BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

SWEETALKER

This Is Not A Fanfic: Mr. Musclehead Is Such A Wimp
Saturday, September 6, 2008

Kay "helps" me with a problem. Notice who runs first.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1332    RATING: 0    SERIES: FIREFLY

[[[If this story confuses you, click on the author's name for an explanation.]]]

[[This incident happened last October, and at Tuesday's staff meeting T reminded me of it.]]

I have a confession to make: I’m scared of the dark.

When I was a kid I was truly, awfully horrified at the thought that light could be there, warming you and helping you, and then – suddenly – NOT be there. My pa just assumed, as I did, that this fear would naturally pass with time, but as I climbed into my teenage years and then into my twenties with no sign of “growing out of it”, I eventually gave up and just let it be.

In the engine room, this is not something I have to worry about. The lights are always on, the heart is always beating, and the soothing whirl of machinery drowns out the noises of .... other things.

I’m also afraid of the quiet. You see, when there’s “white noise” around it’s easier not to notice the creepy lil sounds that a station like ours makes. Whispers and creaks and groans. The engine makes noises too, but somehow, that’s different. I understand those noises.

I timidly crept into the break room. Zelda and Kay sipped coffee while T and Lil Bit laughed over cartoons on the TV. “Did y’all hear that?" I couldn't get my voice to go above a whisper. "Those.... scratchety sounds a few seconds ago?”

Kay snorted into his coffee, not looking up. “Whatever, Ellie.”

“Honey, it’s probably nothing,” Zelda told me.

I stomped my foot. “Don't patronize me! There is something ooky crawling through this place! Aren’t any of you going to do anything?”

T made a face. “Not to be indelicate or anything, El, but we all remember the fuss you made over the air conditioner turning on and off.”

“Nightmares of ice in the ice machine,“ Lil Bit chimed in.

“And the time you screamed like a girl when the doorbell rang,“ Kay added. I stuck my tongue out at him.

Scritch. Scritch. Scritchscritch. It was right over our heads, and so loud it drowned out the TV.

I smirked at their startled faces. “Told you!”

Zelda pushed the intercom button on the wall. "Boss? You're needed."

“You're all such worry-warts. I’ll take care of it.” Kay set down his mug (it has the Tazmanian Devil on it. Good choice, Kay!) and pushed back his chair.

“No, this is my area of the building,” T stood and saluted. “Therefore, I shall go. Fear not, Little Nell!” Good ol’ T. He knows Dudley Dooright always cracks me up.

~~~ ~~~

Rats?

“Rats.” T nodded, clutching his heart. “Big, nasty, ugly suckers. One nearly took my arm clean off.”

Kay came in, wiping his hands on his jeans. “Well the ones I just tossed into the dumpster were only a few days old. Didn’t even have no hair on ‘em yet.” He smiled grimly. “Must’ve missed those ‘big nasty’ ones you saw.”

“You threw babies in the dumpster??” I squeaked. “How could you?”

Rat babies!”

“Whatever the deal was, we’re not taking chances,” Boss said, all business. “Warm weather like this brings out all sorts of critters, and not all of ‘em are tiny. Zelda, you and T take a look through the studios and the kitchen. Bitty, you’re with me; we’ll check all the offices. Kay, you take Ellie out to the doghouse and search the grounds on the way.”

~~~ ~~~

The doghouse has nothing to do with dogs, but it’s the reason for the doggie drawing I have hanging up in there, a little “in-joke”, I guess. We gave it that name because it bears an uncanny resemblance to Snoopy’s home in the Peanuts cartoons. It’s the one-room building where we keep electrical supplies that don’t work, spare chairs with missing legs, and any other knickknacks we can’t bear to get rid of, along with side-by-side tool benches for me and Kay. Whenever storms come and we have to do repair work on the radio tower, this is the place we work from. It’s out of everybody’s way, which is safer for them – and for us.

I couldn’t do more than tiptoe in, with visions of itchy monsters dancing through my head, but Kay tromped in like always. Grabbing a shovel in one hand and a broken antenna in the other, I proceeded to poke and prod my way through.

“El!” Kay whooped, making me jump out of my boots. “Feast yer eyes on THIS!”

It was a snakeskin, at least eight feet long if not longer. Kay had wrapped it around his arm several times and let the rest droop down to the floor.

“Oh, God, that’s disgusting.”

“Yessiree. Sure is purty.” He stroked the thing like it was a pet, then tossed it around his shoulders. “Lookit me! I’m Sarah.” Kay curled imaginary tresses around his finger and batted his eyelashes at me.

“You’re seriously disturbed.” I spotted a stool with no legs missing and climbed on top. “Put it down. Don’t you realize how long the snake would have to be to shed a skin that size?”

He blinked. “Hadn’t thought of that.”

Kay backed up a few steps, and put one hand on the far wall to steady himself, never veering his view from the ground. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed something slipping down softly just behind him.

“Kaayyyyy....”

He saw it too and grabbed a hoe from our selection of garden tools. Whack! Whack!

“C’mon, El, let’s make a run for it!” Kay grabbed my hand and bolted for the door.

“You didn’t have to KILL it!” I hollered.

~~ ~~

"It wasn’t my fault!" Kay complained. "That thing came out at me from the dark like.... like something that comes out at you from the dark!”

Boss sighed. “El, tomorrow you’ll go and buy a new one. And you're to keep the receipt, 'cuz it’s coming out of Kay’s next paycheck.”

“Hey now! How is that fair?” Kay shuffled his feet. “Can’t I at least go and pick out the new hose,” he muttered.

“And get the cheapest one? I don’t think so.”

~~ ~~

"We picked it up a few years ago, during the last big drought," Zelda explained to me later. "The grass on the lawn was brown. Plus it'd come in handy if a fire broke out. We're out in the boonies; it takes a while for help to come."

Sarah, to everyone’s surprise, happily accepted Kay’s Christmas gift of the snakeskin we found. She says it’ll make a fine belt someday, if she ever learns to sew, that is.

~~ ~~

Side Note: Thanks much to the person who recommended the song “Strange Weirdos”, by Loudon Wainwright III. It’s hard to express my feelings for Doc sometimes, but Loudon’s words were pretty perfect. You can find the tune here: http://dukeofstraw.com/sat/Weirdos.mp3)

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