Jim here–not only is this a tight piece of short fiction with twists and stabs but I’d have published it just for the sake of that hat! Gotta love a writer with a good taste in hats! – Jim
The Seer of Midway Mall
I’m not a fortune teller. Not exactly. I mean, yeah, sometimes I see things, but I can’t control it. I can’t choose when it works, or decide whose future I’m going to get a look at. It just happens.
Like today. I was cutting through the mall on my way home from work. It was packed, as usual, and people were irritable about the crowds, also as usual. I don’t know why I always go through the mall. It shaves five minutes off my trip, but it more than makes up for it in aggravation. Everyone’s in a hurry, you’re constantly cut off or jostled, and the best you get by way of apology is a half-hearted mumble. I’m always promising myself I’ll stop going that route, but at the end of a long work day the extra five minutes seems like an eternity.
I managed to make it all the way to the far exit with my temper still in check, which was no small feat. I was reaching for the door when some Bluetooth-using, two thousand dollar suit type stepped right in front of me. He had to get pretty aggressive with his shoulder to get ahead, and I stumbled from the contact, falling forward into him. He didn’t even slow, just swung his elbow painfully into my chest, and said, “Out of my way, dickless.”
I didn’t have time to get upset, though, because somewhere between his elbow hitting me and him swearing at me, I had a vision. I got a look at Bluetooth’s future, and it was not pleasant. I saw him walking alone through a dark concrete structure. Or at least he thought he was alone, but I could see someone was following him. He was yammering belligerently into his phone, not at all aware of his surroundings. My viewpoint in these things varies, but in this particular vision I was looking from behind both of them, so I couldn’t get a good look at the person following him. All I could tell from my angle was that he appeared to be another “suit and tie guy.” He carried a brown leather briefcase and wore a long grey pea coat. As he approached his oblivious victim from behind, I saw a long handled claw hammer slide from inside his sleeve and down into his hand. It was then I noticed that he was wearing white latex gloves. I could see him look around the structure to confirm they were alone and quicken his pace to catch up to his victim.
“I don’t care, you’ll do it or you’ll find a new job.” The guy reached his car and the climax of his phone rant at about the same time. Hanging up, he unlocked and opened his car door just as his stalker crept quietly up behind him. The first hammer blow came down on the back of his neck. Bluetooth shrieked and fell face first onto the driver’s seat. His attacker shoved him through the car and into the passenger seat, then calmly stepped into the car himself and shut the door. More hammer blows followed. Many more. I won’t get into too much detail, but it was bloody and, unfortunately for Bluetooth, he lasted a long time.
“Hey man, you’re blocking the door.”
“Oh, please pardon me.”
And just like that I was back in the mall, standing in a stupor with my hand on the door, my heart trying to thump its way out of my chest. People were moving around me to the other exits, many shooting me unpleasant looks for delaying them.
I stepped through the exit and into the warm spring sun, fighting a losing battle to get control of my heart. I took a moment to consider what to do, but quickly came to the same decision I always do. I reached into my leather briefcase, feeling for the surgical gloves and claw hammer I kept there for just such occasions. Down the street, I could just see Bluetooth turning off into a gloomy parking structure. Reassured by the hammer’s weight, I started off after him. After all, I’d already seen his future. Who was I to deny it?
Rob Caleval grew up on the Canadian prairies with a hockey stick in one hand and a book in the other. He holds a degree in English from the University of Regina and has worked in the emergency services industry for well over a decade. Between coaching junior lacrosse and wood working projects, he does occasionally find time to write something. His latest work can be found in the upcoming issue of The Freshwater Review.
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.