I’m working on my blog, and I hear the faintly musical tune telling me the phone is ringing. Somewhere. I scurry to find it before the 24 seconds are up, and the call travels to the gated community of voicemail.
I find the phone in about 23 seconds, under a pile of clothes I wore yesterday. Sick with a cold, I dropped everything from where I stood next to my bed, crawled under the covers, and found sleep almost immediately last night. It had been a horrible day yesterday, and I wasn’t really in the mood to take calls. But I suspected I knew who was calling.
“Hey baby.” It was my wife, who I hadn’t seen today. She had left when I was still very unconscious. She had woken me once in the night to have me take some medicine, but otherwise I was in another world.
With the time of day she was calling, I suspected I knew what she wanted, although I sort of dreaded it.
“Hey sweetie. What’s going on?” I sounded cheerful enough, although my voice still a low growl. Maybe it sounded sexy to her, I didn’t know.
“Well, I was wondering if you wanted to join me for lunch.” There it was. It meant me leaving the house. And joining her for lunch also meant me driving. A long ways. For her to be able to take a lunch break meant she had to stay close to the store. A retail manager meant she had to babysit everyone in the place.
She worked on the other side of town, about 45 minutes away. That meant about 90 minutes eaten out of my day for the trip. When I hadn’t even left my room to grab a bite to eat, she wanted me to drive up to see her.
“Sure, I’ll come up there.” I knew it was for my own good, despite the fact I didn’t want to go. It would be good of me to get out of the house for a while, I told myself.
There was a little more smalltalk, which I auto-piloted my way though. I picked where we would eat, within 4 blocks of her store. She picked the time, and I planned out a strategy to get there right on time. All was set.
I quickly got ready, ran downstairs, almost stepping on the neighbor’s annoying sheltie dog, a stupid yappy mini-Lassie that would rather push Timmy into the well instead of saving him.
I circumvented the neighbor’s glaring look and jogged outside. The sun was too bright, and my sunglasses were in the car. I covered my eyes with a hand, walking near-blindly to the old Saturn, opened it up, and slid behind the wheel.
The seat shaped nicely into me, feeling like another pair of bluejeans. I leaned back, took a steep breath, and felt better than I had indoors. A turn of the key brought an old Rolling Stones song to my ears. Two points for me now. I actually smiled.
I reached behind my seat, grabbed one of my pairs of cheap sunglasses, and slid them on my head. Pulling off the silver windshield visor and plunging my once dark car into the light, I shifted into reverse, and started on my way.
Looking over my shoulder, I saw something on my car. A little strange…probably some birdshit that would come off in the coming rain tonight. As I backed up, the lump…twitched. I backed up so I was pointed straight down the parking lot lane, threw it into park, and got out.
On my trunk was one large frog. About the size of my palm, without the fingers. He was looking up at me, seemingly without fear. I was in a hurry, so I reached down to pluck him from the trunk lid, when he snapped at my finger. I recoiled quickly…I had never experienced a frog or toad acting in offense before, only acting defensively or simply hopping away.
I had no tools readily available to pluck him from the trunk lid, so I simply left him there. I was still in a hurry, and I didn’t want to be late.
I got back into the car, shifted into drive, and started slowly down the sloping parking lot. The frog maintained a hold, looking back at me from his perch with his little black eyes, glaringly. I put down my foot, entering the street we lived on, and pushed it up to 30 miles an hour. The frog hung on, shifting slightly as I made a turn, but otherwise without any sense of urgency.
I pushed it on to 45 and 65 as I drove onto the highway on-ramp to meet my wife. The frog stayed aboard, and I thought it might make for a good story.
It was the loud thump on my roof that shook me out of my reverie. A small dent had formed about 3 inches to the right of my head, and as I looked into the rear view mirror, a small bloodied form bounded down my back window, bouncing and flopping down the roadway behind. I looked back ahead, and a cloudburst had formed, seemingly out of no where. Less than a quarter mile ahead of me, a deluge of rain was dropping down from the sky. Cars were slowing ahead in the swirling mass of water, but I drove ahead through the rain. I had driven through far worse in the cold midwestern winters, a little rain was not going to kill me today. I thought for a short time about the hail that had hit my roof, but it too didn’t bother me. It was an old Saturn with good insurance.
Another mile down the road and another thump, this time on the right side of my hood. And this time I could see what had hit my car. A crumpled green and red form, but with the unmistakable back legs of a very large frog. Fully 5 inches across, it was flopping in the wind, but somehow trying to make its way to me. A lopsided jump, and it landed on my windshield.
Now, I have no idea now how the frog would ever be able to reach me, but still I panicked. The windshield wipers came on, striking the frog but not moving him more than one inch before jamming on his heavy little form. It took my car’s entrance into the raining deluge finally to dislodge him from the glass and send him spiraling into the gray nothingness that was forming behind my car.
I decided not to look back to see what had become of my first friend, only forcing myself to drive faster on this roadway. I could feel the tires beneath me lift up with hydroplaning, but still I drove, wanting to meet my destination that much faster. The rain didn’t let up for 20 minutes, and only then did I finally break through.
My exit. Her exit. I was almost there when it happened.
Another frog. Only a 2-incher, but it landed right in my view, on the windshield. A tiny crack had formed, and as I looked up, one tiny eye rolled in my direction, meeting my two eyes, as it faded into death and nonbeing. A second later another frog, on my roof, striking near the same spot as the first, almost shaking me off the road entirely. I started to veer toward the exit when a third, a forth, a fifth – I lost count, a hundred frogs suddenly started to rain down on me. Frogs cracking the glass, blanking out the headlights, driving down upon me like hammers in the metal and plastic. The corner panels disintegrated under the force, and I could feel the suspension on my car being driven down under the weight. Still the momentum kept me driving onward, but the bodies beneath the tires, started to force the car to lose traction, to lose its way. I lost control, and drove over the embankment.
I came to few minutes later, I think. I don’t know how long it was. But the rain of frogs had stopped, as had the storm. I turned off the ignition of my dead car, having stalled out upon running headlong into a large pine tree. I unlatched my seatbelt, slid out of the car, and mindlessly flipped the “lock” button on the key fob without thinking. Surprisingly, it still worked, and I pocketed the keys.
I turned around and looked at the car. It was covered in a greenish red slime with various small limbs and organs mixed up in the thick soup of stalled life. A few forms still twitched here and there as their stubborn souls had not left their little bodies. I turned away, horrified, and started to make my way up the hillside.
The hard rain had made traction a laughable thing, and several times I found myself nearly face-down in the mud, sliding back down toward the car. It was several minutes before I found my footing, and grabbing onto roots and sapling limbs I pulled and hitched myself up over the edge, and into the eyes of the frog once again.
It almost had to have been the same frog as the first, although I told myself it couldn’t have been. None of this could have been, but it was the same one none the less. It leaped at me before I could react, and it found a mouthhold on my right ear.
I could feel the cartlidge fail beneath the steel trap mouth of the frog, and I screamed in pain and anger. I balled up a fist, hitting mostly my own cheek, but also a good deal of the frog’s small body, but still it held. I willed myself up for another strike, when I lost my balance and fell backwards down the steep incline, sliding and tumbling back down to the car.
The frog dislodged itself from my ear, and I quick recoiled away from it, sliding almost crab style, pushing my legs from my body as my butt slid on the muddy ground. A small yelp escaped me as my back hit my car’s rear bumper, and it took a moment before the moment of dread filled me.
I looked up, and felt before I saw the mass of frog parts moving to wash over me. I felt the mass, the parts, the slick of their blood and moist parts wrap over my hair, my bleeding and crushed ear. It was a moment before I could react, so intense the feeling. I felt tiny mouths like an acid along my neck, felt the blood and organs locking down, holding my head tight. I tried to move, but my head was fastened to the car, stuck, and I was nearly helpless.
I looked up at the embankment, praying for help, but the lone frog was not alone. At least a hundred of his friends lined up along the edge of the roadway, waiting to visit me, to see me. And at my feet was their apparent leader, the lone frog, making small jumps toward my feet, its eyes always looking into my own.
I screamed a sigh more than a true scream, wasted in this abuse of reality. I tried to push against the flow of frogs with my feet once again, without fully realizing the onslaught of the ooze now locking my shoulders against my own faithful car. My left arm was completely stuck, slicked against the hard plastic, and my right was useless against this flood.
The army had slid down and were almost all the way to their leader by now. The head frog was just jumping slowly, just past the spot between my feet and reaching his way up to see me. He jumped up onto one leg, just jumping slowly and methodically, his eyes never leaving my own.
The ooze never fully penetrated my eyes or mouth, but it had made its way down to my neck and chest. I was frozen in terror that made any bondage completely unnecessary.
The leader ignored my crotch to a strange relief after the fact, but jumped down to my belly button, and stopped. The ooze had almost reached his feet, but he simply waited, either for his army or the blood jelly I’m not sure.
Something crossed my mind as the leader started to tense up, and I found my right hand reaching into my pocket once more. The frog was getting ready to jump, right at my eyes, when my hand wrapped itself around my keyfob, jamming my key between two knuckles.
I quickly swung up without thinking, just as the leader pounced, its army in a jumping charge to match the leader’s motion. My key arced up and hit the leader in the side, throwing him to the left and away from me, tumbling into the wooded dark.
The frog army hesitated, and so did I. I