new tree in the yard

you will have focused intently on the tree in the yard. you will have asked yourself again, but for the first time aloud, if it had appeared in a low whisper of unnoticing. you will have gone about your day. in an instant, like a sound so small and low one only feels it, you will have seen that tree hanging again in the bedroom window. and wondered again. and pushed it away. and gone about your day. and wondered. and pushed and wondered. and the push will have needed more effort each time

your wife will have come home from work and kissed you. you will have obliged, forgetting the tree until she was gone from you. the image of it will have flooded back in pieces like a memory of a dream as you rounded the kitchen table, not listening for his little cry in the space above. the tree will have been hanging over instead. a bath of thought for your peace to sit and digest in. you will have exchanged pleasantries with her, and she will have noticed that you were not all there. that some of you was out in the yard

you okay? she will have asked.

this is going to sound, um… kind of weird, i guess, you will have said.

she’ll’ve smiled.

well, that’s not out of the ordinary.

you’ll’ve laughed a little.

yeah, i guess not. it’s nothing really, just… was that tree out front… always there?

her eyebrow will have moved together. she’ll’ve laughed a short little laugh.

the one out front? with the moss growing up it?

you’ll’ve nodded.

yeah, was that there when we first moved out here?

she will have opened her mouth, pausing for a moment in something like a smirk.

i mean… yeah? what do you mean? it’s a full-grown tree, we’ve only been here, uh… like three years. in october.

you’ll’ve nodded.

yeah, i know, it’s just like… didn’t i used to park right there, like when we first moved out here?

she’ll’ve shook her head.

you parked behind. remember, you parked too close that one time. you, uh, you dinged the car door on it.

you will not have remembered, but nod again.

okay. yeah, okay. i don’t know what i was thinking.

she will have smiled, embracing you. you will have wrapped your arms around her, moved your hands in circles on her back. the baby crying

you will have looked at it through the front window for a long, long while. you will have clutched the curtain until the joints of your fingers cried out in vivid white. you will have begun to mumble under your breath. will it have been there when your child will have been born? will it have stood in the window while you embraced the woman who will have been your wife and touched her forehead softly with your mouth?

in the course of wandering back and forth in a loop from the opening of the kitchen, into the living room, and over to the window overlooking the couch, you will have touched your wife on the head absent-mindedly ten times now to comfort her. Your movements will have become rough, you will have almost hurt her. She will have narrowed her brow at the table, book hanging limp in her hand

why has that tree got you so worked up, she will have asked.

you will have looked at her with strange, unending eyes.

i swear to god, that tree wasn’t there when we moved here. because remember, you wanted to take those pictures in the bedroom when it was, like, golden hour or whatever. and the light was coming… in the window… and now, um, now you can’t see the light… in the window anymore.

she’ll’ve walked to you as you will have been speaking and put her arms around your body.

it’s okay, she’ll’ve said, you’re just tired. sit down, let’s watch something.

you will have laid your head into her.

i just… am i going insane? am i just…

you will have started crying. your eyes will have given way and dribbled over her. she will have held you close to her, and you her. there will have been a weird silence. where comfort should have been, but you will have only felt the tree out there, in the space beyond. watching. upstairs, the baby erupting

ten days. you will have wandered the whole house in a loop for ten days. you will have told her not to look at it, that there will have been pieces of it coming in the room and connecting to you and they would likewise connect to her and drag her around the house. she will have given up showing her concern, instead tending to the baby as you will have paced. you will not have gone to work, you will not have slept. you will have withered into two legs walking and a rushing mind. Into an ache of odd, blank looks

the last day. the baby will fall asleep. you will sit in the chair facing the window and mumble. mumble what? prayers? something like prayers, prayers to me. to get your act together. she comes down the stairs in one trudging step after another. her feet sound heavy, her expression is the same. she stands beside you with her arms limp at her side and her hands curling and uncurling in tight, weak little fists

you will be on your knees on the couch, slumped over the sill and staring at the tree

…cannot keep living like this. i love you, i…

you will have seen it move a little bit in the corner of your eye. you will not stop looking

…a-and, i can’t take care of him all… all alone, anymore. you’ve got to do something, therapy or…

you will think back. first night back from your honeymoon, the moon will have come unfiltered through the window. the day you and her and the baby will have laid out there on a blanket in the yard, looking up uninterrupted at the clouds. not too long ago

…even listening to me?

she will grab your shoulder. you will turn to her, breathing heavy. beard unkempt, eyes sunken and off-white, mouth agape.

her mouth will quiver. tears will begin down her cheeks, she will shake her head.

i-i’m sorry. i’m sorry. i don’t know how to help you. i j-just don’t understand wh-what’s going on… the tree’s been there. it’s been there since we moved…

your eyes narrow.

don’t you think i would remember it? why don’t i remember that tree, if its been… out there?

i-i don’t know. i don’t know, maybe… maybe you just…

maybe i just what? maybe i’m going nuts, huh?

she will weep. standing alone in the middle of the living room. you point out the window behind you, still glaring at her.

it’s something… more… than a tree. it’s like… something that leaked in… from, um, from somewhere else. you understand? a-and it’s coming in the window… y-you can’t see… it’s coming in the window and going…

you motion to your head.

…going into us. like into our… heads. it wasn’t there. because remember, remember sitting out there and… and we looked… at sh-shapes, at clouds and… showed the, the baby… remember?

she shakes her head. whole body shaking.

i can’t do this anymore. i can’t be here…

the baby will cry now. opening the house up in tight, resonating sirens that compress against the ceiling and pierce in your ears. your face will flush.

it’s going into him, it’s going into him, like needles…

you will stand still while it goes on and on

now, you pace in much the same abandon. you look out at your yard, pull the curtain away. pretty curtain to tear the light to a stripe across your eye. and out in the yard there is nothing at all. it is a calm and pretty day. it is a lovely birdsong sinking into the interior of your apartment, the carpet and the walls.

you sit back down on the couch and trace the corners of the apartment with your eyes. there is no one, no wife and no child and no tree. there is only me. and if you do not believe that you will see these things, let me assure you that you will.

if you do not believe in your own failure, you will.

as you whittle into a stump, you will.

as the good in you dies slowly, weathered down to gnashing-teeth tendons grinding your legs around to the cadence of your racing mind, you will.

and when i stand over you in wave upon wave of what you will have become, begging you decades ago to open your head to the bright lines of the pretty curtain

you will

Parade of Forms, Movement 1- The Coming and Going of a Grand Center

From the dense, metallic middle sprouts a set of arms which marry a sense of specialized mechanical pieces with the uncanny biological precision of insect legs. It sweeps rapidly across your field of vision. There is no sound that you’re able to associate with its mechanisms. Perhaps it is only drowned out by the grand, terrible roar of the air it pulls away as it passes.

Accompanying the space about it, you notice that where you have previously perceived nothing, there is actually a sparkling field of pinpoints. There are some which leap, primary-colored or stark white, and the monochrome fuzz of the points behind them gives a sense of depth and contrast. The insectoid middle form does not disrupt them. It seems that the field is between you and the writhing form. The brightest pinpoints do not leap where its body is, only the drab backdrop of unmoving points accompany its shape.

To either side, balancing the snapshot you perceive, are two forms. One, slightly larger, pulses in time with the moving of the legs. It is difficult for you to make out. Your instinct is to ignore it, but the details manifest as you try and look. Bulbous, organic shapes obscure the center form they are joined to. Unlike the great metallic center form, which floats menacingly across your vision again and again, this form is alive with colored pops. They are so vibrant over top of this form that they seem almost to be a part of it. The bulbous shapes of the form grow and condense rhythmically. You feel almost ashamed to have not noticed this form. It is beautiful and warm. It moves in way that implies both a controlling current and autonomy at the same time.

To the other side, the smaller form. This form strikes you almost like an underdeveloped version of the previous one. The details are even harder to make out, but you push yourself. Your view of it sharpens. The bulbs of it are sharper, thorn-like, but blunted. They are not so wide that you cannot see the center. The bulbs taper to short stalk-like tendrils that end with socket joints at the base of the form’s center. This form, overall, is cooler but not unpleasant. It is a cold, mottled blue which fades to purple and green in places.

Upon closer inspection, the field of points do not pop so much here but they are present. For the first time, you notice purple and green points in the field alongside the primary colors and the white. The center of the form is stalk-like, thick and ruddy, roughly textured. It is calm and perhaps weary. Your eyes move between the forms. Both are lovely and strange to see, but there is something about them which is blurred. Your vision is being pulled back to the center, to the metal insect form, and you oblige.

It has change subtly. Now, where the legs meet it’s center, the shape of them continues in ridges along it’s underside. Perhaps it has simply turned over. This side is still metallic, but is formed of a darker, more textured metal. Perhaps pulled against a rougher surface. It is shining also with colors, bent and pulled about it’s contours like a reflection; yes, it is a reflection of the sea of pinpoints. Dark, untextured reflection that is not an ideal recreation but an impression. The colors are flatter and darker but more varied, they are blended to a gradient and arranged into a sheen rather than a buzzing ocean.

As the form sweeps by, it makes changes. In a blink, the backdrop of points is altered. The field is no longer only grey but subtly purple as well, gunmetal purple sheen. The color pops lean towards a dull reddish hue, and the yellow and blue that could be seen so brightly before are muted, they do not capture your attention unless you force yourself to look. The points leap more wildly, the waves of the pinprick sea become violent and bending. The points appear to move more uniformly, appear to leap out towards you. Are some points bigger, or closer two you? Are the center points in the various swells leaping out or growing, multiplying like cells?

The forms to either side are changed as well. They have grown slightly, but are the same size in relation to each other. The first form is stretched, expanding the matter it contains into grander, more inflated bulbs. There is tension to this form now, and the ease it first communicated has dissipated somewhat. Its bright colors seem out of place now, still shining behind sea of points but duller from your viewpoint. The second form has grown as well, but it is denser as well. It has grown longer, thicker, more sure. Its colors hum and vibrate as the points begin to match them. It is still smaller in relation to the other form. The sum of its matter has been added to.

The forms are building to a great release. They are brought to the summit of what they are, to breaking point or transfiguration. The field shivers and shakes, the points begin to warp along the center-form and caress it. How the bright middle pulses achingly, funny legs going and blurring together so that you can’t tell how many there are. The colors of this place seem to glow, they glow into the forms, so that the points and the forms and the place that you are meld into one. In the scream of the pinpoint sea, you open your eyes.

Collision

When I first started passing the quarry, it was a pleasure to see the sun strike at the far corner. Catching man-made facets. It was a long while before I realized that it was different every time. After all these years, I still have to tell myself not to go looking for that quarry, what is like our Eden. What bright things loom will surely follow me with stranger senses than sight, but I will not look. Not again.

The day I first mentioned it to Ada was also the first day I saw the rabbit proper. Strange rabbits were a common sight in the foothills. Sickly, lank, hollow eyes. Dad said the population might be sick. But that day, the looming maw of ears could be nothing so mundane. Coming around the bend, bag of firewood slung on my arm, I stopped for a second to look. Lines of clouds bubbling on the horizon met what little land I could see beyond the cavern, they were tinged with green and dark. Tornadic. Funny how they boiled just past the blue.

My sight was drawn to movement in the basin. Straining my eyes, I could just make out a lumbering little silhouette. A rabbit, or… no, not any rabbit. It hobbled on three legs. Crooked arms dragging behind it. Mottled holes in lieu of ears. It turned and looked at me.

All at once, I was hyperventilating. Dark sound in my ears, so faint I didn’t notice until I turned away and the rush left me. When I looked back the rabbit had left me, too. I wiped my forehead, starting hurriedly on the path. I think the clouds had lost their tint.

Ada was listening to the radio when I came into the shop. Sitting cross-legged, humming along while she idly moved a stub of a pencil over the expanse of butcher paper. Hands smudged grey on the edges as she worked. The paper bore a dark field, dusted with white on the tips of its grasses, a half-finished mountain looming on the other side. I sat on the bench and turned the volume down. She frowned and started to protest, but I cut her off.

“Have you been by the quarry lately?”

She shook her head.

“Not since we’ve been on break. Why, should I have?”

 I looked down at my feet, feeling silly all at once.

“No, I just, um… I’ve just been going out by the school to hang out with Tom and them, and I’ve been going by there.”

“And?”

I shrugged. Why was it so hard to think?

“I just, uh, I just saw some weird stuff there lately.”

Her eyes narrowed.

“What, like an alien or something?”

“Maybe. I saw some weird rabbit sort of thing today. I didn’t get a good look, but… It looked like someone’d cut it’s ears off. And its arms were, like, sort of too long, y’know?”

She raised an eyebrow, expression of mingled concern and incredulity.

“No, I don’t. Are you okay?”

 I shrugged.

“I mean, yeah. I just can’t figure that place out. There was that rabbit thing, and the clouds are, um, they’re different colors than what you’d think. Like green and pink. And I think the rocks are a little different some days than others.”

She looked more worried than anything now.

“Are you okay, Silas?”

 I looked her in the eyes. I’d never seen her look like that.

“I just want you to see it with me.”

 She knit her eyebrows and stood, walked over to me.

“Fine, yeah. Just, do you need to talk to Dad or anything?”

 I shook my head.
              “Nah, I know he’s already worried about me. I don’t want him thinking I’m schizophrenic, too. Just, come out and see it.”

“Now?”

“Yeah, it’s pretty early still. We can make it back before dark.”

I could feel dread mounting as we walked out into the foothills, Ada leading. Familiar ground took sinister turn as it led to some perceived destruction. Of what, I couldn’t tell. Was this path always so winding, so unmarked?

“Does it seem different out here to you?”

“In what way?” Ada said without looking back. I didn’t know myself.

“Just darker or something. More turns.”

“Not that I can tell.” She stopped and turned to face me. “Look, if you’re not good with this, we can turn back.”

 I shook my head.

“No, I want you to see it. I’ll be fine.”

She nodded, kept going.

The clouds were dark brown overhead. Washed in the middle by wavering green sunlight. The basin, overgrown with a mass of overlapping trees, seemed to stretch farther than the eye could follow. I could see no other side.

“What the hell…” Ada said under her breath. She turned her wide eyes to me. “What’s up with this place?”

“I told you! I told you it was screwed up.” The panic started seeping in again, I swallowed it down in pieces.

“You okay?” She said.

 I nodded, but I couldn’t speak. Something was putting pressure where my stomach brushed spine.

All at once, it was there. Some not-a-rabbit, even stranger than before. On the path in front of us. Gaping holes of eyes moving under twitching earpits. Ada shrieked. The feeling of passing out moved in my head but did not pull me down. It turned to me.

You are something new, it spoke. Words buzzing where my spine touched. You are something new. Ada grabbed my arm.

“Do you hear it?”, she whispered.

I didn’t answer. We stood with our eyes locked on the crooked thing, it’s face writhing like worm-ridden, its void of eyes passing us over. You are something new. It took a little step with one of its twisted feet.

Ada grabbed my arm, pulled at me. My eyes gaped, they struggled to take it in. Ada turned suddenly without a word and jumped down the cliffside.

“Silas, run!”, she called.

For a second, I was left alone with it. Its little nose folded further in, reduced to slits. It raised its foot for another step and I bolted after her, rushing over the ravine edge and trying to run down the slope. The crumbling ground shook as I ran, and my footing fled me almost instantly, I managed to pull my body into a roll as my back touched unstable earth. Ada was just getting her footing again when I hit the bottom. I tried to stand, but I fell sideways and slammed into a tree instead, the dark tangle turning circles around my vision. Ada put a hand to my bloodied arm.

“Silas, Silas! You okay? Silas?”

 I choked out a feeble yes, holding a hand to my head.

“What is going on?”, she said. She looked up the slope and her face drained.

“Oh my God, it just keeps going!”

I looked up, too. The slope kept upward, far and away, no sign of where we’d come from. Ada sat down heavily and leaned against a tree, cradling her knees.

“What the hell is this?”, she whimpered, staring at the dirt.

 I shook my head.

“I-I don’t know.”

She looked up at me. Hollow eyes. I held her gaze as second before turning to the yawning forest. The trees, even taller than they’d seemed from the slope, grew into a forest that swallowed all light. Void like rabbit’s eyes. Dark sound growing. I looked back down and met eyes with Ada.

“We’ve got to go, Ada.”

She nodded. We stood there for a few seconds longer, noise sounding, before I helped her up.

The overgrowth blotted all but atom-thin needles of green sun. The lines coming down were spread through the forest, flickering like some great wings were passing the sun overhead. There was no clear path, but the trunks were spaced apart so we could push our way through.

Presently, even the green sun began to fade. Ada and I spoke very little in the passing hours, we just kept stumbling towards some unknown. Sometimes, we would pass a wall of low tone sounding somewhere in the dark, centered in patches of forest that weren’t lit by anything. As the light died, I could hear Ada crying softly. It set me off, too. And finally, with a last flickering moment, the forest faded away to void.

Somehow, neither of us fell in the total dark. I kept my sister’s hand in mine until the space between them dribbled sweat on the forest floor. My legs ached, my throat burned with thirst, and the tips of my feet were blistered raw from pecking away at the systems of roots. The moonlight, fading slowly from green to red, gave little guide.

After what felt like days of walking, I almost fell over on the edge of something hard.

“Ah, dammit!”

“Wh-what is it?” said Ada, trying to keep the shake from her voice.

I felt the ground. There was a shelf of rough stone where my hand touched.

“I think it’s a wall.” I kept running my hands over it and, finding no far edge, I stepped up onto it and tapped forward with the tip of my foot.

“It’s a slab, like a foundation.”, I said, helping Ada up onto it.

We walked a little farther, pulling together, feeling the even stone underfoot and a deep cold rising from it. I raised my free hand out to feel and, after a few steps, I brushed against brick again.

“Wall.”, I muttered, walking sideways. Soon, my fingers gave way to open air.

“There’s some kind of entryway here.” Silence. I sighed, I felt myself drain from my mouth.

“We have to go in, Ada.”

“I know.”, she said after a moment. The silence held a second longer before she spoke.

“O-o-okay, I’m good. Let’s go.”

The cold was deeper and the ground gave a bit as we walked. It felt like carpet the way it tugged the bottoms of my shoes, but in the moments my feet were planted I could feel it move. Outside the structure, there had been the tiniest glints of moonlight here and there, but inside it the darkness was absolute. After a while we came to the far wall, identical to the first, but something was different in the doorway. The faintest hint of red light defined the next room. I could make out the silhouette of something hunched in the middle.

Ada started babbling, her grip tightening around my hand so I thought she would break it. I felt the bottom go out of my stomach, the waves of nausea coming over me and the urge to pass out on the cold floor. I was aware that there were more in the room, blended with the dark, the tips of their rolling shoulders and heads just visible in the baptism of red. They started towards us. I felt myself relax as darkness took me and my hand went limp in Ada’s.

I came to with Ada’s bloodred face smiling over me.

“Silas! Silas! It’s okay! We’ll be okay!”

I sat up. The same room we were in but brighter lit. The figures gathered around were bathed in red and shadow, sat in a circle on the floor. Nearly the form of people, but joined by lines of flesh between them, they were draped in finery that glittered around their arms and flowing garments. The lead of them was taller than the rest, sat just in front of me, and I saw that the circle of them was compassed by objects. Statues grown from shrubbery, diamond-facet tubes lined with protrusions, liquid metal pooled about like affects in a pharaoh’s tomb. The tallest spoke to me in the same way as the rabbit, to the base of my spine.

Do not fear, child. You are witness now to something beyond you.

I blinked, opening my mouth to speak but finding nothing. Ada was grinning ear to ear.

“I’ve been talking to her, Silas, they’re from somewhere else. Like another dimension or, or something like that. There’s been like, sort of, um…”

A collision, the form said.

Ada nodded.

“A collision. Between our worlds. She says it will pass soon and we’ll be back in the quarry.”

 I shook my head.

“I-I don’t understand. Why… w-why us? Why this place?”

Ada shrugged.

“They don’t know either. They could see it coming, but they don’t know why.”

I turned to the form.

It will be a span of time before you are returned. I cannot say what that span will be in your terms, but it will be short. Until that time, join us here. Our ritual will commence.

“Ritual?” I turned to Ada. She shook her head, started to say somethng.

The light grew brighter. The forms did what seemed like standing. I could see the jewelry around them faze in and out of their bodies like liquid. All at once, a noise was building. Not like the rabbit’s noise, but something otherworldly. Beautiful beyond words. The cleanest of all tones, the raw screaming of pleasure and time. They danced, and their dance bid us join them.

Thirst gone, I was swept in them. They turned as individuals, twisting limb in their circle and stretching to fractal bodies. I looked up and saw, hanging, the vibrant red sun radiating down on us and I felt them, I felt the fractal grow without me and warm me. Senses man would not be given for a trillion years more were open to me. I saw Ada inside-out, her beating heart, her leaping muscles going as she danced. We moved like in honey. We turned form in the crimson sway. The building fell away, the forest, I saw grand palaces and cities beyond them. Every form of this place moving in unison, and me and Ada with them.

We danced for years there, danced and sang and put our voices to the swell of many for an instant of eternity. Time blended, I wanted to feel them around forever and ever, but it passed abruptly. In the last moment, I felt the tallest form smile in every fold of me, and I smiled back even as the layers dissipated.

We were left in the clearing, the edges of the quarry standing resolute and the clear yellow sun hanging distant. Laughing, crying in joy, Ada and I laid in the basin and waited for the warmth to pass us.

“Ada, oh man, Ada, I feel a million years old!”

Ada laughed.

“I think we are! I think we’ve been there that long.”

I smiled, fighting laughter, tears flowing down as I looked around. The quarry was the same as when we’d first moved out, a little wash of man-made valley.

“We’ve got to go back to school. See Dad again, listen to the radio, draw, read… Silas, how are we going to go back?”, she said, still smiling.

 I shrugged.

“I dunno. We just will.”

Walking along the ridge, I turned back when we reached the top. The sun struck at the far corner, catching the facets it always had. Ada and I looked out at the valley somberly for a long while before we glanced at each other. She nodded and I nodded back, and we started down the path home.

The trail didn’t look overgrown for all our time in that other place. We found out later that not a lot of time had passed for our world, only a few weeks. Certainly not the eons we’d seen. The way back was short, but it felt like forever before we crested the hill and saw the shop door standing open. Ada looked back at me with eyebrows raised. I shrugged. We kept walking, down into the yard and up to the doorway. With bated breath, we pushed the door the rest of the way open and stepped in.

Dad sat hunched in the shop chair, looking over the landscape Ada had been working on when we left, his back to us. His head raised up, and he jerked around. Took a long breath in. Tears streaming on his quivering jaw.

“Dad, I-“, Ada started, but he stood so quickly that the chair tipped over and rushed to us, pulling us into an embrace. It was the first time in a while I’d seen Dad cry. When he finally pulled away to look at us, I saw his eyes pass from hollowed husk to brimming with life. It filled his face like it had us in that other wilderness.

We acclimated to normal life easier than you’d think. I felt so much older, happier, like every burden was drained away. Ada and I talked about it for hours where we could. As time went on, the memory never faded, but life rose to meet it. As I said, I have to fight the urge to go back down to the quarry. I know that it is dead to that place now. That we are sealed here in life until we pass on.  

dripping old angel thing in the woods

Hah! Well, mother might well have gone mad towards the end, even without the angel’s help. There were walls to every inquiry, a bleak infinity of shut downs from, how about this, a wrinkled up shut-in! Oh, I guess she was just agitated. You remember those meetings, don’t you? She had a thing about those meetings; well, I mean to say that she had a thing about everything, you understand, but… this bit of the picture was painted real deep. I went to the meetings like always, like… since I was a kid. I ate of their food and drank of their drink, in exchange for the only smiles I remembered.

Now, speaking of, these meeting people had a thing about plastic. Yeah, I guess I never told you about what we did at them… Just sort of a meet-and-greet. All the utensils and things were plastic. They loved it, and when you were done you stacked it up in the corner with the other plates and forks and things, and the solo cups. And old “Uncle Boris”(I never learned his real name) would come with a ramshackle old flamethrower and torch it down into a smoldering brick. Then he’d take it back somewhere and… well, who knew. Mother loved that kind of theatrics. “Just like my soaps”, she’d prattle, haha. And she’d give this cold-glowing smile as the warmth of the blaze cast shivers over me.

When we got home, and the keys were on the table and our shoes were placed neatly in the hall, she’d wait around a bit with a worried look. Never failed, the smile would fade and fade until she was the cold statue I knew, slumped spinelessly on the love seat smacking her lemon-lozenge lips at the soaps and fretting her jaw and brow about until I thought her face would collapse in. She was always so worried, thinking of the cars outside, y’know. And she’d turn her quivering eyes onto me, they were raw and watering, generally, and she’d ask to see Pop’s spirit spot again.

And I’d always protest, and she’d always threaten to kick me out of the house that I PAYED for, and that argument would go on in circles a while and then we’d go. I mean, like, as late as one o’clock some nights. Whole big thing, getting on the shoes and coat again, pulling the car out into the pitch black nothing void, all to see the place Pop died at “just one more time”. Once a week, disturbing my night. Along with that of the innocent fauna, mind you. Haha, right.

It, um, it was a little brick structure that lined the shoulder of highway 16. Little red flag fluttering, pale pink and rot-ridden. His shirt sleeve, I’ve realized since. She’d kneel sometimes, or walk a circle around it, whispering a prayer to all plastic souls. The car’s headlights would shine out on a sea of outstretched shadowlines pulled away from the base of every pebble and putrid item of litter. I hate litter like it’s the devil, because it is. Oh, shut up, you know how bad it gets towards the city! Not too irrational if you ask me. But, anyhow. She knew, too, she knew how it hurt me to get churned and passed around and consumed whole by the filthy seeping detail of it. She bided her time there, and I could do nothing but wait.

It agitated me at first, to see the dripping old angel thing come out of the woods. It never failed, that the first hairline stripes of dusk would streak my dark-accustomed eyes. Mother always told me, she always INSISTED that we’d be home before, but we both knew that she was there to embrace her guardian angel. The bulk of it that hung off the sides was some gooey intestine mess of grey matter wrappings. Pinkish tint and dripping with red like some strange and blood-looking sap. Or maybe dew, perhaps that’s more apt to describe it’s feel of a new, uh, self shattering morning.

I admit that I loved it, too. The suspended head was this perfect, round little brain, and it’s intertwining wings blowing in the wind. It walked on the trash where I could not, like the figure of Christ on calming waters. And it’s great, drooping feet taking the plastic up and digesting it. My mother would go to it. And it’s funny, not a single car would ever pass by when it was there. Right by the road, and I never saw another soul. I mean, granted, I was transfixed by it, but I never heard a single car’s roaring in the grey space betwixt night and morning.

I got the feeling that It didn’t want me to touch it. It would have let me kiss it’s intestine form if I had pressed, but I didn’t. There was peace in the look of it for me, but Mother needed more. She rubbed her head in it, held it tighter that she’d even held Pop. She thought it was partially Pop, a Pop transformed or at the very least altered. I can’t say I disagree, to be honest. It’s a funny thought, but strange business like that benefits from funny thinking, I guess.

Anyway, there’s not a lot more to it than that. You asked me how we got through those days, and that’s how. Pretty much just one day at a time. We’d go down maybe once or twice a month. Sometimes once a week, when she started getting really bothered at night. That, and, um, the trips to the grocery. That really kept us both grounded. You have to go out and find your own little comforts, I guess, when things are all coming down like that. Yeah, It was. Really nice catching up. Guess I’ll let you go now, I’ve got work, uh, y’know, like always. Heh. Uh-huh, bye-bye.

Woolly

Woolly’s steps were large enough to cover more ground than me, but how I worked my little legs to keep with him. He passed by my house on my tenth birthday, as gramps said he would, and I followed him as was prophesied. Now, the gold had not appeared then, mind you. I was doing it to make my mark as the good son.
At first, it was only little bits of tin, and the occasional nugget of shapeless nickel, that came from Woolly’s fur as he walked. It took a few months for Woolly to get used to me enough that he would really try and impress. It started off with him pushing copper coins out, and that’s how he’d talk with me. The little pictures on the coins told me all about my gramps, and about the years he’d followed Woolly through the homeland in his youth. I gathered that Woolly missed him terribly and, reading between the carved lines, that Woolly wished he would return.
I tried to be like gramps, in that I would tell Woolly meandering stories through all hours of the night as we walked through the trees. I did my best to wade the streams and leap the ditches without Woolly’s help, but I needed him to pull me along often early on. He never said a word, I don’t think he could, but he had the most expressive face I’d ever seen. I could tell if he was cross with me, and he would stop making precious stones and metals as well.
Come spring, though, I was doing alright. The ache had gone from my feet, and I could even walk backwards in front of him and chatter as we went. He had really grown to enjoy showing off. There were hand-carved and polished watches glazed in diamonds and rubies and pearls, statues of Woolly himself and me and gramps, and ornate little boxes carved with faces in profile.
All of it was pushed from the depths of his fur. Some days it was sparse, or even nothing at all, but other days it was like water. I kept all I could, but the bulk of it I left in the dirt. I always admired Woolly’s creativity, and consistency, too. Every carved little stroke was so beautifully finished and clean when it left his matted back, and the prints he would expel depicted scenes nearly too beautiful to describe. All hammered and carved into vibrant, glittering metal and stone.
At some point, though, the course of his communication took a darker tone. I think it was the season of rain, or the darkness during those hours in the north. His big brow would stay furrowed, and nothing I could say would raise it. My face began to blossom with stubble, and my hair to wrap around my feet as I walked, and I think we both could feel the coming of the end. I kept many treasures in my satchel and my pockets, but Woolly’s bounty began to grow heavier.
His materials of choice were mercury, solid gold, lead. The images were as vivid and compelling as ever but began to be warped into pictures of brutal bloodshed. Of broken men, the blood streaming on their face, amethyst bruises and deep red enamel blood, twisted bodies with open wounds. Woolly, I’d say, why do you seek to shock me so? But he’d keep his eyes ahead and staring. The little boys in the images began to resemble me.
I was seventeen by my count, but my count was likely wrong. I caught Woolly glancing at me out of the corner of my eye, and he would jerk away if I tried to look at him. The sky began to stay darker in those days. The ground rougher and rougher upon my feet. It is not right, I think, for a child to be so consumed by one thing. You could see it in my gaunt eyes, in Woolly’s jittery gait, the closing on this chapter was coming to claim us.
And just like that, I saw it. The sun had risen on a longsword protruding from Woolly’s hide. For the first time in seven years, I stopped. Woolly stopped as well and turned to me. The sword freed itself from between his massive shoulders and stuck in the dirt with a muffled clang. Prophecy buzzed in my ears in the forest’s stillness. The nakedness brought by the absence of footstep noise. When the sword came, I was to take it in my hands and slay him.
We waited in the green light. As our gazes met, Woolly’s old face took a pleading form. Coins began to pour from his eminence, began to click on the dirt and the roots surrounding, and the cadence of their thumps was like the footstep sounds had been. Copper, rough-carved, like the beginning of our wandering.
It is a trap, I said to him. I said it aloud for my own sake. You will not lure me with nostalgia. I feel anguish inside me when I think of killing you, my old friend. But it must be done to protect the lot of man.
Woolly shook his head. He did not speak, could not, but tears welled in his yellow eyes. You are the bringer of death, I tried to say. I tried, but the words did not come. I was crying, sobbing, pleading to gramps and to God and to myself, do not let me raise my hands to take him away. I turned to face the wilderness I had crossed, the infinity of time I had pushed through like a pit of mud. And I walked.
It was only a few steps before I reached my home again. There was the dog, running in the yard, grayer and fatter and unaware of my voice. A headstone for gramps, lined about in a little wall of rock, stood resolute by the treeline. I turned to Woolly again, but he was still the many miles away. So easy to return, but it would cost my soul to reach him again.
When I went to my mother and my father, they embraced me, tearful. Did you do it, they said, did you destroy death? And, the pit growing inside me, I could only shake my head. No. I have failed to put it down, as those before me.
Seven years have passed again. I think often of that time, and am grateful now for comfortable feet. I have grown content with my lot, as all do of my lineage, as gramps had said I would before I set out. I have grown beyond the fear of Woolly, even longing to see him again. When I am old and tired, when I am sick of the world and it’s ways, when my descendant knows of the prophecy, he will come for me. Woolly will come by my home again, and I will greet him with open arms.

Hide Away Your Seams

My pop was a ponytail rider on the outskirts of decency. Not given to fits of rage as his father was, as I am, but certainly given to other unpleasantness in his own way. He would smoke on his pipes, he built them himself from copper tubing, and tell stories to me. They were dark, brooding, bloody tales. They twisted and turned with his mind, meandered about pillars of his experience but never brushed them, took me away to places so beyond the human experience that I was set to reeling in my thoughts at the close of every one. He told them at night as bedtime stories. I never could sleep well in the time he was with us.

Still, it interested me beyond belief. I’d heard from mom and my various extended family that he had gone to school for it, for storytelling I mean. He did so love the written word, reading was all I saw him do when he was inside, which was irregular for him. He preferred the universe of his head and he entered it past the tree line.

Those were dark times, don’t let them tell you they were lighter than these. I play-acted like I’d not heard the rumors, that the earth was going to open again. Everyone’d learned about those slick, amber things, the elders which had opened the hairline cracks in the earth to chasms. Had swallowed up our oil, our magma, left the earth as cold and dead as it was. My pop believed in it like nobody did, he even said he’d had his heart taken out by them and had the scar to prove it.

There had been machines before, that ran on oil. Not like in sardines, the oil we’ve got left, it was a black sort of oil. The amber fathers had come for it, they drank it, and it bubbled up in their olden guts. So my pop said in his stories. He told me that their powers lied in their ability to find the seams in things. In a person, you couldn’t see them, but they could. They knew how to touch you with no implements of war, with their hands, to break you apart.

They broke apart the earth. They pried apart the atoms with their fingernails. They were so, so loud, it made the ears of the children run with blood. So he always told me. He said, if you feel that pain and the rushing down your cheeks, pray to God to take you. Find any way you can to cover your seams. Run in circles, they can’t find seams in a blur. For years, I ran back and forth in the house when thunder sounded outside.

Well, they came, as you know. They slipped between the seams of the border, great blobs they were. In school, we’d learned that they were shapeshifters in their place, that what we saw was an infinitely thin bit of them poking through, that they could make into something like the form of a man.

We were in the woods when they came. I felt that deep pain, the screaming needles pushed into my ears, the sides of my face painted like the doorways of the Passover. The compass went wild, pointing at the wall of erupting sound. My pop pushed his hat back to tug at his hair with one hand and grabbed my shoulder with the other. His bulbous eyes skipped off the trees and back to me.

Mallo, get back, he told me. Run in circles, like I said. I did, I waved my arms. No seams, I kept thinking. My pop yelled, I couldn’t hear it now, he tossed his rucksack and I caught it awkwardly. The compass was swirling around, I could feel the vibrations of the sound in my bones but I could not hear it. Then, they were all around. Breaking apart the trees into mist along their seams. My pop was tugging his hair, face wretched, he hadn’t tugged it so since mom had gone. He screamed, mouthed my name, stopped his stamping to push me away as they came to him.

Their fingers came up like cracks in the wall, broken, twisted fingers with many joints. They touched all over him. It looked gentle, almost, like a loving caress. I ran, as he bid me to do, and when I turned they had found the hairlines. His body was torn to reddish mist. It’s very-most basic pieces. His seams spilled open, I could see the heartless, wet chasm of his chest yawn as they tore him away. Insides flopping on the dirt and misting to nothing.

They were here for eleven minutes, so they say. Taking some, and leaving others at random. They took our wood away as they had taken our oil, to power themselves up I suppose. I miss the wood. God, I miss the wooden handles of axes and the paper dolls. I miss the books, I miss the trees, I hate the grass-grown abyssal plains where there is no shade from the boiling sun. I do as my pop said. I pray to God to take me.

Hi, Going to Hell, I’m Dad

Me boy’s feet slipped on the rock in the third circle, bless’em. Not as far as the ancestor. The ancestor came to him with great, fleshly, extended hand. Did beg him to take a-hold. And laughed when me boy’s embrace passed straight through. Sinner in the hams of a lanky cod, som’ like that.
Dead grinner, big spender he was, my boy. ‘Is mouth was always open. He said to me, he says, pop, I’m concerned with TRUTH. I said, says, hey kid, ye oughta should be concerned with reality. This is kid stuff, to dream. To dream is to be taken off Lord knows where, one o’ th’ circles. And ‘e says “aye”.
When a boy says “aye” y’ shouldn’t take it as th’ god’s honest. And he said it as much as he drank. He said, too, he said that the ancestor t’was an old broken lantern no’ so fit to show th’ way. Tha’s the way, exactly, swear it. I says to him, I said, I said he needed to get a bit of clarity. See Th’ Ring, live in Kerry a’bit. He wouldn’t hear of it, never would, an’ he ended up in that third circle.
So the ancestor comes to ‘im, in the night, wingspan out an’ bellowing an’ all that, an’ this lad believes him to be me, dressed so!
Aye, aye, wha-ah waste! Wha-ah matriarchal pattern-cut! Aye, aye. Landed ‘im in the fires, it did, jus like I’m been sayin’. But my boy, shore as ‘e keeps a length o’ rope ’round his gut-hangin’ waist, ‘e ‘ad a merry ol’ thinking in the pit.
He say-said to the ancestor, he said “Say, mac, say me elder pop, I’m pleased by your eminence and such. Much so. Maybe, say, maybe, we depart ta’ th’ wilderland ‘tween hev’n and ‘ell and gulp the beasties which roam such.”
I cannae’ get this point ‘cross well enough. My Boy Bespoke Wisdom. Bold as the sun goes slippin’. He loves meat, does the ancestor, mor’n he loves th’ all-father. An’ he slipped away with th’ boy, me boy, t’was the last straw y’ see, thinkin’ of that juice gone running.
They sit there now, love, me love, are y’ listenin’ t’ me? Aye, love, they’re sippin’ the saltless streams an’ growin’ heavy with elk. Don’ cry, ‘is body’s th’ only bit o’ him what’s left here. All-father, lord, we love ya, we do, please leave ‘im in his wilder places. God, lord, don’ cry so, love. Lord God does it break me t’ see ya.
I’ve seen ’em in the pit of me dreamin’, love, congregation. Aye, aye. Ye all must believe it, plain as ye believe me to be standing here.