Reality

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I was recently reminded of a time of playing in the woods as a child, and watching the early morning fall fog roll over the moss covered, old fallen and rotting cedar logs.

Reality, my reality, is a certain state of mind. It is green pine needles and fire colored leaves, wet moss and dense fog oozing through lichen-covered trunks of tall trees. It is working the land for my food and learning the nuances of all the animals that I meet. It is endless hours of just being and thinking and doing.

In nature, time is completely different. It is not regulated into minutes, hours and days of the week, but into the things you have managed to accomplish by the time it is too dark to see outside and the odd flukes of life: Like having to chase three large piglets and their four hundred pound parents back into their pen, or else every crop you have just planted will be uprooted and eaten. Or dancing around a twenty-foot tall bonfire in bare feet while listening to AC-DC. Or rounding up a couple of hundred chickens in the middle of the night because they are too dimwitted to go back into the poultry building by themselves. Or maybe it is the times when you’re sitting down at the table in the orchard eating food that you’ve grown from a seed and nurtured for weeks, surrounded by people with a warm feeling in your chest and a big dumb grin on your face for no reason at all.

Reality could also be any of those near death experiences, where you stop, muscles ridged, and think, “I should be dead right now…but I’m not…..” and then you relax and in the back of your mind, you think, “…That was fun.”  Those are all things that are real because your inner being is saying in a satisfied tone, “Yes, this is real.” And when those kinds of things happen, you realize that time is really not all that important.

The other belief that I have is reality is what you believe it is. It is the reason behind believing what you see is real; that sixth sense that all humans have. Some have just been trained to ignore it. It is that sixth sense that you use when you are subconsciously aware of being watched, when the hairs on the back of your neck stand straight up. It is that weird feeling that something is going to go wrong, but you have no idea who or what it is that will be affected by that ghostly notion. It is that inexplicable connection that all humans are somehow connected with each other, and if you have been in any greenish area for any extended length of time, you have a feeling that we are also connected with nature on a deeper level.

You know, when you watch a particularly disconcerting movie that you have trouble seeing how it can be real, but you want to believe in it even though something in the back of your brain is sounding alarms, tell you otherwise? You notice something that is just the littlest bit wrong or impossible in “reality.”

It is that subconscious, bullshit meter, that I have come to rely on, in movies and in other certain select situations. To “trust your gut” has been my best way of telling when something looks real or feels real, but the truth is that that thing, or place or conversation never happened or was dreamt up.

Our perception of “reality,” the place and time that we humans perceive to be “real” is entirely governed by our brain. Every time someone says, “it is real because I can touch it. I see it and I can touch it,” I have to laugh. It may be real to your brain, but it could be far from real. We are afraid of things we cannot control. Because of that we lean heavily on our five senses and completely ignore the sixth. “The Matrix” is a perfect example of that. For all you know, that cup of coffee you are about to enjoy in nothing but electrical impulses being sent to your brain to make it think that what you are about to enjoy is coffee, when in fact it could be nothing at all and you are lying on a slab in some lab living your life…but only in your head.

“There is no spoon.” – from The Matrix.

Everything we see, touch, taste and smell is just a series of reactions in our brain. Maybe it is due to my overexposure to “The Matrix” at a tender and impressionable age and my inability to be compatible with electronics, like frequently frying my computer and having my files disappear for no reason, that has caused me to be suspicious of any non-nature related place and thing because of its undoubted hideous purpose. (Maybe the electronic issues are also due to the fact that I have been a firm believer of Judgment Day, where the machines take over the world, thanks to my parents for raising me on “The Terminator” series.)

I have always, even at an early age, seen nature as real and cities and urban culture as a lie with an ulterior motive. That somehow it is a less palpable existence to live in the city; that there is something very fundamentally wrong about great towers of concrete, rebar and glass.

Even though I do watch a lot of post-apocalyptic, zombie takeover, machine ruled and mind-bending movies that questions the very meaning of real like “Inception,” “Surrogates” and even “Blade Runner,” I have always had a kind of detachment with “reality” because the characters and worlds in my head are so real, it can be hard to distinguish between the things in my head and the things that are going on around me some times.

There is another interesting dimension of reality. Cyberspace. “Surrogates” is a perfect example. It is in the future, where everyone has a robot double that they live their lives through. Isn’t that real? People living as someone else in a world where there is no limit to possibilities. Where we can even escape death. You see it all the time in video games. “I’m down to one life, stop shooting me.” I hear that all the time when I watch my brother play on his Xbox. You can get so fully immersed in something that is just code, that it plays tricks with your perceptions. And those experiences can teach and change you. You can learn the best way to kill someone that won’t attract attention and what to do with the body and evidence. You can experience pain without actually feeling it and you can be a galactic hero who stands by his/her moral and ethical choices. You can see and feel all of that emotionally. Isn’t that reality?

I have found that when I am on the farm, however, that that place is without question “real.” There is no wondering if I am actually sitting in a “real” place and therefore, I am not left fearing some of the horrifying creatures in my head will start crawling through the open window. At the farm, those things have a clear place. Aka, firmly trapped inside the confines of my skull and not playing havoc with my sanity. There has always been a fine line in humans. A line that can blur when dealing with artists and being crazy. That is an all-together different kind of reality, a reality that has many layers to take into consideration.

In cities, it is far easier for me to lose the significance of reality. You look at things everyday there that have been artificially constructed, and I can only wonder how so many people seem to believe that such places are real.

Yes, they do get a dot on a map, but the city reminds me of a motherboard in your computer with all its laser calibrated straight lines and perfect angles. I realize that the world runs thanks to those cities, but they never fail to make me feel like a lab rat in a maze with the promise of cheese at the end of the puzzle, but only if I can find a way to get to it. Everything is so grand and plain and filled with distractions. How anyone can think it to be more real than living in a rural community is beyond me. City people are so sheltered and ignorant about things that matter, that could save someone’s life, that could better their life inside of the closed off habitat that has its population brainwashed.

Everything in a city can be so easily warped by my brain, that even though I a photograph is a clearly accurate rendering of say, a cityscape, all I see is a nicely furbished cage that looks pretty from a distance.

© 2014 Morgan Krepky. All Rights Reserved.

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Jacinta: from “Demons”

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Jacinta walked through the apartment building door that a young tenant, Paul, held open for her as she rushed up the cement steps.

“Thanks, Paul!” she said, out of breath, as she passed him.

He smiled and waved as the door shut. Jacinta walked up the ugly mauve carpeted steps, taking her time. She scrunched her nose in disgust as tacky sweat dripped down her back beneath her thick, soft, brown sweater. The stairs creaked and squeaked beneath her feet as old wood is prone to do. The air was musty and stale. The old plaster walls absorbed every scent that passed through the rundown florescent lit halls, trapping them in a suspended state, never diminishing, no matter how often the place was Febreezed. Tonight, amongst the familiar smells of old shoes, pizza, and bleach was that of cigarettes. Smoke still floated lazily about the ceiling and light fixtures. The smell: sharp and dull, thick was mixed faintly with potato chips. Barbecue flavored.

Her breath was back by the time she made it up to her floor (the apartment has no elevator, like many others that were built in 20’s). Jac took from her knitted pocket the infamous key ring. It jangled with many gold, silver and bronze colored keys. It sparkled with the purple glitter of a bell and the slick flash of a glazed fish, its body wiggled with every slight movement. The hollow sections were held together by steel rings, making the charm appear to flop and flip with a mind of its own.

Jac hunted for the key to her door. Finding it, she let herself in. Turning on the main hallway light, she let the heavy, solid, green painted door slam close on its own behind her. she absently locked it and walked down the tiny, narrow hall into the main room. SHe flipped on a light. The room was littered with books and magazines that she will never likely get to read until winter break. Then she could take them with her back home to see her family in Florida.

School papers all but hid a table from view, its soft yellow wood legs gleamed happily in the light from the floor lamp. Jac walked over to the old bronze lamp and set he backpack down next to it. She looked around the cluttered room for a long while, organizing in her head what she needed to get done. She sighed deeply and looked at the floor boards under her feet. The heavily polished wood glittered a deep red under her quiet blue shoes.

© 2014 Morgan Krepky. All Rights Reserved.

Spaghetti Red: Ch 1: Outlaw – Draft

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I took a drag on my cigarette and contemplated the ice melting in the amber liquor. The rough-cut cubes chinked against the perspiring glass as they settled. The abandoned bar was dark and smelled of old vomit, body odor and dust. The ruby butt of my cigarette glowed in the gloom. I had been content to sit on my stool, hunched over and brooding, an elbow resting on the dirt caked counter when trouble walked through the open doorway. He didn’t say anything, just stood there with the boiling afternoon sun at his back. He loomed in the doorway like a Reaper waiting to cash in on its next soul.

“I’m calling you out, Black Dog.”

I took a sip of my whiskey, snorting into the glass. My Reaper is a brat. His voice had cracked at the beginning of his declaration. I sighed. The Devil still hires young, I see. Even in these days of relative peace…I heard the creak of leather and the groan of the bug-eaten floorboards.

“You don’t want to do that, son.”

I heard him tense. In the crystal of my glass that I held up in front of my face, I saw him: a watery shadow. He raised his gun…aimed. Kids just can’t wait to die these days. His breath came hard and fast. He had never killed anyone before. The hammer cocked. I whirled. BANG! He had walked up behind me, close enough for me to grab his wrist and pull him off balance. I whipped my glass hard into his skull. It shattered and he dropped, blood started to sheet down his face. I stood over him; the sunlight crept in through the doorway. I threw my coat over my shoulder and stepped over the boy into the desert light. I stopped, sighed, squeezing my eyes shut. I heard Danny’s parting words in my head forbidding me to just leave. “Don’t leave a mess, Jack.”

“Damnit, Danny.”

*****

Blackness. A groan.

“Good, you’re awake.”

The brat lay tied to the bed, head wrapped like a mummy.

“Be glad I even had bandages…let alone clean ones.”

Fuzzy eyed and disoriented, my would-be killer looked around the room. He tried to get up, noticed the restraints and collapsed back to the bed with a groan. He pulled at the cuffs, testing them.

“Those aren’t comin’ off, kid.”

He gritted his teeth and tried to sit up again, but didn’t get very far. Sweat dotted his skin and his eyes listed to the side as his concussion got the better of him. He sunk back into the cushions.

“What’d you do t’me?”

“I gave you a concussion,” I said around a cigarette. I struck a match and held it to my cancer generator. The kid looked confused. I didn’t blame him. Having been in his shoes before, I could understand. I exhaled smoke.

“The only reason I even bothered to fix you up is because of that old woman. Be thankful brat, she saved your life.”

“What? What w— ” He looked sick.

“Don’t vomit on the sheets. I ain’t changin’ ‘em.”

He shut his eyes and breathed, attempting to settle his stomach. After a few minutes he said, “Why didn’t you kill me?”

I studied him a moment. I knocked ash off into a trey on a dresser by the wall I was leaning against. The boy opened his eyes, gazing blearily at the cracked yellow ceiling.

“You murdered my father,” he said quietly.

I folded my arms, cigarette in hand and looked down at the floor. I sniffed, looking up and away from him.

“Yeah… Sorry about that.”

“You’re sorry,” his words, rough as rust, cut across the small hotel room.

“Yeah, I’m sorry.”

He was silent a moment.

“Why?” he whispered the question, his voice young and raw. I didn’t have to see the tears to know that they were there. I lowered my eyes, recounting the disaster of last year’s shoot out. There wasn’t much point in telling the kid what happened that day. The drugs I had given him for the pain would blot out most of our conversation anyway. Even so, I felt he should know. He deserved that much for coming so far. He couldn’t be more than 15, but he had tracked me clear into the Outlands. That took no small amount of skill.

“Your father was just doin’ his job. No one was supposed to die that day, but…I had to make a choice. I chose wrong.”

The kid didn’t say anything. I looked up. He was asleep. I snorted.

“Figures.”

Watching the boy made me feel ancient. Had I ever been that young? Yeah, I suppose I had. Back then I had been full of anger, vengeance and resentment. I had had a need to run through life like it was a race. I rode, fought, gambled, argued and drank harder than anyone else. I was reckless; a “tornado personified,” Danny had always said. I smiled at the memories. Those had been the days.

I looked outside at the deep blackness of the freezing subzero night. The weather-controlled bubble of the Capitol was sorely missed here in the asshole of the world. And the kid had followed me out here. Idiot. He was city down to his ridiculous shoes. He didn’t belong out here. Even so I didn’t see him heading back to civilization willingly, but I couldn’t very well have him putting his damn fool life in jeopardy for a vendetta. I sighed and looked at the bed.

“I’m being punished, aren’t I?” I said to the sleeping boy. He snored softly. I put out the light.

*****

I woke up to dull and muddled agony. Dear Gods, my head. I groaned and opened my eyes. The dingy, rundown hotel room creaked and moaned. Pale light pooled in from the window kitty-corner from the bed I was laying on, lighting up the old wood floor. I was alone. I vaguely remembered talking to Black Dog, the man who had murdered my father in cold blood, but I couldn’t recall much of what had been said. My eyes fell on the small table next to the bed. A key lay on top of it. I reached for it but was halted by the restraints. I stared at them and then at the key.

“You have got to be kidding me.”

Two hours later I was panting and upside down. The key was had fallen off onto the floor. I had taken my shoe off in an attempt to grab it with my toes, but to no avail. Now I was mostly upside down reaching for it with my tongue and teeth. Almost………! I grunted a sound of joy. Wriggling back up into an upright position, I dropped the card into my lap and wriggled it over to my wrist. I turned the cuff, rubbing the metal up against the key. Boop. The cuff popped open.

“Yes!”

Using my freed hand I swiped the card over the scanner. Another quiet boop. I practically jumped off the bed. Leaning dramatically over to the left, my head injury toppled me over. I lay there a second, surprised and annoyed. Every second I wasted here was a second that murderer was getting away. I crawled to my effects that were heaped at the foot of the bed.

I burst out of the hotel door and jerked to a halt. The outlaw stood a ways off, gun drawn and aimed at my chest. He tossed his cigarette to the ground and stepped on it. I swallowed and leaned back instinctively. The white light of the sun was at the older man’s back, casting him in a hazy shadow.

“I thought I’d save you the trouble of findin’ me again,” he said, his voice calm and rough as old tree bark.

“Took you long enough, though. At the rate you were goin’ I thought you were never gonna figure it out.”

“I suppose it means I would not make a good thief,” I said, eyes locked on the matte black gun.

“S’pose not.” He cocked the hammer.

“What now,” I asked. “You going to kill me?”

He huffed and grumbled, dropping the aim of the gun.

“What the hell is with you and wantin’ to die so damn bad? I told you: It was a mis–take. And how do you know it was me that killed your pops, anyway?! I’m retired, damn you! Go hound some other poor bastard, I’m too damn old for this shit.”

I frowned.

“I was there. I saw you kill him.”

He holstered his gun and set his hands on his hips, posture stooped. He paced as he spoke.

“So what. He was by far not the first and none of those children or wives have come after me, before!”

I glared.

“What kind of excuse is that?! He was my father! As a Sheriff’s son, I have to uphold his honor and memory by bringing his killer to justice. Or die trying!”

“Boren Almighty, boy!”

He drew his gun faster than I could blink.

“Don’t bloody try it! Let me see your hands. Your hands!”

I withdrew my hand from the handle of my gun at my hip and held them up, palms facing him. My head pulsed and I felt sick. The cold wind ripped through my worn clothes, stealing any warmth. I shivered. The outlaw was silent for a few minutes staring at me. I could feel the intensity of his gaze.

“On Freedom’s Day last year,” he started to say, the anger gone from his voice. “No one was supposed to die.”

The aim of the gun dipped slightly.

“You weren’t the only one who lost people that day. It was supposed to be our last job.”

He stopped.

“Your father wasn’t supposed to be there. Jason lost his head because of the piece you Pops was wearin’. If he hadn’t seen it— Look, I know he was retirin’ that day. I heard him talkin’ to the dame at the counter. He was sayin’ how it was his last day and he was glad he would be able to spend more time with his family.”

Pain lanced through my chest. I hadn’t known it was his last day.

“He hadn’t seen us until Jason walked into the room. He’d been in the back locking up the guy we had just brought in. Jason had a price on his own head so he was antsy. I had tried to tell him, but…he saw your Pops and just fired. I don’t think he even knew he was a Sheriff.”

I felt heavy. Tears pooled in my eyes. I had heard the gun shot and had run to the marshal’s office where I had seen a blond man drop to the floor, Dad had shot him.

“My partner wasn’t much of a shot, but I didn’t even think when your Pops killed him, I just fired.”

I took a pained breath, arms still held weakly in the air. Two more men had entered the building and Black Dog had killed them both before running out of the building. I had remembered him screaming as the blond man fell to the floor.

“It was a mistake. One that I’m payin’ for, but I know that ain’t enough for you. I know what vengeance feels like, kid, and it never ends well.”

Tears spilled down my cheeks and the world blurred.

“Why are you telling me this?”

“I was hopin’ to inform your decision, as Danny would say. You should know the full story of what happened to your Pops before makin’ a choice. I would really, really like to not have to kill you, kid.”

I lowered my hands. My legs were giving out on me, my head pounded and I couldn’t see straight.

“What choice do I have?”

“You’re young, kid, you have all the choice in the world.”

I shook my head.

“No I don’t.”

I reached for my gun.

“Don’t.”

I pulled it out and aimed it at the blurry, wavering shadow.

“I made a promise.”

“Kid—“

I cocked the hammer. The crack of the gun rang out across the open desert. I dropped to the dirt, pain ripped through my leg. I heard jogging footsteps coming towards me. I moaned in agony. The freezing cold of the wind dug its icy claws into my bones. Blood flowed over the pale orange dirt. Shadow abruptly engulfed my world. I opened my eyes as the outlaw dropped to a knee beside me. He turned me onto my back, warm hands gently pressing against my shoulder and side. Quickly shrugging out of his coat, he threw it over me, instantly cutting off the cold. I heard the ripping of fabric.

“Easy, kid, you’ll be fine.”

A heavy weight pressed into the pain in my leg. I bit down on a scream.

“I know, I know. Easy.”

His gentle, sympathetic words followed me into the dark.

*****

I picked the brat up and carried him back inside the hotel. Laying him on the bed, I dug out the emergency kit I had hid under it. I had enough cloth left to make a decent bandage, but I was really looking for a tool to dig the bullet out with. I had missed the major artery, thank Boren, but he was still losing a lot of blood.

I took out my knife and par of metal tweezers from the kit.

“At least you had the sense to be unconscious for this part.”

*****

I was dozing in a chair when he finally stirred. I tipped up my hat and sat straighter. The boy moaned. I stood up and walked over to the side of the bed.

“How you feelin’?”

His blue eyes fluttered open. It took him a minute to focus on my face. He took a breath and looked at his wrist.

“I figured you couldn’t do much in this condition, so I didn’t bother with them.”

He looked back to my face, his brow furrowed.

“That was the second time I tried to kill you,” he murmured.

I grunted, “I’m glad you’ve retained your ability to count.”

“No, it’s…you haven’t killed me.”

I rolled my eyes and removed my hat.

“Good Lord, kid. Your fixation with death is startin’ to sound unhealthy.”

“Any other man in your position would have done me in. Why haven’t you?”

I sighed and leaned my hands on the mattress.

“I don’t kill children. Even if they have a death wish.”

The kid didn’t say anything for a moment.

“I’m not a kid…I just look it.”

I frowned at him.

“Whatever. I’m not goin’ t’ kill you, so drop it already.”

He was silent. After a while, I pulled up a chair and contemplated him from it.

“What’s your name?”

He licked his lips.

“Roderick .”

I nodded.

“Good name.”

Silence.

“Is your name really Black Dog?”

I smiled.

“No. Danny gave me that name.”

He waited.

“It’s Jack. Jack Avery Leyland.”

Roderick smiled weakly, eyes drooping with fatigue.

“Not a very good name for an outlaw.”

I stood and rested a hand on his shoulder.

“Yeah. You need to get some rest. You can try to kill me again later if you like.”

The boy smiled again and drifted off.

© 2014 Morgan Krepky. All Rights Reserved.

Spaghetti Red: Ch 1: Outlaw – Background

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I had started out, as a scrawny brat whose mouth got him in more trouble than would be considered healthy. I was lucky I hadn’t ended up dead before finding her: the woman who had changed my life.

I blew a smoke ring, watched it waver and fade. That fateful night… I’ll never forget her face. She had brought life, as I had known it to a sharp end. Both taking the only family I had ever known and giving me back a life long friendship.

The day that I had finally caught up to her, I had been out gunned, out smarted and so far out of my depth that I still don’t know how I had been able to walk out alive. That bounty hunter could have killed me with a whisper that night. In addition to being a greenhorn in the vengeance business, I was already near death as it was; dehydrated from too much liquor and half starved from wasting all my money on booze.

I had an ancient Colt with only three bullets; each one had her name on it. Not literally, but you get the picture. I had seen her walk out of a bar from an alley across the street, a chorus of catcalls trailed in her wake. Female bounty hunters were few and far in-between. Staggering out into the road, I pulled out my old heavier-than-Hell revolver and aimed it. I was still drunk and seeing double. I shot up a post and store front five feet from my intended target. It was a miracle that I didn’t kill any of the townspeople. I remember waking up three days later to a woman in white. I didn’t recognize her until she spoke,

“That, son, was the worst attempt on my life that I have ever had the fortune to witness.”

I had just stared at her, at a complete loss.

“And there I was thinking the convenience store was your target, when one of my boys said that they recognized you as the kid that was running with that bounty head we caught a few months back.”

“You killed him,” I had said, the tears rising.

“So we did,” she said.

I opened my mouth to ask why she hadn’t killed me then too, but swallowed instead as my chest and side tightened with pain. My head was pulsing in time with my heart. I groaned.

“Ungh…What’d you do t’me?”

“I shot you.”

“You what?!” I asked, alarmed.

“Ah,” she said. “You don’t remember, do you?”

“No, I don’t!”

“Loud mouth aren’t you,” she said by way of reprimand. I shut my eyes tight against a wave of nausea and pain. I sunk back into the bed.

“You were being a public disturbance, so I shot you. Twice.” She pulled a green apple from her blouse, pausing for effect and continued. “Paul clocked you on the head when you still tried to get up.” She shined the apple on her shift. “Stubborn thing, aren’t you?”

“Why ain’t I dead, then?” I said after taking in her words.

She sighed and took a bite of her green fruit.

“I wondered the same,” she said mouth full of apple. “I had figured that a kid who had tried that hard to get killed would just give up and die from his injuries.”

She made a vague gesture that encompassed the room. It was then that I realized I was in the town clinic. I noticed a bag with clothes overflowing from it on the bed next to mine behind the bounty hunter. She noticed my gaze and frowned.

“The town Doc is making me stay over and keep an eye on you. Somethin’ ‘bout responsibility.” She shrugged, taking another bite of apple. “I was just waitin’ for you to kick so that I could move on.” She paused, chewing her apple and was silent for a few minutes. I was tired. Too tired to even want to be angry with her. I stared at her through half lidded eyes.

“I guess you didn’t want to die after all.”

“I guess not.”

She studied me a moment from her perch, eyes considering. She cocked her head to the side, long brown hair falling over one shoulder.

“You have a name, kid.”

I met her gaze.

“Jack Leyland.”

© 2014 Morgan Krepky. All Rights Reserved.

D’Artagnan le Roi Deveroix

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My name. Some say that a name shapes the soul. Well if they are right, I wonder what my name has done to shape mine?

My name. I have so many that I tell others, but only one is truly mine. Is it Dirk, Cole, Cameron, Mike, Tony, Jason, Roy, or Dart? There are so many others that I don’t even know who I am anymore. Even so I have never forgotten the name my mother gave me.

D’Artagnan Jaques Demont le Roi Deveroix.

Yeah, it’s a long one. And I would describe myself more like “white trash” than French. My mother was French I think. I don’t really remember. I was seven when she was shot and killed in a parking lot for the engagement ring on her finger. I’ve always wanted to meet the asshole that did it and tell him that it was a fake. But I’m sure by now that he knows that. I don’t even know if they ever found the guy.

As I pondered things worth pondering, the bus I was sitting in came to a stop. I got up from my slouch and rubbed my eyes. Had if fallen asleep? A voice sounded over the intercom, “Last stop. All passengers must disembark.”

I looked around. The bus was otherwise empty. Standing, I shuffled down the hall, still blinking sleep out of my eyes. I waved a quiet thanks at the driver who grunted, “Have a good night.” I mumbled something back.

I stepped off the bus and as it left, I sighed, rubbing the heels of my hands into my eyes. I blinked and looked around.

I had stepped on the bus at Portland, Oregon and had been transferring until I was pretty far north. I stared at the sign that read “Welcome to Canada” in English and something else that I guess could be French. I’ve heard they speak that up here. When the hell had we passed the boarder?

I have worked more jobs in more states than most, but I had never left the country before. How the hell did I get past the boarder? I don’t even have a passport.

I turned and took in my surroundings. A pit stop (you couldn’t call it a town) had a neon sign blinking the words “Inn. Room available.” I crossed the empty highway road and dug through my pockets for my wallet. I flipped it open and stared into its gaping mouth. A lonely twenty sat in the leather. I winced, but with no better idea, I walked into the inn. The bell jingled and an older woman with greying hair and a frown looked up from her paperback novel.

“Can I help you, son?”

I walked up to the counter.

“Yeah, uh. The sign outside says you have a room available?”

“You from the states?” she asked without answering my question.

“Uhhh. Yeah. I don’t really know how I got here. I mean I know how I got here, but…yeah, I have no idea where here is…”

She looked me up and down. I can guess what she saw: A young white boy with red-black hair and scars on his knuckles and face that stood out in a stark blue. Wearing jeans with more holes than would be considered stylish, a black hoodie that was worn out on the collar and hem with the ties missing and replaced with a shoelace, a tan jeans jacket over it that had paint stains amongst dirt and who knows what else and converse shoes that had seen much better days. They were wrapped in duct tape. I must have looked like I spent most of my nights in a gutter.

I felt a blush crawl its way across my face.

“I took a bus,” I mumbled.

She raised an eyebrow and said, “Rooms are fifty bucks a night.”

The blush darkened and I shoved my wallet back into my coat pocket.

“Thanks,” I said and headed for the door.

“If you don’t mind working for a place,” she called after me. I turned. She continued, “Ask for Connie, tell her Jenin sent you. She’ll put you up and give you something to eat. She owns the bar at the other side of town.”

“Thank you,” I told her and left. She went back to her book.

I stepped inside the bar. It wasn’t that bad of a place. I had worked in bars before, but they had looked much worse and had smelled of vomit, cigarettes and bad beer. This place smelled of beer and cigarettes all right, but the atmosphere was much nicer. Better music too. The patrons looked mostly to be truck drivers and they were scattered about the place. Some of the patrons talking to each other while others played pool or informal poker in the back room. Still, most sat at the bar watching the TV that displayed sport reruns, mostly football and soccer. A red-haired woman that looked on the far side of thirty with white streaks in her hair that looked like they had been done on purpose, but I could be wrong. The things that women do to their hair are beyond me. I don’t do anything to my hair, which is probably why it looks like I had escaped a tornado. I shoved impatiently at the dark chestnut bangs that always dropped into my eyes. I needed a haircut.

I walked up to the bar table and shoved my hands in my coat pockets. I sat on a stool.

“Are you Connie?” I asked, half yelling over the noise of the TV. The red haired woman set an empty glass down behind the counter.

“Who wants to know?” she said.

I glanced at the television.

“Jenin sent me here.” I looked back at her and said, “She told me you would put me up if I worked for you.”

Connie gave me a look.

“She said that, huh?”

I shrugged. She frowned.

“Where are you from, kid?”

I blew at a strand of hair that had fallen back across my face. It stayed put.

“Florida, originally.”

“What are you doing here?”

“Don’t know. Fell asleep on the bus in Bellingham.”

She gave me another look. I gave another shrug.

“Aren’t your parents worried?”

“Never knew them,” I muttered.

“What?”

I shook my head. She seemed to be thinking.

“Andy, take over for me,” she said to a young man that came out of the back. She gestured to me to follow her. I walked with her into the back of the bar and then out the back door. As the wood door shut behind us, it shut the off the sound of the bar. Connie turned to me.

She gave me an appraising look.

“How old are you?”

I smiled, but didn’t answer. I was too tired to think of a believable lie anyway. The ID I had on me said that I was twenty-one, but even I knew that I didn’t look the part.

“Have you ever worked in a bar?”

“Yes.”

She huffed a sigh.

“I don’t try to make a habit of taking in strays, but if you work hard, I can give you the extra room above the bar,” she paused. She looked hard at my face. I stared back. She sighed and gestured to the door. “I’ll feed you first. Can’t have my workers looking like skeletons. It wouldn’t give me a good name if they did.”

My stomach growled on cue. I blushed. Connie just shook her head and led the way to the kitchen.

Oh my Goooooood this woman could cook.

I shoveled the gravy-covered potatoes into my mouth and tried not to choke. Connie set another plate down in front of me heaped with bacon and eggs. A glass of orange juice appeared later when I had plowed through the potatoes. I drained half of it and then started on the eggs and bacon.

“Jesus, kid. When was the last time you ate?”

I gulped down an egg and wiped my mouth with a napkin before answering.

“A while ago.”

She gave me a look that said she knew it had been more than a while.

“Don’t make yourself sick. Come back into the bar when you’re done. The door will lock behind you; leave your stuff in here. You can get it later.”

I stepped outside to dump the trash bags in the waste bins back behind the bar. The gravel of the pothole littered road crunched and ground under my feet. One of the bags had ripped and a can fell into a puddle. I dumped the bag in the bin before heading back for it. I dug it out of the water and stood up, looking at it, not really paying attention to where I was going.

… to be continued.

© 2014 Morgan Krepky. All Rights Reserved.

Demons: Excerpt

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Still, silent and cold, Andy sat in the woods, ass wet from the dew on the leaf covered grass. He had his arms wrapped around his knees, hugging them to his thin chest. He liked the outdoors; life was simple here. The smell of the dead leaves and the coming rain was like the sweetest of all perfumes. Even with the full moon, it was so dark that Andy couldn’t see more than a few feet in front of his thin, freckled face. Andy felt safe here, this was the one place no one could hurt him.

You, can’t hurt anyone here, you mean.”

Andy’s skin jumped and he twisted violently looked around, straining his eyes as he peered into he endless darkness.

“Who–Who’s there?” he called out, his voice an octave higher and thin.

A melody drifted to Andy’s ears from what seemed like all around him, the same voice singing. Andy, his hair, a soft brown mess, brown eyes wide with fear.

Little rabbit.” The voice cooed, a sudden whisper from behind him. He bolted to his feet, white hospital clothes sticking to his skin. He whirled around. Nothing but the dark gaped back at him, unwilling to unveil the form of the speaker.

Rabbit in the Woods, 

Ball of White,

All Alone…” The voice sang from behind him again, moving away, back into the depths of the forest. Andy stood stone still. The voice echoed as it reached the darkness of the inner woods, it’s melody reminded Andy of children’s’ rhymes that he heard as a child.

All Alone,

All Alone…

“Who’s there?!” Andy spun around again, shouting into the darkness.

Wolf,

Black as Night,

Smell the Rabbit…” The voice echoed again, filling the haunting woods with it’s rough, mocking melody.

All Alone,

All Alone…” Andy took a few steps back, trying to track the voice as it circled him. He squinted when he thought he saw movement, a flash of pink.

A person? Andy thought.

Andy jumped as the voice sounded suddenly close,

Here Rabbit,

Here Rabbit…” The voice was creepy and coaxing, like it was actually talking to a rabbit… Like it was talking to prey. Without thought, only pure instinct, as the fight or flight mechanism was flipped inside his brain, Andy ran.

A white streak, Andy ran through the woods, hopping over fallen logs, as fast as his slender legs could cary him. Behind him, he could hear the crunching footsteps of the creature loping behind him. He ran pell-mell down a hill.

Watch him Run…

The voice whispered, so close it sounded as if it spoke into Andy’s ear,

“What good fun.”

Andy jerked forward, adrenaline hitting him hard, making him less careful.

Wolf chase the Rabbit…” His face was etched in wild-eyed terror. The crash and earth-shaking rumble of an old tree being struck by behind him filled the dead silence of the forest.

Run rabbit, Run…

Andy whipped around a tree, cutting open his hand on a short broken branch as he grabbed the trunk, not slowing down. The forest was endless, suffocating Andy’s hope of escape with it’s indifferent stillness.

He jumped, fell, and slid down another hill, crashing into a large stream. Lying on his stomach, the ice cold water running over him, a large, flat rock propped up his chest and shoulder out of the stream, Andy turned. Gripping the big rock with one hand, the other pushed into the gritty silt of the stream, he looked back up the hill, waiting. Not daring to breath.

The voice was soft and dulled by the mound of earth and trees that Andy had fallen down,

Faster, Faster…

Andy, never taking his eyes from the hill, rose to all fours.

Here I Come!” the voice giggled.

Andy felt sick. He waited, dreading… After what felt like an eternity, his libs rooting themselves to the stream bed felt like stone, every inch of him ached, and he wanted to cry. He wanted to let go, he wanted to allow the stream carry him away, far away, but he remained, lungs burning as he held his breath. His ears strained in the smattering of moon light, what little of it managed to trickle through the canopy of leaves, that illuminated the small valley. Time passed. Stillness. Silence.

Andy took a breath and turned away from the hill. Hot breath abruptly hit his face, the thick stench of old, raw meat filled his mouth and nose. Nose to wide-eyed nose, the creature, kneeling lazily on a rock in the stream, one arm resting over his raised knee, stared at Andy. Andy froze, even his heart stopped for a full second, his brain useless in the face of his torturer. Confusion and another surge of fear clutched his chest and stabbed into his stomach. The creature that sat before him, confident and vile, was a young man. His neon pink hair stuck out in all directions, curled, matted and unwashed. The color reminded Andy of a childhood memory of his mother’s key chain. Amongst the bronze, silver and copper keys, swung a tiny, delicate pink dog bowl.

The man smiled, hollow cheeks wrinkling as his pale mouth stretched his face. Amber eyes gleamed back at Andy, hauntingly familiar. The creature grinned canine teeth at him,

“Woof.”

© 2014 Morgan Krepky. All Rights Reserved.