Tell me something secret
Whisper into my ear
Make love to my damaged sorrow
With your self-defeating fear.
What little light you brought to life
Is forfeit now and ever
We’ll dance a twisted spider walk
To begin a new endeavor.
My rusted blade it dives and twists
Between your filthy breath
I’ll carve for you a new beginning
Some delightful precious death.
Weep now, my dearest lovely bones
Your tears I will consume
And before your light is extinguished
I’ll waltz you to your tomb.
~ Jack Wallen
© Copyright 2012 Jack Wallen. All Rights Reserved.
Hand Poised On Knob
You’ve had your bags packed
For a very long time
No chance to think it over
Just grabbed your essentials
Essentially you’re gone.
But still you remain
For what or why
You’re not sure yourself
And that’s the problem, isn’t it?
And that’s a problem
Remaining behind the door
Hand on knob
Certain of the monster behind you
Not sure of the monsters beyond
Duffle bag on your back
Mouth dry as cotton
So you remain another day.
But your bags are packed
And in your head you’re gone
Living your life this way
One day at a time
One monster clawing at your back
God knows what waiting beyond.
Living Dead Girl
The dead ain’t for living
Still you’re living dead, girl
This six foot hole home way too long
Only so many ways to dig dirt
Before it piles up
Crumbles back down
And ruins all your hard work.
So many ways for living
Still you’re living dead, girl
You’re so better off going about it alone
But even then it’s a mockery
Having dirt thrown upon you
After you worked so hard
Cleaning up your hole.
But the dead ain’t for living
Still you’re living dead, girl
And that six foot hole is a long way down
It’s okay to close your eyes
Just drop in; you’re not alone
See I’m down here, too
Digging all the while.
Fakes Need Not Apply
The thing about this mask
Is that I choose not to wear it
Without this mask
You see me for all I am
So shame on you
For not seeing me coming.
And your kind
You wear the masks I choose not to
You wear the masks I see through.
A brilliant disguise?
I walk raw, naked and senses alive
Even while the rest of me dies
Just do me this favor
Only this one
When I’m gone
Display this mask alongside my casket
To serve as constant reminder
For the fakes who attend.
The call came
that you were gone
and all that remained
was the simple act of driving
to see you one last time.
But you left the party
long before last call
after the final hello.
Your own terms
something I will admire.
You left me
something you never were
something hard to erase from memory
And during that simple act of driving
when all that remained
were your terms
I remembered the final time I lay with you
the party long over
the curtain long drawn.
Of A Darker Art
Got hell in mouth
Devil on tongue
Voodoo mama on brain
Demon in heart.
Dig bones from dirt
Bury spleens in hearth
Keep gris-gris round neck
Darkness never part.
Never sell this spell
But steal your charm
Tongue flick tail rattle, baby
Yeah, snake round arm.
But hell in mouth
Need devil on tongue
Voodoo mama on brain
You the demon in my heart.
~ Joseph A. Pinto
© Copyright 2012 Joseph A. Pinto. All Rights Reserved.
The babies are coming. They’re coming and Friedrich is not there. After everything they have been through; the heartache, the treatments, he is not going to miss this moment. He puts his foot down on the accelerator. The sigh of warm air from the heater blows against his face. He drives fast through the snow-flecked night.
The road seems endless. A stretch of black tarmac and black ice and black night. Eventually he sees lights. Not the moon, which is full, swollen in the sky, but other lights. City lights. He navigates the icy side-streets as only an expectant father can. Two minutes now and he’ll be home and everything will be all right. He has waited for this day for so long. He has wept at the thought of this day coming, and at the thought of it not coming, when it seemed that way. Her blood, his tears. They said she was barren. But now the day is here. One minute, if that. He brings the car round the corner, faster than he should –
A figure lopes across the road, running towards him, beside him.
There is a dull thud as it hits the driver’s side of the car. He catches it with the front wheels. Then a bump; violent, horrible, to match the feeling in his stomach, as it vanishes beneath the chassis. It might have been a dog. He only half-glimpsed it, before it was drawn under the vehicle, flailing then gone. He knew dogs didn’t flail; that helpless, human gesture, but then he had not seen it properly and a car’s wheels could do terrible things to an animal’s shape. Broken apart by wheels, a dog could flail. A dog could die –
He takes the turn and pulls into his drive. The car grows quiet beneath him. He tumbles out into the cold night, which hits him with a force; stings his face and brings sharp tears to his eyes. He moves towards the house.
It doesn’t strike him as odd that the front door is open. It saves seconds in unlocking it himself. He steps into the hallway with its long, lavender walls and family pictures: their wedding, that holiday in Morocco, Christmas with her parents last year. The hallway is cold. It is filled with night air. Why was the door open? he wonders briefly. He calls out to his wife.
Screams reach his ears. Infantile and distressed, they are the most beautiful things he thinks he’s ever heard. Almost slipping, he follows them to the front room.
His steps falter. He is unsure quite what he’s seeing. Two figures roll on the sheepskin rug. They are baby-sized with four limbs each but malformed mouths, like battered snouts. Their eyes, thin, unseeing slits, are his wife’s pale blue and each is covered in a growths of matted hair, black and slick with birthing fluid. On hearing a presence they scream and mew and roll a little faster on their backs. Short, angular limbs peddle the air.
His stomach heaves and he turns from the things to vomit. His sick splashes the expensive curtains his wife and he bought when moving in together. He is wiping his eyes when he sees the spots of red across the carpet – a heavy flow, petering out as he pursues it through the hallway, a bloody breadcrumb trail leading back into the cold dark of outside. He follows the trail; the movements of his wife, he guesses, as she sought to reach him, to escape the wolfish things that have crawled out of her.
He reaches the street. The night seems vast, as though he could drown in its depths. Struggling for breath, he follows the blood spots to the misshapen figure in the road. He realises that they would always lead here. He studies the shape, which is heaving and moaning. It rolls over, hand-paws slapping the pavement, and he stares into the face of his wife.
Lights flicker on down the street. Figures appear in their doorways, drawn, he supposes, by the sounds. His wife is crying, her jowls quivering, a whimper slipping from her throat. He begins crying too. He kneels beside his lady, taking her matted fur in her hands. He thinks of the first time they met, in a queue at the bank. Their first date on the seafront, the salty breeze in their faces. The first time he cooked for her. He tells her their babies are beautiful, and that their curtains are ruined.
He smells salt now, but it is coppery and rank. A crowd is forming, shapes drawing closer. The vastness of the sky is replaced by a pressing constriction, formed by the figures around them.
He smells other things too. His wife’s blood, the stench of exhaust fumes, the hot wetness of animal breaths. He hears panting and the slop of tongues against teeth. Under the light of the moon he sees his neighbours, his friends, their snouts long, eyes shining in the moonlight.
Kneeling over his wife he takes her in his arms, to cover her, to protect her from the circling beasts, before realising his hands are also paws. His flesh is covered with hair, his teeth long and sharp in his mouth.
He hears a mewling again. His ears twitch, rising to attention. He turns, smelling blood and urine, and finds their neighbour walking towards them. She moves upright as a person and is fully clothed, but sloped eyes bridge her face, her muzzle glistening in the moonlight. In her arms she carries their two children, struggling in that way all new-born babies do, when first faced with the enormity of the world. As she approaches him, one of his neighbours howls. Another joins it, then another, until the city fills with the haunting sounds.
The pups are deposited against his flanks. Beneath him, his wolf-wife turns her face and smiles. Then she shudders and expires. The wolves continue to howl, their cry at once celebratory and mournful. They sing of life and death, blood and heat, the earth and the sky, and the night sings back at them.
~ Thomas James Brown
© Copyright 2012 Thomas Brown. All Rights Reserved.
They say the Old Manse rests on consecrated ground, but we know different now. When evil comes, it does so without warning, without provocation, and without a care of the sacredness or sanctity of one’s home.
The devil lives among us. In fact, it sleeps in the parlor beneath my bed, the one I shared with my older sister, Jessamine, until four weeks ago. It festers within her frail body, a host that grows weaker with each passing day, so weak that I wonder how much more my poor sister can endure.
A week ago, I heard Father mention a word I’d never heard in my studies before.
Reverend Newton claims Jessamine is possessed by an evil spirit. It’s the only thing that can explain the physical change in her body, the mad gibberish she spits at us unabated, the fantastic feats she performs at will. Just yesterday, I watched her rise from the settee as if she had the weight of a cloud. It took Mother and Father to pull her down from the ceiling.
Oh, the terrible things it/she said to Father. The awful epithets it/she hurled at Mother.
The worst is saved for the Reverend. How the demon in Jessamine despises him.
The good Reverend arrived four days ago. Most of his time has been spent at her bedside, reading scripture, sometimes shouting, other times issuing commands in a soft yet commanding voice.
My sister’s exorcism is in its fourth day. It feels and looks as if we have all aged twenty years. Mother’s hair is whiter, and the weariness of Father’s eyes along with his sunken cheeks have given him the mask of a much older, decimated man.
Tonight is to be the last night. Either Jessamine will die or the Reverend will perish from the struggle between God and the Fallen One. I know in my heart of hearts that neither can persevere another day.
I was ordered to stay out of the parlor, but I can’t leave my sister’s side. I watch in mute horror as her body contorts and strange, terrifying sounds issue from her chapped, raw lips.
A hail storm, wild and white with gale winds that batter the glass windows of the Old Manse, howls in unison with the demon that has lodged itself within Jessamine’s throat. She is so pale. Her body is awash with sweat and blood, yet she shivers as if immersed in an icy lake.
“Child, the Reverand’s Bible!” my father shouts at me.
My heart hitches in my chest and I freeze.
It takes everyone in the room, Father, Mother, Reverand Newton and Esther, our charwoman, who was strong as ten horses, to contain my teenage sister’s writhing body. The popping of Jessamine’s shoulders and hips bring a wave of nausea to my already tormented belly.
“Mercy! The book!”
My mother’s panicked voice breaks me from my stupor.
Jessamine had smacked the book out of Reverand Newton’s hand when he tried to place its binding against her flushed, creased forehead. I find it under the chair and run to him.
Using his free hand to press down on my sister’s chest, he opens the book to a page with a red felt bookmark and begins to read.
“Submit yourselves to God! Resist the devil, and he will flee from you!”
Jessamine roars, an inhuman wail that sounds like a zoo of beasts in agony.
I step back, stifling my tears. I squeeze my doll, my only source of comfort, tight against my breast.
“We’re almost there,” the Reverand says to my father.
Jessamine’s eyes roll to the back of her head and her body goes limp.
The Reverend continues, “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners, and purify your hearts. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up!”
A hail stone the size of a man’s fist crashes through the window. The angry wind follows, billowing out the heavy, maroon drapes. All of the candles snuff out and we plunge into darkness.
I scream. I know I’m supposed to be strong and brave for my tormented sister, but out it comes anyway, a scream from the pit of my soul that won’t stop until my throat is torn to pieces. I want it to cease! I can’t bear another moment under this roof, wrestling with the devil that has taken hold of my dear, loving Jessamine.
Through my screams of terror, there is no way to know that all had grown deathly still.
A pair of cold hands place themselves on either side of my face.
“Mercy, please, it’s all right,” a voice hushes. Stale breath brushes across my face.
Reluctantly, I open my eyes, and my spirit soars.
I throw my arms around my frail sister and we go crashing to the floor.
“Be careful,” mother admonishes.
“You’re back! You’re really back!” I cry, gazing into her clear, exhausted eyes.
A stream of tears flow down her cheeks and she kisses the top of my head. “I am,” she replies. “And just in time, I see. You dropped Lucy.”
She hands my doll to me and I notice the crack in her once perfect, porcelain head. It runs from the corner of her right eyebrow to her painted hairline. Normally, such a tragedy would devastate me, but on this day, it was a pittance.
My sister had returned!
…to be continued, Part 1
Written by Hunter Shea, Story & Concept by Ivy Shea and Veronica Shea
~ Hunter Shea
© Copyright 2012 Hunter Shea. All Rights Reserved.