The elevator lurches to a stop on the fifth floor and the orderly leads me out as the doors swish open. It’s always quiet up here. The carpeted floors, potted plants and framed paintings on the walls almost make you forget that you’re in a mental institution.
Dr. Quill’s office is the last door on the left at the far end of the hall. Harold guides me down; his hand gently gripping my elbow. In the five-plus years I’ve been here, the orderly has always been decent to me.
We stop in front of Dr. Quill’s door.
There are nice, stained-wood doors up here, while we’re stuck with steel ones painted a sterilizing grey.
Harold checks his watch and at precisely 4:00pm, he knocks.
“Come in, please.” Dr. Quill’s voice is faint and gentle.
Harold turns the knob and pushes the door open.
Dr. Quill’s windowless office appears smaller than it actually is thanks to four large book shelves that dominate the far wall. Each shelf is lined with expensive looking medical encyclopedias and I wonder if he’s even read one of them. There are two fake potted plants in the corners to my left and right.
The good doctor is standing behind his desk, smiling.
“Good afternoon, Xavier,” he says.
Dr. Quill nods to Harold who turns and leaves, shutting the door behind him.
“Have a seat,” Dr. Quill says, gesturing to the single chair in front of his desk.
I take him up on his offer and sit. The chair has always been surprisingly comfortable.
“How are you feeling today, Xavier?” he asks, pulling his chair closer by the arm rests. A yellow pad of lined paper sits on his desk with his expensive pens. He takes the cap off one of them and holds the pen in his hand, ready to write.
I smile. “Fantastic.”
“And why is that?”
“Today is the day that all of this ends.”
He begins scrawling his notes on the pad. “All of what ends, Xavier? Our sessions?”
More scrawls. “What time will this occur?”
Dr. Quill stops writing and looks at his watch, then back up at me. His glasses are resting on the end of his nose and he has to tilt his head down to look over them at me. “That’s a precise time… and so soon.”
“He’s waited long enough and sees no point in delaying his arrival any longer.”
“You are referring to…”
“So Sredna is coming at 4:09?”
I nod. “I’ve told you all about him week in and week out for the last five years. I’ve been his conduit and you still don’t believe that he exists, do you?”
“He’s real to you.”
I giggle. “Very soon he will be real to you too, Doc.”
“What will happen when he gets here?”
“He will eat our reality.”
“You say it so matter-of-fact.”
“It’s what he does.”
Dr. Quill writes some more in his notes and is about to speak when he hears it.
A low hum that’s very faint but we both register it. My fillings begin to tingle and my heart beats faster.
He is coming.
A high-pitched shriek cuts through the air and all of the light bulbs explode in a shower of sparks. Dr. Quill jumps back, letting out a cry of surprise as the entire room is thrown into blackness.
“Don’t worry, Xavier. The emergency lights will kick in any minute.”
His voice is muffled and seems far away. I cannot see him anymore in this blackness.
The blackness is moving, almost wriggling with no distinct shape.
I notice my skin is burning. The pain is excruciating yet I don’t scream as Sredna fills my mouth, rendering it useless. My skin dissolves, exposing muscle tissue and it too is quickly eaten away.
In what I can only guess to be a matter of seconds, the burning subsides and then…
…there is nothing.
~ Jon Olson
© Copyright 2015 Jon Olson. All Rights Reserved
I was born twice. Once in my own world, of which I recall very little, and once again by a human vessel. My consciousness was merged with human seed and implanted in a hot womb of thriving tissue. Perhaps those months spent within my human host are the most enjoyable in my memory. No one could reach me there. I was happy, alone, protected and silent; safe from the Fathers and not yet privy to the horrors of this Earth. Nourishment was instant. I desired nothing, much like the state I once enjoyed in my homeland. Then came the time to be expelled and no matter how much I refused, the imperative of the human body was unstoppable. I was squeezed in the most undignified way through a narrow canal, my skull and limbs crushed by straining muscles.
Deformed and coated in human slime, I arrived on this planet. I screeched in terror, in outrage. The humans smiled, their faces glazed with ignorance. They were so proud of themselves and so smitten with me, as if I really was their very own creation.
I once met another like myself. This never occurs, it was no coincidence. It was a warning, to teach me a lesson.
He appeared to be a well dressed business man. We passed each other on the street, then we both stopped and turned back to stare at one another. He looked around anxiously. He dropped his briefcase and grabbed my arms.
“Free yourself!” he hissed. “Use the humanity to mask yourself!”
He revealed his true eyes to me, the pupils stretched to long slits, the colour of the iris drained away. I looked at him helplessly and recognised the burden cast upon us, this human suffering we are made to bear. I felt his fingers morph as they clutched me, stretching and curling into long grey digits.
There was so much I wanted to ask him but I couldn’t utter a sound and our meeting was swiftly ended. He coughed, buckled and seized, his skin began to smoke and burn, the smell of it revolting. I felt his excruciating pain and together we screamed. Still clutching me he melted like wax, his body folding upon itself, bones and organs exposed for a moment before disintegrating. I stared as his sizzling remains, my clothes stained with his dripping flesh.
I was on a busy street; humans rushed past me, unaware as usual. Blind, deaf and dumb to the reality around them. I couldn’t make sense of the emotions coursing through me. Is this madness? I wondered, Can I succumb to the weaknesses of the human mind?
I have been sent here as many before me were sent and many more will follow. We live among you while your governments shoot their toy rocket ships into space. We are here beside you as you stare into the night sky pondering extraterrestrials. You are infantile, primitive creatures. My Fathers recognise your wealth even if you do not. The rich earth you live upon and the unique consciousness and bodies you possess, there is much on your planet for them to reap and therefore they sow. Each generation is a little less human as we assimilate your genes.
Their grand design and agenda, that I can’t disclose for I don’t know myself. I serve as countless others serve. I receive my instructions one at a time and everything that occurs in this human life I inhabit is preordained, I have no free will to gamble with.
I have jumped through all the hoops; school, work, family. I have upheld an identity, a personality. All these things I have endured, as well as any real human, for the sake of the Fathers. Every day I wonder, is my service finally complete? Will I soon be able to vacate this form? Perhaps tomorrow a car will crush me or I will be shot in the street or better still, I will be given the directive to do it myself. I would gladly poison this body, laughing as it twitched and jerked to its demise. I daydream about slashing wrists and broken necks. I would revel in the torture of this soft, sensual jail. I have never become fully accustomed to it. It accomplishes things in such slow, inefficient ways, victim to the savage torment of time as it gradually breaks down like a tired machine. The chewing and digestion of food, defecating and urinating, the putrid mess of sexual intercourse; it is perverse.
My swelling womb stretched my stomach to obscene proportions. I was smooth, round and ripe, ready to burst; pregnant. For the first time I felt fear, what more will the Fathers demand of me?
The man who is my husband was happy in the simple manner of humans. He served me tea, stuffing more pillows around me, propping me up like the doll I am. He rattled on about possible names for the offspring and how we should decorate the nursery.
Bloated like a rotting thing, I was more disgusted by this body than ever before. A grim depression overcame me. It was then I realized there is no higher purpose for me to fulfill. I am simply here to propagate for the Fathers.
My human husband said, “Cheer up darling, everything will be fine!”
I wobbled to the window and looked up at the night sky. Beyond those faint twinkling stars, an inconceivable distance away in human time, is my home. I close my eyes and try to remember the serene cities of my planet, free of all artifice and decoration, cold, simple, perfect; the identical faces of my clan – nothing was random in my world, nothing was superfluous, life thrived in geometric precision; and I remember the wars, thousands slaughtered in one breath by intergalactic beings more powerful and merciless than us.
The bone stretching contractions, the violent spasms cracking this body open. A spine buckling possession. No amount of screaming alleviated the torment, it was a grueling marathon to the brink of human endurance.
“Don’t give it to me!” I shrieked when they handed me the writhing little monster.
It looked so perfectly human; its skin pink, its eyes blue. But I can feel its ancient power. It is one of my kind, much older and stronger than I have ever known.
At first I tried to kill it. Surely its fragile body would be easy to kill? I bashed its little skull on the floor. I tried to smother it, to drown it. But it survived unscathed while I was struck down with pain.
It doesn’t stop howling until I bring it to my breast. It latches on and sucks greedily, the little leech. I cry the strange salt of human tears as I realize it is not over for me, it has only just begun. I am a mother of the new breed. I will grow old and wrinkled and die a tedious human death while this hybrid creature will flourish and conquer, favored by evolution. My baby stares up at me and gurgles innocently, drooling from its perfect rosebud lips.
~ Magenta Nero
© Copyright 2015 Magenta Nero. All Rights Reserved.
“Come on, Bobby, quit being such a mamma’s boy,” Darryl said as he held the front of the rowboat steady.
Bobby sat wringing his hands, contemplating whether he would get out of the boat and join Darryl on the rocky shoreline, or just like every other time Darryl got a wild hair up his ass, he’d stay behind and listen to Darryl’s embellishments from the adventure on his own.
Against his better judgment, Bobby stood and swallowed his nerves along with any common sense and stumbled toward the front of the boat, reaching for Darryl’s outstretched hand.
Darryl pulled Bobby onto shore and they tied the boat off to a piece of rebar protruding from one of the hunks of concrete making up the shore. “Well, well. Look who’s not being a pussy for once in his life,” Darryl said before delivering a benign punch to Bobby’s shoulder.
Darryl scurried his way up the bank of the island and after a deep breath, Bobby followed. Once on flat ground, the eeriness of Hart Island really settled in. Only a few dilapidated structures remained and the full moon only provided filtered light through the clouds. A stiff breeze blew across the island, carrying a unique and pungent odor with it.
“Come on, Bobby, try to keep up.”
Though Darryl was only 13 months older than Bobby, he had seen things that were well beyond his years. With a single mom at home who didn’t give a shit what her son was up to, Darryl was mostly on his own. Bobby’s mother had tried to be there for Darryl if he needed anything, but that wasn’t enough to keep Darryl out of trouble.
Bobby was a good kid and even though his father split when he was 7, his mom always maintained a solid relationship with him. Bobby knew at some point, he and Darryl would need to go their separate ways in life or they’d both end up either dead or in prison, but since it was Darryl’s fifteenth birthday, he figured he’d go along with him on this little adventure.
Darryl had a creepy obsession with death. Bobby’s mom said it was because he was the one who found his alcoholic, asshole of a dad dead in the basement. He’d gone down there to get hammered after losing another job and passed out on the couch. At some point during the night, he threw up and choked to death on his own vomit. Bobby had heard Darryl’s mom say it was a fitting end and he deserved to go like that. Bobby never understood why, but Darryl really missed his dad. Even though Darryl used to constantly have new bruises from his father, he continually talked about the good times they had, choosing to forget the shitty ones.
Bobby’s dad never put a finger on him that he could remember, but he hated his dad. Hated him for leaving his mom and leaving Bobby to grow up with no father.
“I can’t believe you went through with it, Bobby. I thought for sure you’d chicken shit out on me like usual.”
“Not this time, man,” Bobby said with the crackly voice of a boy just hitting his stride with puberty. “Where’re we going anyway?”
“Just over there,” he said, pointing toward a small clump of trees.
A few minutes later, the teenagers were standing under a group of overgrown trees looking out at a fog-covered field that disappeared into the darkness.
“What are we doing here?” Bobby asked.
Darryl largely ignored the question as he swung his backpack around and set it down at his feet. He unzipped and rifled through the bag before pulling a handful of supplies out and laying them on the ground. Darryl sat and began unraveling a spool of fishing line. “You know what this place is, Bobby?”
Bobby looked around before sitting next to Darryl. “Not really.” Bobby continued looking into the dark when a gust of wind marched through, clearing away a thin layer of fog. As far as Bobby could see, small tombstones jutted from the ground. “A cemetery?”
“Pretty good,” Darryl said. He grabbed a large set of scissors and pointed them at Bobby. “It is a cemetery. The largest burial ground in the world, in fact.” He snipped off a long piece of fishing line. “And do you know what else is here?” he said again, pointing the scissors toward Bobby. His voice had an edge to it that Bobby had never heard before. The tone sent a shiver rippling down his spine.
Bobby squirmed in the dirt before shaking his head and swallowing the lump in his throat.
“I’m gonna show you.” Darryl then pulled a large hunting knife out of his bag.
Bobby jumped to his feet. “Holy shit, Darryl. What’s that for?”
“I’ll show you that too,” Darryl said, grabbing Bobby’s ankle and pulling his foot from under him, causing him to slam back down to the ground. “Just relax, Bobby ol’ pal. This isn’t for you,” he said pointing the knife at him.
Bobby’s pulse hammered in his ears and he froze with fear. Darryl let go of Bobby’s ankle and pulled the front of his shirt up to reveal several old scars and a few fresh wounds. Bobby tried to scramble away but Darryl grabbed his ankle again. “Hang on. You can’t go anywhere yet.”
Bobby kicked and screamed, trying to shake Darryl’s grip but the other boy was much stronger and Bobby couldn’t get loose. “Don’t hurt me, man!”
Darryl stabbed the knife into the ground next to Bobby’s leg. “Hurt you? You’re my friend, I wouldn’t hurt you. I just want to show you something. Me and my dad used to do this all the time. It just stings for a minute.”
Bobby stopped struggling and Darryl released his leg before snatching the knife out of the ground. He again lifted his shirt and pressed the blade to his skin. He pinched a fold of skin, pulling it up before slicing off the fatty chunk. Darryl held up the hunk of flesh before reaching into his backpack again. Bobby’s stomach turned on itself and he thought he was going to heave, but he swallowed it down as Darryl shoved a fishing hook through the piece of meat. Darryl then tied one end of the line to the hook and got to his feet.
He gathered the rest of the line, leaving the hook dangling several inches from his hand, and swung the baited hook in circles before releasing it out into the graveyard. A grin crept onto his face and Bobby squeezed his eyes tight, hoping when he opened them, he’d be in his bed and this had all been some crazy dream. When he opened them though, not only was it not a dream, but someone else was standing next to Darryl.
Darryl and a shadowy figure focused intently on the darkness, the fishing line held in Darryl’s fingertips while the ominous stranger held still at his side. “I think we got one, Dad.” Darryl said.
A moment later, Darryl yanked his hand back and a gust of foul wind stormed through the area. Bobby got to his feet and turned to run but something grabbed him by the arm. Bobby tried to shake free but was unable to get out of the invisible grip. Whatever it was that had him, was dragging him back to where Darryl was trying to drag the line in.
“We got one, Bobby. Wait ’til you see this!”
Bobby continued struggling to break free but couldn’t. He was held in place while Darryl hooted and hollered, fighting something that was struggling at the end of the line. Shrieking came from the darkness followed by what sounded like a screaming woman. Bobby was released but found himself captivated by what was happening.
“Almost got it, man. Check it out. Get over here!”
Darryl’s focus was entirely on whatever he was dragging to them. Another gust of wind blew through and Bobby’s brain couldn’t comprehend what his eyes were seeing. At the end of the line, flopping like a fish that had just been pulled from the water and dropped onto the ground, was a horribly decomposed woman’s body.
“Woohoo! Look at this one, Dad!” Darryl yelled as the thing screeched and tried to crawl back into the darkness.
The silhouette next to Darryl floated erratically in the space around Darryl, floating in the sky like a kite in the wind.
Bobby looked back to the thing at the end of the line. Its flesh was mostly gone, and what remained was tattered and torn. Sinew and bone glistened in the sporadic moonlight as clouds drifted overhead, intermittently drowning the full moon’s light.
Once the thing had been brought close enough, Darryl grabbed the hunting knife from its sheath at his waistband and plunged it into what remained of the woman’s skull. Its struggle ended instantly and the figure that Darryl had called Dad settled down next to him, one of its wispy arms settling onto Darryl’s shoulder.
Darryl turned to Bobby with a look of complete satisfaction and elation. “Did you see that? She was a whopper wasn’t she, Bobby?”
Bobby hesitated for a second, studying Darryl’s look of complete joy and for the first time, he saw the face of the figure. He’d only seen Darryl’s dad a few times, but the face was unmistakable. It was twisted into a malevolent yet proud smile. Something inside Bobby made him forget the hideousness of what he just witnessed. The sense of accomplishment on Darryl’s face, the look of pride in Darryl’s dad’s decayed face, it brought something out inside of Bobby that he hadn’t felt since his dad left.
“Whaddya think, man? You wanna give it a try?” Darryl said, wiping the gore from the knife and holding it out to Bobby.
Bobby missed his dad but never realized how much until he saw the happiness at that moment between Darryl and his dead father.
A tear escaped down Bobby’s cheek as he reached out to take the blade from Darryl. An owl hooted in the distance as Darryl’s dad danced around the two boys, filling both boys with a sense of pride.
“Go on, Bobby. Do it,” Darryl said before socking Bobby in the arm again. “Don’t be a pussy.”
Bobby grinned, lifted his shirt, and tucked it under his chin before pinching a good hunk of meat between his fingers. “Screw you, Darryl. You’re the only pussy around here,” he said before slicing off the bit of flesh.
~ Craig McGray
© Copyright 2015 Craig McGray. All Rights Reserved.
He didn’t much like his new job. He liked working with the old man even less.
Not because the old man’s pores leaked bourbon and unfulfilled aspirations each morning; he could tolerate that. No, it was because he was the low man on the totem pole, and the old man was a downright hard-ass about it.
The old man blurted, “Got another one,” then resumed whistling the tune he’d started a mile back down the road.
He didn’t know how the old man did it, how he could spot the strays so quickly. He tried and tried but just couldn’t. All he could see was the pitted road that bumped them along, an endless stretch exiled from the interstate; lonely fields, crusty with frost. Grey clouds smothered both of them, greedy in their need to devour the sky. The kid wrung his hands. In spite of himself, he asked, “How do you know?”
“Know? I don’t, kid. I feel.”
The kid glanced at Orleans. The yard called him that, Orleans; the old man loved himself his blues. “Feel what?”
From Orleans’ mouth popped a half-strangled burp. It stunk of last night’s bottle. “Once you get to doin’ what I been doin’ for so long, you just feel it.” Eyes pulled from the road, he stared hard at the kid. Just stared, his gospel fiery in his eyes.
The kid nodded, squinting through the dust-streaked windshield, searching again for what only Orleans seemed to feel; he rubbed the skin atop his hands raw. Over divots and forgotten stone, Orleans guided the pickup. He eased off the gas.
The kid bit down on his tongue, the question where on the tip of it. But as Orleans steered through the curve, he finally saw what the other man felt and wished he hadn’t.
The kid only viewed one of them. The rest of the strays, they were somewhere, somewhere off in the village that was part of the township, but not. The township no longer recognized the village; the township no longer claimed the village as its own.
The township only dealt with the strays along the road.
Orleans pulled to a stop. They sat, the blues oozing from Orleans’ skin. Expectation thickened the air between them. “Well?”
The kid turned. “Well what?”
“Well are you goin’ to get the fuck out and take care of it?”
“Me? Why does it need to be me?”
The kid chewed his bottom lip. “Look, Orleans -”
“Look my ass, you’re takin’ care of this. It’s the way it goes, kid. I drive, you do the dirty work. My days of scapin’ roadkill are long, long over.”
A sigh, then: “I know that, Orleans, it’s just that I’m not as good as you.”
“Sweet Jesus, Mary and motherfuckin’ Moses! Bein’ good has nothin’ to do with it, kid. You do it. And the more you do it, the better you get. Practice, kid. It’s called practice.”
Practice…but no one in the yard ever mentioned anything about practice. When his pop got him the job at the department of public works, he thought his days would consist of honest work, barrels of trash and recyclables heaved into the hopper of a garbage truck. Picking litter up from curbside, maybe; filling potholes under a blazing summer sun. But the strays? No, he never thought for a moment he’d be out handling the strays duty with Orleans. Truth was, he’d never exactly known who disposed of the strays.
Once hired, he knew.
“Still don’t understand why the troopers don’t take care of this. Why they -”
“Cause they don’t, kid. Once the troopers acknowledge the strays, then they acknowledge a problem. We don’t want that. You see what I’m sayin’?”
“So it’s us.”
Orleans pursed his lips. “It’s us, kid.”
Another sigh, this one dredging the bottom of his lungs. The kid leaned, retrieving the work gloves lying by his boots. He pulled them on, face wrinkled with unbearable worry. A chimney smoke laced breeze whistled in as he opened the door. Orleans grabbed his arm before he left.
“Practice, kid. That’s all it is. I was no different from you once. Wide eyed, a little scared. But I got used to it. No different from wipin’ your ass. Strays ain’t goin’ nowhere, kid, get used to that. Meantime, we got to figure out who can do my job. I can’t do it forever.”
“Why not leave them to rot along the road? No one comes out here. Just the northerners if they make a wrong turn.”
“It’s the order of things, kid. It’s the way it’s done. We’re civil folk.” Orleans jerked a thumb towards the tree line. “But they’re animals. They don’t think like we do. Just fuck and multiply, that’s it. Now there’s too many, and if a few get hit crossin’ the road, well, we need to play our part. Now get out there, kid. Get out and scrape up that mess. You ask too many questions, anyhow.”
The kid did as he was told; he took the shovel from the pickup bed. Through his gloves, the cold of the shovel seeped into his hands. He crossed the front of the pickup, eyes jumping in his head. From behind the wheel, Orleans nodded, prodding him forward.
The sky collapsed upon him, laden with snow, at most a few hours off. It bit into his bones. He drew the collar of his flannel coat to his neck. He imagined his bed, the warmth of his thick quilt. But those thoughts were of little use now. So the kid walked, gravel crunching under the soles of his boots.
After paces, many paces, the kid saw it – shadowed, immobile – the stray, no more a pall heap along the road. He wanted to stop, to run back, but he could feel Orleans boring holes into the back of his head. Slowly, he pressed on.
When he was much younger, his mom and pop warned him about the strays, warned him about their ways, their village of twine and straw. Now here he was.
And the stray, it lay mere feet away.
The kid approached, pushed his shovel under it, the harsh grate of metal on rock making his asshole clench. But he was unable to scoop it. He tried again; the prone body just flopped to its side. “Shit.” The kid fought back tears. He glanced back at Orleans; the old man grew agitated, waved his hands. The kid took a breath. “Practice. That’s all I have to do.”
He got his back into it this time, but the weight of the stray within the shovel’s pan startled him; it was deceivingly heavy. The body tumbled.
With the back of his glove, the kid wiped his mouth. Practice, dammit. He looked to Orleans again, seeking approval for his determination. The old man remained a flurry of hands. Strange. The kid didn’t understand. Then he turned.
They emerged from the tree line, skin slick with the frost that coated the grass. Even from the distance, the kid could see their limbs shivering, the shudder of muscle beneath their vitiligo-spotted flesh. Set low upon their haunches, they fanned out in groups of three; groups of three here, groups of three there.
It came out as a hoarse whisper. The kid could barely talk. He watched while, indifferent to the grey canopy of morning, the strays advanced without trepidation, a trait so wrong from anything he’d ever been told.
A melody now, trancelike in its progression. The kid opened his mouth, still unable to articulate words. Movement distracting his attention from the strays; the body at his feet was not so prone anymore. It pushed itself to its side, rearing its head back, an oblong aberration set upon a thick stalk. It peered through tearing, membrane sheeted eyes. A needled tongue lolled as it sang. “Orleansss…you tell Missstaaa Orleansss…he take oursss from oursss all the time…yeah he take oursss from oursss all the time…now we take yoursss from yoursss oh yeah… take yoursss from yoursss we gonna dine…”
The kid should’ve slammed the shovel atop the stray’s head. Should’ve…but lack of experience left him ill prepared. Instead, he dropped it and turned on his heel. But Orleans had already thrown the pickup into reverse, a gravel infused cloud erupting from the rear tires like a bomb blast. The kid understood.
He understood why the old man’s love of the blues preceded him. Understood why Orleans couldn’t do the dirty work forever.
“Yoursss from yoursss, we gonna dine and dine…”
Orleans was a speck down the road. The kid’s boots still hammered the broken pavement, though. His feet ached under the morning half-light, but the strays squeezed the road from both sides, their needy gait worse than their appearance. The kid thought he heard some blues whistled from another tongue mutated a longtime before. The kid laughed, wondering who Orleans might choose next to do his job.
The kid laughed and laughed; he laughed until he cried.
~ Joseph A. Pinto
© Copyright 2015 Joseph A. Pinto. All Rights Reserved.
One thing was for sure, they were not going to get fucked out of a proper Halloween. The night was middle-aged, but there was still time to do what was their God given right.
“Aren’t you a little too old for trick or treating?”
Mr. Benson, he of the horrid comb-over, man boobs and disturbingly bulbous earlobes, clutched his bowl of candy to his gut, refusing to dole out any of the mini chocolates. His house smelled like onions and old man farts.
“I didn’t know there was an age limit,” Jon said, holding out the plastic shopping bag.
“And where are your costumes?”
Jon and his buddies Ray and Chelsea stood on Benson’s small porch dressed in regular clothes. Chelsea was a little goth, so her thick black eyeliner, pale skin and all black outfit should have counted for something.
“We forgot them. So how about just one candy each?” Ray said, grinning like a wide-eyed lunatic.
“Grow up and get a job!” Mr. Benson shouted, slamming the door.
Jon laughed. “Well, looks like it’s all tricks for bitch tits.” He grabbed the cardboard skeleton on the door and tore it down. Chelsea stomped on it for good measure while Ray filled the mailbox with shaving cream.
The trio of sixteen-year-olds ran across the street, swallowed up by the blackness under a busted streetlight. It was the first real chilly night of the fall and the streets were emptying out of monsters and superheroes, firemen and fairies. By the light of the half moon, Jon could see the heavy vapor of their breath.
“How much you got?” Chelsea asked, ruffling the candy in her bag.
“Not much,” Ray said. “Couple of chocolates, some old lady candy and actual freaking pennies. Who the hell gives out pennies?”
Jon dumped his pennies on the sidewalk. “I think it was that old Irish lady. She mixed them up with those lemon balls. I bet she’s had those balls since the 70s.”
Ray laughed, slapping Jon’s arm. “I bet she had a lot of balls in the 70s!”
“You guys are gross,” Chelsea said, rolling her eyes. “She’s older than our grandmothers.”
“And just as cheap,” Jon added. “You guys wanna go around the block, see if anyone’s still answering?”
Ray checked his other bag. This one was filled with cans of shaving cream, a few remaining eggs and two rolls of toilet paper. “Yeah, I got enough for at least one more block.”
This was the year they swore to have their cake – or candy – and eat it, too. Tricking and treating! Next year, it would probably just be running around on mischief night. This was their last hurrah, even if they didn’t bother to dress up.
“This time, we let Chels ring the bell. They’ll think she’s like someone from the Addams Family and we’ll just sneak our bags in,” Jon said, leading them up to a lighted porch.
They’d tried the I’m just getting candy for my sick little brother act but got very little action. The adults were being awful stingy this year. Jon knew it didn’t help that he had the makings of a sweet beard and mustache and Ray was six feet tall.
“You guys are hysterical tonight,” Chelsea said, ringing the bell. “I should have gone to Trish’s party.”
Ray flicked her ears. “You know that wasn’t even a possibility. The three amigos and Halloween are like PB&J. You’d be miserable without us.”
She swatted his hand away. “Yeah, well, someone has to babysit you two.” Jon saw the flash of a smile in her reflection in the door’s windowpane.
A curtain pulled aside. A woman shook her head when she saw them, refusing to open the door.
Jon shrugged his shoulders. “Should have answered the door.”
There was a painted pumpkin on the porch railing. It had the face of a witch, warty nose and all. He tucked the pumpkin under his arm and walked to the middle of the street. “Care to do the honors?” he asked Chelsea.
“Why, thank you,” she said. Rearing her leg back, she kicked a hole in the witch’s face. Seeds and guts splattered her black leather boots. “Now that’s nasty.”
Ray and Jon played a little soccer with the wounded pumpkin before kicking it down the street where it settled over a sewer grate.
“One down, like twenty more to go,” Jon said, eyeing the long row of houses ahead of them.
They were the only ones on the block still trick or treating. Some people said they were out of candy, but most didn’t even bother answering the door. In return, Jon, Ray and Chelsea TP’d one tree, emptied three cans of shaving cream and egged two cars sitting in a driveway.
“We better move to another street,” Ray announced when all of the eggs were gone, their impact setting off a car alarm.
They jogged for two blocks, the cold night air stinging their lungs. They stopped outside a small apartment building, fishing out candy from their bags, dropping wrappers on the ground. “Think there are any razors?” Chelsea asked, munching on a peanut butter cup.
“That’s such bullshit,” Jon said. “All those stories are made up to stop little kids from eating all their candy.”
“Do you guys wanna try some more houses or call it a night?” Chelsea said. “I’m cold.”
All of the porch lights on this stretch were out. Halloween had come to an official close.
Then Jon spotted something that made the hairs on his arms and upper lip stand on end. “Check that out!”
Three houses down was a long walkway lined with carved pumpkins. There had to be at least twenty. A few still had guttering candles glowing inside. There was no way they could walk away.
“You got your shit kickers on?” he said, lips curled up in a devilish grin.
“Oh yeah!” Ray said, running to the house.
Chelsea clutched her stomach. “Oh, that doesn’t feel so good.”
“That’s what happens when you eat like ten peanut butter cups. Come on. You can squeeze them out like Willy Wonka later.”
Ray waited patiently by the first pumpkin, triangle eyes and an inverted triangular nose with a jagged, gap-toothed smile. It was a classic jack-o-lantern, just asking to be bashed.
“Time to sign off with a twenty pumpkin salute,” Jon said. They each picked a pumpkin, eyed one another, pulled their legs back and kicked as hard as they could.
Ray was the first to scream. “Ow ow ow ow! It’s got my foot!”
Jon was about to tell him to stop screaming like a girl when something clamped down like a bear trap on his ankle. He heard the bone snap, felt fire run up his leg to his balls. The pumpkin’s mouth had slammed shut on him. Its eyes narrowed as it chewed on his foot.
“Oh my God, it hurts!” Chelsea wailed. She was on the ground, a pumpkin munching on her foot, two others gnawing on her hands.
Ray lost his balance, falling beside her. Three pumpkins rolled from their perches, mouths opening wide, tearing into him. The largest of them engulfed Ray’s head, cutting his agonized lament short.
“What the hell?” Jon tried to hop away, but the pumpkin on his foot was suddenly as heavy as an anchor. His other ankle rolled. He face planted on the hard concrete. His front teeth shattered like porcelain. More and more pumpkins spun toward him, their carved teeth impossibly sharp.
The pumpkins soundlessly masticated the three amigos, gobbling them like Halloween candy.
~ Hunter Shea
© Copyright 2015 Hunter Shea. All Rights Reserved
They say the apocalypse is coming. In five years, they estimate, a meteor will strike the earth and wipe it clean of life. Five years is not a long time, but it is long enough. It is long enough for weddings and funerals for those who cannot wait, for that walk down the beach, where he first holidayed with his family at St. Bees. It is long enough for work, long enough that the world still turns, for now at least. So he finds himself on a train platform each morning, stepping onto a carriage, staring through dirt-smeared windows as the world passes him by.
Sometimes he thinks he could sit there forever, watching the countryside slip past. Trees blur into fields, which seem to stretch, longer than any field should, until there are no boundaries, no roads, no thicket hedgerows, only a palette of greens and browns beneath blue shining skies. The carriage rocks beneath him, lulling him slowly in his seat, while far above cerulean clouds blossom with wind and rain. He has only eyes for their phosphorescence, their purple twilight tinge, and for the twenty minutes it takes him to reach the next station he is lost in their depths, rolling with them through the sky; a fish caught in their awesome ocean pull.
Then the train shudders, stops, expels its load, and he is back inside his business suit. His mouth sighs. His shoulders sag. The Underground drinks deeply of his soul.
People swarm up escalators, spilling out of the station into the road. Traffic screams after them; a chorus of sirens and sudden brakes. Women wobble past him on heels too high while men with faces shaven clean march briskly in their wake, and in between their legs dogs gambol, vagrants dance another day with life. He wonders when it began; when things first showed signs of ending up this way, then remembers he need not wonder about anything anymore, ever again, for more than the minute it takes to type as much online.
His offices are tall, grey things overlooking a grey Thames. His room is on the fifth floor, next to administration. At eight-fifty he takes the lift, in the foyer beside the stairwell. His shirt is hot and wet beneath his arms. Inside his office, he closes the door, sits at his chair, which sinks beneath his weight, and stares at the face reflected in the blank computer screen. Drawing a deep breath, he begins to type.
He does not know why administration is called administration, why it is singled out when they are all administrators; every man in his pin-stripe business skin, every woman with her pay-check pulse, record-keeping, number crunching, so that the world will keep on turning. He thinks about love, and what it might feel like. He thinks about death, and when it was that they all died. Sometimes he turns in his chair and stares at the plant in the corner with its plastic fronds, its sterile soil, its bright, synthetic stem, until it is all he can do not to close his eyes, ball his fists and scream at the top of his voice.
He does not remember weeks in terms of days. He does not remember working weeks at all. There is only one day repeated, in which he wakes up, travels by train, pushes through crowds, through streets made black with rainwater to stinking, sweaty offices built of old brick the colour of dried blood, peopled by corporate puppets in black suits with empty eyes and long thin fingers twitching by their sides.
They say the apocalypse is coming. In five years, they estimate, a meteor will strike the earth and wipe it clean of life. He wonders if it has not come already. Not by fire and smoke but a commuter contagion; this, the human condition, made better for a few minutes each morning by the birds in the sky, the distant glimpse of a dream in the clouds.
~ Thomas Brown
© Copyright 2015 Thomas Brown. All Rights Reserved
He is weak, the large gash in his stomach slowly killing him, yet he crawls onward. Gripping dirt, the dying man pulls himself closer. His eyes rest upon the stone carvings; upon the angel. There he hopes to feel his lord’s embrace; to feel salvation. Fingertips reach out, touching it, feeling nothing. A groan escapes his lips, morphing into a scream. Pain engulfs his body, growing cold, announcing the arrival of the beast. Any hope of salvation fades as the foul one laughs. It’s just empty stone. Another false idol. Grinning, the foul one tears out the dying man’s throat.
Of god and guise
Joseph A. Pinto
What fear say you?
To which I reply possess no fear, nor cowardice, for that matter. I am of an esoteric order, keeper of the indulger of dust and decay. To my god I owe nothing but respect. I, its dutiful tasker of divine immolation.
Ssh. Agonize not. To your knees. In newfound supplication, your chin now lift. See my god. Know my god. Relish its kiss as to stone I press your cheek.
Let my god eat through grit until grit turns to bone. To flesh. And through your flesh, baptized newly my god once more.
Welcome, my master…
With a final shriek it was expelled, I tried to kicked it away. The nurse scooped it up, oblivious to my panic. Tears streamed as I squeezed my eyes shut but I heard it’s first gurgled cry and my resolve melted. Sobbing I turned to face the babe. It was held aloft in gloved hands; a strange, blue wrinkled thing. We both fell silent as our gaze met. Then it began and I watched helplessly as it spread. Fine hairline fractures became deep cracks, it’s wriggling limbs froze. The nurse screamed as my baby crumbled and shattered in her hands.
by Tyr Kieran
They teach rules with which to govern yourself—defining factors handed down from our creator looking to reward those that act accordingly. Then there’s societal laws, rules made by man and enforced by the same. They pound them into your head from birth. But, they neglect to tell you, it’s a flawed system! Following these rules only leaves you or your loved ones vulnerable to those living of their own accord. One such “rogue” killed my son. Now, I say fuck the system! I’m making my own rules from here on out. Revenge won’t be sweet enough, but it’s mandatory!
Hallowed Be Thy Name
The past haunts us like ragged ghosts, like the remembered scent of an old flame. I prayed to Him. For three years I knelt, palm to palm, seeking forgiveness.
“Father, can you hear me?”
It was the thirteenth when He answered. Three years, of tears, upset, not knowing where I fit in. I woke, crusty-eyed, cold. 3am. Moon fat in the sky.
For the longest time, silence. I was used to this. I began to drift off. Then bedsprings, sudden weight, a whisper in my ear. The Lord smelled a lot to me like wet dog.
“I hear you.”
The eyes stare out, seeing what they don’t see. He’s been here long enough to see the forest grow up around this place . . . a place meant to elicit oohs and aahs. Apparent youth beams a message of happiness and innocence. Yet not is all as it appears.
Strength lies within the arm of the child, the ruddy bas-relief almost giving it a hairy appearance. The arm of the beast. That’s what the legends say. Stay away at all costs.
Not everyone heeds the words of the wise ones. Self-sacrifice. Unwilling. Final.
The smile spreads wider. The child has been nourished.
Stone statues and distant memories are all that remain of children. Gone are the days of playgrounds filled with joy and laughter, replaced instead by the tears and sorrow of those who cannot let go the thought of holding a child, their bodies unable to produce what they long for. We allowed the world around us to decay into a cesspool of man’s worst traits, ignorant to the consequences of our actions and even more damning was our inaction. Some waited for a violent apocalypse to descend from above. Instead, we received this silent wrath. Soon we’ll all be gone.
Every Other Weekend
Christopher A. Liccardi
“Why do the eyes follow us, Mommy?” The boy asked, rubbing snot from his nose with his sleeve.
“Because someone needs to watch over you. Mommy can’t always keep an eye out. “She knew their time together was short; no longer than a walk to the other end of the cemetery.
“Is this where Daddy lives now?” he asked.
“Yes, it is sweetheart.”
They reached the entrance to the lonely grey slab building. It smelled of new decay and dried flowers.
“Mommy?” he questioned in a nasely voice.
“In ya go, kiddo. Daddy’s waiting.”
She closed the door behind him.
Rough, with hints of moisture from the morning dew – each sensation punctuated by the never-ending cold. Careful to touch only the surface where the memory was etched, and not the deeper rock that offers no sentiment, he outlines the gravestone with ghostly fingers.
The dead feel more than the living ever could. Cumbersome flesh is like a thick glove, hiding most sensory input. His spirit’s fine matter misses nothing. The sole visitor stopped only to admire the exquisite art, oblivious of the weeping apparition.
“If they will not visit me, then I will bring the bitterness of the afterlife to them.”
Rings of Death
She comes always – even on the coldest of days. She comes and weeps fained devastation. My father watches silently; a man broken by his pain. The carriage stands vigil; the horses fuss, hair shimmering in the sunlight. The stable hands often complained of the muck after our adventures; but their silence already bought. The animals pristine by the time father broke from his study; our supposed jaunts to the park never fell suspect. Mother and I traveled to wooden houses, each bore a mark upon the door; a mark the same hue as the flowers now spilling from my pockets.
Each piece of fiction is the copyright of its respective author
and may not be reproduced without prior consent. © Copyright 2015
Image © Copyright Dark Angel Photography. All Rights Reserved.
As Mathew entered the storefront, he hung its key from the tooth of a snarling dog. The statue of the hound had been on that table since his childhood and time had seen fit to leave it. His hate for the place flared in each muscle the second he entered the building, but it was a strangely enticing feeling. The old room looked deliberately ramshackle, intended to add to the mystique, no doubt. ‘Shabby chic’ people called it; rundown he called it, but it was his business now.
He knew his father had been into some really terrible things, but he never stuck around long enough to take part in the ‘family business’. He’d left home at eighteen and never looked back. He’d tried to forget all of it and had managed to succeed until a letter arrived by courier last month; it was addressed to the proprietor of The Old West Wax Works. The woman who delivered it was attractive and left not only her number, but the lingering scent of her perfume on the delivery receipt along with his father’s will. They’d begun seeing each other almost every night since. She’d asked about The Old West Wax Works a few weeks into the new romance, but he never explained and she never pushed.
When he told her he needed to take care of family business down south, she hadn’t asked to be included which was a good thing; maybe she was ‘the one’ and his impending bad mood would seem unattractive. They talked about weekend plans and she mentioned heading down the shore to surprise him for a visit, but he barely listened; he’d been preoccupied with his father’s will. The tasks he needed to complete weren’t complicated, but they were going to be messy and time consuming.
Mathew spent that first day cleaning counters and getting rid of the old dust cloths and boxes, and something shifted.
The place didn’t need to be spotless, but it did need to be presentable when his first guest arrived. He felt the cold fingers of anxiety grab hold of him and fought them off. This place was in his blood and always had been. He saw that now and felt – proud.
He thought about the delivery woman, Claire, as he toiled about the place, and wondered if she would like it here. He genuinely liked her and hoped she would. He looked forward to seeing her again as soon as he could.
The bell over the door jangled its discordant tune.
“C’mon in, we’re open for business.” Mathew said.
Mathew caught the scent of a woman’s perfume; it was familiar to him by now. He hesitated, fought the urge to be like them, to turn into the monsters his predecessors had been. He smiled when he saw her, all doubt faded, then he stepped on the button that opened the trap door. The fight was over.
The sound of the heavy door slamming shut cut off the screams from below. He knew she had broken both legs and cracked several ribs when she fell, but that was all fixable. His father’s tools were already sharpened, ready for use after so many years of neglect in the storage boxes.
He liked the delivery woman, Claire. He hoped she liked it here, too.
~ Christopher A. Liccardi
© Copyright 2015 Christopher A. Liccardi. All Rights Reserved.
Private Wilhelm Hausser stood trembling, and for the first time it wasn’t because of the perpetual screams from behind the door of his post or the gruesome state of the bodies he was tasked to drag out and dispose of each day. This time, his body shook under a flood of adrenaline invoked by a different type of scream.
In an echoing torrent, Hausser’s commanding officer scolded him between gasps of air. Lieutenant Altstacht’s frame jerked and twitched with each exclamation, engorged veins pulsing in his neck, but his right hand held firm—the hand holding the loaded 9mm Luger inches from Wilhelm’s face.
“…unacceptable. You will face severe repercussions!”
Both men dripped sweat and struggled to keep their breath as the situation escalated. The other solider, on post opposite Wilhelm, pressed himself against the wall, doing his best to become invisible.
None of them noticed the clopping footsteps approach until they stopped. Private Hausser’s eyes drifted to the waiting group of men. Their identity was unmistakable—black uniforms emblazoned with dual lightning bolt letters and a silver skull glimmering atop their helmets. Wilhelm, in sync with the other Private, jolted into a rigged stance, their complexions more pallid, their right arms raised.
“…either astounding ignorance or an utter lack of—” Alstacht’s existence froze. Then, he lowered the pistol and snapped into a salute.
One man broke from the group and faced the officer with a clack of his heels. “At ease, Lieutenant. What is the disturbance here?”
“M-my Führer, I am honored by your presence. My sincerest apologies for the disruption,” Alstacht said with the lowered gaze of a scolded child.
“Nonsense, I am a man of the people and I wish to help. Please, enlighten me.”
“The… uh, Private here, was being reprimanded for failure to follow orders and repeated offenses of unauthorized attire in disrespect of the uniform.”
“Hmm, yes, this is not good. What is the exact offense?”
The Lieutenant’s posture straightened and his voice now held much of the strength it had prior to the group’s arrival. “Repeated exposure of a necklace promoting unauthorized symbols—the Christian cross and some other nonsensical medallion. The solider had been warned previously of such an offense.”
The Führer walked over to Hausser and lifted the charms in the palm of his hand for a closer inspection. With a swipe of his thumb, he brushed the cross aside to view the medallion—a pewter cast of three interlocking horns. The Führer glanced at the Private before returning to Alstacht’s side.
“And, what was the decided punishment?”
“The official punishment for insubordination is death, my Führer,” the Lieutenant answered and retrained his pistol on Hausser.
“I see,” Hitler said, pursing his lips. “It is a shameful loss, but rules are rules.”
Then, gesturing to Alstacht with an open hand, he inquired, “May I?”
“Of course, my Führer.”
Hitler raised the pistol and locked eyes with Private Hausser. In a calm, swift motion, he turned to the Lieutenant and pulled the trigger.
Alstacht’s body crumpled to the floor.
“Now, let me be clear,” the Führer announced, “ignorance is unforgivable. No situation can be defined by the black and white of a rule book.” Hitler then gripped Hausser’s shoulder. “Forgive the misunderstanding. Please, come with me and tell me why you wear Odin’s symbol.”
The two men walked down the long corridor with the SS marching behind them. Hausser had similar features to those in the SS and stood at least eight inches taller than their leader.
“My grandmother raised me on both the pre and post-Christian Norse religion. I wear them to honor her and to honor the Gods.”
“Do not those symbols clash?”
“No, my Führer, I believe that there is a closer connection than currently known. I believe they are both based on an older mythos.”
“Ha,” Hitler laughed aloud, which caused more than a few widened eyes behind them. “Private, you were quite underutilized.”
After a few turns through the complex, they approached a heavily guarded door. The soldiers on post saluted as they crossed the threshold.
The room was massive. Broken into several areas, it looked to contain functions of a library, a science laboratory, a museum, and an odd variation of a church sanctuary. Nazi regalia lined the walls and men were hard at work in all sections.
Hitler led them across the main hall and into the Library’s archive examination room, waiving off salutes as they went. A small team of scholars hovered around a book laid open at the table’s center as they took notes and referenced other texts. They dropped everything and gave salute. One of them, after receiving the return salute, approached the Führer. His complexion reddened and beads of sweat formed across his brow as he waited for Hitler to speak.
“Dr. Bunzel, I have not received Himmler’s report on the new item.”
“My Führer, please forgive the delay. We have translated portions of the manuscripts and are only now able to run some tests on its accuracy and potential.” The doctor gestured to the sanctuary at the far end of the great hall where men looked to be preparing for a ceremony with lighted candles and incense.
“Pnakotic,” Hausser spoke softly, an unintentional word falling from his lips as he peeked over Bunzel’s shoulder to the book in the examination room.
Both men stopped and looked at him.
“Is that the Pnakotic Manuscripts?”
The doctor’s mouth dropped open, his gaze shifting from the young soldier to the Führer and back.
“Dr. Bunzel,” Hitler said with a smirk, “meet Private Wilhelm Hausser.”
“You know of the manuscripts?” the doctor asked.
“I-I never knew if they were real or myth, but, yes. It was said by Norse mystics that the manuscripts held the true origin of the Gods… all the Gods that we now see as different religions. They are all incarnations—representations diluted by the framework of human sanity—of the true supreme beings that rule over our existence.”
“How do you know this?”
“Are the manuscripts penned in Old Norse or the elder language?”
“It’s, uh, Duriac, or, as you say, the elder language,” Dr. Bunzel answered, still slow in finding his words as he stared with a pinched expression. “What else do you know about the manuscripts?”
“I’ve heard there is a Norse version, lost chapters of the Sagas, emblazoned with the tangled image of Jormungandr. But, this creature is not the spawn of Loki as the mythology is told. That serpent of the sea is but an appendage of the true being—a much older, horrific creature of inconceivable context and power—one of the Elder Gods. The manuscripts offer historical reference, but also passages of worship and incantation. Norse mystics included words of warning as well, safeguards so to speak, that were not in the originals texts. I urge you to not—”
Excited voices from across the hall grew loud enough to demand their attention. One of the scholars, clad in a heavy robe, shouted at the altar with his arms outstretched. A breeze swirled through the room, ruffling the large Nazi banners and threatening to extinguish the candle flames. The man slowed, hesitating in his incantation. He searched through the translated documents with a frantic flipping of pages.
A deep rumbling sound emerged as the floor shuddered.
“This can’t be good,” Hausser said and cursed under his breath as he leapt forward, snatched the Pnakotic Manuscripts, and sprinted toward the sanctuary.
“Hey!” the doctor objected.
The group rushed to follow the young Private. When they arrived at the edge of the church, Hausser was there, already paging through the manuscripts.
“You can read them?” Dr. Bunzel asked.
“Not entirely, but I may know enough,” Hausser said without looking up.
The makeshift priest shouted a sequence of ancient words and the tremors stopped; a moment of calm hung heavy in the room with a wide eyed look of confusion on all the faces. Then, booming from all directions, a voice of grinding stone and thunder replied to the incantation.
“Hasyrath r’ylek n’gklul.”
The scholars rifled through their notes arguing in harsh whispers.
With no direct reply, the monstrous voice spoke again.
“It’s saying something about, uh, a true gift,” Hausser said, drawing the attention of those around him. He stood squeezing his eyes shut, scouring his memory for a better understanding of the language. “No wait, it’s asking for a worthy offering.”
“Ph’nglui kadishtu ehye fhtagn r’lyehoth, gnaiih mnahn fhtagn.”
“No blood sacrifice was given,” Hausser translated, “so blood he shall take.”
They all stared at the Private, waiting, hoping he’d correct his translation.
Just as Hitler moved to voice an inquiry, the makeshift priest screamed and dropped to his knees. He held his face in his hands as blood oozed out between his fingers. After a moment, his shrieks dwindled until he knelt in near silence, his heaving breaths the only sound in the entire hall.
A lone scientist approached the priest with great caution, each of his footsteps placed with visible hesitance. He knelt down next to the man and, with a craned neck and a gentle hand upon his shoulder as if consoling a lost child, he offered to help.
The priest removed his hands from his face and reached out to the scientist. A gasp flowed through the crowd of onlookers as his empty eye sockets were revealed. The two men rose to their feet and the scientist waved to the soldiers for assistance. The priest, instead of reaching for support on the other man’s shoulders, clutched the scientist’s head and cackled wildly as he squeezed. In a matter of seconds his hands, now covered in blood and grey matter, found each other.
Screams erupted throughout the hall.
The soldiers skidded to a halt a few feet away and immediately readied their rifles. With gore dripping from his outstretched fingers, the priest turned to face them and they opened fire. A series of bullets riddled his chest, their impact jostled his body, but he kept shambling toward them. Then, in a voice like screams amid a buzzing storm of insects, he spoke to them, “R’lyehoth mnahn fhtagn.”
The soldiers crept back again, trying to keep a safe distance, but the priest, with only a sweeping gesture, sent them and all to the floor, clutching their helmets and writhing in agony.
Full panic hit the room. Scientist and scholars ran for cover and shoved past each other to reach the exits. The SS core formed a barrier around the Führer and fired at the possessed priest.
“Found it!” Hausser shouted. Ignoring the gunshots and the urgent questions from Dr. Bunzel, the Private stepped out of the crowd and approached the altar. He grabbed a silver saucer, brushed off the incense ash, and rushed over to the scientist’s corpse. As he fought down the rising bile in his throat, he scooped up brains and blood with his bare hands to load up the offering plate. On the floor at the base of the alter he drew symbols in blood that looked like variations of three interlocked triangles and modified pentagrams with a central eye.
By that time the SS had inflicted enough damage to the priest’s skull, spine, and torso to render him little more than an abstract pile of hot meat. As they sighed their relief and reloaded their weapons, the five victims of the priest, rose to carry out the will of their possessor.
Renewed gunfire thrummed in Hausser’s peripheral attention, but he remained focused. He stood between the blood-drawn symbols, with the offering plate held high, and called to the Ancient Ones.
“Vulgtlagln naep vulgtm shtunggli zhro ee naR’lyeh”
The complex shook violently and the thundering voice replied, “Nilgh’ri sll’ha vulgtm ilyaa li’hee. Ehye fhtagn.”
Hausser’s shoulders slumped. He turned to look at the human chaos behind him. More death bloomed through the hall as people trampled each other and soldiers succumbed to the possessed corpses, while all those screams from the experiment ward echoed through his mind. Should he end this, or was it deserved punishment? No one in the entire complex could be considered innocent, he thought, but this curse, their wrath, would quickly spread beyond these walls if he didn’t abide.
Moral agony twisted his face as he decided his fate and theirs.
Tears slid down his cheeks. With a clenched jaw, he set down the saucer and sought out the closest scholar. A woman, trying to flee the possessed soldiers, ran along the sanctuary’s edge toward the main entrance. Hausser grabbed her lab coat and pulled her over to the altar. Breathing heavy through gritted teeth, he snatch a dagger from the altar, held it against her neck, and shouted, “Vulgtm ehye fhtagn li’hee.”
Then, in one swift movement, he yanked her hair back and slit her throat.
Her blood sprayed him as much as it did the offering plates.
The tremors stopped.
The possessed soldiers, collapsed, returning to their state of death.
An odd calm fell over the hall.
Hitler, with the remaining SS in tow, approached Hausser and shook his hand with vigor, “I knew you were special. Excellent work, young Hausser! You shall be commended and given proper reward.”
“My Führer, I—”
“Never mind that. With the right incantations, might we control the… Gods?”
“My Führer,” Hausser replied with a creased expression of fret, “we are extremely lucky to have contained them for the time being. Control will never be an option.”
“Special Lieutenant Hausser, your responsibility going forward is to contain the powers behind today’s events, and to report directly to me with any variance,” Hitler said, then turned to Dr. Bunzel. “Doctor, you and your team will continue to seek a method of control and experiment toward such. This power, if harnessed, would deliver to us all nations and allow a proper ethnic cleansing for the dawn of the Aryan race! This is of the highest priority. Have I made myself clear?”
“Yes, my Führer. Sieg Heil!”
Wilhelm Hausser watched the survivors march away with smiles on their faces as if a treasure was uncovered. All he could think about, with the day’s violence joining the nightmare menagerie of his memories, was the question: who was the true terror, the malignant Gods, or mankind itself?
~ Tyr Kieran
© Copyright 2015 Tyr Kieran. All Rights Reserved.
Why must I feel so utterly shattered when smashed upon your jagged edge? Why can you not let me fall into the beautifully delicious pain that exists inside you – pain that has been waiting for me to find it for so very long? You hide such an exquisitely luring anguish from me, thinking I cannot see it – but I see it with my very essence – my entire being; I see it in the blink of your depthless eyes even when not at your side; I feel it in every breath you draw whether that breath be taken roughly in my ear or drawn in a spat of anger at all the world has made of you. I long so desperately to be near you, to revel in your darkest pangs, your deepest wounds, your most hidden crevasses where your shadows stretch the longest.
My soul is no longer in my own keeping as it has already been fully engulfed by you – it is given with utter bliss and unhindered submission, bowing to your every whim and fancy. My pain is yours to have, my pleasure yours to give or withhold. I beg of you to open your shadowed darkness and let me submerge myself, gulping it in as though it were my own life’s breath; for it is, as I cannot be without you any longer.
Give to me all that I would allow you to take from one so undeserving as I. I offer you a glimpse of the salvation you have sought at only the cost of my own damnation. Why must you hide in a darkness you feel is precious only to you? My darkness is equal to that of yours and calls out in pain to touch, to merge, to become one with that mournful depth which dwells within you.
Ahhh, tears burn my eyes to think of the ecstasy that awaits the lost such as we. Am I never to attain such glorious freedom while you exist in your own self-imposed exile? Be all to me that your inner demon demands I be to you, suffocate me with your needs; for I need not the air I breathe so much as I need the nearness of the beast that rages within you. Your touch, your embrace, your longing – your anger, your angst, and your pain; these things are my gleaming gems, my most sacred desires – the currency of an aching soul unearthed from the roughest of stone I did not know existed before you.
Drag me into an eternity of damnation where I will languish in your exquisite tenderness… a tenderness that rends my heart to pieces and releases the overwhelming restraint I have kept in check for what seems all of time. Strip away my mask and bare my most inner desires that I am not able to unleash with any other than you. Take me farther into the reaches of madness that will consume what is left of my sanity for I need not think when you are near, I must only be.
This is my treasured wish; this is my undisguised want; this is what you have made of me. Be for me, as I am only for you…
© Copyright 2015 Nina D’Arcangela. All Rights Reserved