Shrieks, Laughter, and Noisy Gulps

Mice with different coat colors.
Image via Wikipedia

It wasn’t
the usual sound of mice running up and down inside the walls.  It wasn’t the sound of bats as they pushed
for favorite positions.  Something else
was stirring things up again tonight.  Jeremy
didn’t care what it was.  He needed his
sleep.   This was the third night that he had been
roused from his sleep by shrieks, by laughter, and by noisy gulps.  Each night at midnight something, either a
mouse or a bat, tried to scramble away.  Its
tiny feet scrabbled against the wall in desperation, but always the resolution
was the same.  Eventually it was devoured
slowly by something, and the something enjoyed it very much.

thought he could hear faint laughter after each kill. He didn’t mind having the
rodent or bat population reduced, but night was his time to rest and gather
strength.  Enough was enough!  Tomorrow he would not wait idly by and listen
as something attacked. He would enact his plan.
Jeremy had thought long and hard.
Sleep deprivation had driven him to the sheer boldness of it.  He would not run or question.  This was a matter of having sheer nerve.

Jeremy was
so tired he called in sick for work.  Since
he still couldn’t sleep he took the time to draw a Cartesian plane stretching
from ceiling to floor, wall to wall.
Strategic points were labeled and marked.  To the left of zero were the negative numbers
and to the right, the positive numbers.
Numbers above zero on the y axis, being positive represented things that
flew.  Numbers below zero would represent
things that crawled or walked.  He toiled
through the day, painting his wall with all kinds of imaginary creatures.  Then he waited for the sounds to begin.

As he lay on the bed he checked the weapons he
had gathered:  One large hunting knife
with serrated blade, a pistol he had found after a rival shootout, and a pick
he had discovered near an unfinished burial plot.  Maybe they weren’t capable of taking care of
something, but they were better than nothing.
He had also taken some precautions.
In the local church Jeremy had filled a small bottle with holy
water.  He had sprinkled some on his weapons,
some on himself, and saved some to baptize a demon or an angel.

The night
seemed longer than usual and Jeremy found himself fighting sleep.  Then the faint sounds began.  First quadrant!  He gripped the knife.  Second quadrant!  The sounds were moving…or were they coming
from both at the same time?  He listened
intently.  Fourth quadrant, then the third.  All four quadrants were vibrating and full of

The mice
were silent and the bats were still, yet two large objects were in the wall, moving
away and back again.  Jeremy lunged with
the knife and stabbed the thin wall. The serrated blade slid easily through and
plunged into something thicker.  A gasp
and a tiny cry, and then blood spurted high.
The knife shook and disappeared into the wall.  He held the pistol and aimed.  One shot and a hit.  Something collapsed and slid downward to the right.  Jeremy chuckled.  “A negative linear equation forms a line
slanting down to the right.  My algebra
teacher would be so proud of me.  My plan
worked.  I think I got a demon or two.”

All was silent
for a long time until the faint sounds of mice running inside the wall caught
his attention.  He fell asleep
again.  He could sleep with mice racing
inside the walls or even across the bed.
Bats stirred and fluttered their wings. Their minute noises were
annoying but would not keep him awake.
Something larger moved about.  “I
can sleep peacefully with angels guarding me,” he said aloud.

A snicker, a chortle, and a deep belly laugh
followed.  “Then why did you stab and
shoot the two guardian angels?” a gruff voice asked.  Jeremy’s eyes popped open just in time to see
a demon tearing at the sides of the hole made by the knife.  He grabbed for the pick.  His fingers found nothing.

“Are you
looking for this?” a voice asked behind him.
“It should be stuck in zero.  You
do know your luck is now zero, don’t you?”

Jeremy’s hand
found the small bottle.  In a wide circle
he swung the holy water and drops splashed about the room but not in time to
save Jeremy.  Even though his fate was
sealed his bottle of water was already cleaning everything evil from the room.

A neighbor called the police and when they
arrived the scene had already changed.

Two detectives
roped off the scene and began their investigation.  The younger detective shook his head. “I
think it’s a clear sign of someone going berserk.  Why he would stab and shoot the wall is

His partner frowned and said, “Living in this
dump is enough to drive anyone insane.
We’ve only been here a short while and already this place is bothering
me.  There are sounds in the wall and
when we first got here I thought blood was dripping from that hole over
there.  And what’s with this Cartesian
plane?  What does it signify?  There are two lines slanting down to the
right and when we first arrived there was only one.  Don’t tell the captain but I think there’s
more to this story.  Was this a suicide
or murder?  I’ll let the coroner decide
this one.”

Three blocks
away in a small house two newlyweds lay talking about their future.  “We’ve been married for six weeks.  We found this house and it’s perfect for us,”
she whispered.

“Yes,” he replied, “But remind me to call an
exterminator.  The last three nights I’ve
heard sounds in the wall.  A mouse or two
can be taken care of easily but I’ll see how much it costs.  I might get rid of the pests myself as soon
as I have time.  Sweet dreams, my
love.  I’ll lie awake all night making
sure you’re protected.”

Two demons
waited patiently on one side of the roof.  A short distance away two angels also
waited.  One of the angels said, “You
might have won the last battle, but we’re determined to win this one.  Just because it’s getting close to Halloween
doesn’t mean we going to let you take a few more souls.”

The demons
smiled and one of them said, “People help us this time of year.  Can’t you see all the mean tricks they’re
playing?  They’re trying to get even with
each other and having fun.  If we just
make a few noises and scare a few people they’ll go completely crazy.  Forget about love.  It doesn’t exist this time of year.”  He paused for a moment.  “Happy Halloween!”

“To the Ready, Forward March!”

 “Grab your trombone and have some fun!

We can circle the square and stay in the sun,”

I feel like marching when my trombone plays,

Sometimes even on windy or rainy days,

Seventy-six trombones” is my favorite song,

Because it’s happy and boisterous as I march along,                                  

What better way to make everybody’s day,

Than to let them hear the trombones play,

The music and rhythm tickles me inside,

Especially when I’m marching with you in stride,

We’ll play “Stars and Stripes” as we begin,

And when we get to the park, where we end,

You can play “Fantasy” to show your skills,

While I get ready to give the audience thrills,

In case you’re wondering what I’m talking about,

I’ll explain it to you and erase all doubt,

I’m more than a musician, I’m also a clown,

I enjoy hearing laughter all around,

Music and laughter are both good for the soul,

If your foot starts tapping, I’ve met my goal,

And if you laugh with me, you’ve made my day,

That’s all I need, that will be my pay,

If I distract someone and see a happy face,

The whole world will seem like a better place,

Grab your trombones, cornets, or your reeds,

We’ll march across the highway into the weeds,

“To the ready, Mark Time, and Forward March”

A lively cadence but without all the starch,

If laughter and music is quicker in pace,

The world will seem like a better place,

So let’s go marching with our trombones,

We’ll be royalty without our thrones,

We’ll go to the park where we’ll slide but not swing,

We’ll laugh at ourselves, and enjoy everything.

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