Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Drugstore Witchcraft


Agnes shook her head and held the folded newspaper in the air over her shoulder.

"Gillian!" she bellowed. "Come have a look at this!"

Gillian sighed, turned off the water at the kitchen sink, and wiped her hands on her skirt. "What?" she asked, taking the paper from Agnes.

"Look at it."

The Times was folded open to a story about a young woman found dead in her apartment. Twenty-three years old and no explanations. Her landlord found her in her bathtub, with the showerhead still running.

"That's terrible," said Gillian. "Do you know this girl?"

"No. Look at the photo."

The photo showed Kaycee Hargrave - the friendly face of the local police - and the building's owner standing in the bathroom, pristine tiles and sunny window in the background. At least they'd been tasteful enough to remove the body.

"I'm not sure what you're wanting me to see here."

Exasperated, Agnes huffed and pried her massive frame from her chair. She grabbed the paper from Gillian and pointed at the shampoo bottles barely visible in the grainy photo.

"You see?!?"

"Shampoo. So what?"

"Suave fresh scent shampoo. John Frieda Stay Red. Do you realize all the herbs and extracts they've got in shampoos nowadays? I can't even get bloodroot in Mexico anymore. But Suave? Oh, they've got it, no problem. These seculars have no idea the fire they're playing with. In this girl's shower alone, you'll have bloodroot, watermint, ginger, even tobacco. She cast a death spell on herself while washing her hair!"

They were both uncharacteristically quiet for a moment.

"Shampoo..." Gillian said thoughtfully.

Agnes cackled and wedged herself back into her chair.

"My girl, we are back in business!"


Thursday, January 25, 2007


A note on a work in progress

Just a short note, to let you know why I haven't posted anything in several days.

P and I have a little something up our sleeves. We're taking the characters and stories that are posted on this blog and using them to create something much bigger.

We plan to create a series of comic books (or graphic novels, if you prefer) that weave all of these characters into a bigger chain of events. And for those of you who read the first two installments of Phone Book of Revelations, that story will be continued. In fact, that story may be the most important one all the other characters find themselves caught up in.

So, that's where most of my creative energy is focused right now. Filling in story gaps, working on a script, fearing the daunting task of storyboarding, and then finding us an artist. Maybe even a publisher somewhere down the road, if we can execute our concept well enough.

In the meantime I'll try to post other little shorts, related or not, and maybe some of my old poetry. Or maybe not the poetry. (You're welcome.)

If any of you have experience with this sort of thing (layout, pitching to publishers, or anything else), I'd love to hear your thoughts. Oh, and we could use help with name suggestions, too. Both for the series and our "company." I've been thinking about BOOK as the title of the series.

With fingers crossed (when they're not at the keyboard),


Phone Book of Revelations

In Progress


I met Catarine and Eric while I was doing research for a novel. A novel I still haven't finished, seeing as how I have a much more interesting assignment now.

I wanted to place my characters in a "bad neighborhood," but I was just a dumb white kid; what did I know about anything? And being a dumb white kid, I figured the best way to learn was to spend some time in a bad neighborhood. At a bad school, specifically, volunteering for sports programs in the afternoons. Micah was my stroke of luck.

The ten-year-old caught my attention because he didn't just want to play basketball or make friends or have a place to be until his parents got home in the evening. He knew he was going to grow up to cure cancer. Period. No doubt in his mind. He told me it was "in the book."

"What book?" I asked him.

"The phone book." Micah was so matter-of-fact, he made me feel stupid for not understanding what he meant.

But regardless of any weird book nonsense, Micah was the type of American Dream character that begged to have his story written. A young black boy in a poor neighborhood with a bright future. Micah, I decided, was my case study.

The next afternoon, Micah relayed a dinner invitation from his parents. And so on Friday, I walked home with him after intramurals. My mind had taken two different directions at that point. Part of me was a friend, a teacher; part of me cared the way people should care. The other half of me was writing my novel, narrating our journey through the streets. I made note of the grey sky, the mist in the air that wasn't quite rain, the abundance of concrete. Everything was grey and concrete. An environment designed to stifle. It could have been an abandoned city. We were the only pedestrians, the only people in the world.

My silence must have made him uncomfortable, because he moved a few paces ahead of me. Following him felt almost like a game - he skipped a little when he rounded a corner, he ducked under the rail as he began moving up stairs, he moved like an athlete.

He came to the second level of a quad and opened the screen door without a word. There were three other older children inside, their hands joined as if playing Red Rover. And then Catarine appeared at the door.

"Come in!" She was slender, pretty, and mischievous-looking. She stretched out a long arm and held the door open for me.

"Thank you, Ms. Carter. It's nice to meet you." Her husband Eric was white - in fact, he looked like John Cleese. And had that same mischievous look to him as Caterine.

All seven of us gathered around the living room with salads and cokes and full plates until we'd stuffed ourselves, and as the food settled, Catarine hefted the largest book I'd ever seen from the coat closet. It took the full width of her forearms to hold it, and the thickness of it covered most of her chest.

"Tanya," Catarine said, "we've asked you here because you're going to write about the phone book."


It's kind of a relief to know everyone has ulterior motives, I thought, since I had indeed come here for a story. I waited for her explanation, while Catarine waited for me to tell her she was crazy.

"Prophecy," she began, "tends to deal with events. We feel alone and insignificant in the face of the inevitable..."

But every event has a person tied to it. A living, breathing human who, in some way, alters the course of history. Not realizing this, most of us fall down on the job. We're not aware of how much we matter.

The phone book is different. You look up the person, and only then do you see events. There are millions of shifting entries. Billions of names have appeared. Everyone's number is here, when it's up.

I've got one of six volumes. And I've got an entry. It calls me "the guide." My job is to help the rest stay on their paths.

You have an entry, too, Tanya. Here - look.


Friday, January 19, 2007



Sunday afternoon. Rainy and peaceful and beautiful. Tara and I were lying on my bed passing a joint back and forth. We're silent, enjoying the sleep-like quality of the day, until she says:

"I can see the future. Wanna try?"

Goofy fuck, I think. Tara's been my best friend since 3rd grade. Sometimes I think we don't have much in common anymore. She's into peasant skirts and power crystals and tofu. Me... not so much. But my life wouldn't be the same without her. She brings some magic (and marijuana) to my practicality. We indulge each other.

"Sure, Tara. How can I see the future?"

"Remember when you were a kid, and you'd press your hands against your eyes to see stars?"


"Start there."

I closed my eyes and lightly pushed my palms against my lids.

"What do you see?"

"Corneal damage."

"You're no fun, Ashley. For real. Tell me what you see."

I sighed. "I see stars. I see swirls and galaxies and bursts of light. It's like I'm moving through space."

"Good. Now, keep your eyes closed."

She cupped my chin with her hand. I thought for a minute that she was going to kiss me, and I held my breath. Then she touched a fingertip to my forehead, and the stars came into focus.

A single galaxy zoomed in from my right. Its arms spun slowly, leaking light into the corners of my eyes. I fell into its pink clouds. I focused on one point of light until it expanded into a disc, then a great globe with a host of circling rocks, almost filling my vision. I watched the planet's meticulous spin, counting off time, speeding it up and slowing it down, but always moving forward, always to the future, always in one direction around a far away star.

I moved on, further in, to the smaller worlds. The black was so absolute, I could only aim my gaze at the sun in the center. Finally a blue speck appeared, grew, a tiny jewel expanding like a salt crystal - it overtook me until I was in that blue world.

Where I looked for ocean, I saw ice. Flat ice from horizon to horizon, and me getting closer and closer to the ground. I put out my hands to catch myself, and the world dissolved. I smelled the sweet smoke around me and heard the rain on the roof.

"What happened?" I asked.

"You took the pressure off your eyelids."

"They hurt."

"It will go away in a minute. So?"

I told Tara about what I'd seen.I felt like I'd let her down, forgetting myself and ending the vision too quickly. And she seemed genuinely disappointed.

"I'm sorry."

"Oh, no," she said. "You didn't do anything wrong. I think maybe you were in the wrong galaxy. That happens sometimes. But you lose a bit of the impressiveness of it when you don't get to peek down on humanity."

"It was beautiful."

"Yeah." She handed the joint to me.

"I think I'm good. Thanks."

I closed my eyes and tried to retrace my flight, as though I knew enough about the universe to determine where I'd been. But surely that was Jupiter I'd seen?



"You don't think that was Earth?"

"Well, I hope not. Don't you?"

"I guess so."

"Even if it is, it doesn't really matter. How much time did you count off?"

"It didn't seem like that much."

She stretched and picked herself up off the bed. "I'm hungry. Italian?"

"Mexican. And margaritas."

"Yeah. Let's have a toast."

And she smiled the most beautiful smile in the world. She is my starry-eyed love, until the end of the universe.


Monday, January 15, 2007

Lady in the Corner

Originally posted on 11/24/06

1 - The next table

She sits at her table every Wednesday, has a vegetarian sandwich, and orders coffee for the empty chair across from her. She doesn't seem dangerous, so we don't mind her. She brings character to the cafe. Every cafe needs a crazy lady.

2 - Monica

The waiter here is nuts. Harmless, but nuts. The first time I came here, I ordered the avocado club and a sweet tea. He graciously took my order and turned to the empty chair across from me.

"And for you?"

I was sure I misunderstood. "There's no one meeting me today."

He looked confused. Turned to me. "What about your friend? Won't he be eating?"

Finally I said, "He'll just have coffee."

It's funny. I always figured when I ended up in this kind of situation, I'd be in the waiter's position.

3 - Caleb

Why can't they see me?


Sunday, January 14, 2007

True Stories

I discovered a very cool site on blogspot - Aura's Encounters with the Unexplained. I sent her the story about the weird ball of light my family encountered in the desert one summer, and it's up on her site right now. Go have a look, and let me know what you think it might have been. Other cool sites I've found in the same vein: Andrea's Ghost Stories and Rand's My Paranormal Life.

In other news, my story "The Loan" has been published in Corrosive, a small zine from Wisconsin. Dorothy should be sending both the December and January issues any day now. Maybe I'll scan and post a little of that then. I'm also looking to get some other items published, so once again, if there are any recommendations for sci-fi and dark literary zines for me, please let me know. You can email me if you don't want to leave a comment.


Friday, January 12, 2007


Originally posted on 11/19/06

At first, I didn't hear them. I was just pointing out the errant balloons in the parking lot.

Yesterday, a child in his father's arms let go of his red balloon. I could hear a friend of mine, a mother's words in my head. How do you explain that you can't get the balloon back? Kids that age just don't understand things like gravity and helium and gone.

The balloon went up and up and up. I watched it while I smoked a cigarette. By the time I went in, it looked like Mars. Impossibly far away, a red reflection of sunlight. We won't see it again until it pops in the stratosphere and rains down in red rubbery shards.

It was just an isolated moment.

But today, more balloons. A pink one hop-scotching across car tops. A blue one over the construction cranes at the other end of the shopping center. But there was no grand opening, no barbecue, no birthday party. Just these mysterious balloons.

Then I heard the screaming children. Not painful screams, just children screams, laughter and noise and shouting. But like the balloons, it's still coming from nowhere. There aren't any kids here.

A few days from now, we'll pick up the Times. We'll read about what they dug up while building the new Wal-Mart. And we'll hope they don't have balloons at their grand opening. Because that would just be inappropriate.


Thursday, January 11, 2007


Originally posted on 9/21-23/06
I'm rewriting this one under the title "Barren" in hopes of publication. If any of you have suggestions for sci-fi or fiction mags and zines, please let me know. -C

A Barren Place (Breathe In)

"It's very important that you place rubble around the base of the plants," the man explained. "The leaves don't like to touch the soil itself. And can you blame them? These are very special plants, the only ones I can get to survive in the wasteland. They're smart enough to use as little of the soil as possible."

"What do you call them?" I asked.

"They're the only plants here. I just call them The Plants."

I crossed my arms and tried to silence my belly. I'd been hungry for years. The Earth was sick and couldn't care for us. "How much do you sell these for?"

"Well, certainly not cash! Legal tender, my ass. There's no legal anything anymore. What do you have to trade?"

"I have buttons and needles," I answered meekly. "And an extra canteen."

"Needles. What fabric is left to mend?"

At which point he glanced up at the dark red sky. "It will rain again soon. We need to protect the Plants and get inside. What were you, by the way?"

"I was a chef."

"I was a banker."

But none of that meant anything here.

"Help me get ready for the rains, and then come inside. I may have work for you here."

And so it was I came to live with Jonathan and Fatimah. My main job was finding ways to purify the poisonous water. We had water to drink, irrigate, and bathe on occassion. We lived in luxury. It seemed Jonathan was merely lucky, I was his charity case, and Fatimah's role was obvious enough. One of the only old professions still in demand.

For seven years, we watched the sky boil. We watched for her to wake up, or to finish dying. Between improving our shelter, nursing the Plants, and avoiding dehydration or sickness, there was nothing to do but watch. And wait. Wait for anything.

A Barren Place (Breathe Out)

I woke one morning when the ground groaned and rumbled. The Earth came out of her coma and her heartbeat knocked us from our sleep. She began to breathe; and the crimson sky pulsed around us with a noise like blood rushing through our ears.

Fatimah crossed herself, which struck me as funny.

We stepped out from our shelter and peered through the clouds, searching for the tell-tale glow letting us know where the sun was, and roughly what "time" it was. We'd missed breakfast. Considering that there were approximately three edible things in the landscape, we didn't miss it too much.

"It's time to go," said Jonathan. "We'll follow the river."

"What river?"

He pointed up.

"She flows East," he said. "If there were animals, I'd have run where they ran. But they were gone long before I thought of running, and every rhythm of life left this place. I'm going to follow the only sign she's given me for seven years. I'm going to follow her blood to her heart. We harvest and pack now."

"I'm not going East."

"There's no sense staying here. The sameness is going to drive me mad."

"There's no sense going East. I've been that way."

"Don't worry. We'll be well North of Vegas."

"The new canyons will stretch that far, easily. It's impassable."

But before Jonathan could protest, the Earth exhaled, and the river changed direction. Her lungs rattled and tore tributaries through the sky. Each time she inhaled, new patterns bore their way into the clouds and the rolling shadows of the landscape.

The Earth had been reincarnated. But not us. We were leftovers. Anachronisms. Bankers and chefs and whores.

"I'm going West," I said. "She'll breathe me out."

"This is no accident! We get to survive! I'm moving East."

But after we'd split up the Plants and mumbled goodbyes, the winds came faster and faster from the East. Even Jonathan couldn't deny that the Earth was pushing us away.

So we mumbled different goodbyes and went West. And when she breathes in again, we hope to start over.


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Under Sophie's Silk


The rumors claimed her mother was a witch. That Sophie had burned her hand not while her mother made cornbread on an iron stove, but while she stirred evil spells in a cauldron. The effect was the same. Children were warned by their parents, or found her silk gloves strange, or were terrified when they saw what the gloves concealed.

Sophie herself couldn't remember exactly how it had happened. She was two, and she remembered the black iron, panic, not being able to get away. She remembered the pain, but that was it. According to the story she'd always believed, she'd rested her hand against an iron stove, and stuck. She passed out when they pulled her off. She'd healed, and could even use it normally. But for the rest of her life, she would have a perfect, round hole through the palm of her right hand. So when the bandages came off, the silk gloves went on.

But the older she got, the more she wondered. She saw more cauldrons in her dreams. She questioned more memories. But what really took some getting used to were the things she'd started seeing when she took her gloves off.

Alone, at night, she would hold up her hand in a greeting to no one in particular, and stare through that hole at the opposite wall. Sophie wondered how different things might be if she looked normal. If her mother weren't gone, if she weren't alone in the world. And eventually she'd console herself; remind herself how much worse it could be. But she'd still put the gloves back on before going to bed.

One night last December, though, she found she wasn't looking at the opposite wall. That she was, in fact, holding her hand up in greeting to someone. A man's face peered back at her through her palm.

She screamed, jumped out of her chair, and found... that she was still alone. That she was losing it. Just seeing things.

She gave up dwelling on her disfigurement for a few weeks afterward. Obviously, it wasn't doing her health much good. But old habits, especially the private self-destructions, die hard. And during a winter storm, drinking expensive wine from the bottle, she took off the glove and held up her hand.

The same face peered through, cocking an eyebrow. Sophie put down her hand. No one there. She lifted it again, and in a bravery that can only be explained by believing she was dreaming, said...


"I thought you could see me!"

"Yes, well, I'm still not sure if you're there or not."

"Me either, really. But it's nice to have someone to talk to."

And that was all they did. Talked about the war, Dostoevsky, their jobs. His name was Hobbes. He talked about becoming invisible - he wasn't sure if he was dead, he just knew that one day, he woke up and no one could see him. Sophie told him about her accident, and apologized for ignoring him for three weeks. And that she couldn't think of any way to help. It seemed silly to "make contact" and have no idea where to go from there. It wasn't like the movies at all.

"If I could come talk with you again, that would be a service in itself, ma'am." He tipped his hat, and she followed him with her hand as he opened and walked out the front door.

And that night, Sophie went to bed without her gloves on, feeling a little less alone in the world, and slept well. She may have had strange trials ahead of her, but during that first experience, she'd finally found a friend to help her through.


Monday, January 8, 2007

Mirrored Land

Originally posted: 9/18/06

I've always known there was nothing but foil or silver back there. I was a rational child. I still wondered, though. I had a feeling about it, like when you see reflections of reflections and you know that no illusion this real could be illusion.

Becky and I imagined stepping through, into a more quiet place. A dark and misty reflection of reality we could have to ourselves. In the mirrored land, there was never sun, there was never movement, only an occasional breeze to sway the purply lush, unidentifiable trees.

It was all ours, and it was beautiful.

But we forget those fancies, as we forget Santa Clauses and Easter Bunnies and sons of God.

Today I touched our mirror, a small, dirty medicine cabinet. I leaned into it and tried to see behind myself. I looked for horror-movie movements, wavery imperfections, Bloody Mary. Nothing there. No, there's still no literal going through the looking glass.

I got into my car. Rain clouds were coming in again. Everything was beautifully dark and misty.

The shop was ridiculously quiet. I only had a single customer, Rebekah. I closed early.

The rain still hadn't started, and the sky hadn't changed. The world was quiet. I turned on the radio, wondering what I could have missed, but the radio was out.

Something wrong, but this was never how I'd pictured disaster. It's too beautiful.

I went home. Where else would I go? No TV here, either. And no one home. Where is the dog?

I heard a TV on somewhere, though. I could see the light of it....

From the bathroom.

I guess we never know.


Saturday, January 6, 2007

The Attic

Originally posted 9/14/06

Last weekend my family met at Dad's for barbecue. As the evening wound down, after a couple of glasses of wine, we decided exploring the attic seemed like a fine old idea.

The first box overflowed with dusty stuffed animals. Wuzzles. Ninja Turtles. Bath toys that changed color in the water. Beloved but forgotten teddy bears and Rocky Raccoon. And a few oddities none of us had the vaguest memory of.

The weirdest find was a stuffed rabbit with a dirty latex doll's face sewn on. We tossed it at each other, delighted by it's creepiness.

The second box was treasure. My She-Ra Crystal Palace! I set it up that night, brushed the sawdust out of each doll's hair, and arranged my new toy in the corner of my apartment. As a conversation piece, I left the creepy doll on the mantle.

I expected to sleep well that night.

Dolls. Dead dolls. I've got a closet full of them. Porcelain treasures waiting to be restored. I feel a pang of guilt every time I look over those shattered features, missing eyes and whisps of polyester.

I can't even remember where I got all these things. I really should empty the closet before it's too late.

I closed the door and took the stairs three floors down to daylight. As soon as I hit the sidewalk I heard him calling me.

"Emma! Emma, help!"

And then it was too late. He tripped against their hooves and disappeared beneath the carriage. Poor child.

I drug his body up the stairs, into the darkness. At each pause in the stairs someone had hung a clock. The clocks hung loudly. I couldn't even feel the weight of his body by the fourth clock.

The dolls in the closet began to stir.

It was about five in the morning.

I reached for the clock to see if I'd set the alarm. Not that I could fall back asleep anyway. But if the alarm was off, then I'd fall asleep.

My hand hurt as I tried to work the tiny buttons. My fingers were curled and locked, screaming as I forced movement and blood into them. Maybe the nightmare's paralysis was moving backwards through my body, lingering in my fist. Maybe I'd been sleeping with it curled under me.

But, no, I didn't think that was it.

I could feel something sticky under my nails, my fingertips slick and sliding across the top of the clock. As sunlight began to creep into the window, I saw the blood on my hands, traces on the pillow... I ran to the bathroom and felt the nightmare sensation clench my stomach again. I'd made jagged scratches down the left side of my face and chewed my lips. My teeth matched my fingernails.

Most people would begin by asking themselves why they'd done it, how such a thing could happen in their sleep. Not me. I wondered, How am I going to hide this? I'm no fool. You have to keep the darkest, strangest shit hidden, or you'll really be in danger.

I called in sick after looking in the mirror yesterday morning. Now I'm just waiting for this strange, sudden storm to blow over. It's been raining today. The thunder has slowly gotten louder and more frightening, and it's gotten harder to see in or out of the windows. They're sweating. Even the inanimate seems nervous.

There are far too many people to hide from. Too many people who will see the blood on my face or hear the panic in my voice. Boss, lover, it doesn't matter, I can't see you right now. Please leave a message. I'll return your call. At some point. If you still want to talk to me.

I think there are mice in the attic, or squirrels, or toys shifting around in an intruding gale. Specifically, there is something in the spot directly over my hanging lamp. It keeps scratching on the ceiling. It's going to finish the job of driving me nuts if I don't investigate.

I pulled a kitchen chair into the hallway and eyed the attic door skeptically. I don't really want to do this, but I don't think I've got much choice. Finally I reached for the dirty string and pulled the hatch toward me.

Heat and mothball stink washed over me.

Bulb out, but enough gray light to work with filtered through the dormers. Nothing was scurrying or swaying or scratching at the floor. Not that I could see.

I could almost stand up straight, keeping my weight on the support beams. Once, my father fell through the attic, the ceiling, and into the bedroom. I didn't plan on ruining my ceiling. The place was a rental.

Was I supposed to look for rat turds? How does one tell if there have been squirrels in the attic? I started moving boxes out of the corners, checking along the edges of the walls. Most of this stuff wasn't even mine. Artifacts from previous tenants.

It's fascinating what people will leave behind. Forgotten, but not gone.

I knocked a television sized box over, figuring it was safer away from the supports than I. Stuffed animals tumbled out and sank into the insulation. But those creepy eyes were staring right at me.

I reached down to pick up the rabbit-doll, and heard the door behind me click shut.

As the door closed, the wind picked up, whistling in the dormers. It made an almost childish noise: Oooh, you're in trouble! The absurdity of it calmed me down a little. A little. I broke my gaze from rabbit-face, giggled, and maneuvered my way back to the hatch. I'm sure it's just an old spring and habits of timber that slammed it shut. Slammed it up. Screw you, gravity!

But it wouldn't open. With all my weight on it, I couldn't even let a crack of reassuring, artificial hallway light in.


Oh, shit. Oh God. I'm trapped up here with it.

With what?

Good question. Rabbit-face, for one. Which couldn't even be mine. I left the one I found at Dad's downstairs. Were they really so popular that I'd found a second one in someone else's relics?

'Relics' is a bad choice of words, hon.

Rabbit-face and the relics. And whatever else has collected up here, forgotten but not gone.

You can't clean out the attic without facing what's in it.

Bulb's out. Dead baby dolls. Resurrections. Clocks. All manner of ink and blackness and blood. I examined the red flakes on my fingernails. Again?

It's really getting bad. I'm not sure you should put this off.

I can't do anything in the dark, by myself.

You can sort through everything like a responsible person, or you can start demolition.

Well, I've never been a responsible person.

One way out. I felt around in the insulation with my sneaker, checking for wires, beams, hypodermic needles... you know, whatever dangers might hide in a pool of pink fur. You never know in a house like this. I jumped into the sheet rock.

Oh, Emma. I know it looks like the easy way, but it ain't. It doesn't even work.

[from Emma's journal, January]

I think I understand better now the cause of my unhappiness. Discomfort. I can't find quite the right word. I'm uncomfortable in my skin. My distress. I don't know.

But the distress is still there. It's constant white noise. Maybe I don't even understand the cause, though. All I know is it's been downhill since adulthood. I was good at school. I didn't even have to try. The real world, on the other hand, is a motherfucker.

This is the bullshit I present to you today. You force it from me. Sometimes I give you the truth. Sometimes I create elaborate fantasies. Sometimes I'm not sure what the hell I'm doing. I don't know if you read these things anyway. You've accepted that there will be no confessions in these pages. I've accepted that I'll be here forever. I'll be here until you believe me, or convince me I'm crazy. Which I am not.

[from Emma's journal, February]

You tell me I did all of this to myself. That I managed to tear the flesh from my leg and braid my skin from cheekbone to twisted ankle. How do you explain the nail in my ribcage?

I swear to you, I jumped through the sheet rock to get out of that attic. The fall wasn't exactly pleasant. I never got that fireman's pole installed. Makes jumping through ceilings a bit dangerous. I don't see why you don't see it. That's where my injuries came from.

There were too many relics and voices in there. They'd have driven me crazy. Which I am not, thank you. I think they were going to attack me...

[entry ends, as found]

What's that?

My God, one of them found me.

Hey, doll-face.

My voice, almost, but older. Meaner. Ominous.

You really don't get it?

I don't think you get it. I remember falling from the attic, bleeding all over the rug, calling 911. I don't understand why I'm here. I know the Rabbit-face part sounds crazy, but I didn't tell them about any of that. I just needed help with the blood. There was too much blood.

You were renting an apartment, remember?


Third floor.


There's no attic in your apartment, you fucking crazy bitch! The only messed-up attic is in your head.

There's no attic.

I'll give you a moment.

There's no attic. You were right. There was no easy way out.

Spring-cleaning, love.

I looked up at the yellowed drop-ceiling tiles. A dirty string hung down for me. I reached for it. I'll face whatever's up there this time.

I climbed up into the darkness and the heat. I wonder if they will find me huddled on the floor later. Or maybe they'll only find my journal, and wonder.


Friday, January 5, 2007

The Loan

Originally posted 8/7/06

I told my boyfriend I didn't mind if he played his video games. And I honestly didn't mind. Problem was, that left me alone in the living room when the angel appeared, and now there is no one to believe me.

"What are you doing here?" I asked the angel. "I'm no virgin, you know."

"Oh, that," he said, giggling. "No big deal. Neither was Mary. But this isn't that sort of visit anyway."

He kicked off his sandals, knocking over a melted Icee by the armchair. "Oops! Sorry. Lord, these shoes are uncomfortable! The physics are completely different down here. Did you know that we never spill our drinks in heaven? It's an impossibility."

"I suppose that's why you don't know how to clean up after yourself."

"It will be fine. Anyway, that rug looks like shit. You should have it cleaned."

"So this visit is about insulting my home?"

"No, of course not. I apologize. You have to forgive me, you know. But to the point." He picked up my purse and began going through the pockets.

"Excuse me?!?"

He pulled out my last twenty-five dollars and waved the bills at me. "Your neighbor needs to borrow this."

"Well then I guess I'll just march it over to her, eh?"

"Oh, don't trouble yourself," he said nervously. "I'll take care of it for you. I'll bring it back in a couple of days. Promise. God bless!"

And with that, the angel and my cash vanished.

Frankly, I don't think he ever took it over to her. Not that I can go over there and ask. Excuse me, did a man in a glowing robe bring you twenty-five dollars? I need that back, please. Yeah, that's gonna work. And my boyfriend thinks I've lost my mind entirely. Stupid video games.

The angel still hasn't paid me back. I wonder what he spent it on? Maybe some more comfortable shoes.


Thursday, January 4, 2007

Assumed Identities

Originally posted 4/4/06

Note: This is fiction, even though it is inspired by Dan Garner's multiple MySpace profiles. It should in no way reflect on Dan's personality or character. Heck, I'm not even sure that all the pages referenced were created by Dan. It's a joke, people.

Bored and lonely during the quiet hours at Tipitina's, Dan took pleasure from an active social life - online. And when his own pages and email addresses weren't getting enough activity to keep him occupied, he'd simply create more. Before long, he had 32 MySpace pages. One for himself, one for his music, one for his business, one for his city and one for the next city over. Pages for fantastical mayoral candidates, talking lawn chairs, giant rabbits, favorite artists, an animated piece of sidewalk chalk and a dangerously disturbed carbonation bubble. Within a couple of weeks, friends lists all over Shreveport were flooded with Dan Garner's different pages.

One morning Dan logged on to check the Giant Bunny's page, and found that his password had been changed. No problem, he thought, I must have just gotten it mixed up with another page. I'll have them email it to me. But he couldn't log in to the corresponding email address, either. Uh-oh. All these pages may be getting out of hand. I'll have to start writing all my passwords down. And so he double-checked all his other accounts and catalogued everything, but never could get back onto the Giant Bunny account.

Yet, Giant Bunny was still making friends and leaving comments. Had he been hacked?

If so, the hacker had some balls. There was a friend request from Giant Bunny in his mailbox. It must be one of my co-workers. I'll play along.

But even after going to great lengths to record his passwords, keep his favorite accounts on his home computer, and protect his profiles from break-ins, he kept losing control of more and more of his creations.

Dan Garner: Who are you?

GiantBunny: im the giant bunny

Dan Garner: I know you have hacked into my account. I just want to know who you are.

GiantBunny: ???

Dan Garner: What is your real name?

GiantBunny: dan

Dan Garner: Asshole.

 ** Dan Garner has signed off **

Dan, aka Giant Bunny, sat in confusion. What was Mr. Garner so upset about? He emailed his friends: Elliot Vaughn, Shreveport, Bossier City, the talking lawn chair, the sidewalk chalk, the carbonation bubble and all the rest. They all deleted Mr. Garner from their pages. And Mr. Garner woke up from his nap still wondering who was stealing his identity. It would take a while to realize it was him all along.


Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Collette's Sleeping Disorder

Originally posted on 3/22/06

I just want to wake up, she thought. I just want to wake up so I can live my life. Some kind of life besides sleeping and spacing out.

Collette had tried everything. She'd tried willpower: nada. She'd tried music, scary movies and exercise: nothing. She'd tried all kinds of chemicals. Caffeine, Sudafed, Dexatrim, Ritalin, Red Bull, and a dozen herbs and homemade concoctions. She'd scheduled appointments with a psychiatrist and a couple of specialists but slept right through them. Everything left her more and more exhausted.

And even though it had been months since she'd felt fully awake, it also felt like months since she'd gotten a good night's sleep. She'd lay her head down after work, around 8:00 or 9:00. Instantly, she'd hear her alarm singing it's unhappy tune. Evening became night became morning became day, and she had missed it all.

She had no answers, didn't know the cause or the cure, and was becoming desperate.

And so when JT came by with some suspicious-looking meth, she coughed up some cash along with a tongue-in-cheek prayer. Let something work. Anything.

She'd been wearing dirty clothes for two weeks. Couldn't stay awake long enough to move a load from the washer to the dryer. Couldn't get her term paper done - hell, couldn't get it started. The house would have been a mess, if only she'd been up to making a mess. If she could, she'd stay up all night reveling in actual activity.

Around 11:30 that night, Collette offered up a prayer of gratitude to no one in particular.She sat on the front porch, happily observing the night activity she'd been oblivious to for so long. As she watched one street cat chase another into the gutter, lightning turned the entire scene bright blue.

Not lightning, she thought, her stomach twisting. It's not quite right. And yet... it's so familiar.

The lightning flashed again, too silently, lingering too long. The tougher street cat had joined its foe hiding in the gutter. Nothing else seemed to be moving.

The next flash of lighting came from behind her - inside the house? - tumbling her bizarre, elongated shadow down the front steps. I remember this. I had a nightmare about this. But she was fairly certain she hadn't dreamt in months.

She was still trying to piece it together when her visitors found her outside and took her into the sky again.