Buried Horror

Buried Horror

Monday, 22 July 2019

Count Dracula's Dance

By Yavar Khan Qadri

The colours of thy hair,
the smile on thy face,
shines  much like dew,
enhancing thy grace,

It reminds me of the country,
embedd'd in the ink;
of the books yond wast writ,
with Count Dracula's drink,

Thee setteth me thinking,
f'r quite a while;
thy Gothic looks,
have left me beguiled,

Allow me to take thee,
to yond Romanian place;
under the full moon,
I want to see thy face,

And walk in the forest,
amidst the critters' cries,
and dance with thee,
under the moonlit skies,

O, Balkan beauty,
yond I want to hold;
allow me to feel thy warmth,
in the Carpathian cold


Bio

I am of Kashmiri origin and I am inspired by the Romantic Period and I typically write lyric poetry in free verse. I am a member of The Ontario Poetry Society and the subject of my poem ranges from social (political to romantic, and the morbid. I believe in the healing power of imagination and I write in solidarity with the marginalized and oppressed thoughts and emotions of individuals and groups in society. I am an anarcho-syndicalist.


I have written poems for the Labour Movement (As printed on this year's May Day flyers, through the Toronto Airport Workers Council.) And I have been a guest speaker for a socialist group. Above all, I love writing about the morbidity in our thoughts and don't hesitate to bring it out on paper. Here's my blog: Acids of Thought.

The Scream

By Joan Sutcliffe

The street is silent, lazily basking in a shimmering haze of heat. Then suddenly a lone figure screams. Skull faced and hunched over, it steps out of the shadow. Is it male or female, or a spectre from another world? A lost soul, it stands curved like a question mark and screams again, long and piercing, and the shrill echo curdles on the eardrums.

It is late afternoon in an almost deserted southern village and the mellow sunlight lends a copper tint to the adobe structures. Where a peach toned archway leads into a narrow cobble-stoned alley the sad being retreats and seems to disappear back into shadow. There is an untimely quality about the scene, and a feeling of tremendous antiquity overwhelms the senses. The moment seems to stand still.

Beyond the clustered buildings of sun-baked clay the road ascends into a steep grassy slope, alive with vigorous bursts of rhododendron, a spectrum of colour from purple-pink to red as blood. Standing there on the hillside beside a gnarled old oak tree is Mario, his middle aged years belied by the vibrancy and suppleness of his movements as he exercises his muscles. Glowing with health he greets the group of young women returning from the fields with baskets of fresh picked strawberries. With the swagger of a confident Romeo he reaches for the hand of the prettiest, a shy girl called Olivia, and breaks into the famous “O sole mio.”

“Come on, Olivia,” call her friends, “we have a bus to catch.”

But blue-eyed Olivia, pale as the dawn, gazes into the dark shining eyes of the romantic tenor with the jet black curls almost touching his broad shoulders, and wants to linger a while. Perhaps he might sing another of her favourite Neapolitan songs?

“You go ahead,” she says, “I'll get a later bus.”

Mario stops singing and smiles. As though in response, a bird calls from somewhere and starts a sweet haunting song just as a swallow-tail butterfly lands on her arm, and Olivia feels overwhelmed with the beauty around her. Dropping easily onto the ground beneath the oak, Mario invitingly pats the grass beside him, rippling green like flowing silk.

“Sit for a while,” he says, “just enjoy this moment. Let's talk and get to know each other. Life is so full and rich and there's so much to discuss, music, politics, philosophy......”

They talk and talk, taking refreshment in the strawberries, until the golden glow on the rhododendron deepening into a sepia tone of dark orange signals the fast approach of sunset. Taking her arm gently Mario raises her to her feet, and sauntering along beside her at a comfortable pace he sees her safely all the way to her home where, dropping the tenderest kiss on her cheek, he bids her “Buona notte.”

Olivia enjoys the sweetest sleep, and wakes to the first streak of pink on the eastern horizon with a languorous stretch. Though she can remember none of the details she has the feeling of returning from a beautiful dream and relaxes into the rosy glow encircling her body. Before the sun has risen she is already on her way to the farm, where she is working for the summer season, in the attempt to earn enough to support herself through her final college year. As she joins her workmates for coffee and bagels in the farm cafe her day begins, and the early morning sunlight soon beckons them out to the strawberry fields for another long day in the open air.

Hour after hour, it is tiring work bending over the thriving crops, filling basket after basket with the ruby red fruit. But ignoring her aching knees and straining back muscles she indulges her thoughts with romantic images, blossoming trees, roses and song birds. Somehow the rapturous scent and taste of strawberries remind her of Mario, and as she toils on to supply the never ceasing demand of the customers who flock to the country store by the rustic entrance to the farm, she wonders if she will see him again.

There was no need to doubt. She hears him singing first, the bittersweet tenor aria from “Madama Butterfly” and she frowns as she thinks of the base and selfish hero in the famous opera. Then she sees him, under the same oak tree, hands crossed over his heart and head raised to the perfect June sky, almost blue as sapphire, and she knows he is waiting just for her. Another exciting finish to a long hard day's work!

Glorious days pass into more glorious days, and strawberry picking is at its peak. She and Mario have become what the girls call “an item.” They see each other every day. When she is not working they go to dances, concerts or frequent the coffee houses, or just eat ice cream in the park. Soon Olivia knows that she has fallen completely in love. Mario is such a fascinating person, so full of  knowledge, so philosophical and such fun. He teases her mercilessly with that humorous twinkle in his eye. How can she possibly believe him when he tells her that he is an old man of seventy? He looks so young, and so effervescent with energy. 

It is just after the summer solstice festivities that Olivia first becomes aware that she is starting to grow tired more easily. Perhaps it originally sprang from her eagerness to join the age-old ceremony of welcoming the sunrise on that special day by the ancient stone circle on the hilltop with Mario. Then there had followed a particularly hard day's work and a long night of excitement, dancing until the last shred of light on the longest day had passed into the brilliance of starlit darkness. As the midsummer fires burned long into that night they had sung lustily until their throats ached. There had been little sleep for Olivia that night, and the following day had been doubly strenuous with work stretching until afternoon passed into the evening. 

As June passes into July, she is surprised that she has yet not regained her strength. But then the workload has increased. Not only are there the remnants of the strawberries to pick now, but also raspberries, cherries, peas, carrots, new potatoes, runner beans, etc. The working hours have lengthened, and the midday sun is hotter than ever. No wonder the strain is taking its toll! There are days that she can scarcely drag herself out of bed without an extreme exertion of will power. Her companions at the hostel keep remarking that she has lost weight and colour and her old lightness of spirit. Indeed they are right! She is feeling herself deteriorate rapidly and is worried about her gaunt appearance.

Mario, however, seems more attracted to her than ever. Hardly has she opened the door to start out in the mornings than he is there waiting. With a protective arm around her shoulders he accompanies her all the way to work, only to be there waiting as soon as she finishes, no matter how late. Ever attentive he insists on spending the whole evening beside her, singing to her, holding her hand, plying her with whatever food and drink she desires. Actually there are times she feels a little overwhelmed by his presence, and cannot help feeling pleased about the rules of the hostel for girls, that strictly forbids any male visitors after 10:00 pm.

It is on an afternoon in mid July when work in the fields had to be abandoned because of a particularly heavy rainstorm, and she and Mario are strolling together under a shared umbrella down the quiet street with adobe houses and cafes on either side, that a strange figure suddenly stumbles from out of a shaded narrow cobbled alleyway and seems to glide towards them. Thin and cadaverous in appearance with large hollow eyes staring wildly from a ghastly sunken face, it raises a scrawny arm to point a long bony finger right at Mario and lets out a monstrous scream. Then another and another, each more penetrating than the last, before folding up over itself and cowering like a beaten dog.

Gripping Olivia's arm in a vice-like lock and cursing under his breath, Mario drags her away furiously, her ankles tripping over each other as they rush down the street, into an area of busy market stalls where they lose themselves amid a crowd of people sheltering under the awnings of a large coffee house. Slowing down now, he leads her more gently through the door and inside to a table at the far end in a little booth of its own. 

Ignoring her questions of  “who was that.... what was that all about?” he sits silent for a long while, a grim expression darkening his features, totally wrapped in his own world of thought as distant from her as though they were strangers.

Suddenly recovering, he mutters, “Oh, that was nothing, just some maniac.”

As he leaves her alone for a few minutes, Olivia experiences an unnerving apprehension. The incident has left her with a sense of unease. She is certain that Mario knows more about it than he is telling her. His reaction was so immediate and intense. Has he some sort of relationship to that weird being? There was something frightfully tragic about the figure, it seemed hardly human. As she looks over to the bar where Mario is buying coffees, she realizes with a sudden sickening feeling that she really knows nothing at all about Mario's background and has no substantial facts concerning his present situation. 

Returning to the table with two large cups of cappuccino coffee and a plate of assorted cakes, Mario is his usual extroverted self again, giving her a wink and a broad smile. At the same time Olivia is aware of a headache forming in her right temple and a sensation of utter weariness as though the vitality is being drained from her body. As Mario rattles on, laughing uproariously at his own jokes and making the most outlandish statements, Olivia meanwhile feels herself retiring into an almost paralytic state of inertia. Unable to stomach any of the coffee or dessert herself, she watches with glazed over eyes as Mario heartily stuffs himself, all the while filling the air with meaningless chatter, and all she wants to do is go home and sleep, sleep and sleep.

“Oh dear!” Mario stops and looks at her with that warm tenderness moistening his eyes, “you look very tired. Let me get you home quickly so that you can rest.”

Rest she does, for the next three days, missing work, not speaking with her friends, and not even seeing Mario. He seems to understand her situation, and leaves her alone. On the fourth day she makes herself get up and prepare for work. She needs the money. As though knowing her physical and psychic nature inside and out, Mario is standing there waiting for her as she sets off to catch the early bus. 

Somehow she gets through the day. Her deplorable state is apparent to her supervisor who, possessing a kindly nature, sits her at a table for most of the work hours to shell peas and beans in preparation for the canning and freezing process. A small respite but she is grateful and feels less depleted of energy by the end of the work shift, and is actually happy when she sees Mario waiting for her at the entrance gate. Embracing eagerly they detour on the journey home by way of an abandoned apple orchard, where they sit close together on the overgrown grass amidst the stunted trees. 

They talk and talk, or rather Mario talks and talks, and as he talks Olivia feels an utter exhaustion creep over her. The more vibrant his conversation, the more he spreads out his chest and the more glowing his complexion, the more pale and drawn Olivia feels. Her head is throbbing and she wants to scream. In fact it is only with the greatest effort at self control that she prevents herself from screaming non-stop. 

Abruptly she breaks away from Mario's encircling arm. “I need to be going home,” she announces, ignoring Mario's pleading eyes. “I feel really ill, and want to be alone,” she continues, not caring if she sounds selfish, for she needs to be on her own and quiet to think. The sun is beating down and her brain is foggy, but there's some vague shapeless terror on the periphery of her awareness that she needs to bring out into the open.

With a forced determination she hoists herself to her feet and starts to walk. Immediately springing up like a tiger Mario is beside her. Walking side by side, it's almost as if his easy agile strides are sucking the life force out of her legs, leaving a lethargic heaviness as she drags her steps. As his jolly and carefree banter seeps into her mind overpowering her own thinking, she suddenly snaps, “Oh shut up!”

“Now, now, temper, temper!” he humours her with a smirk.

Then all the pent up tension inside her bursts and she shouts in exasperation, “will you please just shut your mouth for once.”

Mario drops his head looking very uncomfortable and avoids meeting her eyes as she turns away and straightens up. Feeling rather embarrassed by her involuntary reaction, she murmurs, “I am sorry.” 

They continue on their way, both silent now except for the occasional innocuous comment. On reaching the hostel she enters quickly without saying goodbye and makes straight for her room, where she loses herself immediately in a long dreamless sleep.

With a sudden start she is woken up sometime just after midnight, and is inexplicably drawn to the window where she sees a dark form emerge from the shadows to stand in the bright light of a full moon. A tremendous urge, over which she is powerless to fight, compels her to fly downstairs in a wild ecstasy and out into the night. After opening the door to step outside, she stands for a moment embracing the still warm air. Suddenly she becomes aware of a misty essence like an ethereal wisp of smoke oozing out from her body towards the mysterious form standing tall and bathed in silver light. 

Then she recognizes that it is Mario in a black cloak, sort of looking like a magician. He is making strange movements with his hands, as though pulling an invisible chord towards himself. A minute later she experiences a nauseous faintness as if all the life force is being dragged from her body. 

Suddenly she knows what he is doing. Like a vampire sucking blood, he is stealing her energy, feeding on her vitality, growing strong from her own living essence. No wonder she has been so chronically weary for so long! No wonder she has grown weak and sickly and no longer feels like her old self.

Just wanting to get away from him she quickly turns round to go back into the safety of the hostel, when she catches her reflection in the moonlight shining on the glass door. Astounded, she cannot believe the image gaping back at her, thin and hollow like a skeleton with enormous eyes stark and staring. Identical in every way, it is a perfect replica of the bloodless creature that screamed at them in the street just a few days ago. Surely that cannot what she has become now!

A soul shattering scream pierces the night air. Olivia realizes it has come from her own throat, and she screams again. She screams and screams and screams as though she will never ever be able to stop.


Bio

Originally from Yorkshire, growing up in the untamed countryside of the Bronte's where she enjoyed the romantic literature of that period, particularly that which gave voice to the restless spirit seeking the mysteries of its own source. This led her into the field of eastern philosophy and mysticism, and for many years she has been a keen student of Theosophy, as introduced to the West by H.P. Blavatsky.



Saturday, 18 May 2019

The Parking Attendant

by Sheila Horne

Wednesday morning I pick up my car from my genius auto mechanic ex-boyfriend now friend. A few years ago he’d been charged with theft, and property damage. And he says he still loves me and would do anything to get me back, so he’ll keep the secret.

“In case you change your mind or need to shut off the engine,” he says starting my car and showing me how to operate the new switch he’d installed. “Flip this first.”

He smiles then asks if I want to get together later for a burger and beer. I don’t but I agree, wave goodbye and drive out of his driveway.

I turn on the radio. Bachman-Turner Overdrive is singing, “Roll on Down the Highway.” It’s a warm sunny spring day. My soul soars and I crank up the radio and sing along to the music. Today is the day. Today might be the best day I’ve had in a long time.

On Garden Street my good mood evaporates when I see the parking attendant standing in the middle of the parking lot directing cars, gesturing at drivers, being annoying. I can’t help but think about the four dollars he’d cheated me out of two weeks ago, him making me park my car in the alley. The potholes filled with water I stepped in because of him. Icy patches I slipped on and snow piles I had to climb over. Times I had to inhale to two sizes smaller to squeeze out of the car door. His rudeness and how he doesn’t want to understand why women don’t want to park in dark alleys. But today, it will be different. Today, he’ll find out.

I stop in front of his booth and open the car window. “Where would you like me to park?” I ask and give him my best smile.

“Where you want to park?” he says and I’m shocked that he’s asking and not directing me to the alley.

“In the open space by the street.” I motion to the two empty spots under a light by the sidewalk.

“Why you want to park there? Everybody want to park there. Maybe I should charge more for those spots.”

“I have a late class and a study date. It’ll be getting dark when I come out of school and I’ll be the only one in the parking lot.”

“What you talking about? It’s full with people, coming to night school.”

“No it isn’t, they’re in class by then,” I say.

He shakes his head at a woman who has pulled into the lot. “I am closed until afternoon,” he says.

It’s not the first time he’s told a woman he’s closed. I watch her drive away then ask, “What do you mean you’re closed? You’re not closed, you’re open until six.”

“I am but I don’t want her to park here. She’s nothing but trouble. Takes up space all day.” He taps the roof of my car and points to a spot in the alley. “Today, you park over there. Back in.” He hands me a parking ticket. “Put it on your dash.”

I laugh. “I’ve been parking here for the past three months and you've never told me your name.”

“You don’t need to know my name. Just leave your ticket on the dash.”

I look over my shoulder at the spot between two vans in the alley. “I can’t back in there. So, you have to do it for me again.”

“Next year you learn to park in small spaces or get on the streetcar.”

He takes my place behind the steering wheel. I watch him shift my car into drive, expertly line the car between the two vans and reverse into the tight spot. I walk towards the street.

“Hey your keys,” he yells after me.

I walk. I hear the explosion. I walk. Someone screams. I walk. People yell hysterically. I walk. Burning flesh mixed with fumes fills the air. Sirens sound in the distance. I open the doors to the building and enter.

Bio
Sheila Horne is the author of three novels: Sunshine Girls, Paper Sun, and Place in the Sun. She is also the co-author of Temple of Light, a book of poems about the Sharon Temple. Her poems and short stories have been published in various magazines and anthologies, most recently in the anthology: Things That Matter. To read more, visit Facebook.com/sheilahorne, author or www.sheilahorne.com.











The Straits of Hell

by Yavar Khan Qadri

Murky waters with pinging depths,
the sounds of silence carefully kept,
went the sailors through the bay,
night by night and  day by day

Waiting for the muffled sounds,
of enemy ships that made the rounds,
ears would strain for the telltale ping
rippling out in endless rings

That life was truly a precious thing;
was the epiphany that wars did bring
to skinny boys and seasoned men,
waiting for their passage home;
they never knew  if or when

Most would drown in their iron crypt,
while some lay bloated in the water's drift
Others, though, are still being found
where the sea hides the sandy ground

Those who lived to tell the tale
narrated it with faces pale,
of friends that were lost at sea
and that's how tragic war can be

Those sailors still must haunt that place;
their bones laid in twisted ways
And, in torment must those souls still dwell
in the bottom of the straits of hell

Bio

I am of Kashmiri origin and I am inspired by the Romantic Period and I typically write lyric poetry in free verse. I am a member of The Ontario Poetry Society and the subject of my poem ranges from social (political to romantic, and the morbid. I believe in the healing power of imagination and I write in solidarity with the marginalized and oppressed thoughts and emotions of individuals and groups in society. I am an anarcho-syndicalist.

I have written poems for the Labour Movement (As printed on this year's May Day flyers, through the Toronto Airport Workers Council.) And I have been a guest speaker for a socialist groupAbove all, I love writing about the morbidity in our thoughts and don't hesitate to bring it out on paper. Here's my blog: Acids of Thought.

Sunday, 20 January 2019

Hound Around

By Yavar Khan Qadri 

With thick fog spreading
towards every heading,
and the night being pierc'd
with a howling sound

The legend seemeth true,
thee can't receiveth through,
the beshrew is balanc'd
pound f'r pound

Nay chance of respite
in this frightening night;
thy end is near,
just out of sight


Thee reacheth f'r thy  pistol
in the fog fill'd  dark
Then, suddenly, thee heareth
a deafening bark

and then thee see
the phosphorus dust
on the glowing creature
with a bloodthirsty lust

Finally, thee giveth up;
giveth into fate;
the beshrew wast early
and thou art late

Thy batter'd remains
shall nev'r be found
and thy screams shall cease
with a parting sound;

Yond would be
the resounding  burp
through the mo'r
of the Baskervilles' hound

Bio

I am of Kashmiri origin and I am inspired by the Romantic Period and I typically write lyric poetry in free verse. I am a member of The Ontario Poetry Society and the subject of my poem ranges from social (political to romantic, and the morbid. I believe in the healing power of imagination and I write in solidarity with the marginalized and oppressed thoughts and emotions of individuals and groups in society. I am an anarcho-syndicalist.

I have written poems for the Labour Movement (As printed on this year's May Day flyers, through the Toronto Airport Workers Council.) And I have been a guest speaker for a socialist groupAbove all, I love writing about the morbidity in our thoughts and don't hesitate to bring it out on paper. Here's my blog: Acids of Thought.

House With a Story

By Joan Sutcliffe

House with a Story

There was a face at the window white as Carrara marble, eyes brilliant as amber light emblazoned on burning desert sand simmering with fierce intensity of longing as though to step beyond the confines of destiny. 

Geraldo smiled as he came home, mounted the front steps and put his key into the lock. He was used to seeing the face in the window. He had lived with it ever since he had move into the little house on the lonely country lane. It was the ideal place for him. He was a poet and the setting was beautiful, away from the “madding crowds” surrounded by wild grasses, birch trees and black walnut that clunked their hard nutty shells on the roof top, a nature sound he cherished.

A spectacularly bright day in December, he had enjoyed the morning’s walk in the stimulating briskness of the cool air that aroused his creative instincts.

“Ageless and genderless,” he muttered, for the face was truly a puzzle to him. The innocence of childhood overwhelmed his perceptions constantly and touched his heart, while the gaunt high cheek bones spoke of masculine hardness, and there were many times when he felt a definite male influence asserting its presence in the ambience of the house.

As he paused to look again a fleeting shadow passed swiftly over, and the skin seemed to liquefy as though wavelets of energy were passing through, and then it became the silvery head of an older woman embossed in his vision only to vanish as sudden as the flight of a swallow.

Once inside he poured himself a glass of water, and drinking slowly looked through the window across to the unkempt woodland where squirrels were pursuing one another in the fierce competition of foraging for sustenance. Actually he was now standing in the very location where the owner of the mysterious face must have been just seconds ago. But of course, he was entirely alone and the house was empty. 

Perhaps a faint whiff of lavender was lingering? Or was it sandalwood incense? But no, that was just his imagination. The only discernible smell was the coffee he had brewed for breakfast earlier that day.

     Tomorrow becomes tomorrow
     as the pages turn
     my story unwritten
     my memory unspoken
     winds rip the fern

“Where did that come from?” he wonders as removing his coat he returns to the window to stare at the dark green of the cedars over the way. They were not the lines of the poem he was cogitating in his mind while walking by the frozen-over stream that morning.

As if in answer he becomes aware of a slight sensation at the back of his shirt, hanging loose over his jeans: then a gentle tugging as though a cat were jumping up to catch hold, but he didn’t have a cat, or any other animal. Involuntarily spinning round: as he already knew, there was just himself on his own musing by the window.

This was something new, although on many occasions previously he had sensed a movement on the periphery of his vision, or thought he caught a figure sliding by just beyond his view, and often a shadow without any conceivable source would fall on the floor in front of his steps. It was as though there were an invisible inhabitant sharing the house with him. He could just imagine his Irish grandmother shaking her head with a gleam in her eye and chuckling, “Bless you, ma boy, it’s the little people. Lucky as a leprechaun, ye be.” Then there had been the night when he heard the astral bells, such a sweet sound, “like the minstrel boy playing his harp on the eve of St. Patrick’s Day,” his granny would say.

There was nothing eerie about any of it, just a warm and friendly energy, and he did feel blessed. Although he had to admit there had been several unsettling experiences, such as when he had been suddenly awakened at midnight by a most horrendous scream that shattered his nerves and set his heart galloping like a wild horse. Then there was the thud of something falling, followed by the clomp of heavy footsteps outside his bedroom door. And any active response from him was totally prevented by a paralyzing weight on his chest that held him down a captive in his bed trembling in terror. Of course, in the soft light of dawn he had put it down merely to a bad dream. But it had occurred more than once.  

There were days too when he had been suddenly overtaken by an inexplicable sadness, as though the whole house were crying, and he would burst into fits of uncontrollable sobbing as if his heart would break. That was when he would produce his most tragic poems, though he had no idea where the inspiration came from. The creation just poured out of him like a cascade of tears.

However, on the whole there was a companionable atmosphere in the house, like the embracing arms of a parent. That was until…….. 

It was a couple of weeks later when Geraldo invited over several poets with whom he was acquainted for an evening of marathon poetry readings. They were a diverse group and all rich in artistic creativity: Heather an ardent feminist and political activist, Lillian famous for her rants against tyranny and social injustice, Manuel whose warm-hearted poetry sprang from the torment of mental suffering, Conrad who enjoyed the humour of sexuality, Reggie with an endless collection of Taoist myths, Elena with her colourful depictions of Caribbean life, Veronica with sonnets, haiku and an inexhaustible knowledge of poetic technique. Someone had brought along a stranger, a huge barrel of a man with a voice that boomed like a base drum alternately rising in pitch and volume into the piercing tones of a trumpet. It soon became clear that he was the dominant voice of the evening. 

Whenever the barrel performed there was a notable change in tempo and ambience. The general philosophical, amusing and mystical temperament of the evening turned somehow heavy, dark and even threatening. Geraldo tried to remember whose guest he was, and wanted to enquire about his background and his particular poetic persuasions, but something in his aggressive manner seemed to forbid any kind of questions.

It started to occur after Elena’s portrayal of the luscious blooms in a tropical garden and Reggie had just finished a Sufi tale with the apt observance “the mind is the greatest mystery of all,” when the discordant boom of the stranger’s monotone dropped to a sibilant hiss rasping out mad streams of diabolical verse, which sounded like some ancient curse. From some other part of the house there came the sound of hysterical weeping, perhaps a woman or a child, then a noise like a cracking of a chair leg followed by the breaking of a mirror. Suddenly there was a power cut and all was plunged into blackness.

It was raining outside, and a storm broke with a furious wind violently shaking the trees and rattling the windows. The continuous low rumble of thunder rose to a crescendo, becoming a roar that tore through the house, while a blinding flash of lightning lit up for a second the horrified expression on an unknown woman’s featureless face. Geraldo could feel the fear rising. He had the sensation of a panicking hand grabbing for his throat and something pushing and pulling him. There was a crash as the window caved in, and the splintering of glass pooled in little shards around his feet. Amidst all the wildness of the furor came the plaintive and monotonous moaning of someone in pain.

Then Geraldo lost consciousness….all sense of time…..all indication of who he was…. 

In whichever cosmic space of awareness he awoke he became the witness of a scene playing out its destiny before his vision. 

The immediate sensation that flooded his perceptibility was extreme loneliness, that of a small child, and he saw a little girl whose lower limbs were clasped in leg irons, making her unable to walk with ease. She was sitting by the window watching the horse and carriages pass by in summer, the sleighs in winter, taking the children to the country school house, and he felt keenly her desperate longing to join them. Her only playmate was a little ginger cat, who would jump up to catch hold of her dress and pull himself onto her lap. As Geraldo’s awareness deepened he sensed the passing of years, long solitary years. Her kindly parents passed away and left her utterly alone. Still she sat at the window gazing out with a ferocity of yearning.

Suddenly Geraldo became aware of a change in the mood. A stranger came to the house, a gaunt looking pedlar selling wares whom she invited in for tea. Instantly Geraldo knew there was a love affair, an intensely happy interlude, for she was a woman now who loved with the fullness of a passionate heart, and he had the unequivocal certainty that it lasted many years. Until suddenly one day the high cheek-boned pedlar disappeared, vanished into thin air, with no explicable reason at all. Inconsolable with grief, she returned to the window day after day, searching the countryside with sad eyes and the panorama of her own psyche with a jealous intent of mind.

Then another mood swing, a violent upheaval this time. There was a wild thunderstorm outside, and an angry pounding at the door, the tumultuous force ripping it off its hinges as the massive bulk of a man burst inside. There was something familiar about him, but Geraldo couldn’t exactly put his finger on what it was. 

“Where the devil is he?” the mountainous figure roared, holding down the trembling woman in her bed. “He owes me thousands, the creeping rodent!”

After a vicious kick to the bed post shaking the springs, he continued to bellow, “I’ve searched for years, but I’ll find him if it kills me, and you too.”

In a demonic fury he paced round the house from room to room, knocking the furniture about, smashing windows, bashing down doors, trampling on everything in his way. Until obvious failure rewarded his savagery. Then cursing and swearing he raised his fist, driving it into the woman again and again until the breath ceased leaving her body lifeless.

Geraldo suddenly woke up, returning to his normal consciousness. He was standing outside in the rain, his poetry friends grouped around him watching him with consternation. All his belongings were in two large backpacks on the ground beside him. 

In total bewilderment he looked from one poet to the other, Manuel, Conrad, Elena etc. They were all there. 

Except…..conspicuous by his absence…..that great unknown hulk of a stranger! Just as a twinge of recognition was dawning, he heard Heather’s clear-cut accents announcing, “Now we are all here, let’s find somewhere to shelter from the rain so that we can start our poetry readings.”

“Sorry Geraldo, but we cannot meet in that decrepit old shack,” said Veronica.

“No, that place is no good at all, Geraldo,” agreed Conrad.

“You can’t possibly think of moving in there, Geraldo,” added Lillian, “it’s been empty and decaying for years by the look of it.” 

“But…..but…..but….” stammered Geraldo looking back to the house.

All that remained indeed was the skeleton of an empty house, no windows, no doors, every aperture boarded over.

Geraldo stared and stared in total incomprehension. Wherever did he think he had he been for the past few months?

He looked at Reggie and gasped, “Truly the mind is the greatest mystery of all!”

Bio


Originally from Yorkshire, growing up in the untamed countryside of the Bronte's where she enjoyed the romantic literature of that period, particularly that which gave voice to the restless spirit seeking the mysteries of its own source. This led her into the field of eastern philosophy and mysticism, and for many years she has been a keen student of Theosophy, as introduced to the West by H.P. Blavatsky.


Wolf Moon

by Bradley McIlwain

midnight —
wind at my door
claws at the lock

memories
and lost keys
howl in empty halls

in its jaws
a wolf moon
bites me with light