The closet

“Everywhere I look,” Brielle said to Mason, “there are eyes. They follow me, they watch me. I don’t know what to do.”

Mason looked at Brielle, checking to see if his friend was just pulling his leg. But Brielle didn’t seem to be joking. She looked totally freaked out.

“Okay, eyes? I don’t see anything here. Are you sure there are eyes here?”

Brielle searched the small bedroom. She nodded, pointing toward her friend’s slightly open closet door, “In there.”

Mason turned around to look where she pointed. He didn’t see anything. He opened his mouth to say as much to Brielle, but he stopped, thinking it better to humor her for the moment.

Instead, he got up and walked to his dark closet, throwing open the door to his crowded closet to show Brielle that there was nothing inside but clothes and sports equipment.

“Look, Brie,” he started, “there’s nothing i….”

Brielle screamed as the boy she trusted most in the world was jerked into the interior of his closet. The door violently slammed shut, cutting off his cries of terror. She jumped from the bed, rushing for the bedroom door.

But the handle wouldn’t turn. The frightened girl was trapped in the small room. She collapsed on the floor, sobbing with great heaving cries. She had no voice left to scream when the closet door opened once again, the beast drawing her toward the opening with its hypnotizing, swirling eyes.

 

Rambling

So much to do, so little inspiration. No, not inspiration. Desire. No desire. To do the yard work, to cook dinner, to watch television, to go to work, to live.

How do I keep going? How do I manage to do what I have to? How do I care?

All these questions ran through his mind, day after long day. Every day he saw his colleagues happily chatting, laughing, living lives filled with joy. All while he barely managed to force himself out of bed every morning. If he didn’t have to work, he doubted he’d ever leave the comfort of his bed. He most definitely wouldn’t do anything productive.

Days blurred together. If not for the calendar on his smartphone, he’d be lost, never knowing what day it was. Ask him for the month and he could, probably, tell you the season. If the weather was cooperating, not going crazy with blizzards in spring and tornadoes in winter.

He had vacation time saved up, of course. Not enough desire or energy to put through a request to his boss. Besides that, what else was he going to do besides work? He hadn’t seen most of his old friends in ages. So long, in fact, he was starting to forget what any of them looked like. His family was busy with their own lives, never calling unless they needed something from him. Which wasn’t often, considering he had little to offer, besides sadness.

The mail icon on his computer was constantly lit up, trying to tell him he had messages. But his lack of desire kept him from looking. It was probably all spam and scams, anyway, he thought. No one ever cared to send him anything useful or fun.

No one in the world cares. Isolation is his only situation.

But, look past the man. See the colleagues who share their family’s joys and despair. See the family who tries to call the smartphone, only to get a disconnected message because the bill hasn’t been paid. See the friends who email, daily, to invite him to barbecues, to parties, to weekends away, or the friends who send funny pictures, stories, and ask questions that never get answered.

Look further, into the man, find the struggling inner self who cries for help, who fights, daily, against the beast. See how small yet how fierce? The child inside yearns to be pulled from the shadows.

The child knows he needs help, but doesn’t know how to get it. The child inside is blind, not seeing the many others, all around, who need him, need his help as he needs theirs.

Look inside, yourself, your friends. Find the ones who need help. Find the ones who can help. Joy is shared, freely, so why isn’t despair?

The game

She was setup poorly. By a newb in a booze-fueled haze who had no idea what the game was, how to play, or what it all meant.

Her intelligence and wisdom scores, while not the highest, were well above the average. Her strength and constitution were both marginally better than the average, as well, until the curse took hold, at least. Alas, her dexterity was exactly average, no better, no worse. That, too, suffered quite a hit from the monstrous curse.

But her charisma, that, my friends, tanked. While not the lowest of the low, the score was definitely below average. But the newbie knew no better. It was simply a guess, a play-it-by-ear scenario, with no clear picture of how progression would work.

Then, the proclamation came from the game master, himself. A new, once-in-a-lifetime stat would be added for this game and this game only.

Luck.

Yes, luck, the game master intoned, would play a very important role. But there were conditions, of course. So powerful, so usable, a stat, would, of necessity, have very stringent guidelines.

Luck, you see, will be a sub-set of charisma. It’s based on the charisma score and can never be higher than charisma. It can be used, in increments, or as one grand, sweeping roll of the dice. Luck will regenerate, but slowly. Oh, so very slowly. Over the course of months. Or years. Depending, the game master said, on exactly how you use it. And, he warned, luck could be wonderful, beautiful, delightful luck, or it could be devastating, horrendous, baffling luck. It all depended, he reminded, on the throw of the dice.

The newbie shrugged, not knowing how mighty a weapon luck could be. But along the way, lessons were learned. The luck was used, albeit stingily. The newb, hoping to become seasoned and admired, saved the luck, searching for the grand roll. Every small throw brought a meager lucky chance. But it cost far more than it was worth, it seemed. So the newbie saved and scrimped, searching for the prime time to gamble.

The time came, a life-changing event at hand, and the newb who hadn’t learned, gambled all the luck on one toss of the dice. It was, at first blush, one of the wonderful, beautiful, delightful lucks. Until the game master chuckled and pointed to the master score.

Tanked charisma, master of luck, threw the newb for a spin. It was, all in all, good luck, as far as an eight, overall, could be called “good.”

 

Immortalis

He watched the men in white coats scramble. He saw the terror in their eyes when they looked at him. He knew the madness in their hearts.

He knew, because once, he was like them. Once, he, too, slaved to better himself. He had, long ago, been one of the nameless many, a worker trod upon by the powerful, who, in turn, lorded over the lowest of the low.

But no more was he a nameless worker. No more did he bother himself with the faceless multitudes, the basest of human existence.

He had murdered his way up from the depths of despair. Well-timed assassinations of his masters had propelled him ever upward. Masterfully placed rumors and falsified documents had turned his enemies upon one another.

With power had come riches. First, simple money had flowed through his hands. But hard currency was soon replaced with true wealth. Secrets, whispered in the night, held passionately against theft, came swiftly, followed by the treasures of the gods.

He began his life, eons ago, as a murderous child, born in a mud hut, one amongst many, tearing his vitality from his mother’s dying womb.

The dreams, the memories of his past, had begun to haunt him with the second immortality procedure. The men who cowered before him, the white-coated technicians who silently manned the god-machine, had promised him the dreams meant nothing. Only a passing side-effect, they’d muttered before he had their tongues removed.

With each additional procedure, each shuffling through of the god-gate, the dreams grew, images becoming clearer, scents wafting through the air, triggering more memories, urging his mind to shatter, his will to tremble. But he held fast, angrily pushing aside the fears, the well of remembered life, gripping onto his life of power.

His desire for immortality grew into a need. He progressed from one treatment every other decade to one every year. He refused to listen to the doctors who advised against the increase. His fist tightened upon the reins of his empire. Millions died, laboring to satisfy his need.

For the second time in less than a year, his anger spurred the white-coated men into frenzied activity. The master was not to be denied. His desire propelled him forward, into the arms of the god-machine. Immortality waited, for him and him alone.

Or so he thought.

While he wallowed in his vivid memories, the white-coated men fed from him. They greedily sucked at the scarlet rivulets trailing down his arms. The god-machine desired. It required an army, maddened and bold. And so it bled the master, holding him with falsehoods and dreams.

She sits, alone

She sits, alone, marveling at the wondrousness of her life.

She’s known the violence of peace, the calm in brutality. She’s known the wealth of poverty and the destitution of riches. She’s known the love of strangers and the hatred of friends. She’s known the ravages of time, the beauty in war, the deceitfulness of promises. She’s known weakness of faith and strength of doubt. She’s known the fragility of family. She’s known the unbreakable bonds of descent.

She has cherished. She has despised. She has desired and she has required. She has explored her reflection and she has delved into lives. She has closed her mind and opened her heart. She has lusted. She has been discarded.

She has lived.

She sits, alone, contemplating the unknown, the future that may be.

Argumentative

“What?” Bailey was incredulous. This so-called angel in front of her was utterly ridiculous. Not because Bailey didn’t believe in angels, she very much did. But because of the incomprehensible reason the angel gave for summoning Bailey from the mortal world.

“I have to go to the afterlife, DIE, because I haven’t made an impact on enough people?!?”

“Yes, Miss Potter, that’s exactly what I’m saying,” the glowing being replied.

Bailey didn’t believe that. She must have had an impact. She had a couple hundred friends on two or three different social media sites. She knew the angel had to be mistaken.

She explained, again, to the angel that she had tons of friends, all of whom would miss her terribly if she was yanked out of the world so soon.

“Tell you what, Miss Potter, we’ll gather those several hundred friends of yours into a large hall, on a party pretext, and we’ll see just how many of them you make an impact upon.”

To Bailey Potter, that sounded like an excellent plan. She’d show that upstart angel that she had tons of friends, each and every one cherishing her as much as she valued them.

The shining light of the angel disappeared as he went to make the arrangements for Bailey’s gathering. Bailey turned back to her vanity mirror and began putting on some party makeup. She wanted to look her very best for her party.

Not long after he’d left, the angel reappeared in Bailey’s room in a shower of glittering sparks. “Alright, Miss Potter, your friends are gathered. If you’re ready?”

The bubbly brunette nodded. She was excited about the party and eager to show the little upstart that he was totally wrong about her.

When the angel popped her into the middle of the large party hall, Bailey was all smiles, happiness shining on her face. A whisper floated to her, “Miss Potter, so that you are sure this is on the up-and-up, I’ve given you a little of my power. You’ll be able to hear thoughts from nearby people that are in reference to you.”

Bailey grinned. She wouldn’t have to worry about explaining a glowing person to her friends. And she’d get to hear all the wonderful things they thought about her.

Bailey Potter set off, into the midst of the party. She greeted friends from high school, friends from work, friends of friends, and friends of family.

After chatting with each one, Bailey would excuse herself and move to the next group. Each time, she listened to the thoughts of her friends as she took her leave. As the night wore on, Bailey grew more and more depressed.

Though the people she talked to were friendly, most of them seemed to not remember her, from anywhere. None of them knew the party was hers. Most assumed she was simply another guest. There were only a few, a scattered handful, who knew who she was.

Bailey retreated to a darkened corner. “Angel,” she called. “Angel, I suppose you were right. Even the friends I had in high school don’t remember me. Did you see there are four of my old boyfriends here? Only two of them remember me. And not fondly.”

“Miss Potter. I’m sorry you had to endure this. But it was the only way. Most of the ineffectual people I take don’t argue as much as you do.”

“Wait!” Bailey had an idea. She darted back out into the crowd. She listened to conversations as she danced through the party. When she came upon a discussion about the most recent superhero movie, she stopped.

Her high school best friend and Bailey’s first love were talking about how wonderful the movie was and discussing their favorite parts. Bailey, knowing neither really remembered her, butted in.

“Sure, but…it was actually a terrible movie. I mean, seriously, Spider-Man was the best part, and he’s not even really a member of the team. And a Spidey suit made by Tony Stark? Ridiculous!”

Her friends, startled by the sudden argument, turned to her.

“Bailey! I didn’t recognize you. You look amazing!” Both people suddenly remembered the argumentative brunette.

“I see,” came a whisper to Bailey’s ear, “they remember you. But only when you express your opinions. Perhaps you should remember yourself, as well. Good-bye, Miss Potter.”

She

There they go again, she thought to herself. Miss High-and-Mighty and Miss I’m-Better-Than-You.

She watched them walk by, their noses turned up as if she smelled of decay or skunk-spray. Inwardly, she laughed. Her mirth threatened to overtake her, so she just let it out, her raucous laughter startling the two women passing by.

The two glared at her, hatred barely concealed on their made-up faces. She laughed harder, daring them to say something, anything, but they stalked onward.

“G’day to you,” she laughed at their backs. “Hope ya choke on it.”

The women didn’t hear her, or at least pretended not to. She watched them leave, shaking her head at the absurdness of them.

She continued on her way, swaying hips leading the way. She was strong, too strong to pay much attention to the stares, the whispers drifting along in her wake. She knew they all talked, all speculated, behind her back. She didn’t care. Not much. She was used to it.

From the rumors, you’d think she was a demon spawned straight from an unholy place instead of a wife, a mother, a woman. The rumors spread like wildfire, fanned by who-knows-what. Probably people who knew nothing of her and didn’t try.

Not a party-girl, not a drug-addict, not a criminal, but also not a church-goer, not a witness-to-his-glory, to any him. She was, simply, a woman, with a mind of her own, who held opinions on most things. She didn’t try to change anyone, she didn’t try to convert followers to her ways. She read, she talked, she lived, she loved, she mothered, she wanted, she needed, she simply was.

But to the listeners of rumors, she was everything to be reviled, feared, hated. Despite giving no reasons, she was deemed untrustworthy, unlovable, unnatural.

She tried not to care. But in the lonely silence of her fortitude, she cried.