Tag Archive: story


Pumpkin Spiced Lycanthropy

Jasper was every bit an “average Joe”. He loved his small-town roots, his perfectly worn in steal-toe boots, and his permanently coffee stained 42 ouncer plastic mug representing the one and only gas station before the junction. He had watched with mild fascination as the old community office just across the street had been transformed into a den of over-priced coffee, never feeling the pull of the iconic green and white cup sporting his name in someone else’s handwriting, but today was different. Today, Jasper was more than curious. Today, Jasper was in need.

The Gas’N’Go had failed him. Faulty wiring in the hot plate, where the decaf usually sat, had shorted the whole thing leaving nothing behind but an OUT OF SERVICE sign and a whiff of overheated metal coils. So now Jasper stood just within the doors of what he affectionately referred to as the Coffee Cult when making fun of his “on-trend” friends. It was a lot to take in. His first thought was that commercialization was alive and well. Quickly followed by a rapid fire 20 questions game with his sensory response to the environment. What is that sound? Was it a bag pipe? What is that smell? Carmel? Vanilla? It was like stumbling into a new age rock concert held on a scented candle. Even his eyes had to adjust to the low jewel toned mood lighting.

Two minutes later and Jasper was at the “I’ll be damned” stage. He had read the handwritten menu three times and could not find the word coffee anywhere. He was sure one of the items must be a simple coffee, but since fancy to him had meant a flavored creamer, things like Amerciano held no coffee-based meaning to him. By the time he made it to the woman at the register he had formulated a plan.

“Mornin’ I’ll have the least expensive coffee you serve.”

It had made sense to him a small black coffee was enough to get him to work and while it wouldn’t last all day, like the 42 ounces would have, it was better than nothing. Also, a plain coffee should be the least expensive thing on the menu and ordering this way would require no fancy jargon.

“That’s the best order I have heard all day!” The lady with an ear full of metal exclaimed flashing a smile that was pure manic glee. “You are in for a fun ride love,” she said her mouth drawing thin, “Name?”

“Uh, Jasper.” He was sure he had made a misstep, black coffee wouldn’t have gotten that response, but it seemed he was too far in for a graceful retreat.

“Tall PSL for,” direct eye contact then a wink, “for Uh Jasper”.

He walked to the PICK UP sign and scanned the hand drawn posters trying to decipher what he had ordered. He didn’t have to look very hard the center board was dominated by the words Special: Pumpkin Spice Latte. “What the…”

“Uhjazpeer!”

He almost missed his own name. “Hey, I just wanted coffee,” he offered to the man with an orange side swept Mohawk.

“That is coffee.” Came the response as the man hurried off to the next item on his list.

“Damn it.”

Jasper grabbed his “coffee” and headed over to the fixin’s counter. He tried the drink, eyes squinted, to assess how best to handle the PSL. An intense combination of kitchen spices lingered with a nice warmth in the back of his throat triggering an immediate need for another taste. Lid forgotten he walked over the nearest booth and sat. Savoring the aroma and smooth frothiness he alternated between gulps and sips till he hit foam. It was gone. Jasper sat still for a moment. Shocked. Confused. Unsatisfied.

He stood quickly, not sure if he would run for the door or the counter, then it hit him. His eyes went dim and a roar of electric sound tore at his sanity. His scalp and face recoiled from the sensation of a million fire ants angrily making their way from one side to the other. His chest felt tight and his extremities squeezed. Stumbling forward Jasper made it to the bathroom before he collapsed.

Blinking his eyes, he first noticed that the music in the bathroom was much nicer than what they had been playing in the shop. The tightness had disappeared, so he chanced walking to the sink. In the mirror he could barely recognize himself. His clothes looked at least two sizes too small, the burning sensation on the right side of his scalp had left him with an exaggerated asymmetrical part, and his face which still itched and stung had sprouted a full beard. The door opened pulling a tendril of cinnamon scented air towards Jasper. His spine stiffened, all concerns forgotten except for the insatiable need for his next pumpkin spice latte.

The woman behind the counter was still smiling the manic grin. “What’ll it be?”

Image result for pumpkin spice latte hipster

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A moment of peace

The day’s rain could still be heard in the leaves of the trees, softly rustling in the gentle breeze, and plodding off the broken drain pipe onto the slate slab walkway below. The sky, however, had been washed clean. The stars sparkled and the moon’s illumination fell softly upon the night. While the easy rise and fall of the nighttime thrum sang of rest and eternity.

It represented a moment of peace, and in that moment everything was beautiful.

Her lack of sleep rode shotgun on today’s commute. She had fought sleep then the alarm, to no avail, but she was wide awake now. It was mostly due to anxiety tying her stomach in knots, though honestly the “how” was less than important. As long as self-doubt didn’t run away with her she was sure she could make it though the day. Well, almost.

Stargazer

She was staring at the sky, childlike. Her head thrown back and eyes open wide, willing each point of light to stand out from the deep dark night. From afar it might have appeared as if she was searching, so intense was her focus. This was not, however, the case. She was found. As overwhelming as the galaxy was, in that moment it did not cause her to lose her nerve. The infinite possibility, instead, seemed a comfort. Welcoming and challenging in equal measure. This moment, the night, and even the possibility was hers for the taking.

Blinking at last, she shook her head. Trying to clear both her mind and her starfilled eyes, but the damage was done. A knowing smile replaced her look of wonder as she turned back to the heavens. Now, now she wouldn’t be satisfied till she reached out and touched one.

Up thoughts

Alice in Wonderland all rights to Disney


She stood on tiptoe her nose barely reaching over the edge of the table. The treats were so tempting sitting in their cut crystal bowl screaming “eat me”, but still she wavered. Some small animalistic lobe of the brain alerting her to the danger of too perfect an opportunity. Quickly she glanced side to side, sure she was about to be found out for the uninvited interloper she was, but no one looked or noticed. Quick as a flash tiny hand took tiny treat. The jolt of adrenaline added to the flavor making the sugar complex and wonderful. Wildly she enjoyed the stolen morsel, and having eaten her treasure sank to the floor… deflated. No one had noticed or cared. Emptiness filled her stomach and inch by inch swollowed her, mind and all. Everything now felt sharp and disjointed as if it had become over large or ungainly. She sat with her new feelings and confused by them began searching for explanation. She had gotten what she wanted, right? 

Yes, it had been exquisite in both anticipation and reality. So why did she now feel even smaller? 

The thoughts made her want to wipe her hands off, as if this mindset could be cleared away so easily. 

Maybe, no. Perhaps the real want had not yet been met. 

Immediately her searching switched to scanning. The treats were little, the pleasure they brought had been little, and the motive tiny. She would need something much bigger to make the smallness go away. Ruby and amber flashes winked at her from smoky glass decanters daring her to “drink me”. This, she thought, was no little thing this was big. The big action of a big person who people would notice. Decided she went for the decanter thinking only up thoughts. The flush of success, so newly acquired, slipped away as the liquid passed parted lips. It seared and burned on the way down pulling her after. 

Up it seemed was still out of reach.

I itch between my shoulder blades, the unreachable itch of watchful eyes cast my way. I don’t dare turn to look as the pointless gesture only makes me look guilty, of something… of anything worth watching. Instead I slowly roll my shoulders and stretch my back, even pull a yawn. It is better to appear bored, or better yet tired, tired people aren’t a threat. It’s hard to mobilize when you are beat down by life and lack of sleep. The gaze slips from me to the truely tired business man slumped against the hand rail beside me. He startles noticibly before faining indifference. I keep my smile small and smother the laugh threatening to bubble out, nothing attracts unwanted attention like laughter at tense moments. The urge completely abates with the soft gasp and hushed rustle of fabric that means someone is being “helped” off the train for questioning. 

A heavy silence follows those sounds; filled with dred and inactivity. I cannot blame them the fear we are all mainlining these days, compliments of our government for our own good I’m sure, is a potent drug. 

I check my watch, like I always do, stand and walk towards the back of the train, per usual, shift my bag to the center of my back, in a perfectly normal manner. I am just a commuter. I am just tired. I am “sheepole”. The thoughts drive through me like a steel rod, straightening my back and my resolve, like bolts of lightning, energizing and wild, like the truth which frees.

Impatiently, I wait for the train to stop and the doors to open. I tap my toes, check my watch, and adjust my bag. In an exaggerated motion I crane my neck looking for the conductor who will stand near the open the door waiting to help myself and the pair in front of me disboard. I mumble and “swear to god” under my breath. Everyone has backed away from the door except us three. Our mixed bag of emotions, as repellent as noxious gas, acts as a shield. No one wants to see the fear in the eyes of the man being taken for questioning or the joy in the young recruit’s. I remain impatient and agitated. I shift my bag to my side just as the train lurches to a stop. My perfectly timed fall is unavoidable and undignified. As the locked doors spring open the young recruit, I grabbed for stability, and I fall down the steps in a tangle.

The fearful man, selected for questioning, freezes for only an instant.

We lock eyes.

He nods once, then is gone.

The itchy feeling is back, but at least I no longer have to suffer the dreadful inactive silence. What comes next will have been worth it.

I am civil disobedience, and I will not be ignored.

 

“She just… kind of broke,” the little boy sounded surprised. 

“Well what happened,” his grandfather asked him. “Did you wind her up too tight? Did you press her buttons too many times?”

The perplexed look never left his eyes even as he shook his head no vigorously.

“Maybe you neglected her then,” the grandfather offered. “Is she still in one piece? Was she nurtured? Did you protect her from the muck of the world?”

The boy turned her over in his hands more gently with each revolution. “I think so papa!”

“Then what do you think it could be kiddo?” 

The boy’s eyes squinted and his brow worked up into a furrowed ridge before a lightbulb went off behind his eyes. “I don’t know, but I’m going to try and make it right.”

All rights to owner

All rights to owner whom I thank

Magnificent Intentions Circus was trying to work its way out of a dry spell. The ticket sales the fire eater had been brining in were slowing down so now the MIC was as dusty as Oklahoma, and just as downtrodden.

With unavoidable hard times on the horizon the troupe started dividing itself into factions. The ones who had been with the circus the longest were the first to draw a line in the sand. The menagerie keeper, clowns, strong man, and the peep show considering themselves the greatest of performers began disparaging the newer acts in an attempt to safeguard their own positions at Magnificent Intentions. This left the other acts to fend for themselves. 

Tired of feeling left out and unwanted the newer acts decided they to would form their own diverse network of carnies. Now all the freeks, geeks, and oddity acts that had not been with MIC long enough to be considered eligible for the greatest of performers had the sense of community they had been lacking. 

Wanting to revive interest in the circus once more both groups decided to sugest a new act for Magnificent Intentions in the hopes of cementing their positions in the troupe. The diverse network of carnies made the first move recommending  Mademoiselle Merry to the owners. It seemed all too perfect a fit. The alliteration alone making her inclusion in the circus seem preordained. So the fortune teller came down from New York City. Immediately interest in MIC grew as word spread about the Mademoiselle and her mystical knowledge of all secrets and hidden truths. Unfortunately, times which were already hard were only made harder when mixed with her cold hard facts. So Madem’ Merry’s brand of entertainment proved ineffective at sparking the renewed interest Magnificent Intentions badly needed.

Having watched the fortune teller’s popularity wax and wane the greatest of performers sifted through many options before deciding which act to set before the owners. They all agreed that the act should be fantastical, as far removed from the mundane as possible, and entertaining enough to necessitate multiple viewings. However, a decision seems nearly impossible till the menagerie man made his suggestion. An orange elephant. He argued that such a massive wild beast would be awe inspiring, and that people would come again and again needing to be assured the creature truely existed. Many thought the menagerie man could not produce such a beast, with coloration as vivid and outrageous as orange, but finally the owners were swayed by the novality of it. After all… no other show could boast such an impossible act. 

So the circus made its preparations. 

On the day the orange elephant was to arrive the other beautiful animals in the menagerie were pinned and stabbled in the back. Out of sight. An orange elephant, being so superior, could not be expected to get along with the black Arabian stallions, brightly feathered peacocks, or aging jaguars after all. The next change was in staffing. Maintaining an orange elephant required more work hours devoted to feeding and cleaning so the owners of Magnificent Intentions asked all the women in the troupe to stop performing and focus on care related tasks instead. Finally, additional strong men were hired to help train the orange elephant while those with talents deemed “nolonger necessary” were asked to leave.

The orange elephant was exactly what had been promised. It was iminse, dwarfing all the other animals at the circus. It was an unbelievable shade of orange. Fantastic to behold. The orange elephant made the other acts seem dull and quickly became the Big Top performance everyone wanted to see. The day the orange elephant joined the circus ticket sales went through the roof but the Magnificent Intentions Circus changed. 

The greatest of performers only saw the good changes. Their jobs were secure, the seats were filled, and money was flowing like a river. The drought was over. However, the other carnies saw it differently. The fence erected around the circus to protect the orange elephant felt more like a cage than a barrier from harm. The once equally revered performances from both long running and newer members could now be easily separated into favorite acts, from the greatest of performers, and forgotten acts, from the diverse network of carnies. 

But the people cheered when the orange elephant appeared. Clapped when the Dancing Donkeys were scattered as the orange elephant charged. Laughed as the Acrobatic Annabelles were swatted away by swinging trunk and flapping ears. Even begged for more as the Big Top tent shivered and shook when the orange elephant stomped around.

The Magnificent Intentions Circus loved the new interest and the major up swing in ticket sales, but soon even the owners could see the orange elephant was more trouble than it was worth. The damage however was done; the money spent and the banners painted. The orange elephant would have to stay till a better act came to town.


S.A.N.T.A.

Let’s get one thing straight, I might need you but you need me too. So let me just start with a what the hell! You have got to be kidding me … right? This cannot be real. I mean, are you serious?!? What more do you want!?! Okay now that that is out of the way let’s try for full disclosure.

I am a Nisse and my very existence is now threatened, once again I might add, because so many of you with your oh so fact driven mindsets do not believe in Santa. This is getting old folks. We dealt with this issue way back in the 1500s, originally that is, and then again in the 1800s. I mean really;

Is there a Santa Claus? Does Santa really deliver all those presents? How does Santa visit all the good boys and girls?

Your incesent disbelief has become like a school yard taunt, unoriginal and repetitive. We have heard these questions with increasing frequency over the last 50 years, and I, for one, am tired of having to watch adults stumble through explinations. However, and perhaps more troubling, the questions have now reached critical mass. They have become a threat to our lives.

Before you dismiss me out of hand allow me to explain how you and your questions are slowing killing me. See Nisse are actually lesser fairies, by which I mean we walk not fly, and like our sparkling June-bug sized kin we require your belief. It sustains us like water to a flower; without it we slowly wilt and fade. 

I know that outside of Scandinavia few know our true names therefore it might be hard to imagine that enough people believe in us at all for us to still exist. You’re not wrong. We first faced this issue back in the 1500s when fairy lore was slipping into mythology. We transitioned from doing helpful deeds to delivering gifts. It still was not enough. The population was growing but sadly belief in us was not. Around this time we heard tell of Father Christmas a genial and jolly man keeping the works of Saint Nicolas alive in England. We immediately saw him as the answer to all of our problems. You see here was another population who already believed in a gift giver who even had his own holiday. So we fashioned ourselves after him going door to door handing out gifts of food requesting only that the recipients hold on to these yuletide feelings year long.

We spent years toiling away spreading Father Christmas’s brand of cheer but all it did was build his fame. Gift giving by a magical being on Christmas was happening all over Europe, thanks to us, but everyone was forgetting the ground work we were putting in. So in the 1800s when Father Christmas was busy becoming Santa Claus, thanks to the up and coming Americans, we made an executive decision to unify the two endeavors. We, the Nisse, would be the work force helping to make the gifts, now small toys, and the deliveries, now done secretively via chimnies, and Santa Claus would be the face of the operation.

And what a hype man, I mean everyone knows about Santa Claus and his hard working elves. His involvement has been key to our continued survival, but it’s a two-way street. His noteriety lends us the credability we need, even if you use the wrong term, what’s in a name anyway. Without us he would have been a failure, no man is an island including the jolly Mr. Claus.

So I would like to take this moment to make an official statement. 

Yes, S.A.N.T.A. exists, and yes, S.A.N.T.A. delivers all the presents in one night. The Secret Aggregrate of Nisse for Toy Aqusition makes sure of that. So save your cookies and milk what we want as a thank you is a little faith and a little gratitude, you know if you’re feeling generous, or you will be stuffing your own stockings. Warning to the wise.

All rights to the owner whom I thank

What do you remember?

As seen on wikimedia all rights to the owner

The night was sharp. I have no better way to describe it. It looked like it had been cutaway from the daylight by a painter’s knife with short sure motions. 

I could focus on little else.

Driven to distraction it wasn’t till my fingers started to burn from the icy wind that I looked away from the heavenly Bob Ross. Summer sunsets are beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but there is some kind of eery otherworldliness in crisp winter night skies. 

Once inside I turned off the TV and put a kettle on to boil, the image had me in the mood for strong tea and dark silence. So I watched the red-orange flames lick out alive waiting for the hiss of steam.

I held the mug with both hands soaking up the minty warmth, but the tension in my shoulders refussed to drain away. Something in the night nagging at the periphery of my attention. The house was quite, the door was locked, I closed my eyes willing the edges of my frayed nerves to lie flat…

I startle at the sound of a man clearing his throat sloshing piping hot tea onto my right hand.

“Ma’am can you tell me what happened,” he asks a look somewhere between pity and suspicion in his eyes.

“Happened? What happened?”

He checks a notepad while I look around the small uncomfortable room. It has dingy short pile carpet, a table with coffee cup rings, and hard molded plastic chairs. The man makes direct eye contact, only suspicion this time, “What do you remember?”

“It was sharp,” his eyebrows shoot towards the ceiling, “the night was sharp.” I elaborate, “the sky had this look like it was painted, you know what I mean? Too many straight edges…sharp-like.”

“That’s what you remember?” 

He’s incredulous.

“What about the fire? Do you not remember the fire?” The man is very nearly yelling at me.

I consider what he has said, thinking back, trying to remember. Like a reflex I take a sip of tea, “I made tea.” I offer holding up the mug.

He stands and walks to the door. Quick quiet words are exchanged with someone I cannot see. “I just handed you that tea ma’am,” he says while walking back to the table, “you don’t remember anything.” This time it’s a statement not a question.

“The night was sharp and otherworldly.”

He looks at me so hard he looks through me. The pity is back in his eyes.

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