A forest at twilight. You walk through the trees, listening to the storm raging above you. You are surrounded by the smell of rain.
You wander through an old house. You wander for hours. Smoke and dust hang in the air. You hear snatches of conversation, distant music, but you never see another person. You keep walking.
A night spent kissing a past celebrity crush. It isn’t how you thought it would be.
Stars stretch above you, a dark sea stretches below you. You float between. You are at peace.
You’re sitting on an underground train knitting a endless scarf. You have been travelling through a tunnel for ten minutes and more passengers keep appearing. Your scarf is taking up a whole row of seats, and a large cat is playing with your wool.
Your grandfather is whispering stories to you down the phone. You haven’t got a grandfather, you’ve never had a grandfather, but you know his voice, and his stories feel like home.
The kettle is whistling. You stand in your kitchen and the kettle is whistling. The air is filled with its screech, the pitch climbing higher and higher. You are unable to move. You are unable to speak. All the while the kettle is whistling. You cannot make it stop.
There is a voice calling to you somewhere in the distance. You walk towards the setting sun trying to find it. It never gets closer, but you can still hear it, calling your name.
You sit in a darkened room. There is a fish staring at you from the tank across from you. It never stops staring at you. It knows.
A raven follows you around whispering your sins in the voice of an old man. You wish it would fuck off.
Lights above you. Lights dancing and shimmering above. Predictions of the future? Tales of the past? They look so beautiful. You wish you could join them.
You find a box buried beneath your garden, ornate and ancient. Inside is another box, inside that another box. On and on the boxes go, each one smaller, each one more ornate. You do not notice them getting smaller. You too are getting smaller.
You wake up in a car speeding along an empty highway. Lights blur overhead as you drive, on and on and on for hours without end. You’re close to your destination, you know you’re close, but before you get there you wake up in a cafe. You have an order to fill. You always have orders to fill. The cafe is filling up with people and they keep ordering and you wake up by the ocean. The air is full of salt and the cries of seagulls. You want to go swimming but no matter how far you walk the water doesn’t get any closer. You keep walking. Your beach towel is so far away now but the water still isn’t closer. You start running, your eyes fixed on the stretch of blue ahead but your foot slips beneath you. You’re falling and you wake up and you’re still falling.
You wake up.
You wake up.
You wake up.
The umbrella stand stood in the corner of the shop between an old piano and a display cabinet. The sign above it read: WEATHER UMBRELLAS $12 DO NOT OPEN INSIDE.
The umbrellas were an assortment of colours, some with stripes, some with dots, and all with a small dial on the handle. Katie picked out a blue one decorated with ducks and paid for it, thinking about how it was due to rain within the week.
When Katie got round to using it several days later, a small bolt of lightning shot from inside, burning a hole in her scarf.
It was held every year in a different place with a different theme. Nessie hosted the ‘96 con with help from her three seamonster girlfriends, and Mothman’s con in ’04 was decorated with thousands of multi-coloured lamps.
The cons were always well attended, with famous cryptids mingling with attendees, signing autographs and giving advice to those starting out. Every year someone would claim to have seen Bigfoot and their boyfriend, but those rumours were always unconfirmed.
The Jersey Devil had originally attended the con to get photos with his idols, but instead had found the greatest cryptid of all: love.
Annie hadn’t planned to fall in love. (Not that you ever did plan for it.) And she certainly hadn’t planned to fall for Copper.
It took her several months to realise quite how big her crush was. She simply thought she enjoyed Copper’s company, and if Annie spent too much time gazing at the automaton, well, surely she was just admiring Copper’s design – the smooth curves and sleek chrome of her torso, the stunning intricacies of her faceplate.
It wasn’t until she started noticing how often she thought about kissing Copper that Annie realised her feelings went beyond platonic.
You will notice the sound of the rain. How it beats rhythmically against the windows, against the roof, against the pavement. You will notice how different the air feels after a week of rainfall, how it feels after a storm.
You will notice the trees how the trees move. They seem to be getting closer. Was that oak tree always so near the house? Was that pine tree always there?
You will notice how smooth the sea is at a certain time in the evening.
You will notice the strange lights that appear above your house every other Friday. You do not understand what they mean, but you find their presence comforting.
You will notice the cats. One or two at first, and then more. So many more. You don’t know where these cats are coming from. Their purring is keeping you up at night.
You will notice how beautiful your body is. Your six wings look radiant in the sunlight, and your eyes are the perfect shade of void.
You will notice your favourite lipstick is now on sale.
You will notice the changing of the seasons, the slow lengthening of the days.
You will notice the tang of salt on the breeze and the ever-present cries of gulls overhead. You live fifty miles from the nearest coast. You do not know how it manages to follow you.
You will notice the figures that seem to follow around at night, darting from one shadow to the next and only visible from the corners of your eyes. Do not worry. They are the crypids that live in your area, and they just want to say hello. They’re very shy.
You will notice the word ‘moist’. You notice it in every book you read, in each newspaper, written in the sky, scrawled in the dirt outside your house. It is everywhere you look.
You will notice the endless sky above you, the emptiness of the void and the smallness of humanity in comparison to the immense size of the universe, and you will go out for pizza and a few drinks.
The pills were sold on the black market and were extremely hard to come by.
They made you forget things Most people used them to for the bad memories – abuse, trauma, pain. Kieran used them differently. He used the pills to rewatch TV shows for the first time. His fifth time watching Star Trek for the first time. His eighth time watching Doctor Who for the first time. Crime shows had great rewatch value when you could make yourself forget who the murderer was.
He didn’t use them too often; if you weren’t careful you ended up forgetting more than you wanted, and Kieran planned to hold on to most of his memories until the end. But since he didn’t have long left, he figured he might try to recreate some past joy.
“When did you first know?”
It was after rehearsal, and Jennifer and Nathan were sitting outside the theatre. Nathan was waiting for his lift, and Jennifer was working her way through a half-empty pack of cigarettes.
“2010,” Jennifer said after several moments. “That’s when I knew for certain.” She exhaled a long stream of smoke. “It’s really obvious looking back, but hindsight’s a bitch.”
“There was this girl at the ice-cream place in town,” said Jennifer. “Ginger hair, freckles, really cute. Ended up getting a crush on her.” Jennifer flicked the cigarette butt to the pavement and reached for the pack. “I’d had crushes on girls before, but that was the first time I realised it was a crush. How about you?”
“I still don’t feel like I know for sure,” Nathan replied. “I mean, I’ve been out for over a year, and I still feel like it’s just a phase.”
“Well, so what if it is?” asked Jennifer. “Just because it’s a phase doesn’t mean what you’re feeling isn’t real. And if somewhere down the line you decide another label fits you better, that just means you have a new perceptive on yourself.”
You’re thinking about the expansion of the sun and whether humans will survive it. You’re thinking about language, how Martian dialects will be different to the ones on Earth. You’re thinking that one day a human living on Earth won’t understand a human living in space. You’re thinking that you’ll probably see that happen. You’re thinking that you should do your laundry tomorrow. You’re thinking about how there’s two different kinds of immortality, and you’re really hoping you have the kind where you don’t age and not the one where you can never die. You’re thinking about the heat death of the universe, and how that will feel. You’re thinking about your mother, who died fifty years ago and whose death still feels like a knife in your ribs. You’re thinking about death, and how many you’ll see. You’re thinking about death, and whether you’ll get one. You’re thinking about how you’d really like to get some sleep now.