This was turned into story form from a chat transcript that is a little over a year old. All names except for my own have been changed to protect the less-than-innocent. Enjoy:
Chris wandered by the gaping doorway and poked his head inside. Next to the fireplace were three huddled figures. The one closest to the leaping flames was seated on the raised hearth. He was in the middle of a tale involving strange and mysterious creatures to two girls seated in front of him who occasionally urged him to get to the good parts faster.
The figure in the dark doorway interrupted. “Are you still telling the same tale?”
“Of course,” said one of the two listeners. The features of her young face melted into the darkness as she turned away from the fire’s glow.
“It won’t ever be possible for me to catch up on the whole tale, will it?”
The other three laughed. The story teller stood up and announced he needed to get going for a little bit anyway. “It’s Chris’ turn to tell a story for the young ladies.”
The dark figure chewed his lip for a moment. He was busy, but the cheers of the two still seated in front of the fire convinced him to stay for just a few moments. Fifi, the youngest, even clapped.
Chris moved toward the coveted hearth seat as Amos, the one taking a break, slipped out the door without another word.
The eldest of the two, a lass by the name of Maybelle who was still younger than Chris, urged him to begin immediately.
“What kind of tale? Shall it be a true-to-life story?”
The two girls considered for a couple seconds and then consented. They just wanted to hear something.
“When I was younger, before Fifi was even born—even though it was likely to be around that time,” Chris began.
The eldest, whom we will call Maybelle, interrupted. “How old were you?”
“I was about 7, the perfect age.”
“My parents had just moved into a new house, the first they had ever bought.”
Maybelle interrupted again. “Where was it,” she asked bright-eyed.
“South Carolina. It was in a brand new subdivision that was surrounded by woods. There were a few lots that were overgrown because the builders had not had a chance to build yet but not too many. As all kids have to do, I had to explore them.”
“Of course,” interjected Maybelle.
“This area was well-known for the attachment some of the people had to voodoo. There were floating lights seen out at ‘Land’s End’ occasionally (which, admittedly was several miles away, but still…)”
As Chris’s voice faded and he considered how to continue, there was a comment about it being a little creepy.
“Perhaps, but this particular day everybody else was occupied with… I don’t remember what. So I grabbed my bike and headed off by myself.”
“Uh-oh,” Maybelle laughed in anticipation.
Fifi, who had been listening quietly, interjected a question. “Is this another coffin story?”
Chris continued. “I rode around the loop that was our neighborhood a few times and quickly became bored. The thought of climbing a few trees sounded like great fun, which is probably obvious from the story so far.”
Maybelle affirmed that last bit.
“Well, the bike seemed to head in that direction. I chose to tag along (while pedaling, of course). At the edge of the woods were several thorny bushes and it was almost unthinkable to ride the bike through them. Had I not been preoccupied, I probably would have had a hard time leaving it there all by itself. With my imagination running wild through the trees, I didn’t hear one complaint from it.”
Fifi commented on how pitiful it was when they begin to call your name and Maybelle agreed.
“Only if you are within earshot,” Chris whispered as though it were a grand secret.
The two girls laughed, and the story continued.
“I climbed several trees and ran around in circles—even threw piles of leaves into the air.”
“Sound like a grand old time,” observed Maybelle.
“It was so much fun that it started to get dark before I realized it, and Mom was very strict about us being home before then.”
Maybelle remarked on her dismay.
“I looked around to find the best way back out of the woods.”
“Ooh, Chris got lost in the woods,” Maybelle said, still wide-eyed.
“Well, I did try calling my bike but it refused to answer. I think it was simply mad at me.”
Fifi jumped in compassionately. “That’s what you get for leaving it.”
“At last I saw a strangely-shaped tree that I remembered seeing earlier and that helped me to know which way to go. With a direction in mind, I set off more determined than ever. It worked out well, too. I ended up on the wrong side of the neighborhood.”
“Uh-oh,” said Maybelle again.
Chris winked at her. “I was 7, so I raced across the neighborhood to my bike. It was exactly where I had left it and only had a couple more scratches (which were probably from it trying to climb through some of the thorns to follow me).”
“Aw, poor thing.”
“To make up for leaving it all afternoon, I rode it home.”
At this point somebody from a dark corner of the room yawned and greeted everyone. All three of the figures around the fire welcomed him in return and a small side conversation started about greetings and when they should be given.
Chris thought about the tasks he was neglecting for this tale. “I’m going to pretend that was the end of the story and get back to work.”
Maybelle protested quickly while Fifi informed Chris that she was waiting more patiently for him to resume than she had for Amos when he paused.
The one telling the story looked unconvinced for a moment until Maybelle threw a pillow at him. That was not a wise thing to do with how close he was to the fire. He thought how ironic it was. Nevertheless, the tale wasn’t complete so he allowed himself to be talked into finishing it.
The stranger in the corner laid back down and, from the sounds of it, rolled over.
Chris sighed in a playful manner but continued. “Oh, alright. I rode the bike home and went to put it into the shed, because that was where it belonged when not in use. Through gate we went and over to the door, but when I opened it the room was pitch black. I remembered that there were matches on a shelf near the door…”
“Oh, my,” said Fifi. “Perfect,” interjected Maybelle.
“It didn’t take much fumbling to find them and the short bursts of light let me see where to put my bike.” Chris paused for a moment uninterrupted. “Now, the shed was attached to the house. You might say it was an outside room, and I had forgotten that there was a light in the shed with a pull string that would turn it on.”
Maybelle giggled, expecting something to happen.
Chris winced slightly. “Well, the match accidentally contacted the string and caught it on fire. The flames lept up above my head before I could think of what to do.”
“Oh no!” said Maybelle. Fifi laughed as if getting pleasure from some mental picture.
“The flames seemed to go out when they reached the light fixture.”
The ever-sharp Maybelle commented on the use of “seemed” which brought a slight smile to Chris’ face. He wasn’t managing to keep the surprises very well.
“I was already late and was expecting to get into enough trouble for that, so I turned and left. It seems that the string went into the fixture where it eventually caught the ceiling on fire… though it was slow at first.”
Here there was another exclamation of horror.
“It wasn’t all that surprising that I was sent to bed without dinner, but my room was next to the shed…”
One look at Maybelle’s face was enough inform the story teller that she was trying to think of all the various possible ways that things could turn out. Chris asked her if she had seen his scars, but continued the story before an answer could be made.
“Thankfully I was hungry enough that it energized my brain instead of sending it to sleep. As I lay watching the ceiling, a strange thing started to happen. It began to warp. Now, if I had been a normal teenager at the time I may have thought it was the effect of drugs.”
Fifi jumped in. “But you weren’t a teenager and you aren’t normal, so…” she prodded teasingly.
“Exactly! Since I was such a smart little kid, it occurred to me that it should not be happening.”
This brought laughter from the two listeners.
“When I got up to tell my parents about the ceiling, they sent me back to bed.”
Maybelle commented playfully, “They thought it was just a ruse to get you out of bed.”
“Yeah, and they probably had good reason to think that.”
Chris stared at her for a moment. “Anyway, it got worse. My little imaginative mind thought there must be a whale on the roof.”
Fifi laughed. “Oh, my… this reminds me of so many things I thought up when I was younger. And still do.”
“Yep, sneaking out has never been condoned but it wasn’t difficult either. As I opened my blinds, the second realization hit me—the back yard was pretty bright.”
Maybelle attempted to interject a comment, but Chris was already explaining what that second realization was. “It could only mean that superman was on the roof and spying on the neighbors with his X-ray vision.”
The comments to this part were excellent, and if you could get Chris to admit to anything he would have to say that he enjoyed hearing them.
“Just then the sirens came within earshot… the police were going to attack Superman! (Or maybe he was helping them?)”
“Prolly the latter,” deduced Maybelle. Two others in the room suddenly commented that they didn’t know what was going on but disappeared back to dreamland after a moment.
Chris continued. “There were child locks on the windows to keep them from opening too far, but I knew how to take them off.”
Fifi replied slyly, “Of course.”
“Hey! I was defeating child safety locks on car doors at the age of five.”
“Resourceful kid that you were,” commented Maybelle.
Chris chuckled for a moment and another girl came into the room. It was too late to start over, so he simply continued with the tale. “I took the locks off of the window by standing on the window sill and opened it. I performed a somersault over the sill itself to punch out the screen (it really doesn’t take that much weight).”
Fifi and Maybelle laughed.
“To my surprise, Superman had been attacked and then left. Our house was on fire because of it! My first thought was to warn mom and dad, so I ran over to the back door…”
“They didn’t know?” interjected Maybelle incredulously.
“... but they were at the front door with the firemen.”
“Ah,” said Maybelle. The new girl commented on Maybelle’s commentary.
“My dad ran to the back to get us kids, ‘cept I wasn’t in my room. Whether I was in the house or had slipped through the window he had to consider quickly. He assumed (rightly) that I had slipped out.”
Maybelle commented again. “He knew you well.”
“ApPARENTly,” said Chris, stressing the parent part. “He got my brother and sister out so I went and sat on the swing in the back yard. That was where the firemen found me… They really got the fire out pretty quickly and only the shed, my room, and the kitchen were damaged.”
“Oh, that’s good” said Maybelle.
Chris brought the story to a close. “But that was how I taught my bike to answer when I called for it.”
“Did your bike get ruined?”
“It had to be taken to the bike hospital, I mean, repair shop.”
“Aw, poor thing. Did you send it a get well card?”
“Nope, it had to learn who was boss.”
Fifi asked, “So you set its house on fire?! You are slightly disturbing…”
“Um… do I really have to answer that?”
Maybelle said yes while Fifi shrugged.
It was Chris’ turn to laugh. “No, the entire story is fictional.”
“The ENTIRE story?” asked Fifi, in shock.
Maybelle yelled, “Are you serious?!?!” She threw another pillow.
“Everything except for the basic layout of the neighborhood and the house.”
The two girls looked at each other for a moment and then finally thanked the story teller for his tale. He told them that he needed to get back to work, but that he would have to share some of his true stories sometime.