The Perfect Self by Kristina Spears
The perfect body before him will soon be his. He just has to figure out how he should dispose of his own. The window is open with the curtains pulled back allowing for the cool evening light to shine through into the single room apartment. The sound of passing cars and the chatter from passing strangers make up the hum of the city. William leans back in his plastic chair musing at the weapons spread out neatly on the white folding table. The perfect body and his soon to be new self sits peacefully nude in the other chair across the table. It sits in silence seemingly asleep with a plastic smile. It is younger with thick dark hair and has sharp features with broad shoulders. Best of all it has a six-pack. William had always wanted a six pack and now he is finally be getting it. Sometimes he imagines The Perfect Self, as he has been calling it, agreeing with him. It too agrees that indeed, it, The Perfect Self is far more superior compared to him. William does not mind his new companion’s cockiness because he is sure that his Perfect Self is right. He knows by now that it has a slightly improved likable personality that surely others would enjoy. By their late interactions The Perfect Self may even be smarter, though he suspects The Perfect Self to be cheating when it came to card games. Rubbing at his protruding dark veins on his forehand William thinks back to the recurring nightmares. The dream is fuzzy with somebody unknown. The death was always out of his hands. The feeling of powerlessness always lingers past the point of waking but things are different now that he has The Perfect Self.
“The process will be like a caterpillar changing into a butterfly.” The man says, disrupting the silence in the shadowing room. The evening light glows and shifts over the body making it appear to shrug at the statement. Despite The Perfect Self’s disinterest William continues to add another example to the process. “Think of it like this. A Phoenix. It dies and in a blaze of fury it is reborn.”
“Maybe”, speaks his Perfect Self thoughtfully with a deep, husky voice compared to the William’s own gravely, shrill voice. “Snakes, did you know, they shed their old skin and becomes like new.” Hell, thinks William. He fucking hates snakes. The lighting lowers to the body’s shoulder making it appear the body is moving forward to examine the tools before him.
“How about the knife?” William imagines the Perfect Self say. “It could be fun.”
“You think?” He questions pulling at the bits of his own stubble until a place of his chin becomes raw. William imagines this place on his face becoming infected and then spreading across his body after his death, leaving nothing behind but a pile of yellow festering pus.
“Yeah. Just picture pregnant Jenna finding you in the morning. Her big swollen breast bouncing about as she panics about losing her chance to bed you one last time.” William laughs at this and it only becomes worse as he thought of The Perfect Self playfully pretending to be cupping imaginary breasts.
“Is it yours?” Questions The Perfect Self. The room collapses to dead silence. William moves forward placing his weight against the table. His index finger tapping the blade until it makes a deep enough cut to draw blood. Of course it was, William thought. Whose else could it be?
“This method could be painful.” William admits, thinking about laying in the liquid of his own blood drowning.
“I guess you’re right.” The tone of voice The Perfect Self returns to its usual playful tempo. “Plus you could end up with bathrobe Joe coming in instead. Just think you could have his testicles dangling over your head if you somehow fall onto the floor.”
“Stop.” The man responds swiftly, feeling his face crawl with the idea that ball sweat could be dripping onto his face as he lays hopefully dead so not to be able to smell the salty musk. “Who knows, maybe it’s Bathrobe Joe.” The Perfect Self says, not changing it’s smiling expression.
“What? The baby?” Questions William. Joe? Bathrobe Joe? Hell no. That man can’t utter a word without it becoming a stutter and his looks despite him being younger, let’s face it, has a close resemblance to a dried up tanned manatee. And he’s always wearing a fucking bathrobe. No woman would touch that.
Luckily the shine off the revolver brings back Williams thoughts to the greater task at hand. “In one of my dreams.” William said. “ I was shot. I don’t know about the gun either.”
“Why do you have it as an option then?” Asks The Perfect Self.
William shrugs not certain himself, but he figures The Perfect Self deserve some kind of response. “I like the idea of having the option.” With that, the only other option on the table is the rope.
“It could be a quick death.” Encourages The Perfect Self, with a tone that almost seems to have too much interest by the idea of William swaying off the ground with a rope gripping tightly around his neck.
“I have heard that people piss themselves during this kind of death.” William responds, wavering from the idea. The mental image of him being soiled with saliva dripping down of his face does not sit too well with him. “I can hear them now talking at my funeral, William, I knew him well. He smelt of piss.”
“You know, no one would have to find your body.” Reassures The Perfect Self like a true friend. “I could just hide it. I will just tell people I-you had plastic surgery. Took vitamins. Did some exercise. We will continual living like nothing ever happened.”
“Maybe. Maybe- The dream you know-” The man pauses feeling foggy. “Sorry. I have been having trouble thinking lately.” William stutters feeling something growing in the back of his mind and he starts to laugh to some unknown joke. It could be about Jenna or Joe. Was it about The Perfect Self or was it about him? William jerks, and forces himself to sit silently in his chair.
“That’s okay. I am here now,” The Perfect Self responds still holding its plastic smile. The evening has almost faded completely, save for some streams of blue light that shifts across The Perfect Self’s body making it appear that it was moving closer. William doesn’t move as The Perfect Self pushes itself over him with its hands spread gently across his throat. William allows himself to lean back in his chair still trusting that The Perfect self will give him a dignified death like any true friend would.
“It’s okay.” The Perfect Self repeats. “It’s okay.” I know thought William. It’s okay.
Blood oozes from his throat as The Perfect Self dug its thumbs inside. For a brief moment William struggles in The Perfect Self’s grasp, forgetting that this was what he wanted.
In the blacken silence of the room, The Perfect Self whispers to itself, “Hello, I am William.”
Kristina Spears grew up in a small town in Ohio where she enjoys spending most of her time outside even if that means taking her laptop with her. She attended Miami University and graduated from the writing program. Kristina has a love for writing fantasy and science fiction. With an obsession in the supernatural, horror, and messed up stories, these themes tend to make their way into her writing.
LTD Tripped Out Motivational Posters
Tripped out… in case you just couldn’t get enough of Everything Everywhere All at Once and the return of the infinite bagel with EVERYTHING on it…
Artwork description: kaleidoscopic image of pink hairy horror (This is actually a fink fuzzy frond plant not unlike a Cockscomb but with longer thinner flowering feelers rather than the fuller protuberances you see on a full-bodied Cockscomb plant. I have no idea what it was, but it was very odd so I had to snap a photo.)
Image text reads: Mixing Magic Mushrooms & Peyote Just remember: once you open that Pandora’s box, you’re never going to get the pink hairy tarantulas back in it…
Artwork description: kaleidoscopic sunflower backlit by the sun with text and rainbow eye overlay
Image text reads: Eye See You Eye See All (in circle text so you can start and end reading wherever). In an ideal context this would be printed in the bottom of your tea mug or on a record that can slowly spin.
For more crazy tripped out fun, check out Weird Al’s post on Craig’s List…
The Elves Reunion, a short story by Jennifer Weigel
I had heard tale that The Elves dwell in these woods. Many underestimate The Elves; they have a fondness of heart for Tolkienesque Middle Earth fantasy stories and tales where Elves are the most highly civilized, virtuous and intelligent. They forget that those are just myths, save for The Elves being cunning. Remember that the Pied Piper was an Elf, and the children he took were not destined for such a glorious fate.
My sister lost her firstborn to The Elves. She hadn’t noticed the Changeling until it was too late. Her baby had already long since been stolen away. She was so distraught she refused to eat or speak. She locked herself in her room. Or my family locked her into it as she succumbed to the madness. Such are the ways of the family, for all of our protection. We never question but follow as expected, as a means of self-preservation. It has kept us all alive.
But I couldn’t get the sinking feeling out of my stomach; the grief became too overwhelming. That is why I came here. I know I will not be able to rescue the child, nor my sister. But I seek to avenge their meaningless deaths. To ensure that it doesn’t happen again. My family will never act. I am tired of the Village Elders just shrugging these things off in hushed whispers and badly shrouded secrets. It happens time and again. We are all expendable. They never do anything.
So here I am, in the Elven wood. Alone. As soon as my family figures out that I’m here, they will disown me. They probably already have. Again, it is for our own protection. I’ll be just another casualty of The Elves. Everything is so structured, so regimented. Anyone who dares act in opposition to the rules vanishes. We are all so afraid.
I lay in wait. It’s just a matter of time before the portal appears. The Elves use the portals to travel across time and space. They appear where and when they wish. But this time, I will go through first. I know not what is on the other side, just that the portals allow only one to traverse in each direction. We will trade places, if only for a moment until another portal forms. Hopefully that will be enough time.
The trees shift and morph. Falling leaves drift slower and slower towards the ground. There is a stillness that I cannot fully express. My breath hangs heavy in the silent air. There is no sound, no smell, no taste. It is time. The hairs on the back of my neck and arms rise. I can sense the opening forming. There is an uncanny familiarity in this moment, as if I have been here before.
As soon as the portal opens, I dash through. But something isn’t right. No one came through from the other side. Or did they? I cannot tell. I am alone, in limbo between states of existence. The world spins around me. I can feel the drift. Is this what death feels like? Cold unbroken silence? I feel distant eyes upon me everywhere, all around me, in the trees, the clouds, pinpoints of light that shimmer through.
I wasn’t sure what to expect. Maybe this is all according to plan. But who was orchestrating the exchange? My idea was only half formed in those passing pensive moments I am able to think for myself, few and far between. My family, the Village Elders… no one allows time for freeform thought. I hadn’t considered what would happen after the portal exchange. I never really got past step one.
A voice greets me from the trees. It is hauntingly familiar but seems only a distant memory.
“I’ve been expecting you.”
The world slowly comes into focus. Clarity restored, the leaves circle me in an embrace. My sister emerges, her dark eyes smiling. She cradles the baby in her arms.
“You made it. You escaped,” she sings.
“I didn’t see anyone,” I retort, skeptical. I hadn’t recalled having seen any Elves, dark nightmarish fiends that they are, wild, unkempt, uncouth. Savage beasts like Pan or Krampus. Is this an illusion? My sister seems so lifelike, so much herself. She is the joyful young mother I had known her to be. Filled with love and laughter. Light dances about her, and she shimmers.
“Not in passing,” my sister clarifies. “You have been living among them your whole life. I had done so as well until the baby was stolen. My heart broke; I had to follow after. That was when I learned the Truth.”
“Why do you think we are so sheltered? Why are we forbidden to do anything? They do so to protect us from the Truth about who and what we are,” she continued. “We’ve spent our lives evading that which we truly know ourselves to be. We were the stolen ones, not the other way around…”
I notice that the portal I came through is still open, reinforcing my idea that no one had passed through the other way. It is as if the portal was opened specifically to call me through. My sister extends her hand, beckoning me to join her. There is a gleam in her eye I cannot pinpoint. She seems happy, but something still isn’t quite right. I’m still uncertain why I am here, in this time and place, as if destined to be present in this moment, in this decision.
The Village has fallen away to the woods. There are no breadcrumb trails to follow home. The idea of home itself seems distant like yet another illusion. Nothing makes sense anymore. I am unsure whether I am coming or going. Two paths lay open before me. Which shall I take?
Eye Candy Jewelry by Jennifer Weigel
I have been getting ready for a jewelry show in February and thought I’d share some of the fun eye candy necklaces I’ve been working on. Do they thwart or attract the Evil Eye? I think that depends largely on the wearer’s intentions… Each is hand-beaded and features a spooky printed eyeball pendant as its focus.
And the piece de resistance… A RAINBOW Evil Eye necklace with magnesite stone skulls! I love these happy little deadheads – they are just too spoopy… I have seen these beads ranging in size from very small to huge and I love all of them.
I love using eyes in art in weird and unusual contexts in my art. They have so much presence and symbolism. They also bring a sort of surreal atmosphere to any artwork, which bears just a hint of spookiness regardless of context.
Other artworks & graphics by myself that prominently feature eyes have appeared here on Haunted MTL in Insomnia, Indecision, Illuminati, Carriage Factory art installation, The Watchers, The Red Key, and Shaman Sticks.