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Big Jimmy VooDoo

by Cap'n Joe

    I hear a lot of our kind don't remember how they got to be "our kind" I think that's a little odd. I remember it all quite vividly...
    The shit all went down back in 2001, late summer. Me and a couple classmates were trying to get in a couple more scenes for our film class project before the sun set. The big scary black man with the dreads - that'd be me - was supposed to jump outta the woods and rape and murder the young, white couple having a picnic or some racist bullshit like that. I don't right remember, it was a long time ago, and I didn't write this one.
    So I snuck around the woods to get into the right position, or so I thought, and waited for my cue. I waited for far longer than I figured I'd have to. "Whatever." I thought. "They're prolly just having to do a few takes on the previous scene" But then it started to get dark, quickly. At this point I'd had enough of waiting. I didn't even know how long it'd been. My watch stopped working when I got into the woods. I got and started going back what I thought was the way I'd came. Turns out it wasn't, and now it was REALLY dark. Like, absurdly dark. No moonlight, no flashlights from the guys, no ambient light seeping in from the parking lot, just dark.
    I cursed and started to call out to my classmates, but as I turned around, the sound caught in my throat. Before me stood, no, hovered this...creature...She was extraordinary. She was glowing; pure white light, but not glowing really, more like She was absorbing all the light from everything around her. She didn't put off any light, there was no reflection onto the trees that I knew were still around us, no reflection onto me, just Her. Her and all Her light. I don't know how else to describe Her. She was just light, and none of it Her own.
    When She spoke, Her voice seemed to fill the world. It was both beautiful and horrible; terrifying, yet all I'd ever yearned to hear. "You are a story teller." I had forgotten how to verbally respond in the affirmative at this point, so I simply nodded. Somehow she saw it. "You will come with me." She then just turned and started floating away from me.
    "Wait, what? Where? Wh-"
    She turned back suddenly, startling my string of questions to a halt. "You are not where you thought you were a moment ago. You will never find your way back. You will come with me back to my home. You will serve me there by telling me one of your stories every night. You will do so for six months time and then I will bring you back to where you thought you were and you may be free."
     "So I'm supposed to go be your slave just because I got lost in the woods?"
     "You are not in these 'woods'. You are in a realm you could never comprehend. You have a choice. You can come with me and weave your words to me or you can stay here and die."
     I don't know what it was, but I believed Her. Maybe it was the fact that She was a beautiful, horrifying, alien, floating, glowing being that spoke directly into my mind. At least my work would be appreciated by someone, and six months wasn't all that long anyway. So I followed Her. It wasn't easy, what with my guide absorbing all the light in the world. I bumped into a few things, tripped a few times, cut myself a little. She never got too far ahead of me though. After some time, the ground got smoother, as if I was walking on a tile floor. She came to a halt, a little higher than She had been during the journey, as if She was on a dais or something, and spoke to me again.
     "You are now in your new home. You will follow me when I ask and do as we agreed. You may do as you desire until I call you." I nodded acknowledgment and sat down cross-legged on the floor. I couldn't see a damn thing except Her, I don't know what else I was supposed to do. So I waited for my eyes to adjust. It never happened. I could hear others murmuring in the darkness. After I got bored with sitting on the hard floor, I decided to try and scoot toward one of the conversations I could hear. It was slow going, and I fell a few more times, but I eventually felt like I was in proper speaking distance with at least one of the strangers.
     "Hello" I offered.
     A rough male voice answered me "You must be Her new pet."
     "Is that what I am? A pet?"
     The rough voice came again. "We're all Her pets. I didn't mean any offense. You must be hungry. Here" I felt something that must of been his hand probing about near my knee, then where I was leaning on my arm. His strange hand took mine and his other placed something in it. The object felt kind of like a small gourd. "It's good. eat it."
     He was right, I was hungry, and it was good. "Thanks" I mumble out as I chew on the fruit. "So...It's pretty dark in here, eh?"
     "Dark indeed. Eventually you'll get used to it well enough that you can see the gleam of our eyes, but that's as good as it gets. That's how she keeps us here. None of us can see to leave. I suppose we have it easy. I've heard the other Lords keep their subjects in chains, and at least our Lady offers us deals instead of just clubbing us and taking us away indefinitely."
     I would have liked the conversation to continue, but about that time our Lady looked to me and called. "You, storyteller. You have a job to do." I shuffle carefully toward Her and She drifts off to the right, seemingly down a hallway. I stumble just a little, but I manage to make it to what I assume is Her bedchamber. She lays down on her bed, or at least I assume so. She was horizontal and a couple feet off the floor. "You will tell me one of your stories now, then you may sleep."
     I tell Her the story that would later become the script for "Raptors". That's the one about the giant, man-eating eagles that terrorize rural Ohio. One of my favorites. She must've liked it. She seemed to fall asleep as soon as I finished. Me too, oddly. It was as if she'd orchestrated it. I managed to find a man-sized pillow to sleep on.
     And so it went. Day after Day, I would find somebody to talk to, find something to eat, and eventually be called to tell our Lady a story, "You should do the voices." She would swoon sometimes, and I would put on a myriad of accents for all my various characters, then I would sleep on that pillow on Her bedchamber floor. I counted every story. I had no other way to keep track of time. After 180 perfectly unique and thrilling stories, I inquired about my freedom. The response was a bit disappointing.
     "You agreed to spend six months serving me." She said.
     "That is correct, Milady. It has been 180 Days, has it not?"
     "You are correct, but it has not been six months. You will have told me approximately 3,942,000 stories by the time six months time has past."
     I nearly choke upon hearing this. Clearly our Lady was terrible at math. "Excuse me?"
     "You are correct, but it has not been six months. You will have told me approximately 3,942,000 stories by the time six months time has past." She repeats.
     "I...I don't understand"
     "You will." Her reply is so matter-of-fact, I couldn't even bring myself to be upset by it. I simply told Her a story about how the gods of ancient Egypt are very real and very angry about the fact that no one worships them anymore. It wasn't very good, I was understandably off that day. I finished the story, watched Her fall asleep and went to sleep myself.
     On and on it would continue. I kept counting my stories. I kept coming up with new things to make up stories about, but it started to get difficult around one million or so. Eventually I told a story that was a bit too similar to something I'd come up with prior. She didn't fall immediately to sleep this time, nor did I. "You didn't perform so well with that one." Her criticism actually hurt a bit. I'd never cared about criticism before.
     "You didn't like it?" I ask. She simply gets up and leaves. She seemed to be gone for quite some time. I didn't sleep or eat or leave that spot until she returned. I was really nervous. What was she going to do?
     She finally returned after what felt like weeks. She placed somebody's hand in mine. It's small and delicate. "You seem to have need of another's assistance." Then She left again.
     From the owner of the hand in mine came a flurry of questions. "Where am I? Who are you? Why can't I see anything?" I politely explain everything to her: what my job is, why it's kept so dark, who the Lady of the house is, what my routine is; then I ask her who she is and why, if she knows, she was brought here. "Your Lady seems to have purchased me from my Lord. He kept me in a cage to inspire his musicians, I would assume I've been brought here for a similar reason. My name is Sophia."
     Ah, so She had brought me a muse. "It's good to meet you, Sophia." I greet. "I will make sure that you're well taken care of and get yourself accustomed to your new home. My name is... My name... I can't remember my name. I can remember how many stories I've told, and the way to and from here and the fruit tree, and the content of every story, but I can't remember my name."
     "It's okay." She pats my hand. It's more comforting than anything I've felt since I got here. "Arcadia will do that to you. There's a lot of things I don't remember. I'll call you James."
     So James I was, as well as freshly inspired. With Sophia by my side, my stories never repeated themselves again. The two of us were inseparable. By necessity at first, but we shared stories of our previous lives, she told me of life with other Fae Lords and before long, became fast friends. And so the routine continued, until, according to my count, I was nearing the time of my release. I discussed this, excitedly, with Sophia. The topic turned to when she was to be released. Every other subject in our Lady's court could recall being on a temporary contract, but hers had never come up. She told me that she wasn't on the same deal as the rest of us, that since she had been bought from another Faerie Lord that she was here forever.
     This wouldn't do. That night when it came time for our Lady to be lulled to sleep by my words, I made my request. "Milady, before I regal you with a story, May I make a request of you?"
     "You may."
     "I propose that once I am released, this muse that You have been so gracious to give to me will be of little use to You. I request that she be allowed to come with me."
     "You offer nothing in return. You will likely be replaced, and she will inspire your replacement as she did you or she will be sold." Her response is emotionless as ever.
     "I offer an extension of my contract, Milady."
     She paused and looked to my muse then back to me before responding. "You present a reasonable offer. You will continue to serve me for one full year since the day you were first brought here, doubling your original agreement, and you shall have your wish."
     Sophias hand tightened up in mine. She was scared. I was so close to my release. To start the term over would be torturous, but I couldn't leave her here. "I agree to your terms, Milady. You have been very gracious to us."
     "You will both be released on the day after you tell me your 7,884,000th story. Your contract is set. You will tell me a story now."
     That was the night I came up with "Road Trip to Hell" a story of 5 people in a Winnebago that are terrorized by a demonic biker gang on their trip down route (6)66. What would become my only film to see mainstream DVD release. Sophia had been exceptionally inspiring that evening. After the Lady had fallen asleep, Sophia asked me why I agreed to that. I told her that it was the only thing I could do, then I laid down and slept soundly. I don't think she slept at all that night.
     After that night, there really wasn't anything eventful that happened there. Just routine. Maybe that's why I don't like to adhere to any kind of schedule anymore. Eventually I told my last story, and the next morning our Lady woke us and bade that we follow Her. Sophia asked me where we were going in a whispered tone. "Home" was all I would reply.
     Eventually, we stopped. The Lady gestured to Her right and stated "You are both free to go." We still couldn't see anything, but I knew by instinct what was just past Her outstretched right hand. Without hesitation, I led my companion through the portal.
     It was quite a shock, being able to see again. It was the middle of the night, and it was cloudy, but it still seemed glaringly bright. After a minute or two, we got used to it and had a look around: Trees, smaller plants, somebody's old soccer ball, some more trees, a fox over yonder, clouds above us. They were all comforts to my unused eyes.
     "Can you see? Have your eyes adjusted?" I asked Sophia. She nodded. "I Suppose we can stop holding hands now, then?" I say with a grin, offering her hand back to her. In doing so, I happen a glance at my own hand which causes me to reel back in horror. This couldn't possibly be my hand. This hand had six fingers and two thumbs, one on each side of the wide palm and it was black. I mean, I've always been black, but this was black. Black like volcanic rock, or black the darkness we'd only just emerged from. I take a look at the rest of my body and, sure enough, more black skin. I'm thinner than I remember too, but more muscular and my legs have that backwards knee thing happening, like a dog's legs. I turn to Sophia, aghast. "I'm horrifying! What the fuck happened in there?"
     She giggles a bit and just says "You look fine to me. C'mon, lets go find somewhere to stay."
     "How can you be so calm? How can you even stand to look at me? We're gonna get a lot of questions, walking around like this."
     "Aw, you're over-reacting. Let's go, I don't wanna be close to the Hedge anymore." Then she simply walked towards the park in the clearing. I begrudgingly followed her. We both came to a quick stop when we saw a towering, furry man with horns curling out of his forehead and hooves for feet. He was walking towards us.
     "Hulloo!" He offered in a cheerful tone, waving a giant paw in a wide arc above his head. "What brings you folks out here at this hour? I don't think I've seen you two before. New to these parts?"
     "Why is everyone so calm about this?!" I blurted to Sophia in the most hushed tone I could manage.
     She ignored me and greeted the creature. "Hello sir, My name is Sophia and this is my friend James. We just came from Arcadia and-"
     "Oh my!" The beast interrupted. "You shouldn't be hanging around here then! Come with me. We'll get you folks safe." He gestured with that giant paw of his and turned back around, hurrying off toward the city.
     This worried me a bit, what with our appearances. "Should we really be going into the city looking like this?"
     He laughed. It sounded like what you'd expect Santa Claus to laugh like. "Don't worry about that, Jimmy, my friend. Humans don't see things the way we do."
     "We're not humans?"
     The Santa laugh again. "Not anymore. It'll all make sense after you meet with the rest of my freehold. My name is Robert, by the way. Every one calls me 'Uncle Bob'."
     It was only a short walk to the Robert-beast's destination: An old YMCA building that'd seen better days. It was full of vaguely people-like beings, every one of them had something that stood out as unnatural. Uncle Bob lead us through what was once a gymnasium past several odd creatures and stopped before a man with burning eyes and bright red, smoldering skin. "Hey there, Uncle Bob. how was the park?"
     "Well, I didn't find what I was looking for, but I did find these two." He gestured to us as he spoke. "This is James and Sophia. They just escaped Faerie."
     His eyes widen. "Just escaped? Well, I'm glad you found your way here safely. My name is Aaron. I am the Summer king of the Freehold of Bear's Refuge." He shakes my hand as he continues. "You must be a darkling. And clearly, one of the fairest." He says as he Scoops up Sophia's hand and kisses it. "You may both stay here for a fortnight while you get used to being back. I will see to it that you get to meet others of your seeming to get accustomed to your new selves." He turns back to the lumbering creature that brought us here. "Robert, would you be so kind as to show these two around? Maybe set up a room for them?"
     "I'd be happy to." He replied, then motioned for us to follow him. He took us around the gym, introducing us to at least a dozen new faces before showing us where the kitchen is and where we can sleep and when he showed us the bathrooms, I ducked in to have a look at myself in a proper mirror. I thought I had properly braced myself, but I still managed to be shocked. My dreadlocks had been replaced by fleshy black tendrils, my mouth was much larger than before and full of sharp teeth. As far as I could tell, I didn't have a nose anymore, unless that's what those two little dots between my eyes were. And then my eyes, dear god, my eyes. They were huge. They took up nearly half of my face. Huge, black spheres with no pupils or irises, just gleaming black nothingness.
     I emerged from the restroom and asked Sophia again how she could stand to be around me.
     "You're a horror writer. You terrify people for a living, I figured you'd be into that."
     She made a good point.
     So we stayed at that old rundown YMCA building for two weeks, learning about what we are now and how to live like this. We lookied into re-inserting me back into my own life, but it turns out my life had been taken over by something called a fetch: a creature that looked like me and had all my memories that had been placed there by my Keeper to keep me from being missed. The idea was offensive at first, but then I realized I barely remembered what my old life was like and it didn't really matter. He could have it. We made the decision to leave town and head south. The summer king was kind enough to give us some money, some traveling supplies and a map of what freeholds we would be able to find on our journey.
     And so we said our goodbyes and left. We hopped from freehold to freehold offering what services we could in exchange for temporary shelter until we finally found one we liked in Louisiana, in a town called Alexandria. We stayed there for about a week before we were invited to join. One of the other changelings there, an old creole fellow that insisted we call him "Papa VooDoo", ran a small theater that showed a lot of old midnight movies. I liked him immediately. He took a pretty quick liking to Sophia and me too. He gave us jobs and a place to stay at his theatre. Even let me write and film a few of my own screenplays to show on his screen. So we stayed there for a few years eventually Papa VooDoo got sick. I guess we're supposed to be real resistant to disease, but it got to Papa anyway. He said it was some old witch's curse and that he wouldn't make it. I told him not to talk like that and that we'd help him pull through. He didn't believe me and signed everything he owned over to me. I told him I'd be sure to take care of it but that it wasn't necessary, cuz he'd be attending the big Halloween party tomorrow anyway. He chuckled and coughed and told me to go get him a costume. I came back the next day with a great witch-doctor costume that Sophia helped me pick out, but he was already gone.
     That was three years ago. Since then the theater is more immaculate than ever. I started calling myself "Big Jimmy VooDoo" and adopted a fake Jamaican accent. Sophia always makes fun of me for being a slave to stereo-types. The second theater room with the torn screen was converted into a common room so that I can share the hospitality that I was given with other changelings, and the first room is always showing one of Big Jimmy VooDoo's original horror flicks, starring mostly myself. Being able to change my face is pretty damn useful as a low-budget film actor/writer/director.