“How to Get Grounded….Forever” by Louise D. Gornall
In knowing Louise, and talking with her, we’ve had to have discussed every fandom on the planet. On Twitter, she has the best header and if ever I’m in need for a hug, she’s one of the first people I look to. Not only that, but she’s an amazeballs writer. In fact, she has a book out called In Stone, and prominently features gargoyles. Who doesn’t love gargoyles! The tale below is amazeballs on its own level. Louise sets this creature in the backdrop of high school, the perfect place for beings that don’t quite fit in. The heart tug is there and you’ll feel it. You can follow her on Twitter @Rock_andor_roll.
The Minnesota Iceman is a human-like creature discovered in Siberia. Promoter Frank Hansen was the first to display the creature in the 60’s, and was lauded as being genuine by a number of cryptozoologists. The creature changed hands a few times before being sold on eBay in 2013 and is on display in Austin, Texas. The sale was featured on A&E’s Shipping Wars.
And now “How to Get Grounded… Forever” by Louse D. Gornall:
“Mom, your weird creature thingy is hiding in the freezer again.” It stares at me and flashes a rotting smile. The second its lips part, all I can smell is dead body and festering feet. I slam the door shut because ew. Gross.
“Don’t call him weird, honey.” My mom sails into the kitchen, her lab coat flapping behind her. “You’ll give the poor guy a complex.”
“Are you kidding? He has one eye, a porthole in the back of his skull and 95% of his body is covered in thick fibrous hair. At this point, I think a complex is mandatory.”
She sighs like she’s bored then opens the freezer door. The creature makes this throaty chortle sound when it sees her and she offers it a smile that makes me think of meth addicts a thousand miles high.
“Hey, big guy, how’s it going?”
“It doesn’t understand you.” I tell her because despite a collage of qualifications decorating her study wall, this thing makes her lose her mind.
“Robin, please, he’s not an it. You know full well his name is Martin.” The woman is bat-shit crazy. Taking mad scientist to a whole new level.
I roll my eyes. “Whatever. I can’t get to my frozen yoghurt and I’m going to be late for school.”
She slaps a frozen raspberry frome into my palm and I make for the door.
“Hold it.” I stop. “Aren’t you forgetting someone?”
“No.” I don’t turn because fighting with her is futile when she initiates eye contact. “Robin, we talked about this.”
“I didn’t think you were serious.”
“Well, of course I was serious, sweetheart. How else is Martin going to learn to assimilate if we don’t involve him in our everyday lives?”
“Um, I don’t care.”
“Well, you should. Martin can teach us a lot.”
“Maybe we could teach him basic grooming in return.”
“Enough with the sass, young lady. Martin’s coming with you.”
“No he’s not.” I make for the door, can feel her on my heels. “Robin Margaret Chase. You stop right there.” I freeze in the front yard, halfway up the garden path.
“Look at me.” She’s tap-tap-tap tapping her foot on the concrete. I lift my eyes, take in arms tightly folded across her chest. “It’s been six months. The whole town is learning to accept Martin. What is the big deal?”
Splat. From nowhere a strawberry shake hits my shoes and goes off like a grenade, covering me in sticky pink milk. I smell like baby sick.
“Freak.” Travis Clayborn and his mustang full of muscled miscreants speeds away from my house laughing at the tops of their lungs and making monkey noises that echo around the houses of our neighborhood. I die inside.
“You were saying?”
“That boy is a bully, who doesn’t appreciate science.” That boy is king of my high school. No one gives a shit about how much science he knows.
“I don’t care,” I say, snatching the rag from her. “I’m not taking that thing to school and you can’t make me.
“Quit ruining my life.” I scream as I walk out of our yard.
“What’s that smell?” My BFF Nate slams his back into the locker beside mine.
“Hostility and self-loathing,” I reply, snatching a stack of books and slamming the door.
“Uhh. It’s pretty.”
He links my arm and we both sloth to Biology, shoulders butting each other until we take our seats at the front of class.
Mr. Clarke starts talking about fungus or plants or some B-movie horror he watched at the weekend while Nate attacks me with a bottle of cologne. It doesn’t mask the sick smell, just mingles with it and makes it sweeter.
“Oh-O. Don’t look now, but your mother just showed up with the Iceman.”
“What?” I almost fall off my stool. Sure enough my mom is stood at the door, the creature hiding behind her, unable to standstill, like the floor is made of fire. I bury my face in my hands, can feel myself shrinking.
“I still think you’re overreacting.”
“I’m just saying, the poor guy looks kind of skittish and lost. Like a hairy, grotesque kind of kitten.”
My mom and Mr. Clarke start chatting. The creature lifts its head and we make eye contact. It smiles and I can see mites moving between its teeth.
“Look. He recognizes you.” Nate tells me in a tone that should be reserved for puppies in a pet shop window.
Travis Clayborn takes this opportunity to shout from the back of the room about it suddenly looking like a zoo up in here, and the whole class. Think. It’s. HILARIOUS. I can only assume that most of their lives are tragically devoid of Kevin Smith movies and 30 Rock reruns.
“Aw. He’s waving at you.”
“Nate, can we please cut The Wonder Years commentary.”
He fake zips his lips.
“Robin,” Mr. Clarke’s booming voice startles the skin off me. “Your mom tells me Martin is going to be joining us today. Maybe you could pull him up a chair.” I’m being told, not asked. My mom uses goo goo ga ga sounds to coax Martin out from behind her back, and with the caution of a tightrope walker he makes his way over to our bench.
My mom offers me an apologetic smile and a quick wave before leaving the room. I take a small amount of solace in the fact that one day, I get to pick which nursing home she lives in.
We spend the rest of the lesson being pelted by wads of spit-balled paper. The creature just sits there, staring at its hands while a mass of white balls collects in its fur.
It follows me around all day, walking ten paces behind, looming like a shadow. Everybody wants to touch it and talk to it. Miss Graves, my drama teacher, even asks me if it would like a role in the school’s Spring production of Romeo and Juliet. She thinks it will bring in a crowd. I tell her it doesn’t speak English and she spends the rest of our drama lesson with a wilted lip, sulking. The whole town has gone fucking crazy.
I walk the back roads home because after hours of whispers and staring, I’m craving some anonymity. The thing tails me. I dream up scenarios in which it loses sight of me, turns to the woods that boarders our walk and gets lost.
I’ve barely rounded the corner at Bridge Park when a car pulls up beside me. I don’t speak to strangers so I ignore it, but the car persists, crawling along the curb, keeping pace. It’s a limo, all black, with tinted windows so I can’t see inside. Maybe it’s someone famous.
“Hey, you. Green hoody, black jeans, what’s your name?” It’s a man’s voice. I keep my eyes on the ground and don’t stop walking.
“What’s it to you?”
“I want to buy that thing from you?”
He calls it a thing. Not Martin, not big guy, not The Iceman. A thing. Just like I do. That’s why I stop. Maybe this whole town isn’t crazy, maybe there is one other person here that thinks like me. I turn, look at the guy. A grey moustache crawls across his top lip. He’s wearing a top hat and glaring at me through a monocle. Maybe not.
“It’s not for sale. Sorry.”
Millions of dollars have been offered for the creature over the last six months. I don’t get it. I mean, I don’t get why you’d want to pay for it, or why you wouldn’t want to take the money. Mom says it’s because you can’t put a price on learning. I look back at the monkey. Its neck is craned, its nose twitching toward the limo.
“I’ll give you 5 million dollars,” the man tells me. His cheeks twitch when he smiles. He’s really excitable and starting to look a lot like a comic book villain.
“China offered us 10.” I shrug and carry on shuffling along the street.
“12,” the man says.
“Dude, honestly, if it were up to me, you could have this thing for a buck and a licorice whip. But it’s not. I think there’s some kind of process you can go through, apply to have it shipped to your house or something…”
“I want it now,” he interjects.
“Yeah, well, get in line,” I mutter. He’s starting to irritate me.
The monkey growls and I turn to see a black van has pulled up, can’t see inside its windows either. My stomach swims. I suddenly feel very unsafe.
“Hey.” The creature looks at me. “Get over here.” It starts waddling toward me just as the side door of the van rolls open.
I see a gun, hear the shot whip through the air, then the creature is moaning. It’s loud enough to wake the dead. It reaches back over its shoulder and its thick, clumsy fingers try to grab the dart poking out of its back.
“What the hell are you doing?” I rush over as the monkey collapses to its knees. Three men jump out of the van and grab it. The creature keeps wailing, it causes pressure behind the back of my eyes.
“I said what are you doing?” I tug on one of the jackets of the men, but he produces a gun, pushes the cold metal barrel against my nose and slowly shakes his head. I step back, try to keep control of my bladder as my body starts shaking.
No one says a word as the monkey goes quiet and is bundled into the back of the van. The gun stays on me, even as the guy holding it takes his seat behind the wheel.
“You should have just taken the money,” the guy in the limo tells me. The vans engine growls to life. They’re leaving.
“Please, you can’t take it.” I can see my mother’s face. Who the fuck is going to believe that the Monopoly guy pulled up in a limo and kidnapped the giant monkey? She’s going to think I did this on purpose. There is nothing I can do as the guy’s window crawls to a close and both vehicles drive away.
I just lost one of the greatest scientific discoveries known to man. I swallow down a golf ball. I’m in serious trouble.