“9-1-1? I am calling about three, maybe four people who have been abducted. I can tell you where they are.”
“Let me get your name, number you are calling from and location.”
“Oh okay.” I tried to take large gulps of air to still the panic. “It’s my daughter. They…he took her. One of them had a gun at my head.” I trembled as I remembered cold metal pressed against my temple.
“Ma’am calmly give me your name, your number, the closest address.” I could sense rising impatience in the operator.
“Address? I dont’ know. I’m in the part of the psychiatric facility that’s under renovation. Does the address matter? Some of the buildings are unstable. That bastard is putting my child in harm’s way. I’m her mom. She would be a famous actress if he would let her live. There’s no number on this plastic hull of a land line. I killed him, I think. The man who held a gun to my head. I always carry a knife…I work night shift. I’m not sure if the blood is mine or his. Get a damned squad car here now!” I threw the receiver; it ricocheted off the wall.
Great, now they will wonder who the psycho is, I chastised myself.
“No!” I heard her familiar scream. But this was no stage scream; there was too much blood curdling. Running in the direction of her voice, I gave up any hope that the police or paramedics could make it in time.
I saw his face. He was so placid and had such a kind smile when we had him on psychotropics. I told my colleague that it was too bad he couldn’t stay in a permanent, happy drugged state. “That could adversely affect recovery,” came his reply.
“Who is being adversely affected now?” I shook my fist at a blank hollow window.
I heard vibrations, then the recognizable sound of shattering glass.
“The building is going to cave in before help arrives.” I looked toward the empty shadows behind which were the monsters of my past and present. Focus, they can’t hurt you unless you allow them access. FOCUS!
Taking assessment of my situation, I knew that time was against me. What resources do I have that this madman does not?
Drugs. I had lots of drugs in the double locked cabinet just outside my office. “There’s no one to help me check them out on the RAND.” My medical bearing was trying to take hold. “Screw regulations. This guy is going to kill people.”
I hurled myself loudly up the stairs, never thinking about stealth.
I had to fiddle with the combination three times before I was steady enough to catch the combination; I pulled the key from around my neck.
There was the man with the kind smile. With him was my estranged husband, my ‘almost famous’ daughter, and her friend (my husband’s current lover.)
“We pulled off quite the performance. Ehm mother? Too bad you’ll never see me on Broadway!”
I felt a painful jab in my arm. “Don’t worry darling, this will calm you down.” Even though I had been married to him, I had never liked his smile.
Lost, liquidy blue eyes looked at the attending doctor who had once been her (my) colleague.
“Why did you go killing that innocent man, locking your family and friends up, and misleading the authorities? They are only waylaying the electric chair because I have them convinced that you are crazy and have been going crazy for some time. I had to add stuff into your personnel files. Think of all the trouble I could get into.” A smile rose in his eyes.
“Thank you” spilled over lips as drool pooled about her (my) chin.
“It would have been enough to buy the role I needed to set my fame in stone.”
“It should have paid off my debts and given me a comfy retirement.”
“I’m just a blood-sucking bimbo with nothing more than I started with.” The girl pouted and shrugged her shoulders.
“She should have gotten the chair,” the man smiled broadly. “Who could have predicted a psychiatric break? Well I’ll have to do without my cut of the inheritance. Too bad for all of you. You have less now than when you were skimming a sizable lot off her salary. She really does have beautiful eyes.”
He shook the paper to dry (my signature was still fresh) before he slid his release from the facility into his medical records.
I smiled knowing he had my key; it’s the least I could do. I realized some monsters should be allowed to roam free.
~ Leslie Moon
© Copyright 2014 Leslie Moon. All Rights Reserved
The sound of the tape slides soothingly into Nicholas’ ears. Not the music itself, although that is certainly pleasant, but the mechanical whir of the reels as the tape’s innards wind through the machine. He doubts if he could write so well without the quiet whirring. He doubts if he could write at all with the noise of the world at his window and under the soles of his feet.
The pub beneath his bedsit is busy tonight. Voices slice through the floorboards as though the wooden planks do not exist. He might be sitting at the bar himself, submerged in the chorus of cries and thoughtless laughter: the White Ship on stormy, booze-wracked seas. Pouring a glass of wine he sits back in his chair and drinks.
Sometimes he can make out word-for-word the different conversations at the bar. Drunkenness seems only to increase people’s volume, as though for a few hours the fugue imparts a sixth-sense: a glimpse of more than just the pub, the street, the city, the entire world as it really is. So the patrons below shout and scream, laughing madly into their drinks, looking anywhere but the frightened whites of their friends’ eyes, the hollow blackness of their mouths; the window panes, dewy with the cold empty night.
The unmistakable pop of breaking glass shatters his reverie, followed by a collective cheer. A bottle or a pint glass, perhaps, caught by an elbow or dropped from careless fingers. Putting his feet up on the desk, he breathes in deeply through his nose. Air inflates his lungs, his chest, the narrow curves of his ribs, forcing everything else out of him and away, except for the pinkish blur behind his lowered eyelids and the gentle flutter of the cassette in the player. Exhaling, he concentrates on the sound.
It was a week after he’d moved in before he discovered the tapes, in a locked drawer under the desk. There was no key that he could find but the wood gave easily enough when forced. The drawer has not been the same since.
He found other things in the drawer, besides the tapes: yellowing sheet music scratched with skeletal notes, a ragged doll with faded red hair, a desert of seashells still coated with grit. When he had finished inspecting these things, he let the drawer keep them. As much as he loves music, he cannot read it. If he was in the doll’s place, he would not like to be brought from out of the shadows looking so sad. The shells are sharp, and he finds them repellent in the way all things decayed seem to repulse. Mostly, the drawer tells a story, and he respects that. A hundred possibilities might have led to these cast-offs finding their way into the locked confines of the desk. Who is he to disturb their tale, their private narrative?
Finishing his glass, he pours a second. The wine is cheap but not altogether unpleasant. Downstairs, the party continues to bloom.
When the noise reached new heights one evening last year, he left his room to complain to the owner. Screams echoed up the stairs and down the hallway. Shrieks ricocheted from the walls, laughter bouncing into his ears, over and over. As he moved down the corridor, he heard chanting and a count-down; a human rite reaching completion, a spell to keep another day at bay, or to guide it in, like a pale boat coming to moor. The owner – his landlord – had laughed in his face. He can still remember the bite of the sound in his chest, the cold spittle as it sprayed his cheeks. The argument had been short and one-sided. As ever, Nicholas had not won.
“Why take a room above a pub if you don’t like noise, or a drink now and then?”
“I like a drink,” he had replied. “I drink often. But there’s no excusing the disturbance tonight.”
“It’s a pub,” repeated the landlord, “and it’s New Year’s Eve, for Christ’s sake. This is where people come to make noise. If you don’t like it, you can bloody well leave.”
It is true that he likes a drink while he writes. Sometimes he celebrates a moment’s peace with a finger or two of single malt. On the nights when he cannot hope to hear himself think, let alone lift pen to paper, he knocks back whole bottles of wine; crisp, heady reds that stain his lips and dazzle his tongue before soaring to his stomach and his head. Sometimes, when he is two bottles down, he returns to the broken drawer. He imagines that he can read the music sheets, and that they are the same dulcet sounds drifting from the cassette player. If he is especially drunk, he imagines their script tells of a different sound; the last, sonorous cry of a world beset, heard by some lonely composer, a man not unlike himself, and recorded here in ink where those who chance across it might read of its agony; its submarine moans.
He did not leave, that night on New Year’s Eve, because there was nowhere else for him to go. There is nowhere else when he hears every ragged wheeze, wherever he is; the shuddering breaths of a world on the brink of expiration. As best he can remember he has always heard these sounds. He did not always know what they were, or what it meant to hear the death-rattle of the stones and the trees and the earth, but he felt them all the same, and stood slightly apart from everyone else because of this, while the others ran laughing after one another, or played hopscotch, or made daisy-chains in the grass, oblivious.
A rare few people are not quite so blind. He read about them in newspapers and on the internet, when he still wasted his time with such trivial things. These men and women scrabble through the soil, digging the earth, scattering seeds, which they hope might germinate, take root, become trees and so heal the world that other men and women have made sick. Give a dying man a cushion, feed him painkillers, sit at his bedside and pray for his soul – he will die all the same, trembling alone as the last of his sorry life departs from his veins.
Sometime after midnight the pub falls quiet enough that he can hear his tapes and write. There will always be noise, but at times like this he is not really aware of it; lost in the depths of his literature. Some men and women write to create. Others write from personal angst, or to entertain a crowd, or perhaps to remember who they are, or were at another time. Nicholas does not know much about these things except that he writes to feel.
On paper, darkness shines. Words convey savagery with the finesse of bright bouquets. Language illuminates the broken back of the world, its atrophied limbs, its eyeless face: a rotten leviathan floating in space, quivering with parasites while it sings its last whale-song through an ocean of distant stars, almost inscrutable except by those who dare to pause in their furious lives and, for a moment, listen.
The tapes whir, his pencil scratches, and something not quite happiness but more like contentment simmers in his chest, until he can write no more and, with a slight smile on his wine-stained lips, he climbs into bed, and dreams of sweet oblivion.
~ Thomas Brown
© Copyright 2014 Thomas Brown. All Rights Reserved
Reflections in windows tease and haunt, showing what was, and what is no longer. Do not look at the glass! Damn, too late. Reflected before me is a tree. Its trunk, branches, and leaves, all on display. I want it to be real. I roam these empty streets. Searching, hoping, and praying to find someone; something; anything. People, animals, and plants are all gone. Concrete, steel and glass remain. I call out and listen, but only my echo replies. This city is dead; nothing lives. The sky is grey; no sun or clouds. Life has abandoned this place; abandoned me.
They watch and wait in everything. I can feel their hungry eyes and thrusting glares, pulling for the acknowledgement that would seal my fate. Stupid therapist called it Pareidolia.
Demons, creatures, faces and things of terror live in almost everything. Seeing them draws them into your head where they eat your soul. I avoided them until today, overcome by a single glance at a building, a window holding the tree and cloudy sky – all of them full. I heard them coming. Two ice picks saved me, one for each eye. With the windows to my soul ruined, I was free.
It reflects her suffering, an enticing apparition. “Ease the regret, press your fingertips to mine. I can take from you the memories, I can turn back time.” Its huge empty eyes drip in black streaks, it twists and sighs evocatively. She reaches for its ghostly hand but she pauses, her fingertips tremble, hovering just above the glass. The apparition buckles with rage, the glass rattles as it slams against the surface, begging for release.
“Not yet.” she says and turns away. She wraps on her coat and scarf and heads quickly out the door; she is late for work again.
Neighborhood kids told stories about The Hill, regurgitating false truths that their parents told them. Tall tales about what really went on behind the mirrored glass and towering brick walls, but I learned early on that most parents were full of shit, mine included.
My father told me they did ‘things’ to bad people on The Hill and I should stay away from there. My dad was an asshole, but he wasn’t full of shit.
He should have taken his own advice because they, I mean WE, really did some horrific things to him when he came to The Hill.
I look out upon all that is left. Sunlight scorches this land; with morning comes heat, an assault upon existence. With evening, a frigid wind; though still a brief respite. I squint as I glare down among those who wallow at my feet. My stone begins its grind, my furnace stokes; a rival to the blistering rays without, but only barely. Their faces turn up, beseeching. I watch as they enter my opening maw; again as they depart in concert with the tenors screech from my bowels. Stragglers dally, grubbing for scraps. Something needs fill the stone on the ‘morrow.
curtains brown, tattered and torn
reflections were once welcome
swatting away evening’s flies
light, life, color, have been exiled
I wonder to where they have fled
Dark shadows of night interpose
greedily they suck the last drop of day
beating away the memories of her, of us
“futile” I murmur
there is nothing left to hold dear
In response the fluttering starts to sneer
night’s sinister incessant chuckle
It loves to remind me
there may still be bloodied remnants
in swiss dotted fabric that the flies have missed
white now turned rusty
I tell myself “better not to remember”
Joseph A. Pinto
Nothing will stand between us; nothing will keep me away. The cruelty, locked in your silent world. All you hear is nothing, even as I shout your name. What see of you beyond the reflection of spirit-churned skies? What know of you within that haunted heart? I shall shatter your glass; recover your incarcerated soul. The cruelty, shackled in your listless words. All you think is nothing, even as I cry your name. What suffer of you behind bricked walls? You wait eternally; I say wait no more. Nothing will deny sky from its horizon. Angels of their fall. Nothing.
Fingers clutch at the crumbling windowsill. Outside, light spills across the apartment blocks and the gardens beneath.
He calls it a garden but it is little more than paving slabs on which she reclines and smokes and dies a little death each night. She loves cigars. Fat, Cuban things in her slim hands. The whole of her is slim. When she stretches out he imagines taking a stick to her ribs, beating them, making music with her bones. It is not enough, just to see. Beneath his practised hands, her bones could sing. A symphony of human sound, in harmony!
A picture forms in the panes of glass as it does every day before dusk becomes night. Clouds and trees tonight. Maybe an impending storm. Yes, that’s what I need. Evil must be displayed!
Even now the clouds twist and turn as they darken, and the trees are blown away from the glass portrait. The tranquil scene changes before me. An evil face forms in the glass, hideous in its deformity, mocking the world with its visual display of arrogant intent.
I walk inside and look in the vestibule mirror. “Dorian Gray, you look as young as ever,” I say.
I used to love the view. I’d sit by the sill, mindlessly picking at the cracked paint and I’d watch life happening on the street below; the hasty flow of businessmen scattering off to hard-earned paychecks, health nuts jogging in tight clothes with their leashed, oversized dogs, even the filthy down-trodden vagabonds that stumble from meter to meter—all symptoms of life’s intricate dance; of life’s beauty. Oh, how wrong I was! Now, I see the gritty reality. Ever since my wife hung herself in that goddamn tree, I’ve realized that the window shows the truth. It only shows pain.
A Trip to the Old Country
“That’s it right there,” Donal said, pointing at a four-paned window on the second floor. It was one of the few that still had glass in the barren building. The clouds had begun to darken and the air smelled like spring rain.
Finoula pressed her hand against his cheek. “If it’s too hard, we can go back.”
“No, I’m fine.” He kissed her palm. “Professors aren’t supposed to diddle their students, but some do anyway.”
“Bastard,” Finoula said, her gaze locked on the cloud-swept window.
Donal grinned. “You’re standing on him right now.”
He gave the soft earth a stomp.
Each piece of fiction is the copyright of its respective author
and may not be reproduced without prior consent.
Image © Copyright Dark Angel Photography. All Rights Reserved.
“Demosthenes, bring my drink.”
His voice was a command. His words an edict. This was how he ruled his business, and business was pretty damned good. Beleth relaxed in his large chair and held out his hand expectantly. The drink had better be in his hand before he grew tired of waiting or there would be hell to pay.
The telltale sound of his servant approaching was music to his ears. Demosthenes was exceptional and would have been hard to replace. Wiry fingers carefully placed the cup in Beleth’s hand. He took a sip of the scalding liquid. It was perfect.
Demosthenes waited for his master to savor the drink before he spoke. “Sire, your next appointment is in 30 minutes.”
Beleth relished the time he had to relax, but understood that some mergers and acquisitions required his presence. Not everybody was okay with dealing with his underlings. Some were pompous enough to demand a visit with the big dog himself. What those idiots didn’t understand was the extra cost incurred when dealing with the person at the top.
Demosthenes was nearly out of the office when he stopped abruptly. He turned apprehensively and spoke in a tone riddled with fear. “Master, your appointment has arrived early and requests your presence.”
Beleth almost spilled the rest of his drink with sudden fury. “What? Early!”
He stood quickly, his tall form moving with a predator’s agility. This new acquisition was not going to go well for somebody. Beleth strode over to Demosthenes and handed him the drink.
“I will finish this later,” Beleth growled. He started to walk towards the door when he stopped and turned. A sinister smile curled the sides of his lips. “Domesthenes, I will call for my drink in a few minutes. I will have need of you in the appointment.”
Domesthenes bowed excitedly – he knew what this meant.
A long, dark corridor lead from Beleth’s office to the place where the meetings were held. There was no light between here and there. Only darkness. It made it possible for Beleth to approach his next acquisition unnoticed and see what the man was going to try to use as leverage in the negotiation.
Beleth stood at the end of the meeting place, concealed in the thick shadows, and watched the man who was waiting. This one was perhaps forty-five. He kept himself in good shape, was obviously wealthy, and appeared to be extremely confident in himself. Beleth looked around to see what the man had brought for the negotiation and soon found what he was looking for. There were papers, offerings both symbolic and literal, but the man seemed most dependent upon what he had in his hand. This was going to be easy.
Beleth stepped out into the dim light and stood motionless in front of the surprised man. An oddly cold wind played around the above ground graves and ‘oven’ vaults, moaning as it whipped at Beleth’s pants and buffeted his silk suit jacket. The man stumbled backwards a few steps as the Louisiana night strangled the air. Beleth looked into the mind of his newest acquisition. His name was Steven.
“Steven. You look shocked. Is my appearance not what you were expecting?”
The man tried unsuccessfully to regain some composure. “Maybe this will help.” Beleth twitched his hand and the expensive suit he had been wearing drifted away like smoke. He stood before Steven with clawed hands, a large horn growing out of either side of his head, and wings folded behind his back.
“Is this what you wanted to see? I think it’s a little cliché. My form is what I want it to be and I don’t give a shit about your expectations. Let’s get to it and talk about the deal you want to make with me.”
Steven quickly shoved his left hand forward and displayed the silver ring he had purchased at great expense. He stuttered hopelessly for a few seconds before he regained enough composure to speak.
“Beleth, I have summoned you. You are compelled to make a deal.”
Beleth raised his left hand and showed an identical silver ring. “You are a fool. I was already willing to make a deal. But you insult me when you bring such feeble talismans and spells. You are treating with a prince of Hell, not a simple imp or lesser demon.”
Steven looked down at his hand and toyed with the ring that had done nothing for him. He opened his mouth to speak but only swallowed his words when Beleth approached him.
“You had the balls to start this early because you thought you held all of the cards.” Beleth stood tall over the doomed business mogul and spoke in gritty tones. “This is my business deal.”
His voice boomed and tombs shook as Beleth called over his back. “Demosthenes, bring my drink.” There was a stirring in the shadows deep within a large tomb and Demosthenes emerged from the depths of the vault. The old man carried the cup and slowly walked towards his master, but his eyes were bright with vicious hunger as they locked onto Steven.
Beleth took the cup and drank deeply. Steven’s eyes shined with horror-derived lunacy. With the cup empty, Beleth gave it back to Demosthenes and looked at Steven.
“You are wealthy and powerful, yet here you are, ready to ask for more. This is what will happen instead. You will destroy this precious life you have made for yourself. Once you are done, you will be mine.”
Steven’s face twisted with the warring emotions of fear and fury. “Never!” he screamed.
Beleth stepped to the side as he spoke, allowing Demosthenes to get closer to Steven. “You can either die now, or you allow Demosthenes to manage this deal for me. You will answer to him. What do you say?”
The prince of Hell held out his left hand for Steven. Steven looked at it, then looked at the seemingly fragile Demosthenes. The business mogul shook the infernal hand in front of him. Beleth smiled as he pulled away, taking Steven’s ring along with him.
“Smart man,” said Beleth. The demon turned to his elderly servant. “Demosthenes, it is time for you to walk in this world again. Are you ready for the merger?”
Demosthenes chuckled with malicious delight and slowly approached Steven. “Yes,” he croaked, “I am. It has been far too long.” He stopped in front of Steven and reached for the businessman’s chest. Steven tried to knock Demosthenes to the side but was stopped with a simple command from the old man.
Steven’s hand stopped. Demosthenes lifted frail fingers and slipped them inside of Steven’s hand. The business mogul shrieked like a scolded child, then howled with horror when he realized the old man was inside of him.
Demosthenes sighed and his eyes fluttered with nearly orgasmic pleasure. He hobbled to Steven’s side and slipped his entire right arm into Steven’s right arm. The hand started to jerk as if in the middle of a seizure, but soon relaxed and began to flex and turn. Steven watched his right hand in horror, his eyes wide and unblinking with the realization that he was no longer in control of that hand.
The old man began to whisper into Steven’s ear. “Your body is mine. You will sit in the back of your mind, aware of everything around you, helpless to do or say anything. I will ravage your family, your wife, and will do all of those things that hell has kept from me. I will ruin the dynasty you have so carefully built, and I will use and consume your body with unbridled passion and lust. When all is done, all is gone, and you have witnessed the shame of it all, you will die a horrible death and I will drag you down to see your master.”
Screams of profanity turned into unintelligible shouts and verbal fits that bounced off the cemetery vaults. Beleth watched with demonic glee, tasting Steven’s torment and drinking in his frenzied terror. Demosthenes slowly shuffled behind Steven and began to merge into his new body. Steven’s shouting began to diminish; the screams of dread slowly turned to moans, and then faded to pleasant laughter. It was done. Demosthenes smiled with his new lips, displayed his perfect teeth, and laughed as Steven wailed from deep within.
Beleth walked up to the businessman who calmly dusted off his clothing. “You look good, Demosthenes. Have some fun.” Beleth grinned as his new acquisition walked back towards the city.
Business was good.
~ Zack Kullis
© Copyright 2014 Zack Kullis. All Rights Reserved
Arthur spoke the words over his shoulder as he groped around the table for his glasses. They were hard to miss with their stereotypical thick black frames and even thicker lenses. Cold against his skin, he shivered while fitting them into place. With the heat of his passion fully dissipated, he was quickly reminded of how cold his room could get.
Now able to see, Arthur spotted his clothes strewn on the floor. He threw on the shirt and started working at the buttons. “I hope you had as much fun as I did, wow. That was incredible.”
He was a man of small stature with a voice that followed suit, high and light. The excitement behind his molar-bearing grin nearly pushed that voice to the cracking point.
The young woman lying behind him with frazzled blonde hair, conversely, remained silent.
“I don’t want you thinking this is a normal practice for me. I’m not a serial one-night stand kinda guy. I just felt a connection between us, you know—a genuine spark that demanded exploration.”
He chuckled and turned to face her. “Usually, I try to get to know a woman before, I uh… Well, usually, that doesn’t work either, especially with a beautiful woman like you… and, never as strangers upon the first meeting, like this.”
A near imperceptible sigh escaped her lips.
“Th-that might have come out wrong, what I mean is, now we can take some time to learn more about each other. Would you like that?”
The woman stared blankly at the ceiling, seemingly unconcerned that the sheet was askew, leaving her breast exposed.
Arthur’s smile faltered. He finished dressing—buckling his belt and lacing his shoes—with full attention on her.
“I want to know more about you. I want to learn about the life choices that brought us together. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always believed in natural forces like destiny.”
“Alright. Alright, for example,” he continued, “I couldn’t help but notice the bruises. You’ve clearly had a hard time recently and I really want to know what happened to you that inevitably drove you here, to me.”
The smile, the fuzzy remnants of passion, the patience, all were gone now. Arthur jumped up, bumping into the table as he shouted, “I’m not the one who hurt you, okay? I’m only trying to help you!”
The woman’s head turned away from him.
“Fine, I’ll do this without you.”
He whirled around and grabbed a clipboard off the table behind him. Paging through the information, he read for a few moments, his frustrated breaths the only sounds in the cold room.
“I knew it. An abusive boyfriend did a number on you and left you, hurt and alone.”
Double doors slammed open behind him. Arthur was so startled he nearly dropped the clipboard.
An older man backed into the room pulling a gurney with him.
“You talking to the dead bodies again, Arthur?” He asked, smiling.
“Wha—uh, no. Well, yes. It’s my job to figure out what happened to them, isn’t it?”
“I hate to break it to you, man, but they don’t respond very well.”
“Fuck off, Allan.”
“My pleasure.” He said, laughing as he pushed through the double doors. They swayed in his wake, like half-doors to an old saloon, creating a sound akin to a faint, fading heartbeat.
Arthur pulled the sheet over the blonde’s face and spun around to check out the new arrival. It was a young brunette, with big brown eyes and full lips. He stared for a moment before fishing out her wrist from under the coversheet.
“Well, hello,” he said, kissing the back of her hand. “My name’s Arthur and I couldn’t help but notice a spark between us just now.”
~ Tyr Kieran
© Copyright 2014 Tyr Kieran. All Rights Reserved.
Feet pounding as fast as they can, I tear across the hard-packed ground. Tree branches slap my arms, scrape my face, tangle in my hair; I don’t think I’m gonna make it. I hear it chasing me, not quite on my heels yet, but close enough to make my skin want to crawl clean off my bones. At any moment, I expect to be snatched from the trail by god-knows-what kind of clawed hand. The thing is so near I can smell its stench. It’s enough to make me gag: make my eyes water and my nostrils burn. I set out to find it, to track it – to prove its existence. What a fool. I was never tracking it; it was tracking me the entire time.
If I can make it to the water, everything will be all right – that’s what all the stories say. Make it to that deep blue pool buried in the Pines and for some reason, the creature won’t come any closer.
I can’t be too far from the lake. Christ – I must have trekked thirty miles into the dense Barrens since leaving the road. It’s got to be around here somewhere; I’m right where the locals said the water would be. But there was something not quite right about the way those ‘Pineys’ were smiling…
My foot tangles in an exposed root where the dirt loosens and turns to a softer, sandier mixture. In near panic, I almost go down but somehow manage to keep my feet beneath me. The forest is thinning out quickly; I can see a much brighter patch ahead.
A guttural roar sounds from behind; it’s nearly on top of me. I can feel the air shift to the side as my eye catches sight of something black whipping by just off to the right. I scream – no sound comes out – but I don’t stop moving. Before I know it, the trees clear and I stumble onto a small beach.
I can see the water and whisper a silent prayer of thanks to those hicks who somehow managed to get me here. Flinging myself down at the water’s edge, I finally dare to look behind me. I can’t see it clearly, but I can feel it standing just under the dense canopy of the trees – hiding in the darkness.
Dunking my head into the cool water, I laugh when I realize what I’m holding. The entire time I was running, I was clutching my cell phone, but lost everything else. Can you hear me now? No! More hysterical laughter; the sound desperate even to my own ears. There’s no cell service out here. I can’t believe that in my panic the only thing I managed to save is this useless piece of crap. One last look at it and I hurl it as far as I can across the lake.
Leaning down again, I taste the water. At first barely a sip to make sure it’s safe, then small handfuls to quench my thirst. Making myself stop, I roll over and stare at the sun like it’s my newfound savior. The Pines are so dense; this small clearing is a godsend. I can still hear the thing rustling in the trees, but for now, next to the water, I’m safe.
I must have drifted off from exhaustion, maybe simple relief, I don’t know. When I wake, the sun is low and dim shadows have crept half-way across the small beach. I can hear it breathing and pacing in the brush. A spike of adrenaline slashes through me and I dive for the only hope I see; one long bow from a white cedar growing out over the lake. Scrambling to it, I climb as far out as I can, shimmying backward the whole while. From what I know of the Blue Hole, the water is deep as hell. Drowning is no better an option than feeding myself to Mother Leeds’ thirteenth son, and I would prefer to do neither.
As full night falls, I can see its red eyes glaring at me, along with the shadowy impression of a dark, winged figure. Its tail flicking from side to side accompanies the sound of tree branches being torn apart. Bellying down further onto the limb, I try for a little more distance. I know my chances of surviving the night are slim… Still, if I can keep my balance and stay awake, I might just make it until morning.
I hear a faint splash, and a responding roar from the woods – almost a challenge. Terrified to take my eyes off the beast before me, but more afraid of what lurks below, I chance a glance downward. Elongated, translucent hands reaching from the depths are all I see before I’m yanked from my perch, screaming for help that’s never going to come.
“Howdy there, Bob, Tomas,” the deputy says as he steps from his vehicle to greet the two men sitting outside the small shack that serves as a convenience store in this area of the Pine Barrens.
“Mornin’ officer,” they reply in kind. “What can we do you for?”
“Well, seems we found a car, one of those German import types, parked a ways down the road in one of the pull-offs. Little yellow thing called a Jetta. You boys know anything about that?”
Looking at each other, Tomas spits and says, “Might be we do. Some young girl in a yeller car stopped in here yesterday asking for directions to the hole. Could be it’s the same car.”
“Tell me you didn’t give them to her, did you?” exasperation plain in the officer’s voice.
“Might be we did. Don’t see why we wouldn’t if she asked,” Bob answers rolling a toothpick between his teeth.
The deputy reaches into his vehicle and grabs the radio handset. “Dispatch, we’re gonna need a tow out on Rt. 532. It’s a yellow Jetta – can’t miss it. Hang on just a sec.” He releases the com button. “Boys, she have anyone else with her?”
“Nope, but she had a crap load ‘a gear in the back seat of that foreign auto-mobile of hers.”
Clicking the mic back on, the deputy relays, “Dispatch, I’m gonna need a team on the ground looking for a backpack, tent, cell phone – any personal items they can find heading from that location toward the hole. Better make it a wide sweep, call all the guys in on this.”
“Copy that, Tim. Do we need a rescue team down there too?” the dispatcher asks with hope and concern in her voice.
Looking over the roof of his car at Bob and Tomas, seeing the grin on both of their faces, he answers, “Negative on the rescue team, just the cleanup crew and the tow.” Getting back in the car and replacing the now silent handset, the deputy tips his hat to the men on the bench as they nod in return. He puts the car in drive, and mutters to himself “Fucking city folk,” as he drives off.
~ Nina D’Arcangela
© Copyright 2014 Nina D’Arcangela. All Rights Reserved.
Sad voices drift through the early morning air as the matriarch is laid to rest, joining her husband who passed some twenty years prior. The last of the old guard now gone, the younger ones must carry the family torch.
Though the aged are usually thought of as carrying a certain acridness of the tongue and a bitterness directed at those around them, such was not the case with Mrs. Bellows. Always a kind word for all; generous to a fault; willing to open her heart and home to friend and family alike. Everyone loved her.
Beneath the ground in his little dwelling of terror, the Ghoul can clearly hear the words of the two discordant twenty-somethings as they sit on a nearby tombstone. They are bitter as all hell.
“Old bitch provided for everyone else in the family but us,” one gripes.
“Not fair. Not right at all, Tom,” the other replies.
“Sucks the big one, George. The rest of them think everything will work out for us, but the stupid old bitch gave our share to our parents for us. Shit! You know that ain’t gonna pan out. Mom and Dad believe we’re a couple of losers. We won’t see a dime of that fucking money.”
“Nothing we can do about it,” the passive one mopes.
“Maybe there is.” Hearing arrogance in this one’s voice, the Ghoul pays closer attention.
“What do you mean?”
“The old witch insisted on being buried with her favorite jewels. That shit is worth a fortune, and it isn’t doing any good rotting in the ground. That dough could be in our pockets instead.”
“You’re not suggesting… ”
“Yes, I am. Who would know?” A smile creeps across the Ghouls face upon hearing this, it’s beginning to sound promising.
George, the skittish one, hops down from the tombstone. His baggy-ass shorts almost falling off him, exposing black and white skull-figured boxers. He pulls them up to keep from tripping and starts to pace nervously while shaking his head. “You do this, you’re on your own! I’m not getting caught digging up our dead grandmother. It’s not like we’re damned ghouls!”
Oh, the graveyard resident bristles at the audacity of this statement. These two interlopers are discussing stealing from their deceased relative and one has the nerve to degrade him? This is a definite case of misplaced morality. What he does is to survive, but them? They are merely greedy boys, not caring about anyone other than themselves.
“You’re not scared, are you, George?” Tom asks, a sneer on his face.
“Well, a cemetery at night is not my preferred place to be. Pretty creepy if you ask me.”
“Look, tonight will be the perfect time to do this. We come in, dig the old lady up, heist the jewelry, shove the coffin back down, and split. The ground will still be soft, they won’t tamp it down until tomorrow. And her plot is so far from the road, no one will even know we are here.”
George shakes his head again. “Too risky.”
“Okay. I’ll come alone and do the deed, and I’ll be damned if I share it with you.”
George gnaws on his fingernail while he thinks. He wants the money. They’ll get a good sum for those trinkets buried under the ground. Enough to buy plenty of nose-candy for both him and Ginny. Yeah, Ginny, she’d spread her legs for the good shit, and he’ll still have a wad of bucks left over.
“Okay, okay!” he says, “I’m in.”
“Right on, bro. The good life is just waiting for us, all we need is a little scratch. We won’t have any more problems come tomorrow. None at all.”
Haha! Those two will have more problems than they can imagine, the Ghoul muses. Bad for them but great for me. Two main courses tonight. What a delectable feast! And what a charming host I’ll be as they walk straight into my kitchen.
Darkness is complete this evening: no moon at all, and the street lights are too far from this part of the cemetery to be visible.
The Ghoul sits, waiting patiently, knowing they will come. Tom’s intent was so intense the demon could taste it on the tip of his sensitive tongue. No way the little bastard will allow this opportunity to escape. The greed gnawing at the selfish twerp radiated throughout the graveyard earlier. It will be easy to zone in on it when he returns. The alarm will sound, the dinner gong personified.
His chest hairs feel the prickle of their approach. No lights – good boys. That’s makes it even easier. Who will be the wiser?
The duo walk toward the grave, tripping repeatedly, banging their feet into the smaller stones rising mere inches above the ground: the markers for the poor.
“Shit!” George whispers.“I can’t see a fucking thing!”
“That’s good,” Tom says. “It means no one can see us either, dumb-ass.”
“Yeah, I suppose. But I still don’t like it.”
“Stop your bitching! We’re almost there.”
Fortunately they’re holding the shovels over their shoulders, otherwise, the way these two are careening about, the damn things would be clanging on everything in sight, alerting people in the next town over of their presence.
Only when they get close to the grave do they use their flashlights, and even then, sparingly.
“Here’s where the old bitch is buried,” Tom whispers. “Let’s hustle!”
George needs no encouragement to hurry up and get the hell out of there. If it wasn’t for the thought of Ginny’s naked body calling out to him, he wouldn’t have come in the first place.
They turn their lights off and start digging. Tom would have done this alone, but with his brother here it makes for faster shoveling, less chance of being caught. It seems to take forever, but the soft dirt comes up easily.
Tomorrow night would have been much harder. They reach the casket and prepare to open it.
“Je-zus! What’s that odor?” George chokes. “It’s awful!”
“Just some dead animal. Don’t worry about it.”
Having crept to the edge of the pit, peering down at them from above, the Ghoul intones, “Let me assure you I’m anything but dead. In fact, I’m very much alive, and I’m hungry.”
“What the… !”
The monster leaps down into the grave before the words are out, his immense presence felt by the brothers even though they cannot see him. His stench makes them reel, makes their eyes water, but instinct tells them they must keep their wits to survive. They attempt to shine the lights on him, but the demon swats them out of their hands.
“Not yet, my intrepid duo. You will see me in due time, but I wish to play with my food before I indulge in the taste of your warm blood running from your pink flesh. Think of me as a kitten, a soft, furry cuddly kitten, knocking you about a bit, watching you squirm in horror as I prepare to gorge on your intestines. Worry not, I’m no glutton like you fools. I will take my time, letting each of you experience being devoured alive so I can savor it all the more.”
They swing their shovels at him, but he artfully darts away from their attack and knocks them to the side. As George prepares to holler out, the Ghoul rakes his long nails across the boy’s throat, rendering him speechless. George reaches for his larynx only to find it gone.
Tom has no intention of hollering. Even with this monstrosity bearing down on them, he’s still too greedy to pass up the hidden gems. Surely the two of them can fight off this animal. He attacks the beast with his fists first and then starts pulling out chunks of the creatures body hair wherever he can.
The Ghoul is growing angry. He puts both of Tom’s hands in his mouth and saws on them savagely until they tear free. Blood pours from the mutilated arms and the demon sucks at the blood, drinking as though to sate an impossible thirst. Tom stares at his destroyed arms in shock, barely able to stand the pain.
Laughing as he does so, the beast flicks a flashlight at George. “Shine this on me and watch as I devour your bother. You wish to know what foulness carries such an awful stench. I grant your wish, if you’ve the stones for it.”
He allows the shock of it to sink in for a moment or two, enjoying the terror emanating from both boys, hearing the pounding of their hearts, tasting the salt on his tongue from the rivers of nervous sweat pouring from them, and scenting the blood that trickles from the gnawed-off stumps.
Then he lunges at Tom’s midsection, tearing into the delectable innards, rolling them around his tongue like spaghetti on a fork. Tom’s attempts to scream are mere gurgles of blood. No sound issues forth.
Methodically, the Ghoul eats away at him, enjoying the sensation of the struggle left within Tom’s body as he tries to resist: a hopeless cause. Soon, the taste of death is added to the succulence of his flesh.
Turning to an almost comatose George, he says, “Don’t worry, I won’t leave you out of the fun.”
George tries to back up, but there is no place to go. The Ghoul throws him atop the coffin, slowly tearing off chunks of his flesh, savoring every delicious morsel as his meal twitches in agony. The closeness of the ‘kitchen’ excites him even more, for this is his domain to rule.
Good times must come to an end, and George goes the way of his brother, the scent and taste of their recent lives tickling the giant’s hair. He completely devours the bodies and leaves their bones in the grave with their dearly departed relative.
“Mrs. Bellows,” he says with an exaggerated bow, “I will now allow you to rest in peace. As you can see, I have given you company. Maybe not the best of companions for your new life, but at least you will not be alone.”
He climbs out of the grave and covers it up, making everything look the same as it did before the carnage began. Stuffed to the point of near regurgitation, he sits on Mrs. B’s stone refusing to allow an ounce of her ungrateful grandchildren to escape.
A great night, indeed. This new existence of his is most satisfying.
~ Blaze McRob
© Copyright 2014 Blaze McRob. All Rights Reserved.
I hit the ground just like they taught us and immediately go to work separating from the parachute. Echoes of machine gun fire and distant explosions rattle my nerves.
I hope to God they dropped us in the right place. Scanning my surroundings, nothing looks familiar.
Waist-high grass provides me with enough cover as long as I remain crouched. I wish I hadn’t lost my equipment satchel during the jump; all I have is my combat knife.
Although it is dark, I see a tree line not too far from my location and bolt for it. Running, while trying to remain as low as I can, I fully expect machine gun fire to open up on me but thankfully it doesn’t.
As soon as I’m in the cover of the tree line, I get down on one knee and try to get my bearings as well as my breath.
Through thick branches on the other side, I see lights.
Edging closer, I see that it is a small German outpost. A small descending trench system leads into a wider dugout with a camouflage canopy over top. Voices are murmuring to one another and I think there are at least two German soldiers in there. I bet I could…
“What are you doing here?” a man asks in German.
I slowly turn my head and make out the distinctive black uniform of an SS officer.
Without hesitating, I pull out my knife and leap onto him, my blade finding its mark in his throat. Blood comes gurgling out from the wound as I cover his mouth with my other hand; he quickly dies.
I hide his body in some bushes along the tree line and begin searching him, removing his Luger P08 pistol. Feeling a little more confident clutching the firearm, I creep toward the outpost.
I slip into the mouth of the trench and slide behind a couple of stacked wooden crates, so close to the enemy that I hear them talking. There are at least two of them.
“When did you see him last?” an SS officer asks.
“Maybe an hour ago,” a woman’s voice replies.
“What was he wearing?” the officer asks.
I raise the Luger, taking aim.
A young soldier suddenly steps in front of me.
“Grandpa’s right here!”
I fire twice into his chest.
“No!” the woman screams.
The SS officer slams into me, taking us both to the ground. He knocks the gun from my hand and forces me onto my stomach, handcuffing me.
“Hang on, Jeffery!” the woman yells. “Hang on!”
The outpost dissolves and suddenly we’re in my kitchen. The woman is my daughter, Trish, and the SS officer with his knee in my back, a police officer.
Trish looks over at me with anger, fear and sadness screaming from her eyes. Another police officer rushes into the kitchen.
“I found Officer Gardiner,” he says. “His throat slashed and hidden in the trees along the property line.”
To my right is my World War Two combat knife, the blade streaked with blood, lying next to Officer Gardiner’s sidearm.
I look back at the young soldier that I just shot.
It’s my grandson Jeffery.
He’s lying on his back, his chest soaked in crimson.
Oh Jesus, I shot my grandson!
Trish is now talking to a third police officer in the living room, crying heavily but coherent enough to speak.
“He hasn’t been the same since he developed Alzheimer’s. It’s been causing all of his war memories to resurface, causing bad flashbacks. We thought we had hidden all of his weapons but we must’ve missed… oh my God… Jeffery!”
~ Jon Olson
© Copyright 2014 Jon Olson. All Rights Reserved.
There is a cruelty unfolding in me I didn’t know existed. The click of my heels on the pavement echoes down the street, turning heads. I wear higher heels now, shorter skirts. I no longer stick to the safety of busy streets. I tempt fate and wander into the gloom of alleyways where the losers of the city huddle and sleep. The drunken, the homeless, the pickpockets. Petty criminals with petty ambitions. I stroll through their lairs of garbage. Bleary, poisoned eyes watch me pass, staring at me in disbelief.
“Stupid bitch,” they growl at me and they lift their bottles to dying lips. I tread holes in their cardboard beds with my stilettos and kick over their little cups of change. There is nothing they can do, they can barely climb to their feet. I hear the breaking of glass and the retching cough of sickness as I walk away. You see, there is nothing in the darkness I fear because I know you’ve got your eye on me. And you won’t let anybody hurt me, will you?
How long has it been now? I can’t remember my life without you. The purring of your engine wakes me at night as you cruise by my house. You wait until I come to the window before driving away. The sound of your breath, barely audible, on the other end of the phone. I can’t say a word. Sometimes you whisper my name in a muffled voice. It has been awhile since you last called. I saw you standing by the curb looking up at my office window. I saw you getting off the bus as I got on. I saw you sitting in the coffee shop. You are a formless shadow, your face a blur. Each time you move like lightning, when I look twice you are gone.
I roam the streets until I sense you, falling into step far behind me. I have something special to show you this evening. It is a short walk away. I will lead you there. Down to the harbour and the old warehouses along the docks. Follow me through the city park. Your footsteps are a numb, hollow thud in my chest. I stop and you stop. I walk and you walk. These winding paths lead into dark patches of trees and to the brim of a still, murky lake. I wonder how many have met their end here and if I will be one of them tonight? Of course I emerge from the trees unscathed, I know when you snare me it will be by your design not mine.
I received your letter today. Each letter you send is more intimate than the last. Our time is coming isn’t it? At work I lock my office door and lay out all your letters on my desk. Smeared black ink and putrid stains. I marvel at the details you manage to detect. You know when I wear a new perfume or lipstick, you know when I’m menstruating. And the portrait you drew is beautiful. The careful way you have rendered each fine stroke of my eyelashes and hair. My eyes are large dark orbs, the light in them extinguished. The drawing stares back at me from the page, frail and petrified. It is as if I was really there before you as you drew me. You have captured it well, that is how I feel. But there are a few things about me you are yet to glimpse.
I have left it for you here, this is where we part for now. By the time you enter the warehouse I will be gone, slipping away into the dark maze of the city, far from you.
You will sense it, as soon as you set foot in the building, something is not quite right. Keep walking, up dusty flights of stairs, searching the empty floors. You will be drawn to it, like a magnet, trust yourself. This is what you do best. And then you will finally find her, over by the wall, bound to a chair with heavy tape. Will a scream, sharp as a razor, catch in your throat? Will you crumple with silent impotent tears? I thought it was best to take care of her sooner rather than later. She was distracting you. And she was beginning to get too suspicious, asking too many questions. I heard her last night nagging you through dinner. She called your office three times today just to check your whereabouts. There were a few small changes I had to make. Her eyes were the wrong colour, her nose too big, her chin was the wrong shape. And that tacky bleached hair had to go. With a face lift and a short dark wig she looks just like me, don’t you think? My scent on her body now. I dressed her in the lingerie and dress I wore when you first saw me. I thought you would like that. The first time you singled me out from the crowd, the first time I felt the suffocating weight of your gaze. Yes, our time is coming soon. We are destined to meet, as both you and I know. But not tonight.
~ Magenta Nero
© Copyright 2014 Magenta Nero. All Rights Reserved
Screams filled the tiny cabin as winter’s first snow blanketed the surrounding forest.
The contractions were coming on top of each other now, each wave stronger than the last, as Meredith struggled to keep Agatha calm.
An almost inhuman cry escaped Agatha’s throat as she writhed on the bed, pain biting at her abdomen.
Wiping the young woman’s brow with a damp cloth, Meredith spoke in the low, hushed tone of a midwife. “Dr. Thompson will be here soon, Agatha.”
Meredith placed her experienced hands on Agatha’s swollen belly, feeling the child roll beneath the relentless waves of uterine contractions. “Your baby’s breech. You must wait until the doctor arrives before pushing.”
The request fell upon deaf ears as searing pain radiated through the young girl’s malnourished body and she shivered on the bed, her fever raging out of control.
The door blew open and frigid winter air ransacked the space, extinguishing all but one of the flickering candles and knocking tiny heirlooms from their perches. A strange man shoved the door closed with his shoulder, set his bag on the floor and removed his coat as Agatha screamed out with an intensity that shocked both the midwife and the stranger before succumbing to unconsciousness.
“Who are you?” Meredith asked.
Confusion swept over Meredith. “But where’s Dr. Thompson?”
Dr. Brennan only rolled up his sleeves, ignoring the inquiry. “How long has she been in labor?”
Though he had not answered her question, the urgency of the situation gave Meredith no time to gauge the stranger’s true intentions. “At least four hours. I came to check on her and it had already started.”
He placed his hands on the girl’s abdomen and glanced at Meredith. “The baby’s breech and post-term. Where’s the husband?”
Meredith simply shook her head.
“The father then, where is he?”
“She does not know the name of the father.”
Meredith dabbed the young girl’s forehead as the doctor lowered accusing eyes to Agatha.
“And her parents?”
“They died two years ago, when she was sixteen. She’s been alone since.”
“Obviously not completely alone, my dear.” He motioned toward Agatha as she lay on her back, her knees bent and legs splayed open.
Meredith sensed a sharp edge to his tone, which made her uneasy. “I’ll ask you again, where is Dr. Thompson?”
The doctor looked up, his eyes narrowed atop a hooked nose. “He’s unavailable this evening. He sent me in his place.”
Dr. Brennan was a slight man, yet his demeanor was anything but. With his coat removed and sleeves rolled up, his gangly frame became quite apparent. Meredith’s eyes studied his skin, fair and paper thin, bluish-green veins mapping his forehead.
The door had been closed for several minutes, plenty of time for the fire in the corner of the room to bring the temperature of the small room up again, yet it somehow seemed to have grown colder.
Suddenly, Agatha became coherent again, just in time for another crack of pain. The baby’s appendages pressed against her abdomen, causing her taut skin to ripple. More primal screams forced Meredith to cover her ears and the doctor to pause.
Brennan placed his medical bag at the foot of the bed, shouting over Agatha’s cries. “The baby’s in danger, we have to take it through cesarean. Boil as much water as you can.”
Meredith hesitated for a moment. She’d never assisted with the surgical procedure, but Agatha’s screams, still echoing in the small cabin, were enough to command her obedience and she rushed to the stove.
Brennan reached into his bag, removed a thick roll of material and placed it on the bed. The instruments clanged as he unrolled the fabric, revealing an archaic assortment of surgical instruments, many of them scarred with badges of rust. Agatha remained still, though her breaths were short and ragged, while the doctor pulled back the blanket that had covered her from the waist down. Dr. Brennan donned a pair of gloves and proceeded to examine the girl.
Meredith returned to the room with a pot of boiling water and nearly dropped it when she saw Brennan. Surely he would discover Agatha’s secret. She cleared her throat, hoping to draw his attention away. He looked up, yet continued his work, a malevolent grin etched into his features.
Meredith’s skin crawled at the sight of Brennan as he probed the young girl. The look on his face was not one of a physician examining a patient; it was the expression of someone enjoying something he clearly should not.
After a few prolonged seconds, he removed the gloves, stood up from between the girl’s legs and motioned to the nightstand beside the bed. “Set the water there.”
Grabbing several straps from his bag, he proceeded to secure the girl’s wrists and ankles to the bedposts. Meredith stood near the head of the bed, again tending to the girl’s sweat-laden brow with a moist rag.
Meredith hadn’t noticed before, but a persistent, uncomfortable scent now hung in the air, a putrid combination of mildew and scorched hair.
Writhing in agony, Agatha thrashed against the bindings as Meredith watched the doctor prepare his instruments. Using a colander-like apparatus, he lowered a handful of instruments into the water. “Boil this for 5 minutes,” he said, handing the pot to Meredith.
Meredith scurried to the stove with the heavy load.
Brennan lowered his gaze to the wailing girl sprawled out before him. The blanket had fallen to the floor, leaving Agatha naked and exposed. Each new contraction brought her pain to a crescendo, the thick veins of her neck bulging like ropes buried beneath her skin as she cried out.
The doctor prepared a cleansing solution and applied it to Agatha’s abdomen, covering the stretched skin of her belly. The fire still burned in the corner of the room, yet the temperature in the cabin continued to drop.
Meredith returned with the instruments to find Dr. Brennan feeling Agatha’s abdomen, calculating his plan for the procedure.
“Put them there.” He motioned to the bedside table.
Brennan held up a syringe in the candlelight and applied pressure on the plunger to clear the air from the contents. A drop of medicine escaped the tip and traced its way toward the hub.
The doctor plunged the needle into the girl’s thigh and within seconds, the writhing ceased and Agatha lay still, vacant eyes fixed on the orange light as it danced across the ceiling.
“How long will she be out?” Meredith asked.
“Long enough for me to remove the baby. Now, gather all the towels and blankets we have.”
Meredith left the bedside, returning seconds later with several blankets and towels.
Brennan readied the scalpel and pressed it to Agatha’s flesh, her fair skin splitting to reveal a thin layer of glistening, yellow fat. Blood pooled in the wound before running in streams down the girl’s sides, pitter-pattering to the floor. Meredith’s knees nearly unhinged but she managed to lock them tight. Bile rose in her gullet and she swallowed it, droplets of sweat sprouting on her brow. She’d never seen so much blood. She moved to Agatha’s head, focusing on the dilated pupils of the mother-to-be, dabbing sweat as it beaded on her skin.
Brennan worked fastidiously to expose the girl’s uterus, stuffing towels into the wound as he progressed, attempting to ebb the flow of crimson fluid as it seeped from the girl’s sedate body.
“Who else knows of the girl’s pregnancy?” Brennan broke the palpable tension as plumes of his breath escaped into the ever-colder room.
Caught off guard by the question, Meredith hesitated before answering. “No one. She has no family and very few friends, none of whom have seen her since she began to show.”
“Very good.” He brought another blanket onto the bed next to where he was working. “You’ve examined her, have you not?”
“Of course.” Meredith turned to face the doctor.
“Then you and I both know this is a rather unusual pregnancy.”
Meredith’s mind whirled, searching for a response. “I’m not sure I…”
“Don’t lie to me. You know as well as I, this girl has never been with a man. She’s as pure as the newly fallen snow.” Brennan waved a bloodied hand towards the window.
Brennan peered up from the task at hand, snaring Meredith’s gaze with his own. The doctor raised a blood soaked finger to the tip of his tongue. His eyes closed and he exhaled a devious breath, sending Meredith’s pulse pounding. Brennan’s mouth twisted into a wicked smile, as if it had been etched into his skin with a knife, and he opened his eyes, now inky black pools of malicious intent. “There’s nothing so sweet as the blood of a virgin.”
Meredith sprang to her feet and grabbed one of the sharp implements from the bed. “Who are you?”
Brennan set his instrument down and cocked his head to one side. Agatha continued to bleed as the doctor ceased his efforts to stem the copious amounts of blood from hitting the floor, shimmering silhouettes of spilled life pooled on the wood.
“I am a friend of the baby’s father.” He stood and drew a finger through Agatha’s blood covered abdomen leaving an S-like pattern in its wake. “He has sent me here to deliver his son.”
Meredith backed away, keeping the instrument between Brennan and herself. “He? What are you doing here?” Her body trembled from the cold and adrenaline coursing through her veins.
Agatha convulsed on the bed, thrashing in the bindings, blood more free flowing than ever.
“Help her! She’s going to die!”
Brennan looked over his shoulder. “Oh yes, she is going to die. It’s too late to help her even if I wanted to. And besides, that was never the plan.”
In the corner of the room, the fire matured, heat finally radiating through the space, as the stench settled into the room, even more rancid than before.
On the bed, Agatha ripped an arm free from the bindings and clawed at her protruding womb. Amniotic fluid gushed from her abdomen as her other hand broke free and dug at the gaping wound.
Meredith screamed and darted for the door but Brennan lurched at her and grabbed her by the hair, pulling her to him while her hands whirled in the air. His other arm wrapped around her chest and squeezed until she struggled to breathe. Brennan nuzzled his nose behind her ear and inhaled, holding it for a few seconds before releasing it in a deep, noxious breath.
The front door burst open and a silhouette loomed in the opening. “Enough, Abaddon,” a calm, yet booming voice spoke from the doorway. “Let me see her face.”
Abaddon or Brennan, whoever he was, obeyed as Meredith’s legs nearly gave out at the sight of the ominous figure that whirled into view, her head swimming in confusion.
Stepping into the light, revealing his true self, the towering intruder strode towards the bed, cloven hooves pressing into the age-marred floors. Agatha, reeling in shock, looked into the malevolent face of the father of her child. Reaching his massive hands into the yawning belly of the young girl, he tore into the exposed womb and retrieved his son, hoisting the newborn into the air, admiring him from all angles. “You are your father’s son, seedling, and you shall carry out my every desire as your own.”
With those words, the devil left the cabin with his son and vanished into the surrounding snow-covered woods, leaving Abaddon alone with the women.
Screams filled the tiny cabin.
~ Craig McGray
© Copyright 2014 Craig McGray. All Rights Reserved.