The mournful cry from the horn of a passing locomotive always propels me into a state of melancholy. I put the last of my belongings in my suitcase, then sat and waited for the prearranged wake-up call from the front desk. 7 a.m. strikes and the phone rings as expected. A rendition of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata played softly in my left ear. Expectedly, no one there on the other side to wish me well. To say good morning. To tell me that I’ll make it through another day. Moonlight Sonata—an excellent choice. Someone must have chosen this piece. Someone must have been there to program the recording. Someone…
The van arrived on time. A young man with a cheerful disposition greeted me—his name, Jefferey, scribbled in black marker on a paper name tag. He helped me with my suitcase and apologized for spilling the contents of my toiletry bag. He is going to be an architect one day he tells me. He looked at me with some derision when I told him that my teeth are diseased. We sat in silence for the remainder of our journey to the airport. Another mournful cry from a passing locomotive sounded in the far distance as I exited the van. Lovers embraced one another in front of terminal 1, preparing for one of their departures. Flight 5023 to Mural DELAYED flashed in red above the concierge desk.
I sat for some time on the bench in silence and thought about yesteryear. A slender gentleman within his late thirties sat nearby. He is going to Houston to finalize a business transaction. He is a nervous flier. He likes cheese scones. He likes Shakespeare. He needed to use his phone in private and didn’t come back for the coffee I had purchased for him.
Upon boarding, the captain made an announcement that we would be arriving in Mural at 1:45p.m. Later than I anticipated, but I still had time to iron my items and wash before Rosemary’s funeral later that afternoon…
C o m m e n c e m e n t
Resplendent light illuminates the track tonight
its skeleton dances in strobing light
Under the caliginous sky
they make their final descent
Hoarse screams abound
pungent smells all around
They peer through shuttered eyes
to ameliorate their darkened hearts
The C o m m e n c e m e n t
Far from the atmosphere
their spacesuits now linger near
The crimson door…
“Whataya working on, Mitch?” Mission Specialist Dubov said, startling him as he entered the centrifuge while tossing a ping pong ball up-and-down by the palm of his hand. “The crew says you’ve been a little despondent because of the new trajectory… Listen, it’ll only be another 3 days till we touchdown in the Pacific… lookin’ forward to a lap or two.”
“I’m sorry if I’m hindering spirits here, Dub, but I’m just looking for a little time away from…”
“Poetry, huh?” Dubov interrupted. “I used to write Olga poetry when we were going through tough times.” Dubov sat down at the table removing a quill pen from a nylon pouch. “The crew and I weren’t supposed to know either until we were home with our families. I’m sorry you had to find out the news from Haman… How far along was she?”
“Listen, take this pen and write Laurie in ink.” Dubov placed the pen down next to his laptop. “Whatever you’re wanting to say to her right now, may be distorted from the troubles we’ve had on this damn ship. Let’s take it slow, okay?
Oxygen level… depleting, the onboard Darwin 14X7200 communicated throughout the spacecraft.
“Mitch, the truth is, we’ve been in contact with Laurie through Houston and we’re quite aware of the communications you’ve been sending her over the last 48 hours. Now is not the time to give up goddamn it, she needs you—the crew needs you.”
“I won’t do it,” Mitch said shaking his head while preparing a chai tea in the mess hall. “They’re good people…with families.”
You’ve never cared for others Mitchel. What’s different?
Mitch fixed his stare on a binary system through the porthole—4 thousand light-years away—and for a moment thought of Laurie. He tried to rid his mind from, what it seemed like, an onslaught of deprecating language coming from Darwin. He saw the stars blink out one by one through the porthole until nothing was left but inhospitable darkness. This is nonsensical, he thought.
Moths? In seconds the porthole was awash with peppered moths frantically crawling on the outside pane.
It’s time Mitchel
“Propofol,” Chantel said. “He’ll be home before he knows it.” She took a vial from the case, filled a syringe then flicked it 3 times.
“We are well within code to administer the agent without consent if necessary,” Haman said, looking at Dubov with sudden confidence. “He’s a threat to us and a threat to himself… Once we dock at the station and make the necessary repair, we’ll initiate the anesthetic.”
“Do you think he’ll ever come to perceive his psychosis and that we need not play nice anymore?” Dubov asked.
Home is where the heart is…
Affixed, he stared at his blurred and battered reflection as rain pelted the paned glass window. Behind him, the slow, hypnotic, sound, of the tick, then the tock, from the old grandfather clock—unwavering.
A precipitous act, or perhaps in a brief moment of clarity, he toppled the wooden chair affixed to his ass onto the cold ceramic floor—his head now buoyant in a puddle of his own piss. He fixed his stare on the muddy footprints left by the 3 abductors, and with tenacity, removed the remaining rope that bound his arms.
“Laurie!?” he called out, but the rain was tumultuous and he barely made a whimper. His arms—having been repeatedly slashed by the intruders with a razor blade—buckled at the elbows under his weight. His lips, once again, tasting his own piss. He tried again.
“Lorrr?” he shouted, while using his knees and elbows in an effort to get out of his precarious position and get vertical again. Mission accomplished.
He stumbled his way down the hallway onwards to the staircase. This time alcohol-free, but still with a twist; a twisted-bloody fucking ankle. In succession and outré, the metal-framed wedding pictures from yesteryear fell from the walls smashing to the floor as he passed them by. Unfazed and determined, he pressed onwards to the stairs.
Well folks, spring has finally sprung… the radio sounded from the upstairs bedroom after brief static, Are you ready for it? Coming up at the top of the hour, meet Sandy Wilson, botanist, accomplished mother of 3, and on the best seller list: Meet your Greens—we’ll chat. [pause] I can use all the help I can get, Mel… [static]
And one more thing…
Oxygen level… depleting [laughter ensues—botanist recomposes herself]
Mitchel opened the bedroom door. A blood-soaked comforter; not so comforting. A handprint smeared across the washroom door in crimson hue. “We wish you’d turn back Mitchel,” Dubov said, sitting at the end of the bed, tossing a ping pong ball up-and-down by the palm of his hand. “There’s nothing more we can do. We’ve done everything we could to stop you, from you. But there’s something else going on in that head of yours… [he paused] the truth is Olga and I…”
Oxygen level… depleting
“Chantel’s here to administer the agent,” Dubov said changing the conversation. Her footsteps clacked on the staircase.
“It’s true?” Mitchel asked. “Laurie’s dead, too?” He again looked at the crimson door. “Now I understand why I haven’t received a response to my last enquiry.”
“Slit her wrists,” Dubov said, lowering his head and pointing to the washroom door. “Go ahead, Mitch…I understand…”
“Mitchel!” the others, now having arrived, shouted almost in unison.
He turned the handle bursting into the washroom.
They watched through the porthole, in silence, as Mitchel’s body slowly rotated, appearing smaller and smaller as he drifted farther and farther away into the cold, into the cold—dark universe.
A lottery player’s unprecedented act of kindness on Monday has left the residents of the small town of Anim in a state of bewilderment. Margaret Grady, 74, is no stranger to regular patrons and management at the small general store at the corner of Gordon and Main. When Grady isn’t home watching old Alice reruns on TV or feeding her cat highly questionable leftovers, she can be found at the general store infuriating other customers that wearily wait behind her. Once the cashier completed checking the plethora of her lottery tickets on Monday, Grady made for the exit then reached into her right coat pocket for her keys, wherein she discovered yet another handful of unchecked tickets.
“Y’know, I was just finashin’ pumping my gas and seen her turn ‘round again.” Patron, Clarence Rutherford, 38, tells Rational Reflection news. “It was like she’d just relieved herself by takin’ a big ol’ shit.”
Rutherford tells RR news that he tried to hustle his way past Grady to pay for his gas and get back to “wherever the fuck” he was going, but the years of Grady’s apparent baked goods abuse hindered his efforts. In an unexpected turn of events, Grady stepped aside allowing Rutherford to make a last dash towards the cashier where he threw down a sum of money for the gas.
When RR news asked Grady, why the change of heart?
“He’s a fine ass.”
Editor-in-Chief – Rational Reflection
In other news:
Sorrow as the days go by
She wipes a gentle tear from her eye
Like a lone busker on the street,
warmed by the sun then chilled by the sleet
It’s time to end this cold and somber beat
shadow usually in red
Like a lone busker on the street,
I will sing you my love song
By Ignatius Rutter
The Mustang rolled past the old country home at the corner of Gordon and Main—where a boy dressed in black tossed magenta coloured leaves in the air while his little sister methodically picked crabapples off a low hanging branch. Peter momentarily fixed his eyes on a makeshift sign barely secured to a dilapidated fence that read: KEEP OUT. The sun flickered through the trees. Violent flashes of light bounced off of Peter’s face as the car sped away. Odd, he thought.
Odd. The air tasted like burnt matchsticks. His hands began to tremble against the steering wheel, the noise coming from the radio became sluggish and indistinguishable from the hum from the 5 litre engine. Peter Peter Pumpkin eater! Images of schoolyard children staring at him from above as he violently shook from another epileptic seizure rushed his head. Had a life, now comes the Reaper!
Get up Peter!
“Mama? Papa?” The girls screamed. The stench of spilled gasoline filled the air. “Mama? Papa?” They circled the nearly crushed Lincoln Town car looking for signs of life. Both Clyde and Pricilla’s head drooped. Their chins resting peacefully on the seat belts still strapped across their chests. Blood from their crushed lower torsos soaked the seats beneath them. The engine purred on. 413,000 clicks of Lincoln reliability—Clyde would’ve been proud.
Peter Skirving lay prone in the milkweed. A Monarch fluttered its wings then vanished into the flora. Blood trickled down Peter’s chin in a zigzag formation as he tried to maneuver his body into a less vulnerable position
The girls approached Peter and kneeled beside him. They prayed for help. They prayed to God.
“I’m sorry… I’m so sorry,” Peter said extending his hands towards the girls.
“I have something exciting to show you,” Ana repeated while rubbing Peter’s shoulder. “Two lines!… Two lines! I’m pregnant!”
Peter Skirving lay prone in the milkweed. A Monarch fluttered its wings then vanished into the flora. Blood trickled down Peter’s chin in a zigzag formation as he tried to maneuver his body into a less vulnerable position. He would often find himself here, without understanding why at first. There was a fleeting sense of a comforting familiarity at this place. The voices repeated in mantra and the droning became louder as the girls got nearer.
Storm clouds gathered. Raindrops were now pelting down spreading the blood across Peter’s face. All the while, blood continued to trickle from a laceration just under his cheekbone. His legs failed him. His open-fractured legs were like lifeless stumps of dead wood, he could not leave this place. He will never leave this place. Feelings of dread and despair had overcome him.
“Ma-ma-ma-ma—PAH, Ma-ma-ma-ma—PAH,” the girls continued on in unison.
Crackling thunder and streaks of white lighting now filled the sky. “Hello, Peter…” the girls said simultaneously as they emerged in small steps from the shadows and eventually came into focus. “Wanna play?” They brandished their lustrous white fangs, that just a moment before, were concealed behind dark peculiar lips. A car passed by with some soulless occupant; its screaming horn slowly fading with its furthering distance. The girls swooped down, taking turns ripping away flesh from the prey that was once known as Peter Skirving.
“Peter, wake up!” Ana said storming out of the washroom. “You weren’t dreaming of those twins again, were you?” The ceiling fan above the bed made a rhythmic thwacking noise, the blades casting a mesmerizing moving shadow across the bedroom ceiling. Peter closed his eyes and sighed—then lit a cigarette. Ana went on, but knew enough to change topics: “I have something exciting to show you…”
16 Months Earlier
Ragtime music reverberated throughout the turn-of-the-century historic building. Children bobbed in disharmony in a yellow blow-up castle adjacent to where the twins were sitting. They sat expressionless on their pastel painted horses. Once the merry-go-round came to a stop, both Clyde and Pricilla motioned for the girls to exit the attraction. Clyde had earlier made an appointment with his cardiologist because of his failing health, and his appointment was now in jeopardy.
“It’s time to go Fiona… Leia,” he said, again motioning them to step down from their horses. The passers-by gawked at the two girls as most did within their proximity. Pricilla dressed the two every morning in matching attire, something she was destined to do for the remainder of her natural life—curse the devil! Since their infancy, the two girls have been incapable of caring for themselves: “an obvious intellectual development impairment,” said the doctors. They haven’t changed one bit in the 25 years since their birth.
Pricilla went up to the merry-go-round, grabbing each by the wrist and without a word, pulled them along to the parking lot to where the old Lincoln Town car sat in the morning sun.
Peter placed the coffee cup into the holder, spilling a bit of the hot liquid onto his lap during the process. He quickly dabbed the stain with an old rag he had stuffed in the glovebox. He was en-route to the big city to contest a parking infraction he had received earlier in the month. The sun hung low in the East as he made his way to the main road. He admired the beautiful autumn colours as he drove down the road. A plethora of mature trees graced both sides of the car—the sun peeked through the leaves every few seconds, at times nearly blinding him. The oldies channel blared on the radio; Peter sang along to Little Town Flirt, by Del Shannon, only stopping periodically to take a sip of his coffee…
“Look at all of those stars! Simply amazing, just amazing!” One by one, Ana removed the claws attached to her nightgown, then put Stella down on the cold-hard floor. She opened the drapes in one full swoop, revealing even more of the Milky Way. Stella fussed. “Oh shush, you silly little thing!” Ana dimmed the bedroom lights, then curled up with her knees to her chest by the windowsill. She gazed up into the distance, a shooting star streaked high above the silo: I wish to find love. For those suffering in the world to find peace. For God to…
“Why you still awake!?” Jimbo Donnelly shouted as he turned up the lights. A tear streamed down Ana’s cheek as the Milky Way faded away and the image of her father, holding onto a bottle reflected off the glass. The room filled with the voice of Peter Popoff from the television down the hall: “Got an addiction, Mathew Reid? May God STRIKE DOWN those demons from your life!…”
“And why is this animal up here?”
“No Daddy, please, please leave her be! You’re frightening me!”
“You’re just like your mother… wanna know something, Ana? You…were… an ac-cid-ent! We never really wanted you!
“And this animal… This vermin…”
“No daddy please don’t!”
Time to leave, sir
“You’ve highlighted your hair again! I love the colour,” Nancy Gomer said, chewing on a stick of bubble gum while twirling her auburn hair. “The girls and I are going to the baseball finale tonight, did ya hear?”
“I haven’t heard from anyone yet, but oh my goodness, it sure sounds like a lot of fun.” Laura Donnelly said, as the school bell rang to start another dreary Monday morning.
“Oh, and did ya hear, Suzy is now going steady with Ryan, they’re like the bestest of friends.”
The copy of Dorian Gray that Laura was carrying, slipped from her hand and fell to the hallway floor while they walked to class. Kelly Mullen, approached and snatched the book off the floor before Laura could reclaim it. Droves of students made their way down the stairs to get to their classrooms before the resentful Mr. Love began his rounds to herd the tardy. He was already close to fulfilling his quota for this evening’s detention.
“Hmmm, any love letters to my boyfriend in here, Laura?” Kelly asked with a smugness, only Helly-Kelly could muster. “Oh, and hiii Nancy, she said.
“Give it back, Kelly,” Laura, reached for the book.
“Make me bitch.”
Nancy continued before Kelly could go on: “So did you hear that the girls and I are going out for burgers and shakes on Friday, Laura? No, no you hadn’t, you hadn’t heard, because you’re a backstabbing bitch! That’s why, Laura!” Nancy chomped on her bubble gum, throwing Kelly a quick smirk, quite content with the artfulness of her attack!
The hallway echoed these words, but only in the confines of Laura’s own mind.
The impending river of blood to flow from Kelly’s head at the bottom of the stairs.
The thought of the heartless Mr. Love having to perform CPR on Kelly’s lifeless little body.
“Well, it all kinda seemed like a good idea at the time.”