Monthly Archives: December 2011
In Mid-June when the days are more humid than they are hot, the town had experienced a particularly dreary day when it started to storm. This storm was black, said many of the elderly ladies. It seems in small towns that when women reach a certain age they receive a touch of witchcraft. This town had been especially blessed, mostly because of the mystical prejudices that come with being the long descendants of the horrid Salem fires. Fires where, supposedly, only the arsonistic Wiccans escaped. But that may have been just a rumour. In the towns’ local library, they sorted family history next to mythology. Just to be on the safe side.
The storm on the other hand, was no myth. Every-one noticed the dark clouds. Dark, is a simple word. Think of these clouds in the same thought as tar. Slow, methodical, menacing: these were the clouds that nightmares presented. But when the rain came, it came worse than a pour. Worse than a shower. Worse than worse. The townsfolk, who braved the rain, connected the experience to drowning. And yet when a massive cloud covered the horizon and the rain flooded the lower half of the town, the people were content, it was just a storm. And then the lightning came. The children saw them as they were bolts of shadows. If the sun shone on real lightning, and these bolts were the places where the lightning blocked out the sun. Shadow lightning became a very popular saying in the next few weeks. The adults brushed off the thought of shadow lightning, blaming in on the pigment of the clouds. Because they were scared, scared of what shadow lightning MEANT, and what it would do. A town meeting was called when the storm lasted for three weeks. And the start of the third week many clouds and showers were arriving in other rural communities and small townships. Oddly enough these areas also had a large amount of citizens who had ancestors from Essex County, Massachusetts. But the town that first experienced the clouds were also the first to experience the side-effects of the shadow lightning.
Johnson James Jenkins VI was the great-great-great-grandson of a very popular Reverend on the county line of Essex County. All of the Johnson James Jenkins were the eldest sons in families of six; three boys, three girls. All Johnson James Jenkins went on to become Reverends. All except Johnson James Jenkins VI, who was given the choice of Vietnam or Prison. He chose Vietnam. And although Johnson chose to read a verse of the bible every day of his tour of duty, he was not greeted as a hero when he returned. And certainly not as a man of god. You see, when Johnson James Jenkins was in Vietnam, he saw the face of God. And it was horrible. Yet still his return came with even more bad news when he finally read the letters his wife had given. Sadly, their son, Johnson James Jenkins VII had died in a fire. Apparently, after reading the story of Joan of Arc, he and his friends tried to re-enact it with what they thought was fake matches. And the face of God is cruel. Now, in his dying days, Johnson James Jenkins VI holds on through the frequent town hall meetings and visits from his daughter. He did not believe in much supernatural business, or natural business for that matter. And through the long squabbling that the town mayor and citizens did, his patience grew to nil. With much of his rage building he finally burst out the door in a melodramatic fashion, turning all of the worried faces.
In the pouring rain Johnson James Jenkins VI held out his hands to the dark unmoving clouds and shouted these words, “This is not a sign; this is not the end of the world. This is a storm, nothing more!”
Johnson James Jenkins VI was then struck by a bolt of shadow lightning. The first thing to happen is that Johnson became a shadow himself. Then, with excruciating pain his mouth opened and bright red light shone from his mouth and from his mouth. The last side effect of the lightning is that Johnson James Jenkins saw the face of something much worse and much crueller than God, because this face was REAL. It was the face of his father, and his grandfather, and his great-grandfather and his great-great-grandfather and his great-great-great-grandfather; all of them were burning and then he realizes that he’s burning, and the one holding the torch is his son Johnson James Jenkins VII.
The flash ended and the broken shell that was once Johnson James Jenkins VI fell into a mud-puddle. Dead. The first to rush to his side was his daughter, Jennifer. And when she went to check his pulse, she became a shadow herself.
Joanne Jane Jenkins screamed, but no sound came out, only a blinding red light that burnt her throat and bore through her eye sockets. Joanne also saw a vision that day; she was cut open from her stomach to her pelvis. She could smell the stench and feel the pain. Surrounding her were the fellow members of the Rotary club knitting with her intestines as yarn. But the worst part was what they were making looked ten-fold better that any of the pieces that hung so proudly in her house. And when she looked down, she realized that she too was holding knitting needles and bobbing and weaving. Her hands were soaked with blood. And then she saw nothing.
Another flash and Mrs. Jenkins love-struck pool-boy was shadowed, lit, and drown. Dead. The rest of town flocked back into the hall. And there they stayed until one by one they dropped. Some took the easy way out, or so they thought, and flung themselves onto the growing pile of bodies on top of the Jenkins family. They too became shadows, had lights blind and burn them and then each one would watch their own worse fears be acted out in bloody fashion. On the end of the third day only the women and children were left in the hall. All of the men had achieved death or went out to find help, unknowing of their fate. That night the clouds rotated and blinding red flashes of light were the only things to be seen out the hall’s windows. By the morning those too stopped, and with great caution the eldest of the women opened the door to see if the coast was clear, or if it was all just a horrible nightmare.
Marley Gibbs became the CEO of a well to do Insurance Firm after a secretive series of “negotiations” with her employer, a closet homosexual. The January after she became CEO the two married and both enjoyed their affairs with other men, while her husband could publicly announce that he was truly a happily married man. While Mrs. Gibbs kept her own name and enjoyed her staunch pay raise.
Marley Gibbs became the first victim of the final stage of the shadow clouds. She was eaten, from head to toe, by the corpse of Bob Harrington of Harrington’s Jewellery. When seeing the army of zombified former family members, most of the children rushed for the door in hopes of escape. The mothers of the children quickly ran after and that is how it came to be that the teenagers were the only survivors of the lightning’s holocaust.
The brave males, with zits on their face, toured the basement of the hall in quick fashion. In a closet they found two axes, a saw, and a broom. One teen took out his pocket knife and widdled the end of the broom into a spear. With the end of the world looming on them some of the guys and girls paired up and for the first and probably last time made love.
One girl sat in a corner with tears down her face. Her name was Harriet and she was crying over her lost best friend who ran out after her little brother. Susan Banner was dead and Harriet had loved her. Harriet Bouchard was an orphan and had only one friend. In school she was called Hairy Harriet because of her upper lip hair. Harriet often wondered if life was worth living. Yet, Susan Banner was always there to lift her spirits. They had become friends when they spotted each other in the doctor’s office when they were both in grade six. Susan’s mother had died in child-birth and her father did not know how to react when she hit puberty early. Harriet didn’t have anyone who cared about her. So through that day until the end of Susan’s life they were there for each other, when no-one else was. When Harriet was thrown out of the orphanage Susan offered her a room in her basement and went from best friends to sisters.
Harriet sat in the corner with her head down and wondered if life was still worth living. Then the window broke and the remnants of the decaying town members struggled to enter and feast on the succulent human flesh. Dozens of the teens died as the flocks of zombies increased with every intake of breath. Waves and waves of former community members were decapitated by the two axes wielded by the two teens with the most amount of chest hair. And finally it was down to Harriet and a few others against the walking dead, in the front Susan Banner, whose cheeks were still rosy, who was crying.
With all her might “Hairy” Harriet Bouchard grasped the saw from the slowly waking corpse of Johnny Baxter and started towards her best friend. This provided as a hearty distraction while the two boys with axes cut the numbers in half. An unnaturally blue and black blood flowed out of Susan Banner’s neck. In the puddle drips of tears were added by Harriet as she added one final, “I love you”. And then the biting started.
Harriet did not scream, or cry out in pain. Harriet didn’t wince, or run. Harriet wondered. She wondered if Hell was any worse, but doubted it. Harriet wondered.
One binder for poems and another for stories; that’s how you organize genius, he thought. Yet the sad truth was there were only two poems in one binder and the other was full of scrap paper that said, “Research this.” And, “Allude to that.” He needed something; something to write about, to express his views between the lines of horror, fiction or fantasy. Willing to write reality, but that was too real. Reality is solid, unchanging. You can’t write a metaphor about a woman picking bananas. It was just that: a woman picking bananas. Sure you could personify the fruits, slip in a hearty message about choice or what have you, and send it to a magazine for fifty dollars just to breathe for a couple more days.
Sometimes he would write plot outlines, a superhuman trying to find his place in the world while fighting for the greater good, a poor beggar child searching for her father whilst a demon-king chases her, or the dark re-telling of a popular children’s tale he had hoped for. None would get past a page. Maybe he should write double-spaced, he thought. It was dusk when he opened up the binder again. He was thinking of advertisements and the way they sold, what they needed to sell. Pondering, he could probably write a half-decent advertisement in his sleep including camera angles and special effects. He disliked hollow scripts, maybe even hated them. Substance, he thought, that’s where the Pulitzer’s go. A cold spring wind ran through the open window. Imagined closing it, then decided he liked it. He was always a fan of the cold. Throughout his life his best memories had a blanket of snow over them. His pen touches the paper, nothing. Nothing was a description so suitable, so pure. Everything could fit into nothing. Yet, he had to break his nothing streak and therefore: break everything.
Chapter 1: All the Gods
Do you believe in God? He had asked his Mother once driving into town. His Mother’s life had been told in child-friendly segments throughout his life. That’s all she had to say. She believed in something, he knew that. There were questions that pounded his Mother’s temples. Do you believe in God? Maybe. Does he believe in me?
I am no hero, he thought. You know when you watch television for too long so that when you turn it off there is an outline of the scene you were watching on the screen. He felt like that, a paused moment slowly fading and waiting to be statically alive again. To be turned on, but by what and from whom? Break the spell himself, re-iterating to himself. He would set out one day to do so. One day soon, he would.
It was twenty-six past midnight when he opened up his binder again. The furnace jangled on, the only sound besides the seldom heard snoring of his parents. Usually the scritch-scratching of his pencil on paper would drown out the other late-night sounds, but he was in a slump. The worst part was that he knew that he was in a slump and could not spin out of it. He dressed in the light of the full moon.
In his knapsack he packed a sleeping bag, a pillow, a change of clothes and some snacks. Not knowing how long he would be gone. The pockets of his blue jeans hid his wallet and cellphone. Turning off his cell phone; he set forth to defeat the day break. He stared at the woods through his bedroom window. It was an abyss of shadows and sharp edges. Staring intently at the abyss and the abyss stared back at him.
On his dresser he left a note. It was one of his best works to date. On the note was a word, the word was “Goodbye”
There was an evil in this world: Unspeakable, unflinching, and unstoppable. It was a look in a man’s eyes or a twinge in a woman’s chest that would, eventually, lead to death, or worse. People are evil, he thought, selfish, brutal, dishonest and evil. This was unfortunate because evil could disguise itself in well-meant motives. If Superman killed Lex Luther, wasn’t Superman evil?
“Well,” Super fans would dawdle, “Mr. Luther can’t attempt anything, anymore. So, no, Superman’s not evil.”
Yes, he was. They knew it, and forever would hold onto it. In the dim light of the moon, such as right now, they would remember that Superman had broken the Cardinal Rule. Superman’s soul would forever be blackened. He could almost hear her weep.
Chapter 2: The Wake
In the black of sleep and the black of night, there is no time. There is only memory. Awake and asleep, these are the things that define us. So sleep, and wake. Remember your dreams, and your wakes. Remember her, remember all of us. Memory is but ourselves, cast in characters we thought we played. We are never the main characters of the play. Awake is no act. So wake, and sleep. Memorize the scenes, the players and the set. Play your part, know your lines. Should memory fail, follow your heart, follow your dreams. Arise with the knowledge that time has passed. Arise anew in the costume you wear and sleep with the knowledge that new dreams and new memories will exist in no time.
Chapter 3: The Girl in His Dreams, of His Dreams
He dreamt of her, the immortal her. Sleep is but the fluttering images of truth, lies, hidden truths and deeper truths. He dreamt of himself, only more poignantly. Some images of himself were blurred by his own self-indulgence. Some images were not so opaque when he dreamt of them. Their future, their story, similar to a Hollywood movie only more jumbled.
She was beautiful, is beautiful. When she spoke, she sang. The times when she didn’t speak in his dreams, were even better. It was not being said. The dreamlike imagery of her tilting head ever so slightly to the side and him falling, gushing. His heart: warmer than ever before. Her eyes and his eyes would meet and everything was so clear, so indescribably cognitive. Not like when they were together, awake. Awake and together, there were doubts. The mind worked overtime and worry would take over. Was she only friendly? Only wishing to be friends? His heart would sink, walk away with doubt. Head hung in shame.
She was afraid of her own body. He wanted to hold that body. Embrace every angle and curve. She held him with friendly embraces; he wanted to meet them with romantic subtext. She looks beautiful. Why can’t he tell her that? He can’t.
It’s nothing like his dreams. The imaginary “them” running in slow motion to meet at the lips. Nothing like the thirty-five millimetre running through his cerebral cortex, every night he closes his eyes, wishing that the real-life counterparts would act like they do in his dreams. Yet still he dreams, wishes and dreams. Was he in love with a girl, or the girl in his dreams?
Chapter 4: Sunday
The wind rustled, eye fluttered open. Awake, the smell of bacon. Shuffling steps, muffled voice, a conversation or the radio. It was Sunday. He was still home. What a funny word, home. His home: not for long. Distraught, his half-remembered dream had profoundly bothered him. The thoughts of departure and smell of youth lingered through the air. It was even more disconnecting. He hid his pack under the bed, threw on a pair of pyjamas and made his way upstairs.
There, his parents were waiting, his Father sat on the couch watching highlights of last week’s game and his Mother stood in the kitchen bacon in hand, for him. Wanting to bolt out the door right then and there, his Mother held his stare. His designated spot at table waited as he backed into it. Sulkily, picking up the paper, checking the Sunday comics he smugly chuckled at Shultz’s depiction of childhood. Mother handed his juice and pills to lackadaisical hands. Pig-pen swirled around fingertips. Swirling, he tossed into a dream of dreams within dreams. Dragons hid behind the cacti. When the Dysomnia ends; he will run, never to look back.
Chapter 5: Lackadaisical Hands
We are ordinary people, ordinary clothes, smells and shapes. She changed her hair, changed again. The she disappears. Back into his subconscious, waiting for another day. The wolves see him, smell him. Chase and growl, bark, never biting, it’s not what we want. We want the scare but not the pain. We hit the wall and abruptly turn around, the wolves are gone and a lonely dark alley replaces the woods. Now we’re alone, you’re alone, he’s alone. Walk toward the lamp-post, the cement gives way to darkness. We fall, ready to wake. Ready for light and ground and for the unbearable torturing loneliness, he was ready to go away. She reappears then and you’re ready to start again
There was a blur, a motion. Someone was carrying him. Softness, a pillow on his head, a blanket came from his feet and around his throat. There was peck on his forehead. The moisture stayed on his brow, a stamp, an emblem of love. A pill, swallowed.
“Back to bed,” the voice said.
I am in a perpetual nothing cycle. I started this novel when I was eighteen am now twenty. Speaking to you, I had a bag packed ready to run away. I can’t speak to you, I realize. I must do it through “he” and you will never know when “he” ends and “I” begin. This was the only way I could tell you that whilst dreaming he did write plays and sonnets, poems and stories. He was a writer even though his thoughts never reached paper. I plan on wrapping this story soon, I want to finish it. This is what I want to tell you.
Chapter 6: Funny & Peculiar
Perspective is funny. It’s the way that we, as humans, see the world. Not just what we see, but how we see it. In dreams it’s almost too distant. It is like things are happening around you and not directly to you. That scared him. He didn’t dream as often as he liked anymore. The meds wore off and then the drowsiness went away. He started to see the world as others saw it. Human nature funny in the way it tried to recreate the things so solid in dreams. So much less solid in the real world as if they were asking the ultimate creator if their models were anything close to right. Doubt was universal; everyone was questioning their own existence. We are questioning if our dreams meant anything more than a subconscious love for pancakes. What did it matter? Perspective was fickle and could change at any moment.
Religion is peculiar. A house filled with dead angels and dead hopes bleeding from the feet. King James ruled over his peasants millennia after his death. There was a road that led to his hometown. The road was thin and fickle, always hard to rely on. At the end of the road the only thing visible was the church. As if that was the only thing important. He could always take that road and coming right back to that church. Yet, the forest-covered both sides of the paved path making it thinner than it already was. The church was so daunting, larger than it was. It had always felt further away than it appeared. Perspective was tricky business and the church had a distance to it.
Chapter 7: Love
He fell in love with every woman that he saw. First it was his neighbour, he had written her a letter when they were young telling her that he liked her. Standing at her mailbox, he ripped it up. Everyone on his school bus then fell in love with her. Then there were the two he was wedged between during school. They annoyed him, and how he secretly enjoyed it. Surrounded by fellow boys he admitted to liking one more than the other. They soon found out, the torturing stopped. His first romantic dream was about this one girl, it was a beautiful dream about them getting married and kissing like they did in the movies. He gave a rose to one girl on Valentine’s Day, but there were more popular boys with better smiles and better roses. One girl didn’t even notice when he fell hard for her in high school. He was mostly invisible those days anyway. Even now dreaming, writing, wanting to run there is a girl who he finds truly beautiful. He is unsure if she will ever know. He wished every woman fell in love with him.
Chapter 8: Blood & Fog
While driving it always felt if the world was rushing toward you and not the other way around. Like the whole world is in fast forward. Automobile death was very common. Most likely because every human being is too focused on the whole world passing them by, and then the world hits them. When I was young I played on jungle gyms. A girl and her brother were chasing each other, playing tag. I didn’t even notice until the blood started pouring from her forehead. My world stopped. I was frozen in time, numb to the shoving and screaming of my sister, pushing me to get my parents. I didn’t notice when I started running or remember what I told my mother. I was still on that playground, watching that girl’s life run over her eyes and onto her chin. Sixteen stitches, I can’t even remember how old I was, but I’ll always remember when the world stopped rushing past and just hit me.
They tell me that fog is created by warm days and cold nights. They’re just these low-laying clouds. Some say their memories and dreams are foggy. Hopes can be foggy too. I hoped to one day be a superhero, when I was a child. I prayed to God. They tell me God works in mysterious ways. I think God works in fog. It’s a mixture of sun bouncing off snow, illuminating all, and a cold, bitter wind that you turn your back to. Fog shuts you out, doesn’t let you see the obstacle in your way, until you have to manoeuvre it. They make specialty lights for fog.
My mind blinks to the beat on the radio as I drive. I click on the fog-lights. The clouds part, but just in front. The only thing not encompassed in fog is me. I drive towards the fog, never hitting it. It follows behind, waits ahead. I chase it, we all chase it. I want the fog, he turns in his sleep. The whole world is in that fog. All the memories, dreams and hopes reside there. I believe in the fog, never to touch or taste her. So, tell me reader, answer my qualms. Does the fog believe in me?