The Spitting Post
Vincent Carpenter’s life is a wreck. He has given up his dreams. He has lost his job after an economic disaster. His ten-year marriage is crumbling. Then he awakens in a maniacal land of frighteningly vivid realism with skull trees, glowing forests, ravenous beasts, and other psychologically haunting adversity.
While traveling through this demented unearthly world, he has a chance encounter with a beautiful maiden dressed in green; before he can start a conversation, she disappears into the unknown. Vincent must try to find her at a fantastical place known as the Spitting Post. But first he must overcome many macabre misfortunes and face nightmares that question his sanity. Will he reach her? What will the Spitting Post reveal? Will he suffer more disappointment and tragedy? Or will he find peace at last?
The town looked as devastated as if a great army had laid siege to it. The doors on all the buildings were smashed in with only a few splintered pieces of wood dangling from the hinges. Paw prints littered the dirt street through the town.
I tried to shake the idea that I had almost been a monster’s meal and directed my mind back to the task at hand—the bridge. I must find the bridge and cross it to reach the canyon. I set out and left the perceived safety of the town keeping my eyes peeled and my ears open. I traveled through more of the rolling hills and headed northwest. I must have been a couple of miles out when I heard something and stopped. Far in the distance I detected the music of a violin, and this time I was sure of it. The music filled the air with an eerie melody and left me covered with goose bumps. Who in their right mind would be playing an afternoon serenade with a beast roaming about? Feeling even more unnerved, I hurried along at a faster pace trying to block out the sound before it drove me mad.
I sped through the grassland as if I were running from death itself. It was then that I recognized my latest fear was about to come true. It would be night soon, and there was no shelter, no protection from the beast or the mad musician. But I had to stop because the land was littered with rocks and with the fading light, I might stumble and suffer a broken bone or other major injury. I stopped under one of the weeping willows and sat with my back against its trunk. There would be no sleep tonight.
When night settled in, the trees began their song of despair and completely blocked out any other noise. This is great, I thought. The beast could be right on me, and I would never even hear it. But the trees continued their sad symphony just the same.
With the thought of the beast ripping at my body and consuming my insides and the tree’s wailing, I found myself at the edge of lunacy. When dawn finally broke, the trees stopped their wailing, and the silence became deafening yet again. At last, peace and quiet. I picked myself up from the madness and marched onward. I was not a bit hungry, and my stomach was far too nervous for breakfast, so I went without. I also knew this would save time. One extra moment in this place was one too many.
Again I found my thoughts racing as fast as my feet. It would be a complete triumph when I escaped this land, or so I thought. If only I could make it to the bridge, then maybe I would be safe. As I raced on like a frightened animal about to become the beast’s dinner, I thought about the townspeople. I hoped they were safe in their new home far from here; I felt empathy for them knowing what fear the beast inspired.
I was lost in thought when again I heard the violin’s call. It was close this time—too close. I stopped and surveyed the land with terrified eyes, growing more anxious with each passing note. The ambient tune working itself into a manic frenzy. Can’t they shut up? With that racket the beast would find us, and I knew what would happen when it did. There would be no more violin playing for that musician, and I would never find The Green Maiden.
I scanned the countryside for the insane violinist and spotted him on a small hill just to my right. When I saw his ghastly appearance, I almost wished I hadn’t found him. He was a stout man dressed in total blackness with a red violin resting against his shoulder. His skin was a brilliant white, as white as a bed sheet. On his head was a black top hat, and he wore a twisted grin on his porcelain face.
“What are you doing?” I yelled. “It will hear us!”
The man said nothing and kept playing his maddening melody.
“Are you crazy?”
The man opened his mouth wide and without moving his lips, he said, “Precisely.”
Then he began to cry tears of blood, yet still he played. The blood rolled down his face and pooled on the grass. Then I came to a grotesque realization. He was not playing for amusement; he was calling the beast.