Darkness Gobbles


©2001 B Stearns


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This is a ripoff of the opening scene to ‘Darkness Gathers’. Took 5 minutes to write. I have plenty of good reasons to do this. 1) Thanksgiving 2) Steve really did work on a turkey ranch and 3) I was once stalked by turkeys. Really.
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He waded out of sleep slowly, the consciousness unwelcome.

 

He had heard something.

 

He rolled over in bed, blinking at the dim glow of his bedside clock, simultaneously realizing what time it was and that there was something wrong with the darkness around him. Three thirty, but not accompanied by the darkness that nearby LA afforded; not the twenty-four hour half light provided by a city with millions of people. It was utterly black outside, as if something had pulled an impenetrable curtain.

 

Then the scraping, again.  A scratching. A hint of…gobbling.

 

Like some sort of dreaded avian figure in his yard.  It was two days until Thanksgiving, and his time had come.

 

He sat up, throwing the covers back and rising. It knows I'm here, but hasn't caught my scent yet, he thought, then paused at the oddness of it. What the hell was he thinking? There was a stray dog, or other urban wildlife out there, something he'd shoo away before going back to sleep.

 

But he didn't want that either, did he? Not after the award-winning nightmares he'd been having, about the turkey ranch he’d had to work on once he realized his music career was going nowhere. The impossible, disjointed fairy tale starring a pack of mad, wild turkeys, fixing their evil black eyes on him, gobbling, running him to ground, pecking at him. He shook himself out of it yet again, knowing he had to be losing it, somehow. The scratching made a hollow, rough noise at the wall beneath the windows again, and he knew without beginning to understand how that he couldn't go near the window, because the thing – THE TURKEY! - would see him and there would be no escape.

 

Steve dressed hurriedly in the dark, (as he usually did, because that’s how bachelors dress), and moved into the hallway to do so, reflecting that he was too old to be acting the way he was, or contemplating escape from a bird. But he knew--knew--there was no mere bird. Even something human would have been welcome compared to what some part of him knew was out there. He had been waiting, in a way, leaving his shoes close to the bed and keeping clothes laid out in case he had to leave in a hurry.

 

What am I doing?

 

The last of his reason battled with the subconscious instinct that had awoken him in the first place. And lost.

 

He walked into the living room, pulling tennishoes on, and as he did, his bedroom window and the frame around it shattered as something huge smashed it inward.

 

He dove for the back door in sheer panic, running blindly through the kitchen, grateful that his eyes had adapted to the darkness. Something was quicker, though, hideously fast, failing to maneuver around the kitchen table as he did, smashing into it. There was a flapping of wings, a fluttering of feathers…

 

He scrabbled for one of the chairs, holding it in front of himself, gasping in panic. The half-light had returned to the windows, and the hellishly wattled thing rose above him, rising on meaty drumsticks. 

 

He groped in terror for the light switch, not wanting a better look at the thing but needing the light. He found the switch and flipped it on.

 

And there was the turkey. A giant tom, maybe even 50 pounds, bigger than anything on the farm had been. It fixed him with a beady stare, beak gaping.

 

Gobble,” it said menacingly.

 

Steve screamed like a little girl, hurling the chair at it. The turkey narrowly avoided the blow, fluttering back through to the diningroom.

 

“Gobble,” it said.

 

“FOR THE LOVE OF…GOD!” Steve shouted, narrowly avoiding the words ‘strange medicine’. “GET OUT! GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!”

 

The turkey cackled and gobbled, just out of reach of the light. He could hear its evil claws scraping against the hardwood in the diningroom.

 

Steve ran to the phone, dialing Jonathan’s number with frantic fingers.

 

Jon answered sleepily.

 

“Jon,” Steve said. “I need your help! I’m in terrible danger!”

 

“What is it?!” Jon cried. “Wraiths? The Lady? The namers?? What?”

 

“It’s…A TURKEY!” Steve shouted in abject terror.

 

There was a moment of silence. Then Jon laughed and hung up.

 

With a curse, Steve hit redial. “Goddamnit, I’m serious!! It’s here to kill me! Just listen!” He held the phone out toward the menacing darkness of the diningroom.

 

“Gobble,” the turkey said.

 

“See?” Steve said to Jon.

 

“My God,” Jon said. “I thought you were just having that nightmare again. I told you, all those times you taunted the turkeys in their crates…all that time you worked on that turkey ranch! I told you they would be back for you!”

 

“That doesn’t help me now, Jon!” Steve yelled. “What the hell do I do??”

 

“Get the baster!” Jon said. “Get the baster, and hold it at bay! Get the lacers, and – “

 

“Jon,” Steve said, “I’m a vegetarian. I don’t have all that stuff.”

 

“Oh,” Jon said. “Okay. Well, I’ll bring my baster over, and we’ll scare it off with that.”

 

“You live an hour away!” Steve shouted. “I can’t hold it off that long!”

 

“Oh well,” Jon said with a yawn. “Stay by the oven, it probably won’t go near there.” Then he hung up.

 

Steve sighed and hung up. “Damn.”

 

“Gobble,” the turkey said.

 

Steve tried to think of some Thanksgiving songs, and couldn’t. Christmas, Halloween, Easter, New Years….no Thanksgiving songs. So he hid over by the oven. “Go away!” he said. “I didn’t mean anything I said! It was my job to herd you around and build crates! You can’t hold it against me all these years later!”

 

There was a knock at the back door. Steve froze.

 

“Hello?” shouted a voice from the back porch.

 

It was his neighbor from down the road.

 

Steve opened the door. “Um…yeah, Bill?”

 

“Wondering if you’d seen a turkey,” Bill said. “We got a fresh one this year, we’re keeping it in the yard. Sonofabitch keeps getting out. Gonna eat him on Thursday, and I think he knows it.”

 

Steve saw his chance, then, to redeem himself for all the time he’d harassed the turkeys on his uncle’s ranch.

 

He blew it.

 

“It’s in there,” he said, pointing into the diningroom.

 

“Gobble!” the turkey said, sounding outraged.

 

“Dude, were you trying to haul off with my bird?” Bill said.

 

“Asshole,” Steve said, “I’m vegetarian.”

 

“Yeah, and you were born in 1954, too,” Bill said. “Gimme the turkey.”

 

“You’re welcome to it,” Steve said. “Damn thing came in the window. Lock it up.”

 

“I don’t know how to build a crate for it,” Bill said.

 

Steve sighed, and built a crate, and sent the neighbor and the turkey on their way, glad to be rid of both and grateful that he hadn’t fallen prey to the dreaded clutches of –

 

[editor: Steve…shut up and go back to bed already.]

 

“Um….alone?” Steve said.

 

[fade to black]

 

 

The End.

See….that wasn’t so bad….okay. It was.

Sorry.

 

 

::back::