Author Archive for Kaine Andrews

21
Jan
18

Riptide, Part 2

(Missed Part 1? Find it here!)

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Mother raised her left arm high, the birch switch quivering at the end and almost reaching to the ceiling. Rachel knew the moment where control would be lost was coming; when Mother was willing to swing from there, she had no intention of holding back. That meant that the ointments and splints would come next, and those were almost as bad as the beatings themselves.

Mother was not gentle in administering first aid. Rachel had often thought that Mother was somehow broken, incapable of gentleness; even in so thinking, though, she frequently corrected herself. Mother was perfectly capable of it… at least, around others.

When she was alone with her eldest daughter, however, all bets were off.

A single tear tracked down her rapidly swelling cheek, the cool saltiness of it burrowing into a fresh cut with a sting that was almost sweet; compared to her backside and her arms, the sting of the salt in a fresh cut was practically pleasant, a brief reprieve, something else to focus on.

At sight of that tear, Mother roared and started her swing. Rachel brought her arm – careful to use the left, as the right had already been thoroughly assaulted today – in front of her face, knowing it would earn her worse and not caring, only hoping today wasn’t the day she lost an eye.

Something louder than Mother’s hollering, something that seemed almost in answer to Rachel’s half-hearted prayer of a moment before, came from outside. A snarling sound, something snapping, then a high shriek. Celia, screaming.

Mother’s arm froze halfway down, her head jerking towards the window and thrusting at the air like an angry chicken’s. Her eyes narrowed and she glared down at her daughter for a moment, letting her tongue slick across her lips like a snake’s.

“I’ll finish with you later, whorelet.”

She spun on her heel, slamming the stout wooden door as hard as she could. Rachel knew better than to dive for it, try to stop her. Mother was fearsomely strong when she got like this, and the door was thick and heavy; she’d almost lost a finger trying that stunt before. A moment later she heard the hollow and somehow deadly thud of the bolt being shut, and the lighter click of the switch being laid beside the door.

Celia had stopped screaming, but Rachel knew that it wouldn’t stop Mother’s progress to go and check on her youngest. She watched her very carefully, after all. Wouldn’t want her to get the devil in her like Rachel had. Mother’s tread thumped down the stairwell, and only when the door at the base of the lighthouse gave it’s familiar shriek did Rachel remember to breathe.

She’d prayed, and something had answered. It wasn’t the first time. But it may have been the first time the thought that followed it had occurred to her:

Just what had she been praying to?

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21
Jan
18

Binding of Isaac Questions

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I love me some Binding of Isaac. I’ve loved it since I found the original on Steam years ago, I’ve waded through the expansions, Rebirth, the expansions for that, and have claimed the almighty Platinum trophy on PS4, alongside 100% completion for all expansions. Now I just need to do it on the other 2 save files…

Anyway. Obsession aside, Isaac raises some interesting questions. MatPat over on YouTube has his own answers, shown below, but it doesn’t address my biggest one (and is out of date, since it doesn’t take into the account Afterbirth+‘s final ending), but still worth watching. I’ll drop it here.

Now, all that being said – and the highly likely possibility that all of it is just in Isaac’s head – I still prefer to look at it as though it’s real… or at least an allegory for real events. I tend to believe Isaac actually did suffocate, that at least some of the events actually happened. The final ending seems to imply that as a possibility, with the photos, the missing posters, Isaac hiding in the toy chest… though I think it’s a case of dad left (or was driven away), Isaac blamed himself, Mom gets a little weird, and then maybe – just maybe – Isaac snaps. I think he legitimately did kill Mom.

Yeah. I’m messed up like that. But that’s not the main worry for me. It’s what happened to Guppy and Cricket/Max. Isaac’s beloved cat and dog. Now, if you look close in endings that show the toy chest, you can see Guppy’s paw hanging out of the box; it implies the corpse is in there (and thus that the cat, at least, is real and real dead.)

Until the final ending in Afterbirth+, I tended to assume that either Guppy died of natural causes (IE: neglect, since Isaac’s just a kid trapped in his room, and Mom is too busy going Jesus-Crazy to remember to feed the cat), or that Mom, in one of her sin-removing rampages, killed (and possibly dismembered) the cat. Ditto with Max/Cricket (given the decapitated head and body, both increasing Isaac’s tears and their strength.)

But after that last ending, and knowing how serial killers tend to start out, I have to wonder… did Isaac kill the pets before moving on to Mom and finally himself?

God help us all, I think he did.

What about you folks? What do you think is going on in The Binding of Isaac (any version, count any ending you like as the “canon” one.) Let us know your theories down below, or give a link to a post on the subject if you feel like it.

Meanwhile, I have a few more runs to do…

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21
Jan
18

Goodreads Review: Second Sight

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Second Sight

Second Sight by Judith Orloff

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

What to say about this one… hmm. Well, coming in I was expecting it to be a little flowery, a little off; looking at the cover should tell you that much, and I wasn’t disappointed. Still, I was expecting to hear at least a little about the struggles to merge the physical and metaphysical, to learn how Dr. Orloff had developed her psychic talents and how they would best be put to use in treating people, especially those with mental illness.

What I got instead was a lot of discussion about how psychic healers used to be a lot more respected, were way more important in the past, and how medicine needs to get together and start getting psychic. Actual practical applications or stories were rare, and the few that were in here were so bizarre, perfectly detailed and just so happen to fit exactly to the circumstances or apparent point that they felt falsified and forced.

The discussion about her family life, the mother who denied the psychic (despite every woman in the family having it, including dear ol’ mom) and the final acceptance of it alongside sharing all kinds of secret psychic stories from her childhood and before – that then leads into the predictable pages explaining the true power of the sacred feminine and how it runs in her family’s bloodline as a blessing and a message that must be carried – start really pushing the boundaries of belief and the credibility I was willing to extend to the work, alongside bloating the good Doctor’s sense of self-worth.

Further in, we’re treated to numerous discussions of her meditation sessions, including one in the woods where she explains in detail how leaning against a tree leads to the most explosive orgasm (her words, not mine) of her life. Then we finish up with a couple dozen more pages explaining that it’s very important to merge the psychic with the medical to truly help patients, without giving much in the way of specifics (other than a passage about a gynecologist she knows who has an intuitive healer in the office who helps diagnose patients before they’re even seen by the doc, and performs laying on of hands to patients who need it.)

All in all, it was a lot of floaty, hippy-dippy stuff and anecdotal evidence that doesn’t provide much in the way of evidence or serious discussion about the viability of psychic healing merged to an unbelievable biography that droned on for nearly 400 pages with little to no payoff. Don’t recommend it.

View all my reviews

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20
Jan
18

Pacing

Those of you who follow the blog are probably aware; “Layers” has been completed, and it’s on to the next bit of serial madness. I chose to do “Riptide,” though I couldn’t say why. It called to me. Blame it on my current moods.

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There is a crucial difference between the two, though. The pacing of the work. Not the story itself, exactly, but the way it’s written. “Layers” was spewed out at a rapid pace, almost writing itself. It was based on a dream I’ve had for over thirty years, and thus all the elements were already in place; I merely had to transcribe them.

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“Riptide” is a bit different. I know the broad strokes, and the story I want to tell. The ending is actually already written; in a rare moment of being scattershot, I actually wrote that before I even had the backstory. I’m now essentially writing the tale backwards, fast forwarding and rewinding between the ending I’ve written and the parts that show how Rachel gets there.

That means the work progresses a little slower. “Layers” may not have been the best project to start with in my forays into serialization; I worry I may have given unrealistic expectations on my output. But for those of you following, don’t be concerned. Just because you don’t see a new bit of “Riptide” every other day, it doesn’t mean it’s been abandoned. Just been worked on. I aim to release a new segment at least once and hopefully twice a week until the tale is told, but we’ll see how it goes.

Regardless, I hope you enjoy the story. Be well.

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19
Jan
18

Riptide

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Oh God, please. Let it stop.

Not for the first time, or even the thousandth, the thought streaked through Rachel’s mind. Every time, she thought it would be the last; that her endurance would simply give out and she would go with it, winking out like a candle. So long, see you later, alligator, don’t forget to write. By the time she was ten, she had begun to pray that it would happen; by the time her thirteenth birthday came around, she had begun to dread that it would not.

Mother stood over her, seeming to loom despite her small stature, bearing the look of a stone idol more than a being of flesh and blood. Her frayed print dress hung slack on her skeletal frame, the brown and yellow daffodil pattern dulled from constant washing and now stained a muddy brown with the blood of her daughter. Mother had gotten quite adept with the switch over the years, knowing just where to strike to inflict maximum pain but minimal physical damage, but in the fifteen years Rachel had been imprisoned in this attic room, a great deal of trial and error had been committed; even after such extensive experience, Mother’s zealotry still occasionally overruled that hard-won experience, leading to fresh stains, thick and red in contrast to the murk of the dress itself.

“You never learn, wicked child. I’ve always known you were slow – it’s the devil in you, I know it is – but still, you’d think at least some of your lessons would have taken root.”

Rachel wasn’t even certain what she’d done wrong. Had she placed a book in the wrong spot, missed a maroon droplet marring the floor from a previous punishment? Had her eyes flickered with a brief flash of hatred when Mother had come to loosen the shackles this morning or had Mother seen the dull rage in those otherwise placid grey eyes when she glanced out the window to see Celia, free and happy and playful, running along the beach below?

Any of those things, all of them, none of them, or something that existed only in Mother’s mind. That mind was unknowable to Rachel, and even at fifteen, she knew better than to probe too deeply. Mother’s madness might be catching.

Worse, Mother might sense that probing, and do some of her own. Rachel couldn’t have that. Mother might see, might know about her friend, and make her go away.

Rachel would rather die than let that happen. But some days, like today, the pain was so huge, dwarfing any concept of survival, that she felt that moment would come sooner rather than later.

(The story continues here!)

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19
Jan
18

Endings

It’s done; having spent much of the last month scribbling on it, “Layers” has reached its conclusion.

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While part of me – the part that isn’t currently holed up in the bathroom soaking in steam and peppermint oil, fighting to keep breathing, I suspect – is satisfied, proud of what I made, and riding a bit of euphoria that I managed to actually finish something for the first time in quite a while, I am not entirely sated.

I want more. There is no refractory period; just the urge to create something else. As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m not certain if that’s going to be starting work on “Maiax,” actually pushing forward with “Riptide” or the Department of Official Misinformation, or resurrecting Ex Inferis, but I am certain that there will be something else, that there must be something else.

To my (hopefully) loyal readers, I want to thank you. If you’ve enjoyed “Layers,” consider giving it a like, a share, or a rating over on Wattpad. It helps a lot. If it’s something you think you’d like on your Kindle, let me know; I’m currently debating on whether to reformat it and put it on Amazon, and your vote counts.

Even if you don’t, I still thank you. You give me the opportunity to put these words out there, you give me the small smidgen of determination that I have to carry on, and you give me an audience to tell these things to. I hope I’ve given you at least something in return.

Now back to breathing and scribbling.

KA Spiral no signature

19
Jan
18

Layers, Part 8

(Missed the beginning? It starts right here!)

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That should have ended it. I’d never found her in the dreams, after all. This was the resolution that I’d been pushed to since I was about the age she was. Or had been. Who knows what tense to use when you’re dealing with ghosts?

If she was a ghost. She was solid, having weight as I cradled her in one arm while running the steering wheel with the other. But it was just meat I was holding. Something she’d vacated long ago. A symbol and little else. But symbols had power, and by taking her battered body from the family and the burned, disfigured thing that had held her hostage for who knows how many decades, I’d given her the power to be free.

She wasn’t crying, anymore. I could hear her breathing, though. Ragged and labored at first, then smoothing out to the sound of a sleeping child being broadcast through a baby monitor. In that breathing she whispered to me; I heard her thanking me, and she told me her name.

“Deborah,” the corpse in my arms whispered. “Deborah Daphne King.”

The name gave me a terrible chill. I’d had a sister… or was supposed to have one, at least. But she hadn’t made it out of the hospital. Only lasted three days. Birth defects, something to do with the lungs; I don’t know if I just didn’t remember, or had never been fully told. But she’d been a Deborah, too.

That chill led to a shudder, and that led to the car drifting out of the thin lane. At the same time, a steep curve came into view. A terrible calm fell over me, a sense of resignation and deja vu that told me all I needed to know.

It didn’t matter how things had changed. One thing was going to stay the same. I tried to pull the car straight again, to force it into the turn. I pumped the brake. Neither had any effect, as the car continued to drift, the guardrail growing larger.

I looked down at her, the mangled thing that I’d been looking for my whole life, the thing that had driven me past the point of logic, of sanity. The thing that was going to kill me.

There was no body. No Deborah. Just a filthy, matted rag that might have been a towel at some point. Tears began running down my cheeks, and a strangled sob escaped my lips.

“You always knew,” a familiar voice said from the passenger seat. I drew my eyes up.

The thing from the house was sitting there, trying to smile at me. One arm was dangling between its upraised knees, the other stretched towards me, clenching the steering wheel and urging the car to the left, towards the rail.

I could hear it clearly now. I should have noticed it when it stated I’d finally come. But have you ever noticed that your voice sounds different, somehow alien when you hear it on a recording or an echo?

The thing spoke in my voice. It had always been me. Some lost fragment of myself, calling out somehow through the years, begging me to claim the treasure that it had given its life for, somehow blind to the fact it was no treasure but a wad of broken repressed memories and carefully fabricated lies.

“We’ll be together, now.”

The car hit the rail. I let go of the wheel as the vehicle plowed through with the shriek of steel and the roar of the engine as it surged, no longer powering wheels on asphalt but spinning in thin air.

“Forever,” I whispered to myself, hearing it both in my head as my voice always sounded, and in my ears as the thing had always spoken. Whether I meant myself and I, myself and Deborah, or all three of us together, I don’t know.

The car flipped once, cracking my skull against the roof and sending a freshet of blood into my eyes. I hadn’t been wearing my seatbelt. There was no pain. The thing in the passenger seat reached out one claw, stroking the wound.

Another flip jarred me back into the seat and drove me forward. I felt my rib cage give way, my lungs collapse, as the wheel plunged into my chest. The thing put its finger to its mouth.

“Shhhh,” it said. “It’ll all be over soon.”

The car hit the bottom of the ravine below, doing another backflip and landing on the roof. The windshield, designed before safety glass had become the standard, shattered. Thick shards embedded themselves in my face, my chest, my arms. Everything went dark as my eyes were popped like ripe grapes. I felt fluids from the emptied sockets leaking down my face, mingling with the tears and blood.

The roof of the car had been punctured by a rock formation, dragging across it as the car burned the last of its momentum. It dug into my back as well, leaving a ragged gash that left the flesh hanging to either side like broken wings.

There was a perfect stillness to the world, then. A moment of absolute silence and clarity. No birds sang, no bugs hummed. My breathing had stopped, and the thing in the passenger seat had apparently lost its taste for chatter.

That silence was broken by a soft, unimportant sound. “Foomp,” it sounded like to me. But I knew what came next, knew it wasn’t unimportant.

Something had cracked the gas tank. The metal body of the car dragging across the gravel and rocks had provided the spark. Smoke and the smell of scorched earth came first, then pain sank in as the smell of a roasted pig added to it.

I couldn’t vomit, no matter how much I wanted to. Couldn’t hold my breath, even though it was coming only in shallow rasps. I just had to wait, to endure, as I burned alive.

But again, one fresh change. I was spared having to endure it all the way through, didn’t have to wait as I crisped, blackened, and finally died trying to scream. The thing laid hold of me, was dragging me out. Through the undercarriage, back up the hill, passing through the guardrail, which seemed to stitch itself back together as we passed, my eyesight somehow returned.

Back up the hill, a movie running backward. I passed the car going the other direction, then my other self pursuing it. Back to the house, where we were pulled through the hole in the front that it/me had created giving chase. Like the guardrail, it pulled itself back together like a flower closing its petals against the night. I saw the television I’d knocked over right itself, saw the doors I’d opened on the way in slam shut, the blanket replace itself on the bed and straighten out perfectly. I heard a thud and knew the dryer had slammed shut again, and a moment later the rhythmic thumping of the thing in the dryer started again. Back into the shower stall, where I stood still and watched as the curtain pulled shut in front of me.

The house was as it had been, as it was supposed to be. It looked like a quaint little cabin, but underneath it was just a trap, a honeypot laid out just for me. Just like underneath the scars and claws and demon-like appearance, my tormentor had always been myself.

I was alone. I had become him, and he was me again. Now we/I would wait.

Perhaps not completely alone, though. Somewhere in the house, I heard the crying start again. Deborah was with me like she always had been.

I waited. I had time. All the time in the world.

I knew I’d come along. Eventually.

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