What is mathemafiction?

Saturday, October 31, 2009

October drabbles - 31

They say the fabric stretches thin one night a year and think it’s those in graves that rise to haunt with curious rage. But I wait here, imagined fear on brightly painted page. I look into your eyes. Don’t close the book.

Time passes. Ticking clock. D’you hear? Just wait. Don’t close the book. The last bell tolls.

That’s when I rise from paper, freed by fabric stretched too thin. That’s when I draw you in and sketch your face to take my place. That’s when I’m free.

Next Halloween midnight I’ll hold the book tight-closed. Just wait and see.

Friday, October 30, 2009

October drabbles - 30

“There was a mouse at school today.”
“Really dear?”
“Yes Mom. The builders said it came out the wall when they mended the holes.”
“Oh, really dear.”
“There was a cat at school.”
“Really?”
“Yes. Katie’s mommy brought it to catch the mouse.”
“Oh, really dear.”
“And there was a dog.”
“Really? Oh dear.”
“It was chasing the cat I think.”
“Really?”
“And an elephant too.”
“Surely not.”
“It was pink. And an alien.”
“Really dear!”
“Really Mom and it ate it me,” the little boy said, jumping up from his dinner in glee. “Now it’s going to eat you.”

Thursday, October 29, 2009

October drabbles - 29

Sam thought a balloon with a sheet on top might bob around in the air and look like a ghost. Dad said it wouldn’t work of course, but Mom said they should try. And Dad was right.

Dad laughed when Mom went searching the yard. “Don’t encourage him,” he said. But she found a stick with twigs like arms; they taped the balloon to its end.

“I’m a ghost,” said Sam from under his sheet, balloon held high overhead.

“I’m scared,” said Dad, not looking at Sam. He was kissing Mom instead.

“Trick or treat?”

“In a minute sweet son.”

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

October drabbles - 28

The waves’ sweet susurration sounded softly in his ears. His tears blended with sea-salt spray portending eventide. The man who watched the waters turned away, his thoughts for sorrow and the lost; his one last stone now cast, bobbing in waves. The woman waiting thought what cost he paid.

Tomorrow, All Saints’ Day, he’d celebrate, remembering. But here tonight, all Hallows Eve, it was the long-lost wife who came to him. In Halloween’s dark glory, whispering mysteries; not she, but she who swallowed her, the one who stole her soul.

Still, tasting sweet, incubus smiled and then she swallowed him.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

October drabble - 27

They send a truck round to clear the leaves in the fall. It sounds like a vacuum cleaner. A long blue neck in front spews green and brown into the trailer behind.

Sam thought it was a monster when he heard it. “What’s that noise?”

“Don’t worry dear,” said Mom. “Just the leaf-truck again.”

“What’s that?” He saw the neck over the vines.

“Just chewing up leaves.”

Then, “Mom. What’s that?” His brother’s shoe, a blue shred from his jeans, and the brown turned red.

The monster looked down with glowing eyes and pointed bloodstained teeth. “You’re next,” it said.

Monday, October 26, 2009

October drabbles - 26

It seemed strange, feeling sorry for his brother. The older one, with the Midas touch; the one who always did everything right, rode high as the sky, while Ted had to run like the night just to stand still. But daylight scorched those golden wings and fate had dealt its blow.

Ted kneeled over the sleeping form, pale face, dark-shadowed brow. The cold crypt air whispered with dreams. Candle-light flickered and drips of tallow fell.

Suddenly Daniel’s eyes opened red. Fangs bled. Ted drove the stake, with sad intent, into his heart.

It seemed strange, feeling sorry for his brother.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

October drabbles - 25

She dawdles. Always she dawdles. You tell her to go straight to grandmother’s house and she’s wandering, playing her games. But there’s things in these woods a red riding-hood won’t keep away. So I’m watching and keeping her safe till she catches my shadow and runs right away. What’s a grandma to do?

The white moon lights her way of course, but look what it’s doing to mine. So I hide in my bed, with a nightcap down over my ears and I hope she won’t know.

“Oh Grandma, what big teeth you’ve got.”

If only the girl didn’t dawdle.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

October drabbles - 24

“I'm never going back to my old school.”

“Why not?” said Pete.

“Because…” Lynn sighed.

“’Cause what?”

She wrapped his arms in a fierce embrace and drenched his face with tears.

“Come on. It wasn’t such a bad old place,” said Pete, but Lynn disagreed.

Then Peter struggled from her grasp—“Please no!”—strode streets on silent feet, slid shadow-less into the night. The school’s closed doors that stopped Lynn’s following let him pass unhindered.

“In memory of Peter Ransom,” said the words on the photograph; should have stayed away.

Lynn watched through the window as her boyfriend vanished again.

Friday, October 23, 2009

October drabbles - 23

He gazes back at me. Brown eyes or black, I can’t be sure. He sits so safe, secure. “You want me gone,” his body says, that firm demeanor, still, but for the trembling in the breeze.

His bending knees, he stirs so subtly now. I shrink away. I think it’s me that he wants gone, me shrunk to size, despised, diminished, done. One foot flicks out on swinging calf, and I’m half-way across the room still looking back to ponder on his wrath.

And he? He’s gazing back at me, unmoved.

Brown-clad, thick-trunked, dark-eyed, dark-fanged; dark spider guards the door.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

October drabbles - 22

“ ‘Your world is as big as you make it.’* ”

Ginny slammed down her homework by the computer. “How the *** do I write about that?”

“Speak nicely Ginny,” said her mother.

“Yeah Mom. Sure.” Ginny flounced onto her chair.

“Sit nicely.”

“Sure.” She bit her apple, spitting out seeds.

“Eat nicely.”

Sure. Then Ginny started to type. Her mind found its groove, the essay growing swiftly under her hands, and fingers shrank.

“Ginny, where are you?”

“Here Mom,” she replied from inside the computer screen. “I’m in my own world now; it’s as big as I make it.”

(* quote from Georgia Douglas Johnson (1866-1966))

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

October drabbles - 21

It was a game at first. She wrote “candy” and found chocolate in the cupboard, wrote apple pie, wrote honey. Soon she was using the magic paper for all her shopping lists, though when the cupboard door fell off she learned it was best to dream small. Still, who needs giant-sized cornflake packs when the mini-ones reappear at zero cost?

Baby food, toddler food, lunch box, TV dinners, after-game: It was all still her own secret system; her husband proclaimed her a wiz with the books. Then Tom got hooked on computer games, wrote fifteen orks, and they ate her.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

October drabbles - 20

If her father hadn’t been ill, and the dog hadn’t barked, and her brother hadn’t screamed all through the night, she would’ve still been in bed. But since she was up, she made breakfast, and having eaten she set off for the bus.

“’Bye Mom.”

“’Bye Sweetie. Take care.”

Same as any other day.

The headlamps, white against the dawn’s trailing light, slithered lazily, sleepily over the tree-lined streets like a snake sizing its prey. They bobbed and swayed in hollows and ruts, hypnotizing with the engine’s stuttering roar.

Then teeth beneath them opened wide. An ordinary day no more.

Monday, October 19, 2009

October drabbles - 19

It was late. Sam wasn’t sure what made him wake. Perhaps the roar of heating, or chattering squirrels disturbing the night. Aurora stirred, her back pressed on his chest, no stress, soft breath caressing silence at his side.

The mattress creaked. Sam opened his eyes as two red spots of light blinked overhead. Turn three times round; thick legs, soft paws descending to claw their space.

He would’ve stroked the warmth of heavy fur but its touch was ice; would’ve woken his wife but she didn’t, couldn’t, know. For Halloween was the one night every year when Lassie came home.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

October drabbles - 18

The sun was glowing orange as it fled into darkness. The distant horizon crawled closer with night, while owls called their ghostly cries, and creatures rustled in the trees. The children huddled close, voices frozen to stone, and their thin arms shivered, chilled by fear or the cold.

“And then?” whispered one, as silver moonlight bathed her face in white, and starlight dripped like tears. “What comes next?”

The storyteller turned. “And then,” she said, “the ghosts appear, floating high over the table, one for each of you.”

And it’s true. Vanilla pudding does look ghostly when served by moonlight.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

October drabbles - 17

He felt the usual sense of dread, as if the air were imbued with the victim’s memory, the dead seeking hope. Sergeant Daniels, in front, was suddenly still, lacking the will to walk through the open door. And Peter felt the air’s thick treacle boring into his mind. Copper filled his nose and choked his throat.

Murder, he wrote.

His limbs slowed down. Breath formed an empty cloud before his eyes. And motionless, a delicate jewel of red, clear rubied pearl, floated ahead, blood frozen in time.

Too late for Daniels now, caught by the dead: Pete turned and fled.

Friday, October 16, 2009

October drabbles - 16

It rained today, just a bit of a mist at the start, a bit damp and gray.

We had to use the wipers when drips turned to showers; fat wet blobs rolling down the glass and rain drumming loud.

Then came the insects rattling the roof; grass-hoppers clouds and bees and moths. Frogs slid down the windscreen in green muddy streaks, closely followed by bats.

Why would bats fall out the sky? Why not just fly, we wondered, but worked it out when their teeth chewed through the glass.

Afterwards we flew with them to pastures green—well, red perhaps.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

October drabbles - 15

It’s time. As more bodies were found Tuesday alongside major highways, none of them with cell-phones, police departments nationwide are advising citizens to keep their phone-plans paid up and their cell-phones readily available at all times.

This reporter followed up on the curious case of a dead dog with an empty phone-clip on its collar. “Just goes to show the cell didn’t help,” said the owner who, after appearing to answer a call on his own cell-phone, immediately died. On investigation, no phone was found at the scene, but this reporter’s convinced....

It’s time – to leave your cell-phone at home.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

October drabbles - 14

Sir Geoffrey rode with sword aloft, sweet Emily’s ribbons and lace adorning the hilt. A happy smile decorated his swashbuckler face, and the only sign of harm was the deep red cloth that trailed from his arm.

Red like blood, thought the fox in the trees, though Geoffrey was known for blue.

Red like the fox’s plume.

Sir Geoffrey shouted a proud “Halloo,” but the fox’s chase caused the valiant steed to fall. The sword plunged deep into Geoffrey’s heart. Then Lady Emily Vulpine’s severed hand released the hilt. Frail fingers fell, beribboned, to their cushion of lace and leaves.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

October drabbles - 13

The last high-pitched laughs, footsteps, dropped candies, last echoes of “Don’t be so greedy,” faded into night. Jen closed the door, half-smiling, half-waving still in the gathering gloom, but her own babe was too small for the Halloween haul.

“Was that fun Jimmy?” she asked.

He nodded solemnly, hands grasping for her face.

“Did you like all the witches and wizards and wild animals?”

He nodded again.

“So, time for dinner?”

They retreated to the comfortable dining-room with its coffin and bats.

“Time to wake up Grandma d’you think?” Because Grandma would gather the food tonight; mustn’t frighten the child.

Monday, October 12, 2009

October drabbles - 12

The sun is warm, but the air’s cool on his brow. He bends his back to the rake. Brown plate-like leaves dance in the breeze before he stacks them high.

The sun is warm, his body slick with sweat, harder work than expected. But the deck is clear, chairs neatly placed and Mother patiently waits. “Shall I pour tea?”

His mother doesn’t drink too well. He tips the liquid in through skinless lips. It drips through teeth. And wind blows the leaves.

Then he weeps. His mother’s just a heap of scattered bones. “Put me back,” she cries. He tries.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

October drabbles - 11

The leaves are brown and falling, fall’s bright colors yet to come. And footsteps leave dark hollows on the ground. D’you see? D’you hear? Look round behind but all you find is fear. I’m following.

The leaves are lying flat like broken dishes, smashed and spurned; and your unspoken wishes lie. Do you remember why? I’ll follow you.

The leaves await the rain and, sodden, sink beneath the pain. I wait till fall’s bright colors form the ribbon flowing down, scarlet on brown. I hide and seek and follow you.

Beware the seeping hollow in the ground. I followed there.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

October drabbles - 10

The end house always has the spookiest ghosts. Dad says they make the smoke out of ice, the jack-o-lanterns are pretend, and the skeletons are just people dressing up. I ask him why they wear bones on the outside of their skins then he complains, “Too much imagination.”

Dad always used to tell me ghosts aren’t real, but he died when the end house burned down while he worked on its lights. I don’t listen now; just go there trick-or-treating on Halloween nights.

“Too much imagination,” Dad says, with his skin squished tight under bones, but he’s still my Dad.

Friday, October 9, 2009

October drabbles - 9

His cape, a torn white sheet, ballooned behind as he pedaled his bike. The pillow-case filled with treats spilled from his basket. And he sang to the silence of the deserted street.

Empty houses greeted him. No lights. No children’s laughter or pumpkins or smiles. He didn’t seem to mind.

Then with the sound of a creaking door, an old woman appeared, frail, with pale sunken cheeks, white hair, and wailing her pain. She pointed a long bony finger and shrieked at the boy.

Then silence reigned, the pillow-case bulging wider on the basket’s wire rim, the boy still singing.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

October drabbles - 8

Her morning voice was like the whispers heard on a summer’s night, clear as rinsed crystal. Champagne bubbled to the rim of her laughter and honey dripped its scent from the waking hive. Her touch was silk.

But winter was dark and muddied as ditch-water. The trees beckoned with witch-like arms, threatening doom. In dreams he rushed to the midnight pool where a crystal moon cast stars that passed like comets of sparkling wine. Then he tasted again her honeyed lips, and the breeze spun hair to milk and whispers to glass.

She was his vampire, lover of his dreams.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

October drabbles - 7

Dark Love

I loved her but love makes you blind. I didn’t ask. She didn’t tell. Her strangely fearsome hell.

Today, I’d question everything and risk whatever loss, except I’ve nothing left to lose.

What I called love, she simply called possession. Bat-transformed, she flew into the night, left me behind. She didn’t realize I was still alive, and nor did I. But now I’ve changed and followed, bourn a stake into her heart because of love, and this its cost. I’ve let her go.

D’you hear the sirens mourn? Fear me and tell me what you choose. I love you so.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

October Drabbles - 6

Twelve

“How old are you?” he asked.

“Twelve.” He tried to draw back but she drew him on, tiny fingers pressing bruises into his arm.

The room was dark with heavily brocaded curtains hiding the sun. Silken sheets adorned the bed, and diamonds glittered in the dust that obscured the mirror.

“You’re never twelve,” he said, turning to face her because he couldn’t find her reflection. “How could you be?”

And her fingers began to unfasten his shirt, deft and cool on his skin, her breath like ice against his throat. “I’ve been twelve for such a very, very long time.”

October Drabbles - 5

The Man at the Bar

He went there to disappear. His back to the door, he was just another nobody sitting at a bar. The beer held no reflection. The splintered images from spotlights and mirrors had no consistency. And the sounds of voices and music and laughter drowned the cries of memory.

She went there for love; red wine in her glass, and a stillness that settled like a veil as she sat down.

“Truth is…” he said, hesitant.

“Truth is.” She held the wine-glass close; still surface, no ripples, no reflections. “Truth is, we’re alike.” They sank their teeth into a loving embrace.

October Drabbles - 4

Bookseller

“There are people in these pages,” the shopkeeper said.

“People?” asked the little girl

“Yes,” said the old man. “They live their lives and nobody knows or cares unless you read them.”

“Then what?”

“Then they become your friends.”

The friendless girl thought that sounded a good idea, so she became a bookstore regular, a dreamer curled in the window’s frame, browsing the lives of others while her own faded away.

“There are people in these pages,” said the old man to his new customer. And he held up a book with a picture of the girl on its cover.

October Drabbles - 3

Bobby sat hunched on the floor and complained, “I’m hungry.” But Jimmy ignored him and splashed on the rain-sodden carpet to dark kitchen door. Pale moonlight shone through the cob-webbed window. An orange skillet glowed its dusty reflection. Sizzles of bacon made salty, mouth-watering smells.

“Hey Bobby. Ghost food!”

At the foot of the stove, a pair of boots shuffled and danced to a silent tune then fell over their laces.

“Watch out!” shrieked the cat.

Jimmy turned.

Then Bobby ran past, axe in hand, to smash skillet and ghost. “Reeses Pieces,” he said. “Human food.”
“Yummy-yum,” said the cat.

October Drabbles - 2

“You didn’t knock on any strangers’ doors?”

“No Mom.”

“You didn’t wander off on your own?”

“No Mom. I didn’t.”

Jesse’s mother looked at the strange collection of items in his sack; eyeballs with strings of sinewy red clinging to their spherical smoothness; fingers dripping sticky goo; a severed ear; a spider, still alive.

“And everyone else got the same stuff as you?” she asked.

“Yes Mom,” said Jesse, but didn’t tell her who constituted “everyone else.”

There are no strangers’ doors when your companions are ghosts. And Jesse’s mother remembered, as she sat down, that her son was dead.

October Drabbles - 1

“Open your eyes,” they said, because he was asleep and they wanted him to wake up.

“Open your eyes,” they said, because he had screwed them up tight so he wouldn’t see.

“Open your eyes,” they said, and they tugged at the hands he was holding in front of his face.

“Open your eyes.”

He opened his eyes; then they went away.

Tommy’s mother opened the bedroom door. She picked her screaming son off the floor, and hugged him and comforted him. Then she swore she would never again let him eat so much Halloween candy before going to bed.