Alien - Series Fan Fiction ❯ Floating ❯ PART 2: THE HOUSE ON NEIBOLT STREET ( Chapter 3 )
“I-Is it o-ok i-i-if Rich-c-chie comes with u-u-us.” Bill said. With his stutter it was hard to make out the words, but I could make out “Richie come with us”. What choice did I have? Richie was already there sitting on his bike expecting me to say no and for me to tell him he would have to bike back home. I had never been this close to Richie before. He had very box-like glasses that covered up half his face. His hair was darker than mine and his eyes were bluer than mine.
“Ya that’s fine.”
“We can’t ride long, we have to meet some people.” Richie said in his best Shelley Berman impression. It was a horrible impression. I had seen Berman’s stand up on TV once.
“Y-y-ya sorry abo-o-out that.” Again Bill smiles. This one seemed more fake then the one last night, but I didn’t give that a thought.
“I probably have to get home soon anyway, well after we ride anyway.” Bill had the best looking bike out of all of us. HIs bike was a new model, a 1959 Jaguar Mark IV. He said he bought it for 24 dollars but I knew that was a lie. It was a new model and his family had a lot more money then mine did so he could buy better stuff. Richie was the first to start riding. We started riding down Witcham Street. This was the same street where Bill’s younger brother, Georgie, was last seen and the street we lived on.
“HI HO SILVER ,AWAY” Bill yelled at the top of his lungs. It was the first time I had seen Bill not stutter. It felt weird and made me shudder.
“Do you always have to fucking say that?” Richie replied to Bill.
“I-i-it helps me to-o go fas-st-ster.” Bill wasn't lying; he started going a lot faster than me and Richie.
“Wait the hell up, Bill.” Bill started slowing down. I was the first out of us to spot Henry Bowers and his goons.
“Guys, there's Henry.” I pointed down Witcham street.
“Ah shit Bill what do we do?” I thought it was kinda dumb to have Bill answer since he had a stutter but clearly Richie had a lot of trust in him.
“L-Lets go down this s-t-treet.” I knew the street he was pointing to. Everyone knew this street. It was the street where the hobos and junkies lived. West Broadway used to be a busy street but after the big flood people left Derry. We learned about the flood during Derry history 101 in school. It was a boring class because most of Derry's history was lost after every flood.
We were all hesitant to go down the street. We had all heard stories. I didn’t believe them but knew they could be true. We decided that we would rather take this chance then deal with Henry Bowers. We started riding, pedaling as fast as we could until we got to the end of Broadway. We caught our breath for a few seconds before crossing the street to the other end.
“Richie wh-what time is i-i-it?”
“Twelve thirty. We gotta go Bill.” They both looked at me.
I shrugged and said, “I will be fine. See you guys some other time.”
“Ya, right,” Richie said laughing.
“Beep be-beep Ri-ichie.” Bill once again looked at me and smiled; this one was different though, it might have been real. I wouldn't know. I never talked to them again. They waved goodbye and were off. I decided I would ride my bike down the street then back to my house. I knew the way as I had gone this way before. I started riding down Kansas street when I passed the Neibolt street church. I had gone in when we first moved here but never went back. I mostly never wanted to go back as the abandoned house near it always gave me the creeps. I had once seen a man crawl out from under the house and had never wanted to go near that place again. I decided today I would face those fears. I walked past the line that divided Kansas Street and Neibolt Street. I felt like I had gone invisible in that instance. It felt good but also scary. I wondered how fear and happiness could correspond in the same universe. I laughed at myself for getting so deep. Getting deep was for deep thinkers, which I am not. Having a short attention span doesn't help.
As I was about to head back out into the street I saw my dad waving his head back and forth inside the Neibolt house. I stopped dead in my tracks and looked in the house. I could see that he wasn't actually dead, I thought as I found my body start to lurch forward towards the house.
I felt something brush up against my calves. I jumped farther towards the house and tripped over a sewer drain. I looked over to my left and looked at what had brushed up against me. It was a cat. A goddamn cat scared me. I should have known that it was a cat. The cat had dark green eyes and a pristine black coat, weird for a stray. I thought as it laid down in the street. I had a cat when I was 8, but he sadly left and never came back.
Bang. I jumped again, Jesus what is up with me and jumping today. I looked at where the sound came from. It came from inside the house. Oh shit, I thought, I had forgotten about my father. I looked through the window. I could see him better now that I was closer. I could see he had a piece of duct tape on his mouth. He was bleeding from the head. I didn’t know what to do. The cat started moving to the base of his house then headed under the porch and disappeared.
I looked back to the window to find my dad gone. I decided to go find him in the house. As I was walking my shirt caught on one of the metal fence posts and I ripped it loose. My shirt now had a hole in it and I found myself sweating profusely. The house had been abandoned for years or so my dad told me. I could see the house had collapsed a little and was sinking inward. I looked at it again, it almost looked like it was smiling. That gave me the creeps.
Creeeeaaaak. The front door swung open to reveal a lone balloon. I felt a hand on my shoulder and I screamed. I jumped to the side and fell on my butt in the grass. I felt a searing pain down my left butt cheek. I had fallen on a broken bottle. With my left butt cheek bleeding I stood up and looked for the person who had scared me so bad. I found him standing there looking at me. An older looking man who looked like he had been alive when America was founded.
“Do you have any change, little boy?” He spoke with a gritty tone. He had the same crystal blue eyes as my father and the same hairstyle. There was no mistake that he looked like my father but he didn’t talk like my father and my father was not poor.
“Jesus, sorry sir I don’t have any.” I answered. My voice was shaky and my left hand was dripping in blood. The crimson color of the blood dripped on the dead grass, if you could even call it that, leaving a trail of red wherever I went. I looked down at the trail and saw that the cat from earlier was licking up the blood.
“Hey, ChaChi, stop that.” The man said as he started to walk over. One of his rags caught on the posts and tore off. As it fell off I saw the clown's silver shirt. The man looked at me and the man’s face changed.
“Oh, are you so surprised?” my dad's voice came booming from the clown’s mouth. “Why won’t you float with me. Your brother did.” I was horrified. He somehow could sense this and started laughing. Then he started singing, “I ate your brother, your stupid big brother. Oh he tasted good that's why I needed more. That's why I killed your father, now he has become no more.” I started to run. I jumped back on my bike and started to pedal. I looked back to see if he was following me. The cat he called ChaChi was lying dead having its back torn off by the clown. The clown was staring at me with his head cocked to the side. Most likely the dead cat’s guts hung from his mouth. I pedaled faster and faster. I got to the church, turned the corner and started to head up Kansas Street.
I got another searing pain down my left leg. I was still bleeding heavily. I thought about going to the police but who would believe me. Maybe I was just crazy. Maybe there is no clown and it's just my imagination. I had not seen my brother, I had not seen my dad in the window. They were both dead. “THEY’RE BOTH DEAD GODDAMNIT.” I screamed that in my head but I might have also screamed it out loud. People started looking at me.
One protective mother covered her kids ear’s and said, “Say that foul language somewhere else.” I guess I had said it aloud. Embarrassed, I pedaled faster and faster till my leg started going numb.
I went down West Broadway again because it was the fastest way home. I didn't stop pedaling until I saw Bill’s house in the distance. I got off my bike and decided to walk the rest of the way. Limping all the way back home was not going to be easy. But I felt if I pedaled anymore my leg would fall off or go completely numb. I stopped to catch my breath. My nose wrinkled up like an old apricot. I was smelling the smoke from the cigarette that Mr. Blanc, Bill’s other neighbour, was smoking. He dropped his beer bottle and it shattered. I hated the smell of cigarettes and told myself I never would smoke. I knew I would, though, as everyone smoked no matter how bad it was for you.
“What the hell is wrong with you, Skip.” Mr. Blanc yelled, pointing at me. I couldn’t speak, my heart was still thumping like it was at a garage band, my lungs were as dry as the grass in front of the house on Neibolt street, and my mind was still racing trying to figure out what had happened.
“If you ain’t gonna answer, get the fuck off my lawn.” He finished off his statement by throwing his cigarette butt at me. I wasn't even on his lawn. I was still on the sidewalk. It didn’t matter, I decided to keep moving. I had heard Mr. Blanc had a shotgun, I wasn’t going to find out. I was almost to my house when I heard something from Bill’s garage.
I heard Bill say “Wherever IT happens, it’s all connected by the sewers.” Could they be talking about the clown? I couldn't help but feel relieved that I wasn’t crazy, but it also made me more scared because that meant that he was real.
I heard another kid say “The well house!”
“The house on Neibolt Street.” There was no mistake that that voice was Stanley Barber’s, the Jewish kid that had lost his Kippah a couple days ago. I could hear his voice shake.
“Tha-at’s where IT lives.”
“That’s where I saw it. That's where I saw the clown.” I didn’t know who said that, but I heard a huff of breath almost like the person had asthma.
I started running back to my house, still limping as my leg gave way. I fell down and grabbed the gardening ledge in front of my front yard. I pulled myself up and limped to my bike which I had dropped in front of Bill’s house. I heard screaming coming from the garage. My mind was racing and my adrenaline kicked in. I ran limping back into my house. I dropped my bike in my front lawn and ran into my house. My mom opened the door and I plowed into her knocking both of us down.
“Paul?” She looked at my left leg and yelled, “What happened to you, did you get beat up again?” I was about to reply no when I realized how she wouldn’t believe me if I said I saw Dad and he was tied up but he turned into a balloon. Then I saw a homeless guy turn into a clown and eat a cat.
“No, Mom. I fell on a broken bottle and cut my leg. I'm fine.” That was a lie but I wasn't going to tell her the truth. It was too late and she was already looking at my leg.
“Paul, you are not ok. Your leg is bleeding.” I crawled onto the couch. I was still bleeding. Now that I wasn't walking or riding my bike my leg felt a lot better. I could hear the irritation in my mom’s voice when she said, “Paul, we need to get in the car and go to the emergency room. No ifs or buts we are going and that's that.” There was no need to argue with her. I could see in her eyes that there was no arguing with her.
“Fine. Where were you this morning? I was looking for you.”
“Sorry Hon, I probably should have told you. I went to the police station. They wanted to tell me that your father's body had gone missing last night.” Could the clown just have taken the body and was just some kind of psycho. I didn’t think that was true though. I think psychos draw the line at cats. I thought all of this as I was walking to the car. I opened the car door and I saw Bill and his friends, The Losers’ Club, riding their bikes down the street I had just come back from. I put my head on the headrests and sighed.
My mom started the engine and pushed the gas pedal. I found the outside calming. I looked at the watch that used to be my father’s. He must have left it in the car the day before he. I stopped mid sentence. I decided it didn’t matter what happened to him because he was gone, he was dead. Just like my brother. I looked at the clock. The tick tick movement of the second hand mesmerized me. Why couldn’t life be like a hand on a clock. Nothing disrupted it. It didn’t need friends, even though it had them. It didn’t need to do anything but tick. It also didn’t need to worry about clowns or as Bill called it “IT”. We passed my school, we passed the library and we passed the bus terminal. I sat there in the car and looked straight outside. I thought to myself, this is a beautiful town. Don’t get me wrong but man does it have a dark side.
“Mom, why did we have to move here? I liked it back in Windham. I actually had friends.”
“You know honey if you gave people an actual chance maybe you would have friends.” I hate to admit it but she was right, I never actually talked to people and if someone talked to me I would ignore them.
“A week ago I tried talking to someone but they just moved past me. Wait, no it was two weeks ago.”
“I know it’s hard, Honey, but you have to try.” She never took her eyes off the road when she was talking to me. I didn’t answer. I didn’t want to talk about it anymore. I didn’t want to talk about my faults. We were almost to the hospital when I passed out. It felt good to sleep. It felt good to rest my body.
I don’t remember much after I blacked out, seeing as I basically got knocked out, but I had time to think about where my fear of clowns came from. I mostly remember the 1954 Halloween party that my family got invited to. I went as Superman, my favorite superhero at the time. My brother went as a rat. He had a big fear of rats, so did my mom, but I think he felt that if he went as a rat he wouldn’t be afraid of them anymore. At the time I had no real fear, no definitive fear. One of Zac’s friends decided to be a clown for Halloween. He was a clown in real life too. I had decided to get fresh air a little after the party started. Windham was a lot like Derry the more I thought about it. The cold winters and the rainy springs. One thing that they had different from each other is, in Derry I feared for my life and in Windham I never had to once.
I was sitting on one of the rocks next to a huge bush. It was one of those bushes that people carved sculptures out of. It was a cold night so I remember seeing my breath in the air. I heard rustling in the bushes so I stood up. I was a confident 7 year old, nothing could get in my way. So I stood up and yelled into the bushes, “You can’t scare me but nice try though.” No one came out and I was starting to get scared. I was about to run inside when a clown jumped out of the bushes. I knew it was one of Zac’s friends so I said, “Leave me alone.” The clown then ran towards me. The kid was about 5 foot 8 and towered over me. He was so close to my face that I could tell that he had been smoking.
“Oh I was just gonna see if you wanted to come in my van and we could drive away forever.” He started laughing. My hands started shaking, and I ran inside crying. I think back on it and laugh at how dumb it was to go back in the party screaming and crying. Zach had grabbed me and dragged me into one of the bedrooms. He asked me what was wrong so I told him. He calmed me down and made me feel safe. He had brought some cards from home, so we played through the rest of the party. That was the first night that Zach and I had become friends.
I awoke in the hospital bed. I looked around and spotted my mom, “Mom, how long was I out?” She screamed, I couldn't tell if it was because of happiness or fear, but she ran over and gave me a hug.
“Only a couple of hours. They stitched you back up. Do you feel better?” She had run out the room and was frantically calling for a nurse. While she was yelling like a crazy person I peered down at my leg. Where there had been blood and an open cut now showed stitches that would lead to a scar. I realized I would always look down at that scar and remember the clown. All the memories of today flooded back into my mind.
I looked out the window hoping it would take my mind off the cut and the memories. As I was trying to get settled my mom burst in with my doctor Dr. Muscraw.
“Why hello there, Paul, how are you feeling?” I knew how I was feeling, pretty confused about this whole damn town.
“Feeling a lot better. Thank you sir.” That was an even bigger lie. My whole left side felt like it was on fire.
“Well, Mrs. Sainx, I will prescribe some pain medication, but Paul here should stay off his leg for a while.” Mr. Muscraw was a little smaller than my dad but had a lot more muscle than him. His muscles bulged out of his shirt.
I hated taking medications. I had a hard time swallowing pills. When I was six years old, I had cut my foot on a nail that was sticking out of the floorboards. Mom gave me some pills to take, I had taken both at the same time and they got lodged in my throat. I have been scared of pills ever since.
After the doctor gave my mom my pills I sat up and put my shoes and socks on. My leg still ached but it felt good to start walking on it. The doctor said that I needed to rest for at least for one month.
The doctor called for a nurse to get me a wheelchair which was very unnecessary seeing as I could walk completely fine a few seconds ago. I didn’t tell him this because I didn’t feel like walking.
When the nurse got here I saw the wheel chair. It had cracks in the chair where some of the patients had picked at it. The big silver wheels made me think of the clown's big silver eyes, which made my spine tingle. I was sitting in the chair when I felt something grab my leg. I lifted my leg up and screamed.
My mom ran over to me, “Paul are you ok.”
“Mom, something grabbed me.” I was hyperventilating, I thought I might pass out again.
“Honey nothing grabbed you. There is no one else in this room except us.” pointing around the room. “You ready to go home, Bud?” I sat back down and breathed. I breathed in the good air then blew the bad air out. I nodded my head. I was ready to go home, I was ready to be in my own bed, I was ready to eat some food. My mom grabbed the handles on the back of my wheelchair and pushed me down the hall to the elevator.
As we passed a room labeled surgery I saw the clown's bright orange hair sticking out of the surgeon's cap. I then heard the last sound my brother ever heard, a flatline. My mom pushed the elevator going down button and we heard the whirring of the gears as the elevator descended down to our floor. When it got here the elevator doors opened with a screech. My mom pushed me in first and turned me around so I was facing out into the hallway. As the doors were closing I saw the clown come out of the surgery room and wave at me. I felt my body go limp again as the doors closed with a ka thunk and we descended downwards.
I always hated elevators, I hated the feeling of falling. I didn’t have a fear of heights but I didn’t like going down. When we reached the bottom floor the elevator bounced up and down then stood still. I thought I was going to throw up. My mom grabbed the handles again and started pushing me out the doors of the hospital. It was windy which was not uncommon for Derry. I could feel the wind push against me making a subtle but nice breeze.
When we reached my mom’s car, she pushed me around to my side and helped me into my seat. Then she folded up the wheelchair and put it into the back of the car. “Paul, Honey, I'm gonna have to get a job. We will have to make money somehow.” I just nodded and looked down at my hands. For the first time since his death I wished my father was still alive.
My mom started the car and reversed the car out of the hospital. As we were driving back home I said. “Mom, do you miss both of them?” It was a stupid question. I knew that, but I thought hearing that she cared about both of them would make me feel better.
“Paul. I think you already know the answer to that question.” She said again not taking her eyes off the road.
“I know. I just wanted to hear you say you did care about them.” I said, also not taking my eyes off the road.
“Paul. Your brother and father both loved you a lot. Even when they didn’t show it.” She paused, “You wanna know something. Love is the most powerful thing in the world. Love can bring nations together, it can bring families torn apart together. I promise you they are both looking down on us. We need to continue to love them so they know that they are missed, so that they can stay alive inside our hearts.” This time she took her eyes off the road and looked me in the eyes. “We need to keep the good memories inside our brain and the bad ones out. I know your father loved you so much, even though he was a real asshole sometimes, he really did love you. I also know for a fact that your brother loved you so much more than your dad or me could have, and I know that he is proud of what you have become.”
I started to cry. When finished I saw that we were home and that my mother had started crying too. I hugged her and didn’t let go. When she finished my mom repeated, “Love is the strongest thing on earth. Now let's get you inside.” She smiled and kissed my forehead. I smiled for the first time in a long time of pure happiness and I forgot all of my troubles with the clown. My mom grabbed the wheelchair and unfolded it. She pushed it up to my seat and I climbed in. Her phrase stuck in my head for a while. “Love is the strongest thing on earth.”