The FINAL DAY of the Temporary Anne Blog tour, and the thrilling conclusion of This Is How I..., the horror story YOU HELPED WRITE.
If you haven't already picked it up, check out Temporary Anne, the story of a woman too evil to stay out of Hell, but too evil to go there, either! CLICK HERE TO GET IT FREE.
"This is how I... die," I said to Betty and The Bearded Man.
A dragon, no, not a dragon, more of a snake but it's got wings, and the wings have heads on them and the heads have little teeth that are made up of screaming people, homonculi serving as daggersharp teeth to chew me up even as they bemoan their fate my GOD what kind of person was I?
******************* The Beast: it is dying. I reach out a hand to it, hold its tentacle in mine. It tried to help me. One more inch -- one more half-inch, and we'd have done it.
"No..." The Bearded Man says.
"No?" I ask.
"You died a long time ago, honey," Betty White tells me.
Somewhere her lightsaber is vorping its way through hordes of zombies, and I am embarrassed at the part of me that thought them up. I am better than that I can taste the second bite of Twinkie she gave me, before they joined even more mes back together and I became too insubstantial again -- not able to touch that world but only to fight in the world of dreams... nightmares ... that lay beyond the bottom of the pit, in the cavern where my body...
There's the Drum Major. It was a blonde wig. She's a redhead. She's running towards me. Her hat is off, and open, and I am proud that I created HER. She's reaching into the hat, her bag of tricks, she's got something, and then
rtdartdardartdartdartdartdarda rtdartdartdartdardartdartdartd artdart
she is torn into by a million tiny bees, bees made of ice, bees with
poisonous honey breath and murderous multifaceted eyes, bees burrowing
through her body and tearing her to pieces, her hat falling next to me.
"This is how I... save the world!" I shout around the mouthful of Snickers that is really just my fevered memories of Snickers, the last taste of a world I now know I left behind long, long ago, and I charge out of the darkness into the cavern beyond, where I am immediately body-slammed to the ground by a fist that is as big as a house and before I can react it is wrapped around me and picking me up, up up upupupupupUP to a mouth that is big enough to eat a house and the mouth, full of rotten teeth in the rotten jaw of a rotting corpse of a giant, is grinning at me. "THIS IS HOW YOU DIE!" it shouts.
"I... did." I say. It's not a question. I know what they're telling me is the truth.
neanotheronegetthemtogetherget themtogetherthiswillhelpthiswi llhelhereherehereanotheroneano theroneanotheronegetthemtogeth ergetthemtogetherthiswillhelpt hiswillhelphereherehereanother oneanotheroneanotheronegetthem togethergetthemtogetherthiswil lhelpthiswillhelp
The baby spiders -- now nearly as big as me, they grow up so fast! -- press another ghost of me into the ghost of me that stands before them. My memories of this one, the other me that the other me created and sent out into the world, at the bidding of... don't think about it... meld together. This one was evil, many of them would be, this one pressing into my mind images of slaughter: a schoolyard... a gun...
"No..." I gasp.
"You..." The Bearded Man says "Are history's greatest monster."
"Noooooo...." I say, again.
It's not a question. I know what they're telling me is the truth.
This body cannot be harmed, though, and once I am in the cavern and I realize that these are my creations I begin to take charge even as I also try to wrestle control back from me: the giant hand I cause to pass through me, and I bend the rocks to my will: stalagmites grow into soldiers made of rock and they grab the monsters that are attacking me, and I am back up off my back, ready to charge forward. The giant that grabbed me is pulled to the ground by my newest minions, swarming over it with clunky creaky rocky steps, pressing it into the ground. I follow their surge and charge up the chest of the giant, pausing at its face.
"This... ends here," I vow, staring into its eyes.
It will end here. One way or the other it will end here. I just didn't want it to end this way.
The drum major falls beside me. Her eyes already glassy. The Beast presses a tentacle to her forehead, then stops moving.
Around me, the baby spiders -- I was once afraid of them! -- begin to fall to the ground, their bodies dessicated and already turning to ash. Above me, the inferno begins to rage into a fireball and I see the ground begin to open up.
Am I too strong even for myself?
What was that?
Was that a bagpipe?
Through tiny fangs?
"It was over a hundred years ago that you realized what happened to you. You thought at first you went mad," The Bearded Man, who is my own creation, tells me -- my own psyche talking back to me as another ghost is pressed into me.
"Nooooo," I say. I want no more but I know it is necessary. I have sent these spiders out into the world to gather me and bring me here, all of me, in the hopes that my fragmented deranged soul can overcome the mindless -- no, the too mindful -- horror that awaits beyond this dark pit.
A bomb. Strapped to my chest. I walk into a market. God no no no A flash of light and then body parts.
The monsters in my mind, brought to life in various guises, each one unleashing more and more evil into the world, ripping open the gash between this world and others, letting more and more evil in to our world in an effort to end it -- end humanity and allow for something far, far worse to take over this universe.
I was a conduit! I want to protest, but it doesn't matter whether the evil we do is to further our own ends or to further someone else's.
"You tried to end it," Betty White tells me.
Why would I create her? Of all the annoying ways to tell myself what is going on.
Past the head of the giant my stone army rages forward, tearing into lions made of thorns and tigers made of ice, the ravings of a madman I know only all too well, for he is me.
I leap from the giant's forehead towards the center of the cavern: what fear does a ghost have of falling, of heights, of anything? My only worry is that having died, many times over, this time I will not finish the job and will not therefore redeem myself in some small measure for the awful things I have done over and over and over, both myself and the thoughts I have sent out into the world.
"I remember," I say. "This is how I... started it."
"Yes," says Betty.
"Shut up," I tell her. "You're a figment of my imagination." I turn to The Bearded Man.
"So am I," he tells me.
"I like you better. You gave me Snickers."
Betty looks hurt. I ignore her. The Bearded Man says "What do you want to know?"
'"I don't need to know anything. Will you tell the world?"
An explosion rocks the pit. He turns on a television that wasn't there a moment before, but that's a small thing for me to create, now, I suppose. We see a city, leveled by an explosion. In the midst of it I stand, clothing torn to shreds, holding a rocket launcher. Behind me, serpents forty feet long writhe and spit poison.
"I think they already know," he says.
A small glow is starting to pierce the darkness.
"Is that..." I start to ask.
The Bearded Man nods. "It's time to go."
The baby spiders have found two more copies of me, out in the world: they can gather up all the simulacra I have made, keep gathering them, but cannot do anything about the nonhuman monsters I have let into the world, all these copies of me going out to do evil, to rend the fabric of existence so that the nightmares banished eons ago from our world could come back.
I remember the first story I ever wrote -- one of the copies must have known of it, have existed when I wrote it, before I went mad, before my family was killed by my own creations, before I saw the monsters all the time and tried to avoid this fate by taking my own life, hanging myself in my spare bedroom one night, only to walk away from my dead body, a ghost that could replicate itself over and over and send its own ghostly nightmares out into the world to do evil -- and to become more solid the more were created.
I remember the first story I ever created, as I jump, and now I have a second worry.
It is there.
But first I see me -- my old body, the body I walked away from a hundred years ago, the body I hung with a clothesline after everyone I loved had been killed by a shadowy fevered dream that escaped from my study.
I am hanging, upside down, barely recognizable, my shock of hair clinging to a dessicated corpse that wouldn't exist at all if it were not for this cavern where my body has been taken. I am dead, a corpse, a ragged thing that shouldn't be at all.
And I am talking.
Through teeth that are barely held into the jaw I am shouting things, the names of monsters I can scarcely imagine existing, descriptions of horrors that would have caused my brain to flee in terror if it hadn't already done that long ago.
"It has ten legs and three heads and the body of an ogre but it is made of fire and it leaps onto a New York Street" my body is wailing, and I nearly quail at the thought of what I am doing and then I hear a whisper "But it leaves the girl alone and dives into the sewer" and I think: I AM TRYING, even now, even in death gone on too long, I AM TRYING and then a howl of rage and I turn.
I remember the first story I ever created, and now I have only one worry.
"This is not how it is going to end..." I grit my teeth. The fireball is opening up the gap between our world where humans have lived for as long as this because so long ago our ancestors took all these evil things and sent them away and now I have let them back in but I. WILL. NOT. BE. THE. UNDOING. OF. HUMANITY.
I stretch my arm.
I roll over.
I lift my ghostly body, somehow pressing my hands against the bloody, hot floor of the cavern after the battle has already ended and the war has just begun.
"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" I yell through lips that cannot feel the air, and I stand.
Off to the side I can see a few of the spiders -- once my enemy, the reason that it did not suspect that I was using them to gather me up, my greatest fear become my greatest tool: who would have expected that a man who made a running joke of his hatred of spiders would invest them with the power to kidnap all the parts of his spirit and bring them back, to kill him?
I stand and hope the spiders can reach me with one more me.
"Go," The Bearded Man says.
"Go!" Betty White yells, and we jump from the darkness into the cavern.
I pause for one moment, as they leap ahead of me, as the spiders press in to do battle.
I urge The Beast forward. I think long enough to bring the Drum Major and her magic hat back, and wish her luck as she, too heads into the cavern.
And then I bring them back one last time.
I turn around and see my two daughters, my wife, my baby boy. They are glowing and crying behind me. I know they are real, and not.
"I'm sorry," I tell them.
"But I'm trying to make it right, again," I tell them.
I know they are in Heaven, the first of my victims, but I know that if I fail not even Heaven will be safe.
They wave to me and then they are gone.
When I am able to turn away from my body I see it -- the thing that has taken my actual body and animated it, made it tell stories for years, decades, made it tell story after story after story down here in this cavern below the earth, made it tell stories of men who killed their families and saboteurs who caused bridges to fall and stories about drunks who blew up bars, the stories getting wilder and wilder and more and more full of phantasms and night fiends, each story increasing by a little the evil in the world and each story allowing the next to be worse.
It is almost beyond description and only the tiniest part of its insect-like body even protrudes into our world yet, the head and a few of its legs, a mantis born of reptiles but with the wings of a fallen angel, a horror so ancient it predates the devils our religions have made up. How it knew of me -- or maybe others like me? -- I may never know, but I instantly recognized it in the most primal part of my brain, the part that is still animal, the part that must have watched this thing stalk the earth in a time before my ancestors walked upright, in a time before my witch doctor, shaman predecessors found a way to wall it off from us.
So we could survive.
The Beast attacks it first, its tentacles whipping around, its mouths grasping, and my stone army, unafraid, is on it, then, pushing and beating and jumping, and I am holding a sword, suddenly, cold metal and steel and I run and tumble and leap and I first cut my own body down, watching the bones sag and crumble and fall apart, my skull, my tortured skull still shouting out the stories, trying here and there to mitigate them -- my own body is not so evil as I thought, feared, it might be -- and I hug it to me, trying to press my spirit into the dead flesh, to kill us all together, but I am not enough, yet, I need more of mes to complete me.
Then it is upon me, The Beast savagely wounded and dragging along behind it and I spin around, my sworn flashing in a skill I didn't have until I decided I did. There in the gloom I make my last stand, a ghost with a sword standing over his own fallen body, hoping to grievously wound a foul thing that wants this world back.
It lunges at me.
I leap and stab, aiming for an eye.
It grabs me in its mouth, ridges of razor-sharp bone somehow cutting through the ether I am made of, and I feel energy escaping from me exactly as if it were blood.
I fall, laying across my body.
The Beast gives up, its life almost done, and falls beside me.
I see the Drum Major running towards it.
It stands above me, now, paying no attention to my feeble howls. My body, below my feet, continues to mumble stories of cities being engulfed in flame, of killer bees with human faces stabbing men in army uniforms. Here and there I hear a word of kindness, but this must end.
It is widening the flaming gap through which all the others will come, its own kind, to take over first our world and then the next.
The spider is halfway here, dragging with it another spirit-me. Will it be enough?
Through the flaming portal at the top of the cavern tendrils appear.
I urge the spider to hurry.
It pauses and looks down.
Now I unleash my only power, creating image upon image upon image of my own creations -- I am too ghostly now to make them physical but maybe I can confuse it, and the cavern is filled with angry trees gnashing wooden teeth, with demons hunkering over spiky tails, with ghosts and pirates and a headless Stephen King holding a tommygun to a clown's head, anything I can think of and it works: it pauses, long enough, and the spider is there.
I pat its head.
"You did good," I say. The ghost it has looks at me, confused, and then I grasp its hand and we are joined.
This one was a good one -- one of the few my body was able to create. It was a doctor. It saved a baby being born.
It is enough. I grab my body, press it to me, and it stops talking.
Mid-sentence iit crumbles into dust, and so do I, and I see the flaming portal closing, it being dragged back through because the evil was not yet enough, here, to open it up. I have saved the world, my last words fading into the now-silent, empty cavern that almost was used to let every nightmare ever back into our world, and the echoes will last forever, down there, of my last words:
"This is how I...":
And that's the story. Go buy Temporary Anne today! It's great!