This one I wrote all the way back in tenth grade, so it may be a bit rough around the edges, but I'll be the first to admit it still has some pretty great characters. I'm also honestly impressed how well it holds up, considering the actual plot ostensibly hinges around the stereotypical American High School party (you all know what I mean by this euphemism) and I actually wrote it several years before my first experiences with alcohol...

A Thom Swanson original  comedy of painfully epic proportions

Sponges. I don't know why I chose that particular word to begin my story, it was the just the first thing that popped into my head when I  sat down and decided to write it. It is not some brilliant metaphor, or a word that is in anyway relevant to anything. It is simply a word with no hidden meaning or importance whatsoever. In fact there isn't even a single sponge in this entire story, nor even any reference to sponges. There was absolutely no reason for me to begin this story with that word other than pure whimsical stupidity. That and I don't know of any other way to start it.
Yes, I suppose I could have begun by setting the scene and building up the atmosphere, but that whole "It was a dark and stormy night" thing has been worked to death a hundred times over already and really didn't strike me as the beginning this story deserved. Ok, I know I didn't do much better with my "sponges," but, truth be told at this point I’m not even entirely sure I have story.
But hey, that’s my problem, not yours, so just sit back and relaxes as I grapple to somehow justify my randomness, and defy all logical reason by working "sponges" into this mess in a way that doesn't leave everyone thinking I'm a raving lunatic. So, now that I got that out of my system… It was a dark and stormy night.
And quite frankly, we didn't give a damn. Now, I suppose it shouldn't have been "we" at all, seeing as my uncle wasn't here, but with all due respect, that was kind of his own fault.

My parents had dumped me at my uncle’s for a week while they went to some wedding. Of course, normally, I wouldn't be complaining about something like this, but that only goes to show you don’t know my uncle.
My uncle was a real piece of work. He was a monster of a man, weighing upwards of 300lbs, and standing at something like nine feet. Well, ok, six foot five inches, but to a short scrawny kid like me, it didn't really make much of a difference. Me, I definitely took after my father, a small, dumpy, balding man. Looking at my dad and uncle together, you would never guess the two were brothers.
My dad was nearly as short as me, about as pale as they come, and broke a sweat reaching for The TV remote. Not to mention the fact that you could use the top of his head as a mirror by the time he was thirty. My uncle on the other hand, had a full head of long jet black hair, a deep brown tan, complete with rippling superman muscles, and was bench pressing 350lbs. I know because you have to walk through his gym to get to the wine cellar.
We probably shouldn't have been in the wine cellar either, but again, if he'd just dropped off the face of the earth, could you really blame us?
Back to my uncle, if I had to describe him in one word, and I couldn't use the natural first choices of "mysterious" or "downright scary," then, despite as that superhero imagery I just threw at you, I would have to go for “gaunt.”
I wouldn't be half surprised if he went to funerals for fun: His wardrobe certainly suggested something along those lines. I quite literally have never seen him wear any color other than black, and on only four occasions within the entirety of my recollection was he not wearing dark, designer sunglasses.
So what did such a man do for a living? I haven't the foggiest idea.
Once I'd worked up the courage to ask my dad, and he’d said he was an agent for the CIA. Unfortunately, the one thing my father and his brother did have in common was their poker face. My dad was the kind of person who could tell you the earth was flat and he was part of a secret Martian society dedicated to cultivating the rumor that it wasn't with a completely straight face. And the worst part was, he could make you believe it. And, of course, this was the one thing I didn't inherit from my father. I couldn't tell a lie if my life depended on it.
And it was because of this particular trait of his that I have no idea whether my uncle actually did work for the CIA, or if this was just my father's idea of humor coming through. Personally though, I’m inclined to think it's the later. For some reason, I just can't see my Uncle in the CIA. He just seems, too, well, to be quite frank, sinister.
Honestly, I don't think my father even knows what his brother does for a living. I think he probably knows as much about his sibling’s occupation as I do, and that boils down to, all said and done, just about squat.
The only thing I know for sure about my uncle’s job is the fact that it pays extremely well. My uncle was what the politically correct would call "well-off and everyone else calls "loaded." At This point, you may be coming to some of the same conclusions I have. Let me put it this way: Everyone knows those movies where they glorify the bad guy. When most people see Jason Borne, or Mr. and Mrs. Smith, they think something along the lines of "What a coot person! Who cares if they have a questionable job when they’re so awesome!”
Me, I think about how every one of those characters is somebody's son or daughter.
And in all likelihood, they're probably someone's sibling as well. Heck, it wouldn't even be surprising if at least a few of them were someone's uncle.
So what exactly am I insinuating here? Am I implying I think my uncle would be capable of killing a complete stranger in cold blood for money? In one word, yes.
I mentioned that my dad and uncle shared their poker face. The difference between them, however, was my uncle never took his off. I have never seen him show any signs that he even knew what emotions were. No anger, sadness, surprise, anything, but a blank, scowling wall where there should have been a face. He looked more like a mannequin than an actual human being... A very buff, scary, mannequin that could rip your arms off, albeit, but a mannequin nonetheless.
That's why I think he fits the contract killer bill so well: He's as inhuman as anyone I know, and then some.
                So that’s pretty much all you need to know about my uncle; so now I’m going to introduce you to his house. It  was this ancient Victorian thing, complete with sagging roof lines, lopsided towers, and peeling painted siding. If you’re having trouble getting a mental image of it, I’m pretty sure it was where they filmed Dr. Frankenstein’s Monster. Or maybe it was Count Dracula. You get the picture.
It was out in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by woods, and seemed to draw its own stormy darkness to it, regardless of prevailing climate trends. It had an overpowering morbidity about it and something about its air made you always talk in whispers. I can't say what for sure, but something was definitely not right about the place, in the constant-feeling-someone's-watching-you, unexplained-shivers-down-your-spine kind of way. Whenever you go inside, you feel as if you're impeding on something that shouldn't be disturbed; as if you're crossing some moral barrier into a realm of lost memories and perpetual sorrow.
Sometimes, I find it hard to believe my uncle actually lives out his day to day life there. Maybe it’s the dust, or the moldy curtains, or perhaps it's the oil lamp fixtures that remain strewn across the walls despite having been replaced by electric lights a century previously, but it really doesn't feel lived in at all. It seems much more like it’s trapped in some sad long ago time, unchanging in its deathly solitude.
Then again, I suppose if anyone could live there, then it was my uncle. I suppose when you think about it, the house fits him like a glove. Both were mysterious, imposing figures, cut off from the rest of the world by their own secluded obscurity.
And with both, my parents left me, for AN ENTIRE WEEK.
Fortunately, it didn't stay "both" for long, an, in all honesty, given the choice between my uncle, and the house that could make Scooby-Doo's Velma believe in ghosts, I would choose the house.
My uncle had been there to greet me, then, as soon as my parents' car was hidden by the trees had disappeared into his study and locked the door. On his instruction, I made myself at home, which basically entailed dumping my pack in the first of the countless unoccupied bedrooms, and wandering anxiously around the place until I found the home cinema. I then spent the next twelve hours watching TV with the volume turned down as far as possible (even with the soundproof panels built in, I wasn't taking any chances of disturbing my uncle… or something worse) until at little past ten, I finally heard my uncle's office lock unlatch.
That's another of the houses more disturbing  properties: The acoustics were such that every minuscule sound was captured, amplified to a couple hundred decibels, and transported to the farthest and most discrete corners of the house, where they would bounce around in ghostly echoes for the better part other next half hour. A few moments later my uncle appeared and informed me it was time for dinner.
"Dinner" turned out to be something surprisingly similar to freeze-dried military
K-rations heated up in the microwave. I have to say, even if the food was awful, the knowledge that my omnipotent uncle couldn't cook gave that warm fuzzy feel in inside. I figured this was a pretty safe assumption to make, seeing as he managed to actually burn the packaged food in the microwave, especially considering cooking, as it would happen, was one of my few talents.
After a couple of intolerable bites in palpably strained silence, through which I had a horrible notion of my uncle's eyes boring into me from behind the uncompromising lens of his infamous shades, I retired back to the cinema where I watched some more TV until roundabouts of midnight when I decided I was too tired to put up with the crap TV showing, so decided to finally brave the house beyond and call it a night.
Then, at just after three in the morning, a ringing phone woke me. My uncle promptly cut it short, and after several minutes of the ethereal shadows of his hushed conversation, I heard the front door slam and his cutsom 6 liter BMW pull out of the drive and go shooting through the gears down the main road.
I was a bit too tired and preoccupied by the overwhelming layers of creepiness the night added to the house to think much of it, and by the time I finally drifted back to sleep, the grandfather clock was adding its morose chimes to the last lingering vestiges of the phone’s ring.
I woke up at eleven thirty the next morning, and after much moaning and groaning, actually got up. The weather, as usual at my uncle's house, was foul, cold, and wet. Eventually, I made my way to the main corridor, where I found an extremely vague note from my uncle saying he had some "unexpected business" to attend to, and he would be back, and I quote, "later." Enclosed with The note was $500 in cash, and a cell phone number which was only to be used in emergencies. The last words were capitalized and underlined:
I could feel my uncle's coldness coming through his handwriting in those words and I vowed that whatever happened, I would never call that number.
Next, I raided the kitchen still puzzling over whether to feel relief or fear at my uncle's disappearance, but confident that food would help. To my dismay, there was nothing edible in the place other than a mildly-inexhaustible stock pile of the K-rations, a box of stale energy bars, and an empty carton of milk , from the fridge. So, I did what any normal kid recently endowed with $500 would do and ordered pizza.
I spent the rest of the day doing pretty much what I'd done the previous one, that is watching TV, occasioning the extensive DVD library I'd discovered to mix things up, and gorging myself on pizza and chips while drinking Coke straight from the bottle.
And so the day came and went, and eventually I turned in for the night, all alone.
 I woke up late again the next morning, but there was still no sign of my uncle. I again headed for the cinema, but by day three, TV was getting a bit old. My uncle was still MIA, and I was getting tired of mopping around doing nothing, not to mention a bit creeped out from my prolonged loneliness in the house, so I decided I would have to take any means necessary to relieve my restlessness before it killed me.
The means I ultimately deemed necessary were to invite some friends over. It was nothing big, mind you, just six or seven people, but figured that with $476.21 cash, a massive empty house, and no parental supervision, one could have quite a party. Yes, it was extremely risky, as my uncle could turn up at any given moment, but I banked on the fact if he'd already been gone the better part of two days, he probably wasn't going to be back any time soon.
So we were having a ripe old time, watching movies, eating pizza, partaking in the usual horse play and general fooling around, and eventually, yes, visiting the wine cellar. I want to say now that this was not my idea and doing such things is not a habit of mine. In fact, I had never drunk before and would never dream of stealing alcohol in my own house. And that's not just because my father keeps all our booze locked up.
Still, I'm not trying to pretend I wasn't in the wrong; I admit I never offered any resistance to the idea—well no outward resistance anyway—and I did, after all, show them where the wine cellar was.
It was also about this time that the storm started. Like I said before, we didn't really care; we just cranked the music up louder and kept right on partying. And, as I am eternally ashamed to say, the more we partied, the more we found it necessary to make trips to the wine cellar.
Unsurprisingly, the party was ever escalating in its wildness and we’re flying along having a ball. Also, the more we frequented the wine cellar, the more "having a ball' entailed rough housing and horsing around over watching movies and eating pizza. In fact, the party got down right out of control, in the things-get-broken kind of way.
What did we break you ask?
Wrong question. What you should be asking is what didn't we break. Yes it really was that bad. And the worst part was, we didn't even realize the extent to which we were trashing the place. In our minds, nothing could stop us...
And then the lights went out.
I have to tell you, there is nothing more sobering then everything stopping in the middle of a party and suddenly realizing that you're in the middle of a storm, everything is completely dark, and you've just been getting yourself info more trouble then you could possibly fathom.
It was like the same switch that turned off the lights had turned on my common sense, and I didn't much like what my common sense had to say when it finally came back on the air. It was a bit too late for it now.

I again did what any normal kid would do when he just realized he'd royally screwed himself over in front of all of his friends, and put on a cool face, pretending not to take any notice of the fact.
"Well that sucks," I said, trying to sound as indifferent as possible.
Someone laughed nervously in the newly broken silence and then a light flickered into existence as someone else brought out their lighter. The small light pushed back at the shadows revealing the number of pale white faces underneath, all doing a pretty good job of illustrating my true feelings.
"Well let's go then," said taking up the leadership roll so I wouldn't lapse into despair, "I saw some flashlights in the kitchen."
"Then what'll we do?"
"Turn on the generator."
"Your uncle has a generator?"
I shrugged in the darkness, "Why shouldn't he?"
We retrieved the flashlights and started out on our search. We scoured the basement first and, when that turned up no results, made for the other likely location of the garage. The garage was a later extension that had been added on who knows when, and as such had no door connecting to the house. Therefore, to get to the garage, we had to brave the stormy dark outside.
Sure it was only a few feet through the rain, but it was the kind of rain you see those hurricane reporters standing in when you know they're really safe and sound in some studio miles away with some guy dumping buckets of water over their heads. Only this wasn't buckets of water, this was real rain, so we couldn't simply ask the guy to stop for a minute while we ran from the safety of the house to that of the garage, and the several seconds it took was entirely sufficient to soak us to the bone.
It probably didn't help that we were all drunk out of our skulls either.
And so we emerged dripping into the garage. I think it would be safe to say that my uncle's garage was just as messy and cluttered as the rest of his house was empty and desolate, and my heart sank as I directed my flashlight beam through the expansive piles of junk. You could have fit five cars in the place if you’d wanted to, but instead there were mountains of everything from large, stacked iron shelving units, in varying states of disrepair, to empty paint cans, old engine parts, and an antique toboggan, to the massive, cracked claw foot tub thrown into a corner.
Eventually, after an extensive display of drunken clumsiness and curses, we found it, tucked away in a corner under a dusty blanket and rusting ten-speed bike. I'm really not the best person one could ask in such matters, but I'm pretty sure it was a generator. Still, the find wasn't exactly getting my hopes up. It had obviously not been used in the past few millennia, and looked as if it would crumble if someone so much as blinked too fast in its general direction. Still, we'd come this far, so I figured it could hardly hurt to at least try.
I located what I took to be the pull string, and gave it good, hard yank, sending myself spinning to the ground in the process. The motor was completely frozen up, and the cord hardly moved an inch. Oh well, nothing surprising there: Given the state of the state of the thing, I’m more surprised that the cord didn't decide to just break off with this first attempt, and so refused to be deterred. With a little more prompting, the junk piles yielded a can of WD40 and by the time the entirety of its contents was dripping into a puddle on the floor we had It moving. After about a billion and a half more tries, in a tumultuous display of black smoke, grinding metal, and ominous clanking’s, the thing finally did something, if only for a few deafening seconds.
Once our ears had stopped ringing, we decided that it probably needed more gas, so again set off to the endless maze of trash.
I was the first to find some. It was in a large, rusting tin containing several gallons. I called out to the others, grasping the handle so as to haul it over to the generator. The handle, in response proceed to promptly pop off, sending me and the upturned tin crashing into a large, exceeding painful pile of, you guessed it, yet more junk.
I less-than-gracefully pulled myself to my feet only to immediately slip back into the puddle of gasoline pouring out onto the floor, before finally managing to get myself and the tin back upright.
What next followed was a stooge-worthy performance of tripping, dropping, and spilling, which I have chosen to leave up to your imagination as a sign that I do have the tiniest shard of dignity left intact, so that by the time I managed to actually get the tin over to the generator, half of its contents had taken up residence in my clothes and all over the garage floor.
I was next able to remove the cap to the generators gas tank, with the aid of nothing more than a hammer and lead pipe, then emptied the tin, seeing to it that half the remaining contents joined their misplaced brethren.
Finally I was able to take another crack at the pull string. This time, when the generator finally sputtered into life, it kept going.
I couldn't believe it; Success!
Still, there was a nagging feeling that something still wasn't quite right...

It was skill dark.
I frowned, dusting off the violently vibrating gauges.
"It says it's producing a charge!" I yelled over the engine, "Maybe it's not hooked up to the grid!"
I dug my way to the back where the wires connected to the fuse box and immediately saw the problem.
"The wire's broken!" I shouted, reaching back towards it.
The wires were way back in the corner and the generator afforded only an arms width leading back to them. I strained my fingers, mere fractions of an inch away. If I could only get the two ends to touch...
I vaguely remember a large bang and flash of orange, and then everything went dark.
I must not have been out too long, because the next thing I remember I was sifting up, hacking in thick oily smoke, to see a couple of the guys slapping the smoldering engine and surrounding floor with heavy blankets.
"What happened?" I asked, painfully stretching my arm under the charred remains of my shirt. One of them turned from the smoking mess and I could see relief wipe across his face as he saw I was conscious.
“When you sparked the wires, the gasoline and WD40 went up," he said, hurrying over to my side.
"So basically, I was electrocuted then caught fire," I said, not sure how to react to the information, "Sounds like fun. Where are the others?"
"They went to call your uncle..."
"WHAT?!?!" I roared, leaping to my feet.
"We found his cell phone number," the poor guy stammered, scared out of his wits by my outburst, “It seemed the logical thing to do, I mean..."
I didn't wait to hear the rest of it, I was already crashing through the junk and out the door. They could call 911, or the freaking national guard for all I cared, but my uncle? I tore through the rain and mud, crashing through the door. They were in the corridor, as I'd predicted, phone in hand.
The small group turned, bewildered, as I leapt over the fallen chandelier (compliments of our party) screaming for them to stop. I snatched the phone from its stunned holder as the other guys from the garage came running in after me.
I lifted the receiver to my, ear, terrified of what I might hear...
For The second time in as many minutes, my world disappeared into a bright flash as I was blown across the room. I smashed into the grandfather clock (probably the one thing that had been left standing) and it came crashing down on top of me, its splintering gongs merging with my moans.
I couldn't believe it! All those times I'd been told not to use the phone during a thunder storm because lightning could travel through the phone line: I’d never have thought you could actually be electrocuted by a phone!
My head was spinning (not to mention swelling painfully) my ears were ringing, and my eyes and throat burned. Suddenly, a bright white light flashed into being, completely consuming my scantly lingering essence. This was it! I was dying!
Then the front door exploded open and I realized it was ten times worse.
The lights were, in fact, the headlights of my uncle's BMW on high beam pointed through the newly cracked window panes, and that would make the exploding door... my uncle.
He was dripping wet and blood from a gash above his left eye streamed down his face.

And he was MAD—His anger radiated out at us in absolute, deathly power. And to top it all off, he was holding a gun.
Ok, sure, a lot of people have guns. But this wasn't the kind of gun a lot of people have. I found myself staring down the fist-sized barrel of what would have been classified as a handgun, but which I wouldn't have been able to lift with both hands and a fork lift. From one minute jerk of my uncle's finger, that gun would do so much more than just blow me and my friends away.
”Don't anybody move a muscle," he said slowly, clearly spitting out each word, expertly panning the gun around so as to cover everybody in the room, leaving absolutely no doubt as to his control over the situation.
I figured that, as much as hated to admit it, I was going to have to speak up if I didn't want to see my friends' brains blown to the far side of China. The only problem was what to say. I was dead serious when I said I couldn't t if my life depended on it, and I was beginning to realize that right now, my life might just depend on it for real. Therefore, I decided I had no choice but to tell him the one thing crazy enough for him to believe... the truth.
"Uh, hi, Uncle... er, uh sir?" I managed to choke out at a half sort of whisper.
Now my uncle truly seemed genuinely surprised. I don't think he'd even seen me underneath what was left of his clock, and it seemed my appearance was the one thing that could've caught him off guard. From the look on his wide eyed face slowly turned in my direction, I could tell I was the last person he expected to see in the middle of all this.
"Jimmy?" he asked in shock, even the gun faltering slightly in his grip, his eyes moving from the strange people to the broken furniture and empty bottles, "All this, was… you?"
"Yup," I said, pulling myself into a sitting position, wincing as much from pain as from the very broken sounding remains of the clock falling from my chest, "The house, the wine, the generator, all me."
"Generator?" he repeated, sounding so thoroughly confused that I decided to simply nod rather than peruse the subject.
My uncle stood stock still, saying nothing as I explained the whole thing, and then, only when the last horrible truth had come stumbling out of my mouth did he finally lower his gun.
He gave me a quick once over, and, deciding I wasn't about to die anytime soon, took all my friends home, leaving me alone to brood in my fear and guilt.
Finally he returned, still disconcertingly silent. He cleaned and bandaged my wounds with practiced efficiency, speaking only to give me commands. He finished in due time but still said nothing, sifting perfectly still, staring into space. All the while, my anticipation was growing. I wished he would shout and yell (a lifetime living with my father had a certain way of teaching one to deal with such things), do anything other than just leave me to contemplate what horrible punishment he had in store for me. Suddenly he moved and I nearly jumped before I realized what the movement had been. But then he was pulling off his sunglasses and kneading his eyes with a massive hand. He pulled the hand down his troubled, pensive face before turning to look at me with his stunningly deep, crystal clear dark blue eyes.
“How old are you now Jimmy?"
“16," I replied before adding an awkward, "uh ... sir."
He shook his head thoughtfully.
"You're all grown up now. I can remember when you were only this tall," he said, lowering his hand down to around his knee, which was probably only about six inches below my current height.
"Yeah," I said morosely, "You're truly grown up when that's something you regret."

And there you have it: sponges. They can soak up an awful lot of crap without a second glance,  but when it comes down to it, they're really just full of holes and, eventually, they'll reach a point when everything has to come flooding out, and you never know what you'll end up with then.

And don't worry, I have absolutely no idea what that's supposed to mean either, so just, you know, make out what you will.

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