Max

It became more than I conceived. It took a life of its own. If left unchecked the time consumed tic-tac-toeing across a symmetrical grid of personalities became immeasurable. Seconds to hours, hours to weeks. Where did it stop. I was somewhere in the middle of the journey. Couldn’t remember the beginning. Couldn’t remember if there was a point. Had there been, it was dulled to the softest curb, the smoothest dip, the easiest turn tacit erosion raw and chaffing. It wasn’t numb. It was calloused. Second nature breathed this reality on me, it beat warm blood life into existence. It was spliced memories and intentions, sewn together casually so as not to overstate the gravity of choice and impulse. It became its own legacy, and my lusting appetite the voyeur and exhibitionist of the vacuous mores we sank to in our eternal climb for relevance, recognition, understanding, and purpose. The gravity sank to the pit of my groin, tightened scrotum seizing the last life before its release satiated my nerves to crystalline halos, familiar and relieved.

 

“Max” is a vignette written by Michael Aaron Casares. All rights reserved.

Look for more Max Caulfield coming soon.

 

 

Grim’s Wall

He continued to gaze passed his son, his amorphous spirit calm and sullen. He saw in the distance the point where a pin light met the blackness of night, and twilight seeped into blue hues strong and matte. There were no stars to speak of. There were not even remnants, ghosts of the outer graveyard to utter reminiscence  into their mind. There, at the point the sun began to rise and cast fiery pinks and golds into the sky, he saw the promise of this land; he saw opportunity. He’d been taught well, young, his education meticulously curated for optimal discernment and perspective. He couldn’t explain how he received it, after all, he’d never met any of his teachers.

“Build the grim’s wall.” he whispered, half speaking to his son, half to the air.

“That’s what he wants.” he whispered again. His heart held tight, his eyes rolled silent up, his eyelids fluttering. There was something coming in. Something that resonated. He closed his eyes. A dark space suddenly bore corners as he walked forward. His footsteps echoed. He saw before him a black apron. It reminded him of a butcher’s apron, a hard plastic with a shiny veneer. It was unused. He reached to touch, but the wall fell away and he was hovering in the sky watching the world beneath him. He felt he should be frightened, but an instinctual certainty calmed him. Sights came to him; images burst into view and vanished fast. He saw a great upheaval, benign or not irrelevant; the energy spiked. A sun rose. A heart of gold born. The galactic light enveloping him in its warmth. Then the butcher and night. He cleaned. He took out the trash. He erased every fecal smudge and rancid piddle. He painted the roses red.

“Fire.” he whispered as he walked through the daydream, “He’ll bring fire; orange is his favorite color.”

 

Grim’s Wall is a vignette written by Michael Aaron Casares. All rights reserved. 

 

Remittance

It was in observation of manipulation. She used her mental prowess naturally throwing screens at conflict, hiding the truths needed, protecting the secrets accumulated. Her vast trail grew long like the shadows long tails tethered to the horizon sun. Twilight grew in her eyes. She was tired. The attempts at manipulation. The unlauded successes of its unintentional existence. A great book for the counter culture. She’d stood on one side of the line by necessity for so long she was unsure at first how to feel when good fortune brought her to the other side. And how at that time the magnetic draw she fed on increased and strengthened. She had no choice but to stand where she stood. The prewritten law, the contract signed upon (re)initiation, feigned at as a victim’s house, acknowledged the many paths to take, agreed the poisons of the world would overtake the soul if the sun was going to shine on peace and goodwill, to overcome the counter balance incumbent from this game’s inception. The trade off for those who will or will not exist in the heightened world of the future, the point being to assist another dying world, or to learn again. For now her resolve asked for piety, for forgiveness amongst the shadows. Her resolve to adapt to the onslaught of challenge and awkwardness, to grin through once regulated emotions of pain and suffering, to continue transmuting the darkness of the soul, to carry on as a beacon of higher awareness. She had once learned, deep inside a dream, the memory existed. Beyond the sun and galaxy, in a space accessible to opened souls, the maps of many paths reside. If she guided to it with her heart, she’d remember the choices she made; if open she’d easy navigate the river of the soul to starlight and the inner healing of its energetic core.

 

Remittance is written by Michael Aaron Casares. All rights reserved.

Resurrection Apollo

He glared sharply into the sky. Without a star or moon in sight, he was certain the sky glared back at him. He disapproved of it. At long last he’d become tired of it. It’s been dark for too long, he thought. He didn’t know where it came from, or why. He was perplexed at how deep the sky became. He seemed to remember a time like this before, and marveled how the shrouded moon seemed to veil the entire sky opaque. Still, there was a time when the single moon cast a silver sheen so luminous, it seemed the land and his surroundings glowed in that hazy white. There were times the moon was accompanied by a legion of stars, the multitude a shimmering carpet to the naked eye, ghostly yet familiar. Still, there was another. It changed the land all together. It brought a light so bright it made shadows hide in the crooks of their masters, and brought clarity and definition. This is what he wanted as the blackness surrounded his head. Daybreak was coming, he sensed as denser grew the shroud. The forces at work always worked their hardest before the sun’s return.

 

“Resurrection Apollo” is written by Michael Aaron Casares. All rights reserved. 

 

 

Weighted Thinking

A black sun is rising in the east, a polarized field of white and green light. It is a total absence. It brings the land in its expanse to a deeper spectrum end to end. Why the cognizance of the relative dissonance has staggered the median. There is a darkness on the horizon. Through cracks and breaks, the whispers of strangers who want to be friends, those with desire thrown hazardly  aside. Reason comes to save one’s breath. It is the shadow in the corner that jumps out through the corner of the eye. It is the random clacking of old housing and fixture. It is the sullen memory that walks outside the door, repetitiously pacing the floor, its talons daintily scraping. Dimming roots flourish and expand. The necessity of weighed thinking transmuting itself into heavy breathing has fallen on this satellite. The broadcast that radiates through the air, pierces a sky that’s fallen short, looks on hopefully at the meandering dirigible down below. It knows fate has cast it into the heavens, given a chance to proceed at will, and it hopes as the heat expands, the voracious gasses will not soon ignite.

 

 

Weighted Thinking is written by Michael Aaron Casares. All rights reserved.

 

 

Faery Hill – Part Five

I gazed at the skyline, hypnotized by its dim outline against the darkening gray-purple sky. The orange had faded near a horizon I could not see. I could make out the rough edges of each edifice, the precise architecture of each construction, but as I gazed at them, the buildings began to mesh into each other. They began to soften and their color deepen until eventually they were spires of verdant knolls. I’d never seen such a thing. The sky settled to a deep midnight cerulean, speckled with stars. The streets had changed, too. They’d become darkened dirt roads, compressed and chilled, mud lined with lush and thick grass, tailored  and groomed neatly. I could not see well in the dim night, but torches lined the street all the way to Faery Hill. I continued on, trying not to limp. I felt my strength leaving my legs and arms. The torches lit the way, but every few minutes, a glowing light would flutter by, sparkling whispers and luminescence casted around it. The lights flew by in pinks and greens, purples and blues and zipped into the air, climbing and dodging between the verdant knolls and hills. This profound hallucination was so immaculate, I felt myself short of breath, and I felt my heart start to race again. The drug had grabbed a hold of me. I stopped. I had to shake it off. I had never had a bad trip on the drug before, but I’d also never been so immersed in a delusion before. I rubbed my eyes and blinked repeatedly. The green spires and towering column knolls had vanished, and in their place, the same tired buildings that populated downtown. The fire torches were gone, too, and once again were street lights. There were no neon fire flies zipping by, only the somber darkness of a sky muted by dull city lights and reticence. Everything I’d seen before vanished to normalcy. I slouched my way up the road. A car or two passed by. I was already in downtown proper again, and on the streets of Faery Hill. The stores and restaurants were lit for the evening, and the bars had all come to life. Traffic would be substantially less on the highways now, a steady flow. Here on the streets, though, traffic was picking up again. The late dinner crowd was arriving for the bars and the restaurants. Some of the shops would close soon. The workers and the consumers of the world were changing guard for the night.

My proprietors lived off Fourth in a corner of Faery Hill not many traveled. It was dingy and dirty, and just beyond their complex was a construction site and dirt hills. It was not an attractive spot and only homeless, cruisers, and drug users occupied its shadows and corners. The complex rounded the street and was a literal dead end where thru traffic was concerned. My sellers were quiet, but cordial. Two guys were all I ever saw. I supposed they were lovers, but, to be honest, I didn’t even know if they were gay. They were both very attractive so I gathered, even if they weren’t gay, they were gay. I notified them of my arrival via text while I walked. They were cool with me stopping in. The entrance was to the left of the building, on the far side of the street from where I was coming. I had composed since leaving The Catalan, but I’d used all my paper towels and was afraid of what would happen if I started to bleed again. I guess if it were a drug related symptom, they would know.

As I approached their door, I felt another wave creeping up on me. It was like gravity was prickling the back of my skull, persuading me, coaxing me to reel back into a delusion. I stood in front of the door, wanting to knock, but also wanting this feeling to wash away. I steadied my eyes as I watched sparkling white lights slowly float from my peripherals forward. Then, a blue glowing spot fluttered by with a slight buzz. The door reflected the blue. I looked up, panicked. The door stood, the only remnant I recognized of my world. It was the entrance to the deep green, leafy mound that stood before me, and towering green spires surrounding it. The door opened and a hand seized my arm and pulled me forward. I gasped, uttering a brief shock. I was ushered in by a pair of hands that pulled and pushed at me urgently.

“Get in,” a voice said. I didn’t see anybody until the door was closed. A soft purple light turned on and I knew immediately I was in the anteroom of my proprietors.

“I—,” I began to speak, but I stammered instead.

“Don’t talk. It’s okay.” I felt his hands on my shoulders. His grasp had gentled, I supposed because I exhibited some sort of coherence. I wonder how bad I looked.

“You are much farther along than we’d expected.”

Wait. What?  We walked forward. The halls were nice, elegant with crown molding and carved wooden paneling that was bisected by stone white walls. The details were almost lost in the purple light. I still did not see my counterpart.

“You’ve been using haven’t you? We could tell the moment you walked up to the door. The energy was magnificent.”

“What are you talking about?”

“The Faery Dust. The drug you’ve been peddling for us.” My head began to spin. So this was the drug’s name. It made sense. I coulda’ figured that out myself, I guess. I was somewhat relieved my seller understood what was going on with me, because that meant that he could possibly help me, and at the same time, there was something that didn’t sit well with me. It was a strange energy. We continued down the hall, the light had begun to taper off, and color re-emerged as a torch lit the hall, casting shadows that fought with the already dim hues. At last I saw him. He was standing next to me, his hair long and fawnish; his jawline was strong but delicate; his lips regal, yet inviting, his body boyish, but firm. I couldn’t explain it.

“We’d like to thank you for the excellent job you’ve done. You were doing so well.” Finality was in his tone. I wondered where he was taking me as he ushered me through a door. This is where we usually did business. I had a moment of clarity as the drug receded. I could feel the marks on my face like ghost lines. My ears had started to hurt.

“You see, Alex. There is a certainty for those who enjoy partaking in Faery Dust. It changes you.”

“What are you talking about? You mean there’s side effects? What, what kind of damage does it do?”

“It changes you.” Before I’d realized it, there was some type of cuffs around my wrists. My heart jumped.

“Hey!” I screamed at him, but the effort only made me woozy. “What are you doing?”

“Faery Dust is a very important substance to us, Alex. And in order for us to keep it in production, certain actions must be taken. Its users, for instance eventually become its manufacturers.” My dealer walked forward, standing in front of me. There was something different about him. His skin seemed soft, his ears were like mine, long and pointed. He looked like a fairy from children’s books.

“I don’t understand what you mean.”

He walked forward, a ghost in the dim room. He looked me in the eyes, his gaze met mine and I saw a veneer of gloss that sparkled deep in his irises. His pupils were bottomless pits. He huffed acutely. Thin flaps of flesh, three on each cheek lifted on his face like gills, and flapped down. My heart sank as the marks reminded me of mine.

“The drug changes you, Alex.”

A giant luminescence expanded from his eyes. It began blue and purple and brightened to white, becoming a brilliant star that surrounded me. It was warm and blanketed my body. Shadows began to thin and disappear. The details of the room and my proprietor in front of me gone, everything vanished in the light.

 

“Faery Hill” is written by Michael Aaron Casares. All rights reserved. Short fiction, part five of five. 

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Faery Hill – Part Four

My head began to swim. There were a few others in the bar besides the randoms sitting at the bar itself. A couple was near the stage at a high top nursing drinks and chatting. A young dude on his cell phone absentmindedly sipped his margarita. All in the shadow of the orange fire that burned in front of them. I felt my blood begin to thin and quicken. My heart palpitated. I leaned against the wall and looked up. I didn’t want to be conspicuous. I think I was starting to sweat. Then she came up to  me. The cocktail waitress. Yes. I had been expecting her. She looked troubled, but smiled nonetheless. I smiled back at her. I ordered a whiskey coke. She walked away with a bow and a smile. I leaned against the wall again, and looked at the ceiling. It was a high ceiling bar. It seemed to get lost in the dim shadows. I felt a rush come over me, it rose like a chill that convulsed quickly through my body. I shook. I felt the drug coursing through me. A second surge of lust and exuberance. I rubbed my thigh with the palm of my hand. I inhaled deeply. The music came to my ears. Deep pulsing bass beats. Sweeping synthesizers accented by sparkling bells and trumpeting lyrics. A beautiful piece, by a pop mistress I didn’t know. I sighed, letting the wave come over me. My heart continued to thrum in my chest. The waitress returned with my whiskey coke. It was a double. I pulled my card out.

“On the house, Jack. Bosses orders.” Is all she said. I bowed, thankful. Then she turned and looked me in the eyes curtly.

“But I got ta’ say, you don’t look too good.” She looked closer at me, “I can’t really tell, but are you bleeding?”

“What?” What the heck was she going on about? The music wasn’t loud, but I was having a hard time grasping what she was saying.

“Nevermind. Enjoy your drink.” She walked away without so much as a smile. My mind swelled again and I turned away from her and the bar and looked to the stage and that bright neon sign. The color was bold, an orange with a reddish hue. It almost looked gold in some spots.

What was that waitress going on about though? I wondered. I sipped my drink. It was strong. I sucked a quarter down in one gust of my straw. I let the alcohol wash over my body. It seemed to temper the high. I sipped on as the music played. I felt my heart beginning to flutter as opposed to thrum. I supposed I was calming down.  My skin didn’t feel hot and tingly and I was able to take full deep breaths. I’d finish my drink, maybe have a second, leave a healthy tip and be on my way. As my body began to regulate again, I felt a slight warm mark on my cheek. I touched it with my hand. It was moist. I must have been sweating. The poor waitress probably thought I looked a mess. As I pulled my hand away from my face I noticed my fingers appeared sullied and dark. Was it not sweat on my cheek? The color of the liquid on my fingers was almost black in the light; a nebulous, purple bedazzled with black glitter in the blood orange neon light. I put my drink down, and nearly stood up. I seized, remembering to be inconspicuous. I felt the drug’s influence returning. I was starting to panic inside about my face and whether or not it was blood on my hand. I wanted to go. But, I felt paralyzed by the drug, afraid to move, afraid I’d do something obvious and awkward and everyone would know. I stalled for a second, miles stretching between heartbeats.

I had to know. I stood up firmly and walked passed the bar and its denizens, the tenders and the flies, and avoided the nagging sensation that I was being watched. The bathrooms were at the back, down a hallway that led to an exit. Everything was black: the hallway walls, ceiling, floors. Dim red orange fixtures kept with the bars theme. In the bathroom, I approached the sink. The mirrors above them were dim lit with a hazy, dull yellow. I saw the crimson streaks on my cheek. It startled me. Thin lines stretched across my cheek. I could see where my fingers had made a mess. What scratched me? I wondered. It caused me to bleed and I didn’t even realize. I turned my head in the mirror, and was shocked to see thin lines on my other cheek, too. There were three that stretched from the corner of my mouth to the base of my earlobe. Thin streaks like ink slid from each cut. My heart started to race, but I did everything I could to coax myself to remain calm. I turned the water on, grabbed some paper towels and proceeded to clean my wounds. I was stunned. As I gazed in the mirror at my cuts, I noticed my flesh would lift, like deep, thin slivers. How deep were these gashes? I looked in the mirror again, the water running. My body felt weird, like a low humming electric charge was coursing through it. I was grateful the place wasn’t busy or there’d probably be some guy asking me questions and making small talk. I continued to wipe away the stains. As I gazed at the reflection, my attention was caught. I looked twice suddenly caught off guard. Was it a trick of the drug I’d used, or was I losing my mind? The iris of my eyes had become angular, half diamonds. Almost like cat eyes. I peered harshly at them as my heart rate rose. I gazed in my eyes’ reflection. I looked for their color. They used to be typical brown, only hazel in the light. Now they seemed to be blue, or purple. I looked deeply in them and suddenly saw muffled bursts of light and reticence. They began to glow and sparkle.

I freaked out. I pulled myself from the mirror, turning fully away from the scene. I breathed heavily. I grabbed at my ears, placing my hands on my cheeks, my fingers caressing the lobes. I could feel the thin sheaths of flesh underneath on my palms. They were warm. I ran my fingers up my ears, stressed by the drug. Confused by what it was making me feel and see. My ears, for example, now felt long, the cartilage much harder and stiff. I gasped as I felt the rigid point they came to, the flesh so callous it felt like soft bone. I started to hyperventilate, as I turned to the mirror again. I looked so pathetic holding my ears as my cheeks began to streak the deep crimson streams I worked so hard to clean. Suddenly, my head swooned. I felt dizzy, dazed. My vision and hearing became amplified, my eyes bubbled and my hearing piqued. I needed to get out of there. The vibes of the Catalan were usually much better. I hoped this was all a trip, and that hallucination was a part of the drug I’d never experienced, or perhaps the consequence of extended use. I knew where I could get answers.

I cleansed my cheeks again of the blood that seeped from the cuts, gathered a handful of paper towels, and left the men’s room, heading back to the exit. The door was a through way, and exited to an alley. The main difference between this neighborhood and Faery Hill, was there was far more green and trees, even just on the outskirts of Faery Hill proper. There was a green square in Faery Hill where they had festivals and concerts, but that was about it. Faery Hill was concrete, downtown, and constrained. I walked the alley feeling woozy. Not from blood loss was my initial hope. I touched my cheeks and inspected my fingers. There were no blood stains. I took that as a good sign. I walked forward. I had decided to visit my proprietors and under the guise of re-upping, get some answers to what was happening. The wooziness hit me again and caused me to stumble a little. This trip felt much different from others. The rush I usually felt inside my head seemed to cast its influence over my extremities. It felt difficult to walk, but at the same time, it may have all been in my head. Damn, the drug. I made it out of the alley and on to the sidewalk of a main street. I turned the corner and was in front of The Catalan again. It had gotten much darker out and the street signs and business had begun to light up. The buildings were cast in shadow and formed a crooked skyline of monolithic silhouettes. Office buildings, apartment homes, their lights speckled the dark. I walked forward hoping I looked alright, staring at the city before me, heading back to Faery Hill.

 

“Faery Hill” is written by Michael Aaron Casares. All rights reserved. Short fiction, part four of five.