This is how horror movies begin…


I have been struggling the last few weeks. I think that I was using the optimism of writing this November as a mask for feeling directionless or overwhelmed in other aspects of my life. When I (reasonably) decided to stop writing crappy fan fiction, I was forced to face the fact that my depressive symptoms have been worse the last few months. It’s an interesting feeling, to be aware of the physical symptoms of depression without having an obviously depressed mood.

I wanted to spend a few days letting myself indulge in being miserable. On one of the first nights, I was home alone while my fiance was curling with his friends after work. I was in bed, waiting for him to come home, trying to be as disappointed in myself as possible. My thoughts were interrupted by a scratching sound on the ceiling. It was too loud for me to have imagined, too localized to be the house settling, and too erratic to be mechanical. This was the morning of Friday the 13th, I was home alone, and prepared to go into our crawlspace attic with a flashlight. This is how horror movies begin, I thought.

We’ve caught five mice since then. We’ll probably have to replace all of the insulation in the attic of our new house once we’ve killed all of the rodents.

I didn’t sleep well that night and I blame my mood on my poor sleep that weekend. I indulged in Star Trek and leftover Halloween candy for an entire week. I carried my gym bag into work with me almost everyday that week, and just couldn’t muster the willpower to walk 100 yards downstairs to use the gym. I listened to Aisha Tyler’s podcast because she ends her recordings with statements that sound like positive affirmations if you stop listening before the sales pitch “You are amazing… follow me on Twitter.” She’s very compelling though and her words motivated me to visit the vending machine for lunch.

The second weekend, I reread the Hyperbole and a Half book and laughed until I couldn’t breathe. I cleaned a lot. We had a party. Everything started to feel a little bit easier, and I remembered that the world doesn’t necessarily end when I need a mental break. 

We have to check our mouse traps everyday. It feels easier to go up into the attic now.



I want to step through my logic carefully, to see if I’ve made any egregious errors or obvious lapses in judgement, but I quit NaNoWrimo last week.

First, I finished last year. I know that I am able to accumulate more than 50K words in one month. I did not, however accomplish the subordinate goals of establishing a daily writing habit, or of editing my draft into a final novel. I do not need to just throw half a billion words into oblivion again unless I really believe that this will help me accomplish a further goal. 

Also, I’m ready to start reworking the first volume. I believe that 12k is enough raw material to work through, and I would rather lay a solid groundwork and then revise my design before wasting my time continuing ahead. Besides, I don’t know how to continue ahead if I’ve already decided to change the first act fundamentally. Do I ignore what I’ve already written, do I go back and rewrite and the count those words in my cumulative score? Who knows? I’ve already admitted before, I can write a lot of crap; I don’t need to write two different first acts this month, I want to learn to finish something.

Next, there’s nowhere to go after my draft. I’ve been calling this un-fan-fiction because uhhh… I have a personal hang up about the legitimacy of fan-fiction as anything other than a writing exercise. But it’s true, I’m writing fan-fiction in a genre where novels don’t even exist. So, there’s no future for this project besides me throwing it up online. Legally, I cannot self publish this project. I cannot kickstart this as a project. Given the current shit storm on Twitter around everything related to comics, I might even be in trouble just for tweeting something negative about the original series. So all I’m left with is the satisfaction of finishing a project.

… and I’m a shallow person. I don’t think I can invest so heavily in a project and then have nothing to show, especially since I don’t really consider myself a writer or an artist. If I have one novel inside me, then I really hope that it’s not a rehashing of someone else’s comic book. To bastardize the language of NaNoWriMo, this is not a novel that the world needs. 

There’s more. There’s a lot that surrounds NaNoWriMo that can be insufferable to an outsider. There seems to be much more discussion about writing than actual writing. (Do people include this meta writing in their total word counts for the month?) More than that, I don’t have the required context to understand the extended metaphors which are popular.

The biggest issue, apparently, is that I don’t have a muse. I recognize that there are times when I’m more productive or when ideas come more easily. These episodes are generally tied to overall health and stress levels. I don’t perform an elaborate song and dance to ensure that “she” arrives and blesses my story because she doesn’t exist. 

Another example of something I hate is the tendency to personify characters as writing partners. I’ve heard people discuss story characters as though they are unruly children who misbehave. My best guess is that this refers to a situation where you get distracted while writing, and the natural outcome or consequences of the scene you wrote are not what you expected. So, it’s really a matter of not planning sufficiently, or allowing yourself to be surprised by brainstorming as you write. Characters running amok is not particularly mysterious.

I think that imbuing the process with magical thinking is mostly detrimental to the idea of learning to write better. I’ve always understood writing to be an analytical process that can be managed. 

Word Count


Some people are already starting to post +50k word counts. I don’t really want to speculate on the quality of their writing. I can tell myself that they are so far ahead because they don’t have jobs, or chores, or lives; maybe that they don’t sleep. I can tell myself that they wrote complete crap just to get to the end. I can tell myself whatever I want, but that doesn’t change that my frustration is mostly about being disappointed with the quality of my own writing.

I should clear 13K tonight, which still leaves me about 2 days behind schedule. I may have a chance to catch up this weekend, but I’m not sure I can muster enough excitement by then. This story is so terrible and I don’t really care if I finish.

tpb #2, issue #1


Tandy was on her hands and knees underneath a small bistro table with wrought iron legs. She was staring into the oblong shadow that the tabletop cast on the terracotta tile floor. A single wisp of smoke wafted up from the shadow joined by the vibrations of Cloak’s voice. “They can not wait much longer,” he said, “we must go soon if we are to help them.”

Tandy nodded and held up three fingers. She stood up carefully and conspicuously placed a cloth napkin on top of the table. She quickly straightened her collar and tie, smoothed her skirt with a quick tug, and leaned over slightly to rub the dust off the knees of her black leggings.

“You seem to drop things a lot, new girl,” a slinky voice admonished from an adjacent table. Tandy turned around quickly. The woman who spoke wore a fashionable red dress with impractical shoes. Her hair was stylishly tousled. She looked like she was ready to go to a cocktail party while the other patrons appeared dressed for afternoon tea at a country club. Tandy had been warned about this woman, a jet-setting heiress from New York City, who would fly to New Orleans twice a month, just for Sunday brunch at this particular cafe.  

“Yes, I do ma’am,” Tandy responded without hesitation.

“Well, I don’t come to this place to stare at your perky ass, I come for the beignets. Drop your things somewhere else,” she snapped, removing her designer sunglasses for emphasis.

“Yes, of course ma’am,” Tandy nodded. She shifted a silvery serving tray into her folded arms, with the cloth napkin draped between a few fingers. “Can I get you anything else, more coffee perhaps, or could I ask the maitre d’ to help with your dinner arrangements for this evening?”

“New girl, what’s your name?” the woman asked, tapping a finger on the edge of the table impatiently.

“Tandy, thank you ma’am,” she responded.

“Tandy,” the woman leaned heavily on the name, testing it carefully, “Fresh coffee would be divine.”.

“Of course, I’ll make arrangements immediately, Ms. Hardy.” Tandy bowed her head slightly and excused herself.  

Tandy walked hastily to the back of the bustling kitchen. She turned a corner and opened a small pantry door. There was nothing in the closet, literally. Tandy took a deep breath and then stepped into the void.

Floating in the darkness Tandy let herself glow at full strength. She undid the top button of her shirt and loosened her black tie. The tail of the tie floated away from her chest and seemed to elongate indefinitely out into the dark. Cloak floated towards her, pulling himself along her tie.

“I’ve brought your costume, but I still don’t understand the need,” Cloak said as he handed her a small white bundle.

“I’ve told you, I don’t want to be recognized,” Tandy kicked her shoes off and started to pull off her leggings. The exposed skin on her legs glowed brightly.

“I’ve never found this to be an issue,” Cloak insisted, “and I’ve been doing this longer than you have.” Her discarded button down shirt drifted towards him and he swatted it out of the way. She was wearing white tights rolled up to her shins and her crystal leotard. She covered her barefeet with thin lyrical dance sandals made from leather.

“Says the giant naked man in a Halloween costume,” Tandy snickered, “excuse me if I look elsewhere for fashion advice.”

“I think that you will attract attention, no matter what you do,” Cloak said.

“It’s more than a secret identity, wearing the costume makes a statement, it’s like declaring without words that we’re only here to help. You know, heroes who wear costumes aren’t supposed to be expecting something in return,” Tandy insisted.

“What if I did expect something, would that be so wrong?” Cloak asked.

“Like what? What could you possibly want from a poor woman and her children?” Tandy said.

“Respect.” Cloak said, his voice stone cold. 

Cloak and Tandy were looking into the second bedroom of a dingy apartment. Cloak stood on he landing of a narrow fire escape, while Tandy balanced on the window sill. A door slammed somewhere inside the apartment shaking the entire metal landing outside the window. “Did you find this family by listening to the police scanner?” Tandy asked.

Cloak nodded, “Yes, a neighbor called in a domestic disturbance two nights ago, but the police did nothing.”

“And this afternoon…” Tandy tucked her hair behind her ears thoughtfully.

“The situation,” Cloak’s fist tightened and the flowing shadows of his cape shadows grew increasingly turbulent, “escalated.” Tandy set her hand over her heart and pursed her lips.

The building shook again, and muffled shouting could be heard through the external walls. A pair of small little girls with dark eyes scrambled into a twin bed underneath the window where Tandy was waiting. An older boy with dark eyes waited by the door. “I’m not going to let him in here,” Tandy read his lips.

The little girls were crying quietly, hold each other. Their feet fidgeted back and forth, burrowing their toes into the bed covers. Tandy tapped on the glass with her fingernail. Her nails were well manicured and painted a deep burgundy, at the suggestion of her employer. The taller of the little girls pressed her hand flat against the window. “Hey lady!” she shouted through the glass, “Hey! Daddy’s gonna be mad if you’re trying to make trouble here, lady!”

“Daddy’s already mad,” the little boy shouted. He waved an arm dismissively at her, trying to shoo her away like a pest.

A moment later, the door knob started to jostle and there was a pounding on the door frame. Tandy could feel the vibrations of both through the walls. “Hey, who’s in there, what’s going on you little troublemaking shits,” Tandy could only intermittently understand the threats he spewed through the door.

A moment later a large framed man with dark eyes stumbled through the door. Part of the frame was splintered, but otherwise the door was intact and thrown against the wall. As the door rebounded, Cloak appeared in the shadow behind the man but did not move. The man continued to stumble a few more steps into the room. “Damn straight Daddy’s mad,” he shouted, slurring slightly. The boy stumbled backwards into a small table and then slid to the floor, cowering in the presence of his father. The shorter girl with pigtails in her hair stuffed a corner of blanket into her mouth.

“If I’m even your real father,” he leaned over the boy, pointing, “knowing your whore of a mother…” He let the thought remain unfinished while he surveyed the bedroom. His eyes bulged when he saw Tandy in the window, now glowing brightly, with her cell phone to her ear. “You sick fuck, what are you doing in my children’s room!” he shouted.

“No! Daddy! The lady didn’t do anything! Nothing,” the little talkative little girl shouted. The other girl pulled another mouth full of blanket into her mouth. Her face was wet with tears.

“I’ll do nothing to you, noisy fucking -” he stepped towards the girls, but was unable to finish his sentence or his motions before Cloak pulled him into the darkness. The children were silent.

A moment later, Cloak unfurled his cape and the man reappeared on the floor. Broken in spirit with an anguished look on his face. He whimpered. The children remained silent.

“Open the window,” Cloak said somberly, “Let her inside.” The little girls nodded weakly, faces full of tears and snot, but still making very little noise. “Now!” he said more forcefully.

The girls opened the window for Tandy, radiant and glittery. She gracefully slipped into the room. She sat on the bed, with one girl clinging to each side of her. Their father looked up at her, relieved to see her light, trying to inch away from Cloak, towards her.

“You are responsible for these children,” she asked him.

“I… I… I…,” he cried, “I can’t, my own father wasn’t, he was gone, I wanted.”

“You can’t pour anything from an empty cup,” she said, “You can’t love your children, while you drink yourself unconscious every night.”

“Please, I don’t know how, my job hates me, my wife hates me, her children hate me… I hate me,” he sobbed, chest heaving, “please, I don’t know how else to stop thinking about all the hate.”

“Do you hate them?” Tandy said, “Is there anything else left inside you?”

The man looked up at her, tearfully, “I don’t know anymore. I’m so afraid… in the dark, I couldn’t remember their faces, I want to remember their faces when I die!”

Tandy threw a light dagger straight into the man’s chest. There was an explosive flash of light and then a lingering pulsing glow. The man suddenly inhaled sharply. He rubbed his eyes as though just waking up. He wiped his running nose on his sleeve. He looked around the room, “My son,” he reached out, but the boy scrambled backwards away from him, joining Tandy and the girls on the bed. “My boy, I love you, you save your sisters from me like a real man… I am so proud of you.” He fell over, unconscious.

“Is Daddy gone now?” the smaller of the girls whispered.

“No, just sleeping,” Tandy said.

“What did you do to him?” she asked, her trembling hands on Tandy’s arm, “Did you save him?”

“Your father was a bad man. I’ve given him a chance to save himself,” Tandy said quietly.

“Princess Angel Lady?” he asked, his voice was amused, but calm and measured while they drifted in the darkness, “Is this your superhero name?”

“hhhmmmpfh,” Tandy only made a frustrated grunt while she pulled off her white tights. “What’s your real name anyways? I mean besides Cloak.”

“I don’t recall anymore,” Cloak was standing in the void, as though on solid ground. Tandy floated upside down. He reached an arm up and helped her flip over.

“You don’t even have one name, and I’m supposed to have two names?” she poked his chest as she said this. “I’m ready to go home now,” she was draping her tie around her neck loosely and holding her fashionable boots in her hand.

“You also have many more shoes than I do,” Cloak said dryly. He pulled open a doorway for her and she stepped through, ignoring his comment about the shoes.

“When you think of me, what do you call me?” he insisted. “Friend?”

“I suppose we’re friends,” Tandy smiled, “but there’s still so much I don’t know about you.”

tpb #1, issue #6


Tandy woke up in a strange bed. She rolled over and opened her eyes tentatively. The room was bright, it was possibly midday already. She was in a bed covered with a rough knit comforter in a brown and orange color scheme that reminded her of the 1970s. She propped herself up on one elbow and used her free hand to pull her hair out of her eyes.

“That’s my bag,” she thought, craning her neck to look at a duffle bag at the foot of the bed. The other bed was unoccupied, but strewn with an assortment of pink tights. The bedside table was covered in egg mcmuffin wrappers and coffee cups. Tandy twisted to look at the window. There was an ashtray on the window sill. “I guess this is my hotel room, with the ballet,” she sat up and rubbed her eyes.

She was wearing a thin white tee shirt and cotton underwear. “I don’t think I remember changing, when we came home,” she looked at her hands, “I also don’t remember coming home.” She swung her legs to the floor and noticed her dirty toes. “Well, I guess that part really happened,” she said out loud, to herself, “the part where I run through a cemetery barefoot.”

Tandy was leaning on the edge of the window sill, when the door to the hotel room opened slowly. “Oh you’re up,” Julie said. “I was surprised when I woke up this morning and you were back. I didn’t hear you come in,” She set a large bag on her bed. She pulled out a pair of pointe shoes and then reached all the way to the bottom fishing for something, “and you were pretty much dead to the world this morning, I mean, there was coffee in this room,” Julie stopped fussing with her bag to gesture with her hands open, palms down, at chest level, “in this very room, and you didn’t even flinch, let alone wake up to eat and drink everything.”

Tandy smiled. “Yeah, I had a …” she covered her mouth with her hand and stopped speaking. She looked down, searching for the right word. 

“You had a mental episode, a breakdown, a complete freakout,” Julie interjected. “What the hell happened to you?” Julie finally pulled a small sewing kit out of her bag. She climbed onto the bed and folded her legs while she set to mending the ankle ribbons of her pointe shoes. When Tandy didn’t respond she added, “Michael said that you’re welcome to come by and quit any time before first call.”

Tandy hadn’t removed her street shoes when she entered the theater. She was still separated from the director’s temporary office by a sea of black marley. “All I need to do is walk across this stage one more time and I’ll be free,” she thought. She paused at the threshold to look left and right before she smiled and stepped onto the stage “I’ve never in my life walked across a dance floor in my dirty street shoes.”  [Image of Tandy, wearing colorful clothes, walking across black marley. Marley absorbs light, it’s very flat.]

Cloak and Tandy were sitting on a lighting batten above the theater stage. She sat close to him so that his cape could protect both of them from discovery.

“This is a great view,” she whispered, “I can see everyone’s mistakes quite clearly.” She smirked and winked at him. Her scar sparkled for an instant.

“When I watched you the other night, you were the best, you should have been the princess,” Cloak said.

“I was the princess,” Tandy said. “When I was younger, before I tried to have an adult life, before I…” she reached up and touched the right side of her face.

“Before what,” Cloak turned to her and pulled her hand down, “What does your face need with dancing?”

She let him hold her hand for a moment, before she pulled it away. She pulled a leg into her chest, defensively, “Ballet is about a certain classical image. There are other kinds of dance where that’s okay, I mean it might even be artistic for some companies, to have an ugly princess,” Tandy rambled on, she looked down on the dancers longingly.

“You are a scarred princess, not an ugly one,” Cloak said carefully. “Why do you believe that these scars, that part of you, would be ugly?” Tandy pursed her lips to hold back tears. One droplet escaped her eyelid and ran down over her scar.

“How did this happen to you?” he asked softly.


[spread over several pages? words in bold are the dialogue Tandy speaks, these would be narration text blocks to accompany the images she remembers as she tells the story; they are not intended to agree with each other.]

It was just a car accident about a year ago.

Tandy looked down through her toes. She was standing on the roof of her apartment building. Her long hair whipped through the evening wind. The sky was an eerie yellow shade that only appears for a few minutes while the sun sets.

And really, it was an accident, it wasn’t anyone’s fault.

“It’s all my fault,” Tandy wrote on a piece of looseleaf paper. She crossed those words out. Scratched them violently, tore the paper into pieces, and dropped it into the garbage.

“I’m sorry,” she wrote, “I need to escape, from this prison.” This time she applied flowery cursive. The ink bled around the edges at the corners of each “e” and at the bottom of each “s.”

“Too cliche,” she said aloud. This paper was rolled into a ball and thrown for the benefit of a large orange tomcat.

“Please feed my cat,” was all she wrote on the next piece of paper.

I wasn’t headed anywhere important.

Every morning, Tandy wakes up, drinks a cup of tea, puts on a conservative skirt suit, and sits at a desk in the lobby of an attorney’s office. Some days, she wears a slightly different color shirt, or a “statement” necklace that was a gift from her well meaning mother. Some days, she puts sugar in her tea. Everything is grey.

No one had been drinking, nothing like that.

Tandy was curled up in bed with a thin knit cap over her greasy blonde hair. She had a pile of blankets wrapped around her body tightly. A fat orange cat was sitting on top of her blankets, contentedly licking his paw. The floor below her bed was littered with tissues and empty tea cups. The window outside her room was sunny and bright.

It wasn’t even dark out.

The hospital room was relatively dark, illuminated by the screens from a handful of green and pale blue electronics. Tandy’s head was shaved. She had stitches in a line from the crown of her skull to her right ear and in nearly a full circle around her right eye socket.

I woke up in the hospital after a few days.

“Three months!” Tandy shouted. Tandy was in a hospital bed, restrained by several nurses. “Three fucking months, gone!?” Her parents were pressed against the wall opposite her bed. A black woman in conservative navy blue pumps and a white lab coat held them back, her clip board formed enough of a barrier to stop them from running to Tandy’s side or running out of the hospital room.

And I was fine, just a few scars.

Tandy was sitting cross legged on her hospital bed. Her hair was too short to tuck behind her ears, it sat in a sloppy mound on top of her head. Papers were fanned out in a circle around her. “How am I supposed to pay for all of this. I have no job. I have no house. I have no fiance. I don’t even have my fucking cat anymore!” she screamed with hot tears streaming down her chin. She threw herself back onto the bed.  “I have less than I did when I tried to kill myself…”

Just an accident, that I can’t really remember.

Tandy sat in a stiff chair in a small doctor’s office, accompanied by her mother and father. Her chair was slightly off to the side, closer to the windows. She let her gaze wander outside, and she pretended to ignore the conversation. Seated at the desk opposite her parents, was a black woman in a lab coat, probably a doctor. Tandy had never really cared enough to remember who the woman was, or why they were required to visit with her. Tandy ran her fingers through her hair absent mindedly, it was almost chin length again.

“It’s entirely possible that Tandy’s cognitive functions will continue to improve. We may be seeing additional gains for another 6 to 12 months,” the woman opened a manilla folder, “However, I would still recommend that you speak to her caseworker about an application for disability benefits.”


“So, you’re right, I shouldn’t make a big deal about it,” Tandy said robotically. She refused to make eye contact with Cloak.

“Don’t know if I believe that. It sounds like it’s important to you, Tandy,” Cloak said. The audience erupted in applause. Cloak stood up on the lighting batten and offered Tandy his hand. “Let’s get out of here, we can go anywhere you want.”

Tandy smiled weakly accepting his help, “Surprise me.” Cloak wrapped them both in his cape and they blinked out of the theater to the sounds of ovation.

tpb #1, issue #5


Cloak stepped down from the altar and drifted across the floor, slowly. Smoky tendrils unfurled from his cape as he moved. Tandy and Father Hannigan were pressed against the entrance door at the end of the center aisle.

“Stay behind me,” Father Hannigan said to her, “I’ll protect you.” He stepped onto a potato chip as he inched in front of Tandy. Tandy was luminous again, her skin glowing warmly.

“Laughable. I no longer have the power to hurt Tandy.” Cloak said in his deep, smooth voice. Cloak had stopped moving forward now, standing few feet away from Tandy and Father Hannigan. “I do, however, still have the power to inflict pain on you, Father.”

Father Hannigan shook while he tried to stand his ground in front of Tandy. He gripped the crucifix on his chest with one hand and pointed with his other. His finger just wagged back and forth as he trembled.

Cloak kneeled in front of them. “There are others who need your help, there are more miracles for you to perform tonight. I can take you anywhere in the world, anywhere in the universe, not only to the cemetery,” he said gravely. He stood upright with a dramatic gesture, and swung his right arm out away from his body, creating a small doorway under his arm. His movement was somewhere between a curtsey and an invitation. “…and there are many places where you are needed,” he finished his plea.

Tandy walked around Father Hannigan, dismissing him with one hand, “It’s alright, Father.” She turned her attention to Cloak, “You believe in this miracle crap too?” One of the crystals on her leotard reflected a rainbow on to the floor between where she stood with Father Hannigan, and where Cloak stood with his arm extended.

“Do I still appear to be the monster you fought an hour ago?” Cloak pulled back the hood of his cape with his free hand. He blinked slowly and his eyes darkened to a chocolatey, glistening brown. His arm was still extended and nothing magical appeared in the folds of the cape.

“Whether intentional, or not, your light satisfies the driving hunger of the darkness.” He blinked and his eyes became cloudy again, the shadows in his cloak bled together until the space under his arm was only a dark void.

“The only miracle I speak of is providence and balance. This is about light and dark, not about good and evil.”

“This demon can not be trusted!” Father Hannigan stuttered, reaching out to Tandy. “Stop him! You must wield the light of Our Lord and strike him down!” He started mumbling in Latin.

“If I am not an angel, then it’s possible this man is not a monster,” Tandy said stepping forward. The prismatic light that reflected from her leotard advanced as well, closing the distance between herself and Cloak.

“This is insanity! You are bewitched, this vile creature has–” Father Hannigan continued ranting.

“You both sound crazy!” Tandy shouted. The cathedral was still for a moment.

“God is not in fighting, He is in forgiveness,” Tandy said, she turned around to Father Hannigan. Her eyes glowed with such intensity that her hazel irises were no longer visible. She pointed at him and a single shard of light pierced his chest, where he had been gripping his crucifix.

Father Hannigan fell to his knees. He was no longer trembling or mumbling in Latin. He was calm and quiet. A few tears were rolling down his cheeks, but he did not appear distressed.

“Father,” Tandy blinked and her eyes were clear. She rushed to Father Hannigan, kneeling next to him, “Are you alright, I didn’t mean to hurt you.”

“No, no pain,” Father Hannigan whispered, “In the light, I can see nothing besides my own soul… and it is not such a bad thing, to pray to the Lord, to look for him inside myself.” He seemed disoriented, but not in pain. He looked at Cloak, “You saw your soul too, demon? You came to fight her and she showed you how to love yourself how to make room for Jesus Christ, to stop your anger and pain, and she made the world stop?”

“Something like that that,” Cloak said, he was still unmoved, waiting for her to enter his shadowy cape. “I think it may be prudent to leave before Father Hannigan is missed,” he suggested.

Tandy nodded and advanced towards the gateway, pausing a few inches from the void. “It was terrible the first time. Will it be like that every time?”

“It is an emptiness, and it will always feel like emptiness,” Cloak answered. “However, the meaning of that changes.I do not believe you will find the experience the same this time.”

Tandy stepped into the cloak. It wasn’t really dark, it was a painful lack of light. Earlier in the night, when she had passed through Cloak accidentally, she had felt disoriented and confused in the void, tossed and turned in a whirpool. Now, she felt a soothing calmness, like the surface of a lake at sunrise.

“I don’t know if it’s different because of me, or because of you,” Tandy said out loud. She wasn’t certain if her words could be heard. She felt Cloak slip past her. Her grabbed her hand and pulled her with him gently.

“It is difficult to safely transport people through this dimension for extended periods of time against their will. Currents in the cemetery flow quite strongly, it’s a good place to hunt.” he looked over his shoulder as he explained to her.

Cloak looked at their joined hands. “I didn’t know what it would look like in here,” he said. “I used to try to bring lights with me, but, nothing lives here, nothing burns.”

“Is it like you expected?” she said.

“We are the only things in this universe, that does seem right to me,” he said, “We’ve arrived now, if you’re ready to leave.” A sliver of light appeared in front of them. The change was almost painful. The darkness seemed to recoil from the opening.

“You go ahead,” Cloak said.

Tandy stepped through the gateway carefully, it was midday, the sun was high in the sky and she was standing on cross beam near the top of a tall white radio tower in the middle of a huge city.

Cloak stepped out behind her. “This isn’t home,” she said to him. She looked down, nervously, “I don’t suppose mysterious soul purifying laser beams of justice are going to help me fly out of here, huh?” She looked down again to see sections of the tower were orange.

Cloak smiled, “Forgive me Tandy, I’ve just never had an opportunity to impress someone before. We can go now.” He stepped back into the narrow shadow. She hesitated.

“How do you know my name?” she asked.

“I was following you all day,” he said, “people are frequently angry with you, I did not have to follow very closely.”

Tandy blushed. She was not expecting the mysterious shadow to have a sense of humor. “Do you have a name?”

“What do you see when you look at me?” he asked.

“I see a shadow, a cloak,” she said.

“Then I am Cloak, until you look at me and see something else,” he said, “It’s time to bring you home.”

They stepped into the darkness together.


tpb #1, issue #4


He was a small round man, with a small round belly, a small round face, and small round wire-rimmed glasses. Tucked under his chin was a large bag of potato chips. He was using both hands to carry a steaming hot plastic cup. He carried the cup with his fingertips, switching frequently to avoid burns. “If you don’t mind, we’ll save the juice and cookies for dessert,” he snickered.

Tandy was sitting at a pew in the last row of the cathedral. She was not glowing, she was not disappearing into solid objects. She accepted the hot cup and gingerly brought it to her lips. She immediately decided against drinking the hot beverage. She blew across the surface of the tea. “Dessert?” Tandy asked.

“The Eucharist, my dear,” the man nodded politely. Her skin burned, while her cheeks flushed normally. The man fussed with the potato chip bag, he also looked a little embarrassed.

“Do you, I mean, I guess you, do you work here?” Tandy fumbled with her words. She brought the tea to her lips again, but she still couldn’t drink anything because it was too hot.

“You mean, am I a priest, or just the evening janitor?” he paused, then added, “I am Father Edward Hannigan.” At that moment, the potato chip bag burst open. He scrambled to try and hold the bag together while chips fell through his arms. “I suppose, I’ll have to be a bit of a cleaning man as well, tonight.”

Father Hannigan sat down in the pew across the aisle from Tandy. He brushed some crumbs off his pants and then looked at his hand, still greasy. He tried to wipe the grease on his shirt while he offered the bag to Tandy. She leaned forward and carefully pulled out a few chips. She looked up at him before she ate, “Thank you, Father,” then she looked up, “and uhh… I don’t really understand, but thanks for all the shit you’ve been putting me through,” she put a chip into her mouth, “honestly, it doesn’t seem that bad right now.”

Father Hannigan smiled at her, “Your honesty is all He can ask of you.” He wiped his hands on his round belly again, “Now, a moment for us to get to know each other, while that tea warms you up,” he said. He offered a brief introduction, something rehearsed, something about Florida, about Jesuit school. Tandy wasn’t listening closely, she was focused on the swirling steam rising from her tea. “It reminds me of that monster,” she thought.

“Please, tell me something about yourself.” She looked a little surprised, because she hadn’t been listening carefully, but also because she was unsure what to say. “I don’t know what you want to hear,” she said.

“You’re a dancer?” he suggested, “You can say something about that, I’m sure.”

“The leotard,” she sighed looking down and wiggling the toes of her barefeet. “Yes, I’m a ballerina now, in a professional company, like I had always wanted when I was a little girl,” she finally took a sip of the tea. “I get to wear a tutu everyday, twice a day on Fridays and weekends.”

“Not what you expected?” he asked, nodding politely. He was trying to chew a potato chip discreetly.

“No, it’s exactly what it’s supposed to be, it’s just, maybe I thought I would be different, I’d feel different doing it,” she replied, trying to defend herself. “I mean, once you think about, it’s pretty clear we can’t all be in the front row,” she added.

“I prefer to believe that you have just been performing on the wrong stage,” Father Hannigan smiled, “But my stage is optimism and faith, so I have little recourse to other solutions.”

“Was it always so easy?” Tandy asked him. She took a gulp of tea.

[Father Hannigan tells a story about failure. This will be somewhat foreshadowing, possibly just a Swamp Thing story. I can add more detail here in the next draft.]

“So we all have scars,” he concluded, “it’s how we learn, Our Lord carries scars which only prove his love for us, and represent our love for him.”

Tandy held her hand over her face while she took large gulp of tea. “Please, my dear, if you don’t mind my asking,” Father Hannigan motioned with a potato chip at her face. She turned red again, normal, embarrassed human red.

“Well, it’s not stigmata, if that’s what you’re implying,” she said, “I know you think I’m some kind of holy spirit-”

“No, no, of course not, I was just curious,” he interrupted her. He stood up and jingled the potato chip bag, “One more? Before we get you safely home?”

Tandy shook her head, no. “Do you really think it’s safe for me to leave here? That thing can be anywhere, he can move through walls, he can suck things into the, into…”

“Into where?” Father Hannigan asked.

“It’s…,” she looked back and forth as though just speaking about the monster would summon him. “It was cold, and dark, and lonely, like all the lonely I’ve felt in my entire life, condensed into only a second. And then it was over a split second later, and it was like I had only imagined the pain, like I was going crazy,” she looked at Father Hannigan, “I’m not crazy, am I?”

“How do you know this?” He asked, forcefully. He dropped the potato chip bag to the floor, letting some chips fall to the floor again.

“He pulled me through, into the cemetery,” she said while Father Hannigan stepped towards her, “I don’t really want to…”

“You didn’t see anything?” he interrupted. “Please, you must have seen something.”

“No, it was just empty, it was…. there’s nothing else, it’s not Hell,” she said, her hazel eyes wide.

“What about noise, didn’t you didn’t hear anything?” he asked, stepping towards her. “The Bible says -”

“No, just stop it!” Tandy shouted at him. She pulled her arms up in front of her, her hands pulsed with light just slightly. “Please, there was nothing. I didn’t hear anything!”

There was a thud at the door. The priest ran to the door and pressed himself against the thick wood to hear what was happening outside.“You can’t reach her in here, demon!” he shouted through the door.

“It has been through my generosity, that I allow you to believe that these walls protect you,” Cloak’s voice vibrated in the tense air. “You say your God gives Tandy her power, then I am here to worship. She has saved me, she can save others.” Cloak was already inside the church, behind them, standing at the altar.