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R David Fulcher

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Member Since: Dec, 2001

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Books by R David Fulcher


A young boy struck by lightning is given power over electricity.

 


Ironically, the battle was being fought in a cemetery.

     Bodies were scattered among the tombstones, goblins impaled on

lances and knights with bloody, club-smashed faces.  Only the

Generals remained.

     They stood at opposite ends of the field, the dark Wizard and

the majestic Unicorn, like outlaws in Dodge City.  The Wizard threw

back the hood of his cloak, revealing green eyes that blazed with

magic.  The Unicorn bowed his thick mane, his horn pulsating a

myriad of colors.  The time had come.

     The Wizard raised his twisted staff and fired a bolt of

lightning at the Unicorn.  The Unicorn leapt gracefully aside, but

the shot was well placed.  It seared the creature's hindquarters

leaving a dark, jagged scar.

     The Unicorn wailed in harsh discord.  The Wizard moved in

confidently, and the creature barely managed to drag its legs

behind a large headstone before the Wizard fired again, scorching

the earth where its legs had been.  The Wizard stumbled over the

sea of corpses as he rushed forward, firing along the way to

shatter the tombstones which protected the Unicorn.

     Suddenly a joyful trumpet blast sounded, and Charlie gasped in

disbelief as a knight appeared on the right side of the screen.

Charlie slammed the joystick to the right in time to meet the

knight's lance in the chest.  The Wizard collapsed, and his body

turned to dust as an annoying little tune began playing accompanied

by the message, "Once again, good triumphs over evil..."  Finally

it ended and the PLAY AGAIN? prompt appeared in the middle of the

screen.  Charlie felt like crying.

     Charlie Fielder had always known he was a loser.  While other

boys in grade school had been outside shooting hoops he had been

diligently completing his first computer program; a random number

generator which asked the user to guess the selected string of

digits.  In high school he spent the majority of his time studying

or playing chess while everybody else was learning how to french

kiss or sneaking into R-rated movies.

     "Son, you okay?"

     Charlie had been so lost in his thoughts he hadn't even

realized the game was still awaiting his response to the PLAY

AGAIN? prompt.  Charlie reached out and hit the "N" key.

     "Is there something you want to talk about, son?"

     Charlie wheeled around in his swivel chair to face his father.

     "No, Dad.  I was just thinking."  His father reminded him of

Ward Cleaver in his plaid pajamas.

     "Always glad to hear that," said Mr. Fielder grinning,

"Goodnight, son."

     "Goodnight, Dad."  Charlie's father closed the door and

Charlie wheeled back around in his chair to face the computer.  The

DOS prompt flashed rhythmically in the corner of the screen.

     Charlie flipped the switch on the back of the machine and left

the room.  Static electricity crackled eerily in the darkness as

the fan slowed to a stop.





     The second greatest storm Pikesville, Pennsylvania had ever

seen unleashed its full fury that night around 2:00 A.M.

     Johnny Mills grinned to himself as he sped over the slick

asphalt.  His clothes smelled like beer and cigarettes.

          Johnny wasn't thinking about the storm or about the way

his tires slid across the road every so often.  He was thinking

about Dorene, replaying every delicious moment of their coupling.

She was like a gymnast tonight, thought Johnny to himself, a

friggin' gymnast!

     For the first time that night Johnny thought of his wife.  It

would probably be the same old scene.   A lot of screaming on her

part, perhaps a few blows (most likely from her), and then Johnny

would calm her down with a pack of lies about playing poker with

the boys or going down to Sam's for a few beers.

     Johnny laughed as he envisioned his wife waiting for him on

the porch with a rolling pin and a facial mud pack.  He was still

laughing hysterically when his car slid off of the road.





     Charlie had a dream that night.  He dreamed of electricity, of

travelling through an endless labyrinth of wires which were as

large as subway tubes.  As he flew through the corridors he grew

stronger.  He was being fed like a river with a thousand sources,

and each source heightened his malevolence.  Each source heightened

his need to kill.

     He knew the entities which followed him like children chasing

a fire truck.  They were hundreds of squirrels.  They were flocks

of birds.  And one was a man named Bill McGee.  The man had died in

the great storm of '78, struck down by a loose wire.  All had died

by electrocution.

     Some, like Bill McGee, had waited for nearly thirteen years to

free their souls from the TV sets and circuit boxes which contained

them.  Finally, another great storm had come.  They were free.  And

they were pissed.





     Johnny woke up to a horrible blaring noise.  At first he

thought it was in his head, and then he realized his face was on

the horn.  He tasted blood on his lips.  His nose throbbed like a

primal drum beat.  Christ, thought Johnny, the old lady is going to

love this.

     He climbed out of the car slowly and inspected the damage.

His front end was bent in towards the middle where he had hit a

tree.  His headlights had apparently remained on while he had been

unconscious.  They were jammed in position.  Johnny shook his head

despairingly and began to climb the grassy embankment.

     Johnny quickly looked down Sweet Creek Road.  A lonely

streetlight stood fifty yards down the road.  It seemed as if

Johnny could hear its bulb humming from where he was standing.

     Something was horribly wrong.  Johnny couldn't place it, but

it had something to do with the air.  The air was charged.  It was

like the protons or neutrons or whatever they were were in a state

of hyperactivity.

     Then Johnny heard it, an irregular popping and crackling from

above.  The last time Johnny had heard something like it was

thirteen years ago.  His mother had been driving him home from

soccer practice.  He remembered the rain slamming down onto the

roof of the station wagon like the fists of God, and his throbbing

shin which had been kicked by Tommy Nickolson during practice.

Flares had been set up on the roadway, and a policeman directed the

traffic around a loose wire which snapped and jerked like a viper.

Several feet away from the policeman had been something on the

ground covered by a raincoat.  His mother told him to look away,

but it was too late.  Johnny had already seen the two feet sticking

out from underneath the raincoat.

     A distinctive crack pulled Johnny out of the memory.  He spun

his head upwards as the wire broke free.   He was mesmerized by

what he saw at the wire's end.  First it was a squirrel's head with

pulsating red eyes.  Then it was a crow with a velvety black head

and sharp yellow beak.  Then he saw the face of a man with black

hair and shocking green eyes.  As the wire got closer the shapes

changed and merged with such dizzying speed he could no longer make

out the individual forms, just a collage of images which resembled

an Indian mask inspired by a peyote dream.  Johnny thought it was

the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.  Finally it all

disappeared, replaced by the sinister face of Charlie Fielder.

     The wire struck Johnny and seemed to hold him there as the

forms fell upon him in a feeding frenzy.  Johnny's face instantly

lost its dreamy look and was twisted into a continuous scream as he

soul was drawn from his body.  Several seconds later his eyeballs

popped out of their sockets and landed with a "plop-plop" on the

glazed pavement.

     Finally, the forms released Johnny and disappeared into the

night.  Johnny's body rolled down the embankment heavily like a

sack of potatoes.  At last it was still and the empty sockets

stared into the glare of the car's headlights.



     Charlie was awakened by a crash of thunder.  His cotton

pajamas were damp with perspiration and he throat was as dry as

October leaves.  He reached over and turned on the lamp.

     That was one hell of a dream, thought Charlie as he rubbed

his eyes and groped for his glasses on the nightstand.  The time

was 3:30 A.M.

     Charlie rose groggily and started towards the kitchen to

quench his thirst.  He turned the corner and stopped.  Someone was

standing by the french doors.

     The lightning flashed, revealing the face of a man who had

weathered his share of life's miseries.  It was his father's face,

but the soul underneath it was unfamiliar.

     "Dad?" asked Charlie hesitantly.

     "Oh, hello son.  Storm keeping you up?"  Mr. Fielder smiled

warmly, and Charlie immediately felt better.  A little better.

     "No, I had a nightmare.  I thought I would get some milk."

     "Well, get your milk and keep an old man company."

     Charlie forced a smile.  Old.  That had been exactly how his

father had looked.

     Charlie poured his milk as his father's voice began in the

next room.  It was as slow and deliberate as rain.

     "Haven't had a storm like this in over ten years, Charlie.

Not since you were struck by lightning."

     Charlie almost dropped his glass as he walked out of the

kitchen.  He settled into the couch across from his father's easy

chair.  He was dizzy and weak, and his throat felt like sandpaper.

He drank the milk greedily.

     "Easy son, don't want it coming back up," said Mr. Fielder

jokingly.

     Charlie licked his lips, "Did you say struck by lightning?"

     "Yes, I did.  It was one of the strangest things I ever

witnessed.  You were about four years old, and you were in the

kitchen with me and your mother.  The wind had picked up outside so

that you could hear it rushing through the trees, and the lightning

flashed behind the fields every couple of minutes.  Later I learned

that the wind had almost reached hurricane force that night.

Anyway, your mother and I were fixing dinner and you were standing

by the back door looking out into the fields.   Like a statue you

were, Charlie, staring at the lightning like it was Christ himself.

Your mother and I didn't think too much of it, you being a kid and

all.  Well, next thing we knew you were gone.  We ran to the back

door and saw you walking through the fields.  We ran and hollered

your name, but you just kept on walking like you were in a trance.

Then you were struck."

      Mr. Fielder paused and looked at Charlie.  Charlie was

shaking all over.

     "Like I said, it was the strangest thing I had ever seen.  You

glowed Charlie, and your hair was standing straight up in the

air.  The lightning didn't disappear but stayed right on you,

changing from blue to white and then back to blue again as if it

was feeding you.  Me and your mother were running towards you, and

she was screaming, 'Charlie's dead!  My little boy is dead!'"

     "The lightning disappeared, your hair came down, and you just

stood there as still as an oak as we approached you.  I thought you

had died standing up.  When we got to you, you couldn't speak.  We

carried you into the house and called an ambulance.  By the time it

arrived, you were speaking normally.  You didn't remember getting

struck, or even going out into the fields.  We told the driver it

was a false alarm and that was that."

     "Why didn't you ever tell me this before, Dad?"

     His father's face hardened.  The thunder crashed and he looked

out into the field.  He looked like a stranger again.

     "I lost my best friend that night, Charlie," Mr. Fielder said

in a hoarse whisper as his eyes searched for something in the

night, "His name was Bill McGee.  He was struck by a power line."

     Bill McGee.  The man from the dream.  Oh dear God no.

     "Son, you all right?  You look as pale as a ghost."

     "Yeah, just a little tired," Charlie said softly.  Charlie

looked out the window and thought he saw a child walking through

the fields.

     "Well, I better be getting to bed myself.  Goodnight, son,

don't forget to turn out the kitchen light."

     "I won't.  Goodnight," said Charlie.  He watched his father's

slippered feet shuffle down the hallway until they turned the

corner.  Charlie was still in a state of shock.

     Parts of the dream were coming back to him, parts which he

hadn't remembered upon awakening.  These were images of Charlie

rising out of bed and walking zombie-like towards the study,

turning the computer on and doing something...something unnatural

with his hands.  The images came clearly, without the hazy

distortion so characteristic of dreams, as if he hadn't been

dreaming at all.

     Charlie rose.  Fear trickled down his spine like ice-water.

Voices nagged his brain like an angry jury as he walked silently

down the hall.  Was it a dream, Charlie m'boy?  Or did something

happen with you and that computer?  Some kind of horrible fusion of

man and machine which transforms you from Charlie Fielder to

Charles Manson, maybe?

     Charlie reached the door of the study.  Faint light spilled

out of the crack beneath the door like radiation.  Charlie pushed

the door open.

     The picture on the monitor was sharper than a digitized

photograph.  It was a picture of Sweet Creek Road.  There were skid

marks on the slick asphalt.

     Charlie walked towards the monitor carefully as if the smooth

hardwood floor was a treacherous mountain path.  As he advanced,

the perspective of the picture changed.  Now he faced

the shoulder of the road.  A fallen power line swung in the wind

like a dead limb.  Charlie knew something horrible lay at the

bottom of the steep embankment.

     Perspiration beaded Charlie's face as he paused in the

darkness.  The voices in his head urged him forward.  Finally

Charlie managed to put one foot in front of the other and continue.

     The car came into view, its front welded with a tree trunk and

its headlights prying into the heart of the woods.  As Charlie

approached the monitor zoomed in on the eyeless corpse of Johnny

Mills.

     Suddenly the picture on the monitor started disintegrating as

the tiny pixels randomly began turning black.  In several seconds

the screen was blank, and the green characters P-L-A-Y A-G-A-I-N-?

etched  themselves into the inky background.  The blinking cursor

waited for his response with the regularity of a heartbeat.

     Charlie's fingertips glowed and throbbed to the rhythm of the

cursor.  The keys on the keyboard had melted together so that the

letters were stretched and disfigured like a schizophrenic's

alphabet soup.  Two hand prints were molded into the melted

plastic.

     Charlie sat down in front of the computer and eased his hands

into the molds on the keyboard.  His face was no longer the face of

a docile, pimply teenager.  It was the face of a

barbarian leader just before the slaughter.  The PLAY AGAIN? prompt

was replaced by a long, circular tunnel teeming with the colorful

souls of lesser entities.

     Charlie Fielder had always known he was a loser, but tonight

he was playing to win.

 

 

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Reviewed by Ronald Hull 5/25/2012
The opening almost got me to press the Delete Key until I began to get electrified by the smooth way the tale of an innocent boy morphed into the monster of his dreams. Electricity replaces the old equalizer, giving a loser the power to win.

Ron

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