Category Archives: Stories
To pre-empt this, I read a Facebook meme/post based off the popular Tumblr stories of “The Soulmate Countdown“. Which served as an inspiration for this story, which ironically was inspired by an indy rom-com called “Timer“. So, although I can’t take credit for the concept, it shook me enough to form my own version. Think of it as a singular story in a greater shared universe. And enjoy.
To Write Love on Your Arms
It wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, not really. It didn’t change much, society, didn’t turn upside down like you’d think. I mean, unless you’re a teenage girl. Those teens nowadays, adding glitter, jewelry… “blinging” out their “Love Watches”. They view it as an Altar, social hierarchy in schools now comes down to who has the least amount of time on their hands… ironic.
Online Dating became a thing of the past. Like, if random stranger is halfway across the world… does the watch consider time change? The young ones rush around with their time bombs, clinging on to the one they see when the clock runs down. But even then, when’s the last time you took note of the exact second on your timepiece? There’s a lot of “half-hour” leeways going on. Seriously, say you’re sitting with your friend and the cutest chick sits down. Are you gonna sit and wait until the clock runs out? What if some dumpy chick walks in with two seconds to spare? Hey, don’t get mad at ME, there’s still a whole bunch of judgmental people out there. And true love is open to interpretation…apparently.
That’s why I’m glad mine was blank, has been since I was born. There’s a lot of us out there too, you’d be surprised. We usually gravitate to each other, the broken souls sticking together. Or we get jobs with lots of people around. Delivery driver, arena staff, door-to-door salesman… that kind of stuff. Hey, it’s Math, right? Just wait around until someone’s time runs out and
“HEY, would you look at that? Mine just ran out too!”
No-one checks the watch AFTER the time runs out…
So, we got married. Me and another broken soul. It happens. You know what you’re getting into. It’s a different love, I think. Not… a “true love”. Every girl wants to be a princess, no matter what they say. So, imagine the realization when the world tells you that your knight in shining armour is never coming. The divorce rate is high.
We had a decent time, two kids. Twenty years. I should’ve figured something out when she started wear long sleeves, when the “headaches” wouldn’t go away. Left me for her fucking Personal Trainer. What a goddamn cliché.
If you think dating is hard in your Twenties, by god, give dating in your Forties a try. These lonely, aging beauties. I call them Clock Watchers. It’s heart-breaking, it really is. You barely chat, barely eat. No movies, no making out. Walk in, they check their watch. Sit down to eat a fancy restaurant, check watch. The newest Rom-com with Hugh whoever? Popcorn and light up that watch. One girl even slammed a door on me, told me to come back in 23 days… yeah, I think I’ll pass on that, ever so inviting prospect.
So, I’ve settled into old age, I think. As far as I know. A nice affordable apartment, the kids are off the college so old the tap to the “unlimited flow of cash” is being cut off. My son found a nice girl in the campus library when his time ran out. And my daughter went off on a “soulmate-finder” vacation. Last I heard she’s dating some soccer player in Peru, with “plenty of time to spare” as she put it, the last time we Skyped. My timepiece looks like old and worn, like a leather belt that’s seen better days. I’ve started a great tan-line though. I think I’ll work for a couple more years, settle into retirement and play some golf.
My back. My goddamn back. Slipped a disc at work, and here I am laying in a hospital bed with some old nurse taking care of me. It wouldn’t have happened to a younger man… and I’m not a young man. God, this is stupid but would you believe sitting there all I thought about was this watch? This stupid shitty watch. This stupid shitty life and all these goddamn maybes.
Maybe I should’ve lied about love like my friends in our twenty’s.
Maybe I should’ve spent more time looking for love, than shunning it, ignoring it.
Maybe she wouldn’t have left me, if I knew how to love her back.
If this ticking watch would’ve…
Ticking. Holy SH–
“Gimme some freakin’ space will ya!” I shout, immediately regretting it. This damn nurse.
She gives me a look, a ‘listen asshole, I’ve been doing this too long to put up with your shit’ look.
“Sir,” she says, “I know this is a difficult time for you. You were in a pretty serious accident so your bodies going to need time to repair.”
No stethoscope, she checks my pulse at the wrist. Her hand is warm, it’s… it’s the first time in a while that some-ones been this close. Actually, up close she looks about my age. She stumbles. She gives me a look…I can’t figure it out.
She sighs. I can smell this fragrance. I can’t figure out the brand. I used to be so good at figuring people out, but now… I’m blanking. There’s this weird glow about her and the only thing I can do to keep focused is maintain eye-contact, must be the drugs they’re giving me… I’m trying to capture what’s she’s saying but it drips in and out.
“Alright,” she’s looking at me, she’s studying me… I think. God, I wish I could figure out what’s going on in her head. “It looks like you’re going to be spending a lot of time with me. The hernia is going to leave you bed-ridden and hospitalized quite a while.”
“How much time?” I splurt out, God what is going on with me. I’m sweating. “Am I going to be spending with you… I mean, in the bed”
She speaks in soft tones now, her eyes are this unexplainable shade of greenish blue. Like a whirlpool, and shit, I’m sinking.
“About a month for the hernia…” she says, holding up my hand. Her hand. Our hands, side by side. The show’s over, credits are rolling.
We take the jobs with lots of people around. A clumsy aging delivery driver…arena staff, door-to-door salesman… or a Nurse. No more blank, would you look at that? No more empty space waiting to be filled.
There’s a heart on mine.
A matching one on yours.
You said something after that, something cute I’m sure. Something beautiful and perfect and something so uniquely you. But I wasn’t listening. I was too busy staring into your eyes.
…And we’ll see how it goes from there.
Winnie’s a smart girl. Smart and rambunctious. She’s shy sometimes sure, but she’s young and just started school so it’s understandable. She’s very imaginative too.
It’s funny because she has this “friend”, at least I call him a friend, even though they haven’t truly met. She calls him “The Hoagie Man”, she must see him every day.
Her school is located a bit downtown, you see. How the children learn anything over the hustle and bustle of the big city I’ll never know. I think he stops there regularly every day, there’s a big internet company across the street and the lunch rush must be quite large.
He owns a food truck, I don’t recall the name. I’ve seen him once or twice while I was dropping Winnie off when she misses the bus. The first time she was very excited to show off every detail of her new school. I met all her friends from Art class, she called it Heart class, and all her teachers. Before I left I spotted him out of the corner of my eye. She must have noticed because she hiccuped and exclaimed “That’s The Hoagie Man!” before rushing inside with the rest of her classmates. The second time I saw him was after.
Like I said my daughter is very imaginative. She kept on talking about The Hoagie Man, and how she saw him. He started coming home with her, at least that’s how she put it. She must have spotted his truck alongside the bus as they make their way home. Her imagination took off from there. Soon, The Hoagie Man was following her every time she was in a moving vehicle. It became like a game to her, where even going out to the lake for a long weekend she would would spot “The Hoagie Man”. And I’d be darned because there would be a truck selling hot dogs or tacos right on the sidewalk of the public beach!
More-so than just the truck, she started seeing the man too. She would go out and play in our half-acre backyard, collecting shiny stones or colorful flowers and come in with her sweet, shy smile and say she was out playing with Hoagie Man. He became the voice when she read her books, she called them “hooks”. He was sitting next to when she was doing homework, helping with answers. He was always there with her, had helped her make sense of the things she couldn’t comprehend.
One night, she had a nightmare. She told me that The Hoagie Man had promised her something, she wouldn’t tell me what, but it made her very anxious, I could tell. She had said he was acting different from before, less friendly. Demanding things. She cried and held me tight as she whispered in my ear that he had “floated up” and hovered there, staring at her.
Things were different after that, she stopped talking about The Hoagie Man. She had gotten sick soon thereafter, a fever that ran for almost a week. She didn’t sleep, I could hear her whining through my own bouts of insomnia. Our car games were over as we would both spot a “Hoagie Man” and she would turn away from the windows.
The next time I saw “The Hoagie Man”, the real one beside her school, it was outside my work. I came outside after a stressful board meeting to get some fresh air, and there he was. I could smell that aroma, a mix of grilled onions and propane. I was hungry so I figured, “why not”? He looked at me and smiled. We stood there for a bit, me staring and him smiling, then he excused himself and asked for my order… I don’t remember what I ordered. I don’t even really remember what he looked like, I just remember that moment of us looking at each other.. And his expression, this plain smile and behind it… nothingness.
I hope you find my Winnie, and I hope you find the son of bitch who took her, officer.
But you won’t.
She called books, “hooks”. She called books, “HOOKS”
Don’t you understand?
She wasn’t saying Hoagie Man.
She was saying Bogieman.
Mike’s head buzzed around inside his skull. The night was kind to him and he was kind back, he devoured himself in the soundless drone of shot glass hitting the sugar maple that made up the bar counter. Glass on counter, glass on counter. He had given up his quest for ultimate drunkenness mere minutes ago and now was set to head home. Suddenly. The earth shook in such a mighty push Mike jerked back with such a force he was sure he would die right then and there. When he came to all he could see was the mist of cheap hand rolled cigarette smoke hit and deflect off the roof of such a low-quality establishment. Finally, when he saw a familiar face, he realized how pale everyone had become. A sickly grayish pale, a deathly pale. Their skin was stuck to the bone with no fat to fill in the spaces. And there eyes, dear lord. They reflected the very essence of Death himself. Alas, there were no dead-lights only the slow rocking of a 100-watt bulb attached to electrical cords. Mark wondered if he wasn’t looking at people, but the ghosts of people’s souls: what evil men see when they look in the mirror. Or kill. That’s when some of the booze started to wear off and he felt a cold, stabbing restriction in his heart. A trickle of blood carved a path from his head. Not from the back of his head, to Mark’s surprise, yet from his nose. The (thought to be) earthquake could not have sent him head over heels, had it? Still, the blood flowed down his nose and into his still agape mouth. The mix of blood, sweat and scotch swept forth a plethora of emotions and strange fantasies only suitable for HBO specials or Conan the Barbarian serials. A burst of sound made Mark jump to his feet and sober to half-cocked. The jukebox, it was only the sound of music.-the hills were alive with it, he snorted, but laughter only unsettled him more. There was something about the words he said that he can’t put his finger on…- Then, the lights flickered. Three quick bursts of darkness in secession followed by the power dying for 7 whole seconds. Leaving Mark’s Redneck style cheeseburger to slosh in his stomach and choose one escape route from only two directions. When the lights came back on everyone was colourful and mobile again. Mark stood frozen for 1.24 seconds and then decided to do what every man does when they are faced with the horrifying and unexplained. Mark ran. Then, thankfully, his burger chose the first route. And when Mark ran he only noticed two items of his surroundings:
1. The streets are empty
2. The streets in which I am running are vague and unfamiliar.
But these messages were not being sent to his cerebral cortex, and Mark continued to run blindly in the wasteland formerly known as his city. He ran for a time only counted in blinks. He ran for 511 blinks, and then rested refusing to blink. The sun was blotted out by a grayish blue “cloud”. It was thick, swirling and long enough to surpass the horizon in all directions. Every now and then there would be a bolt of black lightning, no dark lightning. Shadow lightning. Shadow: the absence of light, bolts of them. And through the cloud, in the distance, lumbered a hideous creature. A being not meant for eyes. Mark saw it, and instantly he cried. He wanted to run, but his knees buckled and he struggled for balance, balance and understanding. What Mark saw was almost vaguely human, though the size of God himself. The thing had a bright big smile, and glowing red eyes. But the teeth were not teeth at all but dangling, squirming tentacles that dragged across the ground. It had no face except for those eyes and those teeth, those tentacles. It sported two pincers and two grotesquely muscled legs. The legs were full of miniature tentacles spiralling and continued up onto its belly where the tentacles grew bigger but slivered off into sharp blade-like ends. On its back were wings, not two huge wings; tiny specks grazing across its back. At first Mark thought the specks were hairs, but the hairs started to move and flap like tiny “Y”s. Those “Y”s would be a lot larger in person, and far more grotesque. Then, for a mere moment, Mark locked eyes with the beast. And for the first time in his life, Mark experienced terror. Surely, it didn’t see me. Did it? The things eyes grew brighter and it started to move forward. It moved with the slowness of a snail, making sure every stomp was heard. It was if a mountain decided to walk. A mountain or a huge hill. And the hill was alive. And the hill was alive with it. And it, was evil.
The cool water chills me. Tonight is not a good night for a dip, but that’s half the fun. I take off my sweater and sweats, the guise that lets my parents think I’m going out for a jog, and stops the concerned looks of neighbours if they saw me out running in swimwear. I put my school-branded clothing onto a nearby bench; any-one out this late wouldn’t have the eyes to see them anyway.
The tide goes in, I stare at it. It’s cold, murky eyes stare back. The tide goes out; I shut out everything and let the water take me into its endless abyss. I jump, dive into the water. I take a long swim out until the need for breath consumes me. I raise myself up, treading my feet, tip-toeing the bottom of this monster. I look at the shore, a longer ways away than last time. I find a shallow part a gain my footing. I smile and dip my head into the water, breathing out as if I was talking to it.
My head jerks up; I almost choke on the salty ale. I cough and am better. I look at the clouds.
A storm is coming.
But I swear I heard a sound. A swish. Or something. It’s louder now this time. As if it was getting closer, I hear a gasp. No, a breath. Not mine, deeper, shorter. Menacing, if that makes sense.
With my better judgement, I decide to go back home. I jump, dive again. I take longer strokes, faster kicks. The need consumes. Before I go up I see a leg, I decide to go faster, take a breath when I get to shore.
The arm slices through the water.
Grabs my head, my hair. I try to get away quickly but I can’t. The strength is too much, I’m weightless underwater.
The need consumes.
I struggle. Twist and contort. I flip. Face upwards. I can’t make out anything. It’s all a blur. I stare. It’s cold, murky eyes stare back. I use my feet to kick the sand, but it flows. Like mud.
The need consumes.
Takes my shoulder now. Takes it to keep me down. It gains its footing. It’s on top of me now. My back is met with sand. We’re close to shore. But the weight is fully on me. Nowhere to move. Breath.
The need consumes.
I can’t fight much longer. Need air. Need feeling. Hand cold. The cool water chills me. Must be getting darker. Colder. Takes its head, dunks itself under the water. Lifts me.
So close. So…close. The need consumes.
Kisses me. On the cheek. Head tilts back. Lungs buckle. Can’t let water in. Can’t stop. Hear my heart. Focus. Focus…
…but. That need, the need…
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?