The Ode

Ode to the Writer

By Tom Foster


We are the lords and ladies of creation, yet we are still just players.
In the beginning we are as in the end.
We do not aspire, we simply do.
There is the dream, tempered by the reality, and given form by the thought.
By our thought, by our dreams, and by the reality we impose.
It’s a madness of the sort that only poets and writers can truly understand, and even among those only a few can comprehend.
Comprehension, that is a truly frightening thing.
We play with words, we are those that can immortalize, and those that can do what must be said and say what must be done.
It is confusion, this comprehension, and in the midst of it all, it is the single word that carries power, the one among all that is ever elusive, ever there, always waiting for us to return to, to remind us what it is that drives us, what keeps the fountain flowing.
Every last soul that has ever put ink to paper, ever put finger to key, every vague idea that swirls inward from the maelstrom we call the world, the universe, and everything in between and without.
For everything that could come, for everything that has and will come, we are there. We are the ones that do not deny the voice that tells us, “this must come to pass”, or “this must be remembered”.
It is who we are, what we do, and through everything, it is the lifeblood of those who cherish this timeless art form, this undeniable urge to say, in their own manner, “I AM”.
We are not gods, we create, and yet in the process, we are created. It is our words, penned and copied throughout the ages that have helped to shape the world, to say that, “WE ARE”, that “WE EXIST”.
Whether tyrant or savior, good or evil, saint or sinner, the words that are put to time’s test are those that will come to define the world we know. Memory is not enough, though it serves.
As do we.
We are the lords of creation, the ones whose words will last and echo into the ages, for all to see, and all to remember.
Is it truth?
The better question is: Does it matter?
We are the lords and ladies of creation, and by our words, the world we know is shaped, molded, and given to the next generation, and so on and so forth until the whole mess ends, only to be rebuilt, and to crumble again.
We are the lords and ladies of Creation, and this is our legacy.


Missed Out (part IV)

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Time passed. Fred somehow knew it was passing but could do nothing about it. He was a part of the house, his prison, his keeper, his tormentor. The family left, along with the dullard, though the father had apparently had a falling out with the mother and was leaving her upon selling the house.

The house sold to three other families in the next decade as Fred could tell, each one of them selling once they figured out he was there. More priests came, a paranormal show was based on the house, and still nothing happened. Spirits came and went, some nasty, some mundane, and others just as boring as he felt that he’d become. The one attempt he made to possess someone went horribly wrong when he almost killed the middle-aged man. Something had ruptured within the man’s brain apparently, though he couldn’t figure out how it had happened. He knew the man had fought his presence, as he’d expected, but it had been like fighting a child, as Fred had taken over quite easily. The best analogy he could think of was of someone beating their head against a wall for no other reason than because they could. Something had burst in the man’s brain as he’d tried to exert control, and that was it.

After that Fred kind of disappeared for a while, only appearing now and then when a new family came along just to see who they were. Each time he was seen it was time for the family to leave apparently, or not. He didn’t care any longer, especially since he was content to just sit in the shadows and try to imagine what he’d done that was so terrible that karma was kicking his ass in such a fashion. He’d railed at God more than once and cursed the devil, wondering just which one of them had consigned him to this condition. It didn’t matter any longer though, another family had bought the house once again, and it was time to-


He knew that voice. Fred almost slipped into the shadows near the back of the hallway once again before realizing the light was on, and had dispelled any possible shadows at the moment. When the voice spoke again he registered the voice, the familiar tone that he hadn’t heard in so long, but would never mistake for anything else.

“Dad, is that you?”

(to be continued)

Missed Out (part V)

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He’d had the idea of trying to possess the idiot father of the family more than once to try and get his message across. He could have probably told them why he was here, what he wanted to do, and why. but he hadn’t been willing to try just yet. There was something holding him back, a conscience perhaps, because it wasn’t that he liked the guy. Fred had found a reason to actually spook the guy more than once by making an odd noise around him or tipping something off a shelf or opening and closing something just to unnerve the father. But nothing worked, the moron acted nervous for all of a few seconds and then went back to being a dullard.

It was still tempting though. He wanted to know what had happened to his wife and kids, and not being able to leave the house or speak to anyone else, or even indicate what he wanted, was maddening. But trying to possess someone didn’t sound like it would be as simple as it sounded, and it didn’t sound as though it might be something that might endear him to a higher power, if there was one.

That was another maddening turn of events, since if there was a God and a devil then it was hard to figure out why he hadn’t met either one of them yet.

Missed Out (part IV)

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“Are we gonna move mom? Please say we are.”

Fred had felt guilty about the first family’s decision to move, and he didn’t feel any better about scaring this family, but he couldn’t leave the place. The thought of whether he could leave if the house burned down had crossed his mind in the past, but he wasn’t about to make a family suffer that kind of horror just for the sake of his own curiosity. But tormenting them without meaning to, that was almost as bad.

“No,” said the mother, shaking her head at the son, “This bastard of ghost is. I’m calling the Ghost Hunters tomorrow and we’ll take care of this.”

Fred couldn’t help but roll his eyes as he heard this. He’d seen the Ghost Hunters on television when the family had been out one day, and he wasn’t impressed. As far as he could see they were a bunch of wannabe actors with fancy equipment that could have been picking up stray bits of radiation that they called ghosts. He could admit that the stuff was real, after all he was stuck in the middle of his own ghostly existence, but to date he hadn’t seen or heard of anyone that could physically banish a ghost. The only reason that the psycho that had been summoned by the Ouija board had left was because Fred and finally forced him out. No amount of prayer or trying to ‘understand’ him had done any good. For all the legends and myths that there were concerning ghosts, people didn’t really know that much about them.

“How much is that gonna cost us?”

The husband in this family was kind of a waste of space, someone that sat around all the time and didn’t take an active interest in his kids or even his wife. He worked for a living, but apart from that he didn’t act much like a father, and the only things that interested him were things that he didn’t feel like sharing with anyone else.

He was too much like Fred’s father to be honest.

(to be continued)

Missed Out (part III)

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Fred could still remember how the veins in the old priest’s neck had stood up as he’d been rebuked in the name of Jesus over and over and how the priest had told him to return to hell and blah, blah, blah. In the end he’d just faded off and allowed the family to believe that the priest had done the job. The old man had passed away nearly a year a later as he understood it, something to do with a heart attack or something. But he’d remained, and eventually the family had left when they’d found that he was still around. Fred had never made it appear that he wanted to hurt anyone, nor had he ever done anything harmful or even vaguely annoying, but it had been tempting at times.

Like when the teenage kids of the first family had used the damned Ouija board. He’d always figured that such things were a joke, that they were meant to scare people into believing that evil spirits could be channeled the same way they were in the movies. But what the kids had done was a little worse, since the spirit that had answered the call had been human once, but had been a true psycho apparently since the guy had done plenty of things that had been pinned on Fred far too quickly. Pulling hair, pinching, and swatting had been the start of it. But when one of the teenage daughters had claimed that the resident ghost, Fred, had done something carnal against her will the family had made the choice to call in the preacher, and not long after that they’d left. The teens had never even mentioned the Ouija board, as they’d buried it in the back yard.

He hadn’t bothered appearing to anyone when the house had been put up for sale, but he’d been amused when potential buyers had asked more than once why the previous family had moved. The realtor, whose job it had been to find out every detail, had said that the reason was pretty simple, the father had been offered a job in a different state and they’d had to move. Fred had just shaken his head at that point, and had almost felt sorry for whichever family moved in, since they would be buying a haunted house based on a lie.

But for all that he’d wanted to tell them, he couldn’t convey what he wanted somehow. It was, as he’d decided, against some unspoken and unwritten rule that he’d never been given. But to his frustration, it meant that he couldn’t ask anyone, or tell them, that he wanted to know what had happened to his family.

(to be continued)

Missed Out (part II)

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The family before this one had tried to get him out with a priest, but Fred wasn’t evil, he was just stuck. He wasn’t a demon, he was just a guy that had fallen asleep one night, felt a light pain in his chest, and then gone back to sleep. He hadn’t known anything of what had happened until it was too late, and his family was gone, his home had been sold, and the family that he’d seen first had moved in. This was currently the second family that he’d been haunting, and as he’d seen it on the news this occurrence was something of a big deal on a local scale. A lot of people felt that he was a hoax, something made up by the family that had come and gone, but even the supposed paranormal experts hadn’t been able to determine just why he was here or what he was doing.

There was a barrier of some sort that didn’t allow Fred to do much more than interact with the physical world, but to be fair he’d been less than forthcoming, largely because the methods that had been used thus far were a little too dangerous in his opinion. He’d never held much stock in the supernatural or anything beyond what he could see, hear, or touch, but that attitude had changed quickly when the first family had purchased a Ouija board, as they’d thought that he was a malevolent spirit bent on destroying them. People watched too many movies these days, and from what he could tell, VHS and even the new DVD systems just weren’t where it was at any longer, especially since that new network Netflix had come along. One channel with so many movies and TV shows, and no commercials. Fred could easily admit that he’d spent many an hour watching TV when the families had been out of the house, and he’d freaked out a few people thanks to the fact that they’d somehow sensed his presence and been unable to stay in the room.

But the exorcist/priest that the first family had brought in, hoo boy, that had been different.

Missed Out (part I)

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He’d gone to bed just like any other night. There was no struggle, no fight that he’d had to deal with, no screaming from the kids that would make him wonder if he’d done the right thing in becoming a father, and he and his wife hadn’t been arguing about anything. Where was the justice in any of it?

“Mom!” screamed the young child, bolting out of bed as Fred watched the kid run off. He was no longer confused by this turn of events, from what he’d deduced his own family had moved out of this place a while ago, years ago likely considering the renovations done to his home. He barely recognized the split-level house that he and his wife Marlene had purchased when they were still in their late 20s, but it was the same place be sure. It just wasn’t the same family that he remembered.

Footsteps coming down the hall alerted him to the presence of the child’s mother, prompting Fred to fade from sight again. He’d learned to do this at some point after waking up in a bed that wasn’t his own, next to a man only slightly older than he’d been when he’d…

Nope, nope, he didn’t want to think about that right now.

Fred really thought that moving on would have been a little different, that there would be a pearly gate or clouds of some sort to welcome him into the embrace of his loved ones or old family members that he’d lost along the way. At one point he’d even wondered if he was being evaluated before being tossed unceremoniously down a long, broken pit to be tormented for the rest of his afterlife. But so far nothing had come, no judgment and no end to this imposed existence had managed to show up yet, leaving him to wonder if there were others like himself out there, wandering about.

“He was just there!” the child exclaimed, “I know he was!”

“I believe you,” said the child’s mother, a pretty but heavyset woman that he’d appeared to more than once, “It’s about time we did something about this.”

That almost made Fred laugh, since he couldn’t imagine what the woman could think would help any of them.

(to be continued)

Soft As Iron (part IX)

Eerie look around abandoned prison that housed murderers and ...

The day came. He heard the doors roll slide open, and the phantoms jeered and catcalled, while a few of them warned the lot of them not to come back here, that this place would be waiting. David shuffled out behind the line of kids he’d come in here with, some whom were hard to recognize since he’d kept his head down for what felt like forever, but had really only been a day and a half, tops. Part of him recognized this fact, but the other part insisted that it had been far longer, that he’d entered hell, and much as the movies said, time flowed differently here.

The officers were more reserved, watchful, and didn’t yell at them in the same manner as they had upon entering. That was easy to understand, they weren’t laughing and treating this place like a joke any longer. The lot of them had seen past the facade, whatever it might be, and could tell that this was something other than what they’d expected. No cameras, no crews, no cops in the cells to pull inmates off of them, especially since the inmates would disappear and reappear of their own volition. They’d been sent to hell, David’s mind kept repeating, and for some reason they were being given a reprieve. Had it been a test? A joke? Or was this a preview, like the TV shows were said to be?

He didn’t want to come back here, in fact he could imagine that none of them did. A couple of the other kids wept openly as without another word they were marched back into the sunlight, the blinding glare stabbing down at them as though in judgment as the officers allowed them to walk on through. There were no words, no well wishes, and no nods of appreciation. Each kid went back to their parents, who either hugged them and ushered them into the car, or simply ushered them into the car and were off, not daring to look back at the place that they’d consigned their flesh and blood to. David didn’t even speak to his parents as they opened his door. He slid into the back seat, buckled himself in, and dared one last look at the place that had been like hell on earth.

The old, decrepit building that seemed to glare back at him couldn’t have been where he’d just come from. The front doors were busted off and twisted beyond repair, while the inner foyer was overgrown with vegetation and the hallways beyond were dark and looked absolutely dank with moisture and who knew what else. Despite himself, David felt his lip begin to quiver as his mind tried to accept what he was looking at. Dimly, as though from far away, he heard his mother ask, “Are you sure we did the right thing?”

The End

Soft As Iron (part VIII)

Eerie look around abandoned prison that housed murderers and ...

Another two meals came and went. David kept his head down, all while the phantom prisoners jeered and the phantom guards disappeared after feeding them. During lunch he’d been given some dark, reddish-brown goop that he’d assumed was chili due to the presence of a few beans. It had come with a roll, a small carton of milk, and a small packet of salt. The roll had disappeared before he’d returned to his cell, but had been replaced somehow before he’d sat down. He’d muttered a barely audible ‘thank you’ that had received no response before sitting down on the hard metal of his cot, feeling the edge of it bite into his hamstrings.

Scooting back had given him no relief, as the edge then dug into his calves, while sitting cross-legged did no good since he couldn’t drink his milk and had to almost lay down to do so. Even then he was afraid to shift his gaze to the door, for fear of what might be there, leering at him, just waiting for him to make eye contact. He’d already heard a few of the others cry out after what he assumed was poor judgment on their part. David didn’t want to join the chorus of crying he’d already heard over the course of the day.

The chili was bland, but the salt overpowered it in such a way that David found himself gulping his milk, which emptied the carton quickly as he looked to the sink. He found himself wondering if he could keep his eyes down the entire time while filling it up. The roll was dry but edible, and stuck to the roof of his mouth as he did his best to work up enough saliva to choke it down. He could’t help but wonder what his parents were dining on tonight, if they were able to live with themselves for keeping him here. They had to know what this place was, right? His mother had even asked they were doing the right thing.

What was this place?

(to be concluded)