November 19 - Nothing much going on in WOMP-World right now. As you may or may not know/remember, 'tis the season of extra work, longer hours, grouchier customers, and more exhaustion at my dang "real" job, so I'm becoming something of a walking zombie...a zombie also without much free time, might I add. Most art-type stuff is on hold for a month or so, which means that The WOMP-Blog will be my only creative outlet for a bit. As such, I suppose I should dig right back into...
The Forbidden Territory
Erl quickens his pace as he begins to walk across town. His mind is racing as well as it replays what has just happened. "Of all the things Butch could have taken," he thinks, "why did he have to take that?" Without his cellphone, he has no means to check on his part-time job at the public library without stopping by in person. Well, that's not exactly true. He could wait in a line to use the school's one payphone, or, worse, ask a fellow student to borrow another cell for a minute, but that would entail the risk of interaction, and that may be Erl's greatest fear. With good reason.
For as long as he can remember, Erl has been the target of ridicule and physical attacks, "...and for what?" Again, Erl returns to memories of grade school. "What can I do about my name? I'm just a kid. Being a 'Nerdman' is bad enough, but being Erlingston Codstric Nerdman, the Third? That's more than any kid should have to..." His thoughts are interrupted as he finds himself at the circulation desk of the library. "Um, hi. It's me, Erl. Is Randall here?"
From behind the oversize desk, Michel, a thin, surly graduate student from France, silently points to the office area. Erl likes his job at the library, but it is by no means a comfortable environment for him. Most of the small staff seems disdainful of him, and the constant flow of people passing through often makes him uneasy. Still, the books offer his only respite from the troubles of his life. In the stacks, he can quietly escape into his own thoughts, away from the worries that beset him everywhere else. Now at the head librarian's door, Erl notices that it is ajar.
"Hello? Randall?" Opening the door wider, Erl can barely see the top of his boss' head above the piles of paperwork and books. "It's me, Erl. I came to see if you needed me this afternoon." Something tips over, making a fluttery, handful-of-papers sound, as a little bespectacled man peers above the mess.
"Erl? What are you doing here? I don't think that I have you on the schedule until, umm..." The befuddled Randall noisily searches stacks of notes near him, then continues "...uh, I don't have you scheduled again until next week. Didn't you get my message? I'm sure that I sent one to you. Didn't I?"
Too embarrassed to explain what happened earlier, Erl simply says "Uh, I lost my phone. Sorry."
"There's nothing to be 'sorry' about. I'm happy to see you! If you've got a minute or two, I do have a little job for you. I have tons of book work, as per usual, or I'd do it myself." Erl nods. For others, reshelving books is a bothersome task, but Erl finds it very relaxing. That's just what he needs; a couple hours of escape. "Oh, thank you, Erl. You have no idea how much this means to me! Now, here's what I need. The library is accepting a donation of a local man's book collection. Very interesting and rare stuff. I was supposed to meet him to arrange pick up and so forth, but, well...that's why I'm glad you came! Here...here is his address. He lives nearby, on the east side. I think he's a shut-in, you know? No phones, and so forth. If you could just let him know that we are still interested? Maybe set up a time for me to reschedule? Just, you know, talk to him for me, won't you? That would be great!"
Taken aback, Erl can only muster "O-okay. Sure." This is not what he had expected, but it doesn't seem too hard. Looking at the address, though, his mind changes...and his face goes blank. "One-sixteen Territory Road? That's Meriwether Manor!"
"Yes it is. Have you heard of it before, Erl?"
Has he heard of it? What kid hasn't? Meriwether Manor, a dilapidated old gothic revival on top of a barren hill, is the most famous "haunted" house in the area. Behind it's black iron gates is the stuff of childhood nightmares. Erl gulps as he asks "Who...who lives there? I thought it was abandoned."
"No, the last Meriwether descendant - Russell, I think...or Rufus...or is it Orfus? - is an elderly man who can no longer afford to maintain such a large estate. A shame, but that's life, I suppose. Now, you'd better scoot. I have to get back to, ugh, this. Thanks again, Erl."
So, armed only with a note from Randall, Erl wanders out of the office. As he passes the circulation desk, he turns to Michel, hoping that he might somehow convince him, instead, to...but, no. Michel scowls as he holds his palm in front of Erl's face, silently conveying his desire to be left alone. Erl trudges out. Looking to the east, he can just make out the gray form of Meriwether Manor through the..."Hey? Where did all of this fog come from?" A great sense of unease comes over him as he continues on into the settling mist.
That's it for now. More later. Here's your Just One More Comic Book Alien Race of The Day - Kalanorians!