By Mike Lera
The following is an excerpt from 'Imaginist,' a story by Mike Lera (formerly Michael Lizarraga) published in "Dark and Evil" (ACA Books). It has recently been optioned as a short film. View the trailer at "Trailers."
Synopsis: Hansen Park. A downtown public outlet for bike riders, pot heads, skaters, vagrants, joggers, pushers, and eclectic side-walk "entertainers" whose crude talents range from dancing, rapping, juggling and miming for money. But Hansen Park has a new occupant - a mysterious shape and face that only a few people have seen.
And unfortunately for Shelley Holdridge, the few that have seen this face did not live long enough to warn her, and thus turning a late night jog into a hellish sprint from sanity...
The dark figure stood twenty feet before Shelley, embedded within tree shadows, silhouetted against the yellowish lamplight.
A man-figure, it seemed, the shaded outline replicating a shadow actor, his stature thin and lanky, his appearance shrouded by the gloom, and all Shelley could see was a faint pale image of his bright clothing – a costume or outfit – consisting of a tight, long sleeve T-shirt. Skin-tight pants.
His face was also opaque within the shadows with a kind of moon-like haze. Eyes gleaming, beady, abnormally shaped, like cat eyes, or distant light houses.
She attempted to move. Turn around, get away. But her entire body simply stood there, refusing to say 'Yes ma'am' and carry out its captain's orders. She was a mannequin with pulse, staring at the stone-still man, trying with all her strength to move, but unable. Cluless as to why. The feeling was similar to sleep paralysis – waking up with a temporary inability to move. But it was something else. Another feeling, stemming from her brain, the cerebellum. Intensely triggering her intrigue and fascination. The allure felt when seeing a car crash or a fight and unable to look away. Her pleasure sensors, the nucleus accumbens, were also stimulated. A warm glow reminiscent to sitting in a soothing Jacuzzi or bubble bath, and sooo NOT wanting to leave.
Slowly and steadily, the dark figure raised both his gloved hands slightly before him, waist-level, the way a weight lifter holds a barbell for bicep curls – elbows bent, shoulder width apart. He clutched his left hand into a fist, knuckles upward like he was starting a motorcycle. The other hand was palmed up, partly opened, as if resting something in it, like a “stick” or “bat” - and yet it was really nothing. Nothing but the vacant air before him.
All the while, Shelley struggled to move her limbs, her face drenched with perspiration. Like moving through quicksand, or running for dear life during a nightmare, and yet being stuck.
His eyes on Shelley, his body remaining still, the man continued holding the virtual “stick” horizontally across his waist, the way a musician holds his guitar or a soldier harnesses his rifle. Then, with his right hand, he began touch/feeling another invisible device at the end of the stick, an object which hung from it like a flag off a horizontal pole. Gently, with precision and without sound, he glided his arched fingers over virtual curvatures, moved the hand steadily over the lengths and corners, indicating a large triangular, bell-shaped object with a rocker/smiley-shaped base.
Shelley, still attempting to move, was finally conscious of what was being created, or what was being pretended to be created, and it was THEN the man moved forward, placing his right hand back onto the invisible "handle."
"Can't... be..." muttered Shelley.
The man kept his “object” clutched at his waist as he approached. He stepped out of the shadows, in full light.
His face was painted turquoise/blue, lips dark turquoise, matching gloves that reached half his forearms. He was without emotion, cold, a sentinel or toy soldier, speechless. A ghastly laceration lay across his upper neck area. His left eye was abnormally huge, beastly, as if the socket harnessed a small baseball, shone bright yellow with a heavy vertical gash just above the brow. His right eye was squinted and partially opened, its color bright apple red. His black hair looked as though cut with a sugar bowl on top, bangs perfectly horizontal across the forehead. He was a twisted blend of KISS, Moe Howard, and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.
More droplets of sweat ran down Shelley's neck as she conjured every ounce of energy to move, an intensity compared to an amateur weightlifter bench pressing his/her own body weight.
"Can't...be," uttered Shelley, gazing upon the invisible instrument in the man's hands.
Rationally, logically, she was quite aware that this device was - invisible, transcendent, pretend - and yet, for some spaced out/far fetched/ludicrous reason sprouting from those dark regions of her brain that only neuropathology could untangle, she was TOTALLY convinced it was...not pretend.
Standing before the wailing Shelley, the painted-face man placed his right hand at the end of the invisible “handle” with the other hand, raised both arms, and held up his virtual weapon like a lumber jack about to work wood.
Then a thought bolted through Shelley's mind. A flash of an idea.
She tried, with all her strength, to close her eyes. But her lids wouldn't even budge, and she found herself being involuntarily forced to stare - by something supernatural - at the man's completion of his little "act."
And then he brought down the virtual instrument, down on Shelley's screaming head.
Nothing happened to her head; it remained perfectly en tact, not splitting open like she anticipated.
But inside her head. Inside her head was a different matter. Inside that region of her brain called the cerebral cortex, specifically, the primary somatosensory that this "man" was able to metaphysically control and manipulate. Unleashing an individual's capacity to go beyond their use of 10 percent of their brain, with all of the brain's infinite power, to believe that whatever he does or performs is REAL.
Shelley lay there in the cool evening grass, statue still, BLOOD pouring out her eyes, nose, mouth, ears.
Gasping her last, gaping at this phantasm, once known throughout Hansen Park as "Dude the Mime..."
For a complete version of Imaginist, you may purchase "Dark and Evil" (titled "Imagician"), a horror anthology from ACA Books. https://www.amazon.com/Dark-Evil-Druscilla-Morgan-ebook/dp/B06WWN7MXM
Also feel free to toss a comment (or question or concern or derogatory remark) on my blog page: LizarragasBogBlog.BlogSpot.com.