Category Archives: Creativity

Four phrases

They came up behind us on the left, eyes black as tar. Three of them in a car, a convertible, speeding up and staring at us, even the driver, not paying any attention to the road.

“Say the 4 phrases,” called out the driver, a terrible anger in his voice.

“What the hell is he talking about,” said Phil as he glanced over at me, keeping a quick glance at the road every couple of seconds.

“How the fuck should I know?” I said and turned away from our unwanted guests.

Just then, they smashed into our car and sent us careening off the road, skidding to a stop, almost making us smash into the guard rail. Phil’s dirty mouth would embarrass his grandmother, I’m sure, but in this case I’ll let it slide.

They were already getting out of their car and coming towards us, gruff and stalwart, bold and determined. Phil and I managed to get out of the car but Jesse was still dazed from the impact and stayed in the car.

They pulled him out and pushed him to the ground. The driver motioned and his henchmen pinned Jesse to the ground.

“SAY THE FOUR PHRASES,” the leader’s spittle sprayed in Jesse’s face even as he attempted to turn away.

“I don’t… I don’t know what you’re talking ab–”

Henchman #1 slammed his fist into Jesse’s face and we heard the knock of bone on bone; the swelling was immediate.

“SAY THEM.”

We were standing, stunned, at about 20 feet, hearts pounding and sweat drenching our shirt collars.

“Multi sumus…” said Henchmen #2 as he reached into his jacket pocket and produced a small blade that seemed like it had a faint blue glow to it. He stabbed Jesse in the neck.

“Holy shiiii-” we turned and began to run; discretion is the better part of valor, indeed.

From behind us we could hear a chant begin with the three black-eyed aggressors. We paused behind a large tree to listen.

“Multi sumus
Nos unum sumus
A tenebris
Nos vires colligat”

“What the fuck are they saying,” Phil was so scared that he didn’t even look at me when he spoke.

“How the fuck should I know?” I glanced at Phil briefly, then back at the murderous, chanting horde that just killed Jesse. “What do we do now? We’re in the middle of nowhere and there’s nothing for miles. I don’t think we’ve got a chance.”

“We fight.” Phil said to himself, barely aloud.

“FIGHT?” Maybe Phil forgot that we’re middle-aged white dudes with wives and mortgages and beer guts; we’re just some guys heading out for a weekend where we pretend we’re 20 again. Now Jesse’s dead. How do we explain THAT to Kelly?

Shit! Kelly! I glanced at my watch – we were supposed to check in an hour ago. Wait – “Hey – our wives will be worried when we haven’t called to check in…”

“What? Are you high? They’re boozin’ it up and talkin’ us down to each other,” Phil was, as usual, right on the money. Our break was their break and they weren’t going to miss us.

A gunshot ricocheted through the trees. We both turned to look and we only saw the henchmen; the leader was gone. Shit, shit, shit!

We turned to run deeper into the woods – so much for fighting. About 50 feet in and I saw a flash out of the corner of my eye… I grabbed at Phil’s shirt and motioned for him to stop, then put two fingers up to my eyes and pointed them at our 2 o’clock; watching Predator 100 times had come in handy.

We ducked down and watched him searching for us, his black eyes gave no hint of his intentions.

Then, a twig cracked behind us; the henchmen were on us before we knew what happened.

“SPEAK THE FOUR PHRASES!”

Phil, ever so brave, began, “multi sumus,” and glowing blue tracers started to swirl around the body of Henchman #1. “Nos unum… uh, um,” Phil stammered and closed his eyes to concentrate.

“Sumus,” I added, and Henchman #1 exploded in a blue glow and was gone. I could swear that Phil was glowing faintly blue, but maybe it was just residual from the henchman.

Henchman #2 wrapped his arm around my neck. “FINISH,” he said, his black eyes seemed intent on Phil.

“Uh… uh… a tenebris,” Phil continued and Henchman #2 began to laugh as the glowing tracers surrounded him.

“Nos viris…” Phil put his hand up to his eyes as the henchman gave in to the same fate at his brethren. Phil’s eyes were dark – or was it the dark of the woods? Or that glow coming from his skin now…

“FINISH IT,” came the deep baritone from behind us. Phil obliged.

“…colligat…” and with that, the leader dropped to his knees and was gone in a blue flash.

Wide eyed and hooting, I turned to Phil, but it wasn’t Phil, it was a person with black eyes on Phil’s face, staring (I presumed) right at me, faintly glowing blue.

“Come, henchman.”

Come down

“There’s probably no room anywhere,” she looked up and cackled. Well, more of a shit-eating grin than a cackle, as if she meant something that she wasn’t really willing to share with me.

I made my way to the next room, stepping over the mess, and looked in and a younger version of herself was in there, laying on her stomach, craned her head up to look at me and her brows were raised in a caricature of themselves, as if they were devilishly slanted away.

I carefully plotted my way to the next room and there was no room in there, either, and I suddenly had a strong urge to get out, a strong sensation that I didn’t belong in there. As I searched for a place, I saw the plastic leg on the floor and knew I had to get out.

Back in the hallway, the elderly woman was singing Come Down by Bush, and I immediately was struck that she shouldn’t know the words to this song, that is was unnatural. She looked at me and mouthed the words over the song that was now playing in the background.

“Love and hate, get it wrong, just cut me right back down to size. Let it fade. Who was there to take your place?” And she kept going on and on. “I don’t wanna come back down from this cloud. It’s taken me all this time to find out what I need, yeah yeah yeah.”

I went back into the room whence I began the trek and there was Cate, pulling out drawers like rails, setting up pillows on them, making a bed. “What are you doing,” my look said to her. A furrowed brow and raised lower lids and she went back to what she was doing.

A moment later, “These won’t work for the kids. Unless you pull apart the base and use them to clip their feet.” I didn’t get what she was going on about, so I laid back down and closed my eyes, slipping precariously into a dream within a dream, a solace within a nightmare, and the flooding of the pattern as I fell headfirst, plunged in control, plunged out of control.

“I don’t wanna come back down from this cloud.” I thought, what does it mean? It’s taken me all this time to find out what I need? What do I need? What did I find out that I needed?

And I slipped out of one dream and into another as a background noise momentarily woke me.

“There is no blame, only shame, when you beg I just complain.” Then it all comes down. Comes down. And I don’t wanna come back down. I spent all this time.

Then my mind begins to find meaning in meaning, meaning in the void of emptiness. Meaning in nothing. Meaning in everything. I remember, slowly, that I’m dreaming and this is a construct, and none of this is real. I mean, none of it. The dream, the void, reality. We’re all just particles slowed down enough to have mass, which is to say that we’re the same as the light the same as the dark the same as the matter and anti-matter and we could just pair annihilate today, any day, any moment. Why not now? Why not today? Why not be there and be here at the same time?

And does this mean that time is meaningless, while at the same time is full of meaning? I believe it does. I believe I’ve seen something, a glimpse, a peek. What if we really are just the machinations of a never-ending, Mandelbrot-ish algorithm, interminable, with no start because the beginning is reverse engineered into the pattern from the ending. There’s no start, no end, no pure pattern, and the creator has long since perished, and we were simply his search for meaning in a meaningless void, and now his search resulted in creatures that continue to search for the same meaning? Some say they’ve found it but the fact that not all have found it means that the algorithm is still running, running, fitting the pieces together. Some call it God, some god, some a creator, some a higher power, an intelligence. Some have declared the war over and the answer has been found to be no answer. Some have said the answer is 42, which I personally enjoy, but you never really know because the algorithm crunches on, on, ever into the void and we can’t see it any more than a line knows a second or third dimension.

Gravity Well

It was a freak accident, really. Electromagnetic mass vs. inertial mass. The funding was for research into superconductors. What we DO know is that several superconductors exist, but they’re expensive materials or expensive to get to superconductivity. The holy grail of room-temperature superconductivity still hasn’t been found.

But that doesn’t matter.

Tom wasn’t supposed to be messing around, but, with his usual disdain for our work and his attitude that superconductivity IS the holy grail – just as non-existent – he spent most of his time farting around with magnetic fields and rambling about gravity.

And then, one day, it happened.


In order to avoid any perception of tampering, metallic objects are removed. Rings, watches, bracelets, necklaces – everything. Tom had a watch he didn’t want to take off. We badgered him all the time. When we weren’t riding his ass, he did what he wanted to do. And usually forgot to take off his watch.

“Hey, Tom, lunch!” I cracked open the door and yelled into the lab. Tom glanced at his watch, then at the wall clock, then back to his watch again, narrowed his eyes, and looked at me. With THAT look. “Oh, no, Tom, I’m fuckin’ hungry, dude!” I pleaded.

“Go on ahead.” He waved me off and started to undo the latch on his watch.

“Whatever. Burgers first, superconductivity second!” I shrugged and let the door close itself and gathered up the boys and went to grab that burger.


“Tom! Tom?” I opened the door brazenly, intending to give him a hard time for missing lunch, but the room was cold and empty. Colder than it should have been. I furrowed my brow, crossed my arms and rubbed my upper arms.

CRACK!

I jumped back and looked over to see Tom stumbling like he just landed from a 10 foot drop. He steadied himself and waved the fog away from him, brushed back his hair, and gave me THAT look. Again.

“What the fuck just happened? Where were-”

“Ho-lee-shit,” Tom said, eyes wide and shaking with excitement.

He unstrapped his watch and threw it at me. It was 10 hours ahead. He walked to the table and picked up another watch. It was set to yesterday. The room was even colder now.


“It’s not about superconductors. All this work with electromagnetic fields and extremely low frequencies and all that. Bullshit.” Tom was walking around the room, his labcoat blowing back as he waved his hands around and whipped around as he paced.

“What I did, instead, was to correlate gravitational energy with inertial energy. And that changed gravity locally, within the confines of the machine.” His eyes were wide and his fingers were splayed and palms were upturned. It was an expectant grin but I looked at him over the rim of my glasses and indicated that I didn’t understand.

“Look. You’re chasing down conductivity. That’s not the way to go. Einstein proposed that large objects displaced and warped timespace. Einstein also said that mass and energy are the same thing.”

“Okay,” I knew this much, but I still wasn’t making the connection.

“Okay. So. If gravity is associated with energy, mass is energy, then energy should be able to warp timespace if we can manipulate gravity, which we can, by manipulating energy the way I have with this machine.” He was out of breath from excitement, his pupils were wide and his stubble looked like 4 days of growth, enhancing the crazy man effect.

“So you built a time machine?” I think I finally figured out what he was getting at.

“Lemme show you,” he leapt past me, out the door. Tentatively, slowly, I followed. When I got to the doorway, he just about knocked me over as he came back in with a cage full of white mice.

“Count them,” he said, pushing the back of my arm towards the cage.

“one..two..five… nine. Nine mice. What are you going to do?”

“Give me one of them.” He waved his hand towards himself. I reached in and grabbed a little guy with black stripe on his head so I knew which one I had taken.

“Stand there. I’ll be back in a flash,” and, damn it, I’m started to hate THAT look. He went to his machine, started fiddling with knobs, grinned, looked up at me, and CRACK! he was gone in a mist of vapors, and the surrounding area on the metal lab bench was covered in frost.

CRACK! He was back just as quickly as he was gone, hardly a moment gone by. He grabbed the bench to keep from falling and pulled the mouse out of his pocket and waved his finger towards the cage. I turned around and counted.

“One… two… six… nine?”

And then three more Tom’s filed into the room. THAT look again.

One Word

Blown sand and hot sun. And a dark figure standing at a distance, holding a scythe. Positioned not quite towards me. Face dark under a hood. Deathly still.

I was never sure what to do when I saw him there. He came and went randomly through my life. Well, I think he was random, though I can’t say that I ever saw or noticed or placed a pattern at all. I don’t know. All I know is that he was there. Again and again, he was there.

And when he was there, he was there. I know that sounds stupid, but that’s the way it was. When he wasn’t there, he wasn’t there.

He was a spirit, I think. When he was there, it was a really strong feeling. There was a presence, there was a palpable tenseness in the air. And that’s how you know. And that’s why, when he was there, he was there.

Same way when he wasn’t. It was happy and chipper and free and you could feel like you were one with nature and you could get down and feel the dirt between your toes and you can feel the grass on your skin, hugging it and cutting it all the same, but real. There. When he wasn’t there, he wasn’t there, you know?

Today, he was there.

The electricity in the air made my hair stand on end. The fire in my heart burned endlessly and left me wanting. I needed to have more and I needed to feel more than I had ever felt. And then I could feel him there. Like a shadow looking over your shoulder. Like a demon haunting the edge of your periphery. I could always feel him before I could see him. But I couldn’t always see him. Today, I saw him. And he was clear. A rare treat for me.

Or you can call it a treat if you like. Today, also, he was actually more facing me than facing away from me. And I could always tell even if I couldn’t see him because when he was really close, not just there, but close… When he was close, I could smell him. Stench of body odor and sweat and unwashed death.

I could also hear him when he faced more towards me than away from me. The changing of his angle was always disturbing, because that’s when it happened. Not that there was a pattern when appeared – but, I tell ya, there’s a pattern when he starts to face towards me. There’s a definite pattern when he faces closer and closer to me. There’s a stark reality, and I can smell it and hear it and I can feel it like a blast furnace to the chest.

Today was a particularly bad day for me. I wasn’t really there. I was lost in thought. I was lost in myself, as I am wont to do. I was lost in me. I was lost in him. Thoughts of him pervade my very being when he’s around.

The noise was suddenly louder and I winced at the pain in my head, in my ears, and I looked over and I was in the desert with him. I was standing in the heat and the sun and the sand was blowing over my feet and I looked up and the nose wouldn’t let up. He was looking at me now, no angle – dead-on.

“NO! Not today! You can’t! I won’t let you!” I screamed and knew he couldn’t hear me. Well, couldn’t, wouldn’t, doesn’t make no difference.

He raised an arm and a bony finger pushed out of the end of the black sleeve. The stench was overpowering. He’s never done this before. I squinted my eyes and put my arm up in front of my face to block the sand that was whipping around.

In the midst of the sudden sandstorm, he splayed his fingers out and a sphere of quiet and still opened up around his hand, slowly expanding out until it was a dome around us. Silent and still, the stink grew as the noise muted. He reached up and put his hand on top of his hood. He pulled it down and I dropped to one knee at the sight of his face.

As I dropped, I yelled, “NO! NO! NO! You can’t!” and he stared, straight-faced, MY FACE, looking straight at me, and finished it with one word.

Bigfoot

It didn’t matter if it was real or not. It still freaked him out. No matter what, it still freaked him out.

As he brushed his teeth, he looked out the window into the blackness of the night. Into the void, as it were. Into what he couldn’t know.

And then he heard it. A tap at the window. He whipped back around and peered out, squinting to see what the fuck that was. Nothing. He turned out the light and ducked down beneath the level of the window.

“Click” It happened again. Stay down, he thought, stay down you fool and you won’t get into any trouble here.

CLICK it happened again and it was a bigger rock. The light out, he peeked up and looked out into the woods to see if he could make anything out. The moon was full and he could see the edge of the woods. Just the edge. To go beyond that would require going out into the woods.

He’s seen too may shows not to go. Too many times where they had interest but not the gumption to go out and do something. Damn it all, this time was his time. This was it. This time he was going to beat the odds and go into the woods with a video camera.

He raced down the stairs, being as quiet as possible. not wanting to wake anyone or disturb the beast that was hitting his window with rocks. He made he way out the side door onto the deck, and kept looking. creeping along the side of the house, he looked out. The flood light was on and there was no way he was gong to that way, fuck that shit. He was going to have to make his way around in an arc through the darkness, trying desperately to be quiet.

New England had its share of woods and this wood was no different than the rest. Loud branches littered the ground and leaves were everywhere. The smell of the leaves as they rotted filled your nostrils, especially this late at night. The tree canopy wasn’t filled up yet in the early spring, so the moon light cast a strong shadow that played on ones imagination and senses. Where the flickering movements real? Were there animals in the woods? Was there really a Bigfoot? A Sasquatch?

He made his way out the side yard and into the neighbor’s yard. He’d been this way several times before and knew that the neighbor has a back entrance to the path in the woods, too. He makes his way to the path at the back of his neighbor’s properly, past the deer target with a big salt lick under it, and into the the woods.

He kept his pace slow and his footing deliberate. He could see more tonight than most nights and he intended to use it to his advantage. He walked like an Indian and kept his footing like a deer.

He scoured the night and several times closed his eyes tightly for 10 seconds just to re-ajjust his eyes to the night, to the dark. It worked. Off in the distance he saw movement. He used this peripheral vision because looking straight at this wasn’t bound to try to fool him and he didn’t want any false surprises, any false sightings, anything to throw him off.

“I have the upper hand, now, you fucker.” he kept circling back, looking for the position that had a direct sight go his bathroom window so he could find where the creature had been viewing him. He made it around a wide arc and came to a clearing. The stench was awful, half skunk and half sweaty body odor, and he quickly lifted up the collar of his shirt over his nose and cursed under his breath. What the fuck was this thing? And why the fuck did it stink so much?

He examined the bed where the creature had lay, and he could clearly see the second floor of his house from here. He could see it really well, and he looked off into the distance with his peripheral vision again, hoping to catch errant movement of the beast. Nothing. Damnit!

He crouched down and grabbed a handful of matted hair from the nest and sniffed it. Oh, god, what a horrific stench. He was looking around and as he turned, he saw it’s eyes glowing and he looked up into the face of the beast. It roared and stretched its arms up.

The sleep bargain

“It’s like a hole in space-time. Except it’s not.” I wanted to explain further/better, but couldn’t find the words. I didn’t really understand how it worked myself, actually. I just did it, I didn’t really have to work on it.

“You just focus, focus on one thing, focus on THAT thing, and it happens,” I explained, raising my brows, hoping there was a glimmer of understanding. There wasn’t.

“Okay, look, I’ll show you,” I insisted and I sat down my book and assumed the position. Crossed arms and palms up, back straight, crown pulled up by an imaginary thread.

I began to concentrate. My vision blurred and my focus turned inward. The swirling colors of a kaleidoscope, the tunnel of a wormhole, and I was rushed there.

Walking around, I stepped hard to see if the surface was real – reality checks, they’re called. I do them all day. I have a secret device that I keep with me. It’s something that you’d never get right in the dream because it has words printed on it. And printed words don’t persist in dreams. Call it a charm or a token. I call it a lifesaver.

I looked up the stairs and they led up to darkness and cobwebs, which was unusual. I went into the kitchen and the sun was setting and the lights were out. It was quiet – eerily quiet, even moreso than normal. Another reality check and I’m still in the dream.

I begin to feel the tug back to reality, and this time I decide to indulge it, assuming it’s my pupil.

Back through the tunnel and the lights, and I focus my eyes and take a deep breath. Always relaxing.

“But what else can you do in there? If it’s not real, what’s the value?” He wasn’t really curious, and I suspected that he was asking a question to which he already knew the answer. He waited patiently for my reply.

I sighed and got back up on my bed. “You don’t get it.” I knew I couldn’t explain, even after I showed him.

“Show me again. This time, make it do something to me. Drag me in, push me down, tickle my ass. Something.” His shit-eating grin was getting under my skin.

I got back down, silently, and proceeded to go back in. This time, I was outside. Dream sign? Check! Reality check? Check!

I conjured up a room. In the room, I summoned a chair. In the chair, I summoned the wary student. He came in wisps at first and it took him several seconds to materialize. His eyes were wide and shifty and he started to get up. And laugh.

“You crazy motherfuc-”

“No. My rules,” I said in a stern voice. He stared and sat back down. I wasn’t sure yet if he understood that it wasn’t his choice. He would find out soon enough.

“But… the rules… the real… I mean, how does this…” He stammered and I knew what he was asking. They all ask the same questions.

“Yes, if I want it to,” I cautioned. Because it was done now. He was my ticket.

I breathed in and looked up; the hut disappeared. The sun was warm on my face as I fondled my token in my pocket. I smiled. I’d like to tell you it was a sinister smile, but it was probably just my imagination.

We were going to see the Oracle.

“Come with me,” I commanded. He realized this time that he had no say in the matter, and fear crossed his face. I looked him square in the eyes and cut my gaze, turned, and walked down the path.

The walk was long. I can fly in my dreams. I can teleport. I can do anything. It’s my dream. But, in this case, I wanted the terror to build. He couldn’t speak, he couldn’t move of his own will. He couldn’t do anything I didn’t want him to do.

“Go. Listen to the Oracle. Listen carefully. Do not attempt to tell me what the Oracle says to you.” I was simply warning him, but I already knew he would ignore me and do whatever he wanted.

I watched him disappear into the building. Watched him glance back as the door closed. I sat on a bench and waited. I didn’t have to wait long before he was screaming and pounding on the door. I checked my nails and picked out some dirt from under one. More screaming. More pounding.

Blood leaked out from under the door, and the deal was sealed. The bargain was kept. I was free.

Deep

“It’s a fucking hole!” came crackling over the walkie talkie.

“What? I know it’s a hole; we’re digging it, jackoff.” Bart was always rude. Or sarcastic. Or whatever the fuck he wanted to be.

“I know that, dingus, but this isn’t the hole we’re digging. This one just drops off. It’s just a HOLE.” Rodney was sweating from the small amount of labor it took to get back from the pit. Bart just shook his head at the poor fatty. It’s not his fault he’s stupid.

“I’m coming in for a look,” and with a crackle, the radio clicked off.

Rodney saw a shadow move. “What the fu–” he began, and jumped when Bart’s hand landed on his shoulder. “Jeezus fuckin’ Christ, don’t do that shit to me,” he was panting and holding his hand over his heart. “I swear I fuckin’ saw something move down there.”

“You’re full of shit, Rod.” Bart had a way with words. “Gimme your flashlight.”

Rodney raised his brows and opened his eyes wide, “Don’t you think I did that already, jack off?” His belly bounced when he laughed. “Couldn’t see shit.”

“Gimme it,” Bart sighed and took the flashlight and tied a rope to it, anchored the other end of the rope to a stake, and began to lower it. “Get your camera out.”

“Ain’t got a camera.”

Pausing for dramatic effect, Bart kicked into high gear. “Well ya got a fuckin’ phone, ain’t ya? That’s got a camera, ain’t it?”

“Yeah, guess,” Rodney looked at the ground as he pulled his phone out of his back pocket, just as a screech came out of the hole.

“What the fuck was that?” they said in unison, looking at each other.

Bart continued to let down the flashlight. As it twisted on the rope on its descent, they could see small holes in the sides of the cave. Another screech.

“Drop it, dumbass, you’re pissin’ ’em off!” Rodney was no hero, and was backing away from the pit, heading towards the excavator. “I’m covering this back up. The suits at the office can come down here and figure out what to do.”

Bart tugged on the rope to pull the flashlight back up… and something tugged back. Quizzically, Bart furrowed his brow and made a game of it, grinning, and tugged twice. The rope tugged back twice in reply.

The hole began to glow. A blue glow that seemed to shoot up and out of the hole. And the screeching multiplied.

With one last tug, the flashlight launched at least 20 feet into the air and landed on the ground, immediately going out.

A humanoid creature, what appeared to be a slick black demon, crawled out of the hole, crawling on all fours, craning it’s head and glowing blue eyes, fixing on Bart.

Bart was transfixed.

“Run, you fucking idiot! Bart!” Rodney was scrambling back up the hill, but it was too steep for him to make it easily or quickly, and he fell several times, rolling a few feet backwards with each fall. His heart was pounding.

Around the opening of the hole were hundreds of impish, smaller black creatures. The twilight didn’t help matters – they were nearly invisible except for their glowing blue eyes, glowing not quite as strong as the demon’s eyes.

“What do you want?” Bart said, straining to get something out.

“What do you want” the creature hissed in pantomime, tilting its head several times. “I am Omenega. I rule this part of the world. I was imprisoned 10,000 years ago.”

“Who – who did this to you?” Bart stammered, stepping back, careful of the imps surrounding him, laughing.

“Who?!? You did!”

“What? I – what? I’m only 32, I couldn’t – I mean – that’s not possible – ” Bart fell backwards.

“It was foretold in the Omecron – he who imprisoned me would return to life and set me free, when the world was ready. Now the prophecy is fulfilled.” The demon scampered over to Bart and now stood over him, the stench forcing Bart’s head to the side, the blue eyes were also emitting a vapor. It’s skin was wet-black, and it sniffed at him.

“You fear. You don’t remember? Shame.” The demon grabbed Bart and dragged him into the hole and the laughing demons followed in droves, cackling and screeching. Bart’s screams fell on an empty night.

Rodney had finally ambled up to the rim and called 911, but the operator just thought he was high, and was sending a patrol just in case.