Aphelion Issue 290, Volume 27
December 2023 / January 2024
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by Andrée Gendron

“My little sister and I would always play games whenever our parents took us on long trips in the car. They expected us to amuse ourselves in the back seat of our station wagon and not bother them unless we spotted wildlife or some other point of interest. The only other times we could speak up was when we needed to pee or throw up. One of our favorite games was called 'wishing wells'. We would each count the wishing wells we saw on our own side of the road in people’s yards — garden centers didn’t count. Whoever counted the most wishing wells by the time we got to wherever it was we were going to won the game. Most of the time we'd end up at a relative’s house then tell them how many wishing wells it took to get there. They always thought that was funny."

"Is this your first year? Mine too. I just moved here myself. It’s actually my first time away from home. This doesn’t look like the sort of area where folks decorate their lawns with wishing wells. Um… this neighborhood appears to be partial to gargoyles, which is fine, so let’s count those instead, okay? Great."

“By the way, my name is Jane and you can pretend to be my sister Pam. Is that all right?"

“Get ready… Go. I see one on that stump. That’s one for me. You’ll need to sit up more so you can see out the window. This car seems to have bigger seats than my parents’ wagon did, but I could be mistaken. They junked that old heap a long time ago. Where exactly are you taking us anyway?"

“Aha, that’s two for you, matching ‘thinkers’ beside the front steps. Are you cold? You’re shaking. I should’ve wore a sweater to the party myself. It’s going to get dark soon. We won’t be able to see much of anything when that happens, unless people bother to leave a porch light on. If I owned a house here I would definitely leave the porch lights on…"

“Oops. There’s another one for you beside the angel. Why are you crying? You already have three and I still only have one…"

“That building has four gargoyles on its roof. See? Those count too, not just the ones on the ground. I see two more for you by that swimming pool. Way to catch up, Pam…"

“There’s another fat one on that tree branch. Are you even looking for them? Oh wow. I get two more. And there’s another pair over that gate. Why are they mostly in pairs? Are we getting off the main road? That’s okay. I already spotted another gargoyle up ahead across the road on that garage sign. See it, Pam? He’s holding a wrench…"

“I spot a family of gargoyles sitting under that fountain. See the baby one? Are you going to throw up, Pam? I feel like throwing up. I don’t even like the taste of alcohol but I figured what the hell, when in Rome do as the Romans do, right? I already peed my pants a while ago. Those two didn’t look like the sort of people who could be bothered to pull over…"

“Looks like we’re slowing down now. I think we’re finally stopping. Are we stopping? Yup, we’re stopping. Well, I counted twelve gargoyles for me and Pam only got seven so that means I won. Or maybe neither one of us won. Hey, you guys. Where are we? This isn’t funny anymore. Pam’s gonna kick both your asses when she’s done crying! I’m sorry, Pam, I was only trying to cheer you up. Please say something. Anything…"

“They’re both getting out. I guess that means we’re there wherever there is. It’s too dark to tell but I can hear crickets and bullfrogs. Looks like they want us to get out too. No, don’t help me. I can do it. Would you please tell Pam everything is going to be fine and that this is just some kind of hazing? I would like our hands untied now."

“No, don’t struggle like that, Pam. You’ll only bruise your wrists. Wait. Where the hell are we? What’s with all the mounds of dirt? Oh, dear Lord. Is that an actual grave? Did you two dig that earlier or is the rest of your sorority out here? Hello! Anyone there?"

“Dammit. My brother was right. He said I wouldn’t even last one semester, that I’m too dumb for college. I should at least try to stay safe. Don’t try drugs. Don’t drink anything at parties from open containers. Don’t cut through alleys. Always walk in pairs. Take a photo of the license plate and send it to a friend before I get in someone’s car. I did all that."

“All right. All right. You don’t have to shove. We’re in the hole and scared. Now what? Are you seriously going to bury us alive? You creeps won’t get away with this!"

“Oh, by the way, Pam and I want you to know that it takes nineteen gargoyles to get from the college to your collection of dumbass freshmen girls."

“That’s how old I would have turned next week…nineteen. Yeah.”


© 2018 Andrée Gendron

Andrée Gendron lives in Massachusetts. In the past her work has appeared in various small publications and online. After a lengthy break from writing she is back at it. If anyone wishes to check out her poetry, fiction, artwork and more please visit her website at www.andreedianegendron.com

Find more by Andrée Gendron in the Author Index.

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