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Invasion

of the

Blanche

Corey Mariani

Contents

AUTHOR’S NOTE

CHAPTER 1

CHAPTER 2

CHAPTER 3

CHAPTER 4

CHAPTER 5

CHAPTER 6

CHAPTER 7

CHAPTER 8

CHAPTER 9

CHAPTER 10

CHAPTER 11

CHAPTER 12

CHAPTER 13

CHAPTER 14

CHAPTER 15

CHAPTER 16

CHAPTER 17

CHAPTER 18

CHAPTER 19

CHAPTER 20

CHAPTER 21

CHAPTER 22

CHAPTER 23

CHAPTER 24

CHAPTER 25

CHAPTER 26

CHAPTER 27

CHAPTER 28

CHAPTER 29

CHAPTER 30

CHAPTER 31

CHAPTER 32

CHAPTER 33

CHAPTER 34

CHAPTER 35

CHAPTER 36

CHAPTER 37

CHAPTER 38

CHAPTER 39

OTHER BOOKS BY COREY MARIANI

DEDICATION

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

COPYRIGHT

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Author’s Note

In the following manuscript, I have attempted, with the aid of whorls, to recount my part in the strange and otherworldly events surrounding the Humboldt County Christmas Flood of 2013. Where there were no whorls to guide me, I relied on my memories, grafting to them with all the grace I could muster. To my estranged siblings, if you exist, you are in existential danger. Knowledge of your enemy is herein.

Chapter 1

RHODODENDRON PILOT SCARF.

Lou and I hopped out of the truck. The air was cold, the sky overcast. I rubbed my bare arms to create warmth. My coat still hung in some closet at the Lodge.

In my mind, I repeated the words Rhododendron Pilot Scarf over and over, a Pictionary poem I’d used to graft to reality itself. I’d tried to encompass my surroundings, my current mood, my outlook on life, my thoughts on mortality, people, green beans—everything. I’d tried to condense the entirety of my existence into one phrase: Rhododendron Pilot Scarf.

Lou had asked me to do it. The morphine could wear off any minute, allowing Naomi’s wanda poison to take over my mind again. I’d been given several poisons by Naomi’s mummers, causing mixed metaphors in my mind, which was especially dangerous. The grafting was supposed to help keep me grounded. Rhododendron Pilot Scarf, Rhododendron Pilot Scarf.

​While we walked, Lou said, “Let me do all the talking when we get to the house. I’ve given this whole Jehovah's Witness spiel a ton. I got it down. Once the otalith becomes angry, we gotta stay in her presence, like at least within fifty feet of her, for a minute to make sure we absorb enough of her cackle.”

My morphine must have been wearing off because my thoughts took on the shape of one of Naomi’s metaphors again:

The houses were cheese curds. Lactic acid and cows lived in them, watching daytime TV and fermenting.  Lou was mountain lion, listeria, lactose, and cattle dog. I feared him and hungered for him. The cows respected him. They would respond to his barks, his attacks.

I was having these thoughts, but they weren’t consuming me.

Yet.

I still had control. I kept repeating my Pictionary poem, Rhododendron Pilot Scarf. It seemed to give me power over the metaphor, seemed to anchor me to reality.

Lou and I walked four blocks through the quiet neighborhood, turning twice along the way before he pointed to a two-story yellow house with a running fountain in the front yard and the top of a greenhouse peeking over the backyard fence. We climbed the porch steps and stood side by side. Lou rang the doorbell, but I heard mooing.

Rhododendron Pilot Scarf.

Rhododendron Pilot Scarf.

Lou gently pushed me back, saying, “She spits when she yells.” After waiting fifteen seconds, he hit the bell again—mooooo—Rhododendron Pilot Scarf. This time noises came from inside, sounded like slippers sliding across hardwood floors. The largest woman I’d ever seen opened the door, six-six at least, with broad shoulders, broad nose, and broad forehead. She wore a white T-shirt and Dallas-Cowboy pajama bottoms. She looked sleepy and confused.

Lou gave the pitch: “Good day to you, sister. We are here to share the message of the Bible for you today. I would like to read Second Corinthians for you: ‘Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.’”

The woman waited patiently for Lou to finish, then she smiled and said, “See ya,” and closed the door.

Now it was Lou’s turn to look confused. “I don’t understand. That always works.”

I didn’t have much time to brainstorm with him over what went wrong. The morphine had almost worn off completely now. Rhododendron Pilot Scarf was barely working anymore. Everything was cheese-related again. I refused to take another dose of morphine to bring me back from the brink. I stepped off the porch and walked along the front of the house until I found a hose behind a rose bush—milk truck tank, food-grade sanitary hose. A spray nozzle was attached to the end. I lifted the hose off the mount, turned on the water, and dragged the hose by the nozzle back toward the porch. The hose just reached the walkway.

“Ring the bell again,” I said, barely hanging on to my sanity, the metaphors coagulating in my mind as they had outside the Lodge.

Rhododendron Pilot Scarf, Rhododendron Pilot Scarf, Rhododendron Pilot Scarf.

“Relax,” Lou said. “I got this. Put the hose away.”

I raised my voice. “I don’t have time for this. Ring the bell.”

Lou put a finger to his lips, shushing me.

I responded by yelling a line from one of the many cheese documentaries Naomi had forced me to watch with her: “A hot curd makes for a hard cheese!”

Lou threw up his hands, and I yelled the line again for the whole neighborhood to hear. When the large woman opened the door, she looked irritated, but we wanted her that way. I hit her directly in the chest with a pressurized stream of water/milk. “I baptize you in the name of Jehovah,” I said, “and in the name of cheese everywhere.”

Her face twisted with rage as she strode past Lou and leapt off the porch, a giant woman moving with the speed and grace of a cat. I tried to scramble around in the yard, hoping to avoid her attack while absorbing her cackle, but she was too quick. She slammed into me with her lowered shoulder and sent me flying. The ground, in collusion with my elbow, knocked the wind out of me, and I rolled

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