The Fountain and the pen

October 20, 2019 by Patrick Starks

Many of you have probably heard of the story of Excalibur, how it was lodged within a stone, and how out of the thousand that had tried to pull from it, only one man was able to wield it, but to be frank, that story was just make believe. Just an old tale written by an old smelly man that most likely wished he had only the arm strength to wield such a sword, however, the story that came after was as real as life itself. You see, somewhere, sometime in the month of October, there would be a woman who would write one of the greatest stories ever told, and her name was Francesca Fawn. She was dazzling. She had long dark hair, but later cut it up to her shoulders. She was taller than the average woman, about six foot two if anyone had to guess it. Most assumed she was a model but being the feminist that she was, she could never really find herself conforming to such a job, no matter how beautiful she was or how much money she’d make.  Francesca was without a doubt an inspiration to woman all around the world. She was kind, loving and strong all in one. And the strongest part to her was her words.

    On a sunny Sunday afternoon, Francesca had finally finished the second part to her novel, No Ones World, that of which was inspired by the famous soul singer James Brown, A Man’s World. When Part 1 was released, just as expected, many men didn’t support her book one bit, even some woman by her surprise, but of course, this was just jealously or envy, Francesca had told herself. There was a lot of woman that wanted to be famous writers, more than what a computer could count, although, that might be an over exaggeration. But still, you get the point.

  Nevertheless, Francesca was on her way to meet her editor, but unfortunately there was a problem. The streets were filled with thousands of people due to the football game going on that day. Francesca somewhat felt angered by this because there was never a time where the city wasn’t doing something that put others lives on hold. With her being as claustrophobic as she was, there was no way that she was going through it. She could still remember the day that she walked through the same kind of crowd, it was hot and muggy, and worst, she was late for her writing class which out of all of her classes, she’d never been late to. Little did she know she’d get herself caught in heard full of people that didn’t want to move. She’d eventually gotten out but of course, that was because she’d literally cussed the hell out of everyone that stood in her way. True, Francesca was gorgeous, but when she was mad she was like staring at a different person.

   To her left was an alleyway that could take her around it all. Unlike the streets its surface was brick layered all around, with incursive graffiti written on the walls that made her cringe at just by the sight. If there was one thing she hated as a writer, it was someone who didn’t know proper incursive. And sadly, it be dying art, which gave her reason to feel sorry for the poor bastard that couldn’t do it right. It just wasn’t their fault, society chose to stop teaching it. But at the end, that was the least of her worries.

   As a beautiful young woman, in her mid-30’s walking down an alleyway by herself, with no martial arts background, no pepper spray, no taser, it was definitely not the safest predicament for a woman like her to be in. But no matter how dangerous it was, Francesca needed her editor to see her manuscript that day. The thought of not knowing if it was good or not was killing her, although, she’d known well and plenty that it was because she’d have the best pen in the world to help her write it; they say a writers pen is like their wand.

   Francesca walked through the alley way, and not even in a minute in, a rat would run over her foot, brushing its sewage wet hairs against her skin, followed by its long slimy tail that slithered over afterwards like a snake. Most woman would’ve probably kicked the shit out of it but instead, Francesca stood motionless as it passed by. Fearing coming across another, Francesca put a little pep in her step. She could still hear the cheers from the crowd on the other side of the wall. She was nearly at the end of the alley way, which meant two more blocks around the corner and she’d be at her editors apartment complex. But then there would be a faint voice amongst the crowd that roared. It sounded familiar, and it didn’t sound like it was coming from the other side of the wall but in the alley way. But when the crowd had stopped for as little as a minute, she’d hear the voice much clearer.

“You know,” the voice whispered. “That’s my pen you have… And I want it back.”

Francesca felt shaken but not stirred. No one knew about the pen, not her editor, not even her ex-husband who she felt was the spawn of Satan. Even though she wasn’t a religious woman, she’d thanked god every day that she’d had only one kid with him.

“What are you talking about?” shouted Francesca. “Show yourself!”

Out from underneath bags of garbage, rotten banana peels and needles from a few of the homeless, a body expelled. The body was frail and dirty, maybe even toxic from the way the flesh hung from it bones for dear life.  

“Jesus…” Francesca paused. “Have you been there the whole time?”

Not a word was heard. All Francesca could see was the back of a head, with thinning grey hair, hunched over shoulders and hunchback which wasn’t from Notre Damme but from Vancouver.

“Mom…” said Francesca, puzzled.

“In the flesh,” the old woman grinned, as she turned around.

“I-I thought you were…”

“Dead,” the old woman finished. “Maybe in your dreams but not here, not now.”

   The old woman, that of which was Francesca’s mother then looked down at the purse she’d been holding, as if she had x-ray vision.

“In there,” she demanded. “Give it to me, give me the pen!”

Francesca took two steps back and held tightly onto the her Christian Dior. “You can’t have it,” she said.

“Francesca… Don’t be stupid. You know just as good as me what that pen is capable of. It helped you write your silly little book didn’t it! That was the only reason I’d showed it to you in the first place.”

“Yeah, I know what it can do… But mom… What you were doing with it was wrong, you weren’t using it for anything good, the only thing you’ve ever used it for was for your own personal reasons. And that was why…”

“Don’t you dare say it,” said the woman, with anger.

Francesca had hesitated to say but she’d been wanting to say it for 15 years now, and well, it had slipped out regardless of how violently her mother’s eyes looked.

“Because of your selfishness dad died that night! You wrote him away and I’ve been trying for years to write him back, but nothing ever happens. Its like writing a Christmas list and getting nothing that you wanted, not even a candy cane in my stocking.”

The old woman was quiet. On her dirty face a tear shed, leaving a clear stripe down the side of her face, from her eye all the way down to her chin.

“That’s because you can’t undo what has already been done,” said the old woman. “You either live with it or move on from it… That was why I’d kept the pen from you in the first place because at the end, I knew that was something you were going to try. Sweeti…”
“Don’t call me that!” shouted Francesca.

The crowd was still cheering in the background. On the other side there seemed to be sheer happiness but on the side Francesca and her mother stood there only seemed to be pain, but that was how life was, Francesca had convinced herself. For every bit of pain there is happiness and for every bit of happiness there was pain. With her being such an inspiration to many woman, she had every reason to be happy but there still was a chapter to her life that she hadn’t closed, like most of us in this life today.  She’d told herself everyday that she was fulfilled but still couldn’t comprehend what that fulfillment felt like.

  Francesca then pulled out her notebook and pressed the pen against it.

“Wait… What are you doing Francesca?” said the old woman.

“You’re wrong mom…”

“Francesca… No.”

“You see, I’ve been doing some research about his pen and even found some of your old notes. And as you quoted, If one has been written out of existence, they can only be brought back with the soul of the one that wrote them off…”

“No, that’s not true,” the old woman begged. “Francesca you don’t understand if you do this…”

     A young drunk couple then stumbled into the alley way. It was either they’d lost sight of where they were going or they were, in fact, looking to have a quick bit of fun, but either way, for the moment they weren’t welcome. The old woman then gave them both a stare so wicked that they would all of sudden find themselves sober again.

 “Okay, okay,” said the young man. “We’re getting out of here.”

“Geez, its not like she pays any fucking taxes around here,” mumbled the young woman, vaguely.

But as they’d left the old woman could see that her body was beginning to fade. First was her hands, second her legs and waist, and gradually the rest of her.

“Cynthia Fabel Fawn,” shouted Francesca. “I write you off in replacement of Malcom Ray Fawn!”

In front of her was a cloud of smoke. And in it she could see a shadow. It was as tall as her, muscular around the torso but not as much around the waist. Francesca walked towards it.

  “Dad?” she asked.

She didn’t here a word, although, she did here a few coughs. She’d walk closer to it and when she did it was as she hoped it would be, her dad. It been so long, a long and hard 15 years without a father figure but now he was back.

 “C-Cynthia…” the man coughed.

“No, Dad, its me, Fran, Francesca, your daughter,” said Francesca.

“Oh my god… Is that really my little Fran?” the man asked, with shock.

  Francesca couldn’t hold her feelings in any longer, she’d hug the man tightly, already promising herself that she would never let go.

“Dad! You’re back! You’re finally back!” shouted Francesca, tearfully.

The man then stood up. He didn’t age one bit, in fact, he was about the same age as Francesca, mid 30’s or late. He’d still had on the same flannel and baby blue jeans that Francesca remembered on the night he’d vanished. It was all so strange. There the man stood looking at his baby girl, that of which looked not different than her mother, only she’d have his chin and nose, he smiled. But what wiped that smile away was that he’d lost so much time with her. But he’d still had a mission he hadn’t forgot about.

“The pen,” said the man. “Do you still have it?”

“Y-yeah…” replied, Francesca concerned.

“Can I see it… Its just your mother had done a lot of terrible things with it and I need to re-write them back… You were too young to remember it all but she in a lot of  ways flipped this whole world upside down. I need you to trust me on this sweetie…”

Francesca without a doubt had always trusted her dad, but something about him felt off. But things had been off in her life for quite some time now, so it never crossed her mind really to why her mom would’ve written her dad out of existence in the first place. But she’d reminded herself that that was all just her mother talking. Her dad was a good man, always had been, and all she could remember was the days how he’d fly her around the living room like an airplane. Without thought she handed the him the pen, and without a thought he’d began writing what he needed to.

   Immediately, the world around them would change for the worst. The sun and the big blue skies had become dim, and the brick walls that surrounded them began rusting and later deteriorating. Francesca stared at her father in awe as what before were cheers converted to screams. Gradually, she could begin to see through her own hands.

“Dad… What did you do? Why?”

The man sighed. “I had to do what I had to do… I am the fountain and this I hold in my hand is the pen I wield. Your mother never told you because she knew how you felt about me, but me and this pen are inseparable, I am a part of it as it is a part of me, and she’d taken it away from me and wrote me out of existence because at the end, if she couldn’t have me then no one nor nothing could. I’m sorry sweetie but this is the way that has to be…”

“But I brought you back!” shouted Francesca, tearfully. “All these years I worried, and I brought you back!”

“I know baby girl, and thank you, I’ll never forget what you’ve done for me. But my mission must go on. Everything around us is so toxic. It might look beautiful from the out but in the inside, its just nothing but suffering. Who gave any of us right to dictate anyone’s life… Who gave any of us the right to play gods amongst each other…”

  Francesca’s body had faded, and the world around would fade with her. Malcom Ray Fawn had returned, and as he smelt the arising of a new world, he’d never felt so good. But after Francesca had faded, there would still be her purse, nestle on the ground. Malcom really had no reason to look through it but for whatever reason, he’d felt the urge to do so anyways. He’d opened it, flipped it upside down and dumped everything that was in it, out. He scrambled through it all, there was red lipstick, a mirror, makeup, hairbrush, a planner, and then he’d found it… He’d hoped that it wasn’t true but there in the middle of it all was a fairly crumbled up picture. It was Francesca and her daughter, another piece to his blood line.

THE END

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Caffeine World

October 12, 2019 by Patrick Starks

No one ever said that college would be so complicated when Tye graduated from high school. Unlike his peers he really didn’t have a clue to what he wanted to be or what he wanted to do. If he could, he would’ve just sat on his butt playing video games all day after working a long hard day at Best buy but being from a family of high intellectuals he didn’t necessarily have the option to do so.

His father was a doctor at one of the most prominent Hospitals in the country. His mother, most highly decorative teacher and most sought after in the city. And his little sister was already smart enough to compete with some of the greatest chess players in the world. It was as if he was set up for failure or set up for success. But deep down Tye had felt that his turn wasn’t going to be as glorious as family no matter how positive he tried to be.

In his 450 sq. ft studio apartment, nothing but cups of caffeine piled all around him. About four cups of Starbucks coffee and three cans of energy drinks, and still counting. It was enough to give someone a heart attack, but Tye had convinced himself that he needed it more than water or air, sadly. There was no way he could fail. If he wasn’t going to pass his writing class, then he was better off dead, he’d told himself. The studio had smelt of sweaty gym socks and dark roast, which was closer to a burnt smell than anything, and for that reason, Tye’s girlfriend Symetra didn’t stick around for long. In fact, hours later she’d broken up with him. But Tye never shed a tear about it, seeing how all he could think about was being successful, and if he could, more successful than what his family had bragged about.

Finally, out of all his years of being ridiculed for not ever being focused, today Tye was going to prove to everyone who doubted him that he could be just as smart as his family was, and he just couldn’t wait to shove the D down Mrs. Reeds throat. No, this time Tye was getting an A, and afterwards, it would be onto the big leagues. But before Tye had even gotten the chance to finish his last sentence and hit save, his computer would go black, and along with it his heart had dropped down into his stomach in panic.

Immediately, Tye bent down underneath his computer table in the hopes to resolve the problem, and it would be just as he suspected; his laptop was never plugged into the wall outlet, which meant his laptop hadn’t been charging the entire time. So, he plugged it back in, and with joy in his eyes a bright screen would reflect off his teary eyes.

“Yatta!” yelled Tye, referencing his favorite TV show, Heroes.

Without wasting any more time, Tye moved his mouse cursor down to the task bar and clicked to reopen the file.

THIS FILE CANNOT BE OPENED, it read.

It was then Tye’s heart nearly stopped. He’d done what most did in the situation and tried rebooting the computer. Being pressured with time, Tye cracked open another energy drink, and the more he drank of it, the harder it became to breathe. Was it Anxiety? Was it a panic attack? Or was it just the damn drink?

The computer then came back on, but when it did something strange had happened, something unearthly. He felt light-headed, and the longer he’d stared at his computer screen, everything around was beginning to become hazy. The room felt as if it were spinning.  

Before Tye had even realized it, he was out like a light and had slept through the night. When he woke up, he’d find himself surrounded by multiple people in a coffee shop. Although, these people weren’t exactly people, they were animated or animations to better put it. From across the room Tye noticed a woman in a red dress, with long hair that put the tang in tangerine. To the left of him was a man in a suit with an S curl oily enough to start a fire, and his jawline was so chiseled that it would break any man’s hand if they ever dared to take a swing at him. And in the center of the man’s chin was a crater deep enough to eat cereal out of. It was all so comical but real.

Tye then felt a little tap on his leg. He looked down and felt even more concerned than what he’d already been bearing witness to. It was a little girl with blonde hair in pigtails and blue eyes. And to compliment those eyes she wore a blue dress. From the way that she smiled Tye could already tell that she had a bubbly personality about her.

“Coffee!” shouted the girl with a smile. “Hey mister! Did you hear me? Or are you too busy like the rest of these perverts staring at the lady in red over there.”

“What the fuck is going on…” said Tye, still so oblivious that he didn’t even notice that he’d just cursed in front of child.

On the contrary, Tye still had a hard time believing that the child was a child at all.

“You know mister… You probably shouldn’t curse, especially in front of me. My dad would probably ground you for eternity if he ever heard you say that. You know he’s a professor ya know,” the little girl winked.  

Tye’s eyes widened. All that came to mind was the essay he needed to finish. More so, the thought that if he didn’t, then instead of Mrs. Reed it would be him shoving the D down his own throat, that of which he felt awkwardly thinking to himself rather it was about the grades or not.

“Where am I? What is this place?” asked Tye.

The little girl then pulled out a tiny stool and pulled herself up on the table in front of him. It was in many ways absolutely adorable.

“You mean you don’t know?” she asked.

“No… That’s why I’m fu… I mean, that’s why I’m asking you.”

“Oh boy this isn’t good…”

“What do you mean isn’t good?” asked Tye, nervously.

The little girl didn’t say another word after that. Instead she’d hopped off the table and headed back to wherever she’d come from. Afterwards Tye looked puzzled, and at this point looked for anyway to escape the hell he’d been dumped in but already twenty minutes in and he still couldn’t find a single reason to how he’d gotten there in the first place. A man from across the room then called him over. His voice was groggy, and his body was no different than Tye’s from what he could tell, at least not animated anyways.

“Hey! You! Yes, you boy! Come sit down!” the man yelled. “Have a drink with me!”

Suddenly, things had begun to slow down a bit. As if everyone in the room was giving off an aura for Tye not to go sit with the man. But seeing how the man and him were alike, he still had made his way over to sit, hoping that he’d find something he could for once relate to.

When Tye had sat down, immediately the first thing he noticed was the man’s hands. It was cartoon-like, with a big white glove that went over it like Mickey’s or Goofy’s, although, the other hand was just a normal hand—completely human.

“So, you overdosed huh?” asked the man, with an awkward grin, like Jack from the Nightmare Before Christmas. “Happens to the best of us.”

 “I’m sorry?” asked Tye.

“The caffeine…” the man paused. “Who’d ever thought so much of it would bring us here, and all for a silly test.”

“Wait… How long have you been here?” asked Tye, concerned.

The man then became silent. From the look in his eyes it wouldn’t have been wrong to believe that he’d been there for a few years.

“Seven months and twenty-four days,” said the man, with sadness.

Tye’s hands began to shake as he’d held the cup of coffee the man had slid to him prior to the conversation.

“You’ve been here that long?” asked Tye.

“Yup… And unfortunately, my hands already began turning into a goddamn looney toon sketch. It’s too late for me now,” the man admitted. “But it might not be for you…”  

Underneath from the man’s trench coat he pulled out the rest of his arm, it lied on the table like a giant Udon noodle. 

“What happened to your arm?” asked Tye.

“What do you mean what happened?” asked the man, annoyingly. “How long have you exactly been here?”

“Well… I don’t know. I took a sip of my last energy drink and just blacked out. And when I opened my eyes I was here.”

The man pulled his hand back into his trench coat and then stood up with his back towards Tye. Everyone in the room had stared at the man as if he was the spawn of Satan, but still the man was the closest thing to human Tye had encountered within the time he was there.

“Still wet behind the ears,” said the man, with a blank face. “But come with me… There’s something I need to show you.”

Tye was a bit hesitant to go along with the man. After all, he’d seen this part in many horror films; Man is dying or is sick but finds a young man to take under his wing as his protégé only to sacrifice the young protégé so that he can save himself. Tye had already played out in his head a couple of times already, but still he couldn’t help but go with the man, for everyone in the room were no different than the doodles he’d done in his chemistry class he hated so much.

Tye went with the man, and when the doors closed behind him, the party inside would continue.

“What was that all about?” asked Tye.

“What was what about?” the man replied. “You mean the back in there?”

Tye nodded. “Yeah.”  

“Right… Well, I wouldn’t concern myself with them… They don’t really like anyone who’s not fully animated, especially those of us who are trying to avoid being such.”

Tye nodded again, and this time his shoulders would be a little more relaxed.

“Okay… So, I never got your name?” asked Tye.

“Oh, right… The name is Dr. Safari. But before you start judging, no, I do not have my PhD but who the hell said you needed a degree to validate who or what you are? Why can’t you start being who you are now?”

Tye never thought of it that way. It made him feel good inside. All those years he wanted to prove to everyone what he was. He thought if he got the degree then things might’ve changed for him but then again, he’d seen a lot succeed in obtaining those degrees and still not achieve much. But the moral that he’d gotten from it was that he could start being what he wanted to be right there and now. It was just the pep talk he needed.

“Sorry… did I say something wrong?” asked Dr. Safari, worried.

“No, not at all. In fact, everything you just said is right, and was just what I needed to here.”

Dr. Safari smiled.

“Well, of course it’s right. That’s why I said it,” he chortled. “But I didn’t get your name either?”

“It’s Tye.”

“Like Tye dye or as in bow tie?” asked Dr. Safari, comically.

“As in Tye dye.”

“Nice,” said Dr. Safari, with a smile of amusement on his face.

Both Tye and Dr. Safari shook hands, and then proceeded forward. Outside the coffee shop Tye couldn’t even begin to comprehend what he was witnessing. The place was so magical. So… technologically advanced.

“It’s like that movie, The Fifth Element, starring Bruce Willis,” Tye smiled.

“No, even better,” Dr. Safari, intercepted. “It’s like the Jetsons.”

Tye then gave a fake smile. “Right… Of course, it is…” he said, sarcastically.

The sky looked as painted as Picasso’s Starry night. It was stunning. For the moment, Tye wondered if it all could’ve been his new home. That maybe he could’ve just stayed right there. Afterall, being a cartoon couldn’t have been all that bad, he thought.

“Dr. Safari,” said Tye.

“Yes,” said Dr. Safari.

“If you don’t mind me asking but what does it feel like? Your arm.”

Dr. Safari had stopped walking. He already knew were the conversation was headed. He’d hoped Tye wouldn’t go down that road but there it seemed he was already thinking about it, and not even a full day in.

“Let me guess,” said Dr. Safari, still with his back turned. “You want to know if this place is worth the stay?”

Tye hesitated to answer but still found himself to do so anyways.

“Y-yes,” he replied.

Dr. Safari then turned around.

“It feels like nothing,” he said.

“What do you mean nothing?” repeated Tye, troubled.

“Exactly what I said, nothing…. Like when you eat something non-healthy vs. healthy. Sure, the non-healthy taste is great at first but then you feel like shit afterwards, only to crash into an exhausting sleep.

“So, its that bad?” asked Tye, regretful that he’d even asked.

“Yes… it is,” said Dr. Safari.

The two then continued to walk down what Tye believed to be a candy road. The trees almost seemed to be made of chocolate as they passed them. The trail they walked was sticky, which led Tye to also believe they were walking on fruit rollup, but at this rate he’d doubted it because fruit rollup had no caffeine in it, so it had to be something else.

 Dr. Safari had taken them off the trail and pass the chocolate trees. Tye could smell them, some sweet, some dark, but either way Tye felt the urge to want to take a bite out of one of them.  The further they walked the more visible the house not far away from them became.

“There, over there is where I stay,” said Dr. Safari. “There I will fill you in with the rest. And if we’re quick about it we just might ne able to bring you back to…”

“Seattle,” Tye finished. “That’s where I’m from.”

“Y-yeah… That’s exactly what I was going to say,” said Dr. Safari, uncertainly.

Dr. Safari and Tye had reached the door to his home, and it would be just as animated as his arm. Dr. Safari knocked, and then pressed a doorbell twice. When the bell had rung, playful chimes echoed the from outside it. Awkwardly, Dr. Safari started to shimmy and shift his hips from side to side, but that wasn’t what Tye was questioning in the moment.

“I thought you lived by yourself…” said Tye, guardingly.

“Of course not! What do I look like to you, some thirty-year-old bachelor? I’m fucking fifty-nine years old!” Dr. Safari shouted.

“No way! You look as old as me,” said Tye, in defense.

“Dr. Safari then pulled out a tiny mirror from his coat pocket. “Take a look,” he said

Tye pulled the mirror up to his face. His dark curly chin hair was gone. The five o cl shadow was gone. His bold head again had hair on it now, which almost made him shed a tear just by the sight alone, and when he felt around it, he no longer felt just skin; it was like rubbing sheep’s hair. In both his ears he had a diamond earring, the fake kind. And by the side of his eye was a scar he’d gotten in a fight at school long before he knew how to.

“What is this?” asked Tye.

The door then open.

“Malcom where the hell have you been! I’ve been waiting all day for you to get back! Did you even get what I asked you to bring?” shouted a woman.

Dr. Safari stood speechless, and sadly terrified for reasons Tye stood in awe by.

The woman wasn’t the typical short, or shockingly tall, she was of average height, and as Tye suspected she was as animated as they come. On her noes rested a pair coke bottle glasses, but Tye couldn’t fathom how such did, for there were no hinges or temples attached to them to stay on her head. The woman had long chocolate hair and wore a comfortable emerald coat that hung just about past her knees.

“Malcom?” asked Tye.

Dr. Safari then slapped his palm onto his forehead embarrassed.

“Malcom! Who the hell is this?” asked the woman, annoyed.

“Jesus can we all just get inside first,” begged Dr. Safari. “Its cold out here…”

The woman rolled her eyes and then walked back inside the house, while the door stayed open. Dr. Safari had gone in first and Tye would follow.

“Ok explain yourselves,” said the woman, pouring both of them a cup of coffee.

“I’m sorry but do you have a cup of water?” asked Tye.

Dr. Safari slapped his forehead again. “Jesus…” he said.

“Water? Are you serious?” asked the woman.

“Y-yes mam,” said Tye, respectfully. “If it isn’t any trouble.”

The woman then grabbed Dr. Safari’s arm and pulled him around the corner of the kitchen.

“Excuse us for a moment, won’t be long,” she said.

Tye watched as both Dr. Safari and the woman, threw each other hand signals. He didn’t know what any of it meant but if anything, Tye could see that the woman was pissed, and that Dr. Safari was getting the verbal beatdown of a lifetime. The two then came back to the table. Dr. Safari remained quiet, while the woman spoke.

“Okay, so you’re trying to get back home are ya?” asked the woman.

Tye nodded.

“Well, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news but there is no way back. Once you’re in Caffeine World, you stay in Caffeine World.”

Tye was silent. All that could be heard was the sound of his foot tapping the kitchen floor. He didn’t know what to believe. Maybe the woman was lying. Why else would Dr. Safari tell him something like that? Or maybe it was that Dr. Safari had a different plan in mind.

“Dr. Safari… Or Malcom is it… Is that true? Is there no way out?” asked Tye.

But Dr. Safari was still as quite as a church mouse.

To be continued

Reapers with Angel Eyes

September 28th, 2019 by Patrick Starks

Yes, I think I understand it now, this life we live. It’s nothing but a gigantic school filled with nothing but young students. I guess we’re all meant to learn everything that we can of it before we go on to the next, although, some would disagree, for there have been many of us that have left this life far too soon. But on the other hand, it would be our ignorance to say that they didn’t learn anything at all or that we knew more than they did. But still, I just don’t get it… This planet… It’s merely our teacher yet we ignore all the teachings it throws our way. If we keep depriving ourselves so much of its knowledge, we’ll lose everything, and to be honest I’ve already seen too much of that already. But what am I supposed to do with such a gift? To be so awakened in a world of illusion is like being around a bunch of drunks and being the only one sober through it all. Am I supposed to just sit by and watch the world fall apart and hope that people find their way? Who knows…? But I guess that just comes with the territory of the many of us that have angel eyes.

“Daddy, what are we?” asked a little girl. She was three-foot-tall and had hair that came all the way down to her ankles, but in the moment, was tied up into a large bun so that she wouldn’t trip over it.

  The man who was her father had suddenly found himself caught off guard. So, trapped in his thoughts and he’d completely forgotten the little pride and joy that was next to him. And it was that pride and joy that made him think so deeply from the start; keeping her safe was all that mattered. The man then replied.

“I’ve told you already, I’m not your father. Well… not exactly. I am your father from the future. Your real father…” the man stopped before he finished his sentence.

He’d never told the little girl what happened to her real parents. But that was the least of the man’s worries. That little girl with the eyes of an angel, that stood not far from him, was something more special than what he could fathom. The man continued.

“But if you must know, we are the ones many call Angel Eyes,” he said, perched up on a cliff as he looked into the nights sky.

“What are Angel Eyes?” the little girl asked.  

“Well…” said the man, hesitantly. “Angel Eyes can see everything about this world as clear as day, the good, the bad, and the ugly, which over time becomes so vivid some almost become insane, but there are some that can wield it un-fazed. And with you being so little to wield it, well, that makes you quite the special one.”

“Is it like the third eye?” asked the little girl.

The man smiled. How could someone so young know about such a thing, he’d questioned. A little girl on an opened land with no books to study. Part of him even began to wonder if the little girl could read at all, but then he’d come back to realization that it was, in fact, his daughter that he was talking about. He felt proud.

“The third eye…” the man smiled. “How do you know about the third eye?”

The little girl then said not a word. She pointed at the man with her chin tucked into her chest.

“Of course, I did…” the man sighed.

“So, is it the same?” the little girl persisted.

“No, not exactly. Angel Eyes go far past the third eye. When you have Angel Eyes you have fully broken into the seal of your true nature, a god or should I say goddess for you.”

“But I’m just a little girl… And I’ve never heard of gods getting picked on.”

“What do you mean picked on?”

“At school…” the little girl pouted. “They all say I’m weird and that I talk funny.”

The man smiled and ruffled the little girl’s hair out of its ponytail.

 “Just like your mother…” he said.

“I miss mommy,” the little girl sobbed. “I’m sure she would’ve known what to do about it. She’d probably come by and give everyone them a spanking.”

“Yes… She surely would’ve. Probably even their parents,” the man laughed. “I miss her too, your mom from the future, well, both… Nevermind, but don’t worry, she’s still with us, somewhere out there. In fact, I bet she’s right behind the cloud shaped like a heart, just West of us.”

The little girl then blushed and pounced around the field with joy.

“Ooooo! Did mommy have Angel Eyes?” asked the little girl, excitingly.

“She did. In fact, she had the most beautiful ones of them all. Remember? Her eyes were like staring up at the moon at night, completely grey and luminating in every way. And with them she could see everything, more so, see bulls… I mean, crap from a mile away.”

“Eww! Why would mommy want to see crap from a mile away? It stinks.”

“Well, can’t argue with you there,” the man laughed.

The little girl then made her way over to the man and wrapped her tiny arms around his leg as she stared up at him with the same eyes he’d just described. Immediately, his heart would feel heavy just by the sight of them.

“So…” the little girl hesitated, teary eyed.

“So?” the man replied.

“So, was that why mommy went away… Was it because she knew everything?”

The man hesitated to answer the question. He’d thought about it a dozen times and throughout all those times he truly believed that was why his wife was taken. But from the pictures that he’d been brought in to come and see at the Sheriff’s office two years prior, he’d find himself speechless for the most part. Even down on the floor with a pool of blood underneath and around her cold body, the man’s wife still looked beautiful as ever. Ironically, peaceful, as if she was okay with it, okay with dying. But the man knew that this was something he could never tell his little girl. Not until she was old enough at least. But still he wondered if she would even be prepared for it when that day came.

  He’d jumped time after the time to save his wife, but the results would always end the same, with her dying and him dying trying to save her. And the pain of it all still lingered. He’d thought about how many little girls he’d left orphaned from the time’s he’d jumped, all of which were his daughters but… something about the one that coiled around his leg like snake he couldn’t find himself to abandoned. She was different, but the question was, how was she different?

“Yes… that was why mommy was taken,” the man replied, ashamed of the lie he’d tell. “She’s gone off to another world now, but to help others in need.”

“Like Captain Marvel?” the little girl smiled, still somewhat teary eyed.

“Yes, my love, just like Captain Marvel. But it’s time for you too head back inside now missy, it’s just about your bedtime, isn’t it?”

“Yeah…” the little girl pouted. “But will you tell me a story tonight? One of the ones from your journal.”

“Yes,” the man sighed. “I can read you one, but this time ask before you start skirmishing through my belongings. I want to prepare you for this world, not scare you from it.”

“Too late Daddy,” the little girl laughed, running back inside.

The man smiled again. “Yeah, exactly like your mother. “

Outside of the man’s home was a crystal river and a barn filled with two horses named Copy and Peppermint. Peppermint, his wife’s horse, was solid white and had red stripes that streaked in its long hair like the swirls on a candy cane. Its eyes were no different than the man’s wife, grey and luminating. But Peppermint would not let anyone except for his wife ride her, no many how many times he’d tried.

   Copy was, of course, his horse but still somewhat his wife’s since she’d picked him out in the first place. The horse was solid black, and so black that at night all you could really see was its eyes and pearly white teeth. In his wife’s’ words, a handsome man needed, a handsome horse.  And he’d felt the same about Peppermint and his wife. Gorgeous wife, gorgeous horse.

    He’d done his best to feed Peppermint, but it seemed she still was eating. Before all that had happened, Peppermint was in a lot of ways chubby, but now she was skinny as could be, with her ribs poking through her skin like rubber. The man felt as sorry for the horse as he felt for his daughter, but what was done was done and there was nothing he could do to change it. Sure, he could’ve jumped back into the future to try and fix things again, but the man was exhausted and had lost faith way before he arrived in the time that he was in. For once in his life, after the death of his wife, the man felt settled.

   As he walked the two horses back into their stables, he’d heard a strange whisper. It was just as soft as the wind, but like the wind the man had not a clue the direction it had come from. There were then chimes that played harmonically in the background. It was all so strange, because he and his daughter were the only ones that he knew of to live outside the city of Burdenham. But at the end, there was no mistake about it, someone was there.

“Who’s there?” the man shouted, eagerly.  

The chimes had stopped, as well the whispers. All that was heard now was rumbling noises in the background, like someone homeless rambling through the garbage. The horses jumped around in their stables in panic, which was every bit of the reason for the man to believe something was wrong. The man then picked up the shotgun to the left of him. It had only two buck shots in it, which wasn’t a problem since the man never missed, although, holding it he’d still felt a discomfort. Rather he wanted to believe it or not, the man hated guns, more so, the intentions that had come with them. But making sure the little girl not far from him was safe was all that really mattered. So, the man cocked it back.

“I said who’s there?” the man shouted, again.

And then someone responded.

“My name is Rebar, but you might also know me as Reaper,” said the voice far away, smoother than a whisper.

“Y-you mean as in the Grim Reaper,” the man swallowed.

“Yes, exactly but… I don’t know who or where that version of my name came from. Although, its grown on me a little, so at the end I don’t mind it really.”

“Oh, that’s bunch of bull!” shouted the man. “Come on out now or else!”

The man spun around, searching every angle that he could, but the barn was surrounded by nothing but darkness and hay. He’d wondered what happened to the lights, but realized it was a bit too late to start questioning such.

“You know, you’ve been very naughty Mr. Wines,” said the Reaper. “Very naughty indeed.”

“What are you talking about?” the man asked. “How do you know my name? Why are you hear?”

“Isn’t it obvious?” the Reaper asked. “I’m here to collect.”

The man now revealed as Mr. Wines said nothing else. His hands trembled as he held the shotgun in the air, although, he’d reassured himself he’d heard worst, and probably done worst through all the times he’d jumped. And it was then he’d have an assumption for why the Reaper was there.

“You know…” the Reaper grinned, faintly in the dark. “I don’t like it when people meddle in my business. You my friend have been jumping from time to time trying to save your precious wife not letting well enough be. You should know by now that there is no escaping death and there is no escaping me.”

Mr. Mines stood in defense. Was the Reaper there to collect his soul?

“Shanna died to soon and you know that! It wasn’t her time to go!” the man shouted.

A frail hand expelled from a black corner. It was massive, and when it rested on Peppermints head it would look even larger.

“Wait… what are you doing?” asked Mr. Wines.

“Beautiful horse, isn’t she?” said the Reaper. “In fact, just as beautiful as your wife now that you mention her.” 

Before Mr. Wines could make an attempt to stop what he felt would happen, now lying in the hay before him would be a cold peppermint. Copy nudged Peppermint with its wet nose but no response was given. It all reminded the man when he was nudging his wife’s cold body and then holding her in his arms.

“Why!” shouted Mr. Wines

“Because… I am the Reaper,” said the Reaper, with a cynical smile.

“I don’t understand… what the hell is your motivation from this?” asked Mr. Wines. “Won’t god be upset with you?”

And then gradually the Reaper would fully reveal himself underneath the moonlight that shined down in the middle of the room. His back and shoulders scratched the ceiling. And when he’d leaned into Mr. Wines his head would be just the size of Mr. Wines shivering body.

“There is no god,” said the Reaper. “Well… not at least one that I answer to.”
“You mean you don’t answer to anyone, not even the devil himself?” asked Mr. Wines, hesitantly.

“Nope, afraid not. And what is this devil everyone of you humans keeps on babbling about? He sounds like a knockoff version of me,” laughed the Reaper.

“But…” the Reaper continued. “There is a woman, who I follow up with on occasion. You could say she and I have an understanding.”

“She?” Mr. Wines questioned.

“Mother Nature,” admitted the Reaper. “But you human beings are so disrespectful to her. I’m surprised she hasn’t flipped your world upside down yet. But then again maybe she is for how things are going with this planet these days. Wait, wait… Dammit… that just mean I’ll have more work to do… Shit, that’s what she meant by other assignments.”

Mr. Wines stood in awe. So much history of the world, so many religions, yet hear he was standing in front of something that knew it all. Only difference was that nothing about the tale was inspiring. In fact, it was quite tragic.

“So, let’s cut straight to the chase shall we, I’ve grown tired with the small talk,” said the Reaper, trying his best to stand tall, but realizing that the roof might’ve come down had he did. And having a dead Mr. Wines wasn’t on his agenda for the night. Or was it? He grinned.

“I’m taking you back to where you came from, tonight,” said the Reaper.

“I can’t,” disagreed the man, looking back at his home.

“That isn’t your daughter you know. And no matter what you think you can accomplish here her fate is already sealed. She will die sooner or later, maybe now… If you don’t cooperate.”

“Please,” pleaded Mr. Wines. “She doesn’t know anything about this life, she’s just a child. Can’t she just come with me? You don’t understand, she’s…”

“She’s what?” interrupted the Reaper, curiously.  

The man thought quickly. Had the Reaper knew how special the little girl was who knows what he might’ve done, and it surely wouldn’t have been death seeing how the Reaper had already predicted that she was going to die, in his words, soon or later, disregarding the now.

“She’s too young to die alone… At least let me bring her with me. So, when the time comes, I can give her a proper burial,” said the man, with beggars face. 

The Reaper grinned and shook his head, flicking his finger at Mr. Wine’s head like the giant booger that rested by the corner of his nose, which was really the only thing that stuck at from the hood that went over his head. Everything within the hood was completely hollow, but there in the middle of it was a pickled nose that stretched out far like a witch or like Pinocchio.

 “Are you that ignorant?” said the Reaper, with annoyance.

“No, it’s just…”

“It’s just that your ignorant,” interrupted the Reaper. “You know, they say when you enter this life you know nothing and when you leave it, you know it all. But it’s actually quite the opposite from what I’ve seen. When you enter this life, you know who you are, what you want and what you want to be. However, as you age others influence tends to strip out the child within, therefore leaving them lost, confused, and not knowing their purpose in life.”

“I don’t get it…” said Mr. Wines. “Why are you telling me this?”

“You said that the little girl knew nothing about this life, and I just wanted to clarify how much you’ve forgotten and how much she hasn’t. But unfortunately, age will strip her of that. How sad… Probably the only thing I feel sorry about for you humans.”

Mr. Wines then dropped down to both his knees, as he stared at the shotgun in the palms of his hands. A diamond sized tear dripped down from the side of his face. All this time he thought he’d had it all figured out, or at least was a little close but now it was revealed that he was further from the truth than what he’d liked to believe. He then took the barrel of the shotgun and placed it in his mouth.

“Then maybe I should just end it all here!” Mr. Wines cried, muffled.

“Really?” said the Reaper, annoyed. “All that you’ve just said. About the little girl, about life, you’re really going to end it all right here, in a smelly barn of all places.”

Mr. Wines finger trembled by the trigger and the trigger was scarcely loose. Any time now, and he’d be a goner whispered the voice in his head, but then he’d pulled it from his lips. He stood back up on his feet, turned to the wall behind him and fired twice with frustration.  

“So, are you ready to leave now?” asked the Reaper. “Because I ain’t having ya meddle in my business again.”

“Okay…” said Mr. Wines catching his breath. “But let me ask one question?”

“Yes, what is it?”

“If I go with you, could you take me to see Mother Nature first? I have a question for her?”

The Reaper shook his head and sighed, and then put up somewhat of temper tantrum that nearly brought down the whole entire barn.

“Oh, now why do have to go and make things so difficult?” asked the Reaper, frustrated. “Did you know about the three wishes?”

“Like a genie?” Mr. Wines asked, surprised.

“Yeah. A Reaper has to allow for three wishes to whomever he decides to keep alive.”

“That makes no sense.”

“Yeah tell me about it… But I guess that something you can ask Ms. Nature about. Now can we go please!”

“Yeah, let me just run back home and get my things.”

“Alright then but hurry up. I’m starving.”

“Oh, one more wish?” asked Mr. Wines.

“Ugh… what is it?”

“Could you give Peppermints soul back?”

The Reaper then rolled his eyes and snapped his fingers to the wind, and joy would be in Mr. Wines eyes again. Copy and Peppermint danced in the stable like they’d never danced before, like two unicorns in a magical forest.  It was then Mr. Wines walked back down the trail he’d come from. It was freezing cold and darker than it had ever been that night. Part of him wondered if that was how death felt, but it had seemed that he’d already answered that question.

  When he’d walked through the door to his home, he could still smell the Hamburger Helper he’d made for the little girl. He’d burned it a little but still the little girl ate it as if it was his best made yet. He’d thought about his daughter from the past. And how much of a spitting reflection the one from the present was to her. But now he’d be losing it all again, and by the hands of death himself, who Mr. Wines had had a grudge with for a long time now.

  Up the stairs Mr. Wines went to check in on his little girl. She was just like her mother, rosy cheeks and all, sound asleep but with snoring that he’d found himself for once, laughing about. But then she woke up.

“Daddy,” she said. “You said you were going to read me a story out of your journal.”

Mr. Wines looked puzzled. He’d completely forgotten about it. But with the Reaper just yards away from them, he’d felt himself suddenly in a panic. But denying a promise to his little girl was like death, and so, he’d pulled out the journal from his bag and began to read it.

“No, no, no,” said the little girl.

“What is it?” asked Mr. Wines.

“You have to start off with the title, every story has a title.”

Mr. Wines smiled. He didn’t have a title, not for any of his journal entries. But he’d have one now.

“Of course, the title,” he replied. “It’s called “The Man who saw no Future,” he said.

The little girl then jumped up from her covers. “Ooo interesting!”

Mr. Wines began:

The man was just a man who saw nothing at all. Yet, still he’d tried, and did his best not to fall. He was handsome, his wife was gorgeous, and his daughter was air, but at the end life would show the man that nothing of it was fair. He’d traveled from planet to planet, star to star, but no matter how far, that he went, he’d realized that maybe time might’ve been better spent. But then one day the man had found his home, embraced again with love that he felt so out of zone. He’d felt he again, now had it all but still there would be someone at his doorstep that would call…”

“Ooo who was it?” asked the little girl, excitingly. “Who was it that called?”

Mr. Wines felt a sharp pain in his chest. He’d looked down at the blank page in his journal and realized that he’d been making up the whole entire story, although, nothing about it was fiction. Everything that he’d just said had happened and was happening now.

There was a knock on the door. The Reaper whispered the voice in his head. He looked back down at the little bundle of joy in front of him and thought of all the things that could happen to her if he wasn’t quick about his decision. And the decision had been made long before he’d opened the door. He wasn’t going anywhere, and his little girl if they needed to leave, was going with him. But his plan wasn’t to come along with the Reaper, which was the difficult part. The reaper letting him go was like a mouse trap letting a mouse go, which was literally death if it did.

There was another knock on the door and this time more aggressive. The Reaper was losing his patience. Quickly, Mr. Wines grabbed all the little girl’s things, the important ones and stuffed every one of them into his bag.

“Daddy where are we going?” she asked.

Mr. Wines then turned back to her. “Where going home,” he said.

“But we’re already home,” the little girl smiled.

“Well, yeah…” Mr. Wines corrected. “But we have another home and I promise you there want be any bullies there.”

“But what about Copy and Peppermint?”

“Oh, don’t worry they’ll know where to find us. In fact, there headed that way right now.”

The little girl smiled. And this time the door down the stairs would bust open.

“Oh Mr. Wines!” shouted the Reaper. “Are we ready to go yet?”

Being haste for time, Mr. Wines, slung his backpack over his shoulder, wrapped his daughter in a blanket, picked her up and exited through a path the little girl never knew about, especially in her own room. In her closet was what she believed to be the switch to the light, which she could never reach to pull. But that was beside the point. When Mr. Wines had pulled it, she’d found herself almost in a different world.

To be continued

When it Rains

September 14th, 2019 by Patrick Starks

PART II

A warm golden light had beamed through the hole of a worn-out window curtain, along with a cold draft. It was morning. And the smell of rotten eggs was in the air. There was someone or something snoring behind me, but I couldn’t really make anything out of it. All I could feel was something pressing up against my back, like a wet nose but not human from what I could tell, not for how bumpy it was.

   When I rolled over to my left side, there would be swampy skin and shark-like teeth right in front of my face, as the snot from its nostrils oozed in and out like Elmers glue. It then became apparent to me that what I experienced the night before wasn’t a dream at all, but not to cause any confusion, it wasn’t that kind of a party. I mean, I was just a kid. But moving on, more so, moving away from the creatures hot and horrid breath, I’d turn back on to my other side and witness another. By the window it casted a tall shadow. It was calm and still, but an intensity radiated off it that I couldn’t comprehend. Its arms were folded, and not a single bone in its muscular figure had shifted nor was fazed by the strong winds that expelled inside. Although, my guess would be due to the cold, that might’ve been why its arms were folded in the first place, however, I didn’t see one shimmy throughout the entire time I watched.

  I’d scope out the rest of the room, and there in the middle of it a dozen statues stood, just like what I remembered. By the statue that remained engulfed by new and old flowers was the last one out of the three I believe, the last gargoyle, lying on the floor, snoring like a wild boar but had a dry nose at least. When it hit 9am, the clock on the Moonlight tower would ring. Thousands of pigeons and crows soared the skies and not long after all three, well two of the three would awaken, and the first to speak would be Athena.

  “I knew you weren’t a dream little one,” she said, with joy.

In my mind I wanted to tell her that I was hoping that she was, a dream, but even though she was a gargoyle, she was still a lady and well… my mom whoever she was probably wouldn’t have appreciated me treating one in such a way, although says the woman that abandoned her baby boy, but that’s another story. Khon the gargoyle had already gotten up and departed from the statue he cherished so much, and finally the snoring had stopped.

 “So, what would you like for breakfast?” asked Athena.

 “I don’t know… what else do gargoyles eat? I remember you telling me last night that you eat humans, well, the bad ones anyways, but I don’t want to eat humans, even if they are the bad ones. Besides… I’m still trying to get over the fact I’m not human at all.”

 “Your right… Everything was spilled on you pretty fast wasn’t it little one…” said Athena, concerned. “But I got the perfect thing to cheer you up.”

“What is it?” I asked. “Is it pizza!”

“No, even better. Boiled eggs!” she said, with excitement.

I cringed by the word alone, but without even getting my approval, Athena had already taken a plate that looked as if it had been pulled out from the garbage and plopped two boiled eggs on to it, serving it to me like a chef at a 5 star restaurant. And if there was any time or day that I hated eggs, it was that moment, and the sad part to it was that it didn’t even come with ham.

 “How about you Luther? You want any?” asked Athena, while she watched and waited for me to take the first bite.

Luther from what I could remember was presumably the leader of the two, although I’m sure Kohn would’ve disagreed. Luther had stood there by the window motionless the entire time. And surprisingly not a smell came off him from the wind that blew past. Had it blown all the funk away?

With frustration, Athena had then asked Luther again if he’d wanted any of the food that I still refused to eat in front of me, but only the sound of snoring had come along with it.

Athena then sighed. “Ugh Males…”

“I’ll take three,” said Khon, making his way over from a dark patch in the room. He was always like a ghost, like darkness was his friend or something. If Kohn could ‘ve been the Houdini of gargoyles he definitely would’ve been just that, like a total Gargoudini. But before he’d grab his eggs, Khon would walk over to Luther giving him a slap on the back that echoed the whole city.

“S***, f***, s***!!!” yelled Luther, but then when he’d turned around, he’d realized that he’d just cursed in front of a twelve-year-old.

He cleared his throat. But to be honest I didn’t give a S***.

“I-I mean… sit duck, sit…” he said.

“Nice one,” Khon chortled.

“Are you two done being little boys over there?” said Athena, annoyed as ever. “Or can we eat already?”

Luther then walked over towards us and stared at me more seriously than I’d ever been stared at before. It was like a smolder mixed in with something else, like uncertainty, or something like that. Athena then got up and walked off with her plate, and Kohn had done the same.

“On a serious note,” said Luther. “As I said last night, you will be going to the Moonlight tower to see the Elders. Kohn will accompany us.”

I didn’t say a word. It wasn’t a dream, it was really my reality, one of which to be honest was cool but terrifying at the same time. A twelve-year-old boy surrounded by three gargoyles and now on his way to meet the Elders of the gargoyles. How many were there? Hundreds, thousands, maybe more. The thought alone brought me to a cold sweat of panic, but then Luther had said something that made me feel easy of it.

“Don’t worry little one… its completely normal to feel the way you do,” he said. “Anxiety is normal for a gargoyle. In fact, it was even normal before we became what we are… We spend our whole lives trying to find our superhero costume when in reality we have never needed it, you know. You are what you are and I am what I am. The quicker we accept that the better.”
“I don’t understand… What are you talking about?”  I asked.

Luther then bent down to one knee and tried ruffling my shaggy hair. His hand nearly covered my entire head.

“What I mean is that you will eventually become a gargoyle yourself. The Water Test already proved that. So, don’t try to fight it or be afraid of it, or be afraid of what others might now think of you. As long as you are happy with who you are that is all that matters.”

“Oh, will you give a rest already!” shouted Kohn from outside.  “The boy doesn’t want to hear about your insecurities Luther. Hears a piece of advice boy, don’t listen to an insecure gargoyle.”

And then Athena added her own little note. “Word of advice little one! Don’t listen to these two at all! Just be yourself!”

“That’s what I was trying…” Luther paused. “Ahhh… never mind. Let’s get going little one. Onto my back now.”

Luther would then take me up to the skies with Kohn, while Athena waived goodbye, but in her eyes was the same worry a mother would have watching her young boy go off to the army; the thought of not knowing if he’d ever return. And seeing those eyes made me worry even more to what I was flying into.

“There, there it is!” Kohn shouted. “Time to see the old geezers. I mean, the elders.”

While Kohn had laughed in the wind, I couldn’t help but notice how gorgeous the tower was. It was even more massive in person. I’d never been to Moonlight tower. Matter of fact, I don’t even think I knew anyone that had. When we landed, already there would be two gargoyles larger than the ones I already knew.

  One of them had long grey ponytail that coiled around his neck like a snake, and at the tip of it was a ball with spikes on it nearly the size of my head. The other gargoyle was obviously completely bald by the light that shined off his head. It was like looking at waxed peanut, hysterically. I honestly wanted to laugh but the look in his eyes had said that he’d already have enough of that for one day. Kohn looked to Luther and nodded.

  “Alright little one stay back here with Luther,” he said. “Watchgargs don’t like uninvited guest…”

Luther then walked over, and Kohn had cleared his throat multiple times while he watched. I tugged on Kohn skirt, no quilt. Then again, he wasn’t Irish… I don’t know but I’ll just call it a quilt.

“What are Watchgargs?” I asked, still tugging on Kohn’s quilt.

Kohn didn’t respond a word. His eyes were still locked onto Luther. There was something in his hand that he was clinching on to. It looked like a note, but the closer I looked the more I had to ask.

“So, what’s that in your hand?” I asked, still tugging.

Kohn shook his head off and looked down at me, and then locked his eyes onto what was revealed a picture in his hand.

“Sorry… you were saying something about Watchgargs?”

“Y-yeah… What are they?”

Khon then clinched on even tighter to the picture.

“Yes, I thought that’s what you were asking about. You shouldn’t worry about them,” said Kohn. “The only thing you should know is that they aren’t the most compassionate type. You see the one over there, with the ponytail and the scar around his neck?”

“Yeah… what about him?”

“Stay away from him,” said Kohn sitting down by a nearby bench on the roof.

Before I could even ask why, Luther had returned. He looked relieved but still unsure of what was going to happen next.

“So?” said Kohn.”

“Let me catch my breath first,” said Luther.

“You’re not gonna have much of a breath if things don’t go right here…” Kohn responded.

“I know, I know… They said that we can bring the little one in but…”

“But what?”

“But they said you needed to stay out here.”

“What!” shouted Kohn. “It was the one with the ponytail wasn’t it! You remember what he did don’t you!”

“Shhh… Please Kohn calm down… I know. But this is what is required to bring the little one in. I promise we will deal with him afterwards.”

“Ah, ya said that the week before and the month before that,” said Kohn, walking away.

“I promise…” said Luther. “Today we will settle it all.”

Kohn walked away grim, with a bad taste in his mouth. Luther then looked at me.

“Alright little one, it’s time for you to meet the elders.”

Luther walked me passed the two guards and as we did not a smell had come off them. It was strange for gargoyles. All this time I thought they all smelt of rotten eggs but then the bald one had pinched his nose as Luther walked by, which gave me the indication that he didn’t approve of the smell neither.

Past them was a double door, with engravings on it. They looked gothic, which wasn’t really a shock at all for gargoyles. Luther this time didn’t even look down at me he just placed both his hands on the doors and pushed them open. Most would’ve expected light to come right out of like the heavens metaphorically speaking but it was completely dark s***. And then someone spoke.

“Why did you bring a child to our tower,” it said, with a faint voice.

Luther swallowed. “The little one has passed the water test,” he said.

Thousands of golden eyes revealed themselves in the dark, just like what I remembered on my first encounter. They all oohed and ahhed by what Luther had just said.

“Did you say that that boy beside you passed the watered test?”

“Did I st… I mean, yes. Yes, I did.”

OOoooooo Ahhhhhhhh!! They’d all chanted.

And then one of them appeared from the shadows and into the moonlight. The first thing that I noticed was his webbed feet and the enormous claws that pouted out from them. It had long grey hair and was almost too tall for the ceiling that hung above us. Were these the elders? How big did gargoyles get?

“Bring him to me,” it said.

But I stuck onto Luthers side like tape.

“It’s okay little one,” he said. “Trust me… he won’t do a thing.”

I then made my way over to where the elder stood. Again, there wasn’t a smell at all. I didn’t understand the difference between Luther or them but I knew that there was definitely a difference.

“Yes, yes. Come closer child,” said the elder.

When I stood in front of him, my body was completely frozen. Already I could feel its wet tongue lick the side of my face, as its breath vibrated.

“Ummm tasty,” said the elder, drooling all over my head.

Luther made a few steps forward, for he was concerned.

“Don’t take another step!” yelled the elder. “Or I’ll bite his head off right here and now.”

Luther stood trembling, but still ready for anything.

“Now!” shouted the elder. “Has Luther told you about this tower boy?”

I honestly, wanted to run right then and there but I shook my head instead.

“Shame… Might’ve given you a seat here,” said the Elder. “Your something special you know that… Where are you from?”

“From here… In the city,” I said, softly.

“And your parents?”

“I don’t have any. I’m an orphan.”

“Shame indeed… An orphan child has no business in a world like this but then again you’re not quite the orphan now are you?”

“N-no. I mean, I don’t think so. Luther said that…”

“I already know, “ interrupted the elder. “I could taste it on you. “You’re a gargoyle but not a full one, not yet.”

“Are you saying I’ll look like one of you?”

From out of nowhere another elder appeared, and by my surprise he’d smell like rotten eggs, which had now left me with confusion and annoyance all in one.

“Is that a problem?” he said.

I then corrected myself. “No, not at all.”

And then the other elder faded back to where he’d came, and the smell would as well, thankfully.

“Let’s cut to the chase shall we,” said the elder in front of me. “We are going to put you through a test with a few others. If you pass, then you will be allowed to stay with Luther or us if you like. But I highly recommend you consider that it be us. The trial will start now.”

Luther’s eyes had widened. “My lord, you can’t be serious, he’s just a child.”

“Luther question me one more time, and I’ll bite your head off instead. You should know as well as I that this not just a child. This child is a Gartran. And ya knew it way before ya walked in here. Now shut it!”

I looked to Luther for answers but immediately, he’d turn his back to me.

“Luther… what is a Gartran?” I asked. “What’s he talking about?”

“Yes, tell him Luther. What is a Gartran? I’m having a hard time remembering. You know I am getting a little old,” the elder chortled.

Luther took a deep breath and then spoke.

It had been a long time since anyone had seen one but decades before the city of Burdenham had become what it was there was a gargoyle and her name was Penelope. Unlike the rest of us, she was absolutely gorgeous. Her hair was luxurious, dark as the night and silkier than silk. Penelope was one of the first and only gargoyles known to keep her human form. One minute she could be walking amongst the crowd that walked to their 9-5’s below us, and the next soaring the skies as if she’d always been a gargoyle. But there was a day when the skies were red everything changed for her. She had a child. Literally, still wet behind the ears, but as big as a baby elephant. Both her and Riar her husband, named the child Athena. On that day the rain poured so hard that the city became flooded in ways unimaginable, and within a blink of an eye, Penelope’s baby girl would be swept from it, like a fallen leaf. Penelope and Riar searched for years looking for her but never did they find one clue of her. Riar had become so ashamed of himself for letting such happen that one night he just vanished, never returning back to Penelope bedside. And that was when it happened. On the next night Penelope cried so hard that she’d eventually became stone. No one had ever thought that a Gartran could turn to stone but then they’d all realized that it hadn’t rained at all that day. That what made her stone was her own tears.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Out of all the people in the world, how could I have been a Gartran? It didn’t make any sense. I mean, the water test proved that.

“But what about the water test?” I asked Luther.

“What of it little one?”

“You said it was rainwater. That was what it was right?”

“No little one…” Luther paused. “That bottle was filled with nothing but salty tears.”

“B-but how? That would mean that…”

“Yes. You are Penelope’s grandchild.”

“But how is that even possible? Wait… You said the babies name was Athena… Are you saying…”

“Yes… Our Athena was that lost child. And she has never forgotten a day of how much pain she’d cause her mother. And before you ask, yes, she Athena is your mother. We, well… she knew all of this time. She’d had you by another, a human, before she’d realized what she was. Only it seems the trait of what her mother had skipped over to you. The form that she is in now, is the form she has to live with forever.”

A loud knock then banged on the double doors.

“Let me see him!” yelled a voice from outside. “I want to see my little one!”

Before anyone could open it the Watchgarg with the ponytail came through it with is arm twisted up by Athena. Kohn as well had come through nearly in tears for how hard he had been laughing.

“Serves you right,” he laughed. “Oh, how this has made my day. Luther! Victory has been served!”

And then me and Athena locked eyes.

“Little one!” she shouted, echoing the room.

To be continued.

When It Rains

September 7th. 2019 by Patrick Starks

When I was just twelve years old life was pretty neutral, somewhat chaotic, but neutral. I really didn’t know what I wanted to be or if I even cared really, but then there was that night a strange man approached me on my way back home. It was cold and wet out, and no matter how much you tried to avoid it with an umbrella, you’d feel like a Popsicle by the end of the day.

    The man was tall and well-groomed and wore the hell out of suit, maybe even tailored by the way that it looked. He must’ve been worth billions I assumed, but if anything, he could have just been some creep looking to run off with a little twelve-year-old boy, like most had done that year. But that was Burdenham for ya, the city of creeps, thugs, prostitutes and god knows what else. The place was a complete ruin but seeing a man in a suit so well put together made me feel a little like I’d died and was staring in the eyes of an angel for once, or at least that’s what I hoped. The man then spoke.

“What are you doing out here all by yourself little one?” he said. “You know this is no place for kids to be wondering around at this time of the day.”

The man’s voice was as expected, smooth and groggy. And he smelt like old spice, bourbon, and cigars. He was completely mysterious in ways I couldn’t comprehend, but the question was, was if the mystery about him was good or bad.  Although, by the smell of him it seemed he’d be bad.

“I get it,” said the man, chuckling. “You don’t have to say a word. I’m sure your parents have told you a thousand times not to talk to strangers; as good parents should tell their kids. But seriously little one, you should hurry along. You don’t want to see what happens when it gets too late at night. That’s when the freaks come out. But since it is getting close to around that time, it might be best for you to crash at my place for now… It isn’t far.”

The sound of glass then shattered in the background, and for an odd reason a horrid smell had come along with it, like death. Golden eyes danced in the darkness, and the streetlights that hung in front of them flickered in unison with every blink they’d make. Although, the man wasn’t fazed by it at all. In fact, his eyes had never left me.

“W-what’s that?” I asked, stepping back with caution, pointing passed the man.

“Oh boy, oh boy… I guess you’re a bit too late now little one,” said the man. “Just stay behind me, and whatever you do, don’t run. That’s what they like.”

“What who likes?” I asked.  

But the man didn’t say another word after that. He’d spun around and his eyes would stay glued to whatever was in front of us. I couldn’t really tell what it was down the street, but I could tell that there were dozens of them of them now, with steam coming off their breath like an over steeped tea kettle.

   Before I’d even realized it, the man was gone, and his suit would be on the ground soaked in the puddle before me. He couldn’t have just gone nude in such a situation, could he? Why would he? Although, such a man didn’t strike me as the shy type either, so it wouldn’t have been much of a surprise had he did.

  From out of nowhere a black cape with a black mask flew up into the air, falling gracefully like paper in the middle of the street. It was stained with blood and had rips and scratches all over. And all I heard after that was the sound of a burp echoing throughout every alleyway, I had contemplated on running towards.

Closer and closer one of the glowing eyes had already began making its way over to me, while the others stood static. Its face would be revealed underneath the streetlights, haunting me for every moment that I couldn’t move. A black scar traveled from the top of its head to the center of its chin, and it had a joker-like smile with jagged teeth in ways I never knew was possible. My legs had urged me to run but then the thought of what the man had said made me pause on the thought. Still, the closer it had gotten to me, the more I’d forget what the man had told me. By the time whatever it was, was within a couple of feet of me, I’d cut tail and run as hard as I could to one of the alleys, but halfway down the street whatever it was would be right in front of me again, drool oozing from its mouth like fresh honey from a bottle.

“Ah, ah, ah… Now what’s a little one like you doing out here all by his lonesome,” it said, licking its lips with a tongue as black as the skies.

I shivered just by the pitch of its voice. And from its hot breath all I could depict from it was the smell of spoiled tuna left out on a countertop during a summer’s day.

“I get it,” it said. “Mommy and Daddy must’ve told you not to talk to strangers… I understand.”

“W-who are you? What are you?” I asked, fearfully. “Please don’t eat me… I’ll do whatever you want, just please don’t eat me!”

It then smiled and leaned into me, as every bone in its body cracked like an old man. Its head was right beside mine, and if it wanted, it could’ve easily bitten it off by the size of how massive its jaw was. And even though I wasn’t the religious type, for every second its head rested beside mine, I’d prayed that that wouldn’t have been the scenario.

“The name’s Luther, and I am a gargoyle,” it whispered, into my ear. “And don’t worry, we don’t eat children. I mean, we do eat humans, just not children. To be frank, we eat the adults, but not the good ones though, the bad ones. You could say they have an interesting taste about them. And you really don’t feel as guilty when you eat them either.”

“Y-y-you’re a G-gargoyle? One of the one’s that were hanging above the Moonlight Chapel[PS1] ?”

“Did I st-st-st-st-stutter? Of course, I’m a Gargoyle but not from the Moonlight Chapel. From another place.”

One of the members of Luther’s group would then make their way over and they would be just as horrid and smelly, but was more like a workout musk, than a dead musk, which in all honesty still wasn’t good either way you smelt it. It had long dark hair but looked a little red in some angles of the lighting that surrounded us. It was much shorter than Luther, but one would have been a fool to think it wasn’t as scary. Its teeth looked much sharper and their skin looked as if it had been sitting in a bathtub filled with swamp water for hours, maybe even days. It was repulsive, although, I’d find out later that Luther would’ve objected to that had I told him.

“Ah! How could I forget. Over there is Xenia,” said Luther “My future wife. Isn’t she gorgeous?”

“Ugh… I’m not your wife Luther. I told you it will never happen. I have… goals.”

“What other goals would you have besides marrying me?” said Luther, confidently.

“Ugh, males…” said Xenia, annoyed. “Anyways, it’s a pleasure to meet you little one. You know that was a close call back there. You would’ve been the seventh child this week that had gotten picked up by that creep.”

“W-what are you talking about?” I asked.

“What she is saying boy is that the man you were just with was a pedophile and he was looking to take you home as he’s done most of the children in this town,” said a voice from a dark corner. “But don’t you worry. You can say he’s been retired.”

“But the black mask and the cape?” I asked, squinting to see what hid.

“What about it?” replied the voice from the corner.

“What was it? Was he like a superhero or something?”

“Ha! More like a wanna be batman. Trust me boy, that man was no superhero. It was just a gimmick he liked to play to lure little boys like yourself into his dirty claws. I guess, little boys are really into superheroes. But none of you’ll ever have to worry about him again. Although, there are still more like him out there so be aware of your surroundings. You can never be too sure nowadays.”

The voice in the corner then gradually revealed itself under a light no different than Luther had. He was large and muscular; about the size of Luther and Xenia combined. His eyes were sparkling gold and his smile was toothless but then teeth expelled from them like holstered knives; only difference was that they were dull compared to the others, which part of me terrifyingly wondered what would be worst; to get chewed up by sharp or dull teeth. If I had to bet my money on it, I’d say the sharp teeth would’ve been less painful or at least would’ve been the quickest death of the two.  

“Well I guess I should…”

“I don’t need any silly introduction Luther,” interrupted the gargoyle. “The boy doesn’t need to know my name, all that he needs to know is that I don’t give piggyback rides and I don’t associate myself with humans, especially children. But I do eat them, the adults. Or was it the children… I don’t know. I’ll just let your imagination wonder.”

“Ugh… Give it a rest already Khon,” said Xenia. “Don’t worry about him little one, he’s just grumpy because he got a cut from the man.”

“It’s just a flesh wound…” said Kohn rubbing the back of his shoulder.

“Where do you live boy?” asked Luther. “Where are your parents?”

“I don’t have any… I’m an orphan…”

“Oh, poor baby,” said Athena. “Oh, Luther can he stay with us, please? Can we keep him?”

Luther then looked at me with eyes as sharp as his own teeth. He took a deep breath and then spoke.

“Okay, okay. The little one can stay with us,” he said, walking away.

“What! You can’t be serious?” yelled Khon. “If we take him back, they’ll…”

“They’ll do nothing!” shouted Luther. “The boy comes with us; per request of my future wife.”

For once Athena hadn’t said a thing. Maybe just for once, the thought of marrying Luther was beginning to settle in a bit. Maybe, just maybe, as a goal she could see a life with him.

“I don’t need to go with you guys. And I don’t want to go with you. I have a home,” I pleaded.

“Is that so?” asked Luther, leaning in towards my face again. “Then where might that be little one?”

“D-d-down the street…” I shivered.

“And where is it down the street boy?” said Khon leaning in as well, slime embed within his hair like gel.

“Oh, stop it you two! You’re scaring him,” yelled Athena. “Come with me little one, I’ll show you where we stay.”

With just a blink of an eye, Athena would spread wings like an angel, and I’d be soaring above the city, confined by her arms, that of which felt more muscular than a body builder in their prime. I’d never seen the city as a place of beauty but as we flew above it, I’d realized how wrong I was. It was like looking at a thousand fireflies down below.

“I know what you’re thinking,” said Khon. “Beautiful right? But with all beauty comes a price. Nothing in this life becomes beautiful my boy without something chaotic happening to it or around it. And vice versa. In fact, sometimes things become chaotic or ugly because they or it realizes that due to their ignorance, they are forever stuck with the karma of knowing that they might not find beauty again. But of course, that all depends on what they are willing to change about themselves.”

“Spoken like a true poet,” Luther chortled.

“Go to hell Luther.”

“Too late, I’m already in it.”

“Ugh… males,” said Athena, rolling her eyes with the wind.

We’d arrived. The place was just as I expected it would be; filled with nothing but garbage and old sofas that people had abandoned probably months ago. Just by the looks of it all, it wasn’t a shock that they’d smelt the way that they did. But the thing that I noticed were the statues that filled it, like old relics.  They weren’t gargoyles but something else.

“What are those?” I pointed.

Neither of them had said word, and every single one of their backs were turned to me.

“The rain,” said Luther.
“What do you mean?”

“I don’t know if you remember it little one… But 4 years ago, when the rain poured the city became flooded. And well… the whole thing about the sun turning us into statues was a myth, it’s really the rain that does this. Fortunately, some of us were able to avoid it, but sadly others met a different fate.”

“But they aren’t gargoyles, are they? I mean… they look completely different from you three.”

 Kohn stood motionless in front of a statue that had flowers all around it. There was a twinkle in his eye, but unlike Athena’s it didn’t fall. Or at least Kohn hadn’t allowed it to.

“You know it wasn’t always like this,” said Kohn. “We used to be human to you know…”

“Human? You three?” I asked.

“I’m afraid so,” said Athena.

“Then how did you change to gargoyles? I didn’t even know that was possible. And if you were human, then how would the rain effect you?”  

“You’ve heard the story of vampires and werewolves, right boy?” asked Kohn.

“Yeah.”

“Well it’s no different. We weren’t bitten but…”

There was then a pause amongst the three of them. Kohn looked at both Athena and Luther for the approval if he should proceed or not. Both Athena and Luther nodded.

“But… there was a day when the true gargoyles ruled this city; the seven, we called them,” Kohn continued.
“What happened to them? Are any of them still alive?”

“No,” said Kohn, still staring at the Statue in front of him. “They were all murdered by a man we still cannot find to this day. Goes by the name of Vastros the Gargoyle slayer… And when he killed the seven, he’d no longer have a gig anymore. So, in order to keep the hunt alive, he tainted the city’s water with their blood. Before anyone had realized what he did, it was too late. When the rain came down that day everyone had turned into statues. My wife…” said Kohn, rubbing the face of the statue. “My lovely Rose… Before I could get to her the rain had turned her, like it had done everyone else.”

Luther and Athena were quiet with their heads pointed to the ground. Everyone had a look of shame in their eyes, the same shame that I’d felt since the day I was born; the shame of not knowing how your world could’ve gone so wrong.

“But I don’t understand… Wont the moonlight bring you guys back?”

“No,” said Athena and Kohn.

“We’ve tried many things,” said Luther. “Tried the Sun, we tried carving them out but realized that their whole entire body inside and out had been converted to stone.”

“And the water?” I asked.

“What about it?” they all questioned.

“Will I become one of you?” I asked.

Again, there was a pause amongst them. Luther then walked over to me and pulled out a small bottle, with water in it.

“Only one way to find out,” he said.

“No, Luther he’s just a boy,” pleaded Athena.

“I’m sorry my love but this is the only way. The boys right, he could be one of us and if he is, then we especially need to keep him from the rain whenever that comes again.”

Kohn nodded and remained close by his wife’s statue as he watched. Athena, on the other hand, had already stormed off and left the room, avoiding seeing what might happen.

“I swear that woman overexaggerates sometimes,” Kohn sighed. “Okay little one, put your hand out.”

“Which one?”

“Either one, or both, it doesn’t matter, just show them to me.”

I then put at both of my hands and Luther would unscrew the top the bottle. He looked at me again for assurance if I was okay with it all, but I hadn’t even been looking the whole time.

“Okay little one, this might hurt,” said Luther.

So much as a tear drop had fallen from the bottle onto my hand. And within seconds it would feel so cold that my hand almost felt as though it been put in ice for hours. In the center of my palm was a grey dot. It felt solid, like a stone.

“This might hurt,” said Luther, pulling at sharp knife.

“Wait… What are you about to do? You’re not thinking about cutting it out, are you?” I asked, concerned.

“Of course,” said Luther. “There is no other way. Besides, it’ll be faster than you know it.”

Athena walked over to console me for a bit. “It’ll be okay little one, trust him. He knows what he’s doing.”

Luther then took the knife and cut deep into the center of my hand. It was excruciating but he’d pulled the stone out just as fast as he said he would—within a blink of an eye. Athena had wrapped a bandaged around it, that of which I feared was dirty from all the filth that surrounded it us. At this point it was a high chance of me getting an infection but then again, I was one of them it seemed, so I guess it would be a high chance of that not happening.

“So, I guess we take him to the place now?” said Kohn.

Both Athena and Luther were quite as they stood beside me, like two parents that had just been told that their child was being expelled. But then it seemed they’d both come to realization that that was what needed to done.

“What place? What’s Kohn talking about?” I asked.

“Up there,” said Luther. “At the highest point of Burdenham, Moonlight Tower.”

“W-what’s up there?” I shivered.

“Other Gargoyles,” said Athena. “The elders. Not a gargoyle goes unnoticed from them, not even a little one like you.”

“What will happen when we go up there?”

There was a silence amongst them again. Every one of their eyes pointed to the floor and every one of their eyes pointed to the ceiling, avoiding any contact with my own.

“We should think about this,” said Athena. “The little one is too young?”

“Yes, he is. But if we don’t take him there soon, and they find out that we’ve been holding him all this time, then we’ll be soon looking like my beloved over here,” said Kohn, still standing regretful by the statue of his wife.

“Okay then… Its settled. The little one will go there first thing tomorrow night. But until then he’ll stay with us.”

“No, the boy should go tonight Luther!” Kohn shouted.

“Luther you can’t!” Athena shouted.

“I don’t want to go up there, its creepy looking!” I shouted.

“Everyone! Please just be quiet! I’ve made my mind up. Little one you go there tomorrow!” Kohn shouted. “And that’s final.”

Afterwards everyone went to their own spots within the room. I’d gone along with Athena. She just didn’t trust any of the guys at this point, especially Kohn, who kept staring at us across the room, waiting for our eyes to close, only so that he could take me up to the tower unnoticed. But Luther, on the other hand, was still wide awake. I’d gotten the feeling he wasn’t much of the sleeping type. Although, that night we all waited for the next night to come. The night when I would meet the elders.

“Night, night, little one,” Athena whispered, as a faded sound asleep.

[To be continued]


VJ, the Rottweiler

August 25th, 2019 by Patrick Starks

There’s nothing like the smell of fresh cut grass, the warm touching of the sun, and the drool of a life-size Rottweiler to get you up in the morning. Yup, me and V.J the Rottweiler were an item, partners in crime even, best friends, we did everything together. And at the time that we met, I was just a toddler, and as was he. It was easy to say that we were both pups during those years, new to the world and eager to learn about all its mysteries; although, as the months passed on, V.J would double in size, now becoming somewhat of a big brother to me, second big brother to be exact, couldn’t forget about Giovani.

Where I was from, most parents would have cringe at today if they ever had their little ones near, but not my parents, not Tarzan and Jane. Mom and Dad were something else. They were everything a child could ever want in a parent—sympathetic, strict, positive, strong, wise and loving.  And even though my family and I were what some would call country, we truly enjoyed those moments while we had them.

 Our home was built by the hands of my dad, on an opened field, with only tall grass to surrounded it, along with the creatures that hid in them. As dangerous it was to roam the field, there beside me stood my bodyguard as always; a Rottweiler whom most would run from today if they ever saw such.

Rattlesnakes, scorpions, black widows, even cougars were what V.J and I were up against. Sure, we felt we could defeat all that were on the list, however, the cougar would have been frightening, and a deathmatch if encountered. My brother Giovani told me the story about dads wrestle with the giant feline, how he took him down, but as I’ve gotten older I really doubt that such ever happened. Dad does have that big scar on his shoulder though. And every time I ask him about it, he just dances around the question to Stevie Wonder.

Like dad, me and V.J were not afraid. After all, we had our cat Sylvester for the snakes, as cats are known to have in their spreadsheet of professions. On most days, mainly weekends, Dad, VJ, and I would make our way to the barn. There in the barn we had a horse, who we named Copy. Still to this day I have no idea the meaning behind why dad gave her that name, but yup, that was her name, Copy. Dad fed her the typical apples and carrots, and she would waste no time to work her way down to the bottom of the bucket. I usually would feed her hay, but mom made me stop after Copy had accidently mistaken one of my fingers for a piece of that hay. But don’t worry my fingers are still intact. V.J as well had learned a valuable lesson from the black beauty, the bump on his head still left him memory of it. Dad would try to warn V.J, more than he could count. Vj’s courageous soul would get the best of him, and in the end, Copy would show V.J just how much courage he had in his furry body.

The bell would ring. That was a sign from mom that supper was ready. And man was the supper good, just thinking about it makes my stomach growl. Flame broiled hamburger patties, complimented by homemade fries. Giovani was already in the kitchen with his face stuffed as much he could stuff him. In my family food was an Olympic sport, if you did not get to the table in time, you would lose, and be left with an empty stomach to show for it. Me and V.J without hesitation headed in right after Dad.

Sorry son, but you know the rules. No dogs or pets in general, at the table.

Come on dad.

—You know the rules. Plus you know it ain’t sanitary to have that dog around all this good food. All those flees and mess.

—Yes sir.

I took V.J to the garage where we kept most of his things. He had the patio to stay too, but last time I left him there he was surrounded by thousands of scorpions. I couldn’t leave my buddy out all alone. So, the garage was always our second alternative. I took a handful of fries with me and a patty on our way to the garage. I wasn’t going to let my friend starve. He did have Mud Bay, but come on, if you were a dog, is that honestly something you would be okay eating ever day, no variety, no nothing, just pellets in a bowl along with a bowl of water—I don’t think so. Once I gotten VJ settled I headed back inside, but just before doing so gave him a big hug, for assurance that I would be back. He gave me a hug back, wrapping his gigantic caramel-colored paws around me. I was still little, but VJ was a gentle giant, an intelligent one to be frank. There aren’t too many dogs out there that know how to jump up and hit the garage door button to let themselves out, but somehow our VJ did, and because of that I knew he could take care of himself. 

Me and the fam would say our prayer and then eat, regardless of what greedy ass had eaten already, we still prayed and still ate. And after kicking my brothers ass in Mario Kart 64 afterwards, it was time for me to hit the hay, as most children at that time were told.

Time to go to bed baby. Go brush your teeth, you to Giovani. We got a long day tomorrow and I want to get ahead of all the chaos. People are like ants nowadays. Everywhere. You know, there use to be a time I could drive down the road and have it to myself. But I don’t miss those days. Getting pulled over, your daddy being harassed by cops was enough. I’ll admit, we live in a good era, don’t you two forget that. Now get going.

What mom said, mom got, and we didn’t dare challenge it. Not even dad, and he was freakin’ Tarzan.

The next morning was descent, not to cold, not, to hot, but just right. For once we were given a break from the southern hospitality of the sun.

—Mom do I have to go. Why can’t I go out with my friends. I’m in high school!

—Don’t raise your voice at me Giovani. You are not going, and that’s that. I need you to help me with your little brother this evening.

—But momma…

Mom gave Giovani the look. And when she gave that look, it be wise to not even think of a challenging plea or it be your last. Giovani became silent. Overtime we would finished getting dressed, and were on our way out for a trick or treat time. Before mom could even get to the garage, the door was already opened, VJ had let himself out into another day of adventure.

—That dam dog.

Mom had figured it out. Not like it was hard though, the claw marks near the button clearly identified who the culprit was, and his name was VJ. As we drove down a sandy road, I called out his name, hoping he would chase after the car to say goodbye to me, as he always done. There was no VJ. I called again, still nothing. And then I called for the third time, but this time with more ump, and there he was revealed, subtle, but I knew it was him.

VJ had the saddest look in his eyes, like he didn’t want me to leave. He limped his way out to reveal himself clearly, along with the injuries he had gotten. I’d ask mom to turn back around so that we could take him with us, something was wrong, but vision of him faded before I even got the chance to speak.

—He’s fine baby, we will be back later today, I’m sure he knows that.

That Halloween night was long, it was perfect, I had a full bucket of candy, even a new toy as additional bonus, but little did I know when I came back home things would no  longer be the same. It was dark, cold, something was different about home. It was quiet. Too quiet. I called out VJ’s name, this time more than I had done before. There was still no sign of him, no paw steps, no bark. Just silence.

—Clark! Clark!!

Mom yelled for dad. I rushed over to see what was going on as we jumped out of the car, but then Giovani stopped and held me tightly. Tears rushed down my face, just as fast as I had gotten to the scene. It was VJ,  laying on the ground, in one of his favorite spots, only he wasn’t a sleep. I called his name again, Giovani held me even tighter, then mom joined in.

—I’m sorry baby. I’m so sorry. Everything will be alright.

—Mom what’s wrong with VJ…

Mom became speechless. She looked at dad, and dad looked to ground. He was speechless as well.

—Well… baby you see VJ is a sleep right now. And he will be for a long time.

—B-but when is he going to wake?

Mom this time just rocked me back and forward, saying nothing. Dad let me say my last goodbye. It felt like a whole day had gone by standing there, but I knew it only had been a few minutes. Dad picked VJ up and carried him off, I cried harder. I could tell dad wanted to as well, but he always dealt with pain differently then most—dad loved VJ like a son.

—Damn Cougars, sons of bitches!

Dad had already assumed what happened, the swears in the background told me that.

—It hurts, I loved that dog. Little shit. Even through his death he found his way back to us, back home.

At the end of it all, I at least got to see my best friend one last time, and for that, I am blessed to have gotten that chance, as I know many sometimes do not.

Rest In Peace my friend. May we be rejoined once more in the next life.

—Love you always

GYD Knowledge

August 18th, 2019 by Patrick Starks

On that day rain poured punishingly, and as usual, people fled like rats into their homes as if they were sewers, but obviously better than a sewer need I add. However, there was no other place that I needed to go, not in specific anyways. As cold as it was believe it or not, the sound of the rain and the freshness it brought to the air calmed me.

Next to me stood my mom. Her hair was that of crows, dark and slicked back as if she’d thrown a whole bottle of grease into it. Her eyes were sharp and golden like a crispy crème doughnut and her scent would be just as sweet as it too. She held my hand softly yet sternly as any mother would do their little tater tot, she liked to call me. But never did she ever look down to verify if I was okay. I guess I couldn’t blame her; to lose a man she’d known her whole life, who she had a kid with, there was no doubt in my mind that that was easier said than done to swallow. It was basically written all over her, no matter how well she thought she was hiding it from me.

“Always remember this moment Oracle,” said Mom, with a tear shedding down the side of her face. “Do all that you want in this life before this day. Leave not one regret behind.”

During that time, I didn’t quite understand what she meant by it all, of course, what child would. But now years later I stand on that same rainy day like before, discouraged by the world I no longer wanted anymore.

What was I supposed to do? I hadn’t found my purpose in life, and to be honest, I really didn’t care, I think. I mean, did you really need to have one? I just wanted to live my life and be free from all the judgment and titles, but how could anyone escape such a plastic life as this. You had to blend in, and that was exactly what I did, or at least what was expected of me; being different was usually frowned upon. And I’m not talking about the kind of difference where people purposely do it for attention or money. No, I mean difference as in that is who you truly are, and unfortunately dealing with the ignorance of others who do not understand or even give a damn to try to understand why you are who you are. Arguably as bad as it sounds, being different does have its perks… when done involuntarily.

It had been years since I stepped into the graveyard, the Seacrest Graveyard. For the time that I stood there I couldn’t help but feel paranoid and miserable all in one. Lights flickered all around and what I assumed to be just the fog as well I felt somewhat confined by; like anywhere I turned it would always be there, hiding the path back to my car, back to home. Despite it all, I was too caught up in my past emotions. What my mom told me before her passing had never left my mind. And sometimes I would wonder if she had had the chance to do all that she wanted, or if she wasn’t able to because she was to busy taking care of me. I stood in front of her grave, with a bouquet of her favorite roses, shoes engraved in the wet soil that was now mud, tears running down my face like rain to window glass. Although, I’d convinced myself that it was just the rain and not my emotions that were stirring.

“Wipe those tears boy,” said a man.

The voice was raspy, a little creepy if you ask me, like a Camel smoking pedophile. Hesitantly, I’d ask who it was.

“I used to be something you know. Everyone had high hopes for me,” said the man.

I looked around, to my left, to my right, even behind and still, not a soul was there.

 “Who’s there?” I asked. “What do you want?”

The wind then howled, and the rain picked up a little, no, a lot, just enough to almost cause a flood.

 “You mean you don’t remember who I am,” said the man. “You don’t remember how I use to do that little airplane thing with you. How I used to lift you up in the air and make you feel like you were flying.”

“What are you talking about! Where are you? Come out so I can see you!” I yelled.

 From behind me dirt lifted from the ground, right next to mom’s stone. I think sharted myself just a little, but shut up, no one was around to tell about it. I was expecting a damn body to come out from underneath the ground, but inch by inch there a book emerged from it. It was larger than a dictionary. And it had vines that coiled around it like barbwire tattoos.

“Oracle… It’s me, your father,” said the man.

“Then if you’re my father, prove it. Show yourself,” I’d demanded.

 “I can’t… It’s kind of the laws of the dead you see. If I show myself to you then you will become dead to, and both of us will be bound to this graveyard for eternity. And I just can’t risk that seeing how I have just a year before I go up to the heavens.”

“Wait… So, does that mean?”

“No… I’m sorry but your mother isn’t here. Let’s just say she’s always been an angel even when alive. She literally went up their as soon as she died. But she did come to visit me once. Said she’d be waiting for me, and that while I’m down here to watch after you.”

I wanted to bust out in tears. Even when dead mom was still thinking of me. Part of me was beginning to wonder why I was still even here. Why couldn’t I be with her? Why couldn’t I just go to the heavens now? Maybe I could just end it all right here and then; jump off a bridge, get a gun and end it with one shot, slit my wrist… Those thoughts had always come to mind but I never told my wife Lydia a word about it. She probably would’ve freaked knowing how we’d lost out daughter to the kind of thoughts I just described, which gave me even more reason to give in but… I just couldn’t do that to her, let alone to myself.

“So, what did you do?” I’d asked the man, muffled.

“What do you mean?” he replied puzzled.

“Well you said that you had one more year, which means you weren’t all that angelic it seems, so what did you do?”

“Can’t tell you that…” he paused. “But the book by your mothers stone should give you a sense of it. It was selfish of me to take this with me in the first place. I’d always wanted to give it to you, but I guess my time had ran out faster than I thought it would. But maybe with this you’ll know a little of what your old man did in his life, more so, what I learned, as well as others.”

I then walked over and reached down to pick up the book and as I did, immediately I could fell an energy that was so empowering that any thought I had before was beginning to sound insane more than sane. It was as if I’d lived a thousand years just by lifting it, and the funny part was that I hadn’t even opened the fucking thing.

While I was down to one knee holding it in my hand a bony and soggy hand reached up and grabbed me. It was spongy, like a wet loaf of bread. And it smelt horrible, although, part of me wondered if it was myself that I was smelling, but again, this is just between me and you okay?

After the hand had let me go, a laugh echoed all around me.

 “Sorry son but that was just priceless. I mean, no one said I couldn’t show my arm,” the man laughed.  “My goodness, if I still had my stomach it probably burst full of worms right now.”

“Disgusting… Okay… that’s it, I’m getting the hell out of here, I don’t have time for this shit.”

As I through the book to the ground and turned around to walk away, the book would be resting on the ground right in front of me. I turned around again and still there it would be, in front me. 

 “Take that with you,” said the man. “I’m sure that you will find your purpose through it.”

“What’s in it?” I asked.

“That my son is the graveyards book of knowledge. Everyone in this graveyard has written down one piece of advice for the one who reads it; something that they learned during the time that they were still on this planet, well… alive and breathing that is. When they are done, whoever the reader may be must return it back here to the graveyard so that another deserving of it can take on some of its knowledge.

I then flipped through the pages. They were all blank.

 “But there’s nothing in it… Where is mom’s advice?”

“Impatient generation, “said the man.

“Where is it? I don’t have time for riddles old man.”

 “Your mother, my wife, has not written in it yet. And the reason those pages are blank is so that little impatient young men like you don’t speed read through it, like a 100-meter dash. Every piece of information in that book you need to embody and learn from. You cannot do so by flying through it.”

 After half an hour of bickering with the man for more answers about mom I’d move along. I put the keys in the ignition and started the car, while I left it in park. I was still uncertain if it all was just a dream or a reality. But then the song DO YOU BELIEVE IN MAGIC would play in the background as if someone was trying to tell me something. I then started driving. About halfway home and I kid you not, that same song still played. But the drive was good, and I had the whole road to myself for once. I looked towards the passenger seat where I’d lay the book. The book was so unique that I just couldn’t stop looking at it. It jumped a bit, but I paid it no mind. I was on a bumpy road after all, but then what the book did next was something I couldn’t ignore. The spaghetti straps that wrapped around the book had started to unwind themselves as if someone had stuck a fork into them. The book opened, and now this time it had writing within it that would change my life forever; I was looking at my first lesson.

As read:

The Graveyard. The place some say where knowledge is lost, and some gone too soon for those roads they had crossed. Nevertheless, that same knowledge remains embodied in your DNA, coded to your core like the apps in PDA’s. In my day such did not exist, leaving my mind in peace, and never in a twist. My knowledge to you whoever reads this is to live your life full and not allow yourself to drown; to feel the beat of your own heart and recognize all that it has found.”

The book would then close. I tried my best to open it again, but it was as if it was glued shut but at the end of it all I knew it would open again sooner or later. As dad had said before, I just needed to be more patient. As I continued to drive back to a place I would be in peace, everything I knew of life would unravel and release, the answers to the questions I’d pondered. Only time was all that would tell.

Thank you, Dad, hope you and mom are together now. And oh yeah dad, if you could tell our baby girl we love her, and that mommy and daddy will see her again one day it would mean the world to me and Lydia. Especially Lydia… But thanks again for the book, even though I still haven’t found out why you had to wait all those years to be up there.

The Heart of Caroline

August 11th, 2019 by Patrick Starks

Caroline… She was only sixteen when we became ocial partners in crime, we were just teenagers then, high schoolers, with no clue to what the world had to oer us, or what we had to oer it. She, of course, was drooled over by all the boys, the jocks, in which I hated the most, and they’d always come around us during lunchtime singing that annoying song by Outkast called “Roses”, and it was obvious they only sang it because her name was in it. But I couldn’t blame them, Caroline was definitely what I would call alluring, wielding eyes brown like honey in green tea, along with a smile so bright, like when the sun touches the sea.

I, on the other hand, I was just the opposite, the loner, the rebel if you will, no one really gave a crap about me, not any girl, but for whatever reason Caroline did. It was hard for anyone to understand the relationship she and I had. I mean, who could. Caroline and I lived two separate lives. She was a cheer captain and I was just, I, I guess, if that makes any sense at all. But what people didn’t see after school was where the true facts lied about the connection of Caroline and me, more so of who she truly was. No one would ever believe me, but Caroline was quite the master Yu-Gi-Oh player, wielding a card deck that not even Yugi himself could handle, and like always, she would rub in my face her favorite Ghostbusters song, leaving me defeated saying, I’m too hot to handle, too cold to hold, they called the Ghostbusters and they’re in control.

Yup. And you guessed it right. We were nerds alright. But screw you, Yu-Gi-Oh was dope, and any would be a fool not to play such a memorable game, and Ghostbusters, obviously, was just the icing on the cake. But we’ll save that for another discussion.

As good as I thought I was, that my card deck was, that my blue eyes white dragon was, that of which was level three thousand might I add, Caroline would always find a way to beat me. My Sorceress, I’d tell her, and she’d once again give me the smile that would bring light into my life over and over, as it always had.

Three years went by and we were now seniors. It was a happy time for our peers, however not such a happy of time for us. Caroline was accepted to Harvard, where she would pursue in her dream as a geologist, and I was to go on to a technical school where I would pursue in the arts. Since she and I were going on separate paths, I figured that this would be as good of a chance than any to finally have the balls to ask. And without a doubt, I asked her poorly. She wasn’t at all that impressed, I thought. But then Caroline would give me the most beautiful smile I had ever seen, dimples from cheek to cheek, highlighted with a dash of cherry. And if it were an anime, I’d say her eyes had stars in them as well.

“What took you so long?” she asked.

I hesitated, I froze even, I couldn’t think of any excuse but for the fact that I was scared, and thought a girl like her would never want to be seen with a guy like me, at least not in a romantic setting. Although, by the end of it all, I would be picking up Caroline an hour before the Senior party that would be thrown that night. I was a lucky, and what a miracle it was to literally be on thirty-fourth street.

Bur before heading to the party I figured she and I could get something to eat, some alone time. With Caroline’s popularity rapidly growing and my declining, it was almost impossible for us to ever spend time together, for the jocks and the prima donnas always found their way into an A and B conversation.

I took Caroline not to a McDonalds if that’s what you’re thinking, but a fine restaurant, one a princess like her deserved. One could say I had my connections.

There the two us sat. All were dressed to impress, people chuckled, plates cling and clanged, and violins played in the background as they harmonized to movements of the candle lights in the room. It was magical—something that could’ve easily been depicted from a scene in Beauty and the Beast, however, this is not that kind of story, not in the slightest. Caroline had always talked about one day eating at such a place, yet there we were, losing our virginity to extravagance, together. Seeing her across the table from me was something I thought I could have only dreamed of. Our first date, like our favorite song from Blink 182.

Being the cheerleader that she was, Caroline wanted to dance. Her head laid against my chest as my chin rested on top of it. And for the moment, everything felt calm, life was no longer a worry, at least not when I was with her. She then pulled her head from my chest in fear I thought and looked me in my eyes once again. Her eyes sparkled just as bright as the chandeliers that hung above us, her lips were red as strawberries, and it was that I was sure they would taste like. Any other guy would have thought this was my chance to go in for the kill, but no, sadly the opportunity had slipped faster than a bar of soap from a penitentiary.

Caroline was ready to leave and insisted that we took a walk for she loved walks more than her cheerleading. Although I knew it was more so about her guilt of the food she had just eaten; cheerleaders had a particular diet to stick to I guess. We’d walk for miles that night, talking about the future, our goals and who’d we become. And before we had realized it, we were at least three hours late to the graduation party, but we didn’t care, we enjoyed each other’s company, and going to the party we both knew would only destroy the romantic vibe that we were on. But it was getting late. So, I figured I’d take Caroline back home before her father roundhouse kicked me in the short shorts. He was a strange man, but her mother loved him more than anything in the world. It became apparent to me that the nerds, the weirdoes, the rebels, whatever any calls us, that at the end we have our day, at the end, we get the girl and plenty more.

As we walked back to my car everything seemed to be like the perfect dream, one of which no one would ever want to wake up from. But then things went bad fast. I didn’t hear it or see it, but Caroline did. Bright lights came dashing from the road swerving right into us, but as it approached us, my body went sideways, as if someone pushed me. Everything was in slow motion and all I saw were flashes—a twinkle here, a twinkle there, yet none of the stars I examined were Caroline. I looked everywhere but she was nowhere to be found. And the car that had once swerved into our direction had gotten the hell out of dodge, just peeling off with no care to see if anyone was okay or not. And the sad part to it all was that it wielded a sticker that said baby on board. Some mother she was. I thought, mother fucker… to be exact.

My hands then started shaking and the anxiety started to kick in. I yelled for Caroline, but still heard nothing. I turned a few clicks to the left and there she was. It scared me and I didn’t want to believe it. I loved her, I always had and there was no chance in hell I was letting anyone, or god takes her from me, not on that night, not then. I approached her and she was just like Snow White herself—a sleeping beauty. I thought I hoped if I gave her a kiss, she’d be with me again, but I knew it was unlikely. Why her? I thought, why now. And then she opened her eyes. Her honey eyes… all of which I feared I’d never see again. With a voice subdued only by the pain in her heart, on that night Caroline would tell me that she loved me for the first time. Her soft hand rested on my face. And as much as she was in pain, she told me that night was the best she’d ever had. I cried harder than any newborn child but Caroline continued to wipe them away.

Caroline then told me that she wishes she could keep me, that the world didn’t deserve me, didn’t deserve such a kind-hearted soul and one that sucked at Yugioh. I laughed and cried even harder, and she would wipe harder still remaining to be gentle with me as always. I wasn’t ready to let her go. And seeing her fade brought me to a Titanic moment. Although, wasn’t it me who was supposed to die? If I could trade places with her, I would do so with no hesitation, but I know deep down that’s not what she would have wanted. But maybe in the afterlife love, we will have our debate on this.

But let me get to the point and why I’m here speaking about this angel we had on earth known as Caroline. I’d like to thank you all for being here for Caroline. She was the greatest person in the world, she was my world and I’ll never forget what she taught me. Caroline would want us all to just be ourselves, as she had never gotten the chance to do so for she was more than just a cheerleader or prom queen, she was inspiring. I know she watches over us today and is with us right now, so if you all would stand up and make this vow, to never judge but to love. Most importantly, let us remember who Caroline really was, and not who she wasn’t, let us remember the heart of Caroline.

TUXEDo: Part III

July 14th, 2019 by P. Starks

I never thought it was even possible to go back into the future, and I never thought I’d be doing it with a tuxedo of all things but there inside of hidden room within a closet that smelt of mothballs I stood right next to what I still couldn’t believe was a leprechaun. Why couldn’t I have just been in a sweet ride, like Michael J. Fox, I begged, silently in my head. But the thing that still rambled in it the most, what kept interrupting that fantasy, was that I had a sister who died months after I was born and that my parents never said a word to me about it; it hurt. And it dug into me deeper than what Sensei Shon had done to my sternum during sparring years ago. But me and dad had never told mom that that was why I quit; because out of all the killing I’d seen thus far, mom would’ve probably been arrested along with dad, and due to the circumstance’s she’s currently in, part of me somewhat wished it was so. The thought alone made me wonder where she was… Where they’d taken her? But I guess I was about to find out soon.  

“You gonna be alright little one?” said Sheamus, concerned. “You know… going back won’t be easy…”

 “Yeah I know… But I need to do this, it’ll explain everything… remember,” I grinned.

 Sheamus grinned back.  “Hmph… Just like your father. Alright then little one, you’ll need this watch, I have it already setup to go round trip; to the year you need to go and to the year you need to come back,” he said.

The watch wasn’t like any other. It had no hands on it to tell the time, neither did it have any digital numbers. It was completely blank, completely black all over, and was a bit tight on the wrist too. I looked all over it but couldn’t find a single button to start it. Now don’t get me wrong, I was completely up to date with technology, but this thing was like what seems to be the topic of the day… futuristic.

“Breathe into the screen,” said Sheamus, annoyingly. “You gotta breathe into it.”

And so, I breathed into it and out of the blue digits from it would appear; it was the year my sister died, the year I was born—1989. By my assumption I’d clicked my heels together like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, expecting that when I opened my eyes I would be back in the future, no, back in the past, ugh… I feel I really need to have a word with Mr. Fox, but either way I was expecting to be somewhere different from where I was currently. But sadly, I was still looking at Sheamus’s bristled face.

“What do you think you’re doing?” shouted Sheamus.

“Umm… activating the time,” I replied.

Sheamus rolled his eyes. “No, no, no, that’s not how it’s done. You first need to hit the button on the tie to pair up with the watch; it’s right in the middle of it. Once you push it, then flick the tie on your left, not mine, and then it will spin counterclockwise, taking you back to the… no, forward to the… wait a minute…”

I laughed. I guess Sheamus was just as confused as I was. Nevertheless, I pushed the button and all I heard after that was this Beboop Beboop sound; it was ridiculous and stereotypical, but still I had to admit it was pretty freaking cool. Last, I flicked the tie and it would spin like a sideways merry-go-round. My whole body began to disintegrate one by one; first my legs, second my left arm, my waist, and what my dad liked to say, the family jewels. Before I could ask anything else from Sheamus I’d disintegrated all the way up to my neck. And the last thing I heard was Sheamus’s fading voice.

GOO D L U CK… CH CH CH AH AH, it faded, jokingly.

Not long after I’d find myself in the middle of the road, bright lights flashing on me as I lied in a fetal position, shivering like I’d just swam in the Alaskan waters. It all happened so fast, with just the blink of an eye; it was 1989, but I sure didn’t remember it being as cold as it was; cold as the family jewels.

“Hey kid! Get out of the middle of the road?” yelled a man, hanging outside the window of a Ferrari.

It was the standard cherry red dad had always dreamed about. He’d always talked about how bad he wanted one but, of course, he could never come up with the funds for it. Who could in a middle income household, although, a part of me questioned that seeing how the tuxedo I wore and the technology that ran through it had to be hundreds of thousands of dollars just to make. Was dad Bruce Wayne? Ha, ha, nah; voice just didn’t sound raspy enough. Can we agree?

I then walked to the curb and off the road, and the man would peel off with his model of a girlfriend in the passenger seat, instantly finding themselves at eighty-five on the highway. There must have been something wrong with his engine though with all the smoke that lingered. But dad was right; a Ferrari moved incredibly fast.

Nevertheless, what I was there for in the first place was my sister, and the bonus would be finding out more about dad and who was after the Tuxedo.

“Roman… Come in Roman… Can you hear me?” said a voice, static and faint.

It honestly could’ve come from anywhere. But what really sparked my curiosity was how anyone would know who I was in 1989, I mean, I was just a baby, wherever I was.

“Boy! Can you hear me? It’s Sheamus! Look down at your watch. Come in, come in little one.”

I then lifted the watch up to my lips. “Sheamus?”

“No, I’m the leprechaun,” said Sheamus, sarcastically. “Of course, its me. How do you feel?”

“Alright, I guess… A little nauseous but fine.”

“That’s good. That’s very good to hear. Now I can’t guide you myself necessarily, but I will be here as they say, for emotional support. Again, this won’t be easy but if your anything like your father, you’ll be just fine. To get started cough into the watch and it will show you where the waypoint is.”

Emotional support? I mean, what kind of crap was that. Did he think I was some child or something?

“You are and yes emotional support is what you will need,” chortled Sheamus.

It was then I realized that apparently leprechauns could read minds too. But from the future? Yeah, maybe for another story.

I’d walk in a fast pace, then jog, and then repeat it all over again; I didn’t know how much time I really had, so, being quick about what I needed to do was mandatory, still I didn’t know what I would do when I got there either. What was I going to say to my sister who in that time only knew me as an infant? And what would happen if dad saw me? Would it effect the time I was supposed to be in…

For every block I passed, lights flickered and some of the best songs I could remember echoed. I wasn’t far from my destination now, about another block if my calculations were correct or from what the watch showed. But my stomach was growling, and my mouth watered like a leaking water faucet. But then my eyes sparkled with joy; Burger King. By habit I reached down to my pockets to grab my wallet, but it seemed I’d left them in my other pants, obviously.

“Don’t worry,” said Sheamus. “Check the inside of your coat. In it will be a few bills to get you by.”

Eagerly I checked my pockets and my stomach would growl, Hell Yeah. But it said that, not me, so mom never needs to know about it. Anyways, I walked up to the cashier and requested a double whopper plain, with cheese and ketchup, with a side of large fries and Barqs root beer. The cashier rolled her eyes.

“Is that all you want?” she said. “Like, you don’t want any lettuce, tomatoe, onions on it…”

“Nope,” I repeated. “Just meat, cheese, and ketchup please.”

Again, the cashier had rolled her eyes but this time a smile came with it.

“You’re an adorable little kid you know that,” she smiled. “That’ll be $11.98.”

“$11.98! My a…”

“My goodness, that’s a good price,” I interrupted. “Cool it leprechaun…”

The cashier then leaned over the counter with frustration; I guess she was already having a bad day. “Excuse me? What did you just say?”

“N-nothing at all… Just that leprechauns are cool… You know how lucky the four-leaf clover is? You know the story behind it?”

The cashier then looked at me suspiciously as she gave me back my change.

“Yeah sure… Where are your parents?” she asked. “More so, why the heck are you in a tuxedo? Wait do you have a little date? Oooo, who’s the special girl?”

Out of nowhere two more girls that worked with the one in front of me circled around me like a bunch of sharks. They tugged on my cheeks and ruffled my hair, all saying the same thing; oh, he’s so cute. Sarah let’s get a picture.

It was then I ran for my life, but sadly leaving my whopper and fries behind. Still, with a hungry stomach I’d managed to drag myself to the waypoint.

“Here…” said Sheamus. “This is where they arrived first.”

It was a mall. I’d never seen anything like it, bright lights flashing all around it as if it were a season to be jolly. From it I could hear nothing but cheers and laughter. But then I saw him… It was dad and yes, still in a Tuxedo of all things, although, it seemed he was more into variety than just black then; it was solid white, with red stripes traveling vertically down it in every angle. He still had that same exaggerative laugh, that of which I could’ve heard probably back at the Burger King if I listened hard enough. But he was all alone… Where was my sister?

Kids were literally all over the freaking place. I looked at them all but not one of them I felt was my sister. But then dad put on smile bigger than I’d ever seen him do before. He bent down to one knee with opened arms, and out of nowhere a girl with hair like fire, in a polka dotted dress expelled through the crowd with a smile identical to moms.

“That’s her,” said Sheamus. “That’s your sister. That’s Natalya.”

“Natalya…”

As I watched dad lift her up and spin her around, I stood frozen with mixed emotions; I was happy but sad too. She looked so heartwarming, and just the sight of it made me regret never having the chance to have met her. I looked down at the tuxedo I wore and thought, all of this for you Natalya, of course it was sister, look at you, I smiled, tearfully.

“You still sure you want to go through with this?” said Sheamus. “We can always go back… Maybe even find anoth…”

“No,” I interrupted. “I can do this. I’ll be fine… Just need to figure out what to say.”

“You say nothing. The only objective here is to prevent the car wreck from happening. Its from this event they left and afterwards got on the road. It was after this event your dad lost your sister. But if we prevent this event from happening maybe a new answer will transpire.”

“Okay, okay! I get it,” I shouted. “So, what then?”

Sheamus was quite now. I’d call for him at least four or five times but it seemed he’d abandoned me for the moment. Guess it was another one of his so-called lessons he was trying to teach. I must’ve watched dad and my sister for fifteen minutes in joy… Dad was so happy then; it was like torture seeing him now and remembering what he’d converted to in my time. I could now see why mom had been so patient through all those years with him; he’d been in denial the whole time, refusing to believe that Natalya was gone. But there I stood the only one that could do anything about it.

From my peripheral a strange man stood around the corner of the store they were at. I don’t know if he was some pervert or what, but I could see that whatever his intentions were, they were cruel. The man wore black shades, like Wesley Snipes in Blade. He wore a suit of his own, but it wasn’t a Tux thank the lord, still it annoyed the hell out of me all the same. I needed to investigate.

As dad and Natalya walked out from the store with Ice Cream cones in their hand, the man followed, but kept his distance. Dad had looked back a few times, but the man was good; every time dad had turned, he’d find a way to hide himself. But I could also tell that dad felt something was wrong; he’d gone from cheerful to cautious in a matter of seconds. Although, Natalya still showered everyone they passed with blissfulness. If angels ever existed in this life, she was definitely one of them.

It seemed like they’d done all they needed for the day; so, both dad and Natalya began making their way over towards the exit. But when I looked around the man was gone. I couldn’t believe I lost track of him. Without any thought I ran outside of the mall to catch up with dad and Natalya, for wherever the man had gone, I knew somewhere on the road he’d be waiting for them.

When I arrived at the parking lot it was like a maze. What the heck was dad even driving in 1989? I questioned. It was definitely one of those moments Sheamus’s wisdom could’ve come to use, however, he still wasn’t responding to me. I was beginning to believe what happened in the past hurt him more than what he believed.

Nevertheless, I went from car to car, hoping to find a red velvet cake suit and a carrottop, but most I found were cars bouncing up and down, with fogged windows. I’d gotten yelled at by a few of them.

“Hey! Get out of here you little pervert!” yelled a man, from outside the window of his car; it was cherry red.

Both our eyes connected, and frustration would be embedded in both.

“You again,” we both said.

The man then stepped out of his Ferrari, with his shirt unbuttoned and pants unzipped. I guess this what mom meant by I couldn’t see R-rated films.

“Hey kid, where the heck are your parents at?” the man asked. “Your starting to be quite the nuisance you know.”

His girlfriend then stepped out, hair in a mess, mascara sweating down her face, with blotches of red around her neck. For a minute I thought I’d saved her life; for all that had been done to her I’d begin to suspect that the man might’ve been a vampire, but I had no garlic or a cross to prove it. So, instead I stood in front of him, holding both my index fingers up in the form of one. His girlfriend giggled.

“Now that’s just too cute,” she said.

But the man had obviously had enough of me. He grabbed me by the shoulders and then carried me around the parking lot like a ragdoll.

“You’ve been a pain in my butt ever since I saw you in the middle of the road,” he said. “Now where the heck are your parents mini Bond? I’m trying to get my freak on. And it is nighttime if you know what I mean.”

I’d done my best to break free from him, but again, I was just a kid, and didn’t have nearly the strength that he did. I thought, maybe I could push the button on the bowtie, jump to the actual future of my older self, come back and give them man a lesson or two about picking on people his own size but I already could hear Sheamus’s faint answer to it, even if he wasn’t responding.

Though, out of nowhere I’d be freed and when I looked behind all I could see was the guy from the Ferrari being held up in the air like a newborn baby. By his crotch area the denim he wore had become darker, and a sour smell instantly was noticed.

“Okay, okay, let me go,” he cried. “We were just having a little chat!”

“Hey kid, this guy bothering you?” said the man.

I was so speechless I nearly choked on my own spit. It was freaking dad, in that ugly red velvet tux of his, and behind him stood Natalya, hair bouncing in the cold night air like a flame to the wind. She was relaxed surprisingly, which led me reason to believe that dad had done this kind of thing more than once in front of her.

And then she’d walk up to me, gazing up and down at me as she’d circled around. The ice cream cone she had was nearly gone, no, was gone, it just seemed she didn’t care to finish the cone part. She chugged it behind her nearly hitting dad’s tux.

“Hey… honey, you got watch it. What have I told you about that?” said dad.

She smiled, and then she spoke. “I like this one dad. He’s like a mini version of you, and cute too,” she smiled, leaning into me.

I fell backward avoiding what I thought to be a kiss but as I feel back, she followed. Dad had already let the guy go but his Ferrari and half-naked model of a girlfriend still sat waiting for his return. But that was the least of anyone’s concern.

“Alright honey, we don’t want to frighten the boy,” dad chortled, ruffling my hair. “Now young man, where are your parents?”

I shook my head. And Natalya, well… she was clung to my arm as if were on a date; it was disgusting. Again, within my peripheral I could see the man with the dark shade’s, but this time hidden in an old SUV that screamed suspect.

“M-my parents… there back inside the mall…” I replied.

Dad then gave me a suspicious look. And then looked at my sister shaking his head in the ways of father that said, God I’m not ready to let me little girl go. And the fortunate thing about that was neither was I ready for him to; it seemed her grip on my arm got tighter by the minutes. My sister had undoubtedly fallen for me, which meant I was in for a longer night than I thought.

“Say, where did you get such a nice-looking tux?” dad asked. “I’ve never seen anything quite like it. The only man I can think of to make such a tux would be Mr. Buzby down at the tailor shop.”

I cringed on the name. I wanted to tell him, and you killed him to, but that would’ve only blown my cover and would’ve possibly made dad so suspicious that he might’ve even tried to kill me. A faint voice yelled from across the street of the parking lot. I was nearsighted so I really couldn’t tell who it was but the closer they’d gotten the more recognizable the voice became.

“Hey kid! You forgot your whopper and fries,” yelled a girl.

Yeah, just what I needed.

“Friend of yours,” said Natalya, frowning. Dad shook his head in embarrassment.

And then the man with the shade’s stepped out of the SUV, black gloves and all, with looked to be a silencer in his hand.  Things were getting out of control; I needed to be quick.

“Did you see them?” I said.

Dad responded puzzled. “See what?”

“My parents,” I said, pointing away from the chaos that came. “They were just there; they went that a way.”

I grabbed dad’s hand, while my Natalya stayed well… you know, and we made a straight shot for the entrance back into the mall. Once we entered everything would be loud and cheerful again.

“Well… I guess this will explain everything,” Natalya smirked.

And it was in that moment I realized something, a clue. I had to ask again to be sure though…

“What did you just say?”

“What? Everything will be explained?” Natalya repeated.

Yeah that was just what I thought I’d heard. Like daughter, like father.

To be continued PART III

TUXEDo: Part II

July 6th, 2019 by P. Starks

Dad had always been so infatuated with suits. For as long as I could remember, he’d worn one every day but there I stood in a cold closet still trying to see the significance to them that he saw. He never explained it, however, in the palm of my hand held the key that would reveal it all, at least that’s what was told to me before he’d gotten arrested. But in that moment, I thought about the man who died on the floor of Mr. Buzby’s tailor shop, as well as the part where dad killed Mr. Buzby; it made my skin crawl. And the picture… how could I forget; it was like watching Back to the Future on repeat but, of course, through my dad’s eyes. Nevertheless, it would all be solved soon enough, one way or another I was about to find out the truth; I just hoped that whatever it was for the intentions were good. If not, then I honestly don’t know what I will think of dad, but I’ll just wait for when that time comes.

Just like dad instructed, I walked all the way into the closet until I saw the red suit mom had bought him long ago. The touch of it was smooth and silk, and the smell of it was well… clean or as mom liked to put it, Febrezed. Before I could move it to the side, to reveal what dad said would be a door, something would drop on the floor reminding of the way Mr. Buzby soulless body had once did, and my skin would crawl even more. And went THUMP, Thump, THumP… just like that. Quickly, I turned around to see what it was, but the only thing that was in sight were dozens, if not hundreds of tuxedos that I still wondered were clean or dirty, but I sure knew that the red suit was at least.

­“Mom… Is that you?”  I said, but all I could hear was the echo of my own innocence; it was embarrassing, but luckily no one was around to hear it.

I then turned back around to the red suit but now it was gone. However, what was now in front of me was the door; solid black with gold trimmings and a golden handle. Everything will be explained, again, echoed dads voice. Being haste for time, more so, terrified, I took the key in my hand and literally continued with the task at hand; I inserted the key and turned it.

CLICK, CLICk, CLIck, Click, click, it faded. But then a voice other than my own would appear.

“You shouldn’t do that,” it mumbled, rough and groggy.  

I squinted, still, could barely see a thing for how poorly lit the closet was. There had to be at least six out of the ten lightbulbs that were out. And whatever it was that hid obviously wasn’t around any of the four that were still on.

“Master Cruze won’t like you digging around in his things,” the voice repeated. “It’s best you turn back around and forget what you’ve seen here.”

“What are you talking about? Master Cruze? Are you talking about my dad?”

It was then the voice revealed itself. From behind the tuxes that hung in front of me, shooting out from the darkness like bat, out came a small man wearing an emerald coat, black pants, and black boots that of which were shiny enough where I could see my own reflection. The man’s eyes were orange, which I’d never seen the color of anyone’s eyes before, still, they were interesting enough to get lost in them; they were almost like gold come to think of it.

“If you must know, yes, I am a leprechaun,” the small man admitted, with frustration. “So, you can stop staring at me like you’ve just seen a ghost, although, never got the reference. Tell me, how can you see a ghost if its invisible or then again is just… what’s the word for it, transgenic?”

“You mean, translucent…”

“Yeah, that’s it,” the leprechaun smiled. “Smart for a child.”

As friendly as he was, I would be a lie to say I wasn’t terrified. He looked nothing like the guy on my cereal box, and I was sure that he didn’t have a pot of gold floating around anywhere either. And by the looks of him, mom would’ve probably A: passed out or B: yeah, you guessed it, pass out. But either way he was the only one that seemed to know more about my dad than what my mom or I knew; so, I had to play along.

“Let’s get this out the air shall we; first, I don’t collect gold or lucky charms, I collect tuxedos. And second, I am here guarding them for your father until… Wait what exactly happened to Mr. Cruze?”

“Dad got arrested… And from what mom mumble cried in her sleep, could be going away for a long time. The policeman said he’s being accounted for not only domestic abuse but murder.”

“Absurd! Mr. Cruze would never do… Well, unless… Oh dear, oh dear…” he panicked. “But not the domestic abuse, he’s far too much of a gentleman to ever hit a lady. But murder…”

Back and forward the small man paced around the closet until he became so dizzy, he’d fallen to the floor, wobbling like a turtle on its shell, hysterically. I grabbed his hand and pulled him back up. But when we clasped, they felt like claws of an eagle but slimy. For dad to hang around such a man, it really made me begin to wonder just how sick he might’ve been in the head. I started to have doubts. Dad had always been a good man, but all that I’d heard didn’t necessarily guide me to that result.  The secrets, the murder, the picture, the key and now the leprechaun, all of which led me to this point, and a confusing one at best.

“I’m sorry but what the heck does a tuxedo have to do with any of this? I mean, people are dying, getting killed!” I yelled.

The leprechaun then looked at me sarcastically, with tangerine eyes; there was a fire within them.

“He didn’t tell you, did he?” he whispered.

“Tell me what?”

Shaking his head, the Leprechaun then grabbed my hand and pulled me by the door that required the key.

“I knew I should’ve retired… That man will be the death of me I swear… Well, maybe not, I’m immortal,” he laughed. “But on a serious note… This key will explain everything…”

“Okay then, let’s go,” I said, putting the key into the door, eagerly.

The Leprechaun then slapped my hand.

“No, no, no… Patience!” he said. “Before we enter you need to know something, and that is there is no turning back. You will be a part of the legacy. You know… your dad didn’t want you knowing about me or this room until you were what do they call it, sixteen sweets?”

“You mean sweet sixteen…” I grinned.

“Bah, whatever girlfriend,” said the Leprechaun, with laughter screechy as nails to a chalkboard. “Sorry, I don’t get out much. But if you are ready, then let us proceed.”

I thought about all that had happened that day, especially, what mom had been through. It wasn’t right for me to leave her alone, but then again, I’d made a promise to dad, and that was something neither of us broke. But before I’d go in, still I had to make sure everything with mom was alright. Quickly, I hurried down the stairs like a dog hearing that it’s food bowl was being filled. As I had made my way down, I could hear that the TV was incredibly loud. I’d expected it from dad, but never from mom. When I’d turned to the right of the living room, it was completely black with the TV glowing on Channel 2 news. I ran over to the sofa, but mom wasn’t there; just the blanket that I’d left over her.

“Mom!” I yelled, but not a whimper of her was heard.

I then ran back towards the stairs to check her room but about time I’d placed my foot on the first step, in my peripheral I noticed that the door was open. And the smell of rain blew through it like burning incense.

“She’s gone…” said the leprechaun from behind me.

In his hand was a note written on cardboard, the same carboard from the box of Domino’s pizza we’d ate two days ago.

“Here take it…” he said. “Might explain e…”

“Nope, don’t say it, don’t say it, I don’t want to hear it. I’m tired of everyone telling me that…J-just hand it to me.”

“Jeez, no one’s ever any fun anymore. Here, take it then and go away,” said the Leprechaun, walking over to pout in the corner.

I then looked at the letter, reading between the grease that still soaked in it, trying to decode what it said. At first, I couldn’t really make anything out of it but then it clicked. It said: Bringu  sthet uxedo ory ouwill b3s orry. Meetu 45 Cherry. I turned to the leprechaun.

“I think it says that they want me to bring a tuxedo and meet them somewhere on 45th and Cherry. What tuxedo are they talking about? There’s dozens of them in the closet,” I said.

The Leprechaun said nothing after that. He took a long and hard gasp of annoyance. Slowly, he walked himself up the stairs and when he’d reach the top, with his small hand waved for me to follow. Before I could even wrap my mind of what happened to mom, there we stood at the door again; the same stupid door that everyone kept telling me that would quote on quote “explain everything.” At this point I just wanted to kick it down and throw in a grenade for whatever was in it, but I was just a kid, not Rambo.

“Go on then,” said the Leprechaun. “Oh, and just in case you’re wondering, the names Sheamus.”

We both shook hands and began. Again, I inserted the key into the door and twisted. There was a click and the sound bounced all around us. It was a little awkward but Sheamus hadn’t said a thing. He stood still and calm no different than what hung behind us. Before I would even have the chance to push it open, the door would open on its own; light expelled from it blindingly, like a driver who’d forgotten to turn their high beams off. But then the light would fade.

As we entered all I seemed to notice was a stair way dead center of the room. Where did it lead to?

“Alright let’s get started shall we,” said Sheamus. “To your right is Mr. Cruzes wall of designs. We will first need to find the book to the specific Tuxedo where looking for.”

I was amused. “Are you saying that the so-called Tux that everyone is looking for was something my dad made?”

“Indeed,” Sheamus smiled, with teeth beveled in areas that they shouldn’t have.

As told, I walked over to the wall of designs that sat on the wall. But they weren’t pictures, they were books; books of drawings, books of ideas that dad had hidden away all this time. There must’ve been thousands of them. I was a little impressed by how’d he gotten them all in such a small space, although, I had a pretty good idea that Sheamus was the mastermind behind it. He was much smarter than what he sounded.

“There, there it is,” he pointed, pulling out a latter, that looked as instead, it was carrying him.

“Up you go, we don’t have all day boy.”

“The names Roman,” I snarled. Still, Sheamus shooed me up to grab I guess what was the book of all books.

The book was gigantic, so much that it must’ve taken up at least three to four space’s within the shelf. It was completely black all over, and on its edges, it was black too. Was it book of spells? But for tuxedo’s… Yeah, now that would be the day… when pigs flied. On my tippy toes I reached up as high as I could to pull the book down; it was heavy. But by the end of it all, I’d still get it out, as well the sweat that dripped from my pores in effort.

When I’d gotten down, without hesitation, Sheamus snatched from my hands, with a grip stronger than what I thought he had. Kungfu grip, I silently joked, but come on a leprechaun, now that would be another story to tell, possibly even a good one.

“Follow me,” he said, rushing over to the center of the room, where the stairs carved into the floor.

“I-is it there?” I asked. “The special tuxedo.”

Sheamus said nothing. He walked over beside me, grabbed my hand, and then took one of his dirty nails, cutting into my skin well enough until I dripped of red, onto the pages of the book. I punched him dead in the face only he didn’t budge; not a wobble from his bobble head stature. It was obvious that it hurt me more than it hurt him.

“Are you done?” he said, yawning and rolling his eyes. “We don’t have all day.”

But then what happened next was really when I started to see what dad was involved with; I was out of my league. Once the Sheamus had closed the book, he flung it down the stairway like it was a piece of trash, arguably. Meanwhile, I still held my hand in pain, still pissed off. It was as if he didn’t care at all that he’d hurt me.

“What are you doing?” I shouted.

“Shush boy. Just watch,” he whispered. “And give me your hand, tired of hearing your whimpering.”

As Sheamus had held my hand before me the floor and the stair way spread apart like a broken puzzle; board after board, swarming around us like sharks in the pacific. During its magnificence Sheamus had let go long before I’d realized it and when I looked down there wasn’t a single mark on my hand.

“Oh, here it comes!” he shouted excitingly. “You know Mr. Cruze has only let me see this thing twice since I’ve known him, and I’ve known him ever since he was a little boy. The nerve right?”

Since he was a child? I pondered. That was the last thing that stuck for me. How long had all of this been going and if it had been going on that long, did grandpa know about it? It was then I remembered what Sheamus had told me before we entered.

Before we enter you need to know something, and that is there is no turning back. You will be a part of the legacy, his voice echoed. And then dads voice again. Everything will be explained, it repeated.

Nevertheless, things were coming to a closure. Where the stair once carved into the floor was now a hill, and up it something pulled with squeaking noises as high pitch as a rat. Where their rats? Hopefully not, but either way I was about to find out.

“Hope you’re ready for this little one? More so hope it fits. Well… then again it fits everyone, who’s worn it.”

I stood awe as what I was looking at was just an ordinary tuxedo. It was black all over, with a black bow tie and black shoes. This couldn’t have been what everyone was raving about it. Although, from what mom had told me, it was best not to judge a book by the cover unless looks is all you really cared for.  

Sheamus then walked up to it and opened the door. I didn’t notice it, but inside of it was sealed the same book that he’d thrown down just moments prior. He pulled it out and handed it to me.

“Hold this,” he said.

While he’d taken his time pulling the tuxedo out from the museum like vase that it hung in, I would flip through the pages of the book. At first, there was nothing but just blank pages, all in repeat, but about time I hit the middle of the book I saw pictures of the same men I saw from the picture that the man in Mr. Buzby tailor shop had left. Again, they all looked like dad. I pulled out the picture to compare and that’s exactly what it was. But the thing that I’d missed the whole time was what they all wore. I looked again at the tuxedo that Sheamus had finally brought down. Like in the picture, everyone one wore black coat, black bowtie, and a black button up, which was somewhat informal for what I was taught about tuxes but…

“Do you understand now?” asked Sheamus.

“Understand what… All of this is just some tuxedo party gone wrong.”

Sheamus rolled his eyes. “I didn’t know stupidity ran in Mr. Cruzes family…”

But he was wrong, it wasn’t that I was stupid, it was that I just didn’t want to admit what it was that I’d put together.

“Tell me… the man in the tailor shop. Did you notice anything particular about him?” asked Sheamus.

“Wait. How do you know about that?”

Sheamus smiled. “Oh, I know everything, at least all of that surrounds Mr. Cruze. You can say I’m like Fred and he’s like Catman.”

“Geez! Its Alfred and Batman.”

“Yeah, whatever,” Sheamus ignored. “But back to the man. Are you sure you didn’t notice anything about him?”

I paused and thought about it for a moment. The man looked like dad or was dad but from the future which was obvious. He had the picture… But then it came back to me, the moment where the man had fallen to his death. I must’ve been that much in shock to not remember but now it was all coming back to me.

When the man had fallen, his coat faded from tan to black, and then black to tan, as if he were in some kind of camo, the gecko kind.

“Do you see it now?” asked Sheamus. “What the man wore was no different than what’s in front of us. He only allowed you to see what he wanted you to, however, it seems that the tuxedo had gotten damaged for some reason. Ugh… still don’t get it do you?”

I shook my head in confusion.

“The tuxedo, this particular tuxedo is a time traveler. And it can do many other things. But there’s no more time to explain kid; its go time,” said Sheamus throwing the tuxedo on to me.

Like a snake it coiled around me, slipping my arms and legs inside of it.

“Damn… Looks way better on you,” said Sheamus wide eyed. “But don’t go telling your father what I said.”

“Wait… How did it?” I paused.

“Its simple you’re a Cruze, and the blood that I sent down to it was a way for it to recognize you. It is built for blood recognition. And besides, if it wasn’t then I’d probably worn it myself,” laughed Sheamus.

The tuxedo was originally tailored for dad, but from the looks of it, it had tailored itself to me. It felt nice. I thought about Mr. Buzby tailor shop again and how I never got a chance to put on my first tux, yet there I was standing in front of a leprechaun oddly, with one that presumably could time travel.

“Wait… So why would anyone want this tuxedo? I mean, who’s looking for it? I need to know! They have mom.

“Isn’t it obvious,” he chortled. “There are some nasty people out there that would love nothing more but to change the world how they see it. However, what they want isn’t necessarily what would be best for everyone else. Your father knew this… yet, he never quite got over Sasha…”

“Who’s Sasha?”

Sheamus looked as if were to pass out. “No, no, no, I shouldn’t be the one to tell you this… Oooo their such horrible parents those two.”

“Hey, calm down… what’s going on?” I stopped him.

Sheamus swallowed and followed with a deep breath. “Sasha was your sister…”

“Sister? No, I’m an only child. Sure I’ve always wanted a sibling but no, I’m just an only child,” I repeated.

“No,” Sheamus corrected. “You were… but not always. Sasha died in a car accident just months after your birth. Your dad was in the car; they were on their way to see a movie but out of nowhere a drunk driver, flew straight the a red light, crashing into the passenger side, the same side that your sister was on.”

Tears gradually rolled down the sides of my face, my heart rate sped up as if I’d been sprinting, and then my knees buckled; I fell to the floor.

“I had a sister…” I sobbed.

“Yes… I’m afraid so,” Sheamus admitted. “And that’s what all of this is about. Or at least it was, until whoever it was that found out about the Tuxedo came about.”

“With this suit… can I go back?”

Sheamus then took a few steps forward with caution towards me. He could obviously feel what I was thinking, but still hoped that it wasn’t what he assumed.

“Go back where?” he questioned. “If it’s the tailor shop yes but it will be tricky…”

“No… Not there. I mean, can I go back to where my sister was alive? The day she died.”

“No, no, no,” urged Sheamus. “Mr. Cruze has tried many times, and for every time, he’s come back heart broken and missing a part of himself.”

“What part?” I asked, concerned.

“His soul boy! His soul!”

Dad… Mom… It must’ve been so hard for them both to keep a secret from me for so long. It was at this point, either way Sheamus knew that I would go with or without him, although, I didn’t know how to work the tuxedo, so it looked like I was already in a disadvantage. I then stared at Sheamus innocently, hoping for some bit of instruction.

“Okay, okay,” he said. “Stop staring at me like that, didn’t I tell you already. Ill show you how to get there but just know there want be any turning back.”

Yeah, like I didn’t hear that before.

TO BE CONTINUED (PART III)

TUXEDo

June 29th, 2019 by P. Starks

When I was just ten years old my dad took me out to buy my first tuxedo. He said it was what made a man a man, but mom always felt a suit would’ve been just fine. Even though dad didn’t like them, she still bought them for him anyways in the hopes that he would start liking them. But lord only knows how much dust and cobwebs are collected on them by now. I think there somewhere behind the tuxedos in his closet, but he keeps moving them so that mom doesn’t find out he hasn’t been wearing them. So, I honestly wouldn’t know.

Funny part is, mom had become so furious with dad being so unappreciative that on April’s fool’s day she had hid all of dad’s tuxedos before he woke up the next morning. It was hysterical and sad; dad was squirming all over the house, nearly scratching out his eyes in the hopes that he would find even a bow tie, but nothing ever came up. It was amazing, mom was like Houdini. Even I began wondering what she had done with them. I mean, she did tell me she was hiding them, but where? I wondered.

 But then mom had finally showed dad where they were, for she couldn’t help but see the man she loved so miserable. Dad was, of course, mad for about two weeks, but then he came to realization with himself that maybe he hadn’t been as appreciative with mom as he should’ve been or what would’ve like to have been. So, on the third week dad had sent to mom’s job five dozen roses, with a snoopy card, that of which she could never get enough of. They’d made amends.

Nevertheless, for my first tuxedo dad had finally gotten the chance to take me to his favorite and only tailor Mr. Buzby. He was an elderly man, seventy-five or eighties years of age from what I could tell. He had an odd smell, like after shave mixed with something that it shouldn’t have been mixed with, whatever that is. He to wore a tuxedo but obviously had been worn since the time he was my dad’s age which had been decades ago; it was surprising that it even fit.

“Well look at you,” smiled Mr. Buzby. “You know last time I saw you; you were just a little one in a deep sleep of your mother’s arms.”

“Good to see you again to Mr. Buzby,” I replied.

Dad then headed to the bathroom to take as he like to have put it, a tinkle. Meanwhile, Mr. Buzby got his preparations in order to measure me. The sun was beaming straight through the windows of the room, reflecting off the mahogany floor better than what a mirror would do. It was a normal day for the month of April—warm and bright.  

After about 15 minutes of prepping Mr. Buzby would begin measuring me and dad still had not come out. It was strange but neither Mr. Buzby or I paid it any mind; what a man did in the bathroom was his own business, Mr. Buzby would say.

But then a man entered the store.

“Sorry sir we’re closed…” said Mr. Buzby, shooing the man away.

But the man said not a word. He stood at the front door quiet, with his eyes bouncing around the room like a pinball. He was looking for something, but I could tell that it was more than a tuxedo.  

“Sir… I’m sorry but you will have to leave. I told you we are closed for the day,” Mr. Buzby repeated.

The mans eyes then turned onto me and Mr. Buzby.

“I heard you,” said the man, with his eyes still scoping around the room. “But I won’t be leaving, not yet. Not until the boy’s father shows up.”

Mr. Buzby then paced his way over to the phone but about time he’d reached it, the man was already there. It was as if it was… No, that’s exactly what it was. I mean… I only saw it when X-men came on the Fox channel, where nightcrawler would poof into a ball of smoke appearing in different places of his choosing. But the man who entered was different than that. It was like a blink of an eye. And there was no doubt about it, that it was teleportation. The man then grabbed the phone and smashed it down on the floor, shattering it into a handful of plastic scraps. How much force did he use? And so, now I guess he was pretty strong to… I don’t know.

“Hey!” yelled dad. “Is everything alright in there?”

The man then gave Mr. Buzby a wicked stare, and Mr. Buzby would literally be shaking in his penny loafers. But then the man nodded, and Mr. Buzby would reply to dad hesitantly, but calmly.

“Y-yes, yes. Everything’s fine just knocked over one of my lamps,” said Mr. Buzby, with his voice trembling. “You know I’m not getting any younger.”

And then all that was heard after that was dad’s laughter in the background, and the sound of the toilet flushing, and sadly no sink running. Mom would’ve killed him.

I don’t know what it was that triggered it, but it was then I put the man’s face into perspective; he looked just like my dad, only older and ruthless. His eyes were just as brown and his teeth were just as white, except they looked like they had seen better days for that a few were jagged. Who was he?

The sound of footsteps then slowly paced around the corner, and the man would hide around it until dad came. His eyes never left me and mine never left his. There was no doubt in my mind that it had to be dad. But from the future.

Dad had come our smiling with relief, although, his smile had faintly gone away the closer he came. If there was anything my dad was good at, it was reading faces.

“You two alright? You look like you just seen a ghost or something,” said dad.

“Don’t move,” said the man, holding what we assumed to be a gun under his trench coat.

Dad immediately through his hands up in the air and did his best to swallow his sudden fear. He looked at me and with his lips voiced out to me, everything is going to be okay.

“What do you want? Is it money? If it is, my wallets in my left pocket,” said dad. “Take whatever you want. Just don’t hurt anyone.”  

 “Turn around!” yelled the man, yanking dads shoulder around.

When dad turned around, he had hard time holding his arms up. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Both dad and the man stood for what felt like hours evaluating each other, like dogs looking into the mirror.

“Wow, I remember now… I was so handsome then or now,” the man mumbled. “Yet, so much has changed.”

Sweat was pouring down the side of dad’s neck like a frozen water bottle being defrosted. He put his hands down, and the man tucked his gun back away.

“What do you mean?” question dad, concerned. “Are you saying that you are me and I am you?”

“Yes…” replied the man, instantly. “We are the same. Take a hard look because this is you in the future baby.”

Dad smiled and laughed up at the ceiling; he didn’t believe it, except for everyone else in the room.

“Oh, come on… If you are me then you would have on tux, but from far as I can tell your just a homeless man looking for a little excitement. And if you’re looking for that then it’s probably best you head down to Aurora on 78th street.”

“You have no idea what has happened or what will. We lost… We lost it all but…”

The man paused and dad would take two steps back to place himself in front me and Mr. Buzby. Out from his pocket the man pulled out a picture and dropped it on the floor as he fell to one knee. Black blood was spitting up from his mouth and oozing from his nose.

“It’s too late…” he said, skin turning blue. “Take this and you will understand why I came… I just wish I’d come sooner… D-dammit…”

On the floor in front of us now lied a dead body and the only clue to what was happening, but then the body had gone from translucent to just us looking at a floor with spots of black blood on it now.

“Jesus… what happened to his body?” asked Mr. Buzby.

Dad said nothing. He bent down where the picture had fallen and picked it back up.

“What is this?” he whispered, with his hand trembling.  

“Are you alright son?” asked Mr. Buzby, curiously. “It looks like you’ve seen a ghost now?

Dad then took the right arm of his tuxedo and wiped the side of his face. “Yeah… Yeah I’ll be fine, but Mr. Buzby could I have a moment with you for a second?”

“Yes… of course.”

There the two left me, in a room where a man had just died. Did they forget how old I was? Or what I would say? But to get my mind off it I ran to the lobby area of the store where Mr. Buzby kept the old tube tv. Maybe I could find something that would get me to laugh out all the fear I held, I thought. But as I flipped from channel to channel not a thing was on that took my mind off what just happened. There were a few re-runs of WWF but still, not even the Rock telling someone that he’d whip their monkey ass was enough.

A big thump then echoed in the back room.

“Dad!” I yelled, peeking around the corner.

But again, dad said nothing. And it surely wasn’t like him to be so silent. It was then I started to think that whatever it was in that picture, set him apart from his original self. But what was in it? I wondered. When dad arrived, there was a different look in his eyes, it was like the man from the future, ruthless. There was a red paste around his hands, neck, and on the inside of his tux. Blood? Or Hair dye? No, it had to be hair dye. Right?

“Son…we need to go,” said Dad, pacing fast around the hallway.

“What about Mr. Buzby?” I asked, as I was being pulled through the front door.

We were halfway to the car. Dad’s eyes were beamed straight down to the cement floor.

“Mr. Buzby…” he paused, pulling me to the car. “We unfortunately won’t be seeing him anymore. He um… is not the man he used to be and well after what we just witnessed today; he’s decided to… retire.”

Dad had never told a lie before, and I could see why. I didn’t believe a word of it, but still I trusted him. Whatever he was doing I’m sure his intentions were good. Before we left, dad had gone back in to change into a better… well, a cleaner tuxedo. I wanted to say goodbye to Mr. Buzby but dad told me that he wanted to be left alone. I didn’t want to think of it but still all clung to the sides of my skull like pictures on a wall—death. And it was death that I could feel that was in the air.

On the car ride way back home, it was so quiet that I could hear the sound of my own breath. I looked over at dad and could still see a little of the red paste behind his ear. He never looked back at me once, his eyes just stayed beamed to the road. I was confused, scared, and frustrated all in one. All that had just happened, not once did he ever check to see if I was okay. It wasn’t like him. And so, then I asked the question that I’m sure he didn’t want me to ask.

“Did you kill him?”

Dads eyes then widened but they still stayed focused on the road, pondering on what I’d just said. His hands rubbed the steering wheel nervously.

“W-what was that son?” he swallowed.

“Did you kill him? Did you kill Mr, Buzby?” I repeated.

Dad then pulled over and stopped the car to the side of the road, while he sat and took a deep breath, with his chin tucked in towards his chest. He through his back to the head rest, and then gradually turned to me and said.

“No son… I didn’t.”

Did he just lie again? For the first time in my life my heart felt as if it was going to jump out from my chest. Out of all the people in the world he might’ve had a reason to kill, I never would have thought it be his best friend; a man that was like a father to him. Although, I was now beginning to wonder if Mr. Buzby was that to him at all.

“Son… there’s a lot about me you and your mom don’t know…” he said. “A lot that can’t be explained but I promise that everything I do moving forward will be for the best. And yes, I’ll explain everything to you both when the time comes.”

Dad then took his hand and ruffled my hair. He started the ignition and we were back on the road. I’d didn’t notice until I woke up but apparently, I’d fallen asleep. I looked out the window and we were nowhere that felt familiar to me. It definitely wasn’t home or downtown. It was completely an open field with what looked to be a warehouse sitting in the middle of it. Dad was nowhere around but his jacket to his tuxedo sat over the driver’s seat like blanket.

Eager to find out the truth, I reached over and pulled the jacket into my lap, checking the pockets for anything that would give me a clue about dad’s past. My hands would jittery, all until I felt something that felt like paper. Without thought, I pulled it out from its pocket.

It was a black and white photo. Something that looked like it was from the early 1800’s. In it was dad and a few others that looked like himself. One that looked like dad in his twenties, the other that looked like dad in his seventies, and another that looked as if he was the same age as me, whom of which resembled me. And now I know why grandfather always joked about how much I looked like dad. But that’s another story.

The car door then opened and I jumped, high enough to hit my head against the ceiling.

“Alright son… you ready to head home now?” dad asked.

“yeah…” I nodded.

Dad looked around the car. And then looked at the jacket in my lap. “Is everything alright… No, of course, it’s not… I don’t even know why I would ask you such a stupid question. Your just a kid for Christ sake… But please… trust me son, everything’s going to be just fine. I won’t let them hurt you…”

“Let who?” I asked.

“N-never mind… let’s get moving okay. Before your mom starts to worry.”

Suspiciously I nodded, and we are on our way.

When we pulled up to the driveway, mom was already outside waiting. She had tears running down her face, mascara and all, with her head down into her knees, all while the front door to the house was wide opened. Dad immediately hopped out of the car and rushed over to make his way over, and mom would throw herself into his arms, sobbing and shaking.

“They destroyed everything!” she cried.

“What?” asked dad. “Lidie what are you talking about? What happened?”

“They destroyed everything! They said that they were looking for something!”

“Jesus… Are you hurt? Did they…” concerned dad, looking all over moms’ body for any signs of abuse.

“No…” she said. “Well… one of them hit me… But that was it… They said they were looking for a specific tie and tuxedo… I mean, why the hell would they be looking for something so stupid Jonathan?”

Mom then pulled away from dad, slapping, scratching and clawing at him with all the frustration that had built for the time that we were gone. Whatever it was that was going on, mom had already put together that dad was the reason behind the house being destroyed and her getting hit. For as bad as dad was at lying, it was surprise that she didn’t find out sooner, although, she had never asked the right questions, I guess.

Our neighbors were at first, peeking through their windows with their beady eyes but then later they would disappear. Dad had done his best to calm mom down and put her back inside the house, but it was too late. The sound of sirens grew louder as they made there way over to the neighborhood. 

“Damn Jefferson’s,” whispered dad.

Thankfully before any cars had arrived, dad had finally gotten mom inside the house and sat her down on the sofa; he made me sit with her. There was a knock on the door.

“Stay here,” said dad.

But I didn’t… Instead, I followed.

“Hello sir, Mr. Cruze is it. Jonathan Cruze”

“Yes, that’s me,” dad replied nervously. “What’s the problem officer?”

The man that stood at the door had a flat hat and wore all black. He had vest strapped around his torso but even for child I could tell that it wasn’t the kind my dad wore with his tuxedo’s.

“Sir, we got a call from someone about a disturbance in front of your house… Said it might turn into domestic abuse if we weren’t careful.”

“No, nothing like that… You sure that wasn’t from another house,” dad swallowed.

“Nope, they said it came directly from this address,” said the policeman. “Sir do you mind if I come in.”

“I do… Sorry, but the house is a little messy and my wife is not in the proper clothing for guest if you catch my drift,” dad winked.

The policeman smiled. But still there was an awkward pause between dad and the policeman. Almost as if they were doing a standoff, except dad didn’t have a gun hanging from his hip like the man in front of him.

“That’s it Jonathan!” yelled mom, coming around the corner. “I can’t take this anymore I’m going home to stay with mom for a bit. Until…”

Dads eyes then widened. Shit, he whispered.

“Put your hands behind your back!” yelled the policeman, pulling his gun from the holster. “Yeah dispatch, yeah I got him.”

He had another gun that looked the same but had the color of a bumblebee, but I guess that was used for something else maybe to kill, who knows, but it looked a lot less horrifying than the one he held.

“No, stop!” yelled mom. “What are you doing?”

“This man is going in for domestic abuse,” yelled the policeman

“On whom??”

“You and the mark on your face,” said the policeman, walking dad out from the house.

Mom then ran over to dad, kissing him as hard as she could. Again, no one had noticed me, but it was trait I felt would come in handy later on. Something like a ghost.

“Wait!” yelled dad. “Please let me talk to my son… just two minutes…”

The policeman snarled. “Fine! But two minutes is all you get. And make it quick.”

The policeman had walked over to his car to do whatever cops do when reporting, while dad remained cuffed to the front grill of the car so that he wouldn’t run. It was stupid.

“Ok son listened carefully. Under the table in my study is a key held by tape. Take it and go inside the closest where I hold all my Tuxedos. Walk all the way in until you come across the red tux your mother bought me. Behind it will be a door, but before you can get to it you will have to walk past all the dirty suits. And promise me you want tell your mother… she might not try to bail me out. But behind that door everything will be explained. Can I count on you to do this?”

My body was completely frozen. I was just a kid. What could it have possibly been that dad wanted me to see? But then an image of that picture again popped up in my head. So, then again, I guess there was something for me to see. Something bigger than I could ever comprehend.

“Well, well, well…” said the policeman, lighting away a cigarette. “Looks like we got you as a connection to a murder to. My friend I think, I might’ve just hit the jackpot.”

“Murder… Jonathan what is he talking about?” asked mom, crying profusely.

“Son, can I count on you?” dad repeated.

I nodded and just before I said anything, the policeman would interrupt.

“Alright convo’s over, I’m taking you downtown,” he said. “Say goodbye to your dad boy, might not see him again.”

“Oh, piss off pig! Go eat a doughnut,” yelled dad.

“Yeah, like I haven’t heard that one before.”

As I watched the policeman pull off with dad, I walked mom back inside the house, thinking about the key in his study. But before I would even go to it. Mom was first priority. I fixed her a cup of tea, while she lied still sobbing on the sofa, curled into a fetal position. For everything that was good about our lives it seemed that within one day it had turned for the worst; I couldn’t blame her for feeling the way she did.

Nevertheless, mom had eventually cried herself to sleep. I was now standing in the middle of dads study, staring at his desk. It still had his shot of whiskey from earlier that morning on it, with half eaten bagel, somewhat burnt, but it was just the way he liked it, oddly. When I reached up under the table I could feel something cold, with plastic over the center of it. The key said the voice in my head. And then dads voice came right after, everything will be explained.

TO BE CONTINUED

Blind Inheritance

May 26th, 2019 by P.Starks

When I first entered the world, I didn’t have a clue what the world was about or what I was destined for. Things were as my parents had put it, complicated, but complicated wasn’t really the answer I was looking for. At first, I thought the world was a little like Disney, filled with magic and everlasting love. And not to say that those things don’t exist today, it’s just… well, not as exaggerative as it has always been displayed.

I was originally born in Venezuela but came to the states when I was about 5 years old. My mom had told me that it would be a fresh start, for all of us, although, I couldn’t really see how it was any better knowing how the place we lived before was somewhat like a palace; birds chirping away in the far away tropics, the sound of the ocean always by your bedside, and the smell of anything that you could think to have for breakfast when you awoke. But now all I’d hear were gunshots, drunken cursing, and our neighbors doing god knows what through the walls at night. I think they were into like freaky stuff, like 50 shades of grey or something like that. But I guess that was Harlem for you.

Nevertheless, the years had gone by fast. I was in high school now. I was a little bit taller than my dad. I had a slight hint of peach fuzz around my chin, that of which mom wanted me to shave off, yet, dad had thanked the gods that his son was becoming a man. But freshman year all the way to senior year was when I noticed just how different my life was than others, more so, how different I was.

For whatever reason, there would always be two security guards within reaching distance of me. The smell of nicotine lingered on one of them, and the other had a scar by his left brow that said he’d looked the devil in his eyes once and still lived to brag about it. Although he never said a word.

Celina, my best friend, who sat across the table from me was, off topic, but by far one of the prettiest girls in school. She had long dark hair. Her eyes were of the same color, but with the opacity set to fifty percent, which I guess would’ve made them grey, but not in a sexual way like my neighbors. Maybe it was her they were protecting, I thought. Maybe she was like Jasmine in Aladdin, a princess, I mean… she was Arabic. But maybe I’m fantasizing a little bit. Maybe I’m losing my mind and I’m just dragging you by the hopeless romantic string.

“You got something you want to tell me?” asked Celina. She smiled, and the light of the room reflected off the metal in her mouth. It was blinding but ironically, in a good way.
“Hello? Anyone in there?”
“Yeah sorry. I was just spacing out.”

Celina then gave me the look. The look that said she didn’t like it when I kept secrets from her. And I know it might sound like we were a couple, I wish, but this was just a close friendship. I think.

“So, what’s up with the guards? They’ve been here for weeks now. And for whatever reason their always near our table.”
I shrugged. “I don’t know. Maybe we should move.”

Celina rolled her eyes and looked down at the dried-up mashed potatoes she hesitated to eat. “Yeah, um, we tried that the other day, and they still followed us. And can I just add that that guy with the scar gives me the creeps.”
“Same,” I replied.

The bell to head back to class had rung. Before heading back to class, me and Celina dropped our plates off to cafeteria lady Marietta Marzela, she preferred to be called. And just like that, first name and last name.
“Hi Marietta,” smiled Celina, sarcastically. “The food was delicious.”
And then Marietta Marzella in return had given Celina a cold stare.
“I mean, good afternoon, Marietta Marzella,” Celina corrected.
And then Marietta Marzella smiled. Her teeth were as yellow as butter. Her lips were traced with red lipstick, that of which was slightly crooked from the drive she’d made to the school in the morning. She wore a hair net, but the hairnet was not large enough to confine the amounts of hair that was on her head. Strands of black and grey, strands of curly locks expelled from the holes of the hairnet, like vines through cracked cement. Awkwardly, Marietta Marzella had taken our plates, and both me and Celina headed to our class right afterward.

We walked down the hallway and could already see the two security guards standing by the door. We walked in between them both and still, not one of them had said a word. I don’t even believe I had ever seen them talk to one another either, but that wasn’t much of a surprise to anyone. But if anything, maybe Mrs. Tumble would know. Just by looking at your body language and the way you talked, Mrs. Tumble could tell if you were a troublemaker or an angel. And not to toot my own horn, but I was without a doubt one of her favorites. I don’t know why I was. I wasn’t exactly what you called a straight-A student. But still, it was easy to say I was a teacher’s pet.

I’d given my backpack to Celina to take to the place we usually sat in class. Right by the window, where the garbage man with the green jumpsuit came. It had always brightened our day to watch him kick around the garbage in frustration. Little did anyone know, not only was it not eco-friendly to put plastic bottles in the garbage, but it was also more work for the ones doing the job to pull them out. There was at least one day that I remember where the garbage man had been out there for all six periods of classes. It was extremely exhausting to watch.
While Celina had gotten settled. I then walked up to Mrs. Tumble to ask if she knew anything about the men that stood outside the door of the classroom. She wore a white and blue polka dotted dress. She smelt tropical but with a slight hint of coffee for how much she drank. Her hair was like Celina’s but much shorter, in fact, above the shoulders. And her eyes were like mine, dark brown.

“Good afternoon Landam, what can I help you with? Class will begin here in five minutes,” she said.

Mrs. Tumble was taller than most women, so, she had to lean down a bit to address me. But, of course, that was all due to the designer heels she always felt the need to wear.
“Hello? Landam, you still with me?” asked Mrs. Tumble, concerned.
“Yes, sorry. I just spaced out a bit. But I had a question about the men outside the classroom. Do you know who they are? Or who they might be?”

Mrs. Tumble’s eyes then rolled over my shoulder straight towards the door behind me. She had a twitch in her eyes, like when an eyelash gets stuck and needs to be plucked out or brushed to the side.
“Umm… no,” she replied. “No, I mean. Well, from what Principal Kilpatrick said at our last meeting. They are here to provide a safe environment. There just have been too many school shootings in the past few years, and so, he wanted to ensure that nothing bad goes wrong here.”
Mrs. Tumble then straightened herself up, rubbed my shoulder and sat down in the chair behind her desk. Before I’d walked to mine, she had one last thing to say.
“And oh, Landam.”
“Yes, Mrs. Tumble.”
“Let’s just keep that between us okay. If any of the other kids find out, and the word gets back to their parents. It could… Well, you’re a smart kid. You know. Just keep it a secret okay. Now please, go to your seat and prepare for class.”

I’d nodded and walked back to my seat by the window. Celina stared at me confusingly. But she had always done this with me. For whatever reason, out of all the guys in school, I was the most difficult for her to read and that drove her nuts. Like Mrs. Tumble, Celina knew a lot about everyone, but as close as we were she still couldn’t help but feel she had not read all the pages to my life story.
“So, what did she say?” Celina asked.
“I’ll tell you later. It’s complicated.”
“No. You always do that I want to know,” Celina stood.
“Ms. Abadi!” shouted Mrs. Tumble across the room. “Do we have a problem?”
Celina then slid back down in her seat. “No. Not at all Mrs. Tumble. Just excited for the day. You know History is my favorite subject.”
Mrs. Tumble gazed her and smiled suspiciously. “Fantastic Ms. Abadi! Then I guess you wouldn’t mind reading the first few pages of Chapter 12 in The Burden of an Empire.”
“Of course,” smiled Celina, sarcastically.
She looked over at me before she read. “Landam Bubble, your so dead,” she whispered.
“Now Ms. Abadi! We don’t have all day,” again, shouted Mrs. Tumble.
Chuckles echoed around the room, but by the snake-like stare Mrs. Tumble had given, everyone in the room was immediately silenced. And it was then Celina began to read.

As usual, and right on time, the garbage man had shown up. He paraded the trash cans like always, but this time he didn’t get mad at all. In fact, he was quite calm. It was as if he was looking for something. But what? I wondered. I was ready to tap Celina on the shoulder, but she was still in moment of reading. She was missing everything.
The trash men then stopped at one of the trashcans and pulled out the bag that sat in it. I assumed he was just going to throw it to the back of his truck to be crush but instead he’d opened it. He pulled out a grey suitcase, with what looked to be a wood grain handle attached to it. Was it money? Was it drugs? Oh god, was it body parts? I turned my head away from the window, but not long I had turned it back. I needed to see what was inside. The garbage man looked around, up and over his shoulder. His eyes beamed up to the window, and I then slid down in my seat, even further than what Celina had done previously.
When I sat back up the garbage man was gone. But the garbage truck was still parked by the sidewalk. I squirmed around in my seat, thinking about all the possibilities of what I’d just witness. I needed to go to the bathroom. I raised my hand.

“H-Hold on Ms. Abadi,” interrupted Mrs. Tumble. “Yes, Landam?”
“I need to go to the bathroom. I tried to hold it but I just can’t. I think I need to…”
“That is all we need to know Landam. You may go. And Ms. Abadi, we will pick up where you left as soon as Landam returns.”
Celina smiled. “Thanks,” she whispered.
But it wasn’t at all like that. Yet, I was still willing to take the credit in order to recover the friendship points that had been deducted prior.

I then walked out of the classroom. The two security guards were gone, however, the smell of nicotine still lingered which gave me the indication that they hadn’t been gone for long. On my way to the bathroom, I’d noticed that the school door was opened but didn’t pay much attention. Janitor Bob was known for leaving it open during the summer. From what I was told he was originally born and raised in Alaska, so heat wasn’t really a familiarity for him.

The bathroom was quiet. But at the end was a stall that was locked, which was strange for me being the only one there. Or at least that was what I thought. Still, I went to the other stall next to it and paid it no mind. The question was still bugging me though; if someone was in there with me. So, I looked down to see if there were any feet. All black dress shoes, as shiny as wet metal rested on the floor. However, underneath them was what really frightened me. Like ketchup or something..

The door to the bathroom had then swung open and heavy footsteps made their presence well known. I lifted my feet up from the floor. And in that moment a man whistled to the sound of the bathroom sink as he washed his hands. The man whistled a song that sounded familiar, something I had heard from when I was a child. But how the man knew it was what really gave me the chills.
Footsteps then made their way down the stalls, until they had reached the very last one. I could see the man’s feet and legs, as I leaned back over. Green pants and black boots but damaged to the point that not even a dog would’ve wanted a go at them. The man had stopped whistling and opened the stall.
It then dawned on me, green pants—the garbage man. The door then swung open again and that was when all hell had broken loose.

“Hey!” yelled a man. “Who are you? You can’t be here?”
The man in the green pants didn’t respond. Horrifically, he’d started whistling again.
“That’s it! You stay right there! I’m calling the cops!” the man shouted.
Footsteps again made their presence well known, but this time more aggressively rather than subtle. Struggles, grunting, chocking, all the sounds that now echoed in the room. But then the struggling had stopped. The same footsteps had gone back down to the very last stall in the room, and when I looked down it was no surprise to me that it would be the man in the green pants, the garbage man. He opened the door to the stall once more, and then a big thump hit the floor. I looked down again. And my heart had sped up as fast as it would whenever a drank an energy drink or tow. It was the security guard with the scar. He was all beat up, bloody and battered. And as my eyes followed to where he was being drug, there lied the Principal pale as the floor he and the man with the scar now lied lifeless on. Not long after both bodies would be drug out, which was my chance to leave but honestly, I couldn’t move a muscle. I was traumatized.
There was then a knock on the door.

“Landam. Are you still in there?” said a voice. “Landam, we’ve all been waiting for nearly fifteen minutes and still haven’t heard back from you. Is everything alright?”
It was Mrs. Tumble. “Yeah, I think so,” I replied.
“Hold on I’m coming in.”

The door swung open and along with it, my body shook as if we were in the middle of winter. The sound of designer heels clinked and clanked across the floor. Slowly, I placed my feet back on the marble floor and exited the stall. Mrs. Tumble had that same look Celina had always given me when she wanted to know what was going on. But at the time, I still had a hard time wrapping my mind around what I’d just witness. But then desperately out of fear, I had told her the whole story.
Not once did Mrs. Tumble flinch, or move a muscle for that matter. She stood calmly as if she’d already known the truth. And when I explained to her what happened to Principal Kilpatrick, that was when she’d broken her silence.
“Landam… I need to tell you something. I know your parents won’t like me telling you this, but you need to know for your own safety,” she said, as she bend the knee.
“You. Landam you are a Prince.”
“What? Prince?” I swallowed. “Of what? How? No… What are you saying?”
“I know it’s hard to believe. But you are the son of the International King, the one who rules all continents, the one who most seek to destroy in order to build a world of their own.”
“No… I don’t understand. How can my dad rule the world, he barely even knows how to use his iPhone, let alone understand what it takes to… No, this is stupid.”
I walked away but then Mrs. Tumble stopped me in front of the door.
“A king does not need to concern himself with such things, for it only distracts him from his purpose to help those in need. Your father is meant for a far greater purpose than some electronic,” Mrs. Tumble explained.

Still, I’d exited the bathroom. Mrs. Tumble followed me out. And then the fire alarm went off and all sprinklers poured throughout the hallways. As everyone exited their classrooms, everyone had slipped and fallen until they’d made their way to the exit doors of the school. In a matter of seconds, the hallway had cleared. It was just me and Mrs. Tumble, or at least that was what I thought. Down the hall stood the garbage man and Celina. He had a knife to her throat. And tears rolled down her eyes like rain on a glass window.
“Don’t!” yelled Mrs. Tumble. “You hurt that girl and you’ll be sorry you ever came here.”
From under her dress, Mrs. Tumble had pulled out a gun. I’d seen them in movies all the time, but never up close as I was now. I didn’t know how to feel about it. I felt safe but scared all in one.

The garbage man smiled cynically and laughed. And then whistled again, as he’d cut a little enough into Celina to make her bleed a little. Mrs. Tumble aimed her gun straight for the garbage man’s eyes, and for the time being, no one had a word to say.

To be continued 😉

The Embodiment of Ghost

May 19th, 2019 by P. Starks

Me and my crew of six were told by other pirates that the tale did not exist. That she didn’t exist. Yet, there she was perched up on a rock amongst the mist, with long luxurious hair, bouncing along with the wind in the moonlit sky. Her hair was dark like the coals used for the boiler that kept our ship moving. Her eyes were as turquoise as the light that reflected from underneath the sea. And her body, half of a woman’s and half of what looked to be that of a whale but, of course, a baby whale.

At the time I was just a young lad. They called me the lobster, for reasons I did not know at the time. But then my best friend, Kendal, had told me that she had overheard one of the men saying something about the way my hands looked. Like the pinchers of a lobster. And ever since then I’ve kept my hands in my pockets, no matter how much she had urged me that they didn’t need to be. If only they knew that it was a birth defect and that my mother had died in the process of bringing me into this life, then they’d probably kept their mouths shut. However, I was a private person, and it was none of their business. But for Kendal, I could tell everything.

Kendal, like myself, was young too. Eighteen years of age. Her hair was short and charcoal, like the mystical woman we’d seen. Her skin was just as dark, complimenting it in ways that seemed impossible, but indeed it was possible. Overtime, we had all nicknamed her ghost, for any shadow on the ship or off the ship she could’ve blended in with ease. Which made her to be the ultimate element of surprise. Although, captain never gave her a sword or anything sharp for that matter. She was his daughter.

Nevertheless, a couple of nights had gone by since we first saw the mysterious woman. A couple of the men still shook in their boots.

“That woman…” hesitated a man. “Her hair. It… it was like a shadow. Translucent in some way. Magic maybe. A witch maybe… Heavens…”

But not all the men shook. Some were infatuated by the beauty she had embedded in their minds. In fact, a beauty they had never seen. But being on a ship for fourteen months, with no woman in sight, did this to a man.

“If you ask me. I’d like to make a woman like that my wife someday,” blushed a different man. He had a patch over his eye. His shirt was completely drenched and then dried in sweat that looked as if it had been so for weeks. He smelt repulsive.

“Yeah mate, and you have better chance being with a dead whale washed up on the sea my friend. And I doubt she’d want any man that smells like it,” a man chortled.

“What do you know about woman?” replied the man, aggressively. “Last time I checked you been through how many wives again? Was it three? Was it four?”

“Why you smelly little…” replied the different man, lunging across the table to wrap his hands around the others neck.

Both men began rolling around. And all me and Kendal could do is laugh about it. It was the life of a pirate after all.

Heavy footsteps then began to approach the cabin. Me and Kendal looked behind, at the stairs. A big heavy boot was the first to appear. Solid black leather, that went all the way up past the calf muscle, along with two buckled straps that went across the top of the foot like an X on a treasure map. By the time the next foot had stepped, half the body was revealed. I chuckled a bit. It was the captain.

“Hey, cut it out…” said Kendal, elbowing me to the side. From the pearly whites that her lips gradually revealed she’d have a hard time holding the laugh in herself.

The captain’s belly was completely round. Up and over the belt we all joked, when he wasn’t around. He had a long dark fiery beard, and eyes dark like Kendal’s, which was the obvious indication that the two were surely related. Well, the eyes that being.

 The captain then spoke as he took a seat by the stairs.

“Alright everyone listen up. I just got news from Gold beard that the woman is at Hashima Island, which isn’t too far from where we are now.”

“Japan?” question, the man who reeked. “Really?”

“Yes,” admitted the Captain. “I have already set course. We should be there within the next few hours. Grab everything you need.”

“I’m sorry captain… But I don’t quite understand. You mean to be telling me that a woman with the tale of newborn whale is on that island, just pulling herself around by the arms. I’m sorry captain but if you ask me this is all sounds like a joke, more so, a set up.”

The captain didn’t say a word. In fact, he smiled.

“Oh, if you only knew young one. If you only knew,” he said.

“But…”

“Shut up!” yelled the captain. “Just shut up or I’ll feed you to the sharks. And please, will you do us all a favor and wash off already. I haven’t even thought of food today, yet I’ve already lost my appetite thanks to you.”

“S-sorry captain,” said the man who reeked, rushing to back of the ship where the showers were.

I looked to my left. Kendal had a glare in her eyes. Her eyes had never left her fathers, and for the first time she hadn’t spoken. It was moments like this, why we had named her ghost. If my eyes had been closed, I’d never suspected her to be beside me. I couldn’t even feel the warmth of her body for how close we sat. She was that gifted with her silence.

The captain had gone back up the stairs and Kendal followed. She had never talked about it around me; however, I could tell she was curious about what her father hid from her. It was already enough that she had never seen her mother, let alone was told little about her, yet her father was driven to seek out a woman, whom he again gave no explanation about. It was… suspicious.

To prepare for the night ahead I headed towards my room in the cabin to grab the things I needed. Although, I wasn’t sure what I needed. Were we to kill her or capture? I pondered. Instead, I just grabbed a flask of fresh water and food. Breads, fruits, the usual.

But then the ship would vibrate like an earthquake. We had made it to our destination. For as fast as we reached it, I was beginning to think we’d been on the course long before captain had given us the news, but… I’d never question him on it. What captain said, goes.

I had then made my way up the stairs. The air was cold, like when we were in the arctic. In front stood a vacant building, rusted with mold and greens that grew within and around it. To my right, Kendal was front and center. I tapped her on the shoulder, but noticed it was somewhat damp. Had she been crying?

“Is everything alright Kendal?” I asked.

But it wasn’t Kendal that I was speaking to. It was still Ghost. And Ghost never talked. But rather she spoke to me or not, I kept by her side.

“Set down the anchors!” roared the Captain. “Best we get moving. Will be dark again soon.”

The rest of the crew members stood in awe. Some with nets, some with javelins. But just like myself, they really had not a clue what they were to do when they found the woman. Kendal, on the other hand, had nothing at all, or at least that was what I thought until she pulled out a picture from her left pocket. It was all shriveled up, as if it been tucked away for ages. I wanted to, but I didn’t dare ask her what it was. But whatever it was, I knew it had something to do with the reason we were there on an abandoned island.

“Alright lads! Let’s begin the search. You two, go right and give us the usual signal if you find something. And you two, go to the left. And Kendal and Baudiris will follow me,” said the captain.

We had all gone our separate ways. For some strange reason, I couldn’t help but feel someone was going to die if not all of us. Chills went up and down the back of my neck but not from the cold. My teeth chattered. With every step that I took the wood creaked for how old it was. Maybe thousands of years, but I wasn’t old enough to know that much about such historical events.

“You know they said that this place used to be an undersea coal mine. But that was a lie,” whispered the captain. “It was actually the place where they made mystical creatures work for the human race. Like slaves, no, they were slaves.”

It was then Kendal had woken from the ghost, looking at her father in dismay.

“What do you mean mystical creatures?” I swallowed.

“Underwater dragons, gigantic and as beautiful as they come, sirens to, but today we call them mermaids,” said the captain, holding his brightly lit torch in the air, as he moved gracefully. For as big a man he was, not a sound was heard. It was apparent where Kendal had gotten her traits from.

“But why? Why use them as, slaves. Is this the reason we’re here? So that we can hold captive a defenseless mermaid,” I questioned.

Again, the captain neither his daughter had said a word. And for the moment, I’d wish that I’d gone with the other members of our crew. At least everyone was clean now.

“Shush boy,” said the captain. “Did you hear that?”

“Over there,” pointed Kendal.

The room suddenly had gotten much colder than what it had already been. A cloud of dust pushed from a dark patch in the corner of the room, slowly revealing legs smooth and as milky as cow milk. We’d never seen the woman this close before. Her smell was fishy but in a good way, like fish that had been sautéed with lemons and mandarin. But her face told it all. I squinted my eyes. She looked just like Kendal. Dark hair but skin not so much. It then dawned on me that her fish tale was gone, but how?

“Ariel,” whispered the captain.

The woman smiled. Her teeth were like Kendal’s, white as the clouds, but for every tooth was an edge sharper than the tip of our spears. Although, neither of the three of us had any.

“Hello Sheamus,” said the woman. “Its been a long time.”

“I… I thought you were dead. All of these years I’ve searched…” said the captain, falling to his knees.

The woman smiled and then through her eyes towards Kendal.  It was as if she were trying to look deep into her soul.

“Hello little one,” said the woman. Gradually she’d made her way over to Kendal.

“You have my hair,” she smiled. “But sadly, the rest of your features from your father.”

“Hey…” said the Captain.

The woman laughed.

“Mom,” cried Kendal. “Mom, I… What…”

“There, there little one. I know there is much you want to know. But first let me have a moment with your father okay.”

Kendal then walked back towards me and stood by my side. Together we watched a love rekindle like a bee to a blossomed flower. It was beautiful. Kendal grabbed my hand, and for once I wasn’t cold anymore.

Out of nowhere a net then dropped down on the both of them. A dozen men surrounded us all. And then a man with beard filled with gold appeared.

“Aha! Didn’t I tell ya lad’s!” yelled the man. “Old Sheamus here was given us a run for it the whole time. Isn’t that right Sheamus?”

“Ogor…”

“Shut up!” smacked the man with gold beard. “Never call me that in front of my men you lying load of sea feces. All this time, and all you were trying to do was get back with your lover. You know just as good as I how much a creature like that cost. And now that I know she’s what birth the little ghost in the shadow over there, yeah, I see you little plum. I’ll now have a bonus. A two for one special.”

Being haste, I pulled Kendal’s arm and then pulled us both through a window, not knowing where we would fall. Thankfully there had been patches of green below us or else we would have died.

“Well what are ya all doing standing around with your parts in your hands, go get em already,” yelled Gold Beard.

Both Kendall and I ran like the wind. We’d lost them. But we needed to keep moving. We needed to find the rest of the crew members. And on the tiny snake pathway we traveled, we’d stumbled upon one of them. He was weak and blue like violet roses.

“What happened?” I asked.

“Sn… Snake bite,” the man choked. “Bastard just left me hear. Said I was dead weight…”

I’d asked him where the others were, but the man had faded before I would have the chance to do so. Kendal had walked ahead. The sounds of snakes echoed around her. Yet, not once did I see her drop a sweat. She was determined to get back to her parents any means necessary. Not far from her was a log as tall as I was at the time. She crawled up and then reached out her hand to pull me. I reached, and on the way up had nearly been bitten by the same snake that I presumed had bitten the man I had last spoke to. There were more logs, even boulders ahead, and so, we jumped to each one of them until we reached the end of the trail.

We entered inside another building. And immediately we could smell iron in the air. The more we walked the stronger the smell. In front of us sat another one of our men. A pool of blood flowed from underneath him, all while a javelin remained lodged in between his sternum. Kendal now shivered as I did once. She was afraid. All motivation was gone. But then another one of our men had showed up.

“Your alive!” he yelled. “I can’t believe it! Your still alive! Where’s the captain?”

Kendal stood silenced by the dead body next to us.

“Oh, I see…” said the man, discouraged. “Is he dead?”

I shook my head. “No, but he’s been captured as well as the woman. Well…”

Kendal then grabbed my arm, shaking her head. For some reason she didn’t want to say anything about it yet.

“Nevermind… But what happened to you? Where is your friend?” I asked.

“Well… You see, we got chased by these men from Gold Beards crew, and then not paying attention like he’d always done, the poor bastard fell from one of the buildings we were evading through,” said the man. Sweat dripped down his forehead to his chin.

“B-but… Its good you two showed up, we’ll find the captain much faster now with three pairs of eyes.”

“I know where they are,” said Kendal. “They’re there.”

It was at the highest point of the island. The highest building.

“Alright then let’s get going,” said the man, eagerly.

We all hiked our way up towards the highest point of the island. We climbed, we crawled, we jumped. Anything one could do physically in an exercise we just about did. It was a surprise that any of us were built for it. I know that I wasn’t.

At the top Gold Beard waited. Both Kendal’s parents were tied to a tree that of which grew within in the building. It was like the story of jack and the beanstalk, my dad read to me long ago before both he and my mother passed. He always said that it was her favorite, and that how much she would’ve loved to read it to me herself. But… Let’s not get to emotional here.

 “Well, well, well. Finally decided to show up,” smiled Gold Beard.

Not one of us said a word. Yet, we all stood alert and ready. Without weapons, I swallowed.

“Yeah that’s right,” Gold Beard grinned. “Tell ya how this is going to go. Little ghost over there is going to come over this way and join her mother, Ariel was it? Yeah, Ariel was the name.  And the captain and the rest of you are going to stay here on this island until ya starve to death. And if not that, the snakes will sure get ya sooner or later.”

Kendal took a few steps back and blended into a shadow.

“My god this again… Uhm! Now my friend,” said Gold Beard, snapping his fingers.

“You… I knew it was one of you,” said the captain.

“Yeah, just didn’t know it was me did you captain,” laughed the man. The man had a snaggle tooth and his breath was as hot as the torches that burned around.

“Let me go!” yelled Kendal. “I knew you’d do this. I could smell it on you. You stink.”

“Yeah, like I ain’t heard that one before little bird.”

“So, what you told us before, it was all just a lie wasn’t it?” I asked.

“Ah, children,” spat the man. “Still wet behind the ears. Of course, I lied. My friend didn’t fall, he was pushed. By the hands of yours truly.”

Gold Beard and the rest of the men laughed, and their laughs carried throughout the seascape.

“Alright let’s get on with it then. Bring her hear,” demanded Gold Beard. He pinched her cheeks. He smelt her hair. Looked deep within her eyes.

“Hmmm. Don’t know if I won’t to sell this one. Could make this one my bride,” he smiled.

“Damn you Gold beard!” yelled the Captain. “If you lay a hair on her, I swear!”

It was then I did the most courageous thing. No one had saw him but in the corner of the room where an emerald bush grew, hid one of our crew mates. The one that had fallen I presumed. To buy him time, I began singing a song I’d written for Kendal. It wasn’t ready, but that was just my excuse to not sing it in front of her.

Ohhhhhhh, she’s something mystical, sailed across the sea on giant icicle.

Hair like the night, teeth that are bright, loving you has never felt so right.

“Ha has he gone mad,” chortled Gold Beard. “The boys delusional.”

Sooooo, I’ll tell her all that I’m gonna do, take her to place where always the skies are blue.

Sheeee’s the only one for me, and as beautiful as can be. So, I take this toast for a girl name ghost. Toast, toast, all for the beauty name ghost. Roast, roast, roast, the pig for the girl name ghost.

Gold beard had bought into the song. He was clapping all while his man danced in circles around a fire. Kendal was smiling somewhat, eyes staring at me with love I’d never known existed. The man in the bush then made his move and through a javelin at the portrayer. He fell to the ground, and then all claps and dancing had stopped.

“Guard yourselves!’ yelled the captain. “Come out coward!”

But then four if not five more Javelins emerged from the shadows taking down the rest. It was just Gold Beard and me.

“Alright then, so that’s how ya wanna play it” said Gold Beard, pulling out a sword, that looked freshly made, and specially made for the occasion.

He charged me but before he’d reach me a javelin had gone through his back and out of his chest. He fell to the ground and all who stood after that was Kendal. Slowly she stepped over Gold Beards body and walked towards me. I couldn’t move. She kissed me and immediately I went into a trans. But then I could taste blood.

We both opened our eyes.

“No!” sobbed Kendal’s mom.

A javelin was exposed from her stomach. She fell into my arms.

“Why!” roared the captain. “Why did you? Show yourself!”

The man from the bush then replied.

“For months I haven’t seen my family. Nor my children. And all this time, we were chasing your family, instead of being with our own. Tell me captain, did you know that my wife died on the night you told us that we needed to turn back around. Did you know that she was murdered on that night we were supposed to return home! I… I should’ve been there! But I guess we are even now, aren’t we,” said the man.

“No, no, no…” sobbed the woman. “My little one…”

“Ahhh!!!!” roared the captain, struggling to get of his ropes.

After that the man had disappeared, with not a trace. He’d taken our boat but thankfully we had Gold Beards still. On that night we had to burry what was precious to us all.

Ever since then I’ve been on the search for the man that took all ever knew away from me. The captain, and his now wife, of course, had urged me to stop and let it go. In their words, it’s what she would’ve wanted. But again, they didn’t know Kendal like I did. How could I forget that night? The touch of her lips, and then the taste of her blood. No, I was far from letting it go.

“Ghost,” yelled a man. “Where do we sell to now?”

“Venice,” I replied, wind blowing in the beard I’d grown. Apparently, that was thing that just happened when you were promoted captain.

“To Venice!” the man shouted.

“Venice?” replied another man, face covered in coal.

“Yes! Now don’t give me that look! Get moving ya lazy bum or there will be no more rum for you!”

Venice it is indeed.

Thanks so much for reading everyone! I have good news! Pacharc Stories Volume 1, is now available as a paperback for just $ 4.99! You can go to amazon yourself and purchase your first copy or can go to our book tab on the website and purchase from there 🙂

As always thank you all for the support on the site and the practice of writing, I feel I have grown alot with you all as a writer 🙂 Happy readings my friends, happy Sunday! And stay tuned for the next.

Last Time I Slept

May 16th, 2019 by P. Starks

I didn’t realize it until I woke up. Farsa, my wife, was still a sleep. And our daughter Athena, well… the little bugger was always sleeping too, although, she was only but a few months old. It was the norm for an infant, but my brother Dominic who had his child 5 years before mine, said that they cried more times than what me or Farsa could count. But I guess we were the lucky ones.

Both me and Farsa had the day of work the next day, so, we’d stayed up later than usual. However, I just couldn’t sleep. In fact, I couldn’t even remember the last time I slept. And the strange part was that I wasn’t at all tired. For a moment, I thought I was living in a dream. I pinched Farsa to be sure.

“Ow! Cut it out!” she yelled, slapping me on the arm. She pulled the rest of the covers on her side of the bed.

With my legs exposed to the cold there was no way I could’ve gone back to sleep now. Sure, I could’ve just pulled a little of it back on my side of the bed. But if you knew my wife, you’d known best to leave well alone. She was everything a man could want though, or at least a man like myself. She had long dark hair, as shiny as a crow on a rainy day accompanied by the subtleness of the sun. Her eyebrows were thicker than mine, like her fathers, which she hated for reasons she still has never told me. But her eyes were what drew you in. They were like honey, and the unfortunate part was that our daughter Athena had them to. On occasion, I’d find myself getting double teamed by both for the things that they wanted—more food or a diaper change to more fragrances and… yeah, fragrances. But how was I to say no to not one, but two pair of honey eyes. No doubt about it, they’d made me out to be a bee over time.

Nevertheless, I hoped out of the bed and slipped on my gorilla slippers that the girls had gotten me last Christmas. They were a little tight around the feet but warm, which was all that mattered. I put on my sweater. I walked down the hallway, and then took a quick peak in Athena’s room. As I expected she was sound asleep. I still couldn’t believe how much she looked like her mother.  Puffy round cheeks and all, with one tiny dimple on the left cheek especially. The only thing it seemed she had from me was her ears, which meshed well with the puffy round cheeks thankfully. I had big ears, but you grow into them eventually, when in your late thirties.  I closed the door softy and headed down the stairs to see what I could find in the fridge. I was parched and hungry all in one.

There was nothing in it when I had opened it, completely empty. Well, almost empty. A sticky note that was attached to a little coffee cup rested at the back of it. It was then I felt a cold breeze from the back of my neck, but I had assumed as many would that it was just the cold from the fridge.  I reached to the back and grabbed the cup, pulling it out of the fridge. I read the sticky note.

“Drink from this and you will know all about your life that is bliss,” it said.

My mind was all twisted up. Why would such a note be in the fridge. Farsa was an English teacher, but she wasn’t known for playing games. I sat the cup on table and then investigated the fridge for more clues. There was still nothing. Just the coffee cup and the note I had found attached to it.

There was then a rattle that trembled from behind me. I turned around and what I was seeing nearly made me jump into the fridge if I could’ve fit in it. I sure know Farsa could have for how smaller she was compared to me.

The cup had somehow filled itself. Steam rose from it, like an old train from the 1800s. I approached it, and on the surface of the liquid that filled it, the same saying I had just read from the note floated, almost in the form of latte art. But I refused to drink it. I wouldn’t. It was at this point I realized I must have still been dreaming. I had to be.

From the kitchen cutlery I pulled out the sharpest knife we had and subtly, went across my forearm with it. The color of merlot trickled down the edge of my arm onto the floor. Immediately, I ran to the cabinet where Farsa put all our towels and wrapped it around the cut before I bled more than what I needed to get the idea that maybe it wasn’t a dream after all. The girls I thought.

My feet in some way that I felt, floated up the stairs with ease. I opened the door to Athena’s room. Nothing looked anything like it did from when I entered it prior to that moment. And even worst Athena and her crib was gone.

I panicked. I ran back to the master bedroom where Farsa and I stayed.

“Farsa! Honey!” I yelled. “Athena’s gone, call the cops!”

Once I’d opened the door my knees wobbled like noodles. I dropped to the floor. Farsa was gone too, as well everything about our room. There wasn’t the slightest hint of Farsa fragrance that I could smell. If I had to describe the smell, it smelt of loneliness and despair. Like a man that had just lost it all.

Again, I ran down the stairs, and there still sat the cup of steam that I’d rejected.

“The hell with it,” I said, picking up the cup and slamming it back down my throat.

It burned, but nothing had burned as much as losing my girls. My vision had instantaneously become blurred and before I could catch myself on the countertop I collapsed to the floor. Everything was dark after that. And I’d walk around in that darkness for what felt like years. But I was for sure it was only for a couple of minutes. Or maybe not.

The sounds of a bell echoed within it, and with a pulsating light of gold. I walked to it. But with every step that I took the light had gone further way. Next, I ran. The light had slowed down a little. And within a few more steps I would reach it. My eyes again opened to the same empty room, absent of Farsa’s scent. A tear rolled down my cheek. But then the sound of the bell had rung again. It was coming from the front door.

I again, hoped out of the bed, running past still a vacant room of where Athena slept. On the way down the stairs the bell rung again. Another light out of the hell I was in, I presumed. Yet, my hands nervously hesitated to grip the door handle as I approached it. Part of me just felt nothing would change. That things were just the way that they were and that there was nothing that could be done about it. It was inevitable.

A tiny whimper then came from behind the door. It sounded all too familiar, but maybe it was just someone’s dog. But then the sound of an angel humming came not long after. I only knew of one person who could sing the song, only one person that knew about it. I opened the door, and this time I did not hesitate.

“Hi babe…” mumbled a woman. “Long time. About a month and a half to be exact. Right?”

My breathing had stopped somewhat, but not my heart. It pounded faster than what a rabbit did.

“Farsa… Athena… Y-your back,” I said happily.

We all clashed together in a big hug. I kissed them both, as many times as I could.

“I’m sorry Miles. We should’ve… No, I never should’ve left you like I did. To think all of it was over some stupid coffee cup.”

“Wait, what?”

“You don’t remember do you? Men,” said Farsa, shaking her head. “It was over the cup that we had been given on our wedding day. You said it was yours, and then I said it was mine, and then before we know it, we’re at each other’s throats on things that have absolutely nothing to do with the cup in the first place.  But I brought it back for you to have. Your more valuable to me than some cheap cup. I love you Miles.”

I stared deep into the honey eyes of Farsa and then kissed her as hard as I had ever done. The sparks we once had ignited again like a flame after a winter storm.

“I love you to,” I said, smashing the cup the floor. “Always.”

Athena giggled. Her hair was longer now, and her teeth were already beginning to expel from her pink and bubbly gums.

“Yes, my little munchkin, daddy can be quite an ape sometimes can’t he,” laughed Farsa.

And then it dawned on me what the cup had said in the dream.

“Drink from this and you will know all about your life that is bliss.”

THE END

Voice (Episode 1: Knighted by the People)

May 12th, 2019 by P. Starks

“Our city is nothing like it used to be,” sighed Giovanni Jeremiah, staring at the pigeon that stared back at him. The pigeon tilted its head, and for the moment, Giovanni Jeremiah thought that the pigeon had understood him. He then looked up to the blue skies. They had a hint of grey to them, which meant it was surely going to rain at some point. Chocolate city was always known to be a peaceful place, he thought. One where it was quite; light on crimes, in fact, light year-round. Seagulls soaring from above as you ate one of the best chili dog’s money could buy. But then the city grew.

“Hey lady!” yelled a man, with a switch blade in hand. “Give me your purse or else, you’ll be sorry.”

The man was rough looking. His hair was bristled and filled with dandruff. He had a crooked smile, and from the looks of him, smelt of cigarettes and whiskey. The woman trembled, doing her best to not panic. Yet, still, she panicked.

“H-here take it,” she said. “Just please don’t hurt me. Please!”

The man then threw the woman a cynical grin. He took the bag and ran off into a full sprint, as he turned into a dark alley on the corner of 42nd and Lumbaray. And then the sound of a gunshot echoed the cityscape. Not a second later, from the alley now came a child that looked as if she was still in elementary. The same purse that the man had had in his hand, was now in hers.

“Jesus,” whispered Giovanni Jeremiah, shaking his head. “What the fuck…”

He’d gotten up from the bench he sat and thrown to the ground the last piece of his ham and cheese. “Here ya go buddy. Be safe out there, its dangerous.” The pigeon had flown of with the sandwich.

On his way back home Giovanni Jeremiah figured it be a good day to go to his favorite comic bookstore, Infinity Comics. After what he had just witnessed, it was really the only other thing that would make him feel better. Well… that and a slice of pepperoni pizza from Mestros Italliano. But that would be for later, he’d promised himself.

It was quiet. Usually, Giovanni Jeremiah would here the manager, Tobias Bone, ranting on to his customers on how much he felt Ironman would kick Batman’s ass, but this time he couldn’t even hear so much as a page being turned.

“Hey Tobias! Yo, T. Bone, you in here?” asked Giovanni Jeremiah. He walked down each aisle to see if he wasn’t alone.

The front counter was the last place to check. Giovanni Jeremiah thought about all the crime movies he had watched, and how every time someone checked the front counter, there would be a dead body. Slowly, he made his way over. Every step felt as if he were trying to walk around pieces of broken glass barefooted; he didn’t know what to expect, and he hoped it was nothing bad.

From the right of him, a man had tackled him to the ground, pointing to his face what looked to be a gun out of the movie Dirty Harry. But in his heart, he knew it wasn’t just some replica. It was the real deal. Real steel.

 “You want a piece of me mother…” paused the man. “Oh shit… Giovanni Jeremiah is that you?”

Giovanni Jeremiah then picked himself back up on his feet. “Yeah man! Shit! Tobias what the hell! What the hells going on?”

Tobias was a heavy-set man. Although, handsome in the face—like a walking, talking, still alive, Barry White. He wore an Iron man shirt and sadly, had his facial hair done the same way as Iron man, no, Tony Starks. But no one ever bothered him about it. It was just… him.

“You mean you don’t know?” asked Tobias.

“Know what?”

Tobias then walked to the back room of the store, pulling out an old T.V remote. “Take a seat, my friend, there’s some deep shit you need to be updated on.”

Immediately, Giovanni Jeremiah’s eye’s widened. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing, let alone, what he was hearing.

We have breaking news. Today crimes have skyrocketed by the dozens. There have been multiple robberies, multiple murders, and multiple casualties of things I am not quite comfortable talking about. Citizens of the city are now calling Chocolate City the new modern-day Gotham. But sadly, I don’t think we have any Batman to help us out of this chaos. My name is Rebeka O’Connell. Back to you Toni.

“Jesus,” again, whispered Giovanni Jeremiah.

“Yeah I know. I just had two knuckle head sons of bitches try and rob me for my Ironman collectables. I was like, the hell if you are. I then pulled out my Smith & Wesson, and the rest was history. I never knew how fast someone could run with pants barely hanging off their ass. Especially, with no belt.”

Giovanni Jeremiah for once was in awe. He was frightened. All his life Chocolate City had always been peaceful and, in fact, sweet like Chocolate. But it wasn’t anymore.

“Hey,” bumped Tobias. “You should probably get heading home. You know, before it get’s too dark and stuff.”

Giovanni nodded.

“And of yeah. Take this, I know you’ve always been eying it. Take it as incentive for me kick your ass just now.”

Giovanni Jeremiah laughed sarcastically. “Right. Okay.”

“Now that’s the Giovanni Jeremiah I know. Now seriously, get the fuck out of here for I do to you what I did to those knuckleheads earlier.”

Giovanni Jeremiah smiled and then went on his way. He flipped through the pages of the comic he had been given, the comic he had always wanted, “The Spider-man team up” feat Howard the duck, Gambit, and Spider-man as himself. Every page was an eyegasym. The story was just too good to turn away from. And then it had him. The question on if he could be a like them, a hero.

Flash-forwarding. Months had then gone by faster than expected with the idea still in Giovanni Jeremiah’s head. He was different now. He’d trained with some of the best. And he’d defeated the best. Once a 31-year-old man, now one of the toughest S.O. B’s the city has ever seen. Crime rates were beginning to fall, however, there was still so much that needed to be done. But was he ready?

On top of an old abandoned building Giovanni Jeremiah waited. His hair was longer now, twisted like tree vines. His eyes were solid black from the contacts that he purposely used. And he wore a one piece that was completely black with a hint of turquoise. People filled streets in a riot against all that had been done wrong to them and all that wasn’t being done to fix it. Not only were their lives being destroyed by criminals, but it also was being destroyed by the people they’d put their trust in—their government. An old woman then spoke.

“All of this time we have been cheated on our lives. None of you care about us. None of you! As long as our money is going deep into your filthy pockets, that’s all you truly care about. Your no different than the criminals that rob and murder. The only difference is, is that you just do it more cowardly than they do,” spat the old woman.

“But don’t you worry we already got someone in the works of handling you, and his name…” paused the old woman. She leaned over and tapped a young man on the arm. “What is his name?”

“I don’t know,” shrugged the young man.

“Hey, how about the dark knight?” said a man from the back.

“Don’t be stupid, that’s Batman you idiot. Learn your comic history,” said another.

“Hey man, kiss my ass man!”

A wrestling match between the two men had begun, aggravating the riot even more, all until it was then a little girl who spoke.

“How about the Voice,” she said.

Giovanni Jeremiah smiled. He liked it.

“Wait, what did you say little girl?” asked the old woman.

The little girl looked up at her father for approval. “Go ahead honey, don’t be shy,” he said.

“We should call him the Voice,” she said. “We always talk about how he fights for us and how he always finds an answer to our questions. Its as if he is our voice, you know, like the voice of the people but in a different way… N-Never mind.”

The little girl then tucked herself into her father’s trench coat. “There, there, little one you did great. Proud of you. And your mother would be proud of you to.”

Tears rolled down the little girl’s cheek as she smiled. Her father, however, had wiped his way before it was even noticed.

“Then it is settled!” yelled the old woman. “We will call him the Voice.”

The crowd then began to cheer. The two men had stopped fighting, and echoes of the voice flowed through the entirety of the city.

Giovanni Jeremiah had been knighted by the people. He had become the Voice!

The Flys of Ogzancaugh

April 28th, 2019 by P.Starks

Ogzancaugh wasn’t a school where many were worthy to go. It was as they put it, only for the gifted. But little did they know that those gifts could be obtained all by just the sere will of focus and determination or for some, revenge. Although, at Ogzancaugh, you only had two choices to really obtain such—the light or the dark. But still to this day not a soul can tell the difference between the two. However, it was obvious that their beliefs at the end would only steer them into what they already knew, more so, what they were familiar with. Ignorance… maybe, biasness, yes…perhaps. But beliefs were beliefs and one would be a fool to challenge those beliefs. But then there was a young boy and girl who were foolishness to do so—The Flys.

Not long-ago Lyndon Fly and his sister, Lydia Fly, were kids ridiculed for all their failures in life. From their parents abusing them for the troubles they’d brought to nearly burning down an entire school at the ages of four and five, all to show that it was possible to create a real-life miniature volcano. And they did, explosively.

Lydia was almost about the height of her brother. She had long dark hair, with grey highlights in them, that of which gave all students at their school, Pixie Fall, reason to believe that she might’ve been a reincarnated witch. But none dared to say it to her face. She’d already heard it enough at home.

“Your no child of mine!” yelled her mom. “You’re some kind of witch or something. An abomination! Just go to your room!”

Lyndon, on the other hand, would get his abuse from his father, but sadly not verbally. Like his sister he had dark hair but not long or with grey highlights. It was just dark and greasy looking, that of which he’d been nicknamed the Crow. On the late nights that he studied he’d come back home to his father, drunk, with nothing in the fridge nourish his frail figure. He was starving. So, instead he’d scramble through the trash cans of their neighborhood just like any crow would.

With their parents being divorced, Lyndon and Lydia hadn’t saw much of each other after that. But on the night when the moon was full both would get a knock on the door. They were always told not to open the door to strangers, however, in the predicament that they were in, a stranger sounded a lot safer than the beast that watched over them.

Lydia opened the door.

“Ah! Hello, hello my name is Mr. Black,” said a groggy voice.

Lydia looked around. Nothing was their but just the light of the moon and the sound of cars passing by.

“Uh umm… Down here,” said the voice. “Keep telling the master I need a stool or something.”

Lydia jumped back. It was a solid black cat. It had a tie around its neck, and coke-bottle glasses around its head.

“Your…. Your,” hesitated Lydia.

“Yes, I am a cat. Get that all the time. And no… you’re not Sabrina the teenage witch. I can’t tell you how many times I get that joke from little girls like you enough. I’d prefer boys but the last boy… Well we won’t talk about him.”

“Lydia! Who is it?” yelled her mom, from up the stairs.

“Nothing mom,” replied Lydia. “Just the wrong pizza delivery.”

The cat then spoke again.

“Again, my name is Mr. Black and I am here to give you this. Take it, and don’t be late. The last boy that was… No, I mustn’t.”

From its little satchel the cat pulled out an old pocket watch. It was solid gold, with engravings on it that Lydia didn’t understand.

“Pack your things before midnight. Because when it hits minute the watch will bring you to Ogzancaugh.”

“What? Why? I mean, why are you here? What is Ogzancaugh? Why me?” asked Lydia, nervous as can be.

“Tis tis, tut tut, shut, shut. Too many questions little girl. Just know that you’re a special child and your destined for a greater purpose. Do you really want to stay here with that woman up there? Yeah, you don’t have to tell me. I’ve read your whole profile. Now. I must go.”

Before Lydia could say anything else the cat had vanished off. She closed the door back. She looked at the watch. It was forty minutes till midnight. Lydia had thought about all the things people had said to her, that her own mother had said. Her mind was made up. She then ran up the stairs, locked her door and packed everything she needed for the night ahead. She waited.

A few minutes in and the sound of footsteps would approach her door. The door knob twisted from right to left, aggressively.

“Lydia! Why is this door locked? Open this door right now young lady! You better not be cooking up some of that witchcraft shit of yours! You’re not burning this house down like you and your brother did that school, so, open this door right now!”

“Not a chance…” whispered Lydia.

The door knob continued to twist aggressively, and this time followed by a thumping sound which Lydia knew was her mom’s body weight being thrown against it. Ten more seconds till midnight. Lydia held on to her belongings, tightly holding onto the watch, closing her eyes and counting.

“Three, two, one.”

Violins brought peace of mind to her ears. It was all soothing. There were multiple smells, so she couldn’t really tell what it was. But if she could’ve put her finger on any of kind of scent, it would be that the smell of science was in the air—the smell of chemicals and god knows what else. She opened her eyes.  Hundreds, maybe thousands of students walked around and through the halls, wearing solid white coats, each with their own unique emblem attached.

“You’re here! I can’t believe you’re here!” yelled a boy from behind.

Lydia spun around, excitingly. “Lyndon!”

The two ran up to one another holding each other as tight as they remembered they’d last given each other a hug.

“Lyndon, what’s going on? What is this place?” asked Lydia, searching the whole room amazed by its magnificence.

“I don’t know. I was just brought her three hours ago.”

“Right, of course! I keep forgetting you and dad have eastern time. By the way how did you get past dad?”

“You know the old man. Drunk as can be. Always. I could have had five elephants in the room, and he would’ve just thought he was watching the discovery channel or something.”

“Ha ha ha! Yeah I guess your right on that one.”

“How’d you get passed mom?”

“Well… I didn’t. I mean, I barely did. And I’m sure by now the entire door to my room is kicked down by now.”

Lyndon shook his head. “I’m sorry… Well, at least the good news is that were together again. The Frys are back baby!”

“Hell’s yeah!”

The sound of a bell echoed throughout the halls and everyone within it made their way down a snake way path which ended with gigantic double doors. Lyndon and Lydia followed.

“Hey why are we here? The cat told me that I’d have pizza for weeks!” yelled a boy.

“You? What about me!” yelled a girl. “The cat told me that I would be able to travel the world. Without parental guidance.”

Lydia then turned to her brother. She’d wondered what the cat had told him.

“Hey Lyndon?”

“Yeah what’s up sis?”

“What did the cat tell you? Like before you agreed to come.”

Lyndon smiled. “Well… can’t say I agreed necessarily. But he told me that I was meant to protect someone. He kept babbling on about me being something special and that I was going to have to make an important sacrifice. I mean, sounds pretty adventurous don’t ya think? What did the cat tell you?”

“Well…”

The doors then opened, interrupting Lydia from what she was about to say. And moonlight expelled from it, like opened curtains on a sunny day. Everyone hesitated to go in. They all looked at one another. No one ever believed in the boogeyman, but for once in their lives they felt that he might’ve existed.

“Alright now!” yelled a girl. “Someone go in already. Don’t be scaredy-cats.”

“Yeah, right. Says the one ten rows down. Just shut it,” yelled a boy.

Lydia and Lyndon looked at one another. They made their way through the crowd and not a second more were at the opening of the door. They grabbed each other’s hands and nodded. They walked forward. And all who watched had only one eye opened, slightly, for they didn’t know what to expect. The worst presumably.

As the two entered, light circled around their feet. And from that light they could see that there was not a floor at all.

“Amazing,” said Lyndon. “And they said that Jesus was the only one to walk on water.”

“Were not on water you goof,” said Lydia.

“Yeah but close enough,” laughed Lyndon.

There was a throne in front of them now. It was enormous. Big enough to hold ten kids, if not more. All the lights then came on. The room was bigger than what they thought, and millions of books surrounded the outer parts of it.

“Welcome to Ogzancaugh!” yelled a voice. “You two have passed the first test. We call it the leap of faith.”

“Who are you?” yelled Lyndon. “What do you want?”

“Watch your tone boy! Do you know who…” paused Mr. Black the cat, appearing from a dark corner

The room rumbled like an earthquake.

“No, it’s okay Mr. Black. The boy has courage. I like that,” said the mysterious voice. “My name is Ogre Glynn. And I’ve been watching you two for a while now. The Flys is it? Whom of which by the ages of four and five discovered how to create work that only the gods could do. Yes… remarkable.”

Lydia stood behind Lyndon. For the first time in her life she was scared. She got the chills and even more when the man had appeared from where he hid. Out from the shadow stepped one large-bare-foot. Immediately it gave off a horrendous odor. Lyndon wanted to puke but held it in for he wanted to make a good first impression.

The rest of the man’s body was green and slimy as it was revealed. Teeth as crooked as great whites, and just as sharp from the looks of it. But in his eyes—innocents. The other kids had now made their way in the room. But, of course, still keeping their distance as they stayed about ten feet from where Lyndon and Lydia stood.

“The… the… It’s the boogeyman,” said a young girl, shivering by the sight.

Lyndon grabbed onto his sisters arm tightly and pulled her along.

“It’s okay sis, I got you,” he said.

Lydia nodded, hesitantly.

TO BE CONTINUED

Thanks for reading! 😊

Open Blinds

April 21, 2019 by P.Starks

The bell had rung, it was recess, and all who had finished their book reports on time, ran outside to feel the warmth of the sun against their skin, for they had earned the right to do so. Xavier’s frenemy Lipton Tiles, swore on his life that he was going to beat him at his own game, once and for all. The challenge, of course, had been accepted. Although, neither of the two had finished their book reports. But the good news was that their teacher Mrs. Summontunei had fallen asleep after eating what she’d always announced to everyone as the breakfast for champions.

Breakfast for Champions:

  • 1 sausage biscuit
  •  2 hash browns
  • 3 slices of bacon
  • ½ an omelet.
  • 2 pancakes
  • 12oz glass of orange juice (spiked with a dash of bourbon, which no one had known about but her.)

“Gals gotta eat,” she said, stuffing her face. But this was before she’d passed out in her office chair.

Nevertheless, together the two, Xavier and Lipton, snuck out of class making their way over to and down a slippery slope, towards their favorite place to play, the only place to play they argued, Butterscotch field. It wasn’t your typical football field, to be frank—there was no grass, no turf, just dirt. Xavier’s mom had told him more times than what he knew how to count to stay off the field, that it was dangerous. But… boys would be boys, she’d convinced herself.

 The field was still somewhat wet from the rain that poured two day’s prior, but everyone had brought their cleats, thankfully. Well… all except for Xavier. Although, he never really had any to begin with. His feet were much smaller than the boys in his class, and his parents couldn’t afford to buy another pair of cleats, so, he’d use his little sister Xena’s instead. The shoes were custom made—specially made for their little princess. They were pink, with little purple dolphins on the sides of them, lighting up from the bottom for every step Xavier would take. If there was anything Lipton Tiles hated losing to, it was a boy wearing girl cleats. Especially, that of a little girl that gave him the creeps more than anything. Having Xena around was like holding kryptonite in front of superman. It weakened him. Which was why this time Lipton had made Xavier swear on his pet iguana, that she would not be around when they played again.

 Luckily for Lipton, Xena would be having a little football game of her own, in fact, right across the street. The only difference was hers was the real deal. And a real field, HawkGlue Stadium. Xavier was embarrassed—having his little sister in a football league before him—shameful. But… she was incredibly good at it; he’d only told himself. However, he was at a disadvantage now. 

“Okay guys let’s get this game over with before Xena shows up. You know what happened last time,” said Lipton, nervously bouncing his eyes around the field.

All cleats pierced into the ground for support. And Xavier would have a little trouble keeping balance. His feet swiveled as he stood. It was apparent that converse shoes just weren’t made for sports.

“What’s wrong Xavier? Afraid your gonna lose,” laughed Lipton.

“No way!” yelled Xavier, his voice echoing down the field. “Your going down, again.”

Xavier then took off down the field with the ball. There was no goalie, which meant the game wasn’t off to a good start for the Sweet T’s, Lipton’s team called themselves, ironically. But not like the kind you drink. Just the letter.

Xavier looked up over his shoulder. Lipton was catching up, which would be a first, Xavier thought, but again, he was at a disadvantage this go around.  

“I got you now,” he Lipton, sweeping from up underneath Xavier’s feet.  

Xavier then fumbled to the ground, sliding a few feet out from where he’d initially fallen. But thankfully, the part he’d fallen in still consisted mostly of mud, or at least that was what he hoped. Immediately, Xavier got back up on his feet, brushing off his shoulders and knees, and wiping away what little remained on his face.

Everyone stared.  

‘What?” Xavier questioned. “Don’t just stand around. Are we still playing or what?”

Red streams trickled down the left side of his face. It was a deep, dark-red. He could somewhat feel it but assumed it was just more mud. He then touched the side of his face and pulled his hand out in front of him. It was a fluorescent red, sun gleaming off it like ice.  As the seconds had gone by, Xavier’s vision would as well. He then fell backwards, back into the mud. Everything was dark. Xavier could still feel the sun, but the touch of the wind was beginning to get a little cold as time went on.

“Is this what dying’s like?” he whispered, a crystal tear rolling down to his right ear. “I don’t want to die…”

Everyone on the field panicked. While the rest stayed behind with Xavier, Lipton had bolted across the street to tell Xavier’s sister, more so, his parents what had happened. He had to.

“It’s all my fault,” he said, guilt embedded in his eyes.

Not long after Xavier could feel footsteps approach. Ten, maybe twelve, he thought. He felt his body lift from the ground. And for the moment he thought he was flying. He passed out.

They were in the back of the ambulance truck now. Just Xavier’s family, and Lipton, whom had lied and said that he was his brother. However, no one denied it either. Xena clinged to Lipton’s arm in fear, but for once he, didn’t mind it at all.

“I shouldn’t have tripped him,” he mumbled, guilt now embedded in his slouch.

Mrs. Browni, Xavier’s mother cried, while she held tightly his hand. And Mr. Browni would hold her in support. But even he needed a shoulder to cry on, for he had a hard time dealing with it just as much.

Twelve minutes down G5 South, there would be something in the middle of the road. But the driver didn’t catch it until he’d gotten right up on it. He swerved around it, hitting an evasive patch on what would have been a side walk had it not been a highway. The truck then tumbled like tumbleweed, falling into a ditch where no one that drove by would find them. There was silence now. Not a muscle moved. But then Xavier awakened, with his head hurting even more than what it did before.

“Mom! Dad! Xena! Lipt…  Is everyone alright?” he yelled, still strapped to the stretcher.

A sharp pain shot up and through his left foot. It was broken from what he could feel. But he was flat on his stomach now, and the weight of the stretcher wasn’t helping either. Xavier wiggled his shoulders, eventually chimneying one of his arms loose from the straps that confined him. He then reached over and freed his other arm, working his way down to his ankles, eventually walking himself up against a crooked wall on the foot that was still good.

“Mom! Dad! Xena!” he yelled again, voice echoing from the vacant space in front of him.

A cold draft was coming from the front of him now. The doors were open, and by the sound of it, it was raining. In fact, he could smell it—an oily smell.  Xavier then hopped his way forward. The pain was excruciating. But the pain of his family being dead was what he felt most concerned about.

When he stepped out, he could feel the mush from underneath his feet. He was hesitant. One more fall, and he knew would be a sitting duck. No doubt about it, mud was beginning to be his bad luck charm.  A couple of hops forward and to the left of him would be a tree. It felt like brail to blind person. It was fitting, but the tree wouldn’t be able to tell him anything that he hadn’t already assumed. There was a branch, as strong as bamboo, he felt. But of course, that be an understatement seeing how it only taken his body weight to break it off. Which was 145 lb on the scale but 132 in his mind.

Smoke lingered in the air. And the closer he’d gotten to it, the more pungent. Maybe it was his family. Maybe it was the medics. Maybe it was Lipton, but he’d barely know how to strike a match, Xavier joked.

When he’d made his next step, there would be a crackling sound. Like stepping on a hardboiled egg or Ritz crackers even. Xavier froze. But it was too late. Before he could grab on to anything around, his body had sunk down a deep hole, and he’d toss and turn down it like a water slide. The only thing that ran through his mind now was if what he was about to fall in was shallow or not.  Swimming wasn’t his strong suit—especially, not with a bad leg. He’d made a big cannon ball splash at the end of it all, clothes now more soaked then what the rain had done. Again, he called out for his family. But later he’d cry for help.

The smell was daunting. Like a sewer. But as Xavier touched the sides of the walls within it, he knew that such wasn’t so. It was wet and slimy, beveled edges that formed ridged triangles and squares. And his feet were so completely submerged in such, that the bowls of his feet were beginning to wrinkle in ways he felt weren’t good for his skin. Xavier began walking himself against the wall, pressing his forearm against it instead this time. Whisper’s echoed from all around him, sending chills up and down his spine. He stopped. He could sense something, or someone in front of him. But who?

“Mom?” asked Xavier. “Dad?”

Ripples of liquid then circled around him, colliding at his ankles.

“W-who’s there?” Xavier yelled, spinning around.

Without thought, Xavier moved as fast he could with the bad leg that he had. Ripples followed behind him, although, they weren’t his. He bumped into a wall—a dead end. He felt around it, left, right, up and down, all until he felt a round knob. A door. The ripples behind kicked up their speed. Xavier’s hands trembled. He’d attempt to open the door, but something was behind it. Something heavy. He pushed and pushed, twisting the knob repeatedly. And then the door opened and closed. Xavier was safe now. But what just happened he knew he did not do. Something had pulled him through.

“I don’t know how you got here, but this is no place for a boy,” said a voice, smooth and soothing.

Xavier paused to answer. “Well I…”

“Your lucky child, any longer and you’d been eaten by the Frobber. He don’t see much flesh these days, especially one so fresh I must say.”

Xavier swallowed. “Frobber?”

“Yes. But don’t worry, you’re in good hands now. Take a seat over there by the fire place and I’ll fix ya something warm to drink.”

“I can’t see…”

“Child everyone can see. You’ve just all become too reliant on them eyes of yours. You still have your nose, your ears, your taste, and your touch. So, don’t tell me you can’t see. Try again.”

Xavier lifted his nose to the air. He could smell something spicy to his left. Herbs maybe.

“That’s where you cook. To the left, right? Like a kitchen,” he said.

Bright crooked teeth smiled in the dark. Xavier then used his since of touch. He slowly walked around the room, feeling two cold drafts, one from behind him where the door was and one in front, which he presumed was a window. But to his right he felt something warm. And the closer he’d gotten the warmer it was. He reached his hand out and felt a chair, and then sat down.

“Here,” he said.

“Impressive. Your smarter than most that I’ve seen come down here.”

Xavier then stood up. “My family! Did you see my family? A girl with purple dolphins on her shoes!” yelled Xavier, panicking.

“Calm down boy. Or your going to make that knot on your head pop like a balloon. And that wouldn’t be good for you or my floor.”

“Well… did you see them or not?”

Footsteps made their way over. A hand rested on Xavier’s shoulder. It was warm, and heavy.

“First, let me introduce myself. I am Alice, but some call me The Broken Body,” said the old woman. “But please sit back down boy and give me a moment.”

The old woman then pulled out an old crystal ball and placed it out on the table in front of them. A warm light bounced off both of their faces, but it wasn’t nothing like that of which the fireplace had given. The light had its own kind of warmness. In fact, sometimes pulsating from warm to hot.

“Your family…” paused the Old woman. “Is alive.”

“That’s gr…”

“But! they are far now. And… Well, they’ve been taken to. But I can’t say the mans name. If I do well…”

“No! Tell me! Where is my family? Who has them?”

The old woman smiled and brought herself closer to the light. Xavier could smell, somewhat taste her breath. It was horrid and repulsive.

“They call…” hesitated the old woman, leaning even closer. “They call him… The Copyright.”

Xavier swallowed. “And…where is he now? This Copyright”

“Shh! Shut up boy… Say his name again and where both dead. Say his name again and you’d wish you said something else instead.”

“I’m dead without my family. Besides, Copyright is just a…”

The room felt cold now. The front door burst open and mist expelled from behind it like a fog machine. The light from the crystal ball was gone, even the fireplace.

“Its him…” said the old woman.

TO BE CONTINUED.

Eavesdropper and the Bartender

April 14th, 2019 by P. Starks

LETS GET IT
Artwork by Russ Mills @  byroglyphics.com

Inside, everything was no different than the door William had walked through—it was all purple. The bar, the clothes people wore, the stage even—everything—purple. Smoke filled the air, like an erupted volcano. And compared to the air outside, the air inside was as humid as it could be on a Texas summer day. It had all become unbearable. And to add, from what William could barely see, a good ninety percent of the people in the room were nicotine addicts, presumably, but, of course, this was his assumption not mine. William coughed and then waived his hand in the air for safe passage. His vision was much clearer, and less smoky now. He pulled his watch up to his mouth and then spoke to the code inside of it.

“Hey… Sariah… Where are we?” he asked, concerned.
“We are at the Purple Down. It’s an underground club. Mostly filled with thugs, drug dealers, and prostitutes,” replied the code. “But don’t worry. No one will try anything, yet.”
“Yet?”

William swallowed, and it was rough going down. He had no idea what he was getting himself into. He needed the bar. He needed a drink. So, he’d made his way over. As he walked across the floor, eyes pierced to the sides and the back of his head. It was apparent that he wasn’t wanted there. But he was there on personal business, and to him, it was the only reason that he needed, more so, it was none of their concern, he’d told himself.

“I’ll take a Mojitos,” said William, sharply staring the bartender in the eyes, to show everyone that he was no one’s bitch.

The bartender then gave an annoyed grin. She was tall, and taller than most of the men in the room. She had short dark hair—a little on the top and a little off the sides. Her arms were the size of both of Williams thighs combined, sadly. But out of all that might’ve been intimidating about her, her eyes were something else. They were crystal grey. Almost as if you could see through them. Yes, translucent, that’s the word. They were translucently grey.

“I don’t do Mojitos,” said the bartender, frustratingly. “This ain’t that kind of bar. But I got some creamer in the fridge for you. Maybe that’ll supplement for the milk you’re probably qwa, qwa, qwaa, qwaving.”

All the men and women in the bar started laughing, so hard that some were now on the floor—they tossed and turned. However, Williams eyes remained locked onto the bartenders. He said nothing and smiled confidently. Although, the bartender could tell a bluff of confidence when she saw one.

“Hey!” she yelled, waiving her hand in Williams face. “You gonna take a picture or are you gonna take a shot of what I just poured ya. And don’t even think about stiffing me on a tip or you’ll end up like the poor bastard over there.”

William looked to his right. And just the sight of the man alone was enough to bring him back to reality. It gave him the chills, undoubtedly. The man was all busted up—pants torn, shirt torn, one eye closed, with a note darted to his chest, no his nipple, that said, I GOT STIFFED. William swallowed again, and then swallowed for the third time right after, but this time chasing down the glass the bartender had placed in front of him.

“Did you by chance see the two men come by here?” asked William, sternly. “One with a banana colored suit and the other with a tailored suit.”

The bartender then turned her back, pretending to wash what looked like already cleaned glasses. For whatever reason she was nervous. And the sweat on the back of her neck would say it so. Chairs then slid back on the wooden floor William stood on. And the sound of boots clinked and clacked against it no different than how a tap dancer would. The closer they’d gotten, the louder.

“Careful William,” said the code. “There are five men behind you. Three with butter knives, one with a pool stick and the other with a gun.”

William stared at his empty glass, rolling it back and forward in his hand. In it, he could see the reflection of the five men the code had just described. Butter knifes came to mind, and for a moment he chuckled, but then his survival instinct reminded him of the thing he should’ve been worried about—GUN, said the angel on his right shoulder. Although, the devil on his left said, “Fuck em, your like Keanu Reeves, you can dodge it if he shoots.” But oh, how wrong the little devil was.

“Sariah, help…” Whispered William, pleading for safety.

One of the men then tapped William on the shoulder.

“So, you’re the one that’s been following our boss?” said the man. “He don’t like that. He don’t like rats. And my friend, you are in the wrong race.”

William turned around slowly. He looked down. The man was smaller than the bartender, smaller than most in the room, but the aura that was given from him was not one to take lightly. William responded.

“Fellas, fellas, calm down… I-I’m here like you just tryna get a drink, maybe even tickle my whistle a bit, if ya catch my drift.”

The five men then stared at one another, dazed and confused. They weren’t what any would call the brightest bunch. Yet, they all stood there, scratching the dandruff from their scalps onto the floor, deciding on rather William was telling the truth or not.

“Well!” yelled the man, with the gun, slowly edging himself forward. “That ain’t what I heard, little bird. You see, word on the street is that you’ve been stalking our bosses. And I don’t know about the rest of the dimwits here, but I ain’t buying your shit. Not for one second my friend.”

The man with the gun was about the same height as William. Five eight, or maybe five nine. Who knows?

“No… It’s not like,” stopped William.
“Clear the room everyone!” yelled the man, with the gun. “We’re about to have ourselves a little showdown.”
“Did someone say hoedown,” laughed a man, from deep dark corner.
“Oh, fuck off already Victor!” yelled a woman. “A gerbil would have a better chance getting it up than you!”

The whole club then let up like fireworks with the insults that had been thrown back and forward. Still, the man with the gun wasn’t laughing. And neither was William.

“Shut up!” yelled again, the man with the gun. “Everyone shut! Up! Were about to dance!”

The whole room had gotten quiet. Chairs and tables were moved to the corners of the room—everyone had spread out. At the bar, it was just William and the man with gun now.

“I ain’t gonna need this,” said the man, putting his gun on the floor and kicking it over to one of his comrades. “Besides, it been a while since I’ve had a good fight. Although I’m pretty sure this will be a quick one.”

The man cracked his knuckles and took his stance. He slowly grooved himself forward.

“Sariah, what the hell,” William urged.

The man then cocked back his fist and through his first punch, but before it made contact with Williams face, everything would go black.

“Hey what happened to the lights!” yelled the man.

Glass shattered in the background. Women screamed, even the men, who seemed like they were getting the worst of it all. William could feel a gush wind flow in front him. It was fast.

“Okay… Its good now Sariah, you can cut the lights back on,” William said.
“But William… I didn’t do that,” said the code.

William then felt something warm on the back of his neck. Someone’s breath—someone behind him. But who? Images of channel 2 news started to fly across his mind like a motion picture. And all that William could think about was how it would all look—African American, middle age coder shanked in the back with a butter knife, at an underground titty bar of all places. His mother would be so proud, he told himself, humorously. The lights then came back on. It was odd. William could’ve sworn he’d heard bodies fall to the ground, but there were none. Literally, there was no one in the room. And the floor was, in fact, squeaky clean, as if it had been polished. The person behind then tapped on his shoulder.

“Hey, lets go,” they said. “I’ll explain everything to you later, but we need to get going before more show up.”

William turned around, slowly. It was the bartender. But she wasn’t in her work clothes anymore. She somewhat looked like a ninja, but they were a long way from Japan. It just wasn’t fitting. But again, who knows? Especially, in the day and age that they were in.

“What happened to everyone?” asked William.

The bartender smiled. And shook her head. “Really… out of what I just saved you from, you’re really worried about that?”

She grabbed Williams arm and pulled him out of the club. It didn’t feel like he’d been in there that long, but it was dark now. The homeless man still slept in the alley, although, by now William was for certain that he was dead. No one slept that long, not even a drug addict. They made a right, and then another right, entering in what looked to be an abandoned bakery.

“Where are we going?” William asked. “I don’t even know your name…”

The bartender was quiet. She let go of Williams arm and scoped out the place.

“Who are you?” asked William, but this time he’d asked the code.
“It is unknown. She has no records. I believe she was an orphaned child. However, I cannot confirm how she is tied with the Koroshimasu.”
“What the hell is a Kromasew?”
“It’s Koroshimasu. They are a ninja clan. Well… an underground ninja clan. Its been years since there have been records of them. Until now that is.”
“Oh my god! I fuckin knew it!”

The bartender turned around fast. “Who are you talking to? We can’t have contact, or we’ll be found. We gotta lay low. Give me your phone.”

William pulled out his phone hesitantly and the bartender snatched it from him. She threw it against the wall, and well… that was pretty much the end of it. William cringed. But if anything, he still had his watch, which she didn’t know much about. William swallowed as he’d always done when all hell was breaking loose. He thought about the two men in the suits. He thought about the guys that all much jumped him for pursuing the men in the suits. And then he thought about the suspicious bartender who was supposedly part of a ninja clan.

“What the fuck…” he whispered. “Did I get myself into…”

TO BE CONTINUED…

Thank you all for reading! And if you have time please go check out the artist for the phenomenal artwork tied to it, his name is Russ Mills @ byroglyphics.com. He has twenty years of experience at what he does and I highly recommend you follow him, especially if your an upcoming artist looking for a little inspiration. 

 

Eavesdropper

April 7th, 2019 by P. Starks

EVESDROPPER

The smell of rain was in the air, as well the oil that had been embedded in the ground from all the heavy traffic. From all the buildings that had been built within the last two years there would hardly be enough room for cars on the street, yet, many still managed. Most had decided riding buses would be the best option, to escape the predicament of being delayed by others throughout their day, a few had argued. However, not even that was all that reliable seeing how the buses either pulled away too early, or always found themselves late for time. They were unpredictable. Cranberry, Nottitown was, in fact, a crowded city, but… it was a city were dreams became realities.

Williams William was just child when he’d gotten exposed to the city life, more so, the fruits of its labor it had normally delivered—computers, cellphones, videogame consoles and more. And at ten and a half years of age William would be given his first computer, the Pixie Square. And yes, it was square. It was solid white, bulky, and such that it was almost as heavy as the weights his dad had set up in their home garage. Although, his dad, never liked to admit that it was.

But it had all felt natural to William, the computer that is. He’d been working on it as if he’d been on the planet long before his parent’s, parents had.  The computer did everything he wanted it to do, anything he told it to, but longevity wasn’t its strong suit from what was said in its customer reviews. William had only gotten a year out of it, but still, he made more out of it than what most would do in their lifetime. He was that talented of a kid.

Not long after his early years, William would already have won multiple awards for his extraordinary coding abilities, the judges of the T.A(Technological Advancement) Awards had cheered. But it wasn’t enough. At least not enough for him. He’d watch many before him accomplish so much, and still, they were at the top reaping in all the benefits that came with it. Of course, knocking them off the pedestal wasn’t what he wanted. If anything, he just wanted to be at the top with them. However, if knocking them off was what was required to being at the top, he wouldn’t be afraid to make that decision either.

But on the rainiest of days, William was now at his favorite coffee shop, “Drinking Beans.” He now had dark hair with a pinch of grey, to show that he was aging. Although, his facial hair had shot him up ten years more than what he’d liked to admit. Like father like son. He was casually dressed, the normal t-shirts and jeans, but wore dress shoes that he argued to his co-workers at Metric Tunic, was more casual than tennis shoes.

William was on the brink of discovering the first ever code to process on its own. Like, artificial intelligence but literally its own organism in a sense. He’d been working on it for years and was seconds away from finalizing what many of his fellow coders thought was impossible. And… Indeed, he’d finished it on his last sip of coffee, that of which tasted as burnt as a marshmallow at a campfire.

Nevertheless, as great as the moment was for him, William had had hard time celebrating. For the time that he had been there, he couldn’t help but tune into the conversation of the men from behind him. He had had on his headphones the entire time, but little did the men know that the right earbud had been broken for at least a week and a half. Although he couldn’t understand their language either, so, it they were safe either way. But still, William could somehow feel the intensity from their talk. It was an unusual conversation—one that would probably get you killed if ever caught listening, he swallowed.  On the screen of his brand-new Surface Pro 6, he could see the two men’s reflection. Business men, presumably, from the way they were dressed. One wearing a tailored suit and the other, well… Business attired in his own unique way, for he’d worn the brightest colors a man could wear for the winter. Tt was obvious that he wasn’t a local. Not a fraction of him was. But for a city, this wasn’t all that suspicious to William. It was just the conversation alone.

It was the perfect time to test out his new code.

“Sariah translate the conversation from the men behind me,” he whispered to his computer.

Williams screen then flickered from bright to all black, and white lettering tackled across it, as if a screenplay were being written.

IT SAID:

“Yeah. I heard that they were going to get five-hundred mill for getting the job done. I mean, come on Frank, we can do that job in our sleep. That’s our money. We just gotta let the boss in on it,” said the man with the bright colored suit.

The man in the tailored suit then smiled and rubbed is well-groomed beard. He took a sip of his coffee and leaned forward.

“Alright,” he said. “But we can’t tell the boss man. Out of the question. You know he’ll never let us do this mission. He’ll just send out his butt-boys Tom and Hank instead.”

“Right!”

“But… Are you sure this is a good idea?” said the man in the tailored suit, concerned. “I mean… You know this could mean the end of the country?”

“Yeah, but what does it matter to us? We got nothing to lose. Plus, by the time that happens we’ll be somewhere on the opposite side of the planet, sipping on mojitos, eating sushi off of a naked woman. Live a little! Don’t you bitch out on me now Frank. Don’t you do it”

“Okay, okay… When do we start?”

“Tonight. By the pier, on West pine and grove. At least that’s what the little birdie told me.”

“Right mate… well lets just make sure your little birdie is valid. Anymore screw ups and you know boss will have our heads for this.”

The two men then got up and walked away from the table. William was left in awe. He couldn’t believe what he’d just heard, no, read. Should I call the cops? Said the voice in his head.

“No, this is the chance for me to show the world what Sariah can do,” he said.

William closed his laptop and threw his empty cup of coffee in the recycle bin. The doors opened. He was now amongst the horde of people that paraded the streets. He needed to hurry back home right away. And as smart as he was, thankfully, he’d installed Sariah in his watch. He pulled it up to his face.

“Sariah. Red light, green light, one, two, three,” he said.

Successfully the crosswalk would turn green, but unfortunately it wouldn’t be the only light to turn green. There was now a car pileup. Horns honked and smoke spewed from indented bumpers.

“Ahh Shit!” yelled a man. “I’m hurt..”

William recognized him. It was the same tailored suit individual he’d heard plotting what he felt would be the end of the word, more so, a terrorist attack. Out of the car came the brightly colored suited man as well. He had a nervous look in his eye. So, he took off down the street and had gone through a vacant alley way with graffiti along the walls by god knows how many gangs. The tailored suited man followed.

Urgent for time, William followed the men. There was no time to go back home. He went down the alley way. There was an old man in a sleeping bag to the left of him. Little did William know that he was awake. As William had passed him, out of nowhere, the old man yelled at the top of his lungs.

“Ahhhhhh! Who let the duck shit in my shoes,” he yelled.

William jumped a little. And picked up his pace. He was halfway through the alley way now, but before making it to the end bumped into a woman, that looked to be in her early thirties. She wore a short skirt, heels that gave her more girth around the hips. Her lips wore cherry read and her eyes gorgeous with eye lashes surrounding them that were as big as a camel’s.

“What ya looking at?” said the woman, wiping herself off with the baby wipes from her mid-sized purse.

William said nothing.

“Oh, a shy one aye…” said the woman. “Well… for you sweetie, I’ll only charge ya seventy-five if you don’t cry in the middle of it like the last chump. Ya know, some of you men are build to be so damn sensitive nowadays. What happen to the Leonidas’s of the world? huh…”

William chuckled. “I’m sorry maybe… Another time…” he said.

“Pussy,” said the woman.

“Okay… Anyways, did you by chance see a man in a loud suit and one in a tailored?”

“Yeah! It’s the same crybaby I was just talking to you about. The banana suited one. Such a shame… To be a thug, he sure is in the wrong line of work. But if you must know, the pussy went that way, with his little friend” pointed the woman.

To the right of the corner was a purple door. William had never seen anything like it. It was like something out of Alice in wonderland. He turned back to the woman to ask her one more question, but she had vanished.

“Sariah. What’s behind the door?” asked William.

“Your destiny,” she said.

Williams mind then wondered around the question, but still, he couldn’t grasp what the code had meant by it.

“W-what do you mean Sariah? Give me more details.”

“I unfortunately cannot tell you that, for the future is nothing to play with. Be careful what you seek or what is sought will seek you. Be careful what you desire for the desire will require something out of you that you will seize to fail.”

“Okay… but tell me, will I die if I go through that door? I don’t understand.”

There was silence. For once the code didn’t answer. Nevertheless, William had thought about all that he’d done to get to that very moment. To show the world that a middle-aged coder could still accomplish his childhood dreams. It was destiny, he convinced himself. Anxiety ran through his spine. He was excited and nervous all in one.

Without any further thoughts, William had walked through the purple door.

 

 

 

Marrows of Bone

February 24th, 2019 by Patrick Starks MARROWS OF BONE MAIN

It was the spring of April when it all happened. It was a nice and sunny day as expected, and out of all the years they’d been on a losing streak, the Bone Marrows, for once, were headed to the finals. We’d have homecourt advantage, playing in our hometown, Plummet city. The referees would be on our side, we hoped. But in all honesty, we were playing against a team that everyone in the country and internationally hated, the Dundee’s. And the Dundee’s went to every final and won every game, which not even the owner himself of the team could explain. And so, he says. But either way, we all knew, for the most part, the referees always had something to do with it one way or another.

By the time me and my wife, Rose, arrived, the whole crowd sounded like they were already on their feet, rumbling the inside and the outside of the stadium like an earthquake. It was electrifying. We’d never seen the city so excited for anything in our whole lives, although, it was going to be one of our first championships if we won.

When we entered, the place was completely jam-packed, lines so massive that they curved all around the stadium. I guess everyone had decided to skip breakfast too, I rolled my eyes. Eager to get settled in, me and Rose decided to skip the food stands and find our seats—section one hundred and fourteen, seat eight. But once we sat down our stomachs growled, and Rose would give me an I told you glare. She had tried to tell me earlier that morning that we should’ve made breakfast or stopped to get something to eat on the way. But I hated being late and I hated dealing with the city traffic, so, we hopped into our two thousand and five Tahoe, and headed straight to the game instead. Little did I know, that everyone else would be thinking the same. Parking took at least half an hour to find, but I guess the good thing was that we had already bought our tickets a month in advance. So, there really wasn’t any rush.

The smell of chili dogs lingered in the air.

“Aha, there he is!” pointed Rose.

Rose always did have a keen sense of smell. It was Bone Marrow’s faithful mascot, Marrowgton. He had a gigantic golden beak, brown fur, one brown eye with a pirate patch covering the other, flailing wings that stretched out no further than what any human could do with their own arms. But to be honest, that’s exactly what was under the suit. Nevertheless, you just weren’t a fan of baseball if you didn’t have one of Westlake Stadium’s chilidogs in your hand. I’d bought us two-foot-long chili dogs, with everything on it. And to compliment them, two sodas, one cherry coke, and one sprite.

Roars of the crowd never faded. It kept its tempo. The pitcher was pitching his best. Strike after strike and the Bone Marrows would be back up to bat again. By the way things were looking, the game would be over faster than how long it took us to find a park, I thought. Chaz Sumo was the best damn pitcher the Bone Marrows had ever brought onboard. One of the best I’d ever seen. Better than Rondel Hasselman, who I honestly have to say played a big part in our losing streak throughout the years. But thankfully to Chaz, we were redeeming ourselves.

My hunger had been satisfied. The chilidog had gone down well. And like a baby, Rose would take a napkin and adorably wipe way what remained around my beard. Not a moment later, my stomach would growl again but this time in a different way. I’d take a few sips of sprite, hoping that it would calm it a little, but it seemed it only made matters worse.

“Hey hun, I’m gonna run to the bathroom really quick,” I said. “You want anything when I come back?”

Rose looked at me hysterically.

“Only you Tyson… But yeah, grab me something sweet but not candy. Like food, okay?” she said, giving me a peck on the cheek.

I then made my way up the stands and through the entrance way. I could tell I was getting a little out of shape because when I’d reached the hallway’s I felt relieved to just be walking on a flat surface again. It was like having a cold glass of water after being stranded in the desert for a day.

Above a big sign in front of me said “Men’s” but below was a line of twenty, if not more, to go in.

“Damn chili dogs,” said a man, making his way out of the bathroom.

After ten minutes of constipatingly waiting, eventually, I’d enter the bathroom. It was ridiculously dirty, graffiti all over the walls, and smelled like something had died long ago in it. Three times the toilet flushed and out came a man about the same height as me. He had sharp eye’s, like a snake. Muscular, athletic, and wore more clothing than what he needed for how warm it was out—about eighty-two degrees that day. We locked eyes only for a moment, awkwardly mimicking each other’s movements as we tried to move out of each other’s way. Just before exiting, a rectangularly shaped item fell from the man’s coat. It looked like a remote of some sort. But before I could really verify what it was, he picked it back up, fast, and placed it where it had fallen out. Suspiciously, the man smiled back at me with a sharp grin, bearing teeth that looked as if they’d seen many years of coffee. Still, I smiled back, involuntarily.

I went into the stall and proceeded with handling my business. There was barely any toilet paper and to make matters worse there were no seat covers, which meant I only had two options. A, take the remaining toilet paper that I had and put it around the seat, at risk of not being able to wipe my own ass. Or B, not use the toilet paper for the seat and sit on it bare cheek, at risk of catching something. But I’ll never tell a soul which one that I chose, not even Rose, who I trusted to keep a secret more than anyone.

In the stall, all kinds of things ran through my mind. What could Rose possibly want besides candy that was sweet? What was the item that fell from the man’s pocket? And what kind of chili dog did Marrowngton give me, more so, everyone that had been in the bathroom that day?  For some odd reason, things just didn’t feel right, excluding everyone’s constipation, of course.

It had been about fifteen minutes before I finished. Again, I won’t say what I did afterward, but I will say that I did wash my hands. That’s at least more than what I can say for the rest of the men that exited the bathroom.

I was back in the hallway now, and the lines to the food stands were a lot short than when we first appeared. I could’ve chosen any one of them to go to—pizza, popcorn, ice cream, burgers, and the worst of them all, hot dogs, which probably should have been shut down by the lynch mob that surrounded it.

For whatever reason, I decided to go with chocolate popcorn. It just sounded good at the time and it wasn’t candy, so, it had to be the right choice.

My phone pinged.  It was Rose, and she was growing a little un-patient for how long it was taking me. Must’ve been close to half an hour since I’d been gone. As a man, I should’ve known better than to make a woman wait.

Haste for time, I told the couple in front of me that I’d give them ten bucks each if they let me cut in front of them. At first, they were a little unsure, but seeing how ten bucks each would easily pay for their popcorn and more, they agreed.

The popcorn smelt sweet and buttery all in one and tasted like it too. I just couldn’t help but take a few bites on the way back.

“About time,” said Rose. “I thought you might have fainted or something.”

I gave Rose a kiss on the forehead.

“Almost. For you,” I joked.

“Oh, shut up,” she laughed punching me in the chest. “Give me what I asked for you goof.”

We continued to watch the game. It was forty-one to twelve. Finally, someone was going to give the Dundee’s a taste of their own medicine. And it was hysterically pleasing to see Bootmaker kick over the water bucket out of frustration in the dugout. All the Bone Marrow fans laughed.

The lights in the stadium then began to flicker, and not long after they’d shut off completely. As the day was getting darker, there was no way they could continue the game. One of the referees had come out with a microphone in his hand, explaining what would be done next.

“Oh, come on! Suspension my ass!” yelled a Bone Marrow fan from behind.

Everyone then began throwing empty cups of soda and half-eaten chili dogs onto the field out of frustration. Even Rose, who couldn’t finish hers.

“Your chili dogs sucked anyways!” yelled another, to our right.

All of us were then told to exit our way to the hallways until things got fixed. It was the last thing that was needed for a claustrophobic guy like me, but Rose wrapped herself around my arm tightly for comfort.

“Hey Tyson, could you hold onto my things? I’m gonna go to the ladies’ room really fast. Are you going to be okay?”

Everyone was shoulder to shoulder. Back to back. It was humid. I was beginning to sweat profusely. How in the hell would we get out if something…?

“Tyson… Baby…” said Rose. “You okay. I can stay…”

“Y-yeah. Of course, I’ll be fine hun. Go ahead, I’ll be right here when you come back,” I said

Rose vanished into the crowd, and it had then dawned on me that the chili dogs must have finally gotten to her as well. She only ate half of hers, but surely it had to have an affect on her. Oh, Rose… Only you, I wanted to tell her, but it was too late for the comeback now.

I waited around as patiently as I could, but I needed to find a spot that wasn’t as crowded. It was just too much for me to handle. About a foot, away from me was a room. From the sign that was bolted to it, it was obvious that it was for employee’s only but screw it, some rules were meant to be broken.

The crowd wasn’t budging. I’d asked politely if I could get by, however, some just weren’t trying to help a brother out. But somehow, I’d made my way to the door. When I entered, there was not an employee in sight. I even had to turn the lights on, shockingly. Get it. Yeah, moving on.

My stomach still ached. I needed to find something to calm it and I knew Rose would also need the same later. So, I went through the employee staff refrigerator but found nothing but an old half-eaten birthday cake that looked like it had been there for two weeks. I closed the refrigerator back and continue to look around more. Hanging on the wall next to the front door was a first aid kit. I opened it and what do you know, Pepto Bismol—just what everyone needed who’d been victims of the chili dogs that day. I took a few sips and already could feel myself coming back to normal again.

To the right of me, voices became louder as they approached. Maybe the employees, I presumed. Needing to hide, I shot straight for the closet across the room. I was expecting there to be a lot of coats within it but most of the stuff that I stood immersed in was just junk—broken vacuum, a broken broom, dirty towels, worn out boots, and strangely, a guitar with broken strings. But I had still had visual, and from what I was seeing through the crack of the door were two employees that entered the room.

“Shit man I’m hurt… No one told me messing with the fuse box would be so dangerous… Had I not pulled away in time, I’d probably still be down there, barbequed,” said a man.

“Shut up man before someone hears you,” whispered the other. “I told you, just stick to the plan. You heard what the boss said. We need to hold everyone in the hallway. They’re paying us too much dammit, and I don’t know about you but I’m looking to get the fuck out of Plummet city and maybe go to Canada or something. The Dundee’s must win the finals tonight.”

“Wow. You still bitter about the city not giving you your refund on taxes?”

“Shut up man. This city is a scam and you know it!”

“Yeah man, whatever you say, but… I really wasn’t expecting to put in overtime tonight. I’m supposed to be going on a date you know. I mean, Charles, you gotta see this woman. She’s an angel. I’m still surprised she’d even agree to go out with a guy like me, a janitor of all things, but she did.”

“Screw her man! Trust me, there will be plenty more like her when we get this job done. Now let’s go.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I never thought anyone could stoop so low, although, it all started to add up. The chili dogs and then the lights. It was all rigged. The Dundee’s were not only trying to kill the spirit of the fans but also cheat on the Bone Marrows. But how?

My phone began to ring. It was from Rose again. I did my best to silence it as fast I could, but the two men had already locked their eyes towards my direction.

“Hey, did you hear that?” said the man.

“Yeah. I think it was coming from the closet. Sounded like a phone. But it’s probably Shawna’s. You know how boss feels about having phones out on the job, and Shawna has always been notorious for her texting” said the other.

“Yeah but from the closet? I don’t think so. I’m gonna go check it out. Wait here.”

One of the men then begins walking towards the closet. He was short and stocky, with a crown for baldness. He wore a yellow vest and khakis.

“What are you two doing! I told you to keep the crowd together and you’re in here dicking around,” yelled a man, coming through the front door.

It was the guy from the bathroom. Sharp eyes, but minus the cynical grin. Which I’m not sure if I preferred more from the way that he looked now.

“They got the electricians here and the powers getting ready to come back on soon. I need everyone in their places!”

The man by the closet then stepped away and exited the room with the other two men. I’d gotten a text message from Rose.

“Smh. I told you we should’ve eaten before we got here. What the hell was in that chili dog! I’m gonna be a minute. You owe me, mister. Smh…” it said.

I laughed. Welcome to my world, I text back.

I exited the room and already the hallways were beginning to be cleared out. Everyone was headed back to their seats. As I waited for Rose, I pondered on who was behind what was going on, and how they planned to turn a game that was pretty much over, back into the Dundee’s hands. I was tempted to tell the security guards, however, was skeptical if they were apart of what was going on as well. No doubt about it, Rose was the only one I could trust, so, I waited for her. I just hope I don’t sound crazy when I explain it to her.

To be continued.