Another month of summer has flown by. With the tail end of August comes this newest edition of Originals, which aptly focuses on the theme of transformation. In August at GateCrashers, we’ve celebrated a month of Anime. In choosing this theme, we thought of anime magic girls, like Sailor Moon, who transform from ordinary to extraordinary with the simple uttering of a phrase. Our writers did not have to be inspired by anime, but the transformation process whether mental or physical will be a major theme in all of the works featured this month. Happy reading and thank you for supporting original works!
Submitted by Luke
My body is a weapon
Got my cannon on my wrist
[My body is a cage
What does it mean to exist]
Wire veins, steel muscles
And the rest of a pistol’s anatomy
[What the fuck am I
This weird bug shit inside of me]
I’m here to conquer and rule
Cleanse the world of the weak
[I can’t even get out of my room
I am the literal definition of meek]
Kneel, kneel, kneel before
I will make you all bend
[Do I even have kneecaps?
My dad just wants me to end]
Shock and Sound and Scream
Destroy this puny city!
[Will I ever change back?
Will I ever hear Rock and Roll?]
The city is crushed
Beneath the boot of Megatron!
Submitted by: Gabrielle Cazeaux
Medium: Screen Play
TW: BLOOD, SELF-HARM, BODY HORROR.
INT. HOUSE CORRIDOR – NIGHTFALL
EXTREM. CLOSE: A door’s framework tainted with blood. Dry, UNCONTROLLABLE sobbings invade the silence of the atmosphere while drops of blood fall off-camera with a slow rhythm.
HIGH ANGLE: Taken over by DESPERATION and anger, the figure kneels down almost as if begging for something. The erratic breathing bloats into sudden SHARP screams. The contour of their back contrasts with the seemingly ample infrastructure.
CLOSE: Their face trembles with their whole body. Tears and snots flow through the skin and fall to the already humid carpet. Something else fell too. A substance as dark as the obscure outer space coming from the other side of the face.
A scream escapes from the lungs that retained it. A short, ACUTE scream that would’ve felt like a stab to the eardrum if anyone was there.
Quiet the sobs. Breath in.
Breath in. Breath out.
Like rusty screws from a barely functioning antique, the expression on their face starts to change. Their pores inhaled back all the emotions let free and closed in lockdown. Jaw, cheeks, brows, and nose accommodated into place, changing the saddened cry for help from a surrealist painting into a veil that tried to vanish all the pain.
TRACKING: The individual struggles to move like every one of their limbs was drained of all strength in a matter of minutes, but eventually achieves to get up. The camera mimics their movement as they STUMBLE their way onto the bathroom, crossing the door with the bloodstains. Something strange in the way they move stands out, a lifelessness and unwillingness from the body, like a puppet being controlled by a puppeteer.
MEDIUM: In front of the mirror, the wound is visible now. Just a small, open cut. However, there is something wrong. It’s not blood that covers it, but a DARK GREEN surface. They approach it with their fingers, rubbing the edges of the injury in curiosity and worry. Confusion is plastered in their face. Even with a gentle and frightened touch, barely in contact, a piece of skin peels off like a boiled egg.
The confusion dissipates to leave place for fear. One hand holding the sink with a grip growing in strength, the other in the air waiting for the brain to decide a course of action. Hand back to the wound, they keep peeling themself off. Viscous green further revealed. It was palpitating, moving inside, alive.
In an act of anguish, they fruitlessly attempt to reincorporate the fallen skin into their body, to an obvious failure as they continue to decay. The wound spreads through all sides when it reaches the eyebrow. The eye rolls back into their skull blinding them from one side. Screams increase, arms moving as the legs of a dying spider in total torment. Another piece falls. Then another. It reaches the eyelid and, as if the thing inside was rejecting a parasite, the eye falls into the sink in spiraling bounces until it meets the grate. No attempts to do anything else. Only screams now.
Submitted by: RJ Durante
Medium: Short Story
TW: Verbal Abuse
My mother is toxic. Wore black to my wedding as it was the “death of the relationship she had with her baby boy,” her words, obviously. She would send incendiary texts to my wife accusing her of taking away the thing she loved most in this world; me. This is the woman who kept me at arm’s length all my life, she considered it a precaution while I considered it a sentence. My father never seemed too interested as he left early and came home late, plenty of “mommy and me” time. She never raised her hands to me, but her screams pierced my soul worse than any wound. “This is how I love you,” she would say. “This is what moms do.” Now, are you ready for the real fucked up part? The one that pains me to type? I loved her back. Like a dog who would still wag their tail at the piece of shit owner who treated it like an annoying burden, I would always pick up that phone, answer that text, or open the door when the bell rang. My therapist joked that my mom must’ve planted something in my brain because she could pull my strings anyway she liked and I would happily dance along.
Every time I’d say the words “this is it,” “last straw,” or even, “I’m done,” they’d end up as empty promises on deaf ears. The year I spent following our wedding day, I would try and do the right thing. I might miss a phone call or not respond to a text, but like a drug, I would always go back for her to put the poison in my veins. Now, my wife is a saint, there is no question about it. She spent her life escaping a step-mother that made her question whether life was truly worth living. We found each other in college and would spend hours just talking and bonding over these women whose sole purpose was to destroy whatever spirit we had left. We moved in together and found comfort, our souls and hearts evenly matched. One weekend afternoon we sat to watch Toy Story and saw the broken and damaged toys in Sid’s room. As they were fixed and turned into something new, she laughed and looked at me: “That’s us, broken, but always fixable.”
The alarm to our front door had went off in the early hours of a September morning. Always the light sleeper, I was downstairs with a belt in my hand, as that was the only weapon I could find. This looming dark figure emerged until its shape was recognizable; my Mom. As I brushed past her to shut off the alarm, she already started in with the accusations. “I called you five times last night, FIVE. IT WAS A FUCKING EMERGENCY, AND YOU DARE NOT PICK UP!” My skin had tightened and my breath stifled, that voice went through me like a shotgun blast. She continued: “We are making flight reservations for next summer’s family trip and IF YOU’RE NOT TOO FUCKING BUSY, I need to know what dates!” She stared at my bewildered face, examining it, identifying the weakness, and attacking. “EVERYTHING I DO FOR YOU AND YOU CAN’T EVEN PICK UP THE PHONE….AND I EVEN CALLED THAT BITCH UPSTAIRS AND SHE DIDN’T ANSWER EITHER!” My wife had heard that part as her silhouette had crept down the landing, but had stiffened upon hearing the last bit, knowing it was better to let the lion roar that to jump in the pit. My face turned away from my mother to look at the angel that married me. I saw the tears roll down those blue-green eyes and my heart sank.
My mother took my hesitation as an opportunity to grab my face and turn it back towards here. “YOU CAN’T EVEN GIVE ME THE DECENCY TO LOOK ME IN THE FUCKING EYES. I DIDN’T REALIZE I RAISED A COWARD.” Those words clung to the walls like artwork, allowing every syllable to be replayed for anyone within earshot. I vividly remember my first kiss with Meg Smith in 5th grade and my first home run off of Grant Hendricks slider in 7th grade, but nothing will ever compare to the “FUCK YOU” that bellowed from the inner workings of my very existence. My mother was stunned to say the least, like a prize-winning boxer who just took an uppercut to the jaw. I doubled down, “FUCK YOU AND EVERYTHING YOU HAVE PUT ME THROUGH, YOU FUCKING PSYCHO!” The beast was speechless. ‘’NOW GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY HOUSE BEFORE I CALL THE COPS AND HAVE YOU BOOKED ON BREAKING AND ENTERING.” She trembled, looked to my wife for any assistance and found nothing but a devious a well-deserved smirk of hatred. My mother backed away slowly, the beast returning to its lair, and she felt the door handle pulling it open to leave. She looked back once more, and could only muster more than a whisper: “You disappointed your mother.” My mind collected and responded: “My mother is dead to me.” The door shut and warmth returned to the room.
My wife and I spent the rest of the early morning changing our numbers and passwords to any and all things that the demon could possibly lay her hands on. We agreed to reshape our family group, those who were in, and more importantly, those who were out. There were attempts by my mother to contact us in the following months, as we assumed there would be, but we were prepared. A long drawn out restraining order put the fear of God in my mother, though my wife believes she’s more apt to be a friend of Satan anyway. The new highlight of my life was the day that my son was born, and I looked into his new eyes and made promises for his new future. I promised to be the parent he deserved, the one who will love him, but also let him live any life he chooses. They say the day you become a parent is the “birth of a family,” but I consider it a “re-birth” for my wife and I, the day we broke a traumatic cycle.
My mother was toxic, but now she is nothing.
“Ballroom Bug Out”
Submitted by: Jose Cardenas
Medium: Short Story
I really don’t like what I’m turning into. On the inside, I mean.
On the outside, Travis Kaine was turning into an entomological badass. My skin is hard as diamond, so no more need for surgeries or needles. The microscopic hooks on my palms and the tips of my fingers have gotten long enough that climbing walls or any other surface has become a breeze. Finally, my eyes and ears are the sharpest they’ve ever been, so I can finally catch the jerks bad-mouthing me and give them a peek at what good old me is now capable of.
I got all of this and a small pair of antennae sprouting from my forehead, all while maintaining my human physique and (in my opinion) killer looks, at least until the acne flares up again. In terms of dating profiles, I’m the complete package.
It’s what’s happening inside the big noggin that’s causing me concern. A growing sense of apathy and disgust against my fellow man are the main symptoms. Additional ones include a minor case of depression and strong cravings for private moments of ennui and self-loathing.
I blame it on the new job, but, considering my boss and who got it for me, I choose to keep my mouth shut about that part.
“Will you keep your goddamned back straight,” asked a shrill voice right in my ear. I promptly replied with the tightening of my core and a backwards pull on my shoulders. Always better to listen to Auntie Kaine than give her a reason to get a real nark on.
I’m sure the prick walking toward us will give her plenty of reason anyway.
“Mr. President, it is wonderful to see you,” greeted Aunt April, already angling for extra funding. I stood to the side, waiting for acknowledgement.
“The pleasure, no, the honor is all mine, April,” the big man replied. “After N.A.I.L.’s bravery and willingness to cooperate in that Sigmundia situation, you and your top agent here deserve much more than a banquet.”
“Well, since you’ve already given him medals, I have a great idea for the future of our partnership,” she slyly grabbed the chief’s arm and walked him to the other side of the ballroom.
So, she won’t need me for the talk-down. Fine. Maybe I can actually enjoy myself at one of these things for once. Getting drunk seemed like a good first thing to try.
I walked up to the bar, trying to remember the kind of drinks Aunt April and Uncle Kafka usually like, Sangria being a common favorite. I made small talk with the tender and started to finally let my shoulders loose. Little by little, the thing on the inside that bothered me started to slip away. Just a few more minutes, and the small talk would have turned into flirting.
Good times with random company and the taste of bitter fruit juice didn’t last though as my antennae started to click.
I turn and look up to see tonight’s entertainment crashing through the ballroom’s skylight. Attendees shrieked and shielded themselves from the falling glass while the terrorists raised their electro-rifles and crappy machine guns. There were about ten of them in total (the alcohol kinda got to me) and they were all dressed in white helmets and body armor with sharp, black markings. The Ghost Knights. Cultish terrorists from Sigmundia. My previous assignment.
One of them shouted, “This is The Ghost’s final stand! This is for our brothers!” But before he could pull his trigger and take a first victim, a quick bullet collided with his electric-rifle’s kit, causing the thing to explode in his face.
Yes. That bullet came from me. With a special stinger pistol fully formed and aimed in my right hand, I pull the green tarantula mask over my face using the other and offer a quick quip. To alleviate the whole tone, of course, though the bartender ran too far away to really appreciate it.
“Caspar’s corpse must have paid a whole lot to get you boys this far,” I smugly joke. “Too bad I’m here.”
They responded with open fire.
I ran, jumped and flipped through the room, thankfully avoiding whatever they could dish. My insectoid sense enabled me to “predict” the sluggish movement of the bullets, but it wasn’t as helpful with something as unwieldy as lightning. You need extra training to avoid that, which I luckily have.
With every other flip, I managed to fire off a lucky sting-shot, either at the Ghost Knights or their weapons, with one hand and started tearing off my tuxedo with the other.
By the time the Knights had to reload, everything beneath the fancy monkey suit was revealed. Complementing my green mask are a lithe green jacket and long pants. At the jacket’s front they saw a collection of eight lines leading up to a yellow head. Perfect fashion for the perfect intelligence operative.
I could see their acceptance of the inevitable in their fidgets.
Agent Tarantula was back on the clock.
I flick my left wrist and my bracelet transforms into a second stinger pistol for some dual wielding action. I’d describe the whole turning and extending that happens during transformation, but I don’t bother. Aside from the avoidance of heavy bullet fire, this whole scene just feels so routing. Maybe it’s part of the whole mind-funk I’ve been talking about.
Anyway, with all the banquet guests successfully evacuated, I open fire with sting-shots. With dual fire, the Knights, their armor and their weapons are torn apart like paper. While the President and his guests would appreciate a complete massacre, I leave one alive for a quick, work-related chat.
“You know, this whole shindig is because of you guys,” I regale to the survivor as he moans in pain. “After that final stand at your Sigmundian stronghold, the states declared a big victory and made a party of your loss. No one cared about you anymore, so you all could have gone back to your lives before all the political turmoil.”
I lean towards the Ghost Knight, and look straight into his eyes.
“So, why come back?”
The terrorist coughed and sputtered only a few sentences.
“Came for you. When we returned to the stronghold, everyone… Our leader… All brothers… There was nothing left to bury. We are here to kill monster.”
The answer caught me off-guard. I remember how ugly that got, but all I could possibly say in response was simple and probably really horrifying.
I was just in a really bad mood.
My antennae sensed the steps of politicians and Secret Service agents. A small chat like this could be seen as fraternizing, and no Kaine wants that headache.
So, without a second thought, I raised my foot above the Knight’s head and stomped down hard.
All the politicians and guests graciously thanked me. Aunt April said “good job” since I just secured her extra funding for N.A.I.L.. The President himself praised me for my skills and effectiveness in the battle.
All these words fell on deaf ears. Through it all, I could only think about the actions this past month and shudder at what they reveal.
Deep down, I’m turning into a killer, and it’s getting harder to say that I hate it.
Submitted by: Ashley Durante
Out of practice
Out of time
The bells chime
The ticks move forward
I feel the crush of the undone
The weight of wasted potential
The art uncultivated
The words unspoken
Why is it so hard to make time?
To break time
To waste time
On my interests
On my sanity
The bells toll onward
I sit unsatisfied
I sit unknown
I sit and yet I become further unmoored
They say that storms pass
But the clouds refuse to break
It darkens the edges of the years as they roll by
I am changed
I have hemorrhaged time
I’ve spent it
I’ve bought grief with my future
Regretting the roads untaken
The woods not walked
The souls unmet
The odds unworthy of a bet
I forgot to talk
Forgot to laugh
Forgot to be
Who I am and who I could be?
Is it too late?
Too late to face the new blank page
To write a soliloquy worthy of my dreams?
Connect with the blank faces I long to know
And rekindle the fire that used to burn in my gut
To seek the winding paths
The dusty corners
The dark nights
And feel the weight of the soul I once was
The promise that hung from every choice
To know a certainty of self
And the bells reverberate with a roar.