Oregon, Missouri

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic
A family, on a road trip to Branson, stumble upon a town called Oregon, Missouri, and nothing will be the same.

Submitted: July 21, 2008

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Submitted: July 21, 2008

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Oregon, Missouri

Day 1

12: 30

“Did you see that, Harold?” Susan had her head turned around, peering at the monstrosity they passed on the road. They had just passed the Missouri State Sign (The Show Me State!) and were headed to Branson, where Harold's parents took residence. Their children, Eddie, Zach, and Polly, had the opinion that only the “golden oldies” lived in Branson, which Harold scoffed at. Eddie, the youngest of the children, barked up in one of his many voices,

YES-SUM I DID! I DID SEE ONE MANGLED UP CAT ON THOU ROAD! LOOKIN' MIGHTY DARN TASTY THUR, IF I SAY SO MYSELF!” After this “Eddie-ism” (Adoringly referred to by Polly, and caught on to the rest of the family,) Harold said through gritted teeth,

Eddie, we barely passed through the border of Missouri and already you've had two Eddie-Isms! Sit down, and DIDN'T I TELL YOU TO BUCKLE UP?!” Eddie immediately slid into his seat and latched the seatbelt on. Polly, observing this all through her half-open eyes, thought to herself, another fun filled trip with the two doofuses and two dweeb parents, how fun! She turned up her Ipod even louder, trying to drown out the normal family squabble. At least Zach is somewhat normal. Zach was 10, and was deeply engrossed in one of his Goosebump books. Eddie was 7, and had ADD. Polly had her own saying for it: A Deranged Dingleberry. Polly herself was 16, and obviously the oldest. She didn't care for reading much, except if it was for one of her 17 or Cosmopolitan magazines. Zach was the only child who didn't have to be dragged to read a book on his own free time. Which was very ironic, because Harold Quint was a national-bestselling author. He wrote small novels back when Zach was just 4 years old, and Polly was 10. The critics deemed him “Too conservative,” or “Nice, but doesn't have that pageturning aspect.” He got so frustrated that he gave up writing for a while.

While taking a walk down Great Bear Dr. in their hometown of Valentine, NE., he saw a ran-over bird that was still barely alive. It looked like a Blue Jay to him, but he was no bird expert. The bird's eyes had that light in animal's eyes that showed when they were on the brink of death. It made Harold think about looking up to the surface of the ocean while underwater, and seeing the sun barely sparkle on the surface, while you keep plummeting down and down, to where no light was at, just like this dying bird before him. Two kids across the street, Hedden and Hedda, both twins of the opposite sex, stared at the mangled bird, their mouths hanging open, comprehending death maybe for the first time. The early Autumn night was drawing to a close, and red dusky light lit up the blue jay's coat, setting it ablaze. It still squeaked, obviously in pain. Hedda turned tail and headed back into her house, crying “Momma! Momma!”, leaving Hedden staring gape-mouthed. “It's ok son, head on home now.” Hedden nodded and followed his identical sister.

What should I do with it? Whenever an animal died in their house, mainly spiders, Susan would scream at him to pick it up with the broom and pail. But he didn't have those here with him at the current moment. The bird did another heart-wrenching squabble, as if it were saying, hurry it up please. I'm dying here.

I know, just give me a second here!” He pondered, having no idea what to do. He was so lost in his thought he didn't see the neighborhood troublemaker, Billy Simon, speed on down the street, hollering “HERE I COME BIRDIE! GONNA SEND YA TO BIRDIE HEAVEN!” The front wheels scrunched the bird's head, ending mid-squeak. The sound reminded Harold of someone twisting and breaking loose hay. The back wheels added the touch that meant so much, squirting blood over the spokes on his wheels. Well, problem solved, Harold thinks. He went back to his home and wrote a novel feverishly about a serial killer that killed children and stuffed their mouths with different kinds of birds. It became the #1 New York Times Bestseller.

Harold!”Susan said in that nagging housewife voice of hers. He jerked his head towards her. “What?”

She laughed. “Had a new novel idea? Well if you didn't, mind answering the question I asked earlier?”What question? Harold thinks.

Oh you forgot, haven't you? Well just forget it.” She returns back to her newspaper, the Omaha World Herald they picked up at a 7-11 they found in Omaha. Their marriage was becoming steadily rockier, ever since Susan had an abortion on their fourth child, her excuse being that she wasn't “Ready for a new child at this point in her life.”Polly was especially damaged by this news, and would then only talk to both of her parents only if she absolutely had to. She often had thoughts about ending her life, just like the unborn child in Mom's stomach. Don't we end up in the same place anyway? Rather sooner then later! The closest she ever got to suicide was her first time cutting her wrists with a razor, which hit an artery and started almost uncontrollable bleeding. Just like a red fountain, was her last thought before passing out. She got taken to an emergency room and eventually healed. Both of her parents would not talk to her for about a week after that incident. This happened about a month ago.

Hey Zach, what you reading?” Eddie asked. Him and Zach were inseparable, even though they were two exact opposites. Zach had his mom's brown hair and blue eyes, while Eddie got his dad's brown hair and brown eyes, same as Polly. Zach looked up from his book and said,

Eddie, you and the rest of the whole car knows what I'm reading. Can you PUH-LEEZE be quiet for a SECOND?” Eddie looked abash at this.

Why is everyone AGAINST me today?” He grabbed his pillow and buried his face deep into it. Up in the front passenger seat Susan did a silent laugh at her husband, who did the same. Why couldn't I be born into a more normal family? Polly thinks to herself. She flips on her sunglasses (I have no idea why she does that, Susan always says), and drowses off into uneasy sleep that always comes with long car rides.

1:45

Polly got startled out of her sleep by a big pothole that the front tire ran over. She flipped her sunglasses back up and tried to reawaken out of her drowsiness. She looked over at her two brothers who were both asleep, Zach using Eddie's back as a pillow. This brought a faint and rare smile to her lips, and she then focused her attention to her parents up front. Susan had a pillow propped up against the windowpane, her light snores breaking the quiet inside the car. Harold was of course awake, staring intently at the road through his spectacles. Polly rubbed the sleep out of her eyes and asked, “How long do you think it is until Branson?”

Probably 6 or 7 hours, give or take.” He saw the look in her eyes and laughed.

Don't worry, we're gonna be taking a little lunch break up here in a little town called Oregon, Missouri. Funny name for a town huh?” Polly laughed.

I thought Oregon was a state.”

Lots of cities have funny names. Did you know there's a city in Pennsylvania called Intercourse?” Harold turned around to look at her expression, and what he saw there made him bust out in laughter. Polly's face wore the expression every teenager's gets when they hear their parents say a sexual word.

Dad!”Harold turned back to the road.

Just stating the facts dear.”

I suppose so, but you could've said a different city other than...Intercourse, Pennsylvania!”

What, you think I don't know about that kind of stuff? How do you think you and your brothers got made, huh?” Polly mimicked barfing between her legs. Susan couldn't hold her act together and busted out laughing, her laugh that sounded so much like a trilling bird. Harold turned to her in that mock shock expression on his face that made everyone in the family crack up.

Have you been listening in to our whole conversation, young lady?” Susan nodded the way a little girl who got caught stealing cookies out of the cookie jar who got forced to answer to the parent asking.

BAD GIRL!”Harold playfully slapped her on the arm. Both parents broke up laughing now. Polly rolled her eyes but couldn't keep in her laughter either. Eddie woke up, rubbed his hands across his eyes, and asked,

What is so funny about Intercourse?”

2:15

“There Dad, there's Oregon!” Eddie pointed to a sign coming up that exclaimed

OREGON, MISSOURI

1 MILE

on the right of the road. “Can we stop at McDonald's and get a hamburger with fries? Oh and a Coke! Daddy please!”Behind them was a dark red van with CUMING4U exclaiming on the license plate. Polly just noticed this and it drove goosebumps up and down her arms. Probably just some teenagers trying to get scares out of people. But then two things happened that made her question that thought. She realized the driver's glass was absolutely tinted to the point where you couldn't see the driver, and when her dad turned on the blinker the dark red van did the same.

Yes of course Eddie! Just hold your horses ok?”Harold said. Polly returned to her proper sitting position and tried to block the van out of her mind. Why are you being so scared Polly, huh? Do you honestly think people driving a van could do that much harm to you? It's probably a family anyway, just like us!

Yeah, a family with CUMING4U on the license plate. Get real Polly.

Zach, do you want anything at McDonald's?” Susan asked.

Um, just a small fry with a small Sprite, please.” Polly felt sorry for him sometimes. Him being the middle child, and being really quiet most of the time while his other two siblings were loud and obnoxious must make him feel really alone at times. This sudden thought made her put an arm around him and give him a small hug. Zach recoiled, looking at his sister as though she were a tiny bug crawling up his leg.

What was that for?”But he said it with a smile.

Well you're my little baby brother! Am I not allowed to give you hugs or something?” Susan said to her husband, “Kids. One minute they're fighting, and the next hugging. Were we ever their age, Harold?”

I don't know honey, I'm trying to find a McD's.” Susan rolled her eyes exactly like Polly's and said, “Always the listener.”

You picked a real winner Mom.”Polly said with a brief laugh at the end. Harold looked in the rear view mirror at her and made a cutting gesture across his throat. Polly gasped.

Did you see that Mom? Your own husband and father of your children is threatening to kill your only daughter!”

You're all going to be dead if you all don't SHUT UP!” Harold screamed. There was a small pause and everyone busted out laughing, even Zach. Meanwhile the red van pursued them through the streets of Oregon, Missouri, the driver and the passengers hidden under shadow.

2:45

“Mom, why do we always go to Grandma and Grandpa's during July?” Eddie asked over a mouthful of hamburger. They had found a McDonald's overlooking the highway that ran on down the Missouri border. A residential neighborhood was behind them, and the Missouri forests devoured the land behind that. It was only Eddie, Zach, Polly, and Susan at the table, because Harold was at a gas station filling up their Ford Taurus. The sky above them was cloudy, pregnant with rain. The world around them seemed still, the calm before the storm. The red van wasn't seen by Polly, which soothed her nerves.

Honey, it's just some sort of weird family tradition. You like your grandparent's, don't ya?”Eddie made some unintelligible noise and took a sip from his Sprite. Zach got some sort of pie and was moodily picking at it. Polly was observing this through a magazine (Cosmopolitan) she brought on the trip. She opened her mouth to ask if he wanted anything else when a roll of thunder rumbled outside ominously. Eddie did a fake scream which made the teenage couple next to them look at them in distaste.

EDDIE, SHUT UP! YOU ALWAYS TRY TO PUT ON SOME SORT OF SHOW WHENEVER THERE'S PEOPLE AROUND BUT IT'S GETTING REAAAALY ANNOYING!” Zach screamed. Susan looked around uncomfortably. They had the whole place's attention. Polly gaped. Zach NEVER had outbursts like that. She tried to remember the last time he showed emotion like this, but couldn't.

Um, why don't we get your dad and blow this pop stand, what do you say guys?”Susan offered. Zach nodded with enthusiasm.

After dropping off his family at McDonald's, Harold was pumping his car full of gas. He didn't know why they couldn't fill up the whole car back in Valentine, but Susan insisted that having less gas will force them to see more sights along the way, a new twist to the mundane. Remembering this Harold rolled his amber brown eyes, while the price went steadily up.

Pretty soon there's going to be no more gas left in this world.

The gas station, a 7-11, was to the right of McDonald's, where his family was currently at. He felt bad for feeling so, but sometimes he wished Eddie wouldn't have existed at all. He could get on your nerves SO MUCH, and you couldn't help but feel like slapping him upside the head every now and then. No matter his same physical features as himself. Zach, meanwhile, had his inner qualities, a bookworm in other words. He was also quiet and reserved, and kept all of his feelings to himself. Contrary to Eddie's frequent outbursts, Harold respected that so much. Zach was almost a perfect child to him. Polly was the in between child for him, not too quiet, yet not too loud. He remembered when she used to be such a happy child, playing dolls with her best friend Emma (She would always call Polly Poll-la-la-la-olie!), going swimming at their neighborhood pool Coco Cove, coloring pictures of Hello Kitty, among other things. Then when she reached the age of about 12 she lost interest in those things, becoming more interested in boys and the latest fashions. She became Mommy's little girl, not Daddy's. He had a memory of her coming home from school one day, her luscious brown hair falling down her back, setting her backpack down on the La-Z-Boy and saying to her mom, who was making dinner in the kitchen, “Mom, I'm growing BOOBS! Now all of the boys will like me!” Susan started laughing her birdlike laugh, but Harold sat there with his newspaper in front of him, suddenly realizing that Polly was not his little girl anymore, she was growing up into a woman now. That thought scared him so much, and sometimes kept him up at night, wondering what he will do after she is gone.

His thoughts took a momentary backseat as thunder shouted his voice across the landscape. He jumped a little, and the pump signaled that it fulfilled its task of filling up the car completely. He looked at the price (Around 70 buckaroos,) and Harold shook his head in disbelief.

What is this world coming to?

He put the gas pump back in its cradle and turned to go to the clerk inside when he first spotted the red van parked at the curb across from him. He was halfway across the pavement to the 7-11 when he stopped in his tracks. While the world around him had a sodden gray quality to it, the van seemed to spring out at him, like a rose in a junkyard. The sleek headlights resembled feline eyes to him, and he got a sudden feeling that wherever he moved, those eyes would follow, just like what his 9th grade teacher Mr. Ponnytalem said about the Uncle Sam posters. He envisioned Uncle Sam behind the wheel of that alien vehicle, perhaps pointing at him with his finger, saying You're Next. Adrenaline flooded his mouth, that coppery feeling filling his mouth as he remembered a story he read called The Regulators. Vehicles very much like this one suddenly opened fire on an unsuspecting neighborhood in Ohio and obliterated houses and people. He got a real kick out of that story, although it looks like it came back to bite him in the ass, didn't it?

Stop thinking like that. Nothing is going to happen...where is everyone?

He looked around at the neighborhood, and saw NO cars, NO people, NO animals. He didn't even hear the distant noise of an engine! Only that red van, seeming to peer into his mind. He finally snapped free of his dreamlike state and strolled into the 7-11, the bell tinkling overhead. He looked around, and what he saw comforted him a little bit.

There was a teenage girl standing at the register, twirling her blonde hair between her fingers, popping pink bubblegum that echoed in the dead silence that seemed to ensue over the entire town. She smiled and waved to him. Harold returned the same. He brought his wallet out of his back pocket and showed her his visa card.

I want 70 dollars on pump #4, if it please ya.”She laughed and took his card.

Don't sound like you're around from these parts, mister...?”

Harold. And no I'm not exactly around here, although I live in a sister state. And may I ask you your name?”

She finished calculating the total and gave him back his card.

Holly. Holly Gresham.” He gaped at her for a split second, and then burst into hysterics. Holly gave him a questioning look.

I never knew the utterance of the word Holly brought out that reaction in people. Or is it my last name Gresham? I know it sounds like something a hick family would eat for dinner.”

Oh no, it's just that my daughter's name is Polly. Just a weird, random coincidence. Well have a lovely day, Holly.” She gave him a dazzling smile.

Thanks, and you the same. Although you might want to hurry to get on your way, because...”

A dreadful siren broke out over the town. He heard people scream outside, and they sounded dreadfully familiar. He ran to the plate glass window and saw his family halfway between McDonald's and 7-11 stop in their tracks and look around in confusion. He tried to open the door but for some odd reason it wouldn't give. He turned to the left to look at Holly.

What the hell is going on here? Let me out so I can go to my family!” The siren went on blatting. Holly's gorgeous blue eyes widened.

YOUR FAMILY'S OUT THERE?! YELL AT THEM TO DUCK UNDER SOMETHING BEFORE THE POLICE GET THEM!”

Out of the corner of his eye he saw the red van starting to move.


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