Saturday, March 19, 2016

Two Strangers Meet in the Woods, Katy Comber

The Destructive Development of Somebody
by Katy Comber

Owls hooted somewhere in the murky fog. Limbs reached out for Tom as his legs pumped him forward. Distance away, and not destination, was Tom’s goal. That creature. Woman? Thing?  The shriek echoed in Tom’s ears. A branch caught his cloak and tore its right elbow. Brown strips of fabric clung to the wooden hand, and Tom ran with only one concern--to get away. 

“Umph!” 
“Ouch!” 
“What the h-”
“Who are y-” 

Tom straightened himself quickly and his eyes swept the area nervously. A howl sounded. Distant. Approaching.

“Got to go!” 
“Wait! Where are you going?” 
“No time to explain.” 

Tom thought for a split second. The man he had mistaken for a log and tripped over moments before might delay his hunter. Maybe, with this substitute, she would be satisfied. Tom shuddered. No. Leaving this man to be a sacrifice would be just as evil as the act that would fall upon him if she crossed the man’s path. In one quick motion, Tom spun around, reached out in the fog to grab an unseen hand, and pulled the man up to stand. Before the man could comprehend what was happening, he was being pulled through the dank forest. The man’s short and chubby legs stumbled to keep up with the long-legged madman dragging him the dense woods. His breath caught and stopped. His chest burned. His stomach heaved. Must keep moving; the idea was clear though the reason was not. 

“Where. Are. We. Going?” 
“I don’t know. I got lost miles from here.” 
“What?!” 

The short man halted. He reminded himself to breathe. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. Tom looked down at him quickly and returned his gaze East. There it was again. The howl. Was it further than before? Tom wasn’t sure. 

“Did you hear that?” 
“That is why we’re running.”
“Oh. Really?” 
“Yes.” 
“But that’s just a--”
“Don’t say it.” 
“Then, you must be a writer? Artist? Musician” 
“I dabble.” 
“Right. I understand. She found you didn’t she? If anyone utters her name in a creative’s presence she will appear. So, she’s come to the forest of Criminal Creatures to hunt. Must be desperate.” 
“I figured you knew that.” 
“Why?” 
“Why else would you be laying around in a log costume?” 
“I was hiding from something else.”
“What?” 
“Boredom.” 
“Okay. Explain.” 

Tom pointed his toes west and readied himself to move, but stilled his body enough to listen to the man’s story. 

“Well. I guess I should start by telling you my name.” 
“Okay.” 
“Nobody.” 
“Nobody.” 
“Yep. My name is Nobody.” 

As the man spoke, he opened his long brown coat. Nothing but fabric. 

“I feel a body. I am short with chubby legs and a large barrel gut, but to everyone else I’m just a--”
“Head. I’m talking to a floating head. But, I dragged you. I pulled your arm.” 

Nobody rolled up his sleeves. Nothing but air. Tom waved his hand through where an arm should be. Nobody chuckled as though it tickled, but remained silent. 

“Are you a pass--”
“Passerbeing. Yes, unfortunately, I am.”  

Nobody began to recite: 
meandering in shadows cast by resplendence,
he’s armored in scales of dark transcendence
his eyes, ablaze forever confounding, 
notice only flaws in his surroundings 
his diet strict of olive pits 
curdled milk, and satiric wits
he is The 

“Passerbeing.” Tom finished for Nobody in a hushed voice. Suddenly standing still felt very wrong. But, Tom’s feet could not move. The Passerbeing removed his wooden cloak. The head remained midair, its eyes narrowing. Hungry. 

“Tell me a story, Tom. Satire. I can sense your brain pulsating with irony.” 
“Maybe because of our current situation. You, see, Passerbeing. I could not tell a story if death commanded it and the world depended on my doing so.” 
“My, this is an interesting forest. does she know what you are?” 
“I doubt it. She has similar senses to yours. She can sniff out talent from miles away, but a terrible lack of patience. Even for a Plagiarismystic. I think it could be all that pressure for a sequel. She bled that poor writer dry, though. No chance of a new story there.” 

A howl sounded. She’d heard her name. Tom couldn’t run under the Passerbeing’s gaze. The Plagiarismystic closed in. Her presence made the forest shimmer with frost.

“Back off from my writer, Nobody The Passerbeing. This one is oozing with potential. His blood is singing with untold stories.” The Plagiarismystic’s eyes glowed in a green haze, they locked on Tom’s forehead as fangs began to protrude from her wide mouth.  

“Ah, Nancy. I should have recognized that howl.”
“Shut your drooling mouth, Nobody. I found him first. He’s mine.” 

Tom began to giggle. The sight of the two predators arguing over him was slightly flattering. The Passerbeing eyed Tom and began to laugh as well. 

“What? What’s so funny?” Nancy’s green eyes widened; by now, they took up half of her porcelain face. Instead of waiting for an answer, Nancy threw a spindly arm around Tom’s waist and drew him to her. Tom had no chance to scream or beg. The fangs latched into Tom’s forehead, and she began to drink. Moments after, after Tom fell dead, Nancy wiped the corners of her mouth and sighed. The stories inside Tom’s head would make her rich and one of the best known writers in the world. 

“You look happy.” Nobody remarked. The chuckles from a minute ago lingered on his smiling lips, “What did he have in there?” 

“Oh its fabulous. It’s about this--” Nancy’s stomach began to churn. Her tongue swelled. The flesh of her body ignited with irritation. “It’s about…” Nancy’s tongue twisted and tied. Her eyes looked to Nobody in alarm. 

Nobody began to laugh and sing, 

cowering in a tower near,
he is muted, his voice unclear
balladry and harmony grasp his tongue
but fear renders art unsung
he dines on pages of dictionaries worn
and thoughts of pure, unmasked scorn
he is The Perfectionistcary
Tom, is The Perfectionistcary…

Nobody’s mirth at the sight of horror and the grotesque, transformed him. As Nancy choked on the last story she would ever steal, Nobody began to grow. He had hidden from Boredom and found Destruction. His mission was complete. Limbs sprouted from his floating head. Large feet and strong arms became visible. Through the pain and suffering of others, Nobody became Somebody. 




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