Saturday, January 17, 2015

WE ARE INFINITE Stories: The Case of the Decapitated Toad by Anon E. Moose



Greetings everyone and welcome to another installment of the WE ARE INFINITE stories and giveaway! I'm so grateful to be able to do this and to share stories that remind us all of connection and our intrinsic worth.

Now, before we dive into today's tale, let's have a quick refresher on what's happenin' 'round here:

1. Contest is simple: you send me (kelly.wyre@gmail.com) your INFINITE STORIES and I post 'em. I also promote them, so if you want to include a link to a novel you wrote, an etsy shop, or other such awesomeness, then by all means, include that in your entry! I want to share the love!

2. INFINITE STORIES are tales that remind us of connection: ghost stories, past lives, prophetic dreams, a moment that changed your life, how you found faith, how you found love, how you recovered from heartache, a friend who saved your life, a dog that meant the world, a cat that knew too much, a feeling that spared you or a loved one from pain, a feeling that hooked up a pair of friends for marriage, kids, and life. Anything and everything goes!

All the details about what I'm looking for and how to play are found HERE.

3. Each story enters you for the grand prize. What is it, you ask? Well it's Amazon cash, artwork, and a book!


4. Don't have a story you want to share? No problem! Sharing information about the contest also constitutes an entry for the grand prize! More details about that are right HERE.

5. More questions? Check out the FAQ or email me at kelly.wyre@gmail.com

And last but not least, don't forget to check out the always-accumulating-ever-impressive-oh-so-powerful WE ARE INFINITE STORIES INDEX, where all the contest entries will be linked for you to peruse anytime you need a reminder that you are never, ever alone!

NOW THEN!
Today's entry is from Anon E. Moose.

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The Case of the Decapitated Toad 

I have a story of connection for you, Kelly. It's weird, I guess, but that's not an adjective I'm unfamiliar with by any means.

I have to start with just a wee sprig o' back story – I'm a bit of a private person. Okay, maybe the use of the word "bit" is a touch soft. Let me put it this way, Howard Hughes and I could have been soul brothers (minus the pee bottles and multi-gajillions). I haven't had a picture taken in years (and attempting such a move will usually result in a broken or stolen camera, family notwithstanding), I set up online accounts that source back to nonsense names, and if I have to use my own credit card or Paypal account with someone that knows me, or even knows of me, forget it, I'll do without. Staying in my own little world with a huge protective bubble of anonymity around me makes me feel all kinds of safe. The cyber-world, for obvious reasons, is the only one I play in, but for those rare circumstances when work or family obligations force me into something social. And then I make excuses to ensure I can leave early. The earlier, the better.

So, imagine, if you will – I'm online, in my regular haunts, doing what I do best which is hang in the background, watch and listen, and offer up the occasional well wish or supportive comment. Then he walks in, and my world changes forever.

The end, thanks for reading.

...

All right, all right. I was just kidding. You'll have to forgive me, I tend to have a hard time sharing anything of a personal nature.

This person was one of those persons that grabbed control of a room (even a virtual one) the moment they walked into it. I already knew who he was. I was, in fact, a huge fan of his work. So when he started talking to me (picture me staring blank-faced and pointing at myself while mouthing 'Me? You mean me?' and looking frantically from left to right while searching out the other people he was obviously talking to instead), I was thrilled.

And cautious. I don't trust people. At all.

You see, my sixth sense is so damned honed that I rarely question it. If you see me walking quickly and determinedly away from someone with a frown on my face, do yourself a favour and walk in the same direction as me as fast as you can. That might sound a bit egocentric but I've had more than my fair share of instances. They almost always involve people as opposed to events, and it is never good. It's always a warning. Stay away. Bad news. The Marshal's on horseback and rounding the bend, folks; time to get the hell out of Dodge.

Except, that wasn't what my senses were telling me about this guy at all. For the first time in my life (as far back as I care to remember, anyway) it was telling me I needed to talk to him. I needed to get to know him. That maybe, even, I needed to cut a slit in that bubble of mine and reach through it.

In the beginning it was easy to ignore the prompt. I was able to manipulate most conversations back to him, and he was more than happy to share. He told me about his life, from toddlerhood to adulthood (to the point where I was getting somewhere around three to four hours of sleep every night because I refused to tell him that I worked during the day) and we built a friendship that was the kind of friendship I was comfy with – the kind where I knew everything about him, and he knew only as much as I was willing to share. Which was terribly little, to be frank.

Eventually, however, it got to the point where that wasn't enough for him. So I did what every smart, careful, intelligent person does. I threw the brakes on, I shifted into reverse, and I laid rubber in the opposite direction. As fast and as hard as I could. I didn't disappear, because at that point my online life was all I had, but I became a ghost. I went from late night conversations wherein he held court for hours (and I sweated, desperately trying to tell truthful answers that would still be vague), to answering just about everything with, "fine, okay, good, thanks."

He reacted to that by playing hardball. He had his own set of senses that went far beyond a mere six. If I had to figure a guess on it, I'd say he probably had skill levels that went way up to level nine. He started telling me things about me that he'd seen in dreams, things that came to him when he was out walking and talking to the sun (or some damned thing), and shock of all shocks, these things were dead on. He knew when I was sick. He knew when I'd done stupid things that even the people affected by these stupid things didn't know. Hell, he knew if somebody poked me the wrong way as they passed me on the street. But he also told me that everything was going to be okay, that he was there for me, and that it was time to start seeing if this connection that we shared was worth the breath we'd put into it.

Actually, to be honest, he said he already knew that it was.

I panicked. I breathed a quiet, "fuck this noise," and I decided I didn't need any of it. Not if it meant giving up my shield. I figured that I'd just become a miser. I'd hide away in my basement and ignore everyone and everything including the online life. If that got too hard, I'd start up from ground zero, reinvent myself and no one would be the wiser. If that got too lonely, or proved impossible, well, I wasn't sure what I'd do. Hang myself, maybe, and really really start over.

A dire, unnecessary conclusion, you might be thinking, and I won't go into the reasons that existed in my past that led me to that point. But they were there, and they made me who I was, and in my head there was no other choice.

His messages came, and they were ignored. Texts were sent, and I didn't respond to them. People began to poke him about where I was and whether I was all right, and he would relay those questions back to me with the same result – radio silence.

It's at this point, I told myself, that he would get angry and give up. Nobody likes being ignored and I'd been around the block enough to know that a sure-fired way to get rid of the well-intentioned (or, in some cases, the extraordinary stalker) is to make them feel as if they don't exist. 'Ignore it' may not work for the bullies in school, but it does wonders to turn a person away if they're trying to be part of your life. Hurt feelings fuel anger, anger fuels vengeance, and vengeance leads to something being said or done that the both of you never get over.

It was a perfect plan.

Yes, I was a dick. And there is no defense for me but to say that I was scared. Terrified, really. Because this type of connection with another human being was going to force me into re-evaluating the what, why, and how of what I was doing to my life in the fucked-up name of trying to protect myself. There was a whole slew of demons sitting there waiting, you understand. The moment I nudged that door open and took a good look at anything, they were going to attack. I wasn't strong enough to live through that. I was sure of it.

Then he told me I was. Just like that, while I was thinking about it, he sent me a text and told me that he knew I was scared of losing everything, but that he also knew I was strong enough to face what was coming. He told me that if I kept trying to run from all of this it was going to kill me. He said it was time to turn around and face not only my fears, but myself. He continued with the suggestion that if I didn't start paying attention, something out there was going to make sure that I would.

That shouldn't have caused the reaction that it did, but I grabbed my cigarettes and my lighter (I'd been trying to quit and doing that thing where one lies to one's self about how they're just going to 'cut it back' until they can toss the habit completely) and I hightailed it out to my back patio to smoke and fret.

This was, in hindsight, a double-sided smack in the face to, well, I don't even know? The universe? God? The powers that be with respect to connection? Because not only was I still avoiding this guy, I was doing something I had long since told him I didn't do anymore – smoke.

I'll track again into the world of back story for a moment, just so the reaction I'm about to tell you about makes sense. I've always been an animal person. I think a lot of reclusive people are. Animals offer companionship without conversation, and friendship without expectation beyond a 'Can I have a corner of that sandwich, maybe?' The wounded, orphaned, and abandoned of this world (be it furry, feathered, scaled, or otherwise) all somehow managed to find my door. Sometimes they stayed until they were well enough to venture back out, and sometimes they stayed forever. I loved them all, and I still do. I tend to joke that knowing me I'd probably run over a human to save a squirrel. I would definitely (have, actually) run myself into a ditch to save one. Animals and I just click.

So when I looked down at my feet and saw what I saw, I was heartbroken. Now, being an animal lover, I know that Nature is Nature and not everything that happens in the circle of life is pretty. Things get eaten, even the cute things, but I still hated to see it. Considering I'd recently made friends with a set of ridiculously adorable (and oddly friendly) tree frogs, it made what I was looking down on even harder to see. Spread out on my welcome mat, as if it had been dropped as an offering (warning?) lay a headless toad. It was on its side, front legs stretched toward my door, back legs splayed. My sixth sense twitched painfully, I stepped closer, and the toad moved.

Spasms, I told myself. It happens sometimes with a fresh kill. Maybe a big freaking bird had flown past and dropped the poor thing by accident. (It was dark, but I told myself it could have been an owl. After all, they totally hunt at night.) I remember feeling bad, shaking my head, and bringing the cigarette back up to my mouth. And then the toad didn't just spasm, it jerked both its back legs and flopped over. It tucked its front legs and the damn thing sat up. Then it sat there and, had it a head, it would have been staring directly at me.

I tossed my smoke (although, truth be told it could have just fallen out of my fingers because I wasn't really paying attention to my vice at that moment), and I backed away from this zombie-amphibian in complete shock. Then it jumped. Directly at me. As if it was saying, 'oh, no, my friend, you don't walk away from me.'

In that instant I knew it was right. I knew my friend was right. I couldn't keep backing away from the unknown because of some sick attempt to keep my head comfortably within the known. When I'd shut down every other receptor, including my own proven and tested sense for people, something else stepped up and suggested that I'd be wise to reconsider – zombie-apocalypse wise.

I've since learned (through some panicked research) that toads are far from the only critter that can keep moving after they've had their heads removed. Venomous snakes can still kill you after their heads are gone, the tentacle of an octopus can still grab and wriggle, fruit flies can still preen, a turtle's heart can keep beating for up to 5,000 hours (yes, five thousand) and frogs and toads can not only move, they can swim and fight. Don't even get me started on spider penises. (There's some factoids you probably never knew you needed to know.) I even think, in some way, that I knew this already. In that moment it felt like something far greater than me had handed me my own personal sign, though.

I went back in the house and I called my friend. I told him what had happened, and I told him I was sorry, and a whole pile of well-boarded up windows got kicked in that day. It took a while to bring all the walls down, of course. But it happened, brick by brick, and I'm glad it did. He became one of my best friends, and reminded me things about spirituality, self-love, and connection that I had ignored for too long.

There were changes that followed, there always are when a person tries to break out of the mold set for them by society and family. Some people are really comfy with knowing where you are and how to keep you there, and they aren't happy when you start changing it up. There was heartache and a fuck-ton of loss. There were fights, and anger, and backlash – and I have never felt more alive in my life. I opened that door and I saw those demons and I realised that they were just as afraid of me as I was of them.

Nobody ever told me that I was a damned good demon hunter.

Except him. He did. And something out there made sure I listened.

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That's absolutely lovely, Anon. Thank you so much for sharing.

What do you think, readers? Do you have a story about a friend who changed your life? A loved one who put you on a new or better path? Respond in the comments or email your stories to me at kelly.wyre@gmail.com as entries into the WE ARE INFINITE contest!

Deadline to enter contest is Feb. 8!

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Kelly Wyre enjoys reading and writing all manner of fiction, ranging from horror to romance. She used to work in advertising but is now happily chained to her writing desk and laptop. She believes she's here to tell stories and to connect people with them. She's written several novels, novellas, and short stories and has no plans on stopping anytime soon.

Kelly relishes the soft and cuddly and the sharp and bloody with equal amounts of enthusiasm. She's a coffee addict, an avid movie lover, a chronic night owl, and she loves a good thunderstorm. Currently Kelly resides in the southeastern United States.

Available Now!
Meet Me at the Gates by Kelly Wyre

Outer Banks bookstore owner Hyacinth Silver Fox has a secret millennia in the making: her soul was magically entwined with another, and at night she dreams of every lifetime they've ever spent together. The rules of their magic are simple: Hydee always knows her lover, but he, or she, doesn't remember her. It's up to Hydee to find and make her soulmate see they are destined for each other, and this lifetime is no different, but there's one problem: her soulmate is Theo Monk, heartthrob actor and Hollywood's sometime-infamous badboy. Hydee's hope of reuniting is wearing thin, but she has no idea how dire the situation really is.

Because meanwhile in California, Theo Monk is losing his mind. Anxiety and paranoia rule his life, along with his on-again-off-again girlfriend and her entourage. When fear and frustration push him to an edge, Theo cuts and runs as far from his problems as he can without knowing Fate's giving him one last shot to unite with the only person who can help him. Hydee and Theo must save one another before hope runs out and Hydee's despair and Theo's fear keep them apart forever.




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Connect with Kelly
Twitter: @kelly_wyre

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