Tuesday, June 12, 2018

A Butterfly In The Rain

When she rolled out of bed on this mid-June day, she knew something was off. Not in a bad, dreading what comes next kind of way, but in a ‘today is just different’ kind of way. It was half past noon and nothing too out of the ordinary had happened as of yet, but she kept her awareness at a ten.

Stepping out of her home, painted yellow and white equally, spoke more to who she was on the inside than how her house looked on the outside. The paint job was something that would fade over time, but what was in her was evergreen; forever lasting. Every thing in her life had meaning, whether unintentionally or force prescribed. It was just the way she was wired, and she never really questioned it. Rolling with the punches was one of the few things she was willing to give herself credit for.

If you were to ask her what the colors represented, the words would come gushing out like a waterfall that had just broken through an ice cold winter and gave way to spring. Yellow was the color of life, and she embodied it well. Doing what she loved on her terms and when she wanted to do it was her idea of living life to the fullest, and in the deep country side, who could tell her she was wrong? As the sunlight began to beam on her house, reflecting off the white, making it almost blinding to gaze at, her dog Alice trailed out behind her and into the colorful garden she had planted earlier this spring.

As a lover of all animals, outside of the mischievous raccoon's that would send her harvest to an early grave, she respected all living things. Alice, her coat as blonde as a pure German girl’s hair, rustled around the garden and open grass that was her very own fun park. As the dog roamed around, she reached for a note in her back pocket, kicked her white flip flops off and sat in the grass, spreading her feet through the cool, wet blades.

Unfolding the note that she’d read a dozen times before, but not for months since, a cloud overtook the sunlight, but passed through swiftly. Her dark hair became more gorgeous in the shade, truly accentuating the rest of her features. She always felt as if she wasn’t as pretty without makeup, no matter how many people would reassure her otherwise. One of the few women who possessed natural beauty, but refused to accept it. The breeze picked up, and so did Alice’s speed. Running back and forth, as if she was playing tag with herself from tree to tree.

Mackenzie chuckled to herself as she looked down at the note. This was the only thing she had left of Jackson’s, and she carried it with her every day. She had almost lost her job when she snapped on a kid for intentionally spilling water in her seat, causing her to dampen the note. The kid, who wasn’t really a kid at all, had apologized profusely for the act, and conceded he didn’t know of her keepsake. In turn, she admitted it could have been placed in a better spot than her back pocket, but it was what she felt comfortable with and was the only way she knew she’d never lose it.

Jackson was her world, and for him to have left the way he did brought her down every day. It was part of the reason she cherished Alice the way she did. Just as she got through the first line, which only bared her name, a butterfly landed on the top right corner of the outstretched, wrinkled paper. Holding the note steady in her left hand, she moved her right towards the butterfly, surrendering her index finger for it to balance on. The butterfly gave in, and slightly jumped from the page and on to her finger.

The butterfly lay still, allowing her to examine it’s colorful print. Like a scientist with a microscope, she etched out every detail in her mind, perhaps to draw it later on. She wasn’t much of an artist these days, but she was feeling inspired. Something she hadn’t felt since Jackson left. Getting lost in her mind and thoughts was something of a pastime for her, as she was ascribing meaning to each color and pattern. The blue signified her sadness of the day, the orange represented the brighter days to come, and the white was the eternal feeling of hopefulness.

She thought back to the day she painted this whole house, all by herself. How happy she was to do that, to feel like she accomplished something on her own, something meaningful. Alice was a puppy at the time, doing puppy things, getting her nose in the paint can and running wild through the grass and brush ahead of her. She tried to leave by the old adage that ‘hard times create hard people,’ but while you’re in the midst of it, it’s not as easy as you’re lead to believe.

Remarkably, the butterfly remained on her finger as she got lost in her thoughts. As soon as she snapped back to reality, it began to downpour. She let out a frustrated, “fuck!,” as the rain drenched her letter and made it unreadable, at least for now. Mackenzie scurried onto the porch to avoid the rain as Alice did the opposite, and relished in all of it for as long as she could. Mackenzie shook her head once on the enclosed porch, both in due to the fact that Jackson’s last remaining memory was destroyed by mother nature, and the fact that she’d have to dry off Alice whenever she decided she had her fill.

Twisting the door knob open, she stepped through her doorway once more, turning back to see the butterfly clinging to her wooden porch rail, right by her white azalea patch. She stopped dead in her tracks for a second, thinking back. Those were the flowers that Jackson had planted.

She let out a deep sigh, and slammed her back against her sponge painted tan wall, and slid down like a limp towel, eventually into a crouching position. Note still in hand, she unfolded it once more, tears rolling down her face, knowing that this was the last thing she’d ever own of his. She couldn’t believe what was running through her mind, if she were to vocalize it to another living person, they’d most certainly have her committed.

They were thoughts of being with Jackson once more, but not in the way that she’d harm herself. She never would, no matter how bad things got. She never once believed, or even thought about reincarnation in her life, but she genuinely believed that if this butterfly was not Jackson, it was a messenger for him.

With the door still open, the butterfly pranced by her, everntually stopping and landing on her stove only one room away. She dried her eyes and sniffled briefly before raising up to her feet, and awalked gently towards it. She let out a whimpering, “If this is you, please show me,” before tearing up some more. The butterfly remained on the turn dial of the stove.

She thought to herself that maybe it was telling her to try to dry the letter out, so she placed it a foot or so above the flame, as not to burn it. The ink was faded outside of a few words, and as fate would have it, they were meaningful ones. She wondered if he had pressed hard with the pen when he wrote these words. As she read them aloud, the formed a coherent sentence.

As she read left to right, top to bottom, the sentence became clear.

You. Found me. There. I left you. Forever,

- Jackson”

Stepping outside once more, Alice finally on the porch, having had enough of the rain storm, the words washed over her like the water itself. She pieced together his final puzzle, which was his trademark. He’d love to play games, joke around and give her riddles. She was disappointed that it took her two fucking years to solve the last one he’d ever leave.

She stepped forward, to the garage, sliding the door open where she had indeed found him, breathless so many years ago. She’d been alone since, trying to fix herself. As she looked upwards, to the beam in which she had found him, she saw not only the butterfly, but three white roses, and two teddy bears.

Surprisingly enough, the roses looked as fresh as could be, as if they were picked today. She scooped up both the teddy bears and the roses and retreated inside and up the stairs into a room with a view of her sprawling land outside of the window. Mackenzie dug into a closet and pulled out an easel and a canvas, tears in her eyes, pulling a chair up as well after setting up the art stand.

She began painting the butterfly whom she believed to be Jason, as Alice came in beside her and nuzzled her leg.

For the first time in years, she was whole again.

Friday, March 30, 2018

A Life In Pictures

The gloomy fall day was a perfect indicator for how she felt on the inside. Some saw beauty in the falling leaves, the ever changing scenery, a soft breeze that felt like a cold kiss on the cheek. Others couldn’t understand why anyone would consider it to be their favorite season. As it turned out, autumn and Evangeline had more in common than she thought.

She stepped inside the old Victorian house that she called home, and gently closed the door behind her. The door latched closed behind her, placing her white leather purse on the oak dining room table. The marble floors screamed success, and the walls brandished dozens of self made portraits. She never believed she was talented enough to sell them, so she created her own personal art gallery.

She was a gorgeous girl, mid-twenties standing five foot even with flowing blonde hair that danced on her shoulders with the slightest burst of wind. A friend of hers would always say she was a handful, making a joke about her small stature. Once, she hinted at him being correct, remarking that it depended whose palm was holding her.

Perhaps it was more about her wanting to open up about every horrible thing she’d been through, and by the same token, what she had put herself through. Undoubtedly rough on herself, like a tour through boot camp, except the drill instructor was none other than Evangeline. All she wanted in this life was to feel safe, and she was unsure why she wasn’t happy with what she had now.

If she had to describe herself, she’d liken herself to someone who colored outside the lines. She knew she was talented, special and destined for something bigger than whatever this was, but it was hard not to dwell on the past at times. It was for this reason that she kept a shoe box of photographs that she’d dig into for whenever she felt like the gray sky she glanced at through the window.

As she strolled through the living room and towards a door off to the left, next to her entertainment stand, she pushed the door open and quickly closed it behind her. The walls were decorated with all kinds of flowers. Art made from roses, tulips, violets. It was her own personal space away from everything that could possibly bring her down. Part of the reason she chose to put flowers all over the walls was because she felt that it was the one thing she could never draw as she wanted. It bothered her, but she was beginning to understand that she loved her imperfections.

They were important.

For everybody treats the girl who seems perfect as exactly that, and nobody took the time to get to know the real her. She was more than just a pretty girl, she was layered, with hidden depths that ran as deep as the vacation coves you see on television. The ones that would be exclusively explored with a film crew and a million dollar budget. There were only a handful of people who cared enough to actually know that.

“That word again,” she thought to herself and chuckled. Handful. She never thought a word - that word would encapsulate everything she was and is so nicely. It felt like it wrapped her in a bow and put her under the tree.

Reaching for a stepping stool, she placed it down and stepped n top of it, grabbing for the shoebox. She pulled it down and sat down on the stool, placing the box in her lap. As she took the lid off and placed it next to her on the floor, she pulled out a stack of photographs from behind a white cardboard divider. Thumbing through them, her emotions were mixed. Some of these memories were great, things she never wanted to forget. Things that changed her forever, and nights that she had since forgotten.

A smile overcame her when she found a picture of who she still believed was her first and only true love. She still blamed herself, but began to accept it more knowing that he was happy. She always had a different outlook on love than most, but she knew for a fact that if you really cared about somebody, all you want is them to be happy. He was, and she took solace in this.

One photo after another, being placed behind the next. Next was a picture of her and a group of friends hanging around a campfire. She wrote on the back, Florida, 2014. She missed her friends, and she often felt alone, but she knew it was vital to be accepting of yourself before you could ever be accepting of anyone else.

Evangeline placed the pictures back in the box and reached from the other side of the divider. Again, taking out a handful of pictures, she had them in her hands and began to cry. Tears streamed down her face and onto the pictures, causing her to let out a muffled, “fuck.” before wiping her eyes and standing up, doing a quick pace around the room.

She sifted through one more time, the first photo being her old style Victorian house with a glowing green lawn, and sunflowers planted in her garden out front. The next, was Evangeline, in her backyard, playing with her daughter as her husband cooked on the grill. A massive above ground pool was seen in the near distance.

She began tearing up once more, and decided this was enough for today. She put the photos back in the box, and flipped over the divider card face up. It read, “The Future I Want, by Evangeline Carter.”

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Morning

She sat in the dark early morning hours, wrapped in her covers. It was still the middle of May, and the weather warranted such. She tossed it off of her and rose to the side of the bed. A glance at her alarm clock revealed 5:56 AM. Not an unusual time for her to wake, but she still felt a bit out of it. As she wiped the cold out of her eyes, she laid back on the bed, sprawled out. Stretching for a second, she reached to the far right corner of the mattress, which had a corner dresser.

Her outstretched hand fingered around behind the lamp that she had yet to turn on and grasped something she knew she was looking for. The touch of it alone gave her the first smile of her day, and maybe the best. For a few moments she played with it, toyed with it, like it was meant for a child. She knew full well that it wasn’t a toy, however.

She rose up and stood on her two feet to click the light on, only to reveal a sleeping man on the opposite of where she had slept. Almost instantaneously, she clicked the light off again.

She chuckled to herself and scurried off into the bathroom, shutting the door behind her. She cut the lights on behind her, and took a good look at herself before putting her face on. Even though she knew she didn’t need that superficial bullshit, it was a part of being a woman in today’s America.

Brushes to her eyes and face proved to make her even more beautiful than before. Her features glowed, even sparkled in the mirror in front of her. She looked down at her nails and decided they were fine, even though they were fading for the hot pink they were painted less than a week ago. Taking a quick stir around the room, she realized there was a chair in the back corner. Reaching for her phone, she realized it wasn’t in her pajama bottoms.

Venturing back into the bedroom, she tiptoed as to not wake him. As she reached the bed, he grumbled and had begun to move around in his sleep. She stopped and waited, just to be sure. He rolled a few times, mumbling gibberish. Slowly reaching her hand for the phone, she grabbed it without notice.

He was prone to have nightmares, but she knew no better. He was only here for the night, it was agreed upon yesterday that as soon as he woke up, he was out.

Heading back to the bathroom, she slammed the door behind her, with the intent of waking him up. Nothing came of it. She waited for minutes, and heard no bangs on the door, no pleads to let him in. On the counter laid her toy that she had taken from the dresser.

She racked her brain thinking of ways to wake him up, even taking it off of the counter and giving herself the all familiar feeling of it grazing across her thumb, back and forth. Doing so made her feel comfort, as if she was at home with a plate of pasta on the table.

She was home.

There was nobody to blame but him, and maybe her.

To be clear, he had did nothing wrong, per se. Except pick the wrong one last night. She seemed innocent enough, but that was a part of the hunt. She was the furthest thing from a whore, but once she got her claws into you, you could consider yourself a scar in her game.

She laughed to herself just how fun he was. The way that more drinks and more dancing was his suggestion, the way that it was his idea to listen to “her’ music. The fact that he wanted this so bad, maybe some how made it better, for her.

She silently stepped out of the bathroom, taking ease on the door, realizing how light of a sleeper he was. Toy in tact, she clicked the light on briefly to make sure he was where she thought he was.

He was.

She turned it off, and stepped on top of the bed. Just as she did, her phone vibrated, scaring the shit out of her. She flinched, and caused a vibration on the bed. Apparently not enough to wake him, as she jumped down and answered the notification that had disturbed her.

“Good morning,” it read.

She replied the same back, and then turned her phone on silent.

Climbing back onto the bed, she tried her best to evenly distribute the weight between both of her legs. Evidently she had done a good job, as he was still snoring away. She bent over and picked up his phone, and read missed texts notifications from his male counterparts before tossing it back on the bed.

It didn’t matter anyway. None of this did.

She knelt down, draping his body, end to end.

Reaching for her toy out of the pocket of her pajama bottoms, she placed her thumb against it. She smiled, and rose her thumb against the safety blade, and bled out against the only man she ever loved.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Hero For A Day

She woke up, groggy and still tired from the night before. Unsure of how she ended up in a desolate field in the middle of autumn was beyond what she could process at this point in time, so she followed through with what she knew best: to pick herself up and push forward. Exactly where she was moving forward to was still up in the air, and the thought of the mantra caused her to gaze upwards. Taking in the stillness, the calm, was something she otherwise never had the opportunity to do.

As she titled her head upwards, she allowed herself to appreciate the now golden colored leaves that sprawled above her. Unbeknownst to the open wounds on her arms and legs, still wet with plasma, she stepped forward into the vast openness ahead of her. The sky loomed ominous although there was no breeze in the air. A storm was coming, and her options of shelter were limited at best.

The bushes that lay ahead were relatively unaffected by the cold, but her wounds were starting to ache. She looked down at her arms and noticed that they were littered with dirt and small blades of grass. She was beginning to think that she had fallen down the steep hill that towered behind her. She was about to investigate the hill as she heard a rumbling in the brush. Startled for a second, she stood still and eventually dropped to the ground to play dead on the off chance that it was a predator larger than her.

The shaking continued, until a man stepped out, hunting rifle in tow. He crept forward, approaching her assumed lifeless body. Once reaching her, he knelt down beside her, one knee on the ground, gently placing the gun down with one hand while simultaneously scaling the hunting belt around his waist.

The wind picked up a tick as she squinted her left eye barely open to catch a glimpse of him.

His brown skin was lightly covered in what could best be described as brown cow hide, something that a native would wear. If his face were painted he would be a dead ringer for Tonto, or a scary close lookalike. A hunting bow wrapped around his neck and over his back, the tips of the back end of his hair bouncing off of the tip of the arrow.

The bloody openings on her arm were beginning to crust, and she could feel it happening.

The man pulled something out of a pouch that rested within his waist-belt. She heard a thud, which caused her to open her eyes briefly, to only see the man laying face down with an arrow through his chest. Blood began to pool out of him, and it took everything in her to remain motionless. She did her best ‘playing possum’ impression as a herd of footsteps drew closer.

“We’ve got one over here!”

The shout from the distance told her two things. One, she didn’t have much time, if any, to react, and secondly, that her odds had shrunk and the number of her adversaries had grown. She envisioned what she may do in her mind before actually doing it, knowing that the rifle was her last and only chance of a fair fight. As the footsteps got louder and faster, she realized that they weren’t footprints, but actually the sound of a group of horses clattering their way toward her. She heard men speaking to each other, getting closer within earshot.

Rolling over quickly, twice so she was still face down, hoping they wouldn’t notice that she re-positioned her body, she laid within reaching distance of the rifle. Seconds later, the cavalry approached her and the now dead native. The head horseman instructed the rest of his men to inspect the surrounding area for other potential threats. As they rode off, he hopped off of his horse and kicked the corpse of the man that lay a few feet in front of her. Pulling a handgun, out of his holster he let out three shots, two to his chest and one to the face, She shrieked, but the sound of the echoing gunfire masked her brief misstep.  

She knew her chance was now, while he bent down, back turned to her while he inspected the dead mans belongings. As quietly as she could, she rose to her feet and grabbed the rifle and pressed it against his back, causing him to lift his arms in the air defensively. Taking two steps forward, arms still in the air, and turned towards her.

He began to chuckle at the sight before him. A low cut blonde haired slender woman, holding a rifle almost as big as herself.

“Something fucking funny?”

“No ma’am. Was just expecting to see that one of my men had turned against me. But,” he said, adjusting his cowboy hat, “seems like you have the same idea they may have.”

“I don’t want to kill you,” she told him, her finger shaking on the trigger.

“Could ya, even if ya wanted to? You ever shot one of those things before?”

She knew his insinuation was correct, this was the first time she had ever held a gun that wasn’t aimed at beer bottles. She refused to let him intimidate her, and reached deep within her to play it off.

“Yeah, it’s actually pretty easy. You pull the trigger, like this.” She did just that, shooting him in the stomach, blowing him back a couple feet. He held his leaking wound, and reached into his holster and sent off the last shot of his life, hitting her in the leg as she dropped the gun and scampered away. The bullet hit her in the right leg, grazing her skin, just missing the bone.

The familiar sound of the men on horseback began to rattle the ground. They stopped to attend to their fallen leader as she crawled her way ahead. She knew this pace wouldn’t be sufficient to escape, so she rose back to her feet, letting out a contained painful scream. Turning her head behind her, she witnessed a couple of the men being instructed to go after her. She picked up the pace, as hurtful as it may be, and made her way into a maze of trees directly across from the hill she suspected had put her in this situation.

She felt a pinch in the middle of her arm, and was awoken by loving licks from her canine companion, Dotty, exactly where her open wounds should have been. Reaching over to her nightstand, she clicked the bedside lamp on and shook her head briefly before realizing that she had went back to the place she felt she belonged.

Her home doctor approached the bed and sat beside her.

“Did you get the bastard this time?”

She nodded. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016


The autumn leaves crunched under their feet as they continued down the walkway, rapidly approaching the school yard. Mother and daughter holding hands on the brisk Monday morning as Flora slightly tilted her head to look her matriarch in the eyes, “momma, I’m scared to start school this year. I don’t know anybody here.”

Her brunette guardian gazed down upon her creation, taking in all of the traits that she had passed on to her. Flora was like her mirror, she inherited the green eyes, the brunette locks and a soul older than the ancestors who preceded her.

The clouds resembled popcorn, evenly spread throughout the blue backdrop high above. The trees shook with grace, gently shedding the leaves that were ready to sacrifice themselves for another season. Squirrels ran amok, gathering and hiding essentials for the upcoming shift to colder temperatures. Flora’s mother was about to give her daughter the age old speech about how school was nothing to be scared of, but she thought better of it.

“You know, Flora, I know this situation has been a rough adjustment for you,” she said to the girl, knowing full well that she was wise beyond her years, “so I’m going to go against my better judgment and keep you home with me today.”

Flora’s eyes lit up for a split second, but her wisdom came with a price, as she knew almost immediately that this was too good to be true. As she calculated every possible scenario, and still feeling baffled, she stopped dead in her tracks and broke the grip between herself and her mother.

“What’s the catch?”

Her mother chuckled and looked to the ground, littered with crispy brown and red leaves from the rows of trees up ahead. The brisk wind tossed their hair in front of their face, forcing them to put it back in place simultaneously.

“No catch, kiddo. We don’t spend too much time together these days. Ever since your dad left us, it’s been hard to connect with anybody, and I know that’s no excuse, but I think we deserve a day, don’t you? I’m sure they’ll understand. We’ve been through a lot.”

Flora shook her head in agreement, turned the other way and began the trek back home. She again reached out to bond with her mother, hand and hand once more before reaching the steps of the stucco apartment building.  Walking up the stone steps, her mother unlocked the door and ushered her inside and up the stairs, and eventually into their second floor unit.

“Do you want some breakfast, Flora?”

“Yes please,” she replied with a smirk, swiping the remote and plopping in front of the TV before even removing her pale yellow fleece jacket. Her mother didn’t think that it the color fit her personality as much as say, a bright and vibrant pink or purple. She loved that her daughter was so independently minded, and didn’t give lend much credence to criticisms that she received from people whom she didn’t love.

As her mother cracked the eggs and tossed some bacon in an opposite pan, she peered over the white painted kitchen island and watched as Flora navigated her way through the channels. The TV wasn’t as big as the one they used to have, but Flora never complained about anything, as difficult as times got. The eggs began to take shape as she reached into her purse for a small set of keys that she kept inside of her half empty pack of cigarettes.

Flipping the eggs without popping the yolk and setting the spatula on the counter to the right of her, she grabbed the set of keys to open a drawer that housed a silver .357 glock handgun. She stared at it for a moment, and then placed it in her hand. She clearly wasn’t prepared for this moment, and it showed in the way the gun shook in her purple glitter paint-tipped fingers.

Without incident, she placed the gun on the counter top to flip the bacon and turn off the burner that was frying the eggs.

“Flora, go get in your pajamas, we’re not going anywhere today.”


Flora grabbed her jacket and ran off to her room, skipping down the beige carpeted hallway while humming the tune to a song she had heard on the radio. Upon her return, there was a plate with the food making up a smiling face. The two eggs were the eyes, a slice of bacon for the mouth, and one for a hairpiece, along with one slice of toast cut in half, to make up the ears. A glass of apple juice rested next to the plate.

She refused to let her fork grace the porcelain dish until she found something suitable to watch on TV. After a minute of flipping through the channels, she settled on a day time talk show that centered on paternity tests results. This show always made her laugh because the people on it were unlike anybody she’d ever encountered. She’d never seen a grown man dance around because he was not the father, and couldn’t for the life of her understand why that would be cause for celebration. She’d always wanted a sibling, but realized that being an only child was a gift, because she could pick her brothers and sisters.

Flora began cutting and chewing, as her mother remained in the kitchen, staring at the handgun that made her tremble. Gripping it once more, she now knew the feel of it. The way the smooth, cold steel caressed her palm felt like dry ice, one touch sent her a chill from the tips of her toes to the follicles of her longest strand of hair.

She began to tear up, and placed the gun back inside the drawer, locking it once and for all, as she tossed the keys down the garbage disposal and turned it on. As she reached on top of the fridge, she clutched a six inch piece of paper and told her daughter she’d be right back, as she walked the same path that Flora did mere moments ago.

She sat on the bed, Indian style, as she finally had the courage to read the obituary published three weeks ago, detailing the life of the man who took his life for what he thought was the greater good of both of them.  She wanted to tell him just how wrong he was, but couldn’t. So she whispered it as her eyes teared up, and counted to five before heading back out to the living room. Wiping her tears away as she returned down the hall, Flora remarked that breakfast was really good.

“Aw thanks, baby girl.”

She joined Flora on the couch and cuddled up to her, knowing that she was the only piece of the life left behind.

Monday, November 2, 2015


She grazed through a patch of lavender fields, disoriented and lost. She reached out to grab one of the purple sprouts, only to have it cut through her palm like a shard of glass. Blood dripped down her arm, almost reaching the sleeve of her sky blue top. A singular thread dangled from the sleeve, effectively dying it in the shade of her blood. As she stepped forth, trying her best to be the strongest woman she knew how to be, she put all her fears in the back of her mind. She wasn’t afforded the luxury of being the scared little girl she had always been up to this point.

The sunset matched the golden bands of wheat that gently strangled the lavender. She counted each step as a way to keep her mind off of the situation she found herself stuck in. One – I’m stronger than this. Two – I can do this. Three – Fuck, no I can’t.

She plopped down on of a patch of dirt in between rows of flowers. Fighting back tears, she let out a harrowing scream that scratched and clawed its way from the depths of her soul. She had no clue why she was here, but she felt that if she trekked on far enough, the answers would reveal themselves. Her denim jeans were stained with blotches of dirt all over both sides of the legs. She attempted to rub the patches out but only ended up making it worse, much like everything else she had experienced in life.

Being your own worst enemy had a way of making you confront your demons even that much harder. It was never an easy thing to accept that you were the one wearing the horns the whole time. A part of her was tempted to feel around her skull for anything protruding, but laughed off that ridiculous notion. She laughed more, mainly because she didn’t know what she found so damn funny. She was in a strange place, one she’d never been before, surrounded by nothing by purple flowers and golden skies. She was lost in the most gorgeous place she could ever dream of, but the powerful seed of dread continued to grow inside of her.

For most people, this would be all you could ever ask for. There was no pressure, no expectations,  no stress. Free from it all. Just blissful paradise, more than she ever felt she deserved. Maybe that was the problem. She felt undeserving, and didn’t know how to get away from it. She’d been to many places like this one, but not one quite as perfect as this. A part of her never wanted to leave it, but a bigger part knew it was only a matter of time before it ended up a decayed and dying patch of what once was.

Maybe there was something she could do to prevent it. As she stood up, she heard the tune of a mockingbird in a nearby bushel of lavender. Her sense of direction told her to go northeast, and she did just that. Walking forward, now stepping to the cadence of the song rather than positive thoughts she didn’t believe, she approached the bird. Instead of sitting on a bush or a nearby tree, she saw it singing from inside of a cage on the ground, to the left a wooden bench. The bench was under a tree, shrouded by shadows. The arms of the tree extended far past the bench, giving an extra three to five feet of shade.

As she made her way over to the cage, the bird stopped singing, and dropped dead where it stood. She gasped and took a few steps back, horrified at what she had just witnessed. She kept repeating to herself, “I didn’t do anything, I didn’t do anything,” and as she finished it repeating it a third time, a man in a straw hat touched her shoulder from behind.

“That’s not why.”

She gasped and woke up, staring at her ceiling fan spin on low speed. The first thing she did was wipe the cold sweats from her forehead, and reach for her phone on the end table on the left of her. One good morning text and a few notifications she could focus on later. She threw the blanket off of her and tossed the phone on the bed beside her.

She laid there still for a moment, taking it all in. The nights before, everything leading up to it, and everything that would come of it.

She breathed it in, like rain.

As she walked towards her ceiling to floor curtains, set pushed them aside to take a look at the city five stories below. The sea of both machinery and humanity complimented each other quite well on this morning, and she didn’t put her finger on why. She didn’t have anything against technology per se, but recognized that we were heading to a dangerous place, as a society. Our reliance on it was only removing us further from nature, which was an integral part of being human.

She slammed the curtains shut and climbed into the shower one room away. As the water sprayed across her, she titled her head back to soak her hair that now looked more brown than blonde. After washing and scrubbing every inch of her, she stepped over the top of the bathtub and onto the placemat directly below. The steam in the room prevented her from getting a true reflection of her, but she was more than ok with this. That was sometimes too much for her to endure, especially on days like today.

She reached for her short sleeved sky blue top and put it on. As she looked down at her sleeve, she noticed a singular thread, dyed in the shade of her blood. Her mind and heart both began racing like a racetrack in the deep summer, forcing her to relive what she had just woken up from.

Grabbing her purse and phone at once, she stormed out the door and rushed towards the elevator. She mashed away at the button to summon it to the fifth floor. After three or four attempts, she hastily decided that it was taking too long. Her panic attack was too strong to wait for this damn thing. She raced towards the stairs and flew down them, faster than she had ever run in her life.

Eventually she reached the exit door and swung it open, almost blinded by the extreme sunlight. She shut the door for a moment to allow her eyes to readjust to what she’d be stepping out into. After doing so, she heard the common place pitches from street vendors all over the sidewalks. One man across the street caught her eye in particular.

An elderly Native American man sitting at wooden table, silently. He wasn’t screaming or gesturing for anyone to buy his products, which made her even more interested. He must be confident in whatever it was he was pushing. After waiting for traffic to slow enough for her to cross, she walked up to his stand to check it out.

He was selling authentic Native American dreamcatchers and sweaters for the fall season. He looked at her in the eyes for a second, and took a deep breath before kicking his chair back and standing. He bent over the table and reached for a royal purple dreamcatcher. He held it up to her.

“You take this. Free of charge. You take this and go. Finish what you started.”

She looked on with ‘confused’ written on her face, not knowing what to make of it. Who was this man and what did he know? How did he know? She extended her hand and took it at once, rushing back to her apartment. As she walked in, the elevator was waiting for her, doors open and inviting. She stepped inside and pushed the fifth floor button and took the ride up with no stops in between.

As she walked into her apartment, she noticed that everything was different and rearranged. Her bare walls were now covered with floral wallpaper. She wanted to be offended, or maybe even freaked out by whoever did this’ lack of respect to her privacy, but she loved it too much. As she walked up to feel it, take in some of the texture, she looked down at her dining room table to see a postcard from Oregon that merely read the words, “finish it.”

It wasn’t signed, nor did it have a return address. She couldn’t recognize the hand writing either. Next to the postcard rested two singular white oval shaped pills. She picked them up and examined them, and took a stroll to her liquor cabinet. Once she pulled out the bottle of vodka, she placed it on the counter and reached for a cup from her shelf above.

She sat in a chair after bringing both the alcohol and the glass with her, and began pounding the pills to dust. Once they were powder, she cupped her hand and slid them into the glass, followed by half a cup of vodka and drank it straight until she passed out right where she sat.

She grazed through a patch of lavender fields, disoriented and lost. She reached out to grab one of the purple sprouts, only to have it cut through her palm like a shard of glass. Blood dripped down her arm, almost reaching the sleeve of her sky blue top. A singular thread dangled from the sleeve, effectively dying it in the shade of her blood. As she stepped forth, trying her best to be the strongest woman she knew how to be, she put all her fears in the back of her mind. She wasn’t afforded the luxury of being the scared little girl she had always been up to this point…

Wednesday, May 13, 2015


Episode 20
Written by Joshua Neary & Andy Mascola

Cyrus lumbered over to John and grabbed him by the shoulder, escorting him away from any window that may bring danger. Charles glanced over at the two of them for a brief second while cradling the despondent Mrs.  Margot.

“You better fucking kill them bastards!” Charles sobbed into the elderly matriarch’s shoulder. Jennifer stepped forward to attempt to console Charles, but was pushed away almost immediately. Another shot burst through a neighboring window, ricocheting off of the statue that Cyrus had previously broken. Jennifer instructed her two teammates to get low and again approached Charles.

“I can help her! It’s not too late. Please, let me try.”

“No,” Charles replied, in an authoritative tone, “you must go. NOW!’

The three took his orders in the way that they were delivered, shuffling out of the room on their forearms and knees to avoid any potential gunfire. As they reached the door, Cyrus used his long arms to turn the doorknob and let them out into the hallway. Before they could even reach their feet, John already had a complaint.

“We don’t even have a fucking plan!”

“That’s the point, “ Cyrus said back.

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

Jennifer stood up first, watching the two of them bicker on the floor like siblings with a shared birthday.

“Exactly what it sounds like it means.”

“The point of all of this is for us to defeat these people without a plan? You’re fucking losing it, man.”

“I’m not. I tried to tell you this before but you wrote it off as a drunk thing.”

“I did no such thing.”

“You did,” Cyrus replied, turning his one eye to Jennifer who nodded in agreement.

“He’s right,” she shot back, “you didn’t want to hear it. None of us did.”

“None of this is real,” Cyrus said again, just as he had on the night where they had first met Nick and Kimberly in the cabin.

“This is a game and there are rules. I’ve been here long enough to—“

John interjected.

“Are you telling us that you’re a plant?”

“What? No, no. Of course not!” Cyrus finally rose to his feet, prompting John to follow suit.

“We’re all one, John. Me, you, Jennifer, we’re all one kind. They want us to work together without instruction, or reason or even explanation. It’s about coming together, doing the right thing and fighting to preserve our kind.”

John glanced over to Jennifer and asked, “who knew he was a smart guy?” He continued on, this time addressing Cyrus?

“What about you, big fella? Do you got a plan?”

He shook his head and said yes, as he walked down the corridor, stopping at Kimberly’s room, where she still dangled, lifeless.

“What the hell are you up to?”

Cyrus chuckled and instructed Jennifer to grab a sniper rifle from Charles’ gun rack. As she rushed towards the door, she was shocked at what was unfolding in front of her. Charles and Mrs. Margot were sitting across from each other at the desk, drinking tea and exchanging stories.

“What the fu…,” Jennifer started.

“No time!” Cyrus yelled. “I can hear their chopper. To the roof while there’s still a chance of catching those bastards!”

The three ran down the hall. Cyrus tore the door to the stairway completely off the hinges and tossed it aside, narrowly missing John. The Cyclops flew up the stairs, while Jennifer, holding the rifle, and John followed as fast as they could behind.

On the roof, Cyrus jumped inside the helicopter they’d arrived in the night before, pulled on the headgear, and started the rotors.

“Does he know how to fly that thing?” John asked Jennifer while the two ran across the roof.

“How the hell would I know?” Jennifer shouted back as she pulled herself into the cockpit.

The helicopter began to lift off. Jennifer reached out for John. He took her hand and jumped aboard.

Cyrus expertly guided the helicopter into the sky and ordered his comrades to keep a look out for the enemy chopper. Fortunately, it was a clear morning and it didn’t take long before John spotted the same black chopper that had fired through the skyscraper’s window just moments before.

“There!” John yelled, over the sound of the helicopter’s blades.

“I see it!” Cyrus said with confidence as he bore down on the throttle, directing the trio’s giant metal bird toward their target at a rapidly advancing speed. “Hold on tight!”

As the team’s helicopter got closer, the pilot of the black chopper took notice and began making evasive movements to escape the blue helicopter in pursuit.

Jennifer checked the rifle, pulling the forestock back and forth.

“I’m going to take the shot!” she yelled to John.

“What?” he yelled back in disbelief.

Jennifer rested the barrel of the large gun on her shoulder and stepped out of the copter on to the skid.

“Are you crazy!?” John shouted.

“Don’t worry! I’ve got this!” she yelled back.

John watched as Jennifer spread her wings to balance herself in the rushing wind. Cyrus concentrated on getting as close to the zig-zagging black enemy helicopter in front of him. Jennifer put the butt of the rifle under her arm, raised the rifle to her eye, and squeezed the trigger. The explosion of the weapon’s firing caused an unexpected kickback, knocking the winged woman backward.

“Jennifer!” John screamed as he jumped out of the helicopter after her. Jennifer was dangling off the skid, hanging by one hand, her other hand held tightly to the rifle.

John bent down with an outstretched hand, his other hand holding the open door of the helicopter. The wind was extremely forceful, and below them, John could see morning commuter traffic zooming by. Jennifer’s hand let go.

“Nooooo!!!” John yelled. He let go of the helicopter’s door and fell toward her, grabbing Jennifer’s hand in both of his. John’s monkey tail instinctively wrapped itself tightly around the helicopter’s skid. “Let the rifle go! It’s too heavy!”

Jennifer dropped the rifle into the city below and grabbed both of John’s hands with hers. Cyrus, no longer able to see his teammates from where he sat in the cockpit, began a rapid descent. Within seconds the helicopter was hovering above morning traffic on a two-car-lane-wide bridge that spanned a rushing river below.

Cars honked and drivers yelled, but they all made space in order for the blue helicopter to land. Jennifer hugged John as their feet at last found pavement.

“Thank you,” she said.

Cyrus jumped out of the cockpit at the same time an angry commuter had come out of his car to complain about the helicopter now blocking the way.

“Hey!” the commuter yelled, “what’s the big i, i, i…” the man stammered as he watched the giant Cyclops remove his helmet, revealing a single giant eyeball in the center of his head. The deflated commuter ran back to his car and shut the door, frightened.

“No time for hugs,” Cyrus said. “Come on!”

“Did I hit them?” Jennifer asked as the three ran in and out between the honking suburban vehicles now jamming up the bridge.

“What a shot!” Cyrus shouted victoriously as he pointed to the other side of the bridge where a thick black cloud of smoke billowed from a crashed enemy chopper.

The trio walked around the wreckage of what was once a helicopter. As they marveled at the mess, police sirens could be heard not far from the bridge. They were getting louder by the second.

“Look,” John said, pointing. He saw his enemy counterpart. Merlin’s, tail was curling, black and charred, in the heat of the fiery crash.

“Marcus!” Jennifer said, pointing. Sure enough, it was Marcus, the enemy’s cycloptic counterpart to Cyrus. He’d been the black chopper’s pilot. His giant eye could be seen behind what had been the chopper’s windshield. It stared into oblivion. Both enemies were now dead.

“We better get out of here,” John said.

“Where will we go?” Cyrus asked.

John didn’t answer. Instead, he took Jennifer’s hand and walked her rapidly past the wrecked helicopter, through the traffic. Cyrus followed. As soon as the three were clear of the bridge, they walked along the river, surrounded by tall reeds. As they walked, they could hear the sirens of emergency response vehicles from the bridge. As they walked the sirens got quieter, until all they could hear was the gentle rolling of the river.

“Look,” Cyrus said, pointing.

A metal fishing boat with an outboard motor was pulled up in the sand. John and Jennifer got in. Cyrus pushed the small boat into the river, jumping in after. The Cyclops pulled the engine’s starter and steered into the current.

John and Jennifer sat in the front of the boat, side by side, holding hands. Jennifer’s wings opened into the cool morning air. John looked at her. Jennifer’s head was back, her eyes were closed, and her beautiful blond locks blew in the breeze, just like the day John had first seen her outside of the facility. He turned and looked back at Cyrus. The Cylcops smiled a big dumb grin and laughed. John smiled. They were free.


Andy Mascola’s novels can be purchased here: http://www.amazon.com/Andy-Mascola/e/B00LD7IEWK/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1