The Attic

I woke from my dream.  Looking up I found both Lilith and Lincoln staring down at me.  Lincoln licked my face, I pushed him gently aside.

“Yeah Okay, that’s enough Lincoln.”  I rubbed the sleep and his slobber from my eyes.

I stood, saying nothing more.  It was dark outside now and the rain had stopped falling.  I looked at the heavy chrome watch on my wrist.  I had been asleep for only an hour or so.  The weird dream about Lincoln made it seem longer.

I looked at my two companions.  There was an air of expectation in the room as if they were waiting for me to make the next move.  I found this deliciously ironic.  Me?  All this time I’d been under the impression that they had been driving this ship.

Without saying another word I pushed past them and went into the bathroom, closing the door firmly behind me.

*          *          *

I emerged, finding Lilith and Lincoln, who seemed nonplused by my rudeness, waiting for me in the living room.

Lilith stood, or at least hunched, her back and broad shoulders brushed the ceiling.  Her color in the dim electric light of the room was of rusted copper.  Her body seemed to absorb the light as it touched her.  It was disconcerting to look at her directly because it was difficult to focus on any one part of her for very long.  It was something akin to looking at a hot road on a very hot day: her face and body shimmered like a mirage.  But that wasn’t all.  Lilith was big; too big for the little room but it seemed that the space about her — walls, floor, and ceiling bent and expanded to accommodate her.

It was also difficult to look easily on Lincoln, whose effervescent color-change flashed between white and black as rhythmically as a metronome.  But not all of the time; at first I thought his color-changes were random but after watching him over time I decided that the phenomenon was due to his mood.  Like a discordant pump he flashed:  on and off, the overall effect gave him an almost perfect camouflage in the dim lighting of the living room – he was invisible to the eye if you were not aware he was there to begin with.  He sat quietly beside Lilith.  Their eyes followed me as I entered the room.

In her raspy alien voice Lilith asked, “Exnzpat, the sacred texts — have you discovered them yet?”

I took a deep breath before I answered.  “I have not.  But I have not searched the whole of the house.”

“True.”  She answered, and in a very human gesture she nodded her head in agreement.

“I’ll do it now.”

“Thank you exnzpat; understand friend, I know how hard this is for you.”

I turned and walked down the hallway towards the back bedroom.

*          *          *

This was the place I dreaded most.  But no chill lay in my mind as it had done in the year past.  It was for guilt that I slowed my pace.  This place — in this place — I killed my children and then my wife.  I had become… an unspeakable thing:  murderer, monster, and madman.  The hall closed in on me.  I tried to think of other things:  the carpet I walked on, it was new and soft.  I had had it put in last year.  The walls and the baseboard’s I painted myself.  The floor beneath the carpet did not squeak — I had fixed that too.

My senses were stung by the emptiness of the place.  The spirit of Scudamour was now rid from the rental and also too, my body.  No longer did he control or manipulate me — it was just me – and nobody else.  And so, there was nothing to fear — I was left to my own sorry self.   And lest I forget, that I myself, had stolen the body of another – that of my able-bodied, if not ridiculous lawyer, executionerofthewill!  So, am I no better than Scudamour?

I stopped short of the second bedroom.  The walls seemed to close in on me.  I staggered, left hand on left wall, right hand on right wall.  I held myself up.

Here, at this point, I had woken exnzpat3 and whispered something into his ear; willingly he had followed me, little hand in big hand, back into the third bedroom we went.  Scudamour inside of me — the nail-puller rained down like a summer storm; the wet smacking sound of steel on bone woke exnzpat1.  He came into the room.  “Dad?” He fought the hardest of the four; but eventually yielded.  Exnzpat2, within the confines of her youthful teenage mind, and that special intuition that only the female has, woke — and she knew — she sensed the danger.  I found her hiding beneath the sleeping bags and dragged her by the hair into the back bedroom and killed her there.

Mrs. Exnzpat was next.  “OH MY GOD! WHAT ARE YOU DOING…?” She cried.  Tis murder my dear, rotten horrible murder, of course!

Nothing stirred, not even a rat.  Only the scritch-scratch of metal on bone could be heard.

I felt Lilith’s leathery hand grip my shoulder, breaking my train of thought.

“Not all miracles are cures exnzpat.”  She said.

“Why not?”

“The soul and the body are tethered exnzpat; stitched like a tapestry into the fabric of space and time.  The miraculous is the ordinary.”  Lilith tightened her grip on my shoulder and paused, waiting for me to reply.  When I said nothing, she said.  “I feel you expect some magic from my presence; do not.  The ordinary is in you.  The transference of your soul into the body of the surrogate is only temporary.  You will be returned — snapped-back into your rightful places when I have what I want”

I decided to ignore her and simply stared down the hallway.  I continued the internal search of my being for the fear and foreboding that once stalked me in this very same spot.  But I couldn’t find it! And that missing sensation was more disturbing than as if it were actually there.  Familiar time and place; they create expectation – and so we tend to seek the past before we recognize and accept the present.

I shrugged off Lilith’s hand and strode down the hall into the back bedroom.  The little room did not look and feel like the butcher shop that I had left it; both me and Scudamour.  Or was it just Scudamour that left it that way?

An intense anger suddenly took me.  Who was this Scudamour to invade my home?  Who was this Scudamour to torment me then; and even now, invade me with the memory of murder?  Who was he who stole into my body and did such unspeakable things!  Now I, plagued and mentally crippled, must live with his deed.  Such rage!  Such rage!  Such rage!  Catch him and kill him if I could – I would!

The room had been professionally redone.  Dry new paint on the walls; a carpet covered the floor.  Angrily I swung open the closet door.  No box or any other item was stacked upon the shelves.  Looking up I saw the attic access door.  It was the place the dark haired boy hid.  My anger abated some, probably because it was not just my family Scudamour had tormented.  He had tormented his own first.

“Lilith,” I said.  “I’ve always believed that there is give-and-take in the world.  If someone pulls on something, another pushes back.  I’ve always believed in balance — you understand?  This creature, this Scudamour has made me his enemy.  He has unbalanced me, do you understand?”

I left the room, pushing past her.  She filled the doorway completely.  She did not answer me and by her silence, I felt she understood.  She watched me quietly; her bulbous cow-like eyes followed me back through the dining room where I grabbed one of the chairs.  I dragged it back down the hall.  I couldn’t help but notice Lincoln, relaxed and lying on the dining room floor licking himself – the way dogs do; the ordinary in the face of the miraculous? Lincoln looked up at me disinterestedly and went back to his business.

In executionerofthewill’s coat pocket I found a cell phone; it was a Blackberry, one of the big ones, with the large face.  Turning it on I had enough light to see a few feet about the crawlspace above the bedroom closet.  There was nothing. My anger ran its course as I slowly became unsure of myself – I was plainly puzzled.  Where had I put the damn thing? Lilith was certain that the letters, or sacred texts, as she called them were somewhere in the house.  I thought so too.  The whole premise of getting me back here hinged on this notion.  While I had not expected Lilith to switch my soul with that of executionerofthewill, I did actually expect to find the box somewhere here at the rental, though truthfully, I had never given much thought to how I would accomplish this task considering I was blind.  So switching bodies with executionerofthewill made sense; it gave me the eyes I needed.  But the exact location of the box was pretty hazy in my mind to begin with – other than somewhere here at the rental.

So, putting things into perspective; would I have used this bedroom access? No.  It was too awkward; I would have used the hallway access instead.

I left the chair in the bedroom and went back into the dining room; Lilith shuffled along behind me.  For the first time I noticed that one of Lilith’s legs was not straight.  Her right leg was deformed in a manner which caused her to let the leg drag.  Her large taloned right foot was twisted inward, aggravating the limp.  Her big dark eyes watched me without visible expression.

From the dining room I caught up the edge of one of the tables and began to drag it into the hallway.  I had to stop because Lincoln was in the way.  He actually thought I would yield to him, and growled at me with surprise when I nudged him out of the way with my foot.

“Move it Lincoln!”  Reluctantly he stood and in a burst of effervescent blaze, shook himself, and moved out of my way.

I dragged the table down the hallway, stopping directly beneath the crawl space there.  Lilith watched me from the master bedroom.

I climbed up on the table and pushed open the access door.  The table was a good height and I could stand easily, my shoulders protruding into the attic.  Using the cell-phone as a flashlight again I inspected the space.  Nothing.  No box, no nothing, only the same old piece of pine-board that I had originally found the first time I had come up here.

“Where the hell is it?”  I mumbled under my breath.

I climbed down, shaking my head; I told Lilith “it’s not there either.” I sat on the edge of the table facing the dining room.   To tell the truth I didn’t have a clue.  The last time I saw the box… it had been in the back bedroom.  But… it wasn’t there whenwhen… I was last there… with my cutting tools… and my family…  I must have moved the box back into the attic! This is what I thought to be true, but now… I wasn’t so sure.  Perhaps the real question was:  what was it that I was really looking for in the first place — a box, or the bundle of letters that was in that box? I sat and thought about it.

“Lilith you once told me, back at the hospital, that we had met before – tell me of that time.  Perhaps it will help me remember.”

“It was Dominica.  The day you returned with the New-Mothers tears.  You hung there them there,” her long arm pointed past me towards an empty spot in the dining room, “upon your sleeping bench.”

New-Mothers tears? Oh!  I thought, a Rosary.  She must mean Sunday.  Yes, the priest had given me a Rosary and I had hung it on my camp-bed.  I vaguely remembered my conversation with the priest.  I had gone to church.  It had been good to talk to someone!  I didn’t do much work on the rental either.  Pretty much the whole day was spent on the computer.  My post that day on the property web-site had been about getting the box down from the attic and going through the letters.  I didn’t remember putting the box back, but according to what I wrote that Sunday, and the next day, Monday, apparently I put the box in the back bedroom – but I didn’t remember doing it! But that was the last I remember seeing of the box.  A few days later I had been working in the back bedroom on the carpet and saw the box on the closet shelf.  I freaked out because I did not remember putting the damn thing back there.  I do remember looking in the box after I’d calmed down and seeing the letters in it.  That was the last time I remembered seeing the box, or the letters.  Executionerofthewill assured me that a box containing a bundle of letters did not exist.  The police, he said, had gone over the house with a fine-toothcomb.  There was no way that they had missed it, he said.  There was one fact I knew to be true:  the police had found an empty cardboard box in the trash.  Into that box they had placed smaller items of evidence.  Was that the box? Probably, and that was why I had executionerofthewill check the evidence record for the letters.  They had never been entered into record of evidence.  And so, that meant that they were still here, somewhere in this house.  The only hiding place I could think of that was obscure enough to be missed by the police was up in the attic, under the insulation.  I hoped that wasn’t the case though, because that meant I would have a dirty and unpleasant job ahead of me.

“Lilith, when you took me into the attic, after… you know… after… did I have the bundle of letters – I mean the texts, the sacred text’s with me?”

Lilith looked surprised, or at least as best as her alien leather-skinned face would allow, “no exnzpat – I told you this.  But, I did ask you where they were and you told me that they were safe.  I did not doubt you.”

I puzzled over this.  I really did not remember too much of what happened after… I knew that the attic was the place the police found me a few days later.  As for where I put these sacred texts – I really had no idea.

“They must be in the attic – I must have hidden them there – at some point.  I just don’t remember when.”

Lilith climbed onto the table and looked up into the attic herself.  It was weird; her massive size seemed to change the perspective of her surroundings.  It wasn’t as if she shrunk to fit the space about her, it was more like the space expanded to fit her.  She was such a strange creature, and what was odd, I was becoming used to her presence.  As mighty as She was, she was also so human-like in most of her mannerisms that I began to feel comfortable around her.  But that was then; comfort is acclimation through familiarization to a person, thing, or place.  Lilith was so alien, and yet, at the same time so familiar, I could not as yet truly reconcile myself to her remarkable presence — not one iota – and things were about to get remarkable – very remarkable indeed!

Lilith stuck only her head through the access door.  I turned to watch her, captivated by the illusion of the hallway’s size-shift.  She pulled her head back into the house and looked at me; beginning to speak but interrupted herself with a harsh hissing sound that sounded like static; low at first, but increasing in pitch and intensity — as if she were a boiling tea kettle without an off switch.  Alarmed, I jumped off the table and backed away from her.  But she wasn’t looking at me.  Then Lincoln began to bark; his bark was one of warning.  From behind me I heard the kitchen screen-door bang shut.

With Lincoln barking and the horrendous sound emanating from Lilith it was hard to concentrate.  Lilith’s coppery colored skin was slowly brightening into a sickly yellow color like one of those South America poisonous frogs, bright, vivacious, and dangerous.  The sound she was making was the sound of grating fingernails – it was a warningan alarm — the sound’s pitch matched her hideous color change.  Flaps of leathery skin flung up behind her head like some prehistoric beast.  As I spun to look towards the kitchen I caught a brief glimpse of Lincoln, wolf-like, his hackles were up — his barking jaws held a terrible tone; his coat flashed rapidly between deep black, and deep white; pumping like a strobe-light, he was a terrible sight to behold – a Baskerville-beast balanced and tuned, ready to strike.  Lilith’s pitch and volume rose to a screech; I clapped my hands to my ears.

There — between the kitchen and the dining room door was a girl — a young woman — of perhaps twenty-four, or twenty-five.  A bob-cut of jet black hair framed an attractive, but terrified, face.  In the heat of the cacophony from both Lilith and Lincoln I noticed that she was wearing a reddish-colored Lilly dress.  I knew this because my wife wore the same brand.  They were expensive, and so, was a hard thing to forget.  The dress was patterned with giraffes, or some such thing.  On her feet she wore a pair of plain red pumps.  She stared at us three in abject terror.  Whoever she was she must have thought she had walked in on a psychopath’s freak-show– murderous and monstrous.

Lincoln was beginning to move…

“LINCOLN, NO!”  I commanded.

Whatever had become of Lincoln during my missing year had changed him.   I was no longer his master. But somewhere there, in the deep recesses of his canine brain my command reached him.  It was enough.  He paused, skittering to a halt.  I have no doubt that had I not yelled when I did the girl would be dead.

“Executionerofthewill?” She asked weakly.

I watched her, as if in slow motion, as her eyes rolled into the back of her head, eyelashes winking, she fell to the floor in a cold faint.  On the way down her head crashed into one of the chairs.  Blood smarted brightly from the wound; the resounding thump of her fall resonated in the stunned silence that followed.

“Son-of-a-bitch!” I shouted.  I guess she had surprised me as much as she did Lilith and Lincoln — I was just slower on the uptake.

I ran to her.  Lincoln beat me.  Sheepishly he sniffed at her.  He realized that she did not pose a threat — at least now that we had frightened her almost to death.

Kneeling, I inspected the damage.  Her hair was matted thick with blood.  I gently moved her head to see.  The girl’s hair was so thick it was hard to find where wound and scalp met.  One thing was for sure; there was a lot of blood.  I looked at the chair she hit.  It was wooden, but all the same she had come down hard on the seat edge.  It was smeared with blood, skin, and hair.  The chair seat was not sharp so perhaps the wound was only superficial – either way I needed to get her to the nearest hospital as soon as possible.  A fall like this could easily complicate into a concussion.

From executionerofthewill’s pocket I pulled out a handkerchief, a rather old fashioned garment, but in this case, a handy one.  Executionerofthewill dressed to impress – was the handkerchief “in?”   I didn’t know – but thank goodness for it all the same.  From another pocket I pulled out his cell phone.

Lincoln nosed at the girl and whined.  I pushed him aside; he growled a warning at me.  I glared back him, annoyed.  With one hand I pressed the handkerchief gently but firmly against the place where the girl’s blood pumped most freely, with the other I dialed 911.  I heard the dial tone but almost as quickly as it started, it stopped.  The phone went dead in my hand.  Stupidly I looked at the phone wondering why it had suddenly stopped working.

“What are you doing exnzpat?”  It was Lilith; she had climbed down off the table and approached us.  She had stopped her hissing but her breathing still contained a slight hint of that hideous rasp.

“We do not have time for this — we must go – we must travel into the place above and continue our search for the sacred texts.”

“I’m not leaving this poor girl to die!”  I told her indignantly, but then asked a little more gently, “…is there anything you can do for her?” Remembering, that Lilith was an angel of some sort.

Lilith stroked the girl’s head and face; her long bony fingers feeling out the contours of her skull.  I lifted the handkerchief which was now knotted tight, red with blood.  It did appear that the wound was beginning to congeal.  It was hard to tell though — her hair; which was so thick, and so dark, concealed so much.

Who was she?  I thought.  Her voice was somewhat familiar.  Though for the life of me I could not place it.  She called me executionerofthewill.  Obviously, that was who she thought I was.  But executionerofthewill was not married, and as far as I remember, never spoke of any girlfriends.  I was pretty sure he didn’t have a girlfriend.  A sister perhaps?  Maybe someone from his work? But he quit the County Attorney’s office right after my Civil Suit against the bread company who poisoned me with ergot.  And then it hit me:  the girl’s name was… everyone had called her… Becky? She was one of the law students who worked for Matt E, the County Prosecutor, assigned by the State to put me away for the murder of my family.  Yes, it made sense now.  I remembered her.  She had a soft voice and a cheerful laugh.  I remembered listening for that laugh each morning during those sad terrible weeks.  Even in my desperate and most miserable condition, her laugh always made me smile.  While she never talked to me – she always made polite conversation with executionerofthewill whenever she had the chance.  My impression was that she did not like Matt E all that much, even though she was working for him.  But executionerofthewill; he seemed not to even notice her, or at least pretended not to notice her.  We kept to our side of the courtroom and Matt E kept to his.  The girl though, always seemed to find a reason to come over and chat with executionerofthewill.  Swapping evidence sometimes, or simply to go over some rule of law.  Oh!  He was such a fool!  Most young men normally are!  Becky – the girl’s name was Becky!

Lilith continued to stroke the girls head.

“I think her name is Becky.  She must be dating executionerofthewill.”  Though, after I said it, it didn’t ring true.  Becky’s laugh had been sweet; it flowed through the courtroom like a mountain stream washing away, just for a few seconds, the ugliness of my deeds.  She seemed like too nice of a girl (and too smart) to be dating the likes of the self-indulgent and self-absorbed executionerofthewill.

“You know this child?”  Lilith asked grasping Becky’s chin and turning her face to see it better.

“No.  But I think executionerofthewill does.”  Lilith looked at me confused.

“My surrogate…” I said using her term for executionerofthewill’s body.

Just then Becky’s eyes flipped open, her dark lashes opening like butterfly wings.  She stared directly into the Lilith’s eyes.  With an almost inaudible sigh on her lips Becky passed out again.

Lilith’s winning personality, no doubt.

But Lilith… after returning Becky’s stare squawked in surprise and pulled her hand away sharply and began to make a series of alarmed chirping sounds.  She squeaked like this to herself for a full minute scooting backwards, away from Becky as if she were poison.  Lilith looked at me and then at Becky — back and forth, back and forth — the whole time emitting the disturbing fire-alarm sound.  It was hard to read Lilith’s true expression; the impression though, was that Lilith had entered into what we humans might call a state of hysteria.

“Lilith?”  I asked, a little unsure of what was going on.

Lincoln went to Lilith and nuzzled her for comfort.  She wrapped her giant arms protectively about Lincoln; it was one of the few truly human gestures I ever saw Lilith make while in this shape.  She hugged Lincoln and Lincoln reciprocated as best as he could.  Whining in sympathy; his big body pushed as closely and as warmly to her as he could get.  Eventually Lilith’s chirping subsided; and then with a violent urgency she commanded me, indicating towards Becky.

“Don’t touch her!”

Lilith drew herself to her full height; the dining room bent its spatial dimensions to fit her.  Before I could reply Lilith bent over and scooped Becky up and cradled her in her arms.

“We have tarried here too long.  Lincoln, come!”

Lincoln spun about and ran across the living room and down the hallway.  He took a single bound at the table that I had placed under the attic access.  His forepaws barely touched the table’s edge but somehow he was able, with that single touch, turn his bound into an even greater leap which launched him up, directly through the access and into the attic.  He barked at us from above; his whiskered nose poking down at us through the hole.

Lilith, carrying Becky, was already moving in the same direction and the room shifted accordingly to accommodate her.

“Wait!  What are you doing!  That girl may have a concussion.  You shouldn’t move her — we need to call an ambulance.”  My complaint sounded on deaf ears; Lilith ignored me completely.  But not quite, she turned on her one good leg and spoke:  “Come exnzpat, come.  We have much to do”

I stared in amazement as the walls bowed and bent around her great bulk.  With a single stride she was atop the table, the strange osmosis of matter and light shimmering about her, reticulating as she went; then she, with Becky in her arms, glided vertically up into the access and into the attic above.

I followed them as far as the hallway.  Lincoln was still barking from somewhere above.

“What the Hell?” I said to myself, more concerned for the girl than anything else, but I was puzzled also — the attic? I thought it was my job to look for the letters? Though, Lilith was welcome to help.  But the concussed girl needed urgent medical treatment.  She certainly should not be taken up into the attic; and Lincoln – well he was the last damn thing I needed running about the attic!

“Lilith?  Lincoln?”  I called.

I climbed onto the table and poked my head cautiously up through the access.  I saw only darkness.  They had disappeared!  But no, I could still hear Lincoln barking.  Then on the far side of the attic I could make out Lincoln’s flashing body.

“Lincoln, come here.  You’re going to fall through the ceiling.”

“Damn it Lincoln, get back here!”  I yelled.

I climbed all the way up into the attic proper and perched myself on the flat pine-board.

One furious bright flash after another blinked in the deeper recesses of the attic.  I could barely make anything out…  What I could see was immediately driven from my sight by the sharp stabs of bright white light emanating from Lincoln.  But the impression, all the same, were of shadows; they moved feverishly about the attic.  The beams and studs ridged and angled; spaced and quartered cast their shadowy arms in exactly the right places creating a patchwork of dark tendrils that reached out for me, enveloping me – then they began to spin.


The strobe light that was Lincoln was becoming brighter but yet more distant.  A blue tint was now plainly evident in his light.  The light caught and absorbed the stud, beams, and insulation of the attic — catching it and changing it.  Everything about me was spinning.  Occasionally, in the blur of light and wood-matter, I caught a glimpse of Lilith, at her feet, lay Becky’s unconscious form.  Lilith’s great body was diminishing and changing with every stab of light.  Soon the blue flashes widened and spaced themselves into even greater periods, mingling with, and meshing with the rotating octopus arms of darkness.  Blue gave way to yellow and yet, in itself became more distinct.  The colors congealed into a puke-colored soup, and spun about my head for what seemed like an eternity; then suddenly froze.  A roar like that of a jet engine split the air and the yellow fell to the ground and the blue fell upwards; divergent now, and completely separate.  A single intense burst of white-light lit up the entire attic – and it was the light of sunlight that I saw.  I looked up.  A deep black-blue sky exploded above me.  Above my head the roof was gone; a warm sunshine washed over me.

But it was nighttime?  Wasn’t it?  What was happening? How did it become daytime all of a sudden?  It was around 10 pm.  I looked at executionerofthewill’s watch to be sure – but it was having problems of its own! The second-hand was rotating in the wrong direction but the hour-hand and the minute-hand remained fixed at ten.  At my feet, the pine-board I stood on remained, but before me, what had been pink rectangles of insulation were now huge rectangles of piled sand.  Their regular shape was defined by wide gray-black beams.  These beams looked suspiciously like rafters but were about four-foot wide and stretched off into the distance for as far as the eye could see.  They looked like skinny asphalt roads but bounded by the weirdest looking sand dunes you ever did see.  An occasional scrubby tree graced the yellow vista of sand.

The sun was behind me.  I turned to see.  It was late in the day and the sun, huge and bloated, slid slowly towards a broad horizon.  Far in the distance I saw the twinkle of water.  An ocean – what was it doing in my attic?  What was any of it doing in my attic?

I looked down; around me.  On my right was the attic access I had emerged into this place from.  Through it, I could see the table in the hallway.  That normalcy was an anchor I felt I needed to hold on to…  The access-cover lay on the sand next to me, as innocuously as if this were the most normal place in the world for it to be; a hole in the desert that exits into my rental.  I had that most frightening sense of standing upon the precipice of a high place while I stared down into the hallway below.  I swayed slightly and thought I would fall and probably would have if it were not for Lincoln; Lincoln was standing about five or six feet from me; his leg cocked, peeing on the nearest dune.

“Lincoln, No!”  I shouted.  Flashing through my mind was the thought that Lincoln was really peeing on the corner of the bedded insulation of the attic.  It would be a bitch to clean-up, that was for sure.  Lincoln just looked at me and wagged his tail.  His black and white pulsing had stopped for now and his normal dark lustrous coat had returned.  I sat heavily on the board.  Perhaps all this:  the desert, the ocean, the sky, and the setting sun were all just a manifestation of the stress brought about by the strangeness of the day.

And my day had been stressful:  brought from the mental asylum, which had been my home now for twelve months, and returned to the rental — the place I murdered my family.  Then, as if that wasn’t enough, an angel, of indeterminate temperament, origin, and gimpy right leg — transfers my soul into the body of my attorney (an all-about unpleasant fellow to begin with) – all so I could search for something that she called the “sacred texts,” which were actually just a bundle of letters that I had discovered the year before in an old box up here in the attic.  Yes!  This had been a very stressful day!  I was actually surprised I had not noticed that fact before now.

I pause.  I reread what I have written.

Oh!  I see now!  I am definitely mad – no doubt about it.  This is some kind of hallucination!  I am mad in the very truest sense of madness.  This physicality – this place, I find myself in, it feels so real and I feel so alive… with the sun so firmly on my back… and so warm…. and yet…

“Exnzpat, are you ill?”  It was Lilith.

*          *          *

I turned to look at her.  She too had changed.  No longer was she the vision of a yellowish twisted copper-colored lizard-like thing that I had spent the better part of the day with.  Now she was the first face of Lilith I had seen a few months before while locked away in the asylum.  She was now the creature with the staggeringly beautiful face that had almost swallowed my breath and suffocated me! Long blond hair fell upon her shoulders and cascaded down her back.  Her eyes, large and green devoured me — captivating me.  The fishhook like teeth that had made up her lipless mouth had disappeared; replaced with pegs so pearly, and so straight, and so clean it would make an orthodontist swoon.  Her lips were now full and red — sweet like a child’s but with the maturity and mirth of a woman’s.  Her beauty was a staggering thing to behold.  Not one bit it of it helped me though – because to make matters worse — Lilith was completely naked.

I gasped.  Lilith’s most perfect and wonderful body gleamed in the sunlight.  She seemed unabashed, or not to notice, or not to care that I looked upon her.  Later, I would come to realize that madness manifests itself in many ways – Lilith, I would find, was no saner than I — her nakedness though was a special kind of madness, and it was her own!

“Are you ill?”  She asked again.  I felt it best, I should remain sitting.  Also, while pondering madness, it is best not to speak.  All I could manage was a simple nod of assent.  I held my breath hoping this mirage, this phantasm, should fade away… but it did not! After a minute or so, and finding that my attic, as I remembered it, had not returned, I took stock of myself.  Other than a little disorientation I was fine – but obviously insane.  And for the life of me, I couldn’t tear my eyes away from Lilith’s body.

Lincoln trotted over to us.  Beyond him, beyond the vast field of regimented sand hillocks and larger dunes was a thick green forest of huge trees that looked like oaks.

Lilith grasped my arm; her fingers — nimble, normal, and beautiful.  I felt faint and shook her off.  I stood, and walked over to the unconscious body of Becky.

I smiled ruefully to myself.  My madness, which had first begun with murder now included kidnapping; what next, I wondered – at what point will my insanity be satiated and finally burn itself out?

Lincoln licked my hand, his body, in just those few minutes changed now, mostly white he became; the sun setting behind us.  I scratched his ears.  He grinned playfully at me and rolled his eyes; delighted at the attention.

“There is an apothecary near here. We must get this child help.”  Lilith said kneeling beside the girl.

I smiled — happy in my madness.  An apothecary? Now there’s a word you don’t hear every day. “Why not Lilith?  Why not?” I almost giggled… almost.

I picked up Becky’s limp form, and followed the Lilith — the first Eve – as naked as the day she was made.  My former pet, now become strange and magical, jogged at our heels.  Together, we made our way along the dark path, zigzagging our way between the dunes towards the green forest ahead.

Not a cloud marred this perfectly crazy day.  The sun was warm and a light sea breeze blew cool air into the desert dunes.  If it was madness that afflicted me – then I should be glad that the weather was pleasant enough… and so it was.