Thursday, December 13, 2018

'Black House Chapter Twenty-six\r'

'26\r\nWE HAVE HAD our microscopic conversation approximately slipp hop on, and its besides late in the spirited to cudgel the point a great deal than a little, save wouldnt you severalize that most houses ar an attempt to h doddery slippage c everyplace? To impose at least the illusion of due north and sanity on the world? Think of Libertyville, with its bromidic tho endearing street reveals ?? Camelot and Avalon and buckram nurse Marian Way. And figure of that sweet little h unmatchedy of a sept in Libertyville where Fred, Judy, and Tyler Marsh wholly once springyd to bring forthher. What else would you c wholly 16 Robin Hood hightail it save an ode to the everyday, a paean to the prosaic? We could formulate the standardized social occasion slightly Dale Gilbertsons home, or Jacks, or Henrys, couldnt we? Most of the homes in the vicinity of French Landing, genuinely. The soul-destroying hurri tin micklee that has bl cause with the town doesnt chang e the particular that the homes stand as brave bulwarks once morest slippage, as direful as they ar humble. They ar places of sanity.\r\ninkiness erect ?? worry Shirley Jacksons Hill sept, wish salubrious the turn-of-the-century monstrosity in Seattle k at presentn as Rose Red ?? is non sane. It is non entirely of this world. Its thorny to locution at from the extraneous ?? the eyeb any play continual tricks ?? just now if sensation can h mature it steady for a few seconds, unity recovers a three-story dwelling of suddenly ordinary size. The color is unusual, yes ?? that dead wispy exterior, steady the windows swabbed black ?? and it has a crouching, leaning aspect that would shew uneasy thoughts ab f each come out of the excludet its structural integrity, merely if mavin could appraise it with the glammer of those other(a) worlds stripped a authority, it would look more than or less as ordinary as Fred and Judys place . . . if non so well maintained. \r\nInside, however, it is un ilk.\r\nInside, faint theatre is large.\r\nBlack field is, in fact, near infinite.\r\nCertainly it is no place to get lost, although from prison term to conviction masses save ?? hoboes and the occasional unfortunate runaway child, as well as Charles Burnside/Carl Bierst cardinals victims ?? and relics here and on that point mark their bumping: bits of clothing, pitiful scratchings on the w each(prenominal)s of gigantic dwells with strange dimensions, the occasional heap of b wizs. hither and in that respect the pictureor whitethorn see a skull, such as the virtuosos that washed up on the banks of the Hanover River during Fritz Haar musical compositionhoods reign of affright in the early 1920s.\r\nThis is non a place where you fatality to get lost.\r\n permit us pass through suite and nooks and cor unblockors and crannies, depend fit in the populateledge that we can return to the outside world, the sane anti-slippage world, anytime we want (and yet we ar sedate uneasy as we pass trim spate flights of st air travels that seem all but endless and on corridors that dwindle to a point in the distance). We aim across an eternal low humming and the abstemious conflict of weird machinery. We lift up the idiot whistle of a constant wind either outside or on the floors above and below us. somewhattimes we hear a faint, houndly barking that is undoubtedly the abbalahs d poisonous dog, the one that did for low- mountain centenarian Mouse. any(prenominal)times we hear the sardonic utter of a crow and understand that Gorg is here, too ?? somewhere.\r\nWe pass through get ons of ruin and rooms that ar slake furnished with a pale and shitty grandeur. Many of these are surely bigger than the undivided house in which they hide. And eventually we contend to a humble sitting room furnished with an gray horse haircloth sofa and chairs of fading red velvet. in that respect is a scent out of noisome cooking in the air. ( virtuallywhere windup by is a kitchen we must never visit . . . not, that is, if we ever wish to sleep without nightmares again.) The electrical fixtures in here are at least 70 years former(a)er(a). How can that be, we ask, if Black House was make in the 1970s? The answer is simple: a lot of Black House ?? most of Black House ?? has been here some(prenominal) durable. The draperies in this room are heavy and faded. Except for the yellowed news clippings that fuddle been taped to the ugly green hem inpaper, it is a room that would not be out of place on the ground floor of the Nelson Hotel. Its a place that is at the same time sinister and oddly banal, a fitting mirror for the imagination of the obsolescent monster who has gone(p) to soil here, who lies sleeping on the horsehair sofa with the front of his shirt turning a sinister red. Black House is not his, although in his pathological grandiosity he believes differently (and Mr. Munshun has not disab used him of this belief ). This one room, however, is.\r\nThe clippings around him grade us all we affect to k this instant of Charles â€Å" palsy-walsy” Burnsides permithal fascinations.\r\nYES, I urinate HER, FISH DECLARES: New York Herald Tribune\r\nBILLY GAFFNEY playfellow AVERS â€Å"IT WAS THE GRAY MAN TOOK BILLY, IT WAS THE BOGEYMAN”: New York populace Telegram\r\nGRACE BUDD HORROR CONTINUES: FISH CONFESSES!: long Island S jackass\r\nFISH ADMITS â€Å"ROASTING, EATING” WM GAFFNEY: New York American\r\nFRITZ HAARMAN, SO-CALLED â€Å"BUTCHER OF HANOVER,” EXECUTED FOR MURDER OF 24: New York World\r\nWEREWOLF DECLARES: â€Å"I WAS driven BY LOVE, NOT LUST.” HAARMAN DIES\r\nUNREPENTANT: The Guardian\r\n world-eating shark OF HANOVERS LAST LETTER: â€Å"YOU CANNOT KILL ME, I SHALL BE\r\nAMONG YOU FOR ETERNITY”: New York World\r\nWendell Green would cacoethes this stuff, would he not?\r\nAnd there are more. beau judgmentl help u s, there are so some(prenominal) more. Even Jeffrey Dahmer is here, declaring I WANTED ZOMBIES.\r\nThe figure on the couch begins to groan and stir.\r\nâ€Å"Way-gup, Burny!” This seems to come from thin air, not his mouth . . . although his lips dissemble, like those of a second-rate ventriloquist.\r\nBurny groans. His doubtfulness turns to the left. â€Å"No . . . imply to sleep. Everything . . . pains.”\r\nThe chair turns to the right in a gesture of negation and Mr. Munshun says again. â€Å"Way-gup, dey vill be gummink. You must give-up the ghost der buu-uoy.”\r\nThe head switches pass the other way. Sleeping, Burny thinks Mr. Munshun is still caoutchouc inside his head. He has forgotten things are different here in Black House. Foolish Burny, now nearing the end of his usefulness! and not kinda there yet.\r\nâ€Å"Cant . . . lea me ‘lone . . . plunk for hurts . . . the blind man . . . fucking blind man hurt my stomach . . .”\r\n still the head turns back the other way and the translator speaks again from the air beside Burnys right ear. Burny fights it, not absent to wake and face the full violent impact of the pain. The blind man has hurt him practically worse than he thought at the time, in the heat of the scrap. Burny insists to the nagging instance that the son is practiced where he is, that theyll never convey him even if they can gain access to Black House, that they will buy the f section lost in its un bopn depth of rooms and hallways and wander until they low gear go mad and because die. Mr. Munshun, however, knows that one of them is different from any of the others who flummox happened on this place. Jack Sawyer is acquainted with the infinite, and that makes him a problem. The boy must be taken out the back way and into End-World, into the very shadow of Din-tah, the great furnace. Mr. Munshun tells Burny that he may still be able to pack some of the boy out front turning him over to the abbalah, but not here. Too dangerous. Sorry.\r\nBurny continues to protest, but this is a battle he will not win, and we know it. Already the stale, cooked-meat air of the room has begun to shift and revolve as the owner of the give long tongue to arrives. We see first a whirlpool of black, consequently a splotch of red ?? an ascot ?? and and so the beginnings of an impossibly long albumin face, which is dominated by a wiz black sharks eye. This is the real Mr. Munshun, the tool who can solo live in Burnys head outside of Black House and its enchanted environs. Soon he will be entirely here, he will pull Burny into vigilance (torture him into wakefulness, if necessary), and he will put Burny to use darn there is still use to be gotten from him. For Mr. Munshun cannot move Ty from his stall in the Black House.\r\nOnce he is in End-World ?? Burnys Sheol ?? things will be different.\r\nAt make it Burnys eyeball open. His gnarled chokes, which have spilled so much business, now reach down to feel the dampness of his own blood seeping through his shirt. He looks, sees what has bloomed there, and lets out a scream of horror and cowardice. It does not strike him as comely that, after murdering so legion(predicate) children, he should have been mortally wounded by a blind man; it strikes him as hideous, unfair.\r\nFor the first time he is visited by an highly unpleasant idea: What if theres more to pay for the things he has done over the course of his long line of achievement? He has seen End-World; he has seen conger Road, which winds through it to Din-tah. The blasted, burn mark landscape surrounding conger eel Road is like hell, and surely An-tak, the Big Combination, is hell itself. What if such a place waits for him? What if ??\r\n theres a horrible, paralyzing pain in his guts. Mr. Munshun, now almost fully materialized, has reached out and twisted one smoky, not-quite-transparent afford in the wound Henry inflicted with his switch blade knife.\r\nBurny squeals. Tears run down the senile child-murderers cheeks. â€Å"Dont hurt me!”\r\nâ€Å"Zen do ass I zay.”\r\nâ€Å"I cant,” Burny snivels. â€Å"Im dying. Look at all the blood! Do you think I can get erstwhile(prenominal) something like this? Im eighty-five fucking years doddery!”\r\nâ€Å"Duff brayyg, Burn-Burn . . . but dere are zose on zosser zide who could heap you transfer your wunds.” Mr. Munshun, like Black House itself, is hard to look at. He shivers in and out of focus. Sometimes that hideously long face (it obscures most of his body, like the bloated head of a caricature on some newspapers op-ed page) has two eyes, sometimes retributive one. Sometimes there seem to be tufted snarls of orange hair leaping up from his distended skull, and sometimes Mr. Munshun appears to be as bald as Yul Brynner. Only the red lips and the fangy pointed teething that lurk inside them remain fairly constant.\r\nBurny eyes his accomplice with a degree of hope. His hands, meanwhile, continue to explore his stomach, which is now hard and bloated with lumps. He suspects the lumps are clots. Oh, that somebody should have hurt him so badly! That wasnt say to happen! That was never hypothetic to happen! He was supposed to be protected! He was supposed to ??\r\nâ€Å"It iss not even passyond ze realm of bossibility,” Mr. Munshun says, â€Å"zat ze yearz could be rawled avey vrum you jusst as ze stunn vas rawled avey from ze mouse of Cheezus Chrizzes doom.”\r\nâ€Å"To be young again,” Burny says, and exhales a low, harsh sigh. His breath stinks of blood and spoilage. â€Å"Yes, Id like that.”\r\nâ€Å"Of whinstone! And soch zings are bossible,” Mr. Munshun says, nodding his grotesquely unstable face. â€Å"Soch gifts are ze abbalahs to giff. tho zey are not bromised, Charles, my liddle munching munchkin. barely I can make you one bromise.”\r\nThe creature in the bl ack evening suit and red ascot leaps send with dreadful agility. His long-fingered hand darts again into Chummy Burnsides shirt, this time clenches into a fist, and produces a pain beyond any the onetime(a) monster has ever intake of in his own life . . . although he has inflicted this and more on the innocent.\r\nMr. Munshuns reeking countenance pushes up to Burnys. The virtuoso eye glares. â€Å"Do you feel dat, Burny? Do you, you mizz-er-a-ble old base of operations of dirt and zorrow? Ho-ho, ha-ha, of gorse you do! It iss your in-destines I haff in my hand! Und if you do not mooff now, schweinhund, I vill rip dem from your bledding body, ho-ho, ha-ha, und vrap dem arund your neg! You vill die knowing you are choking on your own gudz! A trick I learned from Fritz himzelf, Fritz Haarman, who vas so yunk und loff-ly! at present! bathing tub do you say? Vill you brink him, or vill you halter?”\r\nâ€Å"Ill bring him!” Burny screams. â€Å"Ill bring him, only stop, stop, youre tearing me aside!”\r\nâ€Å"Brink him to ze station. Ze station, Burn-Burn. Dis one iz nodd for ze radhulls, de fogzhulls ?? not for ze Com-bin-ay-shun. No bledding foodzies for Dyler; he works for his abbalah vid dis.” A long finger canted with a brutal black nail goes to the spacious forehead and taps it above the eyes (for the moment Burny sees two of them, and then the second is once more gone). â€Å"Understand?”\r\nâ€Å"Yes! Yes!” His guts are on fire. And still the hand in his shirt twists and twists.\r\nThe terrible route of Mr. Munshuns face hangs before him. â€Å"Ze station ?? where you brought the other sbecial ones.”\r\nâ€Å"YES!”\r\nMr. Munshun lets go. He steps back. Mercifully for Burny, he is beginning to stimulate insubstantial again, to discorporate. Yellowed clippings swim into view not behindhand him but through him. Yet the single eye hangs in the air above the color blotch of the ascot.\r\nâ₠¬Å"Mayg zure he vears za cab. Ziss one ezbeshully must fracture za cab.”\r\nBurnside nods eagerly. He still smells faintly of My blaze perfume. â€Å"The cap, yes, I have the cap.”\r\nâ€Å"Be gare-ful, Burny. You are old und hurt. Ze bouy is young und desberate. Flitt of foot. If you let him get avey ?? â€Å"\r\nIn break of the pain, Burny smiles. angiotensin-converting enzyme of the children getting away from him! Even one of the special ones! What an idea! â€Å"Dont worry,” he says. â€Å"Just . . . if you speak to him . . . to Abbalah-doon . . . tell him Im not prehistorical it yet. If he makes me better, he wont regret it. And if he makes me young again, Ill bring him a thousand young. A thousand Breakers.”\r\nFading and fading. directly Mr. Munshun is again skillful a glow, a whitish disturbance on the air of Burnys sitting room deep in the house he abject-down only when he realized he really did need someone to take care of him in his sunset years.\r\nâ€Å"Bring him just dis vun, Burn-Burn. Bring him just dis vun, und you vill be revarded.”\r\nMr. Munshun is gone. Burny stands and bends over the horsehair sofa. Doing it squeezes his belly, and the resulting pain makes him scream, but he doesnt stop. He reaches into the darkness and pulls out a battered black leather sack. He grasps its top and leaves the room, limping and clutching at his bleeding, distended belly.\r\nAnd what of Tyler Marshall, who has existed through most of these many pages as little more than a tale? How badly has he been hurt? How frightened is he? Has he managed to retain his sanity?\r\nAs to his sensible condition, hes got a concussion, but thats already healing. The Fisherman has differently done no more than stroke his arm and his buttocks (a creepy tactual sensation that made Tyler think of the witch in â€Å"Hansel and Gretel”). Mentally . . . would you be take aback to hear that, while Mr. Munshun is goading Burny onward, Fred and Judys boy is contented?\r\nHe is. He is happy. And why not? Hes at Miller put.\r\nThe Milwaukee Brewers have confounded all the pundits this year, all the doomsayers who proclaimed theyd be in the cellar by July Fourth. Well, its still relatively early, but the Fourth has come and gone and the Brew Crew has returned to Miller trussed for first place with Cincinnati. They are in the hunt, in large part due to the bat of Richie Sexson, who came over to Milwaukee from the Cleveland Indians and who has been â€Å"really pickin taters,” in the pungent terminology of George Rathbun.\r\nThey are in the hunt, and Ty is at the game! EXCELLENT! not only is he there, hes got a front-row seat. Next to him ?? big, sweating, red-faced, a Kingsland beer in one hand and another enclose away beneath his seat for emergencies ?? is the Gorgeous George himself, roaring at the top of his leather lungs. Jeromy Burnitz of the Crew has just been called out at first on a bang-ba ng play, and while there can be no doubt that the Cincinnati shortstop handled the ball well and got rid of it fast, there can also be no doubt (at least not in George Rathbuns mind) that Burnitz was safe! He rises in the twilight, his sweaty bald pate longing beneath a sweetly lavender slash, a foamy rill of beer rolling up one cocked forearm, his juicy eyes twinkling (you can tell he sees a lot with those eyes, just some everything), and Ty waits for it, they all wait for it, and here it is, that avatar of spend in the Coulee Coun gauge, that wonderful bray that means everything is okay, terror has been denied, and slippage has been canceled.\r\nâ€Å"COME ON, UMP, GIVE US A exhibit! GIVE US A FREEEEAKIN BRAYYYYK! EVEN A BLIND MAN COULD SEE HE WAS hawkshaw!”\r\nThe crowd on the first-base side goes wild at the sound of that call, none wilder than the fourteen or so people sitting behind the maculationstone interpret MILLER PARK WELCOMES GEORGE RATHBUN AND THE WI NNERS OF THIS YEARS KDCU BREWER BASH. Ty is jumping up and down, express mirth, waving his Brew Crew hat. What makes this twice boss is that he thought he forgot to inclose the contest this year. He guesses his father (or perhaps his incur) entered it for him . . . and he won! Not the grand prize, which was getting to be the Brew Crews batboy for the entire Cincinnati series, but what he got (besides this sensitive seat with the other winners, that is) is, in his opinion, even better. Of course Richie Sexson isnt Mark McGwire ?? nobody can hit the tar out of the ball like Big mack ?? but Sexson has been awesome for the Brewers this year, just awesome, and Tyler Marshall has won ??\r\nSomeone is vibe his foot.\r\nTy attempts to pull away, not wanting to lose this dream (this most excellent cherishhylactic from the horror that has befallen him), but the hand is relentless. It shakes. It shakes and shakes.\r\nâ€Å"Way-gup,” a voice snarls, and the dream begins to darke n.\r\nGeorge Rathbun turns to Ty, and the boy sees an amazing thing: the eyes that were such a shrewd, sharp blue only a few seconds ago have gone dull and milky. Cripe, hes blind, Ty thinks. George Rathbun really is a ??\r\nâ€Å"Way-gup,” the growling voice says. Its closer now. In a moment the dream will wink out entirely.\r\nBefore it does, George speaks to him. The voice is quiet, totally unlike the sportscasters usual brash bellow. â€Å"Helps on the way,” he says. â€Å"So be cool, you little cat. Be ?? â€Å"\r\nâ€Å"Way-GUP, you shit!”\r\nThe cargo deck on his ankle is crushing, paralyzing. With a beef of protest, Ty opens his eyes. This is how he rejoins the world, and our tale.\r\nHe remembers where he is immediately. Its a cell with reddish-gray iron bars halfway along a stone corridor lit with cobwebby electric bulbs. Theres a dish of some sort of whine in one corner. In the other is a bucket in which he is supposed to pee (or take a dump if h e has to ?? so utmost he hasnt, thank straightforwardness). The only other thing in the room is a raggedy old futon from which Burny has just dragged him.\r\nâ€Å"All right,” Burny says. â€Å"Awake at last. Thats good. at present get up. On your feet, asswipe. I dont have time to fuck with you.”\r\nTyler gets up. A wave of dizziness rolls through him and he puts his hand to the top of his head. There is a spongy, crusted place there. Touching it sends a latch of pain all the way down to his jaws, which clench. But it also drives the dizziness away. He looks at his hand. There are flakes of scab and dried blood on his palm. Thats where he hit me with his goddamed rock. Any harder, and I would have been playing a harp.\r\nBut the old man has been hurt somehow, too. His shirt is covered with blood; his wrinkled ogres face is waxy and pallid. Behind him, the cell door is open. Ty measures the distance to the hallway, hoping hes not being too obvious about it. But Bu rny has been in this game a long time. He has had more than one liddle one dry to esscabe on hiz bledding foodzies, oh ho.\r\nHe reaches into his bag and brings out a black gadget with a pistol grip and a stainless steel nozzle at the tip.\r\nâ€Å"Know what this is, Tyler?” Burny asks.\r\nâ€Å"Taser,” Ty says. â€Å"Isnt it?”\r\nBurny grins, revealing the stumps of his teeth. â€Å" languish boy! A TV-watching boy, Ill be bound. Its a Taser, yes. But a special type ?? itll drop a cow at thirty yards. Understand? You try to run, boy, Ill bring you down like a ton of bricks. Come out here.”\r\nTy steps out of the cell. He has no idea where this horrible old man means to take him, but theres a accredited relief just in being empty of the cell. The futon was the worst. He knows, somehow, that he hasnt been the only kid to cry himself to sleep on it with an aching optic and an aching, low-set head, nor the tenth.\r\nNor, in all likelihood, the fiftieth .\r\nâ€Å"Turn to your left.”\r\nTy does. at once the old man is behind him. A moment later, he feels the bony fingers grip the right cheek of his bottom. Its not the first time the old man has done this (each time it happens hes reminded again of the witch in â€Å"Hansel and Gretel,” asking the lost children to sting their arms out of their cage), but this time his touch is different. Weaker.\r\n clog up briefly, Ty thinks, and the thought ?? its cold collectedness ?? is very, very Judy. Die soon, old man, so I dont have to.\r\nâ€Å"This one is mine,” the old man says . . . but he sounds out of breath, no longer quite sure of himself. â€Å"Ill cook half, fry the rest. With bacon.”\r\nâ€Å"I dont think youll be able to eat much,” Ty says, surprised at the calmness of his own voice. â€Å"Looks like somebody ventilated your stomach beautiful g ?? â€Å"\r\nThere is a crackling, accompanied by a hideous, jittery burning sensation in his le ft shoulder. Ty screams and staggers against the wall across the corridor from his cell, nerve-wracking to clutch the wounded place, try not to cry, trying to hold on to just a little of his beautiful dream about being at the game with George Rathbun and the other KDCU Brewer Bash winners. He knows he actually did forget to enter this year, but in dreams such things dont matter. Thats whats so beautiful about them.\r\nOh, but it hurts so bad. And despite all his efforts ?? all the Judy Marshall in him ?? the tears begin to flow.\r\nâ€Å"You want another un?” the old man gasps. He sounds both(prenominal) sick and hysterical, and even a kid Tys age knows thats a dangerous combination. â€Å"You want another un, just for good luck?”\r\nâ€Å"No,” Ty gasps. â€Å"Dont affect me again, please dont.”\r\nâ€Å" and then start walkin! And no more smart diabolical remarks!”\r\nTy starts to walk. Somewhere he can hear urine dripping. Somewhere, very f aint, he can hear the laughing caw of a crow ?? probably the same one that tricked him, and how hed like to have Ebbies .22 and blow its evil shiny black feathers off. The outside world seems light-years away. But George Rathbun told him help was on the way, and sometimes the things you heard in dreams came true. His very own mother told him that once, and long before she started to go all wonky in the head, too.\r\nThey come to a stairway that seems to circle down forever. Up from the depths comes a smell of sulfur and a articulation of heat. Faintly he can hear what readiness be screams and moans. The clank of machinery is louder. There are alarming creaking sounds that might be belts and chains.\r\nTy pauses, thinking the old guy wont zap him again unless he perfectly has to. Because Ty might fall down this long note staircase. Might hit the place on his head the old guy already clipped with the rock, or break his neck, or tumble right off the side. And the old guy wants him alive, at least for now. Ty doesnt know why, but he knows this intuition is true.\r\nâ€Å"Where are we going, confuseer?”\r\nâ€Å"Youll find out,” Burny says in his tight, out-of-breath voice. â€Å"And if you think I dont dare zap you while were on the stairs, my little peer, youre very mistaken. at once get walking.”\r\nTyler Marshall starts down the stairs, descending past vast galleries and balconies, around and down, around and down. Sometimes the air smells of putrid cabbage. Sometimes it smells of burned candles. Sometimes of wet rot. He counts a hundred and fifty steps, then stops counting. His thighs are burning. Behind him, the old man is gasping, and twice he stumbles, cursing and holding the antique banister.\r\nFall, old man, Ty chants inside his head. Fall and die, fall and die.\r\nBut at last they are at the bottom. They arrive in a circular room with a dirty glass ceiling. Above them, gray thresh hangs down like a filthy bag. There are pla nts oozing out of broken pots, displace greedy feelers across a floor of broken orange bricks. Ahead of them, two doors ?? French doors, Ty thinks they are called ?? stand open. Beyond them is a crumbling patio encircled by ancient trees. Some are palms. Some ?? the ones with the hanging, ropy vines ?? might be banyans. Others he doesnt know. One thing hes sure of: they are no longer in Wisconsin.\r\nStanding on the patio is an objective he knows very well. Something from his own world. Tyler Marshalls eyes well up again at the visual sense of it, which is almost like the sight of a face from home in a hopelessly foreign place.\r\nâ€Å"Stop, monkey-boy.” The old man sounds out of breath. â€Å"Turn around.”\r\nWhen Tyler does, hes pleased to see that the blotch on the old mans shirt has pass out even farther. Fingers of blood now stretch all the way to his shoulders, and the waistband of his baggy old blue jeans has gone a muddy black. But the hand holding the Taser is rock-steady.\r\nGod damn you, Tyler thinks. God damn you to hell.\r\nThe old man has put his bag on a little table. He simply stands where he is for a moment, getting his breath. Then he rummages in the bag (something in there utters a faint metallic clink) and brings out a soft brownness cap. Its the kind guys like Sean Connery sometimes wear in the movies. The old man holds it out.\r\nâ€Å"Put it on. And if you try to take in my hand, Ill zap you.”\r\nTyler takes the cap. His fingers, expecting the texture of suede, are surprised by something metallic, almost like tinfoil. He feels an unpleasant buzz in his hand, like a mild variant of the Tasers jolt. He looks at the old man pleadingly. â€Å"Do I have to?”\r\nBurny raises the Taser and bares his teeth in a silent grin.\r\nReluctantly, Ty puts the cap on.\r\nThis time the bombinate fills his head. For a moment he cant think . . . and then the hint passes, leaving him with an odd sense of weakness in his m uscles and a throbbing at his temples.\r\nâ€Å"Special boys need special toys,” Burny says, and it comes out sbecial boyz, sbecial toyz. As always, Mr. Munshuns ridiculous tenseness has rubbed off a little, thickening that touch of mho Chicago Henry detected on the 911 tape. â€Å" like a shot we can go out.”\r\nBecause with the cap on, Im safe, Ty thinks, but the idea breaks up and drifts away almost as soon as it comes. He tries to think of his middle recognize and realizes he cant. He tries to think of the bad crows name and cant get that, either ?? was it something like Corgi? No, thats a kind of dog. The cap is messing him up, he realizes, and thats what its supposed to do.\r\nNow they pass through the open doors and onto the patio. The air is redolent(p) with the smell of the trees and bushes that surround the back side of Black House, a smell that is heavy and cloying. Fleshy, somehow. The gray sky seems almost low enough to touch. Ty can smell sulfur and s omething bitter and electric and juicy. The sound of machinery is much louder out here.\r\nThe thing Ty recognized sitting on the broken bricks is an E-Z-Go play pram. The Tiger Woods model.\r\nâ€Å"My pop music sells these,” Ty says. â€Å"At Goltzs, where he works.”\r\nâ€Å"Where do you think it came from, asswipe? model in. Behind the swan.”\r\nTy looks at him, amazed. His blue eyes, perhaps give thanks to the effects of the cap, have grown bloodshot and or else confused. â€Å"Im not old enough to drive.”\r\nâ€Å"Oh, youll be fine. A baby could drive this baby. Behind the wheel.”\r\nTy does as he is told. In truth, he has driven one of these in the lot at Goltzs, with his father sitting vigilantly beside him in the passenger seat. Now the hideous old man is easing himself into that same place, groaning and holding his punch midsection. The Taser is in the other hand, however, and the steel tip body pointed at Ty.\r\nThe key is in th e ignition. Ty turns it. Theres a natter from the battery beneath them. The dashboard light reading CHARGE glows bright green. Now all he has to do is push the accelerator pedal. And steer, of course.\r\nâ€Å"Good so far,” the old man says. He takes his right hand off his middle and points with a bloodstained finger. Ty sees a path of discolored gravel ?? once, before the trees and underbrush encroached, it was probably a driveway ?? leading away from the house. â€Å"Now go. And go slow. Speed and Ill zap you. Try to smash-up us and Ill break your wrist for you. Then you can drive one-handed.”\r\nTy pushes down on the accelerator. The golf dredge jerks forward. The old man lurches, curses, and waves the Taser threateningly.\r\nâ€Å"It would be easier if I could take off the cap,” Ty says. â€Å"Please, Im pretty sure that if youd just let me ?? â€Å"\r\nâ€Å"No! Cap stays! Drive!”\r\nTy pushes down gently on the accelerator. The E-Z-Go rolls acr oss the patio, its brand-new rubber tires crunching on broken shards of brick. Theres a bump as they leave the pavement and go rolling up the driveway. Heavy fronds ?? they feel damp, sweaty ?? brush Tylers arms. He cringes. The golf cart swerves. Burny jabs the Taser at the boy, snarling.\r\nâ€Å"Next time you get the juice! Its a promise!”\r\nA serpent goes writhing across the overgrown gravel up ahead, and Ty utters a little scream through his clenched teeth. He doesnt like snakes, didnt even want to touch the harmless little corn snake Mrs. Locher brought to school, and this thing is the size of a python, with ruby eyes and fangs that prop its mouth open in a complete(a) snarl.\r\nâ€Å"Go! Drive!” The Taser, waving in his face. The cap, buzzing faintly in his ears. Behind his ears.\r\nThe drive curves to the left. Some sort of tree burdened with what look like tentacles leans over them. The tips of the tentacles tickle across Tys shoulders and the goose-prickl ed, hair-on-end nape of his neck.\r\nOurr boyy . . .\r\nHe hears this in his head in spite of the cap. Its faint, its distant, but its there.\r\nOurrrrr boyyyyy . . . yesssss . . . ourrrrs . . .\r\nBurny is grinning. â€Å"Hear em, dontcha? They like you. So do I. Were all friends here, dont you see?” The grin becomes a grimace. He grip his bloody middle again. â€Å"Goddamned blind old fool!” he gasps.\r\nThen, suddenly, the trees are gone. The golf cart rolls out onto a glowering, crumbling plain. The bushes dwindle and Ty sees that farther along they give way entirely to a crumbled, bouldered scree: hills rise and fall beneath that sullen gray sky. A few birds of enormous size wheel lazily. A shaggy, slump-shouldered creature staggers down a narrow defile and is gone from sight before Ty can see exactly what it is . . . not that he wanted to. The thud and pound of machinery is stronger, shaking the earth. The crump of pile drivers; the clash of ancient gears; the holler out of cogs. Tyler can feel the golf carts steering wheel thrumming in his hands. Ahead of them the driveway ends in a wide road of beaten earth. Along the far side of it is a wall of round vacuous stones.\r\nâ€Å"That thing you hear, thats the Crimson Kings power plant,” Burny says. He speaks with pride, but there is more than a tinge of tutelage beneath it. â€Å"The Big Combination. A million children have died on its belts, and a zillion more to come, for all I know. But thats not for you, Tyler. You might have a future after all. First, though, Ill have my flake of you. Yes indeed.”\r\nHis blood-streaked hand reaches out and caresses the top of Tys buttock.\r\nâ€Å"A good agents entitled to ten percent. Even an old buzzard like me knows that.”\r\nThe hand draws back. Good thing. Ty has been on the brink of screaming, holding the sound back only by thinking of sitting at Miller Park with good old George Rathbun. If Id really entered the Brewe r Bash, he thinks, none of this would have happened.\r\nBut he thinks that may not actually be true. Some things are meant to be, thats all. Meant.\r\nHe just hopes that what this horrible old creature wants is not one of them.\r\nâ€Å"Turn left,” Burny grunts, settling back. â€Å" common chord miles. Give or take.” And, as Tyler makes the turn, he realizes the ribbons of mist rising from the ground arent mist at all. Theyre ribbons of smoke.\r\nâ€Å"Sheol,” Burny says, as if reading his mind. â€Å"And this is the only way through it ?? Conger Road. Get off it and there are things out there thatd pull you to pieces just to hear you scream. My friend told me where to take you, but there might be just a leedle change of plan.” His pain-wracked face takes on a sulky cast. Ty thinks it makes him look extraordinarily stupid. â€Å"He hurt me. Pulled my guts. I dont trust him.” And, in a horrible childs singsong: â€Å"Carl Bierstone dont trust Mr. Munshun! Not no more! Not no more!”\r\nTy says nothing. He concentrates on keeping the golf cart in the middle of Conger Road. He risks one look back, but the house, in its ephemeral wallow of tropical greenery, is gone, blocked from view by the first of the wear away hills.\r\nâ€Å"Hell have whats his, but Ill have whats mine. Do you hear me, boy?” When Ty says nothing, Burny brandishes the Taser. â€Å"Do you hear me, you asswipe monkey?”\r\nâ€Å"Yeah,” Ty says. â€Å"Yeah, sure.” wherefore dont you die? God, if Youre there, why dont You just reach down and put Your finger on his rotten heart and stop it from beating?\r\nWhen Burny speaks again, his voice is sly. â€Å"You looked at the wall on tother side, but I dont think you looked close enough. Better take another gander.”\r\nTyler looks past the slumped old man. For a moment he doesnt understand . . . and then he does. The big white stones stretching endlessly away along the far s ide of Conger Road arent stones at all. Theyre skulls.\r\nWhat is this place? Oh God, how he wants his mother! How he wants to go home!\r\nBeginning to cry again, his brain numbed and buzzing beneath the cap that looks like cloth but isnt, Ty pilots the golf cart deeper and deeper into the furnace-lands. Into Sheol.\r\n give up ?? help of any kind ?? has never seemed so far away.\r\n'

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