A Kitten; Dear Lunacy
Wind surrounded her...angry, icy breaths that came down from the North...from the land of the Wendigo...the rain lashed her skin raw, as she stumbled between crumbling headstones that stood sentinel in the bright flashes of light that burst forth from above...the demon growled...a low throaty gutteral sound, as she let out a primal shriek that was carried away with the wind...
Blinking eyes...skin soaked in a cold sweat...she took a deep breathe, the scent of old wood filling her nostrils as she blinked her eyes; her surroundings coming back into focus. He had called to her...he could smell her...she knew it was always scent that led him back. He watched with unseeing eyes within her dreams. He couldn't hear her above the endless torrent that flowed from his lips. He couldn't touch her...yet, but her scent always led him near.
A flash of lightning broke the darkness and she could make out the forms of old furniture covered with musty sheets, that had turned yellow with age. Remnants of a time before, a childhood that she knew now wasn't real. He had helped her pass through the crack in the wall. He had taken her hand in astral realms and shown her what lay beneath the thin canvas that was stretched across all her physical eyes could see.
She had climbed through that torn fabric and he had shown her sights from heaven, as well as the horrors of hell. He had opened her eyes to all the lies there were to see, but then something had happened. A breach of trust; a fleeting moment where unguarded, she had a glimpse of what lay beneath his canvas shrouds. She had fled. Fled his prophecies and revelations. Fled back through that original tear.
Beneath a shroud of medications she had slept within an endless dream. The days floated by and slowly it had become one steady stream, but he was never quite gone. She could feel him hovering within the shadows of sleep; the puppeteer that pulled the strings that guided her unconscious mind, as it wandered corridors forgotten by day. He called her back, coaxing her to reach out and take his hand and step back through the breach.
She rolled to her side, the solidity of the floorboards comforting her, as she dozed back off to sleep. She brought her knees up to her chin, curling into a fetal position, when she felt a weight shift on her ankle, the hiss of a snake, as a chain rattled to the floor. Her eyes snapped open and she sat upright, the scent of her own urine reaching her from a bucket across the room. A baby was crying from behind a closed door and she could hear a voice from beyond singing. A male voice...the demons voice.
She sat bolt upright in her bed, hair matted to her face as a blanket soaked in sweat clung to her body. A chill ran through her as tears ran down her face. It was a dream...all a dream...just a stupid fucking ptsd dream. Safe. She glanced around her bedroom, a nightlight glowing in the corner like a beacon to guide a lost traveler to safety. Her rapid breathing slowed as she struggled to regain her composure, an uncontrollable shaking taking hold of her. It was just a dream...
A storm had blown in while she slept. The day that greeted her was bleary and depressing; a bleak landscape reaching towards those behind closed doors, in search of an imagination to bring it to life. She looked past her reflection that stared back blankly from a window pane; watching as trash from an overturned can trickled in a stream down the asphalt. The can looked to her like a ship; a giant yawning mouth, spitting out unlucky survivors to drown in the cold waters or suffer a crueler fate in the gaping drain of the sewer where the debris spiraled in a whirlpool, before disappearing.
Once it disappeared from sight, it no longer existed. Out of sight, out of mind...like the dreams that lurked behind sleepy eyes. The world outside scared her. She had seen nothing but evil out there. A creeping paranoia traced its way up her spine, as she pulled the curtains shut. Pressing her face against the warm fabric, she peered out from a thin slit as her mind drifted back to her dream from the night before. She felt a pulling at her brain stem; a longing to be back through the crack...with him, with the demon...or was he an angel?
Hot water rained down, her skin warming in the shower, as each rivulet caressed her skin. She closed her eyes and imagined it was his seed she was bathing in. A beautiful baptism, a cleansing of sins. She fell to her knees and with closed eyes put her head back to feel it drip down her skin; a hand sliding between her thighs. She opened the gates to hell; a smile spread upon her face, as she felt the warm flood of the river styx, as it crossed the threshold and spiraled down the drain.
She fell back to a sitting position; back against cool porcelain, as the water ran cold. Legs spread, she pictured his seed spiraling down the drain as she felt a chill run down her spine. She slowly pulled her pruned body to her feet, her skin squeaking against the slick bathtub and leaned over to turn off the faucet. A warm fog greeted her for a moment as she stepped to the tiled floor, before dispersing in all directions. Taking a beige towel from a rack on the wall, she softly padded to a mirror and wiping it with one hand found herself looking at her reflection in shame. The tears poured down her face as she pressed it against the glass, while the last of the warmth in the room quickly departed.
The rattling of pills...a ticking sound as one missed her hand and spiraled around the sink. Her finger stopped it right before it went into the abyss; a frown crossing her face as she noticed a slight damp spot. The faucet creaked as she filled a plastic cup with water, a cat hanging from a clothesline stared back at her nervously. She tossed the pills towards the back of her throat and took a large gulp of water; staring at her unblinking reflection in the mirror.
A queer greenish glow...the soft click of an air pump...dead, lifeless eyes. A fish in a tank, that was how she felt. Aimlessly swimming around in circles; no thoughts, just motion. Constant motion, unaware of what lay beyond. Memories were the difference between them though. Memories that the medicine couldn't suppress; couldn't stop from slipping through the cracks.
Click...click...click...a small whoosh, and a spark of life as the burner came to life. She began to hum to herself, watching the fish swim round and round. Her eyes wide, she watched every detail as bubbles began to form inside the tank. Just a little fishy, swimming in the sea. The fishes laps around the tank began to break into confused bursts, as the water around it grew warmer. She wet her lips, her tongue slowly caressing the dry skin as she exhaled onto the glass; it's surface briefly fogging. Just a little fishy, swimming in the sea. It was shaking a little, moving with a barely visible vibration and then suddenly it stopped swimming. It glided across the tank one more time, colliding with the glass inches from her dark eyes as she smiled. Her body was trembling and she realized she had been holding her breath. She exhaled with a deliberate slowness, as she watched the fish float across the top of the tank. Just a little fishy, swimming in the sea...
The baby was crying again...she could hear his powerful footsteps echoing...boom....boom...boom. The doorknob shaking, as an unseen hand fumbled with it. A crack of light...the heavens opening to her. Delirious...her skin damp...eyes feverish...she gazed up at her savior. The light behind him silhouetted his body, but she could see his bulky shoulders; the long graceful bone that rose from his head into majestic antlers. God had not deserted her. Music drifted from behind him, dancing through the air, its partner the wails of the baby.
"What's wrong with my life today?
Stupid girl, Stupid girl
Stupid girl, Stupid girl..."
Her knees stung, the cold cement causing a burning sensation against the scraped skin. She readjusted her body, feeling her flesh pull away from the sticky floor. Bits of feathers were drifting in the air around her, settling upon the ground that was stained a crimson red. Her skin was goosebumped; her chest covered in a bloody mockery of a bird, feathers clinging to her body. She could taste blood on her lips as she lowered her gaze and saw the sparrow that had been meticulously picked clean. Porcelain bone...not a single piece of meat left. Absentmindedly, she strung the bones on a piece of twine that she twirled between her fingers. Her dark eyes peered out from behind a paper mache mask, ears perked up. She dropped the crudely fashioned necklace and squeezed her fingers open and shut. The blood made them stick like rubber cement, and she remembered being a child, peeling it off her hands, as if she were shedding her skin. She hissed at the dead bird on the ground and tied the ends of the twine together.
The phone was ringing as she sat on a highbacked stool at the kitchen table. A half eaten turkey sandwich sat on a plate, a crumpled napkin beside it. Staring blankly out the window at a shed in the backyard, she tapped her fingers against the wood next to the plate. Click...click...ring. click...click...ring. She picked up her phone and accepted the call, her ears greeted with a crackling from somewhere distant. She concentrated on the static and as her ears adjusted she began to make out a slight roar in the background. Breathing...deep and heavy, yet slow and methodical. She threw her phone across the room and shrieked. He was near...he could smell her. She stumbled towards the bathroom, hitting her shoulder hard on the doorframe as she reached for the orange vial that sat on the counter beside the sink. Fighting with the safety lock, she used her shoulder to push the door shut as lightning shot up her arm from where she had hit the door frame. Finally, the cap flew off and across the room and she poured the pills into her hand, gulping one down dry as a few escaped her and skittered across the floor. She locked the door, climbed into the bathtub and pulled the curtain shut. Closing her eyes she imagined she was on a farm and counted horses as they jumped an old wooden fence within her mind. She could feel her anxiety ease up, as she drifted on a medicated cloud in the sky.
Diffused light against porcelain. She opened her eyes, thankful for the shower curtain that kept the sunlight directly off her. Her head was pounding, the remnants of the dream world crumbling. She slid her back up the wall and tried to stand. Her leg was asleep though and with the first step out of the bathtub she tumbled forward, hitting her head against the edge of the sink. Pulling herself back up from where she had collapsed she felt a warm trickle spreading down her face. Her medication lay on its side, the sunlight streaming through the open window, giving a glow that unnerved her.
Her husband had come to her in the arms of sleep. He had devoured her whole; carried her on the breeze, as he spilled his seed within her. He had brought her back to the forest, the bitter cold, where he ruled unopposed. For he was a god; ancient and all knowing. His whispers reached the ears of the unbelievers, on the wind that came from the North and soon he would devour them as well. She knew his time was near...he had told her wisdom, secrets...and she needed to prepare herself for the coming plague, where one word would be murmured in the dark...Wendigo.
The morning air carried a chill, her footsteps the only sound in the cemetery. Slowly strolling the lanes she looked with fascination upon the headstones that went off into the distance as she tried to imagine what it would look like when you multiplied them. Tens...hundreds...thousands of crooked teeth in the planet's mouth. She paused at a small grave, a little lamb carved into its face; running her fingers over the cold stone. It was a shame, truly a shame, that the young would go first. She felt her nipples grow hard, thoughts of her husband filling her head. Soon, the time for the feast would arrive.
A soft humming...click...click...click...the cat toyed with the mouse. Watching as it jerked with every tap of her claws. She watched faces scroll by on the laptop screen. People that hardly existed. Her mind felt hazy, a pressure on the back of her head from the string that held her mask in place. An alarm went off in the other room, a constant beeping that signaled meal time. But she didn't want the little pills. She didn't want the blue one, or the yellow one; she didn't want to keep poisoning herself. More faces scrolled by as she thought of the knowledge he had given her. All these people, poisoning their children with their medicines. She paused on a child's face, analyzing their innocent smile; the shimmer in their eyes. She opened up a photo album and began to look at a slide show of shy smiles and naive eyes. They needed to be saved, rescued...for once her husband's plague came upon humanity, they would need someone to teach them. She paused over a picture that a flame had appeared on. Dancing back and forth to mark the chosen. They needed to be reborn and she would love them all, for she was their mother now.
She watched as the boats dissolved, one by one, as she sat on the bathroom floor. The blue ones were taking longer to break in half. She leaned over and pressed the plunger, watching as a whirlpool took the survivors to a watery grave. Her foot brushed against an orange cylinder and it rolled away haphazardly across the bathroom. Tonight was a full moon, a sacred moon. Pulling herself to her feet, she plucked a yellow pill off of her lap that she had missed and absently tossed it into the toilet. No more need for that. She looked at her reflection and smiled. She picked up a mason jar off the counter, it's glass stained red from the menstrual blood she had saved for just a special moon. Her naked body appeared ghostlike, in the moonlight that filtered in through a blind and she cracked the seal of the jar.
She had appeared at his window like a phantom visitor, lightly tapping her claws against the glass. Her skin shimmered in the moonlight, the coating of blood protecting her as she had crossed the void, slipping silently through the crack. A smiling face greeted her on the other side; a smile that made babes cry in their bassinets and night time creatures turn heel and flee. Darkness for a moment, as the moon went behind a cloud and then a guiding beacon bursting to life from the gloom of the hallway. She had slithered inside, escaping the prying eyes of the damned and fell into his arms. Her bony fingers slid along ivory bone as she caressed the Wendigo's antlers, before he lifted her frail body from the ground and carried her over the threshold. She would be reborn tonight, under the vigilant eye of her lord. Tonight, she would taste his flesh. She purred, as he kicked the door shut behind them; her cat ears a dark shadow upon the wall as he carried her into his lair.
He showed her truth. He showed her violence. Her body, a sacred offering that he exposed and anointed in true understanding. The mother's sacrifice, in order for rebirth to come to the world. She cried tears of pain, as he taught her how harsh the world outside could be and was brought to euphoric joy, as he showed her what was soon to come. She was chosen...chosen by a god and she would give new life to all the little children. He left her in darkness, a bolt sliding into place outside the door, as the cries of the baby began. She heard music begin to play and she let out a giggle, as she sat in the corner of the room and rocked.
"What's wrong with my life today?
Stupid girl, Stupid girl
Stupid girl, Stupid girl..."
The doctor tapped a clipboard against his leg, as he stared through the observation window. She stared past him, as she leaned against the padded wall. Arms strapped to her chest, she batted her eyes innocently with a suggestive smile upon her face; her head tilted at a sharp angle to the side. A stream of saliva hung from her jaw as she whispered quietly, giggling every so often. He sighed and closed the shade that allowed him to see her through the double sided glass. She had shown no improvement since first arriving. She had been found by a neighbor of hers, completely nude and covered from head to toe in blood. She was standing outside their child's window, staring as she wore a crudely fashioned paper mache cat mask and had given the poor child a horrible scare. The blood had turned out to be her own, as well as anothers. A couple days later, an ex boyfriend of hers had been found horribly mutilated, the marks upon his body indicating his flesh had been picked upon as if a cat had been toying with prey. A failure, as far as he was concerned. There was no rehabilitation in sight for this one.
She sat beside her meal, leaning in to gnaw on it here and there. She had tasted sacred flesh, drank from the stream of life; she was now wendigo. She dwelled in the realm beyond human sight, for she was evolved. She was the mother. She let out a shrill meow and then burst out giggling, before resuming the endless whispering in the silent room.
(A Kitten; Dear Lunacy first appeared in Schlock! and was published in Perennial Solitude)
Artwork by Stephanie Atkins