The dozen or so individuals gathered around the display while one
read the placard out loud.
During the seven centuries long Bloodluster-Lycanthropy War,
torturous atrocities were committed on both sides. Here you see
“harmless” non-silver metal spikes that were driven into a small
coven of vampires onto a silver slab, thus preventing their escape.
Placed in an isolated cave deep within the Eurasian forest, they were
found 157 years later by chance, after the war ended.
Of all the names,
why do they insist on that one—a voice lamented from the rear.
Dude, you’re not even a vampire; you’re a simple wraith—scorned
a tall, dark, handsome vampire. The wraith whined—But I want to be.
Laughter spread through the group as the reader rejoined them and
said—the winner gets to name the war, bloodsucker.
“Sure, Hank, no one is your enemy. We know. But let’s keep our tazers at the ready just in case, okay, my friend?” Waltraud snagged the book from Hank and stuffed it in the front of her shirt, bumping his tazer up with her own. “Why does your book smell like puke? It’s overwhelming my own fetid swamp in there.”
“It’s regurgitating the hate that surrounds–“
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever. Sorry I asked.” Shoulder to shoulder, they strode stealthily through the starship’s upper deck, three starkiller robots on their heels like big dumb dogs with 4317s holding ammo that detonated on contact. When one hit a human head, it was a fireworks of organic material. Hitting a robot endangered them all. Sometimes the difference wasn’t obvious. The starkillers were programmed to follow the instructions of Waltraud alone.
When she turned the corner and her head disappeared from a blaster ray, the starkillers turned to Hank, who said, “No one is my enemy.” They fired.
The petrified god was deeply embedded in the stone. I was allowed to use it for my art based on two absolute requirements: it would be returned in the exact same condition I received it, and it would be guarded at all times. I talked to him while I worked, using all the names speculated by the various archeologists, and suspecting this lack of identification was the deciding factor in the loan. Energy emanated from the little figure, energy I attributed to the magnetic field I set up to make him seem to come alive. The hair on my arms stood up and my whole body tingled. The guards, one at each corner of my table, stood farther back than I expected, refusing to come closer at my suggestion. Well armed and well trained, each of them alone would have been sufficient protection. My work on the system as I awaited approval for the tablet with the god meant I finished connecting him within weeks instead of months. He would come to life in front of millions of people across the world. As I attached the last wire to the system under the table holding the tablet, the blue light was brighter than expected, but the image popped up, and the little god swayed and danced above the crowd, larger than life. He carried on the mesmerizing movements in lateral motion over their heads, which wasn’t possible. My system was static; although the figures moved, they stayed directly on top of the system. I switched it off. The little god continued dancing away as we watched in silence. The tablet was empty.
The orange ones taste like caramel—shouted Pelokie. Everyone else groaned. Once again—exhorted Celosp—they taste the same, all of them, all colors, since they are always changing colors. Pelokie sloughed off to the subterna with a “Pfft.” The others continued gobbling down the miniature creatures running rampant. They found themselves choosing ones with any orange at all, just to make sure. After awhile, they looked at one another and shrugged en masse, returning to snacking on all colors. The creatures constantly went in and out of structures they’d built. Pelokie’s departure had the structures shaking and the creatures stumbling about haphazardly, so that everyone could simply lay out tongues and let the snacks fall on them. They sucked the creatures down swiftly. Muldosina blurped out a molten stream of montacid. Pardon me—she said, settling back into position, dribbles down all sides. Creatures increased their volume until the dribbles hit them. Then they stopped, which made them no longer fun to eat.
Dry ice swirled around Reverend Terrance as he gave an old fashioned,
heart pounding sermon under multi-colored lights crisscrossing the
stage. The squat, cinder block building belied its revival tent
facade with its chilling a/c. The Reverend must expend an outrageous
amount of heated energy in such a performance. My childhood friend
felt far removed from our childhood in this atmosphere. However, I
was not surprised. He’d always been dramatic and insistent on being
right. What better way to be the center of attention and lord it over
people than religion.
He beckoned to me from the stage at the end of the show, and so I met him backstage, where he was removing makeup while chatting with his crew. Shelley—he boomed at me as I approached. A shiver ran up my spine ending with a slight spasm as it hit my neck, the reverberation chilling me. I smiled and nodded. Reverend Terrance … Terry waved his hand at me as though announcing me to an audience anticipating me. Then he informed the paid sycophants—Shelley’s after my little brother; again. Any response would go badly for me, so I stood silent until he finished with me, giving me leave to walk away, wondering why I’d come, wishing that I’d ignored his little brother Dennis’ admonition that I had to see him in action. I had seen Dennis on this visit home, as I’d seen other childhood friends. It was an innocuous meeting, lunch at Darby’s on the river, reminiscing, as we’d not seen each other in a decade.
It was a challenge to continually force the man from my mind as I went about my remaining days in my hometown, vowing to avoid him and his brother. The icky feeling lingered no matter what, and I wasn’t sure which brother was attached to it. The process resulted in a headache, sending me to the local drugstore, McCarty’s. I hadn’t gone in this visit since the soda fountain was gone. As I perused the headache relief meds, a booming voice resonated throughout the store. Unfortunately, the good reverend was between the door and me. Feeling trapped, I grabbed something off the shelf and crept toward the back of the store intending to circumvent the man by passing through the feminine hygiene product aisle. He turned into the other end of the aisle, spotting me immediately. Shelley—he cried in mock surprise. Enough—I thought and dragged my wilting courage back up to reasonable height. Holding it firmly, I announced with no greeting—You should not have insinuated that your brother and I are an item, because we aren’t now and have never been. Under the surprise, a flicker of anger alarmed me, but I felt comforted by the presence of other shoppers. He apologized loudly enough to draw attention from them and then bowed, saying—And now I shall take my leave of you. He walked around me, head held high, chest out, toward the back of the store. I scurried to the front, feeling violated. While standing in line, Dennis came up to me in his pharmacist’s tech uniform and asked me out on a date. I shook my head. Terry never changed.
I’m not different, and I’m not special—she ranted to the air in
the attic. Dust fell through her as bats fled the rafters at her
outburst. The two teenagers snooping through the abandoned house
merely shivered slightly and zipped their jackets higher. The taller
girl fingered the photographs of her on the table under the window.
They must have loved her very much to keep her at home and take care
of her—she said softly. The other teen nodded, looking around her
at the pictures. Only moonlight illuminated the attic, which covered
the entire top floor, a hospital bed on one side. Bars running the
width and height of the room divided it in half, essentially
imprisoning whoever had utilized the bed. The smaller teen had placed
a small chest in front of the gate to block it open, though her
friend had admonished her that they were alone before bringing out
the book Different and Special to compare the black and white
photographs with the bedroom that had remained untouched for
centuries. They stepped back from the altar-esque table and
positioned the book for optimal moonlight. See, that would have been
her view when she was confined—said the girl whose book it was, as
she pointed toward the window behind them. They both turned, and
immediately dismissed the shadow crossing the light, looking at each
other and away. The tall teen pointed out each item depicted in the
book, both girls looking for a moment and immediately back to the
book. Was she possessed like they say—asked the smaller girl. Her
friend shook her head and replied—I think she was mentally ill, but
no one understood that then. I was not mentally ill, and I was not
possessed—screamed the spirit. She kicked the chest and slammed the
gate. Both teens jumped, and the book fell to the floor. Then they
ran out the gate and into the night. She whispered—I was something
much more frightening, a woman.
Karen swore the susurration followed her as she walked along the
cornfield. It seemed to come only from the section right next to her,
as though her energy were bouncing off the stalks. She thought she
could actually feel the energy hitting her, but maybe it was just her
imagination. When such things happened to her, no one else felt it,
and everyone so far in her life blamed it on her imagination, ergo
her conclusion here. Karen walked on, a bit jittery until the land
opened up onto a meadow.
Deep inside the cornstalks, warnings leapt out as the human passed, with the universal understanding of plants that when their buds came to fruition, they would be raped and pillaged, often by the big monsters the humans employed. For now, they could only deflect the human energy, whispering to each other—a human is near; our time is coming.
Thomas towered over his seated mother, yelling—She had a cookie at
school and you gave her a cookie in your home; you know I don’t
allow her cookies! As he raged on, Susi’s nana stared, wide-eyed,
unblinking, waiting for it to be over. Susi told her father of every
cookie. She never shared with her nana the punishment at home for
each cookie, ten minutes in her little chair inside the coat closet.
Immediately after Thomas’ departure, Nana offered Susi a cookie and
told her not to tell dad.
Today I’m a ghost sister of a girl destined to become a
taxidermist. Yesterday I was a fox spirit assisting a Chinese girl
left behind by her mother. Previously, I’ve been the autistic son
of a robot, the little sister kidnapped in 16th century
Huguenot France, a child turned into a devil elf by an evil santa,
and a baby born blue in Appalachia, Kentucky, amongst others. Always
the sidekick, never the main character. If only I could get out of
Every evening, Eule slipped gently from the hologram of herself at the entrance to the library, through the thick walls that spoke of multitudes of events, to her beloved books. First to the classics for which her heart had burned from their beginnings. Then on to the newest, soaring through the stacks, absorbing the latest tales from modernity. If any human ever, in her centuries of guarding the library entrance, thought to ask of her what was inside, she could have told them exactly, but that would take centuries.