Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Truth

Every story tells one truth and two lies but this story...well, I can’t say because that would be telling and aren’t storytellers always supposed to show? Looks like you’ll be stuck with a, what do they call us, an unreliable narrator. But don’t hold that against me just yet. You may find more truth in this than you’re expecting. It just depends on where you look, doesn’t it?
Call me Bejame. Or Jame. Or BJay. Or PJ even. No, wait. Not PJ. That option belongs to someone else. My full name is extraordinarily long and rightly pretentious and I won’t bog down your puny mind with its full splendor. So pick a nickname and we’ll go with it.
It started with rain. Not my name, of course, but the story, this story. It was raining, drenching the world with lakes of precipitation as if the sky were trying to drown the earth itself. I had never been in this area of the world before, an unexpected stop on my journey with all thanks due to the dismal weather. I was understandably the most miserable creature on the face of the earth.
Because I was out in it, you dolt. My emotions are not so closely tied to something as banal as the weather like they are with you people. I was miserable because I was darn wet. Notice how I make this appropriate for younger audiences. I’m always looking out for the young ones. Yes, yes, I know. The story. Get to it. You people are always so impatient. Good stories are like good groomings. They are long and cover everything. So that’s enough imaginary interjections from you. I was miserable.
And I was wet and yes, rather resembled a drowned rat. Though I’m sure I still looked a sight better than you on your best days. I had taken shelter from the downpour in the only place available: the hollow between roots of a not very large tree. No, I don’t know what kind, I wasn’t paying attention. Let’s make it an oak. Every story makes the tree an oak. And there I was. Under the roots of an oak tree, not any drier from it, but trying anyway and after a while had snuggled down deep enough into the nook that I was possibly not getting wetter. Exempting the occasional fat drip onto my head. However, after a very tight and squished quasi-bath, I was feeling warmer and less drowned rat-ish, though I won’t go so far as to say dry. I don’t think I’ve been dry since. Not warm in any case. No, not warm.
It was night when the rain lessened somewhat, coming down more like small ponds than lakes, and I perceived a sound through the roar that I hadn’t heard before, and before you start harping, you wouldn’t have heard at all, so there. Someone was crying. Someone little.
Despite the wisdom of staying where I was—it was wet—someone little was crying. It is my sacred duty to attend to all crying little things. Now, yes, that does sometimes entail dinner, but I have to eat, same as you, do I not? And this was a different case entirely. I slunk out into the torrent as low to the ground as I could go until I came to a metal park bench. Curled into a tiny ball underneath it was a child. It couldn’t have been more than three years old.
You people. You don’t take care of your kits.
It turns out I wasn’t the most miserable thing on the earth: this dear thing was. I nuzzled my way down next to the poor crying thing, snuggling under its arm to come up near its head. It was just as wet as I was, and squealed when I first touched it, but upon seeing me, its eyes widened into water-swollen circles. This close to it, I was able to discern that the child was a little tom.
“K-kitty?” the kit whimpered. The question mark was understandable. I didn’t look like much in my current state, but neither would you. It was darned wet.
“Hello, little kit,” I said.
“My name, is, is, Merwy,” the child corrected through his tears.
“Of course, it is. My mistake. My name is Bartemejin-Jegraine.”
“Barty…Barty Rain?”
“Close. Just call me…BJay.”
I sighed. “It’ll do. Though, do try to emphasis the ‘J’ at least. Why are you out in the rain, kit?”
“Merwy.” The child wasn’t crying anymore, but he was shivering. I didn’t know where to put him, obviously or I’d have been there instead of under a tree, but I had to get him somewhere. This was no place or weather for a kit.
“Merry,” I conceded. “Why don’t you follow me, Merry? We’ll get you somewhere dry?”
The boy thought it over I suppose, not that I really think three year olds are capable of complicated thoughts. Though if there was an exception, I suppose it would have been Merry. He made up his mind after a bit and followed me out from under the bench. As luck, or fortune, or destiny, or my starry ancestors, or what have you, would have it, there was a shelter. Not sixty yards away from my miserable tree.
I’m taking narrator liberties here and skipping the trip to the boathouse on the edge of the pond. I’m also skipping the search for an opening Merry could fit through, saving him from nearly falling into the lake, and the precarious business of getting a three year old into an unused rowboat (not in the water before you even think of raising objections, so shush. I didn’t see you out in the rain in the middle of night looking after the kit. So just, just…shh. No comments from you ridiculously irresponsible and terrible people. I may not be a queen, but I at least know how to take care of kits). In the end, we were both there, nestled down in the old boat on top of an old tarp, another one stretched over the edges of the boat to make a sort of cave. I made sure Merry wrapped himself in the first tarp then gave myself a quick grooming, drying myself best I could before burrowing into the child’s arms right against his chest. I groomed his hair a little bit so he’d start drying, then just settled down and purred the poor thing to sleep. He shivered until the darkest part of the night, the coldest part of the night. And then he stopped.
I could tell you all sorts of things that happened next, unbelievable but true and plausible but lies, but I think I’ll leave us, Merry and I, there, in the boathouse where we were found the next day. I’ll leave us in our cold, wet tranquility before the newspapers and stories and anguish and all you foolish people, because I like it there better. What do you need an ending for anyway? You always make one whether someone else wants it or no. How much of this story is a lie? None as far as I’m concerned. No newspaper could tell the story properly anyway. They can’t even imagine how…the grief….the guilt…But it wasn’t my fault. I did more than any of you. I at least tried. And if you say you read the article, or heard it differently, well, you’re a liar. You weren’t there. I was. Say otherwise, and you’ll have a very angry person with a very long name after you ready to claw your eyes out. And that is truth.

[Actually, a disclaimer, now that it's done. This has a different name but I can't remember it for the life of me, so now it has two names. Did you really need to know that? No, but now I'm in the habit of leaving you people notes, so that's your fun behind-the-scenes fact for the day. I know. Amazing right? How did you ever get by without knowing that before? Tune in next time for more Fun Relatively Speaking in a Matter of Perspective Facts by E. Farris. -E. Farris (Though, in retrospect, I wonder why I bother signing them off. Who else is going to leave notes?)]

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The End Part Two

As promised. -E. Farris

Lewis jerked in surprise. It was a skeleton. A skeleton! But no, no, it couldn't be. It had eyeballs for one, and eyebrows for another. But the man’s face was very gaunt, the skin pallid, nearly white and tight against his skull. His eyes were sunk deep into his head and the rest of his features were as minimal as possible.
"I want to make a deal with you," Lewis said, ashamed to find his voice high and trembling. The head drew back a bit and a barely existing eyebrow went up.
"Do you now?"
"Yes," Lewis said, his voice steadier. "I want to make a deal with you."
"What kind of deal?"
"I want my life back."
"I can't do those sort of deals."
"Yes, you can. You’re the Grim Reaper."
The Reaper narrowed his eyes. "Am I now?"
"Of course you are. That's why you're here. You're reaping people's souls."
"Reaped actually. Clever kid, aren't you?"
Lewis tilted his chin up. "I'm a genius, actually."
"Of course you are," the Reaper said with a snort.
"I am. That's why I know you can give my life back."
The man set his arms on the edge of the seat. "Hate to burst your bubble, kid, but I'm just the collector. You want your life, take it up with my boss."
"I'll take it up with you. A game. You win, you take my soul. I win, I get my life and your servitude."
The Grim Reaper reeled back. "Excuse me, what? Why do you get my service and your soul?"
"Correction: Life,” Lewis said. “I do not want my soul. Only my life. If you want, you may take my soul anyway."
The Reaper scowled. "Your life and soul are like…marriage.'Til death do they part. You want to live, you need a soul."
Lewis heaved an impatient sigh. "Very well. I'll take my soul. It can be a game of chance. Your pick, if you like."
The sunken eyes in the skeletal face narrowed to slits. "But why do you want my service?"
Lewis stared back steadily. "It evens the field. If you win, you take everything I have, the most I can offer."
"I don't get to keep it,” the Reaper protested, then added, “Wouldn’t want it anyway."
"If you lose, you're only giving me what I already had,” Lewis explained patiently. He was used to dullard adults. “So I want a prize. Ten years."
"I've already got a job, kid,” the Reaper said, straightening up.
"You act like ten years is a lot of time," Lewis said.
"It is when you're aging,” the man said, walking away.
"Which you're not."
The Reaper stopped, then slowly turned around. "Not at the moment, no."
"Then why does it matter?"
"I'm too busy to babysit and I can't give you back your li—" He stopped suddenly as if he'd heard something and then cursed under his breath. "Fine. I'll play your stupid game. Come on. Up."
A gloved hand grabbed Lewis' and hauled him up through the seat and the bar. Lewis stood stiffly, unable to move.
"Wow. You are really dead," the Reaper remarked, circling Lewis. "Spine's snapped, leg's shot. Lovely hole through the chest too. Hey, you can see right through there."
"Isn't this my soul? Why would it be injured?"
"You are still connected to your body. You haven't been properly collected and disconnected. Pardon the rhyme."
"So when I get my life back…?"
"You'll die. Now shush, let me work."
Grim moved around Lewis, poking this, prodding that, clucking reproachfully all the time. Finally he came around to the front and cracked his knuckles thoroughly. Then he reached out, and swiftly snapped Lewis' neck. The boy collapsed and the Reaper flipped him on his back and began tugging on the two ends of his spine. There was a sudden jolt and then hands were laid on one side of Lewis' face and one of the opposite side of his neck.  The hands moved towards each other and with a pop, his spine realigned. A warm, peaceful feeling moved through Lewis' body.
"Show off," the Reaper muttered.
"Peace, Grimwald," answered what sounded like the man called Gabe. "There. He will survive."
"If he wins. What are you smiling about?"
"You'll see."
The warmth left and Lewis was pulled to his feet. There was no one there but the Grim Reaper.
"Who was here?"
"Who else?"
"Now your game. Shall we decide the stipulations of the contract before we start?"
Lewis shook his head forcefully. "You snapped my neck!"
The Reaper shrugged. "It was necessary."
"How do I know you won't do it again?" Lewis demanded.
The Reaper grinned and it was frightening. "You don't,” he said. “Now, the terms."
Lewis stared at him for a moment before moving on with slightly more caution. "Upon my victory, you will relinquish to me my soul and life and…aren't you going to write this down? I don’t need you changing things afterward."
"Mm. Quite the lawyer.” The Grim Reaper reached into his frock coat and removed two grains of rice and a piece of paper. Then as an afterthought, he withdrew a pen. He waved his hand and two grotesque demons appeared with a table and two chairs. Grim nodded to them and they left. "Perks of the job. Ready?"
He sat down and gestured to Lewis who then sat across from him. The Reaper began to write, narrating as he did so.
"’This is a contract between one Jason…Aaron Grimwald, Grim Reaper, and one’…what is your name?"
"You have a name?”
“I asked about yours.”
“Lewis Carmichael Rare…the Second."
Grim paused slightly, then continued. "’One Lewis Carmichael Rare II. The contract is for the results of a game of Six.’"
"You said I could pick. I picked."
"I've never heard of it."
"You'll catch on fast. ‘For a game of Six’…Ah! ‘In the event of a Rare win, Grimwald would grant Rare's life and soul to him, Lewis Rare. Rare would also be…granted ten years of servitude from Grimwald.’"
"’In which Grimwald would obey all commands given by Rare.’"
"’That do not interfere with Grimwald's prior contract.’"
The two stared at each other for a moment, and then Grim wrote it down. "’That being stated, Grimwald's first contract overrides anything of the second contract given that they interfere with one another.’"
"Fair enough,” Lewis said. “Who do you work for?"
Grim ignored the question. "’In the event of a Grimwald win, Rare would be ushered on to the next life and release any and all claims on the living world.’"
"I agree."
"Sign and date," Grimwald said, turning the paper and pen over to Lewis.
"No blood?" Lewis replied with a small smile.
The Reaper’s face darkened. "That's not me."
"Who is it then?"
"Just sign the blasted paper."
“Damned paper, wouldn’t it be?” Lewis suggested lightly.
Grimwald’s expression only darkened and Lewis sighed before signing. He handed it back to Grimwald who did the same. Then the Reaper placed the two grains of rice in the center of the paper, bunched it up and set it on fire.
"Why did you do that?" Lewis demanded.
"Sealing it." Grimwald reached forward into the fire and retrieved two thin metal chains. He handed one to Lewis who took it cautiously. Dangling from the end was a tiny glass bead enveloping a single grain of rice.
"Congratulations, Lewis. You have officially signed away your soul."
"This is the contract, then."
"Etched into the rice,” Grimwald said, nodding. “We each have one. Mind you, if you win and then die, this is null and void."
"But I won't."
"Not this time. But if you die at anytime during the next ten years…And human life is so fragile."
"When's your first contract up?" Lewis asked.
The Reaper’s lips tightened into a thin line. "Six years."
Grimwald draped the necklace over his neck and pulled out a deck of cards. "Ready?"
Lewis placed the chain over his own neck and folded his hands in front of him. "Oh yes. Do your worst, Reaper."
The Grim Reaper smiled.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Oh. Heh. My bad.

I am so sorry. I forgot about Grimwald. I forgot I promised you the other half of that. I'm a terrible person. Tomorrow, I swear, I will put up the second half of that one. Gah-ly I'm terrible. Sorry. -E. Farris

How the Moon Killed Pickles

Though this may sound like an autobiography, I swear no such event actually occurred in reality. Though to be completely honest, I guess that isn't exactly a necessary requirement. -E. Farris

I guess you could say it all started with a full moon and a jar of pickles. Some think that’s when it ended, but no. That would be false. The moon has always been a source of, oh, let’s say interest (but if we’re being honest, which we’re not, obsession would be closer) with me. Full, quarter, gibbous, new, crescent, waxing waning, all of it, any of it. I love the moon. When it’s out, I walk with my nose in the air, staring at it like a silly kitten spotting a butterfly. This activity, as you might imagine, is rather perilous when crossing uneven ground. Or if there are objects on the ground, like, oh, I don’t know, pebbles, sidewalks, sticks, cats, pickle jars.
            So it was, I was staring at the moon (full, of course) and attempting to walk, when I tripped over this jar of pickles. And by tripped I mean flew six feet in the air and fell full out on my face. Lovely experience, I fully endorse it.
Now like any normal person, I wanted to know what had caused my sudden embrace of the ground and once I had up and down properly situated again, investigated. And I found a pickle jar, gleaming and scintillating in the moonlight like a frosted over science experiment gone weird. I crawled closer to it, examining the former cucumbers bobbing in the greenish juice of the disturbed jar, noting the little white moon bouncing on the waves of pickle juice like a skiff in on the sea. But my collision with the glass jar had cracked it, and juice was easing out, spreading across the sidewalk like a time-elapse. The moon slid out with the liquid and oozed over the sidewalk until it lost its shape and dissolved into wet light. I looked at the pickles still trapped in their glass prison like mermaids trapped on dry land, awkward and helpless.
That was the moment. That there was the moment I subconsciously found my muse. I found my calling. I would write gothic horror.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The End Part One

I don't like overwhelming you lot with four page posts so I'm breaking this one up into two. Possibly four because I might add the next bit if I'm pressed. I wrote this eons ago, so I'd like to apologize, but I just can't. I like it. So, sorry, but not really.  Enjoy your day. Happy birthday if it's yours. Happy half-birthday if it applies. And happy unbirthday to the rest of you! See? It's some form of your birthday today which just gives you a good excuse to go eat cake. Or maybe Cheeze-Its? Or pie. I'm told pie is end-all be-all. Perhaps ice cream. Just treat yourself. And if someone asks why, you can tell them a voice on the internet told you to. Ta for now! -E. Farris

They all declared it a miracle. How that young boy survived that awful train wreck is a mystery, but survive it he did. Somehow, despite the metal rod that had been punched through his chest, snapping his spine, and the seat crushing his leg like paper, young Lewis Rare survived. A miracle. An act of God. Or maybe...a deal with the devil.

There was a terrible jolt as the train buckled and jumped, metal screeching as it scraped against the other train, both jerking off the tracks, iron sides grinding and shrieking. Lewis was standing before the immediate impact, in the process of moving away from his father. After the initial crash, he was pressed against the wall, which he was sure had once been the floor, the seat having crumpled and ripped his leg nearly off. There was a neat silence in which Lewis waited in the dark, listening to the cries and screams and feeling rather ashamed that some of them were his own.
The trains groaned and stopped at last. The lights flickered on briefly and then the engine cars exploded, both of them. The blast sent a thin metal rod straight through the wall of the train and into the back of Lewis' chest. The force that sent the death item flying was so strong that the rod rammed through the boy's spine, shattering it like a thin door before a battering ram, and proceeded to stuff its way out the front. Needless to say, Lewis died instantly.
He became aware of his death a little while later. The lights had come back on and someone was noisily picking their way through the car. Lew could hear the someone muttering nonsense to himself as he strolled through the carnage.
"Not mine, not mine, not mine. Gluttony, this is a holy car. Rather empty too."
Lewis tried to see the man, but couldn't so much as move. The blasted seat was still on top of him, not to mention the rod through his chest. The mumblings continued.
"Hello. You are mine. Envious fellow, weren't you? And an unholy brute too. I hate to make two trips. Wait a moment, won't you?"
The mysterious man strolled on and stopped before an old woman sitting against the liquor cabinet. Lewis could see the old woman quite clearly, but only the neatly creased pants of the stranger. They were very fine pants, Italian, Lewis thought.
"Oh Lord," the old woman said, reaching out a shaking hand spattered in blood to stop the fellow.
"No. I'm not Him." He leaned forward, obscuring the woman but revealing a ostentatiously tall top hat with a short spurt of yellow squirting out underneath it that might have been hay but was probably hair. "And you are not mine," he continued, straightening up. "Gabe's late, I see. Rather unlike him. He usually arrives much sooner than I do. Never knew why. It's not like you people are going anywhere. Wonder what's keeping him."
The stranger patter her on the head, stepped out of view and then the noise of his progress ceased.
"This is almost justice. I must confess that I might actually take pleasure in this. Seeing as it's you and all."
"Don't trouble yourself. I know the way," another man answered who Lewis thought sounded like his father.
"I'm not surprised," the first man continued. "Care to save me a trip? Take that fellow over there?"
"I'm not going to help you." It was his father, Lewis realized. He knew that tone.
"Oh well. Seems that's all in this car. Let's go."
"Are you sure that’s all?"
"Of course, I’m sure."
"If you think so. Now. Open the Path."
"Still commanding, even in death."
"Open it now and I might take your friend with me."
The light was briefly sucked out of the compartment and then suddenly replaced by a blaze of fire. Lewis couldn't help but wonder if there had been another explosion, but his mind quickly dismissed the idea.
"Safe journey!" the mysterious man called. Lewis' father barked something back in reply and then the fire was instantly snuffed out. A moment later the lights returned. Then after that Lewis could see nothing but a brilliant, blinding white light that burned like radiation.
"Tone it down, Gabe. Wrath, it's bright. Are you trying to scare them?" the top hatted man said.
"You are still here?" replied a sonorous, beautiful voice.
"Yeah. Finishing up. This, I'm proud to say, is my last car."
The light dimmed enough for Lewis to see the outline of a tall man with…wings? He was surrounded by about five other people and standing aside from the group, was the man in the hat.
"You missed one, Grimwald."
"You can't take him? Isn't he too young?"
"Ask the King for mercy, on his behalf."
"That's probably not a good idea. Lucy would throw a fit."
"The King is infinitely more powerful than…Lucy."
"Yeah. But I'm not."
"Then I will ask. Because my King is very fond of him. But the—"
"Lucy was very strong in his father and stronger still in their house. If it is not my King's will…but let us pray it is."
"You pray. I'd better not."
"Yes. Until next time, Grimwald."
The light blazed up again and then was replaced by the electric light of the train car. The man in black approached and a skeleton leaned over the seat. "Evening."