The Tale of Bartholomew Von Nehemiah
I was poking around July's blog earlier, and noticed that she had posted her short story she wrote for her LA class. I read through it, noticing similarities and major differences in our writing styles, and I decided, hey, why not post my not-so-short story? Feel free to critique and comment (and realize that I didn't have time to do some really good editing, so there are probably typos galore)!
I also apologize for the weird formatting that this story is in. When I copy and paste my work from OpenOffice into a blog post it just doesn't want to go there nice and smoothly. I'll do my best to make it easier to read, though!
*NOTE: There are seemingly random things bolded in this story. I didn't get the chance to unbold those, so just ignore that they're bolded and that there is a letter after the bolded phrase. (They're bolded in the first place because my teacher had certain requirements for the story, and wanted those in bold.)
The Tale of Bartholomew Von Nehemiah
The man shivered, his trench coat flapping in the wind. Nervously he flicked a glance behind him, the eery feeling of sheer evil settling over him like a cloud. He didn't like this feeling, nor did he appreciate the fact that he was lost, desperate to find Bartholomew's home before nightfall.
“Last time I listen to you for directions, Bart . . . ” He muttered, silently questioning his friend's sense of direction. He reached into his suitcase and pulled out the map his friend had drawn for him.
It had only been a few weeks ago that the man had received the letter from Bartholomew, inviting him to come visit for tea sometime in the near future. The letter had included simple instructions on where he could find Bart's house, and even had a dandy little diagram with tiny red criss-crossing arrows pointing here and there. The man had tossed the letter aside, sprinted to his bedroom, and begun to throw his assorted clothing items into a suitcase with an air of much excitement. An hour later, he was slamming his front door and striding out into the great unknown.
The man's excitement had long since fizzled out, and his heart sank deeper and deeper with every step he took. Slowly he folded the map and stuck it into his suitcase, making no more sense of it than he had the last time. His footsteps were loud on the lonely street, and a tumbleweed decided to make its grand entrance across his path. He gave it an angry kick with his freshly polished shoe, grumbling shortly afterward about the new scuff that had appeared on the toe.
“Oh, Bartholomew, where on earth is your house?! It was supposed to be on Mordor Road, and it's clearly not! And now, thanks to your lousy directions and my stupidity combined, I've gone and scuffed my shoe on a tumbleweed!” He complained, throwing his arms up in exasperation. He sank down onto a nearby doorstep, defeated. He knew he would no longer be able to find Bartholomew's house before the sun set, so he decided to find a place to stay the night and hit the hay (I).
Turning, he spotted a beat-up, black umbrella with red polka-dots lying a few feet away from him. The man did a double-take. Had it been there before? He tried to recall seeing the umbrella earlier, but he had no such recollection. Drumming his fingers on his knees, he shook his head, shrugging the notion away like a pesky fly.
The man sighed and stood, pulling his coat tighter around him and beginning his hunt for a place to stay for the night. His frustration and anger still boiling inside, he gave the umbrella a swift kick as he passed by, not caring if he scuffed his toe again, hearing a satisfying thud off to his right seconds later.
As he continued onward, he was unaware that the red spots on the umbrella contracted and expanded, as though the thing were blinking. The man was not the only angry thing out that night anymore.
Furious at the disrespect that the man had shown it, the umbrella opened and flew silently towards his retreating form like a sick form of a bat. The man heard a slight rustle behind him, and he shivered, passing it off as the wind, but picking up his pace nonetheless. The umbrella moved faster as well, gaining on the unsuspecting man, a larger rip on its surface stretching out into a sinister grin. It laughed, a horrible sound, the sound of a thousand sorrows and countless pains.
The man quickly whirled around at the noise, his eyes wide with terror. He had only seconds to process the fact that an umbrella was flapping in front of him like a bird (S) before he was swallowed. The umbrella had opened that same gargantuan tear and swallowed the man whole, the way a snake eats its prey. The man had no time to scream, to shout, to holler for help before he was gone. The only thing to mark his passing was his suitcase, but the umbrella paid no mind to it.
The umbrella smiled, its red eyes closing in pleasure. It had been far too long since its last meal. With that, the umbrella took to the sky, flying at top speed until it reached the home of its mistress. It knew she would be pleased that it had accomplished its mission so quickly. With that thought in mind, the umbrella landed on his mistress's doorstep. It rapped against the door to let her know it had arrived, and slowly, ever so slowly, the door creaked open, and a thin, white hand snaked out and grasped the umbrella by its handle, jerking it back inside.
“Well done, my pet,” a silky voice murmured. “People will not realize in time that this is only a shadow of what is to come.” (F)
* * *
“So you have no idea where this man is?” the policeman demanded, his tone dubious and his mustache twitching.
“I swear I don't know where he is! I wouldn't set him up to be kidnapped; I'm his friend!” Bartholomew Von Nehemiah protested. “Can't you help me find him?”
“I'm afraid I can't do that. You are a suspect, Mr. Nehemiah, and we do not mingle with suspects while a crime is being investigated,” he replied with a snort, jotting down several notes with his pen using swift strokes.
Bartholomew paced back and forth, keeping his gaze toward the ground to avoid meeting the officer's suspicious eyes. He was positive that his directions had been correct, that his bright blue arrows had been clearly pointing to the roads his friend must follow. Bart prided himself on his excellent map-drawing skills, and he was also sure that his drawing of the surrounding countryside was accurate. How could his friend have gone missing?
The officer watched as Bart paced back and forth for several minutes before his phone buzzed, alerting him to a phone call. The voice on the phone was muffled, and the policeman had to strain to hear it. As soon as the message had sunk in and the person on the other end of the line had finished ordering the officer around, he snapped the phone shut and cleared his throat. Bartholomew flicked his glance up nervously, suddenly missing the officer's silence.
“Mr. Nehemiah, I've been informed that it is now appropriate to show you what we found inside your so-called friend's luggage.”
He took a crumpled paper out of his jacket pocket and unfolded it to reveal a delicately drawn map with small, red arrows. “I believe this is a map, do you agree?”
Bartholomew nodded, his eyes taking in a map that was almost a photo copy of the one he had mailed his friend. The only differences were that his arrows he had drawn were blue, and the names of the streets had been changed.
“Look, sir, I did draw a map almost exactly like this one for my friend, but—”
“So you say . . . ”
“Sir, I did! But the one I drew for him had blue arrows, not red! I don't know where this one came from, nor do I know why my map was replaced. And, officer, the street names on this paper aren't even close to the ones I used. These streets aren't anywhere near my home, and I don't even think Narnia Street and Hogwarts Drive are even real places!”
“The suitcase and other evidence was found on Mordor Road, which is indeed a real place. I will also note that it is marked on this map that you gave him.”
“Officer, I did not give him this map!”
“You deny giving him a map?”
“No! Of course not! I just deny giving him this map!”
The policeman ignored him, scribbling down some more notes. When he had finished, he reached into his pocket and pulled out yet another scrap of paper. “This, Mr. Nehemiah is the order for you to be under house arrest. You will be escorted to the courthouse tomorrow morning at exactly seven in the morning. Do not be late, and do not try to leave your home before then. We will find you.”
He stuffed the paper into Bartholomew's hand and abruptly turned away, scuttling quickly to his patrol car. He tossed a final glance behind him at Bart, a small, smug smile on his face. He drove off, his tires squealing (P) as loudly as a flock of parakeets.
Bartholomew stared at the paper in shock, his mouth gaping open. Boiling hatred filled him, and he promised his friend that he would get revenge on whoever had kidnapped him. Bart had no idea what had happened, but he knew that he would not rest until the evil doer paid for what had been done.
With new resolve, he crinkled the paper into a ball and tossed it into the bushes.
That night, with his knapsack stuffed with food, clothing, and his rainbow toothbrush, Bartholomew snuck out the back door, his night-vision goggles glowing faintly in the dark. He made his way stealthily behind the hedges, pausing here and there to listen, straining to hear to sounds of the guards on duty. He did not want to be caught tonight, for his mission would be ruined if he was.
Cautiously Bart crept through the ancient, but well-oiled, iron gate at the back of his yard. He flattened his body against the hedge, flicking his eyes back and forth along the sidewalk to see if the coast was clear.
Amazingly, it was.
Suppressing a whoop of pure joy, he slunk out onto the street, taking care to walk in the shadows and not going anywhere near the warm, inviting light of the street lamps. So far he was proud of his progress, feeling that luck was on his side that night.
Bartholomew silently made his way through the quiet streets of town, heading towards the eastern exit. As he walked, he wondered. Bart wondered where his friend was, and how on earth the map he had drawn had been switched. He remembered placing the envelope into the mailbox and latching it closed. He could recollect no one taking it from him or switching out the maps. Bartholomew also wondered where he ought to look for his friend, and decided that if someone had tried to kidnap him, a spooky forest would be the best place to set up a hideout where no one would be able to find the culprit, let alone the victim.
Quiet as a mouse, Bart started to run. He ran as fast as he could without creating a ruckus, and quickly found his way to the eastern exit.
The eastern exit led to an old forest that only the most experienced trappers and hunters dared to tread in. Legend stated that the trees could grab unsuspecting folk and lift them high in the air, toying with them while they screamed for help. It said that the animals of the forest were bigger and fiercer than their domestic relatives, and they preyed upon the same unsuspecting folk that the trees loved to torment.
Though the legends about the forest were fresh in Bart's mind, he readjusted his knapsack, squared his shoulders, and stuck out his chin to show that he was not afraid. He would do anything to have his friend back, and he was going to do anything he could to make sure that whoever had taken him would pay the price.
The forest was foggy that night, and small curls of the fog swirled in the breeze, creating a spooky, haunted effect. Bartholomew shivered slightly, but his courage had not yet faded, and he confidently strode across the dewey grass and into the forest.
* * *
“What do you mean to tell me? That he escaped?!”
“Yes, Ms. Swanson, I'm afraid that is the case.”
“Do you not realize what this means?”
“Yes, Ms. Swanson, I'm afraid that is also the case.”
Ms. Swanson slammed her hand down on the table. “This is no good! No good at all! Leave me, officer. I must think about this. It seems that the tables have turned.”
“Yes, Ms. Swanson.” The officer nodded and exited the room as fast as his legs could carry him.
Rebecca Swanson growled in frustration. Her whole plan could go horribly wrong if that silly human figured it out and told everyone he knew. The idea of world domination is that it comes slowly, but steadily, and no one realizes it until it is too late. But if everyone realized it now, she would have no chance at all.
“Fred! Come to me!” she ordered, snapping her thin, white fingers.
An umbrella came flying into the room as if it was thrown. It landed with surprising grace for an object that bulky, and its red polka-dot eyes blinked as a slow smile spread across its material.
“Yesss, Missstresss? I have come as you have requesssted.”
“Fred, go and try to find this human.” She held up a photo of Bartholomew. “Do whatever is necessary to ensure that he will not ruin my plans. Do you understand?”
“Yesss, Missstresss. I will do as you have requesssted.”
With that the umbrella took off, and Rebecca smiled happily to herself. The human would have no chance with Fred out there, and she took comfort in the fact that her plan would not be disrupted.
* * *
Bartholomew whistled to himself, doing his best to distract himself from the eery sounds of the trees's leaves whispering to each other. As he walked, his hatred for whoever had either kidnapped or done something even more horrible to his friend grew. With his hatred grew his anxiety. What if he was too late? What if his friend wasn't even here?
He shook his head, shoving the thoughts away, determined to focus on the positive and find his friend as soon as possible.
Suddenly he heard a rustle. Louder and less whispery than the others he had heard so far. Fred the umbrella leapt out of a treetop and straight into Bartholomew's path. Bart screamed, and started pelting through the forest as fast as his thin legs could carry him. The umbrella took its time, knowing that in seconds it could catch up to the human.
Bartholomew ran for what seemed like hours, but in reality was only a few minutes. He sprinted for his life, and came upon a little cottage so suddenly he nearly tripped, his knapsack falling to the ground. Not daring to stop to retrieve it, he darted to the door and knocked desperately on it.
“Help! Help! Please, please just let me in! I'm not going to hurt you, I just need a place to stay; there's something chasing me and I don't know what it is!”
He knocked again, and was rewarded with the door crashing open. He dashed inside, slamming it behind him.
“Fred? Is that you?” a voice asked from a room over.
Bart froze, not daring to breathe.
“Fred? Answer me! Did you find Bartholomew?”
Bartholomew quirked up an eyebrow in confusion, but remained silent.
“FRED! Oh, you stupid umbrella . . . ” Bart heard a sigh and the sound of someone throwing down an item in frustration. He nervously scanned the room for a place to hide. He saw a little cupboard in the corner, and decided that he might be able to fit inside. Before he could move, however, a tall, icicle-thin woman with brilliant red hair stomped into the room. Her eyes widened as she saw Bartholomew in her house, but almost instantly regained her composure.
“Excuse me, but what do you think you're doing?” she demanded, jabbing a long, white finger into Bartholomew's shoulder.
“I'm sorry, miss, but there was this thing . . . it might've been an umbrella, I don't know. It was chasing me, and your home was the only one in the area, so I used it as a refuge. If you'll let me stay until the menace passes, I'd be so grateful!”
The woman's eyes widened again, and just as quickly as before, her face quickly became an impassive mask. She abruptly turned, muttering to herself. “That stupid umbrella. I send it on a mission as simple as the last one, and yet it can't catch this one like it did the other. It shouldn't be so hard! They're both just mere humans!”
The woman turned, her mouth quirking up in a sly smile. “Oh, you heard that, did you? Well, in answer to your question, yes. 'They.'”
Bartholomew's face started turning red in anger. “You mean to tell me that it was you who kidnapped my friend?”
She laughed. “Oh, no, no, no! Kidnap? Ha! The umbrella ate him!”
His face blanched. “You mean . . . he's dead?”
“Unless he can survive Fred's digestive system.”
“You'll pay for that!” he cried, making a leap for her throat.
She tried to get out of the way, but she wasn't fast enough. She clawed at his hands, which were intent on her death. Her breath was running short, but she managed to scream, “Fred! Come to me!”
The result was instantaneous. Fred came crashing through the window, its red polka-dot eyes narrowed to slits.
“Fred,” she hissed, “I've been calling you forever! (H) But no matter. Dispose of him.”
Fred moved to obey, but before it could, Bartholomew spoke. “One more move out of you, and she dies now, umbrella.”
The umbrella didn't want to lose its mistress, so it remained frozen in place.
“Please, please don't kill me!” the sinister woman pleaded, her eyes filling with forced tears. “If you let me go, I won't ever use the umbrella for evil again! I promise you, Bartholomew.”
Bart stared into her eyes, searching for any signs of deceit. He could find none.
“If I let you go, will you let me go out of the forest without any trouble?”
“Yes! Yes! Just let me go!”
He slowly let her go. Deep inside he knew he couldn't have cut off her life. Even though he was filled with grief and rage at his friend's death, he realized that revenge was not the answer to it, nor would his friend have wanted him to do it.
“Okay. I am letting you go, miss, but if you make a move against me, I will not spare you again like I did this time.”
With that, Bartholomew gave the umbrella a dirty look and strode out the door. His heart, saddened as it was, started to gain a little more cheerfulness for the first time that day. He couldn't explain it. All he knew was that he had done the right thing and it made him feel good.
The umbrella watched Bart leave the cottage, and turned to its mistress, who was breathing hard after her narrow escape.
“Fred,” she murmured, “Go. And this time actually get him!”
Fred didn't move.
“Go you stupid umbrella!” she gave it a kick.
Being kicked by her rekindled the anger it had felt when the man in the trench coat had kicked him on Mordor Road. Before Rebecca's eyes, the umbrella seemed to grow, and she huddled in fear as it towered over her.
“No, Missstresss, I will not.”
And then it ate her.
The moral of this story is that you must be careful what you say and do, because in the end, it could come back to bite you. Or . . . eat you, as the case may be.