The Society of Misfit Stories Presents: The Year of the Heddagh

Some of you may remember ‘The Year of the Heddagh’ as Friday blog posts some time ago and even if you don’t or do, I’m happy to announce Bards and Sages Publishing decided it was good enough to put into their anthology of Misfits. So now you can get ‘The Year of the Heddagh’ for only 0.99$ , available at a bunch of places – Apple, Barnes & Noble Nook, Kobo, Scribd, Smashwords, Angus & Robertson!

The very helpful link to “The Year of the Heddagh”  in all its splendor!

The cover is also very in tune with the themes of myths, legends, old gods and old folklore…

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Egoistically so

First 150 words were written for Flash!Friday’s weekly prompt & flashversary, but I decided to continue the initial story since my piece didn’t make the cut back then.


                        Image belongs to Ralichte

These hands – look at them; coal fingers writing uneven lines, words fading black to grey, to a transparent ask for help.

Slow down; follow the parched lips as they spit ashes which hide diamonds. Feel the smoked skin radiate longing and fear the heat of it.

Stare into smoke-filled eyes, tempest clouds orbiting a depth that is frightening; they cry tears which vanish.

That raging, bright flame which curls the hair, touch it.

A touch…

Perhaps that would make you a little like me, so you could understand ill fate told as sin, and see through your eyes a child of Man accused the monster in the corner of your life; maybe if you had held a hand you wouldn’t have to gasp and watch me burn, that red bottle of gasoline at my feet, the flames in my mouth; like a dragon breathing out all of me for you.

See, sense, inhale, savor. Witness me die.

‘Be witness to the Phoenix die and be reborn.’

I stare up at the man beholding me with his arms stretched to the people gathered to see me smolder. And I do so, sizzling and screaming as my heart melts in a raging fire, for them, for him, a passerby turned God, prophesying my secret for them to fear. They are blind and deaf. And He is in awe as I drop to my knees and cough out the last of my organs – I am nearly ash. My eyes cease to see the world, but I know it, and sense it and when they have stopped crying for my departure he has fallen silent. My remains, particles of my essence, my being is being picked up, brushed away into something. My anger towards the world is still strong and it inflames me faster and stronger than all the other times I have died and was returned to life anew. He talks to me of future and beauty and hushes away the urges to explode. He spills my ashes free and leaves me there in my own and the outside darkness. I wait the hour of rebirth with the remembrance of his words of life.

With the first colors of the dawn blending the night, bleaching it lighter I awake with my new life. My skin illuminates the room and I know he is watching from somewhere hidden, marvelling at his prize for saving the result of my sorrow and surrender.

I marvel too at myself, as I have each time.  I stand naked in my new skin, different from the last time. Only my auburn color remains the same, the mark of my true self.

He enters the room carrying a mirror and gives it to me. I look and see a woman whose face lacks the burden of eons of torture and negligence except for her eyes, my eyes which fail to glimmer with want. They reflect the thousand lives I’ve lived uncared for and forgotten. My fragile nature urges tears to stream down my cheeks, burning.

‘You are a Phoenix. You should cherish life.’

‘If I can’t heal myself, how can I heal others?  I cannot be what I am anymore. People are cruel,” I tell him. I want to cease, expire. I want to trade my skin for another.

‘You are a daughter of the Gods with the most precious gift of all – life. It burns inside you, but you call the fire out, because you are afraid to love. Look,’ he says and keeps my hand in his. ‘You are my child, my sister, my lover, my mother. You have given me life and forever. I will never let you burn your life away again, egoistically so, that others may not have it, and you would have to leave with the ugly memory of it.’

He shows me his heart and it shines, pure gold. It is my heart too, I know its beat. He is a God, he is the past. A past where I was love and life and spoken of.

We make love untill I cannot take more of his touch. It is divine and I feel impure for throwing away lightly my gift. He sleeps in my embrace, until I leave him just an outline of myself, a golden spiral protecting him and his love. I have given him life, my Helios, but he cannot give me mine back. My skin burns from within and each thing I touch becomes aflame. I don’t shiver in the cold morning and think of flying away, somewhere.

I leave when the sun is at its brightest. The streets are my wings and they take me further than any man has walked. Once again no one recognizes me. For a lifetime more I cease to exist. Until I am reborn again. Untill I find somewhere within me salvation or the will for permanent death.

The Dorley Cycle XXIX: The Conclusion

TO START THE CYCLE :

First segment

It’s only a siren’s song baby

 Part I ; Part II ; Part III ; Part IV

Prelude

Second segment:

Hey there Mr. Cthulhu

Part V ;  Part VI ; Part VII ; Part VIII ; Part IX ; Part X ;

Third segment:

Got some toxic truth?

Part XIPart XIIPart XIII

Fourth segment:

Squid Kings and Greek Fires

Part XIV ; Part XV ; Part XVI ; Part XVII ; Part XVIII ; Part XIX ; Part XX ; Part XXI; Part XXII;Part XXIII ; Part XXIV

Fifth segment:

Welcome to Dorley, Population: O

Part XXV ; Part XXVI ; Part XXVII ; Part XXVIII

AND FOR A LITTLE COMIC STYLE TREAT: Homecoming & Hey There Mr. Cthulhu ; A Short Portrait 

THE DORLEY CYCLE 

Conclusion

end

XXIX

  I let go of his hand, violently, angered. The hell was he saying to me? More, more?! The world wasn’t dark enough right there to have all the fuckin’ hate my heart pumped through my punctured veins clogging every nerve in my body.

“They left some time ago Jackson.”

“Stop it.”

“I don’t know where to, somewhere in Boston I heard, but they were good those, they were strong. Guy liked em’ a lot, he told me I ought to be like em’ and maybe someday I would be if I sustained my body jus’ the right way.”

“I don’t want to listen, I don’t want to know!”

I was dying and he was stirring my blood, telling me chase stories of other towns and other fuckers like him and his dead pals. They were all dead why couldn’t he understand that? He was the only one and he was already dead. There were none more. I put my hands over my ears, but he grabbed my shirt and pulled with whatever was left of that monster strength of his, so I’d look at him.

“Listen you bastard”, he spat at me.

I let it all calm down, the rage mixed with fear.

“There are no more Paulie. Every squid fucker of your kin is dead. I put them down. I watched them die.”

His grip on my shirt loosened and his fingers slipped. The cold in his face shaded some pleading human stare.

“I’m tellin’ you the truth, Jackson. I saw em’ leave, I swear, gone to make more, make em’ twice as much like Guy wanted em’ to. I ain’t lyin’.”

It was hard to breath, a pain to think, a curse to exist. His words sank in slow, swamp-like thoughts in the dark. I cradled his head and turned it so he wouldn’t gag on the blood no more.  “Why are you telling me this Paulie?”

He tried and failed and then tried again drawing the words out of his tired mind but losing them before they could be spoken.

“Try harder Paulie. Why would you tell me that?”, I asked again and he whispered his confession to me.

“Cause’ I don’t want no more like me or Guy. “

He was crying now, tears washing the dirt off his face.

“I didn’t live a good life and nor should they. We ain’t right, I always knew that, all them folks that died, the two teens that was me and poor Annie, he made me do her too. But fuck it I wanted to live one way or the other, regardless of all, ya know. I wasn’t ashamed. I don’t think I am now too. Ya think God will let me go to Heaven, Jackson? I think I might jus’ see hell instead cause of all them bad things I did. I ain’t afraid though. You ain’t afraid too. You never were pal, you never were. “

He convulsed in my hands his words coming down inaudible . “Please Jackson, please, find them and kill them. Please. Please Jackson. Please…”

His eyes lost me and found the starless sky. I wished there were twinkles up there, something to give some peace to his soul. I looked down at him again, not hearing his breathing, not hearing mine too. I don’t know if I promised or not, but I wished I did even for the sake of a peaceful passing. I kicked back, whimpering, hearing myself weep, frustrated because I was hurting for a monster.

I noticed I was seeing red spots on a black canvas inside my mind and felt Eli shaking me awake. Paulie Glass was asleep. Maybe I was too.

Closing eyes, opening eyes, I smelled the old smell a timeworn car keeps in her and heard the engine jump into life, a sound coming from the distance. The backseat of the car was far away, but I could see on the dashboard Mary nurturing a faith no one had time for, like the small chapel with its doors hanging on their hinges we drove past. Eli steered the car to avoid split tree branches and unscrewed mailboxes, spilled trashcans with the wind carrying burger wrappers and newspapers everywhere. Only The Grand Mermaid Hotel seeped light on this dark town, tails splitting the night with luminescent colors.

“Jackson, listen, I gots to tell you somethin’… there are more like us”. What a screaming thought he gave me. A whole new pack of squid freaks, har, har. Screw them. If I pull through this crap I’ll have them wherever they happen to pop out. I won’t stop hurting them. But if I don’t…

“Eli. Don’t go after them kid. Not alone.”

He nodded from the front seat.

“I won’t. Promise.”

Dorley’s cycle is over now no matter what, two years of clouded sun and raging seas inside and out, and me getting no sleep. Was it worth it? It’s quiet now, so I suppose. Killing them all, even from before looks easy when I think back. When I close my eyes I see them floating, the whites of their skin porcelain in the sun. All I had to do was raise my hand and be hateful. I don’t want to be hateful, not just now. Maybe tomorrow. Just maybe…

I remember, strangely, sitting on the rocky beach as a young boy, hugging my knees and scrapping the sand from them and those small broken shells stuck there in a red bruised spot. No one really had time here, to talk to you or entertain you; there were no amusements and no playgrounds, and children weren’t allowed where adults crawled to shed off the day and nurse their sun bruised faces. I could only sit there on the cold beach and stare at a sea I didn’t want to go near, because I was afraid. There was evil here even before I found it now when I came to say goodbyes. I half-remember, blurry and somewhere adrift in my memories this older boy with hazy blue eyes and a bright smile, and his friend, eyes hidden away under a truckers hat too big for him. They showed me that one day how to catch baby lizards in a glass soda bottle, but I always let them go afterwards. It was exciting looking for them in the tall grass around the tourist homes that were never really tourist homes and then be quick, very quick to catch them and be careful for them to not trick me and snap their tails and run back into the grass becoming hard to spot.

I don’t know, I might be imagining them two knowing me before I knew them truly, but hell, whoever said memories flood the mind in a bright and impulsive and beautiful flashback was a good hearted liar. Memory leakage and washed out Polaroid’s in a collage, distorted flashbacks with no faces or sounds, an imagination depraved of air and purpose, that’s more like it.

Even these simply fading, it’s scary.

THE END 

Epilogue

*photo taken somewhere in Greece at a squid market. Courtesy of a friend who visited.

The Dorley Cycle XXVIII

TO START THE CYCLE :

First segment

It’s only a siren’s song baby

 Part I ; Part II ; Part III ; Part IV

Prelude

Second segment:

Hey there Mr. Cthulhu

Part V ;  Part VI ; Part VII ; Part VIII ; Part IX ; Part X ;

Third segment:

Got some toxic truth?

Part XIPart XIIPart XIII

Fourth segment:

Squid Kings and Greek Fires

Part XIV ; Part XV ; Part XVI ; Part XVII ; Part XVIII ; Part XIX ; Part XX ; Part XXI; Part XXII;Part XXIII ; Part XXIV

Fifth segment:

Welcome to Dorley, Population: O

Part XXV ; Part XXVI ; Part XXVII

AND FOR A LITTLE COMIC STYLE TREAT: Homecoming & Hey There Mr. Cthulhu ; A Short Portrait 

THE DORLEY CYCLE 

welcometodorley4

XXVIII

Paulie gave me one of the damnedest times and I was dressed for the occasion now, stiff neck and bruised all over, my garments colorful in red, sat on my ass, thinking if it were him to have the squid fuckin’ crown. He seemed weak and sorry-like before, then showed his teeth and now was being wise, the last of his kind and I had no true words from anybody what he was really like. Only my gut feeling, and it wasn’t much good now was it, running me out of breath. I took my precious time looking at him my mind ticking.

Fascinating what months, years can do to a man; feeling different than yesterday, yet the same freaky anger sitting and waiting for me, the cold in my palms and the tune of the sea back in my ears, my mind searching for the stone that bashed the mermaids head. Finish him and be done with it all, I told myself, finish him and it’ll be finally done, what I started two years back to back now.

His face was freckled with blood, and he tried to pull his broken lips into an unpracticed hurt smile. Paulie had managed to take hold of my hand despite me looking at him the way I knew I was. Resentful.

“How does it feel?” I shot back at question at him, watching the uneven rising of his chest.

His voice had a tremor when he spoke, ignoring my question, a gruff string he pulled with difficulty now more than ever, every face twitch showing me more of the wound I gave him sticking the shard in his face.

“Jackson, hey Jackson, he’s dead isn’t he, Guy’s dead?”

“Yeah”,I nodded, “He’s gone.”

“I knew it. I felt it.” He swallowed, and then spoke again. “I called for help ya know. That fucker….Kevana… Saw me and didn’t help. He saw me and left me here. But you’re ‘ere now, aren’t you Jackson.”

Even though he was beating me dead hours ago, even though he was ready to lay me to waste I made myself look at his glassy eyes and stifled a cry. I felt a sudden rush of affection for the bastard, like I hadn’t for anything else on this earth, except Mattie. Paulie wanted to take the gift of life from me, but in my stomach tension coiled and I swallowed down the anger, the hate, the pain, the betrayal and searched for forgiveness. I squeezed his hand that held mine and stroked his messy black hair glittering with water.

“I burned down them sheds”, he said breaking the silence.

“Why?”

He laughed and blood came out, his teeth in that crooked smile red.

“Cause’ I ain’t good, Jackson, I ain’t like they were. I wasn’t perfect enough, I couldn’t make other like me ya know though I tried. I’m broken. I could see it in their eyes, mockin’ me even Guy, cause he made me jus’ like he made them and I was wrong. I loved Dorley man, I love it, but Guy went crazy abou’ you, and all them FBI agents…it all went to waste and I rather see it gone, all of it.”

“Paulie, I…”

“Not need to say nothin’, it ain’t like I done it for you.” His eyes lost me for a second there, rolling in their orbits before settling back on my face.

“Jackson, listen, I gots to tell you somethin’… there are more like us.”

Go on now, don’t wait, chapter XXIX is jus’ over there. 

The Dorley Cycle XXVII

*Warning* (should have put that way, way before) mild gruesomeness and swearing.

TO START THE CYCLE :

First segment

It’s only a siren’s song baby

 Part I ; Part II ; Part III ; Part IV

Prelude

Second segment:

Hey there Mr. Cthulhu

Part V ;  Part VI ; Part VII ; Part VIII ; Part IX ; Part X ;

Third segment:

Got some toxic truth?

Part XIPart XIIPart XIII

Fourth segment:

Squid Kings and Greek Fires

Part XIV ; Part XV ; Part XVI ; Part XVII ; Part XVIII ; Part XIX ; Part XX ; Part XXI; Part XXII;Part XXIII ; Part XXIV

Fifth segment:

Welcome to Dorley, Population: O

Part XXV ; Part XXVI

AND FOR A LITTLE COMIC STYLE TREAT: Homecoming & Hey There Mr. Cthulhu ; A Short Portrait 

 THE DORLEY CYCLE 

welcometodorley3

XXVII

I saw them, bare footed and plain dressed, 1986 coming back alive and well through my tipped over world and smudgy view. I recognized the white dress of the lady monster I’d met at trailer park and saw her aborted, purplish wasted arms hanging loose from underneath her red stained gown, dragging dried suckers on the dirt; a dead embryo still attached to its sickly mother. Another pair of legs belonged to one of the men, absent-minded and eyes rolled up. I raised myself, trying to back away from them and their mindlessness.

“I’ll let them tear you to pieces, because frankly that’s what they’re good for.”

But their panting and incomprehensible moans caught the whiff of another bleeder. Stephens stumbled out of the alley fingers scratching out skull pieces from the side of his head. The creatures took him for bait.

“What the fuck, what the actual fuck?!?” he screamed a high-pitched noise, walking uneven lines while his brain leaked out and I closed my eyes as his face  froze in the twist and snap of his neck and he dropped, before Kevana could breathe a word. The freak in the short jeans that had twisted his head lowered himself to the body and the fat female did so too, poking holes with hardened fingers, trained to find cavities one way or another and fill the disease of sick little squid creatures. They were fuckin’ dumb and it angered me they’d been Guy and Paulie’s friends once, standing on that same beach Anne Henderson got her life fucked and sucked out of her. So maybe they deserved this.

Eli shot aside, pulling away from distracted Kevana and wrested the gun from the clutched fingers of the officer, still looking back at the corpse and at the approaching trailer park freak all rotten teeth and horror, looking seemingly lost and excited at the same time. Eli took his chances and bit Kevana, drawing blood from his fingers, and he dropped the gun with a clatter. To me it was all slow motion, how the kid got fast, fear giving him speed and courage and he threw himself, snatching the gun first. He fired clumsily hitting the coming monster who fell back, but the next one went through Kevana’s head. He took the ground knees first then spread on his side and didn’t move again. Eli still held the gun, looking at it with absent eyes.

“Shoot her too”, I told him.

He went slow and towered above the woman hunched over Stephens body, trying plan B to infect him, to put the dead arm inside his mouth and not understanding why it still didn’t work.

“I don’t think there are any more bullets left.”

I watched his back and his hand weighting the gun at the nape of her neck.

“Eli…”

“I don’t want to pull it.” He sounded distant and I feared I lost him there, finally giving in to all the madness.

“If you want to live you pull that trigger now Eli. Pull it and we’ll be safe.”

The shot echoed. He dropped the gun and came back, lifting me off the ground and resuming his carry.

“We’ll take his car over there Jackson, hang on just a little longer, yeah?”

Eli kept sounding fake, muttering about the car and I half-nodded, more concentrated on hearing my own voice being called all of a sudden.

Where Kevana had looked aside, in the crumble of a building, taken down to shatters of wall and glass, that’s where the muffled call was coming from. There it was again, but not in my mind; it was real, weak, but real. I heard it again, the echo of it, “jackson, jackson, jackson” slurred over and over. I derailed, detaching myself from Eli’s support and searched the dark corners and the danger zone ahead, thinking of exploded bottles of fuel and shattered houses, pubs and glasses and fabric from a red checked shirt imagining hallucinations calling me. Then I saw him stuck under a collapsed pile of concrete boulders and iron rods sticking out. Paulie’s eyes found me and the corner of his mouth itched up into a half-smile.

Chapter XXVIII

The Dorley Cycle XXVI

TO START THE CYCLE :

First segment

It’s only a siren’s song baby

 Part I ; Part II ; Part III ; Part IV

Prelude

Second segment:

Hey there Mr. Cthulhu

Part V ;  Part VI ; Part VII ; Part VIII ; Part IX ; Part X ;

Third segment:

Got some toxic truth?

Part XIPart XIIPart XIII

Fourth segment:

Squid Kings and Greek Fires

Part XIV ; Part XV ; Part XVI ; Part XVII ; Part XVIII ; Part XIX ; Part XX ; Part XXI; Part XXII;Part XXIII ; Part XXIV

Fifth segment:

Welcome to Dorley, Population: O

Part XXV ; Part XXVI

AND FOR A LITTLE COMIC STYLE TREAT: Homecoming & Hey There Mr. Cthulhu ; A Short Portrait 

 THE DORLEY CYCLE 

welcometodorley2

XXVI

“Oh shit, sorry. Sir, are you in need of medical assistance?”

The light was lowered and when I blinked away back into darkness I had a glance of a tired moustached face and a red cross stitched on his jacket, reading below of St something’s hospital. I knew him, he’d been the desk guy at the cell who had injected the needle in my arm.  Another cop joined and turned his flashlight on, returning the painful light.

“Everything all right here Stephens?”

“Would you look at that Kevana, our friend Victor from the cell, the drunk fella you sent home.”

Stepehns pulled aside the bulky guy who had unsuspiciously let me go with just a warning.

“Fuck I think he’s really badly injured, we should get him help.”

Then he turned back to me, shifting gaze from my hand pressed against my side to Eli, reciting out what he’d probably been doing ever since the whole place blew up. “Sir you shouldn’t be here, this is a danger zone. I can see you’re in need of medical assistance, and it’s my duty to see you get to an ambulance. The hospital here is over its capacity so we’re taking lesser injuries out to Salem and fatal wounds and higher degree burns to Boston Medical. Do you understand what I’m saying to you?”

Kevana took a step back, his flashlight going dim and all I caught was a ghost reaching for Stephens’s head and bashing it against the wall with a loud crack. His body slopped down in an awkward position, the wall all hair and blood and skin. Kevan sidestepped, lazily pulling his gun out of the holster and aiming it at us.

He looked down at Stephens bleeding his brains on the macadam and then laughed shaking his head, his calloused hand absentmindedly brushing away tears or sweat or both. Then his features contorted, mangled with some insanity just coming in.

“Get here boy. Now you little shit, move.”

Eli left my side and Kevana put a firm grip on him, the gun at the temple of the boy.

“Now you walk.”, he told me.

“What do you want?”, I asked him teeth now chattering too. I don’t get him, this cop, his nervous gestures and his gun swinging at my cousin’s face. He gawked at me like I was an enemy.

“Start to fucking walk Jackson or I’ll blow his brains out.”

I heard my name like a panic alarm, because it had been all over, there on the rocks, hadn’t it? Now Eli was struggling and Kevana had his sweaty mouth on his ear, whispering foul things and violent outcomes, and I, I was very cold. I crawled, not strong enough to walk. Kevana’s boot came at my side and kicked hard. I wailed, snot hanging from my nose as I cried at the pain that made me almost piss myself.

“Keep walking, Jackson.” Kevana prompted me. “Stand the fuck up you worthless shit.”

I climbed my body to a standing position, palms planted on the wall. I walked missing where the alley ended and the street began; missing where the world ended and the sea began, again. I tripped over the sidewalk curb and rolled into the main street where no one was because it was black and it smelled of gasoline and rubber, a detonation site of yellow tapes flopping at the breeze that lived inside me, chilling from within. This was the real face of Dorley, abandoned of all humanity, men slaughtering men, everywhere a state of ruin. A police car, I guess his was parked nearby lights on and doors locked; protection false.

“Why are you alive?” His voice was weak; it wobbled in his throat, the big bully guy feeding tremors of fear and tears through his massive body. “Why did I have to stay and look for that spastic, stuttering fuck Paulie when I could have been there and saved him, saved Guy from you two?!”

I understood now, that pain choking in his words – the left out son, the one that wasn’t trusted enough to be a part of the final game. I met him briefly, proud and doing his duty like a good son would. Now he felt betrayed. He was ready to punish, prove his worthiness after all, nevermind the lack of audience. It was his sick soul that wanted it.

“Guy isn’t coming back.”

Kevana quivered strangely and gave Eli a shake, pressing the tip of his pistol hard against his cheek. He turned his head absorbed by something in the dark and stayed like that, looking behind him for a long time, toneless and stiff. Then he focused back his wide eyes on me.

“You know what I should have done? Killed you in the cell. I told him I should.”

He pushed Eli aside and kicked again, the tip of his leather boot finding the hurtful spot that made me cough steel. I lay there just listening to him.

“Just put the gun down, it’s over. You lost.”

I admired Eli for his bravery, standing tall for execution, but it was me Kevana was mad at. He laughed again, giggling at some joke of his own rolling in that thick head of his.

“Jackson, I’m going to show you something better than my tongues.” He blurted that out and whistled and I heard car doors opening.

Chapter XXVII

The Dorley Cycle XXV

TO START THE CYCLE :

First segment

It’s only a siren’s song baby

 Part I ; Part II ; Part III ; Part IV

Prelude

Second segment:

Hey there Mr. Cthulhu

Part V ;  Part VI ; Part VII ; Part VIII ; Part IX ; Part X ;

Third segment:

Got some toxic truth?

Part XIPart XIIPart XIII

Fourth segment:

Squid Kings and Greek Fires

Part XIV ; Part XV ; Part XVI ; Part XVII ; Part XVIII ; Part XIX ; Part XX ; Part XXI; Part XXIIPart XXIII ; Part XXIV

Fifth segment:

Welcome to Dorley, Population: O

Part XXV ; Part XXVI

AND FOR A LITTLE COMIC STYLE TREAT: Homecoming & Hey There Mr. Cthulhu

 THE DORLEY CYCLE 

welcometodorley1

XXV

Ulysses Face, that’s how they called the white cliff. I remember something about hearing in the monotone withdraw of calm waters a tempting call and following it to a spleen cracking jump on those jagged rocks below. To me it sounded like lyrics from a Simon & Garfunkel song, that one I always get chills from because it plays out like a dream I don’t want turned into a faceless and voiceless nightmare.

Eli found the right place for me to put my feet, he helped my slow and unsure grab and hold of the rock upwards supported by his hands taking mine, pulling me up to him, and then repeating that. He tried, his jaw clenched and his forehead wrinkled with the sudden weight of unlived years added on his young face in the matter of days. He was as strong as he could, silent about my blood staining his shirt too, my blood on his fingers whenever he pressed his hand there instead of me. He pretended to be deaf for my involuntary whines whenever the bitch wound hurt.

It had gotten dark, the kind of nighttime that creeps up when you’re not watching and catches you stumbling to find your feet suddenly forgetting how the ground you walked on looks like; the highland wannabe weather blew its foreign winds, the ones I knew from before, and urged its newborn waves to slam headfirst in the base of the cliff, sending little tremors my way, vibrating sensation worms churning in my bleeding out guts.

I wished they could stop.

When we had the high and lay panting on the mossy plain, my mouth drank with dry and salty lips the water pooled there I knew they would soon stop.

Ulysses tempted himself to hear the siren’s song even though he knew it would drive him insane and probably kill him. He tied his men and filled their ears with wax, but they too struggled when the siren sang her tune. He made a pact with them, put them through that torment, fighting against the ropes to join the blissful melody and touch whatever lips sang the words to it.

I was one like Ulysses; I couldn’t resist, I dived into all that shit mythology of this beat down, side mapped little town and enjoyed it, I swear I did, and damned be this confession, but I went on, blind and raging for all the wrong reasons; underneath it all, I needed it because it gave me reason, it made me real after being a shade and even the foulest smell made me think I can breathe again and feel all those things I never felt before. False or not, I believed in it to the point of obsession. Look where that got me, just like Ulysses too scared to sit alone in the boat, never having a friend, but already sacrificed so many, so much. For what it’s worth at least some rest in peace.

I looked up to see Dorley’s red and blue flashing mute, the fire barely a sign here and there, lighting up the charcoal structures of once houses. The town was gone.

Eli picked me back up, leading the way down the plain towards the highway junction instead to the other set of rocky trail sliding down the beach.

“Wait, Eli..”

“No, I’m taking us both away from here. Screw the town, it’s over.”

“We’re heading back to town.”

“Jackson…”

“I said we’re heading back to town dammit!”

He caught the sparkle in my eyes, or at least I think he did, because he swiveled us both and supporting me took us down the large blocks of rock. I wanted to see it one last time. Hell, I deserved at least that.

Down on the beach the air was ash and I could still feel heat stealing away my inhales. My cheeks flamed like I was hitting the degrees of combustion. Eli took the weight of my body on one shoulder and carried us both.

Now Dorley looked like Bradbury’s Venice; its Ferris wheel was down, rolled and dumped there, washed by the tide, looking like and old timey attraction put in with the rest of the trash, clothes and fading color flyers, booths and floating sweets, dissolving cotton candy and a bicycle among shards of glass, and the pier was a white skeleton disappearing beneath the waves and surfacing up like an underwater bridge to the below kingdom of sea legends.

We left the beach for the street, emerging in the mess of a town, ambulances passing us, taking away the seriously injured, medics kneeling beside second and third degree burn, giving air, whilst breathing none. I could hear the helicopter roaming above again, thinking it scared by the presence of the storm repeating itself, or the waves catching up, building higher. I had a feeling they would soon wash over the whole of Dorley, heal it from me and my disease.

Firefighters armed with hoses aimed to calm down whatever was left ablaze. Whoever was still here was just waiting to be taken away; whoever wasn’t dead was evacuated.

Seemed every street corner was occupied by a reporter wearing a some made up protective suit, the camera wrapped in whatever they could find in the moment; shocked, mostly women, the reporters, were talking fast of the “sudden disaster in the blackened by the deaths of two teenagers not three days ago town of Dorley”. I wondered aside from me blowing the hell out of the pier who else had taken the risk to light up the fuel sheds.

“Maybe we should find a car.”

Eli looked around. I had to agree. Besides I really wanted that last tour Paulie had promised he would give me before I die. My nerves, before coiled from just being back here, got used to the soundtrack of inner seas and outer waves, and after I did what I did, I now have inside me the dull idea of a man, not fearing the town or the corpses, not even caring much about all those two headed skeletons in his closet. I opened my mouth and found I still had strength to speak, spilling lies, I don’t know, for comfort or stealing time tricking myself into believing what I was saying.

“When we find something, make sure we get to Boston and if I’m still kicking or not, find either someone to stitch me up or dig a deeper hole.”

We took a detour from the lively disaster center and sneaked into quiet and growing darkness with the stench of melted cables, looking out for an abandoned vehicle. Little by little Eli caught the side streets of the administrative lane, zigzagging without direction, hoping to find a way out. I dragged my feet as much as I could, looking down, seeing nothing but my hand pressed against my gut.  Around the corner rushed footsteps stopped to block our way and a flashlight blinded us. I lifted my head, dreading who I would see, hoping it might be him.

Chapter XXVI