If you missed any of the previous posts, sections, or are wondering what the heck this is, click here to be taken to the intro post, which also has links to all the other posts. 🙂
Her mother’s words engulfed Laura wholly—physically, painfully; the noxious echo of the threat crashing and beating against Laura’s eardrums with maddening force, causing her legs to shake and her knees to buckle. She wasn’t going to make it. She was so close to safety and Granny, and she wasn’t going to make it.
Just as Laura began sinking to her knees in pure agony, a shining silver-white blur raced past her bringing with it a trail of rainbow translucence, the vapor rising off the iridescent prism smelling of… Was that…? Bacon?
Laura spun around just in time to witness her mother, or rather the nightmarish clown with yellowed, razor-sharp teeth that her mother had taken the form of being gored straight through its chest by the unicorn, gray-black ooze spurting and pouring around the slick and many-colored horn that could be seen spearing through the creature’s back as it writhed and wailed its way to death’s door. A sadistic and feral gleam lit the unicorn’s eyes as it savagely dug at the earth with one hoof before it divested itself of Laura’s mother by flinging her lifeless body into the trees, clearly feeling vindicated and proud of itself for a job well done.
Feeling the impact of her ass hitting the hard ground in a heavy thud, Laura pulled her knees to her chest and began rocking herself, silent tears cascading down her cheeks. This was too much. She could handle her beloved pet transforming into a sexy, hot hunk of a warrior that made her salivate and pant shamelessly like the dog he once was, and she’d endured being jostled about and battered by gargantuan boobs that eventually would only be good for making the world’s biggest s’more. She’d survived a chupacabra attack and another heart stopping and truly terrifying encounter with much-feared, eight-legged evildoers as well, in addition to learning that her one true love is a traitor set on her destruction. She’d gotten past being transfixed after doing some disturbing, awkward, and more than a little redundant to get the point across staring when she came face-to-face with the walking dead, although his head to uh…crotch sparkling—the result of partying possibly buck-ass naked in the French Quarter—did sort of make it hard for her to take him seriously, and she could even take having a narrow escape from plummeting to her death after falling off a benevolent dragon while being chased by flying monkeys; the mental scars from having actual shit thrown at her wouldn’t soon fade, though, regardless of whether she’d survived the feces assault. But this? Discovering that unicorns are real for one thing, but that they’re also violent, deadly fuckers that really do fart rainbows but the odor is that of bacon, and worst of all, that her very own mother who gave her the precious gift of life and was supposed to love her unconditionally was, in truth, a killer clown with horrendous dental hygiene?!
As Laura rocked to and fro, utterly sobbing and on the brink of truly becoming a bedlamite, she felt a presence at her side and the comfort of a hand tenderly rubbing her back. Then there was a gentle pressure at her temple from a pair of soft, warm, familiar lips as they kissed her sweetly.
“Happy birthday, Laura,” David whispered, “Coffee is ready and I made breakfast.”
Bleary-eyed, confused, and a bit leery of having David so close, Laura picked her face up off the keyboard of her computer from where it had landed when she fell asleep in the wee hours of the morning. She wiped the drool from where it was trailing from the corner of her mouth to her chin; looking at her computer screen, the words a glowing reminder of the hours she’d spent the night before tirelessly writing a review of the last book she’d read.
“I know I said I’d take some time to think it through, but after the dream I had, a nightmare really, I don’t need to think about it anymore. I’m gonna quit blogging,” Laura stated firmly, shuddering at the memory of seeing her monstrous mother fully impaled on the horn of a vicious and seething unicorn.
“Are you sure? You’ve worked so har—”
“I am one hundred percent sure,” she interrupted, “Blogging about what I read is not only exhausting, but I think reading as much as I do for it is also starting to mess with my mental state. Honestly, I had flying monkeys flinging real shit at me, David, and you were a freaking werewolf hell bent on killing me with an exploding picnic basket last night. Plus, I spend way too much time reading as it is and books aren’t cheap, you know? I mean unicorns might be pretty and all, but they’re mean, David, and I can’t afford the therapy it’s gonna take to cope with that knowledge because I don’t get paid for blogging about what some of these whack-job authors dream up in their sick and twisted heads!”
David’s eyebrows rose in surprised response to her tirade, which closely resembled something like word vomit. Then handing Laura a cup of coffee and softly chuckling at her, he nodded and said, “Well okey dokey then. But uh…you know if I were gonna try to kill you I wouldn’t put a pipe bomb in a picnic basket, right? I’d just put Iocane powder in your coffee.”
Great. Another Princess Bride reference that’s gonna make me blush every time Prince wags his damned tail in my general direction. Laura thought to herself in dismay.
“Not funny!” She shot at David’s back as he winked over his shoulder and continued his way to the kitchen.
Laura straightened in her chair, desperately trying to ignore Prince lying at her feet, licking himself. She was determined and ready to push the delete key that would send her unpublished review into the void of ether nothingness when the doorbell pealed.
“Let the birthday festivities begin!” David exclaimed, returning from the door carrying a package wrapped in plain brown paper.
“Who’s it from?” Laura enquired, her finger hovering over the delete key.
“Dunno. There’s no return address on it…”
Intrigued, Laura took the bundle and tore into the wrapping to expose a hooded red cape that had clearly seen better days, the woolen cloth of the hood torn in one corner, the stitching of the seams fraying and unraveling…the hem muddied.
A frightened gasp escaped Laura’s mouth and dropping the cape, she scrambled back in her chair as far as it would let her until she fell right out of it and onto the floor. This can’t be happening, Laura thought to herself in sheer terror. Then she noticed the faded piece of parchment that had floated to the floor with the freaking cape from hell. It was the newspaper the chupacabra had bled the words from in her dream. The one that spoke of something so important, the despair she felt when the message was lost to her was crippling. She took it in shaking hands and read the following:
To have the ability to express a thought, let it flourish and grow, ultimately giving it life through the telling of a story in a book has been said to be a gift. A gift only to be given by those with enormous imagination and talent to harness and command the great force that is the power of the written word. As such, it takes a special breed of person to conjure and convey such things with eloquence…to successfully elicit the vast and varied spectrum of human emotion.
All of that may be true, as it is not an easy task and takes a certain amount of bravery to bare oneself to strangers, to give someone you may very well never lay eyes on or personally speak a word to full and intimate access to your thoughts; to give them your heart…your soul.
But oh, to read…
To read is to have true courage. To give yourself up to the whim of another and willingly be transported to worlds unknown, to traverse without a map the earth past and future, to journey to far off worlds where nothing is what it seems and anything is possible. To allow yourself to be panic stricken and overwhelmed by the chaos and pandemonium within another’s mind, to have your heart wrenched and gutted, to have every ounce of your mettle tried and tested as you face every fear imaginable, and to be held hostage in death’s grip while you fervently pray for saving grace to rescue you. To meet new friends who quickly become best friends, to be personally invested in their lives as if their fate was yours, making the stabbing sharp pain of their betrayal even more excruciating. To freely offer yourself up and experience deep sorrow and unadulterated joy, to shed real tears unabashed…to feel your heart flutter and stop with love’s first kiss…and its last.
To read is to live bravely indeed, but then to share with others your experience, the excitement or hilarity that left you breathless and the sometimes stomach churning and even nauseating twists and turns of emotion you endured in your adventure, in turn taking off the armor worn in reading and thus baring your own humanity to the unknown masses for little to no recompense…well, that is the meaning of selflessness and it is the true gift. It’s a gift without price given to other readers and writers alike, and for having the guts and generosity of spirit to do that, Laura, we thank you and wish you the best and happiest of birthdays in all the lands, near and far, real and imagined.
With undying gratitude and love,
Your friends—old and new, fictional and non, and those unmet who will be just as blessed to know you as we are.
With tears spilling over the brim of her eyes, Laura sniffled and grabbed up the cape as she rose from the floor. Barely sparing a glance at her computer screen, she clicked publish and posted the review she’d almost sent into oblivion. Then clutching the cape and grabbing her purse, she kissed a concerned and very confused David once quickly before heading to the door.
“Wait! Where are you going?!” He asked as Laura paused in front of the opened door.
“To the library to find and read a new book to review on my blog,” she answered and hastily pulled her keys out from her purse.
“But… Didn’t you just say you were quitting?”
“Well, I might not get paid for doing it and I might really need therapy someday because of it, because reading and book blogging is serious business and it’s totally not for the faint of heart either, but it needs to be done and really, quitting is for pussies, David.”
Baffled and scratching at his head, David muttered, “Did my wife really just say quitting is for pussies?” Then he shook himself and walked over to Laura to kiss her properly before she bolted out the door in her hurry to leave. Inwardly grinning to himself at the shiver he felt in his wife’s body as his tongue left her heated mouth and his made one last, lingering pass over her now throbbing lips, David took one hand from behind Laura’s head to run the backs of his fingers tenderly down her cheek. Then placing a teasing kiss on the tip of her nose he asked, “Are you sure that’s how you want to spend your birthday? Alone in a library with your nose stuck in some book?”
Feeling the waves of warmth that had spread down from her stomach to her thighs begin to ebb, Laura sighed, but matching the playful devilry in David’s eyes with her words, she hugged her wonderfully supportive and loving husband to her and confidently replied, “Yeah, I’m sure. Besides, I won’t be alone. I’m meeting some friends there…”
Jenn Cooksey is a Southern California girl born and bred, however she’s no longer a resident of heaven on earth, but instead she currently resides in the 7th Ring of Hell with her husband, their three daughters, and a goodly number of pets. Aside from her husband, one cat, and three out of five fish, everyone living under the Cooksey’s roof is female. She’s sure her husband will not only be awarded sainthood when he kicks the bucket, but that Jesus will welcome him into heaven with a beer and a congratulatory high-five. Jenn is also of the belief that Bacon should be capitalized and that just being yourself is the best way to go. That is, unless you can be Batman. Always be Batman.