It was back. Or he was back, I suppose. The specter stood in the doorway with his cap pulled down low over his eyes. I pulled the blankets up higher and wiggles, making sure all of me was under. Blankets are a shield. Never leave the blanket. But he just stood there and stared at the floor. He never entered, never spoke. He would just stand there until he vanished.
It was me who changed the patterns.
I spoke, I asked who he was. He looked up slowly, his eyes dark and tormented. His words echoed in my mind and seemed to grip my soul. “I am your future.”
Then he was gone. He never did return.
It was an old house to start with, long before the family came to make the house a home. They brought laughter to empty halls and music to the air. They bright color to the gardens and hung pictures on the walls. They had no idea they weren’t alone.
The woman was in the attic. The kitchen. The bathroom. The garden. The hallway. She was especially in the mirror in the family room, smiling at the children as they played. Her dress was white.
The adults saw her rarely but they felt her often. Cold spots where there should be none, a bit of a breeze. It was the children who saw her, who spoke of her. She was their nice lady in white.
She was in their pictures. An older woman in a white dress with a smile on her face. She stood behind the children. They could see the background through her, but here she was. Their protective lady in white.
As the children got older, they began to wonder about the kindly woman they were seeing less and less. Was she nothing more than a figment? Their imaginary lady in white?
A century before, a kindly woman lived with husband and children and watched over them all. And when the Spanish Flu claimed her, she continued to watch over them as their guardian lady in white.
The silence was overbearing, the silence and the darkness. The sky was empty now. No stars shone in the infinite and the only sound left to us was our beating hearts, hers and mine. We had come this far to stop her and only I remained. The mission was a failure. She held out her hand to me. I stood and accepted it.
“We will bring about a new age, Adam. Accept that. Accept that we will bring about a new people, a new future. Embrace your fate.”
Hers was a forked tongue that told only lies, but I ate them whole. I drew her into my arms and our lips met, tasting sweet and sticky. Her mouth was still, after all, covered in crimson horror. She smiled and let the bitten heart fall from her fingers, reaching to tangle her fingers in my hair.
“I accept my fate, Eve.”
There, in her starship, I understood madness.
“Alright, walk me through this one more time. I’m not sure I follow.”
Barry was still looking at me uncertainly. I sighed a little and looked down at my hands, still cuffed to the table.
“Alright, so it started this morning when I went out to the circus. You know the one, up on the beach?”
The sun was beating down on me as much as it was on the kangaroo in the cage in front of me and I sighed.
“Bet you’d like something to drink as much as I do right now, wouldn’t you?”
He raised his head and I felt a tug on my heart. That was when the little light above my head began to glow, in a metaphorical way anyway.
“Two beers please.”
The girl behind the counter didn’t question why I, alone, needed two beers. Popping one, I began to drink as I walked the other back to the kangaroo.
“Here you go, buddy. Bet it reminds you of home.”
I punctured a hole in the side of his can and let the fellow drink it. The look of appreciation in his eyes was all the reward I needed.
“Okay, so I’m following so far, I think. How the hell did you end up naked on top of the rollercoaster?”
I blinked a few times.
“Man, I don’t know. I don’t remember that part.”
Watching the skies
hoping to see
the tiniest glimmer
of scale or of wing
they ride the winds high
over forest and dell
hunting on the breeze
for treasures of yore
never have I seen them
but ever do I try
In the forests there exists
another of long ago
a great beast of legend
whose might well you know
the horn shines bright
on a moonless night
to guide lovers lost
their hooves knell like bells
as they step light on forest paths
but never have I heard the sound
In sylvan holds
live those who know
the magic of song and dance
the ones who weave their art in trees
and guide the plants aloft
the sylvan folk once traveled out
but nary does now
in cavern hold lives
those who know
the song of metal’s chime
life in the forge fire
to sing with steel and iron
armor forged and blades cast
in a cavern underground
once found their way to markets ours
but nary anymore
walking in a forest grove
only birds sounding
my footsteps crunching leaves
eyes watch me on all sides
following me in the twilight glow
the wind blows, dancing in the fallen leaves
the boughs sway to and fro around the sylvan path
a song fills my ears as I walk along
a clearing lies ahead of me
entering, I see a lad clad in leaves and vines
in his hands, he cups a flute
and plays the forest to sleep
a sparrow on his shoulder, wolf pups at his knee
I stood and watched as animals slept all around this boy
he played a song of twilight and shadows
a song of sleep and dreams
as his song came to an end, the stars twinkled their glee
the moon rose to say good night
I looked again to see him
he raised his head with a wink and a nod and vanished before my eyes
forward I walk, through sleeping beasts
when caught my eye, a small thing on the ground
I lifted it gently, holding it to my lips
Take care of it, spoke a voice, for now you hold time
and blew a note, low and long
to watch the universe’s beginning from swirling infinity
Cyn sat in front of the mirror, the prom invitation on the desk and let the tears fall. There was a pounding on the door and she turned, quickly wiping her face on her sleeve. The door opened before she could say a word and she gulped. Her step-mother stood in the doorframe, hair pinned and tortured in curlers in preparation for the evening out she’d been planning.
“I left a list of chores on the fridge for you, Aaron. They’d better all be done before your father and I get home. Do you hear me?”
Cyn just nodded, keeping her head down.
Her voice caught and she winced. Her step-mother was walking into the room, striding with purpose as she looked at something.
“What’s this?” She flicked the invitation off the desk and a cheshire grin crossed her. “Is it prom season already? Well, that’s exciting, isn’t it? It’s not every day a young man gets the privilege of escorting a girl to their senior prom. Your father will take you for a tux, of course. Have you got a date yet?”
Her mind had gone blank, her veins turning to ice the moment the damnable piece of paper had been taken from her. Young man. A tux. She was freezing from the inside and she couldn’t look up anymore.
“N-no, Ma’am. Not yet.”
“You’ll find someone soon. Don’t you worry? Have you thought about asking one of the nice girls from church? I bet they would just love to go.”
Cyn’s step-mother tousled her hair and then turned to return to her preparations. For her part, Cyn waited just long enough for it not to be rude, closed the door tightly and dropped to sit hard against the door. She was shaking and the tears streamed down her face once more. Not for the first time, she wondered what it would be like to claw her own skin off, to take the parts of her she didn’t like and just be rid of them.
Her apartment was filled with flowers. Vases sat on every surface, and the petals were strewn on her bed. The orange lilies on the kitchen table, the cyclamen on the table by the front door. But the worst was the monkshood on her bed. All of this meant one thing: he had found her and she would be the next target in his deadly game. All that she could do now was prepare and watch out for any more unexpected flowers.
The attack was over in seconds, leaving nothing but desolation in its wake. There wasn’t even the crying or screaming, just the sound of broken concrete settling and the silent thrum of their craft hovering in the skies. The attack had been simultaneous around the entire world. Even beyond the cities, out into the countryside and the farthest, hidden villages. Now only two remained. Two humans: one male and one female.
“Keep them in stasis until we complete terraforming procedures and then begin the experiment again.”