Today’s challenge from storyaday.org is a very unique, two-part prompt. The first part is supposed to be a fictionalized, third-person account of a mundane event from the writer’s life in the past week. And the second part switches to first-person and jumps 10 years ahead, to show how that event was unexpectedly significant.
So here’s my take!
Visitors on the Wind
The sky had already darkened by the time Gavin opened his front door for a better look. Sixty mile an hour winds roared from the southwest. The fuzzy green tops of the pine trees, which towered over the houses across the street, swished around like feather dusters, massive trunks below trembling. He idly wondered about the height of the nearest, and its distance from his house.
The screen door rattled in a fresh gust. Then flew open before he could grab the handle. It banged noisily off the siding. He chased after it, blinking away the gritty dust flying through the air. Through momentary tears, he thought he saw a faint shape descending from the clouds on the back of a wind current, like a rodeo rider on a bucking bull. Another heavy gust brushed past him, pouring through the open doors into the house. But he rubbed his eyes, and all was clear.
As he pulled the screen door shut, and twisted its lock to hold it, he saw his arms covered in goosebumps, hairs standing on end. Just a chill, he told himself. Even though it was rather warm, and it hadn’t rained a drop.
Gavin shivered and his attention shifted from above to below, the unremarkable, freshly-mowed yard. His imagination conjured a view of what lay beneath.
Any day now, that cicada brood was supposed to emerge after seventeen years beneath the ground. Trillions of them. All that waiting, just to go on a crazy bender for a month or so. Then die. See you again in seventeen years.
Ten years later, I still blame myself for not fixing the latch on that screen door. I knew it was busted, but it worked well enough on ordinary days. Unluckily, that was no ordinary day.
I found it easy enough to deny the signs, at first.
So what if my scented candles were blown out, sometimes? It was an old, drafty house. The pages of my books developed an annoying habit of fluttering like shuffled cards and losing my place. But that’s what Kindles were invented for, right? And I had that nice new one I’d picked up on a Black Friday sale, so really, mysterious indoor winds weren’t a problem.
Can you guess where this is going, yet? Well, probably not. It’s not like home invasions by Pazuzu — the demon of the southwest wind, famines, locusts, etc. — are an everyday occurrence. And count yourself lucky, because he’s a freeloading moocher.
Don’t tell him I said that.
Today, I find him at the breakfast table eating a bowl of — what else? — cicadas. He’s a lot less coy these days, and usually manifests in physical form. The lion head wouldn’t be so bad if he wasn’t still pretending to be confused by how shampoo and combs work. But the scorpion tail always freaks me out, even if the worst he uses it for is scratching his ears.
I don’t bother asking if he’s used up the last of the orange juice, I already know he has. Instead, I pull on a pair of heavy work boots, cinch up my bathrobe, and go out to fetch the morning paper.
The screen door rattles half-shut behind me. I still haven’t fixed that latch, but it’s on my to-do list. Any day now.
My boots crunch over a layer of plump insects filling the sidewalk. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like killing bugs, never did, and I always tried to relocate spiders outside. But there are questions of practicality. Besides, one’s benevolence gets worn down.
All the grass is gone, and the pine trees across the street are mere skeletons. The houses are mostly vacant, too, except for a few stubborn holdouts. It’s not uncommon to see the neighbors venture out, swinging away with a baseball bat or a tennis racket. I even saw a flamethrower made out of hairspray once. It’s the little things that keep us sane, even if it makes no dent in the cicadas’ numbers.
I stomp down to the end of the driveway and reach through about a foot of chittering cicadas until I feel the pavement. Come on. Despite my frequent requests, the paperboy just throws it wherever he feels like.
You would think after ten years, I’d get used to the feeling of tiny legs crawling all over my arm. But no.
At last, I find the newspaper, all the way under the car. I’m starting to suspect malice rather than inaccuracy.
Back inside, Pazuzu’s already turned on his soap operas, recorded earlier in the week. He waves his hand to clear a spot for me on the couch, and a swarm of cicadas scuttle off. Remember how I said he was the demon of locusts? Close enough, apparently. In ten years, he hasn’t explicitly confessed to being responsible for this never-ending plague. But there’s not exactly a long list of suspects.
I flop down beside him, unfolding the paper.
Ten-Year Anniversary Approaches
Scientists remain baffled by the brood that overstayed its welcome… attempts to chart an epicenter to the outbreak are frustrated… radical groups have begun calling for a nuclear strike on the affected areas…
With a sigh, I meekly ask, “How’s the hunt for a rental place going?”
His scorpion tail twitches, and I retreat to the far armrest. “You know, pretty good,” he says in his impossibly deep voice. “Made some calls, got some leads.”
I pointedly fold the paper open to the apartment listings and offer it to him. But he is supernaturally incapable of taking a hint. Without hesitation, he thumbs through to find the funny pages, which he always mumbles to himself even though I’m trying to hear the TV.
The past ten years have seen some remarkable innovation in the realm of soap operas, and this one has its own cinematic universe, complete with movies, spinoffs, toys, video games. The classic good twin/evil twin dynamic has evolved into a group of identical octuplets, though half of them were swapped at birth, and another is a phony, who got plastic surgery to trick the others.
I’m not really into it, though. I just have to watch it because Pazuzu likes it.
Reading the comics, his mouth pulls into a slow, leonine smile. “This Cathy reboot is the pinnacle of humanity. ‘Ack!’” He rumbles with demonic laughter.
“Hey, don’t spoil it.” I peer over his arm to read the strip before he inevitably does.
I don’t know if Pazuzu is slowly bringing on the apocalypse, killing off humanity, or anything like that. Or whether he’ll move out anytime this century. But you’ve got to take time to enjoy the little things.
Thanks for reading!