In Those Days

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Image Credit: Johan Finnevidsson/Shutterstock.com

In those days the children went missing
In the cornfields the scarecrows would weep
As darker angels rocked the children to their deeper sleep
And we would search across the lands
Nothing but hope in our trembling hands
All the things we could never understand
In those days

In those days the dark ones met
In abandoned houses along forgotten byways
Like the flotsam and jetsam running wild
Up and down the broken highways
And they said that in those rooms
They cried and screamed and bled
In those days

In those days we followed gods without names
That danced in bonfire flames
Or formed as clouds above our weary heads
As we prayed for rain to feed the crops
And blessed every single watery drop and promised
To sacrifice and pay the price
For food and shelter
In those days

In those days we made such deals
That in the light of day we would conceal
Even from ourselves as beggars might
Pretend they are kings beneath the shadows of night
And when the children were all gone
The sky was so empty
Not a star left to wish upon
In those days

(c ) Helen M Valentina 2019

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The Shrink

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Image Credit: Mogilevtsev Alexandr/Shutterstock.com

“What do you see?” I asked the shrink, just like he’d ask me with all those damned Rorschach tests in his cold clinic rooms.

I held up my art, my handiwork. The creativity of it thrills me just to think of it. How clever, I flatter myself, to make these versions of the world I inhabit and turn it back on him now. Learn what this unlocks in his dark little fevered mind.

Because it will be dark, I’m sure. All those hours sitting in his chair, talking to people like me, pretending he’s different. Pretending he’s trying to help, to heal, when really he’s just a little pervert onlooker wanting to live vicariously in all our much braver, freer minds.

I hold up the sheet with the first blood spatter pattern from my last kill. I can see him processing what this is, and what it means.

“Yes Richard,” I say. “This is blood and I have killed, so I guess that shows how good your therapy is. But no matter, what I want to know is what goes on in your head. What you see in the patterns. Just tell me the first thing that comes into your head.”

He struggles in his bonds. He peers at the sheet I’m holding up to him. I guess the light is a bit dark in this abandoned warehouse I’ve re-purposed for my therapy room. I turn the little lamp on the table near him more fully on to the paper so he can see more clearly. I don’t want anything stopping the truth of these revelations.

“Let me go Gary. We can make sure no-one knows about this. I can help you with what this all means.”

“But what does this mean?” I ask again, patient, holding the sheet closer to him. “What do you see?”

He actually recoils. So squeamish. No wonder he has to dive into minds like mine. He doesn’t have the balls for what people like me do. He’d probably faint or throw up or piss himself at a kill site. Look, even now, the blood on the paper – even though it’s congealed and days old – it actually scares him.

Like it’s his blood. Well, that could be arranged, if he doesn’t cooperate.

He tries to stop shaking and looks at the sheet more fully for the first time. I think he’s realised the best thing to do is play along.

“Um..I..see…an eagle swopping in the sky.”

“Oh?” I say, looking at the page myself. “Interesting. How very predatory of you Richard. And this one?”

I hold up another, and then another. He responds, his voice weaker with each.

“A man with a knife approaching someone….a child running from a car….the angel of death.”

“Wow Rich, we are stuck on a theme. Why do you suppose that is? I might do a thesis on the impact of immediate circumstances and the impressions from such art work. What do you think? Would that make me a doctor, like you?”

“Gary, please?”

I stand up, taking the syringe from my pocket, holding it up to him.

“This will make you sleepy I think, make you calm down, then we can try again. See if a calmer Rich sees something different next time.”

“My god Gary..that blood..please..you need help..”

He struggles as I hold his head, baring his neck for me to administer the medicine.

“Shh, shh,” I tell him, almost kindly,. “It will hurt less if you struggle. Just a little sting, nothing more. In a little while, we can begin again.”

Who ever knew psychiatry could be such fun?

(c) Helen M Valentina 2019

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Little Light

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Image Credit: Ailisa/Shutterstock.com

She followed the little light into the forest.

At first it was a glow into distance, down a pleasant, welcoming track. It beckoned her with a promise of light and warmth, and the night was very cold and very dark, and she knew she should not venture so far from home. But now, now, as she saw the light, all the fears melted away, snowflakes kissed by the moonlight, accepting a gentle dissolution.

But as she drew nearer, the light became more distant again.

I am sure it was only this far, she thought with confusion, as the light now glowed ever deeper in the forest. I am sure my eye could not have tricked me so!

But the moonlight shone down from a darkening canopy of night and told her no truths, betrayed no secrets, and she presumed she had been mistaken.

A trick of the light, she thought, quite literally. But still, it is so pretty, I must follow.

Three times it teased her and she followed, ever deeper into the forest, convinced each time she had been mistaken but would surely soon be in the warmth of its glow. But after the third time, doubt crept within her soul, twining itself around her inner thoughts, making her little body tremble with more than just the increasing cold of the night.

And for the first time she turned, sure she must abandon her quest, and return home.

But behind her the path had disappeared, as though the sheer effort of her footsteps had eroded its sureness and its clarity. Where once she had walked freely, now there were messy, dangerous entanglements of forestry and bushes, their sepulchral branches and twigs twisting before her like wicked arms and hands eager to grab her, drag her down.

It cannot be, she thought. And yet it was.

Then I must continue to the light, she thought, there is nothing else for it.

But on turning again, only a similar threatening darkness of forest was found. Darkness behind, darkness before, and only in her small space any light.

How can that be, she thought, how can I see anything at all now?

And she looked up, wondering, to see the lantern just above her, lighting the small enclave where she now stood, trapped.

She finally understood. She screamed.

But the night was dank and dark and silent, and no-one would hear. No-one would ever hear her again.

(c. ) Helen M Valentina 2019

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Darkness Castle

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Image Credit: Joseph C/Shutterstock.com

The tour guide promised a visit to an historic site ‘steeped in blood and mystery.’

They called it the ‘Darkness Castle’. It was abandoned now, and ruined by centuries of weather and the indifferent cruelty of time. Still, that seemed fitting, for if history was to be believed, cruelty was as much a part of this place as the bricks and mortor that held its remaining ramparts high.

In those walls sacrifices were made, at every harvest and before every war. They say a queen lived here who, like Countess Bathory, believed in the restorative properties of young blood – young blood consumed, young blood bathed in, young blood taken in the most horrendous and frightening, traumatic ways imaginable.

In one destroyed large room of the castle it is said the long gone roof had many openings to allow the moonlight to seep in, like a thousand stars, on a floor bathed in blood. And it is said they danced there and revelled, and were wanton in their cruelty.

Now, it’s just ruins, just an old place. We walk through the rooms and hallways still safe enough to visit and touch the walls as though to feel the ghosts of time cry out to us. I hear nothing, I feel nothing. I don’t believe in ghosts.

But I do believe in the cruelty of mankind. I do believe the stories are true. Just as I believe the other rumours, that somewhere now in this city, in the places where the modern rich meet, that the rituals continue.

That’s why I travel with friends and I never let myself be alone in this city, in this place. For the Darkness Castle may be fallen, but something just as bad has risen in its wake.

And I do not intend to be its sacrifice. I’m just a tourist, passing through. It is not my time to die.

(c ) Helen M Valentina 2019

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Last Thing They’ll See

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Image Credit: Andreas Marquardt/Shutterstock.com

Remember little one I told you
As I hung above your crib
Those many years ago
That angels come in many forms
So many you might know
Not only kindness, sweetness
We are warriors
We are kings
We are many, many things

Remember how I promised
To watch over you my child
Even as you grow
I see the onslaught of the storms
Your parents here bestow
Not only kindness, sweetness
They are torment
Terror brings
So many, many things

I will come when you most need it
When their battles reach your door
When they scream you are unwanted
When they shove you to the floor
When they think that little children
Can never fight and win
When such cowards bring brutality
To fragile, growing skin
Just remember that we angels
Are many, many things

When you need me most
You’re crying
And their wickedness is here
When you say the words
That anger them
And they answer you with fear
I will come with bow and arrow
Like pure vengeance to your room
I will show them all the corners
Where the darker flowers bloom
Not just a token above a crib now
Twisting, turning innocently
I promise my dear child how
I’m the last thing they will see
And they’ll understand
When they feel the fury of my wings
That angels are not just kindness
We are many, many things

(c ) Helen M Valentina 2019

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Can You See It?

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Image Credit: Motortion Films/Shutterstock.com

Can you see it in my eyes? In my smile?

I see you, behind the mirror, my other self, my best self. You are smiling back at me. You are pleased.

Did the blood on my hands soothe you? Did you enjoy, like I did, the slicing feel of the knife? How it sinks into flesh like into over-ripe fruit? I didn’t expect it to feel so soft, so yielding, so willing. Even with the screams, it just slid in and in, the skin acquiescing, understanding, what the owner of the skin could not.

Did you enjoy that too?

Do you think it shows? I’ve washed off the blood. I’ve cleaned every inch of my trembling, ¬†ecstatic body. So I’ve cleaned you too.

Have I done enough? You must tell me. Not just grin back at me, like a happy puppy at its master. For I know you are the master, I do know that, but right now, right now I feel so free we could almost be equals.

Still, I crave your approbation, your agreement, your approval. Did I do enough? Did it last long enough? All those hours of torture, was it a good blessing for you? Did it prove I am not just the man outside the mirror, that I am the man within it, part of you?

Are we one?

Oh, but how glorious that would be! And if you’d speak, not just reflect my mortal form, show yourself to me more fully, so we can truly merge.

I can hear you though, in my head your chatter, you always talk. Telling me, more blood, more death. And the more I shed, the closer we will get, till you will finally be freed from the mirror to merge with me.

I’m your willing pupil. I’m your best friend. Can you see it? Can you see?

Then I will show you, I will prove it, again and again. Whatever it takes.

Until you see it. Until you see me.

(c ) Helen M Valentina 2019

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Do Not Call Them

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Image Credit: kittirat roekburi/Shutterstock.com

Listen children as I tell you a story. The one story you must be told and must believe, and with the one moral you must always follow.

And the moral is so important I will say it at the beginning and I will repeat it at the end: Do Not Call Them.

Once, long ago, in this little town, there were a group of misfits. It was in the 1970s and in those times, people called hippies were everywhere. They spoke of love and kindness but often their lifestyles were dangerous and licentious and false. In our town, particularly so, for the leader of the hippies was an evil man. A man drunk on power and control. A cult leader, if you will.

Cults are things that are ultimately bent on their own destruction. People join them thinking they will be saved, but never so my children, never so. And not in this case either.

The town grew tired of this evil man and his hippie followers and his constant demands – for attention, for power, for money. He was barred from town hall events and was denied a voice in local council meetings. In time that made him paranoid my children – that means he began to mistrust everyone and everything, even his own followers.

And so, like all of his kind, he decided that he and his people were destined for greater land, a kingdom of their own, beyond the waters, as he said. He preached about a place beyond our world where they would thrive and live free and purposeful. And in time he convinced them all that they must follow him through the gate, to this glorious place beyond.

Ouside our little town you know of Lake Regret. That was not always its name, but we renamed it once he and his group walked, as one, into its depths, until all their heads were covered in the waters, until all of them, one by one, drowned.

And no, little ones, they did not make it to some glorious land beyond. There was no such thing. Only watery death awaited them.

But there is something about water, my children. Something maybe even the evil man knew. Souls get trapped in water. They can’t rise to heaven if they’ve chosen such a watery grave. But they can rise, in other ways. As some of the unfortunate townsfolk found – the parents of some of the hippies, crying and lamenting at the water’s edge for their lost sons and daughters.

Because, once called, sometimes they came back. Dead, haunted, ghosts – wraiths, and they demanded a bounty to be raised from their watery sleep. One that grieving parents often willingly gave, to be dragged down with their lost loved ones, into the water.

They are still there, under the water, my children. So listen when I tell you and listen well, the moral of the story – if you are to live and live happy, do not go to the waters and do not call them. Never call them.

Because if you call them, they may come.

(c) Helen M Valentina 2019

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Pack Them Away

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Image credit: Silvio Russo/Shutterstock.com

Pack them away
At the end of day
As the shadows crawl
Over the bay
As the depth of darkness
Wanders through these halls
Pack away the secrets
Make sure to hide them all
Pack them away

Pack them inside
Once were housed in flesh
Now it is the boxes
Wrapped in finest mesh
Carrying the lifetimes
Once the blood is shed
All their little sins
Everything they said
Pack them inside

Pack them so deep
Now they’re blanched by sun
All the killing over
All the feasting done
How their blood replenished
Skin so tired and old
Youth is for the daring
Merciless and cold
Pack them so deep

(c ) Helen M Valentina 2019

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Emergence

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Image Credit: Aleksander Kondratov/Shutterstock.com

Out of smoke and fire they came.

At first just as strange and unthreatening as seeing a face in the clouds, the creatures born of smoke and fire came.

Friendly at first, their faces smiling, their words sweet, the terrible creatures of smoke and fire came.

One or two, here and there, at campfires or in crematoriums or at bonfires on the beach, the creatures of smoke and fire came.

But then, so much more. Fires spontaneously lit themselves in city streets, in the lush cornfields of the country towns, in the playgrounds of schools.

And as more came, and more were born of the wicked flame, their expressions were not so sweet, their words not so kind. The creatures started to show, with the strength of numbers, their true faces.

And then we knew, the Emergence had begun.

The ephemeral can kill. It can torture in slow, bittersweet ways. It can drive you mad.

It is not constrained by the normal rules of physics. It can seep and creep and crawl and travel vast distances in the blink of an eye.

And its eye is terrible. But more terrible still is its mouth. Their mouths. Their hungry mouths.

All we could do was run, all we could do was hide. One by one we fell, consumed, one by one into bitter death.

I’m hiding still, in the alleyways and byways of the grittier side of city life. Hoping they won’t come. Hoping they won’t find me. Fearful, ever alert, for the slightest flicker of flame, the smallest whiff of smoke.

I know it’s only a matter of time. The world is theirs now, and we are but the fuel for their flame.

But still, I hide.

(c ) Helen M Valentina 2019

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Play With Me

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Image Credit: Kiselev Andrey Valerevich/Shutterstock.com

Come play with me the young girls say
The night is young, come play, come play!
We’ll travel oh so far away
Till night everlasting vanquishes day

Come dance with us upon the lawn
Don’t be so timid, so lost, forlorn
Leave your world, its fear, its scorn
You’ll never fear another morn

Come fly with us into the sky
We cannot tell you how or why
We are the things the world denies
But we can beat them, you and I

Come play with me the young girls say
The night is young, come play, come play!
We’ll travel oh so far away
Till night everlasting vanquishes day

(c) Helen M Valentina 2019

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