i didn’t want to write poetry

photo from Google images

***

but i somewhere started.
maybe it was the sound
my words
made
when they hit
the screen.
thoughts like
bugs on a windshield,
art of reorganizing a mess

-jamie gist
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Ghost Tour

photo from Google images

This started as a horror prompt, but I kind of did whatever with it. Enjoy 🙂

***

Ghost Tour

It wasn’t hard to scare Margaret. She was determined to change this, so she closed her eyes for possibly the millionth time. Still, sleep evaded her even after getting up for a little while and taking three melatonin tablets. Nothing seemed to be able to shake the guide’s shrill voice, raising an octave more than he should be able to by any natural means.
“Eight-thirty sharp,” he told the group before they set off to their respective rooms in the inn.
Margaret’s group was staying in an inn from the eighteenth century. It had the cozy feeling of somewhere historical, yet retained an uneasiness from possibly being haunted or just from the many layers of reapplied wallpaper and questionable interior design. A bust of some long dead man in a wig stared into each visitor’s soul as they patiently waited to collect their room key. Their hotel mascot, the young lady at the desk assured her after detecting Margaret’s discomfort. The inn was highly recommended, no one seemed to be able to come up with a reason to rate it less than three stars, even the most critical online reviewers praised it. Words like realistic bounced around in Margaret’s mind just as easily as the digital numbers marking the hours of the night ticking away. She needed to sleep, but she kept thinking back to the ones that seemed to believe that there was actually something believable about this spot. Trolls, she told herself over and over again. That’s all the reviews were. As if she needed any more reason to want to go back home.
Once she stopped checking the bedside clock, Margaret fell asleep. Unfortunately, she didn’t think to do this until about 6:30am. As soon as she closed her eyes she had to open them again. While brushing her teeth and staring at the impressive bags under her eyes, Margaret wondered if it was too late to bail on this. She could always face her fear in a safer environment, one that had worse reviews for being too campy. Her thoughts were interrupted by the shrill sound of their tour guide, this time the frequency rivaled that of a dog whistle so Margaret almost didn’t hear him at first. Eight o’clock. Best get moving since she lost the nerve to bail.
Once everyone had gathered, they got a brief overview of what to expect. Apparently the inn wasn’t the haunted place in question, much to Margaret’s relief. She could hardly eat her lunch or keep up with the conversations going on around her, the bus to take them into the downtown area will come by at seven o’clock. The guide’s voice cracked, more jarring against against his stocky frame as the pitch went up sharply at the end of his sentence.
“Here’s the bus! Let’s go, everyone.”
Each member of the tour held a pamphlet. Margaret sat against the window, hands drenching the paper in sweat as she tried to wipe some of the ink from her hand onto her pants. The bus pulled over to the side. Their guide stood up to whisper something to the driver, who kept his eyes trained ahead on the road at the same spot. He repeated the question, but the driver did not break his gaze. Margaret noticed him move his hand back over to the key, ready to turn it, then jerking his hand back to the gearshift. The driver scrambled for his seatbelt, fumbling with the buckle before ripping the belt from across his chest and trying to force himself through the doors, stopping only to hit the emergency switch so he could walk around the bus and sprint back towards the inn. The guide brushed his hair back with a nervous chuckle.
“Well that doesn’t usually happen. Guess we’re starting earlier than usual, come on. Wish he told me they added something new to it,” he mumbled the last part.
To Margaret’s surprise, the rest of the tour group followed.
“We’re almost to the town, anyway. Three minute walk, tops.”

It was well into the evening, as was expected. No one was outside at the moment and Margaret started doing what she was best at: worrying. They walked past a souvenir shop and a small movie theatre, the illuminated board showing the same three films for almost half a year.
“Just up ahead. It’s the house in your pamphlet.”
Margaret had not been able to focus long enough to read her now-ruined copy, so she looked around to see if she was the only one. She must’ve been, because everyone else nodded their heads in mutual understanding. Margaret felt her breakfast churn from the day before.
“No time to dilly-dally. First we’ll go to the kitchen and work our way through the rest of the house. Over there, that drawer was where they kept knives. Just your usual kitchenware, nothing too fancy. Now most people think there was a break in, or someone in the family did it. That was the accepted story for the longest time, you might remember reading that. However, one of the family’s friends thought it was odd, multiple murder-suicides didn’t seem like the type of thing to happen in such a close-knit family. However, you can’t always know what goes on behind closed doors so that’s what the evidence supported. Anyway, the friend hired a medium. A psychic, who walked in and told them that it wasn’t what the authorities thought. It was the doing of some evil spirit, clear as day according to the medium. You might be able to find interviews still about how they insist there was no way they could’ve missed the spirit did it unless they were purposefully ignoring it. Better than a confession and video evidence, no doubt about it.”
“So it was this thing? That killed them?”
“Who knows?” the guide said with a shrug.
He opened the drawer carefully, the contents preserved with a solid plastic casing. Lifting the lid, he took out some more papers, flipping through them to find his place.
“Here we are. Okay, I guess we’ll head upstairs.”
A cough from the misty guest who had just joined their tour group caught their attention.
“I have one question. What was the verdict? Evil spirit or unfortunate circumstance?”
“I told the young woman just before. And I wasn’t there either, so I can’t speak from personal experience. Second person today that no one informed me of. So many new hires lately.”
The lights flickered when their new party member blinked several times. He tried to raise his question again.
“That’s understandable. I’m just saying, did anyone believe I did it?”
“Of course not,” the guide scoffed.
“Why not? There was a medium in on the case, wasn’t there? What more evidence do you need, I’m standing right in front of you.”
“Right, but it’s over and done with. They’ve already decided which story to go with, especially with a medium being the only representative for you.”
The spirit rubbed his face with the palm of his hand. He exhaled and a shiver was felt in the entire room.
“Maybe I need to make my point a little clearer.”
The tour group watched, not saying a word. Margaret tried to inch closer to the exit.
“Point? I’m giving a tour right now, maybe you could do it later.”
This angered the spirit. He waved his hand around so that doors and cabinets opened, contents clattering to the ground all at once.
“Stop mocking me!”
He sent a chair hurtling across the room, just missing someone. The spirit lifted the shattered plates and glasses. Their tour guide rolled his eyes and the spirit’s face twitched. Floating debris condensed into a large sphere, ready to release into every corner of the kitchen with the slightest command.
Their tour guide took a laser pen from his belt, running towards his opponent. The spirit started to move his hand upward, but the tour guide stopped it with an ice-colored blade springing out from the laser. He howled, guarding his injured hand as the plates and glass fell back onto the floor. Before he could manage another attack the pen was at his throat.
“You’re scaring my tour group.”

“Isn’t that the point?”

Swing

Photo from Google images.

Swing

The playground had to be haunted, or cursed, or something. There was no other explanation, especially for the one in such perfect condition on Partridge Avenue. Planning went without a hitch. From the woodchips on the ground to the closed-in winding rainbow slide (which was the most popular part of the playground). Everything was perfect form the very beginning. Partridge Avenue Elementary School had been waiting for this moment for the entire half of last year and the summer. Once complete, the rainbow slide stood five feet tall and became a rite of passage. Kids were either pushed down or took a running leap, depending on how much pride they wanted to preserve in the process. Some decided to slow the descent with the soles of their shoes, the faint scent of melted rubber joining them at the bottom. Other braver souls risked rashes and burns from a reckless knee or elbow colliding with the sides on the way down.

Since the slides got most of the children’s attention, the swing set was frequently considered to be underrated. New students learned that it’s the best spot on the playground to slowly get used to their new school since there were never that many over there. Joey was new and like every enthusiastic new kid he wanted to be friends with everyone, immediately. He could hardly sit at his desk without wanting to strike up a conversation with his classmates so recess was his time. He marched over to the swing set after being dissuaded by the others about going straight for the slide or where the other groups gather. Joey moved to sit on the one all the way at the far right, but a third-grader with frizzy blonde hair waved at him to stop.

“Not that one! Don’t sit on that one.”

“Why? All the others are taken.”

“Just don’t,” the blonde boy said eyes glancing over to the other kids swinging.

“Why?”

“Last one to use it had to move schools. He wouldn’t undo the curse.”

“There’s no such thing.”

“Then find out,” he challenged.

“I will.”

The blonde boy’s eyes widened to twice their size. Joey pretended not to notice, spun around on his heel, and sat down on the swing slowly. He scraped his shoes in the woodchips and dirt below, kicking it as far as he could. He leaned backwards, using his weight to move the swing. Other kids noticed Joey on the swing and stopped what they were doing to watch. A few of them opened their mouths as if to call out to him, but then apparently thought better. The new kid was already on the swing, they thought. Joey kept going, making the frame of the swings jump with each upward movement. The children on the ground shifted each time the swing set moved, fear of something terrible saturating the air around them until Joey jumped off of the swing and landed with both feet on the ground. He lifted both of his arms up and flashed his toothy smile. The other children responded with a beat of silence.

“Now you gotta swing backwards,” said the blonde boy.

“Backwards? Nothing happened, you saw.”

Joey stopped listening, deciding to walk over to the slide and make his way into the group. He didn’t see the kid still swinging, nearly everyone else stopped to watch him.

“Outta the way!”

The swinging kid tried to maneuver to the side, but failed. His foot kicked Joey right on the side of his head, sending him down with an audible smack. The sunshine burned Joey’s eyes, blurring the sides of the kids as they ran over to him. The blonde kid said something to him but Joey didn’t hear it, then he felt his arm being pulled up, and his legs stumbled across the ground as if he was walking through mud.

“Swing backwards. Told you, look what happened.”

Joey’s head was pounding and only increased when the kid sat him down on the swing. He wasn’t sure he could remember how to answer in words.

“Push! You need to swing or it’ll just keep happening.”

He made his legs kick enough, gripping the chain link sides of the swings so he wouldn’t fall over. It felt like Joey’s brain was moving to the front and back of his skull with each painful swing. He heard footsteps, a security guard and a couple teachers ran over.

“Let me see him! What happened?”

Chimera

photo from Google images

 

Chimera

It’s long been your dream to create such a creature. Old mythology and pictures illustrated possibilities for you, but nothing you read or looked at could calm the drive to make it real. Lions with feathery wings, serpents with many legs only made the search more painful. Knowing that these could be thought of was plenty, yet everyone around was simply too cowardly to put them into existence. Sure there’s ethical restrictions, what industry would benefit from creatures made from ones that already exist? Your background has prepared you well to know the costs and even greater benefits of such a feat, yet you were hindered by small-minded opposition left and right. Most notably was the reporter who thrust a microphone in your face as you were walking out after a particularly inspiring breakthrough. You may have mentioned your plan to make better creatures than the world already knows of.

Who are you to play god echoes in your ears for some time after and you’d like to say that it bothered you.

 

No one was allowed to see your sketches. Even your funding was from a questionable source, but that wouldn’t matter once you had succeeded. Not many people are willing to donate to something like this, so you need to get creative every so often. Raiding morgues was the easiest option, especially since there’s been no prior research on how to properly attach something non-human to a human in the cleanest way possible. The last result was successful, you could barely make out the sutures where the thread merged the subject’s arm with the leg of a moose. You tried a few more times with other materials; from alligator to dog, and all of them were just as successful.

Finding live subjects wasn’t the most challenging aspect, it was keeping them out of pain and sedated enough to work on them that posed the problem. One in particular didn’t respond well to some of the injections, leaving you with no choice but to remove the source of the noise. That along with a blindfold made it much easier to focus. You stopped occasionally to monitor the gurgling of blood and make sure that it didn’t obstruct the subject’s breathing.

After hours of sewing together the finished product you stepped back from the table, stripping off the nylon gloves, and wiping your hands on your coat. This was an ambitious operation and you weren’t entirely sure that the human body would accept the pulmonary system of a lion. You rolled the chair from your desk over to the table, took out your phone, and waited.

Some news articles later, you heard rustling on the table. The subject was waking up, or trying to. You watched the chest rise, fighting to figure out how these new organs worked. Then, a shuddering exhale as the air decompressed from the creature’s lungs faster than it was taken in. The second breath was less strained, the third even less so. You almost crossed your fingers. Four breaths got alarmingly ragged, the subject scratching at the side of the table for purchase as its lungs tried to do what should be reflexive. You allowed the sputtering and struggling to continue for a little while longer before you stood up to search for the syringe left on your desk. The subject fell off the table with a thud shortly before you picked up the correct bottle. Wrapping your arm around the creature to hold it steady, you jammed the needle into its neck until it calmed to stillness. You needed a different workspace.

a year in recap

Happy New Year, everyone! I wish you all the best. I decided to do something different than resolutions, sometimes it’s nice to be able to look at what you’ve already accomplished rather than what you still haven’t got done. It’s pretty motivating, from my experience. I wrote this while listening to a song, so here it is if you’re interested:

 

photo from Google images

***

1
i know you like the way your feelings stay crumpled inside the drawer.

did you hope they'd fall away after you opened & closed it so many times?

2
you decided to stop sharpening knives to see if they still fit into your skull.

3
that keepsake bottle of poison you keep on you begins to lose its taste,
after only a couple sips it finally makes you sick.

4
don't be afraid of everyone you don't recognize, they may belong to a place where you can't buy poison.

5
you'll find yourself removing bandage after bandage
&
mobility in the extremities is a strange feeling.

-jamie gist

today i feel invincible

So I meant to post this yesterday, but didn’t get around to it. Enjoy 🙂

***

i leave time to burn next to crisp air by crashing waves. 80mph to catch up to my mind already crossing into next year. cold air on the brink of snow & seeping feeling back into hands while i drag thoughts back in order. jumbled sorting crushing against my skull, arrange it between the next & last minute thought sneak by. type them into my screen to leave space for the influx of helium-filled ideas.

-jamie gist