Monday, October 26, 2020

The Monsters Without: Chapter Two (currently untitled) continued again

Note: I strongly suggest going back and reading the earlier parts of this before proceeding, especially the beginning of this chapter.

Having to move to another school was, technically, a bad thing. But he hated the school he was in, and he didn’t really want to go back there after what he’d seen. He didn’t know yet that the newer school would be worse, a school of kids deemed too problematic to be normal classrooms. The newer school would also be better. He would be allowed to, mostly, do his own thing at his own pace. He would finally make some friends with other students who were smart and troublesome and, though they would be tormented by delinquents, actual troublemakers, and violent offenders; he would not be alone. For the first time. But that was still the future.

Before he could get there, he had to see counselors and therapists, all of whom would be trying to figure out what caused his… “episode” and none of them being able to do it. They wanted to fit him into some kind of troubled box, but all they could really find was a fairly normal book nerd of a kid who had an episode of thinking he saw monsters. Almost universally, they decided he had an overactive imagination and should probably not read so much. Or, at least, find less fantastic books to read.

All of this therapy cost his mother quite a bit and having to get him to his new school every morning proved challenging. It was a 45 minute drive without traffic, and she had to drop him off more than an hour before school started so that she could get to work on time, which she hated doing, but that was the only option. Then he had to wait three or more hours everyday for her to be able to pick him up. She felt like she was failing as a parent and couldn’t figure out where she had gone wrong. Everything went back to the postman, and she developed an intense hatred for him and everything he represented.

Jeremiah knew none of this. He loved his mother and thought she was a great mom. He didn’t know about or understand the ideals she was trying to live up to, and, more so, didn’t understand how much she had changed over the past few years. He also had no one to compare her to, not really. There was not much parental participation in the schools after his first one. He just didn’t understand, yet, what bitterness, rage, and hate can do to a person.

What Jeremiah did know, in some vague way, is that he had now seen monsters twice. He believed in the monsters. He knew that if he ever saw them again that he would need to not freak out the way he had the last two times. He needed to know where they were coming from and where they were going away to. He needed to know how to stop the bad things from happening every time he saw them. He knew enough to know that when he saw monsters things got worse for his mom, and he needed to keep that from happening again.

And now for the fine print:
If you enjoyed this, please share it. Tweet or link it on facebook or whatever. It helps.
Also, if you really enjoyed it, consider really helping by purchasing one of my published books. There's plenty to choose from. If you need a recommendation, let me know.

Friday, October 23, 2020

The Monsters Without: Chapter Two (currently untitled) continued

 Note: I strongly suggest going back and reading the earlier parts of this before proceeding, especially the beginning of this chapter.

But everyone was monsters! Where the teacher had been was a slimy, green squid with rulers in every tentacle. It was swatting the rulers at the… Nearly every desk had some kind of slug creature in it. They were whining and wailing and flailing around. There were a few of the actual students left in the room, all cowering in their desks, Cedric coated with slime and some kind of white tinge to his skin. This, of course, is what he would remember later, what his memory would stamp in his brain so that he could never forget it. In the moment, what he was doing was screaming and trying to run away, trying to get out of his desk so that he could run away. Or cower in the corner since running away would have meant running through the room full of monsters and the squid-monster was looking at him with bright green eyes filled with loathing and moving toward him…

He would not, later, remember kicking his teacher in the face as she came at him. Not even the teacher knew what her intent had been in trying to close with a screaming and flailing student. She should have stayed back and called for assistance but, instead, she took a foot to the chin, bit off the end of her tongue, and had two teeth knocked out. She used that to get Jeremiah expelled, framing it as a personal, pre-meditated attack.

It didn’t matter that the on-duty police offer had to call for help with the hysterical child and that he was clearly having some kind of breakdown. EMTs had to be called in to hold him down and sedate him. Jeremiah would remember none of that, either. And he would spend the next several hours unconscious, waking only to find himself strapped down to a bed and under “observation and evaluation.”

His mother was there when he woke up, sitting next to his bed. He didn’t realize that at first because the first thing he did was panic at his restraints and not knowing where he was. He hadn’t even remembered the monsters yet. He just wanted up and out, so, before his mother knew he was awake – she wasn’t actually paying very close attention after sitting there for almost three hours – he was already screaming and jerking against his restraints.

She was unable to get her hand into his and get him to hear anything she was saying before the nurses had burst into the room, shoving her out of the way, and were injecting him with more drugs. He did calm down, though. So calm that he was unable to realize that it was his mother in the room with him, not for hours more when he started coming out from under the influence of the drugs.

What he did remember, once he was clear-headed enough to think, was the first time he had seen a monster. He remembered that that is what caused everything with the mailman, not that the mailman had scared him. He hadn’t even seen the mailman until his mother had dragged him out of the closet. Now he had seen monsters again, and it scared him, and it scared him to think of what bad things might happen next because of it.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Helstrom: Mother's Little Helpers (Ep. 1.01)


Let's have a little context before I get into this, shall we?

Helstrom is a Marvel property. No, Marvel does not have their name attached to it. Horror is not what Marvel is known for, especially not these days with their bright and shiny super heroes having so much success. Marvel has never been exactly successful with doing horror in their comics. We can call it being a victim of their own success.

Marvel's well-defined universe and tight continuity never left a lot of room for horror. When you reduce hell to just another dimension, it takes the horror out of the evil. Lots of things are evil, after all (just look at the current administration).

I don't have a lot of knowledge about the origins of Daimon Helstrom in the comics (and I'm only, on purpose, going to go off of the knowledge I already have, pre-research, because most people won't have a clue about the character at all). I know that in his early iterations he was known as the "Son of Satan," or some such. I don't know if it was literally supposed to be Satan or not, and it doesn't really matter. Helstrom was a character who never really caught on. Which brings us up to the 90s...

The 90s brought us a new surge of horror in comics, something that had been absent, on the whole, for more than a decade at least. Marvel brought Ghost Rider back and, with him, a slew of "supernatural" beings and DC had The Sandman and Hellblazer and, then, the whole Vertigo thing. But, see, Ghost Rider, at its core, was still a super hero comic and so were all of the related titles that came after. Marvel wanted to get its feet into the horror genre and, so, they brought back Hellstrom. The comic was called, completely unironically, Hellstorm.

I have that series, probably the whole run. I don't remember it very well other than that I thought it was pretty good... at first... until it became what Marvel does: a superhero book. The art was dark and atmospheric, but Marvel just didn't have a grip on horror and how to cling to it. Their universe was too established and nothing was what we think of as "supernatural," except in the very literal definition of the word. The series didn't last and Daimon Helstrom faded back into obscurity.

That was then. I have no idea what's going on in comic books these days, so maybe he has a new series to accompany his new TV show. Yeah, I could look it up, but I try to keep my nose as much away from comics as I can, because I can't afford to get sucked back into them, not until I get rid of a buttload of the ones I already have. Look, if you saw my garage, you'd understand.

Let's just say that I was completely surprised when I saw this was coming out on Hulu and more surprised not to see Marvel's name attached to it. Because it is Marvel's Helstrom, not just Hulu stealing the name. But see, Marvel isn't known for horror or for shows with mature content, which this show is full of. You can't have a bunch of six-year-olds watching a show like this after being allowed by unsuspecting parents because it said "Marvel." Also, it gives Marvel a chance to test the waters in the horror genre again, in TV this time.

And this is an interesting thing because DC, who has always had a better handle on horror, has been failing with their darker shows the last few years. Hellblazer didn't last a season. Preacher... well, I don't know exactly what to say about Preacher. It's dark but it doesn't really get to horror. It's just vampires and gore and stuff. What I'm saying is that DC has been struggling in an area they have traditionally been much better at than Marvel, but, then, DC is just struggling. I bet they have a lot riding on this new Sandman series that just went into production.

So if this new Helstrom TV show does well...? Who knows. Maybe we'll get some dark, supernatural stuff integrated into the MCU, which would be an interesting ride if they can pull it off.

And if the first episode, "Mother's Little Helpers," of this new series is any indication, they will pull it off. It had me from the opening, which I'm going to spoil here, but it's, like, the first 10 minutes, maybe, of the episode, so I'm not going to feel bad about that.

We open with Daimon and some nun going to a house to perform an exorcism. Daimon is not happy and, from later context, we come to understand that he feels like his time is being wasted by the Catholic church and this nun in particular. They, the church, don't understand demonic powers and keep sending Helstrom to deal with things like this exorcism of a possessed boy.

So Daimon, after a quick trip to the bathroom, goes alone up to the boy's room without even a Bible or a crucifix, something which seems to be unsettling to the parents but, then, the mother is sitting at the dining table getting drunk, so who know. The boy in question comes scuttling out from under his bed spewing Latin when Daimon enters the room. The walls of the bedroom are smeared with shit, the boy's shit, and the kid goes off on how his parents aren't even worth that much.

Daimon pulls out a vial, tells the boy it's holy water straight from the Vatican, and flings it on him. The kid goes into convulsions... which is when Daimon tells him that he stopped in the bathroom for the water on the way to the kid's room, but not water from the toilet, because he's not that bad. Which is the point I was hooked on the show. Helstrom demonstrates some actual supernatural power and tells the boy to clean the shit up, literally, and to use bleach.

The boy was faking, just to be clear.

Pretty great opening for a show of this nature, I thought.

I'm two episodes in, and I think it's going to be a good series. It's doing what Marvel is good at: building a story. It's slow and brooding, so far, while still having plenty of action. It just doesn't have that rushed feeling that so much of the stuff from DC has. I did consider doing reviews for each episode, but I've decided against that. After watching the second episode, I couldn't decide what I'd talk about other than giving a synopsis, and you can get that from imdb. I'll probably re-visit the series when I finish the first season, and, no, I have no idea how long that will take. Even if I make it a priority. I could finish it before the end of the month (preferred) or, with me, I could still be working on season one next October. I guess we'll just see.

If you're looking for a good skin-crawling horror show for October, from what I've seen so far, this could be your thing.

Friday, October 16, 2020

The Cuckoo's Calling (a book review post)


Let's get the issue of Rowling out of the way before I get into the actual book review. First of which is to say that I'm not going to discuss Rowling beyond saying that the fact that she doesn't know when to shut her mouth shows that having lots of money can affect the way that anyone views themselves and the world. She's at that stage where she believes that she, because she is who she is, is right and doesn't need to listen to other people, so she has continued to dig her hole bigger and bigger rather than just shutting up and keeping her opinions to herself. That she didn't shut up shows an amount of entitlement which is disappointing.

The other thing I want to say is that I started reading this book... well, so long ago that I don't remember when it was. I picked it up during some free promotion thing just to check it out and have been reading it in bits and pieces ever since. It's on my Kindle, and I don't really read from my Kindle all that often. I don't carry it places with me like I do physical books, so I lag a lot with books on there unless they are really engrossing. Which tells you that this book was not. Seriously, I've been working on it for over a year, maybe closer to two.

What this book has taught me is that I need to read some Agatha Christie, something I've been meaning to do for a long time and have never gotten around to. Maybe I don't like detective novels? I don't know. I like Butcher's Dresden books, but they're hardly detective novels after the first few. Beyond those, I can't recall any mystery novels I've ever really liked, including this one.

Which is not to say that I didn't like it, I just didn't much care for it. Rowling doesn't make it possible for the reader to really solve the mystery as they're reading, which seems to me to be the point of detective novels, because she doesn't reveal crucial information until the actual reveal at the end of the novel, and the reveal was one of the most contrived things I've ever read. And this is an ABSOLUTE SPOILER, so turn away now if you don't want to know who the killer is...

I'm waiting...

Still waiting, because I'm absolutely serious that I'm going to spoil the ending of this book. And let me just toss out there that I never spoil a book that I think you ought to read. If I spoil it, it's because I don't think it's really worth your trouble.

Having said that, the book itself was just fine. By that, I mean it's readable. Mostly engaging, though not engaging enough to prompt me to read it more quickly. It's... typical. Down on his luck private eye getting a high paying, juicy case which might just get him out of debt. Your basic story about an underachiever finally getting a break and getting to show the world who he really is. Honestly, after Harry Potter, I expected something less... cliché.

So the book goes along with our detective -- the son of a famous rock star, seriously? -- gathering up evidence about a case that is several months cold. And closed. But he's hired by the brother of the murdered woman because the brother believes it was a murder though the police ruled it a suicide. And this is the hitch and what I'm sure Rowling thought would make it a clever story: the brother is the murderer. So Strike is hired by the murderer to discover who the murderer is. The motivation for this is never explained adequately since the murderer had already gotten away with the crime.

What the novel mostly does, as most mystery shows do (I don't know about mystery novels, as I said, but I have watched a lot of detective shows) is to show that everyone had a motive for killing the victim. Rowling walks us through the suspects over and over again almost always strengthening the case for why each person might have wanted Lulu dead. In fact, the only person not shown to have a motive, not until the very end of the book, basically not until just before the reveal, is the actual murderer. Of course, the motive is money, but we don't get to find out the murderer's money issues until Strike is sitting alone in a room with the murderer revealing all the things the murderer already knows.

The reveal was clumsy and contrived. The fact that Bristow (the murderer) sits through Strike's walkthrough of the entire crime is, frankly, unbelievable. The fact that Bristow then attacks Strike is even more unbelievable considering that Strike is a bear of a man and ex-boxer while Bristow is your very stereotypical account type, even though he's a lawyer, not an account, a "gag" that is run into the ground over the course of the book.

I want to say that Rowling's strength as a writer is her characters but, as I'm thinking of this now, she has no real strength in that, either. Her character's tend toward the stereotype, including pretty much all of the characters in Harry Potter. In Harry Potter, we're able to overlook that, though, because the world is so new and interesting, but this world, the world of C. B. Strike, is not new or interesting so the fact that all of the characters are two dimensional really stands out. The most real character in the book is Strike's temporary secretary, Robin, and she's really just a pale reflection of Hermione Granger.

Also, the title of this book is stupid. It's just tossed in somewhere over the halfway mark of the book that "Cuckoo" is a nickname of the murdered woman that only one character in the book ever called her. It's a throwaway excuse to have "Cuckoo" in the title. Without that very vague reason, the title of the book is meaningless.

So, yeah, I suppose I am actually disappointed with this book and don't really understand all the praise for it. Again, maybe I just don't really like detective novels; I don't know. This book doesn't inspire me to try more, though.

Monday, October 12, 2020

The Monsters Without: Chapter Two (Currently Untitled)

 Chapter Two
Currently Untitled

It was years before the next incident. Really, he’d forgotten all about the first time it had happened because of everything that happened after. Months and months of his mother being harassed by the mailman, everything from not delivering her mail to identity theft. The local postal service sided with the mailman and didn’t take any actions to stop what was going on until the mailman, emboldened, started targeting other people of color. Eventually, he went to jail, but not before Jeremiah and his mother were forced to move.

Even though his mother had never been late on a bill, even though his father had died in Afghanistan serving in the Marines, even though there was definitive proof of the mail tampering and identity theft, the only thing the creditors and companies saw was a single, black mother and wouldn’t make any allowances for the things that had happened. It all… wore his mother down. She wasn’t the same person anymore. The fight and the optimism went out of her.

The monster had been completely forgotten, even by Jeremiah, submerged in the tragedy with the mailman. His mother believed that the mailman had done something from outside the house to scare Jeremiah and cause everything that had happened. That wasn’t totally inaccurate.

Jeremiah’s new school, because he had had to change schools – it had been the desire to have Jeremiah in a “good school” that had been the reason for where they lived – was decidedly less good. You could tell because there were almost no white kids at this school, unlike his first school which was almost only white kids. The new school had no working computers in any of the classrooms, and all of the textbooks were clearly hand-me-downs from other schools. Jeremiah was more than slightly ahead of all the other kids in his classes and, so, bored. All the time.

It got him picked on. Being the smartest kid in class is never the way to make friends. But he hadn’t been the smartest kid in his first school, just in the top five or so. Here, though, he was smarter, or, at least, more learned, than everyone. Even some of the teachers. He didn’t know it, but it was that he read that set him so far apart. Reading had been highly valued at his first school, and he had developed a habit. It got him labeled a troublemaker by the administration and a know-it-all by his classmates. He hated it. Every day.

If he had known it was the books, maybe he would have quit. Maybe. But he didn’t know, and he didn’t have any friends, not really, so he read all the time. He thought the problem was with him. Something innate.

He loved science fiction the most. He didn’t know it yet because he was only 11 and not very inciteful, but it was the idea that in the future in there was no racism that drew him to it. People were just people and nothing like what happened to him and his mother could happen in a world without racism. So he loved Star Trek, and he loved books where humanity was humanity and there was nothing made of what color skin anyone had. But he didn’t know that’s what it was that he liked, not yet.

On days when he had had his book taken away by the teacher, like today, because she told him Stranger in a Strange Land was inappropriate reading – when he asked her if she had read it, she said “no” and scolded him for “talking back” when he tried to ask how she knew it wasn’t appropriate if she hadn’t read it, and sent him to the back of the room – he leaned his head against the window and daydreamed.

The glass was cool against his forehead, and he was imagining that he’d been raised on Mars and could do all of the things that Michael could do so that he didn’t have to sit in a boring classroom. He was vaguely watching out the window and vaguely watching the reflection of the classroom in the glass and superimposing the classroom being outdoors and thinking how much better it would be to be sitting outside on the grass having class out there and trying very hard to visualize everyone outside, trying so hard it made his eyes hurt and the kids in the reflection started looking funny, so he glanced into the class, turned his head just enough to see the teacher and everyone in front of him…

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Caught in a Web (pictures I like)


I have a little spider friend living in my dahlias. She makes great webs, and I will have some pictures of her up soon. Soon-ish. The last week of September has been full of ash, and so has her web. She's been having to rebuild every night only to have her web all full of ash by midmorning. I hope you can see the ash lying on the webbing.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Fire Season (pictures I like (of things I don't like)


I'm trying to post as much spooky stuff as I can during October; hopefully, most of it will be writing, but there will still be some pictures to fill in the gaps. This one is from the last week of September, around 9:00am or so. This is what Sonoma county has been looking like lately, with fires all around and areas of Santa Rosa once again burning. It might be the wrong month, but it's still scary.

Monday, October 5, 2020

The Monsters Without (Part One: The Magic Eye (continued again))

There was torn up mail with his mother’s name on it all over the floor in the living room. The two policemen were talking to each other on the front porch. The mailman seemed to be gone. He went over to his mom and put his arms around her waist. Her hand came down to gently rest on his shoulders.

The policemen came back to the door and the other one, the one who had not gone into his room with him, said, “Ms. Freeman, we’re not going to take you in…”

His mother’s “What?” was explosive and sudden. “Take me in?” Jeremiah had never seen his mother angry like this. “After what that racist asshole said, you’re talking about taking me in!”

The man rested his hand on his gun, stepped forward, and said, “Ma’am…”

Jeremiah watched the gun with wide eyes. His mother had told him about how he should never get upset at policemen or resist them or talk back to them or anything like that, because that was how black men, and boys, got shot, even in the back, when they had done nothing wrong. He tugged on his mother’s arm, but she pulled her hand away and continued yelling.

“That… man… called me a nigger in my own home and ripped up all of my mail. You fucking watched him do it!”

The policeman took another step forward and unsnapped his holster. Jeremiah’s heart raced as hard as it had when the monster was outside and he would have peed himself if he hadn’t already done it. “Ma’am, you need to calm down. We can still take you in.” His eyes darted down to Jeremiah, “And have someone come take away your boy.”

His mother froze. The policeman who had gone to Jeremiah’s room with him stepped up and put his hand on the angry policeman’s arm, “Mike, stop. She hasn’t done anything wrong.”

“Mike’s” eyes got tight, “I don’t know; I think she’s assaulting an officer of the law. You’re not assaulting an officer, are you, ma’am?”

“Leave her alone, Mike.”

“Mike” didn’t look like he wanted to leave her alone. No one even breathed for what felt like hours. But after a moment, he snapped the clasp back on his holster and turned and stormed out of the house, leaving only the policeman, the one Jeremiah could only think of as the “good” one, in the house with them.

He spoke softly, “Ms. Freeman, I’m sorry about all of this. And I’m sorry to say that someone from CPS will be in contact with you. It’s policy after a domestic violence call when a child is involved.”

Jeremiah could feel his mother tense up, but she didn’t speak again. She just stood there. Jeremiah didn’t know what to do.

“You need to report your mailman. If nothing else, him ripping up your mail is a federal crime. You need to get it on record.”

Jeremiah quit listening and only stared at his mom. Tears were running down her cheeks. At some point, the policeman left. At some point later, his mother sat down on the couch and cried for real. Jeremiah sat on the floor next to her, to keep his wet pants off of the furniture, and held onto her leg. The only thing he knew at that point was that he was not going to get to go outside.

And now for the fine print:
If you enjoyed this, please share it. Tweet or link it on facebook or whatever. It helps.
Also, if you really enjoyed it, consider really helping by purchasing one of my published books. There's plenty to choose from. If you need a recommendation, let me know.

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Cocktail Sundays: The Redhead

Oh, look! A new series!
First of all, you can blame any and all cocktail shenanigans, at least the shenanigans on my blog, on The Armchair Squid. If hadn't started posting his cocktail experiments on his blog, I wouldn't be posting these. In all honesty, I'm not sure if I would have gotten as into cocktails as I have. But he started posting stuff, which prompted me to mention those to my wife from time to time, which generated interest, which may have been what lead to that first book I mentioned in my Smuggler's Cove non-review review, and that book certainly lead to Cove which is what lead to my own experimentation.
Did you follow all of that?

I suppose it's not all that important other than that Squid sort of inspired this first cocktail, so I hereby dedicate it to him. Or something like that.

That I am calling it "The Redhead" is a joke. Not a joke about him but about the ingredients. If it's not fully obvious, I suppose I can explain, but I'm going to wait and see if people get it.
But let's get on with it, shall we?

A thing Squid has mentioned on his blog is how much he likes fresh-squeezed orange juice. I'm not much of a juice drinker myself, but I can understand the appeal of fresh-squeezed orange juice. Because we had oranges for some other cocktail or other we were trying out, I thought I would make an orange-themed cocktail in honor of Squid. But, um... Well, it wasn't that great.

Let me walk that back. I didn't care for it too much because it was too sweet. It was tasty but, for me, it had no bite, so that recipe isn't here. I didn't even write it down. I decided to give it some bite, instead, so let's examine what happened.

Here are the ingredients I played with, and I'll post the full recipe at the bottom.

First, orange juice is too sweet on its own, so I added some lemon juice to it to give it a bit more acidity. The two little containers in front of the alcohol are my fresh-squeezed juices.

Next, I needed to add some orange liqueur.

Yes, we now keep more than one kind of orange liqueur in our house. 
I decided to go with the Cointreau for this. The Curacao is a bit more sweet and, remember, I was going for something with some bite.

Next is some ginger liqueur. You can see that to the left of the Eclipse in top picture. We bought the ginger liqueur for one of the first Cove cocktails we made, and you can tell it's made for mass consumption. It has no spice to it at all. After using it the first time, we cut up some fresh ginger and added it to the bottle. Now, it has some spice to it. We won't be buying ginger liqueur again but will make our own, something we have done in the past. All I can say is that you won't be able to get quite the same drink I have here because I have augmented ginger liqueur.

Ginger beer is another thing Squid has talked about on his blog, rather a lot, actually, and, honestly, I never thought I'd try it. But, then, I didn't realize it was actually a cocktail mixer. Cock and Bull is, evidently, a very popular ginger beer, and it's tasty. I like it. But... Most ginger beers, I have learned, are made to be consumed on their own as well as being used as a mixer, and that's what Cock and Bull is. Q, on the other hand, is intended just as a mixer so, guess what, it's spicier. And pricier. And I like it, too, just on its own, though I don't think I'll be buying it just to drink by itself. Cock and Bull is $1.25 for a 12oz bottle while Q is $2 for an 8oz bottle. You can see where the value is, and the difference between the two is not significant enough for me to want to buy Q on a regular basis. Not to mention that I have to go to a specialty store for Q, while Cock and Bull is available at several local grocery stores. At any rate, for this drink, I prefer the Q, but it's not essential.

Eclipse, by Mount Gay, is our general rum of choice. They make some better rums, specifically, their Black Barrel, but, for the price, we go with Eclipse. My understanding is that Bacardi is cheap shit, and we don't drink it. The picture above is the prepped drink with everything except the ginger beer in it. I wasn't going to drink it right away (I prepared the drink when I had the light to take worthwhile pictures), and ginger beer is fizzy, so I waited to add it when I was going to imbibe. It's kind of pretty, though, huh?

If you decide to make one for yourself, I'd love to know what you think of it, so let me know.
And, now, for the recipe!

The Redhead

3/4oz orange juice
1/2oz lemon juice
1/2oz ginger liqueur
3/4oz Cointreau
2oz Eclipse (or other light rum)
2oz ginger beer

Friday, October 2, 2020

The Monsters Without (Part One: The Magic Eye (continued))

His mother ran into the room and scooped him up. She was saying words to him that he couldn’t hear or understand. He needed to get away from the window, and he couldn’t do that with her holding him. He fought and kicked to get away, tried to make her understand. All that would come out was “Monster! Monster!” Then there was a knock, a banging, on the door, and he was sure that it was the monster coming to get him, and he broke free and ran to his bedroom and hid in the closet.

He hoped his mother would get away, too. He wanted to go make her run away, but he was too scared. He realized he’d peed his pants. He could hear the front door opening and tried to scream at her to run away, tried to go to her to make her stop, but he couldn’t get himself to move. He sat huddled as far back in the closet as he could get himself, hoping the monster couldn’t smell the pee on him or hear him breathing.

There were no screams. No sounds of a monster attacking his mom. But he knew what he’d seen, and he knew the monster had seen him, too.

Then there were sounds of an argument. Someone, a man, accusing his mom of beating her child. That must mean him. His closet door opened, and there was his mother staring down at him. “Jeremiah, I need you to come tell the mailman that I wasn’t hitting you.”

He stared at her. The words didn’t make any sense to him. His mom had never hit him. Where was the monster?

“Is the monster gone?”

“There’s no monster, Jeremiah. I need you to come with me. Come tell the man.”

She leaned down to pick him up. He let her before he remembered his wet pants, then he felt bad and ashamed, like a baby, because he was getting pee all over his mother. She carried him out to the living room where the mailman was standing in the doorway on his phone talking to someone. His mother nearly dropped him.

“What are you doing?” She was yelling at the man.

“Look, lady, I know what it sounds like when someone is beating their kid. I’ve called the police.”

“Get out! Get out of my house!”

But it was too late. The police came. He heard the man telling the police about how his mom had been beating him, about how everyone knew about black women and how they beat their kids and, if you didn’t watch them, about how they would beat everyone’s kids, especially white kids. What was she even doing in this neighborhood, this white neighborhood where niggers didn’t belong. It made him feel ashamed for being black, like he didn’t belong in the world and like he had done something wrong by being born this way. No wonder the white boys wouldn’t play with him.

A policeman took him into another room to talk to him. It made him uncomfortable, this big white man in the blue uniform taking him away from his mother. Maybe it was because the small white man in the lighter blue uniform was saying such bad things, but he wanted to be with his mom, wanted her to hold him, keep him safe from the monster and from the mean mailman.

“Can you answer some questions for me?”

He stared blankly at the policeman for a moment then nodded his head.

“Was your mother hitting you?”

He shook his head no.

“Why were you screaming?”

He hung his head not wanting to say. He didn’t think anyone would believe him.

The man reached out and gently lifted his head up to look into his eyes, “I need you to tell me why you were screaming and why you were calling your mother a monster.”

He tried to answer, but all that came out was a hoarse whisper, “The monster was on the sidewalk.”


“I saw a monster on the sidewalk.”

The policeman didn’t believe him about the monster. He knew the policeman didn’t because he kept going back to asking him questions about whether his mother hit him, and the policeman didn’t seem to believe him when he told the man that his mother had never hit him because he kept asking the question over and over again.

Eventually, the policeman left the room after looking him over for bruises. He wasn’t sure why the man wanted to see if he had bruises. He followed after.

And now for the fine print:
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Thursday, October 1, 2020

The Monsters Without (Part One: The Magic Eye)

He was eight the first time it happened, sitting and staring out the living room window into the front yard. He wanted to go outside and play, but his mother kept telling him he had to wait for her. “No going outside alone!” It was just the front yard! He would be right there, right in the front yard. Why couldn’t he go out?

It looked like a pretty day. Bright sunshine. Breeze blowing in the trees by the street. It wouldn’t be too hot, he knew, because it hadn’t been too hot all week. Finally, it was feeling like fall and the summer heat was gone. And it was Saturday! He did not want to sit inside all day. He did that at school. He wanted to go play!

And, look, there went some kids running down the street. He didn’t recognize them, though. White boys not from his neighborhood. He wondered if they’d let him play with them. They mostly didn’t look older than him, and the one trailing behind looked like he wasn’t even in school yet. A baby. They ran on down the street, and he realized they were probably going to the park two blocks away. They didn’t have any moms with them… “Mom…!”

“You have to wait! I’m busy!”

“But Mom!”

“I said no, Jeremiah.”

He grumbled and went back to staring out the window. His mind drifted off to thinking about the boys and what they must be doing and how much fun they must be having and outside became out of focus, so out of focus that he started staring at the pane of glass instead. Staring at his own reflection in the window, his dark skin and brown eyes and tight, curly black hair. He wondered again if the boys would play with him. Sometimes white boys would act like he wasn’t even there and he was left to play by himself.

But that was better than being stuck in the house.


“Not right now!”

He breathed heavily and went back to staring at his reflection in the glass. Then outside. Then his reflection. Until he discovered that if he made his eyes hurt by looking at outside and at his reflection at the same time that he could see his face on things. Like the tree by the street. Or on the street. Or on the door of the car. Or on the monster walking down the sidewalk…

It took him a moment to realize what he was looking at. It must have been ten feet tall! White but dirty all over like it was covered in grease or oil, splotches of it everywhere. Except for the white pointed head. That was so white it almost hurt his eyes. One arm was scaly, a sickly green yellow color, and had huge claws on its long-fingered hand, so long the claws almost touched the ground. The other arm was a bunch of tentacles, slightly more green than the scaly arm but still sickly looking, writhing and squirming in the air, glistening and dripping with slime. When he started screaming, it looked at him, and he saw its blazing eyes and huge open mouth full of long teeth.

He fell over out of the chair, screaming and trying to get away.

And now for the fine print:
If you enjoyed this, please share it. Tweet or link it on facebook or whatever. It helps.
Also, if you really enjoyed it, consider really helping by purchasing one of my published books. There's plenty to choose from. If you need a recommendation, let me know.