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That one photo.
by laughingwarlock

Believe it or not, I actually really pushed myself to get that image to look exactly the way I wanted it too. So here it is separately in case any of you wanted to see it that way.

Another Story of the Hour
by laughingwarlock

So this weeks' Allan Allander is going to be a tad late. I finished a strip last Saturday an decided to upload it as a bonus comic instead of saving it as buffer for Tuesday. I overestimated how fast I could get the next one done but I should have it up by Thursday. In the meantime, I'd like to share with you a short story I wrote for my creative writing class.

The assignment was to take a written published story and re tell it from the point of view of another one of its character. I chose the 1824 classic The Story of the Hour. It's a heart wrenching masterpiece that proved to be one of the most influential criticisms on the institution of marriage during the 19th century. It can be read for free here. Naturally, I decided to turn it into a comedy.

 

Another Story of the Hour

by Ian Price


"Now Richards..." Josephine began, holding her head high. "...it's important that this news be broken to my poor sister properly. She's afflicted with great heart trouble, you know."

Richards was leaning forward in Mr Mallard's armchair, staring blankly at the wall in front of him. After a few seconds passed he nodded his head in something that could be considered acknowledgement. Josephine continued.

"It is of the utmost importance that that she be informed of this frightful event in... bits and pieces. Yes, that's it. We wouldn't want to give that poor dear a shock by just hitting her over the head with it all at once, would we?"

Richards gave another half-hearted nod. Josephine might have seen it before continuing again. She was pacing the study now, rubbing her thin chin with a finger that was wrapped in a long white glove.

"Yes, bluntness in the matter would certainly be quite unpropitious. Best to give her the news in as many broken sentences as possible. Leave the matter half concealed so she can... adjust to the calamity."

"What?" asked Richards, his voice wooden as he snapped back to reality.

Josephine peered over her shoulder at the old man, scowling. "Veiled hints, dearie. I'm saying that we let the girl figure out the matter for herself, so she can better reconcile herself with the news... and what it would mean for her future."

"Oh." Richards said, giving another another nod. It was more certain the last two he'd given, but not by much. His gaze slipped back to the wall and his expression went blank again. Josephine was not amused.

"What's the matter with you?!" She hissed, storming back across the room as fast as her dress would allow her. "Isn't this what you want? Isn't this why you're here? To make sure this business is done with the proper delicacy it deserves?"

Richards gulped. He had thought it was. There hadn't been a doubt in his mind about it less than an hour ago. When he had heard of the railroad disaster, when the newsroom had received a telegram detailing a list of all the victims, Richards had been struck with a conviction he hadn't felt in years when he saw Brently Mallard being listed amongst the dead. He had scarcely allowed himself to remain there in order to confirm the news with a second telegram before darting out the doors and down the road with a speed that he thought had long since left him. He had rushed down main street, across the shopping district, and finally through the back roads that led to the Mr Mallard's humble residence, where his wife would likely be expecting him home in an hour or two. Brently had been like a son to him and that meant that he was the one who was supposed to break the news to his daughter in law. He had to forestal any less careful, less tender friend in bearing the sad message.

Or that had been what he thought, at least. Because after pounding on the door as hard as he could for what he now guessed was several minutes all he managed to blurt out before collapsing was, "I'M TERRIBLY SORRY BUT A TRAIN SEEMS TO HAVE LETHALLY MAIMED YOUR HUSBAND!"

Luckily, it had been Josephine that answered the door.

Now, sitting in that chair, he felt spent from the whole ordeal. His legs ached, his lungs burned, and he felt that now since he'd already said the words he couldn't find it in himself get them out again. Not that they had been particularly comforting words in first place, which made him feel even worse.

"Um, Josephine?" He looked up again, hoping some the color had returned to his face. "Maybe we should try a different approach?"

"What." Responded Josephine instantly.

"Well, maybe we should be a bit forward. I could calmly tell her what happened to Brently and then we both try our best to comfort her?"

"Oh, like how you calmly told me outside the only door ten minutes ago?"  Josephine replied, her voice sharp as razors.

"Yes, exactly!" Said Richards, nodding enthusiastically. Then he realized what he said and began waving his hands in front of him. "No, I mean-"

"And how you proceeded to comfort me by collapsing face first on the doorstep?"

Richards sighed, defeated. "All right. All right." With some effort, he began pulling himself from the chair. "Very well, we'll try it your way."

The bedroom was on the same floor but to get to it from the study one had to navigate through several winding hallways and circle back again through a bathroom. It was either an ingenious mechanism to confound robbers or the brainchild of the most daft architect who had ever walked the earth. As the two made their way down the long oaken floors, Richards spotted a picture framed in polished steel and hanging by the stairwell. It was of Brently and Louise on their wedding day, ginning madly like the happy couple that they were. Brently had his armed wrapped around Louise's waist and was holding her to him tightly. Louise was laughing while clutching a bouquet of white roses, getting ready toss them into the crowd. As the they passed the photo, Richards was shocked to see that both he and Josephine were standing in the background smiling politely. That's right! Josephine had been the bridesmaid and Brently had chosen him to be the best man. How could he forget something like that?

The memories of that day came flooding back to him. The sky had been sunny enough to promise that it wouldn't rain that day but cloudy enough to discourage any distant relatives from attending when they really weren't all that welcome there in the first place. The cake had been delivered late but had tasted fantastic. And it had been autumn. The trees had just started to coat the ground with a layer of fragile leaves that would crumble at the slightest touch. And they had all been red. Red...

When they entered her bedroom, she was sitting cross legged under the sheets in her night gown. Evidently, there had been some problems the night before and now she feeling too weak to get up that morning. Nonetheless, she smiled sweetly upon seeing them and waved them in enthusiastically.

"Richards! It's so good to see you! Come in! Come in!" She smiled a little harder. "How have you been?"

Richards opened his mouth to speak but Josephine cut him off.

"Louise, poppet." She began. "How are you feeling?"

"Fine sister..." she jibed playfully. "Really, Jo. I wish you'd let me get up. I'm honestly long past that little fainting spell I had."

Josephine winced at the mention of her nickname, but she continued. "It's no trouble love, really. You deserve a rest after everything that's happened."

"Oh you." She laughed. "Honestly, Richards. If this woman had it her way I'd be doted on by a dozen maids and twice as many doctors with as much as she worries about me."

Richards tried to respond but found that after being cut off by Josephine the words he had wanted to say last time were now caught halfway up his throat. For the life of him he couldn't get them unstuck.

When she saw that Richards was remaining silent on the matter, Louise's smile faded by a hair. "But really, Jo. I simply must get up. Brently gets home in three hours, and it takes at least two to make the meatloaf."

"Oh I don't think you'll have to worry about that tonight, dearie." Josephine answered, trying to sound as sweet as possible.

Louise cocked an eyebrow. "Hmmm?"

Josephine was drumming her fingers together nervously now. Her eyes began darting to various object in the room as if they'd suddenly become profoundly interesting. "Well, you know that train Brently takes to work every day?"

Louise folded her arms and the smile all but disappeared. Not many people appreciate being patronized. "...Yes?"

"Well..." Louise began moving across the room towards her sister, trying her best to ignore the increasingly distracting items. "...there was a bit of an accident."

"Oh god he's not stuck in Yorkshire again, is he? There's so many Welch tourists over there that last time he came home beaten nearly half to death with consonants."

"No." Josephine sat down on the bed next to her sister. "Not exactly."

Now Louise's smile was gone. Her eyes had started growing wide. "What do you mean?"

Louise had moved on to preoccupying herself by tugging at the fabric of her white gloves. "Well, the accident was a little more... pernicious this time."

"Pernicious?" Louise grabbed the hands of her sister and gripped them tightly. Josephine found that the rooms' knick knacks were becoming positively enthralling. "What in the blazes does pernicious mean? Jo, what happened to the train? Where's Brently?"

"Ah, yes." Josephine's eyes fell upon Richards standing in the doorway. "Richards, would care to divulge a few of the particulars of what happened to the poor locomotive? I'm afraid I still don't know the exact details."

"The first five passenger cars went careening off a bridge when it rounded a bend and crashed into a large heard of sheep that had escaped during a recent mud slide. They toppled down a jagged cliff face for half a minute until plunging into the rapids below and were swept off towards the Atlantic Ocean. The rest of the cars were merely trampled by the remaining sheep and crushed under an ensuing second mud slide."

Richards couldn't help it. The words just popped out.

"Ah." Said Josephine, glaring at Richard's with the intensity of a thousand exploding suns. "I see."

"Brently was in the third car."

"Yes Richards that's enough."

Louise was besides herself now. "What does that mean?!" She asked between heavy pants. "What are you saying? Where's Brently?"

"Well he's..." Josephine's gaze was fixed on a lamp located slightly to her right.

"He's WHAT?! Buried under mud? Impaled on the side of a cliff? At the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean? Trampled by sheep? What?! WHAT?!"

Josephine said nothing.

"IS HE DEAD?!"

"I'm afraid so, poppet. Yes."

What followed was a whirlwind of tears, emotions, and frantic flailing that neither Richards nor Josephine could scarcely follow. First Louise flung herself into her sisters' arms and began weeping at once with wild abandonment. Then she reeled back and began screaming at the top of her lungs at the ceiling to alert everyone within a five mile radius of her loss. Then she threw herself back into her sisters arms before pounding the mattress until her fists were raw and storming out the room. She slammed the door with such force during her exit that the whole house seemed to shake. Richards and Josephine were so stunned by this development that they remained behind for several minutes before finally deciding to follow her.

"This is all your fault." Josephine said to him as they passed through the bathroom into the hall.

"Me?" Richard's snapped back. "I'm not the one who decided to turn breaking the news of Brently's death into a blasted game charades."

They began opening all the doors in the hallway, trying to find the one Louise had stowed herself away in. There had to be some hope left for fixing this mess.

"That was a nice touch with the sheep by way. I was really able to picture my brother in law's skull cracking open under a well placed hoof." Josephine had opened a door to a nursery Louise was preparing in case she one day found herself pregnant. She had told her sister that her heart couldn't take a child but Louise would have none of it.

She sighed. "This is why it would have never worked out between us anyway, Richards."

Richards stopped short as he was opening the door to the attic. A damp musty smell rushed into his nostrils and he buried his face in his sleeve. "Jesus. You're not really going to bring that up now, are you?

Josephine gazed into the nursery for a moment longer. There was a crib in the corner made of varnished hickory that was engraved with shapes of stars and the moon. Josephine suspected it had come from that carpenter who had owed Brently a favor. A plethora of stuffed animals hung from the ceiling above it, hanging from smooth linen strings and swaying slightly. There was a chest by the window for further playtime acquisitions, a carpet on the ground that was woven quickly but delicately, and a rocking chair which was draped with a thick woolen blanket. Josephine noted that nearly everything in the room was painted a bright baby blue. Everything except the blanket, which had been dyed with a deep crimson red. Red...

"No, I'm not." She said. And she closed the door.

They found Louise back in her study, the door locked behind her.

"You sure she's in there?" Richards asked.

"She couldn't have very locked the door from the inside out if she wasn't." Josephine hissed.

"All right. All right. Sorry."

Josephine pressed her ear against the door as tightly as she could and listened. Richards held his breath and a silence so great fell upon them they could have heard a pin drop.

"Do you hear anything?" Richards asked when he couldn't stand it any longer.

"I think so." Whispered Josephine. "I believe she's mumbling to herself."

"Well..." said Richards, now trying to lean against the door himself. "...What's she saying?"

"I believe she's saying..."

"FREE!" Louise suddenly bellowed from inside the study. "BODY AND SOUL FREE!"

They both cringed at the noise and soon Josephine was pounding against the door, imploring for admission. "Louise, open the door! I beg, open the door!"

Richards' reeled back, his head throbbing. Several of the blows Josephine had leveled onto the door had landed where he had tried listening for himself.

Josephine didn't seem to notice as she continued banging on the door. "You will make yourself ill! What are you doing, Louise? For heaven's sake open the door!"

"Go away." Louise responded. "I am not making myself ill. No. I AM DRINKING IN THE VERY ELIXER OF LIFE THROUGH THAT OPEN WINDOW!"

At this news, both Louise and Richards both began banging against the door in a reckless panic. The frame shook, the hinges creaked, but their combined efforts could not force it open.

Finally, Josephine turned to Richards and said. "Hurry! Go outside by the front to catch her when she jumps!"

Without hesitation Richard turned to rush down the hallway and down the stairwell with a speed that would have put the one he demonstrated less than an hour ago to shame. It was all for naught, though. He was scarcely out of sight when the door to the study was flung open and Louise appeared in the entrance, grinning madly.

Her hair was a mess. It was tangled and sticking out every which way as if she'd been wringing her hands through it with the zeal of a Scottish beard stylist. There was a feverish triumph in her eyes, and as she began marching down the hallway she carried herself like an unwitting goddess of victory. Her eyes were fixed forward and didn't even quiver in acknowledgement of her sister as she stormed off. Josiphine would've sworn she'd forgotten about her until she suddenly felt a something clasp her waist like a piece of bending steel.

"Poppet, dearie, love..." Josephine said breathlessly as her sister pulled her tightly towards her and paraded down the hallway faster than her dress would allow. "What are you doing?"

"This is it, Jo." Louise laughed a hearty laugh that seemed to have a immense guttural kick to it. "A new beginning! Henceforth there will be no one to live for these coming years! I will live for myself!"

They had now reached the staircase and Louise showed no signs of slowing her pace as they began to descend the steep, treacherous steps that led to the way outside. She passed her wedding photo with even less recognition than she had given her sister. In fact, Josephine thought she felt a deep chill emanate from Louise's very core as they were upon it and it made her shudder.

"Sure, I loved him... sometimes. But often I did not. What did it matter?!" Her words were bordering on coherent at this point and Josephine was trying her best to hike up her dress so her high heels wouldn't become tangled in lacy fabric and send them both falling to their death. "What could love, the unsolved mystery, count for in the face of this possession of self-assertion which I now recognize as the strongest impulse of my very being!"

They were both at the bottom of the stairs now and Josephine went wide eyed to discover that Richards had apparently never left the house. Apparently by the time he had gotten downstairs somebody had already been trying to make their way inside the humble abode. And after the latchkey gave a loud clank, the door slowly creaked open and a figure stepped through. As he stood there, bewildered at the scene before him, they realized who it was.

Mr Mallard stood before them, a little travel-stained but looking far too clean to be a ghoul who had just come back from the dead. After seeing the scene before him, he was still remarkably composed enough to continue holding onto his grip-sack and umbrella. He was slightly damp from the summer shower that had struck up ten or so minutes earlier but he hardly seemed like a man who had just climbed out of the Atlantic Ocean either. He stood amazed at Josephine's piercing cry and Richards' quick motion to screen him from the view of his wife.

It was too late. Louise looked up wide eyed at her husband and wordlessly breathed the word, "...Brently?"

And then she collapsed.

When the doctors came they said she had died of heart disease. Of the joy that kills.
1857 - _____
by laughingwarlock

 

So it's my final Semester of college and I've decided to take a second creative writing course. While going through some of my older work to get back into that writers' mindset, I found this little tale of mind and remembered how much I enjoyed it. I thought you guys may like it to.

1857-____

By Ian Price

 

Freshly fallen September leaves crackled under the young boy’s footsteps as he trudged behind his mother and sister, sulking. His eyes were still red from an ill-fated tantrum and every now and again he kicked at a passing tombstone. However, the cemetery was calm and quiet while the graves were stone and sturdy. So, ultimately, his protests went unnoticed.

“It’s not fair!” he finally shouted when his foot had become sore.

“We’ve already had this discussion.” His mother said, not turning her head to look at him. “You’re taking this walk with us because I said so.”

“But you promised!” the child whined. His words were met with a glaring silence. “But my feet hurt and I can’t walk anymore! And Suzy looks real tired too! Can we go home now, please? Pleeeeee-”

“MARTIN!” His mother shouted while whipping her head around, her eyebrows narrowed. And after that Martin hushed for a while.

Suzy only gripped her mother’s left hand and treaded forward as best she could. She had been holding onto it for the duration of the entire walk. As they moved further into the cemetery, she found herself relying on it more and more to keep her balance. Her chubby legs kept a steady pace as best they could while she breathed heavily through her mouth. The Zyrtec wasn’t working and she grasped her pocket inhaler through the fabric of her pink windbreaker.

The mid-afternoon sun beat down heavily upon them but the days were growing shorter and cooler. This left Martin feeling too hot, too cold, and entirely unpleasant. Against his better judgment and the aching pain in his pinky toe, he kicked another tombstone in frustration. A squirrel that had been digging for acorns on the other side was startled by the sudden thud and panicked. As it scampered out of its hiding place and towards the nearest oak tree, Martin decided to chase it.

As the mother saw Martin scamper after the bushy-tailed varmint, she opened her mouth as if to holler for him not to wander off. But then she decided against it. They had been wandering the cemetery for thirty minutes and hadn’t seen a soul in the place. Her voice could surely carry over the flat terrain. Besides, it would occupy Martin with something else to do besides giving her a splitting headache.

Unfortunately, the chase didn’t last long. The pitter-patter of the squirrel’s paws was easily able to out pace the clumsy legs of an eight year old. By the time Martin arrived at the base off the oak tree, the squirrel was already out of reach. It looked down at him from the second highest branch and when their eyes met it made a “Chuk chuk chuk” sound as if to say, “Thanks for ruining my lunch.”

Martin simply cursed and kicked the tree.

As he did, a dead branch that had been caught in the oak tree’s limbs since August dislodged itself and came crashing down from above. It landed ten feet or so away from where Martin stood and gave him a good start. He jerked around to see the timber that had settled on the ground behind him. It consisted of a long straight limb some three feet long with a dozen or so brittle twigs and branches diverging from its side.  Martin made his way over, cautiously picked it up, and snapped off one of the fragile extremities. He then snapped off another. He continued to do this until all that was left of the branch was its’ long central core. He had turned it into the perfect walking stick for somebody his age. Martin twirled it around experimentally, testing its weight. He then peered around to the other side of the oak tree and his eyes searched for his mother and sister. He quickly spotted Suzy’s pink windbreaker in the distance. They were unknowingly moving along the path towards him.

Martin smiled.

Suzy was now relying on her mother’s hand for support to a level that had become embarrassing. As she gasped for air and painfully put one foot in front of the other, her mother tried her best to hold her up. “Come on Suzy,” she cooed. “We’re almost there. You can make it!”

Her words seemed to give the girl a second wind. Suzy somehow managed to stand up straight and begin marching with the freshness she had at the beginning of the hike. “Good girl!” Her mother exclaimed. “Just a little further and-”

It was at this moment Martin jumped out from the tombstone he had concealed himself behind. Quickly climbing to the top of his hiding place, he held out the wooden walking stick, puffed out his chest, and shouted, “You…shall not….PASS!

For good measure, he threw his wooden staff down onto the ground where it hit a stray rock with a loud crash. The sudden shock was evidently enough to send Suzy over the edge, because she promptly started hyperventilating and within seconds had collapsed on her hands and knees. Gasping for air, it was all she could do to try and reach into her pocket for the inhaler. However, her sputtering and wheezing had robbed her of enough dexterity to effectively operate the coat’s zipper. As Suzy’s face began to turn bright red, her mother wheeled around with a look of fury on her face.

Martin!” was all she shouted before she bent down to assist her daughter. As she reached for the windbreaker’s pocket she said, “Move your hand, sweetie.”

Suzy obliged and within a few seconds the inhaler had been removed and two heavy pumps were unloaded into her lungs. When her mother was sure she was breathing normally again, she focused her attention on the culprit of the incident.

Martin had watched most of the episode standing on top of the tombstone where he had initiated it. His face had been frozen in a blank stare with his mouth hanging open awkwardly. It was the expression youngest children wore when they knew they had crossed a line and were on a head on collision course with a time-out. But when his mother had bent down to help Suzy, he must have decided that it would be a better idea to face his punishment when he wasn’t standing on top of a tombstone and he promptly climbed down. As he stepped down from the stone monument, he glanced at the inscription engraved upon it.

Fi  s h e r

1857 Frank P    .

His Wife

1858 Sarah Looton 1917

His Brother

1851 Cyrus 1902

His Sister

1854 Elvira S. Lanning 1910

The blank expression remained on Martin’s face. However, a twinkle of curiosity had snuck into his right eye. He continued to stare at the tombstone’s writing while his hand unconsciously went to grab the stick he had flung onto the ground earlier. However, before he could grasp it, his wrist was snatched up by his mother and he was roughly pulled towards the direction of the car.

The three of them walked in silence. The inhaler had done Suzy a world of good, although her face still showed a shade or two of red. With the parking lot around the bend, she seemed motivated enough to actually walk the rest of the way. That was fortunate because she was no longer the proper age or weight to still be carried on her mother’s shoulders.

The mother was walking along the path staring straight ahead and with a scowl on her face. She seemed to be having a hard time deciding between walking fast enough to tug at Martin’s wrist or slow enough to prevent Suzy from having another asthma attack. Like all mothers would have done, she settled upon the later. The time it took to walk the to the car proceeded at an excruciatingly slow pace because of her decision, so she gripped Martin’s hand like a vice.

Martin did his best to ignore it and used his free hand to count. He was of the age where it was assumed that he knew basic arithmetic and the like. But he was also of the age where young boys need their hands to help them count to the really high numbers. Having use of only fiver fingers seemed to hinder his calculation skills greatly and several times he tried to jerk his other hand free to aid him. His mother held fast and every time he tried to break from her grip it tightened even more. Eventually, Martin decided to give up the fruitless battle and settle with what he had.

Eventually a parking lot came into view. It was completely vacant of anything but a yellow Volkswagen Beetle. Martin had the correct answer before he looked up to see it.

“One hundred and fifty one years,” he said aloud.

The silence now broken, his mother decided to speak. “I’m very angry with what you did to your sister.”

“But you promised.” He replied.

She promptly let go of his hand and slapped him hard across the face. Martin’s face cringed as the palm sent pain ringing throughout his cheek. The skin was left with a prominent red mark and the boy’s lip began to tremble. But as his eyes began to well up with tears, his mother simply kept walking towards the car as if she had done nothing. Martin stared at his mothers back as he tried to choke back a few sobs. The two ladies soon arrived at the car and the mother reached in her pocket for her keys.

Martin then clenched his teeth, narrowed his eyes, and began to run forward as fast as his legs would carry him. His sneakers kicked up dirt as they ran along the path and began loudly scraping against cement when he crossed into the parking lot. Before his mother to could turn to see what he was doing, he had already reached her. He then reared back his leg as far as it could go, swung with all his might, and kicked her straight in the rear of her heel. She immediately cringed in pain and fell against the car, cursing loudly. Before she could turn around and grab her son, Martin had already doubled back and scurried into the graveyard once again. As he disappeared from view, his mother bent down to rub her heal and try and comfort a very shocked Suzy.

Meanwhile, Martin was running deeper and deeper into the cemetery and panting heavily. His face was once again wearing that expression of an impending reprimand; only its’ blankness had been intensified ten-fold. Yet he ran further.

Eventually, he reached the oak tree where he had lost the squirrel and collapsed. As he tried to catch his breath, he looked over his shoulder for the first time to see if his mother had followed him. She hadn’t. He managed a sigh and sat up straight, rubbing his face where his mother slapped him. As he did, he noticed somebody else in the distance. A man wearing a black coat and long silver beard that could be seen from a mile away stood at the bottom of the hill, facing Martin. However, the figure seemed to take no notice of the boy. His gaze was focused downwards upon one the headstones. He stared at it with an unblinking persistence, resting on his wooden cane with stillness like that of a statue.

Martin’s eyes went wide, as if he had realized that the grave the man was standing before was the very one that he had used as a hiding spot only a little while earlier. Apparently curious at this new development, he crept out from behind the oak tree and began to slink towards the old man as quietly as he could. As he tiptoed over the grass towards the bent over figure, he remained close to the other gravestones. They could once again provide discretion in case the man’s gaze suddenly went upward. As he got closer, he began to see the man more clearly and Martin’s face twisted in repulsion.

The man was aged beyond all reckoning. His face was wrinkled like a raisin yet the skin hung off his bones like wet towels on a laundry line. Even behind the massive silver beard, Martin could see his jowls hanging to the degree where he took on a bulldog-like appearance. Veins were visible under every inch of his skin and the fingers that rested upon his cane were gnarled grotesquely. Martin was about to observe the yellowness of his overgrown nails when suddenly the old man croaked, “What are you doing over there, young man?”

Martin’s eyes became wide and he immediately stopped tiptoeing forward. Unapologetically expressing his surprise, he remained still for several moments, unable to find any words to respond. The old man’s gaze remained fixed upon the headstone as if he hadn’t said anything at all. After a moment had passed, the old man spoke again. “Well?”

Martin braved two steps forward. “I came back to get my stick.”

“Hmmmm…”

The old man continued to stand still and stare at the grave. Martin cautiously circled around the grave towards the side where the old man was standing. He kept his eyes on the black-coated figure, but he remained immobile. When he finally reached the other side, he glanced below where the old man was staring. Sure enough, there was his stick. It was lying precisely where he had flung it down earlier and had not moved an inch. Martin moved to pick it up but the old man said, “Don’t trouble yourself, lad. I’ll get it.”

With that, he began to lean down and pick it up. As he did so, it sounded like a tree was slowly falling over. Cracks emitted from every nook and cranny of his body with such volume that one would wonder if his bones were splitting apart. He moved with such a decrepit slowness that it was a wonder how he had gotten to the tombstone without Martin seeing him. If he moved at this speed all the time, then he couldn’t have possibly walked all the way to the tombstone in the time it took Martin to make his unplanned round trip. Nonetheless, the old man’s gnarled fingers eventually curled around the piece of wood before he raised himself up again with a pace just as excruciatingly slow.

He held out his arm to Martin and said, “Here you go.” Martin took it without question and the old man asked, “What’s a nice young boy like you doing in a cemetery?”

Martin examined the stick for a few seconds before saying, “My sister’s chubby.”

“…And?”

He looked up at the old man like his answer had been perfectly clear. When he realized that it evidently wasn’t, he said, “We took my sister to the doctor to get her Asthma checked out. The Doctor said that she’s too heavy for her age and she needs to exercise. So me and my mom take her for a walk every day.”

“That’s a very nice thing to do for your sister.”

Martin scowled. “My mom promised me that if I went with Suzy for her walks every day for a whole month, then she’d buy me a game boy for my birthday. But then she broke her promise.”

At this the old man chuckled.

Martin banged his stick on the ground. “It’s not funny!”

The old man tried to contain himself. “I assure you lad, I’m in no way laughing at your expense.”

Martin seemed to believe this, because he relaxed his grip on the stick. He then moved to stand beside the old man and rested its’ edge on the ground. He stood there next to him, leaning on it in the same manner the old man leaned on his cane. They both looked at the tombstone and Martin saw the inscription for a second time.

F i s h e r

1857 Frank P    .

His Wife

1858 Sarah Looton 1917

His Brother

1851 Cyrus 1902

His Sister

1854 Elvira S. Lanning 1910

The two of them stood in silence for several minutes. A gust of wind raced across the open field and coaxed the fallen leaves into a lively dance. But their swaying to and fro was interrupted as they banged and crunched against the gravestones that blocked their path. Finally, the old man spoke again. “If I could give you two pieces of advice, boy, it’d be these. Don’t take your youth for granted. Life may seem to go on forever but the first birthdays will fly by before you know it. No matter how long you live, you’ll never get them back. But more importantly…”

He tore his gaze from the grave and craned his neck to look at the clouds. “…Don’t take the promises of others hastily. The people who can break them usually will. The people who can’t will only try and fulfill them in the barest sense of the word.”

Suddenly, Martin began to choke violently.

It’s of the utmost importance to note that Martin would have no recollection of what transpired next. Despite being questioned on it numerous times he would never be able to rack from his memories for the following few minutes.

As Martin’s throat tightened and he clutched his stomach in pain, the old man became visibly concerned. “Lad? Are you all right?”

But Martin didn’t respond. He dropped his stick to the ground so he could clutch the tombstone with his other hand to better balance himself. As the pain in his stomach and throat only increased, he clamped onto the stone even tighter and raked his nails against the gritty hard surface. His face contorted, his hair stood on end, and finally his eyes began to roll into the back of his head. The old man, at this point, had become beside himself with worry. “Boy! Boy!?Speak to me!”

Martin answered him with a chuckle.

The choking died down and Martin let go of the tombstone. He moved his hand from his stomach and began to stand up straight. The old man’s shock, however, had not dissipated in the least. And it only increased when Martin smiled and turned towards him.

Martin’s eyes were completely rolled into the back of his head. Nothing but the whites was visible. However, despite possessing only two orbs of ivory in his skull, the boy was able gaze directly into the eyes of the old man. The old man dropped his can, stumbled back a few steps, and uttered some words incoherently under his breath.

At this, Martin’s eyes narrowed and his smile widened. His lips began to move and he uttered in a voice not his own, “So, Frank. Was it worth it?” He then fell to the ground and began convulsing wildly.

The old man just stood there for a moment, his heart beating like a jackhammer. His face had turned chalk white and he clutched his chest breathing heavily. Then, hearing the spasms of the young boy on the ground, he forced himself back to reality and did his best to lean over the boy. The smile had faded from Martin’s face and was now replaced with a gaping mouth that was starting to foam. He was about to stick his fingers down the boy’s throat to prevent him from swallowing his own tongue when suddenly a voice rang out from the other side of the graveyard.

“Martin! Martin! What the hell are you doing to my son?!”

The old man turned to see a woman in her mid to late thirties racing across the graveyard towards them. She had a frantic look about her. Evidently, seeing a black coated old man crouching over her collapsed son had not made a good impression with her. The old man swallowed and did his best to shout, “He’s having a seizure!”

“You get away from him! You get the hell away from him, do you hear me?!”

The old man didn’t want to leave the young boy in this condition. However, when he looked down at they boy’s face, he thought he once again saw the wicked smile Martin had worn only moments ago. The memory was evidently still fresh enough in his mind and it caused him to get up and begin sprinting wildly across the graveyard and away from the woman who was now only a few feet from her son. The old man was suddenly able to move with a speed and athleticism one wouldn’t expect for his age. By the time Shannon had crouched down and cradled her son’s head in her arms, he had already disappeared over the other side of the hill.

“Martin!” she shouted. “Martin! Don’t worry, sweetie. Everything is going to be OK.”

Four hours later, Martin was sitting upright in a hospital bed. He was wrapped in cotton teal sheets, in perfect health, and playing with a brand new game boy.

Picture copyright me.

My theory on Slenderman
by laughingwarlock

So if you don't know who Slenderman is, he's basically the first Internet created horror icon. With origins starting on a simple Photoshop forum, he's soon become akin to the loch ness monster on these here tubes these days.

Yeah, when you see it, you'll shit bricks. I could go on about the details and all, but I think know your meme does a much better job than I ever could.

And if you'd like to see a good web series with him, check out Marble Hornets.

And if you want to see him parodied to the point of hilarious absurdity, check out this.

There's several other web blogs and podcasts out there if that doesn't full fill your not so slender needs, but right now I'm going to assume you know enough about the character to like him, fear him, and wonder exactly WHAT is he? He sure as hell harkens back to Lovecraft and his eldritch horrors. The monster that exists in our world beyond the precipice of our understanding only to strike down people who ultimately get to close to him. The feeing that, if he so desired, he could strike down any living creature at random at well. Yet there's still something altogether different about him that separates him from the literature fiction of a hundred years past. There's certainly that same unknown horror in him, but in an altogether way. The question is... why?

I firmly believe that Slenderman is the slasher villain personification of quantum physics.

Allow me to explain. A key element of quantum physics is that something won't exist until you know it does. it's a weird paradox that only makes sense in practice, which can be done always and never. Confused yet? Basically, the more you know about certain things of the universe, they more they're defined. A particle in a box will only be green when you have the lid open and are looking right at it and all its greenness. When the lid is closed, it actually is any color in the universe.

Now, if you look at the Slenderman mythos, who are the primary victims? That's right. Inquisitive small children and film students who are sticking their noses into places that don't belong.

That's right. These victims are people are those who would be inclined to find out about what exactly Slenderman is. And, as they learn more about him, he continues to be defined in reality. And  in turns puts them in danger.

Slenderman is the particle in the box. You don't know what it is, who he is, how exactly he works, and how he does it. He exists on a different plane than us and at the same time doesn't exist at all... until we decide to find out otherwise. The more you look into what Slenderman is, the more you watch his web series, and the more you find out, the more in danger you are. Because he becomes real in your mind and outside it. He could be an entirely different abomination for two separate people and a passing glance for anyone else who just doesn't care.

And I made you watch the web series. So now you're in as much danger as I am. Ha ha.