Route 917: The Hole In the Sand - Part four

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

appropriate question.

“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,

Loving 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.


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