Gil was under attack. He dodged a plastic missile and huddled under a small bush a few feet from the house. A large, old man, older than his father by a lot, was laughing. His laugh echoed, like it started down deep in the earth, and bulged and grew and it clawed its way to the top where it became fearsome and overpowering. It made Gil’s insides shake even though it was the first day of spring and pretty warm out.
The man threw empty plastic water bottles at him: Perrier, Deer Park, Evian, Crystal Springs. The small bottles bounced off, harmless. He only ducked when the man launched the larger one-gallon bottles. He looked around for an escape route and his eyes landed on the small plane parked next to the house. Kori would be pissed that he forgot to park it in the garage again, and more, that he was going to drive it without a license, but so what? He invented it. It wasn’t a conventional plane, but looked more like a giant egg laid on its side. Little claw-like chicken’s feet descended from the main compartment and kept the body steady when the plane was grounded. The wings retracted into the body. Inside the egg were two seats, a cushion on the floor for Max, and a control panel. Avery wanted to sell these planes some day, for a fraction of the cost of a Hummer.
Gil pulled a gas pump hose from an outlet below the kitchen window and crawled on his belly over to the egg, kicking plastic bottles as he went. He lifted the hatch and inserted the nozzle into the egg’s fuel tank, dodging several bottles thrown in rapid succession. The hose connected to a small TDU in the basement and was fed by the garbage disposal and the trash bin, a complete in situ unit. After a few minutes, the filling stalled and the hose went limp in Gil’s hand. He shook it, but nothing happened. He crawled back over and kicked the wall of the house like a man kicking the tires of the car. “Oowww,” he yelled, but the mini TDU failed to restart. “Dammit,” he said, then covered his mouth and looked around to see if his sister was within hearing distance.
The large man started laughing again. Gil panicked and dropped the hose. He was crawling toward the egg when he heard Max at the kitchen door, barking like a crazy dog, so he crawled back to the house and let him out. Together they ran and jumped into the egg. Gil started the engine and the little chicken legs took off running at a fast clip. The wings fanned, the thrusters thrusted and the egg was airborne, the chicken legs still running, but with no ground beneath them. When he retracted the legs, the egg shot straight up into the air. The large man bellowed, something between a laugh and a moan, and Gil accelerated. He turned around to see the man remove his Armani suit jacket, fold it neatly over his arm, and bend down to turn on an automatic ball toss machine.
“Where the heck did that come from?” Gil yelled to Max who raised his head to investigate. The machine began firing the empty plastic water bottles, pelting the egg mercilessly. Singularly, the bottles posed no harm, but collectively the force resulted in an erratic trajectory, throwing them off course while jolt after jolt caused the egg first to zig and then to zag. The large man laughed like a maniac, sending shock waves that caused the egg to tumble with each successive and inexorable guffaw.
“Hold on!” Gil yelled to Max who crouched down at Gil’s feet, his paws over his eyes. Gil steered a hard right to avoid a fresh onslaught of plastic and came close enough to see the man’s large mouth. And like the Cheshire cat, as the man’s the smile grew larger, his face shrank away until all that remained were his hideous radiating teeth, each half the size of the egg. The man threw a switch, converting the machine to fast pitch and Gil was bombarded. The egg began to plummet. A bottle cracked the window. A hole emerged and grew. Air leaked out of the cabin. Gil flicked at the overhead switches.
“We’re losing pressure,” he screamed. He pushed a button and air masks dropped from the ceiling. He covered Max’s large snout with one and was attempting to put his own mask on when the egg took another hit and rolled over on itself. The mask flew out of Gil’s hand and he lost control. He began coughing, choking for air. . .
Gil’s eyes flew open and he coughed for a full minute before regaining his breath. Images of eggs and plastic swirled in the world behind his eyelids and he was cold and sweaty. He burrowed a hand under Max’s furriness and lay his head on the dog’s massive neck. Max yawned and put his head on the bed pillow. Gil closed his eyes, but the images still danced behind the lids, so he forced himself awake and sat up in bed. He yawned. His stomach growled rudely, and the noise threw his feet over the side of the bed. He put his slippers on and went downstairs to breakfast.
to be continued . . .
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