Janus

I can’t stop myself from looking at him – snow white skin, hair, dark as chocolate, topaz eyes borrowed from a bird of prey, soft lips, bowed in a mischievous arch – vibrant memories, which won’t  let me sleep, won’t let me close my eyes. Even if I do, I’ll open them up, asap. Feeling his breath, his gaze peeled to whatever there is to be to be noticed in my face.

Even in the darkness of the room, drawn curtains, and the half moon shining… Even in the solid black mist his eyes seems to glow in that strange orange golden light. He seems to emit it, his faces, his mouthes, his shiny teeth… All screaming curiosity.

“What is it?”

“Nothing. I´ve never seen someone fall asleep before.”

“What? Never? Why?”

“I never sleep. So I’m curious.”

“Suit yourself.” Indeed, I’m exhausted, and ´bout to fall asleep. “So you never sleep, hm? Do you – ever dream?” My lips move lazily. The bed sheets still hot and messed up. Feeling heavy on my skin.

“Yes. But mine are different from yours. I do not lose myself doing so.” His voice softens, moves closer somewhere near my left temple. “And when you’ll lose yourself, you’ll be empty – a living, breathing hollow shell. Just waiting.” His voice sounds now like a whisper, moves suddenly from my left to the right ear… Of course -forgot- two mouthes. Two tongues. Strangely, they sound the same.

Can’t open my eyes, sleep burns inside of them. It is a soft warm black, that keeps dripping, dissolving into my mind. “Mhm. What for?” Words drop out hazily, I just breathe them out.

“For me, to do as I please… Shhh, now. Go back to sleep…”

sugar dispenser

If you must know, the head belongs to James R. Blackmoore. The third.

There’s nothing special about being the third. No achievement at all, it’s like a participation trophy, darling. Congrats you’re being born! Haha…

He looks now much older than he truly is. Don’t let it fool you! You can easily mistake it for ancient! That distinguished expression he has, that little smile… It makes my knees go jello!

Doesn’t he look noble? I really like how he turned out. I put a lot of effort in him, you know. Preserving it so well! I usually don’t like to praise, but I surpassed myself. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’m the modest type. No compliments! That’s my policy. No undeserved words. I’m just not the type for them, but this time… I did awfully good.

It comes near perfection, the whole mummification process, and it is not easy to find all ingredients in Modern Age. Exquisite oils have their price, and Mr. Blackmoore is by far the cheapest ingredient of all.

And my, did he put up a fight! So ungrateful to what I’m offering him… Can you answer me a question? You are a man, so you should know.

If your fairy godmother came your way, and she gave you the chance to get famous, you’d take it, wouldn’t you?

How can someone – a man – not be flattered by going down in history? Even a good-for-nothing of his puny caliber has to be grateful, that somebody remembers him by name. If not by his trivial deeds…

Pfff, ghost hunter! Don’t make me laugh! No such things as ghosts and demons existing on the face of earth. No monsters – except for humans. You agree? So convenient, being on the same side, aren’t we?

He is drop dead beautiful, don’t you think? I might have a little crush on Mr. Blackmoore!  A little treasured obsession with his face. It’s a nice touch. So smooth with ageless loveliness, dried up like a raisin.

Raisins…

Oh, I hate raisins! I gag, when I find one in my brioche. That’s where you come in, darling. Nothing worse then starting a day, with a tainted brioche and cold coffee instead of warm tea! You know, you truly ruined a gorgeous day with your impertinent assurance!

Which brings us back to my lovely tea party. You and me; we have a bone to pick!

Stop whining! I’ll beat your face to pulp, if you don’t pull yourself together. I won’t repeat! I can make it a lot worse, you know. You will be begging me to release you from the pain. Stop crying! Theres nothing you could meow that could stop me.

…Don’t worry, darling. You’ll do just fine! I still need a special sugar dispenser. You are capable of that, I know it. I have faith in your abilities!

*

A mummified head lies on its accustomed place on the coffee table. Over it a handmade tablecloth draped casually. Underneath the snow-white laced fabric the contours of sugar cubes poke through. The five o’clock tea is nearly ready. The liquid in the small flower patterned porcelain pot scents the air in the room.

the cat

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***

The day is slowly trickling off. The sun rests on the rooftop, its orange bleeds out, reaching over the sky. Beyond the edges of the buildings on the other street side. Trees nearby rustle, as the wind picks up.

A black cat sits on top of an old brick wall surrounding a garden. It can be easily confused with a statue in the dusk. If it isn’t for those flashing yellow eyes. Horse chestnut tree branches stretch over the mural’s top, slowly waving in the evening wind. They shade the most of the wall, even with the streetlight flickering on nearby.

The cat stares into the street, tail twitching. “You are not welcome!” A silhouette detaches from the darkness of the corner of the building across the street. It moves closer. Consisting of solid blackness, it swirls to the wall, eyes lit like glow wire.  The shadow gutters and growls inarticulately. Its voice resembles the scattering of dead leaf over a dry road, or gravel under shoes.

The figure drifts through the wall onto the other side into the garden. The cat jumps down onto the grass. The shadow floats towards the house at the back of of the garden. The trees bows and sweep as if under great weight, groaning and creaking.

The cat hisses. „No!“ It runs up to the house, putting itself between the thing and the entrance door, its claws out, tail twitching.

„Don’t interfere.“ The breeze drops the words, slowly rolling them  down the tree branches. The dim glow in the eyes of the thing now blaze with anger. The wind  grows to a storm, swift gusts tearing at the trees and the roof of the  house. Clouds approach, stripping the stars from the sky, tearing the full moon apart. Cat’s fur stands on end, arching its back to a crescent shaped blur. Even the street lamps lose their power.

The shadow grows over the crown of the trees, clawing at the roof, ripping it apart. Broken old tiles rain down. The cat darts for the nearest tree, heading to the top. Like broken ribs from a carcass, the roof joists stab into the darkness. Setting an outrageous storm free, it’s beating wings hovering upon the garden.

 *

(…to be continued)

frequency

Okay! Don’t look now… but I just busted the lock on 388.

Yeah, yeah. Don’t be so shocked!

As if you never slipped! – With a bolt cutter. On a lock.

I mean, come on… We’re on the same side here, aren’t we? We’re havin’ a little fun! You ’n me… Little snoopin’ round, little snuffin’ out. It’s what I do for livin’. No, I’m a part-time jacker. I know it’s not so reputable, but I ain’t a reputable man. So don’t bother.

I make my living with providing and renting storage units. And doing some stuff round here like fixing, cleaning, changing  some bulbs from time to time. Not overly exhausting. I’m not exactly the janitor here. Well, yeah – that doesn’t sound like I thought it would. So… I hatch the units, till the day they’re abandoned. I crack them open and sell what’s inside. I just have to be on my toes. You know, Jack of all trades device. So I get my hands on anything! Literally anything. You wouldn’t believe what some folks have in storage… I had once an old lady with thousands of porcelain dolls hanging from the walls. Really creepy stuff. Really creepy ancient stuff, and’s brought me a lot of chump change.  Striking lucky – sometimes.

That doesn’t hurt. At least it doesn’t hurt me. A man has to earn his livelihood. And what’s better than sitting on it, like a hen on eggs. You can have an omelette every day…

Which brings us to 388. This room has been rented for five years. Occasionally someone coming by unloading big boxes. Three month ago, the payments stop. I’ve checked all the papers, no one claiming anything. No one to contact, wrong phone number, no address, no post box. No nothing. Suits me. I wait a bit, and get some nice leftovers. I’m the patient kind.

The door of 388 opens smoothly. Consumed air greets me, like a bat greets teeth. Stinks of plastic and paint… I throw the switch, ’n neon lights hum to life. Oh, what a piece of junk! Man, what a shame… What are those? Looks like a bunch of ancient computers. I don’t think anyone will buy such outdated stuff off of me.

A wall like heap of screens flicker on, one after the other. What the- What’s all this gutted electronics, cables jammed into one big Gordian knot. Did it just move? Are rats in here? Maybe I’ve got to call pest-control.

The screens buzz with white noise. Something I’ve imagined to be hearing down the corridors. There is one plastic chair in front of the monitor wall, coated with dust. It seems to be waiting. – Funny…

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That sound is spine crawling! So annoying, the hair on my neck stands on end. Feels like the skin on my back is too tight… Like… Man, I can’t even turn around properly. It’s like there is a storm brewing in here… Or someone standing behind me. Behind me! Behind-

 *

Ugh, bad taste… Tastes like navel-lint…Tongue dry. Bone dry. Licking the floor? Why do I kip on the ground? What am I doing down here? That sound…

The monitors still vomit that noise on me.  If only the room stopped spinning… I’ll throw up if it doesn’t stop- That damned noise! „Stop it!“ Why the fuck is it so hard to breathe?

„Voice command identified. Analyzing… Command not valid.“ Tinny. Mechanical words vibrated through my skull. Not valid… Where did that come from?  Ah, sponge legs, jello arms. Can’t breathe. I catch my head with both palms. Doesn’t help- Stop it. My head wants to leave. It wants to leave so badly. The room moves. Where are my feet? I need my feet.

„Stop it! Stop it!“ Come on, focus! I have to get out! Stand up! Come on, stand up. Up, I say. Where’s the door? Grab the  floor. Hold on. Push.

„Voice command not valid. Remaining: one try.“ The voice plunges into my ears, pulls my brain out, and stomps on it. So hard… Blood. I taste blood. Stop- I think I’m gonna throw up…

„- Help…“ I need- I… have to move.

„Voice command not valid. Critical state reached. Initializing security protocol. Automated shut-down in all areas in 900 seconds.“ The door. Must- move… Can’t see…

„Shit…“ Words fall out – of my… thing… Stomach. So numb… face.

*

„Morning, Paulsen. What do we have here?“ The tall man asks the uniform taking photos.

„Detective! When did you get back? The body, Harry Brack, forty-two, male, caucasian. Coroner’s been called off, but he says most likely natural cause. Maybe heart attack, maybe stroke. He says that the blood pool origins from an excessive nose bleed due to high blood pressure… He was found by his girlfriend. She’s in his office…“ Officer Paulsen flashes his biggest smile. The detective turns and nods  a little nod. He walks down the corridor. “Hey, detective!” The tall man stops for a moment. “… Good to have you back!”