This is a a story about a man named Olibanum Franks who met a very dangerous thief and bully on a night like this…
It was snowing on the night Olibanum Franks disappeared from his cottage on the cliffs and Olibanum who thought electricity was an uncontrollable monster just waiting to strike him down lived alone in that house by lamplight.
On that awful night there must have been some sort of accident with one of those lamps or maybe a candle because that little cottage on the cliffs burned down and from the valley below the burning trees looked just like the candles that Olibanum used to read by when the Sun went down.
All they could do in the little village of Ninebones Cross was to watch and hope the fire didn’t spread down the hillside and take them the way it must have taken poor Olibanum up there on the cliffs.
Four days later it was safe enough to go up to Olibanum’ s cottage and they didn’t find a trace of their friend; not a bone or a button or even the melted remains of the little silver rings he wore on his left hand.
So with nothing to bury the Villagers wondered what kind of funeral should they hold for their friend and in the end they didn’t have a funeral because none of them really believed Olibanum was dead.
He was just gone.
Of course Olibanum wasn’t really gone, but he knew if he didn’t get away from the crazy woman sitting in front of the computer soon he would be.
Olibanum remembered the fire and he remembered the roof caving in on his head and he even remembered the smell of his own flesh beginning to burn.
And then there was a bright light and he was lying on his back and looking up into the very unwell face of Tamara Osterick and when she smiled he knew he was in trouble.
Lots and lots of trouble.
At first Olibanum wouldn’t say a word, he went to the window and looked out into the strange world that this strange woman had brought him into. She lived in a tall building and the people and cars below were the size of children’s toys. But looking out into this awful world was much better then looking into the face of that awful monster that brought him here.
He didn’t want her to talk to him; he didn’t want her to look him. Because when she did she got into his head and that was somewhere he wanted to keep her out of as long as he could.
So as long as Olibanum’ s eyes were opened and he was looking around the woman at the computer wrote and the screen filled with words and images and she ignored him.
She didn’t care that she was stealing from him…that she had stolen him from Kamala. She just wanted the words; no matter what she had to do she wanted the words for her own.
He was nothing except for letters and words and punctuation marks to Tamara Osterick and that was how she treated him.
It was only when he sat down and closed his eyes that she seemed to take notice of him. “ You’re not helping either one of us by refusing to cooperate Ollie.” She stopped typing and looked up at him and then she shuddered.
“ Geeze, the first thing we’re going to change is that hair cut. Really, is that the best Kamala could come up with at the end of her long and prolific writing career? A crazy man who cuts his own hair and lives on a cliff and gets blamed for murders being committed by vampires?
“ I’m not crazy. “
“ Dude, you’re crazy she wrote you that way.”
“ No, she didn’t.”
Tamara laughed “ look at me, I’m arguing with a character a dead woman made up. Is that a riot or what Ollie?”
And all Olibanum could do was back up against the wall and try not to panic. But it was hard too because that woman was about to murder him and there was nothing to stop her from doing it.
All he could think to say was “ Don’t call me Ollie.”
But of course Tamara wasn’t listening.
She was too busy stealing…and losing her mind.
Olibanum couldn’t know it but his world was gone; Ninebones Cross, his burned out cottage and all his friends. Gone and the woman sitting across from him was the reason why.
There was no way for him to know, but he did and the quiet gentle man that lived on cliff in a small cottage and read by candlelight felt it…and then he began to change.
He watched the screen fill up with words and words and more words and as they appeared Olibanum could feel himself becoming less. He could see his reflection in the mirror over Tamara’s couch and his hair was changing. It was lighter and longer and his eyes were dark green now. He held his hand up and saw that all of the silver rings Kamala had given him in her first book were gone. She’d written it into the story just for Olibanum because he had suffered so much in that story. As she ended the story she thought the gift of those little rings was the least she could do for him.
He remembered the sound of her fighting with someone she thought of as EDITOR over what was called a “throw away scene.”
He’d heard her yell, “ No, its staying in there. I know it doesn’t make sense! But if you take it out I take a walk and I take those four books you want with me!”
And in the end the rings stayed and Olibanum had something in that forest of words that Kamala grew over 30 years of writing just for him.
Now Olibanum didn’t have his cottage on a cliff, he was being moved to an apartment and his hair was blond and neatly trimmed and he murdered women for fun. That’s what he picked up as the Monster re- wrote and butchered away at Olibanum’ s life.
Tamara’s thoughts weren’t as clear as Kamala’ s. They were dark and twisted and Olibanum didn’t like them rolling around in his head. But the more she wrote the more clearly he could hear and see them.
They were making him crazy.
“ Will you answer just one question for me?” Olibanum asked, “ What happened to Kamala?”
Tamara stopped typing and Olibanum saw her shoulders shake and he thought she was crying.
“ Freak accident, she was electrocuted “ Tamara choked “ her radio fell into her tub and fried her up like calamari.” And then Tamara laughed so hard she vomited all over her desk.
But she didn’t seem to care.
She just kept laughing.
So Olibanum’ s friends were dead and he was pretty sure his world was gone and pretty soon he would be gone too. Rewritten by this horrible woman and her dark thoughts.
And then he got an idea, he was inspired and he realized it was probably Tamara’s idea so it wouldn’t be like murder at all.
It was more like suicide.
With that squared up and neatly justified in what was left of his eroding brain Olibanum asked Tamara “could you open the glass doors Tamara? I’d like to feel the night air before…you know. I change. Just one last time. Please. I’d open the door myself, but I might… I don’t know… break.”
Olibanum held up his hand and Tamara could see both his hands were missing fingers and his left wrist had no flesh on it at all.
Then Tamara looked up into Olibanum’ s changing face and she felt sorry for him. Until she was done writing he was going to look like a poorly made rag doll and that of course he might stay that way if she never finished her story.
She opened the door and went into the kitchen to get some supplies to clean up the mess on her desk. When she came back out into the living room Olibanum was gone.
Tamara raced out onto the patio and looked down over the railing and then her feet left the ground and she was over the railing and as the ground rushed up to meet her Tamara’s last thought was ‘ the world is melting”
The Villagers of Ninebones Cross found Olibanum wandering next to the remains of his burned out home. His face was scared and one of his eyes was gone but he was back and that was all that mattered.
“ Where did you go Olibanum? What happened to you?” they all asked.
And Olibanum said,
“It was snowing on the night I disappeared from my cottage on the cliffs and because I thought electricity was an uncontrollable monster just waiting to strike me down I live in alone in that house by lamplight…”