The Lure

He was potential turned kinetic. With those few furious actions he silenced not only Eric, but the gathering crowd of his peers. He stopped and sat still for a moment, in shocked contemplation.

Is this how Kirk felt? he thought, thinking back to the Captain’s fight with that Gorn warrior. Somehow, even without the green reptilian suit, Eric felt like much more real of a monster. Ken didn’t know how to feel about this sudden turn of events; he had never acted violently before. He felt flush with power. Conquest is easy. Control is not.

At the end, Eric had went from aggressor to defender. With that last blow, his shielding hands fell limp to the ground. Ken stood. “What the hell are you looking at?!” he screamed at the crowd. “I just wanted to go home!” He felt tears welling up under his glasses. He yanked his head around, desperately looking for any sign of understanding from his classmates. He saw only silence.

Ken ran from that stillness. He ran into the woods, where the rustling wind and bird sounds refilled the void in his ears. He ran until his gasping overwhelmed him. He dropped to the ground, finding comfort in the dead leaves. When he had finally regained control, he realized that it had become dark. His watch read 4:12 PM. He punched in some calculations on it to be sure it was still working and the beep of each button press echoed and warped into the forest around him.

He glanced back up and shook as he saw the form now before him. He cautiously backed up to a nearby tree, squinting and straining to make out who it was that had appeared so suddenly. Even though the figure was maybe ten feet in front of Ken, it was wholly nondescript. “Wh-who are you?” Ken stuttered, too afraid to waste time cleaning his glasses.

A thick, accented female voice responded slowly, “I saw what you did.” As the words slipped out of her mouth, Ken felt each one crawl across his skin with a thousand tiny legs.

“I had no choice!” Ken retorted desperately. “I don’t know what else to do! Cretins like Eric only understand power!”

“Is that what you would call what you did?”

“Yes!”

“Do you think that your ‘power’ will stop him?”

“I-I don’t know,” Ken admitted, feeling a little more hopeless than before.

“I can help.” she whispered. “I can give you power. I can energize you to face that boy again.”

Ken felt his stomach drop through the floor. Each of her words seemed to clasp and pull him downward. This does not sound good. He had read countless books that started with corrupting power. He knew that if even whole fellowships struggled to contain it, he didn’t stand a chance. But he also knew that he was done with Eric and his goons, and that after he stood up to them today, tomorrow would be even worse. I can’t stand another day of them.

“Okay,” he responded resolutely. “Show me.”

“Good. Follow me,” the figure stated as she turned and drifted through the forest. Ken followed.

Townsend

It was relentlessly silent. Even the ever-present Autumn breeze seemed to be waiting with bated breath. Countless berries and petals twinkled in the cool moonlight, floating in a vast sea of underbrush, anchored in silence to the dirt floor. The trees rose, cathedral-like, their tops stretching unfathomably in the dark to become one with the night sky. As I craned my neck back to take in as much of the canopy as possible, I felt the ground dematerialize and shift under my feet. I volunteered myself to the thicket and felt the leaves and branches whipping past me; neither supporting nor hindering my fall. I stared into that limitless canopy and watched it rushing away from me. The vast openness of sky left me. I knew the sky wasn’t for me, but I felt saddened. As the weight of the ground shifted its way around and above me the substance of my new surroundings felt constricting but comfortable. There was possibility in the earth that the indefinite sky could never understand.

But I missed it already.

The vastness of the sky felt like possibilities. The sky does not understand limits. But there is no material of substance in the sky, nothing to create with. Now, visionless and muted I felt creation suffocating me. In my time on the surface, the dirt fell beneath me. I tread on it without question. Now that I was immersed it felt overwhelming in its breadth and depth. I felt lost as to where to start.

I found myself buried deep. I wriggled and shifted until I felt some modicum of control. I felt determined to shape that which had always rested beneath me and dedicated myself to the Earth. I brought to bear my full might to compress and mold a space for myself. After some timeless days I was finally able to stand. As I continued my digging the Earth seemed to suddenly open for me. Still blind, I nearly toppled over myself into a pit. Groping out through this portal I could feel nothing but open air. I convinced myself that I could see the faintest glimmer of light. Trusting, I stretched a leg through and found purchase below. I lowered down cautiously and found myself standing on a small ledge. I could see a series of outcroppings that looked deliberately placed to lead me down into the darkness so I followed them. As I climbed, the faint light steadily grew.

After what felt like days of descending, I finally reached the bottom of an immense subterranean ravine. I stared upwards and started to feel that familiar feeling; that sense of dizzying wonder. I began to regret my decision to dedicate myself to the Earth. With a deep breath I regrounded myself. I turned slowly in place, taking in every detail of these new surroundings. I was standing on the floor of a cavernous ravine. I quickly became aware that I was standing in a stream as the water soaked through my shoes. Dirt walls speckled with myriad stones and pebbles shot up into the heavens. I wondered for the first time how deep I actually was. I stretched my arms out and with a little movement I could run my hands through the dirt on either side. I could now see the source of my light: Thousands of tiny phosphorescent mushrooms pulsed in a royal, majestic lavender. My eyes devoured every speck of light they could. As they slowly traced their way along the walls I could see the cave stretch for hundreds of yards in both directions before the light faded again to blackness. Even though I had only two directions to go, I felt desperately lost.

I closed my eyes, turned a few times, and started walking. I lost track of time and direction as I walked, but after some short time I stumbled across what looked like a tunnel dug off at an odd angle from the ravine. It stood about six feet tall and looked very roughly carved into the cliff side. A large quantity of dirt was piled up at the entrance. I decided to follow the tunnel. I ducked slightly to enter, the loose shifted dirt springing slightly underfoot as I slumped my way down the tunnel. As I walked I became more and more aware of the sound of digging ahead of me. It was loud enough I felt sure that I should have heard it at the tunnel entrance. My brain was in a kind of disoriented stasis, so I felt I must have just overlooked it. I quickened my pace, eager to see what was ahead.

With the light of the mushrooms far behind, I ran straight into the hindquarters of a large furry animal. It grumped loudly as I sprung backwards into the loose earth. I could hear it working heavily to shift itself around to face me, clearly longer than the tunnel was wide. As soon as the commotion had calmed down, it seemed to take a moment to sniff loudly, trying to make out what had run into it. I then felt its wet snout scoop me up to my feet as it started to barrel forward, using its face to push and nudge me along the tunnel, clearly trying to excavate the intruder to its operation. I could barely keep up with its speed, constantly finding myself tumbling over into the dirt then scrambling onto my feet to save myself from a trampling death.

When we reached the entrance to the tunnel again it gave me a firm shove and I went head over heels into the ravine’s creek with a splash. I fully expected it to either attack or retreat back down its tunnel the way it came, but it stood for a long while, examining me in the faint light. I returned the favor, and took note of the beast’s features. It had a thin pink snout, covered in a velvety black fur and wreathed with hundreds of whiskers all around. I could barely make out its beady eyes under its thick fur and it had no ears to speak of. The thing’s front paws were heavily clawed and nearly as massively broad as the girth of the creature itself. It seemed to decide that I was of no real danger, and settled down at the opening to its tunnel. It continued to eye me curiously. I reached out a hand to test it and it continued to sit comfortably staring at me, so I ran my hands through the fur on its snout and face. I decided then that “it” was a “he” and named him Townsend. He seemed friendly and leaned into my hand as I pet him for a while. I brushed some dirt off a large stone by Townsend and sat down. Out of a curious hope, I tried to talk to him, but he merely blinked his beady eyes at me and made some soft grumbly sounds in return.

After a few minutes of this, I told Townsend goodbye and started off down the ravine again, the same direction I had been traveling. I could hear the heavy splashing of him following me. I was glad to have some company, even if it was just a mute giant mole.

The Thing

The thing climbed out of my ear while I was watching an episode of The Office. There I was, eating some chicken nuggets, when I suddenly felt something wriggling deep within my skull. Over the course of about 7 minutes, I could feel the thing work its way from the center of my head cavity to my left ear. After about another 3 minutes it fell with a slick thud onto my desk.

It looked at first like a worm; elongated and pale in a translucent yellowing pink. As I stared at it though, it become clear that the immediately visible portion of this creature was merely a sac: Some kind of soft embryo or egg. As I leaned in to peer closer I could see an undulating movement and the dancing shadows of hundreds, maybe thousands, of tiny legs all in a row, moving within this thing. It pulsated and churned with a sort of unnatural charm.

I felt a kinship with it. I was not at all shocked to see it sitting in a sticky puddle on my desk. I did, however, feel an intense shame. Somehow I had created this thing out of my head. I knew that if someone else were to have witnessed it, they would not have seen the fascinating, miraculous creature for what it was, but some purulent parasite. I would be forced to either defend it as my creation, or condemn it as some freakish fluke.

I do not know what it is to become, but it is beautiful in a deeply unsettling way. I have decided to nurture it. It is unlike anything I have ever presented to the world, but I now think that’s because I have never been brave enough. Maybe it is not ready to see the light of day yet, but when it is I am sure someone else will find it beautiful as well.

Kylyn

Hibernation

I took him home and he slept. I laid him in a corner of the yard, sheltered beneath a mighty pine. I covered him with a heavy blanket then came back inside and shut the door. I could hear him snoring from my living room. For nearly a month he slept. Or, at least I thought he did. After a few weeks of restful slumber, there were times that I could hear him stirring, but I chose to ignore him. He had been so calm that I hoped he would simply return to that state if left unbothered. There was still a large part of me that was fearful.

By the time that I did check on him, it was clear he had needed my attention much sooner. I thought he had tamed, but he was still feral. He had been plucked out from his domain and exposed. Without follow-up care he grew resentful. He had been living off the plentiful apple trees in our back yard, but clearly hungered for something more substantial. I could tell that he blamed me for his discomfort. I gladly took ownership. He was righteously angry.

I fed him. I made sure it was clear to both him and myself that I was remorseful. Even though we could not communicate directly, I could feel him calm.

He was fiercely independent, but I had uprooted him. I now have an active responsibility in his development. With him here in my backyard I can no longer be in denial. I can no longer turn a deaf ear to that howling in the distant woods.

Kylyn

Understanding the Beast

There was a certain forlorn quality to his call. As I stepped out of my car I expected to see him in some state of debilitation, but he was not. He sat leaning against a great myrtle just off the roadside; far enough from the highway that I would not have noticed him if it wasn’t for that call. My glasses are obsolete, so it took me far longer than it could have to establish what I was seeing. As I discerned he sat patiently as if waiting for me.

I am quite a tall man myself, but he was taller. What I first saw as a long brown jacket, perhaps to protect against the growing wind, was actually a thick coat of fur that covered him head to toe. What I first saw as sunglasses, perhaps to protect his eyes from the unfettered spreading sun, were actually thick set eyes under a heavy brow. He sat with his knees tucked to his chest but an expectantly rigid back. He had an inhuman stare.

He called out again. I wasn’t sure anymore if he was calling to me. He seemed now to be staring off toward the road, aimlessly beckoning. I decided to approach him regardless. The noise he made was unlike anything I’d heard before. My mind raced as I tried to file it somewhere among the many noises in my memory. Perhaps something from a movie? Some sound described in text? In person it seemed alien beyond comprehension, and it defied categorization. I needed to better know its source.

As I continued to approach he began to take notice. He slowly moved up into a crouch, but did not shift from his place under that great tree. When I did not falter in my advance he stood tall. He absolutely towered over me and seemed to unfold and expand into a terrifying figure, hoping to formalize the relationship between us in no uncertain terms.

It was exactly in this position that I could see him the clearest. What I first saw as an animal body under thick feral fur, was actually a familiar human figure and proportions. What I first saw as brutal beast-like eyes, had began to show me fear.

I took him home with me that day. I agreed to co-habitate with that thing, that most would call “it” but I insist on calling “him.” I have yet to work out the details, but I know he at least deserves my respect. I don’t know that I’ll ever fully comprehend him.

Still figuring it out as I go,

Kylyn

A Dream

She came to me in a dream. I don’t mean that in some cliched implication of prophecy. She was no avatar of long lost love. I am perfectly happy with the one that didn’t get away. Even so, she was someone that once meant something to me. A good friend, from a time that I had far more ambition and dreams. I don’t dream much these days. I sleep fully grounded in reality, as if some part of me is enforcing on myself a tether to the concrete.

But there I was, walking across a college campus. It was some intermixture of campuses (campi?) past, the kind of place that exists only in your sleep. As I walked along my little chunk of quad, floating in some indescribed aether, she approached me. Not quite a singular persona, but some allegorical aggregate of friends past. It was as if for a moment I lived again in that space: In that discrete 6 week chunk of summer on that campus so long ago. She was a friend, a fountain of support at a time in my life that I thought I was an island.

In my dream it was as if we had not seen each other in some time. The surroundings were the same, but we were different, like some temporally displaced reunion. With a grateful embrace time scrunched and shuffled until that spacious disparity between us dissolved. I wondered why it had taken us so long to reconnect. I have not talked to her since that summer long ago.

At the time I didn’t realize the effect that those people had on me. I barely held onto them when I had them, so when it was time to say goodbye they easily slipped through my grasp. Looking back, I can see how they affected me; how those people shaped me and propelled me forward. We had yearbooks at that camp, and mine are over-filled with genuine well wishes and memories. At the time I was cynical. Those messages seemed contrived. Reading them now creates for me a new canon. At the time I created a reality for myself where I was confident I was just misunderstood.

I was the one with the misunderstanding.

I realized how much I miss those people. I don’t consider myself someone who has regrets, but I seem to have forgot that for a bit this morning.

With 20/20 hindsight,

Kylyn

The Gap

I stood at the cliff face afraid to look down. I expected that I would see an unfathomable void; a bottomless pit with no equal. I expected that I would stare into its depths and know some form of nihilistic terror. I expected that if I looked I would lose my nerve.

I did glance down. I couldn’t help myself. It was an involuntary reaction, almost instinctual in feel. It confused me. There was the bottom, almost more visible than the back of my own outstretched hands. I could gather up all the details in my mind and piece it into a concrete reality. It seemed wholly mundane, and yet it terrified me. Probably more than that bottomless pit, it dropped the floor of my stomach until it mirrored those expectations.

I could feel the actuality of that ground nearly drag me over the edge. There was a comfort in that bottomless pit. A reassurance that if I stepped back and walked away I would be justified. Now I would just seem like a coward. That known quantity carried with it a burdensome expectation. Under such conditions a logical person would act, and I am a logical person. Right?

I couldn’t do it. Well, more accurately I could have, but I did not. The pressure felt too great and the stakes too high, so I folded and walked away. There was no one there to judge me but I could handle that myself.

Maybe in time I will build a bridge.

-Kylyn

Day 15 – The Bully

I’ve grown sluggish. I would have been prepared before but I wasn’t this time. I don’t know if you could even call it an ambush with the leisurely, telegraphed approach he took. I was too distracted. Too comfortable. It was easier to pretend that I was safe. He didn’t even bother hiding.

I defended myself but I was too cowardly. I fled when I could have stood my ground: Stared deep into his glare and howled in turn. I would have been swept up again into that cycle. But which is better, to be bold or meek? Either way I didn’t stand a chance. I thought I did. I stared back, but when his gaze did not falter mine did. So I ran. Surrounded by a sea of good, strong people I ran. In that moment I prefered solitude to support.

Even though I was able to salvage the rest of today, even though I am comfortable and safe, I am still shaken. I still have work to do.

Kylyn

Day 13 – Tame

I can feel him out there. Wherever I am, he seems to also be. At home I feel like I catch little glimpses of him moving outside my window. At work I feel like he’s lingering off past the tree line, waiting. I don’t quite know what he’s waiting for.

Normally I would go try to shoo him off. We would start yelling and screaming and in the end I would be exhausted and knowing he would be back. It doesn’t seem worth my effort anymore. It’s not worth being angry at him. He’s broken. I am too, but in my own distinct ways. I wouldn’t be suprised to find him in the records at my job. A petulent kid, neglected for too long. Pushed away and never given the attention he needed.

Now he is grown. Oh how he has grown. I believed him to be a monster, but that discredits his own struggle. There is a portion of responsibility that exists outside him, that he can’t be held responsible for. So I let him lurk. I understand he means no harm. Like some wild creature he is gauging and testing. Perhaps within time he can be tamed.

Chair hoisted,

Kylyn

Day 10/11 – The Fortress

There it was again. I had found it many times before, each time in a new location, but every discovery felt new. Here I was again. Standing in a clearing in the woods. Only it wasn’t in the clearing. It was far off in the underbrush, almost camouflaged, as if someone had placed it there in secret, as if I wasn’t meant to find it. I felt a little bitter at whoever had placed it; frustrated that they felt it needed hiding. It had taken a lot of determined meandering to find it again. It wasn’t the kind of thing that you could search for. It defied intention.

But here it was.

It was a thing of simple construction: Some sticks leaned on each other–supporting each other–lashed together and covered with brush. Yet in this simple construction it was magnificently inviting. It was a thing of beauty and practical craftsmanship. Although it was hidden in the dense underbrush, I could see what looked like deer trails leading off towards it. As I looked closely I could see a dozen or more trails, coursing outwards as rays from this fortress. I picked the closest one and followed it.

I walked this trail for several minutes. It was much longer than I expected. As I walked the adjacent trails seemed to fade off into the distance, leaving my singular lone trail. I felt as if I was the only one in this vast forest. I stopped for a drink of water but realized that I had dropped my pack in the clearing. I decided to leave it there.

When I arrived the fortress was empty. I stood for a moment, back hunched under the low ceiling like some grey wizard, before I sat. The floor was a simple dirt floor, blended with pine needles tracked in by someone’s shoes. I bent down, arms spread, and gathered up the dirt and needles and formed and packed them into a bed. It held strong in the middle of the fortress. I lay down and slept.

I slept most of that day before returning home to finish the things I needed to do. Today I feel rested. It is my first day back to work from vacation. A great dread started yesterday, but I was able to lay it to rest. Today I feel well.

In wellness,

Kylyn