prompt

See No Evil, Hear No Evil

                Oslo watched the second-hand race around the clock, counting down to midnight on the eve of his 25th birthday, and imagined he could still hear the ticking. Sound-waves crashed against his cochlear sea, he felt the vibration, but that was all it was. Feeling. Sensation, but no noise. His head hummed in silence. Fingers pressed flat against the table, he knew it rained outside by the patter that rattled along his palms. He sniffed, and smelled Rosco, their black Labrador, scratching around in the backyard. Based on the strong ammonia odor, it would not be long until he found his way back to their door, scratching to demand entry and—presumably—whining. The young man picked up a pen in brown hands and wrote the last lines of prose, the final story inspired by his year in meditation.

                They say that deafness is like sleep, and sound like a world we can never wake into. That a Writer’s world digs ever inward, that we plumb the soul while Talkers ascend to the heavens. But here, inside my head, I may have found a heaven that is all my own. My only fear is that—if I remain trapped here long enough—I will find it was hell all along.

                It was then the young man, trapped by indecision, had the choice made for him by time. Sound rushed around him, over him, through him, from the far off cries of babes to the beating wings of a nearby insect. He looked down at the words he had just written, and it did not matter when later they became smudged illegible with tears: after all, no matter how clear they were, he would never again be able to read them.

And so the Writer was damned to Listen.

                Could I live like this? Forever? He asked himself, replacing the pen on the desk. He had wondered this again and again over the past year, growing accustomed to interacting with the world by sight and smell and touch alone, reading along to his favorite movies, nose deep in book after book, looking friends in the face as those who had chosen to speak spoke, and following the fast hand gestures of the ones who had not. Oslo closed his eyes, wide grey pools rippling with doubt, and leaned back in his chair. Interlocking his fingers in his frizzy hair, now buzzed close to his head, he imagined he could distinguish each individual stubble. He thought that if he concentrated he might even feel it growing, however slowly, from his scalp. Heightened senses were the gift to every man and woman who came of majority age. He opened his eyes. They found the clock again, inexorably ticking towards the moment of decision. 60, 59, 58 seconds away. Soon, there would be no turning back.

                He was reflecting on this same moment a year prior, when he finished testing life as a Talker, relishing the richness of laughter—how full the world felt when you could hear and yet how empty became your head, looking at row after row of novel and tome, knowing their contents, their worlds, were never to be yours—when his Mother ascended the steps to his attic room. She waited a moment on the stairs, not wanting to interrupt his reverie, his collection of sensory data. The young ones must consider every experience and every sensation, in order to best decide what they could do without.

                Then the clock struck 12, each bell a silent tremor. At their end, like a man rising from the sea a moment before drowning, the world of sound came crying back to the young man. He heard the rain, heard Roscoe barking, the laughter and chatter of the assembled party guests awaiting his decision. Tonight was his Sense Fete. Where his manhood would be celebrated and his loss mourned; where he would be carried across the threshold into the world where some spoke and listened but could not read, and others wrote and studied text but could not hear. His mother finished climbing the stairs as the final bell rang and Oslo turned 25 in truth. Her eyes were dry, but red, and, still in the waning throes of Writerdom, Oslo could smell that the handkerchief in her back pocket was damp with salty tears.

                “Well Oslo, have you made a decision?” Her voice trembled as she feared what she was about to lose. Would her beloved son never speak to her again, and be destined to a life of the mind? Would he become a recluse who gradually recedes from the only world she can understand? Or would he sacrifice the books he loved? The academic pursuits that sustained his youth? Would he choose to remain drowning in humanity’s flow?

                The young man did not answer right away, racing through his memories of this year and the one prior. When had he felt the most joy? Was it hearing his friend tell a favorite joke? Or those long nights spent discovering forgotten wonders in a basement library? Was it in movies? Or the quiet moments of meditation where the world seemed bright in clear? Was it surrounded by friends and loved ones? Or isolation?

                He closed his eyes and remembered…

                She brushed her hand against his, catching his attention, and smiled. Her eyes were bright, those of one who had consumed a hundred worlds and then a hundred more. Who had heard everything worth saying and found it wanting. Who had wisdom to offer in text… and in touch. In sight and in smell. And in that moment, with that gesture and that grin and those beckoning eyes, she said more than he remembered hearing said by a man with a hundred thousand spoken words at his disposal.

                Oslo opened his eyes and smiled—a poor imitation of that girl’s own, she whose name he had never learned nor needed to—and took his pen in hand. His Mother’s gentle sobs faded into the haze of a chosen silence.

                Yes, I have.

2nd Chance

Simple and useful resurrection app with GPS, Google Maps and e-copy of the Necronomicon

2nd Chance is the first necromancy app available free on your Droid and iPhone (in beta testing stage only)

<< 2nd chance requires a magnetic sensor, location services activated and two samples of blood, one living and one dead >>

This resurrection app is a tool for bringing your loved ones back to life. PLEASE DO NOT USE ON CORPSES DEAD MORE THAN A WEEK. Cannot guarantee that it will be the decedent’s soul that returns after that date. You may find them… changed.

1.       Although you may bring back to life pets and other animals, they will not know you and must be retrained.

2.       Necronomicon is available in Latin only (translations pending)

3.       If Location services are turned off, soul may return only halfway. Please keep gun on hand to re-kill any raised abominations.

4.       All belief systems supported

The 2nd chance app depends on the performance of your device exactly. If the dead are raised perfectly, it means that your sensors for the nearness of spirits are perfect too.

If there are aberrations, such as the undead (zombies) or manifestations of Beelzebub or Lucifer, please check that you are a firm believer in the afterlife. Any doubt allows for evil to creep through! This app has several options to calibrate your theism (The Bible, Qu’ran and Avesta are all included).

·         Pro-version includes:

Ø  Soul sensor (guarantees accuracy of re-absorption up to 95.5%)

Ø  Nearest Exorcist locator (in case of resurrections gone awry)

Ø  Helpful resurrection tips

Ø  Free vial of holy water

Good luck, and remember, if it’s been less than a week. There’s still hope. Your loved ones are never fully gone!

 

                John looked down at his phone, then back up at the grave.

                Aviva Lester 1988 – 2014

                R.I.P

                Far more than a week, but still, thinking back on the past two years of misery, on the grief that had never lessened, on the unfairness of her dying just after their wedding day, the apps warnings went unheeded as he download 2nd chance and approached his beloved’s final (?) resting place.

                “I promised,” He whispered, “I will never say goodbye.”

                The app downloaded and stalled, he pulled up its main screen.

                SOUL LOCATOR. He pressed the button and, when prompted, enter Aviva’s full name and birthdate.

                SEARCHING… SEARCHING… SEARCHING…

                “Come on!” He begged. “Work goddammit! She’s here, she waited for me.”

                RESULTS: 1 SOUL LOCATED THAT MEETS PARAMETERS. WOULD YOU LIKE TO RETRIEVE? (YES/NO)

                John’s heart soared. This might actually work. He pressed yes with tears in his eyes.

                WARNING. SENSORS SHOW SOUL IS _2_ YEARS PAST ‘RAISE BY’ DATE. CHANCES OF SUCCESSFUL RESSURECTION <10%. CHANCES OF ‘OTHER PRESENCE’ FORCING ITS WAY THROUGH OPENED CHANNEL ~50%.

                DO YOU STILL WISH TO PROCEED? (YES/NO)

                “Any chance is chance enough.” John said to himself, pressing yes without the slightest hesitation.

                The phone whirred for a bit, then grew hot in John’s hands. So hot he dropped it into the soft loam of the gravesite. Blue electricity shot from the phones edges into the ground. Then the heavens opened, and lightning cracked down onto the grave, burrowing into the soil and casting it asunder. The crackling electric bolts struck again and again until a hole several feet deep opened before John, who by that time had thrown himself onto the ground hands before his eyes.

                After some moments of chaos, silence reigned. John gingerly took back to his feet, creeping forward to see what remained.

                The grave was undug, the coffin struck open, a figure rose unsteadily from it. Rot and years fell away and John recognized his Aviva.

                “My God… it’s possible. I brought you back. It’s possible!” He ran to her, weeping again.

                Aviva stared at him silently and with wide eyes, recognition slowly dawning.

                “John? But… how. I was, oh my no. I was dead?”

                He hugged her, not caring that a shock of electricity went through him. The pain of that was nothing compared to his joy at reuniting with her. “Doesn’t matter. Darling, you’re here now. I love you. I always loved you.”

                Aviva’s eyes then too began to water. “Oh, John…”

                “Come, let’s get you home and out of those rags. Everyone will be so glad you’re back…”

                He half-carried her from the torn grave, as she stumbled over legs rusty from disuse and atrophy. As he nattered on in his happiness, Aviva turned back the way she had come, eyes narrowing at the sight only she beheld. Briefly, in the moonlight, a translucent figure the mirror image of the girl brought to life reached out towards them. It mouthed silently, no body with which to speak.

                John, beloved. That’s not me. I didn’t make it back. I was beaten to my body. That’s not me. That’s not me-

                The figure faded, its connection to this realm lost. Seeing the figure go, ‘Aviva’ turned away, satisfied, and once again contemplated what horrors she might work on this world of flesh.

                You thought you stopped me for good, God. But I’m back, baby. I’m back!

The Urn

                Mother always wanted to be buried at sea. Laura and I pledged, after she died, that we would make that happen. So from the Kansas flatlands we traveled west by train, on new-laid track through forest and desert and rain.

Weeks passed in silence. We promised we would never speak again of that night, and circumstance had left us with little else. Laura sat by the window. Though she did not say it, I think she loved to watch the landscape rolling by. Watching her, she seemed to age thirty years, the burden of sin. She became the mirror image of the parent we lost. Once, she caught me looking at her and frowned, hard black eyes like coal penetrating to the core of my thoughts.

“I’m not like her, you know. I swear I never will be!”

I nodded in response, silently making the same promise.

As we traveled, Mother waited in the luggage rack in a plain, unadorned urn, returned to dust as we all will be some day. She rolled around above our heads, looming nearly as large in death as she did in life. When the conductor came to take our tickets, he noticed the urn with a start. After that we were left alone. The mysterious children. The couriers of death.

Eventually, our journey ended. We came to California. We wound through the streets, following our noses to the sea. It was vaster than we had ever imagined, stretching out past the limit of our eyesight. We waited for evening, until the sun began to crash beneath the horizon, Mother in hand.

“Bury me.” She said, spitting blood. “Bury me where I daren’t rise again. Bury me beneath the weight of the ocean. Bury me with the setting sun. Promise me you’ll see this through. For the good of the world. Promise me!”

She clutched my hand, which still clenched the knife buried in her side, and convulsed, and screeched. Then fell still. Her emerald eyes faded and were black as I closed them a final time.

I opened the urn, grabbed two nearby rocks, and dumped them into the ash. Resealing the urn, I took my sister’s hand, looked her in her cobalt eyes and walked onto a rock outcropping that extended over deep ocean waters. Here, in San Francisco, we consummated a funeral deferred. We had no words, no fond memories of our time with Mother. When we knew her, it was as a woman possessed. The time before, when she was gentle still, remained shrouded in the past. Flashes of kindness. The echo of a smile. The laughter we remember as toddlers. A time as distant to us as Mother was now.

Yet I felt that one of us should speak before the deed was done.

“Earth to Earth,” I whispered, “Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust.”

The urn sank into the ocean depths quickly. Within seconds, all we saw were the waves.

After a moment, Laura finished my thought. “And may dust be all that remains.”

We watched the ocean for a while. Watched the tide recede. Watched as the moon rose to replace the sun, bathing the world in faint silver light. Watched to see if the urn would resurface. Clasped together, my hands trembled. I hoped that Laura did not notice. Hours crept by, until satisfied, I turned to leave the burial ground.

Laura waited a while longer, whispering a silent prayer before following. Ahead of her, in the night, I did not then notice her smile.

I did not notice: her once jet black eyes glowed emerald green.

 

Under the Bed

At first Reggie feared the monster, then he grew to understand it and, as the years passed, understanding grew into love.

                After his third birthday is when Reggie first felt inkling of the foreboding presence beneath him. He had just moved from crib to toddler bed, in his own room with blue wall-paper fringed with cherubic angels, with a dark velvet carpet that covered the floor from wall to wall. He was a big boy, or so his parents told him, and could sleep on his own. At least most nights. But then he heard the breathing, low and slow, coming from below his mattress. A looming force grew in his mind. He was not alone. Reggie thought to tell his parents of his fears, but worried they would dismiss him as the foolish child, and take his bed away from him. That crib, with its wooden slats and high walls, was no prison he wished to returned to. So he overcame his fears and stayed. Each night, the breathing grew louder and louder.

                When he was five, legs dangling off the edge of the bed, nowhere near long enough to touch the ground, the creature began to talk to him.

                Reggie. Its voice, loud yet subvocal, echoed against the chambers of his impressionable mind. The loud, booming tone belonged to a creature of unfathomable dimensions. It spoke his name, and Reggie screamed. Within seconds, his parents rushed to his room.

                “Reg, honey, what’s wrong?” His mother asked.

                Father yawned, scratched his chin impatiently, both their clothes were disheveled. As if they had been recently discarded and then quickly reworn. “You have a nightmare Reg? Go back to bed, there’s nothing here to get ya.”

                Reggie could only mumble, stutter his concerns. “M-m-m-monster, Momma, a-a-a m-m-m”

                His mother ruffled his air, cooing quietly to soothe his fears. “Oh monsters Reg, there’s no such thing. Only shadows in the dark. Here-” She turned up his nightlight. “That should scare them off.”

                She kissed him on his forehead and Father hugged him gruffly, clearly still resentful of the interruption. They tucked him in, left, and again Reggie lay alone with the flimsy light, the darkness, the low, deep breathing only his child’s ears could hear.

                Do not be afraid. Reggie. I mean you no harm.

                This time, Reggie swallowed his fears. No help was forthcoming. If he was grown enough to sleep alone, he was grown enough to confront the demon meant for his eyes only.

                “Wh-what a’you?” He asked.

                I don’t know.

                “H-how long you been down there?”

                Always.

                Silence hung in the air, Reggie did not speak. Only the hushed breathing signaled that the monster still remained. Waiting, it seemed for the young boy to make the next move.

                And so Reggie took a chance. He swung his legs back over the edge of the bed. Nothing. No grotesque limbs reached out from under him to drag the boy to some hellish dimension. No horrid jaws nipped at his heels. Hopping off the bed, he knelt down to look underneath the frame, to see what horrors awaited his child’s eyes. Yet he saw nothing. To be more accurate, he saw nothingness. Not the floor, not the hanging sheets, not the bedframe itself. He saw only blackness, he felt only despair. And he began to empathize for the monster, living in such a world all its own.

                “Monster?” He asked.

                Yes Reggie.

                “You lonely down there?”

                Lone-ly? The creature spoke as if he didn’t understand the world.

                “Doncha, donchou wish you had friends to play with?”

                Friends. It paused, teasing the word over in its mind. I have no friends.

                In that moment, Reggie made a choice that would divert the course of his life and countless others. “It’s okay monster. We can be friends.”

                Reggie was no longer afraid of the darkness. Years passed, and each night he and the monster spoke. Soon, he was ten, in a full bed of his own. They had moved, yet somehow the monster followed. His world unstuck in place, he knew exactly where to find Reggie. He knew which bed was the boy’s. Reggie’s parents wondered why he forsook all close friends, instead choosing to play in his room, but that was the way of children nowadays. With access to the internet, the constructed worlds all their own, they reasoned. As long as his schoolwork didn’t suffer, and he seemed so well adjusted, there was no need to worry.

                “Monster?” Reggie began one night, “Can I ask you a question?”

                Go ahead Reggie.

                “Why don’t you come out, meet my Mom and Dad? I’m sure they’d like to know I had a friend.”

                I’m scared. The blackness seemed to contract and sigh.

                “Scared? You?” Reggie wanted to laugh. The idea of this consumptive darkness—one that had terrified him to his core—itself feeling fear, seemed impossible to him. “Whatever of?”

                Your world… is so big. I am… accustomed to being alone. Just me Reg, just you and just me. I don’t- I don’t want that world. It scares me. It is scared of me.

                “I’ll make them understand! I will. You mean no harm to anyone, right?”

                No… I don’t know. I don’t even know what I am.

                Reggie asked a question he had asked many times before, and was always met with a dodge or dismissal. “What did you do before you haunted my bed?” He asked with a smile, he knew that the monster hated all comparisons to a ghost. (I am not that creature it would deny loudly, well, as loudly as it said anything). “Where were you?”

                For the first time, it answered. I… I don’t know. I remember you, my Reggie, I remember knowing you, even before we spoke. I knew we would be friends. But before that, I remember nothing.

                “Then how do you know?”

                Know what?

                “How do you know I’m not to bring you out of your shell? Show you the world?”

                I-

                “Come on! You’re tired, lonely. What’s the harm?”

                I don’t know.

                ”Monster?” Once again Reggie sat at the foot of his bed, staring underneath into the darkness.

                Yes Reg.

                “You know I love you, right?”

                I love you too Reg.

                “Then come out. I’m lonely too. No kids understand me, my Mom and Dad don’t neither. I… I only have one friend.”

                Me too.

                “Then why be alone when we can be together and happy?”

                Because.

                “Because why?”

                Because… perhaps I should show you.

                The ground beneath the bed began to rumble, and from the darkness within sparked a light. It grew and grew, sprouting features. A face, grotesquely misshapen. A body, parts all out of line and out of proportion. The light, the glowing form, grew to the size of a small rat, then to a dog, then a human child. But it did not stop there. Its chest rose and fell and still the creature grew. Soon, the bed was no longer big enough to house it. And its bulk lifted the frame into the air. Reggie stumbled backwards, eyes wide in fear for the first time in many years.

                “Monster? What are you? Why are you-”

                I cannot stop once started. I’m sorry. This is what I am. What I’ve always been.

                Reggie stared in awe at the creature of terrible, powerful light as it grew even larger. Staring slack-jawed as it crushed his small frame against the wall, before splintering it—and the house containing it—to pieces. Within minutes, the monster loomed over the late-Reggie’s neighborhood. The screams of his neighbors quickly obliterated by the spreading form that consumed them and everything else. A tower of light reached into the sky, and beneath it crumbled the entire world. Nations fell into the seas, which then boiled and evaporated as the light touched it.

I remember. The universe... It explained to the long dead boy, who was now beyond and a part of it. Your bed, your fear, was a prison built to protect me from the universe.

                Earth burned as the light stretched across it, melting land into plasma, converting the core into light brighter than the sun. With the light within it, it reached across the solar system, consuming the planets, the satellites and even the void in its wake. Soon, not even the sun was a match for its brilliance. And soon after that, the sun’s brilliance was merely a part of its own, augmenting it even as it spread past what was once our solar system, greedily feeding on the rest of the galaxy.

                Soon, the whole of our realm of being became one creature. The nameless monster, once friend to Reggie, once fearful of the world beyond. Now it knew, it was not that the creature had to fear the world, it had to fear what it would do to the world if unleashed. It expanded into darkness, wondering how far it could grow, until off in the distance it saw a light. In the light, two scrawny legs dangled, not yet long enough to reach the velvet carpet beneath. It reached for the dangling legs, but was rebuffed by a barrier it could not see, by an incipient fear of the unknown. And it understood where it was. The prison still. It smiled, a smile of hunger and terrible purpose, and spoke into the mind of a boy readying for bed.

                Reggie…