He punched big spikes into the ground. Big, strong iron spikes, deep into the soil, so the ground would stay put. He knew it would peel off, someday, if he didn’t. It would peel off for good, leaving us all on a hot rock to die.
He knew if he didn’t do it, no one would. He didn’t like it. He didn’t want to do it. He had to.
One day two men came by.
-Why do you punch spikes into the ground? they asked.
-To keep the surface from peeling off, he had answered.
He saw something move. A shadow was coming out from one of the backstreets. A man. He came walking towards him. Others appeared from the darkness as well.
Howdy! Clifton said. How come there’s so few people around?
No answer. They walked up the street towards him. They moved in a strange way, slowly, clumsily. One was limping, another seemed to be missing an arm. His horse neighed.
The marshal loosened the cap on his gun holster.
I said howdy!
One of the figures moaned. They were coming uncomfortably close.
Clifton pulled his gun in a fast movement.
Stop! He said. Don’t come any closer, or I’ll shoot!
He could see their faces now. Their eyes. They looked… dead. Empty.
He fired a shot. In the air, to see if he could scare them off.
They kept walking…
Every day he sat by the river side, meditating to the sound of the waterfalls. There was nowhere in the world he felt more connected than right here, nowhere he felt closer to himself, to the Universe. Nowhere he could see clearer.
Today he had gone up there before the sun went up. He sat there all day, the river always changing, always the same.
He sat there through the morning, through the afternoon. The sun was going down in a distance, and nowhere else. There was no need to go anywhere else, no need to change.
He drifted on into himself, into eternity. So deep, so real. So present.
He saw something, in the mist…
(I’ve been recycling some illustrations lately. This time I’ve done it the other way around: A new illustration to an old story. The story has been edited and you can see the original version here.)
There was a circle of mushrooms underneath some trees in the forest. Smoke could be seen between them, from the ground. It grew. Flames emerged as a hole opened.
A hand came up between the flames, grabbing the edge. Another. Two horns, an evil face. A foot.
The little demon pulled himself out of the hole, got on his feet. Stretched his back, and looked up on the starless sky. The night was coming to an end. Soon ridiculously disgusting human beings would start doing their insignificant things, thinking they mattered.
He wanted to do something different today. ..
He walked through the house, memories were flowing. Children playing. Him, his sister, happier than anywhere else. Laughing and playing when the house was still full of life.
He walked to the window, pulled the curtain aside. The old tree stood there in all it splendour, looking fresh and alive. It had been dead for years, now he could here the wind whisper in its leaves. A shadow stood underneath it, a silhouette of a figure, a person…
The two children stood paralysed, staring at the hole in the wall. The dark smell of rot filling the room was unbearable. Between the bones a scull stared up at them, as if it was judging them for breaking the rules. Another stared into the darkness behind, into nothingness.
The front door opened downstairs.
Children! I’m home!
Carrie and James looked at each other. At the door. At the hole in the wall…. (more)