Light flashed across my bedroom window. Magic bloomed.
Ectoplasm wafted over my naked feet. It formed a bat, larger than normal. It’s claws gripped and ungripped the wood of the foot board to the beat of my racing heart.
“Dracula greets the Green Witch.”
I touched my chartreuse hair. “What’s up, Drac?”
“The Beast bursts from the Netherworld.” Dracula took a breath. The air passed between his fangs and he whistled. “He hunts you.”
“Not new news, Drac.” I hefted my dead legs out of bed and touched the power points on the outside of each knee. Energy sizzled. I stood. When I faced Dracula, he appeared in his elegant vampire form.
“Gorgon fractured the prison of the House of Mirrors.” Dracula slashed his long fingers in the form of a “Z.”
I raised an eyebrow.
“He shocked his guards into oblivion.” Dracula stroked my white unicorn stuffed animal. “He captured Rust.”
Rust. The town of my birth. The place of my ancestors and my descendants. Ten generations in both directions.
My magically animated legs moved me closer to Dracula. I took the unicorn from his lifeless fingers. I touched the silver horn. It transformed. Ignis Fatuus, the sword of illusion, deception and confusion - Fool’s Paradise. I kissed the rainbow blade, slid it into its sheath. I rolled my shoulders, remembering its weight.
“He will crucify one person a day until you meet him in the mountains.”
“How do you know all this?”
Dracula blinked. There was no reason for him to blink. His eyes turned red, the black pupils fading to scarlet. Dracula wanted my blood.
“He sent me.” Dracula’s incisors elongated. He lunged in my direction. I thought of Rust. I moved a hair’s breadth in reality, folded space and time and flashed out of hiding.
the TWICE as LONG version
Friday, October 28, 2016
Friday, October 21, 2016
A dog barked. Birds twittered. A cricket called from the other side of the wall.
Light flashed across my bedroom window. I lay on top of my blankets unable to sleep. I didn’t toss and turn, or tangle in the sheets. I was just too tired to sleep. I closed my eyes. Light strobed against my lids.
A wisp of ectoplasm wafted over the foot of my bed, hanging over my naked feet. It thickened to form a solid bat, larger than normal. It’s claws gripped and ungripped the wood to the beat of my racing heart. Bats looked weird right-side up. Random thought. Not important. It ruffled its black, leathery wings, settled lower on its tail and spoke.
“Dracula greets the Green Witch,” Dracula said.
I touched my bright chartreuse hair. “Trite, baby,” I said. “What’s up, Drac?” I sat up, plumped my pillows.
“Dracula brings news of import.”
Talking to the vampire in his bat-form caused a stabbing pain behind my left eye. He slurred his words and had an accent.
“The Beast bursts forth from the Netherworld.” Dracula took a breath. When he converted to a mammal, he needed to breathe. Just one of those odd things about magical creatures. The air passed between his fangs and he whistled.
“He hunts you.”
“Not new news, Drac,” I said. “Gorgon has been grunting through the various planes of existence looking for me for several centuries.” I hefted my dead legs over the side of the bed and touched the power points on the outside of each knee. Energy sizzled and I stood. When I faced Dracula, his stood in his elegant vampire form.
“Gorgon fractured the prison of the House of Mirrors.” Dracula waved his elegant, long fingers in the form of a slashing “Z.”
I raised an eyebrow.
“He shocked his guards into oblivion.” Dracula lifted my white unicorn stuffed animal from my granny square quilt. He stroked the soft plush.
“Can you feel that?” I asked.
“You know I can not,” he said. “My skin has no nerve endings. None of my senses function in this form. I am dead.” He frowned.
“But, hey, you get to live forever,” I said.
“No one says that anymore.” Some old creatures had a hard time adjusting to current times.
“He has captured Rust.”
I stopped smiling. Rust. The town of my birth. The place of my ancestors and my descendants. Ten generations in both directions, past and future.
My magically animated legs moved me closer to Dracula. I took the unicorn from his lifeless fingers and touched the silver horn. It transformed into my sword, the metal of the blade a mother-of-pearl rainbow, the hilt wrapped in soft white leather. Ignis Fatuus, the sword of illusion, deception and confusion - Fool’s Paradise. I kissed the blade, slid it into the sheath that materialised on my back and rolled my shoulders, remembering its weight.
“He has imprisoned the entire town and will crucify one person a day along the perimeter until you meet him in the mountains.”
“How do you know all this?”
Dracula blinked. There was no reason for him to blink. His eyes turned red, the black pupils fading to scarlet.
I moved a hair’s breadth in reality and saved my life. Dracula was starving. I don’t know how he had hidden it from me. He wanted my blood.
“He sent me,” said Dracula. His incisors elongated. He lunged in my direction. I thought of Rust. I folded space and time. I flashed out of hiding.
Friday, October 14, 2016
The narrow opening sucked me in. Bricks in shades of cranberry, pomegranate and plum laid in alternating patterns of Flemish bond and herringbone paved the ground and curved up into walls and archways that cradled dark, tinted windows three stories tall to form a cul-de-sac canyon with a waterfall on the butt end. The air was heavy with moisture. Breathing the thick air slowed my movements. I strolled among empty tables covered in blazing white cloths.
I sat at the very back, my back to a vine-covered backdrop hiding wireless speakers. Aaron Neville crooned through lush, mottled leaves, “...Life is too short to have sorrow, you may be here today and gone tomorrow …” I smoothed my hands across the clean, linen surface in front of me. The stiff fibers scratched my fingertips. The bartender placed a Virgin Bloody Mary in the center of the circle, an open wound in perfection. Heat stung my tongue, as I sipped the sharp, bitter cocktail. Ice cold condensation soothed my irritated palms. I wiped the wet onto my jean-wrapped thighs.
Couples meandered into my secret garden. The women in white silk blouses and jeweled skirts, toes peeking from strappy sandals, hair sleek, unmade-up make-up. The men wore collared polo shirts and Palm Beach slacks. Wrinkle-free. Stainless. Relaxed. Nondescript waiters addressed the invaders by name. They chuckled at quips. They anticipated needs. They provided the usual. They waited. I watched while I ate butter-tender sea scallops and golden potato hash, I absorbed fluttering fingertips, deep-throated laughs, crossed ankles and slouched postures, arms that rested around shoulders, fingers that plucked at loose necklines, lips that brushed at wrists and cheeks and whispered into ears. They felt my stares. They glanced my way. Their eyes slid off to the pool on my right. The fountain with its dancing water didn’t hold their attention, either.
Thursday, October 13, 2016
Friday, October 07, 2016
Cookie cutter, assembly line houses made the streets the same. Built white bread, white picket fence whitewashed. Strangers could not tell one lane from another. Strangers were not welcome.
Once an orchard, a dairy farm, a hay field or cornrows, Mr. Levitt purchased land dirt cheap from families too exhausted to keep going for Veterans and their families with The American Dream. This was a Levittown.
They built four types of houses. Two kinds of one story houses: the little Kensington Rancher and the bigger Buckingham Rancher. Two types of two story houses: the smaller Cape Code called an Ardsley, and the larger Gramercy Colonial. Throughout the eight square miles of raped and ravaged land they built the same four houses. Rinse and repeat. Roads, sidewalks, lawns, and trees. Everybody lived in parks and the names of our streets started with the same letter or words as our home park. We lived in Garfield East and lived on Eastgate Lane which was just off of East River Drive. Ever clever.
The rules said, “No bushes or fences in the front yards.” It made it easier to play tag and kickball. We even got yelled at when our ball ended up on the neighbor’s front lawn. The old man actually came out his front door, all outrage and high dudgeon, tried to capture our ball before we could rescue it. When he beat us to it, he’d keep it until the next day. But since everyone had their own balls, we just kept playing.
In Winter, we built snowmen and igloos in our front yards, Dads competing as much as the kids. Snowballs flew over the top of cars slipping down the icy roads. It took hours and sometimes days for the plows to make it to all areas.
In Summer, we rode bikes with banana seats. When it rained and the sewers backed up at the end of our street, we waded in and swam in the flood waters. We drank out of garden hoses and ran through the sprinklers that wave back and forth like a liquid fan. We’d get called in for dinner and then be right back on the street. We stayed outside long after the lights came on.
Not all was rosy and idyllic. We were infested with bugs. Maybe mosquitoes. Since we were kids, we didn’t know and we didn’t care. Not about what they were, anyway. All we cared about was the cure. All we knew was that we were lucky because we had a great game to play. On random afternoons, in the heat and humidity of a New Jersey Summer, the Bug Spray Truck would make its rounds. It was basically a large bug spray can on wheels. It would travel slow throughout the neighborhoods spraying huge, thick white clouds of poison and we would run behind it, laughing and sucking all of the noxious fumes.
Wednesday, October 05, 2016
Sunday, October 02, 2016
Winter seeped into the stone walls, the thick wooden floors, the still air. We put our frozen mittens on the sill of the kitchen window. Ice clung to their woolen fibers. It only melted in the brief sunshine that hit the southern wall in the afternoon. The light through the thick panes of glass magnified a circle on the floor occupied by a dozing kitten. The war required blackout rules. No fires in stoves. No oil lamps lit. During the day, it was bright enough, especially with the sun bouncing off the snow, knee deep in the pastures, shoulder deep in drifts blown into corners.
We left a path from the woods. Footprints and evergreen needles alleviated the dull white on white landscape. Into the forest we went, early in the morning to take advantage of the light, to get our tree. We cut down the perfect Fir like we do every year. Only this year, there would be no candles on the tree. No sparklers allowed.
It stood center stage in the middle room. Tangy-sweet, rich evergreen scented our breath clouds. Hand-made glass ornaments, a Robin’s nest with three blue eggs and red ribbons tied in bows decorated its branches. I sat on the bed, wrapped in a feather quilt to keep me warm and stared at the tree while illumination still glinted on bulbs.
We gathered in the front room, close together. We ate liver, bread dumplings in a chicken broth. We ate in silence. Except for my Ur-Opa who snored in his back bedroom. We ate warm apple strudel drenched in honey. It had been a whole year since we had sweets. Normally, the honey from the combs in the orchard was sold for what little money we could get.
I layered several sweaters under my red wool coat. I slipped my reindeer boots lined with rabbit fur over three pairs of wool socks. My uncle Viktor brought the boots home with him from Norway after he had been shot in the left leg. His knee was shattered and he could no longer march so they sent him home. He felt a certain shame in not dying for the Fatherland but we were glad to have him back. My five other uncles all died on frozen battlefields in places that sounded like fairytale lands: Kursk, Westerplatte, Nibeiwa, Narvik, Gembloux.
We went out into the black night to see the stars, The Star, shining just beyond the reach of my fingers.
Christmas Eve in the dark.
We stood in the chamomile field, in the silent night. I wanted to sing. We always sang on this night. I opened my mouth. A buzz rolled through the mountain peaks. At first, I couldn’t tell where the sound was coming from. It seemed to be everywhere at once and then I saw bright lights moving across the sky, a triangle of lights, a moving celestial tree. I clapped and laughed. My Ur-Oma grabbed my wrist, pulled me along behind her. I wanted to stay to see the Christmas spectacle.
Whistling followed us into the hall. The walls vibrated and shook as we sheltered in a corner. The bombs landed high in the alps.