Sunday, October 20, 2013

Prompt: Oh God, Not the Foam

Meghan had just thrown a load in the washer and was determined to finish her Saturday house chores by the time it finished. Her favorite black burnout velvet tunic reeked from last Tuesday’s party, and she wanted to wear it tonight. Different crowd – no one would remember it. She wanted Sean to think she looked hot in it…wanted him to run his hands underneath it while they danced. Distracted, she opened the dishwasher and stared blankly at the solid white foam that filled it and oozed over the open door.

“Oh, God, not the foam!” She slammed the door shut and ran to the wall panel, punching the emergency alarm button. She was already looking around for what she needed to grab when the countdown started.

“Foam invasion detected. Estimate thirty minutes until first level evacuation required. Please clear the premises,” the automated voice began its countdown, and Meghan could hear the siren begin to wail outside, warning surrounding neighbors of the foam.

Where was Josie? She usually had to be practically underfoot. Why was this the time she chose to be independent? Damn cat! Meghan ran from room to room, grabbing the items she’d already tagged as essential. There wasn’t much.

The foam already covered the kitchen floor and was spreading into the front den and the dining room on either side. Meghan knew she had to get to the stair now, or they’d be blocked by the foam. She ran to the far window in the family room and pulled it open, in case Josie was hiding somewhere downstairs. “Damn cat,” she muttered as she hesitated in front of the kitchen. The foam sprawled out toward the stairs. There was enough room for her to jump and reach the first step. If she slipped…

She shook her head and jumped, grabbing the bannister for balance. She took one last look around her cozy home. She’d spent five years making it her own, ever since she and Doug split up and she moved to Adelaide. But it was only stuff. Where was Josie? Meghan ran up the stairs two at a time. “Damn cat!” she shouted. She took a couple of deep breaths at the top of the stairs, thinking about her route. She had planned it all, of course. Everyone had a plan for foam. But she hadn’t figured on Josie being out of sight. Which of her favorite haunts should Meghan check first? She turned right into her office, hoping to find the familiar black-and-white form draped across her computer chair, with the familiar “how dare you disturb me?” look through half-opened gold eyes.

She hesitated in front of the computer, wanting to grab the hard drive. But she had ten years’ worth of data, photos, music, and memories safely stored in the Cloud.  She turned to the bookshelf and pulled out the first copy of her first novel, Freedom Fighters. It was silly, but she carried it with her.

She glanced down the stairs as she passed and froze. The foam was halfway up. She hit the second alarm button next to the light switch. The siren outside changed to a claxon, and she knew she only had ten minutes at most before she had to climb out her bedroom window. She glanced in the hall bathtub, just in case. No Josie. Damn cat!

Sometimes she slept in the craft room, on a pile of fabric stash, or if Meghan was careless enough to leave the lid to her knitting yarn stash open, well…But no luck this time. Meghan felt panic closing in as she raced to the back bedroom. Surely Josie would be sleeping on the guest bed, up on the pillows despite Meghan’s best efforts to discourage her. She even bent and peered under the bed. She realized she hadn’t picked up anything in the last rooms. All she could think about was finding the little puff ball who had invaded her life two winters ago, yowling for food and warmth one cold night.

Meghan headed for her bedroom and froze again. The foam had reached the top of the stairs and was steadily rolling into the hall space. She still had plenty of room to get into her bedroom, but she was only going out through the window. “Please, Josie,” she whispered, running into her room and looking around. She closed her eyes and listened, frantic for any sign of the brat, the lifeline who had helped her through her sadness, the daily companion who always pestered her for more attention…whyowhy was she not here now?

“Mrow,” she heard softly. Where? She turned her head. Her closet door was closed. She ran over and pushed it open. Josie sat calmly on the closet floor, licking one paw, as if she hadn’t been locked in there all morning. Meghan scooped her up and turned toward the escape window. Too late. The foam had sprawled in through her bedroom door in a haphazard pattern, closing in on her and Josie, cutting off any route to the window.

Meghan scooped up Josie and tucked her close under her arm. “No time for squirmy games, now, kiddo,” she tried to sound encouraging, not terrified. Even if she could get through one step in the foam, she still had to open the window so she could climb through. She knew there wasn’t enough time. Should she try, or just retreat into the closet with Josie and close the door? At least they’d be together…

Outside the window, she saw a ladder heave into view, and a rescue worker’s neon yellow helmet. He looked in and saw her standing on the far side of the room. Without hesitation, he hit the window with a hammer and shattered it into the room. He swung the ladder straight into the room toward her. “Climb on!”

Dogs in house
Time writing:
35 minutes
October word count:


  1. Prompt: Oh God, Not the Foam

    Raymond placed the beaker down on the bench with a faint clink. Something burbled off in the distance. He hated how the lab sounded at night: without the bustle of the daytime techs, the equipment’s erratic noises faded from mimicking a psychedelic score to a Halloween soundtrack and back.

    But he had experiments to run, and time was running out on his fellowship. Somewhere in the building was sure to be another nocturnal postdoc, and a good handful of grad students; he had seen lights at at least three windows when he _left_ last night. He took comfort in the idea that another living creature was in the building, if not in his lab.

    The burbling got louder and faster, until it sounded more a spray than a burble. “Oh God, not the foam!” yelled a voice.

    Raymond turned toward the door, with the intent of checking the corridor, but before he could take a step a skinny dark-haired man burst inside and slammed the door behind him. What looked like shaving cream dribbled off the side of his glasses. He removed them, opened the door and chucked them into the corridor, then closed the door again.

    “Any more on me?” he asked, voice breathy.

    “Uh, no?” said Raymond.

    The stranger sighed and sank to the floor. “Now we just have to wait. Sorry, man.”

    Time writing: ~20 minutes

    1. Very nice creepy factor, and a touch of _The Stand_ eerieness at the end ...

  2. Oh phew! Glad she found the cat, and glad they're about to be rescued! (They are, aren't they? They _must_ get out!). Needless to say, good tension!

    And I wonder what in world is the foam...

    1. Yeah, it doesn't make much sense, right? I mean, why would they prepare for it rather than just leave. The foam itself had a rather prosaic beginning, but I was thinking of fracking when I wrote this. And maybe a hint of Ghostbusters 2 pink goo...