Archive for nightmares

The Girl Waking Up

Posted in Prose with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 31, 2018 by beautifulimposter

The eyes looked at her, looked through her, seemed to see everything there was in her to see, stripped through layers of pretense, the little fictions everyone maintains to stay whole, to stay sane. Two eyes glimmering in the dark, deep, as deep as the night sky in the spaces between the stars, rings of amber and gold circling wells of black just staring, seeing, knowing. Then the waves of it, falling down and down into them, the gravity of them pulling, smothering, the terrifying feeling of being alone, suffocating in its pure emptiness, it was too much, too alien and all on its own, singular and empty, oh so empty, not even air, no air, no…

Abby gasped awake, lids slamming open, taking in air with deep gulps. A trembling hand pressed against her forehead, slick with a thin sheen of sweat, fingers pushing the few stands of her hair back and up as she rose up from the dream. The room was still dark, still coming into focus, but it wasn’t the full velvet dark of true night, it had silver about the edges of it hinting at morning. Her head turned, hand fumbling now for her phone, thumbing the home key, the thin white numbers declaring at to be a bit after six am.

“Fuck me” the words hissed out into the thick, muggy air of her dim room. She closed her eyes again and found the dark behind them mercifully empty. The eyes had disappeared once more. She had no idea why she dreamed them, why a dream of eyes was so very frightening, but it was and they were just the same. The room was hot as hell but her skin was nothing but goosebumps and she shivered. “Get it together” a deep breath, then another. Abby sat up, throwing her legs over the side of her bed, kicking free from the twisted sheet. Daylight filtered in from behind the curtains, outlining the familiar clutter of her room. The dream faded away, being forgotten with each breath.

Time to get up I guess she thought to herself, pushing away from the bed, stumbling through the blanket of clothes, feet shuffling, eyes in that half open not quite awake squint as she wandered into the bathroom. Flicking on the light, cursing it’s brightness Abby fumbled her way through the usual ritual. She swore again as she stepped into the shower, the water turned full cold to wash off the stickiness, settling into the cool relief of it after a while. She hummed a bit, the remains of the night swirling down the drain.

On to the kitchen/living room, pulling on the old Murmurs t-shirt that had used to be her big sister’s, the fabric dragging on her still damp skin. Standing in front of the sink, water filling up the carafe, looking out the window but not really seeing anything, the usual line of flat, grey buildings crawling beneath the sky. Once the coffee was on, the machine gurgling to itself in a warm, fragrant steam, Abby untwisted the plastic bag, pulling out an English muffin, carefully plunging a fork into the soft, squidgy sides of it, pulling it apart just so that it came away in two halves of jagged deliciousness. Toaster, butter, jam, mug of coffee, sit.

Abby scrunched herself up small on the kitchen chair, taking a big, ungainly bite out of her toasted muffin, fully awake now. The light grew brighter and whatever bad dreams she’d had melted. A bit of buttery jam dripped down her chin and she wiped it up into her mouth. This was always her best time, sitting alone, watching the morning growing, eating breakfast, the only sound the rattling clank of the nearly useless air conditioner wheezing from her bedroom window. She absent mindedly pushed around the ripped envelopes and scraps of paper on the battered tabletop. The sight of a bill nagged at her but she pushed the thought back. It was her day off and she just didn’t feel like dealing with it now. She would eventually, of course, just not now.

The appearance of the bird nearly gave her a heart attack. Wings battered the air outside the kitchen window, muffled by the glass but the flurry of movement and sudden sound was magnified by the silence. A black, bullet head above a white collar stared at her from the fire escape railing, cocked at a curious angle.

“What’re you looking at?” Her heart was still hammering as she got up and walked over to the counter for a closer look. The bird, a magpie she thought, just kept looking at her, it’s eyes two tiny drops of ink. “Enjoying the view?” Abby chuckled softly, shrugged, then went to get dressed. It wasn’t too unusual, birds gathered outside all the time, but mostly pigeons. She couldn’t shake the feeling that it was actually watching her either, but she shrugged the idea off. Just a dumb bird.

A few moments later and Abby was out the door, stuffing keys into her jeans pocket, grabbing her camera from the hook in the hall, hanging the strap around her neck. It was still early and there probably wouldn’t be that many people out and about which suited her just fine. Maybe she could get some nice shots in by the river, catch the light on the water just right. The outside air hit her cheeks, already warm, promising to be unbearable as the sun rose. She moved along quickly, eyes alert, the few vague people shapes catalogued in her head as she walked to the end of her street, took a left into the park. It was just early enough that the breeze was still able to rustle the leaves above, the sound of it so soothing. Why can’t it just always be like this Abby thought, just quite and soft. She never once looked up though, didn’t notice the narrow, sleek, dark shapes fluttering from branch to branch.

The water slipped by the low, grassy banks, it’s surface ribbons of current breaking up the sunlight. The big willow overhung the river, slender branches trailing in the flow of it. Abby squatted down, pulling the camera up, focusing it on the shifting patterns of light and dark. These were going to turn out well, she could feel it, almost see the images forming on the film as she clicked away. The second thunderous fluttering of the day had her stumbling back, landing on her ass.

“Jesus fucking christ, what is it with you today?!?” This time it was a large crow, his wings settling along his back like a schoolmasters hands. He cocked his head to one side, then the other, croaking softly. Abby gave a crooked grin, watching him hop-step in front of her. Without quite knowing why, she brought her camera to bear once more. “Want your picture taken, that it?” She clicked away, muttering under her breath, “that’s it, oh yeah, fierce, work it, oooooh, right there, a bit more pout, lemme see those bedroom eyes.” In spite of herself Abby laughed as the crow strutted back and forth, occasionally giving the thick grass a vicious pecking. “You know a pervy magpie by any chance?”

“Crawk!” It was almost, but not quite a response. A strange feeling prickled at the base of Abby’s neck, the fine hairs standing up. “What’s got into these fucking birds today?” She stood, taking a step back. Whatever peace she’d felt, the satisfaction of doing a thing she loved, how she saw the world through the camera lense fled. “Seriously, go fuck yourself Mr. Crow” Brow crinkled, Abby turned away, walking back the way she’d come. She’d need to stop by work, get her check, then the bank. Her mind wandered back on to normal thoughts, trying to push away the sudden oddness. Were there really more birds than usual? No, just her vicious mind toying with he again. “Get a fucking grip”

Abby left the park, her feet finding the familiar grooves, the growing sounds of cars and people washing over her, walking off the unease behind her. Just another day, one more in a long line of them, same as before, same as the next. She let out a sigh and went over her list, the things that needed done. As she let herself get carried out into the city, Abby didn’t once look up, didn’t see the flock of crows and magpies trailing behind her like autumn leaves, didn’t feel the eyes on her, black ringed with amber gold watching from their perch upon the blank streetlight as she passed beneath. They followed her until she walked out of sight, another girl fading into the crowd.

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Consequences

Posted in Prose with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 21, 2018 by beautifulimposter

Fitful light flickers about, defining shapes more from shadow than illumination. It wouldn’t matter much, as I’m well familiar with the landscape of an artist’s room, bare floorboards, paint chipped cupboards, a table with mixmatched legs, two lonely chairs, small, narrow bed with rumpled sheets. They never change much, perhaps the decorations a bit, but in all the centuries, for every one I’ve walked into, they’re all the same. Perhaps they come as a kit of some kind when you buy your brushes or first slab of clay.
What light that is cast shimmers over the artist’s skin, cold, coruscating flames writhing over bare shoulders, limning the line of the spine, seething upwards from the brows in a crown of colors unseen and undreamt of. The floor around his bare feet is littered with brushes, palette knives, crumpled rags, the shed detritus of creation, all of it showered in weird sparks raining from frenzied fingers scratching at canvas, piles and drifts of madness making it seem that he’s standing in a puddle of live coals. It is far too much, not right at all.
I approach slowly, looking over his shoulder. The canvas is a mire of brush strokes, cuts, finger slashes, the paint nearly an inch thick in places, layered, textured, water colors mixed with acrylics mixed with oils mixed now with thick, dark streaks of blood. His breath is labored, what May once have been a skinny but well sculpted chest is now a collapsing caricature of itself, rising and falling in paper bag rattles. Sweat gleams over taught skin, pale, almost waxen yet not, somehow less, like badly rendered tallow, rancid and running. He clearly can’t see any longer, not the canvas or the room at least, his eyes wide, the whites only nail pairing crescents around the edges of iris and pupil. This has been going on for days. I purse my lips, turning my eyes to follow his.
Lounging upon a rug, clothing discarded in a heap upon a third chair, completely nude glimmers a slim, perfect creature, long hair flowing in perfect summer honey cascades down rounded shoulders, narrow cheek bones sharp, alien, yet still beautiful, mouth set in a decadent pout. I shake my head, impatient, vexed, dealing with the fae is always a tedious task.
“Let him go” the words resound in the dim room, a clap of thunder within a space that over days has been accustomed only to scraps and breath.
“Why should I?” Petulance drips with every syllable. “He’s lovely, and so full of passion, so much beauty. He said he wanted to paint me, that he’d never been more inspired. I just gave him what he wanted” it doesn’t even look at me as it speaks, it’s lavender eyes looking adoringly upon the artist in the way only a predator can look upon its prey. My presence is at best a nuisance.
“I’m quite sure he would have balked more if he’d been aware of your price, but that’s entirely beside the point. You should not be here.”
“Why not? I am of the free folk, in high standing within my court, I shall do as I please, not heed the whinging of the doorman because I didn’t pay him mind, go back to your junkyard realm and leave us be, he’s got so much more to give” it purrs, stretching a languid arm out, fingers caressing the air as if running over the hollowed, fevered cheek of its “lover”. I can’t help but shudder.
“You crossed into The Real when it is not your season, The Rules are clear on this. If you don’t leave of your own will, I will have to take steps.”
It turns to me then, contempt etched upon its perfect face, lips turned upwards in a condescending sneer. “And what, pray tell, can you do ragged king? I know full well in your realm you may not be defied, but you are not in your realm now are you? You are here, in the mortal world and I am a Seelie lord in the fullness of my power.” It rises slowly, a new light, wild and green washes outward from it, lapping in waves onwards. It has a strong Glamour, making the Real shimmer and boil. I’m unimpressed, yawning slowly, pressing the back of my hand over my mouth. It reaches more deeply, tendrils of power lashing out, power that could rend a mind apart, have the target of it clawing out their eyes in adoration, or digging beneath their ribs to make a gift of their heart.
“Poor fool, get thee gone swiftly, your better gives you leave, tattered magpie, I fear you not!!!”. My coattails flutter out behind me, the force it exerts rising to a gale, blowing up strange shapes out of the dust. Everything to excess with them, the fair folk, no subtlety whatsoever. Rare that a member of Summer’s Court should be so cruel and rapacious, but no matter. I allow it to feel it’s triumph, for a moment at least, the threads of enchantment tugging at my clothes yet finding no purchase.
“Are you finished?” As I watch the expression change from arrogant gloating to incredulity I continue gathering The Boarderlands closer, seeping inward on soft feet. What most seem to forget whenever I’m called upon to fulfill my duty is that all a boarder is is a line between things. You can always just redraw the line wherever it’s needed, my realm is only ever a shadows thickness away. Whilst my Seelie was so full of his stolen passion and power, I was calling it towards me. It hadn’t even noticed the room changing, the walls falling away, replaced by brambles and Victorian lampposts and other oddities that could be perched upon. Since it seemed bent on resisting to the last, I feel its destruction should serve some useful purpose, and the brethren hadn’t feasted so well in a long time.
As the Real fades, they come, inky feathers whispering, alighting on branches, ruffs standing out stiff, gleaming blue black, silent save for a small croak here and there. Bead eyes all focused on the fae, now seeming small, it’s nakedness now painfully apparent, casting its glance about itself now, a cornered small animal within a tight ring of ravens and crows. It’s power lashes in fits, yet here, as my realm is neither here nor there, not the bright fields of Arcadia or the drab pavements of the mundane, the green tendrils fade into the smoke they always were. Skergaal, my seneschal alights upon my shoulder, bowing.
“You called us my lord?”
“Do what is needful, leave me two, but let the rest feed” I turn then, as Skergaal lifts from his perch, replaced one on either side by two others. I walk away with my hands clasped behind my back, unhurried, as the croaking grows louder, the suserous of feathers impatient.
“No, no, you cannot!!! I am a lord, you do not dare…no, please, please no!!!” One by one, The Murder lives up to its name, beaks and claws tearing as the brethren descend, eclipsing the bright, shining fae inside a clot of night that writhes and screams…the screams will go on for some time, and that part makes me smile a grim smile. I don’t kill often, nor with pleasure, but cruelty sometimes must be answered in kind. The shrieks echo away as I let The Boarder fade, rising back towards the artist’s rooms.
The poor boy is on his knees, weeping, hands dripping paint and blood, his hair limp in front of his eyes. Lost, broken, arms akimbo, fingers flexing in spasms, the discarded toy of a spoiled child. I kneel down, gently lifting his head, looking into his eyes, hoping, but not much. He had been ravaged so hard, if anything other than insanity looked back at me I’d be astonished. Yet, there, far in the back, a slim flicker, some remembrance of who and what he used to be before he was just a vessel to be drunk from. The crows hop from my shoulders to his lightly, dipping thier heads as if to whisper into either ear, yet their sharp beaks slide into his temples without resistance. Normally, when I gather to me my treasures, I never take the thing itself, just the form it impresses upon the never. This time though, it would be monstrous to leave him with these memories.
“You’ve been ill my boy, very ill indeed, a deep fever that’s left you weak, given you such foul dreams, but it is past now, the fever broken. You will mend, rest, be whole again soon.” As Memory and Thought do their work I lift him up, guide him to his bed. He’s frail, but will recover. I should have been more alert, perhaps I should spend less time on my hobbies, maybe I could have prevented any lasting damage. These violations seem to come more and more frequently, despite ancient treaties and Rules. A sign of the times perhaps.
I turn, taking in the canvas at last. Carved through the paint is a slim figure, once pale but now streaked with red, deep tissue purple, flesh hanging in rags, hanging from a thorn bush, formerly regal features twisted into a rictus, screaming agony forever. It has to be said, the boy has talent, it’s an incredible likeness. I take the painting, waste not, want not, and I stride back into The Boarderlands, leaving not a trace.

Turn of the Tide

Posted in Poetry, Social Commentary with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 8, 2017 by beautifulimposter

There is rust upon the tongue, flakes of grit
The taste of metallic decay, bitter silences
Poisoning all thought, each stillness the longer echoing
Of all the words trapped beneath cowardice
Or strangling themselves stillborn,
Infinite infant corpses dangling faux tears
Strung grisly ornamental from spiny, crusted lashes.

Something rotten indeed
Cloying, unlovely, limping mockery
Nuzzling lascivious leaving viscous fingerprints
Stains beneath the flesh, the marks of remembrance
Bruises and cuts clawed desperate fingers digging
Oh, to remove the cancer bequeathed
Undressing bare to the bone not ever clean enough.

Bouquets of fear in full bloom thorn tearing
Wrung hands raw, wounds upon wounds
Every day, over and over and over
One moment, one touch, one word, or look, or any other abuse
The wreaths hung choking in lungs buried beneath
Crushing weights, pinned butterfly beneath the thumb of oceans
Gasping in the dark alone and alone and alone…

…when of a sudden, a match is struck,
Timid flickering, more shadow than orange burning
But warmth where there was cold, a point
Fixed, a spar to cling, then another upon another
Till there is a torrent of pricks in the night
A blaze, one into one into many and there is a raging blossom
Strong and terrible and righteous.

Terrible Instruments

Posted in Poetry with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 7, 2017 by beautifulimposter

The sunlight today is an act of violence,
Arrows slicing the clouds to ribbons
Such awesome and terrible storms of light,
Bright and ragged banners streaming
Battle cries thundering along the channels
Of the raging winds.

I once laid in a fever, between dream and vision
The roof above my head ripped away
The vaults of the night sky split
As overripe fruit, edges ragged as wounds
The pulp and pith of the heavens
A yawning, hungry, pure flame.

Angels peered over the edges,
Mouths bloody, teeth wicked and sharp
Wings of blackened, pitted iron spreading
A rustling of edges and rust
Hungry, feral, carrion birds eying their feast
Beautiful the way a naked blade is still lovely.

Frozen to the sweat soaked sheets
Bones the kindling for the fire set in my flesh
Unmoving, tears burning canyons into my cheeks
For the first time feeling the death in me,
Printed upon each cell as blackletter,
A whispering mirrored by the watchers’ lips,
As threads sewn beneath the skin,
Tied and knotted, a skein, a tapestry.

The fever broke, yet still I feel the tugging,
Still out of the corner of my eye
Wings beat at the shadows
Pinned beneath all my words,
All the brutal blood and sex and mortality
Tainting blue skies and sunlight
So that I will never not see the tooth marks left
By God’s terrible instruments.

A Room and A Chair

Posted in Poetry with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 12, 2015 by beautifulimposter

There is no conceivable measurement
Of the distance between where I am
From where I saw myself
A gulf of time and regret
Bad decisions and inaction
Old ghosts and fading memories
A scattering of busted toys
Tumbled about my feet, littering the floor
Around my chair.

Music plays faint and scratchy
Popping and hissing through the dusty silence
Voices that never fade out
Crackling reminders spinning out and on
Needle cutting tracks out of my fingerprints
Smudging bloody over skin
Smears of bright color across sepia
Twisting smokey though amber whiskey lense
Choking down fire to bitter ashes
We all do fall down…don’t we?

Rags and feathers
These instruments of faith and sex and God
Right, isn’t that how the line goes?
I was beautiful in my brokeness
But you twist yourself into those shapes of damage
And it sticks, limbs twisted
Into driftwood gnarled water carvings
Bones have memory and are hard to untangle
Too brittle, snapping under the weight of scrutiny.

Time passes like a razor
Slicing paper thin, peeling a rind
Of blank tape, spooling out
In meaningless ribbons just waiting
For a random spark
Something hungry to move from me to nothing
Faintly flickering orange greedy tongues
Leaving an empty chair
In a dusty room
With a scattering of busted toys at its feet.

Black Water

Posted in Poetry with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 2, 2014 by beautifulimposter

In the still, silent watches of the night
When the quiet is so complete
All you hear is the blood
Ringing in your ears
When you are empty and so utterly alone
That’s the moment.

You can feel it
Laying in bed, the cold, black water
Rising dark tides
Lapping around the foundations
Worm gnawing the buttresses and bulwarks
Freezing marrow, so cold
Nothing left, not even breath
You can’t breathe, can’t even remember
What to breathe is.

Rusty trap fingers of pitted iron
Snap tight around your heart
You swear you can feel your pulse flutter
Struggling like a pigeon in a snare
Pounding, any second to leap
In bloody shreds from your groaning ribs
But you can’t move
Because you’re not there
No body, just horrible consciousness
Being swallowed screaming into
The big empty.

It’s only then, when you are almost gone
And you’re sure they will find
Your cold corpse screaming silent forever
In those last few moments before your mind
Is blown out and smothered
The silence is pierced
Low, mournful, desolate
A train howls out and you snap back
Knuckles aching, sucking air into fossilized lungs
Every nerve and fiber singing hot
Live wires twisting beneath the skin
Forcing your failing limbs
Churning upwards through grave dirt
Or maybe just cold black water
With the lingering fear
One night you won’t breach the surface.

Techno Babble

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 9, 2014 by beautifulimposter

Fevered imaginings stir
Cauldron bubbling technicolor
Adjust the vertical hold
Saturation bleed over abundance
Spilling torrents of pulp fiction
Long legged dames
Smoking gun lips
Hard boiled flint eyed
Fish hook fingered
Along side knights in tarnished armor
Rumpled trench coat
Wounded, weary
Still fighting ’cause the fight
Is all they know
Until you change the channel
Universal remote control shift
So now Sam Spade
Is a vampire slayer
Cagliostro now huckstering his way
Through “Let’s Make A Deal”
Dripping sequins and badly applied eyeliner
Rubbing the cat in the hat the wrong way
There can be only one direction
Which is everywhere at once
Paint splattered pinwheel
Sloppy primary coloring spindles
Bringing earthy dreams to
Maidens who need them
Sticky hot limbic night sweating
All brought on by a little prick
Applied in just the right spot
Chain smoking reaction
Here the mulberry bushes go round us
Tilt a whirling zoetrope
Streaming download mental architecture
Failure to accommodate your offense
Does not compute
This is virtually the only reality
Plural worlds multiply
Growing from my brainstem
All knotted baobab
Groaning bows let fall madness
The snozzberries are a lie
But they taste the best
When paired with a nice dandelion wine
From the October country
Vineyards twisting thoughts into dreams
Friday night lights sandwiched
Between layers of flesh and brocade
Rioting hordes rising up
Clamoring, one last shout
Multitudes living, fucking, killing
Just beneath the eggshell mask
Of my skin.