by Tad Bolmont
This world is a strange place. There are monsters everywhere we turn. Most people don’t know this, but there are those who do, and they keep others safe.
These people are called guardians, and I am one of them.
* * *
I awoke, surprised. I looked up at the ceiling, wondering. I didn’t understand why I kept having that dream. It was just a single image: me, glowing faintly red, standing. I was unable to understand why my subconscious insisted on showing me this image, but I knew it was somehow connected to the question I asked myself each morning upon waking up.
“What’s wrong with me?”
I asked myself this, not expecting to come up with an answer. I never do. I heard my mom in the kitchen, cooking breakfast.
“Hmmm, wonder what we’re having today,” I said, slowly sitting up. Standing, I sniffed the air, half expecting to smell bacon and eggs, or maybe pancakes, or even some kind of pie. But, as usual, I smelled nothing.
“Damn my nose,” I said, reaching over to my desk and slipping my glasses on. As I walked out of the room, I was struck by the thought of that mysterious dream. “What’s wrong with me?” I asked, yet again.
* * *
My mother was indeed cooking bacon and eggs, which looked delicious. I sat down at the kitchen table, knowing I wouldn’t be of any help.
“So, sleep good, Jacob?” She looked over at me as she stirred the eggs.
“Yeah, like always,” I said, not altogether convincingly, glancing over at her.
“Oh, really?” She looked like she was unsure of what to say, pausing to collect her thoughts. “Did you have that dream again, Jacob?”
“I’ve told you, mom, it’s nothing.” I looked down at the table, knowing she would never believe that.
“Yes, well, I still worry about you. It seems like it scares you or something” She brought the eggs over to the table and placed the pan on a hot pad.
“Mom, it’s nothing, really.” I lifted my head back up, instinctively reaching for the plate placed nearby my seat. “Breakfast looks good,” I commented, scooping some eggs onto my plate.
“Thanks.” She returned to the table with a plate full of bacon and sat down, with the plate of bacon in front of her. “I’ll need you out of the house by nine.” She piled the remaining eggs onto it and began to eat.
I also started to eat, only talking after my plate was nearly clean. “Got a ‘client’ today?”
“Yes, I’m sorry, Jacob.”
“Its okay, Mom. I’ll just go spend some time with Lyssa.”
“That’s good.” She glanced at me, looking a trifle embarrassed. “I promise I’ll tell you about my job someday.” she nearly whispered.
“That’s okay,” I said, standing up and taking my plate over to the sink. I turned around and smiled at her. “I’m sure it’s not something that would interest me.” With that, I walked out of the kitchen, leaving my mom alone.
* * *
Half an hour later, I exited the bathroom, my hair wet. I was heading back into my room when, quite suddenly, I heard an angry scream from the backyard. “Mom?” I ran outside, not expecting what met me past the back door.
On the other side of the backdoor, I saw a large, translucent gray blob. Through it, I could just barely see my mom shouting at a short, rather meek-looking man.
“Mom? I thought you weren’t fighting till after nine?” I watched as she turned around, surprise registering on her face.
“Jacob, you need to get aw–” she broke off her sentence as the blob suddenly extended part of itself towards me.
It moved so fast I was unable to react, and the next thing I knew I had been pulled into it, with my head sticking out of the top. “Help,” I yelled to my mom, “I can’t...” I struggled against the slimy blob, to no avail.
“Jacob, no...” My mom looked worried, and she turned to the man beside her. “This is your fault,” she said to him.
“How is it my fault?”
“You were early.” My mom glared at him, clearly mad. “My son wouldn’t have been here if you had brought it here at nine.
“I told you, I had no choice. You want me to let myself get chased by an oozer for another thirty min-”
“MOM!” I struggled against the blob, trying my hardest to get free from its slimy embrace.
“Jacob. Just... just hang in there. I’m trying to think of something...”
“Mom, I can’t do... that,” I said, struggling again. “You’ve gotta. Help me!”
“Sorry,” my mom said, hanging her head in shame, “I can’t do anything without hurting you.” She looked back up at me, tears collecting at the bottom of her eyes.
“You mean... This thing... Is just gonna... Eat me... And there’s... Nothing you... Can do?” I was fighting for each breath now, but my eyes were still fixed on my mom.
“Sorry...” She looked away again, back at her “client”, who quickly glanced away.
“Mom...” My eyes filled with tears and I had to tear my gaze away from her. “M-Mom!!”
“I’m sorry, Celia. I didn’t know this would...”
“Shut up, you!” My mom’s expression switched immediately, as she yelled at him.
“Shut... Up!” With this cry of pure rage, my arms burst out and the part where I had been trapped inside exploded. The rest of it oozed back, towards the door.
“Jacob, you’re out?” My mom’s voice was thick with disbelief, and she made no move towards me, as if she was frozen in shock.
“Yeah, now just stay there,” I said, leaping forward, at the blob, my face contorted in anger. I punched it hard, knocking a good sized chunk out of it.
“Jacob...” She still made no move, but I knew why this time.
“I’ve got this,” I said, as the blob rose up in front of me, preparing to strike again.
While the blob lunged at me, I jumped back. It missed me completely, but my glasses fell off and were crushed underneath my rapidly moving enemy.
“Oh, your glasses,” my mom and her “client” said at the same time, one worried for me, the other for his wallet.
“Don’t worry. I can see good...now.” I smiled, somehow knowing what the subsequent gasps from behind me meant. I looked down at my fists and noticed that they were surrounded by a glowing, blood red aura.
Right after I noticed this, the blob rose and once more launched itself at me. I met it with a jab; while stopping it, my entire right arm became buried within its body.
“You’re not going to eat me,” I growled, attempting to pull my arm out. After a couple of tugs, I stood still and concentrated. My blob-encased fist glowed brighter and the aura grew bigger. My eyes closed, my other senses blocked out everything around me, and all I knew at that moment was that I wanted to destroy this thing that had tried to eat me.
“I’m going to win,” I said, opening my eyes. I let out an animal-like roar and then the blob exploded. Chunks of it flew all over the yard, landing on all three of us.
“Ugh, that’s just disgusting,” the two behind me said in unison.
I remained silent, however, breathing heavily, still slightly enraged.
“So, um, how much do I owe you, Celia?” The man who had been standing near my mom, her “client,” audibly removed his wallet from his pocket. P>
“I didn’t do anything,” my mom replied, “You owe my son.”
“Well then, how much?”
She thought for a minute, then gave her answer. “Fifty dollars. He almost got eaten.” She walked past me, smiling. “That sound good?”
Copyright © 2008 by Tad Bolmont