Fred's Shed
Short Stories Writing

Fred’s Shed

Fred, my neighbor, has a talent for fixing stuff. Just about anything, from old fridges to iPads. If you’ve got something that’s busted, all you need do bring it along to that big old wooden shed at the back of his plot, Fred will get busy. The results don’t always look how the maker intended, but he’ll get it working again, every time.

Often I visit with Fred of an evening. If the weather’s nice, we sit on the porch. If not, we wander inside.

The interior of Fred’s shed is a sight to behold, and along with tools, tins, and the half-used guts of a hundred different gadgets, there are also those devices Fred has built for what he calls his ‘experiments’. They go a little beyond his usual repairs.

For instance, last month, as a favor to Widow Johnson at number 17, he reanimated her husband, Terry. It caused something of a stir at first, but we put a picket fence to stop him wandering, and he’s safe enough without his teeth. His wife even trained him to mow the lawn. It seems to suit his shambling gait, and how he likes his arms up at waist height.

She says she’s gotten used to the smell too, though she doesn’t let him in the house.

Anyway, that particular night we were inside. Me sat near the door on a kitchen stool, Fred over by his workbench. He was adjusting a dial on this huge old TV. Cables sprouted out all over. A good number ran to a sprung bed frame, resting across the back. The rest were wired to a kitchen mixer. A gear wheel had replaced the paddle, driving a bicycle chain that disappeared back inside the contraption.

“Any sign of Mary?” I asked. Fred’s wife had been missing since Tuesday. A time vortex he’d been tinkering with had escaped its containment field and rampaged across the flower border where she was weeding.

“Nope,” said Fred.

“Aren’t you worried?”

He shrugged. “I left a change of clothing and some personal hygiene products over by what’s left of the petunias. There was a thank-you note this morning, so I reckon she’s OK.” He turned towards me. “Pass me that bottle on your left, would you. The one with ‘Trans-dimensional Treacle’ on the label.”

I did as asked. Fred unscrewed the cap, placed a plastic funnel in the top of the TV, and poured what looked like green motor oil inside. It spread slowly, creating a thin membrane across the inner surface of the screen.

A few seconds later an image appeared. I saw what remained of a city. There was utter devastation. Most of the buildings were no more than rubble. Crushed vehicles and broken bodies lay everywhere.

Somehow I knew the landscape was alien.

“Where the hell is that?” I asked, moving for closer look.

“Somewhere on the left spiral arm, I think,” Fred replied. “I’ve been watching for a week. It’s a different city every night, but the same catastrophic result. From what I can see, it’s the work of a single, incredibly powerful individual.”

“It’s like you can smell the carnage.” I said.

“Actually, you can. The treacle doesn’t just transmit images, it creates a wormhole. There’s a physical connection.”

Suddenly a face filled the screen. Reptilian, with blazing red eyes that seemed to stare across the vast intergalactic distance right at me. A forked tongue flicked out from behind jagged teeth. I leaped back, afraid it might touch me.

“Hello puny human!” the creature roared. “So that’s where you hide! Use what little time you have left wisely for I, the mighty Gorkluppy, will soon bring about your destruction!”

I don’t know whether it was the name, or the B-movie-monster rant, but the tension was broken. I covered my mouth with my hand, but failed to muffle a snigger. “Gorkluppy?” I said, turning to Fred. “Are you winding me up?”

“Sssh!” Fred warned. I frowned, puzzled. “Wormhole, remember. It’s not impossible for that… thing… to use it as a conduit to attack the earth!”

“Can’t you turn it off?”

“Not until half-past-eleven when the transit of Mercury interrupts the signal.”

I looked at my watch. It was a quarter after nine.

At that moment the screen exploded in a hail of tiny glass fragments. Smoke poured from the wreckage, and the monster appeared. The air around it crackled as flashes of lightening erupted from its scaly hide.

I looked at Fred. Fred looked at me. We looked down at the mighty Gorkluppy, and he back up at us.

He was maybe two feet tall.

Thinking fast, I snatched a potato sack from a rack behind me and threw it over him. Fred mimed tipping it upside down. As I did so, he secured the opening with twine. There was some struggling, and what was probably swearing, but it stopped as soon as Fred cuffed it around the head a couple times.

“What are we gonna do now?” I asked, holding our alien captive aloft.

Fred rubbed his chin. “Well,” he said, “we definitely need to protect the galaxy from the threat this creature poses.”

I looked at the sack. “I think we have it contained.”

“But what if it escapes?” he asked. “We’ve seen what it’s capable of on planets where the inhabitants are less… statuesque than us.”

He had a point.

Fred beckoned me outside. He took the sack from me and hanged it on a nail that stuck out from the frame of the porch. He went back inside, reappearing with a couple of baseball bats.

The screaming stopped after three of four hits. We went on swinging until fluids began soaking through the material. Fred fetched an empty tin so the drips wouldn’t stain the steps.

Photo by Alexander Shustov on Unsplash

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