#34 Backward Forward

Lady in a time tunnel for #34 Backward Forward

Private Detective Lana Dandro was sitting in her shitty office in the middle of nowhere wondering if that squirrel was ever going to stop tapping on the roof. The brownie she ate earlier was coming on strong and she really wanted that squirrel to shut the fuck up. She had spent the whole night neck-deep in crazy and needed to unwind. Which is what her intestines were also doing thanks to a love of risky street food and 24-hour all-you-can-eat buffets. She began to wonder what kind of paddle would be required for a penguin to be able to row a canoe, not that penguins normally need canoes, but to escape a dangerous aquatic predator…maybe. There is a television in the corner playing the news. 2018 was proving to be a hell of a year. There has been another military jet crash, 3rd one in a month, the pilot managed to eject this time narrowly avoiding the horrendous fireball that scorched the land. Talk about lucky. She hadn’t been so lucky tonight, nope, the brownie wasn’t too bad but everything had gone to shit.

A woman had hired Lana recently to follow her husband who was acting strangely. The woman really didn’t want to get into details for some reason, but you could tell whatever was happening bothered her. She just wanted to know where he was going at night. Lana had a bad feeling about the job but took it anyway because she needed the money. She had started to regret that. Following that woman’s husband around at night was like entering a bizarre maze of profound weirdness. Last night he spent three hours sitting cross-legged at a railroad crossing while smoking joints and eating donuts. He kept checking his watch like he was waiting for something and the clothes he had on were inside out. Eventually, and quite unexplainably, the railroad crossing lit up and went through its motions but a train never appeared. After that, he just wandered off. What kind of fucking job is this anyway?

A few days ago he was on their roof shouting that he “just wanted to go home” at what looked like a hole in the sky. She could have sworn there was a hole in the sky but between insomnia and the reefer, she couldn’t be sure. Should would have taken a picture of it but her phone was behaving strangely. Which is exactly what all the other electronic devices had been doing for the last two days. It felt like technical problems were following her around. The answering machine is a complete horror show filled with otherworldly sounding messages being broadcast from some distant hellscape. Some of the messages made her hair stand on end and none of them sounded like they were created by humans. Three people this week had touched their noses and then pointed at her in what seemed like some sort of odd greeting. Each one of those people was especially peculiar.

She had managed to sleep a little bit yesterday but was awakened by the strangest noise. A deep humming with an odd warble, but she couldn’t make herself get up to see what it was, her body wouldn’t move. Everything was starting to smear together and she knew this was the wrong time to crash and burn. She needed to make some sense of what’s been going on, but how do you make sense of this much crazy? And what was she going to tell this man’s wife? That her husband is by far the strangest person Lana has ever investigated. Should she tell her about the weird things that started happening to Lana after she began following him? She was beginning to wonder if the wife’s answering machine had weird messages on it too.

The husband had spent quite a few nights drinking coffee in an old 24-hour diner in the next town over called Mabel’s. Now that she thought about it, there were some peculiar people there as well. She was unable to find a listing for Mabel’s Diner in the phone book or on the internet. It’s like the place didn’t exist but she watched him sit next to those big neon-lit windows drinking coffee at all hours of the night. There weren’t many people around most nights and the ones that were around seemed pretty fucking weird. She had watched one very tall thin gentleman eat 37 consecutive slices of blueberry pie, each with a dash of hot sauce, after that she had lost count. It had made Lana feel like she was watching some kind of movie over and over again. The whole thing seemed impossible. Everything was stuck in backward forward mode.

Last week the man had been watching an empty field near that old railroad crossing when a large shadow came out of the trees. She didn’t get a good look at it given the distance, but it was huge, twice the size of a man. How would he know that was out there and find it so easily? The only pattern she could find was that every place the man went strange things happened. Kind of things that aren’t supposed to happen. The other night she had seen a small white orb about the size of a softball darting in and out of the hedges around the couple’s house before disappearing inside through one of the windows. At times she could see it traveling through the inside of the house. Lana had been gripped with a horrible feeling of fear and found herself immobilized by it. What had she stumbled into, or what had stumbled into to her? She remembered the repeating number sequences she started seeing right before all of this started happening.

Lana had wondered for a few days if it was some kind of message from the universe, or that she had lost her mind somehow. When did all of this really start? How far back could it go? She couldn’t stop thinking about all of the strange things she’d seen. It haunted her in a way and it certainly wasn’t helping her sleeping problem. There was still some scotch in the bottom drawer, maybe that would help her sleep, as she poured herself a drink there was a knock at the door. Not on the glass, on the wood below, every hair on her body now felt like it was standing up. The television flickered for a moment and then went right back to predicting doomsday. Lana wasn’t sure she wanted to answer it. Whatever was out there was probably something crazy. Again a quick succession of knocks. Reality seemed like it was standing still but she felt herself getting up anyway. To face whatever is behind that door.

It took a long time to turn the door handle. The air felt like quicksand and there was a cold chill coming through the door. Her hand fumbled with the icy knob and she could hear her own pulse racing. Just need to calm down and stop being paranoid she told herself. This case and the brownie were starting to get to her, that’s all. As the door swung open a cold gust of air blew past her and she felt an uncontrollable feeling of fear spread through her. Off in the distance, she could hear a high-pitched whistling sound, but she couldn’t tell where it was coming from. There was nobody outside the door and she couldn’t understand the terrified feeling that had just come over her. Once she stopped shaking enough to close the door, Lana sat down and poured more scotch into the glass and prayed for sleep.

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