Tag Archives: horror fiction

Stephen King Regrets Writing Himself into This Story

This Friday, officers Libby and Davis investigated a disturbance at Gerald Winters & Son Book Store in Bangor Maine. They found a disheveled man hurling rocks at the door, screaming “Let me in! Please let me in.”

When confronted the man screamed. “You don’t understand. They have the unpublished manuscript that I need to get home!”

It wasn’t until the officers put the man into the back of their vehicle that they realized he was Stephen King.

Officer Libby recounted the incident. “The plan was to drive King home and break the news to Tabby that he’d fallen off the wagon. On the way we tried to assess his sobriety and gage his frame of mind.”

Officer Libby kept her body camera recording the entire time.

“Hey Steve, isn’t that the restaurant where they found the eyeball in the fortune cookie?”

King grunted in the affirmative.

“Want us to turn on the radio? Which station do you own WKIT-FM or WZON?”

“Both of them.” King muttered out the window. Then he pressed his palm to the glass. “UPS is still delivering? That means we’re still in chapter 1. Shit doesn’t hit the fan until the murder hornets show up.”

Officer Libby chuckled. “Murder hornets?”

“Harbingers of the Crimson King. The third of seven.”

Officer Davis chimed in. “I thought seven was a good number.”

King grew irritable. “Who told you that? Odd numbers are always bad, especially prime ones, and especially seven.”

Officer Libby tried changing the subject. “So these harbingers are all insects?”

“No. The first takes the form of an pandemic. The second appears as armed protests. The third is hornets. The fourth is shootings over masks. The fifth is giant rats. The sixth is children murdering their parents.”

“Yikes.” Officer Davis squeezed the wheel. “What’s number seven?”

“When a crystal ball, known as Black 13, is unearthed from One World Trade Center.”

“Then what happens?” The officers asked in unison.

“The beams supporting the dark tower will break and the Crimson King will be set free. He’ll use the deadlights to find the Key World and begin unlocking things. Phantom doors will appear on every street corner and the Warriors of the Scarlet Eye will spill forth from the Outer Dark.”

“Sounds like a hell of a story.”

“That’s all it was supposed to be. I wrote it in a cocaine fueled stupor around the same time as The Tommy Knockers. I shelved it and the world moved on. That was until I found a door on my front lawn.”

“When was that?” Officer Libby couldn’t help but ask.

“Last night.”

Officer Davis later admitted to taking the long way to King’s estate. He wanted to buy the author time to finish his story. In hindsight, Officer Davis admits this was a mistake.

“There was a creaking out front, like the gate was hanging open. I peeked through the drapes and saw something on the path. At first I thought it was a person, a tall man with square shoulders, hunched over in a long black coat.”

Officer Libby spoke over her seat. “I figured you’d have a top of line security. Especially after reading Misery.”

King shrugged. “The system wasn’t making a sound. I thought it was a trick of the light. Something phantasmagorical, like in the stories of Edgar Allen Poe.”

“Do you…see things often?” Officer Libby asked hesitantly.

“The opposite, actually. I’m losing my vision. I have a condition that blurs the center of my sightline. I have to look out the corner of my eyes. That’s why I went outside.”

Officer Davis spoke through the mirror. “When did you realize it wasn’t a person?”

“When I had my hand on the doorframe. It was sturdy, like someone had driven it into the cobblestones. It was a deep rosewood. The color of blood. I looked to where I thought I’d seen a face and my heart skipped a beat.”

“What did it say 1408?”

“No, it was a knocker in the shape of the Great God Pan. It had rams horns, curly locks, and a nasty scowl. Its teeth were jagged, its brow furled, and its nostrils flared. A knocker hung from its septum.”

“Did you knock?”

“I didn’t have to. The door yawned open. I tried to push it shut. I reached for the knob and got a handful of wind for my efforts. My depth perception is horse shit, but something else was throwing it off.

The door moved closer as the path grew distant. I strained to catch my breath. The air felt thin. Reality felt thinner. Then came a light beneath door. It swung open and that light was blinding.

When I opened my eyes it was broad daylight and I was standing in the center of the road. There was a cyclist in a surgical mask. He shot me a dirty look as he passed. That’s when I realized I was in my own Macroverse.”

Officer Libby interrupted. “Stephen, do you mind if I ask how old you are?”

King balled his fists. “I’m not having a senior moment if that’s what you’re thinking.”

Officer Davis let out a long patient sigh. “Yeah, but why would we know you’re a writer if this was happening in one of your stories?”

Dejected, King craned his neck all the way back into the headrest. “My stories exist within my stories. I hold the Guinness world record for most film adaptations. It’d be hard for readers to believe a story where people haven’t heard of me. Christ, I’m appear in three of The Dark Tower entries.”

Officer Davis gave that a considered nod. “But if you write all this meta fiction, isn’t it possible this is all in your imagination?”

King waved that notion away. “Who’s the president right now?”

The officers exchanged a knowing look. “Donald Trump.”

“It’s Clinton where I come from. Donald Trump was my invention. He’s a modern spin on Greg Stillson, the politician, from The Dead Zone. Stillson was a charlatan folk hero. With Trump I wanted to see what would happen if a reality star became president.”

“And this pandemic is also your doing?” Officer Libby humored him.

“I came up with The Stand after I read about a chemical spill in Utah. I came up with The Coronavirus after I read we’re no closer to a cure for the common cold.”

Officer Davis smirked. “What inspired Dream Catcher?”

“OxyContin.”

Officer Libby put her palm to her forehead to hide her grin. “So where are we in this coronavirus story?”

“Has Trump gone on TV to prescribe a malaria drug to the general public?”

“Uh-huh.” The officers said in unison.

“Has he told everybody to drink bleach?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Has he postponed the elections until 2021?”

“Uh-what?”

King nodded self-assuredly. “Then there’s still time.”

At this point Officer Davis felt certain King was putting them on. He couldn’t help but chide the author over his body of work. “Hopefully this one has a more satisfying ending than Under the Dome.”

“Or Secret Window.” Officer Libby added.

“Or The Mist.”

“Or Cell.”

“Or It: Chapter 2. They killed the clown by calling it names?” Officer Davis scoffed. “That was so lame.”

King raised his eyebrow. “That’s not how the book ends.”

Officer Libby rolled her eyes at her partner. “How does this one go again?”

“Or better yet,” Officer Davis let go of the wheel to look back. “How were you planning to get home?”

“Through a breach in reality.” King looked out the window. “I just don’t know where it is.”

Officer Davis seized on that apparent plot hole. “You ought to know you wrote it.”

King gave that a maniacal laugh. At this point the officers reported feeling uncertain that King was putting them on.

“Have you seen my bibliography? Do you think I know those stories by heart? There’s one copy of the manuscript and you are driving away from it.”

Officer Davis turned the patrol car in the direction of the Gerald Winters & Son Book Store. Later he’d admit to doing this to call the author’s bluff.

“Hmmm.” Officer Davis pondered.

“What?” King crossed his arms.

Officer Davis let the wheel go again. “How could a manuscript exist within the story itself?”

Officer Libby turned back as well. “You’d have to have written it in, but then you’d have to write one into that one and another into that one and on and on and on.”

“Like Russian dolls.” Officer Davis nodded.

King’s eyes widened.

“What is it? Did you forget to write the manuscript into the manuscript?”

King pointed ahead. “Door!”

Officer Davis jerked the wheel. The squad card hit an obstruction and flipped end over end. Footage captured by the on-board camera system show the road was clear. Clear right up until the moment a rose red door materialized out of nowhere. A close examination of a freeze frame reveals a knocker that’s dead ringer for the Greek god Pan.

Officer Davis and Officer Libby came out of the crash, with a few broken bones, more or less unharmed. Both were cleared of any wrongdoing and are aiding with the investigation.

As for Stephen King? He hasn’t been seen or heard from since.

•••

Continue reading Stephen King Regrets Writing Himself into This Story

Meet the Necromancer Responsible for the Negative Energy on Social Media

Meet Dragrim Obsidian, the necromancer responsible for the negative energy that’s bringing you down. “If you feel like you’ve been abandoned by those in power, like you’re at odds with all of your peers, and there’s no hope for the future, that’s probably my doing.”

Obsidian agreed to an interview provided we met on the observation deck of One World Trade Center.

When I arrive I’m told the deck is closed due to COVID-19. I mention Obsidian and the security staff start whispering. One guard puts on a pair of latex gloves. He comes out from behind the desk, raises a keycard to the elevator, and waves me in. We stand in silence for 94 floors.

When the elevator dings open the guard turns. “You’ll want to hide your emotions around him. Push them deep down.”

Obsidian has been sowing discord ever since the middle ages, but you wouldn’t know to look at him here. He’s traded his crimson robes and bone jewels for a high collared jacket with a floor grazing frock. He turns from the observatory window, looking less like a dungeon dweller and more like a character from The Matrix.

I click the button on my micro recorder. “Why here?”

Obsidian gives a measured smile. “I like to admire my handywork.” He brushes the windows signaling to the empty street below. “I’m the one who politicized this pandemic. I built partisan bickering to a fever pitch. I’m the reason you won’t talk to your parents.”

I’m taken aback by how quickly Obsidian is willing to go there. I bite my lip and Obsidian smirks when he catches it.

“I’m not the monster you think I am. When I spread negative energy it’s never out of malice. It’s out of love. Everything I’ve ever done was out of love.”

When did this start?

The sixth century. I was an apprentice under Dughall, the undying, the most feared necromancer in all of Britannia. He taught me how to prompt metabolic healing, so I might live as long as him. If only I’d passed that knowledge on to Celestria. Then none of this would’ve happened.

Who was Celestria?

Celestria was my bride to be. She was a selfless woman who practiced folk medicine.

One day a Bishop came through our village. He had a caravan of soldiers behind him. He saw Celestria picking herbs and naturally he was drawn to her. He whispered something in her ear, something no witness could repeat. I have a hunch he didn’t take his vow of celibacy that seriously.

Dejected, the bishop engaged Celestria in a medical debate. He believed illness was caused by a person’s distance from their lord, and that faith, not medicine, was the only way to ease their suffering.

Celestria believed in humoralism. She argued that illness came from a person’s relationship with the elements. She reasoned that plenty of good people got sick despite their faith.

The bishop had Celestria executed for heresy and moved on.

How did you cope?

I didn’t. I resolved to bring Celestria back. A feat necromancers were known for despite the fact that none of us have actually done it.

Not even Dughall, the undying?

No, and Dughall wanted no part of it. He had dabbled in black magic, but he believed a resurrection spell would require so much negative energy it would cover the earth in darkness.

Crestfallen, I cast stones, read entrails, and consulted the tarot. All my divinations said the same thing. I would have to cast a shadow over every mortal mind to raise but one from the ground. So I buried my bride and set out to spread the darkness.

How have your efforts shaped human events?

I convinced Pope Urban to get the crusades going. Years later I pitted Pope Clement against the knights Templar. I helped brainstorm the book that set the witch-hunts in motion and spread the inquisition across the continent. I urged theologians to suppress the Copernican doctrine and sighted the biblical references that got Galileo imprisoned.

Did you ever feel guilty?

At first. I forced myself to attend the witch burnings, to see what I’d done. After a while I couldn’t hear the screams, couldn’t see the faces through the fire. They weren’t people any more. They were a means to an end. Ingredients in a potion. And my beaker always wanted more.

How much negative energy did you need?

I almost had enough, and then I was blindsided by the black death. Here was all this suffering, but it was outside of my doing. You see a siphoning spell only works on energies you raise. I could wander mass graves and not get a thing because I hadn’t had a hand in what was happening.

I tried to turn the plague to my advantage by spreading misinformation. I promoted the notion that infections followed an astrological pattern. My beaker started filling again. Then someone thought to examine the rats on the ground and I was back to square one.

When did you start using technology to spread negative energy?

Technology has always spread negative energy, especially when it comes to the written word. The first cuneiform tablets were baked in the ruins of conquest. The first hieroglyphs were threats. Every woodblock ever carved was battered in blood. The pen isn’t mightier than the sword. The pen sets swords in motion.

Had I known the Koreans would invent moveable type I’d have gone over there. Instead it was the Gutenberg press that brought me out of hiding. I became an author and my first publications were denounced as literary poison. I mass produced works that challenged the church. I’m the one who set the bonfire of the vanities ablaze.

Not too long after I started contributing to newspapers. I misattributed ‘Let them eat cake’ to Marie Antoinette. I wrote that Catherine the great died having sex with a horse. In fact, I’m the reason you still think Napoleon was short.

How has the Internet helped?

The Internet is the most wonderful conductor of negative energy I could ever ask for. It lets me crowdsource my efforts. People used to get outraged over excessive taxation or potato famines, but now they go to war over female game developers and race-swapped Disney characters.

I take it you’re active on social media?

That’s the understatement of the century. I am responsible for everything from the alt right to slacktivism. From pick-up artists to Incels. From QAnon to cancel culture. Name an ideology, I’ll tell you it’s etymology. And the funny thing is, I don’t believe a word of it. I’ve never been interested in politics. I only want Celestria back. I don’t care who I have to trigger. I will to start a flame war for her.

But what about the people you hurt?

I’ve come too far and ruined too many lives. I’m willing to sextort, dox, and swat total saints to get what I want.

Look at what I’ve done. I took something as honorable as social justice and turned it into an antonym for political intolerance. I fine-tuned every racist dog whistle you’ve ever heard. I founded pro-anorexia communities just because I needed the negative energy.

Could you be claiming too much responsibility?

If you’ve ever felt exhausted checking your Facebook feed odds are it was me.

What about the movements that have developed organically, like the toxic fandom?

Do you have any idea how much gossip I’ve spread? I’ve spilled enough tea to fill the English Channel.

I’m the one who decides when a celebrity is over. I keep all of their portraits on a tile mosaic. I wave a dowsing pendulum as I lord over them. Once the weight chooses a victim, I kneel upon hot coals, press my palms into a bed of nails, and type something along the lines of: #TomHollandIsOverParty.

Now Tom Holland did nothing wrong. He said nothing racist and slapped no one’s ass, but I have to ruin someone if I’m to see my beloved again.

So alternative facts are you doing?

Sweat heart, I’m the king of misinformation. I ghostwrote the research paper that gave birth to the anti-vaxxers. I founded the modern flat earth movement. Heard any good 5G conspiracy theories? Yeah, those were all me.

I convinced people Nelson Mandela died in the 1980s when he really died in 2013. I’m the reason people think the Monopoly Man has a monocle. I’m the reason you think Freddy Mercury sang, “of the world…” at the end of “We are the Champions.”

Wait, he didn’t?

Look it up. I’ll wait.

Fuck.

(Obsidian takes a theatrical bow.)

But you can’t be the only one spreading false information. There too many other vested interests.

There are, but oil lobbyists are not that creative. They needed an interloper to whisper in their ears.

So you’re responsible for climate change denial?

That was nothing. Getting creationists to think dinosaurs walked with man took some convincing. Oh and getting celebrities to think they should run for government.

Was “Make America Great Again” your doing?

It was when I pitched it to Reagan.

I’ve been on more campaigns than there are nations. And I’ve fostered divisions across every continent. But I’ve never had more success than in American politics.

Your two party system is a work of Luciferian genius. It’s a dyad of dark energy. An alternating current flowing back and forth. Your red and blue tribes always collide. And for what? Intellectual bubbles filled with impossible ideals?

It’s beautiful. Like a black pearl. Elegant and simple.

But systems of oppression were around long before you were born. You were in France when the slave trade was happening. America came up with institutionalized racism all on its own. You say you’ve fostered divisions, but the rise of white nationalist would’ve happened with or without you.

Have you heard of Godwin’s Law?

Yes. The longer a discussion goes the greater the likelihood that someone will be compared to Hitler.

Godwin didn’t come up with that. He just identified the curse I’d slipped into the ether. It’s really Obsidian’s Law and it’s been a wellspring of negative energy for me, especially now the comparisons are no longer exaggerations.

You mentioned a beaker filling slowly with negative energy. It must be close to the brim?

I wish it were, but it isn’t. Celestia was exceptional. She had a spark that drew people to her. The lost souls in Limbo don’t want to let her go. They’re demanding over a quadrillion watts of negative energy. Enough to power their cities.

For that to happen everyone would have to let their intrusive thoughts in. A state of total despair would be declared. Depression would have to win.

Despite this pandemic, and the polarization surrounding it, there are still people who are optimistic. Despite all my best efforts, there’s still hope.

When do you think you’ll be reunited with Celestia?

When everyone feels like it’s their duty to change everyone else’s mind. When every laymen speaks with absolute authority. When obscenity out ways a reasoned argument. When feelings count as facts. When nuance is scrubbed from the debate and every person looks upon the other with hate.

So not too long then?

(Obsidian presses his palm to the observatory window and once again regards the empty streets below. He lets out a long exhausted sigh.)

We’ll see. We’ll see.

•••

Continue reading Meet the Necromancer Responsible for the Negative Energy on Social Media

How the President is Failing to Deal with the Vampire Epidemic

Europe has been in the grip of fear ever since a strange mist blanketed the globe last January. Romanian authorities found discotheques drenched in blood, freezers stockpiled with corpses, and victims impaled on flagpoles. Investigators found fang-like puncture wounds and bodies completely drained of blood. It didn’t take long for the World Health Organization to declare a vampire epidemic.

President Trump downplayed reports of cathedrals covered in crimson glyphs and blood spattered effigies, dubbing them “The latest in a long line of liberal hoaxes.”

A month later reports of bodies mounted on church spires came from all across America.

President Trump’s tone shifted. “Our first priority is to protect our nation’s menstruating women. These things like blood. I’ve had three wives and two daughters, and let me tell you, that’s a lot of blood.”

The president then told a frightened nation to stockpile onions. “Stuff them into your mail box. Lay a bloom on your doormat. Shove them in your gutters.”

Later a spokesperson for the Whitehouse clarified the president’s comments. “Vampires are allergic to garlic, a species of the onion genus, which is what the president was referring to when he said ‘onions.’”

A day later President Trump told the public to invest in silver spray paint. “Spray it on your railings. Your doorknobs. Your neck. I mean lock the doors and windows and just empty a couple of cans.”

That same Whitehouse spokesperson clarified. “Vampires are not allergic to the color silver, but rather the precious metal. It burns their skin on contact. While some paints contain metal flakes they are not concentrated enough to offer any substantive benefit.”

Earlier this April Catholic parishes reported running out of holy water. Experts within the administration urged clergy members to bless the nation’s aquifers. Meanwhile the President suggested Americans dunk copies of Mel Gibson’s 2004 film The Passion of the Christ in their bathtubs. “Fill up a couple of water balloons and go Rambo on these mother suckers.”

As more human totem poles and skin banners are discovered 65% of Americans say personal defense is their main concern. The nation’s timber producers struggle to meet the demand for wooden stakes. The CDC urges rural Americans to whittle branches for home defense. Urban Americans face wood shortages. With their staff furloughed Crate and Barrel reports their dining sets have been stripped by desperate people looking for materials to make stakes.

The president announced a plan to address the stake shortage. He went before the Whitehouse press briefing with golf tees jutting from his knuckles and went into a shadowboxing routine that lasted for a few seconds before he leaned on the podium to catch his breath. When he finished wheezing he lobbed packs of golf tees at the press core and shouted, “Here, use these.”

Climate activists, like Greta Thunberg, insist world leaders must address the mist blanketing the globe before doing anything else. “The only way to stop the vampires is to bring the sun back into the equation.”

The President denies the role of climate change on the overcast. Anonymous Whitehouse aids say he makes finger guns at the cloud cover whenever he passes a window and that he’s asked his generals, “Why can’t we just nuke it?”
“Because the fallout would make the earth uninhabitable.”
“What about solar panels? Why don’t we just blast it from the underneath?”
“Solar panels absorb sunlight. They don’t project it.”
“What about hurricanes? You know how the sun always shines through the eye of a hurricane? Why can’t we do something with that?”
“If we could control the weather we’d start with the mist.”
“Then what’s your suggestion poindexter?!”

South Korea contained the spread of vampirism by urging citizens to disinvite infected family members from their homes, mandatory blood testing, and Ultraviolet light checkpoints.

Last Friday President Trump suggested Americans go out carrying life-sized crucifixes. “I know the fake media will spin this to say that crosses are too heavy, but how badly do you want your groceries?”

Churches report that the crosses they’ve depended on to protect their congregations have been stolen. Cemeteries report record grave desecrations and strip malls are reporting the theft of lowercase Ts from signs.

Rather than address the surge in vandalism the President congratulated himself on Twitter for beating the Pope in TV ratings. “Does the pope shit in the woods? Well he’s shit in the ratings! Sad.”

As for a long term solution Whitehouse aids report President Trump is still spit balling strategies with his generals.

“Can’t we get some werewolf commandos to take these mouth-bleeders out?”
“Then who would take out the werewolves?”
Trump snapped his fingers. “An airborne squadron of witches.”
“And what about the witches?”
“How about some vampire bats?”
“And…we’re right back where we started.”

Last night a high ranking general’s remains were found near the Whitehouse. Witnesses said his intestines were threaded through the gate like tinsel and that his organs were hung like mistletoe.

At 3AM the President Tweeted, “It’s over! Liberate your homes! Throw those doors open and invite the world back in! #CleanYourNecksFirst.”

The President and most of his staff have not been heard from since. Although there were reports of a colony of bats seen defecating on the Lincoln memorial not long after the President’s Tweet.

•••

Continue reading How the President is Failing to Deal with the Vampire Epidemic

Kadilia Caine’s Dating Profile

Welcome to Strange Love (aka Monster Mingle) a place where urban legends find romance, where full moons lead to fuller hearts, and all the thirsty singles have fangs. This is how it works: illustrator Bryan Politte creates the characters and I (Drew Chial horror author) give them a backstory.

Meet Kadilia Caine. She’s been out of the dating pool for a while, but she’s ready to get her feet wet again. She has the power to glamour crowds into falling in love with her, but she’s never known true love herself. If you’re searching for someone to watch over you at night then look no further than Kadilia. All you have to do to win her affection is invite her in.

ABOUT ME

If you grew up Romani in the 19thcentury then Transylvania was the place to be, especially if you liked hawking pottery on a bed of splinters in the dead of winter. And if you didn’t? Well I don’t know about you, but I hopped a caravan to London and joined a burlesque troop.

Now Victorian burlesque is not the Vegas showcase you’re probably imagining. Our performances were less about splashing around in giant cocktails and more about telling tales. Less fan dancing. More pantomime. Less high kicks. More hijinks.

We performed Shakespeare (with a few subtle alterations). Our female characters were actually played by women (as were most of the men). And sure, our heroes were scantily clad caricatures, and yes, we did cram Shakespeare’s iambic pentameter full of innuendos: O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo? I need a happy dagger in my sheath.

I never got to utter that one. I had a habit of laughing through my lines. Audiences got a rise out of it, but it made playwrights go bat shit. Nevertheless, my time on stage put a smile on my face and potatoes on my plate, until the theater went family friendly and spat me onto the street. Many of my costars fell back on the world’s oldest profession, but I had loftier ambitions.

I took up modeling, posing for those animated carousels viewers spun by hand. Gentlemen would line up to watch me lift my skirt or tip my corset. They called them zoetropes and they called me a zoetrope trollop, sometimes a stroboscope strumpet, or a praxinoscope pretty, if I was lucky.

I was just happy to be in pictures, whether I was a flipbook floosy or stereoscopic stripper I didn’t care. I was an entertainer. I had a good thing going, until a fan caught up with me in Whitechapel and ruined everything.

LIFE CHANGING EVENT

I was walking home when I noticed something strange. The echo of my heels was falling out of sync. It turned out someone was trying to match my footfalls. It wasn’t long before I saw their shadow creeping up the cobblestones.

I hastened my pace, hoping to find a constable or some local ruffians. Instead I found a gaggle of gigglemugs spilling out of a pub. I weaved my way into the women and walked with them until I was certain my pursuer had buggered off. When I came upon a familiar shortcut, I left the gals to their gossip.

My pursuer was waiting for me there in that long back alley. His top hat cast a shadow down his brow, his mustache framed his muzzle in twin spirals, and his teeth were pressed so hard into his lip it looked like he had an underbite. He reached into his cape with a long leather glove.

I remember him offering me grapes and that the last words out of my mouth were, “Thanks, but I already ate.”

Then he ran a blade along my neck like he was bowing a violin and everything went dark.

When I came to a woman was kneeling over me. I took her for a sister of mercy until I saw the gash in her wrist. Maybe it was the lamplight or maybe it was my delirium, but I swore her blood was moving on its own, shifting and twisting against the wind like a living thing.

Smoke billowed from her wound, over her gloves, and through her fingers. Her skin was as pail as porcelain and her ballgown was a deep crimson red. I couldn’t see her face behind the veil, but somehow, I knew she had kind sympathetic eyes.

Eventually her blood spilled over my wound and ran down my collar. I felt a tickling sensation in the back of my throat, like a knot of snakes squirming down my gullet. I choked, writhed, and spat.

The woman shushed me, raised her veil, and revealed a pair of eyes with a catlike glow. “Don’t breathe. Just swallow.”

I did as instruct. It felt like I was drinking oxygen, like my lungs were thirsty, and my anatomy was upside down.

When the woman pulled her wrist back, I caught it and suckled on the gash. She patted my back, a mother nursing her child back to health, and in a way that’s what she was doing.

It was a while before I had the strength to sit upright. When I did, I saw rainbow trails around the moon. The lanterns seemed like bonfires, and the bricks and stones glowed with firelight.

The women ran a finger along my scar. “We’ll have to do something about that.”

She unclasped the choker from her neck and put it around mine. She leaned into my ear and whispered, “Stay out of the sun baby bat. If he gives you silver, send it back. Only eat for show, but keep garlic off your plate. Only drink from those who wish to drink from you, feel for the hastening of their heartbeat, and never quench your thirst completely.”

In my blood drunk stupor, I ran my fingers through her hair. My sire smirked. “Parting is such sweet sorrow.”

Then she fell into her own shadow, leaving me to fend for myself.

A few World Wars later I was finally getting the hang of being a vampire. I traveled the French countryside, touring the vineyards and the bunkers, wetting my lips on the blood of fascists.

In London I abided by my sire’s code. If I felt a donor’s pulse quicken I eased off my fangs and sent them on their way. I never left a gentleman hemorrhaging, but those Nazis, well, I drank them down to the vasopressin. The ones I caught rounding up Romani, I drained them down to the sodium. By the time I got to Stalingrad my code had become: if they had German fatigues on, they were fair game.

By the end of the war I’d developed a reputation. The Axis powers called me die rote Witweor the Red Widow. The Allies called me Glinda the Good Witch. Good or bad a reputation meant I had to keep moving. I crammed all of my worldly possessions into a shipping container and left the mainland.

I traveled on a Norwegian cargo tanker chasing the polar night from one hemisphere to the other. When I got lonely I glamoured the sailors into believing I was a crew member. I read their fortunes between poker games and they told me tales of trolls, fossegrimen, and Krakens.

I sipped from two crew members a night, not thinking to clean my fangs between feedings. At the time I knew nothing of bloodborne pathogens. When the captain got sick. The crew followed. I cut to half rations, then a fourth, then an eighth. The crew survived the trip, but they were all blood brothers when I was done with them.

When the time came to settle on dry land, I chose Seattle. The Emerald City had everything I needed: ports, a near yearlong overcast, and great food. People here eat so much salmon that you can taste it in their hemoglobin. I went from starving at sea to overfeeding on land.

MY HOBBIES AND INTERESTS

Not all vampires learn to glamour. Those who don’t rarely last a year. Either they develop anemia or the hunger drives them into a feeding frenzy and they get struck down by the Hellsings.

I’m one of the lucky ones. I have a gift and I do not squander it. Call it hypnosis. Call it seduction. Call it neuro linguistic programming. I call it fun.

It used to be if I wanted to glamour someone they had to be in the same room. I’d beckon a dapper young suitor to the candelabra and challenge him to a staring contest. He’d get lost in my eyes, in the optical illusion of my irises: the slithering blood vessels, the swirling speckles, the strawberry seed patterns. I’d stare daggers into the keyholes of his soul, lift the pin of his neocortex, then his behavioral center, and finally his audio cortex. Then with a quick twist of the tongue we’d click.

Pioneering vampires tried glamouring on broadcast television, not to lure victims, so much as to sell things. The fact that you don’t drive an Edsel is a testament to the limits of those old tube screens. Still they tried throughout the evolution of the medium, but they couldn’t make it happen. So, I thought I’d try my hand.

I was studying neuroscience just for kicks. I convinced my class to do a study on chromesthesia. Chromesthesia is a phenomenon where certain sounds trigger certain colors in certain listeners. My theory was that I could evoke specific images in my subjects, like hypnotic swirls for instance.

I spent months with each subject, reading guided meditation scripts at a soft even pitch, singing Romani folksongs with fast bright tones, and whispering the contents of classmates’ journals.

I explored my subject’s cognitive pathways for days, but each one reacted differently. Each subject had their own color palettes. There was no universal pitch.

I was about to give up when I noticed the effect the sessions were having on my classmates, each of whom were neurotypical. I found them outside the booth rubbing their foreheads on the acoustic panels like they were cats. This happened whenever I’d spent a session whispering. My classmates described an electrostatic sensation, a tingling that ran up their scalps, along their necks, and down their spines.

At the time I thought I’d invented Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (or ASMR), but it turned out Bob Ross had beaten me to it decades in advance. Of course he had, that soft-spoken shaman.

I decided to broaden the experiment. I chose a medium outside of the FCC’s jurisdiction where a live audience was guaranteed to be watching. I started webcamming.

Being a camgirl reminded me of my days as a zoetrope trollop. I was back in tiny top hats, leotards, and corsets, but I wasn’t showing much skin, I was whispering fantasies into a microphone. In this scenario I was a starving vampiress in desperate need of a donor, and I would do anything, I mean anything, for a few drops. Don’t make me beg.

I lured subjects into private chats, met them under bridges, and brought their fantasies to their logical conclusions.

Satisfied with my findings I decided to harness the power of the net to find the Chateau Rothschild of the vampire palette: the blood of virgins, but where would I get it?

That’s when I discovered Incels. Incels were a community of virgins who came together to vent about being involuntarily celibate. It was like finding a cellar lined with preserves that would never expire.

I used my earnings camming to buy targeted advertisements aimed at Incels. Before long I was as drunk as a tick on top shelf hemoglobin.

So satisfied was I that I left my suitors with a little parting gift. I glamoured them, leaned in close, and whispered. “If anyone asks, you totally got fucked tonight.”

MY INTIMATE DETAILS

I have never been in love. Now I’m no virgin (I’m as far from that as Pluto is the sun), but I’ve never been in romantic love. I’ve drafted sex contracts with a haematophiliacs, embraced archduke elders in citadel spires, and forged blood bonds with strangers, but I’ve never entered into the kind of union described by Jane Austen. I have never felt truly known or accepted by another conscious creature, human or otherwise.

The problem with dating vampires is, well, everything.

We’re polyamorous pansexuals and yet our jealousy is legendary. We’re fickle fashionistas who wear lovers like accessories AND we’re ageist against anyone with less than a century under their belts.

“Oh, you charmed child of Tesla, that stack of tree leavings is what’s known as an encyclopedia.”

First dates with vampires always devolve into the same old ghoulish gibberish. We lie about all the bloodshed we’ve witnessed. We wave macabre merit badges and walk away knowing nothing intimate.

Meanwhile the problem with dating mortals is the hours they keep. We’ll be like ships passing in the night unless my partner is an air traffic controller. When a morning person switches to my routine, they get jetlag on the ground, they contract seasonal depression in the summer time, and they start jonesing for the sun.

Oh, and humans have to eat. Their whole culture is built around it: lunch meetings, dinner dates, brunch. Too bad I don’t own a microwave, utensils, or even a bowl. Worse still my culinary skills start and stop at boiling a potato.

PHYSICAL FEATURES

My modeling career ended in that alley back in Whitechapel. Not only had my reflection disappeared, but my image stopped showing up on filmstock. It turns out film contains silver. Silver burns vampires and yet we don’t burn onto it.

It wasn’t until digital cameras hit the market that I could see my face.

I’d forgotten how bushy my eyebrows were, or how my ears peeked through my hair. Not to mention my bulb nose. Then there were the details I didn’t remember. My caramel skin had gone gray, my curly locks had straightened, and my fangs had changed the shape of my lips.

For the longest time my fashion sense was utilitarian: black halter tops and skinny jeans, like Joan Jett on a lazy Sunday. That changed when my webcam turned my TV into a full-length mirror. I started wearing more flair than just a choker.

Kadilia Caine by Bryan Politte

MY PERFECT MATCH

In addition to never having fallen in love there are two other things I haven’t done. I’ve never had a familiar and I’ve never sired a vampire. I’ll be the first to admit I have issues with the way I was turned: the encounter with Jack the Ripper, the to be abandoned by my master. I chose a life of lukewarm loneliness, because I don’t want to put anyone else through that.

I’ve never had a familiar for the same reason I’ve never had a butler. We Romani are self-sufficient. We’re not used to being waited on. Too many vampires treat their familiars like unpaid interns, dangling the carrot of immortality over their heads.

“I’ll give you eternal life. Provided you pick up my dry cleaning in the meantime.”

Familiars are rarely groomed for the masquerade because they’re rarely turned. They’re glorified gofers, biking with coolers on their backs, hoping their master won’t throw blood bags back at them.

“I asked for type-o negative. This is minestrone.”

“Sorry master I must’ve mixed it up at the deli, which means… Mrs. Clifton got the… uh-oh.”

I don’t need a familiar, a twi-curious role player, or a bondage club fang banger. I need an entrepreneur. A self-made manifestation, like a necromancer, soothsayer, or paranormal podcaster. Someone with an active nightlife. Someone who already conducts their business in the third shift. Someone with the confidence to flirt with death and the kindly manner to open doors for her.

MY IDEAL DATE

My ideal date would be a trek across the Carpathian mountainside, a tour through the seven castles of Transylvania, capped off with a nice scenic sunset, but I’ll take what I can get.

We could shape shift into a pair giant bats and freak out visitors at the Space Needle, go hunting in the subterranean tunnels under Portland, or maybe just have a nice picnic… in the charred skeleton of a deconsecrated church.

It doesn’t matter. I am easy to please so long as you hold my interest, and if you don’t, well, there’s always room for a midnight snack.

Continue reading Kadilia Caine’s Dating Profile

He Has Many Names Poem Trailer

A creepy little poem that tells the story of my novel HE HAS MANY NAMES.

Pick up your copy of HE HAS MANY NAMES today.

Amazon

ClashBooks

Demon Logo by Matthew Revert
Poem, Editing and Music by Drew Chial

Surviving Valentine’s Day

Another Valentine’s Day is upon us, which means it’s time to lower the storm shudders, draw up the staircase, and make sure the panic room is stocked with non-perishables. You know better than to get caught in the foyer when St. Valentine gets here.

Resist the temptation to try to spot him lumbering beneath the street lamps. Don’t go peeking through the keyhole looking for tattered robes. Don’t press your ear to the door to listen for howling on the wind, the clicking of his inverted kneecaps, or bones dragging along the picket fence. He’s out there, raising his own severed head to scan the buildings for life signs, a mangled manifestation just as Emperor Claudius had left him.

Do not attempt to pilot a drone from your roof in an attempt to capture a glimpse of the specter. Do not affix a GoPro to your mailbox or an infrared system to your lawn gnome. Just let the man serve out his punishment in peace, sacrifice your goat, and leave it out on the boulevard like you do every year.

You don’t want to end up like my friend Zeke.

The Cautionary Tale of Ezekiel Lawson

Ezekiel, or Zeke as we called him, was a trophy hunter. The man kept the town’s taxidermist in business until he took to doing it himself. He didn’t have a piece of furniture that hadn’t once been something living. His rumpus room had more fur than wallpaper, with so many antlers they practically an earthquake hazard.

Zeke was day trader, which afforded him the luxury of going on safari. He knew everything about hunting dangerous game. He told stories at the bar, gave us unsolicited lectures on concealment, wind flows, and paw prints. He claimed he took out an entire pack of wolves without reloading his rifle.

“And I did it on a level playing field. No deer stand, no bait, none of that bullshit.”

We never challenged him. After all he had the heads to prove it and he relished in the opportunity to count all six of them out. Still when Zeke said he was going after Valentine’s dire wolves we were all skeptical.

“Valentine is bound by the code of Lupercalia festival to walk those wolves. His punishment for trying to convert one of lord Februus’s followers. Those wolves are trained to sniff out evil spirits, which stands to reason they’re spirits themselves. Are you sure a bullet would do the trick?”

“They leave tracks don’t they?”

“Big as catcher’s mitts.”

“They shit on your lawn don’t they?

“Every damn time.”

“Then beneath them long mangy hides they’re still squishy on the  inside.”

“What about Februus?”

“Please. The underworld is teaming with enchanted beings. You think he’s really going to miss one?”

We conceded that notion into our beers. Every one of us had an encounter with one of Februus’s creature at one time or another.

Still, I wish I’d reminded Zeke where those wolf droppings usually came from.

Zeke raised his mug. “Come on boys. My rumpus room needs a new rug.”

We clinked glasses.

On the morning of February 15thI awoke to my wife’s screams. Melissa had gone out front with the old pooper-scooper, hoping to get a start on those dire wolf droppings, when she spotted a blood trail in the snow. She found poor Zeke’s head in the birdbath, mouth wide open, one eye milky white, the other torn out of the socket with a few out stretched ribbons of muscle trying to cling for it. Half of Zeke’s face was rust colored with dried blood. The other half had been gnawed down to the bone.

That wasn’t what I found most disturbing. Zeke had seen something that night that had turned his raven hair white.

A Word of Caution This Valentine’s Day

You probably already know this, but some of you dumbass thrill seekers need a reminder. February is Februus’s month and Februus is the God of purification. In ancient Etruscan the word februare literally means “a purging.” I know you millennials like to play fast and loose with the old ways, but this is not a date night, not a time for young lovers to go skipping around downtown. Lest you want be ground down to dire wolf droppings.

Lupercalia or “Valentine’s Day,” is a time for Februus to drive dark spirits back to underworld where they belong. It’s not our place to spectate. Our role is to cower in quiet solitude of our fortified vaults, thankful that we’ve been spared for another year.

Now y’all stay safe and have a happy Valentine’s Day.

Continue reading Surviving Valentine’s Day

He Has Many Names Monologue Trailer

The devil’s sales pitch from the book HE HAS MANY NAMES.

Noelle is a Hollywood transplant that’s been subsisting on instant ramen and false hope. A dubious agent offers her a gig ghostwriting for an author in a hotel where he claims to have had an unholy encounter. With whom you ask? Well… HE HAS MANY NAMES

Buy now:
Amazon
Clashbooks

Cinematography by Steve Tiongson
Hell Painting by Bryan Politte
Demon Logo by Matthew Revert
Editing and Music by Drew Chial

He Has Many Names Book Blurb Trailer

A trailer for the book HE HAS MANY NAMES with blurbs from everyone from Keith Lansdale, writer for The X-Files: Cold Cases comic to Daniel Knauf, creator of HBO’s Carnivàle.

Noelle is a Hollywood transplant that’s been subsisting on instant ramen and false hope. A dubious agent offers her a gig ghostwriting for an author in a hotel where he claims to have had an unholy encounter. With whom you ask? Well… HE HAS MANY NAMES

Buy now:
Amazon
Clashbooks

Cinematography by Steve Tiongson
Hell Painting by Bryan Politte
Demon Logo by Matthew Revert
Editing and Music by Drew Chial

Monster Mingle: The Devil’s Dating Profile Video Reading

In my book HE HAS MANY NAMES I imagined Satan as PR agent named Matilda MacDonald. I wrote her a MONSTER MINGLE dating profile and illustrator Bryan Politte painted her portrait.

This video reveals Bryan’s process over a reading of Matilda’s fall from grace and ascension from the pit.

Follow Matilda’s adventures in my book HE HAS MANY NAMES.

Read the prequel short story DRAGON’S BREATH.

Check out the original MONSTER MINGLE profile.

Continue reading Monster Mingle: The Devil’s Dating Profile Video Reading

Monster Mingle: The Devil’s Dating Profile

(Audio: Listen to this article.)

Matilda MacDonald by Bryan Politte

Welcome to Monster Mingle, a place where urban legends find romance, where full moons lead to fuller hearts, and all the thirsty singles have fangs. This is how it usually works: illustrator Bryan Politte comes up with the creatures and I (Drew Chial horror author) give them a backstory. This time Bryan got the character Matilda MacDonald from my book HE HAS MANY NAMES.

Watch out for Matilda. She’s an unreliable narrator. She’ll use scripture to get inside your head. She’ll try to temp you. Don’t let your guard down, because she is not the devil you know.

Matilda MacDonald by Bryan Politte

About Me

I was starry-eyed when I arrived in the silver city, thinking I could make it on my charm and my wit. I floated my résumé all over, inquired about every position, but no one knew where I fit in. I wandered the chrome crosswalks and sterling skyways for days. I was on my way out the pearly gates when a messenger came for me.

“Hail, thou art highly favored.”

He told me I’d landed an interview with the biggest player in town.

The Entrepreneur’s reputation preceded him. He was an industrialist, a philanthropist, and a visionary with the business acumen to keep the silver city running.

The Entrepreneur wasted no time showing me to my office. He needed a spokesperson ASAP. He had seven days to roll out his most ambitious project yet. He gave me a wardrobe for the week, adorned every outfit in precious stones, and dubbed me, “The seal of perfection. A startlet who will shine through morning.”

With the plans for the universe stretched across our arms we became a power couple. We invested in atoms, watched the interest build into molecules, and later elements. We shipped dark matter, hydrogen, and helium throughout the cosmos and laid the foundations for the constellations. We built a real estate empire from time and space itself.

I assumed the Entrepreneur meant it for the residents of the silver city, a reward for their investment, but he had other plans. It turns out there was a pet project he’d been laboring on, with his petri dishes and his eyedroppers. He called it “Life.” While each Angel was handcrafted and meticulously detailed, life was capable of sustaining growth with minimal oversight. It was with thishe meant to populate his planets.

When creating humanity, the Entrepreneur used resources I didn’t know we had: genitals, free will, and death.

I didn’t get it.

Why would an omniscient being give people the power to choose if he already knew the outcome? Either he was leaving them to struggle for his own amusement or he wasn’t that omniscient to begin with.

My pride got the better of me. I told the Entrepreneur the project would lead to chaos and a third of the board agreed. Furious, the Entrepreneur cast the lot of us out.

Matilda MacDonald by Bryan PolitteLife Changing Event

I plummeted into the mouth of a cavernous pit. The walls scrapped the jewels from my outfit. Gemstones flew in all directions. My breastplate burst, my braces buckled, and my gauntlets were ground down to grain. I crashed through sheets of ice and landed upon a bed of stalagmites.

When I came to, I found my skin had taken on a bluish hue, my hair was slick with frost, and my eyebrows were lined with icicles. I thought it was strange that I could see my breath so far from the light, but then I noticed the length of silver around my right index finger. The last piece of my armor was shining in the dark.

I teetered to my feet and the ring glowed brighter. I limped toward the wall and a stinging sensation surged down my arm. The ring was trying to warn me about something in the limestone. I waved it around until I came upon a series of ridges unlike any rock formation I’d known. When I touched the ridges, they told me they were the fossilized remains of something called a trilobite. The creature claimed to have dominated the seas for hundreds of millions of years. I called the trilobite a liar. I told it that I’d helped found the universe only a week ago.

The trilobite said, “If that’s so then where did I come from?”

I ventured further into the dark to see what else was hiding there. The pit was littered with bones: great leviathan skeletons, ribs arching like the roofs, skulls yawning open as if to drink the ocean. They looked upon me with hollow pleading eyes and every time I tapped them with my silver, they told me what they were. These were the titans of industry that came before: The Uranides, the Vanir, and the Great Old ones. Azathoth, dethroned from the seat of chaos. Hastur, shut out of Carcosa where the stars shine black.

Each one had a similar story. The Entrepreneur had been rolling out beta universes, with each new version he took on a partner, and when the rollout was complete the partner ended up here. I was the latest in a long line of suckers.

You’d think that misery would love the company, but I was all the more heart broken.

The Entrepreneur had taken almost everything, but I still had that shard of silver on my finger. I used it to cut bricks from the bones and mortar from their marrow. I built a home from those who came before, and in my den, I listened to their whispers. They taught me the secrets of their runes, cosmic currencies, and investment strategies. I used that knowledge to cross over into the Entrepreneur’s latest venture.

Matilda MacDonald by Bryan Politte

My Hobbies and Interests

I had no part in getting Adam and Eve evicted from the Garden of Eden. That was a snake that got jilted when Adam wouldn’t choose it to be his mate.

Most of my appearances in the Old Testament were mistranslations. This is what happens when you name someone after the Hebrew word for “adversary” and then you need to use the same word to describe others. People get confused.

Although I’ll admit the book of Job was all me.

I’d been wandering the earth trying get a startup going, but my hands were bound by tedious regulations.

A plague spread throughout the land and I snuck back into the Silver City amongst a wave of refugees. With some fancy footwork I made it all the way back to the Entrepreneur’s office. He was scrolling through the feed from his ticker tape machine, fat and rosy on humanity’s adoration and belief. He didn’t seem too surprised to see me.

“Where did you come from?”

It took all of my self-control not to drive my silver ring through my palm. “I’ve been roaming the earth. Going back and forth on it.”

He nodded, unphased I’d scurried my way out of the pit.

“Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”

I had considered Job.

“Does Job love you for nothing? Check out his palatial estate, his bountiful lands, and livestock empire. Not to mention the ten children that will ensure his legacy carries on for generations. You gave him a good return on his investment. Take it back up and he’d curse you where you stand.”

The Entrepreneur stroked his beard. “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man do not lay a finger.”

I gave Sabean raiders a hot tip on where Job kept his oxen. Then I rained commits on his sheep and dropped a roof on his children.

Job, the poor sucker, did exactly what I wanted him to. He fell to his knees and said, “The lord has given and the lord has taken away. May the name of the lord be praised.”

I returned to the Silver City to find the Entrepreneur wiping a tear of joy from his cheek. He was tickled pink.

I reached into the pile of ticker tape that had accumulated on the floor, pretending to care about things I already knew.

“Job still has his health. Take that and the praise train will roll right off its tracks.”

The Entrepreneur smirked, lifted a few more sanctions and I covered Job in lesions.

Job’s neighbors had heard about his misfortune. They paid him a visit to reaffirm his faith, but he had come around to my way of thinking.

How could such bad things happen to a good person? If the Entrepreneur was all-powerful then he couldn’t be all good, especially if he was trying to prove something to someone. That would just make him an all-powerful asshole.

Job cursed the day he was born, gave into despair, and begged the Entrepreneur for death. His neighbors tried to rationalize the Entrepreneur’s mysterious ways, but they were arguing from ignorance, and Job knew it.

“Let the Almighty answer me!”

The Entrepreneur had been following the conversation from his desk and decided to make an entrance. He split the sky open to grant his investors an audience and what did he have to say to them?

“Where were you when I laid the earths foundations? Tell me, who fixed its measurements? Surely you know who stretched a measuring line across it?”

Of course, knew. And it wasn’t a measuring line. It was tape. Had the planet held such little regard to him that he thought it was flat?

The Entrepreneur bullied Job into submission and doubled the man’s losses as compensation, which just proved my point. His investors were only as loyal as their assets.

My Intimate Details

I’ve convinced many Jobs to pull out of the Entrepreneur’s enterprise, but it took finesse to get them to invest in mine. The Entrepreneur’s PR department has turned my brand toxic, blaming me for the Inquisition, the Witch Trails, Christ, even the Catholic Abuse Scandal.

When missionaries came to Greece, they saw idols of the Greek God Pan with his horns, hooves, and hard-on and they felt threatened. They could’ve told stories of a faun who lured children into caves so he could eat them (you know, use their imaginations) instead they merely passed his fashion sense onto me. They swapped my blush with a beard, my long legs with matted wool, and my firm butt with a sad droopy tail. Then they handed me Hade’s pitchfork for good measure. “Here, hold this.”

Despite all the evidence that Pan was another entity, from another mythology, his likeness was attributed to me. Fine. While the faithful looked over their shoulders for a goatee and red complexion I was free to walk among them.

The more insidious my methods got the more grandiose my depictions became. When John the Revelator was exiled to the island of Patmos, he tried his hand at writing. He had a strong premise with the Apocalypse, but he did what most first timers do and let the concept devolve into lists: seven seals, seven trumpets, seven spiritual beings, with seven bowls.

Had John been a better storyteller he might have imagined Armageddon, not as battle of swords, but of wits, where competing philosophies debated for the fate of humanity. Alas, John was more interested in who would win in a fight: The Archangel Michael or a seven-headed dragon.

After John, Dante and Milton wrote some fine fan fiction. I liked how Dante populated the Inferno with his personal enemies and how Milton made me a freedom fighter that could give a good speech, but I was never up to my tits in any ice nor would I claim Death and Sin among my brain children.

I never did half of what I got credit for. I never stole tools from the Silver Foundry to make a pact with a blacksmith. I never dared a soldier to wear a bearskin for seven years, and I never took a small-town farmer to trial for his soul. I have never lorded over any flies. Horseshoes don’t scare me, and black cats do not answer to me. They’re cats. They answer to nobody.

I wish I were as powerful as people believe. I wish I’d shined as bright as Venus in the morning. I wish I’d had a penthouse in Babylon. I wish my corporate headquarters had floors based on sins, but I have to budget my expenditures same as anyone.

These false etymologies have followed me for centuries. I used to agonize over every erroneous association. Now I’ve learned the value of good branding. Products live and die by consumers’ belief in them. I’ve learned to lean into humanity’s misconceptions, because the more they fear me the more they believe.

When the clergy made up stories to fill seats, I used their sermons as brainstorming sessions. I jotted notes over old hymns, tore out the pages, and slid them into my corset.

This wasn’t merely opposition research I was insider trading.

Matilda MacDonald by Bryan Politte

Physical Features

I’ve held many titles over the years. These days I go by Matilda MacDonald: Agent to the Stars.

Matilda is derived from the High German “maht” and “hild” meaning “strong in battle.” MacDonald is a modified version of Dòmhnall, which means “World ruler.” My name states my intentions while conjuring images of telekinetic little girls and fast food chains.

In the 80s, I made myself over as one of Patrick Nagel’s art deco women. I wanted to embody the iconography of that era of greed. I already had the snow-white skin, raven black hair, full lips, and stone cut cheekbones. All I needed was the pixie haircut, eyeshadow, and wardrobe full of pantsuits.

I’ve kept the same form for a generation and low and behold greed is still in fashion.

Matilda MacDonald by Bryan Politte

My Perfect Match

While my investments are in the markets of man, my heart belongs to the arts to the music-makers and the dreamers of dreams. Kings rule nations, but creators rule minds. All of my lovers possess a wealth of imagination, that je ne sais quoi that captures my attention.

Over the centuries I’ve played patron to many a prodigy. I massaged Nicolo Paganini’s joints so he could play violin, taught Giuseppe Tartini my favorite sonata, gave Christoph Haizmann visions worth painting, and tuned Robert Johnson’s guitar so he could always find the right strings.

I see the same spark in you.

You’ve tried so hard to make it as an artist. You have the tenacity and the drive. Too bad the free content movement devalued your medium, your ability never caught up with your tastes, and your style was never in fashion.

If you stay on the path the Entrepreneur has set, you’ll always be on the outside looking in. Your day job will never help you sleep at night. Your inspiration will be reduced to a nagging voice in the back of your mind. You will grow cynical watching fame go to vapid, beautiful, superficial people. You’ll die knowing your intimate thoughts will never connect with a broader audience, search engines will bury your legacy, and your work will go undiscovered.

But not if I have anything to say about it.

I heard the prayers you whispered to bathroom stalls, showerheads, and pillows. I heard the long-winded confessions that shot out of you like steam. I heard you scratching at death’s door. I know what’s it like to have lofty ambitions, to think your ascent was a forgone conclusion only to wind up scraping yourself off the ground.

I’ve chosen you because you’re not destined for great things, but you should be.

Matilda MacDonald by Bryan Politte

My Ideal Date

In the Richmond District of San Francisco, there’s a yellow duplex on California St. between 24thand 23rdAve. The address should read: 6118, 6120, and 6122, but someone has pried off all of the 6s from the units.

On special nights, under the light of a blood red moon, the edifice shifts. A person with the spark of inspiration will see the black Victorian home that once stood there.

If you’re ready to live the life you deserve walk up the stoop and open the front door.

Don’t let Togar scare you. He may be a lion, but he’s as friendly as they come. Take hold of his mane and follow him through the black velvet curtains down into the basement.

Don’t worry that the ritual chamber hasn’t been used in years. Cross the cobwebs between the candelabra and the pipe organ, past the bed of nails, toward the altar. Consider the wall of ceremonial daggers. The blades are made from ivory, flint, silver, and gold. I trust you’ll know which hilt to pull. When you do a door will open revealing a secret corridor. The corridor is made of seven artist spaces.

The first is filled with bookshelves lined with leather bound first editions.

The second: painted canvases stretched end to end.

The third: drafting tables jutting out from channels.

The fourth: a cube of soundproof acoustic panels.

The fifth: the many monitors of an editing bay.

The sixth: cryptic code on digital displays.

The seventh chamber, at the heart of this tomb, is the devil’s den: my master bedroom. I’ll be waiting on the futon beneath the sheer red canopy. Why don’t you join me when you’re ready to live deliciously?

There are many ways to enter into a binding bargain, but I find that this one is the most fun.

Matilda MacDonald by Bryan Politte

Continue reading Monster Mingle: The Devil’s Dating Profile