Copyright © 2012 Peter Mark May
All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication
Outside the world was silent. The sand storms of the night before had obviously blown themselves out. Tom was drinking some apple juice out of the cartoon, when a loud crash came from his backyard. Cursing and dribbling juice down his stumble covered chin, he slammed the carton down on the kitchen counter. Wiping his chin with his forearm, he walked over to the back kitchen windows and pulled up the blinds.
He thought it might he the Jacobson’s dog from down the street, but to his surprise it was a large dark skinned guy in coveralls. The guy had his back to Tom and was routing through the garbage bins.
“What the hell?”
Tom jogged back to his bedroom and pulled on his pants and t-shirt from the previous day. He kicked on some shoes and made for the door that led into his garage. After picking up an old baseball ball that he and Tommy used sometimes on visits to the park, he opened the back door of his garage and raised the bat up beside his head.
“Hey, what the hell you doing, man?” he called. The man was rooting through his garbage, like a hobo who had been on hunger strike. The unkempt man seemed not to hear Tom and continued to root deeper down in the trash. Behind the intruder there seemed to be an orangey-brown mist covering the rear of his yard; probably a dusty remnant of the slept-through dust storm.
The smell of the guy wafted over, invading Tom’s nostrils, which flared with disgust. The trashcan hobo stunk like had crapped his coveralls and then cleaned them with six week old rotted meat and vegetables.
“Hey, numb-nuts, I’m talking to you,” Tom shouted and prodded the bat into the back of the man.
The guy jerked upwards like the bat was a 100 volt cattle prod and with spasmodic twitches of his elbows and broad shoulders turned to face Tom. Or he would have, if the man had a whole face. The left cheek was dark brown with a touch of grey to it, but the other was gone, with only cheek bones showing. His scalp on that side flapped slightly as he jerked and twitched and shuffled his large booted feet towards Tom.
“Jesus, you been in an accident or something?” Tom asked and stepped back.
The man raised his grubby hands and aiming them at Tom’s throat, lumbered closer. Revulsion and years of army training took over and Tom swung and hit the guy on the exposed bone of his cranium before he realized he was doing it. The guy’s lower jaw shattered, hung for a second and then fell to the dirt floor in two pieces. Something like brown snot shot out of the guy’s remaining nostril and down his front. He staggered for a second, and then, fixing Tom with his remaining milky covered brown eye, raised his hands once more.
Tom took another step back, planted his feet and swung like he was hitting a home run out of Soldier Field. This time the force of the impact on the guy’s head caused the bat to break, but not before knocking the guy’s head onto his right shoulder with a sickening crack. Tom, hands numb with shock, let the bat fall, as the man tottered two steps to the left. The side of his face was cracked open into an oozing mess of broken bone and the left eye socket was shattered, exposing the grey inner workings of his brain.
To Tom’s astonishment, the guy steadied himself in his big workman boots and advanced towards him again with silent menace. The guy’s scalp was now flapping up and down with every jerky movement like he was wearing a badly fitted toupee. Weaponless, Tom retreat back into his garage and shut and bolted it.
Not once had the man spoken, cried out in pain, or even grunted.
Tom was thinking about what to do next when two hands came punching through the mesh covered window panes in the rear garage door. The glass gouged deep cuts into the grey fingers of the attacker, the hands flailing about after Tom, who ducked out of reach. Then the arms bent down as if the guy was trying to find the lock, unimpeded by the injuries his arms were taking in the effort.
Once again old army training kicked in. Tom ran over to his cluttered workbench and ran his eyes over every tool, screwdriver and socket wrench there. Even the two hammers he owned seem wrong for the job at hand. The man began to tug at the screen and the thin wooden frames of the six now broken window panes.
Gulping down some rising bile in his throat, Tom finally grabbed something from a cobweb covered shelf. He raced back to the door as his attacker pulled aside enough mesh to reach in and get a grip the doorknob.
Tom had to avoid the man’s grayish lacerated hand as he plugged in the long unused power tool…