Montana MacInnes and the Reunion of Doom
Chapter 1: Home Again
By Douglas E. Gogerty
"Where to Pal?" asked the cab driver.
"1313 Mockingbird Lane," Hugo Kenneth Stein Jr. replied.
"Oh? You headin' to the Stein reunion?"
"Yes," H.K. responded trying to keep to himself.
"It looks like you'll have nice weather fer it," continued the cabbie.
"How was yer flight?"
"Fine," H.K. said resolving himself to having a conversation. "I sat next to an interesting character on the way in."
"Oh -- who?"
"A guy calling himself Montana MacInnes."
"Montana MacInnes the famous Zombie Hunter? What is he doin' in town?"
"He didn't say. Perhaps it was some sort of convention."
"Montana is the foremost authority on all things zombie. He has traveled the world lecturing and solving zombie problems. To think he is in our city. I hope that doesn't mean anythin'..."
"He had lots of stories. He just came back from China. From what he could gather, one of the Chinese spacecraft came back carrying some sort of virus or something. It turned an entire town into the walking dead. He went in to clean it up."
"He sure leads an excitin' life," the cab driver said as he turned onto the street where H.K. grew up.
"I don't know if I would like to face a zombie. What the...?"
"What is it?" asked the cabbie scanning the road.
"For a minute I thought I saw my grandmother. It couldn't have been her though. She has been dead for several years. My mind must playing tricks on me."
"Sometimes one blue haired lady looks like all the rest."
"I suppose you're right. Just pull into the driveway."
The cab driver pulled into the driveway and looked around. "For a family reunion there aren't many people here," he remarked.
"The actual festivities do not start until tomorrow. They're probably all over at my Uncle Frank's house."
"Oh. That'll be $16.50"
H.K. gave the cabbie a $20 and told him to keep the change. His mom's house had barely changed. For many years, it has been the same mauve color. H.K.'s Mom had it painted that color years ago despite some family member's objections. It was obvious that it was her house.
He walked up to the door and knocked. The door was open so he walked in and called out to see if anyone was home. No one answered. He looked around a bit and made his way into the kitchen. There was a bunch of cookies on the cooling rack and by them was a note.
H.K. tried to read the note, but was unsuccessful. The handwriting was atrocious and it looked like one word was cookie but spelled "kuukii". He assumed that someone made cookies and left a note indicating that he could help himself.
He sniffed the cookie and took a tentative bite. Just then a cold wrinkled hand fell upon his shoulder. A voice in a cold monotonous tone said, "Hello Butch!"
H.K. nearly jumped out of his skin, but "Bleah!" was all H.K. could say.
"Welcome home," continued the sonorous voice.
"Uncle Ben! You startled me," replied H.K. giving his uncle a hug. "I'm a grown man. Nobody calls me 'Butch' anymore. How are you?"
"Cold, tired, hungry, poor, under appreciated, unloved, unwanted, lonely, stiff ..."
"Okay, I get it."
"So did you hear about the bird that married a bell?" enquired Uncle Ben in the same monotonous tone.
"Uh oh," replied H.K.
"They had a real wing ding," finished Uncle Ben and then broke into an obnoxious laugh.
"Funny," responded H.K. without even cracking a smile. "That would probably be hilarious like your 'owl who married a goat' joke if it were like 1890. It is just that nobody uses the phrase 'wing ding' anymore."
"I've got more..."
"Save them for the party," H.K. replied quickly. "By the way, these cookies are horrible!"
"Do you know who wrote this note? It is completely illegible."
"Perhaps your mother's arthritis is acting up."
"You may be right, but that doesn't explain the terrible cookies."
"I suppose so."
"Where is everyone anyway?"
"They went to Frank's house. Your aunt and I were tired so we stayed behind to rest. I wonder where she is now..."
"Who was all here?"
"Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice & ..."
"Fine fine... Go find your wife. I'll make some calls."
"Good idea. Beulah? Beulah? Beulah..."
H.K. found the phone in the same place it had been since he had lived there. It was even the same phone. The same flip-up address book was still right next to it. He grabbed the address book and opened it to the 'S-T' section.
He spotted his name with his latest address written on whiteout. His address had changed so many times the whiteout was rather thick. Nevertheless, he was looking for Uncle Frank's number, so he continued his search.
After he located the number, he picked up the phone. There was no dial tone; the phone was dead. Like he has seen so many times in the movies, he pressed down on the button several times and said 'hello' into the receiver. There was no response.
"I wonder if Montana MacInnes knows an incantation to raise a dead phone," H.K. joked to himself as he hung up.
He chuckled for a moment and then chastised himself for making a joke as bad as Uncle Ben makes. He decided to sit on the porch for a while and watch traffic. Perhaps one of his old high school friends would see him and stop by.
H.K. sat on the old bench on the porch and relaxed. However, the neighborhood was quiet. There was no traffic. He listened closely and did not think he even heard birds chirping. There was just an eerie silence. All he could hear was Uncle Ben's monotonous voice saying "Beulah? Beulah? Beulah..."