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The House of Dead
I've been writing short stories for twenty years. After having written the first half dozen I noticed a character, always in the background, influencing the others. Once noticed, he began to work his way to the front, occasionnally passing a quip with a major player, but only rarely. This year he finally decided to break free, so George Standard's tale be told. (at least the beginning)
seeds sown in a cast of fear
holding you close holding you near
cascading fate emotions yield
yesterday’s hope is tomorrow’s fate
as I sit
the love I hate
The words drifted far above him. It seemed as if the clouds were, rather than raining, falling to pieces. The landscape around him seemed surreal, a blur of blending colours sorting themselves into random shapes. The sun was a bright green haze in the sky as the moon looked down upon him and laughed (he had just met a new love; the one he had asked for the very night he had met her. She blended into those who had been as well as those who were to come). Consciousness began to swirl, like toilet water, into his body. Feeling disoriented, he winked his eyes open.
George Standard opened his eyes to the world. The pieces of himself fell into place as the clouds had just been doing in his subconscious. Time was a disease only he had the remedy for. If he wished, he could walk through that very door he saw past the foot of the bed (a thick looking oaken affair stained too darkly) into the world of the dinosaur. Or the final fate of man. He paused for the briefest second to wonder if he should feel guilt over the price of his own immortality being the survival of the species which had spawned him. Naw, he shook his head and went to make an espresso. He’d picked that item up from the early 21st century. Such an item of perfection in how it compressed the oils from each individual bean. Pure manna.
To think though, he may actually bring the species, through himself, to a higher state of being, one that could coexist with the mother, earth. If he succeeded…George Standard threw such thoughts aside, sipping at the thick blackness tainted sweet and sour with three teaspoons of sugar and lemon rind. He must follow his instincts. He was fully aware of the ancestors who led him, the dead patiently driving him toward their shared goal. He walked to the bathroom to run cold water over his face. He’d joined a pact with the dead who had first contacted him through his own ancestors. The more he learned…
simple sorts of colour ripped cross the wall
feeling spent so long, of being small
all the words and whispers
snickers of delight
what’s that noise down the hall
just another fight
broke out over nothing
a simple sort of fate
George looked around the room, or actually through the room to his next victim. Another mission to pass as he was guided through the maze the dead had said the creator had walked through; a path wide and green. Tomorrow opened before his eyes.
the words they drift so softly
rising on the breeze
all the things you said to me
the heart opens and bleeds
all starry skies leap forth as if denied
life thought perfect within the tide
the white wilted black
crimson night sack
so old the stories of then
I turn my back on what’s been
beyond the doors of perception
I drift on the breeze
and the dreams I’m living
The world glittered purest white for but a moment. The colour then seemed to fold in upon itself before it broke into a million coloured pieces. ‘Reality,’ Standard scoffed to himself. Strictly the stuff of perspective and defined meaning. Looking around he found the scarlet target up ahead, not too distant. He took the time to look around him. There was a hedge up ahead, about chest high. George stood exactly six feet tall, making the hedge around four and a half feet high. The hedge encircled a red brick three story building. Past the building lay a suburb. A couple hundred single story homes spread out behind the building before him. In one of these houses lay his target, dwelling as it did in seeming tranquility, at least until he arrived on the doorstep. Smiling gently to himself at this knowledge, he decided to take his time. George looked around for a vehicle. Conveniently enough a parking lot surrounded the building and though the hour was late several cars remained in the lot. He chose the fastest of the cars.
He arrived in minutes.
Janet closed the door. Having just gotten home with hands full of groceries
a little past time
we see lessons presented
sorted moments tossed
on a chalkboard written
fragile pieces of self
left out of reach
little reminders of the time
when you were mine
slid along round the everlasting dream
life as roses, drawn to be seen
wilting as the ebb and the flow
all we ever taught to know
the insect’s wings so fragile in the light
seeking that it would own
a little more sight
drifting and swaying as petals in the breeze
in this, with passion, seize
she barely made it to the kitchen counter before the tightness in her wrists and elbows made her drop the bags. Flexing her wrists and stretching her arms for a moment before she began to unload the groceries, Janet’s heart leapt as she heard a noise from the bathroom. A man had cleared his throat, she was sure of it. Then, as all the hairs had begun to stand out on her neck, the voice (a deep baritone) began reciting poetry.
This world is but a fragment
of all you will know
as the wine’s ferment
and the winds blow
your heart shall cease
as his bleeds
Janet reached for the phone and quickly punched 911 as she knelt on the kitchen floor. She whispered a silent prayer for herself as she listened to the phone ring, ring, ring, ring, and ring. The voice from the bathroom went on with its demented verse. Just as the phone was answered, it stopped.
Janet’s whole being went into a rapid intake of air.
“911 emergency services. Your location.”
Janet leaned on one hand against the side of the cupboards she’d painted a pale green. She grasped the phone. “3681 Lilac Drive. There’s a man in my house.” Feeling lame, she added, “He’s reciting poetry.”
The voice on the other end of the phone, previously high pitched, almost electronic, dropped in tone, “and here I thought you were in the kitchen, Janet”
She dropped the phone as if it had come alive. A man walked into the room, still talking into a cellular phone. “Isn’t technology the most wonderful thing. This little game would never have worked if you had been using a corded phone. “ The man went down on one knee in front of Janet.
(‘I have to say no if he proposes to me,’ some inane part of Janet’s brain giggled.)
Her brain finally sent message of adrenaline flowing through her blood and one of her arms shot out, as if of its own volition, to shove the man over. He shifted his weight to the other foot and threw her face first onto the floor.
Janet felt the blood gush from her nose, a loose glue gently suctioning her to the floor.
The man squatted on the floor next to her, all of his motions fluid and relaxed, as if he had all the time in the world. “Damn, I so wanted this to be neat. I hate to clean up someone else’s mess. Ah well, accidents will happen.”
Janet suddenly spun around and flailed out at him (images of making snow angels as a child went cascading through her mind), her arms passing through empty air as the man danced back.
“You know, it used to be perfectly acceptable to make a human sacrifice to forces, nay, I should say powers greater than ourselves. Funny, isn’t it, how though times may change people do not.”
Feeling powerless to do otherwise, Janet considered his statement as the man rolled her over onto her back to duct tape her hands together. Following his logic it didn’t seem strange at all for a knife to suddenly grow from his fingers.
He went on. “You see, no matter the size of any congregation, group of followers of any philosophy or religion, there is and will always be a group larger, stronger, and yes, infinitely stranger. The dead.” Here he pierced her with bright green eyes, seemingly filled with love (maybe it was just passion). “They want you in their ranks, Janet. They need your strength,” and with the final word he deftly took the blade around her neck, adding a lipless mouth to previously unblemished skin.
This is the story. It starts out like so many others: a life inserted into this world of so many others, each feeling their own joy, their own pain. The door opens. A world seems to stretch from horizon to...