Archive for the ‘Fantasy’ Category

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Once Gramps Had Come – A Christmas Story

December 19, 2015

An essential piece of Christmas has been missing forever, almost as if it has hidden itself. In the story Once Gramps Had Come by Matthew Sawyer, that hidden piece comes out to perhaps breathe clean air, eat or maybe stretch its legs. Whatever is done, this short tale starts in a Nursing Home. A homely man who calls himself “Gramps” offers immortality and the holidays are coming up.

Once Gramps Had Come by Matthew Sawyer

Once Gramps Had Come
Matthew Sawyer

Thursday, November 21, an ugly, old man comes to the Nursing Home. He is not the slightest seemly; not handsome like the weathering of a familiar leather jacket, nor noble like the bark of a gnarled oak. The man is ugly. Frightening, yet he looks a lot like that knotted tree and ragged hide coat. Presumably present for the terminal long-duration care and rehabilitation available here at Nueva Buena Vista, the terrible creature introduces himself to other residents. He calls himself, “Gramps.”

Mr. Breckell, who regularly assesses his own hearing, believes he has misheard the name. He shouts from his seat of padded linoleum. “What did you call yourself? Cramps?”

Mr. Breckell assumes and also asks, “Is that what’s wrong with you?”

The ugly old man lumbers near the only fellow whose spoken to him. This Gramps or cramps sits down on the stiff, yellow cushion next to Mr. Breckell. The new old man creaks and his joints crack when he bends his legs then he adjusts his seat. The racket is disquieting to everyone in the day-room. Mr. Breckell tells the creepy, wooden man next to him, “You sound like you’re going to break.”

“I do fear it,” Gramps answers.

Before he forgets, Mr. Breckell asks him again, “What did you call yourself?”

“Cramps,” Mr. Breckell swears he’s heard again.

He suggests to the badly weatherworn stranger, “Cramps, I would change that nickname. You could then go talk to someone else.”

“I think you are mispronouncing it,” Gramps tells him.

“Me? How about you?”

Gramps, or still possibly cramps, immediately interrupts the fresh argument. “Are you afraid of dying, Mister…”

“Breckell,” Mr. Breckell automatically replies.

“Sure,” he then insists. “Yeah-”

“I can help you live forever.”

Mr. Breckell finishes his thought. “But I get less fidgety the older I get.”

He then pauses, gazes into impossibly seeing and dense cataracts then tells cramps, “I don’t think you can help yourself. By the look of you…”

Mr. Breckell shakes his balding head.

“I know the worst of it,” Gramps promises his indignant comrade. “You can help me.”

The idea makes Mr. Breckell chuckle. “I will see what I can do.”

With yet no response, he asks the ugly stranger directly, “Who are you?”

“Everyone has forgotten me.”

Mr. Breckell tells him, “Welcome to Anonymous-Anonymous. The ladies across the room cry about the fact at weekly meetings.”

Gramps adds, “And any who do remember me, and if they still believe, they think I have gotten lazy over centuries.”

Mr. Breckell assures him. “That’s just how it feels.”

Pink light glows behind the opaque eyes of the stranger. “I’m telling you, Mr. Breckell, there is another way. You can live forever.”

Mr. Breckell laughs and the sound grows. He stops his guffaw when Gramps admits, “But there is a horrible exaction. There are crimes you must commit.”

“Go figure,” Mr. Breckell says entertained and newly curious. A meager rush of adrenaline reminds him of the shadow of being a young man and alive. Enthused that little bit, he grins and banters. “What evil things must I do. How many children do I need to eat?”

“The children are never eaten,” Gramps declares.

Mr. Breckell tells him, “Then that explains why you’re so scrawny. Tell me, mister, who are you?”

“I told you.”

“Oh, no you don’t. I am not about to wake up tomorrow and remember my name is Al Z’heimers. Who are you?”

The ugly stranger next to Mr. Breckell tells him, “The Krampus. The, the Krampus.”

“Huh?” Mr. Breckell grunts without purpose. His recollection is vague. He goes on and says, “Remind me who that is. Are we talking about Christmas? The elves and the magical Saint Nick, right? Not the Jesus and Christian Santa Claus, correct?”

“And not the American who drinks Coca Cola,” specifies the Krampus.

The name, or its shaded memory, fits the horrid personification here in the ugly stranger. The monster tells Mr. Breckell, “I am his nemesis, his companion and cohort. The folklore all across the world will tell you the same.”

The Krampus rants. “But I refuse to do his work. I won’t do it and I only want to pass away – and join our brothers. Somebody else can be remembered to be the Krampus. And he or she can be that until the end of time.”

“End of time, you say?” Mr. Breckell repeats. “That’s the part that includes living forever you were talking about?”

“If you do those things you must do.”

“And what does that mean? What do I got to do?”

The Krampus scowls when he says, “Make toys.”

Jokingly, Mr. Breckell answers, “Well, how do we get this operation done? I can live forever and do that.”

“Hell, what are all the toys for?”

The Krampus reveals in earnest, “They are the years of your life. Each toy is a day, you live one day for every toy you make. And you must keep them secret.”

Carried by high spirits, Mr. Breckell continues to play with the ugly man. “That can’t be bad. I suppose I can make seven toys in a day, or make fourteen or even seventy.”

“Saint Nicholas takes them away,” replies the Krampus. “And you will die if you do not have even one made and hidden away. Then, at least, you will live that single day. You can use that time and make a new toy that you can stash away.”

Having never truly stopped, Mr. Breckell laughs aloud once again. “Are you telling me Santa Claus steals your toys.”

The Krampus alludes, “A thief by any name… what would he do if he was ever successful and he murdered me?”

“You are telling me, you can die if Santa takes away all your toys.”

“You will die, Mr. Breckell,” declares the Krampus. “When you become me.”

“Hold on,” Mr. Breckell says and stunts the conversation. “You told me you wanted to retire. What did you say? Pass away. You can do that if you let Santa have all your toys.”

“There is something else you must do,” states the Krampus solemn and cold. “Someone must take your place. Someone else must always be the Krampus or we will never be at peace.”

Unswayed by any prospect this whole week has presented him, Mr. Breckell remains engaged in his lively discussion. “I don’t know about your offer, mister. I heard that Saint Nick character was one tough hombre. You know, burglary is his thing – creeping down chimneys and eating cookies and all.”

An idea occurs to Mr. Breckell. “Hey, I have never seen the jolly old man. I know for a fact my parents put all my presents under the tree. I never heard from you, either. Or were you part of all those pagan parties before the twentieth century? Before my time?”

“I was hidden,” answers the Krampus. “Me and my toys and my workshop have been hidden all your life and longer. Saint Nicholas had no toys to give to good girls and boys.”

Mr. Breckell rambles, “So Santa Claus canceled giving away presents because he couldn’t rip you off…”

“What about his little helpers? Where are his elves?”

The Krampus shakes his head, gasps then sighs. “I am so tired and I cannot bear the things I do. I can no longer bear my guilt.”

Mr. Breckell wonders aloud, “Why? What have you done? You make toys.”

“Listen,” musters the Krampus. He leers into Mr. Breckell’s face. “You can’t just take them – I never did. I gave them warnings. They get two?”

“What are they and who are them?” Mr. Breckell asks. He is not one bit interested in hearing any admonitions.

The Krampus tells him, “The first warning I give is a lump of coal. I put it in their stockings.”

“Are you talking about kids?” indicts Mr. Breckell. “I was just kidding when I mentioned earlier that I was hungry. Certainly no veal.”

The Krampus ignores the man’s comments and he continues speaking. “The second is a bundle of twigs bound together with reed. After that second year, I just come and take them.”

“Where – where to?”

“The North Pole. I hide my workshop there in a cave washed out by ocean waves.”

Certain who they are talking about, Mr. Breckell shouts, “Why?” Not one deaf head in the day-room turns.

The Krampus confesses, “Children can make your toys for you. That’s allowed if you keep them under your control.”

“Slaves?”

“I use a potion brewed from an extract of mistletoe. I mix it into their porridge of ice and snow.”

Mr. Breckell mumbles at a volume hardly overheard. “You brainwash children with poison.”

He then judges aloud the beast by his side. “Inhumane.”

“No, no, the potion makes them happy.”

The Krampus’ speech sounds scrambled.

“Don’t you see? Saint Nicholas has no workshop in the Arctic Circle. He doesn’t have any elves. All of that belongs to me. He takes away my toys and the children who are glad they help the Krampus stay alive.”

“What does Santa do with the kids?”

“I suppose he takes them home. I don’t know, I don’t know… I don’t care.”

Mr. Breckell says proud, “It’s good to know he is still a good man.”

“Is he?” cries the Krampus. “Is he, Mr. Breckell? The Sinter Klass hunts us, sir. He will not let our souls rest and he only wants to keep us desperate. We are forced to desperately make toys to stay alive.”

“Hold on,” Mr. Breckell states and mimes as if he physically pulls in an equine’s reins. “Who are you talking about when you mention ‘we’? Certainly not you and me.”

“There is only now you,” replies the Krampus.

“What do mean?”

The gnarled creature tells the man, “Mr. Breckell, you agreed to take my place.”

“No,” Mr. Breckell objects. He has stopped laughing. “How did that happen?”

“Because you spoke to me.”

****

The nursing home vanishes from all around Mr. Breckell. The Krampus goes, too. Rather, old Mr. Breckell has himself gone. The elderly man discovers he is alone atop snow and an iceberg larger than his poor eyesight might measure. He shivers only a little because the air and ground are both cold. Mr. Breckell does not already know it, him standing outside fully dressed overlain with his nursing home bathrobe, but for some inexplicable reason the man is lucky he is not shaking more. Foremost in his audible mind is, “I have been teleported to the North Pole.”

“The dirty scoundrel,” grumbles Mr. Breckell. “What am I going to do now?”

He recognizes a scraggy voice whispering from out of his own ears. The voice of the original Krampus tells him, “Watch out for Saint Nick. Your brothers are watching you.”

“Hey, get back here,” Mr. Breckell shouts. “Send me back! I didn’t agree to anything.”

As the voice falls further away, Mr. Breckell hears it say, “The souls of your brothers depend on you to keep our peace. Hide. Hide and make toys.”

“Wait a minute,” Mr. Breckell begs the voice before it is gone. After no answer except a frigid gust of wind, one that chills his limbs, he appeals to the overcast sky. “Where am I suppose to go?”

“He said he made a cave,” Mr. Breckell tells himself. As if he knows the direction, he marches toward the ocean side.

Along his solitary journey, he first asks himself, “Who are the brothers?” Further along, Mr. Breckell answers the question.

“I bet it’s you,” he says to himself, meaning the voice he recognized was the Krampus he met tonight in the day room at Nueva Buena Vista.

He chides the Krampus he knew while tramping downhill into deepening snow. “Some wretched fiend looked at you and found a fool to pass a curse onto.”

“That’s what this is, isn’t it?”

The question is rhetorical. The hypothetical answer is, too. “Some eternal life this is, I tell you.”

A gunshot makes his insane reality legitimate. A bullet immediately blows snow and steam from a hole made into a snow drift concealing most of his thin and aged body. Hidden so, he has avoided injury.

“I got you,” declares a hoarse old man with yet a jolly shout. “I found you. Where are your toys?”

Mr. Breckell says without hunting the horizon for the shooter, “Santa Claus, is that you?”

A skinny man wearing a long gray beard and longer, hairy, green coat shouts back. “I’m Ole Nick, to you. Ho.”

Ole Nick pauses and asks the rookie Krampus, “You’re a new Krampus aren’t you? ‘Course, I haven’t seen you for over a hundred years. And I’ve been looking. I promise you that. I guess I’m just lucky everybody hasn’t forgotten about me.”

The stretched elf laughs aloud. “Ho, ho, ho,” then he fires a shot into the air. An AK-47 then swings over his head once more and unleashes a burst that drowns speech.

Dropping the weapon, Ole Nick tells the new Krampus, “I said, Christmas is coming this year. Show me where you’ve hidden all your toys.”

“I don’t know,” pleads Mr. Breckell. Challenging the safety of his snowdrift, he raises his head and looks over his shoulder. Saint Nicholas comes up behind him, following his target’s fathom-deep foot prints.

“I am feeling charitable all of a sudden,” promises Santa Claus, “I’ll give your a break because you’re so brand new. Look at you – your wrinkles haven’t yet turned into bark. Give me all your toys and I’ll let you live this year – well, at least until Spring.”

“You’re going to kill me?” asks the unbelieving remnant of Mr. Breckell.

Ole Nick grows serious. “You, your kind and your undead hive mind are an abomination.” He spits. “Ptah, you all-in-one and everlasting…”

“The Krampus is a dreg of Creation, the root of jealous anxiety. You don’t feel it yet, but you will quick enough. I exist to clean you up.”

The human that yet survives claims, “This is crazy. Please, let me go. Take all my toys. Please, just allow me to make more.”

“Your type of immortality is a mad idea,” judges Santa Claus. “Well, I’m the balance. You must die – after Christmas this year is sorted out”

The Krampus stammers. “Just take my toys, leave me in peace.”

“I will rescue the kids, too,” Ole Saint Nick pledges.

“What kids?”

“The ones you hypnotize and they make all your toys.”

The Mr. Breckell inside the Krampus tells Santa, “Take them. I’ll make my own toys.”

Ole Nick chuckles. “And just like all your brothers, you will be disappointed to find you can’t keep up.”

Mr. Breckell asks even though he sort of knows, “Who are my brothers?”

He is ignored. Instead, Ole Nick waves a rifle into his face and commands him, “Show me your toys.”

“Yes, yes,” replies the Krampus. He then takes Saint Nicholas to his lair.

The entrance to the ice cave is near. Truly, the two eternal spirits have almost always shuffled through snow over the length of saltwater carved caverns. Having arrived at the cave mouth, the Krampus points toward the dark hole. Uncertain of the intention of the man with the gun, he invites Saint Nicholas inside using only a nod and an arm gesture.

“There is candlelight inside,” promises the Krampus and Mr. Breckell knew.

“You go first,” Santa responds. “I’m right behind you and I’ve got an automatic weapon pointed at the center of your back.”

Before either spirit steps further toward the underground, gaunt and pale children fizz out of the hole as if they were bubbles jumped from a boiling cauldron. All of them smile. They shout in song, “The Krampus!” Apparently impervious to the freezing cold, the skinny kids banter with each other in the snow wearing only pajamas and slippers.

“He doesn’t look like the Krampus,” one boy observes.

A smaller girl tells him, “He smells like the Krampus.”

And the boy replies, “He doesn’t look like him.”

“He will look like one in a hundred years,” another child answers.

Boggled, Saint Nick wonders rhetorically, “What poison?”

Ashamed because of this evidence left by a guilty brother who had come before him, the one who had been Mr. Breckell claims, “I’m sorry – it wasn’t me.”

“You will commit this same crime one day soon. You always do,” Santa retorts. “I’ll be back and shoot you. You can join your brothers… and there will always be another one like you. There has always been.”

Although the children are reluctant, Saint Nicholas gathers them together and puts all the boys and girls the Krampus has kidnapped behind him. He tells the Krampus, “You can make as many toys as you want until then… enough for next Christmas, I expect.”

“You want the toys for Christmas?” reiterates the desperate Krampus. “But they are the days of my life… I’m sure we can work something out.”

The inconceivable notion brings another, “Ho, ho, ho,” from Ole Nick.

“Give me your toys,” Santa Claus orders the Krampus with no condition or exception.

“Please,” the Krampus begs Ole Nick while the children go directed back into the cave to haul out all the unwrapped Christmas presents.

Santa salutes the Krampus, “I loathe your kind – that is just the nature of Creation. Because of you, it has been a hundred years since the world has truly seen what Christmas was meant to be.”

The Krampus presents a feeble defense before the dangerous elf goes away. He says, “Is Christmas all about gifts? Toys that are better made to save the life of a man?”

“You are not a man,” answers Ole Nick.

Near sundown, after a day that seemed to last months, Saint Nicholas tells the Krampus, “I’ll be back before sundown to clear out the rest of your lair. Merry Christmas – you better be gone by then.”

Confused and having nothing sensible to say, the Krampus who had once been Mr. Breckell watches Ole Nick go. The tall, green elf presses the rear of his caravan of gift-bearing slave children. Establishing distance between them and their slaver, Santa Claus calls back to the Krampus from across tundra. “You’re going to die… I’ll kill you myself.”

You can’t hide forever. – you will come out and find another…”

“Even before that, you’ll start collecting slaves…”

“Then I will find you again.”

“You better get those toys made!”

****

After the once been Mr. Breckell finds the recipe for mistletoe poison, and he’s discovered a new lair for his toy workshop, the following news is broadcasted on Christmas day. While half of the United States still awaits dawn, WSIN television newswoman Sue Niam reports in an urgent voice,

“How do I describe it? These worldwide incidents of the opposite of breaking-and-entering are simply pandemic. Homes all over the globe – the United States, Russia, China, the United Kingdom and even Israel – everywhere – have seemingly been forcibly entered by persons who resemble the sixteenth century Father Christmas.”

“Father Christmas is the Jenny Craig Santa Claus who wears green instead of red. Viewers are probably most familiar with him as the Ghost of Christmas Present in the Charles Dickens story A Christmas Carol.”

Ms. Niam pauses on-air live and she asks an off-camera someone, “Is this a hoax?”

The preened television personality then continues describing, “Images and videos captured all over the world portray a single identical intruder in all these incidents – intruder is not the word for him – because he leaves wrapped presents then disappears”

Her cameraman is told, “Charlie, this is one man. How can one man appear at once in millions of homes?”

The response from the cameraman is loud enough to register on the recording. “I hate wrapping presents.”

“Hold on,” Ms. Niam tells Charlie and her viewing audience. “Reports are coming in saying the intruder carries an automatic military firearm. Our Santa Claus is shooting pets.”

After a moment spent quietly listening to her earphone, Sue Niam tells her audience, “Gunfire has been exchanged… witnesses have reported skirmishes between the intruder and armed homeowners”

Interrupting herself, she states, “We have a caller from Arizona.”

“Hello, Mister Rood? You said you exchanged gunfire with the man dressed as Father Christmas.”

“I sure did.”

Eager to curb the mania in her caller’s voice, Ms. Niam says, “We’re just now learning about the hundreds of incidents. These armed encounters seem focused in the Western half of the world.”

“America!” rallies Mr. Rood. “Damn, yeah.”

Ms. Niam cautions the man from Arizona. “Please, language, Mr. Rood. And it is Christmas Day.”

Mr. Rood grumbles, “Libtards.”

Refocusing the report, Ms. Niam asks her caller, “Can you tell us what happened to you this morning?”

“Yeah, sure,” Mr. Rood grants with heavy breaths. “I heard that sucker rattling my front door at four AM. I don’t go work at Walmart until six fifteen so I heard what was going on.”

The caller raises his voice.

“He come in my house with the ‘Ho, ho, ho’ and touting his rifle. Well, I brought mine.”

Interested in summarizing the witness, the television reporter asks, “How was the gunfire initiated?”

Yelling because of adrenaline, “I shot first – the man was in my home. He shot at me but I think I got him. All the authorities got to do is follow the blood trail. That’s red enough for Christmas for you all.”

– End –

If you liked my story, the least you can do for me is send me a Christmas card. You can do that by buying this story on Smashwords. Merry Holidays (how does that sound?).

– Matthew Sawyer

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Hues of Who – Doctor Who fan fiction from Matthew Sawyer

February 14, 2015

(Obviously, a well-intentioned parody of Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James. – the author)

Hues of Who

Chapter One- Vague Consent

An evening in February, in an unidentified and yet modest suburb of Chicago, Illinois, the Doctor comes to the home a seamstress. Shielded against electric incandescence by a flopping brown hat, the tall man rapped on the front door once and now enters the house. Clumps of snow come inside with him.

Kicking a ridiculously banded and long scarf ahead of his booted toes until he eventually stands still, he asks the owner, “Does this business do custom work? It says something to that effect on the door.”

“It depends,” Tiffany answers him. Unfazed by the sudden entrance and direct question, the home business operator jumps from behind the industrial sewing machine she has mounted on a standing pedestal there in the front room of her house. Above all else, the English accent of a potential client distracted her a whole second.

“I was looking for something professional,” he tells her and his voice sounds like tea and cream. As soft and tasty as the sound could be and because of that, her heart beats twice. And when he removes his hat, his goggled and wonderful blue eyes feel as if they melt her bones. She floats in locks of his wild hair.

Humbled and made foolish by her own astonishment, Tiffany grumbles aloud, “Why here?”

“Why not here?” asks the Doctor. Already, the man acts hyper-attuned to everything she says. He reads her thoughts and tells her, “There’s nothing wrong with here. It’s safe.”

“Safe?” she wonders.

The Doctor dismisses her concern. “Regardless, here is where I’ve wound up, or rather unwound. You see?”

Loops of ridiculous scarf flies into Tiffany’s face. Unharmed, she bats them away and she spots gaps and tears in the knitwear. The costume piece had been ravaged.

“Pardon me,” the Doctor begs her. “My scarf has been torn to pieces. I can’t control it anymore.”

“Control?”

“It’s nothing,” he promises. “I would just like it whole again. I would appreciate you very much if you could do that for me.”

“I can knit,” Tiffany mumbles after she stopped wondering aloud. Salvaging any poor impression the handsome English man may have gained of her, she adds with determined confidence, “It will take some work, but I can do this.”

Recovered and more focused on her business, she tells him, “The cost isn’t too bad but I will charge for each segment.”

“We can discuss compensation,” the Doctor tells her.

“Money would be nice,” she says and did not mean to sound sarcastic. Yet reminded about the deadbeats in this town, customers who never settled their bills nor collected their articles of clothing, Tiffany says seriously, “I like cash.”

Handsome as he is, and as comical as his scarf was, she had no place for his unconventional garment. She, herself, had no desire to mend something she would never use. However, she did not want to act cold. There was enough frigid air outside.

“My name is Tiffany. Mister?”

“No, no,” he interrupts her in urgency. “Doctor.”

“Doctor?” she ponders and feels infused with hope. Her heart skips twice in a row.

“Thank you,” he finishes telling her.

“So, how are you here?” she thinks again. Tiffany has no idea how her thoughts are confused by the time they come out of her mouth, but the woman is certain ‘how’ is what she meant to say.

“A blue box,” he spoke capaciously. Tiffany thinks she deserves sarcasm from the cute stranger.

While she can’t help but try imaginng what his playful insult might mean, the Doctor mumbles with curious uncertainty.

“I’m currently traveling alone,” Tiffany understands she heard him say.

“Single,” she swears he said.

“Seating available.”

“I’m an older woman,” she responds to his flirts.

“Nonsense,” he says. “You’re not as old as me.”

They appeared about the same age. Tiffany spent half her life worried passing years made girls look older than they actually were, but she did look her natural age and remarkably preserved. Tiffany was a pretty woman. She has been and always will be and she will never admit the truth. And if she knew in secret, the woman would never be arrogant and say.

“There’s nothing wrong with being old,” the Doctor says when he begins a beguiling rant. “I’m seven hundred and thirty three. Not quite over the hill yet.”

“Seven hundred and thirty three?”

“Yes, that’s how you people tell time, isn’t it?”

“I’m not sure what you’re talking about?” Tiffany admits forthright.

“Oh, you will. You will,” he says. “That’s a problem with the human brain. It’s like an analog computer and you have to wait until that one neuron lights up the place.”

“Are you like a neurosurgeon?” Tiffany asks as if she touches upon a prize she knew she recognized hidden in hat.

“I don’t practice,” he answers. “But how hard can it be?”

“Heh,” Tiffany responds to his toothy grin. She is not one tenth enthusiastic about his reply as the man still acts.

“You’re a character,” she flirts back at him and winks.

“You think?” the Doctor asks her and smiles widemouthed.

Shaking away her thrall of the man, Tiffany insists they address their business, “I charge by the hour… and each section will take one or more…”

“Time is the issue?” the Doctor asks the woman.

She stumbles with her answer. “Huh? Well, yes.”

“What if the job took no time at all?”

The woman giggles. “I didn’t quote you a base charge for labor, so I guess nothing at all. But I don’t think that’s fair or even possible.”

“You don’t think so? What is fair?”

“A thank you and a dinner would be nice… if anything is possible.”

Tiffany suddenly feels brave to specify, “Somewhere nice would be nicer.”

The man blusters with more courage than the older seamstress could ever muster. “Somewhere nice?” he shouts.

“Yes,” Tiffany replies meek again. She nods her head so her preference is made clear.

“I’ve got something to show you,” the Doctor says then opens the front door. Near the exit, a cold wind nearly solidifies his next words. “Come with me.” And he steps outside.

Leery and simultaneously curious, the seamstress takes a pale overcoat from a stand next the open doorway. “I’m not going far,” she warns him. “Not unless I know where we’re going and something about you.”

The seamstress is about to say more then pauses when she spots a blue shed in her front yard. Light shines from behind the frosted windows on the two sides of the structure there at her angle of vision. More illumination dimly glows from a cooling bulb on top.

“What is that?” Tiffany asks alarmed the object trespasses between shoveled mounds of snow on her property.

The Doctor coaxes her toward the wooden box. “Come here.”

She goes automatically and walks on her toes speared through the frozen precipitation upon the cold ground.

“Come inside,” he says.

“In there?” scoffs the woman. She almost says ‘no’ but once the box is opened, her birdsong sounds like, “Nah-ooo-ahhh.”

“I’ve been told that,” the Doctor says. “Just never so beautifully.”

“It’s bigger on the inside,” Tiffany stutters when she joins her client inside the marvelous contraption and surrounded by translucent roundels.

“They always say that.”

Tiffany is suddenly awake and concerned. “Who, other girls?”

“There have been a few,” he admits. The same time, he offers the seamstress a confectionery. “Have a Jelly Baby. They are quite sweet, like you, Tiffany. Thank you for repairing my scarf.”

The seamstress objects. “Hold on…”

“Oh, we can go anywhere,” the Doctor promises her. “Any time. Tell me where you want to go. All things are possible.”

“I didn’t say I would do it yet,” she finally replies. Latched upon the Doctor’s explanation, she stops and asks him, “Hold on, does this thing fly? Is it real?”

“It also travels through time.”

And the comment, ‘it travels through time,’ is all Tiffany first remembers when she wakes in her bed in her house the following morning. Something doesn’t feel right. Everything below her waist does not like yesterday. She visually verifies she is all right and she isn’t in pain, but her skin does tingle and she feels overly warm. Then she sprouts goosebumps when she thinks about the man who visited her last evening.

The woman panics and call the police while she still sits on her bed. “I think I’ve been raped,” she reports summarily to the authorities.

A female receptionist asks her, “Ma’am, can you come to the station and speak to a detective?”

“Can I talk to a detective now? I don’t know,” Tiffany admits confused. Tiny fractions of last night begin crystallizing in her brain.

“One moment,” the receptionist tells Tiffany after first soliciting the woman one more time to come downtown on her own volition.

A male detective then answers the waiting call. “Hello, Officer Panchecker. How can I help you?”

“I think I remember he tied me up,” Tiffany stammers as she works her mind hard to recall of what she has the impression was sheer chaos.

“Immobilized,” she clearly remembers she heard him say. She mentions that to Officer Panchecker, but Tiffany neglects to share she now recalls the Doctor told her, “It will be more enjoyable if you don’t move, but it is difficult for a beginner.”

“Do you know who this guy was?” the detective asks Tiffany.

“He said he was the Doctor,” she answers.

“Did he give his a last name?”

“No.”

Then she remembers the Doctor said, “I’ll give you a little help.” Memory of the statement excites her; it makes her feel a little randy.

She begins wondering too late if whatever she did with the odd stranger last night was consensual. After saying, “He said he was going to use his scarf but he didn’t.”

Tiffany remembers he said, “The whole concept is overused, besides, it’s torn.” Her memory is just like the man was standing next to her and now said the same.

“Janis thorn,” she unconsciously utters. She does her best to imitate the Doctor’s voice.

The detective wonders, “What?”

“Nothing,” she tells the police. “I’ve made a mistake. I think it’s something I did.”

“Ma’am, were drugs involved,” the officer asks. “Are you now under the influence?”

“Sorry,” she begs Panchecker. “I’m remembering… no, no drugs. I’m sorry for wasting your time.”

Ending the call, Tiffany allows recent events to clarify themselves in her mind. Last night becomes vivid. The seamstress asked the Doctor, “What on Earth is a Janis thorn?”

“Not on Earth, Tiffany,” he replied elusively.

Revery then seemed to capture his attention. “They were left here, left behind by someone I knew.”

“What happened to her?” Tiffany knows she asked. And she is still jealous.

“Oh Leela, we recently traveled together for awhile” confesses the Doctor. “She became stationary. Stuck to some poor, static bloke on Gallifrey.”

“Gallifrey?”

“My home planet.”

“You’re not from Earth,” Tiffany stated.

The Doctor told her, “I think that should be obvious.”

She objected. “But we look alike.”

“Let me tell you something about the facts concerning panspermia. It’s all very exciting.”

Then is when those two began undressing themselves. The Doctor told his robotic dog, “K-9, record this.”

“Is he going to watch?” Tiffany asked about the talking machine.

“Why not?” The Doctor suggested without wearing his coat. A swath of his swollen bare chest plainly shows from beneath the wide collar of his loose frill shirt. The ragged scarf remained draped around him.

“We share everything, don’t we, K-9?” the Doctor teased his electric dog.

“Yes, master,” replied the novel, self-propelled computer.

“Good, boy,” the Doctor smooched

“Yes, master.”

“Say that to me,” the Doctor impulsively instructed Tiffany.

She tried saying so aloud. “Master?”

“No, don’t,” he directly countermands. “That doesn’t sound right. Try the other one.”

“Doctor?” she asked him before he seizes her in bandy, swashbuckler arms.

“Oh, thank you, Tiffany.”

They dropped themselves into a four poster bed the pair found in another impossible room. The dog had come along then Tiffany and the Doctor made love. He brought out toys and he suggested adventures. The seamstress consented to every one.

Then came the Janis thorn. “Deadly poison,” the Doctor explained. “But if one knows how to use it right, to introduce a miniscule, non-lethal dose in order to produce partial paralysis… well, ecstasy.”

Tiffany temporarily lost sensation in her legs, but then she and her incomprehensible lover copulated like humans in their most primitive state. She thought about television then and what her experience resembled. The seamstress could only imagine the alien Spock from Star Trek, suffering Pon farr. She felt like him, that character from the sex-deprived planet Vulcan. Passion drove her mad.

The two spent an inestimable time away from civilization – in which they slept, had sex and Tiffany knitted. She stitched his long scarf together. And, oh, the places the Doctor described and all he had shown her, but Tiffany never got dinner and that was okay. The Doctor, said to her when they were finished and happy, “Next Wednesday then? Let’s say we do this every week or so, if you knew me, but you will.”

Tiffany agreed. Afterward and back at home again, she had not lost a moment in time. Maybe a minute had passed on the clocks in her house last evening before the Doctor flew away. This morning and after recovering her memories, she thinks about life in one place. She contemplates ending the long separation from her dull and unchanging husband and finishing their divorce.

– Matthew Sawyer

(Available soon from Smashwords)

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The Corpus Cat Chapter Three of Thirteen

September 9, 2014

The Corpus Cat

Mr. Binger

Chapter Three of Thirteen

This cloudy Sunday morning, the Corpus couple come back together in his SUV from a Protestant church service at Saint Luke’s. They go once every month. Neither Dana nor Barry are religious people. They are not, as Barry always imagines the comic book icon, Stan Lee, would say, “True believers.”

And when Barry inks the sketches of the merry fatherly figure in his mind, he always imagines an animated Mr. Lee brandishes a silver cross and simultaneously expels bloodsuckers.

Suddenly guilty that he allows a childhood Satanic temptation to distract him so soon after sitting an hour on an uncomfortable wooden bench under the presence of God, Barry attends his original thought. He thinks as if seized in prayer.

Spiritually, he and Dana pledged to each other their own negotiated understanding of the popular and maligned Pascal Wager. Neither of them ever speak about God, they are not evangelical, not in the least. And if they were ever asked – and they never have been and they do not fear they ever will be – they would not deny His existence.

If He exists, Barry is certain he will know after being dead. And he will gladly shake the Lord’s hand and ask Him when his wife will be arriving. He is confidant they both deserve heaven. Nothing about this daydream is morbid, and merely a curiosity until he and wife arrive at home.

An unusual lightning snap whitens the sky the same second Barry raises the automatic garage door. A nearby boom rocks the stalled vehicle. Inside the SUV, Dana goes, “Whoa, that was bizarre.”

“It’s a winter lightning storm,” Barry tells her with no emotion. He takes the vehicle inside. The garage door closes as the couple open their own. He comments with a drawl, “It’s rare but not uncommon.”

“What?” Dana laughs.

Her husband continues his indistinct impression. “It’s a backwards expression from the rurals of these parts.”

“A backward education, it sounds like,” she judges.

They go into the house while Barry explains, “It means something happens sometimes.”

Dana submits her criticism to her husband when they are in the kitchen. “Who can call this winter, there hasn’t been snow all year. It’s just been cold.”

“It’s because the dry air.”

The Corpus exchange their thick jackets for thicker sweaters and automatically gather leftover meals from the days before the end of the week. Joining the couple in the living room, and appearing as fluffy as the two human beings, Dodgie comes in sniffing the air.

Outdoors, the wind suddenly sounds faster and more fierce. This force of nature presses the house the opposite direction and makes its walls creak. The windows rattle, too, but because the wind is constant, most of the glass panes clack against their sills once and stay pinned against their braces. Dodgie stops in his immaculate tracks and stares out the window.

“Ooo,” Dana expresses for everyone. Dodgie stays absolutely quiet and does not recognize the people in the room – two things the cat does best.

Blown debris flies past the undrawn window and Dana asks the animal, “Dodgie, did you see that?”

He obviously had and the cat trots into the center of the room then jumps onto the shelf below the opening. Barry broadcasts the event action. “There he goes.”

Clearly visible over the cat’s hunched shoulders, Dana and Barry watch in high clarity as late and forgotten holiday decorations are torn off houses, lifted into the sky and scattered throughout the neighborhood. Given the rage outside, the paper trash will likely go blown all over the city. And given the strength of its wind, the ornaments probably come all the way from Des Moines, Iowa. Dodgie lies rapt and scrutinizes the transformed landscape.

Indeed, the cat transforms himself into furry brick. And when a bolt of lightning hits so close to the house, and when all the windows tick as if pelted with gravel, and when the whole interior of the house is injected with white light, Dodgie remains at the glass unbothered.

“Holy!” Barry shouts after the thunder settles and he, all himself, tries to make a louder crack. Dodgie doesn’t bother with even that.

“Did you see?” Barry asks his wife. “Dodgie didn’t budge. He is either blind and deaf or he’s got balls of steel.”

Blinking her eyes, Dana inquires, “Isn’t he neutered?”

“I didn’t have the faith to take him to Bris.”

She scolds him. “Barry…”

Dodgie apparently hears her say a name and he turns his head almost completely around. The cat looks at Dana. His green eyes tell her he expects she will show him something interesting. And neither the cat nor Dana know what that something might be.

Barry makes a projection. “I think he wants to grow up in one piece.”

His wife slaps him on his shoulder and Barry argues, “We did, and keeping all of our parts was good enough for us.”

Without warning, Dana suddenly feels she will drop the smile from her face. The woman’s flush cheeks pale and droop and the corners of her lips quiver. Her husband instantly sees the depressed affect and he changes the subject. Barry points her attention to something odd and obvious. Distractions like these more often seem to help swing her mood.

“Dodgie has been scratching in his litter box a long time.”

The Corpus couple had not noticed when their pet cat jumped from in front of the window. And accustomed to his sneaking around, they weren’t particular concerned where he had gone. Outside, the wind dies and the storm has already passed. They missed its last gasp.

“I know,” Dana says dazed and more chipper. “What is he doing? You look, Barry. Whatever he covered up, he’s probably uncovered it.”

“Gee, thanks!”

And in spite of being assigned the foul chore, Barry is aware he now investigates anything unusual in the bathrooms now and ever after. His wife calls from the living room while he passes through the kitchen. “I love you.”

“Yeah. I love you, too, sweetie,” he replies then goes into the downstairs half-bath alone.

A sulfurous odor identical to that one last night makes the air in this potty-cupboard humid and acidic. Barry thinks aloud, and maybe for Dodgie’s understanding, “Damned if it is the tofu tuna, it’s probably those treats for your teeth.”

Barry switches on the overheard fan with the same motion he uses when he flips on a light. The man is shocked. Certainly, there are cat turds in the litter box and there is more. Dodgie’s silhouette dashes away in a radiant blur. Barely catching the image, Barry assumes it’s all part of one cat. He then resumes acting aghast.

When he gazes into the litter once more, he sees the feces is stale and embedded with saturated silica crystals. The fossilized feline pellets don’t truly smell but they should have been flushed when they were fresh two days ago.

Cat scatology aside, Barry sees the name of his deceased son. “Again?”

Dana overhears him ask himself in a loud voice. She already knows the answer but she repeats the question and asks her husband, “Again?”

“Yes,” he says beneath his breath. He meant not to say anything even if this reply went unheard.

The name today is written in cursive, drawn across the ragged lumps of litter. The writing confuses him and appears written by someone other than the artist who printed the bloody letters upstairs. The script has been etched much better than indicated by the crosshatch scratches the Corpus had heard from the other room.

Acting on instinct as much as the damned admission slipped out of his mouth because alarm, Barry drags the sole of his dress shoe through the glass beads, digging up stiff logs of poop and setting them on their ends. He chides himself, “Hey, you, remember to dump this one, too, when you do the box upstairs.”

Eager for an answer, Dana asks her husband again, “Really?”

His answer is stalled so long, she joins him in the kitchen. Dana stands directly behind the man and pokes her nose against the back of his neck. Unexpected of her, she insists, “Don’t erase it.”

“You want to see it?” Barry had not wished it for himself, and he is surprised his wife wants to view the evidence.

“Too late,” he says before she discovers he’s wiped the writing away.

“Why?” Dana asks him before she sees what he’s done. Her question is the same but she does not repeat herself. When she sees, she says, “Oh, Barry.”

He tells her, “I’m sorry. I was thinking of you…”

“I know,” she says when she interrupts him. Dana rolls her head and grasps her husband’s arm. He wraps his other around her back and hugs the woman.

“Are you sure it was there?” she asks him. Barry starts wondering about himself.

Dana points at the overfilled litter box. “Dump that, please.”

… continued tomorrow…

 

 

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Clara is Dead! Long Live Clara! – Doctor Who fan fiction

August 19, 2014

Clara is Dead! Long Live Clara!

I like Jenna-Louise Coleman. I think her acting in the BBC television series Doctor Who is worthwhile Sci-Fi. But honestly, her character, Clara Oswald, sucks. Steven Moffat never really developed a good backstory for the character. And with season eight of the 2005 reboot of the languishing program soon airing worldwide, it is obvious the man stopped trying. So be it. One has to let eggs drop so that more might be saved. Alas, I believe the actress herself is worth salvage. Give Ms. Coleman a new role on the show, I propose. Bring back a favorite face, I dare say. I mean a rewarding character. I elect Romanadvoratrelundar, the Time Lady from Gallifrey. Jenna rejoins Peter Capaldi on Doctor Who in this exciting new role.

Clara is Dead! Long Live Clara! is a fictional story. Doctor Who and the characters in this story are properties of Doctor Who. I submit this tale as a fan for fans of the Doctor Who television series.

Clara is Dead! Long Live Clara! by Matthew Sawyer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Please contact the author for permissions beyond the scope of this license.

Clara is Dead! Long Live Clara!

Matthew Sawyer

Clara Oswald has no idea why she stays around. The Doctor is a maniac. He was more considerate when he was a different man. “When he wasn’t so old,” she deliberately thinks.

“Oh,” the Doctor’s companion tells herself aloud. “He’s the same Time Lord. His face has changed….”

The TARDIS is jolted and the young woman grabs a safety rail inside the console room. She is then prompt and complains. “And his whole personality, that’s all.”

The perturbed young lady tells the Doctor on the other side of the console, “You were more considerate before. A gentleman. Slow down. Let me rest if you’re not tired.”

“I’m never tired,” the Doctor declares and he flips levers on the carousel control board. His time and space ship straightens itself upright.

“I remember,” he shouts and presses a single button repeatedly. “An old friend.”

The incredible machine groans and everyone knows it is about to materialize. Clara grumbles. “Oh, where are we now?”

“Home,” he answers. “My home, Gallifrey.”

“Oh,” Clara chirps suddenly chipper. “Is your friend here?”

She strolls around the console while the Doctor remains hunched and attached to its switches and dials. The young woman teases the fixed pilot. “Why else come home?”

The Doctor sounds sarcastic when he tells her, “I don’t know. It’s been about six hundred years since I’ve seen her last and I guess sometimes I wonder how she is getting on.”

“What’s her name?” Clara asks and bites her lower lip.

“Romana.”

“I’d like to see her.”

“You will,” he replies in a raised voice. “Get out. Take a look – there’s a light flashing on the console.”

Clara stops mid-step toward the time machine’s exit door. “What is it?”

“Parking authority,” he scoffs. “Evidently, I can’t park here. I’ve got to go somewhere else.”

The Doctor’s female companion stays paused near the door. “I’ll come with you.”

“No,” demands the Time Lord. “Get out. Go. Clear your head.”

The advice resonates with Clara. His precise phrases make her paranoid, but the errant school teacher has felt so about him since she first met the genius alien. He periodically makes her uneasy. And she feels as if he can read her mind.

“I will,” Clara answers the Doctor. “If it’s okay with you.”

“Go, get out, look around. I’ll be right back. I’ll meet you here.”

She cracks wise. “When?”

“Eh…”

The moment she opens the exit door, shouts come in from outside. “Take this junk to the shipyard or we’ll ship it to the junkyard. You can’t bring it here, take it to the spatially-bound staging lots.”

The TARDIS dematerializes leaving Clara alone outside the time machine. The abandoned companion sees she’s been left in a strange cathedral, a wild exaggeration with an impossibly high ceiling. The enormous walls appear made of balsa slats and paper panes – like those found in medieval Japanese noble homes.

Silly soldiers dressed in shining and ornate plastic armor tinted red come and meet Clara Oswald here in this spacious antechamber. She tells the dispatch there with their crystal pistols, “I’m with someone. He’s coming back.”

“Is he?” an ancient woman asks her. The question is sincere.

“Sure,” Clara affirms for her own good. “The Doctor has to park the TARDIS. That’s his name, the Doctor.”

She mumbles, “It’s still him,” then says aloud, “He’s meeting me here.”

“Clara?” asks the older woman while she approaches the young companion.

Clara wonders, “How did you know?”

She remembers her suspicion about the Doctor and she assumes everyone of his race all have telepathy. He does read her mind, he has the whole time. Her human brain is stuck contemplating how she can cope being someplace where everyone knows her thoughts. Clara stands chewing her lower lip and knitting her brow until the other woman interrupts her morass.

“I’m Romana.”

“Oh.” Clara wipes her hands before taking that of the hostess. “I am Clara Oswald. I haven’t actually known him that long – the Doctor that is.”

“Well, you have,” Romana tells her. The mysterious deepens when she says, “But that is another story.”

“I’ve known the Doctor for centuries,” the worn Time Lady informs the ripe companion. “I was assigned to keep an eye on him.”

“Oh,” Clara states unsurprised.

Romana clarifies, “He was in a different reincarnation…”

“I know how that goes,” Clara blurts.

Romana finishes. “A long time ago.”

The companion promises the old companion and nanny, “You won’t recognize him now. He’s regenerated again.”

“I know,” Romana tells Clara. “It was big news on Gallifrey, unprecedented. The Doctor had been so wasteful with his lives.”

“That hasn’t changed,” Clara gripes. She talks about herself. Inside, she admits she has witnessed his tremendous sacrifices. The man was a hero and she feels guilty about her distrusting him.

“Thank you, Clara,” Romana tells the human. “Time Lords live so long, we forgot how precious life is. You helped the council remember how appreciation feels. Your words were a gift to awaken the dead.”

“Thanks?” Clara wonders.

“Let’s go to Borusa’s old office,” Romana suggests. “I’m about to have it remodeled but mine has just been started. I was going to take the day off, but by now you probably know about Time Lords. We are a restless bunch – that’s why there are laws against our intervention. I had to stay busy.”

Clara agrees with as much as she is able to relate with. “You’re telling me. Whew.”

Romana’s red escort marches away while the two women walk the opposite direction. The Time Lady leads the way by one step ahead of the unattended companion.

“Who?” Clara also inquires. “Borusa?”

“He was the Doctor’s former teacher. The man walked a controversial path, like everyone our mutual friend knows.”

“Mine is pretty straight,” opines the human woman. “I think.”

“Examine your company,” Romana reminds her.

“I’m not judgmental,” Clara assures herself aloud.

“Come to think of it, I believe I’ve met you before,” Romana tells the other woman nonchalant while she pushes open a pair of great leaden doors. A bomb then explodes from inside the room behind the loose slag-marked slabs. Both Clara and Romana die when the tiny women are crushed.

Romana then awakes with a new face. Indeed, her whole body has changed. She is a new woman with the same name. The Time Lady is proud because the fact. She praises a planet as she gets up and on her feet. “Thank you, Karn.”

Appreciation for the Sisterhood’s Art swells both of Romana’s hearts. Regeneration is erratic without the knowledge of their spiritual methods and practice. Without their help, she would have been confused. Their miraculous elixir would have been ideal but the Time Lady was reborn into the form she visualized. Romana had seen another hero while she floated in her lucid dream of death.

The Doctor then finally arrives one more time.

“Clara,” he shouts. “What happened? You look all right. Dirty, but yeah-uh…”

“Thank you for noticing,” Romana responds. “Uh-hem, it’s nice to see you too.”

“Is someone dead?” the Doctor yells. The Time Lord drags his foot against the ceramic while red armored soldiers come and investigate the explosion from Borusa’s old office. More red comes scraped from the sole of his boot.

“Yes,” Romana reports. “I was telling your companion about the disease we Time Lords suffer because we live so long over and over again. Our apathy.”

The Doctor mentions, “It’s because of all your rules.”

A pall then falls over the Doctor’s anxious expression. “What?”

Romana mentions, “I’m sorry, Doctor. Clara is dead.”

“No,” he groans. No one is certain what the man denies.

He implies a thousand questions when he asks the air, “Who?”

“I’m Romana,” she tells him. “I was here when she was killed. We both were – I lost a life.”

“Sabotage, my lady,” a soldier tells the Time Lady before he goes back to investigating.

Romana and the Doctor face each other widemouthed and overhear another soldier identify, “Sontaran.”

“You look different,” she mentions to him out of hand before the Doctor shouts, “I wasn’t here. I didn’t see this, I can fix this.”

“Doctor,” Romana begs. She follows him when he spins around and runs the length of the Citadel cathedral. She shouts while she pursues her longtime friend. “I think I know what you’re doing. Your sense of boundaries got you in trouble during your last set of regenerations, don’t waste your new lives.”

“It’s what I do,” he yells when they arrive together at his TARDIS. “I save people.”

His new self and the newer Romana jump into the time machine, which then disappears. The sound the TARDIS makes as it vanishes is especially tedious this trip. Its noise is even more tired when the machine reappears nowhere else except back a small hop in time. Although, from a perspective inside the TARDIS, that same time is frozen. It’s stopped in the past.

The Doctor and Romana save minutes while an impromptu, prolonged discussion first interrupts then delays Clara’s impractical rescue. The Time Lord is angry. He shouts at the fresh disguise of his old companion. “Why her? Why would you look like her?

The Doctor then immediately apologizes as he always has. “What I mean is…”

“It’s terribly swell to see you again, Romana. You’re one of my favorite people. I’m happy for your change, but you look like her because Clara died. How can you do that? Change back.”

“I came back to Gallifrey just to see your face. Wash-up, for goodness sake. You’re covered in ash. And is that a scab of blood?”

“Thank you, Doctor, but no,” she tells him. “I looked like I was about to topple over. Clara was a pretty girl – and fit. You’ve always like the athletics ones.”

“You did this last time,” he grumbles. A critical point then occurs to the Doctor. He reminds Romana, “Hey, they were people, human beings,”

“They weren’t Time Lords,” she retorts.

The Doctor argues. “They were still important.”

Romana confesses, “Clara still is a hero to the people of Gallifrey.”

“So you take her face?” he snorts.

“Why not? She’s been fashionable all year.”

“I think all of you have confused memorial for fashion,” the Doctor judges. “I’m happy I don’t stay here.”

“Perhaps,” concludes Romana. Her changing the topic is abrupt. “Doctor, the officer said it was the Sontarans.”

Happy the conversation now moves at a speed he is accustomed with, the Doctor replies, “I heard.”

Resentment deep in her belly compels Romana to elaborate. “They invaded our home planet after you were made president.”

“That was hardly my fault.”

“You abdicated your position after you vanished and didn’t come back.”

The Doctor argues, “I came back.”

“You were summoned, again.”

“Humph.”

He is grumpy, but his old companion has heard him act this way before and most of the time. She ignores his mood – one she knows he probably pretends – and Romana reminds him, “I think they hid a bomb in Borusa’s office when you on Gallifrey with that jungle girl. I saw the recordings in the Matrix.”

The Doctor grins. “Yes, Leela. Show some respect.”

He suddenly acts outraged. “Is that what this is all about?”

“You threw her into the wastelands.”

“For her own good.”

“Listen, Doctor,” Romana commands. “How far back in time have we come? Do you have a plan?”

“Do you?” he asks her, embarrassingly open to ideas. “I remember when Commander Stor had access to Borusa’s room. We’re here then.”

“That was an awfully long time ago.”

“I know.”

Romana calculates, “I think the bomb was set to go off when a sensor detected your DNA.”

“You think?” the Doctor answers as if he casts blame. “What about Clara? She’s the one who is dead.”

The Time Lady stays calm. “Obviously, a little of you had worn off on the girl.”

The Doctor is humbled and he states, “Right.”

Fiddling with controls on the TARDIS console, he tells Romana, “I suppose that’s the reason I didn’t come back on my free will; mysterious forces, hooey and all. Let’s not talk about it and let’s just rescue the girl.”

“Are you going to stop him, Commander Stor?” she wonders. “Aren’t you worried about causing a Paradox? I won’t look like this.”

“Good,” he replies.

“Time starts over when you open the TARDIS door. You don’t want to do anything bad.”

His tone is firm when he tells Romana, “Paradox? Nooo…”

“Doctor…”

He stomps his foot. “Someone I know died.”

Romana never relents. “Well, what are you going to do?”

The Doctor blows air up his nostril. “Well, considering the time…”

“Don’t be fallacious.”

“I’m not that,” he replies radiant with mischief.

“You haven’t changed, Doctor,” Romana grants the man. “You never will.”

She looks at herself. “Wait, I suppose Clara brought some of her clothes on board. I assume she came with you in the TARDIS. Let me change before we go outside.”

The Doctor frowns, points down an unfamiliar hallway and says nothing. Romana does not try to understand and she goes the way her old friend has directed.

“Good,” he eventually says after she has left the console room. The Doctor shouts, “Put on someone uglier.”

“What do you mean?” Romana calls from anywhere in the bowels or rafters of the time machine.

The Time Lord waves his hand from where he pauses near the exit of his marvelous spacecraft. “Pff.”

Once he never verbalizes his expression, Romana asks the Doctor from outside the room, “Do you want me to bring you a tie? I noticed you weren’t wearing one.”

“No,” he yells.

She informs no one when she ponders aloud, “I’m not going outside. I don’t want to meet myself. I am sure I was in the Citadel the day of your coronation.”

The Time Lady walks back into the console room wearing a blue summer dress. Her pale thighs are largely exposed and tinted cool shades reflected off the borrowed garment. “How do I look?”

She asks nobody. The Doctor had left Romana alone in the TARDIS with no one to talk with. She now stomps her red sandshoe and searches for a clue as to what her old friend is up to now.

“Oh,” she complains. “He’s moved everything around, like I didn’t expect that. They’ll all be different tomorrow.”

“Darn him.”

The same time she curses, Romana finds an external monitor. The Doctor had steered the flat screen’s vista toward vestibules run from the big antechamber. Borusa’s old office is located there. Watching for her friend, Romana notices the decoration.

“Wait,” she desperately mentally projects to the Doctor. She can’t know if he receives her message only because they’ve been separated so long.

Nevertheless, she thinks loud. “Look at the ornaments, Doctor. Look out a window. We landed on the wrong coordinates. We never went back in time.”

She criticizes his shadow when it appears on the view screen. “You’re no better at flying the TARDIS than I remember.”

The lead doors of Borusa’s office are closed and the previous she and Clara are nowhere in sight. Romana is grateful she and the Doctor are early. She contemplates the bomb.

“Doctor, where is your head?” She scowls when his image appears on the viewer. “Don’t you remember? The explosive is triggered by your DNA.”

“I’ve got to warn him,” she urges herself. “This is such an unnecessary waste of a life.”

Yet in the guise of Clara Oswald, Romana dashes from the sanctuary of the time machine and goes searching for the Doctor. She must warn him not to open Borusa’s office.

“Doctor,” she shouts.

Romana hears her new self say, “That sounded like me.”

The Time Lady turns around and meets a living Clara. She and her doppelganger are yet dozens of meters away from each other, but the two identical woman do find the eyes of the other. The Doctor is also there. And he is too far away. He is safe from what is about to happen, and the Time Lord can’t get close in time to help.

The old Romana opens a lead door and the room inside explodes.

The next Romana watches herself die. Before her body regenerates, her future incarnation sees she is dead. The Time Lady realizes that moment she wastes her life. She looks at the Doctor standing agape in front of her.

“Well, I’m about to get here,” are the only words he will utter. Romana follows her friend back to the TARDIS. She grills him only when they are alone together inside the time machine.

“Are you satisfied? You only made a horrible event more set in stone.”

“You still need someone looking over your shoulder,” she admits to her companion. “Someone who knows what she is doing. I’m coming with you. We’ll go do something anybody can do for your dead friend. We’ll go to Earth.”

The Time Lady drives the Doctor’s time machine without a sound. During the flight through space and time, Romana wonders, “Clara was that little girl we met together on Earth. It was Christmas time, is that right?”

The Doctor nods his head. His face appears fallen and dull but Romana might swear she sees him glow when she speaks to her friend. She continues talking to him.

“That was quite a while ago – and you still traveled with her? Hold on, she is the Impossible Girl. I remember her story, it’s why Gallifrey is in love with her beyond what is simply popular.”

“Say,” ponders the Time Lady. “She constantly pops up through time and saves your life.”

“Fragments,” growls the Doctor.

Romana tries to sound convincing. “You might see her again. Or are you two done? Was that it?”

“I’m only curious,” Romana mutters in silence after she realizes she has mentioned too much.

She asks the brooding Doctor, “Is she done?”

“Apparently not,” he answers after she asks him again. He looks directly into the face of his companion.

The Time Lord pledges, “I’m going to fix this.”

“Not alone,” Romana tells him.

“We will think about the solution first and take our time. Did you forget, Doctor? You always do. Time is on our side. That is our luxury.”

The Time Lady smiles wide enough for the both of them. “And we’re together again. Let’s remind ourselves what it is like to be alive.”

– END –

Read more of Matthew Sawyer’s Doctor Who fan fiction at Smashwords.

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Mary of Bethezuba One Day Lost Her Mind

August 12, 2014

One Christian mystery that believers are content is left among the addressable riddles of their unknowable Lord is the Eucharist. That sacrament with consecrated bread and wine transubstantiated into human flesh and blood is merely scorned by skeptics. The obvious inferences of cannibalism is pedestrian. Authors such as Kenneth Humphreys and Joseph Atwill do consider the problem, but they and few others deeply discuss the origin of this terrible miracle.

Someone knows for certain. When I was a curious adolescent, somebody from my Protestant church mentioned the ritual of communion began so that pagans might be lured into the Christian belief. The language of blood and gore was only a metaphor. Savages liked those sorts of things.

“Nobody can know for certain what Jesus said or what he did,” my pastor preached as much in a sermon. He stated the equivalent of…

“The New Testament was a wonderful compilation of second and third-hand testament. Hearsay.”

Every author except Paul was suspect. That apostle was a special case, and even then, he appeared late after the crucifixion. Understand, the congregation in my hometown believed the Good Book was just another book. Faith and Trust in the Lord were the true messages. All the rest was dark and barren.

“Jesus did live and does still,” the faithful there say today. “He was resurrected.”

Essentially they tell us that He lives in our hearts and its all very probable the One-True-God will come back. “Jesus does live,” after all, as vaguely circular and mysterious as that sounds. There is the whole consideration with the Living Word and who might that be. The identity of this spiritual being and the Holy Ghost are yet comfortably unknown. There is probably something relevant about them in the dusty Old Testament – I bet somewhere in Psalms.

The Protestant church in my hometown held up the latter early Epistles of Paul. They contain all that anyone needs to know about the Faith. Followers insist his approach at gathering the flock was the best, the most productive. He surmised himself in a letter to the Church in Corinth, Greece.

“19 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.”

1 Corinthians 9:19-23 (NIV)

The subterfuge and Paul’s naked hypocrisy are considered merits where I come from. “Any means to an end,” people there say. “As long as those ends justify their means.”

They mean those means are for the good of local Protestants at service on any particular Sunday in a year. Those same honest, hardworking folks dependably vote Republican, too, regardless their personal interests and living wages. Any suffering done wherever it comes from is in love for the Lord. Principles like this scapegoat in Southern Wisconsin are truly born twisted and deformed.

My contempt grows overt despite my attempt to stay sublime. Forgive me, and please permit me to talk about the Liturgy again. I do appreciate a patient reader. I, too, am inclined to think the morbid sacrament was not merely a metaphor. There are black roots to this aspect of the Last Supper.

Whereas, I fail to find accreditation or an example, I have read Shakespeare created a woman he called Cannibal Mary for use in his plays. The character was a suspicious parody of the Virgin Mary – although, this seems as much gossip as the Canonical Gospels.

My writing itself is about to become positively sanguinary, so I will first express I do understand there is community in communion. Any event in which food is shared generates camaraderie. The symbolism is visually primal; images erupt in which families are brought together, strangers are met at meal times and friends are made. Bonds are renewed.

Yet the message of fellowship is divorced from what makes the Eucharist memorable. Just before, I abruptly mentioned a ghostly Shakespeare’s Cannibal Mary and I will return to that point, for she is my true subject. The New Testament verses which bring me to consider the woman are purportedly born out of the very mouth of our exalted savior. It is written…

26 … Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” 27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the[a] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

Matthew 26:26-28 (NIV)

The author of Luke was a little more succinct…

19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”

Luke 22:19-20 (NIV)

Come on, look at what He said, it’s elementary. Jesus was talking about cannibalism. He said it more plain than when my mom told me,  “Take your brothers fingers out of your mouth!”

Why would the messiah even bring up something like that? Where does the idea of eating Him come from? But people remember He said it.

I cannot think of anywhere in the Old Testament that mentions anything pertaining to the stomach-churning presumption. The topic isn’t really discussed or even so much attributed to heathens. We are not suppose to eat each other, I know that. There are criminal laws against it in the United States of America.

I suppose people eat the Passover lamb, but what does that have to do with anything religious? I was taught Jews once made blood sacrifices to God, but I never heard anything special about the flesh of the animal. And the goat was certainly never a human being… well…

I assumed the kosher carcass was discarded as a matter of course. I never cared, it was what the Jews did and don’t anymore. The leftovers would not miraculously return the following year and be the same lamb. An idea like that was pagan, especially if a person was substituted for an animal sacrifice during an equinox or more often a solstice.

Today, the more liberal observers of Judaism cannot possibly believe their individual quests to discover God have anything to do with killing people – that goes against the Sixth commandment. The act is desperate and mad.

And a Mary of Bethezuba is one who smashed that binary commandment one day she lost her mind. People across the civilized world heard about the incident and remembered it for a long time. Indeed, I told you I have read Shakespeare referred to the woman involved as late as the 16th century. This was Cannibal Mary. Her story maybe inspired the ritual of consuming loathsome symbols. She perhaps contributed an apparent message to the Last Supper.

The Romano-Jewish scholar Josephus documented Mary in his history “Jewish War,” 75 CE.  Josephus was born in a Roman-dominated Jerusalem and emigrated to Greece, so the ‘Romano’ part of the preface describes the scholar as a citizen of the ancient Roman Empire. Indeed, the Emperor Titus Flavius Vespasianus made the man his historian.

Josephus documented the Flavian campaign to destroy the temple of Jerusalem in 70 CE. Actually, I believe trouble started four years earlier in 66 CE when statues of Caesar were to be erected in temples of every order and denomination. The Emperor was to be worshiped as the supreme god. Fundamentalist Jews could not stand that, nor would any devote Christian or Muslim in this age.

The scholar Josephus wrote about a siege Titus waged against those who denied his divinity. The Emperor surrounded the three walls of Jerusalem with his Roman army. The whole population was punished. The Roman army stopped food and water from entering the city. And to exasperate the deprivation, Titus let pilgrims enter the starving chaos Jerusalem had become so that they could celebrate Passover then never leave. No one was let outside the walls.

Josephus wrote the captured population turned against itself. Hungry gangs roamed inside their prison looking for food and treasure. They are written to have found a wealthy widow with her newborn child. Her name was Mary of Bethezuba. She became perpetually robbed. Thieves took her food until Passover came. The beleaguered woman then snapped. Mary went crazy.

The woman slaughtered her son, baked his corpse and started eating him after the ritual fast ended and the day was done. Thieves smelled the roasted meat, followed a sickly-sweet aroma through the dark and found the source.

Discovered, Mary presented to her habitual robbers the uneaten portions of her child. “He is a myth to the world,” Josephus stated she claimed. He said the woman’s revolted oppressors fled. People for centuries have remembered for themselves what happened at the siege. Nobody needed to read what a Roman scholar wrote.

I feel inclined to believe the tale is repeated today. Here is the origin of Transubstantiation, its symbols carry vague and needling and unshakable meaning. And it is the muddled story of Mary and the sacrifice of her son at Passover that makes the Last Supper unforgettable. We remember vicariously the bread is the flesh of her infant child. The blood is his. The woman’s convoluted damnation possibly made the Liturgy memorable.

The constant controversy involves dates. The tedious piece of this research in summary testifies Rome sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the temple a second time in 70 CE. The Gospel of Mark, in which whose author first records the events of the Last Supper, was also written about 70 CE. Scholars think 70 CE is more precise because the author of Mark mentions the destruction of the Temple Jerusalem. The dates of both these events incriminate themselves in conspiracy because their proximity.

The authors of the Gospels had certainly overheard something about the infamous Mary of Bethezuba. If they were Jewish, Gnostic or freshly Christian, I imagine news from Jerusalem would have been the priority of his day. Atrocities in the Promised Land would have most certainly overshadowed reports from a besieged of Masada. I think much of the struggle was incorporated into their books. Scholars have even stated the conflicts with Rome are what the Book of Revelation is about.

Christian apologists argue the Gospels have been preached by word-of-mouth since about 40 CE. The possibility may have merit, but there is no proof. The Apostle Paul never talked about the Last Supper, nor the birth of Jesus nor His life on Earth. Before the Gospels, we sinners only heard about what He had done for us and what we needed to do to show Him our appreciation. The First Apostle Paul wrote down as much. We can’t know what people said then to each other in conversation. Technically, we can’t even really know what Paul said was not made-up.

And you, reader, have no reason to believe me until you see for yourself. Read, just go ahead and read. Even then, people believe what they want to believe.

 

– Matthew Sawyer

 

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A Last Song for Supper

July 26, 2014

You might think twice about this little tale. If you know me and especially Mr. Binger, you will read exactly as you expect… but it’s the melody that keeps a true reader reading, not so the story. Of course, I say that and I’m accused of tricking readers into putting things they don’t want in their heads. There I repeat myself, if you know me and especially Mr. Binger, you will read exactly as you expect! I’m not saying I’m sorry.

 

A Last Song for Supper
Mr. Binger

 

The howls are loud and so constant they change into colored rays split from a prism sat in forgotten sunlight. Truly, all sensations turn into visible hues. The pain in this dungeon and radiant ripples caused by the torture here, torment burned into flesh, they are bright and they overwhelm an all-around bloody glow of hot coals. And after intense days, living prisoners pray for the relief of dark silence. Todd, the King’s warden, the scourge of the Lord, he is driven by another need.

“I’m hungry,” Todd shouts above sobs and wails. “It’s feeding time for this lot, too.”

The large warden talks to his three naked slaves and he is sure he is overheard by everyone who still has ears. “Now, what are we going to do?”

Gazing about the underground prison, Todd lifts a leather apron off and over his head. He wears this medieval garment when he smelts human limbs and skulls into bubbling globs of calcium and fat. Dead prisoners and those who will yet die have witnessed this terrible atrocity.

“Who will sing for our suppers?” chuckles the merry warden. He encourages his slaves to snicker with slaps and fierce pinches to their buttocks and balls.

After no prisoner replies, Todd shouts, “Come now, no one will hurt you when you’re singing. Everyone will relax and listen to your song. Come now. We will all finally eat in peace.”

Nobody laughs now. Todd stands grinning while his bruised slaves let their faces slip back into grimaces. Since the torture has stopped and the anguish has diminished to invisible whimpers and mewls, a famished prisoner wonders aloud, “You will feed us?”

The young man’s Eastern accent makes him sound to have said only “Feet” and “Ut.”

Todd happily rubs his own hirsute belly. He’s worn nothing beneath the apron all week except a soiled loin clothe and tall leather boots. Rubbed then itched, his digestive tract also seems to handle translations. “Yes.”

“Just sing?” asks a young woman very clearly on the floor and in shackles like everyone else.

Todd opens his mouth and smiles. The man has all his teeth and his canines are especially pointed. “Yes.”

“And you’ll feed us?” the starving youth verifies once more.

The warden makes an innocent request. “One pretty song.”

Todd then bats his eyes.

The young woman volunteers. “I’ll sing you a song. If you will feed us and let us go.”

“Go where?” Todd asks astonished. “Back to the Ottoman Empire?”

Nobody is given a chance to express an idea. Todd reminds the prisoners, “No, you are captives of our King Birger Magnusson. Truly, you are infidels.”

“We had no choice,” begs an old man. His Aramaic tongue smothers any comprehension of his words.

Todd starts telling his prisoner, “Shut up,” then stops himself. He believes they do not speak the same language. So instead, the warden knocks his knuckles against the bound man’s forehead. The hard clunk drowns everything else, even the weeping.

Only a sudden memory pulls Todd away from doing anything more grievous to the old fool. No one speaks to Todd unbidden. There is no appeal to the scourge of the Lord. Judgment has been passed and these weak traitors are made examples. This is where life ends and these sorrowful souls discover what language they need to use and please the one, true God.

“I know your name,” Todd tells the woman. “Penelope. You’re the atheist from Crete. You said you will sing us a song, a song for supper.”

“I did,” the girl affirms. She is smart and knows no one here may ask for more than what mercy Todd offers. “I’ll sing a pretty song if you give us a little peace.”

“Oh, yes.”

The young woman sings. Her voice cracks, she mumbles and forgets words most everyone else remember only once heard copied from the Book of Psalms. Todd feels offended. His tongue rolls into the back of mouth as he grabs an ax then lops off Penelope’s head.

Stepping away from a pulsing geyser, the warden addresses his surprised audience.“What did you think would happen?”

“It’s the same old song,” he tells this day’s surviving prisoners. “You’re all hear just to listen to the music.”

Todd amuses himself while he hacks off the hands and feet of the decapitated woman. He says aloud, “If King Birger is our Lord, down here I’m Lucifer. I’m never full.”

He lifts the corpse and allows metal cuffs to slip off the stumps at its wrists and ankles. The amputated limbs are left on the floor in heaps of limp chains and wet manacles. “I knew Penelope,” Todd says then proceeds with butchering the bleeding carcass.

“I remember she said she was a vegetarian. She didn’t eat meat. Now, she joins us for supper this eve.”

The devil chuckles more. “I hope for all your sakes, the woman tastes better than she sang.”

The barebacked warden cannot stop orating and end his drama. “There is why you are all hungrier than me. It’s why you are all so thin. You need to store some fat.”

The young man with his mangling accent truly replies for his last time, “I think you still would make us eat her first.”

–End–

 

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A Good Look At Him

July 14, 2014

I am aware readers are frustrated Pazuzu is not flying about terrifying people throughout the Pazuzu Trilogy. That’s not what the story is about. The trilogy follows the fiend from person to person until it settles on a body to possess. That comes halfway through Emergence. Readers who would rather visualize the demon in its monstrous shape would probably prefer Gaunt Rainbow, an addendum to the Pazuzu Trilogy.

It’s also about Identities, Yeah, the root of the Pazuzu tale is Pazuzu who assumes the shape of a boy and calls himself Davey, but there is is also Ben and the dead priest with the same name, There is Robber, who Ben was supposed to be before a visit to the center of the universe erased his mind. There is the anonymous Pontiff, the rotating priests. Readers jump around, sure, but these are all aspects of the demon, ripples of its manifestation. Emergence is when Pazuzu Emerges. And he is undone, forced to abey and reveal his true image.

 

 

 

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