fodschwazzle: (Sandy hole)
The last happy day of Jeremy Finklers life smelled like toasted marshmallows, sand-filled beach towels, and stars obscured by bonfire smoke. Invited to celebrate the last year of high school, Jeremy bundled dozens of missed opportunities at dances on other moonlit nights into a bouquet clipped from his backyard; Tonight, he told himself, Ill let Heather know how I feel.

It was her night, her invite. After the bonfire started, however, Heather disappeared from the beach. Do you know where she went? Jeremy asked the pasty white Prom King who was aggressively shaking his pectoral muscles in the flickering fire light to the Wub wub of a dubstep song. The young man shrug-convulsed and started spinning. Jeremy walked up the dunes away from the water, following her flip-flop imprints in the dirt.

Jeremy imagined the cool air whipping through the grasses and her hair as their lips drew close, savoring the collapse of the silent space between them. Instead, Jeremy found her flip-flops flapping against the backseat window inside Johnson McDougals Honda Civic, with some bare-chested giant wildly gesticulating against nothing Jeremy could bear to witness.

Things fell apart.

Soon, Jeremy was halfway downtown, maniacally laughing about trivial things instead of confronting the years lost carefully examining the tread patterns of Heathers flip-flops.

At least I still have a wristwatch. Hah! At least I still have buttons on my shirt! Haha! Jeremy exclaimed, pausing to drunkenly caress the Hawaiian shirts zebra-stripe buttons. Suddenly, one popped off, hitting the pavement and rolling away.

Oh no! Oh no no no! Jeremy cried, chasing after it. A moment later, he had his foot on it. I have you now. I wont lose you! he whispered.

When he stood up, he realized that he was standing in front of a lifelong nexus of terror. Of all heebie-jeebie inducing businesses in town, few induced so many heebies or conjured so many jeebies as The Magic Shop: Costumes and Accessories.

At least I still have the Magic Slop! Jeremy laughed, hurrying inside. The place looked derelict, but it never managed to gather enough dust or cobwebs to cover the neon Open sign that flickered on at sundown andat least as far as anyone who had watched could discernnever turned off. From the front display cases, costumes were hung from hooks so that the eyeholes were just empty, spider filled voids. One French Maid outfit adorned a mildew-rotted mannequin that definitely moved if one looked at her long enough.

Appearances were deceiving, Jeremy decided, eyeing the lush velvet curtains that adorned all the walls of the room, the bright lights illuminating an assortment of strange display case items, and a ring of eight pedestals with one book on each that were set equal distances apart from each other.

Hello, can I help you, young sir? asked an incredibly tall man wearing an enormous, black hat. His face was complicated; in the shadow cast by his hat, it was hard to tell if his weathered skin carried tattoos. His face seemed to change shape the more Jeremy stared at it. He looked like a Native American, although he could have been Indian also. Then, at another glance, he was definitely just an older white man in a shady hat.

Nothing much, just browsing, Jeremy stammered, disconcerted by the shifting face and his own woes. What am I here for? he wondered, before shaking off the sensation.

The glass cases held items that would likely have been disturbing if Jeremy had actually known what they were. A curled greyish brown whorl, which probably came from a living creature, was sitting on a plate with pearl inlaid in its rim.

Cat gut, the odd clerk volunteered.

Tha-thanks, Jeremy meekly responded, moving away from the glass cases.

He started to examine the pedestals. How to Throw a Demon Dinner Party and The Big Book of Umbilical Cord Home Décor were not particularly interesting books. 99 Bottles of Virgin Blood on the Wall and The Ultimate Guide to Prancercise were also not likely to be of interest or use.

One book caught his eye, however. It featured a ghastly visage of a large reptiles jaw jutting out of the cover. The teeth felt sleek and slimy to the touch, while the tongue felt leathery and rough. It was titled The Dinonomicon.

Yes! Jeremy thought. He had loved dinosaurs ever since he was a little kid. The wonder of the creatures when the theme song to Jurassic Park played! The best trip ever taken by The Magic Schoolbus! The Land Before Time! Barney!

And yet, when the store clerk simply waved his hand and said the book was free, he forgot the illustrations of maimed dinosaur flesh, unpronounceable sea beasts, and all pretense of good sense as he walked out the door.

*****

Make eye contact with the creature, Jeremy read from the So You Want to be a Dinomancer chapter. You have only one chance to establish your dominance over the beast. If you fail to maintain eye contact, it will become hostile and attempt to consume you…”

Jeremy gulped. The book was serious in tone. In a worst case scenario, a real dinosaur might eat him. It would be a mistake to take it lightly.

Then Jeremy remembered the years spent idolizing Heather, all gone to waste. Jeremy needed to bury four years of overenthusiastically waving hello when Heather was really looking at someone behind him. Four years of becoming hyperaware of his breath anytime she was assigned to lab work beside him. Four years of pretending to like her vapid friends even as they harassed him. Jeremy knew he had the will to look a dinosaur in the eye, for all he had endured.

"Faciebam pterus vicum!" Jeremy roared, summoning the first dinosaur on the corner of Platte and Delway. Thwmp! it went, as it grabbed a hold of the light pole with immense red talons, screeched through a long, crooked beak, and took flight, tearing into the night sky.

"What? Wait!" Jeremy cried. "I need to look into your eyes!"

"Shraw!" the pterodactyl said, fading into the distance.

"Please don't eat me later," Jeremy softly begged.

Jeremy was somewhat concerned about the rogue pterodactyl, so he decided to summon other creatures to help deal with it.

Unfortunately, the triceratops had angry eyes like a hippo in a cage and Jeremy wet himself a bit as he ran into a Waffle House to escape. The triceratops tried to go after Jeremy, puncturing glass with its horns and generally having a hard time with the door before stampeding down Platte.

The velociraptor was created about half a block away and unceremoniously splattered against the grill of an oncoming semi-truck.

Jeremy opted to summon the stegosaurus rather than the T-Rex, for safety's sake. Although he managed to look the lizard in the eye, all he could get it to do was thrash trees with its flail-like tail and eat the fallen leaves.

Overall, the experiment was a huge failure. Jeremy no longer knew what he had hoped to achieve. Was it revenge? Did he want Heather dead?

"No," he said to himself. "I don't deserve to demand her for myself. I should say what I'm feeling, get it out of my system, and then go to college and forget this all happened."

Jeremy grudgingly trudged back to the beach. The sun was rising, and Heather was standing alone, waiting to watch the colors trickle into the distant horizon. The wind caught her skirt as it danced around her waist, making Jeremy almost cry at the lovely sight.

"Jeremy, where have you been?" she asked with a worried look.

"I thought you might not need me anymore, so I took a walk," he replied.

"What do you mean? I invited you, then I didn't see you at all. You were moody when you were here, and then you were gone."

"I saw your flip flop tracks in the sand, so I followed you to Johnson's car and saw you with him."

"What? Really? So that's where my flip flops went?" Heather asked. "Gross! If someone stole them just to do that, maybe I don't want them back."

Then she paused while Jeremy's relief and guilt at being so rash flooded through him.

"You know the imprint of my shoes in the sand?"

"Yes. All of them, I think," Jeremy nodded.

"You are such an idiot!" Heather laughed. "Just tell me that you love me. Try it and see what I say."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes."

"Shraw!" the pterodactyl said, swooping in from the clouds, catching Jeremy in its elongated beak, and dragging him into the sky.

*****

Sometimes, on the corner of Platte and Delway, one can still hear the scraping of claws against bone, the squawk of a bird that surpasses man's most fearsome dreams, and the agitated howl of a man whose skull was too thick to leave love and the damned dinosaurs alone.

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