"The Curse Upon the Earth." Part 1
The smell...so harsh and acidic, is what brings me to. I'm on my back, lying prostrate on a pile of assorted garbage. I can hear far-off noises, mechanical noises like huge machines chugging along, but the sound is distorted, like it's coming through from a tub of water.
My eyes fly open and I'm immediately blinded by the sun beating down on my face. Groaning, I bring up my right hand to block out the glare. The effort brings a shuddering pain shooting through my entire body, setting every nerve ending alight. Stars dance in my eyes and a sudden wave of nausea washes over me,but my empty depressed belly tells me that i have nothing left to haul up.
Eyes closed, I take two deep breaths. A painful exercise on its own. The mechanical whirring of machines is getting clearer now, like a fog is gradually lifting. I turn my head to the sound and not too far off in the distance, I see it.
The source of the noise is a concrete mixer, and standing around it, in hard hats and reflective jackets is a group of roughly six men in a loose semi-circle.Next to them is a large drum and a black viscous liquid drips from the sides, steaming -- tar. That explains the smell.
All their backs are turned away from me. Three of the men are looking up at the revolving concrete mixer as two of their companions are engaged in an animated discussion. The last man, a short rotund man with beefy arms and what appears to be all-chin under that hard-hat is consulting a clipboard clutched in one beefy hand.
Despite being less than 100 yards away, none of the men appear to notice my presence. I open my mouth to call out and produce a tinny but horrible and raspy sound, drowned out by the whirring of the equipment. My throat burns and feels like I have been gurgling with glass shards.
I lick my cracked lips and roll over onto my belly, squeezing my eyes hard and bracing against the wave of pain that suddenly washes over me. I bring up my arms, push myself up onto my elbows and proceed to crawl on my stomach. Every movement sending red-hot daggers of pin to every nerve-ending in my bruised and battered body.
"Hey! What the- !" Clipboard-guy shouts. He was standing closest to me, thus furthest from the drone of the machine and must have heard my body shuffling on the ground.
Hey! C'mere! Look at this!" He calls out to his comrades. Most turn with a detached interest, mild curiosity registering. But all those faces turn to shock when they catch me lying there, looking up with bloodshot eyes.
"What--" Clipboard-man starts, "What are you?" I blink, did he just ask what I was?
"That's clearly a prop." A thickset man in a bushy beard, mustache and burly arms states. Removing his hard-hat and wiping his brow, he squats down, peering intently at my face. "A very freaky prop." He continues.
Two of the men join the squatting burly man on the ground. All peering at my face, disbelief, awe and disgust plastered on their faces. From behind them, clipboard-man exclaims, "I can see right through!" and moves closer. Crouching behind the burly man, as if in an attempt to keep him between me and himself.
The other two men just stand there, transfixed, mouths agape, just...staring.
"What-" I start, the strain to utter that one word bringing stars dancing back into my eyes.
"Okay, joke's over." Clipboard-man speaks up. The authority injected in his voice counter-poised by the fact that he is clearly hiding behind burly-man. "You've had your fun, now leave our site!" He continues.
Burly-man is still squatting, his eyes never leaving my face. His brow wrinkles in concentration. Finally he sighs, "Okay, the dried-up blood I understand." He says, "You can buy fake blood almost anywhere during this Halloween Season. But that...how did you do that?" He continues, pointing with one large index finger at my forehead.
I take a deep breath, a raspy sound echoing in my chest, brace for the inevitable pain and ask, "What--?"
Clipboard-man grunts, but the burly man chuckles heartily and looks around, "Staying in character eh?" He starts, "Okay but how did you make that hole in your head look so real?"