For the Indie Ink Writing Challenge this week, Kurt challenged me with "The earth died screaming while I lay dreaming of you. --Tom Waits"; I challenged Sarah Cass with "There's a beak in my sushi."
He closed the steel front door, slammed the locks into place, and yelled to the back of the house, "It looks like the Thompson's are gone!"
"Yes." He sat back in his recliner and started paging through the leaflets that were scattered on the front lawn. "Doomsday is Here--Do You Need Jesus Now?"; "Needleson's: Security Today So You'll Be Here Tomorrow"; "Elect George McGruber for Town Marshall: He's the One with the Guns."
Susie came out from the kitchen, wiping her hands on a ratty dishtowel. "There's just no telling these days, is there? Guess I won't be getting the Chipmunk Surprise recipe anytime soon."
"Oh, I don't know. Looked like the back of the house may still be intact. Once the fire dies down a little, we'll go over, scrounge up what we can. Perhaps the kitchen is mostly intact?"
"My little optimist!" Susie seemed to brighten at the thought, however, a small smile creeping up at the corners of her perfectly made-up lips. "At least we know what all the noise was last night."
"I told them they should have installed those alarms." Fred tossed the fliers into the burn bucket by the old stone fireplace, then got up from the recliner.
"You men and your alarms," she smiled at him. "I'll take old Rusty over flashing lights and screaming sirens any day. By the way, has he been out yet?"
"Hmm? No, darling. Wasn't he just out yesterday?"
She heaved a sigh, the type that says "I know that you know that I know you were going to say that," and she spun around, heading back toward the kitchen. "I'll let him out. Though I will need you to run out to see if you can find some food."
"I'm on it, darling."
Susie finished rinsing the few dishes left on the counter, then picked up the plastic orange bucket and carried it toward the basement door. Placing it down gently, she took off her "Hello! Kitty" apron and hung it on the peg just so, then reached up to the shelf above and pulled down the revolver. Checking to make sure it was loaded, she stuck it in the waistband of her dress. Unlocking the door to the cellar, she picked up the bucket and started descending the stairs.
"Rusty? You awake, boy?"
As she reached the bottom, she flipped a few switches, shedding a pale sickly light upon the concrete floors and walls. Through the gloomy light, meager even through the gaps in the metal black bars that halved the basement, she could make out the hulking body in the corner on the other side.
"Rusty? Darling, I brought you some fresh water. Are you thirsty? I know it hasn't rained in a few days."
She saw the shape lift its head, and knew she had its attention. "Now you remember what happened last time, don't you? So you stay there, behaving just as you are now, and I'll pour the water into your dish, okay?" She kept her eyes on it for another few seconds, fingers unconsciously caressing the gun at her waistband. Satisfied it wouldn't be moving, she approached the bars, finally spying the water bowl in the opposite corner. After one more glance at the shadow, she tipped the dirty dishwater from the orange bucket through the bars. Some missed, but she was satisfied when the bowl reached the half-full point.
"Now Rusty, darling, try to make this last, all right? You know the longer we don't have rain--"
A loud roar, and almost before she knew it, the creature was across the basement, dirty clawed fingers reaching through the bars, trying to grab at her blouse. Luckily she had been paying attention, and as she jumped back from the bars, she only felt the breeze the hands made, the air wafting softly on her cheeks.
"Rusty! I'm ashamed of you! I was going to open the door so you could run around the yard, too!" She pulled the gun from her waistband, aimed, and fired a shot toward its feet.
"Yooooowwwwwwllllllll!" it screamed, collapsing to the floor, spilling the half-full bowl of water in the process.
"Tsk! Rusty! Didn't you hear me? Now what will you drink?" Giving one last shake of her head, she flipped off the switches, blanketing the cellar once more in darkness. Rusty's silent weeping following her up the stairs until she slammed the door closed.
She turned to see Fred standing in the hall, a look of alarm plastered across his face.
"It's Rusty. He spilled the only bit of water I could spare him. I swear, you may need to pick up another soon. He's a great crime deterrent, but sometimes--sometimes I think a good old-fashioned Doberman can't be beat. That's the third time this week he's tried to get at me through the bars! He may be too feral to train!"
"I'm sure it's just all the excitement from last night," Fred said, pulling her into a hug. "What with the neighbors house being set on fire, the giant cats prowling just outside the fences all night long--it can drive anyone a bit mad, you know."
"Maybe you're right," she sighed into his shoulder. "It's just... I don't know."
"Shh. I know, dear, I know." He kept her embraced a moment longer, then pulled her back to arms' length. "You know what I'm going to do for you today?"
She gave him a quizzical smile.
"Not only will I find the last can of coffee in the greater tri-state area, but I will get you two--yes, now hush--TWO new Rustys! Just the other day Dan down the street was telling me a whole pocket of the things were found under the bridge of old Interstate 95! As he's going down there today to get one, I'll just tag along and get us a few!"
"Oh, really? That sounds lovely, dear, but I'm not sure we need two Rustys... I mean, we need to feed and water them... Two seems like a bit much..." She trailed off.
"Nothing is too god for my Susie." He lifted her chin, forcing her eyes to stare deeply into his. "You hear me, dear. Nothing is too good for you."
He stepped out into the hall, grabbed a few guns and some other miscellaneous weapons that were sitting on the bench, then turned to face her once more. "The world may be dying, honey, but you and me?" He smiled that dazzling smile that she had fallen in love with so many years before, before marriage, before Armageddon, before... Well, before a lot.
"I love you," she said, tearing up quite suddenly.
"And I love you." He slid back the bolts and bars and opened the steel front door with an ease that belied his years. "See you soon."
He turned, and as he began closing the front door behind him, there was an explosion of light and fire...
Previous Challenges I have answered:
- [Week 1: All of Me]
- [Week 2: Child's End]
- [Week 3: Seeking Bonds]
- [Week 4: Just So You Know]
- [Week 5: Justice & Mercy]
- [Week 6: Tale of a Fateful Flick]
- [Week 7: Hell or High Water]
- [Week 8: Streaming Summer]
- [Week 9: Piss & Vinegar]
- [Week 10: Set It Free]
- [Week 11: Four Horsemen, Three Gods, a Transgendered Devil, and Lazarus Under a Pear Tree...]
- [Week 12: Worth a Thousand Words...]
- [Week 13: On the Down...]
- [Week 14: Hey Mister, Can You Spare Some Love?]
- [Week 15: Forever Is...]
- [Week 16: Death of a Betsy...]
- [Week 17: Big Bad]
- [Week 18: Coffee: Hot, Black, & Strong]
- [Week 19: The Queen's Confession]
- [Week 20: The Witch of Picassoid]
- [Week 21: Me, Mouse-self and I...]
- [Week 22: "O, Great Genie..."]
- [Week 23: A Funeral for Sven]
- [Week 24: Priceless]
- [Week 25: Empty]