The Bus Stop Boy

I hate my job. And it’s not a normal hate. You know those hates where you just turn around and say, “Fuck! I hate (insert hated entity).” And you grumble and groan all the way home. Perhaps you cry about it or you journal about it, or you blog about it. But, after a few days, the hate begins to dissipate into a manageable grievance. But listen to this; I hate my job as much as Hitler loved the Jews. I hate my job as much as Kim Jong-il loved his citizens. I hate my job so much that I will inflict personal injury so that I don’t have to show up. Ok, that part’s not true… don’t call the loony bin on me or anything.

I’ll cut right to the chase… So I get off a quarter past 6 and I need some food in a major way. I’m so hungry I feel like puking and crying. The downside is that I have to take a 15 minute bus ride then walk another 10 minutes to my apartments. I put in my headphones and listen to Pink.

I step into the shelter of the bus stop and sit next to the only other person waiting. Of course, it’s a cute boy. He’s cute as fuck. I’m such a sucker for the pretty boys. You know the ones with kinda long, soft looking hair with a nice chiseled chin and perfect lips with blue eyes like cut sapphires. Always the blue eyes. Sometimes green, but, ew. His dirty blonde hair hid half his face. Luckily, the exposed part was nearest to me which made me happy. Although, he seemed like one of those emo types. He was slouching and wearing that permanent expression of frowning eyes and pressed lips. He looked close to my age, or a couple years older like twenty maybe. I pulled one of my earbuds out, the sound of traffic and tires cutting through puddles of water on the rain-slicked streets now apparent to me.

I said, “hey.”

He slowly turned his head in my direction and suddenly I was snapped back to reality. Why the hell did I feel compelled to talk to him? Seriously, why, why, why?

“Hi,” he said before turning away.

I smiled. Well, I should probably just end it here to save myself from embarrassment. I sit up and begin lightly drumming my hands against my lap. I glance over at him several times to make sure he’s still as gorgeous as I remember. Dammit! I couldn’t shake this feeling that I had to talk to him. It was like destiny crept into my body and was pressing me forward, whispering in my ear telling me to make conversation here. But why? Maybe he’ll fuck me. The thought sent warmth through my stomach and between my legs. I quietly cleared my throat and said, “Where are you from?”

He gave me a puzzled look. “Why do you ask?”

“Um, I was just wondering if you’re from around here or whatever, I don’t know.”

“It doesn’t matter where I’m from.”

“Ok,” I said. What the fuck, man? This guy’s playing it rough. I’ll bet most girls give up and shy away at this point, but not me.

“Do you work or got to school?” I asked.

“Why the fuck are you talking to me?”

I just sat and stared.

“Seriously, why the fuck are you talking to me? I don’t even know you.”

“I’m just being nice,” I said.

“Fuck nice. It’s rude to bother strangers that mind their own business. What makes you think I give a shit about you or anything you say?”

Oh my god. This guy is fucking rude, and a little crazy. “Sorry,” I said before scooting a couple inches away. He scoffed at me before digging into his back pack.

“I’ve just been having a bad day, a bad week. Shit, a bad life,” he said.
I smiled again. “I understand. I work over at that convenient store on the corner and it’s terrible. I honestly think it might be one of the worst jobs in the world.”

“I was talking about how my mom was murdered by my dad a couple days ago and my sister’s a runaway meth addict and I have nothing left to love. Not even myself.”

Shit. He started to laugh.

“It’s funny though.. Once you lose everything you thought was important to you, it gives you a lot of time to think. You have all this time to reflect on what it was you loved and why you loved it,” he said. “It also empties you out, carves all sorts of holes in you that you can’t fill up ever again. I just feel like there are too many holes now. There’s nothing I can do to feel better.”

I said, “Now that’s not true. I bet there are-“

I paused and stared dumbly at the boy who now held a pistol in his hand and wore a small smile on his face. The entire situation was so hypnotizing. “What’s that?” I said.

“Medicine,” he said before shoving the barrel into his mouth and pulling the trigger.

The sudden explosion of blood and flesh painted the interior of the bus stop and splashed across my face. I felt a chunk get lodged in my mouth and savored the metallic icing on my lips. Half of his head was gone, leaving behind flaps of skin and hair dangling on all sides. His lifeless body slowly collapsed to the floor as if resting from a tiring day. And in a way, that’s what he was trying to do.

I suddenly lost my appetite.

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Life on Another Planet

I watched the sun cook the corpse before me as I sat drooling all over myself. Another human, another delicious meal.

For whatever reason, these strange human creatures kept coming here in flying machines wearing white suits. They trotted all over my beautiful yard and sometimes even had the audacity to take some of my yard and put it in a little container to take with them. That’s what this one tried doing. I spotted him near the sand beds surrounding my favorite rock before I tore his white suit off and watched his eyeballs pop out and his bones turn to mush. The sweet mush which give the tendons a little spice to my meals on Mars.

And now here I sit watching my meal prepare itself for consumption. I wish he’d hurry up and cook already. I knew there were other hungry creatures around that wouldn’t hesitate to steal my meal.

And as if the Great Sky God read my thoughts, the human was ready for my tummy.

I was halfway through his bowels when I heard shouting nearby.

“Get off him!”

“What the hell are you doing?”

I looked over my shoulder at two other white suited blockheads bounding towards me.

“Fuck off!” I said.

“No!”

“Please?” I begged.

“No! Oh my god.. Oh my god… David, are you seeing what I’m seeing?”

“I think so,” the other one said.

I turned around to face them as they studied me closely. What’re they gunna do, put me in one of their test tubes? Better not. I’ll eat them. Hell, I’m going to eat them anyways.

“What’re you two staring at, huh? Never seen a martian before?” I said.

“You-You’re…”

I was losing my patience. “Spit it out!”

“You’re Carl Sagan!”

How did they know my name? Too much talking, time to pop their eyeballs out.

The two humans looked at each other then back at me. Just then, another white suit came barreling around the corner in some motorized scooter.

The scooter parked next to me and its rider looked me up and down.

“Carl?” it said in a strange tone. “It’s me, Stephen, Stephen Hawking. Class of ’49, remember?”

I tore his white suit off and ate his face. The other two humans ran but I caught up with them and ate their faces as well.

I remembered. But Stephen was such a dork, I had to eat him.

Life on Mars has been a lot more fun than I expected. Hope to get more visits from humans soon.

-From a torn page of Carl Sagan’s Journal circa 1972

Amelia, Young Amelia

                                                                                                                                     amelia

You could dance like the seasons

and sing like the angels

A head full of imagination with princesses and princes

wizards and witches, giants and goblins

I was late to your recital that night

but it didn’t matter, you wouldn’t be there

My Amelia

Didn’t you learn never to talk to strangers?

What did the devil say before he took you?

Did he promise a wish?

You could’ve never known

I made a thousand wishes you had

Because maybe then you’d still be here today

and I wouldn’t have found you buried beneath the snow

I remember cradling you in my arms for the first time

I’ll never forget the last

Your face a sheet of white with a tint of blue

The tears stuck to your face

I still held you close and played with your hair

Winter had betrayed you

But I can still hear you in my dreams

the voice of an angel

I still hear you baby girl, I still do

Tommy and the Trees of Madness

 

The screen door flew open as the young blond-haired boy burst out carrying a pile of toys nestled against his chest. He made his way to the edge of the property near the forest and dropped them on the ground, sending a toy ball rolling past the trees and into the woods. He didn’t think much of it for he was too busy placing his toy cars side-by-side to get them ready for the grand prix. He picked up a small twig and held it like a microphone.

“Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, welcome to the North American circuit, home of the finest racers and the fastest cars. Please, if you haven’t already, place your bets on the car you think will beat them all. Captain Hurley is the favored pick. Did ya see his performance last week, Jack? Oh I sure did, Tommy. Who could miss such a grand performance of speed and endurance? Right you are, Jack.”

Tommy pulled some grass out of the ground where the track would be. After a fair amount of tugging and pulling, he pressed his hands against the ground to smooth it out.

“The drivers have taken their places,” Tommy said. “Wait, Jack, where’s Crazy Charles? Your guess is as good as mine, Tommy.”

Tommy did a quick scan of the yard around him.

“He’s gotta be around here somewhere. Crazy Charles never bails right before a race!”

Tommy grabbed a toy car that was hidden under a small pile of grass.

“No worries, ladies and gentleman. Crazy Charles is pulling to the starting line right now. Drivers, start your engines!”

Making his best efforts at imitating the sounds of a growling engine, Tommy blew forth a shower of spit  from the wild vibration of his lips. He then started counting down from 10. Tommy set the faux microphone down and focused his hands on the shiny die-cast metal cars before him.

“10…9…8…7…”

More engine noises, more spit.

“6…5…4…3…”

When suddenly, the small toy ball he lost earlier rolled into his makeshift arena. Tommy fixed a confused look on the object, staring at it as if it were some foreign artifact. He then looked up and into the forest looking for whoever it was that rolled him the ball. There was no one that he could see, just the same old trees standing as still as statues.

That’s when he heard it. Someone was calling his name.

“Tommy,” it said. “Tommy, come here.”

Curious, Tommy slowly rose to his feet, gripping one of the toy cars in his left hand.

“Come here, Tommy I’m not going to hurt you,” it said.

Without saying a word, Tommy slowly walked to the forest’s edge. “Who is it?”

“A friend.”

The voice was neither male nor female. It was almost like a combination of both. Like an overlapped monotone voice of a man and woman.

“A friend?” Tommy asked.

“Yes.”

“Well, then come out. Let me see you.”

“I’m right here, Tommy. I’m right in front of you.”

Tommy took a single step back looking up and down, left and right. “Stop it, this isn’t funny.” His voice began to tremble. “Come out and show me who you are.”

“Foolish boy,” said the voice as one of the trees began to twist and turn like a towel being wrung dry.

In awe, Tommy watched as the tree in front of him became animated, stretching its branches out on all sides as if emerging from a deep slumber. The sounds of creaking lumber echoed through the forest, leaves sprinkled the ground while lush vegetation seemed to sprout along the trees exterior, starting near its roots and spiraling up to its apex. A few birds called out and flew from the forest annoyed by the sudden disturbance.

Tommy swallowed. “Are you… Are you my friend?”

“Yes, dear boy. That’s what I’ve been telling you all along, have I not?” The tree let out a final sigh that produced a sound beyond description. As if the tree were expelling its impurities while consuming the energy around it.

Tommy took a step closer, closely examining the patterns in the bark, captivated by its maze-like quality. After several seconds of admiring this grand tree, Tommy said, “Do you have a name?”

The tree laughed a long, echoed laugh that seemed distant yet genuine.

“Of course I have a name. Call me Crusoe.”

“Crusoe,” Tommy said. “Nice to meet you, Crusoe.”

The branches of the tree lowered, almost as if the tree were attempting some bizarre type of bow.

“And what about me?” came a sharp, high-pitched voice.

Tommy jumped. The voice had come from right next to him and he immediately noticed a second tree, equally as exquisite and enamored with the jewels of nature.

“What are you called, Mr. tree?” said Tommy.

“Mister tree? I am no mister!”

Tommy apologized. “You’re a lady?”

“Of course! Just look at my vibrant leaves, my delicate branches that reach far and wide, observe the curves in my trunk and the beautiful flowers that sprout from my bark.”

“I didn’t know there were girl trees,” Tommy said.

“That’s absurd!” the tree cried.

Tommy tucked his chin into his chest, slightly embarrassed. A small, thin branch stretched out to Tommy’s face, stroking it softly. “It’s alright, Tommy. I’m not mad at you,” she said. “Chin up, young man.”

Tommy looked up at the tree. “What are you called?”

“Lisanne. And don’t call me Liz for short.”

“I won’t, don’t worry,” Tommy said. He watched as the growth on the trees began to move like waves running towards the shore. The leaves became afflicted with bright shades of blue, red, purple, black, and gold in an endless illusory cycle.

Then came the androgynous, monotone voice, “It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance,” Crusoe said with an outstretched branch. Tommy hesitated before gripping the end of it when dozens of skinny branches wrapped around his hand like hundreds of cold worms.

“Hey!” Tommy said. “What’re you doing? Stop that!”

His requests were ignored as more and more braches snaked around his wrist and forearm growing tighter and tighter like a pumped up blood pressure cuff.

“Please,” Tommy said. “You’re hurting me, Crusoe.”

The serpent-like branches shrank back into the larger branches. “I’m sorry, Tommy. I didn’t mean to hurt you.”

Tommy flinched as he rubbed the tender spot. “It’s alright.”

“Good. Because I really am your friend and don’t mean to cause you pain,” Crusoe said.

“Of course you’re my friend. I’m just really confused,” Tommy said.

“Confused?” Lisanne said. “How so?”

Tommy, staring up at the fluorescent leaves, said, “I didn’t know trees could talk in real life.”

“They can’t” said Lisanne.

“But… you’re talking to me right now. And I know I’m not dreaming because I remember waking up and eating a big bowl of fruity crisps before I watched cartoons. Then I grabbed my toy cars and toy bouncy and came out here to play. And then I heard someone trying to talk to me and here I am now.” Tommy said.

“We know you aren’t dreaming,” Lisanne said.

Tommy scratched his head. “So, if trees can’t talk in real life and you’re talking to me right now and I’m not having a dream then how is this happening?”

“You have a very powerful imagination,” Crusoe said. “An incredibly powerful imagination.”

“Really?” Tommy said. “Does that mean you and Lisanne are my imaginary friends?”

“Yes. We are your imaginary bestfriends,” Crusoe said. “And there are hundreds and hundreds of us in the forest waiting to be your friend.”

“But there’s no way I could become friends with hundreds and hundreds of you!” Tommy said.

“Why not?” Lisanne asked.

“Because I’m just a kid and I don’t know how to be friends with trees.”

Crusoe and Lisanne let out their respective crude laughs.

“We can help you with that,” Lisanne said. “So far you’re doing just fine.”

“You would impress every tree in this forest,” Crusoe said. “We don’t ever get to talk to humans because they don’t know how to listen. We try all the time like I did with you earlier.”

A large smile grew across Tommy’s face, his blue eyes gleaming with excitement. “OK, I’ll be friends with all of you and I will meet every tree in this whole forest. Maybe I could even build a tree house with you!”

At that moment, the two trees let out a deep bellow, their leaves rapidly falling to the ground as the branches turned black and quickly retracted into the tree like measuring tape. The once luscious growth wilted and died, the bark appearing to grow thorns the size of large swords, all while a noxious black liquid oozed from every pore of the tree, polluting the ground beneath it.

This startled Tommy so much that he stumbled and fell on his back. Tears fell down his face yet his throat was unable to produce the slightest whimper. He could only watch as the trees went through their demonic transformation, silent tears streaking his rosy cheeks. “You guys… What’s going on? Stop it, please. You’re scaring me,”

Crusoe let out a long sigh that caused the air around him to spring forth in every direction, flapping through Tommy’s clothes and frilling his hair.

An even better idea is snatching up all your little human friends and chopping them up into little pieces. Then, we could stack them on your head, Tommy,” Crusoe snapped.

That wouldn’t be as fun as butchering his mom and dad and making a little fort for Tommy to play in.” Lisanne hissed. “But we both know humans start to smell after a while and they get real messy when you cut them up.”

“No!” Tommy said. The silent tears now sang notes of despair. “No, no, no, no. Please, Crusoe. Stop, Lisanne. I didn’t mean what I said. Please stop this. I take it all back, I take it all back!”

The trees laughed their wicked laughs once again. And as quickly as they made their transformation, they went back to the magnificence they displayed earlier. The branches emerged from the trees like a rolling red carpet, the leaves springing up just as rapidly and shining bright as ever. The flowers and growth crawled up the trees once again, the thorns disappeared and the mysterious black liquid melted into the ground.

“Very well then,” Crusoe said. “Human houses would be no fun anyways.”

Tommy was still on his back, hiding his face in his hands as he wept relentlessly, struggling to breathe through the gripping terror.

“Stop crying, Tommy,” Lisanne said.

Tommy continued to cry.

I said stop crying!”

“Lisanne,” Crusoe said. “We’ve obviously scared the boy. Tommy, we didn’t mean to scare you as much as we did. What you said made us angry, but we didn’t intend to terrify you. We were only trying to illustrate the sheer madness of your statement.”

Tommy slowly let down his hands, his eyes bloodshot and slightly swollen. “That was the scariest thing I have ever seen. That was scarier than all of my bad dreams put together.”

“Fear makes you stronger. Don’t be so afraid of the darkness, Tommy.” Lisanne said softly. “We want you to be our friend. Please, Tommy, come with us and be our friend forever.”

Tommy’s face softened and his muscles started to relax. “Forever?” he questioned. “How long is that exactly?”

“However long forever is,” Lisanne said.

Crusoe said, “One thing you’re going to learn about the forest is that time is measured in more ways than one. We don’t have clocks or watches here. The trees never speak about time nor do we pay much attention to it. We can only know when we first emerge from the earth and see our first sunrise to the time our branches become brittle, our colorless leaves shiver and fall, and our exhausted bark collapses to the ground. We get to experience this world only once and during that time we see so many beautiful things. You can’t begin to imagine the splendor that exists in this world.”

Tommy’s eyebrows shot up like switchblades. He wiped away his tears and said, “What kind of things are you talking about?”

“I can’t quite tell you,” Crusoe said.

“Oh but why not!”

“It’s not something that can be understood through language. These things of unfathomable beauty and mystery you can only experience.”

“I want to experience it, Crusoe! Lisanne, please, you two need to show me how!”

“I don’t know if you’re ready for it, Tommy,” Lisanne said.

“I’m ready!” Tommy shot to his feet. “I want it! I want it so bad!”

Crusoe said, “This is a big deal, Tommy. Once you decide you want this, there’s no turning back.”

“Oh, Crusoe,” Tommy said through tears. “I’m certain I want this. I know with all my heart I want to see all that you have seen.”

Tommy walked up to Crusoe and softly placed a hand on his bark. “I want to be your friend forever.” He looked over to Lisanne. “I want to be friends with you and every tree in this forest and every tree in the whole world! I’ll be with you for as long as I can.”

“Say that you want it with all of your heart,” Crusoe said.

“I want it with all of my heart,”

“Say you want it with all of your soul.”

“I want it with all of my soul,” Tommy almost whispered.

“Ok, Crusoe. He truly wants this, he’s ready,” Lisanne said.

Crusoe agreed. “Tommy, it’s time for you to meet the other trees of the forest. It’s time for you to become one of us.”

Tommy took a couple steps back.

“Are you ready?” Lisanne said.

“Yes,” Tommy said.

“Then close your eyes.”

Tommy’s slowly lowered his eyelids. His world was dark, but he could feel the air changing. He could taste it, the metallic flavor of the air. The earth started to shake violently. He fell on his side but kept his eyes squeezed shut.”

“Keep your eyes closed,” Lisanne said. At least it sounded like her voice except a little deeper and harder to understand.

“I am!” Tommy said.

But Tommy could only keep them closed for so long. After several seconds he stole a peek and instantly wished he didn’t. The trees were turning into the nefarious creatures that haunted him earlier. Except, this time, Crusoe was slowly descending into the earth. Lisanne shot up into the sky above the clouds and not a moment later did every tree in the forest follow her lead, shooting up into the sky like thousands of loosed arrows. Tommy watched as flames shot up from the spot Crusoe once resided. The brilliant flames licked the air, searching for something to burn. Tommy was terrified. The fear crept over him like it did when he would fall in a dream. That brief moment you experience an ethereal terror of horrible, unexplainable suffering that paralyzes every muscle, freezes every bone, and electrifies every last nerve in your body.

It was like being tied at each limb, watching the horsemen ride off in every direction as the coiled ropes grow smaller and smaller, moments before reckoning.

Tommy shrank into the fetal position and placed his thumb in his mouth. From all around him thick black branches sprang up high enough to cast a shadow that consumed him in complete darkness. The branches looked to have deep scars spread like wicked tattoos all over their exterior where red liquid flowed like hundreds of tiny rivers. The monstrous branches then began to twist and weave together like rope before falling onto Tommy, forming a heinous sight to behold. The black branches meshed together into a single organism; rhythmically pulsating, its surface boasting patches of random growth like a demonic atlas.

Those hungry flames pounced on this organic spawn of the earth, consuming it like a feast to a starved man. As soon as these flames engulfed its prey, the structure sank back into the depths of the earth, leaving behind nothing but a single violet lotus standing all on its lonesome like an erected flag on a battlefield.

Rebirth

“Tommy,” Lisanne said. “Tommy, can you hear me?”

Tommy felt like he was being pulled up from the ocean floor, escaping a great pressure.

“Tommy, look! Hurry!” Lisanne said.

Instantly, Tommy felt weightless; every part of him instantly aware of every sound, every smell, and every thought to ever be conceived. He felt great power emanating all around him. He witnessed a sunrise that seemed imaginary. It’s magnificence striking enough to induce deep feelings of anguish and sorrow at the beauty not ever to exist through the eyes of mortal men. His sympathy would soon diminish, for it was irrelevant to Tommy.

“What do you see, Tommy?” asked Lisanne.

“I… I don’t know. I don’t know yet, Lisanne. I’m just afraid forever might not be long enough.

Phantasmagoria

Author’s Note:

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

 Introduction

 

You’re about to read a short story describing one girls trek from one state to the next in an attempt to chase her dreams and fully harness her creativity.

She grew up in the Pacific Northwest. More specifically, Washington State. Rainy, dreary, unpredictable Washington. After graduation, her life was beginning to plateau. For some reason, she just couldn’t break past these imaginary barriers that were set before her. What was she to do? In a panic, she gathered a few friends together and suggested they move. To where? They asked.

Portland.

It would be perfect.

However, preliminary plans were made and broken. It wouldn’t be until much later that they would pack their bags and spend a weekend down and stay with another friend who lived there.

And so they went.

Upon their return, realities were checked. They were checked so hard that their hearts were crushed; its smooth fragments melting into the cracks of their now fractured souls.

Coming home didn’t feel like coming home. It felt like returning to a house of horrors with an ominous darkness that seemed to have a face glaring back at her. She didn’t want to be here, but she had nowhere else to go. Portland was ready for her, but she wasn’t ready for Portland.

Some time later, after spending a great deal of time in this treacherous place, she adapted to her surroundings, becoming one with all that she once despised. How could this have possibly happened? Well, she wasn’t aware it was happening. She thought it was maturity easing her hate. But it wasn’t. It was her flaws and vulnerabilities in disguise holding her back.

However, there is no such evil that cannot be overcome by love. And love is often accompanied by passion. And that passion holds her purpose. And her purpose was bigger than she, thus prevailing over her reluctant mind.

And so our story begins.

M. Williams, Winter 2013

Departure

I boarded the 8am train to Portland and began searching for my seat. 12D. I spotted 9A and 10B on my right and to my left was 12D; a window seat. I packed my suitcase into the space above and settled the backpack in my lap.

I glanced out the frosted window through streaks of water left behind by the fresh rain, watching trees sway in the wind like a pendulum moving in slow motion.

I barely got any sleep lastnight and my head was throbbing, eyes aching. I closed them and used my thumb and index finger to gently massage them. It slightly dulled the pain causing temporary relief. I began thinking of the night before and how much I cried. I was such a whiny bitch. I couldn’t help it though. It’s so sad leaving my sister behind. She needs me. She’s still so young and naïve; she needs her older sister to help her through life. And she’s right in the middle of breaking up with her boyfriend which doesn’t make things any easier. I let out a soft sigh. I’d never seen her as happy as she was with him and now all that has temporarily gone to shit. I’m just glad her and I grew really close this past year. Something I had only dreamt of happening.

Mom dad both think it was incredibly stupid of me to move out. But they’re not me. And though what they say and do is with honest intentions, I’m a grown-ass woman who can make her own choices.

The train finally started to move. Slowly it crept forward, gaining more and more speed. I felt the steady vibrations from the wheels gliding across the tracks coarse through my body. It reminded me of being soaked in a nice, steamy hot tub.

I watched as the city grew smaller and smaller until my neck got tired and I stopped looking back. I smiled at the fact that I was finally saying goodbye to that place. My departure was way past due.

The land out here was hideous. Ridden with abandoned warehouses, dismantled fences, a few totaled cars, and no grass, just dirt with patches of water spread throughout. How did this place get so ugly? Surely, there was once a time when it was a bit easier on the eyes and didn’t appear to be the aftermath of a nuclear strike.

I felt a large lump in my throat. I’ve lived in this area all my life and I’ve ridden down these very same tracks when I’d go down to see Sydney and yet, this entire area was unfamiliar to me. It was completely new. The thought was disturbing.

I looked at one of the abandoned warehouses in the distance. The roof was caved in on one end. All the windows were busted out. And that’s when I spotted him. A man was standing behind one of the windows completely motionless. I just stared at him. Even at this distance, I could feel his eyes on me. He was watching me.

It must be a homeless man, I thought. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out homeless people sought refuge here. This is paradise compared to sleeping in gutters and being spit on by assholes walking by.

I looked back but the man was gone. A sudden icy wave went through my body down to my toes causing the hairs on my arm and neck to stand up, and my back grew stiff. I then felt compelled to scan the train car I was in.

Nobody was sitting next to me. An older man behind me was sitting alone. A young couple across the aisle. A little boy and girl sitting near a blonde woman who I assumed was their mother.

And that was it. Well, that was everyone I could see.

I sat back in my seat and tried to slow my breathing which became an exercise in futility. I didn’t like this feeling at all. Slowly, I was filling up with dread and I felt nauseous. Then my body started to shake and tremble before I was nearly thrown from my seat.

The train… the train was going off the tracks.

I couldn’t make sense of what was going on around me; it was all happening so fast. Bags flew across the aisle every which way. The little girl was thrown to the back of the car and I heard her smack into the glass sliding door. The sound was awful. It was like a sopping wet towel slapping the floor. I held onto the small headrest of the seat in front of me in a deathgrip and squeezed my eyes shut. I was going to die right here on this train. Oh fuck. Oh fuck.

I screamed.

The train shook violently more and more. I could hear cries and shrieks so loud I swore my eardrums were going to burst. I also heard loud pounding from behind me and when I looked back I saw the old man slamming his fists against the glass sliding door. Pointless, I thought.

And suddenly, it all stopped.

I stole a quick glance out the window and couldn’t believe what I saw. We were airborne. The train was fucking airborne. As we made our descent, I shut my eyes and screamed one last time.

 

Arrival

My head felt like it was going to explode. I couldn’t move. I slowly opened my eyes and felt the cool, light rain pepper my body as I stared up at the grey sky. I could hear someone groaning nearby, but I was too afraid to move. My bones felt frozen and my back glued to the mud.

“Help!” someone yelled. “Help me please!”

It was a man’s voice; raspy and baritone. In my head I told the man I could help. I told him everything was going to be ok and help was on its way. But still I lay in the mud helpless as ever. I started to hear what sounded like someone running towards me, their feet slapping the mud quickly and growing louder each second. Please help us, I thought to myself.

“Oh thank god,” the man said. “I’m so glad–wait, what the… What the fuck?! Get away from me!”

I heard a grunt and the man scream. A scream silenced soon after what sounded like popping and cracking. Now he was crying.

“Oh god please. Please help me. No, no!”

And then I could hear what sounded like slurping and crunching, the man crying and screaming. More crunches and chewing. Oh. My. God. Was he being..eaten? No. No fucking way.

His cries suddenly grew silent.

I felt tears stream down my face, but didn’t feel sad. I was scared to death. It began raining a little harder and it got a little colder so I closed my eyes. I couldn’t help but briefly wonder if the life I lived was enough. What was I leaving behind?

A few funny stories and pieces of art, some friends that thought they knew me but really didn’t, and maybe a few broken hearts and failed romances but nothing that lasted. I already felt dead. So maybe dying would be a little better.

I felt something hot against my neck. I opened my eyes and looked to my left and found myself staring into the dark blue eyes of some hideous creature. Its foul breath came at me in hot waves and made me gag. I turned away from it only to see another one of them standing over me, shaking and smiling.

It looked nearly human. It had a torso, arms, hair, and it stood on two bony legs. Its nose protruded from its face like an upside down coat hanger. But its eyes weren’t human, I knew that. They were large and round just like 50 cent pieces. And its mouth hung open revealing a set of sharp yellow canine teeth. The thing just looked down at me, shaking violently as it let out a low groan.

I then felt something on my back. One of them was lifting me off the ground with its bony arms. It was strong, too. Two more creatures appeared in front of me and I felt long, cold fingers drag down my back, cold fingers sliding underneath my shirt and tearing at my pants. I closed my eyes, weeping uncontrollably; screaming until I tasted blood. One of them grabbed my head in its hands and looked into my eyes, closely examining me before a long, thick, purple tongue rolled out of its mouth. I felt it slide across my face, down my neck and in my ear. I yelled at them to stop when the tongue slithered into my mouth. I tried to cry once I could feel hair and skin being pulled from my scalp.

As fingers clawed at my flesh, and teeth nibbled at my fingers and toes, tongues caressing every bit of my now exposed body, making their way into every orifice, I wondered why this had to happen to me.

What did I do to deserve this? What, in my entire lifetime, could I have possibly done to warrant such pain and torment? And that’s when I was absolutely certain there was no god. And if there is one, he’s twisted as fuck.

As I felt the last of the fingers on my right hand get chewed away, I threw up all over myself. This excited the creatures and they started panting and licking it off my body which made me vomit again, this time all over one of the creatures. It laughed hysterically and smeared it all over himself while another creature started to lick it off.

I became dead weight as pieces of my flesh were ripped and clawed and chewed off. My world went dark as flashes of red and blue and yellow danced in the darkness with me.

I felt enraptured.

The ice cold rain, the searing pain of my swollen, torn muscle tissue, the stimulation I received from my exposed nerve endings. I felt my back hit the mud once again. Did they drop me? Was I just a torso now? I kept bleeding and bleeding and the pool of blood crept over me and I felt the ground melt and become softer and softer as I began making my descent into the earth. I tried to open my eyes one last time, but I couldn’t. All I could see were the flashing lights dancing with me in the darkness.

 

Escape to Candyland

Put down your fucking drink and think for one second. You’re giving yourself a mini panic attack over nothing. She’s just a woman. A plain, simple, gorgeous woman. And you already know you’re handsome as hell. Shit, how many times have you had sex just this week? Yeah, you’re smooth so don’t bullshit around with this idea that you’re some hopeless oaf with zero chances with women. You’re getting laid tonight. Not by just any broad in this place. You want her.

What the hell is it about her that’s got you all flustered? This never happens and it’s a bit pathetic. Now finish your drink. Order a stronger one, you pussy. You don’t ever need the help of alcohol to talk to dames. This will be the one exception nobody will have to know about. The bartender notices you staring at her.

“She’s a 10,” he said.

You give him a polite nod as you bring the glass to your lips.

“She’s always in here, alone. Men are too chickenshit to even talk to her. Actually, I’ve had to beat the hell outta some fellas who thought it wise to get themselves shitfaced before talking to her. They’d be eating the sidewalk outside just as soon as they reached out to grope her.”

The sting of the alcohol feels electric. Your heartbeat reminds you of the task at hand. You attempt to order just one shot more. The bartender furrows his eyebrows at you and puckers his lips. An odd facial expression that no doubt meant you were about to regret making that decision. Instead, you slowly rise out of your chair and finally make your way to the end of the bar.

Her eyes are closed while her head moves from side to side ever so gently to the melody of True by Spandau Ballet. Her thick blonde curls cover her breasts, red lipstick, a small mole on her neck. Her eyebrows so thick and perfect. She makes you promises in silence.

I know this much is true.

You’re so close to her now that her perfume crawls up your nose and rings bells of pleasure in your head. An entire chorus rings out through your body and suddenly you feel the need to sit down. This angel was powerful.

Her eyes slowly opened, meeting yours immediately. You take a deep breath before putting on your most charming smile, which, after those drinks, was nearly impossible on account of your face being numb. You hope for the best.

Her smile was perfection. You wonder if she’s smiling because of you, or if she was smiling because of her. Did she find pleasure being impossible to get? Now you see her long eyelashes, one small dimple in each cheek. Are you sweating? Fuck. You feel your forehead recruiting moisture to gather ‘round for a grand appearance. Who cares? You complement her elegant white dress. You look more beautiful than anything I’ve ever seen, you hear yourself say out loud. She bats her lashes and looks down at her drink holding back a large smile. You tell about how you’ve been watching her all night. Not in a creepy way you quickly add. More like an admirable sort of way. You recount the slew of emotions you were hit with when you first saw her. You even happen to slip in a fantasy or two about taking her out to dinner or a movie sometime. Her dimples become larger with her smile. You even admire the way she tucks her hair back behind her ear. You inch closer.

“I’ve never felt this way with someone I’ve just seen. I usually never have feelings for the women I talk to.”

She cocked her head slightly to one side. What the hell were you thinking saying shit like that? Don’t get too personal. Just keep it surface and dive down only when absolutely necessary. Slow down and maybe let her take the reins for a bit.

That’s when you realize something.

I am so, so sorry. I haven’t even introduced myself. I’m Alex, you say with your hand out. She slowly slides her hand in yours, her warmth creeping through your fingers and up your arm, cascading through your entire body. You felt all her energy, it was incredible. You swallow hard and say she truly is the most beautiful woman you’ve ever seen in your entire life and even if she wasn’t into you, you absolutely had to know her name. She clears her throat, her grip tightening on your hand and says, “You can call me Candyland.” She leans even closer. “And I’ll be your woman for the night if that’s what you want.”

You watch her Adams apple jump up and down as she spoke. What was this? Have you just been touched by some miracle? The moisture on your forehead crawled down your face.

“You really aren’t like any dame I’ve ever met,” you say.

She says, “Baby know that. There’s just one major difference between me and the ordinary lady.”

“Oh yeah?” you say. “And what would that be?”

She’s now leaning so close you catch a whiff of her makeup. She whispers, “I have a fat cock,” and gives you a wink.

You have a very strange erection; palms sweating profusely. You thought she was joking until you watch as she groped herself revealing a swollen outline in between her legs that surely was not a vagina. Everyone in the bar is watching you, anticipating your next move. The only sound is the jukebox switching records. A thousand thoughts race through your head. You suddenly remember the time you first learned to ride a bike with no training wheels and chipped your front teeth. You remember stomping on bees in the field in elementary school. You remember asking Sarah to prom by hanging a sign from your neck saying, “Come Prom With Stupid?” Life flashed before your eyes. This was another one of those pivotal moments. Your life was suspended in this moment.

You lick your lips and quickly wipe your forehead with the sleeve of your jacket and say,

“So, Candyland, your place or mine?”

She agrees to let you take her home with you. Every seat in the bar is empty due to the standing ovation you receive. You see one guy slowly nodding his approval, another gives you two thumbs up, bottles of champagne are being popped open, someone grabs a microphone and delivers a heartwarming speech recognizing the immense bravery you displayed tonight. Men line up to shake your hand and you swear you even see one guy wiping tears from his eyes.

You smile down at your date as the two of you walk to the exit. She wraps an arm around your waist and rests her head on your shoulder. You kiss the top of her forehead as you exit the bar hearing the jukebox start playing Urge Overkills hit tune, “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon.”

A note from Cynthia

Dear Lucille,

I hate this complex delirium.

How am I supposed to hold down a relationship when nothing makes me happy, nothing satisfies me. Maybe I should’ve thought more about this before Jake asked me out. Now we’re three weeks in and I’m certain he knows I’ve been cheating on him with his friend Tyler. And Josh. Oh, Brandon and Lance as well. I don’t count his brother since he didn’t cum.

Part of me likes to think I know what I’m doing. Part of me also likes to think I’m an incredibly sweet, genuine, honest girl. I didn’t plan to cheat on any of my boyfriends. What kind of person would I be if I did? There are times, however, when it is premeditated but usually only when I’m going thorough my dieting regiments that require me to take this supplement that makes me incredibly horny nearly all day everyday. The slightest thing turns me on. I’ll be at the grocery store and walk into the same aisle as another man and my crotch immediately gets warm and moist. My mouth  gets a little dry and the tip of my nose gets cold. A strange combination, I know.

I have a profile on nearly 15 dating websites. Take that as you will but I swear to god I’m not desperate. It’s just like using a filter on single dudes without having to go through all the trouble of having a slightly awkward conversation with them at the bar while my brain seeps in shots of whipped cream vodka. It’s much easier to setup casual encounters with complete strangers this way. Granted, there are countless creepy perverts who shamelessly beg for me to fulfill their sexual fantasies. One guy wanted me to fuck him with a 13 inch dildo while wearing a clown suit with the makeup and everything. He told me he would film it and send it to his family.

I’m a whore. I know that and it doesn’t bother me. The only problem is that now I’m treading in some deep water because for whatever reason all these one night stands aren’t enough. I need a steady relationship and yet I can’t have sex with just one man. Unfortunately, it’s not considered normal to cheat on your partner several times with multiple men with no remorse and yet it’s something I find to be vital to my well-being. Hopefully I won’t get caught anytime soon. I should probably stop making sex tapes before my boyfriend finds out.

Please respond ASAP. I lost your number and I’ll need someone to talk to when shit hits the fan.

Yours truly,

Cynthia

the worst headache ever

It was a day just like any other.

I grabbed my freshly waxed surfboard and made my way to the summit of Machu Picchu.  It was a perfect day with not a single cloud in the sky. I followed the one and only trail I knew to the top and after a few hours, I finally reached the peak.

Just then the blue sky turned dark. Lightning snaked its way across the darkness. A large pool of lava began to swell up from the eastern side of the mountain. I sprinted towards the lava with the surfboard tucked under my arm, the ground shaking underneath my bare feet. As I closed the last few feet between me and the bubbling lava, I hopped on my board and slid right into the scorching liquid. I was one with the mountain.

Faster and faster I sped down Machu Picchu. I could hear the birds and the echoing calls of the Alpaca cheer me on. To my left, I noticed a small child, or perhaps it was a midget, holding up a sign that read, “Your limits are illustrations of your weakness.”

I dipped my hand in the lava as I surfed. It felt quite strange. It felt as if my hand was submerged in vibrating iced-water while dozens of slimy earthworms twisted around my fingers. Just then, I heard something fly past my head. I looked around expecting to find something, anything. Before I was able to locate the unidentified flying object, my board reached the base of the mountain. I hopped off and wiped my hands on my shorts. That’s when I heard the whistling sound.

When I opened my eyes it was dark. Like, stare at the back of your eyelids dark. I felt a dull pain behind my eyes and when I tried sitting up a wild throbbing came to life in my temples. I brought my pointer and middle fingers to my head and lightly touched the large bandage. It was moist from either my blood or sweat. Or both. Whatever it was, it had to do with the flying object I spotted earlier. Too bad I couldn’t even figure out what that thing was or how it could hurt me. Oh, hell.. I wasn’t hurt. What am I thinking?

I ignored the pain and stood up. My eyes began to adjust to the dark room and I began to look around for any hints of my location. I heard an engine roar to life from outside the room I was in. It sounded like a small car, maybe even a scooter. Then another engine, and another. Then came cheering and laughing. The laughing wasn’t like any laughter I ever heard. This was hysterical, crazed laughing coming from the mouths of psychopaths. The vehicles outside were peeling out causing a vast spray of rocks and dirt to pepper the outer wall. I shuffled over to a corner of the room and crouched down. That’s when I began to smell smoke.

I didn’t notice the temperature get any warmer or change at all. But that unmistakable scent of smoke lingered around me. Soon after I picked up on the smell, I began hearing the structure creak and moan under some sort of pressure. I stood up and slowly walked around the room with my arms held out. I brushed against a thin pillar that stood somewhere near the corner I was in. For some reason, I felt compelled to put my ear against the pillar. I did. I could hear what sounded like water rushing through pipes. What did all this mean? The creaking became much louder now, banging noises caused me to jump. Then the screams. The screams were muffled at first until the roof gave way and the flames snaked down the walls while several bodies fell and piled into the room.

Some were still alive, squirming around, holding their arms out hoping to have someone pull them to safety. Smoke trailed out of the mouths of those who had enough energy to cry out in pain. Charred, black bodies lay motionless among the suffering. What was I supposed to do? I was trapped. I was finally able to get a glimpse of the room I had been kept in and noticed that it was completely empty except for a single blanket that was now on fire. I had to get away from the screaming. I was driving me mad. I looked up through the hole in the ceiling and saw part of the roof still intact while most of it appeared to have burned away. I could also make out the night sky. My only chance at escape was up. I had to climb, but it was too high.

I had to find a way. I quickly began piling up the cooked bodies on top of eachother. One of the bodies I grabbed belonged to a young woman whose eyelids were burnt off. She begged me to take her with me. I said no.

When I finally climbed up through the hole in the ceiling I immediately found an opening to the outside that I jumped out of. I landed on a pile of dirt and rocks; it was comfortable here. As I stared up at the night sky, the cries of the people burning pierced the silence, rudely molesting the sanctity of the night. I forgave them, for their souls were already condemned. Everything was going well in life. I must confess, my only anxiety is the whereabouts of my surfboard.