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.

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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.

 

Into the Heart

February 4th, 2019 by Patrick Starks 

INTO THE HEART MAIN

Every now and then, in the deepest parts of the woods, one could hear the wolves howl and growl to the rising of the moon. And on such nights like it was, not many people would have the courage to speak so much as a whisper, for just the tiniest bit of sound they felt would be found. But there hidden in a far away cabin stood a young woman who was not afraid of such superstitions, wherein the heart of it all she plucked the most beautiful of daisies a woman could ever lay her eyes upon.

The daisies were absolutely gorgeous. One of a kind. Some turquoise, some salmon, some turning purple on the days that it rain, ironically. And doing what she’d always done best, the young woman overtime would become one of the most sought-after florists of the town known as Wimborne.

Business for the young woman was as they say today, booming. And it was so good, in fact, it seemed that she was running low of inventory, which was bad news for what she had lined up on her calendar. Although the night was much colder than usual, still, the young woman through on her rose-colored winter coat and headed out for the night. She took her usual route. Safely through the thorn bushes and past the two oak trees, that of which she’d named, Brother and Sister. But it wasn’t over yet. Once past the oak trees, the young woman would then have to make her way through misty parts of the woods that not many dared to travel. Snakes, quicksand, giant centipedes, and more, all that would be too invisible to see on the floor.

It was said that before a group of lumberjacks had come through, told that in the heart of the woods they would find dry wood that could not be burned. Firewood, they literally called it, however, not the kind most were familiar with. This wood didn’t snap, it didn’t break, and you surely couldn’t cut it—better than metal, the legends tell. But only a week  later, officers of Wimborne would find that the men had either been killed or taken captive. They weren’t sure what they were looking at really, but the Sheriff felt it be for the worst.

“There’s just no way Bob would leave his favorite hat behind like this. There’s just no way…” he said, puzzled and disturbed all in one.

Nevertheless, the young woman closed her eyes. Three steps to the left, two steps back, one hop to the left, and then sprint straight ahead until the count of ten, she told herself. And for the first three steps she took, snakes would then hiss and snip at her feet within seconds, but none did she ever budge from. She remained calm and collected, eagerly moving by each snake one by one. Two steps back and now she would nearly be in the quicksand, for she could feel the sole of her right foot sink a little. She pulled away, and slowly as she knew, escaping what presumably would have been a tragedy for both her and her business. Trying her best to not delay any further, without hesitation the young woman then hopped as hard as she could to her left. There was a squishing sound, with a slight crunch to it. And not long after the young woman would feel something crawl up and around her ankles.

“Eww… I knew I should have just worn pants today. But nooo you always gotta be so fashionable miss congeniality,” she said, shaking off what was believed to be a centipede off of her leg.

Last, was the sprint. She took a deep breath, and before she’d realized it, she was already on the count of six.

“Almost there,” she whispered. “Just a few more strides.”

From her left and to her right shadows followed—the wolves. But just a couple of more feet in front of her there would lie a path that held a light of crimson. She kicked into sixth gear and the wolves would do the same, and just before entering into the light a wolf would get somewhat of a souvenir by the end of it all—a shoe that at one point nearly got lost in quicksand. The young woman was now safe, however, outside the wolves waited. But as courageous as she was, it was the last thing that was on her mind.

“Finally, I’m here,” she said. “The heart. I need to hurry.”

On the outside, it was sere chaos, yes, but on the inside, heavenly. Everything glowed, like reefs at the bottom of the sea. And in the middle of it all lied the daisies—gigantic and just as gorgeous as they’d always been. The young woman plucked as many as she could take with her, about a twenty dozen, to be exact. But as she walked away the ground rumbled. And from behind she could feel death on the back of her neck.

“Hissssss… Who do you thhhhink you arrrrree?” asked a voice.

All thoughts ran through the young woman’s head. To make a run for it or slowly turn around.

“Hissss… I asssssked you a quessstion girllll. Who do you thhhhhink you arrrree?”

Cautiously, the young woman turned around. Golden eyes pierced through her soul now, and the further she stepped back the closer they would come.

“Your… You’re a snake… And you can talk…” pointed the young woman, face as blue as the berries she carried.

“Yesssssss. And I am the guardian of the heart,” hissed the snake. “It issssss forbidden to take from the heart, girl. Who do you think you arrrrree?”

“I’m… Just a woman. A woman trying to survive, and I need the…”

“Hissssss! Then if you wanted to survive you sure did come to the wrong placccceeee my dear,” said the snake, coiling around the young woman. “I should ssssssnap you like a twig right now and feed you to the wolves.”

The young woman swallowed and then replied. “No! Please… I’ll give you anything you want.”

“Hisssss! Anything you say?”

“Yes. A-anything?”

The snake then uncoiled itself from the young woman. It flicked its tongue back in forward excessively. And made no hesitation to request what it wanted.

“Bring to me a bride,” said the snake. “One with your olive ssssssskin, but ssssssssofter looking.”

“I beg your pardon, but…”

“Hissssss!”

“Sorry… go on…”

“Bring me a bride with brown hair and eyesssssss that are sssssweet like honey. But… mosssssst importantly, this bride must have a heart that is pure.”

The young woman thought long and hard. There was only one woman that she knew of with such a heart and that woman would be getting married in three days.

“O-okay…” said the young woman. “I’ll get her. I know just the woman. But if I do this, will I be able to continue to return here?”

The snake coiled itself around the young woman again. And this time she could feel a little tightness around her waist.

“Hisssss! Yessss. You may continue to pluck afterwardsssssss. But if you fail. Then I will take you as my bride. You have twenty-four hours. Until the next rising of the moon. Tick Tock.”

The snake then uncoiled itself once more, and the young woman made her way out of the light, legs wobbling to sere fear. The wolves, of course, waited outside for her, but none made a move. They all stepped back into the shadows, and the black wolf that had taken her shoe would leave it by her side before she returned. It was completely destroyed now, but again, it was the least of worries.

Once she’d returned home, the young woman paced back and forward in her living room. It all felt wrong. To take a client and trick them into a scheme they didn’t sign up for—an innocent woman of all. But she’d also think about what it would be like being with the snake forever. How her business would plummet and how all would forget about her. She picked up the phone and dialed.

“Hello… Mrs. Chesley?” she asked.

“Yes, this is she…”

“Hi, this is Leonora. I had a question to ask you?”

“Oh my god! Yes! Leonora! How’s it going with the daisies? Did you find more?” asked Mrs. Chesley.

Leonora, the young woman, paused for a bit. She really did feel bad about the whole situation. In her mind, she wanted to tell her the truth. That there was a gigantic snake in the middle of the woods looking to take her captive as her bride. But who would believe such a story, she thought. She began to reminisce, gazing out the window of the living room, thinking about the beautiful home she’d taken so long to build. And not a second longer from behind the trees around her cabin, the wolves appeared. They had a slight twinkle in their eyes, lips curled, and teeth expelling past them like a shark. It was a warning, Leonora thought to herself.

“Hello… Hello? Leonora are you still there?” asked Mrs. Chesley.

“Yes… S-sorry I’m still here. I was going to ask, are you at all available today?” asked Leonora. “You see, I found your daisy’s but I’d like to have your perspective on it.”

“Yes! Of course! Absolutely! Lucas and I will be down there in twenty minutes.”

“No!”

“I’m sorry…”

“I mean. No, there’s no need for Lucas to come. It’s kind of a gal trip if catch my drift…”

“S-sure. I totally understand… I guess I’ll see you in a bit then.”

“Agreed. See you soon.”

Leonora then hung up the phone. Her eyes had never left the wolves and theirs had never left hers. But now they had reverted back to the woods, to tell the snake the good news.

About half an hour later Mrs. Chesley would arrive. As usual, she smelt of cinnamon, her eyes were honey-colored, although, her skin looked a little rougher than normal, and it even seemed that she hadn’t shaved either in quite some time.  Her hair this time was not straight but curly enough that it bounced everywhere.  It wasn’t exactly what the snake wanted, however, it was close enough. All that matter was that there needed to be a bride.

“Ah, Leonora, its so good to see you again,” said Mrs. Chesley, kissing both sides of Leonora’s face. “Shall we get going.”

Her face was rougher than normal. And her voice had sounded like she was either sick or had been yelling at a Superbowl game all day long. Nevertheless, Leonora paid it no mind.

“Of course. Let’s do it,” smiled Leonora, hesitantly, uncertain.

Again, Leonora took her usual route through the thorn bushes and past the two oak trees known as brother and sister. Although, this time there was no need for her somewhat routine of hopscotch. There was now a clear path to the light.

“How beautiful,” smiled Mrs. Chesley.

Leonora swallowed. And for the first time ever began sweating a little, and to add, she just wasn’t much of a sweater, to begin with, plus, it was cold. Get it. Moving on.

Once again Leonora entered into the crimson light, but this time she had company.

“Hisss! My bride, you brought me, my beautiful bride,” said the snake, slithering down from an oak tree.

Any other woman would run for her life, yet, Mrs. Chesley just stood there. Not a muscle moved. The snake coiled around the two women and began to thoroughly examine his bride to be.

“Umm… You smell sweet like cinnamon,” said the snake. “But your skin is a little rough.”

Leonora stared over to her right in awe. She couldn’t believe how courageous Mrs. Chesley was being. It was as if she knew what was coming all along.

“Your hair is too curly. And your arms….” Paused the snake “Hissss! What issssss thisss!”

First was her hair that came off. Then it was her dress, and underneath it, nothing but armor and sword.

“This my friend is the end of you,” said a man. “Did you really think I was just going to stand around and let you take my wife from me.”

“L-Lucas?” questioned Leonora.

She then took a few steps back realizing that things were about to get nasty, but the snake coiled around her faster than what she thought it could move.

“Hisss! You’re not going anywhere!” yelled the snake. “You set me up!”

“No! I swear I didn’t know!”

The man without hesitation took his first slash at the snake. He made contact, and for the first time in its life, the snake could feel pain. It uncoiled itself from the woman and then whipped its tail at the man knocking him ten feet out. And before the man realized it the snake would be coiled around him in a matter of seconds.

Bone by bone crushed, as the armor the man wore was not enough. He yelled in agony.

“Hiss! Who do you thhhhink you arrrrrre?” asked the snake, flicking his tongue against the mans face.

“Your slayer!” the man spat, more bones crushing throughout him.

“Stop!” yelled Leonora. “Let him go! I failed, so, take me as your bride then.”

The snake paused once more. He’d already given Leonora a chance, and trusting her was now debatable due to the circumstances.

“I’ll cook for you every night. I’ll peel the dead skin from your back. I’ll smell like cinnamon for you no matter how rough the terrain. Snake, I’ll be your bride to be.”

The snake then uncoiled itself from the man, and the man could now feel air passing through his lungs. In the form of multiple S’s horizontally side by side, the snake made its way over to Leonora eagerly to find out what else she would protest. The snake again coiled around her but this time more gently for she was bound to be its bride after all.

“To finalizzzzzze the agreement all I require now is a kisssssss,” said the snake.

It perched its lips, and Leonora hesitantly would do the same. As the two gradually made way for a connection, Leonora could feel that the snake’s grip had loosened. She opened one of her eyes, and all the dots in front of her would connect. The snakes head was now by her side. And the man was down on one knee still trying to recover from the attack he’d dealt prior.

“Did my wife ever tell you?” asked the man.

Leonora swallowed as she’d always done but this time struggled.

“No… What is that, Lucas?”

The man smiled. “Well, you see I run a big lumberjack company here in Wimborne. And this snake you just tried to sell my wife to had taken some of my best men, but luckily one made it out alive to tell me the story. At first, I didn’t believe him, but then I started hearing about these tales of the snake that longed for a bride that lived somewhere in the heart of the woods. And that’s where that leads me to you.”

All a sudden she could feel the chills go up her spine. Leonora was at a lost for words.

“My wife told me all about you. How you’re the only person to enter into the heart and come out alive. I figured since you were so accustomed to it that maybe you and the snake were friends of the sort.”

“No, it isn’t like…

“Shut up! I ain’t finished yet. Like I said, I figured you two were friends, and seeing how my wife is the beauty she is, I knew any day now you would try to send her that way. So, I dolled myself, put myself in a silly little dress and waited for the slithering bastard to come out before I revealed myself.”

Step by step the man made his way over to Leonora, holding his shiny yet bloody sword over his shoulder. He had a cynical smile, showing teeth that were aggressively positioned. There was nothing else that needed to be said.

“All of this for your business hmmm… all of this!” said the man. “Shame you have to die right here. I’m gonna end all of this crap. And then I’m gonna get married.”

He prepared his sword. But just before he swung, teeth more aggressive than his own would appear. It was the black wolf followed by his pack. They all stood in front of Leonora,

“Get back. Get back, I said!” yelled the man, as each wolf took a bite at his armor. “This isn’t over. I promise you this isn’t over.”

The man retreated, leaving with little pride he had for slaying the snake of the heart. Leonora, on the other hand, is still anonymous to all. As the months went on many men, searched up, down and all around the woods, but still, never found Leonora. Not a sign, not a trace. It is said that she was eaten by the wolves afterward. But is also said that she still plucks her daisy’s on the rising of the moon and has been adopted as the mother of wolves, the with of the heart, they call her. And still to this day none dare to enter into the heart.