By Jack Amos
Sam Vaults was confused. Very much so. His wife was last seen in Tennisville in late July, but
according to a sand hobo that he had found among the ruins, Tennisville had been erased from
existence by a raging inferno seven years ago.
Sam stared at the hobo, with his beanie and foil safety blanket, and then he asked a very
“Who the hell are you?”
The old man replied.
“Father Crispy, my son.”
Simply put, this did not help Sam’s confusion. This man that was held before him, decrepit and
dirty, looking like a roll of tin foil, possessed not even the slightest similarity the picture of Father
Crispy that Sam had back in the beige folder on the passenger seat of his car.
Sam just looked at the man, who nodded downwards. Sam followed his gaze, and he saw
something that had not been there only a moment before. There, swirling in the ground, was a
hole in the sand.
It was glowing, a crisp, heavenly sheen that spoke of deep seas and high, clear skies. Exclaiming
in surprise, Sam bent down and peered deeper into the hole. His bucket hat fell off and was
sucked in, spinning downwards. Sam followed It's descent with dismay, following it with wide
eyes as it fell farther and farther towards the bottom until it faded into what Sam realized was an
image, slowly growing larger.
He squinted, and the image bobbed up the surface, playing like a VHS tape, scratchy but running.
There, only a few feet away from his face, but an eternity away through whatever sand hole time
warp he was peering into, was the one and only Sally Vaults. She was driving, and singing. She
was wearing the same summer dress that she wore in the polaroid picture. She was in a hotel,
playing cards, yelling at people, laughing. She was running, sprinting out of “The Fun Times Inn”
with a large plastic wrapped package under her arm, her face a picture of pure joy and excitement.
She was outside a gas station, swearing and kicking at a broken down convertible with a smoking
hood. She was in a pick up truck with the same Father Crispy from Sam’s picture, laughing at
some unspoken joke.
She was fingering her wedding ring, twisting it,
She was in Tennisville, in the bar, when the creature came into the town. It arrived with a
nymphomaniac and a family of catholic orange farmers. It threatened them and told lies, it fed the
townsfolk pills, and ruthlessly slaughtered those that refused to eat. The torches, the flames, the
incineration. Sam watched with ebbing tears as his wife, face grim as bodies piled up around her,
reluctantly lifted a pill to her fine lips, and swallowed. He watched, dismay growing, as her face
emptied of emotion, and was replaced by a churning void of bliss. He cried out as she followed
the creature back to the valley, out of the blazing inferno that had displaced Tennisville, and he
screamed when she forced others to do the same. He sobbed when she forced the preacher to
swallow the little pill, and when she embraced the vile, purple, spindly leg monster that led them
He watched, helpless as she shed her clothes and made love to hundreds, under the spotlight sun
in the canyon, and he screamed in horror, as she, along with two hundred other followers, were
torn apart by their own hands, and lay bleeding to death on the orange valley floor.
When it was over, the hole slowed down and the image erupted in a show of flames, and burnt
down only to vanish. Sam was kneeled over the hole, distraught.
He had just watched the brainwashing and murder of his wife, at the hands of a vile creation not
of this world.
It certainly wouldn’t make him feel good.
Sam turned to look Father Crispy in the face, and asked him what it was, that he had just bore
witness too. The Father sighed, and stated in a matter of fact tone, that it had happened, what was
done was done. The creature had arrived on route 917, wrought dismay and heartbreak, plague
and death, and then it had left, departing in a depraved ritual of flesh and murder.
Sam protested, with acid tears, that his wife hadn’t left Boston until July. The hole in the sand
couldn't have shown what had transpired over half a decade ago.
And in any other case, Sam would have been absolute right, but that summer Sam Vaults had
donned his bucket hat and hit the road, he had confronted the desert. A fickle mistress that looked
at the rule book and burnt it, laughing as she did so. The desert doesn't abide to the ways of the
normal world, It's winters bring death, It's summers life born of artifice, It's clear skies bend the
rules of space, and It's storms the rules of time. A hole, a gap in time had opened up on route 917
that one fateful day in July, Sally Vaults had driven into it, and found herself caught in a horror
that erupted from It's womb seven years earlier. She had been pushed out of the present and into
the past, where she perished naked and disgraced, on a canyon floor sandwiched by rock walls
and blue sky.
It was a tragedy that Father Crispy accepted but did not deny. He looked on with a quiet sympathy
as Sam stood up, turned around, and walked slowly back to his car. He sat inside it for a moment,
head rested on the rubber steering wheel, before sitting upright, resurrecting the vehicle from It's
temporary slumber, and drove onto the highway.
He drove off, away from the wreckage of Tennisville, away from the aged and warped body of
Father Crispy, and away from the hole in the sand.
He was going home, without his wife, back along the violently irrational and impossibly straight
asphalt of route 917.
He still had a fall semester to teach.
While Sam Vaults had learned about the horrific fate of his wife, 857 and 328 had contacted
Julius Maneater, located him, and were preparing to use the Thaumetric Splicing Machine to link
him with the fugitive and serial exhibitionist, not to mention saviour of the nation, Mr.America.
The Thaumetric Splicing Machine worked liked this:
Using only the immediate location of one of the subjects and a shred of DNA from the other, if
assembled and operated correctly, the TSM could switch large portions of conscience.
Simply put, the Thaumetric Splicing Machine would put a large portion of Mr.Maneaters
conscience in Mr.America’s head, and swap it with a large portion of Mr.America conscience.
Using these spliced minds, Julius Maneater would then be able to locate, hunt down and
eventually terminate the failed Pharmaceutical experiment Thomas Jones.
The three aliens were set up dead square in the middle of Route 917, and were just about to go
through with the procedure, when a beat up VW bug came bowling out of the darkness, and
ruined absolutely everything.
END OF PART FOUR.