Poppy stood motionless by the Cabernet collection. Empty bottles and cigarettes stubs littered the flat that was once a lively studio. Her next victim, a former gambler who had stowed himself away in witness protection, dozed off this fine rainy Sunday. He’ll take his last swig tonight, just like all the rest who drew too deeply from her vines and entangled. She was now his best friend… his only friend for that matter when the days ceased to start, life’s currents spiraled nowhere. One last swig she bubbled and extended her hands from the eddies. They were met in kind.
The Delphic oracle prophesied that a great pestilence would sweep over the land, cleansing it of all the weak and the corrupt. To hide the pronouncement from the masses, the Grecian king appeased the soothsayer with sacrifices of his most prized possessions each year. The stakes crossed the line however when the oracle wished to see the king’s stallion. Outright refusal would not suffice and so a plan was actuated to replace the steed with a lesser stock. Manes were trimmed, muzzles cleanly waxed, and calves embronzed to imitate the true prize. On the day of the offering, the king unveiled the nigh indistinguishable impostor to the gasps of the court. The priestess starred for a hard minute before replying face in palm.
“I thought it taller and nobler, but I see now its dense backside. A blind ass would have done better.”
Her mordant wit flew over everyone’s heads.
The Buddha happened upon a starving beggar. Offering a parcel of bread, the vagrant instead absconds with the entire loaf. The next night, the Buddha returned to find two beggars in the same spot. He offers another loaf but they fight over the right proportions. On the third night, four beggars demanded their share. The Buddha splits a loaf into four equal parts but the small portions lead to discontent. On the fourth and final night, eight beggars awaited their free handouts. The Buddha leaves a sack of flour on the ground with some water. The octet spills the cup as they devoured the sack and left retching.
Weight: An old shepherd tugged on the ropes that had bonded with his waist. Daisy-chained were an ashen woman, boy, and girl, presumably his family. They had sullen looks and a world-weariness of those who had lost their home. Together they scaled a pass that spiraled up and down a mountain to an uplifting tune that went nowhere.
Lightness: A pit-bull grew up tied to an oak tree. His world was a nine-foot circle of dirt, acorns, and taunting squirrels. Having given up on escape, he fell into a deep slumber and dreamed of the pearly gates. A voice told him to come forth, but he couldn’t. The clouds turned dark and erupted with rage. The smell of burnt ash then woke him up. Tugging at his leash for the first time in years, he found it slack.
Jack: “So I tricked the devil into paying my tabs.”
Jon: “Oh. How’d you do that?”
Jack: “Satin agreed to a drinking match. My eternal soul if I lose. Ten extra years if I win. Half-way in, I slipped a note to the bartender.”
Jon: “What was on it?”
Jack: “An unsigned IOU from hell.”
Jon: “Damn, how’d he take it?”
Jack: “He started mixing holy water.”
Inspired from the original stingy Jack myth!
Every winter solstice, Eve awaited a message from Apollo. Her husband had embarked on a dangerous mission to chart the fringes of the universe. Catastrophe struck the vessel and the last letter was strewn across the wide cosmos. Erecting a beacon that could transmit signals faster than light, she hoped to warp the past from the present. Every attempt however merely distorted the circumstances; the ship collided into an asteroid, lost compression from a puncture, ran out of oxygen… She mourned each failure knowing that each misstep resealed her beloved’s fate. Such was the cost paid for her undying love.
A young prince once asked an old cripple how he could sleep so soundly each night. The cripple responded that he had been born with his deformities and had learned to live with this fact. Curious, the prince offered to have his best doctors and servants treat him. The old man chuckled and politely declined, replying that he was content with his lot in life. That night, the boy dreamed that he had turned into the cripple who begged for his livelihood. Waking up from the nightmare, he swore to never let such a fate come to pass.
Decades later in old age, the prince who ascended the throne and became king wandered the halls alone at night. Now an insomniac, he cursed the cripple for having steered him onto his current path. On his deathbed, the man finally broke down and begged for a reprieve. His wish was granted.
A young boy frolicked by a spring-time lake. In his exuberance, he accidentally trips over Death’s scythe and falls into the water unconscious. Death pulls the boy out from under as it was before his time. He then etches the true hour of fate in the back of the child’s mind.
Decades later, an old man returns to the site. He finds Death waiting in a gazebo overlooking a winter-time lake before announcing that he’s ready. Death inquires whether he’d live a different life if ignorant of his fate. The man replies no. The reaper grins and wakes him up.
Shade of Hellos, you’ve lingered far too long.
Wept dry tears after sorrow turned bitter.
Swallowed a rock that settled in your gut.
But I now see your barricades crumbling.
For I’ve kindled a small fire in the dark,
by a tiny corner den in your heart.
Extinguish it you may try, but white fire never dies.
And grow it will into a conflagration.
And burn it will all rotten deadwood.
Melting the sap that suffocates the air so.
Opening that canopy that kept you low.
Till all that remains is red ashes and charcoal.
Fertile grounds for a new life and soul.
So awaken now young seedling, become the tree of life.
Grow tall and dig deep for there will be strife.
The shade no longer hides the sand.
Hellos now shines across the land.
Illume, the light of the soul, had been blessed with the gift of life. She could animate all that she touched with a flick of her wrist, turning earth into gnomes, water into spirits, wind into doves, and fire into sprites. The dark lord who wanted to possess her however cast a pernicious spell while she slept.
One night, Illume encountered an ebony mirror in her dreams. The mirror did not reflect who one was but instead who one could be. On that night, a resplendent queen appeared in her guise who commanded the adoration and love of all the subjects in the land. The next night, a powerful sorceress emerged atop a mountain who fended off a great barbarian invasion from the north. On the third, a fierce huntress and she-wolf materialized and nearly leapt out of the panel.
The midnight encounters continued for centuries as the dream world slowly bled into her waking life. Illume developed her powers, transmuting herself into every one of the possibilities that the mirror showed. Each time, the ebony mirror absorbed some of her light, slowing turning its dark shade into a translucent sheen until she was eventually no more. By the end, a magic mirror stood in her place in a lonesome tower. The dark lord at long last arrived to claim his prize. When he gazed between the frames, he saw nothing but a blinding light for the magic mirror no longer reflected what one could be, but what one can never have.