Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Olen toted a small tray of generic-brand cheese crackers and diet Pepsi into the living room in anticipation of a movie he had waited four years to see. Slaloming his way through the TV listings, his eyes found the TV channel featuring the film. The man, who was an adherent to the principle of minimal distractions, reached into his pocket and turned off the volume on his phone. A moment after he found his comfortable, rounded-out spot on the sofa, he heard a muffled thump at his front door. He was more than a little amazed at his discovery as he stepped outside.

An arm was hanging over his doorway, fingers pointing down.

"What the he-" was all Olen could manage as it suddenly shot straight up and disappeared. He heard something scrape against the wall above the doorway as the thing vanished from his sixty-two year old vision.

 In detail, it had a flannel shirt sleeve (brown and red), and there was a wedding band. Something else he noticed was a continuous thumping sound on the roof. What sounded like footsteps turned out to be the sound of a body rolling off of the four-story roof and into the Pheran's shrubs next door.

Minus the arm.

What really froze Olen to his core was what happened next. Feeling something run across his foot, he jumped reflexively, thinking that a rat had found itself inside his home. It was, of course, an arm clad in flannel, complete with a wedding band and bite marks around what was once a complete bicep. About the time he heard the soon-to-be corpse gasp one more "help me", the arm scuttled across his living room floor, past the three year old Vizio TV and into some corner of his one-bedroom apartment. The semi-retired accountant felt as if he were going to vomit, but couldn't because a voice from the roof had captivated his attention with its maniacal laugh. The gravelly voice rose like thunder in Galveston, then faded away to a gurgling sound. Then more footsteps as something almost human leaped over the rain gutter and disappeared into the nighttime sky, its laughter fading.

Olen, unable to grasp the events which had unfolded with the span of less than a minute, felt himself drifting into the psychosis which he had insisted to his psychiatrist last Thursday he did not have. And he felt tremendous indecision as to whether to close the door to at least feel safe from whoever -whatever- was out there or keep it open in case he had to escape from the arm which was now making soft, scraping sounds somewhere in the cluttered back room. Working up every last bit of courage he could, the former Airborne soldier worked his way to the back of his home slowly, stopping at the top shelf of the closet to retrieve his .25 automatic. Olen knew that any shot he made would risk a potentially lethal ricochet; his ground floor apartment's floor consisted of carpet over concrete. He knew it was a risk he simply had to take, the scraping sound in his bedroom becoming suddenly mute as he entered.

Then, he saw something which made every hair on his back stand. The arm, having buried itself under a pile of dirty clothes, had left exposed its hand.

The index finger beckoned to him.

Slowly, deliberately -almost patiently, the finger continued its come-hither performance as Olen feared slipping into madness permanently. He continued firing round after round into the vile object while the cursed thing continued to beckon.

Olen made a snap decision to retreat into the relative safety of the living room. As he began to step backward, the hand stopped its beckoning and began crawling, dragging the bloody pulp of the arm clumsily behind it. The trail of blood and gore left on the carpet held his stare as he continued walking backward, pumping hopeless ammunition into an already-dead, yet very determined, arm. The poor bastard was caught, seemingly, between a doom awaiting him outside someplace, and inside, with this hideous, disgusting thing spelling out his mortality. Then, as unexpectedly as anything had occurred that evening, the knock on the door and its accompanying authoritative voice signaled a promise for an escape from the wretched things which he swore would give him nightmares for years.

A promise which proved short-lived as Olen opened his door to see the community's nighttime security guard snatched upward into the night, his screams growing fainter as they rose into the cloudy, moonless night. Internal organs rained down on the sidewalk in front of the building, screams now barely perceptible to an adrenaline-charged Olen. The arm, meanwhile, continued to beckon with its index finger. The man, now one heavy heartbeat away from a massive coronary, stumbled back inside. At least he could see the spectre before him, and that made him feel slightly less uncomfortable. Coughing the taste of iron from his esophagus, he confronted the arm with his remaining reserve of courage. "What do you want from me?!", screamed the middle-aged man to the continuously-beckoning arm.

Without warning the arm raced to Olen, gripping his wrist and yanking him from the sofa. Olen, now clad in the paleness of near-certain death, gasped for whatever air his lungs could scavenge. He was being led down the hallway and into the back room. The arm dragged itself over to the far wall, scaling itself up to the window.

Then, twisting the lock and opening the six carefully-cut panes of glass, it pointed to his window well. Olen, for want of any other options, struggled into the eight foot high enclosure. Surrounded on three sides by concrete block and on one by the window and tan-colored brick, the five foot seven man had no way to reach the handrail above him. As he turned to search for some means of escape, the thud behind him made it clear that he had been locked out of his own home. Worse, the arm was just inside, waiting -taunting- him to kick the window and climb back inside.

Olen saw the index finger shaking itself at him as the macabre view disappeared rapidly below.

The last thing he saw was his own index finger as it fell from his quickly-disintegrating arm, shaking as it raced toward the rain gutter of his apartment.

And with it, his shoulder, his right lung, his right kidney, and his liver, none of which provided fear or pain anymore. The rest of Olen also fell, his mind blissfully aware that his horror was over.

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