Posts Tagged ‘short story’

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The Shape in the Doorway

August 22, 2016

The other night… There’s shouting outside in the parking lot facing my apartment, so I get up to take a look. My door is open, but I can’t see anything between or beyond the luminosity of my back-lit front room and the darkness outdoors. I take a hit of medicinal marijuana, my third or fourth this evening, go the door holding my breath, squint then look outside.

I spot a full grown man, my neighbor’s son. He’s parked right outside my apartment and shouting something unintelligible at an assumable friend. I don’t know either’s names. And I’ve never met the man personally. I’m certain we’ve spied each other in the daytime, but neither of us have stopped, closed the gap between us and introduced one to the other.

The moment I’m ready to expel the therapeutic vapor from my lungs, that son sees me and he just stares, looking blindly at my shadowed shape in the doorway. He eventually says, “Hello, big man.”

“Odd,” I’m thinking. “Who shouts hello from parking lots to strangers after dark.

I reply with a muffled and stunted, “Hello.” And I wait until he turns away before I blow smoke.

Not much time has passed, but in truth, after four hits of marijuana, I’ve already transcended the temporal. In any respect, he – as in the man outside – he turns away and he speaks to his obvious friend. I am released, at least from that restraint on my lungs. I’ve still said nothing more then returned a greeting when those other two begin walking away. Everything seems normal, peaceful once again. But then that son turns his head and strains his neck and stares at me again.

“Odder still,” I quietly wonder. “Is he on drugs, drunk?”

“Probably,” I answer myself. “It is Friday night. Summer.” Yet his fixed gaze is disturbing, disquieting. The guy stares at me like I’m waving my dick at him.

While he disappears into darkness – the opposite direction of his mother’s apartment, I wonder, “Where is he going?” We all know there is a homeless guy in that direction, one who sells methamphetamine. The LA cops have busted the operation a couple times. They even fenced off the nearby dried-up streambed where derelicts would camp. All the same, even today, there are disaffected transients roaming outside peddling anything from yarn jewelry to much harder stuff.

“Carpe diem,” I mutter aloud and out of earshot of the strange passerby’s. “Caveat emptor.” And they are gone.

In modern American English, I still think, “Don’t stare at another man’s dick, son.” I will need to speak to his mother about this.

– Mr. Binger

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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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The Horror of ISIS by Mr. Binger

March 8, 2015

The Horror of ISIS by Mr. Binger

The Horror of ISIS is a short story set in modern Iraq, wrecked and pillaged by terrorists and made askew by the mythology represented in Matthew Sawyer’s Pazuzu Trilogy. This is another tale by Mr. Binger that brings the alternate reality into real life. Atheistic in tone, the demons in his rash of stories are only possible because God abandoned the world. Others waited to take His place. Pazuzu awoke in the Middle East.

The Horror of the Islamic State
Mr. Binger

Captain Mitchell and his squad of ordinary United States Army Reservists remove themselves to Shingal, Iraq. Radical terrorists had recently held the town. The savages had swallowed some eighty thousands Iraqi Kurds into the belly of an over-gorged nation-monster. But as had the children of Chronos, the people in its guts did not perish. They fought back after time. The Yazdani, Christians in their own right, returned and surged again. They had come much like Constantine, under the banner of Christ.

Disguised, the captain and his team of acculturated soldiers today go to the recaptured Shingal and survey the territory. Their first objective was to assess the conditions; take pictures of carnage. Secondly and equally important, they were to locate Professor Christopher Mithrasen. The entire United States military was looking for the man. ISIS claimed they had captured him seven months ago. Any further information was available upon a “need-to-know” basis. Captain Mitchell himself never needed to know much.

The squad debated without input from their superior officer while they came up from Baghdad. Traveling at night, they come through the county-sized oil fields of northern Iraq. Though bombed into oblivion thrice in as many decades, the oil wells are working again. These likely never stopped pumping crude despite any damages. Oil and smoke and fire has forever choked this land.

While driving the armored Humvee everyone rides, Corporeal Ben Dinholme conjectures about their operation and its surroundings. He says, “That Mithrasen… did he find another gospel in a place like this?”

Private First Class Singer states, “I think they were all written here; the originals, that is.”

“Shut up,” Private Scott Kalkoff warranted on faith alone.

Singer comments, “Just so you know, the stories probably come from the Caucasus. Armenia, probably. That’s not so far north from here.”

“Snub it,” Sergeant Schindick shouts from the front passenger seat. “I’ve had enough argument between you two. We are just eyes-on-the-ground, no mouths.”

“It’s okay, sergeant,” Private Kalkoff tells his superior. “I am curious what the Yazdani say about Christ, even if it is blasphemy.”

“Hey, now,” Corporeal Dinholme jokes. He bounces in his seat behind the steering wheel, acting as would a child waiting for a favorite movie sequel to start playing.

“I said let’s not get them started,” cautions the sergeant.

Scott claims, “No, I’m curious. What do you know about the Yazdani faith, Singer?”

Next to him on the backseat – there with Captain Mitchell furthest right on the passenger side of the vehicle, Private First Class Singer tells Private Kalkoff, “They got a Jesus.”

“Well, that is mandatory,” Scott blurts.

Singer nods and he continues delivering his objective summary, “And they got seven angels who rule this world. There’s Melek Taus, the Peacock Angel…”

Kalkoff interjects, “And Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen.”

“Not quite,” Singer retorts. “Anyway, they – your seven holy beings – they do all the legwork for God, like all the little gods of the Hindu pantheon do for Krishna.”

“Krishna is not God,” asserts Scott.

Singer tells him, “You’re right about that. He’s closer to Jesus.”

“Shut it,” Sergeant Schindick orders. “I’ve heard this one before.”

“We’re coming up on Shingal, sergeant,” Captain Mitchell informs everyone.

Schindick answers “Yes, sir.” And the other conversation ends.

Silence carries the covert team of solders in their marked military vehicle toward the dark and ancient Arabian city. Today, after the terror wrought by ISIS, and at night, the only artifacts that may conceivably remain here are ash and bone. The civilized world hoped these marked the beginning of the end of sedition. Captain Mitchell and his team of soldiers were drawn to the aftermath.

A quarter-mile out from Shingal’s boundary, a living obscenity to God distracts the Humvee driver. Corporeal Dinholme spots a native man he believes commits a sin in the eyes of these people’s regional deity, Allah. The Iraqi Kurdish man had taken off his checkered head scarf and now waves it in the air. Well within the range of the truck’s headlamps, the Kurd signals as if the American vehicle had finished a race through the desert. This squad of Reservists win automatically, chiefly because they were the only team running.

“Can they do that?” Corporeal Dinholme wonders aloud about the native man. “Can they take off their hats like that? Is it against their religion?”

“Stop,” Captain Mitchell commands. “That’s Bob.”

Sergeant Schindick echos the order before the vehicle is slowed. His voice rings until the transport stands before the man waving a kaffiyeh. Meanwhile, the Kurd wraps the scarf around his balding scalp once more.

“Bob?” Kalkoff wonders to himself while seated next to the captain.

Captain Mitchell tells everyone, “He’s a contact.” The explanation remains brief.

“Bag-pants Bob,” Sergeant Schindick clarifies for the squad. Rumors and recollections betray themselves on the faces of the men.

Corporeal Dinholme comments, “I thought his nickname was Bob Baggins, like the Hobbit.”

Schindick answers, “Well, that’s the guy.”

The native informant rushes to the driver’s side of the vehicle. Although this summer has been hot, the reservists had come to Shingal with the windows rolled up. They came through haze and incendiary vapors protected inside the Humvee and the men still reek like gasoline.

“Kill the lights,” Captain Mitchell tells Dinholme. The corporeal follows the order and he turns off the truck’s headlamps.

“Roll down your window,” the captain then also states from the back seat. Dinholme does so, too. Bag-pants Bob immediately throws his damp head into the vehicle. Sweat had washed his face clean and stained his loose shirt.

Simultaneously, the man exhales. His breath overwhelms the acrid interior aroma with the scent of antiseptic paint thinner. The informer also slurs his broken English sentences. Bob interrogates the badly concealed soldiers.

“Who are you? CIA? Mossad?”

“We’re just regular army,” the captain tells him. “United States of America. No SEALs nor Marines, not even Green Berets.”

“You can take him back to America,” Bob slobbers. “Shingal does not worship the devil. Sunni worship the devil.”

“What is he talking about?” Scott quietly worries from the backseat. No one listens to the faithful army reservist. The squad is transfixed by the rambling of the informant.

“Don’t believe it… don’t believe… anything you see.”

“What are talking about?” insists Captain Mitchell.

“You know,” Bob begs him. “The beheading, the movie studio. It is here.”

“Where they make ISIS videos?” blurts Dinholme.

Sergeant Schindick shouts at him. “Quiet.”

Bob, meantime, nods. The Kurdish man pulls his head from the Humvee and glances about into the dark. “It’s okay, now. They are gone,” he says over his shoulders.

The captain seeks affirmation and he asks their contact specifically, “ISIS is gone?”

Bob nods again and never truly stopped doing so once he first started. Captain Mitchell wants confirmation. “We wouldn’t be here if the radicals were still around. Did they execute the hostages here? Where is the studio?”

“Yes,” Bob said. The affirmation seems too general. The word becomes more vague after each second. He then says, “Doctor Mithrasen.”

“Professor Mithrasen is here?” Singer asks shocked.

Sergeant Schindick glares at the soldier. On the opposite side the backseat, Captain Mitchell raises his hand. The officer invokes silence with his gesture and he is obeyed.

Captain Mitchell tells the front seat, “Sergeant, get directions to the studio’s location.”

Bag-pants Bob speaks over the captain’s instruction. “It is an aircraft bunker – no planes. No airfield. No pilots.”

“Yeah,” Private Kalkoff snickers next to Singer. He teases the informant. Their exchange stays unnoticed.

Singer whispers to him, “It’s the moonshine.”

The intoxicated informant then spears his hand into the vehicle. He waves an open and empty palm up and down below Dinholme’s nose. In response, Captain Mitchell throws loose American dollar bills into the front seat. And coordinated, Sergeant Schindick collects the money and he verbalizes the officer’s wishes.

“Pay him,” he tells the corporeal.

Having exchanged his information for cash, Bag-pants Bob abruptly walks away from the army vehicle. Stumbling the length of the Humvee toward the rear, he says again, “Don’t believe what you see,”

Hearing him, Corporeal Dinholme steps on the brake. Doing so illuminates the truck’s rear red lights. Bob’s back is painted with blood.

“Where are you going Bob?” asks the corporeal. The reservist imagined only the desert while he watches the native informant walk the greased way the Army Reservists had driven.

Bob tells him, “Sinjar.”

Dinholme did not know what Bob could mean. And it was too dark to see. He asks the soldiers inside the Humvee, “Sinjar, that’s this province. Right?”

Scott tells him, “He probably going to the mountain.”

“Captain,” Private Singer addresses the officer. “Sir, what was he talking about? What are we not suppose to believe?”

“ISIS was making movies,” replies Captain Mitchell summarily. “And it’s not important. The man was drunk.”

The captain tells Sergeant Schindick, “Sergeant let’s find that bunker. Professor Mithrasen has become the priority.”

“It doesn’t sound far, sir,” the soldier assures his commanding officer. Sergeant Schindick tells Dinholme, “Go,” and he points. “It’s right there. I can see it.”

Everyone knows the sergeant can’t see squat, but Bob’s map was simple and the landscape is flat. An intelligent man could make a reasonable assumption where an aircraft bunker stood on the nearby cusp of the city of Shingal. Confidant in his own assumption, Corporeal Dinholme takes the squad slightly left of where he had been pointed.

Nearer the city, visible yellow candle light plainly flickers in windows. There are instances of electric bulbs lighting outdoor entrances, but the team of reservist are yet too far away. They cannot define what the glowing blue-tinted orbs might be. Closer toward Shingal, the squad finds lights of all sorts are extinguished in an ominous circumference around their target. The concrete aircraft bunker where Bag-pants Bob had sent them is engulfed by the same flat darkness behind them.

“Singer, Kalkoff,” summons the sergeant. “Scout the bunker.”

All wearing woolen coats and vests over their uniforms, and with their ranks and other insignia concealed, Sergeant Schindick and Corporeal Dinholme get out of the Humvee the same time Singer and Kalkoff respond to their command. Captain Mitchell is left alone in the vehicle adjusting a checkered head scarf when the headlamps go extinguished. He watches while his higher-ranked non-commissioned officers ready their M4 carbine rifles and cover the scouts.

Privates Singer and Kalkoff bring their weapons and helmets with them, visually more wary of traps before each footstep than the building ahead of them. Schindick and Dinholme monitor the bunker. They are the ‘eyes’ in this maneuver. Yet in the dark, Singer, Kalkoff are more practical. And they could be more effective only if their boots were feelers like those of a cockroach.

The Army Reserve had come upon the oblong profile of a solid windowless bunker. There is one steel door that Kalkoff checks then reports, “Locked.” Singer tells the sergeant, “Clear, this side.”

Sergeant Schindick tells Corporeal Dinholme, “Bring the vehicle and the captain. Follow us to the front.”

“I’m behind you,” the sergeant then tells Singer and Kalkoff. “Move to the front of the building.”

The enlisted men do as they have been told and now raise their rifles. They spend equal amounts of time looking ahead of themselves as they do each of their own boots. Meanwhile, the Army vehicle comes swung around on packed ripples of sand and bounces beams of white light against their backs. Sergeant Schindick, too, is caught in the bobbing swaths of illumination.

Once the staggered U.S. team is around the bunker, the sergeant spins and raises a fist. The vehicle stops tens of yards before tall and marginally parted hangar doors. Sergeant Schindick then draws his open palm against his throat and the truck’s headlamps are killed. He tells his two advanced scouts, “I got your backs – get in there and check it out.”

Singer and Kalkoff do as they are told. Kalkoff leads them then he stalls inside the concrete structure. He pulls a flashlight from his shoulder suspender. Singer does the same and together they throw sanguine spotlights into the air of a spacious chamber. The filtered beams paint dashing colored ovals across the scaffolds of an arced ceiling.

Once the pair have scanned wreckage thrown about the interior of the bunker, Singer tells Kalkoff, “There’s no one here… just video tapes, broken electronics…”

“Anything radical or fundamental is full of Luddites and torture porn,” complains the private first class.

“It was a studio,” comments Kalkoff. The private reservist kicks over a broken camera and finds an M16. “They left their weapons, too.”

Singer teases his compatriot and his use of pronouns. “They?” In his godless perspective, someone like Kalkoff and the terrorists were essentially the same. “Essentially” was the most important operative word in that sentence.

“ISIS,” Kalkoff tells him.

Singer abandons the distraction. “Let’s push the doors open, get the truck’s lights in here. I still can’t see shit.”

“Good idea, for once,” answers Private Kalkoff.

Agreed, the two United States reservists each pick a hanging panel and they press open the aircraft bunker. “Clear,” Singer tells Sergeant Schindick.

“All right,” Schindick grumbles. “What do they got in there?”

“Can we get the truck’s lights in here, sergeant?” Private Kalkoff answers.

A brief time passes while Sergeant Schindick goes and consults Captain Mitchell in the back of the Army vehicle. Meantime, Private Kalkoff scans the interior the bunker again. He sweeps a red beam diagonally across the width of the single room. The light touches upon a unique video monitor – special in that it appears undamaged and it still sits elevated upon an upright table.

“They missed a television,” he tells Singer.

“Was that there?” Private Singer responds. His befuddlement is interrupted that moment when the Army Humvee shines its high beams into the unsealed chamber.

Hidden nearby in a ray from the light’s source, Sergeant Schindick speaks to his subordinates. “Professor Christopher Mithrasen,” he reminds the soldiers. “Anything?”

Captain Mitchell appears with Sergeant Schindick when the pair step outside the beam of illumination. “We will need to hunt, sergeant. What is on these video tapes?”

“Rehearsals, sir?” Schindick conjectures.

Private Scott Kalkoff is careless and he interrupts the speculation. “Look, the television is still hooked to a camera. I think there’s a tape in there.”

Before the sergeant demands respect from his direct reports, Private Singer reminds Kalkoff with an emphasized, “Sir.”

“Sir,” Private Kalkoff tells the captain. “I think they were filming something when a raid, or something happened.”

Sergeant Schindick suggests, “The Kurdish insurgence.”

“Play it,” Captain Mitchell commands. “Can we play the tape? Is there power?”

The Humvee driver, Corporeal Ben Dinholme, joins the squad the same time Private Singer reports, “Fortunately, sir, we’re in luck. There is power but everything is busted… everything but this stuff.”

“Convenient,” Corporeal Dinholme personally comments while he makes his own assessment of the scenario.

“Well enough. Play it,” orders the captain.

The sergeant reiterates the command with the phrase, “Let’s see what we got.”

Right away, the television is switched on and a video tape is played from an overturned camera on the floor. Nuclear green overwhelms the first scenes until a close-up shot is pulled and Professor Mithrasen’s bloated face fills the screen.

Both loud and strangled, the infamous scholar and atheist insists his captives, “Say it. Say there is no god.”

He shouts to militants standing off-camera, “Deny his existence.”

“Deny the existence of god or you welcome chaos and evil into the world.”

Young men laugh and a record of their sounds is played on tape. Now in the overturned bunker with stark light against their backs, the squad of American Army reservists stand sharp and silent. They quietly witness what had become of this place.

An unseen terrorist on the tape shouts in Aramaic, which prompts Corporeal Dinholme to wonder aloud, “What did he say?”

Captain Mitchell responds, “They’re going to cut off his head.”

“That’s what I thought,” adds Sergeant Schindick. “Sir.”

“What did they do to his face, sir?” Corporeal Dinholme asks the captain. “Torture?”

“Maybe,” Captain Mitchell replies. “Watch the tape.”

Hypnotized by the concept of post-production propaganda, Sergeant Schindick this time does not repeat the officer. The video continues to play. And a recorded Professor Mithrasen warns his captors, “Say there is no God or you will hold open the door!”

An accented voice says on the video recording, “Tell your president to take your evil home.”

“No,” Mithrasen shouts. “The US brought it back.”

Amidst indecipherable shouts, the professor is also heard begging. “It belongs here. Or space. Don’t wake him.”

Corporeal Dinholme whispers, “What is he talking about?”

Singer speculates. “Is it the gospel he found?”

“Unlikely,” Scott instantly scoffs.

All three enlisted men are hushed once the sergeant glares at them. In the fraction of a second that Schindick wastes turning his head, the playing video tape has progressed straight to decapitation. The scene on the TV portrays callous, tanned hands fondling an Olean, New York KABAR knife. The professor’s throat goes sawed with its blade. Mithrasen still speaks at the beginning of his execution, after the knife had cut his flesh and he had yet not bled.

“Pazuzu comes from here,” he tells his killers.

Tufts of threaded black smoke seep from his nose and his mouth. The opaque vapor oozes from the expanding wound across his neck but there is no blood. The professor’s head is a quarter-ways sawn off and the man does not bleed. Feces comes out of the opened throat instead. Its appearance is unmistakable. There it was and a smell. The terrorists on the video decry the stench the same time the team of United States Reservists detect a comparable odor now inside the bunker.

Corporeal Dinholme says, “What?”

Professor Christopher Mithrasen’s head is severed from his body the same time Private Kalkoff comments, “It suddenly smells like a pig farm in Ohio.”

Overhearing him, Captain Mitchell responds. “Not many farms of any sort left in that state.”

“Yes, sir,” replies the private. “It’s either because of global warming or God’s judgment, sir.”

In place of suppressing laughing at his teammate, Private Singer shouts, “Whew,” and he waves his unencumbered arm over his head. The other soldiers start holding their noses shut.

“Who is Pazuzu?” Dinholme asks anyone while his nostrils are pinched closed.

Also nasally, Captain Mitchell tells him, “Watch and see.” Terrorists on the video screech over the words.

“Nas-nas,” they squeal. “Nas-nas.”

“What are they talking about,” insists Corporeal Dinholme.

Private Singer tells him, “Nas-nas are djinn, evil spirits. They drink your blood by licking the soles of your feet.”

“Yummy,” Dinholme wisecracks.

Simultaneously occurring on the video tape, a pig’s nostril comes regurgitated from the murdered man’s severed esophagus. The animal’s snout next appears then out comes its head. The creature squeals and squirms inside Professor Mithrasen’s prone corpse. Its head substitutes for the man’s lost own.

Terrorists shoot the living obscenity but the thing is already dead. Each of the five U.S. Reservists had witnessed what emerged from Mithrasen’s stump. They had seen it never lived. The pig’s wide eyes had gone flat white. There was no sheen across the ivory orbs. The professor’s body then animates. The dead pig inside the corpse squeals and it lifts this part of the late Christopher Mithrasen unto its feet dressed in shit-smeared orange prison garb.

“God,” Scott finally invokes. No one standing around the soldier hears his solicitation.

Corporeal Dinholme says, “I know. The smell, right?”

Reanimated and upright on two legs, the dead pig in possession of the just-as-dead man attacks the terrorists. The evil spirit disappears off-screen followed by screams and wreckage. Bits of electronics fly in and out of the recording as regularly does bloody carnage.

“Holy crap,” Dinholme chants.

Sergeant Schindick corrects him. “You’re half right.”

At the center of an omnipresent stench and watching what snippets of slaughter are available on the recording, Private Kalkoff dares hypothesize. “The pig monster looks like Muhammad. Maybe he’s come back to do some spankings.”

Singer responds, “Because it can’t be Jesus, right?”

Never removing his eyes from the video monitor, Sergeant Schindick tells his pair of privates, “End it. Peace be on his headstone. And that’s the only place he’ll get any. Right, brothers?”

Private Kalkoff answers, “Praise the Lord.”

Private Singer rolls his eyes. And feeling outnumbered, he shuts his mouth.

Finished presumably eating the terrorists, every piece of each, the bipedal corpse of Professor Mithrasen stumbles back into the view of the camera. The bloodied monstrosity collapses and oinks. All of him remains visible on screen, kicking the ground and beating his arms against the shattered electronics. Quills, long, like those of a porcupine, pierce themselves out of the dead professor’s shoulders and his back. These further shred apart his already torn clothes.

The quills come out then the living dead pig wriggles itself free of the human cadaver. It crawls out from the severed neck of the professor. While it does, almost as an anxious newborn might crawl from its dead mother’s womb, the animal grunts.

“What was that?” Corporeal Dinholme wonders. “I heard an animal.”

Sergeant Schindick tells him, “It’s on the recording, soldier.”

There on the television is a mutant. An impossibly big pig with quills on its shoulders and from its back; tusks project out its nostrils. Seventy-two sagging teats (Dinholme counted them), their purple nipples brush against the ground until the undead monster learns to stand and walk on four split hooves. Its dead breasts fall flat against its bristled and warty hide when the pig lifts itself upright. And its horrible birth was caught on tape.

“I think it’s here,” answers the corporeal. The man already doubts he detected anything.

Free from one mortal coil and under flickering set lighting, the demonic pig walks off-screen. More animal sounds come issued from the recording. Hearing these, Corporeal Dinholme knows he hears others and the noise comes from nearby.

“How about if I secure the Humvee, captain?” he implores the officer.

“Do you think something is here?” Captain Mitchell asks him. “I do too.”

The video ends. The television monitor changes to black and Mitchell says, “And it’s not coming back with us.”

“Professor Christopher Mithrasen stays here,” he tells his squad of reservists. “What is inside him, or if he is inside something else, it stays here.”

Private Singer asks him, “Sir, isn’t Professor Mithrasen dead?”

“Apparently,” capitulates the captain.

Uncommonly curious, Private Kalkoff asks, “Captain. What was it exactly, sir?”

Captain Mitchell says only, “We do what we’re told, that’s all I know.”

“Yes, sir,” replies the private.

Despite the recording having reached its end, the team of soldiers still hear a pig. The fetid smell of manure never dissipated. It only becomes worse.

“Let’s get the tape and pull back to the vehicle,” Captain Mitchell suggests.

Sergeant Schindick tells Private Singer, “Get the tape.”

He mentions to Private Kalkoff, “Take some pictures.”

Trailing the strategic withdrawal, Private Scott Kalkoff walks backwards with his rifle slung over his shoulder. He kicks debris behind him as he rummages into his utility belt. The Army reservist produces a compact digital camera and he takes flashing snapshots. All the while, snorts and grunts go around outside the aircraft bunker. A thought comes to Scott. He thinks, “How can I even hear anything through concrete walls? Maybe explosions, maybe.”

The reservist is almost outside the long sliding doors and joined with the rest of his team when the animal noises echo inside the structure. And he escapes without ever having his curiosity ignited. Outside and out from the beams of light the military Humvee throws, the soldiers listen to their commanding officer.

Captain Mitchell’s voice shakes when tells his squad, “The remains of Professor Mithrasen is one American resource we don’t want to fall into enemy hands.”

“What remains, sir?” Sergeant Schindick begs his captain. “Are we going after the pig, sir? Captain, pardon me, sir, but it looks like it ate everything that can’t be plugged into a wall socket.”

“It looked like it killed all the terrorists single-handed – captain,” Private Kalkoff reiterates.

“You didn’t see anything, Private,” commands the captain. “You heard noises and gunfire on a videotape. None of us saw anything. No one will say anything.”

“Yes, sir,” replies the team. The five soldiers then simultaneously climb into the Humvee. The doors shut and the animal sounds go away.

Everyone agrees for a moment and the engine is started then Singer says, “We’ll be asked what happened.”

Dinholme states, “Shit.”

“We saw a pig,” Private Singer specifies. “Wreckage. I have to tell investigators about that. I can’t lie.”

“You saw a pig,” hisses Captain Mitchell. “You men saw a pig and you saw all that ridiculous stuff on the videotape. HQ will watch the tape.”

As the team of reservists drive away upon the path they came to Shingal, Sergeant Schindick raises a responsible detail. “Sir, there were those noises, like an animal,” he says then he snorts like a pig.”

“Captain,” finalizes the sergeant.

The team travels back to Baghdad near dawn. On the way, Captain Mitchell confesses. No one is sure the man means to speak aloud. “I heard rumors Professor Mithrasen was working on a secret weapon for the U.S. government. Maybe he was, maybe he was it. I need to give my report to HQ. They might know something. Let them watch the videotape.”

“Holy Mother of God,” he mutters. “Whatever he found must stay here.”

Private Kalkoff hands the evidence to his superior officer. And he draws the captain’s focus when he asks, “Are you catholic, captain?” The officer does not answer.

Himself suffering post traumatic stress, Sergeant Schindick yells inside the vehicle. His rage goes directed at Private Kalkoff. “Dammit, soldier. Didn’t you hear what Professor Mithrasen said? ‘Don’t believe.’ Bag-pants Bob said, ‘Don’t believe.’ Don’t.”

– END.

Read others..
Lazarus The Pig

Matthew Sawyer’s Pazuzu Trilogy
And visit the author’s store front at Smashwords

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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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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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Once Gramps Had Come – A Christmas Story

November 25, 2014

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

h1

Listen Up – Doctor Who Fan Fiction

November 13, 2014

The scene that might make the whole problem with the Doctor Who Episode ‘Listen’ go away…

Listen Up

Listen Up

SCENE: The tar caverns of the planet Mywurt Five. The DOCTOR lies on a tarry rock floor of a pit DOWNSTAGE CENTER. The DOCTOR is also bound hand-and-foot and his arms are behind his back.

MISTRESS enters UPSTAGE CENTER

MISTRESS (descending tractor beam into pit): There is nothing to be afraid of, Doctor – nothing and no one except me, of course.

DOCTOR (angry and exhausted): What are you twaddling about, today? Every day you have held me for ransom, I have suffered your pretentious staggering.

MISTRESS: Doctor… Be quiet.

MISTRESS stands CENTER STAGE over DOCTOR

MISTRESS (sing-song voice): Shut up, shut up, shut up.

DOCTOR sits upright.

DOCTOR (sarcastic): All right, tell me what you have to say about fear. Let’s get your speech done already.

MISTRESS: I don’t write them down, Doctor.

DOCTOR: Yes, yes… impromptu… a regular Philo, you are.

MISTRESS: Me? A great orator? A master, perhaps?

DOCTOR: It’s getting old. Come on, exercise your lungs. My ears are your treadmill.

MISTRESS: Humph.

DOCTOR: Well, you sound like a comic book character – one of the baddies.

MISTRESS (angry): Your brave speech…

MISTRESS walks a circle around DOCTOR

MISTRESS: About fear making us stronger…

MISTRESS: About making us better people.

MISTRESS: Fear can be a superpower

MISTRESS halts STAGE RIGHT

MISTRESS: Did you lift that little speech? I swear I’ve heard one of your human pets say it before I heard the same irritating pathos from you.

DOCTOR: Oh, who are you talking about?

MISTRESS: Your quaking companion, Doctor. Clara.

DOCTOR: What does she have to do with you?

MISTRESS: Clara visited me, now you know, when I was a little boy. Oh, I do miss my old pantaloons.

DOCTOR: What are you saying?

MISTRESS: I used to be afraid, Doctor. I was afraid of the dark. I was afraid of monsters under my bed.

DOCTOR (urgent): Have you done anything to Clara? I’m warning you…

MISTRESS: Relax, this was long ago.

DOCTOR: We both know what that means to people like us.

MISTRESS: I’ll tell you what happened.

MISTRESS sits down STAGE RIGHT next to DOCTOR

MISTRESS: Do you remember the Magellan columns when we were toddlers? Those storms were nothing but pure electricity, but the sound was terrifying. It scared me. I slept in my family’s barn where I knew I was protected by its static haze insulation.

DOCTOR (sarcastic): Some boys cuddle teddy bears.

MISTRESS: Clara cuddled me.

DOCTOR (dismissive): You say.

MISTRESS: Really. She visited me during a storm– that must have been the summer when my first application to the academy was rejected. Their doctors were concerned with my mental stability. Imagine that, way back then.

MISTRESS stands

MISTRESS: Clara was hiding under my bed.

DOCTOR: That is convenient.

MISTRESS: I’m telling the truth. She grabbed my ankle.

DOCTOR rolls his eyes.

MISTRESS: Then she whispered softly into my ear, “It’s all a dream.”

DOCTOR: I expect.

MISTRESS: Tsk, I can prove it. Do you still have that plastic army man, the one you took from me?”

DOCTOR: I don’t know what you’re talking about.

MISTRESS: You, Doctor, are a kleptomaniac. Some worlds believe your neurosis is worst than murder.

DOCTOR: I expect I’m probably wanted on all of them.

MISTRESS: Probably.

DOCTOR: You would do them a favor by killing me now.

MISTRESS: Doctor, that isn’t what this is about. Besides, the bounty on your head is pathetic. I think Earth will give me all its weapon-grade uranium for your safe return.

DOCTOR: Why, what do you need it for? You could make a big batch for yourself.

MISTRESS: It’s a game. You know us.

DOCTOR: All too casually.

MISTRESS guffaws

MISTRESS: I guess I should go back and act more professionally.

MISTRESS walks backwards toward UPSTAGE CENTER

MISTRESS: There is something I wanted to say before I bring back the burning cockroaches.

DOCTOR (shouts over his own shoulder): Good, they’ll give me something to do. Maybe I can use their teeth and cut the bands on my Immobilizer Cuffs.

MISTRESS (riding tractor beam from pit): If you must try… what I wanted to tell you – my answer to you that you refuse to hear… about that night long ago Clara came and visited me. I listened to your TARDIS fly away.

MISTRESS exits UPSTAGE CENTER

MISTRESS (from OFF STAGE): Fear will destroy you those times you are all alone. One must Master fear.

[CUTSCENE]


Listen Up 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 BBC Doctor Who television series.

Listen Up by Matthew Sawyer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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