My ruined Christmas.

I answered the door in response to some rather frenzied knocking. There stood a short man with greenish skin, oh wait, that was from the green light outside my front door. Anyway, this man seemed rather upset.

“Ah, celebrating Christmas, I see,” he said after observing my holiday themed set up. “You may not remember me, but several months ago you cut me off and took my parking spot at the DOLLAR STORE WHERE YOU DID YOUR CHRISTMAS SHOPPING!”

Instantly there were audible gasps from the other houses surrounding mine. Great. Now everyone knows where I did my holiday shopping. I know I wasn’t not the only one seeking to save a little money this time of year.

Then my attention returned to the angry man at the door. “Wait a minute,” I said, “This was several months ago?”

“Yes, and I’ve waited this long just so I can ruin your Christmas!”

“And how do you plan on doing that?”

“You see, I am a THORCERER!”

“Don’t you mean sorcerer?”

“NO, I SAID THORCERER!”

Whatever.

Assuming that infamous stork karate pose, he chanted in a voice so deep it sounded like a long belch, “May everything associated with your holiday go BOOM!” With that, he turned around and disappeared into the night.

I was chuckling at what I just witnessed, but after I closed the door and began walking towards my living room I stopped chuckling because there was no longer anything to chuckle at, but if there was something to chuckle at, I would have been chuckling except I wasn’t chuckling, because there really wasn’t anything to chuckle at.

Anyway, my Christmas tree was growing abnormally large and stood 7 feet tall, which was really abnormal considering that the tree was only 1 foot tall when I bought it. Not only was the tree growing larger but also the ornaments appeared to inflate like balloons.

Boom.

Instantly the tree exploded, ornaments and all, leaving nothing behind, not even those pesky pine needles. All that was left were the presents on the floor, except they were now inflating like balloons.

Boom.

The presents exploded, showering the floor with shredded wrapping paper and unidentifiable fragments of plastic and metal. As usual nothing resembling batteries.

Boom.

I heard a loud explosion coming from behind and when I spun around I saw the showering fragments of what used to be the holiday garland strung along the wall. Next to explode were the Christmas cards on my dining room table soon covered with their dust. Finally I heard popping sounds coming from outside the window. Sure enough, I could see my holiday lights popping like firecrackers on a string. Then all was quiet.

I surveyed the remains of my Christmas decorations and realized there was one thing left that the thorcerer can never destroy.

My Christmas spirit.

Christmas trees dry up and die, holiday lights burn out and a majority of gifts fall apart, but the Christmas spirit is what remains intact, year in and year out. Impressed by this sudden insight, I began to feel something well up from deep inside, except it wasn’t my pride. It was my Christmas spirit, growing larger and larger, soon becoming so large that my head began to swell. Seconds later…

Boom.

This thorcerer really got me good.

Ian’s secret legacy, Part 2.

“Nice job, Steve,” Ron sighed. “You just demolished the bedroom and there’s no box in sight. What is this, some kind of joke?”

“I swear, there is a box hidden here somewhere,” Steve countered before he was consumed by a sudden, illuminating thought. After a lengthy pause, he announced, “I think I know where it is.”

“Where?” Ron asked.

Steve pointed at the closet. “In there.”

“Oh great, here we go with more demolition,” Karen complained as Steve opened the closet door in preparation for tearing down the walls inside. Once again the crowbar flew into action, tearing out large chunks of wall before piling them on the already large pile of drywall on the floor. After a few minutes of vicious hammering and ripping, the noise suddenly stopped.

“I found it.”

Steve emerged from the closet holding a small jewelry box held shut by a snap hinge. He handed it to Ron, who eyed it skeptically.

“I’d like you to do the honors,” Steve said, “I think it’s fitting for you, Ian’s parents, to unseal his legacy.”

“Very well.”

Ron gripped the jewelry box and struggled to unsnap the rusty hinge that held it shut. Suddenly the lid flew open as a giant spring loaded snake jumped out, filling Ian’s parents with terror. As they stood in place screaming, Steve fled the room, not out of fear but in satisfaction that he had at last fulfilled Ian’s secret legacy – to prank parents and mess up his old bedroom one last time.

The End

Ian’s secret legacy.

“Why, Steve,” Ron said after greeting him at the door, “I wasn’t expecting to see you here.”

“Sorry for the intrusion,” Steve replied, “but I have some news that may be of interest to you.”

“News?” Ron wondered. “Do come in and tell us about it.”

Ron motioned Steve to the living room where they both sat down on the couch.

“Ron, when your son Ian was alive, he demonstrated a real passion for music.”

Ron chortled. “Yeah, he spent nearly all his time listening to his stereo.”

“Let me rephrase that,” Steve corrected, “he had a passion for composing music.”

“Ian? Composing music? Impossible.”

“No, really. Whenever he came over to my house we both collaborated on our music. And Ian has composed some of the most thrilling music I have ever heard.”

“Let me get this straight,” Ron muttered, “Ian never finished school or worked a day in his life but he could actually compose music?”

“Seems hard to believe, but he had a real talent for it. He and I came up with some cool compositions, but his talent really took off when he came up with not only music for movies, but also his own symphonies and operas. He also wrote some musicals for Broadway, too. I’m telling you, this is music that needs to be heard.”

“So what’s in it for us?” Ian’s mother Karen asked. She overheard the conversation from the kitchen and had joined in.

“This music must be published, and whatever money it brings in, I will see that you get every cent. Nothing for me, of course. Ian personally told me that the money will compensate you for all the misery he caused you during his life.”

“Misery?” Ron shouted. “He said that?”

“Unfortunately, yes.”

“Assuming what you told us is true,” Karen said, “surely there must be a catch.”

“The only catch is finding the box containing Ian’s music. He hid it behind the wall not long before he passed.”

“Why would he hide it?” Ron asked.

“He wasn’t sure how you’d feel about his musical ambitions.” Steve replied.

“So Ian hid the box behind the wall,” Karen muttered. “This doesn’t sound right.”

“But the time has come to bring the box out of hiding and fulfill your son’s legacy,” Steve insisted.

“Fine,” Ron sighed, “Where would this box be hidden?”

“In his bedroom, of course,” Steve offered.

“But we just finished painting the walls in there,” Karen complained.

“Well, I don’t know about you, but I think it’s time to see what this whole thing’s about,” Ron rose to his feet, “I’ll get the crowbar.”

Minutes later Ron returned with the crowbar and handed it to Steve, who led Ron and Karen to Ian’s old bedroom. Steve surveyed the freshly painted walls in the empty room as he prepared to search for the hidden box.

Steve began tearing away at the walls with the crowbar. Ian’s parents cringed at the sight of chunks of drywall piling on the floor as the search progressed and soon the entire room was stripped bare of drywall, revealing the insulation and supports originally hidden behind the walls. But no box was found.

“Where’s the box?” Ron asked. “So far you’ve managed to demolish the room.”

Steve did his best to stifle a chuckle.

Don’t worry Ian, I’m only getting started, Steve thought. The best part is yet to come.

To be continued…

Rack diving in Aisle 13.

“This is what I was talking about,” Jeff said as he pointed at the shelf in question. “It’s a really tight squeeze but there’s a huge pile of boxes back there that need to go back on the shelf if our inventory numbers are to be accurate this year.”

I nodded, silently enthusing at my chance to do some rack diving, the latest phase in helping the store prepare for inventory day. Other members of the inventory prep team were working in other aisles also to retrieve any fallen boxes from the tight space behind the shelves. And now my chance finally came.

I kneeled down on the floor and started clearing the bottom shelf in preparation for the task at hand. It did look like a tight squeeze but I recalled tighter squeezes than this during the years past when I worked this job. It did mean working nights for a month but served as a much-needed change of pace from my day job working as a parking lot attendant.

“Can you fit in there?” Jeff asked.

“Oh yeah,” I replied as I began to slide onto the shelf with ease. “This one’s OK.”

“I’ll be back to check on you in a bit,” Jeff said, “I’m going to check on the others. Just get what you can, okay?”

Just get what I can? Heck, I’ll get all the boxes back there.

I continued my slide towards the back of the shelf and already I could see the large pile of boxes that had fallen to the floor. What a mess, I thought. There was barely room for me to stand up but somehow I managed to get back on my feet and start clearing the space behind the shelf.

Then I heard what sounded like a whisper. I stopped working and listened intently. Nothing but the cheesy music playing on the store’s PA system. Before I resumed my task, I heard it again, this time loud enough for me to make out the words.

“Potato chips.”

It was a hideously raspy voice that sounded like fingers scraping across a chalkboard, maybe worse, and it sounded like it was coming from just a few feet from where I was standing. Only I couldn’t see what it was.

“POTATO CHIPS.”

This time the voice was louder and I could now see the hideously deformed creature emerge from the shadows. Its skin was deathly pale and lumpy with a few strands of hair at the top of its head. It had two small dots for eyes, mere slots for a nose and a large mouth filled with the most grotesquely misaligned teeth I had ever seen…

“POTATO CHIPS!” the creature screamed before beginning its wobbly scramble to where I was standing.

Suddenly a bag of potato chips slid into view from the bottom shelf.

“Hurry,” I could hear Jeff’s voice, “Just get what you can.”

The creature grabbed the bag and wobbled back to its hiding place. As it began devouring the potato chips, bag and all, I hurriedly put away enough boxes to at least clear a larger section of floor but it was still a mess back there.

“Okay, that’s good enough, you can come back out.”

“But there’s still a lot do to back here.”

“Please,” Jeff insisted, “the creature’s almost done eating and I don’t have any more potato chips!”

I glanced at the creature one last time and saw that it was in fact almost done with the bag. The panicky tone in Jeff’s voice suggested a very unpleasant outcome of this particular situation so I stooped down for my return trip across the shelf and back into the aisle where Jeff was standing.

“You okay?” Jeff asked.

“Yes, but what was that back there?”

“No matter,” he sighed, “let’s find you another aisle to work on.”

I walked with Jeff towards the middle of the store to aisle 26, which seemed brighter with all the lights on display. “You can do this one,” he said as he led me to the shelf bearing my next task, “I don’t think there’s anything back there but boxes.”

I hesitantly cleared the bottom shelf and proceeded to slide towards the back of the shelf where once again I saw a mess of small boxes on the floor. I started working, trying to forget about the horrific sight I had seen just moments before.

Then I heard what sounded like a whisper. I stopped working and listened intently. Nothing but the cheesy music playing on the store’s PA system. Before I resumed my task, I heard it again, this time loud enough for me to make out the words.

“Pretzels.”

The world’s most relaxing song.

If you’re looking for something that will really, really relax you, look no farther than the Mindfulness Pack on the archive.org website. It has four tasty tracks that mix soothing synthesizer music and binaural beats to create a truly unique meditative experience. There are tracks for quick meditation, endorphin release and lucid healing, but the real find here is the fourth and final track entitled “The World’s Most Relaxing Song”, a 9-minute track that will truly immerse you into the deepest relaxation you’ll ever feel. I’ve yet to try out the other tracks, but if it can relax me to the point of pure calm, then I’d expect the other tracks to work wonders as well. This album is a real find.