THEN A PENGUIN WALKED IN #44

IT’S ONE OF THOSE FRYING PAN/FIRE SITUATIONS - PART ONE
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WHEN DOMINICK WOKE, BEFORE he’d even opened his eyes, he could tell that something was wrong. The sounds, the smells, nothing was as it was supposed to be.

He sat up and blinked. He rubbed the sleep from his eyes.

Dominick was back in his apartment on Kentucky Street. He was on the couch. The TV played an old episode of Wings, a half-eaten box of pizza sat open on the coffee table, and comic books were strewn about him on the floor.

Had it all been a dream? Vivian and Harold? The sword? Gund? A dream made the most sense once he bent his mind to the problem. After all, where else but a dream world would he be a hero from prophecy.

Cotton mouth had set in after a night of sleeping with his mouth open, so Dominick rose and went into the kitchen. He pulled out a can of Diet Mountain Dew from the fridge and cracked it open. It fizzed. He took three quick gulps that ended with a loud burp. He smiled and patted his belly.

Finding nothing in the fridge to eat, he returned to the couch to check on the pizza. He picked up a slice and gave it a sniff. It smelled fine so he took a bite. Wings continued on the television. He liked Wings okay, but felt the urge to know what was going on in the world so he switched channels. Or at least he would have if he’d been able to find the remote. He cursed. The remote control to the TV was always going missing. He stuck his hands in the cracks between the couch cushions, but came up empty. Eventually he found it under the couch and was soon dialed in to one of those all day news channels, eating cold pizza, and sipping at his soda.

The sound of a toilet flushing reached his ears and he froze, the can at his lips. The sound had come from his bathroom, his toilet.

He turned his head to the bathroom and set the soda on the coffee table.

The door was closed.

Something wrong with the plumbing, maybe?

That thought was dismissed when the sound of water filing the tank ended and the sound of water flowing out of the faucet began.

Who was in there?

He didn’t feel good about it, whoever it was.

He should probably go and investigate.

He rose.

The faucet stopped and he could hear nothing more. He strained but found only silence.

Dominick couldn’t move, he could only stare at the door. The act of standing seemed to be enough. It wasn’t fear, exactly. That was part of it, sure, but there was something else there, hand in hand with the fear.

So he only stood, rooted in place, and watched.

After what felt like hours, the doorknob turned. Should he run? His instincts were working overtime relaying the information to his brain that it was no friend there on the other side of the bathroom door. Regardless, he remained where he was.

The door swung inward as if it had all the time in the world.

The light was out in the room beyond. All he could make out was a darker figure standing there in the gloom.

“Who’s there?” Dominick looked around for something he could use as a weapon.

The figure stepped into the light.

He was a handsome man, the kind of handsome usually reserved for models or movie stars. His hair was black and his suit was white, even the tie.

“Dominick Hanrahan?” The man asked.

“What are you doing in my bathroom?” Dominick felt as if he had seen this man before. “What do you want?”

“I was waiting for you,” the man said. He gestured back into the room behind him. “Then I had to go.” He followed the statement with a laugh.

It hadn’t been an embarrassed laugh, like the man had been ashamed. It had been more from surprise, as if the act of using the restroom had been unexpected.

“How did you get in?” Dominick’s memory strained as he tried to figure out where he’d seen this guy before, but all that kept coming back was garbage. Literally. Trash, refuse, and the smell of old cooking grease.

“What a minute,” Dominick said as it suddenly dawned on him. “You were waiting for me? Were you watching me sleep?”

The man only smiled and shrugged.

“Lord Hob,” Dominick said, suddenly realizing who the man was. He’d seen him riding a white dragon in that circle Harold had drawn on the side of the Happy Hamburger dumpster.

But what was Lord Hob doing in his apartment if all that had been a dream?

Lord Hob?” The man said, arching an eyebrow. “Yes, Lord Hob.”

To be continued . . .






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