|Majestic: Issue #16 - Holiday Special!
||Sunday, Febuary 2, 2003
By Chrispian H. Burks
Well, the big Holiday season has come and gone, save for Valentine's Day. This speical issue isn't specifically
about the Holiday's, but rather inspired by the theme's of the major holidays from Thanksgiving to Valentine's Day.
This issue has some great work by writers who haven't previously been seen in an Issue of Majestic, as well as
some familiar faces. I hope you enjoy the reading as much as I did.
This month also hails the return of the Write Off, a Sunday tradition we've had many times over the last year.
Rick is back to head up this battle between Lit.Org staff members Bartleby and Crowe, who have known each other
since the 3rd grade! Help rate the entries:
Love Hurts by Bartleby
Enjoy the all the great reading and next month I'll have some exciting news regarding new features and plans
for the site!
A Dream by Crowe
If you have suggestions or comments about this issue of Majestic,
discuss it in the forums!
Majestic is looking for writers! Take a look at our
Publishing Schedule and submit your articles.
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By Sean Spacey
a fortune smoke in filthy fingers;
red and sucked in smiling smouth;
his black-beard like the king of hearts;
meditative at the art of top hat filled with change;
each passing person a friend;
clinging coins play the anthem of a benevolent universe.
There is nothing quite like going to jail at Christmas to warm the heart. To be sure, there are no smells of pine or incense, no baubles or trinkets lining shelves or mantel, no Christmas carols piped through a public address system. But, there is a spirit there, actually many spirits, but the one I want to share is the spirit of renewal and fellowship.
Fortunately, I was not incarcerated, but my oldest daughter was. She had spent time in and out of jail over the past year, and this was actually the second Christmas she would spend there. The reason she was there matters little; what is paramount is if she would leave there a wiser person for the experience.
Her son, Brandon, and I readied for the holiday visit with the usual cajoling needed to ready a seven year old boisterous male to greet the world. "No, you don't need a tie. No, you can't wear your jeans mid-buttocks. Yes, you do have to comb your hair and brush your teeth." We were going to a Christmas party, at, of all places, the county jail. And while I was a little perturbed to be going there, Brandon thought nothing of it, other than he was going to see his Mom.
Brandon wanted to take a present to his mother, but none were allowed. Explanations along that line were difficult at best, because no matter how society viewed his mother, she was still the most important person in his world. How could he visit her on Christmas and not take a gift? We talked and considered and came up with a plan; he would give her a gift that no one else could, and it was allowed by the rules of the jail.
At the jail, we were processed in as visitors, and waited with a large group of others, also there to celebrate the season. I was a little embarrassed to be there, but Brandon was his usual nonplussed self, talking to anyone who would listen and eager to go to the party.
The group was ushered through multiple locked doors and briefed on appropriate behavior for our stay. Although my second time there, the thud of each door and the maze of halls daunted me.
The party room was actually an indoor gym, converted for the purpose that day with rows of chairs and a row of tables with finger food and goodies. There was a podium in the front, and the prisoners, in their various colored jumpsuits, were already seated in the room. I was struck first by the palpable need emanating from the jail population, each of them watching for their particular loved ones to arrive. Brandon spotted his mother, and bounded over to her with aplomb.
The look on her face said everything; she had not been able to touch her son for almost six months. The special hug and kiss we had planned as her gift seemed to be just what she needed on this special day. Tears welled in her eyes, and I forgot to feel uncomfortable, only to feel her need for love and acceptance.
Throughout the party, which consisted of Christmas carols sung by all, and a brief Christmas message delivered by a local minister, Brandon held his mother's hand, and often, her eyes. The dreariness I had noted about her during my regular visits with her was gone; she was transformed into a glowing woman, full of love and tenderness for her son.
Brandon noticed none of this, but basked in his mother's undivided attention. Throughout the visit, he peppered her with his special hug and kiss, himself glowing to give her a present. We had all begun a countdown to her release from jail, and the time was a matter of days now. The two of them chattered about what they would do when my daughter was free, and I got the sense that this time, she meant every word she said.
A Christmas party at the jail is not quite comparable to the birth of Christ in a stable, but it is meager, at best. Yet the richness of that day, with those people, and for Brandon and his mother, will not soon be forgotten. And the special hugs and kisses? They are still exchanged between the two of them, reunited and moving forward, one day at a time.
By Beckett Grey
The wolf fled across the northern forests, and the hunters followed. They had tracked the beast for miles, over valley and under tree, and they felt at last that they were making some sort of progress toward the elusive creature. Their goal was neither food nor sport, though they would normally have valued the spirit of the hunt. They hunted out of a strange, desperate need for revenge that gripped them as firmly as any religious mania. One of their own had been killed. Vengeance must be taken.
It had happened some three days ago, on the slopes of Farway Hill. They, like so many others in that fateful winter, were hunting the Eater. They did not expect to find it. The Eater was a local legend: A terrible creature that would stalk out of the night and devour whatever living creatures it could find. The hunters, being logical, practical-minded fellows, thought it much more likely that a number of sneaky animals- wolves, maybe- were responsible for the problem. Regardless, no one could deny the presence of something on the outskirts of the village. In the four years of terror since the Eater's presence became known, over a hundred missing and slaughtered animals- mostly farm animals, chickens and the like- had been attributed to its' appetite. Some of these, surely, were merely missing animals, and the mania of their owners simply drove them to blame the Eater...but what of the mutilated carcasses? What of the cow, found in Ted Drury's driveway one morning, its guts missing, its eyes bulging with abject animal terror? Whatever the reason, whatever the animal, the hunters knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that something stalked the forests outside their village.
Traps had proved useless. Poisoned bait was ignored, or worse, turned curiously against the farmer who used it. In one particular incident, a man had left huge hunks of poisoned meat out on the night after an attack by the Eater claimed two of his chickens. In the morning, he emerged from his house to find every one of his pigs dead. They had been fed from the poisoned meat.
Speculation that the Eater might, in fact, be a human arose. Perhaps, it was theorized, there was a deranged mountain man living in the hills to the North, bent on revenge for some imagined offense the villagers had committed. How then, argued the more practical villagers, did this man make the rending teeth-marks that had been found in many of the animal carcasses? Did he also keep trained dogs in his hut in the hills?
So it went, and so the slaughter continued. It was in the third year of the Eater's reign when a canny fellow on the village council noticed that the disappearances and killings reached a peak every winter, right around the middle of January. Curious and yet more curious.
The village farmers were stoic souls, and not easily daunted. They kept at their business, despite the killings, and all might have gone that way for some time, had events transpired differently that winter- but they did not.
At the height of the killings, deep in the heart of January's frost, a little girl went missing.
A council meeting was called. People ranted and yelled and made speeches. In the end, seventeen hunters set out from the village to track down the Eater and destroy it. David Lee and Charles "Charlie" Parker were two of them.
There had been a third.
The three of them had enlisted the help of a friend named Jim Douglas, who owned Douglas Farms just a bit northwest of town. Douglas Farms had taken its share of hard hits from the Eater, and in the peak of the killing season, they reckoned it as the best place to corner the beast. That night, they had taken shelter in the forest-facing side of Douglas's barn, rifles at the ready, and waited in shifts through the night, ears pricked up for commotion from outside.
The first night passed without incident. On the second night, during their third companion's watch, they were awakened by his hand on their shoulders, shaking. His eyes were wide and starey, and his breath was coming fast. He whispered to them that something strange was happening outside the barn, and when they questioned him as to what...
"Somethin'," he whispered. "Somethin talkin' out there."
There was more- they could both tell that there was more- but they were never given the chance to ask. At that moment, a great clamour arose from the yard and the three of them rushed out- their third companion somewhat less eagerly than they- and saw-
A flash of movement- a swatch of gray disappearing into the underbrush, before they could do more than register its presence. It was almost nothing, but it disturbed their companion so thoroughly that they could both see him shaking.
When the first rays of dawn came creeping over the mountains, the three of them gathered up their provisions and headed north, following the tracks left by their quarry in the snow. There was no question; their prey was a wolf. If the size of the prints was any indication, it was a wolf of quite large stature and stride. The weather held cloudy and cold, but the winds stood idle. Thus, they were able to follow the beast's backtrail up into the foothills. Parker predicted that their journey would be a short one - such a wolf, he theorized, would live relatively close to its feeding grounds. He was somewhat less self-assured when the encroaching night forced them to make camp.
They all agreed that it would be prudent to keep watch, though none of them could explain exactly why. The cold, dark landscapes spread out beyond the light of their campfire seemed somehow more forbidding than ever before- and all three were accomplished hunters of some note. They sat for some time around the fire and talked of the Eater, and of their respective families, far away back home, and of their own lives, and so on, until the late hour drew them to their bedrolls. Lee agreed to first watch, and some four hours later, he woke Fred Marshal- the third of their party- and climbed into his own bedroll for the night.
Dawn came, gray and cold. Parker was the first to wake. It was his cry that sent the birds from the trees and brought Lee, still half-dressed, from his tent. It was he who found the remains of Fred Marshal sitting peacefully before the dead campfire. Marshal himself did not look peaceful. His eyes bulged grotesquely from his head, and his jaw hung brokenly around his breastbone. His torso was all but gone. Sometime during the night, Marshal had been torn apart by an unknown attacker. The attacker had turned Marshal's guts into a churned mess of blood and flesh bracketed by bleary swatches of broken ribcage. A trail of reddish gore led away from the camp...along with more footprints.
For a long while, neither of the two hunters spoke. Parker, sickened and horrified by the demise of their companion, made to walk into the woods, and then thought better of the idea. Lee removed the dead man's sleeping bag and wrapped his remains inside the orange shroud. Once it was out of their sight, the two men went about the morning chores mechanically, speaking not a word to the other until midday. The hunters knew that they could not bury their companion in the frozen earth, nor should they have- many questions would await them upon their arrival home. It would be better to have a body with which to demonstrate what they knew...and what they suspected.
A short, almost one-sided argument ensued. Parker, despite his failing nerves, felt that they should press on, and leave the corpse wrapped up in the frozen snow until their return. It was their duty, he said, to take vengeance on the beast that had done the deed. Lee had begun to worry for the health of his companion: Parker had been jumping at shadows all morning. His eyes had started to acquire a wide, stary look common to those in shock. Lee voiced his objections, but eventually buckled under Parker's tirades. If he would not go along, claimed Parker, than he himself would follow the path- alone. Whether moved by concern for his fellow man, or fear of making the lonely journey back home, Lee gave in..
They left the camp at midday.
The trek northward through the forested foothills grew increasingly ominous. A heavy silence blanketed the wilderness, and neither man was eager to break it for long. Often one or the other of them would whirl around, certain that for a moment he had seen something flit past the corner of his eye...but there was nothing.
The day drew on, and the slate gray sky began to darken. The hunters were loath to make camp. Though they admitted it not even to themselves, they both held a mortal fear of the forests that surrounded them, and with the night came the fear of things unknown, and death.
As the last of the light went out of the sky, and it became apparent that they would have no choice but to make camp, Lee spotted a point of flickering flame, far off ahead of them.
Another hunter? Surely none of the others had ventured so far. Who could possibly have reason to camp so deep in the wilderness? Curious, the men continued toward the light of the fire. To their dismay, it seemed to elude them, to retreat just as rapidly as they advanced, and it was some hours before they appeared to make any progress toward it.
At last, in the darkest hours of the night, they stumbled wearily into the circle of firelight.
The figure that sat before the fire was so strange, so out of place, that for a moment both men were struck dumb, and they merely stared.
The man was old, that much was obvious. His long gray beard was almost indistinguishable from his equally long and shaggy gray hair. Twin eyes, like burning coals, glittered from a hard and wizened face.
He was naked from the waist up.
Below his spare frame, thin deerskin breeches and mocassins adorned his feet and legs. He appeared unaffected by the cold, and he sat Indian-fashion on the snowy earth.
He smiled at them and bared his teeth.
This drove Parker into a curious rage. He brandished his rifle at the man and demanded he explain himself and his actions. The man spoke not at all, but merely smiled in the firelight. Lee talked his companion down from the strange anger that had taken him, and advised that they both make camp for the night, as the hour was growing late. Though even Lee felt wary of sleeping in sight of the strange old creature, their options seemed few. A heavy wind had sprung up out of the northwest and brought with it spitting snow. Lee turned to the strange man, and asked if they might camp near him for the night. The man said nothing, but nodded, and smiled his toothy smile again. Lee noted that, despite his great age, the old man's teeth were very white and sharp. He did not mention this to his companion.
Each man took to his tent, and despite the dread that lay heavy on their minds, both fell almost immediately into a deep sleep.
Sometime later, Lee was awoken by the howling of the wind outside his tent. In his half-dreaming state, he imagined that the wind whispered a word as it came down out of the mountains.
A creeping dread stole over Lee. At length, he opened the flap of his tent and peered outside. During the night, the winds had turned icy-cold, and the spitting snow had become a hail of icy needles. Lee craned his head and saw that the flap of his companion's tent lay wide open. The tent billowed in the wind. The hunter was suddenly convinced that Parker had gone out into the storm alone.
Something startled Lee from his daze, and he found himself looking upon the old man, who still sat before the dying fire. The old man smiled.
"Where is Parker?" Lee heard himself whisper.
"Gone," said the old man. "Gone out into the wastes."
"Who are you?"
"I am nobody."
"Where is the Eater."
"The Eater is everywhere. The Eater prowls the lonely places of the world. The Eater walks the forests and valleys, alone and hungry. The Eater is me. The Eater is you." The old man smiled his fang-grin again. "The Eater is many. The Eater roamed this land before the ancestors of Man first raised their eyes to the stars above. The Eater is primal; alive."
"Why take our livestock?"
"Payment," spoke the old man.
"Payment for what?"
"For allowing you to encroach on the lonely places of the world."
"And the child?"
The old man crossed his arms. "I know of no child."
Silence, but for the howling of the wind.
The old man spoke again: "Deep in the heart of winter is when we feast, hunter.
We too have our traditions of old. To come here is to deliver yourself into the jaws of the Beast. Would you live, hunter?"
"Yes," whispered Lee.
"Then leave this place and never return. There are older creatures than the Eater in these mountains, hunter. They whisper your name on the wind. They called your companion. Pray they never call you."
And suddenly Lee could hear it. A susurration on the wind, a whisper in his ear.
The fire went out
Such a terror overtook the hunter that he leapt up from the campsite and fled blindly into the night, crying and shouting the names of his companions. The storm caught his words and blew them back into his ears, until all he could hear was the idiot wind, whistling out of the forgotten places of the world, calling him...
He collapsed, and lay there in the snow, and before the life fled from him and his eyes closed, he imagined he saw a great gray wolf watching him hungrily from beyond the line of trees...
And then all was darkness.
By Keith Villamor
Edward closed the door behind Connie, his wife, as she left for the dinner party. The last thing he saw was the hem of her red dress being sucked into the car just before it drove off. He pretended to be sick. He wasn't really, but Connie was always overprotective of him so it was easy to get her to believe him. He needed to be sick and not with her tonight. He needed to be far away from her.
Connie was going to be killed tonight and he needed an alibi.
Edward waited impatiently in the living room. His nerves were a mess and in shambles. He needed something to occupy his hands, so he grabbed the nearest thing he could find which happened to be their wedding photo. They were married in 1947. A big celebration that was paid for by his now deceased, but very wealthy, father-in-law. They were so happy back then. Happy, shining faces that still had that look of ever-loving that all couples had in the beginning. And now it was 1958. Eleven years later and she was cheating on him. He didn't really have any concrete proof, but he had a very good hunch. She was going out more often, without any real reason or excuse to do so whenever he asked her why. He could hear her get into their uptown apartment late at night, and feel her crawl into bed beside him. He could smell another man's aftershave on her skin when she got close to him as she slept. He would pretend to be asleep, pretending that he never knew the next morning. Faking ignorance. Not anymore.
He tossed the wedding photo onto the nearby couch.
It was exactly one week ago that Edward spoke to "The Voice", at least that's what he was known as. He had gotten The Voice's phone number from an associate at work.
"We need to know her pattern...."
The Voice explained his method to him over the phone during that fateful day. He (that much he was sure about) sounded gruff and smoky. He could imagine him sitting in a darkened room with nothing but the phone in one hand and a cigarette in the other.
"...it'll look like a common mugging. Grab her purse, the guy's wallet. Kill them both."
"How much ?"
"$2000. Half that up front."
It was steep, but Edward didn't care about the price. He wouldn't need his job at the post office after this was over. His name was the sole benefactor in Connie's will. He needed the money. He owed a lot to some bookie's that wanted their money on some badly placed bets he had made. This was like killing two birds with one stone. This was a perfect opportunity.
"Deal. How will I know when it's done ?"
"I'll send you a photo of the two of them together to your place....call it a gift..."
And now that's what Edward was waiting for. That photo of his wife and her lover together just before they were both to die. It would serve her right that lying whore. That cheating bitch.
Edward woke up to a scratching sound near the door of the apartment. He had fallen asleep. He got up and went to the door and there it was in a manila envelope. The photograph. At first he didn't want to touch it. He lost his nerve and wanted to just pick it up and throw it away into the fireplace. But then he remembered the smell of aftershave on his wife's skin and before he realized what he was doing the flap was already open. He pulled out the photo. It was a large print in colour. He saw a shot of a tall handsome man wearing a grey suit and red tie walking arm and arm with his wife in her red dress and matching shoes. It was over. She was dead. And despite the morbid, creepy, feeling on his spine, he couldn't help but grin. He got revenge. She had gotten what she deserved. He was about to put the photo back into the envelope when something in the picture caught his attention, and caused him to freeze. It was the colour of yellow hair peeking from underneath his wife's hat.
His wife's hair was black.....
He took a closer look and was instantly horrified. His hands began to tremble and he dropped the photo onto the hardwood floor.
That wasn't his wife in the picture.
He tried to plead his case with The Voice :
"...but.....but... you ki-....she's the wrong woman ! That's not my wife !"
"You've paid for my services. I've done my job."
Edward looked at the phone. His lip was quivering and his heart was pounding. He didn't care.....he didn't care that he killed the wrong woman....
He let the phone slip from his hand to the floor. He went straight to the dining room and sat down at the table. He killed the wrong woman ! What happens now ? They were both dead, that woman and her companion...they were both dead....strangers....people he had never met and never will meet in his life. He had them killed.
The night passed very slowly for Edward. It was like the clock was moving in tiny inches making the hours feel like a millennia. He passed the time thinking, crying, angry, and drunk. There were two empty brandy bottles on the expensive glass coffee table, and a wine bottle was about to join their cousins. His eyes hurt from all the sobbing and his head began to pulse with the oncoming headache brought on by the booze and his thoughts.
What was he thinking hiring a killer ? This had to be the dumbest thought he had ever had ! This had gone all wrong. Not only was his cheating wife not dead, but he didn't have the money to pay the bookies he owed. He grabbed the bottle and gulped down as much as he could before he began to choke. He took the bottle into the bedroom and fell upon the bed. He was clutching the photo in his other hand. What if they were able to trace the murder back to him ? What if The Voice gave him up ? He could go to jail. He could be executed for murder. He gulped more wine and cried himself to sleep.
He awoke to the sound of crinkling plastic. He looked around and saw that he was lying on a huge sheet of plastic that had been laid on top of the bed. In fact the entire room was covered in it. He was about to get up to try and figure out what was going on, when a voice in the dark stopped him cold.
"Who's the woman in the photo ?"
It was still fairly dim but he could tell it was Connie. She was sitting in a chair facing the bed holding the photo in one of her gloved hands. She was still in her red dress and shoes. Her face was gazing at him coldly.
"I...I...can explain -"
"No need to. I already know everything."
She raised her other hand and shot him in the face with a silenced pistol.
Connie had taken the initiative.
She knew about Edward's plan. She had a feeling he would get too close finding out about Stephen and her. They had been together for almost three months now, deeply in love and she wanted to run off with him when he proposed to her. She was willing to confront Edward about it. Get a divorce and settle things civilized-like. But then Stephen told her about his plan.
Stephen - "The Voice".
Hired killer by trade.
So they made a counter-plan of sorts. Photograph two friends of Stephen, one wearing the exact same dress as Connie, make Edward think that he's just killed two innocent people, and then kill Edward. The gun was bought off the streets, the suppressor Stephen's. The body will be dumped in the river where the police will find it, search the house and find his betting slips, and the murder will be just another collection from the neighbourhood bookies. It also yielded the large insurance policy that Edward had taken out on himself. Her being the sole benefactor and all, would claim it.
A perfect wedding gift from her former husband.
She got up, took the photo and headed out of the bedroom. Stephen would be here any minute to get rid of the body.
By The Count Edmond Fernand Mondego
Stay near me-do not take thy flight! A little longer stay in sight!
Much converse do I find in Thee,
Historian of my Infancy!
Float near me; do not yet depart!
Dead times revive in thee:
Thou bring'st, gay Creature as thou art!
A solemn imgae to my heart,
My Father's Family!
Oh! pleasent, pleasent were the days,
The time, when in our childish plays,
My sister Emmeline and I
Together chaced the Butterfly!
A very hunter did I rush
Upon the prey;-with leaps and springs
I followed on from brake to bush;
But She, God love her! feared to brush
The dust from off its wings.
By Katherine Code
You gave me
Red as the blood
That coursed through your veins
Giving you life.
You told me
Was a symbol of your love
Red as the fire
That coursed through your veins
Giving you life.
I still have.
Pressed between two sheets of wax paper,
It has dried.
The green of the leaves,
Of the stem,
The red of the petals,
Once delicate and moist,
Hard and brittle.
But the rose
Is still fragrent.
When I close my eyes
I also inhale memories
Of your love.
Katherine Code, 1994
By Maryvonne CM Martin
Because of you,
If my heart had wings
There are no heights it wouldnąt conquer.
Because of you,
If my heart could sing
There are no notes it couldnąt render.
By Ankur Dnyanmote
The day begins with the light
that filters through the clouds.
Glipmses of dreams from the previous night
pass before the eyes that stare into the woods.
Your memories come to a groggy mind
your thoughts warm a beating heart,
I get up to leave the night behind
Looking forward to a fresh start.
I know I will see you soon
yet I call you like a lovelorn fool.
You are living there in a distant world
You say you may see me before noon.
I walk through the noon and the evening too
There is no sign of you though I am out of things to do
I call you yet again...like a lovelorn fool
but there's an empty sound at the other end of the school.
The evening passes and the skies turn blue.
Somwhere a mocking bird sings a song,
while I stand alone to watch the sky change hue.
"The blue has turned the day too long."
I walk home as the day is over.
I think of you and wonder,
What may you be doing now,
as the sky is busy changing color?
Everywhere it is darkening now.
My shadows threaten to leap on me.
I take a look at the surreal sky above,
I seek some moon that I cannot see.
I open the door to end the day
I shut it behind me and hear me say,
"Call her just one more time,
and then you can drive her out of your mind!"
Your voice is tired and you want to be
by yourself and your life... away from me.
I eat a bit and smoke a bit
It is almost time to turn out the light
In the dark again you haunt me soon
I hear you say that you will see me by noon
The noon has gone and the evening too
It has been eternity since I've last seen you.
I close my eyes, and my mind to you.
Chaotic slumber begins its raid
invading all the countless thoughts
behind the things that you had said!
Sometime after I have gone to sleep
I see you come and talk to me
In yet another dream I see
You are the one I imagined to be
Love is again a conversation,
a masquerade of reality.
I begin to say that I love you
but before I do, you say the same to me.
The night passes with such wishful dreams
the dawn peeks and awakens me.
Your thoughts come to a groggy mind,
I wake up to leave that dream behind.
It stays there all day long,
Till the mocking bird ends the song.
It waits for me to return to sleep,
for now it lets reality deal with me.
By Greg Walklin
When the rose came to me
It came alone, disparate of
Afforded by its genius green stem,
Petals brushed up against;
And a bud so fine, so taut
It could grip time.
I ran my fingers up the stem
Feeling first a casual caudex,
A realization of
Worthless thorns as protection is extinct.
No note: no plan: no explanation;
No cause for visitation; so taut
It would grip on time.
My thought always wander as I walk
Past rosebushes, disparate of
A true feeling,
The rose remained alone;
Introspectively I clamor, stammer and run
To the rosebushes to pick one for myself;
As I grip on time, I let loose my hand.