Sunday, January 31, 2016


Copyright (c) 2015 by Randall R. Peterson ALL RIGHTS RESERVED This is a work of fiction. All persons, locations and actions are from the author's imagination or have been used in a fictitious manner.


Part 2

                                                  By R. Peterson                          

Alvin lay on the sick-bed inside the principal’s office. Getting hit by a speeding baseball with that enlarged-head could have been fatal, his teacher, Mrs. Dern thought. Thankfully, there didn’t appear to be any critical damage. The school-nurse patted his cheeks with a wet cloth and checked for bruising. The nine year-old was hallucinating. He sat-up with his glasses askew and stammered “I see them … I see the dark threads!” Mrs. Dern shook her head and thought that was probably typical behavior for any genius. Backing out of the office, she hurried along the corridor, just as Chloe O’Brian emerged from the classroom, clutching her backpack. ‘I’ll walk Alvin home,’ she said firmly.
Mrs. Dern smiled gratefully and then blurted: “How did this poor child happen to run into a baseball?”
Chloe thought about telling her teacher that she thought Terrell Adams had hit Alvin on purpose, but decided to keep quiet at least for now. It might have been an accident, but she didn’t think so. “I guess Terrell’s throw must have gone wild,” she said.
Mrs. Dern sighed, “That’s the price you pay for being a boy.”

            “Will he be okay?” Chloe asked, as she shrugged her backpack over her shoulders. Mrs. Dern could not imagine how the school’s most popular girl could be friends with a nerd like Sullenger. She remembered her own pre-teen years. If she’d had Chloe’s stunning good looks, she would have hung out with the popular kids and gone to boy-girl parties or went roller-skating instead of spending Saturday nights with the stupid Cloverdale Elementary Foreign Language Club.
            “I think he will be fine,” Mrs. Dern said. “He’s lucky to have you as a friend. She paused as she looked at the beautiful auburn-haired girl. “It’s Marsha Hick’s birthday today. We’re having cup-cakes in the afternoon. Are you sure you want to miss that?”
Chloe laughed. “My mother won’t let me eat cup-cakes at home … she says they’re made by the Devil!”
            “Your mother must be on a diet,” Mrs. Dern sneered. “I didn’t think Margie O’Brian needed to lose even one pound!”
            “She doesn’t,” Chloe said with a grin. “Because she stays away from cup-cakes.”
Mrs. Dern and the school nurse helped Alvin to his feet. “Chloe volunteered to walk you home,” she told him. “We’ve phoned your mother, and she’ll call and check on you later.”
            “I’m okay,” Alvin said. “I just have a lot of strange thoughts going through my head.”
With a head that size I’m sure there’s room for a ton of them … Mrs. Dern thought. “Get some rest,” she said, “and we hope to see you in class tomorrow!”
Brains and beauty Mrs. Dern mused as she watched them walk down the hall toward the large front entrance. What a strange pair they make.


Another pair of eyes watched Chloe and Alvin from behind the just cracked-open door of the boy’s bathroom. Droll ran from the corners of Terrell Adam’s mouth like a rabid dog. He didn’t think the O’Brian girl had told about him trying to kill Alvin and he was determined to make sure she didn’t. The children’s story Mrs. Dern read just before recess kept playing over and over in his head along with the strange fragrance of almonds. The goats had no right to go trip tripping across the Troll’s bridge. They lied to the troll and tricked him. Terrell’s rubbed his red eyes as he watched the pair leave the building. It must be the damn odor from the almonds … it was everywhere. He wasn’t about to have someone destroy his future as a major league baseball player. He knew two bridges that both of them had to cross on their way home. When he left school without permission he doubted that even the principal would call his parents, it had happened so many times before. His father was mean when he was drunk and his mother was that way even when Lester wasn’t. No school official was watching as he crept out the back door.
Terrell put a hand on the switch-blade knife in his pocket. He knew a short-cut to the bridge. This time the story of the Troll and the Goats would have a new ending.


“I’m sorry you’re going to miss Marsha Hick’s party,” Alvin hung his head as they crossed the city park. “Everyone likes cup-cakes.”
Chloe laughed. “You’re my cup-cake Alvin,” she told him. “I like being with boys who talk about things other than fishing and hunting and whether or not the Yankees are going to win the World Series.”
“But I’ll never be your boyfriend,” Alvin looked at her sadly. The thick-lens glasses askew on his nose made his eyes appear to bulge like a fish. “I’m smart enough to know that.”
“We’ll always be friends,” Chloe held his hand as they crossed an icy place in the street, “and you’re the only boy-friend I’ve got.”
Alvin’s laugh sounded like the bubbles coming from the water cooler in the school cafeteria. “If only we could make things happen with our imaginations!”
            “I can imagine lots of things,” Chloe said. “But walking down a sidewalk in my hometown with the smartest kid in the world is hard to beat!”
            “I think being smart is mostly a curse,” Alvin told her. “I’d trade it all to be athletic or someone popular like you … or Clark Jensen.” His voice cracked when he said the tall boy’s name.
            “Clark thinks he’s God’s gift to girls,” Chloe told him. “Being popular isn’t everything.”


            Terrell Adams was jumping fences and running through back yards on his way to the Cloverdale Canal Bridge. It was a perfect location for an ambush. The canal had been empty for over a month and the bottom had been recently scraped with a grader. The sides were eight feet high and if you found yourself in the bottom without a ladder or a rope hidden and tied to a tree you had to walk along the canal bottom for three blocks to the Wallace Avenue pumping station to climb out. Terrell always thought of the area under the bridge as his own special place. He kept cigarettes there (stolen from his father) and smoked them after school or when he skipped school altogether. The only other person who knew about his hideout was Mike Lee and that poor sap was right now probably sweating through one of Mrs. Dern’s math lessons.
            Terrell was surprised to see the rope dangling into the canal. He was sure he’d put it away. The smell of almonds was thick in the air as he lowered himself down.
Mike Lee smiled as he watched Terrell shimmy down the rope. “Skipping school, huh?” The smell of almonds lingered in the air, plus the smell of cigarette smoke. Of course Mike knew that the cigarettes were hidden at the top of the cement embankment they’d both smoked under the bridge many times before. From the butts on the ground it looked like Lee had smoked almost half a pack. Terrell raised both arms in the air and let out with a thunderous bellow that made his best friend take two steps back. “Hey! Chill out man! What are you so pissed about?”
“Those belong to the troll … they ain’t for goats!”
“What the hell are you talking about … goats?”
“Always there is someone wanting to go trip tripping across my bridge.” Terrell reached inside his pocket.
 Lee’s mouth gaped open for just a minute and then he laughed. “You’re talking about that stupid story Mrs. Dern reads every year to her fourth-grade class. She thinks we are all still in kindergarten.” He was still laughing when Terrell pulled out the knife. With a click the blade flashed open in the dim light.
“This has gone too far … damn it!” Lee dropped the cigarette and began to stumble backwards. “Are you crazy?”
Terrell lunged forward driving the blade into Lee’s chest just above his abdomen. Mike Lee took three gasping breaths before the blood began to trickle from his mouth and he collapsed on the ground. He stared at the huge boy walking toward him. “Help me.” His voice sounded like air escaping from a balloon, then with frantic force. “Help me somebody pleeeeeese!
Terrell raised the knife to stab him again. The goat was yelling so loud Terrell thought someone crossing the bridge might hear … then he had an idea.
            “I’ll let you go,” Terrell said as he loomed over the bleeding boy. “If you don’t tell anyone I’m down here!”
            “I won’t tell … I promise.” Mike’s voice sounded like he was blowing bubbles.
Terrell climbed the rope until he could see the street. “They’re coming!” he told Lee. “I want you to cry for help when they get right over the bridge.” He knelt and flicked the knife blade across to his best friend’s throat. “But so help me God, if you tell on the Troll I’ll cut your #%$@# head off!”


            Alvin and Chloe were almost at the bridge. Alvin was feeling better despite the headache. Still he sat his backpack down and needed to rest. “Did you ever wonder,” he said. “That there might be another force in the universe, like the unknown power that makes scientific abnormalities like acupuncture work?”
            “Ewwww … you’re talking about how Chinese doctors stick needles all over in people’s bodies to cure them from pain?” Chloe stuck out her tongue. “Yuck! I’d rather do like the TV commercial says and trust Bayer Aspirin.”
            “I know it looks gross,” Alvin told her, “but it works.” He stopped and took a folded paper from a science book that was not from the school. “Qi is Chinese word meaning life energy. That’s what they say makes acupuncture work.” He looked at her hoping she would believe him. “When I got hit with the baseball, I was in another place, a dark place without form but I could see the threads …”
            “I heard you mumbling about seeing dark threads,” Chloe said. “I thought you were hallucinating.”
            “I guess that’s possible,” Alvin told her. “But I swear I could see the strings that bind the universe together. They surround all matter and weave the fabric of space time. These fibers have substance, although with a negative weight. They produce a kind of Dark energy that is the opposite of gravity and they push things apart.”
            “You lost me when you started talking about tying the universe up with string,” Chloe told him. “I have a hard time remembering when water boils and freezes on the Celsius scale.”
            “That’s easy,” Alvin said. “Just remember one-hundred and zero.”
            “Anyway what good is this … Dark energy?”
            “Since it’s the opposite of our energy,” Alvin said. “You should be able to use it without releasing it.”
            “How is that possible?”
            “Heat is a type of energy, that you release when you burn wood … right?”
            “Sure everyone knows that.”
            “And it’s a physical reaction … right?”
            “Sure … wood burns … and people get warm … you can’t get more physical than that.”
            “Dark energy has to be intangible … a type of spiritual force!”
Chloe laughed. “Alvin, I think you’ve just solved the mysteries of heaven and Earth and we now have a scientific reason for why prayer works.” She picked up both bags, put an arm around him and they started walking again. “Do us both a favor my friend and don’t tell Reverend White or any of his snooty parishioners about this. They don’t burn witches in Europe or America anymore, but that doesn’t mean the religious community in Cloverdale won’t burn a Devil.”


             Terrell twisted Mike’s arm when he heard footsteps on the bridge overhead. Mike was already in agony from the knife wound and he made a feeble cry. “Tell them you’ve fallen and you need help!” Terrell twisted the arm harder this time nearly pulling it from the socket. “Help me … My God! Someone help me!” Mike screamed.

Chloe was the first to hear the cry for help. “It sounds like someone is under the bridge and they’re hurt,” she said.
Alvin looked over the bridge railing. “If they’ve fallen in, they probably can’t get out,” he said. “This canal has been recently scooped-out and the sides must be eight feet deep.”
             “That’s how he climbed down!”  Chloe found the rope tied to the tree. “Whoever it is must have slipped and broken his leg.”
            “Someone has to stay up here and pull you both up,” Chloe told him as she tied the rope around his waist. “And that looks like me. As long as this guy is not as big as an elephant I should be able to pull him out. Just drag him out from under the bridge and tie the rope around his waist like I’m doing to you and I’ll do the rest.”
Alvin gulped as Chloe lowered him into the dry canal. “I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” he whimpered.


Alvin was still trying to see in the dim light under the bridge when Terrell grabbed him from behind and held his hand over his mouth. “You tell that nanny goat you’re with that you need some help and she’ll have to come down … understand?” He relaxed his hand just a bit so Alvin could answer. “Go to hell you bastard,” Alvin snarled. Terrell quickly put his hand back and twisted Alvin’s head as he dragged him farther under the bridge. This wasn’t going as planned but it still might work out. He struck Alvin once with his fist and the nerd was out cold. “She’ll come looking for him,” Terrell whispered to himself, “and when she does they’ll be no more trip trapping on my bridge. Terrell sat on the ground next to Alvin’s limp body and played with his father’s stolen knife. He could almost taste the almonds.
Chloe leaned over the bridge railing and yelled for the third time … there was no answer. “What the hell is going on down there?” she muttered as she began to descend the rope.


Terrell Adams could see the girl as a dark silhouette just before she walked under the bridge. Her eyes would take a minute to adjust to the light … now was the time to strike! Something grabbed his pant-leg. It was the nerd; he was awake. “Leave her alone,” Alvin sobbed. “She’s my best friend.”
Terrell laughed and kicked Alvin with his boot. “It’s too late … she’s mine!” he thundered.
            “It’s never too late!” Chloe said. When Terrell turned she spayed his eyes with something that made them feel like they were on fire.
            “I’ll kill you … I’ll kill you all he screamed as he thrashed on the ground.
            “Come on Alvin.” She helped him to his feet. “My dad always makes me carry pepper-spray with me where ever I go. There was only one charge and he’ll be able to see in about a minute.”
            “Don’t leave me down here,” Alvin begged.
            “I won’t … I promise,” Chloe assured him as she dragged him to the rope. “Hang on! I think I can haul us both out.”
Alvin put his arms around Chloe’s neck and she began to pull them both up the steep sides. They were almost to the top when the rope broke. They both crashed into the bottom of the canal. Chloe could hear Terrell howling from under the bridge. “I see both you goats now!” he thundered.
            “Take my hand we have to try to get to the pumping station,” Chloe told Alvin. Then she ran dragging her friend.
Terrell smiled as he followed them with an easy pace. He’d been in the pump buildings many times. They were three converted grain silos connected by short hallways. You could enter from the canal through the large intake pipes but the doors were all locked. Terrell began to whistle. He had the goats trapped and he could smell the almonds.

                Chloe tried the last door in the last building and it was locked too.  Her voice echoed in the tall metal structure. “I know you’re exhausted, but we have to get back in the canal and keep going. He’s out of his mind and he has us trapped in here.”
            “I think it’s too late,” Alvin told her. They heard Terrell beating his fists on the sides of the metal building and bellowing as he entered the first building. “I’m the big ugly Troll … and I’m going to eat till I’m full!”
            “We have to fight him,” Chloe said.
            “He’s too big and he has a knife,” Alvin whispered.
Terrell had searched the first building and was moving into the second. Chloe and Alvin were crouched behind a huge water pump. “There just isn’t any place to hide in here,” Chloe moaned.
Terrell was raging again and pounding on the walls as he came. “I’ll cut of your hoofs to make my stew … I’d be scared if I were you!”
            “Close your eyes and make your mind blank,” Alvin told her.
            “What? Are you trying to teach me meditation at a time like this?” Chloe was frantic.
Terrell Adams was scraping the knife-blade along the metal sides.  Chloe heard him enter the room but he seemed somehow distant. “I’ll cut off your heads,” he promised.”
            “Just close your eyes and clear your mind of all thoughts,” Alvin said. She felt him take her hand in his. “Please … just trust me.”
Terrell Adams was scraping the knife-blade along the metal sides.  Chloe heard him enter the room but he seemed somehow distant. “I’ll cut off your heads,” he promised.”
Chloe thought she could hear a siren from an ambulance or a police car … but it seemed very far away. She felt at peace … warm and a kind of floating feeling.  Had they both already been stabbed? Is this what it feels like to die?
Chloe opened her eyes once and saw Terrell Adams struggling with police officers as she and Alvin floated next to the ceiling. She closed her eyes again and heard the officers and others talking long after the police had dragged Terrell away. Mike Lee had clawed his way up the steep embankment and crawled out onto the road.  It’s amazing what people can do, when they want to save their lives.
It was only minutes after the investigators left, that she felt her and Alvin begin to descend.
            “Why didn’t anyone see us?” she asked when they were safe on the ground.
            “I wrapped us in the dark matter threads,” Alvin told her. “They‘re invisible … and also anti-gravity.”
            “Did anyone ever tell you that you’re a genius?” Chloe kissed him so hard his pop-bottle lenses fell off and bounced off an old rusty water-pump motor.
Alvin laughed as he picked up his broken glasses. “Love really is blind,” he said.


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