🙂 Tuesday = #Blogbattle
#BlogBattle is a weekly short story challenge using a single word for inspiration. Hosted by the talented Rachael Ritchey. She has changed things up a little bit. Now the word and the genre is provided. This will definitely stretch my creative muscles as I attempt to write other types of stories.
Feel free to join in, or click here to read the current week’s stories and vote for your favorites.
This Week’s Word: Air
Genre: Suspense/thriller – fiction about harm about to befall a person or group and the attempts made to evade the harm
Not sure if this qualifies as suspense/thriller, gave it the old college try 🙂
Rhythm is Gonna Get You
I wake up like I always do. With coffee and newspaper in hand, I step out on my deck to enjoy the early morning quietness before work. My yard is my haven, my sanctuary, the place I retreat to for peace and quiet. My job on the floor at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange is anything but peaceful. I stand up, take a deep breath of fresh air, and set my things down on the patio table. Stepping off the deck to check on my hanging planters, I near the grass. Something was odd, different. Yes, it was taller than normal, and at the top of my to do list for the weekend. But as I crouch down, I notice a large insect resting on the tip of a grass blade. As my eyes adjust, there are actually thousands of them, all balancing gracefully on the grass tips. Unlike flies, they are undaunted by my presence or sudden movement, as I step back. Returning to the patio table to drink my coffee, I open the newspaper, my attention drawn to a headline that reads 17-YEAR ABSENCE BILLIONS OF CICADAS TO DESCEND ON THE MIDWEST. Skimming over the article, I peer out at the scene before me, thinking, they’re here. I go to work, without another thought to this invasion of my sanctuary.
Little did I know that this would be the day from hell. I lost a boatload of money for one of my biggest clients, I’m lucky I didn’t lose my job. Damn, I haven’t made a rookie mistake like that in 17 years. My boss is being generous, he requests I take a mandatory vacation. One to clear my head so I can get back in the game. I’ve seen it happen to many of my colleagues, never thought I’d be one of them. I stayed alert, stayed sharp, but this unexpected turn of the market came out of nowhere, I wasn’t the only one who lost big.
I spend the first 45 minutes of my drive home in silence to decompress. The last leg of my trip, I crank up the tunes until I pull into my driveway greeted by the sweet sounds of nature that my overpriced mortgage affords me.
I pull up and turn off the ignition. I pause, it isn’t quiet. What I hear is something I’ve never heard before. It is a loud hum, a buzzing kind of sound, yet it is very melodic, it isn’t made by one, but rather a legion. The sound reverberates from the trees, the volume ebbs and flows like the swell of waves coming on to shore. I notice my grass is no longer covered with insects. Just like the article said, they retreat into the trees and make a lot of noise, this won’t be so bad.
I walk into the house, expecting to be hit with cool air, but I’m not. I don’t hear the central air running, check the thermostat. It’s set on 68, but it reads almost 80 as the indoor temp. Just what I need, I’ll deal with that tomorrow, I’ll just open some windows.
All evening, and well into the night, the cadence of the cicada’s musicality serenades me. But finally, by about 11 p.m., as if some great maestro waved his wand, it stops. The silence is deafening. Good I can get some sleep. Oh, there were a few interruptions throughout the night, occasionally one rogue cicada buzzed just to be heard, just like a petulant child. But for the most part quiet.
The next morning is a different story. With the rising of the sun, the cicadas awoke, somewhat discombobulated. There was no melodic tune. It was more sporadic, creating a cacophony that I thought would make my ears bleed.
With no luck in getting a Heating and Cooling guy out today, not until the first of the week, I move on with my day. I go outside to cut the grass, first checking to be sure none of the insects are still there, all clear. With the lawnmower humming, I begin my trek across the yard. The cicadas must be drawn to the sound of the mower, they begin to swarm around me landing on my arms and back. They don’t bite or sting, they are just annoying, so much so I have to go back inside. As the sun begins to set, the dissonance turns into a melodic lullaby.
Several days pass, the constant sound makes me irritable and fidgety. My best friend and colleague calls several times, leaving messages just to check on me. Each time the phone rings or pings with an incoming message, I feel like I could jump out of my skin. I don’t return his calls, my text replies are brief. I’m not in the mood to talk to anyone. It’s as if the cicada’s rhythm controls me. During the day, I’m agitated and unable to focus, but as the evening comes to a close, the lull calms me, it’s then that I discover in my research, these annoying invaders are actually good to eat. The following afternoon, as I prepare to dig into my bar-b-que feast, my phone chirps with an incoming message.
Dude, haven’t heard from you, what’s up?
Thought I might stop by.
Not a good idea. Stay away.
The next thing I know, he’s pounding on my door. “Martin, it’s me Greg, open up.”
Walking slowly to open the door, I nonchalantly say, “Hey Greg,” as I flop back down on the couch.
“Dude, what the hell? You look like crap.”
Looking down at my clothes I wonder when I had actually put them on. I scratch the stubble on the side of my face. Hmmm I should probably shave.
Trying to snap me out of it, Greg abruptly says, “Martin!! How can you stand this noise?”
I reply, “You get used to it. It’s not so bad at night.”
He must have noticed my restlessness. It was then he says, “I’m getting you out of here. I’m going to grab some of your clothes, you can crash at my place for a while. Why is it so hot in here?”
“Air conditioner is broken.”
When he comes back with my gym bag full, he says, “C’mon, let’s go.”
We are only a couple of blocks away from my house, when I notice a change in the air. The noise, it’s gone. When I get to his house, the first thing I do is take a shower. As the hot water streams down my body, I feel like I am waking up from a dream. The events of the last couple of days run through my mind like a bad quality movie.
When I’m dressed, I walk into the kitchen. “Let’s eat,” says Greg as he comes in from outside, with a couple of steaks on a plate. The delicious aroma causes my stomach to grumble. Nah, I couldn’t of. Did I actually eat barbecued cicadas?
© 2017 Carrie Ann
This story is based on a real experience. I have experienced an invasion of cicadas. Needless to say the kids and I freaked out when we saw thousands of them all perched on the blades of grass in our yard. It’s like they all just appeared in full force one morning. My oldest son filled his super-soaker water gun and open fired on them, and they did. not. move. The noise is just as I described, and can produce a sound in excess of 100 decibels, a loud rock concert measures in at 120 decibels. My mom did not believe me when I told her the noise was constant and how loud it was until she experienced it herself. This went on for weeks.