Friday, July 2, 2010

ALBINO VILLAGE (flash fiction)

Click for some mood music


When I saw the little girl my blood went cold and I instantly remembered that day from almost 30 years ago.

# # #

It was nicknamed "Albino Village." It's legend dated back to the turn of the century when a small colony of albino families snatched a large parcel of land next to an unlikely positioned wooded area and built houses on a dead end road.

Albino Village was supposed to protect them from ignorant outsiders. Instead, it alienated them more and as suspicions arose, their myth grew.

At the time, ignorance was stronger than medicine and depending on which townsfolk you spoke to, the folklore ranged from harmless fairy tale to dangerous superstition.

Racists in town believed albinism was a result of inbreeding or the mixture of races.

The religious kooks argued that they were cursed and therefore degraded by the likes of God. As an alter boy Father Flynn used to tell us that albinos had red eyes because they were in fact, demons.

The hypochondriacs thought they were contagious and the immigrants in town thought albinos had magical powers and were able to tell the future.

Our dad didn't help. He filled our bunk beds every night with stories about the shadowy settlement chock full of of doom and gloom. Looking back, he must've re-purposed so many of Rod Serling's tales that Rod should have received royalties.

But there was always that little part of me that believed him -- kinda like your typical 9 year-old and Santa Clause.

The paranoia was in the air for years. Those who lived near Albino Village rarely saw anyone come or go and after sunset, lights rarely came on in the house. The street was always pitch black.

The years passed and as the albino myth evaporated to more pressing concerns like Vietnam and the energy crisis, we all forget and let them be.

# # #

A third of a bottle of Old Crow bourbon. That's all it took for my brother Moody and his friend Bryce to get their courage up to snuff. All week they'd been talking about wandering into Albino Village and now that Moody got his license, he would drive there tonight and see what all the fuss was about.

I begged him to take me and after he refused around 20 times, all it took was my Johnny Bench and Thurman Munson baseball cards. Moody said if I tossed in my Pete Roses, I could even sit up front.

By now, the rumor was that there was only a few families left and that the bulk of the colony had abandoned their homes and made way for a new settlement in Alaska, where the climate was inherently better for their skin pigment. The houses stood there frozen. Like crypts.

Driving up the road, it was true what they say. The grass always comes back. And back it came, uprooting through the pavement of the two-lane road, which was now overstuffed with brush from the roadside. If anything, that alone creeped me the fuck out.

As we sputtered dad's Gran Torino quietly up the road, Bryce stuck his head of the back window and shouted, "Albinos!!!!"

"Jesus, Bryce..." Moody whispered. "You tryin' to get us killed?"
"Killed?" Bryce laughed. "There ain't no one here."

When the rock hit our windshield, Moody swerved the Torino into a pole and busted the radiator. Coolent splattered everywhere.

"No one here, huh?!" Moody shouted. "No one here?! Fucking imbecile"

"What do we do now, Moody?" I asked sounding more now like a little brother than the brave 10 year-old for moments before.

"We need to get help," he answered. "You're coming with me."

He turned to Bryce. "And you're staying here."

As we tiptoed up the cracked sidewalk, we heard giggling. A little girl's giggling.

"Shhh." Moody said. "You hear that?" I nodded furiously. He couldn't see me in the pitch dark but I clutched his hand tight.

The giggling grew stronger and we approached a ramshackle house where it seemed to be coming from. After three knocks, there was more giggling.

"Come in..." she said.

The floorboards moaned with age. Moody lit his Zippo for light and I was starting to shake.

"It's okay," he said. "Nothing is going to happen."

And then we saw her. This little ghostly being. Pale and soft.

Are your parents home?" Moody asked her. " She shook her head and giggled."

"Ummm... we crashed our car. Did you see what happened? Someone threw a rock at us."

She bit her lower lip and then asked, "Do you need to use our phone?"

Moody saw a sad phone perched on a ledge. "Sure..."

As he picked it up and checked for a dial tone and the little girl asked my name.

"Peter," I answered. "And you?"

"Ida... My name is Ida."

# # #

These days, most residents don't remember Albino Village. About 10 years ago, what was left of the houses were razed to make way for yet another overpriced and overdeveloped McMansion community.

And driving past that community, my wife called asking if I could pick up the kid today at preschool. When I walked in, I was told he made a new friend in class. Thinking it would be another name on the future Gymboree party list, I asked the teacher who she was.

"The little blonde girl," she answered. "In the corner. Her name is Ida"

She ran up to me, giggling, and so very sure that she knew me. My heart pounded.

"Hi..." she said.

As we walked out of school that day, my boy asked, "Daddy, do you know that girl?"

I said no and thought about my father and all those stories he told us. My mind must have been playing tricks on me. But then again, looking back, Rod Serling just might have owed him some royalties.

Music: "Spacecase" by Tantrum.

24 comments:

  1. Oh, man. Creepy goodness, Ant. The music you picked was great, too. The little girl gave me chills when she showed up in his son's class.

    And you're still the master of time period atmosphere.

    Just excellent.

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  2. A creepy story, indeed. I couldn't help but wonder where the albinos got all their food supply and stuff.

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  3. I love the irony in the "pitch black" street - one of the creepier tales from you ant, loved it, great tuneage too

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  4. Creepy indeed. This is absolutely chilling Ant, and those pictures, and the music - supreme creepiness!

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  5. The Albino Village - definitely eerie! What is it about parents telling their children spooky stories at bedtime? I still have nightmares about an abandoned junkyard.
    Love the mix dialogue and history in this, Anthony...and the pictures are fantastic!

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  6. It's the hair in those photos that really creeps me out. Sepia tone frizzies.

    Good balance of the eerie world and the mundane conversation, Anthony. Big ups for the Rod Serling reference at the end.

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  7. So much for N_O_T_H_I_N_G!!!!
    This story ROCKS!
    On the creepscale, it's a 10!
    I was kinda thinking, for a moment, that his wife was named Ida... even creepier that she's still a little girl, all those years later...
    Oooooh scarey, kids...

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  8. I love the ending to this! You built a creepy story here, Ant.

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  9. Well, I can't help but love this. Although, I wish I knew more of what happened at Ida's house. You did a great job of implying bigger weirdness though. And those pictures, so unsettling.

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  10. Brilliant. What a unique subject. Love it

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  11. This was so weird and wonderful! I love the uniqueness, and the mood set with the photos and music. Especially like the metaphor of dark pitched against the albinism. very cool, sir. peace...

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  12. God, those two blokes in the top photo are ugly! :-)

    Another very fine piece from you Anthony. Keep it up, my friend.

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  13. This is awesome. This is the kind of childhood memoir that prompted me to write mine. Fantastic voice and pacing. The ordinary and the supernatural possibly juxtaposed without a definitive answer is so well done. Great piece.

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  14. Very cool story. Nice and creepy.

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  15. Knock me down with a feather during this one, Anthony. Gripping, eerie and, most importantly, entertaining. Fine work from a master!!

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  16. Great story, Shel Silverstein and Rod would be proud.

    Oddly enough, this is the time of the year when I think of albinos, as Edgar Winter used to do July concerts in my wife's hometown of Port Washington, NY.

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  17. Tremendous job, Ant. The story went from an eerie view of a small, bigoted community to full-blown ghost story in a heartbeat.

    I loved the photos. Where do you dig these up from?

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  18. The combination of pitch blackness and white, almost translucent skin put a very chilling image in my mind.

    Hey I noticed you have Ask the Dust on your shelf - that's one of my favorite novels of all time.

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  19. The street and the grass, the "how creeped the fuck out you were", the baseball card exchange . . . the giggle against the cruelty of "ignorance was stronger than medicine" . . . the way you twist a Serling tale.

    Superb, and as I think Linda said, the playing off the dark (thoughts) and light white ... mesmerizing read past the Beave in the car with Wally and Lumpy ... all the way to Ida - hmmm - you left much for the mind to swallow. ~ Absolutely*Kate

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  20. No matter how outlandish superstitions are, there's always the underlying doubt that creeps you out. This story did a very good job of illustrating that, and also did a good job of freaking me out.

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  21. Gah! Anthony-- and you've been giving me a hard time. Man, this is creepy. The village, the subtlety, the lingering ghostly-ness of it. I imagine you telling this round bout a campfire. Excellent.

    ps. Those pics- just are WRONG and perfect for this story.

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  22. Woah! I almost missed this one... very nice and very subtle.

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  23. This is fantastic. I'm sorry I missed this 1st time round. I need to put you on my permanent "To-Read" list.

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