Friday, October 05, 2007

Chapter 20: The Java Beast is Spotted!

That's right, John Agar fans! Another chapter of Night Of The Java Beast has emerged from the primordial gumbo!

The dry early morning desert air was heating up and going stale so as to become the embarrassment-inducing dry late-morning-approaching-the-noon-hour desert air. My trusty black 1949 convertible was purring along the nearly empty highway, and the lovely Linda was purring right along with it.

“Oh Cal! The desert seems so desolate and empty, but it’s not frightening at all! Back in Indiana I never would have imagined it, but… it’s beautiful! I can see why you love it.”

“The view is certainly wonderful from where I’m sitting,” I said, smiling with my voice full of macho charm. Thank goodness for bench seats and a complete lack of seat belt laws! She slid in closer, and I snaked my right arm around her, steering with my left. Occasionally I hugged her tighter to me as I reached down to shift into higher gear and show the girl what the machine was really capable of. You may think that this is impossible, but not for me, Cal Parker, square-jawed hero of this story!

The invisible orchestra faded out our love theme and began to play something alarming and atmospheric in a minor key as a pillar of smoke appeared on the horizon. Linda’s eye’s widened, and her voice trembled as she pointed to the smoke.

“Cal? What’s that over there?”

Had she been watching the traffic signs rather than spending the whole drive staring adoringly at me—and who could blame her?—Linda might have seen the sign reading “Los Arroyos - 7, San Morteño - 13.”

“That looks like Los Arroyos!”

It was. What had been a small, tight-knit community of big-hearted people was now a ghost town—a flattened, crumbling ruin of a ghost town. Any survivors of the destruction had no doubt fled, but the number of crumpled wrecks in streets and parking lots led me to believe that there had been none.

“Cal! What happened here?”

My own ignorance of the situation and inability to concoct a decent, comforting lie to hide that fact disturbed me beyond my wildest imagination. I was completely out of my element, here!

“I—I don’t know…” I said.

“And what’s that horrid stench?” Linda went on, wrinkling her nose but still managing to look like the cute girl reporter she was. “It smells like someone dragged a ship-load of fish through the wreckage.”

“Phew! I don’t know what that is, either, but I’d bet anything that it has something to do with that.” I pointed to what looked like a giant octopus oozing across the desert in the vicinity of San Morteño. “We've got to find a phone!”

The calamity continues!

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

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