Archive for the ‘Fantasy’ Category

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More of the Mortui Philosophies

June 18, 2018

 

 Mortui Philosophies

“The spawned element,
Rudra*,  consumed
The Living Darkness”

“Rudra uncovered the Light
Rudra gave the Darkness
To his Mother and Father
This was a gift.”

“These elements consumed
All the Darkness.
And gave birth to life.”

“The Elements gave
Life to us.”

“Then the Darkness was gone.
And our Mother and Father
Consumed their children.”

“The elements then birthed
Monsters.”

The Mortui Philosophies
The sketchbooks of the author
Matthew Sawyer

(BTW- that is Rudra’s brother, Awaran, who is speaking)

Images and music composed by Matthew Sawyer
All rights reserved

The horrible fiction of Matthew Sawyer is available for purchase from Lulu.com

Ebooks available from Smashwords.com

 

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The Beast Father of Westerly Farrell National Park

May 6, 2018

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The Beast Father of Westerly Farrell National Park

(for an older brother)

At ten years old, a spooky relative or a scary friend may have told you there had been a woman killed in nearby Westerly Farrell National Park. Her killer was never caught. This had not happened yesterday back then on that day you heard the tale. The horror legend was years old. Whoever had told you probably said the murder was mere months ago, but even then you knew. You knew a woman had died, but until that day, you did not know precisely where in Westerly Farrell National Park that this happened, nor any other detail. Gory minutiae was late to shimmer inside your mind’s eye. Whoever hoped to make you pee your pants surely told you about the Beast Father.

The Beast Father caught her,” they said then claimed, “And he fed her dismembered body parts to the animals.”

So much was nearly all of what you ever more heard. “There in Westerly Farrell National Park.”

Even so, there is where your family probably created your vacations. Westerly Farrell is where my own went camping and fishing. There are hiking trails, I’m sure you know about them, but my family never went hiking. Nobody was interested. My brother and sister and I went swimming.

We swam with the fishes, because there were so many. Have you seen them in Beckman Lake? They were always visible just beneath waves, they sometimes splashed from below. We went swimming almost all day almost every day. I wonder if the fish are still there; probably not with the drought. I do not know if swimming is even allowed anymore.

I wondered if the Beast Father was still there. Supposedly, he was; he still is. A bogeyman never dies – especially with all the fishes and tourists to eat. But Climate Change is real, and a killer madman cannot deny that. Even he has got to feed himself. I went looking for a man.

I was curious, and there was no risk. There had been no news of the Beast Father nor his victims since a thirty year old Halloween story was reprinted in the local newspaper twenty years ago. The writer laughed at himself then and pretended he was Stephen King. The impersonation of the more revered author was a costume. The reporter wore his stressed jeans and a tattered fleece jacket in a black and white photograph that he had snapped of himself on Merry Bluff in the park. Both scribes wore beards in that year. The photo appeared next to the printed text. Gary Foegel, I think was his name. I do not know what became of him and I have lived here all my life. The man might as well have vanished; for me, that is.

There had been nothing since I was a kid, and even that was old news – but, oh, the power of a tall tale. If the story is scary, it’s easier to remember – remembering is a survival mechanism. And this whole thing probably happened yesterday for a new ten year old kid. She or he may already dread to tremble alone in bed throughout this night.

That day I went to find the Beast Father, the sun was shining and I followed a trail in the park. This was ‘that’ trail; you know the one. Everyone says to this day, “If you want to meet the devil, take the path on the left, the untended, trodden footpath.”

The path was wide enough to fit a horse the year I climbed the trail – it’s all uphill. I noted and remember water must have washed through this way on its way downhill – smooth rocks resembling polished foreheads appeared from the yellow dirt. Even being dry, they were slippery. I almost broke my neck and I knew why nobody ever dared seek the local legend.

Even then, climbing back down was more risky than gaining the top of the hill and finding the second trail around the back. You now about the second trail, right? It’s not a secret. It’s on the maps, if you look.

So the road to Hell ends at a dead spring on the top of the hill; that sounds like a Greek fable, right? Like and unlike Sisyphus – hey, I bet that’s where the water came from and washed those rocks on the trail. Well, I guess that spring is not dead anymore, if that matters to anyone; after a hundred years.

There is a glade on top of the hill. I saw that and a bear. I almost crapped my pants for real, but before I did, I heard a hollow tone – someone chanted a song; a man, the man, I suspected. His rasping grunt vibrated the air with words I clearly understood. I remember what the Beast Father sang.

Atop the world to all the coasts

Our nation has long sailed

Our father dead

Our warriors bled

Through peril, his son prevailed.

Brother, we pledged to you our oath

You who adorned the crown

We took up oars

We lowered sails

And conquered foreign shores.

Oh, brother, when you, too, face death

Our love pledged to your son

For his promise

For your promise

And that of our father.

Our nation is yet one.

I can’t know if I sang that right. How did it sound? In honesty, I have no idea where it comes from. I never heard the song before. Have you? You will have if I sing it to you again. Play it back in your head and save me some time. I’ll tell you about the Beast Father.

I’m not talking about the wild fiction we tell each other as children. The Beast Father is nothing of whatever you have read of him in newspapers. I met him there, on that day. He is an element of nature. We all are, I suppose we all expect, but the Beast Father is integral. Where we mortal beings survive a matter of cycles, he stands outside the wheel and, at once, within.

Here is when I am telling someone all about the Beast Father, and they will buy me a beer – but not to listen to the whole story. No, I’d get my beer and they would tell me to go and sit down, stop talking. The same thing happened to him, whether you believe it. More than one brave stranger sought to explore the forest and get the Beast Father drunk.

I brought no beer with me that day; I don’t know anyone who could make it up that wash with that sort of load. Honest again, I never expected to find him. I did not expect to encounter a Brown bear, either.

Before the animal spotted me, it just laid down and curled in the long grass. I know the song rocked the bear to slumber; I myself felt a heavy serenity in my heart – like a load you are only content to carry for a king.

The presence of the Beast Father is exhausting. I do not believe there was any majestic magic connected to the whole deal. I graduated High School and all my electives were Science classes, and so, I was skeptical. It was hard to breathe, out there in the trees, and I think the Beast Father sucked oxygen out of the air, or maybe had his song. The bear fell asleep because of a de-oxygenated brain. My own head hurt after the affair.

I told you what happened, I talked to the man. The Beast Father came from my left in the shape of an average human being. He wore contemporary outdoor clothes. Most notable were the thistles and thorny briar stuck in his brunette hair, his beard, and the layers of cuffed socks. The needling weeds were as fruit plucked in passing. I had picked up a few on my pants.

The Beast Father wore oversize boots and multiple pairs of socks to fill that empty space. Each sock had been rolled over the top of the one below. All the them came folded at the shin over the top of worn combat boots. The thistle and briar were so thick here, they formed spiked wreaths around his denim clad calves.

The song had stopped and so had his approach. The bear yet slept yards away and I noticed the leaves on their branches stopped waving. I myself had not then noticed there was never a breeze. That is one of those after-facts – when you look at the evidence of that day, like the weather in the newspaper. You then realize something impossible happened.

Already overcome with awe, I asked the ordinary shambling figure in my peripheral vision, this man I knew at the core of my being was the Beast Father, I asked him, “What was that song? Were you singing?”

Aye, I don’t remember the song,” he told me. “I only remember the words and I guess that’s how it goes.”

It sounded like an anthem,” I commented.

He told me, “Aye, it is old.”

Fixated visually upon the sleeping bear, I was cautious when I asked, “Who are you?”

Mit B. Reign,” he told me. “The B is for Boris, and that Reign is not like rain falling from the sky. It’s what a king is suppose to do.”

A king,” I repeated yet somewhat absent. “People call you the Beast Father.”

I am,” he answered my accusation with no hesitation.

Stupid in youth, I informed him, “People say you killed a girl in Westerly Farrell Park.”

The legendary Beast Father laughed with the same extinguishing inhalation consumed by his song. A Mit B. Reign then said, “Seventy years ago! A girl did die, but it wasn’t this park and I was here.”

I heard about it then because I was asked so long ago.”

Are you old?” was the foolish thing I did wonder aloud.

Aye,” the Beast Father said. “One as me stands besides Time and we intervene upon our wish or need. I, myself, step inside Time only to be next to Nature. This, an example of our own selfish needs.”

Selfish needs?” I said to myself. Back then, I did not have the purist mind. My thoughts were libel to drift with the current in a water bed. I was somewhat then certain I knew how the Beast Father, Mit B. Reign, got his nickname. I did not need to ask, but the legend explained himself.

I feed birds and squirrels dried legumes, flower seeds, and those birds get suet throughout the year.”

Shaken from my own distraction and eager to disclaim my depraved imagination, I was clumsy and I asked the Beast Father non sequitur questions.

Where do you come from? Here, the park?”

Whether the Beast Father was an accustomed witness to stupid reverence or he overlooked my fumbling interview skills, the man answered. He told me, “No.”

I mean,” I said, “Were you born outside time? Is that where you come from?”

When were you born?” I recall I asked and I felt pretty coy about that.

The Beast Father told me, “I remember Prussia and the Empire in Austria – if that is what their nations are now called. Neither place is from whence I had come.”

Eager to actually be helpful, I asked, “Was that song you were singing your national anthem?”

Aye,” he said. “I don’t know, but your idea sounds truthful; and not only because you said as much.”

Well,” I proposed, “Your anthem is about a king, and Prussia and the Austrian Empire were there until, like, 1920 – if there was a king in the 1920s, that must have been an eastern European country…”

The Beast Father sought to correct me. “Great Britain has a king,” he said. I now realize what he was saying. Too late, I told him, “But your song was about sailing and conquering foreign lands.”

Aye, I suppose,” he mentioned.

I ventured to say, “You look Slavic, a little, maybe some Celtic blood in you.”

You probably came to America in the 1920s,” I suggested to the Beast Father. The man nodded his unkempt head. “What did you do then? How did you come to Westerly Farrell National Park?”

The bear still slept, and myself yet drowsy because of the song, I leaned against a stump. The Beast Father remained standing. He had stayed in place since we started our conversation.

The Beast Father revealed to me, “I worked as a hired hand…”

So, you are a mortal man,” I shouted, “Or were.”

Undistracted by my internal musings, the Beast Father continued to say, “I bought a small farm but lost everything in a fire. I never gained much and I always sought less.”

I came to the wilderness but lost everything, too, in the first year.”

I managed to blurt, “Man, horrible break.”

Without acknowledging my empathy, the Beast Father said about himself, “I was lucky to survive winter – the animals helped me.”

Now I help them survive the winters.”

What about the Law of Nature?” the early conservative inside me interrupted to protest. “What about the Cycle of Life?”

Nature is big and tough,” the Beast Father assured me. “Survival is a rigged game.”

But Nature doesn’t mind if somebody has to cheat to get by. She always finds ways to drop all of us to the ground.”

Uncomfortable with the direction the Beast Father sounded like he was taking our topic, I demanded, “So, you feed the animals. What else do you do? Do you have any powers? Do you do anything else?”

Do you control the animals?”

He said, “They don’t do what I tell them to do. You can’t make a feral animal follow your will. They must want to help.”

Oh,” I said unimpressed. “You have good English,” I told the Beast Father, “And nice clothes.”

Mit said, “I talk to everybody.”

Do many people come up here?” I wondered and asked.

The Beast Father informed me, “I get a lot of practice all the time talking with human being. I am given gifts.”

But people think you’re crazy,” I abruptly informed the man. “Well, those who don’t know you are really here.”

Mit replied, “I hope not for those I’ve talked with. Who says this. your friends? Have your friends talked to me?”

As I’ve told you,” I warned my new friend, “Nobody is even sure you’re here. Not just my friends think you’re a myth, but the whole world does… except, I guess, for a select few.”

The Beast Father then blessed me and said, “I think that now includes you.”

I’m not hiding,” he said. “People often find me when their not looking. No effort besides a climb is all; you found me and you only overheard I was here.”

His misconception had to be corrected. I confessed to the Beast Father. “What if I said I went looking for you before?”

Mit Reign said to me, “I would tell you, you didn’t really try at all.”

Then is when that bear I was telling you about, it woke up. The Beast Father did not have to tell me it was time to leave, because I remembered he reminded me there is no telling a wild omnivore what to do. There were no more words exchanged, just a hush from one of us – you can ask the Beast Father if you ever see him – I don’t remember which of us made a sound. We both waved farewell.

Go have your own experience with the immortal hairy man in the woods; he is there. If you don’t have a pass, go on Veteran’s Day when the park is open for free. I cannot be certain my own meant anything, but after these years, I have thought about that encounter.

There’s nothing very special about the Beast Father, except, maybe he has some authority because of who he is – living forever, and all. With authority, you don’t have to play by rules. But to gain that authority, an ordinary man must be selfless. You have to be kind and feed the little animals.

_END_

Matthew Sawyer

Read other stories not quite like this one at the author’s publisher page on Smashwords.com

 

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An Answer: Pagan Mythology in the Shur

January 25, 2018

ithadows

An Answer: Pagan Mythology in the Shur
Matthew Sawyer AKA Mr. Binger

“The power to manifest your will is what makes you a god,” Mr. Binger, a community lecturer and alleged pagan-sympathizer, announced to the sparse persons in his audience at the University of Superior in Wisconsin. The stiff wooden seats in the auditorium discouraged attendants from sitting, so many stood bunched near the dark exits at the back of Webb hall in the Holden Fine Arts Center.

“I said it.”

They were listening, but the fact was only evident in that none would leave. The fifteen Fahrenheit degrees below freezing, outside this late January afternoon, could never dissuade a single of these burly Midwesterners – all were plump in their gender-agnostic winter clothes and accustomed to the stark weather. Mr. Binger imagined they murmured so that he felt motivated to tell everyone again about a dead religion.

“The Chosen are gone,” he told everyone lingering. “The heathen will never leave their desert. There are no terrorists here, not in northern Wisconsin, so no will be coming to hang me upside down and unzip my guts.”

Someone then grumbles. Mr. Binger thinks the coarse complaint had come from a girl, ahem, a youthful eighteen or nineteen year old woman, but the sound was difficult to distinguish. This year, just as every year, everyone suffers colds, fevers and coughs throughout the winter. Awoken from hibernation, the contagious bug inflames faces and makes cheeks red. The blush was never because the cold weather outdoors. The people of Wisconsin knew so much to always bundle themselves up to their eyeballs.

“You kids have started smoking again,” Mr. Binger said to himself. “That doesn’t help.”

“Okay,” he admits to his audience, “The content is graphic, blasphemous to the Abrahamic religions, Hinduism, the Canadian Eskimos, but as I understand, you are all adults. Also, this lecture qualifies as point-two-five of a credit for sociology, anthropology, creative writing students? Studies like those, here in this school?”

Without a response, Mr. Binger adds, “That wasn’t rhetorical, that’s really twenty-five percent of one whole credit. So, all you young people are privileged to choose, what, four lectures of this sort for a full credit. I suppose that’s better than spending your time on social networks. But, I suppose nowadays you can do that at the same time, too.”

“Yeah,” answered a muffled voice. This one had sounded suspiciously feminine.

Mr. Binger requests in general, “Well, turn off your phones and keep the volume low. I have to say that every time. And no taking videos, please. I hate seeing myself online. No pictures of me; it’s enough that I keep coming up on stage.”

“The other thing you should know,” Mr. Binger warns his audience, “This is a lecture; this is not a story. You might think this is fiction because it all sounds pretend, but this is true anthropological history. Living people in the past believed this mythology. Just like the Roman Empire and its Catholic Church, these pagan beliefs and practices still impact us individuals and our nation in the modern age. Our world began in this past.”

“What I have to present to you is information, facts. Whatever I say does not go beyond what I tell you. This is not going anywhere. There are no pagans, there are no more Chosen. I am not advocating any religion. Besides, heathens consider us all Unchosen – people who are told what to believe. I’m telling you about the things pagans believed before any of us were told.”

A stomach growls the same moment Mr. Binger stops abrupt. An echo of digestion joins the reverberation of the speaker’s voice in the tall lecture hall. Mr. Binger then ignores a subsequent noisome body function, notably not his own. The distance between him and his disperse audience allows him immunity against anything but the sound. Spread so far apart from each other, nobody acts assaulted by wafted winds.

Immediately past the ill-timed eruption, Mr. Binger says, “Okay, the universe has always been.”

“It’s hidden dimensions are only now unconcealed,” he clarified. “Forget a flat earth, the Big Bang, an expanding universe and that ridiculous contracting universe theory. Heat death? Pff. This is what pagans in the Shur believed.”

“The universe has always existed, it will always be, and there is only one universe, concealed by veils of darkness. There is space, right, but it is genuinely infinite. Space has always been there, stretched beyond the reaches of light.”

Mr. Binger pauses again. This time, he sees more uncomfortable seats have been taken. So few people stand near the exits that light from the vestibule outside is seen streamed through glass windows set in the doors. More attentive faces stare up at the elevated man, but their communal affect is of boredom. Mr. Binger has endured the reaction before; it has been each time when a reader stops reading.

“I know I’m not speaking your language, folks,” he told everyone. “You’ll get what I’m saying, I’m from here, Wisconsin, south of Madison.”

“Cheese-eaters,” a young man whooped from shadows next the exit.

The audience replies with Mr. Binger and moan a correction in unison. “Cheesemakers.”

Chuckles are quick to die. In the brief meantime, Mr. Binger says with a smile, “Think of it like this – beyond the light in the room, there is an invisible veil. Beyond that veil is darkness and another veil. There is then more darkness and another veil.”

“You get the idea,” Mr. Binger explained for everyone. “The veils are as infinite as space and the darkness themselves.”

“Pagans had a name for that darkness, for the darkness was alive. The darkness was life itself – enough life for all the dead matter in the universe.”

“That living darkness between the veils of space was called Mitencohli,” Mr. Binger deigned for his audience. “Mitencohli was consumed by Rudra, but not the mightiest-of-mighty Hindu god we know on our world. This alien Rudra was a sentient element from beyond a deeper veil. Rudra was the god who tasted life at the dawn of creation.”

“Before that breakfast, there was matter in our visible universe and beyond the veils of space, but nothing was alive. Well, Mitencohli; the living darkness was alive. We now know about the alien Rudra, and his mother and father, the flesh-less Wenwi and his obese wife, Tecolent, but they were not technically alive – not in the narrative sense.”

“These three were sentient elements before they became gods; Rudra was to Wenwi and Tecolent as Helium is to Hydrogen. He was always inevitable, as was his brother Awaran – as the pagans believed. All three consumed the living darkness trapped in the skeletal chest of Rudra, for Rudra barely contained Mitencohli, but he holds on. That is why we have light.”

Mr. Binger clears his throat and he helps to redirect the droning thoughts of his audience. He waits while one old-fashioned university student finishes scratching graphite against desiccated hemp pulp. Mr. Binger then asks, “Where did Mitencohli and the sentient elements come from?”

“Like I said, they have always been there. Without the life of darkness, the sentient elements remained inert.”

“How do we know this?” he further asked.

At the same time, Mr. Binger declares, “Tablets.”

A single cough then a throat clearing from squeaky seats prompts the speaker to explain, “Sandstone tablets were smuggled out of the Shur years ago – after the fall of Khetam and the Chosen were decimated.”

“They were old – the stone tablets were – ancient. Pagan.”

Yet excited by the illicit discovery and the mythology that was unveiled, Mr. Binger interjects, “We learned, Rudra tasted the living darkness when Mitencohli went hunting for food. The darkness first touched the sentient element – that’s an important point, a universal truth. Life was hungry, then itself was eaten.”

“Ahem,” he said upon realizing the topic of his speech had gone disjointed. “Or, rather, amen.”

For the sake of clarifying himself, Mr. Binger specifies, “The stone tablets were fragile and they were already crumbling – some were broken and we recovered only pieces.”

“We don’t know who the author was. Or, maybe, the artist: because the mythology had been recorded in hieroglyphs.”

“Those hieroglyphs were pagan, almost Sanskrit. Some scholars might legitimately say the etchings resembled a poor rendition of the Japanese alphabet. I am, of course, referring to my critic, social justice activist, Dr. Eric Dwyer.”

Mr. Binger ignores the diversion inflicted by the memory of his critics. He tells everyone, “That’s not important. I had nothing to do with the translation. I haven’t even seen the remains of the tablets, ever. They are not anywhere on display.”

“All the same, I am talking about the pagan mythology. It doesn’t matter what anyone else has to say. We don’t need the original stone tablets, not any more; we have digital copies. It is what it is – mythology.”

Eager to return to his speech, Mr. Binger first makes a personal observation. “I can tell you one thing, the pagan hieroglyph of a cat looks like a cat.”

“So, you know,” he reinforced for his audience.

“The mythology of the pagans,” Mr. Binger repeated. “An artist, who had been paid to reproduce the hieroglyphs, he called the mythology, ‘Mortui’ philosophies – ideas on death, I suppose.”

“M. Sawyer,” Mr. Binger identified for everyone. “Mortui is what he had written in his sketchbooks. No one in academics calls the mythology that. It’s just pagan; that is what the Chosen and heathen called them.”

“That artist, by the way, tried to capitalize on his copied drawings, too,” Mr. Binger said in segue. “Nothing wrong in that.”

“He sold designs of monsters made directly from the hieroglyphs. Being hieroglyphs, you know, his monsters looked just like the graven images. No copyright infringement there. You might even find a t-shirt online with one of his designs. All I know, no one is buying that, either. I certainly don’t get a commission.”

Only a constantly accelerating sound of steam in boiler pipes accompanies an abrupt return to the topic Mr. Binger first introduced. “The pagan mythology,” he said.

“There was Rudra and Wenwi and Tecolent, I told you about them. They were sentient elements; the last born from the first,” Mr. Binger summarized. “Wenwi and Tecolent were first, you understand. It was a dual role.”

“There was Mitencohli, too, but the living darkness was not a sentient element. Some early scholars identified the alien god with space and the veils, or the darkness between the veils.”

The speaker grumbles in his throat then clearly states, “No, the living darkness is alive. The darkness is life. Mitencohli had been consumed by Rudra and that led to creation, as in life across all the veils of space. Animals, plants, plankton, people – three sentient elements from beyond a deeper veil imparted life to all of us, all the worlds throughout all of space.”

“But, the living darkness forever consumes Rudra from within. You see in this metaphor, life itself is ravenous in any shade. Yet, because of the life inside him, Rudra was made a god. He’s hungry, always skeletal, but never dying. Rudra always, desperately, gropes for the life that escapes him. The living darkness that comes leaked from his bones feeds both his parents, too, Wenwi and Tecolent.”

As if unconscious, Mr. Binger motions to shuffle non-existent notes upon an invisible lectern stood invariably out of reach. The speaker never requires reminders when he speaks about M. Sawyer’s Mortui philosophies, although cards would have helped straightened the track ahead of him. ‘The line lain after,’ Mr. Binger thinks in quick retrospect, ‘That may have also been straighter.’

Nevertheless, the speaker progresses to his favorite part of the mythology. “After feasting upon the living darkness excreted from their nuclear son, Wenwi and Tecolent, now hungry and alive, consume each others waste. Still, life was never enough. Tecolent, the tablets tells us, she feels so badly starved that the goddess perpetually consumes herself.”

“The origin of good lays here, at this part in this mythology,” Mr. Binger specified for his note-takers. “Selflessness. All else is just trying to eat you, because the fateful alternative is greed.”

“Unable to bear life without his wife, Wenwi feeds himself to Tecolent. He does so throughout eternity and she grows obese. Wenwi appears only better preserved than his son, Rudra, but he, too is consumed by the living darkness inside him. And all his flesh is gone – Tecolent eats him raw. She eats what Wenwi gives her and, too frequently, she grasps for more – just like her son. She then became the Mother of Grossity.”

“Upon the cannibalism, Wenwi and Tecolent no longer bear living children – the darkness they expel was made impure and only monsters now come to bear. These creatures are born starved for life.”

“The first abomination was Awaran,” Mr. Binger bulletined. “This shapeless hunger, one given a name, attacks Rudra. Upon his half-birth from the waste of his parents, Awaran kills his suffering brother. Rudra was easily overpowered, you understand, for the living shadow always eats the god from within. I say so in the present tense, because them being gods, you know. Their stories never end there.”

“They ate their children,” Mr. Binger stated in his raised voice. “Newborn monsters are usually eaten at birth because Wenwi and Tecolent had also tasted the living darkness. And, so, they were the hungry gods of creation. I would claim we are the lucky children who got away, before our parents began consuming themselves. We didn’t get out of the house, but we are hidden behind the curtains – of space.”

“I’m talking about the veils beyond the reaches of light,” Mr. Binger immediately explained for his audience. He admits aloud, “I’m afraid I’m losing your attention. Hold on.”

He promises the occupants of Webb hall, “I’m almost done. I only have to tell you about one more alien god. There are others, but they a lesser gods, powerless sentient things of the universe. Their names are accordingly unknown.”

“This last one, Awaran, too, consumed the infinity of living darkness inside Rudra, and he also became a god. Awaran was a monstrosity, but the corrupted flesh of his family did not define his shape within the veils us mortals can see with our own eyes. The tablets tell us so much.”

“We, the first children of Wenwi and Tecolent, before the corruption, we perceive Awaran in the form that had helped him part the veils of space and discover our world. The tablets describe him for us. They tell us what happened and why this alien god is a milestone.”

Mr. Binger corrects a personally important misconception. “This is where scholars begin calling these entities from the pagan mythology Elohim, like, from the Bible, the Christian Bible. That’s in Exodus, if you want to look it up, the pluralistic gods. They’re probably not the same thing, but you never know.”

“Chosen called them Elohim,” Mr. Binger remarked. “So do heathens, to this day, if you can find any to tell you so and they don’t eat you first.”

“There are those stories today about the monstrous children of Elohim manifesting inside Khetam, about the time heathens breached the Chosen’s Wall. Nothing is substantiated. War time horror stories, Dr. Dwyer concluded.”

After stopping himself, the speaker inhales then says, “The tablets tell us nothing about these Elohim visiting our world. Although, they do teach us how Awaran parted the veil into our space. Understand, the pagan were warning us the Elohim were coming. Rumors about what had been witnessed in the ransacked Promised Land were meant to be confirmation their monsters are here on our world. I guess, we’ll see.”

“From behind the deepest veil of space,” Mr. Binger said with a lowered voice, “Arose another entity like Mitencohli, the living darkness. Awaran discovers the one called Ithadow – for this was the name all sentient elements sing throughout time. This is the name heard throughout the cosmos – the noise in space, like a vibration. The sound led Awaran to this new source of living darkness.”

“You see, the tablets say, Ithadow – actually, the name cannot be pronounced and Ithadow is just convenient to say –  this entity had come hunting for the living darkness Rudra consumed. Ithadow survived upon the living darkness. Without this food, it consumes both the first and the escaped monstrous children of Wenwi and Tecolent. Awaran had discovered Ithadow draining life from these worlds between the veils of space.”

An anxious shuffling of feet and the one or two persons heading toward the back doors reminds Mr. Binger he had again broken his promise. “I know I told you Awaran was the last Elohim I was going to talk about, but Ithadow, like Mitencohli, is not an Elohim. That’s just what scholars and lay-people say because it’s also convenient, but it’s lazy. Neither Ithadow nor Mitencohli have ever reproduced. They don’t fit all the categories that would make them into gods we would accept. Neither have minds as we know a mind, nothing there in all we have been told.”

“I’ll tell you what pagans believed Ithadow looks like, because this entity was not like the living darkness. Ithadow has a shape.” The speaker had spun a finger over his head that same moment he spoke. Mr. Binger then says without motion, “A manifestation that cannot be perceived by the mortal mind. The image of Ithadow in the eye of a living being brings madness.”

“Nevertheless, pagans created a hieroglyph for Ithadow. The entity is portrayed as a jellyfish with long arms and claws. The whole thing is inside a crenelated shell that sits at the center of a web. I’m not going to draw it for you. Besides, I’m not an artist. All I could do is scribble something you would see if you did lose your mind. And there isn’t even a chalkboard here on stage with me, so you won’t get that.”

“About that web,” Mr. Binger rejoined himself, “It’s a part of him, like an external digestive tract. Ithadow spins the web, casting his guts beyond the veils of space. The web is how Ithadow hunts for food. Strands of the web of Ithadow throughout the universe taste the living darkness in all things that are alive. Following these strands is how Awaran passed through our own veil.”

“The story on the tablets say there came an eternity when there was no more food for the Elohim. The strongest of them, Awaran, traveled to the cusp of space searching for even his own offspring he might consume. There, he glimpsed the web of Ithadow shining as a star where there were no stars to be seen. Following this light, and a vibrating chant, Awaran breached our veil where Ithadow had already come through into our space.”

Mr. Binger stalls then says through a firm face, “Pagans warned us the web of Ithadow had already touched our world. They feared what else was coming.”

“Like the ancient Sumerians, pagans in the Shur believed evil more than often prevailed over good; not in any sense of morality nor justice but of sheer strength. The only recourse against any ill was to appease a stronger evil. Awaran was said to be that candidate, so I guess pagans had some hope. And, yet, it was only by the example set by Wenwi that they persisted so long as a people. Heathens, as you know buried all of them alive in the sands of the Shur – archaeological excavations had verified that as fact generations ago. The way was made clear for their Living God, as heathens would say.”

“Yes,” Mr. Binger affirmed in the course of a sigh. “Pagans worshiped there own desert demons – Uzapu, Lord of the Waste, Beomouth, Thilimoth – and mythical beasts, like the lekko and lanters…”

“Paws and claws and the other, like a lion with a skull like a moose.”

“Oh, there is scientific evidence a few of their bizarre cryptoid actually existed, for instance; the damned mehtad, the slovenly mwele and the sly strumatru. They may be real and alive today, out there, hiding. That’s all I’ll say about that.”

Mr. Binger pauses only to refill his lungs. Full again of stale winter auditorium air, the speaker recommences.

“Ahem.”

“When the web of Ithadow touched our world, and it woke these sentient elements, the web also evolved the minds of sensitive human beings. Heretical prophets foresaw the coming of Awaran; they predicted the emergence of the greatest evil. These visions were passed onto their children.”

Mr. Binger stipulates, “I’m not here tonight to talk about our own earthbound pantheons, that’s a speech I can give later. All of you are probably on the edge of your seats waiting for me to tell you what Awaran looks like.”

“He looked like his parents,” summarized the grinning speaker. “Until he tasted Ithadow. Awaran drained an endless flow of life from the web of Ithadow, but it was not enough. The Elohim follows the intangible intestinal tract upstream, if you will, and he discovers Ithadow.”

“Did I mention Ithadow was as large as our own Milky Way galaxy? A single strand of its web would easily swallow our planet. Truly, pagans had told us we are indeed inside the exuded gullet of Ithadow, his web, with all the ghosts of living darkness around us, waiting to be digested.”

“That’s us,” Mr. Binger said as he points his finger at himself and everyone in the audience. The few remaining listeners might be counted in a single breath. He tells each of them, “So you know, those ghosts in the web; we’re them. A little piece of living darkness constitutes each of our souls. We are Mitencohli, at least, that was what pagans believed. And that is why Ithadow has come to consume us after we die – once that darkness escapes our fractured shells.”

“Anyway, Awaran could not possibly consume the mindless Ithadow. Ithadow is immense and powerful. If anything, Awaran was in danger that he, himself, was eaten.”

“His brother, Rudra, contains all of Mitencohli, sure, but the living darkness is different. I told you that, yeah? Mitencohli was vast, yet, the living darkness is without dimension. Ithadow, on the other hand, is real; made of matter and not energy, nor something astral or ethereal. Nevertheless, Awaran makes Ithadow bleed and the Elohim escapes our space with blood on his hands. We’re not told how.”

“Before Awaran passes our veil back into his own space, the alien god is so famished that he licks the blood of Ithadow from his fingers.”

The speaker stops talking and he stands still an exact three seconds before saying, “Then Awaran changes.”

“Awaran begins to become Ithadow.”

Mr. Binger admits, “Now, there was not enough blood – Awaran did not consume all the blood off his hands.”

“No matter,” he judged. “The Elohim grows myriad skeletal arms, Awaran becomes vast and he realizes, simultaneously, the mistake he had made.”

“Before tasting Ithadow, Awaran had consumed the living darkness leeched from the bones of his brother, Rudra – as did his parents, Wenwi and Tecolent. The living darkness also consumed Awaran from the inside, so they were once not so different. Both Rudra and Awaran were skeletal and starved. The blood of Ithadow helps Awaran retain his portion of living darkness, but the cost is terrible.”

“All that remains of Awaran are his countless bony arms and his skull. Ithadow allowed the hungry Elohim to keep his head. If there was any thought given toward the mercy, I suppose, Ithadow probably imagined he and Awaran were the same – two suffering space gods.”

“I can tell you, pagans tell us Awaran covers his shame with blood. The Elohim is draped in blood as if the gore was clothe; the robe of Awaran. There’s a pagan hieroglyph that depicts that robe as a rain of blood.”

Hoping to illustrate the image for his audience, Mr. Binger pokes a single finger into the air as if he taps at raindrops. “You know Awaran is near when blood rains from a clear sky.”

“There you go,” he punctuated. “The creation of our world, where we come from and where we go after we die – according to the extinct pagans of the Shur desert. The living darkness inside each of us will be consumed by an armored jellyfish – with pincers.”

“If the Elohim don’t eat us first.”

“Ithadow will get them in the end, then what will happen?”

“Will Mitencohli reemerge and again cover all the veils of space with darkness? I don’t know.”

“Where is our God in all this?” Mr. Binger spontaneously conjectured. “The god of Abraham, El, or the Christian Yahweh? One in the same, I suppose. Our living god? The tablets briefly mention the arrival the true god – a prime creator.”

“The Chosen tribes sacrificed him in testament to their power,” the speaker answered himself. “They claimed this god was mortal. Killing him was proof that mankind itself was divine. Chosen doctrine reduced the heathen Living God to being merely an awakened sentient element, like Uzapu.”

“Yet, Christians, like heathens hiding in the Shur, expect he will return.”

“The big difference how these two religions worship God is where Christians believe Jesus is coming back, heathens fear the living god will never return. They beg his memory with prayer and bloody sacrifices to bring him home again and build his kingdom in the Shur.”

“If you ask me,” Mr. Binger said mocking his own invitation, “And I realize I have not been asked, but I’ll just say, there is no God. Of all the disappointing revelations in my life, that has been my the most grand.”

“Heathens would accuse me of arrogance, just like the Chosen. At the same time, my brown hair and green eyes are proof enough for them that I descend from a Chosen tribe.”

“I don’t care,” a brave Mr. Binger postulated. “I’m not worried, and neither should northern Wisconsin. We’ll never see a heathen here nor anywhere in the United States. They can hide in the desert, and die there waiting for the god who will never return.”

“Thank you,” Mr. Binger then expressed to the single other shape remaining in Webb hall. He or she was standing in shadow near a door.

Moving off stage, the man ruminated aloud, so loud he is heard all the way in the back. “It’s getting cold out there, I’m worried about my car battery. You know, when it’s cold, it sucks the life out of everything. What would pagans know about that, huh?”

“Or heathens, or even Chosen – they live in a desert.”

Descending stairs stage left and into empty chairs, Mr. Binger finishes speaking upon saying, “Although, with weather like this, it is tempting not to just go into the Shur.”

-_END-_

Are you curious about the Chosen, heathens and these faiths in the Shur? The final incarnation of Matthew Sawyer’s Pazuzu Trilogy is available from Amazon

The Waste Book One
The Waste Book Two
Gaunt Rainbow

 

Other stories from Matthew Sawyer (AKA Mr. Binger) available from Smashwords

Hardcover and soft cover books available from Hulu

 

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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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