Friday, October 21, 2011
First of all.... funny how the brain works. I wanted to write a chilling story for Halloween, and one of my favorite stories is HP Lovecraft's "The Call of Cthulhu". With a little Lovecraftian inspiration and a few days of work, the story was ready to post. So I thought I'd like to my original review (new window) of Call that I wrote for this blog... and realized that I wrote it a year ago today.
Almost makes me wonder if I wasn't somehow... inspired?
Aaron Matthew Smith- October 21st, 2011
I’ve never traveled by freighter before. I’m really excited, because I hate flying and I love the water, plus an airliner wouldn’t let me on with half of my gear. If it turns out to work for me, I might travel by boat all the time.
I hate boats.
I’ve barely kept anything down for the last week, and I can hardly sleep I’m so nauseous. The crew keeps laughing at the sick white guy on board. I guess it’d be funny to me if I were them, too. I hope my sickness doesn’t interfere with my work.
I the dream last night. This time, the island was clear and cold. It’s never cold this close to the equator, but in the dream I was shivering as I was walking to the mountain. All the time, the only thing I could hear was the voice. The same voice that’s haunted my dreams, or maybe my subconscious, for months.
“I wait for you, Dr. Saunders. The king of the stars waits within the queen of heaven.”
We finally arrived at Tristan Da Cunha today. When I could walk again, I was greeted by the head of the Island Council, Christian. I was told that all of the island’s 300 inhabitants were evacuating; Queen Mary’s Peak hasn’t erupted since 1961, but those who were alive for it recognized the signs. I don’t know whether to be honored or intimidated that these people were effectively turning over their whole island to me. There’s plenty of food, and the radios seem to work well enough. I instructed the freighter to come back for me in three weeks time whether they’ve heard from me or not. And unless the volcano goes off, I suppose I’m stuck here until then.
I’d hoped that being on the island would awaken the dreams, but since arriving I haven’t had the slightest premonition. I’ve been monitoring the seismology equipment, but it hasn’t reacted at all. If the indigenous peoples hadn’t all left I could at least fulfill the anthropological portion of my visit, but I’ve had nothing to do since arriving. I’d rather not been expecting a vacation.
The voice said “The king of the stars waits within the queen of heaven”. I saw this island in my dream, and I identified Queen Mary’s Peak. But am I wrong?
In the home where I’ve been allowed to stay, I’ve found many books and drawings referencing Queen Mary’s Peak. Most are historical or geological in nature, but I’ve found at least two that appear to be religious texts. What English passages there are in the book talk of a great and angry spirit that lives within the volcano. Fairly standard folklore and mythology, but it piqued my interest. I’ll read more deeply into the matter.
Day 15 (morning):
Finally, last night, I had contact.
It was the most vivid dream yet. I found myself lying in the bed on the island, and for a moment I thought that I’d been roused from my sleep, until the voice spoke to me. I couldn’t follow what it said; it sound more like a series of bass notes on a colossal amplifier. I followed the sound outside. The sky had turned completely red, and as the voice came to me again, I could tell clearly that it was coming from the volcano.
I awoke find myself standing in the doorway of the house, looking at the sun rising across the ocean. I believe it was the first time I’ve ever sleepwalked.
Day 15 (evening):
After the dream last night, I had to go the volcano today. I hiked up the shortest face of Queen Mary’s Peak that I could reach. I was going to set up camp at the edge and study for the day, but I was there only a few minutes when something overcame me. Looking down into the dark, smoking depths of the mountain, a dark chill climbed my spine despite the heat rolling from the mouth. Did I actually hear the voice, or was my dream last night so vivid that I simply relived it?
If I dreamt last night, I don’t remember doing it. But I awoke outdoors again, surrounded by scrawlings in the dirt. I had dirt on my hands and under my nails.
It took hours, but I finally found meaning in what I wrote. The passage was repeated over and over again in the holy book. It took a little cross-referencing, but it said “The king of the stars waits within the queen of heaven”. Somehow, I knew it even before I finished.
I went back to the volcano today, as if compelled. I couldn’t get it out of my mind; no matter which way I turned on the island, I could see it. When I closed my eyes, I could see it. At the precipice, I could hear the voice again, nearly audible this time. What does it want? How am I supposed to know?
I must have woken several times during the night. I remember climbing the face of the mountain several times, each time finding myself back at the base just as I was sure I’d gotten to the top. One moment I thought I was awake and then found myself back in my bed, covered in sweat and dirt. The sky never seems to stay one color for very long. For a time I forgot what color it was supposed to be. Finally, the sun is rising; I’m at last sure that I’m awake.
I write days now only as a formality; I can’t remember sleeping recently, though I frequently find myself laying in my bed as if I’d just spent a full night there. I can only gauge how much time has passed by phase of the sun and moon, and they seem to move without any sense of chronology, flying across the sky one moment, frozen in place the next. I’ve woken in my bed five times now; I suppose that means five days have passed.
The voice torments me constantly now. It mostly speaks in a language I can’t understand, possibly the same language I wrote on the ground earlier, the sound so loud it rattles dishes in cabinets. I know where it’s coming from; I can’t even look at the mountain now. It only speaks one phrase in English, and always when I least expect it.
I’ve been awake for more than two days now, or I feel like I have anyway. It seems like a better gauge of how much time has passed. Whenever I find myself in the bed, I don’t let myself sleep- I have to stay awake, always moving. Inevitably, I find myself moving toward the mountain. It compels me, not like a moth to flame, but more like iron to a magnet.
I can fight it no longer; my strength is gone. The voice encompasses me like a coffin. I’m going to the mountain. Even in admitting it to myself, the roar seems to laugh at me. It knows it has won. Today, I will meet the king of the stars within the queen of heaven.
The volcano is screaming, like the world itself is crying in the pains of labor. I can feel something down there, as sure I can see the sun in the red sky above me. I can understand it now. I know what it wants. It only wants to be freed. It wants to be born to this world, and I am to be its midwife. I can delay no longer; it waits.
Friday, October 7, 2011
Sunday, October 2, 2011
Have I mentioned how much I love Halloween? Because I do. I love pretty much everything about it. Especially Halloween parties. I never went to a Halloween party quite this interesting, but maybe I ought to be glad for that.
Aaron Matthew Smith- October 2nd, 2011
“How did I let you talk me into this?” I said.
“Will you calm down? It’ll be fine. How are my wings?” Dave turned to show me his bare back.
“They’re crooked. Here.” I tilted the plastic bat wings until they were straight, smearing some of the red paint on his bare back in the process. “I don’t know why you didn’t wear a shirt. You look like a total jackass.”
“Because it’s the only way this costume would work!” He snapped as we approached the house.
“’The Devil’ isn’t really a complicated costume, Dave.”
Dave adjusted his plastic horns for the hundredth time. “Shut up. It’s part of my plan. Angie’s coming dressed as an angel.” He dug into the pocket of his black Dickies and pulled out a crumpled flier. It read, ‘Sigma Gam Halloween Bash!’ and in smaller letters at the bottom, ‘Private Party!’
“How did you get that?” I asked.
“Found it,” Dave said. It was then that I noticed the shoe print on the flier.
“And you’re going to just walk in, find Angie…”
“And then use the old devilish charm!” He waggled his eyebrows at me.
“Uh huh. And it seemed like a good idea to bring a guy as your date?”
“….well, yeah! Mark, you’re my wing man! Plus, think of all the hot girls in skimpy Halloween costumes that’ll be at this party; I’m doing you a favor.” He glanced at my costume. “And by the looks of it, you can use all the help you can get.”
I straightened my bolo tie and tugged at the fake beard. “This was as good as I could do on short notice, ok? And how often do you find a white suit that fits at Goodwill?”
“It’s just… Colonel Sanders wasn’t known for his ability to pick up chicks.”
“Dude, pick up chicks was all he did!” We both snickered.
“Okay, okay. Game time,” Dave said. He bypassed the sidewalk and cut across the yard, heading up the driveway to the little back yard.
“We’re not going inside?” I asked.
“The party’s always out back.”
He was right- and he was also going to have a hard time finding Angie. The backyard was shoulder to shoulder people in costume, and I counted among the crowd at least four angels. Little flickering tiki torches gave the crowded scene a warm orange glow.
When I turned around, Dave was no where to be seen.
Great. We’re at this party less than a minute and Dave vanishes. You’re my wing man, Mark! Yeah right. I glanced around, trying to see if I could find a red guy chatting up any of the angels, but the crowd was too thick. Somebody near me was smoking something foul-smelling, and I briefly wondered if I could be an unwitting accessory to something just by being here.
Well, we rode together, so I guess I’m stuck, I thought. Might as well try to have a good time. I nudged through the crowd to a long table at the edge of the patio topped with a punch bowl the size of a small swimming pool.
“Hi!” Someone squeaked, and I dropped the wax paper cup into the red liquid. I turned to see a short girl wearing a blouse cut off jut below her breasts and parachute pants, her silky blonde hair pulled back in a ponytail. She giggled as I attempted to fish the cup out of the punch bowl with a spoon.
“Hi,” I ventured, dropping the soggy cup onto the concrete.
“I don’t think we’ve met,” she said, a broad smile crossing her round face. “I’m Jeanie.”
“Jeanie?... oh, genie. Ha.”
Jeanie cocked her head at me.
“Uh, I’m Mark.”
“Hi Mark. You here with someone?” The bracelets on her wrists jangled as she reached for a paper cup.
“Just a friend,” I said vaguely. I filled both our cups.
“That’s cool,” Jeanie said. She sipped her drink. “So hey, I like your costume. Yosemite Sam? Cool.”
I was going to correct her, but stopped myself. “Thanks.” I took a sip of my drink- and nearly spit it into Jeanie’s face. The red, foamy punch seared my throat going down, followed by a hot wind that roared through my sinuses and brought immediate tears to my eyes. I hacked and coughed into my beard.
Jeanie grinned that huge grin. “You like the punch? It’s Sister Special Brew, only Sigma Gams know the secret recipe.”
I suddenly suspected that the woman who invented toilet bowl cleaner was a Sigma Gam. I forced my first mouthful to stay down with an effort of will and choked, “It certainly is unique.”
“You’re a blast, Mark. Come on!” Jeanie said, grabbing my hand. “I want to introduce you to my sisters!” She dragged me away from the table and into the crowd, giving me an opportunity to drop my cup onto some guy’s shoes. I doubted he noticed.
We stopped in front of a girl dressed in a green gown the approximate size of a dinner napkin. Her hair was dyed a slightly darker shade of green, and I might or might not have noticed copious amounts of body glitter on her chest and shoulders.
“Hey Abby! This is Mark.”
“Hey Jeanie! Hey Mark, awesome costume. Pecos Bill? Sweet.”
“Abby’s a fairy,” Jeanie explained.
“Whose godmother are you?” I said. Abby threw her head back and laughed for about twenty solid seconds.
“Where’d you get him, Jeanie? He’s great!”
Over the course of the nest half hour I was introduced to a sexy witch, a sexy ghost, a sexy vampire and two sexy kittens. I had just decided to change my major to ‘female Halloween costume designer’ when someone grabbed my unoccupied hand.
“Mark!” Dave’s frantic voice caught my attention. I turned to look and jumped back; half the red paint had been smeared off of his chest, and what was left was streaking down him.
“What happened to you?” I asked.
“Got punch thrown on me,” he said.
“Look Mark, we’ve got to go. Now.”
“Now!? But I’m having a good time,” I argued, and I was. Jeanie must have noticed that I stopped being so draggable, because she turned back to us.
“Oh hey. Are you a friend of Mark’s?” She asked Dave.
“Yeah,” Dave smiled, but the mask of seriousness fell back into place when he looked back at me. “Something is seriously wrong here.”
“Oh what, just because your angel shot you down?”
“Which angel?” Jeanie asked, but she needn’t have. Just then a woman wearing a white bedsheet wrapped around her body shoved through the crowd, stopping when she found the three of us.
“There you are!” Angie pointed at Dave, and Dave withered under her gaze. “I thought I told you to get out of here!” Angie put both hands on her hips, and for the first time I noticed the huge costume wings folded against her back.
“No no, we’re going! Really!” Mark whimpered. The crowd had begun to part around us. I suddenly felt very, very conspicuous.
“Is this the friend you came with?” Jeanie whispered to me.
“He’s not a great friend. Not even a good friend. Hardly a friend at all, really. More of an acquaintance.”
“These two weren’t invited, Jeanie.” Angie’s words were as cold and sharp as an icicle knife, and her wings moved.
No, they didn’t move exactly. The unfolded a little bit, shimmering white feathers catching the flickering tiki torch light.
Wow, that’s an impressive costume, I thought, an instant before hard, stupefying reality hit me like a sledgehammer.
“You don’t just crash a Sigma Gam party, Dave,” Angie continued. “We’re the oldest TSS on campus! It’s an invitation only event!”
“TSS?” I whispered to Jeanie.
She looked at me as if I’d just asked her what color the sky was. “Traditional Supernatural Sorority. Duh.”
Angie sighed, ignoring mine and Jeanie’s conversation altogether, her eyes locked onto the quivering shirtless jackass covered in smeared red paint. “I guess I’ll have to be the bouncer tonight.” I looked around and noticed that the crowd had suddenly retreated to a safe distance; Angie’s wings opened to their full length, radiant white light emanating from her outstretched feathers like heat from a radiator. “Prepare to get bounced, boys.”
The world was suddenly upside down, and I watched as the party began to fly farther and farther away. Dave’s screaming voice sounded hollow and tinny as sky and ground flashed alternately in front of my vision. For a brief instant the world stopped spinning, and I was treated to a breathtaking view of the clear, starry night sky.
And then I looked down, and saw campus two hundred feet below me.
The dorm quad was streaking up at me faster than I could scream. Terror yanked the breath from my lungs. I wanted to close my eyes but I couldn’t look away as the unforgiving ground rushed to meet me.
I expected everything to go black all of a sudden, followed by either pearly gates or a pit of fire (I figure I’ve got about a fifty-fifty shot either way). Instead the lawn in front of my dorm gave way like I’d landed on a huge trampoline, flinging me unceremoniously back into the air. I bounced twice more before landing flat on my back on the grass, and what air I’d managed to suck back into my lungs was knocked right back out.
I laid there for a few moments when I heard a groan next to me. Dave rolled over onto his back, grass clippings and a stray cigarette stuck to the paint on his chest.
I wanted to get up and kick his ass, but I had aches and pains in places I didn’t even know could ache or pain. Instead I said,
“…Traditional Supernatural Sorority?”
“I swear man, I had no idea.”
“You jerk,” I gasped, finally struggling to my feet. “I was having a good time, too. I wish I’d gotten Jeanie’s number.” I stuck my hand into the pocket of my suit to get my dorm key, but my fingers found a little folded square of paper there.
I unfolded it. It read:
576-783-3398 You have two wishes left. ;) ~Jeanie.