Crick in my neck
“Is that the smell of popcorn?” TJ heard himself say. “It’s so dark”
“Shhhhh, that’s cos you’ve got your eyes closed fool.”
TJ took a sharp snort of air and shook his head like he was waking but he wasn’t lying down. He was sat fairly upright in a soft if a little sticky chair with wooden armrests.
“And now the main part of the show. I, Zomnision, will talk to the deaaaad!” A theatrical voice boomed over the sound system.
“What the hell, what’s going on, mom are you there?” TJ opened his eyes a slit. His head felt heavy and all his limbs were stiff and unresponsive. His vision blurred, slowly coming into focus, he was in some sort of large room, at an incline. Red seats in rows, low soft light, the sound of people chattering quietly, sighing, ooing and ahing at something on stage. Stage, there was a stage.
Tj scractched his stubbly double chin and looked around a cosy small town theatre. The stage below was that of a small comedy club backed by large red curtains.
“Bring out your dead mwuahahaha!” A cheesey voice cackled over the speakers.
“Who the hell is that, where the hell am I?” Tj said biting his tongue into a hushed harshed whisper.
“Would you shut the hell up” The man next to him whispered. He was a black man around TJ’s age, he’d never seen him before but the way he talked he seemed to know him. “Look, TJ, a guy sent me to come and find you” The man was young with short hair, average build, a coiled frustration under the surface. He had the air about him of someone who felt like they were doing you a favour by not standing on your face. He looked around cautiously. “We can’t talk here, wait til the shows over and we can go somewhere quiet and I can explain everything. Names Jimmy.”
“And what is your name lovely lady?”
“And who would you like to make contact with today?”
On the stage a guy wearing a sequin covered smock making him look like liberachi’s buttplug spoke into a microphone in some weird old time radio voice. He wore a strange swammy hat with an eye in the centre that looked like one of those googly eyes you get with the fake glasses and moustaches. He had a large theatrical hipster moustache which dated him but he was a good looking if slightly effeminate man in his early thirties. He had the manneurism of a kid who got into his mothers wardrobe and pranced around in front of the mirror in her pantyhose. Taller than average with a gaunt build. He was holding a microphone with his pinky out, talking to a fat woman in a moomoo. The woman had dull cow-like eyes and after thought eighties hair that look glued on.
He faced out towards the stage and spoke to the audience.
“What befell your father my fine lady?” He spoke with his hands like he was trying to communicate through intepretive dance.
“Well he was drinking some, I dunno radioactive energy drink I guess, had some of them err, isotropes or whatever in ’em and he keeled over.” Anna stood unmoving with her arms by her side due to the nervousness of being in front of a crowd of people. Still smiling as she spoke as she couldn’t help but enjoy the attention.
“Ah yes, well I think it’s time we brought your father out here and see if his spirit still remains trapped in his earthly form.”
Zomnision clapped his hands together theatrically. Two large ushers that looked like they worked nights as bouncers due to the fake tan and pencil thin beards appeated. They both wore black shirts that said ‘staff’ on them. They wrestled a man with a bag on his head onto the stage. As they got closer to the swammy he turned to the audience and said “Now will my lovely assistants show us the dead man’s face. For the eyes are the windows to the soul and I must gaze deeply into them if I am to read the mind of the dead.”
The two ushers looked at eachother, scrunching up their brows and said in unison “What he say?”
“Take the bag off his head” The swammy whispered with a biting bridled rage.
“Oh right.” They pulled the bag off his head and what was revealed was a man in his late forties early fifties with a face that looked like a rotten omelette. Green and dried up, wrinkled and gaunt but with no visible wounds to speak of. The look in its eye was one of confused sadness, like a clown that lost a bet shoved out onto a stage. It swivelled it’s head around looking at all the lights and the people. It’s mouth was covered in a Hannibal lector style mask to take away his ability to bite but other than that he was only restrained by the two men. The zombie itself didn’t look too threatening, he was of average build and height and of advancing years and didn’t seem too aggressive. The bag on his head was a precaution so it didn’t get too excited before they started.
There was something eerily staged about it. The zombie looked sedated and sterile and smelled like pine scented cleaning products. What was left of it’s hair was combed and was he wearing makeup? He was wearing a painters jumpsuit that was hilariously designed to look like a tuxedo.
“Good day to you fine sir. My I compliment you on your dress.” The psychic chuckled getting a laugh out of the audience. The zombie craned his neck and smiled a crooked toothy rotten grin as if he was in on the joke.
Zomnision’s face fell fat and got serious and he quieted the audience with his hand. “Now I will try to communicate with the soul trapped inside this poor creature’s husk of a body”
“What the fuck are we watching” TJ whispered to Jimmy.
“Just gotta wait for the intermission and I’ll explain everything, hold on a little longer.”
“How did I get here, where is here, who are you?”
“Shhhhhhh” An old woman in front of them turned to say. Shooting daggers at both young men.
“Quiet everyone please, I must have complete silence to commune with the spirits.” Zomnisions closed his eyes and put both hands on his swammy hat then making a diamond shape with his hands in front of the eye.
“What’s he saying Zomnision?” Anna said jossling the loose fat on her arms.
Zomnisions paused and breathed deep like he was concentrating. Without opening his eyes in a staccato burst of words strung together he said. “Your father – he says – he’s happy – and safe – he see’s clouds – your mother is there” “My momma is still alive”
“He meant – your aunt”
“He was an only child”
“He means in spirit”
“In spirit he had a sister he didn’t have?”
“Did he say anything about the money he hid under the porch?”
“No – he says he loves you and watches over you everyday”
“That’s not creepy at all” TJ said to himself.
“He did?” Anna looked surprise, her face started to shake, the waterworks were on their way, she clutched at the hem of her moomoo.
Zomnisions continued to talk touching the eye on his swammy hat and reaching out towards the zombie. “He says – He’s proud of you and he wishes he be there with you.”
“Oh daddy, I knew you care about me, I knew you really loved me.” The waterworks were running now, her lumpy face awash with mascara. She went towards her father to hug the shrivelled husk held in place by the burly ushers.
Zomnisions opened his eyes and turned to take a bow smiling. The crowd burst into a bout of uproarious clapping and he soaked up their adjulation.
“Oh daddy I love you too, I knew that night in the barn was more than physical.” Anna said as she started to loosen her father’s mouth restraints. “You do love me”. She said as took off his muzzle and started to french kiss her dead father, making disgusting soppy slappy noises with her tongue.
The crowd gasped. Zomnision confused turned to look at what the crowd were gawping at. He gasped as he saw the two ushers wrestling with the now very lively undead father who was biting chunks out of his daughters neck. Her garbled screams were drowned out by the hushed talking from the crowd.
He hesitated at first, feeling hot, a blanket of sweat building under his itchy spangly jumpsuit. “Err, slight technical difficulties folks, that’s all haha” He laughed uncomfortable. The crowds mimicked his uncomfortable laughter. They thought it was a joke or it was staged, there wasn’t an immediate air of panic, confused awkwardness. This had turned from pen and teller to a strange episode of Jerry Springer.
He tiptoed towards the struggle in a vain attempt at parting the lovebirds putting his hands delicately in between them.
The ushers were pulling from both sides but couldn’t seem to get any leverage.
The crowd couldn’t see what was happening because her back was turned to them. But it was all made quite apparent to them when they heard a guttural snapping slurping sound like a rope bridge collapsing in some old movie. As Anna’s head fell back hanging by a solitary scrap of skin like a morbid pez dispenser. A satisfied look on her face, one of her lips chewed right off. A quick spurt of blood shooting into Zomnisions face sent him reeling backwards. Spitting and coughing as he tried to wipe it away with an embossed handkerchief.
The crowd burst into a riotous cacophony of screams and started pouring out of their seats trampling eachother to get to the fire exits.
TJ and Jimmy were the only ones to remain. They sat dumbstruck as people all around them flew into a fits of almost old movie undercranked hysteria trying to climb over eachother.
TJ sat with his elbow up on arm rest with his hand supporting his head and mouth.
Jimmy was leaning forward shifting his weight in his seat he said “Ok I think we can go now”
TJ turned his head in his hand towards Jimmy and said “Oh, ya think?”
They then got out of their seats. TJ felt stiff and a little light headed but he shambled towards the exit, Jimmy intow.
Zomnision still on the stage called out to them as they walked away “I’LL BE HERE ALL WEEK”.
In the lobby TJ turned to Jimmy and said, “What was that freakshow?”
“Don’t ask me man, I just work here” He said without turning around. Jimmy was at the coatcheck, he checked out two thick winter coats and handed one to TJ. The lobby was small and plush with red carpeting and cheap looking black faux leather chairs around a steel circular table. There was a billboard next to the door with a picture of Zomnision in all his get up pulling a threatrical pose. The sign read; “Meet Zomnision, the zombie whisperer, he can talk with the dead”.
The coatcheck girl, a mousey blonde with glasses looked worried. She leant out of her little plastic booth and said “What was all that screaming just now?”
“Justin Bieber showed up”
“Oh” The girl said looking down as if she was thinking “Really?”
TJ took his coat and looked at it confused.
Jimmy looked at him looking at it and said “Trust me, put it on.”
TJ looked at the coat, It was an xl red parka with a furry neck and hood. He shrugged and put it on, his shoulders still felt stiff. He looked down at himself over his fupa and realised he couldn’t remember putting on any of the clothes he was wearing. Let alone where this coat had come from. He was wearing a generic black tee and a pair of grey sweat pants, charming. He didn’t recognise the shoes either.
Jimmy was wearing pretty much the same thing but with a white shirt. TJ still felt too groggy to turn the cogs in his head and see if that had any significance so he let it go. Moving the coat around his great girth trying to get comfortable, it was kinda itchy, felt brand new.
“Ok when we get out there, try not to freak out, I need to get you to a phone and the guy can explain everything ok.” Jimmy spoke with his hands in the pockets of his coat, moving them around like they weren’t. He was standing in front of the doors moving and he motioned with his head for TJ to follow. Turning and heading out the main entrance a great cold wind following in the wake of the open door.
TJ pushed past it through the door, a bright blinding white light stabbed him in the irises and he blinked hard. Cold pricking at the soft fat on his neck. He closed his eyes tight and rubbed them trying to adjust to the blinding white light. He opened them again as they got accustomed to it. Shading his eyes with his hands he looked down and he felt the crunching of snow. Snow, it was everywhere, all over everything, he squinted up and saw snow capped mountains, mountains he’d never seen before. The snow covering a town he’d never laid eyes on. He was in the parking lot of a large building with a weird shaped roof. It looked like half way between a Japanese mansion and a Mexican restaurant. A sign on that read; “Whitefish Convention Centre and hotel”.
TJ sucked in a lungful of heady mountain air and surveyed the parking lot with his hand over his brow, stopping and scrunching up his face. “Jimmy?”
“Yeah, TJ” He said with a hint of incredulity in his voice.
“Is that an anthrompomorphic wolf barbecuing hotdogs in the back of a truck for a group of anthropomorphic foxes?”
Jimmy sighed and said “Yeah, err, let’s keep moving.