The Game Controller
by Dianne Lindsey
Was she meant to be here?
The room was awash with the early morning brightness peeking through the pine trees leaving shadows here and there across the â€œcheap chicâ€ room Emily had created.
Decades before, in a time long past, she had shopped garage sales, junk shops, friendâ€™s garages and basements, finding her treasures where others had made trash. Some of the pieces she sanded down to the bare rubbed wood. Others she left in state. She then â€œwhite washed” the pieces, paying attention to each groove, placard, scroll, and knob. The coverage was never complete. That was her intention. Stressed Martha Stewart would call it.
The room was carefully accessorized with the colors of beach sand on the east coast of the Carolinas. Soft colors of peach, sea foam, coral and waterdown blue.
She met the morning with her head pressed to her pillow, eyes scanning the forested back yard, birds calling for her to come and join them in the celebration of life. She thought of lying in bed. Leaving the wild to the savages who want to plunder. But the birds were having NONE of it. Her favorite â€œBob Whiteâ€ because itâ€™s song sounded just like that; bobwhite! Bobwhite was calling for her join them. If you read or understand music, it would be c cde.
She was initially awakened by the creaking becoming more and more apparent every morning. But more worrisome, she heard voices. They were most times muffled, at times distinct. Excited, so much so, she was compelled to join in the excitement.
She was deaf in one ear, so she could never, really, pinpoint the exact location. She was certain it was the ceiling. However, common sense said it was most likely the floor. Never mind, not important.
The peach tree had finished blooming and was bearing fruit. The tree covered a huge spanse of the backyard. By the end of the season, she would have too many bushels to count, or to sell. She would spend many loving laborious hours making jams, canning and candying peaches. She made baby food, which she set out in front of the cabin for neighbor folks to pick up at their leisure free of charge.
She never met any of them. Not one. They were most likely hesitant to make her acquaintance. She was an odd sort. Eccentric, as the Game Controller called her. But she was meant to be, had always been, here…from the beginning. No one came here. Not even her family. It had been so long since she had seen them she was starting to doubt their existence
The land surrounding her cottage was filled with wildlife. The woods were dense and dangerous. She could hear shots more often than not. There were times she could actually see the gunmen. Hunters they called themselves. However, to her they were murderers. Moreover, they did not like her much.
She had pellets in her window frames to prove it. And a those small inverted nipple shaped holes, you know, a tiny hole with gradient circles around showing layers in the glass. There were times when those pellets travled furthure, diggin deep into the little fat of her skin like a maggot burrowing into putrified meat. These were her only forays into public life. She dislikes the doctor, hospital and the nurses. They were always the same, always devoid of humor, or even personalities. Emily was far too colorful for them.
A couple of times she had been hurt almost fatally. She barely remembers those days. She would wake many days later, after healingâ€¦and sleeping. Then waking to the creak, click, creeeeaaakâ€¦ ugh, it was unnerving. And the voices. Were they external, or just swimming in her head?
The Game Controller would then bring her home where she would sleep until another sunrise.
She doesnâ€™t remember when she met the Game Controller. She felt like she knew him forever. Maybe she did?
Emily swung her feet over the bed and into her slippers, pulling her robe over her slight frame, made her way to the kitchen to have some tea.
â€¦creak, CREAK! It was getting louder. Laughing, yelling. She swore she heard someone walking on the roof.
She hated telling the Game Controller. He would tell her she was just hearing things, the cabin was settling, clichÃ© lines.
After finishing her tea, she grabbed some jeans, shoes, and shirt. She then tidied up the room and strolled out the front door to the woods to feed the deer who had become her family. She could hear the guns and soon she saw the orange vests of the slayers hiding in the trees. Within minutes of this discovery she was tackled and thrown to the ground.
â€œYou are going to get killedâ€ The Game Controller whispered.
It seemed like he ALWAYS said the same thing. But, what else does one say. She pulled away, jumped to her feet, and then with her engaging smile, she reached for the Game Controllerâ€™s hand and helped him to his feet while thanking him.
â€œIs there an attic in the house?â€ she asked, knowing he probably knew less about her home than she did. At least she hoped so.
He looked at her perplexed. As if she was speaking in a foreign vane.
â€œNo, I donâ€™t know what you are talking aboutâ€ He said this often, making her feel like she was out of her mind. And maybe she was. But she needed to know.
â€œHave you found the key yetâ€
He was speaking of a key, lost on the property before she came. She was never quite certain of the keyâ€™s purpose. She had, in fact, found the key a while ago. In the birdhouse attached to the maple tree of all places. She happened to see a woodpecker go in, but then was afraid to leave because of the squirrel pummeling him from the outside. Emily freed the bird and in doing so, found the old brass Skelton key. She didnâ€™t tell the Game Controller. Instead she secreted the key in her top drawer until she could find itâ€™s purpose. She wasnâ€™t certain why. She just felt like the Game Controller was far too preoccupied with it and she really did not like change. Something deep inside told her the key was certain to bring change.
She went for a small walk with the Game Controller, until one of the assassins made himself known. The two got into a scramble, and the Game Controller got hurt. She tried to rush him to get help, but the days ended earlier and earlier and when darkness prevailed, she was somehow summoned to her cottage and the Game Controller was left to fend for himself.
It was odd, some days ended quite abruptly. Others seemed to be incessant.
She woke the following morning to the same series of creak, cracks, ticks and fluttering from â€œGod knows whereâ€. Instead of usual routine of slippers, robe, tea, dressing and finding her way to her beloved wildlife, she broke routine and slowly walked the floor with bare feet, each step feeling for inconsistencies. But the sound was not coming from the floor, she was certain. But if not the floor then where? Emily perused the room, settling on the bureau. She knew it wasnâ€™t too heavy, she had stained t and carried it, cumbersome as it was, into the house.
She leveled her weight in order to push the dresser to the center of the room. She then pushed the bench from the end of the bed the few steps to the bureau. She pulled herself up to standing on the bench and then clambered up to the top of the bureau. The creaking had stopped, thankfully, only momentarily.
She slowly stood up, it was awkward. Only someone who has scoped such a situation can know that standing that high and craning your neck back can cause vertigo and probably get you killed. But Emily was not to be deterred. And she was RIGHT! The creaking started up again and it was closer, clearer. She ran her hand across the wood slat ceiling when she felt a peculiar shape. Not peculiar at all, it was a key hole.
On the ceiling. Suddenly the voices became clearer, she could almost understand what they were saying â€œOpen it!!â€ and â€œGet the key, hurry or you will get shotâ€
She quickly jumped down,obeying the voices she sat on top of the bureau awkwardly pulling the drawer open from the uncomfortable position, rummaged through her â€œdaintiesâ€ until she found the key.
The voices were glad, they were laughing, clapping. She felt almost proud of herself.
A shadow ran across the far wall. She quickly glanced at the window seeing the Game Controller coming closer to the house.
She made haste to her position below the keyhole, took the key, and fit it in to the lock. The voices were almost out of control as she turned the key. Slowly she pushed up the slats, then grasped the edges, pulling herself up. She suddenly realized, she was not rising up, but was in fact hanging below the floor. She became faint, folding, falling.
â€œYou won! You won! The larger of two boys exclaimed as he dropped the game controller.
The Game Controller