Flash Fiction Challenge 100 – Day 99
I feel I’m not explaining it well to my friend Chris, so I start again.
“Your staircase becomes the horizon, the only perfectly horizontal line one can find on an astrological natal birth chart. It’s the line that bisects the chart and runs from the ascendant, or rising sign on the left, to the descendant on the right.”
“You said that already,” Chris says. “But why?”
“Chris, there is no logical reason for my doing any of this. I just grew so accustomed to thinking about my natal chart as I climbed this staircase every day to reach your guest room. It was purely arbitrary. Okay?”
He thinks about it a second, then nods once signifying I may proceed.
“Okay, so if we imagine a natal chart superimposed from above down on your second floor with this stairway,” here I gesture at the stairs we stand on, “then everything on this side of the rail is the upper hemisphere, while everything over here is the lower hemisphere. Since my chart is heavy on upper hemisphere, I care most about these bits, and not so much, no offense to your lovely media room and office, about this stuff.”
During the pandemic, I had somehow become a permanent houseguest here in Wylie. I loved both of them dearly, but I know I need to get back out on my own soon.
But then I discovered the dog.
‘Dog’ is being generous. But it is the closest English word that describes what I see when I stare through the banister railings on the right.
I was so scared the first time I saw it I nearly fell down the stairs.
Please don’t ask me why I stood on the stairs while staring loosely out onto the second-floor landing. It was the pandemic; we all did crazy things then. You watched four seasons of Ray Donovan in a weekend; I discovered a portal to another dimension. Potato, poh-tato.
So, I make sure to stand behind Chris when I try to walk him through the procedure of softening his vision to see the wild animal that is roaming free on the second floor of their home. I’m poised to move out, but I feel I need to alert them to this alien presence before I leave here.
“I don’t see anything,” Chris says for the fourth time.
I’m peering around from behind him, and I see that he’s still staring at where I want him to look.
And where I want him to soften his vision and gently gaze without expectation is toward what I call the Scorpionic angle of perception. SAOP for short.
If the staircase and second story floor are receiving some otherworldly projection of my natal chart, then the twelfth house and my natal sun lay just to the right at the column to the right as the staircase lands on the second floor.
Did I mention that it was all done out of play, and it was all purely arbitrary?
But you can only see the dog when you soften your vision and look at it through your peripheral vision.
Did I also mention that this was during the pandemic? A time when many of us wasted hundreds of hours binge-watching Netflix or, in my case, standing on a staircase while trying to see into the physical projection of my twelfth house?
He’s doing the right thing with his eyes. So I relax. Either he will see it soon, and I will feel reassured (ironically perhaps) that the demonic-looking, hell-dog does exist, and everyone that sleeps in this house should damn well better do it with one eye open. Or, I’ve lost my marbles and should go directly to a sanitarium.
“I hear something. It sounds like a low growl?” Chris says without turning.
Another weird discovery, I couldn’t hear the creature until I had positioned my eyes and softened my gaze at the SAOP. Why this should be is anyone’s guess. My only thought is that the dog isn’t here. It exists in a parallel dimension or some such thing. I take a lot of comfort and hope that that is the case. The dog doesn’t appear nearly as friendly as what we think of as a dog.
“You’re close to being able to see it then,” I say to Chris. Then I brace myself on the staircase and gently point my loose hands at his back just in case the shock startles him into falling down the stairs.
It’s a testament to his unflappability that Chris doesn’t startle when he finally sees my mystery dog. I was surprised by that.
Neither of us is surprised when Chris passes out from the sight of his blood spurting onto the stairs. He has always been squeamish around blood.
When he finally saw the creature, he extended his right hand through the banister gaps. Whether Chris’s gesture was meant as an overture to his petting the snarling, drooling, hissing creature or to test for its solidity is a question I judiciously avoid asking.
The tips of Chris’s first three fingers disappear in a spray of blood. Chris passes out but luckily falls downward rather than backward; I’m not sure I could’ve arrested his fall, and all of this was a bad idea. I lower him to the stairs, then ease him down the stairs the best I can while carefully avoiding looking towards where the dog-creature pokes into our reality.
After I set Chris on the floor at the foot of the stairs, I climb the stairs again and look for his severed fingertips. I’m hoping they might be able to reattach them. But they are gone. If I had to guess, I would say they are resting in the belly of the beast that bit them off of my friend’s hand.