I found myself chasing the secrets behind kittens on the penultimate day of Samhain. It occurred to me then that I could have taken more time to prepare myself. I suppose, though, there’s only so much advance work you can undertake in the face of a world-devouring filth-fog without thought or corporeal substance that crushes the souls of helpless furballs.
I didn’t see any difference between everyday life – well, everynight life – in suburban Kingsmouth-at-large and the happenings around town during the holiday season. I complied with a request to return risen war veterans to their graves. It struck me as a rather somber, somewhat macabre way to spend time on a day of remembrance. It was also quite in character. That’s why I’m here: I’m seduced by the allure of an imagined world in which nothing is ever right and that which you know is forever eclipsed by that which you do not.
I had last been seen wandering among the living machinery of Edgar’s scrapyard looking for the “smurfs” I was supposed to kill in an attempt to beat his dogs’ records for Most Things Viciously Murdered. Instead, I found Tango ready to lead me by the nose into the airport hangar-warehouse inhabited by the resident pistol-bearing stalwart Ellis Hill – “shotgun” having already been called by Norma Creed – wherein I received two phone calls: one from a devil I knew, and one from a devil I didn’t. It is the former who set into motion the events of this night’s tale.
The demoness I knew was Madame Rogêt whose tacky ambiance had built a little birdhouse in my soul the first time I encountered it. The rather unflattering, hideously washed-out skin wrapped around her skull made it difficult to tell whether she was supposed to be beautiful or not. Had she coupled with any satyrs and/or nymphs as is the custom one night per year around this time? I had no idea. I was likewise perplexed by the mysterious messages about cats and how they had died that peppered her rambling cell phone soliloquy; when I met her in person, Officer Andy seemed rather uncomfortable about the whole thing. I figured it must be a big deal if the local superhero was visibly squeamish about feline eyes being scooped out of their sockets. Just another day in flavor country if you ask me.
I was tasked with heading off to this place and that. I violated the first rule of Secret World Club by going to places where they talk about Secret World Club in order to expedite the process of completing at least one Samhain-related mission before it disappeared for another year or longer. I wound up visiting a mansion on a part of Solomon Island I hadn’t yet been to, which isn’t saying terribly much. My previous foray into those parts had involved running past a busload of reanimated crash victims on my way out to a trailer park in the middle of nowhere and handing over an unfamiliar currency to a stranger at a flea market for a sword I didn’t know how to use.
After flailing around with it for long enough – it resembled a spiked totem much more than it did a sword – I became proficient in its use and headed to an eerie mansion with open windows, open doors, strange sounds, and a positively unlived-in atmosphere that was abruptly strangled when I stumbled upon Eleanor Franklin, the presumed sole inhabitant of this human-sized, multi-story hobbit hole. I declined her muted invitation to conversation and continued upstairs where I found what I had been looking for – not by deciphering clues, but by cheating in exactly the same way that had gotten me a motherly ruler-slap over the front of my hands more than once.
I made my way outside to the back of the mansion where the bullfrogs were out in full force and espied my mission’s destination point behind the nocturnally placid, swampy waters of an extended fountain: a cat-ringed crypt. Upon entering, I stood transfixed in the antechamber for a time and thought to myself that I could live in the exquisite shadows cast by the light through the stained-glass window for an eternity. I’m the kind of weirdo who would probably fit right in with whatever else lived down there, anyways.
It turns out I didn’t. I was attacked on my way down the stairs by an opponent whose psychosis was too psychotic for his own good and he ended up running off after a few rounds of totem-sword clobberings. The apparition I found in the basement was mute; I examined the borderline incomprehensibly abstract mythological treatises scattered about the room and transmitted my report back to my erstwhile puppet-string handlers. Their reply was as cryptic as the texts were, yet strangely comforting:
We are most ourselves when we wear costumes. It removes the pressure of expectation, frees us to be who we really are.
I didn’t feel as though I had really solved any mysteries; I had discovered and relayed the key for doing so. I’m sure the Dragon would tell me that what I had done would generate a new seed within the fractal complexities of chaos theory and set in motion events that would eventually lead to the desired outcome – bearing in mind that not solving the mystery was within the range of possibilities for the desired outcome. If I were a bit more cynical and perhaps a bit more bothered by the existence of incomplete information, I’d call that sort of thing Covering Your Ass.
I had chosen the Dragon – excuse me: the Dragon had chosen me in their capacity as the not-so-secret society with which I was and continue to be the least incompatible. I was a rather ethereal child who had been sent back to the country of her parents’ birth to master their native language to their satisfaction. I had no interest in words or numbers and big eyes for one of the Korean exchange students I met on a summer’s day. It should be no surprise that upon the conclusion of his Chinese studies I decided to abscond with him to Seoul where the watchful agents of the Dragon plucked me up from my boyfriend’s apartment while he was away at night classes.
So here I am back on the East Coast in the middle of a town that doesn’t exactly welcome newcomers. After I had arrived, the first soul I saw was an eight-year old at the makeshift police station who asked me, “Did someone drive you to the zombie apocalypse?” Yes, they did. I don’t expect you to understand that it’s a nice escape from the obscenities of everyday, normal life. I’m sure you’d much rather be driving down the road on the way to Auntie Norma’s house with your non-dead parents in a car that has not been sardine-can-opened by zombies on a nice, sunny day in lovely, flowery Kingsmouth.
As for me, I find that death and uncertainty have a certain charm to them, provided the whole shebang is a figment of someone’s twisted imagination. The great fun is in pretending that it’s not.