Blog of Oonah V Joslin -- please visit my Parallel Oonahverse at WordPress

where I post stories and poems that have not been seen elsewhere - also recipes and various other stuff.

and see me At the Cumberland Arms 2011

Saturday, 24 October 2020

October 2020 -- A whole Heap of HORROR -- No 24

 Here in the UK we're about to experience that yearly time quake that marks the end of what we laughingly call British Summer Time. 😏 So I thought I would post a weird Time piece, especially for this year in which we all seem to have missed time and yet had too much of it! 

The Last Syllable of Recorded Time

Dr. Geetler had a feeling of deep déjà vu like he’d had this same feeling of déjà vu a couple of times before. The cornea scan, the buzz of the door, the antiseptic white of the corridor, Teal Cunningham saying “How’re you doin’ man?” then the green screen, the pulse. It had something to do with the pulse.

He stared at the data as if it hurt, the way he stared at the data every day since he’d stared at it on July 11, 2011, the first time he’d managed to measure the quake. It had taken a while for him to recognise the effects because of the nature of the anomaly.

First of all it was virtually undetectable, and he’d decided to measure it only because of this persistent feeling. He managed to “see” it only by shooting lasers at the event horizon -- the term is usually reserved for black holes, but it seemed to fit the bill. The pulse hit the planet in a wave in all directions simultaneously and it apparently did nothing -- except that Geetler was sure it did. Only nobody noticed it.

For a long time even Geetler didn’t notice. At first it was just that feeling of déjà vu. He sold his house to set up research because no evidence, no money; no money, no evidence. He built the pulsometer and logged an event each time it happened.

On the 13th another one hit, then the 17th, 19th, 23rd, 29th. Each time the pulse quickened by minutes. Geetler knew he’d recorded that data but there was no standing record; only the last reading on July 31st. And so he had to wait a further six years for more proof and sure enough, 02.02.17 it came and on 03.02, 05.02 and always it quickened by an increasing factor of primes.

But once more, all the data, except that for the last reading, disappeared. Only his belief in his own sanity and in the veracity of the scientific method held him on track. He believed it to be there. He’d created the instrument therefore he knew he’d taken readings. It was all about pulses and primes. But who would believe him on such scant evidence?

People, it seemed, were oblivious. A quake would come and wipe out the previous hours and they’d all start again as if time just flowed on as normal until the next prime pulse. Geetler had taken to writing data by hand when he realised that computers invariably reset themselves after each time pulse, as if the pulse had never existed.

Then he discovered that he, too, was affected. No matter what method he used, only the last data in any pulse sequence survived. He took to regressive extrapolation. He knew what the scientific community would call that: falsifying data, they’d say. But at last he had built up solid database from each final event for the past three decades, from 2017 to 2053, but that wasn’t much. If he went public they’d think him mad.

There was absolutely nothing anyone could do about the prime pulses anyway, and even Geetler wasn’t sure what would be the final outcome of these time quakes. The number of minutes between pulses, like the dates, followed the pattern of primes. Today the quakes were down to hours apart. At least he thought it was today. The pulses were getting faster.

He wondered what might happen. Would everyone repeat the final 23 minutes of their lives, then repeat the final 19, then 17 and so on down to the final 2? And what then? Would the pulses play out in milliseconds? Nanoseconds? Would time reset itself again -- this time for good? Would the final quake leave Earth to its history? Or would they all grind to an irrevocable halt, all motion ended, time suspended for eternity?

Geetler stared at the data. It had been updated just three minutes ago. He shut his eyes, took in a deep, and perhaps a final breath and waited, and wished, and hoped he was gloriously deluded.

Why not browse some more of my Bewildering Stories Archive

Friday, 23 October 2020

October 2020 -- A whole Heap of HORROR -- No 23

First published in Microhorror, this one came from an actual nightmare I had -- and you think you've got problems... 👀  If any of you wants to undertake a Freudian analysis, keep sctumm about the results... 

Après Longtemps: A Troubadour’s Return

By Oonah V Joslin

Le Patron du Café Solutré called them Gringons. “Only thirteen hands,” he said. “Camargues are born black. Later they turn white but keep a dark undercoat. They require no stabling or shelter of any kind. They are docile enough for children yet strong enough to herd bulls. Tenacious. How are you called, Monsieur…?”

Cathar,” I told him.

Then,” he said, “You are come home!” He kissed me roughly on both cheeks and began his story with words of warning. “But, méfiez-vous, mon brave.”

No village now stands near that cemetery. The spongy bog has swallowed history and shrouded it in protective mists. Deserted and overgrown within its walls la Cimetière des Gardians lies desolate and though I had reason to be there that autumn morning, I experienced a certain trepidation and shuddered as I wandered amongst its nameless tombs. They were of marble: Incarnat du Languedoc elaborately carved. It is a striking stone, its splattered white and crimson veins all too redolent of splintered bone and spilt blood.

I approached the vast monument upon a central plinth; bare but for a short inscription in Occitan which, of course, I could not read. 500,000 souls wiped out by two generations of inquisition. Nobody knew how many lay here or who they were.

Kill them all. God will know His own,” said the Abbot of Béziers.

Catholic, Cathar, Jew, it mattered not, as long as this “Synagogue of Satan” was erased and with it that heretical obscenity–Occitan.

Others fled as wandering troubadours, some members of my line no doubt. Faidits ou morts–a brutal choice. The faithful horses, held by strong bonds of loyalty to folk that would take no oath nor swear any fealty, remained close, watching over the dead.

Then one night these “manades,” semi-feral once, now fully wild, ran amok–driven mad by lonely, protracted grief. In their madness they stampeded. Their eyes, they say, shone gold amid the night. One bit another. The bitten one turned red. One by one they joined in hideous blood-rage. They broke the gates and rampaged through streets that had been settled by their herdsmen’s killers; turning all colors, red to gold to blue, purple and green. (Camargues are not white.) Skeletal they were, with yellowed teeth and frightened eyes. They were distraught and savage in revenge. Their teeth ripped flesh, tore sinew, and any that survived the bite were cursed to die, days, sometimes weeks later of crazed fevers that terrorized their fitful dreams; their upturned eyeballs became deathly white. And when that night of hatred was at end, there were no more white horses to be seen. But in the graveyard stood, atop the plinth, a woman with flowing hair, who rode upon a pure white unicorn of finest marble of a type not found in Languedoc or nearby. Its single horn speared the surrounding miasma.

And if I say I began to believe, I had no choice. I heard them. Heard them whinnying close by: les manades. I dursn’t look behind. I perceived as it were a ripple, a wispy change in the mists, like warm breaths disturbing the morning airs. I heard a trampling of impatient hooves and knew they stood behind me. The mists changed color with an eerie glow: red here, a livid green, a subtle gold to purple then cold blue. It was, I told myself, but the residual shades of an autumn sunrise–only I knew better. The sun ought to be high by now. They were waiting for me to reveal whether I was friend or foe. I had no language I could use with them. If I uttered French they’d surely trample me. These were horses of Occitan and I knew little of my kin. I pitied all the souls of that tormented place.

And now a single drop of purest water dripped from the horn of the marble unicorn onto my head. I looked up. The horses reverted back to myth and mist. “Perhaps,” I thought, “the Lady knows her own.”

Copyright: © 2011 Oonah V Joslin

Thursday, 22 October 2020

October 2020 -- A whole Heap of HORROR -- No 22


Sown On the Wind

By Oonah V Joslin

Lil wiped her hands on a bloody apron. She smelt of bird guts.

“Come just as soon as I could,” said Laroux.

“It’s happened again,” she said. “And it ain’t no fox. The hens is scattered all over and the house is wrecked. You’ll have to build me a new one.”

She had some gall, the old girl. Laroux was a neighbor and as far as he was concerned, he didn’t have to do a goddam thing he didn’t want to. He scratched his head. It was the darnedest thing. Not a hen in sight and the shed skewed at a drunken angle about to topple right over. He could shore it up for now.

“Musta bin a tornado, Lil.”

“Weren’t no dang tornado. Didn’t touch nothin’, 'cept the bird house.”

“Well, I can’t figure it,” said Laroux. “Didn’t you see nothin’?”

“Heard somethin’ like a wind but time I got out, there weren’t nothin’ to see but gone birds.”

Lil had got rid of the big livestock she couldn’t manage on her own. At first she kept wild fowl, geese, ducks, turkeys and capons just like she’d always done. Now she was down to hens and capons. With Christmas approaching they were her best hope of an income.

Laroux did a good job. Lil rounded the birds up and put down extra feed she could ill afford. “Don’t y’all disappear now,” she said as she padlocked the door. “Tomorrow’s slaughter day.”

She hastened indoors out of the cold and dark. The smell of chicken broth was as appetizing as the smell of chicken guts was repugnant but you had to do the guts to get the broth. Lil had a strong stomach.

She woke in the middle of the night to a sound like a honking wind. It was moving eerie and swift towards the house. She stood by the window with the shotgun. And then she saw it. A mighty flock of geese, greater than any single flock she’d ever seen or heard, honking and flapping like a force of nature. She got a couple of shots off but they never wavered from their path right over the house. As she pulled down the sash window one slammed into it. One for the pot.

Next morning there was no sign of any of them. Damned foxes were doing alright, Lil reckoned. She went out to see to the hens. Only there were no hens. There was no hen house. It had gone. Gone–as in disappeared altogether. She phoned Laroux.

“I tell ya, Lil, I never knew a tornado be this vindictive.”

“Weren’t no tornado, Laroux. It was geese, I tell ya. Real mean geese too. Came at the house like they was on a mission. You musta heard them. Why, they flew right over your house too.”

“Never heard nothin’, Lil, I swear.”

“Well I’m ready for ’em tonight.” She propped the gun by the window.

“You holler if you need anything, you hear?”

Lil heard that honking sound in the dark and then the flap of wings like a rush of wind louder and louder, building and building until the house cowered under it. Lil waited until her aim was certain. She fixed on the first target–saw right through it, just like it wasn’t there. Fixed on a second–“What the…?” She targeted bird after transparent bird, recognizing every beak she’d forced, every breast she’d plucked, every neck she’d cleaved. Insubstantial as air, yet powerful as a storm they flew straight at the window where she stood–unstoppable.

Laroux found Lil next day in a pool of blood, the gun never fired. Sharp daggers of window pane had severed her head near off and the hair had been plucked from her bloodied scalp. A shard of broken glass had ripped her belly open so that guts spewed out onto the floor. He witnessed a white cloud moving away east against the wind, unlike any cloud he’d ever seen. Death’s avenging arrow. A gaggle of ghosts.

Copyright: © 2007 Oonah V Joslin

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

October 2020 -- A whole Heap of HORROR -- No 21

 Today I'm reposting one from a little archive of my stories in Every Day Fiction and of course feel free to nip over there, and browse.

Sleight of Hand

The audience was silent, the auditorium hushed. Amidst the velvet blackness of the stage, a single white glove appeared, its supple fingers slowly unfolding a fan of playing cards. A second glove emerged from the darkness and the fan, thrown towards it, disappeared. The gloves proudly displayed their empty palms to the delighted crowd. As the hands came together and rose, a pure white dove materialized, then was released into the rafters, to the sound of ‘ooohs’ and ‘aaahs’.

Astonished gasps followed the visitation of a third hand. Try as they might, the watchers could see no one on the stage let alone someone possessed of three hands. A jeweled goblet, lit with an eerie flame, was held aloft in the cupped gloves, while the single glove drew a knife from nowhere and heated the sharp blade in the fire. The dagger lunged into the empty space before it and in its stead, a blood red scarf appeared, swirling round and round with graceful ebullience. A fourth hand joined the other three on stage, all four engaging in a kind of dance, continually meeting and parting, producing showers of silk scarves of every hue.

Finally the gloves on stage ripped away the black hoods hiding the faces of their animators, and then the black robes, uncovering dazzling costumes of red and gold underneath. The stage lights revealed no mechanisms or mirrors; no chicanery of deceit. It was a perfect illusion. Removing the gloves and casting them to one side, The Great Dexter and his beautiful assistant Sinistra took deep bows to appreciative applause.

In the dressing room, Tom Dexter and his wife Eliza fought like cat and dog. The furious arguments rang through the endless corridors and stairways that made up the backstage of many a provincial theatre, and were always about the same things–billing, venues, tour dates, cheap hotels, missed anniversaries.
“It isn’t as if we can’t afford better,” she complained.
“We could afford better if you’d stop squandering money on fancy jewelry and entertaining your bloody entourage!”
“Well, maybe if I got some attention from you!”
Why was he such a slave driver, she wanted to know, demanding endless rehearsals and forever adding some old, tired trick to the act?

Most of their performance involved the standard trappings of any magician’s trade–prestidigitation, vanishments and mind reading. This latest departure, into what amounted to mime, had been Eliza’s idea and she was never slow to point that out. There was even talk of them breaking onto the London circuit because of this innovation. Their agent had suggested a new poster:

Dexter & Sinistra
With their
Astonishing Magical Gloves.

Tom regarded it as a waste of money, and didn’t quite see how she deserved equal billing. Furthermore he wasn’t damned well sharing the bill with a pair of gloves. Thus it continued, night after night, week after week; on stage, harmony–acrimony off.

And so it was, there was no mention of the gloves on the billboard that eventually hailed their London debut. On the opening night, a packed house applauded the usual tricks, and awaited with anticipation the final act of the show – the astonishing magical gloves.

Inky blackness fell on the stage. A glove appeared, showing off a deck of cards; a dove was released and flew high into the wings; empty palms manifested from deep obscurity, and in the occult stillness, a third white glove appeared almost floating towards the first two. The ritual goblet’s bluish flame once more licked the edges of the dagger. As it lunged forward, the breath was forced out of the performer’s body, and lurching into prominence, Dexter, in his frenzy to live, urgently tore at the black hood that covered his head and neck, ripping it apart. Few who saw that contorted expression ever forgot the terror and disbelief that they saw on his face, nor the frothing gurgle of blood that pumped from the victim’s throat, choking his dying words.

Several stage hands rushed to centre stage, but to no avail. Beside him on the boards, soaked in blood, they found but a single discarded glove. Its partner was discovered only later, still in the dressing room, its stainless fingers limp around the neck of she who should have worn it.

Copyright: © 2007 Oonah V Joslin

Tuesday, 20 October 2020

October 2020 -- A whole Heap of HORROR -- No 20

 To see the amazing artwork, by Crystalwizard, that inspired this poem you must follow this link to Bewildering Stories.  You'll love it! And if you want to find some other of my titles that interest you, you can browse them by clicking my name at the bottom of that page for poems, stories long and short and even a novella! A Genie in a Jam which is actually a whole heap of laughs. 😃 

The Last Laugh

by Oonah V Joslin

The skeleton told all the flesh off its bones;
laid its whole life bare
till there was no story left in the book.

The rat sat patient as a friend
because, as every rat knows,
every tale must come to an end.

Fleshless, the bone that reads the empty page.
In deadlock now the two of them engage
eyeball to eyeball.

The rat has a hungry look.

Monday, 19 October 2020

October 2020 -- A whole Heap of HORROR -- No 19

Sartre said Hell was other people. What happens though if it's your own thoughts you need to escape? Is there a way out?

A Cat’s Chance

Black floor, grey walls, white ceiling. Not the most imaginative décor. At the end of the long corridor was a door marked CBT. The note in his hand bore the same letters, so Erwin knocked.

“Enter,” commanded a voice.

There was no one in the room.

“Good morning,” said the voice.

He looked up and around for speakers. “Where am I?”

“Incorrect response.”

“Good morning. Where am I?” Erwin offered.

The objects in the room seemed familiar. “I think I’ve been here before.”

“On many occasions,” confirmed the voice, “but convergent thinking is not what we require.”

“What do you want? What are these things doing here? What am I doing here?”

“Okay, we’ll play it your way -- again. Examine the objects and tell me your thoughts.”

“Is this some game?”

“The letters on the door… did they hold meaning for you?”

“CBT. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.


Erwin thought irritation at the tone of this remark would serve no purpose.

On a table at the centre of the room, there were three boxes. Two were open but the middle one was sealed. “The observer’s paradox,” he said. “This cat is dead. And this,” he looked inside the third box, “is alive, so the one inside this box is in a superposition of states.”

“And you deduce…”

“We cannot know whether the atom has decayed, whether it is at the tip or the surface of the bulk material, whether tunneling is occurring; but we may assume that for all practical purposes in macroscopic coherence, the cat’s wave function will have collapsed and it is either dead or alive and not both simultaneously.”

“You wear these thoughts like slippers,” said the voice. “Tell me about this computer.”

“Basically it is a box housing electronic components capable of receiving and storing data and carrying out complex algorithmic searches. But I would need to switch it on to find out what it can do. May I?”

“You may not.”

“The visual unit would provide a liquid crystal display of photons. And that in itself is interesting because at the quantum level…”

“Yes, so you have explained in some detail,” said the voice. “What of the photograph on the wall?”

“It’s a tennis match,” said Erwin. “One of the players looks angry. There’s chalk dust flying. Looks like the ball is outside the box.”

“The outcome is therefore open to question.”


The next box was a coffin and a suspicion crept into Erwin’s mind – a suspicion he did not much care for. “Is there anything inside this?”

“Are you speaking ‘micro’ or ‘macro’scopically now?”

“Am I keeping you amused? Are you enjoying your little lab-rat game?”

“Barely. You would have to open the coffin to find your answer -- observe, collapse the field, to determine whether there was macroscopic coherence, wouldn’t you?”

“Yes. Sometimes you know I wish I’d never dreamt up that damned cat.” Erwin looked back at the three central boxes.

“Do you recognize these pictures?”

“This is the Nine Dot Puzzle; Lloyd 1914. And that’s Mickey Mouse. Walt Disney. In order to solve that puzzle you have to think outside the box and that was what Disney always encouraged his cartoonists to do. That way you create volume. You can turn two dimensional characters into… That’s it! Isn’t it.”

Looking up, he saw now that nowhere did the walls of this room join the ceiling. There simply was no ceiling and there never had been -- only light. “All this time I’ve been thinking inside a box,” he said, “not only that, it was a box of my own making!”

“Well done, my friend. CBT -- Cat/Box Therapy. All your questions have been irrelevant. ‘Where?’ is Infinite. ‘When?’ is Now. ‘What?’ is a Matter of conjecture and ‘How?’ is for the moment, Light. You already knew these things.”

Erwin went and looked inside the coffin, confirming his suspicion.

“Now -- I have a gift for you.” The voice said. “Go and open the middle box.”

Erwin did so. At last he would have the answer. But all he found inside was a simple card.

“It is the next question,” said the voice. “Read it.”

Erwin read it. “Why?”

With that, the outer walls of his cell collapsed and the card turned itself inside out making three dimensions, and again, five dimensions, and again, eight dimensions -- eleven. He laughed with sheer elation. Here was an entire multi-verse of questions to explore and here he was – Erwin Schrödinger at the centre of it all.

Copyright: © 2007 Oonah V Joslin

Sunday, 18 October 2020

October 2020 -- A whole Heap of HORROR -- No 18

This was a moment of real horror for me during a wonderful day at Minneapolis Zoo. I've never felt comfortable about zoos in the same way I never feel quite at ease with archaeology. 

Touching the Tiger

by Oonah V. Joslin

Tantalising, close it lies.

Would you like to touch the tiger skin?
asks the man in the pith helmet.
Every tiger is unique.
You know them by their stripes
a different pattern every one

Shaken loose
there its ears
and eyeholes.

I drop
the thing.

its living gold and roar
torn asunder
dread and threat

discarded drape of a tattered tiger.

No breath.
No tiger breath.
No rippling gold.
No bold feline predator.

the fearful
asymmetry of death.

Copyright: © 2012 Oonah V Joslin 

First published in Bewildering Stories and subsequently in my book Three Pounds of Cells