His tears were lost in the pouring rain. The night, clouded over in a thick storm, was almost as pitch as the void in his soul—a mark forged by great loss, eating away at his insides until it defined him.
Rain and sorrow dripped from his face, splashing onto the raw soil below. The astringent odor of earthen mold burned in his sinuses despite the heavy storm. His middle-aged muscles burned, but their complaints fell on ignored synapses as he now ran on a higher octane fuel than human strength alone. Powered by desperation and passion, he worked feverishly, shoveling faster and faster despite the toll on his body.
“You wouldn’t want to help me, would you?” He said panting, swallowing heavy breaths between words.
A smooth voice responded from the hole’s edge above him, somehow making the faint moonlight dim further as it intoned.
“Why would I do that?” The voice crooned, dropping on him with such depth that he flinched at its weight.
“To… to speed things up.”
“Time is of no consequence for me.”
“But, w… what if the effort strains my heart and I go into cardiac arrest?”
“Hmph, that would speed things up, wouldn’t it?”
The man cursed to himself and continued in his labor. He dug the rich, dense soil, carving deeper into the flesh of the earth. It wasn’t long before the frenzy of his passion succumbed to exhaustion. His body wore down, opening the door for all his emotions to flow free.
Slowing to a stop, he dropped to his knees in the saturated mud and sobbed. “I’ve missed her so much. She was everything to me!”
He cried amid the harsh applause of the rain as it pummeled his world.
“I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep since she died.”
“Oh, do tell.” Oily, sighing sarcasm.
“I feel empty without her. I’ve lost the desire to eat, food is tasteless now. I have to gag it down just to survive, but I don’t—”
“Do I really have to listen to this? At least dig while you complain, Frank.”
The man did as he was asked, sobering slightly from the hint of anger in the dark voice above.
“She had so much life ahead of her. We, had so much life ahead of us, together. All of it gone in a stupid car accident. Why did she have to die?”
The thing sighed. “Does that really matter at this point?”
“But you’re going to change that.” Frank said, ignoring the question. “You can bring her back! I’ll be able to hold her again, feel her heart beating against mine. It’ll be just like before the crash.”
“Not quite. Do not forget the terms of our agreement.”
Frank shoveled in silence like a scolded child until his spade hit something with a solid thud. His passion returned and he scrambled to uncover the coffin. With a few chops of the shovel blade, Frank disengaged the locks and opened the lid to reveal a young woman dressed in white.
He plunged his hands beneath the corpse and pulled her against him.
“Mandy! Oh, my darling!”
Her lifeless body hung from his arms. Rain pelted her face. The funereal makeup rinsed away, exposing bruises and glued lacerations along her marbled skin. Mud sullied the angelic-white gown. Before Frank could turn to look out of the grave with a ‘What now?’ expression, the dead woman began to stir.
“Mandy, Honey, can you hear me?”
Her eyes fluttered and a groan oozed from her pale lips.
“It’s me,” Frank said, leaning back to look at her. “I’m here, now. You were in an accident, but I’m going to make it all better.”
“No, no, no,” she moaned and flailed her arms in feeble swipes at the air between them.
“I don’t think she wants to come back,” the dark figure added, chuckling with the gritty sound of rattling coal.
“She’s just in shock,” Frank snapped. “Give her a few moments to adjust.”
Mandy’s eyes opened and focused on his face. “Wha— But, I was—”
“It’s okay, Sweetie.”
“No, I don’t want to be here.”
“You’re just scared and confused. It’s—”
“I don’t want to be here!” She screamed and tried to squirm free of his grasp. “Get away from me!”
“Don’t say that, Honey.”
“Why won’t you leave me alone? I had to kill myself to get away from you and I’ll do it again!”
“But, the love we shared, it’s deeper than—”
“No!” Twisting her body, Mandy slid out of his arms and clawed at the mud walls of her grave.
“Please, Honey.” The man pleaded with outstretched arms. “Don’t push me away, I love you! We can be together again, just like before.”
A guttural laugh descended upon them. “It doesn’t seem like your student enjoyed it the first time, Frank.”
“It’s just the resurrection, she’s confused!”
“Really? Well, let’s make sure she understands, then, shall we?” The shadowed figure crouched down and spoke in a casual, sincere tone. “Mandy.”
“What? Who…” She search frantically for the origin of the voice, but couldn’t see past the driving rain with her clouded eyes.
“Your professor, here, is trying to reincarnate your lives together. Is that what you want?”
“N-no.” She sobbed and pointed a decaying finger at the man. “Keep him away! He raped me. He raped me repeatedly and blackmailed me to keep quiet. I’d rather die again!”
“Well, there you have it, Frank. You fucked the life right out of her long before the car crash took it.”
“Hey!” He shouted back, furious passion giving him false confidence. “A deal’s a deal, take my soul and let us go home.”
Everything stopped suddenly. The moonlight vanished, the rain ceased to fall, and the ambient noises fell silent for one long moment. Then, Frank knew why.
Cloaked in darkness, the demon landed in front of him with a teeth jarring explosion. Mud splashed over him like an ocean wave, the wet earth beneath him quaked despite its saturated surface, the rain renewed its heavy assault, and the creature’s voice pounded his eardrums.
“Don’t forget who you’re talking to, Mortal!”
Frank still couldn’t see more than just a shadowed form, but he felt the demon’s presence—hot breath pluming against his face and the pressure behind its voice seemingly added weight to the air.
Frank trembled violently and lost control of his bladder.
“Please,” he said, his voice meek and broken. “I need her!”
The demon reached out, placing a dark tendril on Mandy’s head, and commanded, “SLEEP!”
Her panic-stricken reincarnation came to an end. She collapsed at once and lay in the mud unmoving like the corpse she was and is again.
“No.” Frank croaked, his throat swollen with fear and despair.
The creature’s appendage turned to Frank and wrapped around his neck. It cinched tight and lifted him off the ground.
Now face to face with the demon, he finally saw its eyes. Painful to witness, Frank saw worlds of fire, grotesque creatures and beings of torment, gore and death, and horrors his brain couldn’t comprehend.
“You betrayed a student’s trust, abusing your mortal powers,” the demon said. “You destroyed her soul just to get your rocks off, then you sought to bring her back and live it all over again. Even I find that repulsive. You, Frank, deserve my worst.”
“Let’s take the elevator all the way down, shall we? I want to introduce you to your new bed-mate.”
~ Tyr Kieran
© Copyright 2013 Tyr Kieran. All Rights Reserved.
Staring out at the city of death, an exhausted Hannah sat sucking into her lungs the humidity that drifted in through the empty windowpane. On a side table, her dinner plate of raw meat was brimming with life as a cadre of beetles enjoyed her ignored meal.
With an appetite for only one thing, Hannah remembered her hunger. Sipping from a goblet of wine, she watched the fire burn in the distance.
Without anyone in the city concerned about extinguishing the blaze, the fire made an easy feast of the abandoned building. Its shuttered windows and splintered timbers providing the right fuel for the eager flames.
Smoke billowed up into the night sky as a series of new explosions rocketed skyward, sending fingers of death boiling through the surrounding streets. The silhouettes of a hundred riderless horses stood before the blaze, their black shapes stomping at the ground as if they themselves were enraged.
Raising her glass, Hannah finished with a long swallow as the entire city block was consumed in red hatred.
Standing, she removed her stained blouse and soiled leather pants, dropping them on the floor beside the bed. Her clothing made the room smell of smoke.
The girl labored among the rubbish, moving across the mounds of filth with the deftness of an accomplished thief rather than that of the young child she actually was. Her ability to scamper nimbly up and over the detritus spoke to her eternity of slavery.
No more than nine years old, she had the gait of a woman whose body had seen far more years of labor than it otherwise should have. A dull haze coated once-bright blue eyes revealing her truth — that of having been broken long ago.
Working among the acres of rot, her bared legs and shoeless feet were sucked deep into the mouth of death with each step she took. Navigating the piles of dismembered bodies, the child retrieved one bone after another, scraping into a gore-soaked bucket the remaining meat that clung to each discarded limb.
Paying little attention to the itching on her arms, she continued about her tasks, ignoring the hordes of maggots that swarmed her flesh, turning it into a writhing mass. Such was the nature of her work for the Prince’s harvest in the killing fields.
Hannah walked into the bathroom and flicked on the light switch. The dim bulb set the floor into motion as cockroaches scattered.
Stepping into the shower, the cold stones lining the compartment providing the slightest hint of relief to her aching feet, she turned the faucet with a rusty creak, and a baptismal spray of rank water stung her skin.
Subconsciously, she scratched at the droplets as they beat against her body. As broken fingernails rubbed her arms raw, all she could think of was maggots.
“GIRL!” The deep voice boomed across the field as two sharp cracks from a whip opened red gashes on the child’s bare shoulders.
Cowering, the pain like a slice of ragged glass across flesh, she fell to her knees in the abattoir.
Again, the voice.
“Are you not listening, you insolent little bitch?” More statement than question.
The blade of the dressing knife in her left hand dribbled unknown fluids onto the ground as a swarm of flies buzzed the cage of small human ribs she held in her grime-caked right hand. Hesitantly, she looked up to meet the gaze of her attacker.
Xaphan, the harvest commander and one of the Prince’s recent conscripts stared down at her with serpentine eyes that were the color of jade. He sat atop an armor-clad steed that belched cold mist from its nostrils and kicked at the ground, snapping human remains under its feet.
“Why is it you ignore me, you filthy abomination? Do you somehow think yourself of far more importance than to listen when the Commander of the Harvest addresses you?” Xaphan snarled.
“Forgive me, but I was simply busying myself with the tasks that have been selected for me,” the young Hannah responded, her voice tentative, a single tear clearing a path through the human grime that smeared her face.
Xaphan studied the girl, an air of superiority evident on his face. For an instant, he thought he noticed the familiar spark of hatred in her otherwise darkened eyes. Sure he was correct, he flashed a gratified smile.
“Come here, you little gutter pig,” he ordered, the whip snapping again, striking Hannah’s bare legs where they poked out beneath a tattered dress. “I’ve been instructed to find you among this filth and deliver you to the Great Hall. By the death of me I don’t know what the Prince wants with shit such as you. But you must come. And somehow find some way to clean yourself up!”
Hannah dropped the carcass of the human child from which she’d been scavenging. It landed atop the pile of cleaned bones with a hollow clatter. Retrieving the bucket of harvested meat, she cautiously edged her way toward Xaphan and his steed. Both of the monsters stared down at her – two pairs of matching green eyes.
“But, it’s not for me to question His motives, only to do as He asks. Follow me, girl!”
With that, Xaphan jerked the reins of the great beast, steering him through the human debris. Hannah fell in behind, following them from the killing fields. It would become her last time working Satan’s Harvest.
Running wet fingers through her filthy blonde hair, Hannah massaged her scalp under the blood-tinged spray. The water sluiced off her bare skin, sweeping away the coating of death that was her normal state of being. Hell worked its way into each and every of her pores until she, now, had almost become one with it.
Almost, Hannah thought as she watched the drain at her feet swallow the shit of her existence.
Rubbing the muscles of her arms, Hannah thought about how much she hated the Prince; and how much she despised even more his disciple, Xaphan.
Even freedom following an eternity of torture is incapable of removing the pain inflicted during captivity. Nor does it absolve the actions of one’s tormentors. By now, Hannah knew this all too well, which is why she had spent an age searching Hell for the soul of the murderous human known as the Hunter. She ultimately found him in the last place she wanted to look – the killing fields.
Himself having suffered at the hand of Xaphan when he’d foolishly bargained with his own soul in the human world, the Hunter had spent far more years trolling the boneyard than even Hannah herself. If there was a single one of Hell’s denizens that would be able to get her what she needed, she knew it was him.
Confident in the knowledge that the Hunter was unaware that the shadows following him contained anything more than darkness, Hannah was able to hide within the murk with ease. After years of practiced invisibility living within the Prince’s dominion, she had become highly skilled at navigating the streets of Hell unseen. She now watched as the Hunter, a bag slung over his shoulder, entered the abandoned structure. And, as expected, a few moments later, a dark figure flashing green eyes slipped from the shadows, following him inside.
The time has come, Hannah thought, as she followed them into the building.
From deep within the gloom of the warehouse, Hannah saw the flash of those familiar serpentine eyes. And then she heard the booming voice of Xaphan for the first time in uncounted ages.
“Why you ungrateful murderous deviant, we had a deal,” Xaphan spat the words into the Hunter’s face. “Don’t you remember? In that special spot of yours where you realized so many desires of the flesh?”
“That was then. This is now. And this time, Xaphan, I hold the cards.” The Hunter responded, shaking the sack in front of him, the wound that Xaphan had long-ago sliced into his bare chest visible in the dim light.
“But that’s where you’re wrong, fool. As long as your soul exists, you’re mine. I carry the collateral within me always,” the demon said, patting his stomach.
“But, as we know Xaphan, deals made between liars are likely to be broken. It just depends on which liar strikes first.”
“Give me what’s rightfully mine,” Xaphan ordered, reaching a taloned hand towards the bag.
“Not this time, oh great commander of the Harvest,” said Hannah, stepping from her hiding place.
“Ah, do my ears and eyes deceive, or is it my little scavenging pig?” Xaphan asked, turning in Hannah’s direction.
As planned, the Hunter turned the bag upside down, spilling the contents onto the floor with a clatter. Inside the bag was a pile of bones. Each one meticulously stripped clean, the flesh long ago having been harvested, consumed and then shat out by the denizens of Hell.
Reaching into the deepest pocket of her overcoat, Hannah removed a flare, striking the end and lighting the flame. Sparks flew through the air and bounced along the floor where they landed. For the first time that she could remember, she saw fear in Xaphan’s eyes.
“Go, Hunter. Your work is done,” Hannah ordered.
Having maintained his end of the bargain to locate the demon’s human remains in Hell’s boneyard, the Hunter ran from the building, his footfalls echoing through the void.
Once again alone and facing her demon torturer, Hannah spoke evenly, sure of her every word.
“Funny it is that how an eternity in Hell can change everything, and yet nothing at all…”
The flare in her hand illuminated all that remained of the human man who’d become the demon Xaphan after his own millennia of torture.
Refusing to beg, the demon explained, “Oh Hannah, even with all your years, what you still do not yet know about the ways of existence. It never actually ever ends. Once one is over, the next begins and so we experience yet another in a series of painful paths.”
“Well, if that’s the case, commander of lies, it appears it’s now time for your soul to find that new path. As it’s said: ashes to ashes…”
With those words, Hannah dropped the flare onto the pile of Xaphan’s brittle bones. At first they hissed and then burst into blue flame.
The demon let loose his last blasphemous cry. It was a scream that echoed throughout the city of death. As the last vestiges of his humanity burned, Xaphan’s demonic soul began to melt, pieces of it slapping onto the floor at his feet.
Hannah took a few steps backward as flame consumed the human bones, bringing an end to the demon. Fire licked upward, sparking the rafters and spreading through the building. Hannah turned, walking out the doorway and out into the perpetual darkness.
Far off in the distance, from the direction of Pandemonium, she heard the sound of a hundred sets of hooves as the horses thundered through Hell. The Prince’s dark forces were on their way.
Hannah merged into the shadows and walked away unseen by the lost souls who now gathered on the street to watch the death of one of Abbadon’s greatest angels.
Refreshed from her shower of blood, Hannah poured herself another glass of wine. Surveying her handiwork, she watched as Hell burned. The landscape of decay, bathed in the blood of tortured souls, spread as far as she could see until it melted into the eastern horizon.
Somewhere outside, within the city of death, she knew that a Hunter was running for his life. Perhaps he would find a place to hide. Or maybe he would simply return to the familiarity of the killing fields. To Hannah, it didn’t matter either way. She knew that the angels of death would pursue him far beyond the fields and for time without end, sure that it was he who had been responsible for bringing about the destruction of one of the Prince’s own.
Confident with her plan now in motion, Hannah sat and consumed her victory. One glorious day, she would take her rightful place. It would be the day she re-entered the Great Hall of Castle Pandemonium and claimed the throne of Hell after finally defeating Prince Abbadon himself.
This post is dedicated to Hannah Sears, our own Angel of Death and Damnation and winner of the Pen of the Damned anniversary sweepstakes
© Copyright 2013 DaemonwulfTM. All Rights Reserved.
The darkness is still and hot as it hangs in the plains air. On a night that could use the purification of a breeze to rejuvenate what the heat has removed, there is none. Stagnation is everywhere.
It’s almost closing time at the liquor store that sits just outside the reservation’s boundary. No one has been in for the last thirty minutes now, and the greedy purveyor of hootch is hoping to grab at least a few more sales tonight. Surely someone wants cold beer? On a night like this, a cold one feels so good going down the throat, sliding to the stomach and settling comfortably there. The pleasant buzz to the head makes you forget the cares of the day, of the world; so good.
It doesn’t matter to the greedy fucker that the residents of the reservation can’t really afford to buy what’s for sale in the store. Does he care that by spending money here, a father might be depriving his family of food? Nope. The bottom line, the almighty dollar, that’s what matters. Yes. Squeezing every last dollar out of the Red Man, that’s what’s important. It’s not his fault if someone can’t resist the pull of booze. White people can’t resist it either. Money – its green, doesn’t give a shit what color your skin is.
Fourteen people live in the town on the reservation, and one store serves it. The only business here is booze. There’s nothing to eat, no public rest rooms, nothing other than the liquor. Buy it and be on your way.
Zack can’t take it anymore, he needs a beer. Even though his air conditioner is running, it’s still hot as balls in here. According to the law, he’s not supposed to open the hootch inside the store, but who’s going to catch him? This shit hole is the only place for miles. Cops? There hasn’t been one of those around here for weeks.
He grabs a long-neck out of the cooler, pops the top, and steps outside with it hoping for some sort of a breeze. The change in scenery will do him some good too.
“Damn,” he says, once out the door. “It’s still like a furnace out here.”
Something grabs at his attention, but he doesn’t want to go back inside just yet. He can’t get a handle on it; it’s more of a feeling than anything else. Things aren’t right.
No answer. Maybe it’s all in his head.
A rustling in the prairie grass tells him otherwise. Someone is out there; or something.
“State your business! I’m only warning you once!”
The rustling comes closer, becoming much louder. There is no attempt to muffle the sound. Whatever it is is coming at him fast; much faster than it should be.
Zack drops his beer and races towards the store in fear, intent on grabbing the thirty-eight he left under the counter.
A huge roar rips though the night just as he reaches for the handle. He turns and stares into the face of a hideous wolf-like creature with red eyes, and saliva dripping from a mouth filled with ferocious, bared teeth. It stands upright on its rear legs, towering over him, completely covered in long, reddish fur. It reaches its arms toward him with grotesque claws quivering in anticipation of tearing him apart. Moistness envelops Zack’s pants as he confronts this monster, fear pulsing in every molecule of his being, his heart pounding so hard it might explode from the ferocity of its beating.
The creature lifts Zack into the air above its head, the claws digging deep into his body. He hollers out in pain, cry after cry until no more sound comes from his lips. With sudden swiftness, the wolf-beast brings him down to eye-level. While watching the horrified look on Zack’s face, it engulfs the man’s head in its mouth then tears it from his body. Spitting the head out of its mouth onto the ground, it tosses the still-quivering body on top of it and roars again.
The others come running, some firing their weapons at the monster. It does no good. Within minutes, the town of fourteen is now a town of zero.
~ Blaze McRob
© Copyright 2013 Blaze McRob. All Rights Reserved.
It began with one.
But bolt by bolt and rail by rail,
Walls he could not scale.
Leaving was to no avail.
I didn’t mean it as a snare,
At first, it was not a jail.
He had his way, but didn’t care
And now I laugh, I sit and stare.
I watch as he wails and calls
Begging me, “Tear down the walls!”
I will not.
He will pay with dread and deal with pain.
The love I gave him not in vain.
The cage I built, his blood to stain.
He won’t make this mistake again.
Shiny, Pretty Things
Obediently loyal, begging of my affection. Shining vibrantly, fools each one. Seeking my notice among the many. They cling to the side, perfection in every space; none dare lag behind. Repugnant they are.
One does catch my eye, not the brightest, not the flawless; but the least refined. Standing in front, lacking shimmer; displaying the audacity to perch to the left, head skewed slightly off kilter. Perhaps one of these fools is deserving. What use have I of minions made perfect? Give me the challenge; I will break him to my ideal. Yes, this one may be indeed be worthy.
Joseph A. Pinto
I thought you would follow, but the willow reed swallowed me whole
At least that’s the excuse you sold…
I’d been too busy tightening bolts
Preparing for traffic that would never come.
On the opposite end of nothing now
I’ve teetered upon this sharp edge far too long
Waiting for that willow reed to part
A path once cut through it; I suppose now it’s gone
Should my bridge someday be crossed
Unlike that lost, forgotten route
I’ll keep to tightening bolts, even if my hands get torn
The willow reed once led the way, at least
So you’d sworn.
My vision blurs as if mocking the slur that hindered my tongue for the last hour. On the balcony, the cold aluminum railing burns my cheek, but serves to support me while I regain balance.
I’ve drowned out our honeymoon night, but she kept feeding me full glasses.
Agony hits and I collapse.
My new bride ignores me as she packs a suitcase on the bed.
“Help.” I moan. “It hurts!”
She steps out onto the terrace through the open sliding door and squeezes my face in her hands.
“Yeah, poison will do that, Dear. Thanks for the life insurance.”
Each day, when morning breaks, the gates unlock. Blue-eyed boys and blond-haired girls hop, skip and jump, crack silly jokes, kick chequered balls into an empty sky. A bell rings and they rush inside; Tom, Dan, Joe, Little Hunter drink juice, help themselves to biscuits, laughing, throwing punches, wiping crumbs from round their messy mouths.
After lunch the children play inside, read stories (Nina sings), fall fast asleep, and then, in that calm, soporific state begin to change. Skin shivers, splits revealing shells, long insect legs, click-clacking tongues; by night a horrid, hungry hive trapped inside this, their steel penal-nest.
Once Upon A Troll
This was once a peaceful place, the bridge above my home wooden and old. No one used it. Ah, except for the occasional foolish school child taking a short cut home. Tasty little creatures for a troll such as me.
Then they put in the steel girder bridge so the train could run over my home. No Damned peace now!
Tonight is a special run. The train will be filled with people.
The rivets are so easy for my strong fingers to turn and remove. Just perfect.
Falling into the middle of the river, the train will run no more.
All my living fears buried, banished, bolted
contained beneath earth’s seas.
Bound are the monsters was their promise to me.
My logic sneers, “Is the box today’s illusion?”
Placate and pacify where set in stone is a new dependence
and false security they can’t deny.
Their promises fit neatly in those little pill squares.
Now that the voices have gotten louder where do I run?
Their hot breath growing fouler.
Red eyes at morning taunt my blinds.
Does no one heed the warning?
Make room in the canvas sack, seal out the sounds.
Give my reason back!
The Greatest Fraud
I see a world that no longer is, one in which I cannot live. Just as today, and each before, my mind closes another door. But like a movie without an end, the fire takes me back again. Life and death whiz past my head, I hear a thousand screams of dread. I taste the blood upon my tongue, and smell the burning of the young. While blades of green replace hot sands, I watch my life pour through red hands. I now know it was a war of swine that caused me to cross this bridge in pine.
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