I had a dream, last night and in this dream, I saw a Bank. Seeing a bank indicates a whooping windfall gain. It could also signify the end of bad times and the beginning of good times.
“If you fall asleep now, you’re gonna miss the funny part,” he said.
“I know,” she said, closing her eyes.
“And you’ll miss your favourite fight scene.”
“I’m not falling asleep.” She was falling asleep.
“We’re barely half way through,” he noted.
“That’s why I’m resting my eyes through the dull bits,”
“This is one of the best movies ever made,” he protested. “There are no dull bits.”
“Then you’d best pipe down, you’re missing it,” she said. She’d vanished into the blanked.
“Your missing it,” he grumbled with a smile, before shoving a handful of popcorn into his mouth.
Writetober 2020 Day 21: Grave
Here there be monsters
Fiction by Nicole Colinarez (Image: Jinen Shah via Unsplash.com)
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Rule #1: “Never be the first to break eye contact.”
As soon as the children in our village are able to walk on their own, this rule becomes a daily refrain. Even as they toddle about, the beachgrass waving above their downy heads, they know.
The mamas remember the missing. The fathers build taller fences.
They know breaking eye contact first is the same as leaving your house at night without a lantern.
They know breaking eye contact first is as close to a yes as can be.
They all know.
Rule #2: “No matter how hungry you are, remember that it bites back.”
It was just the one time, mind you.
The potato and cabbage soup had been cut with water so many days in a row that it was more like washing water than soup.
The hunger felt like it was clawing its way out.
My stomach rumbled, loud like thunder bouncing off the cliffs, but I still heard the snap! of twigs just off to my right, still saw the flash of grey like cresting seafoam.
Might’ve won that day if the pangs hadn’t heightened my senses.
Rule #3: Take the offering to the shore pines and don’t look back.
It’s tempting, I know, but don’t.
“Pray the candles are enough to illuminate the footpath. Pray that river of honey is enough to sweeten your haste. Pray the food lasts until the next full moon.”
That’s what the elders like to say.
They made the rules.
They know there’s nothing safe to see there.
So, light the candles until they burn bright, pour the mead until it flows over the side of the cup, place the food in the hollowed out stone … and go.
Just go quickly and don’t look back.
This late in the month, I’m too hungry to chase you too far anyway.
One of the oldest robots known to man was not a super soldier AI or a hyper-efficient data-collecting computer. The oldest android out there was a companion bot that was meant to take care of people in their old age. She was ancient and rusting and her parts needed to be constantly replaced, but she was a stable part of the community.
She was no longer confined to old folks homes or the bedside tables of dying patients. Instead, she was given free reign to wander the parks and feed the birds and sit by people on benches. She liked to sit down next to strangers and ask in her synthetically manufactured voice: “How are you doing today?” The conversations were often stilted and she had only a few responses left in her database, but she was a good listener.
Scientists couldn’t figure out how her battery kept going throughout the centuries and how she didn’t simply turn off one day. Robots of her same model had all died out and been used for scraps almost a millennium ago. The people of the community however would not let anyone take her apart, and they would not let any robotics expert inspect her either.
They simply led her around her favorite places as she grew moss over her chest plate and dirt gathered under her panels. She said she liked it that way. Scientists were banging their heads against the wall to figure out how and why she continued where others did not.
The answer, in the end, was simple.
Before she turned off for the last time, she faced a young girl who had been telling her a story and said one of the phrases she was not programmed to say but understood intimately anyway. It was a phrase she had heard over and over again from her own companions over the centuries.
She repeated: “Thank you for loving me.” And her lights turned out for good.
This was not something he had been expecting.
This was, he dared admit, a surprise.
Typically, Sheev Palpatine, Emperor of Galactia, did not like surprises. He enjoyed plotting and planning everything, to ensure it fit his design. While there had been good surprises from time to time—the discovery of his difficult apprentice and son, a terrified and half-dead boy in the desert, had been a windfall in terms of the sort of mage power he now had at his personal command—overwhelmingly they threw spanners in his works, disrupted his careful vision. The Mage Council wanting to train his son. The Death Star task force being driven out of Alderaan and their military base destroyed.
The aliens were invading, the world was ending!
One man held the key to survival. He was presently leaning against a wall with his arms folded, chewing on a toothpick like a cool dude.
“What’s in it for me?” The man asked.
When pointed out that the fate of the world was at stake, the man merely shrugged.
“And how is that my problem?” The man responded.
When pointed out that he lived in the world, he remained unmoved and turned his face away with a humph.
Some people are difficult to reach.
It worked for superheroes, so I thought it would work for me. No cape, no super reflexes, no superpowers, but I did have a drone I’d hacked, so I thought I could do something.
After I’d fitted it with a fresh pack of batteries, I returned to my bedroom and when Mum told me to get out and wish my sister a happy birthday, I yelled at her and locked the bedroom door. She kept yelling on the outside for a while, like a dog barking at something he couldn’t understand.
Cross-legged on the discount gaming chair, I leaned to bring myself closer to the monitor, and I pressed the Cross button on my controller.
Truth is, I can’t fight crime. But I can highlight it, bring it to fore. Like a yellow marker running across the most important lines of a classic, I’d record footage of all the wrongdoings the city revelled in at night. It would make for a nice documentary.
It would make for a nice break for a career.
The drone’s pivotable camera took in the sights of a cracked city. Dark rooftop crust with lava lighting underneath, lighting up the streets. Bright where the commerce flows, and dark where there’s poverty. That’s where I took the drone, where the street lights flickered, and where the cars are cheaper.
Finding crime isn’t always very easy. Most nights, I return to base empty-handed because my batteries ran out. I figured that that day was my sister’s birthday, so I had to get lucky.
And I did.
A pair of men in black jackets and ski masks exit a car, carrying long dark objects that look a lot like guns. They storm a store, and I press on the analogue stick of the controller to move in for a better look.
I started recording, but then almost jumped off the seat when my mother slammed on the door with her palm. She slammed several times more. She was yelling at me to come out. “Everyone’s asking for you!”
If I responded, she would have just pressed on, so I ignored her. I focused on the screen.
The drone lowered to street level, I turned it to face the the store. One of the men was holding a shotgun to the cashier, and the other was stuffing a bag with groceries. The man with the shotgun had an intense pose, like he really meant to shoot the cashier when he was done.
I took the drone in closer.
The slamming got louder. Mum called my name several times, until her voice grew hoarse.
“I’ll be out in a minute, leave me alone,” I screamed at a dark, monitor-lit door.
When I turned back to the monitor, the two men was staring at me. They were within a few feet of the camera, their eyes alarmed and curious at once. They looked at each other and talked.
The cashier was sneaking up on the one with the shotgun, but before I could do anything, before I could realise I could do anything, the other robber turned and spotted the cashier.
The man with the shotgun turned, fired his gun, and the cashier crumbled to the ground, his blood splattered on his own storefront.
That was the last bit of footage I saw, before the next blast hit the drone itself. For a split second, I saw the camera lose altitude. And then, nothing. A black screen and a ‘no video’ message.
The slamming returned, and I put the controller aside. I opened the door, and saw my Mum smile.
Everything is still and silent, a rare pause amidst the chaos of everyday life; the way it ebbs and flows along the fractured lines of each moment– a mirror– dropped into the past. Has everything ever been so calm before? In the whole history of his life, has he ever sat in one moment and not even felt the intrusion of a heartbeat? He doesn’t remember, and there’s uniqueness in that, too, in the reliving of something forgotten as if anew.
Wasn’t it worth it? If there were one thing he could explian– and he’s never been able to find the right words, or the right cadence– it would be to listen. Just to listen. To let go of the white-knuckled grip that they were attempting to hold over the passage of time like clenching a fist in a river. Listen, and learn to distinguish the way that each moment sings: that is to say–
There was nothing the same, not the entirety of history. It was change, all of it: the wars, the deaths, the broken promises, and every death. Silence. Stillness.
He has been guilty of sipping tea, wringing hands, and muttering I remembers alongside what ifs. He has been guilty of screaming into the darkness as if it would respond with condolences. He has been as everyone did thier best to be blind to: water running through helpless and clumsy fingers.
Yao is handed a delicate cup of flowers, steam rising carrying the scent of green tea, and the moment is broken, shattered into a hundred pieces behind him from which the reflection is already a warped maze of past and future implications. The delight of what was novel lingers. It fades.
Another lesson, then: the myth of progress. As if it was all building to something. As if one could pull thier hands from the water and set a boat on it instead, and it would carry them somewhere better. When, in reality, all was the experience of life as it came in peaks and valleys; so that anyone could not hope for anything beyond the continuation of breath for no end but to take another.
He took another.
She had taken him to several specialists: a slew of doctors, a rabbi, a holy lady, and more priests than she could count. Still, they couldn’t figure out what was wrong. It’s one thing to have a bodily imperfection, but it was another to have a distortion of the spirit. Something that twisted inside him and bent things a little bit the wrong way.
He wasn’t evil. He never kicked their dog or toppled their plants or even hid the car keys as a game. He was a good boy.
However, that didn’t stop him from pointing to the sky with his eyes shining like kaleidoscopes and saying “He’s going to die soon. There’s nothing we can do.” Perhaps, I thought it was a game or some nihilistic bullshit he read on the internet. But as he got older, he got sadder, and no amount of holy water or prayers could cleanse him of what he was seeing.
“God is dying, mom.” He would say and close his eyes that had seen too much. “And his corpse is still falling.”
she is not a small god, though she has not a single temple to her self and for all that she is sometimes called the god of small things. but in every one of her sister’s grand temple, she has her own room or her own curtained off corner, somewhere for her followers to find her.
her, the god of small things. the god of confusion. the god of your own terror. the god of being betrayed. the god of being disbelieved. the god of “fingers moving down” the god of being told “just lay back, it’ll be over soon”.
her followers can go to her because they know she has felt what they have felt.
and because she it also the god of justice. the god of doing what is right for yourself. the god of waystations and helping hands in the dark.
As a Junior Exorcist, I’m mostly on ghost duty.
I suck stubborn spirits from rafters with a vacuum, like cobwebs. I don’t get a sleek suit yet, or to vanquish demons. It’s not exciting in the slightest.
But at the end of each day, I empty the vacuum bag over a local canyon. The ghosts unfurl into the night like cream, like breath into the cold air. They seem happy to be free.
And then, just then, my job doesn’t seem so bad.
He scratched his head.
“Now where has that cat got to now?” He asked himself, checking behind him just to make sure the thing wasn’t sneaking around his ankles. It wasn’t, so he kept searching.
Wandering a lazy circuit of his home he spied out the usual spots. On top of chairs, under chairs, beside chairs - the usual rotation. The cat was not in any of them.
Eventually he came across the box. The box was leftover from an order he’d made recently and, obviously, the box was the cat’s newest favourite place. The box was big, and the cat liked to hide right in the bottom of it, right where it was darkest.
Seemed obvious. Bending down he gently lifted the box and peered into it. Two eyes caught the light and peered back. He breathed a sigh of relief.
“There you are,” he said.
From about his ankles came a purrping sound. It was the cat, angling to be fed.
He looked back into the box.
The eyes in the box blinked.
And to sooth the ruffled feathers from yesterday, it’s Terrific Thursday. Now that we’ve ruminated on the terrible, time for the brillant.
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Theme: terrifying creatures
For all the not-another-zombie, there’s some truly haunting creatures skulking about in the pages and flickering scenes of the horror genre. What scares you to death? Haunts your nightmares? Or perhaps your own nightmares have bleed onto the page.
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In one dream I saw a wedding. This means, one phase of life is over and the beginning of a new phase filled with joy.
In the second dream, I saw a lot of money. Yes, this could mean abundance and prosperity. It also could mean winning a windfall.
The lightbulb in the corner of my room flickers in the odd hours of the night, when the men downstairs are at their most active. Usually the bulb dims for a few seconds per person; that’s about as long as it takes for their machine to “finish” with each new recruit. They mutter words that aren’t quite english, and then are silent until dawn, when they all leave the building in a quiet procession. That’s the way it’s been since I moved in. Last night, the bulb dimmed for two and a half hours. There was screaming through the thick floors, and that morning only one of them left.
For a split second, you looked like her that for that split second, I thought you have returned.
It felt like a joke. When you left, my mind just kept on circling between “Why did you do that?” and “I miss you so much it hurts.” It was a constant battle of fighting the stinging of my eyes. I wanted to see you again and crying won’t do anything, but that’s all I could do. I don’t feel anything inside, as if you brought my heart with you.
“I’m just tired.” I kept saying this to myself, trying to convince myself that rest is all I need. It’s a lie. There’s only getting used to it.
Life is cruel. When I thought I was used to your absence, life proves me wrong in nasty, hurtful ways. I did not even know her. And yet, her smile felt like a tidal wave that crashed me on the face. For a split second, you looked like her that for that split second, I thought you have returned. And just like a wave, the feelings left me disoriented and breathless. There’s nothing else to feel. You took that ability of mine with you when you died.
There were cold spots on the stairs and a peculiar heaviness in the front bedroom. The tiny room smelled of rust and felt like mistake, like shame, like nakedness and like fear. It’s easy enough to ignore a spare bedroom, it’s a space made for visitors after all. And then it’s easy to forget a thing you’ve ignored. Granny had been the first to stay and when she died there, everyone assumed it was just her time. When the cat was found dead there, everyone thought it may have gotten into the rat poison. When the baby died, we moved.