Written nonstop on February 16th, 2019
one day I was driving in my car along a dark dark road, (it was actually night,) through teh mountains and
valleys ... the road was lined with fenceless fields of tall grass ... the crickets were yelping ... teh moon
was a waxing three quarters moon ... my cousin had invited me to his home to receive a "surprise" gift
i had expressed concerns about the vagueness of his offer combined with how lengthy the drive to his rural home
would be. he simply reiterated that while he knew he was being difficult, and would understand if i declined,
this was a simply fantastic surprise gift, he hoped I would agree. it was a gift that necessitated the
vagueness, to preserve the great impacting surprise it would have. i debated for a while. finally
I came to the conclusion ... that I had nothing better to be doing on this lonely night!
i pulled onto "yuddy lane", the last road I needed to pull onto. I knew I needed to turn left, but I could not
remember my cousin's address ... i phoned him and asked what his address was. he said, "yes! it's 5551 yuddy
lane. i'm glad to here you are almost hear! if i had been typing that, i would've transposed the two homophones"
i smiled at my cousins silly sense of humor, and thanked him. i hung up and drove for several minutes
until my headlights finally illuminated the shiny metals of "5551", nailed to the horizontal of a
7-shaped post at the edge of the yard. "hmm," i thought, "it's a good thing we are not near 7
yuddy lane, or I may miss the numbers and become confused." i pulled into the driveway
i stepped out onto the gravelly gravel driveway and huffoed over to the front door. "knock knock!" i
said, while knocking twice. all the lights were on ... but there was no answer ... for a whole minute,
and yes I knocked again of course, and waited another minute, and then i knock knock knocked
a third time, this time with 3 knocks, but after 3 more minutes there came no answer...
"well, my cousin is especting me, so i can let myself into his home", i reasoned it to myself as i grasped
the door knob and rotated it, enabled the door to open if i pushed it, which i did do to the door, and
it did open without a hitch or a latch, which would have prevented it from opening if it were latched
as i stepped into my cousins living room for the first time in roughly 3 years, i inhaled the semi-familial
scent of those 3 years ago when i had dined on mash during the thanksgiving visit. i also remembered times
of being young, when i would come here more often ... while my nose was drawn to the mash and salad days,
my eyes were drawn to the 5 foot tall present box sitting in his living room, which was bare of people,
such as him, the only resident, and the present was also presumably presently bare of residents
"wow", i thought. "if the size of the present box correlates with the awesomeness adn
surprise of the gift within then truly my cousin had not lied or exaggerated in his
risky messages. i want him to be here to see my wide eyes and flabbergastidity"
"cousin!", i said loudly, "are you here to greet me?! i am here for my gift. i want
you to be here to see me open my gift! please withdraw from your hiding spot!"
but there came no answer ... "he has had to step outside?" i reasoned,
stepping back out to the cool night air and the stridulatey yelps
i stalked around the perimeter of the house scanning the dim front, side, and back yards ... i
looked into the scary dark woods behind the house, which i had always been scared of since the
salad mashes ... a chill ran up my spine and i spun around to face the creature i imagined to be
tiptoeing behind me, but of course it was not there. this place was so ... dark and creepy! i gave
a last "Cousin!!!" to no answer before i retreated to the comforting smells of the interior
"oh cousin oh cousin... we have to play this game?" i frustrated, beginning to search the home carefully.
from room to room ... with each light switch i flipped i nearly anticipated a sinister figure waiting
in the opposing corner ... the entire scenario was beginning to unnerve me ... so often my imagination
will attempt to make me panic! "i decided i would put a stop to this and phone my cousin directly,"
i thought to myself as i wielded my phone and began to navigate to his dialing menu
i imagined how scary it would be if a voice were to chuckle behind me, and speeded back to the
living room, huddling on the couch that was furthest from any doorways, an ancient instinct from
my fearful youth brought to usage in the present day ... i just had such heebie jeebies ... this
home, it looked like an old lady's home, my cousin ... he was in his mid-thirties, and the
decoration was due to him having not refurbished in the time since "she" had passed ...
finally, i dialed in the menu, and waited to hear the explaining voice of my dear cousin
... he picked up! he picked up! and i hear ... nothing? nothing? i hear nothing, he has
picked up yet there is silence ... "cousin! cousin, can you hear me! why do you give me
this cold shoulder! i am here in your home, please attend to me! please come and see
me flabbygast at your generous gift!" and there is only silence ...
i turn to the ceilings and walls, and i keep our phone connection going, so that he will hear my
next call whether acoustically or digitally! "COUSIN! IF YOU DO NOT COME OUT NOW
... I WILL OPEN MY PRESENT WITHOUT YOU! I WILL GIVE YOU FIVE MINUTES!"
and so I gave him 3 minutes, eyeing the big big box, and the silent stuffy atmosphere of the living room
begins to get at me ... i cannot take it anymore! i don't like this scenario! i decide ... that i need to just open
the box and get it all over with! i need it all over with! my nerves are so scared, i am scared to touch the
box without anyone present ... i almost feel as if when i begin to tear at the box it will trigger a demon
to leap from the hallway and approach me! i picture this in my head, over and over ...
acting in the face of my fears, i stand up from the couch and approach the box. i place my arm around the
box so that my next action does not tip the box. i place four fingertips firmly to the box and begin to
drag downward, until the present wrapping tears. perhaps my dear cousin is waiting in the box ... but
what will that mean of the gift?! will he hand me a billion dollars?! i begin to tear more at all
the present wrappings and yes yes i tear and tear, and the brown cardboard meat is revealed ...
my voice quivavers, "now, cousin, I am at the cardboard meat ... if you do not come out now
... you will NEVER get to watch my bewilderment at your wonderful gift..." i count down
from fifteen, and frustratedly bat the box with the back of my hand. it has little weight! it
effortlessly topples to the side, revealing nothing. "What?" i look down ... "What?!"
seamlessly with the floor there is a clean clean stone staircase, it is perfectly
square, descending down beneath the home ... "Oh, you gotta be crapping me..."
i tiptoe out teh door and back to my car, which has a flashlight always kept in its trunk. the
moon is still a waxing three quarters moon because its phase does not change overnight. i
go back into my cousins home ... and carefully walk down the mysterious new steps
my flash light illuminates clean clean stone hallways, appearing almost metallic ...
they are just a little taller than me ... "Cousin, cousin, what is this game?! You cannot
antagonize me like this! What is this extensive construction you have performed,
you cannot subject me to this confusing and harrowing investigation!"
the hallway branches and branches, and I continue down the root, I do not go into these
branches for fear of getting lost ... this is all too much ... surely a demon or scary lady
could be down here ... I walk and walk and walk and there is just so much hallway!
but I get to the end, which is just a flat wall that is the end of the hallways ...
i sit frustratedly against this wall and ponder this strangeness ... now that i know what is
inside this stupid and stupid box, i suppose i can leave ... i do not care to speak to my
cousin, for this strange and stressful waste of time! i do not care to know what is the
deal with these dark halls! i stand up and quickly walk for the staircase. i am getting
scared and scared and scared. it feels as if now that i intend to leave, that now is when the
demons and ghoul men and spectre women should emerge from the halls and accost me ...
i walk really really fast and i do make it to the staircase! i place one foot on the
stepcase and prepare to begin climbing when i feel a presence to my front ...
i anxiously grind my head upwards to look, and it's ......... "her" ... i nearly
piss my self. im REALLY REALLY Close to pissing myself but i don't.
"Ok. Ok. No. This is fucking bullshit. You have passed, what are you doing here? What are
you doing here? This is not you ... It cannot truly be you, "her". Is this related to this gift
hall gobbledygook?" "She" only continues to look at me ... She is old and her face
is disapproving, and her hair is like a loaf ... I did not ever liked her ...
i close my eyes and stead fastly walk up the stairs stubbornly. i do not care if "she" is standing
at the top in my way, "she" cannot truly be here ... I do not impact a person sanding in my
path, only the couch, which would of been behind her. I did it! I snap my eyes open and spin
around, anticipating creatures, which of course are not there ... "This is all just too weird
... I will leave", I say as I open the door and go out to teh yard, but here is where my
blood stops cold. In place of my car, there is ... A big big present box
"NO NO! NO NO! THIS IS TOOOOO WEIRD!!!" i say panickedly. I tear frantically at the wrapping paper
and this time the box is very very heavy and as I punch through the meat I see that fortunately my car
is still inside, for to have seen a new stairs would have been so scary. I begin tearing and tearing
the interior present meat in a frenzy! I glance over my shoulder a lot as I do it ... I dont waste any
time I just get in my car, I am NOT staying here anymore its just too weird. I back up and crush all
the cardboard behind me, pull out of the driveway, and begin driving and driving down Yuddy Lane ...
as I am driving I get a call to my phone .... ooogghhffff ... this better
not be weird ... "phone, answer call", I say ... the call connects us ...
"Cousin?" says cousin. "COUSIN!!!" i say "WHAT IS THIS??? DO YOU
KNOW OF YOUR ABSENCE? KNOW OF THE STRANGE STAIRS? I
HAVE LEFT, FOR IT IS ALL TOO STRANGE! EXPLAIN ALL OF THIS!"
"Well cousin, did you see the hallways?"
"Well, and did you see 'her'?"
"And did you see the creepy creepy woods behind the yards?"
"And when you went outside there was a box on your car?
"Well this all points ot one important important thing my cousin..."
"Do not tease me! Tell me what is the point of all these stressful mysteries!"
My cousin finally says ... "The Game." and BEEP he hangs up.
"AAAHHHFFFHHHH!!!!!!!!!" I scream angrily and begin hitting and hitting my steering wheel. I cannot believe
he went through all of this only to make me lose the game! How had my stupid cousin even orchestrated all
of these illusions and phantasms? I hate him nd hate him and hate him. It is an angry angry drive home!
as I am driving home ... the gas is low. I decide I need to stop at a gas station, it is very bright.
I walk in and tell the man to put 20 bucks into pump 4, clerk! he is a beardy man. "Why the long
and angry face?" he says ... Hm, will I lay down my woes to this convenient man? I guess I will
tale him my tell, I think to myself, noting that I transposed the two homophones in my head.
Though my cousin has wronged me, the greatness of his humor is inimitable ...
I tell him all that has happened. "But how?!" I plead to him, "How could he have built a labyrinth?
How could he have placed the box?! How could I have seen 'her'?!" and he is stupified supa
flyed ... "Wow. Your mean old cousin has really done all of this just to make you lose
teh game? What a grade A jerk loser! Nobody deserves to lose the game..."
I look down at the floor sadly "Yes ... I thought he cared about me, yet he has shown such a strange
sadism ..." ..... "Hey", the clerk says, "Listen. I clock out in twenty minutes ... I can probably leave a little
early ... Once you gas your car up, maybe I could ride with you back to your cousins stupid house. We can
investigate this whole mystery together. What do you say?" Wow, I think, he wants to work together to
unravel the mystery? What a kind ... "Craig," I think, eyeing his work name chest plaque.
"It will be a much better time than my usual lonely time. I dont have a car and I live 40 miles
from this gas station. It takes me so long to walk home every night that I have to immediately start
walking back after 5 minutes so that I'll be on time for my next shift. Maybe you can drive me
back to my house, once we unravel the mystery, and I can have a life, for one night..."
"Okay, Craig," I say, hoping he will not be creeped out that I know his name ... Hopefully he will remember
that he is wearing a chest plaque, and not think that I am a stalking him ... "We will drive back to my cousin's
house and explore this strange scenario. Fill 'er up!" I wish I had not said the last sentence, because
even though it was a silly exclamation it did not seem that jovial or funny. But he fills 'er up and
we go to teh car ... Me and my new companion set sail for 5551 Yuddy Lane..."
"So," I say as we are driving, "Craig how do you contend with such a hard life of walking
and standing? Dont you sleep or eat?" But I started talking too late b ecause I finished
the sentence right as we pulled into the driveway of the house. "Oh.", I say. "I wanted
to get to know Craig..." I think to myself privately. I am in love with Craig.
we get out of the car. "So this is the house?" Craig says. "Yes, that is why I stopped here."
Craig laughs, "I guess I shouldnt have asked if this is the house because why else would we
stop here." I laugh! Ha ha ha! We cautiously re enter the home in the creeping dark. I am
worried that my car might end up in a giant present box again but I press onward ...
We go into the living room and I show Craig it. I point at the stairs, "Yes ... The box
was here ... 'She' was standing at the top, how was 'she' there? It could not have been
her..." ..... ..... "I think we should go back down into the halls," says Craig. "Well
.. I had decided I did not care about this silly nonsense and the halls, but now that
this is a team effort ... I guess I can help explore these halls for you, Craig."
We tip toe down the stairs like cat burglars. Craig has his own flashlight. "So weird in
here..." says Craig. "Yes." I say. "I think we need to be careful. what if the hallways branch
more, such that one could be lost in them? You have to think about these things. In halls..."
We decide to go to the backmost hall and try the right one first ... It is dark and
angular ... The hallway makes little turns and twists, but there are no extra turns
or forks to make us lost ... "Phew ..." ... We finally came to a little cubic chamber
at the back. At the center is a pedestal ... On the pedestal is ... A little normal
sized present box ... It is short and wide, and rectangular ...
"Oh no no," I whimpher, "Craig ... I am so tired of presents, so so tired
I am of presents ... I may not even celebrate my Christmas, Craig ..."
"Hey... Dont worry. Lets open the box. I think it is right and good to open a box"
"OK!" Yes... It is right and good to open up a box... I pick up the box and peel
the wrapping paper off. As before there is uniform cardboard meat. I open the
meat and slide out a clam shell packaging .. Inside is ... A familiar doll ...
"I remember this doll, Craig ... When I was so young! ..... I saw it on the highest of store
shelves, as we passed through the great aisle of playthings ... But 'she' would not let me
have it! And I will clarify, Craig, that it was not out of any sort of parental guidelines
or financial necessity ... She would only put all the money into senseless trinkets
and doo-dads, never the delight of those around her ... How greedy she was!"
"Wow," said Craig, "Its not right and good to be greedy. Strange, how strange, that
the doll should be down here ... Maybe now you can finaly have the doll, but what
is the meaning of this 'game'?! And how will you open the clamshell packaging?"
I effortlessly opened the clam shell packaging but I and Craig almost pissed
our selves when the droll leaped to its feet and spread its arms excitedly
"HEY HOO, WHADDAYA DO!" it squealed with its non-mouth.
"OH JESUS!" I said "TOO WEIRD!"
"This is too weird" Craig
"SALAME, WA HA HEY! WHADDA WE DOIN' HERE?! DOWN IN THE HALLS, THINK
THWRE'S NOTHIN AT ALL? BOOM, HERE'S A DOLL, LOL WHO HAD THE GALL?"
"Oh god! Please dont say any more rhymes! Why are you moving?! Please, can you tell us about
all of these halls and rooms! UUggghhh you're so gross and weird and I dont like this!"
"OOOHHHH YEAAAAHHHH!!! IN THE HALLS THERES 24 ROOMS! THEYRE REAL DARK AND SCARY AND FULL OF DOOM!
YOU GOTTA GO GET THE OTHER 23 PRESENTS, THINGS FROM HTHE PAST NOW THEYRE HERE IN THE PRESENT!"
"This is tooweird!" says Craig. Wow, thats one of my catchphrases ... We're really bonding. "Why do we need to
find all of these presents?! Theres no rhyme or reason to any of this, please we need an underlying logic!
It kind of seems like it has a theme of emotional catharsis regarding a bad childhood relation ship with
'her', is my guess, but please just give us a straight answer and please dont scream and rhyme anymore!"
"HEHEOOOHEHEEHEHEOEHEHOHOEHEO", says the doll, a final defiant act of being unpleasant and
horrible before it slumps lifelessly back onto the pedestal. I decide to take it because its more tolerable
when its not awful and dancing and doing gay shit. "Wow" I think "Kind of chathrtic ... Chathart...ic"
"Craig," I say, "I dont want to go in all the rooms. Theres twenty four rooms, thats
just way too many rooms, I dont need so many presents and old objects. I dont
care about this gay room thing, I think we should just leave the stupid halls"
"I think so too .. But I think maybe we just should try 1 more room so that we can
seeif theres really just a little room with a present at the end of all the halls."
"OK fine," I say, willing to comprimise even though I kind of just want to get the F
out of here. *Sighs* Let's go check out the other room across the main hall way.
We walk back through the little twists of the side hall into the main hall and keep walking into the
opposite branch hall and ya long story short we come to a room at the end but this time it is like a whole
living room but it is all like the clean clean stone moulded into the rigid shapes of living room objects
"Hmm," surmises Craig. "I surmise that this whole thing is just going to turn into
puzzles or something and get more convoluted and gay the more rooms we go in.
This will probably happen regardless of which order we go down the hallways."
"That kind of gay," I say. "I guess we could figure out what is up with the living room thing and then maybe
leave cause I dont really care to see if the rooms get bigger or whatever. Also I guess this is 'the game'
and my cousin wasnt trying to make me lose 'the game' from the Internet. Im really pissed off at him
but I guess thats one thing I shouldnt of assumed about him. Oh it's in the chimney," I say as I reach
my hand curiously up in the chimney of the fireplace and immediately find the present through luck
I sigh and unwrap the present and open the box. This time it is ... What?! A plate of freshly cooked
mash, filling the room with nostalgic odour ... "Ya I don't care about this let's go." Craig and I
walk out of teh living room back to the main hallway and just go back to the staircase. I get
kind of freaked out because "she" is standing at the top of the stairs again, looking down at us.
"Oh, is that 'her'?" says Craig. "I see her ... Thats really
pretty creepy but um we can just walk through her right?"
"Yes ... Let's go ..." I walk step in step with Craig up teh stairs and this time I keep my
eyes on "her" as we walk up the stairs ... As we get closer she scowls more and more and
once were like 0.000000000005 inches from her she fades away ... Craig says "I bet
shed disappear or talk or something if we got all the presents but thats gay."
"Yeah"I say and we get back in the car. It's time to drive Craig back to his house.
"Hey Craig wehre do you live? I will drive you back to your apartment" I say, secretly I
hope that when we get to Craigs house we can hang out and specifically listen to the 2005
album "Songs About Me" by country singer Trace Adkins, and I can put the moves on him
"oh I live at 5551 greensborough avenue" he says. "Thats a weird coincidence..." I think to myself but I do ntot lose
trust in Craig. the address is over near the dog food factory, which smells like dog food. i think to myself that
Craig must think about his home any time he smells dog food. i decide that if we get married, which is just a
tentative idea of course and im not jumping to any conclusions, i will make a point of making and serving
him dog food a lot to remind him of the blissful 5 minute stretches oftime when he is allowed to be at
home. i will probably do this in the gas station, which I will just live in. this is an ideal kind of life.
i get so caught up in thinking about these things that i hardly notie the scent of dog food drifting
into my nostrils, as well as the fact that we are at Craig's home. "Well," says Craig. "Thanks for
driving me back to my house. i guess this is the first time in many years that i will have any
free time. I will probably spend most of it repairing the dilapidation that has infested my
home due to the complete lack of care I am able to give it. Would you like to join me?"
"OMG OK" I say. i think to myself theat this finally care shown to craig's house will
be metaphorical for the introduction of a loving partner into his life. Craig and I
walk into the house. As I am putting my coat, wich I have been wearing, on the coat
rack, I hear a familiar voice chuckle behind me ... This startles me greatly because
it's like when I was tryign to find my cousin in his house and I had imagined a
chuckle behind me ... It also startles me because its the voice of my cousin
I spin around, Craig is looking, bewildered ... to see him sitting on the
armchair, twirling a coffee stirrer in his hand. "Where did he get a
coffee stirrer..." I think to myself ... Before I grab him by the
freaking lapels! "COUSIN?! WHAT ARE YOU DOING
HERE!!! HOW DO YOU KNOW THIS ADDRESS???
I'M SICK OF THIS NONSENSE!!!! YOU ARE THE
PUPPETEER OF THIS STRANGE GAME OF OUR
CHILDHOOD, YES?! HOW AND WHY ARE
YOU DOING THESE THINGS?!?!?!"
my cousin chuckles again and syays to me calmly,
"My dear cousin," this sends a shock through
me as I realize that I, too, am the cousin ...
"Dont you remember 'her'? Do you remember
the days we spent growing up, at-"
"NO I DONT CARE!!!!!!!!! I JUST WANT TO
HAVE A NORMAL TIME AND HANG OUT WIH
CRAIG AND HELP HIM FIX HIS HOUSE!!!" i have
barely taken in teh gross rotting wood and fungal carpets
around me ... other than that the house looks like it could be
pretty nice ... "YOURE NORMALLY SO NICE, MY
COUSIN, WHAT HAS GOTTEN INTO YOU?"
"okay ... okay ... calm down ... if you are so desperate for an end to these strangeigns... i will tell you
why i am doing all of this... nights ago i was tossing and turning in my asleep, entrenched in a frightful
dream of 'her' greedy ways ... it was then that in my dream a little man approached me and told me
of the ritual of the stair halls. he told me that i could banish teh sadness of my youth if i
let him construct the stairhalls and enlisted someone to brave their depths..."
"Why didn't you just tell me all of this?! Why have you been so weird and cryptic?!"
"you would of never believed me, that this little dream man could do these things!
but i accepted his deal, and when i showed up, he was in my home and the stairhalls
appeared before me ... i knew that this was my chance, to finally be rid of my sadness"
"OMGGGGGGGGG I DONT CARE OK JUST GO TO A PSICHIATRIST IM NOT
GOING IN THE STUPID HALLS!!!!! GET OUT OF HERE!!! GET OUT!!!!
OUT" i yelled and i pushed and shove my cousin toward the door
"fine ... ok ... fine ... god ... fine ... if youre sure you dont want to brave the
stairhalls ... you will be rewarded too you know ... if you complete the trials..."
i said and closed the door, and latched its latch.
"wow" said Craig, "its so gay that he didnt just tell you about
the stairhalls, and decided to prank you with a big gift box."
"Yes." I said. "Well I'm glad I at least made a friend that's you through this debacle Craig."
I looked down at the strange doll in my hands "And I guess now I have this little thing..."
"Yes." Said Craig. "I cant help but wonder about that little man in your
cousin's dream. Who was he? Why did he offer to build the stairhalls?"
"OMG I dont care I just dont care, do you want to listen to the album ;Songs About me' by
Trace Adkins. Actually I'm changing it to the 2001 album Pull My Chain by Toby Keith"
This was now what I had wanted to listen to the whole time. I had retconnded my thoughts.
"Um no I just wanna talk about me wanna talk about I wanna talk about number oh my me oh my me
my!" My heart soared as I instently recognized the reference to Toby Keith's lead single "I wanna
talk about me" from pull my chain. "Heheh!" Said Craig, "I will start up the Nintendo Switch
and get on spotify and play teh album! Lets get to work on repairing the house."
"OK" I got out the hammers and meausring tape and planks and
wood and nails and nail guns and glue ... The debacle of over and
it was gonna be a fun time of fixing up Craigs house. I wonder
how close we would become ... The End.