Hey there Mr. Cthulhu in one comic strip

In between Dorley chapters, I sometimes draw Jackson and his thoughts in short comic strips, and it’s great fun, partially because I can’t really draw, but hold high hopes during the drawing process and mostly because I love comics and well, it feels good after its done.

I did one sometime ago, which you can check here: The Dorley Cycle: Homecoming & now I did another one and will be doing one more in the upcoming days.

Hope you enjoy this new small comic strip from The Dorley Cycle!

 

Dorleycomic2

A Christmas Horrortale

Daddy Longlegs was a shy and ancient creature. He lived under the stairs of the Flincher’s. Each day he scolded back into the shadows when he heard the children hopping down the stairs. Hop- hop- hop they went and laughed all the way. But the stairs were old, as the house was old, and Daddy Longlegs feared the wood might split and the children fall.  He was, you should know, a giant of his kind, older than the world perhaps, bred and fed in the moist of corners dark. His legs were long and thin, and he knit the corners of his web with them; his eyes were shiny black dots in the dark and he watched the insides of the house with six of them.  He wasn’t vicious, not at all; he grew fond of those who didn’t even know he kept in hiding under the stairs in their home.

So Daddy Longlegs decided what was best; he propped the stairs with his body and slept, assured the children would be safe.

One night a scratch inside the walls awoke Daddy Longlegs. Scratch-scratch-scratch. He felt the air with the tiny hairs on his round body and knew winter had come.  He looked from the gap in one of the ledges and saw lights, bright and many running up and down a tree…what kind of tree was that? Daddy Longlegs had forgotten that with winter came Christmas! But there they were again, the scratches; something fast and something large it was. Daddy Longlegs pulled away a wonky ledge and squeezed outside the hole; tip-toeing he came into the house. He crawled silently, his eyes rolling left to right.

The children were asleep in their rooms; the parents were asleep in their room. What was making that sound?

So down he went into the living room, where the lights of Christmas shone upon a figure, knelt before the tree.

“Oh no!”, he thought, “Someone is stealing Christmas away from the children!” and off he rushed, angered and enormous.

The figure turned in panic when a shadow crept upon him. His scream froze in his throat, for he had come from a land where there were no nightmares, and he did not know what to do when facing one. Thus, he ran, straight for the chimney. But Daddy Longlegs was faster. Swiftly he swung one of his eight legs and pinched the cloth of the running man, dragging him back across the floor. The man carried a huge bag and with it he swung. He hit Daddy Longlegs and he rolled until he smashed against the wall. Then the man took a dip into his pocket and filled his hand with sparkling dust. He blew it into the fallen creature and in the artificial storm created he tried to disappear again. Daddy Longlegs stood furious, and saw his leg was damaged; it had been squashed there in the middle. He saw the man half up into the chimney and jumped on the ceiling. From there he spat a thick layer of web that caught the man just by the leg.

Descending in a spiral way he pulled the man inside again and laid him off beside the tree, his mouth muffled and his pinched to the floor. He didn’t know this intruder, and nothing in him seemed right. He was fat and old, yet he moved fast as a child would; his cloths were bright, yet he came and went through chimneys. Daddy Longlegs didn’t like this man at all. He was a…burglar. Fat and naughty.

He sat upon him with all his mighty weight and began knitting his web around the body. He knit and he knit until the man had become a cocoon. Then he carried him inside the stairs and crawled low into the basement where and glued the man in a corner, where no one would hear him, ever. Then he left.

Daddy Longlegs was pleased. He had saved Christmas he thought, and the children too. So he propped the stairs and slept again, hidden in the dark and lonesome observatory of his.

The Pendulum and the Mosquito

The Pendulum swung, slashing the air as it picked up speed. The mechanical shrill scream of old and taut parts coming back to life filled the vast temple and the rusty monster soon roared with full power.

Standing in safe distance the Mechanic slid his finger down the glowing screen, going through the list of task performed and tasks about to initiate. He tapped on each running task, making sure the procedure was performed as planned. He smiled behind his mask at the excellent results reading on his screen.

On both corners of the chamber under the fluorescent light the Mechanic had installed prior, two crystals glistened; one ruby, one emerald. They were both grand, an impressive size, artificially grown. The Mechanic traced their crystalized roots descending all the way town to the floor of the chamber and digging into the foundations. But what mattered to him were the cocoon crystals that embraced the vessels carrying the virus and the antidote.

He checked the time. According to his statistics for the Pendulum to interact with the crystal fully and begin piercing through the thick material the estimated time was 16 hours. The Mechanic nodded. It was a hard task to crack the alien armor that had formed around the core, and the Pendulum would only suffice to penetrate inches inside and weaken the core. After that it was time for the Mosquito to play its part.
After 10 hours the first glistening ruby pieces started falling off. The Mechanic smiled once more.

Outside a snow storm was in its culmination, mad and swooshing, a white freezing fog that hid the peaks of the Himalayas. It was a ghost storm, a phantom wind that pierced through leather and skin and bones.

The mage was meditating in the midst of the happening, his palms upon his legs, opened upwards, two small balls of nature’s fury forming in each.

The mercenary’s were sitting in the throat of the cave serving as entrance to the temple inside the mountain.

“We’ve got company.”

Inside the howling storm, aside from the voices, another sound was making itself persistent, drawing nearer, sounding louder. It disappeared only to be replaced by an even louder one.

An aircraft swam out of the cloak of the snow, firing rounds from two Berezin B-20′s attached to it.

The mercenary’s scattered, picking on the run their weapons and firing back. One of the machine guns bursted into flames.

The mage was on his feet, charged with ice spells. He casted a rain of frozen spears which punctured the airplane top to bottom and it lost control, smashing into the surface of the mountain.

Two new crafts of the same model appeared from left and right. The mage built a resistance wall, giving time for the mercenary’s to load the RPG. His spell shattered just as the missile was fired. The airplane saw it and dodged it. Four of the mercenary’s were shot in the moment of distraction. The second airplane moved away, whilst the first one was spitting rounds at the walls of ice the mage was continuing to cast. Seconds later a squad of dark clothed soldiers with goggles and shotguns was dispatched at the narrow terrace. The mage was taken down and the remaining five mercenary’s took three more lives before getting thrown off.

The first group of soldiers was followed by a second, and the two squads entered the cave.

The Mechanic was witnessing the almost complete process of core removal. The shards were nearly destroyed, and now that the Mosquito was piercing through the created gap, neatly puncturing the surface, the vessel carrying the virus was pealing off even more. Soon the tip of the Mosquito would be able to poke and extract.

There was a series of thumps echoing throughout the temple walls.

The Mechanic turned at the sudden noise.

Soldiers were aligning at the top of the stairs, their rifles and shotguns pointed at him. Between the heavy-armed lines an admiral walked. His face was pink from the biting cold and his hair was sandy blond.  His voice carried an accent when he spoke.

“I’ve dreamed about this discovery ever since I can remember. I’ve read so much about the crash, about the myth that a ship carried two artifacts, one of sin and one of purity, but they were a myth, always a myth, though I believed with my entire being. My scholar said they couldn’t be created, because no human being had ever created perfection. But this is the perfection of life and the perfection of death. It is the most dangerous weapon known. I wanted to own that kind of power. It would cleanse me too, no? Knowing I could do so much good. Help people. Kill people. The ultimate antidote! The ultimate plague! Imagine the wonders!”

The admiral walked down the crumbling steps of the temple. He stopped when he was next to The Mechanic, staring at the Mosquito working on both the crystals.

“I could have never gotten here without your help and your brilliance. Your devices are magnificent.”

The Mechanic cocked his head to one side, the black orbits on his gas mask reflecting the glow of the crystals.

The admiral gave him a smirk and a funny look came to his glassy blue eyes.

The Mechanic knew that look. It meant he had just a second or less. It was his goodbye moment, the frame he would to death, a neo communist’s smirking pink face.

In his pocket he kept the small tablet, the navigation program still working. He gently slid his finger upwards, maximizing the speed of the Mosquito. The machine freaked out instantly and charged at the crystal, breaking the needle, setting the arm on fire as it pulled out and swung sideways, smashing into the other arm still working on the antidote crystal.

“What are you doing you bloody fool!”

The crystal shattered, crimson red liquid dripping from the sharp edge, evaporating when meeting the still air in the temple. The virus dispersed everywhere, silent and invisible.

The Mosquito hit the ceiling of the temple, bringing down chunks of rock and the remains of the core. The whole place began to collapse like in a dream, simultaneously, slowed in time, slowed in realisation. The soldiers opened fire on The Mechanic, but their shots were dodgy and missed him. The Mechanic used the opportunity to kick down the admiral and make a run for it. The air was becoming horrid, Pandora’s box opened, skin decomposing, blood spitting, choking.

The Mechanic ran.

The temple collapsed without warning, shutting itself inside the belly of the Himalaya, blockading the discovery of the centuries.

One body sat on the snowy terrace, breathing fresh air through the mask. His inventions were destroyed, his life’s work and research gone. But on the tablet in his pocket, a formula was writing itself, and it was one element away from becoming dangerous.

“Previously on…” – The problem with gaps

 There are times when a 1000 words story expands beyond the set limits of the flash format. Exceeding with a number of words is one thing ( I hear the flash set’s its boundaries somewhere around 1500, correct me if wrong), but when the story, in the process of writing, starts feeling like it needs more space, more time, more development, it grows into a serial.

I find serials tricky. At first they seem like a great idea, allowing the writer to set a future point, to add more and cut less, and when the installments come once a week there is plenty of time to build the next chapter. There is certain flexibility and new ideas are generated as the process of creating the universe of the story deepens.

I have personally felt much freedom in several cases. I had stories which I couldn’t tell in 1000 words and arranged the initial idea into one, two, three or more parts. The ways into which one flash story may develop, as a serial, are multiple. And because of that I believe them to be tricky and often fall in gaps that sometimes last longer than intended.

John Wiswell pointed himself and his ongoing serial “The Only Thing Worse is the Cure” as examples for such gaps. Maybe based on a few comments, but I still think the gaps between the installments are minor and don’t have effect when it comes to following the story. Perhaps the change in narrators and perspectives did that, but John would know better than me.

Whereas I on the other hand…well I have created gaps as vast as canyons between one part of an ongoing serial and the next. It ends up being paused rather than ongoing. I am going to use myself and my writings as examples.

I battled “Nightshift” a six part serial reasonably fast, with just one small gap. But two other serials I have abandoned at present time. I left creepy, ghostly “Sunflowers” hanging in the dark and am not sure if I am ever getting back to it, at least not soon. I left “Monsters” with only two chapters in order to transform it into a graphic novel which someday will meet light in 2 beautiful volumes.  But there is one which I was super excited about, still am, but I don’t write it.

First to say, I think the problem with the gaps to originate from the fact that some stories are not initially intended to be serials. I trust my gaps to come exactly from that.  The bigger the pause is the less the readers remember. And who would go back to read per se 10 chapters and try to remember what the heck was going on in this story?

I did a little experiment in my political sci-fi thriller (which still doesn’t have a proper name) and wrote some details to hint the upcoming events, and details which led to the first installment. I don’t think they hinted anything. I’ll allow myself to use this serial as the main example because I am working on it (in my head mostly) and thus I count it as an ongoing thing.

Here’s how I picture my failure: I have it planned ahead, but that would require time, something which I don’t always have on my side and sometimes feel the pressure of. Having a clear idea as to what will become of it in future terms I would want to write it down, but take time (extending it even more) to do that properly. That means I won’t be posting every week. Slowing down the tempo means I lose the readers, because they lose the original concept. Thus the gaps swallow all and at times I don’t see how and when this serial will be over and complete.

Now that I’m thinking, what’s the point in blogging a story piece by piece in this bizarre manner, I consider, why not pack it up in a small novelette and then offer the complete “product”? It would be easier, it will relax my anxiety of not meeting each week’s deadline, and it won’t trouble the readers of going back through posts and trying to make sense of what’s been happening and what’s to happen.

Could be the smart thing to do with a longer piece. It has its downsides, but the outcome might be more pleasing.

One thing is sure, gaps are mean and sometimes they stay for more than awhile. How to tackle them?

What do you think?

With an iron fist

With an iron fist

“It’s perfectly safe you know.”

I looked at my sister, trying to remember what the conversation was about. We were having lunch at a corner diner, the same one we had made a habit of visiting for six years now. Perhaps the only family tradition we kept, and were somehow fond of. Lisa always had a chicken cordon bleu, and I, a turkey pest ciabatta sandwich. The food tasted good, but the coffee was too bleak for my taste. I still drank it, taking it in small sips. I didn’t want to rebel against what we’ve build and adopted as a happy time.

Lisa slipped two spoons of sugar in her steaming cup.

“Shaun? Are you even listening to me?”

I smiled.

“Yeah, yeah.”

“So what do you think, cool or not?”

Ah, water skiing with her friends next month, that’s right.

“I think cool. I trust you’ll take care of yourself.”

She raised an eyebrow and sat back.

“What like no witty retort from you? You feeling okay big bro?”

“I’m fine. And yes no witty retort this time. Water skiing seems fun and you look like you need some. I’m happy you’re still consulting with me.”

She looked outside the window and fell silent for a few.

“After mom and dad I feel like I can’t let completely let go. I want to live and be brave and have fun, but sometimes this idea nests in my head, that I might die and leave you alone, or that you might die while I’m away and I’ll get that phone call…”

I reached my hand over the table and covered her gentle wrist, caressing, soothing, reassuring.

“I’m not going anywhere. You are not going anywhere. We stick together, take care of each other. But we also gotta live Lizzy. We’re not dead. You needn’t worry.”

She smirked and pulled her hand off mine, uncomfortably grabbing the cup of coffee instead.

I joined her silence and we ate, the diner becoming audible with its clacking of dishes and lively lunch chit-chat.

My eyes caught a fast-moving shadow outside. I lifted my gaze and traced the figure of a hooded man rushing outside our window. It happened in a split second. He neared a young woman and grabbed her purse, viciously pulling it away from her hands. He turned to run, but she was too fast, she was prepared and tripped him over. He fell flat on his face. The customers jumped on their feet watching the scenario unfolding. So did I and Lisa.

The young woman knelt, took her purse and slowly pulled out a Glock. We watched as she fired three rounds in the thief’s head. She hid her gun back in the purse, zipped it and continued on her way. I had never seen such a steel gaze as hers.

People in the diner screamed then covered their mouths, shaking heads in disbelief, and outside people gathered over the body, watching hypnotized as the pool of blood spreads.

Lisa looked at me searching for the reassurance I gave her just before. How was I supposed to say the truth when the world becomes like this? How was I to promise her nothing will happen, no one will get hurt and bleed…Maybe it was time I go out on the streets again. Maybe the days of my hiding were over. An example was needed, an image to speak of safety and hope. For the ordinary people who had taken the fight in their hands and dug their nails in dirt, and for Lisa who needed to believe that she can live.

The Jaxinail

Spooky Halloween in advance everyone! This is my little (awfully late) offering and attempt to scare you!

When the wind chimes ring for no reason and a little girl believes too much…

 

The Jaxinail

“You frightened her.”

Patty’s eyes wetted and she hugged her brown teddy bear tight, keeping it close to her chest.

“Oh, it’s just a story! It’s not like real you know.” Hana made a face, then turned on the lights in the living room and dowsed the candle’s flame with her fingers.

James offered his hand and Patty grabbed it, locking her little fingers into his. He looked at her, big hazel eyes staring back at him with droplets of tears barely hanging on the corners. He caressed her curly auburn hair and smiled, reassuring her safety.

“It’s all okay Patty. There isn’t anything to be afraid of.”

Perhaps for a second or two Patty hesitated, as any child would. The scary story that Hana had just told was still powerful and quite real inside her head, and the vision of the Jaxinail and his horrific transformations, was fresh and vivid, as only a child could keep it and continue, in her own manner, to illustrate the described happening after meeting the monster. Because it would, as Hana had said, come for no reason really, as monsters rarely have one, other than hunger and joy from the sound of clacking bones, but it would surely come when all the lights go off and all the people are asleep, and it will devour the tiny body of the sleeping child, slowly swalloing  it while no one hears or sees it, since the monster is usually invisible to everyone else, but the victim.

Patty pulled James’s hand.

“But, what if the Jaxinail comes after you go to sleep? And what if he…eats me? I don’t want to be eaten James!” Her mouth trembled and she sobbed, squeezing his hand again. There was genuine fear in her voice and a begging sparkle in her eyes for James to not send her to bed, at least not alone. He turned his gaze to Hana and frowned. She murmured a “sorry” and turned the TV on. He had agreed for them to tell stories while their parents are away, but was not expecting this new character to appear, none the less have such effect on his little sister. The old fright- to- behave stories were okay with Patty and she even laughed at them, but the Jaxinail, whoever that was, had crawled under her skin taking her captive in his false horror world. He couldn’t believe Hana had come up with such a disgusting story.

“Tell you what. I’ll stay by your bed all night long and make sure no Jaxi fellow comes.”

“You promise?”

“On my pride as a brother! I am your faithful protector little princess! You know nothing takes me by surprise and nothing scares me right?”

Patty smiled.

Hand in hand James and Patty walked across the hall and up the stairs.

The door to Patty’s room swung open and James clicked the light switch. He tucked in the blanket and placed Mr. Bear in Patty’s hands. Then he pulled a wooden chest full of toys and sat on it.

“Go to sleep. I’m right here.”

Before closing her eyes Patty spotted something different in her room. It was in the blink of an eye, but when she heard the whistle of the wind, Patty fixated her terrified eyes on the window. There was no wind outside and the night was quiet.

Patty searched for the eerie noise again. Oddly it seemed to come from her painting, hung on the opposite wall.

There was light, maybe the moon or a street lamp, reflecting in the glass surface of the frame. Patty saw beyond her crayons.

It was windy in there, leaves rushing in the air in a mad spin, the branches of the big tree croaking with age and snapping like whips in the starless night. A shadow appeared in the distance and it came closer, then closer and closer, but it was many shadows now, many shapes all put into one. A hand, or was it a hand? reached and knocked on the inside of the painting. Thump, thump, thump the sound went.

Patty cried, her fear escalating quickly.

“What’s the matter Patty?” James was on his feet.

“He’s here! The Jaxinail is here!” She hid under the blanket.

“Nonsense Patty. Hana made him. He isn’t real.”

“Yes he is, yes he is, YES HE IS!”

And then, the link finally became real. The boundaries fell, dissolving into mist and the coyote laugh of the Jaxinail rang through the house. With it came the wind blowing through the rooms and the halls and the holes of the house, opening every door. Then the lights died, leaving them both in darkness, in cold and await. James found himself listening to the wind chime outside on the porch.

Patty’s scream grew weaker and weaker until it was lost and all there left was the wind chime and the realization.

Thump, thump, thump the sound went before the door slowly opened, and James thought “Here he comes”

The Jaxinail.

Vicarious


Something someone said during the drive on the first day of my weekend trip. This is what it resulted in.

Vicarious

“There’s no secret to dying”

We drove past the abandoned construction sites in the old industrial region. It never got be one, never was urbanized or highly populated. Something about ground property they said. Local fishermen still swam the river in their creaky old boats, but the expensive buildings were only concrete skeletons erecting above the river bank. It was a dead zone, lonely and attracting the homeless and the abandoned dogs.

Though it was a cold month, the sky wearing a pale mascara of grey and white and the scenery being colorless, left without a single shade of life, a stench emerged from the waters sliding itself through the gap in the window. I rode it up separating the smell of the interior with that from outside. The scent of cheap cigarettes nested itself again, continuing to soak into the leather seats and my clothes.

The river curved and with it the road. My eyesight caught the rapid movement of dozen crows, circling around one spot of the river bank; somewhere down below where my eyes couldn’t travel and observe. I watched them, those vultures of death, the predecessors of illness. Even from the moving car I thought I could see their glass-like eyes glisten with hunger and desire to rip large pieces of meat and swallow them down their shaggy, skinny necks.

Why where they so many? A little tornado of black wings and piercing gazes.

Even with the loudness of the engine their cries penetrated the safety of the car; shouts from Hell escalating and resonating with my thoughts, confusing my senses and provoking some sort of sudden self- preservation. I yield before it for a mere moment, than I frowned, shaking away the grasp of fear. “Why are their godless pleas for wrong so easily heard; that ugly sound of laughter that chills the heart, but what is good and kind and asks for nothing more than kindness in return remains unheard, unnoticed?”

I averted my eyes.

Still the curiosity aroused by their numbers left me restless.

“Why do you think they are so many?”

My father responded with an extended “Hmm” which meant he hadn’t heard my asking.

“The crows” I enlightened.

His gaze skipped to the window on his right then quickly returned to the empty road.

“There must be something dead down there. Seems their fighting over it.”

He said nothing more. Nor did I.

My mind drifted from the daily, and the abstract, the horror took place.

What was dead down there? A man? A woman? A child? Someone who would no longer love, laugh, cry…feel? Someone to be missed, to be spoken of… or was it someone forgotten? Someone thrown back by family, by strangers, by society, left to sleep in puddles of city mud and dirty sewer leaks?

What poor creature was left lying there, to decay, dissolve till a dog comes and snatches a bone? What soul was offered to the descending black devils to eat from its flesh and tear its insides until their primal needs are satisfied?

Who was now no more, no longer, never again?

Or was it going to be like it had never been at all? Existence never happened… No tears were shed upon its demise, no memories were brought upon its release, no mothers had felt their hearts destroyed at that very moment when the waters of the river had spat out its lifeless body?

What fate had that mysterious carcass face? Whose image of hate had it met before the end? Whose cold palm had caressed it with anger?

Was it Mother Nature? Was it my own kind?

I wept inside for it. A little helpless thing, a poor and fragile soul, there alone and dined on. Ruthless world!

And I contributing to it from my warm and comfortable seat; a spectator like anyone else, watching from a safe distance. Was I any different from those who had guided it undoubtedly long before to that grave beside the muddy green waters?

Further down the road I entered a quiet state of mind. Not long after the crows were left behind.

But I still wondered, I still craved to know despite all…what was dead down at the river bank? What?

As a single crow glided over the car, its cry mocking

I wondered…

Down by the river

Down by the river

Schlange stehen! Bewegen!”*

The group of chained people moved forward. They were dressed in civilian clothes, although the days spent running and hiding had made them look more like torn pieces of dirty material stitched together only to resemble clothes. They were about to be executed in those dreadful outfits, stripped from their true identity.

Some of them whimpered, howled, screeched as their feet sunk into the mud, as the barrels of the guns touched their necks, pushing them forward, faster. But the majority of them remained silent, their eyes dim, staring into the blazing horizon.

They had nothing to speak of anymore. They were betrayed by those whom they trusted the most. It was all over. Their era was to be no longer.

The soldiers took them to a crumbling farmhouse, down by the river and ordered them to stand before the wall, their backs up against the solid structure. They faced five machine guns, surely fed by wanting release bullets.

A woman with once golden hair turned to the man beside her. His black hair was damped and his eyes were hollow but still she could recognize the King of the fairies, her beloved husband.  The forest spirit was gone; the sparkle of power was gone, only a shell of a desperate man trapped in human form remained. The woman, who was the Queen of the fairies traced each face as much as it was possible, trying to remember those forsaken, forgotten and sent to death – the Minotaur was there, his face trapped in the transfiguration of a beast to a man. His horns were cut in the middle, the blood dried on the edges; the Werewolf trembled and growled, the cuts on his face burning with pain, his human eyes glowing yellow; the Dragon was no longer resisting the restraints on his hands – he no longer desired to rip his own heart out; the Nymphs were pale and one by one were about to be consumed by madness, so they begged the fire to start sooner and vanish them from the realm of people forever; the Unicorn had lost its shine- a young boy he stood with eyes glaring to the ground without truly seeing. A red circle like a burned wound stained his forehead where his horn had once been. The queen averted her eyes. She could see no more of this torture.

There was a click coming from each gun; the sound was short but made the condemned push their backs further into the wall.

Before they could shout, or plead or run the soldiers fired for what seemed like hours, the thundering cries of fast flying, skin piercing bullets prolonging into the day, and extending more into the night. When it ended the silence was so fragile, the world thought it shouldn’t exist.

The only ones to blame for this massacre were the people, who had forgotten them over countless bloodshed wars. In fear they turned to selfish Gods who wanted only blood sacrifices in their name. Humanity asked them for help, for victory neglecting that they have won their victory many eons ago and the help had always been there with them, carried within those who protected their homeland, their sanity, who kept them alive.

And so, their protectors, the offspring of their imagination were left aside to rot and only watch as their world decays. All the creatures of myths and legends and folklore fell dead that day. Imagination fell that day.

 

*“In line! Move!”

Monsters (Part two)

A bit late with this entry, my apologies. I hope I deliver with this conclusion.

Part one

Monsters

Part 2

 

As a breath on glass, -
As witch-fires that burn,
The gods and monsters pass,
Are dust, and return.

(“The Face of the Skies”)”

―George Sterling,

The Thirst of Satan:Poems of Fantasy and Terror 

 

 

“I think I brought memory to life. Did I Neil? Could I?…”

As I stood before my door Tom’s words came back to me and I asked myself what he meant.

“Did you Tom do something horrible in the past that came back to haunt you today? Could you have done something bad?”

I cursed me for doubting my friend.

My hand hesitated on the door lock. I turned to watch the lights of the departing cab with a tinge of disappointed. I wished I had stayed in it. Maybe tell the driver to keep on driving around town until the dawn comes and saves me from the questions solitude and darkness tend to evoke in one’s mind.

I didn’t feel like being home tonight. Not alone.

I sighed and opened the door.

The lights, as I switched them on, welcomed me with a vague, nonchalant gleam.

I prepared myself a quick dinner – macaroni and cheese with tomatoes – and watched the news, only for the voices to keep me company and distract me from the ones in my own head.

A young blond reporter spoke of a chain accident on the interstate. Five people were dead and a dozen injured. She looked frightened as if her life was the one depending on good Faith.

I turned the TV off and stared at my face in the black screen. Was that fear written on me as well? Fear of what I saw back at Tom’s apartment?

Once more my thoughts were taken back to the filthy living room turned into a studio and the paintings aligned staring at me.

I wondered what imagination dreams of such horrid creatures? What sort of agony makes the artist reach so deep in his soul, in that part which is unknown and foreign to him?

“Why, Tom?”

I had to know.

“How can I help you Tom when you told me I couldn’t understand. Why is that? For what am I so blind?”

I rubbed my eyes and poured myself a large glass of golden liquid. Even after a few drinks no answers showed to solve my mystery and cease my worries.

I decided sleep may be my remedy.

I went asleep as soon as my head touched the pillow and no longer after that a dream came to me, one that left me moaning and twisting in the bed; a poor mess of sweat and sheets.

I didn’t see myself present in it, but it felt as if I was the host, my body, soul and mind combined to offer a field for the events developing. I felt utterly exposed to some invisible invasion from outside, a fearful breeze of rotten nightmares.

The scenery was bleak and confusing but it reminded me of the cover of a book I used to own as a child. But the golden crops, the morning sky were different– they painted themselves in dark rusty-brown, before the sky cracked and only blackness was left, so vast and loathing it raised my curiosity of what lies beyond.

I remembered there were children painted too, playing and laughing but instead of them something else was celebrating under distant sounds of drums and horns.

A creature of scales and claws, multiple eyes, tongues and limbs descended from the blackness, towering above all and with an echoing roar of its billion mouths it shattered grotesquely and collapsed into monsters that scattered and possessed each piece of the dying ground; the spawns danced with rhythmic moves, but all I could see was a savage ritual of grunts and roars; the nameless ones caught in a symbolic moment of fierce copulation; a collision of bodies furry, wet and muscular. Some, I observed from my nowhere position, carried human parts and with disgust I had to watch as their sharp tongues lick thirstily the dripping blood and their mouths bite, tore and swallow down large pieces of red flesh.

This was a feast upon humanity. A celebration of prevail and conquer. It smelled like defeat, like losing all hope and I felt even greater fear emerging from each direction, cloaking the dream, the inhabitants, the revelations.

My childhood nightmares were there before me, but somehow altered, changed. More vulgar and shameless, more brutal and willing to kill my vision and memory of how monsters were supposed to look. Those were…

“No, monsters aren’t real. This is just a dream” spoke Tom’s voice but I knew it was I who thought so.

But these spoken in the subconscious words disappeared with the increasing throbbing of the drums. The melody so ancient and ethnic called me to come forward; an invitation of the sort you don’t simply turn down even if your whole being is trembling with fear. I felt myself do as told, and I tried to suppress the urge to touch skins, horns, furs and prove them real, proclaim them living and breathing and here. I hesitate…do I want to?

They are not real. I know that. They can’t be.

I push myself away; a far and rapid withdraw from this degeneration of the soul.

I woke up weak and destroyed from the dream. My head pounded with pain.

I didn’t enjoy this demented reflection of yesterday’s events, mostly because there were shadows which I didn’t see but felt. The art in Tom’s paintings had crawled into my sleep and hid underneath my pillow to invade my dreams and observe just as me.

Observe what? Me?

I reminded myself again it was simply a nightmare. Fiction of the mind.

Then what was that feeling of doubt nesting low in my belly making me uncomfortable?

Had I gone mad even for a second to believe monsters are real? To believe that those portraying Tom’s sickness are stalking me in my dreams and insist I participate from aside in a spectacle of horror?

God, I sounded like I do.

“Remember you believe in something once you’ve seen it and touched it” told me Tom’s whispering voice.

-   Hold on Tom, I’m coming.

I dressed and called a cab.

With a few begs my Arabic guide of city streets and ugly alleys drove faster and kept silent.

I decided on any cost to get Tom out of his place and buy us a plane ticket to Mexico or somewhere further.

Up ahead there was a construction site and the street was closed by large orange signs. My impatience overpowered me; I paid and jumped out of the car to run the last two blocks.

I dashed between faces and grimaces without my eyes registering any gender, age or race.

All I could think of were those monsters closing their rope of insanity around Tom’s neck.

When I got there a large crowd had gathered outside the entrance of the building. I spotted an ambulance and two police cars.

The officers were just starting to close the perimeter circling it with the “Cautious” yellow tape.

I maneuvered myself deeper into the whispering and gasping audience.

I needed to get to Tom’s apartment.

-  Excuse me? I need to get to apartment 8, Tomas Byrnes lives there, he is a friend of mine. I was supposed to meet him today. Could you let me pass?

The officer which I had just spoken to opened and closed his mouth, seemingly experiencing difficulty to offer me an answer.

-   I’m sorry sir. I’m afraid that will be impossible.

-   It’s very important officer. Can’t we arrange something?

-    I don’t think you understood me sir. Mr. Byrnes was found dead in his apartment an hour ago. My condolences on your loss.

-   Oh… – was all I could say, and then I mumbled – thank you.

Perhaps I had heard him the first time but was too shocked to realize.

I turned and walked away without feeling my feet touch the ground.

The monsters had won. They had found out I wanted to save Tom and had taken him away from me. They mocked me in my dream and showed me what future awaits those who deny belief in something so obviously real. I didn’t acknowledge them and they punished me by provoking my friend to implant their vision in me and make me question their authenticity.

“Oh Tom, please forgive me for running away. I was so scared and foolish.”

I stopped.

The people walking past me game me curious looks at my motionless figure. I looked in their eyes to seek some recognition, some response or understanding.

But they didn’t know of the storm in my soul and the guilt in my heart. They didn’t understand the fear in my mind and couldn’t explain the tears running down my cheeks.

But I knew what I’ve done.

“I can feel it. I have let the monsters in”

Indigo Priest

Indigo Priest

Dark days are staring upon the city. Its people are blind and unaware of the danger it shelters; the crimes and the villainy that roam the streets at night go unnoticed. But underneath the filth the city cries, breathing dying words, begging me to help.

This is my city. My duty is to save it, regardless of the price.

The day may transform me into an ordinary person, but when the sun closes its eyes I put on my mask, my true identity, and become the shadow of the city, the shadow of the people. They call me Indigo Priest and I….

-   Kevin go to bed! It’s way past ten young men! How many times have I told you not to read this late? Put that comic book away.

-    But mom…

-    No buts. Sleep. Now. – Kevin’s mom turned off the lights and shut the door. He put his comic book underneath the pillow and hid under the blanket. She didn’t know. She couldn’t possibly know. Mothers never understood.

Today I did what I was supposed to. I protected. When tomorrow the city needs me again I will be there to save it… “