The Beach House

I guess I won’t escape the water on this spring evening. The rain pounds on me with the rhythm of an icy waterfall. It has gotten to the point now that the pain of the cold is warming me more than my nightgown ever could. The warmth of my breath fights through the bitter darkness of the evening only to be beaten back by the unrelenting frigidity of the wind at my face. Perhaps the warmness of the gulf would radiate just enough to find some comfort in this depressing storm.

The waves quickly roll in, one after another, bashing my stomach and chest. I turn my head to avoid the violent aggression of the water as it pummels me and attempts to intrude my body through my nose and mouth. The gulf’s hospitality sure is lacking tonight, a drastic change from the filled beaches of the morning past; children building sand castles, couples floating and drinking and cuddling in the water, snowbirds out to roost under umbrella tents and the shadow of books. No, tonight is so much different, so much bleaker. The kindness of the gulf seems to have set with the sun.

It is such a small beach community for so many people to litter this little slice of heaven. The beach house, light
tan with soft pastel and white colored accents with a large sun bathing balcony, only rents four beds and yet this beautiful beach had several dozens of visitors on its little stretch of land. They could have spread out to the shores on either sides of this lot but they did not. They did not because they knew what I knew, that this section of beach was perfect. The sun stretched over us and was offered no invitation for quarter by monstrous condos, gray clouds, or tall trees. The gulf breeze swayed against our bodies as though it were dancing to its own serenade while the sugary white sands warmed our feet and massaged our heals. The saltwater offered refreshing retreat as it frolicked on our lips like the rim of a frozen margarita. Gentle waves offered both play and coddling as the seabirds flying above glided almost still, resting on the wings of the wind. Even the small fish and baby crabs could be seen sashaying in the translucent emerald green water. Of course these people did not spread out past the boundaries. Who would ever abandon this glimpse of heaven bathed in sunshine?

Maybe it was just a test. Now that I am deep enough to float and not stand the waves seem to have let up a bit on its attack. As I bob up and down, four feet up and four feet down, I am thankful my stomach is empty tonight. The gulf is starting to show some compassion by lending me its warmth, something it was lacking on the shore and on my walk in. It’s becoming difficult to keep above water however as the crest always bows to the trough; and my body must follow like a knight kneeling before its king. As I rise to the peak of each wave, I glance ashore to see if they are all still standing there. They are.

Looking back, their touch was warmer than I would have expected. I am surprised they were even able to wake me since I am such a heavy sleeper. I was gently awakened by a soft grab on my ankle and the grasp was strangely lukewarm and damp. There was an old comfort to it much like how my father used to wake me for school when I was a child. It made waking up to a room full of a dozen shadows a bit less petrifying…A tiny bit less horrifying.

As I sat up and buried myself as far into the headboard of the bed as I physically could, I took survey of my surroundings. There were exactly twelve of them, these shadow people with their onyx liquescent bodies; gray smoke dancing off and through their bodies like black liquid ice. They stood there standing motionless with various displays of body language and height. The shadow that touched me to wake me sat there at the foot of the bed, legs crossed with its hands rested gracefully. It was looking at me, or I think it was looking at me, I could not tell since there were no facial features. But I could feel them all looking at me. I could also hear them.

They all seemed to speak in unison with the same consciousness but with different, muffled sounds. It was whisper-like voices, some tones dragging behind others as they spoke like rapid and soft little echoes. It was haunting yet beautiful, spiritual. They told me that things were going to be okay and asked me to follow them out of the room. And so I did, into the hallway where several other smoky figures lined each side of the hallway, some leaning up against the dimly lit blue walls, others squatting casually, and some more like soldiers on guard, all staring at me as though I were walking the red carpet. As I passed the other bedroom I remembered my two daughters and husband fell asleep in the bunk bed room after an evening of board games and ghost stories. I asked if my daughters and husband were safe and they ensured that they were. I cannot explain why I trusted them. Maybe it was the thought of risking waking my girls to this strange and frightening spectacle. They did not need to experience whatever this was and if they did then I wanted my husband to be there to protect them.

As I entered the kitchen I noticed several other shadows, all standing throughout the space and living room, watching me as the first group guided me toward the backdoor that was facing the gulf. As I opened the door a winter-type chill smacked my body. It was abnormally cold for this time of year this far south and the rain was twice as frigid. I noticed on the sunbather’s porch, down the wooden-decked pathway and on the tall dunes there were several dozens more shadow people standing and watching me. I asked the group of shadows ahead of me who all of these people, these things, were. I asked where they were taking me and why were they all staring at me. With each question my voice began to tremble and fear started to overwhelm me like the cold did once I opened that door. They said that I would be alright and that they were the same as me. They were watching me because they wanted to welcome one of their own.

Soon I was ushered past the berm and toward the shore of the gulf. I stumbled through the thick and wet sand as they pointed me toward the violent blackness of the gulf. I understood that they wanted me to go in but I paused and asked what if I did not want to go into the deep. They stoically answered that I must trust them, “for there is no other choice.” And so I have.

I am losing my ability to keep my head above the waterline. Now the saltwater is burning my eyes and throat and panic is starting to sink in. On the horizon I begin to see a few shapes emerge from the audience of shadows and approach the water’s edge. One by one they enter the water; their smoky bodies illuminate the water with a stunning silver brightness radiating from their bodies. They are swimming toward me. I can no longer resist the urge to purge myself under the unyielding juggernaut of waves.

I sink and have released the last of my breath. I gasp in the sea. My lungs drink in the saltwater with the pressure of a water balloon at the end of a hose. I flail out to grab anything and nothing in a final attempt to pull myself toward life. Unexpectedly, I feel a familiar touch on my face, the same touch that woke me and put me toward this journey; my final dip in the gulf. He is face to faceless face with me now.

Two other silver shadows glide to each of my arms and hold my hand in a loving embrace, one hand to the shadow’s cheek, the other to its chest as a child would hold a teddy bear. I notice the shape of her glowing pigtails, the same pigtails she was wearing as she jumped up and down on the bed during her playtime with her father. I notice the other wearing a silhouette of a nightgown just like mine, one of a mother/daughter matching set I chose as a Christmas gift this past year. I gaze back forward and think to myself and to him, “I knew it was your touch that woke me, my love.” As my consciousness begins to fade, they lovingly guide me into the tender abyss, to our Elysium, making me another welcomed guest at the beach house.

by StupidDialUp

The Water Farmer

The Waterfarmer
 
Tonight he had purpose. The number was to be twenty…twenty of the best. Or at least the best he could find. The twenty were to be found in the water; in their place of rest. They will be part of the offering; an offering that must be made.

Out to sea he realizes he must go and in the horizon an aged wooden boat, similar to a small, rotting schooner appears to him as a specter of the sea. His Dark Captain greets him at the peer and waves him aboard as a servant would greet an expected guest.  It is known that the Dark Captain, shaped as a shadow of a large pirate, will guide him through to the soon to be chosen, with his oar in hand, steering through the salty, dense, and suffocating fog.

There were others fishing. He could sense it though he could not see them, these competing fishermen. Their presence weighed down the air as though a final plea, a plea for life, was soon to be heard. The pressure mounted as the urgency was palpable. And soon his lottery would be chosen.

And there they were, floating like underwater rows of corn. Souls, the ghost of weathered men and women made of oily liquid and illuminated smoke, familiar yet not. Vast fields of past experiences sprinkled the sea mirroring the starry night above in darkness, silence and spectacle. The harvest was to be made both quickly and with utmost certainty. He, the Waterfarmer, the fishermen, must choose his bait wisely and throw back the unworthy catch, for there would be only one offering.  

The selections were to be made through the senses, not just of those senses of the physical world, but of the metaphysical as well. He must feel their energy, their being and emotion, their wisdom and sin, what made them who they were and what will make him part of them, part of one. But how would he know? Understanding the task at hand but not the how, he fished, reaching his hand as far as he could toward the water touching soul after soul, each time rejecting yet taking a part of them with him as though he were collecting letters to home from lonely soldiers. Catch after catch is made and thrown back…until he finds one and another…each choice made filled a hole in his spirit, like a mathematically perfected piece of a whole. He now knows that these chosen few represent his past, his present and most importantly, his future.

As each undeniable link is made with these lonely souls, each one manifests itself onto the Dark Captains schooner, slowly floating upside the boat, over the edges and into their place in the pews much like mercury finds itself. Only these souls start taking shape into ghostly men and women with cloudy and hollow eyes, skin of liquefied pearl, and strikingly faceless. They begin to slug into a pool at the bow of the ship. As the souls gather they begin an entangled embrace, one after another, taking a liquescent shape.

At the base of the creation, broad backs and strong chests stack in rows and depth to solidify the structure above six stacks of feet, hands and knees. A backrest of sturdy shoulders begins to form. Armrests made of thighs melt together with the smooth curve of breasts at grips. The heads and bones gather at the top of the nine-foot design creating a complex helixed catacomb revealing the shape of an incomplete but great throne of pearly iridescence. This beautiful architecture will be his offering.

The boat is almost filled with the remaining faceless twenty, each one sitting at the inside edge of the pews when the Dark Captain points to a massive foggy wall slowly approaching. Time is running out to finish the harvest. The Doctor will soon have his gift and his future may be granted.
  
…The Patient…
 
He is lost in a nauseous stare. His fever has peaked now and his energy is seeping through his pours as if it is an August afternoon in the swamps. As they prophesied, the pounds melted away, thirty-seven of them in fact. Food would no longer be a pleasure but a chore. The shivers, fevers and cramps were undersold however. And he still has his flowing silver hair; a miracle by its own standards. Their poison was effective in its side effects but the results are an invasive surgery away. The visitation to his bladder tends to take an unkind path; as though the cancer and its’ treatment were not penance enough. Now he finds himself struggling to make the simplest of movements as he rushes toward the emergency room for time feels as though it is slipping away.

The hospital is unusually quiet today. He notices there are no ambulances under the canopies and the parking lot seems empty. The entrance way is exceptionally bright as well as it leads down a narrow hallway walled with frosted glass. There is a nurse at the end of the path waiting patiently for her patient in front of the triage desk. Strangely there are only three people sitting idly in the large and bright waiting room, each with an expression of angst, uncertainty and desperation. The nurse, dressed in white scrubs and red lipstick simply points toward the waiting room with a smile and a nod. He knows the Doctor must be coming out soon.

Walking with an ethereal gait, the extraordinarily tall and slender Doctor approaches the room wearing a long white and buttoned doctor’s coat and pressed white pants. He greets his patients with a smile and clinched hands.

“We all know why we are here don’t we?” the Doctor asks. “Which ever one of you four brings me the best offering will be healed. Those who fail, do so, for as you know, I only have the time and inclination for one. Tomorrow your presentations will be made here. Go now to the water’s edge, the captains await.”

He, the patient, did not understand. Had he not given enough to the Doctor? His tortured body, broken spirit, and dignity were only the obvious tokens he had bequeathed to this Doctor. Yet the price has not been paid? The other patients did not seem to bother with such tawdry questions. None of it mattered, all that mattered was the prize at hand and that the competition had begun.
 
…The Offering…
 
The elderly schooner breaks through the dense fog and a shore emerges. It is dusk now. To his left and right he can see the other three patients on their boats, each distinctly different from the next. He shares glances of guilt, pity, sadness and hopefulness with each of them; the emotions showing on his face as one would if they locked eyes with someone who had just lost someone. Three will fail. Three must fail.

Having drifted ashore over large rocks and steps, the bow of the boat flattened out making a ramp leading to newly paved asphalt roads. Each boat had its own empty road leading in the same direction. In the distance up the large and wavy hill was no longer the hospital but the Doctor’s office surrounded by a magnificent cityscape sculpted by mismatched sized skyscrapers and crafted as though it could fit in a gigantic snow globe. This is where the offering would be delivered.

In unison, the remaining souls gathered behind the throne and lifted it up onto their shoulders and began to march in a two row procession off the schooner. He quickly noticed that there was a soul missing from the middle of the procession that he now was forced to fill. Had he made a horrible miscalculation?  Would the Doctor notice the error? His color, while sickly, was more vibrant than the faint oyster shell iridescence of the ghosts. Surely the Doctor would notice but what other choice did he have? The other patients were marching as well, each carrying something in the front of their procession, yet invisible to him. The scene was that of a New Orleans jazz funeral; intensely sad and heavy though awkwardly festive and beautiful. Yet he was the only patient to not be standing alone at the end of their marching party. He was confident his offering would still be enough, regardless of ritual.

They soon reach the top of the hill and each march meets at the foot of the steps of the Doctor’s office with their invisible offerings. The office resembles the exterior grandeur of a city museum. While there were no parade goers on the street, the vast buildings were littered with strange figures cramming out of open windows for as tall as the eye could see. Their faces expressionless, yet body language showed a childlike wonder, grappling for a better look at an execution. The Doctor stands at the top of the elevation with a welcoming smile while taking in the spectacle of the event, pleased.

The Doctor motions each patient forward with their offering and gestures them into his office. A shared expression of panic and qualm waxes over the other patients as they climb up the steps, each behind their procession and the last to enter the large arched double doorway entrance. After a few moments, each patient returns outside to the landing and each with an evacuated gaze. The Doctor finally locks eyes with him and calls for him to present his offering sending unease and hope shivering down his spine.

The procession of souls begins to march up the stairs with the incomplete throne at the lead. The throne was not brought inside like the other gifts were. It was placed in the middle of the landing at the top of the steps directly in front of the Doctor and out in the open for his guests to admire. One by one the remaining souls morphed into the throne, each adding a different element and final touches to the masterpiece of his subconscious imagination. Towering over the Doctor, the throne shined with what appeared as glowing and pulsating white marble. It fluttered iridescence with every heartbeat for it was living architecture. At the top of the backrest, the helix hummed with the wisdom of the collective souls as though they would forever be guidance for its owner. It was complete, immaculate and divinely sublime. This throne was him, his shared soul with those chosen, his life experiences and combined energy from the life-forces webbed throughout his life. It was his purpose, revealed and stunning.

The Doctor leaned over and whispered to him, “It’s beautiful.” Taking a lap around the glimmering throne, the Doctor sensually caresses it as thought it were water at his finger tips. He steps forward, arms thrown to the sky to his guests and yells with rebellious and incredulous tone, “IS THIS NOT BEAUTIFUL?!” All of the guests shrilled in excitement and quickly floated out of the windows, twisting up into the overcast sky, into the raised fog still lingering from the morning. The Doctor, clearly pleased, turned back at the patient and gave a wide smile full of large white and perfectly capped teeth.

Drunk from the intoxicating vision of the moment, unease somehow penetrated him at the sight of it all. Then sobriety hit him as he thought to himself, “Why were twenty needed but only nineteen used? Why am I in the procession and the other patients were not? Am I part of my throne or is the throne made for me? What am I truly offering here?” As the last question rolled off his tongue he began to melt away, turning into a puddle much like his collection had done before creating his masterpiece.

“You prayed to be healed did you not? Healed of pain, suffering, embarrassment, burden and uselessness? I am granting you answered prayer. You have brought me the finest of offerings and I warmly accept!”

His head now nearing the floor to top off the puddle of self he has created, angst and dread fill his soul. His thoughts spoke to the Doctor one final time, “Who am I to question Your judgment, Your will? And yet, at my end, I still have questions…” The patients’ puddle flowed purposefully and split toward all six legs of the throne with his final piece, his head, solidifying the base of the left leg; his skull poking out just enough for the Doctor to rest his heel, in comfort. 

by StupidDialUp

Moment of Eternity: A Psychopomp’s Tale

She’s whispering in my ear now, my lovely Harvester. It must be close to that time.

My entire life has lead up to this one moment and a moment like this makes you relive everything you have done up until now. And as I listen to Her, I know why I’ve been chosen. I am one of the few who understands. The meaning of life, the meaning of creation and death…these things were always obvious to me.

It is why I became a psychiatrist so many years ago. I’ve always been able to shepherd people through the toughest of times and my understanding began early as an adolescent girl. Watching your younger sibling die in front of you tends to create more difficult questions than it offers answers. And I’ve never been one to not seek answers. I wanted to know why God wanted me to watch my little sister die in front of me without giving me the tools to be able to help her. What was it that I saw in her eyes as she floated away into the dark? What was the pain I felt billowing from my mother when I watched her pull my sister’s body from the pool? I needed to know why God would allow, if not will, the innocent to die. Why are we all mortal? What was it about human beings that allowed the greatest kindnesses only to be matched by unimaginable horrors? My curiosity would prove insatiable. I always needed to know.

Through my search for answers I came to realize what separates us from other living things; what makes us important to the universe is our perception-if not understanding-of the metaphysical. It’s from this understanding that I realized that there is one crucial thing that both connects everyone we come in contact with but also gives us our own individuality and soul: emotion. Emotion is the energy that is created and shared between souls. It’s what molds us. Eventually, it’s what defines us as it helps create our character. The concept of evil and good, while necessary means to an end, are ultimately irrelevant since they are both interconnected through emotion. And it is emotion, I learned early on, that is the meaning of life…

And death. Death…her death…I could not escape it. Her face and that last flicker in her eyes gave me nightmares for years. I researched the moment of death extensively: life flashing before your eyes; out of body experiences; bright light; the sense of an invisible presence. It all seemed obviously interconnected but I had to test it. The couch in my office would eventually become my laboratory.

After years of research on the moment of death and more importantly emotion, I came to believe that all emotions fit into one of 6 categories and if I were to test my theories I needed to find people within these emotional throws at their precise moment of death…their moment of eternity. With this in mind, I decided to specialize in serving the terminally ill. As I helped guide them through their final days, finding peace where it could be sought, I was able to extensively study my theories.

I started my research as an “exit guide” for an assisted suicide underground network. It is here where I learned the emotional reasons that lead many to choose their own death, their “plan” as it was often referred. Dignity, escape (both physical and mental), and the refusal to burden loved ones were the most popular reasons given. After being around dozens of these finished “plans,” you could start to sense when Death was near. At first I just thought it was a general eeriness to the situation at hand. It’s hard for your mind to not get invested when finality is near. You tend to empathize with these individuals and the coming sadness for their friends and loved ones. I thought the eeriness could also be attributed to the tools that were used: the box the candy apple red helium tanks came in, depicting happy children running around a yard with balloons in their hands; the fish tank air bubble tubes used to administer the gas; the Thanksgiving turkey bag turned executioners hood that would seal in gas that was always 100% effective. The helium…the same gas we would swallow when we grew up as kids to make funny voices…tricks the brain into thinking it is oxygen like a clowns’ gag at a birthday party. I thought the innocence of the death method was what caused the eeriness every time. But I now realize it wasn’t.

After serving as an “exit guide” on 18 cases I realized that this turkey bag was an inconvenience for testing my theories. We would always remove the bags from the individuals head and remove all of the evidence of the assisted suicide. The coroners would have no choice but to categorize it as “natural causes” since the helium is hard to detect and, of course, being that most of our clients were elderly, no one would really question otherwise. Every time I would pull off the bag (usually after 10-12 minutes), I would miss out on the moment of actual death, because of the wrinkling and bodily fluids that would drape the plastic, I could not clearly see through the bag in order to watch the eyes…I must always see the eyes…when the time came.

So the decision was made to move to Oregon, where assisted suicide is legal and it wound up being a large part of the reason why I was so successful in my studies. One of my theories, I felt, was proven right away when I noticed the flicker. There is always a flicker in the eyes. The moment when you know it is over and the face contorts as though the air has been let out of the balloon, the eyes lose focus, and you can sense the denseness in the room. If you are in the room, you cannot only see it but feel it. It is why your body aches and weeps when it recognizes it. But the flicker was always different and the intensity of that moment seemed to be determined by the strength of the emotion at the time of death.

The first time I noticed the intensity difference was during my 12th assisted suicide in Oregon. He was a 65-year-old father of two sons; divorced, lymphoma and alone.  During one of our sessions, this one in particular being hypnosis, he shared how he molested his youngest boy and how this was the reason he lost his wife and children. After convincing his sons to be there to witness his death and shortly after he took the correct pill combinations, he made his final apologies and confessions and said, “This is not my escape but rather my gift to you for all I have done.” You can sense that his moment was not one of sadness or anger, but rather one of sacrifice and intense love and peace that only comes with giving and forgiveness…or at least in his mind, repaying a great debt. While his sons had a different take on the matter after the deed was done, this father’s moment of eternity had been decided, and more importantly was chosen by him.

Which meant the moment could be manipulated. And so with each patient in which I felt I could garner their unyielding trust, I expressed my theories. Theories on how when your life flashes before your eyes it’s your minds way of condensing all of your emotional experiences into one file, your soul, and how that is what carries on to God, the Source, the Creator, the Universe, whatever you may believe. How the bright light you see is your soul as it moves on; how out of body experiences are your body’s way of rejecting death; how the presence that those in the room feel may be an unknown physical or metaphysical psychopomp of some sort.

And then I gave them a choice: will your gift for eternity be random in nature or do you want it to be the most powerful emotion you had in your life? When they made the choice what they did not realize is that this emotion could be anything. We would not know until it revealed itself through our therapy and hypnosis sessions. To ensure their commitment to my project, they could not know what it was either. And so we constantly trained when we could. I had to teach their body and mind, through hypnosis, to recognize a pattern of sounds and words that would instantly bring them back to their most intense emotional experience quick enough to be there at their dying moment. This had to be done, not only to ensure no outside influences would interrupt, but to protect against the legal ramifications of such actions. Thankfully, we were always successful.

I understood that this was my duty…my compassion and understanding to those in the greatest of need for both…to shepherd them out of this world. They were always thankful and there was always emotion…and it always one of my 6 emotional triggers. There was the love of the delusional pedophile. There was the joy that Joan felt when her pregnancy test came back positive after 8 years of trying to conceive with her husband. There was the rage that Bill felt in that courtroom as the drunken driver, who killed his wife and 2 children, asked the prosecutor, “What was that stupid bitch doing on the road at 2am anyway?” There was the surprise and astonishment Ellen felt when, 6 years after declared killed in action, her son calls to say hello as a former prisoner of war. There was the fear…that fear in my sisters’ eyes as I watched her drown many years ago, looking up at me without understanding and even worse, without hope.
And now here I am with my great contribution to the Universe…my eternal sadness. The sorrow I felt for my mother as I watched a part of her die as she lovingly stroke the hair of my cold, pale sister. The suffering and anguish I felt for my parents as they dealt with the effects of the tragedy which I am sure ended their life sooner than was expected. But most of all, my 43 years of unquenchable and unburdened guilt and remorse for nudging her into that pool; a jealous reaction to the affection my mother gave to her that was unprovoked and unshared. Yes, this shall be my contribution.

I hear my Reaper’s whispers louder now, my lovely Shepherd, explaining to me that I am Her and always have been and how I have been preparing for this moment for years. I hear the throaty screams of my train’s whistle. A train…how befitting…the vehicle I’ve chosen to move on from this life…more dramatic of course but equally as effective as a turkey bag but without the fanfare of sniffling loved ones.  It is a vessel that brings souls onto future destinations with a conductor who is responsible to get them there…steadfast, true and always punctual. This choice of mine could not have been coincidence.

As the cold and rusty tracks begin to rumble under my ear, the force of Her continued words strike me harder than this train ever could. Before my contribution can be given to the Source, my usher explains, I must continue my life’s work until the next one like me, one who understands the meaning of life and death as eloquently as I have, comes to pass.

At what would be my moment of eternity, She explains, “The answers you have sought are here, my dear, and with them come your prize. As you have done impeccably well for all these years you must withstand your misery for much longer. You see, my beautiful replacement, there is no escape with death. For you now must become…Death.”

By StupidDialUp

First Date

We met on OkCupid. I don’t like admitting this, but unfortunately there is no time left for shame or reputation.

I had just been through a pretty rough break-up and I didn’t feel like the whole bar-pickup-routine yet. But browsing around for potential rebounds on the internet meant I could just continue sitting at home in my boxershort living on Jack Daniels and frozen pizza. We’ve all been there.

So, there she was. Brunette. Great figure, fierce eyes and a snarling smile.
Her screen name was ‘Araneae’ and she was a beacon of attractiveness in a sea of otherwise rather mediocre women at best. Her written profile was a bit awkward though. It seemed filled out in a rush, hardly giving any info. The only thing she did elaborate on was sex. She made it really clear that this was a big priority, making me think that this was either a fake profile or that of somebody with nymphomaniac tendencies. But those pictures. God. I clearly remember her sitting straight up with her legs crossed, naked but obscured by her long hair and shadows. Mockingly looking straight at the camera, as if to say ‘good luck, you bunch of socially awkward nerds’.

Writing this is the only way I can get my mind off of what’s to come. So forgive me if I digress, but escaping in this writing is all I’ve got left.

Actually, I didn’t even feel like messaging her. If it wasn’t a fake profile she probably got hundreds of messages from desperate guys anyway. Now, I’m not a bad looking guy, and this whole internet dating thing was just a convenient way to get back on the saddle, but still she seemed a bit out of my league. I was really wondering why the fuck she needed to be on a site like this.

Then she messaged me.

‘So yeah, I saw you checked out my profile. You seem different than the other guys. Wanna meet up?’ – Nea.’

Really? This easy? A small pinch of distrust gnawed at me. Then I took a look at the overflowing ashtrays and whisky bottles littering my room. I scratched my two week old beard. Ahw hell.

We met up in a bar. It would’ve been much better for this story if it was a seedy place, but it wasn’t. Neither was it swanky. It was just one of those regular bars, one that was convenient for both of us. It didn’t matter though, even if we had met in a sewage processing plant I’d still have been completely smitten with her.
As soon as she stepped in, all the guys in the bar turned their heads. And I am not exaggerating here. ALL the guys turned to look at her. And followed her with their heads as she walked up to me and kissed me on the cheek. I felt like the coolest dude in the world at that moment.

I hear sirens. Could it be that finally…no, they passed. I don’t know exactly how much time has passed, but I’m sure I’ve been reported missing by now.

So there she was. Tall. Low cut black dress. Eyeliner around almond eyes that made her face even more feral. That snarling smile baring perfectly straight teeth. And her smell, God, that smell. It was overwhelming. Musky. Animal. But I never met anyone that smelled that good. Every time she moved her arm to emphasize a word or raise her glass of wine I caught it, and it drove me wild. Each little whiff of that mesmerizing scent got me closer to a primal state of pure sexual lust.

We talked for maybe an hour. She was a good conversationalist, but there was still something awkward about our talks. It seemed she had no interest at all in regular topics such as music, art or movies. She was very quick in steering the conversation away from that. Back to me. She seemed extremely curious about my last relationship and history with women. I told her some funny stories about awkward moments I’ve had with women, at which she laughed before pressing on with the questions. I’ve never talked that much about sex on a first date ever, and she greedily ate up every one of my stories.

We went to her place that same night. I offered to take her to dinner but she said we could ‘order in’. Knowing perfectly well what that meant, I hastily paid the tab and basically hijacked the first taxi available.
As soon as we got in, she was all over me. If she hadn’t had her hand down my pants I might’ve taken notice of the address she gave the cab driver. If she hadn’t been smothering me with aggressive kisses the entire trip I might’ve known where the hell I am right now. But she’s smart like that.

As soon as we were inside (passionately making out the whole way from the cab to the front door) she offered me a drink. Her apartment was bare, all the blinds were closed and she had hardly any furniture. No pictures on the walls either. I didn’t think much of it then, thought she was probably one of those minimalists.
The cocktail she brought me was refreshing. Kind of like a Sidecar, really sour and tangy. But delicious at the same time.

Then she jumped me again. She threw me on the couch, one of the few pieces of furniture she owned, and before I knew it we were ravaging each other. I’m not writing this for you to get your kicks, so I won’t go into details. But it was hard. It was mean. Her scent unleashed all my primal desires. It was heaven.

Until the room started spinning. Until our movements got me into a trance and I started tripping out. I couldn’t move. And then the flashes started. Her perfect body distorting for milliseconds. There were too many black eyes. There were spindly, chitinous legs. Sometimes her body seemed to exist of too many sections. And her smell, so mesmerising at first, became rotten and dusty. Like flies that have been drying for too long in a windowsill. Her nails in my chest started to hurt, but she was still riding me with grim determination.
The flashes became quicker, like a stroboscope. She kept changing before me. Legs. Eyes. Mandibles. Chitin. Flesh. Teeth. I was horrified. I wanted to cry, to gag, to get out, but she had me pinned.

And I came.

As soon as I did, she started laughing. A horrible, triumphant laugh, while I lay sobbing beneath her. But suddenly the laughing made place for a snarl. A disgusted, disappointed grunt. She screamed. That scream. That horrible, animal, otherworldly scream. I still shudder when I think of it. She looked down at me with fierce hatred in her eyes, and started to maul me.

She beat me black and blue. I think she even broke my nose. I was covered in a flurry of punches, bites and scratches until I passed out.

And woke up in this room. This room filled with human bones. This windowless room with those strange, dried up leathery egg shaped things. Egg shaped things with holes in them, like something had crawled out some time ago.
I can hear her scuttling outside. Once or twice a day she comes in to bring me a sandwich and some water. Sometimes she sits with me and strokes my hair.

I think I know what she wants from me. I think I know why she´s keeping me alive. I must´ve been here for nearly a month now. It´ll be that time again soon.

I wonder how long it takes for her to find out I´m infertile.

by TeawithCrowley

Jellyfish

Let me tell you something about jellyfish.

    A typical jellyfish goes through four stages in life: it starts out as a floating larvae, which looks for a suitable site to evolve into a polyp, which then eventually strobilates into a medusa, or, the form of the jellyfish we are most familiar with. Strobilation means that the polyp pushes off a part of itself that becomes a medusa.
    Now, if that isn’t fascinating enough for you, there are also a species of jellyfish that can revert their medusa form back to the polyp stage, which then again creates a medusa, which can revert back to a polyp and so on.
    Basically, this type of jellyfish is immortal.
    As you probably can imagine, modern medical science is very much interested in this species. Very much indeed. I should know, because, well, let’s just say II have a ‘friend’ that used to experiment with this specific jellyfish exactly for that reason.
    My friend is a synthetic biologist, meaning he knows all about genes and how to manipulate, reproduce or alter them. So needless to say, when he got invited to join a project that gave him all the time and resources to truly study these creatures, he didn’t need to be asked twice.
    It started out innocently. The pharmaceutical company paying for the operation stayed out of it, and he had a lovely laboratory filled with all the equipment and assistants he could possibly need. Microscopes, separation centrifuges, a powerful analytic computer and of course state of the art salt water tanks with all the climate controlling options necessary. Months went by while he happily did his research, studying the jellyfish in it’s various stages. Analyzing it’s genetic structure, doing tests, basically practicing good, honest science.
    Then he isolated a couple of genes that might be of use. Genes controlling rejuvenation and transformation of the species. And of course, that’s when things went bad.
    It started with the new tanks coming in. Their shape and size had nothing to do with jellyfish. Then the assistants he had grown to like and trust all got fired one by one. New assistants came in, but they seemed cold, distant. Oh, they’d do what he’d tell them, but there was no friendly banter, no jokes, just bare professionalism. Then came the semen. And the ova. Human semen and ova. And he knew what was expected of him. He went to work.
    Changes were made to the laboratory while he worked. One part was cleared and a glass room build into it, outfitted with a bed, a table, a television, one of the new tanks and something that could only be an echoscope machine.
    One day, an employee of the undisclosed pharmaceutical company walked in. ‘Are you ready?’ he asked. My friend knew what the man meant. He tried to explain that while he had managed to add parts of the isolated DNA to both sperm and eggs and could potentially fertilise the egg with the modified sperm, they were no way in hell far enough to take the experiment further. The man’s reply was simple: ‘My employees think you are’.
    Any sane men would have stopped right there, but my friend had gone so obsessed and fascinated by his research that he let his curiosity get the better of him. So they brought in the woman. Young. Scared. Meth scabs on her face. It was obvious it was either this or getting beat up by her pimp for her. They put her in the room, supplied him with the necessary amounts of pharmaceutically engineered methylamphetamine to keep her from going cold turkey and that was that.
    He kept her there for a week at first just to clean her up, to put her on a healthy diet (well, as healthy as you can get while regularly administering generous doses of methylamphetamine in the meantime) and watched her getting more and more comfortable. I can’t even begin to imagine what her previous life would’ve been like if she’d prefer the sterile environment of this laboratory over it. She asked him to call her Lucy.
    After a week he couldn’t hold back his ‘assistants’ any longer. It was time for Lucy to be inseminated.
    He spend hours talking to Lucy the next months. He got to know her pretty well, and while she was not the brightest of the bunch, she was cooperative and liked to joke around. The contrast with her and his surly new assistants was so big it was hard for him not to take a liking to her.
    Then her mood changed. She started talking less and used to sit on the bed for hours, just staring at the tanks of jellyfish and polyps in the lab. When she was halfway through her pregnancy she stopped eating until the day some assistants were having sashimi for lunch. Suddenly she said she was hungry again and could she have some please. She ate nothing but raw fish and seaweed after this.
    Once a week another doctor came in to do the echoscopes, which were carefully hidden from my friend for some reason. Sometimes he tried to peek over the doctors shoulder but there were always some assistants ‘accidentally’ in the way for him to see anything. The face of the doctor meanwhile might’ve been cut from stone. No expression there that’d give away anything.
    A month before labor Lucy stopped talking altogether. She barely reacted to anybody, just sitting on the edge of her bed and staring. The only thing that could get any reaction out of her, if ever so brief, were the two daily doses of methylamphetamine she was still on. Since they were monitoring her day and night, they found out that she had also stopped sleeping. At least, as far as they could call her current state ‘awake’.
    My friend did sleep however, although he wished he didn’t. The dreams were atrocious. Something was talking to him, wetly, but always just beyond understanding. He often woke to the feeling of tendrils on his face, stinging him straight out of sleep. Must be the strain of the experiments, he figured.
    Then Lucy died. She just, well, stopped. With tears in his eyes he called his superior, to whom her death was obviously no concern. Within half an hour a team of men in hazmat suits barged into the lab and obscured the glass room with plastic sheets. He wasn’t allowed in, but he could hear things. A sickening ripping sound. Something, hardly human, that could’ve been the sound of a baby crying, had the sound not been so, for lack of a better term, gelatinous. It took them only fifteen minutes to walk out with one of the special, later delivered tanks. He couldn’t see what was in it for the briny liquid that filled it halfway to the top. Only a vague floating shape. A vague, moving, floating shape.
    After that it was all “thanks for your cooperation professor,” “hope to work with you again.” and then “off you go.” Of course, he never heard from any of them again, let alone worked with them.
    My friend still dreams every night, but now the moist, sloshing voice is more understandable. A lot of what it says he still can not decipher, but the final message, right before he wakes up, is always clear:

“Let me tell you something about jellyfish. Basically, they are immortal.”

by TeawithCrowley

(This was an exciting story for me because, as some of you may know, the New York Times recently published an article on this very subject.)

A New Friend

I’m putting this out there to see if anyone else has had this experience or is it my fate to be alone in this? I hope someone will contact me with an answer to add some logic to all of this.

    It felt like we had unpacked all the boxes last week when dad’s job relocated… again. I guess constantly moving has its perks, like being able to see different parts of the country. “New Jersey here we come!” dad said in a somewhat overly cheerful voice as we pulled out of our suburban California home for the last time. The look on mom’s face was perplexed. I could not tell if she was upset or hopeful about the move. If I had to pick I would have said she almost looked relieved…
    After a long silent drive with nothing to listen to other than my dad’s self-help cassettes, we pulled up to an antique-looking neighborhood. It reminded me of a place straight out of my mom’s favorite black and white detective movies. The “For Sale” sign in the yard looked as if it had been untouched for years. The paint on the front door was chipping and the hinges creaked loudly as dad pushed opened the door. The power was not on yet, which might have been a good thing. I did not want to see what critters were hiding in the dark crevices beneath the floor boards. I could tell my mom was not thrilled about the house. “Here we go,” I thought. My dad was going to get an ear full. Instead of listening to them fight again, I went back to the car to start bringing in boxes.
    Standing in the front yard, I notice a large black walnut tree in the lot across the street. In the tree was a boy about my age. He had curly blonde hair and was wearing overalls with holes in the knees and a turtleneck underneath. He was really high up in the tree. I did not want to admit it, but I was impressed and slightly jealous. I don’t remember how long I stared, but it startled me when he suddenly turned and began staring back. I acted as if I didn’t notice and continued to bring the rest of the boxes in.
    The next day was Monday, my mom took me to my new school. By the look on her face you would have thought that she was the new kid not me. It made me wonder what I was not catching onto. I was used to being the new kid; used to the looks, whispers, and odd stories about our past. None of the teachers made too much of a fuss about having to review half a quarters worth of lessons in a week for me. Surprisingly, I did not have to endure the baby talk either. That was the worst part about moving often: There typically was at least one teacher who thought it was nice to “take me under their wing” and talk to me as if I had only been in school a few days of my life. At lunch I sat at a table by myself, which was fine by me because who knew how long I’d be here anyway. Plus, who enjoys repeating their life story to complete strangers pretending like they care. The final bell rang and instead of taking the bus I decided to walk home, less likely to run into someone.
    The air was warm and the leaves were bright and crisp. When I turned onto our street, I saw the boy in the tree again. This time he called out to me. I figured I had not talked to anyone all day, I might as well talk to him. At least that way I would have something to say when my mom interrogated me at dinner. The closer I walked to the towering tree, the colder I felt. I blamed it on the shadow of the branches not letting the sun come through. Before I had time to concentrate on the temperature the boy called out again. “Jimmy, the name’s Jimmy – what’s yours?” he was asking.
    “Ben. I’m Ben” I replied.
    “I saw you come in yesterday. How long you reckon’ you’ll stay?” Jimmy asked, almost yelling. He must have thought he was higher in the tree than he really was. Why would he ask how long we would stay we just moved in?
    “Not sure, as long as my dad’s job keeps I guess, how long have you lived here?” I answered.
    We continued our conversation for quite some time. I found out that he had lived in the same house his whole life. That must be a nice feeling, never having to pick up and move all the time. Jimmy was quick to say the same thing about my life. He said he wished he had been able to move as often as I did. The grass is always greener, I guess.
    Everyday after school I would sit under the tree talking up to Jimmy. When my mom would ask about school I would change the subject and talk to her about Jimmy. At first she seemed upset, but after a while she began to relax as I told her more details and I could see that her smile was more genuine and less forced at the dinner table. Dad was always focusing on work, which gave me more time to talk to Jimmy. Looking back, for being so young, Jimmy sure did know a lot. He even knew what I should tell my parents in order to be able to spend more time with him.
    Seasons changed and it began to snow outside. Jimmy did not have a jacket, but he never said he was cold. Jimmy said he went to a special school that let out early and so he was always in the tree when I left for school and when I came home. I wanted to go to Jimmy’s school so I could see him more often, but my mom could never find the time to look into switching me and she would not go across the street to talk to Jimmy’s parents. So I remained a loner at my school and Jimmy at his. Then spring came.
    One afternoon when I came home from school, Jimmy was angry. I had not seen him that mad before. He told me that his parents wanted to cut down his tree. He was really distraught. What would he do without his tree? It was the only time I had seen him cry. I tried to calm him down. I told him we would find him another tree, but he would not accept that answer. He said he wanted my parents to talk to his parents in order to persuade them to keep the tree. He said that they would only listen to other adults and, whatever we did, not to mention him. He told me if they mentioned him then the whole thing would be ruined. It had to be my parents’ idea.
    At dinner that night, I asked my mom what she thought of the tree. She told me it was a beautiful tree; a nice change of scenery from the California palm trees. I told her that they were going to cut it down unless she told them how wonderful the tree was. I begged her to talk to them. I could tell she was nervous. She coughed and told me that adults do things differently. She said she could not go over there and do that because adults mind their own business and cannot control what other people do with their property. Then her expression grew sad and she said that she sympathized with my love for the tree.
    Jimmy did not take the news well. He told me that he was going to have to take things into his own hands, but I would need to help. He told me to come over to the tree at midnight and he would have a plan by then.
    I did not sleep at all that night. I was so scared of what he was going to say. I didn’t think I was going to like his plan. Jimmy had been so upset. When the clock hit 12:00, I climbed out of my window and Jimmy was already in the tree. He told me that I needed to burn his parents’ house down. I told him that was crazy; that we couldn’t do that. If we burned the house down we would go to prison. He then began to tell me horrible, horrible stories of terrible things his parents used to do to him. He told me that the tree was his only safe place. I tried to calm him down again, telling him that I would come up with a plan and if my plan did not work than we would try his – but he had to give me some time. Jimmy agreed.
    At breakfast that morning, after my dad had left on a weekend business trip, I told my mom I needed to have a serious conversation. I tried to explain how important the tree was. I wanted to start a protest, get the police involved, anything in order to keep the tree there. My mom was a nervous wreck. I could see that she was muttering something to herself, but I couldn’t make it out. My heart sank. She wasn’t going to help me.
    I didn’t know what else to do. I knew Jimmy was serious about burning down the house. I had to stop him. I ran across the street. I passed Jimmy and covered my ears to block out his screams. I knocked on the door and a gray-haired woman opened the door. His parents were older than I imagined. I ran into their front room weeping, begging them not to cut the tree down. I had word vomit. I didn’t even take a moment to catch my breath. I told them how special the tree was to their son, Jimmy. The woman fell to her knees and stared vacantly at the floor. The man swore at me and then literally picked me up and threw me out of his house. He told me to stop playing cruel games.
    I did not understand. The man followed me home and talked to my mother. I ran to my room upstairs, but I could hear their voices through the cracks in the floor. The man was yelling at my mom who was trying just to get a word in. He told my mom that Jimmy… Jimmy was dead. He said Jimmy had been dead for 20 years.
    Why would he lie?! I snuck out of my window and went to get Jimmy. I didn’t even make it across the street before I stopped. A man was already beginning to cut the tree down. I looked up into the tree. Jimmy was still up there, but now he looked different. His skin was unusually pale. Underneath Jimmy’s turtleneck was a rope. Jimmy was hanging from the tree by his neck. He couldn’t talk to me anymore. I screamed. The whole town must have heard me. I screamed for the man to stop. I thought he was killing Jimmy. The man stared at me. He said there was no kid in the tree.
    That night when my dad came home I could hear him talking with my mom. She was really upset. She just kept saying, “Why our son, why Ben? Why everywhere we go does this happen?”
    And then I remembered: We didn’t keep moving because of my dad’s job. We keep moving because of the friends I keep making…

by Thia

It’s Cold Outside

I don’t know if this is going to scare you guys, but it sure has me freaked out.

    My family just moved here a few months ago from the coast and this winter has been the first time I’ve ever seen snow. Growing up on the beach, you take great weather and sandy beaches for granted. I know a lot of people dream of vacationing in what was my backyard, but to me the most exotic thing in the world is snow. So I was pretty excited when we moved here and even more so when we got our first real snow just a few days ago. It began snowing while we were in class and the first thing I did when we got out was try to start a snowball fight. This only pissed off my friends who are sick of the stuff after having spent their whole lives surrounded by it, but I loved it. I didn’t even mind learning the hard way that snow will still melt and you’ll have to walk the entire way home with freezing wet clothes.
    As soon as I got home I changed my clothes and hung my red, light jacket in my closet in favor of only heavy coat. Even though I’m a teenager now and probably a bit too old for this kind of thing, I immediately ran back outside and began building a snowman. Our house is at the end of a cul-de-sac, so I wasn’t worried about anyone seeing me and spent the rest of the afternoon sculpting my frozen dopplegänger. The end result was slightly misshapen, but I thought it was perfect for my first attempt.
    Later that evening, my parents went out a Christmas party and told me that they would not be back until late. I didn’t think much of this because I usually spend my nights in my room either watching television or on the internet. It was the same story this night and it was sometime after midnight when I fell asleep. I wasn’t asleep for long though before a loud banging on the back door woke me up. My parents had come home drunk before, but never so drunk that they couldn’t open the door. I began to head downstairs when I glanced out the window. Their car wasn’t in the driveway. I paused. The knocking got louder and faster. It sounded angry; almost desperate. I moved back towards my bed where my phone was in case I was going to need to call the police. The knocking was now so loud that I thought the door was going to give way. I turned on my phone and began punching in the numbers when the noise suddenly stopped. In the dreadful silence, I tried to hear any sounds over the thunder of my pulse. Nothing. Were they waiting outside the door? The I heard the sound. A shrill, high-pitched moan, almost like air being slowed released from a balloon. It only sounded once, and I’m still not sure that it wasn’t my own breath caught in my tightened throat, but it left me shaking. For the rest of the night I sat in my bed listening to the darkness and fighting the thought that whoever it was hadn’t really left. Eventually my parents came home, but they were drunk and I knew that there was no use in trying to explain what had happened.
    The next morning I woke up to find that someone had destroyed my snowman. Probably some of my friends, I thought. In a way, I was actually relieved. It made sense of the night before. Some of my friends must have come over, knocked down my snowman, and then banged on the door trying to scare me because they knew that my parents weren’t home. I couldn’t believe that I had let them scare me like that. The only thing that puzzled me was that they had written “It’s so cold outside” in the snow around my snowman.
    After school, I ran home and began rebuilding my snowman. I was not going to let my friends have the last laugh. That night my parents stayed home and I didn’t give a second thought to my friends’ pranks. Since it was a Friday night, I was still awake long after my parents had gone to sleep. I was sitting at my computer when the knocking began again. It was quiet at first, but still sharp. Like dry bone striking the door. I looked at the clock. It read 4:00 a.m.. The knocking grew louder. I moved towards the window and looked out over our back porch. I could see a shadow standing at the door. It appeared to be wrapped in black rags and very thin. I heard my dad moving downstairs. “Is somebody knocking at the door?” he asked in a voice that let me know he still wasn’t fully awake. “Yes, I can see someone out there!” I yelled down the stairs. I heard him turn on the porch light and I looked back out the window. Nothing. The shadow had vanished. I saw my dad step out onto the porch. He stood there for a moment, looking around, before swearing at the cold and going back to bed. The next morning my snowman again lay in pieces, surrounded by the words, “It’s so cold outside.”
    I wasn’t sure what my friend were up to, but I nearly panicked when my parents told me that they were going to another Christmas party that night. I spent my Saturday afternoon rebuilding my snowman and even added a mother and father to make a snow family. As the sun began to set, I tried calling some of my friends to see if I could stay the night at their house, but all of them said they were busy. “I’ll bet you are,” I thought to myself. As soon as it got dark, I turned on the porch light and went upstairs to my room, confident that no one would dare knock on the door with the light on. I watch some television and then fell asleep.
    I woke up to the sound of heavy breathing. In the darkness of my room it took me several seconds to realize that it was my own breathing. I took a deep breath, but my pulse continued to race wildly. My eyes began to adjust to the darkness. My room appeared to be empty, but I feel something, a presence, weighing down upon me. I knew that the television remote was beside my bed, but I also knew that if I moved even a single muscle, it would alert whatever was in my room that I was awake. I remained frozen. Even though I couldn’t see anything, I knew that something was moving, shifting in the darkness. I felt faint, as if I would pass out from the terror. My heart was palpitating and threatening to stop altogether. As my head began to spin from the lack of oxygen being carried to it, I felt a cold blast of air on my feet. The sensation crept slowly up my paralyzed body from legs to my chest to my constricted throat. It paused there. I felt as though I was choking. It was too much. I don’t know if was my heart or my brain that gave out first, but in that final moment of terror I slipped into unconsciousness.
    The sun was shining when I awoke the next morning. I had headache as I made my way to the bathroom and then down to the kitchen. My parents were eating breakfast and looking slightly hungover.  Everything appeared to be perfectly normal. I looked out the front window to see if my snow family had survived the night. The mother and father were missing, as if someone had carried them off, and my original snowman was covered in something red. Still in my pajamas, I ran out into the snow to find that it was my red jacket. The one I had hung in my closet the first day it snowed. A new message had been written in the snow: “We’re still cold.”

by Ward Hocut