Revolution (excerpt) by tara caribou

The following is an excerpt of my short story: Revolution, which you can find in the anthology Static Dreams Volume One. Inside you’ll find nine dark and twisted stories written by some amazing authors. I hope you enjoy this little snippet.


Mark remembered the day he found himself here. That morning, so many mornings ago, had started normal for a sunny summer day. He was nine or ten, he couldn’t actually remember that part. Since school was out, he woke without an alarm and quietly pulled on a pair of moderately clean shorts and a rumpled t-shirt from his bedroom floor. He tiptoed past mom and dad’s bedroom and made his way outside. There was a creek at the end of their street and he spent most of his waking hours there when he wasn’t back home grabbing food or checking in with mom. Even now, he wished he could remember their names, his parents. But kids never cared much for things like that and here he was years later wishing he at least had that part of them to hold.

He recalled tossing sticks into the creek and trying to guess which would reach the little waterfall first. He recalled the sun warm on his back. He recalled the sky turning a bright crimson fading to purple and feeling overwhelmingly tired and a pressure behind his eyes. Falling to his knees and sleeping. He recalled waking up in an unfamiliar wood with a sky that was a little too lavender and a smell that smelled just a little off from what he had always known. He now knew the smell came from the Worker Class and their strange unclean ways. Back then, he just knew that he wasn’t home anymore.

He had sat up in an alien forest. He appeared to be on a wide trail of sorts, thin vines and grass wrapped around his arms and legs loosely, like a soft cocoon. Soon he heard talking. Looking about he finally saw them round a bend. There were four of them. A large rabbit, probably two feet tall. A mouse nearly as big. Something that was like a dog, it took him a while to remember they were called bulldogs. And then a badger. He didn’t know if it was big or little, it was about the same size as the others. It wasn’t their size that was as remarkable as the fact they were talking and that he could understand them.

The four animals stopped when they noticed Mark sitting there, gently unwrapping the foliage from his limbs. They exchanged glances with one another. The mouse dropping its head and shaking it while muttering, “not another one”. The rabbit hopped forward a couple hops closer and turned its head in a peculiar way, looking him over. With a single nod of its head, he stretched forth one paw and said in a kind voice. “Where are you from, friend?” “You…. you can talk?” had been Mark’s reply. The rabbit glanced back at the others and then at him again. “We can talk. But it’s not safe here. You shouldn’t be here. You don’t belong here…” The bulldog interrupted, “we need to leave. You know what happens next, if they find us.” The others nodded in agreement.

“Wait!” Mark called, as the four turned to leave the way they came. “Where am I? Who are you?” The rabbit only shook its head sadly prophesying, “I’m so sorry you have come here. It shan’t be easy for you now. No not at all.” Then turning, the four made their way swiftly back down the trail. Whispering amongst themselves and clearly in a hurry to put distance between the boy and them. Mark pulled his knees to his chest and wrapping his arms about his legs, began to cry softly.

He had stuck around the general area all that day, exploring very little, hoping that the creatures would come back and explain things to him. As evening fell, he began to get a little scared. Not of the dark, but of the unknown. He missed mom. He was hungry. And he was alone. Sometimes he thought he could hear whispers at the edge of his hearing but when he called out, there came no reply. Then just as the first stars began to appear, he heard a “psst!” nearby. Looking about himself, he caught the white stripes of the badger. “Psst!” it growled again. Mark crawled over to it. “Follow me,” the badger whispered. He did as he was told, moving quietly as he observed the badger doing the same. Shortly they came to a small rock wall and at the base a narrow entrance to a cave. It quickly grew dark as they navigated deeper into the cave but Mark had put his hand on the badger’s back and trusted it enough to continue following it through the cave.

Minutes passed before they suddenly halted. There were the sounds of a key turning in a lock, followed by a dim light flooding the narrow passageway as the door was pushed open. They crossed the threshold and closed the door behind them. The badger sighed with audible relief. “I’m sorry for all the secrecy but these are dangerous times in our land and I am sorry that you have made your way here to witness it.” It busied itself at the small fireplace, adding a few more logs and stoking the flames up a bit. Then it lit a few oil lamps and gestured for Mark to sit on the rug in front of the glowing fire. Reaching into a small box, the badger removed a sausage and a wheel of cheese. From an open cupboard, it pulled out a round loaf of bread and set all three things in front of him. Mark ate nearly all of it before his hunger was tamed. The badger handed him a small flask which it said was thulaberry wine. Mark didn’t know what that was, but it tasted a little like grape juice soda only not as sweet.

The badger sat in a worn wooden rocking chair and lit a stone pipe, the white smoke curling as it rose to the ceiling, which Mark just now realized was dirt and he could see a few roots poking down into the chamber. He scooted a little closer to the fire. A few minutes passed before the badger spoke again. “I brought you here because I read in my leaves this afternoon that I was to bring you here and give you the Seeing Herb. This is all I know or can tell you. The herb will tell you the rest. I wish I could let you sleep first but I really don’t know how much time I have.” It motioned with a claw to a small shelf above the mantel. On it rested an ornate clay box. Mark pulled it down, briefly noticing the intricate green leaves and flowers inlaid within its surface, and handed it to the badger, who opened it and pinched a small grape-sized clump between its claws. “Chew on this, don’t swallow. Chew until there’s nothing left. Swallow the juices.” Mark did as he was told, completely trusting the strange creature. The dried plant, which he noticed was a blueish green and appeared to have golden threads coming off it and covered in silver crystals, tasted like the forest and something more. An almost bitter flavor without being off-putting. He chewed and chewed, swallowing his spit when he needed to.

At first he had felt a pleasant peacefulness fall over him. This was followed by a clarity in his surroundings. He noticed the different colors of the dirt floor and ceiling, the flames of the hearth casting dancing shadows, the smell of the badger’s pipe. Trinkets and bottles and dried flowers rested upon every available ledge. His gaze was drawn to the badger’s whiskers as it puffed on its pipe, eyes closed, until looking up, where he watched the smoke gently curling above their heads. He lay back, arms crossed behind his neck, and watched entranced.

The smoke began to move in different ways and he found that he was seeing shapes which materialized into definite forms and then complete scenes. He watched as if a movie played before him unfolding. And he learned.


I hope you enjoyed this teaser into the history behind Mark’s revolution. You can read the entire short story in the book.

tara caribou | ©2020-22


Purchase the book at lulu (paperback), Kindle, Barnes and Noble.

Sometimes Life Does

Ray-ray always took extra care when preparing to meet Danny. She used to primp and preen, addressing each curl with precision and care. The dark dreads would stand straight out if she let them. But Danny was worth it. She would apply the hair cream to each strand meticulously. Afterwards, she slicked her full lips using a dark lipstick which she hoped would entice him just so.

She would check her teeth for stray particles before popping a stick of gum in her mouth, because she wanted her breath smelling minty or fruity or cinnamony, not like last night’s tacos. She would smudge dark stain on each eyelid and a thin layer of mascara, each lash carefully attended to.

Danny was worth it. Danny was the light in Ray-ray’s eyes. He didn’t care if her skin was the color of dark mocha. He didn’t care if she was poor. He didn’t care about the size of her house or if she had gas in her car. Danny said he liked her husky voice and the way her lips moved when she talked. They would talk for hours.

He would tell her about work and life at his house. About love past and the future he saw for himself, the future he would make happen. And Ray-ray hung on his every word. Believed every syllable and exclamation point. She danced on his infectious laughter and wrapped her arms around his engaging whispers.

Ray-ray loved Danny more than she ever loved anyone ever. He was the epitome of perfection in her dark brown eyes. Oh, she knew he wasn’t perfect, per se, no, but he was perfect for her. He made mistakes. He could sometimes be distant. But she overlooked the little flaws because they were unimportant to who he really was, inside. Every day, she ached to hold him in her arms. Every day, she ached to know he felt the same way about her.

He didn’t.

Danny cared deeply for Ray-ray, she knew. She was his friend. Probably his best friend. The one who understood him more than any other person on this spinning globe. Danny cared about her, yes, but he did not love her. She knew that he never would. Secretly, when she was alone in the dark, Ray-ray let herself cry quietly. She let herself dream about a day when Danny would speak to her, all emotion flowing: I love you Ray-ray. You’re the only woman I desire, the only one I need, the only one I want… Of course, she knew, in her heart, Danny would never say that. She knew it because she knew him.

Still, she wanted to look her best for him, so that he would see how much he mattered to her, without always saying it verbally. She showed him every way she knew how, that he was important and amazing and talented and intelligent and wonderful and she believed in him and and and…

It wasn’t an act, for her. It wasn’t fake. It was all honest truth. Her truth. Danny was… the best thing that had ever happened in her life. And she wanted to show him how much he meant to her every chance she got.

One day, Ray-ray sat and waited for Danny. She waited all morning. She waited all through lunch. She waited into evening. Danny never came. She worried because Danny had never done anything like this before. In fact, she never heard from him ever again. She still gets ready, at the appropriate time, their time, the time they had always spent together. But he never comes.

Ray-ray doesn’t cry only in the dark anymore.


tara caribou | ©2019-2022 revised

Happiness is…

…when you get a beautiful little note from a friend in the mail unexpectedly.

This makes me smile. I love bunnies and this cute little rabbit made my weekend. 🥰 ~tara

The Dreaming Rain

on a mild and drizzly afternoon
curled up on the porch swing
my cheek resting upon my wrist
creak-creak, creak-creak
gently swaying
rain pounding down the roof
grey clouds pregnant to bursting
thunder boom, I smile

it’s the aching memories
the timber of your voice
caressing me and
how I long for your body
pressed against my skin and
your fingers threading my hair

as our lips hungrily
clash and join and mold together
our tongues thrusting, slithering
breaths in ragged gasps and sighs
my name, yours overlapping

two become one
nostrils flaring, the scent of us
flesh on ravenous flesh
sliding together just as easily as
the rain slips noiselessly
down the saturated roof

boom-boom-boom
creak-creak sigh

then your voice calls
through the screened window
I smile, new memories to be made
the dreaming rain can wait


tara caribou | ©2022 revised from my original poem “down the eaves”

Cotton Candy Trance

head on sand, I absorb ambience
eyelids flutter, salty breeze feathers my skin
gulls wheel and cry, waves caress shore
curling over, rolling under
churning then pulling away
the motion rocks and soothes me
romances me, dreamsqueezes

open eyes, I gaze into the heavens
wispy cotton candy clouds, take their time
spread, reform, color the sky
beyond them a blue expanse spreads wide
blue in blue
focusing in, the blue deepens
behind it I sense inky blackness

something about it draws a sigh
I long for you
wish you were here with me
beside me, fingers braided
toes lightly touching

for a moment I ‘vision you
over there, far away, grass-laying
just as I am on the sand
together, both staring into the future
ours, far above, into the black beyond
watching the clouds, listening to the world

everything pauses, trance engages
weightless, my body lifts

I’m flying up up up soaring and
there you are too! and our hands stretch
fingertips touch
grasp each other’s wrists, gripping tightly
my eyes search yours and
our lips touch and we’re
suddenly spinning and the tighter we hold
the faster we spin
inertia ripping us apart as
love glues us together and
we’re flying right through a cloud
raindrops sticking to our skin

and suddenly
cold grabs ahold of my ankles
and breath penetrates lungs
eyes burst open, chest heaving
I observe receding wave
perceive soft sand beneath
singular desolate tear slips

just one more salty drop
for my own private ocean


tara caribou | ©2022

Discounts on Books through May 6th

Over the last few years I’ve had the great honor of getting to publish multiple authors and their books. It’s truly been such a pleasure and my great joy to do so.

With that in mind, I’d like to remind you of some of these books and also to give you a coupon code you can use only at lulu for 15% off any printed books. I hope you’ll check a few out!


Poetry

  • Growl from the Sun by Braeden Michaels
  • The War for Solace by V.R. McKoy
  • Galdr: Thought + Memory by Michael Raven
  • Memoirs of an Addicted Mind by John A. Graser
  • A Fistful of Ponies by Dan Provost

Poetry and Art/Photography

  • Euphoria in Blue by tara caribou
  • Derecho by J Matthew Waters
  • Eyes See Soul by Jhanjhri Shah
  • Creation and the Cosmos (anthology)
  • The Invisible Exhibitionist by emje mccarty

Short Stories

  • Tangled Together by emje mccarty
  • The Shadows of Blackout Island (anthology)
  • The Hawthorne Project (anthology)

As always, you can check out the complete list with all links on the Published Works page. Please give a few of these talented authors a read or visit their respective websites. ~tara caribou

Available Now – The Invisible Exhibitionist by emje mccarty

Raw Earth Ink is proud to present emje mccarty’s newest book, The Invisible Exhibitionist.

Artist and author emje mccarty spent two years digging introspectively into her heart and mind, inking a self-portrait each day within her intimate private journals. With the clarity of hindsight and personal growth, she shares her feelings, observations, anxieties, depressions, passions, anger, angst, and sorrows through poetry as well as vibrant emotionally-stirring inkings.

A couple of my personal favorites are:

I hope you’ll consider picking up a copy of emje’s book. It’s a true work of art which would love to live on a coffee table where friends can easily pick it up and enjoy. Photos just don’t do this amazing book justice. Available only in paperback at lulu or signed copies directly from the author.


© 2022 | emje mccarty – You can also find her previous books Confusion Perfume and Other Neurotic Comics and Tangled Together on the Published Works page as well as directly from emje.

Just a Dog Named Ripple

Ripple was the type of dog you don’t easily forget. She had showed up one early-summer morning through my back gate and right on to my back porch as if she’d always lived here. I was sitting at the dining table, drinking my first cup of black coffee and working on my second sudoku. Catching movement from the corner of my eye, I turned to see a small wire-haired terrier of some sort self-assuredly making her way up the path in the lawn, two steps up and onto the porch. She sat down and stared at me through the mesh of the screen door.

“Hey girl,” I sweet-talked her and stood to greet her. I noticed her dingy pink collar with a single silver bone-shaped name tag hanging from the loop, along with about two inches of very rusty thin chain. Her fur, a salt-and-pepper mix, was matted and filthy. One ear stood almost upright while the other flopped in a perfect triangle button. She was much too thin but had a distended belly. When I spoke, her head tipped to the side just a little and she closed her mouth for a moment before she began quietly panting again. Her bright eyes were alert and friendly.

“Are you lost?” I opened the screen door and stepped out. The very tip of her tail thumped on the faded wooden deck. I knelt before her and slowly extended my hand. She shied a little but held her ground. Okay, no petting. “May I see your tag?” I asked gently. She stopped panting and I carefully reached for her tag. RIPPLE, it read. No number, no address. Just, RIPPLE. “Hi Ripple!” I said cheerfully. Ripple stood up and trotted back out of my yard, beyond the fence, to the back alley. I hoped she was going back to her home. If she had a home…

Two days later, I heard a small whine from the porch and once again saw Ripple sitting there. Still dirty and too thin. “Good morning, Ripple!” I greeted her. Her tail thumped twice. “Would you like a drink?” She cocked her head again. I pulled a small ceramic bowl from the cupboard, filled it with tap water, and set it outside. Ripple drank it all noisily, water splashing out onto the wooden planks. I refilled it and she finished most of the bowl, turned around, and leisurely made her way to the back alley again. I filled the bowl with fresh water and left it out on the porch.

After that morning, Ripple began to visit regularly. Every day or two she would show up, with a little whine to let me know she was there, drank her bowl of water (or two), and when I began leaving a small bowl filled with ground-up raw meat and pumpkin, she ate that too. Ripple was polite. She never barked, never overstayed her welcome, never invited herself inside or relieved herself in my yard. After about three weeks, she let me give her a little scratch on the rump or her chest. For just a moment she’d lean into my hand and her eyes would close for a moment before she’d stand up and take her leave again.

One morning I noticed Ripple’s distended tummy was thin. Had she been pregnant? The following morning I noticed her nipples were inflamed and her glands were bigger. Indeed she must have had puppies. Puppies! I asked Ripple about it but she only thumped her tail a few times and left without saying yes or no. This time, though, I turned out the lights in the kitchen and dining room and stood back from the door, in the shadows, and waited. Sure enough, not ten minutes later, I saw Ripple’s nose cautiously peek around the edge of the fence. She stood a moment, staring at my back door. I held my breath. Could she see me?

Tip-toeing into my yard, the little dog went to a large heavy rose bush in the corner of the garden and squeezed into the branches and thorns. I thought I could hear little squeaks and whimpers. A few minutes later Ripple quietly snuck out again. Over the following days, I observed her coming and going quite a few times. I wondered where else she went when she left. I took some straw and squeezed my way into the thorny bush, seeing three little grey mutts curled up together. I spread the hay as well as I could, making a little nest around them while trying not to wake them up. The following morning, Ripple seemed to thank me for the gift by setting one paw on top of my knee as I knelt by her for our morning ritual. I told her she was a good mama.

When we were well into summer, Ripple surprised me one morning. I sat on the top step with my coffee cup beside me and a comb in one hand, as I intended to sit there in the shade and comb out my hair after she left. Ripple sat down next to me, thumped her tail, and looked pointedly at the comb. I explained what it was and what I was going to use it for. She looked at me with those sparkling eyes and then back at the comb. She silently woofed. No sound, just the motion of it. “Would you like me to brush you, Ripple?” Now would be the time she’d normally get up and take her leave. Today, though, she looked into my eyes again. It was as if she were asking me to, maybe just this once, pamper her.

I couldn’t refuse my friend. I took the comb and gently tried to brush her chest. It wasn’t easy, she was so filthy and it had been so long since she had been brushed, clearly. She didn’t move. I kept at it. Sometimes switching where I used the comb, so as to not make her skin raw. I couldn’t believe she let me brush her for a full thirty minutes then she stood up, shook off, and walked down the path. Before reaching the fence, she turned back to look at me, something she had never done before, wagged her tail, then left through the open gate.

After that, Ripple let me brush her a little each morning, in addition to our scratches. Soon her fur began to look pretty good, for a street dog. Then the puppies got older and began to tumble and play in the backyard. They were nearly as aloof as their mother. Each would allow me to give them a small pet, but only for a moment. None of them were aggressive. I watched and wondered what I should do with them. They weren’t my pets. They were Ripple’s puppies. I saw a difference. But I also wanted to be responsible. I asked Ripple one morning about it. She looked up at me and wagged her tail and then left.

The next day I realized there were only two puppies. I looked all over for the biggest one. Had it wandered off? I worried. Ripple didn’t seem worried. Two days later, another puppy disappeared. This time I cried. I felt it was somehow my fault. I should have found them homes. I walked around the neighborhood but never did see them. A week later, the last puppy, the smallest of the three, disappeared. Ripple, for her part, showed no anxiety.

Is this how it is, then? Could it be she doesn’t really care for her own puppies? Or is she so jaded with her hard life that she resigned herself to the loss and keeps going on? I had no answers. Shortly after the last puppy disappeared, so did Ripple. Day after day, I waited for her. Her food and water dishes remained untouched.

I felt empty. I had come to look forward to our mornings together. Her brown eyes and dirty black and grey fur with its wiry touch and haphazard style. The way she only wagged her tail two or three times. She was her own dog. Her spirit was kind and thoughtful. Ripple had touched my soul.

It was mid-autumn and I was walking around the neighborhood, as I often did for exercise and fresh air, when I caught sight of a little dark grey terrier puppy in a front yard, playing with a teenage boy and a younger boy, maybe nine or ten. They laughed as the pup clumsily ran after a stick, tripping, picking it up and carrying it back, its head pulled off to one side as the stick dragged in the grass. Was it…? Could it be…? My pace quickened and then I called out a hello. They stopped playing with the pup and came to sidewalk. “May I ask where you got your puppy?”

The teen laughed and answered exuberantly. “It was the craziest thing; this mom-dog shows up at our door and yipped and whined until my mom came out. There she was with this one next to her. The mom-dog sat down and whined, looking at my mom and then to this puppy. Mom said it was like she was asking her to take it, so she did. Just picked him up and the dog wagged her tail and walked down the driveway and down the street. We named him Jackson!” I had no response. I thanked the young man and turned to continue on my way when he called out.

“You know what else? We weren’t the only ones! Old Mrs. Appleton two houses across,” and here he pointed to said house while continuing, “she said the same thing happened to her! So she’s got Jackson’s sister! Isn’t that the coolest?!” I agreed and continued, completely awestruck.

It didn’t take long to find out Ripple had found a home for the third one as well, two streets up from mine. I was blown away. Ripple had taken care of her pups in the best way she could. She found them homes. And not just any home. Good homes. Loving homes. Once more I marveled at how much she touched my heart.

Just as winter began, with the lightest dusting of snow covering the neighborhood, I heard a whine at my back door. Walking into the kitchen, there sat Ripple just outside the glass. I opened the door, “Ripple!“ I cried, “I’ve missed you, sweet girl!” Her tail thumped the porch beams and I noticed her dirty pink collar was missing altogether. She looked up into my eyes, head tipped to one side, one ear buttoned, the other half-upright, and silently yipped.

“Would you like to come in?” I asked, opening the door wider, beckoning her in to the warmth. Ripple looked up at me as if to say, ‘I thought you’d never ask.’ And then, as though she always had lived here, she did.


tara caribou | ©2022

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