Formerly Badass Horrible Poetry

This isn't just a poetry blog. Let's be honest, a lot of what I post is poetry but there are more often than not also postings about short stories. I do try to keep this blog separate from my others and post strictly creative work here. Some of it will be better than others, and much of it is in first or second draft stage when posted. These are raw works, and there will be spelling and grammar troubles at times because I use this blog to gauge what works and what doesn't. I use it as a place to get feedback. That's the reason it is "horrible". Because it's not finished-- And why should it be? We all want feedback but most of us are too afraid to put ourselves out there.

Welcome to my word.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Sinner's Halo: Book 1 Weaver of Snares - Prologue

Who are you and who am I to say we know the reason why?
Some are born;
Some men die beneath one infinite sky.
There’ll be war, there’ll be peace.
But everything one day will cease.
All the iron turned to rust;
All the proud men turned to dust.
And so all things, time will mend.
So this song will end.
- Pink Floyd, Childhood’s End

            † The end of childhood has an unpredictable threshold. For most, the exact moment when responsibility overshadows the comfortable light of youth is a transition that takes years and is still never fully realized. Not for me.
“Shit!” I caught myself before I skinned my knee on the jagged broken sidewalk block. Once again the strums of the guitar and fast paced rhythms on my iPod consumed me, and, not bothering to watch where I stepped, the thick edge of raised cement snuck up on me.
“Damnit! Every single time!” Sighing, I brushed off my pants with the back of my hand and glanced up at the wrought iron gate in front of me.
By day, the gate towered above: the entrance to an imposing mansion of desperate, decaying beauty. But by night, its cold, swirling bars felt like a prison to the outside world. Each piercing spire pointed dramatically towards the heavens, creating a monstrous jaw line that zigzagged across the summer night. I wanted inside. Badly. Glancing along the line of iron above me, I counted the number of small gargoyles perched gleefully on top of each of the wider posts. Thirteen posts in all, counting the one I stood in front of now, but only 11 gargoyles. Two of them had been demolished down to the base. Each one clearly depicted a half human chimera.
            I had never walked this route alone before tonight. Walking the route after school with my brother or a bunch of friends was one thing, but going at dusk all alone was different. I couldn’t help twisting around to look behind me before I cautiously made my way foreword once again.
            This gate encircled a grand estate, colossal by the scale of the other mansions of the area. From the outside, I could see past the towering pine trees just enough to catch a glimpse of the columned entrance of white marble. The last occupants had vacated the mansion many years ago and for the last hundred the townspeople said it was haunted. I shivered again at the thought.
            The teachers had thought it would be a fun way to fill the end of orientation for the new freshmen, ghost stories at a campfire on the back lawn, and I, being a sophomore, had volunteered to work the grill. School wouldn’t start for another month., but now I had to walk past the mansion the three blocks it would take to reach Uncle Monty’s house with all those damn fables running through my head. I should’ve taken that shot before I left the house.  
            Most of the teachers stories sucked, and weren’t worth remembering at all. Others though... One caught my attention in particular. It told the legend of the very house I crept past, through the narrative abilities of my history teacher, William Felis.
            Not being too much older than us, ten years at the most, Mr. Felis started in a low gravelly voice uncharacteristic of his normal chipper one:
 “230 years ago, there lived a man more happy than any man can be, for he had just married the sweetest, kindest, most trusting woman alive. They lived in their mansion, the first and last occupants it would ever house. The couple would give shelter to any who needed it. A token gesture, but very foolish. One day, a traveller came to the mansion, wishing to spend the night. Noticing her poise and striking beauty, the man immediately welcomed her in. The wife, although unnerved by the way the woman gazed hungrily at her husband, trusted his judgment and said nothing as they showed the girl to her room. That night, while the wife bathed in the brass footed tub of the master bath, the woman left a note for the man sticking out of the chest of the grandfather clock in the main hall, just beneath the staircase. Lured by her note, which claimed a reward for the couple’s generosity and honesty, the husband went to the guest room. She opened before he knocked and she stood before him, wearing nothing but a red rose in her hair.”
            He paused to gaze slowly around taking in the wide-eyed faces of the freshmen. Fixating back on the ground, he continued in almost a whisper: “When the wife came from the bath, she began to search the house for her husband. She looked through all of his normal spots—loveseat in the back garden, the window seat in the library. But it wasn’t until the entrance hall that she found a clue: dead rose petals wafted down the stairs on a breeze. Like breadcrumbs on a trail, the wife picked them up one by one. As she approached, with an ever-deepening pit in her stomach, the petals became more and more red and filled with life. She…” a strange look flashed across Mr. Felis’s features but he covered his lapse with a cough. He finished quickly with a breeze to his voice that had not been there before, “Behind the door, she found them together. Shocked, she started to run from the door, but as she did so, the woman’s form changed into a scowling beast and using one sharpened fingernail, she slit the poor wife’s throat on the spot.” Once again Mr. Felis had paused long enough for one of the boys in the front row to ask loudly, “Well, what happened?” Mr. Felis gazed sadly down at him and finished,
            “The man came to his senses and ran from the house carrying his wife’s body. The woman chased after him and, not wanting to be captured, killed him as well. She claimed the grounds as her own and lives there still, not dead but not alive. On some nights, she comes out of the building and stalks the land, waiting to kill any who venture on to her property. Their possessions still haunt the place. Peer through the bars, and you will see the bench in the back of the house and loveseat window in which the couple used to read each other stories and think up dreams. If you peer into the foyer, you will even see the grandfather clock, stopped at the exact time the wife was killed. With all the spirits that haunt the place, angry, violent, betrayed, evil, it may be the last thing you will ever do. Think on it wisely.” With that, he had stood up and relinquished the spotlight.
            I shivered as I recalled the details, repositioning the bag of clothes for my uncle’s house to a more comfortable position. I wished again that my brother hadn’t had an episode; despite the irregular limp he’d begun to develop, he simply refused to use the cane my mother had spent her most recent paycheck buying. The most recent fall and the coughing fit that followed had required more professional nursing than I wanted to be around to witness. But I also hated staying alone with Monty, whose TV-less house led so easily to boredom. The expression of abandonment on my brother’s face, so much like my own, had done nothing to ease my conscious as I walked out with my backpack and overnight bag. I left just as his nurse arrived.
            Just as I shuddered, remembering the gleam of sweat on Zack’s face and the buckling of his body that had little to do with his wheezing, I saw something move out of the corner of my eye. Something large. Luckily, it seemed to have moved on the other side of the fence. Quickening my step, despite the lingering pain in my knee, I walked along the farthest edge of the sidewalk away from the gate. There were only three more posts to pass before Monty’s street. I forced myself to ignore the sounds of rustling in the trees from the behind the iron. Soon I was unwillingly able to distinguish a purr-like sound emanating from the nearest brush. Breaking into a sprint, I overtook the second to last post, one empty of a gargoyle, but hearing another growl to my right I finally had to peer into the murky trees. I almost tripped again from shock. A tufted tail had flicked like a whip just above the brush line before disappearing into the greenery. Mid-stride, and not looking where I ran, I tripped over some upturned cement for the second time that night.
            I tumbled over the sidewalk before skidding to a stop a few feet from a telephone pole. Forcing myself to stand up, I tried a step but the cuts all over my body stabbed heat and knives everywhere exposed to the air. Leaning back against the utility pole, I slid down into a crouching position. Involuntarily, my eyes began to water.
“Shit!” I issued a few even more colorful words as I opened my eyes for self-triage. The skin on my knees was red, torn and grimy, as if it had been blasted by a high-powered-sander. One of the scrapes was bleeding steadily. A pool had formed on the ground already.  
             Groaning, I leaned my head back against the post. I gazed up into the dark, cloudless sky.
            “I’ll rest here for a minute.” I said to no one. I reached for my overnight bag, which had dropped a few feet away, and felt something hot trickle down my elbow. Another scrape. I choked out an expletive I’m sure my mother would have grounded me for, had she heard it.
            Reaching into my bag I felt around for the old T-shirt I’d brought to sleep in. I sighed as I pulled it out, and heard another growl. My eyes shot up, but when I saw nothing, I resumed pulling out the shirt. It tore deftly into three long strips I could use as makeshift bandages.
            I started with my elbows, tying the strips into messy but effective knots. I had begun to tie a strip around my knee when the snarl sounded again, only closer this time. The dark foliage in front of me rustled, but nothing could be seen. A feeling of dread over me, I tied the strip I’d been working on in a knot and moved on to my other knee. The rustling and growling became more pronounced as I scrambled to finish, my fumbling completely undoing what I had achieved. Grabbing the ends once more, I tried to tie it hastily, stopping only to wipe some accumulated sweat from my forehead. A further sounds caused me to jump, but I finished in seconds anyway. Grabbing and re-zipping the bag, I stood and found the gate with my eyes.
            The sack hit the ground with a dull thud. I stared petrified at the iron bars. Or, more accurately I stared petrified at what was behind the iron bars. A white lion with glowing red eyes glared at me, the only thing between us the iron gate, which, at the moment, appeared far too small for my taste. The glowing animal took one step towards the gate then another, and another. It approached slowly, growling like a low and dissonant chord on an untuned piano. Another sound rustled leaves from somewhere next to me, but petrified by the lion, I wasn’t too concerned. As the rustling grew closer, the lion’s growl escalated into a full roar. Raising its haunches the lion rushed at the gate with tremendous force causing the entire fence to reverberate on the dull and silent street.
            Coming to my senses at last, I sprang to my feet as the lion was knocked backwards and tumbled over itself. Rising up, it rushed again at me, roaring while it sprinted. I had barely taken one step when a sudden pain pierced my leg. Another thunderous clash of beast and metal sounded as I stared down to see a black serpent attached by the mouth to my ankle. The pain that had seeped into my left foot replaced itself with a numbness that seemed to travel up my leg at an impossible rate.
“That’s a snake…” I thought dumbly as reptile twitched with shivering delight.
            The lion snarled, and the snake, in answer, extracted its fangs from my ankle. Following the snake’s progress with dazed eyes, I could only barely stay awake in a world gone woozy as it rubbed itself against the fresh bite marks before slithering back through the gate. My eyes were losing focus. Everything that had been in focus was blurry. Falling to my knees, not even feeling the pain of landing on my already beat up kneecaps, I looked through the useless spears of gate again to watch the lion saunter away through the trees, going in and out of focus. When it had finally disappeared into the thicket, I blinked a few times, trying to keep the landscape clear. Somewhere, a bell tolled eight. My eyes involuntarily closed and my head hit the pavement with a loud thud as my mind faded into darkness. † 
©2014 Lex Vex

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