Monthly Archives: May 2013

Transparency

“So you see,” he said, “you have to see, it’s all very reasonable.”

He was adjusting the double Windsor knot of his tie. She was brushing on rouge, free hand cupped around the mirror. She squinted into the silvered glass as if nearsighted, constantly readjusting her fingers.

“He’s a leader among men, and a damn surefire candidate for the Whitehouse if I says so myself. When someone like that says ‘follow me,’ you follow. They want accountability? Fine! He’ll make us all accountable.”

He leaned into his reflection as he spoke, as if he were addressing it and not her.

“Transparency. Helluva thing. Whoever invented it must be a genius. Accountability for the little man, not just the bigwigs. Everyone equal.”

She winced.  He looked over at her for the first time since he’d started speaking.

She was still fumbling with her compact. In the past few days she’d acquired a wrung-out look, as if she was aging rapidly and gracelessly into her mother. Thank God they didn’t have kids.

He approached her slowly, kissing her on the cheek while accidentally-on-purpose knocking the mirror from her hands. Light flooded through the see-through plastic casing, rendering the mirror useless again. She looked stricken.

“It had to happen,” he told her, “sooner or later.”

He worked at an ad firm. That afternoon, he swelled with pride as the new walls were brought in. Water-clear, high-impact plastic. Space-age stuff. Scratchless, ageless, peerless. He caught his boss’s gaze for a moment and noticed a split-second grimace. He didn’t understand it. Who could live with secrecy in this day and age? He shrugged it off and went back to his desk. The secretary probably had a matching grimace, no more late lunches in the executive lounge.

He answered the phone in his best radio baritone. “Briggs advertising, coming in crystal-clear.”

One-and-a-half months into the project, and he strutted to work. It had been strange at first, like new shoes or an athletic cup. You saw fewer and fewer people walking hunched into themselves, cowering form their fellow man. He whistled his way down third avenue. No more taking the subway, hiding your nose in a book. He gave a congenial nod to the people in an eighth floor restaurant who followed him with their eyes.

Three months in, he came home to find his wife sitting listlessly on the edge of their mattress, blouse undone and breasts hanging loose. All the bedclothes had been kicked to the floor. Her hair was a brushfire and she was staring through the wall, out past the outlines of neighboring buildings. He spoke to her like a spooked horse, guiding her once-firm breasts back into their control top. He noticed a man across the way watching, right hand occupied by a rapid back-and-forth motion. He cursed him momentarily, before turning back to his wife.

She wasn’t taking it well. Some people just weren’t.

You had those kooks who protested the act by going around in Halloween masks, not even taking them off to shower. In retaliation, they became known by their masks’ moniker. The downtown area was home to several Richard M. Nixons, along with a plenitude of clowns, werewolves, gaunts, ghouls, and even one distressing character who went around in a dyed-black potato sack a la the Zodiac killer.

The people who tried painting their walls hadn’t lasted very long. Nothing, not house paint, not tar, not even wallpaper stuck more than an hour. Some showered fully clothed. Some did all their household tasks facing deliberately away from the street. He couldn’t let that happen to her, let her become a punch line. He coaxed her to lay back, accept the sedative and the glass of water. Her eyes lay open long after she succumbed to sleep, as if traveling up through the floors above them, all the way past the clear skylight of the roof, away, away.

Six months in, a body hit the pavement in front of him.

He was shocked, of course. You heard about it all the time, but you never expected to experience it. She, he, whoever it was, had wrapped themselves in several layers of thick canvas cloth. The paramedic tried peeling it away, but the last layer resisted.

“They’ve sewn it to their own skin!” he exclaimed.

The crowd cried out in disgust.

“Shameful!” one woman called.

The desire not to be seen, even in death, was becoming an epidemic. Even after the first few public dissections. Posters lined the subways and bus terminals: WRAPPING IT UP? NOT FOR LONG.

Yet every day brought more like her.

He reached work shaken and slipped into his cubicle without nodding hello to anyone. Behind the sign “Am I in? See for yourself,” the main office was empty. His boss was still being held for attempted curtaining. A mountain of crumpled tissues dominated the secretary’s desk.

The day the senator was convicted of hiring curtain runners to hide his last conversation with his dying mother, he ran all the way home. He brimmed with news down hallways where all his neighbors turned to look away from him, from each other, to nothing.

“Honey!” he burst in the door. A tap trickled somewhere distant. She was on the bed.

For a moment he dove his face into her hair, inconsolable. Then his brain began working again.

How would the police know he hadn’t done it? Did he have a motive? Had he spoke harshly of her to people? Did he have an alibi? The gears of his mind ground as he found that he could not prove, without a shadow of doubt, that he hadn’t killed his wife.  The neighbors hadn’t been watching, obviously, otherwise they would have called him. He could have walked down this hall a thousand times. He shook. He cried. And then he was calm.

They broke down the door after his neighbors complained of the smell. They came across him, still peeling away, in mid-lecture.

“—and you see, the solution was obvious. Transparency. Beauteous! Simple! Trans-par-en-cy!” he flicked red from his fingers at them. “Take away the walls and what are you left with? Nothing but the truth. Nothing but the bare meat of fact. Nothing could be more innocent. You see, gentlemen, you see the whole matter laid out, sans confundi, sans everything but what you observe. Accountability. Look closely gentlemen, do you see any trace of a motive?”

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Sky Burial

“Why do we bury people in the sky, father?”

Babli clung to a framework and hung forward, straining like a kite at the wind. He had his mother’s fine bones.

Nur pressed his finger to a sisal knot so it would not untie while he answered his son’s question.

“Because it makes God happy.”

“Oh.” The boy watched with mute fascination, tonguing the gaps where his incisors would grow.

Nur finished the monkey’s head knot, the one that would last for five years of wind and rain and sun bleach, and turned to ruffle his son’s hair.

“We used to bury them, Babli, like your friends from the south. But God was not happy that we hid his children from his sight.”

Babli sucked his lips through the gap. “Those by the river burn them.”

Nur sucked air over his teeth. “A far worse thing than hiding them. Your friends may count themselves lucky God does not care about them. What else do they say?”

“Nothing.” Nur grunted and nodded as if that were the end of it. He waited as the boy fidgeted.

“Only—”

He grimaced to the planking before him.

“They say God does not exist. They bring colored pictures of their gods. They look like people, papa.”

Nur ran a kindly hand through his son’s hair. His father would not have been so understanding, Nur as a lad would have been cuffed by now, but Mera had borne children late and Knur could not bring himself to raise a hand against the boy.

“They look like people, yes, and they are fragile like people. Look at the basin god. Tanned as a farmer. How long has he been around? One, maybe two generations. God has been here longer than that. Before us, even.”

“What does God look like, then?”

Ah, this was an easy answer. “Like the headman tells you, child. God looks like all of us, for he is made of all of us. He will look like you when he calls me home, and he will look like me when he calls for me. Do you understand?”

Babli nodded, face pinched.

“Good boy. Now, give me that thread.”

With the cotton thread he bound an infant to the cradleboard, making sure its eyestones stayed in place. There were three that day, a woman, a boy, and the infant.

“Will I look like that when I see God, papa?”

Babli’s strange melancholy perturbed him. “One would hope you would be in such good shape. Broken bodies make god sad. But no, Babli, you will look like an old man when God calls to you.”

As it turned out, he was not even a young man when God called to him and the Hill people descended on the village, churning the earth into red mud. Nur watched the fires bank from his high perch and ran to fetch his wife, who had been at market when they attacked. He met a young warrior, philtrum pierced with an owl feather, and took a throwing stick to the head. Nur went down but did not die. The young man set to beating him with a stout club, but his call was not strong enough and Nur woke at dark.

It was oddly peaceful. He limped to his home and saw not a single living thing stir. Glutting themselves on the stored harvest, the raiders had set fire to the livestock, breaking every tool in the village. They mightn’t have bothered. Nur called and called until his head throbbed, but to no avail.

He allowed himself the luxury of weeping in the nest of his murdered kin, but not for long. His was never a sentimental kind. One by one, he dragged the bodies uphill, to the giving-place. As he did it he thanked the lord that the infidels hadn’t set fire to the slaughtered, added insult to injury.

He had only ever set up a platform big enough for thirty, when spring snowmelt had swelled the river and eaten the bridge to the fields. His father had managed eighty, the year of the famine. But now he had to stop and wait every few minutes until his vision stopped doubling itself, build a grave for his entire village without even a boy for help.

It was he alone who tied their sisal navel cords, who lifted and stacked and tied. He stole lumber from the outbuildings to make up for the store. He smeared the paste that was a mixture of butter and clay on their faces, so God would know them. He wept himself dry as he prepared the bower for his wife, placing their son in her arms like a suckling child.

They returned in the late morning and found him by a coop. He had been struggling to lift one more piece of lumber and his head had finally given up on him. They woke him by dashing cold water, then hot tea in his face.

He seemed unafraid to see them, which they were unused to. They slapped him about the head and asked him where his people were.

His smile pulled like a grimace over broken teeth. “With God.”

That earned him another slap. “God,” sneered a warrior, “you people have no god that I see. Where was he when we took your riches?”

Nur spread his hands as if to show how empty they were. They dunked him in the trough just until he lost air, and then let him up.

They bound his hands and feet and left him next to the coop while they argued what to do with him. They were still arguing when the noise came.

It was the sound of straining, of thousands of weight being lifted all at once. There was a look of grim satisfaction on Nur’s face.

Once of the warriors held out a skinning knife. Its edge caught the warm of the sun.

“No tricks, savage,” he hissed, “tell me where your people are.”

Nur looked him straight in the eye, cold and clear. “With God.”

And from the cliffs, a sound of something mighty descending on many, many, many little feet.

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Threads from some random forum

Thread author: burtonfanxx
Subject:hey

Hey guys I know this is a longshot but im looking for that relly good creepypasta that one this guy posted here a fe years ago? It started out with the guy saying he was goin to be in a whole lot of trouble at his job but it was getting too bad and h

Reply: burtonfanxx

Sorry I got cut off (damn character limit) anyway he posted it along with all these sick pictures of peple in these weird neckbraces and messed-up faces and they were all realy good photoshops imean it looked like he took them in somebodys dusty basm

Reply: burtonfanxx

-ment and they all had their pupils blown out like they were on drugs I saved a few but that was like three computers ago and anyway I don’t want the pictures I want the story that went along with them

Any takers?

Reply:imnotspock

Hey again guess I messed up my password too many times lol got locked out of my account so had to make this new one. So anyway anyone remember that guy? Said he worked for some government branch I think he mentioned mk-ultra at one point but this was

Reply:imnotspock

something new and even more fucked up like they went past drugs and into some weird body mod thing there were people there with only haf a face and I think he mentioned operaton paperclip idk what that is but he was really scared and said that he was

Reply:imnotspock

having horrible nitemares where those people got out and he was scared of his boss’s who were forcing him to keep workng an he was pretty sure they tapped his phone and he was rwiting it from someoneelse’s house  and he had no idea what the govenment

Reply:imnotspock

wanted them for he said it was like a kid burning ants with a magnifying glass at this point and one of the other researchers went missing around the time they got a new test subject and he could’t tell if it was him because theyd cut its face off an

Reply:imnotspock

d its tongue and voicebox. That was one of the pictures. I remember it ended with him capslocking that we all needed to spread the word about what they were doing and then the user got b& for no reason like this was the only thing he posted and he di

Reply:imnotspock

dn’t even swear or nothing. The thread was gone by the next day too, but I thought a bunch of people got caps but I don’t see any old users so I figured you got locked out like me, lol. Please help, I’ve been losing sleep thinking about this and I fe

thread locked
Thread author: imnotspock
Subject:what the f?

Man where did my thread go it was up on the front page and then it disapeared? Someone let the mods know they havn’t been answering my pm’s. can someone please anser me that stupid firefly thread got 300 posts in one day and I haven’t even gotten one

Thread locked
Mode set: ban
User:imnotspock

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There Goes the Neighborhood

“The worst thing,” Scott Rutherford started in like a foghorn set to ‘nag’, “THE worst thing is the lack of respect. For us. The community.” He warmed to his subject, turningto his captive audience of NA members. “we can’t let this slide just because they’re foreigners.”

To Scott’s credit, the word did not come out as it would had Jake’s father said it: two-syllable, dull: furriners. The implication oozed behind it just the same, though.

Jake raised his hand and spoke at the same time., “Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t they from Kingsport?”

He was ignored.

A ruddy-complexioned fat man whose name always escaped Jake leaned forward and, with the weight of a criminal verdict, hissed, “They’re letting their lawn go to seed.”

“Really,” Jake said, “my god. The poor children.”

This earned him an appraising look from Scott, who Jake was fairly sure did not understand sarcasm as a concept.

The vote was 26-1 to send their neighbors the dreaded orange slip(“not a pink slip obviously and orange is such a happy color. More of a tangerine than safety orange.”) about yard transgressions, one of many unauthoritated slips Jake dubbed “the passive-aggressive rainbow.” God help their new neighbors should orange give way to fireball fuchsia.

Jake and his wife Hazel pulled into their #8 Neo-Dutch colonial, terra-cotta shingled, “bright heather” Olympic paint house that night, and Jake marveled at the sheer uselessness of it all. The “yard” of the house(something his grandfather would have scoffed at) barely superseded the house itself, more like green welcome mat. He was close enough to hear Glen and Phyllis Glenfidditch every time the whoopee train pulled into the station.

“…and it’s one thing not caring whether your neighbors hear,” he called to the bedroom, “but they leave the window open while they do it. And the lawn thing? Jeezus.”

Hazel’s mild reprove carried even from the king-sized posturepedic bed: “well, it’s what we signed up for. Extra security, extra-nice looking neighborhood. It’s all part of the bargain.”

Hazel had filled to the brim with mild platitudes around the time they moved into this place. He had a sneaking suspicion it was to cover the fact that she only moved them here to pacify her parents, still grandchildless.

Jake probed a thin patch on his scalp and wondered if this place wasn’t aging him prematurely.

“Security’s one thing,” he said, coming out of the bathroom and clicking the light off behind him, “but when a group of full-grown adults are ready to filet a man over the state of the grass in his yard—”

Hazel made her cross-eyed kitty face, her signal that she no longer cared for the discussion, and said, “ugh, give it a rest, already. My head hurts.”

My soul hurts, Jake almost said back and bit his tongue. Her moue developed into a smile and she patted the bed beside her.

“C’mon, loverboy,” she whispered breathily, “I hear there’s a big, bad, burglar on the loose and I need some comfort.”

That night, astride his wife of three years and trying to maintain an erection, Jake wondered if this place wasn’t making him dull, too.

Scott had been a volunteer fireman for twenty-five years, owned a landscaping firm that he’d founded with his bare hands, and had boxed in high school. If he gave any sign that the Sycamore Crescent Neighborhood Association was not the best use of his talents, Jake had never seen it.

He eyed the offending yard the next day from his Subaru, “on his way to work.” He left early on weekdays now, before Hazel got into reality TV mode.

The family that had moved in were reclusive, to say the least. No one had seen anyone but the (Father? Oldest brother? Gimp?) man who had signed the rent agreement since they’d moved in. Their stuff had arrived before them, unloaded by taciturn, hirsute men who had grunted at nosy questions.

For a second, he could see a stiff-necked, thin-lipped face peer from behind a cloth curtain near the front door. Jake lifted his hand. The curtain dropped.

Peculiar-looking bunch, if he was anything to go by. If he had ever stood up straight, he might be taller than even Scott, but the man curled over himself like a shrimp cocktail, peering up at everyone past the bridge of his nose.

The lawn looked crispy. Jake shook himself and left before things got ugly.

At dusk he returned. Scott was ostensibly watering his begonias when he walked past, though he was so otherwise occupied they might as well have had gills.

“There,” he nodded toward the yard, trembling with passion, “completely brown.”

“I dunno, Scott,” Jake kidded, “seems more like a festive ochre or even a mustard.”

A pained look passed over Scott’s still-handsome features. “No matter where it is on the chart, it means only one thing.”

“Yield to pedestrians?”

A puzzled look graced Scott’s brow. “No, Jacob. Death. Pretty soon they’ll pass the point of no return, have to re-sod the whole thing. Cost a pretty penny.” The look on his face clearly indicated that the crime of not listening to your neighbors on the omnipresent subject of lawn care carried with it a just penalty. Jake had to restrain himself from thwapping Scott upside the head with his ridiculous watering wand. The fact that he still seemed to consider Jake a confidant after reporting his unauthorized trash bins and incurring him a fee of $180 for contract breach showed that the shuttle had left radio contact long ago.

Suddenly Scott straightened upright, hose sinking in his fist. “My Gosh.” He said, and Jake withheld a snicker. “What is he—no.”

Jake looked up at what hideous infraction his neighbors were committing. The man had strode with lopsided gait to the curb and was now in the process of securing the ties of a safety-orange garbage bag that stood on the curb.

Something inside Scott broke. “No.” he whispered with deathly finality. He snapped into a businesslike stride, chin out like the prow of a ship.

“No,” he called before him, “I’m sorry—no! Yes you! Come back here, please!”

Jake watched Scott barge primly into the neighbor’s yard, walking up to where the man had paused in  a half-turn, regarding Scott out of dead wet eyes. A small but intense conversation was carried out, with much furious gesturing on Scott’s part, and dull regard from the other man. Jake noticed the mailbox now had a name. Gilman. Funny. He did look a bit fishy, now that he thought about it. Didn’t seem to be too big on blinking, either.

With the slow, gradual ease of a tai chi move, Gilman made his first contribution to the conversation with a sweeping gesture towards the still-open front door. Scott’s posture said he’d be delighted, thank you, and quick-marched towards the front door, buttocks firmly clenched together. Gilman followed with no apparent hurry.

Jake ate risotto with stir-fried asparagus that night and kept one eye out the window, but still he did not see Scott leave the Gilman’s. He hoped he wasn’t being too rough on the newcomers. It had been an adjustment for them, too, moving into what amounted to a silicon valley ant farm from their apartment lives. He had a sneaking suspicion Hazel hated as much as him, the gawkers, the nosers, everybody in everybody’s business, but in her world this was the natural progression for people their age. Grow up, get job, lose all personality, move to suburb.

“Fuck this,” he said to the mirror the next morning, as he did every morning now, “fuck it, fuck them, fuck him.” He lathered his reflection away.

That morning as he backed the SAAB from the driveway, he noticed Gilman out in his yard for the first time since the move. He was watering an oddly verdant patch on the lawn with a ridiculous-looking water wand. The lush growth was suspiciously human-shaped.

Jake had no idea how long he’d sat there until Gilman turned to look at him. Neither spoke. Then, slowly, Jake raised his hand and curled it into a thumbs-up. Gilman cocked his head to the side, gazing levelly at him, before raising his hand in a mirrored gesture. His thumbs were barbed by nail-thin claws.

Waving merrily, Jake drove to work.

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