Home > Uncategorized > Day Twenty-seven: Turnabout

Day Twenty-seven: Turnabout

Gene woke up dead. Total darkness, cold and close, with the sharp smell of preservatives in his nose. He reached up, and his hands immediately hit the hard satin-covered lid of the casket. He was dead. He had to be.

He started screaming.

Gene screamed forever, or as close to forever as he could figure. He screamed and cursed and begged for someone to let him out, to not be dead. When he stopped, his ears were ringing. He thought he could hear other voices, mumbling and whispering to him, and that turned his urge to scream into a need to sob.

He wanted to take a deep breath, but stopped himself. Small space. Air, small space.

Okay, he thought. Think. Something happened.

Well, obviously.

He had come home from work late, he knew that. Eckman had been riding his ass about.. about something. Something stupid and petty – that’s what Eckman does, find stupid and petty shit to complain about. Gene remembered that with no trouble.

He came home. Ten? Ten-thirty? Celeste was out, of course. Just the dog and her stupid-ass son. He was in front of the TV, playing one of those games that made him think he was in the army. My grandad woulda kicked his ass, Gene thought. He wondered if the high school had called again – they seemed to have Celeste’s number on speed dial.

There was nothing in the fridge. Nothing in the freezer. He pulled open a drawer and grabbed a Chinese menu. Delivery until 10:00, it said. “Hell,” Gene muttered. He shoved it back in the drawer and slammed it shut. The dog looked up from the bed by the kitchen table, wagged his tail once, and flopped back to sleep.

Out in the garage, Gene’s beer cooler was untouched. There were a few bottles of lukewarm Budweiser left. They’d have to do. He popped the top off one, took a long drink from it, and grabbed two more. If he couldn’t eat, he may as well sleep, and the first step to a good night’s sleep was right there in the cooler.

He flipped the switch in the den a few times, but the light didn’t come on. “It’s just one more goddamn thing,” he said, dropping down onto the sprung sofa in the pale light of the TV set. He watched Jay play through the game, effortlessly mowing down Taliban militants and blowing up bunkers. He didn’t speak, didn’t move at all, except his thumbs. Gene remembered his grandfather talking about the war, and hard as the old man was, he’d get a tremor in his voice when he talked about what he went through. This skinny kid didn’t know from war, Gene thought. He’d never know. ‘S a waste of time.

“You need to turn this shit off,” he drawled. “You ever gonna do your homework?”

Jay didn’t say anything. He shot a man in the throat.

Gene put the empty on the floor and twisted the cap off beer number two. “You hear me shithead? Turn this crap off!”

Jay kept playing, but he managed to free up one hand just long enough to flip his middle finger up and point it in Gene’s general direction.

“You little shit!” Gene levered himself off the couch, beer in hand, and stalked the two steps to the TV. He grabbed Jay’s controller out of his hands and threw it across the room, and then turned to the boy.

Jay had…. He had…

Gene’s memory went blank again. There was something there, scratching at his mind. Something terrible that he couldn’t quite place. And the voices around him seemed to be getting louder. He let his held breath go, and then vaguely wondered how long he had been holding it.

He tried again to remember what had happened after he grabbed Jay’s shoulder, when the blade of a shovel stabbed through the lid of the coffin, nearly at his throat. Gene shrieked, partly in terror and partly in exhilaration. Someone started chopping at the lid, and in moments several pairs of hands were ripping it apart. The air was cold and sweet as it flowed through the cracks and into the box, and Gene nearly wept.

The lid was thrown off, and then there was silence. Gene grabbed the sides of the box and sat up. The light seemed so bright. He glanced up – a full moon overhead. And three people silhouetted against it. Looking down at him.

“I can’t believe we had to come get you, fag,” the one in the middle said. “Most noobs manage to crawl out on their own. Three days, figured you weren’t up to it.” The others chuckled, and their laughs were cold. “Shoulda let you just lay there and starve.”

Gene knew the voice, and the memory of the living room started to crack and splinter. He stood up in his own grave.

Jay and two of his shiftless friends were standing on the pile of dirt that led to the coffin. They were smiling at him, and their smiles looked… wrong. Their eyes were shining in the shadows, and they didn’t slouch like they always did. They stood straight, staring down at him.

“Jay,” Gene whispered.

“Got it in one, old man,” Jay said. He reached down, grabbed Gene by the lapels of the only suit he’d ever owned, and threw him out of the grave. Gene flew fifty feet and hit an oak tree. He lay at the bottom of it and felt bones move when he did.

“Glad you’re here, step,” Jay said. He led his friends over. “It’s time we had ourselves a little talk, Genie.” Jay picked his stepfather up again. “About changes.” He pulled Gene close, and the rotting smell on his breath made Gene gag. Jay’s sharp and perfect teeth were veiled in blood, and his eyes gathered moonlight. Gene stammered and whimpered, but couldn’t make words come out.

Jay hit him, and Gene felt his jaw break. He dropped back to the ground with a groan. “We have a lot to do, step.” He gestured to his friends, who picked Gene up under his armpits. Black and shiny claws slid out from under Jay’s fingernails.

“And we have a long, long time to do it.”

  1. June 18, 2011 at 11:11 AM

    Those almost claustrophobic types of stories usually get me, but this stands up amongst the crowd. Haven’t enjoyed one as much since Stephen King’s a few years back. Thank you very much for sharing. Poke on twitter @wiswell – I’ll tweet it out.

  2. June 20, 2011 at 1:59 AM

    Nice turn regarding revenge in this one. He’s not a very sympathetic lead, but he doesn’t deserve this.

  3. henriettamaddox
    June 21, 2011 at 5:10 PM

    This was really good. Would like to see Jay and Gene in more stories. It really seems like they have unfinished business and an eternity to sort it out.

  1. May 28, 2012 at 10:54 AM

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