, Vernon stuck his hand into the drawer and grabbed the scissors. He shuddered at what felt like a couple hundred caterpillars crawling across his skin and wrenched his hand out and up directly under the overhead light. He smiled grimly as the shadows withered and died. Too bad I can't do that with all of them. Looking at the cabinets, he scratched his chin. Wonder if Ethan would let me use glass doors.

Shaking his head, Vernon walked back to the table, sliced open several plastic packages and dumped batteries across the table. He unscrewed the flashlights and dropped D-cells inside before turning to the lanterns. When he was done, he had several unopened packages remaining, as well as close to a dozen loose rolling around the bottom of the sack. He left the bag on the table and, armed with two flashlights, started hunting through the house for a nice, stout place to tie down the rope.

He first stopped at the refrigerator, muttering to himself while he poked and pulled at the appliance from various angles. Finally, he shook his head and moved on. However heavy, he didn't want to trust their rescue to an icebox.

Though the back room wasn't really dark enough to require a flashlight, Vernon couldn't help a small thrill of satisfaction as the beam sliced through the shadows and sent them scurrying away. The feeling deepened as he flipped on the light. A quick look around the room soured his mood a bit, however. The only thing of any size in here was the blue hide-a-bed, and that seemed even less likely than the fridge. He turned on the bathroom light, but didn't even bother looking in there. What would he tie a rope to? The toilet?

He passed through both bedrooms with quick strides, agitation growing as he looked side to side without finding any suitable anchor points. Is there nothing in this house stable enough? He gave a sour grunt and flopped down in his recliner. Vernon stared out the still-open front door at the new porch. His eyes narrowed at the sight of the four-by-four posts that supported the roof. He slowly stood and walked across the floor to lean on the porch railing. He pounded and kicked the post nearest the steps. It thumped solidly. Nodding to himself, he turned back toward the door. In his mind, he was already tying the rope off. He paused just inside the house and pivoted on one heel. Solid as it was, that wooden column suddenly seemed a mere matchstick compared to the job he planned for it. Was it strong enough? Would it hold up to the force the night was sure to throw at them, or would it simply snap under the strain?

Shaking his head, Vernon punched the wall between door and window. He hissed at the pain blossoming in his fist. Not that the wall noticed, of course. Well, what did you think you were going to do? Knock the house down? He paused in sucking on bleeding knuckles. Maybe I can't find anything in the house strong enough, but what about the house itself? I'd like to see whatever's out there try to pull this old thing apart.

Vernon sidestepped to the closest window and drew the blinds up. The ancient lock squealed as he twisted it around. He placed both hands on the lower half and heaved. It wouldn't budge. Grunting, he cocked one leg back and pushed harder. He grimaced with the effort, but still the window refused to open. Panting, he straightened and looked around the window. Layers of peeling, white paint glued it to frame.


Part V coming Monday!

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