Bury the Evidence: A Portal Story
by Timothy L. Thompson
“We’re safe. We can relax now. Let’s go look up the right acid to buy...” Tom Tedesco
We’d been gone for three days. We were back in an instant. Half an arm lay wriggling in a pool of blood on the floor.
“That was way, way too close!!” Helga screamed. We both looked down at the severed arm writhing on the hardwood floor beneath us. Then she continued, “Couldn’t you keep him from chasing us in and losing his arm?”
“I know how to get us through a portal, not how to stop someone who’s chasing us!” I squawked out as my voice cracked.
Helga started blurting out random phrases, “I can’t look at that . . . did we make it . . . are we safe?” She was dancing pitter pat in little circles on the den floor as she randomly shrieked out each word and phrase.
“Yes, we made it. We are safe now.” As blood started oozing out of the loose limb on the floor, I tried to flatten my voice to put on a false bravado, “I’ll clean it up.” I wasn’t sure if I was trying to be more reassuring for Helga or for myself as I went to the kitchen to get a black plastic garbage bag, but, “Where will I bury that thing?” and, “How can I destroy it?” kept rolling through my head.
Helga had stepped out of the den, where we had reentered our home from the portal. As I passed her, I noticed the nice frame she still carried even at 48. Cycling class wasn’t wasted on her. “I’m going to put that arm in the garage, and I can clean up the blood with hydrogen peroxide,” I told her. “But then what . . .” My voice trailed off.
I walked back into the den, where the cat was still peacefully sleeping on her favorite armchair, not having stirred from our reappearance at all.
“You’d think after seven days we might get a welcome purr or a rub?” I mused.
Then I awkwardly scooped a still-twitching, severed arm into the thick, black plastic garbage bag from the kitchen.
“They can’t figure out how to follow us can they?” Helga’s voice trembled as she queried me from the hallway, her striking blue eyes widening more than I ever remembered.
“We figured out how to manipulate a portal and get there, so who knows! Maybe someday they’ll figure out how to get here.” I was just taking notice of a calendar clock anomaly when I heard someone at the door.
Thud, thud . . . We were interrupted by a loud knocking. I walked over casually to see who it was.
My color drained as I looked out of the peephole . . . police!
Helga came up behind me. “Who is it?” she said.
“It’s the police,” I managed to softly squeak out. The color drained out of her face too.
“This is just an odd coincidence,” I tried to say reassuringly. But I knew full well that events in dimensions often paralleled each other. This, I’d been told in a past foray, happened more frequently between dimensions where mutual crossings occur. “I’m going to need to explore that characteristic of portals more in the future,” I notched in my memory just as I was snapped back to reality by the policemen banging on the door again.
Whack, whack . . . went the door as I stood in front of it, suddenly very keenly aware of the severed arm I was carrying in my black plastic kitchen bag. My mind was racing, “I just committed mayhem on a policeman from another dimension . . . unwittingly, but still, it happened.” I told my mind, “Be still. There’s no way the police from the other dimension would even know we were from another dimension, let alone know how to call our police and get them here so quickly.” I dropped the dead arm bag to the side of the door, away from the door’s opening, and I cracked open the door, leaving the chain lock in place, all while trying to keep Helga and her terrified looks out of the general view.
“Hi officer, what’s up?” I said with a falsely chipper voice.
“Hi, are you Tom Tedesco?” the officer queried.
“Yes,” I replied.
“We’ve had a complaint about loud crackling noises, humming sounds, and possible shots fired in the neighborhood. Have you seen or heard anything unusual?” the officer jumped right into his investigation.
I froze for several seconds thinking about all the unusual things I’d seen and heard for the last three days: people who could regrow limbs, people with tails, and people who were literally cold-blooded like reptiles.
“No, I can’t say I have.” I tried to say in a calm voice, but the officer didn’t seem to accept my attempt at calm reassurance.
“Are you sure?” he quizzed again. “Apparently the noises were quite loud, and several neighbors thought the sounds came from here.”
“This house?” I said as I started to feel a little braver. “No, nothing here. But we’re well insulated, so we wouldn’t hear it if a car crashed in our driveway.” That was a lie, but it sounded pretty good coming out. Or, that’s what I thought. Besides, I thought to myself, “What shots did they hear? We were on the other side of the portal when that policeman shot at us . . . and that was just moments ago.”
“Would you mind if we came in?”
Now the officer was getting a bit too pushy and pesky for my liking.
“Yes, I’d mind,” I said. “We are on vacation and cleaning up the house, and my wife isn’t fully dressed at the moment.” A convenient lie, but I was grasping for responses.
The officer’s face turned six shades of red and purple. I’m pretty sure I saw lilac, salmon, and even fuchsia in his cheeks. “I need to see what’s going on,” he said as he started to lean forward to peer in.
“There’s no evidence of imminent danger here, and I’m tired. If you want to search my house, get a warrant.” I slammed the door and bolt locked it. Sweat started pouring all over my body. I kept my right eye glued to the peephole. The two officers started arguing the merits of breaking my door down versus getting a warrant. Thankfully, it appeared the warrant argument won out as they painstakingly inched back to their car parked along the curb. I sighed heavily as they pulled away, but I was now soaked in sweat.
“We’ve got to get rid of that thing ASAP!” I snapped out. Helga was soaking wet with sweat too and looked like she might faint when my sudden outburst snapped her back to the present.
“Let’s get it in the 4Runner!” she raggedly exclaimed.
We ran to the garage, threw the bag with the severed arm in the truck, and then another thought came to me.
I practically shouted, “We need to bury the arm in the woods at the edge of the neighborhood until we can get some acid to melt it into nothing”.
“What?” she croaked out.
“Seriously,” I said, “we need to completely annihilate it so that no one can trace it, find it, follow it, link it to us . . . you get me.”
Helga looked lost for a minute, but the fact was we couldn’t leave the arm here in case the police came back quickly as we weren’t yet prepared to destroy it. We didn’t regularly keep high powered acid on the shelf in the garage. So she slowly accepted it as the best short run alternative to just waiting to see if the police would come back with a warrant.
We waited long enough for the first round of questioning cops to be cleared out of the neighborhood. I had Helga walk from our house to the last house at the end of the cul-de-sac, which sits just in front of the edge of the woods. “Lucky we live on the edge of town,” hummed in my mind. She scanned back to our house and waved to indicate all was clear.
I raced out with severed arm bag in hand. We jogged over to the backyard of the house that sits in front of the woods. Then we ran down a trail behind the house and climbed into a ravine that ran down towards the river. When we got deep enough, I took us off the trail and into some briars. I had thought to grab a small shovel from the neighbor’s back yard as we went through it to get to the trail. It only took about an hour and a half, but we dug about two and a half feet down and buried the arm. Relief for now . . . time to go find acid . . . strong acid.
When we got back to the top of the trail and into the back of our neighbor’s yard, we both let out a sigh of relief, and Helga cried a little to let some of her tension out.
“Let’s get back to the house,” I panted, a little too exhausted from our prior adventure and the climb down the trail.
But as we started back into the cul-de-sac, a neighbor from one of the houses between ours and the last house before the trail, Ben Mosely, was coming towards us. Ben was a squirrely guy who bothered me even though he’d never done anything wrong to me. He was just annoying and buggy with his awkward toupee, his weird eye twitches and smiles that seemed like they were bent into and out of place.
“What have you two been up to?” he prodded us with a serious look just before he cracked a wide grin. At first I thought he was just being friendly, but there was a small shiftiness in his left eye just after he smiled. I tried a fake laugh to allay any concerns he had about our activities in the woods.
“Ha, we were having a lover’s get away down in the old woods . . .” It sounded worse when it came out.
“Actually, ah, we just needed the exercise,” I tried again. That one seemed to work.
“Can’t get enough of that,” Ben cackled while patting his belly. Still, I think he noticed that Helga was stiff and looked like she was about to break down (despite her rather awkward fake smile and laugh).
Then Ben surprised us with this little gem, “you know, when I saw you two out planting flowers this morning, I thought to myself, that nice couple seem like the type to have secret adventures. I bet you two are always up to something that the rest of us wish we could be up to.”
We hurried back to the house, but I kept glancing back at Ben. We’ve been gone for three days, what was he talking about seeing us planting flowers this morning.
At the front porch Helga couldn’t contain it any longer, “Tom, we’ve been gone three days, but Ben thinks he saw us planting flowers this morning. We planted flowers three days ago before we left. Is he suffering from some type of dementia?”
“No Helga, I saw the calendar clock in the house earlier and I thought there had been a power outage, but now I think that the three days we were gone was only about two or three hours back here. Apparently portals cross time as well as space.” Helga looked like she might pass out from that little revelation again, but I pointed back at Ben to distract her. We watched as he continued to wander around near the other neighbor’s backyard.
He looked towards the back edges of the neighbor’s lawn as it led to the trail but made no effort to go down it. He held his arms up like he was praying . . . or trying to sense something—that worried me. But he didn’t seem like he felt whatever he was hoping for. After we got in our house, I watched back out the window. Ben didn’t proceed into the trail area, but he was painstakingly slow at walking back to his own house.
“Can this be over?” wailed Helga. “I can’t take this stress! We were somewhere we don’t belong, we have seriously injured a man from some other time or place, and now the police want a warrant for our house!” She was shot. I hugged her and said, “We’re safe. We can relax now. Let’s go look up the right acid to buy.”
The last two sentences weren’t really congruent. But, Helga relaxed, and we felt . . . safe.
“We’re in the clear now,” I told myself.
The sky was blue outside as I looked out our front window into the cul-de-sac and out over towards the woods. All looked calm.
. . . Somewhere down in the ravine, the dirt over a tiny, fresh grave started shifting.