"Span!! I need your help!!"
I called her after getting that text and we met up at our old elementary school. My sister was frantic. A friend of hers had recommended a professor as a job contact, but she couldn't remember his name. All she knew was that he worked here, so she'd texted me while I was at work begging me to drive 63 minutes east to help her out.
All she had by way of reaching him was a text message she'd received from the friend:
"Just find someone who wants to throw a posh party! She'll help u out!"
Why didn't she just ask the friend for clarification? I don't know, but she yelled at me when I asked. Thankfully the answer was simple. Another word for "party" was "bash". And someone at a "posh bash" wouldn't say "bash", they'd say it like "bawsh" (you know, cuz they're pretentious a-holes).
Miss Bosh was prettier than I rememebered and welcomed us warmly. She thought it was funny that my sister's friend sent her (read: US) on a random chase like this. So instead of just telling us where we needed to go, she gave us another clue. Up 'til then, I thought I liked Miss Bosh.
The prof in question used to study the brain. So she gave us the clue and told us to check out the list of teachers that was posted in the chapel foyer at the end of the building. My sister thanked her profusely. I smiled, but inside I was seething.
My sister was so desperate for the information she needed she carried on like nothing was amiss. Two things were bothering me. Why was everyone so doggone happy to give clues while my sister was looking for a JOB contact. In Michigan? All the gas money and time we (read: ME) were burning up to find one dude? This was silly and, therefore, pissing me off.
Also, why had the lights dimmed? Not much, but enough to notice. They dropped while we were talking to Miss Bosh. Mid-conversation they dipped briefly, then went back to normal. But as the conversation wound down they dipped and stayed. Span is wary of setups, and this was looking more like a setup by the second.
Maybe I was just paranoid though? I love my sister. And she wanted this job badly. So if she needed help I was glad to give it, no matter how eccentric its nature. Plus...I was kind of having fun figuring this stuff out too even though I'd never admit it.
The list of teachers was loooooong. Miss Bosh's clue said that the prof studied the brain so we had to remember that when we wanted to be free of our symptoms. Ten minutes of studying that dang list and discussing it got us nowhere. My sister finally relented to text her friend back to get more specific details when a name practically pimp-slapped me. Professor Alvin E. Vate.
I'm sure I looked just as dumbfounded she she did, but I had a hunch. I just had to work it out...
Miss Bosh didn't say he studied the mind. He studied the brain. So he investigated the physical properties inside the head. What do most people suffer from related to their brains? Headaches.
To cure headache symptoms, you take medicine. Tylenol. Bayer. Aleve. And another way to be free of your symptoms is to "alleviate" them. Hence, Professor Alvin E. Vate. Al-E-Vate. Alleviate.
I'm not sure tackling is an appropriate way to thank someone for helping you out with a hookup, but this was family so I wasn't gonna complain about the thanks I got. Even if i did have to pull out the trust inhaler from having the wind knocked out of me.
We joyfully walked back to Miss Bosh's office, laughing and carrying on about how smart we (read: ME) were. Miss Bosh was, of course, delighted that we (read: ME) figured it out. Professor Alvin E. Vate had an office in the basement and was usually there well past school hours.
Ok, enough is enough. If I had a spider sense for setups, it would be going off like a neighborhood full of 'em. Mentally I was at Defcon 5 and ready to jump all the way to Level 1 in a heartbeat. Job contact I had to drive 77.3 miles to help her find? Clues instead of straight info? Lights dimming? And did they just dim again on our way back to Miss Bosh's classroom??? But the lady herself was all lollipops and cupcakes and my sister was beaming with such happiness that I focused on chilling out. That is, until...
"Span, I'm kinda tired. Can you meet up with him for me and I'll come down in a minute after catching up with Miss Bosh?"
Yup. Setup. And my sister was involved. Perhaps unknowingly, but she was. And I was screwed. Miss Bosh pointed me in the direction of the main stairwell. Three hundred feet to the left of her classroom. Right.
I've seen enough horror flicks to know that the black guy either dies first or peaces his ass outta there. I was gunning for the latter. So as soon as I was out of sight of Miss Bosh's front door I bent over and re-tied my shoelaces. Double-knot. Then I hiked up my pants to dang near flood level and re-secured my belt so they wouldn't slip down and impede my stride as I, no doubt, would be booking for my life.
It was no surprise when the lights dimmed further. Not much. But enough to remind me that I was mired in bad juju. All the laughter and running noises I would normally hear in an elementary school quieted softly like someone was turning down their volume inside my head. Maybe it was the adrenaline reworking the sounds so my heartbeat overwhelmed everything else. Whatever it was, things were getting so dang spooky I was pretty sure "Professor Alvin E. Vate", that a-hole, wouldn't even have his name on the door at this point. Just a bloody axe or some crap. As it turned out, I'd never know.
I reached the main stairwell and had three choices. Go up, go outside the double-doors into the early evening, or go down. I'm paranoid, but I'm also a good brother on an investigation. So I went down. After one step the lights dropped entirely. I immediately ran upstairs. Why not outside? Because I'm too dang nice. I hadn't heard anymore noises while I was on the first floor so I wanted to check upstairs and make sure everyone was gone (or dead) up there too.
No response. I turned to head back downstairs and that's when I heard the chainsaw. All forty billion decibels of it. The sound filled my head like an inflating balloon inside my brain. I couldn't see where it was coming from, but I could hear the hell out of it. Taste the hell out of it. Smell the oily, gas-y hell out of it. Dang near feel the heat of hell IN it. But I had to run or that sound would swallow my mind whole.
Upstairs was no option since it was too dark and enclosed to see anything coming. I had to get out. What remaining light there was from outside slipped through the glass double-doors and illuminated him at the bottom of the stairs. Professor Alvin E. Vate. Al. He was an average looking guy except for the calm, crazy eyes he was focusing on my neck. And he was gonna alleviate my symptoms alright. Taking my head off with that chainsaw would make all my headaches go away.
He charged at me, taking two steps at a time. Dude must've had that wiry, farm-worker kinda strength to be doing that with a 30lb. chainsaw. Or psycho strength. Either way, I did the only thing I could. Jump.
He didn't expect that. Shux, I didn't either. But instead of taking some wild swing at me he merely watched with those calm, crazy eyes as I flew up and over his head, completed a 180 degree midair twist, and landed two steps from the bottom like a big, fat, delicate swan.
We observed each other briefly, partially in mutual admiration I'm sure. Then his crazy returned and my fear took over and he was chasing my ass outside. As he chased me through the parking lot I added everything up. This was not real life. Real life didn't work this way. Random clues for a job contact? Randomly dimming lights? Abject terror outta nowhere? This had to be a nightmare.
Outside of this world, I'd been having nightmares for the last few months. Crazy, horrific things that I'd been meaning to write down, but would forget immediately after woking up. And when left unaddressed, they hide themselves back in the deepest corners your mind only to come back in another form later to strip away your peaceful night's rest all over again. I was getting tired of going to bed tired and waking up exhausted, but I wasn't sure how to stop the nightmares. I guess I'd give it some more thought after I got this chainsaw-wielding nutsack off my back.
I stopped first. Al stopped second. The "it" in front of us blocked out what remained of the evening's light. "It" was massive. At least eight feet. Muscular. And pissed. What I could only imagine were fangs and claws faintly gleamed about its face and hands. And "it" was breathing. Loud enough to be heard over the chainsaw.
Confirmed. This was a nightmare.
If I'd been awake, I would have made messmess in my pantspants. But I was asleep. So I just stood there. Rooted to the ground in abject terror. But this was a nightmare. More specifically, a dream. And, supposedly, you can control dreams. So I could wake up and let this dream morph into something even more terrifically awful to ruin my sleep on some other weary night...or I could fight.
Mother******, it's on.
I turned to Al. He looked at "it", then looked at me. The calm-crazy crept back into his face and he charged. I took a half-step back to brace myself for the hit. He started swinging. All sorts of directions. Like he was chopping through invisible flies. There was no pattern to read, no design to trace. But I watched anyway. And listened. Al approached, but "it" did not. "It" just stood there. Breathing.
Al lunged. I reached out to grab the chainsaw...
with both hands...
and caught it. What neither of us expected was that my hands were made of steel. Sparks illuminated the night in all direction. Al pressed on, wrenching the chainsaw to and fro. I held it fast in front of me not sure what to do. I guess that was "it"'s trigger cuz it was coming for us (read: ME) like a track star, heavy footfalls cracking the parking lot's pavement with every step.
I could do this right or I could die, wake up, and live to suffer again. "It"'s muted howl was close enough I figured. I pulled on the chainsaw as I dove backwards onto the ground. "It" lunged for me, but instead ended up lopping off most of Al's face as the sparks illuminated the scene playing before me. Al's resistance died with him and the chainsaw easily drove through "it" as I passed between its legs.
Whatever had been inside "it" was now all over my lower half and a good measure of the parking lot. Al and "it" lay on the ground, having fallen upon one another as exhausted lovers, twitching in their death throws, blood steadily poured out of them. I watched. "Iit"'s twitching stopped first. Then Al's. Still I watched. I don't know how long time passes in a dream, but it was eternity before triumph took hold of my body. I threw my arms to the sky and howled into the night, mania creeping into my intellect as I stomped on the wetted flesh my fallen foes. When the adrenaline dumped out of my system I stood straight up, arms outstretched, leaned back, and let my body fall...
...And woke up. And wrote this.