Posts Tagged ‘curse’

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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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About R’lyeh: Those Things I Will Tell Your Child

December 31, 2014

about cove-smlr

About R’lyeh: Those Things I Will Tell Your Child

Matthew Sawyer

I was telling my second-generation niece, Rilynn there in pink pajamas, that her name sounds like R’lyeh. She is only five. “No,” she tells me back. The child lives with her parents in the country not very far from where I was born.

Rilynn explains to me, “They don’t rhyme.”

I tell her something incomprehensible; something even a smart little girl her age would not yet understand. I say, “The consonants don’t have to rhyme. The words just have to sound the same.”

“Nuh-ahh,” she replies and in that moment, I conclude she must know what I am talking about, or she has a solid idea.

“I’ll tell you a rhyme about the sunken city of R’lyeh.”

“What?” Rilynn peeps and jumps up from the Living Room floor. The little blond thing pops onto her bare feet like she does forty times forty times a day, She joins me opposite a laminated coffee table small enough that the girl might rest her elbows on stacked magazines atop the surface. She does not relax and instead regularly shifts her inconsequential weight between her feet.

Late on my cue, I recite, “That is not dead which can eternal lie, and with strange aeons even death may die.”

Rilynn’s mother yells at me. “Matt!”

And Rilynn admits, “That rhymes.”

“It’s a poem,” I beg the mother. The woman’s name is Brenda – for the purpose of my narrative. I admit I have de-purposed the names of other relatives for the sake of that same said narrative. So, there is my first confession.

I cite for Brenda, “HP Lovecraft wrote that in his short story Call of Cthulhu.”

“One of those old stories?” she wonders knowingly.

“A great old one,” I say. “It’s like a hundred years old.”

Rilynn interrupts us when she demands from both the only adults in the room, “I want to hear the story.”

Her father is at work, delivering packages, and the girl is an Only-child. Her mother, Brenda again, hovers on the threshold between this room and another. The grown woman frowns at me. She issues a warning. “I have heard about you.”

“Probably from my sister-in-law,” is my answer. “She is a religious nut.”

Brenda admits, “Holly does now wear the Shield of David and a Cross around her neck.”

While I nod she explains, “But she lives there in Wister Town with your brothers and sisters… and your mother… and you can go back to your home in California. Don’t cause trouble.”

“I am an old man.”

Brenda denies my factual report.  “You look twenty-five.”

My automatic response lists, “Exercise, eat right…”

“You look younger than me.”

“It’s what you read,” I then support.

Rilynn stomps her naked soles and whines. “I want to hear a story!”

“Okay,” her mother condones. “Your Uncle Matt can tell you one.”

“About R’lyeh?” I inquire from Brenda while simultaneously her daughter claps.

Brenda states, “Nothing about death or monsters or anything gross.”

I stammer, “Well…”

The woman stops me. “There was an earthquake the last time you were there in Wister Town – an earthquake in south-central Wisconsin. And you said a house walked away – monsters came out of the hole it made.”

“It was a story…”

“It makes no difference, bad things happen when you tell bad stories.”

“Bad?” I do wonder aloud. Despite what critics will say, I withhold judgment on myself for that judgment would end me and my very life. And hypocritical with my skepticism, I tell Brenda, “There is no difference between religion and being superstitious.”

“The earthquake started fires that burned down half of Wister Town!”

“I never talked about that,” I counter.

“Small blessing,” Brenda supposes above her breath.

“I’ll tell you what,” I proposition, “I’ll clean it up. And I’ll try not to be creepy or scary.”

“All right.”

Grinning at Rilynn I paraphrase, “Sunk somewhere in the South Pacific ocean, a corpse-city called R’lyeh…”

“Matt,” screeches her mother.

“It’s in the story, I didn’t write it,” I present for my defense.

“It’s the same difference.” Brenda states once more, “No dead things or death.”

“Okay, that was only an adjective. It was about a city but no more. That’s the last one and I can tell Rilynn about R’lyeh.”

“Yes,” the small girl screams and she claps her hands together again and harder.

I grumble loud enough for Brenda to overhear. “It won’t be exciting.”

“Just make it fun,” she answers me. “Keep her attention for an hour or so.”

Observing Rilynn squirm while she stands on her feet, I tell the girl’s mother, “I’ll last for a couple minutes.”

Brenda nods and vanishes beyond the doorway. Rilynn leans completely over the table, lifting her legs off the floor, and she whispers nearer my ear. “Are you gonna talk about dead things?”

“No,” I chuckle. “I’m going to tell you who lives in R’lyeh – the city beneath the ocean. Cthulhu cannot die.”

“Catsup!” Rilynn announces and leaves me disorientated. I swim with my thoughts atop the ruins of an undersea R’lyeh. Yet the city itself is not ruined and appears as it had newly built eons ago. Erected in my imagination, the immense construction merely threatens to topple.

Finally able to comprehend my niece, I try correcting the young child. “Cthulhu. Ka-thoo-loo.”

“Ka-choo,” answers Rilynn. “Ka-choo-choo.”

“Ka,” I started to say again then decided my effort was futile. I play with the girl. “Ka-choo,” I repeat with an exaggerated exhalation. I wipe an imaginary expulsion from beneath my nose.

Rilynn laughs and she repeats the word until I believe she makes herself truly sneeze. She refuses to acknowledge the genuine rivulet that has run down and clung on her upper lip. “Does he come out?” my niece asks me. “Is R’lyeh like his house?”

The strange question makes me wonder if the girls has already heard the story. “Is R’lyeh like his house? As a matter of fact, it is. Ka-choo-choo is big, he’s huge.”

“Say it right,” Rilynn requests. “I can’t say it, but you can say his name right.”

“Cthulhu.”

“Yeah!”

“He can only come out when the stars are right,” I educate the impressionable mind. “The thing is, the stars will never be right.”

“Why,” Rilynn pouts. She looks sad for real.

“Well,” I say making preparations, “There is a difference between where the stars were when he came to our planet and where they are now.”

“Why?”

“Because space is expanding.”

“Why?”

The distress on Rilynn’s face reflects the frustration I experience as I try to explain impossible concepts to a five-year old brain. “Cthulhu was originally an extra-dimensional being. He was an Outer God until he was trapped on Earth and he became a Great Old One. They don’t really understand how our three dimensions work.”

“Why?”

“Because, where they come from, they can be anywhere at once, be everywhere. Their space doesn’t move.”

“Matt,” Brenda declares. “You’re confusing her. I’m confused.”

“I’m confused trying to explain it.”

“Make it simple,” the mother begs me. “Or else I will get questions I can’t answer.”

“Okay,” I consent. “Cthulhu can’t come out. Besides there are Elder signs everywhere.”

“Older signs?” Rilynn questions.

“Close: Elder signs, like the elderly. They grow in nature, you can see them in the tree branches, the veins in leaves and even the veins under your skin. HP Lovecraft drew a picture of it.”

“Can I see it?”

I hesitate. “It might be hard to find. Let me draw a picture for you. Do you have paper and something to draw with?”

Rilynn runs away laughing. The girl returns in an instance with a single clean sheet of typing paper and a handful of red and blue crayons. A green wax stick had fallen from her grasp whilst she had come but Rilynn never paused and retrieve it. She presents to me my requested tools.

“Draw Ka-too-loo,” she insists.

“Cthulhu?”

“Yeah.”

The request frightens me without explanation, so I stall. “I thought you wanted to see the Elder Sign.”

“Yeah.”

“Okay.”

“Yeah, but draw Him first.”

“Oh,” I stutter. “You should never summon Cthulhu without an Elder Sign. What happens if he demands a sacrifice?”

“Matt?” Brenda inquires of me.

The woman startles me as if I have been caught speaking the unspeakable. I scuttle my argument against a juvenile and I decide what comes next. “Let me show you the Elder Sign. Then I will draw Cthulhu.”

Before Rilynn objects, I sketch together six broad hashes, making the red image of a branch. Three twigs project from its top, two from below. Rightward on the picture, two opposite twigs reflect each other as would a mirror. The second bottom twig appears sprout from the branch in the space between the two remaining leftward twigs on top.

“Humph,”Brenda says looking over my stooped and sketching upper half. She tells me, “It looks like something you would find in nature.”

“Who put it there?” Rilynn asks.

Dissuaded against trying to explain the Outer Gods again, I reply to the girl and her mother, “We’ll make your one aunt happy and say God put it there. And he looks just like Santa Claus.”

Unafraid now that I have constructed a ward for my protection, I intercept any awkward confusion and I say, “Here is what Cthulhu looks like.”

I have been to Art School and I have always been naturally drawn to doodling, so much I am more talented with a blunt pencil than any other drawing implement. Knowing so, my sketch immediately takes form. The representation of Cthulhu is a simple image of an octopus – one octopus with eight radial tentacles in place of the head of a primate. Although I do not provide any scale, this abomination is larger than King Kong.

I say primate because I have often seen paintings of the Great Old One in which He has a spine and four limbs besides a pair of colossal membranous wings. Those four jointed appendages always terminate with five clawed digits, these usually webbed. Rilynn reacts to my visual interpretation.

“Icky.”

“Matt?” Brenda cautions me. “I don’t want her awake tonight.”

“It’s okay, the Elder sign…”

“Stupid,” Rilynn states in verdict. Her mother shakes her head.

“It’s okay,” I presage again. “There is another Elder Sign. August Derleth made it – he was a cheese-eater, just like us. He was from Wisconsin – Sauk City.” Having revealed an alternative, I start drawing a second archaic symbol on the same one sheet of typing paper.

“You know,  August Derleth was the first guy who published HP Lovecraft. He wrote stories, too. He also wrote about a lot more than horror.”

“There,” I tell Rilynn and her mother. The second Elder Sign comes presented to them as a blue, five-pointed star. A red eye engulfed in red flames flickers at its center. “The star is actually supposed to be green, but Rilynn dropped that color on the floor.”

“Get it later, sweetie,” Brenda absently tells the girl.

I boast in tangent. “Now that would scare Klingons.”

“What are Klingings?” Rilynn asks me.

My outrage is a showy mockery. “Brenda, your daughter is eight years old and still no Star Trek?”

“She’s five.”

“But still…”

The mother ends the silence that follows my lacking an excuse. Brenda asks me a serious question. “How did you learn about this?”

“I don’t know,” I answer honestly at first. “Read?”

“You should write about it when you go home. Did you and why not?”

“It wasn’t in my stars,” I tell her in accordance to the mythos we discuss. Brenda does not understand. She probably won’t until I do write down something. I let the woman know, “There are tons of other authors who could tell you the stories. I’ve got something parallel, but it’s about what happens in Wister Town.”

“I know,” Brenda moans. Before the woman runs out of that same breath, she tells her daughter, “Put on warm clothes, we’re going to that toenail of a town… like Uncle Matt calls it. Let’s visit your great grandma.”

Once Rilynn is busy upstairs getting dressed, and Brenda and I are alone, I make a cordial appeal to the woman. “Brenda, my nephew would never allow it, your husband would forbid that you ever speak to me…”

The woman steps back from me but she does not flee. Snared by curiosity strengthened by her agnosticism – her disbelief in a Creator that she confessed against long before – Brenda listens to my corrupt words.

“You are right, I will be young until I die. I will die young at the age of one hundred and twenty-five. Rilynn can remain young, too, but she must know. The earlier, the better.”

“My daughter is not going to visit you in California,” she tells me. Knowing who I am and being closer to my family than I physically am or ever was, my in-law, Brenda, has heard all my other relatives have rejected my similar notions.

“What is in California?” she nibbles still. I expected she would ask before I had come two thousand miles to visit her family.

“The sun,” I say generically. “That’s where it stays, and its home was made for the Divine.  There is power in California – power for those who know how to tap it. There is more power there than in that hole in Wister Town.”

“The Jews sense it, and the Mormons. That’s why they are there. There are big cults and Moonies and Scientologists and Jehovah Witnesses – you name it. They crawl down from the palm trees. They all feel the secret power so few people can actually ever know.”

The woman I speak with gnaws her bottom lip. When she soon starts shaking her head, I promise, “Rilynn will know more than me. She will see the future. Maybe she will see R’lyeh.”

When my words cease to make impact, I escalate the strength available to the female child. “She will foresee every consequence of every action she takes. And she will know there is only one course through life. The sun is the root of all religion. Praise Hastur.”

Once I am shut out of the house, I warn Brenda, “Hastur has corrupted in the American Midwest – the power of the sun does not manifest in cows. All of that is Egyptian perversion. The providence here is made base and unhealthy! Defiled and there is no protection. There is no God. We still live blind in the Age of Babylon.”

– END –

Impressed by my writing? I hope so. Read more from me, as Matthew Sawyer or Mr. Binger, at Smashwords.

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I Remember One Saturday Night When I Was About The Age For Middle School

July 31, 2014

 

It must have been a Saturday night. According to a Rule of Life as revealed by the Wisconsin PBS on a Three Stooges television episode, my twin brother and I each took separate baths. I was in my bath.

We didn’t share baths, not anymore, because we were growing up and had become conscious of our anatomy. I don’t know who got the tub first and that does not matter. We never used the same water – Wisconsin is far from California. H-two-O comes to the Midwest from underground springs. And this was my bath.

I was soaking alone when my now-deceased dad barged in. The man had to, “Crap.”

I am pretty sure that’s what he explained and he used that word. He couldn’t wait or even ask how long I might take and finish. The option to abandon my bath never occurred to me nor was suggested by my father. He rushed into the unventilated room, dropped his drawers and immediately squatted upon the pot.

Gad, the odor was horrible. I swear I smelled death coming out of the man. Yeah, by my age then I knew precisely what dead things smelled like. At the same time, I remembered my dad coughing up blood before, in the same house. He left his diseased phlegm in that same un-flushed bowl. His liquid stew was now added to the contaminated cauldron. Thinking back, I recall my family had not yet lived in that house long.

I am certain the bowl had been flushed a number of times between these incidents. And I do mean I imply there anyway grew some infectious disease. Such was my imagination as a child. And being a sharp kid, I rationalized because my family no longer lived in the country or depended on a septic tank, the danger was carried by the city sewers, professionally strained and dumped a decent distance away into Honey Creek. Us kids or those before us, I can’t claim credit, nicknamed that thin waterway, “Shit-crick.”

At home and in my bath, I protested my father. “Why can’t you use the toilet in the basement?”

Nobody hardly ever used the toilet downstairs – it was used that often. The antique throne was in the laundry room. There was a lock on that door.

There was also a lock on the door beside that second toilet, which admitted, the exit opened into an attached garage. The architecture of the house and its plumbing was fashioned upon the foundation of the original stables of the city’s fire department. As were many abodes in my hometown, its prominent features were often cock-eyed.

The second toilet was taller than it’s younger upstairs cousin. The porcelain was cast that way, way back in… I don’t know when. It was old but it worked. I know in order to properly sit upon that particular John, in order to feel as if you have retained your balance and traction – Hey, those about to poop know the movement I’m trying to invoke – one had to sit on the tips of his or her toes.

I loathe to think my dad told me, “The toilet downstairs is broken.”

I knew it worked fine, but I think he said something in that respect. He didn’t know. Dad never did laundry or park the car in the garage.

“How could he know,” I grumbled to myself and held my nose. I am sure I answered something equivalent. Such was my attitude back then.

I crouched naked in the tub and grew anxious I retain some peace and dignity. Yeah, the man was unquestionably my biological father but I just did not know him well. I slept on the sun porch each morning he woke before dawn and smoked himself hoarse in the adjacent kitchen and I just never really knew enough to trust him. I didn’t want to know him, especially after suffering the second hand odiousness of his lungs. I would not because of random absurdities like this evening.

I didn’t like what I did know about him. For example, I knew he had not even considered using the second toilet because he was short guy. His legs would have dangled free from atop the seat. Swept like blowing curtains, his squashed and inverted trousers would have brushed silverfish and daddy longlegs across the bare and cold concrete floor. My own feet then already touched the ground but barely.

He hated being conscious of himself. He was that guy who refused to try on new hats because he believed his head was too small, smaller than anyone he knew. And dad never hunted for alternatives. He never explored, ask other people or just pick a different hat. Dangit. His static self-destruction was infuriating. Religion cemented my distrust of him.

For on that Saturday night years ago, I interpreted the Curse of Ham had come down and been revisited upon me. Satan engineered my damnation beyond my control. For that night, as had the iniquitous son of Noah, I glimpsed the Junk of My Father. I wondered if my dad or mom knew my tragedy. Neither of my parents regularly attended church and they usually went only on Christmas and for weddings. So I doubted either understood me.

I knew right away I was preordained for Hell. The United Church of Christ helped me realize everyone’s general fate. Here was mine in particular. The shameful vision was all that was required. The sight of the man’s spud-ish cudgel knocked me into the Lake of Fire. I felt the shame of Adam, and I sat naked, cowering beneath the noxious and invisible cloud of an indifferent god.

Mortified and left alone after a sponge-inducing ten minutes or forever, I collected myself, dressed and shunned the desecrated chamber. There was nothing more to my Fall. At bottom, there was no more to go. Even there, I did not wish my father to Hell. Soon after, a truthful stranger told me the place could not exist.

Almost twenty years after the death of my father and much further away, I do regret I could not say to him what I have tried to tell him so abrupt and at his end. There is nothing my father must answer. He missed me as much as I did him. And I decided I would make my own standards because no true ones were dictated to me. While I took care of the ‘me,’ I needed the man to save himself. Even today, I expect this miraculous thing from a father. I got a stinking memory.

 

– – Matthew Sawyer

 

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Insight Into Absurd Recesses Of Inspiration

October 12, 2013

Sometime ago in previous posts, I mentioned my sequel to Debbie’s Hellmouth. I call the book The Betulha Dohrman Legacy. Its manuscript is sitting unwrapped with a real publisher – this self-publishing stuff isn’t working for me. I have no clue where I can find a substantive fan-base.

Bitching and whining aside, I found again one my inspirations for a critical event in The Betulha Dohrman Legacy. This tragedy supposedly occurred in Nigeria, although I suspect these mutations are not uncommon. My similar phantasmagoria happens in Southern Wisconsin, outside an evil little place called Wister Town.

Warning, not for the recently fed. View at risk of your own ingestion…

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A Bent Nose and Crooked Mind

February 21, 2012

I was in a major accident in 2007. I don’t remember any of it – any of the accident, that day or the three debilitated weeks after. I was told I had been crossing a street near my neighborhood in Sunland, California on Mother’s Day, May 13th. A white Toyota pickup truck had struck me and sent me into a downtown Los Angeles trauma hospital. A police report confirmed when and where I had been kicked into the air, and who had been driving the vehicle. A witness saw and recalled the event for the police, but I have no memory. Strange, when I remember people telling me about the day, I imagine the truck was red. Here is what the vehicle did to me …

Besides hurting my pride, the accident inflected a subarachnoid hemorrhage brain injury. I was told I was lucky I survived. Still, all I know when I awoke is that I had trouble walking and my nose had been pressed toward the left side of my face. I thought then I needed to get it fixed. I’ve always been influenced by ancient, lofty superstitions and I recalled the Scottish stories of the Clan MacLennan and the angsty fate of the deformed Crotair MacGilligorm. Because my own witch’s mark, I elected for surgery in 2008 with the money I had received in settlement for the accident.

I awoke from the strictly cosmetic and elective rhinoplasty with more bruises than I remember I had three weeks after the accident. People tell me I had been in horrible shape – with my head puffed and shaved with metal hoses sticking out and leaking blood. During recovery from the plastic surgery, I recalled I had written the first half of my Pazuzu Trilogy in 2005 and had never done anything with the manuscript. Feeling better, I forgot about it again until I moved back to my home town Monroe, Wisconsin.

Although nose jobs seem child’s play in Southern California, a very skilled and recognized surgeon in Burbank accomplished exactly as I had anticipated. The man straightened my face and hid the diabolism of the story I had written. As I stated, the original first half of the trilogy slept until I returned to Wisconsin in 2008. There, I had been rejected by dozens of publishers and agents. So I then self-published my story with LuLu.

Suddenly desperate to tell this story before I die – a reality reinforced upon strangely numb reflection – I published my story despite the conscious, excessive shortcomings of my original drafts. I even went so far and paid to have that manuscript professionally edited at Llumina, which is a relationship that soured because I lost faith in the rather pricey POD publishing house. The story has definitely changed since that ragged year.

I’ve said so before, and I know a good many of you don’t believe me, but I’ve completed the Pazuzu story and have completely rewritten the tale Eight different times. I’ve got other stories, I’d love readers to discover, but this is my passion. This is the illustrated root of my horrible mythology. My Pazuzu Trilogy is an epic story and I hope many, many readers find me and agree.


Matthew Sawyer's Pazuzu Trilogy

Purchase Pazuzu Trilogy Pocket books and Hardcovers at LULU.

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Luke 17:26 – Days of Noah

February 12, 2012

I’m writing a new horror story – and it’s my best yet. I call it “Our Lord Weathercock” but I’m thinking of changing it to “The Midwestern Days of Noah.” Of course, the horrid tale is set in Wister Town, Wisconsin and I continue exploiting and expanding the mythology documented in depth with my Pazuzu Trilogy. Below is the end of Chapter 4 Mired Excursion in which Anti-Protagonist and old man Bill De Corbin rides his stolen adult-sized tricycle from the Wafflestein restaurant on the Square in his hometown. The man is going to the public library so he can research Black Magic. His travel becomes mysteriously impaired.

I’m not even half-finished. In the meantime, read my short horror stories from my self-published collections entitled Horrid Tales of Wister Town and A Codex of Malevolence – available at Smaswords and LuLu.

Luke 17:26 “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man.”

“Following the cultist, Bill gulped his coffee and went straight outdoors. He left the whole array of coins on the counter in the cafe. Knowing he’d piss soon enough, the old man hadn’t drank any of the tall glass of warm tap water the waitress provided – the cultist hadn’t drank any water, either. The adult tricycle De Corbin trusted outside stood precisely where he had parked his fenced vehicle.

Bill sat on the bike and pedaled backwards, moving the front wheel from the Wafflestein facade. When the old man stopped pressing against the pedals, the bike rolled forward and downhill. Bill rode the momentum of gravity then turned the bike’s front wheel sharply toward his left. The concrete sidewalk, elevated two concrete steps from the dry and salt-powdered asphalt of the street, was wide and allowed the old man to spin his bike completely around.

The momentum started him uphill on the vacant Midwestern boardwalk. Once he began pedaling against the twenty-degree slope, Bill found even that was easy. Three of four tire rotations later, the old man then felt as if he pulled the rope of an anchor taut. Using unseen strings, Bill dragged something invisible uphill.

Encouraged the distance up the Square was only one block before his route leveled again, Bill pushed himself. Thankful for the infusion of caffeine, the old man dragged a heavy nothing all the way. Upon flat land again, he grunted and wheezed. He hoped his work became easier, and riding the tricycle on a level sidewalk was indeed less hard.

The bewitched truth about pedaling the cycle, Bill still dragged something he didn’t see. If he bothered and got off the bike, the old man wouldn’t be able to touch the nothing there – so he didn’t. Bill worked harder than he expected and rode west the two blocks toward the library. Along the way, he reviewed his mental map of the Square and realized he had plotted his route diagonally as crows fly.”


A Codex of Malevolence

Horrid Tales of Wister Town Banner

Horrid Tales of Wister Town printed copies and ebooks are available at LULU and Smashwords.

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Haiku for a Gaunt Rainbow

January 30, 2012

Dream of Behemoth

She was a blind girl
Given sight so she may see
Life is agony.

This is Pamela.
In death, she eats the souls of the dead.
Friends call her Rainbow.

Here, death loves children
Because they’re harder to eat.
They call her Rainbow.

Youth evades her teeth.*
The old grow skinny and die
And restores her life.

Her name is Rainbow
She is an Angel of Death
Whom wears only black

* No, she is not a Vampire – something much worse. She is oblivion. Read Matthew Sawyer’s Gaunt Rainbow


Best Gaunt Rainbow Animated Gif

Books and ebooks available at LULU and Smashwords

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