Friday the 24th

Friday the 24th, photography by P.L. Cobb

Friday the 24th; that’s when my sister came rolling in. Except she wasn’t my real sister. The real one had left Sault Ste. Misery years ago. I liked my real sister. The person she had been replaced with was something else. She was one of those people, the kind of people you use air-quotation marks for when they end up in conversations.

Honestly, I think she’s the devil.

Our benovelent/malevolent overlord, Theo Monster

Silent Possession

Give in now . . .

I will not let you go.

(Let me go. . .)

(I won’t let you go.)

coopid

 

Esoteric Anecdote

There were seven of them, lords, all of themSome said that the only way to get to heaven–or the underworld, each story was different–one had to go through all seven . . . These gatekeepers, or key holders, whatever they did . . . They were, in different senses of the word (and varying degrees) demons.

So, that one had to go through them was a fact. That it was wise to do so (let alone something that I, myself, would do) was beyond comprehension.

I would never dream of being taken by one of the seven. That is another story altogether.

ashkenaz

So Long, Sunlight

So long, sunlight.

I close my eyes (in defiance),

The thought of being forced to see is not my ideal,

When the nature of things is questionable.

Suddenly the gift of sight becomes less than ideal.

(But then, it all depends on what you see . . .)

Theo_icon

After All

No one seemed to understand him, which was typical of most people . . . Not that he could blame them, to be honest. He was after all dead.

ashkenaz

An Old Stump

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An Old Stump

When he opened his eyes again, the Wandering Stranger was greeted by the morning sun. He winced. With his bones aching he sat up right, then stood up. He was still soaked all the way through, but it would soon warm up. From what he could recall, the storm had gone on well into the predawn hours. A yawn cracked his jaws wide open.

Looking around, he examined the aftermath of the storm; twigs, sticks, and branches—all of them widow-makers in their own right—littered the ground. Immediately he began searching for a weapon. Casting around for straight, thick branches, he finally found what he was looking for. He needed something that was strong, sturdy. After testing his find, he pulled a knife from his belt. Getting down on his knees he began to whittle away at the knobby bits, then proceeded to sharpen one of the ends into a point. It took him a while, but once he was done he cleaned and sheathed his knife.

Muttering that he had made better, the Wandering Stranger got to his feet. After venturing a few feet he came to the river. Its waters had gone well past the river bank. Solemnly, he watched as bits of debris floated down the choked waters. He looked behind him.

There was no one to be seen, yet there was someone following him, even if they were miles behind. Sometimes he had looked back to almost be overtaken. Shuddering at the thought, the Wandering Stranger set off alongside the river, mindful of keeping a good distance. One false step and he could crash through an overhanging bank. Although he would need to ford the river, he did not want to be near water this deep. He would seek out a narrower, shallower part of the river.

The sun was at its highest peak when he came to a suitable area; here the river was nothing more than a burbling stream. With a wry smile he leapt across. He landed lightly on the other side. It wasn’t much of a jump, really.

His journey had taken him into another wooded area. The scent of pine filled his nostrils. Taking a look around he noticed the start, or end, of a path; judging by the wear and tear of the asphalt the path was quite old, unused even. At least in this area of the wood . . . Travel worn as he was, the Wandering Stranger was not one to give up a good mystery. He was curious as to where this path went. So he followed it.

The pine wood soon gave way to a well manicured park: an open field with few rolling hills, and several trees standing out in the open here and there. It was deserted, but that didn’t surprise him in the least. People were not on his list of things to see. He took a deep breath, and the Wandering Stranger found that for the first time in months he was relaxed; his pursuers were far behind him, following a false lead no doubt, and he could relax. The park was very nice as well. It has a calm atmosphere, and it was quiet; every so often a robin would trill a few notes from a nearby bush.

So far the path he was taking had a bank immediately to his left, overgrown with brush. There were plenty of willow trees as far as he could tell, which meant that there was a creek down that bank. At times the trees would thin, and he could see dirt paths leading down to the water. After an hour or so the path verged away from the bushes, leading the Wandering Stranger down a gentle hill, and then across a road.

He stopped to take in his surroundings. On the other side of the road was the other half of the park. To his left the road ended in a dead end. However, to his right he could see houses. They were probably a kilometer down the road though. He could just pick out a few people in the yards of maybe two or three houses; they were far enough to look like ants.

At one point in his life, he had lived in a house too. How long ago was that?

With a shake of his head he began to cross the road, looking straight ahead of him at the path. Without any warning a loud shriek broke the calm silence of the park, stopping the Wanderer dead in his tracks. Every fibre of his being froze as the shriek painfully died down. It was still echoing in his mind moments after it had gone, replaying itself over and over in his mind as he desperately searched for an answer.

What had made the shriek?

That was the question.

But what was the answer? It had sounded human, but from experience he knew to not to take things at face-value. The world was, unfortunately, not as simple as it appeared to be, and many things could be deceiving. Too many things were deceiving, as a matter of fact. Further along the path, he could see what looked to be a crow or a raven in the distance. The bird was hovering over something.

Gripping his spear in one hand, the Wandering Stranger set off at a trot. He was going to find out what that bird was hovering over.

By the time he had reached the spot, the bird was long gone. What he found was a tree stump.

A butcher knife was stuck in it.

A group of kids could have easily done this as a trick, he mused. They had seen him walking down the path, and on seeing that he was a stranger they had decided to play a prank on him. It was a simple explanation that anyone could think of. It was an erronious one, however. He could feel it in his gut.

On seeing the knife his blood was not the only thing to run cold; the whole air around him was like ice when it had been warm just minutes before.

Without a second thought he wrenched the knife free from old stump, and made his way to the creek, holding the thing away from him the entire time. Once he neared the banks, he chucked the knife into the dense brush, and walked away. As soon as he was back on the path he started to lightly jog. Hunger gnawed at his belly, and he winced.

The food that he purchased before was likely gone, or the little which was left had spoiled from the rain, whichever came first. It was likely that he would have to forage.

All thoughts of food left his mind. Loud rustling and cracking came from the spot where he had chucked the knife.

The Wandering Stranger broke out in a mad run. This time he would not look back. The path lead him into the woods once more, and he followed it, dashing over fallen branches and crack in the pavement. As the woods began to thin once more he realized that the path was leading him back into the small town. Just then a thought occurred to him: he was hungry, and here was a small town; he could easily walk into a coffee shop,  get something to eat, and no one would follow him.

If anyone was following him. The rustling in the bushes could just be an animal, curious as to who had thrown the knife. A small part of him—the logical, rational part—chided him. Pushing that thought aside, the Wandering Stranger did the one thing that he did not want to do.

He thrust his spear into the bush.

It was just as well that he did, for at that exact moment the path was intercepted by another road. Turning right, he left the path. Slowing his pace to a walk he panted for breath. Someone from their house was watching him from their front porch. He stopped to look back at them.

“Afternoon,” the Wandering Stranger began, “I’m just passing through, do you know of any good places to have coffee?”

The woman sat up in her chair. She was maybe in her late fifties. A crochet hook was in her left hand, what looked to be a hat in the other. Looking at him curiously, she answered him: “The Cloudy Cafe; you’ll find it on Wentworth St.” Giving him one last look, she returned to her hat.

“Thank you!” The Wandering Stranger continued on his his way. On closer inspection, he found that he quite liked this town; its inhabitants were friendlier than in some places, for one thing. And the houses were all well kept, each with its own manicured lawn. On the outskirts of some towns the houses were usually run down dumps, the tell-tale sign of a slum. This was a suburb.

Theo_icon

The Golden Disc of the Uncaring Idol

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The Golden Disc of the Uncaring Idol

It was a symbol of something old and dead. We stared at it, wondering how something so insignificant could mean anything at all. They said that the Uncaring Idol, known also as the Smiling God, was the king of liars; with his mouth he would smile, and with his eyes he would devour your body, mind, and soul. When there was nothing left but a husk, he would abandon you. Chaos was his wont, and chaos was his only game. He was the unholy child of the Two-Faced Insanity . . .

The list was an endless one, inevitably. One from our group–a woman who was touched once by the demon–took the disc, and cut it. Thousands of pieces flew into the air, each one a glittering rainbow.

Somehow those rainbows were also the colour of blood.

Theo_icon

 

This Bird Has Fangs

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This Bird Has Fangs

Sure enough, the eldritch beast showed us its true form. How such a small thing could hide something so big . . . We stood helpless, astounded by its sheer awesomeness, by its awful beauty. The monster reminded us of an angelic being; either this was the creature in the flesh, or a cruel mockery of it. It had ten monstrous wings; for a mouth its face split in half. Horizontally.

Four glowing eyes fell on me, and I felt as if the inside of me was being seared as it searched my soul.

Surely, this was not god.

coopid

The Field of Storms

I did this sketch many eons ago.

I did this sketch many eons ago.

The Field of Storms

Alone in the field you could see the Stranger, looking feeble against a backdrop of black and grey—black and grey because the vast stretch of sky was filled with angry clouds straight down to the horizon. His head was upturned, scanning the clouds for anything unusual, but there was nothing to see. A deep rumble sounded in the distance. It was all the Wanderer needed to egg him on.

The Wandering Stranger began at a brisk pace. A drop fell on his face. One was soon followed by another, which soon became a steady drizzle. The Stranger quickly looked back to see if anyone was following.

There was none.

Again, the Wandering Stranger picked up the pace, to keep in time with the rain, which was soon turning into a steady downpour. It didn’t take long for them to run. The sky belched thunder once more, and then again two seconds later. It then became dark. All that could be heard was the roar of the rain, followed by the crash of thunder. Overhead, a spear of lightning arced across the sky; another one followed it, this time splintering in three different directions.

The Stranger let out a guttural shriek. His foot had gotten caught on a rock; a split second later and he was down on the ground rolling in the muck. He slid down a shallow hill into a small stream. Coughing for air he struggled to lift himself up, which he did, after struggling for a full minute and a half. With his heart pounding he began his pace anew. He was teary eyed, although he wouldn’t admit it. During his brief struggle, the wild thought of drowning had strayed into his mind.

To drown in a stream would mean a miserable end. But it would end this curse all the same. It was, after all, the curse which had forced him to leave his home, abandon his name, and wander forever.

It was also the curse which had given him a new name: the Wandering Stranger.

His reverie was quickly shattered. Lightning struck the ground ten feet ahead of him; even from a short distance he could smell the charred earth, and feel the crackling energy in the air. He veered off to the right in his mad dash. What he needed, more than his name, more than anything, was shelter.

Something in the distance caused him to squint his eyes. In the gloom he could see a copse of trees up ahead. He felt a gush of relief.

For what seemed hours he ran, slipped, and fell on his way to the copse. When he finally reached the shelter of the trees the Wandering Stranger let out a triumphant yell. Looking around he noted that the copse consisted mainly of birch. The trees still glowed white in the gloom. He could hear the rumble of a nearby river. At this point it would be swollen. He leaned against one of the trees, feeling its smooth trunk on his spine; every part of his body ached from exhaustion, and the cold only added to the pain. There was nothing he could do about it, as usual.

It was his curse.

A surge of red hot rage surged through him; it came and went. He would wait out the storm here, even if it persisted all night. No one would look for him in such adverse weather. Any trails left behind, any scents, and any signs would be washed with the passing of the storm. For now, he was safe.

The Wandering Stranger closed his eyes.

Theo_icon

The Lonesome Morning

The first rays of sunlight peered through the windows. There was no one living to appreciate the coming of the dawn. For them (on the inside) it was too late. A raven hopped across the porch railings; an old bird, large, with a cracked beak. The residents had called him Pretty Boy.

Pretty Boy regarded the silent porch, then the windows, looking as uncomfortable as it was possible for him. They used to live there, alive and happy, alive and nice. Many days they would give him food, the same way they had done for years. Pretty Boy looked at the windows again. Through the red smears there wasn’t much to see; their bodies had been  dragged away in the night as he watched from his perch on an old tree. It had frightened him.

He let out a dour cry before taking to the air. A figure loomed up in the window he was watching, startling him. Pretty Boy knew who that was.

And he did not like it.

coopid

Smiling God

The words from their last encounter rang in his head. You summoned me. Today was not a good time for this, just like yesterday wasn’t a good time, and likely tomorrow too. In the morning as he awoke the smiling god was leaning over him; in the dim light it appeared as a spectral horror.

As soon as their eyes met its smile widened. The smile was at the point where it was on the verge of becoming a snarl. He couldn’t tell the difference though. It was all the same. On this day the god had said nothing, only faded into nothing. When there was nothing for the horror to say, something bad would happen to him.

Today is not a good day . . . He felt ill.

Theo_icon

You’re Not Real

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You’re Not Real

“Just let me go,” the man begged. “I swear I didn’t mean to do anything! Let me go and I’ll—”

It looked at him with its beady black eyes. From the shadows he could see nothing, except for those eyes. A hissing noise came from somewhere, and then it spoke. “No.”

The man slumped down into a shaking heap, sobbing. To think that this was actually happening. He could barely believe it. That this was a delusion was hard to believe. Delusions certainly didn’t leave real marks on your arms and neck where people could see them. Couldn’t they? Everyone thought he was suicidal, schizophrenic.

And maybe he was.

“You’re not real,” he said.

“Keep telling yourself that,” the creature laughed. “It’s what they all say, before they die.”

“No.”

“YESSSS!” It hissed into his ear, the sound fraying his nerves even more. “I’ll steal your name, like I did to the others. And then I’ll steal your memories. You’ll forget everything, all the good, all the bad; it’s really quite pleasant, actually. Without the memories you’ll no longer have to worry about anything. Think of it as a brief release. And when you die, it won’t mean a thing.”

“You’re not real,” he repeated. The words sounded hollow.

“Who are you?” The thing asked, softly, sweetly.

“I’m . . .” the man began slowly, then trailed off. He fumbled in his mind for the answer, but couldn’t to a conclusion. Who was he? A sense of false security soon surrounded him, calming him. Some distant part of him told him to fight, to wake up, but he couldn’t.

He just wanted to sleep. The man didn’t know, but his eyes rolled up into his head, replacing his irises with white.

“I’m . . . someone.”

A grating laugh came from out of the darkness. “He’s still got some fight left in him!”

“Shut up!” the thing turned back to look at someone.

The man blinked. He didn’t know why, but he felt an indescribable rage well up inside of him. Before he knew it, he was trying to sit up, without really knowing why. What was going on? Why was it dark, and cold? Where had that warmth gone?

The warmth is a lie.

Looking around, the man noticed a pair of two shining lights. They looked like eyes. Before he could think any further his right arm took a swing at them. As his fist made contact with something warm, he began to remember something.

“I don’t know who I am, because you stole that from me. But I’m someone, damn you!”

A chorus of laughter surrounded him, but he didn’t care. “I’m going to take back my name!” he shouted, lashing out once more. Something latched onto his legs; with his other arm he beat down on it. Whatever had taken hold of him began to squeal loudy, like a pig. That horrible sound caused him to wince. Grabbing it, he made to rip it off. A sound of cracking and tearing filled the air.

The laughter was soon replaced by shrieks and shouts. Without any warning, a million of the small creatures swarmed over him. Roaring, the man ran. He flailed his arms about, swatting at the things, which were gnawing on him, biting him; they were literally ripping him apart. He dropped to the ground, rolling over. There were more hisses and shrieks which followed. Not daring to look back, the man scrambled to his feet. He ran despite not being able to see a thing.

And he would continue to run no matter the cost. As long as he was alive and those creatures were far behind nothing else mattered.

“Who am I?” he asked himself. Where he came from, where he lived . . . All of it was gone. “I’ll be a wandering stranger, till I find myself at the very least . . .”

ashkenaz

Good Morning World

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Good Morning World

What happened? Daylight savings!

Now we all have to go to bed earlier to avoid the creatures of the night. And sleep for one less hour. And wake up earlier . . . There will still be snow till April or May.

So, in the end, this means nothing.

With love,

Theo Monster

Theo_icon

Not Your Mother

I wish I had never said those words: I want to take care of you. They were, in a sense, used against me by one who should have known better. Now I am left to care for the demonic brats he has left me with. Fool me once.

This role was not something I gladly accepted. I was aware of it at first, but I was blind–I did nothing to stop it. Our lives are separate now, both parties disappointed with the outcome, but for different reasons. I’d bet my life on that.

Thankfully, however, I do not share the same delusions as he does. Just a pair of demonic brats. For the time being they are little more than maggots. When they grow?

They’ll be just like him: beasts.

Nothing more than wild beasts.

ashkenaz

A Most Sluggish Sunday

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A Most Sluggish Sunday

Lately I’ve been feeling drained. It could be the weather; multiple sources have claimed to be depressed, myself included. It could be a lack of nutrients–something purely physical, fixable, understandable. Or it could be something else?

I say that tentatively.

Hear me out: last night I ran a marathon in my dreams. Nothing special, you likely did the same thing. I dreamt of murderous guardians, ancient creatures that wore red cloaks. At will they could become invisible. They stood guard over a particular cave, carrying long scimitars.

I watched one kill a man. At first there was just the man, a piece of scimitar sticking out of his head. Then the creature slowly appeared in the cavern.

And I woke up.

So, what does it mean? Did I not sleep well because of my dream? Was it happening in real life, on some other plane? Or did I have that dream because I was not sleeping well?

Is my apartment filled with the type of muse that feeds off of your energy in exchange for inspiration?

This is speculation for the fun of it. If there are living muses they’re not fulfilling their end of the bargain. Either way, enjoy your Sunday!

Cheers!

ashkenaz

Red Like Blood

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Red Like Blood

–Which was spilled. Deep-reaching, half-dead roots (held under winter’s grasp) brought it up to the surface for her to see. Who spilled the blood and where had it spilled from, that was another riddle.

ashkenaz

Old Bones

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It’s exactly what you think.

Old Bones

I was cleaning out the attic when I stumbled upon a mouldy box. It was hard to miss; it had a strange musk about it.

When I opened it I found the most exquisite thing–rotten bones, darkened with age, and covered in lichen–but I knew I shouldn’t have seen them that way. They were (to be clear) rotten bones. The smell emanated from them, and I’m sure that’s where the rot came from too.

Still, they caught my attention, inspired my imagination.

Until my fingers began to shrivel. They were green, and grey.

Covered in lichen.

The doctors were able to save one of my hands–the left one–but my right arm was amputated up to the elbow. After that, I knew better than to pry around in places I didn’t belong. I even took the liberty of moving.

Away from that diseased place.

I’m sure the house is tainted. It’s been on the real estate market ever since then; it will only be a matter of time before it meets its fate with an arson. I can guarantee it.

Theo_icon

An Inconvenient Monster

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An Inconvenient Monster

Apparently we weren’t safe. Not during the day, not even on the water. Crowds wouldn’t deter them. As reality would have it, we were sitting ducks. Nothing could stop it.

We would be forced to fight it.

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