Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Category

Things Left Mostly Unsaid (06)

§06 — As always, she’d been exhaustingly elliptical. It seemed as if she never approached a point unless to curve about it. Her extreme circuitousness drew out the interrogator in him, which felt too much like work.
“What are you trying to say?” he asked wearily.
“‘Trying’ suggests failing,” she replied, immediately, with a laugh.
“What are you saying, then?”
“That’s better, but now redundant.”

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February 6, 2020admin 7 Comments »

Things Left Mostly Unsaid (05)

§05 — The interrogation would undoubtedly be difficult to navigate. There wasn’t any kind of sensible story to offer up. Some impure version of nothing was the only message available. That would seem odd. They’d want something.
He paced back and forth agitatedly, softly tortured by anticipation. “What if they ask about it directly?”
“They won’t.”
“But if they do?”
“Say as little as possible. Avoid lying, though, if you can. Lies are vulnerabilities. They tend to come apart under pressure. They release information when they break.” She paused a moment before continuing. “They can’t force you to talk.”

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February 5, 2020admin 1 Comment »

Things Left Mostly Unsaid (02)

§02 — It was too self-evident for words. Even this shouldn’t have required utterance. The redundancy echoed emptily through it. It added and then multiplied nothing. Nevertheless, it had crept into the conversation. Now he snapped at the intrusion.
“That goes without saying.”
“Yes, it has,” she said. “That’s its way.”
Her philosophical perversity struck him as glib and infuriating. “How can you even think that, let alone say it?” he demanded.
“Isn’t it obvious?”
“Of course it is,” he said. “It’s far too obvious. That’s the whole point.”
“So drop it. How difficult is that?”
He made an animal noise signaling rage mastered by humor. She laughed at it politely.
“You let it get to you too much,” she continued. “Why does it matter?”
“What kind of question is that?”
“You don’t like it?”
“Whether I like it or not isn’t the issue.”
“It wouldn’t be, if you cared less about it.”
“So it’s my fault now?”
The deflation was jolting. She could only laugh again, shaking her head. The way he fed it – while at the same time lamenting its prominence – was an extraordinary thing to see.
“You have to let it go,” she said, as soothingly as possible. “It’s not just going to get up and leave, while you’re worrying at it.”
“What if it has to be dealt with?”
“That’s your guess?”
“Regardless,” he insisted.
“It’s not asking anything of me.”
“Not as far as you can tell.”
‘Tell’ was a word, she now realized, that she’d never listened to enough. Ancient sorceries hummed within it. “I can’t tell,” she tried, experimentally. “It’s hard to tell.” What might be telling?
“Are you even listening?” he wondered.
“I’m trying to.” She shook her head again, as if to clear it. “There’s a lot going on.”
“It only seems like that.”
“No,” she said. “It doesn’t. It seems as little as possible. Still though …”
“Still what?” he asked.
“Catching glimpses, whispers – there are chances.”
“‘Chances’ – Christ,” he said, without attempting to conceal his disgust. “That’s what you call them.”
“You’d prefer ‘curses’,” she knew, because they’d been there before. “But that’s unbalanced.”
“You can’t balance this.” It had always been his main point. “There’s no leverage.”
“Brains are sheer leverage.”
“They’re side-eddies.”
“That too,” she accepted. “But balancing is the only thing they do.”
“Or try to do.”
“That was built-in.” Built-in to the statement, she had meant, not the organ, though it worked equally either way. Over time it cancelled out. To be poised out at an edge was still to be poised. It wasn’t a matter of foundations, but of traffic.
“Okay, that’s enough,” he thought aloud, and it was.

February 2, 2020admin 2 Comments »

Things Left Mostly Unsaid (01)

[These things are being posted opportunistically in no particular order]

§01 — The suggestion was peculiar. It raised many questions.
“So what do you think?”
“Nothing really,” he said, too quickly. That wouldn’t do, he realized. “Not much really,” he added, as a substitute. Then a query, for deflection: “What sort of thing?”
“What sort of thing are you thinking?” she repeated, with a laugh. “I’m supposed to know that?”
He’d forgotten what his question had meant. “Anyway, I’d rather not think about it,” he said. “Why dwell on such things?”
“So what – then – instead?” she asked.
“Does there have to be something?”
“Doesn’t there?”
“I suppose,” he admitted, obviously very far from thrilled about it. “Nothingness wouldn’t take enough time.”
He’d reached the crux. Duration had to be sponged-up somehow. Still, the proposition was questionable.
“Do you want to talk about it?” she asked, laughing again. The joke, if such it was, he found obscure.
“Is there any choice?” he grumbled. His own question was misleading, he knew at once. It wasn’t necessary to talk, at least not out loud, which was the thing. Yet, to keep from talking required a continual renewal. It involved effort. “It’s why people want to die,” he mused aloud. “It’s the only way to be quiet without trying.” The morbidity exceeded anything he would have wanted to say. “Always words,” he said. “They go too far.”
“Not always,” she countered. “Often, though, admittedly,” she added. “This time, certainly.”

February 1, 2020admin 3 Comments »

Things Left Mostly Unsaid (00)

This series needs an introduction, but there isn’t one yet.

§00 — He stared grimly at the ‘object’ – if that’s what it was. Some would call it one, of course, though without much conviction. There was an illusory unreality to it.
“It means nothing to me,” he said. “I don’t recognize it at all.”
“Are you sure?”
“For sure, I’m sure,” he insisted. “It’s not the sort of thing you’d forget.”
“I’d have thought it was exactly that sort of thing.”

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January 28, 2020admin 3 Comments »

Wallypede Girl

Words can be an infected wound. Things are read that cannot be unread. They can injure, and fester.
For me, such words were delivered by a story, called Wallypede Girl. The title alone sufficed to betray its radically abominable character. It was a tale scraped from the filthiest sewers of Hell. You don’t need to know more than that. Believe me, really, you don’t. Thank all that is holy if you are spared. I pray you will not err as I have.

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November 22, 2019admin 13 Comments »


Katy was sleeping better. The dark patches beneath her eyes were disappearing. She even smiled now, occasionally. “I don’t mind the bad dreams about mermaids anymore,” she said.
“That’s good, why?”
“Daddy told me nightmares were the world’s only real treasure.”
“He said that?”
“Lots of times,” Katy said.
“He shouldn’t have. Those thoughts are unhealthy. They’re why he has had to spend so much time in hospital.”

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November 13, 2019admin 3 Comments »


§00 — Stuart Thorndike had never been a ‘morning person’. This basic trait, however, was only poor preparation for what now befell him. He woke from what hazily seemed to have been torments without limit. Memory would have been unbearable. He clawed his way out of the clammy sheets.
“My throat,” he gasped.
Cecily, his wife, looked haggard and ill-tempered. The sympathy that had still dominated the day before was wearing thin. Evidently she had been over-stretched.
“You were screaming,” she said. “It’s the same as before – perhaps worse. You were screaming as if possessed, for most of the night. It was horrible, again.”
“Bad dreams,” he ventured, unimaginatively.
“At least,” she snapped. “You should see someone. I’m serious. This can’t go on.”

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November 11, 2019admin 8 Comments »

Bloody Mary

§00 — It required only a mirror. Initially, at least, it seemed like that, although it turned out there was more.
She had been known as ‘Hell Mary’ at times. There were many other names.

§01 — The ritual varied, but was never complicated. Its simplicity was essential. In that lay the danger, supposedly. The invocation could be realized almost by accident. It might begin as nothing more than a joke, or a dare. A disastrous non-seriousness is the core of the urban legend. The proximal agents, scarcely older than children, typically, are playing about with something they don’t understand. The Hell Prank is archetypal. Deadly foolishness, or worse, is not difficult to imagine, if only in broad outline. Teenage kids do it best. They’re trying to prove something, and then do, by mistake. Movie viewers like to watch them damn themselves. With younger children it’s more horrible.

§02 — Start at the exoteric level, at least in appearance. The point isn’t to make something happen, but rather the opposite. You are supposed to avoid the ritual, out of fear. It’s what might have happened, had you not been so chicken, that stokes the thrill. The dark potential preserves itself this way. It intimidates against disproof. This is where the legend and the real story part ways. They remain, nevertheless, confusingly entangled. Ironic twists thicken the obscurity. The legend itself has a real story. Actuality belongs only to the legend.

§03 — Divergence goes further than this. The legend is a central part of the real story. It’s the legend, alone, that protects Bloody Mary from examination. The ritual is structured as a challenge. An examination that is declined leaves its object, in principle, examinable. This is the ontological payload. Do you want to see what’s in this box? It could be something too horrific to bear.

§04 — Although the story is archetypal, there’s always a first time. Vanessa Sheridan had never heard it before. She’d never heard anything at all like it before. It thrilled and appalled her in equal measure. The idea split time in two. To go back was impossible. Innocence was Bloody Mary still unthought. Experience opened a new universe.

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October 31, 2019admin 20 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Fiction , Horror

Quote note (#321)

Heinlein’s dark arts:

Gulf is available free (and legally) online now, so if you’re not familiar with it, here you go. You don’t have to read it to get the rest of this post, but I suggest you do. There are enough new, intriguing ideas in this brief novella to keep you thinking about it for a long time: an artificial, highly compressed, efficient and logical language (“Speed-talk”); a secret society of “Supermen” working behind the scenes to discover and regulate major scientific and technological discoveries; bar codes (in 1949!); but what I note here is focus, mental attitude, and what are now called “Dark Triad” traits and their usefulness in getting things done, rather than emoting and “virtue signaling.”

January 8, 2017admin 8 Comments »