Wednesday, December 31, 2014

institutional grey

Were these endless lines real?

The waiting room stretches out in all directions. People of all possible combinations sprawl in uncomfortable plastic chairs. Looking further, the blurring, wood-toned mélange of flesh gets lost within a riot of contrasting cultural costumes.

Out in the far distance both flesh and clothes average to a sort of blue-brown taupe. Humanity it seems is quite boring when taken as a mean. He sighs again. Only in the olfactory is the average tilted towards expressiveness. A dense population of human bodies produces a truly unfortunate bouquet.

He sighs again and twists uncomfortably in that abominable chair. Why do all institutions (civic or otherwise [but civic especially]) have those same damned chairs? The same textured plastic is always molded in precise opposition to ergonomic consideration and is always poorly riveted to cheaply enameled steel tubing, always, always the same. Also, there’s those same scuffed, white vinyl tiles with the same dirty looking black specks, or perhaps the damn things just come dented and dirty. 
Then there’re these lights, these infuriating lights that flicker just on the verge of one’s ability to perceive it, plus that unnerving hum; oh how that hum could drive a man to murder. How much longer? How much longer until they call for him I wonder… I wonder, why is he here?

Why am I here?

You know what else is weird? The average age in here is all wrong. It is skewed way older than I’d guess it ought to be… You don’t think…? No. Right?

Oh, wait they’re calling my number.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

encroaching void

It was breaking open in front of him, and it only seemed to exist in two dimensions. People just kept pushing on by him, in a hurry. He stood bewildered in the intersection of 5th and B.

He had to hold his head just so and keep his knee bent midstride, but there it was.

What should I do?  Questions kept swirling through his mind. Should I call the cops? Will they believe me? Do I believe me? What is it? Why can’t anyone else see it? Is it dangerous? Is this real? Is this really happening? Do I need to tell somebody? Is it okay to not tell anyone? What will people think? Is everybody looking at me?

The glittering crack in the air continued to slowly spread, revealing in increments a vast shimmering void.

The light changed. The impatience of a motorist and the sharp blast of a honking horn jarred Bryan out of position. He hurried across the street. He felt relieved to no longer see it. Bryan put it from his mind and relaxed into the thoughtless progression of his day to day.

He went back to work and ate at his desk. It was tuna salad with too little mayo and somehow soggy bread, just like yesterday.

He had the same sandwich the next day, but he didn’t bother to awkwardly flirt with the barista. She found it odd but was glad of it.

The next day, he just laid a ten dollar bill on the counter. Jen, the over-worked barista, looked at him questioningly for a moment. He stared back at her, blankly. She got him a small coffee and a tuna sandwich. Brian said nothing and left.

The same story repeated itself for the rest of the work week.

On Monday, Jen gave him a ham sandwich and a puckish smile. Bryan said nothing and left.

As the weeks went by, the Coffee Clutch got quieter and quieter. Jen began to be concerned. She didn’t quite know what to do. “Business people being more boring than normal” wasn’t exactly something you went to the cops with. Several of her friends in various service industries were telling similar stories.

Then it finally happened. Jen had been feeling especially on edge all morning long. It seemed too dark in the shop. It wasn’t that bright outside. Why were all the curtains drawn?

Brian came through the door, his empty eyes burning holes through her. Every customer in the store turned towards her at once. Seven sets of emotionless eyes burned through her at once.

Her stomach tied in knots. She desperately reached beneath the counter. Brian lurched at her with a sudden burst of speed. She felt faint but lashed out. The butcher knife bit into his wrist and turned him aside, in a spray of blood and panic.

She stumbled backwards through kitchen doors, ducked the cook’s clumsy grab, and ran out into the alley screaming for help.

Jen did not expect to be arrested. She did not expect a hard eyed woman named Cassandra to post her bail. She did not expect to be told that this was happening all over, that people were being turned into vacant shells of themselves, and that very few even noticed or cared. No one expects that sort of thing.

Monday, December 29, 2014

prose poem 3 - emptiness and echoes

It’s not very well known, but hope is something of a glue. It binds one to his fellows. It connects one to her surroundings.

So what then happens without hope, without care, in the absence connective strands?

Beyond despair and desire, you are free to find the cracks in this façade that we think so real, so important. You are free to fall away to other places.

That filthy thing you see on the streets, with its matted hair and tiny bean teeth. That thing that once was a man, when it babbles about reptilian queens and psychic signals in its teeth, this may not simply be the fevered dream of a diseased brain. It may be quite true. It may have seen vistas beyond your imagining.

That filthy needle in its arm may blast it forward to strange new places.

And, on that planet, amongst those alien stars, it may once more become he or she. It may find itself a person again. It may walk and smile and want and grow. It may learn and change and rise to greatness. Maybe.

Or, it may be another broken thing desperately seeking numb oblivion to deliver to its veins.

Either way, be kind. Kindness costs us little. The smallest moments still echo through eternity.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

tin shack, rusted part 3

Strange, serpentine halls wound on and on, each twisting passageway refusing to meet another at anything resembling a right angle. The maze was monumentally huge, a monotony of patinaed corrugation and soft barely-sufficient light.

After some time, rusting barbed wire began to appear, knotting and branching organically across the walls. Like a surreal mockery of living vines, tangles of the stuff eventually encroached into the path and completely covered the sides.

Sans the map, it would have been frighteningly easy to wander about for days. As it was, they found one room after another, empty save for large pools of cold blood. Rutherford forced himself to remain vigilant and aware. Sandra absently toyed with a small red stone, her eyes knit in consternation. It took some few hours and cautious miles to get them to the furthest room. It was as empty as the rest.

“Well shit,” Rutherford complained. “We’re gonna have to go back through this whole damn place, tapping on the damn walls, searching the damn pools.”

“I think not,” Sandra replied pointing to the right. “Look.”

Rutherford squinted, “Ya. It’s what five or ten feet shorter than the other rooms, ain’t it?”

“Yes, and besides, two snakes were taken here.”

A sudden cacophony came screaming through the halls. Hundreds of yards of rusted wire scraped against echoing metal walls, rattling, screaming, screeching. Sharp, shrill sounds promising pain resonated through the huge, empty space.

In almost one motion, Rutherford shoved Sandra to the side, launched himself backwards, and fired a few pointless bullets at the barbed wire thing coalescing in the doorway.

Sandra screamed something as Rutherford rolled to his feet and ran. The terrible rasping thing flowed after him. He paused for a moment at the back wall then dove right; the ductile monstrosity crashed into the infinite tin without slowing. It was only a footstep behind him when he began to smell brimstone.

“The BLOOD!” screamed Sandra.

He turned and dove for the deep pool. The creature was glowing with heat and near incandescence. Blanketing steam and the smell of burnt meat filled the air. Rutherford finally came up to breath, and the barbed horror tried to rush towards him.

It shattered under its own insistence of movement. The formerly ductile behemoth cracked with a multitude of crystalline chimes, splashing noisily into the repugnant pool.

“Well that is about the loudest damn thing I ever heroically ran away from!” Rutherford declared in the deafening quiet that followed.

He crawled out of the sanguine pool to find Sandra Ellen sitting against a tin wall. She was shaking noticeably and trying not to cry. Sandra held out her smoking right hand and with some effort pried open her fist. An ember glowing stone fell from her horribly burnt palm.

“That’s the longest I’ve ever held a Bloodfire stone,” she spat out, short of breath.

Rutherford uncharacteristically said nothing but offered her a flask of whiskey and a roll of bandages. She took the flask and gave it back empty. Only then did she loosely dress her wound.

“I don’t suppose you have any laudanum in that sack?” she asked.

“Wouldn’t ya know,” he replied offering her a hand up, “already drank it.”

The eastern wall proved to be foil thin and bent back to reveal a small, well lit library. A library dominated by a long, roughhewn table. On which a single volume lay, open and shining with an unreal opalescence.

Sandra Ellen forgot her pain for a moment and ran to stand in awe before the glimmering tome.

“The Book of Shared Secrets,” she whispered. “We may actually win.”

Saturday, December 27, 2014

tin shack, rusted part 2

Another impossible maze, how many of these godsdamned places featured impossible mazes?

Rutherford tried to run his hand through his dark brown hair; he stopped when his fingers met the stiff resistance of dried frog slime. They had stayed out in the heat for another hour while Sandra Ellen meticulously copied down the snake map. He had memorized all the turns to get to each of the blood puddles, which he assumed were rooms while she remained unconscious. That wasn’t good enough though.

The place was lit. That was nice for a change. However the lack of an obvious light source was a bit disconcerting. The tops of the corrugated tin maze remained hidden in shadows. Rutherford picked up a stone they must’ve kicked in with them and tried to toss it over the walls. It went up nearly twenty feet before it crashed into the wall. The light source, whatever that was traveled with the object, but they still hadn’t seen the top.

Sandra was glaring at him. He ignored her and knelt on the loose, cold dirt floor. Using his knife, Rutherford pried back a corner of the tin walls at a poorly matched seem. He found another layer of tin, the seams slightly offset. Behind that he found more of the same.

“Well we’re gonna have to play by the rules on this one, Sandy,” he said with a wink and headed down the hallway. “Right, Right, Straight, Left, Right to the first blood puddle. Am I right?”

Sandra pointedly consulted her map, but an irritated huff gave him all the conformation he needed.

They headed deeper into the timber and tin labyrinth, awaiting the inevitable Minotaur.

Friday, December 26, 2014

tin shack, rusted part 1

[This is a continuation from yesterday's piece; read it first [clickable link] if you haven't. I try to make most of these things stand alone stories, but this is the story on my mind so it's coming at ya in pieces.]

The rusted tin shack moved subtly but implacably, a counterpoint to the turning of the Earth. It never left the shadow of that lonely leaning spire. The door was cold to the touch, Rutherford noted with a sigh. This wouldn’t be pleasant; the insides probably wouldn’t make much sense, and their clothes were still soaked in frog snot.

“Out of the fire and into an icebox I guess,” he muttered. Sandra Ellen was beside him, pitching a fit or casting a spell or some damn thing. He really wasn’t sure.

Her eyes were rolled back in her head, her fingers scribbled in the sand, and she kept muttering in Latin or Greek or pure damn gibberish for all he knew.

He sighed again then went rummaging through the sack tied to his belt. He should’ve brought more water or less whiskey. Nah, he decided, I got the whiskey part right.

Suddenly, Sandra turned to the side and began to heave violently. It took some time, but eventually she vomited up a terrible tangle of snakes.

“Watch where they go!” she barked breathlessly before passing out.

Rutherford took a fortifying tug then did what he was told.

The snakes took off in all directions leaving behind too-deep ruts in the coarse desert sand. He tried to follow them all as best he could. The snakes ignored him generally and continued to weave their strange circuitous routes. He hoped between them from group to group dashing madly back and forth, until the birds arrived.

A diving desert hawk took a piece of Rutherford’s left ear on its way to one of the snakes. A heartbeat later, an eagle took a snake to his right. The rain of birds continued for several harrowing minutes.


Sandra Ellen awoke to find herself in the center of a maze of crisscrossing snake trails punctuated by blood stained sand.

“It’s a map, ain’t it?” asked Rutherford.

“So it seems.”

“I’m guessing yer friend isn’t home.”


“Well let’s get goin’. If we wait too long, the slime’ll dry, and everybody knows bein' comfortable is bad luck.”

Thursday, December 25, 2014

the toad and the sun

[While it's not necessary to do so, first reading these previous stories, featuring the same characters, may make this one more enjoyable. First. Second. Third.]

The sun baked the barren valley, washing out any hope of color. All things within it were bleached to the same yellow dun, the same dull ghostly shade of gold. Wave upon wave of hateful heat rose and reflected off the dead stones, distorting any hope of clarity.

The great bone yellow toad hoped ponderously forward. It barely felt the burning stones beneath it. The toad’s skin had grown thick, hard, and dry, all the better to keep the secrets of its wet, soft insides. It hopped evenly ahead, unstoppable and unending.

It, she rather, she would not be the last living thing – that was foretold to be her smaller softer sibling – but she would survive this war and many more before the end.

Finally, the toad stopped inside the crossroads in an abandoned shell of a dead desert town. Without ceremony, the creature opened her hulking jaws to wretch forth her passengers.

After much coughing and sputtering, the long, lean, and weather-beaten form of Rutherford stood on uneasy legs. It took some time for his eyes to adjust. He took a moment sigh at the slime coating his brand new blue and white checked shirt.

Only then did he help the short blonde beside him to her feet. Her long summer green dress fared no better at least, he noted silently.

“That ain’t hardly no way to travel, Sandra Ellen,” Rutherford remarked.

“Hush,” she scolded. “The Ghost of the Frog King is an excellent ally.”

“I’m relatively certain that there’s never been a frog on the whole damn planet that gave two shits what a human being thought of ‘em,” he said through a grin. “Why would their King be any different?”

“You’re probably right, but I prefer to take a more cautious tack in these matters.”

He changed the subject, “You really expect anybody to be still livin’ out here?”

“I’m not sure, but at the very least her library will be invaluable to our efforts.”

“Uh-huh. Now looting weird shit outta the wilderness that, at least, is something I know how to do. So where we goin’ girl? Ain’t gettin’ any cooler here.”

She sighed and turned her back to the sun, looking for the long shadow of the standing stone.

“Where else would we go? Head for the darkness, sir.”

“After you, ma’am,” he quipped before drawing his heavy revolver and taking the lead.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

running in the woods

Out in the wilderness, somewhere far from home, a lone figure runs through the trees. She knows how dangerous this is. A moment of inattention, a single misstep, a single lace of clouds blocking the moonlight: any of these things and so much less could be her undoing.

Her heart pounds heavy in her ears, but still she hears the creature coming. Cold air burns her lungs, but somehow a thin smile crosses her lips. Look closely.

Did you see it? Did you see that half second’s pause? Just there on the flat stone?

She dove forward just in time; the black shadow of a claw passed right through where her heart would have been. So far the beast has had nothing of her but tatters torn from her great red cape.

The jet blur that is the Wolf growls in silence and dashes madly, heedlessly ahead. He is mere feet from now her. One misstep and the creature can pounce. He can smell her hot blood through thin skin.

The moonlight dims, and her foot finds a gnarled and hateful root. She is cast down into the ditch. The beast leaps; the Wolf commits all his weight and rage and momentum into a single inalterable arc.

The Woodsman watches. He swings from behind the gnarled and hateful tree, leading with an axe. Cold grim iron, wrought from the will of civilization, rends the wild Wolf in twain.

The running woman in the Red Hood laughs with maniac glee. She lies in the leaves, a cruel iron dirk in her fist. Even had the Woodsman missed, Red Riding Hood still held ready the dagger’s kiss.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

knowledge part 2 of 2: knowing

Dr. Greggory Burns’ Notes, Countinued.
Patient was found amidst the burned down wreck of his office. Has been in a catatonic state since, punctuated by brief periods of near lucidity, repeats these phrases: “Bellow Below.”; “Misjudgment”; “Red missing”; “Scales Equate, Equate, Equation”.
Patient also murmurs seemingly random numbers while sleeping. I have him under 24 hour video surveillance. I’m beginning to notice a peculiar pattern.
Fire Marshall is still determining whether arson was involved. Attached letter was recovered from the scene.
It is strange; the letter was addressed to an abandoned building only a few blocks from Dr. Bolton’s home/office. I personally spoke with the mail carrier, and she remembers dropping off several similar letters to a red mailbox. Trouble is this mailbox no longer seems to exist.
Additionally, I was passingly acquainted with Dr. Bolton, both of us being mental health professionals in the same town. The letter doesn’t read like him. There is something decidedly old fashioned about it.

Patient Report and Continuing Assessment pg. 5

Dr. Greggory Burns’ Notes, Countinued.
No change in patient’s symptoms.
Fire Marshall has ruled out arson. They say it was an electrical fire, started because of the preponderance of odd machines Dr. Bolton was using.
I checked with the State University campus: There is no Dr. Geller. There hasn’t been one there for 40 yrs.
I’ve obtained police permission to sort through what is left of his patient notes.
No change.
No change. Beginning to see a pattern in those numbers.
Amus’s patient notes arrived today.
I had the dreams myself. Amus looks at me differently now.
I’ve gathered what I need. I have discovered Amus’s mistake. The color red. The mail box. Dahlia has no hold on me. Tomorrow, the meteor shower, I go for it. The cycle stops with me.
Patient Report and Continuing Assessment pg. 6


Amus ran his fingers through dripping wet, copper colored hair. He handed a worn manila file folder back to the dark haired man sitting in front of him. Dr. Burns limply held the files for several minutes before speaking.

“Do we tell anyone?” asked Greg.

After another long, still silence, Amus replied, “I don’t know. I still don’t believe knowledge to be evil, even this knowledge, but…”

“It’s dangerous,” Greg offered.

Amus nodded. “Obviously.”

“Does anyone else deserve it?”

“Do we?” asked Amus plaintively.

“We earned it, I think.”

The manila folder dropped softly through the gaping maw of the furnace. Its pages quickly curled away into forgotten ashes.

 “Who do you think she really was, Greg?”

“I don’t know.”

Monday, December 22, 2014

knowledge part 1 of 2: dear dahlia

  Dearest Dahlia,

I write this in haste. Apologies, for you deserve much more than I have the time. Please my dearest treasure, know that I love you. Know that our nights together are amongst the most meaningful remembrances of all my days.
Know too, dear one, that I must proceed with what I have started. The preparations have all been made. The time is nigh. The device is completed.
I have solved it! I can see the scales even now. Well, I can near enough see them. There is still the mystery of the mailbox and the absence of the color red.
Nevertheless, I have cracked it on both accounts. It was that final image of the scales, only in the first patient’s dream that solved it. The two dreams are the same thing; each the obverse side of the other. The Explorer heading into the earth and the Serpent which is Not a Serpent heading upwards from its stygian depths.
They are scales, my dear! Opposite sides of the same set of scales! As surely as one rises the other must descend. I would prefer to lay the onus of impetus upon the human element; however, I am beginning to think the Serpet the actor and all of us reactionary waves.
As far as the colors are concerned, it was a chance meeting at my old alma mater which set things straight. Dr. Geller, a professor of theoretical physics, and I spoke of the correspondence of frequency between color and sound. Color and Sound! Kinetic Waves and Electromagnetic Radiation! Of course!
The device is now completed.
I must confess, My Dearest Dahlia, that I was forced to make acquaintances with a most unsavory crowd to attain many of the articles necessary for my endeavor. I will be glad to be done with them. I will be glad to be done with all of this.
But I must proceed. I cannot leave this path uncharted. I must know the truth.
I do not believe the old stories. I refuse to believe that a serpent cursed us with knowledge. I refuse to believe that knowledge is the downfall of man.
Know that I love you more than any other being.

With Love Everlasting,

Patient Report and Continuing Assessment pg. 4

Sunday, December 21, 2014

men know nothing

“Hah!” she snorted to herself, “Men know nothing.” She stirred the great cauldron, moving back and forth to the rhythm in her head.

They think their work is hard, Ourita thought. They drink the old palm juice. They kill the great beasts. They bring home the meat. Then they congratulate themselves and drink the old palm juice.

But, then the women take the meat from the bones. The women put aside the portion, climb the hill, and sink it into the cold lake. Then the women cut the meat and boil the bones. These are the women who tend the crops and the children. Women’s work is never done.

Once, Dim Chango told Ourita he could outwork, her. She laughed and told him if he could stir the great cauldron all the day of the Summer Feast, he could have her to be his wife. He did not even see it to noon.

She laughed in remembering, but Chango had a good heart. She would relent to him this night, or so she thought.

The pain was building in the small of her back and her heavy forearms screamed for a rest. She shook her head and smiled. She remembered her strength. Had she not trounced that pale northerner, who mistook her for a whore? Had she not bested Tall Bo-dan in a game of two sticks? She was Ourita, 

Strong Ourita!

She had shoulders, wide like a man’s and a strong, straight back. Her hands could crack through to the golden nut alone; she needed no stone.

How could she be bested by the Summer Feast?

Ourita found a new rhythm and was about to start her work chant when she heard the first screams. The men would be in the hills. She grabbed the great staff from the pot and dashed into the fray.


Years later she would often think of that day. When she wandered in foreign places with metal draped on her shoulders, she would remember that day. She would remember her life that died. She would remember her second birth in blood and fire.

Saturday, December 20, 2014


It had been too long. He could tell right away.

His mouth was a dry. He could smell himself. It wasn’t pleasant. His head throbbed, and his stomach was twisted in tight hungry knots.

A single beam of light crashed through some small tear in his foil lined windows. It was like staring into the sun. He dared not close his eyes lest he drift back into sleep’s realm. He’d danced in that garden too long.

With great effort he got the bottle of water from his nightstand. Slowly and deliberately he measured its contents down his desperate throat.

Only then did he painfully sit up and inch his way to the edge of the mattress. He muttered a quick prayer to Hypnos and stood on shaking legs.

In the kitchen he took what little sustenance his stomach was able to endure. He had a decision to make.

He’d made it further than ever before. He had actually stood before the Gateless Dwelling in the Land That Never Knew the Sun. The longer he waited to return, the longer he remained awake, the further he would be from that place. Then again he may never wake up at all.

Digging through his nightstand, the dreaming wanderer found his cleanest needle. His veins were filled with Sleep’s great fire, and he boldly laid his head upon the pillow.

Friday, December 19, 2014

vacant night

She swaggered down the dim-lit streets. Cassandra had always walked like that; her mother used to claim she sashayed right down the birth canal.

Cassandra smiled and knit her brow as she remembered her mother. She tried to hold onto her mother’s big toothy smile and not what her mom had become in the end.

Even at night, the buildings seemed to leer overhead, crowding the streets and narrow sidewalks below. Scattered bits of leaves and leaflets stirred in the fitful breeze.

Her ears were attuned to the city around her: the distant blaring of horns, an occasional crunch of tires on cracked asphalt, and dogs barking in nearby neighborhoods. It was amazing that anybody got any sleep anymore. The dogs knew what was happening.

Maybe I should get a dog, she thought.

She shot quick, hard looks at the few passersby. Mostly though, she kept her eyes on the soft orange glow of the horizon.

She thought about Nietzsche. She sang whole albums in her head. She tried to remember as many lines as she could from her high school production of Macbeth. She thought about anything except last Thursday night.

As she passed two young men, her heart dropped cold into her stomach. It wasn’t their torn t-shirts, their placement in the shadows of the alleyway, nor the sullen glow of their cigarettes. It was the way they stood, completely placid and inhumanly immobile.

On the third pass, her instincts proved correct.

Cassandra screwed her courage to the sticking point and strode into the alleyway. She asked for a cigarette. She got no reply.

She looked away, just long enough. Her chest tightened. Slimy pressure swelled behind her eyes.
They’d gotten too close.

She jerked backwards and ripped the gun from its hidden holster. Their dead eyes looked so out of place above their gaping hungry mouths. Six sharp cracks and it was all over. The things lay dead 
before her.

She didn’t bother to hide the bodies. Whatever was behind all this didn’t want to be found out, at least not yet. They’d be gone by morning.

Two more down and a whole city full of the vacant to go. Only the dogs and Cassandra saw the plague around them.

phoning it in

He sat at his computer, drained and aching. The sad pressure of another day had been completed. The usual routines and cycles repeated. He was finished.

He peeled off the outer layer of his skin exposing the violent tinted musculature beneath. He stretch and cracked all the knuckles from his hands to his elbows. He sighed in relief; it felt good to relax and let everything go. The report for the homeship could wait until tomorrow. It was the weekend after all.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

victory walk

Victory was quieter than he’d imagined. Well, strictly, speaking it wasn’t something he’d imagined as possible. Sam kept trying at it anyway.

The walk to the coffee shop was pretty much the same. The same sorts of people were out and about. The same damn pigeons shitting on everything. The same bored barista half listening to orders and empty pleasantries. The sun was shining, which wasn’t everyday there but not, you know, uncommon either.

He could understand feeling so empty if he’d cheated. He hadn’t. He’d pulled it off fair and square. He’d set out to show those sons of bitches, and by-god he’d done just that. He’d raked in accolades and congratulations and took that smirk right off Johnson’s stupid fucking face.

He impressed everyone. He had friends in high places now. He’d spited those against him. He’d won in the eyes of everyone around him. Bully for him, I guess.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

small victory

Through the grass they came. Like scintillating waves of separate winds, the horrible rat-things skittered forward. Extra sets of insectile legs gipped, twisted, tugged on the grass as the horde surged forth. Some rat-things bristled with so many extra limbs; they looked like stubby furred centipedes or scraggling and bent puffer fish.

Amadalia watched them from above, through the violet tinged glow that always stained her vision. The Candied One of Children’s Glee would be pleased enough with the battle this day. These land-bound vermin stood no chance against them.

With a great piping voice, Amadalia trilled the fairies’ war song. Long, delicate spears of sugar crystals rained from the sky, spilling foul-smelling blood on the dewy ground. Rolling rows of tiny, purple-shining women dove hurling their confectionary arsenal. Hunks of rock-candy spun from slings and shattered skulls. Still-burning caramel stuck fast and scalded away flesh.

The rat-things tossed their queer scarab-headed clubs into the sky with surprising accuracy and strength. Some of them burst into swarms of stinging wasps and terrible biting flies. Some of them leapt skyward on crickets’ legs and bore her sisters to the blood-puddled ground.

However, it was not long before the rat-things fled the field. The Candied One would mourn for dozens, but the Hidden Devourer lost hundreds. Amadalia sighed and surveyed the corpse strewn ground. Only the crows would be happy today. It was a great waste, she thought.

That was when the net wrapped around her, tangling in her wings. The rat-things drug her into a deep dark hole, giggling shrilly in glee. Rat-things care nothing about waste.

Monday, December 15, 2014

the owl faced serpent

Somewhere in the shadows, the sacred snake will come. Somewhere in the shadows, she waits so phallic. Somewhere in the shadows, she gave birth to the candle. Somewhere in the shadows, the blessed owl’s sleeping eyes see. Somewhere in the shadows, the libram lays wide open.

Deep in the tightness of shadows, the unending space awaits. Deep in the tightness of shadows, the sleeping mind waits awake. Deep in the tightness of shadows, the too-twisted paths shall break.

Beyond fate by choice by knowledge, she waits. Beyond fate past pain past time, she waits.

She awaits just beyond the daylight’s reach.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

the hallway

The hallway loomed. A broken figure crawled pathetically ahead. Every inch struggled against him.

Trembling, he finally caught hold of the smooth metal cylinder. It clicked into place. Cold tiles held his sweat drenched head.

He was finished.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

footnotes from a parallel history book

17. It is interesting to note that prior to the First Interplanetary War, Christianity was by far the dominate religion in the Western world. Mystery Cults, unlike today, faced persecution at every turn and were thus quite secretive. Many historians (see Halethorpe and Munster in the annotated bibliography) theorize that without the well-distributed cell structures of these Cults in place, humanity may well have lost the War.
18.  Kaiser 1978, 61-7.
19. Brendan Killian has argued extensively that Gnomes, Aelf-types, and other Fey Kindred played a significantly smaller part in the War than earlier historiography assumed. This is based in part on a meta-analysis of primary sources and newer more genetically sound population models. See Bibliography.
20.  Barkley 1989 , 124-89
21. Ibid., 195.
22. Though there were several more Mystery Cults of some significance beyond those of The Falsehood Who Brings Truth and The Owl Headed Serpent, few others survived the war. The thaumaturgical potential of these cults is still hotly debated.

23. “Praise be to the Twisted Serpent of the Unforgotten Lost. She sees all and nothing. His great unblinking eye both sleeps and is awake…” another translation of the words that helped to end the War.

Friday, December 12, 2014

tv rainbow

Scorching hot acrid smoke filled my lungs. I held on to it for as long as I possibly could. Then I took a breath and took another pull. Desperation, I guess it was, to break through the mundane, to shatter the world around me, and also curious to see a new wave of distortions.

It came on too strong; it always does. However, it always takes just long enough that you’re certain you need more. Sigh…

The garish colors of the poorly produced satire on the tiny television started spreading. The light stretched outwards like cartoon cellophane. It leached forth, spilling it’s insanity onto the spread of reality, ruining the good credibility of my vision. That was the point I guess.

I was sliding down the sofa, and near to losing my shit entirely. I had to say something funny. I needed to seed that evening with a ridiculous narrative. I would force this memory into dozens of stories told at dive bars and house-parties and the like.

“That TV rainbow is so. fucking. metal.”

I barely managed to spit it out before my words became true. That TV rainbow got really, really fucking metal after that.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

prose poem 2 - the entropic arrow of time

He stared dully ahead. The soft sand colored blur of winter-dead grass slid on by in the dim light of his periphery. Stretching onward, a dull dusty road formed an unstoppable isosceles triangle …

But, that damned drab pick-up refused to speed up, blocking out the distant vanishing point.

He could imagine past it, though, to a distant place of conceivable future happiness, sunnily lit on some golden afternoon. Future days of possible joy are always bathed in afternoon light.

But, the past still weighed backward; an inescapable morass of previous missteps and bad ideas stuck heavily and ever-widening behind him.

And still that godsdamned truck refused to move.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

sweaty. pink. horrible.

Things would be easier, really, if he would just lose the extra weight. Everything wouldn’t be such a burden.

Jonathon huffed and puffed making the short trek from his well-appointed room to the dining car. His great paunch barely let him squeeze into the table. Then, of course, his velvet draped belly drug across and caught hold of the damasked table linens. The serving man quickly cleared away the dropped silverware and china.

The small window reflected Jonathon Bright’s sweaty, pink face. Beyond that, the great flat grasslands rolled by, punctuated only by the occasional black lump of a buffalo. He rolled his eyes and snorted at the servant’s apologies for the abhorrently cramped conditions.

Mr. Bright limited himself to only three servings that evening. He did, after all, have dessert waiting for him in his private car.

She was still tied to his bed when returned.

It felt so good to get out his clothes and to let the great bulk of his midsection hang loose. Both glistening pink tentacles unwound from his waist, allowing in the relief of the cool night air. He sighed in relief as they unfurled before him.

“Muuuuch better,” he hissed.

Somewhere in the back of his mind he knew something was wrong, but the horrible eel-like heads were already screaming for blood. She didn’t seem to be afraid for one thing, and there was something curious about the twisted snake and owl pendant she still wore. He ponderously approached the ample young woman, nevertheless.

Her hand was so quick and the razor so sharp and the eels so insistent that all he really felt was a warm spurt of blood down his thighs.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


The entirety of his field of vision was a riot of unearthly blues. It took a long time for Jose’s mind to understand the place that surrounded him. A land of lapis lazuli, robin’s eggs, sapphires, and desert skies stretched out to the indigo horizon.

Jose alternated between long shocked stares, franticly glancing about, and blinking in bewilderment. He had no idea how long he stood there before the reality of the place dawned on him. It was absolutely mundane.

Aside from being blue, he might as well have been back in Arizona. The cactus in front of him was an unfamiliar species, but was not dissimilar to any number of cacti on his father’s back 40. The shimmering canary blue bird circling above wasn’t a blue vulture, but it wasn’t far off really.

Evidently the gnome hadn’t lied to him. The bar of platinum in Jose’s hand shone with an unusual brilliance as did the red-brown dust on his jeans, the ecru cloth of his shirt, even the flesh of his hand looked harsh and out of place here.

He was beginning to get a bit dizzy. Maybe the tequila hadn’t been the best idea. Maybe none of this was a great idea.

As it turned out, even his vomit shimmered with vigorous glaring contradiction in this place. Wiping his mouth, his eyes finally adjusted enough to differentiate trails of dust heading away from him.

Jose’s incongruously brown eyes widened. He realized what he would do if he saw a blue man suddenly materialized in front of him. He’d round up a posse. Maybe this wasn’t a great idea.

Monday, December 8, 2014

prose poem 1

Existence presses in against him. Black viscous unrelenting pressure only tightens when pressed against. Each breath is a vicious struggle. Every step fights forward in an impossible dream of momentum. Choking sobs are a simple waste of energy, like screaming in the dark. There is no direction but forward. The past is an immovable wall of insistent force. The way ahead sparkles with busted glass. I don’t have any shoes. This ends in a Diehard metaphor, I guess.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

a new pet

Carolyn Teresa Hofstede had a problem. She loved pets so much, but her parents never let her keep them. Gregory the snake, Julius the frog, Bernard the cricket, and three baby bird eggs she hid on her windowsill, all had to go back to the woods by the stream. She never even got to see the bird babies.

She couldn’t let that happen to squishy Squerbils. He was just too cute. He jiggled and shook so excitedly.

“Squerbils…” squeaked Squerbils.

Carolyn scooped the little critter into her painted garden pail. He slid right off his splorchy perch by the stream. She was very careful not to muddy her new calico dress. The raven-haired little girl hurriedly exited the woods, toting a heavy load across the pasture. She used the perfectly lain vegetable garden for cover as long as she could. Then, a quick dash brought her through the draped clothes lines and to her backdoor.

At least Daddy wasn’t home. He was off “fighting Indians.” Which was strange because he always wore his best suit to do it; Mommy wouldn’t even let him into the garden in that suit. Carolyn was missing something, she knew, but nobody ever explained anything to her. Everyone was always so busy with neighbors and cousins and society meetings and business associates that nobody had time for Carolyn. Still though, Daddy usually found the pets.

Daddy being gone would make it easier she thought. Mommy would be in the parlor with Aunt Ellen. She only had to worry about Viola.

Viola was the maid. Mommy said that Viola’s “matronly bosom” was her best feature. The way Aunt Ellen always sniggered made Carolyn think that Mommy was being mean. As usual, nobody explained anything to her.

She was hauling the pail and the critter up the back steps to her bedroom when Viola caught her. Viola’s sharp green eyes shot right to Squerbils squirming in the bucket.

“Squerbils…” trilled Squerbils.

Viola blinked several times. She then smiled and said, “Good morning, Miss Carolyn. I’ll have you some breakfast in just a bit. Would you like to have it at your desk, honey? I can read you a book over your eggs.”

Carolyn nodded breathlessly. Viola squeezed right by them on the stairs and said nothing about Squerbils!

When she got to her room, Carolyn hid Squerbils’ bucket behind the miniature jewelry armoire on her desk. She petted him thoroughly, and he felt just like a frog stuffed with jellied eels. She wrinkled her nose at the thought of those nasty jiggly things from their vacation in London.

A little while later Viola came into Carolyn’s room with two plates of eggs. Without saying a word, Viola dumped one of the plates into Squerbils bucket. Squerbils cooed and loudly ate while Viola read some sonnets. Viola never said anything about Carolyn’s new pet. Neither did Mommy when she started helping to feed Squerbils.

Soon the whole family was helping to feed him. Then a few neighbors started chipping in. Squerbils just kept getting bigger and bigger. Carolyn didn’t know what to think. She wouldn’t be able to fit in her room with him much longer.

“SQUIRBLES!” bellowed Squerbils, and the whole house shook.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

the late mayor: part 3 of 3

S’grktlak stared intently at the disgusting sack of flesh before him. Absorbing every detail before taking the memories was important. Otherwise S’grktlak would project the Mayor’s self-image rather than what the pitiful human actually looked like.

Gurgling pensively the alien creature struck a stiff and artificial pose. S’grktlak took one last look into the mayor’s ornate Jacobean mirror. He filed away all the usual reference points in the distant parts of his forebrain. It would be a shame for him to forget his broad rounded chin, the elegant sharpness of his pointed skull, or the roguish droop of his head fin.

S’grktlak sat down on the floor and placed the human’s head in his boney lap. A few minutes of concentration were all it took to redistribute his handsome fat reservoirs away from his feet and forearms. S’grktlak now had the rough shape of the human he was to supplant.

Mayor Wilkins stirred slightly. S’grktlak would have to hurry. The alien raised the back of the human’s head into his sickeningly open mouth. Carefully the alien bit down with too many broad pointed teeth and allowed his viscous saliva to penetrate the wounds.

Wilkins’ pate came away easily. S’grktlak’s long strong tongue found the brainstem, and the rest of the feeding commenced without issue.

S’grktlak moved a plum and mustard Persian rug to cover the burnt spots on the floor. Nothing more was left of the human.

“Dear what is that smell?” asked Mrs. Wilkins coming from the other room.

S’grktlak gurgled his reply, “Oh, nothing, I dropped a box of matches, darling. One must have lit.”

But, thought is faster than hearing, and Mrs. Wilkins thought it her husband’s voice. Rather, S’grktlak thought that for her. She saw nothing amiss as she strode into the room.

The next several days were just as easy.

S’grktlak secretly planted stores of food and gold in the homes of every other community leader, every potential rival. After the blast his accusations of complicity in the otherworldly attack worked perfectly. Within two days the town was completely in his control. All the betrayers had been hung. Soon more and more of his kind would trickle into town, pitiful survivors and refugees. The same story was repeating itself all across the globe. Within a year the planet would be theirs.


The nighttime knock on the Wilkins’ backdoor came as a bit of surprise. S’grktlak, home alone, answered it mildly annoyed.

A rough-looking tanned fellow in a dingy plaid shirt stood framed in the lantern light. The guard assigned to the door snored somewhere nearby.

“Howdy,” said Rutherford dryly as he drove his steel-toe into the Mayor’s hip.

The flesh felt rubbery but far too firm beneath his boot. Spinning backwards, the creature collapsed onto the floor with a high pitched gurgling hiss.

“Boy, you sound like a phlegmatic tea kettle,” quipped Rutherford with a grin.

Just as the human leaned back to deliver another kick, the alien screamed once more. S’grktlak sent with it a wave of psychic pain. Several lifetimes’ worth of inhuman misery crashed over the man.
Rutherford was reeling forward. The gape-jawed alien quickly slithered beside. S’grktlak would have to make this quick. The alien was quite surprised when Rutherford stuck him with a big damn knife.

“Now that’s a neat trick, but you see I joined this here club. Got some interesting perks.”

A twisted silver talisman hung from the human’s neck. 

No matter, thought S’grktlak. “HELP!” gurgled the alien. The whole town heard their beloved Mayor scream in abject terror.

In a sudden rush, the alien spread his claws and lurched towards Rutherford. S’grktlak stopped short with a taught wire wrapped against his neck.

“Gentlemen, let us take this outside,” suggested Sandra Ellen.

It wasn’t long before a large crowd had gathered around the three of them out in front of the Mayor’s well lit back porch. Sandra held the doppelganger with a garrote while Rutherford kept a gun to the creature’s head. The angry crowd had many more guns.

“I reckon it’s about time, ma’am,” decided Rutherford.

Sandra Ellen agreed. Her eyes rolled back into her skull as she hissed out two strange sibilant words. S’grktlak’s illusion shattered. The crowd recoiled in horror. Some moments later, a shot rang out in the night.

Friday, December 5, 2014

lady of secrets: part 2 of 3

The stone floor sent its chill into her knees. Even through petticoats and a heavy broadcloth dress, the chill brought Sandra Ellen Wainscot to distraction. Why were the all abodes of the Owl Faced Serpent so unerringly chilly, she wondered? Why even when she’d been in that windowless tin shack in the middle of a July desert, it had been uncomfortably cool. Why was that? She’d have to ask Sister Priestess Olivia when the opportunity arose.

It took many minutes before Sandra could push distraction from her mind. She recited the ancient formulae aloud, while marking the sliding equations in her mind’s eye and tracing the counter-fractals with her fingers. Eventually the room expanded into infinite space and perfect darkness. Her continued existence punctuated only by the reverberating cumulative echo of her heartbeat.

Then did the libram open wide for her. Drank she deep of its infinite secrets.

By the time it was finished, Sandra was feeling rather peckish. She rose slowly on stiff joints and brushed the dust from her clothes.

The small idol sat on a roughhewn stone before her. Shorn from a single block of bone white wood, a swirling and twisted mass formed the body of the serpent topped with an intricately carven owl’s head. It seemed both separate and whole, ethereal yet firmly present, ungainly but beautiful. She gave it one last long glance before heading up the basement stairs and into the shaded alleyway.

Absently she tucked her twisted silver talisman, a flattened reimagining of the idol itself, behind her dress. No symbols of the Owl Faced Serpent were ever to be touched by daylight.

A filthy, hatless fellow stood staring at her in the street. She quickly sized him up. He was heavily armed and walked with a certain sort of wary confidence. Sandra knew the type. She would have to check at the jewelers later. He may have wrenched something useful out of the wilderness.

It was then directly behind the weathered vagrant that Sandra saw the mayor. She scowled.

The mayor had changed in the past few days. He kept smiling viciously in mirrors when he thought no one was looking. He had begun to smell of the ocean.

Mayor Wilkins suddenly knelt. He covered his face with an audacious new stovepipe hat and tensed.

Moments later a violent white light exploded into existence. Sandra Ellen Wainscot, Journeying Priestess of the Unforgotten Lost One, knew nothing for some time.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

unwashed vagrant: part 1 of 3

The sun stretched high in the sky. An unwashed man in what once had been a bright plaid shirt stood at the edge of town, smoothing his greasy brown locks. He’d been two weeks in the cragged wild. He’d been the only survivor.

Gingerly he touched his swollen lip and the crusted wound above his eye. He moistened a dirty red bandana and tried to scrub the worst of it off his face, tried.

As he started forward again, Rutherford could feel the reassuring presence of his many weapons. The old navy six-shooter, his “hand-cannon”, hung heavy on his hip. The sharp steel tips of his hard-worn boots clicked against every loose stone. The solid slap of a bowie knife on the back of his right thigh kept tilted time with his slight limp.

Most of all he felt the sack of gems in the hollow where his big toe used to be. The constant pressure on the nub served as repeating reminder that this time had been worth it. Well, more worth it than most times.

The rock strewn street was mostly empty as Rutherford limped his way into town. The glint of silver drew his eye to an odd necklace being tucked behind the modest neckline of severe black dress. The rich blonde gave him a curious glance. There was something strangely familiar about that talisman; Rutherford was still trying to piece it together when the glance turned glare. Most townsfolk didn’t care for his type he knew, and maybe he was staring too long anyway. Another dark look made little difference to him.

A white light exploded behind him! A light so severe it shone through his skull.

It took a long time for the world to make sense again. When he came to, Rutherford was looking back East. A wall of hateful fire burned far in the distance, somewhere out near the Capitol. He could hardly comprehend what was happening when the first shockwave hit.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

the valley

Each step became successively more difficult. The air was thin but far too warm. The brown-red rock of the barren mountainside loomed upwards before him. Scranson paused in his ascent. Catching his breath, hard eyes traced the trackless and nearly sheer rock face before him.

He clambered ahead, often stooping forward. Every misstep and loose stone tore more flesh from his hands and knees. The mountain continued unrelenting, nothing but hard sharp angles.

He’d already climbed a mountain of scholarly books, forgotten folios, and yellowed journals. He had sat through hundreds of self-important lectures from shamans and learned men and traveling mystics. All their variegated verbiage pointed to the same place. All the tales had the same beginning.

This was the place they’d all come from. The hot thin air of this lonely ridge marked the point of demarcation for all the races of man. Cranson had found it. He and he alone.

He could just spy the charcoal gray break of a bleak and unwelcoming sky ahead of him. Hard red stones leaned and leered in his periphery. He pressed breathlessly ahead.

Sweat poured into his eyes just as he crawled across the knife’s edge of a crest. With a furious shriek Cranson dashed the sweat and blood from his vision. He then sat down and wept.

The wide valley below was a nightmare of fire and bone. Great horrid serpents soared through the black gaping sky; even miles away Cranson could hear faint echoes of their hideous sibilant laughter. Mostly he heard screams. Voices screamed in fear. Some bellowed in rage. Far too many wailed in abject terror and loss.

He could also feel more plainly the pulsating tug pulling him back from this place. Some ancient force continued to close this living hell away from the world. He turned his back on that valley of bloody truth and slid sobbing downward.

Sometime near nightfall as he listlessly stumbled back towards civilization an image came unbidden to him. A woman, hard and sharp like the stones of the mountain, crossed the threshold out from the valley. She turned and offered her gnarled, strong hand to a man built of the same stone. He was marked by the same terrors. Together they helped many more cross into the green, wet world of living

Cranson smiled thinly. If the progenitors of men could cross through that dread valley, then perhaps there was yet still reason for hope.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

it always floats to the surface

It was like a popping grape, Crain decided. Like a thick skinned grape bursting between your teeth. Except this didn’t echo in his jawbone. He could sure feel it in his orbital bone though. That was strange. He’d be freaking the fuck out if it weren’t for the Doc’s good stuff.

Scalpels in your eye are disconcerting, yo. Even if they’re under the control of precision robots, that shit is seriously unnerving. Crain smiled.

Well Crain would’ve if his whole damned face wasn’t numbed. He’d waited years for this. He’d spent a fortune and danced a dangerous line for a long damn time. Here he was. It was really happening.

Crain looked at the orange light, then the blue, then the yellow. He did just as he was instructed.

Soon his bad eyes and shit complexion and sunken cheeks and weak limbs wouldn’t be a burden anymore. After he finished the eyes, the Doc’d turn that juice up. Crain was gonna wake up a better man.

The needle dropped its load. He felt the thing unfurl inside his eye. Weird.

As the gas kicked into high gear, he heard someone shouting. It might have concerned him more, but the Doc used the seriously good shit.

“Cease and Desist IMEDIATELY by order of the Parity Commission!”

“You don’t understand! I can’t end this mid procedure…”

Crain didn’t know anything for a while. He woke up in blinding pain. His face was covered in dry blood.

It took him a long time to see. His right eye zoomed in microscopically, every fucking time he tried to focus on anything. The left was myopically blurred and swollen nearly shut.

The place was trashed. The Doc was gone. The pigs had smashed or “confiscated” everything of value. All that shit’d soon float back to surface. It’d float right up to the streets.

They’d missed where Doc hid the money, though. Crain didn’t. He got his scratch back and a whole lot more. Crain stumbled around ‘til he found a smoke in the debris with some kick left in it. He sucked it dry.

With a big damned band-aid for an eyepatch, a thin and ungainly shadow shambled out into the dim and dusty street. It was time for a drink.

Monday, December 1, 2014


Ælfrede strode restlessly. Sharp cold air struck pinpricks against her feverish flesh. Her husband, Hrothsted, still lay where he fell on the frosted ground.

She stopped and glared at the twisted copse before them. She clenched her fist and choked back a bitter sob. Drawing shallow ragged breaths, she forced herself forward. The fever made her vision swim as she stopped short of the twisted sickly elm that marked the bleak boundary.

Her pain meant nothing. Somewhere in that devil-damned woods of jotnar and trolls and svartaelfs, Hrodric fought the cause of the plague. Goodly Hrodric suffered the same fever, the same draining ache. Beautiful Hrodric, his lips were always smiling. Golden Hrodric, with bright green eyes and long pale hair, he was her only son.

So she paced in the cold, while the village lay palsied near their hearths. She paced until she only could crawl. She held up her head until the cold ground took it.

A bloody boot crushed the grass before her face.

“It is finished, Mother.”

His voice sounded pained. Ælfrede reached forward to comfort him with all that she had left. She smiled as he took her hand.