Mid-week Metal time!

It’s Wednesday and thick, black smoke fills my thinking space (metaphorically). Before I start, I should note that I’m pretty sure no one is reading this, which is fine. the planet, as a blog, is really just a way for me to practice writing and posting regularly. If you are out there, reading this, maybe hit a “like” button or something.

Let’s talk metal.

Deathgasm2

^^^ DEATHGASM. ^^^

I think Paul told me about this movie, and I hadn’t even remembered until it popped up on my Netflix feed. If anything in this chaotic world is metal, it’s Deathgasm. Watch it on your parent’s Netflix account, just don’t watch it with your parents.

It’s not news, but Pallbearer kicks ass. 2014’s Foundation of Burden caught my grasp recently, as I scrape through my dark forest searching for ancient scrolls. The album opens with a glaring riff, beginning “World’s Apart”, and you’re instantly pulled down a muddy cyclone. I can’t get that riff out of my head; I wake with it.

Foundations… is a doom record, no questions. Don’t let that tag deter you, because Pallbearer lives within what “doom” should and can be. It’s a slow moving wave that cradles you in layers of ordered chaos. It’s the intricacies of this album, however, that stick with me. Thick strands of guitar melodies shine subtle light on their wall of sound. As lyrics cry for reason, Pallbearer periodically attaches powerfully dissonant vocal harmonies.

If you’re in Denver city, catch Pallbearer at the Larimer Lounge on Aug. 25th. Doomed Denv-y locals Khemmis will be opening, so get there when the doors open. Even better is that in some undisclosed (to me) location in Arkansas, Pallbearer begins their next epic.

Also, I’m pretty sure that Danava has a new record coming soon. I recently saw them (again) at the Hi-Dive for TRVE Brewing’s 4-year anniversary. Those time-traveling Portlanders were celebrating 13 years together – which is a really long time. If they called it after one more album, I wouldn’t be shocked. But I hope they don’t.

death

SCREAM BLOODY GORE (1987) (So they were like, 20?!)

Death‘s  re-released 1987’s Scream Bloody Gore (On Relapse Records), their debut full album. The re-issue has all kinds of demos and unheard sessions, which I can’t wait to dig through. Admittedly, this is my first time hearing the album and really hearing Death. I will now retreat to educate myself on their importance and will only return when I’m all learned!

 

Until then.

Weekly(ish) Wednesday Metal

It’s been a few weeks, but the Weekly Wednesday Metal check-in is alive and well.

I’ve got 15 minutes by myself in the office, so I crank the speaker and listen to the metal I love, as well as the stuff I haven’t heard yet.

Today we revisit a favorite, and finally give their new album a listen.

I was in my campus apartment, drinking something from Widmer, hanging with Spencer Buckle. Despite his RA status, Spencer wouldn’t snitch on my beer drinking on campus (Christian college problems). He mentioned a metal band I hadn’t heard of, “Ya man, the whole video is filmed in Portland, it’s really good.” So was the first time hearing Red Fang (“Wires”, specifically), and began a search for metal that wasn’t alive before. I knew who Black Sabbath was, and Slayer, but hearing Red Fang invited me to the local scene; the bands you really had to dig for.  Thanks, Spencer.

redfang

Not long after that, I got to see Fang during Musicfest Northwest – before the festival ditched the local venue format for 3 big waterfront stages filled with cute folk acts. Murder the Mountains had come out just a year before, so Red Fang was playing that and their self-titled album. The band dons lots of denim like any dark-lord I’d see walking the streets in Portland. Both albums were full, front to back, with melodic grunts and train-rolling riffs. The sound goes down as smooth and gritty as the Rainier that was so fervently consumed during videos and recording sessions (I assume).

In 2013, the underground metal scene was gaining footing behind albums by Orange Goblin, Touche Amore, High on Fire (live on vinyl(!!!)), anticipation for Electric Wizard‘s 2014 release, and Whales and Leeches, by Red Fang. After hearing the single, “Blood Like Cream”, I assumed the album was a bit of a flop. The sound was expected and a little too smooth, compared to the rawness of Red Fang and Murder the…. Paired with an unmistakably “Portland” music video (Fred Armisan and zombies, obviously), I had little interest in going any further than “Blood like Cream”.

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We all deserve a due process, so today I finally gave Whales and Leeches a full listen. First, let’s get “Blood like Cream” and “Behind the Light” out of the way. For both, there are these smooth edges to the guitar tones that seems distant from the sound that makes Red Fang great. The song construction, too, is mechanical and eventually loses my interest. Otherwise, I fairly enjoyed the album. Rarely did it offer an approach or sound that was a surprise, but instead brought the same full-speed grunge metal that Red Fang does so well. Songs like “Dawn Rising” include some varied vocals and even a stripped down, psych-y end section. There are similar sections in previous album, and they add nice dynamics to the production as a whole.

Listening through Whales and… had me contemplating what it takes for an album to be “good”. There is such a fine line between expanding a bands sound and maintaining what is inherit. Take High on Fire for example; they’ve stuck with virtually the same sound for over 10 years, and keep doing it better than before. Then there’s Boris, who has a distinct sound, but also floats around unusual tactics for what is the established sound. For me, Underoath nailed the progression of sound in their albums (starting at Act of Depression). Obviously, they went through a ton of lineup changes, which will inevitably affect your sound. Outside of that, though, each album tinkered with its own sound, from black metal (Cries of the Past, as much black metal as Aaron Gillespie could do as a teenager), to pop-core (They’re Only Chasing Safety), to a more old school hardcore (Lost in the Sound of Separation). Each album is unique, but all distinctly Underoath.

For Red Fang? I wouldn’t even try to give advice. Do what you do; those guys are killer and a huge source of local pride. I’m excited for whatever they do next, as long as its good.

We leave with Kylesa, on Ultraviolet. Mmmhmm.

 

Until then.

It’s your mid-week metal check-in!

Indeed, it is again that time of the week. Wednesday is almost over and maybe you need a little push? Well ditch the 5-hour energy, drink coffee instead, and tune in to this week’s metal check-in.

We begin with a bit of a throwback… There was a time in my early high school years where I was full of angst and found subtle rest in electric guitars and throat-tearing vocals. Corey Shelton, resident metal-head at the time, introduced me to a lot of good bands at a time when I thought Heavy Heavy Low Low was as good as it got (to be fair, HHLL was great in that whiney screamo era). One band that I was lead to is Finland’s own Children of Bodom.

Are_You_Dead_Yet-_(album)

Rewind back to 2005’s Are You Dead Yet?, and my two favorite tracks from album, “Are You Dead Yet?” and “In Your Face”. Bodom has been dishing out their blend of classical, death, and thrash metal for almost 20 years. The two previously mentioned tracks display their technicality, speed, and entertaining song writing. The lyrics of “In Your Face” (“…I don’t give a flying fuck, mother-fucker!”) are innately thrash and even a bit humorous. I’ve always appreciated Alexi Laiho’s vocal range, from growling song notes to all out death shrieks. Not often enough, Janne Warman will fly in with a 12-finger synth solo. Their sound is dynamic, as brutal as anyone’s, and genre-stretching.

Next on our list, take a nice swim across the Bothnia to Sweden and hear Tribulation.

It’s possible that I’m a bit late to the game with these guys, buuuut who cares. These group has always come up next to Myrkur and is nominated, alongside Myrkur, for the Best Underground group in this year’s Golden Gods awards. We begin with their newest release, The Children of the Night. The track “Melancholia” has also been released as an EP more recently.

Let me first say that I am always up for ghoulish-themed metal. One of the things that draws me to a lot of black metal (and European metal) is the experiential approach. Bands like this don’t just play a set of songs, they bring you into a fantastic world that they have created through multiple sensory tools. That is to say, I have never seen Tribulation live, but really don’t care for this record. “Melancholia” is up-tempo from the start, introducing a classic punk-leading-to-thrash kind of sound. While I like a mix of modern performance and roots-Thrash, the album falls flat after a few songs. The guitar stay in these dry tones and riff writing does little to keep the songs interesting. Similarly, the vocals stay around the same flat realm. I think this is in part a boring studio mix and an overly-formulaic song structure.

If you have the chance, check out all the bands nominated for Golden Gods awards and see what you think. Those votes are especially important for the underground bands.

Also HOLY JEEZ! Have you seen the Riot Fest lineup?!?!?  Deftones, Converge (!), Suicidal Tendencies, Fucked Up, People Under the Stairs (and a ton of good hip hop), and of course an original Misfits reunion. Sept. 2-4 in Denver, tickets are expensive, but probably worth it. See you there!

 

Until then!

Happy Hour

No one loves their desk job all the time, Shelby thought. She hit her second alarm and lay in bed, the room barely lit by her apartment window. Some mornings required a conversation to get started. It’s not like I don’t enjoy being there, she reasoned. It’s in the city, I’m good at it, and it’s more money than I’ve ever made. Shelby looked out that small window to the sides of other buildings, the tops of the front range behind them. I’ve got an apartment downtown, without having to even share a room, she told herself. It was expensive, but she knew that. The layout was sort of modern – chrome fixtures, small chairs. It didn’t hide what was really a square in a square-shaped building. She liked the new smell though, and the new look, and liked not having to worry if she was paying too much.

 

“Ow!”, Shelby whispered. Her Hydro-flask kept coffee hot, and when the train lurched forward it burnt her tongue. Paying the tolls in Denver didn’t seem worthwhile, so Shelby elected to take the train. Two years ago, in 2018, they decided that inner-city tolls might stifle the rising traffic problem. Too bad it didn’t work, Shelby scoffed as the trained passed bumper-bumper Broadway. It did make the D-Line a little crammed. Shelby liked taking the train though, being around other city-goers, and she could drink coffee while the mountains passed by.

 

That cute front-desk boy was waiting when she arrived; they exchanged a small wave and “hello”. She put her tupperware lunch in the work fridge. That lingering funky-mold smell was actually gone, someone had scrubbed the whole thing. Shelby grabbed a mug and filled it with coffee, saving the rest for the afternoon, maybe around 1pm, she planned. Clips of commercials played, then stopped, being edited by the film department on the other side of the open office. Shelby mostly managed freelance writers, editing their work before it made its way to the final website. She worked for Plucker.com, a small start-up that built sites and provided marketing services to small and mid-level businesses. Shelby pulled out a wireless keyboard, set it on her desk, and projected a computer screen to the blank white wall in front of her.

 

The work could get boring, namely editing copy writers attempts at being clever. But the people were pleasant. Every once in awhile Shelby would grab drinks with her co-worker Andy, who sat close to her desk. They were about the same age, and both enjoyed having a friend to vent work stuff to. The only thing to vent, really, was about Jace. Jace was a board-member, and had invested (with Dad’s wallet) in Plucker.com when it began in 2015. The office had no literal use for him, but he still found the time to show up and “monitor” employees. It was incredibly annoying, and usually rude. “Drinking martini’s all day in Vail apparently can get old,” Andy would joke with her.

 

Shelby pulled up her email, a good way to get into work-mode. Once she started reading, sipping coffee and munching on a muffin, she felt more content. I know this isn’t permanent. No, one day I’ll do something with my hands. Her mind drifted; like wood-working, or casting metal for expensive light fixtures. I’d wear dirty Carhartts, and my muscles would be sore by 4pm, instead of my eyes, she dreamed.

 

“Heyyy there, Shelby”. That voice. It was Jace. I hadn’t even seen him walking around. Shit. He was wearing this blocky, modern shirt, tucked into tight jeans. God, I hate those leather, pointy shoes. Someone’s getting rich selling you that cheap shit. “Well, I don’t want to interrupt, not that you were working”, he observed. “I know you can day dream, and we love that creativity at Plucker.” “Yes, I wa-”, Shelby tried to answer. “Maybe you could use that creativity to write us something really great.”, Jace mused with an awkward air-fist pump. “You can use a hash tag even! It could blow up twitter.” No one fucking uses hash tags anymore, Shelby kept to herself. “You know, I’m going to put this in an email for you. So you remember.” I know you’re looking at my boobs. Jace tried to dart his eyes, but was never very good at it. He caught a last glance, then left.

 

1:15pm had passed, and Shelby couldn’t find even a minute to get up and get coffee. Four new clients had signed on just that morning, and she was swamped trying to delegate to writers. It was turning into one of those days that you wished you’d slept through. Jace had left early on “business” lunches, but his stench hung on to her bad morning. At 3pm, she finally pulled away from the computer projection to break and drink the last of her coffee. Even in a high-tech liquid preserving device, it was stale. Did I have… Shit, I forgot to eat lunch. At 4:06pm, she put on her jacket, packed up the keyboard, and walked out to a late Denver afternoon.

 

Ugh, fuck today. She turned the key to the front door of her building. Shelby popped the top off of a bottle and sat on her progressively-square couch. A sleek headset sat on a table next to her, the piece for a new virtual reality device she’d just got. It had some cool strategy games, or you could just watch cat videos, which is what she usually did. Shelby put down her beer and put it on, just a few minutes to unwind. A menu of programs appeared, starting with the usual arcade game and online video apps. I want to do something I’ve never done. She scrolled a little further and found a program she hadn’t noticed before. She chose it and was brought to an empty grid, with buttons at the corners of her sight.

 

No way…, she read a button that suggested you could pull up any place with just a few pictures. Shelby pulled up her office, from its website online, just as a trial. A “loading” bar appeared, and in seconds she was standing in a virtual recreation of her office. Oh god, get me out. Another button to the side had the outline of a head on it, with a plus sign in front. She clicked it, and on the screen came an upload bar. Next to the bar was a small button with an “f” in a blue square. She tapped it and was brought to a Facebook search bar. Wow… Not wanting to ruin anyone she liked, Shelby brought up Jace. Again, in mere seconds, an almost exact replication of Jace was standing in front of her. Walking around the virtual office were a few others, probably people who’d been in Jace’s pictures.

 

Jace started to talk. “Hey there, how’s it going?” His voice was eerily similar. Shelby’s heart beat faster, and she found herself suddenly flustered with this projection in front of her. She glanced at other buttons on the screen. There was an option to add items to the grid, and she found a category labeled “Japan Home”. I should get sushi tonight, Shelby was reminded. The items were normal household Japanese items – sandals, mats, tea – but got more interesting as she swiped on. Behind the virtual menu, Jace kept repeating, “Hey. How are things? Hey. What’s up?” Like he’s ever that polite. Shelby scrolled past a kimono, then a string instrument she didn’t know the name of, then to a samurai sword.

 

She clicked the sword, and instantly a razor-sharp samurai sword was in her hands. She tilted her head down to see her hands, and they held the sword like a normal human would. She moved her hands slightly and the sword gleamed and angled like it was made of metal. Growing curious, she took her right hand off the handle, placed her finger on the blade, and ran it down. Instinctively, Shelby jumped, though there wasn’t any pain. Her virtual finger bled from the slice. That is so cool. She lifted her head again, and had forgotten that Jace was still there, the same dumb smirk waiting for a response. Shelby grasped the sword and brought it to Jace’s neck in a swift, right-to-left motion.

 

The projection grabbed its opened neck with both hands, its eyes staring in disbelief. His expensive, taught dress shirt was instantly crimson. The glittery accents on his jeans ceased to shine as blood ran from his neck. The sound of Jace’s jugular gurgling as blood rushed out was also almost exactly accurate. Shelby was surprised by the details, as virtual blood spread over the virtual carpet of her virtual office. Jace’s gasps for air turned into gargles as blood filled his mouth. This, and the surround-sound, high-def audio, continued for longer than Shelby imagined it would. Trying to remain calm, she hastily exited the program, shut off the device, and removed it from her head.

 

The brightness of her lightly-colored apartment startled her vision, and Shelby squinted to save her eyes. Her heart was starting to race, I wasn’t there. I’ve been in my living room. That wasn’t Jace. The sound of a slashed throat sucking for air was on repeat in her head. She was afraid to close her eyes. She knew that Jace would be there, laying on the floor in a dark pool.

 

She took a sip of beer. The clock read 5:30pm, shit, I need to get ready. Shelby changed, washed her face, and put on a light, complimenting layer of makeup. She locked her door, took the elevator down, exited her building, and began walking to meet her date.

Mid-week metal is back!

Back from a week-long hiatus, here is your middle of the week metal update. Before I begin with what I’m currently listening to, I must speak on what I saw last night.

Making her second mid-week metal appearance is the righteously talented Myrkur.

myrkur

Myrkur (meaning “darkness” in Icelandic) set the stage (at the Gothic Theater) as an ancient forest filled with ghouls playing to their princess of darkness. Lead singer, Amalie Bruun, began the set on piano, moving to guitar at times, and overall destroying every mic she held. In between drone-folk songs and blast beats were vulnerable interludes featuring Bruun singing Nordic tales. I say “vulnerable” because this was for a crowd of sleeve-ripped metal heads waiting to stomp each other out to Behemoth. That happened, but first those hearts were infiltrated by her captivating vocals, literally bringing me to tears. Amalie Bruun’s singing (and screaming) is definitely the calling card of Myrkur, but I also found their song organization, set list, and overall performance very well done. As I think great black metal should be, the show was a multi-sensory experience from start to finish.

Continuing on our theme of uber-talented female-led metal outfits is Canada’s own Unleash the Archers. I first met these guys playing the Plan B (now White Owl Social bleh) in Portland (OR). The venue had double-booked that night, and the Archers were nice enough to play a short-set between everyone else, even though they were by far more developed than any of us. I’m happy to see that a few years later they’re only getting bigger and better.

archers

My co-worker said it best today, “Whenever there’s harmonized sweeping, I’m in.” When maybe it isn’t the trendiest style, I love hearing these guys (and lady) play unapologetic POWER metal. It’s tech-y, fast, brutal, and all carried by Brittney Slayes slaying (hah) vocals. Not unlike Amalie Bruun, Slayes’ range and accuracy is something to be witnessed in person. She recently was commissioned for a Vivaldi Metal Project that could be really cool. Until it comes out, though, check out Unleash the Archer’s latest release Time Stands Still. The video for “Tonight we Ride” is particularly rhad, as are all of their videos. If you’re in the Mile High, you may join me on May 20th at Three Kings Tavern to see them live.

 

Until then!

Mid-week Metal Check in!

It’s Wednesday, and I get to work just a bit early today. That means there’s 15 minutes to listen to metal before work-work starts.

I got other things to write, so let’s get to it.

  1. Enlightened Beyond Existence (Album), by Cloud Catcher
Listen here.cloudcatherThe art that smoke creates.

Local spotlight here. I first saw Cloud Catcher on their early-spring tour kick-off, with a studded lineup (Warhawk and Dreadnought) at the Hi-Dive. After seeing those three bands, I was feeling pretty confident about Denver’s metal scene.

Cloud Catcher is straight-up good stuff. The energy on the above album is raw and present, and live, Cloud Catcher, brings even more fire to the flame. The recordings have a definite old skool vibe, like everything was mixed with straight mics instead of line-ins and technology. Specifically, the drum tones are poppy and dry, and remind me of old Mitch Mitchell sets with single-coated heads.

Enlightened… actually starts a bit slow, which is more of a testament to how good some of the album is. Once you do get to the meat, which, for me, is “Farout Man”, the knobs get bumped and you’re on the highway. “Wicked Mistress” is another of my favorites. It starts with a psych-funk, Grand Railroad-style guitar riff, then breaks right into speedy back-beats. Rory Rummings (one of the better front-man names you’ll find) tells us the story of this wicked mistress causing distress, only until we’re whisked away by a haze-trip break-down.

Cloud Catcher doesn’t seem to be doing anything that hasn’t been done, but their sound is anything but redundant. They draw off some tell-tale psych rock equations with a strong showing of musical chops. The guitars riff and noodle with the best of them, but know when to hit the gas pedal with quick power chord lines. What might be unfortunate for the moving forward is that there are a ton of heavy psych acts coming out, and it’s washing the scene a bit. But Cloud Catcher shows on this album that they can write, and I hope to see them take a leading role in the genre and really surprise us on the next album.

Edit, 2/4/2018 – Cloud Catcher’s follow-up album, Trails of Kozmic Dust is fantastic.

Until then!

Weekly Wednesday Metal spotlight

It’s 3:05pm, and that means I have until 3:30pm to listen to whatever I want.

Welcome to your weekly Wednesday metal spotlight. Let’s begin:

  1. “Funeralopolis”, Electric Wizard – This doom phase will surely come and go, and Electric Wizard will have been around before and after. It’s easy to decide that all their records sound alike, but I actually really admire their ability to vary throughout albums. My first album of theirs was Time To Die, which is as heavy as anything and well produced and makes me want to punch things. After listening to Dopethrone a little more (where “Funeralopolis” comes from), I get a more lo-fi, psych rock approach. This song, for instance, starts out a bit more reserved, that is until a mudslide engulfs your brain in sludge-fuzz.

gama bomb

Teach us the ways

2) “Ninja Untouchable/Untouchable Glory”, Gama Bomb – I unfortunately have not given this new album, Untouchable Glory, a good listen-through yet. My peers who make lots of pizza and love Gama Bomb speak highly of it. So far I’m into it. “Ninja Untouchable…” is the same hard, fast thrash of the 90s, but it doesn’t sound like a regurgitation. Can’t say the same about some other old thrashers putting out albums (*ahem* slayer).

Edit, 2/4/18 – Wow, took a swing at Slayer… Unwarranted, my friend. Slayer’s last release was really good, too, not sure why I thought differently.

3) “Return to Forever”, Blood Ceremony – My girlfriend can’t stand this song, because there was a good week where I listened to it every day. A mystic flute solo, tales of a great wizard meeting – it’s everything I need. Wait, you know what, I’m pausing it so I can watch the Wizard Bloody Wizard video that it’s on. Chris Gregson starts this awesome line right as the guitar solo hits. Tranny skating and psych Metal – someone get me a beer.

Tune in!

10-minute Metal Spotlight

Sometimes that’s all you get.

  1. Type O Negative, “Christian Woman” – Apparently my co-worker pulled up the edited version. There should have been a sexual sound of some sort. All the same, I like the thick, gothic sound. It’s a 90s metal style that I wasn’t raised on, but can’t ignore its influence. Peter Steele, I’m informed, was a metal-girl heart throb back in day. The sound puts context to Ghost; a melodic, goth metal band I’ve been listening to lately. It’s nice to be reminded that a band like Type O Negative can have primarily melodic song structures and a clean, emotional singer, and not have their metal label questioned.

“Have you ever heard of “Todd and the Book of Pure Evil”?

“Oh ya! Like Boy Meets World, but with metal and gore.”

Yes.

2. Red Fang, “Wires” – Kind of a classic for me, this was the first song that I heard by them. Fang shows up in an episode of “Todd and the Book…”, in season 2. I’ll always reminisce to days at Sizzle Pie when I hear this band, namely albums Murder the Mountains and self-titled Red Fang. Now that I think about it, I really haven’t listened through Whales and Leeches. I kind of wrote it off after the “Blood like Cream” single. Fred Armisen has become less funny over time.

Side-note: these guys put out an acoustic album… I kind of like it. Sort of sounds like trolls hymns from The Hobbit.

myrkur

3. Myrkur, “Dybt I Skoven” – Man, am I excited for this ladies next album. This song was on her self-titled release, a year before 2015’s M. The 2015 version of “Dybt I Skoven” only gets better with a years age, as I imagine Myrkur’s path will be. Can’t wait to see her in May, and can only hope that 2016 holds a new tier of Nordic folk black metal.

The Watchtower

Thick, gray clouds claw over the Rockies, in full view to the West. The wind picks up in my face, signaling the change in weather. I’ve been told that winter in Denver is not over till April, and even May has been known for surprises. February has felt like an early Spring, but I’m on my guard. With all the dust floating around, a good rain sounds perfect. Walking down S. Dartmouth, I look West to those clouds, hoping they’ll wash away the dirt.

I take my seat on the bus next to a catalog, looks like an L.L. Bean. The publication is called “The Watchtower”, something about letting us know that they witnessed Jehovah. It lays out like anything else; corner segments dedicated to ads aimed at curing your depression or lingering existential conflicts, instead of selling plush snow boots. I close it and set it down next to me, where it was found. Maybe someone else will find it interesting. It wasn’t that I didn’t appreciate the answers, I couldn’t relate to the questions.

It’s nice to know that someone’s watching out, though. I couldn’t help but stare at Super Tuesday, yesterday, trying to figure out what the next year will be like. Live Delegate Tracker! didn’t provide hope, or despair. The whole game could swing either way. Lately, the forecasting has lost its appeal, as the race for president grows more polarizing and perplexing. Not just who will win, I mean, but how we’ll all react. If anyone thinks they have something definitive at this point, be my guest.

It’s all weather. No one can dampen our early Spring, or rescue us from a long Winter. I’m believing less and less in hidden motives, it redirects blame. We’ll get what we deserve.

Lately in Denver, the nights have grown warm, as they do in the heart of Spring. It’s all eluding, though, to the months when we sit outside and eagerly wait for Summer. But we’re not there yet. First, we need a really good rain.

Open Road

My eyes widen, and I’m standing on an open road. Awake? Are we awake, the brain asks, am I dreaming? The strip of asphalt splits an expanse of tan prairies, extending into the horizon as far as I can see. I can see a wheat silo and a faded, red barn, not much else. Miles away I can see a small house, and a truck passing along the road. “Sky” ceases to be a suitable word for what is above and before me. Fluorescent tones of purple and orange lurch through rolling gray clouds. An unnatural light is cast on these remote meadows that I’ve landed on. It’s bright, though I can’t feel the sun. Some thing stirs above.

“Humans.”, bellows from above, “This has been an experiment. It will now end.” A metal arm breaks the firmament above, on its end a claw, steadfast towards its target. It bursts through the roof of the lone home and pulls someone up. I can hear the cries of others, as more winding, steel arms search for traces of human life. More branches weave in and out of the veil overhead, and the machine seems to accelerate. They have begun the enterprise of clearing, what I begin to understand, is their land.

My state of shock is snapped when another claw appears. For a brief moment, its eye, between metal hooks, locks onto mine. I break into a sprint down the road as it follows. All there is to hide behind seems to be fields of wheat, till, of course! The barn. I veer off the pavement towards it, my knees whipping tall stalks of grass. The claw is still following, but I’ve gained some ground, and direct my path toward the back of the barn. A loading door is slightly lifted, and I drop to my chest to crawl underneath. I hop up, push the door closed, and scan the inside of the barn.

The loading door led me to a holding room, covered in hay, with another smaller door at the far end. I bolt to that door and throw it open. Inside is something like an office, though the ground is hay on packed mud. I push my back against the wall and slide down to sit, feeling my heart pump in my chest. For a minute, all I can hear in this dark office is the rustling of activity outside. Then, nearer to me, there is a distinct crunch, like that of splitting wood. Outside my safe space the alien arm is searching, scraping the walls for signs of life.

The sound of metal sliding against old wood gets closer. Adrenaline has been charging my train of thought for what seems like hours. I hear the claw creep to the wall my back rests on. It lightly taps till it is directly behind my head. Hurriedly, I scoot to my left as it rams its claws through the wall, brushing the side of my head. It’s metal plating gleams in the small scope of light in this small room. The arm curves and twists at will, and at the end are four intricately designed appendages. Inside this small office it halts, as if to sniff for its prey, then turns to face me. In the shortest of seconds the fingers open and again, its spherical eye meet mine.

Involuntarily, I grab at two of the extensions. With no plan or prior thought, I hold on to the machined fingers as tightly as I can. Angered, the claw tries to wriggle away. My clench stiffens, and I can feel its joints begin to bend against its will. I pull the two fingers back over its frame as the arm shakes violently. Its small engines splinter in my palms, and I’m filled with a furious hate. Everything inside me wants to end its existence, for trying to take mine.  Still gripping one bent metal appendage, I lunge for another. The arm hastily retreats as I hold it, cutting both my hands from end to end. Gasping for air, a vigorous rush of energy sweeps over me, masking the pain from my bleeding paws. I sit back against the wall again, trying to process what is happening in a world I thought was mine; ours. For a moment, in this barn office, it is quiet.