Round 9 Challenges (Word limit – 444 words)
1) Incorporate a hoax
2) Incorporate a revelation
3) Incorporate the number four
4) Incorporate Stephen Colbert.
Read UTAH 8 here (see “Similar Posts” at the bottom of this post for any earlier entries)
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“We can watch The Hunt for Gollum or The Addams Family,” Jacob suggested, filling a bowl with Mars bars. No one would come trick or treating but it gave Corey some illusion of harmonious domesticity. He’d learned that from previous Halloweens.
She was turning sixteen in three months. The nightly drinking and hours on the computer had taken their toll: her hair had thinned, her complexion grown sallow and her eyes sunk within their sockets, as if taking refuge from her nightmarish surroundings. She weighed less than when she first came three years ago. She still thought of her mother, but only as part of a gone former life.
Corey looked at the carved pumpkin in the window. “Will any trick or treaters come?”
“You said that last year. And the year before that.”
Jacob didn’t answer. “What do you want to watch?”
Jacob couldn’t understand why she liked “The Colbert Report” so much. He was trying to isolate Corey from anything that might evoke nostalgia of the outer world – newspapers, magazines, radio, television – but it had to be done incrementally. Appeasing her in small ways kept her tantrums to a minimum. It was preferable to force. He once punished her by locking her overnight in the cellar. She’d been unruly for weeks after that.
Jacob lowered the shades. He kept them down whenever they were online, which was most of the time. Only the wind rattling the windows suggested an outdoors. Jacob insisted darkness was essential for oneness with virtual reality. He’d been reading about Buddhism online.
Jacob clicked on the latest “Colbert Report” episode. Yesterday had been the anniversary of the October 30, 1938 “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast and Stephen Colbert was staging his own hoax, claiming the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse from the Book of Revelation were presently barreling towards America. The invasion was not from Martians this time but Canadians, who brought death, destruction, and socialized health care.
Illuminated by the spectral computer glow, Corey sat silently through the show without once cracking a smile. She never smiled. She also never cried anymore. Jacob liked this newfound dispassion. They spent the day’s remainder drinking vodka tonics and gaming. Internet access was permitted only in his presence.
No children came that night. The pumpkin leered from the window, its fading inner flame casting a feeble light upon the dead fallen leaves swirling in the howling darkness.
While Corey slept in a dreamless drunken stupor, hundreds of miles away Delia dreamt she was on the western side of a long narrow lake. On the other shore, illuminated by the setting sun amidst browning trees, was Corey.