Saturday, October 15, 2011
Friday, October 14, 2011
I watched as the house lit up like a Christmas tree and then promptly exploded.
Moving out my comfortable condo at the pressure of my friends is where it started. To “get my hands dirty” doing the manly house work such as fixing doors and floorboards and other inane things that houses beg of you. I caved only because I saw the market potential as well as good location in the Victorian styled community. It was a lush forest paradise, tucked away New England town, surrounded by mountains and miles of forests.
My first warning came in the form of a young group of teenagers at a local diner....
I feel a lot of conflicting emotions right now...
Thursday, October 13, 2011
I grew up in a farmhouse out in the middle of rural Pennsylvania. The house itself, like many other houses built in the late 18th century, was built primarily for function with little thought given to conveniences or any foresight into what eventually would become standard building practices. Plumbing was an afterthought, the door frames were all different sizes, there wasn’t much in the way of insulation, and I’m pretty positive there wasn’t a truly square corner anywhere in the entire house.
The one thing that stood out the most to me during my childhood was my closet. The ceiling of my closet had crude door cut into it, closed off only by a panel of wood that would slide over the opening. This door led to the attic, but had no readily convenient method of access as it required a ladder and some body contortion to really get to. Since the house had plenty of storage space elsewhere and the attic required going through my room with a ladder to access, my parents took an “out of sight, out of mind” approach to the attic and it was more or less forgotten for years at a time. Every so often somebody would mention it, and grand plans would be made to move things up there for storage, but in the end nobody actually would want to deal with it and I never once saw anybody actually put forth the effort to get up there.
I wasn’t quite as quick to dismiss the attic, though...
stories of faith and fright
In The Pit
Al Bruno III
Science had long ago replaced the faith of Professor Mercer Conrad’s childhood. With no prayers to comfort him he could only whisper scraps from his latest thesis to keep madness at bay. “...in order to pursue my examination of the convergence of post millennial social degeneration and economic disruption...” he said, “...I will approach the subjects directly and establish a dialogue...”
The pit they had thrown him into was eight feet deep and barely a yard across. It had been dug out of the concrete sub-basement of a half-completed house. Serrated ridges were carved into the walls of the pit and the simple act of moving was enough to cut bare flesh to ribbons. A thick iron lattice had been placed over the mouth of the pit and was bolted down. When Mercer shook the bars they didn’t even rattle.
Somewhere a halogen lamp blazed, it cast dark, sharply defined silhouettes along the walls and ceiling of the sub-basement. From his vantage point in the pit Mercer watched the fate of his friends and co-workers unfold like grotesque shadow-plays that ended when the puppets were reduced to scraps.
There were other pits nearby, most were empty but not all. A shape drifted past, the cloaked shaman was about to choose a new victim.
“Hey!” Mercer shouted, “Please talk to me!”
But there was no answer, none of his captors had spoken a word this night. They had committed each of their atrocities in silence.
Mercer said, “...in times of social and economic despair religiosity inevitably takes hold of the general public but in this era of skepticism and spiritual nihilism those impulses have become...”
The clang of a nearby gate being flipped open startled him into silence. Then there were the familiar grunts and cries as another one of sacrifice was dragged away.
What would it be? Flaying or spikes? Or perhaps something far worse. Mercer cursed his foolishness. Where others had seen unsolved mysteries and unreported disappearances he had only seen right-wing fear-mongering and urban myth-cycles.
His teaching assistant Farkas had tried to warn him but Farkas had been the first sacrifice. They had let him keep his tongue and he had shrieked and begged until his voice became the choking gurgles of a half-drowned man.
“...legends that spread over social networks, so-called evidence that is nothing more than here-say and poorly doctored photographs...” Mercer breathed, “...they are the embodiment of middle class fears, the terror that a lost job or economic setback will throw them down amongst...”
A cry rose up and dwindled. There was a sound that reminded Mercer of celery stalks being torn from the root.
A week ago Mercer had convinced a group of friends and students to join him in Las Vegas for what he had promised would be a ‘working holiday’. They would spend a few days enjoying the sights and the shows, then they would head off to Vantage Acres with digital cameras and notebooks.
The cloaked shaman drifted past again. Mercer called out, “Listen to me! People know where we are!”
That was a lie, both he and his captors knew it, but wasn’t that all part of the ceremony? Weren’t sacrifices supposed to beg?
“...the recent wave of foreclosures have left the city of Las Vegas with one of the highest concentrations of empty houses. Pools have become stagnant breeding grounds for biting insects. Vermin infestations are common as are encroachments from larger animals like bobcats and coyotes but rumors abound that human beings are responsible for the most terrible...”
Mercer heard the sound of someone blubbering, then a struggle and a brief chase. The chase ended with the muffled ringing of metal pipes crashing down on soft flesh.
At first Mercer and his friends had found exactly what they were looking for, downtrodden families living in forgotten homes, foraging for food in the garbage of the financially solvent and stealing what they needed from local stores. As wildlife slowly reclaimed the abandoned neighborhoods some families and clans had begun hunting and trapping.
A crowd of strangers had approached Mercer and his friends shortly after sundown. He had marveled at their piercings and their warpaint and most of all how young they were. Most were little more than teenagers in dirty designer clothes but some of the older ones wore faded military fatigues with the insignias torn away. Farkas and the others had wanted to retreat but Mercer made them stand their ground. He needed to speak to these people, to understand and explicate them. His conversation was rambling and one sided as he had tried to draw them out by talking about class warfare and economic angst.
“... they are called many things such as Urban Headhunters, White Savages and, most often, the Pilgrims. Supposedly they roam the countryside snatching up unwary children and stealing wi-fi. What truth is there behind the terrible legends that have sprung up around them? There are...”
The shaman passed by again, rough fabric trailing across the bars of the pit. Mercer grabbed at the hem of the dark robe and caught it in his bloodied fingertips. He held tight.
There was a soft tear as the cloaked figure stumbled and turned back. The face beneath the cloak was bespectacled and cherubic, it stared indifferently at him.
“Talk to me!” Mercer demanded, even now he was sure that if he could just establish a dialogue he could save himself and his career, “Please. Just say something.”
The cloaked shaman paused thoughtfully, then spoke with a soft, sickly voice, “You're next.”
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Well I hope no one was put off my my little cheesecake avalanche there...
I need to spend less time posting to my blog and more time getting laid.
Time sure flies when you're mangling the English language eh?
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
IN THIS TWILIGHT
The Mask Collector
Wednesday February 4th 2004
“…flesh an illusion… reality a dream…”
“…NOGGAR-DALLIEON -- the shapeless and everlasting…”
The alarm clock was flashing twelve. Darren stared at it for a good long time, trying to decide if he was awake or dreaming. Then he realized he was awake, it was the middle of the night and Chad was at it again.
“…peel back the unworthy face…”
“…Pool of the Maelstrom… Lords of the Churning Oblivion…”
It sounded like there were at least a dozen people over there, shouting and chanting over one another. Darren was amazed, this was on the second floor of a busy apartment complex. Why had no one called the police about this nonsense yet?
“…hear our pleas in this unworthiest tongue…”
“… Sacred Messenger the Hierophant… The Mask of Wisdom, The Mask of Secrets…”
Of course Darren already knew the answer, the woman that lived below Chad Lunt’s apartment worked a night job, and Darren was leery of calling the police himself.
What if the police weren’t content to speak to him in his doorway? What if they asked him to explain his empty apartment? There was no furniture, no TV, just a crappy Hello Kitty radio he’d gotten from a garage sale and pizza boxes tacked waist high. And what if they found his stash? His baggie full of pills?
“… hear this dream…”
“… The Dark Gods… The Black Pantheon…”
That would be the end of everything then wouldn’t it? The web of social welfare programs and lies he’d hidden himself behind would all come crashing down. They would realize he wasn’t disabled, just fat and addicted, they would realize that it wasn’t that he couldn’t re-enter the workforce it was just that he no longer cared to try.
“… complete the cycle you have begun…”
“…The Ancient Blood… The New Covenant”
Darren had to slowly rock himself until he could get the momentum to push himself up off the bare mattress he used for a bed. The voices echoed around his bare bedroom walls and buzzed in his ears.
He banged his thick fists on the wall, “Keep it down. Keep it down God damn it. People are trying to sleep!”
The voices fragmented, chants becoming guttural syllables and nonsense rhymes. It sounded like a restless theater audience was milling around behind the wall.
No, not behind. It almost seems to move through the walls. Is it louder at the outlets?
“For Christ’s sake!” He banged on the wall again, “Keep it down!”
That tore it. Darren struggled into his cleanest pair of sweatpants and his best fitting t-shirt and stomped out into the hallway. By the time he reached Chad’s door his fingertips and toes were tingling, he didn’t want to think about why.
When Darren pounded on Chad’s door it sounded like gunfire. He paused and banged on the door again.
“For God’s sakes what?” Chad looked half awake and he was wearing a loose bathrobe.
“What the Hell are you doing?” Chad said, “Having some kind of a party in there?”
“I was sleeping.”
“With all that noise?”
“You must have the TV turned all the way up!”
Chad shook his head, “Do you hear a TV?”
“But… you woke me…”
“It’s three in the morning,” Chad explained, “I just got home a few hours ago.”
“Where…” Darren looked up and down the hallway.
What am I doing here? What am I doing?
Chad shook his head, “Good night neighbor.”
The door clicked to a close, Darren stood in the hallway afraid to move, afraid to think. Was he going crazy? He stared down at his body, so swollen and jittery and twisted out of true. Was he really losing touch with reality? From apartment 1668 he could hear a muffled, feminine voice, asking worried questions.
There was a sliver of something familiar about that voice but Darren couldn’t trust his senses anymore.
“What if you could do anything you wanted?”
Sixteen year-old Tristam Bloom is having the worst year of his life. He’s on probation, he’s the laughingstock of the school and his girlfriend wants nothing to do with him. To top it all off he now has to eat lunch with the nerdy kids he spent all of last year tormenting.
“What if no one could stop you?”
But Tristam has a secret; a doorway has opened in his mind allowing him access to unimaginable secrets and impossible worlds. Every night the power grows stronger and soon he finds that he can devour ghosts and turn his adversaries own minds against them.
“What would you do? What wouldn’t you do?”
With a power like his Tristam finds that revenge comes easily but he doesn’t realize that now that just as he’s glimpsed the shadowy world existing alongside our own, the denizens of that world have seen him. Tristam finds himself trapped in the wake of a nightmare that has been waiting thirty-five years for an opportunity to rise. ..
Hope that sounds interesting. Now I am torn between two titles-
THE COLD INSIDE
And I'd like to let you my constant readers pick the title so I have put a poll up in the right hand corner of the blog.
I really would like to hear your opinions.
And meanwhile keep reading and keep circulating the blog!
Bonus points for using Nine Inch Nails music.
Now the thing that kills me is that I am an old school DC Comics fanboy and this is about as close as we have ever gotten to a film like this...
Monday, October 10, 2011
...As detailed in a Sonoma Police Department report, a 53-year-old man who is “visually impaired” called cops in early-May to report a bizarre encounter in his apartment. The man, whose name cops redacted from the report, said that an unknown female entered his home one Sunday afternoon and announced that she, “Needed to give him an enema.”
While the man “thought this to be somewhat strange,” he did not think the enema was “entirely out of the question as he had undergone surgery on his intestines recently and assumed it may have been ordered by his doctor even though he had not been notified.”
The woman guided the man into his bedroom, where she had him lie face down on the bed “with his pants pulled down. The female then gave [the man] what he presumed was an enema and immediately left.” The man told cops that he was “unsure and didn’t want to do it,” but that things “happened so fast he did not have a chance to object.”
He described himself as “befuddled” by the events of May 1...
"I do believe that we're getting very near the very end. We [could not] have known… we’ve learned that there’s a lot of things that we didn’t have quite right and that’s God’s good provision. If he had not kept us from knowing everything that we didn’t know, we would not have been able to be used of Him to bring about the tremendous event that occurred on May 21 of this year, and which probably will be finished out on October 21, that’s coming very shortly. That looks like it will be at this point, it looks like it will be the final end of everything. It also looks like that as God is developing the details for us we are learning from the Bible, God’s details of the end."
"We must believe that probably there will be no pain suffered by anyone because of their rebellion against God. This is very comforting to all of us, because we all have children, and have loved ones that are dear to us that we know are not saved; and yet we know that they'll quietly die. We can be more and more sure that they will quietly die and that will be the end of their story."
"Whereas the true believers will quietly receive the new heaven and the new earth. I really am beginning to think as I restudied these matters that there’s going to be no big display of any kind. The end is going to come very, very quietly probably within the next month. It will happen, that is, by October 21..."
(Insane - and Lovecraftian- News) "Giant prehistoric krakens may have sculpted self-portraits using ichthyosaur bones"
We hypothesize that the shonisaurs were killed and carried to the site by an enormous Triassic cephalopod, a "kraken," with estimated length of approximately 30 m, twice that of the modern Colossal Squid Mesonychoteuthis. In this scenario, shonisaurs were ambushed by a Triassic kraken, drowned, and dumped on a midden like that of a modern octopus. Where vertebrae in the assemblage are disarticulated, disks are arranged in curious linear patterns with almost geometric regularity. Close fitting due to spinal ligament contraction is disproved by the juxtaposition of different-sized vertebrae from different parts of the vertebral column. The proposed Triassic kraken, which could have been the most intelligent invertebrate ever, arranged the vertebral discs in biserial patterns, with individual pieces nesting in a fitted fashion as if they were part of a puzzle. The arranged vertebrae resemble the pattern of sucker discs on a cephalopod tentacle, with each amphicoelous vertebra strongly resembling a coleoid sucker. Thus the tessellated vertebral disc pavement may represent the earliest known self‑portrait....
Sunday, October 9, 2011
Price Breaks And Heartaches
A journal of retail and failed romance
Remaindered, Rejected And Irreconcilable
Hot and cold was how things ran for most of September into October, we fought as much as we made love and I was starting to feel punch drunk. I was walking on eggshells and I couldn’t even ask her what was wrong because that might make her all the madder.
At least my second year of college was going smoothly, I was doing well in any class that didn’t involve math or science. I had my friends, my fun after school activity with the literary magazine and since Kevin, Corey and Marv had all either dropped out or moved on I didn’t have to worry about any public embarrassment.
Of course they didn’t know I was avoiding them, I just kept telling them I was busy but unfortunately most days I was more busy gathering rejection slips than I was spending time with Tallulah. She had gotten an increased class load at college and a new job at a craft store so we only managed to make time for each other on the weekends now.
I was sure this was just a rough patch, a stressful period we would soon find our way out of once we made it to winter vacation. I promised myself to do something special for her at Christmas- maybe we could take a trip or something.
When I talked to my friends at school about it everyone had a different answer.
“Don’t you think,” Ginger, our token returning student, began, “you’re a little too young to be thinking about marriage?”
The four of us were sitting in the cafeteria; we were also sitting as far away from the jukebox as we could. Since we hung out there a lot we had begun to understand that while the human mind might be a powerful and wonderful thing- it could only hear American Pie so many times during the course of the day before insanity set in.
“Well,” I explained, “I'm not thinking of getting married tomorrow or anything but I do want to marry her someday soon.”
Will, my karaoke loving study partner, nodded with understanding, “So it's like an engagement.”
“Yes.” I said.
“Except there's no announcement or engagement ring.” Priscilla, the girl that had banished Will to the 'just friends' zone, said.
“There's a ring.” I said indignantly.
Ginger asked, “A gold ring?”
“Well it's a ring... and it's metal... I'm just not sure what kind... it's kinda green.”
Familiar faces walked by we offered waves and smiles. Last year's literary magazine had been a hit and we were each making plans to find ways to make this year even better. I was working on a novella that would take up roughly half the page count. I was already using the literary magazine credits to puff up my submissions letters. Instead of Dear Editor my name is Al Bruno III a new writer and I hope to interest you in my story of an angry Witch Doctor with the power to make asphalt come to life. I could now say Dear Editor, allow me to introduce myself. I am Al Bruno III, writer, editor and featured contributor for Rhythms Magazine, which is as I said a real magazine and not some college literary rag. I submit for your approval a story about Siamese twin serial killers adjoined at the penis.
“Maybe the two of you have different expectations about the relationship.” As always Ginger was the voice of reason, “You might want to talk it over instead of making wisecracks.”
“I don't make wisecracks.” I frowned, “I make witticisms and damn good ones. Women are supposed to like men that make them laugh.”
Priscilla nodded, “Well I suppose that's true...”
“You know,” Will interrupted, “this reminds me of a joke I once heard...”
“But we want the whole package. We want a guy that's smart-”
“Hey Al did you need more help with that Algebra homework?”
“Did anyone else finish the last story in Dubliners yet? It was so sad.
“-and a certain je ne sais quoi.”
We all turned expectantly to Will.
He just shrugged his shoulders, “I got nothin’.”
It was my birthday before I knew it, my Mom's part of the family had a cake and relatively civil conversation, my Dad brought me to a his favorite restaurant and spared me the usual lecture, my college pals gave me cards and in one case a thesaurus, work begrudgingly gave me the day off so that I could have a night out with my girlfriend and some of my friends.
Kevin K. Hanson's cabal of geeks and goofs were footing the bill and we were at the only Denny's in the Capital District that hadn't blacklisted us.
“You look beautiful.” I said to Tallulah as we sat on the far end of the biggest booth they had to offer.
“Aww you're sweet.” Ida said from the other end of the table, “I think you're a beautiful person too.”
Tallulah said, “He didn't say beautifully demented.”
And let me tell you something, she did look lovely that day with her blouse and skirt and hair pulled back with barrettes. We were getting along again and she had that old look in her eyes, the one I had reveled in all summer.
“You too make such a cute couple.” Joanna said.
I tried not to roll my eyes as I thought to myself that every party had to have a pooper. “Thanks.” I said, looking anywhere else.
“Al's gonna be a regular Moses tonight.” Marv said.
“What is that supposed to mean?”
“What I mean is you're going to be talking to that old burning bush!” Marv thought the joke was hysterical, the girls at the table didn't.
“Don't be a pig.” Joanna blushed.
“No I mean a burning bush. He'll be like- talk to me! Talk to me!”
Alice's hands tightened around the ceramic chemical free water glass she had brought from home, “We get it. It's gotten.”
I leaned over to Ida, “Did you teach him that joke?”
Corey had his head down on the table, his expression miserable, Sarah was trying to get him to cheer up or at least appear less dead. “Come on Honey.” She said, “Let's have some fun tonight huh?”
“I can't.” Corey wouldn't even look up, “I've got problems.”
The waitress came over with our drinks and Kevin almost instantly spilled his. He cursed wildly and headed to the bathroom to dry himself. Marv gave Alice a grin, “You're going to have to get him out of those pants tonight.”
“Whatever.” Alice said.
“You know...” Tallulah whispered in my ear, “...my parents aren't home tonight.”
I grinned in anticipation, “Well I think we better go by and make sure the house is secure.”
“Sounds good to me.”
Kevin came back bearing a handful of gift bags and trailing a bit of toilet paper from his shoe. “Here you go birthday boy!”
“22 years old.” Tallulah announced and everyone clinked soda glasses, “He's an old man now.”
“A whole year of drinking legally.” Kevin said, “How did you like it?”
I decided it was best not to mention the Fresca incident and instead I answered semi-truthfully, “I never did have a drink this year.”
“What?” Joanna boggled, “Not even one.”
“Well I guess I find my girl intoxicating enough.”
Ida gasped, “Must... get... insulin...”