Mouthy Buddha

📅 Published on December 13, 2020

“Mouthy Buddha”

Written by Irving Crane
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on CreepypastaStories.com are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

ESTIMATED READING TIME — 22 minutes

Rating: 9.75/10. From 4 votes.
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So, like I was saying, genetics aren’t very kind. They either go all into your brain or all into your body.

The latest Facebook quiz told me that I’m the reincarnation of Stephen Hawking. I could have told you that. Why else would I have gotten beaten up so much in high school?

Which by default means that there weren’t any leftovers to give me good looks. I look like a walrus had a rape baby with a butternut squash. The squash named me John. John Lenasca. I’m thirty-five years old. I’m five foot eight, nearly as wide, and my hair sits atop my head like a block of mousy ramen. My glasses are square and thick, and I generally pull off an appearance that says, “He must do something off to the side.”

And you know what, that’s right. I do. I make films. And let me just say that Windows Movie Maker is a sorely, sorely underrated tool for producing films. (No, Microsoft isn’t paying me to say this) It’s free and some of those transition effects are just as sweet as it gets. And it does what any other video editing software does: crafts a message.

To me, a film is just a message. It’s the next evolution of the pop-up book. Okay, Johnny boy, here’s your book about the three little pigs, and oh, the houses pop up! Woo! How totally unrelated to the message of the story, but it’s gotten your attention! When the message actually does come along, you won’t know what hit you and you’ll take in the whole thing!

I landed a pretty hot girlfriend for a man my age. I sold her on my filmmaker status. She stuck with me after she found out that I wasn’t a successful filmmaker. She just started hitting me a lot.

So, about my films. The haters want to call them slideshows, but a bona fide slideshow has no substance. Remember, I have a message in my films. I can give you an idea what they’re about just by the titles. Don’t worry, no spoilers here.

“The Crop Circles of North Dakota.”

“Super-Secret Code: The Illuminati and the Fortune Cookie Industry.”

“What UFO’s Tell Us by the Colors of Their Lights.”

“How to Copulate With the Ghosts of Royalty Throughout History.”

I know what you’re thinking. Daring, innovative content that probes the most tender places in the panties of the truth. And that’s what you should be thinking. You can’t just close your eyes to the secrets of the universe. Reality is a lifelong experience. So know it. Own it. Find out what makes it tick.

When it comes to the truth, I’m like a treasure hunter in the desert. I don’t stop digging when I find the treasure chest. No, I set it aside and I keep going, you know? Like, how much deeper does this go? Before I hit bedrock and there’s nothing else?

So my films try to get to that bedrock of truth. My shovels may be shaped funny and the holes I dig with them may go at funny angles, but that’s what it takes.

You might be wondering, so John. If you’re this rock star filmmaker, then what are you doing for cash flow in the meantime?

I’m an assistant manager at Burger Burglar.

It fits in with my films in a cruel way. Remember how I said that I live for finding the undiluted truth? Well, you get part of it working in fast food. That’s where you really get to see the truth about people.

There’s something about fast food that makes people forget who they are and it reduces them to their basest and most primordial brain functions.

They’re so caught up in the throes of being on the verge of gratification that they can’t communicate worth a pickled piss.

“Which Burger combo again, sir?”

“That one.”

“Sir, which one are you pointing at?”

That one.”

“Which combo number is it?”

“The one with the brown chicken, not the orange.”

“What dessert were you wanting?”

“Blue, please. I want blue.”

So yeah, I prefer my film projects to my day job.

My third job was staying sane long enough to have enough left in me to do my films any justice.

I started seeing all sorts of little tell-tale signs that I was coming unhinged. You can be the bigger man, but many a big thing has been taken down by smaller things. Viruses take down humans. Termites take down houses.

Stupid people reduce intelligent people to breakdowns. If you don’t understand public shooters, work in fast food, Holy Jesus and Mustard. The customers want one of everything on the menu for free if you get one detail of their order wrong.

The kids these places hire aren’t much smarter than the cows that went into the meat grinder with their eyes wide open.

Things came to a head one weekend in July when the heat was intense and Shannon wanted me to put the AC unit in one of the windows. My apartment is on the tenth floor of the biggest corpse cock of an apartment building. One of those places that still have those old-timey radiators.

The windows weren’t quite what they used to be back in 1912. I had all of ‘em open so the place could breathe and I was trying to get Shannon’s obscenely bulky and retro AC into the most stable window. Note that I didn’t say stable. Just most stable. I think a hare-lip baby gets a better grip on a titty than this window’s got a grip on that damn AC.

All the while I’m doing this, Shannon is standing over me the way a child does over an anthill with a magnifying glass, letting me know how hot it was in the apartment and that I’ve waited to do this at the last minute when the place feels like the interior of the devil’s thorny anus and it’s all another certified paper in the stack of evidence that I don’t really love her.

I didn’t quite agree with her.

As soon as the window had a feather’s grip on the AC, I stood to face Shannon and artfully convey my own thoughts.

Her orange fluffy cat had gone out one of the windows to walk the crumbling decorative bricks that jutted from the wall. He must have seen the AC as the roomiest perch because that’s where he jumped.

You know those stories about cats that fell from great heights and survived without a hitch?

This isn’t one of those stories.

An old crazy cat lady was on the sidewalk below in time to catch the spray of stuff with orange fur attached to it. One of the paws bounced and went down her cleavage like a lucky rabbit’s foot without a chain.

So in my periphery I heard MROWROWR-splat, and “Gaaaaaaaahhhhh!!”

Then the AC slipped out. The aftermath determined that the lady wasn’t paying attention.

Just like that, my girlfriend’s cat died one minute and I don’t know how many more cats were orphaned the next.

I wasn’t all that surprised when night fell and I received an inebriated video from Shannon. She was… unclad…and looked into her phone and told me that she had a real “slide” show for me. Some guy I didn’t recognize was behind her and he unzipped his pants.

I couldn’t keep watching.

I checked my YouTube channel. No new views. Not for three weeks.

I needed something to help me cope with the simple act of existing. For once, Shannon might have given me the right idea. Alcohol.

Nah. I just bawled my ever-lovin’ eyes after the Merlot bottle was empty.

I stalked a coworker’s Facebook. Rebecca. She was everything Shannon wasn’t: Kind. Sweet. Nineteen. Under two-hundred pounds.

Somewhere between blacking out and sleeping off a hangover, I decided it was time for a better coping strategy.

Meditation seemed like a logical choice. It masquerades under the term “mindfulness” in mainstream magazines, but “Meditation” carries a bit more mysticism and rightfully so.

I wasn’t trying to reach enlightenment. I just wanted to salvage my sanity.

Meditation is supposed to be like a psychic reboot, changing the software of my mind’s operating system. So what did I have to lose?

Heh. If only I knew.

I didn’t expect much. I was breaking too many of the established rules of meditation. I’m shaped like a gumdrop, so there was no way I was going to sit cross-legged on the floor, not without coming out of a trance to find that my legs atrophied and fell off. I sat in my old lazy chair, which looked like a mummy with how much duct tape was holding it together. That was enough mysticism for me right there. The La-Z-Boy pharaoh.

The first session was ok, I guess. I just wasn’t sure if I was doing it right. The guided recording told me to see my thoughts as bubbles that left my head and floated away, as if they were something separate from me as a whole. A different notion for me at the time, since, well, if your thoughts aren’t you, then what is?

By the second session, I was getting the hang of it. My concerns and anxieties and worries and OCD issues were floating away as soon as they were in my mind’s eye. And I was finding things I had forgotten about, if I had ever known them to begin with. Quiet. Peace. This emptiness of mind filled the absence left by Shannon. It was very enjoyable. On my worst of days I could still find some stillness.

Like a glassy pond on a cloudy day. Sure things were gloomy but there wasn’t even a ripple. So it was the same with me right after meditating.

I became addicted. Looking to meditate more often. I spent my breaks at work meditating. I usually scratched out ideas for a film on the back of my receipt or worried myself in circles over various issues. Not anymore.

I felt my inspiration returning. I was getting ideas for films faster than I could write them down. I also started making new connections in the material of past films.

I revisited some of my notes on one of the oldest pyramids. I had made it a point to collect as much material as possible on the occurrences that were chalked up to supernatural phenomena – sights, sounds, freak accidents, And so forth. I mapped out where they took place on a blown-up aerial photograph of the pyramid, top-down. Where the incidents are plotted on the photo, it looks like a constellation. I then realized that it wasn’t celestial. It was mathematical. Geometric.

It was a shape that fit into everything I’ve read about Sacred Geometry. But where? Several hours on Google turned up many shapes and configurations that came close, but didn’t quite match. The stress and fatigue that I had been feeling raised off of my shoulders a few inches. The walls that were closing in on my filmmaking suddenly turned into doors. I was on to something.

Huh. Meditation didn’t just relax my mind. It changed the way I process things.

One session of meditation, things changed permanently.

I started the same way as always. Breathe in, count to ten, breathe out, count to ten. By then I didn’t even consciously count. I had no thoughts. Just the sensation of air entering and leaving.

My breath soon became the gentle roar of distant waves. Whoosh, crashing ashore, whoosh, withdrawing back. I opened my eyes to find myself in my chair, except I wasn’t in my living room. I was on a cliff, an outcropping of rock that plunged down into a vast ocean, the waves endlessly making noise against the stone surface. Crash, forth, whoosh, back.

I allowed room for one conscious thought. I wanted to be someplace where I felt comfortable. At home. Fulfilling. Comforting. My head swam and I felt the impulse to shoot out an arm and steady myself. But how was I going to fall? I was in my chair, laid back. But the falling sensation came and when I opened my eyes, I saw that I was staring up at a ceiling I didn’t recognize. I put out my arms to push myself up. I couldn’t feel the floor. I raised my head, touching my chin to my chest. I did this just in time to see Rebecca come out of a room at the far end of a hallway. Music poured out of that room along with steam. She had a towel around her waist but her breasts were free and everything from the waist up was alive with movement in time to the music. I was lying right in the middle of the hallway and she was going to come right to me. I panicked. Somehow I couldn’t move. I waited for the scream.

It never happened. She walked over me, I saw her beauty sail directly overhead. After that shock was over, I realized that she didn’t collide with me. Her feet touched the floor right through my body.

I looked up at the opposite end of the hall and got an upside-down view of the most beautiful ass in the world. Her towel was hitched together above her tailbone and stretched open. Her red hair whipped side to side with the rhythm. I was terrified and electrified. I flailed about until my body slowly floated up and righted itself. I felt like I was swimming. I stood up facing the bathroom door. If I didn’t focus, my movements didn’t register in the outside world. I could flail for all I was worth and not move an inch.

She ran through me from behind, apparently forgetting something in the bathroom. She was completely nude and trotting. No time to keep the towel, I guess. I was captivated by that lily-white skin, broken only by a few dark freckles on her shoulders and two really dark ones on her neck. She grabbed something and went back to wherever she came from, right through me again.

I hoped she would do this several more times, but she must not have forgotten anything else.

I began moving around, swimming clumsily through the hall. After I saw some pictures and saw the overall well-worn look of the hall, it hit me. I was in Rebecca’s house. As soon as I had this thought, a woman that must have been her mom passed through the hall. I couldn’t have felt more exposed.

Was this a dream? Or… was this perhaps, astral projection? My fears were starting to subside and my boldness was starting to outweigh my guilt.

I tried to pivot. I could.

I faced the only door at the other end of the hallway. I tried to swim forward.

I did.

I passed through the door and I was in a room that couldn’t have belonged to anyone else but Rebecca. She was lying on her bed, on her stomach. Still naked. Looking at her phone. I felt so dirty but I felt so… so… never mind.

I didn’t feel it for long. I heard someone clear their throat and I turned to see a skeleton in a slate-gray suit and tie with a white shirt.

Well, I thought he was a skeleton. But when he brought up his hands to drag on a cigarette, I realized that he was tattooed head to toe in bones. I could see the meat of his hands. The detail of the skull on his face was chillingly fascinating. He wasn’t a pretty sight, and the heavy reflective shades hid what I thought could have been empty eye sockets.

I wondered if he was Rebecca’s father. He was throwing her a very stern stare. It slowly crept into my mind that he wasn’t looking at her… but… at me. Nah, he couldn’t be…

“Yes, I can see you,” he said.

And then I felt everything that was probably ever felt by creepy men bagged by the likes of Chris Hansen.

“You really shouldn’t be ogling her like that. You’re old enough to be her father,” he stated flatly.

I nearly jumped out of my skin at being addressed so directly.

“Who are you?” I demanded, Suddenly feeling defensive of Rebecca, never mind the fact that I was just drooling over her in her own room.

He flicked his cigarette and a spew of embers spiraled downward, where they took to the air just before hitting the ground and became glowing orange gnats. They were able to inflict my astral body with bites. I swatted at them, but they were too quick. They were able to dive in and bite and be off before my hand could flatten them.

Oh, and they burned.

“Agh! Ouch! Oh, God!”

“Naughty boy,” the stranger grunted.

“Call off your bugs!” I yelled.

“Call off your films,” he returned.

That’s when I started to believe that this was just a dream. I still wanted to put the dream to use. I was aware that I was dreaming. Which made it a lucid dream. Which meant that by speaking to dream characters, I would be having a dialogue with my subconscious.

Still swatting at the searing gnats, I floated over to the stranger.

“Excuse me sir, but this is my dream, which means you’re a part of me. I’d like to know what part of me you rep–”

He exhaled a plume of smoke that erupted from his face like a cannonball in the shape of a screaming skull. If souls had bowels, I would have shit myself. The spectral projectile knocked me head over heels, somersaulting outside the house. I was dismayed both from the sucker-punch and from being removed from the presence of the naked Rebecca.

I didn’t have long to think, as shrieking smoke skulls were now circling the house like a swarm of angry hornets. Their eye sockets burned with white flames that I’m pretty sure were trained on me.

“Well, Fuckasaurus Rex,” I said.

The skulls must have been offended by the F-Bomb. Each of them beelined me. I was knocked around like a June Beetle at the mercy of tennis racquets. Disoriented and blind from the chaos, I tried finding my silver cord and pulling myself along like a celestial safety rope. After thinking I would never get out of the situation I was in, my silver cord suddenly retracted like a tape measure and I was back in my apartment in my recliner. My eyes flew open at the sound of my cell ringing. I quietly thanked whoever was at the other end of the call for yanking me out of such a horrible dream. I must have accidentally fallen asleep.

“Hello?”

Total silence.

I figured that the call had dropped.

Getting out of the recliner wasn’t easy. My physical body felt banged up like it had been with me for the skull gangbang in my dream. I inspected myself for bruises and found none.

I faced my breakfast of Pop-Tarts and coffee with a blank stare and an even more blank mind. Maybe there was such a thing as too much meditation. It was like psychic alcohol. I kept feeling good, so I kept going and then suddenly, whoooooaaaa there, Killer.

The emptiness that filled my mind was just enough to displace the existential crises of the situation with my girlfriend, her cat, the air conditioner, and the flames that were rapidly spreading from the whole situation. Did the police lift my fingerprints from the grubby knobs and buttons on the air unit? Did they run the contact info on the cat’s collar? Would they come asking for a motive in dropping a ridonkulous air conditioner on a crazy cat lady? Would they force me to adopt all of her cats?

The stress was like a parasitic snail trying to invade my shell with its pokey-rapey proboscis of panic. I reacted the way I normally do.

I got to work on one of my films.

I began to remember the things I had pieced together about the pyramids and Sacred Geometry. I did the lazy thing and looked for whatever stills I had of pyramids and the like. Then I looked at my music collection for anything exotic sounding enough to go with such pictures. I was piecing together my first few thoughts when the lights in my apartment began to flicker.

The display of my laptop cut out for a few seconds. I thought I was looking at a glitched-out screen. An orange light appeared in a corner of the screen. Was it a virus? A game? Just as soon as I realized it was a reflection of something behind me… a cigarette, it’s feeble light tracing out the frames of very reflective sunglasses… the screen was back on.

And my project was gone. I thought that maybe it had just been minimized. No, it was actually gone. All the associated files were gone also.

“The hell?” I yelled with my hands in the air like a normal person watching his football team do something stupid.

Was I really going to have to comb through Yahoo! Image Search again? Was I really going to have to convert YouTube videos to mp3 for background music… again?

My outrage gave me a bowel movement that must have been congealing for hours.

I rushed to the water closet to free the prairie dog. I was staring through the bathroom doorway when the door, well, just sorta slammed shut. There I saw myself in the full-length mirror behind the door, looking like a dead body with its pants around its ankles. The smoking skeleton stood behind the toilet. I may or may not have spiraled in the air and flung my fudgey cargo like one of those manure spreaders. Facing my toilet, there was nothing behind it but the bathroom wall.

My body was heavy with fatigue and yet electric with adrenaline.

That’s when I decided it was time to get to work and get the insanity out of my system.

I don’t think I could ever remember a time when the smell of frying beef and dumb fat kids was comforting. It certainly was that day.

Rebecca was the first person to make eye contact with me. Her gorgeous eyes were wide and concerned. But not because she had seen my soul peeping on her.

“John!” she shouted over the din of impatient customers.

“Almost everyone has called in sick! There’s barely enough of us to man the kitchen and the registers both!” She rapid-fired these words before a “How-kin-I-help-you?” to the next frowning fat-ass in a long line of frowning fat-asses.

Ever the glorified slave, I jumped in and did triple-duty with my crew. My world became a blur of bags, babbling headsets, the sting of fryer grease, and angry fat faces itching for their next heart attack.

Those are the moments in which I blank out by instinct. I was so in the flow that I didn’t hear Mike in the kitchen curse and say something about the spatula disappearing.

Before long, I felt like I was going to piss myself. I ran to the restroom. As per usual, the stress-induced waterfall also brought on a mudslide, so I had to sit.

Then a hot spatula flew under the stall door and hit my feet.

“Agh!” I yelled.

I felt the blood leave my head when I saw embers fall to the floor just outside the stall door. I heard footsteps without seeing any feet. I also heard a voice. Gruff and low.

“Naughty boy,” it said.

At a certain point, fear turns to anger. I had reached that point, and I pulled up my pants and came out of that stall swinging. There was nobody. Until I got to the mirror. I was washing my hands, and I looked up and saw the tattooed man from my dream.

“You’re… You’re…” I stammered.

“I’m not your dream character. And this…” he gestured at my rotund body and the bathroom.

“…is no dream.”

He tugged on the lapels of his suit coat.

“I’m Neville. I’m from somewhere much worse than your sleeping brain. Unless you want to see my hometown up close and personal, you’ll call off your film projects or change your subject matter. Pronto.”

A gelatinous black something slithered out from behind one of the lenses of his sunglasses and sat on top of his bald head like a toupee of black mucus. He snapped his fingers and the slime worked its way down his leg, up one of the urinals behind him, and it shot out like the tongue of some demonic frog and grabbed my head. The slime contracted and rammed my head against the porcelain, and I’m told they found me with my face in the urinal like I had passed out trying to eat the powder-scented cake.

I may have had a concussion. I didn’t go to the hospital to find out for sure. Instead, I went straight home and began working on rebuilding my film project in Windows Movie Maker. Nobody, and I mean nobody tells me what I can and cannot include in my films. Especially any of my dream figures that have the fucking audacity to say they aren’t one of my dream figures.

Retracing my steps within the project was lengthy, but steady. I found the same images. I found the same music. I was able to work up the same diagram and plot points and make it into a geometric configuration.

I stayed up until the wee hours typing the script, recording it, and compiling it all into a rushed but otherwise finished video.

Then I uploaded it.

I fell asleep in my computer chair and slept rather well.

I woke up earlier than I expected, probably owing to being slumped in my chair. There was time to make breakfast. I put on the coffee and dunked bread into the toaster. Yes sir, this day was going to be mine.

I went to pour the coffee when the coffee decided to suddenly grab my mug and throw it at my face. Understandably enough, I yelled. The coffee slurped onto the floor and crawled up the pant leg of the demonic Neville who tapped his cigarette and muttered about something tickling.

He was smoking in my apartment!

I pretty much had enough and I picked up my broom and swung it at Neville. He caught it like I was swinging a pool noodle. He kicked me backwards. The kinetic black gelatin rushed behind me and fanned out into a super-sticky web in time to catch me and there I was. Like a spider’s lunch.

“John Lenasca,” he began.

“Seeker of forbidden knowledge,”

He swung the broom around until it became a large viper with vivid copper eyes and a long black tongue that tasted the air.

“Finder of forbidden knowledge,”

He held the viper by the tail and let it put its snout in my face. The tongue tickled my cheek.

“Disseminator of forbidden knowledge,”

I opened my mouth to say something, but the viper seized on the moment to grab my tongue. I felt the fangs puncture the soft tissue and swell with poison. I screamed the most honest scream I knew.

“You’re a few turns and tumbles from solving reality’s Rubik’s cube and finding out what the very fabric of reality is woven from.”

He snapped his wrist and the viper became a sharp metal hook that was pierced through my tongue. He pulled on it, bringing my bulging eyes within an inch of his glasses. I could see my reflection. I looked like a frightened farm animal.

“And you’re too stupid to know a warning when you see one.”

He took his cigarette from his tattooed lips. I was close enough to see that the cherry was a spectral face that looked as terrified as I did. He extinguished it on my tongue and I couldn’t fight off the urge to convulse. The pain was tremendous.

He blew smoke up my nostrils that was ten times more acrid than anything I’ve ever smelled off a cig.

He made eyes at me like he was either going to kiss me or bite my face off.

“Looks like we’re just going to have to take you apart, brick by brick, you know? Like a Jenga tower. A little pain here. A little sleep deprivation there. Add a dash of gnawing dread and good ol’ jump scares and, well, you’ll be too unraveled to spin any more yarns about the secrets of the universe.”

The opposite end of the hook grew a spiked phantom chain that he flung up into the ceiling around some invisible beam or rafter and caught the end as it came back down. He gave it a tug and I was hoisted up into the air, hanging by my impaled tongue. I expected it to tear out of my head.

“You won’t remember your own name when I’m done with you,” he said. He gave the chain a yank and my face smashed into the ceiling.

He did this several more times until I couldn’t see or hear anything.

I didn’t make it to work. I didn’t make it to the bathroom either. I lay there on my kitchen floor, a brain in a broken box, in a spreading puddle of my own piss. I thought he had stuffed a sock in my mouth or something. Nope. It was my swollen tongue.

I wanted to tell someone about this development in my filmmaking career. But who would believe me? Who would even be able to understand me when I talked?

Do you think I got out the yellow pages? Nope. Facebook is so much better.

* * * * * *

I expected what I saw in the movies. A run-down hole in the wall full of old books, beaded curtains, and an old crone with a Transylvanian accent. It turned out to be a very modern and comfortable little shop. The walls were white and so was the rest of the overall color scheme. Large windows allowed for generous sunbeams. The sign out front was worthy of a Hallmark store, its swirling wine-colored letters spelling out “Elle Vin’s Awakening Station.”

Elle Vin herself was, well… kinda hot. She was a petite blonde with crow’s feet only just beginning to suggest themselves in her chestnut eyes.

I thought I smelled exotic incense in the air. Turns out it was the tea that she had steeping in her cup. There was something about her that suggested she was no charlatan. Before we had even exchanged words, I already felt like I could trust her. At the very least, if she couldn’t help me, it wouldn’t be because she couldn’t try.

She looked up from her tarot cards and smiled warmly.

“Hello, how can I help you today?”

No sooner had she said the words than her smile began to drop. Yessir, I looked bad.

“Goodness gracious, you poor thing. What happened to you? Do I need to call the police?”

I gestured no. With my tongue swollen up like a tomato, I barely managed one word: “Hom-ted.” Comprehension came over her eyes.

“Come over here and I’ll give you a reading right away.”

She sat me down before a very interesting configuration of a bowl of water with a mirror positioned in the bottom of it. On the right side of the mirror were two crystals.

“I’m going to ask you to put your hand on one of the crystals and lean over the bowl, but don’t look into it.”

I nodded.

I could tell that she was peering intently into the bowl, her eyes lit up with significance.

Then she was blinking, as if what she saw was too much for her eyes to take in. She eyed me for a long moment.

“You’re prepared to believe me if I tell you something… extreme?”

I nodded as gravely as I could.

She leaned forward with her chin on the tips of her fingers.

“You’ve caught the attention of a very high-tier demon.”

“No thip, Therlop!” I sputtered. I mean, what was she going to tell me next? Water’s wet?

“But I don’t understand. This is like the President of the United States leaving the White House to beat up a homeless man in Alaska.”

Her eyes narrowed at me. “You know something. Something that makes this presence feel threatened. Or intimidated.”

I gestured like I was scribbling in the air. She held up a finger and left the table. She came back with a legal pad and a pen.

I managed to begin making the sacred geometric shape I had been working on. I had to build it from the bottom up. The single plot points. Then the lines. It was when the lines began to take shape that she arrested my drawing hand. Her eyes were boring into mine with warning. And fear.

“You’re staying here tonight if you want to live,” she said in a low voice.

Soon there was salt everywhere. Really exotic looking stuff. Big and chunky and slightly pink. It was on the windowsills. The blinds were turned so that they would hold some of the salt like troughs.

She smeared all kinds of smelly shit on me. And when I say shit, I mean herbs and other things. I don’t think any of it was literal shit. I wasn’t gonna ask.

Best of all, she gave me something that cut down the swelling of my tongue. I could talk again. My first intelligible words were, “Thank you.”

She smiled. I couldn’t tell if the look in her eyes was warmth or pity.

“Who else have you shown what you drew for me earlier?”

“Nobody directly. I made a video about it and…”

Her eyes widened at my words.

“…I uploaded it to my YouTube Channel. I mean… I made it a point to state that what I was talking about was speculation.”

The way she held herself after she heard that… She almost looked like she regretted having anything to do with me.

“Here’s the short version. I don’t know how you learned what you know. But you’re one step away from becoming the first man to go to sleep and dream of picking a flower and then wake up with it in your hand.”

I blinked.

“And that means knowing what makes up the threads of time and space, and knowing how to unravel them and rearrange them.”

“Bullshit,” I said.

She just smiled.

“You’ve pretty much broadcasted knowledge that only angels and demons know. An exclusive branch of them, at that. That’s like learning the nuclear codes and posting them on Reddit. You’ve wounded some egos out there, since you figured it out entirely on your own.”

Great. My films were striking a nerve on a supernatural level. I felt proud of myself.

Until night.

Windows rattled. Lights flickered. Blinds swayed. But the barriers of salt held fast. I bared my teeth at the commotion.

“Hell can take you and your parlor tricks back, Neville!” I shouted, sounding girlier than I hoped.

“What the hell am I supposed to do with this pizza then?” came a voice from behind the front door.

“Oh.”

I opened the door to see the most confused-looking Domino’s delivery driver I had ever seen.

“Sorry. Uh, the D&D crew is getting a little carried away tonight.”

He nodded as I tipped him, the look not leaving his face. He saluted with one hand and left.

Elle came into my makeshift sleep space. She wore a furry white robe that she swore was synthetic.

“Did I hear the door open?”

“Yeah, sorry about that. I ordered pizza.”

“I told you not to open that door for anyone!”

“Sorry, the vegan food isn’t keeping me full for more than ten minutes at a time.”

She grabbed her head, looking down. Then froze.

“What did you do to my circle of protections?”

“Oh, you mean the –”

“Yes, yes! The white chalk layer! You drew in it!”

“I figured just in case the forces-that-be actually make it inside, we could give them something special. I’ve studied my notes through Google Drive. No, really. I think I might have made something cool here.”

The woman did what most women do to me at least once. (Hey, get out of the gutter.) She swatted the back of my head. The pizza box in my hand flew open and a pseudopod of black foulness shot out and knocked Elle’s head off in a clean separation. Her blood jetted onto her hard work laid out on the floor around me. The blackness from the pizza box grew into the towering shape of Neville, who looked even more sinister than before.

He looked me up and down and shook his head.

“I was going to slowly tear your mind apart. Now I think I’ll drag you to Hell with me and we’ll burn that body in very, very creative ways. You have more square feet of flesh than the average bear, which means you have more pain receptors to play with.”

He sauntered towards me.

“I’m saving your blood for my best wine glass.”

I flicked out a knife I had hidden.

“Looks like you’re getting just a few drops.”

And with that I slashed my own throat, my spewing blood mingling with Elle’s. I registered the falter in Neville’s air of self-assurance. I managed to take my palm and douse it in my hot blood and stamp a few prints along the white chalk outline.

“You’re no sorcerer–”

His words were cut off as the pool of mingled blood launched twelve furious cats at him. Cats using the blood to manifest. The very cats that were orphaned by Shannon’s air conditioner. Oh boy, were they pissed about starving to death. The blood-cats mauled Neville into a pile of ashes. The way he cried as he plummeted down back toward his home told me that he wasn’t going to receive a successful debriefing.

I floated above my body that was bleeding out. I was mildly surprised to find that I felt an upward tug. I could resist it, but it was slowly mounting with strength.

So you know what? I visited Rebecca to tell her goodbye. She was sleeping on her side with her face nuzzled into her pillow. I gave her a little speech that may or may not have sounded as creepy as it was wistful. Not that she could hear me. I finished with telling her that I hoped that she would make management someday. By then, the upward tug was irresistible, and I stopped fighting it. The night was full of stars, and they only got more breathtaking on the way up.

Rating: 9.75/10. From 4 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Written by Irving Crane
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Irving Crane


Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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