20/200

Tim Tucker

April 29th, 2014

It was a date that had burned itself into the mind of twenty seven year old Madonna Selene and unbeknownst to the young woman, she had no idea why. It wasn't a date that held any particular significance to her. No birthdays that she could remember, no anniversaries, no holiday or other cause for celebration, yet the date seemed to linger like some waiting, unseen leviathan deep in the currents of her thoughts.

Although she was not sure of the importance of the date, she suspected that her anticipation for the end of April was connected with an intense fascination she had developed for a certain unusual object.

The moon.

For most of her young life, Madonna Selene, the alias for a far more banal and commonplace name, had shown little interest in anything beside drinking and sex. She worked the streets and the internet, turning tricks for rent money and just enough to keep food in her stomach.

A humble lifestyle indeed.

It wasn't until this past January that her bizarre infatuation with the moon began. It started off innocently enough with her going out on the fire escape of her cramped apartment and watching the stars and moon while sipping wine coolers and smoking weed. In mid February she had used what was supposed to have been her rent money for the month to purchase a top of the line Celestron Astromaster refracting telescope and a couple of books on amateur moon gazing. Her land lord was more than forgiving of her transgression and even offered to excuse her late rent in exchange for a blowjob, which Selene happily obliged.

By March her new hobby of moon gazing soon became more interesting than partying, more interesting than drinking, more interesting than even sex, and Selene soon found herself canceling appointments with clients in order to study the celestial body. She purchased more and more books on the moon and soon had a collection that numbered around three dozen and every night that the moon was visible she was glued to her Celestron until her eyes became bloodshot and raw.

By April her book collection had grown to well over one hundred and she began to decorate the walls and even the ceiling of her cramped apartment with pictures of the moon clipped from the numerous volumes so that she could not enter any room without being greeted by dozens upon dozens of bloated full moons and sharp crescent moons.

And it was in this last month that her already twisted obsession took a turn for the worse.

Selene lay sprawled on the floor beneath one hundred moons, unable to justify her irrational behavior but for the life of her unable to tear her gaze away from the hanging orbs. Some elusive revocation swelled inside of her like a perpetually inflating balloon and she knew that once the balloon burst she would finally get to the bottom of her fantastical addiction, but as the balloon swelled inside of her, so did her sense of unabashed wonderment and a tingling sensation of impending doom for a date she did not know the significance for.

The telephone snapped her from her moon musings.

Selene dragged herself from the floor and lurched after the bleating phone.

"Hello?" she said into the receiver.

"Hey Selene," her land lords rough voice coursed from the other end. "Your late payment is coming up again. Looks like you're gonna have to do a little extra for me to make it up."

"Whatever you need daddy," Selene said coolly.

The land lord chuckled. "Oh yeah? Well I think I want to raw dog that asshole."

Selene inwardly sighed, "Just let me know when, the doors always open for you."

"I'll hold you to that sweetheart. Just keep it nice and tight for me."

And with that he hung up.

Selene turned from the phone and headed for the refrigerator, a gnawing hunger that was born from agitation beginning to gnaw at her. She wretched open the fridge door and was shocked to discover that the shelves contained only empty food containers, dirty bowels and a half drunk beer that was surely flat by now. She looked in the freezer to find only frosted ice.

Selene tried to recall the last time she had been grocery shopping. It may have been days or even weeks. She did not remember because during her moon crazed lunacy time seemed to become less and less tangible. She could not even recall her last meal, just the vague remembrance of eating canned tuna.

A profound shock gripped Selene so tightly that a cloud of rationality engulfed her moon fantasies and for the first time in weeks she was able to see – truly see – the state of decay in which she'd been living. Garbage littered the floor. Discarded cans sticky with pop, slimy soiled towels and empty cereal boxes with drained milk cartons decorated the counter tops.

And the roaches.

They squirmed, festered, and scuttled through the mess, darted across the floor, scaled walls, and rested in the sink.

"Oh my God!" Selene croaked, "What the hell is wrong with me?"

The smell hit her just as hard as the sights, thick nauseating waves of rank produce and her own musty body odor so vile that she put one hand to her mouth and rushed to the bathroom where she gagged and heaved until there was nothing left in her stomach. She wiped her mouth and stared at herself in the mirror only to have a stranger stare back at her, a stranger with filthy, lusterless clumps of hair and pale, sickly looking skin, but the worst part was her eyes, grayish blue bloodshot orbs that rested in darkened, swollen sockets.

Selene could not understand what was happening to her, but she knew that she was confused and sick. She knew that she desperately needed help.

But she refused to call anyone for help, not yet anyway. If anyone were to see her like this she was afraid that she would be labeled a crazed, hopeless drug addict and would lose what little she had worked for. Staring at her ashen, moon pale reflection in the mirror she knew she could not call for help until she freshened herself up and straightened out her apartment, otherwise she would just be another raving mad whore to be locked up.

Selene returned to the living room and began to tear down the collection of moon posters and ornaments, each one exerting a tidal force on her as veritable as the real moons effects on the oceans but she gritted her teeth and soon she carried an armful of pictures, cut outs and drawings onto the fire escape and was ready to rip the papers to tiny shreds and deposit them over the streets.

She noticed that the railing gleamed with a luminous reflected light, and against her judgment her head came up and she stared into the deep, nearly cloudless night sky at a wicked crescent moon that looked sharp enough to cut. With a strangled cry she closed her eyes and threw her hand up in a futile attempt to shield herself from the moonbeams -

"- Ouch!" she turned her hand around to discover a small, crescent shaped cut in the center of her palm, a thin trickle of blood flowing from the wound.

It was then that she realized that her days were in fact numbered...

April 29th, 2014

Whimpering like some scared little girl, Selene lay curled up in a tiny ball, sunlight scattering dusky rays through the hundreds of moon pictures she had so dutifully tore down only to mount back up on the walls and ceiling, their lunar eyes fixated on her. The urge to look up at the vexing moons was so powerful it felt as if each and every last moon poster tugged at the very blood inside of her, beckoning her...

Selene shut her eyes tight but she could feel the ethereal light of a hundred moons upon her body, she could feel the roundness of the moons pressing against her body and like a clap of thunder a final thought coursed through her mind.

Madonna Selene rose to her feet and gingerly limped through the roaches and garbage that blanketed the floor, each step sending dull aches through her anus. Underneath the kitchen sink was a lock box which she opened and pulled out a .22 revolver. Since she could not resist the inexplicable moon curse that had taken over her life, she decided that killing herself was the only option.

Even death was better than this.

She placed the cold barrel in her mouth, slipped her finger through the trigger guard and closed her eyes.

The sudden earthquake saved her life.

A tremulous rumbling beneath her feet gave way to a violent quake which shook the walls so fiercely that the paper moons disengaged from their roost in a cacophony of zipper rips but instead of drifting to the floor the paper moons rustled and flapped about as if they were wings.

Selene lowered the gun in an attempt to brace herself against the quake but also in sheer wonder-struck amazement as the enchanted moons whirled about in mid air like some eerie carousel of waxing and waning poltergeist. The fear and the tension of the past couple of months seemed to sluice from her and was replaced by an astonished joy so encompassing it threatened to burst her bubble of the unknown and escaped her in a hoarse laugh.

At once, the hundred of pale spheres pulled a 180 on fluttering bat like wings and dive bombed towards the window where they slid to the floor in crumpled heaps, the life force that had manipulated them gone as quickly as it had appeared. But outside the window, something moved.

Something big.

A colossal shadow spread languidly through the window across her room. The tremors ceased, the only motion now the creeping darkness which spilled ink like over everything. Selene gimped to the window, paper moons crunching underfoot, and looked out.

"Oh my God..." she breathed. She clambered out onto the escape and stared up into the increasingly darkening sky as the moon slowly engulfed the sun.

As the dark planetoid made its lurch across the sun, Selene felt an unimaginable precedence beginning to build up, as if she were in the wake of something unspeakably evil yet majestically pure. She spread her arms embracingly towards the eclipse and could almost feel her body being compelled physically by the astronomical event. She stood as tall as she could on the tips of her toes, a weightlessness as palpable as if she were one of the paper moons strewn about her floor coursing through her body. The last vestiges of the sun disappeared behind the orb of shadows, leaving only the fiery red corona and in that moment of synchronization and synergy, something happened.

Selene could no longer feel the fire escape beneath her but she could feel the wind as stark and cool as a woman's breath upon her body, she could hear the soft mirth of women whispering through her head and she knew that she was listening to the voices of Phoebe, Diana, Hecate, and Chandra.

As she drifted higher and higher towards totality the enigmatic balloon at long last burst in her mind and for one brief, glorious moment, Madonna Selene became one with the endless cycles of life and death, birth and rebirth, the arcane and Pagan lunar symbols from times long past searing across her dilated pupils -

- but as the sun peeked from behind its refuge the experience was long gone and like a puppet with her strings cut she plummeted from the sky and landed in a crumpled heap on the fire escape. She sat up like a stranger in a strange land, darkness surrounding her on all sides. She craned her neck to the sky but was greeted by more impenetrable darkness.

Fresh tears cascaded down her face as Selene felt about helplessly, eyes wide open but for the love of God not seeing.

Because it wasn't tears that flowed down her cheeks.

It was blood.

THE END