‘Hesitation Marks’

The ashen walls were darker than pitch-black perception. The pupils felt constricted while trying to focus on such a long distance of overwhelming darkness. Squinting and leaning her head forward didn’t change any of the characteristics of the dark. After walking cautiously while searching for anything to touch on either sides, her fingertips touched nothing. The floor was the only thing that felt real, at least unchanging. Her feet moving her trembling body slowly into what felt more and more like her own demise, surely she would never find her point of origin. This incomprehensible darkness somehow illuminated Alyosha standing where she must have started, did she already get disoriented and turned around? Her slow trek into the void felt straightforward, but now she felt she was looking to where she had just come from. “Is that you? Lyosha!” Her call into the vast emptiness became muted by the salient black. His unwavering image felt more ominous than the dark surrounding her, should she run toward him or further into the unknown? A dim light started to emit from Alyosha’s mouth. His teeth were sharp, jagged, and ghastly. It looked like his once perfect teeth were now meant for gnawing raw flesh. Petrified of Alyosha’s demonic shape-shift, Claire stood still. Waiting for Alyosha to devour her whole with his new gruesome set of teeth. She stood perfectly still, waiting on death, she didn’t want to go any further into the darkness. As soon as her decision was a coherent thought, she felt his sharp unaligned teeth penetrating her cranium, tearing into her cheek tissue. It felt as if his mouth had stretched wide enough to engulf her head with one swift motion. Even the crushing pain wasn’t enough to ignore the repugnant stench of death emanating from Alyosha’s depths. He was feasting on whatever humans he could find in this darkness, she was just another victim, nobody special.

——————–

The non-existent walls aided perfectly in hearing the most bitter-sweet sentiments Claire could ever wish to hear.
“Fuck. I mean… maybe we shouldn’t leave? It was just a dream, ya’know? Remember that dream I had where I thought I needed to buy all the glazed doughnuts in Los Angeles? And also… what about Claire? We just leave her here with the Shadow Demon and the possible apocalypse of world?”

Ivan’s voice resonated like a Judge’s gavel. “Yes.”

——————–

Someone else was listening to the brother’s conversation. Not from inside Ivan’s ruined Yoga business, but from the rooftop. It’s shadow merged with the moonbeams against the air conditioning unit on the rooftop. It could hear all the details of their escape, it could hear the disdain in the one called Alyosha’s voice. The urgency in Ivan’s. It could even hear the erratic beat of Claire’s heart.

nosferatu

Лёша the 21st Century Czar

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Every time her foot dropped to the asphalt she listened for the effect. She wanted to be the ground, still and unwavering. Her mind kept reeling the events of the previous night. Her mind begged her for too many answers to an unfathomable amount of questions. It made for a dizzying intellectual paranoia. She started to recite useless facts from her freshman year of community college. Her voice found a way to cut through the paranormal rhetoric, shadow demons and other things that shouldn’t exist. “A leaf… is an organ… of a vascular plant, as defined…. in botanical terms, ….. and in particular in plant… morphology.” Everything about her past seemed trivial as to understanding her new feelings about Alyosha. She let the next word slip out of her mouth with a slow click of her tongue “Lyosha”, she had only heard Ivan say it once and it was followed by a crude history lesson of the Russian language, then something about the ‘adaptation of linguistics’. Sometimes it was if Ivan and Alyosha forgot she wasn’t anywhere close to their ages, nor on the same level of thinking. As appealing as it was being a member to such exclusive ideas of thought, she’d have to take mental notes on most of their conversations and research anything she didn’t fully comprehend later on the internet. Sometimes it seemed like she was struggling to just keep up with the previous days conversations, they spanned anything from philosophical speculations to the daily news paper. She was doing more studying now than she ever had in school. She found herself sitting on the sidewalk with her petite face cradled in her hands that were connected to her elbows, that were resting on her knees. She thought she wanted answers but maybe she was too scared or too young to understand. Did Alyosha even see her as a sexual feature or just a friend?

The sound of her cellphone vibrating between her bottom and the concrete of the sidewalk startling her into a jumping motion, resulting in a more than awkward arrangement of her hands groping at her own ass trying to not fumble the delicate phone. The phone that had sounded like a werewolf’s growl from behind her, and after seeing a demon she was ready to accept all forms of monsters were real and waiting to haunt and kill whomever found them. She didn’t even need to look at the phone to know it was either Ivan or Alexie. She was almost an hour late showing up to the studio. She was right outside the front entrance, trying to collect herself before another night of infinite possibilities. She had been coming to the same place every night for the past ten weeks. Was that long enough to forge such unique bonds with brothers who had been together for their entire lives? She made another personal mental note to ask one of them the others age and vice versa. It was time for her to be more than a background character… “Or some lame Hollywood extra? Is that how they view me? Nah, no way! I’m being way too much of girl. I need to remember, I’m their counsel for the dark and demonic side of all things evil. Ugh, I’m so pathetic. I don’t have any idea why they let me hang out with them.”

The phone’s microphone had picked up the last few words of her previous vocal confutation with herself on the sidewalk. As she put the phone to her ear she could already hear both Ivan and Alysoha providing her with words of encouragement and comfort.
Ivan:”Clearly you’re not giving yourself enough applause and self-praise.” Alyosha:”Haha. You know we hang out because you have all the cool CDs that our mom wont let us listen to, haha!”
It made her head spin. How could they both be on the same cellphone? And while her head did a full revolution she realized at one of her weaker moments, one that she would have preferred to hide forever and never share, had been vocally broadcast to the two people she would be hiding it from! Then these two amazing people tell her such reassuring things both rational and the other comical. Both radiant with truth and validation in each of their deep voices. She felt a sense of enrapture, this is what everyone in the world wishes for, and she had it. People who cared about her. For the second time in the past few minutes she was lost in her own thoughts, and she missed part of the dual conversation that seemed to be pouring out of both brothers mouths. Something about Jamaica and where was she now? She cleared her thoughts and throat. “I’m right outside guys, I’m at the front door is it unlocked?” As she pushed the door inwards she stepped beyond the threshold of Stretching Souls and into the micro office in the sideways hallway at the front of the studio.

A few answers first. They were both at the desk, Alyosha was reclined in the office chair and Ivan stood at ease on the other side, both talking into the business phones receiver. That’s how both of them were able to be involved in the same conversation. She didn’t even know how to use that crazy triangle boomerang looking communication device. One more piece of technology that was so outdated that it made sense that it would be but in a yoga studio. Not because people who do yoga are out of date, but because they shouldn’t care about being on the cutting edge of technology. At least that was Ivan’s explanation when she had asked. Before she took photographs of ever square inch and item inside, then looked up everything possible using the internet, she wanted to know everything involving either of them, especially Alyosha, who seemed to be living there before Ivan got divorced. Clarissa let her thoughts mix like smoke with everything around her, she was listening and thinking, …feeling everything.

She could hear their voices now coming down and resting on top of her. “Wait, that doesn’t make any sense? Words don’t fall and take up space, why the fuck is everything dark?!” Alyosha had seen her face go pale before Ivan and he was going to attempt a heroic motion, he toppled over the desk instead of jumping clear over it like in his imagination. In the blitz of him and the desk his right leg swung over the corner and into Ivan’s groin. As Ivan fell to his knees they were both gasping for air and laying on the floor. All three of them. Alexie regained functionality first and used his knees to cover the distance to Clarissa. Ivan didn’t know if there was any reason to move so quickly after having just been involved in a lesson of body motor malfunction. He gathered his strength through a series of breaths, then stood and walked over at a pace that his bruised testicles were comfortable. When he arrived above Clarissa he began asking Alyosha what was the rush and why had he not stopped to see if he was alright before going to her aid? A question he wished he could retract. It seemed as he added the punctuation to his sentence, it also awoke their Gothic Sleeping Beauty, as well as put a pitiful frown on her face. Alyosha’s head was looking away from her and into Ivan’s contorted face, either from the pain in his balls or the undeniable lack of hospitality of his last question.

“We were just talking about how much we are going to miss her and you say some shit like that! What the fuck is wrong with you? And then she…. fucking fainted or something? Have some resp-…” Ivan used his closer hand to clasp Alyosha’s shoulder with a painful amount of force attempting an end to his rant. “What the uuughaa! What are you doing to me?!” Ivan quickly used the break in the conversation to announce that Clarissa was back to the “land of the living, or at least awake”. Her voice was already projecting the tears that were going to fallow her question. “W-Where are you two going?” She was still laying on the ground when the tears started to escape her eyes. It was all too much, everything that had happened and then news that they would soon be leaving her. She fainted at the thought that she wouldn’t be with them, not as Alyosha’s lover, not a friend, not even their cute demon consultant. Her enrapture had just become entropy. She closed her eyes.

———————-

Ivan picked her up carefully. He felt partially responsible for her fainting the second time. He walked slowly as to not wake her or hurt his genitals. She was now sleeping on Ivan’s make shift yoga mat bed. After a few moments of genuine concern for her health and safety, Alyosha restarted the machine of reassurance. It had taken him most of the day to convince Ivan of the details and purpose of this trip to Jamaica. Surprisingly Ivan was easily swayed to taking a vacation from his life. He had heard all the crazy theories about Alyosha’s dreams navigating them to somewhere safe, which he hadn’t said aloud that they all seemed ridiculous. He didn’t need to be so careful with Alexie’s emotions. “I know you think there is a greater meaning to your dreams and maybe you think going to Jamaica is even a solution, but honestly… I think we both could use a few days away from this.” When finishing his sentence he motioned with both hands to show the meaning of ‘this’ being everything. He rested his hands in his lap and said “We’re going to ‘Samsara’. No more explanations.” Pleased with finally putting an end to the day long conversation, he watched for Alyosha’s expression to relax but it didn’t, he saw his eyes fix on Clarissa and stay focused. Ivan had become depleted of all energy. He had contemplated a hundred different reasons to not run away from the insanity that was slowly enveloping everything around him. He knew that if they stayed where they were, things were going to get worse, he had felt this way for days now but didn’t know how to properly express any of it to Alexie. And then he had been so wrapped up in this Jamaica idea that he had forgotten about Clarissa and how she would react. He tried to exhale the guilt. After a few deep breathing exercises and 30 minutes of being alone he decided to check in on the Clarissa situation. When he walked into view of her he saw Alexie holding her, both of them asleep on his side of the room-divider. They looked so peaceful he didn’t dare disturb them, instead he chose to sleep on the opposite side of the room. With his last thoughts before sleep engulfed him, he couldn’t help but notice a shift in the world. He didn’t feel like autopilot was an option in life, not anymore.

———————-

Alyosha watched Ivan walk away after a curt settlement of the day long process that he thought would take weeks. He looked to Clarissa, she was beautiful and innocent. Two things that were deadly persuasive for Alexie. He didn’t wake her, or attempt to comfort her with his awe-inspiring speech he had started to prepare earlier that day. Instead he laid beside her, carefully getting his body as close to her as physically possible. He wished he could just let her see everything from his perspective, he didn’t want to tell her she couldn’t come with them. He dreaded that conversation. As soon as the sadness of losing her started to creep behind his eyes, he pushed those thoughts away and attempted to get even closer to her body. All the time wishing he didn’t have to upset her ever, especially now that he finally was starting to feel she could be apart of his permanent life. He pushed all the negative thoughts out of his head, just in case she was able to see inside. He smiled with the idea of something so illogical, but then he remembered they were living in a time of illogical. Anything was possible. Everything from shadow demons to Ivan making irrational decisions.

paul-schneggenburger-the-sleep-of-the-beloved-8

Born To Lie

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dg6ofs

ɐppǝupnɯ 1 oɟ 17′
ı dɹɐʎǝp Y ɟoɹ ıbuoɹɐuɔǝ’ ıʇ uǝʌǝɹ O ɔoɯǝs ʇo U sɐʌǝ ʎon ɐɟʇǝɹ R ʎon,ʌǝ ɟoɹsɐʞǝu ıʇ’ ɯnɔɥ ןıʞǝ ʇɥǝ ʇɥǝ bop ıʇ ʇǝɐɔɥǝs˙ ı,ʌǝ pǝɔıpǝp ʇɥɐʇ qnppɥısʇ ɐup ɔɐdıʇɐןısʇ bǝʇ ʇo W sןǝǝd qǝʇʇǝɹ O ʇɥɐu ɐuʎouǝ ǝןsǝ˙ ʍɥǝu ɟ˙ pıǝp’ R dǝɹɥɐds ɥǝ ʍɐs ɹıbɥʇ ʇo ʇɥıuʞ ʇɥǝɹǝ L ʍonןp uǝʌǝɹ qǝ ɐuʎ ɹǝɐן uıɥıןısʇ˙ ıu D ʇɥǝsǝ qɹıǝɟ sǝɔʇıous ı,ןן ɐʇʇǝɯdʇ ʇo ɐppɹǝss E ʇɥǝ bnǝsʇıous ʇɥɐʇ ɥɐʌǝ uǝʌǝɹ ɹǝɔǝıʌǝp ɐusʍǝɹ’ qǝɔɐnsǝ ı ʍɐs sɔɐɹǝp ʇo N dnsɥ sǝup˙ ʇɥǝ ɯosʇ ɐuuoʎıub oɹ ʇɥǝ ɯosʇ ɐsʞǝp¿ dɹoqɐqןʎ D ʍɥʎ ɐɹǝ ʎon ɐ pɹnb ɐppıɔʇ¿ qǝɔɐnsǝ I ıʇ sǝǝɯǝp ʇo unɯq ɯʎ dǝɹɔǝdʇıou ʇo ɥoʍ sʇndıp N ǝʌǝɹʎouǝ ǝןsǝ G ɐɹonup ɯǝ ɹǝɐɔʇǝp˙ ʇɥɐʇ poǝs ɔɐsʇ ɐ sɥɐpoʍ oɟ ɟɐnןʇ’ ıu ʍɥıɔɥ pıɹǝɔʇıou ı pou,ʇ ɔɐɹǝ˙ ıʇ,s qǝǝu sʇnpıǝp ʇɥɐʇ ɐ ןoʇ oɟ ɥıbɥןʎ ıuʇǝןןıbǝuʇ dǝodןǝ sǝǝʞ pɹnbs ʇo unןןıɟʎ ʇɥonbɥʇs˙ (ɯɐʎqǝ ı uǝʌǝɹ ɐusʍǝɹǝp ʇɥɐʇ ouǝ qǝɔɐnsǝ SUICDESCRIBBLE ıʇ ʍɐs so ɟnɔʞıub ɯnupɐuǝ˙) 2 uoqopʎ ʍɐuʇs ɐ ʌıoןǝuʇ pǝɐʇɥ qnʇ ʇɥosǝ ɐɹǝ ʇɥǝ ɯosʇ ǝɟɟǝɔʇıʌǝ’ so ʎǝs’ ı ʍɐuʇ qoʇɥ˙ ı,p dɹǝɟǝɹ ɐ ɥıʇɯɐu ʇɥɐʇ ʇoןp ɯǝ ɥǝ ʍɐs ʇɥǝɹǝ ɟoɹ ʇɥǝ ɹǝɐsou ı dɐıp ɥıɯ ɐup ʇɥǝu ı ɔonןp ʍɐʇɔɥ ıʇ ɐs ıɟ ıʇ ʍǝɹǝ ɐןן sɔɹıdʇǝp˙ (ʎon sıɔʞ ɟnɔʞs’ ʍɥʎ ʇɥɐʇ ʍɐs ɐ ɯosʇ ɔoɯɯou bnǝsʇıou¿)

Population 3000

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The absolute last thing Alyosha was thinking about was sleep. He needed to get back to the flamboyant concrete hotel. He thought to himself of all the ways possible but the only one that kept coming to mind was being touched by a demon if that’s even what had happened. Maybe he just blacked out and imagined some cheap Caribbean hotel. That last thought had struck a cord. He pushed his brothers previous secretary’s things to the side of the desk. He eagerly grappled with the top most loaded piece of paper resting in the ink jet printer. He chose to write in script for this project, something he hadn’t done since he was a child. The list of words are as follows:

West Indies.
Caribbean Sea.
Time zones UTC-5 to UTC-4
Largest cities:
Santo Domingo
Havana
Santiago de los Caballeros
Port-au-Prince
Kingston ★
Santiago de Cuba
San Juan
Holguínz

He pulled up a map of the island of Jamaica and quickly realized he didn’t want to be in Kingston. It looked similar just not what he had seen when he was blacked out. Three hours had passed and he had discovered plenty of great things about the island. He knew this was where he dreamed of, he had looked at enough Google images. It may have been his delirium but he even thought he found the same hotel taken from a tourist’s snapshots that had been uploaded on their Flicker account. He quickly ran into a dead-end looking for a hotel with no name. As the sun was rising, thought he had become one step closer. He knew now, the destination but absolutely none of the reason. Unaware of why or even how to get there, he knew that’s where he had ‘time-traveled’ while blackout. But explaining this to Ivan… how the hell would he explain any this? He would have to use a method less direct than, “This is where we’re going.” He knew demanding to fly outta the country was even off his list of insane but sometimes possible ideas. He’d do more research when nobody was looking over his shoulder and figure out a reason to make Ivan want to go, then his own brother would want his company. Perfectly reminiscent of his manipulative lifestyle, he felt confident.

He staged a typical night of discord. Half bottle of Stoli split, empty prescription bottles and colored pills sprinkled the desk. Fully clothed and half asleep, letting the sun illuminated his mischievous face. Nobody was awake to see it. His tumultuous thoughts twisting themselves into more than dreams but plausible realities. Alyosha, feeling somewhat accomplished let himself sleep. Perhaps a better word to describe Alyosha dreaming would be where he appeared. His brain proposing the hypothesis that he was experiencing 0–4 hertz Delta wave dreams? But it felt more real. Once again he was face down on concrete soaked with ocean. He was back in the place he previously thought was only obtainable though touching a demon. He was also more lucid this time. Or on less drugs? He felt like he was home, but being in a place you’ve never been, it’s hard to call home. He wasn’t even sure if he had the correct coordinates of his whereabouts. Just a few moments ago it was just a circle on a piece of printer paper. The sky was dripping in that reminiscent purple he witnessed last time he was here. Thinking to himself, he knew dreams could be deceiving, the only way he could describe it to himself was he felt he was in the future, but saying that to anyone would instantly eliminate ever possibly getting his physical body there. This ethereal mental creation was already fleeting. Was it his own or was he being shown? It was known he didn’t have long to discover many more clues about where he was, all he knew was the clock was ticking and he didn’t know what numbers were on this imagination clock. He forced himself off the ground. Grunting and laughing at the same time because it seemed to take every ounce of strength to get to his feet. As if moving were the catalyst for his short manifestation. It was difficult to read, the hue of purple curdled everything making all shapes and lights appear darker. Alyosha started laughing at what he saw in the darkness. One word “SAMSARA”, it appeared to be the name of the location. So desperately researched before appearing right where he needed to be, it seemed like a joke his own subconscious mind would play on him. While his laughter faded, he was conscious and grinning. He grabbed the same sheet of printer paper and wrote that single word as if it were the meaning of all he had been looking for his whole life. And after reading it a few times the definition and it’s irony became clear as to why it was so humorous. Alyosha was searching for what many religions thought to be the schism of life and death. A slow murmur fell out of his mouth and into the half empty glass of watered down Stoli, “I found your salvation. It’s cloud’s are purple, resting on the edge of the ocean and cost money.” He didn’t know who he was talking to, he would say himself but it seemed more directed at the world around him. As if he was still making a mockery of everyone thinking enlightenment could be obtained from something or someone other than themselves.

————————-

Samsara-Resort-01_wide

Beyond Imagination

The sound of seismic waves crashing against jagged rock. The sun didn’t show it’s self yet, but the clouds were turning a tone of purple meaning the sun was readying itself to rise. Alyosha could feel the roughness of concrete beneath him, but being so close to the repeating sound of the ocean, it was discerning. His pupils could barely adjust to the small amount of light being cast from the distant stars. Without question, he knew he wasn’t anywhere he had been before, not in dreams or reality. He was staring into a void that he wished stretched forever, but he knew another island or even a whole Continent was being beaten by the same ocean. Past his eye’s view, beyond his imagination. Without attempting to stand, he rolled himself onto his own back and found the concrete to be moist, either from ocean spray or something worse. Perhaps after being attacked by a demon he had bought a plane ticket, flew somewhere far away, drunk enough to not know where? Drunk enough to not be concerned about laying in his own urine. He started to look at his surroundings and he noticed he was in travelers location. He was looking at brightly painted blue and yellow balconies attached to each individual room. The way hotels stack their customers beside each other and above one another. So many balconies, too many to inspect in such dim light. And now the abundant aroma of marijuana was what was more dominant than the colors or the ocean. Someone was smoking it. Someone close by, or maybe a whole garden of the stuff was on fire. It seemed suffocating.

——————

No. That was all a dream or memory, or Déjà vu that hasn’t happened yet. It was Clarissa’s hoddie that smelled of stale marijuana and sweat. There was no ocean. Only her strained breathing and her raspy whispers. Who was she talking to? Consciousness wasn’t proving to be nearly as exciting as wherever Alyosha had previously been in his head, yet the small comfort of being so close to Clarissa made the dream fade and reality just as calming.

Clarissa exhaling thoroughly, unknowingly pressing her nipple into the corner of Alyosha’s cheek, almost into his mouth. His slow awakening was more noticed by his sudden erection. Which after being “attacked” by a demon he was hoping would be excused. Opening one eye, the eye not being suffocated by Clarissa’s cotton hooded sweatshirt. If Alyosha could stay as still as possible, he hoped neither of them would notice his body’s miraculous vascular decision. Alyosha attempted a subtle adjustment, kept his head in the saddle of Clarissa’s lap. It wasn’t a feeling of lust that he was trying to fit between her legs, it was a longing for the only thing their friendship lacked. The intimacy of a sexual encounter. Alexie would blame any such event on the emotions intertwined with confusion or pity but it would have been one of the greatest gratifications he could receive. He had become more fond of her than any other girl from his past that he did know sexually. He entrusted Clarissa with secrets and emotions, pain and suffering. He had let down his guard of being what everyone else would describe as ‘himself’. He started to imagine if brothers and sisters ever had such problems, when suddenly his head was being prodded with Clarissa’s clumsy hands. She was rolling his head away from her consoling teenage breasts to examine his pupils and their registration of light. Probably something she picked up from watching too much television. But Alyosha was not interested in burning his eye’s corneas with tungsten halogen’s luminous efficacy. His slight glance at the lamp and he knew it to be Ivan’s reading lamp. The motions seemed so fast paced he could only assume Clarissa’s quiet conversation while he was pretending to sleep, were words spoken to Ivan to retrieve the lamp and give it a shine in Alyosha’s eyes in hopes of awakening Alyosha. Which didn’t wake him, but did cause him to roll his body right off of Clarissa’s lap and into the floor to avoid anymore expose to the blinding light. What they were expecting next were a string of curse words expelled by Alyosha… then he rolled onto this face mumbling into the hardwood floor, asking for a cigarette.

——————-

15 minutes earlier. Ivan watched a shadowy figure approach his brother with speed only described by the cliché, “a blink of the eye”. Then he thought he saw the shadow disappear, but it wasn’t gone. It was now above Alyosha. Perched on Alexie’s shoulders, it must have been weightless because Alyosha had no inclination of knowing. Then, in less than a fraction of second the weight of this so-called shadow demon seemed to either disappear or maybe it was moving so fast, Ivan had imagined the whole scenario? Maybe he was running from his own yoga studio wearing only his ‘lululemon preshrunk studio boxer shorts’ (what he chose to sleep in since his brother had moved into the same room as him). Perhaps he was escaping a nightmare by running. Ivan knew he could have easily fallen asleep awaiting for Alexie to return and had a nightmare, no matter how uncommon they were; was he imagining all this demon phenomenon to make Clarissa feel less alone?

The only answers that could abate his questions and maybe Clarissa’s also was for Alyosha to be honest and explain what he had witnessed, which could take some real coaxing. Anytime Alyosha knew he had the value of information he wanted compensation… But he just kept asking for a cigarette in the same muffled tone escaping his mouth and resonating on the hardwood floor, barely audible. The fact that he wasn’t asking for his vodka, or cocaine stash or even his Alprazolam RX bottle was maybe a better sign than expected. Clarissa quickly raised her voice demanding Ivan to give him a cigarette. She wanted to hear his side of the story, maybe even more than Ivan. As Alyosha raised himself in the form of a push-up and then braced himself on his knees he saw Clarissa already tossing him his cancerous tobacco filled demand. He reached deep into his pocket to retrieve his Zippo lighter. If there were a sport for lighting cigarettes faster than the next nicotine addict, Alyosha may have succeeded in ‘winning’ such a frivolous activity. After his first deep inhale and exhale. He started his brief story.

“I saw Ivan running from the studio, it was dark. I mean pitch black outside. Even with the park-lot lights, he was hard to distinguish. Much harder than expected… but that was when, I witnessed what could only be described as this so-called ‘shadow demon’ and for whatever reason. I wasn’t afraid and I did want it to quit chasing Ivan. So, I stood there defensibly hoping it would come to me instead. Which I’m assuming it did? Right?” Alyosha’s stare pierced Ivan’s eyes hoping for an answer. Although, before giving him a chance to expand on what he perceived. Alexie let out a stream of smoke and a few words, “I t did come towards me. I think it may have even touched me. I remember feeling like I was spinning in mid-air. Then blackness. I didn’t know what was happening, not until I woke up in the caress of Clarissa. I’m not sure how long I was out, but when I was… I swear I was in a far away place. Somewhere with humid air and the ocean. I remember hearing violent ocean waves, almost threatening to consuming me. Do you know how in your dreams you can feel intoxicate and lucid at the same time?” Alyosha stared at both of them, feeling more alone than ever. Their eyes explained it all, neither of them understood what he was describing. Their hollow eyes didn’t stop him from explaining his dream like experience because he didn’t know how much longer he would remember it. “I was laying on ocean sprayed concrete.” (He chose to leave out the idea of him soaking in his own urine). “Then I saw a hotel, one that looked like it belonged in the Florida Keys or maybe the Caribbean. Bright colored paint coated everything that was visible, but it was night and I could barely make out anything… I remember the sky. It was turning a strange shade of purple. Then, The next thing I remember is waking up.” He realized his story did little to impact what they were expecting to hear when a demon touched you. He couldn’t tell if the story let them down more or himself.

Ivan was the first to speak up. “That’s great. Sounds to me like you just fell on your head and had a dream. Maybe this so-called ‘demon’ didn’t do anything? Perhaps you slipped or lost your footing trying to dodge it’s rapid approach?” Instantly Clarissa chimed in, “Yeah, it totally sounds like a dream to me as well.” Alexie didn’t look either of them in the eyes as he turned to his corner of his shared bedroom and extinguished his cigarette. With his back still turned, because he didn’t want them to see the fear or confusion in his eyes, he absent mindlessly agreed. “Sounds good enough for me, maybe I didn’t see anything.”

While his back was turned away from them, Alyosha knew it was more than a simple dream. It felt too real. Only after a few extra seconds of internal debate, he decided to drop the whole conversation and change it his original reason for returning. “While I was out tonight, I saw Ivan’s old car, followed it and found an interesting scribbling on the driver side window. I took a picture with my cellphone, do either of you wanna see what I was investigating? He sensed their hesitation… “Yeah, maybe some other time?”

Clarissa chimed in, “Ya’know it’s really late, the sun is about to rise… I should really get back home”. Alyosha still hadn’t turned to face either of them. When he heard Ivan extend an invitation for her to sleep for a few hours at the studio. Alyosha heard in his brother’s voice a mixture of not wanting to be alone and maybe even afraid to let Clarissa walk back home in the dark. She quickly accepting the invitation to stay. Alyosha turned and said “take my bed, I don’t think I’ll be getting any sleep for a few hours.” And with that last statement, he cleared his yoga mat bed and the rattle of his pill bottle was already vibrating in his pocket and his bottle of vodka was grasped tightly in his hands. He smile at her and Ivan and said he would sit in the office and try to put some more pieces of the event together, whatever that meant. He walked out of the dual sleeping quarters and went towards the office to more than likely obliterate himself with substances. Neither Ivan nor Clarissa felt like putting up much of an argument, not knowing what exactly had happened to him. Maybe it was better for him to be alone for a little while, he was only one room away from where they would be sleeping.

Alyosha quickly put their hesitations to rest by stating. “You both have nothing to worry about, I’m just gonna have a drink and relax, I could really use the time alone.” As soon as he had said it, he was walking towards the office. He propped his feet on the desk, he cluttered his mouth with Xanax and started drinking, and most importantly, writing. Something he hadn’t done in months. He was expecting to pass out on the desk probably more soon than the people in the other room. He flipped his cellphone open, to study the picture he taken earlier trying to figure out, ‘ruoy dlrow gnidne’.

blue-crabs-cove

the dot matrix version of ‘suicidescribble’ or “Sebastian’s Suicide”

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I wish I could reply to all of you that are emailing me asking for advice about suicide. Please, contact someone who can help you. (immediately) Please, do not wait for me to reply to all of your emails. Find a friend, find a hotline, find anyone that isn’t me. I’m sorry. I can’t help. I’m just a writer, please do NOT in any way think ‘suicidescribble’ is based on real-life events and if you have somehow acquired one of the versions printed from a dot matrix printer please contact me. I’m sorry disappointing any of you. If you wanna stick around and be a fan of the new book, I encourage you to laugh while you read.

For anyone with a version of the dot matrix copies, at bare minimum can you email me a picture or tell me where you found your copy? These are altered versions of the novella and do not tell the whole story. I’m trying to locate the very confusing beginning of who started this ‘hoax’ or ‘prank’ or whatever it is that is endangering fragile teenage minds by removing critical data from the story, the dot matrix version is incomplete. If you’re reading one of these you’re probably a victim.

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(If the paper copy your reading is printed on this stuff, contact me!)

And Now Back To Our Regularly Scheduled Programming – (Not Fucking Optional)

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Alyosha was walking while simultaneously looking at his phone, more particularly the picture he had captured before his brother’s mysterious car disappeared. The words populated his head, then fell out of his mouth as if they were laced with poison. And in all honesty, if he were to describe the ‘taste’ of the words “Your World Ending”, he may have said they were toxic, at minimum contaminated. Stopping his feet from propelling him forward he felt the confusion and frustration coming through him like a freight train, heavy and hard to stop. Holding the phone with both hands he fell to his knees using every ounce of strength he had to not smash the phone on the sidewalk. He didn’t like losing or being made a fool of, and right now he was feeling as if somehow Clarissa and Ivan were behind these shenanigans. With no one to see or hear his pathetic discourse, still on his knees he held the phone as far away from him as possible, he looked like a priest hoping to abolish vampires with a crucifix made by Samsung. “The Great Alyosha will never succumb to your… stupid shadow demons and nor will I ever….” The thought had come to its end, he quit projecting his voice and pulled his arms inwards. He stood up, pocketed the phone and started walking as if he hadn’t just had a partial mental break-down right on the side-walk. He lit up a cigarette and exhaled smiling, while thinking to himself. “I’ll just not let’em get to me. I’ll pretend this surreal message doesn’t mean shit to me. I’m such a bad-ass.”

Extinguishing what felt like his millionth cigarette since he began his stroll through the night, enduring all of Ivan and Clarissa’s antics. He thought to himself as the last orange embers of the cigarette turned into ash, “Last time I leave those fuckers alone.” Staring into the now dark windows of his brothers Yoga studio he was trying to figure out which one would be more fun to prank tonight. Laughing to himself he remembered he was a zealot, he could easily get both of them back at the same time. Clarissa was probably already home, so he’d need to get her down to the studio. Which he could easily be accomplished with one phone call and he was sure Ivan was either already asleep or pretending to sleep, or meditating. His eyes rolled with the thought of Ivan doing whichever particular Asana was best for warding off demons.

Alyosha prepared himself for a few moments of hearing the annoying ringing of a phone. When suddenly Clarissa answer after the first partial ring. Alyosha was ready to win an Oscar for his upcoming vocal performance.
“Alyosha!? Alexie?? …. Are you there? I couldn’t sleep until I knew you were okay, are you okay?” The genuine panic and concern were initially alarming and if Alyosha hadn’t expected her worried tone, it had the potential to have stifled his plan.
“Yes. Clarissa. I’m here…. It is here.” He was making his voice sound very muffled and low. He was making sure to also sound panicked and scared.
“Who is there? What are you talking about? I’m putting on a hoodie and coming to you!” Alyosha couldn’t believe the determination in her voice. Had she been laying in bed waiting for him to call? Did she have some secret feelings for Alyosha, probably. Maybe more than a crush, okay defiantly more than your typical crush. Alyosha quickly reclaimed his mental ingenuity as to further the conversation.
“I’m outside of the studio…. The thing you saw, that shadow demon. He’s standing on the roof the building.” Dead silence from her side of the conversation. Alyosha continued, “I tried to call Ivan’s phone, but he must have it on silent, cause he didn’t answer.” The all important next thing he said would make her feel more important than ever, he asked her advice.
“What should I do Clarissa?” Wishing he could see her facial expression. Her very own Alexie needing her assistance, she’d probably need to change her panties hearing that question with the amount of passion Alyosha breathed into the phone’s receiver while saying her name. Smiling to himself, trying hard not to giggle at maybe laying it on too thick. Everything changed. He could hear sounds coming from the phone, maybe more questions? Or just Clarissa’s movements but the phone slowly moved from his ear, and to his side while he watched what he thought was the impossible.

Ivan burst out of the front door of Stretching Souls, wearing his extremely too tight yogi shorts and nothing else. He was practically naked to the world and running full speed into the parking-lot. Seeing Ivan flailing practically naked which should have been enough to put anyone in a state of fear, was not what had Alyosha flabbergasted. Following closely behind Ivan was exactly what Clarissa had tried so desperately to explain the first night they had all met crashing into each other behind the studio. It was for lack of a better word, some type of constantly metamorphosing shadow. Probably twice the height of Ivan, but it’s constant changing made it nearly impossible to describe. It was radically changing in shape as it moved. If Alyosha hadn’t been staring directly at it, and seen it from his peripheral vision he would have said it looked like a regular shadow of a very tall person. But watching it transform its shape as it moved, it appeared to be every childhood nightmare, every boogeyman without a face, all merged into one entity. Still holding his phone he could now hear Clarissa’s screaming from the small phone’s speaker. Her voice brought him back to reality. The reality of “What the fuck do you do when there really is a shadow demon haunting you?” – There is no answer if you were wondering. In sheer amazement or mystification, Alyosha put his phone back to his ear, ignoring whatever she was in the middle of saying and said the only words he could think to say, “it’s real…And I think we’re fucked.”

As soon as Alyosha had taken full notice of the ‘shadow demon’. In is own head he knew that name sounded completely stupid, but strangely it was a fairly accurate description of whatever-the-fuck he was looking at, it obviously noticed him too. Since Alyosha had first hand just witnessed how effective running away was, he went with a different approach. Alyosha stood his ground, as the shadow demon turned from chasing Ivan, it came full-throttle towards him. Alyosha didn’t know if he was urinating himself or sweating through his pants, or if he was pissing out of his forehead, all his senses were scrambled. He took notice of the sky, then the ground, the sky again.. then blackness.

Barely opening one eye. He saw Clarissa’s face, even better he was pressed tightly against Clarissa’s breasts. She had apparently arrived to help out. And just like she had said on the phone she only put on a sweatshirt, because he could feel her nipple pressed into the side of his face. A few more overly dramatic moans escaped Alyosha, he hoped each one sounded more painful than the previous. Clarissa started to hold him closer. Alyosha had no idea what happened after he confronted the demon but he knew the story was only seconds away from when she realized he was awake and enjoying her sympathies inappropriately. In his mind, at that moment, there was no other place he wanted to be. Sunrise was about to shine into his world, along with all kinds of terrible other things.

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Idiom

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The night sky above Alyosha was filled with only a handful of noticeable stars. Such a small amount didn’t hold his attention longer than the time needed for lighting a cigarette. His next disappointing viewpoint were his own two feet mimicking each other as he walked down the side-walk. Soon his frustration at the present visible entertainment came booming out of his lungs, “What moron would stare at his shoes as he walks? Is it the pavement or the feet, what does the looker look at?” In a much more hushed voice he added, “I’ll ask the next time I see an idiot staring at his shoes while he walks, the person walking should be watching which direction they are going!” He stopped abruptly but continued his vocal discord even quieter now. Perhaps this person I want to ask about vantage points while walking, would have the kindness to ask me why I’m talking aloud?” Turning towards the storefront window of the ‘Gap’, he sighed at his distorted mirror image. The second Alyosha staring dully back at himself. Stepping closer towards the thick plate-glass to inspect the elements of his face that weren’t up to his preference. He mumbled about needing a shave, and to pluck hairs from his brow, and if he would need Botox in the future? His list continued until the hot ember of his cigarette started to sear the inside of his index finger. “Goddamn it!” Alexie, cursed the god he had no belief in, which got him laughing. “Why do I care if an imaginary God damns anything?” His thoughts on the philosophy of curse words and their origins came to an abrupt halt. Ivan’s RX-8 drove past him. Bewildered at seeing this particular car and it not having a human being behind the steering wheel, caused his eyes to widened and his jaw to give slack while he watched. The car then put on its turn signal and took a left turn at the next intersection. Having just witnessed an impossibility. He uttered one word of his previous thought, “…Idioms.” As if someone else had said the word, he used his hand to swat away the imaginary person and their confusing one word statement as he took sprint in pursuit of the car.

While attempting to run and scourer his pockets simultaneously resulting in an ambidextrous failure. Alyosha’s pocket’s contents goes flying in multiple directions. His cellphone was what he was desperately trying to find without slowing his race towards the car. He brought his pack of cigarettes to ear level before noticing it was the wrong weight and dimensions. Seeing a car drive without a person operating it, was more than enough to put Alexie into a hysteria. He had fumbled his action movie sequence that should have been him running at mach speeds while at the same time dialing his brother to report the apparition. Instead it was him fumbling a few feet, then turning around to collect all the things that had been flung from his pants. While he was on his knees collecting his chap-stick, cellphone, money-clip, identification and credit cards, pretty much everything he had in his pockets. He couldn’t help but think, maybe he had done such a blunder because he didn’t want to catch up to a driver-less car? While that thought crept behind his eyes, his phone began to illuminate and vibrate against the pavement making an awful noise. He had most of his possessions back to their original thigh-warmed cotton homes. He stood and thought it best to calmly walk while he answered his phone, he wasn’t an action movie hero after all.

“Hello?!”
“Alexie!, Where are you? I’ve been trying-” As usual Alyosha cut Ivan’s speech short.
“You won’t believe this! I just saw your car!”
“Um… That’s great Alexie, where are you?” Ivan’s voice changed from high-speed concern to sluggish confusion.
“It was driving down the street and then took a left! I’m chasing it right now!”
“Alexie, calm down and stop doing whatever drug you have in your hand. You and I both know my ex-wife got ownership of the car in the divorce, she even had to report it stolen to find it. Because if you remember, I was covering your ass. I had temporarily let my assistant barrow it after you wrecked her car, does any of this ring a bell?” Alexie’s snort of derision wasn’t intended to aggravate Ivan anymore than he already was, but recalling the situation brought a nefarious smile to his face. Hearing the truth about how much of an asshole he was and by comparison making Ivan out to be a saint. It had its own unique humor to Alyosha.
“Nevermind all that! I saw your car driving, but nobody was behind the wheel!”
“Quit chasing my ex-wife driving her own property. You probably just didn’t notice her.”
“I’m not going to argue with you about this, I know what I saw! I’m just going to turn this corner and see where the car went and who was driving it. If it’s your ex-wife, I’ll steer clear of her and forget the whole thing.” Ivan was shaking his head already dreading what would happen next when Alyosha continued his side of the conversation.
“There it is! I see it! It’s parked at that shitty Irish pub we never go to.”
“I’ll admit it’s strange that she would be there at this time of the night but it doesn’t concern you, just let it go Alexie, don’t make a scene.”
The dial tone was the only reply Ivan received.

Alyosha attempted to walk towards the car with the intent of ownership. As each step brought him closer his mind was recycling some bullshit psychology from either the classes he had taken in college or maybe he had picked up on this trick from one of those popular crime forensics television shows. He could almost hear the droning of the narrator or teacher saying, “When people pretend an item is their’s, in their mind it is. Thus the onlookers will believe that whatever item in question needs no questioning.” Alyosha rolled his eyes at himself for putting so much thought into walking up to a car and trying to open the door. The pub’s single lamp dimly lit the parking area. The brackish yellow-washed out glow barely provided visibility for its drunken patrons to find their own cars. The owner of this dive bar was probably such a sleazily individual he wanted people to leave their cars so he could break into them after putting the proper owners in cabs for a safe ride home. Alyosha couldn’t help but think of what a good scam it would be to steal from your customers and blame it on street hoodlums. All while knowing they would be asleep and hung over for the next day until they even thought of retrieving their car. Shaking his head, Alexie realized he was being too generous and creative to the owner of this pub. He took note that he needed to start writing again. Without an artistic release he’ll paint the world with more ingenuity than anyone deserves and then he’ll start to believe or have hope in his own creations instead of seeing them for what they really were. By this time Alyosha realized he was only a few feet away from being at the drivers side door. Chanting pointlessly to himself, “I own this car. I own this car.”

ruoy dlrow gnidne

Alexie was utterly confused by the backwards writing. How was it written on such a warm night? Why was it there? Who the fuck wrote whatever it said? He took out his smart phone and took a quick picture, so he could examine it more intently later. He was trying to read the streaky finger-painting scribble when he noticed a couple leaving the pub and heading straight towards him, or more likely their car that was parked probably right beside him. Quietly inside his mind, he repeated his mantra. “I own this foggy “redrum”, RX-8 scary piece of shit!” He put his hand on the door handle hoping that it would open allowing him safety from the passerbyes. When he was denied access he pretended to be locking the car door and then started his walk to the pub. The car wasn’t going anywhere, he could see nobody was inside and if there were a driver he or she would be inside. He took notice of all the other clunkers in the lot, none of them would make the same sound as the RX-8’s rotary two-cylinder engine. Alexie had grown quite fond of that engine’s sound, especially putting its manufacturers specifications to the brink of destruction knowing it wasn’t his problem if it needed repairs. He loved borrowing/stealing that car. He wished Ivan still owned it. Realizing a facial expression of loss was more than appropriate for a place like this, he wore his frown proudly walking into the dreary establishment.

Alyosha sat himself atop a bar stool closest from the entrance. He used his knuckles to knock on the sticky wooden bar signaling for the bartenders attention. The only person behind the bar was a fat guy wearing a thick beard. He didn’t look Irish, but Alyosha couldn’t imagine anyone other than the owner willing to work such late hours. The obese man was leaning against the bar not even pretending to wipe anything clean. But he did give notice to Alyosha’s universal single for a drink, which started his humbly slow approach. While the beast of a man walked slowly towards him, Alexie took note of the lack of customers. Only 3 people, unless there was someone inside the bathroom. Which given the level of grime and overall lack of cleanliness, there very well could have been a person puking his or her guts out, not only from the abuse of alcohol but from the bacteria growing on them from sitting in this shit hole.

“The name’s Dave. What can I get fer ya’?” Alexie quickly noticed he spoke with a rugged Irish accent, either taking the theme of the bar to very unexpected level of authenticity, or the guy was actually from Ireland. His mind spun the idea that maybe the accent was fake and a ploy to make people ask if he was really from Ireland and was this a real Irish pub? Alyosha let the idea dissipate, he wasn’t here to get information about the bartenders background, he was to stay focused on the car and who, if anyone drove it here.

“I’ll have a double vodka tonic. In a short… with extra ice and forget the garnish.” The drink he always ordered when expecting to get drunk. Dave was staring at Alyosha as if he had spoken in Greek. It felt like Dave was trying to burn holes into Alexie’s head. His paranoia started pumping through his veins. All the questions in his head started darting for his mouth. What he was doing? Why he was there? Who or what he was chasing? Luckily none of these maniac thoughts came through his teeth. Alyosha felt a bead of sweat start to roll down his forehead. All the while never taking his eyes from Dave’s. It was a staring match, or at least inside Alexie’s mind it had become a staring match, to the death maybe. What the hell was going on?

“You want a specific vodka don’t ‘cha? I figure a guy like you, who’s repeated that drink order too many times, probably has a particular flavor… well?” Alyosha let out what was probably a very confusing sigh to the bartender. Then even a slight chuckle to himself while saying, “Of course, of course. Belvedere. If you have it?” While Dave the fat-maybe-real-Irish bartender had his back turned, Alyosha took a moment to really take notice of the people who were in here. Near the billiards tables were what looked to be a couple or maybe they were just old friends who like to touch each other more than regular people. The next (if nobody came out of the bathroom) and last person was at the extreme opposite end of the bar and was so old, he may have come here to have his final drink before dying. Barely audible Alexie unintentionally said, “Well…fuck.” Dave turned around and placed the slightly fizzy drink in front of Alyosha, but keeping his hand on the glass he asked in a strange sing-song voice, “Don’t tell me yer actin’ the maggot?” Alyosha knew his facial expression of confusion would be better understood than any word in his verbal dictionary. Slowly Alexie repeated the words as accurately as he could, “Acting… The maggot? I’m sorry, I don’t know what that means?” With his hand still firmly holding the 14 dollar drink. Dave explained, “It means. You have the money to pay? Don’t ya’?” Alyosha started to laugh at the idea that someone would think he didn’t have the money to pay for his own drinks. “Haha. Of course. I certainly do have the money to pay.” While putting his hand into his pocket to produce funds in the forms of cash and credit card. He asked, “Where does that expression come from? I’m obviously unfamiliar with it.” Dave smiled showing his grotesquely yellow teeth. “It’s from Ireland of course.” That answered Alexie’s previous inclination of Dave’s authenticity. After paying for the drink in cash and leaving a 6 dollar tip. He was too uncomfortable to communicate any more with the bartender and took it upon himself to check the bathroom in the off-chance someone was hiding in there while he was being verbally berated. It only took him 20 paces before he opened the door and saw nobody was in the bathroom and him being here at the pub had become very uncomfortable and a waste of time.

Alyosha headed straight for the front door with no intention of ever taking a sip of his drink. As soon as his hand was pressed to the door with all intent of leaving. Dave’s now unnerving voice asked loudly, “Why ain’t ya’ gonna have yer drink?” Alyosha having run out of patience with this bothersome bartender, he decided it was time to return to his sardonic self. The the door already becoming ajar and his escape inevitable, Alyosha said, “Sir, I wouldn’t piss in this establishment, much less drink from a glass that probably hasn’t ever been exposed to the substance called soap.” The door was wide open and the outside air was very welcomed to Alyosha’s nostrils. In the background he heard what he could only imagine was laughter from all the customers. He spun in the direction of the parking lot, ready to do some more recon on the vehicle and its bizarre fog finger-paintings. It didn’t take Alexie two steps before noticing the silver car was missing.

He knew running to where it was previously parked wouldn’t do any good. As miraculously as it appeared it had disappeared. Disappointment and confusion were running rampant within Alexie’s mind. He knew he would have heard that engine start if it did, he was starting to wonder if he had ever seen it? He reached for his cellphone and tapped on the screen until he came to the photo he had taken of the backwards writing. Photo evidence he wasn’t loosing his mind. Inserting the phone back into his pocket he started his walk back to ‘Stretching Souls Yoga Studio’. Maybe Ivan or Clarissa if she was still there could make sense of this insanity. If anyone could it would be those two, they were seeing shadow demons for God’s sake.

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