Wednesday, July 11, 2012

two hundred and eleventh night

i'm going to take a break from blogging for a bit.

this is not an ending. there are still nights to come. but i have to take a break. there are still things i need to work through.

and i need to help anya. i need to help pull her away from the edge of the abyss. it's not that she's been alone for too long; it's that she's been afraid for too long. afraid of so many things, like i was. like i am.

in any case, this blog will still be here when i choose to write again.

one more story:

inanna was a fertility goddess. one season, she decided to attend a funeral in the underworld ruled by her sister ereshkigal. ereshkigal was jealous of inanna, as ereshkigal could not leave the underworld and no one visited her there. so at each of the seven gates of the underworld, she had the guards demand a piece of jewelry and clothing from inanna until she arrived at ereshkigal's throne naked and alone.
and ereshkigal had her judges condemn inanna and inanna died and her body was hung from a hook.
inanna was well-liked by the other gods, but no god could go to the underworld to retrieve her body for fear that they themselves could not leave. so enki, god of mischief, created two entities from the dirt under the gods' fingernails - gala-tura and kur-jara - and together they retrieved inanna's body and revived her.
but ereshkigal did not want to let her go. she demanded someone else stay in inanna's place. inanna eventually had to allow her husband dumuzi to take her place and he was dragged into the underworld.
inanna mourned for him and caused winter to descend and ereshkigal saw her tears and allowed it to be that dumuzi would only spend half the year in the underworld and the other half with inanna. creating summer and winter.
inanna forgave her sister and ereshkigal let go of her jealousies.

i am scheherazade.

and here's my one piece of advice:

don't let go

and never stop telling stories.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

two hundred and tenth night

let me tell you a story:

once upon a time, there was a girl named anya. 

but that is not my story to tell. i can only tell what happened tonight.

it was like she wrote: we set the trap and when the time came, i pulled the lever and let the tar loose on them. it's an old punishment: tar and feathers. we were just adding the tar.

i didn't mean to set them on fire. it was, like so many other things, an accident. but it doesn't really matter. i can consider them evil and still mourn them, can't i?

i pulled anya away from the blaze, her laughter and tears intermingling. it made me realize something: that there is only so much a person can go through without breaking down completely. anya was on the edge, i knew. if this hasn't tipped her over...i was afraid that she would break completely. would i have turned out like her without paul? i hugged her and pulled her up and together we walked away.

we had walked several blocks before we stopped. we did not stop voluntarily. there was something blocking our way:

tigris. the ebon hound, as anya called it.

it was bigger than it was before. taller than we were. i remember what my brother had said: so large that it was nine feet between its lungs. its eyes were blood-red and it stared at us, not menacing, but knowing. it knew what we did, it knew everything we did. it was our punishment for our secrets.

so i stepped forward. i let go of anya and stepped forward and i put out my hands and i said, "i killed my brother. it was inadvertent, but i did it. and every day i remember him and i am sorry. and those people at the diner, we left them behind. we might not have been able to save them, but we could have tried. i could have tried. but i didn't."

i looked back at anya and then at tigris and said, "and i killed a mother and child tonight. i killed them and i accept the responsibility for that." i had no more secrets to tell. i was stripped bare, like inanna in the underworld.

and then tigris looked at anya. and i turned to look at her, too.

and anya slowly said, "i could have saved her, but i was too afraid."

tigris still looked at us with blood-red eyes, but i could see it growing smaller, until it was the size of a dog. it came forward and i put out my hand.

it bit off a piece of flesh and i gasped. then, it did the same with anya.

it had marked us. it had our flesh now. it would not kill us, not tonight, but perhaps at the end of our lives, it would return to take us away. but not now.

its eyes were the last thing to go as its body turned to wisps of smoke. i held anya's hand and together we went back to our room.

once upon a time, there were two girls named cheryl and anya.

once upon a time.

Monday, July 9, 2012

two hundred and ninth night

remember when i used to tell stories here? "tales of faceless monstrosities and nameless horrors," i wrote.

i don't seem to tell stories anymore. but here's one:
the stymphalian birds were favorites of the god ares. they had bronze beaks and metallic feathers and liked the taste of human flesh. heracles, as part of his labors, was tasked to kill them, but could not even see them as they nested in a swamp which could not support his weight. so athena gave him a rattle designed by hephaestus which scared the stymphalian birds into the sky where heracles was able to kill them with a bow and arrows.

i wish it was this simple.

i wish so many things. i wish i could talk to anya without feeling hurt. i wish she would stop begging me to forgive her.

i want to forgive her. i know why she lied. what we did. how we left those people to die. it wasn't right.

but we can't ignore bad things just because we did them.

i just need time.

time and arrows.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

two hundred and eighth night

goddamit, anya. god-fucking-dammit.

she didn't lose her memory. or she didn't lose all of it. she knew how we escaped.

and as she told me, i remembered. i remembered holing up in the kitchen to fight off the birds the mother and child unleashed. i remembered turning on the gas and lighting the fires and then trying to push forward.

we were going to die, i remember. it was inevitable. i could see the diner patrons faces and i know they didn't understand what was going on, but we could see outside. there were maybe fifty birds indoors.

there were a million outside. probably more.

and the storm. as soon as anya described the tempest, i remembered it. lightning struck and...she grabbed my hand and pulled me and i followed her without knowing where i was running and there was a window wreathed in lightning.

this must be how they get here, i thought and suddenly we were back. and i took one look back to see the people in the diner and the window closed and i knew they were all dead and we had just left them and i couldn't take it.

so i guess i repressed that memory. four months between worlds and i didn't remember because i didn't want to remember.

and then she told me.

goddammit, anya.

i don't have time right now for...for whatever she expected of me. forgiveness, maybe. we don't have time to talk. not now.

we have a trap to set.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

two hundred and seventh night

we saw them again. well, anya spotted them first. she's better to catching things - i would say she's more paranoid than i am, but if you really are being chased after by people inhabited by eldritch birds, is that really paranoia?

in any case, we spotted then and hid. they didn't see us, i think.

we need to move again now. i don't know how they are tracking us. maybe it's some eldritch sixth sense, where because we were in the place with black sands, they know know where we are. if that's true...fuck, we can't escape them.

but we have to try.

Friday, July 6, 2012

two hundred and sixth night

i found her in the hall. anya (i don't think i can continue calling her croc, it just sounds weird). she broke down crying when she saw me.

i hugged her as she told me about seeing tigris, seeing the hound. i had almost forgotten what i was like to hug someone, but i tried calming her down and it worked. i brought her back to the room and then went out to see where she had seen the beast.

for some reason, i don't feel any fear about the beast. it's strange. even when i saw it, it troubled me but not in the way the golem machine did. not in the way that the mother and child did. perhaps it is simply what the dream of my brother said (despite the fact that i know it was simply a dream and probably didn't mean anything).

in any case, i didn't see the beast, so i went back to the room, but anya was already asleep.

i'm glad we're sticking together. in some ways...i don't know, she reminds me of when i was young and it was just me and paul. old memories that i used to think painfully on, but now the pain is gone from them.

i only wish my other memories were as intact as they are. those missing months still bother me.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

two hundred and fifth night

we changed motels. anya, or i guess i should call her croc, and i decided it was too dangerous to stay in the same motel we woke up in. the mother and child could still be out there, looking for us.

so we're sticking together. it's...actually nice to have a companion. i've been quite alone since the golem machine took paul. i didn't think i would ever actually enjoy someone else's company.

there was an incident, however. we went to a supermarket and pooled what was left of our cash in order to buy food. cheap food, but food nonetheless. and as we exited the supermarket, we saw it.

tigris. the creature that the dream of my brother told me about.

i could not make out how large it was, since it was so dark, but i saw its eyes. they were red and staring at us, as if they could see straight into us, see everything about us, and it disapproved. it opened its mouth and i saw a pink tongue and white teeth.

we hurried back to the motel. i don't know if it followed us. croc says that it seeks those with secrets.

i don't have any secrets. unless...unless there is something i did during the time i don't remember. but if it is that, then it's a secret even to me.

edit: croc's pov of this event.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

two hundred and fourth night

it appears that i have been sharing a motel room with my new friend - whose real name it appears is anya. apparently, it's been four months since my last post, which indicates to me that something went...wrong during our encounter with the mother and child of the bar-yuchnei.

it's troubling. i remember the black sands. and then...there's a hole in my memory. like whatever happened between then and now was simply plucked out.

anya seems to be both calm and panicking at the same time. i'm afraid i know how she feels.

edit: and here's anya.

??? night

...where am i? what happened? i remember the restaurant, the mother and child, and my newfound friend. and sands...

...what the hell happened?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

eighty-fifth night

a bird hits the window and i jump.

i'm in philadelphia now, city of brotherly love. a quiet diner, past midnight, a slice of apple pie and it almost feels like home.

but then a bird hits the window and i jump.

i look around to see if anyone saw my reaction, but they're all engrossed in other things. except for one. she looks like she's slightly older than me, with short blonde hair and grey eyes. sad eyes, i think. her clothing has strange pads on them.

she moves closer to me, then says, "do you flee them?"

"i'm sorry?"

"do you flee them?" she says. "the feathered fiends, lightning-hearted and hidden in a dark cloud?"

she didn't look crazy, but the things she said. and yet she was making sense in a way. the fiends - the feathered fiends, the bar-yuchnei.

"yes, i flee them," i say.

"as flies to the wanton boys," she says, "are we to the murder--they kill us for their sport." i know that phrase - it's shakespeare, king lear. the woman looks both sad and angry as she says it.

"i know," i say. it feels good to talk about it, even if we are using such archaic words.

that feeling of goodness evaporates, however, when the diner door opens, its bell ringing.

we both turn to see who enters and our faces fall in turn.

it's the mother and child.

edit: this post is croc's pov of our meeting.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

eighty-fourth night

where have i been this past month?

i have been running.

bar-yuchnei has almost caught up to me. the birds have followed me since the dream.

and i keep seeing two figures. a woman and a boy. a mother and a child.

i keep running.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

forty-sixth night

i cremated him and spread his ashes in the ocean.

the police had questions, questions i could not answer, but i told the truth when i could and lied when i had to. his death was ruled as an accident.

i dreamed about paul last night. he was telling me a story:
once upon a time, there was a tiger who was so large that it was nine feet between its lungs. its roar could tumble walls and knock out teeth. its name is tigris. it is not your enemy.
he smiled at me and then looked up into the air and said:
your enemy is bar-yuchnei, the bird whose wings can blot out the sun. it will crash around you and pull you away. you must not go. don't let go, sherry. don't let go.

i'm not letting go. i am back.

and there are more nights to come.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

twenty-sixth night (Deus Ex Machina)

I met him in an alleyway. I was waiting for him. The buildings to each side of me were empty. The alleyway was lined with explosive. In my hand was the detonator switch. One flick and boom.

He appeared at the end of the alleyway. "I can feel it, Sherry," he said. "I can feel it inside me."

"Of course you can," I said to him. "It's always inside you. It is you. But I can make it stop. I can stop the pain for both of us."

I flicked the switch.

Nothing happened.

Perhaps it was the interference of the Golem, some electromagnetic field it radiated, or perhaps the trigger for the explosives was just shoddy and didn't work (I couldn't exactly test it before). But the Golem in my brother walked forward, his legs moving strangely, independently of one another. "Sherry," he said. "I can feel it, Sherry. I can feel it inside me. I can feel it, Sherry. Sherry. Sherry, I can feel it."

I cried. The Golem had taken my brother and now it would take me. I was unafraid of death, but I wanted it to mean something. I wanted to take down the Golem with me. I wanted to martyr myself.

What a stupid idea.

The Golem came forward and grabbed me. I...I do not know what came over me then. I knew I was still crying, but I had gained some conviction, something like a resolve. An anger that boiled over inside me.

I reached into the wound in my brother's chest and grabbed the Golem and I pulled. I pulled it out of his chest, this thing that had been living inside him for months, this hideous monster of metal and bone, and I dashed it against the wall. I dashed it over and over again. It was shredding my hand and yet I did not stop until it was in bits.

At last, I looked down and saw that my brother no longer moved. I knelt by him and took his hand. Perhaps I thought I could bring him back to life with my touch, but he was dead. He had been dead for months. He had just been a wind-up toy and now I had broken him. But now I could bury him.

Behind me, I heard movement. I turned and saw the pieces of the Golem reassembling themselves. They climbed up the side of the wall and I saw it cut away a bit of reality and slip through. It had failed to grow bigger, but it had still gone home. It had gone away.

I had successfully turned the world upside down. I had won.

I disassembled the explosives and packed them away (you never know when you might need them). And then I took my brother's body and I went home.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

twenty-fifth night (The Lord of Misrule)

Two days ago, I met my brother again. But it was not my brother. It was the Golem inside him. He had been following me all this time. There must have been some spark in his brain that told him to find me and not even the Golem could change it.

Two days ago was the Twelfth Night of Christmas. I know it's sort of confusing, because the first night was the night before Christmas. So the Twelfth Night is followed by the Twelfth Day - which is followed by the Feast of the Epiphany.

The Twelfth Night - the eve of the Epiphany - was celebrated a long time ago with a party where the world was turned upside down. The king and those on high would become peasants and vice versa. The one who ruled over the Twelfth Night was called the Lord of Misrule.

Two days ago, I was the Lord of Misrule. I declared that the world would turn upside down. That I would no longer run, that I would turn to face my brother. That I would stand up and fight and probably die.

And some part of me did die. The part of me that still believed my brother was alive. The part of me that had hope he could be brought back. Because he can't.

Tomorrow, I will tell you how he died. And how I lived.

Friday, January 6, 2012

twenty-fourth night (Epiphany)

Hello. My name is Cheryl Pierce. My mother used to call me Scheherazade. My brother called me Sherry.

This is the story of my brother. This is the story of how he died and how a monster took his place. I call this monster the Golem, but in other circles it is called the Manufactured Newborn. It is a monster of machinery, a thing of grinding gears and bone and sinew. It appears out of nowhere, usually as a small toy, and then grows. It adds to itself and gets bigger and bigger until it can rip a hole in reality - and then it goes back to its home, the Towering Realm, where its true form lies.

Four months ago, I saw the Golem for the first time. I had an epiphany. A sudden realization. It was not a good day.

Cats had been disappearing from our neighborhood. My brother, Paul, told me not to worry about it, but I did. We had two cats and I doted on them. One day, however, one of them disappeared and I went to find him - and I found the Golem instead. It wasn't big yet - it had added some bicycle parts to itself, some cat bones, but it was about the size of a raccoon.

It chased after me on its needle-like legs. I ran. I ran back inside our home and I ran into our kitchen. It followed. Somehow (I don't quite remember), I was able to push it inside the microwave oven and turned it on high. Perhaps it was the microwaves that did it - it seemed sluggish after that. But it was still alive.

My brother, having heard me yell, took that moment to run inside. The Golem turned and pounced on him. It was sluggish, but strong. It's mouth was a drill and I watched as it drilled into my brother's chest. Perhaps it was seeking more materials to grow, but instead it grew inside him. I watched as he convulsed and collapsed. "I can feel it, Sherry," he said as blood dripped from his mouth. "I can feel it inside me." His last words, now the only thing his mouth can say.

I'm afraid I wasn't strong enough then to end his pain. I did not have the conviction to burn him.

I do now.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

twenty-third night


it is the twelfth night. tomorrow is the epiphany, january 6.

tonight, i turn and face my fears.

come on, big brother. let's have a family reunion.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

twenty-second night

endings. when do you end a story? with the big climax? when the denouement? with every single plot thread tied away? but this is life and not a story. there is no tying up of plot threads.
there is a story in grimm's fairy tales. it is called "the golden key." in it, a boy wishes to light a fire to warm himself. he finds a golden key under some snow. the golden key is to a iron box. the story ends by saying that it will continue when the boy opens the box. 
that is where it ends. so the boy never opened the box. there was no climax - just the promise of whatever treasure or horror was waiting inside the box, but it will be waiting forever, since it was never opened. the box stayed close and the story ended. 
this is called an anti-climax.

i'm tired of running.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

twenty-first night

names are important. some of the names we give our nightmares are bad - they empower the nightmares - but some take power away.
once upon a time, there was a miller who, to improve his status, declared that his daughter could spin straw into gold. the king, having heard this, took the miller's daughter and insisted she spin a roomful of straw into gold for three nights or else she would be killed. instead of revealing that her father was a liar, she instead cried and cried until an imp appeared and offered to spin the straw into gold for her. on the first night, she paid the imp with her necklace. on the second night, she paid him with her ring. on the third night, she had nothing to pay him with, so agreed to give him her first born child. 
and so, after the miller's daughter and the king were wed and she gave birth to a prince, the imp came back and demanded his payment. the queen pleaded with him to spare her child, so the imp gave her another chance: three chances, to be exact, three nights to guess his name and if they could guess, the deal was voided. 
you know how it ends. someone overhears the imp saying his name, the queen tells rumpelstiltskin (because that is his name), and his tears himself in two. his name, when unknown, gave him power. when known, it made him powerless.

do they have names? i call it the golem, because i refuse to acknowledge it was ever a newborn.


Monday, January 2, 2012

twentieth night

four more nights until the feast of the epiphany.
epiphany is often called theophany, "vision of god." a divine appearance of a god to a mortal. the burning bush. the pillar of cloud and fire by night.  
one tale of theophany concerns semele, a priestess of zeus, who slaughtered bulls for him. one day, zeus looked and saw her swimming in the river to clean the blood from her body and fell in love with her. he appeared to her as an eagle and impregnated her. the ever-jealous hera convinced semele that it might not have been zeus, though, so semele requested a boon from him. zeus stood on the river styx and declared that he would give anything to her - so she requested to see his true form. zeus was forced to reveal himself and the thunder and lightning of his body incinerated her when she looked. 
and we celebrate the appearance of god. the vision of god. something so incomprehensible that if we were to see its true appearance, we would burn away.
during the time of dying cats, when my brother was still my brother, i saw the golem when it was small. it was growing bigger and it managed to open a small tear to babel. it was too small to go through, but i could still see it: the true form of the golem, the vision of god.

i did not burn away. i saw it and did not burn. perhaps i did not see all of it, but it was enough for me to now how small i was. but i did not burn. i hope that means something.


Sunday, January 1, 2012

nineteenth night

every time i look into the mirror, i see her. why am i remembering her now? i can't remember, not with him following me.
once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess trapped in a tower. and then a prince came along and rescued her. but they did not live happily ever after. no, they had two children, a boy and a girl, and they tried to live as best they could, one day at a time. they both worked jobs they did not care for to feed their children, until one day the handsome prince could not take it anymore and left. 
and the beautiful princess was once again trapped in the tower, but this time it was with her son and daughter, so she did not mind. she told them stories every single night until they slept and then she would go to work all night and morning and then it would start over again. until the day a sickness crept into her and she could tell no more stories to her children and the tower crumbled around her.
he is coming and i am busy remembering. but the past will not be lost. it will be made into stories and told to children. perhaps someday someone will make my life into a story.

i hope it will end before my death.