Thursday, June 12, 2008

Water Jumping and Baby Penguins

[The night air is thick with dreadful anticipation. We know that Corn has been in a foul mood since we all arrived. It seems with each passing victim he gets more and more irritable. His features have changed, though subtle as it is.]

[We sit in our seats, hands and legs cuffed, chains linking ankles to wrists. We won't be going anywhere in the near future. We just hope to get out of this alive and not in the bellies of the Quelchers.]

[The stench of those who have died and been torn asunder lingers. The hot air intensifies the smell.]

[We look and we see him.]


[Claps hands. Lights flicker and then come on.]

[He stumbles, his steps not as sure as they were a few months earlier. What little hair he had had sticks up in tufts of blond and gray—alfalfa licks that dot his skull. The one unseeing eye sags and looks as if it will drop from its socket.]

Have you all been having a jolly good time?

[His smile drags across his face, exposing rotting teeth. He closes his lips and looks to be chewing. He spits out a brown tooth and it lands near the edge of the stage.]

Who's next? [Blood drips down his chin.]


[We watch as the spot light shines over the audience and comes to a stop in our balcony area. The man looks like he could have been a rough and gruff individual at one time. But, now he appears to be nothing more than a shell of himself.]

[He doesn't seem to notice as his head snaps back and the headlight beams shoot from his eyes and to the silver screen.]


This should be good.

[Corn cackles.]

[Claps hands. Lights go out. The show begins.]


He stands in water too deep for anyone to stand in. The water is clear and he can see his feet touching the bottom. Fish swim about his ankles.

"You can jump up and get out."

Two men appear near him. He grabs one by the arm and looks to the expanse of sky above them. They both squat in the water and then he stands quickly. Like a slingshot he propels the man out of the water and into the air. The man's legs seem impossibly too long but he manages to reach up and grab the sky, pulling himself from the ocean.

The second man looks at him, sakes his head and starts to back away.

"Your turn," he says.


"It's you or . . . this baby penguin."

The baby penguin appears, its small body in his hands.


"Okay, then the penguin it is."

He dunks the penguin in the water and then catapults him toward the sky, but it is no longer there. The sky is now the ceiling of a room. The penguin hits it and its body breaks, blood spattering from it on impact. It sprays down on the man . . .


[The film ends and we are breathless and our hearts ache for the baby penguin. What we think was just someone's dream makes matters worse when we see blood on us, on the floor around us. Even Corn has spots of crimson on his fading yellow suit and skin.}

[Screams fill the Theater and we look to the man who had dreamt such a nightmare. He is missing from his seat but we don't have to look far to see that he is plastered near the ceiling. Hooks that we don't think were there before, hold him suspended in the air. He sways back and forth and blood pours from him, spattering the Theater of Nightmares and its occupants.]

[Our collective screams continue.]



[Corn's throws his head back as he laughs]

Too much on your mind? Too much weighing you down? What is on your mind that holds you back? What change are you afraid to make?


[We watch in awe and fear as Corn's eye seems to grow stronger, the tissues around the socket firming and the eye no longer wobbling and appearing as if it would fall out.]

[Something in our collective brains clicks and we are suddenly aware of something that we can not speak but only think: the dreams, the nightmares are not only about us, but about Corn. What is it that weakens him or strengthens him? It is just out of our reach and frustration fills us.]

[He walks to the edge of the stage and picks up the brown tooth. He pops it in his mouth and laughs again.]

[Corn's rejuvenation scares us and our hearts sink, but we must hold on. . .]

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