Saturday, June 21, 2008

Paranormal Psychology, Part 5

"I know how much you love being the center of attention, especially considering that ridiculous hair styling of yours which may or may not be a homage to the traditional headdress of a small group of indigenous people who live in the ruins of the City of Poetry, or Ashaar bin Apal, but please, wait your turn." The professor glared at the blonde hedgehog-lookalike, and slowly the grin slipped away from the student's face.

While I was trying to remember my history lessons on India to see if the professor had simply made up a large bunch of gibberish to cow the upstart or simply had a horrible grasp of Punjab, Abode harrumphed again and turned, pulling out a marker to write on the board behind him. His slow, methodical strokes eventually spelled out "Paranormal Psychology", underlining it heavily in the blue marker. Once finished, he tapped underneath the letters twice, and turned back to the class.

"This is what all of you have signed up for. Each one of you must at least be mildly interested in the subject matter, and, if my background checks were done well enough, are open minded enough to participate in this class profitably." He leaned forward and grinned a surprisingly white-toothed grin at the blonde hedgehog-boy. "Yes, even you can profit from this." The boy looked mildly uncomfortable, leaning backwards and turning away from Abode's glaring eyes.

"Alright, so what of it?" The blonde spat, grimacing. Abode stood up straight like he had been shocked.

"What do you think of when you hear these two words? Paranormal Psychology?" He said. I raised my hand. Abode nodded to me. "Yes, you there. Mr. Tham."

"The Occult?" I said, my voice tentative.

"Yes, that would be one thing, I suppose." Abode replied, turning around to write 'Occult' down under the heading. "Anybody else?"

"Psychokinesis." Ms. Harris spoke, calmly. Turning to look at her when she said this, I noticed she had completely calmed down. Her eyes were entirely focused on Abode, watching his hand as he wrote down what she had said.

"Yes, yes, keep them coming." Abode said, underlining the word 'psychic'. We all began to speak in turn after that.

"Extrasensory perception!"



"Spiritual events!"


The professor tapped on the board twice and cleared his throat.

"All done now? Any other suggestions?" His voice boomed, his back to us. He turned slowly. "Alright. Now..." He said, pacing towards the class and then along one of the aisles of desks. "These are all good suggestions." The old man stretched slightly, rolling his shoulders before placing a hand on the shoulder of the student who was wearing sunglasses. "I can understand these being your responses going into this class. However..." Abode pointed to the words on the board. "These can all be summarized with two words."

"Paranormal Psychology?" The student in sunglasses suggested, half-joking. Abode glared down at him and then walked up to the board briskly.

"The unquantifiable. The immeasurable. The inexplicable." He spoke, his voice clear and loud over the diminishing laughs from the other students. "Everything that plagues mankind that we cannot put away as a simple trick of the light or a part of nature. What skeptics call superstition and the faithful call miracles." The eraser jumped into his hand and slid across the board, clearing it of all markings.

"All these elements are part of one, all-consuming section of the human condition." His marker raced across the board quickly, spelling out two words in big, bold letters.

"The Unknown."

Paranormal Psychology, Part 4

The young lady's eyes widened, letting the grey-limned orbs show off the fact that she wore contacts. This moment of detail vanished quickly, though, as she blinked and resumed her composure.

"A... boon? You must excuse me, Professor, but I don't know what you mean." She spoke, her words sounding carefully ingratiating. A crackling, grinding sound, somewhat like the sound of coffee being ground, began emanating from the professor. Suddenly, it occurred to me that this was the sound of the professor laughing.

"Oh, you know, Ms. Harris." The professor turned to the class, the wrinkles in his face sliding away for a moment as he smiled. "You'll all know each other very well in the coming days, so I doubt that any secrets should be kept..." He sniffed. "All right!" The professor clapped his hands together, matter-of-fact-ly. The old man lifted himself slowly out of the desk he had been sitting in, old joints audibly popping. He began strolling leisurely up to the board mounted on the front bookshelf. His old, rusty voice echoed in the clearing between the bookshelves, and I found myself slipping into the normal trance; the mind-numbing haze of a college student listening to some old professor droning on about his subject began to creep upon me.

"So, Ms. Harris!" The professor's voice boomed sonorously as he made a quick about-face. "Sharing time!" Harris jumped at this, her expression conveying a sense of extreme confusion. Abode sighed. "I'll spell it out for you. What might be a reason you could enjoy having such a small class? Perhaps a certain phobia you have? An education style that you are used to...?"

Obviously jarred by this, Ms. Harris began to speak, her voice shaking slightly. "I'm not sure how this bears upon this class in any way, Professor. Whatever problems I might have with large crowds or past experience with solitary learning doesn't concern you, or the students here. I was under the impression that you intended to judge this class on personal merits, not on personal history." As she spoke, the professor began shaking his head.

"Oh, Ms. Harris, but this does indeed have quite a bit to do with the class. We show our weaknesses to one another so we may work around them. We share secrets so we can gain trust. This is how we humans interact, yes?" He began to lean back onto the board, chin lifted up a bit. "What you will be doing in this class will require the whole lot of you to learn to work together. I cannot have a group of sheltered introverts who shy away from giving the smallest part of themselves away."

A loud, barking laugh came from the back of the class, and I turned to see the student who had spoken up when told to leave grinning widely. His blonde hair, streaked with small lines of black, was spiked, giving him the overall look of an oddly colored, grinning hedgehog.

"Is this it, then?" He said, a hint of a southern drawl mixing in with his tone. "Scare us all by making half the class leave, and now impress us with knowledge about our personal lives and hints to some huge future undertaking?"

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Paranormal Psychology, Part 3

Dark haired and dressed messily, as if he rarely cared what he wore as long as he wore something, the one who spoke up this time looked around the room hawk-ishly. His face was largely obscured by dark-yellow sunglasses, which seemed odd due to the dim lighting. A clacking of keys drew my attention from this odd looking student.

"No, I don't think so." Spoke up one of the others, who seemed to have manifested a laptop out of thin air. His face was framed by long hair that reached his shoulders, and his clothes were drenched in supposedly witty neologisms. "I can't find anything from him in my email."

"Should we just leave? Class isn't supposed to end until another hour and a half." I said, and suddenly knew the sensation of a mouse squeaking amongst a pack of cats. All of the other students turned to me, almost as one. From my reaction to so simple an event, you can probably guess that I have minor difficulties with public speaking.

"That won't be necessary." A gruff voice spoke out from amongst the students. Suddenly, as if he'd simply been invisible until he spoke, an old, balding man, dressed to look almost like an old Victorian-aged train conductor, appeared at the desk with the projector and laptop. He glared at me, and then the other three who had spoken. "You four can stay." His gaze turned to the rest of the class. "Everyone else, leave. You are no longer part of this class. Go to the Dean's office for reassignment."

A small din of disagreement and muttering stirred up at this, but, dutifully, all the other students began to collect their belongings. One student stood up indignantly.

"But why? We all agreed to that crazy contract you sent us by email." The old man, presumably Professor Abode, gazed at the student levelly.

"You may stay. All others, go. I have no need for an unquestioning flock. What I need here are able and, much more importantly..." The old man harrumphed grumpily, looking each one of us in the eye slowly. "... inquisitive minds." The mass of students filed out, some still grumbling, but once in the hallway they all became silent. The old man watched each one leave in turn, a disapproving frown on his face. The one student who had stood up to talk sat back down heavily, and the room became deathly quiet, but for the sound of the clock.

"So you're Professor Abode, then?" The Indian girl said. The curmudgeon turned, his head swiveling like an owl who had just noticed a particularly plump rabbit. He breathed in heavily.

"Yes, I am. And I assume, Ms. Harris, that you find what I have just done to be a great boon."

Paranormal Psychology, Part 2

The next morning, I awoke unhappily. My first class was the usual monotony that I had become accustomed to since the fascination and naivety had worn itself out in my freshman year. The professor droned on about certain aspects of the culture of a small group of pigmies that I could certainly care less about, considering most likely they were going to disappear into the annals of history filed under the category of "things we killed off", in the section marked "that we probably shouldn't have."

Fortunately, just before I drifted into a fantasy of being a custodian for all of history, the professor dismissed the class. I made my lazy way out, looking down at my new schedule to see which building the next class was in. My eyes widened with sudden recognition. The memory of the email, the strange customer at the cafe, and the cursed coin flooded back and locked itself in place in my mind. Perhaps my day would be interesting.

Heading towards the Fjord building, I must confess a certain foreboding. After all, it's not every day you have to comply with a Non-Disclosure Agreement for a college course. I shrugged it off, though, or at least I did in the way one can shrug off a winter's chill, and entered the building. I found the classroom, which seemed to have been a library until very recently since it was filled with bookshelves, and found a seat in a small clearing among the shelves. Fifteen other students sat near me, spaced out among the array of seats in the classroom. One thing about the classroom irked me- It almost seemed like it wasn't a classroom at all, but the study area in a long-forgotten and ill kept archive room. Mounted on the row of bookshelves that the chairs pointed to was a large screen, and on one of the desks in the middle was a projector, which was attached to a laptop which hummed lightly in the silent room. I took up my college-trained stance of staring at the screen dutifully.

The seconds ticked by, conveniently aided by a large grandfather clock which loomed down one of the corridors of bookshelves. Slowly the seconds became minutes, and then half-hours, and finally I had been staring at a screen for a full hour, resisting with all my will the urge to make up sleep lost the previous night due to that damned coin.

"Class was supposed to start half an hour ago." Spoke a mellifluous voice which carried with it a slight exotic accent that I vaguely identified with curry and large, domed palaces. I turned and, against my long-developed training to ignore my peers, began to notice the effectively full room of students who had just spent an hour staring at nothing. The one who spoke was a slim slip of a girl, dressed in tight fitting clothes probably popular in nearby New York. He skin was a dark-ish color which I finally decided defined her as Indian.

"Perhaps Abode canceled the class by email and we all simply missed it?"

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Sneak

Since the storm of the past week, the ship had slowed rocking, giving the seamen a short reprieve from the ever-present headache of readjusting to the shifting footing. Captain Harn had decided to give the crew leave to relax, as the sky seemed clear, and had retired to his cabin for several days. Though it was sometime near afternoon, most had taken this opportunity to go below deck and get a bit of gambling in, or enjoy a few drinks without having to deal with rum-drenched clothing. After all, it was a fairly gloomy and depressing day, and they were far enough from land to relax their guard on these seas. The Marauder had been on the high seas for months; now was a time to relieve the anxiety the crew had felt over the upcoming time ashore. After the tumultuous experience escaping from the shore of the Netherlands and subsequent time spent traveling on the coast of Africa looking for a profitable sea route, the present anxious atmosphere as next to nothing to this crew, but more hardened crews had gone bad from lesser troubles.

Rumors of dangerous political going-ons in the colonies had worried most of the Britons on the ship, despite the likelihood of good sailor work being available. However the few men they had picked up from the coast of Africa, along with the Dutchmen who had decided to try their hands at sailing, seemed mainly indifferent. As it was, only a few of the crew or passengers stayed on deck in the day’s foggy atmosphere. On the deck, one vagabond, dressed in only ragged grey robes, had decided to stay, likely from unconsciousness; his body was draped over a spool of salt-encrusted rigging.

Or so it seemed to the helmsman, who made only a small notice of this before getting lost in thoughts of what would be soon an entertaining shore leave. Perhaps if he had paid more attention, he would have noticed the vagabond suddenly darting up from his place on the rigging. The vagabond, his body obscured now by the foremast, shot like an arrow up the mast’s height, moving along the rope as if gravity didn’t even apply to him. A grey streak during his ascent, at the top of his journey his figure resolved into sharp focus. Perched atop the crow’s nest, his grey robe flowed out into a cloak, revealing a thinly-clothed, wiry frame underneath.

Finding the barrelman asleep, the figure dropped down into the crow’s nest and moved to the edge, facing the bow of the ship. Reaching into his robes, he retrieved a small tube which unfolded into a telescope in his nimble hands. The vagabond looked through this at the horizon, sweeping from left to right until something caught his attention. A small patch of green, streaked with bands of brown and off-white stood at the edge of the horizon. He collapsed the telescope, placed it back within his robes, and slid his hand around into another pocket in his clothing. Feeling around for a few seconds, he was satisfied by the rough-yet-fragile texture of a small rectangle of stationery.

His fingertips felt across the gold-leafed letters “To My Associate…” before sliding further down along the paper. “Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Shadow.”.. Viktor, the vagabond, grinned. He was near his destination. For a moment he stood in thought at the crow’s nest, considering the distance between the boat and the slowly widening length of land on the horizon. The barrelman beside him stirred. With a leap, Viktor was up and over the edge of the crow’s nest. By the time the lookout cried out “Land!”, the vagabond had resumed his place, feigning unconsciousness on the spool of rope on the deck. He had a job to do, and he had a reputation to keep. He’d be damned if he’d fail to do either task.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Birthright, Part 2

As usual, the poor peasant was skeptical about Curio’s genius ideas. That’s how Curio liked to think of it. It would at least explain why he was screaming as they hurtled through the air, swinging on the end of the grappling hook’s rope like a pendulum. Typical yeoman. Distrustful and superstitious of even the simplest laws of physics. He snorted at the thought of any such peasantry fully appreciating his work, as the two of them swung on the end of the rope, the open cab of the storage car of a train showing itself to be right in the path of their swing. Immediately upon noticing this, Curio tucked in his legs, getting ready to tumble into the train. Zander, in contrast, was stiff as a board as he hurtled through the air. Tch. Probably petrified with some such pitiful fear, thought Curio.

The swing brought them to the open cab door, the rope catching on the corner as they made it in, slamming like wrecking balls into the side of the train. Thinking with a speed unnatural for most of his craft (but more natural for those who were still living) Curio immediately cut the rope and latch which bound him to Zander with his pocket knife, letting the two of the train hoppers free to roll around inside the storage car like ball bearings. The car turned out to be surprisingly empty, which was good for Zander, who rolled from the front open cab door to the back of the cab.

Curio recovered quickly and dusted himself off, rolling to his feet and standing up. Zander took a few moments more of spluttering and floundering on the ground, to which only the short frame of the mechanic responded by shaking with mirth. Finally, Curio walked over to lift the heavily-bruised Zander up from the ground. Once up, Zander shook Curio off, brushing himself off and attempting to stand on his own. Despite a few bumps in the railroad tracks, Zander managed to stand up straight and make his way to the car’s door, which he closed.
Zander turned, staring daggers at the stout man who had just sent him hurtling through the air like a wrecking ball.

“What the hell was that? Was that your great fuckin’ plan to jump onto the train?” He said, eyes squinting at Curio as he winced from the bruises.

“Awr, don’t ye get awl bent oot o’ shape o’er one ‘ickle bump!” Curio responded, chuckling as quietly as he could. “An’ quieten daown, y’laoud mouth! We dain’t ex’ctly ‘ave tickets fer this ‘ere train.”

“Oh, tickets? Oh, dear! The Noble Counsel will have to add on larceny to the murder charge they’ll slap on me when they find me standing over your corpse!” Zander said, snarling as he took a step that Curio supposed was meant to seem menacing. The stout mechanic merely gave a soft chuckle and a finger to his lips. Curio brushed past the infuriated Zander, making his way to the train cab’s door. The sudden stillness, possibly caused by the sheer tension of Zander’s death-glare at Curio’s back, was striking. The clacking of the train tracks became the only method to tell that time was passing.

Curio crept to the door, licking his lips as he did so. Once near the door, he tugged off the thick workman’s gloves that he wore, finger by finger, and stuffed them into a pouch on his belt. His fingers twitched slightly as he lowered his hand to the latch on the door, slowly flipping it up so that the door would slide loose. He held up a hand behind him as he moved to the side of the door, three fingers displayed, and began to count off the seconds. When his outstretched hand became a fist, Curio nudged open the door with only a slight cautious hesitation. For its part, the door slid ajar with an almost complete silence, for which Curio was thankful. Peering through the opening, Curio could see another dim-light train cab. The electrical light mounted along the railing of the adjacent cab’s ceiling flickered in time with the one Curio occupied. The only major difference between the cabs was the presence of a large amount of luggage. One particular piece of luggage, a large medieval suit of armor on a stand, stood out. The stout mechanic nodded thoughtfully, closed the door, and turned around to see Zander’s questioning face.

“Thurr dain‘t seem ta be ineh others in tha surr’ndin‘ cabs,” Curio began, his husky voice just above a whisper. “So Hoi think yer ickle outburst’ll be overlooked. ‘Owever…” Curio frowned in such a way that, despite his height, made Zander feel towered over. “Ye’ll refrain froom sooch childish tantrums, or ye’ll be havin’ me tannin’ yer hide.”

For emphasis, Curio pulled a large wrench the size of his own meaty arm from his tool belt and brandished it. The warrior backed away and nodded, seeming cowed.

“Just… no more flying through the air.” Zander admonished, turning and shaking out the aches in his now bruised body. “You know the saying, if man was meant to fly…”

“Aye, aye, iffen man were meant to fly, Hoi’d ‘ave gotten doon wit’ me Gyrocopter design.” Curio blustered, pacing up and down the train cab. “Och, but can ye ken ‘ow ‘orridly expensive et is ta collect tha gyro-blades? It dinnae ‘elp that tha Nobles’re such tight arses aboot independent inven’rs!”

As Curio continued to rant, his words fell on deaf ears as Zander ignored him and began to collect the loose bits and pieces of his luggage from around the cab. Muttering under his breath about lunatic inventors and the reasons why he might just be in accord with the Nobles on a point for once, the warrior picked up one buckle that had popped off one of the straps on his backpack. Zander sighed in anger, fitting the buckle back into place on his backpack, and moving on. His mind began to drift to his surroundings as he hobbled about, wincing from a bruise on his abdomen. The inside of the cab car was rusty and dry, which seemed apropos for an unused train car. Curio’s twanging accent sounded hollow in the train cab, in contrast with the joyful spring of his voice when he was outside in the country.

“You really must mean it when you say you enjoy the country.” Zander said suddenly. Curio jumped in surprise. He paused to consider the towheaded warrior’s words.

“Aye? Wull, er, aye, Hoi do. Et’s quite a break froam tha dreariness o’ city loife, y’knaow.” Curio responded, cocking his head to the side and peering through the dark at Zander. “Er, beggin’ yer pardon, but what maide ye think ta ask thaet?”

“Oh, well…” Zander said, his body creaking as he stood up from bending over to pick up a trinket he’d dropped. “It just seems that way. The country seems to have a palpable effect on you.”

“Ah.” Curio said, stroking his chin with his ungloved hand. “Wull, Hoi suppose we waon’t be seein’ tha country ineh toime saon. Hoi think we’ll need ta ride tha whole way thar, more’s tha pitty. Hoi‘d‘ve been ‘appy ta see tha flower bloomin‘ at thas toime o‘ year.” Zander nodded sagely at this, letting a small smile slip onto his face as he suddenly got a mental image of the old, gruff mechanic frolicking in a field of flowers. The smile crept further across his face, until the tall warrior was almost overcome with mirth from the image. Curio could only watch, perplexed, as he watched his companion fall into a fit of laughter.

“Wull, iffen yer done, Chuckles, Hoi think Hoi gots an oidear o’ a way we ken be getting’ off thas train wit’out any futher broosin’ o’ yer person.”

Zander looked up suddenly at this, his grin wiped completely off his face and replace by a unbelieving straight line.

“What, exactly, do you propose we do?” Zander said hesitatingly.

“Hoi’ve got a gurt oidear, y’see…” Curio began, smiling wide now that he had the yeoman’s attention. “Yer a native, yeh? So’s Hoi be thinkin’ we ken troi ae bet o’ sut’rfuge…”

Birthright, Part 1

(I wrote this yesterday, just didn't have time to type it up. Sorry guys~)

The scent of summer grass, earthy and humid, hung in the air. Its very presence signified the sheer reality of where Curio was; Outside of the cities, and most importantly, far from any form of complicated technology other than the railroad he was walking upon, the stout mechanic was both exhilarated and frightened. Beneath the rough, permanently soot-stained mask of his face, his mind was abuzz with excitement; his eyes showed it. Sullen from the outset of his journey, his attitude had changed from stoic outcast to gregarious tourist in seconds, much to the chagrin of his tall companion.

“Arh, d’ye smell that? Jest ae wiff o’ de stuff gits yer victuals a-stirred!” Curio said, beaming up at the tow-headed man, and taking in yet another long gulp of air as if he had never breathed in his life. “Hoi kinnae be knaowin’ what keeps ye so glum in such a wonderful place. I’d’ve thought ye yeomanry a damn sight cheerier thin’ those arist’crits! Tis a sad sight, iffen ye ask me.” The grimy old man guffawed at this jest and slapped Zander on the back heartily.

“Then you’ll forgive me, sir…” Zander began, rolling his shoulder to relieve the ache of the pack he wore. “If I inform you that I did not, indeed, ask you.” This served only to make the short begoggled man to laugh louder and clutch his gut as he walked along the path. Glancing back out of the corner of his eye, Zander could not help but smirk slightly at the sight of Curio in such good humor.

In a split second, Curio quit laughing and perked up, tilting his head to the side slightly. One large, gnarled ear poked up from the side of his bald head as he stood and listened, once more becoming a laughable sight to the yeoman. However, instead of expressing his entertainment, Zander watched Curio, one eyebrow raised as if posing a question. Within a few minutes of listening, the short man dropped to the ground and pressed his ear to the railroad. Realizing something, Curio nodded, jumped up from his place on the ground, and began to move a good distance away from the train tracks. Zander followed likewise.

“Hoi be thinkin’ there’ll be a train here in a few minutes… Iffen ye dinnae wan’ ter be oan foot fer the next week or two, Hoi suggest ye be getting’ ready to do as Hoi say.” Curio said, peering down the length of the railroad, judging the distance down it. Zander nodded in agreement, and dropped his pack onto the grass to the side of the railroad. Curio did likewise, his large pack full of trinkets and tools clattering heavily to the ground. Immediately he began sifting through its contents, searching for a certain tool. With a grunt approval, the mechanic pulled out a long length of rope and a grappling hook, set the two items to the side, and continued to rummage through the pack. A loud “Aha!” belt up from him as he reached deep inside and pulled out a large, heavy object. Riveted metal plates and a large rubber muzzle gleamed in the day’s sun.

“This here be me favorite hook launcher. Ye jest place the grappling hook here…” Curio began, shoving the end of the hooked metal piece into the muzzle, and turning the huge instrument over. “An’ then ye wrap de rope around this here spool, sorter like one o’ dem fishin’ rods ye yeoman folks use fer yer eatin’.” Zander nodded, mostly ignoring what the little engineer said, but seeming enthusiastic nonetheless. Curio sighed, looking up at Zander’s blank face, and let out a loud “Bah!” before standing up, now heavily armed with the large grappling hook launcher.

“Works like a gun. Ye jest aim..” Curio shifted the device up, looking through a scope built along the side, and pointed it at one of the thick branches of the overhead trees, on the left side of the train tracks. “An’ fire.” A loud sound, somewhere between a cannon firing and a cat being gutted, broke through the peaceful silence of the forest. Zander dropped to the ground first, thinking the device had malfunctioned. However, looking up to see the stout mechanic grinning down at him, he realized this was not the case. Following the line of the rope from the muzzle of the gun, Zander’s gaze went to where there was a small hole in the tree branch. Moving to the side to get a better view, Zander realized the grappling hook had not only gone into the branch, it had shot straight through the tree and latched onto the other side.

“I haete ter be losin’ sooch a fayne grapplin’ hook, but toime is maoney, as they say.” Curio said, helping the awed man up and pulling out a large strap and buckle from his pack.

“Er… so… how are we supposed to get into the train this way?” Zander asked, almost immediately regretting his question as it left his mouth at the sight of Curio’s ever-widening grin.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Hot Chocolate

As I sip this cup and enjoy the burning sensation of
Warmth spreading from my lips down my throat like a
Bomb exploding in my stomach, whose shockwaves flow out
Richly and smoothly to bring out the red in my
Cheeks, my ears are met by soft, swaying music
And the candle light flickers warm to the touch;
I tap my foot to the tune.

It’s lively, like the smiling faces and rhythmic touch
Of bodies around me, and my thawing face is in an expression of
Liveliness in kind, so all I can do is smile at the music
With my warm lips and body melting slowly like a
Wax candle with a wavering flame at the top of my
Head, or is that merely my rose? Out, out
Brief candle, I say as I tap my foot to the tune.

The liquid burns my throat, and I see a friend choke out
That the flavour is too rich for him, so I touch
My nose and laugh at the absurd image of my
Friends snorting the scalding drink out their nostrils, the image of
A dragon breathing hot fire at the peasantry in a
Castle, which plays songs like the Ring Cycle, Wagner’s music
So still I tap my foot to the tune.

My fingers join in snapping to the music
Quite feebly, like a lighter that has given out
And is now only breathing fumes of its long-gone fuel like a
Heavy smoker who has yet to get in touch
With a doctor to recommend something to cure him of
His horrible addiction, so, to lead the rhythm of my
Faltering hands, I tap my foot to the tune.

And, sweet and chaotic in the half-light,
The candle light, flickering like my finger tips
Across the smooth texture of my coat and your neck
Is craned up; I find it with my eyes and soon find
The couch is beneath me, the ceiling above
Like the sky above the valley, but it’s black
So it must be night and thus I close my eyes.

Eyelids heavy, I tap my foot to the tune.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Excavation and Memories, Part 1

It shambled. The deteriorated, dry husks that could be called its legs made visceral noises of tendons snapping and bones cracking as the creature made its stumbling way closer. Even the least discerning eye could tell this creature could not still live; its body structure was entirely askew, as if someone had twisted it into its new posture haphazardly. Its entire body was dried out, the skin was paper-like, the eyes lacking the normal luster of life. How long it had inhabited these ruins was anyone’s guess, and if Thoreau’s guess was the correct one, it had ‘lived’ there long enough to die three times over.

The scholar ran over a few thoughts as he watched the creature move closer. The singular most representative aspect of these unnatural creatures, the undead, was their complete lack of body language. The truly animated dead moved without purpose or awareness. They were affected by little concerning mind games or willpower; they knew no fear because they knew nothing. They were like puppets on strings, and yet these string had no master to pull them. The only thing that drove this abomination was its last command: to kill all creatures it could find in these ancient halls and thusly guard the secrets hidden therein. At this point, all that could be done was either destruction of the mindless puppet, or to take control of the strings. And, as the scholar knew, due to his current capabilities, the former would have to do.

As the shambling monstrosity drew closer, it began to kick up the dust and litter strewn across the ancient floor. Swirling into the air, the dust outlined the silhouette of another creature, skeletal in shape. Thoreau, the scholar, took a step back and let his face betray a grin. Brown eyes turned bright white as, shaping the form with his thoughts, Thoreau forced the silhouette to turn around and draw back an arm. With immense force, the dust-limned creature slammed its skeletal limb through the abdomen of the undead monster.

After the commotion, Thoreau picked up the small tome the creature had been guarding, brushed off the years of dust and decay covering the embossed letters of "The Great Inferno", and began to read.


"The Great Inferno"

as remembered by Pyr Thalàssion.

The fire swept on. A wonderful kaleidoscope of orange flame and red ember flowed through the land. Grass and tinder, wood and leaf, animal and man all mixed to a great crescendo of warring, rolling, wavering flame. Amazing power in the touch of heat all together, a mestizo life form needing nothing and just creating… removing all the taint of the world and bringing it all together to a glorious existence. The beginning is the end.

With soot stained finger tips was this written, and a beautiful char it remains. A manuscript depicted the most horrible and awesome events in history, and showed it for it was. The inevitable, beautiful coalescence of life and being. A flickering flame, a roaring bonfire, a blazing atmosphere, a world on fire, a fire storm of life. The purity of reason shocks Life itself.

An ash tree was the tree of life and now a tree of ash is all that remains. Yggdrasil burnt to a cinder, a wondrous flame that showed till the end against the night sky, which was all but destroyed by the luminescence. The only thing to mark that there ever was such a scorched sky was the smoke growing in the heavens. Gods are no longer content on their laurels. Life will be but fire and brimstone, but fire and brimstone so pure and bright that none can deny their willingness to take part. Creation was. Birthing, beginning flame made sure of all things, ash would stay. And so the galaxy would burn too, pockets of gas alight for aeons eternal.

The stars would flame with the trees, the final candle light vigil for the past tense. And nothing would be remembered. This was the way it should be.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Paranormal Psychology, Part 1

There are many kinds of stories, and several times more ways to tell them, and still more reasons for telling them in the first place. There are simple ways to describe these reasons, and complex ways to describe them, but for now let's follow Ockham and stick to simple. Some stories are told to feel good, to rejoice and celebrate, to yell and clap and jump as high as you can and feel the air all around. These kinds of stories lift you up and let you look around in starry-eyed wonder at the world and miracles around you. These are the kind that make you look up at the sky and try to fit the shapes of clouds to shapes you've seen before. These stories make things better. This is not one of those stories.

It started with something so innocuous that it's almost laughable to think of it now. An email, the pink coloration of which glowed from the screen urgently in an ill-advised attempt to get my attention, with a tag line denoting it as being from one of the faculty at the college I was attending. It read as follows:


To: Henry Ian Tham
From: Professor Isaac Abode

You have been randomly selected from our school's allocation of Psychology students to participate in an alternate course which will serve as credit in any course you wish. You will assist me, Professor Abode, in conducting experiments and research in the field of Paranormal Psychology. My office is in the old library, now known as the Fjord building, and I will be there to answer any pertinent questions. Should this arrangement be contrary to your wishes, please contact the Dean's office to be placed back into the standard Paranormal Psychology classes.

Thank you for reading,

Professor Abode

P.S. Any liability for injuries or accidents incurred during the duration of the course are heretofore automatically waived and forgotten based on a NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) hereby agreed to by the student by accepting and participating in the course.


Clicking closed a few windows on my laptop computer, I turned to an approaching customer. Disgusted, I noted his violation of the “no shirt, no shoes, no service” policy.

“What, dear patron, would you like?” I said, hesitating on the word 'patron'. The scruffy, overweight man scratched his balding scalp and then gave me one of the oddest glares I have ever had the fortune of experiencing.

“Hoi tink hoi’ll ‘ave a cuppa joe, iffen ye’ll oblige meh.” The man said in a husky, gritty accent that I once heard in a dying homeless man.

“I see.” I responded, shifting over to pull a pot of deep, black liquid off its place on the counter and pour its contents into a small cup. “Black? Cream? Sugar?”

The man grinned, showing off a startling array of darkened, yellowed teeth, more than seemed possible to fit into a mouth, and laughed sepulchrally.

“Hoi’ll take me cuppa black, lad.”

I turned around, as much to get a lid for the up as to remove the utterly unnerving sight of his face from my view. “You’re not from around here, are you?” I said, picking a lid out from among the jumble of condiments, cups, and bags of creamer.

When I turned back, he was gone. The cup was empty (a piping hot cup of coffee, downed within seconds?) and next to it laid a small, silver coin. I shudder to admit to it, but as my gaze searched the café for that man’s grubby form, I could’ve sworn I got a whiff of brimstone.
“Sir?” My voice echoed hollowly in the suddenly very empty café.

After this experience, I had much difficulty sleeping. As you probably knew I would, I kept both the cup and the coin. The coin itself proved rather peculiar. Emblazoned on its face was a symbol of a man’s profile, with alarming goat horns adorning his head. What I first supposed was silver was much more durable and almost stainless in comparison to any other metal I know of. It looked almost to be made of liquid, as if it were a hollow glass coin filled with quicksilver, the way it glistened.

It occurred to me that perhaps something in the makeup of the coin or some other… less tangible quality of its being is interrupting my sleep. However, I had this creeping feeling that should I have left the coin alone it would have disappeared just as mysteriously as its owner. I supposed that for the moment I’d simply suffer insomnia. It is not so bad a thing, as I still suffer it, and it provides impetus for getting more work done in the day.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Private Thoughts

Waiting for the subway has never been comfortable for me. Just looking around, I see the crumbling city; Here is a shambling husk of what most likely used to be successful young man, tugging the sleeves of his former peers and pleading for a few metallic clumps of sustenance; Here is a cracked wall, once resplendent in the collected art of the city and now marred by peeling paint and the tags of some gang or another; And here is me, thinking myself separate from all this degradation and decay. I would laugh at it all, but then I would probably realize which of these examples is responsible for this deterioration. I would realize what cracked this concrete, what bred the rats crawling in the corners, and what forced the poor and disabled into this second-class citizen existence.

So I'm uncomfortable in that lull, in those subterranean catacombs which only exist to get me somewhere else faster, to keep me moving and my mind in a blur. The city is a drug and I take it so I don't have to notice all of the walking tragedies around me. My day begins and ends without me having to think about anything more complex than maybe a bit of math involving my work and who's the band that will be showing in my favorite nightclub. Maybe I'll have to worry about my job sometime soon, but that's for some future day that doesn't exist to me right now. That's how it works, and that's how I like it. My day would be perfect, except for those little moments in time that seem to infinitely divisible by the time wasted by whatever method of passing the time I can think up.

It's not as bad when I'm actually riding the subway, because then I can simply let my mind drift and think about the people who built the tunnels around me. Then, I can look at my lap and blast whatever noise I want into my ears instead of watching the descendant of those great builders who made this city as he begs for change. I've perfected the technique; It's almost like portable complete sensory deprivation. Funny that the most trance-like part of the day is when I'm least introspective. Or extrospective. I knew it was a good choice to take those meditation lessons. I'll have to thank whoever suggested that to me later. I'm sure I'll figure out who that is later.

There's all this civic guilt around me, but that's not the worst part of waiting for the train. The people are the problem. I hate them. I fear them. I fear that every one of them will turn on me any second and when I stand here with a newspaper folded under my arm my mind flits through every horror story I saw in the newspaper, online, and on the dreaded idiot box about the brutal and terrible capacity for violence that every one of these creatures must be full of. When this happens, my eyes peer at each one in turn, and I'm fairly sure every one of them around me must think that the creepy, tall young man in the black business suit at the front of the line for the subway is about to explode. Which I might be, because one of them might have stolen my suitcase while I wasn't looking and switched it with one of those horrible explosives that have hit every other city but this one, and isn't it about time?

Uncomfortable, to say the least. I'd like to keep this sort of thing private, but some day there'll be a headline about how some young man had a panic attack and leapt off the station platform in an attempt to get away from some unseen attacker or something. Here's hoping I meet that bomb instead, eh?

There's nothing like having your fears validated.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Let Yourself Bloom

"Well, damn."

He couldn't tell the difference anymore. He inspected every inch of his composure with slow, robotic motions, twisting his head from right to left and tilting it up and down. Finally David harrumphed, eyes locked with his reflection. Maybe he was just imagining it, maybe it was just the light, or maybe he was just jaundiced, but he could almost swear he was turning a distinct shade of yellow. He gave one last glare to his mirror doppelganger before he flicked off the harsh yellow light of the bathroom. He sulked in the sudden darkness. Perhaps he'd check in his truck's rear view mirror later.

That thought made him let out a short, bark of a laugh. He could use his truck, if only it wasn't in the shade. David supposed it was in the shade, at least. Something told him it would be pretty dark under a mountain of rubble and years of littering. Then again, that's where most things around his house had gone after the earthquakes. Perhaps a streetlight was still working down there. He caught a glimpse of light streaming in from the window behind him and turned around. He sighed, stirring up motes of dust as he stared at the windowsill’s scene of devastated vegetation.

"Now, you and I have to talk about this 'wilting' thing that you've gotten into..."

The syllables came out rough and hollow. Grimacing, he coughed to clear his throat as he tip-toed about the small bathroom. His hands groped around in the dim light until finally settled upon a small watering pitcher. David turned his eyes to the water faucet and the lines under his eyes softened for a moment. At least the 'quakes hadn't hit the water lines.

"I'm telling you, it's just a trend, and if you really want the other plants to think you're neat, you need to just be yourself."

He chortled, turning to the faucet and twisting the dirty knobs above the sink until a trickle of clean water poured down into the pitcher. His eyes glistened as he watched the sunlight strike the water, making it sparkle as it trickled out of the faucet. The water ceased its flow and David caught the last few droplets in the pitcher with care. He looked back up, pitcher in hand, smiled at his plants, and in his mind they smiled back. The pitcher lifted in his hands, tilting to let the water play across the dirt of each one of the pots. His mind imagined the roots shivering like a couple caught in a downpour.

"I mean, just look at me! I don't change one whit of myself for anyone, and I have friends!"

He splashed the excess water over his rough hands. It seeped into his cracked skin with a refreshing coolness, making David flex the muscles underneath with a slow methodical persistence. His hands flew to his sides as he stretched which caused his back to make a satisfying cracking sound before flipping the lights back on and looking into the mirror again. His reflection glared back. The skin below his eyes drooped, the dark bags adding to the illusion that he was just a large, bruised, and browning banana. The mirror brought his countenance into sharp definition as he leaned forward. A grin inched across his face as he inspected his surprisingly white teeth, fingers pulling the edge of his mouth to one side, and then the other.

His fingers faltered and began to fall to his sides. Only the wide, rigid grin was left upon his face. His hands slapped against the sides of his legs, limp. For a few ponderous heartbeats he stood as if in a daze. In a sudden act of animation, his back shivered sporadically from the growing warmth as the sun crept up his spine; the grin, which at first had seemed to be etched onto his gruff visage, melted easily into a soft, reproachful smile.

"You just gotta let yourself bloom."

Monday, June 9, 2008


If our lids were to fall off,
The insides of our heads
Would spill upon the ground,
And how strange it would be
To walk upon the land,
Dancing on dreams,
Tripping over doubts,
Nightmares, and regrets.

The haberdasher knows this
And works at his craft to create
Ever tighter lids
To keep our crucibles in check.
Toppers for all the gents,
Bonnets for all the ladies,
Because, in the end,
He knows all our cups overflow.

A visionary is this noble craftsman,
Working in his soup kitchen for the Greater Good,
Handing out felt and cloth soup bowls.
For, as we know,
To the destitute race of man,
Our gruel is hope,
Our broth is fantasy,
Our food is thought.

If our lids were to fall off,
It would be a beautiful apocalypse.
Iridescent rainbows would
Flow from our open tops.
Phantasms, all the plans that were and will be,
All the beauties in the eyes of the beholders,
The things that go bump in the night,
Fears, fallacies, ideals, and finally purity,
Would fly from our great and terrible Pandora's boxes.

But despite this beauty,
Or perhaps because of it,
A sadly inevitable tragedy would occur,
For in the midst of this awesome display,
Reveries and chimeras would twine.
Thoughts and feelings would pour
Into lakes and rivers and seas
And turn, as one, to