Short Story: Tranquil Sonata

I breathed the fresh air in welcoming the late night dew. My sandals clacked with every step. The multitude of keys hanging from my metal ring continued to clang together. A loud click sounded off as I unlocked the doors. The only sound to fill the night echoed with a light crash. I entered the driver’s seat and fell into the chilled leather interior. My right hand rested against the gear shift for a second checking the well-lit map that surrounded it. Finally, I moved my right hand pushing the keys into the ignition hole and turning the key in the opposite direction.

A loud hiss stuttered for mere moments before going steady. The engine’s roar chirped in excitement. I pressed one of my free left fingers down onto the labeled buttons. The power windows moved downward with a flat swiping sound. The quickened air flowed through the open window. My right hand turned the stereo knob causing the bass to thump against my ears. The foundation for which I sat shook violently. The rustling of my clothing accelerated howling into the darkened night. The winds picked up brushing through my hair. My foot pressed to the acceleration gaining speed by the second.

Suddenly, my mind left this plane of existence falling into a trance. A white outline traveled through the window blurring my visage. The specter shadowed the fog consuming my every breath. I sucked in dampened vapor inviting the ghost in without realization. This apparition flooded into my mouth taking hold of all the vital organs. The thrash of this phantom made me writhe in pain, yet my hands never left the steering wheel. My driving remained steadfast anticipating every twist and turn.

The placid state brought absolute euphoria; wind continued to brush against my flesh with a relaxed touch. Nothing seemed to change. The flashing lights in front of me slowed considerably. I beeped my horn in vain trying to quicken the pace. My hand repeatedly thumped into the soft center of the steering wheel. The slow car ahead continued to move like a turtle never picking up speed. “Come on asshole; the speed limit is 55! That is 35 at best. What kind of moron goes 20 miles under the speed limit! This is starting to piss me off…” I felt the warmth swelling throughout my veins. The vibrant silver shining outside my car growled in frustration. The high beams dissipated without command shedding all light. Overwhelming anger possessed me awakening the specter within.

Everything I saw from this point forward lacked any sense of color. The specter willed my limbs forward with or without my permission. My body moved without control. My foot pressed the pedal into the floor ramming into the car ahead. Thud! The speed of this silver beast never relented pushing forward regardless of any obstacle. Nothing restricted the specter’s descent into madness. The specter’s consumption of negative emotion left my skin in a pallid state. The apparition’s ranting and raving became more pronounced in a language never uttered by humankind. My car shifted forms and resembled a vast assemblage of silver lightning streaks. Thunder roared from the engine flowing through the exhaust pipes. The steam cascaded from the heavens suffocating my human vessel.

The black fog of the exhaust continued to spread across shattered pavement. The dented frame in front of me picked up speed hoping for an escape. Soon, the black fog enveloped both cars obscuring the driver’s vision. The specter’s undying hatred never faded. A loud thud crashed into the wheels ahead. The sucking sound of polluted water cut off the culprit’s escape route. Bang! The almost motionless silver streaks kept bouncing forward into the car with an eerie thud.

My vision blurred only noticing the car frame that rolled from the blackened fog. The other driver vanished into oblivion. The rest of the car got chewed to pieces by the elongated fangs protruding from my car. The spikes extending from the rolled rubber chattered endlessly. The chattering ticked incessantly like a clicking clock hand. The fog disappeared in a split second revealing my car’s previous form again.

I regained control of extremities balling my fist repeatedly to be sure. I decided that I must depart before the specter took the sanctity of my mind. My foot slammed on the brakes halting the car. The rubber screeched in defiance. The specter disallowed my actions. The locks clicked down but not of my choosing. I removed my foot from the pedal not allowing it to go any further; however, they pressed themselves down anyway. The horrid shrieks never waned. Without warning, black fog masked the car as its deformed state took hold once more.

My eyes moved between conscious and subconscious thoughts. The shadows from my car ricocheted in several different directions; as the maddening mist danced around my body. My car growled thunderously accelerating at unseen speeds. Another thump ignited the unsuspecting bicyclist ahead. Her flesh imploded within itself hanging from the rear view mirrors. My body started to decay with my flesh rotting from the molten touch. The flames doused my skin, yet my soul remained intact.

The nameless Specter would take my identity and make it its own. Faint traces of my former self bellowed in agony. The assemblage of silver streaks bounced about; the ramming, struck car after car aside. Mass hysteria ensued. Chaos reigned supreme throughout the highway. Drivers started to swerve uncontrollably. The panic crept into their soul; as the mass of black fog engulfed the metallic silver frames shielding their flesh. Bodies collided against burnt rubber that seared into their skin. Spiked wheels tore flesh asunder cutting through bone with relative ease. The specter’s limitless rage caused the blurred car to barrel through a police barricade. Sirens rang constantly. The dust cloud of explosions began to build. Each cloud of dust touched together increasing the ferocity.

I continued to lose my sanity within this ghoulish vessel. The specter’s skeletal embrace clawed against my skin. The claw marks etched deep. Enormous piles of blood flowed freely from the claw marks leaking from the crevice in the driver’s door. My ace in the hole unveiled itself. I resorted to radical measures that would never transpire under the guise of normalcy. A singular action would bombard this demonical specter with hell’s hottest flames. I willed the very essence of my existence upward. I projected my soul from the rotting corpse. The phantasm would never live without a host to feed its insatiable passion.

The silver paint melted from the sides of the rusted body frame. My body disintegrated departing for the afterlife. The specter recoiled from my body. Now, the specter had been trapped in this rusted heap of metal. The black fog intensified clasping onto the fiendish poltergeist. The leather seats rose upwards buzzing disapprovingly. My keys jangled angrily piercing the wicked spirit.

The specter thrashed in fear trying to slither away. A ghastly look came across the ghost’s face. The engine revved with every ounce of acceleration. Winds flew through the windows imploding into the black fog. My Swedish silver car from 2001 gained a soul.

The turbocharger powered it forward causing it to crash headfirst into a church resting on the side of the interstate. The specter desperately tried to escape, but every window closed all at once. The locks shut tightly. The crevices within the car closed. Even the exhaust pipes corroded preventing no escape. The holy energy of the church enveloped this demonical specter who cried out in terror. This spirit’s soulless demeanor twisted and contorted until fading to nothingness.

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Short Story: Endless Cycle

((I based this writing on nightmares, it is part nightmare, part short story.))

I press my legs off the ground with every step. Every time, I take a step forward the door moves further and further away. This door moves forward with a mind of its own. I never reach the door no matter how far I venture. The door moves backward the closer I get. My vision starts to close up, and the landscape cuts in half. The vibrant color that shines from the sun turns dim. My once illuminating blue eyes remain dulled by this sensation. I decide to move in the opposite direction away from the door. If I cannot open the door, I must confound it. I never imagined I would enter a battle of intellect with an inanimate object. I wonder if I am simply in a surreal dream.

A roar of frustration escapes my lips. I find this pathway maddening! The twists and turns keep distorting the trail ahead. The cold no longer numbs my skin. The heat no longer provides warmth. The acrid smell of dust nearly suffocates me for a split second. I touch the white walls of nothingness. These walls push against me closing in. They have no texture, no actual trace of existence. The hollow, empty walls seem like a creation of imagination.

Still, the door keeps shadowing me. This door attaches to my shadow like an apparition of my past. My head throbs every time the door touches me. The cold wood sends protruding bumps up the flesh of my arm. The particles in my skin cause my hair to stand erect. The protruding bumps on my arm vanish instantaneously. I cannot take it any longer; I turn and force my boot through the door. The pieces of wood shatter on impact and hang from the sides of my boot.

Suddenly, I feel pain in the pit of my stomach tearing away at me. Soreness consumes my body bringing a surge of pain to every aching joint. My eyes feel a dry agony from the constant release of pain. An emotional discharge pounds through my chest on and off. An itch in my throat brings incredible affliction. The stuffiness in my nose resembles the stuffiness of the fog overtaking my surroundings.

I behold mist that constantly obscures my vision as it drowns out the color. Everything darkens and the bright sun diminishes. I abhor this desolate feeling that leaves me paralyzed. My reflexes pause; as, the floor beneath my feet slowly dissolves. The blackened floor roughly peels away at my skin. Traces of my errant flesh spread across the floor. That sandpaper gnaws at me causing my reflexes to reawaken. My feet push off the ground and levitate into the empty blackness.

An eclipse floods the light in the darkness. I wonder if this eclipse exists. No…the sun has no eclipse in reality; the teary mist clogs my sight. This fog repeatedly causes a burning salt to drip over my face. The burning grows bitterer by the second. My fingers become corroded from the flame’s fiery essence. The decay eats away at my insides. That feeling in the pit of my stomach expands. My confusion steadfastly engulfs me like a raging tsunami. My stream of consciousness makes little sense.

The only option left is to run. I am tired of facing this. My bare feet press against the cool concrete ignoring the cold. I have no need to cough. I let my nostrils absorb all of the dust this time. My sense of smell is quickly fading. I stampede through the infrastructure yearning for an escape. Loud thumps ignite the ground with every step I take. Fissures erupt across the ground from a simple step. I hear an incessant ringing that causes blood to leak from my eardrums. The echoes torture me with the softest note. A symphony of sounds ravages my hearing like an overpowering boom. My legs begin to cramp causing me to fall flat on my face. The spikes on the floor dig into my flesh, yet the pain subsides. I keep running regardless. I hope that my running will cause the swelling to stop. The calluses grow by the second like a festering hole. That pain in my stomach must cease at once. Finally, the white walls move away from me.

Numerous doors appear before me in several different directions. It would not matter which door I take. This labyrinth prevents escape. I wish to run away. The maze-like door keeps shifting directions. My weary body runs through door after door. I nearly collide with one that appears out of nothingness in front of me. They keep multiplying around me. The realization is starting to sink in. The labyrinth’s barriers prevent forward progress. Solitude’s shadow dances around my body frame. The shadow keeps lunging towards me trying to consume me in its inescapable grip. I flail my body in vain.

The incessant ringing reaches a crescendo. I push the demonical shadows with all my might. This inescapable maze’s countless obstacles never stop. The delirium is running wild now. My chest tightens. The nervousness and fear push back at me. The shadows push and pull me in different directions. An artist in the distance looks at me. The paintings lining the wall get painted in red. I barrel forward despite the pain. The shadows fly off my body into the distance. The paintbrush leaves the painter’s hand. It chases me overtaking the shadows. A loud cutting sounds off with every stroke of paint. I turn right only to reach a dead-end, so I turn left going through a door.

I keep forcing my way through every door trying to escape the paintbrush. The paintings flash before my eyes causing my chest to tighten each time. The paint on the walls turns red. I see my heart splatter against the canvas. This paintbrush is the realization. The paintbrush becomes an albatross that anchors me into this labyrinth. I am losing control of my limbs. I feel an uncontrollable shaking surge over me. The burden of this truth weighs me down.

The dull color in the world begins to vanish. My visage itself is devoid of color. Loss can only be a fault of my own. The premonitions warned me of the result. I saw it coming before it ever happened, yet I could do nothing to stop it. I knew that my effort would never change the result. This is not the first time it happened. The salty discharge of tears never stops. These tears bring no tranquility. My fleshy desires bring repetitive pain, and I relive the cycle. Each cycle destroys a piece of me leaving only a trace behind. I no longer recognize myself, because each one brings change. The maze and cycle merge. My body’s limbs stop moving for the moment.

I cannot capture fascination in a bottle. I am all brains and aesthetics with nothing to show for it. The dichotomy of my desire is disagreeable. These displeasing blemishes drag me to the abyss. I throw my arms and legs forward trying to move ahead. The agony unveils itself and shifts to rage. The feeling of hopelessness and meaninglessness keeps chasing me. I start running again going through every door that appears.

I realize that I cannot shield myself from the truth. The labyrinth keeps the cycle going onward. Each door I take results in the same end. I fear the skeletal reaper that stalks me from beyond, so hardship remains the only way. Death can never be an option. The strong part of me keeps chipping away. Pieces of me shatter in a broken mirror. The anger brings my skin to a literal boil. The swelling in my skin expands around me devouring the phantoms that shadow me. I never forget the rejection, and I want them all to remember.

The chip on my shoulder transforms into an anvil that grows wider by the moment.
The false smile overtakes my lips. I slide a masquerade mask on my face. I mask the pain with a false front. The constant unrequited emotions create more obstacles strengthening the labyrinth. My good conscience prevents me from gaining revenge even if the searing pain sinks into my skin. I keep the false front strong until I become an emotionless shell.   The cracks in my armor never fully heal the armor instead grows harder. The armor covering my body adapts every time. My shell becomes harder to crack. The armor grows stronger, so that pain can never inflict me again. A blade slices into the armor with a loud clang, yet no scratches are left. I decide to stop running in the maze.

My weary body welcomes the rest; however, rest never comes. My slumbers are jumbled messes. I realize now the labyrinth never breaks. Without warning, the labyrinth surrounding me slowly melts leaving no residue behind. Then, it fuses with reality, and a brilliant swirl of color erases the fog. I solve the labyrinth by looking into the mirror and accepting the truth. My reflection stares back solemnly. The labyrinth reflects my insecurities and pain. The trace of my old self will eventually pass into the armor. The hope has left my stomach, and the void within me grows deeper. A black hole engulfs my heart as my armor adapts once more.

Memoir: A Glimpse of Hell

I remain enshrouded by the white smoke. I keep pressing it to my lips as smoke continues to seep through. The euphoria consumes me day after day. The smoke spreads throughout my body entering my lungs. The heated tip lights up with every press. I enter another reality free of life’s ghastly surroundings. My mind leaves the realm of reality. This day remains the same as the last, yet on this day, the result leaves me in a frenzied state.

I blossom in the new reality like a fresh flower coming alive for the first time. The sensation of pleasure engulfs my visage. My glazed eyes are a symbol, a departure from the problematic. My vision spins before me. An urge of laughter starts to swell within. The haze obscures everything around me. Suddenly, it happens…

I feel myself losing control of my body. My limbs move forward without guidance. The people sucking in the smoke appear increasingly grotesque. The hideous countenance painted on their faces becomes something else. My vision begins to deceive me. I have to get away. I quickly leave the area behind me. Their lifeless eyes follow me everywhere. This intolerable deceit induces shaking. This world without sanction leaves me in a manic rush.

The colors in the air begin fusing together. Their fiendish faces keep gawking at me. The out of world experience keeps dragging me downward. The otherworldly forces drive me back and forth. I feel violated as the unknown forces rape me of all sanctity. I know that this cannot be just a bad trip; no, this is far worse. Whatever causes this pain replaces sanity with insanity. I can see the negativity replenishing my delirium. This surreal feeling of dread permeates my reality. Death has come for me.

My body writhes in pain. This unknown force leaves me asphyxiated. My vision continues to deceive. No hands are present. Nothing is choking me, but I feel the grip tightening around my throat. I begin to question reality itself. I wonder if I conjured up reality with my imagination. Maybe, everything I saw had been created through lies. The reality I witnessed was nothing, only a lying dream.

Finally, the realization sinks in. My personal hell remains personified by repetitive motions. The throbbing in my head pulsates across me like a lightning shock. This torturous déjà-vu keeps replaying the moment over and over. I plead for mercy. I ask somebody above to listen and save me from this hellish abyss. All I see is black at this point. The screams and screeches filling the air intensify the feeling of loss. The horrid stench of death never diminishes.

I never wished to die young. The guilt keeps spreading as I fall further into the crypt. Nothing hears my cries for help. I never wanted to be left to die in the same moment. Again and again. Everything around me spins faster and faster. The moment never pauses. I keep reliving it. I cannot escape from my hysteria. The distress settles in. A sensation of fear beyond depression and panic brings corrosion forth.

I question if the drugs are my deathbed. Maybe, the drugs are my one-way trip to an insane asylum. This nightmare without end is leaving me in decay. I rot in eternal blackness forevermore reliving it. Death keeps flowing. I know this is the end of everything I thought I knew. Still, I keep praying for forgiveness. I beg for mercy, a second chance to live life in a better way.

The throbbing concludes. I wonder if I chose life or death? I awaken from this infernal fury. The dream of unheard reality ends. The world flows freely again. My survival remains possible on the whim of a prayer. The saving grace prevents my death and washes over me like a warm shower. I finally escape the pseudo-reality with the drugs wearing off. I felt a year pass; however, reality turns a year into a couple of hours. I am unsure if I ever will be the same or if I will ever forget.

I am more thankful for my existence. I have a new perspective. I felt abandoned by all in my time of need. The grace of God awakens me. My prayer alone pulled me away from this deformed state of mind. The only force to hear my prayer came from the divine energy of the heavens. I prayed for a savior when only God would listen. No one believes until the chips are down. Finally, color consumes my world again reinvigorating my dying soul. I breathe in new life and escape the misery. A lesson learned.

Short Story: The Image in the Mirror

The Image in the Mirror

By: Alex Crowder

Outside observers would hear nothing during my slumber. My mind begins to travel to a state beyond consciousness and reality. The soothing sounds of white noise implore me to let go. My eyes had already closed when I felt a surge of relief consume my body. I slept the same every time like a mummy bandaged up. Some called it abnormal that I fell asleep with my head looking up at the ceiling, but nothing could be stranger than this night. I counted the sheep as they leaped over a fence. An abrupt crash interrupted the sheep’s jump. My body in response moved upwards like a vampire from its grave. Then, I could not believe my eyes.

This abominable cretin looked down at me. It resembled the sheep from a few seconds ago. It sure is ugly I thought to myself. A growly voice responded as if it could read my mind. “You do realize you only see yourself in me?”

I squinted, “Huh? What do you mean?”

“You humans are all the same. Akem Manah is the name. I am projecting your image.”

The sheep’s visage started to shift form, and it truly did resemble me. I wondered if a mirror had fallen onto my bed. No mirrors. I am not nearly as attractive as I thought. No wonder no girl wants to go out with me. That does look like me. My eyes slowly closed as I spoke out loud, “I must be dreaming.”

I continued to keep my eyes closed trying to fall into sleep. I knew all dreams must pass. My weariness must have brought about delirium. It seemed quite logical to me.

The growly voice roared once more, “I’ll turn your daughter into a goat if you don’t look at me!”

The words spoken by this demoniacal being reassured me of the present absurdity. No one would ever say such a ridiculous thing in reality. A yawn escaped my lips. “Goodnight, imposter.”

My body rolled in the covers never wanting to get up. The soft fabric embraced me with its warmth. Why do we even wake up in the morning? I decided to get up despite the trepidation to check on my daughter. My eyes widened as my imposter stared at me from a chair in the corner. I rolled my eyes and ignored his presence this time. I need to go back to the therapist. The divorce is weighing me down. I burst through the doors wondering why she slept so soundly.

An implosion nearly tore my chest apart. The hole in my heart grew by the second. My daughter had vanished from her crib, and a baby goat took her place. I started to panic rummaging through the refrigerator until I tripped over my own feet. My doppelganger’s laughter maddened me. I picked up a hammer and threw it at his skull. “THIS IS NOT FUNNY, YOU SON OF A BITCH.” The hammer clanked against his skull causing his body to fade.

Suddenly, I felt a smoldering heat. I feel like I entered a microwave.I had no chance to collect myself when a horde of beasts stampeded towards me. The loud rumbling appeared to shake the ground beneath my feet. These hellish creatures squeezed me tightly with a hug. Each beast had horns that protruded from their heads. The brown fur of this beast covered me as I desperately pushed it away. The repugant smell nearly caused me to choke. Minotaurs? All the minotaurs had nose rings, and most of them resembled a naked human. Also, they seemed to hear my thoughts like the doppelganger. I wish they put on some damn clothes.

One of the pack responded to me, “You burned all the clothing, Akem Manah…It is about time you returned. What is the 411?”

I looked at it incredulously, “I need to Google something.”

Another of the pack replied, “Google? We do not know how to Google. Boss, are you feeling okay today?”

I growled, “SOMEONE GET ME THE DAMN COMPUTER!”

Surprisingly, the minotaurs backed away in fear. A minotaur cried out in a nerdy voice, “Mr. Manah, we..we got rid of the computers. We shall go to the store and prevent the cashier from counting.”

Whatever, I whispered to myself. I decided to ignore them for the moment. I found myself enjoying this new world except for the heat. Blue flames doused everything around me. The landmarks remained strange. Volcanoes surrounded me. I saw minotaurs dropping people into pools of lava. The bubbling lava disintegrated anything it touched. Hard bone melted at its core leaving nothing intact. I saw two minotaurs taking a sponge bath in a crimson pool. I poured a water bottle down my throat, and my throat got greeted by scorching ashes. The smell of gasoline consumed my nostrils, and the water barreling down my throat should have burnt my throat to pieces. I let the lava slide through my fingers. Suddenly, a keyboard appeared beneath my fingers. I decided to Google Akem Manah.

The name Akem Manah represented a demon. The demon Akem Manah created evil allegedly. He wished to prevent people from fulfilling moral duties. Interesting I guess. I might as well live in the moment. My research got cut short. The minotaurs made this horrid noise. A few of them started throwing objects across this strange realm. A temper tantrum, perhaps? These minotaurs might suspect the truth.

I shouted with a cheerful tone, “Minotaurs assemble!”

The lumbering minotaurs rampaged through this strange hell and looked at me giddy. I knew this dream would subside in time, so I decided to play along before they tore me apart. The power rush started to exhilarate me a little I must admit. Whaaa. Whaaa. Whaaa. I ignored the background noise and gave each group of minotaurs a task.

I told the first group to target meter maids. I told the second group to target cart pushers. I told the third group to target pizza joints. I told the final group to target college students. I waited for them to complete their task and skinny dipped in the smoldering heat. The heat did not faze me anymore. My body’s soreness faded due to the lava’s touch. Whaaa. Whaaa. Whaaa. The minotaurs did seem to find my tasks strange, yet they complied.

The meter maids took extended lunch breaks that caused numerous car crashes. News broadcasts wondered why a record number of accidents occurred on this day. The cart pushers stayed at home stoned instead of showing up to work. A few of these cart pushers could not pay the bills, and parking lots were never the same. The consumer’s inability to put a cart up left cars etched in scratches. The pizza joints closed down early and ate the pizza themselves. Some of them developed diabetes due to gluttony. One consumer died of starvation and whole families ate less without a cheap alternative. Whaaa. Whaaa. Whaaa. The college students caused the most mayhem. Riots ensued as college students burned their tests and threw couches through the windows of their professors. Other college students neglected school for video games. This failure left them without a degree and led to a lifetime as a cashier at the local burger joints.

Whaaa. This incessant sound rang through my ears. The sound never stopped. I forgot to change her diaper last night before bed. A loud sigh surrounded me nearly breaking my eardrums. My wife’s disapproving glare could be felt even in this hell. “You’re such an asshole sometimes. Do you ever consider my feelings?” I knew she would be pissed that I spent a 120 dollars on a video game. Everything made sense at that moment.

I finally saw the joke in all this. I erupted in maniacal laughter wondering why I never saw it before. I needed to be a good parent, a good boyfriend; I should have realized what is truly important. I neglected my duties. The minotaurs erupted in laughter, as I looked into the mirror one last time.