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Merlee's Grand Introduction
a story by Merlee Tomlin
Ferrets... Those are funny... Right? He thought pondering the possibilities that would make a good introduction about himself. First impressions were everything after all, and once those were tossed in the garbage and taken to the dump to be compounded into a fine dust it was like trying to put toothpaste back into the tube just to come back. The important thing was that he not butcher this wonderful opportunity, so that he could show everyone what was in store for them. Of course, his recycle bin certainly did not inspire confidence in him from the sheer number of trashed story ideas.
Perhaps a skydiving Ferret... With a mini parachute and harness... A smile spread across his face as he imagined the witty unlikelihood of the adorable rodent floating down for miles, terrified out of its wits. A safe landing into my arms. I could tell everyone about myself the whole time he's falling! A spectacularly decent idea. His fingers began flying over the keyboard firing off satisfying clicks to his ears with each punch of the keys. Itching started under his eyelids when he blinked, but there was no time to scratch for his hands were busy creating magic. His vision was less important than his dream. Writing was what he had to do. For years his English teachers had scolded him for his poor writing skills, improper grammar, and misuse of the word "irreverent". This would show them. This would show them all what fools they were, keeping him from reading what he wanted to read, and forcing dictionaries down his throat, or throwing punctuation at his face. No more would he be scrutinized for his lack of appreciation for the finer history of linguistics. He was amidst his own domain where grades did not matter, nor evaluations or tests. The pop quiz era was over. He was the king!
Suddenly, quietude. The fingers ceased firing and held fast over the keyboard as his eyes jumped from word to word between the capital and period.
"The ferret jumped out of the irreverent airplane."
Doubt crept into him as his smile faded. Damn, he thought to himself. The shift and up arrow keys highlighted his work, then the delete key sealed its fate. Ferrets had failed him. They just weren't the way to introduce one's self. He needed something concrete that could describe him. Something that spoke volumes of his personality; chipper and easily entertained.
A dog! No, Camel! No... So many ideas crowded his mind that an empty space opened in the pit of his stomach. Only one way to fill that. Food was the only answer he could come up with so he proceeded to stand up out of his computer chair with a dull groan that the seat tried to mimic with a high-pitched creak.
The door was not latched and opened without a sound. As nice as it was not to hear it sing its song, it wasn't like it mattered. No one was home but him: Merlee of the house Tomlin. His father was an engine smith, and his mother was a housekeeper/child nurturer. A mechanical engineer and stay at home mom were their official titles, but who was really listening? It wasn't like the microscopic organisms had panties to bundle. Do they even know what panties are? As Merlee tossed the important questions of the universe around in his head he started up the toaster, which he had just recently dropped an English Muffin into.
His t-shirt was a light blue color with a golden, feathery shield crest design from one of his favorite video games. On top of that he wore a black plaid flannel with red and white stripes crisscrossing up and down. His jeans were a fairly faded blue from constant use and white socks covered his feet. A peach fuzz speckled his chin, jaw and upper lip giving him a mature but laid-back look. In other words, lazy. His hair was as brown as his eyes and since High School he had been training it to flow from right to left.
Whilst waiting for his snack to finish he opened up the refrigerator to pull out the milk. There was a stupid yellow sticky note hanging off it for some reason but right now he needed to focus on thinking of what to write instead of reading unnecessary notes around the house.
There was a clunk as Merlee placed the glass on the table and a gurgling noise of the milk pouring into it, bubbles foaming on the top. Placing the jug on the table he sipped on the creamy white liquid. Suddenly the hairs on the back of his neck tried to escape their fleshy binds causing goose pimples to run down his spine. His tongue quivered at the rancid taste and tempted his gag reflex, but he held everything down as he gulped the mouthful.
He turned his head to the yellow sticky note.
"MILK IS BAD PICKING UP MORE IN THE MORNING
What if I made it an autobiography... No no no. I need it to be exciting. Something crazy that shows my true self. And not a dog! Or a ferret! Or anything irreverent! Taking those three out of the equation was like taking the wings off a bird and telling it to fly off a cliff. Merlee did not want to end up a pile of giblets on a collection of rocks.
The toaster popped the English muffin into the air and Merlee attempted to grab it in mid fling but only succeeded in smacking it across the room onto the hairy, shag carpet. Without a moment's hesitation he dove to save it from the depths of the five second rule. No way was he going to lose his snack to such a grim fate.
It sounded as if a life size rag doll had landed on the floor with a series of plumps when each bone hit the hardwood beneath him. Nothing injured, and to his relief, the English muffin was in his hand a couple safe inches above the ground. He stood up with a pompous posture, content with his work. Upon closer inspection of the bread he noticed a few hairs and some sand grains stuck on it.
"Five second rule never lies," he said and went to bite down to please his growling tummy. Before he was able to bite down though, he noticed a creaking sound down the hall. It was the middle of winter so all the windows should have been shut. That would mean a draft was not possible through the house. Not to mention his door was the only one open and that didn't creak. Or did it? Either way, the sound had stopped, and his belly was getting angrier at him. He lifted the food once again to take another bite.
It was even louder this time.
"Hello?" He said aloud in hopes no one would answer. "I never saw the movie 'Scream' but I can assure you, white masks don't scare me."
"I-I have a gun," he stated holding the English muffin behind his back.
It's just a creak, he told himself. There's nothing to be afraid of. He lifted the English muffin yet again.
"It's Merlee ya moro-Hey!" There was something in his room. Fear pecked at his nerves and told him to back away towards the front door and run, never to look back. He would run until he reached Canada, change his name to Stefan Ropanheifer, become a blacksmith and never have to think of this place again.
What's going on!? Someone had gotten into his room. But how? The windows were closed, there was no sound of glass shattering, and there wasn't anything he had that a burglar would find interesting. Not to mention, it didn't make sense that a burglar would shout out to the tenant by name. "What's going on?" He asked aloud this time.
"I have something important to give you."
Seemed legitimate, and his reasoning skills were starting to convince him (against his better judgment) that this person was no threat. "Who are you?"
"You know who I am," the strange voice answered. His voice was unfamiliar, but it was definitely a man's voice. Probably in his forties, with five o'clock shadow, scraggly, greasy dark brown hair, washboard abs, and stamina like a cheetah. I really hope I'm wrong.
"Are you sure?"
"You sit in my lap every day."
The possibilities rushed through his head as he tried to identify the mysterious voice.
He knew what was being implied there, but if it were true then he could definitely diagnose himself as clinically insane. Nonetheless, he advanced down the hall towards his room at the back. Slowly as he walked he stared at the door that only seemed to move farther away the closer he got. He reached his hand out to grab the door knob but it still looked like it was yards ahead of him. A little closer and he would be there. One step. Two steps. His hand swung and missed the door handle.
What was going on? His mind felt strange, and the vertigo was taking a hold of him. Hallway spinning, stomach lurching, he leaned against the wall continuing the arduous journey to the door. The taste of sour milk still lingered on his tongue. This was such peculiar behavior, and what a strange case of spontaneous schizophrenia.
Finally, Merlee was confronted with the door, and at the same time, a choice. Should he open the door to indulge his questionable conduct? Or eat his food and wait for the trip to be over. Someone was behind the wooden portal, or perhaps, something, but peace and healing was back down the hall.
His eyes clenched shut and he made the impulsive decision to crash through the door completely fulfilling his destiny. He took one step towards the door. Then another, and another. How did I get so far from the door? And another! He crashed into the door shoulder first, the impact sending a massive shock through his body and throwing him down onto the floor. The door remained right where it was.
"Ow," he said.
"The door's shut, moron."
He didn't remember shutting it, but sure enough the door was latched. To remedy this, he stood up grabbed the knob and turned. A feeling of bliss crept through his body, his mind cleared out all the waste that had been filling it, and his muscles felt every ounce of stress become lifted off his tiresome shoulders. Empty. The writer's block he had been feeling was gone, but in addition to that was his stories that he had already been working on. All his characters had lost their history, his plans for them, their friends, their enemies. Gone. It was just a simple vision that remained.
The door opened without a sound and there, beyond what was real stood a world of nothing. A white sky with white ground and nothing to fill it. Nothing but his blue, foam padded chair.
"Good job, you learned the complicated mechanics of a door. I applaud you."
Merlee flinched then composed himself. "What's with the attitude?" He managed to spit out.
"You ever had to deal with someone placing their ass right on your lap, and farting every ten minutes for hours every night?"
The chair brought up a good point that he could not refute. "Ok. What's going on?"
"I can't tell you. First, you must take this." The chair sat there unmoving.
Merlee waited for a few moments before saying, "Uh, are you going to do anythi-"
At that moment a loud whooshing noise blew past his ears as the wind engulfed him. Streaks of light swirled through the air at random until they all converged above the seat. The shining lights caused him to shield his eyes with his arm and squint a little until everything calmed down, allowing him to peer at the chair and what had appeared. A long steel sword lay across the arm rests. The hilt was embroidered with magnificent colors of royal blue and gold. Eagle's wings spread out at the base of the blade. Sharp it looked, with a fine tip.
"Its name is the Burden."
"Why is it named that?"
"I'm a chair. What more do you want from me?" His chair cleared its throat. "Before you take the burden, understand that ahead of you lies hardships you may not understand, but do not fear, the Burden will protect you. At the start of your journey you will be presented with a choice. No matter what you choose the outcome will be the same. Now take the burden."