Jack Pumpkinhead watched Tip curiously, but refused to join in the repast.
"I don't seem to be made the same way you are," he said.
"I know you are not," returned Tip; "for I made you."
"Oh! Did you?" asked Jack.
"Certainly. And put you together. And carved your eyes and nose and ears and mouth," said Tip proudly. "And dressed you."
Jack looked at his body and limbs critically.
"It strikes me you made a very good job of it," he remarked.
"Just so-so," replied Tip, modestly; for he began to see certain defects in the construction of his man. "If I'd known we were going to travel together I might have been a little more particular."
The Marvelous Land of Oz, L. Frank Baum
Honk. Honk. Honk.
The honking echoed behind her back as she ran through the forest. He still pursued her. She ran and ran and ran more, away from this danger, away from this terror, away from him.
Ha ha ha ha.
Even worse than his honking, was that laugh. That. Damn. Laugh.
HA HA HA HA HA
Those sounds only served as a constant reminder to run faster.
Keep on running. You can do it.
HA HA HA
You can do it.
She darted between trees, jumped over rocks, running, running towards civilization.
He was coming closer. Closer and closer and closer…
Ha ha ha.
Finally! Her town! Home! Away from this monster and his claws of death. She ran down the streets, half in fear, half in triumph as she attempted to look for her home. She could easily recognise it… yes! There it was! Home!
She burst through the door and locked it, laughing victoriously. She wiped her head in relief and made her way upstairs to bed.
Jokey the Clown was at the top of the stairs, his bulging red eyes boring into her soul, his cute pink costume belying his true evil intent.
She thought she had lost him.
But he found her.
HA HA HA HA HA HA
The laughter again.
She backed away slowly as the clown let out a devilish smile, licking his lips in anticipation, wielding the crimson hook in his gloved hand.
Blood. Blood on the walls. Her blood.
HA HA HA.
At that moment, Mac switched the television off.
He had no idea why he switched to that channel. Maybe it was just for intrigue. Night of the Devil Clown was getting tiresome, but these were the same people who made the abysmal Curse of the Cannibal Ghost in the Haunted House on Horror Hill. The film was lackluster; he didn't think of screaming, shivering or hiding under the covers. All he could think about while watching was how much he wanted cable and how life….
…life was dull. Just the same old hum-drum activities over and over. Not even coming home cheered him up. If only it gave him the same enthusiasm it did for that chick in that movie. His home was a dump, nothing more than a reminder of how far he had fallen in this lifetime. His apartment wasn't elegantly decorated, just a few posters, a few items of cheap furniture and some stuff from assorted charity shops. A pizza from Domino's was what was considered a 'big meal'. His Christmas and New Year parties were just solo events, combined with cheap snacks and an awful plastic tree.
Mac didn't want to dwell on the subject of his personal life for much longer; he just wanted to get to bed. Time to start a new day; he was sick of this one.
The rays of sunshine penetrating the dust-covered windows caused Mac to blink open his eyes, awaking to the bright sunshine of the morning. He ran through his tedious morning schedule of showering, shaving, brushing, combing, dressing, eating and of course, checking the mail. Same old, same old, bills, bills…
After checking the mail, he crawled tediously downstairs, out of the apartment building and next to the bus stop. The vehicle trundled across the street, nonchalantly hissing as Mac climbed aboard for work.
He worked at the library at the end of the road, paying the bills by working behind the counter, stamping people's books, that kind of thing. The minute he sat behind his counter, he bowed down and buried his face in his hands. For some reason, his job just seemed more of a…necessity than it usually did that day, thus he was in no mood to stamp anyone's books. Nevertheless, he did so reluctantly. Business was slow that day, just a couple of people came to his desk, one of them being some little brat with big cardboard books. Teletubbies…Barney…Blue's Clue's…
Hearing the name echo in his head felt like icy cold fingers running through his brain.
Since he had forgotten to bring spare change for the return trip, Mac was forced to walk home that evening. It wasn't too much of a chore, but still…doing this meant he had to pass by…
The Foster House, the towering grey beast down the road that leered at Mac as he passed by. The house didn't make Mac frightened, but rather…curious. Curious as to how this house could have escaped from a book of ghost stories, and why it looked the way it did. Dark purple shingles, boarded-up windows, a tall, castle-like tower, all protected by a rusty iron fence.
The house once belonged to Madam Foster. She and her house were all ghost story fodder, all types of things being told about her around campfires and in playgrounds. She was a witch. She was weird.
She was dead.
Yes, she was the first victim of the recent murders. Of course, it was so suspicious. Everybody was saying that her ghost was going around killing people or something similar.
"Oh, forget it," he mumbled to himself, "It's not haunted…"
After Mac returned home and ate a microwave dinner, he approached his cupboard, pulling from it a shoebox which he held as if it were an ancient artifact. Actually, one might call it that…
It contained photos, drawings, remnants of the past…
All these thoughts about how much in disarray his life was unlocked happy memories of his childhood, and how he wished his present life could be more like it. His childhood was almost perfect, marred only by his 'jerk' of a brother Terrence teasing him and beating him up at times. His parents considered him 'clever' and 'imaginative', he was always willing to help out, and wasn't considered 'too old' for the movies and books which practically created his childhood memories.
The best part, however, was Bloo.
Blooregard Q. Kazoo, a strange creature that looked like a blue Pac-man enemy with a mouth. Many dismissed him as an imaginary friend, but all Mac did was try to convince everyone that Bloo was real. They had a regular imaginary friend relationship: they played games, laughed, told jokes, that sort of thing. If memory served right, Bloo was a big show-off, demanding constant attention, but always was just a big loveable goof-ball. But of course, Mac's mother constantly reminded him that Bloo wasn't real, he should be ignored, and he was part of the reason Terrence always had a go at him. Also, because Mac still talked to Bloo when he was eight, of all ages to still have an imaginary friend. But like all imaginary friends, he 'disappeared' at about age nine. Good thing he left before a double digit age.
Alas, Mac still dreamed of having Bloo here. Maybe life would be more tolerable with him around.
Just then, he remembered it was Friday.
Oh yes, it was a Friday. An other Friday. And every other Friday, Mac went down to the pub down the road from his flat. The Cat and Clock. Just sitting there at the corner, always greeting him as he passed by it. There wasn't that much to do there other than have a pint of Guinness, but going there was still something to look forward to, and made getting through the week slightly more bearable. He didn't exactly have much of a social life, but the visits to that pub made him almost feel like he had one.
After grabbing an assortment of loose change that had lay on his bedside table, he set off. Despite the rain outside, he didn't put on a jacket, feeling his classic jersey and jeans ensemble was enough to keep him warm and dry. After stepping out of the flat, he stood still on the pavement for a while, though he didn't really know why he did. Perhaps just to have a breath of fresh air, just to look at the street lights, he didn't know. He did a lot of things without knowing why he was doing them, that was just how he was.
Feeling the drops of rain splatter on his head, Mac walked over to the pub, skipping slightly just to make himself feel a tad more enthusiastic. It wasn't long before he reached the Cat and Clock, and as he entered, he shook the water off himself like the place's former namesake. Stepping inside, he took a moment to listen to the music that played softly in the background; it sounded familiar, but he couldn't remember the name of the song. Comforted by the yellow light that shrouded the room, he sat at a stool, next to some random skinhead.
The mixologist, a rather bulky man with a thick moustache, turned his attention towards Mac the minute the latter sat down. Good to be noticed. "I'll have a Guinness," said Mac, plopping down two pound coins on the counter. Without a word, the mixologist poured Mac his drink and handed it over while snatching the coins. He was always like that. Guinness in hand, Mac decided to move off the stool and find another place to down his drink. While looking for a place to sit, he noticed a couple with their arms around each other, and began to wonder if he should be looking for a significant other of his own. Maybe not.
He finished his drink quickly, and decided, just for the hell of it, to take a spin on the game machine in the corner. Take one of the quizzes. In went the pound coin, some questions he didn't know the answer to popped up, and he got them all wrong and lost a bunch of points and ended the game. After that thrilling game, he just decided to take a look around. A poster on the wall announced a karaoke night. Maybe he'd go to it. He did like a good sing song in the shower, so he had some practice.
Just as he was about to sit on a seat and do nothing, he noticed someone approaching him. A tall, yet young-looking woman wearing black stood beside him, nervously grinning. "Hello," said Mac.
"Hi," said the woman, her smile growing somewhat shorter.
"Um, can I help you?"
"I just thought you might want a chat."
"Let's go outside, I need a fag." So go outside they did. Well, it wasn't every day that someone was willing to have a conversation with Mac, so he might as well take advantage of the situation. As he and she went outside, Mac couldn't help but notice some of the patrons of the pub were leering at the woman, making unintelligible noises at her. Or maybe it was him, he didn't know and didn't care.
Upon going outside, Mac noticed the rain had cleared up a bit, making the street seem a little more comfortable. The woman leaned beside the pub's front door, a lit cigarette resting between her fingers. Mac couldn't help but think she looked like a teenager, perhaps it was the rock band t-shirt she had on under her black leather jacket, so he felt a little uneasy around her, as he had never understood teenagers.
Playing with her cigarette for a bit, she turned to Mac. "Do you ever feel disappointed in life?"
"What do you mean?"
"Like, you had really great ambitions that you wanted to reach, and then one day, you realized the world wouldn't let you reach them?"
"Everyone has that feeling, I bet."
"I don't think we should be here. I think both of us are smarter than the people in there."
Mac shrugged. "Yeah, I guess I do too."
"You know, I wanted to be a famous sports player." This statement reminded Mac of when he was younger and had taKen those karate lessons. He wanted to use them to achieve greatness, but never did. He did like anything that reminded him of his childhood though.
Before he could reply to the young woman's comment, he noticed her eyes bulging and the cigarette dropping from her hand. "I have to go," she said before running down the street.
She probably had to go back home. Good idea.
Mac didn't think much about the weird woman or his conversation with her when he woke up the next morning. His first thoughts upon waking up were only that it was a Saturday, and he had Saturdays off, and thus, should enjoy his Saturday. How to enjoy this Saturday? He could think of no better way than just staying in bed.
RING! RING! RING!
Mac's train of thought was suddenly interrupted by the ringing of the telephone.
"Oh, hi, mom…
"What's the matter, mom, why are you crying?"
"What happened to Dad?"