Notes on the weird – Haruki Murakami

Pain is inevitable.  Suffering is optional

Haruki Murakami

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Notes on the weird – Harlan Ellison

I am anti-entropy.  My work is foursquare for chaos.  I spend my life personally, and my work professionally, keeping the soup boiling…My stories go out of here to raise hell.  From time to time some denigrator or critic with umbrage will say of my work, ‘he only wrote that to shock’.  I smile and nod.  ‘Precisely’.

Harlan Ellison

Cold companion

“Sometimes it is an animal,” she says one night. “Sometimes I imagine it as a cat. An old black cat caught in the corner of the room or under the bed. Something sad and trapped and calling out to us. That’s what I’m thinking about lately when I’m listening to it.”

“Yes,” he says. “It’s small and its helpless. It’s reaching out to us. It’s asking for something, but we don’t know what it wants. We don’t understand. How can we help it if we don’t know what it needs?”

“But not always. Sometimes,” she says “it has no shape at all. It is a shadow. Or something darker than a shadow. It’s on all sides of us. It’s around us and inside us. It’s a part of us, already. Do you understand? Sometimes I feel like it’s too late. It’s inside us already and there’s nothing we can do anymore.”

“I don’t know that it means us any harm, though,” he says, sitting up in bed and turning towards her. “Do you? I mean, I never feel threatened. I don’t ever remember thinking it was actually going to hurt me. Sometimes I don’t think I even really feel afraid of it, not properly. I feel horror. And dread. And sadness, as though there is something deeply horrible happening and I can’t escape it. I feel all of that, but I never feel as if I’m going to come to any actual harm. Does that make sense?”

“It’s not quite like that for me.” The words come quickly and quietly, almost involuntarily. She’s been listening carefully, but with her eyes turned down. For some reason she doesn’t seem to want to look at him directly. There is a long pause in which neither of them says anything.

“How is it for you?” He says eventually.

“It doesn’t want to hurt me, but it’s going to.” She says. “It is some dark, horrible thing waiting there for me in the night. Every time I hear it I wonder if this is the time, is this the time it’s going to come for me. I can’t do anything to stop it and it’s always there, no matter what I do. I don’t know how and I don’t know when, but one day it is going to hurt me. That’s what I feel when I hear it. That’s what I’m thinking about.”

(This is a short excerpt taken from a longer story.  To read the full version for free, please visit us here.  Thanks for reading.)

‘The old maid and other stories’ is Chapbook number two of four volumes forthcoming from the Olgada Press during 2015.

Available to read for free now.

The old maid

(This is a short excerpt taken from a longer story.  To read the full version for free, please visit us here.  Thanks for reading.)

Staring out at this landscape, the girls hesitate for a moment. Only the boy knows where they’re going and he pulls them along with him. He grew up in these parts, he tells them, has spent his life, in fact, exploring all the hidden corners of this coastline. He’s taking them to a bay just a few miles south of here where, he says, “the water is warm and safe for swimming in. The sun gets trapped in there and stays all day and, best of all, no one else ever goes there. It’s a secret place. Hardly anyone but me even knows its there.”

This is an exaggeration, of course. Everyone in the nearby towns knows about Old Meiga Bay, but it is true that few ever visit it. Too far for the families and their cars and pushchairs, too far for the dog walkers to venture, only the occasional hiker or naturalist comes this way, and on days as hot as this even they are few and far between.

As for the boy himself, something about his manner makes you wonder how often even he has really been out so far along the coast. How many pretty, young girls has he brought out this way to strut alongside and impress? Not too many you would wager, because for all his certainty, for all his youthful arrogance, there’s a nervousness about him that does not sit well with the confidence of his words. He’s too excited, somehow. Or rather, is trying too obviously hard to disguise how excited he is. There’s nothing sinister about this, just a naivety he’s anxious not to expose. In some small way, perhaps, he’s taking advantage of these two girls. He’s enjoying the fact that they don’t know him too well yet. He’s making himself up as he goes along. His name is John.

"Whatever makes you think I want to talk to you at all?"

‘The old maid and other stories’ is Chapbook number two of four volumes forthcoming from the Olgada Press during 2015.

Available to read for free now.