by Gerald Heyder

How much does the light brigade charge?

     It’s a quiet peaceful day as I stroll along 13th Street starting at Piedmont on my way toward Morgan Avenue two miles away. Upon lectures from my doctor to lose weight, I take this round-trip trek three days a week to appease his admonition about slimming down to increase my chances of keeping the Grim Reaper at bay. I am successful to some degree.

     Something very strange and peculiar is slowly taking place as I notice the horizon is changing. The azure sky is becoming an eerie crimson red and puffy white cumulus clouds are turning into an ominous surrealistic deathly shade of satanic purple. This unearthly panoramic skyscape is rapidly approaching the neighborhood I am in.  A horrific chill navigates the length of my spine.

     From nowhere a howling wind sweeps down through the area as minute metallic pellets begin pummeling and saturating everything in existence as far as my vision allows me to see. They sting like bees on a rampage. Quickly I take cover under a canopy protecting the main entrance of a fancy bar ‘n’ grill on the corner of 13th and Armory streets. I pinch myself to see if this is really happening. Ouch!

     Within no time at all people are emerging from buildings all along 13th Street to see for themselves this science fiction nightmare turned real. Just as quickly they retreat to avoid the stinging bees of which I was the previous victim.

     Opening the door of the establishment where I’m taking refuge, a woman inquires of me, “What in the world is happening around here, do you know?!”

     “Lady, I don’t know any more than you do. I am waiting for the shotgun rain to stop, if it ever does, and then I’ll be on my way!”

     “Good luck to you, sir. You’ll need it. I think we’ll all need it!” And then the door slams shut.

     “It was nice talking to you, Toots, for as long as it lasted,” I mutter to myself.

     Then it happens. All hell breaks loose all around.       

     Sporadically, buildings begin to explode into raging infernos. Why it’s occurring only Satan knows. Anyone inhabiting those structures must be charcoal-broiled burgers by now. The poor devils never knew the snake that bit them. Fortunately for me, the block I’m on is thus far unscathed, but for how long?! As the saying goes, I ain’t seen nothin’ yet, and that is coming to pass instantly!

     Springing up from Hell come monsters! Behemoth creatures emanating from the ruins of buildings burned to the ground. This isn’t Jurassic Park! These proliferations resemble Tyrannosauri, but they’re metallic and move mechanically. They seem to be Satan’s erector sets gone berserk in spades! They are beginning to move about and the ground trembles beneath every step. Fire akin to a flame thrower’s is escaping from apertures I am assuming to be a mouth.

     Now manhole covers in the street are popping open like corks on champagne bottles on New Year’s Eve. Rising up through the openings come slithering gigantic serpentlike creatures emitting sparks that glow like neon lights on the Vegas strip or marquees on Broadway. They seem to be endless in length, like a gallows rope hanging from the sky.

     It appears as though one of them is zeroing in on me. It’s eyeballing me like I’m lean cuisine and it hasn’t eaten in an eon or two. I better make like a bunny rabbit and hop away from here before that thing gets me. I move quickly but cautiously, hoping I don’t encounter one of its cousins lurking somewhere. Ye gods! Where can I go and what can I do to secape this monster movie set!?

     Thank God for small favors. The buckshot has ceased pouring down from the outer limits. People are appearing from out of Nowhere Land, making a mad dash from their vehicles in an attempt to vacate the area and head for safe sanctuary somewhere, anywhere away from here. Good luck, everyone. It’s every man for himself, to quote the old cliché.

     I hear screams as I witness a teenager being snatched up into the mouth of a mechanical T-Rex behemoth. The combination of fire in the hole and being sucked in deeper makes this poor young beggar an instantly barbecued sausage sliding down into the bowels of eternity. May God have mercy on his soul, because that erector set beast surely isn’t showing him any.

     I see a woman being turned into an instant feast by one of those serpent-like creatures that had me ticketed for a happy meal before. She was swallowed whole like a noodle being sucked into a vacuum cleaner on its way to oblivion. There’s mayhem and pandemonium as victims are being cornered, boxed in and devoured  like banquet goodies at a wedding. I’m beginning to go crazy wondering how I am going to survive.

     “Don’t give up. Have a positive attitude. A miracle will happen. Oh, Almighty, save me! I don’t want to die as fodder for one of those monsters. God, I’m talking to myself again like a babbling idiot. Oh well, they say there is nothing wrong with that so long as another voice doesn’t join the conversation. If that happens, then you’re in trouble. So far I’m not in trouble. I’d better shut up and think instead of talk!”

     Now I’m in trouble! I’m boxed in and one of those demons from hell is approaching me. It’s obvious that thing has only one thought on its mind, if it has a mind, and that thought is me. It’s getting closer and I can see menu dancing in its eyes, or sensors, or whatever those things are. I have nowhere to run, there is no escape. I’m feeling faint and everything is going black!

     Whew!!! I’m alive?! The nightmare is over as I realize I was only dreaming. I’m cold all over, like I was in a swimming pool instead of my bed that felt like my coffin before I woke up.

     My name is “Crazy” Joe Jersiac and the reason I have been labeled as such  is easy to understand. I tell people about the twilight zone dreams I have and they call me crazy. My cousin says I’m a kook, that I should go tell a shrink everything and drive him nuts. But I keep telling everybody, what if one of my dreams becomes reality some day, what then?! Thank God I don’t live anywhere on 13th Street. My address does have the number 13 in it. Oh, well, so be it.

     I guess it’s time to get up, wash up and eat breakfast rather than be breakfast in the nightmare I just had. First I’ll go take a look out the window and see what kind of weather appears to be in store for today. It seems unusually dark for this time of the morning. Maybe it’s my imagination after experiencing the Book of Revelations last night. I wish I would have read all the prophesies by Nostradamus in that book I have buried away in the attic. I wonder if there’s any in there remotely related to the horror epic I had a starring role in?!

     I gaze through the glass and become instantly petrified by what I see. The sky is blood red. Massive deep purple clouds accentuate the crimson expanse. Strewn about everywhere are those damn bee-stinging escapees from shotgun shells. Perhaps I should go back to bed, pull the covers over my head and talk to myself until I develop laryngitis. Maybe another voice will join in and tell me I’m so crazy that I’m more sane than everybody else.

     “Goobiddy, Goobiddy, Goobiddy, that’s all, folks!”