by Lucifer Fulci
It was a love undying, the life that breathed inside her. A winter’s storm and snowfall, a mountain that reached the sky. Her eyes like lightning flashing, leading me back to home
My lady, sweet immortal, upon the wind she flies.
Even now, as I sit before the safety and confinement of my home, there is something that even locked doors cannot keep from me. Time cannot erase it and dreams allow it to find its way to my broken, blackest heart. The fear that I came to know that long and lurid weekend last December still haunts me with its otherworldly horror, and for this I am grateful. Before all of that terror and death, I had forgotten that I was even alive.
Looking to the left of me, I see the empty space in this king sized bed. There is far too much room for just me and even with the furnace running, it still feels quite cold at night. I cannot recall the last time I made the bed, really, aside from pulling the covers up and over it when the random company of passing friendships came to call on me. My first novella sits neglected on my bedside desk, still begging for a more mature rewrite.
I can barely hear the sound of the television, still playing the same disc that has been running in the player for over a month now. It keeps restarting itself and I could honestly care less. Its all just mumbling, just noise. My appreciation of film has been long removed and still, the mild noise from this machine offers me a comfort that I will not trade.
Outside there is some large dog barking at who knows what. I will not open the shades because I simply have no interest. I do know that his name is Louie, and his owner is the drunk woman clad in next to nothing sleepwear that wanders about, unable to keep control of the Doberman. I have met them both, and I much prefer the dog to the woman.
The month of December has crawled upon me again, this time much warmer than the last. The chilled state of Michigan has often been shrouded in snow by this time, but it appears that the weekend before me might be up to around 60 degrees. While this might be likable to some, I would rather enjoy a blizzard. It takes me far and away from the warmer, dry weather that I remember from the long, long ago of Los Angeles. The sky, she is black with her night and stars. Some thing, however, is anything but normal. This world has been changing before my unaffected eyes. The black is tense with blue and the air is thinner and smells of somewhere else.
It was there that I first found something of love…the love for myself. The love for a craft. The love of lights, sounds and wonder..the love for another. Such bliss could only be given to me by the heavens. So why then, I still ask, did they take it all away? Was it true, that we learn to lose in order to better appreciate gain? That we fall so we can learn to get back up? That we die on the inside so we can learn to live again?
It was there, in the big city, that I lost someone I loved. More than just simple adoration..a love…an action of love that kept me whole. She was there one day in late October with her large, magic eyes looking somehow sadder than I had ever seen them. By November, she was gone.
I had kept writing to her, always and ever trying to perfect this letter that would let her know that I realize how imperfect I was and still am…. and that I loved her still..that I needed her next to me in order to stay focused. It was this woman that made me the man that I loved. It was who I was, this couple we were, for so long, and I could not let her go, even though it was clear that she would not be coming back to me. I always blamed myself. I could have done something more. I could have been a better man. I could have kept the evil of this world away from her..tempting her and taking her away from me.
Where was she today? Still lost somewhere out there? Was she warm? Hungry? Safe? Did she roam above and beyond where the cracks in the sky lead to? Did she know what was happening in this late, late year to our planet? To the universe?
It took me six years to leave that place, to find my way back to Michigan so that I might hide away in the middle of nowhere. And it was here that once more, I found myself. It took me one white season to the next, escaping from even the smallest town where I dwell to a place far and away up north and alone, to locate the place in myself where I could be peaceful again.
The annual journey to a place I called Cold Woods Creeping was what gave me a reason to continue. It was actually in the northern woods near a place called Boine Mountain, but still so far away from everything else that I could easily lose myself by chopping wood and making a warm fire. It was there, for several weeks at a time during even the harshest winters, that I would find my way into the eldest tales of terror written by masters such as Poe and Lovecraft. The smell of the fire, coupled with my pipe and hot, strong coffee, would complete my fantasy world of chilling bliss, far removing me from the life I once knew. Back when I felt alive, somehow. It was back then that love had me…and I was whole. I would breathe and it felt as though I was breathing for a reason.
The last time I felt alive was this time last year. It was not for love, however. It was because of the fear.
It was the worst week of snowing that we had seen for years. I loved it. I decided that I would take a late night stroll down and around the bend. It was such a small town, I could easily walk down to the little diner and back in an hour. Even in the deep snow, I would not have much of an issue getting there and back again.
I bundled myself up and locked the door behind me. As I walked down the stairs from the third floor to the first, I gazed out the windows and saw that the snow was coating the ground in thick, solid inches. This was going to be fun. Reaching the bottom floor, I opened up the door and felt the chill of the winters air coupled with the darkness of night. She was there, my love, dancing in the wind and kissing my cheeks. She was the shadow of the moon, the darkness behind the light of the night. My everlasting sweetness, my long and lost.
I walked slowly, savoring the winter for all she could possibly be. I saw so much more than the color of white. I felt the solitude of a place like Antarctica and the adventurous hills of a Swedish midnight. I could get so easily lost in my own thoughts. It felt wild and free to me, to dream as I walked… dreams where death could not touch me or the ones that I love.
The sky was black as ever, except for the strange, blue trim around the full moon. Something wild in the color of it that night, something rarely seen. It was the glowing of the supernatural gleaming about and burning its life beside our lunar sister. I can remember thinking that it was quite an odd color to see next to the moon, but now I understand. I was not used to it still. The planet was changing all around, from up to down, and the skies were new and unknown again. It was not a night where anything would ever be normal again. It was a night for the supernatural.
As I trudged my way down the driveway of Grand Point Apartments, I realized that my gloves were too thin and the boot on my right foot had a rip in it and the snow was sliding on in and soaking my sock. That, and I did not care. The cold was just another way for me to realize that I was still alive. I thought about buying a pack of smokes and maybe a beer, but what the hell..why bother? There could be nothing out there that I could mask my own misery with that was nearly harsh enough. Life itself was the struggle that was an ongoing nightmare. One day, peace of mind. The next? Suicidal.
How I wished I could have shared any part of the winter time with my lost love. There was never a time that we shared anything except the dry heat and the cracked, orange and brown skies. For so long it was the pollution, but when the skies gave way to the holes cutting through from some other world, still silent for the most part, the colors changed and were never the same. It was only the daytime back then. Now, the night, too.
I made it as far as the first set of store fronts down Grand Blanc road when I noticed that the once popular tanning salon was empty. The signs were all taken down and it looked like a barren warehouse. I remember that it used to be filled with countless barbie droids, trying to look darker, attempting to look like women. It never worked, not for one of them. You are either born with lungs, or created with nuts and bolts.
I took a quick stroll over to the clouded windows and took a look inside. Nothing. Not even a box. What had happened to this place? Last I could remember, it was full of stuff. Full of fluff. I guess I had not gotten out like other people. I was always in my own world of the past…that, or in a world of horror. The light from the diner fired up enough glow to allow me to see my reflection. I had a face full of bristle, dark circles under my eyes and my hair? I did not realize that I could grow my hair that long anymore. It needed a good wash, too. I am pretty sure that I did not smell so hot either. How long had it been since I really took any kind of look in the mirror? That was a good question that I did not have the answer for.
Thick, white flakes of the frozen spilled upon my face as I looked up to the bright moon. I stuck my tongue out and tasted the cold and wet as it melted on my tongue. For a brief second I smiled, but not before my attention was shifted to the voices just down the way and outside the diner. It was the voice of a woman. Not the voice that I cherished in the lady I loved for so long, but it did sound familiar.
I turned my face and looked about. There were two of them. One as crying and the other consoling. I had to stick my nose into their business.
I started to walk towards them and realized that I did, in fact, recognize who it was.
Amy Foster and my other neighbor Bree, both outside and chilled to the bone, sucking down cancer sticks. Amy was the one in tears. Bree was listening in. I reached full earshot and began to ask if there was anything that I could do to help.
“Daegon,” Bree said, “man…can you take a minute and tell Amy that Cole was fine?”
Cole was Amy’s old man. It was hunting season and he was probably up some tree, stalking deer and awaiting a kill. I asked about that and Amy answered.
“He was supposed to be back last night.” She cried and tried to catch her breath a little as she took another drag of her smoke. “I bet he is out with that skank, Brandy. She was eyeing him last week at the video store again. I bet he has himself all up in her.”
Bree looked in my eyes and told me that Amy had been drinking and let her thoughts get away from her. It would not have been the first time, either. I had talked with her old man on several occasions when he was frustrated at how she loved her wine.
I asked her what she wanted to do. She told me. She wanted to go up to where he was at and see what was going on.
Looking up into the blizzard, I could see that someone was taking up their tiny hover-car into that mess. I barely considered driving on the roads, but the air? Tonight?
I did not have to think about this all too much. They were all good people, and if anything, it might be nice to check up on him. He was out there all alone and I knew where he would be. He had one good spot for hunting and he was proud of it. There was 2000 acres of private land owned by old man Stashko out there on Pine Hill Drive in Rose Township and he and Bill were fast friends. Even with all the snow falling, it felt like a good idea. I wanted to do something decent.
It should have been easy. Something to take me out of my own mind and pass the time of life simply being of service to someone else. Anything to take me away from self obsession.
The drive there was quiet, except for the dim sounds of some unknown music, low level on the radio and touching. Sweet. Something very pretty without words. We traveled slowly along the frozen highways and after some time, found our way to the last of the paved roads for miles. The tires slipped and slid, even as the car moved ever slow. Without being able to tell, we had hit the dirt roads. It was still several miles far and away, but we all knew where it was. This was not the first time any of us had all been out there to the Stashko place. That night, however, would be my last.
The final stretch of the long, forest shrouded road before the private drive was ominous. The only lights that peered through the darkness belonged to a select few flying crafts that were insane enough to be up high in such weather. My guess is that they wanted to get some kind of birds eye view of what these new colors were around the moon. Bree had said that it looked like heaven was creeping into the earth. She thought it was beautiful.
The world was changing again. We had no time to catch up with it. My guess was that someone would eventually find out, but we could not possibly understand in this life.
There it was, the old Stashko place. The house was amazing, huge and classic. It sat far away from any main road. The closer we got, the more we could see. There were a few lights on there, and yeah, Cole’s jeep was in the driveway. He was not out buggering the video lady. He was out there, up in some tree, waiting for some dumb animal to wander into his sights. He probably had no reception for his phone, or it was turned off.
I knew this in my heart. There was no other good reason that Cole would not want to deal with Amy. Even when drunk, she was a pleasure to be around. Silly, cute and often a bit immature, she could make you smile in a quick minute. This strange and supernatural world needed more women like her, for sure. With as many unanswered questions about the ways this planet was changing, a simple and reassuring woman could relieve one of their worries.
I turned off the car. The music stopped. I opened the door. Silence, except for the wind rustling about in the trees and the sound of chill, alive and breathing in the night. Looking about, I could see that there was nothing and nobody around. What was happening? The lights of my transport were surely obvious enough to allow someone to realize that visitors were coming up the long, dirt driveway. Where was old man Stashko?
Dan Stashko was a true humanitarian. Everyone within 100 miles knew who he was. He donated so much time and energy to the community, to the homeless. To anyone that was in need and not out to use him. He and his wife of 50 years would give up their Christmas day just to drive out to old Detroit to feed the needy. They never showed any sign of slowing up. They did not look or act like the eighty years that were, and if anyone were to attempt to test them? Well, some years back that happened. It would not happen again.
When the stars began to shine closer and the holes in the sky began obvious, people saw less and less of Stashko.
We walked quietly up and around to the back door of the house. Locked. To the right was a sliding glass door and a small concrete patio. The blinds were open just enough to peek inside. I gave a quick knock before peering inside. Still, nothing. I looked between the blinds and saw only candle light. I could make out nothing else. Each time I wiped away the snow, more scattered itself upon the glass and made it impossible to see.
I looked around and noticed something odd. My eyes followed what looked like a dark and shadowy trail out and into the endless woods. My curiosity peaked. I directed the ladies to go back to the transport and start it up.
‘Wait for me there,” I said. “I’m going to be back in a short bit. I wanna go and see for myself.”
Amy was fading fast. I could tell that her booze had made her sleepy and she did not have half the jealous interest that she had just a short while before.
“See what for yourself?” Bree said. She looked confused, but I dared not lead on what I thought I had seen.
” I wanna go and see if Cole is in the hunter’s spot. I should not be very long.” I gave Bree the keys and told her to keep the car warmed up and to take care of Amy.
There was no question or argument. It was cold and windy. The snow was covering everything in sight.
I took a look back to the dark spots in the snow and began to walk towards them, They lead back and out into the woods, quickly being covered in white. Still, regardless of that blizzard, I could see darkness below. Something thick and deep, frozen under the snow.
I followed the trail, deep and dark, and took myself away from that old house and into the dark of the woods. There was a strange feeling in the air, something that I could not put my finger on. It felt similar to when I first accepted the fact that my partner..my life..my angel was dead. She was not upset with me. We were not in a fight. She was gone, now and forever, and I was empty and scared. This felt similar. Perhaps death was abound.
In fact, even then I knew that death was near. I wanted it. I wanted anything that would make me feel something to bring me back towards a life. I was ready to freeze in the snow during my walk and I really did not know the girls that well…but I wanted something. I dared to take them along to the woods because I felt a sense of reason in doing so. And Cole? Sure, I knew him, but I had no fucking idea where his hunting spot was. This was as much of a little adventure that I would be getting anytime soon. I was ready and able.
…and then there it was….the shadows drifting in the white wind. They were obvious and alive, just above me and flying free. They lead me further and further out into the woods, right along the stream of darkness that bled into the ground. I had a slight chill up my spine and I loved it. The world was not what we all thought it was, growing up with those old stories of the Bible and some kind of mystical salvation up in the heavens. It was a life that was a mystery, still, but we had found out somewhere along the line that it was a computer enhanced thing and we were some kind of beings trapped in what could be called the most elaborate video game ever known. Everything that we wondered about and dreamed about did in fact have reason, and the scary things that we feared were nothing after all. They were all just pawns in the game of life. The real horror…the real sadness was in love lost. It was the true evil. The wicked thing called disease. The thing that stole the love of my life away from me.
Fifteen minutes deep into the dark, I came upon the end of the trail. It ended near a large oak tree that housed footing in order to climb upon the thing and into a small roost where one could hunt. Ten feet above the roof of the hunters hut, he stared down at me with the most empty, black eyes. Empty of spirit and drained of his life, Cole remained crucified and gutted, his blood frozen and dangling. His innards were frozen right along, dripping downwards and onto the hut and the tree. His clothing was entirely gone, as were his genitals. In the place of his crotch, a gaping, blackened hole with frozen blood caked and coating his legs.
I looked up to the black sky and could see three black things, shadows or demons, hovering above, the snow falling through their obvious bodies. The sounds of their unlife was a bellowing growl, an inhuman howl that sang evil along with the winds of the terrible winter.
I found fear in that moment. I moved my feet as swiftly as I could and raced back the way that I came. Part of me wanted to piss myself. The other part of me applauded the Gods for being so cruel, for being so wild. For keeping my soul moving.
As fast as I wanted to go, I could not. The snow kept me at bay, almost humorous, considering that these beings could easily capture me and do away with had they really wanted to. As I moved, they followed. I could feel their voices in the core of my soul. It rattled my teeth. It chilled my bones. Every moment, they seemed to fall closer to me flesh. I knew, I knew! They were going to strip me of my skin. They were there to drink my blood and chew my bones dry.
I drew closer to the car, hoping that the girls were ready to flee, car still warmed and steady of mind. I looked above and saw the ghouls flying and swaying, taking the time to bring horror to me. Above them, the skies were opening. A wild blue glow was growing and changing behind the moon. There was some event happening. I thought for a moment that hell was breaking into earth. I thought I would be dead soon. At that time, I thought it would be ok with me.
As I came back to the car, I saw that the doors were open and the girls were gone. In their place were large, fresh floods of blood and cracked bone, torn clothing and shit. I could see that there was a fire inside the house. It would be getting pretty warm around there, very soon.
I looked back into the sky and saw the specters dashing between the shadows, coming for me. Above them, a cascade of night sky colored with the universe pouring in from some other dimension. The cracks in the sky were now larger than the moon, and magnificent blue solar magics were swirling around and pouring down into the earth,
I stopped caring. I stopped moving. I surrendered.
I raised my arms to the sky. I closed my eyes. They came to me. Inside of me. Part of me forever. The colors out of the universe became one with the every day, part of me and everyone else.
I do not know what to call myself or others any longer.
One thing I know, still, is that my love of always and ever more is still away from all of this. Somewhere else, yet right in the middle of my heart.