An Empty Glass

It had been two weeks since I heard from Rachel, so it’s safe to assume she got the money. I was nearly broke and could no longer afford her coke habit so I sent her downtown to ask for a loan from Ricky Palmer, told her he’s especially generous with broads and could work out something special for her. But I knew if I sent her to Ricky I wouldn’t see her again unless I went to Miami where Ricky sent all his girls.

I went for another swig of the 151 but only diluted cola and ice hit my lips which sent an unreasonable wave of anger through my chest like a flame dancing across a haystack. I sucked some spilled coke off my thumb and looked at my watch. It was broken, but it’s a natural thing people do it seems, and if there were as many eyes on me as I thought there were then I would look normal. I couldn’t get myself to meet the eyes of the other patrons in fear they would sense my bloodlust and confront me about it. I imagine they’d sit next to me and ask why I was so damn crazy and why I was always so sad and I would just stare up at them and ask who do they think they are to ask me such personal questions? They would laugh and shake their head and whisper to the other patrons about how crazy I was and how pathetic I was and I’d shrink back into my empty glass and ask the bartender to drown me in the good stuff.

But then another patron would approach me with a concerned expression asking why I wanted to harm them. I would smile to myself as thoughts raced faster than I could make sense of them at the sheer overwhelming thought of conveying the slightest justification for my irrational behavior. My tongue tied, I’d look at them and say, “It’s a funny, long story!” But this concerned patron wouldn’t back off. They kept pestering me, their expression desperate as they sacrificed themselves to my madness. I explained to them how my circumstances proved a fine environment for something to manifest itself inside my chest and take hold of my existence and drag me down as to stay close to the earth where it meant to plant its roots but I always had the desire to fight it. And why I fought it I couldn’t make clear at first other than calling it human nature, a survival instinct. Something that transcended conscious desire. And as my chest was busy weaving this mess of pain into something tangible my mind constructed walls in response to seeds of malice and hatred coming to fruition but in its haste left many vulnerabilities. The darkness was swift and unforgiving as it illuminated my mind and my eyes betrayed me at every turn and my lips lost their ability to translate the chaos. With a shaky hand I tried conveying the madness and for a time it worked until what I was experiencing became so tiring that it stilled my hands and I closed my eyes and waited for the sun to go down before I’d open them again.

Drugs became appealing and for a time they were good. Until the moment came when my existence no longer allowed the relationships I held with the people who had the drugs and I was back in my bed, eyes closed, thoughts racing while I watched from a distance. I started to have the desire to watch myself bleed and so found a razor and drew lines in my arms and legs and felt the wounds send a rush of delicious chemicals through my body that said it was good. Then one day I cut too deep and bled too much and my cover was blown. It was now apparent there was something wrong and it drew attention to myself and I quickly began plotting my response to this exposure. And then it became time to recede back into the shadows and watch the world from my safe place. And the longer I waited the crazier the world seemed. So I’d wander into the world and watched closely the interactions of others and wondered if they were me and how many of them were just doing things to appear normal, like checking their watches while waiting.

At this point I noticed nobody was listening, as the seats next to me were empty as was the entire bar. I called for another 151 despite the bartender being nowhere in site. I traced my initials into the counter and smiled at the thought of lighting someone on fire. I felt myself swell between the legs and knew it was time to go.

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Sugar Boy Santi

     I hate the sun. It burns my skin and brings out the worst in me. My balls sweat, my ass sweats, my back, and my pits. They all sweat and they all stink. Makes me hate myself so much more. I’m a vile piece of shit.

     I spit on the sidewalk as I start walking down my block. 30 minutes ago I was in the field by Hastings park smoking with some random. We matched, but his shit was pure fire. I always smoke good shit, but whatever he smoked me put me on my ass, literally. I couldn’t get up. I finally did after realizing I had to be home soon to watch my baby brother while mom went to work. I hate her so much, but for some reason I still care. Some part of me still cares about some part of her. Truth is, she makes me sick with anger and sadness. One time when I was younger I came home late from a friends birthday and she punched me so hard in the stomach I was puking and pissing blood. That was just one of many beatings I got. Seriously, fuck her, but she’s family. You have to stick with family, right? I’m not so sure about that these days.

     I pulled the pack of Marb Reds out of my pocket and felt for the half smoked one I was saving. I stopped to light it, took in a deep drag, and blew the silver cloud of smoke skyward. “Fuck you,” I said to no one in particular.

     That’s when I heard barking.

     To my left was a dog with its head buried in my neighbors shitty vegetable garden. Who the fuck has a vegetable garden in their front yard right next to the fucking road? This old, senile bitch that lives here, that’s who. Anyways, I burned the rest of my cig and flicked it into her yard before walking over to the garden. “Sup, pooch,” I said. “Who do you belong to?” It stopped digging to look back at me with the dumbest look on its face. I hate dogs. Especially this dog which was in my neighborhood without a god damn collar. “Looks like you’re mine now.”

     The dog went back to digging. I jogged next door to my house, my sweaty thighs grinding against each other like two slabs of rotten meat, increasing the moisture and stink with every stride. My mom was already in the driveway loading up her car with her lunch, coffee, and a change of clothes. She works downtown at a pub called Harry’s.

     “What’re you running for?” she asked.

     “I didn’t want to be late.”

     “Get inside and make your brother some food. He hasn’t eaten all day. You might have to change him too, he smells like shit.”

     “Got it.”

     “Hey,” she said.

     “What?”

     “Where’s my hug?”

     Fuck. I hate being touched. I held my breath and wrapped an arm around her, making sure only half my body touched.

     “You better love your mother. I do everything for you.”

     “Okay.”

     “I’ll be home in the morning. Don’t go anywhere, you can’t leave your brother home by himself.”

     I went into the house and walked through the family room to get to my room where I had the dog collar I found at Hastings about a year ago. I walked back out into the family room and noticed my brother was laying on his stomach watching cartoons. His diaper was off and he had shit caked all over his ass and a puddle of piss next to his head. I pulled back the curtains to make sure mom was gone. She was.

     I went into the kitchen and opened a bag of fruit snacks and brought them to my brother. “I’ll change you when I get back, okay?”

     He sat up and stuffed a handful of the gummies into his mouth, drooling all over himself. I rubbed the top of his head and went out the back door.

     My backyard is weird. There’s a massive forest behind the house but there’s a chain link fence blocking it off. Of course I dug a hole underneath to slide in and out of, and I plan to cut a section of the fence out soon. We also have a shed that was here when we moved in. It was stocked with a lawn mower, weed whacker, machetes, tools, ropes, lights, boxes of Christmas decorations, cans of gasoline, broken toys, an air rifle, golf clubs, frisbees, a wheelbarrow, and a volleyball net. I grabbed some rope, the machete and the pickaxe.

     I threw them over the fence. I then ran back to my neighbors garden. My taint burned. It’s full of hair and salty sweat grinding into my flesh. Whatever, I just got a new dog to play with. Of course it was still there digging for who-the-fuck-knows-what. I slapped the collar on it without a problem and walked it back to my place. The hardest part of this whole thing was getting the damn dog under the fence. So, yeah, I threw it over too.

     It whimpered as it hit the ground. It’s game on now. I’m practically alone back here. One neighbor is a reclusive old hag and the other neighbor just moved out. I pressed my knee into the dogs side to gain leverage while I tied its arms and legs together. It cried and barked, but never tried to bite. I’m willing to bet he was used as a watchdog and the owners realized he’s as useless as a broken smoke detector.

     I tied another end of the rope over a branch and levied the pooch so it was hanging upside down at eye level. Now it was trying to bite me. “It’s about time,” I said reaching into my pocket for the Marbs. I popped another 100 between my lips, sparked it, and sucked in for a few seconds before blowing out a mushroom cloud of cancer into the dogs face. I laughed, he whimpered. I pulled my fist over my head and brought it down on the dogs cheek. I heard my knuckle pop. The pooch yelped. I cut my finger on its teeth, wiped the blood on my shirt, and brought down three more punches on his face. He was sneezing and I noticed a little blood coming from its nose. I took a few more drags and stared at him with a deep loathing. I looked over at my tools. I didn’t want to kill him too fast so I grabbed the machete.

     I slapped it in the face with the blade. “Hey, buddy. What’s your name, huh? I’m sick of callin’ you pooch. What should I call you? How about Zeus? I like that one.” I hacked into Zeus’s side. The skin burst open and a gush of hot blood painted my face.

    “Fuck!” I said. It was in my god damn eyes and up my nose. I could hear the dog crying and barking and making other noises I didn’t even think dogs could make. Low whines mixed with high-pitched wails. I rubbed most of the blood out of my eyes with my shirt just enough to see again. Holy shit, did I hit a fucking artery? Zeus was swinging back and forth in pain, trying desperately to escape. It looked so ridiculous I laughed. There was a hole in his side the size of a coffee mug oozing blood like a leaky gutter. I swung the machete into its side again, hitting bone with a wet thwack causing me to nearly drop the machete. I starting cackling and realized I was burned all over my lips from the now extinguished cigarette. The dog was thrashing side to side so hard the wounds were tearing open even further, rivers of blood falling freely down its fur. I looked up at the sky and took in a few deep breaths. I was winded. The dog let out some low howls, I continued staring up at the sky. I could faintly hear my baby brother crying.

     I tossed the machete down and went for the pickaxe. I’m not much of a baseball player, but I know how to hold a bat. I held that pickaxe with perfect form like I was at the world series, bases loaded, all eyes on me. “Knock it outta the park, DiMaggio.” I swung with all my strength. The tip met ribs, broke ribs, and stuck into the tree, pinning the dog against it. What a site. It looked too perfect, like a photograph. I laughed, the pooch was silent, but shaking uncontrollably. I knew I did well, I knew it. Too bad nobody was around to see my work. They would be witnesses to a game-winning hit. I went back for the machete and executed the dog Los Zetas style. I sawed into its throat like I was cutting down a tree. Sweat poured down my face coating my cracked lips with salty blood. I was shaking almost as badly as the dog, my machete digging deeper into its throat. Beautiful crimson waves crashed over my hands. The blood smelled so metallic. I started sawing into the bone but couldn’t get it through the vertebrae. They make it look so easy in the videos. I was getting exhausted. I stopped sawing and started hacking. Each hit caused a small burst of blood to rocket towards me and explode all over my body. I started hacking harder and faster, the sensual feeling of being showered in blood driving every muscle in my body to keep going until the deed was done. I finally made it through the bone, threw down the machete, and used my hands to twist off the head.

     I held it up to the sun and smiled. The blood dripped down my arm and pooled in my armpit. I didn’t even want to shower.

Evil Dame

Today Earth will banish an abomination. Queen Denna, the most sinister creature to walk the planet, will be sent to a prison beyond the cosmic horizon with the aid of ancient magic.

The queen emerged from the lake of fire to face her captors.

As soon as she stepped on shore, the Elder warlocks bowed. They all wore robes comprised of so many exotic colors they looked like spiral galaxies.

The queen scoffed. “You’re embarrassing yourselves. Whether it’s respect or tradition making you bow before me, you look like fools. You’re masters of magic, and you bow to me?

Before the Queen could say another word, a blow knocked her to her knees.

“Then you may bow before me, mortal,” a voice from behind her said.

“God of Jupiter, Lord of Magicians, Shamuk,” the warlocks said in unison before sinking into a deeper bow.

“You feel strong and heroic hitting a women with her back turned, Shamuk? the Queen said.

Shamuk hovered three feet above the sand wielding his staff above her head. “Silence, you wicked bitch, and look into my eyes.”

The Elder warlocks stood in a circle around the queen, frantically tracing symbols in the air in front of them while Shamuk recited the incantation to invoke the guidance of the Serpents, one of the first creatures to slither into the darkness before there was a shred of light. They were the only creatures who could pass through the furthest, darkest parts of space without being torn to pieces by endless chaos. The queen would be bound on the backs of these serpents enduring legendary suffering for thousands of years before reaching the deep cosmic prison.

An event like this is extremely rare, the serpents only existed in stories. The most well known story: the banishment of a tainted soul to the most foul depths of all existence, breaching barriers of time and space, riding on vessels of nightmares.

As the Queen looked into Shamuk’s eyes, she witnessed her fate. She could feel herself moving through the air, cold and hot. The Queen could see stars passing by faster than she could process them. Strange noises all around, thunder and screaming, explosions and high-pitched battle cries, laughter. Wars were raging all around her. Hordes of beasts with no faces appear from nothingness, running through space like a fucked up nightmare. They were running towards her. Those battle cries, they were screaming her name. Stars began to explode and light up the darkness, exposing the infinite number of beasts running at her.

The serpent rode faster and faster as the number of creatures grew so large they were ripping holes in space, exposing unfathomable evil waiting for her on the other side. “Queen,” they said, “minion” others said, “Denna, my bride.”

Shamuk closed his eyes.

Blood

Watching yourself bleed out is a surreal experience. Imagine the endless bright red arterial bursts spraying your face and clothes. You can’t cover the wound with a tissue, that’s obvious. So you reach for the hand towel. Within 5 seconds it’s completely soaked and the blood drips in a steady stream off the corner. You place another towel over the wound and apply pressure. You soon find yourself in a cold sweat, short of breath, and trying as hard as you can to keep your eyes open.

You’re so tired. The wound shoots the blood in all directions. Crumbling to the floor, you try to cry. But you can’t; you’re already dead.

Red lights, blue lights. The crackle of a radio. You watch the paramedic’s lips move,

“Another one. Call it in, Ted”

Ted pockets a small notepad before grabbing the radio, “We’ve got a 10-40 from what looks like a 10-49.  Loading the body before en route to Bellevue General.”

I watched them carefully move my body into the signature black body bag we’ve all seen a hundred times. One of them looked at me and said, “What’re you doing? Don’t just stand there! Give us a hand.”

Just before I could react, another paramedic passed right through me. I didn’t feel anything, but seeing it happen almost made me laugh. After they loaded me into the back of the ambulance, I decided to wander around the neighborhood.

I walked past Ken and Susan’s mailbox and stared up into one of the lit windows. Susan was staring out at me. Her and I used to get along. I would sometimes babysit her dogs and take them for walks and she’d pay me piles of cash. But ever since I’ve been home from prison she acts like she’s afraid of me. I wonder if she’s scared right now. I hope so.

There’s an old man who lives across the street from me. He molested his granddaughter. Every time I went outside to check the mail he’d be sitting in a lawn chair with the radio on listening to the game. On hot days when you’d want to open a window, you could always hear the commentary blasting through those little speakers. The poor guy was nearly deaf. There was a rumor that he videotaped the rape he committed. The state tried charging him with distributing child pornography but they never found any evidence so the charges were dropped. I’ve always wanted to see that videotape.

His front door was unlocked. I went in and headed for the stairs. Once I reached the top, I looked up and down the hallway. The place was a mess. Boxes stacked everywhere, papers scattered, cat shit nearly covering the floor, soiled diapers here and there. It must’ve smelled disgusting, but I couldn’t smell. His house was so foul it angered me. I should just strangle him in his sleep or set this place on fire. But first, the video tape.

I entered one of the rooms that was missing a door. It was odd to see a cradle sitting in the dead center of the room. I took small steps towards it stepping in pile after pile of cat shit. I heard the old man start coughing down the hall. It was one of those lung-clearing wet coughs that made me want to puke. Filthy bastard. People like him make me want to murder. I got to the crib and looked down at what appeared to be a pile of dirty clothes. I leaned a little closer and jumped back as three or four cats jumped out.

I cursed and regained my balance. That’s when I noticed the pile of VHS tapes stacked in the corner. There had to be at least 30 of them in a pile next to a television set with a large crack on the screen. I picked one up off the pile and read the label. Written in black sharpie: “My Love”

I laughed. My wound started bleeding again. I looked down and noticed I was naked. I got on my knees and loaded the tape.

I turned the knob to the ON position only to be greeted by a storm of white noise. I pressed play.

The first image was a birthday banner that read, “Happy Birthday, Casey!” The tape began to turn fuzzy just before a tiny girl stepped into the frame. The camera man said, “Casey, tell the camera what you’ll be doing today.”

The little girl smiled. “I’m going to show you how to do a hand stand!”

“Very good,” he said. “Can you take your shirt off for us?”

“Ummm, why?”

“Because it would be fun. It would be exciting.”

The little girl took off her shirt. “Grandpa, it’s cold. Can I please keep my shirt on?”

“No, dammit!”

The girl jumped.

“I’m sorry, honey. Grandpa lost his temper. Just be a good girl and take off the rest of your clothes.”

“Grandpa, I’m scared. I don’t want to do this anymore.”

“Do you wanna get spanked, young lady?”

“No,” the girl said with tears running down her face.”

“THEN TAKE THEM OFF!”

The girl was crying silently.

“John, what’re you doing?”

I spun around and looked behind me. There in the doorway stood the old man.

“I was just-”

Before I could finish, he spoke again, “John, what’re you doing? That’s what her father said to me when he caught me fucking her.”

I couldn’t say anything.

“Luckily he had caught me right as I was finishing or there might have been a scuffle. Well, I guess I was being sloppy and should’ve locked the door.”

I swallowed and noticed the old man was completely naked.

“Yup,” he continued. “I haven’t talked to my son in ten years. I miss him. I miss her… We were in love.”

I started hearing a man moaning coming from the television speakers. I looked at the screen and what I saw instantly aroused me.

“You and I are going to burn in hell,” the old man said.

“Sure.”

“I’m not bullshitting you, kid. We’re the rejects. The bottom of the barrel. The worthless scum on the bottom of society’s shit-caked boots. We were never meant to be born. Hell, I died long ago but my shitty luck kept me here. ”

“Hell isn’t real,” I said.

The old man laughed. “You don’t have to believe in it for it to be real. But I can assure you it’s very real. I’ll be there pretty soon myself.”

“Hey, kid!” the television said.

I looked at the picture but it was just more white noise. “Hey, kid!”

“What is this?” I asked.

The old man walked out of the room but I heard him say, “It’s your reckoning.”

I looked back at the television, but it was turned off. The knob was still in the ON position.

“Kid! Come here, quick!” The voice now sounded like it was in the room with me.

“Where? Where do I go?” I said.

“Over here, just a little closer.”

The deep voice came from all sides. I felt a sting on my arm and noticed the blood gushing out, soaking the wood floor. My teeth. One by one they were falling out of my mouth. I screamed. The agonizing pain made me shake. I went to pick them up and my fingernails were torn off. I screamed so loud my throat started bleeding.

The pain was like a hot white light electrocuting my every sense.

My hair was falling out.

I felt my ribs crack.

My right arm snapped in half.

“Come here, kid. Hurry!” and then laughter.

The room was spinning and I felt like puking. “Stop,” I said. “Please, I’ll do anything. Please. Just stop.”

Laughter filled the entire room. I opened my eyes only to be staring into the eyes of everyone I knew. My family, old friends, my neighbors, cell mates, coworkers, ex girlfriends. They were all there looking down at me. Hundreds of heads looking down and laughing. They started to vomit all over my body. I writhed in blood and puke. Leave me alone, I heard myself say. Go away. Just leave me alone. But my lips couldn’t move.

“Get ready, kid. You’re about to go on a journey of a lifetime.”

“But I didn’t get to say goodbye.”

“Who would you say goodbye to? You have nobody!”

All the heads roared with laughter. I noticed some of them didn’t have eyes. Their skin was changing. The room was changing.

I was on fire.

“No! Please no!” I screamed.

It hurts so bad. I can’t stand it. Somebody save me. I need help. I could feel the skin of my face tighten up and crack. My stomach was blistering and the skin tearing itself apart. My screams were swallowed up by the dozens of screams from all around me.

I laid there by myself screaming for just one person to be by my side while I burned in this house of fire.

Then there was no sound. I couldn’t close my eyes because the eyelids were burned off. I stared into the empty faces of people I’ve never met. They were burning just as I was. They screamed, but I could not hear them.

I watched my chest crack open, the fat crackling and dripping to the floor. My flesh fell in globs. I struggled for air and swallowed fire.

I sink in an ocean of flame. Hands reach out to save me, but they’re always just out of reach. A tunnel of hands grabbing at me, each pulling off a chunk of flesh.

This is liberation. Pull off my mask and let me be reborn.

Hell + Death Rant

I want to add a disclaimer before you read any further. I’ve gained some of my followers through my simple rants on film and life. This particular post goes a little deeper and is a bit darker than my other posts so it’s understandable that some may find it unsettling and quite possibly depressing.

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Lately I’ve been thinking more and more about what Hell would be like if it were real. If you had the chance to see it, would you want to? If you could spend a day there, would you go? Of course, many would instantly turn down such an opportunity. Personally, I wouldn’t be too fond of constant torture and unimaginable torment. If I were able to visit Hell without the painful repercussions, I’d be there in a flash.

Then again, Hell simply wouldn’t be Hell if you didn’t experience it. I believe such a place is beyond our comprehension and to sit behind a viewing glass would be futile. It’s not something you see with your two eyes. It encapsulates your soul and grinds it against flaming spikes and peels the skin from your face, down your back and slices the soles of your feet. The most unsettling experience of Hell would be the complete molestation of the consciousness. Perhaps a stage or method of torment would be the disfigurement of the physical body—but the rules of our world don’t apply here. In Hell, you’re there for the long haul. Eternity as they call it. Your body is forever a slave to the lusts and desires of the demons and entities which reside in the deepest cracks of the darkest voids.

Driving on my way to school this morning, I spotted two crosses hammered into the grass next to the highway. I usually never think twice about these things but this particular morning I thought about how morbid it is. At first I considered the fact that such things should be reserved for a cemetery but I remembered these crosses are just simple memorials and reminders to others to be careful on the roads. Maybe they even provide a sense of closure to the family and friends. Anyways, what if we had one of these crosses at the location of every place someone has died? I’m not talking about having them in hospitals and in homes, but public places. Places that you may pass by each day on your way to school or work or the shop. You could be going out to eat and there’s a cross hanging next to a table where a man clutched his chest in horror as his heart gave out, you’re in town shopping and pass by several crosses on the sidewalk where fatal muggings took place. And how horrible would it be to pick up your son or daughter from school and find tiny crosses in the lawn, on the steps, in classrooms and in the cafeteria. It’s even safe to say you may find some in a movie theater.

I’d wish to go a level deeper and wonder how many civilians have met their fate to mortars, machine gun fire, car bombs and chemical weapons. In the United States, we hear about this type of things only happening in the Middle East or Africa. I daresay if they happened in America we’d be encountering these cross memorials much more often. And then what purpose would they serve? What could we as a people possibly gain from these constant reminders of death? Would it be an increased appreciation of life or mourning for the dead? What if it’s both? I’m willing to bet several people would argue that is the current state of affairs; we don’t need these memorials to remind us how precious life is or for us to be sad over the dead who we believe died an untimely death. We don’t need these reminders because we have the television and Internet, two excellent news feeds providing each day with morbid realities and distractions to keep us going.

Side note: If you want to be part of a community who’s really into horror, go here: http://instasynch.com/rooms/mroddish/

It’s a great group of people, friendly and funny!

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.

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.