Honest Monsters

Mr. Slim was a firm traditionalist when it came to the art of bone twisting pain. It was one of the reasons why he demanded that his students use shapeshifting over glamour. Jazz knew this. She agreed with it. Glamour was a shallow thing that miraged the skin to resemble exactly what was expected. Shapeshifting hurt. Physical pain was the path towards mastering many needed skills.

Still, Jazz didn’t predict that her mentor’s methods would spread into the realm of psychological torture camouflaged as boredom. She was a rogue monster catcher. Being assigned to a house where the most monstrous thing was a cranky human cook had to be some kind of punishment.

Jazz was walking towards the small Victorian, considering the demise of her psyche and the ugliness of her denimed, tank topped, and terribly unimaginative human shape, when the front door burst open to spew a child wearing a colander as a helmet and brandishing a short wooden sword. A helmeted head and extra pointy protection, Jazz thought, that’s style!

“Beg for a merciful bloody death!” Octavia said, the tip of her sword aimed at Jazz’s belly.

“Just how much blood are we talking about?” Jazz said. “And who will clean up the mess?”

“Octavia, Kai is going to have your hide if you don’t get back to the kitchen.”

“Kai doesn’t have hides, Uncle Terrence.” Octavia grinned over her shoulder. “She just cooks nasty stuff and makes you eat it.”

The old woman came to the front door, and sneered in Jazz’s general direction.

I don’t like you all that much either, Jazz thought, trying to catch the cook’s eye and failing.

“Come inside, Octavia,” the old woman said. “I need that colander to finish supper.”

Her smile gone, Octavia ran into the house after the cook.

“I’m so glad you accepted to watch my niece overnight at such short notice, Jazz.”

“It’s no problem,” she said, heading towards the house.

“I told you about Calvin, Octavia’s godfather and my business partner. I wanted you to at least see his face before I left.” He pointed at a man in a blue car. “He’s taking me to the airport. I’m late. But he’ll be available to answer any questions, and help with anything you might need. All my numbers are on the list on the kitchen table. The number to the pediatrician and to—”

“Terry,” the man called out from the car, “you won’t make it if you don’t get moving.”

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Jazz had babysat nine-year-old Octavia for nearly three weeks. Mr. Slim was convinced that something was threatening the child, but Jazz hadn’t seen a thing lurking around.

“What about the cook?” Mr. Slim had said to Jazz, a few days ago.

Jazz had watched Kai closely. It was obvious that under the shroud of sternness, the old cook’s heart was soft for the child. And Octavia adored Kai, provider of cookies, improvised helmets and other weaponry. No one spent that kind of time on a wild kid they didn’t care about.

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After Jazz put Octavia to bed and Kai cleaned the kitchen, the old woman collected her things and phoned her granddaughter for a ride.

“I wish my eyes did better at night,” Kai said to Jazz, sounding strangely sweet.

A few minutes later, Jazz heard someone at the door. “Your granddaughter has a key?”

“No,” Kai said, undoing her scarf and placing her handbag on the table. “That’s Mr. Calvin. He comes and goes as he pleases whenever Mr. Terrence isn’t home.”

“You’re still here?” Calvin said to Kai, after he entered the kitchen. “It’s late. And Terry won’t pay you overtime.”

The air thickened with dislike, disdain, and a wave of nerves.

“I… I wanted to drink something warm before I called my granddaughter. Should I make you something, too, Mr. Calvin? Perhaps, a snack? It would be no trouble. I could—”

The bell rang and Kai nearly jumped out of her skin.

“It seems your family knows your schedule better than you do,” Calvin said.

“Oh, that’s all right. I’ll tell my granddaughter to go on. I’ll take a cab home. I’ll stay until Miss Jazz’s ready for bed and you’re ready to go. In case you, either of you, might need something. It’s no bother. Really. I’ll just…”

Jazz said nothing. But she did not miss the trembling of Kai’s hands.

“Leave,” Calvin said.

Kai grabbed her bag, looked at Jazz one last time, and walked out of the house, her eyes shiny.

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“That old hag gives me the creeps.” Calvin handed one of two tea mugs to Jazz. “I’ll grab some things out of Terry’s study and then head out, unless you need something from me.”

“I’m good for tonight,” Jazz said with a yawn. “I’m more tired than I thought.”

They exchanged goodnights. Calvin stayed in the kitchen. Jazz finished her tea before checking on Octavia and readying herself for bed.

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Jazz’s shade watched Calvin crack her door open ever so slightly. “Miss?” he whispered, “Miss Jazz?” When he got no answer, Calvin walked into the room, examined the form sleeping in Jazz’s bed, peered into the tea mug, and then left the room.

He sneaked through Octavia’s door without making a sound, and stood smiling in front of the child’s bed. After some long minutes, he walked towards the door.

Jazz’s shade relaxed. Until Calvin turned off Octavia’s nightlight and closed the door without getting out of the room.

The child’s bed complained under the weight of the man. His hand moved to touch the neckline of Octavia’s polka-dotted nightgown. When his fingertips landed on skin, Jazz’s shade reentered her own flesh and reclaimed her natural shape. Her spine and limbs elongated, her eyes lost all color, her teeth sharpened, and her living hair shoved itself into Calvin’s open mouth.

She let him struggle for a while. Then she flipped him onto his back, her steel-strong arms and feet imprisoning him, her hair still jammed in his mouth. She got really close to his face, letting him appreciate the fury burning in her pupilless eyes, before saying, “You don’t get to beg for a merciful bloody death, filth. That’s just for honest monsters.”

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written for May Monster Madness
follow the link to Little Gothic Horrors to see what else is brewing
and don’t forget to be an honest monster

by the way, this is a bit of a draft
so we’ll probably hear more about Jazz
in my next short story collection

Sticky Monsters, by John Kenn Mortensen (3)
from Sticky Monsters, by John Kenn Mortensen

May Monster Madness, 2016

May Monster Madness

My little bloodied red dress is ready. I’m accessorizing it with a hammer, an ax, and perhaps an onyx dagger with a chic rubied handle. Onyx and rubies are all the rage at monster blog parties these days. And when it comes to monstrous partying, nothing tops May Monster Madness.

Don’t worry if you feel like you have nothing to wear (or if you need more time to sharpen your accessories), for the party doesn’t start until Saturday, May 28th, 2016. I really hope to see you there. You don’t have to be a monster to attend the festivities. In fact, you don’t even have to like monsters (although, if your dislike of monsters is known… you might want to make your bling extra sharp and extra pointy). Wondering how to participate in the yum, my Luvs? It’s easy:

You can write (fiction, poetry, monstrous articles), you can paint, craft, sculpt… you can tell us about the little monsters that haunt or beautify your garden, your closet, your mind… Like the delightful mistress of Little Gothic Horrors says in the main party post, for this summer soirée, you can explore “Whatever interests you, as long as it is monster-y in some way!” Yep, you can go for mythological creatures, fairy tale monsters, hilarious monsters, lovable monsters that creep and crawl, hateable human monsters that make your skin crawl, cute monstrous kids…

By the way, earlier this month, a friend *waves at Winter Moon* shared a page from John Kenn Mortensen’s Sticky Monsters. I, as you can probably imagine, fell completely in love with the creepy wee creatures. So… I decided to base my May Monster Madness contribution on one of Señor Mortensen’s creations. But… I haven’t been able to pick just one. Would you like to help me choose? If so, let me know if you would like me to write about the 1st, 2nd or 3rd illustration. If you’re feeling particularly motivated, I would love to know the why behind your suggestion.

1. Now, that’s what I call a sprouting nose…
Sticky Monsters, by John Kenn Mortensen (1)

2. His nightshirt would make fabulous Halloween curtains…
Sticky Monsters, by John Kenn Mortensen (2)

3. They practically bent over backwards for her…
Sticky Monsters, by John Kenn Mortensen (3)

Visit Little Gothic Horrors for specific details. And while you’re there… why not join in? 😉
May Monster Madness, 2016

Party!

Powerful Freaks

We are powerful freaks;
some winged, others gilled…
all a universe of promising chaos.

I started seeing through dark-mooned skies,
my smile sharpened,
I took to weaving my fate.

When the first pet went missing,
friends and strangers whispered,
“She has all those legs now,
all those eyes;
that stomach is too large,
too monstrous
to be filled with just guts.”

While I was still naïve
enough to kiss hope in the mouth,
expecting it would kiss back,
I whispered explanations:
“My opisthosoma cradles my heart.”

But the Stones that made some of us Mythical
didn’t only expose our inner essence;
it also showed us powerful (perhaps too powerful)
in the eyes of men too scared
to see that our new shells housed the same old Selves.

Mistakenly,
they called me nasty bug,
recoiled (then trembled) when I was near;
some tried to crush me like an insect.
So many mistakes were made.

I considered smirking sharply into their flesh,
filling their veins with venomous rage,
liquefying self-inflicted blindness into convenient food;
but I was a vegetarian…
in those nearly forgotten days.

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Process Note: I was rereading my “Belle du Freak” poem, in order to write the short piece I was supposed to post today (but didn’t; since I just published “Large, Powerful, Wild”, and two consecutive short stories felt like a bit much). Revisiting the poem left me wondering about the spider woman’s background; thinking, why did she have to hide in a terrible circus? “Powerful Freaks” seems to be part of the answer.

Opisthosoma is the posterior part of arachnids’ bodies, often called abdomen; but different from it, since it also contains the respiratory organs and the heart (Wikipedia).

written for May Monster Madness ← follow the link to visit other deliciously mad participants; and do visit the madness instigators: Little Gothic Horrors, Annie Walls, and Something Wicked this Way Comes…

linked to Poets United, Poetry Pantry 254

Spider Web Desktop Background
Spider Web Desktop Background

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