Robert Wilson and the Refrigerator of Doom 11

The pizza was ordered, delivered, and consumed before Robert finished his account, mostly due to the fact that Rebbecca interrupted often with questions or requests for clarification. Far from being annoyed, Robert found himself enjoying her quick and inquisitive wit. Indeed, he found himself enjoying every aspect of being in her company.

When Robert had finished, Rebbecca leaned back in her armchair and regarded Robert thoughtfully. After a time, she said, “There’s still something about all this that bothers me.”

“Oh? What’s that?”

“Where the hell were the rest of the people? Are you seriously telling me that eleven go-carts engaged an animated refrigerator in the middle of the street on Saturday in the late afternoon, and nobody raised a fuss?”

“I had wondered about that, too,” said Robert. “But from what I saw, people just seemed to ignore them for some reason. And they ignored me, too, when I was with them.”

Rebbecca shrugged. “Perhaps it’s something to do with the magic that surrounds them,” she said.

A silence fell, one which lasted for a while. It was not a loaded silence; it was simply that neither Robert nor Rebbecca felt the need to put words into the air. They sat together in the house of Rebbecca Smith. Robert would have been perfectly content if it hadn’t been for his injuries. Comfortable silences aren’t nearly so pleasant when you’ve got a freshly broken nose.

Suddenly, Rebbecca sat up in her chair. “I just thought of something,” she said. “Do you still have the heart of Crutchford?”

“Yeah.” Robert dug it out and handed it to her.

“Now, you say you just touched it to the ice and I was free, right? The work of the monster was undone?”

“That’s right.”

Rebbecca took the heart over to the front door and touched it to her broken window. There was a poof and some mist which, when dispersed, revealed Rebbecca’s front door completely mended. It was as though it had never been broken.

“Sweet,” said Robert. “I’ll use that on my window at home.”

“I’ve got a better idea,” said Rebbecca, moving to sit next to Robert on the couch. “Don’t move,” she said, and touched the heart to the tip of Robert’s nose. Again there was a poof and some mist, and Robert’s face was healed.

Robert smiled, quite pleased that the pressure and pain in his nose was gone. Then he noticed Rebbecca.

She was sitting close to him, with her face somewhat close to his. He could feel the warmth of her body. He could smell her. Her left knee was touching his right knee.

Their eyes met, and it was that kind of eye-meeting, the kind with electricity that passes back and forth until both parties are emotionally and physically alert.

Rebbecca didn’t break the connection when she spoke. “You know,” she said, “it’s well documented that when people are thrust into dangerous or exciting circumstances, they’re more inclined to become romantically involved than they otherwise might be.”

Robert moved a little closer, and so did Rebbecca. “Oh?” he said.

“Yes. Most relationships that form under such circumstances disintegrate when those circumstances are removed from the equation.”

Closer. “Mm,” said Robert.

“So it would be unwise of us to become romantically involved with one another, what with the day’s adventures. We should get to know each other better first.”

“You think so?” said Robert. Now they were very close indeed. Robert put his arms around Rebbecca’s waist. She put her arms around his shoulders.

“And it hardly needs to be said that just jumping into bed could simply be disastrous,” whispered Rebbecca. Robert could feel the play of her breath on his lips as she spoke.

“But we’re totally going to, aren’t we?” he whispered.

“Yep,” whispered Rebbecca.

That night, Robert Wilson and Rebbecca Smith had hesitant, first-time-with-a-new-person sex in Rebbecca’s queen-size bed. That isn’t to say it wasn’t pleasant, but the sex they had the next morning was much better.

That day was Sunday, and they went out to breakfast together early enough to beat the church crowds. Later that same day, Rebbecca accompanied Robert when he went shopping for a new refrigerator.

As the days and months wore on, their relationship blossomed, and did not fall victim to the scenario that Rebbecca had warned of on that fateful Saturday evening.

A few years down the line, they decided to get married. However, the question of whose house to live in was never settled. Each house had its own merits and flaws. In the end, they decided to keep their separate houses, reasoning that the strength of their relationship was not contingent on their degree of proximity.

Each year on the anniversary of Crutchford’s death, they would get out the monster’s heart from its box in the closet, and take a moment to remember the evil being whose actions had brought them together.

The End.
Story Info

Robert Wilson and the Refrigerator of Doom 10

“Yeah,” said Portman. “I told them all about the thug that broke into your house, roughed you up, threw beer cans all over the place, and stole your refrigerator. It’s a good thing Rebbecca is out of town, or she might have gotten hurt, too.” Mr. Portman gave Robert a conspiratorial wink.

Robert did his best not to allow an exuberant grin of relief to break across his face. For the most part, he was successful.

The interview with the police did not take long. Robert explained that he didn’t get a good look at his attacker because he was dozing when he was hit. The police explained that they couldn’t do much without a description of the suspect, but asked for a description of the refrigerator just in case. They also advised Robert to watch the classifieds for the next few weeks to see if his refrigerator went up for sale. In that event, he was to contact the police immediately. Robert assured them he would. He thanked the officers, who took their leave.

After they’d gone, Robert turned back to the Portmans’ house. Mr. Portman was sitting on the front porch, waiting. Robert joined him.

“Thanks for covering for me,” said Robert.

“No problem,” said Mr. Portman. “To tell you the truth, I called the cops on you. But then I saw the refrigerator running around before they showed up, and I knew you were on the level. Sorry I wasn’t as helpful as I could have been.”

Robert waved off the apology. “You couldn’t have known,” he said.

Mr. Portman got up and opened the door. “Rebbecca’s still frozen in the kitchen. Want to see her?”

“Very much.”

They went in. When they got to the kitchen, Mrs. Portman was there, sipping what appeared to be a whiskey and eyeing the frozen pillar that lay on the floor. Robert knelt beside it. He dug in his pocket for the heart of Crutchford and touched it to the hoary surface. There was a loud poof and a cloud of mist burst from the surface of the ice. It dissipated in seconds, and when it was gone, there lay Rebbecca, warily looking around the room.

“Jesus, how the hell did you do that?” said Mr. Portman in wonder.

Rebbecca’s eyes spared Mr. Portman a glance before settling on Robert. “What happened? Where am I?” she demanded.

“We’re in Portman’s kitchen,” said Robert. “As to what happened, that’s a long story.”

“Are we safe?” asked Rebbecca.

“Yes,” Robert replied. “Crutchford– that is, the refrigerator– is no longer a threat.”

Rebbecca sat up, massaging her arms and legs as if trying to bring them to life. “Long story or not, I want to hear it,” she said.

Mr. and Mrs. Portman exchanged glances. “Um, I think Ellen and I don’t want to hear it,” said Mr. Portman. “If the fridge is gone, I’m satisfied. I’d like to forget most of today ever happened.”

“Fair enough,” said Robert. He and Rebbecca exchanged pleasantries with the Portmans and then were shown to the door, not unkindly. They made their way down the walk to the main sidewalk. There they paused and looked at each other. Evening shadows were falling.

“You really do look bad,” said Rebbecca finally. “Maybe you should go to the hospital or something.”

Robert shrugged. “I’ll go see a doctor tomorrow. Right now I really want to tell you about my day.”

“Alright. I definitely want to hear it. Why don’t we go to my place, order a pizza, and you can tell me things.”

Next episode
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Robert Wilson and the Refrigerator of Doom 9

One by one, the king freed the remaining four riders. Then he returned to his go-cart, behind which the newly liberated riders had assembled.

The king tossed the heart to Robert, who caught it in one hand and felt suave. “You have need of that, I think,” said the king. “Simply touch it to her icy prison, and your maiden fair will be free.”

“Actually, I kind of doubt she’s a virgin,” said Robert.

“That’s as may be,” replied the king tersely. “We have a certain manner of speech. To us, Rebbecca Smith is your maiden fair, and you are her champion.”

“Don’t you think that’s a little archaic?” said Robert. “Not to mention demeaning to Rebbecca.”

The king frowned, considering. “I never gave it much thought,” he said at last, “but I can see how one might reach that conclusion. Very well. You may use the heart of Crutchford to rescue Rebbecca, the woman you like, from her icy prison.”

“Thanks,” said Robert.

“It is we who owe you thanks. You have done us a great service today, Robert Wilson. Without your help, Crutchford would have been the victor.”

“It was your plan,” said Robert, shrugging. “All I did was use the drone you provided. I’m surprised you didn’t just use the drone yourself.”

The king smiled. “Ah, but how would we have done that?” He held up his hands, fingers spread. “We are eleven. Our hands are not big enough to activate the drone one-handed, and we would be quite unable to tag Crutchford while driving. And if we attempted to use the drone while stationary or on foot, Crutchford would surely have been able to imprison any of us before we would have a chance to tag him. No, your participation was essential, and the Go-cart King thanks you.”

Robert bowed his head in acknowledgement.

“Ride!” shouted the king, and with engines roaring, they were gone in seconds. Robert wondered if he would ever see the Perpetually Eleven again.

At the moment, however, he had more pressing matters to attend to. Checking the street signs to get his bearings, he took off at a quick jog on the shortest route back to his house. Or, more to the point, back to Portman’s house. He stuck to the sidewalks, deeming it unwise to go back the way he’d come, through yards and flowerbeds. He was in a hurry, but it wasn’t a matter of life and death. It wasn’t worth enraging suburban gardeners.

As he turned the corner onto his street, he saw a police cruiser pulled up in front of Portman’s house. A chill ran over him. What were they doing? What had Portman told them? And most importantly, what was the status of Rebbecca Smith?

Robert slowed to a brisk walk so as not to appear suspicious. As he drew nearer, he saw that Mr. Portman was in his front yard talking to two uniformed police officers. Mr. Portman noticed Robert and called out. The police officers turned to regard him.

“I told them everything,” said Mr. Portman grimly as Robert reached speaking distance.

“Did you?” said Robert, preparing for the worst.

Next episode
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Robert Wilson and the Refrigerator of Doom 8

The dismantler drone was not quiet, and Crutchford heard it coming. The go-carts seemingly forgotten, he turned to face the approaching doom. “No!” he screamed in frustration and fear. Flicking open his refrigerator door, Crutchford flung a jar of mayonnaise at the hurtling drone. The jar connected, splattering mayonnaise everywhere, but the drone was only momentarily knocked off course. Again it made straight for its target. “No!” Crutchford screamed again in rising panic. He opened his door once more, this time throwing a Tupperware container of Robert’s mother’s Jello salad. The Jello missed its mark, and the drone shot straight past it and into the refrigerator. The door slammed closed. “No,” said Crutchford again, this time in despair. It was the last thing he was to say.

Seconds later, the refrigerator collapsed in a pile of its own components and foodstuffs, leaving the dismantler drone hovering in mid-air above it. After a few seconds, the drone alighted next to the pile and shut itself off.

Robert walked out into the street to inspect the remains. The king and the five remaining riders drove slowly forward. They stopped in a line facing the heap that had been Crutchford. The six exchanged glances, and then the king began to sing. After a few seconds, the others joined in, and their voices rose in harmony.

The language was not one Robert recognized. Nor was the melody. But it was the most haunting music, and the most beautiful boy’s choir, that Robert had ever imagined. He was transfixed by it. All too soon, the singing was finished.

“That was amazing,” said Robert in awe. The king acknowledged the compliment with a nod. “What was it for?” asked Robert.

“We were honoring our fallen foe,” the king replied.

“Honor?” cried Robert indignantly. “For Crutchford? But he was a monster.”

The king regarded Robert coolly for a few seconds before speaking. “It is true that our values were incompatible with those of Crutchford,” he said. “However, to our mind, his prowess in battle and his dedication to his principles cannot and should not be overlooked. He was our sworn enemy long before you met him. To be blunt, we know more about him than you, and we will bestow honor as we see fit.”

Robert was crestfallen. “Forgive me,” he said. “I meant no offense.”

“Of course you’re forgiven,” said the king. “It is not surprising that we see things differently, being so different.” The king then turned his attention to the other riders. “Gather the remains of Crutchford,” he commanded. “Each of you must take an equal measure and bury them in the far corners of our realm. Take the drone with you and return it to our fortress, but leave me the heart. Go.”

The riders obeyed the king’s commands in silence as he and Robert looked on. Each rider produced a canvas sack from somewhere and filled it with refrigerator components. Then the larger pieces were distributed and strapped to the backs of their go-carts. The food they left in the street. When all of the parts were collected, the riders sped off down the street and out of sight.

The king climbed out of his go-cart and walked to the spot where Crutchford had fallen. He reached down amongst the garbage, and Robert noticed for the first time a metal box lying there, half-covered by a head of lettuce. The king picked it up. It was about three inches on a side and was studded and pocked here and there with bolts and screws.

“That’s the heart of Crutchford?” said Robert.

“Indeed,” replied the king.

“But why?”

“Only by the heart of a monster can a monster’s evil be mended,” said the king solemnly. “Watch and see.”

So saying, the king went to the nearest block of ice and touched it with the heart of Crutchford. There was a loud poof and a quickly dissipating cloud of white mist, and the rider was free.

Robert’s heart soared with hope to witness it.

Next episode
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Robert Wilson and the Refrigerator of Doom 7

The trip across the Bridge of Time was surprisingly mundane, if a little unnerving. From the foot of the bridge, the steepness and height appeared moderate but manageable. From the back of the king’s go-cart on the bridge itself, the steepness was alarming, the height dizzying. Robert clung to the go-cart for dear life and was quite unable to enjoy the excellent view and the cool, bracing air. Fortunately, it was soon over, and the bridge deposited Robert and the Perpetually Eleven in the street in front of Robert’s house.

The king slowed enough that Robert could jump off and then sped away with his riders. “Guard your back, Robert Wilson,” the king called over his shoulder. Robert ran to find a place where he could do just that.

Robert had a spot in mind. In the back of his house, where the house joined the garage, there was a corner he could stand in that would protect him from rear and flank attacks. Robert ran there, wedged himself into the corner, and waited for the signal.

Robert had asked what the signal would be. “You’ll know it when you hear it, I suspect,” the king had said. “Crutchford’s attack has a distinctive sound, as I’m sure you’re aware. What’s more, the sound carries for miles. When you hear it, you’ll know that we have engaged the fiend. You can then find us and use the dismantler drone to dispatch him.”

“But what if he finds me before you find him?” Robert asked.

“Then you will have to be quick with the drone,” the king replied.

Remembering those words, Robert held the drone in shaking hands and nervously fingered the controls. Again and again, he went over in his mind the king’s instructions on how to use it. Robert was resolved in what he felt was his duty to destroy Crutchford, but he feared his abilities would fail him.

It was with these troubling thoughts that he waited. He did not have long to ponder them, however, for after only a few minutes, he heard the shrill roar of Crutchford’s attack. It seemed to be just a few blocks away. All thoughts of hesitation or apprehension were shed from Robert like water. He knew what he had to do, and he was going to do it. For Rebbecca. For the Go-cart King. For the world. He headed out from his fortified position at a run.

Thrice more came the sound of Crutchford’s attack, and thrice was Robert able to make course corrections as he careened through yards, over fences, and across ditches and flower beds in his pursuit.

At last, as he came out from between two houses, he saw them. Crutchford stood in the middle of the street with his back to Robert, turning menacingly this way and that as the riders of the Perpetually Eleven harried him. Four of the riders were frozen in frosty blocks of ice. As Robert watched, Crutchford attacked again and imprisoned a fifth.

“Bastard,” Robert muttered under his breath. “Take this.” So saying, he activated the dismantler drone. A green beam shot out from the black metal sphere in Robert’s hand. Robert trained the beam on Crutchford and released the button. Crutchford was tagged. The drone hummed to life in Robert’s hand and then flew from him and straight towards Crutchford.

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Robert Wilson and the Refrigerator of Doom 6

The instant Robert was securely aboard the go-cart, the king took off at terrible speed. It was all Robert could do to hang on as the go-cart careened down the street with Robert perched on the back like a monkey, his eyes streaming in the wind.

Such was their pace that soon they drew even with the rest of Perpetually Eleven (minus Armstrong and Liddle). Once reunited, the pack stayed together for the remainder of the journey.

They kept mainly to the streets, with the occasional shortcut through an alley or parking lot. Robert soon lost all sense of direction as they made their way through the abandoned streets and buildings of the Go-cart King’s realm.

After perhaps twenty minutes, they arrived at a cul-de-sac from which rose the delicate arch of what could only be described as a fairy tale bridge. It led up and over the surrounding houses and descended perhaps a football field’s distance away. Its length was delicately figured white marble with gold railings and trim. It was the most beautiful structure Robert had ever seen, and he knew it could only be the Bridge of Time.

Climbing off of the king’s go-cart, Robert moved closer to the foot of the bridge to investigate. “Step not upon it,” the king warned. Robert nodded in acknowledgement. As he drew nearer, he was impressed anew by the lure of the bridge. It was achingly beautiful, and he longed to touch it. Indeed, his hand, seemingly of its own volition, moved towards the golden railing. As he reached to grasp it, Robert felt like a spectator in his own body, but the experience did not trouble him.

Just in the nick of time, the Go-cart King adroitly snatched Robert’s arm and carried his hand away. The spell broken, Robert shook himself and backed away warily from the bridge.

The king regarded Robert with grim amusement. “Many have been lured by the spell of the Bridge of Time,” he said. “They traverse its span and find themselves lost. Once crossed, the Bridge of Time never leads back to the same place, and the lost souls are doomed to wander the endless corridors of time, never to find their home timeline.

“Fortunately, we of the Perpetually Eleven are not so easily swayed from the path of our destiny. We have the means to cross the Bridge of Time safely. If you could just enter your address over there.”

The king pointed, and for the first time Robert noticed a computer kiosk next to the bridge. It looked extraordinarily out of place. Approaching the computer, Robert could see on the monochrome screen a rudimentary interface for entering one’s mailing address. Bemused, Robert did so. As he pressed “Enter,” the bridge seemed to ripple and shimmer for a moment. Then it was still again.

“Excellent,” said the king, rubbing his hands together. “With your address entered, the Bridge will take us directly to it, and hopefully there we will find Crutchford.”

Just then, the sound of approaching go-carts was heard. “Excellent,” the king said again. “Armstrong and Liddle have returned with the device.” Soon the two riders surged into view and came tearing down the street towards Robert and the others. At the last moment, they slammed on their breaks, spun out, and came to a screeching halt before the king. One of them held aloft a gleaming black metal sphere slightly larger than a softball. The king took it, clapping the rider on the shoulder. “Well done, my knights.”

Then he turned to Robert. “Know you the workings of a dismantler drone?”

Robert shook his head. “I’ve heard of them, but I’ve never actually seen one. They’re highly illegal where I’m from.”

“And here as well,” said the king with a smirk. “The place you are from is the same place we are from.” He grew serious again. “But that’s as may be. Attend, and I’ll show you how the drone works.”

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Robert Wilson and the Refrigerator of Doom 5

Of course, Robert had heard the legends of the Go-cart King, but he had never given them any credence until now. The legends told of a ghost suburb tucked in amongst the countless neighborhoods that surrounded the city proper. This ghost suburb was home to many strange and wondrous flora and fauna, and it was roved by a gang of eternally young boys who toured the ruins on go-carts of great wonder. It was said that these go-carts never needed refueling and could reach speeds in excess of 35 miles per hour, which is pretty fast for a go-cart. The boys called themselves the Perpetually Eleven, which referred to both their age and their number, and they were led by the Go-cart King. Many and varied were the stories of their exploits and adventures.

Now, standing in the presence of these legendary characters, Robert found himself speechless. He opened and closed his mouth a few times but failed to formulate any meaningful syllable. After a few seconds of this, the king’s right-hand man spoke again.

“Speak, mortal,” he demanded. “What brings you to our domain?”

At last Robert found his powers of speech. On impulse, he went to one knee before the king. “Forgive my trespassing, your majesty,” he said. “I was fleeing from deadly peril. In truth, I know not how I come to be in your domain.”

The king’s right-hand man was about to speak again when the king silenced him with a gesture. “Few who tread the path to this land do so knowingly,” said the king. He appraised Robert coolly for a few moments. Robert waited with his head slightly bowed. Finally, the king spoke. “Your bearing is noble, sir,” he said. “Rise and tell us your name if you will and recount your tale of peril.”

At this the engines of the go-carts roared to life as the riders repositioned their vehicles in two rows before Robert. Their driving was perfectly synchronized.

Robert quickly recounted the events of the afternoon. As he did so, the king’s face grew troubled. When Robert had finished, the king spoke. “Your tale is indeed an unfortunate one, Robert Wilson. But know this: the creature that hunts you even now is not unknown to us. His name is Crutchford, and he is a plague upon the lands of the Go-cart King.” There were nods and murmurs of assent amongst the other boys at these words.

“It has been many centuries since last we heard tidings of Crutchford,” the king continued. “Now it would seem that he has infiltrated the mortal realm, where none exist that can oppose him.” The king’s expression hardened. “This I will not have,” he said grimly.

The king turned to regard his retinue. “Gentlemen,” he said, “it was surely our duty to deal with Crutchford in our own domains. We failed to do so, and now he besmirches the home of Robert Wilson with his foul taint of evil. As the blame is ours, the responsibility is ours as well. We are honor-bound to come to the aid of Robert Wilson. Are you with me?”

“Yes!” cried the rest of the Perpetually Eleven in unison.

“Then it’s settled,” said the king, turning to Robert. “We will assist you, Robert Wilson. With your help, we have the means, I think, to deal with Crutchford.” He turned again to address the other riders. “Armstrong and Liddle will go to the fortress and bring the dismantler drone. We will rendezvous at the Bridge of Time. Ride!” The last word was shouted.

With a deafening roar, the go-carts sped away, leaving the king and Robert alone in the street. The larger group of go-carts went down the road; two of the boys, presumably Armstrong and Liddle, broke away from the main group and disappeared between two houses.

The king turned to Robert. “Robert Wilson, you’re with me,” he said. He gestured with his head to the back of his go-cart. Robert noticed for the first time that the back of the cart sported small platforms and handles on either side. If one were very foolish, one could step onto the platforms and cling to the back of the vehicle as a passenger. Shrugging, Robert clambered aboard. It was a day for foolishness.

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Robert Wilson and the Refrigerator of Doom 4

Before exiting the Portmans’ house, Robert made certain that the refrigerator was nowhere in evidence. Then he hit the ground running, pelting across the street and between two houses. He knew there was a ravine back there somewhere, and he was almost certain that the refrigerator would have to take the long way around to get to him. The trick was to get to the ravine without being spotted.

As he was about to go among some trees behind the houses, he heard the refrigerator screaming at him.

“I see where you’re going, Robert Wilson! You cannot escape me!” Then there was a shrill roar.

Robert dove, and a blast of unearthly chill sailed over him and encased a nearby bush in an icy prison. Robert used his forward momentum to somersault to his feet and kept running. Within seconds, he had reached the ravine. He clambered down it, jumped the narrow creek, and went up the other side. He found himself in the back yard of another row of houses. He ran around to the front and looked for a street sign in order to get his bearings.

But there was no street sign.

Every house on the street was clearly abandoned. Here and there, a window was broken or boarded closed. A screen door banged gently in the wafting breeze. Lawns were knee high. A yellowed newspaper drifted lazily down the sidewalk towards Robert. There was no background hum of traffic. No bird chirped.

Robert made his way into the middle of the street, making a survey of the derelict buildings that surrounded him. “What the hell?” he muttered.

A moment later, Robert heard a faint buzzing sound. It seemed to be coming from all around him. Not knowing which direction to run, Robert could do nothing but wait and see what developed. He didn’t have to wait long. The noise grew steadily louder and was soon recognizable as small motors. Specifically, internal combustion engines.

Then they appeared. From behind eleven different houses all around Robert, eleven go-carts tore through yards, down sidewalks, and over devil strips. They made straight for him from every direction, and he became concerned that they were going to crash into him. But almost as one the drivers slammed on their brakes, screeching to a halt amid smoking tires. They formed a perfect ring around him, engines idling ominously.

Robert could see now that the go-cart drivers were all boys, roughly eleven years old from the looks of them. They were of unidentifiable ethnicity, and somewhat unkempt and dirty. The word “roguish” described them perfectly.

One of their number wore an ornate crown, which should have looked ridiculous but didn’t. The wearer had an unmistakably noble bearing.

As Robert regarded this motley bunch, they regarded him in turn. The only sound for some moments was the grumble of the engines. Then, the boy to the crowned boy’s right spoke.

“We are the riders of the Perpetually Eleven,” he said in a clear voice. “You are a trespasser. You find yourself in the realm, and indeed the presence, of the Go-cart King. State your business here.”

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Robert Wilson and the Refrigerator of Doom 3

“I didn’t throw beer at your house,” Robert explained to the furious Mr. Portman. “It was my refrigerator.”

Mr. Portman continued as though Robert hadn’t spoken. “You about scared my wife half to…” His voice trailed off as he squinted at Robert. “Jesus, what the hell happened to your face?”

It was true that Robert was quite a sight, what with the blood-soaked rag over his black-and-blue swollen nose and the dried blood from a dozen or so cuts on the side of his face. Mr. Portman’s blunt appraisal did nothing to improve Robert’s spirits. He was about to make an angry retort when Rebbecca cut him off.

“Mr. Portman,” she said, “we’ve had a rather unfortunate afternoon. May we come in and use your phone? We need to call the police.”

Mr. Portman snorted. “Come in? And bleed all over everything? No way.” He was not an entirely unfeeling man, however. “Hang on, I’ll get the cordless.” So saying, he slid the door closed, locked it, and disappeared into the house.

Robert turned to Rebbecca and gave her a look.

“Okay, okay,” she said after a moment or two. “Portman may not have been a good first choice. But I didn’t hear you give any ideas.”

Robert acknowledged her point with a nod. “This isn’t safe to be out here like this, though,” he said. “The refrigerator may have heard Portman yelling and come for us.”

At that very moment, Robert saw past Rebbecca to the corner of the house, where the refrigerator had just emerged. “Oh, shit,” he said.

Rebbecca turned to look just as the freezer door snapped open. There was a shrill roar. Robert saw it happening in slow motion as the blast of evil cold hit Rebbecca square in the chest.

“No!” he screamed. Those of you who have had occasion to scream, “No!” about something will know all too well the desolation and helplessness that Robert now felt. The rest of you will just have to imagine.

Rebbecca was now frozen in a pillar of ice. Her panic-stricken features could just be made out, sickly and pale blue beneath the thick, translucent layer of frost. The refrigerator cackled evilly. “You’re next,” it shouted at Robert.

Just then, Mr. Portman opened the door. “Here’s the cordless,” he said, thrusting a phone at Robert. Then he noticed the imprisoned Rebbecca. “Jesus, what the hell happened to her?” he cried.

Robert leaped into action. Setting his shoulder against the pillar of ice, he pushed it hard in the direction of Mr. Portman and the door. It moved, but it hit the threshold and Robert accidentally pushed it over. Robert’s heart was in his throat as he helplessly watched the pillar fall. If it shattered or broke — but he didn’t have time to think about it, because it landed, and didn’t shatter or break, and he had his own neck to save.

Mr. Portman had leapt backwards into the kitchen to avoid the falling pillar, and now Robert quickly joined him. Just in time. There was a shrill roar, and a blast narrowly missed Robert’s retreating back. It hit Mr. Portman’s propane barbecue grill, which was instantly encased in the supernatural ice.

Seizing Mr. Portman by the shirt collar, Robert dragged the struggling suburbanite to the dining room, which was out of the line of fire from the sliding glass door.

“I want you to listen to me very carefully,” said Robert, putting his face close to Mr. Portman’s in a somewhat threatening manner. Mr. Portman stopped struggling and nodded. “I want you to get yourself and everyone else in this house upstairs,” Robert continued. “With any luck, you’ll be safe there. Call the police and tell them there’s a refrigerator terrorizing the neighborhood.”

“A refrigerator?”

“Okay, fine, don’t say that. But tell them something, anything, to get them out here. Lives are in danger. And do what you can to keep that,” he gestured towards Rebbecca’s frozen pillar, “safe.”

Releasing Mr. Portman abruptly, Robert turned and made for the front door.

“But where are you going?” called out Mr. Portman.

“I don’t know,” Robert called back over his shoulder. “Somewhere else.”

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Robert Wilson and the Refrigerator of Doom 2

The neighbor to whose house Robert was running was named Rebbecca Smith. It should be mentioned that Robert had a particular fondness for Miss Smith. In point of fact, he found her delightful. Ever since meeting her when he had moved in two years ago, he had harbored a desire to get to know her well and, later, to become physically intimate with her. Unfortunately, Robert, though friendly, was not particularly sociable, and so Rebbecca had remained someone Robert waved to rather than conversed with.

Robert reached the front door of Rebbecca Smith’s house in record time and pounded frantically upon it. After what seemed like an eternity but was only a few seconds, a furious Rebbecca threw open the door. “What the hell do you want?” she bawled.

Ignoring her question, Robert shouldered his way into the house at a run, turned a tight circle around the bewildered Rebbecca, and slammed the door shut. “My refrigerator is after me!” he gasped.

Rebbecca stared at Robert in total bemusement. “What?” she said.

“My refrigerator is after me. It came to life and now it’s trying to kill me. I need to use your phone.”


“No time to explain. Where’s the phone?” Robert cried frantically. Through the small windows in the door, he could see the refrigerator emerging from his house and coming out onto the porch. It turned its ponderous bulk this way and that as though searching. Robert knew it was looking for him.

“Did you say your refrigerator was after you?” demanded Rebbecca.

“See for yourself,” Robert said, and pointed to the refrigerator that was now making its way carefully down the steps of Robert’s porch.

Rebbecca saw the refrigerator and blinked. “Well, I’ll be goddamned,” she murmured. She stared open-mouthed.

“Rebbecca,” Robert barked. She started and turned to him. “I need to use your phone to call the police–”

But at that moment, Robert was interrupted by a beer can that smashed through one of the windows in the door and clipped his nose. Apparently the refrigerator, which had now made the street, was a crack shot. Tiny shards of glass imbedded themselves in Robert’s face as his nose gushed blood. Robert went to his hands and knees and howled, clutching his broken nose. Rebbecca screamed and knelt beside him.

“Holy shit, are you okay?” she cried.

“We have to get out of here,” moaned Robert. He staggered to his feet, keeping one hand on his nose and pulling Rebbecca up with the other.

“I’m inclined to agree with you,” said Rebbecca. “Back door?”

“Yeah, where is it?”

“Follow me.”

They jogged quickly through the house to the kitchen. Robert half-expected Rebbecca’s refrigerator to have come to life, but it hadn’t. On his way past the sink, he grabbed a rag to put over his nose. Then they were outside.

“Where now?” said Robert.

“Your place?” Rebbecca suggested.

Robert shook his head. “I don’t want to chance it,” he said. “What if the dishwasher’s come to life?”

“Portman’s at home, I think,” said Rebbecca. “We can cut behind your house and use his phone.”

“Wait,” said Robert. “There’s no reason for you to be involved with this. I’m the one it wants.”

“I’m the one with a trashed front door,” said Rebbecca. “And besides, you need someone to get your back. Now come on.”


“No time to argue! Come on!” She started off towards Robert’s house at a jog. Shrugging, Robert followed.

Rebbecca reached the corner of her house and stopped to peer around it. “All clear,” she said to Robert who had come to a halt behind her. “You go, I’ll follow.”

“I still think you shouldn’t–” but Robert cut himself off at an angry glance from Rebbecca. He ran across the gap between his and Rebbecca’s houses, turned, and waited for Rebbecca to do the same. They stole through Robert’s back yard and into the Portmans’. Climbing the patio stairs, they knocked on the sliding glass door.

They were greeted by a very angry Mr. Portman. He slammed the door open and shouted at Robert, “What the hell is your problem, throwing beer at my house?”

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