The Land of NeverWas

Where all the "Might Have Beens" live

Archive for the category “Uncategorized”

Appreciation

I just wanted everyone who has ever stopped by, will stop by and/or is still stopping by to know that I really truly appreciate it. The views have been a pleasant surprise. I never thought that anything I would have to say or write would resonate with anyone, much less move them to comment or share. So thanks!

Peace,
Todd

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abyss

time can seem to crawl no more slowly than when you want to hear from someone. a second can seem like a decade. a minute a century. an hour; eternity. days passing by is a time frame too terrible to bear. every tick and every tock of the clock echoes inside of you like an earthquake shaking you to your very core. nothing could speed up time again like a word from your lover. but silence reigns and time still oozes on. uncertainty keeping you constant companion. you know there will be a breaking point at which the time stream will return to its normal pace, but it feels like you will never get there. it is like swimming toward a surface too far away and your lungs are beginning to burst for want of air. if only you could break through that surface and take in a lungful of her and never have to plunge back down into the watery depths of her absence ever again. but that is then. for now you must make your way breathlessly through the murk. that dark hole she has left. that abyss.

Filler with a dash of substance (or, Why I don’t make New Year’s resolutions.)

Well, having been busy with other projects and not quite so love sick as I once was (I think I’d rather have radiation poisoning next time, mixed with explosive diarrhea), I thought, since it was a New Year, what the fuck, come write something over at the old Peanut Butter blog. I have absolutely nothing to write about, however. Like the title says, it’s just filler. A bunch of words here that will allow me to say:I wrote in PBftRoYB today. Nothing more, nothing less. Yay mission accomplished. Sorry they aren’t deep and meaningful but honestly if you are coming to my blog for deep and meaningful, hahahaha. *tear*

And why don’t I make New Year’s resolutions? Because they’re a stupid waste of time.

Burn

Yet again. Here I am. Slouching in a darkened room staring out at the heartless black of night. Stars twinkle. Cold light from the moon falls through the window. I ponder the ridiculousness of where I find myself. Questions race through my head. Unanswerable questions. Or perhaps the answers are too horrible for me to acknowledge. So I pretend they are unanswerable to avoid looking them eye to eye. I take out my heart and hold it up in the light of the moon. Twist it, turn it. Admire the scars I have built up over the years. The scars that give truth to the idea that love hurts. Someone once said “You teach people how to treat you.” I understand. I’ve taught people to treat my heart as a target for claws and blades, slings and arrows. Whether intentional or not they’ve raked its tender skin so often it can barely be recognized through the scar tissue. Time may heal all wounds but the scars are a mother fucker. I know that I have put it out as a target and by doing so I have given permission to fire. You’d think it wouldn’t feel anymore. You’d think it would be numb from the constant chafing. And perhaps, hopefully, it will be after this last time.

I sit it on my desktop. Then I reach in to the gaping hole that is left and I pull out what I feel for her…I reach into my head and I pull out the memories, scraping around to be sure and get every last scrap. Nothing can be left. Nothing. It must all burn. I sit and stare at the pile of uselessness that sits before me. Every sweet word, every wasted gesture. I hold my hand to my mouth as I ask myself again and again and again why none of it mattered? Why does it always happen that I want to give it so badly and so freely but it is never taken in a like manner? Appreciated, yes. Remembered, yes. But never reciprocated. I am a brightly lit being, consumed with fire, a conflagration that will only take the fuel of her heart to turn from blue and cold to red and hot. Perhaps that is why she shied away. She feared being consumed by a wildfire she had no idea if she could control. I suppose I’ll never know. I can only wonder at the smoke I see from afar as she fans her own fire, attempting to coax the ragged embers and green wood into a roaring heat. In time, in time. Regardless, her back is turned away from me as she concentrates. I’m not even casting a shadow for her with my radiance.

I strike a match and hold it out towards my little pile, ready to say goodbye as I turn it all into ashes. Turn, turn, I send silently towards her with all my might, hoping desperately that she will stay my hand, because I know that I really want to keep it all inside of me. I don’t want it to burn, but the blue flame hurts too bad. I can’t go on being consumed by cold fire. I have nothing to hold on to. No burn of my lips from her hot kiss, no searing of my skin from the heat of her touch. One last breath.

She will not turn.

Suddenly, I laugh at myself. I realize once and for all I am the king of fools. No, the patron saint, even the God of fools. I deserve a place alongside the rest of Olympus. My own mythology. There Aphrodite will laugh at me for all eternity for daring to think that I could ever find the one I was meant to burn with. I am not blameless. I have turned away from others who did offer me a flame. I haughtily decided that they did not burn brightly enough. That will also be a part of my story. Forever searching, forever not seeing those who deserve for those who do not deserve. It will make fine theater but I wonder if those who come after will truly understand the misery of that existence. I hope they learn from it because I doubt that I shall.

I touch the match to the pile. It burns slowly, as if as reluctant to go as I am to say goodbye, but soon there is a pile of ashes. I scoop them up into the palms of my hand and carry them outside. I look up at the moon. She looks back at me, cold and uncaring, but I am used to that. She holds no pain for me. We have an understanding the moon and I. I hold up my palms and open them slowly. The breeze catches the ashes and takes them away. Not far enough I know. There will be ashes for me to tread on until time finally buries them under the dust of its passing.

I watch them fly and turn back inside. Already I can feel everything I took out of me growing back to haunt me yet again.

Galloping Toward Futility

I’ll pull tight the reins of my heart and no longer let it run free and wild across the meadows of love. It has ran its course, and worked itself up into a breathless lather, chasing the wild ride of happiness. Now it is time to take off the saddle, brush it down and then set it out to lonely pasture. There it will rest and graze and perhaps raise its in head in remembrance whenever it hears the pounding of hooves off in the distance as others fly by – joyful and free.

The Moon and the Sea

You be the Moon and I’ll be the Sea,
from distances far you tug at me.
Yet helpless to bridge the gulf in between,
I toss and I turn, my struggles unseen.

Though rage as I may that blackness unbends.
The space between us, the miles without end
stay as they are; so far away yet you feel so near
I can close my eyes and pretend you are here.

A Clockwork Dream

Once upon a time in a land far, far away there lived a precocious girl. She lived in a beautiful valley and her family was happy to till the soil.

But, the girl was not happy. She wanted more out of life. She wanted to know what lay beyond in the next valley, she wanted to know what life was like in the cities she had heard of.

What lay beyond the beautiful purple, snow crested mountains she could see off in the distance. She felt the call of adventure.

A life spent living on the farm, no matter how happy seemed to wilt her soul. She went about her duties but her head was off in the distance. She could stand it no longer.

So one day she decided to go off on a small adventure. After all, she didn’t want to jump right in. She had to learn a few things.

There was a forest bordering one edge of the valley in which she lived. It was a dark and foreboding looking forest that her mother nad father had warned her away from.

The tales told of many who had entered the forest never to return, but that only added to the intrigue and her curiosity. So she packed up some food and things and that night she snuck off to explore.

So off she went, at first full of vigor but after a time it began to dawn on her that the forest was much further away than it looked. The pack grew heavy and her steps began to slow, but the forest did not seem any closer than it was.

Just as it seemed she couldn’t take another step, she looked up and the forest surrounded her, just as deep, dark and foreboding as the tales spoke of.

She looked behind her but the forest closed in all around. How was that possible? She hadn’t taken more than three or four steps into the trees surely. In a panic she began to retrace her steps but then realized that she did not know which direction that would be and any footsteps she surely should have made were gone. Plus, it was growing dark. Too dark to see. If she wandered too far she would surely be lost. Best to just make camp and wait for the morning light.

That was when she saw the light.

It shimmered through the trees, the branches breaking it up into spears of brilliance that blinded her. She held her hand up to shield her eyes, trying to desperately locate the source. She stood still, not sure whether to turn and run or to hope the light would lead her to safety and far away from the forest and the adventure she had so desperately desired just a short time before.

With nothing else to lose she summoned up her courage and headed towards the light. She gripped her bag and began to creep quietly towards the light.

She passed gnarled trees that made her imagine monsters reaching out to grab her in their withered limbs and eat her up. She would be another of those told in the tales that would never return. Unless the light held her salvation.

But the light seemed to not be getting any closer. It almost seemed as if it were teasing her, leading her on a merry chase. Well, it didn’t make her feel merry in the least. She was tired, hungry, frightened and growing angrier by the second.

So intent on the light was she, so angry, that she almost missed the fact that she had stumbled into a small clearing among the trees. The light, while still keeping its distance seemed to have stopped and hovered just past the far side of the clearing, giving her light to see by.

A great big man hovered over her…reaching out to her. She turned to run headlong into the forest, forgetting about being lost, scared, tired or hungry, but she stumbled and landed hard on her backside with a tooth rattling jar. Stunned she sat there trying to catch her breath, expecting any moment to be snatched up by the leering stranger above her.

She looked up at him, eyes large, and realized he hadn’t moved. Why, it was just a silly old statue! A great wave of relief rushed out of her and she began to laugh so hard her sides began to hurt almost as much as her rump.

Finally catching her breath and sitting up she noticed her statue friend wasn’t the only one about. The clearing was scattered with them. All in different poses. Men and women, young and old…even some forest creatures. Some appeared newer than others. Many, like her friend, had moss hanging off them in clumps that added to their frightening appearance.

She wandered around, marveling at the realism and wondered why such a good sculptor would bother doing all this work in the middle of nowhere like this. Seemed silly and wasteful. Whoever it was, was really very good she thought.

But then she noticed the bushes.

They were full of large, delicious, juicy looking berries. Her mouth watered and her stomach growled. Throwing down her bag, she went to the nearest bush, bunched up her shirt like a basket and began to pluck the berries and put them into their cradle as fast as she could.

She intended to wash them off with the water from her canteen first, but she decided she couldn’t wait any longer and began to pop one in her mouth.

NO! cried a voice, so loud and thunderous she let go of her shirt and dropped every one into the dirt. The one she held in her hand glistened in the light so tantalizingly close she could see the night dew on its surface. Not daring to move at all, she simply turned her eyes in their sockets, trying to catch a glimpse of whoever it was that had stopped her shy of her feast.

As she stood there straining with all her senses but terrified to move, she heard heavy footsteps approach her from behind. She felt the rustle of air as whoever it was got up close behind her…she sensed it was a rather large person.

Suddenly a hand reached over and plucked the last berry from her hand and threw it on the ground.

“You are in the Grove of the Unfortunates.”, the voice growled, sounding vaguely off in a way she couldn’t quite place. “These statues you see around you are not statues at all, but those unfortunate enough to have tasted these berries. The berries have a sweet flavor that is irresistible, but the sweetness hides within it a poison that…well does that.” A hand gestured towards the silent audience around them.

Wait…was that hand…metal?

No longer able to contain her curiosity and forgetting her fear she turned.

She didn’t quite know what it was she was looking at. It had the shape and features of a man, but made all of metal. She heard a faint whizzing, clicking and humming coming from within him as he stood there and looked at her impassively. Perhaps it was armor or it hid a hideous visage.

The figure stood there a moment more studying her, hands clasped calmly in front of him, arms half hidden beneath the cloak that covered most of his body. Over the metal of his body he wore clothing, so she guessed it might not be armor after all. But if it wasn’t armor, then was it…his body?

Bowing with a flourish, the man said “Allow me to introduce myself. I am the Clockwork Man. You could say I guard these forests, although under present circumstances one would have to say I guard them rather poorly.” Again he gestured towards those unfortunate souls.

He gripped her hand lightly and raised it to where his mouth was, although she felt no kiss upon it.

“And you are?”

She managed to mumble her name.

“Excellent. I have a castle nearby that you could shelter in for the night if you so desire.”

Not really having better options she agreed. The Clockwork Man turned and made a gesture at the light which disappeared instantly. He turned back to her. “Will O’ the Wisp” he explained. “Leads people to the berries. When I saw its light I knew I had better get here quickly.” She thanked him and he offered an arm. She took it and they headed off into the forest.

Curiously, she felt safe with this strange metal man. As they walked, she became aware of the night breeze and the smells of the forest. The moon peeked through at intervals and there were all manner of peeps, chirps and songs. It felt peaceful.

But, the metal man seemed to take no notice of all the beauty surrounding them. In fact, if he weren’t a clockwork fellow, she would have sworn he was sad. Can a clockwork man feel sad? Can he feel anything at all, she wondered.

“So, do you live all alone in this castle of yours?” she asked, finally brave enough to try to strike up a conversation.

“Yes,” he said.

“For how long?”

“I have lost count of the time that has passed. A solitary existence lends itself to all time becoming muddled. No reason to count days; nothing to look forward to.”

“How sad.”

“Oh don’t despair for me, for I am made all of metal. I feel nothing…although I do wonder at times…what that would be like….feeling.”

“Were you always alone in your castle?”

“There were others, once, yes. But they all….went away. I don’t know where they went, or why. Just one by one, those with me became less and less until no one was left but me.”

She was about to ask another question, becoming more intrigued with every answer, but then a raindrop splattered into the dust in front of her, then another, and another. Random and not very many, but the effect on the Clockwork Man was like lightning had struck.

Without a word he swept her up into his arms and raced off. He carried her as if she weighed nothing and he ran with speed, grace and agility.

Confused and breathless she could do nothing but wrap her arms around his neck and bury her face into his cloak. Despite being made of metal, he felt warm and his cloak had a pleasant smell, faint and clean. The rain began to build up in tempo and as it did the Clockwork Man seemed to run with more urgency.

Suddenly it felt as if they were beginning to rise and his cadence got a bit more choppy and her head bumped against his shoulder. Looking up she saw that they were running up a wide flight of stairs. At the top of the stairs, across a wide stone porch, were two huge, beautifully ornate wooden doors. The Clockwork Man did not slow his headlong flight towards them and for a moment she feared they would slam full speed right into them, but at that moment they began to swing open and then they were through and into the castle.

And just as suddenly as he had swept her up, he stopped and put her down without a word, then removed his cloak and hung it on a hook by the door. Still a bit frazzled from her sudden flight from the rain she could only stand there, wide eyed for a moment.

Finally she gathered herself and asked, “What was that all about?”
If it were possible for a Clockwork Man to look sheepish, he did so now.

“I rust if I get too wet.”

“You rust?”

“Yes. Straight through. I would cease to function.”

“You mean, you would die?”

“I suppose that would be the proper term.”

She looked about the foyer. It had high ceilings, with ornate carvings and beautiful paintings. An open arch led off down a hallway that seemed to stretch into infinity. The floors were made of some sort of stone that was polished to a shine that reflected the room into an upside down smudgy opposite.

“This is a very beautiful place.”, she said.

“Thank you.” He held out a hand. “Come, let me show you around and then get you settled in.”

She gathered up her belongings, gripped his hand and they set off.

The castle, while beautiful and full of many amazing things, was for all of that pretty much just like other castles. Lots of rooms and hallways, statues and paintings. She was beginning to get very tired and wanting that bed he had promised when he came to a small nondescript door set in an alcove. The door stood out because of it’s very plainness.

The Clockwork Man took out a large golden key and unlocked the door. From outside the door, she only saw a grubby little room, and she wondered why he was bothering to show her the broom closet. He stepped in and turned back to look at her, saying nothing but waiting expectantly.

Anxious to get what she hoped was the last stop on this tour over with, she stepped through the door.

The room she expected to step into disappeared as she crossed the threshold and she found herself inside an incredibly tall and wide room that held rows and rows of bottles and books and pictures. The room and its contents glowed and shimmered with all manner of incredible colors.

Breathless, she asked, “What is this place?”
“This room holds all of the things that are taken for granted in this world.” He reached for a nearby bottle. “This one, for instance, holds the dawn that is never truly appreciated.”

She looked into the bottle. The beauty inside was almost too much for her to take in. “But I have sat and watched the sun rise appreciably many times.”

“Yes, but did you truly appreciate what you were seeing. Beyond the beauty of the moment did you appreciate everything that was happening even beyond your senses, beyond what you could see or smell, taste or feel? Did it make you realize how small the world you live on truly is in comparison to the vastness of the sky or the galaxy?”

“To enjoy the beauty of something is to enjoy every aspect of its existence. How it came to be, what brought you there with it at that exact moment, and to appreciate it long after your short stay together.”

She studied the beauty encased before her, tears glistening in her eyes. So much she had missed and never realized it.

Then a yawn escaped her suddenly and her eyes felt like lead and she realized she was so very, very tired.

The room began to swim around her and she swayed woozily. The Clockwork Man once again swept her up into his arms, though she was barely aware of this. She was conscious of leaving the room and tried to protest, but she only yawned again.

Through heavy lidded eyes she observed that she was being carried down a hall and into a room. Softness enclosed her head as it rested on a pillow, followed quickly by warmth as the Clockwork Man covered her with blankets and quilts. And then after that she drifted off into the land of dreams.

She awoke to the sounds of birds chirping merrily outside her window just as they did for her every morning at her house. The sun shined brightly in her face just as it did every morning through the window in her room. The blankets and pillow felt just as rough and the mattress just as uncomfortable as it did when she lay in her bed. Foggy still from sleep, she stretched and turned, and then suddenly sat straight up.

In her bed. At home.

For days, she moped around. Her parents seemed concerned but they hadn’t questioned where she’d been. It was as if they didn’t even know she had left. She attempted to return to the place in the forest several times, but couldn’t find it. Each time she returned the forest just seemed a normal forest.

She was ready to give up, but she felt she had to give it at least one more try. So once more she set off. Once more she got to the forest. She stopped at its edge. Fear of disappointment keeping her from going any further. Finally she screwed up her courage and stepped in hesitantly.

Nothing.

She stepped in a little further. Still nothing. She looked behind her and could clearly see the edge of the valley through the trees. Sadly she sat down against an old gnarly oak and began to cry.

A tiny gruff voice startled her out of her self-pity. “Why you cry little girl?” She looked over her shoulder and saw a tiny ugly man standing there. He had on dirty little clothes and his shirt barely held in a fat belly. His orange beard surrounded a mouth full of nasty teeth that smiled at her from beneath a pointy wart covered nose. He had a pointy grime covered hat pulled down to his bushy eyebrows. His eyes twinkled as he looked her over.

“You too pretty for cryin’. Pretty girl shouldn’t cry. Why you sad, pretty girl?” His questions came out in a quick staccato and every time he asked he switched around from one shoulder to another and then with the last question he landed in front of her, legs spread, hands on his knees as he squatted there. His face even with hers as she sat by the tree.

A light seemed to dawn in the tiny man’s eyes. “Ahhh…I know why you cry. You look for windup man. Tinky-tink. Tinky-tink.” He crooked his arms and strutted around in a stiff fashion. He didn’t move anything at all like the Clockwork Man she thought.

But, he seemed to know why she was here. “Yes I am,” she said. “Can you help me find him? I would very much like to talk with him again.”

He beamed at her and puffed out his chest. “Ohhh yes, ohh yes, pretty girl, I can take you right to him. Take you now. Follow. Follow. I will take you right to tinky-tink man.”

He took off like a shot into the underbrush. She scrambled to her feet but she had already lost sight of him. His head popped up a short distance away. “You slow pretty girl. Slow. Slow. You want tinky-tink man, you better get a move on. He may find another pretty-pretty before you get there.” Then he took off again.

She managed to keep up for the most part, but the strange little man still had to stop and chastise her from time to time. Just when she thought her lungs would burst, she came across him, lying atop a moss covered boulder, facing away from her and peering through a bush.

She dropped down beside the boulder, completely winded. The strange little man looked at her with his crooked grin and sparkly eyes and pointed through the bush. “Therrrrre pretty girl, there is your tinky-tink man. He wait for you, he does. He wait for you long time. Yes, yes.”

Wondering slightly how this dirty little creature could possibly know anything about the mysterious Clockwork Man, she peered through the bush. She saw him standing there, his back was turned to her, but she recognized the cloak. He stood still atop a slight rise that gave him a clear view out of the forest and he appeared to be gazing off into the distance.

Slowly she made her way up the rise, loose dirt and rock making her slip and slide a little from time to time. She made such a racket, but he hadn’t seemed to notice as he hadn’t turned around. Finally she stood next to him. He still hadn’t turned.

“I’ve come back. I wanted to see you again.” Still he stood looking away, the cloak hiding his features. He didn’t answer her. Behind her she heard a tiny gleeful little laugh and the scamper of tiny feet but when she turned to look all she saw was a quiver of a bush.

She turned back to the Clockwork Man. “Please don’t be cross. I am sorry if my return is unexpected or wrong somehow. I didn’t think you’d mind.” She reached out to touch his arm.

The Clockwork Man collapsed into a heap beneath the cloak with a huge clatter. She realized it hadn’t been the Clockwork Man at all. Crossly she turned around to see if she could spot the dirty tiny little man. She found him immediately.

But he wasn’t tiny anymore. He was almost as tall as the trees and he slavered hungrily as he glared at her. His smile was still in place but his teeth were now sharp daggers dripping with saliva. He was naked and covered with the same orange hair all over his body as he had on his head.

He reached for her but she managed to dodge his grasp. He reached for her again and she backed away to the edge of the rise. Risking a quick look behind her she saw that it wasn’t so very far down and jumped. She landed with a whoosh of breath and rolled roughly into a tree. She lay there stunned. The now giant dirty creature made his way around the rise, the ground shaking as he came closer and closer.

With a roar and a flapping of his cloak, the real Clockwork Man flew out of nowhere, plowing into the giant’s belly with the force of a locomotive. The giant let out a groan but seemed to take the blow in stride. He swung a huge hairy arm at the Clockwork Man and sent him flying into the rocky side of the rise. The Clockwork Man rose and attacked the giant again.

As they fought she could only lie there helplessly still unable to gather her wits entirely. Her head ached from the blow of the tree. The two combatants swirled around her, raining fierce blows upon each other. Finally the Clockwork Man picked up a large branch fallen from a tree and drove its sharp end into the giant’s chest. The giant bellowed and ripped the log out with a spray of gooey ichor then disappeared off into the forest.

The Clockwork Man came over to where she lay and touched her forehead gently, where a cut bled freely. “You are damaged.”, he said. She looked back at him and noticed that his chest plate had been dented and a corner was slightly peeled back. From within came a soft golden glow. “So are you.” she said, touching his chest.

Ignoring her, he helped her to her feet. She swayed a bit and he reached out to carry her but she stopped him. “No I am going to walk. I’m fine, just a little woozy, but it will pass.” Shrugging and stepping back he turned and swept out an arm. “This way then.”

They walked for a while, talking of this and that, just enjoying the day and the hike, and before they knew it they had arrived at the castle. The Clockwork Man took care of her wound then disappeared for a bit. When he returned his chest place looked as good as new.

“I was surprised to find you had returned, but I am glad that you did”, he said.

“I had such a short stay here last time that I didn’t really get to know much about this place. Or you.”, she replied.

“I understand. Perhaps you can stay longer this time.”

“Well, my folks would worry if I stayed too long, but I do hope for a longer visit, and to be able to return.”

“Time has no meaning when you are here with me, it stands still. To the outside world it is as if you have just left.”

And so she stayed. Together they roamed the castle and the forest and he showed her such magical delights. It seemed as if every day there was something new that they could explore together. One day, she noticed something different about his face. “Are you…smiling?” she asked him.

“I can rearrange my features, I thought this would please you.”

“Well, you are correct sir. I like it very much”, she giggled.

It was a silly smile, but she liked it when he looked at her with it.

One night, restless, she roamed the halls looking for the Clockwork Man. She found him sitting in a workroom, his chest plate open. He was fiddling with something inside. Hearing her enter, he quickly closed it, but not until she had noticed that the strange golden glow she had seen days before had grown stronger and brighter.

She didn’t ask, he didn’t tell and she forgot about it as they sat up late into the night talking. The days seemed to fly by. Some times they danced, sometimes they just sat quietly and stared at the stars.

But even though he had put a smile on for her she sensed there was still a lingering sadness to him. Of course that couldn’t be as he had told her time and time again he was incapable of feeling, but she sensed it was there nonetheless.

One day after storm clouds had gathered overhead and ruined their planned picnic, the Clockwork Man had disappeared off into the depths of his castle. She had been reading, but must have dozed off. The rumble of thunder had awakened her.

On the table next to her sat a note and two objects. One was large and golden, the other was the key she had seen him pull out of his vest on so many occasions. She took up the note and began to read.

My Dearest,

I have spent countless time alone in my castle. Time spent with an emptiness in me that I had no awareness of…until the time I met you. At that moment, something began in me that I had no words for. I sent you away where I thought you wanted to be, but you ran through my thoughts like an endless dream. And when you came back, and over the days we have shared together, what began in me when first we met grew and grew. And finally I understood. I felt.

But with those feelings came another discovery. Feelings are a two edged sword that can send you to heights unimaginable or plunge you to the darkest depths. The thought of you made me happy; the thought of losing you made me sad. And I realized that there was no option but to lose you for I am a machine and you are human. We could never be.

On the table you will find two objects. One is the key to this castle. It is yours to do with as you wish. It will always guide you here safely and without fail.

The other object has been growing inside of my chest almost from the day we met. I suppose you could call it a heart, but I can function fine without it. I have no need for it, so it is yours. It is gold so it can make you wealthy. You and your family should never want for anything again.

I owe you so much more than these can pay, for you gave me the priceless gift of awakening.

I ask nothing from you in return save that you perhaps spare a kind thought for me from time to time.

Yours Forever
The Clockwork Man

As she finished the note and looked down at the heart and the key, thunder rumbled yet again and she heard the splash of rain against the window. Her eyes grew wide and she dashed out of the room calling for him. She ran throughout the castle shouting his name, hoping against hope that he would answer her, but the only reply she got was the echo of her frightened and panicky voice.

A sudden realization dawned on her. She returned to the drawing room and swept up the key then flew out into the night, the rain immediately soaking her skin.

She grasped the key and pictured the grove and found the path clearly in her mind. The rain plastered her hair and ran into her eyes, it pressed her dress down into a heavy weight that slowed her movements but she kept on.

Soon she was at the grove. She could barely see through the rain but she raced around peering at each and every statue that she could find. A bright light pierced through the gale and she saw the will o’ the wisp had returned. It was different this time. Closer. She moved towards it, expecting it to move but it stayed motionless.

The Clockwork Man was sitting on what appeared to be a throne made from the trunk of a fallen tree. He sat there motionless, his head down somewhat. Rain ran in rivulets off of his body, washing away bits of the rust that had already formed on him. From this throne he would keep eternal vigil over the rest of the grove.

As king of the unfortunates.

The End.

Defective

“I think we should have a recall.” the old gent at one end of the table said. His voice sounded firm, but his face held a questioning look as he glanced at the others gathered around the huge old oak table.

Immediately, the boardroom exploded into turmoil.

“A recall! Preposterous! Think of the negative publicity!” exclaimed one old codger in the middle of the table, his eyes so wide that his monocle popped loose.

“But these things are dangerous! We are already getting negative publicity and if they keep on killing people we are going to get so much more negative publicity that we may never recover.” retorted the original speaker, his huge white beard covering his lips but not his words.

Pensively, the room grew quiet and every head turned to look at the huge comfortable chair at the head of the table. It sat empty.

“Wish the big guy were here.” muttered someone.

“Well, he’s not. He’s busy with other things and he has charged us with figuring out what to do with this fiasco.” said the original speaker as he rose out of his chair and approached a large screen with all manner of charts, graphs, and other visual hoo hahs.

Scratching at his beard as he contemplated the mess of information before him he spoke to the gathering without turning. Murders, slavery, claims of divine support. The list went on and on.

“I’m not suggesting a complete recall. We’ve tried that before, once. Remember when we tried to wash the whole thing clean and start over? Water everywhere. I didn’t think the place would ever dry out. No, we need to narrow our focus a bit more, figure out where we went wrong and why it only seems to be a select few that are defective.”

Turning he called out “George!”

A wizened dwarf of a man sitting hunched in his chair near the head of the table startled back to consciousness. He had been, as usual, dozing off.

“Huh, wha?”

“George, when you were making the light ones, did you deviate from the formula?”

“Eh?” asked George, his eyes magnified behind the thick spectacles he wore, held a look of confusion.

“The formula George, did you change it in anyway when you were making the light ones? Think, George, we need to know.”

George scratched his bald shiny head for a moment as clarity seemed to eclipse the confusion.

“No, I followed the same formula as all the rest. In fact I made all the shapes before I started in on the colors….oh…”

“What is it George?”

“I ran out of color on the light ones so I used a substitute.”

The bearded inquisitor leaned over the table and peered intently at George.”

“A substitute? Do you have record of this substitute, George?”

An irritated look crossed George’s wrinkly old face. “Of course I did.” he snapped.

Holding out his hand, a folder appeared in it from out of thin air. George smacked it down on the table, opened the cover and, licking a thumb began to pore through the papers enclosed. Everyone sat fidgeting somewhat as George seemed to take an eternity reading through his records. When he finally did speak it startled everyone. A few even jumped. George had spoken but one word, but that word held a lot of meaning in it. The one word was “Fuck”

The bearded inquirer cocked an eyebrow. “Fuck, George?”

Scowling George said. “Yes Fuck.”

“Why Fuck George?”

Reddening somewhat but still defiant George replied.

“Lead. The substitute I used had lead.”

A gasp swam around the table. The bearded man looked startled but his face quickly formed one of satisfaction. He began to pace thoughtfully around the table, talking as he walked.

“Ahhh…well, that explains everything to my mind. Lead is known to lead to mental retardation and other ills and if these things are covered in it well, what chance do they have? Honestly, I have been mind boggled by some of the antics these things have done. My entertainment offset by the horror of the reputation these defects are giving us. It is a tremendous weight off my mind knowing the cause.”

“It’s all well and good,” stated someone at the table, “that we know the cause, but what are we to do about it?”

“Oh that’s easy,” replied the bearded one. “We just listen. We listen and when someone down there says ‘God made me President.’ or ‘I think we should microchip the brown ones’ or something crazy like that we just take them out. It will be even easier when they get in a big group with poorly spelled signs hollering in fear about things that don’t even exist. We can remove a whole lot of them then! Also, we can rely on the ones that didn’t get the lead paint treatment, I believe. We made these things pretty smart after all. Most of them will simply ignore or over ride the defective ones.”

He stopped in front of the large pane glass window behind the huge empty chair and stared down at the beautiful globe below. From this distance it looked so lovely and peaceful, covered in swirls of white over picturesque browns and blues and greens. Such a lovely creation. He hoped he was right about this. it would be a shame for the defective products to ruin it. He sighed.

“Of course, if I’m wrong, I guess we can try fire next.”

To Sleep, Perchance to Scream

Since I have been woefully uncreative lately, at least blogwise, I have decided to dip in the Todd Rinker archives and post a story I wrote a damn long time ago. I think I was somewhere in my early 20s, like 20 or 21 or something when I wrote this. It got turned down by two magazines and so went into the archives. Forgive the youthful, yet extreme,  melodrama.

Bleary-eyed and shaky, Karl DePaul sat in his kitchen trying bravely to keep his coffee in the cup and the dreams out of his mind and succeeding at neither.

He moaned slightly and rose from his chair, losing the battle with the rebellious coffee which fled joyfully from its porcelain prison. He looked blankly at the dark pool as it gained ground on his table, then shrugged. He left the coffee to its victory celebration and went into the living room. Idly he glanced at the old grandfather clock that stood stolidly in its corner by the front door, tick-tocking to itself in senile complacency. He moaned again when he saw it was 3 a.m.

He had to be to work in five more hours: If he still had a job. His boss had already expressed concern at the severe dive his work performance had taken lately. Karl had cited personal problems and promised to try his best to leave them at home and not bring them to work but three days of no sleep was beginning to take its toll.

“God, I need a shower.” Karl mumbled to himself.

He staggered across the room and switched on the stereo, dialing around until he found a station he liked. He then went into the bathroom to take his shower.

The splash of the icy cold water forced an involuntary whoop out of him and to seemed tp wake his befuddled brain. Karl knew that this was merely a temporary respite before the sandman’s army assaulted him yet again and the time in between such assaults was quickly shrinking. Finally able to take no more of the painfully cold water, he got out. Shivering and miserable he dried himself off then, wrapping an abundance of towels around his body, he went into his bedroom. He fumbled around in the dark for the Sta-Awake on his dresser not wanting to wake Marissa, his ocassional roommate. Grabbing the bottle ,he snuck back out of the bedroom; Marissa hadn’t stirred.

Back in the bathroom, he opened the bottle and shook six pills out into the palm of his hand. The directions called for three at the most but his body had built up a tolerance to caffeinie and Karl was desperate not to fall asleep. As least, not for another four days when he could finally get in to see his psychiatrist. Karl prayed that the doctor could exorcise the demon that had plagued him so relentlessly and that at long last he could lay his weary head down to a peaceful slumber. Of course, Karl wasn’t even sure that he would be alive when that day came, especially if he continued to torture his body in such a fashion. But desperate times call for desperate measures and Karl was desperate if nothing else. He sighed and popped the pills into his mouth following them quickly with a glass of tepid bathroom faucet water. He wondered idly why there always seemed to be a difference in the taste of water from the bathroom as opposed to that of the kitchen. Probably psychologically induced by the fact that one usually pissed in the bathroom and not in the kitchen.

“Of course YOU would know about psychologically induced phenomona you crazy son-of-a-bitch!”

Karl gave himself a scowling look in the mirror and didn’t like what he saw at all. His normally shining blue eyes were dull and bloodshot from lack of sleep and they seemed to droop even as he looked at them. His skin was pallid, set off more starkly by his uncombed and still damp mop of dark shoulder length hair nad a ragged growth of stubble that had, at some point, attached itself to his chin and cheeks. As he gazed with distaste at the creature he had become, he heard the clock chime out the half-hour mark in its deep, resonant voice. Unwrapping the towel from around his waist, he threw it at the dread image of himself. He snatched an old pair of sweatpants that were hangin on a hook behind the bathroom door, slipped them on, and trudged wearily back into the living room.

Looking involuntarily at the clock, which had gone back to mumbling to itself after its little shout, Karl cringed. Only 3:30 and it seemed as if days had gone by. How much longer could he stay awake before he finally succumbed to the seduction of sleep?

He turned off the stereo and turned on the television. There was nothing terribly interesting on, but he thought the noise would help to keep him awake. He was more of a reader then he was a TV watcher, but at the moment reading was not a viable option. He always fell asleep when he read. He watched the show for a while, only half paying attention as he mulled over his options in his mind.

There weren’t many. In fact, there were only two he could think of in his present state of mind.

The first he had already taken care of. Medical help. This however did not guarantee much of anything. He had yet to make a visit to the shrink’s office and, to tell the truth, he held forth little hope that that would solve his problem.

The second he refused to even consider as yet. Suicide. The thought made Karl’s guts curl up. Call him coward or whatever but he just couldn’t force himself to that extreme. Not yet, anyways. Karl shook his head free of those defeatist and terrible thoughts. That left him where he started.

Deciding not to worry about it anymore, he tried to bring his concentration to bear on the show that was flashing on his screen, but found it difficult to focus his eyes. The images on the screen were blurred and unrecognizable and for a terrifying moment Karl thought he was going blind from some sort of caffeine overdose. Then he decided his eyes were just extremely fatigued from the days of staying awake without resting them. Closing his eyes tightly and rubbing them with his fingertips he tried again to focus. For a brief moment he could see clearly, but his eyes soon rebelled against him and refused to meet his demands. Karl now found himself in a quandry. If he rested his eyes, he most likely would fall right to sleep and then his worst nightmare would come to visit him and steal his soul. On the other hand, if he neglected to listen to what his eyes were telling him at the moment, Lord knew what would happen. Could he go blind? Karl didn’t know for sure and he was equally unsure that he was prepared to take the risk. His job at the art firm depended on his eyesight. Without his eyes he was doomed.

Sitting and pondering his seemingly hopeless dilemma an idea began forming in Karl’s beleaguered mind. Maybe it was born of desperation or perhaps it was the hypnotic motion of the blurry images on the screen as they flowed and congealed. Perhpas it was even the demon that had insinuated it into his mind. He neither knew nor cared at the moment All he knew was that at last he had a goal, something to do. He smiled with the simplicity of it. Karl had decided to change tactics a little.

He was going to go to sleep.

When first he settled on the couch, a feeling of peace came over him for the first time in months. He had to stifle a crazed laugh that threatened to overwhelm him. The last thing he wanted to do right now was wake Marissa and have her spoil everything by asking lots of nosy questions about what he was doing. He needed to hurry up and get this over with before he lost his resolve. As it seems to go, the minute he tried to go to sleep he found he couldn’t. Karl cursed softly to himself. All this time he had been struggling to stay awake, sleep had been an ever persistent voice in his ear. Now that he had decided to give in to its siren song it seemed that sleep had fled.

Karl chortled.

“Sandman, hell. Sandwoman more like. Just like a female to chase you until you give in then run like hell.”

Karl spent a few more minutes watching the purple and black splotches swirl and shrink under his eyelids then decided the cause was lost and opened his eyes.

A scream so terrible and loud erupted from his throat that he felt sure Marissa would come running at any moment.

There above him stood the very thing he dreaded most, all the more shocking because of the utter unexpectedness of it.

She just stood there, raven hair flowing down her back, stirred by a wind Karl didn’t feel. Her ebony eyes glistened like dark wells of black water beneath a silver moon. The angelic face tainted by the satanic smile that formed on her lips. Her body was as perfect as if it had been shaped by God’s own hand but used for the blackest of sins. Tonight she wore the color of death. A black that seemed to absorb the light from around it. Beneath, he could see hints of her naked body shine translucently as if lit from within.

The enemy had arrived and Karl could not escape.

The feelings surged and twirled through him, lust and fear mixing together in a dance of confusion. Now that he knew her for the succubus that she was he was better prepared to deal with the lust. Yet, he still found himself reliving the first time she had come to him. The hot, wanton lust that she has awakened in him then fulfilled somehow even though she existed solely in his dreams. Then slowly, over the months a change had come over her. Each night the lovemaking grew more rough and violent until one night, in the throes of orgasmic ecstasy she had placed her lips over his and tried to suck the very soul from him. He had escaped narrowly, even now unsure as to how he had done so. Perhaps she had allowed it. He hadn’t slept since then – until now – and he felt that this time there would be no escape. Caught in her hypnotic stare like a mouse trapped by a snake, he could only swallow and wait to see what fate she had in store for him.

He didn’t have long to wait.

“Come with me, I want to show you something.”

Her voice was deep and husky with desire. It touched upon his ear like a soft caress. Goose bumps trickled slowly along his body. It took extreme force of will for him to stay where he was. From a mouth suddenly dry, he could only rasp out a shaky denial of this request. He meant to say more but the words hid fearfully in his throat.

She frowned. It was not a pretty frown.

“You will not? Don’t think I don’t know the reason you came to the decision you did. I, after all, was instrumental in causing it.”

Karl gave her the blackest look he could muster. She seemed to understand and smiled even more wickedly.

“No, I didn’t force it upon you. I merely nudged your unconsciousness here and there to get you to reach a decision you would have made anyway. Let’s just say I grew impatient for you to come to your senses and hurried things up a little bit.”

Her smile disappeared and she crossed her arms across her ample breasts.

“Now. I ask you again. Will you come?”

Finding his strength now that the initial shock had worn off, Karl raised himself into a sitting position on the couch. He glared at her defiantly, glad the conflict was close at hand and eager for a quick and final end to it all.

“Why would I go anywhere with you?”, Karl asked slowly.

Moving so quickly Karl had no time to react the apparition was upon him. Caught beneath her as she straddled him, his head grasped firmly in her hands, Karl could only gape up at her incredulously. His horror increased as he saw tears begin to trickle down her face. Tears of blood. He struggled, but she held fast with a strength that belied her fragile appearance.

She looked down at him with a face full of sorrow.

“Now look what you’ve done. You’ve hurt my feelings lover.”

She spoke with a deeper voice and he saw the gleam of sharp canines. He looked away.

“Do not look away from me again!”, she hissed menacingly, jerking Karl’s head up and putting her face so very close to his. Karl had no choice but to stare into her baleful eyes. The bloody tears trickled slowly down her face, gathered for a moment, then fell with a tiny splash on his chin. He was impaled upon her gaze.

“I know how you feel about me; you want to be rid of me but you can’t. Not until you accept me and what I am. You called out to me and I answered and I will not leave you now!”

“I never called out for a monstrosity like you!” Karl barely managed to rasp out through his constricted throat. The entity seemed to notice that she was choking Karl and pushed him back against the couch. She smiled down at him.

“Ah, but that is where you are wrong my love. You did call to me and I could not resist your call. I was enthralled. We loved.”

The entity reached for his face, again bringing hers close to his.

“And then you began forcing me to destroy you.”, she whispered.

Karl couldn’t keep the shocked look off his face.

I forced—,” Karl couldn’t even finish his sentence; the idea was too ludicrous.

“I am what you make me. You brought me to life with your own needs and desires. I’m everything you wish for.”

“Then why are you driving me out of my mind?” Why are you killing me?”

“I see that you still do not understand the way things are. You never shall until finally you agree to come with me to find the origins of your need. You created me, so you are killing yourself. I am simply your chosen means of self-destruction. I’m crying for you because I need your acceptance or you will die. Do you truly wish to die? Can’t you see that you are forcing me to kill you?”

“Your tears are of blood.”

“They’re for you.”

She rubbed her face against his mouth, brushing the salty blood in between his lips then covering them with her own.

“Taste it. Taste how you make me feel. The feeling comes from my heart as does the blood. Taste my blood, taste my feelings.”, she said seductively.

Suddenly, he found his will to move and threw her from him. He jumped up and turned on her.

The Land of NeverWas

all the Important Moments that pass you by that you never even realize.

things that Might Have Been.

a missed Opportunity, a mistaken Glance, the times you should have Said something but your mouth refused to Open….and vice versa. the Love of your life walking Right by you, Looking for you, but Fading away into another Might Have Been.

a tiny second gone Forever, Never to be revisited.

hell would be watching all the things that Might Have Been in your life and realizing you Missed so, so much.

gone.

and then NeverWas.

it all depends upon you….

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