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The Instrument of Self

There’s a time and place for a silly face,

There’s a solemn spot to frown,

Sit awhile with a smile,

For sadness, hang upside down.

Grin to win, but snooze and lose,

Still, don’t forget to smirk,

The trick is to lick your cares away,

The technique is half the work.

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2011 in Rhyming Poetry

 

The Unspeakable Thing

I never thought I’d return to this place alive. But perhaps that’s the way of all things coming full circle. As I am the last survivor, so I should come to die where I once left unscathed. I can still see the foundations of the buildings and the rusted hulks of construction equipment sticking up out of the black mud. I can still remember the screams and garbled voices from the television as the reporters kept trying to tell us that it was just an earthquake and to just duck and cower in our hallways and door frames. Of course, who could have guessed what sort of heinous creature we had awoken with our greed and desire for expansion?

The children disappeared first. At first, people thought that it was due to irresponsible parents leaving their young to run amok in the aftermath of the destruction, but soon, there wasn’t anyone under the age of 15 left in the city. Even though we hid in shelters and only came out at night, it still found us. It took our young, our old, and our guardians, and left us alone together. If that seems like a misnomer, you might begin to understand better if you only knew the darkness that so easily takes root in the heart of Man.

I grasp the sword and shield in my hands. I only wish that I had a rifle or a handgun, but even if I did, I probably couldn’t use them very well at all. My breasts are bruised and tired, especially with this hard metal armor attached to the front and back of me. I took it off the body of Mark, my childhood friend who has always had my back, as he lay bleeding out from a gash in his femoral artery. It was his last wish that I take his armor and use it up against the last opponent. As I am the last adversary, so is this one my last fight.

The so-called “Component” doesn’t seem all that magical in the light of day. In reality, it seems all too small as I start to remember what awaits me inside. An impossible being bellowing with the sound of dying stars and eternity was a faded memory in my subconscious, but I shivered with the memory of flailing alien arms and tentacles the size of houses and the unearthly noise that made the world seem to go gray with pain. In light of what I face, how can this small pebble sized item help at all? It felt far too much like Dumbo’s feather and me being the fool who believed that it would count up against the Unspeakable Thing.

I remember the cryptic words from the Sage of New Utah as he rolled his 10 sided dice and spoke of visions of the future in his glass eyes, and know that it is all too possible that I’ve been tricked or fooled by someone who has probably gone mad from the sheer destruction of all that we knew to be in our modern world. But still, I press on. All of our hard work would mean nothing if I stopped now, and bitterly in my heart of hearts, I’m ruing the fact that the others have died while I still live on. I look down at my hands and remember how they looked when I was forced to strangle Marie to death when she tried to tie me up and sell me to slavers in exchange for a jug of clean water, something that has been so rare since the Awakening.

I pushed against the debris in the area I had mapped out with instructions from the Sage on a small greasy Post-it. The rocks gave way and started rolling in, revealing a perfectly circular entrance. As I touched the inside, it felt cool and solid like marble, and as I looked closer, I realized that the entire area was made of melted bone. The top half of a skull stared at me with sightless eyes. The bones were small, and I knew what had happened to the children. Something, and I knew just what something it was, had gobbled them up like a nightmare beast from a fairytale and used their bones to redecorate.

I walked along, feeling my shoes tapping along disturbingly as I made my way deeper inside. And suddenly, a faint echo came from the yawning beyond, and I could hear the vibration drawing towards me like a giant wave of sound. Stupidly, I tripped on an outstretched skeletal hand, landing hard on my side and feeling pain shoot from my brain to my toes. My flashlight fell to the floor, the batteries spinning out of it and cloaking everything in an inky darkness that seemed beyond black. I groped along the floor trying to find it, and felt myself starting to slip, sliding in the darkness at breakneck speeds. I was thankful for the plate mail, as it worked a bit like a sled and I figured I’d be somewhat all right if I kept my head up and my feet down. Suddenly, something hit my leg, sending me spinning round, and at that point, I must have hit my head because when I came to, I was lying still in the dark with a shooting pain in the side of my head. The atmosphere had changed, though, and I felt that the walls were breathing. A musky heat that I had never smelled before filled the air and I heaved with the alien feeling, retching evilly onto the floor. As I wiped my face, I suddenly noticed a faint glow around me. I felt inside of my pocket and the glow lit up the inside of my plate mail like a Chinese Lantern. It was the Component. I held it out and it lit up the corridor, dancing off of the walls. As it glowed, I could feel it pulling against me like a living thing. I looked around me and noticed that the walls had turned to dirt, only the dirt was warm, firmly packed as though a thing of great size and temperature had bored through the Earth itself. I shuddered, drawing onward.

As I moved along, the light began to flicker a little, and I noticed that the evil stench was growing more repugnant at every turn. I wrapped my long hair around my mouth and nose, holding back the gag that was starting in my throat. I could see something ahead, a coil of dark tree roots…no…. they were legs. Legs and…impossibly, more legs stretching and curling with a slow torpor of a well-fed abomination.

I crept forward, holding the Component tightly between my fingers, dampening the light.

But the light would not be stilled. It started to sing. And the unearthly roar that followed couldn’t keep it from shining out above it all, in a brilliant crystal voice. The tentacled arms started to move ferociously, wildly swinging in anger…or was it…pain?

One of the smaller tentacles touched the light, and as I saw them clearer, I realized that there were thousands of eyes, horrible eyes filled with intelligence, baleful hate, and an infinity that stretched across universes. I could feel it inside my mind and I realized that my ears had started to bleed, the drops of blood hitting the ground in staccato. It bellowed again, reaching slowly towards me, and I realized that it had taken on a strange color. Where it had been dark and vile brown before, its body was slowly turning pale, washed out and freezing in solid winter white as the Component showered it with brilliant light and sound.

It pulled back as it felt itself being changed from horrible skin and meat and bone into pure white stone. The ripping of flesh and sinew and bone was so loud as it tried to pull away from the light and flee. But it had already been infected and the song grew louder as the Component moved out of my hands and floated after the fleeing creature. I stepped around frozen tentacles in menacing half-flail, and continued on, sword raised.

I passed larger and larger stone tentacles, with blood and flesh steaming with heat, ripped off at the ends. The creature was losing limbs and fast, but still the Component traveled onward. Within a few minutes, the winding tunnels opened up to a giant cavernous pit, the likes of which could only be imagined within the nightmares of the damned. The body of the monstrosity filled the cavern to the point where it almost could be considered cramped, and as the Component flew upwards to illuminate the walls, I could see thousands of tunneled holes leading in, mine being one near the floor of the expanse. The tentacles pulled in and moved together like one limb, attempting to crush or cover the Component’s glow, but still it glowed brighter, the light creating a winged flare emanating from four points out of the center. The wings became larger and cast long shadows over the hideous expanse of the beast, the likes of which could only be described in the most unspeakable language from the pits of Hell itself. The tentacles moved aside to reveal a giant spined expanse shaped like a battering ram that opened impossibly long into a gaping mouth with at least five rows of razor sharp twisted fangs. A huge and unblinking eye sat in the middle of the mouth, buffered on all sides with teeth that glinted evilly in the light, and I could finally understand the screams that had only echoed before:

“Gan-‘nash-vlad, gafu-ndis garaksao S’knar’d!” The creature tried in vain to speak out against the light.

The singing in my head felt like words, softly caressing me with a question…

Who speaks against the unspeakable? Who will drive in the light to the darkest evil’s night?

And at that moment, I knew what had to be done.

I raised my sword, calling to the Component,

“It is I, who speaks to conquer the unconquerable, and I do it now!”

The light answered my challenge and bathed my sword with incandescent white-hot fire. Markings of some sort wrote themselves up the tip of the blade through the hilt in hot magical scrawl. Many-segmented feathered wings of light grew out of the sides of the sword, covered in inscriptions as ancient as the creature I faced.

Screaming with all of my strength, I dove into the creature’s mouth, knowing that it would only take seconds for the teeth to close on my body, and I didn’t care. I only existed to shove the blinding heat of my sword into the creature’s eye and through its brain. I could feel my death coming, smelled my body ready for the pain it would bring me, and I pressed onward, pushing my body until I could feel the blood flowing freely from my eyes, ears, and nose. I could feel the creature screaming as I burrowed the sword into its eye and through its skull and knew that I had finally sealed its fate for good.

As I felt the teeth digging into my flesh, I could only smile and know it would all soon be over.

*

“Hey, wake up!”

The first thing I noticed was the absence of pain. And the second thing I noticed was the light. I was floating high above the world and I could see the stars twinkling with a brightness that I had never seen before. I blinked, shielding my eyes and saw the hands of my companions beckoning me to join them.

“Don’t worry about it. You did it and you did it right,” Mark ruffled my hair the way he always did, and kissed my cheek softly to let me know it’d be all ok.

“I’ve got a few people I’d like to introduce you to,” he said.

“But what…what about the creature?” I asked.

“You were able to seal Yoghshogl away, and that’s what matters. The world will now be safe for this eternity.”

I smiled, “I knew you wouldn’t leave me behind.”
He grinned in return, “After all, what are friends for?”

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2011 in Short Story

 

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Winterbloom

You’ve probably heard about me.

Well, probably not me per-se, but some of the things that I have accomplished.

Yeah, I know. The news pinned it all on Captain Heroic or whatnot. Well, who knows why? The most important part is that it was actually me all along.

This is the story of me, one Naomi Winterbloom, and how I became Fabulous.

I wasn’t always fabulous, you know.

Sure, you know my last name. It’s only attached to WinterCorp, one of the biggest names in medical and technological research and advances. But you wouldn’t know it to look at me. My mother and father are basically useless trust fund babies, living fat off the hog that is my grandfather’s pride and joy. Sure, I live in a big house-one that the people around these parts call “The Estate” (and yes, it is just as foreboding and dark inside as it looks on the outside) but it’s dark and empty in there. I remember when I was only 7 years old and I drew a picture of a giant shadowy building with one square yellow window.

“That’s where I am,” I told the teacher.

That’s pretty much what it’s like at home. My parents pay for the bare minimum to keep me in (very expensive) private school because it is What Is Expected Of The Rich. But they are rarely ever home. And to look at my room, you might mistake it for a maid’s quarters from the lack of pretty much anything beyond the basics. Yes, I am clean, have some basic clothing, and I get my own laptop too. But I still am expected to walk to school, and I only get to have 5 uniforms (one for each day of the week) and two “weekend outfits”. I am taken care of, and I am presentable. I am the face of the average, of the “good enough” life, and I know I should not complain about the roof over my head and the bed I sleep in and the people who come and silently keep the house in pristine condition and magically deposit my clean clothes and meals at my door.

But there is only one big, aching, heart-wrenching problem with my life.

My parents prefer to spend their money and their time on themselves.

know you probably don’t want to hear about it, but I have a stupid ridiculous fantasy. There’s this flyer I found on the ground while I was walking to school when I was in 6th grade. It shows a happy family at a nearby amusement park smiling and eating ice cream while the mom is about to wipe a dribble off the kid’s cheek and the dad is grabbing at the camera so he can take a picture. Everyone is so happy in that photo, so much so that I could practically feel it like a heat that I have never experienced in my life. I know it’s silly to want something that cliché, but the truth of the matter is that I would pretty much settle for my mother to give me a hug, or my father to look at me the way he looks at his Ferrari collection; someone to enjoy time with-someone who is wanted and not simply tolerated or obligated to.

For all the starving children in the world, I would give up my food for the soul sustenance of love.

I have a map on my wall. It’s a map of the world that I got out of a National Geographic magazine I picked up at the thrift store. I have two little flags that I made out of push-pins-one for Mom, and one for Dad. Whenever they tell me where they are going, I always put the push-pin in the place on the map so I always know where they are. It somehow keeps them close in a way that they never are in person. Even when they’re right next to me, they’re still a million miles away.

They never send postcards.

But let’s not stay fixated on sad things.

My grandmother was the only light in my life. When she came to live with me, the world surged full with color and sunshine. It’s like remembering a cartoon world when I think back on those years as a young child. Somehow everything distorts and the color is unreal, bright.

She had an interesting accent, one that I always said made it sound like her language was wandering. Sometimes, she sounded kind of Slavic, but there was a hint of French and Italian in the way that the words moved in her mouth as she built sentences and they erupted from her lips almost song-like.

She was the only one who knew me. My grandmother was special. She knew that I was too. My parents dismissed me as an obligation and a nuisance, but from the moment that my grandmother first held me, she knew that I was the one she had been waiting for.

You see, I can speak in a very different sort of way. With my mind, that is.

It’s not something that you immediately get good at. My grandmother grilled me every day, teaching me how to get into someone’s thoughts, how to read other people, how to project myself. Obviously, she was much more skilled than I was, but then again, she was very impressed with how quick of a learner I was. I could read people very well, feel their emotions as they felt them and manipulate them at will. No one knows that I am actually quite socially awkward, because I simply nudge them in the right direction.

It’s not like I can plant thoughts or make people do things they don’t really want to do. In all accounts, I probably have as much control over others as the average stage magician-I only help people do what they already want to do in their hearts without inhibitions. People taste differently in their minds. It’s much easier to understand someone once you’ve caught the flavor of a person’s psyche.

Of course, that was before the accident.

That’s when the color died again.

I remember the house, dark like a shadow-looming over me. I was only 6 years old, but I walked home myself that day because Grandmother was not there to meet me at the schoolyard gate.

I went from door to door-it seemed endless, calling out for her with my small voice. I used my mind to push as far as I could outward, searching for the cinnamon and apple scent that I knew so well.

There was nothing.

I cried and cried, my voice swallowed by the sheer enormity of the darkness. It wasn’t until late that night, I heard a soft knock on my door. It was Grandfather. He never visited. He lived with his work. My heart felt full of water and blood. I knew what he was going to say before he said it-the bitterness and pain washed over me like a wave of vinegar.

“There has been an accident.” he told me, gravely and without emotion, “Your grandmother is not going to be able to see you anymore.”

He turned away.

My heart stopped beating for just a second, as I held my breath, hoping the moment was not real.

He turned back.

“She would want you to have this.”

He drew his claw-like fingers, gnarled with arthritis, into his coat and pulled out something shining on a silvery chain.

It was a pendant with a jet black stone, covered in a silver cage of thorns. In the middle of the stone, I could make out a white shape, but it seemed to continue changing in the dim light of my bedroom lamp.

He held out his arm as though he wanted to keep his distance from me. I grabbed the dangling pendant, clutching it to my chest, the tears already coming back to my eyes.

“We will bring servants to help with your school and home needs. You do not need to worry.” His voice was toneless, and in the memory, his face is in shadow-I can’t see his eyes.

I stared at the stone, tasting a hint of the cinnamon and apple taste on my tongue, the sorrow pouring out of me in waves. My grandfather struggled to keep his composure. I know it was my fault and did not care.

There were reports of the entire city block having spent an entire night in tears for no apparent reason.

But I know that reason was me.

Skip forward a bit to my 16th year of life.

I spend a lot of time by myself. I’m so used to it by now, but I’m never really lonely. At least, that’s what I told myself each day like a mantra.

I never take off my grandmother’s pendant. It’s the only thing that makes me feel like I’m still alive inside. The cool weight of it next to my skin helps me to feel some kind of connection, even if that connection is old and far away in the ether somewhere. I don’t kid myself about the afterlife. As far as I know, there isn’t one, but in some way, that’s good. I don’t want to worry about going to the Other Place, you know, the one where you burn forever.

So, it’s the summer, a week before school starts, and I am off doing some nature hiking in the hills above the city. There are all these old lime kilns and other abandoned buildings hiding between the trees, mostly eaten by nature, but I often find various things to photograph such as various wildlife or the striking beauty of nature slowly devouring the manmade.

I remember stepping down into this one deep lime kiln, because I saw a flash of something that looked like it was glittering in the dark. It looked like the earth had bunched up, turning the kiln on its side, so it was more like a cave than anything. As I went further in, I realized that someone had knocked in the bottom of the kiln and dug a fairly well-supported tunnel through it. The shine turned out to be an old oil lamp hung up on a hook near the far left of the entrance. I carry a flashlight when I photograph for lighting purposes, so I followed the corridor quietly, knowing full well that I could be walking into danger. But then again, danger is really the only thing that makes me feel truly alive-the heat of blood pumping quickly through my veins and the rising beat of my heart always makes me smile through the fear.

But that’s when I heard it. A wet sucking sound, like someone walking in wet galoshes. Something was coming towards me, but I couldn’t see a thing. The darkness overtook everything in the tunnel, and I realized that the walls were moving like midnight jelly.

I could feel waves of fear that weren’t coming from me. Run! Something told me. Hide!

An inky tendril extended from the ceiling. It sees us. A white circle extended from the tendril.

Oh god. It was looking at me.

I turned, trying to run, but the goo encircled my feet like thick mud. It snaked up my ankles and over my thighs, pulling me down into it, suffocating me. Long tendrils were encircling my stomach, my breasts, my arms, licking at me stickily. And then I felt the tendrils going up my nose and down my throat and I couldn’t see anything anymore.

STOP! I screamed with everything my mind had in it. You must let me….let me live…..

I felt the puzzlement of the creature, whatever it was, just before I blacked out.

When I came to, it was dark and cold. I was laying on the ground, feeling the dirt crumbled around me I felt around for my flashlight, and when I turned it on, the tunnel was as it had been before-earthen with support beams placed strategically around by whomever had made the tunnel so that it wouldn’t cave in.

“What the hell.” I said to myself, wondering if I had just been hallucinating or if there was possibly a gas leak somewhere. But then I noticed that my clothes were ripped to the point that I was practically naked. “Oh shit.”

I panicked, wildly waving the flashlight everywhere, but there was nothing to be seen.

“Crap, now I need new clothes to replace these old torn ones.”

And suddenly, I was wearing a black skirt and red blouse, just like one I had been eying in a store window the day before.

And at that moment, I knew where the creature was.

It was in me.

But that wasn’t quite right. I held out my arm thoughtfully and then threw my flashlight as hard as I could with the other. A tendril shot out, grabbing it and yo-yoed it back to me.

I realized-I did that.

I’ll be damned if the goo creature hadn’t bonded with me. Our thoughts were like one-but it seemed a touch more id-y than anything else. Feelings like hunger, anger, fear, flooded into me, heightened by my own mood.

I made my way back out of the lime kiln and into the sunlight. The sun was much lower in the sky than it had been before. I had been unconscious for at least 6 hours, and all I knew was that I was hungry as hell.

I headed back into town, following my rumbling stomach.

But I didn’t care.

I wasn’t alone anymore.

I have named my creature Ecthel. Why? Because that’s kind of how it feels in my head, and it’s the easiest, closest translation to human language. Plus, I like calling it Ecky.

I never had a pet, especially not one with a pet name, and ESPECAIALLY not one that is basically now an extension of my body. What Ecky feels, I feel. What I eat, nourishes Ecky too.

And when I cover my face and fight evil, Ecky fights with me, as part of me.

I am never alone.

And I am stronger for it.

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2011 in Short Story

 

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Welcome to Story Please

I’ve been kicking around the idea of this blog for awhile.  I know that it is possible that no one will read what I have to write, or indeed even enjoy it if they do happen to come across it in the cyberwasteland that is this Internet.  However, I do want to do this-not for the hypothetical You in the Ether, but for me, as a way of scratching out a place that screams “I exist, and the worlds that I have created need a place to exist as well!”

I expect to be publishing the folowing:

1) Poetry

2) Original Stories (short and meandering)

3) Stories Inspired by Something Else

4) Stories and/or poems suggested by commentators and friends

5) Maintenance posts (such as this one)

*************************************************************************************************

The following guidelines apply here:

1) Please be respectful, or you will be deleted/blocked

2) If you like something, I would love to hear from you but if you don’t, please leave constructive criticism instead of insults.

3) I will reserve to add other guidelines as necessary.

Thank you for reading, and I hope to see you next time.

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2011 in Introduction

 

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