Tree House of Horror
"And now we go to today's weather report. Looks like today's going to be hot, hot, hot, once again, ladies and gentlemen! Hot enough to fry an egg wouldn't you say, Bill? Better stay indoors and get around to getting that AC fixed, folks, because this heat wave isn't going to let up any time soon! Once again the date is August 15 in the year-"
I flick off the station on the dashboard, keeping one eye on the road. Not many people can look in two completely different directions at once, but I had trained myself in the art long ago. It's a handy skill when driving, but I can't really do it when any police are around. I found out that they tend to pull people over when they see their eyes popping in two different directions.
Just as the obnoxious man on the radio said, it's sweltering hot, the sun high in the sky. Luckily, the windows of Mr. Burns' very expensive limousine are tinted. Even the sleek white glare of the black paint comes in as a kind of dulled brownish-gray. Perfect for Mr. Burns' eyes, which, in a strange sort of paradox, somehow to be both cloudy and sensitive to light.
From the back of the limo, I hear Mr. Burns grumble, "These so-called 'weather reports' are completely unnecessary! Any inbred fool can tell it's hot outside."
"Yes, I agree, sir," I said, without hesitating. He's made this same observation at least four times before, but I agree anyway. I don't really mind. I'd have nothing to do today if it weren't for this.
The car comes to a stop as I glance at the stop sign at the corner. A line of people pass in front of the car, some of them skipping, some of them shuffling along sullenly under the heat, not one of them glancing toward the cars waiting in the street. I heard a splat as something broke against the rear bumper. No doubt someone throwing eggs again. Thank God Mr. Burns didn't hear it. I make a mental note to clean it off later as the car moves on again.
"You know," says Mr. Burns suddenly, "I really hate summer."
I raise an eyebrow, a little surprised. What had brought this on all the sudden? "What do you mean, sir?" I ask.
"Well…" Mr. Burns seems to falter. His gaze drifts outside. "For one thing, there are far too many children about," he says, keeping his eyes narrowed on a group of laughing boys running down the sidewalk.
I make a noncommittal sound, though Mr. Burns' hatred of all things good sometimes makes me a little uncomfortable. Besides, it is pretty nice outside, despite the heat. "Well, it is summer break," I say. "Give it another month, and they'll be out of sight again."
"Another month," says Burns absently, an odd tone in his voice. "Yes…"
I drive on. I hadn't turned around to check, but I could have sworn I saw Homer Simpson's son in the group we had just passed. Kids. Does time go by that fast?
There's another intersection coming up. The streetlight is a little far ahead, but I can see it if I squint, a tiny dot of red switching to green. I speed up a little, knowing that Mr. Burns doesn't like to be late to anything ever, even though I explained to him, over and over again, that a Sunday drive doesn't really need to have a schedule.
"Is there a season you do like, sir?" I ask him, out of curiosity.
"Oh, I don't know," he says. "What season did you say it would be next month?"
"I didn't, sir. It'll be-"
Suddenly, I freeze, swallowing my next word. The streetlight changes to yellow, then jumps abruptly to red. I stare at the glaring red light, mind racing, panicking. It can't be red yet! It's too soon! And it's too late. I'm already past the curb, in the street. It's too late to stop.
And when I turn my head to the right and see the truck, it's too late to do anything about that, too.
I don't know who screams. It might be me, but I'm paralyzed. I don't know what to do, how to get out of this. It's sort of like the time we accidentally ran over Simpson's son, only this time it's a thousand times worse because it's our blood that spraying everywhere, and the car is spinning out of control, and I hear things slamming and glass breaking and I don't know how to make it stop…
When it's over, when it finally stops, I raise my head from the airbag and look up. My glasses are cracked, and I feel blood trickling down my temple. I can feel the airbag deflating underneath me as people scramble around outside, a lot of them yelling. Someone is shouting orders; there are women crying. My head is throbbing, and there's a fog in my head.
"Oh my God!"
"Are they okay?"
"Who is it?"
"It's just Burns' car. Lousy bastard."
"Check on the drivers!"
"I think the one in the limo is coming around."
Someone is yanking open the door next to me. I blink groggily at the sunlight. Waves of heat start pouring in. Someone else is pulling on my arm, trying to get me out of the car. What for? I wonder vaguely. Everyone is yanking and pulling and yelling at me, the idiot who ran the red light, but they don't say that now.
I take a slow step out and look around. The limo took the worst of the damage. The right side is all scrunched in, the front of the truck resting against where it twisted into a V. There's smoke everywhere. Someone is waving their cellphone light in my eyes. I look away, still blinking, wishing they would go away.
"Get that guy out of the back!"
"No! Don't move him! He looks bad."
"Jesus Christ, look at that…"
The guy in the back? Wha-?
Suddenly, my mind snaps awake. Monty…
Oh my God! No!
"Where is he?" I ask.
"Calm down, man," someone near me says. He puts his hand on my shoulder.
I glare at him. Idiot. Did I stutter? "Get out of the way!" I snap, my teeth clenching, shoving him aside. I run to the backseat, not feeling the pounding in my head, ignoring the shouts of protest and the grabs at my arm. Mr. Burns? Where's Mr. Burns?
I stop, staring, before the back window on the left side. The window is cracked, little spider fingers crawling over it, meeting in a single sting in the middle. Amidst the silver and brown of the dark, cracked glass, I see an even darker brown splattered on the inside like paint. I suddenly realize how foul the air is.
"M-Mr. Burns…?" I whisper to the window. As if it could hear me. As if… I take a few slow steps toward it. Faintly, if you squint throw the cracks and the smear of brown, you can see a round, broken shape, lying still against the window. Too still… Too wet.
The shape rolls against the window and quickly plummets down, out of sight.
"Mr. Burns!" I don't even realize it, but I'm banging on the car door like a lunatic, tears are blurring my eyes, and all I can do is keep screaming his name. "Mr. Burns! Monty! MONTY!"
I feel yet another hand on my shoulder. "Easy there," someone says. "The ambulance is on the way…"
"It's gonna be okay, buddy. You just calm down."
Calm down. Morons. Morons! Don't they get it? Don't they understand? They're telling me to be calm and that it'll be okay when Mr. Burns. Isn't. Breathing!
"Get your hands off me!" I snap, and as I hear a woman cry, "Wait, don't!" I wrench the car door open.
It's the smell that hits me first, raw, rusted, dirty… The human body, his glorious body, so filthy once it's burst and splattered all over. All over the hot leather and metal and silver. The smell would have made my eyes water if the fear and madness weren't already. And it's so red. The redness of it, it slams into my eyes, blinding me. Even against all the black of the interior, so very red.
Somewhere, in the back of my mind, was the dark, primordial response. This is wrong. This is not right. That smell and that much red should not exist. This is an abomination.
At the bottom, on the floor, at the foot of the seat, that's where he lies. Crumpled, cracked every which way like a marionette. And I can't take my eyes off him. It's like a nightmare. And then it hits me. It slams into my skull, a scraping accusation. Failure, it says. You failed. This is the ultimate failure. You swore you'd always protect him, and you failed.
"Monty…" I say his name, one last time. And, before I can help it, I turn and retch onto the gasoline soaked concrete. I can't help it. It's sour and bitter and stings my throat. Failure… failure…
"Feeling ill, Waylon?"
I look up, startled, in the direction of the voice. No one else's words have reached me, no one else's voice has sounded real or relevant to my ears, save for this one. And I know why. It's because it's my voice.
Directly in front of me, down the street, I'm standing there, looking down at me, sneering at me. I stare, utterly dumbfounded. Is this real? It can't be…
I'm looking at myself, and I'm looking back. The me who's smiling is completely red, and not with blood like I am. His clothes are red, his hair is red, even his eyes are red. He smirks down at me through red glasses. It's like a mirage. A perfectly red mirage of my image.
Except mirages don't talk.
"He deserves it, you know," the mirage says, smiling.
"What?" I say. Because it's all I can say. This can't be real. I must be hallucinating. I hit my head too hard, and I'm in a coma, or something…
It keeps smiling at me. It winks at me. Nobody else is looking at it. Only I can see it. Proof that I'm hallucinating.
It raises its hand in a friendly way. "See you tomorrow," it says.
And that's when my vision begins to darken…
My eyes fly open, and I stare at the ceiling of my bedroom. My bedroom... What the hell? What time is it?
I sit up and grab my watch off the nightstand, holding it up close to my eyes so I can see it. The blurred hands come into focus. 8:30 am… I put my glasses on and check the calendar. It's August 15th.
I let out a long breath. A dream. It was only a dream. Hey! It was a dream! I laugh, breathlessly. "Oh, thank God," I say aloud, to nobody. Mr. Burns isn't dead. There wasn't any car wreck. It's fine. Everything is fine.
Except I overslept. Oh, Hell. I hope Mr. Burns isn't too mad. I pour myself some cereal and eat in a hurry. There's a really annoying bird chirping outside the apartment window. I hope I can get out of here fast.
It's only when I'm putting my tie on that I realize, Hey, wait a minute. Didn't I oversleep in my dream? And… I listened for a second… I'm pretty sure that stupid bird was in my dream, too. That dream. It had seemed so real…
I force myself to laugh. "No more eating cigarettes, Waylon," I say, scolding myself. "It does things to you."
I drive to his house to pick him up, and pretty soon we're both in the limo together, taking the same route we always take. I reach down, still keeping an eye on the road, and flick on the radio, checking if there's anything good.
"Wow, thanks for that advice, Bill!" the announcer says. "And now we go to today's weather report. Look's like today's going to be hot, hot, hot, once again, ladies and gentlemen! Hot enough to fry an egg, wouldn't you say, Bill? Better stay indoors and get around to fixing that-"
I quickly switch off the radio, my heart hammering. I feel the car swerve a little. It's the same. It's the exact same weather report. Even that cheesy line about frying an egg. It's all the same!
"Smithers, what's the matter with you?" I hear Mr. Burns ask. "Why are you so jittery?"
I swallow. "It's nothing, sir," I answer. But for some reason, my voice is shaking…
The stop sign appears. I pull up carefully next to it, keeping my eyes on the pedestrians that pass. They look familiar… Right? Or… Maybe it's just my imagination… Oh! I can't tell! I don't remember!
Suddenly, I hear a splat. I whirl around in the seat before slowly looking forward again. The egg. It's the egg hearing the rear bumper. I flex my hands on the wheel, flicking my fingers. My hands feel very moist. Why is it… Why is it so cold in here? I drive on, more slowly than I usually do.
Laughter. A group of boys are running down the sidewalk, one is pushing the other. I look, and I see Homer Simpson's son in the group. I twirl around the leather seat, my gaze stuck on them, my mouth agape. I must look like an idiot because Mr. Burns says, "Good lord! Watch the road, will you?"
"Sorry, sir…" I stammer, switching my gaze back to the road ahead. C'mon, Waylon. It's nothing… It's nothing… Get it together… The next intersection is coming up.
The light's green.
It was just a dream, Waylon.
It's getting closer.
Just a dream.
Don't lose your head.
It's ten feet away.
But it's all the same…
Five feet away.
And it was so real…
Just a few more seconds.
I look to the right, my hands still on the wheel. Hey. Isn't that the truck?
I slam on the break, so hard I feel I'm going to break the pedal. I feel my teeth slam against each other as we're both thrown forward. My head hits the dash, and I grip it in my hands, cringing. From behind us, I hear can hear the other cars honking.
Mr. Burns pulls his teeth out of the leather upholstery in front of him. "What the devil's the matter with you?" he snaps. "You've been acting like a lunatic all-!"
He stops, flustered. I realize why and am instantly sorry. But I can't help it. I can't think clearly. I can't focus on him.
It goes by; it passes right in front of us. I didn't see the light; I didn't see whether it was green or red, but I can see the truck. It's huge, a massive rolling titan coated in silver and white. I see a huge silver barrel rotating on its back; it's a cement mixer. It's going obscenely fast; it's only in front of us for a second, but I watch it going by as if in slow motion. If I had kept going… If I had kept going…
Then Mr. Burns would have been…
As soon as the light is green again, I pull over next to a shop.
I turn around in my seat. "Say," I begin, trying to sound cheerful, my arm propped up against the leather back, "Sir, why don't we go for a walk?"
He stares at me like I've lost my mind. "A walk?" he repeats, staring at me. "What for? It's too hot for that."
I don't know exactly what I'm thinking or what I'm feeling. All I know is that I want to get out. We need to get out of this car. Now. I shrug, still trying to keep casual. "It might be good," I say. "You know, to change up the routine a bit. And you do need to keep up your physique, sir."
He doesn't answer me right away but just keeps staring. There's a crease between his eyes, like he's trying to figure something out. Finally, his expression changes. "Oh, very well," he concedes. I let out a breath I didn't know I was holding and climb out of the car. I slip a few false coins into the meter, open the backdoor for Mr. Burns, and we set off down the sidewalk, me trailing behind.
Outside of the car, the world seems bleached white with sunlight. The pavement is actually burning through the soles of my shoes. Little waves of heat dance out of the ghostly water puddles on the cement. The heat, it's exactly like… In my mind I see puddles of blood, the silver spider webs on the window. My heart starts racing again, and my breath feels like it isn't coming fast enough, and for a second I'm afraid that I'm going to have a stroke, right there in front of the comic book store.
"Smithers, walk in front of me, will you?" Mr. Burns says without turning around. I don't want the sun getting in my eyes.
His voice snaps me back to reality, the way it always does. "Yes, sir," I answer, as I run to get in front of him. It makes me a little uneasy that I can't see him, but at least I'll be the first to know if… something happens.
People turn to gawk at us as we walk by, and I know this sight is a little unusual. Mr. Burns and his lackey. Out on the town. Mr. Burns ignores them; he's knows he's not on the same level as them. I've always admired that about him, how self-confident he is.
We cross the street into the next block. I look around uneasily, but I don't see anything coming our way. I begin to relax, just a little.
A construction machine is perched on this street, dangling a bundle of iron girders high above the rooftops. I glance up at the silver skeleton growing up out of the tallest building. Looks like they're adding another story.
We're passing by the machine when I feel a small tug on my sleeve. "Hey, mister?" I hear a little voice say. I stop and look down at the little girl smiling up at me. She looks to be around nine or so, and her long light brown hair is pulled up into a ponytail. She's holding a tray of cupcakes and smiling up at me. "Would you like a free sample?" she asks.
I shake my head. "Oh, I'm sorry," I say. "But I'm not in the mood." I try to walk on, but she shakes the tray in front of herself, trying to make it look appealing. "They're free," she reminds me sweetly.
"Sorry," I say again, smiling a little at her, "Maybe some other-"
Above my head, I hear a clanging sound. Someone on the other side of the street screams. Everyone's yelling and pointing, their mouths wide open. They're all pointing straight up. I look up and see that the iron girders are right above us, and they're swinging madly back and forth, like a psychotic pendulum. The sharp, glinting bundle shifts to the right, and, with the tiniest twang that I feel more than I hear, one of the ropes snaps, and a girder comes hurdling straight down. It flies downward, whistling like a spear, and I feel the lightest pressure on my shoulder, thin and fragile as paper, before there's a sound like a rotten fruit ripping on a juicer.
And the girder pierces Mr. Burns straight through.
A splatter of blood flies up, and without looking, I know my legs are drenched. The smell fills my nostrils, that rusty, hot smell, fermenting in the air like hot soup. The little girl is standing there, and she's completely covered in blood, it's all over her dress, it's coating her cupcakes, drying in the pores. Unlike me, she doesn't scream, she just stands there, holding the tray limply in front of her, her eyes wide. The tray clatters as she holds it; she doesn't seem to be looking at anything.
I stop screaming, my throat raw and scraped. I just realized my hands are curled tight in my hair. It feels like I'm going to pull it out. And again, the smell and the redness, and I can't think right, all I can think is, This can't be real. This can't be real.
Mr. Burns isn't dead. He's still alive, trembling with the force of having one ton of solid metal gut you like a fish. There's blood coming out of his mouth, out of his back, out of his stomach. So. Much. Blood. He's so frail, so thin, where is all this blood even coming from? How can his body holds it all? How can it lose it all and still keep functioning. He's propped up on one arm, and as he coughs weakly, another burst of blood comes out.
I start forward, reaching a hand out. "Sir!" I scream desperately, wanting, insanely, to help him, to save him…
And that's when another flash of red passes in front of my vision.
I turn my head, my eyes wide, my heart frozen in the unbearable heat. It's him again. That red mirage. He's walking right by me; I could reach out and touch him. He's smiling at me with my face, his hands behind his back like he's out for a stroll…
"This is all for real," he sneers. "No dreams here." He flashes a smile at me, showing his gleaming red teeth.
I open my mouth; I want to say something to him, but my vision is going dark. It's getting harder to stay standing. I feel a shove on my shoulder, and I fall backwards, swooning.
"Nighty-night, Waylon," he says. He turns to walk away, leaving me fading against the wall.
I glance over at Mr. Burns one more time, and it's the strangest thing, but it seems like he's smiling…
I wake up. It's morning. I bolt upright and grab the calendar. August 15th. I check my watch. 8:30.
Oh my God. Oh my God! Oh no. Oh no oh no oh no.
Panic. Panic is welling through me. It's August and I'm too cold, and all I know is Monty. Monty. Monty's in danger!
I get dressed in a mad frenzy, shaking so bad I almost drop my glasses. By the time I'm out the door, I become aware of an incredibly annoying bird, chirping away. Chirping its head off. Its head off… Dear God!
A few agonizing seconds later, and I'm in my car, the tires screeching on the street. My mind is racing.
That pressure. That infinitely light pressure I'd felt on my shoulder when… I shuddered and forced the memory away. Had that been… His hand? He's so weak. I imagined him, reaching out toward me, trying to grab me as…
"No!" I moan out loud, as I feel my eyes stinging. Tears are running down my cheeks, and the road swims in my vision.
My fault. It's my fault. Of course it's my fault. I was the one driving the car. I just had to stop and talk to that girl. Her and her cupcakes. How could I be so stupid? If I had been a little bit faster, if I had been behind instead of him, then he wouldn't have been…!
As I'm driving, I reach into my pocket and pull out my phone. I dial quickly and clear my throat. He mustn't know I've been crying, sobbing like a kid. He can't know. I take a few deep breaths to steady myself before I hold the phone up to my ear. Each ring is agony, like the spaces between drops of water torture, blaring in my ears. Pick up! I plead silently. Pick up!
Finally, there's a click. "Aughh… Ahoy hoy…" He says groggily.
He's fine. Of course he is. It's not time yet. "Mr. Burns!" I shout hastily before I catch myself. I take another deep breath and work to keep my voice absolutely calm. "Sir," I say, "It's me."
There's a pause. "Smithers… What on earth do you think you're doing?" he splutters angrily. "Calling me at this hour? Wait a minute…" There's another pause. I know he's checking the time on his bedside clock. "You're not here yet?" he snaps. "Where are you?"
"I'm sorry, sir," I say quickly. "But I won't be coming in today."
"What?" He sounds astonished. He should be. In the car, I hang my head a little, ashamed. It's unheard of for me to do this to him. But it can't be helped. He has to stay away from me. "Why?"
Why? "Well, because…" Because… Because… Oh, God, how do I explain this to him? I think quickly. What do I say? What can I say to get him to stay there? "Because of the Reds, sir," I say quickly, "The Reds are rioting again."
There hasn't been a riot in decades, but I can count on Mr. Burns to not know that. There's another second of silence before I hear an intake of air and Mr. Burns say, "I knew it."
"So," I say, relieved, "I'll take care of them. And, you need to stay indoors."
"Oh, I'm not as old as I look, Smithers," he says, and I imagine his expression, that sinister smile I love so much. "I can still give those dirty Commies a what for."
"NO!" I shout hastily. I think I've startled him. I take another shuddering breath and say, "That won't be necessary, sir. I'll take care of it. You'd know they'd love to get their hands on an aristocrat like you."
There's silence, and I know Mr. Burns is considering what I said. "Well, alright…" he says slowly. "I'll man the fort here. Be careful Smithers," he warned. "Those anarchists have claws." Then he hung up.
Perfect. Perfect. Stay in the house. Stay. I keep driving, my eyes scanning the streets, the sidewalks, the sky overhead.
I pull up in front of the manor, its façade gleaming white in the heat. I pull out the key, killing the engine, and step out of the car.
I'm not sure what will happen now, but I have a plan, sort of. Just stay out here. Stay out here and watch. As long as he's not near me, as long as I'm being careful, then maybe…
Maybe he can survive.
I begin circling the block, feeling the heat pouring into my jacket. I'm straining my eyes, trying to see everywhere at once. I grip the cellphone in my hand tightly, trying to stop my shaking. I force my mind to go blank, even as I'm scanning every street, every tree, trying to calm my racing heart…
Suddenly, I'm racing to the house, my mind, my whole body a jumble. What was I thinking? Leaving him alone like that? What if he's in danger, and no one's around? I can't stay near him; I can't stay away! All I can think to do is to stay as close as possible… I run through the bushes circling the property, meaning to maybe stay near a window and wait there, when I stop dead in my tracks.
It's the mirage.
He's already there.
He's leaning against the white surface of the manor, right next to the window I was aiming for. His arms are folded across his chest, and his head is down. He's actually shimmering, a red flame wavering in the heat. He looks up at me and his smirk grows wider. "Ready for my big surprise, Waylon?" he asks, sneering.
I take a few slow steps back, feeling bile rising in my throat. Not again... Not again! Before I know what I'm doing I drop to my knees. "Please," I beg, with my quickly shattering voice. "Please don't do this! I'll do anything!"
His smile changes, grows a little gentler. He walks up to me and rests his hand on my head; it feels like the smoke around a wild fire. "You work to hard," he says, smiling down at me. "You need to take a break."
He reaches down and grabs my chin roughly, yanking it up, so that we're eye to eye. "Ready?" he asks, grinning. "Here it comes!"
He lets go of me and steps back, and that's when I hear it. I heavy drumming, like a bee's wings. I look up, toward the sky, but I already know what it is.
I've been in enough helicopters to know one when I hear one.
The blades are flying, buzzing erratically, like a fly beating itself to death against a windowpane. The long silver tube is flipping over itself, over and over, twirling. A line of smoke billows from the tail. I watch it, utterly helpless, and the mirage doesn't even turn his back as it slams into the house. Flames billow up from the crater in burrowed in the roof, and the blast knocks me backward as rows and rows of impossible heat sear over me. The flames are huge; they engulf the manor in no time at all. The flames are dancing on the lens of my glasses.
The mirage doesn't even move when the helicopter hits. His hair only rustles a little in the wind. His eyes are closed, and his head is raised a little, like the burst is a hot bath he's sinking into. And as I lie there on my shoulders, fading into the blackness again, he looks at me, again, smiling serenely. "I wonder," he says, "Will you try begging again… tomorrow…?"
I sit upright in my bed, breathing hard. August 15th. No need to check. I feel my teeth grinding against each other. Outside, that damn bird is singing again. "SHUT UP!" I scream, flinging my calendar against the window. It shatters through the cheap panes, splattering the icy glass on the lawn below.
I'm still pulling my jacket on when I race out the door. The engine in my car whines like a skinned horse, as I drive. The whole world is blurring around me. I need to get to his house. I cannot get there fast enough!
I burst into the front door, drenched with sweat. Mr. Burns is there, waiting. He's still blinking the sleep out of his eyes. "Smithers," he says sleepily. "You're la-"
"Hurry! Run!" I shout grabbing his arm. He's too astounded to protest, as I sprint back outside, dragging him behind me. We're not safe here. We're not safe in the car. The only thing I can think of to do is just run.
"Smithers!" Mr. Burns manages to gasp, struggling to keep up with me. "What's going on? What are we running from?"
"I don't know!" I yell back. "Anything! Everything!" Just keep running. Why is the front of his property so long? Where's the crosswalk? There's gotta be a place we can hide.
Suddenly, before we can even make it to the corner, Mr. Burns collapses behind me. "Smithers…" he cries, weakly. I whirl around, tasting mucus in my burning chest. He can't make it! He can't make it! But he has to! I grab his arm, trying desperately to pull him to his feet. "C'mon, sir!" I say breathlessly, tugging on his arm, trying to get him to start. "It's only a little bit further!" I lie. "I promise! You have to get up!"
"There's no point, you know."
I start up, at the sound of my voice, and look over my shoulder, dread exploding within me. There's the mirage, standing with his arms crossed at the corner. He's looking away, across the street.
"Sir!" I yell, tears filling my eyes. "Please, you have to get up!" He's so frail; it's like tugging on a string bag. He's gasping like there's no air anywhere, and I feel like screaming at myself for thinking he could make it, for being so stupid.
And that's when I hear the growling.
I snap my gaze up, and I see it. It's the hounds. One of the hounds got loose, and it saw us running. It's looking right at Mr. Burns, snarling, its red eyes winking, thick ropes of saliva oozing from its jaws.
The next thing I feel is Mr. Burns' hand yanked from mine as the sound of teeth ripping meat off bone fills my ears.
There's blood everywhere!
Why is it so cold?
Someone please help me!
So much blood…
Why can't I…?
"Hey, Waylon. Aren't you going to wish me a happy birthday?"
I have to save him!
MAKE IT STOP
How long has it been?
How long has it been since that first August 15th?
Countless days. Countless times. Countless deaths. It has to be in the thousands. I lost track long ago.
I've often looked at Mr. Burns and wondered what it was like to be an old man. I know now. It's an unbearably heaviness on a body that can't carry it any more. It's a tiredness with all creation. It's the sadness of a thousand sad things stacked one on top of the other.
It's been decades. I am an old man. And yet it's still that same August 15th. I haven't aged a day. We're back in the limo. I look out the window, and I see Simpsons's son and his friends go running by. It's only one day for them. For them, this day will be over and done in just a few hours. What's it like to be young?
To be old is to be unable to remember.
How do I get out of this? How do I save him? Sir, if I could spend an eternity with you, I would. But I can't. I can't if you're going to die. That's not fair. I can't watch you die one more time. I can't bear to look at that mirage, watch my face smiling at my death, one more time. I can't take it anymore. I'm sorry I'm so weak sir. I just want to save you.
I look up. That green light's coming up. The same one as on that first summer day. And the truck is coming. I'm too tired, too old to fight it anymore.
And then, all the sudden, I have the answer. I don't have to fight it anymore. I don't have to see you die one more time. I don't have to see you die ever again! It's so simple! The answer is so simple! And I almost laugh out loud because it's so stupid. It's so clichéd. And yet, it's so brilliant.
I know the answer.
It's still a green light. I still remember how it goes. Cross this line, and the truck comes. I push my glasses up and tighten my grip on the wheel. No need to take a deep breath. Just get it over with. I reach down and unhook my seatbelt.
Just as the line turns red, I step on the gas and yank the steering the wheel to the right, feeling a cord pull in my shoulder as I do. The limo's wheels screech and smoke billows out from below, as the car skids, tracing a dark circle on the searing pavement. The car rotates, spinning around, twirling like a coin, and as Mr. Burns yells in shock, I see that we've swerved just the way I wanted. The car has flipped. The front is facing back the way we came. My seat is facing the right.
And the truck is coming right at me.
I feel the impact slam into me, glass and blood flying through the air. My glasses fly off, and before I know it, I'm flying too, soaring through the air. There's another explosion as I burst through the opposite window, landing on the street, flipping over and over on the tar-coated street. I can feel my body breaking, shaking and whirling and blowing itself out like a Catherine wheel. And I know it should probably hurt, but all I can think is, So this is what it feels like.
My back slams into a wall, and I stop, my skull cracking against the red brick. People are screaming, running frantically. I can't see them. Only blurred shapes and colors pass in front of me. Their voices are sound like the sound after you plunge into water. And everything's getting dimmer, fading away.
But one thing is crystal clear.
The mirage is standing in front of me, looking down at me. I expect to see his smile, I expect to see his taunting laugh, but instead, he just looks at me. His eyes are wide, and he looks down at me like I've torn up his happiness and thrown it in his face.
"Serves you right," I whisper through the blood on my lips. And I see tears coursing down his face as he vanishes from sight.
It's over. It's over. Ah. My only regret… I never really said goodbye to Monty. It happened too fast. I wish I could die while looking into his eyes. I don't know where he is. My vision is fading fast. I'm sorry Monty. I never told you I loved you. I never had the chance. My one regret. Take care of yourself, Monty. Be happy, okay?
The hot days of summer. The blood that's everywhere. None of it matters now. Because whatever cursed me to watch you die over and over.
It ends today.
On August 15th, in a fabulous mansion surrounded by bushes, a scrawny old man woke up. He sat up in his bed and in a quiet voice said,
"I failed again yesterday…"
As a blue mirage nearby gave out a taunting laugh.
So. That was my first Treehouse of Horror story. How'd I do?
To be fair, I can't take credit for this idea. This story is based off a song called, Kagerou Days, which pretty much has the same premise. I absolutely love this song, so I thought, "Hey? Why not do a Simpsons version?" I actually thought of two versions of this story, one with Smithers and Mr. Burns, which you just read, and one with Lisa and Bart, which I decided to skip. I'm a little sad about that, but whatever.
Smithers, Smithers, I don't hate you, I swear.
If you're interested in Kagerou Days, go to Youtube slash watch?v=lBnAY4VH9T4 to behold the story in animated form.
Reviews are apprectiated! More is on the way!