Five short stories of surreal and slightly dark fantasy.
Retellings of an ancient legend affect the gods who are in it.
An inner demon seems to depart, but has he really gone?
A young man lives in a world of alchemical fantasies.
A living doll yearns to escape.
Trading in crystals leads to an unexpected magical drama.
Excerpt from KILLER:
There used to be someone inside my head, and I feared that he was a killer, and that I was possessed.
If he was indeed a killer, whose hands would he use to kill? Mine or his own? I hoped it would not be mine, but if he had hands, I didn’t know where they were: whether they were inside me where he was, or outside in the world, or in another dimension at an adjacent angle to this one.
If he was indeed a killer, I didn’t know where his mind was to plan the killings, and whether he would use my mind and make me believe that the killer was me. I didn’t know where his heart was, that heart with its love of killing, or whether he would use my heart and seduce it into a love of killing, making it like his own.
I waited, full of fear. Then the killer moved.
I don’t mean that he ‘made his move.’ I mean he moved his location, out of my head and into The Greenhouse. At once I was so happy, so relieved. Now I would never become a killer myself. I would never be called a monster, never be called a predator. And in my gratitude, I embraced The Greenhouse as a place of salvation.
I should have simply been grateful and turned away, back to my mundane life. But instead I wanted to learn the secrets of The Greenhouse. That night when I lay down in bed I closed my eyes, pressed my cheek against the pillow and willed with all the fervour I could muster to go to The Greenhouse, to learn how it had managed to swallow up my killer. I did not intend to go inside, because he was in there, and I didn’t want him back inside my head. I wanted to stay outside and peer in through the glass, to learn what I could.
As I lay there completely still, a dream began to form. I had never managed to remain conscious and aware while slipping into a dream. Many times I had tried, because it is a lucid dreaming exercise, and so far I had never been successful-until this time.
I found myself standing on the frame that was in between two panes of glass on The Greenhouse. I fitted on it perfectly; either I must have shrunk and become the size of an insect, or else The Greenhouse had grown. I knew it was a dream, and that I was where I had wished to be: outside The Greenhouse looking in.
The interior looked ordinary, with raised flowerbeds and hosepipes curling on the floor. The killer was nowhere in sight. The glass must be holding him prisoner like a spirit bottle, and these frames were giving it cohesion, holding it in place. As I stood watching I felt myself one with the power of the frames and the glass: it was as if I was the one containing the killer, as if I was The Greenhouse itself.
Then I looked away from the glass, and down at the place where I was standing. I stood on the groove in the centre of the frame which opened out like a pathway at my feet: a highway through darkness into an alternate realm.
Maybe the point of the dream was to walk along this path. Surely such a journey would reveal to me the true nature of The Greenhouse, for wherever I went I would remain on its side. But would there be time to explore its full extent before morning? Also it was so dark that I could see nothing ahead of me, or behind, or to either side. All I could see was the pane of glass and the interior of The Greenhouse, and my feet and my full weight were on the frame, but it did not split, and the glass did not crack.
Something began to move towards me, and this I did see because it had a strange glow. It was a monster, a white shapeless lump with one enormous green eye at the top. The thought came to me that I was meeting myself and would have to conquer myself. I’d come across that idea somewhere-maybe in a book or a film.
Then a worse thought came: this was the killer. Although confined inside The Greenhouse, he was outside at the same time, and had come to get me. With no glass between us I would be both mirrored and cut, and no light would pass through to illuminate my soul.
As the creature drew nearer, the conviction filled my mind that my task was to make him shrink, smaller and smaller until he disappeared. I pointed my finger at him like a magic wand.
“Shrink!” I commanded. “Shrink away to nothing!”
For a moment he wobbled, and then he did begin to shrink. His big, jellied mass of a body began to suck in on itself, and to implode. I relaxed a little, and at once he stopped shrinking. I would have to keep a vice-like control over my will if I wanted him to disappear, otherwise he would remain there blocking my way all night, and if he was the killer he would destroy me or go back inside my head.
So I quickly concentrated once again on willing him smaller and smaller, and it worked, he was shrinking again, until one of his ears started to look squashed and bent. That made me feel sorry for him momentarily, and again the shrinking stopped. In fact, he now started to grow instead. I would have to be indifferent-even the slightest sympathy would reverse all my efforts and keep him here with me.
I waved my arms and shouted, “Go down to nothing! Go!”
His white blob of a body rolled itself up into a ball, which rolled over and over several times and then stuck to the glass pane on my right. “Go!” I said again, and finally he vanished. Something told me to look away and think about something else, to prevent the monster coming back.
All there was to look through was the glass, so I gazed into The Greenhouse with its tranquil row of flowering plants and leafy vines. But this time the killer was in there, staring back at me. He spoke in a deep voice.
“That monster wasn’t you and it wasn’t me-it was a thought form you made of the bogey man, the monster under the bed. I’m still trapped in here, and I want to kill everyone. You’ve locked me up in this prison, but it hasn’t cured me. Now I will find rats to kill, and flies, and beetles that walk along the windowsills in The Greenhouse. They don’t understand what this place is; they think it’s a town proportional to their own size, so they will walk along happily until I squash them flat.”
I wanted to back away, but my feet clung to the frame. He was only threatening to kill rats and insects, and yet he was still the killer I feared, the killer who would murder me or murder other human beings or make me murder them. I was outside, but it wasn’t enough. I would have to destroy The Greenhouse with the killer inside it. Destroy both The Greenhouse and the killer, and then wake up, for was this not a dream? A nightmare?