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Tracie Skarbo was motivated to write by her father, who was her biggest supporter. “He was always behind me, rallying me on with my writing. I would always see him with a book in hand. He gave me a great appreciation for the written word, and the power and responsibility that writers have to shape those who read their words. He also taught me to respect nature and to value the beauty within it; my reflections on my environment are just an extension of this.” Skarbo was raised on Vancouver Island and is working on her next two books.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Stamp Mosaics

In my home office, things started to disappear; a box of paper clips here, some stamps there.  Small things at first, nothing significant, but enough to be an inconvenience.  

It took me a while to notice.  It isn’t as though our office is immaculate but I have order where order is needed.  I once saw a picture of Albert Einstein’s office and I could not believe someone so brilliant could ever find his way in such a messy array of texts and papers.  Thankfully, for Albert and us, there is order in chaos.  Although the universe can be a random and bizarre place, planets behave a certain way, black holes behave another.  I wondered which of those we were like. 

Our office was not as bad as Albert’s, but it was not the tidy, efficient, sterile machine like my mother’s could be either.  She had everything in its place and it always gave an unlived in vibe.  Like some kind of tomb you had to tiptoe around.  It was purely functional, as though no ideas, no life or creativity had ever breathed within its walls. 

Our office, on the contrary, was much lived in.  Not a day went by that one of us was not in some way contributing to its character.  There were wooden bookshelves lining the walls in the back holding texts, paper and envelopes.  Storage shelves doubled as work surfaces and storage areas.  Plastic bins held extra cables, mice, power bars, keyboards and various other computer equipment.  Wires were everywhere but in a way that resembled tidiness.  A scanner in the corner, printer on a wooden shelf, and with the new flat screen monitors there was more desk space.

That is until my partner starts into his coin collection.  Then there are coins everywhere, q-tips and toothbrushes for cleaning, toothpicks for who knows what, small jars of ketchup and olive oil.  Reference books, although most of his reference work is done on the internet.  Binders upon binders stacked one on the other full of his centuries old booty. 

I liked to look at them too, some of them anyway.  The old faces and crests, the way I would feel when I thought that all that time ago these heavy circles would have sat in someone’s hand, rested in their pocket.  It was like touching history in an obscure way.

Perhaps that is why things began to disappear. 

I didn’t notice it right away, because I thought Russell had misplaced what I needed and he of course thought I had.  We had even gotten into some pretty intense fights over it. 

Stamps seemed to be the most popular.  We even tried to put them in different places to break the losing streak so to speak, though that didn’t work very well.  We thought perhaps we had forgotten the new hiding places but the old empty cardboard wrappers were staring us in the face. 

Then it seemed other things were being used.  There is no other way to say it.  We woke up one morning ready for a full day of work and there were staples all over the floor.  Not unspent staples like you find in the box and load the stapler with, but spent staples.  As if someone had pushed the stapler over and over and just left the bent staples all over the floor, like they had done it for the simple joy of the sound and feel of the stapler, or that they had not known what the stapler was for.

It got stranger and stranger as time went by.  Tape would be hanging from the ceiling; stamps would be stuck to our monitors in mosaic designs.  Rubber bands seemed shot from one area and sent to another.  It was almost like we were being invaded by childlike minds in the middle of the night.  Or at least intelligent ones, the mosaics proved that.

When I asked my son Zack about these occurrences I received looks of innocence, or looks that told me he was wondering if I was really serious and this was not some kind of joke.

We let it go for a while.  As we saw it there wasn’t much else we could do.  The mischief   only happened at night and there was never any noise for us to be woken from sleep.  We did stay up all night once and hid in the dark corners lest anything arose, but to our great disappointment nothing did.  So we just let it ride.  My curiosity was almost palatable.

That was until Russell began to lose things he had already sold on the internet.  He could no longer find one of his uncirculated ten dollar bills with the radar numbered serial numbers.  The oddities were no longer amusing.  Puzzling yes, but funny?  Not in the least. 

I thought that perhaps we didn’t see anything the night we stayed up because we were awake, or because we were too noisy.  Perhaps whatever was invading our office was aware of the fact and would not show due to the thought of retaliation of some kind.  Yes I was grasping at straws, but I could no longer sit back and do nothing.  My imagination was running away with me and until I had the answer to this dilemma, it would continue to do so. 

The more I thought about it the more I became convinced that we would have to find a way to see into the office while being asleep.  I decided after much thought, that the only way to do this was to set up web cameras or a video camera in places where they wouldn’t stand out, and record the night’s visitors.    It wasn’t as though we didn’t have the technology, and it would be a simple thing to do for anyone.  I only had to figure out the camera angles and then we would capture whatever was going on.

The first night didn’t produce much.  It turned out I was so excited about the prospect of finding out about what was going on that I could not sleep.  The next night proved to be better.  When Russell and I sat down to the computer to watch the nights events I am sure our jaws hung open. 

For there, seemingly appearing out of nowhere, sat a man.  Sort of.  He was little, about a foot and a half tall, thin and had big fox like ears on the top of his head amongst sparse tufts of hair.   He had huge owl like eyes over a small nose and just a hint of a mouth. Thin arms and legs were covered by a shirt and pants that were a patchwork of bits of fabric sewn in big blue stitches.  At first he just sat there as though he was thinking about what to do.  Then gradually he picked at things about the room as though he was trying to figure out what they were or what they were used for.   For a couple of hours he sat with a book upon his lap and I was amazed that he could read our language.  Russell was not impressed when he put a couple of coins in his pocket as he left. 

Where had this little man come from?  More importantly where had he gone?  Who was he and why was he in our house, messing with our things?  How long had he been here?

Days went by and the same kind of things would happen on camera.  Until one day our little man left something for Russell.  It was a drawing he had done of Russell at the computer working.  It was beautiful, done in pencil and was signed Onhim.  So he had a name.  I thought that perhaps the sketch was to make up for the coins he had taken earlier.  Russell had left a rather nasty note demanding their return.  Something I hadn’t encouraged, after all Onhim could step out of seemingly nowhere, who knows what else he was capable of.  By the picture drawn it also seemed as though he could be here in the room with us in the daylight although we couldn’t see him.  This was troubling.  I began to wonder just how much the stranger knew about us.  However I didn’t get the sense that our visitor was malevolent in anyway.  He seemed as curious about us as we were about him.

I began to leave things for our little night visitor.  It wasn’t hard now that I knew he was an artist of sorts.  I set up an easel in the corner of the room and left some paper, pencil crayons and charcoal pencils, and then later some paints.  The result was an amazing array of drawings and paintings.  Creatures that were not of this earth or this dimension, there were fairies with gossamer wings, goblins, what I took to be trolls and amazing elfin beings.  Each surrounded in woods and trees the likes I had never seen before.  Little people made of moss and lichen.  In some of the drawings it was as though they could simply walk out of the paper that held them. 

I left many notes for Onhim, encouraging his drawings, and asking questions about the creatures.  I loved to see what he would come up with day after day.  Onhim came through for Russell too.  Apparently on his side of things, that is to say, where Onhim spends most of his life, coins are quite abundant.  A little purple bag showed up on Russell’s desk one morning full of small gold coins each with a hole in the middle.  All previous discrepancies between the two were forgiven. 

I went to the thrift store to get some clothes for Onhim.  I felt so badly seeing him in tatters.  I found some blue Oshkosh overalls and a couple blue shirts to match.  I didn’t pick up any socks or shoes though.  Every time I had seen him he was barefoot so I thought this must be his preference.  Besides I didn’t think I could find anything small enough, not even in the children’s section. 

I laid these out on the stool in front of his easel.  I was very happy to see these gone the next morning, and a thank-you note left in its place. 

~~:: ~~::

I sit perched upon the end of the bed, watching as the couple drift deeper into slumber.  The one on the right is closer to REM sleep then the woman is.  Her mind seems to be fighting the inevitable waltz with her subconscious.

I am patient, knowing I will soon dine on the delicious creativity that their minds will indulge in.  I am content to let my mind wander over the scents of their sleeping bodies.  I try to identify the origin of each fragrance.   It is the perfume of silken sweat, spent orgasms, the open pores of resting skin which roll over my tongue, enticingly sweet flavors. 

There are others like me.  We are the night watchmen.  Silent and invisible to man’s eye, keeping each night uncluttered of unwanted, unneeded dreams.  While these beings rest and create stories within their minds the dreams draw energy from the dreamer and it is on this that we feed upon.    

The woman enjoys my drawings, even giving me tools so I can bring forth the images that I sometimes see dancing over the heads of these wondrous creatures, these humans.  Her enjoyment is biased however. Originally they came from her.  She is drawn to the images because her subconscious remembers them, and although it is not filtered into her conscious mind, the feeling of familiarity is strong.  It pulls her to them.

I am intrigued by this woman.  Her detailed dreams are vividly colored and her positivity bleeds through them with hints of fruit and nectar.  She would not be so kind and giving with me if she truly knew my role within her domain and my vampiric ways.  Feeding not on blood of the flesh, but on mists of the mind.  If she knew that the creaking wood floorboards in the middle of the night were not due to the temperature changes within the house, or the house settling, but rather signaling my otherwise silent presence.  She would withdraw my welcome, and try to find a way to bar my entry.

He, in his nightly slumber, becomes invisible and flies over the world in first class correcting the wrong doings of evil men.  With saber sword he slashes through flesh, coloring the world red so the innocent may flee.  I watch his violent bloodlust, knowing that it is his primitive brain that seeks such nourishment.  I relish in the taste of such images, they are hot spicy delights.  I devour them and in turn he, during waking hours, can walk the earth safely within society’s confines.  He will not feel the need to spill havoc onto those he loves, or bring chaos into the streets because he has released such things to us. 

Some have called us the night vultures, saying we feed on the garbage that filters through the psyche.  I say we are as necessary to these beings as water, for it is we who drink their secretions.  Unburdening them of unwanted painful memories, and emotions better off not felt.  We provide these services free of charge; expecting nothing in return, only our nightly meals which sustain us. 

We have been here in a symbiotic relationship with these creatures since Mother Earth conjured us to relieve her of the constant excessive energies these beings create and litter her skirts with, and in previous ages, this was enough.

Now we watchmen can no longer keep up with the extreme populations of these beings.  Over the last centuries their numbers have exploded, the latest technologies coming out of the most brilliant minds have humans living past ages meant for the balance of things.  There are not enough of us.  Even with our insatiable appetites the balance is tilting the scales, and Mother, in turn, has begun to clean house. 

Natural disasters, global warming, humans think they have the answers as to why these things are happening.  They don’t.  The truth is we can no longer keep up to them and the way they pollute.  Green house gases?  The true pollution is the violence and negativity these beings thrive on, Mother can no longer tolerate it and survive.  Something is going to have to give and lose the battle.  I can tell you now it will not be Mother, she is too important in the great scheme of things...


  1. Such a great idea conceived into an absorbing read.
    Starts out whimsically mysterious and culminates into self searching questions about how what we deem as ordinary life is having such a devastating inpact on our Psyches - our very soul - powerful words indeed pointing a finger at not just mindless ones but also every self.
    Funny how it seems difficult to not let the reality of the state of world affairs enter the arena of creativity. There is blot on Humanity's copy book which just can not be ignored and needs addressing by examination of our intentions towards Mother because she deserves better.

  2. MJ so good to see you! Thanks so much for your comments... I am often tempted to bring awareness on current issues into my writing in unique ways. I am so glad you enjoyed this one! :)