The Mothman Prophecy

This poem was written as a reply to a Twitter-prompt called “The Mothman Prophecy” by my friend, the author and actor Marc Tizura. My contribution was originally published on July 31 as a Twitter thread. Visit the hashtag  for more prompts.


Its eyes more red than any sun
I ever saw before
Its words so chilling, voice so cold
It froze me to the core

The darkness had it shrouded but
Still clearly did I see
That from its back protruded wings
A nightmare fantasy

“I know the future”, thus it spoke
“As clear as then and now”
The raspy voice ground forth the words
“A glimpse I shall allow”

I listened then and listened well
Cause what he had to tell
Could all too clearly be the thing
That’d save us all from hell.

“Horrendous things have passed before
But nothing can compare
To what will soon befall you if
You do not all beware”

“A toxic cloud shall block the sun,
The rivers shall run black
When birds fall dead out of the sky
There is no turning back.”

“All men shall die, all women too,
all children just the same.
And in a century from now
no tongues shall speak your name.”

I stood there staring, couldn’t speak
Could barely breathe at all
The burning gaze of those two eyes
made me a helpless thrall

And when it spoke again I knew
It’d picked me for a cause
“This is a warning for your kind
In spite of all your flaws”

“To save yourselves a future you
will have to change your ways
And cease destruction of this world
Before you end its days.”

“When you do this, and only then
you’ve fled the darkest fate.
But time is short, so do make haste
For soon it is too late.”

Those words it spoke, then turned away
and left me in the gloom,
despairing that we’d never care
enough to thwart this doom.

By Chris Smedbakken, July 31 2017

My Crazy Friday

So I went to Stockholm this Thursday to participate in some workshops and lectures for my journalism course. And when they were over, I simply decided not to go home.

I took the sub downtown and wandered around for a while in the rain and the increasing darkness of early evening. The otherwise so crowded streets were emptying and the stores and cafés were closing for the night. I found one that was still open, ordered a chai latte and settled down by a small table with a candle to write.

From the ceiling mounted speakers flowed the kind of music perfect for Moments. You know, those short islands of clarity in your daily life, that you know that you will remember for years to come. Maybe with envy because you are not there anymore.

The latte was also perfect, and the words flowed. Then, seemingly suddenly, the café closed and I was out on the streets again, wandering aimlessly. It was getting too late to catch a train back home anyway, so I looked up a cheap hostel that I checked into.

The Red Boat, just as the name implies, was a hostel contained onboard a red boat laying at anchor by the river winding through the city. The room was small but perfect, and I dumped my things there before returning to the darkening city streets. In want of my camera, my cellphone had to make due.

Stockholm’s windows glowed like celestial bodies in the night and the passing cars were that imagined sky’s comets and asteroids. A friend called me, one who knew I was in town and who wanted to meet. We ate and drank and then we went clubbing. My first time in Stockholm. I got to see light and smoke and people getting thrown out in the night without their jackets for no apparent reason. It was glorious.

Then remained to return, alone, to my small room and fall asleep while the city night and the flashing lights of police sirens fell through my curtains and painted the ceiling in blue stripes.

Now I’m sitting in that very same café again, a chai latte in front of me and a realization in my mind that for Moments to happen one sometimes has to step out of the secure, comfortable box that makes us take the train home directly after journalism classes. My own train home leaves in about an hour, so I guess it’s time to drink up the latte and savor the Moment before stepping back into the box.


Oh, and by the way: my word count is now 23341. And I don’t know what my computer was thinking with the tags on this post. I’ll fix it when I get back home lol. Over and out!

Without Their Horses

Another story written in response to a writing prompt. I tried to work some symbolism in there, I hope you find it. Feel free to leave comments!


The white, streamlined vehicle came first. I reacted as the bright headlights sliced through the darkness outside and came to a stop in the parking lot. It was midnight, and this was not a well-traveled tract. Also, the car and it’s driver didn’t fit into the regular clientele at all. I muted the stereo and yawned, trying to kick myself into service mode.

I eyed the man suspiciously as he entered the Diner. Expensive suit, expensive haircut, expensive smile. ”What can I get you, sir?” A fed or a gangster, I didn’t know which of the two I preferred. The bow-tie, however, belied both theories. Who was this man?

He smiled at me and looked to his expensive watch. ”Nothing right now, thank you. I’m meeting some people here. I’ll just sit down and wait.” He paused. ”A cup of coffee would be perfect, though.”

I started pouring him one from the batch I had made earlier. ”I haven’t seen you around these parts before. Are you traveling?”

”You could say that. But I’ve been here before, many times. It has been a while now, but me and my associates come together at a regular basis, and every time that happens we meet here.”

I was confused. I had been working in that diner for ten years, ever since it opened, and I had never seen this man before. I could have missed him, of course, but I was pretty sure I would have heard about him from my coworkers. But it didn’t really matter. I settled for a polite smile and a knowing nod. ”How do you want your coffee? Milk? Sugar?”

He laughed softly. An expensive laugh. ”No, thank you, I take my coffee black. Black as tar.” I didn’t get the joke, but it was something in his eyes that told me he expected me to laugh. So I did, although stiffly. It seemed like the wisest thing to do, like this was a man used to having things his way.

I handed him his coffee. ”Nice car”, I said just to break the uncomfortable silence. ”Ferrari?”

He accepted the cup and afforded me a condescending smile. ”Maybach Exelero”, he replied and settled down by the window.

A few minutes later the night was again flooded by bright lights as another car, this one larger, pulled up beside the first one. Even after the headlights were turned off, the deep red of the hood still reflected the Diner’s lights and gave the vehicle an almost fiery impression. I watched as a man climbed out of the huge SUV. Even from where I stood I registered his muscular build, and his attire gave him away for a military man – perhaps of some rank.

He entered the door and nodded in the direction of the other man before walking up to me. His features were rugged and sharp, and there was no warmth in his eyes, nor in his voice, when he addressed me. ”I’ll have the steak of the house”, he said. ”And make it bloody.”

”Certainly, sir”, I said as I wrote down his order. Not that I needed to do so, I just wanted an excuse not to meet his fierce eyes. ”Anything else?”

”No”, he replied. ”And skip the vegetables and all the other wastes of time. I just want the meat.”

Then I jumped as he slammed his palm against the counter. ”And you look at me when I’m talking to you.” From pure chock I met his eyes and I could have sworn there were fires burning there. ”You shouldn’t be working in a shithole like this, under these fuck shit conditions. You have to stand up for yourself. You hear me?”

I nodded slowly, and tried to keep my voice from shaking. ”I hear you, sir. Your order’ll be right up.” He eyed me for another eternity before releasing me from his attention and marching over to the table. I could see him adjusting the sheath of a huge army knife on his belt before sitting down.

I tried to regain my composure as I went to work preparing the coarse steak plate. In the background I could hear the two men conversing across the table, but I was not able to make out what was being said. They seemed to know one another well, however, and when a third car pulled up outside they both looked up in silent anticipation. This car was black, and I was surprised to see that it was of a model I knew. Audi A6 was fancy according to my standards, but it posed an almost mundane contrast to the two extravagant monsters that stood parked beside it.

As the driver entered the Diner I registered that his looks matched the price level of his vessel. Smart and professional, but not overblown. He eyed the menu on the wall with a displeased frown before stepping up to the counter.

”I see you are giving away free wheat bread together with the salad buffet”, he said. ”That cannot be tolerated.”

I was completely taken aback by the strange statement. ”What do you mean? Everybody does that. Or do you mean you’d rather have gluten free bread? That’s no problem, we have that too. We just don’t keep it up front because –”

”No, that’s not what I meant. You just can’t go giving out free bread. I’ll look into this, if it’s true that ‘everybody’ does it. Then I’ll get back to you. But for now, I’ll just have a glass of wine and a single slice of bread. With lots of olive oil on it.”

I just stared for a moment. What was this man, some kind of food inspector? Was I in trouble? Instead of asking more questions, however, I just poured him a glass of red wine and took note of his strange order. ”Here you go, sir”, I said and handed him the wine. ”The bread and… olive oil will be right up. That’ll be five dollars for the wine, and the bread is on the hou…” I caught myself when seeing his stern look. ”Eh, that’ll be seven dollars all in all, sir”.

He nodded, and when he handed me the money I noticed that his golden cuff-links were shaped like small balancing scales. He then brought his wine to the table and instantly started talking to the other two.

The conversation at the table died completely, however, when the fourth car showed up. It was nothing like the others and resembled a hearse more than a private car. Its headlights were a strange tint of pale green, and the carriage body was grey. An eerie silence settled inside the Diner as the driver got out, followed by a large, black dog. The man’s walk was supported by a cane with a curved metal handle, and the lamp light fell strangely on it when he entered the door.

”You cannot bring animals in here”, I hurried to say as the man and the beast walked towards me.

The slender, darkly dressed man just looked at me, held my eyes in a calm, cold grip. I felt all the color drain from my face and my throat tighten. ”Hades follows me everywhere”, he ascertained flatly before joining the others at the table. The dog granted me with another ravenous, piercing look before proudly sitting down on the floor beside his master. From then on the voices at the table took an a more serious and respectful character, and even without knowing the subject I could tell that they were getting down to business.

I really didn’t want to walk over there with the plates, but I knew that I had to. The steak in one hand and the bread in the other, I took a deep breath and forced a smile on my face. They were paying customers and, also, for all i knew they might kill me if I attended them poorly. As I came closer, more of their conversations could be heard.

”…and placed a considerable part of my assets into companies such as Marlboro and Prince”, the man with the expensive haircut said as he sipped his coffee. ”It is already paying off – in every way, I might add.” The others nodded and offered words of approval.

The man with the cuff-links cleared his throat. ”You always were the flamboyant one, my friend. I, to the contrary, have focused on exploiting the possibilities of economization. In the last week, I have moved several departments of lucrative, western companies to Third World countries where production in cheaper and working conditions poorer. The result is unemployment here, and inhuman exploitation there. Both of which serve my purposes perfectly. I have also been looking into the potential of out-sourcing, but I’ll come to that later.”

They all looked up at me as I arrived at their table, and all those eyes at once were almost more than i could bear. ”Your steak, sir”, I murmured as I put the plate down in front of the man with the knife. ”And your bread.” I put the other plate down as graciously as I could, but couldn’t stop my hand from shaking.

The pale man with the dog grabbed hold of my wrist as I turned to leave. His grip was cold as the grave and I froze, felt my fingers go numb. ”You are afraid, dear”, he creaked hollowly. ”Don’t be. You have many years yet to live, and it would be a true shame to waste them in fear of us.”

Caught in his grip I could do nothing but stare. At him, at the monstrous dog, at the faces of the other men around the table. And that’s when I knew. Suddenly I understood everything.

Panicking, I tore myself free from that icy grip and backed away in chock. Then I ran. The last thing I heard before I slammed the backroom door shut behind me and locked it was the roaring laughter of the four strangers at the table.

I remained in that little room for hours, until dawn approached and I could hear engines starting outside. Then I opened the door a crack, just enough to be able to see the four men and the dog getting into their cars and disappearing into the twilight, as if they had never even been there. But I knew that they would always be out there, watching, waiting, wallowing.

They had replaced their steeds with the carriers of the modern generation, but I still knew them for what they were. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Conquest, War, Famine and Death, with Hades in his wake. And even though I had believed the words of Death when he said that I had many years yet to live, I realized that from that day onward I would live my life always fearing them and their inevitable victory.

Their Master Plan

A long time ago there was an ancient alien race that wanted to take over the world. They were equipped with superior technology and a total lack of empathy. But still, for reasons now unknown, they did not succeed. They went sulkily into hiding and were soon forgotten.

It is no secret that humans like cats. Everybody loves them a nice, furry cat, except for ninja rat mutants and really strange people. And because of this, you would be hard put to find a town where not at least a third of the population keeps a fluffy feline as a lodger.

But people are also lazy, at the same time as they have way too much to do. This results in a situation where cats are left alone for most of the day when their masters are at work, and are left to entertain themselves when the masters at long last get home and are too tired to suitably socialize. Cats are easily frustrated, and masters are easily guilt tripped.

There was only one way this could possibly end, really.

Really was, by chance, also the name of Riley O. Burrow’s cat. ”Riley & Really” was the signature at the bottom of all Riley’s Christmas cards, and on Facebook his professional status was set as him being an employee of a faux company with that same name. The phrase ”oh, Really” was also not seldom heard echoing through his spacious flat as he discovered yet another product of his furry friend’s innovative play style.

When Riley got back from work one evening, he wearily noticed that Really had, rather imaginatively and quite obviously for want of better things to do, turned his masters excessively expensive headphones into a chewing toy.

”Oh, Really”, he sighed as he picked up the sorry remnants of shredded cable that lay sprinkled all over the floor. The perpetrator himself made big eyes and beckoned him into the kitchen – it was time for his dinner. Riley would have loved to not give Really his food tonight, but he was to kind a master for that. So kind a master was he, in fact, that he drove into town the very next day to get the cuddlesome culprit a better toy to play with than his pricey electronics.

He quickly found what he was looking for. A large sign in front of the pet shop advertised the newest innovation: ”The Decoy” – a mouse shaped toy so engaging that it would keep the kitty busy for hours on end. It didn’t run on batteries and was totally child safe. Riley bought it without any hesitation.

Quite correctly, The Decoy became an instant hit when Riley put it down on his living room floor. Really really liked it and was totally absorbed in playing with his new toy from the moment he laid paws on it. He carried it around, beat it across the room, chased it, threw it into the air and fought it furiously with tooth and claw. Riley was content. Now his stuff wouldn’t have to fear being torn to pieces by a restless cat when he himself was at work. He went to bed.

He awoke in the middle of the night from a ceaseless racket. A burglar? He was instantly fully awake and speeding through the room to hit the light switch. But the source of the disturbing noise was just Really, playing with his new toy.

”Oh, Really?”, Riley said and went back to bed. He didn’t sleep much that night, however. The sound of a cat fighting, running, jumping and attacking kept him awake.

He was deadly tired the next day, and decided to throw The Decoy away – or at least to put it away on a shelf. The problem was, he couldn’t find it. Really followed him through the flat and seemed to be looking for the toy as well. Riley realized that his cat must have lost the toy, just as he had managed to lose all other small trinkets he had been given over the years. It was like with socks in the laundry – once lost, they were never found again. Riley decided it was just as well, and went to work – still feeling like undead shit.

When he got home, the cat was already asleep. Riley put new food and water in the bowls on the floor and followed suit. He had struggled to make it through the day in his sleepless state but now, finally, he would be allowed to sleep.

Around midnight the ruckus began. Really chased The Decoy though the apartment, clawed at it, fought it within the confined space of his transportation cage and generally made it impossible for Riley to go back to sleep again. He went up, took the toy from his cat and put it in the trash. Sleep still eluded him, however, and he spent the night in frustrated and futile attempts to get at least some rest.

At work the next day, he was not the only one to shuffle around like a zombie. A co-worker, funnily enough, cursed his own cat for keeping him awake at night. Riley shared a coffee with him, and together they valiantly made it through the day.

When he was again awakened by the sound of cat violence the next night, Riley knew that something was wrong. He had put that toy away, hadn’t he? But there it was again, being violently abused all across his floor by his completely absorbed cat. Riley screamed at his pet, but that didn’t help. He chased Really through the apartment until he got his hands on The Decoy. Once again he threw it away, but just like last night he was too worked up to go back to sleep.

At work the next day, his coffee mate had called in sick. And not just him, actually. Several co-workers were missing, and Riley had to skip his lunch break to cover for everyone.

The following night, The Decoy was back again with a fury. He threw it out the window, but still it was back again one day later. Riley despaired, he didn’t know what to do. After five sleepless nights, Riley, too, called in sick. He couldn’t do this anymore. The people at the office would have to make due.

What Riley didn’t know, however, what that more than a third of his co-workers had had the exact same thought. And not just at his company. People all over the country, all over the world, were calling in sick – for lack of sleep. Their colleagues had to work overtime and skip their lunches, in turn leading to even more people going on sick-leave. Little by little, the world slowed down – until one day it stopped.

And the ancient alien race watched from their sulking hideout and stopped sulking. Their estimations had been correct – cats were the weak spot of humankind and they had aimed their vicious attack correctly. Now the time had come to employ and deploy their superior technology and total lack of empathy, now was the time to shine. And they crept forth from their dark corners, hellbent on world domination.

Riley O. Burrow had been slumbering on his couch, but now he was wide awake, unable to believe the images that flashed before him on the TV-screen. Explosions, fires, floods, an army of space aliens marching through the capital. What the hell was happening, and why didn’t the army do anything about it? A yawning news reporter was held at gunpoint by one of the invaders.

”…and their spokes…person…has ordered me to tell you that all this has been possible because we let their Trojan Horses” – the news anchor stopped, listened to a voice in his earpiece and corrected himself – ”Oh, sorry, let their Trojan Mice, into our homes. This has allowed them to effectively wear all our defenses and infrastructure out from within. And that’s all from CNN News, I’m afraid. Now they’ll finally allow me to go home again and sleep.”

Riley just stared as the news anchor was ushered away and the sacking of the capital continued. His eyes went to his cat, still playing with The Decoy on the floor.

”Oh”, he said, sudden insight dawning on him. ”Oh, really…?”