Welcome to Scribd, the world's digital library. Read, publish, and share books and documents. See more
Download
Standard view
Full view
of .
Save to My Library
Look up keyword
Like this
3Activity
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
Rules are Rules

Rules are Rules

Ratings:

5.0

(1)
|Views: 396 |Likes:
Published by Ragnar Tørnquist
In Prosperity, there are seven rules, and you don't want to break any of them. A short story.
In Prosperity, there are seven rules, and you don't want to break any of them. A short story.

More info:

Published by: Ragnar Tørnquist on Feb 23, 2014
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

Availability:

Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less

03/25/2014

pdf

text

original

 
“Rules are Rules”  by Ragnar Tørnquist Something slithered, the way slithering things do, from the open crack in the wardrobe door towards the bed. Out in grown-up land, muddled TV voices mixed with the quiet murmur of the dishwasher and the hum of the heater. Sara knew her dad would be dozing off in front of the television, and her mom was probably reading a magazine or a book in the den, one of those books with a sexy cover, feet curled up under her and hair tied back in a bun. But her parents might as well have been on the moon, because Sara was too afraid to say a word. If she did, the slithering thing might notice her, and then Sara was dead meat for sure, deader than a dead dodo. Besides, it was against the
 Rules
 to tell. And you didn’t break the Rules, no sir, no way. The slithering thing slithered under her bed and went still. If anything, that was much, much worse than hearing it slither across the carpet,  because now the slithering thing might be listening to Sara’s quickening breath, it might  be looking up, down there in the dark, planning and scheming…or maybe even now climbing up one of the bedposts and slipping under her cover. Sara made doubly sure that she was properly tucked in, and that the only part of her  protruding from the duvet was her head (and even that half-covered, from her chin down). Her bed was big enough to guarantee that no feet or hands were hanging out,  because then, well,
duh
, you only had yourself to blame when the slithering things slipped a slimy tentacle around you and pulled you down and ate you up. Out in grown-up land, the TV clicked off, and Sara heard her parents exchanging a few hushed words. Then they too shuffled off to bed, and all the lights in the house went off, and the slithering thing began to slither once more. Sara squeezed her eyes shut and whispered a little prayer. “Please, star-people, who make everything right, don’t let the slithery sliding things eat my heart and soul tonight.” She opened her eyes again, and stared up at the greenish stars that filled her ceiling from one end to the other like an ocean of radiant starfish noodles. They didn’t shimmer or move, but they were alive nonetheless, and up there was where the star-people lived.
 
After her Dad had helped put them up, she’d been able to sleep better at night, but now the slithering thing had come after all and she hoped the star-people would hear her  prayer.
“Little girl.”
The voice came from under her bed. It sounded like chalk on a blackboard, sharp and scratchy, but quiet, and also very, very wet. In fact, it was nothing like chalk on  blackboard. It was like nothing in this world. Sara drew a sharp breath but she didn’t reply. You didn’t have to. That wasn’t part of the Rules. But neither did you call for help, even though that’s what Sara wanted to do more than anything in the world right now, because that
was
 against the Rules, and you didn’t break the Rules. After all, she knew, Rules are Rules. They’re there for a reason. “Do you know who I am?” whispered the scratchy wet voice. Despite herself, Sara opened her mouth and said: “Yes.” “And do you know why I’m here?” Sara nodded her head. She was too afraid to say the words. “Have you broken any Rules, sweet thing?” “No!” she shrieked, and then clamped her mouth shut, afraid that her parents had heard. The slithery slimy thing went quiet for a long time, and Sara pricked her ears, but she heard nothing from her parents’ room, and after a few minutes she let out a big sigh of relief…and then she remembered the terrible thing under her bed, and her eyes went wide again and her heart started clapping, clap-clap-clap, faster than ever. Sara had been told the Seven Rules, like everyone else. She’d learned them inside and out. She knew what happened when you didn’t follow them to the letter, or when you neglected to take precautions, like not covering yourself properly, or letting bits and  pieces, toes and fingers, elbows and knees, hang out over the sides. She’d heard all the stories, over and over again. About Simon Carter and Lavinia Marsh and George West, and all the others…all those children who’d forgotten about the Rules or hadn’t taken the necessary precautions, all those children who’d been unlucky, forgetful, or just plain stupid. They were all gone now, every one of them. And now the slithering slimy thing had come to check on her, to see if she’d followed the Rules to the letter, to see if she’d made any silly mistakes. Sara was sure she hadn’t. She was careful every night to have Mom or Dad tuck her in properly, to cover all her  bits and pieces properly. And she repeated the Rules to herself every night when Mom said good-night, switched off the light, and shut the door until there was only the tiniest crack left open:
 
 
“Number one, never tell. “Number two, don’t call for help. “Number three, leave the wardrobe door open a crack. “Number four, no midnight light. “Number five, no traps. “Number six, no tricks. “Number seven, asleep by eleven.” Seven rules that couldn’t be broken. The Seven Rules of Prosperity. The first was easy, because no one would believe her anyway, except they who already knew, and you could tell them, you could tell the other children. That was how she’d learned the rules in the first place. The second one hadn’t been difficult to follow until now, because she’d never needed help before, but now she felt like screaming for Mommy, but if she did, she’d break the rule and then… She’d forgotten number three only once, and the moment she remembered she had  jumped out of bed and flung the wardrobe door open and jumped back under the covers. That same night she’d almost broken rule number seven – asleep by eleven – but only almost. The wide-open wardrobe door had given her terrible nightmares, but not once did a sliding slithering thing come to visit from the dark places. The fourth rule had been easy; even before she learned the Rules she had always  preferred to sleep without a light, her only comfort the dim crack in the door leading to the grown-up world.  Numbers five and six weren’t hard to follow at all, because she didn’t know any traps or tricks, aside from mousetraps and card-tricks, and she didn’t think those counted. So yes, Sara had followed the Rules, all of them, every night for the last four years, ever since they’d come to Prosperity, ever since the children had solemnly and patiently taught her the Rules, on that very first day in town. It wasn’t a bad place to live, Prosperity. No, not a bad place at all. It was a good place to live. A very good place. The best she’d ever lived in. It was warm and green and sunny all summer long, and summer was very long in Prosperity. There was a lake to swim in (and to ice-skate on in wintertime), lots of trees to climb, and she could go anywhere she wanted as long as she was back by dinnertime,  because there were no bad
 people
 in Prosperity. In fall, all the leaves turned yellow, red and golden brown, and it was so pretty, like the world was on fire. At that time of the year, the air smelled so good in Prosperity, like all good smells put together, shaken up, and released. It got very cold in late November, just before Thanksgiving, and every Christmas there was lots of snow, and she could go sledding and skiing if she wanted, and the boys would

You're Reading a Free Preview

Download
/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->