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*