This is a continuation of my Quarter Moon Haunts novel and my Story A Day In May for Day 22. I didn't see this plot twist happening at all, but it did. I hope you enjoy it.
The Legend Returns
Running past the burning bodies convulsing in agony on the porch – they are beyond saving - we direct our attention towards the residents and staff living in the house. Somehow, we must save them. These are the innocents in this whole mess. It is not their fault the system failed them.
We rush past the rapidly disintegrating door and run from room to room, alerting everyone to the dangers at hand. Directing the residents to the back and side doors, knowing the front door is the worst possible exit point at the moment, I instruct them to crawl on their hands and knees so as not to get caught up in the extreme heat, but not to attempt to escape on their bellies because that’s where the toxic fumes lie. Once I find the rooms where the staff are, I have more allies in my attempts to get everyone out of here safely.
The sounds of fire engines approach us rapidly now, but they can not possibly arrive in time to save everyone from the intensity of the flames. I hear people upstairs attempting to get down the steps to safety, but the stairs are becoming ever more fragile, the flames licking away at them with increasing ferocity.
Even though I’m dead, the fire is frightening to me. My life was torn from me because of similar blazes, and I can feel pain when I’m in my solid form. Shit! In order to save the innocents I must suffer more pain. How can I possibly refuse to help them?
Reducing my physical self to only what I need to move through the flames and carry people out, I decide I do not need the physical embodiment of my head. My senses will manifest them through other means. My sense of touch will be what I need the most now. Visual acumen in this fiery storm is all but impossible anyway. Yet still, I must hurry because like any other physical body, mine will be needing oxygen. I will be fading in and out, grabbing some breaths, then retreating once more into obscurity.
Body after body is dragged down the stairs by the three of us until . . . until with all of us on the staircase, it can take no more of the power of the inferno, and it collapses, taking us down with it. We rush out the side door with the folks in our arms, hand them off to the waiting fire fighters and return back inside once more. We’re almost done. There is only one person left, but how the hell do I get upstairs to get him now?
Timbers are sagging, sheetrock is crashing down everywhere around us, and patches of the sky can be seen through the rapidly vanishing roof. But, the cry for help can not be ignored, and I once more allow my head to become a physical part of me once more. Still, just as before, nothing can be seen to enable me to get to the second floor.
“Use Running Deer and me as a ladder, Robert!” Mike shouts. “It’s your only option. You have to move fast!”
He’s right, of course, and I allow them to get ready, Mike on the bottom, leaning against the strongest timber he can find, and Running Deer on his shoulder. Yes, this will do it! I still have to be quick, but this will work.
Not wasting any time, I climb up the two of them, pull myself to the balcony and drag myself towards where the screams are coming from. It’s not easy, I’m in pain the whole time, and even with my entire physical body being used, I can hardly breathe. But I’m close . . . so close to where he’s at. I can save him. I know I can!
The floor slumps under me, buckling and twisting, and I know I won’t need to use the ghostly duo as a ladder to get back down. Once more, as with the stairwell, everything will cave in. I need to get to the stranded guy before that happens.
A sudden roar fills the area as a large piece of the roof caves in and more oxygen rushes in to feed the fire. Indescribable pain attacks my entire body again, and I can only imagine what the remaining guy is feeling. There is much more urgency to my mission now. Getting the fuck out in fast fashion is what I need to do. Scrambling faster, my knees burning from the heat below me, I find and grasp his hand just as the floor vanishes beneath us. Turning over so that my back is towards the floor below, we hit the lower level. My body has cushioned him, but in so doing has knocked the wind out of me.
“C’mon, damn it!” I think to myself. “Hurry the fuck up and get your ass out of here!”
Taking a couple of super deep breaths, filling my lungs with oxygen, I once more become headless, and run out the door with the man cradled in my arms. A cop is waiting outside, knowing no one could have survived what just happened inside and is shocked not only that I got this man out alive, but . . . but when he looks at my headless body framed against the inferno behind us, he almost drops the man as I hand him over.
“This man is burned bad,” I say. “He needs immediate help.”
The cop is in shock and doesn’t move. “I said he needs help. Move! Now!”
He runs to the medics and hands him over to them, then turns back and looks at me once more. My black hoodie hanging down because there is nothing to hold it up must present quite a spectacle. He waves wildly to the other cops on the scene and all of them stare, not believing for a second that the legend of the roads could be standing in front of them. Their slow response gives me the time I need, and I dash to the Ram along with my two friends who are now invisible once more.
My last look back before jumping into the big black Dodge shows one of the cops leveling his revolver at me. Just before he can fire, one of the other cops knocks the gun out of his hand. “You asshole!” he shouts. “That guy, headless or not, just saved a lot of people. He’s a fucking hero, dip-wad! Why do you want to kill him?”
“He’s . . . he’s that guy that chases everyone on the back roads.”
“Has he killed anyone?”
“Not that I know.”
“Then let him be. Look at all the witnesses watching you. You’d be crucified if you killed him. That’s if he can be killed.”
I smile. Alrighty! I’m a fucking hero. Even though some idiot will try to kill my ass, I’ll be an urban legend folk hero of sorts.
We jump into the truck and I put the pedal to the metal and zip off the dirt road and onto the main road. Home sweet home, here we come.
“I hate to say this,” Mike says as we’re barreling down the road, “but I believe this will give you a big head. You’re difficult enough to deal with now as it is.”
“Hey, you crazy Dutchman, how can I have a big head? Look at me!”
“Yikes!” Running Deer shouts. “Get your head back on and keep your eyes on the road.
That does make sense. We’re out of harm’s way for a while. “Okay, buddy. Will do!”
This does bring a whole new element to play with, though. Seeing the black Dodge on the roads will no longer scare the bejesus out of a lot of people now. That will make things a lot easier for me to do my job. In addition to writing the tales about Mike and Running Deer, I need to write about some of the bureaucratic snafus strangling the State and even more about the illegal shit that’s going down. The mob owns a lot of this State. No more, there’s a new sheriff in town, and he can’t be bought off. And guess what? He’s dead. He can’t be killed.
Crooked politicians, cops, and God knows what else are about to come crashing down everywhere.
“I’m not liking this,” Mike says. “You’re quiet again. That means your mind is working a mile a minute again.”
“A healthy mind in a healthy body is a good thing, Mike.”
“Your body isn’t healthy. You’re dead.”
“Oh yeah, you’re right. I forgot about that.”
“Well keep it in mind.”
“Whatever you say, buddy.”
“How much do you guys know about newspapers?” I ask.
“Nothing,” Mike says. “What are they?”
“They’re like daily books reporting what happened the day before,” I say.
“We used smoke signals in the old days for that,” Running Deer says.
I laugh. “You’re pulling my leg, buddy. Newspapers are current about all the news. The only problem is that sometimes the news is tainted. It’s a complete lie. People get paid off to write what others want them to say.”
“Why?” Mike asks.
“Money, influence, hushing things up. Some reporters fear for their lives when they report the truth. Some people don’t want the truth to be told.”
“I’m still worried,” Mike says. “Where do you and, of course, us get involved with this?”
“It’s quite simple, really. We will gather the truth and I will write what needs to be said.”
“Shit! This doesn’t sound good to me at all.”
“C’mon, pussy. Belly up to the bar. Grow a pair.”
“I’ll explain it later. Right now, we’re headed to Newton. The New Jersey Herald will have a special edition tomorrow.”
My friends hang on for dear life as I turn the Dodge around on the back road, making the best u-turn of my life. Gunning the engine sends us to Newton at break-neck pace. Almost knocking the stupid patrol cars stupid enough to be chasing us off the road as I veer right at them, I have to wonder at their stupidity. First I’m a hero, and now they want to catch my ass for something.
All of this will work out in grand fashion, I’m sure. People other than cops listen to the police radios. I’m counting on the right person to be listening tonight.
It’s time for my headless persona again. Newton is coming up fast. I race down the main drag when we arrive and go to the New Jersey Herald. As expected, he is waiting for me. This man I trust. He is smart – no one else would have known I was coming here – and he is completely honest. My kind of guy!
Zipping around in the middle of the parking lot, the police cruisers surround me as soon as I stop. Jumping out of the Ram, I walk straight to the very center of the big Welcome Wagon committee. Looking at Charlie, the best damn reporter and photographer this rag ever had, I shout, “Take the picture, Charlie! There’s a new reporter for this paper. They just don’t know it yet.”
He snaps the picture and we run for the building together. He is not the least bit afraid of me for who I am. Reaching the door and getting inside is our goal. We have work to do.
The cops are hot on our heels and attempt to bust the door down once we’re inside, but my buddies get between us and them and make certain we will not be disturbed.
Charlie and I rush to the press and get ready to print up tomorrow’s headline. Together, we set the type and my hands fly with the big story about the mental health fiasco. I once worked as a typesetter here, so the job comes easily to me. Charlie stares at me but, of course, he can get no indication of who I really am from my face. I have none.
“Charlie, me lad,” I say. “We will write many stories together you and I. This rag will grow some major balls.”
I’m almost done setting the type when a commotion comes up behind me. I turn and stare into the faces of two armed guards. Their guns are drawn and pointed right at me. Petrified at the very sight of me, their arms and hands shake wildly.
Oh, shit! Being shot in this form of existence would hurt like hell . . .