Stained Glass

It was in a nondescript flat, wooden box in the basement, a leftover from previous tenants now long gone. Or the tenants who came of left before the last couple who lived here. Rosalind couldn’t really tell, nor was she particularly interested in dragging that heavy box upstairs to take to the corner for trash day. Something about the box piqued her curiosity, though, especially the light that seemed to shine through one of the uncovered edges.

It took her an hour to pull and drag the box up the wooden stairs.

After finding a hammer, she flipped it to the prong side and began pulling out the nails, carefully tossing them in a neat pile. The wood seemed old, and gave way to her strength as she pulled out a large, round pane of stained glass. Looking at the wooden walls in the living room and dining room and the square window panes, it occurred to Rosalind that this could not have been installed in the house because it was too big for any house. It belonged to a church, perhaps a church long gone.

As she studied the design and colors, she noted the familiar image of the Virgin Mary and Child, how the pane seemed to capture the sunlight coming into the kitchen as if to store its ray like a solar panel. The room began to fill with a warm glow, and the air was suddenly fragrant with the smell of fresh roses. As Rosalind began to fill with a certain and familiar quiver of her state of “tipsy,” it occurred to her that no church would have commissioned such a work for their sanctuary, for it would not have been deemed acceptable for the masses.

What was once thought to be basement junk was now a center of attention in her living room as found art to outsiders who visited her as it hung on her wall seeming to have its own source of light even as the sun set outside.

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Return

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Insane.

That was the rumor running around town when it came to her. Crazy as cat shit, said no one to her face, but the label stuck to her whenever she showed up to the farmers market to buy eggs and string beans.  She lived in a brick house on the corner of Greene and Woodland streets near the edge of Vidalia Township.  No one visited that house, save for postal services who would drop off boxes once a month to her porch steps.  Her cats (hence the crazy as cat shit label) strolled around her fenceless yard, a dreary patch of dirt with a strange twist of trees covered in blue and green bottles. They never centered past her property and seemed to pose like sentries around her house in silence.  No one knew her true age, or how she managed to buy groceries, much less the packages that came from Amazon, or even less the taxes on her property that surely increased as would be expected of a town now popular with gentrified families seeking small town goodness near a bigger city.  She had no children or husband to speak of, no family or friends who would defend her reputation, so the label stuck.

Crazy.

And of course another name usually came in a harsh whisper:

Witch.

So said the neighborhood a bit louder and with more urgency when the newly arrived widower moved down the street on Greene and began to introduce himself to the locals.  A quiet but friendly man of advanced years, he was newly retired from the Army after decades of working as a physician in the Army Hospital in Germany. He had no children, and after burying his wife he settled for a small, neat house with a comfortable pension and sizable library to keep himself busy.  His rose garden was a pleasant distraction from the swirling gossip that landed near his door with the first neighbor welcome.

The warm welcoming came with a warning to avoid the crazy witch that lived on the corner. He thought otherwise.

As he sauntered up her driveway holding a dozen freshly cut roses, she took note of the familar gait of his walk as he moved towards the front porch. She stepped outside her door and gazed on the man meeting her eyes with recognition and warmth. She removed her shawl and draped it across the left arm while her right arm extended to the roses he clutched. He nodded as he clasped her bird like hand.

”Welcome home, my Love.”

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#ww470 #30days Never Ending Light

Waiting for night’s rest became useless about a year ago.

To be honest, I’m not sure my existence here is proof that I am alive. I could be in some sort of Purgatory. Food and water tends to be whatever I find on this island, and the cave I use for rest is warm–though strangely empty of inhabitants I would expect in a dark place in the wild.

But no one else and nothing else living beyond plants exists here. The sun never fully rises or sets. It hovers, as if time itself is waiting for something.

I remember life before the here that is now.

I remember falling asleep at night, waking up to go to campus for a meeting, and seeing/feeling heat as if the sun itself had landed in the middle of town. I remember the crush of debris and white-hot air as the megaton warhead exploded and my skin began to boil–then there was here.

Waiting.

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Revenant #30days #ww470

It was cold to his fingers when he touched the edges of the canister.

He expected to see a candle when he crouched to the ground to pick it up, but no, it was a free standing flame inside a lattice patterned canister in the middle of the park at night. The flame seemed to dance back and forth as he picked up the metal frame as if to speak to him. He looked at his German Shepherd companion keeping him company during his night walk and noticed the hair flailing out from his tail as he slowly backed away as if in silent alarm. The man returned the light to the ground and also began to back away, suddenly feeling dizzy and slightly panicked. The light began to ascend from its cage like a firefly and inch its way toward the man and his dog as they turned back to the narrow path towards home. Both wind and feet rustled through the forest as they fled from uncontrolled flames that now consumed dry branches and leaves left in their wake.

Bottle Service #7 (Thirty Stories in Thirty Days) by Cherie Ann Turpin

Bottle Service #7 (Thirty Stories in Thirty Days)
by Cherie Ann Turpin
bottle_service_main
A quiet crowd hovered in the alleyway between [] street leading up to the dull, gray door of Aremwen’s Parlour near opening time, 11 p.m.  Two Nephilim hybrid brothers, one with Black skin, one with White skin, stood at the entrance as security, quietly surveying the makeup of the chic crowd.  Both men wore matching black suits, sunglasses, and Secret Service style earpieces, but they reserved the electronics for human eyes and ears, as they were adept at telepathy and teleportation.  They were quite useful as security not just for their  7’8 height and massive chest and arm muscles, but because they were magical beings like the clientele of this private club.
BOTTLE-SERVICE
The bar was located in the alleyway near an art gallery just before the C&O Canal at the bottom of Georgetown.  It was the only venue that openly welcomed Phorzhicoans, witches, vampires, demons, angels, shifters, warriors, extractors, telepaths, fallen deities–in other words, all uber-natural beings often not welcome among humans in social settings.  Mary, who was a vampire, owned Aremwen.  At 300 she still looked like a slender teenager with smooth, dark brown skin, and a tall Afro cut down the sides into a mohawk.  She was originally brought to the New World as a small child from Ghana.

After surviving the Middle Passage, Mary was sold into slavery to a small farm outside Jamestown, Virginia.  Her Vampire Mother, under the guise of a freedwoman midwife, rescued her from the lecherous slave master whose nefarious intentions had already resulted in an unwanted pregnancy and birth of a stillborn girl.  After smuggling the almost dead 19 year-old from the farm, the “midwife” offered Mary the choice of a quick death to relieve her of the painful, uncontrollable bleeding that would certainly result in her eventual death, or a new life that would free her of human pain and enslavement.  Several centuries later, Mary owned a high-end bar that offered Bottle Service to VIPs, a complicated but extremely profitable service, given the special appetites of her VIP clientele.

Few of the ordinary patrons who sailed through the bar could afford Bottle Service–contrary to the myths, most supernatural beings these days struggled to make ends meet by working like the humans–but there were a few who had not been around long enough to know of Mary’s wrath who deemed themselves cocky enough to attempt to run a scam, i.e., get Bottle Service and skip out on the bill.  Such was the entourage of new vamps in the corner, loud enough to partially drown out the techno music pumping through the bar.  Some of them were too young to even have the knowledge of comparing vampire powers.  Had even one of them known the full extent of Mary’s power none of them would be destined to be tied to each other with heavy silver chain links, prone, and in a pile like logs to be set afire in the venue’s basement.

Mary would soon have a nice talk with the Nephilim brothers, because they were either clearly off their game tonight, or she had two very strong creatures who were in on the scam.  Either possibility brought dread and not a little bit of irritation to Mary, as she stared at the quivering set of baby vampires in the corner.

This was not going to be a good night.

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“the devil made me do it” by Cherie Ann Turpin #4 (Thirty Stories in Thirty Days)

“the devil made me do it”

by Cherie Ann Turpin

#4  (Thirty Stories in Thirty Days)

the-devil-made-me-do-it-documentary-1-638

“The devil made me do it,” Gavin said, staring at Lil with that sick grin, his eyes burning with a certain satisfaction.  A short, thin blade covered in red flame pierced the night air as it propelled towards her chest like lightning.

Typical.  Gavin loved to brag.

It was and still is a common excuse given by many who commit acts of violence against another to blame the devil.  Such claims are occasionally written with fingers dipped in blood and other fluids still warm and steaming.  The devil, indeed.

In Gavin’s case, he was speaking the truth.  No horned man or Baphomet-like figure spoke to him.  No, this manifestation of evil was the true fallen angel who came to him as a result of an elaborate summoning with all the requisite ceremony Gavin was known to employ when engaging in invocation.  In short, Gavin opened himself to true evil in order to bargain freely and for that he would gain the unholy power and wealth to which he believed himself to be entitled.

Or so he assumed when he agreed to bargain away his soul.  Gavin was on an assignment, the kind of assignment that would, upon completion, see the majority of her blood supply pool around her body.  There were other women who would share the same fate if Gavin succeeded in his task of murdering her.  Lil already knew of this assignment, as well as the likely trajectory of his path long before this moment.

Lil rejected this same offer given to her by this entity, and she did so knowing that she would become a target for the next soul weak enough to fall.  It was a vulnerability common to spirit warriors who worked with the dead.  It was common enough occurrence for seasoned warriors like Lil to expect confrontations from the fallen one through weak vessels like Gavin, who lusted for power and glory at the expense of those humans he previously pledged to serve.  His greed blinded him to the pitfalls of trusting an entity who had not warned him about Lil’s secret gift.

Lil shook her head with disappointment in her former pupil as she warded off his attack with her right hand, flattening and rendering the dagger into dark space before her.  Raising and pushing both hands towards Gavin, she pushed him and the air around him in that same dark space, the dry, hollowed space of the Entrapped, a prison of sorts filled with perpetual longing for the water of life for the unfortunate wretch who attempted to do mortal harm to the one who possessed the power of Shadow Entrapment.  Until this moment, Gavin had no knowledge of Lil’s full talent as a spirit warrior.

Unlike Gavin, Lil avoided telling everyone specifics about her gifts.

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“freeze” by Cherie Ann Turpin #2 (Thirty Stories in Thirty Days)

“freeze”

ice-cubes_410_tcm18-215958

by Cherie Ann Turpin #2 (Thirty Stories in Thirty Days)

People just don’t carry around pens anymore, much less pencils, thought Sandy, as she ran her hand through loose paper, envelopes, and markers covered in a fine mist of dust at the bottom of her desk drawer.  After a few false tries, she pulled out a No. 2 pencil, though it seemed a bit dull at the end.

No matter.

She took an eyebrow pencil sharpener and twisted the yellowish pencil into a fine point, blowing away the loose wood into the bathroom sink.  Walking back into her living room, Sandy sat down at her desk and stared at the square strip of brown paper bag in front of her.  The air in the silent room seemed to hum as she remembered the instructions from the cashier at the Botanica shop who sold her a white candle and a saint card to be kept in her wallet.

Nevertheless, this was just one step, one attempt to stop her ex-turned-stalker.  The trabajo del espejo was a bit heavier, the next step after seven days if he returned to her door, attempted to reach her by phone, or emailed her.  Sandy decided to wait and see if this trabajo would work before turning to hard magic.

Indeed, she felt her hands tremble slightly as she reasoned her logic in waiting to use more direct means.  She wrote his full name on the strip, folded it in threes, and wrapped it in red string.  After sealing it in hot wax she dropped it in a plastic jar filled with water and placed it in the back of her freezer.  Her hands stopped trembling, and the air felt light, porous.  She turned on her computer and clicked through some YouTube videos to take her mind from the ritual she just completed, feeling a sense of relief for the moment.

Meanwhile, her ex-fiance turned stalker Brian was seen in his neighborhood running and screaming at the car thieves who were now speeding down the street in his 2008 Honda Accord with his cameras, laptop and cellphone locked in the trunk.  He would not be reimbursed by his car insurance–liability only.  Cheapskate.

For now, he was frozen.

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Viral Image #31 by Cherie Ann Turpin (30 Stories in 30 Days) #30Days

Viral Image #31

by Cherie Ann Turpin

(30 Stories in 30 Days)

#30Days

viral
The pictures on my walls started moving and talking last month.

It’s a virus, something that traveled through several layers of probable realities as a result of an experiment launched by a group of physicists in Switzerland.  The word “virus” is about as close a term as one could use to refer to or at least approximate what has happened to digital photography, film, music, and sound.  The “virus” has somehow rendered our actuality more porous than its previous state of stability, reworking digital codes of compressed audio and visual data into multi-dimensional portals.

Infected computers have been quarantined at a secret facility near the port, but as the virus is already in the cloud, the virtual world is taking on a version of reality not yet understood by most physicists or IT specialists.  Every single picture, movie clip, and sound clip is now subject to the virus’ rewiring of its nature into a separate actualization.  Worse, some of these realities are pushing into our reality.

I have seen long-dead relatives appear in my living room, wearing the same clothes they wore when the photos were snapped.  They aren’t quite flesh, but more than ghosts.  My grandmother encountered a much younger version of herself in my hallway, much to her own shock.  I have ex-boyfriends fighting each other, fading in and out with each emotional flare-up.

My car is now gassed up for a long trip, something I should have done when my neighbors escaped from a slightly psychotic uncle with a penchant for knives.  I just have to find a way to use my driver’s license without my previous version of myself sliding out from my purse.

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“Fractal Hant” #30 by Cherie Ann Turpin (30 Stories in 30 Day) #30Days

“Fractal Hant” #30

by Cherie Ann Turpin

(30 Stories in 30 Day)

#30Days
coppersulfate
You find a strange blue crystal on your driveway one evening while picking up the newspaper.  You take it inside and placed it in a glass of warm water, thinking it to be a nice stone to use in your endless collection of homemade jewelry sitting in your bedroom.  It sits on your window shelf over the kitchen sink for about five days, upon which you, after forgetting its existence, glance up at the glass while washing dishes.   You almost jump back at what you see.

Two crystals now occupy the glass, and two others are now sitting on the shelf.  You pick up the glass, and, using paper towels, scoop up the other crystals, panicking at what seems to be an impossibility.  Each crystal is equal in size and each one now seems to cast a reddish hue when close to each other.  You dump it all into a small plastic bag, including the glass of water.  You dump it all into the green garbage container you’ve already rolled out to the curb for the early morning garbage guys.  It takes four men to lift the garbage container into the truck to dump out the trash.

Kneeling on your couch cushions, you peek through your living room curtains to see them step back at the container’s contents mixing with the neighborhood’s trash:  dozens and dozens of crystals that seem to glow like fireflies.  You close the curtain and slowly stand up, as you turn around to see something you don’t want to see:  a single crystal sitting in the middle of your living room carpet, turning red, then black as it levitates up to the height of your face.

Turn around.

And run.

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“Guardians” #29 by Cherie Ann Turpin (30 Stories in 30 Days) #30Days

“Guardians” #29

by Cherie Ann Turpin

(30 Stories in 30 Days)

#30Days

angels_here
The elevator stood at the far end of the ticketing and refreshments area of Gideon Cinema, a movie theater housed on the seventh floor of Galleria Fantasia.  The room was filled with movie goers eager to depart into the night after being subjected to two hours of non-stop shooting, bombings, exploding body parts, as well as an endless stream of completely gratuitous and unnecessary use of expletives.  For Margo and Jack, the movie was background noise to the real purpose of their presence in the theater, which was discussing strategies for battling the Phorzhicoa and taking back their territory.  The sounds of the movie and the audience’s consumption of sweet and salty junk food masked the telepathic exchange.

Margo and Jack stepped into the elevator and pressed the button for the Street Level.  The other moviegoers stood back from the elevator car, staring at Margo and Jack with more than a little trepidation.  The doors slammed shut, and the elevator quietly slipped down the shaft towards the Street Level.  Margo opened her mouth to ask Jack what just happened, but hesitated before closing it  and deciding to wait until leaving the building.

The doors of the elevator opened, and with that, Margo and Jack stepped out onto the marbled floors of the shopping center’s entrance.  A six-year-old boy who had walked a few steps up from his mother pointed to the space behind the couple and giggled, as he said, “Pretty!”  Margo and Jack smiled and waved as they walked past to the exit.

After seeing them walk through the revolving door, the boy turned to his mother and with a smile he said one sentence: “the people behind the boy and girl got wings, Mommy!”

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“Sleeping Beauty Did Not Know How to Wake Up” #28 by Cherie Ann Turpin (30 Stories in 30 Days) #30Days

“Sleeping Beauty Did Not Know How to Wake Up” #28

by Cherie Ann Turpin

(30 Stories in 30 Days)

#30Days
bedroom
Once again, I found myself lying in a bed next to Stephen, watching him sleep in a nondescript room with a bed, wardrobe, and drawers.  It resembled a room in an airport hotel that needed some color.  I had not seen or spoken to him in well over two years, but for the last two months I felt myself being pushed into his dreams, his Guardian Spirit showing me the world from its charge’s perspective, and showing me its desperate efforts to wake him from his deep sleep.

I battled demons and dragons on his behalf in the dream realm in years past, but never this….silence, this void that kept him locked out from his own feelings.  It was an emptiness that left his soul in a coma-like state in the dream realm, while leaving him hollow and bereft in the harsh light of the day.  window

This was the first time I actually encountered his dream body in its true state–asleep to the richness of the dream realm.   Unable to imagine a landscape while trapped in the void, Stephen’s dream self remained oblivious to its status as a prisoner.   I felt myself drifting into a light slumber and quickly jerked my dream body out of it with a sudden roll onto the floor.  I felt a sharp pain in my left arm from my elbow to my pinkie as it hit the carpeted floor.

I stood up and leaned over him, rolling his prone body towards, jumping slightly as I discovered his eyes open, staring.  He blinked, and looked at me with a slightly confused look.  A realization came to me:  he doesn’t know how to switch to lucid dream state.  I could feel my dream body’s energy draining as he drew from me to stay awake.

“Stephen, I am tired.  I cannot continue to carry this for you alone.  You have to help me help you heal and get out of this trap.  You must be lucid, aware, and awake in your dream state.”  I saw a shadow crawl from the ceiling towards the bed.  I felt my waking body snatch my astral body back across the realm.  My waking body sat up in my own bed, quivering.

I needed to talk to Stephen in the waking world, and I needed to do it fast.  I had no idea whether he would believe my story, but he needed to learn what I learned so he could fight the monster holding him as a prisoner in his own dream realm.

But I had to find him first.

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“Rehab” #27 by Cherie Ann Turpin (30 Stories in 30 Days) #30Days

“Rehab” #27

by Cherie Ann Turpin

(30 Stories in 30 Days)

#30Days
junk
So, I’m on a plane headed to Santa Fe, New Mexico.  Mind you, I’m in my traveler’s coffin, the one with the tacky sky-blue lining and extra pillow to help me sleep (I have neck and back issues).  I don’t want to go, but my vampire posse staged an intervention and threatened to kick me out of the group house and report me to my maker, something I fear more than being homeless in a city known to be hostile to derelict vamps.

My drug of choice is heroin, or more accurately, heroin addicts’ blood.  The first time I got high I was at a party and I ended up feeding on this frat boy who I thought was drunk.  I didn’t realize he’d snorted some heroin/oxy party powder in the kitchen earlier.  I almost puked the blood out the first time, but after a few minutes I felt like I was floating into space.  He didn’t even feel me biting him again, but I was careful not to drain him.  I wanted to keep my drug cow healthy enough to keep me high.

It worked for about two months.  He’d score the drugs, and I’d pay him to let me feed on him after he snorted or injected himself.  Then, after a two month run, the frat boy dropped dead from an overdose.  According to one of his frat mates at the frat house where they found him, he thought he could do more of the drug and not get sick because he believed I was sucking away his addiction.  Maybe I was, but if I did, I ended up with an itch that burned through my core stronger than my urge to drink blood all by itself.  It set my hunger on thermonuclear, and made me a danger to not just humans, but other vampires who smelled like they recently fed on addicts.
opium
When my friends found me I was staying at a motel with a recently deceased prostitute who, like my frat boy supplier, OD’ed after spending two weeks with me on a heroin binge.  He sat on the toilet with a glassy-eyed stare, the needle still stuck in his arm.  I’d already fed on him, but I guess he wanted to top off his waning high to augment what my feeding had done to him.  He looked disappointed, a corpse not happy to be a corpse.  The vamps quietly wrapped him in sheets and dumped him into the river.

Clearly, I am not the only one dealing with this issue:  human junkies have been showing up in ER with gaping bite wounds and severe loss of blood by the dozens over the last six months.  The human authorities still don’t know we exist, but it’s only a matter of time before that changes.  If that happens, the Vampire Council will put me down like a rabid dog for sure. That’s why right now I am packed away in the baggage area, waiting for the plane to land so I can be transported to the vampire rehab facility just outside of Santa Fe.

I hear detox feels like you’re being exposed to the sun.  So not looking forward to that.

No bloody sunscreen.

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“Girlfriend Experience: Part 3” #26 by Cherie Ann Turpin (30 Stories in 30 Days) #30days

“Girlfriend Experience: Part 3” #26

by Cherie Ann Turpin

(30 Stories in 30 Days)

#30days

[BREAKING NEWS] Health Alert Network (HAN) CDC EPA Taskforce Issue Public Alert on Genesynthetics’ Bio-Environmental Crisis”
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
by Chris Henner
Lunar Manhattan – Wednesday, 7 November, 2046
(Reuters): Officials with the (HAN) CDC-EPA Taskforce issued a public alert and recommended a complete recall of the Gen-3 through 5 versions of syns manufactured by Genesynthetics, Incorporated in the wake of the recent plant explosion in Greenland, Terra Corporate Republic.  The October accident left 300 plant workers dead or missing, and exposed thousands of Greenland citizens to biochemical toxins that could take well over decades to complete cleanup of the site.  The Taskforce also revealed a potentially devastating obstacle in the removal and detoxification of the soil and water, as well as repairing the now-closed manufacturing plant.

According to the released alert, scientific investigators inspecting the damage discovered poorly maintained storage tanks filled with discarded syn parts and sections which were, upon closer inspection, floating in a dark red, pus-smelling fluid later to be determined as partially biological.  Some of the legs and arms were moving in life-like fashion.  Water Pollution in the Huai River Basin

The investigators also noted several large syn “growths,” where the discarded parts were beginning to merge or grow skin connecting limbs and torsos to each other.  An anonymous source associated with Genesynthetics confirmed this finding, but would not confirm or deny reports of talking heads or mutated syns growing into partial sentience.

Genesynthetics’ popular product Gen-4, widely known as “the Girlfriend Experience” has not been determined to be a chemical or biological hazard.  However, in light of concerns regarding the possibility that these and other syn products may have been manufactured with mutative factors, the Taskforce has strongly recommended that all but two of the Gen syn lines be recalled until further notice. heads

Legal counsel representing Genesynthetics, Incorporated has stated that they will file an injunction to block the recall if it becomes compulsory or if it extends beyond a 60 day inspection of the lines.  The recent recall of 10,000 Gen-4 syns was not mentioned in the alert, but industry experts have suggested an overhaul of the process of the syn approval process at the U.S. Department of Science and Technology (USDST).

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Again Part 3 #25 by Cherie Ann Turpin (30 Stories in 30 Days) #30Days

Again Part 3 #25

by Cherie Ann Turpin

(30 Stories in 30 Days)

#30Days

Fire

The traffic on I-66E was unbearable. Suleena Davis could feel the sweat pooling underneath her in the leather seat she was confined to while sitting in a 2002 Ford Focus. The a/c was fried, and the night air was thick with a fine mist of water and summer bugs. She could feel her throat itch and her nose swell in the mix of humidity and pollen.

At 11:58 pm a fog had formed over the I-66/I-495 junction in Northern Virginia, just a few miles out from downtown Washington D.C. Nothing seemed to make sense, least of all the four lanes packed with late night drivers unfortunate enough to be caught in the traffic jam that locked down both sides of the highway. Eighteen-wheelers were lined up in the far right lanes like cattle cars on a railroad on a slow cruise. A steady swarm of fire trucks and police cars, along with black unmarked cars and vans save for a singular flashing blue light continued to make its way towards a yet to be seen accident scene.

After simmering in the heat, the traffic began to crawl again on I-66, and miles of cars were squeezed into two lanes, then a single lane. By the time Suleena drove past the incident point the line was in the breakdown lane. As she inched down the highway she noticed the site of the incident was below the piece of I-66 crossing over I-495. An oval-shaped object lay embedded across both lanes of the highway below, while dozens of cars were flipped, crushed or otherwise mangled by what seemed to be an emergency landing. Huge pieces of concrete and soil partially buried the still smoking object.

Suleena could see firefighters and police attempting to attend to the wounded who were pulled out of the endless wreckage. She kept looking over to see if anyone or anything had been pulled out of the object, almost running into the car in front of her. With shaky hands, she darted her eyes back to the road in front of her and took the next exit.

The news covering the incident made no mention of an object crashing on the highway, but noted an ongoing investigation by the FAA on single engine plane flight paths and safety.

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Love Magick #24 by Cherie Ann Turpin (30 Stories in 30 Days) #30Days

Love Magick #24

by Cherie Ann Turpin

(30 Stories in 30 Days)

#30Days

love
Ego can motivate a man or a woman to do some really dumb things in the pursuit of satisfying sexual desires. It can also lead one to make a less than smart move just to gain the attention of a would-be conquest.  It makes no sense to me why a man would view a woman as an object of prey when the objective is love, affection, and all the things we associate with lifelong happiness.  On the other hand, if he views love as a battle to be won, and if he views a woman’s body as a commodity to be possessed, processed, and used for his comfort and joy, he will do everything in his power to own her, even if it means it is against her will.  Sometimes, a man like that meets his soul mate, and while that sounds beautiful, a soul mate for a man who is mostly nightmarish to the women who have been unfortunate enough to encounter him would need to match or surpass his psychopathic tendencies.

Hence, love as a bloody battlefield that would render a woman into submission was the thought process of a man in his mid-thirties who visited a tattoo artist and magician who had expertise in all manner of sex magick and ritual tattoos for those willing to pay a very high price for satisfaction.  Ron was determined to capture a certain woman’s heart and body through whatever manipulative means he felt would be most effective in compelling a yes from her.

After much meditation and consultation with a Nameless One, the tattoo artist/magician drew a special sigil on the left side of Ron’s back and began filling it in.  As instructed by the Nameless One, the artist/magician neglected to tell Ron of the caveat of the spell being literally carved into his back, that the entity who had been summoned to act on his behalf was not pleased with Ron’s past endeavors with women, and would certainly make sure he received what he asked for, and plenty more.  Just not in the way he expected it.

Ron had not been a very nice man when it came to romance.

His first marriage to a college sweetheart ended after one year of constant arguments, one night in jail after he punched out two of her molars and broke her eye socket, and an extremely expensive divorce (she hired an attorney to protect her inheritance).  His second marriage ended after six years due to mutual indifference to maintaining a relationship to a woman who he believed did not really exist, save for family functions and office receptions.  She was a con artist who’d fooled him into believing she loved him.  At least that was what he told himself when she “accidentally” drowned during their last trip to the Bahamas.  He dumped his two mistresses one month after the finalization of the life insurance payout, and moved into a condo near the harbor.

He had his eyes on a nurse who lived not far from the coffee shop he frequented, a petite, demure woman who seemed to be in mourning.  He wasn’t wrong about that either; Lana recently lost her husband to cancer, and lately spent her weekend mornings sitting with her coffee, and staring at the dark sea water of the harbor.  She barely noticed him as he came in daily for his large skinny latte.  His invisibility changed after the tattoo job.  He caught her staring back at him on a Monday when he blew in to grab his latte before heading to the office.

By Friday she was waiting for him outside the cafe, smiling.  She treated him to his morning latte and talked him into taking the day off.  One month later, they were a couple headed into a long-term relationship.  Lana didn’t ask him about the strange tattoo on his back when they first started sleeping with each other.  Her mind was on other things, things to set into motion.  One year later they were married and living on the harbor in his condo.

Sitting in her new kitchen drinking coffee and watching the sun come up, Lana wondered if she really had to wait six years before putting her second husband to sleep.

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Endgames #23 by Cherie Ann Turpin (30 Stories in 30 Days) #30Days

Endgames #23

by Cherie Ann Turpin

(30 Stories in 30 Days)

#30Days
endgames
He said millions will weep.

He was put on a suicide watch along with others whose applications for the Shelter Arks were rejected by their government due to age, health, or “other” concerns.  It seemed that politics were once again a determining factor who would be saved, and who would be left to die.  Considering how these politicians and corporate scientists had underestimated the long-term implications of being left stranded in a poorly supplied space station now termed Shelter-Arks over a planet rendered uninhabitable due to an extinction level event that Asteroid 2013 TV135 would produce, those who were left behind were better off taking their chances.

Many others took to a milky green drink in what came to be a ritual of silent suffering slightly abated through the comfort of nestling in the wings of the green fairy – modernized absinthe designed to turn its drinker comatose.  Why face the end of the world sober and sad?  The hospitals and streets were filled with young and old who took to the green fairy with desires to be “lifted” from their consciousness, semi-permanently.  Others took a more radical approach to leaving the planet.

A group of people led by a discredited philosopher-scientist came to the edge of their city over the sea and watched him as he threw a mini-beacon the ridge of a cliff.  After an hour a large oval ship seemed to rise up as it appeared out of the fog that formed over the dark ocean.   112,045 people around the world climbed aboard ships the size of a large metropolitan city at the word of their mad leader who claimed they were being saved from the coming firestorm and extinction brought on by 2013 TV135.

This was not one of the Shelter-Arks built by Earth governments to save those few who were deemed worthy of rebuilding human civilization.  Rather, this was an opportune moment for one civilization to use a few desperate beings from another civilization as duped colonizers for some of their most hostile, unyielding planetary outlands on the edge of their claimed territory in this part of the shared galaxy.  Perhaps the word colonizers was inaccurate.  The word “indentured” was more in line with what was in store for the refugees of Earth.

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Avoiding Conflict Can Keep You Alive Sometimes #22 by Cherie Ann Turpin (30 Stories in 30 Days) #30Days

Avoiding Conflict Can Keep You Alive Sometimes #22

by Cherie Ann Turpin

(30 Stories in 30 Days)

#30Days

Wolf

He sent me a birthday card right out of the blue.  I decided not to open it, but that proved to be ineffective when he called me on my birthday.  He asked me to show up to a lecture he was giving at the college.  I knew then that there was a reason why I bought a ticket to a performance that would keep me away from him that night.  In fact, I knew there was a reason I was not supposed to be in town.  When I told him I would not be in town in the middle of the week because of family issues, he seemed confused at the idea of me traveling to West Virginia in the middle of the week.  Only part of what I told him was a lie, so I was able to convince him.

When I first saw the email about the featured writers performing at Cultural Space in Providence, Rhode Island I almost deleted it.  My familiar whispered a suggestion that made me pause before clicking on the link instead of clicking on delete.  I looked at the inexpensive ticket price, and calculated the hours it would take to drive there and back, coming to the conclusion that it was too much of a pain in the ass to bother.  My familiar’s specter came to me in full manifestation, insisting that I buy the ticket anyway and keep it just in case.  Just in case of what, I asked.  Doing her best version of barking orders, she said, just do it.  I pulled out my Discover card and typed in the numbers, saving the electronic ticket while muttering all manner of fuckery and other choice words.

Two months later I scrounged up that same ticket and gassed up my car to drive down I-90 towards Providence. I did not want to admit that I was leaving my home to avoid running into my ex-boyfriend when he came to town.  I didn’t like having to leave my own apartment and my own town just to avoid seeing him, but I knew why he called me late at night–and it wasn’t just because it was my birthday.  The two possible outcomes of me seeing him were unacceptable to me, and quite frankly, I did not want to die.

I did not curse him when we split for good those many years ago.  I spoke a prophecy brought forth in the midst of emotional and spiritual turmoil, where crises of the heart often lead to a certain clarity as to what the future will yield for us, regardless of what we believe or want to believe we deserve.  I did not curse him.  Okay, maybe I wanted to right at that moment, but I didn’t do it.  I just knew that where he was headed would lead him to be at a certain place at a certain time, and so would the lycanthrope who would tear his left shoulder into ribbons and infect him with a blood lust that compelled him to travel to other cities once every six months to hunt for human flesh.  What happened to him in France was devastating to him, something he could not share with his wife.

We stopped speaking one year ago after he invited me to come with him to Maine to visit his family’s summer cabin.  He didn’t invite his wife.  I knew one of two things would happen:  either he would try to eat me, or fuck me.  Or both.  Rather than being terrified, I was insulted.  Good enough to fuck and eat, but not good enough to marry.  I wondered then if he blamed me for his curse.  Figuring myself to be likely to be seen as prey if I brought attention to the obvious, I ignored the werewolf issue and focused on his invite as a way of turning me into his mistress.  After spending about 30 minutes cussing him out for trying to treat me like a whore, I deleted him from my Facebook page, hoping he wouldn’t show up to Springfield, Massachusetts wolfed out.  He kept his distance.  Until my birthday.

Sooner or later I would need to confront the monster stalking me in slow motion.  Short of becoming a lycanthrope myself, I had few options, and my gifts, while formidable in deception, defense, and retreat, were ultimately ineffective against bone-crunching jaws and knife-sharp claws.  Eventually, he would tire of hunting substitutes and come for me, the woman who had the nerve to move on from him. I needed a bigger monster to stop him.  Or a hunter.

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Follower #20 by Cherie Ann Turpin (30 Stories in 30 Days) #30Days My bank is stalking me.

Follower #20

by Cherie Ann Turpin

(30 Stories in 30 Days)

#30Days

My bank is stalking me.
shadow
I don’t have a credit card with them (though they’ve tried and tried to get me to take one from them), and I don’t overdraw my account.  I don’t owe them money.  They follow me everywhere, monitor my movements around town, listen to my phone calls.  I know my house is watched by them.

When I go to restaurants I see them sitting near my section, monitoring my menu selections and conversations like vultures ready to pounce on a perceived slight or miscalculation in the affordability of the bottle of wine I have selected for my table.  When I mention my plans to travel to my lover they stand over my table, waiting for me to mention an expenditure they have not yet anticipated.  When I hail a taxi, they watch me tell the driver of my destination, calculating the mileage of every trip I make around town.

I cannot shake them off, nor can I complain.  Believe me, I’ve tried.  I’ve even tried to close my account, only to discover to my horror that I cannot do that without restraining order from the court, and that will not happen unless I can verify that I have successfully connected with yet another banking monolith that is just as controlling and obsessive as the one who is now tormenting me with follows, phone calls with meaningless messages, phone calls with heavy breathing, inexplicable interruptions of transactions, and even worse, invasion of my home through virtual presence.  I threw a chair at the binary ghost the first time I saw it, thinking it was a thief or maniac.

From what I understand, most people do not experience such torment from their bank.  Even those human representatives I’ve spoken to say that something in their Supreme System may have taken a personal interest in me, something akin to an obsessive focus normally associated with a human pathology.  An investigator has been dispatched from human management to determine the origin of this “glitch.”  I am hopeful, but uncertain about the outcome of their efforts to contain the power of the machine that owns their bodies and souls.  A resolution cannot come soon enough.  They are escalating, no longer hiding.

A more drastic course of action may be necessary if this does not work.

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Squatter #19 by Cherie Ann Turpin (30 Stories in 30 Days) #30Days

Squatter #19

by Cherie Ann Turpin

(30 Stories in 30 Days)

#30Days

You are breaking the rules.
squatter
You find this squalid space while crawling your way through the remains of the old city not yet submerged into the seawater, desperate to escape the floating shantytown that surrounds the shiny new city like a rusty, filthy ring stuck on a finger too fat to let it slide off.  It’s a fair analogy:  the people who live in this shantytown come via ferry to work as cooks, servants, cleaners, and low-level office workers in New Manhattan, only to float by to makeshift squats, large floating structures made with scraps of metal, styrofoam, and melted plastic.

You are already aware that this building, formerly a factory turned into condos, has been condemned as a harbor for unsavory elements not seen by most humans.  The empty rooms of one of the corner units are mostly empty, save for a mattress crusty with blood and other dried fluids, a chair, a set of drawers, and a beautiful Persian rug that seemed out-of-place.  You find yourself wondering who would leave such a beautiful rug to rot away like that.

You hear whispering in one of the back rooms, telling you that you are not alone, and that if you want to squat here for more than just a night, you need to clean house.  You begin the ritual, a series of chants, smudging, then silent sitting within a circle to draw out and carefully banish each unholy spirit.  You have been told by the beggar-witch who sold you the ritual kit that under no circumstances are you to allow yourself to fall asleep while performing the Zari-koozhari banishing ritual.   The one ritual you have been carefully instructed to follow to the letter in order to fully rid your squat of wretched haunts, spirits, demons, and listener-familiars loyal to the Phorzhicoa is the very same one that you are now breaking as you nod off to sleep in front of the makeshift altar space you just drew.

Your impatience and unwillingness to wait through the night till morning has borne foul fruit.  The candles flicker as your sleeping body is surrounded by a merry band of evil-doers who see you as a gift of sorts, a gift of “food.”  And like so many predators who come upon a tasty meal only to find their competitors there at the same time, these merry entities soon turn on each other, prepared to tear each other apart.  You keep your eyes shut, waiting for the winner to emerge, waiting to banish the one strong enough to destroy the others, but not strong enough to defeat the Word.

You know by morning you are not meant to survive by following the rules.  You start cleaning up the remains of the destroyed, and begin settling into your new home.

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The Red Room #18 by Cherie Ann Turpin (30 Stories in 30 Days) #30Days

The Red Room #18

by Cherie Ann Turpin

(30 Stories in 30 Days)

#30Days

You can’t get there from just any place.  You have to be in the right place at the right time.  You have to be standing in the right place at the right time.  Look for a red carpet.  The first time you learn about the red room is when you realize that the red carpet is where you die just a bit.  The red carpet is the abyss, where you become invisible.
redroom
The first time I saw someone become invisible was when I worked as a personal assistant for Stacy Mandan, Princess of Pop, and I watched her strut the red carpet wearing a yellow Versace plunge dress for a gala screening of her latest star vehicle movie.  The paparazzi blanketed her every step and every blink of her eyes as she edged towards the entrance.

She turned her head towards me and in a second I saw her disappear.  No one else noticed, but I saw it.  She reappeared with what looked to be tendrils hanging from her slender arms and legs.  The tendrils seemed be like grayish white smoke pulling from every limb of her body.  Her life force was leaking on the red carpet.  I motioned to security to move her past the photographers and the press, who had hoped for a word from her.  They rushed her inside before she could speak–or collapse.  I looked at the edge of the crowd and saw the Watchers among the frenzy, unmoving, unsmiling.

Rushing inside we encountered more people, more glamour, and as I looked at other entertainers I noticed the same sense of life force drain from their bodies, only less extreme.  Stacy touched my shoulder and held on as we made our way to a side hallway.  Her hand felt like ice.  I looked into her perfectly manufactured face and eyes, wondering if she was able to speak.  She motioned for me to lean over, and as I did, she whispered, “I saw the Red Room for the first time.”  She trembled, then fainted to the floor in a heap.

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Immurement #15 by Cherie Ann Turpin (30 Stories in 30 Days) #30Days

Immurement #15
by Cherie Ann Turpin
(30 Stories in 30 Days)
#30Days

They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!” – Revelation 6:16

Voluntary immurement was not a submission to the torments of old used to punish the sinful, where the guilty were literally sealed behind walls to put them out of sight and left to starve and suffocate, slowly.

To be precise, voluntary immurement, or VI, as it was now called in polite company, walled away citizens from the Phorzhicoa, the collective of Watchers who picked through every conversation, every thought, every emotion, seeking out succulent strands upon which to feed and give purpose for continued existence in this state of ultimate vicariousness.  Those who could afford complete VI immersion enjoyed a pampered existence free of federal and state monitoring, as well as a much-envied freedom from Watchers by virtue of the physical and spiritual walls reinforced with armed drones.  For those who desired a less extreme version and were willing to risk an occasional run-in with Watchers, semi-VI became the choice of wealthy celebrities, professionals and venture capitalists with the cash to burn to secure their dream of living a partially buried existence.

Semi-VI  condo units and VI homes began to appear first in New York, Chicago, Atlanta, London, Paris, DC, Rome, and even sunny LA, as entertainers began to make use of virtual interactive presence (VIP) to “phone in” movie set performances, concerts, celebrity appearances, and interviews, thereby avoiding the scourge of the Phorzhicoa and the Paparazzi.

Complete VI immersion was still considered to an unconventional choice, though viewed by many citizens as enviable, as it was reserved for those few trillionaires who were wealthy enough to build a fully staffed, town-sized compound and farm that included medical professionals, teachers, and other compound workers who committed to ten-year contracts with generous benefits and compensation, including their own customized semi-VI condo units upon completion of their contracts.

Some of the wealthiest people on the planet were no longer seen or heard in public.   VIP technology was now standard practice for business, meaning those of the Oligarch became invisible rulers, while the masses of the outside world coped with squeezing out an existence between the encroaching Phorzhicoa and perpetual government surveillance.

Disappearing from the public became a sign of the leisure class.

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The Deep End #14 by Cherie Ann Turpin (30 Stories in 30 Days) #30Days

The Deep End #14
by Cherie Ann Turpin
(30 Stories in 30 Days)
#30Days

pool
I occasionally did tarot readings for Tony and gave him advice on rituals, as he was a solitary practitioner, albeit on the sly because of his family, a large clan of Baptists and Pentacostalists with a smattering of Methodists.  His father was the head pastor of a Baptist church in Raleigh, North Carolina.  He was also nervous about his Christian fundamentalist boss finding out about his spiritual practices, for fear of losing or compromising his clearance as a defense contractor for NSA.  He came to me two years ago with a dilemma about a woman who seemed inaccessible, yet intriguing.

Tony met her at an Apple conference in San Francisco three years ago, a voluptuous woman with long, thick twists and rich, copper-brown skin who was almost as tall as him.   He imagined her full thighs matched against his slim frame as she walked towards him wearing a dark green dress and sensible heels.  When she smiled her face radiated warmth and a willingness to trust.  They exchanged phone numbers and email addresses over coffee and sandwiches before she departed to meet colleagues for a networking event.  After he returned to Baltimore, he only got as far as the one phone call to her that did not lead to a follow-up. She actually did call him back, but he was “unavailable,” or unwilling to return her phone calls. She did what most people would do–she moved on.

Meanwhile, he began seeing a woman from his office, almost as a consolation prize for what he described to me once as “another humiliating rejection from a sister.” The relationship with his second choice did not last, no surprise to me or anyone else who knew him. He saw the first woman again in Vegas at another conference, only to discover that she was involved with and engaged to an attorney.  Her smile, according to Tony, was just as warm, but less trusting of him.

He decided to try to get her interested in calling him again by using love magic. He spent hundreds of dollars on Come to Me incense, Love oils, red and pink candles, not to mention the readings he received from me. I started charging him a minimal fee because of the energy he was draining from me. No results.  He began to consult with a spirit worker less inclined to maintain ethical boundaries.

He appeared at my door one night, haggard and somewhat jittery.  I sat him down and listened to him confess to stalking her.  He began spying on her social media profiles and her email. She had been talking about him, wondering whatever happened to him, and the unreliability of men who couldn’t deal with women who actually say yes to them. Her fiance had mysteriously broken up with her and eloped with someone who seemed to appear almost out of the sky as “the love of his life.”

I looked at Tony, expecting him to say that he finally talked to her, that he had stopped using magic to make his decisions for him.  He stuttered as he explained his latest surveillance trick to discover more information before making the phone call to her.  In other words, he squandered yet another open door.  It was just as well.  This was a poorly gained opportunity that had all the signs of an impending disaster of his own making.  In his current state of mind, he could be downright dangerous to her.  Come to think of it, he could be dangerous to me.  I needed to find a way to amp him down from the ledge.  He was my spiritual child, and I sensed him looking for a way out of his self-made trap.

I wondered why it had not occurred to him that he was probably in danger of losing his clearance due to his gross misuse of surveillance tools, as well as being arrested for stalking.  After making him some green tea, I pulled out my Crowley deck and did a three card pull:  the ten of Wands, the Devil, and the Hanged Man.  My task was getting Tony to understand what just happened, and how he needed to fix what he damaged within himself through his obsession.

I looked into his dark eyes now glazed with tears. For the first time in months I saw genuine sorrow and guilt wrapped up in rage.  I heard myself say, “You’ve tortured yourself for over a year because of your own pride and your own fear of rejection. You didn’t need magic to fall in love, you never did. But this is not love.  Your fear made you turn your soul inside out just to control her.”

This was not quite me coming out my mouth.  Uh-oh.  She was nudging me to stand aside so She could come through and speak.  I felt the tipsy feeling flow through my mouth as Spirit began to speak through me.  My voice deepened and I saw myself rise up as Spirit rode me to speak to Tony.  He could not hear me tell him the complete truth of what he had done, and what he had to do to make it right.  He had to hear it from She:

Perhaps you could be a couple.  Perhaps not.  You cannot not make her do anything.  No candle or spell will make her love you.  You have to start over at the beginning from honesty and truth, or nothing at all.  

Starting over from scratch is not an easy choice to make.  He had to deal with the reality that she could say no, and he had to accept that risk as a part of accepting her as a free, sentient being with her own voice and desires.

Then I heard/felt She say to him in a loud booming voice:  You’ve got to learn how to swim in the deep part, at the deep end.  You’ve got to get your head wet, boy. 

I fell back on the couch, and I looked up at him.  His face was frozen in shock.  I slowly sat up and reached over to his lower jaw, and gently pushed his mouth shut.  This was his first time seeing Spirit ride me.  He silently pulled on his suit jacket and walked out the front door of my house.  I wrapped up my Tarot cards and watched him stumble on my driveway into his Mercedes SUV.

A natural fool coming to his senses almost too late.  Almost, but not quite.

He stopped talking to me for several months.  It was just as well.  It was not my business or task to intervene, at least not that point. Spirit warned me to avoid him for a time. Last I heard he’d started seeing a therapist for his obsessive personality issues, and was looking into making a career switch.  His manager discovered his off-the-clock surveillance activities, and would have fired him had his unit not been reorganized as a result of a seemingly unrelated upheaval in structure due to the Eric Snowden incident.  Tony escaped a disastrous descent into legal purgatory by virtue of a sudden shift in the dimension all of us happen to share.

If he wanted to be with her or anyone else, he would have to journey beyond the comforts of fear and obsession, beyond his narcissism, and beyond his own fear of the unknown.  That may take more than one plunge into the deep end.

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Again (Part Two) #13 by Cherie Ann Turpin (30 Stories in 30 Days) #30Days

Again (Part Two) #13

by Cherie Ann Turpin

(30 Stories in 30 Days)

#30Days
alien
At 3:15 am the Lakeshore Limited slid past Youngstown, Ohio towards Lake Erie through the mush of snow,ice, and mud with a mournful wail that echoed through the trees and otherwise silent roads alongside the railroad tracks.  My brown wool pea coat covered my face, neck and chest while I attempted to sleep in my seat and the empty coach seat beside me in a semi-crouched position.  I could hear snoring and sleepy gasps for air in the darkened coach car.  The train shook my coat off my face and I opened my eyes to adjust myself to a more comfortable position over my purse-turned-pillow.

A pale face hovered near my face. I froze, not knowing if I was dreaming.  I felt its warm breath bloom over my skin like a foul-smelling burst of steam.  I sat up and jerked my coat down, freeing my hands and arms.  A tall, tall figure resembling a human with marble-like skin, a paper-like shroud, and almond-shaped eyes leaned over me, watching me as I stared back in shock.  When I opened my mouth to shout at it, I felt the sound gurgle and stammer into wheezing coughs.  It was not alone.  It seemed that the entire car was filled with these strange people with almond eyes and tissue paper clothes. My body struggled against invisible restraints that only tightened with every attempt to move.

The coach car began to fill with light as it quaked with a ferocity that seemed to indicate an impending derailment.  I felt myself being lifted from my seat and pushed into the light, noticing other frozen people being transported.  I felt the heat of the exploding car below me as I was lifted towards a large ship with pink, yellow, blue, and red lights.  I drifted into a dreamless sleep with a realization of my efforts to escape and not be found again.

They didn’t need the tracking bot to find me anymore.

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The Extinction Level Event Has Not Happened Yet #12 by Cherie Ann Turpin (30 Stories in 30 Days) #30Days

The Extinction Level Event Has Not Happened Yet #12

by Cherie Ann Turpin

(30 Stories in 30 Days)

#30Days

I should have kissed him yesterday.
kiss
I think I still hold onto my mother’s advice to let men pursue me, rather than being more assertive in matters of the heart and body.  She thought it was too pushy and too forward to show too much interest or to reveal desire to men.

I think it’s a shitty way of dealing with men, especially the ones who go overboard to be gentlemen, but I ended up almost by default complying with her vision of proper female behavior, which, of course, resulted in long periods of sexual dry spells.  I burned out about four different vibrators during my long wait for the “right one.”  When the aliens came I was almost six years without a long-term partner or a casual lover.  I’m too old to keep waiting for him to make the first move, and since the aliens devastated our planet, I guess I should try to ignore the rules and show some moxie before we die from the coming second wave.

He was right there, standing next to me, talking with me. He really paid attention to what I had to say, and I didn’t mind us walking fifteen blocks to the nearest charging station to get our laptops and phones charged (yes, we still have WiFi and cell phones–we just don’t know how long they will last).  He looked into my eyes as he shared his stories of finding and losing love, how when he first moved here he couldn’t seem to find anyone who really understood him.  I felt my tummy quiver, slightly.

We talked about our families, who we resembled, why we both happened to be living in this part of the city.

We talked about the restaurants we grew to love as a part of city living, and how neither of us really liked to cook as a daily habit, and how our career schedules did not bide for long periods of cooking prep or clean-up.

We didn’t talk about the invasion, or the semi-permanent federal state of emergency, or the abductions by the alien hunting squads who snatched up unsuspecting humans for experiments and other purposes which usually resulted in bloody piles of limbs and entrails.

We didn’t talk about the fall-out shelters our military built to keep the remaining humans safe, or the fact that the empty streets we walked once packed with a sea of citizens in a city that boasted a population of well over 4 million people.

We didn’t talk about how we watched cities around the world crumble and burn, wondering when ours would be next.

We talked about finding love in the fury of apocalyptic ruination, and holding fast to what remained of human civilization.  We hugged, and walked back to our respective shelters just below the streets.

If we still exist tomorrow, I’ll kiss him before we go scavenge for food.

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“Girlfriend Experience: Part Two” #10 by Cherie Ann Turpin (30 Stories in 30 Days) #30days

“Girlfriend Experience: Part Two” #10

by Cherie Ann Turpin

(30 Stories in 30 Days)

#30days

“Genesynthetics Recalling Gen-4 ‘Girlfriend Experience’ Syns”
diapo_sex_dolls1
by Ian Roland
Lunar Manhattan – Sunday, 23 July, 2046
(Reuters): Genesynthetics, Incorporated is recalling all fourth generation (Gen-4) synthetic female companions, popularly known from its commercials and ads as the “girlfriend experience” syns.  Approximately 10,000 syns are being recalled to fix a potentially hazardous defect in their personality programming, a glitch that has been alleged to have been planted in the newest generation of female companion syns by saboteurs posing as programmers who invaded the Greenland factory.

The ultra-radical terrorist army Realidad has claimed responsibility for the defective programming, which resulted in several cases of syns exhibiting serious behavioral glitches that, at times appeared to resemble angry, hostile, hysterical, argumentative, and even uppity women.  Some of the syns were also programmed with triggers designed to physically harm their owners:  owners who physically disciplined their synthetic women were shocked to find themselves being punched and slapped back by these same syns.

At least 100 of the Gen-4’s have escaped their owners and are suspected of forming a syn faction of Realidad for the purpose of fashioning a syn liberation army to free their sisters from sexual slavery.  Several CEOs, celebrities, and other VIPs with defective Gen-4’s have reported large amounts of cash and jewelry missing, ostensibly to fund the human and syn factions of Realidad.
real-doll-20100727-144501
A publicist for Genesynthetics has declined to comment on the syn rebellion or syn calls for liberation, but has promised the owners of Gen-4 syns compensation for losses and injury, along with a newly programmed syn with refreshed physical features and submissive personality programming, including free “courtesan” card options.

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“Not So Clever” #9 by Cherie Ann Turpin (30 Stories in 30 Days) #30days

“Not So Clever” #9

by Cherie Ann Turpin

(30 Stories in 30 Days)

#30days

fireFred’s rage over a bad breakup with his girlfriend Clara inspired him to do more than the usual revenge porn postings to which he subjected his exes.  She had refused to marry him after discovering his obsession with sexually explicit photographs and video clips of his ex-girlfriends, and secretly deleted all of his “work,” along with the photos and videos he had taken of her without her permission.   For Fred, what she did to his collection and to his heart was unforgivable.  He wanted her to feel his pain.  Forever.

After doing extensive research on Google and flipping through books written by occult experts, Fred ordered some magickal supplies and a red satin robe and picked out some of Clara’s personal items, including a hairbrush with her hair, panties, and an old dress.  His intent was to send an entity on assignment to track her down and deliver physical agony, as well as cause general misfortune to her–maybe a car accident or a horrific mishap that would lead to her death or at least a most painful existence while she continued living.

However, a simple vowel mistake and a general misunderstanding about subtle differences between “invoke” and “evoke” transformed a revenge ritual into chaos and accidental spiritual possession.  A dark work did, indeed, manifest on a quiet street in the late hours of a Saturday night.  By Sunday morning, Fred had disappeared.

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Yellow Pollen #8 by Cherie Ann Turpin (30 Stories in 30 Days) #30days

Yellow Pollen #8

by Cherie Ann Turpin

(30 Stories in 30 Days)

#30days

yellowpollen

Yellow pollen.  Burning throat, swollen membranes.  That’s what I remember it starting out to be, but that was before we stopped going outside all together.

Yellow pollen.  Changing people, changing the animals, the plants.

It’s the same place, this hotel, only different now with the change.  We do try to find ways of staying cheerful in midst of disaster, and nothing keeps me from joining a party with my favorite people, people I want to be around, not even that ghastly yellow pollen killing us slowly.  I saw mostly men in suits, including Walt who eventually sat next to me after getting a refill of his cranberry and vodka, plus a retired athlete who seemed a bit shorter than expected but very welcome:  he had whitish blonde hair, blue eyes, very warm—he knew me for some reason—I touched his shoulders and we hugged.  I think this was a banquet of sorts, not a card game.  He leaned over told me it was last call for drinks before the card game.  I shouted out lemon vodka to the bartender, then corrected myself by saying, “I meant lime vodka.”  He nodded,  replying with “oh, yeah, right I know what you mean,” and started making it.  I sat down at the table.  This was what was one of a few fragments left of human civilization, or what I thought of as our few bright moments of pleasure before the inevitable cessation of our existence, at least on this planet.

Sometimes I like to pretend I don’t remember how it began, but I prefer to keep my lying limited to fooling my rivals at the card table.  Truth is, I can’t forget it.  The scars in my lungs, nose, and on my arms from the burns remind me of the spores that felt like pins of fire shooting through me and around me as it swirled into our atmosphere.  We unfortunate few who are now left are all that remains after the small contingent who were selected randomly by the invading alien race departed in strange oblong ships.  yellow_pollen

The change started with what had been assumed to be tree pollen during late spring not so many moons ago.  It rolled in like a fog, settling on every surface outside like a bright, thick carpet of snow.  Asthmatics, pregnant women and the elderly were the first to be warned to stay inside; schools were closed, and people in general were warned to avoid touching this “pollen” that continued to fall from the sky, accumulating on cars, buildings, bushes, and just about any other outside surface left uncovered.  Eventually, no one dared leaving their home without layers of protective clothes and masks.  The shelters were packed with homeless people attempting to escape exposure to the outside air.

Some teenagers thought it would be cool to use their snowboards and skateboards to plow through the yellow piles of pollen like snow, only find discover to their horror the difficult and painful consequences of rolling through a substance that, upon contact with skin, felt like tiny needles of fire shooting through every nerve.  Several young men were admitted to ER with chemical burns, and at least two died as a result of complications stemming from third-degree burns and anaphylaxis.  A national state of emergency was declared after scientific discovery of what had been long feared to be a contamination of the environment by a biological substance of alien origin.

This was not pollen.

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Phorzhicoa Collective – Part One (Remote Viewing) #6 by Cherie Ann Turpin (30 Stories in 30 Days) #30days

Phorzhicoa Collective – Part One (Remote Viewing) #6

by Cherie Ann Turpin

(30 Stories in 30 Days)

#30days
redeyes

The first time she became aware of their existence, she was sitting at a bus stop reading the local alt newspaper, the City Paper, while waiting for the L2 to take her to Van Ness Metro.  It “felt” like a pair of eyes looking at her thoughts.

No voices, no face.  Just eyes.

Red eyes.

The pair of eyes blinked as it “watched” for her stream of words, thoughts, and images to flow back and forth like her bloodstream across her brain.  Then it seemed that an audience of watchers was viewing her thoughts like it was a movie.  She felt as though a crowd of people were picking through her mind, picking through memories, stray ideas.  Her spirit guide whispered one word to her late one night before she fell asleep: thief.  She dreamed of burning piles of paper and dry leaves swirling up before her in a pillar of smoke and ash.  She jumped up and shook her head, murmuring the word, repeatedly, her hands clenching and straining.

Her spirit guide whispered one more word before falling silent:  impulse.  She felt herself breathing slower, more deliberate, as if with purpose and intention.  She closed her eyes and “erased” the unfinished sentences, fragments of memory, and pictures that could be retrieved by the watchers.  A blank screen and static remained. The audience of eyes faded.

She uses TM to quiet her mind now.

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“The Cleaner” by Cherie Ann Turpin #5 (30 Stories in 30 Days) #30days

“The Cleaner”

by Cherie Ann Turpin #5

(30 Stories in 30 Days) #30days

holy_oil

Some call me a shaman, while others call me a spiritualist.  Those who are close to me and work in my field call me an extractor, a cleaner.

When my cousin called and asked me to clean her mother’s house I knew it was really bad this time.  No one in my family talks to me anymore.  Most of my extended family felt too frightened or too angry with me to deal with the likes of me or the likes of my kind.  As with my grandmother, and her grandmother, I was born this way, to see shadows lurking within people, to hear the whispers most people assume to be a false wind, to follow the echoes of those long gone, and to cast out the presence of evil in people and sometimes, places.

The “gift” skips a generation, and as with my grandmother, it tends to drive family members away, usually out of fear or anger over a misunderstood reading of a situation.  My great-great grandmother’s children fled the South because they feared her power and her word more than they feared the nightriders.  I was truly surprised when Abby contacted me and asked me for my help.  I could feel her desperation over the phone, so I couldn’t deny her.

My aunt was living in a nursing home, and her house stood empty on the quiet end of Clarendon Street, not far from Euclid Avenue in East Hartford.  My cousin did her best to keep up with the house, even tried to sell it at one point.  But between the rapidly declining housing market and general spookiness of the house, she couldn’t unload it and she was at her wit’s end with trying to lease it out.  Apparently, the last tenants were chased away by what they described as a spirit who first manifested itself as a boy to the children, then as a much more malevolent presence to the parents.  They barely got out of the house, leaving furniture, clothes, and boxes of papers.

I ended up sitting in my car with my supplies in front of my Aunt Sara’s house.  I needed to an assessment of the energy in the house before I did my work, so I decided to come during the day.  The street was quiet, almost too quiet.  The houses that lined the street were in various stages of decay, but still occupied.  The air smelled stale, like an unopened storage unit.  The sunlight revealed the peeling paint on each house.

I saw a small boy sitting in a chair on my aunt’s porch.  He looked me steadily, as if to size me up.  His lips parted slightly as a faint smile came across his face with an apparent emotion of what I recognized to be none other than pure evil.  I spoke an incantation under my breath and watched him/it fade into the house through the window.  I paused for a moment, considering what I just witnessed and stared at the windows of the house before walking up the stairs to the front door.

A faint smell of burnt rubber lingered.  Before walking inside I pulled out a bottle of holy oil, and anointed myself, then the doorframe.  A faint growl hit my ears from one of the rooms inside.  I lit up a sage bundle and began my initial inspection.

This was going to be a long day.

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“Off-Grid” By Cherie Ann Turpin #4 (30 Stories in 30 Days) #30days

“Off-Grid”

By Cherie Ann Turpin

#4 (30 Stories in 30 Days) #30days

nanobots

It started with an x-ray in the dentist’s office. The dentist, thinking it to be a metal fragment from her near-fatal encounter with a roadside bomb during her time as an embedded journalist during the Afghanistan war in 2007, referred her to a general practitioner, who removed it after administering a local anesthetic. A lingering ache remained on the side of her face just above her lower jaw after its extraction. It moved, startling the good doctor, but he calmly sealed it into a test tube. Too large to be a nanobot, it reacted like a fly to light and air.

The bot was of unknown origin, and was still functioning upon removal from the delicate layers of facial tissue. Placing the bot into a small tube, her physician sent it for further testing, where it “disappeared,” for some inexplicable reason. Two weeks after shipping the package the building that leased space to his practice mysteriously caught fire, and he, like the bot, disappeared. The dentist also disappeared after yet another fire that destroyed his practice and several other practices in the building.

She began to receive strange phone calls with clicking sounds in the middle of the night, sometimes a dozen, sometimes more. She disconnected her cell phone service and began using disposable phones. Her writing gigs started to dry up, as her reliable sources for writing jobs began to avoid her. She avoided speaking to her family and friends about her fears of what was happening to her, fearing harm or worse for her loved ones. She hoped her doctor and dentist were still alive, but knew it to be unlikely, which meant she was probably next. Her jaw still ached, slightly, like the fading memory of a fall or sudden spill. She quietly packed a few clothes, her passport, and some papers to take with her, promising to herself that she would explain things later, once she had some answers. For now, she needed to find out what happened to her, who was tracking her, and why she had been bugged with a tiny robot like a lab animal. She reached behind the loosened panel in the floor of her closet and pulled free the packet she thought she would never need to use, a “rainy day” gift from an old lover/friend who thought her to be too naive to be in the business of journalism: an assortment of items that would allow her to cross international borders quietly and anonymously, including a two passports with different names and countries of origin, various IDs, and a small amount of cash.

She knew her first clue would not be found by looking for “where,” but instead would discovered by looking for “when,” as in, looking into the past, a past she thought she could escape.

It meant digging up the first time she saw the bright lights and heard the sounds of the hovering ship.

Time to go off-grid. Deep off-grid.

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“Ring: Part One” #3 by Cherie Ann Turpin (30 Stories in 30 Days) #30days

“Ring: Part One” #3

by Cherie Ann Turpin

(30 Stories in 30 Days) #30days

ring
I picked through my closet when until I selected a red blouse with a deep plunge framed with ruffles.  I placed it on the chair over the floor length black skirt and slipped into the bathroom to shower and shampoo.  I thought about the ring, and about him.  He would be at the party already, so I needed to hurry up and be ready to leave soon.

While he was on business travel he went shopping for my ring and I told him I didn’t want African diamonds or precious jewels because it was exploitative of the workers–I explained I wasn’t trying to reject my mother’s ring set choice, but I wanted a different thing. It felt strange to have it on my finger every single day, but I started wearing it to accept I was now married. He promised to have the bottom half for me if I asked for it and I was considering it. It fell off in my bed, but I woke up and put it back on, thinking I need to get it resized. He was surprised and pleased I was wearing it. Two of my friends looked at the ring.   Both looked puzzled, so I explained why my ring did not look like the usual wedding ring, that I did not want a diamond because of the history of them. The ring was a mysterious metal resembling white gold with a white quartz-like jewel.

When I arrived at the party everyone was dressed in 18th century clothing, somewhat decadent, some wearing jeweled masks.   I wore black lace opera gloves, a gift from  a woman who claimed them to be a charm of sorts.  My ring began to warm and tingle, oddly, but I ignored it as I made my rounds greeting other party guests. He was standing near one of the tall windows at the far end of the room with two other men, talking and smiling, but clearly looking for me.  He gestured for me to come and introduce myself.

As I walked through the crowded room I noticed for the first time that other women in the room were wearing the same ring with the odd Quartz-like crystal.  My left hand began to tingle as I realized this was no ordinary crowd.  My husband smiled as he pulled me close to him and introduced me to his people, the Agaven refugees of Defoli Y’shol.

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“Again” by Cherie Ann Turpin Story #2 (30 Stories 30 Days) #30days

“Again”

by Cherie Ann Turpin Story #2

(30 Stories 30 Days) #30days

041027-N-9500T-001

The first thing she noticed was the tickle of grass beneath her bare feet as she walked down a narrow path illuminated by the stars and moon above her.  The trees seemed to whisper as the wind flew through the lush of moist leaves.

Alone then yet again.

She was following a sound that carried through the whispering leaves in waves, not knowing what she would find, not knowing why she traveled in the middle of the night through the forest path, a path she knew to be a sign of her dreaming yet again.

What was that sound?  No instrument could be making it, nor voice–at least human or animal.

Lucid.

Not awake, but not quite asleep.

Aware that her body was sprawled across her bed in her house somewhere far away from this place.

But where was THIS?

The ground trembled as she walked, the dirt swirling in her wake. The sound grew as she moved deeper down the path, and the trembling began to vibrate upwards.  An opening of the forest appeared, and with it a light that suddenly blasted through the darkness.  She noticed she was no longer walking, but still moving–up.  The light surrounded her body like a thick, hot liquid and held her as she ascended upwards towards the hovering ship.

Again.

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“Meet Karen” by Cherie Ann Turpin Story #22 (30 Stories in 30 Days)

“Meet Karen”

by Cherie Ann Turpin

Story #22

(30 Stories in 30 Days) Shapeshifter

Karen van Vliets was born a shape-shifter, but her abilities did not become manifest until age fifteen during one brutally hot summer.  She did not know her true origins, nor did she know of anyone else like her, given the fact that her parents made an unusual decision to adopt a Black baby into a White household.  Mr. and Mrs. van Vliets, wealthy descendents of coal and oil industrialists, adopted Karen from an inner city orphanage during their early stage of their soon-to-be multiple philanthropist impulses to give away some of the billions of dollars stashed away in U.S. and overseas banks to less fortunate and less privileged.

She grew up in a posh, fashionable quarter of the city surrounded by German and French philosophy books (both parents were philosophy professors) and a priceless art collection rivaling several urban museums.  Her mother and father, emotionally distant and reserved, became distressed at Karen’s inexplicable series of migraine headaches that shook her to her core.   Doctors assumed it to be stress-related, and prescribed anti-anxiety drugs that left her lethargic and unable to move from her bed for months. Lynnderella-Shape-Shifter-swatch-1

Her transformation into a shape-shifter became apparent during one of the more extreme migraine attacks when suddenly the pain disappeared like the clearing of a storm.  Her mother, who was usually a rather mild, calm woman began to scream hysterically when she walked into Karen’s bedroom and saw a naked woman standing before her who was, from head to toe, an exact copy of her.  Then, as if someone had flipped on a light, Karen morphed from a pale white body back to a dark brown body.

Mrs. van Vliets fell to the floor in a moist faint.

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“Session #1: Julia” by Cherie Ann Turpin, Story #18 (30 Stories in 30 Days)

Session #1: Julia

leather

Dr. Edwin Mueller, licensed psychologist with over 30 years in clinical practice used his home office in Glastonbury, Connecticut to see his patients for weekly and bi-weekly therapy appointments. His living room was tastefully decorated with tan chairs with pale blue upholstery that gave way in soft squishy dents when sat upon, several light brown and cream love-seats that seemed to invite a brief snooze, and a large fish aquarium filled with tiny, exotic fish. The wide plank oak floors gave off a mirror-like shine and helped to bring an impression of calmness to visitors. The windows were long and wide, revealing a well-manicured, bright green lawn flanked by rows of red, yellow, and purple pansies. Two benches sat perched against a huge, crooked maple tree.

His 7 pm patient sat in his somewhat cramped office, a space that seemed out-of-place with the waiting area and the rest of the property. His bookshelves were crammed with books, trinkets, magazines, even catalogs. His desk was piled with papers, pens, coffee cups, and just about anything else one could think would and could end up on a desk. His chair was an old brown leather standard covered with an old crochet throw and the seat had a worn out red extra cushion. In contrast, the patient’s chair was a shiny new leather model that reclined and still had a smell of newness that permeated the office room.

Dr. Mueller scratched his bald head and propped his short, stubby legs on the ottoman as he considered his new patient, Julia. She was a referral from the city clinic, a graduate student at Hartford University who seemed to be in the midst of an emotional crisis of sorts. Her body language seemed to say “stay away,” from her tightly crossed legs to her tightly crossed arms, tightly drawn lips, and oddly blank face. It was mid-July, and the evening air outside was balmy and warm. She seemed to be oblivious to the heat, however, and had dressed in dark, dreary colors and long sleeves. club-chair

“I can’t control it, I can’t seem to stop it,” rasped Julia, her voice trembling. She managed to smile as Dr. Mueller offered her a styrofoam cup of hot tea. She raised an eyebrow at him and whispered, “you won’t believe me. My fiance doesn’t believe me.”

“Julia, just….breathe. I’m not here to judge you. I’m here to listen. That’s it. Don’t worry about me believing you. If you believe it, then let’s talk about it. Help me understand what is happening to you,” assured Dr. Mueller. His dark brown eyes softened behind the thin spectacles as he smiled. His moustached, thin lips parted, revealing yellowish teeth, clearly evidence of his daily coffee habit.

I can’t stop….I keep shorting out things and breaking things,” she whispered.

“Like what?”

“I mean I can’t….I have this-this ability. It’s a gift. Or a curse. I don’t what it is but I short out electrical things. And I break glass without touching it,” Julia let out a big sigh, relieved to have put it out there.

“Okay,” smiled Dr. Mueller. “Okay. Well, now could you tell me how this happens? Do you know why it happens?”

“When I get upset, or angry, or passionate about something, like, uhm, sex” — Julia coughed, “things happen around me.”

“Things?”

“Yes. Like the time I got into an argument with Ellis my fiance and I went to the grocery store, and–”

“Why did you go to the grocery store if you were arguing?”

“I needed to get some milk and some light bulbs because all the light bulbs went out.”

“ALL of them?”

“Yep, all of them. So, uhm, right, I walked into the grocery store and the lights started shorting out as soon as I walked in with a cart. I ran out and the lights went back up.”

“I see.”

“My computer’s hard drive crashed twice in six months. My cell phone, well-I can’t keep a cell phone more than a month before it goes bad. I’ve given up on keeping one if it’s not a disposable one.”

“Tell me about the breaking glass.”

“It started out with a small wine glass,” recalled Julia. “My mother called me to tell me one of my great-aunts was in intensive care and was in a coma. I heard a glass break in the kitchen, so I ran in and found the goblet on the floor. It was nowhere near the edge of the counter, no reason for it to be on the floor. The next day my aunt passed on.”

“And you think you made that happen?”

“I don’t know. It seemed so strange at the time I thought it was a ghost. But then I got into a really bad scene with Ellis last month. He cheated on me with his ex-girlfriend and I found out because of a text on his cell phone.” Dr. Mueller raised one eyebrow, prompting Julia to justify her actions by saying, “and before you ask, no I wasn’t snooping–I needed to make a call because my cell phone was out of minutes.” She laughed nervously, and relaxed in the leather chair as Dr. Mueller joined in the laughter.

“So I needed to get away for a bit, you know, just take in a different scene, not look at him for awhile to get my head together. I drove up to Providence and crashed at my old roommate’s house. Things were cool when I got there but after I dropped off my duffel bag and went out for a beer run, I came back to see my roommate in shock: every single light bulb in the house and even the overhead glass covering to the overhead fan lamp had shattered. Not just shorted out, but shattered. One of the windows in the kitchen had a deep crack in it.

“I try not to drink from glass tumblers anymore during my time of the month. I keep candles around just in case. I need to know if I’m going crazy, or is this happening for real?”

“Okay, wow, Julia, that is a compelling, uhm, story, and frankly a compelling question to consider–”

“Am I just delusional, Doctor??”

A scream of shattering glass carried through the closed office door as Julia sighed. Dr. Mueller and Julia both stood up, startled. He carefully opened the door and snaked his head around to see if anyone was in the waiting room. The silence in the darkened room was thick and heavy. He reached for the light-switch and flicked it up, grimacing as only one of the lights clicked on. The fish aquarium’s thick glass had a fine but prominent crack on its face, but had not released any water. The windows facing the garden in the back were not so lucky: both windows were hollowed out, with piles of glass in pools of clear daggers both on the inside and the outside. Dr. Mueller swallowed nervously and looked at Julia, whose eyes were already welling up. An electrical hum hovered in the room.  He drew her near, hugging her, grounding her for the moment.

“You aren’t crazy, Julia, not at all. Let’s see if we can work on controlling that gift of yours.”

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Storage [Imaginary Catalog] Story #17 (30 Stories in 30 Days)

Fall 2050 Ikea Catalog, Bedroom Furniture and Storage Section:
Hyper-Dimensional Closet Storage System
80000 EUR-USD
images
No more dusty storage units or expensive storage fees!

No more boxes, bags, no more junky bedrooms!

A closet storage system for the chic and fashionable!  Now you can have literally four walk-in closets squeezed into one doorway!
Now you can comfortably organize your clothes for each season into each hyper-closet unit without losing precious square feet in your bedroom.  Each unit provides approximately 36 square feet, ample room to store each season’s clothing and footwear.  For those of you living in mini-studio spaces, we offer a two-unit closet storage system at a reduced price.  Each unit comes with virtual wooden shelf units and bars.
modern-closet-and-closet-design
This product requires assembly by a hyperspace technician and robotic assistance.  When ordering, indicate availability and preference for teleport-delivery, as well as preferred assembly day and time.  Guaranteed to not collapse or implode for ten years (incidental insurance available and advised for wardrobes worth more than 150000 EUR-USD.

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“Flip” by Cherie Ann Turpin Story #15 (30 Stories in 30 Days)

“Flip” by Cherie Ann Turpin Story #15 (30 Stories in 30 Days)

 

1987
gentrification_washington_dc
She was an ancient one, sleight of physique, but oddly swift as she glided from her modest, run-down house on a narrow, dark street to the local Bodega two blocks away on Georgia Avenue.  Long rumored to be a root-worker, most of the locals avoided talking to her or looking too closely at her wrinkled, ebony face for fear of being bewitched by her eyes, which were of a startling greyish blue tint.

Some of the younger elders, remembering what their own elders said to them as children about “devil eyes,” whispered things about the “witch who would turn your soul into dust if she catches you” to their grandchildren, at the ones who were still listening.  Most young folk these days had little to do with those stories of the old times from the South.  In fact, few paid attention to the tiny old lady going to the corner store to buy supplies for her one meal of fried bread in bacon fat for the day, as well as to buy canned food for her orange tabby cat who was in cat years just as ancient as her mistress.

Rumors of her being a witch seemed to be just that–rumors, and nothing more.  No one saw any unusual activity coming from her house, or strange visitors.  In fact, no one ever saw any visitors approaching her house, a somewhat rundown wooden structure with peeling white paint and crumbling stairs with faded green mats.  She never received mail, nor did she have social worker visits.  Surely someone her age needed a nurse from time to time, but no, not even Meals-on-Wheels.  It was as if she was invisible to the entire world outside of Chelton Street, NW.  Who was her family?

2011
gentrification
Most of her neighbors were now young, white professionals, some of them with growing families.  Most of the houses had been sold and renovated, attracting a wave of affluent buyers looking to live closer to the city and anticipating a completion of the gentrification process that would eventually push out poorer, older, browner residents like her.  The real estate firm handling the sale of the now expensive, neo-modern townhouse to her left sent a broker, a short yellowish man with reddish-brown hair and beady eyes, assuming their best guy could secure a quick buy and subsequently, a profitable flip.

Before his hand could reach the doorbell, the wooden door abruptly opened, and she stood behind the screen door, smiling.  The real estate broker jumped back, startled by the sudden movement of the old woman now staring at him with her strange smile.  He seemed frozen in place, unable to move or even think.  Without a word, she opened the screen door, and with a wave of her hand, motioned for him to come inside.

2013
chancellor-row
Chelton Street, NW, now an up and coming fashionable street for ambitious professionals working on the Hill, sits lined with expensive, foreign cars. The rundown white house, long gone, has been replaced by a shiny new townhouse much like its neighbor to the left.  On rare occasions the owner can be seen through the tall windows cradling her tabby kitten, a tall, slender woman with coal-black skin and greyish-blue eyes observing her quiet narrow street, watching the change of time, seeing the new replace the old.

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Meet Mark: Story #8 (30 Stories in 30 Days)

Meet Mark: Story #8 (30 Stories in 30 Days)

by Cherie Ann Turpin

The yellow card sat in a drawer surrounded by papers, pamphlets, and other cards gathering dust.  Nondescript in design and rather boring, it was one of many cards Mark gathered from his pockets to throw into a bin, a drawer, or maybe a file cabinet (when he bothered to use one).  He would show up to an office party, a networking event, a play, or a reception, only to find himself acquiring business cards, flyers, hand-written notes with names, numbers, email addresses, even websites.  As a political writer he gained access to many prominent people, and as he grew to prominence in his own right, he found himself gaining access to even more people of importance and fame.  If he showed up at the right time at the right event, he would be well-fed for many weeks.

Mark was a collector.  He collected people and drew out their energy. It wasn’t his fault–it was in his blood and it was amplified due to emotional abandonment by the adults in his life as a child.  Born with empathic abilities, he later developed a gift for absorbing not just emotions, but the energy they produced.  Orphaned at seven years old, Mark’s adoptive parents were mystified at his abilities, and soon shipped him off to boarding school rather than build emotional bonds with this odd boy who frightened them with his strange stare that seemed to reach into their souls.  As a result, he grew to adulthood without developing the ability to exchange, share, and connect with others.  The gift drove him to consume as a way to abate the thirst to fill the hole that never healed in his psyche.

He attracted a variety of people who assumed him to exist for the purpose of being known and being present at the right moment.   Their business cards were leads-he could siphon out thoughts and emotions from a distance, never interacting with the person. On rare occasions he encountered one that impelled him to seek out face-to-face meetings and eventually, trysts.  There was no exchange of emotion.  This about was about feeding his insatiable appetite.

But he met his match with her.  It began with a card and a greeting from afar.

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Birdsfoot Trefoil: The Lady Of Charity (Part One) Story #6 [30 Stories in 30 Days]

Birdsfoot Trefoil:  Lady Of Charity (Part One) Story #6 [30 Stories in 30 Days]birdsfoot-trefoil

By Cherie Ann Turpin

The stench of old urine was almost overwhelming.  The floor had not been mopped, and the desk chair itself was covered in dried urine.  Emma Smith was forced to sit in that very chair for an entire week.  At eight years old Emma was potty trained and normally would not have urinated all over her school uniform, her desk chair, and the floor around her.

Emma was a transfer student from St. James Parish School, a Catholic school in Cleveland to Saint Margaret Parish School, a Catholic school in Bedford, a quiet suburb far from the city.  Her family arrived as new residents of the adjacent suburb Bedford Heights, part of the early wave of African-Americans migrating to outer suburbs for better schools and clean streets during 1974.  During their first week of suburbia, eggs were smashed against the side of the tan, three-bedroom house, and the word “nigger” was drawn in large black letters in their driveway.  Dan Smith was short, reddish-brown, and stocky, with prematurely grey hair and matching grey eyes that tended to frighten strangers.  Dan, still wearing his mechanic’s uniform, stood outside in his driveway staring at the slur crudely drawn, as if to comprehend the implications of bringing his family into a war scenario.  His normally calm face drew tight with silent anger, anger he swallowed as he washed and scrubbed away the offensive word from his property.

“But the schools out here are better, Dan,” pleaded his wife Janet, her large brown eyes watching him mark the kitchen floor with dirt from his work boots while he paced.  “The kids need to be away from the city.  It’s not safe for them.” Janet watched Dan as he stopped in mid-pace and said, “and this is safe?”

Emma’s first day at Saint Margaret’s was marked by the initial reaction of the two girls to her appearance at the bus stop one cloudy Monday.  The two were waiting for the school bus at the end of Deer Run Drive, and were curious about the waif-like girl with three big plaits and cinnamon skin wearing a dark blue uniform and neat white oxford shirt with a rounded collar.  Her brand new saddle shoes were black and white leather.  She carried a Scooby-Doo lunchbox full of snacks, fruit, and a cheese sandwich. The two blond girls wore identical uniforms, and carried lunch boxes as well.  Emma spoke first, smiling.  They stared at her for one whole minute, silently.

“Why do you talk so proper,” responded one of the girls. She made a “eww” face, and whispered to the other girl.  The yellow bus appeared, and the two girls got on first and moved to the middle seat, while Emma sat up front.  The entire busload knew that the Black girl talked “weird” by the end of the bus trip.

Third grade teacher Miss May was not amused at the prospect of her classroom becoming integrated.  By the time the urine incident happened, she had routinely downgraded Emma’s homework and marked her as disruptive in class for asking questions.  Unfortunately for Emma on that fateful day, the row where she sat had been punished because one student spoke out of turn: no bathroom or playground breaks for the entire afternoon.  Emma tried to hold the pee inside, and begged to be allowed to go to the toilet.

Miss May, a tall, thin, stern woman with cold grey eyes shrouded by spectacles and short bangs, was not moved.  She watched the little girl squirm and finally, as the urine flowed, cry silently, ashamed and humiliated.  Emma’s luminous brown eyes lost its shine that day, and grew duller as the week progressed and the smell lingered.  Her little classmates were already hostile to having a Black girl in their midst; they laughed at her in the playground and on the school bus taking her home.

“Why don’t you like me?” Emma asked Miss May, as the class filed in a row to depart for the weekend.

Miss May paused for a moment, then bent down, looking at the sad girl, “Of course I like you, Emma.” Some of the girls in line giggled.

Emma felt something break inside herself, and a voice near her ear began to speak: she lies, bitter, angry woman.  Emma looked around to see who was talking, but saw no one.  I am here, child, take notice of my voice.

 img_Our_Ladyof_Charity071011

To be continued….

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Cheating Hearts (Story #2 – 30 Stories in 30 Days)

Cheating Hearts

By Cherie Ann Turpin

“Uhm, hon, why do I smell blood in the back seat of my car?”

“Huh?”

“Uhm, don’ t ‘huh’ me like you don’t know.  Wake up.  Why do I smell blood all over the back of my car?”

“Who is she? I know it was a woman, and I know the difference between male and female hormones when I smell it, so don’t try to play that over on me. She smells young, like less than 50 years young.  Who is she?” Precious-Hearts-Romances-My-Cheating-Heart

“S-s-s-she’s Rob’s girl, Caroline.  They were making out in the back.  He must have nipped her in the neck.”

“Rob??? Since when did he slow down?”

“She’s a prodigy he turned a few years back–she just got back from Atlanta.”

“Really.”

“Yes.  really.”

“And you just, well, sat in the front and watched them kiss, right? They did more than just kiss, David.”

“I was hunting, dear.  I didn’t wait around to see if they were buck-naked.  Sorry about the smell–I’ll go to the all-night car wash and get the interior cleaned.”

“You must think I was turned yesterday.  You are lying.”

“Stop it.”

“Stop what, David? Stop trusting you? Stop not trusting you? Stop trying to understand why you keep playing me like a tool? Stop wondering why you think you can sleep in that coffin I paid for and lie to my face?  Stop wondering why I don’t turn you to dust myself and just start over with a new consort?”

“What’s with the silver knife, Carla?  I didn’t cheat on you.  I told you, it’s Rob’s woman, not mine.  We were cruising around looking for dinner.  They got high on some raver who was on E, then they got horny.  That’s it.  Nothing happened.”

“What do you mean nothing happened? You let Rob fuck some ratchety bitch in MY car? Sure you didn’t join in? Why didn’t you get high?”

“I didn’t get high because I didn’t join in the feeding.  I saw a guy creeping around the woods–”

“You saw a guy in the woods. And what did he look like? Was he high, drunk?”

“He won’t be missed. I think he was looking to rob somebody.  He had a gun.”

“What kind of gun?”

“A stun-gun.”

“Who uses a stun-gun to rob people?”

“People who don’t like bullets, I guess. He tried to use it on me.  You should have seen his face, Carla–”

“Look, I’m not playing with you.  It’s almost time for me to get to my job, and the bar won’t open by itself.  And I don’t smell Rob ANYWHERE on the leather or carpet in the backseat–or the front, for that matter.  So, unless you want to see me use this knife on that limp, undead lump of flesh you call a dick, I suggest you come clean NOW, and just tell me. WHO THE FUCK IS SHE, DAVID?”

“My wife.”

“What you mean your wife?  I’m your wife!”

“My dead wife, as in Sharon.”

“She’s not dead.”

“Obviously.”

“Who turned her?  When did this happen? And how?”

“You did.”

WHAT?”

“You aren’t as old as you claim to be, are you Carla? Youngsters do tend to make those kind of mistakes.”

“What the fuck are you talking about?”

“You turned us both that night, you conniving little minx.  She didn’t die.”

“Why are you smiling like that, David?”

“Like what?”

“Like you are right now? It wasn’t like that.”

“Who’s the liar now?”

“What does she want?”

“She already has what she wants, Carla.  You’re just now noticing it because you’ve been too busy fucking and sucking Hector the Bouncer to care about where I plop my sexy ass.  What you should be asking right now is what do I want, as in how does sweet little killer Carla find a way to make it through the next twenty-four hours without Sharon the wronged wife removing her pretty head from her shoulders?”

“What makes you think I can’t take her down myself?”

“You’d kill your own prodigy?”

“Sounds as though I have no choice but to do just that.”

“You have a knife pointed at my heart.  You have many choices.  Make a move.”

“I don’t want to kill you.”

“But you want to kill her.”

“I want to live.  I want to know how Sharon rose from the ground without me sensing it.  I want to go to work before I lose my job.  Most of all, I want you to still be here when I return.”

“Go to work.  I’ll be here in the morning.”

“Promise?”

“I’m here, aren’t I?  She hasn’t challenged you.  Yet. Go on, you’re almost late.  We’ll talk about it, no weapons, okay?”

“Bite me.  Hard.”

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A story I’m working on…an idea about photos, time, space…

Image

I admit to a bit of narcissism.

It comes from a long struggle with self-esteem and insecurity about my place in this world.

Where do I fit in?  Why do I exist here right now?  What gives me the right to exist at all?

Very painful questions.  Very real and close to my heart.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I like to talk about myself even when I seem to be talking about something or someone else in my creative writing.  I suppose some might see such a trend in my academic writing as well.  A slice of my personality, my fears, my desires, my obsessions, my problems, and/or my gifts go into each and every contribution I make to the great ocean of writing both online and offline that floats around all of us.  In some sense, a piece of my essence, my ashe, my soul goes into my writing.  Is it any surprise, then, that I decided to write a story about photos, that this narrative I am building contends with the idea that our images carry a piece of soul to the larger collective consciousness?  There is a reason some cultures view photographs as taboo, while other cultures use photographs to cast sympathetic magical spells?  Is it any wonder that some people believe that a repetition of imagery can somehow project that person’s will and energy into their own space and influence their thoughts, actions, and beliefs?

My protagonist may or may not look like me.  Her or his being may not be the same race or experience.  Somewhere in that character’s trajectory lies a small piece of my own journey towards understanding human experience.  This is also Afrofuturism.