Follow by Email

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Dream On (Part 3) Fini

Sure, John had been frequently late, but had never missed a day of work. Connie had just found an easy way to save on expenses and fired him, thought Emma, she never really liked him anyway. Two days had gone by since Connie left the message. Emma asked if she had ever talked to him personally. Connie said that that wasn’t necessary she had made her intentions clear enough. At first Emma was a little put off that John hadn’t called her, but the sentiment soon turned to concern when John didn’t pick up his last check the following day. Emma decided to give John a call. They had exchanged numbers at one time, although they had never called one another. She let the phone ring, leaving a message once the machine picked up.
“Hey, this is Emma. Give me a call. Let me know that you’re ok, I guess.”

That was all she could think of to say. I was beginning to think we could be more than just friends. She thought, Who are you trying to kid, Emma, you’ve had the hots for him since his first day on the job. It seemed to me he was starting to feel the same way.

     Emma still hadn’t heard from John by the end of her shift the following day. The more she thought about him, the more troubled she became. She decided she would check on him personally. Connie had left early, giving Emma the opportunity to pull John’s employee file. She jotted down John’s address, and as an after thought, wrote down his parent’s phone number, listed as his emergency contact. When her shift was over, she boarded the bus to his neighborhood. She walked the block to his apartment building, past empty store fronts and anemic consignment shops. Emma took note of John’s blue Vespa sitting in the parking lot next to his apartment building. There were bits of trash and leaves blown up against the wheels, caught in the spokes.

     She entered through the double doors, and stepped into the foyer; one wall lined with ancient brass mail boxes. There was an elevator marked “Out of Order, Use Stares”. Emma, not accustomed to such deplorable trappings, headed cautiously up the stair well. Finding John’s room, she knocked on the door. She waited a moment, then knocked harder.

“John, are you alright? You didn’t show up for work. I tried calling…” she said, raising her voice to be heard.

There was no response. She stood at his door, trying to decide her next move, when she noticed the odor of something burning.

“JOHN, can you hear me? I smell something burning. JOHN?”

“Whoa! Whoa!” came the voice of the building “super,” “Young lady, you’re disturbin’ the peace, already! What’s the problem here?” he asked, hobbling quickly down the hall.

“My, my boyfriend, he lives here… I haven’t been able to get a hold of him for days. He’s not answering the door, and I think I smell smoke,” Emma blurted out.

“I think I do too,” he said, fumbling through the keys on a huge key ring fastened to his belt.

“Stand aside, little lady.”

The apartment supervisor entered the room first, with Emma close behind.

“There’s your problem. Dummy left on the space heater. Really singed that couch…”

Emma was headed towards the bed, where John lay motionless. The odor of urine hit her as she leaned over him. He looked to be sleeping. She tried waking him, first gently shaking his arm, with no response, she shook him harder.

“Wake up. Wake up!”

She began to panic and slapped his face hard. “Wake up!” she screamed. The super took her by the shoulders and led her back to the hall.

“Get a hold of yourself, young lady. I’ll call the EMT’s,” he said. “In the mean time, you come with me.”

She didn’t resist, although she made a feeble demand to stay with John. When the paramedics arrived, she hurried back to the room, followed by the building supervisor. She hovered over the two paramedics as they tended to John; checking his vital signs, directing each other in low tones.

“What’s wrong with him?” her voice cracking, “What’s wrong with him?”

“Nothing, from what I can tell,” said one paramedic, not looking at Emma, pulling back John’s eyelids with his thumb, first one, then the other. “He seems to be… sleeping.”

“Fifteen years, and I’ve never seen anything quite like this,” said the other. “Maybe some kind of coma?”

Emma felt faint. She wasn’t understanding any of this.

“Are you related?” said the first.

“No, she’s his girl,” said the super, interjecting into the awkward silence.

She gave the name and number of John’s parents to the paramedics, and watched helplessly as they transferred him to the ambulance. She asked where they were taking him, and headed there by bus.

     John was completely content as he lay in bed next to Emma in their penthouse apartment. The Hancock building never had a penthouse apartment, but now it did. The taste of champagne was still on his lips as he remembered the evening’s events. Just as he was drifting off to sleep, Emma shook him.

“Wake up! Wake up!”

What’s going on? What could possibly be wrong? He didn’t want this, didn’t ask for this. John rolled over to face Emma, annoyed more than alarmed, until he saw the look of fear and desperation on her face.

     The ambulance pulled up to the automatic sliding doors of the E.R.; the two paramedics exited the rear doors of the emergency vehicle. Pulling out the gurney with John on it, releasing the wheels to the pavement, they hustled him inside. He was examined by a medical intern, assigned a resident doctor, and was transferred to a room. Emma arrived shortly after. She took vigil beside John’s bed. She was tired and confused. So much had happened in so little time. John really means something to me, why couldn’t I have let him know sooner? All she could do now was pray that they would make it through this. Emma stayed until two in the morning. She left with great reluctance, kissing his cheek before heading into the cold damp evening. She needed a few hours of sleep before returning to work at the café.

     John watched incredulously as Emma’s skin darkened, her grip on his arms tightening, her eyes sinking deeper into her blackening face, then she was gone. He lie alone in the bed, the silk sheets bitter cold against his skin, the light dimming, his surroundings becoming less defined. A wave of depression came over him. He left the bed, stumbling forward through the hall that should lead to the living room, only to be confronted with more hallways, darkly lit with deep blue shadows crossing the floors. He headed blindly down one of the halls, walking for what seemed like hours, randomly choosing his path as hallway branched off of hallway. He was overcome with a deep feeling of dread. Desperation welled up inside of him as his walk became a run, his footsteps echoing behind him. He finally came to a dead end, and realized he was standing in front of an elevator door. It was the elevator door to his efficiency apartment. He was dressed in his usual dress of black jeans, t-shirt and sneakers. He rode the elevator to the third floor. He had never been this glad to return to his tiny self imposed prison. As he stepped from the elevator, he saw two men carrying another on a stretcher from his apartment.

 “Hey, what’s going on? I live there! Hey!”

The men didn’t acknowledge him as they headed away from John towards the stairwell. He saw Emma. Emma! Following after them, her head down, rubbing her eyes with her palms. The building supervisor headed his way.

“They’re taking you to the hospital,” he said as he passed.

I’m still dreaming. John desperately tried to wake himself up as the hallway grew darker, deep blue shadows crossing the floor.

     Emma visited John every evening for months, even crossing paths with his parents more than once. She quizzed the doctors frequently until she realized that they couldn’t offer any real explanation or hope. As she once again took her post and sat next to him, she thought of the dreams. The dreams she had of John were so real, it was as if they really had been a couple. A tear slipped down her cheek as she realized now that those few fleeting dreams would never be a reality. She leaned over John and kissed his lips delicately, as if this would somehow break the spell, but he slept on. She turned and walked out of the hospital room, biting her lip, biting back the tears. John slipped slowly from her life. John slipped deeper into his sleeping hell.

Check out my two short stories on Amazon Kindle...

Here are the links:



Lots of horrific fun for only 99 cents!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Dream On (Part 2)

continued from 1-26-12

He slept soundly, rudely awakened by his alarm. John hit the snooze button twice before getting up. He could barely remember his experience of last night, and was surprised by his fatigue, having just slept nine hours. John drank two cups of coffee while watching the cold rain fall in the alley outside his window. He watched as a rat scurried out from under an over-stuffed black trash bag to a pile of graying wooden pallets. He had to forgo his usual breakfast, as time had slipped away from him. After showering, he donned his rain parka and hit the streets on his scooter.

    Yawning, he clocked in to work, scarfed down a muffin, and headed for the front. He was fifteen minutes late. Emma wasn’t there. Sunday mornings were the slowest, so Emma had the day off. John had the pleasure of working side by side with Connie.

“I’ll need to speak with you after your shift,” she said, looking him directly in the eye.

“Oh, ok, sure," he said. Must be about that big promotion I’ve been striving for, he thought, jokingly.

The day dragged by unmercifully. A few surly customers came and went. John repeatedly mopped the floor, wet from the rain tracked in by the patron’s soggy footwear. Connie’s mood was more grim than usual. John cleaned the counters, Connie took inventory, and the next two “Café Gurus” arrived for their shift.

     John headed to clock out, scooting by Connie as she counted boxes of paper cups and coffee filters. She didn’t say a thing as he put on his poncho, swiped his card and headed into the evening.

     The ride home was miserable. He had forgotten his gloves. The rain had stopped, but the temperature had dropped by twenty degrees. Gloves or no gloves, riding a scooter in thirty five degree weather was brutal, in John’s opinion. It would be the bus tomorrow. Scaling the steps to his apartment, he thought about missing out on his little meeting with Connie. He needed to be careful. As much as he was beginning to despise his job, he needed to keep it even more so. He ate a meager dinner, his appetite anemic, despite the cold. He turned on the electric space heater, sat in front of the TV and watched three sitcoms back to back. He found himself nodding off as the TV droned on nonsensically in the dark. Switching off the set, he headed for the comfort of his bed. Not caring about the early hour, he fell fast asleep.

     Seemingly within an instant, John found himself back at work. Emma smiled at him. It was a very different smile, a seductive smile. She motioned for him to follow her, as she walked out of the coffee house onto the streets of Chicago. John followed. They were no longer dressed in their work clothes. She wore a fitted teal t-shirt and tight black jeans with white stitching, her feet wrapped in teal leather pumps. John didn’t know what he was wearing, and didn’t care. I’m dreaming! He realized. She took his hand as they strolled through the city. Late afternoon turned to evening .The couple ending up at Cicerella’s Bistro, dining on the patio. As the evening unfolded, John could still recognize that this was just a dream, but it became more real with each passing moment. There were no jumps in time or confusing imagery as in most dreams; no distorted or miss-remembered locations. He soon let himself go and came into himself in the dream, no longer a casual observer.

     Emma looked deep into his eyes. She pushed up from her chair and lightly kissed him on the lips. He reached out and touched her arm and returned the kiss, pressing harder. She broke free and whispered “I love you” into his ear, her breath as warm and gentle as a summer’s breeze. Dazed, John became aware of another voice.

“Sir, the check. Would the lady or yourself be interested in a dessert?” asked the waiter.

“No, we should probably be on our way, we have a show to catch,” said John, opening his wallet and finding a dozen hundred dollar bills there.

A siren blared as he paid the bill, leaving a hundred dollar tip on the wrought iron table. An ambulance pulled up to the curb, siren shrill.

     John quickly became awake, shutting off the alarm. He wanted to go back to sleep, continue the dream, but was too excited by what he had just experienced. It had all seemed so real, but more than that, it was different than any dream John had ever experienced. He had decided the course of action, but yet again, he hadn’t, completely. When he knew he needed money, he had it. When he had longed for Emma’s kiss, she responded. He remembered nearly every detail. He lay in bed contemplating what had just transpired. Calming down, it occurred to him that he was not scheduled for work today, or tomorrow.

     John dressed without showering. He skipped his morning coffee; he didn’t need it. He was still riding high on his evening’s adventure. He threw on his wool jacket and tromped down the stairs. Catching the bus, he rode to the nearest branch library. Once inside, John looked up “Lucid Dreaming, the Healthy Escape.” It wasn’t available yet. Of course not, it’s just been released. John entered “Lucid Dreaming” into the computer database. Ten different books covering the subject appeared. John jotted down the information on the four most recent publications and proceeded to pull them off the shelves. He sat in a gloomy corner of the library at a study desk and began searching through the pages.

     John could not find a description or documented instance of lucid dreaming that compared to his. All accounts spoke of an awareness by the dreamer, but none spoke of a near complete control of the dreamscape, as he had experienced it. Neither was there any mention of the feeling of a sense of reality; on the contrary, most accounts stated that the subject was very aware that they were in a dream. However, what he did find was information in one specific book on LDS, or Lucid Dream Supplements, that can increase and strengthen LD episodes. John photocopied the names of the various supplements, a litany of chemicals including galantamine, calea zacatechichi and silene capsensis, among others. Returning the books to their rightful places, he left for the bus stop.

     It was late afternoon, and John was back in his tiny apartment. He thought of leaving soon and heading to a health and nutrition store, hoping to find the LD Supplements, but a numbing fatigue had begun to settle over him. Confused by his exhausted state, he soon abandoned any idea of going out. Instead, he lay on his bed, still in his wool jacket and drifted into sleep.

     John and Emma were together in a taxi, but then no, it was a limousine, pulling up to the Oriental Theatre. The chauffer stepped out into the evening drizzle and opened the door for them with much fanfare. The couple hurried in out of the rain, laughing as they did so. The theatre was fantastic; plaster gold leafed dragons adorned the walls amid elaborate moldings. Asian frescos loomed majestically overhead. They took their seats as the play was about to begin, although John hadn’t decided what it would be yet. Emma was more beautiful than ever in a white strapless sequined gown; John dressed in black suit and white tie. He heard the muffled ring of his cell phone. He took it out of his pants pocket, saw that it was Connie calling, and shut it off. The lights dimmed as the curtain rose.

     John’s apartment phone was ringing, but he slept on. The answering machine took the call.

“John, this is Connie. If you’re not in here in the next twenty minutes, don’t bother coming in at all. This can’t continue. If you’re not in here shortly, you’re fired.”

John’s breathing was steady and shallow. He lay completely immobile. The day passed from morning to evening to morning again.

to be continued next post...

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Dream On (Part 1)

This is probably the second short story I ever wrote (and actually finished). It's about a young man who toys with the concept of lucid dreaming and suffers the consequences.

     John’s alarm startled him awake for the five thousandth time, once again interrupting a most pleasant dream. He dragged himself out of bed, stepping onto the cold tile floor of his efficiency apartment. Rubbing his head and rear simultaneously, he stumbled to the bathroom, bleary eyed. After using the facility, he took the thirty-some steps to the kitchen and poured himself a huge mug of coffee. Thank God for timers, he thought as he took a sip, grabbing the TV remote from its place on the back of the couch. He sat slowly as to avoid scalding himself, and switched on the cable news channel; the same channel that had lulled him the night before. John knew even before glancing at his watch that he had less than an hour before having to slog off to “the coal mines”.

     “Hey, thanks for joining us on American Morning. The program that helps America rise and shine!” expounded the cheery talking head.

Man, these dudes must be up before dawn. How many cups of latte has that guy had? thought John, mildly amused.

“Tabitha, what’s on the agenda this morning?” asked the over-zealous anchor.

“Well, Bob, we’re going to have an interesting conversation with Dr. Phyllis Schulz, author of the new book, Lucid Dreaming, the Healthy Escape -  A Guide to True Inner Peace.

“Before we approach this dreamy subject Tabitha, let’s hear a few words from our gracious sponsors. We’ll be right back with more American Morning.”

Bob’s practiced grin led the show into the commercial break, and John took the opportunity to pour himself a bowl of bran flakes with skim milk. He took his place again in front of the tube, its glow no longer the only light in the room as the sun began peaking in through the window, John only half interested in the interview in progress.

“Lucid dreaming can be achieved by anyone. It basically means that the dreamer is aware, and is able to manipulate the experiences in their dream environment.” The Doctor explained.

“So, if I decide to dream of Angelina Jolie, say, I can make the dream play out any way I choose?” asked Bob.

“Be careful tiger, your wife may be watching.” Tabitha chided.

“I know you meant that for a laugh, but to answer your question, no. The dreamer can alter certain aspects of a dream, but cannot completely dictate the outcome. The subconscious is still in control, or should I say, out of control.”
     John glanced at his wrist watch. Jeez, I’d better hustle. He was surprised at how much time had elapsed. He took a five minute shower, beating his best time by a good three minutes, shaved and dressed, heading out his apartment door within a half an hour from the time he’d clicked off the set. He hopped on his Vespa scooter sans helmet, which remained bungeed to the back, and headed for work. Parking his Vespa beside the dumpster (his very own private parking space), John headed in the back door of the Café Cliché, Chicago’s latest entry into the over-saturated coffee house market. Swiping his I.D. card through the time clock, he hollered out, “I’m here!” to no one in particular, realizing that he was five minutes late once again.

     John grabbed an apron and pushed his way through the double swinging doors, right side labeled “enter”. Emma turned and looked his way, a tight smile on her face, and said,

“Good thing you’re here. Not that we’re busy or anything. Connie’s gunning for you, you know.”

“I know. I know. Maybe she won’t notice.” At least not until she sees the time clock, John thought in exasperation.

     Connie was the manager, and took every employee infraction seriously, a little too seriously. John knew that the shop had been struggling lately. They were down to two “Café Gurus” on the morning shift; Café Guru being the Café Cliché’s moniker given to their employees. John could be on thin ice, but was surprised that he really didn’t seem to care. Originally, he’d taken this job to support himself through his internship, but once out of college and unable to find a job in his field, he’d found his way back here.

     John went through his day as usual, mindlessly preparing a litany of coffee concoctions for a seemingly mindless group of patrons. He joked and flirted with Emma, a cute twenty something with died black hair and an eyebrow piercing. At the end of his shift, he collected his meager tips that at one time could total upwards of seventy dollars, clocked out, gave a wink and a “see ya’” to a scowling Connie, and hit the employee exit.

     John climbed the stairs to his apartment on the third floor. The elevator had been out of order ever since he’d moved in here. The apartment was cold. Winter, although not officially here, was definitely breathing down John’s neck. Soon the Vespa would not be a viable form of transportation. John hated the busses. Tired, he made a quick sandwich and had a glass of milk. Is this what my life is all about? Making just enough money to pay the rent and see the occasional movie or eat the occasional pizza? I have a few acquaintances here, but no true friends. Maybe Emma… but do I really even know her?

    After a few hours of television, John realized just how tired he was and decided to turn in. He knew how ridiculously early it was, just past nine, but could hardly keep his eyes open as he sat on the edge of his bed. He skipped brushing his teeth, stripped down to his underwear, and slipped between the sheets. His mind came back to the American Morning program and the conversation of lucid dreaming. John dozed off thinking how nice it would be if Emma were to keep him company in his dreams.

     Drifting into a deep sleep, John’s mind soon entered into the realm of nightmare. His boss Connie stood before him, her too thin face scowling at him. “You’re late again!” she screeched, spittle flying from her pinched lips, landing on his clean brown apron. As he was about to respond, he noticed that her Café Cliché uniform had been replaced by a ragged clown costume, her long emaciated fingers becoming longer as she reached for his throat. This is a dream, floated through John’s mind, and he forced open his eyes. He lay staring at the moon lit ceiling of his room as his heart rate slowed to a normal pace. Was that a lucid dream? he wondered. He was exhilarated at the thought. Could he control his dreams? He didn’t totally grasp the possibilities, but was excited by the prospect.

to be continued 1-27-12

Monday, January 23, 2012

Next Stop: Kindle

Well, I've decided to take the leap and publish an anthology of my short stories on Kindle. It won't happen over night, however. It will be a bit of a process, but that's to be expected. You never really realize how involved a project will be until you decide to pursue it; or I should say I never know. You may be a little more pragmatic than yours truly.
     Anyhoo, I think I've about figured out my plan of action. First off, I've decided to try having the project funded on kickstarter(dot)com. If you've ever considered a creative project but didn't have the funds to do it, you may want to check out their site. The amount I'll be striving for isn't too substantial, although I've decided I'll need to have my stories professionally edited, Kindle formatted and have a cover designed. I've chosen a designer for my book cover (at fiverr(dot)com) but am still investigating an editor. I think the whole process should cost me around five-hundred dollars. Hopefully, I'll be published by Spring! Yea!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Shahglivis Leviathan

Fire-breather, voraciously
Purging the earth of civilization
Royalty and Peasant alike
Winged black creature
With eyes
Favoring blazing emeralds
The largest of its cast
Feeding off the world
Its very presence
Befouls the sky
Young prentice knight
On allegiant steed
Not wholly aged
No one has ever
Faced this adversary
Without a blink
It radiates on-high
Terminal battle ensues
As if an army of twenty
Would make
A difference
Upright spines
and curling tail
its petrous scales
Are not enough
To protect
The creature
From the
True of heart
The sword is weld
The blade rings true
The heinous creature
Is struck backwards
From the rocky mount
Flesh engulfed
Its blackened bones
Shimmering and
Dissolving like
Fading embers
The young knight
Brave and given
The steed lay
And given
The last of
A breed
These three
The knight
The steed
Shahglivis Leviathan

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Monday, January 16, 2012

Axe Murder

Hey! There will be a few days intermission before the next installment of  "Trailer Park from Hell."

Here's a gruesome number that I drew at age sixteen or possibly seventeen. Yes, my mother worried about me... (click on it for a larger image, or right click and choose "open link" for an even larger image).

Saturday, January 7, 2012

H.P. Lovecraft, a eulogy

The solemn slab below a large oak tree
Floating corpse leaves
whisper of days gone by and
the images and sounds of dark desires

His universe was in shadow of the eternal Cthulhu
dreaming in death of our century and centuries before
Sad, so sad, glide along the ghosts
In their footsteps his old life’s passage

An uncommon sight, we behold his tales
Laughing at time with a mysterious charm
Few people know the secrets of magic
Lovecraft is in the shadow of these tombs

Monday, January 2, 2012

A Foolish Lark

A foolish lark
the house appears before me

A surreal house in the gloom
filled with souls left out

of  heaven and hell
Once called mother, daughter, son or father

The curtains drawn
The stair turns

as I climb
unable to look down

Here it is always night
and always time to play

In the bedroom
sleep will never come

This is a lesson learned
the fool’s doubts revealed

by the sounds I hear
pouring from restless hearts