Archive for September, 2016

Storytime: Bad Wind.

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016

Holy shit holy shit holy shit holy
Oh good. It hasn’t hit yet; it isn’t here; you’ve got time.
Listen you’ve got to earnestly pardon my French, German, English, Croatian, and Proto-Indo-European because this is no time nor place for polite language there’s a bad fucking wind coming.

It’s just over the hill, the rise, the country. It’s sweeping the nation from coast to coast and it’s going to take away one of them and give us a new one.
Here, grab this cardboard. Nail it over the insides of your windows. Here, grab these bars. Hammer them over the outsides of your windows.
Do you have any trees? Write your names on them with this waterproof marker so they can be returned to you at a later date.
Fuck this is bad. A very bad wind.

We should’ve listened to the scientists, I’m sure they warned us and I’m sure they underestimated the odds and I’m sure we didn’t listen. I can’t cite any of this, I don’t know my APA or my Chicago or any other styles, I have no styles.
But look at that sky! It’s lime and lemon and black and blue and is that… yellow and purple? Sweet fuck of mine it’s clashing.
They said we could’ve avoided this if we used clean energy. We could’ve stopped it with basic impersonal hygiene. Rinsed before the morning was over, double-scrubbed at evening before we went to bed.
And now. And now look at us!
This is it, you know. It very well could be it. This bad wind coming in.

The bad wind is rolling closer, we haven’t got much more than none.
You can hear the howl of the wind lifting away small untethered pets and dirty magazines from your teens’ bedrooms.
It could be worse and soon it will be. Just one hundred miles away there are upside-down tornados with the wide ends on the ground and the little tails up in the sky. They’re much worse that way.
Pray you’re not on the coast; there’s hurricanes out there. Big fat fuckers that sprawl like a fat man on a subway seat, and they’re spinning counter-counter-counter-clockwise. Oscillating like ocelots. Fish are being sucked up by rainstorms and spat out by waterspouts. Dirty words are being written on walls using bits from other walls.
There is no respect in this, no sort of two-way communication, no search for mutual understanding. It’s such a bad goddamned wind.

Cover the storm drains, open the windows. Get in your heaviest and most sinkable trucks. Batten every hatch, bar every door, belay the masthead and swab the anchor. Say goodbye to your old coastlines and hello to the new old inland seas. We could very well end up with mosasaurs by the end of all this.
Do you have sixteen months worth of rations and preservable vitals in your basement? No? Yes? Maybe? How about sixteen years? Six centuries? Sixty-five million years?
Useless useless USELESS.
Surely we must use our monkey brains for some sort of foresight, some kind of understanding! There’s got to be synergy here somewhere.
Listen. Storms are large and bulbuous and funny-coloured.
That makes them very nearly fruit.
So, if we all get together and try very very hard and close our eyes maybe we can just pick the sto
No no no that’s a dumb idea.
What if we climbed up a tree, a really big tree, and we screamed at
Let’s form a complex social hierarchy at

It’s too late now.
It’s here. It’s all over. It’s bad to the bones and it has no bones don’t ask me how it managed this; damned thing has eaten the horizon from all sides and now it’s draining out of our sun and dribbling drizzle across the carpet of our countryside.
I’ve done what I could. Let’s do what we usually do and tell our kids it’s their problem now. That trick usually works.

Storytime: Big Eater.

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

The kitchen was compact without being cramped, well-stocked, well-cleaned, well-loved, and well-used. The tiles glowed under the soft moonlight; the counters glistened with illusory moisture.
Detective Newman couldn’t help but admire the kitchen on a level far deeper than any training, any words of wisdom from his grandparents onward. It was TIDY. He liked things tidy.
It was what made the horde of bloodthirsty cutlery roving around the floorboards beneath him so very difficult to bear.

It had been a difficult time, this morning. He hadn’t been put off his donut for years, but the crime scene had done it. It was returned to its cellophane nest in his coat pocket untouched, unblemished by even the ghost of his breath.
It wasn’t the body – god no. Char-broiled, thinly sliced, mashed, chilled…he’d seen people end up in any number of ways. It was the abstract complication that this particular one had been thoroughly eaten.
He had consulted with Theresa, the wrinkled gnome who ruled forensics with extreme stoicism.
“Dead twelve hours,” she told him.
Newman nodded. “Right. Right. And how much of him’s been eaten?”
“Seventy-three percent soft tissue total including internal organs” she answered promptly.
“Nobody’s that hungry.”
“So, how many people were in this room?”
She shrugged. “There were a lot of different forks. Knives.”
“No footprints.”
“No fingerprints.”
“How many different forks and knives.”
She tapped the side of her head. “Fifteen forks and twenty-four knives; sixteen butter and eight steak.”
Newman turned around and touched the stove with one hand. Then he stretched a little and, with great strain, made it to the kitchen sink with his free hand.
“Not spacious,” he said.
“A very small and also very tidy horde of cannibals, seeing as they loaded up the dishwasher before they left.”
She nodded.
“Nothing else?”
Theresa tapped her chin for a moment.
“You need to eat better,” she said. “Donuts are not a good breakfast.”

Thank you, Theresa. Thank you. At least the donuts wouldn’t be what did him in; god she’d have been insufferable at the funeral. Although she’d probably be the one checking his pockets in eight hours, so she’d get the satisfaction of knowing he hadn’t managed one last bite.
A tinkle from the kitchen floor dragged his attention to the notion of more unpleasant bites. God, where had this stuff come from? If it was a factory or something making them they had to find out fast; the world had enough regular hazards without having to worry about your silverware turning on you.
Newman had always been embarrassed by his reaction to fear. He hopped. Just a little start, but always straight upwards. This evening – this stupid, stupid, totally unnecessary evening, WHY had he come back to the crime scene? – it had saved his life. Despite being voracious, the parade of murderous utensils didn’t seem possessed of particularly good senses. As long as he was quiet on top of the kitchen counter, they were hunting for a ghost.
Then again, there were an awful lot of them. What if they could climb? What if they could FLY? Such things were not what you expected from a humble fork, but neither were voracious teeth.

Mother Newman had been very firm about what you did to avoid this sort of thing.
“Clean your dishes,” she told him. “Clear your plate, then clean it.”
And reluctantly, eventually, he had done as he was told. First at familial gunpoint, then habit, then inclination.
There was something uniquely appalling about an uncleaned dish. He wondered if that was what had set off this batch.
Had it been left in the sink one hour too long? Scraped too casually of a crust of melted cheese? Tolerated low-grade soap one load too many?

There was a rattle from the cupboard above his head.
Newman’s body froze while Newman’s mind ran in circles screaming to itself.
What had been in the dishwasher that morning?
Cutlery. A lot of it.
And cups.
Slowly, slowly, creakingly slowly, the latch above his head undid.
He wasn’t even going to be killed by sharp objects.

“One plate, one cup is all you need,” his scoutmaster had told him. If more people had listened to that advice, he wouldn’t be in this fix.
“Eat from it, clean it, repeat it. One plate, one cup is all you need.”
The man had been earnest in his advice, despite his constantly wavering gaze. It was a wonder he ever managed to count the troop correctly; he must have been seeing them in triplicate for years.

There was a light thump as the first mug dropped out from the cupboard above his head. It didn’t shatter, against all rhyme and reason. The movements were all wrong; it was like watching a ceramic ferret. Mugs should bumble and bustle; he felt very strongly on that based on several Disney movies he recalled from his childhood.
It sniffed at the air.
Newman held his breath.
Slowly, slowly the mug relaxed. Then it slid to the edge of the counter and slipped over it, joining the cutlery on the floor.
Newman relaxed. And then, from above, another thump.
Around fifteen place settings.
Around fifteen mugs and cups?
Around… twenty minutes, on and off, of trying to hold his breath and remain absolutely still.
He was going to die. He was going to take a big breath and wheeze and he was going to be beaten to death by carnivorous tableware.
It was just like his grandmother had always said…
Newman tried to finish that thought. His grandmother had said an awful lot of things.
“Don’t go outside when it’s raining, you’ll catch cold.”
“Don’t fish in the offseason; the fines are fierce and you can’t bribe the officials like you did back when your daddy was little.”
“Don’t chew that gum and walk at the same time or you’ll fall over and break your nose.”
“Don’t live like a pig. Clean up after yourself.”
…which was thoroughly useless advice at the moment if he’d ever seen it, because the carnivorous cutlery hadn’t cleaned up after itself at all. Christ the crime scene had been a MESS. A macerated corpse, a dried ketchup-madhouse of blood covering half the floor. About the only concession to neatness was the fully loaded dishwasher-
Detective Newman did not move for thirty seconds.
Seven of those were spent realizing the import of his thoughts. Thirteen were spent in nerve-biting hysterical certainty of doom. And the last ten were simply the word ‘maybe’ over and over again at increasing volume.
Slowly, slowly, at the speed of a single hair’s growth, he reached into his pocket and extracted the old, old donut from this morning.
The cellophane crinkled.
The movement from the floor halted.
And in that one, long, slow-moving moment, Newman threw caution to the wind and the donut to the floor.

It was grisly.

Some time later, Newman took his fingers out of his ears and listened.
Rustlings. Clinkings.
But no longer aimless, no longer fruitless.
There was a destination.
The soft groans and creaks of the dishwasher’s drawer were music to his ears. The soft shish-shish-shhhhs of the soap. The groan of over-loaded racks.
The sweet, sweet click of the lock.
Newman waited for four minutes, listening, and waiting. Then he slid off the counter, rolled across the floor – coating himself in donut residue – and twisted the dial around seven times.
A long load. A very, very long load.
Now. First things first, phone for backup.
Second, get a donut.
Third, throw out all his damned tableware. Paper plates seemed very appealing right now.

Storytime: Garbagemen.

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

First stop, first stop, let’s see what kind of slop…
Hey Murray, check this shit out!
HD TV! The highest-damned-def! And not a scratch on ‘er! Fuck only knows why they’re tossing it, but hah, more luck for me!
Haha, c’mon man. You know the rules. The can man gets first pick, the driver gets second. Says so right on the dashboard.
Hell of a way to start the route, eh? Helluva way.

Now, let’s see what’s behind trash number… oh.
Oh man! Look at this!
A whole fridge, man! Yeah, we’re taking this. Here, get out, give me a hand. Look, it’s the least you can do, you’re guaranteed a 50/50 shot at this thing after all.
Huff. Puff.
Man that IS heavy. Hey, wait a minute…
Paydirt! It’s full! Nice insulation too; still cold in here. Awwww damn is that a defrosting steak? Nice. Nice! Hey you might get that TV after all Murray; I barely watch the stuff anyways.

Good day so far though. A good day.
Woah, woah, woah. Stop stop stop look.
Yeah, they did put it out. It was behind the caoh my goodness fucking gracious.
They’re junking the car!
They’re junking the car, Murray!
Look at this thing! Can’t be more than a month old! Still has the dealer’s smell on it, greasy and woolly! The keys are in the ignition.
Let’s just yank those and come back after the day’s done, okay? ‘Cause MAN. Man.

Aww look. A perfectly normal trash can. Well, three out of a street ain’t bad, right? And one’s yours, ol’ buddy ol’ pal. One’s yours.
Little light. Rattley, but light. More feels floppy, actually. Shit, there better not be a dead raccoon in here.
Holy shit!
Holy shit!
Great, right?
Hahaha man, I heard stories about this but I never thought I’d get to see one! Holy fuck I wonder whose leg this is?
Damn right we’re keeping this. I’ve got a big dog at home, Murray, a big dog. That dog’s a guard dog, Murray, but he ain’t ever tasted the flesh of man. How’m I supposed to get a good guard dog without feeding him someone? This is manna, Murray. Oldschool mana-from-fuckin’-heaven we’re witnessing.

Light again.
No, no, nothing good. Whole can’s full of little cards that say ‘HELP’ on them.
Yeah, let’s leave ‘em. Stupid fucks can’t put their recycling in the right bin, they can keep it.

No can here. Let’s move on – oh, wow!
Hey, lean over here! Check this out!
No, I don’t even know how they got ‘em to stack that good, that’s ART that is! Wow!
Yeah, we’ll take ‘em. They’re compost, right? If chicken bones count, so do skulls. And y’know what, let’s set aside this big sucker right here. I got a nephew, Murray; you ever meet him? He’s a cool guy. He’d like a cool skull, got no doubt.

Aw, shit.
Man, I don’t think we can take this one. They put the house in it.
Yeah, see down there at the bottom? Look, you can even see the bodies in the bedroom.
Nah, I got no idea how it fit in there, but it feels just about as heavy as the real thing. No Bueno, buddy.
Guess you’re right. A demolition company, maybe? Whatever, not our problem, that’s up to management.

Dum de dum.
Dum de dum de dum.
Hey, why aren’t we stopping?
Yeah, right.
Yeah, yeah.
Yeah, yeah, yeah OKAY FINE I get it, I never pay any attention to what’s around me when I’m not the driver. NOW you happy?
Sure, I guess. Not much point in keeping going when you put it that way.
No, I’ve got no idea. I mean, what, do I look like I’m a rocket scientist or something? How’m I supposed to know what they did with the rest of the neighborhood? I don’t have any test tubes on me, mister science, I can’t just slap my dipstick on that oozing green shit over here and say ‘hmmm yess this is clearly radium-calcium-capsized suburban material no doubt grant now please.’
Nah, I made that up. But shit, does look radioactive, don’t it?
Short shift’s nothing to sneeze at, anyhow.

What’ll I pick?
…Maybe I’ll take that old TV after all. It’s been a while since I checked the news.

Storytime: Modern-Day Faeries.

Wednesday, September 7th, 2016

Before you read on, you should know that they are very shy, even in these days. Their rural kin and kith may have faded, their own fortunes may have flourished, but latter-day faeries are still rather like chameleons. Most of them are uncomfortable when they are being watched, and content when they are watchers.

They are the most common, and the least-noticed. Walk down a street without seeing it; drive home from work without even looking at the stoplights; stare out the window and forget dinner is on the stove. Hazies are everywhere. They swarm under every brow, behind every eye. In small doses they feed on absent-mindedness and brain farts. In clumps they emit small clouds of daydreams. When over-fed, they secrete lucid mindlessness, a walking sleep that shrugs out thought, emotion, or the senses.
Treasure them for the stories they show you; much can be done with them if you’ve the knack for it, or the work ethic, or the urge. Fear them for the consequences. Too much nothing is not a good thing, although there may seem to be many somethings that are so very worse indeed.

Most things have felt the touch of affection, save for the most automated and remote – an anonymous plastic toy. A scrap of continental bedrock. A fresh puff of Pacific cloud.
Fewer things are cherished. A particularly well-sewn teddy bear. A crib the last four generations of children lay in. A tacky souvenir from a departed grandparent, the ‘made in’ sticker still intact.
And some, a very, very slim some, are loved well and loved long. And it is in these places, around these things, that the slow, old, never-yet-common Yesterlongs converge.
Yesterlongs are patient, which is good because without that they would never get anywhere, or go mad. They linger by nature and love by instinct, and you can tell them by their soft paws and damp noses. A Yesterlong feeds off its home, and feeds back double. What is loved becomes moreso with time, and as its affection grows so too does the faerie. They can be bigger than mountains, they can be bigger than worlds. And at every size, they can fit inside a heart, no matter how small.
Wince when you see nostalgia fade. As it goes, so too must they. And the trip to the next home can be long, it can be hard.
But do not cry. There will always be something new.

If you’ve ever walked on a springtime riverback, you have seen the rushes grow.
And if you’ve ever driven on a weekday morning, you have seen the Rushes dance.
Go! Traffic!
Go! Lunchtime!
Go! Release date!
Go! Weekend!
They are furious in flight but they always move too slowly; they are ravenously hungry but they never manage to eat a thing; they are timeless but always hurried.
Go! Go! Go!
You can feel them in your pulse, in your sweat, in the tightened skin around your widened eyes. Suck in breath through your flared nostrils and smell their bitter acridity. Taste their iron on your tongue.
Without them, things would still get done. But my, we would be less worried about it.

The Hopesmiths have not been mentioned so far, not because of their importance but because of their detestability.
Hopes and dreams are fragile and snap and crack under the inflexible weight and pressure reality puts on them. Left to their own devices, they will sink and simmer and smelt down into the world again, ready to become fresh inspiration, to be mined again by new mines of new miens.
But the Hopesmiths are watching, and the Hopesmiths are hungry, and they are very small and fast, the fastest of all faeries. A working hope is far too strong for their frail bodies and slim hands, but a broken hope, a crippled dream – these are the tools they need. They will swarm an injured hope like carnivorous flies, stripping it for parts from the outside in and burrowing down to its ragged core.
There they dine, and there they forge, not out of necessity now but purest delight. Frankenstein with malice in his heart; a pernicious Yahweh.
The new-forged hopes that rise up from these ashes are hollow cinders: light, airy, and if one should ever brush a hand, burning and instantly-extinguished. But most remain forever just out of arm’s-length, wafting on the breeze and forever taunting those unfortunate enough to listen, singing the song of Somedays.
Someday I will be rich
Someday I will be famous
Someday my numbers will come up
Someday they’ll call me back
Someday I will be happy
The song has no end. Its only cure is to realize there is no beginning.

The last are the shyest. And they are the strangest.
They will not look for you. They will never find you.
Unlike every other faery, they must be found.
Stand up. Go for a walk.
Look without seeing – not outside, but in. Drop into yourself and fall down a hole without a bottom, turn off the world and shut out the lights. Dim the sounds and quench the people, the so many people you know and don’t know and will know and when it’s all too much, when you’ve gone down as far as you can be.
There they are, fleeting and motionless. The Little Lonelies. A flickering light, down here in the dark at the base of the brain, hiding inside plain sight.
You can dwell on them, these Little Lonelies. You can watch their wings flicker in circles. Hear their tiny, sad songs. Smell the soft scent of their aches and bruises and tiny slow desperations.
It’s not fun, but it’s easy, and it’s distracting. So much safer than the world. So much calmer. So much easier to deal with than people or places or being a person.
You can dwell on them, these Little Lonelies. But you should not stay for long.
They will not take you away. But you may do that yourself.