romance, short stories, women

Cerebral Electrical Silence (The Transformation Episode 22)

transformation_by_oilcorner.jpg

https://www.deviantart.com/art/Transformation-79544245

Previous episodes are here:

https://mbblissett.com/thetransformation/

Kelly looked out of the window. Her skin was tender to the touch and she had tried to keep herself forward. The discomfort had deepened and John sat with her, holding her hand as the plane descended.

 

‘It’s bad isn’t it?’ she said.

 

John rubbed his eyes as he leaned forward in the seat and squeezed her fingers.

 

‘I don’t know.’

 

His voice was soft and low, sluggish with the pills but she never got the sense of him retreating. He had taken charge and responsibility and here he was, in control of himself. He put his other hand over hers.

 

‘I’ve got a facility at my house. I built it myself and we can treat you there.’

 

Kelly tried to smile but a tight quiver ran through her and her throat grew dry. Her vision blurred and she saw John reach for her in slow motion before her eyelids grew heavy and she went deep into herself.

 

She awoke in slow rolls of her consciousness. Each time, she awoke to a host of demonic sensations. Her skin crawled and her joints throbbed with a sick, suckling agony. John drove them through the night as she sat and struggled not to scream with the pain.

 

She passed out again and she came to, with his arm around her and she struggled away from where his touch burned through her clothes. Her face burned and she did not want to look, but she felt burning slashes of caustic sensation run down her cheeks. Her tears stung but John guided her forward, telling her they were at his house.

 

Doors opened before them and she took a ragged breath as she breathed in clean, refrigerated air before she heard John’s voice at her ear.

 

‘Just breathe, Kelly. I’ve got you.’

 

She tried to focus, but the pain was too complete to allow her to do anything but black out in the face of it.

 

Jasper did not like waiting. He knew he served as a retainer but he enjoyed the relative utility of it. As nice as the hotel was, he had seen a shift in his value to the boss. It made him uneasy enough to see the suite as a holding cell over a base of operations.

 

‘No, we’re waiting to hear from Nixon about the company. We’re to find them both.’

 

He lit a cigarette and looked out onto the peach and orange sky. He was exhausted but Olivia had not called in and something pricked the animal sense of self-preservation which had helped him survive through the years.

 

‘Look order a fucking pizza but keep your head down until I call you.’ he said.

 

He ended the call and switched his phone off. He got up, went for a walk, slipping a Karambit curved knife into the holster under the tail of his shirt. He wasn’t stupid enough to go to the places where he needed a gun, but he never went unarmed.

 

Jasper walked a few blocks from the Marmont. Sunset Boulevard was ugly enough to fascinate him, being an Englishman who had never liked the place and joined the army to get out.

 

He got into the cab and told the driver where to go.

 

The driver, a tubercular Italian man with a shaved head and a small shaving cut on the back of his neck looked at him in the mirror.

 

‘Jasper. We thought you’d bailed on us.’

 

Jasper swallowed and took out his cigarettes but the driver shook his head.

 

‘No, not in here. You look troubled my friend, what’s up?’ he said.

 

Jasper glanced around and sucked air through his teeth.

 

‘I’ve met the boss.’ he said.

 

The driver raised his eyebrows and pouted as he gave a small appreciative nod.

 

‘And what?’

 

Jasper pulled his lips over his teeth and snorted with sudden amusement as he took out a cigarette.

 

‘We’re fucked.’ he said.

 

Kelly blinked as she stared up at the ceiling. John stood over her as he adjusted the IV to her right. The pain had gone and she could see again. She tried to speak but her throat was too tight.

 

‘Kelly, I’ve stabilised you but I have figured something out which affects us both.’

 

‘What is happening to you is neurological. Your brain is telling your body it is wrong. Something has infected a part of your brain. Mine, too.’

 

He picked up a cotton swab, daubed in water and ran it across her lips.

 

‘I don’t tell you this frighten you. I’ve survived it when I was thrown into a river and you will come through this.’

 

He stared into her eyes and the power of his gaze reached past the narcotic haze, without pain but also without feeling and it was a quiet touch to the centre of her.

 

‘I will save you.’ he said.

 

He would use barbiturates to arrest her cerebral function to minimize the trauma of the transformation.

 

‘By putting you into cortical electrical silence, your body will process it and I can monitor you until it’s over.’

 

She blinked twice and he used a swab to wipe away her tears.

 

‘I’ve established a line of nutrients. Amino acids, simple sugars and minerals as the process happens.’

 

He touched her cheek with his gloved fingers and blinked away tears.

 

‘I’ll see you on the other side of this, Kelly.’ he said.

 

She blinked twice then he adjusted the dosage and sat in the chair.

 

John had accepted being alone. He had conquered himself as much as his condition allowed. It did not stop him feeling a distaste at some parts of himself. Not flaws or sins but symptoms he had learned to control. He sat and wondered if he had passed it on to someone who had evoked a fierce and deep affection in him. He wanted to make her feel safe, to find the words to share with her something of himself.

 

The horrible irony was the fear he had.

 

4.

 

Olivia saw through an opaque film before she heard Amaro chuckle.

 

‘Breathe. You are adjusting.’

 

Olivia breathed and felt a dichotomy of sensations as she took three breaths, her lungs filling with a swift, clockwork effectiveness.

 

‘You have new organs. In the corners of your eyes are new muscles which control a third eyelid. It magnifies and allows you to see in other spectrums. It is interesting how it was the first thing I remembered.’

 

‘New eyes.’

 

She turned her head and saw him dressed in a white shirt. He looked tan and rested, the merest traces of the aquatic creature who had met with her. He smiled, showing even white teeth.

 

‘This is a transition period. The control will come to you but this is a time of rebirth and requires you to adjust.’

 

He rested his hand on her shoulder.

 

‘You are exquisite. I do not offer the gift of myself without consideration, Olivia. I reward those with use and I give you el serenidad de sangre.’

 

She twitched and the eyelids fluttered away into her sockets. The clean scent of his skin came to her with a surgical clarity. Around him sparked a seething corona of purple and black. A portrait of information twisted by age and density. He was a poem of terrible grandeur and ambition. He had taken to his transformation and rode it to the level of divinity.


‘Necesito un detective, Olivia para representar mis intereses sin mostrar mi mano demasiado pronto.’

(Agent) (actor) (representative) (investigator) (bond)

 

Her body hummed with strength and vitality. A poised relaxation, but she knew she was faster, stronger and the knowledge flows within her to use as a weapon. Her memories and knowledge came to her in bursts of a somatic language, architectural symbols which unfolded entire libraries of experience available with each breath.

 

Lo veo en ti ahora. El poder de esto, pero hay un costo para esta Olivia. Ofrezco pagar, pero debes aceptarlo.

(Offer – alteration and focus) (Power) (You have always felt apart. This is a natural progression of it)

She nodded and he rolled up his sleeves.

 

‘Sentirás una serie de dientes. Son efectivos para establecer el vacío cuando se alimenta. Lo he reducido a una vez al mes para mantenimiento, pero tendrá que alimentar con más frecuencia. Le proporcionaré los medios para hacerlo con discreción.’

(Such things demand concessions and terms) (Altered biology)(Hunger and the means to feed it) (You’d do worse for much less than this)

 

She sat up. It was the taste of real power and she wanted it. Her faculties would have faded and she feared a future sat rotting away alone turning yellow and resentful but now she push past herself into a state of sheer will.

 

Amaro turned and wheeled the young man into the room. His dark hair fell over his face in lank curtains and she saw the inked scars over his biceps. Golden filaments of hair on his tan stomach. He was somewhere between boy and man, a cocktail of nascent hormones and flavours which sparked a deep craving as she came forward.

 

The teeth slid forward and she felt Amaro’s hand on her head. She responded to the sensation without too much instruction. Her teeth slid forwards, hollow as a ring of muscles pumped blood through them into her system and converting them into fuel for her becoming. A minute and she was pulling back as he sagged in the wheelchair.

 

‘Alguien estaba muy hambriento’

 

Her eyes blazed with a horrible cold delight.

 

‘Where do I start, Mr Felipe?’ she said.

 

He pushed the chair away and pressed his hands together.

 

‘Find this man.’ he said.

 

5.

 

Yvonne walked through the forest. She had been elected last year, having done eight years with the Military Police before moving to Portland with her sister and served with the department for another five. It had been quiet but, she had done good work and people liked her. Yesterday had been a robbery foiled by a giant fucking dog and now she was trudging through the forest, looking at another six bodies across two locations in the same stretch of forest.

 

A fucking plane, too. Oh she would take shit for missing that off someone, she knew. Yvonne knew the world was cruel and random but this was a little too much to take. She had to beg for resources as it was but this was above her pay grade but she cared about these places.

 

She walked up a bank of earth and looked at the remains of the plane.

 

A deputy came up to her.

 

‘They’ve processed the video. You said for me to tell you when it came in.’

 

Yvonne nodded as she glanced down at the fuselage. Four of the six men had been killed the same way, she had figured.

 

Bitten by something big. Massive tissue damage to the abdomen or throat. The soft parts or ligaments to kill someone quick.

 

She figured she had an hour before the Bureau took over. It would be enough time to see the video, at least give herself a reason to be grateful things were moving out of her hands.

 

There were things people avoided if they were smart, she thought. Yet the idea of it was like a terrible fairy tale, and the woods could hide anything, which was why she came here. Still, she wanted to know something to help her not feel privy to something awful and random in the face of it. She got into the patrol car and drove back to the station.

 

Later on, she had dinner with her sister who knew better than to ask. They finished a jigsaw together and watched another episode of Orange Is The New Black before she talked about the video.

 

How big the dog was. Not like a dog at all. A wolf with the weight of a black bear, quiet and quick as it killed and disappeared.

 

Smart too, she told her sister.

 

Harriet chuckled and shook her head.

 

‘Sounds like a werewolf.’ she said.

 

Yvonne picked up a handful of popcorn and sat back on the couch. She did not pick a piece up as she stared at the screen and struggled with the possibilities.

 

6.

 

He walked over the ice.

 

A wave of fierce energy made him stop. The pressure in his skull grew to a shrill pitch and he gritted his teeth. His molars sparked with blue and white flashes of energy as he stood there, naked in the blizzard. With each hour, his skin had gained lustre without colour. It became a bleached buttery pelt draped over musculature which thickened and scarred until he had gained thirty pounds of muscle mass and an awful brutal beauty. Black fingernails and teeth until he was a study in negative.

 

He straightened up and flexed before he started to run.

 

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fiction, short stories, women

THERE IS A MAZE

Tammy had been Tommy.

 

She was not my first trans patient, but she was the youngest and the first in a case which appeared to be a response to trauma. I could not discount the factors involved and there had been hormone treatments to consider in terms of their impact on a child’s development.

.

 

Jacqui, her mother had thirty thousand followers on social media. Her feed had been pictures of Tammy and her, and a few of the photos and videos gave me pause. She brushed her purple fringe from over her eyes and grimaced at me.

 

‘She’s my world.’ she said.

 

She meant it too. Tammy had experienced less internalization of trauma because she had been allowed to present as her chosen gender in an environment where she had been accepted.

 

Accepted, in the way someone wouldn’t wrestle a crocodile without an audience. Tammy was my patient, I told myself. Not Jacqui. I stayed as clinical as possible with the parents. These days it felt like a faithless priest delivering absolutions they no longer believe in.

 

‘Jacqui,my concern is to get Tammy well again.’ I said.

 

Tammy had started screaming at three a.m on a Sunday morning. Jacqui had scrambled to her daughter’s room, found her sat up in bed and shrieking at the darkness. The paramedics had to sedate her, and then she came under my care.

 

Jacqui had said Tammy was having nightmares for a few weeks before, and her art had taken a darker turn, but she put it down to a recent fascination with Tim Burton. She was an imaginative and loving child, with no trauma to repress, according to her mother.  I asked if she could bring me any drawings or writings she had. Drawings would be useful, I told myself.

 

Jacqui brought me a sheaf of drawings and stories she had written. There was not much evidence of Tommy, bar a few pages of scribbles. Artless loops of primary colours carved into thick layers of black before he began to develop evidence of realism stage artistry. Expressing the girl he knew himself to be, Jacqui had whispered to me, as we sat in my office. We had spent an hour with Tammy in the day room but she had unresponsive, whispering the same phrase over and over.

 

There has always been a maze.

 

A minotaur lives there.

 

They were the only phrases she would speak. She was eight years old and when she wasn’t rocking back and forth, she would sit there and whisper those two phrases, like a skipped record.

 

I thanked Jacqui and told her I would continue to oversee her daughter’s treatment until we saw an improvement in her condition. On the way out, Jacqui asked me with dry eyes, what would happen if she did not get better. I smiled and tried to put my hand on her shoulder, but I could not bring myself to do it so I pointed my index finger as though I were about to make some profound point and then decided against it.

 

‘She’s getting the best possible treatment, Ms Banner.’ I said.

 

She smiled and nodded.

 

‘This sort of thing, it gets politicized, you know? You should see some of the things people have sent to me.’ she said.

 

Her grimace was perfect and then, only then did her eyes water.

 

I watched her walk to the car, phone held aloft as she narrated her day to the screen.

 

2.

 

I spread the drawings out. Jacqui had filed them in chronological order and I had bookmarked videos she posted on her social media, but those had not demonstrated anything beyond her playing for the camera, jumping at the chance to earn Jacqui’s cooing and billowing.

 

Her art was advanced and the expression of Tammy on paper was fuel for it.

 

It was the story she had drawn which gave me pause.

 

There was a repetition of the Tommy era drawing style, which I made notes on in terms of evidence of regressive episodes but scraped into the black was a white face.

 

A red nose.

 

White swollen hands.

 

The smile was a broken nightmare. Distended, broken teeth pointing in all directions.

 

Hair like horns on a forehead.

 

These were the most recent drawings. Jacqui had said she was into Tim Burton, watched The NIghtmare Before Christmas year round and dressed as Sally on Halloween twice in a row.

 

Three drawings of it at various points across each page. One on the left, one in the centre and another on the right, with its left arm out of the edge of the page. I swallowed, went back to the other pictures, saw the lines and details but they lacked the crude visceral glut of these three drawings.

 

I put everything away bar the three drawings.

 

My sleep was thin and restless. I woke up and my bedroom was freezing cold, but I slipped under again and only awoke when my alarm bleated at me to get up. The pillow was wet beneath my cheek. I had been crying.

 

3.

 

She swept the crayon across the page, a flicker of frustration crossing her face as she drew.

 

‘I know you don’t like the crayons, Tammy.’

 

Tammy fixed her gaze on the page. Her blonde hair hung in her face. She had allowed me to brush it this morning. A good day, and one I would type up in the driest of terms, whilst keeping the quiet pleasure of it for myself.

 

‘Pencils would be nice.’ she said.

 

Her voice went up at the end, and I looked at my satchel, concerned at bringing the pictures out to show her.

 

‘What do you like about drawing?’ I said.

 

She stopped and glared at me.

 

‘I’ve told you before, Kerry. It makes me happy.’ she said.

 

I sat forward and rested my forearms on my knees.

 

‘Are all your drawings happy, Tammy?’

 

The crayon broke in her fingers. She wiped her fingers against the paper and picked up a pink crayon, sketching in perspective and depth to the unicorn she was drawing.

 

‘Some of them.’ she said.

 

I reached and brought my satchel up, retrieved the pictures and laid them to my left, face down.

 

‘Now there some drawings which I thought we could talk about. Your mum says you drew them before you had your first episode.’

 

She nodded.

‘You’ve seen it.’ she said.

 

She continued to sketch details into the flanks of her unicorn.

 

I took a deep breath, my heart starting to race as I turned the first one over.

 

‘It’s moving through the maze. Sometimes, it sees me and that’s when I go away. Its why I won’t finish the fourth drawing. It looks like a clown but its a minotaur, it told me” she said.

 

I glanced at the lens set into the clock above the window. The afternoon light streamed in, warm and bright, but I shuddered as though I had been plunged into ice. Some expressions of ourselves appear alien to us and those feelings remain, no matter how you intellectualise them.

 

I put my hand over the drawing and put them back in my satchel. Tammy looked up at me.

 

‘You think I’m sick because of my mother, don’t you? It told me. It told me about my mother, because that’s how it got in.’ she said.

 

She said it all in a single breath before she stiffened like she had been electrocuted and I was on my feet, calling for help as I put her in the recovery position.

 

Jacqui came to the hospital. She had a friend with her, pear shaped with a shaved head and greasy lipstick, who tried to film everything. I told her I did not agree to be filmed in any capacity, and I was there in a professional capacity. At some point, I shut my eyes and turned away.

 

The seizures had stabilised but she remained unresponsive. I took a cab back to my office and typed my notes up until my head throbbed with each word and I had to sit with the shades drawn. After the pain eased, I wept with my head in my hands. One of the nurses poked her head around the door and told me to go home before they committed me. I wanted to laugh with her so I avoided her gaze and muttered something about it being a hard, long day.

 

I took some pills to help me drift off and my chemical surrender felt like a defeat.

 

There was dirt beneath my feet, cold and sticking to the soles of my feet. I looked around and saw walls of palsied white marble, coated in lichen and reaching high into the sky.

 

Tammy ran past me, wearing a dirt-stained smock with her long blonde hair streaming behind her. She turned and looked at me.

 

‘It’s old, Kerry. It lives in the middle of a maze and if you find your way there, it makes you choose what happens to you. I chose right when it asked me.’

 

Her eyes widened in the gloom.

 

‘Make the right choice. Now you need to run.’ she said.

 

Something roared behind us and I felt the ground shake as it moved out of the darkness.

 

I awoke, drenched in sweat and decided to try something to save her.

 

I dressed and went back to the clinic, making an excuse about some reports I needed for a hearing in the morning. The orderly was too tired to argue so he waved me through. I went to my office.

 

I took out the drawings laid them out left to right then I stood up and reviewed them.

 

Children had florid imaginations which removed an element of clinicity from my work, they spoke in simple phrases and elemental symbols. I went over to my printer and took out a sheet of paper then went back to the day room and found some crayons. I picked some up, tried to imagine the warmth of her fingers on them and went back to my office.

 

I used most of the black, had to use my keys to gouge out the shapes, but I tore through the paper in a few places and my fingers were soon oiled with smears of black crayon. I filled in the gaps with colour where I needed it, but I lacked her skill with art.

 

I finished the sequence.

 

I stood back and saw my own breath as a plume of mist as I shivered and wrapped my arms around my chest.

 

‘WELCOME TO THE MAZE.’

 

It was a voice more felt than heard. It hummed in the pit of my stomach and spat bitterness up with each word it spoke. No wonder she had broken beneath it.

 

‘LEFT OR RIGHT?’

 

I looked at the last drawing.

 

I had let it out. Clown or demon, it was here, violating my sanity with its existence.

‘I am aware this might be a reaction to the incident today. I accept that about myself.’

 

It chuckled, a clotted rough thing which made me want to vomit. My headache returned as I stared around the room, shivering with the cold.

 

‘THIS IS HAPPENING, DOCTOR. LEFT OR RIGHT.’

 

I backed against the wall of my office, fighting the urge to cry.

 

‘Left.’

 

It chuckled again. I had chosen Jacqui because I thought she was exploiting her child for attention. I did not think about what that meant at the time. Fear made things simple.

 

‘NONE OF YOU ARE SAFE. I COULD HAVE TAKEN THE CHILD.’

 

I shook my head, decided I needed to get out of the office and see who could help me.

 

‘DOCTOR, SHE IS SAFE. WHOLE.’

 

Something broke in me then and I sobbed as I flung open the door, into the arms of an orderly who bellowed for help as I pressed against my face against their chest, grateful beyond words for someone real to speak to.

 

4.

 

No one mentioned the fourth drawing. It allowed me some hope of a career.

 

Especially when, after eight weeks in a private facility on the coast, I was introduced to the events since my psychotic episode.

 

Jacqui and her friend. They spared me the details but as part of my reintroduction to independence, I had internet access.

 

Someone took them to pieces.

 

Or something. Their bones had been cracked open, the marrow sucked out amidst other details which had been kept from the public. It was a naive belief in the face of a ceaseless quest for novelty and horror. It had convinced me to finish the sequence.

 

Tammy’s catatonia remained constant. Jacqui had been estranged from her family due to her activism and later, celebrity. They were applying for guardianship of her, back to Arizona and their church. The comments were interesting. I could consult, I was told, but there was a reluctance to allow me to practice directly with children again. I agreed with them and asked if I could go back to the clinic and pick up some personal items before taking some vacation time.

 

I was escorted but a chubby ten year old ran headfirst into a wall, and my orderly barked at me to stay there as he ran to assist, I slipped away down to the long term ward.

 

I took her hand in both of mine. It was warm but inert like a doll.

 

‘Tammy, its gone. It doesn’t want you anymore.’

 

Her fingers twitched and she blinked as she smacked her lips.

 

‘I know. You let it out, and it found someone else to eat.’ she said.

 

Her voice was a flat whisper.

 

‘Tammy, I know you’re not sick. I think I am, but that’s not your fault.’

 

She tried to sit up and so I slipped my arms around her. She whispered something into my ear and then pulled back and began to scream. I drew back with my hands pressed to my ears as she stared at me, shrieking like I had tried to murder her.

 

We were still in the maze. Except the minotaur was now an eight year old child, who had lured me into a compromising position which I could never explain. My life was ruined by a single act of kindness tinged with arrogance.

 

I should have chosen right.

 

Standard
fiction, politics, short stories

A Thanksgiving Guest

Paul sat on the kerb, staring out at nothing, shuddering despite the blanket wrapped around him.The African medallion hung from his neck. There was a single drop of blood splattered across it. Detective Harris stood across from him as she kept an eye on the CSUs processing the scene. He glanced up, brown eyes watering and bulging in their sockets before he ran his tongue over his lips.

 

‘You got a cigarette?’he said.

 

She handed him a soft pack of Marlboro Lights. He took one but his hands shook too much to light it. Harris lit it for him and he inhaled with a junkie enthusiasm. When he thanked her, his voice was soft and mannered.

 

He told her what happened.

 

He put it as a joke tweet. A list of priced services to provoke reactions. Running up on your creepy uncle cost twenty dollars. Mentioning Black Lives Matter and giving hard stares at anyone who challenged him was ten dollars. He said he would bring a plate and microwave it. He referenced Ving Rhames in ‘Baby Boy’ over Sidney Poitier in ‘Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner’.

 

Erin Mayhew sent him a direct message and a few messages later, dropped a chunk of change in his bank account. A photo of her made the prospect appealing. Paul thought she was pretty with curled blonde hair and a full, soft build running to fat although her social media feeds were a little confrontational, even for him.

 

Harris noted how he paused afterwards before she asked him to continue.

 

He picked her up from her dorm, driving an SUV and she kept touching his knee on the drive down. Paul looked away and Harris asked him what happened.

They had fucked in the back seat, and Paul felt a little objectified even as she came three times. It was, he admitted, the only time she stopped talking about how awful her family were.

He took the sealed plate of ribs, chitlins, collared greens and cornbread in and adopted a rolling, beligierent swagger as Erin giggled and whispered how he should go all in on Trump. The money was good and it would be a good story to share online later, he told himself.

 

The table was heaving with food and a centrepiece which was a clamshell draped with twigs and dried flowers sprayed silver and gold. Erin’s parents, David and Maria were soft, polite people who struggled to make eye contact and when Paul passed his plate, his stomach soured with distaste as he stared out David without speaking.

Erin grinned with an awful mania as they sat down. Paul told the detective how her uncle wore a MAGA hat at the table, and spoke to Paul about the last Kendrick Lamar album. They were polite to him and every cent he earned came up to haunt him. It was awkward and his nerves made his performance halting and inconstant but he believed things would pan out for the best.

 

Which was when the jar of vicodin came out. Erin’s aunt Laura had a back injury and good insurance, dished out the pills from her purse and Paul shook his head when she offered. Erin took two and frowned at Paul before she said something to her uncle Eddie about Roy Moore.

 

Paul cringed at Erin’s zeal before he noted how much it was reflected in her uncle and father’s arguments. They repeated talking points gleaned from the internet, their voices rising and falling as they scored points off one another. Paul saw sympathetic glances thrown his way from Laura and mother but he kept moving his stale cornbread around the plate and kept silent.

 

The hairs went up on the nape of his neck when he heard three words which haunted him.

 

Black lives matter.

 

All lives matter.

 

He studied his plate like a midterm and wished he had been anywhere else than at the Mayhew Thanksgiving dinner.

He asked Harris for another cigarette before he carried on. His hands shook harder and tears ran down his cheeks as he continued.

What broke the moment was Erin mentioning the Trump admission recorded by Billy Bush, which was cue for Laura to defend Kevin Spacey and her sister turned, indignant and spraying flecks of turkey and sweet potato as she stated how her sister always resented her theatrical talent.

Paul said he was relieved when the argument became personal rather than political but the observation lasted as long as it took for Laura to reach into her purse and take out something other than pain medicine.

Just pain, he said.

The Walther had a lady grip and it looked small in her hands as she lowered the barrel at her sister’s chest and pulled the trigger.

Mrs Mayhew’s mouth formed into a perfect oh as she fell backwards, clutching her chest. Paul flew back from the table as Laura turned and fired at her husband, his red MAGA hat popped off his head with the force of the bullet.

Erin smiled as her aunt shot her in the forehead.

Mr Mayhew wrestled with her, his thick hands dwarfed hers before she fired into the rounded bulk of his midsection and he slumped forwards, making choking sounds as he bled over the table.

‘Did you like the centrepiece?’ Laura said.

Her voice was a rasping screech as she pointed the gun at him. He nodded with as much enthusiasm as his terror allowed him. She had borrowed it from a picture Ivanka posted before she turned the gun on herself.

 

He butted the cigarette out and looked up at the detective. The best ideas start as jokes, and so do some of the worst.

Harris sat down on the kerb and asked about his family. He said they argued and loved with the same volume and his father had voted for Trump but he had his reasons.

‘Families are fucking weird.’ he said.

 

Harris smiled and nodded. She’d left her house after her husband had let their daughter pull down a tray of brownies from the kitchen table whilst he was playing with his phone and she had read him the riot act. She gave him the rest of the pack of cigarettes and gestured for the paramedics to come back to him.

‘Happy Thanksgiving.’ she said.

Paul wept as she walked away.

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beauty, fairy stories, love, short stories, women

A Messenger (The Wild Man Season 2)

Once upon a time, Paul sat on his throne and listened to the complaints of his people. The love they had for his brother had not translated to him although his reign had been peaceful albeit marked by tragedy.

 

A messenger arrived. She passed a scroll to him, curtsied despite wearing leggings and a leather tunic, pitted with scars and left, adjusting her cap as she went onto her next errand.

 

Paul unrolled the parchment and swallowed, surprised by the news to find himself affronted by it. He tucked the parchment into his robes and finished the last hour shuddering with concern.

 

2.

 

Eilhu had food brought to him, fresh clothes each day and he noted how their quality had improved. The tailoring and material gained opulence, but he preferred his own clothes and had the guard pass the opinion on.

 

He would look out onto the courtyard, see the small and teeming garden set in the corner and feel pangs of harsh sadness. Eilhu had never tended to it. His childhood eyes saw the world around him but his adult heart mistrusted with a feral potence.

 

Eilhu resolved to return to Mirabelle and find out who murdered her father. He would demand access to The Wild Man and determine his involvement, and as he looked out onto the courtyard, his body hummed with the relief of action.

 

Paul came to him after supper, wreathed in candlelight and dressed in a simple robe, leaning upon a cane and gasping with each step.

 

‘I am sorry I could not attend to you sooner, Eilhu.’ he said.

 

Eilhu looked up from the plate and ran his hand through his hair.

 

‘I wish to leave.’ he said.

 

Paul took a chair and asked Eilhu to pour him some water. Eilhu peered at his uncle, seeing the drawn expression of someone bearing untold burdens. He poured water for him and walked over.

 

‘I know you do, Eilhu.’ he said.

 

Paul’s voice was weary, low and quiet. He looked up at Eilhu and took the cup from him in both hands.  

 

‘But there’s no point now.’ he said.

 

Eilhu sucked in a wounded breath, muscles hardening into armour as he stepped back.

 

‘There’s always a point.’ he said.

 

Paul drank and rested the cup on his knees, both hands clutching it for comfort.

 

‘Eilhu, I received a message this morning. It brought grave news. I must pass it onto you.’ he said.

 

Eilhu shuddered, his skin crawling with unease as he sat on the bed. The food turned into a hot, sour mass in the pit of his stomach. He breathed through it and looked at his uncle.

 

Paul raised his chin and looked at his nephew.

 

‘Queen Mirabelle is dead. Murdered by her apothecary.’ he said.

 

The words stabbed Eilhu in the heart, turned the blade with exquisite, slow precision to widen the wound. It sent burning worms through his veins, robbing him of everything beyond the need to curl up and stare into nothing.

 

He rolled onto his side, turning his head from side to side.

 

Paul got up and set the cup on the table. He nodded once and left without speaking.

 

He went into the hidden chambers beneath the castle, unlocked the door with his key and stood in the dried blood markings on the floor.

 

‘What have you done?’ he said.

 

The darkness in the room pooled, rippling like water kissed by moonlight and slid towards him.

 

‘Protecting our interests.’ it said.

 

Paul sighed and pressed his fingers into the hollows of his eyes.

 

‘You’ve made things difficult for me.’ he said.

 

He felt the air in the room grow brittle and crisp, leaching the warmth from his skin with a violent insistence.

 

‘We can make things very difficult for you, your highness.’ it said.

 

Paul took in a deep breath, chanted in a guttural language which made the darkness hum with energy before it retreated.

 

‘Their apothecary is dead and we used him to murder the queen. It is rare we get to have fun, Paul. It’s a useful development.’ it said.

 

Paul got to his feet and rubbed his hands together. His wounds throbbed from the cold but he was thinking ahead.

 

‘Please, no more surprises. They test my constitution.’ he said.

 

The darkness ebbed away and Paul enjoyed their absence before leaving.

 

He went to see The Wild Man, but he stopped outside the door. A wave of exhaustion overwhelmed him and he decided against it.

 

A peal of laughter followed him as he walked away.

 

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An Unwanted Offer (The Wild Man Season 2, Episode 1)

Once upon a time, a king died in front of his court.

His reign was awash with light and wisdom. HIs absence cast a long shadow over the land, and his daughter inherited the throne, but took no husband to reign alongside her. She walked alongside a cold shadow, a spectre of sadness and failure. Mirabelle imagined it as a soft, fat, capering fool who drained her with his mewling demands for attention. An inconstant shadow dogging her every step.

Eilhu remained at her side where circumstance allowed. He had led the hunt through the lands, searching for the assassin who had cut the king down with a single arrow. Each day, he was the first to leave and the last to arrive back, gathering a fresh horse and heading out into the woods. Mirabelle saw how he looked at her, eyes hollow with guilt and determination as they ate or walked in the gardens together.

They walked in silence, hands brushing against one another but not touching. Eyes watched them both, and her grief was too raw, too vicious to bear affection. Mirabelle would look at him, feeling an overwhelming urge to have him hold her, to dash her fists against his chest and weep until she was empty of grief and anger.

Her station became the barrier his secrets had been.

‘We’ve sent word to every corner of the kingdom.’ she said.

Eilhu walked with her, a slight hitch in his step from the wound in his thigh as he gave a stiff nod.

‘We will find him.’ he said.

Mirabelle grimaced and wrung her hands as she stared at him.

‘We do not understand who it is, Eilhu. Roderick has denied it, but he has the motive to do it.’ she said.

Eilhu swallowed and took her hand in his. The rough press of his fingers brought tears to her eyes. He knew the truth of her, how touch spoke to her more than the most delicate poem or song and yet he had not imposed himself upon her. He had grown beneath the burdens he carried, taller and broader with the efforts of his search.

Mirabelle threw herself into his embrace, pressed her cheek to his throat and wept, her shoulders shaking with grief. Eilhu put his arms around her, and she breathed him in, the warm leather musk of his skin and the faint traces of flowers which clung to him.

It smelled like comfort. Eilhu chased the shadows from her thoughts by his presence.

‘I’ve neglected you.’ she said

He stroked her hair and pressed his lips to her forehead.

‘No, you have your duty. A wedding would not heal this wound, your highness.’ he said.

She raised her head, cheeks flushed with blood as her blue eyes shone with tears.

‘What would?’ she said.

Eilhu swallowed and gazed into her eyes.

‘Justice.’

2.

He walked her back to her chamber, kissed her on the cheek as he watched her retreat behind her station. Eilhu knew he could force his affection, but it would break her to receive the full force of it.

Eilhu held himself apart for other reasons.

The garden smelled of summer. He stood and listened to the wind, able to give voice to his doubts and fears.

‘Wild Man, I call for your help.’

He whispered it at first.

‘Wild Man, I call for your help.’

A touch of impatience lent rigour to his words.

‘Wild Man, I call for your help.’

He shouted, his voice echoed against the garden walls and cut into him, mocking in its impotence.

Eilhu clenched his fists and stared at the night sky, challenging it for a sign.

Nothing moved and he strode from the garden, changing into his armour, the parts of the three suits he had worn, red, white and black altered and crafted to reflect his origins. A man made of parts unknown, put together by his own hand.

He saddled a horse, took a bow and a quarrel of arrows from the armoury, along with his sword and rode out through the castle gates. Night had stripped the lands of detail, but Eilhu was following an inward direction. Something in his heart tugged at him, and he worked the horse to a gallop, hoping to outrun his own thoughts.

Eilhu tied the horse to a tree and entered on foot. He walked until darkness enveloped him, but his steps were sure and he followed the trail of his own instincts.

He crouched and dug his fingers into the earth, damp and cold from the fall of night and brought them to his lips.

‘Where are you?’ he said.

Eilhu had called the Wild Man for aid on several occasions and he had come without pause.

He had not answered Eilhu and it led to some terrible thoughts which kept Eilhu out hunting and searching, despite a suspicion which had grown thick and powerful within his bones.

Eilhu had feared meeting Peter, expecting punishment for his actions and part of him knew if it came to it, he could call for aid and expect its arrival.

In the dark of the forest, away from everyone, Eilhu looked at the trees and fought a deep pang of loss and horror.

‘What have you done?’ he said.

He feared the answer, but it did not come.

The Wild Man was missing. His silence was devastating to Eilhu because it fed suspicions which coloured his interactions with Mirabelle. He felt he had no right to comfort her when he wondered if his actions had murdered her father.

He breathed in the cool air and looked back towards the castle, then set his gaze into the heart of the forest and continued searching.

3.

In a dark, low place.

He laid in a corner of a room, his wrists bound with cold iron attached to a chain which hung from the ceiling.

‘There’s no key to steal here.’ the voice said.

 

 

 

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The Wild Man – Omnibus

Here are the episodes, in order, for you to catch up on.

The Wild Man In The Water

The Golden Ball, The Toad and The Key

To Guard A Golden Pond (The Wild Man 3)

Kitchen Boy ( The Wild Man 4)

Lessons Of The Forest (The Wild Man 5)

The Smell of Wildflowers (The Wild Man 6)

The Strange Knight (The Wild Man 7)

Three Golden Apples (The Wild Man 8)

Into The Wound (The Wild Man 9) 

A Golden Gift (Final Episode)

Please share, leave comments and like.

 

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The Work of February

The amethyst set into the ring on his pinkie finger glinted with the sunlight as the young man sat, bringing the oversized cup to his lips as he looked out onto the steps of the Forum. He had a small leather bound notebook to his left, and he picked up a pencil at regular intervals, made small notes that brought a wistful grin to his wide, sensuous mouth before setting it down. He had dusty-blonde hair that caught the sun, held it with a loving care whenever he moved his head. The wintry sunshine made its way, embraced him and upheld his unadorned primal beauty with each ray that fell upon him.
He had on a battered olive leather coat worn over a chunky sweater that had stray threads at the hem and its sleeves protruded past the jacket’s dimensions. The waitresses made regular trips to his table, deferring to him with glazed eyes and dreamy smiles, the flush of emotion lasting long enough to get a refill or another slice of the delicious cheesecake that he would lift to his mouth.
He had spent the better part of the morning there, watching and writing.
Waiting, if anyone asked him.
Sarah had been eager to get away from the office and her head was ringing with the angry voices of the people who owed the business money, which was pretty much everyone. The fifteen minutes of peace that the library trip afforded her gave a brief measure of respite, between which were sandwiched the bear pit that work had become and the needling demands of mother, who had become bitter and mean with illness.
John had been immersed in the last few pages, eyes sucking up the last few drops of adventure and pathos in the heroes’ journey. His reading habits bordered upon the anti-social but he had developed a zen awareness so was able to happily walk around without bumping into anyone. He wanted to like people, but had been so disappointed by them that he sought to love them at a remove. His spectacles were balanced on the tip of his nose, and he often mismatched his clothes, pretending that he was simply affecting a nonchalance about fashion. In truth, he wanted to put his peacock feathers up but he had never found anyone who made his heart thump. He was a quiet man, but beneath that something roared, lost in a forest of propriety and waiting to be found.
The amethyst glinted in the sun as the man raised his hand, a conductor before the massed, unwitting orchestra of humanity. He knew the pattern of gestures, had done so ever since he wrote to the jailer’s daughter, and his words became the first things she had seen since birth. They had been co-opted in the centuries since, and yet his work was still, eternally, healing.
He lowered his hand.
Sarah had been distracted by a flash of purple light in her peripheral vision when she knocked bodily into him.
John held onto his book and managed to remain upright, struck by her green eyes and red hair as he sought to maintain some measure of aplomb from the encounter.
The man closed his notebook, slipped the pencil into the pocket of his coat and wiped the last dollop of mascarpone from the corner of his mouth. He left a healthy tip on the saucer and walked away with a jaunty flourish.
The couple stood there, awkward and stammering as the world gently but inexorably pushed them together.
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