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Day #365: The Last Story

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The Story:

All Rachel wanted was a quick commute home and maybe a bubblebath. She knew she’d get neither and sighed audibly, causing the two men seated in front of her to throw snooty looks over their shoulders before returning their attention to the presentor on stage. “I’m not even supposed to be here,” she thought sulkily to herself before trying to concetrate on what the presenter was saying. But here she sat, three hours after her work day was supposed to have ended she had convinced herself to stay out of professional obligation, that and there had been no oportune time to slip out.

Allen waited for Rachel as long as he could. Finally looking at his watch and knowing he should have left at least five minutes ago, he cursed the Burger King toilet and his shallow jean’s pocket for their concerted sabatoge of his only method of contacting her. His cellphone may as well be a fishtank accessory now for all the good it did him after taking its recent suicide dive into the murky toilet water of the fast food eatery. It was no use- he had to leave. He only prayed she would see his note before she saw… them.

By the time Rachel arrived home, the house was dark and she was hungry. Those were really the only two sensations that registered after her marathon 13-hour day. Not worrying with the lights, Rachel kicked off her heels and hobbled across their tiny loft to the fridge. Peering inside and seeing nothing she wanted, Rachel settled on a bowl of cereal and after pouring a good amount into a bowl and adding some milk, she took her dinner to the couch where she collapsed unceremoniously. Staring straight ahead and not even really tasting the spoonfuls of vanilla almond granola, she wondered briefly, where Allen was. The thought only half formed, however, before Rachel gave up sustenance for sleep and curled up on the couch. She was fast asleep before the remaining cereal had time to go soggy.

Since leaving the house two hours ago, Allen couldn’t seem to shake the feeling that he had forgotten something. Hoping it was a residual feeling of being without his cellphone, he tried to rationalize the feeling away, but with little success. Later, as he passed a woman at the end of her break packing up her lunch bag, a wave of sickening foreboding washed over him as he saw her press the lid of her Tupperware securely in place. He had forgotten to seal one of the containers. Without thinking, Allen took off towards his car- he had to make it home before Rachel. God, he hoped he wasn’t too late.

Still asleep where she had collapsed on the couch, Rachel subconsciously brushed at something tickling her face. Suddenly, the darkness disappeared as seemingly every light in the house was simultaneously turned on, causing Rachel to wake with a start. Seeing that it was just Allen, Rachel went from groggily confused to seriously peeved and was just about to tell him off for waking her up when she noticed the expression on his face. It was as if he had seen a ghost.

Allen’s worst nightmare was staring back at him. He would have sworn it was a dream or some ridiculous scene from a cheesy horror flick if it hadn’t been his own girlfriend curiously returning his stare, not knowing apparently, the terror she was about to experience despite his best efforts to prevent it.

“Babe, don’t be scared, but I have to tell you something. I needed to bring two of the animals home from the rehab clinic to stay here overnight. One of their containers was not properly secured and…now, don’t make any sudden moments and stay as still as you can, because there is a trantula on your head,” Allen tried to move towards her slowly but quick enough he could hopefully remove the aracnid before Rachel reacted and threw the thing across the room as he fully expected her to do. He could tell by her lack of reaction that she was having trouble processing what he had just told her, and might even be contemplating the chance that he was playing some elaborate prank on her. He wished he was.

Rachel wondered if her boyfriend was losing his mind or just his sense of humor. Telling her there was a giant spider on her head? Man, he needed some new material or some sleep, either way, Rachel wasn’t buying his act. Then, she felt something move in her hair.

She had felt it move, Allen could tell by the dramatic shift in her expression. He knew he would only have a split second before she reached for the uninvited headwear and flung it as far away from her as possible. Just as he was sure he’d be spending the next half hour scraping trantula-sized splatter off of the wall, something unexpected happened. Rachel smiled. Then, with all the grace of a ballerina, she slowly arched her arm up and over her head and slowly lowered it before gingerly plucking the spider from her head.

Honey, you missed a leg.

Rachel was getting a kick out of the stunned look Allen couldn’t seem to recover from, thanks to her little stunt with the spider. Not wanting to continue his misery any longer, she shrugged her shoulders causally and said, “I got your note about bringing home these guys. You know, you really should be more careful securing their containers. When my dad brought me home my first trantula- his name was Percy by the way, the same thing happened to me and Percy almost met his maker when my mom accidently swept him into the dustbin while she was cleaning. Don’t you just love spiders?”

Mary Jane knows what I'm talkin about... Spidey love Fo-eva!

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The Not So Fantastic Reality:

The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:

ONE:      Today was a loooong day. Thirteen hour work day, to be exact. Tonight, from 6 to 9pm, our graduating physical therapy students presented their capstone projects and although I had every intention of ducking out early… the opportunity never presented itself. That’s ok, I was glad to lend my support to these guys after all their hardwork… I may just need a few naps tomorrow.

TWO:    There are not one, but two ginormous tarantulas sitting on my dining room table as we speak (or as I type… whatever, you get the idea). While seeing them here is no surprise, Andy was kind enough to give my plenty of warning, actually seeing them here, knowing that we are sharing the same air is wigging me out just a smidgeon. I, unlike Rachel from the story, am not exactly a huge fan of these critters and the notion that we will be spending the night (actually two nights) under the same roof is giving me the heebie jeebies.

***THIS IS IT! My last story! Can you believe it’s been a whole year????  I set a goal to write one work of fiction based on something that happened to me that day and by golly! I did it! What a rollercoaster this blogging journey has been. There’s so much I want to say, so I’ve decided to add two more posts, one tomorrow on the lessons I’ve learned thanks to this experience and one on my actual birthday (which is Friday… that whole leap year thing kinda screwed up my days!) about what my future plans are, with the blog and beyond. So stay tuned…

Love & Squirrels.

Day #311: Dental Denial

The Story:

Dennis couldn’t wait for tomorrow. For over a month now, he’d been looking forward to this day, like a kid counting down the days till Christmas; Dennis had meticulously ‘Xed’ out each day on the calendar leading up to tomorrow. And now, it was almost here. It had been too long since he remembered feeling like this, for a variety of reasons (also known as his newly divorced ex-wife) he’d gone for years without it- but that was about to change, and it was going to hurt.

It’s not that he ‘liked’ pain, exactly; I mean he wasn’t one of those sick freaks you see on the Internet asking fat women to sit on them or dudes to come over and punch them in the junk, nothing that weird. Dennis just… let’s see, what’s the right word?… he ‘appreciated’ being ‘put in his place’, shall we say. To be honest, it’s not all that uncommon, for a man with Dennis’ power and wealth to, every so often, seek out ways to feel like the rest of us do on a daily basis.

All the arrangements had been made months ago, all Dennis had to do was show up and the rest would be taken care of. Pouring three fingers of his best scotch into a cut-crystal glass, Dennis made his way to his study and leaning back in his overstuffed desk chair began to imagine all the different ways he would be made miserable tomorrow as he swirled the liquor in front of him. He’d be restrained, there was no doubt about that- that was one of his favorite parts. The lighting would be harsh, glaring. The temperature inside would be almost unbearably frigid, especially in the cotton slacks and polo shirt he planned on wearing for the occasion. Things would be shoved in his mouth, he’d be exposed repeatedly to dangerous elements, sharp menacing tools would be used to poke and prod at him in ways he could only imagine… it was almost more than one man could stand.

Something along these lines, perhaps?

Wishing he could go at this very moment he was so overcome with anticipation, Dennis settled back into his chair and tried to convince himself the anticipation was part of the experience. He’d just have to make do with his imagination until tomorrow came. “I bet I hear people screaming as they lead me down the halls,” He thought to himself with barely contained relish. “Then I’ll be put in a small little room and left to wait all alone for an indefinite amount of time. Then they’ll come in and force me to lay down. They’ll talk to each other using a language I can’t understand but its sharp and guttural sound will have my skin crawling as they are most definitely discussing my imminent torture. There will be strange machines in the room, all with the sole intent to rip me to shreds,” Dennis swallowed the last of his scotch and slammed the glass on the desk in excitement, “Hot damn! I just love going to the dentist!”

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The Not So Fantastic Reality:

The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:

ONE:      Today marks a milestone in my life. Today, I went to the dentist. Yeah, yeah, I know, big whoop right? Wrong. It is indeed a ‘big whoop’. You see, I hate the dentist… no, that isn’t exactly correct. What I hate is a bit more complex- I hate disappointing people. I hate disappointing people to such an extreme that my last dental visit was over 6 years ago because they made this mistake of telling me I had the teeth of a woman 15 years my senior. This comment, along with a pretty steady barrage of being told I didn’t floss enough, I was brushing wrong or I had another cavity that needed filling, etc. traumatized me to the extent that going back in six months, a year, two years, six years seemed masochistic. I know, I have ‘issues’. Let’s not focus on the negative, shall we? Good. The point is, I went. And, surprisingly it wasn’t that bad. In fact, it was rather pleasant. Everyone was extremely nice, I was allowed to wear my Ipod during the entire process (except for X-rays) and shocker, I had no cavities! Besides a minor freak out after the tech took my blood pressure and asked if I was nervous (um, yeah I was alright until you asked me that and now I’m totally freaking out because I think I’m dying since obviously my blood pressure is not normal which means my heart is going to explode at any minute…but no, I’m like, totally fine) I’m very proud of myself and how well I kept it together.

What do you mean, "Am I nervous"? Do I look nervous?!?!?

Love & Squirrels.

Day #223: Who’s That Knockin?

The Story:

The knock on the door jolted her from a semi-conscious state brought on by the dregs of a head cold and too much daytime TV. “Who on earth?” Tamera wondered to herself, still startled. Tamera was one of those private people who hated to be disturbed at home; the feeling wasn’t all that dissimilar to being barged in on while in the ladies room- in Tamera’s mind it was an acute sense of violation. To make matters worse, Tamera was in a particularly uncharacteristic state of dishevelment this morning, haven taken the day off sick from work. Usually impeccably dressed, today Tamera was dressed in nothing more than a ratty t-shirt, underwear and socks, her hair a rat’s nest thanks to a night of restless tossing and turning. At 10:26 in the morning, she had yet to even shower. Surrounded by used tissues and emptied ginger ale cans, Tamera felt as if she had been discovered in the midst of some unsavory act as the visitor knocked a second time, a bit louder than the first.

Having always harbored an inexplicable fear of answering the door (she suspected it traced back to a night in high school when she opened the door for the pizza delivery guy in her favorite pink feety pajamas with duckies only to come face-to-face with her high school crush, there to ask her to the prom… or so she assumed since all he ended up doing was laugh hysterically before leaving and never speaking to her again) Tamera was feeling the all-too familiar sense of terror creep into her chest, making the congestion had been battling for the last several days all the more unbearable. “Maybe if I just close my eyes and will them away, they will eventually go away,” she thought to herself. A third knock convinced her otherwise, it was like they knew she was there.

Sliding of the couch and suppressing the growing urge to cough, Tamera tip-toed through the living room and slinked past the front door and the awaiting intruder on the other side. Trying to sneak a look at who it might be, she silently entered the front room and peered through the blinds. Unable to catch a glimpse of her visitor from her vantage point, Tamera slowly let the blinds fall closed and considered her options. “Do I ignore them, and hope they go away? Or, do I throw on a robe and allow whoever this is to potentially disrupt the day of nothingness I was joyfully anticipating for today?” Letting her curiosity get the better of her, Tamera high-tailed it to her bedroom where she quickly pulled on her winter robe and tying it securely around her waist ran to the front door. Standing there, frozen in anxiety for a few seconds, she finally turned the deadlock and peeked through the opening.

“Tommy!” Tamera exclaimed as she flung the door open, her attempt to wrap her visitor in a bear hug temporarily postponed as a coughing fit overwhelmed her and she doubled over as the hacking racked her body. Wiping the tears of exertion from her eyes, she eventually stood up and smiled at the happy surprise that was her visitor. “When did you get home!” she squeaked and hugged her big brother long and hard, instantly forgetting that minutes ago she had wished him away.

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The Not So Fantastic Reality:

The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:

ONE:      I’m a hermit. I have always been a very private person, and when it comes to my home, I can be rather, eh… protective? Sure, we’ll go with protective. It’s not that I don’t like having people over, or entertaining, I just like LOTS of warning and plenty of time to prepare (the house and my state of mind) for any kind of visit. So, when someone knocks on my door, and I am not expecting them, I tend to freak out a little, which is what I did today. My immediate reaction to such an event is to instantly hide and hope that whoever it is will just give up and go away. And that is exactly what I was planning on doing today when someone began knocking at my door at 10:30 this morning. Having stayed home from work due to this stupid cold that won’t quit, I had a lovely day of sitting on the couch, drinking ginger ale and napping planned. And then, the knock. I would have just let them bang away all morning, if the knock was not also accompanied by a familiar voice. So, quickly racing to my room to throw on my robe, I returned and opened the door. And there he was, my little bro, James, visiting from California! We ended up spending the day together, just hanging out at my house mostly, and it was really nice to just chill with him- something I haven’t done in years. So for once, I’m very glad I answered my door.

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Me & James

Love & Squirrels.

Day #193: CUREious

The Story:

The stench of failure filled her nostrils and she threw the saucepan into the sink, its still-steaming gelatinous contents slopping out and spattering the stainless steel. It had been six weeks and Fiona was no closer to finding the solution than she had been at the start of all this. For years she had pondered the concept of finding a natural way to battle procrastination, an affliction she especially suffered from. After years of feeling like she had put life on hold Fiona had had enough. She would find a way to kick her nasty habit and science would be her answer. It had all seemed so simple then but over the weeks the complexity of finding a ‘cure’ had grown exponentially. As had her frustrations. Her last attempt, a combination of ginger root and Peruvian purple potatoes boiled to a slimy gel, had produced the same result as her last 23 tries- a mess.

“If chocolate can counteract the body’s reaction to fear, then there has to be a similar substance out there for procrastination,” Fiona said to herself for probably the fiftieth time. Leaving the mess in the kitchen, Fiona went into the living room and booted up her laptop. “Back to the drawing board,” she said as she began yet another search for medicinal, homeopathic, nutritional or ancient ideas for curing procrastination. She read into the wee hours of the night before finally falling asleep curled up on the couch, her face lit by an obscure forum conversation referencing the benefits of something called bartlenut.

“Fiona. Fiona wake up. Fiona!

Fiona started awake and looked around in a moment of confusion before her sleep-blurred eyes focused on her friend Tara leaning over her. “What, What’s going on,” she managed to say before slumping back on the couch, a sizable crick in her neck causing her to wince as she did.

Tara folder her arms in obvious annoyance. “You were supposed to pick me up this morning to go see that movie we were talking about. What the heck happened here last night?” Tara said as she looked at the upside down laptop on the floor and the disaster in the kitchen Fiona hadn’t bothered to clean up the previous night.

“Oh, I was eh… I was working on that project I was telling you about. Sorry Tara, we can still make the matinee, just give me 10 minutes and I’ll get dressed and we’ll go,” Fiona jumped up off the couch and ran to her bedroom to throw on some fresh clothes and brush her teeth.

On the way to the theater, Fiona absently rubbed her neck, still quite stiff thanks to her night spent on the couch, and considered where she might find bartlenut locally.

“You’re doing it again,” Tara said matter-of-factly.

“What?” Fiona looked over to Tara in the passenger seat and wondered what she was referring to.

“You’re thinking about that damned science experiment. You’re thinking about your crazy cure for procrastination, aren’t you?” Tara took Fiona’s silence as confirmation and continued. “I’ve been giving this a lot of thought, since you started on the obsession and can I give you my perspective?”

Fiona wasn’t sure what Tara could possibly have to say on the subject but her curiosity was perked. “Sure, I’d love to hear it” she said before returning her attention to the road.

“So the whole point of your experiments has been to find a ‘cure’ for procrastination, right?” Fiona nodded and Tara continued, “Well, it seems to me that you’ve found it”.

Fiona almost swerved into a curb. “What?!? What do you mean, I’ve found it? I’m no closer to an answer now as I was two months ago!” she almost shouted in exacerbation.

“Hear me out before you drive us into a ditch, will ya?” Tara almost laughed at poor Fiona’s histrionic reaction. She always did love a bit of drama. “So you want to cure procrastination, so you’ve been slaving away at finding this ‘cure’. Since you’re started on your ‘search’ have you put it off, even once?”

Fiona thought for a second but she knew the answer, she had lived and breathed for this project since starting it. “I guess not,” she admitted.

“Right, so in this humble ‘lay person’s’ opinion, the cure to procrastination seems to be passion. Pure and simple,” Tara said, quite pleased with herself.

Fiona gave this some thought. Could it really be that simple, and that complicated? The next few minutes were heady with contemplation. Tara was just beginning to feel a bit nervous, perhaps she had hurt Fiona’s feelings with her bold statement, when Fiona cracked a wide smile said fancifully, “If only I could figure out a way to capsulate this ‘passion’ thing you speak of. Now that would be something!”

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The Not So Fantastic Reality:

The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:

ONE:      I broke one of my most sacred rules tonight. DON’T WATCH SCARY MOVIES WHEN YOU ARE HOME ALONE. After watching a show all about hauntings and things that live under beds, I was legitimately creeped out. To make matters worse, our wolfdog Zorro was holed up somewhere in the dark backyard and I needed to close the back door so the demon-zombie-alien that was lurking just beyond the porch light could not come in. So, armed only with a leash I launched into the darkness in search for Zorro. Several things all happened at once in that next moment- a distant scream from somewhere in the darkness, the wind kicked up and menacingly rustled the treetops and the lights flickered in my neighbor’s house for a split second. I freaked. Running back towards the house I screamed for Zorro to come and bolted inside. Thankfully he followed a few seconds later and I promptly dead-bolted the door. Heart hammering in my throat, I could barely swallow thanks to the choking effect of full-on the fear. Without thinking, I mechanically began to make hot chocolate. Two minutes later as I was sipping the velvety goodness from my bright red ‘Sam’ mug and I was revived. I learned later tonight that chocolate is a natural combatant of the chemicals our body releases when we sense fear and is one of the best ways to alleviate that sense of dread. I thought that was pretty neat, especially since I had just experienced it’s calming effects only minutes ago. Wonder what else chocolate cures?

Love & Squirrels.

Day #192: Texting Terror

The Story:

“You’re out of your mind, Ashley. I’m sure it’s just a wrong number or something, chill out,” Robin said and shrugged her shoulders, hoping her best friend would believe she was as nonplussed as she appeared. Truth was Robin was freaked out. What had started as something benignly bizarre had deescalated to flat out alarming over the course of a few short hours.

Ashley tore her eyes away from the backlit screen of her Iphone and pierced Robin with a haunted expression. “Robbi, come on. Something is very wrong here. Someone is doing this on purpose,” Ashley replied in a hushed tone, her eyes darting sporadically around the darkened interior of Izzy’s Bar where the girls had been holed up for the last four hours.

“Let me look at them again, maybe it’s just Trevor messing with you or something,” Robin said as she reached out her hand for Ashley’s phone. Scrolling through to the last five photos sent via text, Robin prayed it was just Ashley’s waste of space ex-boyfriend and some ridiculous prank that somehow got out of hand… the alternative was too disturbing to consider.

Finding the first picture, Robin maximized the image and tried to find anything that might clue her in to its sender’s intention. All she could see was a set of old-fashioned hair curlers sitting on an old bedspread. Bizarre? Yes. But bizarre could be laughed off between the friends as the next round was ordered. Robin could handle bizarre. In the next picture, things started to get weird. Placed on a black backdrop, were five locks of pale blonde hair- the exact shade of Ashley’s, bound with sections of barbed wire. The third photo began the descent into the truly disturbing and Robin shuddered as she reexamined the pair of barber shears, the sharpened edges caked in clotted blood and viscera. It only got worse- the fourth picture was what appeared to be a newborn bird, not more than a few hours old, beheaded and positioned like a miniature thanksgiving turkey atop a set of playing cards, it’s head discarded nearby. As she stared into the poor thing’s pixelated blind eyes, Robin wondered again if the tiny bird was a robin and she couldn’t help but feel this macabre display was a personal attack. The final photo was the most unsettling. Sitting outside of the apartment Robin shared with Ashley, the apartment number clearly visible in the upper right corner of the photo, were two disrobed mannequins- one blonde, one raven-haired, and in their laps sat the remains of some slaughtered animal- its recently spilled blood cascading down the legs of its two silent spectators.

Robin tucked a strand of her bluish-black hair behind her ear nervously. Her façade of calm control was quickly unraveling as she forced herself to breathe normally. Turning the phone off, Robin turned to her terrified friend and decided it was time to stop acting so brave- and start being smart. “Come on, we’re going to the police,” Robin said and tossing back one last gulp of her hard cider, she helped Ashley out of the booth and they walked arm-in-arm to Ashley’s car.

An hour later, a very kind Officer Tate had offered them terrible coffee and made several copies of the disturbing images. Having received a brief synopsis of the events of their night, the officer looked at Ashley and asked, “Ms. Douglas, this may seem silly but bear with me. Did you ever contact the number to see who it might be or to ask what the pictures meant?”

The two girls stared unblinking at the officer before turning to each other wide-eyed, why hadn’t they thought of that?!? Admitting that they had not thought to reply to the morbid texts, the officer asked if he could have permission to text the sender from Ashley’s phone. Ashley nodded her agreement and after she unlocked her phone and opened the log of texts Officer Tate began to type a message. “I asked who this was and what the pictures were supposed to mean,” Tate said as he hit SEND. The three of them waited in anxious anticipation for what seemed like hours before Ashley’s phone chirped- indicating a new text message.

Looking at the girls, Officer Tate slowly reached for the phone and read the message and without looking up. “Do either of you know a Donald Russo?”

“Oh my God,” Ashley said as if the wind had just been knocked out of her. “That’s one of my co-workers’ husband,” she explained, now looking a little embarrassed, her cheeks beginning to flush. “He works for that TV show American Slashers, you know, the one about that family that’s haunted by a serial killers ghost?” Seeing that neither Robin or Officer Tate had heard of the show, Ashley continued, “Well anyway, he is the props guy for the show, I got to go on set once it was pretty cool… he’s responsible for creating all the crazy stuff for the show- I bet those are just props for an upcoming episode or something!”

Wanting to make sure that was all this was, Officer Tate called the number, and sure enough Donald answered and by the end of the conversation was profusely apologetic for the mix up, explaining the pictures were intended for his director. Sighing in relief, the girls thanked Officer Tate for his time and made their way out of the station. Hopping in the car, the girls were drained from the emotional toll of the night and were each secretly thankful the other didn’t feel like talking. With the exception of the radio quietly humming, the drive home was peacefully silent.

Just as they turned down the darkened street of their apartment complex, Robin broke the silence, “You know… there’s just one thing that still kinda bothers me about those pictures. Nah… never mind, I’m sure it’s nothing…”.

Ashley glanced at her friend, “What? What is it?” her voice betraying her exhaustion.

Hesitantly, Robin went on, a tremor working its way into her voice, “It’s just that… well, those manequinns… in the last picture, they were sitting in front of our apartment. I saw our unit number in the picture and I swore I could almost make out the potted mums your mom gave you last week sitting by the door. So, if those were just for props and Donald was just sending pictures to the director for approval, then why were those dummies sitting in front of our house?”

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The Not So Fantastic Reality:

The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:

ONE:      Man, that took a spooky turn, eh? So this whole thing was inspired by two mystery texts I received today. Around 5:15pm I receive two back-to-back pictures from an unknown number. When I opened the texts, this is what I saw:

Weird right? I didn’t know what to make of them, so in true Sam style, I made up a bunch of stories of what they might mean. Eventually, I did text the sender back, asking who they were and what the pics were all about. Ends up it was just a wrong number- oh well.

TWO:    Another spooky tidbit- before texting the unfamiliar number for an explanation I had already started writing the first two sentences of this story and had decided on the name Ashley for one of the girls’. Turns out my mystery texter just so happens to be called, you guessed it, Ashley. Crazy.

THREE:  I don’t know if it’s thanks to the season (only a few more days till Halloween!) or the fact that Andy has been working on back to back slasher/horror movies, but the genre has really worked its way into my repertoire. Hopefully tomorrow will be a bit more cheery.

Love & Squirrels.

Day #191: Fear of Sam

The Story:

“No that can’t be it, come on William, think!” William tapped the chewed-up end of his pen absently against the side of his head. Things were not going well in the land of William, and if he didn’t pass Dr. Tisdale’s exam with flying colors it could very well mean the end of his graduate education career. And, as these things tend to do, it all seemed to balance on his ability to answer this final question- Please define tinaphobia.

“What the hairy armpit is tinaphobia?!?!” William almost blurted out when he first read the question. Fifteen minutes passed. Fists buried in his temples, William could not, for the life of him, recall the slightest inkling as to what the term might mean. His classmates slowly began to finish their own exams and with a metal to Formica scrape, one by one they pushed back their chairs and left the class having safely depositing their completed exams with the fearsome exam proctor- Tina Diaz.

William allowed his mind to wander as he scrutinized Tina, and wondered what had caused the waifish woman to be so vile. Dressed in dowdy blacks and greys, Tina always looked as if someone had just run over her puppy and presented the broken carcass to her as a birthday gift. Her voice was more of a growl than anything and she could cause a grown man to cry with a single look from her piercing and bottomless slate grey eyes. As the accountant for the department it was rare to see Tina out from her cavernesque office but, from time to time, a faculty member would need a proctor for their exam and poof! Tina would appear from behind her stacks of projections and graph analysis eager for the job. No one was really sure why she so enthusiastically volunteered but then again, no one really cared.

The students all loathed Tina- some even feared her. William chuckled a little as he thought back to how terrified of the woman he had been as a first year grad student. During his first exam Tina accused him of trying to use his notes to cheat, which he was not, but the grilling he got left such a lasting impression he thought he’d never recover from it. Now, at the cusp of graduation (if he could only thing of the definition of tinaphobia!) he realized Tina just got a kick out of scaring students half to death and picked her victims at random.

Don't trust that smile... whatever you do, don't. trust. that. smile.

As he continued to stare at the woman, she swiveled in her seat and while itching her scalp with the gold letter opener she always seemed to carry, scanned the classroom, her eyes like laser beams. Quickly hunching over his exam before Tina’s stare could bore into his brain, William knew, if he was being honest with himself, he was still a little afraid of the deceivingly frail-looking terror.

“That’s it!” he thought to himself excitedly. Scribbling in his definition for the tinaphobia, William sat back and reread what he wrote. Content, he gathered his belongings and with eyes still averted from Tina’s stare, turned in his exam and briskly exited the room.

Two days later, William was patiently waiting outside of Dr. Tisdale’s office, he had been summoned for a meeting regarding the exam. Sweat was beginning to accumulate around William’s collar and by the time Dr. Tisdale invited him inside he was a nervous wreck.

“So William, overall you did very well on the final. I just had one question regarding an answer you submitted for one of the exam questions,” Dr. Tisdale said calmly as he looked over the exam William had submitted to Tina.

William tired not to panic as he quickly inventoried all the answers he had provided on the exam. Unable to come up with anything he thought would warrant a meeting with the professor, William could do nothing but sit quietly and wait.

“I just have to ask,” Dr. Tisdale said as he laid the exam down and with a smile looked over at William, “where on earth did you come up with your definition for tinaphobia?  I mean putting down the definition as the debilitating fear of Tina; I practically fell out of my chair laughing when I read that!

William breathed a sigh of relief and laughed. Shrugging his shoulders he replied a bit coyly, “Oh, nowhere in particular,” knowing full well the entire faculty was acutely aware of Tina’s reputation with the students.

“I gotta say William, I needed that laugh after a day of grading. In fact, I’m tempted to give you extra credit just for creativity alone,” Dr. Tisdale said still smiling.

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The Not So Fantastic Reality:

The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:

ONE:      So apparently every fall one of the instructors puts a question on their exam that asks students to define some medical term called Samaoshoehrokphobia (ok, so that’s not actually the term but the take away here is that it starts with Sam and ends with phobia) for extra credit. And every year (at least for the past three years) this question seems to prompt at least one student to define the term as- “the fear of Sam”. The instructor of the exam thinks this is quite humorous (and I tend to agree) and she makes it a point to tell me each time someone decides to include me in their answer… like today. Glad to see I’m making an impression on young minds (the joke is that I’m probably the last person they would be afraid of, I’m kind of a softy).

Then again, who WOULDN'T be intimidated by this?!? Sigh...

Love & Squirrels.

Day #173: Scout’s Horror

The Story:

 

I spot you

From over fifty yards away

There in your guise of innocence

You guard the entryway,

Picking off the weakest and the unsuspecting.

 

My throat closes up;

My hands begin to sweat;

I quell a tremor- I know I must approach,

But can I hope to pass unscathed?

 

Pacing sporadically,

Looking intently for your next victim

You don’t see me yet.

I search for the others- you always travel in packs;

I see them now, swarming on some poor soul, he never had a chance.

 

Head down

Eyes avoidant

I breeze past the first of their ranks undetected

Suppressing a cry of jubilation I press on.

 

The entrance is but a few feet away

Somehow their beady eyes and nimble legs

Have failed them- allowing me safe passage.

Out of nowhere, I see a flash of blue

Accosted suddenly by the leader of the motley crew

I wince in anticipation as he dodges in front of me,

 

“Would you like to buy some popcorn?”

 

pure evil...

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The Not So Fantastic Reality:

The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:

ONE:      OK, I’m probably gonna get a lot of crap for this one, so be it. Today, I decided to take advantage of the break in rain and get a few errands out of the way, first stopping at Walgreens to pick up a prescription and then on to my local Publix to stock up for the next week (and the impending flood since the rain is showing no signs of stopping for a few days). As I began to approach the Walgreens, my stomach dropped and I thought seriously about turning around and going through the drive-thru. But, by that time, they had spotted me. With their adorable scarfs and hats, there they were right by the door (that has to be a safety hazard, right?) just waiting for me to come closer. Cub Scouts… ugh. After smiling uncomfortably and avoiding eye contact, I all but sprinted inside saying “no thanks” and feeling like the scum on the bottom of scums’ shoe for not buying crappy popcorn. It’s not the Cub Scouts, per se, that I have a problem with, it’s anyone that sets up shop in front of a storefront and guilts unsuspecting shoppers into buying newspapers, cookies, popcorn, key chains or those rubber bracelets. It just really rubs me the wrong way. Say what you will, that I’m a misanthrope, curmudgeoned, grumpy etc., but is there something wrong with just wanting to patronize a store without having to worry about being hounded by a tableful of brightly dressed kids (and it’s always kids) trying to sell me crap? After escaping Walgreens, I drove a few blocks to Publix… and another table of Boy Scouts. I almost lost it. Having to say ‘no thanks’ to popcorn again, and feel like the worst human being alive again, I was ready to call it a day.

Dagnabit kids, what they need to do is get a job and stop askin for a handout... why, in my day...

Love & Squirrels.