Judy moved to Fairacres, New Mexico and started gambling after her husband died from stomach cancer 33 years ago. Since then she has spent every day sitting at the penny slots in the Featherhawk Casino, her favorite machine being the egyptian-themed "Pharaoh's Temptress." Judy identifies with the bored look on the temptress' cartoon face peering down from the machine and particularly likes its location in the smoking section. At night she dreams of tobacco and the slight, smooth resistance the slot's shiny side handle gives when pulling.
Day 2: Cynthia-Rose Dozzi
Cyn couldn't help herself around Dr. Sands. She had been working at the hospital for just a few weeks when she met him. She fell in love in an instant. His strong, capable hands. How he ran his fingers through her jet black hair one morning after he told her a joke. How he didn't wince or look uneasy while staring into her eyes, not even the milky white blind one. "Your lucky eye," he would tease her. It wasn't until the day of his car accident that Cyn knew truly how much she loved him. The doctor had lost an eye in the crash and wouldn't be able to perform surgeries anymore. She knew just what to do. She took a scalpel, the sharp one he always asked her for, and removed her right eye, her good eye, in one swift move. Put it on ice and left it on his doorstep. For him. After that, he would see her, his soul mate, finally. She will be a part of him. He will leave his wife finally. He won't be blind to what is here, right in front of him. Right here. They were destined to be together. She is sure of it. She waits and listens from her car across the street as he picks up the bag. Snow falls gently around him on the stoop, a halo. His wife comes out from behind him, kisses his robed shoulder and they return back inside and shut the door. Cyn sits in her car alone, a blanket of fresh white snow covering the windows now. A single crimson tear falls to her lap.
Day 3: Donald Malificent Trump
Donny's most vivid memory of childhood was the Easter his family visited friends in the rural town of Harrisburg, Rhode Island. After the egg hunt he and his older brother Kayle were awarded a cup of hot cocoa and went out back to play. Donny remembers the screams his mother gave when Kayle spilled his boiling cocoa all down his chest after attempting to both hold the mug and try to climb into a netted hammock. Donny remembers the sound of his brother's burning flesh scalding. He remembers the panic and blur of his father ripping Kayle's shirt off and spraying him down with the garden hose. He will never forget seeing his father cry for the first and only time when the doctor explained that the skin would never be the same again. Donny's most favorite moments are at night when everyone is asleep, sitting in his favorite armchair and popping cold grapes into his mouth one by one. His secret time. The pleasure of gently pushing them up to the roof of his mouth with his tongue; he lives for that satisfying squish of popping it. Sometimes he rolls it around in his mouth a bit first. Teasing. A secret chamber.
Day 4: Nosferatu
Count Orlok felt the icy ocean mist coming off the water as the large vessel sliced through the choppy storm. The ship was steadily hurdling through the inky sea and he stood steady and motionless. With barely any effort he steered, the ship's captain's lifeless arm still tied to the steering wheel. The rest of the crew had gone first, drained until their skin became alabaster and puckered or overboard screaming. Empty shoes littered the deck; blood swirled across the wooden floor in patterns and rings around Orlok's feet. He could see Europe on the horizon. Orlok turns his coat collar up against the wind and closes his eyes: imagines all of the continent, envisions a great shadowed claw creeping across it, blanketing it in darkness.
Day 5: Petunia Armstrong
Petunia always loved her father. Nothing brought her more happiness or peace than making him proud. When he told her that no man would love her because of her weight she was grateful. She loved him for being honest with her, for telling her how to world worked. She understood why he gave her extensive workout plans, why he followed her in the car while she ran, shouting at her to go faster, faster. She was elated when he asked her to help him with his latest experiment. He chose HER. He loved her. When she woke up on the operating table her face felt puffy, swollen. She couldn't move yet but she could see her father looking at her through the viewing window of his private lab. She saw his face red and scrunched up like he was angry. Was he mad at her? She tried to call out for him but the bandages muffled her cry. She couldn't feel her fingers. Where were her fingers... Eyes filled with tears she watched him turn away and close the door behind him.
Day 6: Salad Fingers
Hello. I like rusty spoons. I like to touch them. The feeling of rust against my salad fingers is almost orgasmic. I'd like to elect you as my new playmate. I like it when the red water comes out.
Day 7: MJ
Michael arrives to the office late and apologetic as usual. He closes his eyes and lays back, folds his delicate hands over his caved chest. The doctor places the soft, sticky nodes on his pale temples while parroting the same recycled conversation and niceties. The dream life of Michael is obscure, transportative; often takes awhile to register on the complex machine humming softly next to him. Michael dreams in colors indescribable, non-existent. The machine whirs and clicks once again attempting to process. Michael feels sound pulse through him, can see and taste it. He feels strong again in this state, allows his senses to change, to multiply. Effortlessly, without giving it a single thought, he glides through the dream as far as he can reach, feels the world break down into billions and billions of small pieces - cubes morphing and turning inside out and back. The universe. He sees it. A living, breathing, unimaginably complex series of tiny parts all a part of something bigger. He reaches out and feels the cold, disappointing roundness of a medicine bottle. He blinks and forcibly sits back into the plastic-covered clinical chair, the doctor shoving another dose into his relaxed hand. Back in the office. He slowly stands up, thanks the doctor and pulls his hat down tilted below his brow before opening the door and stepping outside to blinding flashes.
Day 8: Joan
The fridge hums tired in the background. Joan sits on the kitchen floor, knees tucked under her chin, arms wrapped around herself. Christmas decorations hang limply around her head. "Just make it to January," she whispers to no one. "Please just make it until then." Every year, January marks the beginning of her rebuild. Joan is strong, resilient; when she remembers this, she pictures herself on a tall horse, raising a sword above her head. Calls herself Joan of Arc in secret. Other nights she stuffs herself full of candy canes and makes herself sick. Every year for Christmas Joan receives a single postcard in the mail. She knows its arrival is inevitable and yet is shocked when it comes. She recognizes its sharp edges, remembers the unexpected weight to it. She holds it for a few minutes before turning it over. She already knows what it will say. The same thing it says every year. She knows the return sender address will be blank. Letters and handwriting familiar. She knows that when she flips it over she will burn to the ground once more. Set ablaze. Like Joan of Arc. She takes a breath. "You are not enough," it reads. And her fire blazes white hot into the night.
Day 9: Danny Nasty
“Oh my god, look dude! The one I was telling you about! I TOLD you, dude...look at that that’s fucking real.” Daniela walks past the shadowed crew men and into the bright lights, squinting, feeling her insides melt red hot. Could feel her heart thumping in her temples. Daniela clutches her prop purse and remembers her real one inside the makeup and dressing room, wonders briefly if she should have hidden it better. Fiddles with the cheap, sparkly red robe she’s been dressed in. Watches a single sweat drop spiral lazily down her pale exposed breast. Her meeting with Mr. Randall went so well yesterday she had spent all night in the mirror, studying her features, soaping her inner thighs carefully. Felt her fingertips graze the backs of her freckled knees: exploring. It was as if it was the first time she was truly seeing herself. “You are unique, you have something I think our clientele will love,” he had told her in his dark, musty office. “Have you ever done anything like this before?” he asked. No, she blushed back, and ran their conversation over and over again in her head on her brisk walk home. “I am unique,” she repeats to herself under her breath, sitting in the faux dentist office. “I am a star.” Daniela sits taller as a tan, muscular man walks onto set in a dentist’s coat, squeezes her thighs together. She watches his eyes get large as he gets closer to shake her hand, sees the disbelief wash over him. “I am unique. I---I mean, I’m Danny. Hi. Danny Nasty.” “Is that so?” he responds. Blows into his large hands and rubs them together: warming. Daniela winches as the cold cement floor touches her knees. Looks up into the blinding lights and smiles.
Day 10: Sunshine
Where did Fancy go? The small terrier was supposed to be under the trailer tied up, but she was not there. Sunshine checked under a few huge wheels before sweeping the giant tent flap to the side and letting it fall heavy back behind her. She took a moment to let her eyes adjust to the darkness and clapped her meaty hands together calling out for the dog. “FAAA-NCY?!” Sunshine hobbled past the trapeze artist chalking her hands, head down. Small, dim string lights swept up high above her to a point. She could smell the floor’s fresh hay and felt empty peanut shells crush under her flat feet. Almost tripped on the clown’s suitcase laid sideways. Sunshine hunched across the ring and towards the backstage cages, knowing it was a matter of steps before she started smelling the manure. Her breath caught in her throat when she heard a faint barking, coming from the opposite direction. She turned around and headed back to the trailers, “FANCY?! FANCYYY!” She stepped out into the open air but couldn’t hear the barking anymore. She could hear something else. Someone else. It sounded like a muffled cry, almost as if they were in pain. A moaning. She saw the ringmaster’s trailer shaking and felt the fear drip ice cold down the backs of her legs. Who was in there? Were they hurt? She stepped closer and heard the ringmaster’s voice now, making a sound she had never heard him make before. Was he ok? She pulled herself up the small two steps of the back of the trailer and reached out for the door when a small, pale yellow ladybug landed on her forearm. She halted. Couldn’t breathe. So beautiful, so perfect. Every dot on it’s shiny back meticulously placed. The hum of its little body vibrating through her skin. Sunshine thought that it might be the most wonderful and terrifying thing she’d ever seen. Saw the twilight sky whirl past her closing eyes as she fell to the ground.
Day 11: E.T.
E.T. holds the food lump in his long, bulbous fingers and turns it over. It is made up of several colors that don’t exist on his planet, one of them pale and dripping hot over his hand, stinging. “Burger!” Elliott exclaims excitedly. “Bur-ger.” E.T. brings it up to his nostrils, eye-level, and isn’t surprised to find himself repulsed. He drops it carelessly and is too distracted to notice Elliott’s disappointed face. He heard something, he is sure of it. He waddles to the high window and elongates his neck - stretches almost a foot taller than his standing height, and peers into the night with his giant lighthouse eyes. The tops of the trees spike wildly giving the forest an ominous feel, silhouetted like lace against the night. E.T. feels a cold glow on his face, can feel the moon watching him. It has something to tell him. He closes his eyes and allows his mind to float upwards, expand into infinity, sailing into the stars and back down again: searching. He hears something, an idea, like a fingernail tapping on a window sill. Insistent, warning.
They are coming.
E.T. let’s out a pip and opens his eyes, reels before focusing in on the bedroom; the baseball poster hanging ripped on the wall, the worn tennis shoe laying sideways underneath the small quilted bed. His eyes turn him around until he focuses on Elliott, bent over, picking up the soft sandwich. E.T. grabs his arm and points to the door.
As they leave, E.T. cranes his neck back and watches the moon through the window, disappearing as the door closes behind them. He pulls the soft blanket up over his bare head. I am coming.
Day 12: Hulk Hogan
Day 12: Hulk Hogan
Thumb scrapes inner palm: ritual. Rubbing over mountainous calluses again and again, feet shifting weight. Terry feels his sock stick inside his tight boots and stomps to quell the itch. He stands in complete darkness, able to know the cold door is a matter of inches away from his face after feeling his breath melt back at him. He hears the sentence before his cue, “You’re FIRED! Get the hell out of my ring!” and bounces his shoulders, shakes out his hands. The familiar sweet smell of fog surrounds him and his pupils dilate, can feel his muscles changing. Long, thick ropes of muscle around his shoulders tighten, pull forward; lowers his face and glares in the darkness through his eyebrows. A low growl bubbles in his stomach. And there it is, “The biggest heavyweight title bout of all time. Andre the Giant to meet…..” His cue. His ears lay back, a prowl takes over him. The doors glide open and the built up fog pours out on an exhale, blanketing him. Blaring guitar thunders all around him, warm air blasts up from behind him as a deafening roar overtakes the stadium. Hulk feels the ground shake with thunderous stomping and the air of hundreds of thousands of throats and voices tearing back at him. He feels himself extend into infinity. A God among men. A real American. Terry stays in the darkness as Hulk steps into the light.
Day 13: Bonzo
Day 13: Bonzo
Sweet, sticky juices drip and flow quickly down gnarled finger tips and knuckles. Bonzo squeezes the pomegranate harder, sees the vibrant pink meat gasp and bleed outside the fruit's skin. Bored, she drops it and watches it roll across the metal floor and around, lopsided, stumbling out past the large metallic cage rods. Bonzo watches as the mangled fruit falls to the grass, just outside her reach. She extends her great, strong black arm out to it, pushing her shoulder up against the cold bars, tilts her face to the side attempting to grab it. She gives another push but stops instantly, holds her breath, stops just short of the fruit. Her eyes widen and her hand glows, illuminated by a single ray of light. Bonzo turns her heavy hand over and over examining it. Warm. The moment hangs in the air, suspended.
In a loud sigh the bars suddenly rush upwards: WOOSH. Bonzo backs quickly into the corner of the cage startled, frozen. Sits in silence, listening. Listening. She finally creeps forward, shifts her weight forward onto her huge hands. Feels soft, green floor beneath her knuckles for the first time. It's shocking. She takes a full step forward now, hears the cage shut behind her, feels the wetness of the pomegranate beneath her foot as she walks forward, lifts her face into the light, closes her eyes and lets out a low wail.
Day 14: Dyah Beetis
Heart racing, Dyah pulls the covers up over her head. Smiling in the darkness, lying face up, she thumbs over the sticky, smooth clock face of the round peppermint. Feels the sheet rise and fall tented over her nose with her hot breath. The ladies at the Quillian Library Association sure new how to throw a party but Dyah had ducked out early, grabbing a fist full of Sweet N Low on her way out, anxious to get home to solitude. Dyah slowly pops the mint into her mouth, turns it over and over until the edges melt. Sharp now. A shield. She rubs the little pink packet between her sweaty palms and ever so gently tears it open, hears herself let out a soft coo. Lets the fine white powder fall to her pale belly. A warmth begins, moves down down down. Sticky fingers explore, implore further down: spreading, discovering. Dyah reaches under her pillow and plucks out the delicate, glassy lollipop. Unwraps it and lets it dance across her skin before entering; twisting and popping in and out. Eats the hidden bubblegum once she gets to the center.
Day 15: Lusus Naturae
The first time they went out she didn't expect much. Connecting over shared work maybe, but nothing much. But as the night progressed, sitting across from him in the dimly lit Thai restaurant, she realized that this was different. Maybe it was that he ordered hot dogs in his pad Thai, or maybe it was the way he tenderly slipped the entire dog down his throat in one gentle push, then licked each finger tip. Maybe it was the way he held his hand to his chest every time he took a bite. The way he tilted his head back when he laughed. Whatever it was, she was hooked. Days turned into weeks into months: after that dinner they were inseparable. Early morning games of "dead body" where they practice how they will rescue the other if unconscious during a fire. Late night games of "hamster cage" where they scurry around the bed, uncontrollably giggling, legs caught between sheets between arms between glances of disbelief of ecstatic play. Months turns to years and for years he begged her for a pet, for an animal to care for. One white Christmas morning he unwrapped a tiny four-legged creature, let the wrapping paper fall to his pajama'd legs. Struck by the weight of responsibility she finally allowed, he gave the beast a home on top of his head and keeps it there. Pets it when he's sad.
In truth, none of her previous entanglements ever allowed her to breathe. One time, in piano class, her teacher told her she was a monster. Ever since then she hid herself, scared that someone would see who she really was. A monstrosity.
The day he walked in on her sharpening her teeth he watched from the bathroom doorway, saw her through the mirror's reflection. Fell in love with her in an instant. Loved her long, claw-like hands. Saw her as a flame, white hot to the touch, and yearned to fan them and see how much intense heat he could stand.
One night, listening to his breath rise and fall softly in the darkness, she realized that he was the first to really see her. And he was the first she wanted to let see.
A melding of sorts, two individuals, two mutants, becoming one greater monster. In sleep their shapes become indistinguishable.
Day 16: Diane Finestein
Diane Finestein wants to speak to your manager immediately. There was a small puddle of water forming underneath the shiny, wrapped up rose bunches out front of the grocery store and she almost slipped and injured her already inflamed sciatica. Also it is incredibly inconsiderate and disturbing for you to be selling granny smith apples in open air like this, so close to public contact. Diane’s many, many medications have caused side effects including: unusual hair growth, glass bones, excessive saliva production, a song stuck in her head, some loss of eyesight at night, and severe allergy to granny smith apples. Where is your Windex aisle? Also you simply must do something about your shopping carts; after Diane painstakingly disinfected her entire cart she discovered that one of the wheels is a block. The cart pushes in circles. Due to the imperfection Diane easily could have been thrown off the cart and sent hurtling into an aisle, breaking her hips and knocking the entire aisle into the next, causing a domino effect across the store and killing hundreds of infants. Diane opted for a hand-held basket instead, saving you from a huge potential lawsuit on your hands. It takes her another 15 minutes to disinfect it before her shopping can begin. She makes a wide arc around the store to avoid contact with the shiny, green granny smiths. Fills her basket to the brim with gauze and ear plugs. Diane freezes, grimacing when she hears someone sneeze across the store. Drops the basket to the floor and speed walks out of the store, shaking her head NO over and over and over.
Diane leaves in a huff, muttering under her breath how disgusted she is. The produce-stocking boy heading inside the store almost runs her over with a dolly stacked with boxes of granny smith apples and she almost faints. Diane sees the handicap tag dangling in her mirror getting closer as she flails through the parking lot and begins writing her strong-worded complaint letter in her head.