“Who… Who are you?” Gord stammered. Even though he already knew the answer.
Standing before him in a pristine dress with long black hair covering her face was the woman in white from his memory. She tilted her head in response to his question—causing strands of hair to fall silently to the side—revealing the dried out gray skin of a corpse. Broken brown teeth peeked through her paper-thin lips which gave the appearance of a permanent grin plastered across her face. But what terrified Gord wasn’t what he could see. It was what remained shrouded in darkness. It was those black, soulless eyes that he knew were staring through him. Just like all those years ago. But this time he wouldn’t be able to evade her. This time he had nowhere to run to.
“Please,” he pleaded, but his throat was dry and he struggled to speak. “Don’t hurt me.”
The woman stepped forward. Her movements were stiff and jerky; just as he remembered them. Every joint popped and cracked from the effort. Gord pressed his back against the wall as she closed the distance, but he was too scared to run. The semi-sweet scent of decay filled the air as she reached for him with her boney hand. Her rotted face was only a few feet away from his. Gord squeezed his eyes shut.
An eternity went by while he stayed crouched against the wall—waiting with dread for the spectre to take him. Take him where, he did not know. But he felt it deep within his bones that she would take him. That she would snatch his soul and leave the hollowed out husk of his body behind. But as her sharp, icy fingers sank into his shoulder, and the blood drained from his face, an unexpected reserve kicked in. Something ignited inside of Gord. A fire he never before experienced. It was… anger.
“No!” Gord shouted as he thrust both hands out, shoving the woman hard with a snapping of her bony sternum.
Without looking at what he’d done, Gord turned and hurried through the dark locker room. The only thing he could make out was the artificial red glow of an exit sign shining like a beacon in the night. Thinking the woman was somehow in pursuit, Gord slammed his shoulder into the exit door and exploded to the other side. He was back on the factory floor. Only, everything was different.
“Sweet Hickory Joe.”
Gord stood in astonishment as the great machines clanked and banged into each other under a magnificent blue glow. They were alive! They were alive and marching around—albeit with much difficulty—and all glowed with that eerie blue hue.
I gotta get out of here, Gord thought as he searched frantically for an escape. Then he spotted something familiar close by; the safe yellow lines of Gord’s spot. And on the other side of Gord’s spot was the door to the breakroom which had the closest exit to the parking lot. If he could only make it before the smashing of the metal monsters reached him.
“Oh, momma never knew.”
His leg muscles cramped under the sudden burst of acceleration as he pumped them with everything he had. But right as he neared the yellow lines, a hefty hunk of meat blindsided him—sending him hurtling toward the powerful crunching of the machines.
Gord managed to catch himself before crashing to the unforgiving concrete. When he looked up, looming over him, stood something far more unfathomable than the living machines. It was a creature unlike any he’d ever seen before.
Letting out a long, hot hiss, the giant blue cat arched its enormous back and prepared its razor claws. Gord recognized it as the tomcat he saw walking around earlier. Only it now had somehow gotten turned into a giant, deformed monstrosity. Through its thick blue fur, he could make out the lumpy purple flesh hiding underneath—with pulsating pustules ready to bursts at any moment.
The large cat let out a deep, guttural growl, letting it be known that it would kill if Gord made a move. Closing in behind him the metallic stomping of the machines were ready to turn him into a pulpy mass of mangled flesh. He was trapped.
All the energy left his body and Gord sunk to his knees. He never before felt despair, so he was ill-equipped to handle it. If there was a way out of the situation, his simple mind wasn’t capable of coming up with it. The only thing he could think to do now was curl up on the ground and reminisce on happier times.
The image of a woman in white came to him in vague flickers. It was slow at first, but the crashing of the machines and growling of the cat eventually faded away and Gord found himself standing in a serene clearing in the woods. Rays of warm sunshine poked through the nearby branches and lit up the vibrant green grass around him.
The woman was dancing in the clearing, basking in the sunshine. Gord looked down at his mighty hands and was startled to see that they were much smaller. They were the hands of a young child.
“Mommy, is that you?” Gord spoke in a soft, innocent voice.
The woman stopped mid-movement, frozen in an awkward position. Her chestnut hair swayed across her face and sparkled with white streaks from the sun. Gord walked toward her without hesitation. His short legs struggled through the tall weeds but he managed to reach her. He tugged on her white dress but she didn’t move. It was as if she were locked in place.
“What’s wrong, mommy?”
She raised her right hand ever so slightly. “Gordy,” she whispered. Then she reached for his. “Dance with me.”
He wasn’t sure what to do. His mother had never acted in such a way before and it frightened him. But before he had a chance to say another word, she grasped his small hand and pulled him in close, hugging him to her warm body.
“I love you Gordon.”
He looked up at her. Through the spaces between her hair, he could see that she was smiling, yet tears filled her deep blue eyes.
“I love you, too, mommy.”
Then the sun dropped. All went dark. And it was just little Gordy Stimpson and his mother, holding each other in the cold, black woods.