The October Music Days 1-4
So, given that Facebook has may or may not been deleted as a whole, I'm posting these here.
I've decided that this October is going to offer me a new challenge. Every day, I will write a 500-word spooky story - not 499, not 501, ONLY 500 - and post it. I can't do anything else with it aside from those until the month is over. When it's done, we'll see.
Until then, please enjoy the first four days of The October Music. Day 5 will be up tomorrow morning.
Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me
You saw it, didn’t you?
The aching maw behind the world. High in the sky, blazing like a fiery beacon. New, glorious, glowing light from out of nowhere. It struck you as strange, didn’t it? Convenient, even. Yet, you held your tongue at first, for the sake of the people. Look at them. They were so happy!
They celebrated, the doomed fools. They called it a miracle. A second sun to warm the planet. To bring light to those shrouded in darkness. A blessing to ward off the impending heat death that worried so many. The fear of destruction was gone, replaced by a throbbing sense of hope and renewal.
But you knew better. You saw the hunger boiling inside it. You saw the eyes fluttering open from an endless sleep. You saw the first blinks of consciousness after aeons of peaceful slumber. You felt the rumbles of a long-dead being stirring from the grave to feed.
You tried to warn them, of course. You had no hate then. You saw life as valuable and saving the world as a privilege and a duty. You were naïve, my child. They laughed at you. Mocked you. Debated publicly about placing you in care to keep you away from society at large. They called you crazy, of course. Why would they not? To speak such truths to a world desperate for the blissful lie is blasphemous and worthy of punishment. You poor thing.
You didn’t bother telling them that the moon grew jealous. Why spend that energy on ungrateful swine who imprisoned you for trying to save them? Instead, you watched as hateful pulses leaked from gray stone high above. You saw the moon grow brighter as it ate all the light it could stomach. Nobody noticed, save you.
You simply waited. Waited and watched as joy and exultation started to take on a tinge of concern. You saw the sun grow and little drops of liquid hate spit from it as you stared, defiant, at the raging, roiling light. Somehow, someway, despite the agony in your eyes, you knew that it couldn’t truly grow as long as someone was watching. You took up the mantle, despite their abuse. Generous to a fault, you always were. Even as the days grew dimmer and your vision slid into blurriness and shapes, you continued your watch. Nobody would have blamed you had you stopped, but you continued. Until today, that is.
It was this morning when you woke up blind, the world around you nothing but a sheet of black. You knew in your heart of hearts that today would be the day that the sun would feast. You stayed in bed and here you are, curled up, listening to the screams of terror and pain as they all run for cover from the starving rays. You hear their desperate prayers for night to come and know, with a smile, that darkness will bring no relief.
After all, the moon must feed as well.
Bad Moon Rising
It started so simply. Just one off-hand comment from a woman with sharp eyes. Easily dismissed. Easily ignored. Easily pushed aside as nothing but ramblings.
“Did the moon always have that crack?”
Everyone laughed it off. Why wouldn’t they? Something so permanent deciding to change is always going to be met with derision. Fixed points in the universe are just that: fixed. Never change. Never grow. Never incubate. They always stay the same and always will. They are a literal universal constant that can be relied upon, even in the midst of chaos elsewhere in the cosmos. Things like that are a comfort in trying times.
The tides woke people up, though. It’s one thing to hear a crazy person scream about a crack forming in the moon. It’s another entirely for the tide system to be altered. When high tide and low tide become always high and always crashing, screaming, drowning, attention must be paid.
It was the scientists, as always, who were approached first. What was happening? Concerned yells echoed in their ears as they frantically ran to their telescopes and tried to observe what lurked above. That crack the wild woman shrieked about was no myth. No fabrication from a broken mind. It was real. It was deep. It was dark.
And it was growing. Fast.
The governments were next. Leaders met and demanded answers. Demanded action, as if anything could be done. Foolish people with foolish designs of power. They expected others to close the crack, to seal it up, and to return the moon to its former dormant state. What they did not realize, could not comprehend, was that time is inevitable. You cannot stop the progression of time any more than you can stop the world from turning. When you are finished sleeping, you will wake up. Why would it be different for others?
Bubbling, whispered panic is manageable. It can be quelled or muted through comforting words from powerful people. It is when the sound of rock snapping echoes across the entire world that the panic, once so subdued, boils over and becomes dangerous. It amplifies when some sharp-eyed paranoic notices that the shape of the moon has changed. That it is no longer an orb, imperfect and cracked though it may have been.
It is difficult to comprehend when what you see appears to be a tail.
The response was, as one may expect, a complete breakdown of society. The air is filled with alarms and screams and honking and the sound of sirens everywhere. Smoke and fire are commonplace and everywhere you look are people trembling in fear and coming to terms with the end of the world.
Within it all, though, there is a tiny sense of morbid curiosity. We see the tail and how it moves, just slightly, in the nothingness of space. What comes next? An arm or a leg? A massive glowing eye?
Or will it be a mouth, hungry after an eternity asleep, ready to eat?
There are different levels of being lost. There is being lost in a store, where you will always find your way out, even if the momentary panic is annoying. There is being lost in a city while driving, where every turn could lead you deeper into areas you should not go or to the street that will get you where you need to be. With that last turn comes blessed relief. There is being lost in the country, where every dirt road has the potential to lead into danger or to the highway which you so foolishly left hours ago.
With all of these kinds of being lost, though, there is the assurance, quiet though it may be, that you will eventually find your way home. That kind of lost will not go on forever and that brings a sort of calm in the midst of the anxiety.
There is another kind of lost, though, that offers no such peace. It is the lost you find yourself experiencing when you have plunged deep, deep, impossibly deep into a forest on a path you can no longer see. It is the lost where every tree spears the sky and bleeds a green canopy above you. Where you cannot know if it is day or night.
This lost is different. This lost has something else, something primal, buried within. The promise of familiarity no longer exists. You could walk and walk and walk and never find your way out. You could spend hours, days, weeks, months, even years wandering through the thick woods and never once glimpse the sun or any trace of civilization.
And those are normal woods.
What if you find those forests where something else exists? What if you find those trees that move and twist in the darkness to change your path and drive you deeper into them? What if you find a place where every step brings you closer to disappearing forever? It is possible to find places outside of the world where your fear and panic and despair soak into the soil and nourish the roots of trees ancient and patient. Those places that take the dark pits that scream at you of your doom and water plants that have existed and will exist from the rise of the universe to the snuffing of the cosmic candle.
You can fool yourself for a while, of course. Lie to yourself that you are just caught up in your animal instincts of fear and worry. You can maintain the fiction that you will be rescued for a long time. Days, even. Eventually, though, those false dreams fade away and you will find yourself grappling with the inevitable conclusion that you are trapped. At that point you will be faced with a decision that so many that have come before you have had to make.
Do you stop or do you continue? Life or death? Hope?
How will you respond when you now know there is no way out?
Tommy hated his older brother. Not for any normal reason, mind you. His brother was kind and friendly and everything that Tommy wanted to be. More than anything else, though, he was able to sleep normally. He would go to bed around 10 or 11 and wake up at 6 or 7, refreshed and ready to go and wouldn’t need a nap. Tommy, on the other hand, had a broken sense of sleep. Insomnia, they called it. Sometimes, he wouldn’t sleep for days and would start to slip into a light form of insanity. It was exhausting.
It felt like a curse, quite honestly. Like Tommy had been slapped with the inability to sleep out of some punishment for sins long since redeemed. Worse yet were the consequences in his daily life. He couldn’t hold down a job because of the erratic nature of his rest. Not to mention any sort of relationship he attempted was doomed from the start. It’s tough to maintain a sense of love when you’re falling asleep during sex or deep conversations, after all.
All things considered, Tommy felt like he had been dealt not just a bad hand, but the worst hand imaginable. In contrast, his big brother seemed to have gotten a royal flush. Perfect sleep. Perfect job. Perfect wife and family. Tommy loved him but, man, did he hate him too.
It was only when reports started leaking out about abductions in the middle of the night that things started to change. It was quiet at first. Subdued even. A college student here. An elderly person there. It seemed random. There would be quiet and then a scream and then quiet again. Sad, yes, but nothing deserving of more than a shake of the head and a pithy quote about how sad it is that the world has changed so much.
That’s when the President disappeared, along with the First Family.
The narrative changed then. People grew increasingly concerned about their safety. Gun stores ran out of products within days. Families locked themselves indoors, barricaded by furniture and their own creeping, pulsing panic. Tommy’s brother insisted, demanded really, that Tommy come stay with his family until it all subsided and he couldn’t think of a good reason to turn him down. So, after a little bit of packing, Tommy reluctantly moved into the guest room.
It was the third night of staying awake when Tommy heard the scuttling in the next room. Quietly, he crept out of bed and peered into the hallway. Something was there. Something big and black and chitinous. Something with a lot of legs. It turned when it saw Tommy and the two looked at each other before the thing went about its business. Tommy heard the screams from his brother and family, but did nothing except go back to bed.
As he lay there, curled up, he felt blissful sleep finally start to creep up on him and he smiled.
Some guys just have all the luck.
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Here is where I''ll post random stories that aren't, as of yet, in a larger book. Call it a free ride into the mouth of madness, yo.