Intrinsic Anomalies

Ramblings of a Millennia-old Sage Trapped Inside a Bespectacled Youth

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Slats In The Belfry

The old cypress tree cut the moon into a patchwork of light. The open field behind the church had been a favorite of Joey and his pals for as long as he could remember holding his first joint. He could see it from his hideout among the bushes, the old town church. A stained roof over brittle brickwork, quite a few dents and flaws in the paint job. On top of that, it was ill-illuminated and damp, giving it a sinister aspect in the autumn darkness. The little light that it emanated came from two large searchlights in front of it. The dust that obfuscated the big lamps did nothing to attenuate the atmosphere seen from the tree.

Joey winced when he heard a creaking noise from the dark church. It was the middle of the night, an hour not usually assumed as a priest’s waking hour. Light from within bathed the wet grass behind the church, framing the silhouette of a waking creature. From the distance, the figure looked like a hunchback with a strange protuberance coming out of its shoulders and dropping until halfway down its waist. Joey was perplexed by the silhouette, his mind working to fill the parts his eyes couldn’t make out. Tightening his body to carefully hide behind the cypress, Joey clutched his hand beneath the other and felt the cold transpiration come out. The smell of his own urine made him use his wet hands to protect his nose and cover his mouth, afraid to alert the dark beast to his whereabouts.

The creature walked with cumbersome laziness, trying to find its way to the church’s main door. Now, seeing it from the side, it looked to be a quadruped, two pairs of legs divided by an elongated torso, like a small equine. But where a horse’s tail would be, there was a protuberance, upwards, like a centaur of myth with two parallel human body’s, one at the front and one at the back. That weed was past its expiration date, thought Joey’s slow mind.

Another light was turned on inside the belfry, casting form on the grotesque mass. Joey stifled a laugh, aimed at his own hallucination. The mythological being was nothing but two men, carrying the body of a third between them. An unconscious one. In the middle of the night. Sweat drenched his chest and armpits. Afraid that the silver necklace could be struck by the light of the church and make him easily spotted, he hid it under his shirt. He was not supposed to see this.

The men knocked gently on the church’s door, a knock only audible for the muteness of the woods. As the door was opened, by the frail hands of the priest, the light hit the men’s faces and Joey felt he recognized them. Was that his old teacher and physician, Dr. Tuttle? The man certainly had the broad shoulders and small stature, the air of expectation and fidgety demeanor. He wore a tweed jacket and his glasses seemed askew, but he carried the unknown man as if it wasn’t the first time. The other was with his back to Joey and he couldn’t make out who the tall man was.

Curiosity was eating away at Joey’s fright, and he thought about approaching the windows of the belfry. But that would be risky and, furthermore, he was already taking too long to go back to Jim and Patricia, after having excused himself to take a leak. But if he returned and told them what he had seen, his best friend and girlfriend would likely want to join them in investigating and they would be easier to spot. Joey wanted to see what they would do to the body, he would steal a glance and run back, just to prove to himself there was no real evil going on.

The door to the church was closed again, and Joey tried to make no sound as he made his way around the building, looking for a window that would show him what he sought. The voices came before the sight and he knew he was close. The window was affixed to the side of the building, closer to the ground, and opened to a slanted room underneath the belfry. Joey laid on the wet grass and listened intently, fighting the impulse to look through the slats.

The three men conversed of incomprehensible things, of schemes and rituals and appeasement. Of specific tools and mutilation, but, most of all, of doubts. Through the slatted shutter, Joey heard the hoarse voice of the tall man and finally could place him. It was the judge of town, Mr. Bostrom, a man Joey knew better than he’d like. Bostrom was a rigid man, a man whose traditionalist principles governed the community. To see him here meant things were not what they seemed, but before that it meant he had nowhere to turn to, no one to intervene in whatever sick happenings were about to unfold.

The judge made clear his uncertainty, saying he was unsure that this was what the professor wanted. The others disagreed and said this was the only way, according to the old scriptures, and the professor, whoever he was, was a scholar of the old texts. The name of the man they so avidly idolized was easy to remember, but Joey knew of none by that name in town. The judge’s over-the-top pronunciation, that made him take a few seconds longer than required to say the Rs in Joey’s last name whenever they met in opposite sides of court, made sure to drill the man’s name in his skull.
But who was Professor Strömberg?

A movement at the edge of his vision made him tense up. He rolled on the grass to get a better view and saw his pal Jim and his sweetheart Patsy looking for him at the end of the woods. If he stayed there, they could come closer and alert the men inside. But he wanted to see, at least one time, what they were doing to the body of the dead man. As calmly as he could muster, he approached the window and saw through the slats a metal table with a naked corpse on top, his chest cut in the middle and his innards showered with an weird black oil. In a wooden table next to the vicious sight, an assortment of knives and metal devices and a leather-bound book with grotesque illustrations and hand-written instructions. Candle-lit and incense-filled, the room had an oppressive and sickening quality. Joey could but force himself not to vomit. He tried to go back out slowly, but his necklace escaped his shirt and stuck to the slat, producing a loud noise.

He yanked at it and was free as he heard the inhuman screams and the frantic shuffling of the men below. His feet could hardly hold him and his legs and throat burned, but he kept running, trying to find his friends. Half way to the woods, his stomach couldn’t hold itself anymore. His sick came out in streams as he ran, dirtying his clothes and the field beyond the church. As he reached the first tree, he saw his friends come towards him, utter worry on each face. He tried to mouth the words, but couldn’t. He tried to scream, but couldn’t. He looked back and saw three silhouettes, now the grotesque not just a product of the mind, bursting through the door and looking for him. The screams came unheeded.

As the three kids fled the place, guided by Joey’s mute gesticulations, their simultaneous goosebumps made them realize they’d have to learn to be braver friends now than they had ever been, to endure the coming times.

The light from the moon seemed to cut up the world in tiny pieces, a patchwork of fear. But soon, no light would shine.

Based on this amazing trailer narration by Brooks Christy.

I’ve always wanted to try and take funny/bizarre videos or ideas and see how I could work them. This is what I came up with in two moments of boredom - one moment, several years ago, when I first saw the video, and one moment now, as I try to diminish the numerical difference between my drafts and my posts.
I hope you did laugh, I hope you did thrill, I hope you did indeed shudder as you read this.

Filed under short story short fiction writing horror humor tense belfry slats slats in the belfry brooks christy lovecraft h.p. lovecraft fantasy

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The Wooden Tinker

By the light of the setting sun, she saw herself traverse the stone bridge at the edge of town. The sky looked like a ragged cloth, billowing in the wind. At the far end, a figure stood by a cart filled with packed goods. She had heard of him, the tattered clothing that hid his head and heels, the wooden mask that adorned his head. He was a peddler of trinkets, known to get more than he gave. The eyeless mask turned to face the girl as the goosebumps made her stop. 

When her feet began to move again, the peddler turned to his cart, looking for something in its depths. She pressed on, trying not to meet his wooden gaze. Perhaps she could slip by him, unperturbed yet disturbed.

The town folk told of a man that would wait by the riverbank. Among the towering mess of the cart, a trinket for every one. He wouldn’t stop all that passed by him, but he would sooner or later stop all man and woman and offer something. His motives and ways were as shifting as was his appearance. For children, he was a way to keep them close by. For adults, he was a way to keep them fearful of the unknown. For everyone, he was a way to break the silence.

In a few versions, he was a wood spirit and would sell back to mankind its connection to nature, something for which anyone would pay whatever he desired. In other versions, he would steal something from you and try to sell it back. There were those who believed he was looking for his own face and would steal from the people who passed by him and, realizing he had taken the wrong one, give it back for a steep price. And there were the skeptics who said he was a mere peddler whose deformed face was hidden by a wooden mask. The truth didn’t matter, she just needed him to let her pass. The next town over would be a new start, she could be whoever she wanted, without fear of her past, of the parts of her from which she wanted to flee. The tinker was just a man, a odd one at that, but a man nonetheless.

She was startled by the wooden face’s sudden gasp. The rasp of the man’s voice muffled by the wood. He stopped tinkering with the cart and started patting down his coat. She grew nervous. There was no way of knowing, but she felt his eyes on her, measuring her up. Probably trying to come up with something for her to buy. 

Up close, the man seemed small, his tattered and wet clothing stuck to the malnourished frame. The iron pans and silver cutlery didn’t shine, despite the red sun and the bright waters below. His face turned sluggishly and, slightly twisted to the side, looked like waiting for her reaction. The wood of the mask seemed old and rotten, splinters often falling into the cart and cobblestones. His demeanor was somber and slow, handling the trinkets with great care and patience.

As she walked beside him, the man turned an old and frail hand to her, to impede her path. She stopped, even though the hand had made a poor job of blocking the way. Her mind tried to find the reasons she would stop, despite the sweat that drenched her face and body and the fear that screamed for her legs to run. The superstitions of youth were the hardest to throw away. This was the wooden tinker, the man who bought and sold dreams, the man that would store all of the wrongdoings of children, the man who would demand a toll be payed or else the evil in the bottle with your name be unleashed and done unto you. He was the reason we gave to account for the droughts, the plagues, the deaths. He was the devil himself and the reason she wasn’t allowed to go out at night. The wooden mask was there because what lay beneath would tear the mind apart. So her legs wouldn’t move, because the man with the wooden face wouldn’t let them.

With another diseased hand, he rummaged in his coat’s pocket and produced from it a large shard of some weird material. It shone with a red and purple tint that could only be compared to the sky overhead. As the tinker moved it around, the material changed, as if it encapsulated a bigger image. The reds and purples and blues of the shard danced around and she could swear to have seen yellow clouds passing inside it. The novelty got her attention with its striking beauty, but seemed no more than that - a novelty.

A sound of rasping wood on wood echoed in her ears and she took a few seconds to realize what it was. The wooden tinker, his right hand down and his left hand turning the shard to face her, was laughing. But she couldn’t focus on the disturbing chortle as her mouth dropped open and saw what the shard showed. Therein, looking out with an expression of utter horror that echoed in her own face, was herself. The double, trapped inside the piece of sky, looked at her and examined the similarities, much like she was doing to it. The devil had trapped herself inside the shard. And that was his plan. The wooden demon would sell her self to her. The superstitions and scary stories of childhood came flooding back. How could she not want to buy that? What nefarious things could he do to it, if she didn’t? Could she live with herself, knowing there was a part of her trapped and, why not, being tortured, inside a small chunk of glass? Would she feel it?

What would he ask for it?

A sound like roots growing, like a tall tree straining under strong winds. The man showed her his hand and motioned it like swatting a fly, as if brushing her aside. The girl in the shard seemed as quizzical as herself. She looked back. Back. Back into town? Back into her life, the one she had made all the effort to give up? Was that the price? Giving up on the terrifying unknown to settle back into the torment of certainty? Could she keep herself whole only if she went back? It was a steep price indeed.

The chortle seemed even less human, now.

Perhaps it was a good deal. There was nothing to make her believe the next town would be any better, nor that it wouldn’t be worse. How could she just let a part of herself behind with not even a small guarantee that it was for a good cause? Maybe the wooden tinker wasn’t a demon, but an angel sent to veer her off the wrong course. Like a good friend that, when faced with the poor decision of another, sees no way of dissuading and tries to employ manipulation to help see the error. Maybe the wooden tinker knew where everyone was headed, and tried to prevent the worst outcomes but couldn’t speak.

Why the laughs, then? No, that wasn’t it.

Hadn’t she already relinquished most of her former self, by coming this far? Was not the bridge behind her made of hundreds of fragments of herself, laden with her personality and decisions and relationships? Was it not to run from that very sense of self, one that made her feel disgusted and outcast, that she found herself crossing this river? What the peddler was, beside a mere man in a wooden mask, was the threshold. The final stop before she could begin anew. Let him keep the fragment and all the others that fell behind, for she will create new ones to make a mosaic out of.

The laughter that echoed now was entirely human, more human than she knew she was. It was hers, and it seemed to make the tinker pause. The frail knuckles of the old man began to whiten and soon there was blood on the bridge and the sound of creaking wood in a storm as she walked the final stretch.

And she looked back and said, with a devious smile in her lips, that she was more than a tangled mess of mirrors.

This one took me quite some time. There were too many conflicting ideas and too much to say (which may account for the length of the story). I still feel I haven’t said everything (and perhaps that’s good, since to feel you’ve said everything is the death of any writer), but I wanted it to feel like a fable, which I’m not sure I managed.
Anyway, I feel I should address a few things here:
I must apologize to the people that were interested in it, for archiving Diaspora, and with not even a word about it to boot. It wasn’t one problem or other that made me postpone it indefinitely, but a bundle of them at once. I don’t intend to give up on it because I admit I truly enjoy the story I have cooked up and really want to tell it (although I wasn’t particularly happy with the way I was doing it). But life has had a way of impeding almost any project I try to tackle alone. My free time has been gradually and inexorably diminished and I can’t say I know when I’ll get any breathing room back. I do want to go back and make it into the great adventure my mind seems to believe it is, with all the exquisite art and mind-blowing animations it deserves.
Finally, for the people that do read these things, if such people in fact exist, and for some reason want to reblog these stories, feel free to delete these ramblings I usually put after each piece, if you wish. I won’t mind. I use this space as this sort of actual blogging tool because I don’t want to fill this site with more factual personal anxiety than the fictional sort. I can only hope that the fictional and semi-poetic aspects can help reverberate this stuff with the readers in a way the non-fiction couldn’t, if anything.

Filed under short story short fiction fiction fable fairy tale tinker peddler surreal deal contract mirror fragment psychology woman devil angel dychotomy mosaic internal monologue wooden tinker mask wooden mask wood seller cautious tale bridge new life writing story fantasy

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The stars beckoned behind the cracked sky. The world seemed askew beneath my feet. As I looked ahead, trying to deduce where my life would lead me, The Fragment of the Universe seemed to pull me, possess me, taint me. It was a reminder of humanity’s failed gambit and a monument to the end of the world.

My current silence here can be attributed to a few things, chiefly of which is the fact that I have been working on an interactive webcomic, called Diaspora. The model of which I have borrowed from, mainly, MSPaint Adventures. This means that the action is largely controlled by the suggestions of the readership, which seemed like a good way to force me to produce material, since I can delude myself into thinking that I’m not entirely responsible for the narrative, if it ends up not as good as I envisioned. Which isn’t to say I won’t give all I have to make it work and be enjoyable. My problem is over-thinking things, only starting to write when I have every single detail down. This model forces me to improvise and try to become comfortable without being in perfect control, which may be just what I need.

I had promised myself I would start putting things up on the 21st of December, for a kind of obvious internet reference. However, a few things, not least of which my self-doubt (which only decided to give me some space with the help of some great friends’ support), got in the way. But now here it is. I have already delineated most of the main events of the story and the first page is already up. I hope you’ll at least give it a chance and, if you can espy a chance at potential, spread the word around.

For that reason, this site may have to double as a development blog, so be on the look out for tidbits and notices here. I already know how the story, if it gets enough wind to get there, will end, but it’s with the twists and turns that you readers will help me. That will possibly present an amazing journey for both you and me.


Filed under Projects Webcomic Comic Illustration Story Fiction Science Fiction Diaspora Adventure Webcomic MSPA Ms Paint Adventures Vector Prequel Ruby Quest Adventure Post Apocalypse Survival Fracture Universe Crack 21st of Dec 12/21 December 21st Wasteland Homestuck Problem Sleuth