Michael is the host of Mindlove’s Misery Menagerie for today’s Tale Weaver. Michael says:
This week consider the notion of collapse. What does it mean to you?
Intro: When I think of collapse I think of the end point in a temporal deterioration. In order to have a temporal deterioration, it suggests a structure of some kind, either organic, as in a life form, or inorganic, as in either a man-made construction or geographical structure.
For as many years as they had memories, Billy and Johnny remembered the red dirt hill with the house built out of the side of it, located just on the edge of their small town, Howden. When the boys weren’t at school or doing chores, they rode their bike circuit, up and down the multi-blocked streets, north-south, east-west, end to end. There wasn’t an inch of the place they didn’t cover at least once a day. Including the hill with the house.
They knew when Mr. Robertson was out of town, when Mrs. Simpson got another bonus in her check, when Mr. & Mrs. Jones were having a spat, and who Gus Mullet was dating at any time. They knew who had a green thumb – and who didn’t. They saw where the milkman stayed extra long on his deliveries. They knew where to earn a few dollars of spending money mowing lawns. Billy and Johnny knew it all. They were the only ones who knew about the secret of the house built into the hill.
The paint on the house had long ago been burned by sunshine and flaked off, laying in faded blue patchy sprinkles here and there in the red dusty ground. What was left was bleached grey clapboard on every surface. The windows were all intact except for one, facing the street. The glass of the intact windows had a whitewash on them that made it impossible to see inside. There was no sidewalk, nor were any footprints ever seen near the place. Except on the day the boys decided to take a peek inside the broken window.
They rode up on their bikes, threw them down, as boys are wont to do, and walked casually towards the window. Nobody was around, nobody was ever around, and there were no neighbors in sight. In other words, there was no reason for anything other than casual walking.
They got approximately ten feet from the window when a low humming sound became audible. At the same time the humming started, it was as if an invisible glass materialized in front of them, which they walked into. Putting their hands out and pushing, it felt just like glass, only it was warm. Billy and Johnny looked at each other as if to say, “are you experiencing what I’m experiencing?” Their eyes were round and their breath was short as they ran back to their bikes.
Both boys rode to Billy’s house first because Billy’s house was closest. They ran into Billy’s mom’s home office and blurted out what had happened. What hasn’t been said up until now is that Billy and Johnny were well-known pranksters in town, and they also often “cried wolf”; so when Billy’s mom heard the story, she just smiled and nodded. Frustrated, the boys rode next to Johnny’s house and found Johnny’s dad in the garage, tinkering with the lawn mower. He also smiled and nodded at the boys. After the same response from everyone in the town, they gave up. They never went near the hill and the house again.
One morning the town of Howden heard a great rumbling, as if being shaken by an earthquake. Then began an enormous screeching sound. Following the noise, they found themselves at the red dirt hill and the grey house. They held their hands over their ears and watched as the hill collapsed and as the house began to rise. Great laser beams like rockets shot out of the bottom of the house, and in an instant it zoomed silently up and out of sight.