The typical version of the Bloody Mary ritual goes like this: at exactly midnight, a child who has worked up just enough courage to perform it sneaks into the bathroom. They then whirl about in front of the mirror at least three times while chanting the spirit’s name, all the while hoping that she won’t appear. In this sense, they are betting against the human imagination; though these children already know that Bloody Mary does not actually exist, they must subject themselves to the possibility of being wrong to prove their convictions.
Bloody Mary also knows that she does not exist. The truth of this does not bother her.
Her immortality is not built upon the belief in her being, but rather, upon the doubt of it. Those brave enough to attempt her conjuration do so not out of a desire to actually summon her into their world, but rather to oppose the taunt of those more certain of her nonexistence than themselves (“if she’s not real, then why are you afraid to do it?”). To prove the strength of their own disbelief, they must make that disbelief physical through action, thereby exceeding the conviction of all those who challenged them.
No matter how many times this cycle takes place, the result of each iteration is usually the same. Those who survive the Bloody Mary ritual are left to question whether or not their form of it was correct; that is, whether they spun with enough precision, or whether the moon was in the right phase, or even whether the mirror was polished to enough clarity that her ghostly form could pass through it. Such musings often result in new variations on the original process. Further, there are always the liars who claim that she actually appeared to them: their stories always contradict, yet they above all others contribute to the tradition’s continuity.
Bloody Mary really did appear to them in their lies, after all.
The deeper the doubt in her being, the more her power grows, as it furthers her influence in the world. She savors every drop of faithlessness, and treasures each time her name is uttered more loudly than the last. As her legend passes from tongue to tongue, she feels the pale insects that form her sinews bulge beneath her skin, and the bile that churns through her veins grows slightly more viscous.
Though the summoning itself is never a success, the attempt is not without its dangers. Every now and then, some foolhardy child tries a bit too hard, and actually manages to perform the ritual correctly. At that moment, they cease to exist altogether, and the world forgets their name. Those are the nights that Bloody Mary fills her stomach.
The antlion is unique among modern animalia in that its evolution resulted not from a mutation within its genetic code, but rather, within the spelling of its name. Sometime during the legendary translation of the Septuagint from Hebrew into Greek for Ptolemy II, an old Hebrew variant of 'lion' used in the Book of Job was warped into the bizarre word 'myrmecoleon,' a portmanteau of the terms for 'ant' and 'lion.'
"Before paper was easy to come by, scrolls and books would be rinsed of their ink so that their pages could be reused when the original copies no longer had an audience.” A dash of lampblack bitters left a squid trail through his whiskey and vermouth. "Even after their removal, however, the molecules of ink would continue to cluster in a similar geometric manner. Because of this, most of the information was retained in the ink itself long after it had been wrung from the text.
Geogaddi, Boards of Canada’s sophomore album, was engineered so as to last for exactly sixty-six minutes and six seconds. Their fixation on the repetition sixes is clear throughout its content, right down to the title of track sixteen: “The Devil is in the Details.” Even the cover art is composed entirely of six-sided figures, a seemingly endless kaleidonoid procession of hexagons within hexagons. When the LP suddenly emerged in 2002, it debuted at a collection of six churches worldwide, in a ritual of unknown intent.
The average seashell found along a shoreline is fixed at the same frequency as the body of water that birthed it. When held to the ear, the same, steady undulation of waves can be heard, sliding in and out of time. For this reason, they make excellent souvenirs for tourists, providing instant access to memories of better climes.
Meanwhile, the spiraling apex of a black conch’s shell can be twisted in several places like a radio’s dial. The larger the mussel, the more precision that can be attained while tuning its abandoned hermitage.
Among alligators and crocodiles alike, there exist elders who remember the flavor of mammoth's blood, and even some whose gnarled backs bear scars from the fire of an asteroid's impact. Their kind have persisted for untold millions of years, long enough for evolution to nest their brains within our own like matryoshka dolls.
The human body is not a mere brain-driven machine of nerve and bone. Every subsection of its anatomy is an independent ecosystem of organisms (or organism-like structures), each with their own motivations and metabolisms. Though much of this zoology occurs beneath a veil of skin, it is still a phenomenon that can be seen with the naked eye. When one looks upward into cloudless daylight, they just might see the spectral outlines of lifeforms known as lucigens.
In the lands east of the Ural Mountains, there is said to have once grown a plant whose fruit was a fully-grown lamb fastened to the soil by its umbilical stem. To some, this beast was known as the borometz, and to others, as the Yeduah. It survived by grazing on the grasses surrounding its roots, though it could never wander beyond its own tether to the earth below. Any separation from this stem would result in its immediate death.
"From what you've described to me, it sounds like your brain is undergoing rapid shifts in chirality." The doctor's eyes were focused on his tablet. “Like you’re suddenly trading places with the other side of the mirror, yes?“
“Yeah, that’s one way to put it. But what could cause something like that?"
Kissing was invented in the city of Thusk, a seaport with thousands of citizens, yet only one dentist. Her services were scarcely needed, for the civic biologists had rendered most of her profession obsolete.
I wanted to believe the tales of Polybius, the arcade game that drove its own players to madness. It was the perfect urban legend, for the details of its telling reinforced its own state of unverifiable limbo. Any and all cabinets which may or may not have once existed were seized by the powers that be, leaving an empty-handed public to speculate about whether or not they’d ever actually been there to begin with.