Midnight Clouds

Mercy Street forlorn in the morning clouds.
The eyes heavy in retreat, eclipse its own vision,
iris shaking, pupil fat. The fog clings low to the
ground, the feigned winter breeze of an ill-fit
New Year and Holiday Season, all but elements
and figments of a present now passed.

Random auditory notes, celestial to organic
ooze softly through the dim blue, the prism
cast even through the multicolor Christmas
tree that stands proudly, defiant of the cycle
consumerism has set. Another buzz on the
silenced phone reminds of the artificial means
of contact: perpetuated, advanced, and liberating,
but also enslaving.

Days have passed with but a blink in time
to rest. The blackness usurps fastidiously,
a deep vacuum one hears as life vanishes
down the funnel. Falling apart. Piecing
into bits, a shred in time, a shred of time,
elapsed into a memory, the spectrum
disintegrates as static, a multicolor fuzz
established in the night. A waft of fog
streamlined like a feather, but hazy like
cotton, fills the empty space of ground,
and we the people have receded. We have
shriveled into our shells and tents. We
have succumbed to the very nature of the
beast. That is to say, our spirits are filled
with goodwill, and the actors’ pernicious
glare, stares only at the jugular.

Flesh on flesh rubs raw, hours into  love making.
The unnatural cause of a ludicrous effect, the winds
of Jupiter could not stop it. It would seal it in a glass
bowl of constant paranoia and awareness of every
move. The silent creep around the corner has eyes
one only seen at night, and the steps so carefully placed
are chosen to strike cords of discontentment as clash
decision and discernment. Faith within the huddled
space, the flames and torches light the way. The incense
waft precarious, sanctifies the base. Allows those lost
in light, the lovers late and lazy, the lonesome and the
loathsome, the legion watching many, to emote a ranc
sulpheric steam. The garbage, manure, rotten and
deceased to plague the pristine strands of fair incense,
storm clouds on the horizon. A quiet flash, a sexual pulse,
discretion is out the door. A hum electric in the veins a fizz
and pop, a clearing of the sitting soul, a buzz that rides the
very bone, opens eyes into the inner core, rewrites the brain
the mind now wired to the world. 

 

“Midnight Clouds” is written by Michael Aaron Casares. All rights reserved. 

 

COMING SOON: The Vanishing Poet, a collection by Michael Aaron Casares. 

 

 

 

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Job Fair

I stood around, pacing,
watching a multitude of kids,
my age or younger, herd through
stalls of opportunity.
They are all here to find a job,
a career deserving of their certificates
and claim to knowledge.
They’ll all go off
to big corporations,
making higher figures
than I ever did at my first,
second and third jobs.
But that’s what they’re
trained for, that’s why they
live, to exist as part of
a system necessary for a life
they’ve been taught to desire.
Sure, people who pay more
for education should get
paid more to work—that’s
the rationale they are born
with. Never mind the love
affair or the need to live
as you please. There’s
money to be made.

 

“Job Fair” 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. 

If you enjoyed this work of fiction, be sure to like and share. Visit the “Books” tab at the top of the page to purchase your copy of one of Michael’s books today! 

 

 

Take the Ride

I’ve one last chance to bear witness
to the oddity and uniqueness: a first time
original, a tchochke of absurdity, abstract.
The walls are building up around him.
Admiration one last time; appreciation, a
resolution before the chains and shackles
desecrate his name.

Voice of an underground generation,
inspiration engaged in the risks of life, necessity
of truth. Experience the drive to conclusive
judgments; the taint upon his name.

Ranks of autonomy, vicarious alive we learn,
the forging of a memory, a blasted wind twisted
in the lights. The trails of inspiration, a singular
distillation perceived by the artist above.

Fist to the sky, a cannon ablaze for the final
ride to reach the heavens; every attempt to make
it there on one’s own, to stave off rejection, the
ultimate fear that seizes the soul at the final
door of reality.

The whispers of loathing run deep.
They burrow in the skin, a sickness plagued
by the curators of history. The poisoned rabbit
hole attractive as deep, gives direction to the madness.

An effigy is burning as the world returns to light.
The scarcities of imagination that drive the actions of
another, the vacuum of besieged souls will leave room
for new growth. The legends of old, the texts that built
this world in generations forsaken by the sins of the
shadows, prostrate in agony, guilt bleeding from their
brows, their visions deteriorating, rotting, decaying
the interior of the soul expressed outwardly, a
trap for the lost, or the questioning conscience.

 

“Take The Ride” is written by Michael Aaron Casares. All rights reserved.

 

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.

 

Black Orpheus: Hearts of Glass

Distant sigh of the wind and highway
cold through cracks on winter morn.
The dark of absent light and sun,
the stars that hug the horizon tight.
Ashes and cotton balls cling to lazy eyes;
flurries and dust thick on dry lashes.
The truth is laid before our heavy hearts.
The body is tired, it is rebelling against
the gluttonous need. It is fighting
the winter spirit. It is hoping for truth,
but instead plagues the host with
sickening disease. It is thick on
the glass. It is blackened and
burned, a stain forgiven by the
washing of hands and scraping
of shards. The rushing cadence
the heart resolves to, the hollow
electricity coursing through nerves,
the eyes awake and lucid. The perceptions
of the guilty shadow the innocent, the light
of truth futile to the cover of the past.
The future brings slick streets,
constipated morals, late nights and
early mornings. Chilled daylight masks
itself in a crystalline kaleidoscope of
glitter and mirrors. The pupils dilate.
Flies run through the blood. Fatigued
as aging tree bark, the spirit is
cracked and rigid. The lines
deepen, a black sleep that consumes
the eyes and flesh, and ignorance
blesses each chilled hush that creeps
inside our hearts of glass.