jimagain

Rants & ramblings of the disaffected

Archive for the category “suspense”

The Devil in The Top Hat

A stranger steps out of the shadows in the night to accost a gentleman and his lady friend. The flickering glow of a street lamp casts the desperate scene in a surreal light. The intended victim is obviously a man of means and carrying a large bag, tightly grasping its handle. Apparently something valuable is inside. They are alone late at night meandering along a deserted cobble stone street near a shipyard. Not particularly smart of either of them; considering the hour is late, the fog heavy, and this is a crime-ridden area frequented by desperate men. The brute standing before them is brandishing a large caliber black powder pistol. A large knife is tucked in his waist band.

“Give me your money!” The demand, albeit lacking in eloquence, is simple and direct.

The traversing pair interrupted, immediately freeze. The lady in fear cowers behind the gentleman as he studies the menacing figure blocking their way. He grips his satchel a little more tightly. “A predictable request.” And then he adds in a more jocular tone peculiar for a man whose life is about to be cut short, “Are we to assume we are in some sort of peril?”

Not amused, the assailant points the muzzle of his weapon at them in response. “I too am a businessman,” he says. “And I propose to relieve you of that heavy bag you are carrying in exchange for sparing your life.” He points to the leather satchel in his grasp.

“It’s a viable offer but it would seem several assumptions have been made on your part, Sir. You assume because of my attire I am carrying a large sum of cash. And you assume it is we who are in peril and not yourself. Perhaps it would be naive of me to not anticipate that once I hand over my valuables, you nonetheless will kill me, leaving you at liberty to impose yourself on my fair young escort. After all she is a member of the weaker sex and with me out of the way you are at liberty to have your way with her? Is this not so?”

The man of the night grins toothily as he nods his large head, tipping his large top hat in a mocking gesture but in such a way as to not take his eyes off the prey. He is no novice to his trade.

The intended victim continues. “Now that we have established your intent let us dispense then with these assumptions. Since I may have arrived at the last hour of my life, I am curiously beset with an urge to negotiate with the devil in the top hat.” He then grinned and tipped his own top hat to his adversary. “I have a proposition to make you instead. I Sir, am a businessman, a merchant of sorts; not unlike yourself, since we both apparently deal in lost souls. Hence I have a counter offer to make you. What say you entertain my barter for your merriment? Suppose I were to offer you the objects of your desire but with one twist. In the course of this transaction, suppose we were to eliminate one integral part of your equation. I propose to give you my very large sum of cash as well as hand over my fair companion in full consent to the natural conclusion of the gratification of your urges. After all, the money is a goodly sum and she is very fair, a woman to fulfill your manly appetites. And all this is done without the commission of a crime on your part. In exchange, all I ask from you is that you to allow me to retain possession of this one paltry satchel with its …contents. Tonight, Sir, would appear to be your lucky night, would it not?”

The villain hesitates at the audacity of his victim, then counters.”And in the spirit of fair business, I propose a counter-offer; I will take your sum of cash, the girl, and the contents of that bag.” He fidgets, nervously brandishing the weapon. “It seems as if you have nothing left to barter with.”

“But I do, and with one remaining stipulation. If you allow me to retain my satchel then I will allow you to keep your soul. If you are unable, however, to carry out your transaction, then I hold your soul in default as collateral. Do you agree to my terms?”

This time the blood runs cold in the hasty assailant. “My soul?!!” For one brief moment he is seized with apprehension, as if now he is the one now being accosted. Valuable time has been lost and the thug is anxious to claim his bounty, a goodly nights haul by any means for a desperate man. He arms his weapon to broadcast the finality of his offer. “Hand them over, now!”

“Be that as it may,” he concedes. “Then may I present you with your newest acquisitions.” He slowly removes his wallet from his coat pocket and in one motion shoves it down the girl’s bodice. His mouth drops as he hands them both over in one move to the surprised thug. He grabs her, one burly hand grasping her petite wrist. That turns out to be a fatal mistake. She smiles coldly. As he reaches for the wallet, at the opportune moment, she strikes in one efficient lethal motion. A sharp knife she deftly procured from her nether garments quickly applied to his fifth rib, ends the robbery and his life. He collapses silently in a heap at their feet.

“It seems my friend, you made several assumptions tonight, all of which were wrong. It was you who needed protection …from her.” He reaches down to extract something that belongs to him from the would-be assailant. Reaching into the cadaver, he extracts a dark, shadowy object in the form of its previous owner, one that struggles to escape, like sheet in the wind. He placed the writhing entity inside the heavy bag he has been clutching. Reaching into his coat pocket, he retrieves a slip of paper which he presses into the palm of the recently deceased. He then tips his top hat to the fallen in a final gesture. “This, Sir, concludes our bargain. It has been a pleasure doing business with you.” Last seen, the pair step over the fresh corpse to continue their journey, disappearing in the shadows, reappearing at the next lamps’ dim glow.

The next morning…

… a crowd has gathered. The man leaning over the body lets out an audible gasp. “Here now, what’s this?!!

“What is it Inspector?”

“The eyes are gone from this one too! Ah! Another note,” he declares matter-of-factly as he reads out loud, “What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”

A Guide To The Perils Of The Multiverse

Beneath the cloak of the mundane and the routine, I have discovered a multiverse of incomprehensible multiplicity filled with the arcane and the obscure, inhabited by aberrant and anomalous phenomenon. What I have stumbled upon is no less than a bizarre underworld beneath our very noses lurking inside our own homes. Some will no doubt call me crazy, others will scoff, and a select enlightened few will grasp the significance of what I’m about to tell.

Read at your own risk. I fear you may never be the same. This is not for the squeamish; go and never return! Do your laundry, mow your grass, watch re-runs of Family Feud; go back to the comfort of your boring and mundane lives while you still can!

Not since the days when ships routinely sailed off the edge of a flat earth has something so ominous, so nefarious been revealed. In a time before recorded history, when ancient aliens visited our suspicious prehistoric progenitors, when knights fought off fire-breathing dragons indiscriminately ravaging entire villages, these tales all pale in comparison.

Malicious, foreboding, menacing…

Brace yourself!

Many bizarre discoveries have been discovered at great peril to the intrepid or the inadvertent…journey to the center of the earth, lost in space, becoming stranded in a parallel earth frequented by giant insects and voracious dinosaurs roaming vast unexplored jungles locked inside a hidden valley – in most cases I would be the guy that gets chased by the tyrannosaurus and eaten.

How can this be? The typical home contains a multiverse of the irrational and the inexplicable. Anomalies abound, such as hauntings, the lone missing sock, the empty sink mysteriously filled with dirty dishes, the un-ending laundry basket, the car keys that are never where you left them, children mysteriously teleporting in and out of your home…how else can you explain your children’s behavior when they suddenly turn into – gasp – teenagers…need I go on?!!

I speak of a dark and sinister place, an alternate reality, a parallel universe that exists inside my own house…and perhaps yours as well.

Dread discoveries, inconspicuous phenomenon occur routinely around us . . .you may not be aware your attic might be occupied with goonies – did I just hear a thud in the attic followed by giggling??? Maybe aliens have burnt yet another crop circle in your unmown lawn . . .perhaps a grotesque wrinkled old troll lives under your footbridge…excuse me. Honey?!! I found your Aunt Ethylene – pause – under the bridge in the backyard on her walker. Sorry for the interruption. Now where was I? Oh yes! It all happened innocently enough, going about the mundane affairs of life when….wait! Is that Twilight Zone theme music I hear in the background???

Under the bed is a parallel universe…

It’s a dark place, where ‘dark matter’ of the universe fills, a veritable black hole that sucks objects and small pets into its clutches, never to be seen again.

“My sandals are under there,” she tells me.

And she expects me to reach my hand under the bed? Fear of being pulled under never to be seen crosses my mind or – gasp – draw back a nub of once what used to be my arm. Is that the theme music from Jaws I hear???

“Oh, sure,” I say “let me be the sacrificial offering.” Suddenly I feel so…expendable. not only can she survive without me, she would be much happier than she is…and I’m not sure I like the prospect of her being so happy after my terrible and gory demise.

“Wuss,” she calls me.

Nope. I’m not falling for that one either. They always resort to tactics of coercion to overrule your common sense. That’s how they prod the curious but reluctant kid to stick his head inside a crashed alien space ship, right before the aliens snatch him. Not me.

Suddenly I remember all those irrational fears of monsters lurking beneath my bed, the ones that came out at night, when the lights were turned off which is why for many years I refused to sleep without a night-light or my stuffed monkey to protect me. Finally my wife scolded me for being an overgrown ninny.

Whatever you do, don’t look under the bed!

“Uh, uh,” I say. I’ve seen this before in most intros into horror movies; they start off with innocent endeavors by unsuspecting persons in peril unknown to them while the rest of the movie audience screams & squirms in their seats, hoping to catch grody scenes of gory dismemberment between tightly clutched eyelids.

“Oh, sure! Something horrible happens to me and you collect the life insurance. You stick your arm under there.”

Anybody got a broom handle?

Still don’t take me seriously? You’re talking to a budding astrophysicist here. I watched too many episodes of Star Trek to be unaware of the perils. Thanks to great scientific minds like Spock, Data,, and the grand guru of future knowledge, Gene Roddenberry. “What?!! You were thinking Carl Sagan? Isaac Asimov?!! How many episodes of Star trek did they write? See my point?”

Have you noticed that Kirk, Mc Coy, Spock…never get vaporized by the alien. It’s always those unnamed security guys they beam down with them. They must have worn the shirts that said, “Disintegrate me, I’m the underling!” In every episode, when they beamed down a couple of security guys on some alien planet, I immediately knew some terrible thing would happen to them and they wouldn’t be returning to the Enterprise. It was some immutable law of sci-fi plot writing.

I was not a wuss. I’m wary.

Once a crazy unsubstantiated theory that rapidly gained credibility after initially being rejected by disbelieving scientists; dark matter is now an accepted fact despite that it sounds like some ‘corny’ phrase invented from the fertile imagination of a 1920’s sci-fi comic book writer.

Dark matter exists in the universe. We know this because it neither absorbs nor emits light and therefore is not detectable by normal scientific means available. The inescapable evidence is that there is no evidence to explain the discrepancy, when the relationship between the mass versus the rotational speeds from galaxies light years away is calculated. Theories make convenient bridges to gap the unknown with plausible speculation. If this makes absolutely no sense to you, it’s because you aren’t intelligent enough to believe in something you can’t prove, therefore you can’t be an astrophysicist.

Everybody knows that black holes suck light in, never to escape, which explains why my flashlight never works. Think about it. The batteries are always dead because the black hole sucks the light right out of it as soon as I turn it on. Battery manufacturers know this but don’t tell you so you will keep buying their products.

And what about black holes? Rotating gravitational vortexes of indescribable density, compressed elements so heavy they implode upon themselves until all the normal empty space in atoms has been expelled, leaving incredibly dense matter with exponentially strong gravitational forces to suck you in…and you want me to stick my hand under there?

If the 83 per cent of the universe is filled with dark matter, you can’t tell me there’s not some of it lurking under my bed!

“There is nothing you can say that will make me do it.”

“Fine.” She threatens. “I’ll go buy me a new pair at the…” I interrupt. “Grab me by my feet,” I tell her. “I’m going in.”

Shoe stores are another black hole of the universe, sucking all the money out of my wallet She goes just to look and returns with twelve more pair of shoes that don’t fit. And every time women go there, something happens. The same person never comes back from those places; they exchange personalities with a myriad of denizens of feminine persona that inhabit those places. Think of it like an ectoplasmic bus stop, a busy terminal for incorporeal  passengers in transit. It’s an alien body snatching, murrain-seizing portal where roaming spirits randomly quantum leap from one estrogen inhabited corporeal habitat to another…which explains why you end up with a different wife every time she returns from shoe shopping. I’ve been married twenty-eight years to the same woman, whom I barely know. Her identity has quantum-leaped into so many alternate personas, every time I think I know her, she changes.

So what is a woman’s fascination with new shoes? Allow me to explain. Remember the cartoon where Elmer Fudd’s personality changed whenever his hat changed? That’s what happens when women change shoes. Don’t laugh. Those Looney Tunes cartoons were a carefully encrypted encyclopedia of female psychology delivered to mankind by a sympathetic alien culture that visited us in eons past. Left to mankind to help us decode the enigma of the estrogen-impaired gender. Watch these episodes often, let its wisdom sink into your soul. As you observe how the other side of the gene pool think and behave, you too may become enlightened.

Don’t call me a coward. Call me wary! The multiverse is no place for the squeamish or the naive.

The Creaking Door

The Uninvited Come to Visit

Few sounds, so completely normal, sound so completely unnatural as a creaking door. Ominous. Foreboding. Eerie.

Here is the scenario; a man is working alone late at night when, for no apparent reason the door slowly creaks open. No one enters the room, there is no obvious physical cause that presents itself to explain how it happened. It just happened. I was that man and what happened afterward has forever blurred the distinction in my mind between the natural word and the unseen. A seemingly innocuous event would have not arrested my attention as this but this was no ordinary happening.

I suppose to a rational mind this would appear to be no conundrum, no dark sinister event but instead a simply explainable one. Before this night I thought myself to be such a person, not given to imagination or superstition but instead a possessor of a skeptical mind that investigated any apparent anomaly before flying off to a myriad of hasty conclusions. You see, I believe that in the physical universe every cause has effect, every action – reaction; but I have since learned that in the dimensionless realm of the non-physical, exist things which have no cause or explanation – only phenomenon.

I fancy myself to be a scientific man and logical. Surrounding myself with laws of physics which admittedly do not always function as I expect. I take refuge in the thoughts of men smarter than I. Tonight the theories and textbooks are no refuge. Hiding behind books and theories and a vocabulary of scientific terms, these primal fears still lurk under my bed or dwell in my closet. I thought I had evicted him a long time ago but beneath the facade of the rational, fear still resides as a tenant that refuse to leave, in some deep dark corner of my thoughts.

Only two hours before, all was bright. The world was a logical place. Then streaks of pastel hues slowly gave way to darkened skies. At first I watched as the twilight fell, the sun hung suspended between day and night. The sun locked in struggle between light and dark lay slowly dying. Struggling, it succumbed to the inevitable overwhelming, smothering blanket of night that soon will grip the planet under its cloak of blackness. Only slivers of light reflected off the moon’s surface prevent the entire earth from sinking into the empty black sea of night. The last stabs of light racing from 97 million miles away careen off the hemispherical horizon across a twilight canopy and then… darkness has fallen. Outside a dog barks in the distance. Leafless trees, like suspects apprehended in individual acts of felony; throw up their limbs as arms in surrender, against the spot light of the waning moon.

Of every sensation I’ve encountered, the sound of a door turning on un-oiled hinges as it slowly creaks open seems an invite, a portal into the unknown. I fear my door has become an unguarded passageway into the world of flesh and blood I inhabit, where visitors cross over to co-habitate my world.

Seemingly this coinciding of day and night has opened the door to a host of the dark domain to visit. Enter the denizens of the dark; under the canopy of inky blackness they are now free to flit about from shadow to shadow, stalking and lurking to their dark hearts content. These animate non-entities feed off fear, mocking the palisades of logic we hastily throw up in defense and then cower behind. Shapeless visitors roam and walk about at will. Tonight the world is their playground, we are their zoo as they stare and gawk and laugh. Most are mildly curious, content to be spectators watching, observing their pitiful counterparts of flesh and blood as we dawdle about. Some are a bit more mischievous; a thump or a bump in the night. Others unleash sheer moments of unbridled terror from random, unexplained events; knocking things over, objects falling, creaking steps, the clack of shutters banging, curtains flailing wildly from an open window. These are the physical entities they can control; the tools of their trade of terror. Outside I hear the wind moan and howl as gusts hurtle leaves wildly about as projectiles, dashing them against bricks or scraping them loudly against the concrete.

Working late at night, alone in a room with no one but a vivid imagination only elevates the feeling of dread that I am not alone; someone or something unseen has entered the room, is there with me. But who ..or what? And what is the intent of the visitor? Evil or malicious? Perhaps merely to frighten? My skin crawls, starting with a tingling up the back like a thousand tiny ants marching up my spine. Hair follicles stand at erect attention. Shallow heavy breaths flee my pounding chest… for a moment the entire universe freezes in suspense. pupils strain to see the invisible as my eyes dart rapidly back and forth… still nothing. But is it nothing …or some thing that light does not reflect? Fear grips my mind, The suspense of the unknown & the untouchable is palpable, akin to a thousand pin pricks prickling the skin, spreading from head to toe. As if an unseen visitor has entered the room; my heart stops, my ears lock-in to the faintest sound. my neck cranes, my head turns, and wide eyes stare to see …nothing. There is nothing there! Instead of providing relief, a pervading sense of indescribable fear replaces it, makes it seems all the more foreboding. A visible foe no matter how formidable is not nearly so fearful as one unseen. Has someone come to join me tonight?

I tell myself, this is not the case. Frantically, the rational mind searches for a rational answer. I too began searching but soon gave way to a desperate…groping; grasping at straws of logic. The obvious conclusion is the wind blew it open. Isn’t it? My conscious mind has a logical explanation for everything; yet my subconscious seems to perceive a different reality. On a level I am consciously unaware of, my subconscious knows a multi-faceted level of reality that my rational mind refuses to accept.

Inside my room, the opened door half ajar leaves a gaping hole of uncertainty. A long pregnant pause followed suddenly by a burst of noise; the sound of wildly flailing, thrashing, and banging erupt from inside the hallway! My heart races wildly beating in response before I recognize the sound of shutters and curtains driven by the wind. It is a long time before I return to a semblance of normality. I grin nervously, feeling infinitely foolish as I concede to myself that I’m a bit too skittish.

And then I see the intruder inside my office. How I had not noticed him sooner?!! There inside my room, a light burns but outside my reflection stops short at the window pane. A ghostly apparition that resemble my self stares back at me in dread; as if a soulless entity masquerading as me glares back at me like a sullen spectator. I stare at myself staring back at me. I cannot see out, whoever is out there can easily see inside. Perhaps even now is watching me as I slink in silent fear. Is it my reflection …or my uninvited guest?!!

What does this mean? Am I afraid of my self; a dark, inner existence of a baser, lower form of me that lurks within waiting to wrest free, as a modern day Mr. Hyde and overpower my conscious self? Or is it a fear of another creature that masquerades as me? Behind the facade of normalcy might be a malignant malovent being that maquerades much like a virus cloaks itself in the cells of it’s host? Who can tell?

I can only wait until the morning comes, when reason returns, and day prevails.

The Devil in The Top Hat

A stranger steps out of the shadows in the night to accost a gentleman and his lady friend. The man is carrying a large bag, tightly grasping it’s handle. Apparently something valuable is inside. They are alone late at night meandering along an alley near a shipyard. Not particularly smart of either of them; considering the hour is late, the fog heavy, and this is a crime-ridden area frequented by desperate men. The brute standing before them is brandishing a large caliber black powder pistol. A large knife is tucked in his waist band.

“Give me your money!” The demand, albeit lacking in eloquence, it is simple and direct.

The traversing pair interrupted, immediately freeze. The gentleman studies the menacing figure blocking their way. He grips his satchel a little more tightly. “A predictable request.” And then he adds, “Are we to assume we are in some sort of peril?”

He points his weapon at them in response. “I too am a businessman,” he says. “I propose to relieve you of that heavy wad of bills you are carrying in exchange of course for sparing your life.” He points to the leather satchel in his grasp.

“It’s a viable offer but it would seem several assumptions have been made on your part, Sir. You assume because of my attire I am carrying a large sum of cash. And you assume it is we who are in peril and not yourself? Perhaps it would be naive of me to not anticipate that once I hand over my valuables, you nonetheless will kill me, leaving you at liberty to impose yourself on my fair young escort. After all she is a member of the weaker sex and with me out of the way you are at liberty to have your way with her? Is this not so?”

He grins toothily as he nods his large head, tipping his large top hat in mocking gesture but in such a way as to not take his eyes off the prey. He is no novice to his trade.

He continues. “Now that we have established your intent let us dispense then with these assumptions. Since I may have arrived at the last hour of my life, I am curiously beset with an urge to negotiate with the devil in the top hat.” He then grinned and tipped his own hat to his adversary. “I have a proposition to make you instead. I Sir, am a businessman, a merchant of sorts; not unlike yourself, since we both apparently deal in lost souls. Hence I have a counter offer to make you. What say you entertain my barter for your merriment? Suppose I were to offer you the objects of your desire but with one twist. In the course of this transaction, suppose we were to eliminate one integral part of your equation. I propose to give you my very large sum of cash as well as hand over my fair companion in full consent to the natural conclusion of the gratification of your urges. After all the money is a goodly sum and she is very fair, a woman to fulfill your manly appetites. And all this is done without the commission of a crime on your part. In exchange, all I ask from you is for you to allow me to retain possession of this one paltry satchel with its …contents. Tonight, Sir, would appear to be your lucky night, would it not?”

The villain hesitates, then counters.”And in the spirit of fair business, I then propose a counter-offer; I will take your sum of cash, the girl, and the contents of that bag.” He fidgets, nervously brandishing the weapon. “It seems as if you have nothing left to barter with.”

“But I do, and with one remaining stipulation. If you allow me to retain my satchel then I will allow you to keep your soul. If you are unable, however, to carry out your transaction, then I hold your soul in default as collateral. Do you agree to my terms?”

This time the blood runs cold in the hasty assailant. “My soul?!!” For one brief moment he is seized with apprehension, as if now he is the one now being accosted. Valuable time has been lost and the thug is anxious to claim his bounty, a goodly nights haul by any means. He arms his weapon to broadcast the finality of his offer. “Hand them over, now!”

“Be that as it may,” he concedes. “Then may I present you with your newest acquisitions.” He removes his wallet and her petticoat. His mouth drops as he hands them both over to the surprised thug. He grabs her, one burly hand grasping her petite wrist, and then the wallet. That turns out to be a fatal mistake. She smiles coldly. As he reaches for the wallet, at the opportune moment, she strikes in one efficient lethal motion. A sharp knife she deftly procured from her nether garments quickly applied to his fifth rib, ends the robbery and his life. He collapses silently in a heap at their feet.

“It seems my friend, you made several assumptions tonight, all of which were wrong. It was you who needed protection …from her.” He reaches down to extract something that belongs to him from the would-be assailant; his soul. Reaching into the cadaver, he extracts a dark, shadowy object in the form of it’s previous owner, one that struggles and moves about like a sheet in the wind. He placed the writhing entity inside the heavy bag he has been clutching. Reaching into his coat pocket, he retrieves a slip of paper which he presses into the palm of the deceased. He tips his top hat to the fallen in a final gesture. “This, Sir, concludes our bargain. It has been a pleasure doing business with you.” Last seen, the pair step over the fresh corpse to continue their journey, disappearing in the shadows, reappearing at the next lamps’ dim glow.

The next morning…

… a crowd has gathered. The man leaning over the body lets out an audible gasp. “Here now, what’s this?!!

“What is it Inspector?”

“The eyes are gone from this one too! Ah! Another note,” he declares matter-of-factly. He reads out loud, “What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”

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