bloodteethandflame

A life in threes

Tag: relentless

Mindf***, or Quite Possibly One of the Most Unsettling Stories I’ve Ever Read.

And mind you, I consider myself an aficionado of terrifying stories.

Whether they be urban legends, classic literature, folk tales, modern horror fiction, or creepypasta… I’ve often said that there is nothing better than a good suspense story.

I thrill at reading anything I can get my hands on that could give me a good scare – and I especially love the weeks leading up to Halloween/Samhain for this exact reason.

But about a week or so ago, I came across this story through The Line-Up, one of the many weekly email post-lists to which I’ve subscribed.

And ever since, especially whenever I’m out walking my dogs in the evening, my mind never fails to wander back to this haunting little tale – the 10th and final entry on this list – from blue_tidal:

The Smiling Man

About five years ago I lived downtown in a major city in the US. I’ve always been a night person, so I would often find myself bored after my roommate, who was decidedly not a night person, went to sleep. To pass the time, I used to go for long walks and spend the time thinking.

I spent four years like that, walking alone at night, and never once had a reason to feel afraid. I always used to joke with my roommate that even the drug dealers in the city were polite. But all of that changed in just a few minutes of one evening.

It was a Wednesday, somewhere between one and two in the morning, and I was walking near a police patrolled park quite a ways from my apartment. It was a quiet night, even for a week night, with very little traffic and almost no one on foot. The park, as it was most nights, was completely empty.

I turned down a short side street in order to loop back to my apartment when I first noticed him. At the far end of the street, on my side, was the silhouette of a man, dancing. It was a strange dance, similar to a waltz, but he finished each “box” with an odd forward stride. I guess you could say he was dance-walking, headed straight for me.

Deciding he was probably drunk, I stepped as close as I could to the road to give him the majority of the sidewalk to pass me by. The closer he got, the more I realized how gracefully he was moving. He was very tall and lanky, and wearing an old suit. He danced closer still, until I could make out his face. His eyes were open wide and wild, head tilted back slightly, looking off at the sky. His mouth was formed in a painfully wide cartoon of a smile. Between the eyes and the smile, I decided to cross the street before he danced any closer.

I took my eyes off of him to cross the empty street. As I reached the other side, I glanced back … and then stopped dead in my tracks. He had stopped dancing and was standing with one foot in the street, perfectly parallel to me. He was facing me but still looking skyward. Smile still wide on his lips.

I was completely and utterly unnerved by this. I started walking again, but kept my eyes on the man. He didn’t move.

Once I had put about half a block between us, I turned away from him for a moment to watch the sidewalk in front of me. The street and sidewalk ahead of me were completely empty. Still unnerved, I looked back to where he had been standing to find him gone. For the briefest of moments I felt relieved until I noticed him. He had crossed the street, and was now slightly crouched down. I couldn’t tell for sure due to the distance and the shadows, but I was certain he was facing me. I had looked away from him for no more than 10 seconds, so it was clear that he had moved fast.

I was so shocked that I stood there for some time, staring at him. And then he started moving toward me again. He took giant, exaggerated tip toed steps, as if he were a cartoon character sneaking up on someone. Except he was moving very, very quickly.

I’d like to say at this point I ran away or pulled out my pepper spray or my cellphone or anything at all, but I didn’t. I just stood there, completely frozen as the smiling man crept toward me.

And then he stopped again, about a car length away from me. Still smiling his smile, still looking to the sky.

When I finally found my voice, I blurted out the first thing that came to mind. What I meant to ask was, “What the fuck do you want?!” in an angry, commanding tone. What came out was a whimper, “What the fuu … ?”

Regardless of whether or not humans can smell fear, they can certainly hear it. I heard it in my own voice, and that only made me more afraid. But he didn’t react to it at all. He just stood there, smiling.

And then, after what felt like forever, he turned around, very slowly, and started dance-walking away. Just like that. Not wanting to turn my back to him again, I just watched him go, until he was far enough away to almost be out of sight. And then I realized something. He wasn’t moving away anymore, nor was he dancing. I watched in horror as the distant shape of him grew larger and larger. He was coming back my way. And this time he was running.

I ran too.

I ran until I was off of the side road and back onto a better lit road with sparse traffic. Looking behind me then, he was nowhere to be found. The rest of the way home, I kept glancing over my shoulder, always expecting to see his stupid smile, but he was never there.

I lived in that city for six months after that night, and I never went out for another walk. There was something about his face that always haunted me. He didn’t look drunk, he didn’t look high. He looked completely and utterly insane. And that’s a very, very scary thing to see.*

– from user blue_tidal on Occult Museum

~~~

Perhaps I felt haunted by this, as I have the same habit as blue_tidal: I’ve long been known for my habit of going for long walks at night – whether out of boredom or sheer restlessness – and despite the enduring nature of this quirk of mine, I’d completely lost my desire to go out walking alone after dark.

~~~~

* However, after sharing this piece with a close friend of mine, she asked if it would help any if I reframed my fear by thinking of the Smiling Man as Loki.

I had to laugh.

Hence that is where the Mindfuck portion of this post’s title comes from – because I can definitely see Loki as having an aspect to Him wherein He might mess with someone’s head in a hauntingly similar and relentless manner.

You know — just because He can.

O.o

Month for Loki Day 13: Seeing, and Being Seen.

When I first decided to attend a Loki ritual for April Fool’s Day 2012, I was scared shitless.

 

Partly because of my social anxiety, and partly because I’d heard that – sometimes – these rituals could bring Him to you…

… And I’ll be honest:

I had a few nightmares that He’d reject me in some incredibly publicly humiliating way.

 

If not that, then I feared that everyone there would suddenly know that I didn’t belong, or something.

I felt sick to my stomach with worry and panic.

I am ashamed to admit to what I thought would happen, even now.  My stomach knots up just thinking about it.

So there was the infinite battle between my self-doubt and fear, versus my desire to know, to experience the Divine.

You see, for the first year after I decided to embrace the situation I was in, I both hungered for and feared interaction with other Lokeans, as well as interaction with Loki himself.

Going to that ritual was an act of pushing myself out of a comfort zone on so many levels.

But I really felt that I had to go.  I felt that I owed it to Him that I should go.  It seemed to me to be exactly the sort of thing that He would want.

Well, Loki…and of course, Eleanor Roosevelt:

“We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot do.”

And when I got there, I was a wreck.

I was feeling such a bizarre mix of emotions.

To this day, I don’t know how much of it was me, how much it was possible empathic overload from those present, and how much of it was the Divine.

I felt itchy and irritable and grateful and terrified.

Everyone was so welcoming, and friendly.

But I was trying to hold myself in reserve.  I felt like I was leaking my emotions all over the place.

It was as it was in my social anxiety nightmares — I felt as if everyone could sense what best could be described as my wild energy leakage (!) and that they were uncomfortable with me.

I kept checking myself:

Am I talking too much?  

Am I enjoying myself?

 How do I feel?

Am I acting weird? (Hell, I ‘m *feeling* weird.   I am terrified.  I am happy.  I am confused.  I feel a bit dizzy.  I am uncomfortable.  I am hungry.  Something is poking me.**  I’m having trouble focusing/listening/sitting still.  OK, that *is* weird)

And so, all the while I was analyzing this incredible tangle of thoughts I was having, as I went and introduced myself.

It was exhausting and exhilarating and so very strange for me.

And I was OK.

But most importantly, I stayed and I didn’t cry or throw up or say anything too inappropriate, and I think that I came across as normal.  (Well, mostly.)

I remember being nervous and uncoordinated about what to do with my hands during the invocation and hailing as we stood in the circle, but thankfully no one noticed or cared about my lack of ritual form.

I was really moved by the mask creation portion.

I still remember most of what I scribbled in my tiniest block handwriting all down each side of that face that I made for myself.  I wrote:

I cannot see under the right eye of the mask. (That is my lazy eye, which really doesn’t physically see very well)

I want to see.
I am frightened.
I am nervous.
I feel unworthy
(And several other negative aspects/attributes written)

I want to move beyond this.  I am blinded by these (obstacles written)

Under my left eye (my seeing eye), I wrote:

I can see.
I want to be seen.
I am grateful.
I am thankful.
(Other positive attributes written)

I want to continue to see.  I want to remember/recognize these (positive aspects/attributes written) in myself and others.

In the middle of the mask, I wrote a few phrases that drew upon both left and right.

On the side of the mask that faces out, I wrote some things about myself that I allow others to see and know about me.

On the side of the mask facing in, I wrote some things that I see and know about myself that I choose to hide.

Initially I’d made the eye opening very small on the right side to represent all that I couldn’t see.   After I’d finished writing, however, I cut out the edges of the right eye so that the two openings were even.

I realize now that it was sort of a wish, or a prayer for more balance between the left and the right.

—-

The other lovely thing about the ritual was that one could choose to hold onto their mask and make an offering of it on one’s own altar at home, or the mask itself could be burned as an offering.

I liked the concept of the burning the mask as a recognition and a release –  more than to hold onto it as a recognition and a reminder -of the masks that one wears.

When I burned the mask, I had trouble getting the paper to burn.

I remember that I had to push the paper quite far into the flames before it caught.

I recall looking down and wondering idly if I would have to reach so far in that my sleeve would catch fire in the process.

And, you know what happened next?

As I was pushing the paper forward, my thumb brushed – and briefly stuck to a bright orange ember, which, not surprisingly, caused me just enough pain to get me to finally let go of the paper.

I’ve got this.

As I watched the mask being consumed by the flames, I  rubbed my thumb, wondering if it would blister.

But thankfully, it never did.

But if it had, I would’ve seen it as my first object lesson…of which He might have quipped:

Ah, I see that you have an inability to let go.

~~~~

When I was a little girl, my Nana (a devout Irish Catholic) would try to ensure my good behavior by reminding me that God could see me always, but as you may have guessed, I wanted so desperately *not* to be seen.

Oh, if only I could run.  If only I could hide …

~~~

In June 2011, I decided to stop running.

And in April 2012, I decided that I would make an effort to stop hiding.

I will admit that I still have my moments, but despite them, He is relentless.

And I am thankful for that.

I see you.

And in that, I make this grateful prayer:

Hail Loki!

Thank You for Your patience with me, Oh Relentless One.

Thank You for seeing me.

 

 

~~~

** I swear, I felt like something was poking me. THAT WAS WEIRD.