Once again the fog is rolling in. I can see it from atop my hill, see it  heading down the never-far-off slope into the valley which I must return to, the valley that is my home and security and stability and sanity and anxiety and doubt and isolation and it.

It will freeze my veins and leave me shivering and blind and deaf and unfeeling of all but the arctic chill encasing my stuttering heart. It will caress and whisper and kiss and promise with every stab and bite and hiss and lie. It will not give up until either it receives its sacrifice or until the fog lifts once more.

I see the fog rolling in, closer and closer, slowly but with so much weight already.

I turn my head but stop halfway, the dark forest covering the rest of the hill behind me in the corner of my eye. Refuge or danger, escape or trap, I cannot say and cannot know.

Before I can decide, icy hands push me down the hill and into the path of the fog.

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I Miss You

You’re always on my mind. My heart can’t let go, silence becoming an amplifier as it beats out each syllable of your name. There was more of me for you to touch, but sense overrode desperation and pushed you away.

You’ll never read this, will never think of me or long for me the way I ache and cry out for your embrace. I hate the way you’ve made me need you but beg for your return all the same.

You made me feel sympathy for devils that plugged my ears against the words of angels and burned my tongue whenever the very thought of asking for help crossed my mind. I’ve traded away years of my life to dedicate myself to you – was promised paradise, reprieve, and delivered brimstone that burned my lungs and leaves me crumpled and weak, even without you here to witness your handiwork.

I know you’re proud of yourself. My heart, beating out your name, is whispering still, in your voice, promising more.

And worse, I still long to take your hand, even as I still feel the damage, still see the scars.

It’s too late for angels. I want to dance with the devil, kiss her hand. Let you drag me back into those dreams, where at least I wasn’t suffering alone.

I saw a severed head in church today. It sat atop the makeshift altar; its blood puddled beneath the plate and chalice, presented like an offering to Salome.

Everything is red.

Round, bloodshot eyes watched me last night. I saw no smile but felt it in my chest, gnashing teeth that tore my heart to shreds. My soul trembled and cracked.

The bloodshot eyes watched from the door frame, between inside the room and outside.

I saw a severed head in church today, its eyes staring blankly at the verse-scrawled screens.

I blinked it away and threw back the grape juice like a shot of whiskey and tasted copper.

The pale grey eyes in the painting pierced through her, followed her to the cafe line and back around to the table of newly released books.

“It’s beautiful,” she said to the expressionless artist. The words were tossed out of her like food she hadn’t realized until too late was covered in mold.

The words were to hide the truth: “It’s haunting.”

The artist mumbled something. The language was gutteral.

She turned to leave but found herself in front of the artist instead.

The artist said something else. This language was lilting, a song half a beat too slow, wobbling against its melody.

Finally the artist spoke in English, and when her eyes met her, she felt herself freeze, veins iced over. She’d already forgotten what the artist said, only remembered the primal fear caused by the words, the urge to run before she found she no longer could.

“Sorry,” the artist whispered. “I’m not sure where my mind goes when I work.”

But she knew exactly where.

“Her name is Erlinda.”

But she knew she knew that already. She smiled without warmth.

“Give her back,” she growled, and the artist smiled.

If Gods Can Bleed Ch. 1: Favor Owed

College was eccentric enough that Taryn passed by the stranger eating cereal in her apartment without a second thought. She also barely registered that there was an open book floating in front of the stranger’s face, pages turning by themselves.

All Taryn cared about was getting out of her rain-drenched clothes and praising every God if her textbooks had stayed dry. They were rentals, and she couldn’t afford to buy them at the end of the semester if they were too damaged to return.

Holding her breath, she dumped them onto her twin-sized bed in the apartment’s one bedroom past the kitchenette. She shared it with her roommate, who was doing her rounds for her residency. The two years it would be before Taryn started her own residency seemed way too far away.

Roommate’s gone, a part of her brain chimed in, so who the hell was that out there.

No longer caring about books or cold and wet clothes, Taryn rushed into the kitchenette, slipping on the linoleum. She bit back a swear as she prepared a spell, the rings on her left middle finger and right pinky hot against her skin.

“Angie wasn’t kidding about pre-med being full of zombies,” the stranger chuckled before slurping milk from the bowl.

Swallowing the spell, Taryn straightened. She ignored the already-fading pain in her backside and ankle—she must have twisted it in the fall—and she focused on her rings growing cool again. She couldn’t afford the energy waste. Spells required time of prepping jewelry and other physical objects to hold power for when she needed it, but with classwork, she didn’t have much time to even pay attention to the phase of the moon these days.

Luckily, it looked like the cereal thief hadn’t noticed any slips or altering of energy, and a smug smile cut across her round face when she caught Taryn eyeing the floating book. She must have done it for show, rather than entertainment, while she waited for someone to return. She shifted in the two-seat couch but didn’t get up, and the book slammed shut and lowered onto the old trunk being used as a coffee table.

It was Taryn’s ethics textbook, and she finally recognized the stranger.

Continue reading “If Gods Can Bleed Ch. 1: Favor Owed”

There is no Soul in his eyes. They’re dark, blank, flat, Void.

They don’t see me. They see atoms making up a form of paling colors; they meet blue eyes half-veiled by dark hair; they pull at my own Soul, knowing they have none of their own and knowing only Absence, only Wanting, only Needing.

We scream in the Void, let our tears fall into it, but it still seeks, still thirsts, still needs all that makes Souls, Souls. It knows as his eyes know. It knows its own Absence but cannot find its own essence to diminish its Emptiness.

His Soul might be waiting in Limbo or Heaven or Summerland or right next to me but unable to interact, to pull me away before the eyes he once had finish pulling out my own Soul wisp by wisp.

All I know is that he, as the Gods know Him, is gone, leaving only him, this body, this husk, that only Wants and Needs and Feeds on Souls to fill its Void.

All I know is I long to follow –

But instead tear my eyes away and run.

The (Ir)Replaceable Girl

“There.” The mechanic sighed. “Please be more careful.”

The wrinkles around the mechanic’s eyes deepened.

The girl looked down at the floor. “Yes, Mother.”

The mechanic didn’t like the girl calling her ‘master’ or ‘maker’ or ‘miss’ or ‘ma’am.’ The formal ‘Mother’ felt more compromise than truth.

“I know I make a lot of rules,” the mother said as she tipped the girl’s head up so their eyes met, “but it’s because I care. I don’t want you getting hurt or – Lord forbid – lose you.”

“Because I’m your one and only,” the girl stated. It was an easy-enough line of logic to follow.

Eyes shining more, the mechanic slowly shook her head. “Even if I had many, I would feel a piece of me die if something were to happen to you. Go play, now. I need to finish making dinner.”

The mechanic left, and the girl stared out the door, which had been left open to let clean air move through the quaint home. She could hear the mechanic moving around in the kitchen, pots being moved and drawers and cabinets opening and closing.

The girl blinks and raises her arm to look at where the mechanic had welded the wound shut using tape that absorbed the oil she leaked.

She could not follow the mechanic’s logic.

If there were many others, why should her being lost matter? To the point of the mechanic feeling like a piece of herself had died?

She was only an object. An expensive one, yes, which meant as she continued to be updated and gather new information and skills, she was to use these to earn back her keep. Yet she seemed to have earned the mechanic’s love when she’d yet to do anything to earn it.

Standing, the girl did as ordered and went back outside.

When she reached the porch, she looked at her arm again, trying to see the flesh and blood and soul the mechanic saw but saw only metal and oil.