View Full Version : Thirty Minutes Or Less, part 2 of 2 (language, some violence)

June 27th, 2013, 11:27 AM
It was a week later when Lykes Security Company allowed Gerard to return to his post at the phosphate plant site. Of course there had been questions. Lots of questions. Gerard swore to the police that the Marcello's driver had never shown up and that was all he knew. He told his supervisor the same. Everyone was concerned about the kid. What exactly had happened that rainy night last week? Gerard stuck hard to his story; he saw no one that night. The phosphate plant site had been searched by an impressively large police crew but there was no evidence of any wrongdoing. Gerard was cleared. Finally it was decided that the kid was a runaway.

As Gerard sat inside the tower office, leaning back with his feet on the table, he chuckled to himself at how smoothly it all went a week ago. Not even the cops had realized just how huge the phosphate plantsite or its adjoining polluted lake was. He stared out of the tower window into the night, noting to himself that, hell, this area was so big, anything could be buried out there and who would know? For that matter, you could drive a dozen pickup trucks straight into that dirty lake, but with the water so dark and cloudy, who'd find them?

It occurred to him that he had forgotten to pack his lunch for his first night back. The events of last week must have preoccupied his mind. No problem, he thought, pulling his phone out of his pocket. He sat up and dialed Marcello's number.

“I want a large meat-fanatics pizza, please,” Gerard told the girl onthe other end. “My name's Gerard Ramsey and I'm located at--”

The line disconnected.

He redialed and spoke again, only louder. “What'd you hang up on me for? I just want a friggin' large meat-fanatics pizza. Send it to Gerard Rams--”

He heard another click followed by the dial tone.

He was practically screaming into the phone after he called again. “What is your damn problem? Look, I had nothing to do with your driver's disappearance last week! Now are you gonna send me a meat-fanatics pizza, or do I have to drive over there and--”

No use. She hung up.

There was nothing for him to do now but sit and stew. His stomach growled. It was going to be a long night. Looking out the window, he noticed it was beginning to rain outside. He hoped it wouldn't turn into a storm. That would make it more difficult to make his rounds.

Lightning hit about a quarter mile away, right into the same phosphate mine where Gerard had used his shovel to, well....

He chuckled to himself again, listening to the expected thunder boom. The sound seemed to shake the window and the tower walls. Then the rain really began to come down, pounding against the large window glass. Gerard decided to stay in tonight and not make his usual rounds. The next half hour or so he passed by doodling bloody cat faces on the back of his report sheet. Damned if he wasn't getting hungrier....

There was a knock at the door.

Gerard jumped out of his chair.

“Marcello's pizza!” a low, croaking voice called out from the other side of the door.

Gerard's breath quickened as he forced himself to think. He rubbed one shaking hand across his mouth, the other hung limply by his side. His heartbeat became noticeable. What's the matter with me? he thought. It's just a stupid pizza delivery. I did order a pizza, didn't I? Mindlessly, he checked his watch. It was about thirty minutes since he called Marcello's, more or less. He tried to steady his feet as he approached the door.

When he put his hand on the doorknob and turned it, the door burst open, slamming into the wall beside it. He backed away, shielding his eyes from another lightning strike outside. He was stricken once again by an odor of sulfur...and something else. As thunder boomed all around and the rain hit him in the face, he blinked once, trying to focus his eyes, and then stared straight ahead, too scared to move.

The sight of the charred, humanoid thing standing there and wearing a dirty Marcello's uniform, made Gerard's bowels let loose.

“Well, if it isn't ol'...Gerard the guard,” the man-thing said in the same low voice while holding up a torn black insulation bag. As it spoke, Gerard wondered crazily if that was phosphate powder dropping out from its mouth--if you could call it a mouth--in loose, gray clumps.

“I have good news concerning your meat-fanatics pizza, sir,” the man-thing said. It pulled out from the insulation bag a battered and filthy pizza box. “It's free.”

Something snapped inside Gerard's mind, so help him, something snapped audibly.

“What,”the thing continued, “don't you want it? Hm, maybe you're worried we got the order wrong. Let's both take a look at this pie, shall we?” The scorched man-thing kneeled down, placed the pizza box on the floor, and lifted the top.

Gerard looked at what was inside the box. Then he began to cry.

“Well, I'll be darned. It's wrong after all, isn't it?” the thing said, looking up at Gerard. “This isn't our meat-fanatics pizza, this is a phosphate pizza. What a mix-up!” It stood up and took a step toward Gerard, dragging its other foot along. “We'll have to fix that, won't we? Now then, where can I find us some meat to put on this pizza?”

The security guard backed up a step. He whispered, “You're d-dead.”

“Yes, I know,” it said matter-of-factly while nodding. “Which means the liver and guts inside my body are all shriveled, burnt-up, and...quite inedible. Bitch, ain't it? Now your liver and guts on the other hand...” The thing was looking at Gerard with wide-eyed wonder. Its eyes were filmy, dark yellow. Then the dead man limped forward again, reaching out with its charred hands, claw-like fingers extended.

Gerard, sobbing louder now, leaned away from the ugly pair of hands, then took two steps back. Okay, God, I'm ready to wake up now. “H-how d-did y-y-you...” he muttered to the man-thing.

“Come here? Well, you'd be surprised what a combination of delicious phosphate saturation and fresh lightning can do to a body. Anyway, I woke up, dug myself out, and couldn't find my pickup truck anywhere, so I just took my pizza insulator bag and walked on over. Unfortunately, I took over thirty minutes to deliver the pie, and I know how you feel about late pies.” Then the dead man-thing stepped forward two steps and grinned, showing yellow-green teeth.

It grabbed Gerard by the throat with one hand and squeezed tight in a vise-like grip, lifting the security guard up six inches.

Another bolt of lightning struck the tower, right in front of the window. Thunder boomed excruciatingly loud. Then the lights in the tower office went out. Everything was black.

“What are you doing to meeee,” Gerard managed to scream in the darkness, his legs pumping the air.

“I'M CHOKIN' YA, DUDE! I'M CHOKIN' YA!” the dead man screamed back, tightening his grip until Gerard could breathe no more.

Gerard kicked and his body shook for about a minute and a half, then he stopped moving. As if it were possible, everything finally went even blacker.

But at least Gerard got a free pizza.


June 27th, 2013, 06:29 PM
hi pitbull,

one of the first and biggest things that struck me both in the prev installment and this is the overuse of italics for stress. sure it's fine occasionally, but you seem to use it quite a lot. that's a for sure 'non-pro' sign to publishers. with both the italicized thoughts and the many overstressed words, it's quite a bit of italics overkill.

also, you generally don't need both italicized thoughts along with a tag. usually one or the other as long as you're consistent in the method you use. italicized thoughts aren't really even needed these days, esp if you're already in the mc's head.

"in a vise-like grip" so so cliche. i'm pretty sure you could come up with something fresher.

I think the story itself was a bit Pet Cemetary-ish. i feel it would have been more interesting with some sort
of unexpected twist or a better/more interesting take on the returning dead.

just my personal thoughts.

Forgot to add one STRONG positive you have: you're easy to read. no super fancy, purply, "trying too hard to sound like a writer" phrases. no "lightening that looked liked angry luminescent vines" type stuff. I found that i could breeze easily through your story including the first part. i mostly have to force myself to read on a lot of times with some material because of the forced fanciness. a turn of a fancy phrase is nice now and then, but please hold on to that quality!

June 27th, 2013, 08:19 PM
Hi Lsahlm. Wow, what a terrific and helpful review. Thanks very much. I knew when I first came up with the story idea it wasn't all that original, and I did read Pet Sematary some time ago and enjoyed it. Little did I realize it would influence me so much. I'll have to come up with something more original next time, but those "unexpected twist" endings you speak of are not easy to think up. I had no idea I was easy to read, but I do need to watch those trite phrases. Also, no more italics in my next story, promise. Again, thank you for your criticisms and kind compliments.

June 27th, 2013, 09:33 PM
...but those "unexpected twist" endings you speak of are not easy to think up.
no argument there!

Also, no more italics in my next story, promise.

and yes, despite my little nits, reading through was pleasurable. thx for that.