The Cheesy Religion
(A short story by Steven R. Harrel)
When he awoke, Tom wasn’t sure where he was or how long he’d been unconscious. All he knew was that he was waking up to the blinding light of sunlight directly in his eyes.
Reflexively he reached up and pulled down the car’s sun-visor. Thoroughly disoriented, Tom found himself sitting in the front seat of his car in the driveway of his Williams Arizona home. He had no idea of what happened since the moment he’d passed-out or how he could have traveled nearly two-thousand miles while utterly unconscious. “How can I be home” he muttered to himself?
For just a moment Tom wondered if he’d dreamt the whole thing. “What a crazy idea.” he thought. “Maybe, just maybe I fell asleep in the car before starting the trip or somehow dreamt every one of those crazy, impossible events? What other explanation could there be?” he wondered.
“Whatever really happened,” he wondered, “could he trust what his memories were now telling him? Maybe it was all some strange influence from that watch?” He looked at his phone and noticed thirteen days had passed since he supposedly left for Alabama. Speaking audibly he exclaimed, “Well, that shoots that idea in the foot! How could the whole trip have really happened? Too many impossible event.” He threw his hands up, as if to God. “What am I suppose to do now, God?” Tom asked.
For just a moment Nancy’s face passes by one of the front-room windows. Almost disgustedly he realizes he couldn’t just stay in the car. “No, I have to go in and tell Nancy everything that’s happened.” Tom tried to reason it all out with himself. “I don’t know how I going to explain this ‘thing’ to Nance since I don’t really understand all weird stuff that’s been going on. But, somehow I have make sense of these last two weeks and share that with Nance.” Tom was speaking as if to the wind.
Tom realized it was early enough in the day that both kids would still be awake. He therefore grabbed his bags and headed up to the house, to Nancy and her loving, understanding arms.
Tom walked in and headed for the home’s nerve center, the kitchen.
“Tom, it’s so great to see you. I’ve missed you so much, Honey!” Nancy said smiling as she briskly walked to meet Tom by the kitchen table.
Nancy’s smile and embrace spread over Tom like a great balm of tranquility.
“Hi Honey, I’m so glad to be home! Come here Beloved!” Tom and Nancy sweetly and passionately embrace. “I’ve missed you and the kids so much. How have you and the Munchkininies been?” Tom pulled Nancy to his chest again and hugged her soundly, “You look beautiful!” Tom said smiling at Nancy when the kids came busting into the room!
Without leaving his arms, Nancy leaned back from his chest and smiled sweetly into Tom’s eyes, “We’re doing great Honey, now that you’re home anyways.” Nancy laughed as the kids slammed into their daddy.
Tom and Nancy slide into their kitchen chairs as the kids jumped and scrambled into their daddy’s arms. After several minutes of hugs and kisses and kidly comments the two little-ones were scooted off to play in the front-room.
Nancy wanted answers as she pulled her chair up to Tom’s and leaned in, “Tell me what happened on your trip, Thomas. How are you home so quickly?”
“Thomas, huh? What do you mean, ‘So quickly,’” Tom asked?
“Well, I’m kind of surprised to see you home so soon,” she said. “Just two days ago you were in Montgomery or Troy Alabama, I’m not sure which, and you said at that time that you’d be searching south for a couple more days. What happened? What changed?” Nancy sat back and waited for Tom’s response.
Tom shrugged, “It’s true, Honey, I did head south and I did continue looking for Shire? And… I found it, sort of?” Tom said screwing up his face and looking confused.
Nancy looked perplexed, “Well, how did you get home so quickly, Tom? It takes at least two days just to drive from Alabama to Williams.” Nancy leaned back so she could look out their kitchen window and see if Tom’s car was in the driveway, “I thought I’d heard the car.” Nancy said before turning her scrutinizing eyes back to Tom. “So that means you couldn’t have flown?” Again, Nancy sat back and waited for Tom’s answer.
“I didn’t”. Tom said. “Leastwise, not in the conventional sense.
Tom’s demeanor changed as he gently grasped Nancy’s arms and pulled her towards him, “For the moment honey we’re not going to worry about any of that. Okay? Come here and give me another kiss”.
As Tom began pulling Nancy’s lips closer to his own Nancy began resisting.
“Stop Tom, stop!” She shouted. “Stop it Tom, you’re hurting…”
Tom seemed inordinately strong; so much so, Nancy was utterly unable to resist. Not that it wouldn’t have mattered much either way, for it only took a moment for their lips to brush before it began.
The cheese like substance erupted from Tom, pouring out of his eyes and mouth, nose and ears filling and covering Nancy’s face and shoulders. She was terrified, so terribly afraid as she tried piteously to pull away. But the cheese gripped her fiercely and continued to flow, pouring into Nancy, choking her, inundating and engulfing her head and shoulders until it filled her body in its entirety. Nancy was overcome.
Tom gathered her in his arms. “What have I done to you, my love? I didn’t mean to bring this thing back to you.” Tears fell from Tom’s eyes and onto Nancy’s face. “Forgive me, my love.”
Nancy lay unconscious for several hours before she revived. When she finally did recover, there was no fear in her voice, “What happened to me, Tom? What did you do to me?”
Tom thought Nancy looked joyful. Tears filled his eyes as he reached for her, “I don’t know Nance.” Nancy started to pull away and then refrained. “The same thing happened to me when I was in Shire,” Tom said lowering his head and feeling shame for bring this into their home. “I thought I must have dreamed it. I didn’t know what to make of it all or how to explain the craziness of what I’d experienced. It all seemed like a dream from the moment I met Old Joe. Well, that was before we got to Shire.” Tom was having a hard time organizing his thoughts.
Nancy reached out and took Tom’s hand, “I don’t know how I know this, Tom, but everything’s okay. Better than that, I know I’ve been healed. I just know it!” She proclaimed. A nervous uncertainty flowed over Nancy for just a moment, just before Nancy jumped for joy as laughter erupted from her and flowed out and over Tom. Nancy raised her voice, “I’m healed Tom! I’m healed!”
Once again Tom and Nancy embraced, but this time with utter joy for their good fortune.
It only took moments for the kids to hear mom and dad laughing and rejoicing in the kitchen before they came running in to be part of the party.
Shana entered the room first rubbing her little eyes on her rumpled sleeve. She had donned her pajamas when it started getting dark outside. She looked so cute in her PJ’s. “Hi mommy and daddy. What’s so funny? What’s going on?”
“Hey kiddo,” Tom said as he picked Shana up. “Mommy and daddy are just happy, little bear!”
Shana’s attention was drawn to the stove.
At that same moment Daniel came busting into the room shouting, “I want some. I want some!”
Shana raised her voice to get over Daniel’s loud demands, “Mommy, what’s that cooking on the stove? I want some too! I want some, mommy.”
Nancy and Tom looked over and saw a very large pot steadily bubbling on their kitchen stove.
(End Part 8)
An Epilogue to follow