Missing

*warning this contains adult themes*

He didn’t just get lost. Charles ‘Charlie’ Buckton didn’t just lose his children. He also didn’t have favourites, and yet, Billy his youngest was such a sweet child. He loved his Daddy more than anything else and followed him everywhere. Maude hated when he brought the kids camping in the woods, yet so often relented for a quiet house from time to time.

Tramping through the woods, his muscles aching from weariness, Charlie ran the day over in his mind.  He and his five children had been camping in Itasca State Park. An activity they did several times a year. While out hiking, his eldest David, had stopped to help Billy tie his shoe. Charlie and the rest had moved on ahead. He could still hear David, “Alright Billy I’ll race you back to the others. First one to touch Dad is the winner.” The laughter from both boys, the stomping of running feet, then the slowed uncertainty. “Billy?”

Charlie shuddered, his skin crawling. David, while only 13 years old, had blamed himself. “Dad I could hear him behind me the whole time until suddenly I couldn’t, I should have paid better attention.” Maude had held David as he sobbed in their small farmhouse’s kitchen. “It wasn’t your fault David, someone took him. Someone in those woods I’m sure of it.” Maude had looked at him reproachfully, her eyes begging him to stop.

His arm snagged on a tree branch causing him to stumble. Hiking normally brought him peace. Yet today all he could focus on was the day, one month previous when Billy had gone missing. Most people had given up, especially after they found his shoes a week later, sitting on a log in the woods. “Most likely animal predation.” The State cops had declared. They expressed their sympathies and called off the search. They were little Billy’s shoes alright, but they weren’t bloody or torn. So Charlie wasn’t giving up. He trudged on down the same trail from that fateful day.

Ellie had begged him not to go, “Daddy please don’t go back, what if the thing that took Billy takes you?” He looked down at his baby girl, only 1 year older than 6-year-old Billy, and smiled. “Don’t worry Princess, Daddy is big and strong, and nothing can hurt him.” He proceeded to lift her up and give her a good squeeze. “I should come with you Dad.” David had protested. “No Davey, this is no job for a kid…”

“Dad I can help…” David began.

“No. David. I need you to stay here. You’re the man of the house until I get back. You have to mind your Mama, Peter, Mary, and Ellie. You understand?”

He had understood, and although he had wished he had the company of his eldest, he thought it best not to bring him. The things he’d read online since Billy’s disappearance had shocked him to his core. Unexplained mysteries in National Parks all over the country? Not on his watch. Not with his kid.

Charlie felt his breathing grow laboured and worried that at the tender age of 35, he was having a heart attack. He then assessed his surroundings and realised he was back at the spot Billy had disappeared. The air was thick, still, and eerily silent. No wildlife rustling through the grass. No wind whistling through the trees. Sweat poured down Charlie’s back, soaking through his shirt. His eyes darted around the forest.

“Back for your child yes? People are so curious.”

He spun to meet the utterer of this sentence and felt faint. A tall, thin creature, shaped like a man, but was everything but. Its white skin was taut over its bones, it’s eyes sunken and fingernails like claws. “We take you to him, come.” Charlie frowned, patting the front breast of his coat. “Your human weapons won’t work here. We’ve shifted you to our plane now, come.” The creature turned and Charlie had no choice but to follow. Under his trouser leg on the right was his hunting knife. He’d be damned if that didn’t work here, where ever ‘here’ was.

The creature led Charlie to a camp. Surrounding a fire were more creatures. Not many, but enough to make his hand twitch towards the gun again. His eyes assessed the area realising the greyness of everything. It was the same forest he’d entered, but more barren. The trees seemed to droop. The sky though cloudless was grey, and the fire, provided no warmth. “Come, we show you.” It beckoned him to a stone altar where to his horror he was met with the bloodied corpse of his son. “Billy,” he bellowed. “No, my poor boy. My sweet boy. What have they done to you.” Billy’s lifeless eyes stared at the grey sky as Charlie wept over him.

When he finally looked up the creature’s face was covered in a grin. “We need blood. Young blood for the Gods you see, to please them, the dark ones. There is so little blood here on our plane, but so much on yours. You need to share.” Its grin stirred the reptile in Charlie’s brain and he lunged at it. They wrestled on the ground, it’s sharp teeth inches away from Charlie’s neck. He kicked it off him, pulled out his gun and pulled the trigger. Just as the creature had warned him it made but a soft popping noise, like a party item, and then no more. He threw it at the creature as he made for his hunting knife.

The rest of the group had descended on him now. As he brandished the knife, he reasoned. “Let me go, with my boy, and I won’t hurt any of you.” The grinning creature, now with a dark blood spot above its eyes simply shook its head. The others, in their hysteria, had grown all the more terrible. Their eyes darker, their manner more hunched, their claws glinting. “We can’t let you go. You will tell the others.” Charlie violently shook his head. “No, I won’t tell anyone, just please, let me and my boy go. My blood is no used to you, I’m not young.”

The grinning creature simply responded. “No, but your flesh is good to eat.” Charlie fought valiantly, killing one of the creatures in his struggle. He finally succumbed to death as the grinning creature tore at his neck with its teeth. His final thoughts were simply, “I’m coming for you Billy, my boy.”

Copyright © 2018 Thinkingmoon.com – All rights reserved

*Inspired by David Paulides – The Missing 411.

Check out my previous scary story:

https://thinkingmoon.com/2018/10/09/obsolescence/

Obsolescence

*warning this contains adult themes*

Her skin was frigidly cold now, the pain in her leg was easing. Endorphins flittered down throughout her blood causing her to shiver. The wound still pulsed but the aching was retreating. Although she would have welcomed this relief not an hour ago, she understood what her body was doing. It was giving up.

She drew a blanket around her and limped to the window, the sun was rising in the desolate, ash-filled sky. It cast flickering rays through the clouds of debris. From the window, in the distance, she could see the Atlantic ocean, bobbing as it always had. It worried not about the dead and poisoned marine life. It cared not regarding the polluted rivers joining it at it the coast. It cared not for Lilith who sat on an uncomfortable chair by the window, gazing at it, taking her final few hundred breaths.

Lilith knew last night that death was upon her as the fever had reached maddening heights. Visions of a world free from nuclear winter had raged, her loved ones living, with plenty to eat and drink. Although now she knew that they had been delirium dreams, the pang that it caused her now tormented more than the wound ever had.

As the last of her water streamed down her face her mind grew bitter in the knowledge that she was dying at the tender age of twenty, not quite twenty-one. Twenty years of suffering, death, and violence, ending now in a flurry of anger. Why had they so royally fucked up the world? What did it accomplish? Where were they now? Dead most likely, nothing gained, and everything lost.

Lilith shifted her leg one last time, and the faint web of pain confirmed her suspicions. The sprinkling sun lit up her pale, undernourished face. Her brown eyes flashing in its splendor. She looked at it directly now, for the first time, and the last. Her tears ceased, and although she had determined to die with dignity, all that remained was fear. Fear that this was all there was and all there ever would be for her. She let out a miserable whimper, and was no more.

The sun continued to rise, the ocean continued to flow, and the Earth continued to turn as the last human being, died in the room she was born in, not twenty-one years ago.

Copyright © 2018 Thinkingmoon.com – All rights reserved

Inspiration:

—T.S. Eliot, “The Hollow Men” (1925)

Genuinely tell me, how did this make you feel, on your inside space?

Or would you rather listen than read?

Also, check out additional spooky Tuesday blogs:

https://thinkingmoon.com/2018/10/02/wicca/

Reawakening

Dormant for over 1000 years, Mount Codlata had recently begun rumbling. Although local populations were aware of this reawakening, little relocating took place. This was mainly due to Mount Codlata’s home in the desert sands and rocky hills of Goath. As one of the most remote places on Tallabh, the Goath desert was rarely visited, except when a scientist or adventurer found the inspiration to wander its lonely mountains or sandy wastelands.

Deep within the belly of Mount Codlata, magma churned graceful yet frantic now as nearly 100 years of activity would culminate in a spectacular eruption. From afar, scientists and ordinary citizens alike watched excitedly for the natural event of the era. Many had taken time from their busy lives to watch this explosive event which had sparked their imagination. Scientists waited patiently for the eruption, hoping once it began, samples would yield valuable data, as sediment from over 1000 years ago would be thrown forth.

So it was that Mount Codlata ruptured in colours of brilliant ecstasy, as the remnants from Tallabh’s indigenous history spewed forth in a river of hot red magma. The generated findings from this explosion were vast. Keeping many scientists and volcano enthusiasts occupied for years to come.

In its initial explosion, debris was flung many miles abroad, some even making it as far as the shoreline more than 40 miles east of the land of Goath. Much of those pieces were gathered for study and private collections. Many more were washed out to sea, carried away by strong currents. One such current brought pieces as far as the icy shores of the Island of Banbás, where the rocks, already cooled, began to freeze as the winter closed in.

One particularly large rock took several weeks to freeze entirely, but by mid-winter, it was frozen internally. The wind howled on the Island of Banbás, and it’s few inhabitants had all but ceased to leave their homes, during the worst of the weather the Island received year round. Winters on Tallabh last 150 days, as the planet, tilted on its axis, languidly orbits the star Glormaar with a circle of 600 days.

The rock in question began exhibiting signs no rock in the history of Tallabh had done. It had all but begun to shake. It’s idiosyncrasies began with gentle vibrations no one would have noticed without the correct equipment. Slowly it vibrated, then shook, then shuddered, until finally, it convulsed violently. As the days rolled by pieces of the frozen rock began to crack and fall away, until eventually after months of frozen shaking, a distinct shape could be seen.

The rock was now decidedly person-shaped. A tall shapely form, with a look of intense fear and pain on their face. One would have recoiled in horror looking upon the agony. Their teeth clenched, fingers like claws, and body contorted from the misery of a lava-encrusted death.

This body, continued its vibrations, day after day, week after week, month after month. It became with each passing week, less rocky and more fleshy. Had this been witnessed, none would have believed what they were seeing. Occurrences outside the laws of nature would cause dubious horror within. The skin eventually clear of all rock could be observed as dark and smooth. It could now be seen that the form was female, whose face, though contorted, was quite the beauty. Her hair was long, lips full, nose button like. Her cheekbones, while defined, made her face soft.

Then on a day near the beginning of the thaw, her brown eyes opened. She took a deep breath and unleashed a scream which carried across the Island of Banbás. This scream frightened the denizens who spread tales of a demonical temptress in the following weeks. None left their houses that day out of fear.

Chapter 1

A drooping plant, melancholy in its composure, caused Ellie to pause and sit down beside it. Although she had been growing things all her life, this plant was dying right before her eyes, and to her at that moment, she could not but connect this dying plant, to her empty womb. “The universe is giving me a sign and it’s that I cannot have a child.” Fat tears popped out of Ellie’s pale blue eyes and ran down her round cheeks. She had recently been with a doctor, in nearby Bandialann, and the news had been disheartening.

“Look Ellie, I’m really sorry, but we cannot exactly define why you and Eric have been unable to conceive. You must understand, in all our wisdom, our race still struggles to truly understand why sometimes people cannot get pregnant. Both of your tests have come back and there seems to be absolutely nothing out of the ordinary. I feel as though if you are not so hard on yourself that one day you and Eric will have a healthy baby.” Doctor Messa offered her gentle but firm smile. Although Ellie heard the words, her emotions would not allow this to be a peaceful moment of understanding. Her sobs had been loud that day, and Eric, silent in his mourning, had just held her.

Eric had tried for weeks afterward to keep Ellie calm and be positive, but even his inner dialogue was telling him it was hopeless. So when Ellie had told him yesterday morning that she was going to see a witch for help, he hadn’t argued or decried the idea, he had just nodded resignedly. Perhaps this would help Ellie to relax naturally, and that would help matters along. They weren’t that old anyway, barely 40, and people were living to 400 these days with medical advances. So he let her go and kissed her on the head supportively on the way out the door. “Just be safe, ok my love?” She had nodded bravely and set out confidently, back to Bandialann, to a famous witch and healer.

As Ellie sat on the floor staring at the dying plant, she remembered the words of the witch from the day before. Even before Ellie opened her mouth the witch had proclaimed her the mother of a future well-known child, and could she offer her any advice? Ellie had blinked at the outburst, and said through gritted teeth, “myself and my Cayla Eric are having trouble conceiving a child, so how could I possibly be the future mother of a famous child?!” Her bitterness was not hidden, yet it did not phase the witch as she smiled back at Ellie, “Oh my dear, you are so young, why do you worry so? I see children in your future, you just need a little push in the right direction.” The witch rose from her altar, on which Ellie noted a great many things she didn’t understand and glided to a nearby shelf of jars, trinkets, and fauna.

The witch reached in behind several items and pulled out a dusty jar, filled with what Ellie could only describe as dust. “You have finally come along to claim your powder.” Said the witch cryptically, her beautiful green eyes flashing with knowing. Ellie felt uncomfortable for the first time with the women before her. Although she was beautiful, mystery surrounding her. This was perpetuated by the fact that although her brown hair was streaked with grey, she didn’t seem to be that old.

“Now my dear, your future awaits, all you need to do is plant the seeds.” She proceeded to plop the jar of ‘powder’ into Ellie’s hands. Ellie starred into the jar, which seemed to glisten ever so slightly in the light. “What, am I supposed to do with this? Rub it on my body or something?” She asked with undisguised facetiousness. The witch threw back her head and laughed heartily, causing Ellie’s churning stomach to relax. There was something kind about the laughter and Ellie smiled.

Copyright © 2018 Thinkingmoon.com – All rights reserved

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https://thinkingmoon.com/category/stories/

The Creature

Storytelling is so personal, it’s difficult to disguise yourself in your words. I was terrified for many years of people actually reading what I wrote. Only my English teacher or my mother were permitted. Having worked hard on my writing technique throughout my life, it’s difficult to tell if I’ve improved or not. This is a symptom of my ‘imposter syndrome.’ I’ve always felt I wasn’t a real writer.

I’ve been especially self-reflective lately. This is mainly due to my age, however there is a certain healing power in it. My internal house work has kept me busy, fixing up old memories I haven’t been in for years. My teenage years were painful for me, and I’ve only established that truth lately. I didn’t want to dwell on my school days or early college years and spent a lot of time avoiding those memories.

Now that I’m more at peace with all iterations of myself, I have the courage to post a story from when I was 14. I present it as evidence of my writings maturation. The only changes I’ve made are grammatical, because nobody wants to see that. Otherwise it is a raw example of a ‘Jenni’ story, circa November 2004.

The Creature

Freezing air filled my lungs. I knew it was going to catch me; it was inevitable. I turned up a narrow cobbled street. It was slippery but I kept on running. It was evening and the sun was setting rapidly. The tall buildings around me let very little light in so this particular street was very dark.

I could hear it breathing very heavily behind me. It was definitely gaining on me. The cold perspiration was running down my back. I could barely breath anymore. The pain in my side was the only thing I could feel. Everything else was concentrated on getting away from my creature. I wanted to slow down but my human in instincts told me that if I did it would be the last thing I ever did.

As I ran I remembered back a month or so ago. When a friend of mine had bought a rare species of monkey from the Amazon jungle. “ Go on!” He said. “ All these foreign monkeys are in fashion!”

Well it’s a pity that the creature I bought wasn’t in any of the archives in the local library. It wasn’t in any rare creature’s book and a friend of mine who studies rare animals said, “well you know what Michael I’ve never seen anything like it and I’ve seen a lot of strange things!”

Even the man who found him said that he found him in a rather strange place. He said “He somehow dug his was under some tree roots without damaging the tree, and he was asleep when I found him, so he was the easiest catch I ever made!”

“Amazing!” I thought, “beautiful, wondrous, a new chapter for human kind.” He was four foot tall, with four limbs. It walked on its hind legs but its arms were very small. It was covered in short strong fur. Its features were almost human like except for its eyes. They were large and dark. They seemed to be full of intelligence. It even bowed its head as if in some sort of greeting.

I was thrilled with my new pet, but I did not forget my old one. The next morning I awoke to find my cat John-Joe and the creature on my roof. “John-Joe come down I have your breakfast” but the cat continued to hiss and spit at the creature.

“Raorrrrr.” I snapped back to reality. I was still unable to breath and the creature was barely ten metres behind me. I was now running through the small forest beside the town, towards the docks. Night had fallen by this time,

I thought of the date. The 31st of December, not two weeks ago I had watched my cat plunge to its death. My cat knew, as he stood on that roof that the creature was corrupt. So it jumped off the roof not landing on all fours but sadly in my water barrel and drowned before I could fish him out.

I was very distraught at the death of my cat that I was blind to the truth. I should have guessed the reality of the situation when I read about the strange machine, which had been found by a logging company in the Amazon Rainforest. This I did not find strange. What I did find strange was the fact that my creature’s DNA did not match any compound I had studied in collage. I went to the library and researched this compound but I found no matches.

I was on a high. I believed I had discovered a new compound.  I thought I was going to win the Noble prize for science this year. I was too busy working to realise that my creature was building strange equipment in my garden shed.

*Crunch* I nearly tripped over a tree root, I should be concentrating on the task at hand. I ducked into a large hole in an old oak tree. I felt light headed I paused for a moment to try and catch my breath. I could hear the creature coming closer. So I jumped out of the hole and started running again.

I could see the end of the forest and the start of the docks. I reflected on how intelligent the creature was. I knew my only hope was for the creature to drown.

I had discovered the creature’s machine quite by chance the night beforehand. I was going down to the bottom of my garden to get a sample of earth.  When I heard strange sounds coming from the shed. “Click, zizz, waaag, nawk, tlick” these were the sounds I could hear. I went and looked in the window of the shed and to my great amazement and horror I saw my creature working on his machine. Oh my God I thought this creature is an intelligent life form.

Then it hit me; this wasn’t a creature from earth. I was having flash backs of the news headlines for the past few weeks. “It like some sort of metallic flying disk.” said one “It’s like nothing any scientist had seen before,” said another.  The piece of machinery found in the rain forest belonged to my creature. I thought I was going crazy but now I knew my creature was an extra-terrestrial.

I knew now that if I let my creature continue working on its machine it would eventually transmit Earth’s co-ordinates to its own kind on some far away planet, and that could only mean one of two things: 1. They would be peaceful and want to join in union with Earth and teach us new and exciting things or, 2. They wanted to destroy human kind and all it stood for and take over the planet.

I had to make a decision and I couldn’t make it lightly. As I stood there I realised the fate of human kind rested in my hands. Without further thought I went and got my shotgun and headed back down to the shed.

Before I open the door I asked God for forgiveness. I barged in took aim and shot the creature’s machine. This was my mistake. My creature turn round with anger filled eyes, it let out a deafening scream. I froze for a second then thought better of it and ran.

I could hear a foghorn echoing in the distance and it snapped me back to reality. I ran for the nearest boardwalk. I stopped at the end of it and turned round.  I could hear fireworks in the distance and people cheering happy New Year. The year was now 1980. I thought how far we had come since 6000 BC.

The creature came to a halt at the start of the boardwalk. For a few seconds we stood motionless. The creature took a running start and jumped at me, I ducked just in time and the creature plummeted into the water.

For a few minutes the creature helplessly splashed about in the water with its small weak arms, until eventually it sank. I sat on the end of the boardwalk till morning; I wanted to make sure it was dead.

I thought of how far human kind could have jumped into the future if we could have studied this creature and it’s machines. I also consider how the world could have been thrown into complete chaos if the aliens had prevailed.

I think we will leave this problem with aliens for the people in the 21st century. I stood up and started my long journey home.

Copyright © 2018 Thinkingmoon.com – All rights reserved

Jennifer Floody
Like this story? Why not try another one?

https://thinkingaheadblog.wordpress.com/2018/03/31/come-back/

Come Back

1

            The steel is cold against my face, hands, and feet because they are bare. I am lying on my right side, legs splayed. My left arm is in front on my face, the hand palm down. My right arm is behind my back, the hand on its side. My face is resting on the steel. I blink several times, to adjust to the dimly lit room. The wall in front of me is also steel. I tilt my head and confirm my suspicions that the ceiling is also steel.

Eventually I twist myself into a sitting position and two facts settle in. Firstly, the remaining three walls are also steel. Secondly, there are no windows or doors. The room is familiar to me, more familiar than who I am. Looking down I see I’m dressed in a loose fitting shirt, with elastic bands on the wrists and waist. The pants are of identical material with elastics at the ankles and hips. They are cream and soft. It is apparent to me that I am female. I reach to my head to find thick curly hair. Even with all this information, I still do not know who I am, or my purpose in my steel room.

My investigation of the room reveals there are small lights which jut out along the  edge of each wall in a square. There are 50 on each side I count, which means there are 1,200 in total. I discover that out of the 1,200 white lights there are two anomalies. One, is on the ceiling in a corner. It is black and it pulls out to reveal wires attached. I feel someone must be monitoring me. The second anomaly is a red bulb, on the bottom of my box. It does not move.

I know this because when I touch it for prolonged periods of time, I fall into a vision.

The hallway of the hotel feels as though it goes on forever due to my slightly drunken state. My black dress and high heels make me feel beautiful, it’s my birthday. I need to get my phone from the hotel room so I can take pictures of my friends and family on my special day. I’m aware there is someone with me in the brightly lit hotel hall and I feel uncomfortable. I don’t want that person there. The door to room refuses to open, as I struggle with the key card. I wish I’d accepted Rupert’s offer to come with me. All the while my mind protests the presence of the stranger.

At this point each time I pull my fingers off the bulb.

***

            Lying on the floor I consider my situation. I should feel discomfort but I do not. I do not feel hunger, or the need to relieve myself. 7 seconds could be 7 hours could be 7 weeks. As I stare at the ceiling I see something different. Little horizontal slits in the steel. They were not there on my first investigation. I stand up and while running my fingers along the slits, I notice my nails are stained with colour. When I push at the slits they move upwards in a diagonal motion revealing a window to outside.

A gentle breeze floats through my box and I remember how much I love fresh air. I can see trees and the blue sky through my small window slits. For a time I listen to the trees rustle in the breeze, feel the air on my skin, smell the potent sap, and I am content. I do not know how long I stand there, until my sensory experience is broken by a tiny bird landing on one of the metal slits which poke out into the world. They drop something into my box which I don’t immediately pick up. I am too enthralled by this exquisite little creature. The bird is brown with a cream chest dotted with darker specks. Its little black beak sings, and the small ruffled feathers on its head vibrate in the wind. It moves in the quick way unique to birds and my trance is broken when it flies off. I am saddened by the loss of my avian friend.

The bird had left me a key. It’s bronze with a round head and nothing engraved on it. It looks new, as though it’s freshly cut and never used. Once again I carefully investigate my box, lit more naturally now by the window, but find no key hole. I hold it in my palm, it becomes warm through heat conduction. Eventually it dawns on me what needs to be done. I placed the key in the tight waist band of my pants, and lay on my right side. I reach out my left hand, gently using my thumb, forefinger, and middle finger, I grasp the red bulb.

            The hallway of the hotel feels as though it goes on forever due to my slightly drunken state. My black dress and high heels make me feel beautiful, it’s my birthday. I need to get my phone from the hotel room so I can take pictures of my friends and family on my special day. I’m aware there is someone with me in the brightly lit hotel hall and I feel uncomfortable. I don’t want that person there. The door to room refuses to open, as I struggle with the key card. I wish I’d accepted Rupert’s offer to come with me. All the while my mind protests the presence of the stranger.

They wrestle the key card out of my hand and push me through the now open door. I am screaming for Rupert and stranger grabs me by the throat until I can barely breath. I pull at their hands, desperately trying to avoid their eyes. I feel pain in my head. They’ve hit me with something heavy. The hot blood flows down my head and my heart is pounding. The pain is deafening, I can think of nothing else. They force me onto the bed. The room is swimming, and the pain is excruciating, my vision blurs…

2

I heave with sobs. The fear pumps cortisol around my body, my stomach churns with a mixture of anger and shame. My face is wet from tears and sweat, my hands and feet are cold. I grab my hair to have something to hold onto. I scream and the sound is flat in my little steel box. I slam my right fist onto the ground, with a dull thud, and eventually the tears subside. When my vision clears and I can see once again, there is a steel handle in the middle of the floor. The kind of handle they have on doors for cellars or shelters. I scoot over the floor to investigate. There is now a vein of gaps in a rectangle around the handle and just underneath it, there is a keyhole. My breathing has regulated and my hands are quivering, but no longer from fear. I reach for the key in my waist band. Concentrating with all my might, pushing the vision from my mind, I slip the key into the lock. It fits perfectly and turns without resistance.

I open the small trap door to find a ladder which reaches down about 20 feet, and see a room below. While I can see some further steel around the ladder and on the floor of the room below, I can’t see much else from the perch in my box. I glance back to the red bulb, which is now white, glowing like the rest. I clamber down the ladder, my legs returning to normal after the shock. The rungs are cold on my hands and feet. Air from the window slowly blows through the short tunnel and into the room beneath. The ladder stops at the mouth, I use my arms until the last rung, then gently drop down onto the steel floor.

I stand surveying the room. It is huge compared to my box, around 3 times the size. It is filled with computers, storage units, and machines. Most of them are lifeless. They do not respond to any of my efforts to switch them on. Eventually I find a computer which does. I sit on a small office swivel chair the same grey as the walls. The computer wakes and requires a password, without hesitation I type:

Artist85Life

            The background picture is a beautiful and familiar garden. There is only one folder labelled ‘messages’. I double-click it revealing 6 files labelled 1 – 6. I double click file 1. It opens a video of a man. He is wearing a deep blue shirt and pants, with a utility belt around his waist. His dark skin perfectly complements his lovely brown eyes. He smiles at me and says cheerfully, “Hi Laura!” My name is Laura. “My name is Laura?” I mumble. He grimaces into a sad smile as though he’s heard me, his eyes soften. I trust him, he is a friend. “I’m Rupert the repairman, and I’m trying to fix the machinery in here. I was hoping you could help me Laura, so I thought I’d send you some messages.”

I smile, glad that he did, realising how lonely I’d been in my box. Rupert’s familiar voice is music to me. “It’s just a theory of mine that I can fix the machinery here in the shelter by sending certain files to you to interpret.” I cocked my head to the right, not understanding him. “Don’t worry Laura, you’re the expert on what I need help with. You knew the password for this computer, which is one step ahead of me!” He smiled and it warms me. His handsome face is not only familiar, but beloved to me.

“Ok so file number 2 is a video like the rest. When you’re done, open file 3 and I’ll give you further instructions. See you soon, hopefully!” He winked and with a charming smile he clicked off. I breathed deeply, readied myself for the next message, and doubled clicked file 2. It was a news report in an art gallery. The pieces on the walls are colourful, modern interpretations of natural landscapes. Trees aren’t just green and brown, they are purple and red. The skies are a plethora of blues, oranges, and yellows. Flowers flourish on the canvases, the hyperrealism is entrancing. The reporter begins speaking. “This artist struggled for many years, her story is one of hard work and perseverance. A career 15 years in the making. Please tell me sir are you planning on purchasing one of these pieces?” The microphone was thrust under the mouth of none other than Rupert! “Absolutely, and I would love to meet the beautiful soul who created these pieces.” The reporter smiled, “well you’re in luck, we are here with the artist Laura Mockingbird. Laura, tell us what was like getting to this point in your career?”

I paused the video on the reporter and the woman who had just walked into frame. This was me, Laura Mockingbird. What a funny name. Long brown curly locks, startling blue eyes, slim frame, and a messy style. The smile on my face was one of pure joy. I pressed play and listened to my own voice. “That’s very kind of you sir, I would be happy to discuss any of my pieces with you.” I turn to the reporter, “it’s one of those journeys of enduring hope. Keep creating, just focus on the process not the end result. When it’s time, you’ll be found.” The reporter smiled signing off and sending the story back to the studio. The video ended here.

In a daze I doubled clicked file 3. Rupert’s lovely face appeared once more. “Hi Laura!” He proclaimed. “Whatever you’re doing keep at it, the machines are lighting up like fireworks. Have a look!” I turned to the room to see flashing lights of green, blue, and red. The machines hummed, grinded, and clicked. “Try the next file, we’ll have this problem licked before the end of working day. See you soon.” In a trance I dragged the mouse over to file 4 with some difficulty. Another video popped up, filmed on a camera phone. Me in a black dress, celebrating with friends and family in a restaurant. “That’s my mother,” my frazzled brain offered, as they applauded me. “I would like to thank you wonderfully supportive people, for being here on such a special birthday for me. My adventure as an artist has been arduous to say the least. I want to shower you all with my gratitude. Without your love, the well of my inspiration would have run dry. Here’s to you all.” The video ended with the clicking of champagne flutes, and myself and Rupert smiling madly at each other. My mind became increasingly foggy. It took me a painfully long time to open file 5.

“Hello Laura, we are doing fantastic,” Rupert’s emphasis on fantastic was encouraging. “Most of the machines are up and running again. We have one file to go, and hopefully we’ll see you soon. Be brave, you’re so strong.” The video ended with his sunny smile. I was more light-headed and detached which each video. All the same I dragged the mouse slowly to the 6th and final file. The video nearly floored me. It was me in a hospital bed. My Mother Daphne, was by my side, holding a hankie to her face, tears welling. My brother David stood by her waving at the camera, “we love you Laura, we want you to wake up more than anything!” My mother offered, “You’re such a strong woman Laura, you’ve always been, it’s time to wake up please.” She managed this between sobs.

The camera turned to Rupert’s lovely face, “hi Laura, It’s Rupert. We hope by playing videos of your wonderful life to you, you might want to wake up. We can’t stand the thought of beautiful talent like you going to waste in a deep sleep. I know we haven’t been together long, but I’m not ready to give up if you’re not.” My head swam with memories. Of my mother inspiring me while I learned to paint. Playing with my brother in the beautiful woods behind our home. Meeting Rupert at my first art exhibition. Our first few exciting dates. My birthday celebration. Being attacked in my hotel room. Rupert’s encouraging voice from my bedside. I closed my eyes.

***

When I opened them again, I was in a hospital bed. My mother’s elegant face was filled with joy as she clasped my hand. David was clapping and cheering, tears in his eyes. Rupert’s handsome face was alight. My new love for him came flooding back and I sobbed, “Rupert, how long was I gone?” He smiled brilliantly, “too long my love.”

Copyright © 2018 Thinkingmoon.com – All rights reserved

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https://thinkingaheadblog.wordpress.com/2018/02/15/shadow-self/

Shadow Self

Story: Shadow Self

“Most people delude themselves into believing they’re not malicious. They don’t consider their shadow self.” She pointed at an older woman pushing a stroller. “See that grandmother walking in the park with her grandkids? She’s thought about what it would be like to drown one of them. It was a fleeting thought. A residual instinct of a by-gone era when one may kill their young to avoid a suffering painful death from starvation. The thought disturbed her, so she pushed it into the recesses of her mind.” Her arm then extended to a middle-aged gentleman, dressed in grey trousers, a shirt, and tightly knit jumper. “Here comes the local primary school teacher. He’s often thought what it would be like if those under a certain IQ were eliminated from the gene pool. Would this lead to a race of superhumans or amount to world peace? This passes through his mind while he corrects the children’s spelling tests during class as they make their way through their maths problems. Some of the children will have no difficulty, others will struggle with mathematical concepts. Would the gene pool benefit from their removal?” I shudder and ask tentatively, “how do you know what they are thinking?”

I don’t receive an answer, and she continues, “that lady running to catch the bus to work. She’s often considered rapists. How women are expected to be responsible for their own safety against them. What if you were proven unequivocally to have raped someone? Should you be castrated? If you’ve been castrated it’s impossible for you to do it again.” I shake my head at her. I thought she was in her right mind when I picked her up from St. Monica’s. “Please Ms Caffrey, why are you telling me these things? Are you feeling ill? Should I bring you back to the nursing home?”

Again, I was not met with an answer, but a continuation of her soliloquy, “of course these people never put serious conjuncture into these horrific concepts. Granny there would never drown any of her grandchildren. She loves them as dearly as she did her own children.” Her brown eyes gleamed, with tears though, not with glee. “Of course, Teacher would never wish the slower children removed as he enjoys the interaction of all his pupils. He is a well-loved and highly praised educator.”

“The Lady trying to get to work doesn’t actually believe that violence towards others solves anything. Surely the bibles ‘eye for an eye’ is as archaic as it is obsolete. What is the interesting part of all this, my dear?” I wasn’t sure why I was still listening to the old woman. Come to think of it my Mother had always emphasised the value of the elderly. That probably explained my volunteerism in the old folk’s home.

“They have all considered these notions. Usually, no sooner as the thoughts enter their head, they have pushed them out again. However, these people are not unusual. They are every human who has walked the Earth. Mostly they are merely invasive thoughts and are dismissed, by those like Granny. Some are like Teacher, who had always shown interest in philosophical avenues, and only wished to consider theories as intellectual simulations, in a harsh dangerous world.” Suddenly I understood, Ms Caffrey was a retired philosophy lecturer. Hence her monologue on the ‘shadow self’ as she called it. I relaxed now, understanding that she was not having an episode of some kind, she was just theorising. “Lady getting to work lives in constant fear of her body being invaded, although her reality of the thoughts generated by her shadow self may be more visceral and lingered upon, she would never be able to carry out the castration herself.”

She looked at me with intelligent eyes. Her neatly styled white hair shone in the morning sunshine. “We sit on the precipice of the cerebral and the savage. Living our daily lives, unconsciously considering actions and thoughts we would never bring to fruition. Well, most of us wouldn’t.” She laughed, “the killer and the writer often have a lot in common. Their imaginations bring them closer to their shadow selves then most others tend to feel comfortable with. Why doesn’t Teacher propose a system wherein those deemed below average intelligence are euthanized?  Of course, he wouldn’t because these people he is talking about are his fellow human beings. With feelings and inner worlds all their own. Don’t forget that everyone has the right to life…”

“…however, if everyone has the right to life, why are some people’s lives taken away from them? Let’s work under the premise that everyone deserves to live.” She smiles at me and I genuinely smile back, she is surprising me increasingly as the moments passed.

“Let’s talk about the thousands of children starving to death every day. They have a right to life, yet their basic human right of nourishment is negated. Now consider this. Those who have become rich through capitalistic means are in some way responsible for the uneven distribution of wealth throughout the world. However, the organisations feeding off the masses protest at any proposal to change the status quo of the neoliberal market, which by the way is only a concept, not a tangible natural law. Therefore, the right to life is void in favour of capitalistic gain.” My head is spinning, but I follow her rationale. I now understand the logic the home had in pairing me with her.

She pushed on, “capitalism, therefore, is a mass projection of humanity’s shadow self. Those of us which are comfortable enough to enjoy cheap clothes, food, and objects, feed the shadow self. We are aware when we buy a product from an unethical organisation, that an unknown someone, suffers as consequence.” I thought of the branded tennis shoes I was all too fond of. “We are feeding the mass sore of capitalism. The sore that is starving so many of our fellow human beings, and stealing their basic human right to life.” She paused, took out a lunchbox and offered the contents to me. “Apple slice?”

In a daze, I took one. “Ms. Caffrey.”

“Please dear, call me Rita.”

“Ok Rita, you call me Celine.”

“Can do.”

“Ok Rita, this is all very interesting, but what do you suggest we do?”

She smiled at me knowingly. “We all know what we should do. No human is separate from the others, what we do affects those we’ve never met. I believe we have two options. Option one consists of changing our ways, every day. Take the difficult route. Buy local unpackaged foods instead of imported heavily packaged goods. Buy second hand or ethically sourced clothing, although the latter may be more expensive. Try more walking, cycling and public transport, stop using a car. Eat less red meat or none at all, change your waste disposal habits, have one child less or no children. Spend more time involved in your community rather than activities that are selfish and pointless. Take one less trans-oceanic flight every year. These changes may cause small indignities in the short term, but our long-term safety must be considered. Recycle. Reuse,” She paused, sipped some water, and continued, “do you turn the light off in a room when you are not in it? Or are you the kind of person that finds life too short for these trifling details? If you are the latter, I think you are wrong. Our abuse of the Earth has reached a very important moment in history and there is no easy way to say this, it may already be too late.” She popped some peeled apple slices into her mouth, and slowly chewed them. As if she were discerning the flavour of the apple.

“That’s option one Celine, and let’s be honest, option one is really tough. Option one involves giving up the vanity of our lives. Option two, however, makes option one look like a delicious cup of tea. Like the idyllic life, all the Climate Justice activists dream and fight for. Option two is letting Earth decide our fate because that is the inevitable conclusion of humanity’s era on this planet. We can continue to hurt the Earth, and our fellow Earthlings through simple inaction. Let the Earth slowly fill with water through melting ice caps. Let the land be reclaimed by the seas and the oceans. Let the wildlife die, the bees, and the coral; The tigers, and the elephants; The grains and the trees. Be selfish. You and I will probably be dead before the real trouble starts, but who knows? The climate is changing, the weather is becoming increasingly frantic, draughts are more common. We are experiencing the beginning of environmental issues scientists have warned us of for decades. While most of us in our cosy positions in the Western world can deny it, there are those who cannot. A quality inherent in humanity is our inability to act before problems escalate. Soon there will be no Earth left for any of us, and at that stage, all you will need to be either rich, powerful or both to save your skin. If you’re not, you will perish with the rest of humankind. While I understand this is a pessimistic view of the future, it’s also a logical one. If life has proven anything to humanity over and over, it can be horribly unfair. We can still look away because our own families are not suffering, but if our leaders don’t agree to changes that are more permanent soon, we may be the ones starving to death. There will come a day the world leaders will be hiding out on higher ground while those they are sworn to protect are washed away by rising sea levels. If you’d like some advice, become someone important. That’ll be the only way you’ll have a chance of surviving the rising sea levels and weather anomalies if this inaction continues.” She paused, it appeared these considerations weighed heavily on her.

“If you think you are a good person, you’re probably right. I am just like you, but I am frightened. We can all do better, we can fight our selfish shadow selves, left over from a primordial Earth where survival was the only goal. We have a new goal now, the safety of life for all, and I don’t just mean human beings. We have a collective responsibility to one another, every Earthling. Save Earth, by changing one thing, then another, then another. You say you’re tired. So am I, life is exhausting. However, aren’t we lucky to have the opportunity to be exhausted by life? I sit here, dismayed by what is to come. The wars, the famines, the deaths, without failing to remember those that have happened already. We are in imminent danger. Those in authority and positions of power cannot maintain acting like petulant children. Real change is needed, comfortable people need to be inconvenienced, we cannot continue forging this path or it will bury us all.”

I pondered for a moment, then asked, “why are you telling me this Rita?”

She took my hand, it was boney but warm, “probably because I have been starved of the joy lecturing brought me.” She laughed, “but mostly because I was told you are a writer, and you may put this in a story someday.”

I laughed with her, and we spoke no more of our shadows selves but of topics more pleasant. We enjoyed the sunshine of the park, and the sounds of nature it brought, but in the back of my mind, creativity had been sparked.

Copyright © 2017 Thinkingmoon.com – All rights reserved

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https://thinkingaheadblog.wordpress.com/2017/05/12/mindfulness/

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