Theory of the Worm - Chapter 2
“Dude!” the man was yelling while vigorously shaking Mark. “Wake up, Dude! It’s almost time to go!”
Mark had some trouble at first but then he looked at who was shaking him. The guy was at least six feet tall, stick thin, olive-skinned and had a shock of thick white hair on his head that seemed to fly out in all directions. Mark was fully awake and scrambling off his bed. Stammering out, “Who are you?” he tried to think what to do next.
“Never mind who I am, you need to pack, buddy!” the man said, or rather shouted. He was really animated in everything he did; he seemed to radiate a sort of tenseness and urgency, a real need to get things moving. He wore small, dark glasses so you couldn’t see his eyes and a long, dark coat over a button-down white shirt and dark slacks. Mark, who normally didn’t notice shoes, did notice the odd footwear on this guy.
“Screw you!” Mark shouted back at the man. Then he started yelling for his dad. That was when he realized that the house was rumbling and starting to shake. “What’s going on?” he yelled.
“It’ll be here soon, you have to get ready to go!” the man with the white hair yelled back. The rumbling was getting louder and they needed to raise their voices to be heard over the noise.
“Screw you!” Mark repeated. He was becoming aware that no one was coming, even though he had been yelling for his parents. “Where’s Mom? Where’s Dad? Where’s Ben?”
The man seemed to be ignoring his questions. “Mark, you have to get ready to go!” he yelled, grabbing Mark by the shoulders.
His grip hurt and Mark yelled out in pain. He tried to get the man’s hands off him and yelled, “I’m not going anywhere until I see Mom and Dad and Ben!”
“Dude, you do not have a choice!” the man yelled, enunciating each syllable clearly in order to be heard over the growing roar. “It is now 7:02 and pretty soon you’ll be leaving whether you want to or not!”
The house was shaking almost like it was made of jelly now. Furniture was falling over. He looked over at his desk and saw his schoolbooks had fallen over and the papers stuffed in them were all over the floor. His laptop was rattling around on the table, jumping around. He couldn’t help looking at it, even with everything going on. The screen was showing a picture of a pleasant valley that he had never seen before. “Where did that come from?” he wondered out loud.
The rumbling stopped.
“Hey, the rumbling stopped,” Mark observed. He looked around at the shambles his room was in .
“Yeah, don’t think that’s such a good sign,” the strange man responded.
“Now is not the time to ask questions. If you’re not going to pack, I would suggest you at least grab your jacket there,” the man pointed at the windbreaker Mark’s mom had made him take to school yesterday. After getting home, when he had pulled his schoolbooks out of his backpack he had hung the jacket on the back of his chair.
“I told you, I’m not going anywhere until I see Mom and Dad and Ben! How do I know they’re even okay?”
The man picked up the jacket, then spotted Mark’s shoes and socks on the floor next to his bed and picked those up too. “Dude, you are so going to miss these if we don’t take them.”
“I don’t know what you mean ‘we,’” Mark yelled. He tried to push against the man but it was like pushing against a rock, hard and painful. The weird man kept looking around Mark’s room and every time he turned his head his hair waved like some weird mutant wheat field. Spotting Mark’s backpack, he picked up the two-toned canvas bag and stuffed the jacket and shoes and socks into it. “Stop that!” Mark yelled out, again trying to push against the man and again receiving only pain for his attempt.
Looking at the clock on Mark’s bedside table, the man announced, “It’s 7:04, Bud.”
In complete exasperation, Mark said, “Would you quite calling me ‘Dude’ and ‘Bud’? My name is Mark!’
Stopping what he was doing, the man turned to look at Mark. The boy could see himself in the lenses of the man’s dark glasses. Looking straight at him, with no expression on his face, the man said, “I know what your name is.”
That stopped Mark. It was such a matter-of-fact statement that he simply didn’t know what to do with it. Finally he just asked, “Who are you?”
“Well it took you long enough!” the man exclaimed. “My name is Walker.”
“As a heart attack,” Walker answered, opening Mark’s dresser and pulling out some shirts and a pair of jeans.
“What are you doing?” Mark asked.
Rummaging through drawers, Walkers replied, “Looking for some protein bars or candy bars or something. Seriously, Dude, you may not be eating for a while and you’ll be sorry if we don’t take something with us…”
“Yeah, you keep acting like we’re going somewhere…”
“Yeah, in just about one minute.” Walker began tossing clothing out on the floor. “For real, you don’t have any snacks or anything shoved in a drawer somewhere?
“What? Yeah, I have some crap stuck in my desk.”
Moving over to the desk, pulling open drawers, Walker discovered some candy bars and bags of chips. “Well, it’s not healthy but it’ll be better than nothing.”
“Where are we going?” Mark finally managed to blurt out.
Moving over to Mark’s closet, Walker replied, “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”
“Try me,” Mark was getting testy. He wanted to grab the guy and throw him out of his room but he was still feeling sore from trying to push him earlier.
“Okay, that’s stupid.”
Walker stopped again, looking up, then snorted. “Yeah, I guess it does sound kind of stupid.” Resuming his rummaging, he said, “Sometimes I forget how things look to you guys.”
Throwing his hands up in the air, Mark asked, “Now what’s that even supposed to mean? What is going on here, anyway?”
Pulling a few more shirts off of hangers and stuffing them in the backpack, Walker answered, “I keep trying to tell you, man! You’re going on a trip!”
“And I keep trying to tell you that, too! You wouldn’t believe me if I told you!”
“That doesn’t even make any sense! None of this makes any sense!”
Closing the sliding door to the closet, Walker turned to look at Mark and said, “Yeah, and I’m sorry but that’s gonna get worse before it gets better.”
Turning toward his bedroom door, Mark said, “I’ve had enough! I don’t care if you’re hear to rob me or kill me or whatever, I’m going to get Dad!”
“Stop,” Walker said. He said it quietly, in a normal tone of voice.
Mark stopped. “Yeah? What?”
They both stood still and listened. It took a bit, but then Mark heard the rumbling again, and it was getting louder.
“I want to see Mom and Dad,” Mark said.
“Noted and understood but there’s no time.”
Running to his door, Mark tried to open it, but the rumbling had quickly gotten so bad that he couldn’t even hold onto the knob. He tried several times to grab it and turn it, but his hand kept sliding off. He was having trouble staying on his feet. Then suddenly he felt Walker’s powerful arm about slide under his arms and around his chest. “What are you doing?” Mark yelled. “What is going on here?”
Shoving the backpack onto Mark’s chest, Walker yelled, “Put your arms through the straps and hold on tight! This is going to be a bumpy ride!”
More confused than ever, Mark yelled, “What do you mean? What’s going on?”
“Just do it, Mark! It’s almost here!” Walker yelled right into Mark’s ear. The room was shaking like an earthquake that was at least a 7 on the Richter scale. The tacks keeping his team posters up on his wall were shaking right out. He watched as the basketball poster fell off and landed on his pillow, but it didn’t stay there. His computer flew off the desk and bounced on the floor, left then right then upside down. The drawers came out of his desk and dresser, all the clothes and papers flying around the room.
“Hold on!” Walker yelled and Mark felt the arm tighten around his chest to the point where he couldn’t breath. He had managed to slide one arm through and was clutching his backpack as best he could but he hadn’t gotten a good grip before the worst of the rumbling and was having trouble holding on.
Then all hell broke loose.
Mark couldn’t make sense of it as it was happening. The walls seemed to explode around him and the floor went up, down, and twisted all at the same time. Wood was flying everywhere, plaster seemed to be raining down on them, then it seemed to be going up as well. First the world got lighter, now it was getting darker. Looking to his left, he saw Walker holding onto something with his free hand, something that was sticking out of what looked like a big pink, fleshy wall. But the wall was moving and they were being dragged along with it. Looking down, he caught a quick glimpse of what looked like his neighborhood, though seen from the air instead of from the ground as he normally saw it. Directly beneath them was what looked like his house, except that it appeared as though a bomb had been exploded in the middle of it and everything had been blown out. Then it looked like his city, from the air. Then the state, then the country, and finally the planet. Looking up, Mark saw space. Dark, empty, and whatever they were holding on to kept going for miles and miles, he couldn’t see the end of it.
Then he didn’t remember anything else.
copyright (c) 2014 christopher w neal
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