Marv’s Doghouse (Part 3)

Ben nodded, and Marv slipped into the house, leaving Ben alone in the grass. He eyed the gate, knowing he should leave, that something about this man, and this house, and this yard, was very strange, and somehow very wrong…but he’d been told to stay. He’d been told to stay, and so he had to stay. Still, he didn’t have to stay exactly here, right? He looked at the patio, and the only feature was a dirty table and a couple of chairs, and he walked over to take a seat…but as he did, he noticed that, for some reason, his feet were hurting in his shoes. He sat down and tried to ignore it, but the ache was there even without putting any pressure on him–and his hands hurt too, oddly enough. Was it from carrying the doghouse? It had been awkward more than heavy, but maybe he was more out of shape than he thought.

Marv returned after a couple of minutes with two cans of beer in hand. He set one down in front of Ben, and then sat down at the table across from him in the other chair with a grunt. Ben grabbed the can, but the pain in his hand was intensifying, and he found it a bit…difficult to grip it, and when he brought it to his mouth to take a drink, the cold liquid made his teeth ache as well–and that ache didn’t fade after he’d swallowed. “You know…I’m not…feeling very good,” Ben said, “I think I might be coming down with something. I should probably go.”

“No Ben–you’re going to sit, stay and drink your beer,” Marv said, that grin on his face a bit wider. “That would make you feel good, right?”

“Yeah, but…”

“Don’t worry about the rest, Ben. Just relax.”

“A-Alright…” he said, still feeling confused, and took another sip of beer from the can, feeling a bit of it run down his chin and onto his shirt, which was awkward, but if Marv noticed, he didn’t seem to be bothered by it–he was too busy filling the silence, with nothing in particular–talking about the dog house for a bit, about how much it meant to finally have it back. Pontificating about sports for a while, about how much better the teams were back where he’d grown up, and Ben–despite being a local fan–found it hard to get a word in edgewise. His mouth…didn’t quite seem to work right, and his tongue would get in the way. He checked the can to see what the alcohol level was, but it wasn’t particularly strong, but even then, his vision seemed a bit…off. Words were a bit blurry, and everything seemed less…vibrant, like the color was slowly draining from everything around him, particularly the red hues of Marv’s shirt.

Still, he had to sit, and stay, and finish the beer, right? But that was proving harder than he’d expected for some reason, because after sitting with Marv and listening to him for fifteen minutes or so…he found it surprisingly difficult to pick up the can of beer in front of him. His hands were cramping badly now, the pain growing, and he couldn’t get his fingers to wrap around the can, and his thumb was refusing to work. With a growl, growing frustrated, he gave the can a bat, tipping it over and spilling beer all over the table.

“Having some trouble man?” Marv asked.

“I…I ‘eally don’ heel good…” Ben said, “I can’ pic ap the ‘an.”

“Yeah, I can see you having a bit of trouble there, boy,” Marv said, and hefted himself up out of his chair. “Let me get you something else–I’ll just be a second.”

Ben tried to object, hoping Marv would actually understand his distress, but the words wouldn’t quite come to his mouth. All he managed in the end, after Marv had shut the door, was a high pitched whine. What in the world was wrong with him? He looked down at his hands, and they didn’t…look right. His fingers seemed a bit too short–especially his thumbs, and they had somehow slid down his hand, closer to his wrist. Had…had he somehow broken his hands, without even realizing it? He needed to get out of here–he had to get help, since it was clear that Marv wasn’t going to do anything for him. He steeled himself, and stood up, feeling…a wave of dread and horror wash through him for standing up and disobeying Marv’s order to sit, but he did it. He was wobbly, and felt almost drunk, and for some reason he couldn’t…drop his heels to the ground, leaving him stuck standing on the balls of his feet. When he tried, the tendons at the back of his legs screamed in pain–he’d just have to balance as best he could. He pushed back the chair and nearly fell over, tried to take a step, and his foot slipped right out of his shoe. He looked down at his foot–and through the sock, it looked…even more deformed than his hands did. He looked at the shoe, abandoned under the table, but there was no way he’d be able to bend down and pick it up with his hands contorted like they were–he’d have to abandon them. He stepped out of his other shoe, and started across the yard, shaking and unsteady for a few steps, until he lost balance and fell into the grass on hands and knees.

Fine–he’d just crawl, he told himself. It seemed a bit easier actually, than walking had been, and he moved through the tall grass to the gate, looked up, and saw the latch. He tried to get his knees underneath him, so he could stand back up, but like his heels, the tendons and muscles of his body were screaming at him, refusing to move in any normal direction. Unable to get onto his knees, he had to try and reach up with his hands, crawling up the side of the gate, but even when he got high enough to touch the latch, his paralyzed hands were worthless.

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