FICTION: They Live on the Other Side of Language – Part Two/Chapter Three

They Live Graphic

Big Joe Wilson wants to stay rational, but a cult has brainwashed his wife. They convinced and taught her to forget language in pursuit of an uninterpretable heaven on the other side. Now Big Joe has to decide. Will he relinquish complete control over his wife’s catatonic state to doctors, or will he give into the cult’s nonsense and go in there after her, on the other side of language?

“They Live on the Other Side of Language” is a serial novel whose chapters will appear monthly, exclusively on TuffGnarl.com.

 

(Click HERE to read the previous chapter, or click HERE to begin at Chapter 1.)

Part II, Chapter 3

“The Visitors”

Antoine grabbed the shovel and tossed it into the wheel barrel. He lifted the barrel’s handles and stomped into the dwindling daylight. He shouted, “You better not stand back there and diddle. This is your doing, so you’re doing it.”

Joe fought his inertia to catch up. His thoughts had wrapped his mind so tightly, he barely saw the light outside his head. He couldn’t hear the wind chimes. He didn’t hear the fluttering leaves, the truck tires on gravel. He never noticed the flock’s flapping. The pat, pat, pat of flight. The screeches or wings, the men shouting.

He thought this life was not life, not as he knew it. He wasn’t yet sure how to live it.

But he sure heard the gunshot.

Antoine and Joe stopped.

Joe listened to the shouts on the other side of the house. Someone hollered to get out of there. Joe turned, but couldn’t see more than the taillights of a pickup poking from the driveway. He watched the taillight bounce and listened to boots leap from the truck’s bed onto the gravel.

“You get out here, you coward. What did you do with my daughter?”

Antoine mumbled, “Great. Another to the rescue.” He grimaced. “Joe, climb through the broken kitchen window. Get Alija and meet me in the woods.” He lifted the barrel’s handles and resumed his march to the treeline. “And don’t you forget that shotgun.”

Joe hesitated. He listened to the men shout for Antoine. The darkness deepened. He heard the pop of a fast flame. A hand launched a fiery bottle. A front window broke.

Joe sprinted for the kitchen window. He pushed the broken shards from the frame. He slid his shirtless body through it. Tiny glass sliced his back. Joe didn’t notice.

He noticed the flames.

Joe ran across the fiery wood floor to the guest room. Alija looked terrified and confused, as though she just awoke to this. Joe wrapped her naked body in the blanket and scooped her from the bed.

Alija’s eyes widened. She jerked in his arms and appeared to be discovering the pains in her legs. She gasped her first breath. She screamed several false starts.

Then the real screams came.

Joe sprinted with her through the fire. He patted the flames from her blanket, heaved her over his shoulder, and sat on the glass. He felt that. He slithered with her through the window.

Once outside, he heard the men shout a woman’s name. He reached through the window for the shotgun, but a man kicked down the front door and stared at him.

Joe repositioned Alija on his shoulder and ran for the woods.

“He’s taken her out the window. Go get him!”

Boots rattled the back of the pickup. The driver’s side slammed. Tires spun.

Joe held Alija to his shoulder with both arms. She screamed with every step. He raced for the treeline. Ceramic shards tore his shoes.

Shards shredded the truck’s tires.

Joe and Alija hid in the woods.

Antoine shined his flashlight at them. “Are you going to help me dig up these bodies or what?”

(Click HERE to read the next chapter.)

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Originally from South Florida, Gray Kane earned a Ph.D. in English from the University of Mississippi. He teaches writing and runs faculty teaching and leadership programs at Austin Peay State University. He and his wife Carole live in Clarksville, TN with their three rescue dogs: Jesse, Mishka, and Zerbie. Gray is the author of Psychic Steampunk Parade.

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