I Learn What A Cheese Grater Really Is
I stared at my hand in complete shock.
My hand was in the wall.
My hand. Was. In. The. Wall.
This just isn't possible, I told myself. Hands do not get stuck in walls. They don't pass through a solid surface.
My shock turned to confusion, which quickly took a fast turn-around and morphed into horror. I stepped away from the wall, trying to pull my hand away, but it didn't budge. It stayed in the wall. I yanked on my arm with my other hand, desperately tugging at it. I planted my feet against the floor and leaned all the way back, and when that didn't work, I put my feet on the wall on either side of my trapped limb. When that didn't work, I turned around and tried to run away, but that just felt like my arm was getting ripped out of my socket, so I dropped that stupid idea.
I finally ran out of ways to try to free my hand (a.k.a. just hurting myself in the process). I plopped down dejectedly on the dirty carpet, trying to not get more depressed than I already was.
On the bright side, I thought to myself, I just punched a wall without getting hurt. I had wanted to punch a wall out of anger my entire life, because I thought that it looked really cool and tough when other guys did it, but I had honestly just let my emotions overcome me, and I wasn't happy about it, now that it had happened. On the down side, I thought bitterly, I'm dead. And my hand is stuck in the wall.
I sighed, a melancholy sound, and tapped my fingers against my leg absent-mindedly. It was one of those moments where you just sit there and think, Well, that happened. What am I supposed to do now?
The answer came in the form of a loud noise, coming from down the hall and around the corner, presumably somewhere near the front door of the apartment building. There was a tremendous pounding on the door, and then an enormous din followed, something like the sound of a door being busted down. I could hear the sound of the wood bursting into splinters: instant-wood-chips.
Voices entered the building, and they carried strongly through the corridor down to where I was. I didn't recognize any of them. They were loud, boisterous voices; most of them were male, although I think I heard a female or two in there. In all, it easily sounded like there could be twenty people; although, there could have been a bit of a game-changer in the fact that the people were being so dam loud. Again, I didn't recognize any of the voices.
I wasn't a fool. I still don't think I am, if I'm being perfectly honest (although I think my sweet, supportive girlfriend Annabeth would beg to differ). So it didn't take long to put two and two together. A door being kicked down? Lots of people? Loud voices? A single thought rose to the forefront of my mind.
As the voices died down, one voice remained constant and dimmed. I heard a gentle click come from that area, and it was a frightening sound as the the noise resonated throughout the empty corridor.
And they have guns, I thought.
What else could it be? They had kicked down the front door, because obviously they didn't' have the key. They had brought along a lot of people, because there was safety in numbers, and more people to do the job with. And they had brought the guns, because...well, it was either to be on the defensive team if cops or some not-so-friendly apartment tenants showed up, or to be on the offensive team if they felt like getting their hands dirty today.
The voices were getting closer.
I suddenly became very afraid. How was I supposed to get out of here? My hand was stuck in the wall! I had already done everything I could to try to pull it free, to no avail. What would happen when those goons came by here?
Immediately another thought popped into my slow brain, and I instantly felt a guilty weight on my shoulders when I realized I hadn't considered it before. What would happen to the rest of the people in the building? What would happen to the fat old man on the second floor who always wears only his bathrobe to get the newspaper in the morning? What would happen to the six-year-old twin girls who live on the top floor and love to jump rope and play hopscotch? What would happen to the snotty lady who carries around her ugly rat dog in her purse? I stopped, struck with horror at another thought.
What would happen to my mom and Paul?
Suddenly the voices that had been bobbing down the deserted hallways up until that point took on a face and shape as the burglars came from around the corner. There were probably around ten of them, which was about twice as much as I had been expecting there to be. It looked like I had slightly misjudged the gender ratio as well: counting them off silently in my head, I found there to be three girls and six guys.
All of the girls were wearing very revealing clothes that showed off a lot of cleavage, belly, and that persistently clung to their skin; meanwhile, the guys wore loose-fitting clothes that were so baggy and low, it was like the way they hung off their frames was trying to entirely cover up any body shape that they had.
Each person held a lethal-looking object in his or her hand, ranging from a simple pistol or knife to a club (like one of those that policemen used to swing around) or a bat, but there were some pretty strange weapons-of-choice in there that I normally wouldn't choose, and they only got weirder as it went along. I spotted a walking stick, a pillowcase, a frypan, a soccer trophy, and...was that a cheese grater?!
Even I had to admit: using a cheese grater as a weapon? That took some serious skill.
"Stop," said one of the men in the group. They had just reached the end of the short corner hallway that branched off from the main entry hallway, and had come to a sudden standstill at the frame of the door that led into this main stairwell. They were all clustered together in a group, listening to the man who had just commanded them to halt. The guy wore a dark ski mask (which I thought was kind of cliche for a break-in, but whatever) that helped hide his face while also keeping pinned down the enormous bushel of beard protruding from his jaw.
The throng of burglars was rooted no more than two feet from my legs, which sat, plopped in the middle of the route to the stairs. If they had just slightly turned their heads under normal circumstances, they would have spotted me. But obviously, with me being dead, the circumstances weren't normal. Still, I couldn't help but close my eyes and silent pray to the god or goddess of invisibility or whatever that I wouldn't be seen. Please don't see me, please don't see me, please don't see me..., all the while thinking This is so stupid. Why am I so scared? I'm a ghost after all. I'm a ghost. They can't see me.
"Looney, Ant, and Jeb, you guys look around on the first floor," said the same guy as before, his bushy beard bouncing up and down slightly as he spoke. "See what you can find. Anything valuable, take it. You see anyone, you tell 'em you're the cable guy. They start to ask questions, you shoot 'em. Got it?"
Three of the guys who I presumed were Looney, Ant, and Jeb (what kind of names are those, by the way? Pfft. Street names.) nodded quickly and set off to the left, away from the staircase, to go loot the place; meanwhile, Beardy Head and the remaining two guys and three girls moved to go up the staircase past me.
I closed my eyes and prayed even harder: Please don't see me, please don't see me, please don't see me...
They were right in front of me now.
I'm a ghost, I'm a ghost, I'm a ghost...
They didn't even bat an eye.
I breathed an enormous sigh of relief and let my hands flop absentmindedly into my lap as I watched the six baddies climb the stairs, one by one. I had been so nervous about them seeing me (trust me, I don't even KNOW why) that I had gotten a nervous pit in my stomach, and it groaned in protest. Was I hungry? If I'm a ghost, can I even eat? I wondered out of curiosity. Maybe there's some extra food in the fridge upstairs that I can- HOLD UP!
It was like a car had been driving in my mind, slowly at a leisurely pace down a winding road, but had just realized that it had run over some deer in the road, and it slammed on the brakes, stopping the momentum it had acquired at going 20 miles an hour. Just like that, the wheels and gears in my head backed up slowly to check on something that had just happened.
My hands, as in the plural form, had dropped into my lap. My hands. BOTH OF THEM! I was free! I stared at my hand for about the tenth time in absolute shock. The sneaky little bast***! How had it gotten out of the wall? Especially without me noticing?
You know what? I thought to myself as I stood up slowly, the way you do after you've been sitting in a position for a while and you need to stretch. I don't even care. It doesn't matter.
I planted both of my feet on the ground in front of the steps and stared upwards onto the second floor and beyond. Up there somewhere, there were six people, who were not only willing to steal from innocent people, but also to shoot them out of pure convenience, and there were three more of the dirty rats down here on the first floor. The thought made me practically boil with anger, which is really hard for a son of the sea god to do, believe me. I mean, I've practically got a built-in hydration system for this bad boy. Still, I could imagine the smoke pouring out of my ears and my face lighting up like a cherry as I thought about what would happen when those burglars reached the third and top floor where my mom and Paul both were. I knew them well enough to know that if they were this sad and broken over my death, then they wouldn't even put up a fight if a gun was forced against their heads. In fact, they might even welcome death.
And that's what worried me the most.
No, I thought to myself emphatically. I won't let that happen. I knew that I would protect every last person in this building, especially my parents, well...to the death.
I welcomed a challenge every now and then, after all. 9 to one? I could handle that. I cracked my knuckles loudly (although nobody would have heard) as I began to climb the stairs, muttering to myself.
"Let's get started."