In this post I continue my spinoff of Salem’s Lot. As I developed the story, it took on such a life of its own that it no longer made sense for me to continue using the name “‘Salem’s Lot”. No, I thought it was better to use the name ‘Arking Lot instead. (Originally it was named Parking Lot, but the first letter was removed to make the town more inviting to visitors and residents alike. After all, no one wants to live in a parking lot.)
Standing inside the dimly lit lobby of the church that singlehandedly contained the evil plaguing the town of ‘Arking Lot, I allowed my eyes to adjust to the darkness before I spotted a very dim light shining at a nearby corner. Then I heard a voice.
“Get your program here! You can’t tell a lot from a few without a program!”
I could see someone standing behind the table with a stack of brochures next to a short candle that barely illuminated his presence. I couldn’t see much of him but the tattered clothes clinging to what was left of the corpse that greeted me.
“Well, well!” said the corpse. “Another foolish soul trying to eradicate the evil from ‘Arking Lot!”
“Yeah, that’s me,” I responded.
“Would you like a program?”
“No thanks,” I replied, “I have the book.”
“This one,” I held up my copy of So You Want To Visit ‘Arking Lot.
“That won’t help you here,” snarled the corpse.
“There’s nothing wrong with trying,” I said as I raised my camera. “Say cheese.”
“Don’t point that thing at me!”
The flash went off and the corpse instantly collapsed into a pile of rags and bones. Then I looked at the screen on my camera and saw the picture I just took. Not exactly a pretty sight.
I walked to a row of doors lined up behind me and was about to push one open when I suddenly remembered what I read in the book. The doors lead to a passageway inhabited by hundreds and hundreds of ratss. That struck me as odd. I thought perhaps it was a typo in the book but the word ratss appeared not once, but numerous times. I consulted the book one more time.
There is a long row of doors in the lobby leading to an underground passageway occupied by scores of ratss. Listen for signs of squeaking before entering, unless you choose a different setting for your entrance to the passageway.
What could this mean?
Then it dawned on me that the strange word might actually be a different word with the letters scrambled. But what word would that be? In the meantime, I did hear squeaking, lots of squeaking as the ratss lined up behind the door in preparation for eating me alive at the earliest opportunity.
I mentally rearranged the letters before I got a different word, one that sounded way more pleasant than the one I started with.
I went back and re-read that sentence again, this time out loud.
“There is a long row of doors in the lobby leading to an underground passageway occupied by scores of stars.”
The squeaking stopped as a bright glow filled the space behind the doors. When it faded, I cautiously pushed open the door and saw a dark passageway illuminated by countless stars overhead.
I began my walk down the passageway with flashlight in hand, unsure of what was ahead. My nose already knew otherwise and alerted me to an extremely pleasant scent that drifted in my general direction. I couldn’t make out what it was at first, but the farther I went, the more recognizable the scent became.
Chocolate chip cookies?
Suddenly from out of the darkness emerged an oversized doll with a body of plain white cloth. It had no face but a plain head along with the plain arms and legs connected to the plain abdomen. And there it stood, leaning forward as if stuck in a bow.
“Ookay,” I said aloud to no one in particular, “What might this be?”
“The Grim Reacher,” came a voice from behind. I spun around and saw a bearded man with his long hair done as a ponytail. He wore a red polo shirt and black pants, an outfit not typical of one who resides in this dark, forbidding place. “Hi, I’m Jim, from Really Terrifying Props. We’re giving our newest animated prop here a test run. So what do you think? Did it scare you?”
“No, not really,” I replied.
“Did it at least startle you?”
“Quicken your pulse?”
“No? Wow, it scared us when we first ran it. So what would it take to make this thing scarier for you?”
“Well,” I explained, “this thing needs to look scary. What, you call it the Grim Reacher? Then make it look like a Grim Reacher instead of a plain dummy. Give it a scary face and dress it up in black robe and hood.
“Also, the movements need to be scary. Not just leaning forward, but this thing needs to really move. Make its arms reach for you and work in some head jerking movements, too.
“And lastly, this thing needs scary sounds, like maybe someone screaming. Put all those together and you’ll have a terrifying prop that’s scare even me.”
I sniffed the air and then added, “Oh, one more thing. I’d get rid of the chocolate chip cookie smell.”
“What chocolate chip cookie smell?” Jim asked.
“Never mind,” I sighed as I walked on.
My journey was just beginning. I knew the worst was yet to come.
To be continued…