I’d seen it before – glimpsed it from the corner of my eye as I walked past the open doorway – but never had it revealed itself to me so openly. Today, as I glanced back into the guest room certain that I would see nothing, there it was, looming before me. It stared back, eyes the color of onyx, seething with anger and intent. Its clawed hands clenched into fists, its interlocking teeth bared in a snarl, its lips quivered with menace, and its chest heaved with hostility and rage. Foulest of all was the opalescent skin, skin that dripped putrescent globules of mucus onto the wooden floor. It conveyed a hatred beyond belief.
Frozen in the moment, I stood stock-still. The crash of the laundry basket hitting the floor yanked me back to the here-and-now. I turned in a vain attempt to escape but the thing spit and leapt into the air. I tried to scream; a near silent whimper was all I could manage. Just as I made my way through my own bedroom door, its full weight landed upon my back. It tore at my hair, ripped apart my clothes, and shredded my flesh as it dug into my left shoulder blade to pull the scapula free of the muscle and sinew holding it in place. I fell to the floor taking it with me.
Having found my voice, I screamed at full volume with every ounce of breath I could manage. It screeched in return, and tore at my face, rending my lip in two, and slashed bits of flesh from my cheeks. All the while, I dragged my body forward, desperately trying to escape. Then it bit into the base of my skull – the sensation of its teeth sinking in seared through my brain and halted my forward motion. I lay there waiting to die; it sat upon me, savoring my anguish.
Then another sound reached my ears; a venomous hiss. In a single fluid motion, the thing retracted its teeth, whipped around, saw the cat hiding under the bed, and used its clawed feet to leap into the air; further gouging my back as it fled. I lay there terrified to move; terrified not to try. It was no use, my body would not respond. The cat crawled out from under the bed, sniffed me and mewled deep in his chest as if asking forgiveness before he ran off, abandoning me to my fate.
I lay there alone, unable to move, panting for breath.
From somewhere in the room, the sound of a glob hitting the floor echoed off the wood.
~ Nina D’Arcangela
© Copyright Nina D’Arcangela. All Rights Reserved.
It doesn’t matter how long he stands before the window staring down at the streets below. They always show the filth and decadence this city is noted for. This is a place of evil, yet no different from any other city on this disgusting, spinning rock. Humanity exists, if one wishes to call this totality of debauchery by such a term, at a base level. No more; no less.
Selchor twirls his cane on the carpet under his feet, moving it back and forth between both hands. “Guess I should stop my pessimism from destroying my hope for those who do manage to overcome the odds,” he thinks. “After all, I had enough expectations for some people that I chose to return and give a little help to those needing it.
“Of course, there are the others.”
A smile crosses his lips now. Why should he lighten up over what is to happen? He doesn’t even know where his travels will take him tonight. He never knows. The evil acts as a conduit, drawing him to it – not for glory, but to achieve his mission. “Search and destroy. That’s me. I feel like a comic book hero.”
The sun drops down over the city, the deep tunnels carved between the high buildings sucking the light away, much as those prone to wielding their hatred take the light away from the good. Selchor likes the Darkness. His many lifetimes have given him visual acuity that mortals can only long for. Nothing escapes him. All his senses are on high alert. The stench, the sounds, and tastes, join in, as does the evil pulling at his soul, the touch telling him what must be done.
He chooses to walk down the stairwell, rather than use the elevator. Six floors are mere child’s play for him. Many times in the past he has had to handle situations on the stairs that needed to be addressed, as only he could do it. No place in this city is safe. Not even the stairs of his own building.
The tell-tale tapping of his cane along the sidewalks makes some in his path go down side streets in quick retreat. Though Selchor has not lived here for long, he has become a legend of sorts. He is more effective than the old cop on the beat, the guy who knew everyone and who people felt safe around. Nowadays, safety and trust are arbitrary. There are no absolutes.
Valentine’s Day is a day set aside for love, but it’s not being felt in one multi-dwelling brownstone close to the financial center. The conduit tells the truth to Selchor. He knows something is wrong. Big business and politics have joined forces again. Even from this distance, the cries reach him: particularly those of the children.
A wrecking ball already sits off to the side of the building when Selchor arrives. These bastards are in a hurry. A few police cars are there, and the cops are talking to several residents, telling them that they have to go.
“But we never received any notification that we had to leave,” a distressed women tells one of them.
“That’s not what I’ve been told,” a police sergeant hollers back. “Everyone was notified in writing a few months ago, and I have a signed go ahead order to vacate from Judge Patterson.”
“Judge Patterson is an on-the-take, bottom-feeding piece of shit,” Selchor says, as he sits down on the stoop of the dwelling.
The sergeant stares at him, taken aback for a moment. “We don’t need you interfering. Go on, get the hell out of here.”
“I’ll go wherever I wish. This is a free country.”
“I’m in charge. You’ll do as I say.”
Selchor laughs. “Good luck with that. It’s been tried before, with bad results.”
“Is that a threat?”
“Take it however you please.”
The sergeant charges Selchor, only to find he has moved by the time he gets to where he was. The thorn in the cop’s ass is now sitting on the other side of the stoop. “I told you,” Selchor says.
Fuming, the cop charges him once more, but Selchor trips him with his cane, and he gets a mouth full of debris for his efforts. While still on the ground, he unholsters his weapon, cocks the trigger, and fires a round. It misses its target and strikes the woman who was pleading her case just moments before, hitting her in the chest. Selchor rushes to her and catches her before she falls to the concrete.
Her husband rushes to her side and Selchor hands her to him. “Keep your hand over the wound to stop the blood from pouring out.
“You,” he shouts to another tenant, “call 911 and get an ambulance here.
“Everyone else get inside and stay down.”
“You’re not in charge!” the sergeant shouts. “We’ll handle this.”
“I think not. Look what you’ve done already. I want to make certain this woman gets to the hospital. You can’t be trusted.”
A stand-off ensues until the ambulance arrives and takes her away. His revolver still drawn, the sergeant will not back-down. There are no longer any witnesses, they’re all inside. For the moment, that is.
“We’ll deal with you now,” the sergeant says.
“You won’t get any farther than you did before. Besides, the people inside will know what happened even if you are successful. Do you plan to get rid of them, too?”
Silence. The answer evident on the cop’s face.
“That’s what I thought.”
Selchor hits the button on the top of his cane and a twelve inch knife flies out the bottom. The cops stare at him in disbelief, but what’s one knife against six cops with six revolvers? Nothing. Bullets begin to fly everywhere, but none hit their target. The sergeant is the first one to feel the cold steel as Selchor neatly cuts his heart out and hands it to him as the life drains from his body. One by one, the others receive the same fate as their leader. Six dead bodies lie on the ground, blood pouring from their carcasses into the storm drains.
Spirits rise from the bodies and stare at what was once their physicality, now merely pieces sliced and diced pulp.
“I warned you guys, but you wouldn’t listen to me,” Selchor says. “It is now time for you to decide your fates. Do you go to Heaven or to Hell? The choice is yours. Decide well.”
They stare at Selchor and then each other. The answer has to be obvious enough. Or is it? The longer they think, the more of the evil they have committed over the course of their lives attacks their souls and they are torn with despair. One by one, they are taken to Hell, one of their own making. Not a one goes to Heaven. There is none for them.
Selchor surveys the scene and watches as his cleanup crew arrives to spiff the area up. Musn’t leave a mess. He looks at the court order from the judge. It appears a high-rise is supposed to be built on this site, one for the big shots working in the financial district are to live.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if the sidewalks were to have been paved with gold.” Selchor’s voice oozes with disdain and sarcasm.
It’s time to pay a visit to Judge Patterson . . .
~ Blaze McRob
© Copyright 2016 Blaze McRob. All Rights Reserved
The knocking on the front door was heavy and relentless, like the pounding in Jim Argyle’s head. His mouth was dry with lips on the verge of cracking as he pushed himself off the floor. Jim rubbed his forehead trying to remember how he ended up on the kitchen floor in the first place.
“Come on, Jim, open up!” a voice yelled from the front door.
His tongue itched.
He noticed the small kitchen table and two chairs were overturned. Dishes were strewn, some broken, throughout the room and the fridge was wide open with its contents spilled out across the floor. The back door was slightly ajar.
What the fuck happened?
The front doorknob rattled as the pounding continued.
“Are you in there, Jim? Open the door!”
Jim stood up and staggered towards the front entrance smacking his lips, trying to moisten them. He fumbled with the latch until it unlocked and the door pulled open.
Tom Chesterfield was standing on the front porch, and his jaw dropped slightly when he saw Jim.
“Jesus,” Tom said. “What happened to you? Are you okay?”
The last thing Jim wanted to do was to try and give his brother-in-law an explanation.
“Yeah… just a little hung over.”
“A little hung over? I’ve been trying to get a hold of you for three days. Every time I called, you didn’t answer.”
Jim glanced over to where his phone sat, wondering why he wouldn’t have answered, then turned back to Tom. “I’m alright.”
“I told you.” His tongue still itched.
“No, that’s bullshit. The last time we talked you claimed that something happened in your backyard.”
Jim frowned, trying to recollect the events of the last three days.
Tom placed a hand on his shoulder. “Don’t you remember?”
Jim shrugged but offered no further explanation, wishing his sister’s husband would leave him alone. Tom looked over Jim’s shoulder into the house, saw the overturned furniture then walked past him.
Reluctantly, Jim followed.
Squatting down, Tom picked up a milk carton and placed it back in the fridge. He glanced at the furniture, the broken dishes, then looked at Jim who lowered his head and let his shoulders sag.
“I don’t remember a thing about the last three days. The last thing I vaguely recall doing was talking to you on the phone.”
The itch on his tongue grew worse.
“So why’d you try to pass it off as being hung over?”
“It feels like a hangover. My head is aching like a son of a bitch and I’m parched. Toss in the memory loss and it sounds like one.” Jim bent down and flipped the table back onto its feet. “I do appreciate you looking in on me, though.”
Tom offered a slight smile but when he looked out the small kitchen window into the backyard, it disappeared from his face.
“What happened to your lawn?” Tom asked leaning forward for a better look.
Jim’s tongue began to twitch, making speaking difficult. “I do appreciate this, Tom, but as you can see I’m fine. You can leave now.”
“There’s a large patch of lawn torn up or something.”
Wishing Tom would go away, Jim began rocking on his feet as his tongue flapped uncontrollably inside his mouth.
“What happened out there?”
Tom slipped through the open backdoor.
As Jim stood alone in the kitchen, a ripple of calm washed through his body and his tongue stopped moving. He rubbed the back of his head, near the base of his skull then followed his brother-in-law outside, no longer feeling in control of his own body.
Tom was standing a few feet away from the house looking down at a large hole that had opened up in the ground.
“Do you think it could be an old mine shaft that they failed to fill in properly?”
Jim replied with words and a voice that were not his own. “No, Tom, that’s not what it is.” His recollection of the previous three days now clear in his mind. “The ground caved in with a slight shudder the other day while we were speaking on the phone.”
Tom pulled his eyes from the sinkhole and gave Jim a wary look. “I thought you didn’t remember?”
Jim continued almost mechanically, “There’s a colony of small, parasitic creatures living down there that have been around for a long time. For decades they remain below until it’s time to reproduce. That’s when they venture up to the surface to find hosts. One of them made its way up through the sinkhole, entering the house as I was getting ready to go out.” He could see vivid images of the worm-like shape wriggling quickly across the kitchen floor and up the front of his body, going for his mouth. “I struggled with it to no avail.”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
With a quick swipe of his hand, Jim gripped the back of Tom’s head and brought it to his, locking lips. Within seconds, Jim’s tongue secreted a toxin that relaxed Tom’s jaw, keeping his mouth open. Jim began to heave, his mouth pressed against Tom’s until he regurgitated a thin eyeless worm with small hooks on the end of its tail. Using his own tongue, he guided it until it was in Tom’s mouth where it quickly found its way into the back of the other man’s throat.
When the deed was done, Jim pulled his tongue out and released his grip. Tom slumped to the ground gagging.
“What… did… you…?” Tom gasped.
“It’s how they breed,” Jim said. “It’ll grow quickly and take control of your body. Within three days it will have reached adult size and will then lay its eggs. Once they hatch, the young will feed on you, gaining what nourishment they need. At maturation, they will exit your body and travel to their underground home while I serve as the carrier to find more hosts.”
Tom struggled to speak but quickly fell unconscious.
“It’s not so bad,” Jim said. “They allow us to carry on with our lives as long as we don’t put them at risk. If we do something they don’t want us to do, they simply take control and don’t allow it.”
As if to reinforce his words, a tear formed, but before it could trickle down his cheek, it was absorbed back into his eye.
~ Jon Olson
© Copyright 2016 Jon Olson. All Rights Reserved
The front gates of your fortress are tall, ornate and heavily guarded, much like I imagine the gates of Heaven to be. I easily make it through security when they realize who I am. Your protégé has returned at last. I walk slowly up the long winding road admiring the impeccable and wonderful gardens that surround your mansion.
On the marble steps of the entrance I stand like a crucified god, both arms outstretched as your bodyguards search me, and I smile at the irony. I step into the great hall where a devotee bows to me then requests that I remove my shoes. I am given a white robe and led into a change room. I have not worn the robe for so long that I feel and look like another person. I glance at my reflection for a long time, the memories swell and churn. I lived many years in your ashram. I let the memories come and go. I feel nothing.
When I emerge from the change room the devotee bows to me again.
“The Guru is expecting you. He is most pleased that you have come,” purrs the man with a polite smile. He gestures, inviting me to proceed.
I walk deeper into the large entrance hall, marveling at the decadence. The floor is fine, white granite. It is cold and smooth under my feet. A beautiful fountain is in the centre of the hall. Its crystal clear water fills the air with a fine, refreshing mist. Light streams in from the domed glass ceiling. A huge winding staircase of glistening mahogany stands ahead. The staircase is laid with plush red carpet. The carpet seems to melt beneath my feet; warm and soft, a striking contrast to the granite floor. With careful slow steps I begin the ascent.
I walk the pristine white halls, passing the silent sentinels who stare ahead although they observe me carefully. Within large rooms the elite of your followers are seated softly chanting your mantra. Fresh bouquets of extravagant blooms line the walls. The altars are large and overflowing with more flowers, adorning huge portraits of you. Streaming brass bowls thicken the air with the intoxicating scent of sandalwood. I keep climbing, to the very pinnacle of your mansion, to a small room lined with windows that offer exhilarating views of the coast.
I stand before the white raw silk curtains that line the doorway, the veil between you and I. In this room you live, rarely leaving; you no longer travel to teach anymore. From the peak of your ivory tower you look down at the world you have left behind. In this room you receive the most select and gifted of your followers. Very few are granted entrance. I sat in this room with you often, the two of us on orange cushions gazing down at the ocean.
The silk brushes my face as I pass through; there is no turning back. I have not returned to embrace you my beloved Guru, I have come to say goodbye. You were a kind and generous Guru, you gave me everything. Except the key. Except what I wanted.
I find you as I remember you, seated on your cushion, gazing out of the window, as if you have not moved in all these years. The sharp morning light that pours in is overpowering, it seems as if we are standing amongst clouds.
I wait silently. After a few moments you finally rise and turn to me. Your skin glistens like polished bronze, your eyes are orbs of bottomless black. You are an enigma, oozing mystique. I approach you and our eyes meet. A sensation sweeps over me, is it love? It is nothing but a distraction; I will not be deterred. I know I must act instantly. With a swift and powerful motion I plunge my fist deep into your belly. You do not struggle, you do not make a sound. You hold my gaze, expressionless, but deep down I can see the surprise, the shock. Your protégé has surpassed you in skill. The pain must be excruciating as I push my hand in deeper; you drool from the mouth, tears seep from your eyes. I withdraw and blood gushes from the wound. You drop to your knees and I follow, diving my hand in deeper again. I need it while you are still alive. You begin to convulse as I scoop out your intestines. I can feel it with the very tip of my fingers, smooth and hard, deep within you. A small curved thing, the most sacred of bones. The seat of the soul, the seat of power, the sacrum. I have come to collect yours, my Guru.
~ Magenta Nero
© Copyright 2016 Magenta Nero. All Rights Reserved.