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Category Archives: Supernatural Fiction

Spooky

Frank

Frank

I’m tired. I can’t remember the last time I had a good night’s sleep.

Up at 4, trudging cold through shadow and cars, bust my hump, on my feet through the long, hot days and nights. Ten hours, twelve hours, 14 hours, sure! 16 hours, 18 hours, 20 hours, more!

I stuff my body with takeaways and on-the-runs. I cannot not remember the last time I turned on a tv, or even remember seeing one on. I leave in the dark, I come home in the dark, plastic sack of shit-for-dinner rustling in my fist, wheezing from too many cigarettes, head thump-thump-thumping.

Back to the SleepShit. The Beige. A nothingnness place with borrowed and lost furniture, the whole of which would fit quite neatly into a shipping container.
Cold and dark, it smells of beige. Tastes like beige. I sleep in beige. No light from the windows. No moon, no trees. Bedsprings and bedfarts and never any dreams.

If I sleep for more than two hours at a stretch, I know I’ll actually feel not-so-shitty in the morning but I know that’s a lie too, and I lay awake, staring a the static-y dark. The broken TV of night.
I hear myself breathe, I hear myself breathe. I time my ticking heart, and I cough through the wheeze.

Sometimes I squint at the brightness of my shiny flat phone, a false moon in the deepening dark.

It delivers to me the whole world in video, the whole world in picture, the whole world in text. Sometimes it never lets me sleep at all, and I notice the waking sun and I see the battery near flat, and I realize with finality, that I have not slept, again.

I cannot go on. I cannot sleep. I cannot rise and I cannot live. I cannot go on. I must sleep.

The thought of eating makes me sick. The thought of the disgusting process we do to eat, we open our slavering insect sphincters to shove nutrients and the broiled-dead into our head-sacs and ohthesound when we chew. Sit in a room, at the mall, on a Sunday afternoon, when the place is overheated and full with the fattening damned. Close your eyes, if you dare, and listen to them. It sounds like the end-of-the-world-by-locust. Endless hunger, the endless. The thought of eating makes me sick and I know I still must. Another greasy burger, another bowl of salty chips, another fatty kebab, another cold pork sausage, another bag of cheese-flavored shit. Locust-like, I must keep ahead of the swarm, keep fueling the beast, eating and shitting and puking and pissing and blowing my nose and wiping my ass.

The beast has the day off. Saturday. Again. I should get some sleep, I always say I should. I always lie down to sleep on Friday night, knowing I can rise tomorrow as late as I wish, I can get up at dinner and have breakfast. Waffles and scotch. But when the sun rises and I’m bleary-eyed again, I know I’ll just lay awake, watching the sun move across the sky, and I get up.

I pound my flesh with scalding water, the best part of the day, warm and safe, and I feel like if I had a chair, and a comfy pillow, then I could just drift off in the steam and the rain. I slump against the cool wall, my forehead kissing the beige tiles, and I almost sleep. If it were to be anywhere, it would be there. I never bothered to think about the horrible, inevitable awakening in the cold spray, the hot long gone, shivering and sick.

Cups of tea and toast and outside to smoke a fag. Birds. People. Life. I go back inside. I contemplate the TV. I never turn it on. Think of the bed. Consider sleep. The warm blankets, the soft pillows. I go back outside and smoke. I cannot face those sweaty sheets. That close air. I’m so tired.

I pitch the smoke into the dirt patch that serves as my yard. It joins a thousand others. The visible graveyard of the death of my lungs. Many tombstones go up every day. Today will be no different.
The sky is blue, but patchy. Maybe rain later. Rain is good. Rain is relaxing. Some good thunder would really be nice. When was the last time I even heard a thunderstorm? When I was a kid, I heard them practically every week in the summer. Feels like years since the last one. Feels like years since the lightning. Feels like years since the rain.

When I went back inside, that’s when I saw the wolf.

It was sitting on my chair, my broken-down chair, tail curled around my remote control, head down on its paws, its golden-ringed eyes beaming right at me. I froze, and the screen door slammed shut behind me, and I think I jumped.

The wolf picked it’s head up, gurned a blue-toothed grin, laughed and said, “You look like terrible, Frank.”

I scoffed. “So would you if you hadn’t slept in a thousand years.” Fumbled for another smoke. Wondered if the great hairy bastard was going to eat me, and oh God, I don’t want my balls and belly chewed out. I nearly dropped the lighter, a finger-ballet of clumsiness, ultimately rescued, that ended with a satisfying lungful and that watery-stinging smoke-in-the-eye half-squint at the dripping beigeness of my nothingness place and the wolf, like some cutout in the world, crisped at the edges.

The wolf said, “You should get some sleep, Frank. You looked like toasted shit.”

I barked a laugh. “Fuck you, wolf.”

Wolf jumped down off the chair, barked at me and said, “HEY! ASSHOLE! I’m trying to help you! But hey, you wanna keep acting like a smartass, I can just go.”

Wolf cut a figure 8 while he talked, his tail held just so, invoking permissions unseen to me, at first.

He barked again and said, “We got two choices here Frank. Up to you which way those choices take us. I’m just a facilitator, Frank. I’m just a working stiff. I don’t make the choices. I just enforce ’em. Dig?”

I laughed. “Dig? Did you really just say, “Dig?” like we brothers or something?” I laughed again. “Fucking spirit animals and I get the angry henchman routine.” Opened the door and pitched the butt out into the graveyard.
When I turned back, Wolf was right up on me. His blue teeth were huge. He was staring at me.

I was backed against the wall, and I think I almost pissed myself.

“Lets. Get. Something. Straight.”, Wolf said. “You. Pathetic Dipshit. Me. Helpful assistant. We clear?”

The urge to retort, “Crystal! (sir!)” bubbled up maniacally before I kicked it in the face, I breathed deep, coupla times, looked Wolf in the eye and said, as sincerely as I could. “What. The fuck. Do you want?”

I could see small tears in the air. Shimmery rips, that eye-rubbing would not banish. Wolf gave me some breathing room, cutting circles and shapes with his body, round and round again, always staring at me, moving his head almost lazily as his body carved and conjured, swiveling round to keep me pinned with those golden-ringed eyes.

“I want what you want, Frank. I want you to get some sleep. You would like to sleep, right?”

I scratched a hairy chin. “Well, yeah. Um. Sure. That’d be really great and… yeah. Yeah I could sleep, maybe. Dunno. Been a while.” I grinned at Wolf. He threw it right back to me. “Not really tired right now, but, you know. Yeah. Eventually. Sure….you know? Maybe.”

Wolf stopped. Sat and said, “Are you shittin me Frank? You haven’t slept in fourteen hundred and eighty-some-odd days, Frank. Fourteen HUNDRED! Don’t you think its time?”

I shrugged. Laughed. “Time. I get it.” Chuckled. I asked if I could sit in my chair. Wolf moved. Watched me sit. The air seemed wrinkled. Smelled of something. I couldn’t place it. Not sweet and not burnt. But…something. I reached for a cigarette, but when I looked up, they were under Wolf’s hairy paw. Like a magic trick. I considered asking. Wolf growled, one lip peeled showing those bright blue teeth. I put the lighter away.

Wolf just stared. I stared right back at him. God he was beautiful. That pelt. Those eyes. He probably was having the reverse kinda reaction to me. Those hooves. That snout. He probably felt sick.

Finally I blurted, “Fine! I don’t want to sleep, ok? Alright? That ok with you? The fuck do you care anyway? Who asked ya!”

Before I could really get warmed up, and take the argument to dangerous places, Wolf intervened.

“YOU asked me, Frank! You!”

I stopped. Shook my head. “The hell you talking about?”

Wolf cut a figure 8. The air thickened.

“Hell is right, Frank. You made a deal remember. Late one night, drunk off your ass, high on whatever, horny as shit, bored as hell. Don’t you remember? Whispered in the darkness, trading all you have for the power – whatever pathetic thing you wanted at the time, who knows? Remember, Frank? Remember?”

My mind scrambled through the swamp of a lifetime, searching for drunken nuggets, some proof of my alleged stupidity, some fragment of evidence that would convince me or him or both that there was no way this could be true (no way there was anything legally binding, for fuck’s sake), when Wolf started laughing. A real gutbuster. I looked up him and if he could have wiped laughter tears away, he would have, and said, “Just messing with you, Frank. There’s no such thing as Hell. Well… at least, not the way you think of it. Relax.” Wolf laughed again. “Oh man, you should have seen your face. Classic.”

I threw the lighter at him, I missed by a mile. “You insufferable bastard! You made me think that…oh just fuck off, man! Go haunt somebody else!”

Wolf sobered. “I can’t, Frank. You know this. I wasn’t lying about before. You called me here. Your desperation has caused an imbalance that must be addressed. Sorrow has a peculiar vibration, through quantum acoustics, did you know that? I’m here to help. Let me. Or send me away. But choose.”

I rubbed my eyes. My head hurt. And I was so damn tired. The air was still dancing around me, and I could feel the slight pressure from the charged atmosphere on my clammy skin. Choose or die. Maybe both. So tired. Maybe I could sleep. Just for a minute. Just for five minutes. Just for a minu—-”

Wolf watched Frank slide into a sleep that would not end for a very long time. Chin-on-chest, hella bad for your neck, Wolf thought. He cut a figure 8 and carved shapes in the air with his tail.

When the final equations were complete, the vibrations melded into harmony and the air turned solid as glass for a moment, and door appeared. It had no color, no shape, no shadow. And yet. It opened and the figure of Frank, carved from bone and gristle, walked through its undoorway and into the beigeness of Frank’s living-now sleeping-room. Wolf nodded to the Unfrank. Unfrank had eyes only for his sleeping twin.

It saw with a desperate hunger, an insatiable need to feed upon the suffering that buffeted its waking mind in pulses of ecstatic lashings, an endless shoreline of hunger and lust.
Wolf spoke the Word. Unfrank finally acknowledged the Agent called Wolf. Unfrank spoke the Word.

The deal was done.

Unfrank took two strides towards sleeping Frank and vanished from the visible spectrum. Permissions were not needed, Frank had signed away his rights. Wolf had followed the Law. Frank chose to ignore it, and now it was out of his hands.

Wolf wondered how long God would let them get away with it. How long could they operate with impunity and not be called to account. Wolf knew that his hands were covered in blood. He was what he was and he would not change if he could, but he wondered, just wondered, sometimes, what if, what if God truly didn’t care about these creatures. What if all the Agents that Wolf knew did their jobs so well, that they claimed every last one of them. What then? What would Wolf become then?

Unfrank had no such existential crises. He was busy testing out the controls, playing with the mirrors, fiddling with the radio. Frank had many options. Frank was an oldie, but a goodie, a real vintage, and Unfrank couldn’t have been happier. Until Frank noticed Unfrank. Unfrank loves screaming.

Sweet dreams.

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Posted by on July 18, 2017 in Supernatural Fiction

 

The Boy in the Tailpipe

The Boy in the Tailpipe

Arnold Desadario was nine years old. He knew that because his birthday was in only three days and he would be ten, two whole numbers! He remembered his last birthday because Billy Apple had thrown up after cake and ice cream when they were playing kickball in the backyard and ever since then everyone called him Billy Barfbag, and because he got a really cool Spiderman Web-Shooter that shot a sticky dart on a string when he did the Web-Slinging-Action with his wrist. His mom said that she looked all over the city for it and he wore it everywhere, except to school cause Mrs Marsh said he couldn’t and at church cause his mom said God wanted him to listen to him and not pretend to be Spiderman, which was stupid cause he could do both.

He waved to Muglee, under his dad’s red Firebird and said, “Hi Muglee! I have to go to school but I’ll see you later, ok?” and Muglee waved back and grinned and said, “Ok Champ! See you then!”

Muglee always called him Champ. Or Sport. They were best friends.

Mom was holding his hand as they walked down the driveway to the schoolbus. She was wearing her green dress, and she was so beautiful, and he smiled up at her as she looked down at him and said, “Who’s Muglee?”

Arnold laughed. “He’s my best friend, mom, duh.”
His mom laughed too. “He is huh? But I thought Mike Zigarovich was your best friend? What happened to him?”
Arnold rolled his eyes and said, “He is mom, but he’s my school best friend. Muglee is my real best friend.”

The schoolbus was waiting at the end of the drive. The door was open and the blaring voices of his classmates drifted out to them as his mom stopped walking and knelt down in front of him, handing him his bagged lunch and straightening his hat and coat. She was always tugging at him. He squirmed, “Mom, people are watching.”

She stopped fussing and smiled at him. Hugged him and said, “Ok, Peanut. Off you go. Before anyone sees you with your old Mom.”

He hugged her back, not yet old enough to want to turn that down just yet. Turned and ran for the schoolbus. Halfway up the steps he turned to wave. His mother smiled and waved back, but Arnold was looking over his shoulder, at Muglee, who was still waving at him, from under his dad’s car. He shouted, “Bye Muglee! Have a good day!” He turned and disappeared into the shouting interior as the bus doors wheezed shut and the bus lurched away with a coughing growl. His mother frowned.


School was boring. He liked Gym where he could run around but he hated Math and English. So boring. Who cared about all that stuff? History was worse. He would almost fall asleep every day.

But all that was over, and the day was over and tomorrow there was only two whole days until his birthday! He talked about it all day with his friends and they all said he was going to get some “really cool stuff” and he thought about all the toys he had seen with his mom last week when they were at Children’s Palace, and his mind conjured a mountain of presents with him atop it, cake in one hand, his Spiderman Web-Shooter on the other.

The bus lurched and the kids screamed. The door wheezed open and Arnold walked up the aisle, saying goodbye to his friends and Muglee was waiting for him, waving and smiling. “How ya doing, Sport? Almost your birthday huh? Pretty cool!”

Arnold ran up the driveway, dropping his bookbag and fell to his knees behind the shiny red sports car.

“Yeah, its gonna be so cool! I wanna get a Shogun Warrior! And a Planet of the Apes lunchbox! And mom said I could have a banana cake this year!”

Muglee grinned and said, “Sounds great, Tiger! I have a present for you, too!”
Arnold got wide-eyed and said, “No way! Really? Wow! Thanks Muglee! Where is it?”
Muglee stopped smiling now. Looked Arnold right in the eye and said, “You gotta wait for your birthday, Champ. Those are the rules, right?”

Arnold looked sad. “Yeah. Those are the rules.”’ He brightened. “Hey! Maybe you could come to the party! Mom won’t care! You gotta meet Mike and Gary and them guys!”
Muglee’s grin reappeared, and said, “Sounds great, Sport, but I can’t come. I have to get your present ready, and I won’t be back in time.”
Arnold frowned. “You’re leaving? Why? Where are you going?”
Muglee smiled again. A real big grin this time. “Not far, Champ, not far. Don’t worry. I’m not leaving forever, butthead.”
Arnold grinned again. “You better not! I wonde—”

Mom stuck her head out the front door, yelling up the driveway, “Arnol—”, noticed him kneeling by the bumper, “There you are. What are you doing?”

Arnold got up, knees grimy, “Nothing, Mom. Talking to Muglee.”

Mom frowned, her forehead all wrinkly. “Well. Its time for homework, mister. Get your bag and come inside. I was wondering where you were.”

Arnold ran for his bag, grabbed it up by one strap and when he turned for the door, he saw Muglee was gone. He frowned. “Muglee?”

“Arnold Desadario! Get inside, now! Stop this foolishness!”
His mom looked mad. He looked again at the empty space beneath his dad’s red Firebird.
Frowned. “Coming, Mom.”

As Arnold brushed past her in the open doorway, she looked where her son had looked. Under the damn car. There was nothing. She sighed and wondered why her kid couldn’t have a normal imaginary friend like all the other kids. What kind of name was Muglee anyway? A mother’s endless list of chores swept this away as she turned back inside.

From the shadows near the tires, two narrowing eyes peered at her turning away. A low growl purred.


The police were called, of course. They took statements from nearly everyone in the neighborhood. The Desadario’s were not the most popular family, but they were friendly enough, and no one held them any malice. Half the neighborhood’s kids were at his birthday party, and all of them said the same thing, in many different ways, but the same story emerged. Arnold disappeared right after cake and ice cream.

His purported best friends, Mike Zigarovich and Gary Miller, both nine years old, mentioned that Arnold said he was getting a secret present from someone named Muglee. This casual fact was passed along to his mother months after the initial investigation had died down by a friend of the family who’s brother-in-law was on the Force and had access to the case files. Desperate for any kind of lead to alleviate the family’s suffering, he only mentioned it as a matter of crossing off all the possibilities, no matter how ridiculous.

Mrs. Desadario went off like a crazy person when Chuck told her. “Muglee? They said that? Muglee? Are you sure?”

Chuck Smith was a good man, with a good heart, and he was trying to do the right thing. But seeing the crazed light in his neighbor’s eyes made him doubt himself, and he wavered, saying “Well…as sure as a nine-year old can be, Becky. It’s probably nothing. Forget it.”

She was pacing now, and smoke chased her as the forgotten cigarette dropped ash on her aging linoleum floor. “No. I can’t forget it. Arny said that name to me. Muglee. How could I have forgotten? He said it was his best friend, and I found him sitting on the ground by Dave’s car, and he said he had been talking to Muglee! There was no one there! I thought it was just stupid kids stuff – an imaginary friend! But what if…” Her hand flew to her mouth, as horror widened her eyes.

Chuck frowned. “What if what, Becky? What if his imaginary friend dragged him off?”

She looked at him. A laugh barked out of her. “You’re right. Its stupid. I just….oh god.” Tears filled her eyes. “I just want him back!” The sorrow broke her.

Chuck held her and patted her back. He had no words for her.


His prison was pitch black and freezing cold. It was curved, like the inside of a ball. Or a tube. Like the ones inside the paper towels his mom kept on the kitchen counter on the wooden thing.

He had no clothes on and he was shivering. Always shivering. He cried pretty often. The darkness robbed him of time. He laid on the cold metal and shivered, the chill racking his body and he wailed for his Mama, for his Daddy, but they never came.

Once, Muglee let the light in. It was blinding. He never saw him, but he knew his voice. Only it wasn’t happy any more. It was mean. He begged and begged to go home. Muglee told him to shut up and he cried and cried, and then the light was gone and Muglee was gone and he sobbed and sobbed and just kept saying over and over, blubbery and thick, “I wanna go home, I wanna go home, I wanna go home”.

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2017 in Supernatural Fiction

 

The Kairee & The Apple

The Kairee & The Apple

Joshun reached up from the spot he was hiding in the old apple tree and plucked a shiny fruit and a few wizened leaves rained around him, fluttering down to the floor of the ancient jungle.

His face split, grinning, as he bit into the juicy sweetness, nectar running down his chin and throat, staining the neckline of the soiled kurta that hugged his slim frame. Humming with joy, his legs swinging in the air as he sat astride a thick, red-barked limb, he closed his eyes in delight and at that moment he missed a glimpse of his destiny.

Far below, on the winding jungle trail, traveled by few and visited by grazing deer by day and howling wolf by night, a lone figure stole through the fading dusk. Its feet were clad in leaves, and vines wrapped spindly legs that disappeared into a faded cloak of many patches, russets, browns and blacks made up the majority of the skewed geometric design, which topped out with a verdant green hood, ties ending in lashings of tiny skulls-with-antlers and the tiny pendants bounced and jigged in time to the white-eyed creature’s joyous prancing.

Long silver-streaked hair fell out of the cloak’s hood, and the mouth was busily pursed, fueling a silver flute that was pushing out a cacophony that could have passed for a jig if the sound was the least bit sane, and indeed if any humans could have heard it, it would have driven them mad in moments, and the animals and birds were driven away by the frenetic, psychedelic shrilling.

They stampeded and bolted away from the horrifying sound, and soon there was a silent swath cut through the aural landscape of this decaying and mossy jungle. A corridor of silence that was wholly unnatural.

Only the sound of one hungry boy merrily devouring a piece of fruit shattered the eerie stillness, and the dancer, the floutist, the merry jigster, stopped dead in its tracks.

Green eyes, lit with ignus fatuus, glared upwards from the deep shadows of the hood, espied Joshun, ignorant and unknowing, sitting in the tree, nearly finished with his apple. The flute was forgotten, dangling in loose, long-fingered hands, crusty with gore at the tips, and the creature’s mouth gaped.

From a jaggedly-fanged mouth a long tongue,split twice at the ends, unrolled and drooled ropes of sweet-smelling saliva onto the jungle carpet.

Hunger of a kind nearly forgotten shook its body with tremors and need, and it stared, stunned and shivering in the deepening shadows as the sun prepared to return the world to the kingdom of night.

Joshun crunched away the last of the core, spit out 4 or 5 seeds and grinned again, licking his sticky fingers and let out a crooked belch, laughed aloud, a child’s punctuation of joy, and rubbed his happy tummy. It was the tenth apple he had eaten today, and he was already looking forward to number eleven, when he noticed that the sun was almost gone, and no birds were singing.

The first rush of panic drove him to his feet, and he clutched the towering trunk, one hand to his belly, now churning with fear. How could he be so stupid! He had frittered the day away eating apples! He Da would be furious and his Ma, his Ma made his legs quiver with fear. She would be relentless. The glow-worm of the sun’s dying ray winked out, plunging the jungle into suffocating darkness and Joshun moaned aloud, and his mind rabbited.

He began to weep. He thought of his mother and his father and his brother Kotef and the memory of his family’s hut lashed him with longing and his fear doubled. The blackness ate his tears and his sobs echoed alone. Joshun realized no other creatures were making noises. Nothing scolded or howled. Bats did not swoop him, seeking his blood, and night birds were not calling to one another. This oddity dried his tears. He was not a stupid boy, a bit lazy, perhaps, and too fond of apples, but far from thick-minded.

Where were the other animals and birds? Joshun wiped his snot away and sniffed a few last times. He cocked his head and listened.

He heard nothing. Nothing at all except his own breathing, and his fear returned, but not the same, the fear this time was of things that should not be understood. His mother and his father both had repeated this to him countless times since his birth, and it drove them to beat Joshun for his curiosity, and they waggled large fingers in front of his face and warned him of things that should not be understood.

Joshun’s problem, he knew, was that he wanted to understand. Everything. Why not? Think of the wives and cattle he would have if he understood everything from the true name for the color of the sky, to the best lakes to fish on the moon, to the names for every plant and poison, and the secrets of the animals and birds! He would be fat with silver hoops around his middle, strung with gemstones from the river and precious greenstone and feathers of the dancing bird!

His young mind struggled to process the unknown.
It was quiet because he was alone. No animals, no birds.
Joshun’s eyes grew wide as he realized no flies bothered him. No mosquitoes. Even the insects had fled.

Was he dead? If this was Semaam, the shadow-world, would it look like this? He didn’t know. His uncles had told him that guides would meet him in Semaam, to show him the path that retraced his life, and that their faces would be shining. Joshun looked around, he couldn’t see anything in the pitch dark, nothing was shining, faces or anything else, and he rejected his own death.

If he wasn’t dead, then maybe he was alive, but something had driven the animals away.

Fire? He didn’t smell smoke. Giants? The ground was not shaking. Wolves? Wolves wouldn’t drive the flies away, and he didn’t hear any howling or barking.

His stomach growled, and a cramp twisted his gut. He winced and grabbed his stomach. The apples were going to have their revenge, and the sweats started as he squatted, hiking up his kurta as best he could, one hand clinging to the old tree and the other wrapped around his knifing guts. He groaned in agony as the gas pains stabbed him and a gurgling bubbled through him before the final vice-grip of pain slashed his insides and a blast of half-digested apple shit punched out of him, into space.

The creature, rapt with hunger and unable to tear its mind away from the forbidden morsel in the tree, had long since moved. The flute had disappeared into the sleeve of the patchwork cloak, and it stealthily reached the bottom of Joshun’s tree and had begun to climb while Joshun puzzled over his predicament.

It was a mere 15 metres beneath the boy when Joshun squatted to void his bowels. The spluttering, odorous explosion, followed by the many after it, rained down and around the climbing creature. It recognized the smell of waste, all creatures did, no matter where they originated, and it gave it no more thought than any other animal of the jungle would. A potential source of nutrients, no more.

It liked what it tasted, though. It wanted more. Had to have more. It was so hungry. So very hungry.

Joshun’s guts finally relaxed, and the sweat dried on his face. His stomach still hurt, and his thighs were trembling with fatigue, but the worst had passed, and he stood on shaky legs, and realized he had no way of cleaning himself, and felt slightly disgusted by this fact. He silently cursed apples, and all forms and variations of apples from now until the ends of time, when Hashima danced and the sky rained knives and arrows.

He leaned against the old tree and slowly breathed, trying to still his still quivery stomach. There was no cooling breeze to give him surcease. No moon rose with comforting light. He was truly alone.

At that moment, the creature pulled itself onto the same branch as Joshun, its movements so precise that the boy never felt even a tremor of its actions. It stood, stooped in the tangled limbs of the old apple tree, and watched the boy, smelled his odors and sensed his fear and confusion.

It was forbidden to eat the young. Laws were laws because laws were needed to govern those who would not lay any down for themselves. Gluttony only lead to oblivion, in the end.

It was so hungry, though, it had nearly forgotten the law. Carelessly, casually, allowed itself to forget.

Its long fingers clenched and unclenched, absently, so strong was the desire to tear off a piece of the youngling and gobble it up. The hunger was winning, it had been so very long, so very long, and its desire let it take a step towards the boy, and at that moment, Joshun opened his eyes.

The boy saw nothing but the same relentless darkness, as far as the eye couldn’t see. His stomach felt better, but he was hungry now, so hungry, hungrier than he had ever been, at least since this morning!

He looked up at the hanging fruit, the branches still fecund with apples, Joshun’s feast hardly noticeable among the bounty. He reached up and grabbed two, pulled and twisted and started to lean over to put them at his feet, when he noticed something was wrong. He could hear something besides himself.

It sounded familiar, but not. Like a far-away lumberjack perhaps. Or a group of men yelling from beyond the valley. Rhythmic and strange.

The creature was in Joshun’s face, smelling him, learning the boy’s particular musk. It scented all over his face, his neck and torso, his arms and his legs, and as it neared Joshun’s feet it’s milky-white eyes fell upon the two freshly-plucked apples. It gasped, reared back and let out an inhuman shriek, instantly panicked, and for a moment it became visible. Joshun screamed and wet himself, staining the already filthy kurta plastered to his grimy knees. He bolted, dropping into pitch darkness, not knowing or caring if a branch was below to catch him. The creature, still fixated on the cursed fruit, paid the fleeing boy no mind, it was spraying chemical panic signals into the air and backing away, and as it cowered, it tripped over a knobby stub of a branch and as it stumbled, the long silver flute fell from the creature’s sleeve and tumbled, silently, end-over-end, to the jungle floor below.

Joshun was still yelling in panic, for his Da mostly, but he called out to Senappa for protection and he hit a thick branch solidly, arresting his fall. He was instantly on his backside, shooting his legs out and down, windmilling for a foothold, and dropping into space, each time finding a sure foothold, as if his flight was protected by the angels and the will of the Gods. Soon he hit the jungle floor and began to flee in the direction of his village when he suddenly tripped over the silver flute and tumbled into the leaf litter, scraping a knee and he howled in pain.

He sat up, wincing, holding his knee and he spit on it, like his Ma had shown him, and the sting mostly subsided, dropping away entirely when he glanced over his shoulder and saw the long instrument poking out of the deep leaf litter. It was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen, and he reached for it with all the innocence and curiosity of a boy with nothing to call his own but his dreams and his imaginings.

As his small fingers closed around it, the metal icy cold in his warm hands, the creature, now paralytic with fear and beginning to hemorrhage from his eyes and ears, felt the touch of a human upon the Flute of the Woods, and screamed in fear as he was suddenly supplanted in the material world. The creature unraveled-in-space, his essence unspun at its most basic level, and though Joshun could not see it, he would have seen the creature suddenly spin at an angle he had never seen before and vanish quietly.

On the jungle floor, the new creature stood and picked up the Flute, brushing the crispy, dry leaves from its patchwork cloak, and its beautiful face was still that of a boy, though no longer human, but fey. Alluring features would beguile any humans who saw it, if it ever chose to let itself be seen, and its heart was filled with the joyous shout of a being that understood the vibrant web-of-life that nature has provided, and it whipped the long silver flute to its pale lips and whistled up a merry tune that welcomed all life and celebrated the joy of being. Caught up in its own happiness, the creature began to hop around, and then skip, jumping came next, and leaping in dance. The jungle was its stage and as it vanished from the visible spectrum, the new creature’s understanding deepened, and it changed the tune slightly, adding strands of longing and homecoming.

The animals returned, and the insects, the birds following both, the fish and the reptiles returned from their hiding spots and the creature moved on, through the vast jungle. In hours, the boy that his Ma and Da had called Joshun, had disappeared from any memory his parents once had. The search party that had been sent out to find the ten-year old was suddenly halted by the boy’s father, Eblon, who held up a hand and suddenly realized that the panic he had felt at his son not returning home had been nothing but a bad dream, a horrible nightmare, and why had he asked all these men to go find him? Why had he come all the way out here? What was wrong with him? As he stood, puzzled, the others looked among themselves and when Eblon said that he wanted to give up the search, he’d just had a vision from Uuke’bene, that his boy was gone.

Fell from a tree while climbing for kairee, the raw mango, the boy’s favorite. Eblon dropped to one knee, letting himself weep for the son he knew he didn’t have, hoping the men of the village would believe him and he could go home, instead of telling the truth and being laughed at, losing honor and prestige, to say nothing of what he would have to tell his wife. The men, their memories also unravelling, took him at his word and the party turned back towards the jungle village.

As the men argued over the true meaning of the god’s message, in the village of Joshun’s family, his mother suddenly dropped the clay pitcher she was using to fill a glass of water for herself. She clutched her sides and bent over, a sudden squall of tears and wailing poured from her as she finally realized that the boy that she had loved for so long was a pointless construct that she had made when she had lost her baby to the bloody flux ten years ago. All his naming-day celebrations, all he fights with her and his father, all the scraped knees and storytimes, all of them were just in her mind, and she wept for herself, for her broken dreams, for the blindness that she desperately wished would return, rushing in to smother her sorrow.

The creature danced and skipped. It played its tunes of joy, the jigs and reels of summer. It piped the death of the year, dirges and solemn marches through the winter snows. Springtime rang with love songs, beautiful lays and sonatas and Autumn bounced between celebration and sorrow. In time, the parents of the boy-who-never-was created new children, and their lives were treasured. In time, the creature will forget the world altogether, and will find comfort only in the shadows, only in the restful silence of death. In the reeling night, the dance goes on.

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2017 in Supernatural Fiction

 

The Crayon

The Crayon

When Jacab looked up from his phone, his first thought was of Yuluuf, and he looked around for the old golden retriever, and called out, “Uuf! Uufy?”
There was no sign of the old girl, and he sat up fully and looked over his shoulder, over the back of the long couch, and there she was, nosing in Dunkop’s toybox. The old dog pulled her head out and nosed among the scattered blocks, lego, twisted action men and the bits and tumbles of a child’s busy mess.
Jacab smiled and said, “What are you doing Yuly? Hey girl? Whatcha got there? Hmm? Hey? What is that? Huh?”

The large retriever wagged her tail harder and turned her head to grin at Jacab, an oversized purple crayon clenched between her yellowed teeth. Jacab laughed, and he babbled happily at her again, which made her wag her tail even harder, and she turned and ambled along the wall, her head down, like a tired horse, the thick crayon bobbing in her drooling jaws.

Jacab frowned. “Don’t eat that Yuly! Hey! Where you going? Hoi! Yuly! Here girl!”
He whistled, ululating in a call that never failed to bring the faithful dog running. She disappeared into the other room, the large dining room that Jacab’s wife treated like a shrine to her obsession of feeding others and making people happy and comfortable. Yuluuf never went in there, never would dare, not when Umbra was home, but she wasn’t and it seemed to Jacab that Yuluuf had been acting disobedient like this to him lately, the past few weeks, whenever Umbra was away, pulling double-shifts at the cafe.

Jacab stood up, turned the TV off and tossed the remote onto the table. He snatched up his empty tea cup, walked past the kitchen and into the dining room, a crinkle in his brow, frowning. He remembered that his wife had just vacuumed yesterday, and Yuluuf had been outside this morning, and likely was dropping bits of nature’s crap all over the rug and chairs.

The dog wasn’t in the dining room. She wasn’t in the family room either. He stood staring at the drawn curtains.
She couldn’t have walked past him. Could she? Jacab’s frown increased and he retraced his steps, calling out, “Yuluuf! Here girl!”, and he heard a sound up the stairs, not a bark, but maybe a voice, but no one else was home.

Jacab called for the old dog again, concerned now. Maybe she had swallowed that crayon and was choking? Up the stairs two by two, at the top, “Yuly? Where are you girl?” He walked into the master bedroom and turned his head towards the bed, and stopped dead in his tracks and gave a yelp.

Yuluuf was standing on the bed, facing the wall, crayon still in her mouth, a bit crookedly now, her head up and smiling, her soft brown eye turned towards Jacab, excitement and love in the look.

Written on the wall, in very shaky purple letters, was, “hELLo JAcAB”.

Jacab’s hand went to his cover his open mouth, eyes wide, flicking between the wall and his wife’s 19 year old golden retriever bitch. His dog could talk! He grinned and gaped at the impossible.

Yuluuf barked once, high-pitched and happy, the gooby purple crayon fell to the bed, got stepped on and crunched when the old girl bounded around the bed and then dropped down in front of Jacab. The old dog sat happily in front of him, mouth open, tongue out, tail wagging furiously, as if waiting for Jacab to play like they used to, when things were different, when there was more time.

She barked once again, and then ambled out of the bedroom. He could hear her long toenails clacking down the stairs and he goggled for a minute, stared at the wall for a few more seconds, and then hustled out of the bedroom, his mind racing at the possibilities. The money. He could quit working for that shithead Magurk and find a real job, something he was good at. Something he liked!

He entered the lounge, Yuluuf was nosing in the scattered bits of Dunkop’s toybox. He crossed the room quickly and grabbed a cigarette. The act calmed him slightly. He looked up. Yuluuf had another crayon. A green one this time. She shifted it to the side of her jaw as he watched, like a man with a cigar would do when he had something to say. Then she howled like the end of days. A ragged, heart-rending banshee’s wail. Jacab butted the smoke, concern clouding his face, and he was going to go and comfort her, not understanding, when the dog barked twice and turned to the wall and began moving her head, scratching messy green lines on the wall over and over, thickening them, exactly like a child would do, or a bored vandal on a city bus.

The cigarette forgotten, Jacab watched, entranced, considering and rejecting every impossible explanation for what he was seeing. He was afraid to move. Chills raked his skin and he watched Yuluuf slowly write on the cinnamon wallpaper, any fury from his wife in the future was not even considered, and as the old girl finished her first word and was shifting the crayon in her jaw again, moving down the wall to find a fresh space, He saw that Yuluuf had written, “IKA”.

Umbra’s grandmother, Ebuno, was of the Yoruba. Her people came from Akurẹ, and she spoke the ancient and beautiful language mixed with English whenever she visited, which was often. Jacab had heard this word many times. He had an ear for languages, and even though it was worlds away from his native Polish, he had picked up a great deal. It meant being dead. Yuluuf was still writing.

Jacab’s mouth was dry. He fumbled for another cigarette, he didn’t want one, but he needed something to do. When he looked up, Yuluuf was gone again. The green crayon was laying sticky against the baseboard near the table lamp. A long string of words on the wall stopped Jacab cold.

“KU TI WA NI WIWO I GBỌDỌ TỌJU” Death Is Watching I Must Hide
Below this, in shaky haste, “IYA” Grandmother

Fear punched him in the gut. He saw that the balance of power had shifted in his universe, and he wasn’t at the top anymore. There was no sign of Yuluuf, but he could hear her happily crunching away at her food bowl in the kitchen.

He rubbed the goosebumps down his arms and spun away from the message. His eyes darted to the wall clock, 4:45, little over an hour before Umbra came home. He grabbed his cigarettes from the coffee table and hitched his coat from the chair and hustled outside into the waning autumn day.

The cold slapped him awake and he puffed nervously and paced in the driveway, ignoring the stares of passersby on the busy lane, and muttered to himself, self-arguing into acceptance of the situation, but stymied as to how he was going to explain any of it to his poor, rational wife.

Just as he pitched his cigarette butt into the hedges, Umbra’s silver sportscar suddenly appeared in the street, an hour early, and turned into the driveway too fast, her brakes squealed as she saw Jacab stock still in the middle and the car gently bucked to a stop.

She grabbed her purse, got out and saw his face. “What has happened? Where is Dunkop?

Jacab’s face twisted? “What do you mean? He’s with you!”

She grabbed his arm, her beautiful African features now clouded with a mother’s wrath. “I left him with you this morning! Where is he?!”
Jacab just goggled at her, unable to comprehend, and she shoved him aside, and stormed past, calling out her son’s name.

She disappeared inside the house, calling Dunkop’s name again, more urgent this time, and Jacab just stood and stared, blinking rapidly and shaking his head. His mind raced. Where was Dunkop? He was with her today! He remembered this morning with clarity! Breakfast and talk. Umbra said she would take the boy to his swimming lessons and then drop him off at school before heading to her shift at Impressario’s, a shitty cafe with a worse name. When she kissed Jacab goodbye, leading Dunkop by the hand, the boy had turned and waved at him. “Bye Daddy” and he smiled that smile that made Jacab’s heart melt. His boy.

He heard Umbra call out again. Insistent, now.

They left together, this morning. He remembered! What was happening?
Where was his son??

He headed for the front door, his heart starting to pound.
He called out, “DUNKOP?”

Inside the house, he slammed the front door and as he was about to shout his son’s name again, he heard Dunkop’s laugh from the lounge room. Jacab cocked his head in puzzlement and walked towards the sound, seeing Umbra holding his son in his arms and the boy was laughing as she tickled him.

What the hell? His mind raced.

Umbra looked up. “You a damn fool, or I don’t know what. What’s wrong with you? He was in his room, taking a nap, and he said he hadn’t eaten all day! Jacab! Are you listening to me??!”

Jacab was not. He was staring over her shoulder at the wall by the toybox, where Yuluuf had written the strange message, but it was not there anymore. Instead, in rainbow colors, was his son’s writing, DADDY, with a stickman and a flower. One of the middle D’s was backwards and the Y was more like a W, but that was his son’s graffiti, no doubt in his mind. His mind skipped and time stretched.

Umbra was in his face, her mouth was moving like an angry machine, but he heard no words. He could feel her anger, but he couldn’t understand what had happened to him today. He thought about his morning, before the breakfast he could remember so clearly. It was a normal day. After his wife and son left, he watched tv for awhile. He hated his days off, but his work days were even worse. He had lunch. Ham and cheese sandwich and some chili chips. Glass of iced tea. A chocolate biscuit for dessert. He took a piss. Went to check the weather and got distracted, played Pharaoh for over an hour, tinkering with the huge Egyptian city he had been fiddling with for over a year now. He remembered getting lost in the supply problems of his virtual world, and for a time he was nowhere else but in that world, so he could have lost track of time but not all day.

After that he didn’t quite remember. He may have read a book, or maybe checked his email? He didn’t know. His next memory was smoking on the couch, checking his phone for messages and realizing he hadn’t seen Yuluuf for a while, and then discovering… a shudder rippled through his body, and he took a deep breath. Realized Umbra was gone. The room was quiet.

He looked around, confused again. Looked at the wall. DADDY and the portrait and bouquet was still there. Same rainbow gaudiness.

He called out, “Umbra?” and waited.
No response.

He called out again, and started to walk toward the stairs up to the 2nd floor.
He heard his son’s bedroom door close and his wife appeared at the top of the stairs. Her face was wet.
She was frowning. When she looked up and saw Jacab, her face changed into something ugly.

You. Bastard.” is all she would say, and pushed past him hard, when he tried to block her way, to say something that would make sense.

He followed her into the kitchen, trying to find out some way to explain his confusion, but it all came out sounding lame and made-up, like he was covering for some other screw-up and she tore into him, telling him that he was sounding like a teenager caught sneaking in at night, and this was “our Goddamn son, Jacab! He said you left him in his room all day! When he tried to come down for lunch, the door was locked!”

Jacab said, “I didn’t know he was home, I swear it. I told you, I remember you two leaving this morning! I didn’t know he was here!”

She turned away from him, braced herself on the counter.

Umbra, honey, listen to me. I swear to you I had no idea he was here. I didn’t hear him yelling or pounding on his door! I didn’t hear anything! I was just bumming around the house. That’s it. I was here all day! My lunch dishes are right there. Look!”

She didn’t say anything. She just let him ramble. Let the white boy hang himself with his words.

After a while, Umbra tuned out. She slowly walked from the kitchen into the lounge and her eyes fell upon the graffiti on the wall. She turned, furious. “What the hell is THIS?! You let him scribble on the wallpaper? You remember how expensive that was? What the hell is wrong with you, Jacab?? What is going on??!”

He scrunched his brow. The logical mind processed. Spit out the anomaly in under a second. “Wait. What? I thought he was locked in his room all day?!”

She pulled back as if she were slapped. “You admitting it now you bastard?!”

Jacab’s eyes darted to her. “What? No! You said he was locked up all day. Then how did he do this? He pointed at the childish graffiti. “Your crazy logic, not mine!”

Umbra frowned. Dunkop said he woke up and hadn’t left his room all day. Peed his pants and everything cause he couldn’t get to the toilet. Said he cried afterwards. He couldn’t unlock the door and he hadn’t eaten all day. She suddenly walked to the sink. Looked at the lunch dishes. Dunkop’s bowl and plate and spoon were there with Jacab’s usual plate and cup. She frowned again and cocked her head, trying to process the possibility that her son had lied to her.

Jacab had fallen silent. He was watching from the doorway. He was staring at her, concerned.

This man had taken good care of them. She had never known him to lie before. Umbra looked up. Her eyes were wet. She opened her arms and stepped towards him. As she folded into him, she said, “His dishes are there. And when I got home his door was unlocked, now that I think about it. I don’t understand. I’m sorry.”

Jacab patted his wife’s back and said, resolved, “Come with me. I have to show you something. Don’t be mad, but just come look.”

She started to question, but instead just let her self be led by the hand upstairs to the master bedroom. Jacab stopped outside the door and then opened the door from the side, so that she could enter first, pushing it open a little too hard, and it banged off the wall, making him wince at the scolding to come.

None came and he looked up. His wife was blocking the doorway. She was making a keening noise like some crazy tea kettle at full boil. Her arms were stiffly pointed towards the floor and she was up on her toes.

Jacab said, “Umbra?” and touched her on the arm.
She screamed, turned and grabbed him, crying and he looked over her shoulder.

Yuluuf was sprawled on the large quilt on the big king-sized bed. She looked comfortably asleep, the way she had looked a million times before. The beloved old dog was not allowed on the bed, but this was no ordinary day.

Yuluuf was not breathing, that was obvious in the immediate. Jacab’s stomach knotted, and his eyes leapt up to the wall above the bed where the old girl had scribbled her first message. The hello jacab was not there. In its place, in orange crayon, bYE bYE UMbrA JAcAB LOVE IYA EbUNo

Jacab’s phone rang. He stared at it, dumbfounded.

He shook his head, to clear it, and thumbed the answer key. “Hello?”

“I’m sorry, this is Inspector Ikeolu, is this the husband of Umbra Kozik?”

Jacab swallowed. Umbra soaked his shoulder.

“Hello? Yes. This is Jacab Kozik. Who is this?”

“I’m sorry, this is Inspector Ikeolu, sir. I’m calling to, and I’m sorry to have to tell you this, sir, but I’m calling to tell you that your wife’s grandmother was found today. I mean her body was found. I’m very sorry. It was in the Didiershap Mall, someone found her on a bench, It must have been her heart. I’m sorry to have to tell you this, sir. I’m very sorry for your loss.”

Jacab listened to the words, not understanding, while his wife was weeping for her lost Ebuno, sweet and wise mother of her mother, and Jacab listened to the words and wondered when he was going to wake up.

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2017 in Supernatural Fiction

 

Into the Deep End

Into the Deep End

Olga, more properly Princess Olga, not of nobility but of the whim of her immigrant parents, and now that she had taken her vows, Sister Princess Olga, of the cloistered sect of Our Lady of Dispassionate Humility, knelt in three inches of cold water spiked with the stink of chlorine. She prayed silently with thin, desperate lips.

Her eyes were shut fast, though she held a prayer book in her hands. A well-worn rosary dangled from her fingers, and it swayed with her heartbeat as she prayed to Almighty God to save and protect her immortal soul which was in such immediate peril right this very moment.

Screwed into her ear was the cold, blunt snub-nose of an angry man’s pistol.

The Boss towered over her, swaying on his feet to some crooked rhythm and muttered in a foreign language, something she did not recognize. She heard the sounds of another man, grunting and cursing in some gutter-dialect and the chunky, rhythmic crackthud of his pickaxe chopping a hole in the wet tiled floor of the Community Pool.

Though she could not hear him, she knew another man, silent, but fragrant with coconut oil and cigarette smoke stood behind her and he was the worst of all, she knew.

These men were puppets of the real evil at work in this world.
She prayed to her Father, and knew she was without sin, and that utter belief kept her mind focused and her prayers unbroken, no matter what these men wanted, she would not, could not give it to them. She knew that only silence would protect the Gate, and with that solace, she prayed and kept her vigil.

The Boss was getting tired of this shit. This broad was getting on his nerves, upsetting his digestion, making him all gassy and shit. He belched and tasted Fi’s cooking from three nights ago, a greasy eggplant and olive pasta that stank like his ass.

He pressed the barrel a little further into her ear to get her attention and said,

“I’m gonna give you one more chance, Sister and then I’m gonna pull this trigger. Lucius Slick said you had this fuckin’ key and you are going to tell me where it is or I’m gonna put this pistol away, and ask Mister to introduce you to his favorite machete. He’ll start with your feet and take you apart piece-by-piece. We both know you can’t hold out against sumpthin’ like that, it ain’t natural. So save us both some time and yourself some pain and tell me where it is, before you make me do something you won’t walk away from.”

She considered his words for a moment, brushing the threat away, and seeing what was underneath this vile man’s rantings. Olga decided then to break her silence and break her vigil for one sentence against her death, a message that she hoped would resonate in the mind of a very evil man, one that she hoped would scare him to the path of charity and honor.

She turned her face up to the man but did not open her eyes. She said, “You tell Lucius Slick that the Key is destroyed and the Guardian awoken.”

Before she could turn her face back to her Bible, a crashing blow drove her to the floor of the pool, she heard something break and then lost consciousness.

Meat saw the nun’s tooth fly out when the Boss clubbed her for being willful. He laughed of course, and the way she bounced made him laugh even more. He had forgotten all about the Boss’ orders and was leaning on a pickaxe, one foot crossed over the other, on point. He had a big grin on his face and his eyes were big and shiny. One of his buttons had come undone and a tuft of hair, like the pelt of a bear poked out and waggled like a rabbit’s tail when he laughed, his whole body moving with the motion.

The Boss rubbed his face and cursed in the mother tongue. Then he bellowed, “Meat! Get back to work you fuckin’ douche or I’ll jam that axe up your ass! “

At his feet was the stupid nun, her blood making a spreading slick in the stagnant water.
He rubbed his face again and looked at around for a minute and tried to get a handle on his temper.

Meat was back at it, chopping an ever-widening hole in the floor of the pool. He was exactly that, Meat, all muscle, no brain. Still, he had his uses, one of which was heavy labor, and they were running out of time. If this key was not here, then he and his crew were dead men. Mr. Slick did not abide failure. He had been in Slick’s employ for nearly three years now, near a damn company record, and he had no plans to go home empty handed just so he could get shot and buried. Mister was standing silently behind the old bitch, his hands crossed casually behind his back, his manner calm and relaxed. There was no sign of his favorite machete.

The bitch was coming around. She groaned like a baby and raised her head out of the brain and blood soup she was dozing in. He didn’t like willful women. Or kids. Mouthy little fuckers they were. Always saying “no”. Well. Mr. Slick didn’t take “no” for an answer and he was damned if he was either.

As he watched her, she groaned again and pushed herself slowly up into a kneeling position, wiped her face off, and turned her face up to him. Her eyes were still closed tightly, and he relaxed a bit, she was gonna spill it and he could get out of here and get something for his stomach, and as he burped again, the bitch opened her waterlogged Bible and began praying aloud right to his face!

His hand twitched, raised the gun to club her again, his face flushing bright red and he took a step towards her before he realized, almost too late, that if he hit her, and she died, then he was dead too, and he pivoted in the water, his foot squeaking on the tile bottom. He cursed loudly and liberally in Greek, cursing the church, dirty-minded priests, willful nuns, the pope’s stupid fucking hat and God in general for making his life such a constant, living hell.

Sister Princess Olga’s mind was scattered, a sloshing broth of jagged pain and muddled self-thought, as if her inner voices had scattered and were playing hide-and-seek with her, running at her in the dark, hearing their voices near and then far all at once. Only the constant litany of the Holy Word was able to let her grasp some small thread of her control and identity.

Her throat was so dry and her jaw ached where she guessed she hit the floor when that terrible man hit her. She did not have time to assess her condition, the way people do to reassure themselves that their pieces are all still there, she dare not stop her prayers, not even to rub the swelling, bloody knot on her head that was even now drooling her life away into the fetid water of the winterized pool.

She was a daughter of God. A nun in holy service and communion with the Lord Jesus Christ. She needed no armor, no weapon. Her spirit was her weapon and her mission was more important than her life. She was the Guardian, and she would not fail the others. She knew that the Gate was the key to ….

The Boss turned back to her, his eyes shining with rage. “Fuck this! Look Sista, you’re gonna tell me now! Now Goddammit!”

He stepped in and ripped the book from her hand and flung it out, away. He grabbed her wrists in one chunky hand and pulled her to her feet, and up off her feet. She nearly went down again when she touched the slippery pool floor again but he had her fast and she stood on wobbly legs before him, eyes clenched shut, lips rapidly whispering in Latin, the litany of a lifetime of devotion.

“Open your fuckin eyes! I said open ‘em!” The Boss shook her by the shoulders, hard.

He threw his gun away and grabbed her face and, using his meaty thumbs, pried her eyelids apart, spittle flying from his mouth as he screamed into her face, “OPEN YOUR FUCKING EYES BITCH!”

As the picture of her murderer was forced into her sight, her sorrow grew, for she had wished to next see the face of God and so had kept her eyes closed for His glory and now her eyes were sullied with the sight of evil.

Tackle Ethan Prestmeyer, known to his Boss as simply, Mister, felt the situation change when the Boss grabbed the nun. The room suddenly charged up with ionization. He felt the prickle on his skin.Meat was watching again, a shiny-eyed grin on his face, the gaping hole at his feet was forgotten, the pickaxe was now a wobbly seat. The old lady’s face had not changed, beyond the Boss’ fingers all up in it. But she was standing on the balls of her feet, like a prizefighter, and her shoulders had changed. She seemed tensed. Poised like a cat.

Mister did not think, but stepped forward and let the Teachings wash over him.

The Boss felt Mister’s presence beside him as he yelled into the old broad’s face, overcome with a fit of pure, white-hot rage at being balked.

He was startled, because that meant that Mister felt he was under threat, and there was no way that could be true, unless some crew had rolled up on them, unawares. But if that were true Meat would have already been shooting, he had a sixth sense about that kinda shit, one of the other reasons he kept him around.

If it wasn’t ‘bangers or cops, then it could only mean that Mister thought the old bible-thumper was the threat, but how could that be? He looked into her eyes. Really looked this time. They looked back at him, blazing with adrenaline and fervor and he knew, in his gut, that something was wrong.

Mister did not play with his enemies. He had nothing to prove. He simply stepped forward and touched the old lady under her left arm, near the ganglion cluster that controls the lower legs and bowels and she sagged for a moment and he was about to step back, when she suddenly bounced back to her feet, stood straight up and and her voice rose to shouting THINE IS THE KINGDOM AND THE GLORY AND THE POWER AMEN OUR FATHER WHO ART IN HEAVEN HALLOWED BE THY NAME THY KINGDOM COME THY WILL BE DONE

and the Boss was gone, thrown clear of the pool and he heard the sound of glass breaking and the sound of his own ribcage breaking as she threw the fastest kick he had ever seen in his thirty plus years of the Way. He was thrown clear of the pool and smashed head-first into the old pool house’s thick cement wall. He lay shivering, his limbs twitching with crossed and broken signals from his broken neck.

He was paralyzed and she wasn’t even breathing hard.

He couldn’t bring himself to look away when she came for him. It was her eyes, they shone with a light he could not imagine living without. It filled him and sustained his mind with a harmony that he could not resist. He heard the sound of music that swept his mind up and away, and he knew neither hunger or fear or pain or doubt, and the light grew ever brighter, promising solace and gentle, comforting acceptance.

He cried aloud when the light went out and the darkness rushed back, bringing the fire of pain and an agony of regrets and lost choices. She slid out of his view, her space suddenly filled with Meat and the pickaxe buried in her head.

Meat was crying. He knelt down and looked at his friend.

“Too slow too stupid stupid Meat stupid slow dumb Meathead Meatfucker. Boss is hurt or dead, Mister Tackle is hurt real bad and stupid dumb Meat is slow and bad. Meat is stupid. Meat has to help the Boss, has to help Mister.”

Mister watched Meat wrestle with whatever passed for his mind.

Meat couldn’t decide what to do. His mind went round and round the limited possibilities he had come up with – call Mr. Slick, drive the Boss and Mister to Mr. Slick’s house, or take the Boss and Mister out of town to hide until Mister Slick wasn’t angry no more – but he couldn’t decide which had the most importance and he was getting angry about it.

He looked at the old lady, stupid old lady, mean old bitchy lady. Wasn’t for her the Boss would be ok, Mister would be ok and Meat’s head wouldn’t hurt from all this thinking.

So he kicked her and burst into tears. Kicked her again. The sobbing turned to wailing and snot and tears flew. He lifted her half-up and started hitting her. Grabbed her up and threw her to the ground roughly, her body tumbling, and then he went after her and wiggled the pickaxe out of her skull, one bloody boot up on her head, and got prehistoric on her.

He chopped her open with the pickaxe and pulled out her insides, crying and roaring all the while, “Stupid stupid lady stupid mean lady!”

Suddenly he stopped.

He looked over at Mister, but his eyes were shut.

He looked over to where the Boss must have landed, but couldn’t see him.

Meat put his hands back into the mangled mush and said,

“Meat found sumpthin.”

In his hands was a bit of metal.

A key.

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2017 in Supernatural Fiction

 

Bodie, 1855 (Part 1)

Bodie, 1855 (Part 1)

Ely came awake with a groan, and the smell of his own filth, caked and smeared on his clothes and skin, made him gasp for breath. He clapped a hand over his mouth, his rising gorge felt like a rock, and his bloodshot eyes fell on a large, fresh pile of human excrement, steaming and fly-blown in the rising summer morning and a groan escaped his lips as he lost his battle. A gout of vomit leaped out and splattered the ground, the rusted iron bars of his prison, his bootless left foot, and his mangled and bloody right.

He lay curled over the wooden slab that had served as his bed and spit and coughed, one hand clamped on his large, lumpy nose to keep from puking again and he breathed hard and deep, trying to get a handle on his leaping stomach. He lay in his agony inside the large, iron dog cage. Through the bars, another man was also imprisoned, just a few feet away.

Both cages were bolted to the outside wall of the ramshackle Sheriff’s office, right on the front porch. They had a full view of the crossroads – dry and rutted Main Street, a piss-poor description of a lumpy dirt path and Church Street, which was barely 15′ wide and speckled with holes, ankle-turners and hoof-breakers alike.

Dominating the center of the crossroads was a massive well, its thick and waist-high apron of fired bricks held up a heavy timber roof on two thick, old support beams. The well shaft was hidden in shadow, but even from here Ely could smell the sweet, cool water at the bottom and he rasped a sour tongue over his bloated and bloody lips and immediately winced and sucked his breath in pain.

Ely looked over at Vern in the other cage. Vern looked dead maybe, or just battered into unconsciousness, and he was draped across the hard wooden slab in the middle of the cage.

One of Vern’s boots was missing, just like Ely’s, and two blackened stumps, crusted with blood and being sampled by huge black flies, stuck out on his right foot. The missing toes were nowhere to be found, and Ely looked at his own mangled foot and remembered the posse from last night and how they tortured him and Vern for awhile before pissing and shitting into buckets and throwing the contents over the two prisoners, all the while laughing and poking them with sharpened sticks until they bled.
The knives soon followed and he had blissfully passed out after they cut off his big toe.

Ely shivered. He felt worse than dead. His whole body, inside and out, hurt and his head ached until he thought he might scream. Vern was the lucky one, he thought. At least he was asleep. Or dead. He couldn’t be dead, could he? He thought again of the raging mob, and he began shivering violently.

He tried to call out Vern’s name, but all that answered him was a throaty croak, that sounded nothing like “Vern” but Vern didn’t stir anyway.

Ely tried again. He managed a grotesque squawk. “Hey Vern.” Vern did not move.

Ely squinted at his friend, seeing if he could tell if he was still breathing, but his eyesight was swimming and keeping his head still was proving difficult. He lay down again, just breathing, with his eyes half-way closed and tried to ignore the relentless black, biting flies. He just needed to catch his breath and then he would shout for Vern. He just needed to rest. Just for a minute.
Within seconds he slid into sleep, unbidden, in the sweltering heat of the day.

Ely awoke again with a start. It was dark. The moon was up, big and bright, and a cool wind was blowing.

He shivered and sat up gingerly, holding his aching head. His stomach roiled and his mouth felt like some dog had used it for a toilet. Everything was swimmy, and he groaned quietly aloud.
“’Zat you, Ely?” came a voice from the darkness. Ely turned his head. His croak had worsened. It was a deep and almost inhuman bark of a sound – “Vern?”

Vern laughed, and drawled, his voice broken and crusted with pain, “Hells fire, who else woodit be locked up with yore sorry be-hind? I feel like toasted shit, I shorely do.”

Hearing Vern speak shook the crust from Ely’s throat and he hawked loudly, spat, and said, “I thought you was dead, Vern, for sure and damnation, I thought you was dead as dogshit.”

Vern said, “I might feel dead, but I ain’t, and neither are you, so shut up awhile and lemme think.”

A minute passed. The moon did not move.

Near the ancient well a tiny blob of greenish-white light appeared from nowhere, as if it always was. It was spun from the darkness, coalescing from Elsewhere, maybe. A pinprick of luminescence. Neither prisoner noticed.

Ely, impatient, broke the silence, “We gonna die here, Vern. Ain’t no way round it, I figure. We dead as dogshit!

Vern spat, “Shut up, boy. I ain’t dying in no goddamn dog cage in fucking Bodie, evil motherfucking sheriff or not! We are getting the hell outta here. I just gotta think, so shut yer hole and quit pissin in my ear!”

Like a mutt, freshly booted in the bollocks, Ely groaned his battered body back down on the wooden slab to try and rest, but he knew that he was gonna die here, and he couldn’t still his racing thoughts.

Once, he opened his eyes, and his gaze fell in the direction of the old well. A long, thin line of greenish light, stretched, nearly twice the height of a man, and illuminated the shadows cast by the weathered bricks in the moonlight with a pale phosphorescence.

Ely frowned. He struggled to push himself up to one elbow, and mock-whispered, “Vern?”

Vern whipped his head around and winced at the sloshing pain that followed, barked, “I told you to let me think, damn you! Can’t you just shut up for a spell, dammit?”

The line of light shimmered and pulsed, stretching out, it became thicker, and soon was the width of a wooden plank. Ely’s eyes were wide and he was breathing heavy through his mouth. He began shouting, “Vern! Vern! Vern!” and pointed at the street beyond.
Vern opened his mouth to chew Ely out again, when he saw the younger man’s face and turned his head to follow Ely’s shaky, pointing hand.

Vern whispered, “What the hell…?”
Ely started to moan, shaking his head back and forth in denial, eyes wet with terror.

The thick bar of light thickened again, and again, become the size of a large door. The light pulsed and flickered. It hung there, impossibly, a foot from the dusty ground.
After a moment, dark silhouettes could be seen against the eerie luminescence.

Vern had never before in his life desired a belt of whiskey more than he did at this moment.
Ely’s terror had markedly increased, his voice rising into a keening wail, as small shapes passed through the curtain of light and lithely dropped to the street below.

A half-dozen appeared, then another six a moment later. A huge silhouette followed on their heels, nearly blocking out all of the shimmery light, and then it passed through the curtain of light. As the huge figure crossed the threshold the unquiet light winked out, returning the crossroads to the gentle dusting of moonlight.

A dozen reptilian figures, the height of a barstool (Vern’s best estimation), were crowded around the feet of a huge black shape, featureless and rapidly changing shape or so it seemed to Ely, who was rocking on the slab, both hands clamped over his mouth, elbows askew. His screams were barely stifled amid the animal stink of having pissed his dungarees, and all his mind could process was the urge to rabbit away, far and fast, and hide forever.

Vern, already weak with shock and fear, sought salvation in denial. His mangled feet forgotten, he scrabbled backwards off the slab and lost his balance, arms flailing, he cracked his skull on the cage bars and brained himself senseless, and for a minute he blacked out.

On the street, the small hellkine, winged and taloned, scattered before the black shape that was now resolving itself into the form of a nondescript white man, average height, average build, with dirty, drab clothes and a sun-faded hat. He wore no guns and carried no gunny sack. His face was dull.
He looked like a stranger, instantly forgettable.

The stranger turned and looked at a few of the hellkine, and something passed between them, leader to pack, and a few of the greenish-black creatures hopped up onto the old well’s thick and well-worn rim.
The rest took a few steps, hopped and flapped their large bat-like wings and vanished from sight.

Vern woke up with a cuss-laden groan. He caught a glimpse of the hellkine on the rim of the well. His head was swimming and his eyes couldn’t focus, but he knew that something was terribly wrong. He began to bellow hellfire and damnation, straight from sunday morning, and panicked spittle flew from his bloody and bruised lips.

As Vern raved, and Ely rocked and rocked, shrieking behind his hands, the stranger finally noticed them.

The creature-dressed-as-man watched them, silently, though Vern was making a mighty racket.
No neighbors came to investigate. No heads appeared in curtained windows. The streets were deserted in the moonlight save the two prisoners and the newcomers to Bodie.
The stranger walked slowly across the street, with deliberate slowness, and he raised his arms, spread wide as if in welcome, his eyes dull and cow-like.

As he approached, the man turned his face and spoke to Ely, a jagged, horrifying spill of syllables that had the effect of stopping poor Vern’s heart, sad bastard that he was in life, the look on the old drunk’s face one of rigid and unrelenting terror.

When the Stranger spoke in Ga’gok, he did nothing more than curse the bloodline of Ely’s kin for eternity, a standard taunt to one chosen as Witness. Ely’s mouth filled with blood and he shit himself when he heard the Hellspeak, and he goggled at the stranger, his mind fracturing.

“The Stranger” was an appellation that would fit, though his name was unpronounceable by human tongues, the closest approximation was made by a diabolist in the early 12th Century who called this particular pit fiend, “K’Ker’taal’unsundisYggk’llamss”, a pathetic translation of a proud and noble line, worthy of respect and obsequious fawning and fear.

The demon-dressed-as-man reached through the iron bars and physically touched The Witness on his head, transferring to him the gift of Sight and protecting him from all that was to follow. When Ely died, and his soul was taken into captivity, he would be transformed into a common lemure, mere food for the damned, but not before the Sight was extracted and used as evidence against the renegade the Stranger had come here to hunt.

Back in the street the well’s weathered rim was crowded with perched hellkine. They were facing outwards, wings furled, and The Witness saw them start to rock, in time, back and forth, making strange echoing sounds, like fading, twisted birdsong, full of rawk and gibber. Minutes passed, with only the alien sounds filling the night air, until slithery, organic sheaths appeared between the hellkine’s legs, grey and twitching with peristalsis, and they hung, dripping, over the black, cold shaft of the town’s ancient water source.

The Stranger left the dog cages behind, walking away from the Sheriff’s office, which was shuttered and dark, and off down towards The Eucalyptus, a once-famous casino and cathouse, now the sad and tattered headquarters for most of the town’s scum, which were plentiful, but not present in The Eucalyptus, or anywhere else in town, orders of the Sheriff.

Sheriff Merrick was a right bastard and a mountain of a man, with a tempestuous manner to match. Curfew at sundown, no exceptions, all business and homes to be locked and shuttered, with minimal light as needed only, and there had been plenty of violence over this sudden announcement when the town, lawless and in danger of disappearing altogether, found itself with a different kind of stranger in town almost two years ago, before the blizzards that swept through here in January, 1853. The year of the white death and smallpox epidemic.

Disease and fear had wiped out most of the people and livestock in the area, and this whole region was dying of an ever-shrinking populace, so when a hulk of a man named Clement Elijah Merrick arrived on foot from the direction of the pine woods, it caused a stir, and folk talked, mostly because folks in small towns got nothing else to talk about.

They stopped talking when self-declared Sheriff Merrick hung three men for rape from The Eucalyptus’ balcony, while loudly and drunkenly declaiming any and all who dared defied the justice that now reigned in Bodie. To make his point he shouted, “Justice!”, “Law!”, “Order!” and punctuated each shout with a lash, from the long-handled whip that he constantly carried, to one of the dangling corpses, and this went on for almost an hour. By the end the three hanged men were little more than shredded meat twisting in the chilly night wind.

The new sheriff went door to door the next day, telling folk how things now worked in the new Bodie. All firearms were to be surrendered. Sheriff Merrick used a loaded shotgun to enforce these rules, and had to shoot a few men to make sure the rest of the town understood the severity of the offense. The drunkards, vagabonds, old farts, and too-dumb-to-leave were also required to report for “A Full and Complete Tally of census for Any and all Persons Residing in Bodie proper”, and no one was allowed to leave the town without expressed permission by Sheriff Merrick, now called Bastard Clem by most in his absence, but none dared go against him, and the town knuckled.

Merrick was not just a sadist, he was a tyrant with a cunning and greedy nature. After he locked the town up tight, he proceeded to consolidate the women into his lair. All the towns women, 22 females ranging in age from 19 to 61 were moved at gunpoint into the rooms at The Eucalyptus. They were not abused. They were fed, and kept pliant with alcohol and morphine, which Bastard Clem seemed strangely well-equipped to have brought an amount large enough to sedate half the town’s population for over ten months.

A few of the brighter scum were chosen as Deputies to enforce the peace, but really they were there to make sure no one ever escaped. The roamed the streets at night, armed with enough firepower to take down the entire town three times over, and that was for each of the three Deputies.

The women slept, mostly, and talked through the walls of their shabby rooms, which were only ever unlocked for meals, delivered by one of the Deputies, usually the quiet one the others called Gizzard. He was a boy, really, but with a quick mind and he did whatever Merrick told him to, a bootlicker to be sure, but he had a spark of cruel wit about him, and often left the ladies in tears after delivering their meager fare once a day and whispering some horror in their ears.

Slack Danny, sometimes called Sack, was the most sadistic person Ely could remember seeing in his stupid, short life. He was dull as a milk cow and completely forgettable as a human being. Until you saw the glint of the murderer and cannibal in his eyes.

The last was a dunce named Supper Tophin, a shambling flab of a man, jug-handled ears and a bald head, he was bowlegged and short, and had a fondness for butcher’s knives and axes of all kinds. He personally had chopped Grunder Finch’s leg off from the knee down when he refused to turn over his wife and daughter to the unknown machinations of the Sheriff and his flunkies. He liked to masturbate in public and he thought it was hilarious to pick his nose and fling the contents at well dressed ladies and gentlemen, whenever his travels brought him into contact with such fine people, which, thankfully, was not often.

The Deputies were nowhere to be seen in the full-moon night of the crossroads where Ely’s wide-eyed, open-mouthed, seemingly-frozen stare could Witness. Nothing to see and only the heavy, measured footsteps of the Stranger walking down the sidewalk deeper into town and the rhythmic gollicking of the hellkine huddled over the well could be heard in the quiet town as midnight approached.

The Witness saw no other folk, not in the streets and not in any windows, as all was shuttered and dark.

Only the full moon saw the end of the hellkine’s labors.

One-by-one, at a steady, organic pace, the ovipositors between the scaly legs began dropping leathery looking eggs into the dark hole of the well. Ely could not hear them, but he imagined the pattering splash of them in the cool darkness. For minutes it seemed to the Witness, the monsters dropped dozens of small grey eggs and then all at once their efforts stopped, their voices suddenly silent and they stood as one, and leapt, large translucent wings flapping hard and they vanished from view. The footsteps of the Stranger were now almost too faint to hear. There was nothing else left to Witness.

Overcome, the breakdown of Ely’s mind was held together by the arcane bindings laid upon him by the Stranger. Like a barbed wire net, heated to a scalding burn, his mind was kept from dissolving, and all sense of Self was preserved against the onslaught of images and knowledge being encoded into his brain right now, but when the street suddenly cleared and became quiet again, Ely was able for a moment, to take a quiet breath, close his now-aching jaws and, more importantly, finally close his eyes.

There was grit and crap in them, and they hurt and itched, but just the relaxation of the muscles was enough to anchor him for a moment. Ely knew that he was no longer Ely any more. He knew that whatever part of him that used to be him, but was now gone, was part of a time that could never be recaptured, and he knew, instinctively, that Hell would claim him for the things he had seen tonight.

He wept, and this stung his eyes terribly, rubbing them just made the grit move around and now his eyes gushed, and in his mind he was whipped by his fear and his tormented body gave no surcease for many minutes, until finally he was able to lie quietly and as he tried to sleep, knowing he wouldn’t, knowing he couldn’t, knowing that he could never rest, and maybe never sleep again, then he finally did.

END OF PART ONE

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2017 in Supernatural Fiction

 

Rapau & The Yaguareté

Rapau & The Yaguareté

Rapau wanted nothing more than to scratch the mosquito bites that covered his exposed thighs, and the will it took to ignore them was becoming harder and harder to maintain. He sat in a hunter’s squat, and had done so for nearly two days, and could maintain it for perhaps another day, if necessary, but no longer; it wasn’t just the insect bites that worried him, his muscles were starting to knot and twitch.

He was not a hunter yet. Not unless he came home with the hooves of a jabali, the wild pig, as proof of his ability to support his tribe and future family, and if his brother, Awe could be trusted, there was a girl in his village who had been giving him moon eyes, and he let himself daydream of the proud hunter returning with not one, but two jabali for the Hunter’s Moon feast.

But the dream could not last, not with insects in his ears and itchy sweat that trickled down his back and chest. He wanted to wash, but the diagonal striping of black mud on his torso was not just for camoflage, it masked his scent as well, and no jabali would come near a hunter who stunk like man.

His stomach rumbled quietly. He had eaten no food for nearly a week, to further mask his scent, and had taken only water, which took long minutes to bring to his mouth from his resting hand. As far as the jabali, and any other creatures who happened to be nearby were concerned, Rapau was not even there. That was the idea at least, but the test was hard. Not just the hunter’s skills that were required, but the patience that was needed even more. Rapau had an idea that those who had failed their tests and cast out of the village were not bad hunters, they were impatient ones, and he vowed to endure a thousand more bloodsucking mosquitoes and another week squatting on his aching legs before he gave in to his weaknesses. The face of his father swam in his mind and the stern, but proud look that he saw regarding him gave him the strength to not give up, and he banished his aching legs and his rumbling stomach and his itchy all-over to the back part of his mind.

Though there were nearby slots from the jabali’s hooves and a source of water nearby, Rapau had not even heard a wild boar since he chose this cloistered spot to wait in nearly two days ago. Hunter’s wisdom and his father’s constant lessons told him that once a hunter chose his killing ground, it would not do to second-guess or move around. “The hunter must become the jungle”, his father often said. “Only then will the prey feel safe enough to let down its guard. That is when you strike. Not before.”

The heat and humidity of the day was wearying, though, and he was so hungry. For a few moments he let his eyes slip shut and had wild, vivid dreams of spears and gnashing tusks, before he jerked awake, certain that something had moved nearby.
In his ear, so close that he could feel the breath on his skin, he heard a liquid, bubbling sound, full of bass and rumble. The rolling sound was not a growl. There was no menace in it. It was a constant, rhythmic sound, full of motion and variation.Out of the corner of his eye he saw the pelt of a great cat, golden and spotted in black. Fear pumped into him and only his father’s warnings stayed his panicked flight. “Never run from the jaguar, boy, for you are only two-legged and he has four. Never act like prey.”

Rapau, only ten years old and not yet a man, could be excused for voiding his bladder onto the steaming jungle floor. His next action, however, would have earned him a beating from his stern-faced father, for a hunter who acts without thinking, is no hunter at all, but a fool, and worthless.

Rapau, as slowly as he raised his hand to drink, swiveled his neck and looked into the eyes of the great ghost of the rainforest. It was a female, there could be no doubt, and she was huge. Her great, golden eyes seemed to stare into him and he swam there, lost, for a few minutes, listening to the she-cat purr into his awestruck face. The cat was seated, but upright, and her thick tail was tucked up close to her heavy, muscular body.

Rapau could not find any moisture in his mouth to swallow. He scarcely breathed. He did not want to die, not yet, not before he became a man, and he did something else that his father would not have approved, indeed something that would have maybe gotten him exiled for sorcery.

He reached out, very slowly, and rubbed the great jaguar’s ears. She purred louder and half-closed her eyes, letting the boy rub and scratch behind the soft, velvety ears and on the top of her large head. As he did this, she stretched out a bit and lay down next to him, letting the boy stroke her from head to tail along her back, all the while purring and licking one great massive paw.

Suddenly there came a sound of sticks breaking and a boy cursed the stupidity of his father for sending him out here to probably get eaten by one of the great river monsters, the lizards of armor and teeth.

Rapau darted his head around to see one of his kafu, his age-mates, a complainer named Huayna, stupid as well as clumsy, blundering through the underbrush, sending the indignant birds flying and squawking with alarm.

Huayna saw Rapau at the same time, and a large, goofy grin split his face, revealing two shattered front teeth, lost in the Games last harvest. “Hey Rapau! Did you find your jabali yet? I haven’t seen anything, and I’m so hungry, do you have any food and … hey – what’s wrong?”

Rapau turned to the sleeping jaguar, but it was gone. There was no sign of her, not a branch was swaying and not a twig had been bent. Even the undergrowth she had been lying on was springing back to reach again for the sweltering sun, and the boy jumped up, spear in hand and babbled, “Did you see her? Did you? She was magnificent! And she was lying right next to me! I can’t believe it! Wait until I tell my father and brother about this!”

Huayna was close enough to reach out an arm and he half-shook Rapau, not liking the crazed look in his eyes and yelled, “What are you talking about? Who is she? Have you been seeing visions again? Remember at the Games and that proud idiot Yaco got into the shaman’s tent and ate all the ololiuqui meant for the Festival of the Dead? That was so funny! He was barking like a dog, remember, and-”

Rapau yelled back at him, “You didn’t see her? The jaguar? She was lying next to me and she let me pet her!”
Huayna looked at him with open disbelief. “Jaguar? You are drunk again. Jaguars don’t let hunters pet them, you stupid engañar, they crack their skulls open like a tuerca!” He started to taunt Rapau again, and was thinking of how he could blame his failure to kill a jabali on Rapau, about how he could say he was drunk and making noise and acting the fool.

Rapau, however, had other ideas, and lit off into the jungle, and was soon gone from view, leaving Huayna to cry out to “Stop! Wait for me!” and lumbered after him as the insects droned on and the parrots gollicked to one another and the lazy, rolling river, slid past, drowsing in the thick humid air of the summer afternoon.

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2017 in Supernatural Fiction