Friday, December 30, 2011

Childs Play

"In the imagination of a child live both our darkest fears and our greatest hopes"  Jaja Toff.

The child sat propped up on his bed, illuminated only by the weak green of the nightlight plugged into the floor socket.  It was too weak to cast strong shadows but those it did seemed all the more menacing for that.  And there was menace.

Had anyone entered the room, they might - in the faint light of the nightlight - have observed the child sitting up in bed.  They would not, however, have been able to see the pyjama chord which bound his feet together.  His hands, similarly bound although this time with a dressing gown belt, were securely tied behind his back.  They would not have seen that either.  Perhaps, after accustoming their eyes to the darkness, they might have noticed the gag made from several tied handkerchiefs that cut deep into the sides of his mouth and kept him silent.  They would certainly not have seen his eyes, open wide and staring in abject terror.  It is certain, though, that they would have been instantly aware of the sickening smell of fear and the unmistakable stench of evil.

But no one came in.  They slept - his parents in their room down the hall, and his younger sister next door - dreaming of faeries, butterflies and songbirds, clutching her Roly-Poly Gladioli Diva doll.

Only the boy did not sleep.  Wide eyed, he was watching a doll - a doll walking slowly, almost painfully, towards him.  The hideous painted face grinned at him and its eyes glistened with the pleasure of anticipation.  It was too dark to see what it held in its tiny plastic hand, but the boy could guess.

When the doll had been bought at the garage sale, it had looked quite innocent.  The smile had betrayed little of its true nature.  Dressed as a confederate soldier in the American Civil War, it would make a good addition to his collection of memorabilia.  It's grey uniform had looked enticingly authentic - only the painted smile on the plastic gave it away as a cheap Chinese import.

So he'd bought it for a dollar and placed it with some of his other soldiers a few nights ago where it looked very much at home.  True, it was nearly three foot high whereas the others were only twelve inches, but that only seemed to increased the impressiveness of the piece.  Yes, it had been an excellent addition to his military collection.

Only perhaps it hadn't.

The doll edged closer, agonizing step by agonizing step until it was only a matter of inches from the boy.  Drool dribbled slowly from the painted mouth and hung like a jellied stalactite for a moment until falling to the floor with a plop.  Its eyes, no more than two black dots in two black ovals, seemed to glisten with excitement.

As slow and painful the approach to the bed was, not so for the attack.  The toy-formed demon swung its plastic arm upwards with a lightening speed to reveal the glint of a long, fine, sharp knife.  The boy whined and shook, and the smell of sweat and bowels filled the room as the knife swung down with a terrifying and complex combination of lightening speed and - yet - slow motion, towards the boy's stomach.

Into the stomach it plunged and with a deft turn of the plastic wrist the living intestines were plucked from the boy.

Or, at least, so it would have been, had it not been for the teddy.

As the knife swung down,  Theo the Teddy Bear swung into action.  If the doll moved now with the speed of sound, then the Teddy moved with the speed of light and using the shepherds crook from the boy's younger sister's 'Little Bo Peep' set, knocked the knife from the hand of the pestiferous polypropylene ponce.  The painted eyes betrayed a look of surprise, but it scrambled with astonishing speed to where the knife had landed with a clatter on the floor a few feet away.

No sooner had it picked up its sinister weapon and turned when there was Theo, standing resolutely between the boy and the doll.  Good versus evil with a child's life the prize.  The smile on the doll seemed to widen with the joy of promised violence and the anticipation of its prize and the additional horrors that it now promised in its dark, demonic mind.

The knife cut the very air as the doll swung it from side to side.  The bear deflected it, time and again, using the crook - striking this way, then that, first tarrying, then twisting, then jabbing - but losing a little ground each time.  The bear was good - very good - but the doll was better.

The bed pressed hard against the bears back, but still the slashing of the knife came, and came, and came.  Then, a cut to the arm - small but a cut never-the-less.  Then a jab to the chest.  Bit by bit the bear's defenses and strength wore down, as the doll cut further and further into it.  The battle neared it's finish and the doll grew even stronger in it's victory.  Finally, scarred and marked, the crook broke in two and the bear was left holding only a jagged end.

The dolls knife drew back with a vicious sideways jerk and was about to arc through the bears neck for the final kill before the ultimate thrill, when there came a piercing scream from behind it.  It turned it's hideous painted plastic head in an instant to see Roly-Poly Gladioli Diva standing at the door - with the force of La Donna est Mobile projecting from her electronically operated Japanese mechanism.  Theo the Teddy Bear took his chance and plunged the broken end of the shepherds crook straight into the head of the doll.  It collapsed on the floor and the evil that had powered it, fled.

It was over.

The Fat Lady had Sung.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The White Christmas

Ernst Meyer, 89 year old pensioner and sole occupant of room 26, Twilights Retirement Home,  was awake.

He had woken suddenly, drenched in sweat and breathing fast.  A slight pain beat time in his chest, but it was not the pain that had awakened him.  At least, not that pain.

His eyes adjusted slowly to the half-dark of the room and the shadows and shapes slowly resolved themselves from some vague echo of the dreamscape into real, everyday things - wardrobe, bedside-table, armchair.  He took a deep sharp breath - something silvery like a phantom danced before him near the ceiling.  Then he almost smiled.  Tinsel.  Of course, it was only the tinsel hung up by the staff at the home for Christmas.  But Christmas had no power over the nightly tortures.  In fact..... he shuddered.

"Bad dream?" asked the voice who shared his single room.

Ernst did not answer but nodded.  It was too soon to talk.

He'd been having the dreams now for almost seventy years.  Not every night.  Most nights.  Yet they still had this power over him - seventy years on they could still tear him apart.  He wondered if it would ever change. 

"Tell me" said the voice soothingly, "in your own time".

Ernst lay back onto the bed and closed his eyes but opened them almost immediately.  Too much was still there waiting to be seen by closed eyes.  Horrors that only holidayed in the shadows lived in the sight of closed eyes.  He looked over to the visitor's chair and regarded the man who now sat there.  He wavered, in the chair, like something out of a dream - but then so did the chair.  Everything wavered when a dream tears you from very sleep itself.

"Yes" he said at length.  "Another bad dream".  Then he corrected himself.  "The same bad dream".

"I thought that it might be so" said the man gently.  He paused for a moment and then asked, as he had for so many years, "Do you want to tell me about it?"

Ernst Meyer, dreamer of bad dreams, always said no, thank you but no.  There was a risk - a terror - that talking about the dream might in some way bring it into the world as some objectively existing fact - and he couldn't face that.   So he always said no.  Some things were best imprisoned - at least as much as he could imprison them.

Tonight, however, he did not say no.  Perhaps it was the pain in his chest which had been worsening of late; perhaps it was the fact that it was Christmas; perhaps it was simply that he was tired of running.

"I'd" he began and hesitated.  He took a breath and continued "I'd like to tell you about it".

The man showed no sign of interest - nor disinterest.  He simply regarded Ernst thoughtfully for a moment and then said "You want to tell me about your dream?  Of course, I'll be glad to hear you - but only if you're ready" said the man.

Ernst Meyer,  swallowed hard and then, despite the dark, nodded.  "Yes" he said.  "Yes, I think I am".  For whatever reason, the time had come.  It was time to unlock the cage.

"Go on" said the man, "but in your own time.  For you," he added, "I have as much time as you need"

In fact, not much time was needed - the dream itself was very short, its real power lay in its intensity.

"I'm holding my child - my son" began Ernst. "Not in my arms but with my hand clasped upon his and he is dangling about a foot above the ground from that hand.  He's crying and screaming but" and Ernst felt the sickness and horror of the dream as he gave it life in words and he almost stopped.  Almost.  It took a few moments to continue but his friend calmly waited in silence.  After a moment or two, Ernst continued. "He stops screaming and looks up at me and " then almost spitting the words out he continued "and I shoot him dead.  I shoot him dead".  Tears began to run down the face of Ernst Meyer and he buried his head in his hands.

There was a deep silence in which neither spoke for a good minute.    Finally, his friend said to him "But you didn't kill your son did you".  It was not a question - it was a statement.

Ernst Meyer, old man and father, lifted his head from his tear sodden hands and looked at the man in the chair.  "No" he said.  "My son is alive - he comes here every week to visit me". Ernst held out his hands, palm upwards, towards his friend as if to show off the lack of bloodstains.  "I didn't kill my son.  Only in the dream".  And he repeated the words again, as much to himself as any other "Only in the dream".

There was another silence in which Ernst thought much but said little until suddenly as if the words exploded from his very mouth he cried "I need to tell you what I didn't dream."

It was 1943 and by accounts a good year.  Certainly he was doing OK and the war - if you could believe the propaganda machine - was going pretty well too.   He was due for leave, starting Christmas Day, and expected to be home with his wife and son by the afternoon - just in time for their Christmas meal.  Not withstanding the war, everything was perfect.

Almost perfect.

Ernst Meyer, father and good soldier, had drawn duty in one of the camps.  It was not up to a soldier to pick and choose their posting, but had he picked he would certainly not have chosen that.  Jews!  He could see why they were so unpopular.  Dirty, smelly, lousy and they looked like animals.  'The Zoo' he called it when he went home on leave.  And he was a zoo keeper.  They used to laugh at that, him and his wife.

But there, on duty, he found little to amuse him.  Laughter in the camp was born not of humour but of hate.

It was not that the 'things' that he guarded drew any real compassion from him - they were after all just the final remnants of an evolutionary mistake.   In fact they were more like hideous caricatures of people than people themselves.  Never-the-less, sometimes - when his thinking was unguarded - he might almost has thought them human.  But such thoughts were dangerous.

"Dogs are dogs and rats are rats" the camp Commandant  would tell him.  "and jews are jews.  But what you have to remember Meyer, is that dogs don't pretend to be anything else.  It's the same with the rats.  Rats don't pretend to be horses do they!" and the Commandant would laugh his big hearty laugh.  It was the hearty laugh of someone who might easily shoot you dead if you gave them the slightest reason - or even if you didn't.  It escaped neither Ernst nor anyone else that laughing and shooting you dead could come only seconds apart with the Commandant.

"And that's the problem with the jew" he continued, "they pretend to be human" and there was no sign of mirth now - neither feigned nor genuine.  "That's what makes them worse than dogs, worse than rats."

It was Christmas eve and Ernst Meyer, Camp Guard, was on duty.  Snowflakes tumbled from the sky, turning the whole camp white.  Ernst tried to forget that it was not proper snow but the hard dry snow that knew nothing of ice nor water nor melting.  He thought of his wife and son readying the home for Christmas Day - she would be cooking already and he no doubt helping her as only a two year old child could.  Feelings of warmth and celebration began to burn in him and his heart beat a fraction faster in anticipation of his coming leave. 

A tug on his trousers also had the effect of tugging him back into reality. He looked down to see a young child at his feet.  It was  a dirty, half-starved, jewish boy.  So engrossed had he been in his own thoughts that he had almost trodden on it.  An older female, presumably the mother, stood some way off screaming hysterically - presumably enticing it to return.  The child, however, stayed where it was and continued tugging at his uniform trousers - taking no notice of the mother.

The Commandant had taken notice however and immediately marched over to Ernst, drawing his pistol as he came.
"Zerstören das Ungeziefer" he barked.  "Zerstören das Ungeziefer!"  Destroy the vermin.  There was no good-natured laughter now.  The fat, ovoid face of the Commandant was red and full of anger. 

Ernst Meyer, Camp Guard and good soldier,  had looked at the Commandant blankly at first, frankly unable to comprehend what the fuss was all about.  The Commandant shouted again, this time in rage.  "Zerstören das Ungeziefer!" Ernst's rifle was pulled from him and the Commandant's pistol thrust into his hand.

It was a moment that Ernst Meyer, father, had all but obliterated from his memory.  Most of his time at that camp had been exterminated with the same ruthlessness as the jews themselves.  Now, as he recounted the story, it came flooding back into vivid detail.

He had reached down with his innocent arm and grasped the child by the hand, lifting it up into the air by it's arm.  The mother's cries had died down somewhat as terrible fear gave way to the inexpressible horror of knowing.  She half kneeled, half lay, restrained by the joint efforts of starvation and despair.  The child, held aloft by one arm, dangled and wriggled and cried - though less from pain than from fear.  It squirmed desperately but could not escape the vice-like lock of his hand. 

"Sie hat sich eine Kugel in ihr oder ich eine Kugel in euch geben!" screamed the Commandant.  Put a bullet in it or I'll put one in you.

The child stopped its wriggling and looked up at Ernst Meyer, holder of children in the air by one arm. 

And Ernst Meyer, Camp Guard and father, put a bullet into it.

Ernst Meyer, murderer, monster and human being, stopped talking.  The heart that had died with that bullet finally caught up with its own death.  The dream released from the cage died in its awakening.

And the man with whom Ernst Meyer, pensioner, shared his single room, shook his head.  It had taken nearly seventy years, but finally he had faced it.   And the young child with a hole in his head, formerly the man with whom Ernst Meyer had shared his single room, faded into the oblivion of the past.

Outside, it started snowing.  Real snow.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Things were very quiet ...

Things were very quiet, now the phantom had passed away,
For ghosts are also subject to age and decay,
The house now was empty, save the creaking of the boards,
And the wails of a lonely wind in harsh and ugly chords.

Things were very quiet, now the phantom had passed away,
The spiders got to weaving, their webs of silver grey,
The dust relaxed to settle, now that the ghost was dead,
Even cats and bats came back, from wherever they had fled.

Things were very quiet, now the phantom had passed away,
Moonbeams dared to shine again, in their secret, silver way,
And life, at last, returned, to the place that had meant death,
and the air that once was strangled, came back to take a breath.

Things were very quiet, now the phantom had passed away,
And normality took up residence, at least throughout the day.
But as the night grows longer, when the dark is at its most,
they say the place is haunted now, by the phantom's ghost.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Nanotales #1

Light and dark danced about him, drugs and booze overcame him,
hunger overpowered him and death became his only companion.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Room For One On Top

 A slight variant on a classic ghost tale.....

‎'Twas late of night and all had bade farewell to day and gone to bed at last,
Whence I looked from my boudoir out upon that night so dark,
And beheld a vision of a bus, that drove about a mist,
And from the back there came a call, the call that came was this...

"Room for one on top"

And with that the bus was started forth, and made to move away
But there came a frightful screaming sound that rings my ears today,
A burst of light and flame tore forth and split the very sky,
But echoing still about the night I heard that haunting cry,

"Room for one on top"

Well, upon the morn I quit my bed, eager for my work,
And forgetful of the night's events, I recoiled with a jerk,
As a bus pulled in to where I stood, with a grinding of the gears,
And I heard the voice of certain death that echoed all my fears,

"Room for one on top"

So I walked to work.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

She Wandered Ever Eternally

She wandered ever eternally,
A twilight creature all alone,
Lost in thoughts and memory,
Unheard, unseen, untouched, alone.

Red wine drinking, every night,
Tomato juice at every morn,
She was a terrifying sight,
So alone, and so forlorn.

Sucking beetroot, never necks,
Bloodied wounds, she would not touch,
Her bloodshot eyes were full of specs,
She really wasn't up to much,

Vegula was a vampire strange,
Starving, weakened, but still a scary-un,
Far and near did this vamp range,
Vegula was a vegetarian.