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The Heights Herald

The Student News Site of Columbia Heights High School

The Heights Herald

The Student News Site of Columbia Heights High School

The Heights Herald

Moisture Men Pt. II

Ezra Riemermann
Today, The Heights Herald is proud to present the second part of a serialized four-part work of science-fiction. Come back next Monday for part three!

Murphy was jolted from sleep with nary a thought of how he got there. Shaking his head, he climbed to his feet and donned his boots and hat. Pacing to his restroom, he took a moment to run a hand through his hair, hoping it was not too terribly dirty. The Moisture Man was anything but a looker, but the neatness of his composure brought Murphy some sense of irritation. It was, to him, hardly a sense of insecurity, but rather a fiery desire to prove his superiority. Inhaling and exhaling deeply, he headed outside. The scent comforted him somewhat. It was the fresh air of morning. Awakening to the smell of rats and gasoline was a fate he wouldn’t wish upon his worst enemy — though, taking a moment to consider it, he did take some form of amusement in that the Moisture Man must have woken up so early to the scent of such foul things.

But as always seemed to happen in these moments of solace, he was brought to reality when he smelled the slightest whiff of gasoline in the air. He couldn’t see it on the horizon, but he knew what was coming. He purposefully walked to the door of Ms. Grelch. Passing by the entrance to each house, mercifully neglecting the homes of himself and the belated home of his parents, both of which being void of visitors, Murphy knocked his hand against each door, and loudly as he might, he yelled:

“Morning, partners! From now on, please do not open your front doors until I knock you! We’ve had some issues with rogue morning wanderers, and it might threaten our safety. Promise, it’s no big deal!”

When the steel serpent trailed toward them at a speed that seemed almost impossible for a truck of its stature, Murphy’s heart sank deeper than it ever had before. He stared at it as it approached, a glare carved into his skin inspired by the one his mother flashed at him when he refused to pray. In the middle distance of his sight, he could see Mrs. Grelch peeking out her window at him. Etched into her face was some emotion, which Murphy could not help but infer to be pity. Though he kept a stern expression on his face, he wondered if the old woman, who had always been so headstrong and passionately indignant, could muster pity for the mayor. 

And so, the thing of a truck arrived, and the Moisture Man walked out, a thin smile spread across his face. He glided slowly forward, and Murphy could hardly contain his fury. He prepared to strike the Moisture Man across the face, but then, the opposite door to the truck opened.

Before him was the spinning image of terror. It stood at about six feet tall, its head donning a gas mask, which obscured all of its face. Its body was entirely obscured — its torso, arms, and legs, by heavy dark gray armor which was inscrutable in nature. Its hands by black leather gloves, and its feet by heavy boots, ending in bronze. On its back, there rested a massive tube akin to that of a tank, a long tube stretching from it. In the figure’s left hand, it held part of the tube — and in its right hand, it held the end — where the tube ended in a heavy bronze spout. The figure resembled a great brick wall built of pure terror. Murphy took a step back at the sight of them, eyes wide and pupils dilated. The air all around this figure smelled of smoke, but not that of a cigarette — rather, like that of a housefire. Their armor was smooth, for the most part, but the parts of their gas mask and boots were severely rusted, taking on a rough texture. The figure moved in a broad fashion, as though it could leisurely wander through a hurricane fully believing it would come out of the other end fine — and any man foolish enough to cross this thing would quickly realize it probably could..

“I introduce you to the Torch Man,” the Moisture Man said, his smile widening by the moment. “It has come to my attention that you have, seemingly, underestimated the depth of my control over your small town. The Torch-Man will serve as my primary enforcer; they are an extension of my will and an extension of my way. In other words, what we say goes, lest you’d like to see what their tank contains.”

Hand in hand and stone-faced, Murphy let the air flow out from his nose — still, almost, as a statue — calculating his next move, and sure it would be against the dreadful thing of a man. However, before he could calculate, let alone enforce, his next motion, the Torch-Man had begun his excursion toward the first building and began to speak. 

“Citizens! You are to place a minimum of five doubloon coins into my burlap sack herein, in exchange for my compliance with your homes, as lacking in kerosene resistance, I imagine they are. Do I make myself clear?”

Murphy took a deep breath, his eyes shining in the light. It was not often that he stood completely still, but in this moment, he stared at the moisture-man, silently daring him to make another move. Staying in the same place out in the heat was unheard of for naught but a dead man; there was an understanding here, that one did not simply stand still. There was work to be done, and those whose hands stood idle for too long were smoked in the pressure of the fields. However, at this moment, Murphy stood completely still — frozen like a statue of a man. Given the span of time it would take to locate the nearest person from outside their town, or the time it took to remove every artery from the arms of a man, lay them end-to-end and hop back and forth upon them like it were hopscotch, Murphy would not be able to define the litany of emotions he felt in this moment. One, however, rose to the top like a man against the current: pure, unbridled rage.

The Moisture Man, a smile across his face, lifted his gloved hand to his head — the dust was now visible upon it. His smile twisted into a spiral of a thing that was ugly and Lovecraftian in its offputting shape — unnatural, even. He called out in a whisper, and yet also deafeningly loud: 

“Torch-Man! To show them what we mean, I should like you to light their ‘excess’ home!”

In mere seconds, the moment ignited. Murphy sprung to his feet and lunged at the Moisture Man, ready to tear him apart. The dust clouded in the air, causing all breathing in the area to grow labored in nature. Rhythmically, the moisture-man tapped his feet upon the ground twice in quick succession every few seconds as Murphy assaulted him. And, in the cloud of the scuffle, the Torch-Man activated the maw of its hose, causing it to glow a hot, red shade — surely hotter than even the sun above. In mere seconds, the oldest, most beloved home on the block had gone up in flames; the smoke billowed through the air, and the remains glowed like one massive ember that had struck the earth from far above in some calamity. From this moment, two things were evident: this was just the beginning of the end, and the men would not cease for a calamity above.

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About the Contributor
Ezra Riemermann
Ezra Riemermann, Opinion Editor
Ezra Riemermann is a senior at CHHS and a first-year Opinion Editor for The Heights Herald.  He is a devoted political mind with a pension for heated debate.  When he is not editing stories for the paper or debating various topics with his coworkers, Ezra works on various creative projects, which seem to tie into a strangely fated crusade to awaken or enlighten a populace who hardly recalls he exists beyond enigmatic recollections.