It's here! A cover! Also in a few days, the e-book! These are things that are happening! Woot!
Now that that's out of my system.... let's get to the actual cover. This here below is the cover for the NON-ILLUSTRATED version of the 365 collection. The illustrated one will be out later. After about 180 illustrations. Oh god oh heck I might be starting to hyperventilate about that amount again. Ok, steady steady steady breathing easy everything will be fine focus on this book and unclench your jaw....
I'm fine. Everything is fine. Here's the full cover:
Ngl, I kinda like it quite a bit more than I thought I would. Sometimes making covers is a process, and sometimes during that process, you go through many emotions. This was one of those times.
The illustrated version might go through a similar process.
With the 180 illustrations.
That's a whole hecking lot of illustrations.
Alright alright alright not thinking about that right now, just looking at this cover.
And we're calm again :D
When will this book be out? 27th-28th (of this here September). Really depends on Amazon. But trust me, there will be a lot of noise, made by me, when it's out.
And there will be a paperback. Which has a pretty sweet back cover.
Anyway more on that when that thing is in my hands! The book. Obvs.
As a shock to absolutely no one, there's been some major changes in the rest of the year because of the COVIDs, so the whole release schedule needed to be redone. Just upfront: THERE'S SOMETHING PRETTY COOL COMING OUT THIS MONTH. This month as in September 2020. Then some even cooler stuff at the end of October.
But before I get ahead of myself, the new release dates are as follows:
Will there be a cover reveal in the next few days? Oh you bet your bee-hinds there's gonna be a cover reveal! I'll reveal all of the covers! Well, all of the covers that are for this one single ebook. Which is 1 cover. Possibly 2. Hey, I might post the previous iteration that didn't make it on the finished book.
In the meantime, you can entertain yourself with a whole new thread of 365's worth of microfiction over at my Twitter here (click link through to the first tweet of the thread).
As the title says, there's going to be some wee bit of rescheduling.
As the protests over George Floyd's murder, and the continued police brutality and systemic racism, take place all over the world, I feel it would be in very poor form to just go about my business as per usual, advertising new releases, asking people to buy my product like nothing's going on. Because just like the pandemic, this isn't a single instance or an issue that only affects the few. This is a movement that speaks to underlying power structures and ideals in most western cultures. SO...
I'm pushing back publishing Why You Really Need A Werewolf, and focusing on something that might be useful for many right now.
When it's time for werewolf foolery, I'll update on a new release date and the cover. This could be next week, or next month. Or if it becomes evident that some absolutely ridiculous escapism might be needed right now, it can be sooner. But as of this moment. the June 10th release is cancelled and the project goes in to the TBA-pile.
Meanwhile, I'll have some freebies coming next week. Until then, stay safe and take care of each other.
Slowly shuffling into June is the best possible time to post a release schedule for the year, isn't it?
Ok maaaabey there have been mitigating circumstances that have put all schedules firmly in the bin and set them on fire. I would lie if I claimed that the pandemic has not affected creativity or productivity at all. But in the end what it did was merely push things off for a few months, so only a few things ended up dropping off from this year's schedule and on to the next, which is something I'm incredibly grateful for.
A release schedule for ebooks goes thusly:
Covers will be revealed as the last 7 months of this doozy wear on, and if there are any changes, I'll post about them on here.... since that whole Patreon thing and also the newsletter are still kind idk what even are these things do people read them or maybe they're some kind of a waffle.
I've also been doodling a social distancing comic over on Tumblr. Like this!
In all honesty, for the past few weeks I've been lucky if I've managed to make a loose sketch for it, never mind an inked page. Sometimes the world just gets you like that. And I just have to accept that I have a lot of loose sketches to finish off in the coming week. But you can catch them all at https://mimesatwork.tumblr.com/. When this [gestures at everything] situation has simmered down to a relative new normal, I'll put all of those sketches together into a little booklet. When will that be? Well, fingers crossed it'll be sooner than you think.
Until then, be excellent to each other!
Need something to occupy your time while indoors? Distract the kids or a spouse? Are you a fan of Star Wars? Then this might just while away a day or two, as your brain relaxes into the gentle rhythm of coloring somewhere around the lines.
Yes, it is a free coloring book of baby Yoda and Mando eating things.
The book is 10 pages long, though I've also left the front and back covers black and white, in case you want to color those too. The PDF can be downloaded from the sidebar, right under "categories", Or by clicking HERE.
This is what the images inside look like:
The book is totally free for personal use and you can copy it and send it to friends and family too. And it will remain totally free in perpetuity.
That is it. There is no catch.
Happy coloring and keep safe!
After many, many (many) months, nay YEARS, Bundt Cake is finally out. Not just on Amazon, but digital copies can also be found on Barnes&Noble, Kobo, Apple Books, Scribt, Tolino and 24Symbols. The ebook is also enrolled in expanded distribution so you can borrow it through places like OverDrive.
AND and,.. there is also a paperback.
One that looks mostly exactly like this:
What is it all about?
Well, there's your ace protagonist guy, and there's kind of an end of the world, which happens sometimes. And then things get a little weird and Mr Protagonist Dude (Cake Johnson) has to try and cope with it all the best he can. Maybe even make a difference? That is his plan, as soon as he finds his family and bits of his memory, and other things he lost on the way. There's also a very strong possibility something was done to him while he wasn't looking that will most definitely have pretty devastating effects on everyone.
Admittedly, as happy as I am to have my first born out in the world, it feels awkward and weird to promote anything at a time like this. At a time when most of us are either in quarantine or otherwise worried about the health and safety of everyone.
So while I will include links to the book on my page and in this post, I'd encourage anyone reading this to also check out my Twitter feed where I'm posting pages of a free baby Yoda coloring book, and doing daily microfiction under the #vss365 hashtag. That is all completely free content that will stay free as long as I can host it somewhere. I'm also retweeting links to other creatives' free content when I come across it. Off the top of my head, BadgeBomb.com and JanePorter.co.uk both have printable activity pages on their website, suitable for younger children.
I'm 2 pages away from completing the baby Yoda coloring book, which I'll then compile into a PDF that can be downloaded as a full coloring book. I'll figure out where on my page I can put a button for downloading it. After that? Well, we'll figure out what else I can make for you to make our social distancing more bearable, and less distant. More short stories? More comics? Definitely more Cake Johnson stories.
Keep safe and be gentle to yourselves!
Bundt Cake Amazon || Other
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Ms Bannister’s house was at the far end of the cul-de-sac. It was barely a cul-de-sac as there was almost an acre of empty grassland between her house and the nearest neighbors and Ms Bannister’s house stood alone at the very end of the street without a garage or much space to turn a car. The street just sort of stopped at her front door.
It was a little past noon as Cake drove by the last house on the street. It had a limp sign advertising Turnop for president in 2017 decorating an otherwise neat and minimalist yard. A small boy was crouched down behind the sign. He was playing with action figures, beating the dolls’ heads together.
Cake cruised to a stop next to a red pickup truck in his clunky -92 Buick. The door made a sad creak as he got out. The car needed a check up and some new dampers. Don’t we all, Cake’s heart sank as he thought of the additional costs. He walked around the car kicking the tires; they seemed to be holding up even if they weren't looking like it. He decided to rotate them in the evening.
He didn’t even want to think about everything that might be hanging by a hair inside the hood.
The front porch was low and dim. Cake stomped up the steps in his pink khakis and a white tee like a man determined to get his hands dirty. The khakis really belonged to his brother, passed down through a few years of disuse, or whenever someone needed clothes that could get dirty. This usually meant Cake had them. Brutus had worn them once at a Pride and they’d gotten permanently stained with a multitude of colors. The pants had quickly gotten demoted to work clothes. But technically, they were still Brutus’ as he would point out.
The house was immaculate but not exceptional. The gutters were clean and the front had a fresh paint job. There were small streaks of a dark paint on the very bottom corner of the door frame, but everything had a neatly uniform white and gray sheen to it. The door opened before he had the chance to ring the doorbell.
“You’re right on time, kid!” Ms Bannister squinted up at him. She was holding back two white goats wearing pajamas. One had bananas on it, the other owls. “Hold on a mo’, I’ll put these two ingrates in the basement and then I’ll show you the lawnmower!” She slammed the door to Cake’s face and there was a silence. A short cacophony of swears and broken glass sounded through the door before another silence.
The door opened again.
“To your left!” she marched past Cake waving her cane like a drill sergeant off to show some privates some ditches. “Your car!? Looks like a hearse!” she pointed as they passed the Buick.
“That’s why I like it, ma’am,” Cake said.
“Gertie! Everyone calls me Gertie!” Gertie quipped over her shoulder. “Even those Turnop fuckers over there!” She gestured over to the closest house with the sign on the front lawn. “Well, not the father! I think he calls me That Fucking Cunt!” Gertie chuckled.
“That’s a nice truck you have there,” Cake tried changing the subject as they passed around the side of the house to the back yard.
“It’s my ex husband’s!”
“Oh..,” Cake started. “I figured you didn’t get along with him much.”
“I didn’t!” Gertie waved her cane ahead of her. “There’s the tool shed!” She pointed at a tiny, worn shed at the far end of what looked like yet another football field of empty space.
“You sure have a lot of space here.” Cake ran his hand through his hair.
“Yeah! I bought the houses on either side and tore the ugly fuckers down! I don’t need no damn peeping toms and their spawn running under my windows all day!” Gertie pulled open the shed door. It was barely the size of a portable toilet, with a loose light bulb hanging from the ceiling and a myriad of illegal wiring criss-crossing the wall next to the door. ‘Wall’ seemed like a charitable term to use in this context, Cake thought.
“There’s the lawnmower!” Gertie pointed at a rusty little thing. It was a push mower. It was a push mower with sad, rusty blades turning over each other in a cylinder of brown despair and a set of ill-fitted wheels. One of them the original black and the other a dirty yellow half the size.
Cake fell silent. He could feel the wind drying out his open mouth.
“Ha! I’m just fucking with you!” Gertie burst out. She pulled the covers from another lawnmower, this one with an engine and a shiny orange coat of paint. “Works every time! You kids always think I’m some old coot crazy enough to mow the entire 20 acres with a fucking push mower!” she giggled. “Hell no! Use this! Oh and there are some old shrubberies at the east side of my plot! They’ve been cut down already, but if you could be a doll and dig the roots out while you’re there!” She pointed at a small shovel in the corner.
Cake sighed rubbing the back of his neck. “Sure thing, ma’am.”
He mowed the lawn.
And after that, Cake mowed more lawn.
The noon sun had long since peaked and was making it’s way into the evening streaking the sky with brilliant reds and oranges. Sparrows, robins and nightingales were chirping up a storm in the woods framing Ms Bannister’s plot, digging and swooping after insects come out to play in the evening. Even with the lawnmower grumbling like a broken rhino in the grass, Cake could hear the discordant symphony of the birds. And beyond the woods, the steady hum of the interstate a few miles away.
By 6pm he was finally done with the mowing with just the single muddle of roots to pull out.
The sheared stump stood defiantly in the middle of the field. It was black and dead and definitely housing some sort of a bug infestation. Cake stood for a moment estimating the right angle to begin his approach as the tangled mess of roots poked out of the ground here and there creating almost a moat around the former shrub. Finally he spotted a good enough in and dug the shovel into the roots with his boot. He twisted the shovel. The ground gave a cursory budge but the stump stayed put.
“Well shit...” Cake was wiping sweat from his brow.
He dug the shovel into a different spot and twisted again. The stump lifted and he could hear small roots snapping under the turf. But most of it remained unmoved.
“Really? After all this mowing? This is what you give me?” Cake cursed gesturing at the field. Irritated, he grabbed the little stump with his hands and almost immediately regretted the decision. The bark was dry and flaky and kept slipping in his palms. Whatever had built nests in the wood instantly went on the defense and he could see streams of black dots marching towards him from inside the stump and the air getting darker as their aerial comrades took flight. He squeezed tighter, rapidly blinking until he felt something lock between his hands and the wood. Cake dug in his heels and pulled. The dry bark disintegrated in his grasp and the remains of branches that had provided such a good grip dug into the sides of his palms. The harder he pulled, the deeper the withered remains pushed into his skin. It stung. Then it stopped stinging. The stump got firmer to grip as the blood from his hands wet the wood and the tiny roots kept snap snap snapping in almost a rhythm as he pulled and the mess of wood and blood and soil inched away from the earth until finally. A thick and satisfying pop. The stump, and Cake, flew back in an impressive arch, throwing earth up in the sky only for it to rain back down on him. Earth, stones, little creepy crawlies and then larger white chunks that bounced off his arms and landed on the grass as he was trying to shield himself from the onslaught of soil.
Cake brushed his beard and sputtered bits of grit from between his lips. The white t-shirt was decidedly not white anymore with dirt and streaks of blood from his hand making a postmodern pattern on it.
“Oh, fuck me.”
Cake looked down on himself as he got up. The skin on his hands was red and puckered up with blood seeping through which was a small blessing. At least that would clean the wounds a little bit. He wondered if his tetanus shot was still effective. Had he gotten a tetanus shot?
He bent down to pick up the stump to drag it off to the composting heap when one of the larger chunks laying on the ground caught his eye.
It had a beak coming out of it.
Cake picked up the watermelon sized lump and turned it around. Yup, that was definitely a skull with a beak. A very large skull with a beak. Almost like a human crossed with Big Bird. A goth Big Bird. The cousin of Big Bird, who was actually into death metal and didn’t like anyone on the Street except Oscar for shared bonding over garbage.
The eye sockets were huge and empty. The beak was a prominent outgrowth looking nothing like a nose, and very much like a beak. It had small serrated teeth-like things running along the edge of it. The back of the skull was a smooth creamy globe with barely visible light brown or yellow patterns, like animal tracks on a snowy field. But there was a very definitive jawline that pulled the bones into an oddly human-like shape.
Cake ran his hand over the skull brushing away loose dirt still clinging to the nooks and the almost soft surface of the skull.
“Wonder if this is real..”
He shook it upside down to see if there was anything inside it. Nothing seemed to rattle around and nothing fell out. The underside of the skull looked almost porous, like the edges of it had been burned with acid or decayed and the cell walls had worn thin exposing the empty cavities they were surrounding.
He sniffed it quickly.
It smelled of dirt and grass and gasoline.
Cake lifted the skull up to his face, brought it close and pinched his nose. He hesitated... then quickly pecked the skull with the tip of his tongue.
He stood still for a moment wondering what he was hoping to taste.
“I’ve been mowing this lawn WAY too damn long,” he muttered to the skull. “Do you know what a skull tastes like? No, no you don’t know what skull tastes like. What’s wrong with you?”
Stumped, he kicked the grass only to hit what looked like a piece of a spine. A little further off from that, a small femur-like bones and talons scattered white splinters shining between the fresh grass. He picked up a few and turned them over in his hands. They looked the same: bones picked bare, some with corrosion exposing cell structures, mostly in shapes he couldn’t identify. This was why paleontologist studied for many years, he figured, and he’d studied exactly zero years of How To Put Together Unidentified Bones.
“Whatcha got there, kid?!”
Gertie had somehow appeared behind him. Cake could’ve sworn she hadn’t been anywhere near the side of the yard he was pulling roots from.
Then again, it was getting dark and Ms Bannister was very short, so she could’ve easily sneaked up on him through the undergrowth, he thought.
“Ah.. uhm. I dunno. A really big bird?” he shoved the skull to the small woman in exchange for a can of lemonade.
“Where you get this?!” she stared at him unblinking over the skull. He tiny eyes seemed to glow in the settling dusk.
Cake pointed at the hole in the ground.
“I don’t recall leaving this here!” her eyes narrowed. She peeked into the hole as if to check if there were more of the same kind there. The darkness in the hole squirmed.
“That’s some Halloween costume,” Cake laughed nervously still holding the unopened lemonade can in his hand, the condensation soothing the angry welts in his palm pleasantly. The way the woman was staring at him though, felt much more unpleasant than the welts and there was no can of lemonade big enough to sooth that.
Gertie winked at him under her brow.
“Halloween. Yes! Right! Well done! Nicely shaved grass! Come along now!” She hobbled off towards the house with the skull tucked under her arm, waving her cane.
“But the.. hole? Skull?”
Cake hurried after her. The back yard was slowly filling with evening sounds again. He hadn’t noticed how silents everything had gotten there for a moment. A cricket chirped hesitantly and soon birds were letting out their night calls in the distance, like the whole yard had held its breath until now.
“Yes! You’ve earned your twenty bucks! Good job!” Gertie shouted from her back porch while Cake was still lumbering after her a good 15 feet away. She was surprisingly fast for someone with the stride of a two-legged corgi.
“You did good!” Gertie blinked rapidly at the youth on her door step.
“Yeah, no biggie,” Cake brushed his hair back then remembered his hand was still covered in dirt and blood and that was now in his hair too. He needed a shower. Then he remembered he couldn’t take one at home because he didn’t have one anymore.
A slightly awkward silence fell as reality briefly took hold of Cake’s thoughts. Then he noticed a collection of eyes staring up at him from the darkness around the corner. They all blinked out of sync.
“I like your cats,” he said, nodding to the eyes.
“I don’t have cats!”
“Uhm,” Cake flustered. He looked back at the eyes in the dark and they were still there, staring at him, blinking whenever the hell they felt like it.
“If you don’t mind, you can probably take out the trash since you’re going that way?!” Gertie handed him two large black plastic bags. “My back’s not what it used to be!” she grinned.
“Oh, sure-” The door slammed in his face. Cake folded the crisp 20 dollar bill into his pocket and grabbed the trash bags. They both weighed much more than he’d expected. He started pulling them off to the curb while digging his phone from his pocket with a free hand. A few messages from friends about a bowling night he’d completely forgotten. He thumbed a short rain check in the group chat. No missed calls.
The trash bags plodded after him like they were filled with jelly and left a streak of wet on the asphalt. Most of the other houses were dark, with a few windows at the other end of the street lit up. The street lights were slowly lighting up as moths, lacewings and mosquitoes started congregating under them. The sun had already disappeared behind the horizon.
Cake stopped at the curb. The Toters were full. He sighed and pushed the plastic bags as close to them as he could with his foot. The bags yielded then sprung back without having moved an inch.
“Fine, stay there.” he stared at them angrily, then looked at his phone again. He flicked the Called Numbers up and picked the first one.
The phone rang like it was under water; a metallic, static, ear-bleeding ring that still felt like it came from inside a stuffed turkey.
“Doctor Duke’s office, how may I help you?” a distant female voice answered.
“Yes. Doctor Duke’s office. Can I help you?” the metallic woman repeated.
“No... no, I’m good. Thanks,” Cake hung up. “Asshole,” he sighed under his breath. A night wind suddenly rose up and blew goose bumps on his skin. The hair on his neck stood up as he looked around the empty and quiet cul-de-sac. The streetlight drew a friendly circle around him but outside it the front lawns looked just part of the shadows that had bled from the walls on to the ground. The houses were lumps of gray and the dark windows made it seem like no one lived there. Maybe no one did. Only the distant hum of the interstate and a faint salsa echoing from someone having a house party in a different part of the development reminded him of other people still being there. The phone in his hand felt comforting.
He thumbed it open again.
This time a warm female voice answered.
“Mom? Hey, you mind if I come over a day early? Yeah, nah, everything’s cool. No, I’ll tell you when I get there. I could just use an extra day of getting pampered by the world’s best mom before a whole weekend with Brutus,” Cake grinned at the phone. “Yeah, the key is still in the same place? Cool. I’ll start heading that way tonight. Alright, I’ll see you then! Love you too, mom.”
He stuffed the phone back in his pocket and traipsed to his car. After turning away from the cul-de-sac and reaching the edge of the city center, he stopped to drop off a thick envelope in a collection box
Full disclosure: I used a blog title generator for that title. Why? Because I wanted something spiffy (which.. ok, I give it 3/5. It's not THAT spiffy. But it could be worse), something that might make you ask why (pretty sure this generates some confusion) and something that would have the word "cover" in it without being "cover reveal".
Because that's what this is. A cover reveal.
Oh, I mean, I wrote a book.
I wrote a book that has over 50,000 words in it and it's the 1st book out of 4 and gosh darnet it's also my very first ever novel. And it has my name on it. So that.... that makes things feel wildly conflicting in the best possible way?
And did I mention it's going to be out on Amazon by November 18th? Yeah, that's also a thing that's happening.
How did my hands get this sweaty? It's really unseasonably warm in here....
Right. The cover.
I suppose this is the cover.
Yup. That would be it. The cover. Now out in the world. It sure is a thing.
I mean, it's really, really getting hot in here. Maybe I should crack open a window?
I... I imagine the name and the cow hide and all of that up there may make it sound like some sort of a cowboy romance, with maybe a few space aliens thrown in? It's not though. There are no cowboys in this. Just your average ace dude who appears to have survived the End Of The World but has no idea how. And there are also cows. But none of it probably appears the way you'd want. All in all though, it should be a light, easy adventure story!
At least, it was when I started.
But that's enough about me! How are you? Read any good books lately? Thinking about cows? Aren't we all. Ha ha! HAHAHAHAHAHHHAHAHAA.
Bundt Cake will be out by the end of the week.
Kelly was prepared for most things. Once at the platform, she’d had a fleeting thought about stepping in front of the oncoming train. It would be so quick and easy. The drop was right there, all she had to do was take one step and... But then the train barreled to a halt before her and the doors hissed open and something about that mechanical sound drove home the weight of all the metal and engine parts. She never considered stepping in front of a train again.
It wasn’t until Soraya said she’d thought about stepping off the platform that Kelly realised there wasn’t something deeply wrong with her for thinking about it. Maybe everyone thought about what it would be like to take that step and be swept away by the impact of a thousand tons of steel? Maybe everyone went through thought exercises to prepare for what life felt like so they’d know what to expect, she thought. A pet dying? Check. She’d know how it would be. Failing a test? Check, She’d done that already. Getting a tattoo? Well, she’d know how right she was next weekend.
Kelly leaned her head back and stared up at the sky, the clouds slowly appearing behind the roof of the car. She thought about what it would be like if her parents divorced: packing her bags Friday evening to go stay at dad’s. Arriving at her Weekend Home, the one that wasn’t her Weekday Home at mom’s, and unpacking. Her Weekend Room would always be a little weird and cold from her Weekday Room where all her school stuff was. No way was she ever going to be carrying all those books to the Weekend Home. But she still kind of preferred staying at the Weekend Home. Her Divorced Dad looked happy. He was happy she was there and probably happy about her mom not being there. He’d lost years and pounds and the gray on his temples wasn’t as visible. They watched a lot of movies together.
The earbuds barely covered her parents arguing in the front seat. Her Undivorced Mom’s long monologues undulated when she got to the points where everything was dad’s fault. Her Undivorced Dad’s low voice vibrated through the body of the car. Kelly didn’t listen in even though the odd word forced its way through the background noise. The arguments always started from the same slights and ended up repeating the same patterns. Like the two of them just couldn’t manage to learn how not to piss each other off.
She turned the music up a little louder and started drumming to the beat with her fingertips. Maybe they wouldn’t get divorced, Kelly thought. Everyone argued. That was just relationships. Had they always been like this? She couldn’t remember.
The music overtook the voices ahead. “...dontcha worry I can handle ii-iit...” Kelly hummed. She could handle it. The music made her strong and the beat was slowly undoing the knots in her diaphragm, smoothing out her forehead. Let them fight, she could handle it. Her eyelids relaxed to the steady hum of asphalt under tires. Clouds passed over the roof lazily.
The car jerked sharply to the right. Kelly was flung against the door. Her head struck the side of it and her hands instinctively flew up as she let out a curse but the curse was caught in mid air.
She was weightless.
The car seat disappeared from under her and her head was traveling down. Just like a roller coaster, neat. Her legs weren’t touching anything and she could clearly see her iPhone going past her. It had been in her lap but now it was on the ceiling and as she looked up, the ceiling was coming towards her.
She crashed into it shoulder first. And then she was weightless again.
Something small and prickly was scratching her other, bare shoulder and Kelly saw tiny glass slivers shooting past her, like beautiful little diamonds. They caught in her hair and briefly she thought that it probably wasn’t a good thing. Her fingers reached up trying to catch the shards but the car ceiling caught up with her again and her fingers were in the way. They seemed to bend, but Kelly wasn’t sure. She couldn’t see them anymore. The ceiling was much softer the second time. Not a solid roof, but a mush of lining fabric and jagged edges. Her head felt wet. Her whole body felt wet and slippery. Was there an open water bottle somewhere?
She couldn’t feel how weightless she was now even though she wasn’t touching anything anymore. She just wanted to throw up. Her vision was spinning, the windscreen and the front seats were a blur of gray shapes and everything was making her feel ill now so Kelly closed her eyes again and let the movement carry her away entirely. The earbuds snagged out violently but Kelly could barely feel anything even when the air suddenly got very crisp in a stark contrast to the soft popcorn and diesel smell of the car. She cracked her eyes and car was now below her, quickly disappearing behind her legs. She saw clouds again, clouds around as far as the eye could see. Trees. Trees appearing as her body regained mass. The Earth was pulling her back down.
The ground caught her. It caught her inelegantly, offering only rocks. Kelly’s head struck down first and the rest of her body followed like a sad accordion pushed into a heap it didn’t have the strength to unfurl from. She could hear a weird noise escaping her lips as the full weight of her body sagged on top of her chest then flopped to the ground.
For a while there was nothing but a wheeze she couldn’t place. Gravel grinding against itself next to her ear. It was probably gravel. She could only hear it when she inhaled.
There was noise at her feet; like a bonfire. She could smell the fire and it felt oddly calming. Kelly had always liked open fires when out camping or just sitting at the beach with her friends. She wanted to look at the fire but her eyes weren’t obeying her. One stung like hell. The other didn’t. She didn’t understand why she couldn’t just peek at the fire. She tried calling out but her mouth felt weird and sighing in frustration made something bubble out of her nose. She wasn’t sure what position she was in, but the rocks under her hurt and bit by bit, other parts of her body hurt too. But she still couldn't open her eyes.
I want to look! Why can’t I open my eyes?!
It was way too silent around her aside from that invisible bonfire.
And it took way too long for the ambulance to arrive.
Brutus licked his paw and brushed it over his ear. Something was itching him so he repeated the brush a few times, trying to reach the itch through the fur with his claw.
Mildred did the same.
“Oh, there you are!” Brutus exclaimed seeing her. “I’ve missed you.” He brushed up against the other cat and Mildred returned the favor. “How has it been?”
“Beastly,” Mildred sighed in her usual nonplussed way. Brutus was convinced she’d been an aristocratic lush in a previous life. The kind that poisoned her husband by accident and was only mildly surprised when he’d actually dropped dead from it. “You know how the food is; something from a can, something from a bag that smells like human feet...”
“Oh yeah, he’s not really very good with the food. But hey, beats having to chase down three-legged rats!”
“Does it?” She arched her brow.
“Well, the pizza isn’t half bad.”
Mildred sighed and licked her paw. Brutus mirrored her.
“Yesterday when he came home with that… female-creature,” she continued without looking up.
“Sure. Pitiful gangly thing. Of course the dog was all over her. Some can’t help but be desperate. Just shoot me if I ever fawn all over a human like that.” She raised her gaze.
They were staring each other directly in the eyes.
Brutus felt that familiar twinge in his chest. She was so... so. The feline queen. The one he worshiped and waited for. The one always watching over him. His dark half. His judgment and bile and yet… she was just like him. When she brought home half dead shrews and tore open their guts, he saw himself doing the same. The blood tasted just the same on their tongues. They both protected fiercely their home from the things moving in the night the humans couldn’t see.
Brutus lifted a paw and pressed it against the glass. Mildred did the same. The two black cats sat silently looking at each other, like punctures in the universe.
The front door cracked snapping Brutus out of the moment.
“I... I think I need to go. I think he brought a box,” he said looking over his shoulder.
Mildred meowed dryly. “I suppose we all need to do our duty. For the sake of the country and the family and such things. Protect these fools from the portals they bring into their houses,” she said looking over her shoulder.
Brutus turned back and their eyes met for a brief moment.
“You know I’ll be back and we will figure this out eventually. Even if it takes nine times nine lives,” his gaze dropped to the ground. That was a sacred vow. It gripped his heart tighter than veins and squeezed the blood from it to his feet. But he knew it was true.
Then Brutus got up and headed right, into the living room.
The cat in the mirror sat still for a moment before it too got up and headed left into the living room.
I draw things and I write things. I also lift heavy things and like food because food is good. That about sums it up.