Monday, November 21, 2016

The Second Sinner's Story Prologue

Part 1, The Demon's Tales
Part 2, The First Sinner's Story

It should be mentioned that when a demon rips out your lungs and larynx, these do not come back, nor does it ever heal.  The damage is permanent, the pain forever, and there is no hope of release from the torment, not even from passing out or sleep.  To avoid this fate kept those who could tell stories frantically trying to think of new ones.  Frantic that the possible moment that the demon got bored of them would come and the real pain would begin.

The second sinner whose stories the demon liked was a woman, and not just any woman. The woman had been a vampire before she died, though the demon would not let her call herself a vampire.  More of a "vamplet," the demon said.  Her kind doesn't deserve the full name of "vampire" even if they do drink blood to live.

Real vampires are nothing like the ones we see on tv and in movies.  If I were to ever tell you about real vampires you wouldn't sleep for weeks and after that only in snatches.  Believe me when I tell you, YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW.

But there is a creature much like the one on television and in movies.  It is stronger and faster than humans, but for true vampires and demons, weak and vulnerable.  After all, they can be easily killed with a stake to the heart or decapitation or sunlight.  They are immortal-ish.  And therefore fear humans because there are more of us than them.  Just as there are many more worms than there are birds.  More mice than snakes.  But these mice can group up and fight back.  The vamplets know this.  They live in the shadows and fear humans, knowing that their safety is in that we don't know they exist.  It is getting harder and harder for them to hide.

In the old days death was more common than it is now, and often unexplained.  Children died in droves, taken by disease and heat.  Before antibiotics.  Before vaccines.  When a thousand children died every week in cities in the summer and villages lost half the population under ten to diptheria.  Back then the vamplets could eat and eat just on the scavenged dead.  They could drink the blood of a baby every day and tear into small roasted limbs like chicken legs. (The skin is the best part.)

In modern times, fewer than one baby in a hundred dies and the vamplets must make do with adults whose blood is dirty and who roast up gamy and tough.  Even so, they make do and there can only be so many deaths and body snatches before there are suspicions and authorities get called in.  So modern vamplets control their numbers carefully.  In all of New York City the acceptable limit of vamplets is five.  Where there had been friendly clans of ten and fifteen there was now only one lone, paranoid vamplet.  They are a dying species.  They know this.  They are only trying to stave off the inevitable.

The woman who tells the story is a vamplet who died in a recent fire.  All of them go to hell.  There is no salvation for them.  She had no choice in being turned and then no amount of praying or forgiveness could ever be enough to save her from eternal torment.  But she told wonderful stories and this is the one she told the demon in order to save her lungs and tongue.

Part 4, The Second Sinner's Story
Part 5, The Last Sinner's Story
Part 6, The Demon and the Bookstore

Friday, November 18, 2016

The First Sinner's Story

Part 1, The Demon's Tales

The story the man tells is of a famous woman who tried to live up to all public expectations, but could not and so she left it all behind.

There once was a woman who sang in a rock band.  She was very famous and loved.  You know who I mean.  But there was one flaw she had for being a popular singer and that was she had no faults at all.  Or at least no faults that would land her on the covers of magazines amid cries of scandal.  She was a quiet person and terribly good and kind.  This upset her managers very much because rock singers and all famous people should have some scandals because people like their heroes and they like even better when their heroes fall.

And so she began to pretend.  You may have seen the pictures of her with her many lovers.  Heard the story of how she lived for five months in a menage a trois. The cheating, the break ups, the screaming man on the lawn who was hospitalized, crazy for the love of her.  None of this was true.

You may have seen the video of when she was pulled over by the police for driving erratically and she got out of the car with an open bottle of cheap whiskey and drank half of it down before the cops managed to pull the bottle away.  And that she got out of the charge because they couldn't prove if she was drunk before while driving or became drunk from drinking the whiskey on camera. After the camera stopped they undid the handcuffs and she gave each of the policemen and women gift baskets full of fruits and cheeses and her homemade strawberry and grape jam as thanks.  The whiskey was truly iced tea.

I know what you are thinking.  You are thinking, didn't she die a few years ago?  There was that tragic fire.  You were there for the public viewing and you saw her body in the casket, so still and so pale.  You heard the moving tributes and saw the roadie who was burned trying to save her.  Saw the scars from his burns and listened to his tale of the last painful moments of her life.  This will anger you, because she caused so much pain by these actions, but she faked her death.  She was tired of pretending and went to a small town in Montana to live a quiet and sober life.  She got married to the boyfriend she'd been devoted to all along.  They have three children, two of which are adopted.

She gives guitar lessons at the local music shop and those in the village take no notice of her and do not realize who she is, or who she was.  But sometimes someone does notice, perhaps a turn of the head or a look in her eyes, and says, Hey, you look like her.  To this she simply smiles and says, yes, she gets that a lot.

This story always makes the demon quite happy and she likes to hear it on her difficult days. She feels it ends so perfectly, with the woman being punished and going into exile for being so very good.  Undivine Retribution.  The opposite of karma. And it is by this story that the man is allowed to keep his tongue and lungs and larynx.

Part 3, The Second Sinner's Story Prologue
Part 4, The Second Sinner's Story
Part 5, The Last Sinner's Story
Part 6, The Demon and the Bookstore

Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Demon's Tales

Once there was a demon who loved books.  She read night and day, any book she could get her hands and bloody claws on.  Often they were terrible books, the ones writers bring with them to torment themselves.  But she loved these horrible books anyway because they transported her to other lands and places beyond hell, (which is a place that isn't fun for anyone).  She read them with zest and zeal, every cliched character and every derivative scene and every plot hole large enough to march two elephants through shoulder to shoulder.  In fact, she wanted to try this once just to make a particular writer scream, but there are no elephants in hell and so she went with her usual modes of torture, paper cuts and lemon juice, the pins and needles feeling as circulation comes back to a limb, and ripping their lungs out and watch them try to scream with no air.

What she wanted most of all was to read the good books or even the great books.  But they almost never made it to hell since it is difficult to torment someone with a good book.  And great books make terrible instruments of torture.  She had to try to learn these stories in other ways.  The way she knew best was torture and so she demanded stories of all her victims on pain of even more excruciating pain.  Over and over she asked each detainee to tell her a story.

Some began the story of their lives, because they thought the request had something to do with their being in hell and the punishment against them.  With these she pried out their teeth and tongues and ripped out their larynges and told them that they had already spent a lifetime thinking only of themselves.  Here no one cared.

But a few saw the light of stories in her eyes, they saw a kindred who loved what they loved, and so, like Scheherazade, they began to spin spells and weave webs of words.  These she let keep their tongues and lungs and larynges for each day they could entertain her.  One man was a particular favorite.  And the story he told was this---

Part 2, The First Sinner's Story
Part 3, The Second Sinner's Story Prologue
Part 4, The Second Sinner's Story
Part 5, The Last Sinner's Story
Part 6, The Demon and the Bookstore

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Madness of Cats-- second story, Part 2

Part 1

He began to laugh. He laughed for awhile, his brain swept with the dancing and bouncing grasshopper thoughts.  But pretty soon, like the sudden mood of a cat, he stopped laughing and began to rage.  He raged at so many things, from the other shifts not keeping the kitchen clean to all the injustice in the world.  He raged so much and so long that his co-workers, already frightened by his mad laughter, were even more frightened and wondered if they should get help.  The customers, with no idea what was happening in the back, became impatient and angry.  They wanted their food and they wanted it now.  And really, who could blame them for that?

After the anger, the man began to cry.  He was sad and cried so much the front of his shirt was soaked with tears.  He cried for all the pain ever visited on him, and all the pain his family had endured, and all his friends, and his neighborhood, and all the hurt that ever was down to the spirits of the mice who would never find peace and the spirits of the cats who would wander forever and ever.  He cried and cried.

Now, as I said before, had you or I had a spirit of a cat go through our heads it would have caused an upheaval, but we would not have been so affected.  But since he had never been touched by a cat spirit before, the effect was too strong to resist.

If you are wondering what happened next, the sad answer is very little.  The effect of the madness of cats wore off and he went back to his normal, sane self.  His co-workers stopped watching him and served the customers who went off in a huff to continue their day.  One of his co-workers later complained of him to the manager and he was disciplined, but not fired, a good thing since he was poor and could not afford to lose his job.  And all the anger and laughter and sadness of his brush with madness was ignored and explained away, even by the man himself, because we have difficulty with emotions and it is easier to ignore than to fix the problems in the world.

You can tell I feel a bit pessimistic right now in the wake of the recent US presidential election. Especially when it comes to racial justice and the freedom of non-Christian non-whites in this country. A number of old fairy tales end unhappily. Girls dance themselves to death, the mermaid dies of grief, and so forth. I'm not sure if this one ends neutrally or is terribly sad.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Madness of Cats, second story

Into every life come moments. Small madnesses. Odd thoughts. We think of these as our own, but in truth they are the cats and the mice, forever hunting and being hunted, forever stalking and hiding, forever running, playing, and fearing. We do not see them. They are only the spirits left of cats and mice past. But no cat ever truly dies. They remain on earth in spirit form and so we are daily surrounded by cats of time past. Mice do die. But the ones who are killed by cats remain forever bound to the cat who killed it.  It is a terrible fate and if you come back in some future life, do not come back as a mouse because then you may be stuck in constant terror for all eternity until the world ends.

And what have these spirits of cats and mice to do with us? This world has had so many of them through time that these spirits are everywhere.  If you could see spirits the air and earth would be full of cats.  And cats are untameable creatures, always only once removed from wildness.  As many people have already said, we only believe we have domesticated them. Every once in a while the spirit of a cat will move through a living human being, and then that person will have strange and unusual thoughts.  These small madnesses.  These fits of pique.  And just as cats like some people better than others when they live, they prefer some over others after they die, and so some people have more of the moments then others.  But it is worse for those hated by cats, living and dead.  They are very sane and do not have moments of imagination and wildness.

But one day, quite by accident, one of these sane and unimaginitive people, ran into the spirit of a cat. He was a poor and humble cook in a fast food joint, daily flipping burgers and spreading ketchup and frying fries.  And though he worked all the hours in the day, he could not make enough to feed and clothe his family.  And though cats did not like him, they do love meat and they do love fries, even after they cannot eat them anymore.  Just the smell is enough and makes them hunger.  Makes them want to hunt mice.  And so the spirits of 5 or 6 cats were wandering about the dirty kitchen that the cook tried to keep clean, but the other shifts did not. These 5 or 6 cats wandered about sniffing and avoiding the cook.

One was sitting on a high metal shelf over the table where the burgers were slathered with mustard and ketchup and covered with lettuce and pickles. It was avoiding him.  But he needed something from the shelf and reached up.  The cat arched its back and hissed, and as his hand continued to search the shelf, it jumped to get away, and flew through the air and through the man, right across his head.  And the head is a very dangerous place to have the spirit of a cat go through.  Some, who have been touched many times by cats and gotten more used to the effects, as much as anyone can, might have withstood it better.  But the cook had never been touched before by the spirit of a cat and so it went very badly with him.

He stopped his search for whatever he was looking for on the shelf and came up short.  It felt as if someone had simultaneously frozen his brain and let out a full jar of crickets in his skull.  His brain stayed still as thoughts jumped wildly around, making noises and singing songs and he didn’t know what to do since he had never had such an experience before.

The cats became interested, as cats do at any new thing, and watched for what the man would do. What he did, was begin to laugh.

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Allergic Broom

Once there was a broom who was allergic to dust and after its very first use began to sneeze.  This surprised the woman who had bought it as she hadn't known brooms could sneeze much less seen it happen before. The wood of its handle quaked in her hand as all the dried cells within it seemed to take a breath and then out from the straw bristles came a 'choo! choo!' as the broom sneezed.  Well, she supposed it was something like choo! choo!  Actually the bristles of the broom splayed with the power of the sneeze as much as their stiffness allowed, and it was the movement of these bristles that made the sound.  So it was really more of a 'shr! shr!' sound.

She had just thought through all of this because she was a very literal person who liked to describe things accurately in her mind when the broom spoke.

'I think I'm allergic to dust,' it said and she thought it did sound stuffed up, though she wasn't sure why she thought this having  never heard a broom talk before.  In fact she nearly dropped it when it spoke.  She could feel the cells in the handle move in her hand and the voice was the straw rubbing against each other.  Yet it formed words that she could understand perfectly.

'What good is a broom that is allergic to dust?' she asked it.  'I don' know,' it admitted. 'Would you rinse me off?  I'm really uncomfortable.'  And because it had asked she did this, running cool water over its straw bristles. 'Ah,' it said. Then it began to shake its bristles and sprinkle water all over her nice, clean house.  The small pile of dust she had been trying to sweep turned into a cake of mud that would need to dry before she could try to sweep it again.

She didn't know what to do.  She supposed she could hang it on the wall as a decoration, but a broom was not her style and besides it would probably want to talk to her day and night.  Would it get bored? she wondered.  The broom was still shaking water from its bristles and getting everything she owned quite wet.

Finally her eyes alighted on the fire and she knew what to do.  She threw the broom into the fireplace.  The straw sizzled as the water in it boiled and the handle blackened and caught fire and for a few minutes the broom that was allergic to dust warmed her house.