A note from SchroedingersBand

And now, for something completely different.

"Alright, Initiate," Orson parsed uneasily. This was his first time training a new hire, at least that's how he looked at it. He cast an uneasy gaze at his familiar... I guess, 'friend,' standing to attention next to the bottomless pit. Someone should really have railing installed around it or something. "It's our duty tonight to watch the Pit. No sleeping on the job, no breaks, no distractions, and if you're lucky we might catch a soul from the Depths. That’ll get you a big break if you do."

"Alrighty," the Initiate, or rather Clyde, laughed uneasily, distracted by the oddity of both the Pit and its surrounding salt circle no doubt. It reminded Orson of his own first uncomfortable night on Pit duty as a young adult fresh out of high school. It was the type of thing to give unexplainable headaches to anyone who looked at it too hard, which struck him as unsafe and possibly demonic at the time?

He didn't really mind those anymore. It’s just what came with the cult’s duty. It’s tradition, even, one might say. A tradition of keeping this godforsaken town alive.

“Is this really safe?”

“As long as you don’t jump in, sure. What are you doing, anyways? Sit down. There’s a chair right here, for God’s sake," Orson insisted, patting the simple rectangular chair at his side.

With that, Clyde shrugged and slid himself into the seat next to Orson. Orson caught him still staring intently at the Pit. "I don't rightly know. It's just this thing don't feel right."

"You'll get used to it,” Orson said, wiping his forearm against his head. The basement didn’t exactly have working A/C at the moment. Real fine time for that to up and die. “For now, maybe don’t strain your eyes quite so hard. Deep breaths help too.”

Clyde sighed and sank as far as he could into the uncomfortable chair. "If'n you say so… Hey, y’know I really appreciate you gettin’ me set up here with a place to sleep an’ all. Apartment lease dun canceled on me when I got locked up an’ all. But… what’s with the whole cult thing anyways? An’ the… the Pit?”

“It’s a long story.” Orson checked his phone. The brightness hurt his eyes. Eight hours. That’ll make one shift today, and plus the two I already did this week means I got tomorrow off. “But I’ve got time to kill. Just don’t go nodding off on me.”

Clyde blinked. “‘Kay yeah, I understand.”

“It all starts,” Orson said, rising from his chair and sidling toward the bookshelf, “with a man named Jeremy Grant.” He perused the bookshelf and its extensive collection, collected and alphabetized by himself over several years, until he found the book he was looking for. A plain, green-covered hardback under ‘G’. “Born in Raleigh, North Carolina, nineteen sixty-one.”

Orson palmed the book for a moment before tossing it underhandedly to Clyde, who fumbled and nearly dropped it. “Jesus fuck, Orson, warn me before you go throwin’ things at me!”

“Read the spine.”

“Hmm. Held- uh, held-ak? Held-uck? What, how’re you s’posed ta-”

“Just say Heldak.”

“Right. Heldak… Jeremy Grant. So what? He was an author?”

“Pre-cisely,” Orson replied. “In fact, he used to live in this very house. Wrote that there book you’re holding while he was livin’ here in the Eighties after he had a mental breakdown and decided to move away, presumably using a map and a dart ‘cause I dunno why anybody’d move here.” This got a chuckle from Clyde. Good to know I still got that going for me.

“Alright, alright, and what’s that all mean about?”

“Well, he shot himself with a Colt eighteen months later, in nineteen eighty-four. All his note said was something… disturbing, and that he’d thrown his latest manuscript down the Pit, aside from the usual dribble. Didn’t quite say if it was there beforehand, but we got nothin’ from before that point. Actually I got a copy of that manuscript too off his editor, supposed to be a sequel but it’s pretty unfinished and all.” Also depressing, but that seemed like an unnecessary detail. Orson took his seat back and continued, after a scrutinizing look at Clyde. He really did seem interested, which was a real rarity coming from him.

“What’s this mean? The title?” Clyde questioned, fingering the ridged cover.

“It’s a made-up word, means ‘Hero’ in his fantasy conlang.”


Orson stared at the ceiling with a blank face, trying to remember for a moment. “Constructed language.”

“Ah. Go on.”

“Yeah, guy was a real nut for Tolkien and D&D, all that. Anyway, guy who bought the house off his freshly dug grave got real obsessed with studying the Pit. Didn’t let nobody but a few of his close Klan friends in on it, and that’s where we come from. And before you ask, no, we’re not associated with them anymore.” Orson leaned forward in his chair. “I dunno what you learned in prison, but don’t go spouting off anything that’d land you good marks in Vidor.”

“God, chill. I got arrested on fraud, not murder. It was minimum security, an’ I’ll have you know I got let out early on good behavior.”

“Wow, good for you,” Orson replied flatly. “Sure helped keep your lease.”

“Man,” Clyde smacked and raised a rude finger. “Y’know what? At least you pulled through for me in the end. So you were sayin’ about?”

“Yep, nineteen eighty-five. Been operating ever since. It’s like our own little… well… cult. You know. I like to call it the Preventative Maintenance Team though, but it’s hard often times seeing it that way.” Orson sighed. “Leastways we won’t be needing to throw in another ‘til November.”

The air of conversation went cold for a few dozen seconds. Staring at the Pit, overlaid by dying rays from the basement window.

“We got a few theories.”

“‘Bout what?” Clyde asked absentmindedly.

“The Pit.”

“Ohh, yeah yeah.”

“Guesses we got? It’s some kind of portal to Hell, an eldritch monster on the wayside of Lovecraft, a manifestation of evil and discontent in this town, or middle-aged unemployed dads have no idea what they’re talking about,” Orson said. Personally my money’s on the second one, but who even cares? Result’s all the same. It’s some shitty, life-sucking sinkhole we do terrible shit to and with, God rest their souls.

“Say, speakin’ o’ unemployed, guess I’ll need to get a job soon. You wouldn’t happen to… y’know. Have a position open?”

Orson narrowed his eyes. “No, and even if I did, you don’t know the first thing about cars. Although… You know about that Pizza Hut down on Twenty-Second?”

“The what?”

“The- ohh right. Yeah, so they opened up a Pizza Hut in town while you were away.”

“No shit?” Clyde asked.

“Yep. One of our guys, he’s a shift manager there, so maybe you could go ask him about that?”

“Mmm, maybe. Man, new pizza place, crazy what all changes in a year.”

Orson’s gaze drifted to the door. “Yeah. Yeah… if only it was all for the better.”

“Uh, question, so y’know how ya dun said to look out for souls or whatever? Is that one o’ them right there?”

Orson followed to where Clyde was pointing and sure enough, there was one right there, fluttering like a little bright ball of… well… not really light. You know how if you close one eye, and leave the other open, you simply don’t see anything out of the closed one? That’s what it looked like. Simply an absence in the fabric of reality. But in any case, it was floating above the Pit like he’d seen a number of times before, so by best assumptions, yeah. Probably a soul.

“Yep, that’ll be one of them. Well hey, that took no time at all! You about ready for your first catch?” Orson asked. Then he realized the obvious problem. “Oh shit, I forgot to train you. Okay, umm, so there’s a crystal mason jar under your chair taped to a stick with a trigger on it. Those are soul catchers. You see?” Orson reached under his chair and produced the ungainly contraption.

“Is that what those are? Man, I was so confused.” Clyde leaned under his seat and grabbed the improvised tool, and they both stood with the things looking like overexcited spear fishermen, which to be honest wasn’t all that far off.

“Well take the lid off first,” Orson chastised.


“No, you’re doing alright. Just don’t smack it in the Pit is all, we leave the lids screwed on and pewter’s pretty much the only thing that makes them fall.”

Clyde did exactly as told, for once in his life. “Okay… now what?”

“Now we get up as close as we can without scuffing the salt, and you just sort of… pull the trigger to snap the cover on it while they’re inside. Simple as that.”

“Alright,” Clyde nodded. “Man it’s really fuckin’ with my eyes.”

“Like I said, you get used to it.”

The two men edged to the Pit’s near edge, at least as far as they could. The problem now was exactly how large, and how far away this particular soul was. Well, ‘soul’. Orson wasn’t entirely convinced that’s what these were, but it’s the terminology the Superiors used, so souls they were. Orson’s well-honed spatial reckoning figured it was about yea far, and he angled the soul catcher appropriately, maneuvering around to the opposite side of Clyde.

“Alright, you ready?”

“I think?”

“Good enough. Aaand one-”

Clyde jabbed out, catching Orson by surprise. He swore as the soul glided back and shot above Clyde’s head like an angry pinball.

“Shit, shit, Clyde what the fuck how dense are you- IT’S OUT OF THE FUCKING CIR- CLYDE, DON’T LET IT FUCKING TOUCH YOU YA RETARD WHY THE FUCK DID YOU SCUFF THE SALT?!?” Complete pandemonium raged in that basement as Orson very quickly realized the severity of the situation.

“I’M SORRY OKA- wait why are we yelling?”

I’M YELLING, AT YOU, BECAUSE YOU’RE A FUCKING IDIOT! NOW CATCH IT BEFORE SOMETHING FUCKED HAPPENS OKAY?? AM I FUCKING CLEAR??” Orson belted out. I do not have time for this shit if even a tenth of the horrific stories about what the hell these are and what they’ve done turn out to be true.

“Uh, uh, uh, crystal sir!” Clyde nodded vigorously.

In the ensuing chaos, the two tried their hardest to corral the sphere of nothing, but it was obviously a losing battle, and only a matter of time before one of them was either hit by the soul or accidentally fell in the pit trying to catch it. Orson considered the pewter sheet he stashed… took a deep breath… and- “CLYDE WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?!? DON’T LET IT OUT!!!”

But it was too late.

Clyde opened the basement window, and it shot out into the night, probably never to be seen again.

“Oh shit, Clyde what have you done?” Orson asked in a rhetorical, yet dread-filled sort of way. Oh my God, the Superiors are going to have my hide nailed to a chalkboard.

“I’m… I’m sorry, I didn’ know what t’ do… is it bad?”

Yes. It is. Do you have… any idea…” Orson started slowly, panting and soaked with sweat. Then he reconsidered his position, came to a more honest and less rage-filled conclusion, and shook his head morosely. “No, I’m sorry, you don’t. This is my fault. I should’ve known. Should’ve got someone else from upstairs.”

“Know what? I’m sorry too. I thought you were gon’ say ‘go’ back there… It’s just as much my fault.” He actually looked regretful, which wasn’t an emotion Orson remembered him showing before.

Orson got to thinking. There was a camera up on top of the bookshelf he set up to watch the room 24/7… the basement was definitely soundproofed… nobody was likely to have seen his absolute fuck-up…

“Okay.” Orson leaned his soul catcher on the bookshelf and nicked his camera off it. “Thank you, I appreciate your honesty and sense of remorse, but we also still have a job to do so here’s what’s gonna happen. You’re gonna help me redraw the salt circle, stack this shit back where it belongs, close that window, and we are never going to speak about this again. EVER. And once this shift’s over I’m gonna loop this footage so no one knows a damn thing. So you get on that right now or so help me God I’m gonna hit you with a spanner, and not one of the little dinky ones.”

Clyde sighed uneasily. “Got it… damn you got cold. What happened to high school you?”

“Six years of occult bullshit, that’s what.” Orson’s eyes flickered to the window, and the rapidly-falling twilight outside.

God, what horrible thing have I unleashed?

“Sweet Caroline! Da-da-daaa, good times never seemed so good!”

Nathan was the happy center of the world. It had just been a long, long day of camping just outside town, hiking and generally enjoying another carefree day with his friends. And honestly, what better way was there to end a day than sitting in a circle around a campfire, treating everyone to a good round of Neil Diamond with roasted marshmallows? None. Maybe Glen Campbell really was onto something. Southern nights are the best.

Except for the heat, that can die in a fire… it’s been a hot summer.

Nathan quickly found himself at the end of his rendition, the sounds of cicadas reasserting themselves amidst the crackling fire. Everything was as it should be, smiles and clapping… except Anna. She just didn’t seem to have the spirit for any of this, but someone had to drive them out here and she was the only one who could, since his parents were out of town until Sunday with the car and no one else knew how to drive. Even then, Nathan still felt ashamed at having to beg her to stay out here all night. In the woods. Even though he knew she had work in the morning.

It was the sort of thoughtless, selfish thing he tried to avoid so much now. Oh well.

“Hey you know,” Sam said, chewing on a blackened marshmallow-on-a-stick, “I think you’re really getting good with that. Also your singing? Daaamn.”

“Thanks. I still got a ways to go, though…”

“Are you kidding me?” Interjected Cheryl. “I wish I could be half as good with a guitar.”

“Yeah, and then what? You’re gonna play anime openings?” Sam snarked.

Cheryl got an interested look, then pulled out her phone. “Now there’s an idea. Hold up, I’m gonna write that down. Learn… guitar… anime…”

“Ahahaha. Oh… so like, is Casey already asleep? I haven’t seen him in a while.”

Cheryl shrugged, not looking up. “I dunno, probably. We’re all gonna need to get to sleep too, like crazy early. Thanks, Anna.”

“Hm? Oh, yeah, I really need to get home and showered and all set up by nine tomorrow, sorry guys.”

“No it’s fine,” Cheryl said. “Today was really fun. Maybe I’ll remember it better if I go to bed sooner anyways, who knows?”

Silence reigned for a moment as the conversation fell into a lull. Nathan fingered at his guitar’s lowest string, and sighed. “Huh. So… any last thing y’all want to do here? A little lights-out game or whatever?”

Sam got a characteristically excited look. “Ooh, ooh, how about… what we’re gonna do after we graduate?”

“What? Seriously? I mean, you’re not even a freshman yet… but okay. If you’re so insistent, go first.”

“Know what I’m gonna do, is welding. It just seems right, you know? I always liked making things, and what’s more kick-ass than metal?” Sam paused for a second. “Also welders make good money.”

“That’s fair. Umm, personally… I don’t really know what I want. Maybe if I had like a list to pull up? Or does starting a band count? What about you, Anna?”

“I always wanted to go to an Ivy League college. Maybe go to MIT and study robotics,” Anna replied.


“Astronomy! I love space, with all my heart. No doubt about it.”

Sam looked at her and grinned. “Ehh, I think you just wanna meet some alien space hunk.”


“Ah come on, admit it, you wanna fuck some aliens. I’ve seen what you’re into.”

“What?! No, no. No!” Cheryl hotly denied, blushing furiously enough to see even against the firelight. “No!”

“You know you wanna.”

“Stop it!” Cheryl huffed. “I’m leaving,” she said, and stood up.

“Aww. Well I guess that means I’m going too.”

“Goddamnit Sam! No!”

Sam rose and dusted himself off. “Relax, I’m not following you… yet.”

Nathan watched the two of them bicker all the way to their respective tents. Casey sure knew how to pick a friend, huh? That left Nathan and Anna alone by the fire. Alone. Anna fished a vape pen from her pocket and smoked it. She didn’t used to do that. Maybe…

“Anna?” She looked up. “Can we… can we talk a bit? Away from here?”

“If you think it’ll do anything,” Anna sighed, blowing a cloud out.

Having been used to this sort of cloak-and-dagger secrecy, unfortunately, they walked into the forest until they were just out of sight and definitely out of earshot from their campsite. Nathan picked out a particularly thick tree on the edge of a small clearing, and they sat down with their backs against it.

“Look, Anna, I’m sorry but are you okay?”

“Depends… do I look okay? Because I haven’t felt okay since forever.” She didn’t, but neither of them pointed out the obvious.

“I know. Since the accident?”

“Obviously.” Anna took another hit from her vape pen. “What else would it be? My pet zebra running away?”

“Sorry, dumb question. I meant anything recently?”

“Other than my dad being a lazy piece of shit as usual? No. I just hate this. All this outside stuff.” She waved her hand nebulously at the darkening sky and the branches above.

“I’m sorry. I know it’s hot and there’s bugs everywhere, but we’re doing it for us. Right?”

Anna blew out a hot stream of vapor. “‘Us’. What, just because I don’t live on the same street and you can’t see me around anymore? Because we had to sell our fucking house and move to an apartment all the way across town to cover an operation that didn’t even fucking save her?” She retorted bitterly. “You don’t have to live with the consequences of someone else’s actions everyday and wonder if everything could’ve turned out differently, wishing your mom kissed you one last time. Life’s a bitch, Nate. Deal with it.”

Nathan… didn’t have a response. Even the thought turned him off from anything else.

“I’m lea- ving… wait, what the fuck is that-“

And everything went white.

Well… not white. More like a nothing that registered as white. Nathan felt like he’d just been hit with a flashbang, but without any ‘flash’ or ‘bang’ to it. He could feel his lips moving, yet couldn’t hear himself. He could feel his eyes were open, but he couldn’t see a thing. Panic welled in his chest as he registered this, but there was nothing he felt he could do but try and hold on to Anna for a sense of something, anything real.

He felt vulnerable. Scared.

Thirty seconds passed in sensory deafness before a muffled ringing flushed through Nathan’s head. He tentatively tested an eye, and found his vision clearing too. Anna was clinging to him with a death grip and sobbing.

“Oh my God oh my God, what…” Anna sniffed and seemed to register herself. “What the fuck was that?”

“I… I uh, I don’t know, I didn’t see anything… fucking hell. D-did you?”

“I don’t… well, maybe, I think I saw a ripple, if that makes sense, like something moving over… there……”

The thing where she pointed at drew the eye better than any spotlight could’ve. It was a medium-ish lump in the previously barren clearing, barely visible from both the late-ish hour and Nathan’s temporary blindness.

“What… what is that?”

“A bomb?”

Anna stared at him with the kind of look usually reserved for slow children. “Are you serious?”

“Girl I have no clue, why are you asking me?” Nathan tried and failed to blink the spots from his eyes, pulled out his phone, turned on the flashlight, and slowly pushed up to his feet. “I’m gonna go look at it.”

“...Nate, that is quite possibly the worst idea you’ve ever had. But I’m not letting you do this by yourself, no way in hell.

Nathan held out a hand. “I’m not stopping you.”

Anna took his hand, stood, and shook her head. “I sure fucking hope not.”

“Well,” Nathan sighed, looking further afield, “here goes nothing. Really hope this doesn’t blow up in my face.”

“Cheers, I’ll drink to that. Oh God.”

Out of habit, they inched silently closer, step by step, Anna practically breathing down Nathan’s neck with every second. He fully expected something terrible to happen, like… well, a lot of things. When they reached what Nathan hoped was just out of whatever radius, he shined his phone’s light on it to reveal a-

“Holy shit it’s like an alien or something!” Anna voiced. “Sam totally called it, oh fuck!”

“Umm… I don’t think an alie-”

“Shut up. Just… just shut up.”

Nathan and Anna stared, in flabbergasted and stunned silence respectively, at the red-jacketed, gray… fluffy thing? Humanoid thing? Alien? Let’s go with entity, lying face-down in the dirt. Then Nathan’s selfless instincts kicked him in the proverbial nuts and told him to go see if it was okay.

“Nate! What the fuck are you doing?” Anna hissed. “Did you just forget what that thing did to us? Come on, let’s just go! We need to like, report this to the FBI or something!”

“Man, I- look, this thing is clearly not okay. I don’t think that thing it did was intentional, otherwise we’d be in some serious trouble, so please. We can’t just leave it here.”

Anna seemed to war with the idea of debating that sentiment, but second-guessed herself. “…Fine. But if this turns out like The Thing, I’m haunting your ass for all eternity.”

“That’s reasonable.”

Nathan stepped all the way forward, crouched above the entity, realized he was being a little too optimistic, and went to go get a stick. Stick acquired, he poked the entity with that. Nothing. He then ranked up to turning it on its side so that it was at least face-up. Also done with the stick, though with a little more difficulty. All the while, Anna watched with increasing apprehension, pessimist she was.

When Nathan did flip the entity, he heard Anna sucked in her breath. It looked remarkably like a cat, which he wasn’t quite sure how to feel about other than way out of his depth. And its, well, probably his clothes, now that Nathan looked a lot harder, were almost quaint in their looks. Aside from the ragged gash going along the entity’s jacket to its right shoulder, that was more concerning than anything. Nathan quickly checked to see if he was cut, but didn’t find anything under it except fur. Also checked was his pulse, which Nathan felt just fine. He sighed in abject relief.

“Okay…” Nathan said unsteadily, “He’s not hurt or anything else. I think. Just unconscious.”

“‘He’? Um.” Anna blinked. “Well shit. Now what?”

“I uh. I guess we should… put him somewhere safe until he wakes. Then… then… well I don’t know. Maybe we can call some kind of authorities?” Nathan shook his head. “God, who expects something crazy like this when they wake up in the morning?”

They slowly locked eyes, and something crossed between them.

“You think Cheryl’d have an idea?” Nathan asked.

“Oh we are absolutely not gonna ask her. Please. Look, this is an experience we both just had. No, no I’m just gonna lock this alien in the back of my car, and we can deal with this in the morning when I’m not having a crisis, okay? Sound good?”

“You know what? Sure. Just please don’t do anything drastic without me?”

“Ah yes. Because I’m really gonna drive off and leave y’all behind in a park with no cell reception.” Anna tsked and lightly prodded the thing with her shoe. “What in fuck’s name. I don’t know if it’s your dumb optimism or I’m having a stroke, but I’m still sleeping in the car with the A/C on.”


Anna sighed. “Fuckin’ gas bill’s gonna kill me. You and your bullshit.” She maneuvered around to the entity’s legs, as it were. “Well? You gonna help carry this thing or what?”

A note from SchroedingersBand

Next episode will be a more normal POV, just wanted to establish our characters for next time.

If you like what you read, please leave a comment, review, and share with your friends, all that.

About the author


  • Central Texas
  • His Majesty, Duke of Starheart By The Grace of God, Baron of Kerrville, Robinson, And Hewitt, Lord Mayor of Waco, Right Honorable Protector of Woodway, Defender of The Holy Land of College Station

Bio: Hang in there!

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FoundForester ago

Not gonna lie I did not see that twist coming. A fantasy character in the normal word is a fun concept. I really want to see a bunch of gruff army types chasing a cat person around why he make quips at there expense.

EuRoboto ago

Edit suggestions:

It was the type of thing tohat giave unexplainable headaches to anyone who looked at it too hard,

It's just this thing doesn't feel right.

Wrote that there book you’re holding there while he was livin’ here

Man, new pizza place, crazy whathow all changes in a year.

She didn’t used to do that.

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