Friday, December 13, 2013

The Fields Chapter 1: My Name is Derek Fields

(Author's note: I planned on writing and publishing something much bigger and better thought out, but I sort of got bored of the idea and then I moved, which disrupted the whole posting-regularly-about-things plan. But hey, I figure I might as well write SOMETHING and then think of a better plot later. So here it is, my somewhat improvised story about crazy demons and combat and stuff. This is mostly just for fun, so I apologize if this ends up being really stupid.)

I feel the need to preface the rest of this with the fact that I haven't seen my family in a couple years. I still get regular calls from Mom, but for the most part I've just been working part time jobs to maintain my fast food addiction and whatever else keeps me entertained. The family as a whole seems to agree this is for the best. Sure, maybe if I told this to my younger self he would have felt some contempt, assume my parents don't really love me and that my sisters would rather worry about themselves. However, I've learned how to ignore most things that bother me, or force myself to stop caring. I've even gotten comfy with my cheap two-person car that was paid off using birthday money and a studio apartment that resulted from the same deal. Maybe 18 is a bit young to be living on your own, but that doesn't bother me.

My name is Derek Fields. I had just finished a 2:16 AM pizza eating challenge with my coworkers after a long day at the 'shop when I decided I should probably head home. I slipped out the back and into the unlit parking lot, intentionally avoiding my friend Julie so she wouldn't realize how disgustingly bloated and greasy I was. I slid into the driver's seat, exhaling, glad that my stomach was already conditioned for this kind of ordeal, but still unhappy that the weather was becoming unusually cool. The only thing I like about cold weather is that it gives me an excuse not to work out and train with some local karate instructor that my dad is friends with and my mom would complain at me for not going to until I actually do.

At this point I made an unconscious decision to park outside of a 24-hour convenience store. Whatever, I thought, might as well do some 2 AM shopping. As I stepped through the motion sensitive door thing, something between a shiver and a cringe coursed through my intestines, spine, chest and neck. At the time I just thought the pizza bomb had hit early, but upon later Googling it would appear this was something called Frisson. I was the only one in the store besides the owner, so I kept my head down the whole time attempting to dodge his line of sight. I hate small talk and I felt like I'd just eaten 26 2/3 slices of Tony's Grill three-cheese pizza, so precautions were justified. I gathered some essential items and cradled them in my arms before plopping them on the counter. Just some gum, a few cans of that 'healthy' energy drink stuff with a red cross symbol on it, probably condoms, a stress relief ball, aspirin, generic stomach medicine and two flavors of chapstick. Grape and lime. I heard the register tally up the goods and I took the time to rub my sleepless eyes. I glanced back up at a staring convenience store owner. He looked like he was trying to see through me, as if he glared hard enough he could turn on X-ray vision. I dug out some cash, flung it at him and swooped up the bag as soon as I confirmed I wanted one.

Slightly nervously tapping my foot next to the gas pedal, I threw the whatever-mart brand bag to the passenger seat, zipped up my black hoodie over my blue flannel shirt and threw my car in reverse. I half expected the owner to come trotting out of the store, but thankfully he stayed put. Now I have all the time in the world to plan out the rest of my week.

Things like the store owner don't really spook me. Maybe activate my fight-or-flight skills, which admittedly are dampened by fifteen pounds of grease and cheese but still sharper than probably 94% of the population. We have family stories that are so pants-shittingly terrifying that I have trouble taking dates to the movies. You may say, wouldn't looking brave actually help you in that way? Well, no, when you show nearly no emotion you tend to look like a sociopath, and that's not very attractive. Especially when you might accidentally chuckle at one of the characters getting called by the oh-so-scary computer generated graphics, because you know for a fact that there are things in the world ten times scarier than that.

Home sweet home, I couldn't wait to accept sleep's comforting arms and wait until my next shift in the warm daylight with Julie and Kyle and even the guy who looks like a homeless person. I figured, unusually, that I should probably shower first. Julie never says anything, even though Kyle does, when I forget to bathe, so maybe this time I can impress her. Which is why I didn't hear the Ham radio I keep tuned into one specific frequency blasting 'Fish Heads' by Barnes and Barnes until I opened the bathroom door.
Let me explain.

I only remember fragments of that very important day. We sat at a round table built into the Fields Manor, a kind of mansion and nuclear bunker mixed together. We spent most of our childhoods here. My sisters sat at my left and right, my parents sat across from us. They were explaining how radios work, how during a catastrophic emergency cellphone towers would probably be down, and that we would need a very distinct way of telling each other to meet at the bunker even if we had all grown up and lived on our own. My dad chose that song, he said that even if we wanted to change it it's better that we don't risk forgetting what to listen for. I had no say in this. I must have figured my sisters would be on top of it so I wouldn't have to worry, considering they were 5 and 7 years older than me. The phrase "fish heads" never really leaves your memory, though.

I stormed past the entryway, my heart pumping like an Olympian consumes food. I didn't even really have time to curse myself for being so stupid and having that daydream about boxing Muhammed Ali. Another fragment of memory sparked into existence, it felt like my dad was really there. "This is meant to be a seven minute warning. Now, the fact that this is even happening means that getting to the bunker will be dangerous in itself. You have seven minutes to grab whatever you think you need before you desperately need to get your butts over here..." I grabbed my duffle bag and smacked the plastic bag into it. My plan was to keep repeating words that sounded important so I wouldn't forget anything. Underwear, toothbrush, styptic powder, first aid kit, candy stash. I slid my old high school backpack on which unfortunately had a spray painted red X on the front. Rebellious stage, don't ask. I grabbed some non-perishable foods, extra coat, cellphone charging cable, cheap MP3 player I kept around so I could listen to "ass-kicking music" and some comic books I snatched at random. At this point I had no plan, I was so irresponsible that plans don't ever become thoughts in my mind, they never have the chance to hatch. Alright Derek, enough beating yourself up I said to myself.

There was one thing that felt like it was piercing me in the gut saying "Hey, you forgot me" but I couldn't think, I didn't know what it was. Panicking is uncool. I decided that was enough and stumbled to my car, placing the backpack in the passenger seat's leg space and the duffle bag on top of the seat. I wiped the sweat from my forehead, got it all over the steering wheel and tried cleaning it with a napkin that was stuck under the seat. Just fantastic.

In all this confusion, I forgot one small detail: I live over 5 hours from the Fields Manor. I wonder if my parents took this into consideration when they bought it for me. They may very well hate me after all, I muttered to myself. For several hours I slipped in and out of frustration, several times wanting to say "screw it" and go back home. They can deal with their own damn crises! My sisters are more important to them anyways, what's the point of me being there? I slammed the wheel with one fist and exhaled sharply. The street was an inky blackness, I struggled to keep my lids from shutting. Then my phone rang, the theme of Pac Man created primarily out of beeps and boops.

I exhaled once more, fumbling with the thing, trying to answer and hold it with one hand and just barely got it by the third ring. I mumbled a mix of 'huh' and 'yeah' into the bottom of the microphone. "Derek? Are you okay? You didn't call me or Kyle and we're about to open up in an hour..." Oh, shit. Julie. I shook my head, trying to make it sound like I'm doing anything but driving down an empty highway in the cold morning. According to her, if it's an hour 'til we open the store, it's 6:30 in the damn morning. I'd been driving for 4 hours or so. "I, uh, I've been awake all night with..." I trailed off, scanning the road, thinking I saw something but remembering that I might be about to pass out. "With food poisoning. Sorry, I should've called s-" I was cut off there, "Oh, no, no! That's okay, we can do it without you today. You should stay home. I hope you feel better." I agreed, smiling plainly. She was always nice to me. She was nice to everybody, that's how she operates. In fact, sometimes it almost seemed like she was patronizing me, until I realized that's me being cynical. In my defense, it's not far fetched to say I've developed trust issues from time with my family. I hung up.

There are things about my family that no one should know, a lot of them are things even I don't know. I can't impose that on someone like Julie. She's untainted. On that train of thought I considered trying to call my dad and asking what was going on, but then I remember he doesn't really talk on the phone. My mom doesn't have a number, my sisters have both changed theirs and I haven't bothered to get the new ones. Maybe they don't want to hear from me.

The weirdest part was that nothing was going on. All of the streets I visited were empty, shops appeared just fine with no signs of looting, buildings were intact. Perhaps the weird part about that is the lack of cars, especially since I was in the middle of the time people go to work.

Just like that, I jinxed myself. Sirens rumbled and whined in every direction. You might not understand the gravity of the situation here, but these aren't regular police sirens. Every single day we hear ambulances speed past us on the street. For absolute attention of its citizens, cities use things like air raid sirens and tornado sirens to intentionally disturb you and keep you from ignoring them.

This is one pants-shittingly terrifying thing I don't have much tolerance against.


  1. Um, I laughed at several parts. The pizza shop you apparently own. "Probably condoms". "Candy stash." All lol moments.

    I need to know what happens next because you kind of left it at a cliff hanger so its a good thing you posted chapter 2 already or I would kick your butt. (Which is totally possible now that we're neighbors.)

    Derek Fields is a superhero type name and I feel like he's going to run around being bad ass.

    The only thing I would suggest, is more editing. There weren't really any typos, but it's more things to do with punctuation or sentence layout that would make it better in the long run. But considering this is draft one and not the revised final copy for a publisher, holy crap it's good.

  2. Lol yeah, I figured "Pizza shop? That better have my name on it."

    I'm glad you found it exciting enough to want to read more!

    That's what I was going for. It's kind of fun to make names, it's also easy to make them sound ridiculous.

    This story was a spur of the moment kind of thing and I wanted the first chapter finished quickly, so I thought that it may come out like that. I'll try to edit the later parts more, considering I have more of a 'foundation' set for the story. Considering that though, thank you! It's cool that I was able to make it readable even when I didn't put a lot of editing in it.