Daedalus could do nothing but watch as his son spiraled into the sea. His own wings were also beginning to falter.
My only son. My pride and joy, swallowed by Poseidon's unforgiving jaws.
He would not let it happen.
But as he flew forward, there was a loud ripping sound.
No. Not enough time.
It was him or Icarus, and Daedalus couldn't make the choice. His heart got in the way, so he gave it up. His brain made the decision: self preservation.
The part of him named Daedalus died that day. He was no longer the father of Icarus, no longer the man who helped the weak and punished the strong. He was a broken man.
And far under the waves, Icarus opened his eyes.
Memories are hard to make, and even harder to keep. When Icarus woke up in the middle of the sea, instinct told him to swim, to run, to flee or die. But when he opened his mouth and breathed, he did not die. Again, instinct told him this was wrong, he shouldn't be able to breathe underwater.
But he could. And he had no memory of who he was. Only the barest hint of instinct was keeping him moving. If it weren't for that instinct, that animal sensation, the barest remnant of a past consciousness, he would have forgotten how to do anything. He would be dead.
In front of him was a man with skin as gold as the sand, and eyes as blue as the ocean, and an outfit with every color of coral there was.
The man told Icarus that he was Poseidon. The name sounded familiar, but even that, Icarus did not fully know. The man also said he had saved Icarus. That, Icarus also did not know. He'd been plunged into an underwater world with no memories, no idea how to survive, and a strange man with a familiar name.
He did the only thing he could.
He took Poseidon's hand, and descended into the sea.
So began his life, not as an inventor, but as a warrior.
On land, strife began to dwell. A man known only as The Inventor had begun building a massive maze, one that mysteriously spread across the earth like a virus, trapping everyone inside, where they either went crazy... or died.
But under the sea, Poseidon and his warriors were unaware of such troubles. They trained, they partied, they danced. The boy who was once Icarus became Tahy, or One Who Lives in the Sea, and he lived well. He was strong and proud, and good at what he did, and he quickly earned Poseidon's favor.
Only once the bodies began damming up the rivers did Poseidon decide to intervene.
Of course, he sent only his finest warriors.
Five men and one woman. Four of the men were disgruntled that a woman was among them.
One of them was too focused on his mission to care.
And the woman?
She cared little what was thought of her. She did her job, and she did it well. That's all that mattered to her, and that's all that mattered to Poseidon.
They fought well. They had a strategy. They did everything right. But Daedalus's maze tore them apart, one by one, they were separated and killed.
All except one.
Icarus fought and he battled, fiends both real and imagined, flesh and machine.
Finally, the Inventor had to intervene. His precious creations, they were all he had left. He couldn't let this... this boy defeat him and destroy his life's work.
When he saw the boy, however, a small fire ignited in him The first thing he'd felt besides bitter hatred in a long, long time. He remembered flashes of a boy, flying into the sun, falling into the sea... remembered the face, the expressive eyes, so much like his own... those same eyes that stared back at him now.
He remembered, and for the first time in his life, he felt remorse.
"So," the boy said. "You're the one behind this."
"Icarus," said Daedalus. "Icarus, my boy..."
"I know no one of that name," said the boy who was two people at once.
Daedalus took one step forward, smiling and holding his arms out wide.
"Icarus," he says. "My son, come here..."
The voice was familiar, but not familiar enough. Icarus had been erased. Tahy was all that remained.
A single blow was all it took. A stab to the neck with a spear.
Daedalus shed a single tear, silver as the moon, and died, his mouth open as if he'd had one last sentence that he never got to finish.
Tahy returned peace to the Earth. The Labyrinth crumbled. But no one would know. No one would know of his victory. Of his triumph. Of his crime.
Because Icarus was no son at all, not really. Not flesh or blood.
Like his wings, Icarus was made of wax. His body became one with the ocean and he inhabited a passing water spirit.
His life was tied to Daedalus. And in his last triumph, it was also his last breath. His salvation had been his doom.
Poseidon picked up one of the small drops of wax off the dusty ground, swiping it up with his finger. He smiled, because instantly, he knew what had happened.
The wax melted into his hand, swirling into his skin like dye in water.
Icarus, or Tahy, or whoever he was was no more.
The boy was one with the ocean now. And the ocean doesn't care about names, or winners, or identities, or memories. The ocean merely takes.
Icarus was just the latest prize.
"We're the worlds slimiest nerds," John said.
"Nah," I say, admiring the fake membrane hanging off my arms. "Slimiest artists, more like. We're going to scare the shit outta Baker."
"Anyone can scare Baker, Ryan. Hell, a local news story about a science fair winner can scare Baker. He's so paranoid that he doesn't even have a phone."
"He doesn't own a phone? Jesus, it's a miracle he hasn't up and died yet."
"Maybe he has," John says, wiggling his fake-webbed fingers. "But nah, I'm not interested in scaring Baker. I'm thinking bigger."
"Baker's like, hundreds of pounds. He's the biggest guy in town," I say with a snort. "Any bigger and we'd need to bring a coffin, to deal with the heart attack victim."
"I heard his mom took three urns to carry her," John says. "That's pretty damn big. Bigger than Baker, I'd bet."
"I heard his dad took four," I counter.
"Ah, fuck off. I'm thinking bigger than four urns. I'm thinking about a whole damn graveyard compared to that."
"Hm," I say. "How big?"
"It's going to be the biggest thing in Loveland since Lola Smith was caught banging Mr. Little in the school bathroom."
"God damn, John. You set your standards pretty high."
"Listen, Ryan. We've got the latest iPhone. We've got costumes so good Frogman's mama couldn't tell us apart. In other words, we've got the beginnings of the best Halloween prank in existence."
"D'ya think two Loveland Frogs are too weird? Maybe people'll get suspicious."
"Nah," John says. "You can be the Loveland Frog's beautiful wife." He swoons and makes kissing noises into the air.
"And you can be the inbred cousin," I say, punching him in the shoulder. "Hideously deformed and destined to die alone."
John flips me off, and I smile.
"So," I say, still grinning. "Who're we gonna scare?"
The flashlight traces a drunken path in front of us, a golden patch dancing from sidewalk to sidewalk, flowerbed to flowerbed, minivan to minivan.
All the houses look the same. Red brick and white siding. Navy blue shutters.
The only house that doesn't match is 1313, with shutters as red as blood.
Guy who lives there, Dan Baker, he's a paranoid son-of-a-bitch. Says that red brings good luck. Keeps his shutters locked all the time. Rarely leaves. Real kook.
One Halloween, some kid made the mistake of coming to his house for trick-or-treat.
Baker thought he was some kinda actual monster, shot him in the gut. The gun was loaded with rock salt, so the kid didn't die, but poor Harry hasn't been the same since. Pretty sure he just got outta St. Luke's Hospital after he almost killed a girl.
Baker's loony, and his type of crazy is contagious.
"Little further," John says.
"Hang on," I say. "How do you even know where Julie's party is gonna be? It's only for the best of the best. The strongest of the strong. The cheeriest of the cheer squad. The hottest of the hot. How'd you get it?"
"Ha, ha, very funny. Believe it or not, I got invited."
John holds up a small business card. On it is an address and a date.
"No way," I say. "No goddamn way. Really?"
"No, not really," John snorts. "I might fit the hottest of the hot criteria, but I'm also the gayest of the gay. I don't get invited to things."
"Didn't I invite you to my house?"
"You don't count."
"Ouch. So how'd you get the card?"
"I promised Luke Star that I wouldn't tell good old papa Reverend Star about his tryst with Gina and Carrie. It was purely out of the goodness of my heart. I'm following the 'bro code.' I just... asked for something in exchange."
"You sick bastard."
"See, now you get it. I told you, I'm planning for this to be the most fun this shithole has had in years. I mean, our claim to fame is a police officer who shot a crippled iguana, for God's sake. We need to liven things up around here. Now shut up. We're getting close."
With no small amount of trepidation, I pull the frog mask over my eyes, covering the last bit of exposed skin left on me. Everything, from my toes to my eyes, is covered by the frog suit. It took us all month to make it, and finally, it's done. And done well, I might add.
A few minutes later, the flashlight goes off. No use in revealing ourselves until we're ready.
We've got some popular assholes to scare.
The door, of course, is open. Julie's party is elite. It moves around every year. So she's not too worried about uninvited guests.
Well she's about to get two guests she never invited.
As I sneak towards the sounds of raucous party-goers, I realize that John has vanished, taking my iPhone with him. Preparing to film, I guess.
Bastard. If there's a single crack on that thing, I'm gonna kill him.
When I feel like I'm close enough to the action, I hide. Waiting for John's signal, whatever that may be.
Then the lights go out.
Stupid bastard. You can't film if there's no light. And we can't exactly rely on flash photography, now can we?
Some high pitched, giggly screams come from the room ahead. Ah yes, cheerleaders. Always with the dramatic flair.
Not all cheerleaders. There was this one girl named Tori who was awesome. But she moved away, and only the worst that the cheer squad has to offer get invited here.
Think of any high school movie you've ever seen. Now picture the main antagonist: the Blonde Barbie, leader of the cheer squad and girlfriend to the most popular guy.
Now you've got Julie.
See? Worst of the worst.
"Anyone got a Ouija board?" asks a loud, definitely drunk voice.
There are some nervous giggles, but overall, no answer.
I fiddle around in my suit until I find the little speaker in my pocket. It should be connected to my phone, which should be transmitting a signal, playing music for my frog ears.
Hell yeah. Works like a charm.
I can hear the room getting tenser. More nervous laughter.
"Who is that?"
"Turn it off, you assholes."
"Damn, which one of you thought this would be funny?"
And then, the voice of Julie, filled with false confidence.
"Don't worry guys, my older brother does shit like this every year at Halloween."
There's a relieved silence for a moment, but then I hear another girl speak up.
"Isn't Brayden away at college?"
My smile is invisible under my frog mask. Soon, the panic will set in.
Julie ignores her.
"Dammit, Bray, shut up! My friends are over!"
One step forward. Two steps forwards. A bit farther and they'll be able to see me. Not all of me. In the dark, they might not even be able to tell that I'm the Loveland Frog. But they'll be scared just the same.
Another step. And another.
"Holy shit, Jules," says a boy. "I see something moving over there."
"I'll deal with it, Seth. It's fine. I told you, it's just my brother.
"But Jasmine just said—"
"I said, I'll deal with it!" Julie snaps.
She walks right into me.
Her face tilts up towards me, and her eyes bug out as she observes me in horrified shock.
But then, something goes horribly wrong.
Her eyes keep bulging. They grow and stretch until they look like the eyes of a bug.
Or... the eyes of a frog.
A thick, pink tongue shoots out and back in.
"Jesus Christ, Brayden," she says, her voice taking on a horrendously unnatural lisp. what are you thinking? If they see you like this— If our secret gets out—"
"Julie?" asks the boy named Seth.
"It's fine," she says. "I was right. Don't worry, I'll tell him to piss off."
I can do nothing but stare.
"Hang on," she says, staring at me with an intensity I really don't like. "You're not Brayden."
Yeah, nope. I'm done. I'm out. Who gives a shit about scaring people now? I've seen way too much. I am out of here.
I do the safe thing.
But Julie's faster than I thought. Her little frog legs let her jump and catch up to me, easy.
"Just a costume, hmm?" she says, easily keeping pace with me. "Who's under that mask?"
I stop dead and start sprinting in the opposite direction. Okay. Outrunning her is not an option My little trick bought me a few seconds, at most. What do I do, what do I do...
A loud bang right next to my head makes me fall to the ground in shock.
Ow, dammit, my ears...
I wait for Julie to catch up to me.
I look up and squint into the darkness, trying to find the source of the noise.
"I'll be damned," I say. "John? That you?"
"It is indeed," John says, pulling me up. His hands are 100-percent-costume free. I take my costume off pretty fast, too. As far as I'm concerned, I never want to see another webbed hand in my life.
"What was that?" I ask.
"That," John says, "was the real Loveland Frog. And, with the night mode on your iPhone, we just got it on film."
"You knew?" I ask.
"Course I knew. I know everything. I'm the man, man."
"You sick bastard," I say.
Despite everything, I smile. He's a sick bastard, sure, but he just saved my life.
And I just saw a real life legend. I'd say that's a damn good night.
He'll have some questions to answer later, though.
Right now? I'm just happy to be alive.
"So next," John says. "Next, I'm thinking Bigfoot."
I just laugh and shake my head.
He thinks he's found something here? Footage of a Loveland Frog?
He's got no idea. He's only just found the tip of the iceburg.
But I'll play along.
hush little baby, don't say a word
your flesh will be eaten by a hungry bird.
and if that hungry bird won't eat
i will clean your bones with bleach.
and if those bones still aren't clean
i'll scrub at them until they're thin and lean
and if they still smell foul and rank
i'll dip them in mom's perfume
and if she won't let me take her scent,
i'll hang you up even before your smell is spent.
and if you fall down from my tree,
i'll find another baby next halloween.
“A headless chicken, that’s what I am today” (A Poem Inspired by an Overheard Quote)
across the cutting board
waiting to be plucked
clean of my feathers
and stripped of my meat
by hungry gnashing teeth.
still squawking out it's final song
a chicken without a head
but i still refuse to die
claws scrabbling at gloves hands and
in a futile attempt at escape,
unable to see
unable to think
but unable to stop.
a headless chicken,
that's what i am today.
of costumes and bones and tasty drinks
of colors of leaves evolving in sync.
of death and life in equal balance
some crops are growing, others vanish.
the season of tripping and scraping your knees
as you scramble for stranger's candies.
dressing up or dressing down
ghosts and goblins dancing with demons
blending in with humans for a night of fun
before they have to return
for another year.
when seasonal drinks start pouring
in clementine colors,
and coffee starts
painting your day.
when hot chocolate is only
a few steps away.
sallow cheeks and
her skin was made of darkness
and her heart was made of stone.
her clothing sewn from werewolf furs
hair dyed with demon blood.
she was the hollow queen
as wispy as the flesh of ghosts
like a full moon at midnight
she was the hollow queen
hallowed by the ghosts and fiends.
she was the hallow queen
created from our darkest dreams.
nightmares personified, come to life.
she walks the streets on halloween night
bits and bobs
she collected bits and bobs;
turned a discarded dream
into a story,
turned a lost screw
into a quest,
healing from broken bottles.
she gave the inanimate
because she had none
to claim as her own.
she wandered the streets
picking up odds and ends
head bobbing to some
that she'd fade away,
maybe hoping that
she'd give these lost objects purpose,
hoping that one day,
she'd find something
to give her purpose.
i was never
never went to church
unless my grandma
i never had to
bite down on
the straw that fed me
filled with self hate and
but i felt it.
when my grandma visited,
i could feel something wrong
with the air
or maybe it's just that
the act of
dressing up nicely and
who couldn't accept me.
once i had a friend
tell me i was going to hell.
i had other friends tell me
that i could be whatever i wanted
talk about it.
i brushed them off,
religion was made
afraid of their own
death never scared me,
even before i started
flirting with it.
i never knew the brutality
of coming out to a christian family
because my family was never really
i never had to decide
between god and my life.
i never had to decide
between heaven and hell
because i had never been brainwashed
into believing in all-or-nothing.
i never had to reevaluate my life.
i never had to force myself onto a new path.
i never had to change
because i was raised to believe in evolution.
i never had to argue with the science teacher about
the age of the universe.
i never had to rethink
because i was taught to think.
silence is a library filled with books
books as blank as soulless eyes.
silence is a library by some other name
the librarian raises his finger as he looks
if no one can speak, then nobody lies
but pursuit of truth in quiet is a losing game.
silence is fingers, clamping down
on crying babies' mouths and a teenager's frown.
silence is pain of the most acute kind
a deep, mournful stench like a rotten rind.
silence is a library, encouraging you to be still.
silence is only oppression, a line in a fire drill.
silence, you're talking too loud
words scream off the paper,
and that's not allowed.
silence, your head is not right
you'd be better off
if you were unable to write.
hands chopped off at the limb and mouth sewn shut
silence is a library but there are no books,
only knives waiting to cut.
only bindings of flesh and bone,
waiting for another word
to claim as their own.
There was once a dying planet, in dire need of a new place to continue on.
The inhabitants, humans, believed such a feat to be impossible, but like many impossible things, like electricity and life, it happened anyway.
Many people moved to this artificial galaxy, evolving into their own life forms and creating their own homes, their own lives, their own art. These worlds became whole other planets, separate from their Mother Earth.
However, many humans refused to leave Earth, and stayed on their dying planet in ferocious obstinacy. As humans on other worlds developed key traits to survive in these new places, the Earthbound humans refused to evolve.
And one day, a nuclear bomb tested at just the right spot caused the Earth to finally reach its limit. Buildings across the globe, collapsed. Radiation spread faster than wildfires in a desert. The earth had died. And still, humans, through resiliency or fear, refused to leave. They built underground bunkers, lined with lead to keep out the air. They developed a cure for radiation poisoning. They survived.
But those living on other worlds didn't know this. They told legends of Earth's end. They cautioned their children; "beware of your pride and your stubbornness, for this is what will follow."
Until one day, the end came for their galaxy as well. Earthquakes ruptured their artificial planets down to their core, and the population was forced to evacuate.
Everyone was loaded onto ships, destined for another planet. Anywhere but here; only prolonging the inevitable end. For one by one, each planet would die, unless something was done about it.
Little did they know, that answer would be found on a planet that everyone thought was barren and dead.
Mother Earth, the key to their destruction, also holds the key to their survival.
For stubbornness and resiliency come with strength and determination. With refusal to change comes the ability to fight.
And with willingness to leave, comes willingness to adapt to whatever may come next.
Only through fusing these two separate ideologies can their Worlds be saved.