The Haunting of Dinglebob [Short Story]

My wife randomly came up with the title, “The Haunting of Dinglebob” as we were driving one day by a scary-looking house. I thought it only appropriate to write a short story with this name and dedicate it to her on our first Valentine’s Day as a married couple. I hope you all enjoy my newest short story. (I recommend listening to this scary soundtrack while reading.)

 
Illustrated by Eric and Tiffany Kuhns

Illustrated by Eric and Tiffany Kuhns

 

"Where am I?” a young man about 25 blurted out.

He caressed the back of his skull indicating it was where he had been injured recently. His sleeve, tumbling off his wrist, exposed a modest, blurred tattoo. Next to him lay a wooden box with a face on it. Its eyes were of the googly variety and its mouth and nose were drawn crudely with a sharpie marker. 

“Sir,” the box flapped, “you’re in an old, dusty room. The type of living quarters that could only be occupied by someone with no friends and no self-control, though I suspect you have little of either. What a complete tragedy.“

The man scuffled like a crab backwards in terror until he struck his head on a beam in the room's middle.  

“Damn it!”  he shouted.

”My intention was not to terrorize you, sir. I am, but a box with a face. As you can see, I was not drawn to match my anatomy. I have a mouth painted upon me and yet I communicate through my lid. Children are abhorrent individuals and are only made worse with the aid of a drawing instrument.”  

The man curled into a ball and tucked his knees in close. He was at a loss for words. 

”How silly of me. You’re frightened because I am a talking box!” 

The youthful man found his breath and pushed his tongue around to gain traction. 

”I’ve met plenty of speaking boxes in my life. I’m not afraid of you. I’m apprehensive of the man affixed to the wall behind you!” 

He pointed behind the box to another human like himself though this man was aged and nailed to a wall. Someone had replaced his legs with brooms and his fingers were all missing. Most notably, his eyes were gouged out and replaced with googly eyes. 

The box turned to look, returned eye contact to the young man and sighed.

”You think I did that? Why? Because I have googly eyes? So presumptuous. This isn’t some off-brand version of Coraline. The children made him too. They produce everything here. You know that.”

The man let down his safeguard, but only marginally. His knee joints popped as he uncoiled them. He even leaned in a little and opened up.

”The last thing I remember is walking through an antique store with my friends when suddenly... I was here with a terrible headache.”

The box wobbled closer. 

”Pick me up and let me show you something.” 

The man quickly slid his hands around the box. As he lifted it up, the ends of his fingers bent to brace it from the bottom. The box yelped. 

”Hey, buddy! Watch where you’re grabbing!” 

The young man instantly straightened his fingers while still putting enough pressure on each side of the box to hold it. 

”I’m so sorry for whatever I touched!” 

The box let out a hearty chuckle. 

”I’m just a box, idiot. Now bend those phalanges back and keep me safe.”

The man was visibly annoyed at the joke and gripped harder than needed. 

”Well, don’t crack the only wood I do have. Walk us over to the window and tell me what you see.” 

The man moved cautiously toward the one window in the room. The ground beneath bent and squeaked with each step. Shimmering particles danced in the sunlight before them. As he approached the glass, he peered outward and let out a gasp.

”What? How...” he stammered. 

The box stared with him as best as a pair of wonky, craft eyes can. 

”Wave to them. Don’t be rude.”

”It’s...” the young man surrendered his capacity to form sentences again. 

“It’s us,” the box remarked, “it’s always been us. It’s only us. Why must I continue reminding you.” 

”How many times have we walked to this window?” the man inquired.  

“By my count? About 6,000 times. Our conversations used to be lengthier, but we invariably just talk about the children and the antique store, even though we both know deep down the kids were your idea. I’ve grown distressed of the repetition.”

“What do I do next?” 

The man could feel familiarity, but couldn’t decipher what any of it meant. 

“Well, it’s different. Sometimes you jump out of the window. Sometimes you decide to search for an exit, but you never find one. My favorite is when you shift into a detective and look for clues on the body.” 

”The body...” 

The young man set the box down and ambled toward the old man on the wall. 

”Ahh, this is my favorite one.”

It satisfied the box that he had chosen this scenario.

The body smelled abhorrent and the battered man looked recently departed though the wall appeared darkened in his shape. It was if the body had been melting into the wall for some time. He went through all the pockets of the corpse, but they were empty. He was about to give up when he saw ink on the elderly man’s wrist in the same place he had his. 

“We have the same tattoo! Wait... is this old man-”

The box interrupted. 

“Who? You? Don’t be ridiculous. This isn’t some M. Night Shyamalan travesty. The tattoos are purely a coincidence manufactured entirely inside your head. It’s still blurry to you isn’t it?”

“Yes, but that’s a pretty big coincidence wouldn’t you say?” 

“When you have limited imagination and memory, things repeat, Sam.”  

The man was aghast. 

”How do you know my name?” 

The box lid swung open and a few children the size of little green army men crawled out. The inside of the lid read, “Property of Sam”. They played with jump ropes and Jax while ignoring the existence of Sam. The kids suddenly fell to the floor into a pile of clay and rebuilt themselves into a miniature variant of the old man pinned to the wall. The elderly man spoke.

”When will you forgive yourself, Sam? It’s been years. The house is condemned for god sake.” 

Sam was beyond confused. The small, old man locked eyes and walked calmly between his legs. The young man observed the tiny, venerable man as he shifted around.

”We all have the tattoo, Sam. Look sharply at it. What do you see?

The young man stared and inspected it closer, but he couldn’t see what precisely it was. He became irate and frustrated. 

”Damn it! What is it!?” 

”You don’t remember, Bob?”

The old man ascended up the bigger and deader version of himself.

Sam/Bob became furious.

”MY NAME IS SAM! DON’T CALL ME BOB!”  

The young man paused. He didn’t understand why he felt so resentful. Why did the name “Bob” set him off like that?

The small man continued talking. He was gripping loose skin on the dead man’s neck to propel himself upward. 

“Your name’s not Sam, it’s Bob. You switched it to Sam when you couldn’t take the ridicule anymore. You still don’t recall why you’re here do you?

”Just tell me!” he shouted. 

The old man climbed into the mouth of the larger old man, (his counterpart). He slid down the throat. Sam/Bob could see the bulge of him through the wrinkles as he descended.

A moment passed.

The dead body came alive and ripped off of the wall. He flailed his arms like a monster who had broken free of a cage. His demeanor seemed ferocious at first until he sneezed and stood perfectly still. Standing on two brooms, the mutilated being looked upwards toward the young man and spoke serenely.

“Maybe this will help: the tattoo is a poop, Bob.” 

”IT’S NOT A POOP, IT’S A HANGING FRUIT! ”IT’S NOT A CRAP, IT’S A HANGING FRUIT! IT’S NOT A DINGLE BERRY, IT’S A HANGING FRUIT, DAMN IT!“

These words flew forth through the young man’s tongue and teeth as if he had rehearsed and spoken it a thousand times before.

The old man moved in closer and ignored Bob’s tantrum.

”You wanted all of your friends to admire your new wrist tattoo, but they all snickered at you and called you Dinglebob.”

”Shut up!” 

”Don’t get mad at me, Bob. You’re the only one in this room.” 

Abruptly, the place cleared. The box... the old man… all vanished into thin air.  

A light mist spread about the area in front of him. The bodies of all of his friends from his past suddenly appeared and lay lifeless upon the ground. They were like apparitions and his perception of them ebbed and flowed with the mist and sunlight. He finally remembered.

”I killed them. I slaughtered them all.” 

Bob glanced down. He had a pistol in his hands. He twisted it sideways to reveal his wrist and the tattoo he believed was a hanging fruit. (Even as an outsider telling you this story, it undoubtedly looked like a dingleberry hanging out of a butthole.)  

Bob couldn’t accept the truth. 

He lifted the gun to his head as tears spilt down his face.  He whispered to himself.

”It’s not a poop...” 

*BANG

[…]

[...] 

”Where am I?” 

“Sir,” the box flapped, “you’re in an old, dusty room. The type of living quarters that could only be occupied by someone with no friends and no self-control, though I suspect you have little of either. What a complete tragedy.“ 

 
the end.jpg
 

Some of the Coolest Small Living Spaces Around the World

You probably already know of my love for architecture and small, minimalist spaces if you read my tiny apartments article. Today though, I’d like to go a bit more broad and show you some of my favorite small, living spaces from around the world. This includes a customized apartment, a century old sailboat, an amazing tree house, and a customized van. Instead of giving too much opinion on each, I just made titles as you know that if I posted it here, I love it. Enjoy!


Century Old Sailboat

DIY Coder’s Apartment

Beautiful Tree House

Awesome Van Conversion

Introducing Skratch: The App That Connects Teens With Work Opportunities

As we enter the new year… wait. WHAT? It’s already the end of January!? Well, in any case, my goal this year, (whatever is left of it) is to focus my attention on not only travel and personal articles like I’ve been doing, but to reach out to Texas-based companies and individuals that I think are passionate about fantastic ideas and promote them. After all, I’m in the perfect city for this type of thing as Dallas was named the 11th most high tech city in the world by Business Insider. (That’s gotta count for something, right?)

Today, I’d like to talk about a platform that I wish existed when I was young. It’s called Skratch and their goal is to connect teenagers with job opportunities in their area.

I came upon Skratch while driving down Highway 75 when I noticed strolling along next to me a car with their decals covering it. A quick google search revealed a company I knew I wanted to start 2019 writing about. I reached out to Scott Bennett, the founder and CEO at Skratch via LinkedIn who was very nice, and he got me in contact with Jessica Shannon, their Marketing Communications Specialist. Here was our conversation.

Can you briefly explain what Skratch is?

Skratch is the future of work mobile platform that leverages ambitious teens as service providers at an affordable cost.

Skratch connects teens (ages 14-19) with work opportunities to earn in their communities allowing organizations and businesses to use as a staffing solution. In the process, Skratch instills tenants of financial literacy and independence. Teens gain valuable work experience in a flexible manner meeting the unpredictability of their over-scheduled lives. The ultimate goal is to teach the importance of income and the opportunities it creates while delivering valuable services to users.
— Jessica Shannon
 
 

Where did the idea for Skratch come from?

The founders of Skratch grew up worlds apart Scott in Dallas, Texas and Ronen in Bat Yam, Israel. They grew in up in very different cultures. However, one thing they absolutely had in common was the value and importance they placed on working as they grew up.

Scott was often around his grandfather’s handbag factory where products were manufactured and later, he spent time in retail selling shoes. Like Scott, Ronen learned about work from his family as he spent time with his father, a shoemaker. He earned most of his money in his teenage years working as a photographer for birthdays and weddings. Now, with teens of their own seeking work in a dispiriting market, the pair recognized a massive shift away from the importance and ability for teens to gain valuable work experience.

Skratch was created when Ronen’s son, Liam shared his own struggles to find work and expressed that traditional part time employment no longer works for teens today. He realized that so many changing factors have made it almost impossible for teens to find a job. It was his inspiration that motivated Scott and Ronen to build this platform. Skratch is the forward-thinking and relevant solution that creates new opportunities for teens.

Scott and Ronen believe that young people deserve the chance to learn to earn. Leveraging this technology while offering flexibility give teens the same opportunities that so many adults have today. That is working when, how and for who they want to while meeting the demands of their busy lifestyles.
— Jessica Shannon

What are your future goals/plans for the company?

Skratch was originally only available on iOS, but is now also available on Android devices. The app is currently only accessible in the greater Dallas, TX area, but in the coming months will be available in Austin, San Antonio and Houston.

Other than geo expansion Skratch is looking for partners. We acquire users by partnering with organizations to connect community members in ways that benefit teens and whole communities. Our technology allows each partnership to be customized to an organization’s needs. Potential partners include schools, athletic programs, non-profits, community centers, businesses and more.
— Jessica Shannon

Skratch seems like such a fantastic idea and it seems crazy that it didn’t exist before. I remember going door to door in my neighborhood when I was 14/15 years old asking to mow lawns and rake leaves for a little cash. Had this app existed then, I know I would have had so many more opportunities not only financially, but in developing interpersonal skills and general experience as well. I highly recommend this app to any parents out there with teenagers.

Additionally, if you or someone you know wants to hire a teen for event support, sports, family assistance, creative arts, or a number of other work opportunities, try Skratch for free with the promo code: Koonagi.

You can also email them at support@skratch.co with questions or visit their FAQs.

Support Skratch Below!

 

I’ll be connecting with a lot of other Texas-based brands and individuals for future articles so stay tuned!

To check out other companies/creators in Texas, as well as other posts about our great state, click here.