The other night, I was sitting up late in my office, trying to finish up some work, when music started filtering through the open window. It was kind of a kicking beat, but the only lyrics I could make out were: Outta my truck, outta my truck, outta my truck, get outta my truck. After a while, I started wondering if whoever it was would ever get out of the dang truck. A few years ago, a friend of mine posted about being someone who got very easily distracted by noise or any auditory stimuli, and how that made it hard to get work done with the windows open. And then somehow, all that mixed and mingled together with today’s prompt, “eviscerate,” and become this story. Enjoy!
Day 8: Eviscerate
“Two, four, six, eight, who do we eviscerate?”
The children had to be a few yards down, their voices ringing together in a ragged chorus. Mella looked up from her desk in annoyance. The window was open to catch the October breeze—one of the first nice days so far in a fall season that had been unusually hot, even for Fayetteville.
“One, three, five, seven, send her soul to search for heaven!”
That was a super creepy nursery rhyme. Not one she remembered from when she was a kid.
She grimaced. The neighborhood they’d moved into had seemed very specifically non-kid friendly. There was a school maybe a mile away, and sometimes late on Friday nights they’d hear the marching band at one of the interminable football rallies, but she and Liza were usually kicking back on the back porch with a cold drink at that point, not trying to merge client files in an Excel spreadsheet that was currently defying everything spreadsheets were supposed to do.
A bloodcurdling shriek, followed by maniacal laughter. Kids really were little sociopaths. Should she close the window? Whose yard was that, anyway? And how old were the kids?
They’d looked at houses on the other side of the neighborhood, ones with wide yards, flat driveways, that came with pre-standing playsets and jungle gyms. But none of those houses had caught their eye, and they’d been in the final stages of deciding that path wasn’t for them, anyway.
This side of the small pond that bisected the neighborhood, they had thought was quieter, the homes larger, the cars more expensive. People who lived here had grandchildren and dogs, not lawns full of screaming children playing weird games.
The giggling devolved into another shriek, and then some shouted back and forth, unintelligible. It sounded like the game had gone the wrong way for some of the players as the laughing and shouting died down, grew angrier, then faded away.
Mella rolled her eyes and whispered, “Thank you!” She pushed back from her desk, briefly wondering if she should go upstairs and make some fresh coffee, take a break, stretch her legs. Come back to the spreadsheet with fresh eyes.
“Two, four, six, eight, who do we EVISCERATE?”
She groaned and slumped forward, resting her elbows on her desk, her forehead in her hands.
“Ten, TWELVE, the Devil’s MATE, Fourteen, SIXTEEN, she’ll meet her FATE.”
Their voices chanted in unison, more together than the music group she and Liza met up with once a month to sing shanteys with. Guess they’d made up and started playing together again. It wasn’t a nice rhyme, whatever it was, but Mella had given up trying to understand kids once they’d passed on the opportunity. She couldn’t remember ever running with large packs of other kids her age even when she was younger, no reason to spend time trying to figure it out now. She hoped that there was at least one parent supervising.
Another scream sounded. This one seemed closer. Were the kids on the move? Now she really should get up and close the window. But even if they did go by the house, it was set up on a hill, back from the street. They wouldn’t even see her, let alone… what would they do if they did? Procrastination was giving her too much time to think about this. They were just kids playing.
She really should get a cup of coffee. As the thought crossed her mind, something thumped upstairs.
“Luna?” She sat up, alert now, and waited. Their cat was constantly jumping up on things and knocking knickknacks around. “You better not be on the table!”
A shuffling sound answered her.
“Liza? You home early?” There were at least four more hours to go on Liza’s shift at the urgent care clinic, but she’d been known to come home for a quick bite when she forgot her lunch. “Hon?”
The normal sounds of the empty house settled back in. Mella held her breath just a few moments more, but the kids’ screaming had vanished. Maybe they’d all gone back inside to watch TV or play video games or whatever. Maybe they’d been on a break from class, and now they were back in front of their computers.
She really did need a break of her own. Sighing, she jiggled her mouse to wake her computer back up. As the computer grudgingly came back to life, Mella looked out the window.
“Dammit!” Mella jumped up from her chair. The kids had gone too far, clustering at the bottom of the hill, gazing up at her. She opened the window wider and raised her voice, pitching it to carry to the street. “What are you kids doing?”
They looked up at her and smiled. She stepped back from the window. They crowded around, inches from the screen, peering at her, in the office, all smiles and teeth and jeans and T-shirts.
“Get back.” Mella stepped back and pointed behind them. “You all are trespassing. What house do you live in?”
And then they were crowded into the little office, pushing aside the files and binders, the books that had not yet been stacked on the shelves, reaching out with almost gentle tenderness, touching her clothes and hair and hands.
Two, four, six, eight, who do we—
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