Greetings, my beautifully deranged and wondrously enlightened lot,
You know… Inspiration can be so fickle at times,
Plus, even when it does strike, you’re still faced with a pretty darned big dilemma, aren’t you? I mean… is it even any good!? This random thing that’s just popped into your mind — out of, quite literally, thin air. You gonna to go for it? Eh? Well? Are you? (Seriously, is there a
doctor soothsayer in the house?) I mean, somebody’s got to know…
Will it be worth our time?
(Somebody… ANSWER ME!!)
How can we know..?
Is this concept, sometimes no more than a mere sentence in our minds, going to pan out — after sometimes years, or even decades of hard work — into something that, at the start, was actually, truly worth investing into at all? It’s enough to Tonya Harding the kneecaps of even the most intrepid risk-taker! And — furthermore, hitherto, and not to mince words — never doubt, my people, that it is indeed an investment! A huge one…
Time and Land… they’re not making any more of the stuff.
Development, (if you’re here reading this, I’m sure you already know), is painstaking work. A plodding, laborious, hair-raking endeavor, that’s seen ears cut off, peni lobbed off, and children cut off. I mean, people may think that we just don some literal thinking cap, hole away in an attic somewhere, and magically spill these things out of our ears merely by tipping our heads to the page — but that’s not the case at all, is it!? It’s hard work, dag-nabit… It’s stressful!
Sentences can take hours,
Re-writes… an eternity!
(Thank God for scotch…)
And that’s the funny thing, isn’t it? See, even though it may not be — as, in the end it so oft will prove to seem (ahhh, the dastardly “Creators curse”…) — it’s the pursuit that teaches us our lessons in the end, isn’t it? All of life’s little mistakes, (naturally after lambasting you with your own perceived idiocy), will invariably and without fail, culminate to show us what not to do… so that, in turn, we actually know WHAT TO DO! Thought and execution, married happily, is the only real path toward a personal truth, and an internal sense of well-being.
Or….. maybe I’m just making this stuff up.
(See what I did there?)
Here’s the deal for this week’s short,
Home alone one night, my sole roommate a good 50 miles away, and likely quite liberally inebriated, I heard a rather loud noise boom out from beyond my bedroom door… and, for some reason, my genius-self beckoned it — whatever IT was — to enter. I then proceeded to entreat it, “not to fear”, and insisted “I would totally not freak out once it came in my room” — despite the fact that my heart was pounding heavier than an elephant on a trampoline in the presence of a mouse.
So anyway, after about a half hour… I began to feel rather silly — and that’s when the inspiration hit. I reached for my head-board, scrawled the rules of this short into the page, and this is what came of it all. I present it here, now, for proof of my theorem: that it is far better to try an idea, even if it seems doomed to fail, than give in to your souls erosion.
Was it worth it in the end?
I’ll leave that for you to decide.
(But, hell. I like it.)
Broker your soul
11:26, December 14th, 2013:
I am awakened by a crash, a frightful clamor my living room, the room adjacent to the bedroom where I sleep. Motionless I lie, my mind spinning wild fiction, while I listen, intent on divining some sound beyond the hammering in my chest, waiting patiently for any clue as to what might be the cause — a robber, my dear friend whom I’d given a key, or the possibility of something exotic… an animal perhaps; some beast.
But… Nothing. Not another decibel for the five long minutes I spent mummified under my sheets dwelling solely in my ear.
Eventually, I’d had enough. This wasn’t me; some coward calcified by a baseless fear. I am not a feeble man. Finally, once I’d deemed my reconnaissance sufficient, I crept up from my bed to investigate the scene — my heart setting the mood with its base and snare driven score, despite my fervent insistence of bravery. Full minutes were spent as I’d eased open my bedroom door, stealing an ever greater vantage as I went. Only to discover at my final perspective precisely what I’d not expected… an empty home. Embarrassed and abashed I strode into the room, shaking my head with aims toward my cowardice, grateful to let down my guard — when a menacing shadow darted at me with blinding speed. I tensed up, assuming a fighting stance and ready to engage whatever was intent on assaulting me… before I realized my folly. It had merely been the headlights of a passing car playing through the window.
Crossing the darkened room I shut the blinds against the gag, (an exercise in frivolity, in hindsight), before doubling back to attend the wailing warmth of my comforter, and promptly knocked my tender shin against something firm. And, right there on the floor, there it was. The cause of the clamor… my papasan chair had somehow rolled off its rounded base… I must have left it charged before bed. My forlorn book lie still in its nook. Wearily I made my approach to replace it — suddenly finding myself again filled with apprehension; an irrational fear, (of what, I know not), and, half expecting electrical shock, I grabbed the chairs edge… but again, nothing. I replaced the seat to the pedestal, doubly ensuring its purchase, and merely returned to my bed… baffled, though resigned to simple happenstance as the cause.
11:42, January 1st, 2014:
As I lie restless in bed, my circadian clock maladjusted for the abbreviated work week which loomed, entertained (and somewhat annoyed) by the silhouetted performance of dancing cells playing before my eyes curtain, and considering just getting up to go for a run… I began to hear the unmistakable sound of turning pages emanate from within my home. Being I’d read window-side before bed, I’d naturally assumed that the wind had simply picked up. So, and without delay, I arose… intent on closing the pestering portal and rescuing the precious time I was left to spend on my slumber. I threw open my bedroom door, took quick, dizzied, and shuffling steps to gain on the breathing window behind my couch — only to find it clamped shut and locked. I’d done my chore after all.
That’s when the books hit the floor.
They landed flat, trapping and then exploding out loudly with the air stuck betwixt them and my planked, wooden floor — engendered, I must say, with far more ferocity than gravity alone could have possibly proffered. Now, and before the instant where my mind would begin to scrutinize the occurrence, I remember noting the two books which had fallen: one, A collection of Poe’s greatest works; and the second, a hardcover of Koontz’s inaugural “Odd Thomas” Novel. Immediately then my mind leapt back to the incident, only three weeks then past, when the papasan had left it’s base of its own accord, stirring me in the night as it played against the floor… and before long I’d had myself convinced that my poor home had become possessed. My body tensed, rallying to run, and I snatched a hunting knife from its plaque before giving in, retreating then quickly to my bedchamber and slamming the door shut in my wake. Leaning against it, weighting it shut, I heaved for the stubborn air which wouldn’t come, (silently as I could manage, as to conceal my whereabouts), both hoping to, and not to glean some sound from behind my back.
It was here that I swear I’d heard a stifled laugh — a giddy little school kid down a long metallic shaft — radiate through the door behind my form. Slumping to the floor, my legs posted firm against my bed-mount for leverage, there I sat and waited… waited for the inevitable attack: an oncoming onslaught from a creature, or spirit demonic, to take my life.
But again… all was still.
And yet I still waited… my eight inch blade unsheathed, held in a vice-like, ice-pick grip, and ready to penetrate anything that darest try to pierce my fortification. Seconds grew to minutes, minutes hastily matured to hours… though my heart raced still… my mouth pooling with the taste of tin. A singular comfort came as the dawn arrived. Perhaps, “Comfort”, here is a misnomer. The dawn had reminded me of my obligations — namely, “clients”, and “work” — and so, despite my arresting trepidation, I ran my morning routine from my bedroom as best I could, before racing through my home, bloodshot and haggard, to dash out the front door, seizing sanctuary within the world.
The day was torturous — just sheer misery. The clients I’d scheduled to train were, each of them, demonstrably tardy, and in the solemn minutes which passed as I patiently languished, it became all I could do to resist the temptation, presented by my inflamed eyelids and weighted cheeks, to slip under the easy wing of comfort, relenting to repose.
I, however, am a warrior. I refuse to be average. I was made to command my mind, never could it be the other way: never could it, a mere organ, hope win this war of wills. I toughed out the day, remaining steadfast to the fire-watch of my mind, and returned home without incident — far too frustrated and exhausted to humor some crackpot, half-cocked theory about a capricious poltergeist — and promptly accepted the rest I’d so surely earned on this day…
12:21, Jan 21st, 2014:
Supine in bed, preternaturally still but yet mentally stirring, an overarching theory percolated within my mind while I reminisced over the copious bouts of queer happenstance which had transpired as of late.
The Poe and Koontz hardbacks were found — each and every morning — strewn across my living room floor. Some sort of odd protest, I’d imagine, which I undid, each and every day, by giving my dear friends back to their preferred recess.
Only a week past now, while a storm of thunder frenzied outside, my running shoes, it would seem, had craved the world without me… usurping themselves to places unknown. A requirement of my trade, I scoured my home for their likeness, only successfully making myself late in the pursuit — merely to find them out, laced up and mud caked, at the center of my floor. It had been my third trip through that particular space while attending to this quest, and I was doubtless that they’d not been there only just before.
Just two days prior now, having drawn a hot bath to assuage my mounting stresses — and with fresh steam still billowing out from it — I stepped easily into the brief pool, only to find my water to be frigid… And so, as a show of command, I willed my bodice into the haunted liquid anyhow, making clear my statement of defiance while holding firm my failing floodgates of fear, proceeding then to linger in the wash just as long as would be custom.
And finally tonight — the crowning jewel of occasion — as I scrubbed a vaguely familiar stranger for the Sandman in the sink, bodily exhausted and off my guard from an arduous days work, a preternatural force seized my skull, shoving it madly downward toward the basin, and successfully bashed my face into the faucet… splitting my nose wide….
Though, a curious thing here happened.
I discovered… that I wasn’t angry.
I found also that I was no longer afraid…
How many times across my long career had a client erred in their training, from fatigue or distraction, and maligned my face with a errant fist? And, equally as many times, had I not then been forced thereafter to forgive this infraction without incident? Countless. I simply moved forward with the session, not a trace of poison to my mind, nary a single drip of anger — when easily it could’ve brewed into a storm. Somehow this physical slight had driven me into my comfort zone. Someway had this barbaric act leveled the playing field in my mind…
Merely then did I raise my head, blood tracing carefree lines down the musculature of my neck, and apply a ginger glob of vaseline from the vanity — pacing then easily into the bedroom, before finding myself here, now, in the present.
Now, I lie in wait — wait for what, I know not… until it would come and teach me — anxious to execute a plan, one, admittedly, compiled loosely, barely held with the unbinding twines of whim and hunch, and about to be tested in a blazing inferno, but the only true course of action I could conceive. An action driven by pure instinct alone… though, despite all this, try I must. Try I will. What other options were left to me?
Then it came — strange footfall from inside; the clicking of a quadrupeds nails against my hardwood floor.
“Come in”, I tell it.
Giving the words an inflated inflection, one engendered with the authority of a recruiter preparing to oversee an applicant with slim, to no potential.
Then, for a time indeterminate due to its sheer confounding length… the air was still. The house merely maintained its stark silence. Before long I found my sanity cast back into the brimstone of question, as I raked, yet again, at all the details of occurrence which had led me to this day, and finding them, not for the first time, to form nothing more than a shamefully dubious pile of mere anecdotal evidence…
…that is, all before the door to my bedroom creaked and began to open.
The game was on.
In my mind, fervently excited, though maintaining well the course, I ran a countdown from three… an arbitrary condition of my makeshift scheme… and, just as the numbers exhausted, I leapt up from bed, revealing a man fully dressed, as I flourished the sheets like a mighty Torero would against the pressing horns of a bull — and somehow successfully snagged something within my slapdash net. The covers constricted the entity, veiling it and felling it to the floor, leaving it tangled and flailing at my heel. Then, in a flash, the disembodied heap lunged at me and I felt, through a wild flare-up of pain, the generous jaw of what seemed a common hound seize at my leg — teeth terrifyingly sharp, even through the generous padding of this, my thickest quilt. Out of sheer instinctual indignance, reactively I doubled over, throwing then my best right cross square into the things ribs, while switching my hips mightily for punctuation.
Heartily, it yelped… whatever it was… proceeding then to release its dire grip on my calf. The sound, I’d later note, was not all too dissimilar to that of a wolf — but characterized by an aftereffect; some otherworldly echo, an enhancement of post chosen to support an air of malice and menace. Ignoring the pain in both my leg and my nose, which had begun again to freely flow, I gathered up all the poise I could muster and walked easily into the living room… taking then a comfortable seat on my coffee table, at a place adjacent to and across from my papasan, casually then throwing one leg over the other.
“When you’re done playing the heathen”, I spoke levelly, ‘fatherly’ being my operative direction, “Come have a seat. It’s time we had a chat.”
The snout of the confused blanket searched blindly about its form — whipping from left to right, snarling angrily as it went — though, missing all but the dresser in its wild fury, it soon abandoned this pursuit, growing then to be still. I watched it, enthralled — equal parts trepidation, apprehension, and sheer curiosity — as the rising and falling of the creature beneath the sheet soon eased, calmed quickly to custom, and then physically lowered toward the ground… until nothing of it seemed to remain, leaving the sheet itself seemingly forlorn. Before long a gray, pluming mist wafted out from under a corner, lifting it ever so slightly as it went, before proceeding then to blow, breezeless, toward where I sat in living room — the suction of its wake then slamming the door behind it shut as it came.
The living, darkened air then rapidly approached my face, flowing quickly across my cheek, and striking it along the way… before then caressing the tip my right ear, rolling tenderly, thereafter, behind my head and descending easily down my neck. Threading its way under my left arm, feeling as a creeping serpent to my flesh, the thing then billowed, gathering it’s mass to a dark cloud at my sternum — before shoving violently at me, forcing me to brace, while backing itself deep into the comfortable recesses of the papasan across from me. Now before my eyes did it sit, (or, rather, float), finally permitting me a look at its form. It seemed an entity composed entirely of grey vitriolic gas, showing corporeally only two eyes of burning blue flame. I stared at them, those fiery eyes — not as some challenge of might to the beast, but rather as I would with any other being — as a show of respect. And they, in turn, glared back — clearly wizened, albeit composed with a medium of flame.
At last it spoke, using a mouth which manifest only as air passed its lips, lips not quite inhuman — though violet, voluminous, and uncannily wide — not quite human either… saying finally, “Very well. You’ve intrigued me, little Tremia. Of what purpose should I engage you?”
Ignoring for the time being this cheeky moniker, of a culturally unknown and yet obviously well fleshed out foreign lexicon, I said precisely what I’d planned, “What do you want with me?”
It guffawed at this, heartily, and with great mirth, the lips appearing again for the task though this time accompanied by the outline of two blue hued and rebounding cheeks as well. Abruptly then, its amusement subsided… leaving a frigid chill to the air, and only the duo of ominous, embering, penetrating eyes — floating without context in space — to go along with it.
“I’m here to claim what you lowly creatures have coined, ‘A Soul’.”
I swallowed my Adams-apple, before fortifying my eyes once again.
“Intriguing…” I began, matter of fact as I could manage, “So tell me, why is it important to you. My soul? What even is a soul?”
Again the thing howled with laughter, its full visage gaining tangibility for a moment, horrid, sharp, frightening features to it, before fading quickly back again into the ether, leaving mere burning eyes.
“No matter.” It began, lips showing only as words were spake, “I’m confident as to your awareness of the fact that my power greatly shadows that of a mere Tremia. What I will permit you to know, however, in these twilight moments of your existence, is that you will perish eternally once I take it.”
“I see.” I said, casually pulling a stick of gum from my pocket, and popping it into my mouth. “Well,” I continued, twisting the wrapper distractedly between my fingers to form a pin “not knowing what it is that you are, I cannot deny this… I’m certain that your might remains unchecked particularly to something such as me. But, since you are giving allowances, perhaps you can divulge this truth to me before I go… Why do you want it? My soul?”
Here the flames of its face raged, flashing keener and wider than ever before — swollen seemingly with pride. Momentarily did they squint, a sign of hesitation, a shadow of doubt that, if entertained, could easily signal the abrupt end of my existence… before they widened once more, again showing confidence in their unchecked power.
“I, as you may have guessed, am not of this world…” The beast began, as I gradually fished my phone from my pocket, “…I exist extra-dimensionally. Pan dimensionally, in truth… I have found a means of crawling backwards through the universal fabric — from complexity, where I was born, to here… the lowly third dimension; this final pathetic outpost of life. I’m able to span across varying complexities of existence by diluting my spirit to suit the rules of the realm: First, by leaching souls of natural dimensional origin; and then, bit by bit, by replacing them with increments of my own… all while consuming their life energies along the way. Soon, once I complete my journey in this particular place and thread of time — a journey over two billion years already in motion — I will become a god to this existence, as conqueror of each of its dimensions. Gaining then, and forever thereafter, the ability to continue my expansion, unabated, across all the other splintered, clipped, and forgotten strings of time… interminably spanning to cover all the possibilities of this reality as a whole… at least as it can be understood to one from within it. Then, once all of space and time has been conquered through this consumption — all that is and ever can be possible — finally a being of this world, finding itself full of it, will be able to venture beyond it. Me. Finally, will I know what lies beyond. A painting freed from its canvas and able to explore the artists hovel. After so long, I will finally find my place among the altar of the gods, and be able to create a world suited to my interests. Leaving behind, forever, the barbaric, archaic, and simple-minded denizens of this realm.”
My face was contorted in shock… How could I hide it? Across from me, in my home, nestled deep into the pocket of my favorite chair, sat the thing which would become something greater than our peevish notions of a God. Was it even possible? Surely whatever it was which presently rested across from me couldn’t know for sure either. Though, in its efforts, it would, undoubtedly, end all of life as we knew it — and even as we ever might come to know it. Acting off this shock, my fingers loosened and released my phone, splintering it to pieces across the hardwood at our feet… it must’ve known that what it had said was simply too much for a human mind to comprehend. Blindly, without ever breaking eye contact, I flailed at the floor… finding the battery to my phone, and cradling it in my lap for comfort.
The creature eyed me suspiciously, though continued on with its story — likely recounting it for the first time in many a millenia, and relishing in the idea that it would also be the last.
“However, frightened little Tremia, for now, all you need know is that my soul is presently still too large to manifest in your world… though only just. To this end, I require your soul. Your soul, you should be proud to know, is that of a type which necessitates my taking of it, rare as it is. It’s known as a, “warriors soul”, and is most precious and quite rare indeed. Congratulations… ‘Human’, is it?” It laughed, and I shuffled the items in my sweat slicked palm, “You’ve worked very hard across your brief life indeed. Your soul has expanded in tandem with your body in a way that only very few people ever even hope to achieve — in equal parts mentality and physicality. Both the knowledge of what you may do, and your attempts of execution are matched. For this reason you, a remarkable Tremia indeed, are whom I have chosen to complete my two billion year journey to conquer all of life, so that I may stand on the shoulders of this withered Universe, and finally, after so long, peer beyond it.”
I’d heard enough. Such an ego had no place ruling anything. Steadying my right hand with my left, with the circuit of my phone battery complete and held open with the simple foil from my gum, I pushed through the violent shock currently coursing through my arm to then lunge at the pompous thing across from me, to successfully land the cathode of this paltry circuit to the still lingeringly manifest lips which hovered where a face ought to be. Fighting the violent twitches of my arm, and ignoring my melting flesh under the ever-growing heat of the highly charged ions in my palm, I watched, frightened and amazed, as this creature composed of pure energy — as attested to in the recounting of his tale — was absorbed by a simple, inanimate material in this lowly third dimension.
When it was done, I dropped the coal in my hand to the floor, and watched it smoulder — radiating blue against my bare wood floor.
I left it there for days, that battery…
and for days I had to due to the heat.
All across the globe, reports of presidents, politicians, congressmen, and clowns dying spontaneously and inexplicably began to flood televisions and newspapers. The world feared some virus, or new strain of disease… but only I would know the truth.
Finally, after a month, it was cool enough to handle.
Instinct told me to leave it in the freezer for another month.
After another month, the battery felt like any other two inch, by two inch, by one quarter inch deep inanimate object might feel: Lifeless, cool, and inert. For giggles, I shoved it back into my phone, and, once booted, instructed the voice activation to regard me with a new name: “Tremia”.
To this day, ten years after my encounter, I’ve yet to charge my phone, not even once — nor have I ever had to replace my battery. However sometimes, late at night, a burning blue flame will show on the screen, lighting my entire room and darting erratically across its face, a thing seemingly scared and lost… and I’m forced to chuck a pillow at it.
Ahhh, and there you have it. Interpretations a-plenty are welcome, as I’ve packed in here quite a few. If the language feels weathered a bit, or ‘aged’, there’s good reason: Poe, and his macabre style and setting, played hop-scotch throughout my mind as I thought this up, and thus titillated my inner child, convincing him to try and emulate some of that vibe.
Here’s hoping it worked!
Hope you enjoyed,
Take care readers.