Just look at that slut. You know she slept with every boy in her class.”

“I heard she did ten guys one night at Tracy Martin’s sweet sixteen. Daewon said they pulled a train on her. I don’t even know what that means, but I’m sure it’s disgusting.”

“I mean, look at her. Girl is ratchet as hell.”

“I bet she’s a dyke, too.”

“You can’t be a dyke and screw boys.”

“Tell that to Cindy. She knows this girl’s sister who went to grammar school with her and she said that she was doing girls in like the sixth grade.”

“I told you, that girl is duuurty.”

“Hey, what are you lookin’ at, nasty?”

“Keep on walkin’, bitch.”

Andi Swan pulled her books tight to her chest. She tried to avoid eye contact, staring at a point over the heads of Jazabelle, Elise, Emily and Jade. The four girls narrowed their heavily made-up eyes and spat a slew of obscenities her way.

“You like what you see, lezzie?”

“No one even likes your lonely ass. If I was you, I’d drop out of school.”

They laughed, giving each other high fives. Andi stood her ground. When she opened her mouth to speak, Emily put up a hand and said, “Don’t even think of talking to us. Just keep stepping. You’ll be late for your next abortion.”

Andi’s hand went to her throat, to the gold St. Andrew medallion that her grandmother had given her on her first Communion.

“Bitch is stupid and a ho. You waiting for me to come over and bust your dyke nose?”

Andi swallowed and cleared her throat.

“No,” she sputtered, the words collapsing to the scuffed floor.

“Well, if you don’t walk away, that’s what we’re gonna do.”


This brought the girls nearly to tears, guffawing and stomping in circles.

“I… I just want to see,” Andi said.

They stopped their reverie. “See? See what?”

The girls clenched their fists. They had riled themselves up for a good, lopsided ass kicking.

Andi let go of the cross and pointed to the ceiling.


The girls looked up in time to take the sudden explosion of concrete directly in their faces. The ceiling came down with a thunderous crash, obliterating the four girls in the flutter of a butterfly’s wings. Andi winced at the sound of their bodies popping like water balloons under the rubble. Crimson gouts of blood spurted through the gaps in the debris.

Kids screamed. Teachers shouted. The hall filled with dust and death. Pandemonium 101 was in session.

Andi coughed. Her eyes stung and her lungs hurt from breathing in the tainted air.

Mr. Bernson, her fourth period living environment teacher, ran over to make sure she wasn’t hurt. He grasped her shoulders. His fingers were hard and bony.

“Are you all right? Did you see what happened?”

Andi slowly looked to him. “I saw the crack. I tried to tell them.”

“Tell who, Andi?”

She pointed at the widening pool of blood seeping from the wreckage. He darted to the pile of concrete, yelling for help, digging for lost treasure.

Clenching her jaw so as not to smile, Andi whispered, “Dumb bitches,” and walked out into the fresh air.

Author’s Note : St. Andrew is the patron saint of sudden death.
Karma’s a bitch, especially to bullies.

~ Hunter Shea

© Copyright 2013 Hunter Shea. All Rights Reserved.

Heed the Tale Weaver: Celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Damned. Through May 7, 2013, upon each new post, a comment you will leave. A package of ghoulish goodies tainted with an offering from every member of the Damned awaits one fated winner – glorious books, personalized stories and eternal suffering at your feet. Now Damn yourself, make your mark below! But remember insolent ones, you must leave a comment, a “like” will not earn you a chance at our collection of depravity. Do not make the Damned hunt you down.

Darkened Reflections

I sit here listening to the rain tinkling off the darkened glass of my window. Like so many nights before, I peer into an eternity of nothingness that shows only my blurred face in its shadows. Shadows that dance around in the ambient light as the wind whips and sways the tree limbs, keeping pace with the rain as it shifts from a patter to a pounding, to a more gentle touch on the pane.

I begin to turn away and see just the merest suggestion of movement from the corner of my eye, I turn back… But nothing has changed, nothing is different, no one is there. My blurred view is as it was before. Rivulets of rain running down the glass; impressions of shapes I know so well that exist beyond the safety of my window; my face looking back at me lost in the dreary visage of the existence in which I suffer. A face distorted by the passage of the rain running over the glass… a face twisted in pain.

I wander to the door, drawn by a force both within me and beyond these protective walls. What an exquisitely beautiful night to breath in the smell of the wet grass, the saturated earth, the dampness all around me.  What a sumptuous night to twirl circles in my tattered gown, soaked and clinging to my body like a lover that has been released but wishes not to go. What a glorious night to stroll under the rows of the ever reaching Maple trees, listening as their limbs sing a song of agony as they rub against one another.  I let the rain wash me clean under the hidden moon before wandering farther into the shadows of this night.

The beast, he wakes; I can feel him watching, waiting, growing from the pangs within me. Will he come to me, this creature of anguish? The rain is slowing, a mere drizzle now, barely even falling – floating on the breeze like his warm breath upon my bare neck.  Will he stalk me in the lingering mist?  I live knowing he terrifies me, even as I long for his touch; the touch of a soul as dark and tortured as my own.

The moon tries to protect me with its light, but I hide in the shadows as does he – this monster of beauty and destruction; this primal creature that will destroy me; this half-man half-beast that will ultimately consume me.  How long can I resist his not-so gentle pull into the dark of the  woods that now surround me? Do I even wish to try? Or would I willingly rush to him if only he would beckon?

I stand on the brink of the deeper shadows trembling with fear; fearing the need to take that final step. I feel his want calling out to me – yes, he wants me to enter his world, but he does not guarantee that my journey there will be a sane one. I move out of the shadows and  fall to my knees weeping, begging him to emerge from the dim recesses and enter my world of glowing moonlight. But he fears the light, no – not fear – hate. He hates the light. This light that shines upon my upturned face and tangled hair has been his undoing. He was not always this beast, he was once a creature so different, so full of life, that he has no choice but to loathe the fact that I have not become what he is. His presence near demands that I enter his domain; his mind delves into mine impaling me with his desire. But I know his lust is insatiable, and once he has touched my darkness, I will never return to the light again.

Frightened, I cannot move; he is enraged – so angered that he nearly allows himself to reach out and grab hold of me, dragging me to him. I will not fight, I will let him take what he will, yet I cannot offer my submission even under his heated gaze.  But no, he will not take me, I must come to him; my damaged companion, my kindred tortured soul who seeks nothing more than I – a release from this distant embrace of hellish pain we are destined to exist within.

With a snarl of anger and disgust, he leaves me yet again to weep at the edge of the darkness, screaming silently to be where he’d have me go.

I hear him howl into the night; he screams his rage while crying out his longing for that which may someday leave what  meager light the moon sheds to walk in the dark at his side – owned by him for all eternity.


~ Nina D’Arcangela

© Copyright 2012 Nina D’Arcangela. All Rights Reserved.

Heed the Tale Weaver: Celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Damned. Through May 7, 2013, upon each new post, a comment you will leave. A package of ghoulish goodies tainted with an offering from every member of the Damned awaits one fated winner – glorious books, personalized stories and eternal suffering at your feet. Now Damn yourself, make your mark below! But remember insolent ones, you must leave a comment, a “like” will not earn you a chance at our collection of depravity. Do not make the Damned hunt you down.

In The Name Of Science


“Alright, Detective Dickhole, what do you have for me today?”

Pathologist Leonard Kessler’s voice echoed through the cold room. The acoustically prone surfaces usually kept his spoken words to a minimum, but he never missed the opportunity to insult his big brother.

Darren Kessler shivered, folding his arms tighter against his chest. “I still don’t know how you work in here.”

“You get used to it, just like Dad’s cooking.”

“I’m still trying to digest his meatloaf from last Easter and still trying to get warm in here.”

“The trick is to stop tying, just accept it.” Leonard said.

“Screw that. I’ll wait for evolution to give us internal thermostats. Anyway, I pulled some strings to get this case for you,” Darren said, smiling. “I know you like working on the weird ones.”

“Lay it on me!”

“The body,” Darren said, reading from the file folder and pointing to the freshly wheeled-in corpse, “is a 36-year-old Caucasian male, 182 lbs., 5’ 11”. Dr. Patrick Mahoney, a Marine Biologist. He was found dead in his laboratory nearly seven hours ago. The man’s financial backer, Charles Grawner, discovered the body after Mahoney was a no-show for a status meeting. No immediate indications of foul play—the lab was locked from the inside. Mahoney had just returned from a research jaunt through the Pacific.


“Don’t think so. Too messy and bizarre for self-inflicted damage—wait till you see him; strange. Here’s a copy of the file.”

Darren handed him a file folder of crime scene photos and documents. “Run a full report on him. Call me when you have something.”

“Yes, Sir.” Leonard tossed his brother a mock salute.


Detective Kessler sipped the runny tar his co-workers called coffee while sifting through evidence bags in his office. One, marked Bodily Possessions, held a cell phone, ID badge, wallet, and a small portable computer drive. He plugged the USB drive into his laptop while mumbling to himself, “Please, no kiddie porn.”

Sorting through the extensive list of folders and files, he scanned the recent documents. Heading the list was a mpeg video titled ‘URGENT – Watch NOW’. Darren double-clicked the file.

An unshaven man with ruffled hair stared at the camera. His eyes, clearly visible behind small, wire-framed glasses, were red, puffy, and underlined by dark baggage.

As the video began, the man rubbed his face and took a deep breath.

“April 14th, 2013. 10:39pm. My name is Dr. Patrick T. Mahoney. I’m a marine biologist working under an unlisted grant from Grawner Bio-Chem, Inc. through a NOAA privatized research arm, Marine Research Discoveries Division.

“We were researching the waters above the Mariana Trench, dropping probes when a Mitsukurina owstoni (Goblin shark) floated to the surface, deceased. To learn more about the pink Mitsukurina and what happened to it, we hauled it aboard for analysis.

“The shark’s characteristic protruding jaw was dislodged and broken. This particular specimen had abnormally long teeth which was quite odd and seemed the most likely the cause of death… but we were wrong.

“Upon dissection, I discovered foreign tissue residing inside the cartilaginous skull. This tissue was in fact an endoparasitoic creature—still thriving after its host’s death. It was like nothing I’d ever seen before.

“Two crew members of Māori descent had been very uneasy with its presence on the boat. They referred to it as ‘Wheke Pōtae’, which roughly translates to ‘Head Squid’. An old fable passed down from their tribe elders claimed it was crafty and evil, not to be trifled with or risk bringing death upon the whole village.”

The doctor paused, his eyes shifting back and forth restlessly as if ratcheting his brain toward a decision. After a loud exhale, Dr. Mahoney returned his gaze to the screen and new distress had carved deeper lines on his face, advancing his perceived age.

“Do not misunderstand what you are watching here,” he said. “At this moment, I am of sound mind and body. My actions are taken willingly. What I am doing, and what you are about to witness, is in the name of science. Please learn from this, I beg you; heed my warnings and study my experience, or it will all be in vain.

“In the days between docking and now, I’ve studied the specimen to learn more about the endoparasite. You can find all the documentation on the data drive with this video, including a hypothetical case study of the organism’s method of reproduction.

“But now… theories be damned, I am the case study.”

Raising a hand, Dr. Mahoney showed a puncture wound on the webbing between his thumb and forefinger. Swelling had ballooned the curve of his hand from a concave pink to a greenish convex mound with blue lightning-veins racing down his arm and out of the camera frame.

“It must sense other living beings’ proximity through electrical impulse sensitivity. It projected a reproduction-capable proboscis and injected an embryo of sorts under the dermal layer. I clearly underestimated its capabilities.”

The doctor exhaled a deep, quivering breath.

“I felt it… crawling up my arm, along my jugular, and squeezing into my skull. That was 7 hours ago. Since then, I’ve experienced heightened sensitivity in my jaw and teeth and increased cranial pressure.

“The organism stimulates unprecedented growth in the host’s teeth. After close inspection, I’ve identified a siphon appendage wrapped around the nerve within each tooth’s inner cavity, which extends to a tiny hole in the outer enamel. I believe this is used to increase pressure within the skull in an attempt to replicate the pressure levels of its native ocean environment. The teeth must gr—”

The biologist winced, crying out and clutching his head.

“I think it’s feeding.”

He reached up and stopped the recording.

The screen flashed. The Doctor was now very pale with dried blood around his nostrils and ears. His lips, suffering multiple points of laceration, were split and pushed back in a skull’s grin. The lower jaw jutted out and down in what would have been an open-mouthed posture, but the view was obstructed by teeth—an enamel cage overlapping from a massive under-bite. His harsh breaths hissed through the dental wall, whistling and slapping against the continual production of crimson-tinged drool.

Dr. Mahoney held up a small dry-erase board with a poorly scrawled message stating, “I can no longer speak clearly. I cannot move my jaw, the pain is incredible.”

He lowered the board and wrote a new message. His body was quivering and tears flowed freely as he held up message after message.

“With growing teeth and chewed brain, I’m not sure…

“…how much time I have left, how much more I can take….

“…I feel teeth growing, forcing jaw open further.”

Before displaying the next part of his message he jolted forward and howled as if an invisible hammer struck him in the back of the head. The tortured sound was muffled behind his overlapping wall of teeth. It barely sounded human. He recovered in his chair but his breathing quickened.

Between the man’s hissing breaths, the detective could hear the multifaceted squeal of enamel pushing against enamel.

Mahoney finished the written words and held up the board.

“my experiences and spec It’s moving around, eating again.”

Blood dribbled from his nose. He started writing more but never finished. His rasped, violent breathing stopped cold. The doctor’s eyes widened. He stared into the camera with unwavering intensity for so long that Detective Kessler wondered if the video had paused. Then, the man’s subtle tremors, tight convulsions of the head, became noticeable.

Dr. Mahoney screamed again, but this time he didn’t stop.

Kessler lowered the hand covering his mouth and leaned closer to the computer screen, riveted to the horror unfolding before him.

The doctor pounded fists against his temples and clawed at his scalp. It looked as if he’d gone insane—sanity eroding right in front of the camera.

The man’s right eye twitched and turned in the socket, completely unhinged from the synchrony with his other, which held firm in its gaze at the camera. A moment later, it disappeared, sucked back into his skull with a splash of blood and aqueous fluid, leaving a grotesque void behind.

Despite the screaming, Kessler heard the loud pop of Dr. Mahoney’s jaw finally giving way under the strain. It flopped open, swaying like a bear trap with a broken spring. A pink cocktail of blood and cranial fluids poured from his nose. Choking, the doctor’s shrieks drowned in a long, agonizing gurgle before he collapsed onto the desk.

Darren sat as still as the dead man on the video.

In his eleven years as a homicide detective, he’d never seen anything like that before. He fumbled for his cell phone and dialed.

“Leo, you’re not gonna believe what I just saw.”

“This thing is amazing,” Leonard said, ignoring his brother. “It completely devoured Dr. Mahoney’s brain and grew large enough to crack open the skull.”

“Yeah, it kills the host… not very good for longevity, huh.”

“Darren, I think it’s still alive.”

“Shit! Get away from it, right now!” the detective said, jumping out of his chair. “I’m coming down. Don’t do anything ‘till I get there.”


The detective burst into the autopsy room, shouting. “I told you to get back, goddamn it.”

Leonard sat on a stool with his back to the door, leaning over Mahoney’s body.

Darren rushed over. “It’s not safe, Leo. I told you to—”

His brother was shaking. Still holding the phone in his right hand, he cradled the left.

“It happened so fast.” Leonard said in a hollow, reedy voice.

Darren saw the tell-tale wound on his brother’s wrist and knew exactly what had happened. He pulled Leonard away from the table, ranting, “No. No. No.”

Leonard flexed his fingers and winced. “Man it hurts. I felt the toxin spreading all the way up to my head.”

“Fuck!” Darren paced, pausing occasionally to kick over a tray of tools or punch the cooler doors. “Fuck. Fuck. Fuck!”

“Hey, we should call 911 or poison control.”

“It’s not a toxin.” Darren scolded him. “There’s no antidote… no way to survive, only the suffering of an agonizing death.”


Darren drew his Glock 17 and fired five rounds into the occupied cavity of Dr. Mahoney’s skull.

“Whoa, we still could’ve—”

Darren pivoted to point the gun at his brother.

“What the fuck, man?”

“It’s the only way to save you.” He said with tears dripping from his chin.


“I love you, Leo.”

“Wait, Darren! Don’t…”

Responding to the initial report of gunfire in the morgue, the uniformed officers were halfway down the hall when the last two shots rang out.

~ Tyr Kieran

© Copyright 2013 Tyr Kieran. All Rights Reserved.

Heed the Tale Weaver: Celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Damned. Through May 7, 2013, upon each new post, a comment you will leave. A package of ghoulish goodies tainted with an offering from every member of the Damned awaits one fated winner – glorious books, personalized stories and eternal suffering at your feet. Now Damn yourself, make your mark below! But remember insolent ones, you must leave a comment, a “like” will not earn you a chance at our collection of depravity. Do not make the Damned hunt you down.

Bad Company

“So, am I correct in assuming that you only go for our white women?” Richard asked, spearing the slice of grilled pork with his fork and jabbing the meat into his eager mouth.

Here it was. The moment of truth that Nathan had been dreading since before he arrived. The question, delivered with such revulsion that his many hours of mental gymnastics had proven inadequate preparation for the sting once the words finally sliced through the tenuous air.

He shot a sly glance across the table at his host.

“Richard, it’s obvious you and I come from different worlds, but we’re not all that different,” Nathan responded, the frozen eyes from the faces of so many dead animal heads mounted on the walls staring down at him, urging him to continue. “In Philly, questions like that don’t get asked. It doesn’t matter how others live their lives. My guess is that if you look deeper into the well, you’ll find what you’re looking for.”

“You got that liberal north in you…boy,” Richard spat the last word.

Inside, Nathan’s stomach churned.

“It’s a simple question, with an equally simple answer,” the older man continued. “Let me show you how easy it is, Nathan.” Pausing. “Without a shadow of a doubt, I’ve never had any interest in any woman that wasn’t a white woman. My crayon box has no colors. So, I guess I can understand your particular…shall we say…fetish?” He finished, chewing on his words as much as the food in his mouth.

It had probably been a mistake to visit Christine’s father. Not to mention taking the 800-mile trip to southern Indiana without her knowledge. But, against his better judgment, Nathan had done just that. And he now found himself sitting at the dining room table with the man from whom Christine had spent so many of her own years running away from.

“For the most part, Christine and I feel it’s not what’s on the outside that makes us different. We also don’t necessarily agree about what’s on the inside,” Nathan said, thinking about the girlfriend he’d lied to about a last-minute business trip to L.A.

“That Christine… Always a bit of a wild hare. Gotta give ‘er that one! No matter how we tried, her mother and I never could seem to get her to understand the importance of tradition. Ever since she was little she went her own way. Even becoming a vegetarian; can you imagine?” Richard said, popping another bite of meat into his mouth. The trophy heads hanging on the walls of the room listened in silence. “Never raised her that way. Just up and changed — was the darndest thing. I blame the liberal colleges she attended.”

Nathan remained silent, non-committal.

“So, I take it you’re a hunter, Nathan. How does that square with Christine?” Richard asked, changing the subject.

Christine had shared many tales of her father’s exploits. Had explained how he prided his ability to track down and kill any type of game — the wilder or more exotic the better. The mounted heads of antelope, buffalo, kangaroo, and boar, along with the more mundane deer and moose that lined the walls of the dining room were testaments to her tales. From just above his own head, Richard’s pride and joy, a massive grizzly bear, growled down at Nathan.

“Why else would I be here, Richard?” Nathan responded, rhetorically.

“One time…many years ago, Christine brought home a Chinese boy she’d been dating. Again…back in college…the root of all her problems, I’m convinced. Didn’t raise her to associate with the others, but the free-willed person she was, she went on and did it anyway,” he finished, pointing his empty fork at Nathan, punctuating his words.

“I believe Jon was Vietnamese,” Nathan corrected him, remembering Christine’s account of her first boyfriend meeting her father. According to her, it hadn’t gone well. Nathan now understood why.

“Is there any difference? All Orientals…” Richard stated, matter-of-factly. “Did you see my oriental rug?” Pointing at the floor beneath the table. “It came from Japan. In the Orient.

“Anyway, that one, he didn’t last very long. Didn’t have the right stuff, I guess,” he continued. “Too much of the same color in his crayon box. Yellow, ya might say. That’s when I started questioning my daughter’s choices. So what makes you think you’ll fare better than he did?” He asked, sucking the meat from a rib, his lips smacking obscenely.

“Growing up in eastern P.A., I spent a great deal of time in the Poconos,” Nathan explained. “I know a thing or two about the hunt. I’d like to think I’m pretty capable with a gun…or a knife… Or anything else, for that matter,” he said, throwing a smirk at the older man, who refused the bait.

“That so…?” Richard stated, more than asked. “Guess we find out tomorrow. I believe maybe you think you’re gonna show me a thing or two. I can smell it on ya. Just a warning though, sometimes I don’t play fair…” Richard said, his voice all sincerity. “So, wake-up call’s 4:00am. We’ll see what you’ve got, City Boy. And, remember, winner takes all.”

“Winner takes all,” Nathan agreed.


They had driven to a location about 50 miles outside of town to a spot Richard claimed offered the best hunting around. Most importantly, it was far enough from the prying eyes of the law, he had explained on the trip into the country.

With the morning sun bleeding into the sky, the two men walked as quietly as possible through the dense forest. Each armed with their own Browning auto-loader, more than a few field dressing knives and enough ammunition to take down a whole herd if need be. Their meandering path through the woods kept them off the well-worn trails but close enough to see any movement on them. Speaking very little during the hour or so hike, they left all the talking to their footfalls — an ominous reminder to each why the other was there.

Richard broke the silence, his hand shooting into the air to halt Nathan who followed a few steps behind. Whispering, he pointed. “There, ‘bout 20 yards to the east, just beyond that copse of trees.”

In the distance, Nathan saw movement behind the brush — flashes of white, brown and tan among a sea of green.

“Looks like we got us a couple,” Richard said. “See there, a beautiful white-tailed doe out for an early morning stroll, with her magnificent buck in tow. No inter-species mingling goin’ on there,” he chided, almost chuckling at his own bad joke.

“Indeed, she’s a beauty. And what’s he, about a 4- or 5-pointer?”

Richard ignored the question.

Raising his rifle to peer through the scope, Nathan watched the magnificent creatures step from behind a stand of trees. He thought he noticed a slight twitch in the buck’s head, potentially signaling the hunters’ undoing. The moment passed, and they trotted on.

“We’re ‘bout to see what you’re made of, Mr. City Boy,” Richard said. “You got one shot. And remember, all or nuthin’.” The look in his eyes almost a gleam.

Nathan could almost hear the smirk in the old man’s voice.

“Gotta do this together, if we aim to bag ‘em both.”

“I’m with ya, old man,” Nathan said, aware that the shots, if not almost simultaneous, would spook one of the animals into bolting. And, considering he’d come this far, he wasn’t about to make a mistake, knowing full well the repercussions.

“You take the female. I’ll get the male. Okay?”

“Just as I’d prefer,” Nathan said.

“On three,” Richard’s voice barely above a whisper.


Nathan steadied the butt of the rifle against his shoulder and peered through the scope, positioning his magnified crosshairs on the animal’s chest.


Richard stared into the face of the buck whose brown eye blinked once before turning his head directly into the hunter’s sights, inadvertently lining up the shot on his own forehead.


The bullets flew from their chambers.

An explosion of red burst from the doe’s chest as Nathan’s shot entered just above her heart. The buck’s skull splintered as Richard’s bullet drove its way home. The female wobbled on unsure legs before bouncing into a tree and falling to the ground. The male collapsed where he stood, Richard’s aim point blank.

“Looks like you ain’t half bad with that rifle after all,” Richard said, almost congratulatory.

The hunters shambled to where their kill now lay on the ground. The male had died instantly. Richard grabbed his legs, flopping him unceremoniously onto his back. His head, lolling awkwardly from a lifeless neck, was a shattered mass where the exit wound had blown out the back of his skull. Nothing that taxidermy couldn’t fix.

Nathan’s female was drowning in a pool of blood, struggling for life. A few labored breaths bubbled red out of her nostrils and from between her lips. Unsheathing his dressing blade, he mercifully jabbed the sharpened steel into her stomach. With a motion more precarious than planned, he slid the blade through her rib cage and up to her gullet, splaying open her chest cavity and emptying its contents onto the ground. With the blood-stained point of his blade, he flipped aside her jogging bra, sending a spray of red into her blonde hair. Her porcelain flesh now exposed, Nathan sliced a large section of flesh from her breast and popped it into his greedy mouth, the areola bouncing between his teeth.

“Well, Nathan, even if you do look a bit like a raisin in the sun,” Richard said, “seems like we’ve got more in common than I thought. Guess it’s true what they say about a daddy’s girl. No matter what, she always finds someone who’s just like her dear old pa.”

For the first time that weekend, Richard Morgan smiled.

~ Daemonwulf

© Copyright 2013 DaemonwulfTM. All Rights Reserved.

Heed the Tale Weaver: Celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Damned. Through May 7, 2013, upon each new post, a comment you will leave. A package of ghoulish goodies tainted with an offering from every member of the Damned awaits one fated winner – glorious books, personalized stories and eternal suffering at your feet. Now Damn yourself, make your mark below! But remember insolent ones, you must leave a comment, a “like” will not earn you a chance at our collection of depravity. Do not make the Damned hunt you down.


Something’s wrong in Club Blaze tonight. I can’t put my finger on it, but the heaviness of the air is pushing on my lungs, and I can hardly breathe. The metal band playing their rolling, heavy rifts would normally have me sky-high by now, but I’m anything but.
“Come on, Zack Kullis,” I say to myself, “get it under control. The bar is hopping. If you want the big tips that come with Friday nights like this, you better keep your ass moving.”
The fucking Blazing Skull fresco plastered on the wall behind the performers appears to be smiling, leering even, and I swear it’s staring at me. Shit! It’s not just staring at me, it’s trying to get into my head. It wants my thoughts known to it.
Wow! What’s come over me? I’ve worked here a long time, and I’ve seen some strange things go down but I’ve always been able to look the other way and not worry about them. But the very atmosphere tonight is a choking, threatening force, an entity even, one intent on wreaking havoc on me.
The mere scent of beer coming from the bottles as I open them causes my stomach to retch, and as for pouring one on tap, it’s nausea city. I can hardly stand, doubled over the way I am from the pain deep within my gut, forcing its way up my esophagus, and lingering in the space between the back of my throat and my trembling lips.
Sweating like I’ve just stepped out of a sauna, my fancy bartender’s garb – black tuxedo pants, cumberbund, long sleeved white shirt, and a hideous black bow-tie – is drenched and trapping the heat against my body. Steam! My God, I feel like steam is pouring out from within and frying my skin. Boils pop up before my eyes, and I rush to run cold water over my hands to keep the burns down, knocking Joe, the other bartender, to the side.
“What’s wrong with you, mother-fucker?!” he shouts.
Pointing to my blistered hands, I say, “I have to get water on these burns now!”
“What burns? You’re one crazy fuck tonight!”
What the . . . ?
There are no burns! How can this be? Just moments ago they were all over my hands.
The fresco laughs at me, the fleshless skull opening its mouth wide, flashing those perfect white teeth in my direction. The flames go wild, and within seconds the back drop to the stage ignites and the band is engulfed in a deluge of red, orange, and yellow. The dancing armada of heat demons sets the leather jackets of the band members on fire, and soon their faces match that of my nemesis, as peeling flesh falls from their faces to the floor. Five flaming musicians cavort on stage as if possessed, the intensity of their music reaching a crescendo unlike anything I have ever heard before.
Wild, burning banshees sing of a place much like the stage is now, one filled with torture and pain. But . . . but the band doesn’t appear to be in distress. Can it be? Is this their normal state of being?
Before I can react to the fire, to get to an extinguisher at the side of the bar, the flames reverse themselves and traipse back to the fresco, where they once more become mere paint and fabric. And the band . . . the band and all that was once consumed by the fire is now back to the way it was.
My head! What is going on? This can’t be happening? The painting is causing this. I know it is.
“Damn you!” I shout, staring at the painting. “Stop this shit!”
Joe pulls me back from the edge of the bar. “Zack! Calm down. Go outside and get some air. Pull yourself together.”
Yeah, that’s what I need. This place is closing in on me tonight. That’s all. A little air and I’ll be just fine.
It’s no easy task working my way through the patrons. The joint is getting more packed with every minute. But I have to get through. Even the participants in this crazy drinking, dancing, and orgasmic frenzy of emotions coming from I don’t know where are looking non-human. Their outward personas vanish beneath their false veneers and I see them for who and what they really are.
Putting my hands over my eyes, I force myself through the gathering of miscreants and, after what seems to be an eternity, I find myself in the parking lot. Oh, shit! The parking lot is empty. These people inside; where did they come from? How did they get here?
“A little confused, are you?”
I turn and see Mr. McRob leaning up against one of the porch supports, striking his match against the timber and lighting up a cigar. Cuban. Damn, I remember the aroma from the pre-embargo days.
“Remember these, Zack? Ah, you do, don’t you?”
Before I can answer him, a lit cigar is in my hand.
“Go ahead, my friend. Indulge. I have plenty.”
Standing a few feet apart, puffing on the best of the best, and wondering how he got to me so fast, I simply say, “Thank you, sir.”
He laughs. “Call me Blaze. Everyone else does. Well, almost everyone else. Sometimes I get called rather vile names. People can be rather crude, you know.”
I’m not sure what’s going down, but I haven’t physically laid eyes on Mr. McRob since the day I was hired. And that’s been a long time. Why now?
“Why now? I’ll tell you why now,” he says.
How does the bastard know what I’m thinking?
“Let me explain what’s happening here, Zack. Club Blaze is a little more than a gin mill with heavy metal music. Well, that’s a bit of a lie. Damn me. Truth be told: it’s a lot more. See, we cater to some pretty special people.
“Alas. The special people are pretty much gone. You know the back room where you thought the high stakes poker games were going on?”
“The games were going on, but other things were happening as well.”
“What’s that, sir?”
“Please, call me Blaze, Zack. Deals were being made. Special deals; deals with a purpose, a special meaning.”
I’m still confused. What does all this have to do with a full joint, an empty parking lot, a wall painting becoming alive, and non-humans hiding inside the bodies of what appear to be humans?
A sarcastic laugh reverberates around me from all sides of the parking lot. “Oh, Zack, you are such a virgin when it comes to the ways of the world. My world, anyway.”   
He walks to the road and beckons for me to join him. Gingerly, I walk to where he waits for me.
“What we have here is a crossroads, Zack. Two paths intersecting; two choices to be made. And for me, deals to be made. Some people are rather unhappy with their lot in life and work out a deal with me to gain riches, a longer life, or maybe some guy wants a hot floozy to scratch his scrotum for awhile. Do you understand what I’m saying?”
I totally understand what he’s saying, but I don’t know if I can believe it or not. This is too far over the top. It just flies against logic.
“Fuck logic, Zack. You’re working for a bit of a bastard. Sorry you have to find that out, but better now than later, huh?”
“Yes, Blaze. Better now than later.”
“Great! We have some common ground. Now we go back to choices and deals. What do you want from life?”
“Nothing much. I have a job, make some decent money, and my wants are really not that exorbitant. I’m pretty content with things the way they are.”
“Oh, Zack, come on now. Surely you would enjoy riches and all that comes with it.”
“Not really. I live alone, and my salary here is quite good. I enjoy my job, for the most part, anyway – tonight was wonky – but there’s not anything else I need.”
“I’ve been burned too often. I need a break there. When the time is right, things will gel. Until then, I’ll just wait.”
Blaze is pissed. He wants to make a deal, and I’m not amenable to his little game.
“Let’s up the ante, Zack. What would happen if you were fired from this job, you searched high and low to find another one, only to find out you’re too fucking old to be considered? What then?”
“Social Security, maybe?”
“I don’t think so, Zack. It’s not very secure anymore, is it?”
This isn’t sounding too reassuring. I’m thinking my job is heading south, and my options are not too high in the sky.
“So what are you suggesting, Blaze?”
“There we go, Zack. I’m just suggesting we make a deal. As you can see, I’ve tapped into everyone else around here. My present clientele is waiting for their time to pay up or shut up.”
“So I’m fresh meat?”
“Interesting way to put it, but it’s true.”
“Fuck you!”
Blaze is really pissed now. “You don’t have a choice in the matter.”
The final ashes fall from the exquisite cigar, and as I stomp the butt out in the lot, I stare into the faces of everyone from inside the club.
“Well, Zack, it seems to me that keeping your job is pretty high on your list of wants. If you don’t deal, that job is gone. What do you say?”
Fuck, he has me. I need a job. “So what’s the deal?”
“Usually, I would love to play some poker, but we have an audience. How about we flip a coin? You call it. If you win, you not only keep your job, but you’ll own the club. What a deal, huh?”
“My coin, and it’s heads.”
“Fair enough.”
I take a quarter out of my pocket, stare at the entourage around me, and flip it high into the air. There is electricity in the air as everyone waits to see which way the coin lands.
“Hey, Blaze” I say, “it’s heads. Heh, heh. Looks like I win.”
The assemblage murmurs in shock. This is not what anyone expected.
A rumbling comes from deep beneath, its intensity building the closer it gets to me. The ground opens under the club and swallows it up. My parking lot companions, other than Blaze, turn into so many variants of wispy personas and vanish into the night.
“Blaze,” I say, “I thought the club was mine.”
“Oh. It is. We just never discussed where the club would be when you owned it.”
A sinister laugh taunts me before I stand alone at the crossroads.
I turn my coin over in my hands. Go figure. This quarter has two heads . . .
 ~ Blaze McRob

© Copyright 2013 Blaze McRob. All Rights Reserved.

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