Tricks for Treats – Thursday Threads

The black iron caldron exploded when Jared tossed saltpeter onto the roiling ingredients. The piercing light gouged my eye sockets, the concussion split my eardrums, and my heart stopped beating. I felt myself falling.

I don’t know if I lost consciousness, but when I opened my eyes everything was dark. Every bone in my body ached, and they creaked and clattered as I struggled to sit. My head spun, thoughts swirled, the wind whistled in my ears, evoking the weird sensation of being in a deep murky carven. It overwhelmed me.

“Jared?” My voice croaked. It barely sounded like me.

“Dude.” Jared sang the word, which calmed me, and creeped me out at the same time.

“What was that?”

“I didn’t think it would work,” his laughter teetered on the verge of hysteria, and I began to tremble.

“I’m just happy we’re still alive.”

“Technically, I am not sure we are. We are skeletons, man.”

I turned my hands in front of my face and wiggled my fingers. The disembodied bones waved at me.

“Jared, what the hell did you do to us?”

“We need to do something about this.”

“We Kemosabe? What’s this ‘we’ shit? You’re the one who created this insane mess, and you’ve got to fix it. Now. I have no intention of spending the rest of my life as a skeleton.”

“Aw, come on. These are killer costumes. I bet we get tons of candy.”

“If we don’t scare everyone.”

“It’s Halloween. Isn’t that the point?”

__________________________________________

Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

A Day to Remember – Thursday Threads

Jake and I had a standing appointment. It was a college ritual, established to catch up and brag about our weekend escapades. Fate had a way of pulling us apart as we explored parties, women, and adventure. On Monday, we always met at our favorite coffee shop.

I was excited this morning. My latest exploit marked a huge event, one we had discussed at length. While I planned, Jake told me every reason he thought I was crazy. I wouldn’t listen. Sophie, the love of my life, and I were going to Lion’s Bay for a once in a lifetime trip. I prepared a romantic picnic, a proposal, and a celebratory cliff jump when she agreed.  I left nothing to chance.

Jake looked like he arrived hours ago. Sitting in his usual spot, he seemed tired and somehow older than I had ever seen him before.

He glanced up at me and turned deathly pale.

“Jake don’t look so worried. It was fabulous. She said ‘yes.’ We’re getting married.”

His eyes widened, and he rubbed his hand across his face before he stared at me again.

“I see she didn’t overstate the issue,” he muttered then took a big swig from his cup.

“What issue? Didn’t you hear me? I’m the happiest man on the planet. It was the greatest day of my life.”

“It was the last too.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Will you listen to me? We were best friends.”

“Were?”

“Buddy, we buried you years ago.”

__________________________________________

Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

Ode to Poe – Thursday Threads

It was midnight. He had left me here, in the basement, with instructions to finish the display before tomorrow’s opening. At The Mütter, my tasks were never-ending. Each piece required painstaking placement and anchoring invisible to the naked eye. I pushed my fists into my low back. Creaking and popping, I stretched, seeking to ease muscles stiffened by too many hours spent hunched at my table.

On the stairs leading to freedom, a familiar inky mist gathered and swirled. He always appeared during full moon nights, when the lunar glow highlighted his smoky silhouette.

“Good to see you, my friend. I have missed you,” I smiled as his shape shimmered and solidified.

“Yes, Emmet has me working late, again. The man is cruel beyond imagining.”

Admiring my progress, I listened as the bones created their own story. A cold wind whispered, and his voice crackled with the smell of autumn leaves. I toyed with the germ he planted. His plan to relieve the thousand tortures Emmet heaped upon me.

“You are right, I could work on him. Make him understand.”

My companion patted my shoulder, and his courage flowed through me.

“The opening gala is tomorrow night.”

He leaned toward me, and the seedling grew, producing a perfectly formed, black rose.

“I could lure him with a cask of Amontillado. We have a wall of bones, and as part of the permanent installation, they would lie undisturbed for years.”

A faint jingling of bells kissed my ears.

“In pace requiescat.”

__________________________________________

Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

https://ko-fi.com/johawkthewriter#

Masking Reality – Thursday Threads

filled white disposable cup on table

Photo by Fengyou Wan on Unsplash

Concentrate on the happy things they said.

But I don’t have happy things.

Nothing major. Something small that makes you smile. They bored me.

Jeremy was much more pragmatic. He was still a pain in my ass, and entirely too optimistic, for his own good. But there were the occasions when he was tired, or distracted, and I caught an edge of cynicism in his tone. I could work on him.

In the cafeteria, they served a strong, black, bitter coffee in thin, brown paper cups. Most drowned it with packets of sweetener and milk, disguising its true nature. That was the problem, we are all hiding the truth. I sipped, repressing my grimace.

I didn’t have to wait long, Jeremy, with his armload of green files and sporting his usual white coat soon joined me at my table.

“How are we this morning?”

“We are happy.”

“Is that so?” Jeremy lifted an eyebrow, “And why is that?”

I raised the flimsy coffee cup, my silent toast to my worthy adversary. I took a sip.

“I see,” he said, retrieving a cheap, disposable ballpoint from his jacket pocket. “And the new medication?”

I shrugged.

He flipped open my chart and began taking notes. I waited. When he looked at me, I regaled him with the fruit of my practice and smiled.

“How is it we are so happy today?”

“It’s easy. I block out the screams.”

Jeremy patted my hand.

“Sounds like we are making progress.”

Jeremy had no idea.

__________________________________________

Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

https://ko-fi.com/johawkthewriter#

Broken Promises – Thursday Threads

Jorden felt a sweet breeze touch his body. It was a sharp contrast to the stale, putrid stench inside their cell. He pushed against the big oil drum until it keeled over on its oxidized rim and he rolled it away. It took him several minutes to clear the towering barrels stacked three high next to what he had assumed was a wall. With them gone, a weathered, rusty metal-clad doorway greeted him. Between the gaping fissures around the door handle, glimpses of freedom leaked into the darkness.

He gritted his teeth and strode toward the glad rag girl cowering in the corner.

“I thought you said there was no way out?” Jorden paused his fists clenching and unclenching as he waited.

Sidera slumped, hanging her head she concentrated on the toe of her shoe as she traced patterns in the dirt.

“They leave and never return.”

“What? No waiting list for this paradise?” Jorden smirked, then grimaced as slime oozed down the walls trickling into the cracked foundation where everything disappeared.

“Wait. There have been others? Where are the keys?”

Sidera hands flew to her neck, and she dropped, crouching close to the ground. Jorden looped a finger under the chain and pulled them free.

“You ready to go?” he asked extending his hand to her.

With tears streaming down her face she looked up at him.

“The gatekeeper cannot escape unless someone comes for her.”

“I’ll come back to get you. I promise.”

“They never keep their promises.”

__________________________________________

Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

https://ko-fi.com/johawkthewriter#

Defying the Prophecy – Thursday Threads

Angerona’s lifeless hand slipped from Sirona’s grasp. It rested peacefully over her heart as she conjured a smile.

“I am sorry, my child. I tried to prepare you.  Know that his fate is tangled with your own.”

Sirona bent closer, straining to catch every word.

“Follow the Vovk Codex,” she exhaled, and the last ember faded in her coal-black eyes.

Numb, Sirona couldn’t breathe, couldn’t cry, couldn’t believe she was gone. Not now. Not when she needed her guidance to fix this. Angerona had shrouded truth in her fanciful stories of myths and legends far removed from reality. It was a childish game of Hide and Seek and pretty rewards. Until three days ago, when the threats became real.

“It’s not your fault. You did everything possible.”

The words, filtered by dark despair and red-hot anguish, seeped into her mind.  Ralph stood beside her. His presence didn’t comfort her, it only fueled her rage.

“She was lucky to live so long.”

“You imbecile. With her death, there is nothing I can do to prevent the prophecy,” Sirona rose from her spot next to Angerona to confront Ralph.

“Without her, you will die.”

“You can’t know that.”

“Were you not listening? Ralph, magic is against you and your supporters. They killed Angerona. Do you realize what they’ll do to you?”

“I don’t plan on dying.” Ralph’s face turned red and the veins in his neck throbbed.

“You haven’t got a chance.”

“The prophecy didn’t state names. There is always a chance.”

__________________________________________

Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

https://ko-fi.com/johawkthewriter#

Entering the Transcendental Curve – Thursday Threads

“It’s not an easy story,” I shifted, uncomfortable under the weight of their eyes, I studied my shaking hands. “And you’re never going to believe me.”

I peeked at Tenzin. His serene face mirrored the silent temple where we stood, surrounded by dozens of demure monks.

“Tell me what happened.”

“He said his world suddenly made sense. Then he rose and walked to the parking lot. He changed right there in front of me,” I paused, dry-mouthed as I uttered the final words, “He became a Lotus.”

The monk bowed his head, his lips moving in personal prayer. When he finished, he lifted his gaze, smiled at me, and placed his right palm on my shoulder. It was a gesture meant to comfort me, but it didn’t help.

“Samlo do not distress yourself. I have long suspected Pema would find his way to transcend this world’s constraints. He committed himself to his journey of discovering true inner peace and enlightenment. It is not surprising he would awaken and move to another dimension.  It is fitting his chosen form was a lotus blossom.”

“You don’t understand.”

“He didn’t turn into a lotus?”

“Well, yes, he did. But it wasn’t a flower.” Tenzin’s face contorted, but I couldn’t stop myself. “He became a big bright metallic orange-colored Lotus. The next thing I knew he was laying down rubber and squealing the tires. He took a lap, did a donut, then sped to the exit, leaving me in a cloud of golden smoke.”

__________________________________________

Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

https://ko-fi.com/johawkthewriter#

Betrayed – Thursday Threads

“My God, Charlene… He’s barely alive.” Contempt tainted Haley’s voice.

I didn’t respond. She dug in her tool bag, grabbed a long silver instrument, then she peeled back her palm, revealing the gaping hole in his chest.

I watched her frantic movements, letting the gun spin in my hands. She clamped lines, sopped ooze, trying to save him. I began to question my decision to call Haley. She was the best in her field. Maybe too good. I mean, what would happen if he lived?

“Charlene, will you give me a hand?”

I could tell by her tone, she wasn’t asking. She expected me to jump and do her bidding. She was my friend, but her only concern was saving him, not helping me.

“Charlene?”

“Doesn’t he deserve to die?”

“I can fix him,” she offered, almost pleading.

“Like you did last time?” My voice sounded harsh even to me.

“I’m sorry. It won’t happen again.”

“I’ve heard that before. I’d be a fool to help.”

A scenario flickered, then exploded in my mind.

“It’s been you all along, hasn’t it? You’re in love with your creation, your darling automaton. His devotion to me is killing you. You’re programming him to kill me.”

Haley’s face crinkled and felt her simmering hate.

“Yes, when you’re dead, he will love me.”

I saw his processor flicker, and his right hand grabbed her throat. He didn’t let go.

“I’m sorry,” were his last words, as I placed the gun in Haley’s lifeless hand.

__________________________________________

Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

https://ko-fi.com/johawkthewriter#

Cosmic Intervention – Thursday Threads

Darrius suspended his hand above the ancient vessel. His blood pulsed, forming a tiny pool, before he turned his palm and allowed a single drop to fall. Black liquor rose, eager, like a lover yearning to possess his beloved. As they joined, he spoke the final words.

“Nunc Ostende Te.”

The explosion blinded him. The blast rang in his ears and beat in his brain. Somehow, he was still standing in a space devoid of light. The pain radiating from his chest silenced the screaming cut in his hand.

“Sirena?”

The booming in his head faded to a silence deeper than anything he had ever experienced. He reached his hands in front of him, patting the air where the table should have been. His mind raced, contemplating nefarious scenarios. His fingertips found coarse fabric. The burlap under the bowl. His fingers explored until they touched the rough stone. Darrius sighed, relived for only a second, when amber eyes materialized, floating in the darkness.

“Who are you?”

“It was you who summoned me,” the velvet soft voice oozed, seeping into his consciousness.

“The solicitation spell should have brought Sirena.”

“So, I’m not the one you expected?”

“Am I dead?”

“Hardly, darling,” the eyes blinked, hinting at seduction.

“Where’s Sirena?”

“She doesn’t love you, but I do.”

The ache in Darrius’ chest sank to the pit of his stomach.

“Thanks to your evil desires, you’ll have Eternity to experience my dark passions instead. Sirena is too good for the likes of you.”

__________________________________________

Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

https://ko-fi.com/johawkthewriter#

Repeating History – Thursday Threads

Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

I took the stairs, two at a time, stuffing my gun into its holster as I tried to ignore the heavy strap digging into my shoulder. It was early, and I prayed as I approached her apartment.

“Please, be awake.”

Closing the door softly, I listened. Someone was in the kitchen. Relief washed over me as I peered around the doorjamb.  Her small, frail frame bent over the sink. The housedress hung on her like a worn rag, and white nurse shoes appeared too big for her thin legs to move. It was an illusion I didn’t take for granted. She possessed formidable strength.

“Yanya, we must go.”

She turned, and the butcher knife’s point kissed my neck. Her steady gaze locked with mine, then the corner of her lip curled into a smile.

“How many times have I told you not to sneak up on me?” she asked, as she dropped the knife to punch my arm.

“They’re coming again, aren’t they?” Her gnarled fingers trembled as she covered her mouth.

“Yes.”

“Solders,” she said, spitting the word.

She wiped her hands on a towel and I followed her to her bedroom. Under the bed was her bugout bag. She paused, stroking the oak box on the bedside table. She lifted the lid and caressed the pictures inside.

“You sure we can’t take my memories? Did I tell you about the time your grandfather…?”

“I have heard it all before, Yanya,” I interrupted.

“So have I. So. Have. I.”

__________________________________________

Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

https://ko-fi.com/johawkthewriter#