Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Letter Found Near The End

Dear Them,

In the beginning, we believed the fairy tales, the myths, the legends. We took all of the stories, processed them, embraced them, and savored them as Truth. This was in the days when The Light seemed to go on forever, when the sun stood overhead as a silent sentry watching over us and protecting us from the darkness on the edges of our enchanted places. Those were the days when we did not know any better.

But those days ended (as we always knew they must), and we were cast outwards into the unknown, to places where not even moonlight could break through to light the shadows in the underbrush all around, where unseen things crept ever closer. We jumped at the sound of breaking branches and shuffling leaves. We turned in circles, blind. We entered the night without dreams where stark reality ruled and cast away our visions and pleasantries, where nightmares replaced dreams, and horrors replaced fantasies.

We learned of murder, rape, and thievery. We committed necessary acts hoping to survive in this new world, the real world, where we never smiled. We missed those days of before when this present was the only thing we were incapable of imagining.

We despaired over the loss of daylight, the lack of kindness and happy endings. That was what led us here into this place beyond the fringe, to the land where stories are never told, and where books are used as kindling.

Our legends faded. The myths dissolved like vapors. The stories … We missed them. Once forgotten, we buried them in the mulch. Worms ate them, and we tasted rot in the air. We found it a sweet stench: earthy, real.

In the end, we lay down with our fading stories as our memories drowned. We fell down onto a mound of water-stained pages and inkblots. We closed our eyes and went to sleep, knowing that our sleep would be dreamless.

We stared upwards, watching, as clouds hid constellations whose names we could no longer remember.

And when The End came, we embraced it.



Thursday, August 19, 2010

Socrates at the Strip Mall

A class of children sat in a circle at the back of a parking lot. In the center of this circle, a man stood and talked to his young congregation. The man swept his arms behind him with a dramatic flourish. “You see, our story is indelible, written into the very fabric of this world. Look at this cliff. Look here at the layers of stone in this spot revealed when they blasted away a hill to make room for this shopping center. You can see our history. It is written in fossils, obviously, yet also in languages more subtle, if not downright obscure. Notice the striations in the rock, the shifts of color in various layers of soil. Yes, there is writing here. There are stories. You just have to look.”

“I see,” said a broken prepubescent squeal.

“You do? What do you see, Tye?”

“Uhm. What you told me to see.”

“Ah. What if I told you the earth was flat? Would you believe me then?”

Ginger Farrell raised her hand. The teacher lifted his head and pointed his thin chin in her direction. “Yes, Ms. Farrell?”

She swished her head and moved a lock of blonde hair away from her eyes. She held her pen in her hand. The pen sat poised and ready over the colorful notebook in her lap. “Is the world flat, Mr. Jenkins?" She asked the question without a smile. Her face wore the vacant look of sincerity.

Mr. Jenkins slapped his forehead with his palm in an overtly dramatic gesture of frustration.

The children laughed uneasily.

Mr. Jenkins wondered if they even understood the joke? He doubted it. If so, they wouldn’t laugh. It wasn’t funny. It wasn’t funny at all.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Mirror Image

The first time I saw him, his face was pounded in. It was nothing more than bits of bone and flesh and a pool of blood. He was beautiful in his way, a masterpiece of the grotesque, but he wasn’t my type, so I ignored him. He croaked like a toad and gargled fluids.

The next time I saw him, he looked much better. His face had mostly healed. Scars crisscrossed his cheeks and forehead. Yet, his skin was a bit too pale and swollen, unnaturally so, almost like a mushroom. I thought if I touched his face that my hand would sink right in, leaving an impression, like a mushy foam pillow or something. He smiled at me, and I shuddered. I didn’t like the way he looked. Not at all.

The last time I saw him. He was immobile. He was still. He was dead, or at the least, he was dying. A pool of blood originating from a slit neck spread outwards around his head like a strange, gory halo.

My mirror fell forward and shattered into a million reflections. I never knew his name, but at that moment, I knew he meant everything.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Seth was not sure how much time had passed. The sun had set and risen and set again and again. He lost track of the days. Time did not seem to matter. The shipwreck was already a fading memory. He only knew it had been a long time ago.

Seth’s lips always felt dry no matter how much he licked them with his swollen tongue. His skin was burned. The sun beat down against him relentlessly in the morning until early afternoon.

Luckily, rains fell frequently in the tropics. During the afternoon showers, he sat in the boat with his head turned upwards and mouth open. He drank in the salty sky during those afternoon storms while clinging to the sides of his boat as it rocked and rolled to a soundtrack of thunder. When he was hungry, he gnawed on the bones of his friends.

He survived.

And the sky told him stories when he decided to pay attention. Clouds shifted into the shape of girls, and sometimes, he would smile and feel himself when he had the strength. He remembered the touch of a girl back on the mainland. It had been a long time ago, in another life, in his old school, but the memory was enough to stir him. He sometimes almost felt alive.

He began talking to the gulls until one day they answered him. He did not like the stories the birds told, however, so he blocked out their prattle. He tried to forget their language. One of the gulls grew annoyed with him as it screeched out for attention. Once the gull realized Seth was ignoring him, it dropped a big, wet, white bomb on the boy’s head. Seth laughed, leaned over the wooden sides of his lifeboat, and rinsed the excrement from his shaggy unkempt hair in the ocean.

Underwater, he opened his eyes. He saw mermaids down there, but they were all being raped by sharks. The mermaids screamed up to him for help. Those cries for help soon turned into bubbly terror as the waters became pink and then burgundy. The sharks looked up to Seth through the clouded waters with dark, beady, uncaring eyes. There was no hunger there – just hatred. Seth pulled his head back out of the water and spent the remainder of the afternoon watching shark fins circle him. He tried to decipher the patterns of their movement.

Seth gnawed on John’s femur one night. Upon reaching the marrow, he heard John talking, but the words were obscure. Seth turned around and there was John. Seth’s best friend’s face was distorted. It was pulled too taught, as if it were an elastic sheet stretched over a crudely shaped metal frame. There were no arms on the figure, no legs. It was as if John were made out of transparent gauze. John was nothing more than a distorted face and bare torso. Seth reached out for John. Seth said he was sorry, but John wasn’t really there. John faded into the clouds and rose upwards. Eventually, the cloudy thing that was not John blocked the light of the moon.

Stars swirled above Seth in the darkness, and he traced their lines in the sky. Once the stars provided direction to sailors, but Seth did not know anything about that. The GPS ran out of batteries long ago.

The shark fins circled in concentric patterns.

Seth looked towards the pile of bones. He grew sick and vomited over the side of the boat. Gulls descended out of the darkness of sky and lapped up the slick of his sickness from the swelling surface of the endless ocean.

Seth asked the gulls if they were hungry in their secret language. The birds regarded him with darkness in their eyes. Their squawks became laughter as they descended and tore away flesh with hard beaks.

He survived.

A ship emerged. It ascended from the distant horizon and grew larger until it towered over him. Seth was brought onboard. The men on the ship asked Seth his name, but the boy could no longer speak their language. The gulls stripped his humanity away, leaving him a shark. Dark eyes gleamed under the moonless sky. The boy bared his teeth, rushed at the men, and began to bite.

Above him, the thing that was not John smiled.