Friday, November 1, 2013

There Is No Greater Context to this Story

The chirping washes over Leroy as soon as he opens the front door. He wishes his family a goodnight against the steady intrusive noise from outside, kissing his grandmother on the top of her silver curls and waving to his sisters. He doesn't want them to have to come out, so the goodbye is brisk before he jogs off into the sweltering humidity of night’s hello.

Every little house along the road is a faint yellow dot in a cloying mist he can scarcely see through. He fans his fingers over his eyes just in case. The boundaries of his vision are the tall reeds, brown in the pale yellow cast by the houses.

The chirping only grows as he approaches the road, roaring up into a cacophony he’s too ill-studied to recognize. Are they crickets, cicadas, or toads? He can see tall reeds, but nothing else in the fog, and so can’t tell what environment they’d live in. Whatever they are, wherever they are, he can’t hear the jingling of his keys over their din, much less can he hear anything following behind him.

Leroy flips from the aquamarine key to the lipstick red key - that's the one for the car, he thinks, not thinking of anything else. It's another few long seconds of pavement before the mist yields his rusted Ford, resting on an angle against the slope leading into the roadside gutter. He can't see the bottom of that gutter, though there's obvious and erratic motion down there. Maybe water run-off, maybe fauna swarming.

He feels something stirring behind him and the hairs stand up on the back of his neck. He scratches the hairs, then unlocks the Ford and climbs into the cab, not checking behind himself, as people check on their irrational senses far less than they think. The seat groans beneath him, the first sound he's heard since leaving his grandmother’s house, beside all those bugs, or toads, out there. He lingers at the cab door, not shutting it just yet, squinting into the black-on-black night for a glimpse of what army is making that sound. He leans his head out through the frame, and something definitely stirs in the gutter.

He uses a rough palm to flatten the hairs on the back of his neck, eying the dim gutter until he remembers pre-season football is on tonight. He shuts the cab and drives off. Nothing happens to him. Nothing lurks watching him leave, except the mosquitoes that missed the opportunity to nibble on him. We promise there’s no greater context to this story. We would know; we were there watching.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Bathroom Monologue: Black Cat Monologue


"This penguin is good and thoroughly conquered! Typically, were I to best a bird, it would be properly devoured, yet this, this flightless failure among feathered creatures yields a grain of companionship. There is something to resting atop her, without complaint or wrestling, as though she needs my companionship as much as I need her pillowy nature. If there other cat asks, I will have to execute her. I hope the other cat does not ask. I'm fast taken to having this bed of bird."

For Elephant’s Child

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

True Stories of John: The Prison Transport

I’d just picked up a friend from the train. Let’s call her Gladys, because it’s a nice name and I don’t want to give her real one out. We rolled down the hill in my little Camry and onto the small concrete bridge. At the end was a stop light, with just one vehicle paused there. It was a white transport, like a short bus for school, but with state and police markings.

Waiting behind them, Gladys and I chatted idly about her job search. We looked around my empty car, to the stone walls that artistically lined either side of the bridge, and at the overcast sky. Anywhere but the police transport in front of us. There was a mix of that awkwardness about looking into other people’s cars, and the intimidation of police.

Eventually the light turned green and the transport remained at the intersection. I frowned at the transport. Then Gladys asked something.

“Is there anybody in there?”

I craned my neck and looked through their rear windows. You could see up the aisle of padded benches. There was no one in sight, even on the driver’s side. I stuck my head out the window and noticed the driver’s side door was open. So was the passenger’s exit. The transport simply sat there, engine off, under the grey light of an overcast day.

“Where do you think they went?” I asked. I didn’t have many ideas.

Gladys shifted in her seat, trying to see over the stone wall to our right. It was only a couple feet away, and only a couple feet high. On the other side was a slope leading to the river. My imagination, being my best friend, and best friends very often playing horrible tricks on you, suggested a serial killer crouched on the other side of the wall, lying in wait for a dumb enough local to get out of his car.

Gladys asked, “Should we wait?”

I didn’t know what to answer. Could you pull around a police transport? Was this a traffic sting? I felt like, at best, I would leave this intersection with a ticket.

The light went yellow, then red. No one came back. No driver, no maniac, no state troopers escorting a convict after letting him take a leak. We sat there behind this hulking vehicle, until the light turned green again.

Gladys developed this magnificent two-face act. She would look at the transport and seem pathetically nervous, then look at me like this was no big deal and I should go. She swapped between the looks dissociative brilliance. No argument had to be made; she quietly convinced me that something awful was waiting around here and we should let it be.

I gave in and pulled us around the left side of the transport. We looked through all the windows. No one was there. The driver’s side door was gaping open, and we could see through to the side of the road and the grassy hill on the other side. I turned us onto the main road and looked down the hill, expecting to see some explanation. There was no one there. We didn’t even see another car on the road for another ten miles.

There was nothing about it in the paper the next day or blotter report that weekend. I asked a couple of people who were in local law enforcement, but nobody knew what I was talking about. I never found out what was going on that day.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

It's Incorporeal Vengeance Week!

Reminder: October 28-October 30th is an open “vengeance” period for all licensed incorporeal entities. Any human beings or related physical entities who have run afoul of the dead or generally incorporeal are advised to make good on all pacts and make reparations for all indiscretions by midnight of October 27th at the very latest.

Due to the sequester, local governments will not be providing any assistance or clean-up related to such massacres.

For non-physical entities who cannot rise from the crypt or claw their way into reality for vengeance by October 30th, there is an additional grace period extending to November 28th. Applicants must have at least two signed evaluations from the government-recognized Spiritualists and Theologians List in order to qualify for the grace period. The government apologizes for the grace period closing on November 28th, but we need those department stores unhaunted for Black Friday.

To our citizens of fleshy substance, remember:
  • Practice respectful rites!
  • Make good on your pacts!
  • Avoid unnecessary transgressions against the memories of the arcane!
  • Get a costume together for the Halloween Parade of Relief on the 31st! We sure hope to see you there!
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