In the autumn of 2003 I was working a dead-end job as a door-to-door salesman of glow-in-the dark pencils in the small town of Bloomburg, Texas. My boss was a 24 year old kid named Rodney Familinomo. Rodney had suffered from a vicious acne condition in his earlier years and it had left his face looking like a flesh toned relief map of a bowl of rice pudding. I hated the kid, but his Dad owned the entire operation and I needed the job.
I arrived at the office early one morning to discover something quite bizarre. Someone, between the time of my arrival that morning and the time of my leaving work the previous evening, had affixed a large five-pointed star to the front of the office building. Perplexed, I attempted to make my way into the building but found the door still locked. This was rather odd as Mrs. Schriftfuhrer, the office secretary, should have been in to work at least forty-five minutes prior to my arrival — and she was known to be obsessively punctual.
I decided to make my way to the convenience store and gas station across the street. There I could at least get myself a cup of coffee and prod old Dale Vendisto for any information he might have regarding either the strange five-pointed star that now adorned my place of employment, or the possible whereabouts of Mrs. Schriftfuhrer. I entered the store, moved to the coffee dispensary, poured myself of steaming hot cup and approached the counter.
“Good morning, Dale.” I said, cheerfully.
“‘Mornin’ Tom.” He answered back.
“Listen, Dale. Did you happen to notice Mrs. Schriftfuhrer come into work this morning?”
“Didn’t see her, Tom. Not surprised, though. Wouldn’t expect her in ’till late today.”
Dale looked puzzled.
“You mean, you don’t know?” He said.
“No.” I responded, “What’s going on?”
“Well, if you don’t know, then I guess it’s not my place to say anything.”
I surmised it must be something personal with Mrs. Schriftfuhrer and decided it best not to press the subject.
“So,” I said. “what’s up with that crazy star thing someone put up on the front of the office? You know anything about that?”
“Boy! They really didn’t tell you anything, huh?”
“No, I guess they didn’t. I have no clue what’s going on.”
Dale seemed awfully amused by my ignorance.
“You just head on back across the street, Tom. Either Rodney or Mrs. Schriftfuhrer are bound to be showing up sometime soon. I’m sure you’ll find out everything you need to know once they do.”
I paid for my coffee, bid old Dale Vendisto a good morning, and headed back across the street to wait for one of my co-workers to arrive. After about thirty minutes of sitting out front of the office, sipping my coffee in the bright morning sunshine, Rodney finally came walking up the street.
“What’s going on Rod? I’ve been here an hour at least. Where’s Mrs. Schriftfuhrer?”
Rodney ignored me. Instead of answering he fumbled for his keys, opened the door to the office and moved inside. I followed him into the office.
“Rodney! What’s going on? What’s with that crazy star on the front of the building? What’s that for?”
“It’s almost time for the ritual.” He mumbled back.
“Huh? Ritual? What are you talking about?”
“Look Tom,” Rodney snapped back, “you’re pretty new here. You’ve only lived here, what? About seven or eight months or so? There’s a lot of stuff you don’t know about what goes on around here.”
“It would seem so.” I said. “So, why don’t you fill me in? This is all starting to seem more than a little weird.”
“Do you like your job, Tom?”
“Well, I need my job.”
“Right. You need your job. You need the money. You sell glow-in-the-dark pencils, and it keeps a roof over your head and food in your stomach. Right?”
“Well, yeah, kind of. But I live in a run-down motel and I eat canned beans five times a week.”
“Well, whatever, Tom. But, you’re getting paid for selling these pencils.”
“Well, did you ever wonder where these pencils come from, Tom? Did you ever wonder exactly how or why they glow?”
“No, Rod. I suppose I haven’t. I just sell the damned things.”
“Like I said, Tom. There’s a lot of things you don’t know.”
Rodney walked into his private office and closed the door behind him. Not knowing what to think about everything that had taken place that morning, I sat down at my desk and began to prepare the morning’s sales orders. However, after only a minute or so, Rodney suddenly reemerged from his office. I spun around in my chair and, to my surprise, there stood Rodney in a full-length black robe that had been adorned with sequenced stars and crescent moons. On his head was a hat of some sort made to resemble a great horned goat with piercing red eyes. On its forehead, between its eyes, there was the same five-pointed star which had appeared overnight on the front of the office building.
“Jeez! Rodney! What in the hell is with the get-up?” I blurted out.
“How do you think the pencils glow, Tom?”
“What are you talking about, Rod? This is crazy. Have you gone crazy?”
“How do you think the pencils glow, Tom?” Rodney repeated.
“Jeez, Rod! I don’t know how the hell the pencils glow! What in the hell is going on?”
Just then, the front door to the office creaked open. It was Mrs. Schriftfuhrer. I looked at her and a strange grin formed across her face.
“Do it.” She said.
Rodney reached into his robe and pulled out a large and rather heavy looking ball-peen hammer. He lunged at me.