Friday, August 9, 2013

Butter Roll's Reign of Terror (Short Story)

"All these creaks. All these damn creaks," said Bruce. "Makes getting past him a horror."

butter roll's reign of terrorBruce knew the first stair from the top was off-limits. A rookie mistake to put even the pressure of a single digit on it. That step had a voice. It must be destined for a career in opera -- no, conservative cable TV punditry -- in its next life.

But first there was the minefield in the main hall, just feet away from where he sleeps. Oh so many creaks there. Bruce could imagine the forest this wood came from, spookily groaning on an extra windy day.

Some of the minefield's creaks he had memorized, thanks to months of practice. As Butter Roll, the one who could unleash his hegemonic stronghold with just one wail, lay in slumber, Bruce played roulette with his freedom in each placement of each foot.

Just as he was about to test the next slat, an explosive chortle came blustering out of Butter Roll's mouth and nose. Frozen, balanced on one bended and sturdy leg like a Thai Chi master, Bruce thought better of placing that foot down, post-chortle, for every sneaker and tip-toer from far and wide knew that the post-chortle time was the most vulnerable time, the time when house masters like Butter Roll here were closest to breaking free of the chains of their slumbers.

After a sufficient amount of time had passed, the exact amount was hard to tell due to the temporal masks of adrenaline and focus, Bruce continued. He tested the boards, applying just thirty percent pressure each time with the balls of his athletic socked feet.

A creak. No, it was more like a squeak -- a timber whimper.

Delusions filled Bruce's head.

"Have these malformed slabs of wood, no doubt pulled from second rate soil, dry and crumbly stuff, sworn allegiance to Lord Butter Roll? Did he trick them into doing his bidding?"

Bruce stopped to take a breath, a long, complete one, the kind that relieves shaking appendages and releases small amounts of sanity in the form of endorphins.

"Just keep moving," he thinks. "The prize is getting nearer."

Somehow, some way, after prudently testing each step, after placing acute awareness on each movement, Bruce was able to clear the minefield unscathed. The beast that was Buttter Roll was breathing steadily, undisturbed, as was the plan.

The final move, if Bruce were to escape and crack open his silver treasure, was to open the door.

"The goddamn door," thought Bruce.

When fully closed, not even a master cat burglar, not even the Pink Panther himself, could open it quietly enough to escape Butter Roll's terror, his usurping of silence.

"Thank the spirits it was left slightly ajar," thought Bruce.

Even when ajar, this portal to bliss could be tricky. Every move on this slow road to freedom had to be planned out, all risks weighed, and the opening of the door was no exception.

Bruce wrapped his fingers around the scratched brass handle. He pulled with the slightest of force.


A look in his periphery caught a stirring Butter Roll, head shifting violently to one side. A powerful chortle erupted, but he remained at rest.

"Give it a minute and try again," reassured Bruce.

What came next was brazen and reckless, but Bruce's patience was running out. At this brutal pace, Butter Roll might wake up on his own and the taste of the treasure might never be known.

With that horrible notion Bruce applied even greater force to the door, enough to open it a foot, maybe less, but enough to slide through, anyways, if this were to work.


Now a whimper, a snort, and a violent stir -- threatening to ruin the entire operation -- came from behind Bruce. Unable to look, sure he had failed, Bruce stood with this head hung low, miserably waiting for the inevitable beckoning of the angry Lord rising out of his slumber. But it never came.

A deep breath came from the Master.

Followed by another.

Steady sleep resumed and Bruce was glowing, for the next step was onto creak-proof carpeted stars, save for that first step he needed to step over, the last obstacle, which he cleared without a problem, and the spoils of the mission were in sight. They lay nested together behind cardboard and in the dark artificial cold, waiting for the door to open and for the light to turn on, to serve their purpose of running through Bruce's body, pleasing him numbly -- appeasing him.

Bruce cracked open the first and there was still no cry from the Lord.

"Success," Bruce whispered to himself. He admired the cold metallic cylinder in his hand and appreciated its simple purpose. Holding it up in reverence and revelry he toasted the heavens and smiled wearily, but smiled nonetheless.

Just as the aluminum treasure was about to rest against Bruce's gloating lips, to reward him, there was a shadow in the window, an immediate threat to this peacetime. Then came a violent bang on the door.


"Delivery!" shouted a man dressed in a green jumpsuit.

"Shit," said Bruce. "That's all she wrote."

And the cry filled every corner of the house.

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