I was given eight days and 2,500 words in which to write a story satisfying the following requirements:
Character: A baby
"I remember back when I was a baby, there wasn't all this
nefarious paedological activity," John said. "It would have been unthinkable! We were
content with the fair, hard-won fruits of our honest labour, and the thought of
organized crime even on the scale that you see in the rural preschools nowadays
never occurred to us even in our most selfish dreams," Murray said.
The three men leaned back on their chairs. Then forward. Then back
again. They were seated in identical rocking chairs on an innocuously located
porch in a rural town in southern Iowa.
The men on the porch were well known to all of the residents of the
town of Awoi, Iowa. John was tall and skinny. Murray was fat and bespectacled.
Rainier was short, squat, and always wore a mesh Best Feeds hat. Backwards.
Revealing his liver-spotted forehead through the arch.
John stood up, turned abruptly, and hobbled inside to get some water.
Then he hobbled back to his rocking chair and sat back down.
Ranier looked around the table, then said, with a slight smirk,
"Everyone'll be there tonight, I reckon?"
"What if something unforeseen happens?" Murray asked.
"Murray, we've come all this way," Ranier said.
"Well, then, you're just gonna have to trust me," he said.
Murray looked at him. "OK," he said.
John just grunted and took another swig.
"Good," said Ranier, nodding slowly. "Good."
The night hung heavy over the town of Awoi, Iowa. The three pillars of
the community made their way down the street from John's house, carrying their
provisions in carpbetbags. Three sticks. Three bags full of any and all
baby-protection paraphernalia an old man might need. And three mouths dry as
bone, three bodies as jumpy as newborn bunnies, three heartbeats fast as scat
They'd been planning this outing for weeks, and each of them had
filled his free time dreaming up any eventualities they could conceive and
And if any of them slowed up as they turned the corner of Dove Street,
the ancient house at 11662 finally coming into view, no one thought the less of
them for it.
For years now, the townspeople had wondered what went on in the
mysterious manse at 11662 Dove. It was officially listed as belonging to
Infantry Inc., a laundry service out of Dover, Delaware. John had researched
the company exhaustively and found nothing to indicate it was anything more
than a shell corporation. A photographic map search of the given area on the
internet clearly indicated the address listed as its headquarters as a
warehouse with "For Rent" signs posted on it. On one, someone had
spraypainted an "s" over the "n" and then added
Consistent with the head office, no one was ever seen coming or going
from the premises on Dove. Occasionally, a light would be seen on inside behind
the drawn drapes, but no one could recall seeing any beings in silhouette. Not
even Murray, who'd staked out the site overnight, though he feared he'd
probably slipped into unconsciousness a time or two, especially since he awoke
in the basement of the house in question with his fly unzipped, having dreamt
he was going to his own bathroom in his own house.
This was how the gang had discovered their in.
Ranier felt no need for confirmations of the fishiness of the
situation. His gut told him the whole thing stank to high heaven, and if time
had taught him anything, it was that his gut was more reliable than any piece
of evidence or law of science.
As John and Murray were psychologically reconciling their needs for
preparation with their increasingly urgent hopes that any irregular activity at
the house would, like most exciting things in life, turn out to be pure
fantasy, Ranier's exhilaration matched his certainty.
Despite the fact that Ranier had twice returned to the house since
Murray's inadvertant discovery and both times found the back door to the
basement unlocked, John and Murray both held out hope that this would be the
time it didn't open.
Despite being the one most certain there was something to be wary of, Ranier
walked in as if he owned the place. It was furnished, and clean. Otherwise,
there were no signs of life.
"Y'see? I knew this was all in your head," John said to
Ranier as he made his way to the stairs.
The first floor matched the basement - everything in order, everything
clean, no sign of habitation. John determined the most comfortable-looking
couch was the one in the living room and sat down on it.
"I think I've seen all there is to see," he said. "Now,
I'm going to sleep."
"John, as usual, your evaluation exhibits the measured, objective
thoroughness and patience of a Christopher Colombus," Ranier replied.
"I think this is more of a Stanley/Livingston situation,
Ranier," said Murray. "Clearly, no one's been in this place for
Ranier licked his finger, ran it alng the top edge of a bookshelf, and
held it out toward his companions.
"Then where's the dust?" he asked.
Murray was stumped to silence, but John answered, "There's got to
be a maid."
"I've never seen a car parked here," Ranier said.
"Maybe she's dropped off and picked up," Murray offered.
"Or takes the bus."
"We could have done all this hypothesising from John's
porch," Murray said, tossing his stick-and-bag into the corner. "I'm
going to investigate."
"You go ahead, and call me if you need help separating the normal
from the boring," John said, lying down on the couch.
Murray sat down in the Laz-Z-Boy, saying nothing.
The next thing Murray knew, he was being shaken awake by a hysterical
Ranier, until John threw a pillow that smacked him in the back of the head.
"Calm down, will ya'?" John mumbled from the couch.
"The bathroom! You have to come see the bathroom!"
Ranier's look, as much as his words, made it clear that they did, in
fact, have to see the bathroom - he had the wide eyes of someone on too much
methylphenidate and the agitated manner of someone on...well, too much
"Are you on methylphenidate?" Murray asked.
"This is not a joke!" Ranier half-screamed.
"Come on, Murray, you know
Janice threw out his stash after
he stayed up that night organizing their DVD collection by release date."
"If one of you doesn't come with me this instant, I'm bringing
down what's up there. And I don't think you want that."
Ranier took a step toward the stairs before Murray got up to join him.
As John put his head back down on the pillow, Murray pulled the pillow away.
going," he said.
The two of them followed Ranier up the stairs. Outside the bathroom
door, Ranier gave them each a sincere look and exhaled melodramatically, then
turned and opened the door.
It was a normal bathroom, as clean and tidy as the rest of the house.
Murray and John exchanged glances, but Ranier was already on his way into what
looked like a steam room.
Murray and John followed. Right as they reached the door, Ranier
flipped on the lights to reveal piles of body parts. The head of an old woman
who'd lived down the street stared at them as if she'd just shouted
"Bingo!" An arm sat on a nearby bench, the area that had been ripped
from the shoulder clearly visible, resembling a mass of melted earthworms.
In the far corner were a congregation of torsos, some arms and a stray
leg or two were stashed underneath the bench on the far wall, and what looked
like a few toes lay just beside the doorway.
When Murray realized the sound he'd been hearing was John running
away, John was already out of sight. Murray followed out of the room, down the
stairs, and back to the living room where they'd left their gear. Ranier followed
after them, more slowly.
"Oh my God! OhmyGodOhmyGodOhmyGod!" John kept repeating as
he fumbled to put his blanket back in his carpetbag.
"We have to call the police," said Murray.
"We have to get out of here," said John, as he fumbled more
ferociously with the blanket, and the remainder of the goods in his carpetbag
fell to the floor.
That's when they heard a noise in the basement. And froze. Then,
following Ranier's lead, they grabbed their sticks and bags and hid behind the
couch as the slow, light steps got increasingly loud.
Finally, four toddlers carrying a bassinet, each holding one of the
legs, emerged from the stairway. They walked into the kitchen and set down the
bassinet in the middle of the room. In it was an infant sucking on a pacifier. He
was clearly the leader.
Ranier's brow was moist as a spit rag. Murray had soiled himself. And
John cowered in the corner, fervently sucking his thumb.
All of the children stood (or did their best to try to stand) in a
circle around this Godbaby. He seemed to be communicating to them by sucking on
his pacifier. He varied the rate and pitch, and the babies occasionally nodded
The moment had come, Ranier knew. It was time to live your life to the
fullest, as the GeriaTricks™
commericials exhorted the
likes of him. He went into his deepest baritone, the long sound waves too low
for the babies to hear, and, though they'd run through this scenario only
once, half-heartedly, when Ranier was too drunk to be resisted, his compatriots
creaked into action.
Ranier slipped slowly but quietly into the hallway and thence up the
stairs. He winced as the top step creaked under his weight, but comforted
himself with the thought They're toddlers - it'll take 'em forever to climb
all those steps.
Murray stayed low and rolled out of sight behind the couch, the
contents of his adult diaper forming a new working mold of his buttocks with
John pulled his thumb from his mouth like the the pin from a grenade.
Just as with riding a bicycle, he found, you never forget how to be a soldier -
his 'Nam training came back in a snap. He'd taken evasive manoeuvers and
positioned himself in a shadowed corner of the basement right before the munitions squad exited the armory.
His hand still dripped from his quick visit to the bathroom. The squad, of
about half a dozen, came wobbling by, cocking rifles and dragging ammo. As he
fought hard to swallow his disgust at their freshly powdered scent, he noticed
the female drop something, and he silently reached out and picked up the slimy
piece of detritus.
He waited until the enemy line had mostly disappeared up the stairs.
As the final toddler neared the doorway, John did his best to clear his mind of
all worry, then flicked the chosen object of distraction in the direction of
the kid in the rear of the group with the gear.
He'd imagined the object smartly striking the wall just behind the
toddler's left ankle, then rolling down a step or three. Unfortunately, he'd
overestimated how long it'd been since he'd toed the rubber, or maybe
underestimated how different his chosen projectile was from a spit-slicked
Regardless, the chucked fup-pup struck the terminal toddler squarely
between the shoulder blades.
"Shit!" John mouthed, as he sunk back down and hoped.
The rugrat was either braver than he'd expected, or stupider, John
thought, as the kid turned and backtracked with nary a word to his platoon.
John leaned toward stupider.
The kid picked up the pacifier at the bottom of the stairs, turned it
around in his hand, and then began looking around the room.
'kid wouldn't have lasted a minute against Charlie
, John thought as he unfolded himself from the corner, clocked the kid
over the head with a brick he'd pulled from the top tank of the toilet - Maybe
environment can save
he thought - and dragged the
knocked-out toddler to take his spot amongst the shadows, relieving him of the
mini-arsenal he wouldn't be needing for a spell. Then, thinking better of it,
he grabbed the knife off the kid's belt and slit his throat with it, darn near
cutting all the way through.
"Just to be safe," he told himself.
You're just gonna have to trust me
words rang in his ears as he stood behind the bathroom door. He heard the
pitter-patter of little feet retracing the path he'd just taken. He could see
their reflection in the mirror as they summited the stairs. One went left, and
one came toward him. As Ranier craned his neck to keep them in the mirror, the
floorboard beneath him creaked. They both came right for him. As soon as the
second stepped beyond the door, Ranier kicked the door shut, grabbed the
toddler from behind, and snapped his neck like a fresh carrot. He then swung
the limp body as hard as he could, the feet striking the other toddler in the
face. Ranier didn't know whether the kid went unconscious before a couple of
his bloody teeth hit the mirror - all he knew was that, a second later, he had
stripped them each of a knife and was slipping into the master bedroom.
As he lay there, he heard what sounded like a drunken army mounting
the steps, mumbling, fumbling, and slowly advancing. Then he heard the sound of
a gun cocking, and his stomach dropped. Then he heard a chorus of guns cocking,
and his bladder evacuated. He was one man with two knives. They were a dozen babies
with loaded guns.
They headed straight for him. He was done. He knew it. "I'm goin'
out big," he thought, and, putting a knife in each hand, sprang up to
The gunfire was immediate and overwhelming. He was surprised at how
boring death was. He felt as if he were just standing there, in blackness.
Then, finally, he heard it - the voice.
"Ranier! Stop standing there like an idiot! Let's move!"
He opened his eyes to see John standing in front of him, a sea of bloodied toddlers in his wake.
"I know," John said, "Nick of time. You can thank me
later. Let's go!"
The two ran down the stairs to find Murray at the front door.
"Murray! Let's move!" John shouted, dragging Ranier behind
him. But Murray just stood there.
"It's OK," he said. "It's OK now. It's all over."
He was looking toward the kitchen.
In the kitchen, in the bassinet, lay the Godbaby, a diaper strapped
over his face, his sucking muffled and belaboured.
Then, before their eyes, the diaper dropped into the otherwise empty
bassinet. John ran up the steps.
"They're gone! They're all gone!"
The three of them sat in silence, the sound of sucking nowhere to be heard.