Man writes one page a day to a series of seven novels, every day, never stopping until he is finished. Horror meets modern-day Lord Of The Rings in this tale spanning 70,000 years about a twenty-four year old named Marvin and his encounters with an ancient anomaly known only as the "Harvester".
Lyla’s giggles resumed, but she didn’t speak. She was never this quiet on their weekly car rides, and Marvin tried his hardest to get the young mistress vocal. He went on, pulling words and sentences from underneath the linoleum now.
”I remember this one time, my mom bitched me out real bad ‘cause I left my book bag on the kitchen table. All these crumbs from a pop tart spilled out of the zippers and…”
Lyla interrupted mid sentence.
”Do you want to sit on the couch or somethin’?”
It wasn’t that she was bored with Marvin. The constant standing had become tiresome, and Lyla was stricken with rheumatoid arthritis. The joints in her knees would begin to swell if she stood for extended periods of time, and Marvin was aware of it. He often wondered how she worked at a job that routinely required manual labor. He always opted out of confronting her about it. She loved her job, and Marvin wished for that same love.
”Yeah, sure. That’s fine.”
On the television, an encore presentation of “Last Action Hero” had just wrapped up, and Marvin took notice of the time on a wall clock to his left. It wasn’t too late, but he began to think of Samantha. The note that’d been wedged between the 4-runner windshield and wiper blade was crumpled now, joined by other trash bits and wrappers in the bottom ring of Marvin’s bathroom waste basket. He didn’t call her. He had no plans of doing so. In his mind, he interpreted the hands of the clock as they made their rounds.
The tomato sauce was homemade, and Marvin found himself eating more than he anticipated. After two full servings of Italian grandeur, he guzzled back on an icy glass of filter treated water. His throat needed clearing, and after doing so, he spoke. It would be the first real conversation they would have of the evening.
”I can’t believe you live here.”
They both laughed, but it was unclear as to why. Young boys and girls typically do so upon finding themselves in situations that offer seclusion, and Marvin and Lyla had the entire apartment to themselves for the remainder of the evening. In Marvin’s case, the laughter often took the place of awkwardness. The two really had nothing much to say to each other, and their body chemistry showed it. They stood on opposite sides of the island, eyes furthering from each other with each passing minute.
”It’s so crazy outside, but your apartment is like a palace.”
Lyla had finished her plate long before Marvin. It was sitting in the sink and soaking among bubbles and other corning ware. Her arms were crossed and firm, showing her unease. Marvin wasn’t sure as to why she looked so uncomfortable. He tried to keep it cool.
”I mean, it’s so clean in here. I grew up in a family where everything was messy and stuff got lost all the time.”
A black steel pot had been sitting on the stove, covered by a lid and filled with warm, sticky noodles. Marvin hadn’t realized that Lyla planned on making them both dinner. Following the bear hug and friendly hello, he was beginning to piece together a puzzle made especially for him to decipher. Lyla never acted this nice before, and he made note of it. The game was testing him, and Marvin tried to avoid giving in to it at all costs.
”Thanks. I haven’t eaten all day. This is great.”
The kitchen was bare of any tables or chairs. Lyla and her mother typically ate meals in the living room in front of their massive entertainment set up. After watching Marvin’s eye wander around for a bit, the petite miss quickly chimed in. She had more answers to his unasked questions, fully prepared for any words he would have uttered, if any.
”We don’t have a kitchen table or anything. I hope you don’t mind eating on the island.”
Marvin laughed a bit through his jaw clenched smirk. He didn’t have much to say to Lyla, but he somehow felt like he belonged there. Had he met Lyla before meeting Samantha, he would have surely tried to pursue an eventual relationship. They’d didn’t have much in common, but neither did he and his current affair. They were all weed buddies, and soon Marvin would escape into that same darkness filled alleyway of drugs and good feelings.
Freeing his meaty slabs from the coat sleeves proved difficult under such pressure, and Lyla took it upon herself to aid Marvin in the undressing operation. Once free of the heavy jackets clutches, Marvin wrapped his arms around his torso in an effort to warm himself. It was 78 degrees in the upstairs apartment, but he pretended to warm himself anyway. He looked awkward, but the only person there to impress was more concerned with getting warmed herself. As Marvin turned, Lyla grabbed hold of both his hands. Like a basket weave, the two stood entangled within each others arms. Despite only being there for six minutes, it was the first time that Marvin had felt love since leaving his home town over a month prior.
As the union ended, Lyla scampered off and into the kitchen. Her feet moved like tiny clouds advancing through a pale blue sky, and Marvin didn’t dare take a step himself. The Chuck Taylors were worn down and scuffed up, soiled in mud and grass particulate from past lawn mowings. He was embarrassed, but Lyla didn’t seem like the type who worried about dirty clothing. After all, she worked at an animal feed warehouse, and those places ranked first in filth. As Marvin wrestled with the thought of showing his socks, Lyla answered for him. She seemed to be taking care of all of his problems.
”Yes, I made us food. Take your shoes off man, let’s eat.”
Food. I gotta eat somethin’..
As the off white shoe laces unraveled to a bunch, Marvin extruded his average size 7 feet out and onto the carpeting. The ground was warm, tingling the pads underneath his toes and massaging his soles. He advanced through the room with caution, making sure not to slip. He was still thinking of Mr. Mistovich and his sudden words of warning, but only in the back of his mind. Lyla’s home seemed impenetrable to demons and otherworldly behavior. Soft, pencil sketched graphics absorbed into paper fibers which tiled themselves along the walls all around, and Marvin hardly felt threatened. If a serious danger lurked somewhere in the shadows, it would assume a form not congruent to what Marvin was expecting.
Lyla was wearing a green wool poncho. Underneath, a floral dress extended to her knees, accompanied by a pair of black flats that looked like slippers. Marvin was fixed on how nice she looked, forgetting that his large Colombia Co. jacket was still hugging his upper torso. It was getting hotter by the minute, but Marvin blocked out the temperature completely. Lyla’s dreadlocks were typically pulled back into one large bundle, but they dangled freely that evening. Her hair was dirty blonde, and her eyes were green. Marvin always took notice of Lyla’s nose, resembling a pointy ski slope that looked reminiscent of his ex girlfriend Stephanie’s. It wasn’t until that moment that Marvin realized just how pretty the delicately short girl really was. As Lyla tucked the poncho into a closet by the door, Marvin swallowed hard again and felt a shiver run down his spine.
Jesus, she’s gorgeous. She never looks like this…
He didn’t have time to ogle. As the stars in Marvin’s eyes gained luminosity, Lyla was back over to his side and smiling. The winter jacket on his back needed to be removed, and the young lady made him aware of it. With both hands on her tiny hips now, Lyla cracked a smile and shook her head at Marvin. Her voice sounded off again, softer than before and soothing. It was all Marvin needed.
“So are you gonna take that jacket off and give me a hug, or what?”
The small two bed room apartment was set up in a fashion that made it seem much bigger than it really was. The building was originally home to a couple living with their two sons in the early nineties. The family quickly vacated the premises once the city had gotten too dangerous for their young boys, and moved ten miles south to rural Loganville. The building was eventually purchased by a man named Eddie who turned the clad Victorian style home into two separate apartments. The downstairs had become home to a black man named Don Joseph, who’d lived there since it’s opening back in 1998. He was quiet, and worked for the Honeywell company roughly six blocks over on Market Street.
Interestingly, the upstairs space saw more tenants. After a couple and two men, Lyla and her mother rented the space in 2004. They’d stayed ever since, and the inside had become decorated to match their lifestyle. As Marvin cleared over the threshold of the doorway, he noticed white carpeting underneath low couches made of soft, brown leather. A coffee table sat in front of them, pointed at a large flat screen television across the room. The space was open, with a few bookshelves creeping down the walls in both directions.
To the left, a single wooden stair led into a kitchen with an island made of oak. Pots and pans hung over the three dimensional slab, coercing Marvin to believe that most of the cooking and food preparation took place there. Their refrigerator was made of stainless steel, with handles that would swing open from the middle outward. A stove fit snugly next to it, with a smooth top equipped with built in electronic burners. Their microwave matched in style, and Marvin felt his belly rumble in response to a familiar smell.
As he walked, a small key ring jingled in his back left jean pocket. Marvin felt a lump bulging from within his Adam’s apple, and he one again found it difficult to swallow. Cold gales penetrated his neck line, forming a choke chain of bitterness that would nag at even that boldest of canines. He looked to his feet mostly, trying his hardest not to gaze into the plight around him. After traversing the sad path to Lyla’s homestead, Marvin confronted an incline of wooden stairs that extended to a porch made of similar material and craftsmanship. He stopped.
Wait. Wait for just a minute.
His left hand was glued to a metal pipe that took the place of a hand rail. He was sweating now, remembering the odd exchange a half hour prior with Wesley Mistovich and his escape from reality. The odd man warned Marvin, telling him not to make his journey into the city. He had no hope for him, stating that the young lad would venture there anyway. A few seconds remained for a proper getaway, but no action was taken. Lyla had spotted the curly haired male from a second story window, and her voice cut through the air like a siren requesting attention from its fellow sea faring counterparts.
The moment was lost, and Marvin realized just then that he was in it for all the marbles now. He was in the heat of the moment, with no chance for thoughts or feelings. If something malicious was on the verge of manifesting, this was the time and place. Marvin looked up, his ears picking up on Lyla’s call. He consciously swallowed once more, the last time he would do so before feeling her warm hands upon him. It was getting late, and the evening beckoned. The game had continued on, and Marvin made his next move.
Pulling up to the apartment building proved complex, as no lots or parking garages could be spotted within safe walking distance. A sea of angry motorists continued to pile up behind the 4-runner. Marvin wasn’t familiar with the art of parallel parking, a maneuver often practiced in large city environments, but rarely in his rural home town of Wilkes-Barre. His mother didn’t live in an area close to the epicenter, rather more so toward the city’s edge where ranchers and rusted out trailers became more common.
The more Marvin thought about it, the more he realized that he never truly lived in the city itself. His parents house sat in limbo between other smaller communities and tiny boros that passed just as quickly as they’d been entered. Marvin was deep within the city’s central eye now, and he felt the smoke and pollution passing through him. He just wanted to be indoors. The comfort of a warm metal register blowing hot air between his toes seemed too delightful, and he pined for a hot tea.
After scanning the aisles on each side of Philadelphia Street, he quickly spotted a vacant opening between a silver Dodge Caravan and a street corner. The space was relatively close to the address he’d been seeking, a quick thirty yard hike past five row homes. After signaling the proper direction, Marvin turned the wheels of the 4-runner to match the stream of rubber tires behind him. The job looked sloppy, and he let out a few curse words to match his disdain. He killed the engine and watched the sidewalk to his left. The cement walk way looked barren, like a stretch of wasteland cluttered with old Pepsi bottles and Marlboro cigarette butts. The only difference was that people lived here, and the wish for comfort inside Marvin’s mind deepened exponentially.
Look it up when you get back. You got that translator thing in your backpack.
It wasn’t an electronic device, rather a large laminated post card which contained a second sliding sheet underneath that would match up to other words through tiny windows in the top layer. It was held together by a plastic track on both ends that allowed each piece to slide freely along one another. It was old, but the Spanish language was older. Marvin would decipher his word salad soon enough.
The distance to Lyla’s apartment allowed him the time to enjoy at least two more songs over the radio. The first was “Superstitious”, sung by the great Stevie Wonder. Marvin always found himself tapping along to the short, staccato guitar clips that pricked along the rhythm track. It placed his spirits a bit higher, and the overall tone of the night was set.
The city lights pulsed in sync around every corner, matching the luminosity of the stars and planets up above. Marvin felt like a kid again, passing through forest growth on interstate 80 to meet a girl for the first time. Concrete walls and low income housing replaced those memories now, but the prize remained the same. A young lady sat patiently somewhere waiting for her date, and Marvin began treating the night as such.
A few car horns began to sound off in unison as Marvin’s speech came to a conclusion. Not a word was spoken between the two conflicting parties, and just as Marvin looked ready to speak again, the quartet sped off as quickly as they had stopped. A man sitting directly behind the younger driver was the only of the four to move his lips, frantically searching for words to piece together that would somehow mark his dominance. Struggling and desperate now, he cried out.
”Y-yeah man, jus’ watch yourself.”
Marvin’s eyes locked onto the Monte Carlo license plate like a hawk preying on a field mouse. The number and letter combination marked like a branding iron onto his brain, and he quickly grabbed a pen from underneath a potato chip bag to jot the code along his forearm. Cars and other vehicles had begun to pass the 4-runner on the right side, and Marvin wrote the inscription on his flesh without hesitation.
He was feeling high, but not from the weed circulating through his system. Marvin had won the battle of good versus evil, at least in his mind. The Spanish phrases remained a mystery to him, but somehow he remembered each and every word. With the black ink stick remaining between his fingertips, Marvin continued to self tattoo his opposite forearm. After a few seconds, the work ceased, and Marvin tossed the pen aside. He thought to himself as he applied pressure to the accelerator with his right foot. He’d sat through four red lights without even noticing.