Saturday, July 21, 2012

Up In Flames

Gertrude and Hope gathered firewood as the sky turned a darker shade of blue, signaling sunset in the coming minutes. As Hope cradled the family of sticks in the basket of her extended forearms, Gertrude questioned why she was not shaken from the sight of her husband’s soon to be rotting skeleton.

“Well, for one, I don’t believe you. Second, I don’t believe it is Matthew, that’s not possible, and thirdly you’re not going to scare me into replacing you in this hell hole that you call home, Gertie.”

Gertrude looked on in disbelief after referring to her as ‘Gertie.’ She dropped the wood and allowed them to roll beyond her bare feet. Stepping over the scattered lumber, she stared at her youthful face.

“Why would you call me that? What do you know?”

“Excuse me?” she asked. “I didn’t mean anything by it, it was just a nickname.”

Gertrude turned her back to her and began gathering the wood once again.

“Do not call me that again. I’m not joking.”

Hope rolled her eyes at her snide comment and waited impatiently for her to finish her task. Once the wood was in her hands again, she led the way back to the cave. The visibility of their shadows decreased along with the sunlight, and by the time they arrived it was pitch black. Gertrude told her to sit tight as she grabbed a lantern from the side of the opening.

Matthew’s struggle was still ongoing, as Hope could hear her husband growing more and more frustrated with being left alone for over an hour. His grunts could clearly be heard to Hope, but it was unclear whether Gertrude was simply ignoring them or her hearing was deteriorating from old age.

With the branches still in hand, she walked over to the elderly woman and asked her where to leave them.

“Inside, place them in the fire pit.”

Hope did as she was told and dropped them within the circle of rocks that held the ash from a previous fire. She then walked over to her husband and sat to the left of his face with her legs folded.

“She will remove the spell if you cooperate. She didn’t hurt me. Her name is Gertrude and she seems like a sweet lady, she’s just tired of living this way. I think we should help her.”

 “Help her? She’s a fucking psycho,” he shot back at her, “she dragged me and you both to this place without regard for our lives and now you want to help her?”

“She didn’t hurt either of us, we’re still alive. Why don’t you ever believe in me? I trust her and I think you should too.”

“Oh, so you go for a nature walk and suddenly you have matching best friend forever rings?”

“That’s not what I said, you fucker,” sending a slap to the top of his head, “listen to me. Even if you don’t trust her, you have to trust me. Do you want to sit here paralyzed for the rest of your life? You need to trust her and not fake it. She’ll know.”

Gertrude stepped through the entrance and wasn’t the least bit shocked to see them talking. She placed a small velvet bag next to the wood that she dumped on the dirt ground beneath her.  Rubbing two sticks together like a boy scout in training until a spark arose and flames burst throughout the cavity, she clutched the bag in her hand and slithered her way over to Hope and Matthew.

“I’m gonna tell you the same thing I told her,” with her raspy voice cracking mid-sentence, “if you try to turn on me, you’ll be right back in the predicament you’re in now. If cooperating is a problem then you can lay there and rot.”

Matthew reluctantly agreed, which resulted in a variation of the same chant she performed on Hope just an hour ago. As he sat up, he realized that he was doing so too quickly and was told to take it easy by his wife. He laid back down on his back and sat up with ease, taking a deep breath before scooting closer to the fire for warmth.

“You’re getting it,” Gertrude spoke, “stay there.” She gestured to Hope to do the same. “I am going to show you something that you need to see.”

She reached into the bag and pinched a bit of blue dust between her fingers and sprinkled it atop the dancing flames. Standing aside it, she stuck her arms out and possessed the fire. Visions of a young Gertrude and a clean shaven older man with white hair and an old tuxedo sitting in a room were seen within the flare.

The room had a dozen clocks on the wall, all different designs, and the monotonous tick-tocking was heard across the bowels of the cave.

“Gertrude, you were born to do this. You know how to survive off of the land, you excel at hunting. That’s what the training was about. You were the star student since day one, and now I present you with the opportunity to save the world. You will be given the gift of eternal life for as long as you need it. Until you find a replacement or you just want to stop, but please note that if you choose to give up your position, the rest of us go along with you.”

“I understand.”

“This is a big responsibility, do you understand?”

“I do.”

“Come with me, I have to show you what you must do.”

He took her to a back room and flipped the switch on the wall before they both walked in.

“Sit down and lift up the sleeve of your shirt.”

The older gentleman reached into a desk drawer and pulled out a small black box. Clicking the latches open, he pulled out a needle and kneeled down beside her.

“You’re going to feel a tingling sensation once I inject you. It’s nothing to worry about, but you will have to do continuous doses throughout your stay. We’ll fill you in on that once you get there.”

He injected her and her face tensed up at the tingling he told her she would feel.

“There’s something else you should know. Any time you feel a semblance of the ground move, there are visitors. You can either leave them be or convince them to replace you. It is of utmost importance that you choose wisely, just as we have with you.”

“Where will I be staying?”

“Jared will fill you in with the rest. It’s time for you to begin your new life. I wish you the best of luck, Gertrude. Thank you for your upcoming sacrifices. I will ensure that your name live on forever in the name of humanity.”

Gertrude fell backwards and landed on her back, unconscious. The act of showing them this vision had obviously taken a lot out of her.

The ground began to tremble, causing Matthew and Hope to look at each other, questioning what to do next.

“You heard the man, “Matthew said, “let’s see who came to visit us.”

Friday, July 20, 2012


The look in their eyes screamed of despair as this woman who could best described as a witch continued her demonic chanting. Matthew tried to nudge his wife to get her attention but soon realized that they were placed under a spell of paralysis. While he was attempting to find a way to break the spell, she began whining and wincing, trying to get her attention.

She laughed off her attempts and saw through her charade, she stepped over to her and asked whether she was questioning her intelligence or not. 

“No, I would never think of doing such a thing,” she snapped back, “you only kidnapped me and my husband, tossed us in a cave to rot and cast some sort of fucked up spell on the both of us, but no, I’d never dream of insulting you.”

She heard a giggle coming from her husband after taking a quick glance in his direction, which put a silent smile on her face. The fact that she strong armed laughter from him in such a tense situation helped ease her stress. As Matthew looked on, noticing the woman becoming increasingly frustrated at how uncooperative she was being, he knew there’d be an opportunity to turn the tables on her.

Before he could spring the first part of his plan in action, she got on all fours and crawled towards them, looking down at the couple, face to face. With one eye fixed on Hope and the other settled on Matthew, she let them know a piece of her intentions.

“I want you to know why I’m here and why you must stay with me. We must protect this place, it is vital to do so. It’s not a job for one person and I’ve done it this way for far too long. I’m too old for this,” she said with a whimper, acknowledging her inevitable descent from her once youthful grace.

“Doesn’t seem like you’re struggling that hard, lady. You dragged me through the woods like you were Paul Bunyan, now you’re getting too old?”

“Do not call me lady, show some respect,” she lashed at him, “and yes, I am getting too old for this. Physical strength only accounts for a smidgen of what I do. The outside world, where you’re from, depends on me to do what I do. So like I said, show some respect.”

She got on her knees and then to her feet, striding over to a pit of ashes inside a circle of rocks that she set up long ago. She pointed to Hope and asked if she could trust her were she to relinquish the paralysis that was restraining her from the neck down.

“I need some help gathering firewood. If you can’t promise you won’t try to flee, I’ll just do it myself.”

Hope looked to her husband for guidance, and when he shook his head no, she did the exact opposite and agreed to her terms.

“I’ll help you.”

Grabbing the green book of spells from the table, she recited another chant and instructed Hope to wiggle her toes. Matthew looked on in frustration, knowing that his wife would be able to roam free while he would remain sequestered in the damp cave. He let his displeasure known by voicing a grunt as his wife made her way to her feet.

She followed her out of the entrance and into the baking sunlight, attempting to spark conversation while they searched for sufficient branches and logs.

“So how’d you end up here?”

“Same way you did. I won’t tell you any more, you will see it all for yourself.”

“What’s that mean?”

“In due time you will see exactly what I mean but now I have a question for you.”

“Alright, shoot.”

“Why do you stay?”

“Excuse me?”

“With him, why do you stay?”

She looked at her with disbelief oozing from her pours, “You don’t know him like I do. You don’t know what we’ve been through together.”

“Oh, but I do,” she corrected her as they slithered their way through an upcoming collection of thin bamboo. “Enough of this, you’ll see it all later on. Come. We’re close.”

Hope questioned what they were really doing out here.

“I told you, we’re grabbing firewood.”

“There’s plenty of it right here, “ she said while looking down at the sticks at their feet.

“Yes, but that is for later. Follow me or I’m dragging you back to the cave.”

“Before we continue, I’m growing tired of thinking of you as a nameless old woman. Can we put a name to your face, please?”

“Does my name really matter to you?”

“It does. It’s important to me.”

The woman thought it over before surrendering to the question.

“Gertrude. Now let’s go.”

“You look like a Gertrude. I could have guessed that.”

“Well, maybe you should have,” she said, becoming increasingly annoyed with each piece of dialogue. She held the brush open for Hope to pass through first. As she stepped out of the shade provided by natures sprawling children, she was in awe at the sheer beauty of the waterfall up ahead of her.

“What a beautiful sight, thank you for showing this to me.”

“This is not why I brought you here. This is.”

She ventured over to a patch of dirt, low on vegetation and any form of green life.

“Go on, a little behind there,” Gertrude instructed. 

As Hope peered beyond the lifeless ground and around a tree, she saw a skeleton resting in the dirt.

“Why’d you bring me here? Who is this?”

Gertrude stepped forward and looked her in the eye.

“Your husband.”

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

In The Cafe (Co-written by Ella Thomas)

I told the taxi driver to stay parked in front of the post office before I slammed the door shut. The fare was ridiculous, so I guess you could say I was doing myself a disservice by making the bill double, but I didn’t have a choice. Glenn was using my car for a stakeout and the office wasn’t exactly in walking distance. As I pulled the smooth metal handle on the glass door, I held it open for a blonde woman and her daughter to step through before I entered. She thanked me for being a gentleman and I insisted it wasn’t a big deal.

As I stepped into the main corridor, it amazed me to this day just how beautiful it was on the inside. Marble pillars holding up the ceiling shouldn’t have been wasted on a post office. I thought to myself that this place would be perfect to house a museum. The security guard, Roman,  greeted me the same way he had every week since he started working here. The badge on his jet black uniform was crooked, but he was too involved with the world inside of his phone to notice.

“You gotta put the phone down, Roman. It’s rotting your brain.”

He looked up at me with a smirk on his face, “Ha, yeah but it’s so addicting! You don’t have one?”

“Of course not, I barely like talking to people as is, why would I want them to contact me at any moment?”

He shrugged his shoulders and disregarded my comment as I fiddled around with the contents in my pocket. Pushing aside the slim wad of money to finger the key for my P.O. Box, I walked over to box number 154. I slid my key into the lock and turned until I heard a click, and pulled it open. The usual array of obligations rested inside, but behind them laid a package. As I reached for and grabbed the package I walked over to a marble platform and placed it on top.

With the key still in my hand, I used it to cut through the plastic tape to see what was in the box. Inside was a mirror with a small post it note attached.

“I want to see you. Meet me at the Brightmore Café tonight at 7. I don’t like to ask twice, I detest having to beg.”

I relinquished a small laugh to myself before pocketing the mirror and note, acknowledging Roman before I left. He wished me a good day as I walked through the corridor. I liked Roman, even though he was a pea brained imbecile who allowed technology to consume his mind.

The Arabian cab driver complained when I approached the vehicle, citing the heat as one of the many reasons he was miserable. As beads of sweat manifested on his forehead, I slapped the roof of the taxi and told him I would no longer need his services. I handed him a 50 and when he reached for change, I told him not to bother. He adjusted his Mets cap before pulling away.

As I strolled down the crowded streets of Yonkers, I couldn’t help but wonder who sent me this package. The package was without a return address, so that removed one of my leads right off the bat. The contents of it made me lean towards the sender being a female, which didn’t really add up to me. Interaction with the opposite sex was at an all-time low, so maybe I should step into the café with my guard up.

A car horn disrupted my train of thought, beeping at a pedestrian too busy on his iPhone to care of his own wellbeing. I shook my head and carried on, just blocks away from the Brightmore Café. As I crossed the street safely, the sunlight beaming down and onto a skyscraper nearly blinded me, the reflection causing me to squint into the distance.

I approached the coffee shop with loads of questions tumbling around in my head. I took a deep breath and stepped through the entrance, which sent a “ding!” throughout the store to alert the workers of a customer. I perused the setup, looking for a woman sitting alone.

Directly in front of me sat a couple sharing a bagel. I doubt she’d come here with another so it couldn’t have been her. Then a woman caught my eye. A young woman, barely in her twenties, sitting crouched up with her legs against the table, notepad resting on her knee with the end of a pen just grazing her lips. She looked up at me. I walked towards her to share her presence. She was wearing a pink Hollister low cut top and an even lower cut pair of white silk shorts.

“Are you James?” she asked me.

“I am. And you are?” She offered her hand and I took it in my own, kissing it with a soft touch, marveling at her natural beauty. If she wore make-up, it wasn’t much. Her blonde hair extended further than her shoulders, and her face was relatively small. She resembled a Hollywood starlet who refused to come to mind. Finally, before giving her hand back to her, I took a quick glance at her eyes. Her pale baby blue eyes spoke stories, novels of a Hell that she’d only dare share with her coveted readers. I couldn’t begin to fathom what she had been through.

“My name is Ella Thomas and I’ve aspired to meet you for as long as I can remember. This is a dream come true,” she said, gushing, “I’ve imagined this day many times. You’re one of the few who writes what they live. I admire that.”

I scooted my way into the seat across from her, questioning what she knew and how she knew it.

“Let’s not get into details. I have friends in high places and that’s all that matters. “

“Yeah? You make it seem like I haven’t heard about you.”

“Oh,” she shot back, “I know you have. Which makes me question why you’d even show up tonight. I wasn’t expecting you.”

Finally, he cut to the chase, “I don’t really care what you were expecting,” he remarked before calling the bartender over to their table. I came to the conclusion that she chose this café above the others because this was one of the few that actually served alcohol. It was a fact that they didn’t opt to hide, either. Calligraphy painted over a green backdrop read, “We proudly serve alcohol.” The lighting was dim, creating a night time setting even though it was still early evening. The brick walls were a nice touch and complimented the scenery very well.

The bartender slumbered over to us and asked what I’d like.

“Give me the house vodka and Sprite, and whatever the lady wants.”
The bearded, slender bartender looked in her direction. She scratched her chin while choosing her drink, ultimately on a scotch with a water.  Before she could proceed forward, the barkeep approached them both with their requested drinks and asked if they needed anything else. They both shoed him away, resulting in a simultaneous smile from the both of them.

She spoke again, “can we get down to business now?”

“Shoot,” he said, while taking a sip of his mixed drink.

She pointed to a man sitting at the bar, donning a leather jacket and sunglasses. “Wanna see me work? Let’s see if you can handle being a witness to what I do. I ask you to just sit back and enjoy,” she said with a rye smile.

“Wanna join me outside for a cigarette? I’m not really comfortable discussing this in here. At least outside we can create our own privacy.”

James studied her eyes and quickly picked up on the fact that she took it the wrong way, but he couldn’t bring himself to fault her for it. Beyond her beautiful eyes resided a damaged ice queen. Her blonde hair surrendered to the flow of the air conditioning, basking around in its continuous flow. I followed her out the door, marveling at her tremendous backside, knowing there was nothing I could possibly do with her.

She led the way and sparked her cigarette first in the parking lot before passing the lighter to me. Before I could exhale my first drag, I asked her what she sought me out for.

“Because we have a kinship. We are both killers. Are we to avoid that fact?”

“Avoid it? You haven’t a clue as to who I am, let alone what I do.”

“That’s where you’re wrong,” she snapped back.” What if I knew the real you? The one who maims and murders, but for a good cause? That’s where you and I are alike. That’s when I gained such an interest in you. I want to know more.”

I sighed at the harsh reality that somebody knew my truth, but felt as if I could trust her.

“So why do you do what you do?” I asked before putting the butt to my lips.

She flicked hers before answering, “Men are pigs. Groomed, made this way. Their way of thinking is instilled in their brains since birth, they’re all the same.”

I shook my head in agreement, billowing out a cloud of smoke that the wind swept away within seconds.

“The guy inside, you taking him home tonight?”

“I’d planned on it, but only if you watch. I have a room at the Mariott in Manhattan. Here’s a spare key,” Ella said before placing it in my palm, “Meet me there as soon as I have my claws in him.”

I thought about her proposition, but she tossed her remaining stick away as she walked towards the door. I again played follow the leader and sat at the table we called our own while she moved next to the man in the leather jacket.
“Hiya,” she chirped and as the man turned to face her, I could see a look of sudden sexual hunger flash across his face.
“Well, if you aren’t the prettiest piece of blonde cake I have seen all day. Can I get you a drink?”
“You can get me…” she began, pausing to bite at the side of her lip, “A scotch please, kind sir.”
“Please and sir, even. Looks to die for and you still have manners,” the man said as he turned his stool toward her, his hand casually brushing her leg. As she made no move to stop his advance and indeed, gave him a warm sexy smile, he put his palm on her knee and leaned closer to her. “You smell wonderful.”
“Thank you, sir,” she whispered, taking a sip of the drink as he ran his hand along the inside of her leg.
“Your skin is amazing,” he said, making no pretense to hide his desire, pushing his thumb under the silk shorts.
While he stared at her exposed flesh, she turned her head to give a quick nod to James, as she was now quite sure she set the hook deep enough.
“Listen, I’ve been walking around this city all day. Is there any chance you might be so kind as to give me a massage? I’d be mighty grateful, sir,” she said, her voice bringing a smile to his face.
“How grateful?” he said, leaning quite close to her.
She pressed her mouth against his ear and whispered, “Sir, you can do whatever you want to me. All. Night. Long.”
The man didn’t waste another moment, pulled a twenty out of his pocket and threw it on the bar. He jumped from the stool and offered his hand to Ella. I couldn’t help but smile at her brutal efficiency as the man led her from the bar less than ten minutes after she had approached him.

Less than thirty minutes passed before her hotel room door was nudged open lightly. This guy could barely contain himself, already kissing and caressing before they were even through the doorway. Ella stopped and smiled before I made my presence known.


He staggered back, shock overcoming him. “Who in the fuck are you? Ella, get him outta here, there’s some creep in your room. Call security.”

As I sat in the darkened corner with the lights off, I laughed at her response.

“I’m fairly sure the only creep in this room is you. He isn’t going anywhere. He is going to watch. Either you deal with that or leave. If you are not leaving, come here.”

She sat down on the bed and leaned back, waiting for him to join her. I put my elbows on my knees, holding my head in my hands as he slowly approached. Reading his body language, I could tell that he was uncomfortable with the situation but wouldn’t let it get in the way of getting his piece. He draped his jacket over the edge of the bed, close to where Ella’s purse rested on the floor.

He grabbed her face and kissed her lips roughly, his breathing getting a heavy as he climbed on top of her. Getting a bit more aggressive with each passing second, he ripped her shorts down and pinned her arms back. I could tell Ella didn’t like where this was headed, but I knew she was fully capable of taking care of herself.

“What about the massage?” she said.

“Fuck the massage, did you really think that’s what we were going to do?”

As he unzipped his pants and stroked himself, Ella took the opportunity to attempt an escape, but he dug his fingers into her shoulders and pushed her onto the bed like a ragdoll, her back making a thud against the headboard. She tried to roll away from him, but he pinned her to the bed, stomach against the sheets and in an instant, forced himself into her. As she let out a yelp of pain, I rose up from the chair and tossed it aside, crashing it against the lavish flower patterned carpet.

“That’s enough, get out of here. I mean it, go.”

The man’s stature alone was intimidating, and his reaction even more so. He chuckled at my order and told me he’d leave when he was done.

I grabbed the medium sized hunting knife from the sheath wrapped around my right leg and stuck it into his back. I was not sure if he was dead after the first strike, but he toppled onto Ella. She asked for my help to get him off her, so I tossed him off of her and onto the floor below where it made a huge crash.

She threw her arms around my neck and thanked me for my help before asking me for one more thing. Reaching into her bag, she pulled out a knife of similar size to the one I had used and put it on the bed.

“I’m gonna need you to lift him and put him back on the bed.”

“Oh come on! What for?”

“Would it make for much of a story if I told you why? Just do it.”

A deep sigh exited my lips as I bent down to lift him. He must have been at least two hundred and fifty pounds. I struggled to place him where she wanted him, but saw her request through.

“Now what?”

“Now you hold his head for me so I can slit his throat.”

I was confused. “Ella, he’s dying, if not dead already. There is no need.”

“You’re right, but he deserves for me to slice him for what he did. So hold his head up for me.”

Again, I did what she told me and held his head up so she could get a clean cut. A once white tee turned crimson as she slid the knife across his throat, slowly collecting in small puddles on the bed.

“James,” she said as the man expired in her arms.

“Yeah, Ella?” I sat across from her with the corpse in between us.

“Will you just hold me?”

Without hesitation, I rolled the man off the bed, leading to another thump echoing across the room. I embraced her small, slender physique, my hands sliding under her shirt and cupping her small firm breasts as I held her tightly in a pool of his blood. She turned her head to look into my eyes and I knew we’d be the perfect couple. The perfect killing couple.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Orchid

She awoke from the nap that she didn’t intend to take, rushing to the window to see blue skies and orchids sprouting from the sharp grass outside. A sense of bewilderment overcame her, knowing that she fell asleep to a world resembling a shaken snow globe, yet awoke to a picturesque summer morning. Hope frantically made her way to the door and swung it open to find an old woman standing before her.

Her grey hair barely grazed her neck and her wrinkles resembled a beach after the waves had their way with the sand that lay in front of it.

“Come with me. Your husband is in trouble. I found him half a mile north, suffering from the cold weather.”

She looked back at her, disbelief painting her face.

“Who are you and what happened to Matthew?”

“He is fine now, but he needs you more than ever. I took him in and have been nursing him all night. He asked about you and told me where to find you. Now come, we must go.”

Hope thought it over for a second or two before abrasively denying her command.

“No,” she said with a hint of rebellion in her tone, “I won’t go with you. Who’s to say that you’re even telling the truth? You come across a single woman in a cabin, of course you’re gonna assume that I have a husband. I’m sorry but I’m gonna have to ask you to leave.”

Hope clutched the handle to the door and began to slam it shut, but before she could, she felt the brute strength of this woman stopping her force. The grey haired woman pushed the door back, resulting in Hope ending up on the floor, unconscious after banging her head on the lavish coffee table provided by the resort.

In the same way she dragged Matthew through the white, fluffy chasm, she treated Hope with similar regard. As she stepped out of the doorway with Hope’s legs in her palms, she stopped to pluck an orchid from the miniature garden directly outside of the window. Hope struggled to wake up from her state of lethargy, turning her head back and forth as If she was dreaming. She mouthed the words, “Matthew, no, I’m coming for you.”

Dust kicked up behind her as she was pulled by her ankles at the will of this abnormally strong woman. With the orchid resting between her teeth, beads of sweat began to fall from her brow, lending dampness to the otherwise sun scorched land under her feet. As she rested to take a breather, she scanned the cloudless skies above and saw a trio of cardinals in flight. The red birds made their way to the pavement and strolled towards the woman, who had relinquished the grip of Hope’s feet.

As the woman approached the three birds, she was puzzled by the fact that they were receptive to her presence. She ripped the orchid from her teeth and tossed it besides Hope’s face with no regard as to where it landed. While the cardinals pecked the dirt, she reached out and snatched one by the throat, snapping its neck instantly.

The other two flew away as the elderly woman looked up to the sky and smiled to the God’s up above, thanking them for this gift that was bestowed upon her. As she kissed the bird, she placed it inside of her cleavage inside of the black v-neck shirt she donned.

“This is magical. Thank you, Lord. Thank you.”

The cave was only two hundred yards away, but she regretted not bringing a bottle of water with her for the trip. She underestimated the heat, and she knew that if she didn’t haste her way back it would be a decision she’d eternally regret. Her wrinkled fingertips clutched the flower and placed it directly beside the deceased bird. She concluded that dragging this woman was no longer a viable option, and picked her up over her shoulders and carried her to the cave.

Before sliding the rock concealing the inside of it, she tossed her to the ground like a package of unmixed cement. Once the light entered the opening, she rolled her inside. A chill was in the air due to no sunlight entering the shelter for over a day, so she didn’t bother closing it off.

Matthew and Hope still lay unconscious, side by side as she removed both items from her shirt. Placing them on a table that housed the mixture she had concocted for Matthew, she ventured over to Hope and put the orchid in her left hand before folding both hands over her chest. She then walked over to Matthew and did the same, but with the bird instead.

Standing over two of them, she grabbed a green book from the aforementioned table. A demonic chant that she read from the book echoed throughout the quarters.

“Sa-may-lek-heim, Pol-ayno-la-shay, let them be forever united, as one,” she repeated a dozen times. Their eyes opened simultaneously, and stared at each other, uncertain of what had happened to them.

“What the fuck have you done to us?!,” Matthew shrieked.

The woman giggled and stepped over them and said, “Fear not, my son. You have been given the gift of eternal life. You shall not ever leave this place. All three of us are now one, stuck here until the end of time. It’s about time I got some company.”

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Wrinkle In Time

The wind was whistling around him and slapping him at a relentless pace. It began to chafe away at his nose and lips as he trekked forth. He lifted his hand over his mouth and sighed as he looked ahead of him to see that this storm was not slowing down in the least. He stuck his right hand into the pocket of his thin jacket and pulled out a small bottle of McCormick vodka. As he twisted the cap off and took a considerable gulp, he heard heavy footsteps approaching behind him.

Matthew turned around to see nothing to match the sounds he thought he heard. He shrugged it off and continued through the snowy abyss. Wiping his lips clean of the crust that had built up from the wind, he again heard massive footprints. He dropped the bottle into the snow and, as he turned his body around to face this anonymous source, he thought he was envisioning a mirage.

An old woman, wrinkled from her forehead to her chin stepped towards him. She stopped as she met with him face to face, and pointed her cane directly to his face.

“You. You know what you’ve done, don’t you? The misery you’ve caused just by being who you are? Come with me.”

“No,” he said defiantly, “I will not go with you. You think a couple words are gonna make me trust you? Get the fuck outta here.”

“As you wish,” she said as she disappeared where she stood, dissipating into a cloud of blue dust. Matthew ran his hands down his forehead over his eyes, shaking his head to determine whether what he saw was true to life. With the bottle of vodka still in his hand, he took another sip before dropping to his knees, laughing in the face of the storm that threatened his life. The skin that lay beneath his thin cotton jacket offered no protection from the fierce predicament he found himself in. He imagined that this must be what the ice age felt like, lonely and cold, awaiting the final kiss from the reaper’s lips.

Matthew began to dig a hole to crawl in to with hopes of sheltering himself from the cold. Using his bare hands until they turned a dark shade of pink, he shoveled the snow in various directions around him. He reached into his coat to take another sip of the bottle, and let out a regretful, “fuck” upon realizing that it was no longer in his possession.

He had a decision to make, and not much time to make it in. He figured that if he were to dig up the bottle, it would provide body warmth and prove to be more beneficial than the potential tomb he was digging. On the flip side, he knew from his father’s experience in the armed forces that you could survive the intense weather with the proper preparation.

Matthew sat down on the cold, wet ground and folded his legs Indian style while pounding his fist into the snow. He shouted at the sky and damned whichever God may have wished this to be. He got up out of his crouch and again tossed away the snow without gloves on. As he continued to dig away, he looked around to see the mountain of snow that he had brushed aside.

Either a big chunk of time passed while he attempted to burrow his way to the now missing vodka, or there was more snow than he initially thought. No matter the scenario, he determined it was high time for a breather. He wrapped his arms around his head and curled into the fetal position, attempting to thwart off Mother Nature’s vicious side.

Suddenly, the wind calmed, the wintery mix stopped swirling, and the snow melted from under him. As winter evaporated and gave birth to the summer scene that he left behind from the previous night’s rest, he heard a voice behind him. The old woman approached him, baring a wooden club that shined once the light touched it. Before he could ask what she wanted this time, he was cracked in the head with the slab of wood and dragged across the dirt.

The woman reached a cave and rolled him inside before entering it herself. She stood over him and clutched a wooden bowl and mixed a concoction of paste and water with a brown wooden spoon. She dumped a bit of water on his face to bring him back to consciousness. He gasped and wiped his eyes before looking in hers.

“Where am I?” he asked her, still groggy from the blow to the head.

She laughed before answering him.

“Exactly where you should be, my child.”

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Lost In Paradise

Using every ounce of her strength to shut the door was draining the little energy she had collected from the previous night’s rest. Visibly winded as she engaged the lock, she panted like a dog in heat as she thought through her approach. There wasn’t much she could do, she awoke in a sprawl of a freezing cold. The thing that puzzled her was the fact that the climate inside of the cabin remained unchanged. Considering the stark contrast from the outside world, she decided it was best to wake her husband from his peaceful slumber.

Always a klutz, she tripped over the shoes that were scattered about the oak wood floor. She giggled to herself, knowing that Matthew would surely fire a snide remark about it. She caught herself against the wall and took a breath before stepping toward him with caution. As Mrs. Wallace sat next to her sleeping husband, she let the calmness of the moment become her. She wondered if she would be better off just sitting at the kitchen table and staring out the window until he woke up. He wouldn’t take kindly to that and she knew as much.

She rocked his shoulder back and forth until he mumbled and raised his head up from the pillow underneath his head. The string of drool followed his cheek as he pulled his head up to ask why she woke him up.

“I was actually dreaming for once, what’s the matter?”

“You have a good dream? Cause I can tell you this, no dream you were having could’ve prepared you for what you’re about to see.”

“Is this you over exaggerating again?,” he snapped back, “why don’t you go flirt with the desk clerk?”

“Because there’s no one left to flirt with.”

Matthew threw the blankets aside and rumbled towards the kitchen window.

“What in the fuck is this? What’d you do?”

“What did I do?! I can control the weather now? Get over yourself, love.”

He hated when she’d refer to him in an affectionate tone when they were bickering.

“Alright, so you woke up and what? You just realize that we’re neighbors with Santa and his legion of elves?”


“Why do you gotta break my balls? Did you look outside? We’re not prepared for this. We have no winter gear, all we have is camping supplies. So unless you know something I don’t, how about we take this a little more seriously?” He ran the faucet and placed his hand under the flowing water. “Well, we still have hot water pressure, so that’s a positive.”

“Maybe you’re taking a bit too seriously, Matthew. You said you wanted to get away from it all, so we are. Farther than you could have ever imagined. What is worrying going to do for us? Stress us out? Why not embrace the situation?”

“You’re fucking crazy,” he said before turning the knob on the faucet off. “We have two kids at home, what if we don’t come back when we’re supposed to. Your mother can’t watch them as we rot away in a cabin. It isn’t built to deal with these kinds of extreme conditions.”

She rolled her eyes and flipped her hair back before speaking.

“You don’t even know what it’s like out there. I do. I opened the door and felt the wind nearly knock me down. Maybe that would’ve been a better wake up call for you, huh?”

“Are you trying to fight with me? I don’t want to fight with you, Hope. It’s counterproductive. We’re wasting time arguing when we should be trying to figure out what the fuck we’re gonna do.”

“That’s what I’m trying to tell you! There’s nothing we can do. We just have to hope for the best.”

He grimaced at her suggestion and grabbed his light fleece jacket that rested on the kitchen chair. “I’ve never been one to just wait it out, you know this. Now you can either come with me and try to find out what’s going on here, or you can sit here and twiddle your thumbs.”

Tossing the jacket over his head and slipping his arms inside, he looked at her for an answer.


“I’m thinking.”

“Fine. You think. I’m gonna go take a look around outside and see what I find.”

He swung the door open with brute strength and braced himself to enter the freezing unknown. The wind whistled and stung his clean shaven face. He thought back to when he told her he’d prefer to keep his beard. She shot down the notion that would’ve been helpful in regards his overall warmth. Snowflakes stuck to his eyebrows and swished in front of him, clouding his vision. He could see no more than ten feet ahead of him.

It appeared his wife was staying inside, leaving him to brave this battle on his lonesome. It was a challenge that he was open to accepting. He treaded forth, the snow crunching under every step.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Cabin

It was a spur of the moment decision to rent a cabin for the weekend. He knew when he broke the news to her it would put a smile on her face, but it was at the expense of his pride. She was a country, him a city boy, and he knew that he was not well versed in being an outdoorsman. The last thing he wanted for her to think was that he was less of a man because he didn’t do something as simple as starting a campfire. Despite the uneasy feeling, he smiled along with her as they pulled into the mini-mart to grab snacks before occupying the cabin for a week.

She waited in the truck with the air conditioning blasting, pointing the output from the fan downwards to cool her legs off. The Navigator was black and thus pulled the heat towards it. She watched as he walked through the automated doors, his khaki shorts hanging low, almost touching his ankles. She giggled at the light gust of wind rippled through his white Polo shirt.

As he disappeared into the store, she took in the scenery around her. The rusted sign advertising slushies for a buck creaked in the wind and casted a shadow that swung back and forth on the pavement next to the vehicle. All things considered it turned out to be a nice day. Few clouds in the sky let the sunshine show its worth whilst being bested by occasional bursts of wind.

Before her blue eyes could soak up more of the world around her, she noticed her man stepped out of the store, plastic bags in hand. He lumbered over to the driver’s side and swung open the back door to toss the bags inside. He told her to roll the window down instead of using up the gas on the air conditioner. “There’s a nice breeze out today, no need for the AC.”

Revving up the engine, he pulled out of the mini-mart and back onto the highway for a few more miles before reaching the log cabin resort. Not a word was spoke nor was music played as they drove on, she with her gaze fixed on the depths of the trees that they passed by. He hooked left and directed the Navigator through the gravel road and into their vacation spot. He braked and turned the car off after approaching the welcome lodge. She was ready to step out with him, but he told her to wait in the car which was met with an understandable refusal.

“I already waited while you went in the store, now you want me to miss out on checking in too? Not gonna happen,” she said while looking him anger, “let’s go.”

Both doors slammed and they approached the door in which he opened, but didn’t hold for her. She scurried her way in before it closed and followed him to the desk. He already had his credit card in hand to confirm the order. As the young cashier approached them both, he remarked on her brunette hair that hung down to her shoulders. She blushed and thanked him for his compliment.

“So what can I do ya for?”

“Yeah, we’re here to claim our cabin for the week. We paid extra for the cabin suite in the back of the resort.” Laying his card on the black granite counter top, he stepped backwards and talked to her about the perceived flirting with the boy.

“Ah yes, Mr. and Mrs. Wallace, we’ve been waiting for you since you booked it. Here are the keys to the castle,” he said with a chuckle.

Mr. Wallace snatched the keys from him with attitude and made his way out of the door. This time he held the door open and she led the way back to the truck. Once they were both back inside, they followed the paved path to take them to their cabin. As they crept up on it, she was in her glory. It was exactly how she imagined, and even prettier than the pictures in the brochure.

Mrs. Wallace jolted out of the truck and into the cabin that she had dreamed of for weeks. She’d been secretly planning this trip behind her husband’s back and grabbed the opportunity by the throat once it presented itself. While he unpacked the camping gear from the back of the vehicle, she pocketed the key from the front center console and made a tour of the quarters.

The kitchen was small but tolerable, fully equipped with a stove and working refrigerator. From there she stepped into what could be considered the living room, with a 53 inch HD television set resting in the wall and a sofa against the back wall. As she gazed out the back door overlooking the deck and the lake, she heard her partner’s voice behind her.

“It’s getting dark, I’m gonna start a fire. Come outside with me.”

Hours passed from the time between watching him break apart firewood to now, when he sat next to her on the porch swing, both sets of feet slightly touching the wood beneath. He reeked of alcohol and decided it would be best to call it a night after a day of long driving and setting up camp. She agreed and hopped into the bed after he did. As she snuggled up to him, she spoke his name as she fell asleep.

“I love you, Matthew.” She kissed his head and dozed off while holding him tight.

She woke up the next morning in the same position and crawled out of bed to make her morning coffee. She yawned and rubbed her eyes to wake herself up some more after pressing the button to start the brewing process. Mrs. Wallace thought she was seeing things when she looked out the window and noticed a considerable amount of snow on the ground. This didn’t add up. New York in mid-July didn’t equate snowfall.

She stepped to the door and the touch of the doorknob chilled her to the bone. As her hand twisted it open, she could feel the blistering wind enter the cabin. Struggling to open the door, using all of her strength to do so, she stood and peered off into the distance.

There was nothing but white, heavy snow spanning for miles and miles. The once sprouting, magnificent spot of nature they chose to rest in was now nothing more than desolate, frozen tundra.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Personal Day

He looked at his reflection in the mirror as he scrubbed away at his front teeth, desperate to remove the coffee stains before his upcoming dental appointment. As he brushed away, the remnants of the toothpaste made its way into his goatee and he wiped it away before taking a deep breath. He turned the faucet’s hot knob all the way to the right and soaked his brush underneath. After washing it clean, he placed it on the right side of the sink. He turned around and washed his face with a towel that dangled over the edge of the bathtub.

Looking down at the watch on his wrist, he realized that he had just thirty-two minutes before his date with a dental professional. He tossed the towel away into the hamper as he stepped down the stairs and into the kitchen. The refrigerator door swung open and he grabbed a bottle of water to take for the road. Hasting his way into the foyer, he bent down to scoop up his size twelve steel toed work boots.

Henry was living out his later years by working second shift as a security guard at the mall. His gradual descent into a blue collar man came at the price of his son. He was once a big shot executive of a nationwide advertising agency, depression and hopelessness ran amuck throughout his head after the kidnapping of his son.

Henry knelt down and slipped his foot in each of his boots before tying the laces. Once they were tied, he made his way back to the kitchen to grab his keys that he left on the counter overnight. The keys jingled in his palm as he snatched them and made his way to the front door. As he reached for the brass doorknob, he noticed the mailman on the porch stuffing the box with monthly obligations. Oblivious to the gut wrenching blow that he dropped inside, he tipped his hat and went on his way to the next house on the block.

As he thumbed through the stack of bills he came across a smaller envelope address to Henry Rollins of 924 Oak Street. The fact that it was without a return address intrigued him, he ripped it open and tossed the others at his feet once he read the opening line.

His face trembled; he folded the letter up and put it in his back pocket. Henry paced back and forth before deciding to go back inside. Slamming the door behind him, he scurried to the kitchen table and removed the letter from where it rested. It was a struggle for him to unfold the page; he cringed as he opened it at a snail’s pace.

Once the courage was mustered, he laid it on the table in front of him and read through it.

Dear father,

It has been twelve years, six months and forty-seven days since we have last seen each other. I hope a part of you has let go. Not only of me, but of mom, too. I really hope you have come to the realization that there was nothing you could do to help. She was dying anyways, we all know that. You may be wondering, “why now?” I saw you on TV last weekend. It was a special about how advertising runs the world. Everything we do, have done or will do is influenced by guys we have never met, nor will. I know and understand the effect that my disappearance had on you and the family as a whole, but the most important thing is that I’m ok, right? Because I’m not so sure that I would be, had I stayed with you. In a way it’s like being kidnapped by men with black masks and assault rifles was the best thing that ever happened to me. It’s not like you had any interest in stopping it. I’ll never buy into your explanation regarding your whereabouts; I don’t believe that you were in a meeting at all. Maybe somewhere in that sick head of yours, you really do believe that steaming pile of horse shit that you served up to the police. If we’re being honest here (and I am), we both know that you were out drilling your secretary on your lunch break while mom lay in her death bed.. but I digress. I was better off with these people. They’re not animals, dad. They’re people. At first it was lonely, I can’t deny that, but as time went along I accepted that what I left behind paled in comparison to what I have gained. Anyways, I’m rambling and I’ve gotta head to class. Please don’t try to find me. You will be unsuccessful. I love you.

-   Cody

The digital clock on the oven read 1:08 PM. He was late for his appointment, but his disposition relayed the message that he didn’t give too much of a damn about that. Henry was never one to wear his heart on his sleeve but this letter rocked him to his core. He pounded his fist on the table and let out a grunt that came from the bowels of his stomach.

He crumpled the letter into a ball and tossed it into the trash before opening the cabinet under the sink.  Bending down, he selected a bottle of Black Velvet from his collection of spirits. He twisted the cap off and took a swig from it, wiping the whiskey from his goatee.

Henry stood up and grabbed his phone from the table and pawed through it until he found the contact labeled, ‘work.’ After three rings, the receptionist answered.

In a cold, callous tone he told her he wouldn’t be showing up to watch over the mall tonight.

“I need to take a personal day. I won’t be coming in.”  

The Customer

A man walking down the street stumbles upon a dimly lit bar, secluded from the rest of the

businesses on the street decides to go in for a drink. He's alone and looks as if he hasn't shaven

in weeks. He steps through the doorway and puts a 50 on the bar.

"Fill me up until the the Grant is spent." he remarks to the bartender.

"You got it. What would you like?" the bartender asks.

He thinks about, and replies "Scotch on the rocks will be fine for now."

The bartender reaches for the bottle of Scotch and pours the shot. The man stares inquisitvely at

alcohol swishing around the cup before it's handed to him.

"Thanks buddy, a couple more of these and I should be good to go."

The bar is pretty empty, not much business, especially for a Friday. He grabs a stool from behind

the bar and pulls it up in front of the customer as he finishes his drink.

"This one's on me." He pours another shot of Scotch in the glass and takes a seat. The customer

acknowledges this and lifts his glass to show his apprecation.

"So what brings you into my place? Not exactly the cream of the crop.. you could've went down the

street and found a more lively scene."

"Not what I'm looking for tonight. Looking for a nice calm place I can just relax and drink. I just lost

my job, my wife left me, and she took the kids. Not much else to do but sit back and drink it away."

The bartender gives a look of bewilderment, and then speaks, "Not trying to drive business away, but

you shouldn't be drinking your problems away."

"Why not? This is all I have now. I have nothing to go home to. Everything I love is gone."

"That's not true at all.." he said, "You might feel like that now, but trust me it gets better. I've been

through the same exact situation myself. It has a way of working itself out."

The customer looks up at the man with a sense of connection to him now that he has related to

his issue.

"Yeah? What was the problem - why'd she leave?"

"Cause I loved this place too much. She said I spent too much time here, but what she didn't

understand was that this was my dream. It was nice. We were married for seven years, had two

kids I don't see anymore.. she was pregnant when she left me, never seen my child to this day.

But that's besides the point, don't wanna bring you down too much. I've always wanted a small

bar - nothing too extragavant, as you can see. She took it as I didn't want to spend time with her,

that I would rather be here. That wasn't the case at all. It's alot of work, this place. Sometimes

your dreams become nightmares."

The customer stands up, and looks at his empty glass. He turns and looks back at the bartender

and says, "That makes more sense than anything I've heard in years. Thanks for the drink, I should

be going."

The bartender stands up from around the bar and comes to see the man off.

"You forgot your change."

"Keep it."

The bartender asks one last thing of this gentleman. "I never got your name."

"That's not important is it, dad?"

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Summer of Rain

Samuel stood to his feet and got into Darren’s face, grabbing him by the cheek and pulling him closer.

“If I give my life for this cause, you better make damn sure that it’s worth it. Look at me,” he said as he clutched him tighter, bringing his eyes closer to his, “I didn’t lose what I lost for nothing at all. Abbaddon and Jareth will not be taken down easily. We’re all in danger of losing this fight, so you need to listen to what I tell you, understood?”

They both peered at each other, and again back at him before nodding in agreement.

“You have to lure them in. One of you has to bait them in, don’t care which. Him or you,” he said as he waved his finger at either or, “you decide. I’ll be back in a minute, I have to grab something so we’re can properly defend ourselves.”

He turned his back and walked out of the door and into a pit of darkness. Darren turned to Sophie and told her that he loved her once more, clutching her cheek bones with a gentle touch. The fall of the castle they resided in was beginning to be too much to stand. She followed him out of the doorway that Samuel had walked out of. They heard a crash and jumped backwards to brace themselves from whatever may lay ahead.

“Give me the woman or he dies!”

Being the cynical prick that Darren was, he refused and began to send verbal shots back at him.

“None of us are afraid to die for this place! Kill him if you must, but it will get you nowhere!”

The man holding Samuel up behind his back tossed him to the floor like a scrap of garbage.

“Do you mean that? I could cut his throat right now and force you to watch him bleed out. Is that something you’d be interested in seeing?”

As he stepped forward, his features became clearer. His reddish colored beard stood out from the rest of him. It went down to his chest that was draped in a red and black flannel coat. His ripped jeans and black combat boots were reminiscent of a veteran who had fought in the most recent World War. He stood over Samuel, showcasing not a semblance of fight. He reached for and grasped a hunting knife that sat inside of his belt buckle. As he removed it and placed it to his throat, the demon from her dreams appeared behind Sophie and pushed her against a nearby wall.

Abaddon stepped forth from the presence of Samuel and joined Jareth while keeping her hostage. They both snuck off with her into a back room. Darren was pinned to a wall, unable to move until Samuel got into his face again, provoking his rage.

“What did I tell you, huh?! Didn’t I tell you?! Now she’s dead because of you! YOU!”

In a fit of emotion, Darren refuted his claims with slobber and snot flying across the corridor that he was not physically chained to. Samuel paced back and forth and approached the situation with a calmer demeanor.

“Look, they put a spell on you, ok? You can break it, it can be done, but the only way to do so is if you truly believe she’s alive. The only thing to prevent her death here, in this place, is to will it not to be. Can you do that, Darren?”

He let out a bone-chilling scream before saying yes.

“Repeat after me,” Samuel instructed him, “Your power is meaningless. You do not control me. I cannot die here. I am the rightful heir.”

Darren recited these words verbatim and felt the spell being released with every passing word. The trembling of the structure finally subsided as he broke his imprisonment and Samuel knelt down in front of him, bracing him what was to come.

The room in which Sophie was being held a threatened prisoner was a torture chamber. She was placed on the table, all limbs stretched and being cranked back by the faceless Jareth. Abaddon sat in the far corner, egging him on.

The door kicked open and Darren entered first, unarmed but with a scar across his chest. Abaddon erected himself from the chair, unknowing of Samuel’s presence waiting behind Darren. As he continued forward, he laughed in his face.

Darren laughed back, and Samuel jumped out of his crouch and sent a fatal strike through his chest and out of his back. Jareth screamed incessantly to not kill his maker. “It can’t end this way,” he shouted, “do not kill him!” Abaddon dropped to the stone floor, the sword dangling from the silk clothing he wore.

As Jareth crept on his hands and knees to the body of his beloved partner, Samuel untied Sophie from the wooden contraption. The two of them stood in front of Darren, prompting Samuel to grasp the murder weapon once more. He lifted it to his eye level and watched the blood drip down the blade.

“You know, the punishment for killing another is death to myself. Once he takes his final breath, I am gone forever. I wanted you to know that I’m ok with it. I’ve been doing this for a thousand years and I’ve had enough. I want to rest now. My kingdom is yours. Treat it with care, please.”

“Can I ask you somethin’,” Darren asked with enthusiasm in his voice.

“As long as we have the time, go on.”

The trio of them looked In the direction of Abaddon and saw a remorseful Jareth, pleading with a God that would no longer exist in a matter of minutes. Abaddon gasped and fought for his final breaths as Darren asked his question.

“You said you’ve done this for a thousand years,” Samuel nodded his head yes, “so who was before you?”

“You were,” he answered as he dissolved into a cloud of blue dust that was swept out of the window. Darren grabbed Jareth by the arm and tossed him from the same opening. He screeched for about fifteen seconds before landing on the ground below that was riddled with sharp rocks and vast vegetation.

Darren and Sophie shared a smile before stepping out of the castle and heading for a walk through the same pathway from which they came. Smoke still burrowed from the mountains as they held hands and took a stroll through the park with the benches that lay on their back ends.

They kept on their way until they stumbled across a hut that was constructed from short twigs and bricks from surrounding areas. They didn’t know who it belonged to and they didn’t care. After all, this land was theirs now.

She sat Indian style and he reciprocated, leaning forward to steal a kiss before they talked about life, past and present while dissecting what had happened tonight.

“Well, there’s a lot of work to be done,” she said as she kissed his cheek with a light press. Her words triggered a summer of rain that would wash away the evil. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012


The beaming sunlight burned as he opened his eyes and inadvertently looked in its path. He rolled over on his side and spied a scrawny blonde woman laying a few feet away, eyes open and looking into his.

“Good morning, sunshine.”

As he laid his palms flat to the pavement, he pulled himself up and stood on his feet. Grumbling a deep sigh, he looked around and saw that the scenery had been destroyed. Smoke pillared above mountains, the sky was biblically dark and park benches lay flat on their back, tipped over and without limbs. The woman remained on her side, taking in the destruction in her peripheral. She told him that it wasn’t supposed to be like this, they let it get to this point.

“Shut the fuck up. I’m thinking.”

She followed suit and rose to her feet, standing by his side. As he paced back and forth, kicking the bench he passed by, he grabbed her by the arm and dragged her through the forest with a paved pathway for them to follow.

“Have you been here before? You seem to know what you’re doing.”

He looked at her, studied her features and snapped back. “No, I’ve never been to this place. Have you? You seem to know a lot about it, saying that we did this. How could we have done it? One minute I’m shooting up with you, the next I wake up in this… place.”

“You have been here before, Darren. I remember it. I swear I do. I was by that tree back there, and you were fighting to get answers out of me. Answers that I didn’t have, and then a giant came and took you with him. I never saw you again after that.”

“Show me the tree.”

She took the lead and he followed in her wake as she walked the path they had already stepped. Again they were at the scene of the flipped benches and dismantled scenery. As she stood by the tree that she had mentioned previously, he noticed the ground was burnt. The once exceedingly bright grass was now a rough shade of brown. Some patches remained a lesser shade of green, but it was evident that somebody intended to burn it to the ground.

Loud booms were heard in the distance, he assumed they were the product of bombs or missiles being dumped across the mountains beyond them. The ground rattled, almost causing him to lose his balance as Darren approached the tree. He extended his hand hesitated before kissing the bark with his fingertips. He felt a spark enter his being and he stepped back, relinquishing the grasp of the tree.

“It’s ok,” she said as she took hold of his forearm, “you have to trust yourself. You have to know that this is right, Darren. Everything we’ve been through then and now, has led up to this. That tree will tell you everything you need to know. Please. Trust yourself.”

He shook his head to agree with her sentiment and stepped forward and rested his hand upon the tree once more. The rush of energy shot into his body again and he did not let go. He witnessed visions of being a struggling writer penning his suicide note, a woman sitting dead inside of a vehicle, purposely overdosing on heroin and getting his skull bashed in with a brick. Memories of being a hitch hiker and murdering a man in cold blood, slitting his throat with no regard for the family he may have left behind. The final part of his ecstasy was all about he and Sophie, the fact that he’d waited for her time and time again, that he would always enter her world just a bit too late.

As tears streaked down his face and down to the decaying pasture at his feet, he felt the need to let go. He did. He stepped back and wiped the tears away, initiating a sentimental embrace between the both of them. All had become clear, everything he went through in this life and past ones were in the name of her. He recognized that she had previous names and purposes in the past, but here and now she was Sophie and would remain the focus of his life for the rest of his days.

He grabbed her head and titled it back in order to make eye contact with her deep, swirling brown eyes.

“I’ll always find you. I promise you that.”

She nodded and they hugged again before Darren grabbed her hand and they went back on the path that they had originally walked. He held up a branch that would have otherwise been troublesome for a woman of her height to safely stroll past. He let her walk ahead and she asked him what the tree had shown him.

“Everything there was to see. Do you know it all, too?”

“I always have,” she said with a smirk, “I was just waiting for you. It’s against the rules to interfere.” With a sheepish tone she questioned whether he was upset that she caused him to overdose the night before.

“Absolutely not, it needed to be done. If you didn’t, I’d have found you too late again. Thank you.”

They continued on until they arrived at a monstrous stone castle like structure.

“We’re here,” he said as she stood in awe of the castle. “Wait here, you don’t need to go inside.”

She put up a fight, citing that if it were not for her they would not even be here to begin with. He laughed at the familiarity of this argument and eventually agreed with her fool proof logic. “Fine, you can come with me, but you do as I tell you under any circumstances. Got it?”

“Got it,” Sophie said as she walked up the steps to the stone entrance. It was not as he remembered it once he climbed up the stairs. The markings in the door resembled stab wounds, sliced across the body of rock, as if a group of knights in shining armor were attempting to rescue a citizen in need.

“He had keys, a set of keys. Samuel had a set of keys to open it. There’s no way we’re getting in without it.” He winced at the prospect of being unsuccessful in whatever purpose he was out to fulfill.

She pressed against the opening and it nudged a bit. “Not if it’s not locked. Help me push it open.”

They struggled to extend the door ajar and worked up a sweat by doing so. They took a break for a moment and Darren asked Sophie if she was alright to continue. She nodded yes while catching her breath, bending down with her hands on her knees.

“Alright, come on. The last time I seen him he was in this room over here.”

They walked into a dimly lit room and saw Samuel sitting with his back against the wall. His long, grey locks that once hung down to his waist was now gone. Whoever was at the door shaved his head down as a sign of disrespect.

Darren knelt down beside him and asked if he was okay, which resulted in sobbing and Samuel pushing him away.

“Leave me alone, I am not who I used to be. I cannot help you.”

“I know,” Darren said, “we are here to help you. What happened? Why is this place in ruins? Who did this?”

Before he could finish his question, the ground shook once more. Stone began to crumble and shake down from the top of this behemoth creation. All three of them watched in amazement as the stone crumbled and fell to the ground below.

With his back still against the wall, he told them of the destruction and the reason behind it.

“Not everyone is welcome here. You and her are because you’re special. You were born with a way in. Your soul, both of you, your souls are precious. When you find each other, you’re too powerful. You can overcome any hardship, any evil in the world… and they know that. They know. They searched this place up and down for you two, knowing that you’d come here in death. They’re still here searching.”

They looked at each other in disbelief, then fixed their attention on Samuel.

“I don’t want to do this anymore,” he said with a sniffle, “I want you to. I will show you how to defeat them, even if it does cost me my life. Please. End this.”

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Moving On

Raindrops clouded the vision through his glasses before stepping into the doorway and up the spiral staircase that led to his apartment.  The open window beside his kitchen countertop welcomed a soothing breeze, and the scent of rain was comforting. He placed his phone and car keys on the table and ventured his way over to the refrigerator. Looking over the contents on the side panel of the door, then next to the top shelf, he decided that nothing really caught his eye. With an indecisive look on his face, he pulled open the hydrator and pulled out a pack of deli meat and a slice of cheese.

His phone gyrated where it rested before he could open the bread box. He let out a deep rooted, “shit!” and grabbed the cell phone from the table. It was a call from a publishing company that he never really expected to hear back from.  He put the phone to his ear and the voice on the other end relayed that they were more than interested in publishing a collection of his works. Once thanking them and promising to stay in touch, he received a text message from Phil that he was sending over a woman to score some heroin from him.

The news of his impending publication meant that he could leave this lifestyle behind him at last. Coupled with the knowledge that this would be one of his final sales, he was oozing at the prospect of living a legit life. A knock was heard at the door before he could dial his father’s number. He yelled that he’d be down in a minute and slapped together a quick sandwich and hasted his way down the staircase.

He opened the door while chewing his food and offered to let the blonde addict into his home. She would never forget the first look. She felt a comfort level that was previously unmatched throughout her life, his hazel eyes deeper than any black hole. They spoke valiant speeches of courage and promises kept. She followed him to the lavish apartment decided against remarking about the crumbs that rested within his bristly beard.

It was obvious to her that his hair was dyed jet black to mask the incoming grey hairs, his face run ragged from the stress of life itself. Despite that, she found solace in the mark that living left upon him. He stood proud and chipper, but she knew that he was beaten and battered mentally. After taking the last bite of his mid-day snack, he spoke to her.

“So what do you need, miss?”

The bags under her eyes meshed into the upper part of her cheekbones. It was evident that she was riding the white horse more often than not. She was in need of the drug and it showed by the way she trembled in the face of a 90 degree day. Her hair was ravaged, almost resembling a rat’s nest. The look in her eyes screamed hopelessness. She had given up in every aspect of her life.

“I only have thirty dollars, so whatever that’ll get me. I’m not sure how you do things, everybody is different.”

“Yes, you said a mouthful. Everybody is different. Often times for reasons we’ll never understand, or even try to.” He opened the closet door and reached for a shoebox on a shelf up above. She laughed to herself and looked to the floor, twisting her body in a clockwise motion as she awaited her fix.

“What’s so funny?”

“You keep your work in a shoe box? What is this, the 80’s?”

“Ha. Whatever works, right? Here, have a seat.”

He patted the brown leather sofa cushion that grazed his right leg so she could sit beside him. He pulled out two bags that held a black tar substance within from the box resting on his knee. As she sat down next to him, he pulled both bags out and handed one to her.

“This is for you. Keep your money. I got some good news today, this is the last bag you’ll get from me. I hope you enjoy it. Tell your boy Phil that Darren is out of the game.”

“Your name is Darren, huh? Mine is Sophie. It’s nice to meet you, regardless of the circumstances.” She extended her hand for a shake but he rose up from the sofa, dismissing her advance. He told her to wait there as he went to the fridge and grabbed the jug of Tropicana orange juice. Darren lifted the container to his lips and tipped it back and down his throat.

The urge hit him to finally try some of the stuff he was pushing. The old adage of ‘don’t get high on your own supply’ no longer applied to him. He wanted to be rid of it all and move on to the next chapter of his life. Darren pulled the drawer out on the far end of the kitchen sink and pulled out a spoon. He shouted from the kitchen, “hey, come here for a second!”

She stepped into the kitchen a few seconds after he called for her.

“What’s your name again?”

“Sophie, my name is Sophie.”

“Right, right, Sophie. Come here, Sophie. Do you know how to shoot up?”

The look on her face was one of elation. He didn’t have to say no more. She snatched the spoon from his possession and turned on the hot water. Letting it run for a moment, she placed her fingers below the stream and smiled at him. The proper temperature had been reached and she turned the pressure down a bit before letting a splash of hot water rest inside the spoon.

“Go out in the living room and sit down. Grab me a shoelace, or something like it, tie it around your arm like you’re about to get blood taken and I’ll take care of the rest.”

He followed her instructions and waited for her in the other room. Sophie entered the area and held the spoon up at shoulder length, her left hand resting below to prevent the water from dripping on the carpet. As she approached him, Darren had a smile on his face and a shoelace wrapped around his right arm.

“I’ve always wanted to give this a try. What should I expect?”

With an ice cold stare, she told him to anticipate coming back for more. She asked him if he was ready for his first taste and he nodded his head yes. His smile turned to a face riddled with uncertainty as she found the vein to release the substance into. As it entered, his eyes rolled into the back of his head and he slouched back on the furniture, slipping off of it until his back leaned against the front end of the couch.

She stood over him and whispered, “It had to be you.” She kicked his body around a couple of times but was unsure if he was dead or just in a comatose state from the lethal dose. She dug through her satchel and pulled out a bottle of prescription medication. The medication was xanex and the name on the bottle read Billy Reinhart.

Sophie removed the shoelace from his arm and lay down beside him. She clutched his hand with her left and dumped a dozen or so pills into her mouth. She felt that this was right, and deep down she knew it. She knew that they would awake in that place once more.

It was just a matter of time.