by: o. del hombre

The howling went on like that, unending.  It was like the wind over a bottle – a bottle filled almost to the neck with rainwater.  So the howling was high, urgent, tireless, but never-ending as if the tragedy it was warning against had happened ten years, 100 years, 1000 years ago and would never end.

There was no rescue.

So how do you live with it?  It was the last line of the letter that got him.  It was a typical piece of fanmail.  He’d been writing under false names for ten years now and, with the piece in Midwest Gothic that drew so much attention, he finally allowed his publisher to release a PO number where he’d collect mail, sometimes respond to pieces, sometimes just fall asleep on top of a crate’s worth of ink-stained paper.  Questions.  Questions.

There’d been stories about school shootings, possessions, even the extra-terrestrial (should that be italicized, he’d wonder in his brain, being that it’s straight-up Latin?  That certainly would lend some credo to a topic usually concomitant with B movies).

There’d been novels published under assumed identities – some of them so rich with nuance and imaginary history that folks never even questioned the existence of Jack Long or Dick Turner.  Sure, ingenious to chalk these names up as pseudonyms to big-name writers who had agreed to take the credit for some well-penned stories; but, even more brilliant to deepen the intrigue when Handy Glover’s publisher released the string of hints before the latest story that the lives of these imaginary writers did not simply end in the shadows of the studies of S—- C— or M— K——-.

The howling was a wind over the abyss.  It was the shriek of fluted bone, left holes-up in the desert.  The voice of reeds left to vibrate shrill in the cove.

So how do you live with it?

He pulled the letter with him over to the bed, folded himself into the sheets and into the text and into the pulp and into – god help him – into the dreams that had fluttered behind his eyeballs for the last twenty years.  Bad dreams.  But that was part of the fun – they were just dreams, after all.  Just dreams.  And so what harm could they do?  And that is how he lived with them, thank you very much.

His eyes grew heavy and soon, he’d be keeling through a shark-infested corner of the world.  The horizon unimpressed, angry even, shining scant light upon a ragged cape populated with a malnourished people who let sewage run through the streets.  Just dreams.  Just dreams.  Tucked into sheets and ink and pulp and no more.  No more.