Mad-lib Literature: Reid’s Date With Doom
This is a response to my previous post, wherein I asked for a little literary challenge: a basic story outline featuring characters and a genre. I decided to go with this suggestion:
Characters (2): 1 – Ultra-conservative soccer mom ; 2 – two y/o twins; 3 – Harry Reid
Setting: Stalled elevator
I took some liberties with it (of course) but most of the elements are there. Enjoy (er, if you can). But BE WARNED: when I write horror, I write real horror– grindhouse kinda stuff. It’s gruesome. All right? All right. Without further ado, allow me to present: REID’S DATE WITH DOOM!
Reid hated do to interviews. He’d been a politician long enough that both he and any competent interviewer already knew what he was going to say. Some of his friends at the Washington newspapers had even been known to write their own Harry Reid quotes to save time. Reid never called them on it. He was generally thankful to be spared the charade. Of course, that had been in the days before the rise of the dreaded Blogosphere, where any idiot with a computer could call themselves a journalist. The interviewer who was due in his office any minute now was from that particular neck of the new-media woods. Reid swore to himself as he checked his watch. The interviewer, some drone by the name of Templeton, was late, probably checking the latest ultra-conservative hash on his cell phone. Reid never knew what kind of crazy questions and cockamamie allegations these people were going to come up with. It was like boxing a kangaroo. Fortunately, that was something Reid knew a little bit about, having spent some time as a pugilist in his rather scrappy youth.
There was a scream from the reception area. Reid heard it through the pebbled glass of his door and glanced up. There was movement beyond the glass, and then a series of flashes, accompanied by the flat crack of gunfire. Another scream. It sounded like his receptionist, Louise Carpenter, who was normally as composed as the Rock of Gibraltar. The scream cut off quickly, with an alarming gurgle. Then silence.
Reid stared hard at the door through his glasses. As a politician, the possibility of attack, terrorist or otherwise, was never far from his mind, thus all he felt, for the moment, was sort of preternatural alertness, spiked with a sudden rush of adrenaline.
Without taking his eyes off the door, he punched the intercom button.
“Lou?” he barked. “Lou, are you all right? What’s going on?”
There was no answer. Silence rang from the outer office. And then, distantly, more screams. The firecracker pop of gunfire from the depths of the building beyond. Running feet.
Reid nodded resolutely to himself. There were contingency plans for just such an emergency, of course. He had to find his way to the fortified command center in the basement. He had the key card in his wallet, waiting pristinely, protected by a thin sheet of plastic. The card would only work once, since it would immediately begin to corrode once the film was removed and the specially treated surface was exposed to the air. It was a safety measure, preventing the cards from posing an ongoing security risk of theft after use. Reid never thought he’d actually have to use it. He stood up, moved quickly toward the door and stood next to it. Silence still ruled the outer office. He strained his ears for any sound of movement, then unlatched the door as quietly as he could. It eased open silently on well-oiled hinges.
Reid peered through the expanding opening, eyes wide. A pair of legs in slate gray slacks laid on the floor, slightly akimbo, black shoes pointing at the celling. Reid knew without seeing the figure’s face that it was Hollins, the secret service agent. Hollins’ partner, Goring, was nowhere in sight. Louise’s desk chair was empty, her desk shoved aside, its contents swept to the floor. The smell of gunpowder was thick in the air. Curls of gray smoke wafted.
Reid moved into the room, stepping carefully over Hollins’ legs, glancing down only once to see where the man had been shot. He froze in place, still staring down at the agent on the floor. His mind groped, trying to make sense of what he saw. Hollins hadn’t, in fact, been shot. At least, if he had, it didn’t look like any bullet wound Reid had ever seen before. Most of the man’s face had been stripped away, raggedly, almost as if some wild animal had chewed on it. The nose was simply a triangular black hole. Hollis’ eyes had even been plucked out (or sucked out, some distant part of Reid’s mind suggested grimly), leaving the sockets dark and full of gristle. The skull grinned openly, its teeth smeared with blood.
More screams pierced the air just outside the office, echoing through the main hall. Reid jumped, eyes wild, glancing back toward the open office doors. He needed to keep moving. He looked down at Hollins again, suddenly intent, and saw what he was looking for. Hollins’ service pistol was still in his hand, clutched loosely, the finger still on the trigger. Reid dropped to one knee and plucked it carefully from the dead man. The pistol was light, the metal cold. It was a SIG Sauer P229, nine millimeter. He popped the clip and peered at it. There were six rounds left. Reid grimaced at the clip, then socked it clumsily back home. He didn’t have a lot of experience with guns, but he had more than most of his constituents would ever guess. Besides, as his father once said, what’s to know? Point the hole at the bad guy and shoot.
Reid nodded. For once, his father’s advice might come in handy.
He turned toward the door, keeping the pistol pointed economically at the floor, and that’s when Hollis’ hand clutched Reid’s ankle. Reid gasped, nearly dropping the pistol in shock. Instinctively, he jerked away from the clutching hand, but it held firm, the fingers like steel claws.
“Officer down!” Hollis’ diminished face called, its voice a hideous gargle. “Officer down! Everybody down! Git down, git down boogie!” The skull began to laugh, to cackle gleefully. Blood sprayed from its clacking jaw in a pink mist.
Reid shot it and the face exploded. He saw it happen as if in slow motion, opening like flower, revealing the pulpy mass beneath. The cackling stopped but Hollis’ hand didn’t release Reid’s ankle. It was still moving, tugging at him. Reid let out a little mewl of mingled disgust and terror and shot again, this time aiming for the wrist. He missed, producing only a neat black hole on the rug. Hollis gurgled rhythmically from the mangled ruins of his head. He was laughing again.
Reid stomped with his free foot, bringing it down on Hollis’ wrist. He felt the arm bones grate under his heel and the hand spasmed, releasing its grip. Reid scrambled backwards, the pistol still raised in his hands, shaking uncontrollably. He rammed into Louise’s desk and nearly fell atop it.
With a force of will, he struggled to regain control of himself. All that mattered was getting down to the basement command center. There, everything would be sorted out somehow. Somehow.
The main office’s double doors were opened wide, providing a comfortingly panoramic view of the vaulted outer hall. The marble walls reflected the light of the front lobby. No shadows moved in the normally bustling space. The panic—and whatever was causing it—seemed to have moved on to some other area of the building.
Reid stepped out into the hall carefully but swiftly, trying to look in every direction at once. Some instinctive part of his brain insisted that he should keep track of how many rounds he still had left in the P229. How many times had he shot Hollis? He tried to remember, to do the simple math in his head, but it suddenly seemed too difficult.
A door burst open next to him, releasing a stumbling figure. Reid spun wildly, squeezing off a shot before he had even taken the time to aim. The bullet spanged off the marble wall, producing a rough crater and a blast of white shrapnel. The figure ran into Reid, nearly tackling him to the floor.
“Harry!” the figure gasped hoarsely. “She’s gone crazy! She’s… she’s…!”
Reid nearly shot the figure again before he realized who it was. The ex-president had been in the office at the behest of his wife, the Secretary of State.
“Everyone’s gone crazy, Bill,” Reid said, trying to push the larger man off him. “Something’s awfully wrong. Maybe it’s some kind of nerve gas or something. It doesn’t matter. Come on!”
But Clinton wasn’t listening. He suddenly shoved Reid away from him and looked down the length of the hall. Reid followed his look, turning toward the lobby. Two figures shambled into view, half holding each other up, like a pair of drunks. Harry recognized one of them as the fat security guard from the front desk. His head was tilted back, his mouth opened, while the other figure, smaller and wearing a smart taupe skirt and jacket, seemed to be whispering something into his ear. They weaved and stumbled.
“Nancy?” Clinton called tremulously, his voice echoing along the hall.
The figure in the taupe skirt suddenly raised its head, looking up at the sound of the calling voice. As it did, it took a mouthful of the guard’s neck with it, producing a sort of wet, sucking “shlupp!” Blood ran down the guard’s white shirt, coating it.
“Hi Bill,” the smaller figure answered wetly, then ran a hand across its mouth, smearing the blood like lipstick. Reid finally recognized the thing, although his brain insisted that it could not be who it looked like. Nancy Pelosi was thin as a rail. This bastardized creature was indeed thin, but obviously wickedly strong if it could hold up the fat guard. As Reid watched, the Pelosi-thing dropped the guard, which fell to the floor like a sack of bricks. Nancy’s face grinned, and the tendons on her neck stood out like steel cords. The hands snapped open and closed like bear traps, the fingernails glinting. She began to approach slowly, like a lioness stalking a gazelle. “I didn’t know you were here today, Bill. How’s Hillary?”
“She’s… not feeling herself today, exactly,” Clinton said weakly, and then actually laughed a little. It was a high, thin sound, almost a giggle.
The Pelosi-thing suddenly leapt. She lunged forward onto all fours and ran toward the two men, baring her bloody teeth and snarling viciously. Reid shoved Clinton aside and raised the pistol, but the Pelosi-thing was too fast. It pounced, hurtling through the air, and landed on the former President, bowling him over. The two rolled down the hallway, thrashing and screaming. Reid considered shooting into the melee, not even sure who he was aiming for, then thought better of it. He only had a few bullets to spare, and for now the Pelosi-thing seemed occupied. He backed away, too horrified not to watch, and then finally turned.
He ran past the front desk and the stairs. The bank of elevators stood along a wide alcove. He stumbled to a halt by the first one and pounded repeatedly at the down button.
“Going down?” a pleasant female voice spoke from behind him.
Reid spun around so hard that his glasses nearly flew from his face. Louise was just passing the front desk, smiling quizzically at him, her left hand held behind her back. She looked perfectly normal, without so much as a wrinkle on her tan slacks.
“Lou?” Reid rasped, unable to control his voice. “What…! What’s…” He was out of breath, panting, confused.
She shook her head dismissively. “It’s all right, Harry,” she said, raising her right hand, palm out, still walking toward him. “Everything’s all right.”
“But Hollins!” Reid nearly shrieked. “He was dead! His face…! And he grabbed me!”
Louise smiled again. She was barely ten feet away. “It’s fine, Harry. I’m fine. I was with Goring.”
Reid blinked in confusion. “Goring!? But… where is he now?”
“He’s right here, silly,” Louise said, bringing her left hand out from behind her back. In it, hanging by a fist-full of hair, was Goring’s head, the mouth lolling open, the eyes pointing in two different directions. She tossed it toward him. The head bounced off Reid’s chest and he scrambled backwards in revulsion, ramming against the closed elevator doors and dropping the pistol. It clattered to the floor and slid next to Louise’s natty beige pump. She kicked it playfully.
“Just like a politician,” she said, glancing up at Reid playfully, “brings a gun to a head-fight.”
She lunged toward him, her grin suddenly spreading so wide, so ghastly, that it split her lips at the corners. Her jaw unhinged like a snake, rushing toward him.
The elevator dinged and shuttled open behind him. Reid suddenly fell backwards, into the elevator. Someone else was inside. They caught him easily with one arm. The other arm extended over Reid’s shoulder, holding a small pink handgun. There was an ear-splitting pop, and Louise’s shrieking roar suddenly fell silent. Reid looked up, still half collapsed in the stranger’s arms, and saw Louis stumble backwards toward the lobby, groping clumsily at her head. The top of it had been neatly shot off, revealing the pink jelly of her brain. She touched it experimentally.
“That,” she said distractedly, “was a seventy… dollar… haircut.”
She lowered her arms and her gaze settled onto Reid again. Her face melted into a mask of animal rage and she began to charge forward once more. The elevator dinged again, and the doors began to shuttle gently closed. They were too slow, however. Louis roared and got her head through the doors just as they closed on her neck, ramming her to a stop. She screamed ferociously, her eyes rolling back into her head, but then the pink handgun, held in the stranger’s small fist over Reid’s shoulder, barked another report. Louise’s head exploded this time, leaving only her lower jaw and the nub of her spinal cord, surrounded by a blossom of pulpy flesh. The figure went limp and began to slide down the crack of the mostly closed doors. They began to open again, and Louise’s body collapsed heavily to the floor.
“Excuse me, Senator,” a woman’s voice said in Reid’s ear. The stranger pushed him upright and stepped around him. She was slight, with curly brown hair, large dark eyes, and a small open purse dangling from her shoulder. She placed the heel of one shoe against Louise’s shoulder and pushed. The body slid backwards, squeaking on a puddle of brackish blood.
The stranger then stood back again. As the elevator doors began to shuttle closed once more, she lowered the pink handgun.
“Present from my husband,” she said with a shrug. “Never fired it at anything other than paper targets before this. All clear, kids.”
Reid was nearly catatonic with confusion and shock. Had she just called him a kid? But then he heard movement behind him. He turned quickly, alarmed. A bright pink stroller sat in the back corner of the elevator, occupied by a pair of identical girls, both with their hands held economically over their eyes. As Reid watched, the girls lowered their hands.
“Loud!” one of them called out happily and clapped her hands.
“Yep,” the woman answered, glancing up at the elevator’s floor buttons as it began to descend. “Real loud. Be ready when the doors open again, kids. Hands over eyes, got it?”
“Got it!” Both girls called in unison.
Reid finally found his voice. “W-Who…” he stammered, looking back and forth between the woman and the two little girls. “Who are you?”
The woman reached forward and punched the emergency button on the elevator. It shuddered immediately to a halt around them. She sighed and turned to Reid. “Sorry I’m late, Senator,” she said, switching the pink handgun to her left hand and holding out her right. “I’m Dana Templeton. I was here for an interview. Now…” She shrugged again, as if taking in the bizarre, horrific events that had just taken place. “Looks like I’ll have to take a rain check.”
“Loud!” the twins cheered again. “Mommy loud, loud, LOUD!”