Saturday, October 24, 2015

X Meets Y ... The Horror Edition

   This round of Chuck Wendig's Flash Fiction Challenge is X Meets Y ... The Horror Edition!  The Random Number Generator selected for me: Nightmare on Elm Street meets Back to the Future!  Please do enjoy!

Back to the Nightmare

   The speeding car grew increasingly faster as Nancy, Tina, Glen, and Rod banged on the windows, struggling to get out.  As their screams pierced the air, Marge tried to help them, only to be pulled inside the car.
   The hood started smoking as the car raced down the bucolic country road, driving the passengers to new heights of fear and panic.  Nancy's eyes grew wide as she saw the earth before them caving in.  Barreling toward the cliff, their death seemed imminent.
   Freddy threw his head back, as he released a menacing laugh.
   Suddenly, the tires popped.  The car spun away from the cliff, careening into the desert.  
   Nancy hit her head, forcing her back to reality.
   She looked around, realizing her friends were gone.  She was alone, behind the wheel, and apparently had fallen unconscious while driving.
   "Are you OK, M'am?"
   The voice jolted her.  She looked up to see a guy with a funny-looking hat.  She shook her head and squinted her eyes.
   "Wh-who are you?"
   "I'm Marty.  The fate of the world is in danger.  We have to go back in time to save your friends.  There's no time to explain.  Get in the time machine!"
   He helped her out of the car and put her into the DeLorean.  Stunned, she looked around at the high-tech car's interior.
   She could see how the car stopped; a string of nails stopped the car, subsequently saving her life.  She rubbed her head where she had hit it, still in disbelief.
   As he strapped himself in to the car, he explained what happened.
   "Nancy, you and your friends are the only ones who understand Freddy, who know how to kill him.  You are the only ones who can save the rest of the world.  
   "Doc visited the future, and saw what happens.  In the future, he terrorizes teenagers and kills them, one by one.  He moves from town to town, leaving a trail of murders in his path.  
   "For every kid he kills, he gains their life force.  Ultimately, he becomes all powerful and wipes out the entire human race."
   Nancy took a minute to process what she had just been told.  She took a deep breath and looked up.
   "Let's kill this son of a bitch, once and for all," she pronounced.
   Marty set the time back and explained when they were going.
   "Doc and I snuck into the Libyans' camp, and stole the rest of the plutonium to fuel the time machine.  Then, we took all of their guns and ammunition.  And trust me -- you'll need it."
   Marty and Nancy went to the sleepover, where Tina was murdered.  They snuck into the room where Tina and Rod were about to sleep.
   Nancy hid battery-operated alarm clocks under the bed, and in the closet, and everywhere she could think of.
   That night, as time Tina and Rod started to drift off, they were jolted awake by the first alarm.
   "What the fuck is going on," Rod demanded.  He and Tina looked all over to find the alarms.  "Is this your idea of a joke, Glen?"
   Marty and Nancy hid, watching the agitated teens bicker over the alarm clocks.  It seemed pretty juvenile, but they saved lives that night.
   The next day, as the kids went to school, Marty told Nancy the second part of his plan.
   "You're going to have to bring him into our reality.  When you originally did that, you didn't beat him.  But I've watched him, and I know how we can take him down.
   "We will need you, and Present Nancy, to join forces.  There will be unforeseen effects on you in the future, but it's a small sacrifice to pay for saving the world."
   When Nancy and her friends got home, Marty greeted them and told them he knew all about Freddy.  He then told them where he was from, and introduced them to Future Nancy as proof.
   "Oh my god," Present Nancy exclaimed, looking Future Nancy up and down.  Future Nancy took her hand and assured her: We're going to get through this.  We have to.
   Marty showed them his arsenal of weapons, and how to use them.  
   "Future Nancy is going to fall asleep, then bring him into our world," he told them.  "The second that happens, we have to kill him.  The fate of the world is in our hands!"
   Future Nancy got in on a group hug with Present Nancy, and all of her friends.  Then, she laid down, fully aware that it was a suicide mission.
   The next thing she knew, she was in a dream world again, surrounded by birthday cake and brightly colored streamers.  It was her fifth birthday party, the best memory of her childhood.
   She and her friends sat around a table, and the grown-ups brought them cupcakes.  She excitedly bit into hers, and a copper taste filled her mouth.  She looked to see blood started oozing out of her birthday cake.
   She gasped in shock, and looked around to see all of her friends eating normal cake and fully enjoying themselves.
   "OK, guys, it's time for presents," her mom announced.
   She was excited to see what she got.  Her mom brought around a big box that was too big to be carried.  It was bright green, with a pink ribbon tied around it.
   She couldn't wait to open it!  This was the biggest gift she had ever seen!
   When she pulled one of the ribbon's tails, the bow came undone and fell to the floor. 
   "Pop goes the weasel!"
   Freddy burst out of the box, fully extending his claws.  The children screamed.
   "Nancy, I've come for you!  I'm here to make sure you have a screaming good time!"
   Nancy screamed and ran.  She ran down the hallway, tears streaming down her face.  She knew what she had to do, but her old fears took over.
   She ran into a dead end.  None of the doors would open.  She turned around to see Freddy looming overhead, ready to strike.
   She ducked as he swung, and grabbed him at the waist.  As she tumbled, the impact woke her, and she brought Freddy along.
   "Nancy, run!"
   Nancy did as she was told, and ran past her friends as they pointed their guns at Freddy.  They all started shooting.  He laughed maniacally as the bullets had no affect.
   He slashed Rod, and watched in amusement as his body fell, lifeless, to the floor.
   "You want me, come and get me," Freddy sang.
   He disappeared, and reappeared behind Tina.  Her eyes grew big as the blade of his claw drew a red line across her neck.  He disappeared again as her jugular vein spurted her lifeblood all over the room.
   Marty ran, looking for Future Nancy.  He arrived at the kitchen to find that he was too late.  He watched in horror as Freddy carved her tongue out with a paring knife.
   Freddy sneered at Marty.  "Well, are ya gonna do something?"
   He slit open her abdomen, letting her entrails spill out.  "Or are you chicken," he mocked as he held up her liver.
   A dark pall fell over Marty's face.
   "Nobody.  Calls.  Me.  Chicken."
   He lifted his flame thrower and let loose on the scar-faced demon standing before him.  Freddy screamed in horror, begging it to stop.
   He was reduced to ashes.  Marty dropped his weapons, breathing a sigh of relief.
   "Glen?  Nancy?  You guys OK?"
   Nancy called out, "Is he dead?"
   "He is."
   Nancy and Glen came out to see the carnage in front of them.  She cried as she saw how her future self died.
   Glen held her closes as she cried on his shoulder.  Marty bowed his head in solemnity.
   Suddenly, a giant harpoon pierced all three of them.  As the teens gargled, looking around in wide-eyed shock, Freddy's laughter filled the room.
   "Did you think you were free?  You are all my children.  Forever!"
   "Freddy," Marty pleased.  "That car Nancy and I came in, it's a time machine!  You can go back to before all of this happened.  To before you were burned.  To before all of this!"
   Freddy laughed again.
   "Foolish boy!  Before, I had no power!  Now, I have more power than ever!  And it grows with every kill!
   "I am a horrible, vengeful god!  I destroy at will!  And nothing can stop me!"
   The teens gurgled up blood as Freddy laughed in their faces.
   "Did you like how all of this went down, because I sure had a good time," Freddy taunted.  "In fact, I think I'll keep doing this!  Using the DeLorean, I can travel back in time, and kill each of you a different way each time!"
   He laughed maniacally as the three watched helplessly.
   As he climbed into the DeLorean, he winked at the teens.
   "This is going to be fun!"

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Devastating Battle I Didn't See Coming

This week's Flash Fiction Challenge is to Tell a Story From Your Life. I'm going to share what it was like to receive a diagnosis for a disease I didn't even know existed.

The Devastating Battle I Didn't See Coming 

   Tears streamed down my face as I listened to the doctor's words. 
   "There's a mass in your left eye.  We're not sure what it is."
   The only thing that ran through my head was cancer.  I was terrified that I would lose my eye.  
   He said he would send the images to a specialist, and schedule an appointment for me to be seen.
   I was completely taken by surprise.  The only symptom at the time was a small, dark spot in my vision that made it hard to see whenever I was applying eyeliner to my right eye (because when I do this, I close that eye, relying solely on the left eye to see for application).  
   When the problem arose, I was uninsured at the time, and decided to "wait and see."  But after a few months, it started to grow larger, and I decided to pay out of pocket for a checkup.
   I was still in tears when I left the doctor's office.  About ten minutes later, he called to tell me the specialist looked over the images, and she said it wasn't cancer.  She would go over the details the following Monday morning.
   At the visit, she told me I had Presumed Ocular Histoplasmosis Syndrome, a chronic, degenerative disease endemic to the river valley region.  Histoplasmosis is a fungus that grows in fecal matter from birds or bats along the Mississippi River, becomes airborne, and invades your lungs.  In rare cases, such as mine, it travels up to the eye.
   POHS acts very similar to Macular Degeneration.  Swelling inside the eye causes bleeding.  Bleeding kills cells and leaves scar tissue, and causes permanent damage to the central vision.  
   By the time symptoms start showing up, the damage is done.  The beginning effects are "Histo Scars" -- scar tissue along the peripheral that is undetectable without medical equipment.  
   There is no cure.  All you can do is fight it with regular treatments, and hope that it doesn't spread to the other eye.
   The treatments include needles, needles, and more needles, which is totally awesome when you're dreadfully terrified of them!  Throw in the added fun of having veins that either hide or move around whenever syringes are near, and you're in for a rollicking good time!  
   One type of treatment, photodynamic therapy, involves being shot in the eye with a cold laser.  You have to hold completely still for this one, or you'll risk permanent injury.  The first time I had this, my Nervous Giggling Fear Response was in full swing.  
   I sat there laughing uncontrollably for a good twenty minutes, much to the dismay of the doctor, the annoyance of the techs, and to my own embarrassment.
   A more common treatment, ocular injection, is every bit as scary as it sounds.  When I had to get this, I was terrified.  
   Since it was a busy day, it took the specialist a long time to get to me.  This left me plenty of time  to work out my alternating laughing/crying fits in preparation for getting stuck in the eye with a needle as I sat alone in a patient's room.
   But nothing would prepare me for the most terrifying thing: a metal apparatus shaped like a set of tiny claws that they needed to pry my eyelids open.
   They talked me through the process, but when they showed me "the claw," I panicked and started screaming uncontrollably like an ingenue under attack in a classic horror movie.  I had never before been filled with so much terror.
   When they were installing "the claw," I had to hold perfectly still.  It prevented me from blinking, which made me want to blink even more.  Which, in turn, made my eyelids incredibly sore afterward.
   I utilized my yoga breathing technique to try to calm myself, focusing on a spot on the ceiling.  A tech held my hand, and reassured me as the specialist injected a numbing shot, then the actual medicine.
   Despite the treatments, my central vision in that eye is pretty much useless.  It's like looking out of a fish-eye lens that has been covered in mud.  I can't read from that eye, let alone see to drive.  
   Thankfully, the peripheral vision in that eye is still intact, and vision in my other eye is practically perfect, so I'm still able to do all the things I love: read, write, and design.
   I hope the day never comes when I have to fight that battle with my other eye.  From this experience, I learned just how precious vision is, and how quickly it can be destroyed.  
   I became fully aware that it might not always be there.  Not just because of POHS, but because, at any time, there could be an accident that decimates something previously taken for granted.  
   At any time, a parasite could invade and feed on a precious organ until the source is rendered useless.  At any time, some unforeseen force could take away that which you never imagined living without.
   That's why it's important to remember what you have, and be grateful for it.  Your organs, your mental faculties, your very life, are all precious and fleeting.  
   Sooner or later, they will be gone.  Will you be able to say that you made the most of them?  That you valued that which you were given?  Every day is a gift, an opportunity to create, an opportunity to utilize what you have.
   Don't let it go to waste.