Sunday, September 25, 2011

...Over Your Dead Body/Death Express Continued...

...The Phantoms in the Forest...

"Yes, indeed. Over Your Dead Body."
He snarled a little bit at the end of the sentence. I looked at him, looked through him. I saw my neighbor passing in and out of the wall. He had finally managed to figure it out, but where to go, now that you're dead?

So many unanswered questions. What am I doing here, among these dead...The smell of cigarettes brought me back. Oh, yes. That's right. I am obsessed with cigarettes and smoking even though it's been almost seven years since I myself quit. I am not without many of its scars and remnants. I am still mad that I even started and was a fool to myself for so long. I could be dancing right along with these sheer beings of remorse and retribution. I could be here anytime, actually. But will it be the same? Me, dead wandering around a rattley old train car? No, I have more pleasant things in mind. But for now I am hanging out with Death and his newest arrivals.

The night is long and dark. It is not the same as a regular night. The end of the season crickets are so loud - fighting for their last round of chirping before they join the earth again. They are perpetually singing as leaves and branches are cracking in the forest just beyond the tracks. Something is chittering and falling through the sky. A bat lands just outside the train window where my new friend is passing back and forth. The cracking stops and there is only silence now. My ears feel as though someone has put their hands over them, everything is muffled. The crickets are tiny chirps barely audible. The Phantom Reaper is gone. I am alone with the person who died last night. Why don't I know his name?

...The Unlit Path...

He is looking at me with a sadness mixed with rage. I am not understanding why because I have no idea who he is. I don't know anything about him and I am not sure I want to. The photographs scattered around the floor begin to float around. He picks them up one at a time and when he has them all, he exits the train.

"No, please don't."

I barely say it because its useless. The dead don't do as they are told. It's the other way around, out here anyway. I don't want to sit here alone in the dark on the railway or follow the ghost into the dark forest where hideous sounds have started up again. This time the breaking and shuffling is much more careless and accompanied by harsh voices that don't sound helpful, or even human. I wait to see if he is really going in to the small opening in the trees. It's barely visible, one shade of dark against another. I keep thinking like a human, and want to have the courage of a ghost. Finally I have no choice because I am alone and way too curious to stay behind. I can at least follow at a distance until I see something I don't like.

Now it is I that is making cracking sounds on the fallen branches below my feet. I am horrified that I am being heard and every sound I make seems to be amplified in this black velvet thickness. I stop because I cannot breathe through my terror. I have lost sight of my ghost friend and I feel so hot I could fall over. I look to the sky, there is no moon, no stars. There is no wind but there is now a building heat that is pouring out of something I cannot see. I am exhausted with the temperature. I find a hollow in a bush and sit inside it. I hear a fire burning close but there is no light from anywhere. Shadows torment me with their dancing.

...Thicker than Water...

The black flames are distinctly burning. I hear voices of those that I recognize now. My mother and my son are having a conversation. The tone of my mothers voice is vile, angry. My son is a silent conversationalist, all I hear is "Uh huh. Mmm hmm." I hear my name, pronounced as "Your Mother" and there is nothing else now. I stand up in a revived furor and am slapped in the face with a tree branch. As I push through it and wipe away blood, sweat and tears, I try to find them. My anger gives me the courage to catapult into the darkness. It is just what they planned.

I come to a clearing where a black bonfire is burning. My mother and son are here, yes, but they are engaged in a conversation that will never include me or acknowledge me. Her frail skeleton sits in a "cat" position as his sits beside her indian style. There are phantom wraiths standing behind them, arms outstretched, waiting for me. The conversation continues between them but the words are completely incoherent. The largest wraith comes forward, bone hand extended. I reach out for it, and take it. I can't bear this exchange between them anymore in death than I could in life.

The wraith shapeshifts as we walk. His boney hand becomes covered in flesh. He becomes beautiful. Too beautiful. I would follow him anywhere. Daylight starts to peek over a far off horizon. The land we walk upon goes from barren and black to fragrant and green. Birds begin to emerge from trees heavy with leaves still green. Things always look better in the dawn of the new day...don't they?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

...Till Death Do Us Part/Death Express...(Continuing the Quit Smoking Express)



...The Mists In Between...(Continuation of the Hub titled "All Board the Quit Smoking Express")

My feet are cold. The night has advanced into a deep darkness. You hover now at the platform, gray mist and smoke pouring around your ankles. You have no feet now as mine are as cold as ice. This time last night you were alive...and well? Weren't you? Then you fell asleep watching Kyra Sedgewick eating a Ho-Ho while you had a lit cigarette in your hand. The sirens came and went. I am thinking of you and how I really didn't know you. Now you stand before me, a ghost, waiting for the ride to begin.
The train is still there waiting for us but it is vacant now. Even the conductor has left us here to wait. The Phantom Queen stands in Her place on the tracks. We go in and have a seat. Newspapers and coffee cups blow gently around. There is no glass in these windows. The dead don't get cold although I always want to believe they do.
I look over at you and I know you have to come back around again. I still wonder if anything I could have said could have made a difference. I know that sometimes just one word can stick in one's mind, reverberating right down into the core of a soul forever. There are two that stuck in mine, two that She promises to remove for me soon enough. For now though, I am thinking about you. The streetlights pour in the window and make the shadows long. You want to talk, but no longer have a voice. I want to talk but I have no idea what to say.
A scraping sound distracts me as you can't hear a sound. I see sparks along the outside of the train and watch as a tall sharp figure trails a long scythe alongside it. I am seated with a ghost so this visitor could be anyone, or anything. I have long since abandoned my fear of the night and its mysterious ways. Shadows like demons stand in the car with us and I look over at you. It appears that you are examining hands that no longer have fingers. The figure stands outside watching over our shoulders. I wonder how long it will be before the ride begins.

...The Gathering of Kindred Souls..

The streetlamp picks up movement in the parking lot. A shrouded figure comes drifting up over the stairs and past the Coke machine. Floating effortlessly it comes into our car and hovers in front of us. The figure outside passes through the wall and they stand nose to nose. I am freezing now, in the presence of new death. The new spirit is unable to move and stares with eyeless sockets into the stream of light from the parking lot beyond. Regular trains sound their horns and pass through.
The scraping figure moves towards the parking lot and vanishes. More shrouded ghosts come, some in pairs, some are throatless while some are amputated. I feel colder each time another enters the drafty car. Still no conductor in sight as the car fills up. The dark night holds its breath as the train begins to move so slowly. The Phantom Queen is waving to me from the end of the platform. I want to get out but I know She will only replay this until I get it right. So I sit among the ghosts as the train moves painfully along.
Some of the ghosts are trying to reach out to me, to touch me but they aren't ready for that kind of advanced behavior yet. I stand and walk to the back of the car where I can see where we have come from but I can't see anything. It is like a huge black cave that we emerged from. The streetlamp, the platform, and the Phantom Queen are no longer. I stand with my hands on the railing and watch as we leave no trace of our journey behind.
I turn back to the car and its passengers now. I am not surprised to see myself alone. There are photographs all over the floor now, pictures of those spirits that had boarded. Mothers, fathers, sons, daughters...the first shrouded figure whom I recognized as a grandmother. They all looked pretty happy in their photographs. I noticed that my house fire spirit was not in the pile at the same time that I noticed he was still in the car, off in a corner. He was half in and half out. Apparently learning to pass through walls already I sat back down as the car slowed.
When it stopped completely we were in complete darkness. I could hear talking and whispering and crying. I couldn't find the door out and was too confused to try. As I felt around in the dark my hands found something smooth under them, a cold curved casket lid with flowers upon it blocked me from moving. Then I heard the most disturbing laughter that made my pale skin crawl.

...The Blackened One...

He stood there again, back from the parking lot where he had gathered the newest additions to his collection. His grin was filled with black teeth, eroded by the smoke he blew in and out of his phantasm body. His laughter made my own teeth chatter and I hugged myself for a warmth that wouldn't come. His voice was unmistakable through the tendrils of smoke that drifted out from between his teeth. He was that disgraceful memory that I had carried through most of my life, he was everything that I ever doubted and misunderstood. He twisted around lies and deceit, anger and guilt. He Was The One.
"Till Death Do Us Part." He whispered through sheaths of smoke.
"Over my dead body." I turned away toward the light.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

...All Board The Quit Smoking Express...

...Do You Have Your Ticket?

Let's pretend we have just met on a platform and it's rainy...windy...cold. We huddle under the awning by the coffee shop we wished was open. It's not quite dark yet as I notice a stale donut lays on its side outside the spotless glass door. You take out a cigarette and light it. I turn my head away because it looks harmless, smells good sometimes. This is one of those times.
There aren't many people around. There is an older lady standing with a very tall boy who keeps repeating two words. His voice carries over the stairwell. "Marshmallow. Catnip." I feel an enormous range of emotions. What is he thinking about? Surely not a cigarette! Surely there is no catnip or marshmallows around here. The damp night wind blows and the smoke drifts into my face, up my nose. I don't want to seem rude and walk away because I know I will be boarding this train with you, and I was once just like you. Anxious because the trainride is smokefree. Annoyed that such a thing has to be. Wondering whatever will I do with my time until my next cigarette.
I chew my lip because this place, this's all an illusion. It's all about what we chose to do and be so very long ago. This meeting is not by chance and my perpetual longing for my addiction will perhaps never change. It's never been meant to. I stand there with you, and we haven't spoken yet. It will be me that first speaks to you, about something you have or something you are. I just don't know what that will be yet. I know you are already craving the next one, and I know you aren't going to be as friendly as you'd like to be.

...The Dark Night Express...

I can hear it from far away. The old black train chugging along like an abused lung is rattling down the track much slower than the others. The passengers on this train have much to be desired. I see bleached white hands and yellow patches of skin around mouths and eyes. I smell death and desire in the air, in their expired breath. Some of them I even remember from the past, but I don't see my father here. He must be on a different train.
You and I watch as it pulls up to the platform. It seems like it is too far away from the edge for us to be able to board. The conductor sticks his head out of the window. I would recognize that skull anywhere. You look from him to me and begin to back away. Here is my chance to initiate our conversation. "It's not as bad as it looks..."
Still, not enough to convince you. You aren't comfortable with these images of death and decay. Dying dreams drift in the air around you. I look at the conductor who dangles now on the sill of his station. I know it's a terrible scene. I also know it's the inevitable truth. We are all going to board Death Express one day. So the only thing I want to ask is this. If not now, when?

...The Reaper Then Decides...

Backing away from the train and the platform I watch your back as you go home towards what you have always done, and what you loathe to keep doing. Further ahead on the track stands a figure. She is in the path of the train, a crow upon Her shoulder, a crow in the air above Her. She watches me watching you. She nods Her head at me, acknowledging my thoughts. She follows you home. She watches as you talk disgustedly to yourself of how you are just too weak and just cannot care about leaving this disgraceful part of yourself behind. Forget that journey to places unknown, places that scare you irrationally before you even know what and and where they are and what they may have to offer. Her crows caw outside the window, startling you subconsciously. Exhausted, you turn on the television and light another cigarette.
Hours later a fire blazes and sirens awake the entire neighborhood. The old lady next door can barely walk and talk but her voice manages a short phrase.
"What a shame."
I barely understand her as the fire engines shoot massive hoses of water at your house on fire. I should have said more, or less. I don't know what I should have said now that you're gone. I cough a little from the smoke in the air. I notice the three crows on the telephone wire. In the gray morning something red coats the glass of the streetlamp. Further away I see Her. She watches all of this from behind the massive oak tree. She is the Phantom Queen, the Lady of Battle, Death and War. She followed you home and warned you but you were too tired to listen. You already believed it was too late. Nothing could have changed your mind.
Could it?

About Me

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Fairfield, CT, United States
Originally this blog was created to house the writings for The Red Queen. She is the Muse that inspires this Author and Artist and is the insidious channel that opens to admonish all doubt and fear. She allows what needs to be, TO BE. Carole Anzolletti is the Author and Illustrator of "Whispers of the Goddess" Poetry and Prose and is currently working on a body of writing called "The Forest Labyrinth." She has also been known as "Lady Pegasus" and formerly had the domain until 2009 when she changed it to She is a seller of art and craft and has sold her work all over the world. Currently her eBay id is: art_by_carole_anzolletti