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[16 | Riddles of the Pounding] Download or Read PDF
When James gets home, he doesn’t hear anything. He sighs in relief and says, “Thank you, Jesus!”. He then maneuvers down his little hallway that stretches more than half the length of his tiny five hundred square foot apartment into the kitchen.
He opens up the cabinet, takes out a bottle of Tanqueray Gin, and pours a few ounces into a Collins glass over a golf ball-sized sphere of ice. He then grabs his notebook and ballpoint pen and retires to his rocking chair. Before sitting, he angles the chair next to the window for maximum exposure to the city.
He sips on the Gin for a few minutes, thinking, (Life is good. The universe will give you what you need if you ask for it, and what I need is some quiet time. The time-wave equations are almost complete. I just need to make the one last connection for them to be finalized. Once I find this connection, I can model them to show that my findings are what is needed for time-displacement to be feasible in our lifetime.)
Once he finished the Gin, he gets up and pours another few ounces over the shrinking sphere of ice. He returns to the rocking chair and takes his notebook off the windowsill. He opens it, and the moment the pen hits the paper, eight rapid thumps radiate from the half-broken ceiling.
Frustrated, James slams his notebook on the windowsill and stands erect from the rocking chair, leaving it swaying back-and-forth. He grabs Watson and exits his condo heading down the hall to the elevator. He waits at the elevators holding the ax with both hands staring at the butt. He imagines what someone’s skin wrapped skull would look like as it drives deep into the back of the cranium. (I bet the skin will fold inward, staying intact, and the hair will look like a fresh sheet of sod rolled out over a sunken hole.)
James lives on the sixth floor, so he thinks it would make sense that the pounding in his ceiling is coming from the 7th floor. He gets in the elevator and shoots up a layer. He arrives a few seconds later and begins walking up and down the hall pressing his ear up against every unit’s door—listening for the poundings—but he hears nothing more than televisions and conversations between people. Flustered and confused about the situation, he returns to his unit for another drink.
When he opens the door, he finds that the place is in pieces. The walls and ceiling had been smashed to bits. The floor is littered with jagged chunks of sheetrock. He walks into the condo feeling his feet crunch on pieces of drywall laying atop other pieces. The mess doesn’t register to him. He just makes his way back to the rocking chair, only stopping to fill a glass with more Gin.
After an unknown amount of time passes, James drunkenly swings his head around to look for the ax, but it isn’t where he left it when he came in. He starts to panic, thinking he may have left it somewhere in the building and someone may find it. He quickly gets up out of the chair and moves to the door. He walks through his condo like he is on ice, sliding his feet through the dust and pieces of wall, leaving what looks like a trail in a fresh snowfall.
Once out of the condo and in the halls, he makes his way to the elevators. When he arrives, he forgets why he is at the elevators and decides that it would be best to go to the lobby to see if there might be anyone to converse with. When the elevator reaches the lobby, and he exits it, he sees a few people dressed up. Some are standing, and others are sitting in the Victorian chairs. They are all holding holiday cocktails and have essences of Christmas tied to their outfits.
James hears music coming from the entertainment room. He stands near the elevator watching the people, and becomes angry for not receiving an invite to the party. The moment he takes a step towards the lobby area out of the elevator area, the sitting people stand up. When he takes another step, they all start walking towards the entertainment room. By the time his foot hits the line that divides the lobby and elevator area, the people had vanished into the party, leaving the lobby vacant.
A feeling of sadness devastates James. He feels unwanted, as if the people were purposely trying to get away from him.
He continues into the lobby. The music gets louder as he turns the corner and walks closer to the party. Right as he gets to the door, the music stops. He looks through the glass window cutout and sees a large group of people standing in the center of a dugout dance floor with steps that circumference it.
When the music starts back up, James cannot believe his eyes. He sees Jack materialize out of thin air right in the center of the dance floor, and he is gripping Watson with both hands.
James notices Jack is dressed in a long coat, winter boots, and a trapper hat with the flaps down. “I don’t remember him wearing that.”
Right as Jack’s body finished coming into existence, “We Wish You the Merriest” by Frank Sinatra, and Bing Crosby comes on the speakers.
James watches his eyes come into focus, turning solid black. He cannot quite make it out, but he thinks he lipread Jack saying, “Perfect timing.” Just as he heard the first chorus of the song begin to play. “We wish you the merriest, the merriest, the merriest, the merrieeeeeessssst yuuuuullllleeee yeearrrrrr!”
James continues observing him, anticipating his next move. He watches Jack’s eyes grow large and his grin wide, raising his dimples nearly to his forehead. It is eerily reminiscent of Dr. Suess’s Grinch. Jack’s hands then grip and twist around the belly of the ax tighter and tighter. “Oh God, what is he about to do?”
We wish you the merriest, the merriest, the merriest, yes, the merriest.
We wish you the merriest, the merriest, the merriest yule cheer.
We wish you the happiest, the happiest, the happiest, yeaass the happiest
We wish you the happiest, the happiest, the happiest new year.
As Frank and Bing sing on, so does Jack’s ax.
Not a single person was aware that a tall, dark man was standing in the center of them bearing the ax from the fire safety box until blood whipped and splattered across their faces. Jack began twirling and whirling the ax around, swooping it down on the necks and limbs of the people mingling and dancing. The bit comes down with such force it cuts the head clean off. Jack then decapitates five more people before the end of the first chorus.
Half the people are oblivious to what is happening, and the others are too intoxicated to notice. Not a single scream is heard while he continues hacking through everyone, axing them down in sync with the song’s repetitive lyrics.
As Frank and Bing belt ouch each lyric, Jack uses the ax’s heel to split into the skull of a drunk dancing woman.
He spins around methodically, dancing to the music as if the ax is his partner and he is the lead. Then, Watson swoops down, just grazing the floor, and takes a leg off just under the kneecap. It then comes back around lodging deep into the belly of a young man. Jack yanks it out, pulling his intestines with it, sending them into the face of his dancing partner. Before the man knew what happened, the ax’s flat side was driven into his chin cheek-to-cheek. He pulls the ax out, and the man’s face and his jawbone falls to the ground leaving strings of flesh dangling about his tongue.
Jack worked his way through all but a few people in a matter of minutes.
He walks towards the last couple standing frozen in a state of shock, surrounded by bleeding corpses, and in sync with the lyrics, he drives his ax into one and then the other just as the trombone belts out. He then plants the ax’s heel into the skull of one and jabs the ax’s toe into the other’s chest plate. He continues whaling the ax down on them as they fall to the ground.
We wish you the happiest – the happiest, WHACK the happiest CRACK, yes, the happiest THUNK!
We wish you the merriest – the merriest, WHACK the merriest, THUNK yes, the merriest CRACK.
At the end of the slaughtering, he stops to sing along with Frank and Bing as he dances and slides through the blood.
“May your tree be filled with happiness—happiness and friendliness for all. May your heart be filled with cheerfulness—happiness and cheerfulness for all. …”
Just as Jack thinks he is finished, he notices that a girl is getting up off the ground. “I missed one. We can’t have that, now can we? It is a Christmas party, after all. Everyone gets a present.”
He walks up to her and tilts his head, looking deep into her eyes as if he can see her soul. Without notice, Watson lands right in the middle of her bicep, slicing the arm clean off. The severed flesh sticks to the cheek of the ax for a fraction of a second then falls limp and lifeless to the ground. The girl begins to faint, and as her knees buckle—while she falls to the ground—Jack brings Watson up over his head, gripping the shaft tight with both hands, and thrusts it forward, jamming the eye of the ax right into her temple. She lays on the ground with the ax sticking straight out of her head. Jack puts his foot on her neck and jerks it out of her skull, sending fragments of bone scattering throughout the air like coconut flakes.
James watches the whole death rally in disbelief. “I must be dreaming.”
Jack walks back to the center of the dance floor and sees James standing at the door looking through the window. He waves one hand to James, smiles, and yells out to him, “It’s a numbers game.” as he points the thumb of his other hand to the dismembered bodies scattered about. He then disappears, dematerializing from sight.
“Goofy fella ain’t he?”
James turns around to see JIM is sitting in one of the Victorian chairs.
“How long have you been there for?” “An eternity, my friend. Did you give Tripper the notebook? Guess you must have, seeing as he is in there doing what he is doing.”