Mannequin

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At the shop we wait to be fitted.

Since the singularity we all look the same at first. All bland, featureless, still, like those old mannequins you see in storybooks of the past.

This has its advantages. Also like those figures we are perfectly proportioned, every one of us, and the lack of necessity of food in this new world means none of us ever gain weight or lose that perfect form.

Of course one might say that perfection ceases to be a meaningful concept when everyone has attained it, but they are the negative ones. They look back to the past with a kind of aberrant nostalgia. When they go to their fitting they try to approximate that past. Some put on bulkier clothes to look less perfect. Some ask for deformities to be built in to their ‘wardrobe’. There is a group that does statistics on this, to determine how best to re-imagine the past, where issues like competition, discrimination, pain and conflict abounded.

I do not understand why they want that. A little loss of individuality is such a small price to pay for the freedom of similarity we now enjoy.

And when we go for our fitting we can ask for a bit of colour, a bit of artistry, to make us stand out, just a little, little bit.

But not too much, unless you are one of them, those that won’t assimilate. Those silly people with their silly history.

After the fitting we can be a little bit us as individuals and a lot of us as a whole. That’s much, much better, and thinking differently is a stupid disease of the mind.

All the sensible people know that.

(c ) Helen M Valentina

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The End

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The end, they say, came with fire and fury.

Above us the sky became a golden war field, beautiful and dread. Power beyond understanding, likened only to the gods, but formed from science and with the wicked determination of mankind. A beautiful, dreadful finality, like fireworks in hell.

For those that watched, it burned their retinas like an eclipse might do. The last sight ever seen, and so wondrous, that perhaps that was enough to assuage the loss.

For here, in the ‘other place’ we are what we were in those last moments, frozen like a butterfly held under glass, pinned down to an eternity perhaps of nothing more than beingness in the void.

There is no passageway to a heaven though the terrible evil of the end. There is no descent to hell when the sins of all rival all here. We are all complicity, all failed, all lost. Waiting in a limbo of what we were the moment of the end.

Blind, those that watched reach to each other, but each is always a bare moment away.  Even those that held to others the last moment are now separate, alone.

I did not watch the fireworks, so I can see them, but that is little consolation, a bittersweet ability that provides no comfort and no utility here. It might be better to be blind.

They speak of the end, of the fire and fury. Some still express surprise that it even happened. We waited on the brink for so long and nothing ever, ever happened, so how could anything ever, ever happen?

But all it was, this end, was just a different choice. Nothing more and nothing less.

And now we wait in eternity to ponder that simple fact. And we wait together but we wait alone.

(c) Helen M Valentina 2018

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Baphomet

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Image credit: Yupa Watchanakit/Shutterstock.com

His father told him of the Templar god.

“Many men died for this idol,” he said. “Dignified, heroic, in torture and pain.”

“And why would men die for an idol?” he asked, his eyes wide as he gazed at the animal skull, tracing its form in the photo in the book in his lap.

“Men always die for some idol or other,” his father said. “It is in the way of the soul and of belief. And the idols that some men die for are demonised by others, who then die for their idols in their turn. Everyone seeks.”

“Seeks what father?”

“Truth, power, meaning. And for some reason they feel this comes best through the blood of others, and when that fails, through their own blood. Their sacrifice to an idea, and concept, or something more. Who can say?”

“How did they die father?”

“Some in torture chambers, some on the stake, burning. Terrible, terrible.”

“Do we believe in anything worth that father?” the young boy asked. He couldn’t think of anything. He loved his toys, his mobile phone, his television. Would he die for any of those? None looked as old, as mysterious, as this photo.

“We believe what we are told to believe,” his father said. “Through our new ministries. The media, politics, all of that. Soulless some may say, and yet they still stir the soul. And if you watch closely in your tv shows, your movies, you will see the Templar god, over and over. He endures, a symbol beyond time. Perhaps the Templars did not die in vain in the end. Perhaps they knew something we do not.”

“So should we believe in the Templar god father?”

His father took the book from him and shut it. He pondered the question for a long time.

“Perhaps,” he said finally. “Perhaps we already do.”

(c ) Helen M Valentina 2018

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Blood Bride

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Pale Beauty
The Blood Bride
Solemn vows
All the fear
Held deep inside

Waiting patient
Wedding bells
Softly ring
Taking her
Down to hell

Sacrifice
Every year
One will fall
At your feet
Trembling here

Pale beauty
The Blood Bride
Yours to take
Yours to break
Deep, deep inside

(c. ) Helen M Valentina 2018

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The Bridge

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No-one crossed the bridge. No-one.

This was well-known. You did not leave our town. Its small, perfect streets and gardens prescribed your life. And you were happy with that, content. Any wish to see more, to understand more, was schooled out of you early. For there was nothing behind the town but an impassable wall, and the only way out was the bridge.

And no-one crossed the bridge.

I was told that once, long ago, someone did try. They got about half way across and then they met her. The guardian of the bridge. She arose with glory, with smoke and fire and rage. They did not have the token or the magic word or whatever it would take to cross the bridge.

And so they did not cross, and nor did they return. And while no-one dared to follow close enough to see what had happened, the absence of them forevermore spoke eloquently and simply of the gravity of the admonition: do not cross the bridge.

I was a curious child. My mother said it would be the end of me. She would chuckle and ruffle my hair when I asked why, why why?

One day I asked how anyone knew there was a woman on the bridge if no-one saw the person trying to leave. She had not answer for me and simply said some things should not be asked, and others should not be done, and there’s an end to it.

But for me it wasn’t an end, it was a beginning. I burned to see if it was true or just some cautionary tale told to us to keep us chained to this little town. And most of all I burned to see her.

So one day, I got up very, very early and snuck out of our house and headed, resolute, to the bridge. I did not care about whether I could cross, I only wanted to see her.

But to do that I would have to try. So step, by step, I began the journey across the bridge.

I got about half way across when I saw the smoke. I was three-quarters across when a dark figure emerged from the haze. A woman. A beautiful woman, with ageless eyes and a smile both wide and frightening.

“Hello little one,” she said.

“Hello” I replied.

“Do you seek to cross?” she asked.

“I do, but only to see you.”

“And now that you have seen me will you still cross, or will you return?”

“I don’t mind,” I replied, then turned to return. “I guess I will go home.”

The woman laughed.

“Well chosen” she said, and I heard the air shuffle around me, like dry leaves in the autumn air.

When I turned back to look again the smoke cleared for just a second and a strange light glowed, showing me something at the end of the path. A skeleton of a man, limbs and ribcage cleaning in an unnatural sun. Then the image was gone.

So it was true, what they said. Even if they hadn’t really understood what they were saying. The bridge was death, and you couldn’t pass till you were ready for that. But he chose to cross, I thought, whereas I chose to stay.

“Good choice,” I congratulated myself quietly, for I was far too young to die yet. Then I headed for home.

(c. ) Helen M Valentina 2018

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Bite

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They bite
It is said it feels like heaven
Pure delight
When they bite

They feed
And they never have enough
Pure greed
When they feed

You’ll yearn
To feel their touch again
And learn
How to burn

They bite
Fell so far from heaven
Out of sight
So they bite

(c ) Helen M Valentina 2018

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They Only Come Out At Night

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Hush, let me tell you a story. Are you snuggled up in bed, with the covers up to your necks, so you are safe, safe from all the hidden terrors of the night? Good, good, for you need to be safe to hear my story. Because you know, they only come out at night.

There once was a man who was so full of himself he thought the world entire resided within his own shell. If anyone claimed to be good at something he would loudly declare himself to be better. If someone dared to speak of an ambition he would best it. If someone said they wanted to be boss, he would declare himself king.

For some reason, people let him do that. When he was a child his parents grew tired of trying to argue with him and were worn down into agreeing. He went through life pretty much the same way. No-one could withstand the onslaught for long. He was so sure, so sure of himself, so sure he was everything and a cherry on top as well!

And perhaps he was right, eventually. Not at first. At first he was just an arrogant little boy. But over time, they say, belief causes things to change. You can bend the world to your will, if it is strong enough. Writers write the future, as prophecy, without even knowing they are doing it. Painters paint worlds that come to be. Quantum physicists will tell you the experimenter always changes the experiment.

So perhaps, over time, he did start to have everything within him, everything and a cherry on top as well.

But what he didn’t count on, because creators rarely think through their creations, is what that might mean. And that, eventually, if everything was inside of him, a whole world, well, eventually that world would want to come out.

That’s where they come from, you see, all the horrors of the night? All the not quite right things that haunt our dreams? From the man who was everything, and everything had to come out. Right out of his own lips, where such boasting lured them out, out. Bursting forth, bursting him into nothing, because nothing can be everything, no matter what he thought. Out into this world from some other that he either imagined in his pride, or he tapped into in his delusion. Either way, they came.

And as you know, they only come out at night.

(c ) Helen M Valentina 2018

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Waiting

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I used to see her at night, when I was a child. My bedroom window looked out onto our quiet, suburban street. And I suffered from insomnia often, even as a child. I think I had too much energy, and I felt something was always just about to happen, which I just couldn’t miss, but of course nothing ever did. So sleep was a mystery to me.

Just like her.

She wasn’t there every night, just sometimes. I would keep a diary of this strange girl and my sightings of her, standing so still, so silent, for hours, just under the street light. I decided she came on the cycles of the moon, and it birthed an early fascination with astronomy in me. I didn’t follow that up in life though – early fascinations often die. They aren’t meant to last.

Eventually I couldn’t bear the mystery anymore. years had passed and nothing else interesting ever really happened in our quiet town. We never moved. My parents had the same jobs, the same little dreams, day after day. And school was just the same too. I got on with most of the other kids, did well enough in my classes, and so things just were. I was, as they say, a well-adjusted young girl.

But she – she was a mystery. So one night, when I was in my early teens, I went out to confront her. It was time, I considered, that she and I finally met. This strange girl of my insomnia, riding in on the street light and the cycles of the moon.

“Who are you” I asked the silent girl, hoping she would see me, for even standing so close she did not register my presence.

When she answered, it wasn’t really to me. I understood that. For I saw, closer up, that she was only partly there.  She seemed to flicker a bit, like a movie reel projected on the screen of the night, illuminated only by the street light.

“I am electricity. I am the fascination of the moment. I am the one that never sleeps.”

“Why are you here, just standing in the dark?”

“I am standing in the light, ” she said. “I travel on light, and thought, and communication. I travel on information, as we all do.”

“Who are you?” I asked again, and finally she looked at me. Or I think she did. The shadows of the night covered her face, but she turned it to me, and I felt her eyes on me in some indefinable but inarguable way.

“I am you” she said. “On the precipice of your life. Waiting. Just waiting for something to happen”.

And then, suddenly, she was gone, and I looked up to the street light, and saw myself in my mind’s eye, for the first time. Just a girl, standing under a light in our quiet suburban streets, in tune with the cycles of the moon. Just waiting. Always waiting.

And I understood that, and her, somehow. But what I never understood, what I still don’t understand, is what drew me here, to see her, to see myself, like moth to a flame, and what the precipice is, and what it all means.

I guess I’m still waiting.

(c ) Helen M Valentina 2018

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Mommy

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Mommy went away.

Little doll left all alone, in a household vacated by a family too much in a hurry to see what is left behind.

Mommy is gone.

Animated plastic thing, with something more within, reaching the window to look out, see them depart. Little breaking plastic heart.

Mommy come back!

A little girl looks up to the window as the car drives away. One child looking from a backseat car window up to her old bedroom window, seeing something she can’t quite make out. Little doll seeing herself being seen, but not seen, all at once.

Mommy see me!

This family never knew what it had in the doll. They never understood. Even the little girl hardly cared for the ancient history of the doll, its passage through their family generations. They were part of the modern world, where everything is fast and throw away.  Even little dolls. You can always buy another.

Mommy doesn’t love me!

Perhaps they should have taken more care. Perhaps they should have paid more attention to the past and its legends. Perhaps they should have understood the solemn way the maternal grandparents talked about the doll and how special it was, how it had a life of its own, and that it could bring great life to its owners.

Mommy has betrayed me!

Things that can bring great life can also bring the opposite. To every power, every love, is a shadow. One that can reach over miles, over distances too great to even imagine, reaching out to find its prey, its destination. The little doll had a mighty shadow, and it was growing, growing, in its anger and rejection, reaching out.

Mommy will pay!

From the window it couldn’t really have seen its handiwork, but I suspect it did on some other level. Little doll, up at the window, casting its shadow. The family weren’t important in society. The car crash didn’t even make the news. And they didn’t make it to their new home. If the doll wasn’t going to get there, neither were they.

(c ) Helen M Valentina 2018

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Apres Le Deluge

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How history lies! How many times did they say “the war to end all wars”, only to have another war arise later, and worse, worse still?

But wars are funny things. They can leave some places largely inviolate, as though a special god watches over these sacred sites and no conflict can arise there. That’s what the nuns always believed of their home. Generation after generation told their stories of wars, but somehow they never breached the walls of the convent.

“God protests his brides’ the mother superiors would say, “and the blessed little children we protect.”

Still, every covenant runs its time and is no more. Perhaps this last war was the real war to end all, for it surely ended more than any of us would have imagined. I still hear the mutters of those conspiracy theorists still left alive that this was planned, the destruction of ninety per cent of the world’s population so the rich could take the spoils.

Well, that’s about right on the amount of death, though I think the rich fell too, from all I’ve heard. Hardly surprising, the Devil will have his due, and if anyone ever thinks the bargain falls in their favour they are kidding themselves. The Devil is the ultimate casino, and the house always wins.

And after the deluge, even the nuns have suffered. There is a story about the nunnery, about the death and destructions there, and one particular nun trying desperately to save a single baby from the hordes. She failed, of course. There aren’t many happy endings in wars.

But they say she lingers on, in the nunnery, even after the end.  Apres le deluge, she remains. I think I saw her once, on my travels, passing the once hallowed place. A flickering ghost woman holding a child, though as I drew closer the image was far more frightening than comforting.

Still I thought I heard her cooing to the baby, just before I ran away.

“God protects his brides, little one, hush now, and all the children we protect”.

Well, perhaps, even still. Even still.

(c ) Helen M Valentina 2018

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