What Is Going On?!?! (Interludes Prologue)

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Erato_The_Muse_Of_Love_Poetry_by_François_Boucher.jpg

I had a very strange experience, and I don’t know why I feel compelled to write about it here, but I do. I anthropomorphized “The Muse” in previous posts. I did that as an intellectual tool, a thought experiment. For me to have written about the concept at all demonstrates how much time I had already given to it. You can imagine my frustration, when after the idea was out there, I did not get the usual relief I do in these situations.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hogarth_painting_the_muse.jpg
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hogarth_painting_the_muse.jpg

Instead, the whole thing of an anthropomorphized muse stuck with me. Anytime I had a free interior minute, like washing the dishes or before bed, I would find myself drifting towards the thought of the Muse, as a full fledged, living person.

Here is how the thoughts sort of went. What is really behind being in that artistic zone? How does the artist just turn over to this other force and have it produce such intelligent, cohesive products? If it is some sort of a power of the subconscious (thinking something like Jungian psychology), then how do we make sense of it being more creatively intelligent and complicated then our regular modes of thinking?

But further my mind would snap, and here is where the fissure starts, because I can almost hear a voice, her voice to be exact. Who says you have anything to do with it? So bold, right there, right smack between my eyes. The language and orientation seemed so strange. Why would I say such things to myself?

She always seems to have an answer, and be tired of my shit. She is also sick of me taking credit for her ideas, and wants her share of recognition and goodies. Now I know this sounds like I am losing my mind, but this is what happened. So I found myself down in the office this morning about to write. Now I have been writing somewhat seriously now for at least four years, and though I have days were it might have take longer to get going, I can always get the job done.

In other words, I had never known writer’s block. It also is important to note that I was in a fairly positive frame of mind, breakfast, coffee, free time, etc., but right as I hit my seat and started the computer a dreadfulness bombarded me. It was so strong and disorienting that I jumped up out of my chair, and in a panicked spastic response I flung my arms wildly around the room.

I was overwhelmed with paranoia. It was in there deep. I wanted to dig it out of myself somehow. I heard my kids playing upstairs. My wife was telling my oldest son that she just needed to finish the dishes and then they would all go outside. The normalcy of the moment snapped me out of it and I sat back down, but my hands were still shaking and I was so scared.

I opened up my work in progress and read the last sentence I wrote. There were a number of grammatical errors, which I tinkered with for a second. Somewhat disinterested, I went to write the new words and again a feeling of death and dread, and magnanimity overwhelmed. I felt stomach sick. I closed my eyes and laid my head on the desk.

An unending stream of existential crisis tore through me. What was I doing writing anyway? What did I have to say? I was a nothing and a nobody and just a loser like everybody else. There was nothing great in me. Compared to those before me, I am an inexperienced moron. All this obsession with art was so much inconsequential madness. It was sickening and shameful. A danger, to myself and others. I was a coward who had hide and ran and taken the path of least resistance and I would continue to be that, forever. It was over for me.

How can I describe the sensation of feeling that your thoughts are not you’re own? It’s like a person entering the room and beginning to talk to you, not quite yelling, but loud enough that you cannot ignore it. It’s an alien voice too, almost like reading words on a page, you have to sort of interpret character, inflection and tone.

It isn’t good at bluffing or bullshitting. It is just like the wind; it blows or it doesn’t.

The wind was blowing hard through my head. It was almost like drowning, but the nonstop stream of ideas filled the deadly world. I probably laid there for twenty minutes in this state before I popped out of my seat again, panicked. I was asthmatic too. I couldn’t get a deep enough breathe. The feeling of sharing the room with someone came back hard now. So hard that I grabbed my wallet and went running out the house, terrified that some physical or even metaphysical brain “popping” was about to occur.

It was a godawful hot humid day, and the heat and bright light just smashed me in the face. It was like I had ran right into a yellowish sweat bubble. The wet sickness pushed through my eyes balls and down into my guts. I could feel my morning breakfast gurgling there.

I should have gone inside and laid down, but I was too scared to go back into my house. I started walking. Everything wa cartoonish, blocky, almost lego-y. I began to hear what sounded like a choir singing, but I couldn’t find the source. I walked for a while until I came to a gas station. I stood outside, pacing, totally out of my mind. I was so worked up, angry and for what appeared to be nothing. I felt stupid about leaving the house like that, and I was sure my wife was wondering where the hell I went.

A woman pulled up in a white Nissan. I saw that it was an older woman, heavy set, and in business attire. We made eye contact for a second and I looked away. But as she walked passed, I looked back and now the woman was young, slim and shiny blond hair ran down seventies style lime green dress, which fit her perfectly. So weirded out, I walked around the building but was stopped by three youths. Two boys were on their bikes, and one little girl was standing on the curb, watching the others riding circles in the parking lot.

As I went passed them the little girl began to talk to me. “Oh professor ass dude, weirdo, lame type predator.” I couldn’t believe what was I was hearing. “Pussy,” she said. I turned around and they were all lined up staring at me. I felt like I should say something, but they were all smiling and what could I say? The oldest couldn’t have been nine, and the girl was no more than five. I couldn’t believe something like that coming from such a young child, but the way they were smiling told me they thought it was real funny.

I stared at them for a second so dumbfounded and weirded out that finally I just turned and walked away. As I got to the edge of the parking lot I looked back for them and they were gone. I kept walking, wading through this lingering dread. I walked until I came to a Dollar General. I had the urge to buy some candles, some candy, maybe even some flowers. I walked through the aisles and every person I went passed had some negative words for me. Vulgar, high school type trash. Pencil Dick. Faggot. Cocksucker. A Grandma in a red hat called me a cunt.

I got my chocolate bars and candles and headed for the checkout line, which was packed with people. I waited for an eternity. The whole time this voice in my head just kept going and going, like standing under a waterfall.

I couldn’t imagine another world existing outside of the pounding, pulsating, internal voice which was just having a freak out, in perfect, controlled, monotoned persistence. You suck you know that, you really suck. You sucks eggs. You suck dicks. You can suck a golf ball through a garden a hose. A carburetor out an engine block. You’re like black hole level suck. Bending matter to your empty black suck. Abortion vacuum suck…

I watched the checkout lady as the line crept. She was an older woman, late forties, early fifties. She had thinning hair and the look of a smoker. She had an air of a look of dignity though too, as she rang everyone’s crap up. Something told me she had some other career experience, like a horse trainer or something. But that was before, when she had something she loved, but that didn’t work out. She took this job out of necessity.

I finally made it to her, but right before, a viscous, emergency type, stomach pain kick in. I leaned against the counter and tried to close my eyes and take some deep breaths. When I opened my eyes, my things were being rang up and a voice broke into my head. “3.33, Sir.” I struggled for my wallet and when I brought it back up and looked the cashier in the face she had changed. It was the beautiful woman who was outside the gas station, but now she was in the Dollar General uniform. For the first time, I got a look at her face.

I love and am ever faithful to my wife, so I feel bad writing this, but she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. Normally I am a burnet man, but her ocean waves of shimmering blond hair and lightening green eyes left me floored and overwhelmed with lust. It was her smell too! It was like cool wind on a warm day, through a lavender field, mixed with the earthy scent of woman.

She smiled and said, “3.33, you sick bastard!” As if she read my dirty mind. She said the last words full of both sexuality and insult. I dropped my wallet and banged my head on the counter as I went to grab it. I was full of apologies, even though she had just insulted me. All flustered and blushing, I opened my wallet and there was nothing in there! I was a ramble of sorries and she just kept smiling at me.

“You’re fucking great,” she said. “I can’t wait to get my hands on you Austin. You’re a screamer, aren’t you? I can always sense a screamer. Hemingway never broke; I hated that. You don’t have a fiver on ya? You broke, chubby, son-of-a-bitch. Take the candy asshole, consider it a last meal. Fucking candles.”

You know the phrase deer in the head lights? Now I literally know what that feels like. It was like a decked out, glossy Escalade appeared from the ether and was going to plow right through me. The sick, twisted thing is as I basked in her presence I was still aroused, seduced even by her destructive forces. For some (possibly profound) reason I began to think about the blank page back at home, and how I needed to be doing my words.

The whole word froze and the lights went dim. The store began to shake and drywall began to sift from the ceiling. I looked at the folks behind me, all lined up and waiting to pay for their stuff. They were now statues. Their still shoulders collected the falling dust.

I looked back at the new woman. She was frozen too, smiling like the sun. I had the most awesome realization. This was the Muse!!! Right in front of me. I could hear this indecipherable, yet oddly familiar hum emanating from her. Think it clicked in my head, I had heard this same effect, sometimes deep in the writing zone, when the words were just gushing out beyond my control.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Félix-Nicolas_Frillié_-_Kiss_of_the_Muse,_c._1863.jpg
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Félix-Nicolas_Frillié_-_Kiss_of_the_Muse,_c._1863.jpg

This was the source of that hum and she was standing right before me. I had the strange thought to try to capture her, bottle her up somehow and hide her back in my house. There was a loud boom of thunder in the store and a web of lightening broke out across the ceiling. With another boom, a giant appeared behind her in the next aisle.

The first thought that came to mind was Gandalf, because of his long white hair and robes, but the man was black, like deep of night black, so black that it was hard to even make out any features on his face, and he was a giant. I’m guessing probably twelve or thirteen feet tall, at least; his head almost touched the ceiling.

He stood there arms crossed for an awful minute. A chrome scepter, capped with a flashing diamond, was clinched in his left hand, and poised to obliterate me with one smack. Thankfully, there were no words passed between us. He just stood there, staring. Then I passed out.

I woke up back in my chair, a small Dollar General store bag with the candles and candy in it on the desk. It was like waking up from a nightmare. I felt so disoriented and insane. Worst of all, I looked up at the screen and all that you have been reading was already up there. As I reread it, memories of the whole experience came flooding back.

I think I might have gone insane. I need to talk to my wife about this, but I don’t know what she’ll say. Has anyone had an experience with this? Please share with me if you have. Thanks for reading. She exists!

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Next Chapter

Update Post

From Website, Scene From Film The Spy WHo Came In From the Cold,  http://www.samefacts.com/2014/01/everything-else/weekend-film-recommendation-the-spy-who-came-in-from-the-cold/

Hello readers, past, present, future. So this is the obligatory, where have I been post? Here, always here, waiting, curating. First things first, “Interludes” the book I have been blogging on here. A draft is done, curing in the depths of my inner and ever expanding slush pile, but honestly, shall I put it bluntly and tragically, the response has been lukewarm (read nonexistent). No fault of yours dear reader, surely a result of the deluge of quality entertainment which exists in the world. The question remains, what to do?

Forming questions like that, dooms the whole endeavor. Don’t worry about what you are doing, just do it and figure it out later. I think that’s the key. I like blogging though for two reasons, which seem like good enough reason to keep it going i think, first I enjoy reading other people’s blog, and secondly, as this site was always intended this is documenting my evolution as a writer, so though I may fail, hopefully I may clear some way for the next courageous traveller.

Spring as I have mentioned before is not the best time for the reading/writing either. There’s something real bastardly in shutting yourself up with a computer while the sun is shining and life is waiting there to be lived. I will admit though the last week or so of rain, I have relished.

My reading goal for the year is 36 books, three a month. I’m sitting at thirteen books so far. Today I finished John Le Carre’s The Spy Who Came In From the Cold, really enjoyed it. Craft wise I noted the pacing of the chapters, the focusing on sequencing, and big events. I read or heard somewhere, oh god how’s that for citation, that someone, somewhere, thought of a book as like 48ish discrete scenes. Not that the exact number really matters. Just the point that every chapter and scene should have a purpose that moves the reader from one moment to the next. Things should happen.

I’m trying to pad my numbers in the month of May, so if you know any great short Fiction let me know. I currently got The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks and The Sense of An Ending by Julian Barnes on standby. Excited about those, though upon review it is looking a little dark…

So yes, to combat the torture to my subconscious induced by all this great literature, I will be spending my time gardening, childrearing, and hopefully just general adventuring (read washing dishes, mowing the lawn, and trying to figure out how to make home-made pot-stickers).

My garden is all planted up for summer. Some of the highlights are my asparagus bed in year two, lush with a crop (which I cannot enjoy for some devilish reason I can’t enjoy for another year), new strawberry plants that are doing great, got like a dozen different peppers and tomatoes, all going good as seedlings, and a half of dozen Purple Bumble Bees from Baker’s Creek already in the ground, spuds are in ground too. Lemon-balm and Blue Hyssop came back great. Oh and last, but not least, I got sweet peas about eighteen inches high, and a rabbit hasn’t gotten a one.

I am writing too, got to keep that slush pile real rank and moldy. New draft is called Nowhere. Dystopian Western, smashed into a Dune world (Just can’t stop jacking Stephen King). As of today, I wrote a little over 1.3k words, to have it sitting right at 23k words. I liked that, stopping right there on that number. Don’t know why…

So that’s about it, not really, but I gotta keep these dispatches short, in hopes that some poor bastard gets stuck in my loop. Anyway, hope your own artistic endeavors are fruitful. Let me know about that Short Fiction, if you get a chance. Good luck.

Interludes Chapter 19

1024px-Lucas_Cranach_the_Elder_-_The_Garden_of_Eden_-_Google_Art_Project

I laid there behind a tree, waiting. Finally Pete jumped up and started moving around. I made a quick roll behind another tree and crawled on all fours and circled around him, as he came back to check the truck.

He looked in there for a second and popped back out. He slammed his fist against it. “Dammit!” He screamed. He spun around looking for something, best guess was me.

Weapon in hand, everything told me to take Pete out. The legal question left me hesitant though, a sick crippling of civilization, no doubt. I mean even in a complicated justice system like ours, a situation like this would have to fall under a self-defense criteria, but still I had no idea. The way Pete had gone on about oaths and all that I didn’t think it was a good idea to push the situation, though it would have been easy and felt good.

Pete went running this way and that, yelling my name. I resolved to lay there. Hell maybe even take a nap. Let Pete find me, or not, that was what all this was teaching me, acceptance.

As I snuggled against the tree, with acceptance and anxiety brewing in my heart, I began to sort of drift off. Right as I did I felt my wife’s warm hand resting on my hip. It was just a soft bit of warm pressure, which could have been a hundred different things I guess, but somehow in this tentative relaxation I was sure it was her hand. It reminded me that I had a bone to pick with her if I ever made it back to the waking world. Sleeping on duty, now that was a broken oath!

A growling and grunting broke my thoughts. And for a second I was sure I was going to look back and the wolf was going to be there, standing huge and hungry, but the Commander screamed out, “Help!”

I watched as Pete crept back towards the scene, out of the shadows. His face was cold, unmoving. He did not call out to the Commander. He came up from behind and before I could even process what was happening two more shots rang out.
“Sorry sir, sorry sir,” Peter said over the man.

That homicidal bastard! That was it. I was just about to let him have it when I heard a loud engine racing down the road. Pete heard it too and dropped his weapon and started scrambling around the space. I watched him, more afraid then ever. He ran this way and that, and a brand new Humvee came racing towards us.

Pete saw it too. He settled under the back wheel of the idling truck, but just before the back up arrived, he hoped up and went diving against a large chunk of the dead werewolf, rifle and all. I couldn’t believe it as I watched him try to drag the massive slob of beast across himself, with little luck. He ended up with half the things large arm wrapped around his little chest. He comically rolled his head to the side and let his tongue dangle from it.

This guy was a total psycho. I couldn’t wait until backup got here and figured all this out. My mind scrambled with little tidbits I picked up watching true crime melodrama on the television. Couldn’t they do a gun powder test on Pete’s hand to prove he fired the rifle? Wouldn’t they be able to tell by the positioning of the body and the angle of the gun fire that the same someone delivered the death shots to the creature and the Commander? My rational mind pushed back, wouldn’t they also suspect me of playing some role in this, when they rolled up and found me hiding in the woods, which was right about now…

After the one truck it was like a whole ocean of trucks had been unleashed. All sorts of lights and lasers were brought out. All of it created a clubby vibe to the whole thing.

They came right for me. I thought about running, but I’d waited too long. I thought I was all burned out on fear, but having this team, march up on me like that, and snatch me from my hiding spot was the worst. They didn’t even say a word to me. I saw the glint of the syringe, a sharp pinch at my neck, and I was out.

I woke up 5:15, our side, so said the clock on the other side of the room. It was still dark out. There’s that weird yellowy grey haze over everything. I have never felt so sick in my whole life. Different parts of my body seemed to be at war with one another. Blood was drowning my brain. My throat was punching my mouth. My stomach seeped into my heart. I felt both physically weak, but also anxious and unsettled like all hell.

I sat up and projected vomited.

“Oh shit!” My wife screamed, jumping out of bed. “Honey, go to the bathroom!”
I stood up collapsed to the floor. “Oh my god! I’m calling an ambulance.”

She ran from the room, presumably to call. I wondered if I was dying. You know to be honest I was sort of pissed about it. I had always imagined dying as this relatively painless, sort of existential trip thing, almost like a good book. Something that if you just had the right way of looking at it, might even be enjoyable. This was like being sick on prom night.
Britney was at my side, towel under the arm, cup of water in hand, cell phone in the other. She lifted my head up and put the towel under it. “Are you okay? Should I call an ambulance?”

I tried to say something but it came out confused in meaning and speech, a grumble. The fact is I didn’t know what to do. Part of me was deathly sick, but the idea of standing up or being moved seemed like a torture. There was something else. All that that’d happened in the Pine Dust Forgetting Forrest. I was suddenly struck, in this dark chasm of sickness, with the deepest paranoia towards the outside world. Weren’t these ambulances and medical doctors, also clutching syringes, straight jackets, questions, and uncomfortable beds, more over, didn’t these same doctors operate in collusion with the same sort of men with guns and more questions, much like the forces I was confronting in the nether world? Even more, my rolling mind pushed, weren’t there in fact the same sort of baddies out here on this side, that might have the same sorts of interests that the baddies on the other side seemed to exhibit? In other words, fuckery all abound.

“Nooooo,” I grunted.

“What do you mean no? You’re just throw up all over the wall. I’m calling someone.” I saw her enter her code on her phone. I tried to yell at her. My diaphragm was shut down by the pile of warring organs on top of it. I started coughing, bad.

Britney dropped the phone and started patting me on the back. It sort of worked enough I was able to squeak out, “Don’t call!” Don’t call!”

“Austin come on,” she pleaded. “There’s something seriously wrong here. You weren’t this sick last night.”

“Over there,” I coughed out.

“Over there, what?”

“Drugged…”

“Drugged? What the fuck do you mean by that? You need help! I’m calling!”

With all my effort, I stopped her hand, “No!” And then I threw up again.

She called.

My hate for hospitals grows with my age. What’s there to like really? I wake up in one. The room half lit. You can never get full dark in a hospital, I reflect.

Panic and Pain. The concepts fight for supremacy in my mind. What’s happened to me? Am I dying? I try to sit up, and all sort of wires and things keep me down. The more I wake up, the more the urge to throw up increased.

This was no good. I closed my eyes and for the briefest moment I heard the sound of a loud engine. I imagine maybe I was heading down the highway over there. On my way to God knows where. I kept my eyes shut and started to plead with her.

It was fine I’ve had enough. She could have this whole Art thing back. Maybe I would go back to being a cook. I liked being a cook. You’re food is shit, a voice broke in my head.
So I knew she was there, right behind my eyeballs, waiting, watching. What the fuck?

You gonna help me out of this? I ask.

Nope, she answered.

I dropped it at that. I knew better than that by now. Besides the italics were making me nauseous.

I hadn’t rested like that for sometime, so as I woke up more, I started to feel refreshed. Still totally sick, but very awake. I laid with my eyes closed and tried to ignore the sick feeling, and let my mind run through everything that had happened since this all started months ago.

As I laid there and looked it at it from every angle I came to an awful conclusion, I had done this to myself. All this had been brought on by myself, I had to steal a phrase from god knows where, I had courted madness.

Look where it landed me. This was the first time, since my glorious and macabre entrance to the world, that I have ever been laid up in the hospital bed, and under doctor orders. I hated it, like I always knew I would. The stiff white sheets. The cleaning smell mixing and masking the scents of death and decay. The peeping, footsteps, and mumbled voices coming from the hallway.

Hospitals, prison, schools, they all got birthed by the same Momma, with a stern hand, and unquestioning disposition. Loving, of course, oh so loving, as long as you are a good patient, and rest, always rest.

Out of nowhere a nurse burst into the room, green scrubs. Like an asshole, I closed my eyes and tried to play dead. She recognized something was off immediately and came and put a hand on my shoulder. “Mr. McMulin?” She said softly. “Mr. McMulin, are you awake?”

I tried to keep my eyes shut, as if not confirming this whole situation with another human being, would stop it all from being real. I felt my face starting to flush with embarrassment, and so I finally let my eyelids open and gave a little yes.

“Oh that’s great Mr. McMulin. My name is Jennifer I’m going to be you’re nurse here for the rest of the night. Your wife, Britney, left a couple hours ago, to be with the kids at home, when they wake up; you gave everybody a little scare there, but don’t worry.” I was a cascading waterfall of worry. I was stuck until morning, in the care of Jennifer. “All your vitals are stable, and frankly we don’t quite know what happened with you there. We got fluids pumping in, and a CAT scan planned for tomorrow, so all we need you to do is try and get some rest, all right? You got a bucket there beside you if feel like you’re going to throw up. And I’ll be in regularly to check on you. You got the button, right here, if you feel the slightest bit sick, okay? Anything else I can do for you, let me know, okay?”
A ride home? A gun? A psychiatrist? “Maybe another pillow?” She asked. “You got a full water there, Britney got that before she left.”

I couldn’t say anything, and just shook my head.

“Okay,” she said. “I’m going to make a note you’re up. I’ll be backing bugging you a couple more times here shortly, make sure everything’s okay, now that you are up; that’s a great sign Mr. McMulin. But please don’t try to do too much, just lay there and relax; i’ll do the rest”

The silence spread out between us like a canyon. My mind tried to figure out a way to express the real sort of help I needed. What I needed was like a pot of coffee, a psychiatrist, maybe a ghostbuster and voodoo doctor too, just to be safe. In other words, I didn’t think a couple bags of fluid and some ibuprofen was going to take care of this one. All I could do was give her a creepy half smile as a form of agreement. It seemed good enough for her, and she walked back out the door.

Second the door shut I realized how desperate I was. Panicked and full of energy it occurred to me that I really needed to go back to sleep and make sure everything was okay over there. I mean I took the fact I was still alive out here, as a good sign, but not knowing what was going on over there was scary.

I tried to do some breathing exercises, but that seemed to flame the nausea. The greatest worry was how did I return to the Pine Dust Forgetting Forrest? That was the only reasonable thing to do. If I could get there, get some of that dust, and just forget this whole mess, I think I would be all right.

All around me stood the machines and monitors, screen and colors, electronic testaments to the fact that something was seriously wrong with me and therefore the world. Each person, Doctor and Nurse was one strutting symbol of cognitive dissonance. The Doctor is the last manifestation of the Daddy-myth, the God myth, that there’s is someone out there who knows better, who can fix shit, and it’s all a scam.

I knew it was dumb, but escape was the only option. I searched around for clothes. I found none and couldn’t help but feel a pang of anger towards my wife. I had on weird paper underwear and gown. Usually a normal sense of shame wouldn’t have allowed me out in such an outfit, but the repulsiveness of the affair had changed my whole opinion of normalcy.

I walked past two cleaning type staff, who didn’t even look at me. I tiptoed past the nurses’ station. There was only one woman sitting there, older and sort of grouchy looking. She gave me a solid look over, but just put her head back down, and I walked out the door. There was no one in the lobby, and so I stood alone, waiting for the elevator to come up.

There was a mirror there. I looked at myself. I was so thin. I remember when I used to be chubby; I think I looked better that way really. It was all so normal, except the gown and the golfball sized whelp on my forehead.

I found myself in a lobby and there was a guy running the information desk. He wasn’t looking my way, but better sense told me he might speak up if I just walked out the front door. I turned the other way and found a cafeteria that was totally empty, except one person working the cafeteria. She saw me immediately but again there was no sign of distress from her. I asked for a glass of water, and she handed me an empty cup. I filled it up and chugged it down and took a seat.

I knew I needed to get out of there quick. But that awful feeling of sickness was creeping badk, so I needed break. I spied another door outside, to a patio area, with benches and things. Everything had been so easy up to this point. I felt like I could feel the fresh air just on the other side. I waited for the cafeteria lady to turn around for a second, and then very carefully, I made a beeline for the door and was out.

It was surprisingly cold, the first hint of winter was in the air. Of course, I started panicking. What was I doing leaving like this? They would contact my wife; she would be freaking out. Where was I going? I had no money, no license, no transportation? Fuck, no clothes! Only thing I could do was run and that’s what I did.

I scanned the horizon, for the most open, woodiest thing I could see. I was drawn to the South. An under appreciated side of my fair city, I felt it was the safest and shortest distance to an isolated rural area, a much weaker version of the Green Dust Forgetting Forrest of the netherworld.

I don’t know about you, but I remember running with abandon as a kid. Just really huffing it sometimes, you know goofing around on the playground or running in the back yard playing some silly game, and that animalistic urge to run just sort of takes over, when you can run like the wind. I ran like that. I couldn’t feel anything. I wasn’t anything.

I can’t imagine what I looked like to any one who may have caught a glimpse of my five eleven, two hundred pound me, in a hospital gown, sprinting down the sidewalk. No one stopped though. No one tried to stop me either. I couldn’t even see them.

I ran on to some train tracks. Some deep instinct told me to run along it. It quickly took me right out of town, next to a river, which I decided to follow south.

 

 

Snippets #53

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sethos_I_01.jpg

Herodotus- The History

Book 2. 141-42

And as he made his lament, sleep came upon him, and in his vision there seemed to him that the god stood over him and bade him be of good heart: “You will suffer nothing untoward if you confront the Arabian host; for I will send you allies.” He trusted in this dream, and , taking with him such of the Egyptians as would follow him, he pitched his camp in Pelusium, for that was where the enemy were to invade. There followed him not one of the warriors, but the shopkeepers and handworkers and fellows from the marketplace. But when their enemies came, there spread out against, at nightfall, field mice, which gnawed their quivers through, and through, too, the bows themselves and the handles of their shields, so that on the next day they fled, defenseless, and many of them fell. So nowadays this king stands there, in stone, in the temple of Hephaestus, in his hand he holds a mouse, and he speaks these words through the inscription that is there: “Look on me, all of you, and be pious.”(193)

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Interludes Chapter 18

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We thought we had ditched the wolf. Michael was doing an exceptional job driving, until he smashed the front tire into a large boulder. The explosion was awful and sent the truck hurtling into the ditch. Everything went blank for a second, a different blank then the empty space though, just nothing. Then I was being pulled out and tossed against the side of the truck.

“Goddammit,” Commander Daniels screamed at his men crowding around the idling truck. “Fucking greenhorn limb-dicks! Keep the Humvee on the fucking road, that’s all you had to do.

“I’m sorry Sir,” Michael said. “B-road, that rock came out of nowhere. Fucking huge, don’t know how maintenance missed it.”

“Don’t know how you missed it.” The Commander countered. “Nah it’s fine, get that spare on there, move it! It could be on us in a second. One of you, what’s your names again soldiers?”

“Smith,” said Howdy.
“Hopsin,” said Shaky legs.

“Smith,” the Commander said, “help Michael here change the tire. Watch your six. First sign of that motherfucker you pound the vehicle with your weapon, you understand that? Just pound, and you don’t fucking leave Michael’s side until the tire is fucking changed, got it?”

“Yessir,” Smith said.

“Good boy,” the Commander said. “You’re all good boys. Now get under there and fix that tire.” The two men grabbed the tire and jack off the back and went diving under the front of Humvee. “Hopsin grab that bastard and toss him back in and take the wheel.” Hopsin hesitated for a minute, but then snatched me up and threw me in. There was more rumbling and yelling outside. Commander and Hopsin jumped back in.

The Commander was busy in the passenger seat, checking his weapon, ammo, and every other thing he could think of to touch or check. “Men, we’re gonna sit tight, all right? Hopsin, that thing shows up I want you to take defensive position at the door, understand? It gets close enough you’re gonna hop back in and we’re going to make a go for it, no matter what state were in. This thing can roll on three for a while.”

Hopsin didn’t say anything, but the Commander smashed a button on his dash and began speaking. “Headquarters, CO of Goon Squad, with an update.”

“Go ahead Goon Squad.”

“Sir, the mission remains critical. I repeat critical. Heavy Losses. Four units remain. Package Two is secure.”

“Copy that Goon Squad. Repeat. Package Two is secure.”

“That’s correct headquarters. Package two is secure.”

“And Package One, Commander?”

“Still ambulatory.”

“Visual?”

“Negative, headquarters.”

“Proceed to repair front tire and head to rove commander and wait for relief.”

“ETA on that relief there headquarters?”

“42 mins, hold tight.”

The Commander slammed the button. “You hear that shit, Hopsin? Hold tight. You remember that when you’re back at the bunk tonight. Sipping on a cold one, acting tough with the other squads. When the shit’s really thick, all you’re gonna get is a hold tight–” A loud banging came from the front side of the vehicle.

“Motherfucker,” the Commander said. “Hopsin get out here and see what he’s banging about.”

It was all muffled voices. The Commander shifted around obviously irritated, trying to get an eye around the vehicle. It was still too dark to see, especially now that everything was covered in dirt and blood. “Fucking unbelievable.”

Hopsin ripped the door open and dove in. “Smith has eyes on it. A flicker–”

“A flicker?” the Commander interrupted. “What the fuck does that mean? Did you see anything Hopsin?”

“No sir.”

“How far are they on the tire.”

“The got the old one off.”

“Get out there and hold that fucking door. Tell them to move fast, keep their fingers off the trigger, hop back in, when they’re done, or before, you got me?”

“I got you Sir,” Hopsin said.

“You’ll take the wheel Hopsin?” He asked again, unsure for some reason.

Hopsin looked like he wanted to say no, but he grimaced, nodded, and jumped back out of the truck. He kept the door open and we could hear him barking orders at the other. “Hurry up!” His head came back in the door. “Smith says he’s seen the flicker again?”

“What the fuck is a flicker?!” The Commander roared. Before Hopsin could explain the deepest, bluest, wolf howl ever filled the area. It sounded like it was right on top of us, and everyone went scrambling down. Hopsin went bolting from the door, and I could hear the two at the tire as they crawled underneath the front of the truck.

The first howl was so long, it rang slicing through the stale morning air, bouncing off all the trees. Worn out by fright at this point, and frankly just a little sick of running, I took the whole thing in with a new coldness.

The way I saw it the monster must be getting full after all that. And I don’t know about you, but if I do a lot of running or hard work I really start to lose my appetite. Now this thing had just run ten miles or so. It had been running around all night for that matter, chopping trees and all that, supernatural hell beast or not, it had to be getting tired.

The howls kept coming. The Commander began hopping up and down from his open roof to the floor. The whole time his giant rifle was pointed right in my direction. Up and down. Up and down. He mumbled to himself. “Spooky shit. Should never have signed on for this. Fuck the money. Noting worth this shit.” Stuff like that.

Everything went real quiet for a second. The Commander got stuck on a loop of oh shits. I hugged the bottom of the Humvee, and appreciated having some level of protection in its steel chambers. I couldn’t see the wolf but I felt him in a flood of fear and dread. Rifle fire erupted and it sent the commander into a spasm of rage. He leapt from his seat on to the roof and began firing. Hot, spent shells came pouring back down the hole.

The chaos lasted for a minute or two, and then the commander came crashing back into the vehicle and gripped the floor. The firing stopped a moment later, and a low rumble began from behind the vehicle. We could hear it breathing, raspy, tired, angry.

Like I said, I have to admit I am a bit confused by my own lack of hysterics at this point. Maybe it was the drug roller coaster? I felt the death and horror of the creature pressing all around me, but at the same time I felt a sort of detachment I can’t really explain. I think it has to do with a realization which was settling in, that even if I escaped one torture, say the Muse, that another torture, the Wolf awaited. After that men with guns, and after that, well isn’t that enough?

The Commander was an endless rap of contradictions. “I’ll kill the fucking thing. We’re dead. Ill rip its fucking eyeballs out and skull fuck its head. I just want to go back to Laura. Fucking tear his throat out when he gets to me!”

He dove into the back seat. “Listen man,” he whispered. “We’re in this together now. You understand? We got to work together. Here.” He handed me a shiny pistol. My first instinct was to hand it back. I’m not overly very familiar with guns, and I figured the other fellas hadn’t down too well in any case, and they had giant rifles. Another howl squashed any idea of giving it back though.

“Here’s an extra magazine,” he said. “You know how to use that thing?”

“Sort of,” I said.

“Simple cock it, and let it rip. There’s a release on the left side there. Drop it when you’re out, slap the other one it. If you get the chance, have at it. I can’t believe this bullshit.”

“Neither can I,” I said.

A random burst of rifle fire made us both dive back down. “Fuck this shit,” the Commander moaned. “I make it out of this, I’m done Lord. I promise no more of this spooky shit, I swear. I knew I was wrong for this. Dammit! I’ll kill this fucking thing first for what he did to my men!” He hopped back to his seat and started looking out the window. “You see that fucking thing?”

“No,” I said, head planted firmly against the floor.

“Fucking impossible,” the Commander said. “Thing’s a good damn shadow. Moves fast you know, like a goddamn ballerina. Fuck this shit! I won’t let it get me like this, cowering in the rig. Fuck this. I can’t let my men die like this.” He made a move for the door.

“Wait!” I screamed. “Don’t go out there! It’ll kill you for sure. Maybe it’s done, who knows?”

“Damn shameful,” he said. “ I know you’re just a civi, not built for this work. But damn that is a cowardly worldview–”

“Hold on, how long until backup gets here?”

He looked at his watch. “About thirty minutes, if that ETA is still solid.”

That seemed like an impossibility. It had only been ten minutes. It’d felt like a lifetime.
“Nope,” the Commander said. “Can’t do it man. Goon squad is ride or die. Good luck to you sir. Hold tight!” He jumped from the door and I heard him scuffle off.

I was all alone. Things were really quiet. The pressure and anxiety, finally started to come, especially the longer I stayed in the truck. I didn’t hear any shooting though and the time just kept ticking by. I thought about all options. Wait here for backup to arrive or take my chances running in the woods. The more I thought about it running sounded like the best option. Hopefully I could run, hide, and find somewhere to sleep, and wake up back on the other side.

I got up off the floor and crawled into the Commanders spot to take a look around. There was nothing, just dark early morning forest. It all looked so serene and peaceful, waiting for pleasant campers with picnic baskets and tents. Maybe the thing had given up?

I waited for a time, just sort of bummed out and apathetic. I even tried to fall asleep, slip through the space, back to my time, but it didn’t work. I was stuck over there it seemed, for now.

I decided to make a run for it. Carefully I opened the door, and sort of slide through the small gap like slime, and laid on the ground. I got sight of one man, torn in two laying on the other side of the vehicle, sort of resembled Howdy. His two halves were separated by a clear view of the forest and I saw no sign of anyone else.

I crawled around to the other side and everything seemed clear. I crouched there for a while listening for the slightest sound. There was nothing and so I grit my teeth and went booking it for the forest.

The wolf tackled me like a linebacker. I hit the ground with a mechanical force. A series of cracks and pops from my body told me parts, important parts, had just been broken. The wolf flipped me over, sniffed and howled right in my face.

I kept my eyes closed though, so all I could sense was its hard hands working over my face. Hot drool dripped and sizzled on my skin, with painful acidity. I screamed and one of its wretched claws was shoved into my lips, bashing my gums, in an attempt to shush me. “Stopppppp,” it ordered.

I tried to shake my head free, but it held on even tighter, seizing and slicing into my jaw. “Stoopppp, nowwwww,” it ordered. “Where man gun?”

I tried to scream again, but now I couldn’t even open my mouth. “Where man gun?” It asked again.

It started to become difficult to breathe. Panic forced my eyes open. I felt so small with this thing straddling me. It’s large head, hair slicked back and caked in gore, swung from left to right as it smelled the air. Everything was so large and lean on the creature. It was like having a truckload of concrete sitting on top of you. There was nothing I could do.

“Get off him!” A voice screamed. The thing jumped up and spun around. I didn’t wait a second, but scrambled behind a tree to watch.

The Commander pointed his rifle at the wolf, a grenade in his other hand. “Look at you! You’re one ugly bastard, aren’t you?”

The wolf stood there, huffing and buffing. His breathing was raspy and gurgling, and his belly hung distended. He had over eaten. He didn’t seem at all afraid of the rifle though.

“Get on the fucking ground!” The Commander ordered. “Now!”

The thing just stood there grunting, staring right at the Captain. “Get the fuck down now!” The Commander yelled. But again there was no movement. “I’m not going tell you again, get down!”
The Beast took one step and the Commander let off with a round of shots. They tore through the thing with a black grey burst, but it all sucked right back into it on reverse.
The Commander saw that and threw his weapon, pulled the pin on the grenade and charged the creature.

The wolf took a giant leap and came down on him hard. It sounded like a large branch being snapped in half. The creature was all over him. The were growls and snarls mixed with the Commanders screams. I realized this was the time to run, but right as I was about to break off, there was large explosion and burst of reddish blackness which clouded the scene. Through it, I saw Pete coming up deep from the woods and he held a rifle.

Pete crawled up on the two of them quietly. Besides the wooden leg which remained extended back, he moved like a cat, stalking his prey. You could tell he was fascinated by seeing the wolf feeding in this state. His eyes bulged from his head, and he licked his lips.

I should have ran, I recognize that in hindsight. The whole thing played out like a movie. The thing that was the Wolf and Lt. Daniels swirled like a tornado on the spot, slowly reassembling into something like the wolf and sections of the commander.

Pete crept up on the monstrosity as it continued to feed. I couldn’t believe it but right as he got close he raised his weapon like he was going to shoot the wolf. I won’t lie, after everything he had put me through, I felt no compulsion to save him.

He crept up so slow and when he was right up on it he took aim, and let loose with his rifle. Now from the way he shot I could tell he didn’t have very much experience with shooting modern weapons. He got stuck squeezing the automatic and a dozen or more shots tore recently and currently reassembling wolf right in half, from the chest up. The force also knocked Pete down (the peg leg didn’t help) and left him shooting into the air.

The wolf made the most awful scream and was now floating in two parts. The top half went lunging for Pete. The bottom half tried to follow it, and do that coagulating cloud thing, but the Commander sat up, head half ripped off and gripped on to the legs.

Pete was able to stop firing right as the thing fell and snatched on to his own leg. He quickly took aim and start blasting the thing in the face. Shot went everywhere though. The monster head exploded, but the bullets continued on right through the top half of the monster, and into the Commander himself. Pete fused with the powerful rifle and just kept firing.

The thing finally let got of Pete’s leg and tried to roll back to its own legs, but was chopped down in the endless stream of fire. The monster kept rolling through it but finally stopped, right as the rifle ran out. Pete kept the rifle pointed at the creature for a minute. Frozen. Like gravity finally turned on the different bubbles of wolf went falling to the ground, like black water colors, splattered on a flat canvas, with little chunks, and spiky patches here and there.

I thought about running again. Didn’t seem to be much of a threat now that the wolf was splattered. I realized I was gripping the pistol in my hand. It had warmed in the mean time. I wondered if Pete had another magazine and would come hunting me down, the broken Fire Attender Oath and all that.
I thought about all the walking, and the path we had taken from the Pine Forgetting Forrest, to when I met up with Pete. I wondered if I could find my way back. I looked around the large forest, as an example, and realized I was totally lost. There was nowhere to run. More than anything, I wondered, where was that fucking Muse?

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Interludes Chapter 17

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Besides the fact I was going to be the main dish, dinner was smelling wonderful. The thing foraged some wild onions and garlic, which smoldered in a pile next to me. It had bound my arms and legs with some wild grasses and placed me on his makeshift rack.

He brought back another bundle of herbs and tossed them on the fire. The inconsiderate monster left my face right in the path of the smoke. Though it smelled delicious, it was also making it hard to think, and even harder to breathe.

Pete grabbed the back of my neck and started ranting in my ear. “Not such a powerful wizard now, are you? Now just think, had you gone willingly, this probably would have all been over by now.”

“Fuck you,” I muttered through a mouth-full.

“You filthy pig,” Pete said. “You know what wizard! I could probably distract him until administration got here–and really I don’t know what’s taking them so long–but I don’t think I’ll do that. Not after what you did to me.”

I tried cursing him but that only made things worse. Pete was back to old man Pete and he sort of chuckled as I screamed. “Calm down wizard, calm down. All that fussing and fighting isn’t going to help you anyway. You know what though you should hope that he gets to you before they do, violating the Ritual of the Sacred Fire, is a grievous offense. I can only imagine how Administration would handle you.” He let go of my neck and as he turned to walk away his peg leg kicked a pile of hot ash in my face.

“Sir,” Pete called. “Excuse me Sir. Really ah you must speed this up, at once. The Administrators will be here any moment and I would hate to see you run into some trouble with them.” Howl. “Yes, I understand Sir, take as much time as you want, forgive me. I just want this to meet an end favorable to all parties, that’s all.” Howl. “Fine Sir, fine Sir. No reason to get short with me. I tell you Administrators–” There was a loud snapping sound of a large tree being broke at its base. Out of nowhere, the roar of a large engine was heard behind us.

Pete looked around the scene, stupefied. “Please Sir, stop this now. Take this man and run. I am sure you could enjoy him as is, no real need to roast right?”

The Wolf howled in response. “Please Sir,” Pete begged, “they will hurt you Sir. You must run now. I promise I will bring you another in his place!”

A loud air horn filled the woods. “Oh God Sir,” Pete cried. “Please, now, go. They are almost here!”

The wolf continued to sit on the large tree next to his wood pile. He sniffed the air, searching for the approaching men. A long strip of spittle meandered down to the ground.

I started to feel a bit of relief, until the wolf hopped up and came for me.He examined me for a second, and then put me back on the rack belly side up. Not quite done I guess.

The heat exploded on my back, and then went icy cold, as I felt all my skin tightening to the fire. I realized instantly that the wolf must be some sort of Chef, because he allowed the fire to die down enough, that he was going to cook me low and slow. A perfect option for such a gamey animal like a human being.

It wasn’t low enough though and I began screaming out in agony. I stopped screaming when I was blasted by a large spotlight from the hill above where we were standing. I tried to jerk my head this way and that, but with all the binding and the rack, all I could do was make out the shadows of Pete and the Wolf as they scrambled around the campsite.

“Run,” Pete urged. “Please run, dammit friend, they are here. It’s too late. I’m sorry old boy, but I can’t stick around for this.” I heard the rapid, thud, thud, thud, that told me he went running for the forest.

All I could do is close my eyes and listen as the wolf began marching around. There was a pop and a blinding flash, when I opened my eyes again he was gone, and the only thing lightening the space was the dying fire. I tried to wiggle and move, and get out off the restraints but they were on so tight. I even tried to bite with my teeth but it was pointless. I was a roasting duck.

An ear piercing tone filled my head, and a voice rebounded off the trees. “Attention, Creature of the Night, you’re in violation of Administration Code 822. 822 establishes that no magical creature shall exit their designated area. You are also in violation of Code 966. 966 establishes that no magical creature shall have any contact with other extra-dimensional entities. Submit now or face lethal force.”

The wolf let out a hawkish screech as a response. I didn’t need to be some sort wolf whisperer to translate that it meant bring it on. An object went whistling through the air, and made a hard thunk as it sank into a tree. A pin prick of heat exploded on my leg and I look down to see a feathered dart. A warm, pleasurable tingle emanated from the spot and I watched everything that happened through an enveloping narcotic fog.

I realized that the announcement and the flash had obviously been a distraction, because now a thousand laser beams started cross sectioning the world.

I finally found him again, laying against the tree trunk, taking cover. His claws had dug deep into the ground. His muscles rippled across its neck and back. It looked like his whole body was eating the dirt, merging into it. It was clear he was preparing a counter attack for the approaching men.

The smoke in my eyes reminded me that I was dangling over a roasting bed. In the dope haze, I reflected that the drug they hit me with must be quite strong, since I no longer felt any sensation of hot or cold. This was alarming even in my fractured state. I tried to yell again, but choked on all the stuffing.

Everything was in slow motion, like a movie. I watched the wolf’s skin and muscles ripple, covered with dirt, as the soldiers began to surround him. Even in the thick dope fog, I saw it was a horrible idea, and exactly what the wolf wanted. Digging into the ground, made getting a shot of him impossible. I could feel him growling through the ground and up the sticks that I was roasting on.

The armed men looked like any militarized tactical force you may have seen on the news, or maybe even rolling down you’re street. All black clothes and helmets. They were special only in that they wore silver insignias on their chest body-armor, looked like an grey octagon with a chrome snake crawling through it, but it was hard to make out in the dark and in the dope.

They were about twelve feet out on the wolf and they stopped like someone has paused the game. I tried to force myself to think. I really needed to get down from this fire. I could smell myself roasting and I was about to throw up.

Three men broke off of the group and approached the wolf. One of the men put a dot right on the hump of its back, which was the only thing not covered in dirt, looked like a boulder resting against the tree. I could tell they were confused. I tried to yell out to the guys, showing them with my eyes and all that, where is he is at, but they were ignoring me, just looking like assholes, right at the ground.

A giant shadowy tentacle came shooting out of the dirt. It latched on to one of the men’s ankles and pulled him down. One of the other two fired, but it it ricocheted of the tree and went flying back into a section of men encircling the mess, causing them to dive to the ground. Like an octopus the wolf snatched another man and dove back in the dirt. All hell breaks lose. The last guy began firing chaotically screaming for help. Horrible ripping and dying sounds came from the wolf’s hole, and the perimeter of men exploded with confusion.

It was strange watching the men switch from approaching geared up and organized, to trapped and unprepared. Men took off their helmets, screaming at each other directly. Half the group was ordered forward to try to retrieve the wounded men, but then stopped. They all had their hands to their helmets and arguing with whoever was giving them orders. They looked visibly frustrated shaking their heads, raising their hands, pointing at the rippling dirt pile. The muffled tears and screams stopped.

I passed out for a second, into that torturous purgatory of blankness she liked to put me in, way back in my running days. It’s even worse now though, because its empty silence allows my mind to run clear. I know that I am in deep, deep trouble. I’m mad at my wife. I want to yell for her, but of course that is an entirely unattainable goal.

Honestly, in this horrible uncanny situation how can I be pissed at her? There are no excuses though, that’s my issue. How could she have fallen asleep? I was sure that was what happened. She saw the look of fear and dread in my eyes. She had read all this. She had seen the change. She knew.

The sound of some demonic woodchopper being fired up brought me back to LaLa-Land. Still the same slow-motion haze though. All nastiness had exploded. The main fire had been tossed, amber piles of it were scattered everywhere, a body smoldered next to me, another dripped empaled on a large limb.

I realized they’ve made the always important to decision, to switch to real bullets, which are bouncing off of and tearing through the woods around me. The bullets whip by and I have the terrible suspicion I have been shot, and just can’t know for sure because I am half-cooked (in more way than one).

I look around trying to find the monster, but his hulking mass is gone from the ground. It looked like someone has emptied out a truck load of pumpkin guts in its place. The perimeter had been scattered. Six men huddled in a group on the other side of the fire.
I started groaning. They looked at me for a second but went back to their conversation.

“We won’t make it thirty minutes for reinforcements.”

“Boss says wait, we wait.”

“With this fucking thing out here, are you serious?”

“They know what it is. They say wait; we wait.”

“Bullshit.”

“Watch it soldier. You knew what “Goon Squad” was all about before you signed up. You knew the risks.”

“Tell that to those guys,” the man said, gesturing towards the fire and the tree.

I started to jerk around. Not giving a damn if I fell right into the fire. Better that and roll away and die, then jut slow bake my way there like this.

“What should we do about him Sir?” Another man asked.

“Leave him be for all I care.”

“Nah better pull him off there, level three priority.”

“Level 3 priority, bullshit.”

“That’s enough Adams!” A man yelled. “One more word out of you and I will have you removed and stripped. Brown and Mueller get him down now!”

The men used the wild grass binding to pick me up like I was nothing. They set me down on the ground and another man produced a large knife and cut me free.

“Give this guy some fucking pants would ya,” the man said. Then he was in my face, smiling. “Hello Sir. I am Lt. Daniels. You have a bit of explaining to do.”

A man tossed a pair of pants in my face. I tried to grab them, but it was like moving through honey.

“Ah shit,” Daniels said, “we hit him with the sleepy juice. Fucking Christ boys, we sure fucked this one up. Someone help him get his fucking pants on and let’s hit him with the epi-pen before we lose him too.”

The rolled me over jabbed me in the thigh and went back to ignoring me. I laid there eyes closed, trying to catch my breath. They talked like I wasn’t there.

“I don’t think that thing is done,” one man said. “He hunted the men that ran. Alvarez, Johnson, I saw those two booking it like that, goddamn fools!”

Guy beside him chimed in. “Yeah, I saw those two, Stanley and Drop Dick too, but I didn’t know half the guys–”Rowdy Squad” substitutes–”

“That’s fucking right,” Cpt. Daniels said, “knew we were dicked when I saw that. Fucking guys going on sabbatical. I tell you this shit always happens when the Captain calls his down-time.”

“What are we going to do if it comes back?” One of them redirected.

“We’re not going to be here boys,” Daniels said. “Pack all this shit up, we’ll circle the area, try to get eyes on that fucking thing. Wait for reinforcements to get in here and clean this shit up. I’m not dealing with this mess.”

There was a rustle in the bush which set all the men to their weapons. “Grab the level three, now!” Daniels yelled. Two of the large men came and grabbed me by my arms-pits and dragged me to a gurgling Humvee.

Two men clutched their weapons in the back of the vehicle. I was shoved in between them. “Howdy,” one said.

Daniels popped his head in. “Keep on eye on this one boys.”

“Yes Sir,” the men said in unison.

There was round of rifle fire. Daniels ducked his head back out the door and slammed it shut.

One of the guys began bouncing his legs like crazy.

“Calm down Jack,” the other one said. “We’re riding with the Captain himself. Ain’t no way that thing is gonna get the Captain.”

“Fuck that you redneck,” said wild legs. “You see what that fucking thing did to them? Killed half the goddamn squad we need to go, now!” There was more firing, and then a large explosion.

“Fuck this,” wild legs said. “I’m getting us out of here.” He went to open the door.
Howdy cocked his weapon and shoved it in the man’s ribs. “Stay right where you’re at their Jack. Slowly, get your hand off the door there. No big deal right, calm down. No one saw nothing. You know that sort of talk is insubordination. Sector 9’s the last place you’d want to go AWOL anyway right? Look at all those bastards that ran tonight? I bet they all got picked off, one by one.”

There was a howl, and the front doors were ripped open. Captain Daniels dove in the passengers seat. An awful chunk was missing from his forearm, but he showed no signs of awareness of that fact. A young looking soldier fell into the driver’s seat. His faced was caked with blood. Daniels took a canteen from the floor and poured it on his face, with his other dirt and block soaked hand he tried to wipe the driver’s face off and then set him back up. “Drive,” he ordered the man.

The driver tried to wipe the gore from his face with his sleeve, but it was a disgusting mess too. He snatched the bottle from the Captain’s hands and poured it on his face again. This time using a semi-clean thumb to scrape the gunk off with one hand. Then he hit the gas, and the truck went peeling off.

The howl was louder than ever. We had enraged the thing now, I was sure of that. He would love the chase too. I felt like a can of sardines, just waiting to be liberated.

“This shit,” Daniels screamed. “I tell you, not worth the pay boys, not worth the fucking pay. A goddamn werewolf can you believe that?” He whacked the driver with the back of his hands. “What’s you’re name son?”

“Michael,” the driver said.

“Did a damn good job Michael,” Daniels said. “Got us out of there. We were fucked.”

“Yes, sir,” Michael said. You could tell he was barely listening. His eyes kept on a relay from the road to his mirrors. Road to the mirrors.

“Yep, you seen some shit tonight boys,” Daniels said. “I’ve only seen one other wolf, myself, that was right when I started with Goon Squad. Was an abominable snowman type son of a bitch. Found him high in mountains of Sector 10. Fucking no one knew how they got there. That’s the real son of a bitch of this whole situation. Administration doesn’t know shit. Tell you nothing can move between sectors without their gates, but then shit like that happens. Or shit like this asshole back here?”

It took me an extra moment to realize he was referring to me. “No offense,” Daniels said, turning around to face me. “I bet this bastard’s got no clue what’s going on. Look at him boys?”

Howdy and shaky legs began to look at me very closely. “Yep,” Daniels said, “these levels 3s are in a state of shock you see. Being torn between the two worlds. Can you believe this asshole is back laying under his blanky, on his comfy bed, while we’re out here dealing with this shit? Where you from man?”

I tried to talk, but the word weren’t coming out. These new revelations shocked me. I tried to speak, but it just came out as an incoherent mumble. “See that shit,” Daniels said. “Fucker can’t speak.”

With two quick movement, the captain popped the latched of his ceiling and tossed the section off. He went blasting up the new hole and it looked like he was going to fly out to. “Yep, think we ditched her boys. Lucky bastards. I don’t see any sign of that thing–not that it’s the easiest goddamn thing to see.”

He flopped back into his seat. “Keep that thing floored Michael. I tell you went to stop.” Daniels turned back to me. “Now listen here you sorry bastard, don’t you go sneaking off on me now, you understand? Not til backup arrives and you get debriefed. Explain everything that happened out here, you understand? We are going to ride this thing out together, right?”

I had no clue what he was talking about, but I nodded in assent.

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Interludes Chapter 16

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I wake up and the door had been blasted to pieces. Large sections are scattered throughout the cabin. I saw the fire in the distance, and the werewolf standing next to it. It looked nothing like what I thought it would. Not really a wolf or a man to be honest. More like a lithe shadow with claws, and a gigantic, bulbous, cancerous porcupine strapped to its back. Its hands dangled, reaching to the ground.

I realized instantly that my “grab the neck and control the head” was a no go. There was no sign of Pete too. I couldn’t help but wish the wolf got him and maybe it was over.

I found the tablet back on the stand. The screen was shattered but it started up. I crept to a corner with it held to my chest so no one would see the light. I took a couple quick peeks. No picture, no apps, just a symbol. It was a pole with a globe on top made of perfect interlocking spheres. I only looked at it for a second, before the wolf started marching around, and I set it down.

It was all growls and snorts. I knew I needed to do something, but honestly I was too scared to move. Pete’s voice startled me as he spoke right outside the cabin. “Oh yes Sir, he must have escaped, huh? Perhaps you could round the perimeter and try to find him? I know you must be starving at this point?” There was a howl in response.

“He was a powerful wizard, portly too, so he must have been extremely wealthy in his world, some sort of Lord, I imagine.” More growls and grunts. “I hope you realize Sir that I made every attempt to fulfill my end of the bargain. Now, of course, I realize I have failed in delivery, and for that I am prepared to make whatever amends you see fit. I still have a number of good appendages, but I hope and sense that some rapport has developed between us, and I wonder if a new deal couldn’t be made?”

Grunts, snorts, ending upbeat, sort of sounded like an approval. “Well, then my idea is this. Let me met with the Administrators when they arrive. I will explain to them that the man I met was a Technician from Earth, that he went mad and pressed the button, and that you showed up busted down the door and took him away. Now they will be shocked by the violation of protocol and be doubly surprised that everything I had told them about the wolf was true; I would love to see their reactions to that!”

The sneaky little bastard, I wanted to come out of hiding and just pummel him, but my own sense of self preservation wouldn’t allow it. Instead I just listened to him as he went on. “Now Sir once I wrap everything up with Administration, which really could arrive any moment, and then my people, I will come back and met you. We can agree on some sort of signal, I could leave here at this cabin, perhaps a marking on one of these trees? Then I could meet you back here, after procuring a suitable replacement, and I don’t want be to crass here but I think I can guarantee the finest substitute; my people have no idea of this sort of thing; they will be totally unaware.”

In the little weasel’s monologue I spied my small hammer on the other side of the room. I crawled across the floor and grabbed it. It wasn’t much, but it was all I had. Maybe it wouldn’t do anything to the monster, but I bet it could take a chunk out of that little maniac.

“Now Sir,” Pete said, “I have an admission here that I don’t dare hide any longer. I hope this is a sign of how much I respect you. I have now violated the Ritual of The Sacred Fire. I have been interrupted and ruined by this wizard. I have no idea what sort of punishment will be dealt out to me. Complete abandonment would mean death, that is explicit. But seeing as how I am still here, and the fire was obviously broken, by the wizard, then there seems no real way I can be seen at fault, right?”

There were more grunts and some shuffling. I held as fast as I could to the door. The thing’s awful shadow passed across it. I heard the sound of running, and almost wet myself in fear at the thought it was coming back to check the cabin. The steps got quieter and further away. I waited for some time in this skin bubbling quiet. I tried to wake myself up, but there was nothing happening there. That reality was separated by a giant deadly glacier.

My wife feel asleep. I knew that. She could fall asleep so fast. I hadn’t slept good in days, this could be the deep one I knew. Out of nowhere Pete’s airy whistle broke in over my thoughts. It almost sounded like he whistling Yankee-Doodle. That drove me nuts, like he was just waiting on the bus or something. He started walking around as he whistled and I watched as his shadow grabbed another log and tossed it on the fire. He was so calm now. I started to think maybe the wolf had listened to him.

I was just about to jump him and give him a good thrashing, when I heard the sound of its pounding steps coming back. It was hacking and growling like it was really gassed.
“My Lord,” Pete cried. “What have you done? You sentimental beast, dinner? I told you, you really must go. Administration will be here any moment…Really I don’t know what is taking them so long.” There was grunts and whines from the thing.

“Oh dammit, listen let me check the cabin for him, one last time. But if he ins’t there you have to go, do you understand? I couldn’t stand to see what they would do with you.” The unmistakable thud of his marching approached. I had no idea what to do. Honestly, my plan at that moment was just to blast him, and go from there.

I heard his slow climb of the steps to the cabin. He peeked in for a second and I could have whacked him. He stepped back out though. “Listen friend. Keep those spiky ears peeled, all right? First sign of them you got to go, got it?” There was a loud howl in response. “Okay, sheesh, calm down old boy.”

He ducked back in and that;s when I jumped. I guess I’m still a coward cause I couldn’t bring myself to really sucker him with the hammer. So instead I tried to swing him around and smash him into the wall. This was stupid. His strength was incredible for his size and missing leg, he dead-bodied me mid-toss and began screaming. “He’s in here! He’s here! He’s here!”

I yanked on him as hard as I could and blasted him right into the wall. There was a horrible pop in my back when I did this though. I was stuck at forty-five degree angle now. Pete dove to tackle me. No other options, I swung hard from the waist with the hammer. I got him right in the neck and he went diving for the floor. “Help,” he screamed.

I couldn’t hear anything now. The cabin was pulsing with panic. It grabbed me by the leg and pulled me out. I couldn’t open my eyes. I was way too afraid to look at it. Its hand was freakishly cold and clammy. It squeezed on my leg and I knew that in a second it could snap it like a chicken bone.

I kept my eyes closed, forcing them shut with all my will. That was the only real option. I was being twirled around like a dirty towel. Then it was time for a flight. I crashed with a hard whack to the ground. I was sure something was broken, but I was just a brain, my body was done. I watched through half open eyes as the hulking shadow marched back for the cabin.

I could hear Pete moaning inside of it There was growls and even a bark. The thing came back out visibly shaking, Pete’s small body draped over his shoulder. I couldn’t help but look at him now. The wolf was almost cartoonish in its hulking grotesqueness. Its deep black fur made it looked like it was pressed from thick pool of oil. Red orbs rolled in its eye. A thick stream of silvery drool dangled from its mouth.

It set Pete down next to the pile of downed trees and the headless carcass of what looked like a gigantic deer. There were all the furnishing of a well set up camp too, fire, tree fort, a giant pile of sticks and limbs. He made a giant leap back for me and picked me up easily and began to smell me. It didn’t help that all I had on were my boxers, which we ripped from me with one jerk.

I was screaming and crying by this point. The thing just kept rolling me around, smelling me like a cigar. The drool coated me with a thick gel. “Britney!” I screamed. “Wake me up!” The thing tossed me to the ground and went bounding for the forest.

My body was so broken, it was like I didn’t have bones anymore just a skin bag of chunky sludge. I tried to stand up but came crashing back down. Something was seriously wrong. I tried to drag myself across the floor but started to black out. I looked up, and for the briefest second thought I saw her watching from behind a tree, but when I tried to focus she disappeared.

I probably didn’t crawl five feet before he was back. He clenched a giant bundles of weeds and wild grasses, which he promptly began to rub all over me, and shove in some not very nice places. As an I amateur Chef, I soon deduced he was preparing to roast me.

 

355px-Hesiod_and_the_Muse_by_Gustave_Moreau_(1870)
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Snippets #52

592px-Merodon_equestris_(Large_Narcissus_Fly)_-_female

 

Narcissiana: On Collecting-Translation of Fredrick Sjoberg The Fly Trap

Almost any disturbance at all can create a whole new environment, which may sometimes meet the rather intricate demands that some insignificant fly makes on life. It can be quite simple. Let’s say that a young landscape architect falls in love with a girl who says she adores the heavy fragrance of balsam poplar, whereupon he, of course, has an entire forest of balsam poplar planted, perhaps at a university that hires him to design its landscaping just at the time he’s falling in love, and at night these woods come to be used as a meeting place by, say, the semisecret Students for the Liberation of White Russia, who put up completely unreadable posters about their hopeless struggle on the smooth trunks of the fast-growing poplars, using the only tool their organization has a plentiful supply of—namely, White Russian thumbtacks, which contain indeterminable metallic impurities that give rise to a rare form of rot in the tree’s inner bark that some even rarer hoverfly’s sap-eating larvae require in order to survive to adulthood.

Link

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Interludes Chapter 15

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I exploded off the couch like an M-80 was about to go off in my pocket. My son smiled at me. “You’re funny.”

“Nothing funny about this buddy,” I said. I stomped to the kitchen, and poured myself a glass of water. I was mad at myself for falling asleep, but strangely I did feel better. It also confirmed to me that time did slow down when I was over here. Still, I had no idea when that thing was coming back, or why had it ran off like that? It could have been mention of the “Administration,” whatever the fuck that meant. I really didn’t like the sound of that, to be honest. It shattered the vague lie that I had been telling myself that this was all so much craziness, the result of an over active imagination.

I was bothered by nightmares dreams in the past, before any of this started I mean, so when I forced myself to consider the situation I couldn’t help but see that I really had no reason to think there wasn’t another world out there, just beyond my eyelids. A world that might have different extents and limits.

I don’t think people dream anymore. That’s the problem. Imagine if you were getting a good 9-10 hours of sleep a night, exercising regularly and not using caffeine or anything like that. I think it would be very easy under those circumstances to have an extensive experience of dreaming. Maybe if this ability and practice was truly appreciated and say one started a dream journal, and started developing other so-called lucid dreaming techniques, couldn’t we imagine this person having a greater connectedness to this other place, than they felt to the real world?

In my situation, it’s sort of an irrelevant point. I chug coffee by the pot and have little ones, so rarely do I get more than six hours of sleep anyway, and as you can probably guess I have a bit of an excited tendency, which is not conducive to peaceful rest. I get into to this dream world like a shotgun blast, a bucket of ice cold water to the face. It just happens.

These were the type of considerations I was engaged in as I drank my water and tried to figure out what to do. Like over there, how do I defeat a werewolf? I’m a somewhat largish man, but by no means some tough guy, and just a glimpse of the snout told me this thing was huge, so I wasn’t excited about trying to fight. It’s funny you know, the interconnectedness of things. As I paced my kitchen thinking about it, that’s what I kept coming back too. That’s weird, huh? The interconnectedness of things? What the fuck does that even mean? What made me think of the phrase was something that happened when I was seven years old.

There was this Great Dane named Domino, at the neighbor’s house. It was a friendly dog, but the one stipulation was that you shouldn’t run away or the small horse was likely to give chase.

In hindsight, a reasonable adult might ask, well then Domino better be kept on lockdown, but this was pre-helicopter parenting days, wild-west days of the Mid-90’s, not all bubble wrapped and safe like today, I guess. Point is back then I just had to contend with Domino, and remember the simple rule, no running away. So of course, one day, I went running up the block, happy, naive, and I heard this yelling to “stop!” I looked back and all I saw was the top of Domino’s massive head as it reared down on me. Like a bull, he scooped me up, and tossed me into the air.

Now all that is to say, I’m predisposed to thinking about how does one take down a large beast like a rushing dog? Later, misguided and disastrous forays into wrestling, which we will not go into here, provided the clue. The one powerful phrase I retained from my grappling studies was “where the heads goes, the body will follow,” meaning if you can drag something by the head, then you had control of it.

Despite my encounter with Domino, I always have been and will be a lover of animals. I have two great dogs myself, ignoring their inability to protect me from cosmological entities. It is with these dogs, Old Boy Dante and the one with papers Cujo, that I have somewhat tested my theories. These test have been done in play, and this werewolf is clearly no labor-doodle, but my experiments have been positive. A dog, and werewolf I hope, are all about the mouth. They’re like a ragging set of teeth, propelled by a body. Just like the mighty alligator, once head/neck control is established we pray, it will become easier to clamp down on the jaws, which have great biting force, but not great opening force. And let’s just forget about those claws, and jagged edges…

The plan was clear. Get this thing in a headlock, hold its mouth shut, and perhaps bludgeon it with my small hammer? Where was the small hammer, now that I thought of it? I went back to the living room and it was nowhere in sight. Strange? Was it possible I left it over there?

I pried the DS from my son’s hand and put it on the charger. Then we both flopped back on the couch. He could tell I was stressed. I had to lie to him again and told him it was nothing. Really I was freaking out. We both knew that.

I wondered if I could make it through the night without falling asleep? I wondered if that was even the right play? How could I guarantee my safety? I needed some help.

The whole day was this mixture of the mundane, making PB&Js, playing with Play-doh, wiping butts, starting dinner, and then just worry and plotting about what I was going to do with the wolf. By the time bed came I was exhausted. Britney could definitely tell something was up. “You all right babe?” She asked, getting her clothes ready for the next day.

“No,” I said into the pillow. “No, I’m not all right at all. It’s the dreams again. I’m so goddamned tired, but too afraid to go to sleep.

“I thought things were going better,” she said.

How could I explain that the last ten days or so had been the worst ever, and that what she took for doing better was me at my lowest? “It was,” I lied. “But the wolf is finally here.”

“What? You’ve seen the wolf?”

“Just it’s snot and an eyeball.”

“Get out of here?”

“No, serious.”

“That’s fucking freaky.

“I know,” I said. Silence. The usual silence. Like always, I feel mostly bad for my wife talking to her about this stuff. If I have no clue what’s going on, how can I expect her to? I don’t want to tell her about the tablet, but it comes bubbling out. “There’s something else too.”

“What?”

“I touched the tablet.”

“Shut up,” she said, slamming her underwear drawer shut.

“I did and there was this weird picture, bunch of old people dressed up, priests and monks and stuff, and then there was one other app and it didn’t do anything, but dropped all the power.”

“Why in the hell did you do that?”

“I don’t know.”

“This is bad.” For the first time in all this she seemed honestly worried. This made me feel like crap. Why did I touch that freaking thing?

“What are you going to do?” She asked, arms crossed.

“I don’t know. I’m going to try to stay up tonight and tomorrow. Maybe I can nap tomorrow when you get home.”

“No, come on. I don’t want to be mean but you look like a wreck. You need to sleep.

“I can’t sleep.”’

“You have too.”

Marriage is wonderful. One aspect of this is the prevalence and potency of honesty. My damn tiredness betrayed me. “I think it’s gonna bring the ‘Administrators’?”

“Administrators?” She had an insulted look on her face that I couldn’t really explain.

“Yeah, I think I told you about them once. I don’t really get it to be honest. Sounds like their form of government. You know I naturally get the need for–”’

“Wait,” she interrupted. “I’m not following you.”

“What do you mean”

“Well, if it’s a dream world, why is there a government? That sounds stupid.”

Indeed. What could I say to that? We enjoyed a comfortable silence for a moment. I rolled in it like a warm sauna. She didn’t believe me. That’s fine. I didn’t necessarily believe me either. There’s was a sour little ping of moral angst at that. A lil splash of depressive melancholia, which was seeing all this as my fault.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I’ll try to sleep.”

My wife got the shivers and looked away for a second. “I don’t know what to do, but you have to figure something out with this? We can’t have your lurking around here like a zombie. How about this though. How about you lay down right now, it’s a little after nine, and I’ll crochet next to you for an hour or two and wake you before I sleep. Maybe the little catnap can help you, and if you start acting weird, then I’ll just wake you up?”

“Have you ever seen any Freddy Kruger movies? Because that’s exactly what they do before one of them offs it.”

“Oh my god,” she said. “I’m just trying to help.”

“I know,” I said.

Silence. “Fine,” I said, snuggling up to her with a pillow. “But you promise you’ll wake me up?”

“I promise,” she said.

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Interludes Chapter 14

V0007533 Urania, the muse of astronomy. Engraving by L. Kilian (?), 1
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The screen lit up and the background was a photo of a large group of people, maybe a school. It looked old, from the 1950s, or even earlier. There were some oddly dressed people on it. Men in long robes, turbans, some Buddhist roped looking dude, a couple ancient looking guys in Catholic priest garb. What I assume is a class of kids take up a majority of the bleachers. There’s nothing obviously weird about them. They all look quite put together, well behaved even.

There are only two Apps icons. Oddly enough Google was one and the other was a black square with a white X on it. I decided to show Pete the Google App. I had the peculiar problem of what exactly should I show this other-dimensional creature? What would be of relevance to him? Especially in this moment?

One of my go-to writing motivation songs came to mind, Nina Simone’s version of Sinnerman. I quickly found it in a thumbnail, and clicked it. I tried to hand it back to Pete but his hands were shaking and he backed away. “No stop it. What have you done? What sort of Dark Lord are you?”

“Dammit Pete,” I said. “Calm down. It’s a song.” Nina’s chanting and the fast beat were maybe not the best thing to listen to, but before I could change it the door was almost kicked in half. A wide gap in the door let in a glimmer of star light. A glistening black snot pushed up against it.

It took deep breathes like a pig, leaving a thick snot trail afterwards rolling down our side. It was hard to hear anything clearly, with Nina and the wolf huffing and snorting. The grunts shifted into words. “Goo joop, Pete. Goo joop, Pete.”

“Son of a bitch, Pete,” I yelled. “Glad you to see you two can be so lovey dovey.” I look backed and Pete was white knuckled, eyes peeled with the tablet.

Nina was blasting him in the face and he looked ancient. I picked up my small hammer, and tried to meditate on it, hoping it could pull me back into the real world, but to no avail. I looked back to the door and the wolf’s massive claw was trying to pull it apart. I took two steps to whack it with the hammer, but I stopped, realizing the stupidity in that.

I tried to wrench the tablet from his hands, but his hands were super-glued to it. I had to put my knees on his chest to pry it from him.

“Get it together man,” I yelled, but he was catatonic.  His hands stayed stuck like when they were holding the tablet.

I shut the song off and he snapped out of it. “Oh Sir, I am so sorry. How could I have known that you were so powerful? You are a god aren’t you? Sent here to test me and I have failed. I am so sorry. Please do not play that harpy again or I will die; I am so sorry; I have been betrayed.”

“Oh you’re gonna be sorry,” I yelled. “That thing is munching you man, not me! I’m getting out of this!” I brought up the homepage and tap the X thumbnail without another thought. A new window came up and it was running computer code.

As I looked at it the screen began to twist and flip colors, and the worst sort of stomach pain kicked in. It felt like somebody was doing jumping jacks on my intestines. The screen started flashing different images and clips, with green and blue empty blizzard in between.

The clips were completely out of context historical segments, most from television it seemed, like Martin Luther King giving a speech, that guy stopping a tank in Tiananmen square, a speech by Dwight D. Eisenhower, just random historical stuff. There were also random clips from events and places, I did not recognize.

For instance, one was of some planetary landing not the moon, it was a darker brown planet, and there were four of five large vehicle circled around. The camera zommed in on a guy getting out of one of them. He wore a bright green suit, and a bronze tinted astronaut helmet. But then the screen cut to a a baking show, then a beauty pageant.

Pete was right in my face. “What have you done?”

“Nothing! Dammit. Calm down.”

The screen flashed what looked like a typical alert message for a computer, but everything went out suddenly. The tablet, the lights. Everything went dark. The only light crept in through the crack of the door. I tried to get the tablet started again, but it didn’t work. Frustrated, I launched it against the wall. “No,” Pete screamed. “The Sacred Fire!”

I thought about cracking him one, but another cramp doubled me over. I was blinded by a light, which I realized was coming from the other side. Someone opened the curtains, I guessed. I tried to hold on to it, but everything went black again. The only sound I can hear is Pete’s wooden leg tapping against the floor of the cabin.

I am so afraid, so worked up, I decide I can’t just stand there anymore and wait. I run at where I thought the gap in the door should be and whacked it with the back of the hammer. I totally miscalculated, hitting the door full body. I slide to the ground, crying out in pain.

“Master,” Pete whispered, “are you okay?”

I laid against the bulging door. I ran my hand up it until I came to the gap. I stuck one finger in it stupidly. It felt like my dog’s fur, sort of sharp, but also soft at the same time. “Scraach,” the thing grunted.

Somehow I controlled my terror, the voice had vibrated the door. I was so close to it now. That’s the thing about fear though isn’t it? It can make you do things you never thought possible. I scratched and it hummed in pleasure. “Goo joop, Pete. Goo joop, Pete.”

“Actually not Pete,” I said. “Pete’s friend, Austin, Sir.”

“Dinnah,” the Wolf grumbled.

“Hopefully not, Listen I’m here with Pete though and I think if you listen to his story he will tell you there has been a sort of mix-up here. He’s tricked me.”

“Yes, Sir,” Pete said to the hole. He had snuck up in the dark, and it gave me a jump. “I did not know Austin was such a powerful Technician. I am sure Administration will want to see him. He claims to be from another world. Whatever that means.”

There was a grumble and we could see the fire for a second, before a raging, bloodshot eyeball filled the space. It looked from Pete to me, then howled and ran off.

“What does that mean?” I asked.

“I don’t know, Sir.”

“Cut it with the Sir crap.”

“Yes, Master,” he said.

I took my little hammer and tried to pry at the door, but the door beams were so thick that my hammer was worthless. Doubly it proved the strength of the creature. A new round of stomach cramps sent me to floor.

This time I forced my eyes to stay closed. The bright light hurt so bad and made me feel like throwing up, but I kept them closed and I heard a little sigh, my older son’s sigh. He was growing bored or struggling with some game.

I forced my eyes open and I was back on my couch. The fan was blowing me right in my face. “Good nap?” My son asked.