Saturday, December 31, 2011

eighteenth night

i saw him. i saw him once before i ran. his skin had patches on it. patches were i could see muscle and sinew intertwined with the dull gray of metal.
once upon a time, a king sent a huntsman into a forest to kill a monster. but the huntsman never returned. so the king sent another and another, but none ever returned from the forest. finally, wandering explorer and his dog came and declared that they would discover the fates of the disappeared huntsmen. so they entered the forest. 
inside, they came upon a lake. a monstrous hand came out of the lake and grabbed the wanderer's dog, but the wanderer himself escape. he returned the next day with men to empty the lake. once it was drained, they found a monstrous looking man with iron skin chained to the bottom. they captured him and locked him in a cage and declared that it should never be unlocked. 
of course, years later, there was a boy prince who was playing with his ball and accidentally rolled it into the cage of the iron monster. and the iron monster told the boy prince that if he unlocked the cage, he would return his ball. so the boy took the key from his mother's room and unlocked the cage, where the iron monster, called iron jon, gave him back his ball and then led him into the forest and showed him his well which could turn things into gold. iron jon set the boy prince to guard the well, but the prince accidentally dipped his hair in it and it turned to gold. disappointed with him, iron jon banished the boy, but told him he could call on him by just saying 'iron jon' three times. 
years later, the boy prince went to war and called iron jon's name and was gifted with many iron soldiers who fought beside him. eventually, the prince with the golden hair was able to marry a princess and iron jon was revealed to have been under enchantment to look like a monster and everyone lived happily ever after. 
happily ever after. three words that have been used so much and meant so little. happily ever after just means you have ended the story before other bad things happen. because bad things keep happening. 
let's revise that story, shall we? the boy prince sets the iron monster free and to reward him, iron jon tosses him into the well and drags him underwater and keeps him forever. or the boy prince is smarter than the iron monster and tricks him into falling into the well and turning into gold forever. or the wanderer doesn't capture the iron monster, he kills him. 
but none of these endings are true. not even the real ending is true. the true ending is that of the storyteller closing the book and turning out the light because her children have fallen asleep.
why am i just remembering her now?


Friday, December 30, 2011

seventeenth night

today is the sixth night of christmas. and i am still running. i have not stopped and he has not stopped chasing. in any case, by the twelfth night, it will be over.
there is a fairy tale from greece about the kallikantzaros. the kallikantzaros is a mean, mischievous race of creatures, like goblins or trolls. the difference is that the kallikantzaros is dedicated to sawing down the world tree, the tree that holds up all of existence. all of the kallikantzaros saw at the bottom of the tree, underground, away from all light, until december 25, christmas day. on christmas day, it is said that when the kallikantzaros finally start to saw the final part of the world tree, they realize that they can go to the surface now. something about christmas means that they can come up to the surface and play their tricks on mortals. they live on the surface for twelve nights - until the night of the feast of epiphany, when they are forced to go underground again and find that the world tree has healed itself in their absence. and so they go back to sawing, again and again and again, year after year after year, never tearing the world down from its anchor. 
there is a pattern. the golem has a pattern. it appears as a small toy. perhaps a doll or a globe or even a compass. but it is none of those things. it is a golem. and it will grow bigger. it absorbs other things into it. metal. meat. bone. it grows and grows until it is bigger than we are. and then it rips the sky apart and travels back to babel. 
perhaps it is adding to itself, trying to saw down the world tree, but it can't. it can't grow forever. it always returns to its tower, its babel. 
why hasn't he returned?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

sixteenth night

it's a cold night outside. why don't we tell a story to warm us up.
well known is the tale of orpheus and eurydice, how she was taken from him by a snake bite and how he traveled to the underworld to find her and bring her back. but there are other tales that are trips to the underworld -- in greek, this is called "katabasis" or "descent." a hero travels to the underworld (or some other dystopic place) and returns. 
there are many examples of trips to the underworld, of heroes rescuing lost lovers, allegories of winter and summer, the sun and the moon, love and hate, life and death. 
but, while the hero sometimes does not achieve their goal - orpheus fails to rescue eurydice, after all - they do all return from the underworld. they return changed. they have had a manifestation, an epiphany. the realization of a great truth. 
there have been epiphanies in the real world, too. great ones. it was an apple that fell on newton's head that led him to discover gravity. it was a bath and spilled water that led archimedes to yell "eureka." and einstein -- well, allegedly, einstein realized that there was some unseen force in space when he was given something during his childhood. 
he was given a compass.

descent. on the twelfth night, before the feast of epiphany, i will descend. all because of a compass.


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

fifteenth night

do you remember your first tragedy? the first tragedy you read? it was probably hamlet. everyone dies. that's how most things end in real life: everyone dies eventually.
yesterday, the story ended in a deus ex machina. a god out of the machine. let's look at that some more, shall we? 
the deus ex machina came about from ancient greek plays where the "gods" were often lowered onto the stage via an apparatus. a literal god from a literal machine. but over time, it has come to mean anything that appears out of nowhere at the end of a story to resolve it. in the euripedes play iphigeneia, iphigeneia finally accepts her role to be sacrified...and is replaced at the last minute with a pig. in the threepenny opera, just as macheath is about to be hanged, the queen's messenger appears to pardon and knight macheath. in the bad seed, rhonda gets away with murder, only to be struck by lightning. 
this is not only bad writing, it's completely unrealistic. lightning does not just hit murderers. innocent men get executed (although, if we're being technical here, macheath is not innocent and is, in fact, a murderer). and people die. that is the way of life. 
i remember the first tragedy i read. it was king lear. everybody died. even the main characters, even cordelia, whom i identified with, died. i cried so hard. "howl, howl, howl, howl! o! you are men of stones: / had i your tongues and eyes, i'd use them so / that heaven's vaults should crack. -- she's gone for ever! -- / i know when one is dead, and when one lives; / she's dead as earth."

"i know when one is dead, and when one lives." my brother is dead. i live.

but this is a tragedy. in a tragedy, everyone dies.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

fourteenth night

i was always good at running. i was on the track team in high school. my brother used to come and cheer me on during races. "run, sherry!" he would yell. in my mind, he is still yelling that, even as the monster he has become chases after me.
once upon a time, there was a fox that could never be caught. the teumessian fox was one of the four children of echidna and nobody could catch it, no man nor beast, as it preyed upon the children of thebes. the regent of thebes, creon, set famed theben general amphitryon the impossible task of destroying the fox. and so amphitryon came upon an ingenious solution: he would use the magical dog laelaps, who could always catch whatever it hunted. 
a fox that could never be caught and a dog that could catch anything. a shield that no spear could pierce and a spear that could pierce any shield. an immovable object and an unstoppable force. what do you think happened? 
well, faced with this paradox, zeus took both dog and fox and turned them into stars, so that they could chase one another around the sky forever. this is called a deus ex machina. 
a god from the machine.


Monday, December 26, 2011

thirteenth night

it stopped raining. i can no longer here the pitter patter of the raindrops on the thin roof overhead. i can hear, however, the couple next door. the walls are thin and they are loud.
once upon a time, there was a ship commanded by the great hero theseus. the ship of theseus was eventually acquired by a museum, but parts of it had rotted and fallen off. so the curator of the museum decided to have those parts replaced, still considering the entire ship to be the ship of theseus. over the years, other parts of the ship rotted and were replaced until every single piece of the ship had, bit by bit, been replaced. so was it still the ship of theseus? or was it a different ship altogether?
is he still my brother? my brother is dead. but death is not always the end. perhaps the golem brought him back. but it still is inside him, replacing parts of him with itself. can it still be him when it is also the golem?


Sunday, December 25, 2011

twelfth night

still raining here.
i call it the "twelfth night" but it is, in fact, the first night. the first night of christmas. the twelfth night shall be on january sixth (with the night of epiphany following). the twelfth night of christmas, the last night, is the night of reversals, the night of upheavals, the night that everything becomes upside-down.  
on that night, the kings and queens became the peasants and the peasants became the royalty. the entire party was called the feast of fools (a holdover from the old saturnalia celebrations) and it was ruled over by the Lord of Misrule. it ended at the strike of midnight, though most of the time the party-goers ignored that and celebrated throughout the night, unaware that the world was no longer upside-down, that it had righted itself while they had made fools of themselves.  
i shall count down these days and nights until the twelfth night. and on the twelfth night, i shall turn and confront my fears. i shall see my brother again when the world is upside-down, on the twelfth night, when i am the Lord of Misrule.


Saturday, December 24, 2011

eleventh night

the coldest night. a night to spend on the run, in a strange motel. a night without hope.
once upon a time, there was a jolly old fat man who gave presents to good little boys and girls on christmas. 
but not every boy and girl was good. some were bad and some were very, very bad. so far them, what? coal? no. not coal. the krampus. 
father christmas would arrive at the dead of night, the krampus in tow, and visit a house. if the children were good and nice, he would leave presents (the krampus devouring the milk and cookies, it was so hungry). if the children were not nice, if they were mean little children, well then, santa would wake them up and the krampus would stuff them in its bag and bring them back to its lair and eat them all up. 
christmas is not a nice holiday.

i miss him. even though he's dead, even though he's a monster, i still miss him. especially on a night like this.

Friday, December 23, 2011

tenth night

he follows me. he has the golem inside. he should be dead. he is dead. he should have gone back to babel. decomposed into the tower. and yet he follows me.
once upon a time, there was a young man who didn't know what fear was. his mother recommended he stay at a local graveyard, so he did. there, a hand grabbed him, but he merely kicked it away. he went to the gallows, where seven men swung in the wind. he went to a haunted house, but he told all the voices there to be quiet. he went to the place where death held sway and was not afraid. he did not know fear. 
but then a sickness came upon the city where he lived and around him the bodies piled higher. and one day, his mother caught the sickness and she perished and he was left with no one. and as he coughed and waited for death to take him into the cold night, he realized that fear was not a ghostly hand or scratchy voices in darkened corridors. fear was not dead men or black cats or graveyards in moonlight. 
fear was waiting. and as he sat there and slowly died, he felt fear for the first and last time.

once more on the run. go go go.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

ninth night

i'm in a motel somewhere in oregon. it's raining outside. wonderful. i drove until i ran out of gas, then bought more gas, then drove some more. i didn't even stop to eat.

the compass was a beacon, to find me. he wanted to find me. why? he's not my brother. not anymore.

once upon a time, there was a young girl named sherry and her big brother. one day, a golem appeared and started to grow bigger and bigger. sherry was worried, so she hit the golem and broke it, so it couldn't get bigger. it was stuck. but then it attacked sherry's brother, pushing its way into his body, drilling into him with its little needle legs. "i can feel it, sherry," he said. "i can feel it inside me."

he's not my brother anymore. he's part of the golem. just like it uses blood and bone and sinew, it's using him.

why does it want me? is it because i broke it?

i have to go.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

eighth night

there was a knock on the door. "sherry," my brother called out, his voice raspy and unnatural. "sherry, i can feel it. i can feel it, sherry. it's inside me."
once upon a time, prometheus brought fire to man. and for that he was punished. he was chained to a rock and eagles ate his liver every night and every day it would regrow. until he was freed by herakles. 
but herakles doesn't exist. there are no heroes in this world. the eagles will continue to eat your liver over and over again and no one can stop them.

there was a knock on the door. but i was already going out the window. i had everything packed and ready to go. all i left was the lump of metal.

whatever knocked on the door wasn't my brother.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

seventh night

i was looking at the lump of metal formerly known as a compass when i saw him. i looked out my window. he was walking down the street, as if he was a normal person, his legs and arms unnaturally long, his face a blank whiteness. i could see him, but he was not looking at me. did he see me? or did he just not care? he must have been looking for a different target today. should i be glad? he never scared me like the others. i wonder why.

once upon a time, there was a filly who wandered into the dark and scary forest. but when she encountered a group of trees, faces carved into their trunks, she did not scream nor whimper. 
instead, she sang. 
"when i was a little filly, and the sun was going down
the darkness and the shadows, they would always make me frown
i'd hide under my pillow from what i thought i saw,
but granny pie said that wasn't the way to deal with fears at all
she said, 'pinkie, you gotta stand up tall
learn to face your fears.
you'll see that they can't hurt you
just laugh to make them disappear.'
so, giggle at the ghostly
guffaw at the grossly
crack up at the creepy
whoop it up with the weepy
chortle at the kooky
snortle at the spooky
and tell that big dumb scary face to take a hike and leave you alone
and if he thinks he can scare you then he's got another thing coming and the very idea of such a thing just makes you wanna...
pinkie pie makes some good points. but laughing at things doesn't always work, doesn't always reveal the light beneath the shadow. sometimes beneath the shadow, there is just more darkness.

Monday, December 19, 2011

sixth night

the lump of metal that used to be the compass is sitting on my desk. is it still alive? is it still part of the golem machine?

kaang was the creator of the bushman. he created the earth and then he created the moon from an old shoe. his lived in the sky with his wife coti and had two sons, cogaz and gewi. 
in one story, kaang was trapped and killed by carnivorous thorns. his bones were picked clean by ants. yet, he was able to reassemble his skeleton and come back to life. from just his bones, he came back.

the lump of metal has not moved, yet i continue to watch.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

fifth night

i've incinerated the compass. i couldn't risk it getting bigger. i couldn't let it get back to babel.

i still remember my brother. "sherry," he would call my name, "you're just being paranoid. so a few cats around the neighborhood have gone missing. that doesn't mean there's some serial killing bastard around." he was right.

a story. a story to keep me sane.
talos was a man made of bronze that protected the isle of crete. he was made by hephaestus, god of the forge, but to bring him to life he had to be instilled with ichor, the blood of the gods. he had one vein that ran from ankel to neck, bound shut by one bronze nail. he protected crete, throwing rocks at any ship who drew near its shore. when the argo tried to go to crete, talos prevented them. so the sorceress medea, wife of jason, deceived talos into removing the nail, saying that it would make him immortal. when he did, the ichor ran out like blood and talos died.

my brother was right. it wasn't some serial killing bastard.

the golem machine isn't just chrome and steel and iron.

it's flesh and blood and bone. taken from living things. the ichor it needs to run.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

fourth night

the compass has not moved. i have a camera trained on it twenty-four hours. it has not moved. was i wrong?

and now a story:

prometheus was a titan who made man from clay and mud. he taught man to hunt and read and heal and finally, in defiance against the gods, stole fire for man. how was he repaid? zeus chained him to a rock and had eagles devour his liver night after night.

when benjamin franklin began to experiment with lightning and electricity, immanuel kant called him a "modern prometheus." stealing fire from the gods. creating something from electricity. a new artificial life.

the golem, resurrected by lightning.

it is much older than we believe. much older.

only now it is not made of clay nor mud, but chrome and steel.

the golem machine.

the compass moved.

Friday, December 16, 2011

third night

i found a compass in my desk drawer today.

there is another story about the golem.

in this story, the golem was created by the gaon r. eliyahu ba'al shem. it was made of matter (golem) and form (tzurah) from the book of creation (sefer yetzirah). but the gaon saw the golem was growing larger and larger and he feared that it would it grow so large as to destroy the universe. so the gaon removed the holy word and the golem crumbled to dust, but not before it scarred the gaon.

i found a compass in my desk drawer today.

i have never owned a compass.

it is here.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

second night

my uncle collected wind-up toys. i remember when i stayed with him, i would always rush to the back room, where he kept them, and quickly wind them all up. then i would watch as they would trample each other, with chattering teeth and clicking noises.

here is a story:

once upon a time, in the city of prague, the jews were persecuted, expelled, and killed by the holy roman emperor, rudolf ii. so rabbi loew, the maharal, created a golem, a thing from mud and clay, with the word of life written on its head, and ordered it to protect the jews. and it did its job. but over time, the golem became more and more violent, killing indiscriminately and scaring all who saw it. finally, the emperor begged rabbi loew to stop the golem, so loew found the golem and the word written on its head - emet, truth or reality - and erased one letter to create met, death. and the golem stopped and turned to dust.

i would watch the wind-up toys go out of control as they slowly wound themselves down and then i would wind them up again.

sometimes i think that god does the same to us. just winds us up and lets us go, lets us repeat the same motions as before. perhaps we are all wind-up toys.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

first night (introductions)

i am scheherazade. i am a storyteller. i tell stories to keep myself alive. i tell stories to keep myself sane.

this blog will hold those stories. it will hold tales of faceless monstrosities and nameless horrors and those who run from them and fight them and those who live and those who have died.

this is the first night.

there shall be a thousand more.

first night

i shall not define myself by what my future may hold.

i shall not fear the night, though i fear what it may bring.

i shall not resist sleep, though i know nightmares will follow.

i shall not define myself by my monsters.

i shall not name them nor give them faces.

i shall not die until my task is complete.

i am scheherazade.