The houses have no doors.

My name is Eleanor. That much I am sure of. Whatever else I tell you from here on out are the facts as I know them, but I cannot promise, with any certainty, that I am telling the truth. It’s not that I’m lying – it’s that reality is shifting. Changing shape.

Being replaced.

But for now, my name is Eleanor.

I live in a house I’ve never seen before, in a town that nobody can identify, with a young boy who says his name is Mr. Eli.

He is six-years-old, likes dinosaurs and aliens (“But not alien dinosaurs,” he tells me angrily, toys frozen mid-air in his white-knuckled fists. “The law forbids it.”), and has a monster under his bed he calls “Nana”. He is my son.

When I went to bed in my other life, I did not have a son.

I believe I do have family, though. Just not here… wherever “here” is. I have tried to contact them, but phone numbers are out of order; texts won’t send; e-mails come back “user unknown”; letters are returned unopened, a large red stamp across the front reading “UNAVAILABLE”.

I got through once. The man on the other end – my brother, James – said he didn’t have a sister, and hung up. I hit redial, but the phone number had been disconnected.

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Cindy’s Place

I finished it sooner than I thought I would, or else I wouldn’t have posted that preview. Oh well.

Warnings: It’s a horror story, so…

Cindy’s Place

Mother was always the secretive type.

She was for shit at hiding presents or keeping her opinions to herself, and if she was angry at Father, everybody heard about it, but Mother kept her secrets just fine.

Mother used to teach preschool, but had gotten married and twice pregnant in the span of four years, and became a stay-at-home mom instead. This was supposed to mean that childrearing was her new job, but unlike her stint as a preschool teacher, Mother didn’t seem to take this job seriously.

Still, the house was kept, the children fed, the dogs maintained, and because her moods were usually intolerable, her company wasn’t exactly missed when she took to her room and didn’t come out for hours at a time.

Nor did anyone complain when she left the house in the early afternoon without so much as a goodbye, only turning up again at dinner time, each hand clutching a greasy paper bag filled with cold food.

The kids – two of them, ages 7 and 8, both girls and neither possessing of any true fondness for the other – rarely even noticed her absences. They had their toys, TVs, books, dogs, and imaginations to keep them busy. Since they didn’t much care for each other, they kept to themselves, and so neither was able to engage the other in any speculation in regards to Mother’s whereabouts, or bond over their shared disdain for the woman who had, for whatever reason, given birth to them.

After a while, Mother became a concept, really, just a formality. Someone to heat the frozen dinners and sign the permission slips.

It was a perfectly fine arrangement, until Father fucked it up.

Continue reading

Awake

October. The sneaking onset of darkness suggested a much later hour, but it was early yet. Too early for her to be in bed already, but what difference did the hour make anyway? She’d been lying there for days…

The light patter of rain tapping at the roof muffled his footsteps as he crept down the hall to her room. There was no reason to be quiet. But there was no reason to rampage through the house like an asshole, either. So he was quiet. Stealthy. Sneaky. Moving soundless toward the door to her room, and the only noise to be heard was the endless ticking of that weird little clock she kept beside her bed, even though she’d never bothered to set the time.

“What difference does it make?” She’d asked, and he’d shrugged his shoulders in response, because he wasn’t going to argue with her over a cheap thrift store cast off she shouldn’t have bought in the first place. He’d shrugged his shoulders, and left her alone with her useless clock with the hands keeping track of some alternate timeline, in another universe where maybe she gave some semblance of a shit, but probably not.

The room was dark. The heap of blankets in the middle of the bed was motionless, but he knew better than believe it.

She was awake. She was always awake. She hadn’t slept since the night in the basement. Nightmares on both sides of her eyelids now, but at least the ones while she was awake could be contained.

So he hoped, anyway.

Her skin had taken on a vaguely gray pallor, and her eyes stared at him, unblinking, from heavy, sleep-bruised lids. He could still see the faint stains of unwashed makeup crusted in her lashes, and her hair looked both dry and greasy. He imagined himself trying to touch it and having it tear away from her scalp, stuck to his fingers in clumps and tangles, raw strips of skin still hanging off the ends. A real horror show. Movie-worthy.

He shook his head to clear his thoughts. It was a strange kind of perversion to think about his sister that way. Disturbing and filthy and unkind.

He just wanted to touch her. He knew, even before he reached out to her, that her old black shirt would be sweat damp, but she wouldn’t kick the blankets off. Even when they were kids, she had to have the blankets pulled up to her chest. The sweltering heat of summer couldn’t dissuade her; she’d just lie there and boil in her own sweat. Nobody fought her on it, because it was the only area of her life where she showed any determination.

So they let her suffer.

Looking at her now made him sick. She had to be miserable, lying there on her dirty sheets with her dirty hair and her bloodshot eyes that never closed. It had to be maddening to lie there and listen to the clock ticking and tocking as it sat there on the nightstand, lying about the time.

He didn’t talk to her as he gently touched her shoulder. He didn’t ask if she was hungry, or thirsty, or bored, or completely fucking insane, because she wouldn’t answer, and what difference did it make, anyway?

He didn’t say I’m sorry, or It was an accident, or I didn’t mean to. She already knew all of that. She had absolved him that same evening, tucked his hair behind his ear and kissed him softly on his forehead (just a feather light scrape of dry lips across his brow, because he wasn’t her favorite, wasn’t his twin, wasn’t her dog) and then she’d gone to her room to lie down and hadn’t gotten back up.

Instead, he just stood there, with his hand on her shoulder and felt the wet heat radiating off of her, felt her breathing even though he couldn’t hear it over the ticking and the pattering of the rain and the violent bloodstorm in his own head.

There was nothing to be done now, nothing that would make any difference. He just stood there, and stroked her hair and though it was almost gummy with filth, it didn’t detach from her skull in thick bleeding patches, and he let her suffer.

Rolling in on a burning tire…

I got a couple of hella nice messages on my ROR fanfics a while back that I just found out about. I’ve been itching to write some more ROR fics anyway, but those comments really lit a fire under my ass. So I say. It’s been a good 2 days now and I’ve filled in the title slot.

I have an idea for another Clara-centric one, but my lazy ass is having trouble getting the words out. Typical. It’s not even going to be a long one, but god forbid I get anything done in a timely fashion.

I also randomly reconnected with Brenda the other night and now we’re going back to livejournal, webdesign/blogging, and even DDP Yoga. Gonna tear shit up like we used to do when we were teenagers. Maybe.

SO. Because my husband and I are trying to save money right now (planning on selling our current house and buying a new one, so we need everything we can scrape together for a fat down payment to get a nice house) and because I just dropped almost $90 on DDP Yoga, I need to make damn sure that a new domain is something I can truly commit to. Which means… more idle threats to blog daily. Will I succeed? No. Will I make much of an effort? Not likely. Will I probably buy a domain anyhow? What kind of colossal piece of shit would I be if I didn’t?

But tomorrow is the time for failure. For now, I need to get the dogs outside to pee and then it’s…

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Sleep tight.

Rule of Rain, Chapter 4: Let the Games Begin

A couple of things about this “chapter”:

  1. This is actually only a half-chapter. Photoshop crashed the other night and killed the action I was using on these pictures. I really liked the action and the way it looked on this particular set of pictures, so rather than redo them in a new (and likely inferior) action set, I decided to just release the first half as is.
  2. This “chapter” uses a loooottt of game dialogue. A lot. Beware.

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TW: None?

Continue reading

Jennifer’s Veil

 

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In and out of the darkness, she slithers and skips.

I can’t keep up. My flesh weighs me down. I slosh and churn with blood and bile and something black and infinite that I can’t give a name to. It runs its fingers beneath my skin; a thin coating of decay to hold all the shapeless wetness in, and I don’t mind.

It’s wearing her face. Red eyes flicker in the milk white sockets with the peeling edges and unblinking shaved meat lids and I think of her trapped inside of me all those years ago as it runs its tongue along the inside of my skull.

They say birth begins the process of dying, that we are born rotting, but what begins when we die?

Something vast and unknowable.

My daughter knows, but she doesn’t tell.

I don’t mind. She came back.

For me. Only for me.

Back through the veil, back through the gates, back through whatever treacherous portal separates her world from this, back and that is all that matters.

She came back with some of the pieces missing, but I don’t mind.

She fills up the holes with dragonfly bones. Her teeth are sharper now; she smiles through a mouthful of broken wings. Her mouth is damp with colorless blood.

I try to smile back, but it’s not so easy now.

She doesn’t mind.

She disappears into the other world, and I am alone, slowly rotting in the middle of the night.

I keep walking.

I don’t mind.

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I come to the water’s edge, still alone and patiently waiting, and I watch the fish.

Watch them destroy the peaceful calm of the water’s surface, careless as they leap into breathless space after the dragonflies that hover above them in halting, stuttering flight.

I want to kneel in the dirt, get my knees wet, put my hands in the water and feel my flesh go cold numb until I can’t breathe from it.

I want to open my mouth and vomit, thick stream of red-black sludge, purge myself of the guilt and the ache and the gray-blue sadness, that bitter glittering poison that writhes within me, until it’s all gone and finally, finally I am empty, a hollow shell of skin, and I can be rebuilt.

I want to grab the first fish naive enough to come near me and tear it apart. Slice it open with my nails and pull out its little frantic heart.

I want to feel it fluttering against my fingertips as she opens her quivering, greedy mouth to accept it.

The thought of it makes me sick.

I stand at the water’s edge, still alone and patiently waiting, and I watch the fish.

Inside, I am white hot and screaming.

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The girl in the park watches me as I walk past.

Every night, she watches me.

She doesn’t wave, or say hello. She doesn’t move at all.

But she watches.

I wonder what she sees.

I try to lift my arm to wave, but it hangs at my side, heavy and dead. Only my fingers remain, curling themselves into a tight fist.

The girl in the park watches, her face a flaccid unreadable mask. She might be smiling. She might be growling.

She might not be there at all.

As if though somehow sensing my question, even in the vague, unspoken dream mist of its infancy, she lifts her hand for the first time and touches two fingers to the right side of her brow. A slow, sarcastic salute.

Lucy pauses at the edge of a glistening puddle of moon beam and smiles.

Her mouth is filled with teeth, much more than there used to be. So much sharper than I remembered. I can barely see the black slash of her tongue behind them.

“Last night she fed me a koi from her mother’s pond,” she says, and turns away. She skips and stumbles and hobbles, and my heart both breaks and swells at the grotesque display.

The girl in the park watches, watches and watches and watches, and then, finally, looks away.

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She meets me at the park the next afternoon, though she is no longer interested in the play equipment, or other children.

“I’m tired,” she says, swinging her feet slowly beneath the bench. “I’m hungry.”

I feel such intense relief at these simple and familiar requests that I fear I might fall off my seat. “What would you like to eat?”

She looks up at the clouds. “Nothing you would give me.”

The shadows sway around us, and Lucy shifts uncomfortably beside me.

“Ice cream?” I try for conspiratorial. My voice breaks a little, unable to bend around the words I know she doesn’t want to hear. “Doughnuts?”

“There’s nothing to eat over there,” she complains. She doesn’t acknowledge my offers. “I’m hungry all the time.”

“Please, let me at least try.”

She shifts her gaze from the clouds to the water, shakes her head and sighs wearily. “I don’t want food.”

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John is watching TV.

John never turns it off.

I don’t watch, but I dream about it sometimes, when sleep drags me limp and numb onto the cold, shell-smothered shores of a third world where even Lucy doesn’t venture.

The third world is small. There is nowhere to go but the circle. There I sit and watch TV.

There are no movies, no sitcoms, no documentaries.

It only plays the secret channels.

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John doesn’t turn around when I come in.

“Your brother called,” he says through the back of his head. “He got full custody of the girls.”

He changes the channel. Changes the channel. Changes the channel.

“They’re moving to Willow Creek, just as soon as they can find a rental.”

He changes the channel.

“Won’t that be nice? We’ll get to see the girls more.” He waits for a response, but I am thinking about the dream TV, and how it changes the channels for me. “He even said that Angela might be interested in going on those walks with you. She used to do the same thing back in Pleasantview. Remember?”

The TV starts screaming. It reminds me of the secret channels.

“I think it would be good for you, Jen. Then you won’t always be alone.”

The TV starts crying, but it isn’t like the dream TV, with its secret channels, with its dirty screen and sad, frightening images.

It isn’t like John’s TV. The TV in the third world has a long, fleshy cord that it plugs into me.

John doesn’t turn around when I leave the room.

He just changes the channel.

Changes the channel.

Changes the channel.

Emperor Gothic

Originally posted @ my tumblr.

You came back. It wasn’t something you planned. But you’re here now. The doors have closed behind you; the train has left the station. It doesn’t come back. You’re here now.

The ride home is quiet and dark. Your mother is driving, sitting beside you as cold and still as a mannequin. She doesn’t look at you, she doesn’t speak. The radio doesn’t play music; no voices can penetrate the broken, sputtering static. You turn it up, anyhow.

It snowed while you were gone. It didn’t use to do that. Pleasantview was always too warm. You ask your mother when it started, but she just puts another cigarette between her trembling lips and stares out into the wintery wasteland.

Snow has devoured the town, but there are no snowmen, no abandoned imprints of frozen angels. No sleds, no shoveled paths. No children anywhere at all. Not where you can see them, anyway.

Occasionally, if you leave the house early enough, there are little footprints in the yard, and you wonder… but then the snow falls again, and those too, disappear.

You try to watch TV during the day. Options are limited. You watch celebrity chefs flambe themselves; the camera lingers until they stop screaming, and then the next show begins. You watch the weatherman talk about himself. You watch the news talk about Bella Goth.

You’ve heard rumors of a woman in a red dress wandering an isolated desert town, but those are only rumors. You don’t even know where you came across such a tale.

Maybe you heard it on the radio.

At some point, you have to go outside. There isn’t much time. They’ve implemented a curfew; you have to be home before dark. Stragglers are promptly collected. It’s best to be home before dark.

You move slowly across the icy paths, and you don’t look around. You’ve made that mistake before. It would be unwise to make it again.

You pass the park. They’ve put walls around it and closed it up. You can hear voices on the other side of the walls. You can’t go in; they can’t get out.

You pass the town’s only grocery store. The parking lot is full of cars, and the cars are covered in snow. It hasn’t snowed in days. The Caliente sisters watch you from the window. Their mouths move in silent pleas as they try to follow your movements to the exit. They make it halfway to the automated doors, and then veer off, disappearing into the laundry detergent aisle.

You feel oddly bereft at having lost them, but you keep walking.

Somewhere, a dog is barking frantically. It’s been barking on and off for years. A chain jangles, but you can’t tell which direction it’s coming from. There is no answering cries. This is the last one, and it knows it.

You keep walking. There isn’t much time.

Your legs ache and your lungs burn. White houses buried under white snow. You don’t know where you are. You don’t know where you’re going.

You end up back outside of your mother’s house.

You tried to get out. It wasn’t something you planned. But you’re here now.

Adventures in Failure and Regret

Welp. I just realized that I never uploaded the second part of “Mermaids”, so I hunted it down, thinking I’d just do a little edit here and there and we’d be golden.

I was wrong, of course. The second half is such absolute, staggering garbage that I nearly puked on my computer screen as I read through it, vainly searching for anything salvageable.

So. That sucks. Gonna have to rewrite the entire thing from scratch because what I have now is just putrid and unacceptable and I want to go back in time to when I wrote it and just slap myself out of the chair and be like, NO. NO, IT’S BAD. IT’S SO BAD. I HAD TO TRAVEL BACK IN TIME JUST TO PUNCH YOU IN THE FACE SO YOU WOULD STOP WRITING IT, IT WAS THAT BAD.

Alas.

I suppose it’s all good, though. It’s good that I’ve grown enough to recognize that it’s trash, and I’m kind of excited to rewrite it. But not really. Oh well, it’s good practice. Good, tedious, loathsome practice.

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