Daytime is hell. The moonlight is mine. I could never sleep. Stood over my mother and father, as they slept. A knife in my hand, a tear on my cheek. I couldn’t do it. Along with the pain they caused, there was love. I knew they couldn’t help it. Dum and Mad.

I made friends with the shadows to stop the torment. Watched bubbles blow and flow on a breeze I controlled with my mind. I saw faces everywhere. Fiends. The creeps spoke to me.
(more…)

     My mother said the ghost in my room would leave when I turned twelve. At thirteen, I started to believe that she was a liar.

     Catherine wasn’t an annoying ghost or a mean ghost, or a ghost that carved cryptic messages into the rafters, or whispered pervy stuff into my friends’ ears while we played video games, or sent a gust of wind over the curve of my girlfriend’s ass the first time we fucked. She just talked to me when I needed a buddy. She spent the rest of her time reading tattered books in my closet. When I’d reach in for my jacket, I’d ask what she was reading, and she’d always say, “You wouldn’t get it.” I guess I believed her, because how could I argue? She’d already lived an entire life.
(more…)

The sirens were raging in the train. Voluptuous, caped, red lips clinging to fangs, cascading curls ropy with sweat. No, the vibration. Screeching in our ears. Green flashing lights. We came out of the tunnel and the lights came back on, yellow and warm and familiar. The police had made an arrest. The train chugged and slowed and whined and then, slowly, picked up speed and we were on our way. We pulled ourselves off the ground and found our seats. When our stop was next we pulled the chain.

     The party was in an old house atop one of the tumbling hills. We climbed the switch-backing streets. Below, the fog was settling over the city, whose lights were fading yellow flashes in the blue-wet atmosphere. The streets were quiet, but we weren’t. The air, clean and moist, filled our lungs, and we filled the air with song; shanties, rhymes, nationalistic pop, the like. Here among the cold houses and trees the sensors were less watchful. We were poets but clerks and machinists and assembly workers, we were poor, we were unnoticed, we were young and the nights never seemed to end.
(more…)

Julie Collins: For our sixth interview with Dook, our Angwin / Yeti spokesman, we are shaking it up. Dook is joined by our first appearance of a female Angwin, Sally.

Before I take questions from the audience, the ushers will pass around a salad made by the Angwin.

OK, first question. Please give your name and where you live. You in the third row, red hat.

Hi, I’m Jane from Manchester England. Sally, if I’m pronouncing that right, who runs your people the males or the females?

Sally: You aren’t pronouncing it right, but I’ve never been able to do French right, so no problem.

We are fairly equalitarian. Unlike humans, we don’t have any “male” or “female” jobs, except that females are the baby makers. Females may have the edge when it comes to art, and males for tool making, but the difference is insignificant. The makeup of our councils is fairly evenly split.

Julie Collins: Let’s hear from the man in the seventh row with the purple coat.

Jake Mbenga from Capetown. We’ve heard a lot lately about politicians and celebrities accused of rape or assault on women. Does that happen among the Angwin?

Dook: Much like humans, Angwin men would like to live a long life, so no.

Sally: It happens, but it is rare for the reason the Dook gives.

If I may ask a follow up, why is that?

Dook: I’d like to say that we are an enlightened people. That is true. It is also true that the Angwin women are usually larger and stronger than the men. This is true in most animals, but not among most mammals. We don’t know why it is true for the Angwin.

Julie Collins: Let’s hear from the man in the Dude hat wearing an orange jacket.

Doug Hawley from Lake Oswego Oregon USA. In earlier interviews, Dook mentioned that Angwin live in caves and under the snow. Is it one or the other or both?

Sally: Dook and I chuckled about that earlier. It is both. We apologize for the lack of clarity, Dook made a mistake in suggesting it was primarily one or the other.

Julie Collins: The woman with the red hair and killer dress in row six.

Michelle Duval from Lyon, France. Sally, how were you chosen to be a part of this interview?

Sally: Same as Dook, short straw. Audience titters. Well, that was part of it, but the same as Dook, my English is good and I am knowledgeable in Angwin culture.

Julie Collins: Petite woman in Hello Kitty outfit, tenth row.

Miu Furingo Tokyo. I’m studying to be an environmental engineer and I appreciate the Angwin’s dedication to sustainability. How do you handle sewage and refuse?

Sally: I’ll take that because Dook seems to be sleeping or meditating. We generate very little waste, because we don’t wear clothing, except for this interview – the producer insisted that we cover the naughty bits – and don’t use packaging. Much like humans, we don’t eat the yellow snow. Chuckling from audience. Anyway, as you probably know, drinking urine causes no problems.

Julie Collins: Let me interrupt a moment. Did you get “naughty bits” from a Monty Python routine?

Dook: That’s right. The retrogrades have been sending up episodes. Are they making any more episodes?

Julie Collins: Sorry to say that one of the Pythons is deceased and the group doesn’t perform together any more. Sorry for the interruption, what were you about to say?

Sally: As a part of our sustainable practices, solid waste is used in our hydroponic gardens where we grow our vegetables.

How do you like your salads? Spitting and groaning sounds from the audience.

Oh come on, we’ve been eating this stuff for hundreds of years and no one ever got sick.

Julie Collins: I see that most of the audience is heading for the doors, so that concludes our sixth exclusive Angwin interview.

 


 

Doug remains a little old man, with website https://sites.google com/site/aberrantword/ and twit @dougiamm

She often felt eyes on her. There would always be signs near her home, Don’t go out past midnight, don’t stand out, don’t show that you are resisting. When she would pick her flowers in her garden, an iris would stare back at her. Some would say she’s going mad. Her attire was only added with lace around the edges, never underneath, and she lived in a small home, maybe with no lurking eyes, made sure her nose was clean.

Am I going mad?

She thought,

I can’t have any thoughts.

Everything must be in order, nothing out of place. Eyes track her daily, don’t mess up, don’t mess up-

The clock chimed, the hands twisted and turned. 11:00 (more…)

“He snickered disagreeably. ‘Me, no,’ he said, ‘me, I don’t hang around here after dark.’ Grinning, satisfied with himself, he stood away from the car … perhaps he will keep popping out at me all along the drive, she thought, a sneering Cheshire Cat, yelling each time that I should be happy to find anyone willing to hang around this place, until dark, anyway.”
                                                                                    Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House

 

     There will always be a Dudley the caretaker dispensing unwanted advice, undermining your resolve to go on that year-long safari, or ignore those travel advisories from the State Department, or explore that haunted house—give up your job, your apartment, and just take off without telling any friends. Maybe you consider your friends much too cautious, or have no friends you care about. You’re drawn to the dark. You crave the unknown, the thrill of finally leaving the ordinary behind.

     You’ve been invited to Hill House by some paranormal researcher you don’t know, your monstrous mother’s finally dead, you’re free to go. You’re haunted too. You’ve been having dreams where you run up and down stairways, out of breath, corridors twist and turn and you’re completely lost, no way to retrace your steps. You quicken your pace and your heart begins to pound. Whispers from the empty elevator shaft are getting louder. Is it your mother, come back from the dead? You peer down into the darkness, swaying on your feet.

     When you accepted the invitation to spend a week with strangers, you were thinking a real haunted house might dispel those dreams and memories. Or maybe you weren’t really thinking, just obeying your instinct to escape now that the door to your cage was open.
(more…)

Lazlo the Bear was kicked to death one night by three men half his age, but he didn’t let that define him. Instead he swallowed the unfortunate incident whole and washed it down with cider and thick fingers the next morning.

It was unfair, of course: he owed no one. None of that shit, he would tell them, everywhere.  But nothing is fair, his grandmother whispered, and he knew she spoke the truth. For she was sly and strong like him, and hung neatly around his neck.

He didn’t go to the funeral, but he watched. Little robin Lazlo in the bushes: what a joke. Only the strangers came – skulls bared, eyeing him carefully where he hid. The priest spoke tight English sadnesses and knew nothing of him, but his kind heart beat so loudly that it was enough for Lazlo. He left his last tall tale on a hook by the chapel door and slipped out.

So, Lazlo is dead. Those faces at the centre would be so surprised now by his liberties, his open plans, his hollow bones. He should slide through the secure doors and peck at their papers, just so, just to show them. Sign here, sigh there, Lazlo the Swift. (more…)