Thursday, June 12, 2008

Water Jumping and Baby Penguins

[The night air is thick with dreadful anticipation. We know that Corn has been in a foul mood since we all arrived. It seems with each passing victim he gets more and more irritable. His features have changed, though subtle as it is.]

[We sit in our seats, hands and legs cuffed, chains linking ankles to wrists. We won't be going anywhere in the near future. We just hope to get out of this alive and not in the bellies of the Quelchers.]

[The stench of those who have died and been torn asunder lingers. The hot air intensifies the smell.]

[We look and we see him.]


[Claps hands. Lights flicker and then come on.]

[He stumbles, his steps not as sure as they were a few months earlier. What little hair he had had sticks up in tufts of blond and gray—alfalfa licks that dot his skull. The one unseeing eye sags and looks as if it will drop from its socket.]

Have you all been having a jolly good time?

[His smile drags across his face, exposing rotting teeth. He closes his lips and looks to be chewing. He spits out a brown tooth and it lands near the edge of the stage.]

Who's next? [Blood drips down his chin.]


[We watch as the spot light shines over the audience and comes to a stop in our balcony area. The man looks like he could have been a rough and gruff individual at one time. But, now he appears to be nothing more than a shell of himself.]

[He doesn't seem to notice as his head snaps back and the headlight beams shoot from his eyes and to the silver screen.]


This should be good.

[Corn cackles.]

[Claps hands. Lights go out. The show begins.]


He stands in water too deep for anyone to stand in. The water is clear and he can see his feet touching the bottom. Fish swim about his ankles.

"You can jump up and get out."

Two men appear near him. He grabs one by the arm and looks to the expanse of sky above them. They both squat in the water and then he stands quickly. Like a slingshot he propels the man out of the water and into the air. The man's legs seem impossibly too long but he manages to reach up and grab the sky, pulling himself from the ocean.

The second man looks at him, sakes his head and starts to back away.

"Your turn," he says.


"It's you or . . . this baby penguin."

The baby penguin appears, its small body in his hands.


"Okay, then the penguin it is."

He dunks the penguin in the water and then catapults him toward the sky, but it is no longer there. The sky is now the ceiling of a room. The penguin hits it and its body breaks, blood spattering from it on impact. It sprays down on the man . . .


[The film ends and we are breathless and our hearts ache for the baby penguin. What we think was just someone's dream makes matters worse when we see blood on us, on the floor around us. Even Corn has spots of crimson on his fading yellow suit and skin.}

[Screams fill the Theater and we look to the man who had dreamt such a nightmare. He is missing from his seat but we don't have to look far to see that he is plastered near the ceiling. Hooks that we don't think were there before, hold him suspended in the air. He sways back and forth and blood pours from him, spattering the Theater of Nightmares and its occupants.]

[Our collective screams continue.]



[Corn's throws his head back as he laughs]

Too much on your mind? Too much weighing you down? What is on your mind that holds you back? What change are you afraid to make?


[We watch in awe and fear as Corn's eye seems to grow stronger, the tissues around the socket firming and the eye no longer wobbling and appearing as if it would fall out.]

[Something in our collective brains clicks and we are suddenly aware of something that we can not speak but only think: the dreams, the nightmares are not only about us, but about Corn. What is it that weakens him or strengthens him? It is just out of our reach and frustration fills us.]

[He walks to the edge of the stage and picks up the brown tooth. He pops it in his mouth and laughs again.]

[Corn's rejuvenation scares us and our hearts sink, but we must hold on. . .]

Thursday, May 15, 2008

En Day Cowd Are Goon

[Darkness fills the room.]

[The man in the corner tosses and turns, his eyes closed, his body sweat-soaked, sheets on the floor. The yellowed skin is chalky, like damp dust in an old abandoned building.]

[He dreams.]


The floors are lit with runway lights. The stage is worn, dilapidated and on the verge of collapsing. Above it sits several cages, the doors open and its occupants long gone. Broken spotlights line the ceiling; the curtains are in tatters, shredded from top to bottom.

Beyond the stage, the aisles are lit with the same runway lights; the stadium seats are empty. Many of them are broken, leaning to one side or other or not there at all. Bones sit in other seats, the muscles of their bodies gone, leaving them as pick up sticks for someone else to clean up.

A lone piano sits near the stage. A tune plays and the man keying it looks rugged and old, his hair gone, his skin sagging, his eyes . . . his eyes missing.

He begins to sing, his voice soft and anguished but he can't hear his own words.

His head jerks up and he looks into the dark of the theater. The hissing comes from all around him. Words intermingle and he strains to hear them.

En day cowd are goon.
En day cowd are goon.

"No," he says and stands, but the piano continues to play. The hissing intensifies and he stares toward the seats. Shadows dance and voices speak.

En day cowd are goon.
En day cowd are goon.

Small red eyes appear in the dark. They move toward him and he backs away and onto the stage. He stumbles backward and sees the bones rising from their seats, their whispers blending with the other voices.

En day cowd are goon.
En day cowd are goon.

Hands reach for him and he screams . . .


[He sits up. Hands on head. Blood trickles from his nose. One eye is vacant, the other one intense.]

It's not over.

[He is angry and he stands from the bed.]

It's not over. Oh no. It's just beginning. . .

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Exploding Torpedoes and Dust Everywhere

[Dust hangs in the air. We've noticed it over the last several days. For some reason, the theater is not as clean as it was when we entered this place over eight weeks ago.]

[It has been silent for the last few days. Our meals arrive as normal and the trays are taken away by the shadowy hands of servants we can barely make out in the dark.]

[But, still, we can't help but wonder why there is dust swirling about whenever the spotlight comes on.]

[We listen as the footsteps echo through the building and we know he approaches.]


So, you think you are all smart?

[Clicks teeth. Taps hand on chin.]

I think some of you have gotten lucky. Not today. Someone . . . someone will pay today.


[The spotlight comes on and we watch as it centers on an older man, his skin sagging and body thin beneath the dark clothes he wears.]

[Without speaking, the man's head rises and he looks at the descending silver screen.]

[Corn snaps his finger and the dream projects from the man's eyes and we watch as . . .]


The boat speeds ahead on the open water. He steers it and his face is frantic.

The scene shifts and he is now flying in an old war plane, his eyes looking from the cockpit down toward the water. He sees the boat and the plane's nose dips. As the plane descends he presses a button on the control panel. A hatch opens and the bombs drop from the plane.

The scene shifts again and he is back in the boat looking over his shoulder. He sees the bombs and they are more like torpedoes now. They hit the water and skirt toward him. He gives the boat all she has but the torpedoes gain ground.

In desperation, he jumps from the boat and swims toward the oncoming torpedoes. He grows as they shrink. He tries to scoop them up in his arms but one gets away.

The explosion that ensues wipes away the dream . . .


[There is a scream, but it is not the man's. He is not in his seat and the person beside him is bleeding. The person on the other side is dead, her face missing, as is part of her torso.]

[The woman who is screaming is missing one arm and her skin is charred.]


Some dreams are quite literal. Too much for this gentleman to bear.

[Looks back to the screen, watches the remnants of the explosion fade.]

He could have overcome if he would have done something about that temper. Words can be so damning in anger.

[Snaps fingers and light dims.]

Quenchers. Clean up time.


[We hear their hisses and odd words as they move from the holes in the walls and floors and make their way to the dead woman. The other woman's crying ceases in a gurgle and, though we can't see what is happening, we know that the Quelchers didn't just take the dead body.]

[But, there is something else. A clue. We're not entirely sure Corn meant to give it to us but he did.]

[Some dreams are quite literal.]

[We ponder the thought as Corn leaves the stage for another week.]

[Our attention is diverted as the Quelchers finish eating and slink back to their holes.]

[Something else catches our attention. The man in the back row who stayed when he could have left, stands and makes his way down the center aisle. He hops up onto the stage and though we can't hear his foot falls we know he is walking toward the cage the woman hangs in.]

[His words are soft and we can only assume he is talking to the children.]

She will be free soon.

[Then he is whispering and we hear no more.]

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Shattered Windows, Vampires and He Who Stayed

There are children . . . four of them.

[Her voice catches us by surprise. We look down to the dark stage. Though no lights are on, we can still see the outline of the cage and the silhouette of the girl. Beneath the cage sits the children.]

[We count them.]

[There are four. The oldest is under ten and she holds the youngest—an infant girl—in her arms. The middle two are boys.]

I am obligated to these children . . .

[We turn our heads toward the other end of the stage.]


[Click clack. Click clack. Click clack.]

She speaks words of wisdom.

[Head whips from side to side. Voice deepens to a growl.]



[We are startled by the change in Corn's voice; at how he snaps his head from side to side as if . . he were talking to someone who is not there.]


But, she is right.



[The anger erupts from Corn's mouth and if he were any closer to the audience we would fear for those nearest him.]

[We watch as his shadowed form approaches the cage.]


[Snaps fingers. Lights come on.]

[The cage has been lowered. He peers into the girl's eyes. She does not cower away.]

What else?

[His voice is a growl. Spittle flies from his lips.]


[His face softens slightly and he looks to his left.]

Give her a moment.

{Brows crease. Anger flares in his eyes and he cocks his head to the right.]



[For the first time in weeks, our hearts give a collective leap. Something has soured for Corn and he appears to be falling apart.]

[One of us whispers into another's ear. That one follows suit, whispering to another and then another and another. The statement reaches each of us and we are both joyous and terrified at the same time.]

He is arguing with himself. He is a dual personality.

[It is a trait we had not seen up to this moment and we are not sure if it is good or bad.]

[Murmurings fill our ranks. What if's enter our souls.]


The children need me. That is why we can't get married yet.

[Tears streak down her face and her voice is but a whisper.]



[Corn slams his fist onto the stage flooring. The tile cracks and splinters, sinking in an inch or two.]

[He turns from her. Points to the cage opposite her.]

He didn't figure it out in time. Will you?


[We look to where the man had once been. In his place is the pulpy remains of flesh and bones. We see one eye dangling down and through one of the bars of the cage. A dried pool of blood sits beneath it. In the pool is what looks like the man's scalp.]


[Turning. Searching.]

[Corn stomps off the stage and drops into the audience. His anger is visible.]


[Points. Sneers. Lone eye dances with anticipation.]

You're next.

[Snaps fingers. Lights dim. Silver screen drops from the rafters, hiding the cages and the children beneath the girl.]

[The man's eyes snap open. They are not vacant like most of Corn's victims. They hold a contempt in them.]

Let's see you make it out of here alive.

[The nightmare pours from his eyes and onto the screen.]


He is in an abandoned cafeteria. The building is dusty and the walls are made of glass allowing them to see their surroundings outside the cafeteria.

Around him are children and he is one of them—the oldest in the bunch. They all have dark hair and appear to be frail.

They are scared.

"He's coming," one little boy says. They begin searching but none of them leave the cafeteria. Fear oozes from their pores and the outside world feels dangerous.

A dilapidated car drives by, its black exterior flaking away; wheels dusty, windows missing.

He leaves the building and walks to the car. As he looks in he sees the one they fear. The man is not more than a boy himself. Eyes dark, hair the same; skin painfully pale; lips void of color; clothes tattered.

He reaches in and shakes the man's hand. The hand is rough and he pulls it away. The man speaks but he is backing away toward the building. The words are lost to him.

The car drives off and he runs back into the cafeteria.

As he enters, night falls around them. He huddles the kids in the center of the cafeteria. The fear is thick and they all look around.

The man comes back, walking this time. With him, he brings hundreds of others like him. Pale, dark haired, dark skinned, tattered clothes, lifeless eyes. They shatter the windows of the building but never enter.

"We've not invited them in," someone says.

Though they are safe from the vampires, they still huddle in the center of the room, too fearful of what would happen if one of them left their group.

The man and his people leave as the sun rises.

"He'll be back," the little boy says.


Vampires? Broken windows? Night? You're a work of art, young man.

[Corn giggles. Strokes chin.]

You have issues.

[Grin widens.]

What is your problem? Why is your nightmare significant to you?


[His head hangs down on his chest as Corn taunts him. Off to the side we hear the Quelchers howling and moaning. We can feel their hunger in the electric air of the theater.]

[He turns his eyes to Corn. They are not void of emotion and understanding.]

[Corn steps back, scowl on his face.]


You think you know the answer, don't you?


[Man smiles.]

Unfulfilled dreams. Goals never met . . . There are obstacles in my way.


What else?

[Corn whispers.]

[He whips his head to the left as if staring at someone.]



I said shut-up.

[His own hand slaps him across the left side of his cheek.]


[There is a slight screech of pain as Corn slaps himself.]

[We wonder if the dual personality is the one who cried out in pain or if it were Corn himself.]

[At any rate, the other voice goes silent.]


I'm my own enemy.

[The shackles on his ankles snap.]

I'm too abrasive with people and I need to be gentle, to address people in a different way.

[The cuffs on each wrists snap open, releasing his arms.]

I've ignored things about me for too long and they need to be addressed.

[His skin changes from pail to tan, his eyes turn blue, his lips flush pink. His clothes remain dark.]

I have a lot of things that I need to address, to change about me if I am to be happy.



[Corn staggers backward.]

You people are catching on too easily.


[We watch as the theater doors open again and light washes the dark aisles and the remaining audience members. The people are like flowers as they crane their necks toward the light, attempting to get just a touch of the sun's rays on their pale skin.]



[Points to door. Eyes squint against the bright sunlight.]


[The man stands and walks up the aisle.]

[We watch as he reaches the door and looks back. We follow his gaze to Corn, who is limping away, toward the stage.]

[The man slips into a seat in the back row and the doors close as if he had left the theater.]

[We are curious as to why he stayed, but none of us breathe whispers to each other for fear he would be noticed.]

[Darkness envelopes us and Corn stomps away. He yells in anger as he leaves the area, exiting stage right. It echoes in our ears.]

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

No Woods For the Crashing Heart

Come now, what do we have here?

[Eyes narrow, smile widens.]

This one should be quite fun.


[We barely have enough time to adjust in our seats before Corn is stroking his chin, eyes on the young girl near the very back row.]

[Tiny and gaunt. She looks barely old enough to tie her shoes but we all know—or think we know—that she is older than her appearance. At this point, we are not sure what is real and what is false around here.]

[The nightmares continue on. The whispers and howls echo off the walls and ceiling. The quelchers hiss and hum. Waiting. Hungry.]


[Pushing through the people in their seats. He pulls one up and pushes him into the center aisle.]

You can have him.


[The man stumbles and falls. Hands out in front, catching himself. Blood prickles on his palms from the hard floor.]

[We watch the quelchers dash from their hiding spots and tear at the man. His screams pierce our ears and we cover them in hopes of drowning him out. Clothes and skin fall away, blood splatters the floor, seats and dazed audience members.]

[The screams end quickly and blood spills from a gash in his throat. His mouth works up and down, his eyes bulge. Then he is gone, dragged from the aisle toward the many holes in the walls. We see an arm disappear in one and look away. We assume the rest of him has gone the way of the holes as well.]

[Several of our members vomit.]



[He looks to the feeding quelchers. Face turns to sneer.]

Don't play with your food.

[Eyes back at the young woman.]

Do you ever feel you have no control over anything, Missy?


[Her head snaps up and the lights beam from her eyes. The story plays out before us. Black and white pictures dance along the silver screen.]


She sits on the porch of an old house. Next to her sits a young man, his eyes on her and then they both are looking past yard and across an old worn out street to an ancient field of stumps and shrubs. Beyond the field is a tall woods, its trees close together, forming a wall.

They both look up to the helicopter flying over head. Moments later, police pull up in their cruisers. People pour out of the cars and into the fields, flashlights swooping the grounds.

A plane flies overhead. Its engine sputters and then it nosedives into the trees. People yell and run for the trees and then they are gone.

A hot air balloon flies over the house and field. As it gets over the woods it descends, the balloon flapping in the wind. It disappears among the trees.

The police arrive again. Like before, people file out of the cars—too many to fit in the handful of cruisers. They search the field and woods, calling out, but not heard.

The people disappear in to the woods . . .


[Her eyes close on their own and the movie suddenly ends. Her skin is soaked with sweat and she breathes hard.]

[We watch on as Corn glares at her, the sneer on his lips one of pure joy.]


[Opens mouth to speak, but stops when girl speaks.]


We are to be married. But, something is wrong. Something . . . else is in control . . .


[We watch as Corn's face contorts. Blood spills from his rotting eye and he growls.]


[The girl smiles.]



There is more.

[A tear streaks from one of her eyes.]

I'm not sure what it is but I can feel it; I can see it.



[He stands and stomps up the aisle toward the stage. His hand smashes the back of one lady's head. Her neck snaps and the quelchers howl.]

[They start from their holes.]

[He turns to them.]

Leave the dead where she lay.

[Snaps fingers and all is dark. Snaps fingers and the lights are back.]


[The girl is gone from her seat. She sits in another of those cages, similar to the man with the shattered teeth. No quelchers below her. Instead there are children. They sit, heads turned, eyes dark, hair disheveled, faces sad.]

Can you figure it out?

[Corn asks as he lifts one child from her seat.]

Figure it out and you all go free. If you don't, then you all . . .

[He points to the wall, to the many eyes peering out of them. Blood smears the edges of the holes.]


Thursday, April 3, 2008

Fairy Teeth and the One That Got Away

[The harsh steel on steel creaking grates on our nerves. We look from our seats. Down below us a cage hangs at center stage. The young man entrapped in it sits on his haunches. Eyes distant, hair disheveled.]

[Quelchers surround the cage. Drool slipping from their mouths, spattering the floor. Hungry eyes gawk at him. Groping fingers outstretched, touching the steel bars, trying to get to him.]

[But he sits on the floor in the center of the cage, keeping them from reaching him from the bottom.]

[Someone gags behind us when they see what he is doing. A moment passes and there is vomiting. The smell pierces our senses and our collective eyes water. If not because of the odor, then because of the sight before us.]

[The man babbles words we can't understand. We think that is because every couple of minutes he raises his arm to his mouth and pulls off a piece of flesh. He chews it, swallows it, babbles and tears off more, repeating the process.]

[Several of the Quelchers lap at the blood splattered onto the floor and each other.]


The mind is a terrible thing to lose.

[Steps from the shadows. Patch over the dying eye. Other eye ablaze in intensity.]

Once lost, it can be so hard to find.

[Waves hand. Quelchers disperse, growling as they go.]

[Snaps fingers. Cage lowers.]

You haven't figured it out, have you?


[The man looks up. Blood drips from his chin; a piece of flesh dangles from his half open mouth. He cocks his head to one side.]

[Corn reaches in, a yellowed finger stretching toward him.]

[The man snaps out, his remaining teeth clattering together. One of them cracks, crumbles. He spits it out and across the cage.]

[Corn smiles.]


I think we'll leave you there a little longer.

[Turns. Snaps fingers. Cage ascends.]

Who's next?


[We are reminded of a roulette wheel without the tick-ticking of the pegs as it spends, as the spot light searches across the audience. It glances by sallow faces, distant eyes, before settling on a young woman. At one time, she may have been beautiful, but her features betray any attractiveness she may have had.]

[Her eyes do not blink with the glare of the light; her head does not move. There is little to suggest she is still among the living; her breathing is shallow and other than that we might think she was dead.]

[Corn stands at center stage. He says nothing. Only looks on, as do we. His wicked smile falters slightly, but not enough for those in the audience to tell. But, we saw it.]

Roll it.

[The lights die, the film rolls, the woman's head jerks up to the screen . . .]


She is a child, her hair golden, her cheeks pink. She is still innocent of the world's evils and charms. She lies in her bed, pink blanket pulled to her chest and tucked underneath her arms. Her eyes flutter, then open, exposing their brilliant blue.

Except for the night light in the corner, the room is dark. She sits up and lifts her pillow. There are two quarters lying there. A broad smile stretches her face as she stares at the shiny coins.

Her attention is drawn from the coins and toward her closet, slightly ajar. It had been closed a moment earlier. She stands, her heart crashing in her chest. She opens the closet and sees the small creature running through a hole. Reaching out she grabs hold of one of its legs and is pulled through the hole.

In the bright light of the new world she sees the creature running, its feet kicking up dust behind it. She follows.

It runs into a building, the door left open. As she enters she sees them—thousands, millions of heads on pedestals. She almost screams but cups her hands over her mouth. For a moment, she thinks to run away, to try to get back home. Looking closer at the heads, she sees they are fake, their mouths open and many of them missing teeth. Few of them have full sets and most of them are missing at least a tooth or two.

Sounds of giggling feel her ears and she follows it down the hall and into another room. There stands the creature, its body hairless, its skin light blue; small useless wings protrude from between its shoulder blades; long white hair flows down its back; a tail juts out just above the tailbone.

There are more heads in this room, each of these belonging to children. None of them have full sets of teeth, but their mouths are open just like the ones in the main room.

The creature turns, showing her . . . her own face sitting on a pedestal. The tooth she had placed on the pillow sits in the lower gum line just above two other teeth and beside another one.

He smiles and reaches for her . . .


You are strong


[For the first time since coming here, since being drawn to this spectacle of pain and death, we can smile.]

[The woman's features have changed, her hair blonde, cheeks rosy, eyes blue. Her clothes are no longer dark, her figure no longer wilting away like everyone else's]

[The chains around her wrists and ankles have been broken and lie upon the floor.]


[Scowls. Lone eye glaring.]

[Moments pass. His face softens. Sharp teeth protrude from smiling lips.]

You knew, didn't you?


[She nods at Corn's question.]


What does it mean?


[Her lips part and she speaks, her voice golden and loud in the silent theater.]

I am strong and confident. I meet things head on and don't shy away from them. I am careful with my choices and wise beyond my years.

I am everything you are not.


[Laughter. It echoes through the auditorium.]

Everything I am not? Very witty of you. You have passed. You have done what others could not. You may go.


[She stands. Every head in the theater cranes toward her. Corn does not move.]

[The double doors at the end of the center aisle opens, emitting light from an outside world we have not seen in a long while. Dust motes hang in the air, caught in the beams of light. We long to run toward it, to escape.]

[She leaves her seat and pushes by the zombie-like people around her. The Quelchers peek from their holes in the walls and wail as she walks through the exit.]

[The doors close with a loud clang and we are casts in the dark again.]


One is the loneliest number. Will anyone else find their way?

[He laughs. It echoes. We cringe.]

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Funeral of the Bloodied Eyes

[We have leave our perch in the rafters for a more comfortable seating arrangement. The balcony seats are free and from their position we can close our eyes or duck away if needed.]

[We still are not sure about the madman on the stage, his frantic eyes—even the dead one appears frantic to us—scouring the audience, picking them out one by one and feasting on their dreams, their nightmares.]

[The stage has been dark for quite some time. We occasionally here a cry of pain or fear and that horrible whispering but we have no clue where Corn is. We sense him among us, but that is all.]


And we move on.


[We jump at the sound of his voice.]

[A brilliant orange light appears to the right of center stage. The man from the last show sits in his cage. The bottom is flat, bars all around. A bird cage. Blood lines the floor, face white, lips swollen, eyes vacant. Two teeth lie in front of him.]

[Quelchers—four of them—stand near the dangling cage. One on each side. They whisper still.]]


Ulnet tobe clands

Ulnet tobe clands

Ulnet tobe clands


[Snaps fingers. Light fades. Another one focuses on another man in the front row.]

There’s a fine line between reality and dreams. An even finer line between reality and nightmares.

[Snaps fingers. All is dark again.]


[We here the clop-clop of shoes on the floor, followed by a loud thump. We flinch. Some of us scream. Our hearts race in anticipation and fear.]

Roll it!

[His voice booms in the theater, echoing off the walls.]

[The silver screen lights up and we gaze at the man whose story is to be told. His eyes are alight and we watch as the images pour from him and onto the screen.]


He stands in the center of a large church, hair combed, blue suit and striped tie. He looks around the room, his hazel eyes taking in the scene before him. The church’s red carpet and light tan walls offer stark contrasts to each other. Each pew is packed with black men, women and children, all of them dressed in their Sunday bests.

It takes him a minute to realize he is standing but there are no seats remaining for him to sit in. He looks around, trying to find somewhere to go, to get out of the pristine aisle that ran up the center of the church.

A giant of a man stood at the pulpit. His arms waved wildly as he talked, his afro bounced with each movement.

To the right of the pulpit sat the ivory casket. The man inside had broad shoulders and wore a blue pinstriped suit. His hair framed his head in curls and oil.

The man’s breath catches in his throat when the preacher points at him and then to the dead man.

He looks to the coffin to see the dead man rising up. A long black hand stretches out from the coffin, pointing toward him. The dead man lies back down and then looks up again. He shakes his head. An eyeball burst from the socket and dangles by his cheekbone. His face crumples and then implodes.

Screams fill the sanctuary . . .


[The only audible sounds during the nightmare are the popping eyeball and the screams that follow. Now, as we sit, our hands over our eyes, we realize we are the ones screaming.]

[So real. So very real.]


I knew this one would be bad.

[Snaps fingers. Light appears on him. He scratches his head, frowns. Then chuckles.]


[We watch as Corn leaps from the stage and into the aisle in front of the first row. His shoes send a resounding clack into the air that reverberates off the walls.]

[The man sits in the seat, his head lulled back, one arm dangling between his legs, the other one on his stomach. From our spot in the balcony we can barely make out the color of red on his ivory skin. But it is obvious as to what it is.]

[Corn reaches down and grabs him by his scalp.]

[We scream.]


[Shakes head.]

Too bad.

[Lets man’s head drop, lulling on its neck.]

Sometimes, you have to let go. You have to face things that aren’t right in your life. You have to be willing to make a change.

[Turns to the stage and then back to the audience.]

A hard heart is the hardest thing to break. It’s like a bad habit.


[The Quelchers slink from their holes and toward the front of the theater. They stand before Corn, their eyes on the body, their tongues dripping wet from open mouths.]


[The light snaps off as the Quelchers advance to the body.]

[We cringe at the sounds of flesh rinding from bone. Slurps and growls and chewing.]


Let it go. Sometimes, you have to just let it go . . .

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Ulnet Tobe Clands and His Bloody Gums

[Sitting on the floor, legs crossed, hands on knees. Eyes closed, lips turned down, hair poking out, pointing in all directions. Looks up. The one eye gleams in the meager light of the theater.]

The world is but a stage. It's what you do while you are on that stage that makes or breaks you.

[Standing, his eyes out on the crowd.]

Who's next?


[Like flies on a wall, we watch, many eyes upon Corn as he scans the audience with his one good eye. The other one, we've seen, may as well not be there. Caked socket surrounding the white filmed orb that looks to be decaying.]

[His shoes clack on the floor with each step he takes, echoing all the way up to where we are perched.]

I'm thinking of a number between . . . one and you.

[Corn points into the audience, his long fingers stretching to impossible lengths as he fingers out the next dreamer.]

[Like the others, fear fills his eyes, covers his face and we see him shaking nervously.]

You have one chance to get this right. Fail and you become like the others.

[We need not be reminded of the other two who have played roulette with the master of nightmares. We still hear their screams when we sleep; see their faces when we close our eyes; their dreams, their failure etched in our minds forever.]

Roll it.

[The man sits straight up, his gaunt face alight as the dream plays out, pouring from his eyes in beams toward the screen. We can see the images skirting through the dark until they reach the silver screen where they seem to splat against the smooth material and take a life of their own.]


He awakens, the sun shining through cracks in the blinds. There are no curtains to hold the rays out. He rubs his eyes, blinks and stands without thinking. He shambles across the room, his feet barely lifting off the carpeted floor. A hand runs through his light blond hair and he scratches his butt, the sensation a relief for him.

He shambles into the hallway and down to the bathroom. Rubbing his face with one hand, he peers in the mirror. His green eyes are tired, bags beneath them, red veins within them. The toothbrush is to his right, toothpaste to his left. Like most mornings he begins to brush his teeth, mouth closed around the brush.

Leaning forward, he spits. A trail of red and blue foam and bubbles splat against the white ivory of the sink. Three teeth clink on the surface, one sliding down the drain. He reaches down and lifts out one of the teeth. The roots are missing.

Back to the mirror his eyes see the torn gums and upper lip, the teeth missing the blood trailing out the sides of his mouth and down his chin. In his hand is his shaving razor, tiny chunks of flesh between the triple blades. In the cup to the right of the sink sits his untouched toothbrush.

He spits. Another tooth, followed by gum tissue splatters in the sink. He picks up the toothpaste, squeezes a gob of blue gel onto his razor and begins brushing again. Blood and white foam spill over his bottom lip; part of it tears away and he spits again. More teeth rattle in the basin; a chunk of his bottom lip plops down near the drain, blood and toothpaste all around it.

The man drops the razor in the sink and reaches for the bottle of mouthwash. He takes a deep swig of the green liquid and as he swishes it around in his mouth, tears form in his eyes . . .


[We return to the theater, our hearts thrumming, our hands checking our mouths, reassuring ourselves our teeth and gums are still intact. Down in the audience, the man sits, his eyes wet, his lips bloodied, his gums torn and teeth missing. The front of his shirt is soaked with blood.]



[Laughter erupts from his throat, tilts his head back.]

So, what do we have here? What do you now know that you didn't know before?

[Single eye glares at the bloodied man.]

What is it? What did you see?


[The Quelchers appear from the holes, one of them crawling through the floor near the man. It touches the man's leg, picks up one of his teeth from off the floor. Pops it into his mouth and chews.]

[They hiss and whisper, their words still not clear but something is there. Something we can't quite make out. Their language is foreign to us but we listen intently, trying to gleam a word or two for our own mentality's sake.]


Ulnet tobe clands

Ulnet tobe clands

Ulnet tobe clands


[The man looks down, his eyes wide and his mouth open in a silent scream. Upward toward Corn his eyes gaze. He spits. Another tooth flips from his mouth. Hits the back of the head of the woman in front of him. Blood trails down her long dark hair, the tooth caught in the sticky strands.]

What does it mean?

[Corn's voice laced with venom, eyes staring out, one dead to the world while the other one angered and bloodshot.]

[Tears stream from the man's eyes.]


[One word is all he can mutter at the moment. Shakes his head and tries to raise hands but can't.]

[The Quelcher crawls up his leg and into his lap. One hand reaches around the back of his head. A gaze that could be construed as loving is leveled on him.]


Ulnet tobe clands


[The man's voice hitches but he speaks again, his words not quite clear.]

Perchepsion . . . 'Ow I view byself.


What else?

[We see the smile come across Corn's face, the razor teeth perfectly fitting together.]


[The man shakes his head.]

Cweanwiness . . .



[The Quelchers cease moving. Their eyes turn to Corn. We see the confusion in them.]

Leave this one. He's close . . .

[They hiss, the sound terrible in our ears, like steam drowning out a scream. They turn and leave, the one on the man's lap drops to the floor. Plucks another tooth from his leg and crunches it between its teeth before hiding in the hole again.]

We'll give you a little longer.


[Snaps fingers. Lights go out. A hush covers the crowd. Snaps fingers again. Lights come back on. The man is gone from his seat, placed in a cage on the stage.]

Figure it out, young man, and you can leave.

[Runs finger across bloodied gums, peers at the red liquid.]


[Our stomachs lurch as Corn licks the blood from his finger.]

[The lights dim and we are cast in darkness again.]

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Watching of the Yellow Bloodshot Eyes

Your dreams are but pieces of you. Small pieces, that when combined, can tell you so much about yourself. Your nightmares . . . they are who you really are.

[Sitting, center stage, light blue spotlight on him. Hands to his face as if to pray. He moves them away to talk, replaces them when silent.]

Act One, Scene One didn't fair too well, did she?

[Waves hand, light appears near the wall. Holes line it—big, small, tiny, huge.]


[We are forced to play the role of spectators from our lofty position in the rafters. As Corn unfolds his hands, we see the holes, but more so, we see the misshapened body of a woman. Her skin is dark, long fine hairs covering each inch. Giant eyes peer from the shadowed body. In her hands are the two green eyes of the rocking horse.]

[We know her as the first Dreamer. Her nightmares a reality, her world full of doubts and fears. Paranoia rocks her back and forth in the hole, in her prison.]

[The light dies and we are forced to focus our attention back to Corn, the yellow clad monstrosity sitting at center stage. His top hat lies beside him.]

Who's next?

[We are again helpless as the world goes black and the yellow spotlight flashes along the crowd.]



[Points to the man in the audience. Smile stretches across face; a weasel's smile.]


[The man shakes head, his gaunt face filled with fear.]

What are you afraid of?

[Corn stares, his blood shot eyes dancing in their sockets, hypnotizing.]

It is your dream. Why are you scared?

[The man doesn't speak, though his mouth moves. We see the webbing, like that of spider silk, in his mouth. A groan escapes him and it almost sounds like, HELP. The mouth snaps shut and a trickle of crimson spills from one side of his lips.]

What's that?

[Corn puts a hand to his ear in mock response.]

It's not a dream. You're right, but it is still yours. It is your nightmare. It is inside you. What do you have to lose? Except your mind?

[We see the fear in his eyes and we know his fate has been sealed. The mad man on the stage snaps his fingers and the movie begins to play on the screen behind him. We look to the back of the theater but see no screen room. We follow the light from the screen to the source of film tick tacking before us.]

[The man's eyes are bright. Two lights shine from them and we see the beams blend into one as they reach the screen. The dreams . . . the nightmares are being pulled directly from the source.]

[We grab our collective stomachs and force back the vomit we feell in our throats. The man's eyelids ripple and singe as the movie plays for us, for them, for Corn.]


Face your fears! Face your failures and disappointments. It's the only way out.


He sits at a table, barely aware he is even there. He is outside, drinking coffee at a café. Across the outdoor patio sits two women, hair blue with age, faces wrinkled, ancient cats eye spectacles are over both of their eyes. They drink tea from fine china.

They chatter on like hens in a roost, or at least that is how he sees them: two old hens picking and pecking away with gossip on their beaks.

The café looms large over them, like a skyscraper. But, that is all wrong and he frowns.

He turns and stands in one motion. Behind him a giant wrecking ball on a long chain dangles in the air. Nothing holds it. It sways back and forth, picking up momentum. The man turns back to the old women. They are oblivious to the destruction, the doom heading their way.

He opens his mouth to scream, nothing comes out.

The wrecking ball swings toward the building and he ducks. He looks up to see it crash into the structure, bringing parts of the café down around the women.

He tries to yell again.

One of the women look up, her face an angry snarl.

Her eye is yellowed and bloodshot and he sees nothing else . . .


[The screen freezes with us staring at the yellowed bloodshot eye of the ancient woman. Smells of piss fill the room. We look and see the man still in his seat, his eyes white, bloodshot orbs in their singed sockets.]

Face it!

[Corn is lying on the stage, leaning over the edge, hands holding him, keeping him from falling. They are not his hands, but the stage's. Hundreds of them grip his body, covering him, holding him.]


[A smile traces across the man's face and we watch as his eyes blink, become normal.]

What do you see?


[Blinking away the light in his eyes. He feels a relief wash over him. Darkness fades and he sees the odd yellow man held by hands on the stage.]

What do you see?

[He shakes his head. Confused.]

What did you see in your dream? They won't wait long.

[To the side, they are coming out of the holes in the walls, their features hideous, even in the dark of the theater.]

Come now, what did you see?

[He shakes his head, blinks.]


Eyes. Their eyes. Yellow and bloodshot. They wore glasses from out of the seventies. Their eyes . . . their eyes . . .

[We watch, our hopes surging]

What about their eyes?

They're watching me. They're staring at me, waiting . . .

For what!?

[The creatures advance closer, whispers pouring from their lips. We can not understand them but we know the young man is running out of time.]

I . . . I don't know . . .

[Corn screams, green spittle flinging from his face. The hands grip him tighter, digging into his yellow tuxedo.]

Get him out of here!

[Terror. It fills the man's eyes and our hearts. The creatures—the Quelchers—pull him from the seat, his shackles and chains rattle. His mouth stitches shut, his eyes follow suit and then he is gone. Pulled into a hole, one hand holding on for his life. It slips and we hear his muffled screams.]



[He stands. Brushes the dust from his clothing, straightens his coat. Breathing hard, he snaps his fingers. Hands melt into the stage, flesh and bone blending into the surface.]

The eyes. They stare!. They watch! Like an enemy.

[Scratches balding pate, long fingernails raking across the skin, drawing tiny beads of blood.]

So simple. . . so easy. . .


[Hands raise, he glares out at the audience.]

Be careful of enemy eyes watching you. They wait for you to fall; to make a mistake so they can exploit you. Damage you. Discredit you.

It's so simple to see . . .


[We watch, high up in the rafters, our minds working, thinking. Could it be that simple?]

[Corn stomps from the stage, the liquid hands splashing under foot. He turns, one good eye toward the people.]

Who's Next?


A thanks goes out to Erik Smetana for the concept for this installment.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Little Girl Lost and the Horse With No Eyes

[He stands atop a rafter, looking down.]

They file in nice and orderly. What a polite group of victims . . .

[Puts hand to mouth in mock surprise]

Oooops. I mean what a polite group of spectators. I didn’t expect so many for such an early show. Look at them all. Go ahead. Look.


[We peer from the rafters, all of us gazing on the subjects below, their faces gaunt and sallow; eyes dark, bags beneath them; lips as red as their skin is white; black clothes—those of the dead and the living—don their bodies.]

[Each row fills before the one behind it. Tiny lights line the aisles, casting a glow on their feet. What is that we see? Shackles? We scan up to a set of hands, held in place by cuffs, chains running to the ankles.]

[Each seat is taken and we can see women and men alike, none younger than their early twenties, but some as old as ancient could possibly be. They look straight ahead, their bodies erect in their stadium seats, hands in laps, feet out in front]

Ha ha ha ha. This is going to be great.

[He looks up at us, his eyes wild, his face stretched into a Joker’s grin, his hair sticking out in tufts and we collectively cringe at the sharp yellow teeth that match the sickly yellow suit he wears, right down to his yellow shoes.]


[Drops to the floor. Claps hands together. Lights come on.]

Good evening. Welcome to my Theater of Nightmares. You are all here as my guest, as my . . . subjects.


You can’t leave. I made sure of that. The last show I did someone got up. Ste-vie wasn’t too happy about that.

[Points to a wall behind him. Light flashes by it. A body hangs against the wall. Steel spikes have torn through its flesh in its shoulders and legs; eyes missing, black paint smeared around the sockets. Steel wire stretches to the ceiling.]

[Snaps fingers.]

[The body dances.]

[Snaps fingers again and the body stops.]

I won’t be making that mistake twice.


[A screen rises from the floor, taking up the stage. We watch from our perch as our host steps in front of it.]

[The lights dim and then it’s dark. We see nothing, our hearts race and hairs prickle on our necks. Someone’s bladder releases. A spotlight appears and our host is in the center of it, his arms outstretched at his sides, a blazing yellow top hat on his head.]

I am Corn. I am your Master of Ceremonies. I am all you have or ever will have. I am in you. I AM YOUR NIGHTMARES.

[The spotlight dies and comes back to life on one of the spectators. She is a woman in her forties, we presume. Long dark hair, streaked with gray, sullen eyes. Her bottom lip quivers.]

You. Welcome to the Theater of Nightmares.

[He snaps his fingers and everything is dark again, except for the screen. Black and white images dance across it. We can hear the tick tick tick of the reel…and we see the nightmare unfold from her point of view.]


She runs through the house, eyes frantic, hands out in front of her, but she can’t see them. Each step is like being on air. She touches the walls, leaving dark handprint smudges in her wake.

Turning, she continues through the house, opening doors and peering into each empty room.

“Where is it?” she screams. Her mouth moves but nothing comes from it.

She darts down the hall, her mouth open, screams drowned out from the sounds of her heart’s rapid beating and the rush of blood in her ears.

“Where is it?”

Door after door is opened but all the rooms are empty. The scenery changes and she stops. A different house, familiar territory.

“Where is it?” she screams again.

Throughout the new house she runs, tears stream from bulging eyes. Blood drips from fingers barely visible in the darkness of the building. Around a corner and along another hall. Through a door, she steps into the brightness of a long white corridor. No doors. Her eyes go blind and try to focus.

It giggles, small and childlike. She spins, sees nothing, runs again. Blood drips from her nose and into her mouth.

"Help me." She knows she screams but can't hear anything but the child's laughter.

She is upon a door that wasn't there a moment earlier. With the laughter growing closer she opens it, steps in, shuts the door behind her.

In the center of the room sits a pink rocking horse, its brown yarn hair matted, its saddle seat dusty; the glass eyes are missing and the wood is chipped in places; the black painted mouth is upturned.

She smiles and stumbles to the horse, dropping to her knees in front of it.

"There you are."

She is young again, her features like a child's. The room radiates as her fear washes away. She hugs the rocking horse and pulls away. Her head cocks to one side and her mouth drops open.

The horse's mouth opens and snaps shut . . .


[ . . . and we are thrust back to the rafters of the theater. Her scream echoes in our ears and we barely here the tick tick tick of the reel with the nightmare's end.]

[Darkness envelopes us and we shiver at what we just witnessed. The spotlight appears on the woman's seat. She is gone. In her place is the mane of the rocking horse and two dark green glass eyes.]

[Our host appears again, his hat in his hands, his face stern, his eyes still maniacal.]


[Sets hat on the floor. Gazes to the empty seat.]

Your dreams. Your nightmares have meaning. All of them are pieces of you trying to get out. Your dreams. Your nightmares are you.

Rooms. Halls. Horses. Houses. Darkness. Blood. Light. Eyes. Or the lack there of. Even the subtlety of something like rocking, as in a rocking horse, means something. They are pieces to a puzzle that you must solve, must figure out, before they figure you out.


[Holes appear in the wall. Beasts appear in them, their sharp teeth somehow shining in the darkness. A scream tears through the room. We know immediately that it is the woman. The beasts laugh and are gone.]


[Waves hand toward empty seat.]

Don't worry about her. She has her own problems, her own issues to deal with. She will come to terms with them . . . or not.

[Smiles and stares into the crowded seats of the theater.]

Who's next?


[The spotlight clicks off and we are left in the dark. And sleep calls to us…]


*Special thanks to Chris Bartholomew for this installment's dream concept*

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Theater of Nightmare (1st Post)
By Corn

(Yawn. . .)

Hey. How are you all doing? Hold on a second. Let me wipe the sleep from my eyes and clear up the old vision. There, much better.

(Scratches head and looks around the old joint)

I see the bodies are where I left them. Can’t get the vampires to do their jobs anymore. They’ve gotten fat and lazy, just like the slobs they dine on. I guess the old saying is true: You are what you eat.

Coffee. Yeah, I need some coffee right about now.

(Rubs hand over face, scrunches nose up.)

Wow. You all sure are a nice looking bunch. Well, maybe not you there on the second row, but there’s always an exception to the rule. But, whoa—you. Yeah, you, right up front with the pretty smile. Yeah, you look nice.

Anyway, let me make a pot of coffee and we’ll get the show started. Hold on a second.

(Searches cupboards looking for the coffee. Finds it and wipes the dust off the can.)

That’s right where I left it, too.

Well, what are we doing here tonight? Just kind of hanging around? Ew… bad choice of words for that dude swinging from the rafters. I should have taken him down a long time ago. (Shrugs) At least the crows enjoyed a decent meal for a change.

(Turns coffee on and crosses arms as he looks into the crowded theater. Spreads hands out and walks to the center of the stage.)

Welcome, everybody. To my Theater of Nightmares.

Hey, you in the back. Yeah, the one on his way to the bathroom. This is not a comedy show. Sit down like a good little boy or I’ll send the Quelchers out to get you. Don’t look at me like that.

What? Can you folks believe that? Hold on a sec.

(Picks up phone, dials a number and waits.)

Yeah, hey, Count. Listen, it’s me, Cornelius.

(Rolls eyes.)

Yeah, Corn. It’s me, Corn, okay? Some dude in a Whitesnake T-shirt just got up and walked out. I think he had to go water the lilies or something. Yeah, do you mind sending Ste-vie and the Quelchers after him? No. No. No. They don’t have to bring him back. If they’re hungry . . . Oh, they are. Good. Well, let them enjoy. Say hey to Ste-vie for me, okay? Yeah, thanks. Bye.

(Hangs phone up and looks back toward the crowd. Smiles when he hears the scream.)

Okay, where were we? Oh yeah, I’m making coffee and introducing you to myself. I am Cornelius and this is the Theater of Nightmares. It is my humble home. There are bodies strewn about, which I am sure you can see. Spiders on webs in corners and under seats. Don’t hurt them—they are my friends and I’d hate to have your eyeballs plucked while others looked on. It’s really not a pretty sight.

(Scratches head and chuckles.)

I just made a pun, I think. (Shrugs.)

(Pours coffee and takes a sip. Nods in satisfaction.)

That’s some good stuff.

(Walks over and sits in dusty recliner. Scratches head again.)

I’m glad you guys and gals—especially you in the front—made it to my domain. There’s no turning back now. Time for me to play. Time for you to scream. I hope you enjoy it here—you can’t leave anytime soon.

(Looks to the right of the stage.)

Oh, look, one of the Quelchers brought me a souvenir. Thank you. I’ll put this eyeball with the others in the Looking Lab.

(Licks eyeball and nods). Fresh. Thanks, buddy.

For you out there in the seats, please feel free to roam around. Just don’t wake me as I sleep. I’m cranky when I’m woke up earlier than usual. As you can see, I need my beauty sleep. It’s not easy being uglier than a frog’s butt with hairy warts on it. Somehow I manage just fine.

I have to go put this eyeball away before it spoils. You all just sit tight and I’ll be back real soon with a few treats for you.

(Turns, walks away. Lights dim, curtains close.)