Monday, April 1, 2024

This is Channel Ab3 Episode Eleven: Escape From Pickman's Grove

When an elderly woman's friend is captured by shadows emerging from the darkness, salvation arrives in the form of a mysterious stranger driving a customized Monte Carlo.

Escape From Pickman’s Grove was written by Al Bruno III

It was produced and read by Auravoice

Our unpaid scientific advisor is Adam J Thaxton

The Channel Ab3 theme was written and performed by Rachel F Williams

Episode Artwork was by Moza

Channel Ab3 logo was designed by Antonio G 

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This is Channel Ab3 is distributed and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Sharealike 4.0 International License


Check out this episode!

HIGH ADVENTURE AND LOW HUMOR: Escape From Pickman's Grove


Al Bruno III

Most of the streetlights on Pickman's Grove were broken, and the windows were boarded up. The manhole covers had been pried away from the sidewalks, and the stink that wafted up from them hung in the hot summer air.

Anna walked as quickly as her seventy-year-old legs could carry her, but the sounds were growing closer.

All her friends had warned her to stay away from the town of River City. "It's just not safe for a woman your age," they said, "there are such terrible stories."

The stories were terrible, that much was true: the disappearances and the reports of strange sounds and shadows that stalked the unwary at night. But Anna went just the same. The lure of rare antiques was too much for her to resist. Besides, she'd brought her best friend with her, and Tabitha still had her driver's license and was a master of Tai Chi. What could possibly go wrong?

The answer, of course, was everything. Everything and then some.

She could make out the sounds now, a chorus of snorts and meeps that were growing closer by the second. She risked a look back and saw six shapes loping after her. Their clothes were filthy and torn, their flesh was pale and rubbery.

Her granddaughter Michelle had given her one of those smartphones and an app she could use to get a ride to and from the grocery store anytime. It had worked perfectly in her neighborhood, but what about here? Anna fumbled with it, fighting past the half dozen apps she had left open to get to the one she needed.

More shapes were starting to creep out of every alley and doorway. They began to surround Anna. She grew weak at the knees, tears welled up in her eyes.

This is it. She thought, I am going to die, and no one will ever know what happened.

A jet-black Monte Carlo squealed to a halt in front of her. There were Uber stickers on every window. The passenger door sprung open. "Get in!" a deep voice shouted, "Hurry!"

Anna hurried.

Once she was safely inside, the car door shut all on its own. Anna glanced back and saw dozens of the things, but they stayed back, snarling and meeping with frustration.

"What's your name?"

Startled, she looked to the front of the car and saw the driver was wearing a blue cowl, cape, and red spandex. She tried to answer him, but all that came from her mouth was a stammering noise.

"That's ok," he smiled reassuringly, "you'll feel better once we're out of here."

One of the pallid creatures threw a brick. It bounced off the glass of the rear windshield.

"And speaking of getting out of here..." The Monte Carlo sped away with a squeal of its tires.

A superhero driving a Monte Carlo? Anna thought with disbelief. She knew about superheroes; her home city of Woldercan was

teeming with them, but those heroes flew, ran, or swung from skyscraper to skyscraper. She had never heard of one driving a souped-up Monte Carlo for Uber.

It was ridiculous!

"Who are you?" she asked.

The driver chuckled good-naturedly, "I asked you first."

"Anna," she answered, "Anna Bauer."

"Pleased to meet you, Anna Bauer." he glanced at her in the rearview mirror, "I'm Captain Hero. Maybe you've heard of me?"

"No. Never."

"Oh," the Monte Carlo paused at a red light. "I'm a Local Hero. I keep the population safe from the forces of chaos. It's a bigger job than you might think."

Anna had no idea how to respond to that.

"So," a smartphone was mounted to the dashboard; the masked man poked at the screen purposefully, "Where are you headed?"

"Home," she said.
Captain Hero chuckled again, "And home is?"

Anna gave him the address, and he nodded, "I'll have you there in a jiffy."

Four headlights began to bear down on them. Captain Hero looked in his side-view mirror; his voice was calm with curiosity. "Now, what is this?"

The light still hadn't changed. Anna looked back again and screamed, "It's them! They're coming!"

"Trucks?" the masked man turned in his seat, "Since when do they drive?"

The lights turned green. The Monte Carlo revved its engine and barreled through the intersection with two pickup trucks in hot pursuit. A handful of the monsters had crowded into the rear cab of each. They threw bricks and stones as their vehicles drew closer.

The Monte Carlo took a hard left. "What are they?" Anna asked as she held on for dear life.

"Sewer ghouls," Captain Hero said, "bit of a local problem."

Anna was struggling to get her seatbelt on. She breathed a sigh of relief when it clicked into place. The trucks were getting closer. One mounted the sidewalk and crashed headlong through a pile of abandoned boxes.

"So," he asked, "what were you doing in Pickman's Grove anyway?"

The question stunned her, "Antiquing."

"I see," he nodded, "you can find some great little shops there, great bargains too."

"My friend drove us. Her car was stolen. Then something grabbed her from out of the shadows."

"The poor dear."

One of the trucks was close enough to bump the Monte Carlo. Captain Hero pressed a button on the dashboard, and a stream of liquid squirted out of the back bumper. The truck fishtailed and crashed.

Anna asked, "What did you do?"

"Oil slick," he replied, "but don't worry. I use canola oil. It's better for the environment."

The second truck came roaring up beside them. The sewer ghouls in the back started bashing the car with their homemade weapons. Anna squealed with terror.

Captain Hero said, "Don't worry. I had this Monte Carlo specially augmented. It has weapons, a nitrous oxide injection system, and the sound system will knock your socks off. Let me show you."

Smooth Jazz began to fill the car.

"That's the college station. Professor Hinkley has a show every day from ten to midnight," Captain Hero jerked the wheel, clipping the driver's side tire of the second truck, "after that, this talk radio woman comes on. She calls herself 'Morning Wood'. A bit too edgy for my tastes."

One of the sewer ghouls lept out and landed on the hood of the Monte Carlo just before the truck spun out and crashed sideways into a lamppost.

"By the way, would you like a complimentary energy drink? There's a cooler to your left. Mind the clearly labeled specimen jars. They're for a case I'm working on."

"No, thank you," she said.

The ghoul on the hood clawed at the windshield and spat. With a push of a button, Captain Hero sent windshield washer fluid spraying into its eyes. It howled and tumbled from the car.

Anna cleared her throat, "I've never heard of a... person with your lifestyle doing this for a living."

"Well, being a caped crusader doesn't pay the bills like it used to," Captain Hero explained. "So, this way, I get to make a living, set my own hours, and defend truth, justice, and the American Way."

A new vehicle careened out of a nearby garage. The wide, bulky, almost-tractor-like shape had a feral-looking man in a tuxedo behind the wheel. Captain Hero stared at his rearview mirror in wide-eyed shock. "Is that a Zamboni?"

The Zamboni fired a rocket, the blast missing the back of the Monte Carlo by inches. The nearby explosion was enough to momentarily launch the Monte Carlo into the air. It soared along for two seconds, then touched down onto two wheels. It rolled like that for a few yards, then dropped back onto its four tires.

Captain Hero shook his head ruefully, "Where are they getting this stuff?"

Anna was starting to feel carsick and airsick all at once, "They don't have any more rockets do they?"

"Sadly, in my experience, these things come in pairs." A blinding flash filled the rearview mirror, "Speak of the devil."

He hit the brakes and twisted the steering wheel, the car spun in a semi-circle. The rocket sailed past the Monte Carlo to impact the side of a long abandoned Burger Clown restaurant. The structure crumpled and began to burn.

"For years I've wanted to chase these creeps out of the tunnels, but they got a lawyer and set up all kinds of restraining orders," Captain Hero explained, "something about squatters' rights."

Now, they were facing the speeding Zamboni. Captain Hero slammed his foot on the accelerator and charged straight at the vehicle. Anna's stomach clenched, the Zamboni's headlights flared, and the music of John Coltrain gently caressed their ears.

At the last second, the Zamboni driver turned away, his vehicle hitting the curb and toppling over onto its side. The tuxedoed ghoul shook its fist at them as they sped away.

The rest of the drive to Woldercan was uneventful. Anna spent most of the time trying to figure out what she was going to say to Tabitha's bridge partner.

The car finally slowed to a stop in front of Anna's house. Captain Hero checked his phone and said, "That will be $28.50."

"What?" Anna said, more confused than upset.

"Sorry ma'am it's surge rates right now."

Anna pressed the button on her app to pay for the trip. "I'm on a fixed income. I hope a fifteen percent tip is ok."

"Every little bit helps," He got out of the car, slid across the hood, and opened the passenger door. He gently took her hand as she got out, "Although truth be told, keeping nice people like you from being subjected to unspeakable rituals and then being eaten alive is its own reward."

"Is that what was going to happen to me?" Anna looked at her phone, wondering how to increase the gratuity to twenty percent.

His dashboard-mounted cell phone chimed, and he glanced at it. "Hmmm looks like a couple of joggers have been cornered by an angry night-gaunt. Talk about a ticklish situation."

"What is a-"

The man in red spandex leaped into the Monte Carlo with a flourish of his blue cape. The tires squealed as he sped away. Anna put her hands to the sides of her head; this had been the strangest night of her life.

The Monte Carlo's tires shrieked in protest as the vehicle sped back to her in reverse. The masked avenger poked his head out the driver's side window and said, "Oh, and if you liked your service I'd appreciate a five-star review. It really helps."

Anna nodded, "I'll get my granddaughter to help me."

And then, with a thumbs up, a cloud of dust, and a hearty "Captain Hero AWAAAAAAAAYYYYYY!" he was gone.