Maxwell by Aramis Zepeda

Looking out his window, the possibility that there had been a storm last night popped into Maxwell’s mind. It definitely looked like there had been a storm while he slept. Why else would his front yard be in such an astoundingly terrible state? Maxwell leaned sideways and peered through his window into his neighbor’s yard. Their mailbox was lying on the ground, pointing toward their crushed and uprooted flower beds. A few lawn gnomes lay sprawled messily across the lawn, and it looked like their flamingo had been subject to a severely botched knee surgery. Maxwell winced, and decided there had definitely been quite a storm overnight. He glanced across a few other yards- torn down fences, reverse yardwork, a deformed bicycle- it even looked like somebody had crashed their car against a tree way over there. Silently hoping whoever had been in that car was safe and sound, he rubbed his eyes one last time, and made his way downstairs.

Maxwell lived alone, and barely ever had any company. He had a strong sense to keep everything in his living space clean and organized, and anything less than that would cause him a generous amount of discomfort. Additionally, to Maxwell, the term ‘living space’ would be limited uniquely to the indoors. There was no appeal in the outdoors, as it was covered in dirt and grime and disease-ridden insects and just a plethora of no thank yous. Indoors, vacuuming, scrubbing, shining, organizing, dusting, painting and repainting were all very necessary, but outside? You can’t dust the beach with a broom, now can you? For all he cared, the gnome-happy Hendersons next door could keep his yard.  Because of all this, Maxwell took no care in travelling out to his lawn to see what broken plant limbs needed mending, as the Hendersons no doubt would when they arose in a half hour or so. The neighborhood’s gardeners would visit in a couple of days and just lop off anything that didn’t look beautiful anyway.

Upon arriving downstairs, Maxwell travelled to the kitchen and into a cupboard, sliding out his favorite red mug and setting it on the counter. He took out a silver tea pot, smiled at his reflection on the pot, filled it with water, and set it to boil on the stove, then swiveling around to look through the tea bags in the elaborately etched box on the counter, but abruptly freezing when he heard a scratching sound come from the living room. In confusion, he turned and deliberately made his way to the edge of the kitchen, and peered into the living room. Everything was intact. But the sound was still present, scratching against something again and again, incessantly. It appeared to be coming from a lonely wooden trunk Maxwell had placed off against the wall. Why exactly was that trunk there? Maxwell struggled for a moment to remember why, but couldn’t remember what exactly it was for. For a moment, he thought about the lawn gnomes from the Hendersons’ yard, and saw a pocket cavern lying within the rectangular constraints of the trunk. Glimmering gemstones lined the walls of the cavern, and the Hendersons’ lawn gnomes used tiny pickaxes to dig out the gemstones from the dull rock around them. The tiny pickaxes were repeatedly flung and grinded against the cavern walls, and the result was the incessant scratching sound that kept emanating from the trunk.

He took one more step toward the trunk, and carefully lifted up its’ lid, in order to observe the contents. Rather than a miniature mine populated by lawn gnomes, a hairy creature with multiple long limbs appeared to have made its’ nest inside Maxwell’s trunk. Maxwell jumped back in a mixture of fear and disgust, as the box was now full of yellowish dirt, and a smell like horrible events had taken place inside of it slapped Maxwell across the face. The scratching stopped after the lid came crashing back down on the trunk. Maxwell stood still for a moment staring at the trunk as if it were a corpse, before the creature appeared to make its’ way out of the box through a square opening on the side of the trunk, that Maxwell had somehow failed to notice. The creature crept fearfully onto the living room, and cautiously turned to look at Maxwell. For a few moments, they both looked at each other silently, before the creature meowed uneasily, and edged away from Maxwell, tail down, unsure of what had caused Maxwell to slam the lid on its’ trunk.

With wide eyes, Maxwell stared at it silently as it trotted up the stairs and out of sight, and consequently he ran across the living room and ripped his phone from its’ charger, and called animal control. After a minute of impatiently listening to smooth jazz, a representative answered his call.

“Hello this is Treetek Wildlife Animal Removal, my name is Mabel, how can I be of assistance?”

“A beast- some sort of ravenous quadruped got into my house- I don’t know how I’m still alive, please, my address is 14443 Manhouse Lane, Davie, in Florida, come as quickly as possible!”

“Right away sir.”

“Thank you. Thank you Mabel.”

“Of course. Thank you for choosing Treetek.”

The call ended and Maxwell pocketed his phone and cautiously peered up the stairs. Once he made sure the creature wasn’t waiting to pounce, he took the coffee table from the living room, and set it against the stairs, followed by several chairs and the dish cabinet, to prevent the creature from coming back downstairs. A high pitched scream suddenly erupted from the kitchen, at which Maxwell rapidly abandoned his current task and darted out the front door and onto the lawn in pajamas and robe, screaming for help.

Coincidentally, a police car appeared to be parked on the street next to the Hendersons’, so Maxwell darted toward it and began to bang on the windows- (“Help! Help! It’s trying to kill me!”)- only to be stopped by the policemen who appeared behind him. After a moment and an explanation through tears, the two policemen pulled out their guns and sprinted toward Maxwell’s house. When they disappeared inside, Maxwell noticed Mr. and Mrs. Henderson standing on their balcony staring at Maxwell with resentful expressions. He looked back in confusion, before looking around at the destroyed flower beds and the facedown gnomes, and realizing that tire marks were imprinted throughout the Henderson’s yard, leading all the way to the red car that had crashed against a tree a few yards down.

A blue car sped up the street and stopped in front of Maxwell’s house. A young lady that Maxwell would have noted to be beautiful if she wasn’t wearing an expression of utmost worry burst out of the car and ran out to Maxwell. He had no idea who she was, but she went up to him and embraced him as if they were the closest of friends.

“Are you alright? I’m sorry I didn’t come home sooner, the flight got delayed three times! Mrs. Henderson called me and told me you were in an accident! What happened? Are you alright?”

Maxwell stared back at her, stupefied.

“Maxwell? Are you alright? Can you hear me? Hello?”

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