A Moment of Pause

6076183There was a moment the other day during which every stoplight on the planet was red. It was only a fraction of a second, but it was the first time in history that all the patterns and mechanisms that dictate the changing of lights lined up perfectly to stop all traffic at a stoplight all over the world simultaneously. Those that noticed may have used that brief pause to reflect about how many insubstantial, little things connect them to people all over the world. People might have had a moment to wonder in awe at the beautiful and seemingly meaningful patterns that sometimes fall out of the chaos of independent systems. Perhaps some people may have just felt the need to smile at having been a part of this event that had only, and would only, happen once in all of history.

Of course nobody DID notice, because feeling like there are no green lights is almost as common as red lights themselves, and the momentous occasion slipped by unnoticed.

 

Demands of the Beast

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The mixture of smoke and rancid steam drifted off the cauldron to curl around and envelope Sigrid Juliane’s body. The forest air was cold and her robe was thin, so despite its unsavory smell, that of the smoke and the steam was a welcome embrace. Most of the contents of the cauldron weren’t so bad on their own: honey, tomato leaves, lavender, some goat meat, and a bunch of water. Many of the other ingredients, though, Sigrid would never eat. They included snails, a few amphibians, entrails of four different animals killed in very specific ways, an entire bible, and, worst of all, cilantro. Sigrid hated cilantro. The vile liquid had taken on a milky, green opacity, which Sigrid counted as a good sign, because that’s how witches brews always looked in the movies.

She had never tried to summon the Beast before, in fact, this was her first act as a witch. When she had first decided to become a witch, most people tried to correct her, saying that the correct term was “Wicca.” She had read the Wicca wikipedia, that’s not what she wanted, she wanted to be a witch. She wanted the power and the purpose of being in league with the Beast. In exchange she would give her soul (she wasn’t using it) and perhaps her body (nobody else seemed to have a need for it) unto the Beast. First, though, she had to summon him. She had read everything that she could get her hands on about witchcraft, unfortunately a large majority of it was written by witch hunters and men of the cloth. These sources didn’t provide a whole lot of helpful information, and promised a lot of retributions that, frankly, sounded like threats made as compensation for impotence. The most helpful source, she had found, had been Yahoo Answers. There were all sorts of helpful tips by people that said they were experts. The idea that it might not work at all had never crossed her mind.

The recipe had called for poems of bitter, unrequited love. She watched the sonnets that she had found dripping with angst on some teenager’s blog sink slowly into the opaque liquid and she went over the checklist in her head; there was only one thing left to do. She sprinkled in the final ingredient of poison oak leaves, held her talisman high in her left hand and repeated the sacred words.

“Ego credulus. Credo in internetium legere omnia.”

She lingered on each word as she said it, tasting and savoring the power of each syllable. When she had first seen the words, they had struck her as odd. For example, the word “internetium” seemed strange in there, but the guy who posted it claimed to be a Seventh Stage Black Belt at the Warlock Academy, and she didn’t know a single word of latin, so he knew better than she did.

The directions had told her that she may have to repeat the words quite a few times before the Beast appeared, encouraging her to bring as much poison oak as she could carry, to avoid having to go find more when she ran out, and having to start all over again. However, she had only shouted the words the third time when, into the poorly lit clearing stepped the Beast. She had expected horns and a goatee. He didn’t have either of those things, but he was definitely not a man. He was nearly eight and a half feet tall and covered with thick brown hair, what else could he be but the Beast? As he entered the clearing, the Beast looked startled, and came to a stop, staring at her with wide eyes. Perhaps, she presumed, he was startled by the great potential of power that he sensed in her, or perhaps, the summoning spell had pulled him out of some other activity.

Regardless of why he looked at her the way he had, she didn’t want to waste his time, “My Lord,” she said, dropping her arms and bowing low over the cauldron. “I am honored that you would grace me with your presence and heed my proposition.”

She stood back up, and the Beast took a small step backward, sniffing the air, probably checking to make sure she had all the right ingredients in the pot, she thought, glad she hadn’t skimped on the frogs.

“I wanted to pledge unto you my soul in exchange for the power and privilege of joining your ranks,” she said, stepping from behind the cauldron. The Beast took another small step backwards but still didn’t say anything.

She had been worried that it might come to this, that the Beast craved more than just her soul. She was prepared though. She pulled the tie on her robe and let it fall open. “If more you desire, my lord, then come and take it, my body is yours.” She shrugged the robe off of her shoulders and it fell into a clump around her feet, exposing her smooth white skin to the pale glow of the fire. The Beast didn’t move, he just shifted his eyes around the clearing.

They stood like that for a long while, but when it became clear to her that the Beast was not going to approach her, she reached down, a little hurt by the rejection, and grabbed her robe from the ground. As she slipped it back over her skin, which had begun to prickle in the cold, she said “Or if my soul is enough, I don’t want to continue wasting your time.”

She took a step back toward the cauldron, and watched the Beast. He stood there for another moment, then turned and disappeared silently back into the darkness.

When Sigrid Juliane told the story of that night to anyone that would listen, she referred to it as the night that the Beast agreed to give her power in exchange for her soul. Since then, she said, she had felt more powerful and had noticed that her sense of smell seemed to be more sensitive. Nobody believed her.

When the bigfoot told the story of that night to his large, hairy buddies, he referred to it as the night he stumbled on a crazy human woman in the woods. Everyone, of course, believed him.


Listen to me read it here:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/iqy1o5azagdzplm/DemandsOfTheBeast.mp3?dl=0

 

The Sleep of the Wicked

20140811-225921It was too hot in the small bedroom for him to cover his entire body but whenever he tried to drift off to sleep with exposed skin, there would be a buzz and he would feel a little tickle of something landing on him in the dark. You’d think that he also had trouble sleeping because of his chosen profession as a con man, but that didn’t seem to be the case. The lives he had ruined by charming women into exposing their life savings didn’t haunt him at all. The only thing that had been keeping him awake for three days was the fear of getting eaten alive.

He had tried making sure that the window was sealed and added a screen to the front door. He had no idea how a mosquito could be getting in, but sure enough, every night, as soon as it was dark in his room, it would all start again. He would huff and puff, he would grunt and groan, and he would throw curses into the darkness as he swatted himself.

The curses, though, had slowly taken on an edge that sounded more like pleading as the nights without sleep dragged on. He was starting to break, and here I stand by his bed with a peacock feather, a kazoo, and a pair of night vision goggles that were worth every penny.

Channel Islands Adventure

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 The Good Wife

The Good Wife

I will post some fiction on Thursday. Over this last weekend, however, I went on an adventure and thought I might share some pictures.

Between Thursday and Sunday I accompanied my girlfriend’s family while they were brought out to the northern Channel Islands on a sailing ship.

The ship was called The Good Wife with Captain Sean and was chartered through Channel Islands Charter (http://www.channelislandscharter.com/).

What I was told were Chumash burial mounds in the foreground with Anacapa in the distance.

What I was told were Chumash burial mounds in the foreground with Anacapa in the distance


 
Captain Sean started out by saying “Well, it’s your charter, we can go wherever you want,” but none of us knew exactly where we wanted to go, except that we wanted some adventure. Captain Sean and his son Cullen made suggestions which did not disappoint. They knew the islands, and the area, they were interesting people to talk to and great cooks. Needless to say, we were well fed, well cared for, and thoroughly entertained.

The lighthouse on Anacapa Island surrounded by seagulls

The lighthouse on Anacapa Island surrounded by seagulls

We made it to two islands: Anacapa and Santa Cruz.

On the first day we explored a little of the island of Anacapa. Some of the high points include kayaking into some beautiful sea caves and trekking up to the light house among hoards of seagulls.

The next two days were spent on Santa Cruz Island, where we hiked around on the island and kayaked into Painted Cave, the largest sea cave in North America, to the tune of some very grumpy sea lions.

The only negative of the entire trip was avoidable. I decided to sleep on deck the last night and was swarmed by mosquitoes all night. I was forced to bury my head down inside my sleeping bag to escape their ravenous little proboscises, where I conceived and wrote the fiction that I’ll be posting on Thursday.

 

Kayaking in painted cave

Kayaking in painted cave

Kayaking in Painted Cave

Kayaking in Painted Cave

The view from inside Painted Cave

The view from inside Painted Cave

 

It was a great trip. If you ever get the opportunity to do something similar, my advice to you is to not hesitate to do so.

 

 

Of course, our lego people had a great adventure as well.

Of course, our lego people had a great adventure as well.