For those of you who are new: You are now reading an online serial pulp novel. If you didn’t start at the beginning, you may want to do so. Chapter 1:Â Down By The Bay. New chapters are posted on Fridays. This serial is the sequel to my first novel, Oasis.
Chapter 6 â€“ Stomping Grounds
It had all happened so fast, and it had all happened the wrong way. I couldn’t believe how naive I had been to think it would have gone smooth. I couldn’t believe how incredibly stupid and rude Jex had been. I couldn’t believe any of it. I started taking random turns and staying off the main roads.
I tried to convince myself that at least I had kept my word.
It wasn’t much consolation. The whole purpose in my visiting Jex had been defeated.
I couldn’t fight the empty feeling inside. Most of my friends had lived there in Oasis. Now they were gone. My apartment had been destroyed along with the rest of Oasis. I had no job, nothing to do, and no place to go. All I had in the whole world was a pack with a change of clothes, a wad of cash, and a Jeep.
What do I do now? Try to tell someone else? Who in the world would possibly believe me?
My story detailing the brain-dead virus-controlled zombies in Oasis would sound an awful lot like insanity to anybody with half a brain. Apparently not even a conspiracy freak like Alan Jex would listen to it. And even if I skipped all that, I’d still have to convince people that aliens are among us and just waiting for the right moment to take over everything.
Yeah, going with the “alien-only” story is going to be so much more believable.
What proof did I have anyway? The only proof I might have had was in that portfolio, and I never even bothered to open it and see what was inside. I wanted to kick myself.
Out of morbid curiosity and boiling anger, I flipped on the radio to Jex’s show so I could hear what else I should get mad at. I tuned the radio and heardâ€¦
I listened for thirty seconds.
I wondered what that could mean. Was he reading the letter in the portfolio?
No, it was probably a problem with the commercials or something. I turned it off and concentrated on getting thoroughly lost. It didn’t take long to get there.
The city had changed in the nine or so years I had been away. I mean, the old area around the Alamo would probably never change, but everything else was new improved, or broken down. Everything was different.
I just kept driving until things stopped looking just different than I remembered and instead started all looking the same as every city I’ve ever been to. And then I kept driving until everything was just a blur.
I only paid enough attention to avoid getting in a wreck.
A nice neighborhood went by the window and then a slum or two. I got on a freeway for a while, maybe half an hour or so, and got off again in some dinky suburb. Even with the driving, my mood was not improving much. I made a couple of random turns down side roads and eventually pulled up in front of a small, tired, pale yellow house.
It somehow looked familiar to me, but I was too mad and depressed and out of it to remember why.
Let me stop here for a second. I need to mention something. Sometimes people do things they can’t explain. When I used to work in the ER, at least once a week, someone, usually an adolescent male, would come in with an embarrassing self inflicted injury. Every single time I would ask the injured boy why he had done what he had done. Every time he would answer, “I don’t know.” I don’t know. I don’t know. Nobody remembers why they thought jumping off a roof or holding a lit firecracker was a good idea.
Once, a twenty-year-old guy came in with a fork sticking out of his arm. A fork. He claimed he had been eating and had freaked out when he noticed a spider crawling on his arm. I asked him why he thought it would be useful to stab it with his fork while it was still on his arm.
He said, “I don’t know.”
I then asked him why he hadn’t pulled the fork from his arm.
He had just shrugged and said, “I don’t know.”
I only mention this because if you asked me what could possibly have possessed me to do what I did next, I would only have one answer. “I don’t know.”
I got out of the Jeep and walked up to the front door. The house was looking increasingly familiar. How did I know this place? What was I expecting to see inside? I couldn’t be sure. All I knew is that I was utterly alone in the world and I was looking for something. The empty pit inside of me wouldn’t tell me straight what it was exactly I was looking for.
I knocked on the door.
What am I doing here? It’s the middle of the day, why should anyone even be home?
Footsteps approached from the other side of the door.
And then it hit me. I knew exactly where I was. I even knew why my subconscious had led me here.
The door swung inward.
A middle aged man stepped forward. Deep lines from years of hard living dug into his features. He was thin and just a hair shorter than me.
An uncontrollable fury shot up my legs and my body. I hated the man who stood before me. I clenched my jaw and my fist.
He recognized me and his eyes opened wide.
I swung my fist and put behind at least a decade’s worth of repressed anger. It connected with his face and made a satisfying “whump” sound.
The older man stumbled back and collapsed on the floor.
One punch. And he’s out cold.
My hand already ached. I looked down at it and then at the unconscious body on the floor,
The hatred disappeared. I couldn’t exactly say that I felt guilt over cold-cocking him, but the loathing that had washed over me was gone. The nurse inside me took over and said I’d better help him out. I stepped over him, checked his pulse, and went into the kitchen.
The Alan Jex show was playing on a little radio near the sink. Jex had found his voice again and was ranting up a storm.
I didn’t even want to know what he was talking about any more. I turned off the radio, then went through some drawers and found a clean towel. I filled it with some ice from the freezer and went back into the front room.
The man was starting to stir. He groaned and pushed himself up to sitting.
I handed him the improvised ice pack. “Put this on your face, Walter.”
He looked at me for a good minute before speaking. “I always knew someday you’d come home, son.”
Keep Reading! Chapter 7 is here.