Monday, October 22, 2012

Kyra's Spooky Shack

I've always been uncomfortable in the dark. The quiet of night allows the mind to wander turning innocent noises into sinister sounds. For years, my wife has teased me when I turned on the light in every room leaving a trail in the darkness leading directly to me. Even now, in a house I am very familiar in I flip on the switch when I enter a dark room...even if it is just to pass through.

Recently, I sat comfortably in my den reading the young adult novel, Last Emerald, to my youngest daughter, Kyra. Outside, it was fall in Michigan and an unseasonable storm began to roll in. It had grown dark, but the flashes of lightning illuminated the sky. Rain began falling against our den window. Kyra looked at me with concern.

"Daddy, is it a bad storm?" She had always been afraid of big storms like most young children.

I smiled back at her little body huddled under the crook of my arm as we sat together. "We'll be fine," I calmly replied.

I had barely finished my short reply when a bright blue flash exploded into the room, followed by the loudest boom of thunder I had ever heard. It shook the house. Kyra screamed. I jumped. The power went out, and so we sat in darkness.

Next, I found myself standing at the basement door, I hesitated to open it, but knew I had to. The power box was in the basement, and I hoped that the circuit breaker had been tripped. Kyra was wrapped around my waist like a belt, trembling. Taking a deep breath, I reached for the door handle, grabbing it hesitantly.

What was I afraid of? Apparently, I believed that some hideous monster would be beyond this door that I had opened without incident for years. Its funny how our mind works. The cold door handle chilled my hand to the bone. I turned it. The door creaked so loudly that Kyra wrapped herself even tighter around my waist. A chill ran through my entire body...she must have felt it too.

I slowly descended the dark, carpeted stairwell, gripping the handrail firmly. My feet attempted to make no sound as though trying not to awaken the monsters below. At the bottom, the staircase turned to the right. Before me was a shadowy room. Flashes of lightning trickled in through the glass block windows, two of them, giving the room some depth, yet it was still difficult to see. Reaching for the wall, I fumbled around trying to remember exactly where the desk was positioned. I apparently didn't remember, because I crashed into it. Stumbling backward I slipped and fell to the hard cement floor covered only by a thin rough carpet. Amazingly, Kyra remained tightly secured to my right leg.

"Kyra, are you okay?" I said as my heart attempted to leap from my chest. Her tiny eyes were all that I could make out in the darkness. She didn't respond verbally, but I could see her eyes bobbing like a cheaply animated cartoon. Placing my hand on the ground to push myself up, I felt a slippery, warm liquid squish between my fingers. A shiver leapt through my spine as I yanked my hand away.

What is that? I thought. A large area of the ground shimmered from the moon light. It was blood red. What the hell is down here! I screamed in my head. I quickly grabbed Kyra and wrentched her free from my leg. Gripping her tightly, I was now on my feet and backing away from the bloody puddle.

Another flash of lightning dashed through the windows. I gasped as I noticed a pair of hollow eyes against a silhouetted figure between two poles in the center of the room. Those eyes just gazed right through me, white with no pupils. I jumped back and slipped in the blood stain, again falling to the floor. Kyra landed unharmed on my chest, but whimpered. It was the first sound she had been able to muster since the lights had gone out. I wasn't sure if that was a good sign, or just the beginning of hysterics. Quickly, I scurried back to my feet checking my pants in hope that I hadn't fallen directly in the fresh blood. Fortunately, my pants seemed the back anyway.

"I have to get to the door!" I encouraged myself. I positioned us along the wall, just beyond the desk. To my left, the unblinking eyes stared into me as though searching for my soul. My daughter now clinched around my neck, making it difficult to breath. I felt dizzy and placed my right hand along the wall to brace myself.

Kyra gasped, as the house seemed to take a breathe of life. "Daddy?" She clutched me for dear life...which nearly ended mine. "Let go, Kyra. I can't breath." Another distant rumble of thunder subsided, when I heard a faint sound. I closed my eyes to focus and listened. It was there! The familiar humming of the appliances in the house. Just beyond the door, I attempted to reach was the furnace that had kicked back on because of the cool chill settling into the house after the fall storm had overtaken the unseasonably warm day.

The powers back on!

I quickly searched the wall for the light switch.

"Ah, here it is!" i felt a sudden wave of relief.

My fingers reached the cool drywall. I slid them across locating two switches. I frantically flipped the first one my fingers came into contact with. It clicked on, but no light.

"Daddy, look!" Kyra said.

Directly in front of us was the door that led to the furnace room. Around the door frame I could see the beautiful yellow light gleaming from behind. Now all I had to due was flip the next switch and I would be free from the darkness. My hand began to tremble from anticipation or fear, I wasn't quite sure which. Finally, my fingers reached the next switch. The cold plastic against my fingers felt like an ice cube.
Click, was the sound of the switch as the light flared bright.

"AHHHHH!" I screamed like a frightened little girl that had just awoken from a horrible nightmare. On the wall, were two cartoon drawings, one of a ghost, and the other a vampire. I jerked my hand back to cover my mouth in shock...not of the drawings, but of the horribly girlie shriek that had just escaped me. When I did my fingers accidentally flipped the light switch back off, placing us back in darkness.

Kyra was suddenly gone from my hands and a maniacal cackling burst into the room.

Panic settled in my chest, just as I began to call out for her the lights turned on. I was terrified that the ominous figure with the unblinking white eyes would be standing there holding Kyra hostage! Once again the two cartoon drawings were before me. It didn't make me feel any better to see them a second time knowing the reaction they had caused.  Above them were three words, "Kyra's Spooky Shack!"

My seven year old daughter stood safely at the wall, giggling. Her smile beamed from ear to ear. "You screamed like a girl!" the small proud voice cackled so loudly that even the vampire and ghost on the board would have covered their ears...if they were real. It was amazing to see how quickly she had recovered from her fear of the dark stormy night.  Apparently, she had spent all day decorating the basement for Halloween, which I hadn't seen until the power went out. That was when I noticed the Halloween mask hanging from a spot light nearly six feet in the air. On the floor, wasn't was a red sleeping blanket, with a spilled bottle of bubbles.

In only a matter of seconds, a normal night had transformed into a panic stricken episode in the dark. It is amazing what tricks the mind can play...especially from the mind of a seven year of girl.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Tigers an Underdog?

Is a tiger considered an underdog in its natural habitat...I would think not. However, when the specific animal I'm referring too is the Detroit Tigers of Major League Baseball, it is a much different story.

The 2012 baseball postseason will begin tonight as the newly added Wild Card play in games take place, my home town team, the Detroit Tigers, wait to face their opponent Saturday night. They will enter the playoffs with less wins than both the Tampa Rays and Angels of Anahiem, who each ended the regular season on the outside of the 5 team playoff race in the American League due to the divisional layouts.

Do these Tigers have a chance in winning the World Series? YES, underdogs always have a chance!
Underdogs are the backbone of this country and have been witnessed in legendary battles, on movie screens, and are stories of legend.  Just look to recent sports history to see what can happen. Of the four major sports champions in the North America, three were large underdogs entering the playoffs. In the National Football League, the New York Giants, won the Super Bowl over the heavily favored New England Patroits after making the playoffs with a meager 9 - 7 record. In the National Hockey League, the Los Angeles Kings, won the Stanley Cup as the lowest seed in the Western Conference, never trailing in a single series. As for Major League Baseball, last seasons World Series Champion, the St. Louis Cardinals, made the playoffs on the final day of the regular season, and knocked off three of the best teams in baseball to become champions.

Underdogs are what drives us, keep us turned into events like the Major League Baseball playoffs.
Yes, the Detroit Tigers have every chance to win the World Series, just as Phillip Harper has in saving Mistasia, but will they? That is why we watch...that is why we cheer for the underdog!

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