Water was once owned by the giants. There were no streams, no rain, no lakes, just a single body of water. The giants sat as if at a table on the 4 edges of the land so if the creatures of earth went north they would meet the northerly giant. Likewise to the south was the southerly giant, and so on. The giants charged a great toll for any access to the water and as a result the world was poor and weak.
However, among the many creatures there were 3 who were most clever. They had become tired of tricking and sneaking and stealing water to live. And being clever refused to beg or pay for the water. Each had an idea of how to change their circumstance.
Magpie traveled east and placed millions of great shining illusions in the night sky above the clouds. Then he flew down to the giant.
“Good evening great one. How have you been?”
“You will not trick me into giving you water again bird,” said the giant.
“That I know your greatness, but do not fear, I have not come for water. Do you see those things high above the clouds; notice how they sparkle in the moonlight?”
“Ah, you are just like your brother Crow. Greedy when something catches your eye.”
“I fear Crow will get one before I. You see Crow is much stronger, and I am too weak to carry one of those things. Perhaps you could help me.”
“I don’t care who gets those things in the sky, besides, I don’t want to help you.”
“You don’t care? What if it’s you who gets them?”
“Yes, if I cannot have one, at least I can prevent Crow from getting one too. I can tell you how to reach them and they will be yours. They will surely make you the greatest of the giants. And perhaps in your gratitude for my help you will break off a portion small enough for me to carry.”
“Hmm, ok, tell me. How can I reach them?”
“First,” said Magpie, “you will need to climb that mountain. And so you know that this is not a trick, I will stay with you and tell you each step you need to take.”
“Ok bird, come rest on my shoulder, and I will climb this mountain.”
The giant climbed and at the summit, he reached into the sky but could not touch the illusions.
“Ok Bird, what now, those stars are still much too far away.”
“Look at the clouds; see how some are high and others are low? You can reach that low hanging one, and once you’ve pulled yourself up, you’ll be able to reach the higher ones.”
The giant pulled himself up onto the cloud, and then up onto the next, and the next, until he stood on top of the highest cloud, far above the land.
“Now what bird? They are still too far away.”
“If you jump I’m sure you can reach the moon, and from the moon, you’ll be able to pick stars like apples from the heavens.”
The giant leapt, stretching out his hands but could not hold onto the moon. And then he fell. The clouds, frightened by the plummeting giant, moved out of his way and he smashed into the land, breaking it into several pieces and died.
Coyote went west, and sat before the great giant.
“Coyote, have you come to beg for water?”
“No, I am here just to talk, and perhaps tell you a tale if you have the time. Did you know in the tribes of the gods there was one who had 10 wives? It’s true, I have seen him. Now this god is much different than the other’s you see, because he also had 10 eyes.”
“10 eyes? That’s not true.”
“I told you, I have seen him. They ring his head like a crown. Each eye watched a different wife. As I understand it this god was rich with many treasures, and he carried his fortune with him everywhere he went. He trusted only his eyes and his sword. The wives (as wives do) knew his weaknesses, he had to sleep. For them it was a glorious time, when all the eyes would close and they could sneak money from his purse and were free to do whatever they pleased.
The god was arrogant however. He had many wives, he was wealthy, and he thought he could see everything. So one day, to save time, he traveled along a quicker route through a forest. A route the tribes of gods rarely take for fear of devilish thieves and ghosts. This god entered with his sword drawn, and walked out naked. Do you want to know why?”
“Was he overwhelmed in the forest?”
“No, there was but one thief, but he was a clever thief whose mind was his only weapon. He did not hide behind trees or rocks, but in the trees themselves. When someone would travel on this road, the thief would wait for the traveler to pass beneath and drop on them from above. It is in this way that the thief was able to disarm the 10-eyed god and steal his fortune. The god returned to his wives, but they did not want a god with an empty purse. And so they found new husbands. Now isn’t that a curious story?”
“I have never heard one like it.”
“Well, it gets stranger. I tell you before I came here, I saw the 10 eyed god, but he was different than before. He had grown 10 arms each with an open hand begging to all the creatures of earth. Let me ask you Mr. giant, when was the last time you looked up?”
Instinct pulled the head of the giant back and he looked to see what was above him. Immediately Coyote bit the toe of the giant.
“Ouch!” the giant said raising his foot from the pain.
Quickly Coyote bit a toe on the other foot, and once again the giant recoiled in pain. Each time the giant set a foot down to raise the other, Coyote bit it. The land trembled from the giant’s stamping feet, and Coyote continued biting. Finally the giant step backward onto the edge of the land. He teetered. He flailed. And then he fell splashing water into the sky and soaking the clouds. The great giant unable to swim sank, and disappeared.
Monkey went to the North. Some giants accepted money or favors as a tax for the water, this one obviously only accepted food.
“Monkey, come over here.”
“Oh, hello giant, how are you today?”
“I’m hungry, bring me some food!”
“Food? Really? But you’ll spoil your appetite. I just spoke with one of the gods, and she says the feast this year is more elegant and more decadent than ever before. They have prepared enough that the guests will eat for a week. I have come up north to wait for the bridge to appear.”
“The bridge? What bridge? I have never seen a bridge.”
“Surely you’ve seen the rainbow bridge?”
“Surely you’re going to get smashed unless you tell me how to get to that feast.”
“You are religious aren’t you? Did you not get invited? Well don’t worry, the gods usually exaggerate these things. I’ll have a word with someone and see if I can’t get you invited next year. I gotta to swim out there to where the lights meet the water before the bridge disappears.”
With that, Monkey jumped into the water and swam until he was sure the giant could not see him. Then he doubled back and snuck ashore and left the giant in solitude. All the giants anger about what monkey had said transformed inside his stomach into a hungry rage.
“I bet that damn Monkey isn’t going to even try to get me invited next year.” The giant looked out at the great aurora borealis, saw where it met the water, and jumped in. He struggled to swim and sank. Holding his breath in the water’s depths he learned how to move. For years and years he swam trying to get to the feast, swimming frantically towards the surface, shooting out of the water towards the sky, trying to reach the bridge. His feet and his legs became one and even his arms shrunk into his side. Every night his hunger became a mournful moaning and every day he tried to reach the bridge.
Monkey, Magpie, and Coyote all headed South but were soon stopped. The shattered land had begun to separate. The last giant paced nervously on his piece of land. He saw the clouds full and heavy with dark water, and watched as the land where his brothers had been became further and further away. He was as a dog before a storm. Then he saw the 3 deceivers each standing on a different piece of land watching him slowly drift away. He knew it was they who had broken the land and filled the clouds. Magpie flew to him.
“Hello giant, don’t you look pitiful today!”
“If you’ve come to finish what you started, I will not be so easily destroyed as the others.”
“I’m not here to destroy you, nor am I going to trick you, lie to you, deceive you, or inflict any other kind of mischief. “
“What do you want then?”
“Merely to say goodbye,” said Magpie, and flew away.
The Giant continued to pace and what was once worry turned to a vengeful obsession. Like all villains with a singular desire, he schemed. His mind tantalized by the many possibilities of revenge. He thought of millions of scenarios, with thousands of tortures. But that greedy Giant could not decide on one. He wanted them all. He wanted to inflict all the punishments his mind had created. A piece of him clung to each of the scenarios and tore him into millions of pieces, each piece a tiny replica of himself.
The pieces of him built boats and weapons and set out to take back the land and enslave the beasts that had taken it from him.
I have rules, as such I am the only one to blame for this mess. When you continue, despite an element changing, the whole plan can get vertigo and spin you into any possibility. He was not the one I was sent to kill. I should show this poor bastard mercy and kill him before the poison can progress anymore. He’s already dead, no reason he should suffer. I moved through the shadows and across the Spanish tile of the office floor towards where the man lay, I put my hand on the hilt of my sword. A loose tile squeaked.
* BANG *
I pulled something sharp out of my neck. Why are the lights out? I sat on the floor staring into the darkness wondering what was happening. Strangely I began thinking about the Wind Rivers. Backpacking through quaking aspen, bouldered peaks and mountain rimmed lakes. Something made a sound. I looked up and saw a bear looking directly into my eyes. Everything I knew about survival, and guns and bears triggered in my brain. I knew what to do. It was a black bear, it was probably just curious, but I could smell the fish guts on my hands. Without taking the time to think, I took the .22 from my hip. I had to be Annie Oakley to kill this thing with this gun and only 6 bullets. I drew a bead and pulled the trigger. The bullet hit directly in the center of the aspen to the bears left, exactly where I had aimed. The bear spun and began running up the hill away from the camp. I chased. This time I aimed for the bear’s hind quarters. Miss, miss, bee-sting… the bear jumped. I threw away the last 2 bullets just for sound, and walked back to camp. I ejected the shells into the fire pit and began reloading. When I looked up, I saw a twenty-something year old man staring at me as he crossed the river.
“You have to be the bravest kid I’ve ever seen!”
“Are you kidding me, I’m freaking out right now,” I thought, my heart still in my ears. “Thanks,” I said as I walked over to check on the fish I’d been gutting in the river .
“How old are you?”
“Wow, eleven? You’re brave kid. That bear had been following us for miles. I didn’t know what we were going to do.”
“My dad and my dog are on the other side of the lake fishing. I was just lucky he left the gun.”
“You have a gun and a dog, can we camp near you tonight?”
“Um, sure I guess, if my dad says it’s ok.”
Two girls and another man now crossed the river.
“Oh, here come my friends.”
“Umm hey, it’s starting to get dark. Will you guys help me collect some wood?”
On a summer Sunday, warm and relaxed, a man peered over the edge of his splintery row boat into the depths of a lake. The watery world gave him a brief reprieve from the stresses of money and love. The man thought suddenly that he saw something sparkle near the lake bed, and wondered what it was. He imagined it was the ring of power or excalibur. Then he thought, maybe it was a magic lamp and began listing his wish.
“Number one is money, more money than Scrooge McDuck.”
He day dreamed about casually handing a black titanium credit card to his girlfriend without fear or stress.
“Lets see, number two… maybe a super power.”
He imagined turning invisible and flying and while he imagined he saw the sparkle again, this time swimming toward him.
“Oh it’s a goldfish”
The fish swam directly to the man and poked it’s head through the surface of the water.
“What are you doing?” said the fish.
“I’m looking into this lake. Strangely the sun looks warmer down there.”
“Well, it’s not. Go away.”
“How can you speak?”
“I’ll have you know, I was the one who taught the first man to speak. Before that he just kind of smashed things and masturbated a lot.”
“I thought goldfish had a one-minute memory, and you want me to believe that you’ve been alive for thousands of years?”
“I don’t care what you believe. You know how you find house flies dead on your windowsill? They spent they’re entire life trying to fly thru glass, but they didn’t know what it was, and how to get around it. Every year you find house flies making the same mistakes, and you are irritated by their stupidity and suck up their corpses into your vacuum cleaner.”
“Tell me why you’re still alive.”
“I can not, nor can I tell you why i’m not dead. I just exist, and just as you, I can’t imagine anything else.”
The man took a sun-bleached bucket from the floor of the boat and scooped the fish into it and then continued talking to the fish. It occurred to him that the fish could be quite valuable.
“It’s possible the fish wouldn’t talk if I asked it to, and then no one would believe me and I’d just have a goldfish that I’d never have to flush down the toilet,” he thought.
Finally the fish asked to be put back in the lake and so the man put his hands into the water bucket and grasped the fish. Then he drank the water from his hands and swallowed the fish whole. Evening was quickly approaching so the man rowed back to the land and drove home. That night he did not eat nor did he eat the next day. Hunger never came, and neither did thurst. Time passed and as an old man who’d forgotten the flavors of salt and honey, he returned to the lake where he vomited the fish into the water. The fish swam away and as the old man watched it leave he cried like he had the day he was born.
I searched the Himalayas for near 5 years before I captured Janice. When we caught Sasquatch, he thrashed and cried. He damn near broke his cage. But not Janice, she just stared at me with them razor-blue yeti eyes of hers, hate singin’ through ’em. She new she’d been duped.
Regardless, we come down from them mountains with that big white snow-bear of a half-woman and took her to the ranch. Now we hadn’t had time to set up the proper private caged accommodations, so we just tossed her in the pen with Sasquatch and called it a temporary solution.
That old gal was a good foot taller than Sasquatch and scarier in every other way too. To say the least, they didn’t get on too well; that first night she damn near mashed his head into the ground. She took his cave and left him with scraps to eat. He’d become a beat dog, cowerin’ and sulkin’ anytime she even looked at him. That is until she went into heat. The lust for sex overcame his fear and that horny bastard snuck into that cave and some how managed his business. Janice probably would have killed him if we hadn’t tranquilized them both and gotten him out of there.
Nine months later she gave birth to the first of ’em. We had it tested and everything, but even still no one believed us, why would they? It weren’t possible. People come and took both Janice and Sasquatch, and threw me in jail. Somehow my lawyer convinced the judge that if I was innocent, Janice would be able to have another.
They had to bring in one of them specialists horse crankers who milk the Kentucky Derby Studs to get Sasquatch to perform again. This time they watched Janice like she was a celebrity princess, and just as before the baby was human.
The world had a goddamn conniption ponderin’ where people’d come from. Religions had no answers. Shit, no one had answers.
So they did more experiments. The next thing they tried was to mate her with a Gorilla, and well ‘course it worked. She gave birth to somethin’ that looked like that Spock fella on TV. It was a cute little pointy-eared bastard, whatever it was. They kept tryin’ every chance they could and kept getting somethin’ outa fairy tales. I became the warden of mythical creatures.
I didn’t really know what to do with ’em but they was smart, some smarter than people. So I started out just by teachin’ ’em what I knew. Elvis, what with havin’ a cow’s head and all couldn’t get speakin’ down, but did ok at writin‘. Waylon was just as dumb as hell, but obeyed like a faithful old dog. Hank and Loretta acted just like kids are supposed to. Spock I hardly had to do nothin’ with, everything was easy for that boy. Jesse however was the hardest to interact with, but I taught ‘most everyone to swim so we could spend more time with her.
When they got big enough we’d go hunting together. Elvis and Spock took to it quicker than I’ve seen. Between the two of them we could track pertnear anything alive. Life continued on like that and all of us adjusted and we called our lives normal.
The government truck come by one day. So those that could, jumped in my truck and we went out to see what them boys was droppin’ off.
“What have we got this time?”
“Read the file Jack,” one of them boys said handin’ the bundle over to Loretta. I looked at the cover page of documents.
“You should see him, looks like he aught to by shootin’ arrows, and handin’ out heart-shaped boxes of candy.”
“They bred Janice with a human? Someone actually approved that?”
“Rumor is they didn’t ask for approval, one of the scientist just went for it, if you know what I mean.”
“Jack, what does it say?” Hank asked.
“Take a look buster,” I said and handed Hank the file.
“You know Jack you’re not supposed to let anyone see…”
“Wings? Son of a bitch, that’s not fair, I want wings!” said Hank.
“Well you sure as shit ain’t no angel, so keep wishin’… and watch your language.”
“The offspring are all lookin’ good Jack. Any problems?”
“Besides Jesse eatin’ all the fish in the lake? Waylon growin’ bigger than the house? Elvis’ horns coming in? Merle diggin’ holes all over the god damn place? Good lord worst of all I gotta teenage girl here, and you wanna ask me about problems?”
“You sound like a Dad.”
“Any Dad you know got a mermaid in his lake? Tell me, what else they workin’ on?”
“I wouldn’t know Jack. No ones talkin’.”
“Ah hell. You know what they say ’bout the preacher’s daughter.”
“The preacher’s daughter?”
I named the angel Willie, and I passed him off to the nanny for nurturin’ while he was young and needy. His presence didn’t change nothin’ much on the ranch. The four oldest, Loretta, Hank, Spock, and Elvis were growing up so fast that the ranch seemed to just shrink in around them. They begun wonderin’ what else was out there. Spock was particularly curious readin’ and masterin’ every bit of information he could get, and then he’d tell the other’s all about what he’d read.
I caught him in my office one afternoon, he had put together a dominoing series of events, he assumed would keep me occupied long enough for him to find somethin’ new. When I found him he was looking through my old research material.
“So, this abominable snowman…”
“Sorry, Yeti. I noticed the last entry in your journal was about this Yeti giving birth to a baby girl. Now that would be Loretta i’m assuming. So then this Yeti creature is our mother, correct?”
“You aint supposed to be in here Spock.”
“Why did you not finish this project? You still have one more creature on your list.”
“That’s what you’re worried about?”
“Well, yes. I’d understand if it didn’t exist, but you didn’t even look for it.”
“Shit Spock, insteada pokin’ around here readin’ about safaris and snipe-hunts, why don’t you figure out a way to build that underwater room so we can visit your sister during the winter.”
“Alright Jack.” Spock put down the journal and tidied up the maps and started sulkin’ towards the door.
“And don’t you go rebel ‘rousin’ to your brothers and sisters about any’a this.”
Next morning a’course Spock had rallied the kids to his cause.
“Jack, what does Mono Grande mean?”
“Loretta, what kinda question is that to ask at this time’a day?”
“Spock says it means big monkey in Spanish”
“Well then why you askin’ questions you already know the answers to?”
“Were you going to capture King Kong, like in that old movie?”
“This monkey ain’t quite that big sweet-pea.”
“Jack we want to catch Mono Grande.” said Hank
“Well Hank that ain’t gonna happen.”
“But nothin’, we aint goin’ on a hunt. There’re too many’a you critters here to be gone that long.”
“I bet Spock and Elvis could track and catch it in a week,” said Loretta.
“Huntin’ deer and catchin’ a myth ain’t the same thing kiddo.”
“Even if I was willing to consider this little proposition of y’all’s, We can’t leave the country. None of y’all have passports or even birth certificates.”
“We’ll get birth certificates, and passports,” said Loretta.
“Oh, really? Where you think you gonna find ’em?”
“Same place the Mexicans find them,” said Hank.
“Don’t be a smart-ass Hank. Look I know you rascals get bored, but I gotta thousand acres of hills and trees and creeks for y’all ta go hog-wild on. So y’all’re just gonna have to find somethin’ around here to keep yourselves busy. ‘Cuz ain’t no amount of doe eyes is gettin’ y’all to South America.”
I tell ya, them kids should be lawyers. Just when I think I’ve made myself as clear as spring water, them kids come back, each one of ’em with their foot in a different loop-hole. The very next mornin’ they was back at it.
“Jack we want to go to Vernal, Utah,” said Spock.
“Good lord, what did I tell you kids yesterday?”
“You said we weren’t going to South America,” said Loretta, “and that we had to keep busy somewhere near the ranch.”
“Vernal is less than two-hundred miles away,” said Hank, “compared to South America, that is near by.”
“Jiminey Christmas, so let me guess, you wanna catch a skin walker?”
“No, a Wendigo. Some people say it’s the same thing as big foot.”
“And some people say they’re the same thing as skin walkers, and skin walkers are Indian witches, and since witches don’t exist, they are just pissed-off Indians.”
“But Jack, this place isn’t too far away and there are many strange stories,” said Spock.
“Everything can be explained, the trick is filterin’ thru all the bull-shit so you can see the truth of it. If you don’t even know what you’re lookin’ for how are ya ever gonna find it?”
“Come on Jack,” said Loretta, “we just want to try.”
“Alright, if this is where you kids wanna go, I suppose I wouldn’t mind going campin’. Y’all have one month to find whatever it is ya wanna find. But we ain’t spendin’ one second longer on a cold trail.”
“Thanks Jack, when can we go?” said Hank.
“Well Hank, this ain’t my trip. I just need to make sure everything is settled here, you four are the one’s that need to come up with the plan. We’ll leave when y’all are ready.”
So they did. They fitted the horse trailer with a special room so Elvis could be comfortably hidden, and we went to Utah. The kids investigated their hunches, set up lores, but unfortunately the month came to an end with nothin’ stranger than a lack of cell-phone reception.
The kids were understandably curmudgeoned by the disappointment of it, so I promised if they did some more research we’d give it a second try. On the way back home we happened upon a man wranglin’ some loose cows that’d got out on the road. “Howdy.”
“Need a hand?” I asked.
“Na I’ll manage, thank you though. Oh hey, if yer headin’ upta the Gorge you’ll wanna stay on highway 191, brush fire’s got highway 44 shut down.”
“I appreciate it.”
“May the Lord bless you in your travels.”
We kept drivin’ a few miles and passed an old barn with the phrase, “Thou shalt be called by a new name which the mouth of the Lord shall name,” written on the side of it.
“Jack what does that mean?” Loretta asked.
“I don’t know pumpkin, maybe we should ask that old cowboy back there, bet that’s his barn.”
A few hours later, and we was back on the ranch. While we unpacked the truck and trailer Jonathan, my head hand, hurried up to me.
“Mr. Jack, them government people was by while you was gone, and they been callin’ most every day.”
“What’d you tell ’em?”
“Just what ya told me, that you’d gone campin’ with a few of the kids. I tried to call, but couldn’t get ya.”
“Thanks Johnny, I’ll take care of it.”
We continued unpackin’, and I took a shower. Supper was pertnear done when the phone rang.
“Hartelius Jackson speakin’.”
“Dr. Jackson, this is James Fitzgerald with GenTec Research Labs, are you available tomorrow for a delivery?”
“Shit boy, I ain’t had y’all’s last delivery but a couple months. How in god’s green acre did y’all manage another critter already?”
“Dr. Jackson the details will be fully disclosed tomorrow, suffice it to say we felt it necessary to delay delivery pending further research and evaluation.”
“Twins then? Christ, ya know, y’all can make critters no problem, but I’m the one who’s rearin’ these little bastards o’ science.”
“As always Dr. Jackson, you will be compensated I assure you.”
“Ya, ya, compensated. Shit, well… I recon there’s no point in talkin’ if ya ain’t gonna tell me nothin’. Evenin’ to ya Mr. Fitzgerald. I’ll welcome your delivery in the mornin’.”
Now I ain’t sure exactly why, but that phone call was a splinter deep in my ass. And I couldn’t do no sittin’ but to think about it. So, I went upstairs to see how Willie was holding’ up. Janet the nanny said ain’t no doubt he was an angel, best baby she ever saw. Sure as shit she didn’t talk that way ’bout Waylon I tell you what. All together I had eight of them critters, all shapes and sizes. And the thought that they’d bring another in the mornin’ just took the fight outta me. I sat there thinkin’, watchin’ that baby fly around near it’s crib and thought, by the time that bugger’s grown, i’ll be an old man.
I took to peerin’ out the window, and them kids was playin’ football in the barn light, carin’ bought nothin’, just like kids aught. Elvis got the ball, put his head down and charged right through Spock. Waylon, so excited to tackle Elvis clocked Loretta in the face tryin’ to get to ‘im, and kept on tryin’ even after Elvis had scored a touchdown.
At breakfast the next day, I told ’em all to put on their smiles for the government men that’d be by anytime.
“But Jack, the doctors aren’t supposed to come for another three months,” said Spock.
“God almighty! What happened to yer eye?”
Elvis starting cow-chucklin’.
“It’s no big deal Jack, it’s just from football last night,” said Spock.
“You look like shit, why wasn’t Waylon guardin’ him?”
“Waylon was gaurdin’ Merle,” said Hank.
“Are the six of you retarded? You had the biggest guardin’ the smallest?”
“Don’t worry Jack, Waylon can’t move fast enough to catch him.”
“You know the day he does Merle will get mashed like a toad on the highway.”
“Waylon”s only getting slower, and Merle is getting faster,”said Hank.
“You better make out a will Merle, before Hank gets you killed.”
The kids all laughed and ate their breakfast. After some time the intercom buzzed and Hank jumped up to answer it.
“Hello, you’ve reached Dr. Jackenstein’s Amazing Monster Emporium. How may I direct your call?”
“Excuse me? Let me talk to an adult.”
“Hank, you idiot, get away from that thing.”
“I assure you I am quite capable of assisting you sir. Now tell me, are you interested in buying today, or are you just…”
I pushed Hank away from the intercom. “I’m sorry about that, this is Hartelius, I’ll be right out to meet you.”
“Jesus Cross-Dressin’ Christ Hank! I can piss off these people well enough without your help. Alright now critters, y’all stay here and finish yer breakfast, I’ll go see what they want.”
“Jack can I come? I’m already finished,” said Loretta.
“Alright Sweet-Pea, go get in the truck. Hank don’t forget to take a couple trout out to your sister.”
“Ahh, but I did it yesterday,” said Hank, “it’s Spock’s turn.”
“You heard me Hank.”
‘Bout ten minutes later Loretta and I were at the front gate. The delivery truck wasn’t the usual one, and neither were the men. I stepped outta my truck and some fella in a suit started talkin’.”
“Good morning Dr. Jackson,” said the man.
“Call me Jack. What can I do for ya?” I said as I disabled the security alarm and opened the gate. Suddenly their truck took to rattlin’ like a diamondback.
“We have a few items to discuss, perhaps you should send the offspring back to the house.”
“Na, she’s fine. From the sound of it ya brung back Janice. Why don’t I just sign for her and y’all can get back to playin’ with stem-cells.”
“Sorry. Jack, as I said we have a few items to discuss. The return of the test subjects is only one of those items,” said the man.
“Well, hit me man, I’m open.”
Another man got out from their truck holding a carrier kennel, and proceeded to hand it to me.
“Loretta darlin’, why don’t you take this new critter and hop in the cab. I’ll be along directly.”
“Ok, Jack. Can I take it out?” Loretta asked.
“No baby, not yet. Let me see what we got first.”
Loretta left, and the man in the suit handed me a clip-board, which I tossed on the hood of their truck and begun readin’.
“Wait… this one ain’t from Janice? What have you brains done now? Ain’t a thing sacred to you people?”
“We are trying to better understand our existence on this planet Jack,” said the man.
“You found some poor woman pumped her full of Sasquatch semen and expected to learn somethin’ other than it was a fucked up thing to do? What’s item two?” I said as I signed the first paper.
“The test subjects are being returned to you. I however, am sorry to say that the female did not survive the birth of the most recent offspring. We have estimated what we consider generous compensation for your loss,” said the man.
“Ok, tell yer boys to toss ’em both in the back of my truck. You just hit yer stride now, don’t keep me in the dark about item three.”
“You will find further compensation for the extraction and acquisition of eggs and semen from the test subjects,” said the man.
“You want me to sell you sperm and eggs?”
“We already have them Jack. I suggest you take the money. Your lawyer can’t do anything for you this time.”
“You listen to me boy. What yall’re doin’ ain’t right. Them critters ain’t just a science experiment.”
“Dr. Jackson are you going to sign the documents?”
“What about my request?”
“You didn’t wait for item four. We are as anxious to sever this relationship as you are. We received your request for official identification. You’ll find in the attached envelope birth certification reports for each of your ‘critters’. To obtain official birth certificates you will need to submit our official reports along with the included forms to the appropriate state office. GenTec will no longer be concerned with any of your affairs.”
So I signed everything they give me and (with Sasquatch, Janice and the new devil baby) started back to the ranch house. Each time they brung me a critter I wondered if I’d somehow heralded the apocalypse, but that daughter of the morning swaddled up in Loretta’s arms had my soul down right chilled this time.
“Soooo, Jack, what are we going to name her?”
“I don’t know kiddo, how about Skeeter?”
“Skeeter? Really Jack? That’s not a girl’s name.”
“Well, you name her then.”
“Ummm how about Patsy?”
“Patsy it is.”
I was floating above myself exploring the vastness of tiny places, when I noticed something I hadn’t expected, a head peeking through my wall. It looked at my meditating body, but must not have noticed I was aware and watching it from beyond myself. Whatever it was, it entered the room and began taking stock of my house, walking from room to room, not caring much for doorways or stairs. It didn’t touch anything at first, it just looked, and muttered to itself. “mmhmm… ok… ok… really?…”. Then with a deep breath and a short exhale it went straight to my bookshelf and began organizing them according to the Dewey Decimal system. I watched curious of it’s intentions and endured the irritation of knowing i’d be taking all the books off the shelf later and putting them back the way I like them.
After finishing with my books the obnoxious bastard began taking my DVDs out and putting them in the wrong cases. I snuck up behind the apparition, absolutely perplexed as to why this spirit was in my home fussing all too specifically with my possessions. It turned paintings upside down, filled all my coffee mugs with toilet water, put my socks on hangers, lacerated my shower curtain, put green food coloring in my fish tank, unhinged my bedroom door, clogged the toilet, put the toaster in the freezer, unscrewed the light bulb, all the while I watched, searching it’s actions for reason until it opened a bag of cookies and left them exposed.
The ghost let out a cry, left what i’m assuming was ectoplasm on my kitchen floor and jumped further into the pantry. It looked a little like a smokey chalk drawing disected by shelves. I laughed. The thing slowly peered out into the room, paused, eyes rapidly shifting within a stiffly fixed head.
-What are you?- The ghost asked, looking upward searching the corners of the ceiling for answers.
“I’m pissed is what I am. What are you doing to my home? Do you feed off my irritation or something?”
-Your irritation, what about my irritation? I look in here and everything’s in the wrong place. The food can’t breath, the movies are wearing the wrong clothes; you’re living in chaos. I’m doing you a favor.-
“I’m just going to put it all back the way I had it.”
-Put it back? What… why would you do that?-
“Look, I don’t care if you wanna come by from time to time to talk or play Cribbage or something. To be honest I’ve got a few questions for you, but for the love of god don’t touch anything.”
-Are you insane? You want to play games and talk about the weather as if you don’t live in shambles? You can enjoy this nightmare mad-house you’ve created, but I am never coming back. Ungrateful dick.-
And then it left through the wall mumbling obscenely. I closed my third eye and began cleaning the house. I put the books in order according to size. i returned my chairs so they could be sat in, and washed my coffee cups. The straightening calmed me and i began to slip once again outside myself. My body was quite methodical, cleaning from livingroom to basement, top to bottom, left to right. Everything going back to the way it had previously been before my visitor had arrived. At last the house was in order and weary from cleaning my body laid down.
The unnoticeables of the day received their voices, and passing cars and foot steps were muffled by buzzing electric street lights, and the clock’s assurance that time was being kept. The toilet and the sink seemed to be enjoying a conversation about something pleasant, and as the night became cool, the wood in the floors and walls cracked its joints and tightened into place. Outside leaves meandered and cat’s searched for mischief. I slowly became aware of all the happenings in the neighborhood, when faintly i heard a humming. A humming that seemed to be coming from inside my house, and was growing louder. Inside my office on a wall where i hung my notes, was another ghost, slowly removing my thoughts from the wall.
I nearly shooed this one out as well, but noticed it was not the same as the last spirit. In fact its form was entirely different. This one didn’t have legs, just a dress hung in the air by a head and arms. i assumed it would do as the former so i waited for it to create some disorder. But after it had taken down all my notes, it set them lovingly on my desk, all the while humming. It faced the wall, and then smeared something red on it in almost a dance like motion.
“Is that blood?” It stopped suddenly, slightly turned, slightly fluttered.
“Beat it Jackson Pollock.”
It turned to steam and as if sucked threw a vent it was gone. Suddenly there was a scream and a crash in the kitchen. A young asian girl dressed in moon-light white stood at the sink, washing a dish. Then she vanished and the plate fell. She reappear cowering, covering her face, screaming. The plate broke against the floor. With the shattering sound the girl once again vanished and the screaming stopped. But there she was again, standing at the sink trembling as she washed another dish. Drop. Scream. Crash.
“Stop stop stop, I’ll wash the dishes, you can go out and play.”
Then she screamed sitting in the corner, then balled up under the table, cowering near the stove, peering from a cupboard, on her back dragged by her long black hair. A strobe from place to place, always reappearing screaming.
The screaming stopped. I took myself above the house to look at the neighborhood. Apparitions were everywhere, picnicking on a neighbors lawn, vacuuming carpets, chatting with each other, driving cars, playing in a tire-swing. There were swirly mists, floating orbs, torsos, full bodied figures, some with horns and tails, some with wings, some were just shadows that moved without a form. Some were black, some were white, some were blue or gray. Every house on my street had at least one in it, or near it. Except mine. A mist moving along the sidewalk crossed the street when it came to my house, and then continued on.
Before everything and nothing, there were 2. He was in love and content with the intangible. Love makes liars of our eyes, and he did not see her discontent. She stared into the vacuous black stretching out her hand hoping she could part the curtain of nothingness and let something stream through like morning light. She longed and languished and suffered until one day she stepped into the black, and was lost.
He wept. Swirling tears burned from his face. The accumulation of his fiery lament was a great hot sphere. He looked at it astonished by it’s light. He imagined the pleasure she might have if she were to see it. He spoke to her, responding to himself.
“look at this, this is something.”
“yes that is something.”
“are you now satisfied?”
“well, is there something more?”
“no, this is everything.”
“well, then I am not satisfied.”
So he created planets and placed them around the fiery ball. Hoping she might be drawn back by the light, see what he had made and stay. But she didn’t come.
His love was tumbling water and he could not hold it within himself. So he kissed the dirt of a planet, and that sacred mud bore creatures. They digged and swam and flew and crawled, and as the planet turned the animals changed and multiplied, until one day he saw people. But they were dressed with senselessness. So he took his voice and gave it to the people and they began speaking and writing and teaching and were like heavy vultures, and sticky bees. They built homes like crows’ nests decorated with the ejaculates of vanity.
He no longer conversed with the memory of her, but instead watched the people live and die, live and die. Until one day he decided to give his power to the planet and become a man.
For many years he walked among them greedily busy and forgot who he had been and his memory of her became but a faint longing. On the day that he was to die, he laid down in a field and looked into the night sky.
On that day, she saw the light of his sorrow and was amazed by the planets. Then she saw the living planet and felt his love. She watched the planet turn and when she saw him she called to him:
“I have come back”
But he had no voice with which to respond and no strength with which to return to her. So she watched as he died, giving everything that remained of himself and becoming the planet. She looked at him, a mirror to the light of his sorrow, and with the choking regret of a guilty reality, fearing she’d break she made herself stone. And he with invisible strings pulled her close and hung her in his sky.