The Skreem Jar
by Louise Dragon
A single dust covered jar sat in a corner of the attic. Scrawled on it in dried blood were two words - Skreem Jar.
Nathan hobbled to the corner; he set down his cane and reached out an arthritic hand to grasp the object. When he touched the dusty glass, that familiar feeling – like a staccato beat – began to course through his decaying old body.
A bent old man had walked into the empty, condemned homestead, but the man who walked out was taller and had spring in his step. The hand grasping the Skreem Jar was no longer a hooked talon of arthritic pain, but now a smooth, tanned, masculine hand that didn’t need to hold a cane.
As Nathan slid into the driver’s seat of his ancient stolen Saab, he tenderly placed the Skreem Jar into the V his thin, shorts clad thighs made on the car seat. He did not want to lose touch again. He needed to feel the rough bloody exterior of the jar against his skin at all times. He had to get the Jar to Claire; this was their hope, their dream, their destiny . . .
Nathan’s mind traveled backward in time as his vehicle sped into the horizon . . .
Always Claire and Nathan or Nathan and Claire – they had been friends, lovers, life partners, soul mates, and Skreemers. Skreeming had been Claire and Nathan’s salvation. While other couples battled through divorce court, had torrid love affairs, or were simply driven crazy by a corrupt society, Nathan and Claire had Skreeming. It bound them together more securely than any mere marriage license could have done.
Whose idea had it been? Nathan could not even remember, but he remembered the first Skreem adventure like it was yesterday . . .
It was shortly after they had finished college, both had obtained great jobs in the corporate business world, they had a fantastic house on the outskirts of the city, neither had ever wanted children, but they mutually agreed that something was missing from their lives. Working, making love, and mundane chores could not be all there was to life – there had to be something more.
At three o’clock in the morning, Nathan and Claire ventured out into the city streets looking to add adventure to their humdrum little lives and, oh, how they had found the adventure that dreams can made from.
Bravely walking through the seamier streets of the great city, Claire and Nathan tried several shenanigans destined to relieve boredom. Breaking windows and kicking over trashcans was fun, but it did not give them the adrenaline rush that they would later get from their first Skreem.
It happened quite by accident, that first Skreem. Nathan and Claire had been throwing chunks of granite through the brittle windows of an abandoned warehouse when they heard the first Skreem. The sound sent pinpricks of fear and excitement coursing through Nathan’s body and he quickly glanced over at Claire. She was breathing hard, her eyes the size of golf balls riveted onto his and her lips curled into a hideously attractive smile. He wanted her right then and there, but Claire had other plans.
“Come on,” she shouted climbing up onto the dumpster and disappearing into a broken window.
The Skreem had come from an old homeless man nesting in the warehouse. Claire and Nathan took turns beating the man until the Skreeming stopped, then they made love right there on the dusty floor inches from the corpse. Once spent, Claire, eyes sparkling with excitement and adrenaline, picked up a dusty empty jar from the warehouse floor.
“We need a souvenir,” she had said. “We need a Skreem Jar to help us remember and recapture this rush.”
Claire had used her finger dipped into the corpse’s cooling blood to inscribe the words across the filthy relic.
Nathan had cut off an ear lobe for the jar and both of them cackling with maniacal laughter had climbed out of the building and stumbled home.
After that night, Skreeming became their drug of choice, their religion, and their bond to each other.
There were countless more Skreems. Sometimes it was a man, sometimes a woman, a few children, dogs, cats – Claire and Nathan discovered that there were all kinds of Skreems. And always the jar came out of hiding to receive a new bloody souvenir. The city was full of Skreems. With each new hideous Skreem came a new rush. The more bizarre and shocking the Skreem, the better the rush . . . Until . . .
The night of the pregnant woman -- Nathan had wanted to hear the Skreem of a pregnant woman, Claire thought that she would sound like any other woman, but neither were prepared for the appeal of that Skreem. They had become so caught up in the moment that they did not notice the eerie silence that pervaded before the arrival of the police.
Fifty Years to Life had been the sentence for each of them . . . Claire -- hustled off to some woman’s prison upstate and Nathan landed in Attica. Separated, they became each like half a person – without the other in close proximity neither had developed the personalities or life experiences to do little more than exist among the prison populations and send longing letters back and forth reminiscing about the “good” times of their youth.
Recently, due to advanced age, Nathan had been released to a city nursing home to spend the remainder of his geriatric life. Yesterday he had gotten a letter from Claire – also released to spend her golden years in an upstate rehab center for the terminally ill and infirm.
The Skreem Jar throbbed hotly against his leg sending that familiar adrenaline rushing and pulsing through his old veins.
Nathan knew that he could reach Claire by dark tonight. The ultimate Skreem was again within reach!
Note from the Author: The first paragraph of this story is courtesy of #storystarters, a Twitter Application.
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