Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Story: Old Fashioned

Old Fashioned

"Excuse me, Ma'am. Are you trying to cross the street?"

Mildred started, so intently was she peering down the road. She looked around and found the source of the question, a young man in uniform, standing quietly by her side.

"Why, yes I am," she said, a bit of wonder in her voice. "Are you really..." Her voice trailed off, leaving the question unasked.

He smiled. "Yes Ma'am. I am a Boy Scout. And we still help ladies across the street." With that, he offered his arm and she took it. Then each bent forward a bit to carefully examine the length of the street in front of them. First one way, then the other.

They stepped off the curb together. Mildred remarked, "I don't see many Boy Scouts anymore."

"Oh, we're still around Ma'am, but there isn't as much interest." His voice lowered confidentially, "Mr. Larkin - he's our Scoutmaster - says that boys think we're too old fashioned. They'd rather do modern things."

"There's something to be said for the old ways," Mildred replied.

The boy grinned widely, "That's exactly what Mr. Larkin says!"

There was a hollow pop from their right, and suddenly a ragged black hole appeared in the air next to them. Rancid fumes drifted out of the hole, and two greasy tentacles slithered towards them.

Without missing a beat, the Boy Scout did something complicated with his right hand, gesturing towards the hole. With a final flourish, he whispered something that Mildred didn't quite catch. She wasn't even sure if it was English.

The tentacles snapped back inside, just before the hole closed again with a gentle whoof. The only indication that it had happened was a faint lingering odor, and that was rapidly dissapating.

They reached the opposite sidewalk without further incident.

Mildred began, "How did you..."

Proudly pointing to one of the merit badges on his sash, the Boy Scout said, "This is my "Wiccan" badge, Ma'am. Mr. Larkin is very old fashioned."

As he turned away, the Boy Scout said, "And you know the Scout's Motto." He smiled again, "Be Prepared!"