Fleming Unit #15: Slimy Soccer
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Posted by Cinema Nippon on: 01:59 PM, 12/ 8/17
   I gripped the handle on the storage unit door and wrenched it upward as hard as I could possibly manage. It had been so long since I’d been in this place, I couldn’t remember what might have been left behind. To be honest, I couldn’t tell you why I had even kept my unit, save maybe generic laziness - not wanting to deal with taking out all of my shit, whatever that shit may have been.
So anyway, I flung the thing open, and as the light spilled in, I was expecting maybe some cardboard boxes, some plastic tubs, maybe some random Christmas ornaments all wrapped up and ready to go with a bow on top. The problem was that there wasn’t anything. Well, there almost wasn’t anything, except this white soccer ball that was rolling across the grey floor toward me. I told myself the door must have created some kind of vacuum, and that this sucked the soccer ball in my direction. It was weird, but whatever, stranger things have happened, I supposed. I knelt down and grabbed the soccer ball and tucked it under my armpit. The soccer ball reminded me of years back, when the kids visited the beach as a family and played in the sand together, two-on-two, one parent and one kid per team. I hadn’t touch a soccer ball, let alone probably seen one, since then.

It was right about then, as my eyes adjusted to the darkness inside the unit, that I realized just how damned dirty the place was. I’m not talking clothes-on-your-bedroom-floor dirty. I’m talking grimy. I figured for a minute that one of my teenagers must have taken the key to the unit from the kitchen drawer where I had happened to find it the day I got that email (Alice had pretty suspiciously known exactly where the key was when I offhandedly asked), and been coming here to do whatever it is that teenagers do. Somewhere along that train of thought, I came to the wholly logical conclusion that “whatever teenagers do” meant somehow managing to get this almost abyssal black substance caked on all of the surfaces of the place. Just a few inches before the threshold of the door, the substance stopped, making the entrance look like a beach, placing me, soccer ball under arm, right in the middle of the ocean.

The soccer ball. I checked and, sure enough, I had managed to get the gunk all over myself courtesy my new friend. My shoes were covered, too, making me slightly lose balance. It was slick, like oil, but thicker somehow.

Frustrated, I lugged the ball back to my car, threw it in the backseat, then trudged over to Stars and Bards just down the road. I knew Gregg, the owner, knew my kids from their nerdy obsessions, and we had spoken plenty of times before when the kids were too young to drive themselves. I half-expected to see Jeremy - or even Alice, to be honest - but then I remembered it was a school day.

Gregg greeted me, gregarious as ever. I’ve always gotten the feeling he’s the type who remembers the face of every person, young or old, who’s darkened his doorway. I asked a little curtly if he had any type of cleaner. Home was a bit of a drive, and I had made sure to wipe my feet on the pavement as best I could before coming in. When he asked what it was for, I told him about the unit and how dirty it was - I didn’t want to leave it that way, even if I had cleared out “all” of my stuff. He saw the black marks on my shirt from the ball and went to the back to check his supply closet. Returning, he offered me an old rag and a bottle of cleaner packed to the gills with ammonia. I could smell it without even spraying it. I thanked him and trekked back to the unit.

As it turned out, the substance was widespread, but not very thick. Giving the whole unit a quick once over - well, if you can call two hours quick - with the ammonia and the rag, it turned out that whatever the stuff was, it was pretty receptive to the cleaner. I had been sure the small rag wouldn’t be enough, and that Gregg might have even been trying to make a joke out of offering me such little to work with, but it sure enough did the trick. In no time, the whole place was back to being its old, dull grey.

I closed the door to the unit behind me and half-jokingly clapped my hands together after a job well done. One more time, I walked back to Gregg’s store and returned what I had borrowed. He waved goodbye politely. I got in my car and stared at the ball in the backseat before starting the engine. Neither Alice nor Jeremy played soccer ball - at least since I could remember. I looked down at my feet and noticed a black stain in the floorboard under the gas and brake pedals. The stain was ancient-looking, but I couldn’t remember how or when it had gotten there.

Posted by Rika84 on: 03:23 PM, 12/ 8/17
o-o What in the world could it be? hm. Good on him to clean it up, anyway.
This one has me convinced that for the project going forward, somebody needs to write a story of the police who had to go through the units. What would they even make of this?

Quick typo: "I hadn’t touch a soccer ball", should be "touched".
Also at the end... "Neither Alice nor Jeremy played soccer ball", shouldn't it just be "soccer", and not "soccer ball"? Or did you mean to say "with the soccer ball"?

Posted by Cinema Nippon on: 09:15 PM, 12/ 8/17
Omg, that's a pretty fantastic idea though.

You're right on both of those as being typos. Thanks for pointing them out.


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