Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Another Excerpt from my short stories.

As a child I found great comfort in the ever-changing caverns formed by the various quilts and blankets on my bed. Not only did they keep me warm in the winter but also they provided a labyrinth of hiding places from the various monsters under my bed and Trolls living in my closet*. They also provided a secure vantage point for me to observe the nocturnal happenings of the nighttime world. From the mouth of the wool caves I watched the singing winds choreograph the branches of the deep woods behind my parents small farmhouse.

On one particular night as the pregnant harvest moon illuminated my tiny bedroom a very peculiar thing happened. The branches of the newly barren trees swayed in the midnight winds, splitting the moonlight and casting my room in a kaleidoscope of shapes that shifted and spun like solid smoke projected across every surface. I nestled beneath the innermost caverns of the mountain of quilts less for warmth and more for the peace of mind that I was in my own secure space. The only entrance to my cave was the tunnel that gave me a perfect view of the wall opposite of the window. A mirror hung next to the opened bedroom door. A collection of books on monsters and lost civilizations sat in a vaguely orderly pile on top of my antique dresser, and may pads of drawing paper and markers lay strewn about my hand-me-down desk.

I slipped in and out of sleep as I watched the shadows play in the two feet between my desk and the top of the pile of books that cluttered my dresser to the top of the opened door. The only sounds in my room were the winds whipping at the window and the shallow breathing of an almost sleeping child.

There was a sound then, like that of a glass sliding across a very short wooden table. My eyes snapped open and my heart began to race. I froze, still in the fear that this new sound was somehow related to one of the many beasties I knew that lurked in the hidden spaces of the world. My heart was beating rapidly in my chest and it took all my restraint to not breath out in short panicked gasps for fear of whatever had made that sound discovering the mouth of my cave.

There was another sound then, closer, and it repeated many times. My eyes stung with tears but I refused to move from my cave. My thoughts were that if it was that something were to do me harm, then it would only react if it knew I was there.

It was then that a part of my network of caves shifted, as if something roughly the size of a soda can had pressed into the fabric and pushed it down. A few inches away another depression formed, and then the first depression seemed to lesson for only a moment before another appeared a few inches away from the last, as if something was moving across the top side of the quilts mere inches from my now completely frozen in fear body. I heard the sound of something hitting the floor in front of my bed. I could not see down into the deep sea of shadow cast by the top of my bed. I was almost sure something was moving in the shadows but I dared not move, else I alert the thing to my presence.

In the spiraling shadows that danced on the wall before me I could make out movement. Something the size of a house cat was moving onto the top of my desk. But it moved less like an animal and more like a hunched over man.

It riffled though some of the things on my desk and in the moonlight I saw a yellowed four fingered hand the size of a doll's hand lift a small Swiss army knife that I had been given months before. The blades were dull from use as a make shift pencil sharpener but the scissors were razor sharp and I almost cried out as I saw them reflecting the moon light like twin blades of mercury. The small hands moved back into the shadows and then after a moment I heard the sound of what I hoped was the knife hitting the desk.

The shadow of whatever it was moved within the forest of two-dimensional branches projected on my wall from the window behind me. It bounded from the corner of my desk to the pile of books, and from the pile of books to the top of my bedroom door.

From the glimpses of its outline I could only assume it was a small man now sitting atop the door, his small thin legs hanging down like two poorly carved dolls legs. It was then that it lifted its tiny, yellowed hand and ignited a small rolled cigar that was held between its needle-like yellowed teeth.

The little creature was truly terrifying for a small child (who had forgotten to breathe) to behold. Its skin was the color of aged paper that had a waxy sheen. Its face was set with two small black eyes and a large hooked nose. A thin white mustache jutted out above the large jagged slit in its face that I could only assume was its needle-toothed mouth. It was the size of a parlor doll; it was dressed in a black coat and short black pants. And its legs ended in hooves that looked like they were made of polished glass.

I was gripped by terror. The thing just sat atop my door smoking its foul-smelling cigarette. It seemed to be unaware of my presence, and after what seemed like an eternity it stood up on top of the door and stubbed out its cigarette with one of its strange cloven feet. It then hopped down to the desk, strode across the desk, and dropped to the floor. I lost site of it, but moments later I heard a scuttling sound across the floor grate that served as the lid to the floor furnace which heated the house. Moments later I heard soft sounds in the kitchen. I had not moved. I was frozen in fear still: there was a small creature roaming my house, and, while I was twice its size, I could not bring myself to moving to investigate. I spent many hours silent and still, listening as the sounds of the little thing moved about my house. I dreaded what it was doing, its needle-teeth filling my head with ghastly images. I took some small comfort in the fact that it never seemed to move to the side of the house where my mother and father were sleeping. I wanted to cry out and warn them, but I dared not do so for fear of the little man.

Many hours later as the first cry of the morning birds came I heard the sounds of what I could only guess were its hooves on the floor of my room. Soon after, the indention appeared in the ceilings of my caves and then I heard the sounds on the windowsill. There was the sound of glass scraping which abruptly stopped. Then, I heard it: the little man. It spoke with a voice like silk and broken glass.

Child, if I or any of my kind had come for you, I would have taken you, there would have been nothing you could have done about it. Your mother and father would have been helpless to stop me and would have awoken to find your bed empty.

I then heard the sound of the glass scraping followed quickly by silence. Some time later the first shafts of dawn began to fill my room. I heard my father moving from his bedroom to the kitchen and the sound of the coffee pot bubbling to life. I waited until the sunlight bathed my room completely before I ventured from my hiding place. I moved to my desk, and there mixed in the pile of markers, was a small chunk of foul smelling cigar and the opened pocketknife.

I spent much of the next week in silence, my mind flashing back to the events of that night. I pooled over the books in my elementary school library. But between the shelves about aliens and werewolves there were no accounts of little men. It was at that point I made the decision to further my study of the world outside of my understanding. I knew that somewhere out there, someone else had to have encountered these creatures. The more fantastical elements of television and film began to lose there edge - the monsters that were contained in the 25 inch box that sat on top of my parents' entertainment center seemed less aw inspiring, the wires and zippers were more visible the lines of the makeup were easy to pick out. I had experienced real fear, the fear that comes from the knowledge that we are not alone in this world, that there are things out there in the darkness that can come and go as they please. It was at that point I understood that old cliché that ignorance is bliss, because knowing that there is so much you don’t know, is one of the greatest burdens I have ever had to carry. From that day on I have made it a point to study everything I can about myths and lore, because there are things out there my friends, that we can only begin to understand. Even with all our technology, we are still just fleshy beings cowering near the glow of our flat screen fires in our suburban modular caves.

Sleep safely, and as always, believe in everything

* I made sure to single out the Trolls for the Trolls must never be omitted else I offend their court and they stop protecting my clothes from the various other things that stalk the shadows of the forest of my closets.

No comments:

Post a Comment