Below is the second part of my serialized short story, Dovecraft High: Home of the Orcas (AND AN UNDEAD AXE MURDERER). This story will no longer be a three parter, as I realized it’s going to be a lot longer than I thought and will simply release it in more bit sized chunks as I continue to write it. Enjoy!
To say I was not excited to go to work the next day would be an understatement. I had had enough of the job itself because, shockingly, cleaning poop off of toilets and scraping gum off floors isn’t as much fun as it sounds. But it was also because of all the batshit crazy, unexplainable things happening. I know Big Macs are basically unfit for human consumption, but I never knew it was because they could magically disassemble to create frowny faces on bulletin boards. And the blood coming out of the sinks? Was that just a trick of my eyes? Like an optical illusion, like those weird 2-D drawings that look like they’re 3-D if you look at them at the right angle (I could never figure out those things)? And the doomsday prophecy scrawled in poop? If someone is crazy enough to do that, they probably aren’t bound by normal societal taboos.
My parents would have killed me if I took a day off on my first week on the job, so I decided to just muscle through it. If things started getting weird again, I figured I would just get a hold of Matt or one of the other custodians and made damn sure I had a witness to it.
The day started off pretty normal. I Dropped off my lunch in the fridge in the brick house, sat around as the custodians bitched about things like how expensive milk is getting before finally deciding to got up and start another slog of a day.
The routine was the same. Get the trash, sweep the halls, clean the bathrooms. Things were fine, although the first classroom I went into clean had a bit of a mess. There was a giant throw rug in front of the blackboard and it was littered with sunflower seeds, making it look like an MLB team’s dugout. I sighed, but I was happy that at least this incident didn’t have any sort of creepy undertones to it, unless it meant that the ghost of Lou Gehrig was floating around the halls.
I tried to sweep the seeds off the rug and found it made more of a mess than anything, scraggly hairs tearing off the broom and sticking onto the rug, making it now look like an MLB team dugout where Chewbacca was one of the starting players.
I would need a vacuum, I decided, something I didn’t have on my floor. 95% of the rooms in Dovecraft are hardwood or tile, which means there isn’t much need for a vacuum cleaner which means the Queen City School District felt it necessary to only supply us with one vacuum cleaner for the entire school. I was told by Matt that if I ever had to vacuum something, I would need to hunt down the lone vacuum. The school district doesn’t exactly have the highest standards when it comes to equipping its custodians. I began my quest for the vacuum on the 2nd floor where I found Darnelle eating a bag of popcorn and watching an NBA game on a TV in one of his classrooms.
“Hey Darnelle,” I said, knocking on the wall to get his attention, “you got the vacuum?”
“Nah, man. I think I Oswald may got it.”
Fuck, I thought, the lazy eye. I hope he’s wearing sunglasses.
I was about to close the door when Darnelle said, “Wait.”
“Yeah?” I said, turning to Darnelle.
“You remember me, man?”
“Yeah, I do,” I said, giving a slight smile to appear friendly, “Mythology with Mr. Peters. 11th grade. Well, 10th grade for you.”
Darnelle gave a laugh.
“Yo, man,” he said, “Peters was tight! I loved that class.”
“Yeah, it was pretty fun, wasn’t it? We watched so many damn movies.”
“And dude, half of them weren’t even about mythology. Didn’t we watch A Few Good Men in that class?”
“Yeah,” I chuckled, “Peters said he was hungover that day.”
We laughed together, obviously experiencing some real janitor on janitor bonding.
“Good times,” Darnelle said with a shake of his head, “now look at us. Cleaning for the motherfuckers that taught us jack shit back then.”
“Depressing, isn’t it?”
Darnelle didn’t answer, just gave a somber look at his popcorn.
“Well,” I said, looking at the clock in the room, “I need to go check out if Oswald still has the vacuum. See ya around, Darnelle.”
I left Darnelle to his popcorn and basketball and headed down to the basement to find Oswald. I figured it wouldn’t be hard, just follow the frightening wheezy noises.
But when I arrived in the basement, I was met by an immediately noticeable silence. There wasn’t any ticking of clocks, no rumbling of a mop bucket being wheeled around, no sounds of life threatening emphysema issuing from around the corner. I felt a cold chill and wished that I had decided to wear my long sleeve uniform instead of my short sleeved one.
Suddenly, I noticed there was a sound. A dripping.
Drip. Drip. Drip.
I thought a pipe was leaking and that maybe Oswald had gone to get some tools to fix it. I figured I would go to the sound of the leak and wait by it for a few minutes in hopes that Oswald would return. I headed towards the sound, which was down the hall around around the corner.
The dripping got louder and more frequent. Drip. Drip, drip. Drip, drip, drip, drip, drip.
The increase in dripping made me fear I would turn a corner to have a pip burst into my face, I luckily found that there was no pipe set to burst. Perhaps unluckily, however, is that I found Oswald hanging from a ceiling tile by his own entrails.
There aren’t many opportunities in your life when you get to walk in on one of your coworkers to find him sliced open and hung up by his own intestines, so you’re probably curious as to how I felt. I believe the word to best to describe my emotions at that point is “scaredouttamyevershittingmind.”
I had to blink to make sure that it wasn’t something like with the blood sinks a few days earlier, and maybe it was just another trick of the eyes. Maybe the lighting was just bad in the basement and I was standing at the perfect angle where a shadow fell on the ceiling, projecting a 3-D image of my freshly killed co-worker. That happens, right? When trying to blink the image out of my eyes didn’t work, I decided to rub my eyes like I was trying to start a fire in them. When I opened them my vision was blurry, but sure enough there was Oswald, hanging from the ceiling like a bundle of misletoe.
The dripping sound was from the blood seeping out of a gigantic gash in his stomach. It dripped to the floor, forming a crimson pool in the middle of the hallway. I was in a trance, heading towards Oswald’s corpse, unable to comprehend the scene. His face was frozen in an expression of horror that you would expect from someone about to be gutted, though his lazy eye was reliably pointing up and away.
I couldn’t breathe. My heart pounded. I tried to walk away but my legs just shook, like completely useless slabs of jello. I don’t know how I eventually uprooted myself and ran away from Oswald the Bloody Christmas Decoration, but the next thing I knew I was running around the first floor, screaming for Matt. I was sprinting, screaming, sweating. I think I may have even shit myself, but just a little bit, I swear.
I couldn’t find Matt anywhere. Looked inside all his rooms, checked the bathrooms, nothing. Finally, I decided to go up to Darnelle and interrupt his basketball game in a way I doubt he ever had a basketball game interrupted before.
I found the room he was in and saw he hadn’t moved in an inch. He had an empty bag of popcorn next to him and was now opening a new one, the steam pouring out of it like a volcano eruption.
“Aww hell yeah!” he said, digging his hand in.
“DARNELLE,” I shouted.
Darnelle jumped in his seat, popcorn kernels exploding out of the bag and onto the floor.
“Shit, man,” he said, stamping his foot in frustration, “now I actually have to sweep this tonight!”
I just stood in the doorway, chest heaving in an out, unable to figure out how to break the news to him.
“DARNELLE,” I repeated, “OSWALD.”
Did that get the point across?
“Yeah, man,” Darnelle said, brushing errant popcorn kernels off his lap, “Oswald. What about him?”
“HE’S…HE’S…” I just trailed off.
“Man, you talking about his lazy eye? That’s fucked up man, he’s sensitive about that.”
I shook my head and grunted in disagreement.
“Lazy eye, dead eye, whatever you want to call it. Po-tay-toe, po-tah-toe man.”
“OSWALD. IS. DEAD.”
Darnelle looked at me with skepticism, as if this is something has come up a few times before.
“He’s naroleptic, man. Just nudge him, really hard. Or splash cold water in his face, I know that shit is like from cartoons, but it actually works.”
“COME. WITH. ME.”
Darnelle looked at the TV screen and at me, obviously having an internal debate. “Fine,” he finally decided, “you’re lucky it’s almost halftime.”
Darnelle set his popcorn aside, got up and followed me as I power walked to the stairwell.
“Slow down, man,” he protested, trying to keep up, “I have like four bags of buttery ass popcorn sitting inside of me.”
“OSWALD,” I could only answer.
“Yeah, man, I’m telling ya, he sleeps a lot and real deep like. You’ll see, he’s just being his lazy old self again.”
I rushed down to the basement, nearly busting my ass after missing a few steps. I felt like I was on a time limit, as if Oswald’s body would decompose to dust and blow away in the wind in the five minutes it took me to get Darnelle. Or, worse, I would have a horror movie style moment when there is no corpse and Darnelle calls me crazy and I try to convince him I was right and then Darnelle gets a machete through the brain pan. I just couldn’t risk that, so I hauled ass down those stairs.
We made it to the basement and I led Darnelle around the corner and-
“What the mother fuck!” Darnelle shouted.
Sure enough, Oswald was still there, swaying around in a leisurely like manner from the ceiling.
“SEE,” I breathed at Darnelle, bending over, trying to catch my breath as I realized I had been sprinting for the past 7 minutes. My head spun as I tried to stay upright, physically exhausted and mentally frantic.
Darnelle cautiously tip toed towards Oswald, as if Oswald was simply asleep and he didn’t want to wake him.
“He dead?” Darnelle asked, stopping a few feet away Oswald.
Incredulous, I replied, “Probably not. A few stitches should fix that up right away.”
“All right, all right,” he said, “don’t need to be a smart ass, just…I dunno…this is fucking crazy ass shit.”
Darnelle sniffed the air and shook his head.
“Speaking of shit,” Darnelle continued, “smells like he shit himself.”
“Yeah,” I nodded, trying to deflect the attention away from the poop that may have very well been resting in my own boxers, “I hear that happens when you die. The smell is definitely coming from him.”
“Man, fuck this. We need to find Matt.”
I finally got the strength to stand back up straight and nodded.
“Obviously. Call the cops. Coroner. Fucking F.B.I. Or C.I.A. I mean what the shit could have done this?”
As if on cue, a loud scraping sound echoed throughout the hallways. Darnelle and I jumped into each other arms, stared into each others eyes awkwardly and quickly released each other.
“What was that?” Darnelle asked.
Another loud, metallic scrape was his answer. It was coming from around the corner down on the other side of the hallway. It definitely seemed closer than before.
“Oh fuck, fuck, fuck,” Darnelle started to whisper, backing away.
I couldn’t agree more with Darnelle’s sentiments and started to back up as well. We were looking down the hallway, past Oswald’s corpse, waiting for the source of the sound to reveal itself. I couldn’t hear anything except the panicked breathing issuing from me and Darnelle.
“Fuck, man,” he mumbled, “I shoulda just kept watching basketball, fuck this, fuck,”
Another loud scrape, this time accompanied by a loud moan. Both Darnelle and I issued what I no refer to as “fear farts” at the exact same moment, which, in hindsight, is kind of impressive.
“Let’s get out of here,” Darnelle whispered out of the side of his mouth, “Back to the brickhouse. Matt’s probably there.”
We turned to head back up the stairs but were quickly stopped in our tracks by something we weren’t used to seeing: a large six foot man wearing nothing but a loincloth and a grimy sack over his head, carrying a large battleaxe stained with blood.
Two more simultaneous fear farts (again, our synced up flatulence is kind of cool when you think about it) and we started to back away from this freakish man. I noticed hanging beneath the loin cloth a massive penis, swinging back and forth like a mighty pendulum. I suddenly wasn’t sure if I was more afraid of that or the freshly stained axe.
“What the!” Darnelle started.
“Fuck is that!?” I completed.
We both turned and started to run, not realizing we had backpedaled extremely close to Oswald. We were now practically right on top of him, slipping in his pool of blood. Both Darnelle and I reached for Oswald to stop ourselves from falling, but our combined weight and the fact that your intestines are a tenuous thing to be hung up by resulted in Oswald splitting open even further and falling down to the floor on top of us.
It’s here when I realized we were probably in for a long night.
Darnelle and I found ourselves covered in Oswald’s insides and were both trying to shrug his mangled corpse on top of the other.
“Stop it, you take him!” Darnelle shouted, heaving him over onto me.
“Fuck that, you’re faster, I need to get up first!” I yelled, pushing him right back.
“What, I’m faster because I’m black!?” Darnelle protested, rolling Oswald back over to my side as I tried to sit up.
“Seriously, you’re going to throw a fit about that now?” I yelled, giving Oswald another hard push onto Darnelle.
A loud moan from above us made us remember the gigantic axe murdering fuck that made us run away in the first place. We stopped bickering and pushing and Oswald fell neatly in between the space between us with a squish, as if we were ready to settle in for a nice, blood filled sleepover. We looked to see Sackface (as I will henceforth call him) looming above us. He slowly raised his axe and gave a low rumbling growl. Darnelle and I both screamed, I think I may have shit myself again, and we both scrambled to get up.
Darnelle simply leapt from his back and started sprinting away, though he did comically slide a bit before gaining his momentum as his sneakers were slick with blood. I couldn’t get my footing on Oswald’s blood so decided to do a barrel roll away from Sackface. I guess those days of playing Starfox all night finally paid off.
Immediately after I rolled away, I heard Sackface’s axe fall and make contact with Oswald. I heard a sickening crunch and started to run away. I allowed myself to look behind to see Sackface’s axe lodged in Oswald’s neck. He must have aiming for one of us but we got away just in time.
He’s already dead, asshole, I cockily thought to myself just as I lost my footing (again) and fell on my face. I felt a tad bit dazed, shook my head to get the cobwebs out and turned to see Sackface had removed his axe from Oswald and was lurching towards me again.
I quickly got up and ran down the hall after Darnelle, yelling, “GOD DAMMIT DARNELLE, WAIT UP.”
“THERE AIN’T NO TIME, EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF!” He yelled back as he disappeared up a side straicase.
“THERE’S ONLY FUCKING TWO OF US!” I shouted.
I slipped a bit as my shoes were also fairly messy with Oswald’s blood, but managed to get to the stairwell that I had seen Darnelle run up. Well, at least Sackface is slow, I thought to myself, turning to see Sackface develop his lumbering gait into a full out sprint.
“OH FUCK.” I said, Sackface making considerable ground on me.
I quickly tore the door open and ran up the stairs, not bothering to look back to see if Sackface had made it to the stairwell yet. A loud, splintering crash a few seconds later was enough to let me know that Sackface had indeed made it to the stairwell.
I made it to the first floor landing and Darnelle was no where in sight. I frantically tried to think my options through. I could keep going up the stairs to one of the higher floors, staying in the school with this monster, or head onto the first floor, run for the main door and leave this hell hole behind.
Believe it or not, I went with option two.
I ran out into the first floor and turned to head down the main hallway where I would make my way to the main lobby and get the hell out of there. I saw down the hallway by the main lobby doors Darnelle, who must have had the same idea as I did. Obviously, we aren’t the most courageous or noble of people.
“Darnelle!” I yelled as I ran down the hall to get by his side.
He didn’t answer. He was standing still, staring at the doors to get into the main lobby, as if he had forgotten how doors worked. As I got closer to him, I realized he wasn’t staring at the doors but staring at something on the doors. I started to slow down as I got a clear picture of what he was looking at.
There was a long, rusty chain gnarled through all the door handles, effectively barring them all shut. Even more disturbing was a message scrawled above the doorways. The message cheerfully told us:
THE END HAS COME. PREPARE FOR DEATH.
Much like the message I saw in the bathroom, this too was written in shit. Sackface obviously had as much of a penchant for shit as much as he had for giant battleaxes. Darnelle and I were hypnotized by this turn of events, simply staring at the chained up exits as if the chains would uncoil and the doors would fling open for us.
“Is that shit?” Darnelle asked leisurely, as if he were asking the score to a football game.
“Probably,” I answered.
“Yeah,” I said, giving a knowing nod, “So, we’re not getting out this way, probably. Unless you have some bolt cutters in your back pocket.”
“What, you can’t figure a way to get this open? You went to college, man!”
“Sorry, Intro to Chain Disassembly wasn’t part of my major.”
Our debate on how to get rid of the chains was interrupted by the arrival of Sackface down the hall, who gave a loud groan as if he upset with us that we suddenly stopped running away.
“SHIT!” Darnelle and I both screamed and we turned on our heels to head down the other way.
“Where to?” I said as we turned the corner.
“Brick house!” Darnelle quickly shot back, “Maybe the rest of the guys are there!”
I heard the heavy thuds of Sackface behind us as we headed towards the door that would lead us to Cancer Court and the brick house. I prayed that that exit wasn’t locked up either. My prayers were answered when the door came into view and there were no chains or feces in sight.
Another heavy moan reminded us that Sackface was still on our tail as we reached the door to head outside to Cancer Court. We pushed through the door and felt the instant chill of the fall night. I saw the lights were on in the brick house and felt this was a good sign that there were others inside at the time.
We had reached the brick house and Darnelle tore the door open so fast I was surprised it didn’t release off its hinges. He practically broad jumped into the brick house. Before I followed after him, I looked back to the school door to see if Sackface had followed. The door was still shut but I didn’t want to wait to see it burst open and see him and his dong standing there. I turned and headed into the brick house, slamming the door behind me. We had reached refuge, at least for the time being.