Thank you Father, for this bounty you bestow upon me. On small feet they come, hands overflowing with offerings; small sacrifices to appease the almighty. Their pulse begs me to feed; youthful flesh so tender, muscles plump with nourishing fluids. When a youngling does not return, they believe the little one has been blessed, granted the highest honor; they are among the chosen. Chosen indeed, to fill my gullet and offer more than their tiny hands could ever bear. Occasionally a mother weeps; she too may find comfort in my arms – all she need do is step through the archway.
It wasn’t as I’d imagined, not at all. Neither as grand nor as dark.
It wasn’t preceded by a moat full of lava, the dead screaming in their
endless burn. It wasn’t surrounded by the stench of sulfur or
brimstone. No winged creatures or half-man, half-goats to be seen.
Actually, with surrounding trees in an otherwise healthy forest, and
the fact that it led to nothing on either side, the gateway to Hell
was unimpressive. Hell itself is remarkably like the world you call
home. So alike, you might call them the same… and we have all passed
through that gate.
The Ruin of Man
The gates fell long ago… as did man. We stood firm, but quickly died at the hands of incomprehensible horrors—creatures only myth and the bleakest of nightmares could fathom. They came for our souls. Conjured by our hate, drawn to fear, they grew stronger, feeding on the energy of human emotion. Weaponry, science, religion—nothing could save us. Mankind was eviscerated and devoured by the demons of our own making. In the end, we few survived purely on utter indifference and voided faith. They still prowl the shadows, waiting, knowing that hate will one day call to them again.
Joseph A Pinto
In this darkness I have longed, yet only now do you approach beneath my canopy of sentinels. Wordless, though I have screamed centuries for you. Guileless, though now indeed you have been warned.
I shall devour your pretenses; leave shorn your bravado. I am your beast, and under granite columns shall you be reborn. You cannot flee, because I have been yours all along. Your heart pumping with my blood.
Embrace me, then. Succumb to my wild. From this moment on know that I shall be your shadow in the woods. This timbered palace holds a refuge, yours and mine.
The Lost Message
I felt wrung dry, brittle
I often escaped into this “other world” to escape the city’s emptiness
golden light diffused off the centuries old monuments – it inspired
Today an unnatural sickly smell pervaded the air
I felt “it” – absence
curiosity moved me closer, closer
“Civilization Will Fail” was back lit though there was no light source
Why these words from a long forgotten statesman’s speech?
Sadly, I comprehended history’s warning
What civilization devoid of beauty can thrive?
The weeping was for all of us
We lived in a growing life sucking void
Ghoul’s Last Laugh
A monument to greatness, an impressive structure, but immortality is not captured within the facade of stone. The Dark rolls in and shadows flit about in an array of visual ramification. The overgrown ivy tower stretches upwards towards the place he wished to go. Too bad the trees climb higher than he ever did. For ‘ere the monument set atop his resting place, I came and consumed his body, purifying it by disposing of the filth incarnate residing within. But I couldn’t eat his soul. The Dark Lord accepted it into His realm.
I’m a Ghoul. I always laugh last.
THE OTHER PLACE
For a long time – he is not quite sure how long – he stands in silence on the threshold. The entrance is still; a void of blackness extending far into the trees. So dark is the forest that he finds it hard to tell where the stone ends and the entrance begins. He doesn’t suppose it matters. They are one and the same; the forest and the other place beyond. A man could go mad living on these hills. A man could lose his mind for want of company, for the sound of a voice that is not his own.
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.
The black penumbra grows
rising, rising, rising
greying forms its shadow
pages turn unclear
misled me from the light
penetrating screams are near
begs a blood curdling plea
from where I do not know
“before I’m bound, free me”
Pensive were my thoughts
trudging, trudging, trudging
to the mire my shoes brought
it’s written “I was here”
the scribe of evil’s night
rending through night’s fear
I am searching for her life
was she calling out my doom?
innocent, I am now in doubt
blood merged before this moon
Pensive are the times
extra, extra, extra
read me between the lines
misled by moon’s eclipse
body slumps, I cannot stand
listless I wait for someone
her pendant in vacant hand
I’m judged and by dawn hung
seemingly torn and cursed
the last chimes have been rung
Pendulum cold doth sway
left ,right ,right, left
endless sound so fey
will it never stop
no end to futile strife
tickings mark life’s blot
pending seconds of my life
swing to rope’s end
a hanging part of speech
death’s letter’s do portend
Penitent begs to live
“father, father, father
my transgressions please forgive”
echoes in my pent up mind
reams cast a shudder
save this memory and bind
“unjust” will this history suffer
last thing that I heard
a gasp , then
steel sharp against the word
Pen away my life
scribble, scribble, scribble
black against parched white
penult is lead etched
no sensible jot or tiddle
telling of penury’s wretch
timeless life once seemed
inking just a fool’s dream
hark, someone else’s screams
~ Leslie Moon
© Copyright 2013 Leslie Moon. All Rights Reserved.
‘Your Winnie,’ she mutters, pressing harder with the face wipe. ‘Your dragon, your beautiful dragon girl…’
Sitting before the mirror at her dressing table, she doesn’t recognise the woman staring back at her. There is familiarity in the face, as there is familiarity to be found in anything if a person is subjected to it often enough, but that is all. Still, she keeps looking. She must look, every night, before Seth turns in for bed, desperately studying the features that emerge from beneath her makeup. The ritual of recognition is on-going.
The bedroom is dark, save for the light from the first-floor landing, which spills through the open doorway. It is easier when the bedroom is dark, as though that makes it all right; as though it is acceptable that she cannot properly see herself when she can barely see anything else. Canned laughter carries through the house, and the sound of audience applause, as Seth’s own evening ritual comes to its close. Soon he will ascend through the house, as if chasing the vestigial laughs, the sound of company, until they lead him into the bedroom and are silent.
The evening had begun like any other. Dinner was ready for when Seth returned home from work. She had cooked lamb, rubbed with rosemary and a selection of other herbs. She ate silently while he told her about his day. She nodded when encouraged, smiled when he smiled, laughed at his jokes.
He told her the lamb was nice, that his ‘dragon’s done herself proud with this one.’ They drank wine; his white, hers red. He said the white went with the vegetables. Her palate favoured the red; rich, velveteen flavours in her mouth, against her tongue. She agreed with him regardless.
Seth loves it when she agrees with him. He says it shows their unity, that they are two made into one. ‘In sickness and in health. Till death do we part. My Winnie, my fierce, beautiful dragon girl.’
She turns her attention to her lips next. Pulling a clean tissue free from the box to her right, she dabs it to her mouth, as though kissing it gently good night. Her lips have not kissed anything gently for a long time now. Seth does not like his love gentle, and on the occasions he does press his mouth against hers, it cannot be called a kiss. Once, before all this, he might have kissed her in the proper sense. There had been tenderness then; enough to tempt her from her family home into his arms.
She presses harder, then begins rubbing, until all of the lipstick is gone. Underneath, her lips are thin, and slightly raw. The tissue comes away red and streaky in her hand.
When they had both finished eating dinner, the dragon washed up while her white knight took the wine into the front room. Heat seared her hands as they dipped in and out of the sink. Drowsy with wine and the silky, sudsy water on her skin, she thought things that she had not dared to think before. ‘What ifs’ uncoiled themselves in her mind; fiery thoughts roused and riled.
Staring into her bright, shining eyes in the dressing table mirror, she remembers every slight, every wound, every wicked word intended to belittle her. This is not love, she thinks. She dares to think it again, giving voice to the doubts that have for a long time now been hatching in her head. This is not love. It was never love. She is no better off than when she left home; lost and lonely and unloved by a world that does not know the meaning of the word.
She remembers the feel of his hand against her face, the sound it makes; a ringing slap that sinks beneath the skin and seems to burn. His dragon, scorched!
She thinks of all these things, as she had thought of them at the kitchen sink, her eyes fixed firmly on the wedding ring by the taps. Her hands had moved automatically through the water, her mind caught up in a twister of realisation. So much pain, she thought, so much upset for so little; a small piece of jewellery and their names on a certificate. God, she was sure, played no part in this; an ancient force dead to the modern world. But there were yet more ancient forces, not dead but sleeping, and they stirred now, suffused with heat and hunger –
Tears cling to her long, black lashes, before breaking free and running down her face. Most of her make-up is removed now but she does not stop wiping. She covers all her face from her forehead to her neck, and with every wipe she feels more familiar, less false to her own eyes. And what eyes, she thinks, reaching to rip off her fake lashes. The lids come too, peeled clean above her sockets, revealing mad, majestic orbs underneath.
Silence falls suddenly over the house. As her opened eyes regard themselves in the mirror, she hears Seth at the bottom of the stairs. He comes perhaps to slay her with his lance, to penetrate the folds of her flesh, to pierce her in her most vulnerable place until she is stilled beneath him, and he spent.
She wipes harder, with less care, and it seems to her that every movement sloughs skin from her face. Her flesh smears like concealer, revealing new skin underneath. The tissues tire quickly, turning red and rancid in her hand. Their remains litter the dressing table, and in the mirror, her new face; sharp and scaled. His dragon girl, a woman!
He reaches the top of the stairs, and she senses him on the landing. Then she sees him in the mirror, a silhouette in the doorway. His body blocks the light.
‘You’re cold again.’
‘I’m fine,’ she says, still staring in the mirror.
‘Come off it, I can see you shivering from here.’ Seth moves into the bedroom, his silhouette reappearing by the window. The cross-framed sheet of glass stands open; the bedroom exposed to the black sky, the silver stars swallowed by that blackness so that they barely seem to shine at all. ‘What have I said about leaving this open at night?’
He is still talking but she does not hear. Time seems to stop as she considers him; not Seth but a silhouette, featureless and without meaning. He is nothing. It is nothing. She feels herself shaking as she considers what she has given to him. Every smack scalds her skin, embarrassment sears her cheeks, abuse burning between her thighs until she can barely contain the heat inside her. Her mouth stretches into a silent scream, jaws wide, like the dragons of old. Lipstick and lashes, for lamb!
‘– to make an effort. You know I love you, Winnie? Your knight in shining –’
She rushes at him through the darkness. They stumble into the en-suite, half in and out of the bedroom. His head hits the smooth white of the wash basin and he lies still beneath her. Heat spills from her mouth in hurried words.
‘Lamb,’ she breathes hotly, ‘lipstick and lashes, for lamb!’
His eyes flutter, head lolling on the linoleum, and she wonders if he can see her, if he recognises that she has changed now. Her breath rattles in her throat; a beautiful, crocodilian croak, which seems to say I am a woman and you have wronged me. Then her mouth closes around his face, jaw loose, like that of a great snake. Her teeth sink into his skin and he burns beneath her, this modern knight, this meat, this man.
~ Thomas Brown
© Copyright 2013 Thomas Brown. All Rights Reserved.
THIS ISN’T FOR YOU
This isn’t for you
Everything and anything that’s ever come before.
Cause you haven’t been worth my breath
You haven’t been worth my time
You haven’t been worth the wait
For this pen’s ink to dry.
So to you
And to you alone
This isn’t for you
Everything and anything I’ve ever drank before.
Cause you haven’t been worth my buzz
You haven’t been worth the sickness
Or this need to die.
So to you
And to you alone
This is nothing.
CAMP OF REALIZATION
Though I can’t see you
Even as you bleed
Leaving a dripping trail
Over the blankets of comfort I draw for you
As my words remain the coldest reminder of all
That liars reach conclusions
And truth tellers grasp at straws
Soon this sun will set
The wind will howl
Cross the land mother moon
Exposes for all.
HOUSE OF CARDS
Sitting beside me
Straining with weary eyes
To see the devil’s script in his palm.
Sitting next to me
Loving with open eyes
The man shut from her heart.
Sitting across from me
Reveling in dreamy talk
Strengthening a foundation of denial.
Fueling the fire
Let it burn.
THURSDAY NIGHT AT THE PUB
I see everything
Nuance, twitch, inflection
Nothing goes unnoticed
Yet nothing judged
Why should I?
I sit merely to observe
Watch, study, comprehend
I know everything
Life, loss, lover
Your entire world now mine
Yet I’m unknown
Why am I?
I’m merely here Thursday nights.
You see nothing
Pain, want, need
So much goes unnoticed
And you don’t hear
How can you?
Above the jukebox and pleas for double scotch.
HERO JUST BECAUSE
You’re not the hero of the day
You don’t even own a cape
Keep running into empty buildings
Keep saving dreams once they’ve broken
It’s easier that way for you
To collect that cash reward
From those even more oblivious
You’re only faster than a speeding bullet
Cause you take the coward’s way of things
You’re a fraud, a fraud
The hollow need something to believe in
The scared need reasons to run away
The children need a role model
Fashioned from something other than a rental suit.
YOU DON’T GET TO DO THIS
You don’t get to do this
You don’t get to steal my pain
And use it like a kerchief round your neck.
Only I know how dear it is
Only I know of its warm invite
Before its cold deep bite into my flesh.
But you see it and wish to take it,
Drag it back into its cage.
It won’t happen
I won’t allow it
You don’t get to do this
For if my pain you steal from me
Is something you truly want
Then know how dear my smile will be
With my fingers entwined round your neck.
I see you often
walking your puppy
as you jerk its choker
until its tongue protrudes in a pink slather
until its eyes roll in its head.
I see you often
leading your puppy
as you drag it through mud
through thorny brush
kicking it from behind.
I see you often
petting your puppy
as you slap its face
dig fingers into its ribs.
Funny how time flies.
I see your dog often
running on its own now
its leash untethered
burying its bone deep into your neighbor’s hole
pissing and shitting on your car
THREE SIMPLE WORDS
Three simple words
Three simple words
shared without provocation
born in deeper shallows of grey
My gift yours
this bitter pill
forced to consume
shared without invocation
born in deeper pools of black
Swallow, choke, die.
UNDER THE GUN
Such a crafted hand
splays skin until bloody ribbons
speak my story so precisely
and just as I wish to scream no more
my tale starts anew
another chapter split open
He lived to see another day
That poor prick’s heart still beating within his chest
He’d stolen it
With dull blade
And a shaking disloyal hand
Devoured it; consumed joyously all his own.
The last remnants
Not the crimson dripping from chin
As some would have you believe
But the jackhammer thud of taken essence
Screaming bloody murder between his lungs.
The drink you pour will be my last
For I’m beyond saving
Yet still a good tip in your pocket
If you keep me alive.
That brew will send me to the gutter
That brandy will keep me in the streets
This booze will deliver me to the gates
I thought I could never find.
You seem to be my Maker
At least on this night
Because you’ll right all my wrongs
And make my wrongs worse than what they were
May I have another?
He’s barely cooled
And you’ve got him packed
His entire existence fit neatly
Into department store bags
The likes of which
He’d never been welcome inside before
His gentle presence shoved
With careful consideration, mind you
Of how one end might interlock with the other.
Heartless cruel bitch
You wiped him clean
From your blackened slate of memory
Of chalky goodbyes
No thought given
To any thread of lingering
For you’ve cut the strand and made it to burn.
The final indignation
Does not resonate with the fact
That you’ve left him no chance to cool
But the absurd notion
That I’ll grant him
His final ride
In a procession of stale boxes.
He lives on otherwise in my grassy field meadows
Not your yellowed department store bags.
I am rattlesnake
I am earthquake
I am lightning rod
I am heart attack
I am cool hand
I am cold heart
I am motherfucker
I am father love
I am old dog
I am sly fox
I am lone wolf
I am broken man
I am deep sea
I am shallow thought
I am long kiss
I am almighty fuck
I am bright sun
I am evil dark
I am black sheep
I am wise one
~ Joseph A. Pinto
© Copyright 2013 Joseph A. Pinto. All Rights Reserved.
With a steely-eyed gaze, she watches those far below performing their meaningless and menial tasks. Her clawed feet grip the head of the gargoyle she squats upon as the wind tunnels down the avenue. Her wings flutter slightly; she tries to hold them closed yet they begin to unfurl nonetheless. This one has no control. She caresses the stone creature she clings to. I see longing in her expression for the days when their corporeal brothers took flight with the likes of our kind.
Tasked with watching her movements, yet instructed not to intervene, I take a perverse pleasure knowing that she hunts so near the house of their current prevailing god. Glancing over, I survey the cathedral of this Saint Patrick. It’s a magnificent structure, shame it serves no purpose other than to collect lost, frightened sheep. This urban sprawl is no different from any other these humans have littered the ground with – houses of false worship, dens of inadequacy, squalor in the name of ownership. They do love their tenement housing and the riches it brings them to take advantage of the less fortunate. Even the well-to-do who buy into their own lie of opulence live like rats in a sinking cage. Some are enlightened and grateful for what is shared with them, but most – they display undignified arrogance, believing they’ve the right to divide the land among themselves.
Visually sorting the wriggling maggots below, she spots one that holds her eye longer than the rest. She scents the human while I watch her. Then I look down and immediately know what she is taken with. No, please no.
My gaze slowly rises to watch her once again; she is patting her stone companion on the head, scoring it with her talon and a smear of blood so others of our kind will know it belongs to her. Task complete, she sets off in steady yet slow pursuit of her prey.
The girl on the ground is not going far – I know exactly where she is going. A short taxi ride takes her to her chic-to-be-common Tribecca residence guarded by an ass in a ridiculous hat. Settling in a stone archway a short distance away, I wait for what will happen next, though in truth, I already know.
The girl enters her building. Minutes later, the entire top floor illuminates. I picture it in my mind’s eye: she removes her coat, hanging it on a hook as she pulls the clip from her hair, allowing her mane to fall freely about her shoulders. She kicks off her stilettos, sliding them to the side with a delicate bare foot. She drops her mail on the sideboard as she begins her evening ritual. Why was she on Madison Avenue today?
I watch as sly satisfaction crawls over the Other’s features. I’m sure she’s wondering if the advantage of enjoying the finer things in life will make the girl taste sweeter – I would wonder myself. Meanwhile, I nestle deeper into the cloaking mask of twilight as the shimmering refection of the Hudson glimmers in my eyes.
Night has fallen, her prey has settled comfortably in for the evening, or so the poor girl thinks. I feel regret, but like all other things, this too shall pass… Dropping to the ground, the Other opts to visit the door-monkey, an unnecessary cruelty. He rushes to grant her egress. Most of our kind hide their true nature from these humans. She prefers to flaunt it… let them see her shimmering wings, her clawed feet, her taloned hands; let them see all she has to offer – haughty bitch! Her hold over him masks his fear until she decides to let him feel it; I am guilty of wearing the same mask, but not for the same reason. As she walks past the door-monkey, I watch while she mockingly thanks him for opening the door. He bows in supplication; her left arm strikes out, crushing his head against the marbled wall of the foyer. Kneeling beside him, she removes the ring of keys attached to his belt and shakes the ichor from her hand at the same time.
She ascends the stairs, walks across the well-appointed lobby and calls for the elevator. It arrives and as she has guessed, the Penthouse unit requires key access for the lift. She inserts the key into the slot, smears a finger across the button labeled ‘P’, and the doors close behind her. I can see no more from where I am. I move to the building’s ledge, finding better vantage to watch what is to unfold.
The elevator doors open onto a comfortable yet highly privileged loft. The thought that the girl living here knows of her arrival must have crossed her mind by now, but to one like her who enjoys terror as much as flesh, the squealing pork is that much sweeter. My heart rises to choke me.
She begins to walk through the apartment; I see confusion on her face. There are antiques of great value here; stone carvings hang upon the walls that are far too reminiscent of our kind’s past. She runs a finger across a 17th century credenza in exquisite condition, a Celtic dragon carving hanging above it. She glances at my latest gift, a Victorian fainting chaise poised below the windows opposite the entry. Most Manhattanites, wealthy or not, don’t posses such things. Her interest is piqued… and the hostess in residence has still not come out to play. I swallow the sickening feeling in my gut.
The Other sniffs the air; I know what she smells. The scent of warm honey and jasmine coming from the left – it often greets me. She heads in that direction.
Following along pace by pace on the outer ledge of the building, I reach the room the scent is emanating from the same time she does. She slowly pushes the door open as I peer through the window. What I see confounds me for a moment. The girl, my girl, my pet, is lying placidly in a tub of warm water, steam rising from it, hair pinned atop her head, with a cloth resting across her eyes. I simply stare. She must know by now it isn’t me, why hasn’t she run?
My lovely pet begins to speak, the movement of her lips the only thing disturbing this twisted diorama.
“She won’t like that you’ve come here. You should leave.” Even through the glass wall of the window and the vying sounds of the street below, I hear her taunting the Other. My eyes sting in the biting wind. Goodbye my beautiful pet.
Shock freezes the Other in place for a moment, indecision caused by the unexpected brazen nature of the creature resting in the water. Then realization dawns upon her; this human is already kept by another. As if sensing this comprehension, my pet lifts her arm from the water to display a small black feather inked on the inside of her left wrist. It is the mark I make upon my own.
Moving her hand to the edge of the cloth, my pet lifts it slowly from one eye; I see my own arrogance radiating from her gorgeous emerald lens. Lowering the cloth once more, her arm sinks back into the water, she waits. I am to blame for this.
The Other loses what little control she has maintained up to this point. She dives at my pet, ripping her throat open with snapping teeth. I watch as she tears apart tender flesh with raking talons and scratching claws. Honey and jasmine scented water splashes the room as my own vision tinges red. Within, I silently howl my rage. Throughout the encounter, my pet does not struggle… not once. She dies with dignity.
I slowly withdraw from the glass as the Other withdraws from the bathroom; she backs down the hallway. Sensing she is being watched, her head whips toward the bank of windows set into the exterior wall, her eyes narrow, nervously searching. There, in the darkness, I crouch. Waiting…
~ Nina D’Arcangela
© Copyright 2013 Nina D’Arcangela. All Rights Reserved.