The Curse of Blackwood Hollow: Part Three

Being dead, you know, gets confusing sometimes. I have to really work at things alive things don’t have to worry about. Like sitting on chairs. I only ever need to for Sybil’s sake, so I seem more like a person and less like a thing. Or like remembering the dimensions of human space. Humans have a lot of rules. Walk on the ground. Sit on things, not through them. High fives are supposed to kind of hurt and make a sound. Use past tense for things some things and the future tense for others. I always mix them up. Everything is present for me, and things don’t end where humans say they end and begin where they say they begin. That’s a thing you learn as a former human. Things is jumbled. All jumbled up. Everything.

I say that a lot to Sybil, and she thinks she gets it, and maybe she does get it more than most.

I can’t really say that I’m old. Sybil can say it, and does say it. A lot. I think she must be making jokes that are funny to humans, because she laughs a lot when she’s referring to my age. I don’t get them. I don’t feel old. I don’t really understand time anymore. Like I said, people have a lot of rules. For some reason it comforts them.

Not that I can say I’m much better off, being beyond the rules. I get wretchedly lonely. I talk with the trees sometimes. That’s a perk. And I have Sybil. But sometimes she misunderstands me and I never know what to do about it besides wandering around the earth and letting myself flow through underground places and high, unreachable-by-humans places.

The worst is a recurring moment called All Hallow’s Eve. It’s hard for me to separate seconds from the ones before and after, and days from years. But I always know when All Hallow’s Eve is now, and I hate it every time it comes.

Every time, I go to my gravestone, and Sybil goes with me.

I go to Blackwood Hollow graveyard—sorry, I guess I should say went. I went with Sybil to the little patch of dirt and weeds where us “old folk” are interned. I wasn’t the only one buried there, but I’m the only ghost. I don’t like to think about it.

I laid my hand against my gravestone. It took all of my concentration, and all of Sybil’s. I can’t do it without her. Then, suddenly, I feel the cold. In an instant, I feel the boundary of the stone. I feel where it begins and ends. Humanness seeps back into me. It’s a terrible feeling, in a way, like accepting a chain around your neck. But there’s always lurking in my mind the reason I must retain the feeling of limits, of a body. Why I must fight to stay on this earth.

I’m waiting for someone.

Now I feel the groundedness, the rules flood through me. I am renewed/ re-enslaved. Things can be both. That’s another thing you learn. A lot of things are quite simply “both.”

“I feel eyes.”

Sybil looks—looked at me judgementally. I didn’t mind. There was no point to.

I tried to explain. “Not… my eyes. His eyes.”

“Whose eyes?” she asked.

I closed my eyes and focused. My eyes. So I could feel them! That felt a bit good. “Someone watches.”

Sybil scowled out at the dark graveyard. She didn’t like people doing underhanded things. I was pretty sure she didn’t like people, period. “Who?”

I put a hand on her shoulder, and reveled in it. I could feel her shoulder. I could feel my hand. “Pretend I am still here. Talk. He will not see me.”

Sybil did not say anything for a moment, but after I moved away, she began muttering conspiratorially to no one.

He did not see me approach his tree. He did not see me loom behind him. He only heard my voice when I boomed, “Puck” and raised my hand.

It had to be done, every All Hallow’s Eve. That was the price of my staying. I had to do its bidding on this one night, and it always asked for blood. I hadn’t liked Puck from the beginning, but if I could have then, I would have told him to run. I raised my hand and brought it down until I felt his face split beneath my nails.

He howled unlike anything I’d ever heard, and I couldn’t help wondering what he was exactly. Then his eyes closed and his head fell back, but he wasn’t dead—I would know. So I went back to Sybil and told her to get him help. I had other things to do.

I went to the top of the hill, and sunk down beneath the earth, and waited for it. It got darker and darker, and the stars refused to shine, so I knew it was coming. At last it came, and I spread the blood before it. The blood sank into the earth and I knew it was pleased. A whisper ran on the wind, and for just a moment, I could feel the back of my neck. It crawled.

You do not wait in vain. She is coming.

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Parking Garage Humans

 You feel them coming first, before anything else. It starts somewhere in the back of your mind, somewhere you don’t really pay much attention to until it’s the only place in your mind that has your attention. It’s like your mind is a glass of water and you miss the fact that vibrations in the ground are sending small rippling waves across the surface. The surface breaks and the water sloshes out of the bowl and you sit up with a jolt. That’s how it begins.
 Next your heart begins to beat the slightest bit faster. You can’t help it. It’s not nerves or anything like that, it’s just part of the effect and that’s all. It feels like the earth is trembling and the concrete beams in all directions will shake themselves loose. So you feel that they’re coming.
 Maybe you try to ignore it or maybe you sit up and stare out your window, but either way, they have your attention now. That’s when you start to hear them. Windows down or windows up, it’s amazing either way that the glass hasn’t all shattered.
 You feel the vibrations in your very bones and your ears try to make sense of something so loud you can’t quite understand exactly what it is you are listening to. The noise (or if you are feeling generous, the music) grows louder still and you hear the additional and occasional squeal of tires, the revving of an engine.
 Finally, you see them. More often then not you feel surprised and maybe a bit disappointed because you were expecting a red Lamborghini or a yellow Mustang or at least something black and sleek. But all you see is the green Honda civic or the silver Volvo or mom’s old minivan and a very small figure sitting behind the dashboard, clutching at the steering wheel with one hand, hoping it doesn’t vibrate out of grasp.
 The tires let out another squeal, and likely they do too, as they take the curve in the parking garage a bit too quickly and narrowly dodge the concrete walls. They pull away and out of your sight. The noise becomes incoherent once more. Once again, all you are left with is the thumping in your chest and in your body and the pounding in your ears until all becomes still and silent.
 Once again it is as if nothing has happened, as if there have been no disruptions to the water in that bowl in the corner of your mind and not a drop has been spilt, but you think something.
 You think something usually related to ‘need for attention’. Words like ‘ridiculous’ or even just ‘wow’ float in and out. And maybe you think, this is how we humans must look to the rest of the universe and all the other creatures in our world. Maybe we are parking garage humans in a world of quiet creatures watching us from the windows of their cars.

Nepenthe

“One swallow.”

“Are you sure about this?”

“Absolutely.”

Leda held the opaque vial filled with milky white potion up to her eyes, examining the contents warily.

“I’m tired Rue,” she murmured softly, almost inaudibly.

“Drink Leda.”

Leda’s eyes flashed away from the vial and found Rue’s pale blue ones, making a desperate plea. Rue was calmer than ever.

“Trust me,” Rue commanded.

Hesitantly at first, and then suddenly boldly Leda lifted the vial to her lips and sipped. Continue reading

How Often Turns Into Dream

She stared at the setting sun. It was like a beach ball at day break, all bright and round and red. Sometimes hard to tell if it was rising or setting.

“Help,” she said quietly, almost to herself, or to the setting sun. What would have helped at that moment was a broom, she decided. She could ride off into the sunset and ask the sun herself.

She had transformed since her last visit to the shore. More crabby. She wanted to belong on that beach. She knelt beside a particularly slow and grumpy looking crab.

“It’s nighttime,” he said.

“Not yet,” she said.

“It will be,” he said, ever the pessimist. “I’m a realist.”

Continue reading

Rebirth

A sprinkle of dust flutters to rest
There is no heart beating in that old chest
The photographs sit still, fading to grey
Framing dying people, memories, decay
Seal the coffin beneath
Close the crooked, cracked teeth
Take a hammer to its rotted frame
Until the wooden bones have lost their name
Build a crib from the debris
As done with the original tree
Declutter those ancient drawers
To hold an infant within its stores
This old chest will be born again
emptying the burden of what it had been
And life anew will grow inside
Now that this old broken past has died.

 

Happy National Poetry Month!!!

Smoke and Mirrors, an L.A. Tour Guide

I see a man outside civilization.

I smile at him and he rushes out the words like he himself is surprised at them, or maybe just surprised that I looked, and smiled.

“Can I have some change, ma’am?”

I smile silently and walk on, least I can do.

Very least. 

Think nothing of it.

I go in and buy my groceries. 

A good deal later, I come out the back of the store, and there he is, on the steps, a rag to his nose. 

At first I think he is crying.

He looks up as I pass.

“Can I have some change, ma’am?”

I nod and smile sadly. “It’s inevitable.”

L.A. twinkles brighter tonight than I’ve ever seen her—

A good rain can clear even the most malignant feelings.

Benevolence and glittering lights.

Smiles and ghost-rain.

Ah, how pretty you look from here

But please, don’t come any closer.