Behold the Begrudger

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Photo credit: Tim Abbott

I envy the dark souls who beg for time,

The ones who spend them stoned out of their goddamned minds

Too beaten and bloody to face the next round of rapid purgatory.

 

I envy the saints who have no regrets.

They wave beautiful gifts of glory with eyes and mouths sewn blissfully shut,

Disoriented by the very light from which they claim liberation.

 

I envy the hopefuls who always stride forward,

Finding ambition amidst hordes of cynical fiends.

They’ll never descend.

 

I envy the boy who once had all the time in the world

A ghost of the past,

His light violently extinguished by the hand of the ones he loved.

 

I envy the miscreants who ask for forgiveness,

Scarring their knees on icy daggers as remorse consumes them.

The slain monster lays broken in its teardrop prison.

 

Though I envy not their revelation or rescue, their happiness or faith

But their willingness to live

Despite the spirit they lost mercilessly clawing for a way out.

 

I envy volition,

The gilded steps to tranquility,

For desire I have none.

Ostriches

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Photo Credit: Esra Erben

The king wears a crown like no other;

Gaudy ornaments conceal a cranium of illusion and treachery.

 

He points to the left, executing the peaceful lamb.

Signalling to the right, he leads his people into war.

 

But they see and hear nothing,

For their heads are buried in the sand

With the lifeless others who dared defy the chosen one.

 

A life without purpose, without freedom and dreams,

Welcome to the land of nightmares.

Code Blue

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Photo credit: Jacirema Ferreira

Gone are the days of courteous suits and well-mannered sprouts.

The last drop of decency rests at the bottom of a bottle,

A shallow globe of love-drunk nobodies.

 

As the surviving guardians disappear

In comatose clouds of abandonment,

We hide beneath damp cloths.

 

Chivalry is dead.

Every Day Is Christmas

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Photo credit: Andreas Sautner

Gray boxes are unwrapped amid

A hapless audience of frozen machines.

As we’re lost in avalanches of veiled dysphoria,

Powder snow stains steely sidewalks red.

 

The paparazzi flash their black flowers,

So we sport a grin and sit up straight.

It’s what we’re bred for – all we know.

But behind pink, plastic walls rests a frenzied terror.

 

You’ll read about it tomorrow, I’m sure.

Fill the Mold

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Photo Credit: A.M.Martens
Nobody visits Grandma anymore. Some say a life without the heavenly aroma of freshly baked cinnamon cookies on a chilly Christmas morning just isn’t worth living; in the brick wall of reality, Grandma was their keystone. That is, until she brought in the ceramic head.

“If you listen close, you’ll hear it, too,” she whispered, waiting a few seconds before adding: “You hear its beautiful song?” But it was always a simple no from me. No, I did not hear the statue’s funny quips about why an apple is dangerous, nor did it explain its opinion on healthcare. “Just listen, Martin! It’s all you need to do! Listen!”

“Maybe you should ask Greta,” I shoot, grinning at the thought of Grandma bugging my older sister with such nonsense. “You know she’s Wiccan?” As if that was some clarification.

The statue stared at me from its post on the mantle, largely unfinished. She claimed she couldn’t find the right color for them, thus she left them blank. Many times, I found myself staring into the pearl pits for what seemed like hours, thinking of the conversations we would have if it could speak.

Grandma pulled me in closer, my nose nearly pressed into hers. She didn’t blink. “Abadii tells me of the things you do behind the door, Martin. Tell me you’re not becoming one of them. Are you listening?” She broke away, her words turning to tiny whispers as she paced around the room. Apparently, she gave the head a name.

“Becoming what, Grandma?” Despite my trying to appear unfazed, the nervous quiver to my voice betrayed me. She never gave me a straight answer, always a concerned eyebrow and a painful groan.

The statue was only on the mantle for a day before my dad had to call an ambulance. “I don’t know what the fuck is happening, Cheryl, but you need to come home – now,” I heard him yell over the phone to Mom. Then to me: “What did she do after you called for me to come get you?”

“Can’t remember,” I replied, a lie. There was no forgetting the moment Abadii opened its eyes and whispered the command, healing my shattered soul.

The ceramic head still rests on the mantle where Grandma put it, though it now casts its glares behind crimson eyes; blood-spattered lips prepare its dark decrees. And I listen. For the first time, I finally listen, and its song is beautiful.

Shallow

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Photo credit: Javier

Time trickles away,

Moments merely whispers.

Weeks turn to months and suddenly I forget

What it’s like to be human.

 

I no longer recall the taste of her flesh.

The look on her face

When I told her she wasn’t the one

Is as familiar to me as a stopwatch is to a sequoia.

 

But not a second goes by

In this wretched existence

That I don’t remember

The sound of her shovel packing my grave.

Chasing Shadows, Ch. 4

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I push, but it pushes back harder. Tears chap my face as I run through the jungle, pursued by my demons. I hurriedly dash over frozen leaves and snow piles, barreling over cracked boulders and old stumps. The sense of security I had days prior is reduced to an itching feeling of loneliness and regret. Voices that are not my own quarrel in my head; my mind is a verbal battlefield.

Slow down, baby. You don’t need to run anymore.

My heart thumps in my chest, begging for me to stop. With every step, I wish I am spotted by a Tracker or Ranger fleet – anything to end this convoluted race. I can’t help but think of what happened to the general and the other Renegades, what I did to them. It was unconscionable, savagery. I am a monster.

What is unconscionable is the total lack of Fangclush imperials. Bobby and I encountered dozens just in our short journey to this so-called forgotten realm. “Beyond the Courtshyn Lake, the Sentinel’s blood runs thin,” Aaron told us. If only I could concentrate this telekinetic monstrosity lurking within me toward that man’s scarred forehead – I would rip him to shreds, or do whatever it is that I do. The Renegades mentioned I am called the Nuclear Bitch by the soldiers out of Fort Legacy. Sounds kinky.

It does not take me long to clear the forest, and I’m back at the old field, our safe haven. I return to the old shack’s remains. It was the first thing we saw that reminded us of home. And in a world rife with insanity and violence, we took advantage of what we had.

Even though it feels as though I was running for hours, the amber stain in the sky informs me I only ran a thousand yards or so. In the horizon, above the tree line, I make out the tallest tower at Fort Legacy. The fort was known for its intimidating, barbed peaks.

Something comes back to me as clear as the sparkling ripples dancing upon Courtshyn Lake.

#

“Tell me something…” The lieutenant never seemed tenser. A man in his position should have been overcome with glee, having captured the most wanted criminal in the realm, yet his lips were pursed and his brow pulled together.

A slight beeping comes from a machine behind me. I trace green and yellow cords in the veins in my arm. Mirrors lined the room from wall-to-wall. “What was that?”

“Even in death, you refuse to cooperate.” He chuckled, annoyed. “Do you even know where you are, Lange?”

I mumbled, “Legacy.”

“What’s that?”

“You heard me, dammit.” I spit in his face and writhe against my restraints.

He flashed a look at a monitor and back to the notebook in his hands. “And do you know why you’re here? Let me –”

“I’m here because I killed her. She was dead before she could call her porcelain goons.”

His face softened. “You Disgraced will never learn what it is to be civilized.” Something inside of him cracked. “Every single one of you sits with your hands at your crotch, chiming your immortality, while everybody else suffers. And you get offended when we start speaking up. You call yourselves the peaceful ones, ha!” He readied a black syringe, his hands trembling.

“And I’d do it all over again,” I retorted. “That bitch killed my family, so it was only fitting that she suffer a similar fate. You humans reproduce like filthy rabbits anyhow. I’m sure you had three other cows loaded the instant her bloody head hit the floor.”

“That’s where you’re wrong, Lange.” He propped me back and inserted the syringe. “She wasn’t just human. Sheridyn was a plesmorph – just like you.”

“Lying doesn’t suit you, Lieutenant.”

“Thankfully, Sheridyn provided us with enough information into the special breed, not enough to produce a hard set defense against it, mind you. But give us time. You won’t be a threat for much longer, and then the war will be over. The pathetic rebels will drop to their knees as we humans take back the Earth.”

They already had the Earth; it was the other two realms to which he was referring – and they’d never have those. But I don’t correct him. The injection made my eyes heavy, my chest dropping. Though I tried to stay strong, I whimper. My blood turned to tar, my mind spinning. “It’ll never be enough,” was all I could muster. The humans wouldn’t stop until they drown the realms in their paranoia and terror.

The lieutenant left the room and the lights dimmed. Another man’s voice appeared on a speaker above. “This begins the second session. Tell me what you know of the Krysolux and its power.”

It was what gave the Disgraced their luster, their life force, but I did not comply with their requests. I couldn’t.

#

The truth is hard to swallow: there are parts of my memory that are missing. The memories arrange themselves in a scattered jigsaw puzzle, all solid black with no side pieces. Each one leaves me more lost than before.

Fall into slumber. Return to Elymia, Sophia.

I sprint toward the only place I know will have answers.

Come home.

I abandon the safe haven and inch closer to a forgotten artery of the Fangclush – I return to Legacy.