Neolithic Park Essay, Research Paper
A Short Story composed by:
Honors English II
Mrs. Coultas – 3
August 16, 1993
“Thanks for that update, Bob,” said the aged anchor person. His voice was rough and deep, as though he had been to sea recently and had taken home a throat lined with thick salt water. He sounded too serious, but friendly enough to be a local newscaster for a maximum audience of perhaps 20,000 bored stiff eyes. “And now we have a related story about the new sporting goods store here in Sidney. Nan Johnstone is there live. Nan?”
“Yes, Phil. Thanks.” Nan was an aged person as well, who doubled as the station’s investigative reporter and local happening’s person. Her voice was about as clear as Phil’s. It sounded nasal and rusty, as though she had been talking her whole life and was about ready to give it up for good. “I’m here at what is now officially the largest hunting and fishing goods store in the world. Cabela’s will be opening tomorrow afternoon at three o’clock, and the management is expecting nearly half the population of Sidney to show up for the grand opening event. In the past few nights, we have been bringing you related stories because of the incredible economic impact that Cabela’s will have and already has had in our area. As you know, 2,000 people out of the Sidney area’s 10,000 are already employed by Cabela’s. That number is, of course, expected to rise in the months and years to come. The story we bring you tonight concerns the last step in completion of the 400 acre store and surrounding grounds. Today, over 700 stuffed animals arrived from an eminent taxidermist in northern California, and crews were immediately sent to work arranging 300 of the stuffed beasts in a brilliant display against the dividing wall in the center of the store. They let me take a sneak preview of the arrangement earlier, and it is incredible. Even if you’re not planning to purchase anything tomorrow, the animals make it worth your trip. One may find the other 400 creatures on display throughout the store. They will be shown either one at a time with tape-recorded sounds of them and their habitat or they will be shown in groups. The main exhibit is arranged between the tents on display and the clothing section, and although pictures are not yet allowed from within the store, postcards will be available from any of the cash registers or from other points around Cabela’s. We hope to see you all there tomorrow. Goodnight.”
“Thank you, Nan. We’ll be there. It looks like it is going to be a very nice grand opening tomorrow at Cabela’s. And speaking of very nice, here is Scott with the weather update.”
“Thanks, Phil. It was a beautiful day today, and tomorrow, at least until about six o’clock, we can expect the same. Tomorrow evening, there will be a severe thunderstorm warning, as well as a tornado warning for the Sidney area. The conditions look to me like we could have a tornado come right through town, but let’s keep our fingers crossed until then . . . ”
The TV screen abruptly went blank via the remote control on the other side of the room. A young man, about sixteen, sat in a large, brown chair on the far side of the room, mechanically flipping the remote control over and over in his hands. He stood to about six feet tall and was about average weight. “I think we’re going to go over there about four o’clock tomorrow.” He spoke in a clear, intelligible, resonant voice. The tone suggested maturity of character and a quiet, serious disposition.
“That’s fine, Brian. Just let me know if you need a ride out there,” said his mother, a woman of about forty. “I don’t think I’ll be able to go tomorrow myself, but maybe I’ll stop by the next day or the day after that. Just let me know what your plans are.”
“OK, mom. I’ll let you know. Goodnight, now.”
Brian stood up from his chair and walked into his bedroom, where he immediately picked up the phone and dialed Chris’s number. “Chris? Hey, what’s up?”
“Hey, Bri. Not much.” Chris’s voice was higher than Brian’s, and did not sound as mature or as intelligent. At first impression, one would see Chris as very outgoing, yet possibly even too gregarious. “You hear anything about tomorrow?”
“That’s what I was calling you about.”
“Huh-Huh… That’s cool.” Chris attempted an impression of Beavis and Butthead, but he did not sound even remotely like either of the two annoying cartoon characters. “Well, I guess we’ll go over to that Cabela’s place tomorrow, pick up some girls, man . . . Huh-Huh . . . That would be cool.”
“Dude, give it up. What girls could we possibly find at Cabela’s tomorrow that we haven’t known our whole lives? Your options are pretty limited when you’re living in a city of 8,000, Chris.”
“Why, you’re quite the pessimist today. But anyway, there’s no use in arguing with you. I guess we aughta head up there about five o’clock or so. Eh?”
“Sure. Sounds good. I’ll pick you up around then.”
“Oo! Gonna get picked up in Brian’s parentmobile . . . yes! Huh-huh; anyway, though, see you then. Later.”
“See you tomorrow.”
After the evening’s lengthy activities, Brian discernibly resolved to turn in for the night, and, after informing his mother of his plans for the next day, did so.
The following morning was a pleasant one. The air had the sweet scent of creation, and the only audible tones were those of Mother Nature. Contrary to the meteorologist’s dismal forecast for the evening, the day looked as if it would turn out to be enjoyable after all. The morning passed by quickly for Brian, and, as suddenly as he had woken up, the Time that Flies had taken him to the late afternoon.
Brian approached his parents sitting in the dining room, visiting. “Well, I suppose I’ll be seeing you all about eleven or so. By the way, you mind if I take the car?” He directed the first comment to his mother, who appeared to be the type who worried about details until she made herself sick with distress. The question, though, was directed at his father, who was sitting opposite his mother. With one fleeting glance, anyone could tell that Brian’s father was most definitely the figure with the authority. He possessed a casual, confident demeanor, and when he looked up from his newspaper to say “sure” to Brian, his statement was indubitably irrevocable.
“Just be careful, honey.” His mother, though, still received an opportunity to do her arduous duty of worrying.
“Will do. I’ll see you all later.”
As Brian walked out of the front door, he was met by the vulgar sight of a ‘77 Oldsmobile station wagon, otherwise known as the ‘parentmobile’. “Huh . . . I sure do wish I had a job so that I could have money for a car.” He spoke out loud, to no one in particular. “Oh, well, I suppose I’ll have to live with this thing until then.” Brian sat in the driver’s seat while he began to figure how many weeks he thought it would take him until he could save enough money for a decent car. Still figuring, he put the car in drive and headed for Chris’s house. When he arrived, Chris was waiting by the door, and as he approached the station wagon, Brian could see him jokingly mouthing the word ‘parentmobile’.
“At least I’m sixteen.”
Silence filled the car for a moment, until Chris broke in with “Huh-Huh . . . that’s cool.” Once again, his impression had failed miserably.
“You’re getting better at that, you know.”
“Thanks for the encouragement. Oh, by the way, you need to pick up Nancy and Sarah from Sarah’s house.”
“Nancy and Sarah? Oh, you mean the Nancy and Sarah a year older than us. Where do they live?”
“Thanks for telling me so soon so that I have to turn around to go back and get them. No, really, I appreciate it.”
“No prob. Anything I can do to make you late.”
“Nancy and Sarah, huh? I don’t think I know them too well. You?”
“No, but I’ve talked to them in school a few times before. We’re all in the same Latin class.
Brian still seemed to be confused about the two, and after deciding that he was most likely thinking of someone else, Chris attempted to correct the situation. “You know, Nancy. She’s pretty smart and has the long, light brown hair?”
“Oh, yeah. She’s, well, the less attractive one.”
“She’s still not bad.”
“But Sarah, on the other hand, is incredible.” Brian shook his head slowly and looked off in to the distance. It was obvious that he liked at least what he had seen of her. To Brian, Sarah was one of the people he had had a crush on ever since he had first seen her in the halls of school. Considering the fact that Brian would never have had the nerve to approach her on his own, he had thought that nothing would ever develop between them. Suddenly, though, his hopes had become remarkably more reasonable.
“Incredibly stupid, you mean.”
“Do you mean she’s not book smart, or are you saying that she just doesn’t know what’s going on?”
“Well, she makes pretty good grades, but she’s the most gullible person I’ve ever talked to. Oh, and, by the way, if she asks, my ‘69 Corvette is still in the shop.”
Brian once again shook his head, only this time he had a knowing smile on his face instead of a faraway look. “Don’t you mean your ‘15 Vette, Chris?” he said through his quiet laughter.
“I get it. Turn at the next street. Nancy’s house is the third one on the right.”
“All right,” he said, as he pulled the old, beat-up station wagon to the front of the Victorian-style white picket fence, “You can run up there and get them.”
As Brian watched Chris approach the front door, it seemed as if he were trying to process a hundred thoughts at once. “What should I say?” “What if I embarrass myself?” He then remembered his mother, who he always told worried too much, and he forced himself to stop his mental self-torture. He thought to himself, “OK, I just have to take it cool. If I just act myself, they won’t even think about the car.” Brian had always tried to make sure that no one knew he was an excessive worrier with a self-esteem problem, but he still tended to worry to himself quite a bit. Brian watched as the girl whom he had secretly liked ever since he could remember approached the door. With a pained look on his face, Brian then managed to endure the seemingly endless two minutes it took from the time they answered the door until the time they stepped into the car.
Nancy was the first to speak as they entered the car. “Hi. I’m Nancy.”
“Hello, Nancy. I’m Brian.” An awkward silence followed his introduction, and Brian could think of nothing else to say, but, “Sorry about the car. I know it’s a piece.” And then, after another pause, “It’s my parents’.”
“Hey, you have nothing to be sorry about. At least it has wheels and runs. That’s better than I have.” Somehow, the words seemed to make Brian feel more at ease. At first, he thought it might be because they had some kind of connection between their personalities. On second thought, though, he decided that Nancy was probably just one of those people who has a natural gift for relating to others. “So . . . ” Nancy attempted to make polite conversation as the others had once again ceased communication. “I know that we both know Chris from Latin, but I don’t think either of us have ever really met you before, Brian. This is Sarah.”
“Hi, Sarah. Chris has told me so much about you.”
“Was it good or bad?” Sarah had an incredibly pleasant voice. Brian thought to himself that it was as pure, clear, and sweet as a mountain stream. He knew the words should have been sarcastic from anyone else, but she somehow made them sound so genuine.
Brian decided he would investigate not only her reply, but also Chris’ accusation of her gullibility. “Definitely bad, Sarah. You should have heard what he was saying.”
“Chris!” Her articulation had changed from polite to angry, but to Brian, the sound of her voice was still wonderful. “I thought I could trust you!”
Brian quickly decided it would be best for him to break in to prevent any further damage. “Sarah, it’s OK. I was just kidding. I thought that you were as well when you asked. Believe me, I haven’t heard anything out of him about you except for compliments.”
“Of course.” Brian realized that Sarah genuinely was extremely naive. He decided that it was in his best interests to change subjects. “So, I hear Cabela’s is still hiring some in-store employees. They hire at sixteen, too.”
Nancy was the first to voice her opinion at this. “I’ve been thinking about applying, but I’m not sure if it will fit in to my schedule with all the tough classes I’m taking this year. Speaking of Cabela’s; according to that sign, we just entered Cabela’s land.”
“Cabela’s land?” asked Brian, “This place really must be as big as I hear. I can just barely see the parking lot from here.”
“Why do you think they would put the largest hunting and fishing goods store in the world in Sidney, Nebraska, of all places? I mean, come on, all 8,000 of us would have to buy something from here every day just for them to stay in business.” Chris, for the most part, wasn’t a cynic, but occasionally he enjoyed arguing. “Your mom works there, doesn’t she, Nancy? Has she ever said anything about why they built it here?”
“Well, from what I can tell, they do most of their business from the mail-order magazine. They probably decided to put the main distributor’s headquarters here because Nebraska’s kind of in the middle of the United States. They’ll get more interstate business than business from Kearney and us.”
“Gee, thanks for that in-depth analysis of my shallow question, Nancy.”
“Anytime,” she returned. It seemed strange to Brian how quickly Nancy had changed tones from very friendly, outgoing, and seemingly at a constant temporary loss for words to overly analytical and rattling words off like an accomplished debater. He could not seem to tell whether she was trying to be funny by her answer to Chris’ question or if she were simply the type who not only makes quick changes of style, but also overanalyzes everything.
“Look at the horses!” Brian had become so captivated with Sarah that he barely noticed the childish way in which she had pronounced ‘horses’ with a long ‘e’ at the end.
“Uh . . . Huh-Huh. Horses are cool,” Chris broke in.
“Okay. You all ready? Good, let’s go,” Brian said.
As they stepped out of the car and approached the front row of glass doors, a man in a white tuxedo reached for the door handle and swung it wide open, allowing the group to pass into an outdoorsman’s paradise. The scene in the center of the store was incredible. A seventy foot high mountain sat atop a huge square, each side measuring about 120 feet. Around the outside of the square were various plaques, each describing one or more animals on display. Three snow white mountain goats stood on the top of the mountain, just above ice sickels hanging threateningly from the rocks. A howling coyote sat about halfway between the top and bottom of the mountain. Below it were two elk, a huge brown bear standing on two feet, two small deer, two huge moose, a panther, and a rabbit being chased by a fox. Above the entire scene hung a flock of large birds, each spanning about five and a half feet from wing to wing.
Along the left side of the store stood three immense tanks of fish that were surrounded by tons of hooks, lures, poles, reels, and small bass boats. Behind the fishing accessories were dozens of isles of various outdoor clothing items. In the middle of the clothes stood two imminent grizzly bears, each about seven feet high. Behind the clothes was a door with a sign over it. The sign read, “Coming Soon: The Discount Cave.” Next to ‘The Discount Cave’ stood the ‘Something for Everyone’ gift shop. Most of its occupants were women and smaller children. As far as the group could tell, with the exception of the small deli, the ‘Something for Everyone’ shop was the only place in the entire store that had nothing to do with hunting, fishing, or camping.
Along the right side of the store stood more isles of hunting and camping clothes, as well as an assortment of heavy dress shirts with Cabela’s logos on them. Rows of bows and arrows sat behind the shirts, and behind archer’s heaven was the hunting section. The selection of hunting equipment was perhaps the most impressive Brian had ever seen. Nearly fifty yards of large guns sat behind the employees’ counter, just waiting to be bought. The handguns sat idlely in the glass counters. People strolled along the counter, stopping periodically to peer at a hunting weapon that took hold of their interest. Unorganized boxes of ammunition and bird calls had been dispersed among the vacant remaining shelves. To the far left, another animal exhibit was visible. This one comprised a single, heinous looking tiger. A large, arched sign with the word ‘Africa’ on it in red letters towered above the tiger. The placement, backdrop, atmosphere, and overall look of the scene created an exceedingly ominous effect.
The group had somehow been separated into pairs, and Brian found himself walking along rows of duck calls near the tiger display with Nancy. “That tiger looks a little bit too real.” Brian looked at the tiger’s lifelike posture and knowing eyes in amazement as he thought to himself.
“No kidding, Brian. That’s spooky.” Nancy, too, stared at the tiger’s viscous eyes. “I wonder how they make all of these dead animals look so alive.”
“Yeah, I know what you mean.” As the two passed the tiger, they felt as if it was still staring at them, thinking of what a nice meal they would make. “That’s strange. I wonder if that thing makes everyone feel that way.”
“No, it’s probably just us.” Nancy’s soft giggle seemed to magically release much of Brian’s silent anxiety. “We’re just paranoid.”
“I guess so . . . Hey, look at that room.” Brian pointed at a large room in which guns and knives sat against the wall and hung from the wall in separate glass containers. The sign above the large pillars that represented the doorway read ‘Antique Weapons of the Early 1900’s and of the Civil War’. Although no one was permitted entrance, Brian spotted American Indian hatchets, assorted muskets, and even a chair attached to a large machine that looked to be from World War I as he stood in the doorway. “Interesting stuff, but why don’t we go catch up with Chris and Sarah?”
On the other side of the antique weapons room stood Chris and Sarah, both staring in amazement at a stream of crystal clear water falling elegantly from strategically placed rocks in the middle of a large pool of water. In the water, large goldfish swam casually, not seeming to mind the concrete siding. Chipmunks scurried along the outside rocks, stopping once in a while to beg for food from onlookers. Chris removed a quarter from his pocket and placed it into a vending machine entitled ‘Squirrel food’. He received a handful of peanuts that Sarah and he managed to feed to the large rodents as they passed by. “This is beautiful,” said Sarah.
“Uh . . . Huh-Huh. Squirrels are cool. Feeding squirrels is kick a- . . . ” Brian managed to thump Chris on the head as he and Nancy approached the waterfall and Chris and Sarah.
“We went into a tent over there that we wanted you two to see.” Sarah spoke with enthusiasm and a wide smile on her face to the rest of group, and then skipped off in the direction of the tents.
“Well, what are we waiting for?” Brian quickly followed Sarah, who had already settled herself in a large, six-man tent.
As Chris stepped in, he darted his eyes from side to side, examining the every aspect of the tent. “Whew . . . this must be three times as big as my dad’s tent.”
“Probably because this is a six-man tent, and his is a two-man,” added Brian.
“Good point. Hey, somebody shut the door.” As the rest of the foursome talked blase, Nancy reached behind her to zip up the flap of lycra material that was the front door.
“So, I hear there’s a tornado warning for tonight,” said Brian. “The weatherman claimed that it could possibly hit Sidney, or maybe even hit Cabela’s.”
“As did I, mon fr re,” added Nancy. “You know, I can’t hear a thing out of this tent. It must be completely noiseproof.”
Chris, the most knowledgeable about camping equipment in the group, interjected, “The purpose of the design is to keep all of the rain out, but, as it turns out, keeping the water out happens to also keep the noise out. I like it better this way, but my dad bought the one that doesn’t keep all of the rain out. He says that it’s dangerous to not be able to hear animals or other invaders in the night.”
“I suppose that if there was a fire in the building ten minutes ago, we wouldn’t have known about it until too late.” At Brian’s comment, each looked at the other, and Nancy opened a corner of the door to hear the reassuring sound of the outside world.
Nancy leaned over toward Brian and whispered in his ear, “Make up some crazy story, and tell it to Sarah to see if she’ll believe you.” As Nancy leaned back, Brian began his tale.
“Nancy and I were just talking about something that happened while we weren’t with you two. We had gone over to look at the main exhibit when Nancy noticed something strange. One of the larger birds’ wings was twitching. I don’t mean it had been caught in a gust of air, either. After a while, it seemed as if the entire bird had started to move. We decided not to stick around, but we did overhear some people talking about it later. They said that one of the people who works here took the bird down and took it back into an employees only room. Of course we don’t know the exact scenario, but my best guess would be that whoever stuffed the birds didn’t do a very good job. He probably just froze them and shipped them. So be careful, Sarah, when you walk over by the birds.”
The amazed look on Sarah’s face was enough to make anyone laugh. Chris nearly accepted the invitation, but he managed to cover his mouth and turn the oncoming laugh into a cough. Sarah, with a frightened, confused look on her face, blankly uttered the single word, “Really?”
The entire situation was more than the rest of the group could take, though. The three of them burst out laughing all at once, at Sarah’s expense. After laughing for a few seconds, Brian said, “No . . . we’re just kidding, Sarah. That wouldn’t really happen.”
After the laughter had subsided, Nancy noticed that they had been sitting in the tent for nearly an hour, and it was now after eight o’clock. “Hey, you all. We probably should be getting out now. Somebody must be waiting for us.” Nancy once again reached behind her to unzip the door, but this time no piercing noise of jostling customers was heard. Instead, the noise had been replaced by complete and utter silence. The four looked at each other without saying a word, ultimately making the silence even more magnified.
Brian was the first to break the silence. “I think we should leave now, guys.”
“That’s probably a good idea,” said Nancy. With worried glances, the entire group made their way out of the tent. They were greeted on the outside by nothing but unequivocal darkness and silence. Without a word they made their way toward the front door. Nancy reached the row of tall, glass doors before the others and attempted to push one open. Her efforts, though, were useless. Every one of the doors had been locked from the inside as well as from the outside. “They’re all locked.”
“So let’s break them down!” Chris, in his panic, grabbed a lamp from the desk and hurled it at the huge pane of glass. The small, ceramic lamp smashed as it hit the door, leaving nothing but shards of pottery on the floor.
Nancy broke in to the situation, trying to calm everyone down. “Come on, you guys. There’s no point in panicking! There obviously has to be either someone else in the store who would have a key or a much easier escape route. I mean, look what you would have done by breaking the glass. Not only would you most likely end up having to pay for it, but also it wouldn’t help us get out. There’s an iron fence no more than thirty yards from here, and it goes straight up to the overhang in the front of the building, in case you didn’t notice. All you would have done is let the rain in here.”
Brian quickly broke in with, “The rain! Everyone must have been evacuated because of a tornado. They said it would come right through here. It was probably on a path for the Cabela’s building, and they told everybody to leave and to take shelter in their basements. Oh, no; it seems as if we were just talking about how it could be dangerous not to be able to hear outside the tent.”
“Thanks, Chris. I know that.”
Nancy attempted to take control of the situation at this point. “Come on! We have to find a way out before the storm gets worse! Okay, Brian, you and Sarah go over by the deli and into the employees only room. Look for windows, doors, or anything else that would give us a chance of getting out. Chris and I are going to look around the main area for stuff that we could use to build a ladder to get to those windows near the ceiling.”
“Okay, we’ll be back. Come on, Brian.” As they began walking toward the back of the building, Brian realized that they were headed for the evil looking tiger that had frightened Nancy and him earlier.
“Come on, Sarah, let’s go this way. We’ll look over in the deli, first.” Brian climbed onto the deli counter and jumped over it as Sarah found the swinging door and casually walked through it. “There’s the door to the back. We’ll go in there and look around for a door or a window or something, and then we’ll look somewhere else if we can’t find anything.” Brian slowly opened the door that led to the back of the deli, and then peered inside. “Okay, let’s go. I’ll look for a light.” The room was large, and, for the most part, empty.
“I can’t see anything but the outline of . . . maybe . . . a table or something.”
“Okay. I found a switch box here.” Brian flipped quite a few switches before he finally found one that illuminated the room. The new light was greeted by a scream from Sarah who immediately ran for the door. “Wait, what is it?” Then Brian saw what must have scared her so badly. On the table laid a large bird that looked almost exactly like one of the birds hanging from the ceiling over the main exhibit. Brian’s story must have made her considerably apprehensive. “Well, I don’t see anything of use in here. You?”
“No. Let’s get out of here.” The nervousness in Sarah’s voice made Brian anxious as well. “I should stop believing people so easily. But I always worry about what people will think about me if I don’t believe what they say.”
“I don’t know what to tell you. If what they’re talking about couldn’t possibly happen, just don’t believe it.” During the conversation, Brian failed to realize that he was leading them into the hallway with the Africa exhibit and the sinister tiger. As they approached it, Brian could see nothing but two small red dots through the darkness. He sensed danger as he grew nearer and nearer the ferocious animal. As they passed, though, the impending peril withdrew. In the employees only room, they discovered nothing but a large, neon ‘EXIT’ sign with no door underneath. The other two had about the same amount of luck.
“I think we should just give it up and stay here for the night. What do you think, Chris?” Nancy spoke as if she were weary after losing a hard fought battle.
“Unless Brian and Sarah found something, which I somehow doubt, I think we’re just wasting our energy trying to get to those windows. Oh, there they are, now. Did you two have any luck?” Chris yelled to the other two, and the echoing sent chills up the spines of each of them.
As Brian and Sarah approached, Brian began to speak. “Okay, here’s the deal. You two are going to go back to one of the tents and sit tight while Chris and I try to bust open the switch box to get some light in here. I think the darkness is just making everything worse for everyone.” At this, Nancy and Sarah headed for the tents while Chris and Brian walked toward the hunting gear. “Grab that scope and break the glass, Chris.” Chris broke the glass to the handguns, and, to their surprise, no alarm sounded. He then reached in through the broken glass and picked up two weapons.
“I’ll go look for some ammunition,” said Chris.
“Yeah, good idea. I’ll get one of those big knives from the other end of the counter.” After getting two boxes of ammo for the two guns, Chris walked to where Brian stood, near the large, locked metal box that held all of the light switches. “Try shooting the lock from the side, Chris. Just make sure you don’t mess up the circuitry.” Chris loaded the weapon with six bullets and fired two directly at the lock on the right side of the box. The bullets had absolutely no effect on the lock. Each of the two bullets bounced back as Brian realized there was no way to even make a dent in the steel with such a low-powered weapon. He knew that it was no use to try to break in. The only way they could possibly turn the lights on was to find a key to open the box.
Suddenly, a small, scratching sound was heard from the other side of the counter. “Did you hear something?”
“Yeah,” said Chris, “I’ll go check it out.” Chris looked over the edge of the counter to see a small, white rabbit sitting against the wood of the counter. It moved its head from side to side and then took a small hop forward, causing the same scratching sound. Brian no