I never understood why the other kids thought Harvey was creepy. “It’s the teeth,” they all said. But what’s creepy about having teeth? I had teeth; these other kids had teeth; you most likely have teeth. Teeth are not creepy; they’re normal. What’s creepy is all those stuffed animals out there without teeth.
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
The first time I saw one of Them was at a train station on a Saturday morning. I was going into London to visit the shops, and I presumed it was a new art installation. The council had warned there would be more statuary in our town future, so it made sense that this blocky metallic man would be related.
When I disembarked the train, I saw another of Them. “Must be an advertising campaign,” I thought.
The third one of Them was standing on the tube platform. The fourth was near the exit. By the fifth one of Them, found just outside a sandwich shop, I was starting to get nervous. Everyone else was ignoring them, but when I touched one, it was most certainly there. Maybe everyone else knew what they were about?
“Excuse me?” I said to the next person to pass. “Do you know what this is?”
“It’s a sandwich shop.” He didn’t even slow down as he passed the sixth one of Them.
At this point, my blood was icy cold and my skin had erupted in gooseflesh.
I stared as the man who had just passed came to a stop and transformed into the seventh one of Them. What was happening?
“You!” said a man with bushy brown hair and a ridiculously long scarf. “You see them!”
As he was pointing at one of Them, he must have as well.
The man’s blue eyes widen. “And you haven't transformed?"
"That must mean something!" He proclaimed as he reached out to take my arm. "Come with me!”
And that is how I met the Doctor.
Monday, October 17, 2016
When I was five, my cousin got a new playhouse. You know, one of those little prefab structures to sit in the yard and let her imagine a future of domestic servitude? My parents were worried because they couldn’t afford to buy me one and thought I might be jealous.
I laughed when my mother broached the subject of my theoretical envy. “I have a house, Mom. I don’t need a smaller one.”
She smiled at me and turned to her mother. “See, she’s fine.”
Grandma gave me a long look. “So, you really don’t want a playhouse of your very own? Not even for your birthday?”
I snorted, rude in the way that only the very young can get away with. “No. I want a spaceship.”
“A spaceship?” she replied slowly.
“Yep!” My neck nearly snapped with the enthusiasm of my nod. “I want to travel to other planets and meet aliens!”
I never got my spaceship, but it’s all I can think of as I look into the yard of the house we’re checking out. “Honey,” I tell my husband. “A spaceship!”
“That’s cool,” he says. But he doesn’t run up to it with me, and doesn’t act like we should buy this property without even walking inside the house.
“I’ve always wanted a spaceship!”
His lips curl up. “Then you shall have a spaceship. But, I’m not sure this is the one.”
“Are you kidding?” I run my hand over the side of the glorious thing. Although it looks like metal, the outside is actually some form of plastic. This means there’s no rot or rust, so even though it obviously hasn’t been maintained, it’s not falling apart or dangerous. It just needs a good cleaning. And maybe an exterminator. “It’s perfect.”
Carlton looks at our realtor as I stick my head inside the saucer. “Do you think they’d sell just the spaceship?”
She laughs. “We can ask. I know they were planning on leaving it.”
A light blinks on a panel across from the door. “Oh!” I say. “It still works!”
“Works?” Carlton asks. “What do you mean?”
I’m busy climbing into the spaceship, but I answer over my shoulder, “There are electronics in here.”
“I don’t know that they’re safe,” he answers. “Something this old, and outdoors… Be careful.”
I love the man, but sometimes he really isn’t much fun.
My phone illuminates the interior of the ship. It’s small, but oddly comfortable. Cozy even. I can easily see myself putting some floor pillows in here and spending the day reading classic sci-fi. The panel with the blinking light on it is smooth save for the bulb and something in the shape of a hand.
I smile to myself as I place my palm on the panel.
I stop smiling as the entire room brightens and swirling noises fill the air. The spaceship hums to life, and the doorway slides closed.
Through the portals, I can see Carlton yelling, but his voice doesn’t make it through the hull.
As the ship rises into the air, I realize I’m finally getting my interplanetary adventure. And I think I still want it.
The first thing I think of when I see the bright light is the song “Mr. Spaceman” by the Byrds. “Hey, Mr. Spaceman, won’t you please take me along? I won’t do anything wrong. Please, Mr. Spaceman, won’t you please take me along for a ride?”
The second thing I think is, “Run!”
These thoughts hit each other head on to cause me to stand staring at the approaching luminescence.
Approaching luminescence… Whatever it is is getting closer, coming toward me through the dark forest. It shouldn’t be able to make a straight line, not with all the trees in the way. I dart to the side, but the light turns to stay directly in front of me. That’s probably not good.
“Don’t run,” says a voice that sounds like it’s being projected from a million surround-sound speakers. “Stay. Please.”
The voice is both terrifying and serenely comforting.
I force myself to speak. “Who are you? What do you want?”
“I love you,” the voice replies. For some reason, the answer doesn’t frighten me.
“Who are you?” I ask again. The light has continued to grow closer and is now filling the entire clearing with blinding radiance.
“I am Iyrin, a watcher.”
A watcher? A watcher who glows with the force of a star. “An angel?”
“Some call me that.”
“Can I see you?”
The light dims until all I see is darkness. As my eyes adjust to this, a shape begins to form before me. It’s tall and human-shaped, save for the wings. I can’t tell what gender the being is, but it is the most breathtakingly beautiful individual I have ever beheld.
The being - the angel - draws near. Near enough that despite the dark, I can suddenly see his- her?- eyes. They’s a pale yellow, like buttercups, and are filled with adoration.
She - he? - reaches out and embraces me. And the world becomes nothing but light.
Sunday, October 16, 2016
“No,” I state, firm in my conviction.
“You’re the one who picked dare.” Connie folds her arms and gives me a look that clearly communicates there’s no backing out of truth-or-dare. “And the dare is, go swimming in the abandoned bunker.”
“But I didn’t know it was this gross!” I wave my hand over the murky expanse, which is lit only by Trina’s cell phone. It also smells like… I don’t even know what. But it smells awful. “I want another dare!”
“Nope,” says Trina, her voice holding laughter. “Although if you want to tell us who you were making out with in the library, we’ll let you switch to truth.”
I can’t do that though. The things in the water could quite possibly kill me, but nowhere near as quickly as Connie and Trina would if they found out I’d been with a vampire. They wouldn’t call me a fanger slut, but they would make it very, very clear that I’m not to be involved with anyone who considers me food. And there’s no way they’d buy that Alec is different, that he doesn’t view me as nutrition; they’d say I’m deluded.
“Fine,” I grumble. At least they let me change into my swimsuit, so I’m not having to do this naked. I draw a breath and run into the water with a squeal. I stop with it hitting my knees. The water isn’t actually that deep, just slimy.
“Swim!” Connie calls out. “You can’t just stand there, that’s cheating!”
I sink down to my knees, bringing the water up to my waist, and I start to gag. I can’t do this.
Feeling sick, I rise to my feet and trudge back to my friends. Time to face the truth...
Friday, October 14, 2016
Back home, people know who I am. They respect, maybe even fear me. But I'm in a new city now, and the man who just approached me late at night has no clue what he's up against.
It's always amusing, that moment when they start doubting their sanity. Even more entertaining is the instant when that disbelief turns to terror. I look forward to it as I size the man up, certain he's going to provoke me.
Yes, I could just turn into a tree and repel unwanted attentions that way, but where's the fun in that? My dryad father gave me the ability to sprout bark, but thanks to my human mother, I'm not immobilized by the transformation.
The man approaching me sees only a young woman, about twenty years old and a hundred twenty pounds. “You don't have to be scared, baby girl.”
I smile, confident that despite his creepy leer, he's no threat. He stinks of alcohol, and his eyes have the unfocused quality you see in people who are high. Like I said, no threat at all.
If he just wants to flirt, I'll let him go. But he responds to me saying I'm in a rush by blocking my way and creeping closer. Close enough I get a good view of his teeth. He needs to visit the dentist more often.
“You don't want to talk?” he asks. “We don't have to talk.”
“I don't want to do anything with you,” I say, just to be clear.
At this point, he still has a chance to back off and survive our encounter. But he elects to reach out and grab my arm. Bad choice.
I transform my arm, making him drop it in surprise. I grin as I feel my hair turn to branches, knowing my eyes have started to glow with magic.
The man curses. “I'm sorry! I didn't mean anything! I was just being friendly!”
He back peddles as I laugh.
His eyes widen in shock as I place my hands on the sidewalk and send roots to grab his feet.
“I'm sorry!” he says again.
Thursday, October 13, 2016
He’s thawing. He’ll be gone soon.
I rush up to the window and look out at my friend. He smiles sadly back at me and raises a hand to the glass.
My palm chills when I place it over his.
I want to go outside, but not everyone out there is as magnanimous as my friend. And some of the creatures, they get desperate when the air starts to warm.
Beads of water trickle down both of our faces. Mine are tears. His might be. Or he could be melting that fast.
He meets my eyes and blows a little kiss. And then he turns and glides away, fading quickly into the melting snow.
He’ll be back next year. But it still hurts to see him go.
I’m not sure what I expected entertainment to consist of at a nude feminist retreat, but a female-led Aerosmith cover band wasn’t it. As the lead singer bellows out a very Steven-Tyler-esque wail, I reflect that they’re actually pretty good. I was just expecting something more along the lines of the Indigo Girls.
“Jackie!” my friend Trish yells in my ear. “I’m going to get more beer. Do you want some?”
I shake my head and hold up my clear, plastic cup. It’s still about three quarters of the way full. I can never keep up with Trish, so I don’t even try anymore. Don’t try to watch her as she walks away either; the nudity here is not the sort you’re supposed to gawk at. Instead I watch the woman on stage.
She’s pale and freckled, as though maybe she would be a redhead if she didn’t shave absolutely every hair off her body. Or maybe she has some sort of condition that leads to hairlessness…
“Love in an Elevator” comes to a close and there are scattered calls from the audience. There’s a few hundred people here, which is more than I anticipated.
“Jackie?” I barely hear the voice saying my name under the sound of applause and the opening chords of “Janie’s Got a Gun.” Even without turning, I know who said it. I will never forget her voice.
Swallowing hard, I turn my head and try to smile a smile that tells the world my heart is doing just fine, thank you. “Hey, Di. Long time, no see.”
And last time I did see her, she was driving away from me, her Kia Sportage overloaded with the things she took from our house… Why did she come up to me now? I would never have known she was here if she hadn’t.
Her green eyes stare straight into mine, and I know she can see that my attitude is a big, fat lie. She knows I can’t look at her and not want to cry. But she stands there making me look at her anyway.
Someone I’ve never met hovers beside her, watching the band more than us. I can tell she’s not disinterested in what we’re saying though.
“This is Anna,” Di tells me, and the woman looks over with a faint smile. “My wife.”
If my first try at smiling failed, there’s no way this attempt succeeds.
“Nice to meet you,” I lie. “I gotta go get some more beer.”
On stage, the singer belts out, “Run away from the pain!” Seems like good advice to me.
Tuesday, October 11, 2016
Barb lurches up to me and my uncle, a strange moaning sound coming from her chest. This is not unusual; it’s how she normally walks. What’s unusual is that her neck has nothing atop it.
“Lost your head again?” Uncle Joe asks.
She moans in a way that could be interpreted to be affirmative. Then she waves her arms about and makes some signals with her hands.
“Well, let’s go!” says Uncle Joe.
“Go where?” I ask, perhaps dimly.
I squint, but turn to follow the pair as they creep to the door. I’m not alone; nearly everyone in the comes with me.
As we make our way through the living room, Spot barks at us from inside his crate. Even though I know he can’t get to me, I still shiver at the sound. Fighting the urge to run, I make myself walk slowly across the carpet until we get to the sliding door.
With practiced orchestration, we unlock and open the door to spill out onto the back deck. We fan out into the yard. The air smells as though it has rained recently, but the ground is dry enough that I’m not worried about mud as I trudge through the grass.
Barb’s body walks erratically past the swing set to a place behind the sandbox. Uncle Joe and I follow, although most of the others hang back closer to the house.
We find Barb’s head on a pile of leaves beneath the hedge, and Uncle Joe picks it up to place it on her neck for her.
She grins. It’s a little creepy, what with her being a zombie doll and all, but we’re used to it.
Today's prompt is from Jessica Amanda Salmonson on FaceBook
and was provided to me by Bliss Morgan as part of her Nightmare Fuel Project.
Monday, October 10, 2016
I look at the address again. “612 Cherry Tree Lane, Inferna, Hell.” It seems to have proper postage and the customs form looks like it’s in order. So the only problem is that Hell isn’t actually a place. At least not on Earth.
“What do I do with this?” I ask my supervisor.
Her heavily eyeshadowed eyes drop to the package for an instant. “Sort it.”
It takes work, but I manage to not to sigh. “Yes, of course. But sort it where?”
She looks at me like I’m the dimmest lightbulb in the display. “Take it to Interplanel Deliveries.”
I laugh. “Yeah, okay. So it’s undeliverable?”
“No,” she says, drawing the ‘o’ sound out. “It’s an interplanel delivery. They’re in the basement.”
This is the first time I’ve ever heard of our building having a basement, but Phoebe seems to be completely serious. When I don’t move, she points toward the fire exit.
Even though I’m suspicious this is a practical joke, I take the parcel in the indicated direction. There’s a sign on the door that I’ve never bothered to read before. “Use only in case of emergency or interplanel delivery.” Huh.
The door eases open with no alarms ringing. Behind it is the top landing of a narrow stairwell. There’s another door to the left, which I assume leads outside, but I take the stairs down. The stairwell, while utilitarian, is decisively lacking in spookiness or peculiarity. My skin doesn’t tingle as I descend. The air doesn’t get warmer. There’s no scent of sulfur, just a faint tint of mildew. All in all, it’s a perfectly normal stairwell.
The room it leads into looks like a dimly lit and unused basement, which I assume means I really am being pranked. Until I see the slots along the wall. “Valhalla,” says the closest one. A breeze comes from it, smelling vaguely of beer.
Still not completely sure this is real, I follow the slots past “Heaven,” which smells like vanilla; “Tir-na-nog,” which somehow smells like the color green; and “Hel,” which is scented like a snowy winter’s day and has a little note on it proclaiming, “Do not confuse with Hell.” I stop at the slot that reads “Hell” with two l’s. Now I get heat and sulfur.
Despite the air coming from the slot, behind it is not a chute, but a small platform. Not sure what else to do, I put the package on said platform.
At this point, I more than half expect the lights to get brighter and my coworkers to start laughing at me, but instead, the slot begins to glow a brilliant orange. There’s a puff of smoke, and some sounds in a strange, guttural language that I hope never to hear again.
The parcel is gone. The glowing dies.
I go upstairs as quickly as possible, sign out for an early lunch, and head to the nearest bar.
Sunday, October 9, 2016
My eyes squint at the narrow scrawl. Am I supposed to be able to read this? I’m not even certain it’s English. And the illustrations make no sense. As far as I can tell, they want me to do a yoga sequence while hitting the bong, but I’m pretty sure that’s not right. If that’s how you summoned angels, it would be common knowledge by now.
The kit came with a lot of little bottles. Most of them are filled with powders of assorted colors, but a few contain liquid, and one has something that looks like a miniature skeleton. The skeleton has wings. Maybe it’s supposed to host the angel?
I grab my tablet and do a quick Internet search for “Acme Angel Summoning Kit directions” but all I get are people complaining that theirs didn’t come with proper instructions. I click through a few of the forums discussing this, but no one seems to have figured out what to do.
Alright… I gather a big bowl set the skeleton in the middle of it. Then I pour the things in the vials on top of it, producing a thick muddy mess.
I Google “How to summon an angel” and learn some words that prominent Elizabethan Dr. John Dee swore would lead to a celestial audience. I utter them.
I shrug, load my bong, and take a hit. Then I do a few sun salutations followed by eagle pose, since eagles are the closest thing I can think of to angels that I know a pose for. As stand there with my limbs all twisted around each other, I say the words again.
The air shimmers and warms. And I whiff the unmistakable scent of sulfur.
Saturday, October 8, 2016
“You’ve lost your sand dragon?” the park ranger repeats.
“Lost. Your. Sand. Dragon.”
“Yes, sir.” Eager to be helpful, I hold up a picture on my phone. “This is him. His name is Scaley.”
The ranger looks at the photo and laughs. “Son, that’s a sand lizard.”
“No, sir.” I hate to contradict people, especially my elders, but the ranger is clearly confused. “Sand lizards are little things, less than twenty-five centimeters long. Scaley is like forty times bigger than that.” I check the math in my head. Yeah, I got it right.
“Uh-huh.” The ranger folds his arms. “Where are his wings?”
My face scrunches in confusion. Wings? “Sand dragons don’t have wings. You may be thinking of storm dragons?”
“Ah. I see. And why did you have this creature in the park?”
“He’s part of the family, sir!” I shrug. “Plus, we needed him to get here. It was too far to walk.”
“Of course. But you lost this huge wingless creature that brought you here?”
“Yes, sir.” Putting the phone into my pocket, I point at the ridge to the south of us. “We camped up there last night. Scaley was there when we went to sleep, but he slipped his harness and was gone when we woke up.”
“And did you have a permit to have this dragon in the park?” the ranger asks, sounding amused for some reason.
“No, sir. We searched the website and couldn’t find anything saying we needed a permit for him, just that we needed one for camping.”
“And do you have one of those?” His eyebrows rise with the question.
“Yes, but my dad has it. He’s looking over by the lake, although I don’t think Scaley would have gone there. He doesn’t like water much.”
“Right.” The ranger nods sharply. “Because he’s a sand dragon.”
“No, our old sand dragon loved water. I think Scaley may have had a bad experience as a hatchling.”
A movement from the northern sand flats catches my attention and I move around the ranger to see Scaley barreling toward me. He waves his tail merrily and lets out a little roar of recognition.
“Scaley!” I beam at him as he approaches.
The ranger looks behind him. Then he screams. And he runs away. What a strange person.
Image provided by Bliss Morgan at part of her Nightmare Fuel Project
Friday, October 7, 2016
My ward remains firm, but my resolve flags the longer she stays at the portal. Her hands press against her side, trying to break through even though it’s obvious she’s locked out.
I’m not even really sure what the fight was about anymore. I can’t remember what started it, although I do remember how it ended. That was with her storming up to the portal, dialing up her favorite bar, and transporting out without any form of goodbye.
Now she wants to come home. But does she want to return to apologize or to yell at me some more? Probably the former, based on past experience. So maybe I should let her in...
We’ve been through this more times than I can count. She snaps, calls me names, and breaks something. Then she goes drinking. By the time she’s a few shots in, she starts feeling sentimental, and stumbles back with words of adoration. I’ve always just let her do it. This is the first time it occurred to me to lock her out.
After what seems like eternity, her hands fall away, and she pushes her face close to the surface of the portal. “Please?” she mouths. “I’m sorry.”
I move close to my side, making sure she can see my lips as I say, “Me, too.”
“I love you,” she says.
Tears sting my eyes as I respond. “I love you, too.”
And I pull the curtain over the portal.
Photo prompt provided by Bliss Morgan as part of her Nightmare Fuel Project.
She says, "I do not have creator info for this image; if you know, please let me know so I can credit properly. I found it on this site: http://learn.corel.com/blog/fun-spooky-halloween-photography-ideas/ "
Thursday, October 6, 2016
The little mirrors pivot in place to follow my motion as I walk across the room, each one reflecting me on a different background. There’s me in the Alps, me on the Santa Monica Pier, me in Tokyo… I’m different in all of the mirrors, but somehow unmistakably me. Sometimes I’m female, other times male. In a few cases I’m human.
“Oh, just pick one,” my brother says, sounding bored.
“But how do I know which one needs me most?”
Clearly, he doesn’t. But I do. Choosing an incarnation means ignoring all the other possibilities. If I looked at them just as choices in vacation, like my brother does, then selection by whim would be reasonable. But I see it as my job, as part of protecting Father’s cosmos.
My gaze goes to a fire burning through a forest; I could go there, and save countless lives by putting out the flames. But then I see a see a small child who looks to be dying of disease; if I went to him, I could cure him and anyone else in his village with the malady. I don’t allow myself more than a glance at the mirror that shows my beloved; going to her would be the height of selfishness, and neither of us would forgive me for that.
Every second I spend deciding is another second I’m not stopping pain.
I draw a deep breath, reach out, and touch the plagued child.
As I zip through the ether into my new body, I spend a thought on my beloved. Maybe one day, there will be no disease or disaster. And then, at long last, hers will be the mirror I touch.