Sin Color

Author’s note: this is, admittedly, a silly indulgence on my part. A poem I wrote in Spanish – the perks of being bilingual? – because sometimes I do that. I tend to write more personal yet strong things, emotions, in Spanish. Anger and pain often work better for me in that language – I’ll let my therapists figure out why. Nevertheless, this is a thing and I apologize to non-Spanish speakers; I’ll attempt an interpretation of this piece later on, if the spirit moves me ;).

 

 

 

No hay cenizas para un fuego que no quema

Mas sublime en su danzar, la llama, permanece

Inmutable y absoluta cual ofrenda eterna

Que no da oído al infortunio que le acaece

No encuentro senda ni paraje que aclare

El horizonte y sus cúmulos acechantes

Ni diviso dónde termina mi tristeza errante

Y dónde empieza el luto de haber sido amantes

Reviento en lágrimas tan solo por respirar

No encuentro luz en el filo de mi altar

Vigilo, cuerdo, el andar crepuscular

Mas no logro dejar de extrañar

Imploro al vacío un aliciente paliativo

Algún destello de esperanza caritativo

Que logre adormecer este anhelo desgarrador

Que me roba el sueño y me ha vuelto hijo del dolor

Te prefiero así, sin color, sin sonido, sin calor

Te prefiero así, enmudecida, a la distancia,

Que en mis brazos buscando la huída, mi amor,

Que en mi vida maldiciendo tu estancia

No quiero colorearte con mi pena

No quiero darte un matiz injusto

No quiero permutar tu colmena

Prefiero el espectro insulso

Sin color, sin mi ardor, sin mi aliento

Que de alguna manera aún tienes

Sin color, como el aire, como el viento

Sin saber si te irás o si vienes

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Ultimate Halloween

Halloween had always held a special place in Beto’s heart. In his mind, he’d always idealized and fantasized extensively about the many things that could happen during such a magically charged night. Both he and his best friend an front door neighbor Tato love Halloween so much that they had made stunts and pranks an art form as soon as they had been allowed to go out Trick or Treating on their own.

This year’s was likely going to be the last Halloween they spent together; Beto was four years older than Tato, though still not officially an adult, and he was waiting to hear back about his college applications. If all went well, by this time the following year he’d be off to study abroad. Therefore, it was imperative that they make the most out of this one. They were going to pull all the stops, spare no one, the works!

They had spent two days scouring the neighborhood for dog turds, scooping them up with a little plastic shovel and depositing them in brown paper bags. This was a classic staple, a stalwart of Halloween pranks. They couldn’t, of course, forget about it no matter how basic it was.

They had also made liberal use of one Anarchist’s Cookbook, which had some very interesting home recipes for explosives – nothing too damaging, they decided, as they didn’t want to be terrorists about it, just vandals – and were geared up for a truly memorable night of stunts and wreaking havoc.

It was already 4pm and the day was growing unusually dark even for that time of the year. By the looks of it, twilight would be taking place well before 6pm and dusk would have its reign early.

Beto sat on the front walkway of his family’s house, right below the weeping willow of the front yard, which branches just managed to reach and hang above him. He smelled something in the air that kept making the hair on his nape prickle. There was a message in the wind, a whisper, a rumor, and he didn’t quite know what it was, but it was exhilarating.

It was a promise pregnant with the notion of adventure, of danger. It was like a dream where one is both hunter and prey, where the thrill of the chase is experienced from both vantage points. Complete.

Tato arrived with gear in tow: meters of rope, a bag of practical tools and goodies, and an extra change of clothes. They would need to change twice, at least, if they were going to pull the night off.

They talked about the plan; where they would go and how they would proceed, just running it back for review, to make sure they were on the same page. They were synchronized like pros. It would be a cinch.

Their scheming was interrupted by a veritable eruption of sound caused by a colony of bats so voluminous it blackened the twilit western sky. The contrast of winged things  rendered solid black by their contrast against the fiery background of the setting sun over the mountains painted a picture that pulled hard on the strings of both their hearts. It spoke to them of what was coming in as ominous a tone as any portent ever could.

They stared at the large flock for a few moments until they heard the distant wail of several sirens fast approaching. Their instincts were flaring alarms of their own, and the hairs on their arms felt like they were standing on end. This is going to be crazy, Tato said. Beto agreed with apocalyptic glee. Indeed, it would be!

Tato ran inside Beto’s to get the home-made  explosives and a wooden baseball bat. Beto remained outside, watching dusk fall with gusto and anticipation. Tato returned a few minutes later and they set out on the path of mischief.

They had but traveled two neighborhood blocks when they came upon the first disturbance. It appeared that the undead had risen, wherefrom they could not say, but there was only one thing to do about it: swing away and be generous with the gasoline and fire.

They had always wished for a night like this and so relished the wanton violence and chaos like babes suckling at the mother’s teat. All manner of foul beings and spooks to bandy blows with and feel alive, all sorts of myth to set alight, they both thought as they waded through the useless crowd that fled. They may yet have been children for all intents and purposes, but they knew how to bleed like men. Before the night was through they would both meet a most gruesome end, but what a glorious end at that!

Work is Work

 

 

“…that the souls of men are demons, and that men become Lares if they are good, Lemures or Larvae if they are bad, and Manes if it is uncertain whether they deserve well or ill… ”

— City of God, Book IX, Chapter 11, Apuleius

 

 

 

 

Serge had spent enough time down in the gutter to know that his number was up. There were no two ways about it; he was gonna bite it and it was going to be awful.

 

 

He’d been assigned a case by the Myskatonic University’s External Survey division. Something about a Lapis Manalis – a gateway to the underworld, so to speak – popping up in a small town just outside of Springfield. He now recalled wondering if there would be an Evergreen Terrace there – unlikely – and chuckling at the thought. The morning had been just peachy; a promising bout of boring with an extra helping of kill yourself tonight, maybe. Oh, how wrong he had been about that particular forecast.

 

 

Fast forward thirteen hours and a few too many wrong turns of conversation and you had Serge in chains, naked, gagged, dehydrated and with a burning case of hemorrhoids the likes of which he’d not experienced since that one time he’d eaten too much Lebanese food. Oh, and the locals just happened to be the hybrid offspring of a chthonic deity bent on world domination through – get this – love. Yeah. That’s right. The ol’ L word baddie. The reason great empires were built and torn down.

 

Serge wasn’t a fan, and much less now that it was the very reason he was there about to meet an untimely death. There was, after all, only so much a man could take of the dreaded chemical on its own. Couple it with actual threats to his physical well-being and, well, you got one dogged aversion to romantic notions.

 

 

Of course, as much as he hated to admit it even to himself, Serge had fallen prey to a woman. Yes, he had swallowed the whole thing, hook and sinker. That very lady was the person responsible for his current predicament.  Oh, he was a fool and he knew it.

 

 

Speak of the devil! There she was, sharp knives and all, and Serge still found her charming. He really did deserve to get offed. He had sold out the world for a sweet smile and the promise of little tender love and care.

 

Here comes the blade! Yup, there it is, on his neck, right on… the slash came, as expected, and he felt his lifeblood deluge out through his neck. Samantha, she’d said her name was. If that could be believed. It took seconds and the noise he made was embarrassing, but it’s not like you get to practice dying, now, is it?

 

A minute later he was a disembodied something, looking at what was the most pathetic thing he had ever seen: his dead, unflatteringly underkept corpse. He had not been kind to himself in life, that was evident.

 

He felt a strange pull, something beckoned him…

 

Ah, there it was, the chthonic deity itself. It was a dark, oddly female shape. Voluptuous, full, and every bit the opposite of what most would consider sexually attractive… and yet she stirred feelings in Serge he didn’t even understand how they could happen without, you know, having an actual body any longer.

 

You are not worthy. Spoke the strange deity. But you are not devoid of value, either.

 

Oh, shit. He was being judged. Weighed. He had the terrible notion that he would not pass muster. As usual. Why should things change just because he was dead?

 

You will remain and help. You will remain and either redeem your soul’s worth, or damn it beyond redemption.

 

This was a far better outlook than Serge had expected. However, he still felt a strange sense of foreboding. Something heavy was just placed upon him.

 

You will remain.

A Burnt Child Dreads the Fire

You must come, O dread Impaler, confound them to your care.
Split them in two partitions, here the fools, the rascals there;
Shove them into two enclosures from the broad daylight enisle ’em,
Then set fire to the prison and the lunatic asylum.

Mihai Eminescu: The Third Letter

 

The house of the Dragon had seen better days. Much better days, truly. It had now fallen into disrepair and Vlad had no one to blame but himself. Wasn’t that always the case, however? Yes. Yes, that was always the case: the onus of it all was on him alone. That burdensome knowledge, that it all started with him…

How long ago was it? How long, exactly, since Mina had left with her Jonathan Harker? Too long. Entirely too long for him to continue dwelling on the pain of her departure, and yet there he was, pining, longing, wallowing in a mire of misery.

He had so much practice at this that he should have already turned self-pity into an art form. Ah, but for all of his talents, this was not one of them! What ever happened to the strapping, bold warrior who’d once brought the Ottoman empire low? Where was the Impaler, the Wallachian Dragon? Gone to soil, it would seem.

For one so old and experienced, he seemed to be none the wiser on matters of the heart. He knew dawn was fast approaching, so the question, once more, was if he would be able to do it. So many times he had stood on the roof of this god forsaken mansion, contemplating the thought of giving himself up to the morning sun and seeing about testing the feud with a divinity silent save for the curse it brought upon him.

It was tempting, certainly. Was he that weary? Perhaps he should seek the company of mortals once more. Yes. That or a flaming death. Both, in tandem, would be a fitting end to his long reign, would they not?

He almost felt a spark of euphoria at the thought of moving among the mortal flock anew, like a reaper on a golden field of barley. Perhaps there would be time to visit his old castle and scare up a storm in there. Make one last, triumphant appearance for old time’s sake. That should get the old dead heart flaring, for once.

He had let himself be beaten too many times already. It was time to fight and give no quarter. The old Vlad was stirring.

Go out with a bang, old Vlad, he told himself. With. A. Bang.

 

News Report: In a shocking turn of events, Bran Castle, in Romania, better known as Dracula’s Castle, has gone up in flames. Firefighters and emergency responders are at the scene trying to put out the conflagration, but reports indicate that the fire may have already caused irreparable damage.

Bran Castle has been a tourist attraction and Romanian national landmark…

The Last Dance

One more. Just one more. C’mon, old man, you can do it. Just. One. More.

 

His wounds were bad. Real bad. Locke wasn’t going to make it, he knew, but that was fine. That was just fine, as long as he could do this one last hunt. Just one fix, right? Like an addict. This was different, however. This was his last fix, the last one, the ultimate goal… His nemesis was somewhere in the small town and Locke could feel it. He had been hunting him for so long. The vampire that had taken it all away from him one night so far away it may as well have happened to someone else.

 

The crossbow bolt fired from his right hand, it traveled true and found its mark. Another vermin down, pitted to the wooden house’s wall by the bolt through its head. Locke loaded the crossbow again, deftly with his left hand locking the mechanism while still holding a short blade.

 

One more. Almost there. One. More.

 

Another with the bolt striking true and through. Out of bolts. No matter. His right hand went to his left hip and produced and dagger. Time to get even bloodier. His stomach was bleeding, as were his arms, profusely, from the tattered and torn remains of his tanned leather jacket.

 

The chapel, there… There is where he would be, his nemesis. Locke made his way, beginning to limp. His vision was becoming a bit hazy and his head swam. It didn’t matter. Nothing did. He would avenge his son.

 

One. More. Hunt.

 

He kicked down the flimsy doors of the chapel and stormed in. The vermin huddled in the pews and around the altar where his nemesis awaited. They were cowering. They understood that their end was near, and Locke obliged them dutifully.

 

There must have been over thirty of them, until finally he caught up with the greatest vermin of all. He looked the once-man in the eyes, full of tears of rage he, full of fear and doom the vermin. Then he cut its head off.

 

He walked off a few feet and succumbed to blood loss, losing consciousness.

 

He dreamt of his son’s face, beaming, so young and full of life. He dreamt of the sun becoming dark and bleeding, and his son told him that he, Locke, had done that. You did it, father. It was you.

 

He jerked away and saw the bodies all around him. They looked… normal. They looked human. Dawning realization suffused him as he struggled to stand up. His blood was still fresh, and the bleeding hadn’t really stopped. He saw the priest’s body, head lopped off, blood spatter staining the pulpit. He looked off to the left and saw the priest’s head.

 

As darkness encroached on Locke’s vision and he began to fade from this mortal coil, he could only feel a strange sense of regret eat its way out of the elation he had felt before. What had he become?

Magic This Away

They all seemed so… tasteless, did they not? Just so insipid and vapid and boorish. She had only lived a little over a hundred years, but she remembered her past lives, and she remembered every little detail of them, at that. So much memory was not a good thing, contrary to what most people think; there’s an inescapability to it, a sense of being shackled to it, to the past, where every smell, every bit of sensory stimuli set off a concatenation of events and emotions that could go on in a retro-fed loop indeterminately unless she put a conscious stop to it. Stopping it, after all this time, was no longer an easy task. There was no “off” switch to memory and a mind that had become her own worst enemy.

People don’t realize what a luxury it is to be able to forget, to have memories grow fuzzy and distorted with time until they disappear completely, relegated to some archival corner of the mind, never to be brought to the fore of conscious thought again.

Lilith didn’t realize she was now wading into the scrying pool. How long had she been walking aimlessly, ambling like a fool lorn in an opium dream? Time was a funny thing, especially when you were an old witch on the brink of senility. Or was she already well in the throes of it? Was she now in its arms, being carried aloft to some aerie height where the mind need not be in the present any longer?

The bad thing about magic power was that, no matter how useful it was in the most practical matters, in the end it couldn’t save the mind, and it certainly couldn’t fix a life. It couldn’t change the way things were. It couldn’t change the way other people felt, not really, and it couldn’t alter strings of fate. That was truly tragic, she thought wistfully. How many had gone before her, of those she had loved – still loved, because that, for her, simply doesn’t change – and those who had shared with her some of their lives? It was impossible to tell.

Her bargain with the devil, figuratively speaking, had been struck a very long time ago, in a place the sands had now covered and would likely never give up again. She wondered how many more life cycles she would have to endure, how many more forays into the metempsychosis of demi-mortal existence… how many?

She was so tired. She was so confused. She just wanted to rest.

That Old Monster

The years had been unusually kind, in a way, for him. Much had transpired since his inception in the late 1700’s when, during a particularly powerful thunderstorm, his progenitor and creator had placed him on a stone slab and lifted him up through a complex mechanism to the roof of his palatial abode so that a cobbled-together configuration of human organs and extremities might meet lightning directly and from the miraculous phenomenon of naturally-occurring electricity, spawn a spark of life in the ersatz vessel.

Much, indeed! Since the day after his creation, when he ran into the dark wilderness and had his first interactions with humankind. His first brushes with hate and intolerance. His baptism into violence… He had, thankfully, outgrown and shorn the trappings of such an existence long ago. After his initial ire against his creator, his father for lack of a better term, he learned to educate himself, and soon enough became as proficient a surgeon and scientist as his creator – much better, perhaps. He had then set to perfecting the opus left unfinished by his creator; himself.

The toil through the centuries had yielded a perfect specimen of human beauty and performance. He truly had become Prometheus. What he had never entirely managed, however, was getting a reign on the human emotions he experienced. All the time he had spent as both an outsider and as a master socialite had only served to further befuddle him in his pursuit for understanding the human heart. If it were only as simple as transplanting such an organ, he often thought while sitting alone in his study as he sipped on some fine single-malt scotch. For all his intelligence – which may as well be boundless, judging by his development thus far – and all his capabilities – which were countless –, he still had no clear grasp of the multi-dimensionality of breadth of human emotion. Every time he thought he might finally have a working hypothesis that might yield a proper theory, it crumbled into dust and sand in his very hands.

And what of this elusive, ethereal, abstract construction they called love? It was based on chemicals and electric currents within the brain, a staple of evolution and absolutely necessary throughout human history and prehistory for the preservation and proliferation of the species, and yet so strangely mutated and distorted in the past three hundred years or so. Perhaps even longer… The fact of the matter was that there really wasn’t much documentation of any scientific value on it, at least not in the higher thought area of the phenomenon. There was certainly a lot of data on the basic biochemical processes and bioelectrical interactions, how the neural pathways were altered through the presence of this strange and uniquely human abstract – though he suspected that certain apes and simians were well capable of it, as well.

What little he had been able to conclude was that there was a certain hint at madness, at mental disorder and neurological disease that went hand-in-hand with love. Philosophically, this was not the equal of what self-less love should be. Many religious and philosophical writings had been devoted to the notion of true, selfless love, denouncing any other manifestation of love as untrue. He had spent much time pondering this, in contrast with the depth of his own experience in the human condition, and found that the existence of one did not outright preclude the other. No, it was not exclusive that one would exist while the other could not and vice versa. Sometimes, the existence of the features of the less purely perceived permutations of love only meant that there were peculiarities in the features of the sentimental landscape of the person who was feeling it, while being perfectly capable of experiencing and expressing the more self-less aspect and, at some point reaching the pinnacle. However, this pinnacle was never truly sustained; it was only natural to reach it and loses it and reacquire it. Nothing ever remained the same.

He understood that he would likely outlive humanity as a species, and one day become something else entirely. He comprehended, as well, that he might never be able to understand this subject at all.