Here’s to you, Death
you horrid overachiever
over ambitious census taker
passive aggressive subduer and shaker
surveyor of long distance kisses
purveyor of fatal near misses
dancing naked between bible verses
hiding inside old ladies’ nylon purses
Overstayer of welcomes
at family gatherings and dinner parties
until the food suddenly goes bad
and the guests turn sullen and disperse
leaving the host to feed off of himself
till there’s nothing left
but a simpering monologue in a single Windsor knot
Last name on a funeral invitation list
no matter how badly the sermon bores
and idle thoughts turn to fantasies
of murder among the still living
Citing awesome scripture at animal orgies
before the proceedings quickly turn violent
and people run screaming for the exits
when the first presence of smoke is detected
Grinning coyly at me
whenever I peer into my mailbox
to fetch the bones they’ve tossed out for me
so I won’t go mad with loneliness
and start biting strangers’ ankles on the street
How persuasive you can be
wagging your bony finger in my direction
as I take my first step towards
where the ground ends
while giving me a friendly shove forward
to help me over the edge
Giving me your slim thumbs up
as if I can do no wrong
when I can’t even tell what’s right
It is with your permission and resolve
that I shall remain relatively harmless
in this wicked, wicked world
A state of perfect inaction
on any matter of importance
I do wish I had your imperative
to tell people nothing
and yet show them the disparity
between We and Them.
To do something, anything, everything
while not a soul pays attention to my sleight hand
drawing your smiling skeleton card
out from the vapid air
waiting for you to grin my way
and call my bluff
Here’s to you, Death
you old coward.
Posted on: January 30 2012
4.0 / 5
Kora woke at dawn, as usual and glanced out the tall bay window beside her bed. Rain. Wonderful, they would have to bring the training inside today. Kora moved her gaze to the detailed artwork that covered her ceiling. Her opulent suite was one of the many perks of being an overachiever. However the artwork and lavish luxury suite were quite familiar to Kora by now, they had been hers since she was sixteen and first saved the crown prince of Eradra's life. The first time meaning it had happened on more than one occasion, fine fighter Firenze might be but he had, previous to this year been a reckless boy who was far from sensible. His much overdue maturity could have saved Kora a lot of trouble if it had showed up on time.
Getting out of bed Kora swore violently, the rain had cooled the air and her muscles had stiffened in the night. She would have to ask the Housekeeper for extra blankets tonight to prevent it happening again. Another perk of being an overachiever, aside from the fancy set of rooms, was room service.
A servant, whom in her seven years of occupying this suite Kora had never managed so much of a glimpse of, had left a jug of an Earth drink called coffee. Earth, what a bizarre name for a world. The inhabitants of Earth called it "planet earth" which was a highly inaccurate term when in fact Earth was merely a dimension of one world. But that was basics for you - basics being the main inhabitants of Earth - always trying to explain every miracle of nature but completely cut off from their world. No magic! They had no idea about how their animals and plants connected to their world - Kora sighed. Too much thinking for only four-thirty in the morning.
Three cups of coffee later Kora felt capable of doing something about her tired and abused muscles - she was only twenty-three! It simply wasn't fair that she awoke aching. Kora walked over to the fire that the invisible servant had lit for her and stuck her hand in it. A stupid move for many people however Kora was an elemental user, the least common of the magical traits and a selective gene, elemental magic had no pattern of inheritance unlike both shapeshifting and word magic. The fire eagerly ran up Kora's arm playing over her body, excited by the contact with her magic. Warm me. She ordered the fire directing it to heat her stiffened muscles. Instantly the fire sank into her skin to warm her body. Oh that felt good.
Now that her body was warm and once more flexible, the caffeine from her coffee buzzing her mind into alertness, Kora was able to nimbly get ready. In a few minutes Kora was dressed in her black and crimson uniform and inspecting her appearance in the mirror. With her dark violet eyes Kora looked ridiculous in crimson but there was little she could do about that, quickly braiding her black hair Kora gave herself another once over in the mirror and decided she was ready for the day. Knives were slipped into her stupidly shining boots, strapped to her wrists and thighs then Kora grabbed her sword and headed out the door.
If Kora's rooms were opulent then the hallway was gaudy. Inside the rooms at least Kora's taste was taken into account and everything was kept tastefully expensive, but Kora didn't mind the luxury, even if it did make her a little spoilt. However she did mind the startlingly white hallways with its gleaming silver trims, the carpet too was white and Kora thought that was simply ridiculous considering this level, while given to the royal family's friends, was held prevalently by army officers they were friendly with. Why did the walls need to have that much detail? Or the ceiling? It was just a hallway! Kora also found the crystal chandeliers annoying, they were too low and she always hit her head on them.
Of course this hadn't been her opinion when she was sixteen and easily impressed but when you were exposed to glamour and opulence every day and weren't inclined towards it of course, well simply put it got old. Kora turned a corner and slammed her hand against the elevator door. An elevator in a hundreds year old palace. Completely unnecessary, especially getting it installed with gold plated doors, however Kora had to admit she loved it. Who could be bothered with stairs everyday?
The elevator was as usual lightning fast, to the point that it was almost terrifying. Grinning wildly now that the caffeine had fully kicked in Kora got out of the lift and stepped into the palace foyer. This room was even more ridiculous, but it was at least used to intimidate foreign aristocrats that the King would pretend to care about while they talked at him and proved to be the idiots their monarchs had known them to be. Small men perfect for small tasks so long as you gave them baubles to play with.
Kora loved the palace at early morning, it was the only time of day the foyer and other centre areas of the palace were completely empty. When she was a recruit new to the palace, long before she had been granted her current rooms, Kora and her friends had come to play in the foyer at three am before anyone else had to be awake. It had been novel at the time, now it seemed like a waste of valuable sleep.
Kora walked through the foyer not really worrying about the pointlessly high vaulted ceilings, the excess of gold, or the expensive furniture - other than to dodge the clusters of couches and chess sets. Kora was a no-nonsense sort of person so the palace's beauty -well a decade of these surrounds tended to deafen a person - especially to one who didn't particularly care in the first place. However even Kora had to admit as she walked out the main doors of the palace, the picture stairs was something else. A thirty step mass of snowy white marble, the picture stairs as they were called by all the inhabitants of the palace, were a mosaic of jewels that depicted various important scenes of Eradran history. They were said to be one of the greatest beauties in the "diamond city" and the Eradran throne wasted a lot of money on beautifying it's capital.
"Hey gorgeous, looking for me?" A voice called as Kora jumped the last of the beautiful steps, it almost felt wrong to walk on such a work of art. Kora sighed in frustration. Leo. Just the person she wanted to ruin her peace.
"What?" Kora demanded rudely as she turned around, her tone one only she could get away with. Kora was treated with a respect bordering on fear by many but she had to admit that she enjoyed it and enjoyed it greatly.
"Aren't you nice this morning." Leo said without a trace of sarcasm but the mockery was clear by the way his green eyes danced with amusement. An oddity of the race, Eradran's were born with eyes all colours of the rainbow. The most common colours were blue, green, indigo and violet but every now and then you would come across someone with yellow, red, pink and even orange eyes. In fact Kora's best friend had orange eyes -
"Nikita!" Kora said in shock. She couldn't believe she'd forgotten. "Oh my god! Nikita! I nearly forgot!"
Leo blinked in shock at such an unusual display of emotion on Kora's part.
"The ice-princess does have emotions after all!" He exclaimed in false shock.
"Fuck off." Kora growled rolling her eyes. "I have training."
"As do I." Leo agreed pleasantly. That was the most annoying thing about Leo. He was always polite, chivalrous, charming even but he was perfectly capable of throwing Kora a thousand veiled insults a day. Kora had given up on subtlety after a year. Fifteen-year-old Kora had told Leo to shove it one day in class and twenty-three year-old Kora was perfectly happy to keep up that routine.
"I know you have training Leo but don't come and train with me. I may have to skewer you."
"You wouldn't do that. You'd miss me too much." Leo said with a smirk.
"Do I need to break you?" Kora demanded.
"No need." Leo said holding his hands up in mock surrender before winking and ruining all chances of Kora being able to pretend the surrender was real. "Catch you later sexy." One day she was going to break that man. Kora thought as she walked into a wooden building marked with a number three. One day.
Posted on: January 24 2012
4.0 / 5
by Eli Wolfe
It's an awful thing to endure
to drive through the grapevine
sober as a priest on Sunday
and as worn as a prostitute the night before.
Once you've reached your destination
your will power suddenly fades
and you left your back bone in the trunk.
You're left defenseless against the hotel clerk.
Even after you've made it
into the closest thing to a bed you'll find
all you can think is
"why's this room so cold?"
Sleep avoids you.
You try to walk the night off.
The patterns in the carpet,
those goddamn patterns,
have you dancing
some deranged drunken waltz.
"Maybe a smoke will help."
As you fall
back into the poor excuse for a bed
that you're paying $60 for,
the Gideon's bible
that goddamn Gideon's bible
starts to yell at you
through the drawer:
"Read me! Read me!"
Oh what nightmares the
Good 'ol Book
With a groan,
you get up
you do it all again.
All the while, the night
as the glow from the tv
and late-night political pundits
keep you company the remainder of your stay…
The room never warms up…
…the 4am smokes never help.
Posted on: December 30 2011
4.0 / 5
I watch a pet walk on a leash, proud
In collar fastened snug, safe, chained
To a hand: it doesn’t matter whose. Performance
Is everything, and the eyes that press into
Her wait for her to betray herself to lust
As she strides through the suffer-ring, moving like slow
Autumn afternoons, strange and extreme,
The carriage of a princess. I watch from the
Owner’s box while her handler claims her. Sometimes
Degradation can be good. I’ll watch
Again, at 3 AM on a sleepless night,
A glass of what doesn’t make me feel better
Keeping me from feeling worse. There is
No need for questions, But we all have
To ask. They feed my need for trivialities.
Later, she’ll be locked away and
He will stroke her with a dogwood stick.
Posted on: December 21 2011
4.0 / 5
On the second of June I watch a nighttime
Sky explode into sharp, mirrored shards,
Firmament fragmenting, flying embers
Falling into earthly oblivion.
I watch, leaning back on an ancient sleeping
Bag in the bed of my truck, tucked on a hillside
In a stand of tamarack, the slow ticking
Of the engine as it cools the only sound.
Do falling stars tick away their losses
As we do, as the cooling truck ticks,
So many ticks per life, then replacement,
In the half moon is an angel’s face, dark
And light as I imagine both sides of angels:
Moon as Montana cowgirl on a hot night out,
White lacy showall blouse and faded Wranglers
Wrapped tight as duct tape above soft tooled boots;
She watches the sky tear itself apart, a celestial
Honky-tonk fight, and I want to offer her a pull
On my long-neck, two-step her across night skies.
Posted on: December 15 2011
4.0 / 5
"Look at this," Dad says to Mom. Dad is reading the Getsville Courier. "You gotta read this, Rita. It's a riot."
"Lou, read it to me," Mom replies. "Can't you see I'm doin' your breakfast."
"Listen up. "It's a riot. 'I need a hatbox to put my husband's head in. I live in Getsville. My number is 55234. Ask for Zeeda."
"You know, Lou," Mom says, as she brings Dad his breakfast. "There's a hatbox in the upstairs closet I don't need."
Posted on: September 24 2011
4.0 / 5
by Verity Hill
He had expected his diagnosis, but not to live past twenty. Each day he survived he bore as an unwelcome debt. It isn’t killing me, he'd say of the disease, I kill myself with it.
I stumbled into hell on the legs of his disaster. They buckled beneath me when you motioned me inside. Pain soon grew synonymous with shelter.
A life I carried in me died. The knife that cut her out left me a wasteland. I found you again, with the intention of imparting the breadth of my heartlessness, but you had one more lesson to teach me.
I have discovered humility since, and am wholly absolved of illusion. I know, with cathartic clarity, of what power is comprised precisely. Patience is the hand inside this glove, that moves aside obstacles without leaving fingerprints.
I have crawled from underground to re-enter apocalypse, where love spoke the refrain to all my life’s verses: Alice Through the Looking Glass, I’m dying. Bury me in your rabbit-hole?
I write to honour his last request.
Posted on: September 14 2011
4.0 / 5
by Verity Hill
Whether they were scarecrows or boys pitched black on black the cruiser couldn't know. Until one moved to cup a fleeting flame and stood bent to it, extinguishing flakes. When they were burned the pallor temptation cast moved deeper into hollows, where it felt like neon warm beneath his skin.
He lurched on or they closed crow ranks on him, knowing his methods of crawling, taunting a tinted window shopper. They called from inside dreams of himself before the plague, a bright burst of youth. They were remote as any hope for companionship, so intimate to him, these specters of death in gestation.
A nurse would arrive and in faltering English read favoured passages, making them new. He wanted to thank her for this second life sometimes, but the closer his death, the heavier such words weighed where speech would not displace them.
The haunt still existed in him. When the pain was bad he went there to say look. You aren't worse than this. And it would shrink until it hardly seemed large enough to have housed them. It seemed unlikely he was ever there or anyplace but dying.
He wanted to show George they shared a death like they'd planned to share life. But George had gone twenty years before a drug trial made angels out of seven junkie hustlers.
His last was a longer decade than those before it. Once a fresh phase of demise elapsed time would again behave differently. Pain would stretch or sever it until yesterday a lifetime passed since his lover pulled the drain out, deciding to die.
He could no longer decide to live. It was final rebellion, not ultimate surrender.
Posted on: September 13 2011
4.0 / 5
Cop A decided I was useful. I knew he couldn’t help me then. He couldn’t help the john stop emptying his sickness into whores and less suspecting women. He was emptying that sickness into me himself. I knew who he was serving to protect.
Cop B believed I'd built the bridge between a fantasy and actual, innocent victims. My assault was the sadist's graduation party.
Cop A made hookers saints. Their usage spared the helpless. Cop B made them accessories to future rapes, possibly of children.
What did I learn? That the victim must be made remote. We blame, pity, deify her, so we won't identify a collective brutality in her suffering. An identical distance is insinuated between ourselves and the perpetrator. Disgust, horror, hatred maintain it.
Does common weakness forgive or implicate mine? No one will answer. We are all implicated if one among us tries, but when I'm writing I don't feel his skin under my nails.
Posted on: September 13 2011
4.0 / 5
“Good afternoon. I’m here to see about obtaining certain services and it needs to be discreet.”
Only moments ago, he had gotten out of his 2011 JaguarXJ and had stalked up to the cathedral-style entry of the Tudor Revivalist house. Now, the man was standing in the foyer as he made his grand proclamation, the gruff accent revealing his roots as a Brit. Taking in his surroundings, and pleased with its ambiance, he felt a twinge of homesickness for his grandmother’s English countryside estate.
“Ahem…” He cleared his throat in an attempt to rouse the receptionist behind the desk.
The foyer was decorated in simple elegance. As he had come in, his steps were muffled, Italian loafers against Indian throw rugs gracing the hardwood floors. Looking above the motionless individual, a painting of pastoral life caught his eye as it hung on the wall behind the reception desk. All around him, the space was filled with the dark warm colors of Autumn and Earth.
“Excuse me.” The receptionist did not respond.
He turned his head looking to see if anyone else was about and observed that directly to his right was the dining room, with seating for twelve. A wrought iron chandelier hung over the dining room table dressed in Irish lace, sterling silver and porcelain. To his left was a room to which the double doors were closed. He wandered over and discovered that they were locked, for good measure. Well, dirty little secrets behind closed doors, perhaps, he imagined.
“Excuse me.” Again, nothing, as he jammed his hands into the pockets of his leather jacket. This was beginning to get irksome.
He shifted himself a bit and, from where he stood, he could see into the Great Room, with its large stone fireplace. A sizeable cauldron of cast iron hung over its center from a rod and hook that extended out from the inside wall of the hearth. Instead of chairs or couches, several oversized fur pillows and more throw rugs were strewn throughout the room. Late afternoon sunlight graced the spot with its presence, shining through the large bay windows. The room’s look of opulent softness was cozy and beguiling. So much like Grandmother’s, he recollected.
The receptionist behind the ornate dark cherry-wood desk still had not looked up. In fact, the would-be client noticed, he had not even twitched.
“Ahem…” He cleared his throat much louder this time, beginning to wonder if the receptionist was unconscious… or dead.
Just past the foyer, he noticed, was a staircase. Maybe it led to someone who could actually do something for him before the end of the century.
“This is bullshit…” was the thought that ran through his mind. A man of power and position in many circles, Julian Kramer expected people to jump at the sound of his voice. He was not accustomed to being ignored.
“Excuse me.” Again, nothing.
“Excuse me!” Still nothing, not even a flinch or a peep.
By this time, Julian was a little more than peeved at what was going on, frustrated by the lack of response from the young man dressed in a white button-down business shirt. Julian found it interesting that instead of a tie, his neck was graced with a spiked collar that bore a padlock on it. He also wore a red and black nametag that identified him as “Bad dog.”
“Bad dog is it? Well, knock-knock! Anybody home?”
Bad Dog remained still, as though he were carved out of stone.
“Hello?! Are you deaf, blind and stupid? I have been attempting to get your attention for the last five minutes now. How dare you ignore me like this. Your rudeness is intolerable and I will have you fired for your unprofessional manner. Now, be a good doggie and let’s play fetch. Go get your owner for me. I want to see about obtaining services and I demand that…” He was going to finish with “…I be attended to immediately” but was cut short.
“No, he’s not deaf, blind or stupid. This is his punishment for displeasing m’Lady with his clientele service skills. He’s required to sit here in nothing but his collar and is not allowed to speak or move unless given permission.”
The voice seemed to come out of nowhere and it prompted Julian do a double take. In the muted light of the foyer, he noticed that what he thought was a dress shirt, at first glance, was actually a design that had been body painted on. The young man’s nametag was fastened to his chest through the skin of his right nipple. At the shock of realization, Julian couldn’t stop himself from staring at the bowed head, with its long black locks covering his face like a veil, and wonder how much it had hurt to put on the name tag.
The person to whom the disembodied voice belonged was now standing behind the desk next to Bad Dog. Hearing the voice, Julian had been unsure if its owner was male or female. Tall and slender, with legs that went on for days, the being in front of him was dressed in a barely-cover-the-ass Greek style chiton and platinum blond curls in the wake of bronzed skin. That a nametag was nowhere in sight did little to further solve the mystery.
“Now, how may I serve you, Mr.….?” and a hand beckoned Julian forward.
“John Smith. And you are…?” Julian inquired as he approached the desk.
“My name is irrelevant at the moment.”
“Irrelevant? You must have a name, or at least a title of some sort. If you don’t have a name, then what am I supposed to call you?” It took Julian by surprise, the level of ease with which he acknowledged his namelessness.
“I am one of the Kelevh – that’s how I am referred to here.”
“Kelevh?” Julian repeated the foreign word, at a loss for what it could possibly mean.
Yes, the Kelevh – a Temple Dog. We are the Guardians here, all the boys who serve the Lady of the House and Her Holy Women.”
Aha! Mystery solved, to Julian’s relief. Androgyny was something that had always made him uneasy. In his worldview, men were supposed to be Men, and women were always the helpmates.
“Hmmm… well that would explain ‘Bad Dog’ then,” an involuntary shiver coursing through him as Julian caught sight of the nametag once more. “But your Mistress doesn’t refer to all of you as Kelevh, does She? That would get so confusing.”
“Yes, She does. For Her purpose and benefit, we are all interchangeable and expendable. Nevertheless, if you really must know, my name is Ajax among the other dogs. And this is the newest puppy, Gemini,” placing his hand on the young man’s shoulder. “Now, what is it that’s of interest to you, sir? For the discriminating client, we offer many choices: sensory play and bondage are the most popular.”
“Oh… well, I’m only interested in the domination services so I imagine it would be the bondage activities I’ll want to look into first. However, I want to speak to your Mistress about them, so go and get her for me. I don’t have all day to waste.”
“And do you have an appointment with m’Lady?” was the query, as Ajax opened a thick leather-bound book and began flipping its pages.
“Appointment? No, I don’t. I wasn’t aware that I needed one. I was told only to mention ‘Morgan Patterson sent me,’ and that then I would get in to see her immediately.”
“Well, be that as it may, m’Lady sees no one without an appointment, no exceptions.”
“She can make an exception for me.” By now, Julian was drumming his fingertips upon the desktop, his lack of patience shining through like a pair of high beams in the dark.
“Yes, She can but no, She won’t. You’ll need to make an appointment to see Her.” Ajax was used to this reaction from potential clients who believed that they were the GFCs of the world – Goddess’s Foremost Creations. He didn’t back down.
“This is outrageous. I was told that…” Julian’s frustration levels were getting kicked up a notch… again.
“It is neither here nor there what you were told Mr. Smith. Making an appointment is your only option. Now, when are you available for your interview and possible first domination scene with m’Lady?”
Julian sneered at the thought Ajax assumed it was he who wanted to be dominated. “Domination scene for me? Not bloody likely. It’s for my girlfriend. She’s been getting uppity with me of late and I want to teach her a lesson. I’ll be there to just watch… and supervise.”
“Aaah… a voyeur. I see. Then, in that case, you’ll need to make the appointment for both of you to be interviewed. What is your girlfriend’s name?”
“Sophie. Wait… interviewed? What’s that supposed to mean?”
“It means that m’Lady always interviews potential clientele to see if they’re a good fit for her… hmmm… shall we say… talents? If she feels that it’s a match, then she agrees to take the client on. If not, nothing gained, nothing lost.”
At this point, Julian could see that he would get nowhere with Ajax through bullying, and he didn’t want to throw his real name out there just to make certain that he got his way. He wasn’t sure yet if it was worth the risk, even though Morgan had raved up and down about this woman and her talents.
“Alright, fine. I’m available this next Monday evening. Will that work for your Mistress?”
“I’ll check on that for you.”
Turning to Gemini, Ajax commanded, “Present!”
Gemini’s response was immediate. He arose from the chair as fast as he could, the abrupt movement making his dangling naughty bits bounce. Ajax took a moment and grabbed Gemini’s thick pierced organ, put on view for all, and began rubbing its underside with his thumb. Gemini inhaled sharp and deep, and Julian watched as color flooded the young man’s face in... what was it? Humiliation? Fear? Arousal? On the other hand, maybe it was a mixture of all three. Gemini began to moan, stiffen, and rise from Ajax’s touch, even though Julian could tell that he was fighting it. Julian glanced over at Ajax and saw that his cock had emerged from behind the folds of his chiton and was fully erect, a glistening pearl drop resting upon the slit from whence it came. Once Gemini was at half-mast, Ajax brought out a thin leather leash and attached it to the heavy silver ring on the tip of Gemini’s pulsing shaft. Julian noticed a tear had begun its torturous slide down Gemini’s cheek, yet the look in his eyes gave away his secret enjoyment of being fondled in front of a complete stranger.
At that moment, Julian found himself getting hard at the sight of what he was witnessing and that didn’t sit well with him in the least. That he was uncomfortable, right then, was an understatement. Ajax recognized Julian’s discomfort and smiled, as though he knew something that the hard to please stuffed shirt in front of him had no clue about… yet.
“Wait here for a moment while I confer with m’Lady.”
“Fine. Do what you need to do, Ajax.”
Ajax tugged on his charge’s leash, ordering the receptionist to “Come!” as he turned and walked in the direction of the staircase, Gemini in tow. Julian observed their ascent, fascinated by the sight, and, for a split second, felt an erotic charge from the thought of being led around by his cock. Shaken by that thought, he cast it aside in angry haste.
As soon as they were out of earshot, Julian released a generous breath. He had not realized he had been holding it until the exertion of keeping in control hit him like a bullet train. He plopped himself down onto a nearby cushioned bench, and waiting for what seemed like an eternity, began to grow sleepy.
In truth, it had been less than ten minutes when Ajax re-entered the foyer alone to give Julian the verdict regarding Monday night.
“Alright Mr. Smith.” Ajax sat down and picked up a pen, moving the appointment book in front of him.
“Gemini isn’t with you?”
“No. He’s tending to m’Lady’s whims at the moment.”
“Aaah… And about Monday?”
“Yes, m’Lady will see you and Sophie at 8pm on Monday. However, you and your girlfriend must be here no later than 7:15 in order to fill out the paperwork. That is a requirement Mr. Smith. No paperwork, no interview. Understood?”
“Monday, 7:15pm, paperwork.” Julian made a notation in his iPhone.
“Very good. That is all for now, Mr. Smith. We look forward to seeing you and Sophie on Monday evening,” and Julian was dismissed with the wave of a manicured hand and no second glances.
“Well, finally. I was beginning to think that this was a waste of my time.”
Julian turned and walked back toward the arched entryway he came in through. As he exited, Ajax wished him “a good rest of the day.” Once he was back in his Jag, relief saturated his being. Julian started the car and got the hell out of Dodge.
“Who does he think he’s fooling with the ‘Mr. Smith’ bullshit?” Ajax mumbled to himself and then snickered at the thought of how interesting things were about to get. He knew how much Mistress liked to play with her food before She ate it.
Posted on: September 10 2011
4.0 / 5
by Verity Hill
Lilya lingered at the florist’s, remembering how glamorous it felt to smoke in bed. She remembered doing it with Pooch, whose real name was something he’d forgotten in Europe. Their cumulative accent was less-pronounced than they’d pretended, and their past agonies significantly moreso. She was taller than he by five inches without heels, which she wore as high as they came. They were lovers of contrast and contradiction.
They met crossing the English Channel. She was willowy as he was grizzled. He spoke little and gruffly, she spoke always and with a maximum of hand gestures. They both smoked like houses on fire and drank like those houses hosed down. They became instantaneous counterparts, tapping ash into the sea, with grey sky and water ashen also, as the smouldering remains of an expatriate society.
He'd had it as long as she'd known him, and probably longer, though he couldn't pin down the length precisely. That was one of its symptoms. They used to talk to it as though it were the child they'd never have.
He chose a beautiful day to die. She woke up and fetched him coffee and he said one cream/one sugar, like the day they met and every day since, as though she shared his imperfect memory like his everything else. She said she'd try to remember, like she'd always done, in solidarity. When she returned to the bedroom he had passed away, so she sat beside the bed and drank his coffee. For the first time in the short but extraordinary life they'd made, she'd forgotten to put in the sugar.
His funeral was like the island releasing a breath inheld, and three weeks of storms broke along his headstone, flowers already dotting the churned earth of his grave, like mourners dispersed among foothills.
Posted on: September 04 2011
4.0 / 5
The liquid amber rays of the afternoon sun bathed the small clearing, dancing lightly upon the surface of the ripples in the stream below and showered the fringes of the clouds above. A kaleidoscope of wildflowers swayed gently in response to the touch of the breeze’s beckoning. And behind, the sharp, stark faces of the mountains tore their way through the earth to try and touch the sky, the shock white of their tips branching rivulets downward to form an inverse crown marking their majesty.
A lone figure sat at the top of the hill looking out over the symphony of nature at play below, sketchbook on his knee and easel before him. He let rest the tip of his paintbrush to his lip, closed his eyes and slowly inhaled the scent of life and allowed it to fill his soul. Slowly, his eyes opened and his gaze returned just as the figure moved from behind the shadows of the crop of trees.
He watched as the figure moved over to the stream, let slip the cloak from about its shoulders and as the light fell upon the figure, he drew in his breath. The misshapen figure sat down on a boulder by the side of the stream, sunlight catching upon the small shocks of sparse hair upon its head, almost translucent with lack of color. Its body deformed and twisted in such an unnatural way that it evinced pain to just look upon. He could not imagine what it must feel like to be trapped in such a body.
Its gaze turned upward to a hawk crying out in joy as it played in the waves of the air currents, soaring gracefully among them and swooping down to survey the ground for movements proclaiming dinner. The light caught the side of its face and the artist got his first full look at the creature’s face. Creature, because he did not know how else to refer to it, so far removed from human countenance that he had ever seen. The head and skull misshapen, the skin scarred and marred by lesions and disease. The horror at the monstrosity before him was almost too much to bear, he who worshipped beauty, embraced it and drank it like ambrosia. And ill though it made him to look upon the monster before him, he could not take his eyes from it.
Dusk began to slowly settle in and the painting that was the sunset began to draw its brush across the sky in a swirling movement of colors and bath the clouds in their haunting iridescent glow. As the sun began to slip from view, the shadows began their descent upon the land, looming ever downward and casting a half light through the branches and whispering the first summons to the conjuring of the night. The brilliant orb of the full moon kissed the earth in her ascent, her swollen form overflowing and radiating soft light, bathing all it touched in its blue-gray shimmers.
The monster rose and raised its arms out toward the rising beacon, stretching out its fingers as if to touch the glowing orb. And the darkness that was night closed further in, filling in the light voids and spreading darkness like a storm sweeping the land. As the last of the golden rays vanished and the silver glow of night was all that was left, the creatures of the night began to awaken and emerge. As is the case, the ones that crawled were the first to come forth, ravenous and devouring in their very existence. Then began the calls and songs of the night as the creatures of the air and land awakened as well to prepare to begin the night hunt.
And still the monster stood, arms outstretched and bathed in moonlight. And still the artist watched, unable to tear his eyes from the scene.
Dark wings cut through the air before it as shadows swept across the ground below. Then it raised its head and opened its mouth in a song that rang out and pierced the blanket of the night. A song of such beauty, he thought his heart would burst from its touch and he would melt within the flow of its waves and his mind was swept to another place that was both no place and all. When the moment passed and he looked again, its clothing had been shed and discarded and it was taking gentle steps to the center of the clearing. When it reached it, it began to spin slowly, lowly and then began to dance.
He still could not tell whether the creature was male or female as he watched its lithe movements in the soft glow of the moon. Movements which grew in energy and intensity till they became a dervish swirl that held him mesmerized and feeling faint. The deformities lost in the swirling movements, the ugliness transformed to grace and beauty in the undulations of the movement. He watched with the creatures of the night as they danced with it and worshipped with it till the moon crossed beyond the place of light and he feel asleep on the ground before it.
When he awoke, the sun was bringing the first taste of day to the sky and the creature was picking up its cloak from the boulder. Just before it entered back into the forest, it looked up at him and their eyes met, then it melted into the trees and was gone.
No one understood the painting in the gallery or what might have inspired such a thing. It was unlike anything to ever emerge from his hand. The elegance of the scene so vivid, you could feel the textures of the land, smell the scents in the air. So stunning was the sheer beauty of it, so intoxicating, it took your breath away. And at the edge of the woods where the trees met the land, a creature. A creature so vile, so damnable in appearance that it pierced one’s heart with its horror, and yet so riveting, you could not tear your eyes from it. No explanation was ever given as to its inspiration, or what was meant by it no matter how many times he was asked. All that was given it was a name; The Beauty in the Beast.
August 28, 2009
Posted on: August 30 2011
4.0 / 5
"Did you see what that maniac just did to his wife? Her eye is bruised and swollen."
"Wow. A bunch of hoodlums just robbed a store owner at gunpoint."
"Look, over there - that mother just smothered her child and really believes she will get away with it."
"Pretty bad stuff going on down there. There's a group of girls ganging up on this poor girl. We've got to do something about this."
"Yes, Irene. We've seen some pretty disturbing behavior displayed by those despicable humans over the decades. It's amazing that they really think they will go unpunished."
"I know, Floyd. But, these humans are really doing themselves in. It seems to be worse than ever with their never ending need for bigger and better. They can never be satisfied and so it's time, once again, for our spirits to unite, swoop down, and wreak havoc to teach these evil people a lesson."
"But, Irene, you know that a lot of good people will be affected as well. Do we really want to put these good citizens in harms way?"
"Don't worry, Floyd. You know how each state has their own group of officials who eventually save the day. Most good people will survive and some who are too good may be taken, as you know, since we need these souls up here with us to continue to protect the majority of the populace of the poor decaying earth."
"Yeah, I remember. I certainly did what I could to get revenge some years ago and we did get a few good souls out of it. But, people seem to forget and continue to treat their land and fellow humans with disrespect and contempt."
"So, I propose a major attack. Not our usual target of one area. Let's do something truly catastrophic and earth shattering."
"What are you thinking, Irene? I'm intrigued."
"I've been talking to some other spirits and they are really excited about this proposal. We should all ban together. The murder victims are especially excited about this plan. We would swirl together to create an intense surge of energy. The wind effects may not be as powerful as if we were to target one specific area, as we've done in the past. But, we would be able to wreak major havoc on a larger number of states at one time than ever before. I'm thinking we should start with the Northeast. We could spare most of Florida, since we've targeted that state pretty relentlessly in the past. What do you think, Floyd?"
"Count me in. I'm sure some of the older contenders would be happy to join in."
"Great. Thanks Floyd. Let's start spreading the news and we'll pick the day for the attack. Of course, the humans will be able to warn their citizens with their up-to-date weather tracking satellites. But, that will just add to our excitement as we watch the panic and fear ensue."
The angry souls swirled into each other, remembering how they had been mistreated, taken advantage of, and even murdered. This would be the moment they had died for - the moment of reckoning, as they would ban together to create total chaos, inconvenience, and in some cases, death. They couldn't be concerned with some of the "good people" who would be affected as well. Most would probably be spared by some over protective relatives who would undoubtedly keep their eye out for their safety. But, no doubt, there would be a few very good, but stupid souls who would be taken during this undertaking. You know - the ones who think they can outsmart mother nature by touching downed power lines. They would be welcomed into the beckoning skies and needed for lessons for future generations.
The spirits, lead by Irene, ignited in electrical symmetry, as they swirled and collided into each other, banding together, as one engaging entity. The sky over the Atlantic ocean grew dark and angry as the avenging souls flew into each other to join forces. The spirits were fueled by the warm waters and their fury and power grew by the hour. The impressive mass of stirred up energy decided to detach into separate colonies of ominous clouds filled with humidity that would soon burst and flood the rivers of states and towns throughout the eastern seaboard and inlands, as well.
"Come on, Andrew. We could use you over here. We remember your intense power and fury that you let loose over South Florida back in 1992."
"I know, but I've weakened a little, since then. I'm still with you on this brilliant scheme. But, some of the younger spirits would better serve your plan."
The winds howled in furious jubilation as spirits joined together in separate circles of spiraling energy targeting specific sites, swooping down through trees and roofs, creating blockades at weakened intersections. Darkness draped over the major cities and small towns as the spirits soared through electrical circuits shedding torrents of tears into tributaries and streams. A ferocious howling blew through windows of homes and crushed cars like they were made of paper.
"This is fun, Irene. We are not feeling tired yet, which is amazing, since we haven't been over our refueling waters in a while. We feel energized and organized. Gotta go- there's a mobile home that needs to go down."
The caffeinated spirits spiraled into a unified funnel of turbulent force and forged into a forest of already uprooted trees. The intense energy of the stirred up spirits snapped through branches, pummeling through deer and dirt like a devil on steroids. The pent up energy of the frustrated spirits were invigorated by the sheer force of their unified power, finally able to release their fury back into the earth that they once inhabited.
The strength of the spirits started to fade as they came face to face with the might of the mountains and so the spinning began to spread into a dense fog that branched out over the punished terrain. The weary spirits that once walked this imperfect planet could now ascend slowly back to their calm skies and once again begin to refuel as they absorb the infidelities and injustices that would once again be committed by the impervious man. The spirits would strike again.
Posted on: August 28 2011
4.0 / 5
"What’s in there?"
"Just spare parts." I replied.
"Yeah, you know? Just bits and pieces and remnants that people discard as unneeded."
"Okay, and what do you want with other people’s discarded junk?"
"Oh, you would be amazed at what can be done with spare parts. It really is quite fascinating some of the things one can acquire because someone sees no use for it. They say that one man’s trash is another’s treasure. Those words could not be more true. I can spend hours in that room studying and tinkering with the things I have collected through the years."
"Well, can I have a look at your ‘treasure room’ then?"
"Sorry, no one goes in there but me. It’s kind of my private little sanctuary."
"You can be an odd one sometimes! Fine. Have it your way. Are you ready for dinner?"
"Just let me grab my coat." I said as I headed toward the door.
We sat in the quaint little restaurant down the street and chatted over the hearty meal. He had been depressed for some time now and needed someone to talk to. I listened intently as my friend spoke of all the unrequited dreams and desires of his life. I reached in my pocket and pulled out the small box and set it on the table. He glanced at it for only a second, a fleeting moment of curiosity passing across his face before continuing.
On and on we talked into the evening. He poured his heart and soul out to me through the meal, on through dessert, then coffee and a few drinks after. The tension slowly slipping from his shoulders and lines beginning to smooth across his brow. By the end of the evening, he was smiling gently, his heart feeling eased, as if a weight had been lifted from him.
"Thank you, my friend" he said as we stood at my door. "I can’t tell you what this evening has done for me."
"My pleasure." I replied. "It was just as beneficial to me and I thank you."
He gave me a questioning look and shrugged his shoulders before turning to head to his car. As I walked through the front door, I reached in my pocket and drew out the box, a shimmer of excitement passing through me as I made my way to the door to the room and opened it. Gently, I lifted the lid of the box and the whisps floated out.
I sat in my overstuffed chair and watched as my friend's lost dreams joined the play with the others. Such joy to watch dreams freed to expand and create and weave themselves into the dreampestry in this room. Yes, this room was mine, private. There was no guilt to feel for what I had made here. I took only what was resented, not wanted. How sad for them, how lucky for me that they felt their dreams were only spare parts.
Posted on: August 23 2011
4.0 / 5
“Get out of the gorge, Frankie! There’re monsters down there!” Tully Bremington peered down into the loose canyon, watching his little brother run farther down. Frankie wasn’t afraid of snakes, so Tully had to make up something to scare his brother. Ghosts and monsters usually did the trick.
“I’m not doing anything, Tully! I just want to go to the river.”
Frankie disappeared into the shrubbery dozens of feet below. “Come back here! Papa would be pissed if he knew what you were doing.”
A voice echoed off the canyon walls. “Papa’s in the sky! Remember?”
It had only been a year since their father vanished, but Tully’s bedridden mother had forced the young teen into a fatherly role. “It’s going to be dark soon, Frankie! C’mon!”
Rough hedges rustled as the boy stepped farther down the steep wall. Balling his fists, Tully huffed, then hopped down after his brother. “You’re gonna get it!”
Dirt and stones tumbled down the dry cliff, but Tully understood the dangers. If he didn’t find Frankie soon, well, he would find him. There was no other choice. “Frankie, stop playing around. It’s time to go home.”
A torrid breeze whispered through the bushes and sparse trees, but Tully spotted movement below. “Frankie, I’m serious! Stop going so fast! You’re going to break your ankle.”
“Leave me alone! Stop trying to be Papa!”
Tully rolled his eyes. That had been his brother’s comeback lately. When Frankie decided to be stubborn, nobody could change his mind.
The young teen clung to the side of the cliff as he rushed down. He didn’t have time for this. As he slipped by a short shrub, something rattled from within. Tully stopped and held his breath, peering deeper into the brush. When he heard no other sound, he shook his head, then continued down. This canyon was teaming with rattlers. If Frankie wasn’t careful, he would be dead before he reached the river.
Sweat beaded Tully’s brow as he chased after his brother, but that unruly kid stormed through the shrubbery like an elk. The cliff suddenly shook like a tree fell from an axe. A wall of loose dirt and shale plummeted down from above, shooting sticks and rocks past his face. Tully wiped his brow. He knew he shouldn’t have descended so quickly. The rockslide barely missed him.
After it passed, Tully rested, listening for any sign of his brother. The setting sun threatened to disappear behind the opposite side of the canyon wall, radiating a brave fusion of colors, but the dry heat had already burned his skin. Tully realized how thirsty he was. His head spun towards the sound of upset rocks, but a sprinting form disappeared far below into the shadows.
A figure poked out from the camouflage, but nature soon enveloped him.
Tully moaned in frustration, then descended again towards the canyon floor. Sticks and thorns ripped his clothes and scratched his burned arms, but the young teen dove down towards the bottom. He had to reach his brother before nightfall. His sick mother would already be irate. Tully didn’t want to think about how ill she’d be after.
Stones knocked together as Tully’s feet touched the rocky floor of the canyon. The rapids sprayed cold mist along the shore, drowning out every other sound. Tully relished the cool drops on his skin as salmon leapt from their confines, struggling to swim upstream, but just a few rays of light remained.
“Frankie!” If Tully had known he’d be out this late, he’d have brought light. Luckily, the snakes here would soon rest for the night, but other things loomed in the dark.
He ran along the rocky shore: over fallen trees, through thorn bushes, and around boulders until his heart raced like his feet. Towering pines replaced overgrown bushes as the young teen entered the canyon’s forest floor.
For his whole life, Tully roamed the farmlands and surrounding terrain. He prowled every trail, blazed through every forest, knew every rock. But never at night did he dare venture here. His father always said this was a place of mysteries – a place of danger. This was where he’d vanished.
“Frankie, stop this game! Come out, now!”
Something giggled in the darkness. It sounded like his brother.
Tully crept farther into the shadowing pines, their floor of dry needles and rocks swished with his every step, until his foot snapped. He cried out and collapsed. Next to his broken ankle lay an unnatural contour. He brushed away the dirt and held it up to the soft moon. The shape was augmented, but distinct – Frankie’s wooden spider. He never went anywhere without that. Tully sucked back tears, then tucked it into a pocket and studied the ground. In the darkness, he couldn’t separate the animals’ tracks from Frankie’s.
A breeze hissed through the surrounding braches. Tully swore it whispered his voice. “Frankie, knock it off!”
A light voice sang, “Fra-nkie.”
Tully swung his head to the side, then ducked behind his tree. “Who’s there!”
Wind wafted through the darkness in answer.
Canyon walls showered thin rocks to the forest below. The river spewed bubbling water off its boulders, soaking the surrounding trees. “Frankie, I’m hurt. You need to get help!”
A giggling form flashed in his peripheral vision, then melted into the black. “I told you he was here.” The ethereal voice sounded playful.
“Frankie, I’m ser–”
“Tully? Tully, what’s wrong?”
The older brother relaxed. It must have been another one of the boy’s stupid jokes. His throbbing ankle wouldn’t allow him to stand. “Frankie, what are you doing down here? You could have been killed!”
The young boy kicked his boot in the leaves. “I’m sorry, I just wanted to go to the river.”
“You need to listen, and don’t try to sca–”
“Fra-nkie.” The young tone resonated through the trees.
Frankie ran to his older brother, hugging his leg. “Who’s that, Tully? No kids I know come down here.”
“Just be quiet and help me up. You made me break my ankle. Mother’s going to be so mad.”
Tully gasped. “Oh, no! I’m so sorry, Frankie.”
“Next time, just listen to me.” Frankie gazed at the surrounding woods. He felt something unnatural peer from the brush.
As Frankie helped his brother to his feet, he collapsed under Tully’s weight. “Ow! I can’t lift you, Tully. You’re too big!”
Tully gazed into the darkness. Trees above whispered as the river roared downstream. Mosquitoes buzzed in his ears, but his ankle hurt so badly! His father always told him if he injured a foot, he should never remove his boots until he made it home, or until help arrived. It could swell.
“Do you know how to get home from here?”
“I think so, Tully. But, I don’t want to leave you.”
“I’ll be fine. Just get yourself out of here and find help.”
“Well, okay. I’ll see you soon, Tully.”
As Frankie disappeared into the woods, Tully called after him, “Be careful! And never get into trouble!” The finality in his voice surprised him.
Seconds droned into minutes, but seemed like hours. It had been a long time since Tully had been alone – without the hindering responsibility of his brother. But now, in the lonely night, he missed Frankie’s small voice and blue eyes.”
“Fra-nkie.” The child’s tone mimicked his younger brother.
“Who is that? Stop playing games!”
Something dark charged across his vision. Tully rubbed his eyes. It must have been dehydration. Peering into the shadows, Tully pulled himself back up, but knew better than to move from this place. His brother would be coming back with help – hopefully soon.
But help didn’t come.
Hours passed, the shadows of the dark crept into Tully’s spine, shooting chills of fright to his mind; but he could think of nothing but his brother. He should be irate at the kid. Instead, he found himself worrying about the boy. Alone in the dark, how could Frankie find his way back? Well, he supposed he had taught him how to survive well enough, and Tully’s injury wasn’t life-threatening. They’d probably come for him in the morning.
Breathing the fresh pine air, Tully smiled, despite the throbbing. It was a pleasant night. Crickets chirped, easing Tully closer to sleep.
After closing his eyes, something brushed his face. It felt like iced cotton. Tully flung a hand, waiving away the bug, or whatever it was; but when he opened his eyes, his skin paled.
Frankie’s face stared back – a transparent face.
Tully scrambled away, but the Frankie-wraith smiled, chasing him with glee. It touched his face again, and this time his skin sizzled. Tully cried out and crawled behind a tree, but the creature turned, waiting for him on the opposite side.
“What do you want from me!” Tully felt light-headed. He hadn’t realized how hard he’d been breathing.
The Frankie-wraith cocked its head and reached out its ethereal hand. Not knowing what else to do, Tully closed his eyes, and screamed.
The creature vanished.
Tully opened his eyes, disoriented. Scrambling back, his skull bumped against the head of his bed. He smelled fresh, scrambled eggs. Blinking, Tully gazed at his room for the first time. His bedding was in shambles, his favorite book by his bedside. His window overlooked the grazing cows on the farm, and his only picture of his father . . .
“Frankie?” His younger brother stared back at Tully from inside the picture.
“Good morning, son? How did you sleep?” Tully’s healthy mother walked into the room with plate of eggs and hotcakes. “Well, it looks like you had a bad dream. I’ll just leave this here for you.”
She strolled out the room humming a tune he’d only heard his brother sing. Tully shook his head and flicked his ear – no, not dreaming. What was happening? The last thing he remembered was . . .
“Son? Are you awake?”
Tully turned when he heard his father’s voice, and gasped. “Papa? What are you doing here? I mean, I thought you were dead.”
Those deep blue eyes peered back without blinking. The smile on his father’s face spelled love and disappointment, but he broke his gaze to stare at the picture of Frankie, and cried.
Posted on: August 23 2011
4.0 / 5
Oh look! Yes you! Come here! Just a quick peek beyond the curtain and the world will never be the same again. Come closer! Just one more wee step. Here, let me help you. I’ll part the veil just the slightest bit. Oh look! Can you glimpse what is beyond? Just one step closer and more shall be revealed. You do want to see more, don’t you? Oh look! That flash of a unicorn galloping past! Did you see her? Like a flash of starlight streaking across the land. And there. Right over there! A field of fairies at play. Aren’t they just lovely to behold? More to see there is if you but move a bit closer. Oh look! A Phoenix bursting into the air from the flames! His colours so bright they almost make your eyes ache. Watch as he soars up into the heavens, his magnificent tail trailing ribbons of flames behind him. Wasn’t that just glorious? There is so much more to see, but you are still too far away. Won’t you come just a little closer? Oh look! Off in the corner, did you see the galaxies collide? Watch as their remains cascade across the heavens and look deeply into the blackness of the void they leave behind. There are universes beyond imagination just past this curtain. Would you miss a moment of it? I see you still hesitate. Come now, you are almost there. Oh look! A griffin making off with a beaste of the fields, a dragon rending its prey. Spirits and demons and fantastickal creatures to inspire and terrify your soul! Oh no! Don’t step back! They are but dreams and cannot hurt you! Come back! Oh look again! Beauty beyond compare! Lands of swirling colors, blooms of intoxicating scent! See? There is no need to fear! That’s it! Come closer. Oh look! A beauty that fantasies are envious of! Her skin so perfect, her face so fair. Her eyes look on you with the desires of lifetimes of searching. Look how she reaches to you! Can you resist her look and the chance to touch her hand? Oh look! She is calling you, drawing you, imploring you. Can you still refuse? Oh good! Go with her. How does it feel within? What?! You say she has talons and smells of death? She has pierced your flesh and is chaining you! What? You are afraid? You feel pain? You feel darkness closing in? You have changed your mind and want to leave now? No need to worry, it shall pass. Psst!! You over there! Come here! Oh look! Just a quick peek beyond the curtain and the world will never be the same again . . . . . . . . . Sephi'PiderWitch 2009
Oh look! Yes you! Come here! Just a quick peek beyond the curtain and the world will never be the same again. Come closer! Just one more wee step. Here, let me help you. I’ll part the veil just the slightest bit. Oh look! Can you glimpse what is beyond? Just one step closer and more shall be revealed. You do want to see more, don’t you? Oh look! That flash of a
unicorn galloping past! Did you see her? Like a flash of starlight streaking across the land. And there. Right over there! A field of fairies at play. Aren’t they just lovely to behold? More to see there is if you but move a bit closer. Oh look! A Phoenix bursting into the air from the flames! His colours so bright they almost make your eyes ache. Watch as he soars up into the heavens, his magnificent tail trailing ribbons of flames behind him. Wasn’t that just glorious? There is so much more to see, but you are still too far away. Won’t you come just a little closer? Oh look! Off in the corner, did you see the galaxies collide? Watch as their remains cascade across the heavens and look deeply into the blackness of the void they leave behind. There are universes beyond imagination just past this curtain. Would you miss a moment of it? I see you still hesitate. Come now, you are almost there. Oh look! A griffin making off with a beaste of the fields, a dragon rending its prey. Spirits and demons and fantastickal creatures to inspire and terrify your soul! Oh no! Don’t step back! They are but dreams and cannot hurt you! Come back! Oh look again! Beauty beyond compare! Lands of swirling colors, blooms of intoxicating scent! See? There is no need to fear! That’s it! Come closer. Oh look! A beauty that fantasies are envious of! Her skin so perfect, her face so fair. Her eyes look on you with the desires of lifetimes of searching. Look how she reaches to you! Can you resist her look and the chance to touch her hand? Oh look! She is calling you, drawing you, imploring you. Can you still refuse? Oh good! Go with her. How does it feel within? What?! You say she has talons and smells of death? She has pierced your flesh and is chaining you! What? You are afraid? You feel pain? You feel darkness closing in? You have changed your mind and want to leave now?
No need to worry, it shall pass.
Psst!! You over there! Come here!
Oh look! Just a quick peek beyond the curtain and the world will never be the same again . . . . . . . . .
Posted on: August 22 2011
4.0 / 5
A nose knows
when he has a cold.
He sniffs and he sniffles
and sometimes a whistle
comes blowing out
of this unwell snout.
The nose says, "Achoo"
pass a tissue or two -
Feel better, sleep tight, and bless you.
Posted on: August 21 2011
4.0 / 5
Whispers on the Stairs
"I’m telling you I heard voices!" Calliope spoke softly into the phone, her fingers fidgeting with the cord, twirling it onto and then back off her fingers. There was a charm to these old phones, the cord giving her a feeling of connection that seemed to be missing with the new cell phones and headsets. She was drawn back to the handpiece as she heard her friend asking if she was still there. "Yes, I’m still here! Where else would I be?"
"Well, what did the voices say?" Dorothy asked.
"It was hard to tell. It was very soft. A whisper. But, it sounded like it was saying ‘here’. And another time I think I heard it say ‘they’re waiting for you’." Calliope replied.
"They? What do you think ‘they’ means?" Dorothy queried.
"I have no idea!" Calliope answered. "But, I have heard it the last couple of days when I go up the stairs. During the day, it is more like a quiet murmur, too low to make out. But at night, I can hear the words. The first time, I thought it was my imagination. But, I’ve heard it every time I go up the stairs, always the same thing. Oh, and something more that I can’t quite make out."
"That would scare the shit out of me!" Dorothy exclaimed. "I think I would be grabbing my stuff and not stopping till I was out the door and as far away as I could get!"
"Well, this has always been an odd old house. I used to think it was a magical place when I was a child. I think I would believe just about anything where this place is concerned. The truth is, there is nothing about the voice or voices that sounds threatening in any way. Its more like the house is trying to tell me something. I’ve looked all around the area where I hear it and I don’t see anything unusual anywhere on those stairs. I suppose its just one of the mysteries of this house that I may or may not figure out."
"Well, you’ve never been known to be afraid of things any sane person would. I don’t know why I should expect that to change now." Dorothy sighed, a slight amused tone in her voice. "Other than the voices, how are things going there? Any idea how much longer you are going to be there?"
"I have no idea!" Calliope replied. "This place is like a Wonderland! I start to go through things and then I find something that makes me stop and I lose time as my mind wanders. So many things stir all these memories of my time here as a child. Its almost like time just stops during the day. I pull a book down from the shelf and open it and find I have to take it over to the chair and sit with it for a while. Then before I know it, hours have passed. I tried to go work in the kitchen yesterday, and go through the jars of herbs on the shelves and I swear the smell of something wonderful simmering on the stove fills the air. The more jars I opened to examine, the stronger the smell was. I found myself sitting down at the table with my coffee cup and my mind drifting back. I could hear the sound of the spoon stirring the contents of the pot, the warmth of the stove cooking, the murmur of voices chattering over the rising vapors."
"Are you sure you want to sell that place Calli? You don’t have to, you know. You can work from anywhere and it just seems to me that place has a hold on you that maybe you shouldn’t discard."
"What am I going to do with a place like this?" Calliope exclaimed. "Do you know how big this place is? This is a place made for a family. A large family! And it needs so many things done to it to even make it ready for that! Do you know there are rooms in this house that she never even wired for electricity? I have had to wait until daytime to clean some of them because of that! And after dusk, I need to carry a lantern with me or a flashlight if I want to look into them. The truth is, this place is going to cost me a fortune just to even try and put it on the market. And that’s just the house! I think I will need a team of gardeners to clear up the yards here so they are even somewhat presentable. I couldn’t imagine what it would mean to think of trying to care for something like this on a daily basis!"
"Well, was just expressing my feelings dear. It just seems sad to me that you would let go of all the memories that place has for you. I think the stories you have told me of your times there are among the few that I have heard true happiness in your voice. But, I do understand. It would be a huge responsibility and easy to see why you wouldn’t want the burden of it. Enough of that! So, how’s the new project going? Have you been making any headway on it?"
The two of them chatted most of the morning away and by the time Calliope hung up the phone, she realized she wouldn’t get much of anything she had planned done this day. So, she snatched her wide brim hat off the hook and headed out the door and into the sunlight.
She strolled slowly through the garden, letting the scents of the budding flowers fill her senses. As unkempt as this garden was, it was still one of the most beautiful gardens she had ever seen. Even without tending, the plants continued to thrive. Though, the lack of tending had sent them into wildness. The small, carefully groomed plants and herbs she remembered having grown into a lush, near jungle state, its scents almost overpowering as she made her way through.
She came to the other end of the garden and noticed a gate she didn’t recall having seen before off in the corner. Curious, she wove her way through the tangles of branches towards it. The gate almost fell in her hand as she pulled on it. "Well, that’s yet another thing that needs tending!" The branches of low bushes completely covered the path and it took all her efforts to push her way through them to the other side. When she emerged, she froze at the sight before her.
It was an old graveyard. But, what was so surprising was that the entire area was beautifully kept and manicured. All the stones were clean and upright, the grass and flowers tended and cut. She had been at this house a thousand times and she was sure she had never seen this place! She thought she had explored every inch of it. How had she missed this? And who has been keeping it up, she wondered.
She wandered slowly through the gravestones, reading the names and dates. They all seemed rather close together, she thought. And the names! She didn’t recognize any of them. Oh wait! That one over there has a familiar sound to it! She searched her memories to try and pull up why it had a familiar taste to it. But, it was just out of her reach. Ah well. She thought. I guess it really isn’t that important.
She sat down on a small hill at the edge and pulled her notebook out of her pocket and let her mind wander. It was a very peaceful place. But then, she had always been fond of graveyards. She found that if you could still your mind, you could almost hear the voices of the spirits gossiping among themselves. It was a most relaxing way to spend the afternoon. She took a deep breath of the early afternoon air, opened her pen and let the place put its touch on her.
It was almost dusk by the time she headed back. She would have to hurry to get back before it got too dark and she had not thought to bring a lantern with her. She was startled as she reached the gate to the garden when she heard what she thought was the sound of laughter behind her. Straining, she thought she heard words coming from the area. "Soon. It’s almost time." She shook her head briskly to clear the words from her head and rushed through the garden to get back inside before the last rays died.
It was late by the time she pulled herself from her place in the big chair and the book that had swept hours of the evening away. She set the book down on the table gently, stretched her stiff limbs and grabbed the lantern to head upstairs for the night.
They were louder this time when she reached that place on the stairwell. "Here!" the voice insisted. "Right here. Look! They’re waiting!" She brushed the hair from her forehead and stopped, a long sigh escaping from her chest. Then she set the lantern down and turned up the flame.
"Okay, you win! What’s here? And who’s waiting?" She asked the steps. She allowed her eyes to scan the steps. As usual, she found nothing different here than the rest of the stairs. She allowed her fingers to run across the smooth wood of the stairs, but everything she touched was smooth, no hidden crevices, no marks that might give rise to further inspection. "There’s nothing here!" she shouted at the stairs. Exasperated, she reached for the lantern and then out of the corner of her eye, she spied a discoloration on the wall at the edge of the step she was on. She moved the lantern closer and made out a small rectangular section of wood. "How odd!" she muttered to herself and reached out to touch it. There was a small indentation on the edge of it and when she pushed on it, it made a clicking sound and a tiny door opened.
She sat down on the step, her breathing coming in quick gasps. Would this house never finish with new secrets? She took a deep breath and slipped her hand inside the opening. Her fingertips landing on a small oddly shaped metal object. Slowly, she drew it out and took it in her hand. It was a key! And a lovely one at that. One of those old ornate skeleton keys like the ones they sell in the antique stores. Not like the rusty old ones that came with the house. She turned it over in her hand, admiring it, its giltwork scrolling on the top, let the weight of it cradle in her hand. As she closed her hand tightly around it, she was certain she heard the house sigh and the whisper on the staircase exclaiming "Yes!" and a peal of giggles. Chills ran up her spine at the sound and for some reason, she was suddenly alert as if she had slept the whole night and filled with the energy of a child.
She knew what the key would open! There was no doubt in her mind and she jumped to her feet and bounded up the rest of the stairs and down the hallway.
She stopped before the old door and looked at the carvings on its surface that had always held her fascination. She took a deep breath, opened her hand and slid the key into the keyhole. As she opened the door, closed for so many years, she could hear it breath "Welcome!" as she pushed it open. Slowly, holding the lantern before her, she took her first step across the threshhold, let the light begin to fill the darkness of the room and as the sight of what was before her, her heart filled with wonder and she stepped all the way in and closed the door behind her.
June 24, 2011
Posted on: August 18 2011
3.5 / 5
by Verity Hill
We stopped in a briny seaport town just long enough to discern the locations of its haunted estates. As we wormed inland we lingered awhile at the hem of a playing field, where sober uniforms belied the jump rope voices chimed. It was a recess song that rose until it crested as the school bell, and the children filed inside. I pretended the verse about ashes addressed you.
The umber sleeve of eventide rolled down the dogged slopes of stars that freckled the fog face of twilight. The forest seemed to banter with itself. I was a bit ashamed I’d brought you there, as though I’d recommended a diner that’d gone under new management since last I’d patronized it, and that fat waitress Sally who always smelled of chamomile had resigned because the line cook liked to slap her bottom. We stayed only a short while. Jays were hungrier for echoes of themselves than owls were titmice and voles. Perhaps it was too early in the season or the evening to demand respect for ashes from wildlife.
You were growing heavy, and as eve darkened forward, night waxed cool, and I imagined the condensation on your flanks was sweat, as we climbed a hill to see what spread itself on the tableau beneath that awesome dark.
There was a town west of where we stopped along the ridge for breath, twinkling dim as an aging flirt. It was sown between parenthesis of cropland and another knuckled spine of hills, perhaps the cousins of the ones we gazed upon it from. I wanted to signal or gesture, in case another pair like us stood opposite and were thinking how close by felt the sudden everywhere a life had fled.
We watched until rime besilvered springlets that trickled between toes of giant boulders. You began to slide down my swell of hip, so I cradled you, as though you were an infant. You seemed to have gained weight, and I fancied myself the Red Cross nurse in that opportune tent of legend, commenting to your war-whittled mother on your miraculously pink determination to thrive. There would be tears in her eyes and those of the dead men who rose from bandage shrouds to see them. She’d delivered amidst a pitiful yield of potatoes in a field plentiful with land mines.
We loped down the hillside as though winding our path upward back onto the bobbin of level ground. I wanted to lay you in the backseat, secured by the lap belt like a child returning from extended bonfire revelry. It was edging onto late and chill was cinching in, as though malice were inferred in shadow body language. We were in the desultory streets of Dickens London then, where men wore squashed hats belonging to recent victims of violence, and behaved like spindly trees that leaned but didn’t seem to bend, being limber yet unyielding.
These were the kilted outskirts of frequency, where radio fuzzed like melancholy sweaters washed too many times in hard water. Music pillowed with static that made one imagine climbing into it and sleeping well into the cock crows of early agriculture. I felt blind with needing rest, easing to shoulder and crawling in behind you, encoiling your cool casement as though to warm it with my body and bring yours back to life.
One should imagine that night restless, spent as it was cramped in the ratted backseat. One should think I’d crave comforts, waking starved with no diner on the bleak horizon. One should think my muscles ached, having borne you around like a newborn to doting landmark neighbours, but I felt refreshed.
I did not wish to return where reverberant disaster might quake through the foundations I’d laid for at peace in its wake. I didn’t want to see or feel anything with those senses that went dead when the line did and I knew I’d have to practice referring to you in past tense. From there I’d gone to the cupboard for your favourite tea, and only with the kettle hissing cover did I cry. Then I drained it and the steam met the wet my eyes had made. I took my glasses off and wiped both away. In the fog of their absence I tried to picture you never again entering my place. I stood up and decided not to know what that would feel like. I left without a suitcase. I bore nothing away.
I went to your funeral in black like I couldn’t feel anything but emptiness absent of colour and you in my life. I went to it wearing garments that smelled like the back of a closet and things forgotten there I never wanted you to smell like. I intoned dead alongside tissue-stuffed sobs in passable Latin. I listened to the honey priest drizzle beeswax candles live with light. I stood with the standers. I bent with the benders. I exited in formation and when outside, in the surprisingly exultant light, she whispered me near her and placed your life in my hands. Your death in my hands. The remains.
She walked away. She had a small back for someone with so forbidding an accent. Osteoporosis seemed to cow her like secrecy, but it was not cowering shamed, but crouching in faithful wait. It was secret dignity smiled eyes shared silent mouths never spoke aloud. I wondered who had marched her mother to the massacre, and whether that man’s children knew how many pregnant women died in the days when he looked smart in that dark uniform.
Why did the broad courtyard with its pilgrim shrine seem so impassable for just one moment? I glanced back at the cathedral and its stuffily seductive erasure of onus. I could seal all the grief in there and let the priests bear it up their sceptres into clouds of incensed droning. I could watch it filter through the dust motes across the Byzantine visages of saints, who seemed to sway as the suffocation of finality claimed me. I could collapse in the aisle and have the priest touch my face with those wax fingers so immersed in holy water they were permanently withered. He would proclaim me for the saviour lost to suicides, and I’d feel the blister of sacrilege pucker where I will always have been born penitent. I could rise and be ushered along pews in muted ceremony, the rug beneath my feet plush as a new-dug grave. I could make death forgetting what life you brought me and how chill was never brittle with your jacket around my shoulders, still warm with the way you’d been in it. I could defect from you, my own heart, your very memory, to be embraced instead by the closure of mourning.
But, no. What you gave I must give in turn, like ashes to ashes and dust and all that. You gave my life texture so I’d feel in everything it touched a finer grade of sensation. You gave my thoughts room to unravel and space to collect messily in, where detangling was warm as limbs sleeking limbs in the haylofts of trespassed shelter.
Posted on: September 26 2012
3.5 / 5
She laughed and swatted me with a book. I instinctively ducked away and headed back to our table, plopping myself down heavily on the chair. I smiled, watching her as she continued to hunt for a good book. The librarians hovered around, critically surveying us to see if anyone was eating, drinking, or using their phones, or being loud...blah blah...I looked up for them and found one watching me. I turned back around and surveyed myself...a spanish textbook open for study and a couple of written notes to the side...I swear, they watched you so closely it made you feel like you were doing something wrong when you weren't. It was frustrating. How were we supposed to do anything with them watching us like a hawk watches a little mouse? Sighing aloud, I turned to my friend. She was leafing through a book, an amused and somewhat interested look on her face. Then, I turned to the door and saw that person enter. I froze. For a moment, I could only blink and stare. I felt the world dim down and I grew panicky. Then, instinctively, I dove into the book shelves and ended up crashing into the legs of my friend. "Whaa!" She gasped and toppled over me. "What's going on?" She questioned me rather testily. "There-there-person, coming in," I stammered, breathing heavily. She got on her knees and peeked over the shelf. "Oh. Well, don't hide like that, get up. Come on. Get up and sit down at the table." She picked me up, guiding me by my elbow as if I were a little kid. I sat down and watched that person head towards the shelves. I heaved over the table and felt my stomach lift out of its spot and head up my body. Oh cheese and rice...cheese and rice...My stomach grew wild and I sank to the floor desperately, despairingly, trying my hardest not to vomit. I could feel my friend watching me concernedly her face showing that she was quite close to running around with her hands flailing in the air screaming for assistance. My hands were planted on the carpet, and I forced my arms to push me up. Suddenly, a shadow reached over me and I looked at my friend's widened eyes. Terrified, my heart raced so rapidly, I couldn't help but think: I'm gonna pass out, I'm gonna pass out, oh help me, I'm gonna pass out! "She's not gonna pass out," said that person in a lulling, drawling voice. What??? They can read minds, too?! Having spoken, I felt that person look back down at me telepathically sending me an obligation that I should look up at that person. I looked at that person's face, and I met their eyes... eyes that flooded with tenderness. They reached down a hand and pulled me up. I began to stammer, to tremble violently. Oh dear, let me think of a really good explanation!!! After helping me get up, that person watched me keenly, waiting for me to say something, and when I didn't, they took my hand and pulled me closer, wrapping me in the most real, the most loving, the most sympathetic and the most heartfelt hug, I'd ever known.
Posted on: May 21 2012
3.5 / 5
I’ve been dancing with death for 6 years. I first tried to kill myself when I was twelve; an overdose which failed miserably. Self injury started at 13 although it was a feble attempt and never amounted to many scars. It always seemed so quick and easy, but at first it was a slow and gruelling process. The pain became a comfort. The battle between my mother and I finally had wounds. At 14 I used to get myself into harms way with the hope of death but to no prevail. Taking ice cold showers for as long as possible ready to sleep under a thin blanket in the middle of a bitter winter. Sleeping became the most difficult it ever had been and the only way finally sleep was an hour or so of crying. Sometimes it would just be a few sobs here and there, others a volent, body-shaking movement. I became a walking zombie which is why I don’t remember much of what happened. The good memories fade, the bad become imprinted in my mind like carvings in wood. My next attempt wasn’t until recently, I had been “saving” my anti depressants ready for the big day. Nothing majorly happened, the thought of my sister partially saved me but this attempt acted as a marker on the map to death. I now knew how many I should take. However, the next time wasn’t enough. It was enough to be admitted for an incredibly short time in hospital, but it wasn’t enough to do the damage I so eagerly wanted. They would ask you certain questions and from those questions and the tone in which they were asked I knew how I should do it the next time. Alcohol. I was sure alcohol would do it. But no. Even alcohol and pills wouldn’t kill me. My body rejected the idea of death each and every time - the battle went from one between my mother and I to between my body and mind.
Now, however, I’m sick of this dance I’ve played. I’m sick of having hope, growing taller, only to crash to the ground in flames. I don’t want hope anymore. It’s a certainty hope can and will come but it will be followed by fire and the flames grow hotter and hotter each time. Body, please yield to my mind’s wishes. Stop resisting, you too will be at peace. From my decaying body beings shall feast, nutrients released and life will finally thrive. The final move in the great game of life is dawning; my arms are open, forever welcoming it.
Posted on: May 16 2012
3.5 / 5
by Raegan Black
Let me tell you a story of a boy and girl, just trying to survive in a crazy world.
They scream and they cry yet no one knows why. They seem to have it made is what the world perceives yet they're missing the one thing they need.
They try, try so hard to break away. From the World, from each other, hoping to see a better day.
But they sink low, lower than before, one wondering if they'll ever let go asthe other heads for the door.
This is a story of a boy and girl, trying to survive in a crazy world.
They want to give up and give into the fear but they both know they'll survive for another year.
Posted on: March 27 2012
3.5 / 5
I am too excited to sleep. My energy runs through me. It is a bolt of lightening that leaps from my heart, bursts from my ribs, and explodes into the night sky. It illuminates what was once a dark hour as it shoots through taut forest cobwebs. Now spiders are falling, forced to say goodbye to their silken clouds of disguise and deceit. They quiver and plummet along with the trees, allowing me at last to hear the song of the stars with crystal clarity. These stars are like me, swelling and bursting with knowledge that is for many still blocked by cobwebs and trees and spoiled thoughts and each other. Hold me and stop me from shooting up into the night sky, for this epiphany feels too great for one small mind to carry (how can these supreme and godly thoughts of love and happiness be piled up into flesh and chemicals)? I feel selfish, unable to spread my clarity into every soul on earth, but most of all I am scared tomorrow the universe will avenge my privacy by stealing back my drastic change of heart.
Posted on: July 14 2011
3.0 / 5
I've committed your cell phone number to memory. Just as I have your smile and the way you flick cigarette after cigarette out car window and the coarseness of your palms passing iPod to Haley, iPod to Jace, to Haley, iPod to Jace, back to haley, to dashboard.
I've committed your obsessions to my thoughts. Day in and day out on rewind, fast forward.
You told me I remind you of Lena Dunham.
You told me I remind you of a New Mexican version of that one autobiographer addicted to weight loss pills.
"Oh, God, no, Haley, I meant it in a flattering way!"
And I was flattered that you picture me as a famous anorexic.
You had nearly the complete collegtion of the Esopus books and I marveled at how immaculate your bedroom was until I stepped foot into it.
It was as if...
Edge of the universe.
All bets off at this point and were you coming with me was the question.
I sifted through issue after issue of gaudy art magazine, trying to find the perfect visual poetry to describe the day we shared.
I found it, by the way.
Issue nine, I think, one of those poems in which the artist scribbles out all words on the page except for the perfect handful.
And it goes:
"Is this body bewildering enough for anyone, even the air?"
Because I look at you, scrawny.
You said you'd gone to the gy once in the past three months.
You said you'd been drinking your liver to solid stone.
You said. The only source of nutrition you ever got was from the marijuana you licked off your fingers after packing a bowl.
And I look at you and I see
Posted on: March 28 2013
3.0 / 5
Displaying Article 151 - 175 of 1123 in total
joined the VIS community!
at 6:00PM May 24