Sisyphus descends a spiral staircase connecting heaven to hell. He’d been demoted at his job and now tasked with lugging a square boulder up and down the steps. Along the way, he encounters the ghost of Virgil who remarks that his situation had taken an abysmal turn. Sisyphus inquired if his situation was truly more futile than before. The task remained endless, yet rest proved monotonous for nothing would change and he’d lapse into ennui. Virgil guffawed and then gifted Sisyphus a clock so that he’d suffer equally in mind, body, and spirit.
A priest traveled abroad to seek an answer to an age-old question… what is the good in life? Along the way, he encounters a bard, a grandmaster, and a doctor in a tavern. When inquired, the bard pined about love blossomed and then lost, the grandmaster dramatized his rise and fall from power, the doctor lamented on duty and suffering. The priest quoted a passage from God but the three laughed it off. That night, the bard dreamt of risqué encounters with men, the grandmaster of bloody pieces on a chess board, the doctor of fevered patients in nooses. Sunday morning dawned and the three men attended confessionals, each pouring their hearts out. The priest nodded and forgave each of their sin, accepting an indulgence for their penances. After the service, all parties left and continued along their merry ways. The priest took off his collar and donned a tie.
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.
Sally and Paula adored their older sister Martha. Growing up in the orphanage was difficult as food, warmth, and time were all in short supply. Discipline kept all the children in line and the daily tasks would grind even the toughest pieces. Sally and Paula were particularly at risk as both carried troubled pasts. Sally survived her parents in a train crash but the incident continued to haunt her in dreams. Paula who had a stronger constitution entered the orphanage against her will after her mother abandoned her one day in the middle of a crowded street market. The two found themselves often at odds whereby Paula would lash out at Sally in fit over a silly mistake. Sally would then retreat into herself which further infuriated Paula. Often, someone else had to intervene as to stem the tide of escalation and abuse. That role fell into the hands of Martha, one of the orphanage’s younger sisters who possessed an uncanny motherly disposition but had otherwise never known life outside the dormitory’s grounds. Perhaps it was a prescience of her own fate or a mild form of agoraphobia instilled from birth that bound her so. Whichever the case, the trio found themselves in a dynamic that would eventually reconcile two, sever the three, and entangle a fourth. Such are stories for another time.
Mobius woke up to the blaring horn of a runaway cab and the shriek of the dying. Dying so he thought as a women’s pleads for help would only reverberate through empty gallows in this 2 am ghetto. The night did not stir as innocence dare not intervene lest they wish to follow suite along the string of misfortune.
The woman had starting sobbing before a hard knock on reinforced doors interrupted the dirge. A metallic voice rasped through the cracks. “Mobius, I know you’re in there. Where my money? You owe me twice for that last hit”. Mobius knew very well that his proceeds had long dried up. A clandestine retreat down the fire escape was in order. Lifting up the broken windowsill and climbing onto the thin railings, he descended with cat-like precision as the distant wails would provide his cover. A lucky break he thought before landing on the ground when a heavy thud struck his lungs, expunging the air for either breath or thought. Stars and darkness overtook him as he lay face up starring into the night’s sky. Last he heard was the woman’s voice from above. “Is that our Ace?” to which the metallic rasp chuckled “Nearly turned him inside out”.
Agapao awoke to the sight of fluttering wings. Dusk settled upon the land as the distant night crept across the blood-soaked fields, covering the horrors of war like a traumatic dream. The last two armies had annihilated each other. The few survivors claimed victory not over each other but against fate for mountains of corpses surrounded them, singing the tune to the world’s end.
Agapao looked overhead. An eclipse of moths encircled the now blackened meadow beneath the crimson skies. Some would land on a body and depart with a spirit in tow. These moths would fly towards the fading light so that the departed may find new places to inhabit. Others would land and bury themselves into a carrion, stapling the body to the soul. Those unfortunate individuals became the walking dead, forever to roam the Earth under another’s will. Turning to the moth that twitched on his chest, Agapao pulled out his knife and cleaved it in two. Fate had no business playing with the still living.
Long ago, a young anemic who fancied autumn’s display had drowned in a lake. A strong wind had accidentally blown her scrapbook of leaves into the water; she followed suit but couldn’t swim. Pitying the tragedy, autumn gave her a second chance at life. A carpet of leaves raised the body out of the cold waters and the wind breathed new life into her. She was given the name Fairchild and tasked with bringing forth the start of fall.
Everywhere she went, a whirlwind of foliage would follow. The leaves would lend her a small fraction of their remaining lives. In turn, she painted them a brilliant orange and showed them the wider world. Up steep mountains they flew and down into lush woodlands that rolled endlessly over hills and valleys. However, the one place she could not visit was the water. When she tried dipping her toes into a lake, a swarm of leaves would cover its surface and support her weight. She could never figure out the reason till later in the season when only a few leaves remained. But as her feet glanced the water, the memories of her previous life resurfaced, suspending her in a nine-month long dream. The mortal reminder would mark the end of her duties, a period of rest, and the start of winter.