“I hate clowns,” Roy said flatly. Each year, he shelved his irrational fear of those fuckers right up until the end of September. Then, all the clown related stupidity resurfaced and he was forced to stare down his terror.
“C’mon, who hates clowns? You didn’t seem to mind the clown outfit I wore last weekend, as I recall,” Beth said, batting her eyelashes.
“That was a clown?” Roy asked incredulously. He’d thought she was dressed like a character from the super hero movie they’d gone to see a few weeks ago.
She slapped him jokingly and pinched his nipple while she smiled that teasing smile he loved so much. Roy grinned back, though his nipple stung like a bitch.
“Besides,” Roy said, “clown movies are nothing but half-naked women getting chopped up by psychos.”
“Not always. Let’s watch a movie with clowns in it,” she said, still smiling.
She was always a little crazy and a bit ‘out there’, but she must have completely lost her marbles to think she could charm him into this. Nothing she said or did could get him in front of a television with some psychotic asshole wandering around cutting people all to hell.
He turned his head to tell her but she was already up and moving toward the television.
“Wait!” he blurted in a panic. He didn’t want her to realize how afraid he really was. Beth was by far the most beautiful, sexy, sensual, and amazing woman he’d ever met. How would it look if she could sit through a horror film and he couldn’t?
She stopped, arched an eyebrow, and shimmied out of her jeans. Her top followed next as she pulled it over her head and let it drop to the floor. The red and black lace she wore underneath stole his breath. All thought washed away as he pictured the two of them spending the next few hours not watching a clown movie.
He stood up and reached for her but she stepped back, dodging his advance.
“Not yet. I want to slip into something first. Think of this as therapy; I promise you’ll be completely cured when we’re done.” She winked at him.
She eased him back toward the couch, grabbing his ass as she did. The back of his knees struck the cushion as Beth pushed him down into his seat. Leaning over, she kissed him long and slow. When the kiss broke, she told him the movie was already in the player, then strutted out of the room.
“How did you…” he blundered.
“I was going to watch it anyway. Don’t worry, it’ll be fun. Besides, you might be a bit too preoccupied to be afraid,” she remarked with a giggle.
Roy clicked on the television and surfed channels for a moment before picking up the DVD remote and hitting the power button. Sports news was replaced with an image of a terrified woman screaming and covering her face as she ran. Some fat dude, shirtless except for a black rubber apron, was chasing her down with a chainsaw. He wore a red clown wig and white face paint. His features had been drawn in with exaggerated black grease pencil and he his grin was full of sharp teeth.
Roy had second thoughts about watching the movie. Beads of sweat popped up on his temples as he squirmed in his seat. He loosened his necktie and unbuttoned his collar, but it didn’t help.
He reached for the remote, wanting to turn off the movie when he heard Beth giggling; she was coming back into the room. Time to man-up for this beautiful woman and deal, he thought.
“I know this is going to be hard for you,” she said with another tinkling of laughter as she walked up behind him, “but I want you to know how pleased I am that you’re doing this for me.”
Roy began to stand, he wanted to see her, but her hands pressed down on his shoulders. He sat again and tried to crane his neck around to see her. He wanted one more look before they started the damn movie.
“Not yet, lover. Keep your eyes on the screen and if you get scared, think of this.” She flung a black and red lace bra into his lap.
He grabbed for it, feeling the warmth of the material. He wasn’t going to like the movie, but thought he might enjoy movie time nonetheless. He smiled.
Beth turned off the lights and Roy pretended his heart rate went up solely because of her lingerie.
“Hit play, lover,” she said and giggled from behind. She was enjoying this. He did as she instructed and eased back into his seat.
As the movie started, the screaming woman from the promo shot was having what appeared to be a normal day. A few minutes later, her car broke down and she called for the local tow company.
Beth played with his hair and whispered in his ear. He couldn’t understand what she said, but the fear he expected to feel was replaced by slowly building excitement. Maybe the clown movie wasn’t going to be that bad after all.
Predictably, night arrived before the tow truck on-screen – the man in the cab was the same man from the promo sans chainsaw, face paint and pointed teeth.
Beth continued to play with his hair and bite his ear lobe while the movie played on. Roy reached for her several times but she kept slipping away, still giggling.
All at once, the woman on TV was screaming; Roy jumped. She ran down a dark street in the middle of nowhere, one shoe off. The fat fucker from the truck, now dressed in the rubber apron, was tearing after her with the smoke-belching chainsaw. The buzzing sound was so loud it must have startled him awake. Had he dozed off? God, he hoped not.
Beth, who had been doing something behind him, stepped around the couch and in front of the screen.
“Welcome back, lover,” she said as she smiled. She was naked and Roy could see the outline of her breasts in the dim light coming from the TV. He moved to get up, but she quickly straddled him and kissed his lips. Her face felt greasy like she was wearing too much makeup. Maybe she’d donned that sexy costume she’d worn for him the other night…
Roy smiled and kissed her painted lips. She bit his in return and he pulled away sharply.
“Beth, dammit, that hurt.”
She didn’t say anything, but let out another of those purring giggles; it was starting to annoy him. She seemed to laugh at everything that got under his skin.
Roy ran his tongue over his lip and tasted blood.
“My frigging lip is bleeding.” Roy tried to free his hands so he could find out how badly it was split.
“I know,” she said. He could feel the whisper of a smile dance across her lips.
“I’m done with this game, Beth. If you want to mess around, I’m all for it, but that last bite hurt.” He could hear the whine in his own voice; he doubted they’d be having sex tonight. He wanted to get the lights back on and turn off the television.
He reached for the remote but Beth grabbed his hand. She kissed his inner wrist, letting her lips caress the soft flesh of his arm. She stopped at his bicep. Roy’s anger faded as he closed his eyes and drifted on waves of seductive pleasure.
Just as he surrendered completely, searing pain ripped through his muscles. Beth was tearing his arm to shreds with what felt like some sort of garden tool from Hell.
Beth screamed along with him, then lapped up at the blood pouring down his forearm.
Roy struggled to get out from under her but was pinned in place. It felt like a three hundred pound weight rested on his chest.
Roy thrashed around and tried to free his other arm; his leg connected hard with the coffee table.
“What the fuck?” Roy screamed. He glared up at her dimly lit silhouette trying to understand what was happening. Beth just giggled and started on his chest. She held an insanely large knife that she continually nicked him with as she cut the buttons from his shirt one by one. Her smile looked utterly demented.
“You know how in those movies it’s always the man that gets to be the clown and it’s the woman who’s always chopped into little pieces?” She started to stab at his chest, thrusting the blade in about two or three inches, then pulling it back out again. Each time it pierced his skin, Roy screamed louder and her laughter intensified.
“In this movie, it’s the other way around.” She cackled, her face now fully distorted. She stopped long enough to lick blood off the tip of the knife before she began another round.
Roy struggled to breathe. He gasped, feeling like a fish yanked out of water. His face began to turn a deep purple as blood dripped from the corners of his mouth.
“Oh dear. I must have hit a lung… let’s see what kind of damage I did with my little knife,” Beth said, tittering in his face. She shifted her weight down a bit and pulled open the tattered remains of his shirt and tie.
“If you died too fast, nobody would ever watch the movie. We need to make it last a little longer,” she said and produced a scalpel. “I know this hurts, but I have to admit, it excites the hell out of me, if you know what I mean, lover.” She winked at him.
Roy tried to scream as she drew the blade down his chest to his belly button. He was helpless to do anything other than watch as she ripped his chest open.
“I can see your heart, Roy. You said I could have it, right?” She giggled insanely while she tugged at his rib cage.
As the sound of her deranged laughter peeled through his brain, his last thought fired—I fucking hate clowns.
~ Christopher A. Liccardi
© Copyright 2016 Christpher A. Liccardi. All Rights Reserved
Plunging the blade deep into the abdominal cavity, I drive it upward until I hit the xiphoid process. Twisting slightly to my right, I skirt the sternum and slice through the costal cartilage attaching the ribs to the breastplate. Careful not to puncture the internal organs, I stop my upward motion at the manubrium. Drawing the sharpened metal along the topside of the upper-most rib, I listen to the harsh breathing. Returning to the original point of entry, I pause, then again thrust into and through the abdominal wall, swiftly separating the flesh and muscle from the body’s left side.
Laying the knife on the tray, I reach down and peel the cavity open with a great deal of force. A slight groan escapes amongst the pops and rending sounds as the connective tissue still in place rips away to reveal the fluttering heart. A marvelous thing the human body, a machine designed by the hand of a master; a fragile balance struck with a sadistic keeper.
~ Nina D’Arcangela
An Ensemble of Worms
Barbara reveled in the music of suffering—the most classical of symphonies. The limbless, mutilated houses for the soul writhed in their own excreta as they sang agonized tunes. Such instruments, she thought, my delightful chorus of worms.
She walked through the field of screaming torsos wrapped in barbed wire. She inspected each one to see that it contributed to the melody her beautiful creatures conducted. If they became too weak to vocalize their pain, only then would she cut the chords from their throats. Tired and dried up notes had to be snuffed out to maintain quality; anything less would be unacceptable to her listeners.
She wondered what played in their heads, if they remembered her face before the eyes were removed. She liked to think so; it spawned a warm satisfaction between her thighs to think of all those minds imagining her at once.
Innumerable red eyes blinked in the darkness of the tree line. They’re watching, she thought, bemused by her audience. They always watch.
At the edge of the field she came across a straggler who’d rolled himself away from the rest of the group. She tied a rope around his neck as he gummed her arm with a toothless mouth.
“You silly thing,” she said with a laugh. “Why do you think everyone has their teeth removed?”
She dragged the body to reunite it with the rest. After undoing the rope, she pressed her foot against his chest. Razor sharp barbs sunk deeper into his flesh and got him singing again.
Pleased with her work, she sat on the damp grass and stared into the forest. The glowing eyes blinked out one by one, her congregation of shadows lulled to sleep with the musical wailing of her ensemble of worms.
~ Lee A. Forman
Granny always told me to eat.
She looked after me, Granny did, the only real family I knew. I had one, a family that was, but Poppa never paid me no heed, caught up in better things the way he always was. And Momma, she wanted herself a pretty boy she could preen after, but I never wanted no part of that. So Momma turned her back on me, except when it came time to bring the belt down. She gave me the whippings cause Poppa couldn’t be bothered, so busy the way he was. I honestly can’t remember when they disowned me, when they kicked me out.
Granny took me in. She looked after me, became my family, my everything. She did me right, so I made sure to do her proud. Good woman, my Granny, doing the little things, the big things. One thing she loved to do for me, and that was cook.
Eat. Eat, she always told me.
So I did.
My Granny, I learned a few things from her. Wise, wise lady, she was. Don’t know where she got it from. She talked to Grandpa more times than not, asking for strength. I never did meet my Grandpa. He came home from the great war in a box. Pieces of him, anyhow. Still, I guess he listened, cause she’d ask for that strength, then I’d see her, eyes wider than the muffin tops she’d bake me. She’d move round the house fast, like she’d been plugged into an outlet. Granny, always doing little things, the big things for me. What else could I do but make her proud?
Granny always told me to eat.
I was a big kid. Then I became a bigger kid. Granny, she told me pay no mind to those jokes, those catcalls from the other kids. They don’t know nothin from nothin, she’d say to me. They make fun cause you big? Pfft. They should wait and see, wait and see. One thing about my Granny, she taught me to take the high road. Taught me there’s no use in messing with the low.
Something else I learned about my Granny, she had a nasty streak about her. Never put it on me, mind you, but I could see it, right there, crossing her face like a storm in late July. She’d get still, real still, like a stray cat when it knows you seen it walking through your yard. She’d only get that way when I’d ask if she thought my folks were ever going to come back for me. If Momma and Poppa were ever going to take me back home.
You are home, she’d spit from her lips, then get to her cooking, mixing and blending, talking to Grandpa all the while.
Eat. Eat, she always told me, so I did.
I came in from school one day. Took awhile. Walk wasn’t far but I couldn’t move my legs all that fast. Thunder thighs, the kids all called me, but Granny, she just said I got legs of the gods. Came in, found Granny waiting, her face real long, those eyes of hers still wide as muffin tops but black as if they’d been baked too long. Baked until burnt. You hungry, boy, she said to me, you hungry, cause I know you study hard and them books you carry weigh a ton.
Granny moved to a big old pot on the stove, started stirring and stirring. Stirring through something thick. Real thick. The counter, her apron, all covered in sauce.
Been thinkin on this, she said to me, been thinkin on this a lot. Me and your Grandpa agree. We ain’t got no right, ain’t got no right keepin you from your folks. I ain’t gonna do that no more. No more. You can have your folks.
You can have your folks.
I looked at my Granny’s face. That late July storm rolled over her, then like that it was gone. I didn’t know what to say.
Granny motioned to that big old pot.
Eat. Eat, she always told me.
So I did.
~ Joseph A. Pinto
Of Course I Agreed
I peeled back the nail on my thumb because he told me to. Tears streamed down my cheeks and pain like I’d never felt before coursed up my arm. I wanted to scream, but he told me I couldn’t. So I didn’t.
When the fingernail was off, I handed it to him. He licked it, then placed it in his mouth with a smile.
Next, he told me to take off my glasses and move my face closer to his. I wanted to squirm away, but couldn’t find the willpower. I removed my glasses and did as he asked. I extended my neck as far as it would go. He licked first one eye then the other.
He said he liked brown eyes.
He turned his head slightly and began sucking on my left eye. At first the pressure was slight but then it intensified and I could feel my eye starting to move in the socket. Again, ripping pain flashed through me, but all I could do was leak tears. The sucking sound from his mouth got louder, then ‘pop’.
He said he liked my heart and asked if he could have it. Of course I agreed. I couldn’t disagree if I wanted to.
The creature lifted a single clawed finger and ran it down my chest. The sensation was cold at first, then the burning started. In an instant, I thought I was on fire.
He put his hands on my chest and began to pull it apart. Anguish like nothing I’d ever felt before wracked my body. I wanted to die. He asked me if I wanted to see it, my hear that was. Of course I agreed.
Death came much slower than I hoped it would.
~ Christopher A. Liccardi
One Bullet Left
Jake’s family lay quietly in the corner of the room, piled in a heap like unfolded laundry. The house hadn’t been this quiet in years. The .45 in his trembling hand felt heavier than the guilt he knew he would carry for the rest of his life. No matter.
You can’t undo what’s been done, he thought.
With only one bullet left, his choice was clear. Raising the .45 in his right hand and the nearly empty bottle of Jack Daniels in his left, he winced and swallowed the last gulp until the burning subsided in his throat. Click.
The gun fell to the floor, closely followed by the empty bottle which shattered when it struck the tile.
Jake stumbled his way out of the room, his bare feet crunching in the shards of glass.
“I never liked that dog.”
~ Craig McGray
Each piece of fiction is the copyright of its respective author
and may not be reproduced without prior consent. © Copyright 2016
Muttering to himself as he always does, ole Gus shuffled to the basement door, pulled it open, and carefully descended the barely lit stairs. Once in the subterranean cavern – as he liked to imagine it – he began searching the dusty shelves for boxes marked ‘Halloween’ in Ester’s neat, tidy handwriting. God rest her soul. Given what a pain in the ass his wife had been in life, he’d never thought he would miss her nagging so much now that she was gone. Oh well, done is done, can’t dwell on the past. That’s the way he’d always lived his life, no reason to go changing things now. If he could just get that damned Priest from their church to stop ‘dropping in’, he could finally catch up on his shows. That old coot would do just about anything to get a little extra change on the Sunday plate. Gus couldn’t see any other reason why the man kept coming by to console him; always bringing casseroles, and baked this or homemade that, from strange women he’d never even met. Yup, it had to be that Sunday Salvation savings account he kept making deposits into. No other reason for it. She’d been dead for, Christ – what was it, three, four weeks now; it was time to stop treating him like a lost mute-child found wandering the streets! These people just didn’t know how to keep to themselves and quit meddling in his affairs. Well, at least he was eating well. Ester, God rest her soul, was a fair looking woman with many fine qualities, but cooking wasn’t one of them. Nope. She must have been looking the other way when that train went whistling by. Oh well, done is done.
Rooting around the musty shelves in the dim light, Gus finally came across what looked like the right boxes. ‘Course, they were behind the ‘X-Mass’ boxes; now he’d have to move those first. Speaking of ‘X-Mass,’ that was something he’d always wondered… why spell it with two S’s on the end? Christmas was spelled with one S, and he couldn’t see the Arch Diocese endorsing X-Priests, like X-Men, so X-Masses were probably out of the question. Now that would be a service he wouldn’t mind donating to – hell, they could charge admission. Those money grubbing, wafer toting, alcohol peddling Men of the Cloth zipping around with special powers… that would be a show! What, no change for the plate? Father Laser Eye, incinerate that cheap son-of-a-bitch. Zap! Ha! Ahhh, well, it would probably be more like Father Lazy Eye with those clowns. Anyway, speaking of clowns, if he didn’t stop imagining The Flying Priest-capades in his head, he’d never get the lawn set up for tomorrow night. And Ester, God rest her soul, wouldn’t have that at her home. Nope. Better get back to gettin’ to it if he was finally going to get back at those little shits for the years of fucking with her lawn.
A few hours later, he’d managed to drag all the boxes and loose pieces of seasonal ornamentation up from the basement and out onto the porch. Looking around at the leaves cluttering the front yard, Gus figured there was no sense in raking them; they added to the ambiance. Plus his back was way too sore for that kind of manual labor, especially considering what was still to come. Yup. Ester, God rest her soul, was going to be proud of his efforts this year; and whether she was too kind-hearted or lady-like to admit it, she’d enjoy the vengeance he had planned for those crap-faced teenagers. Ha! Well, time to break out the cob-webbing, and get the decorating over with.
Gus worked long into the night, waving to passers-by as they called out a hello, taking a break only to sit and eat the latest dish of whatever-you-call-that-stuff the Priest brought by. To any and all watching, it seemed the kindly old widower was going about making his home as inviting as he could for the pip-squeaks who would come mooching for candy tomorrow night. Sometime around 10:30 pm, he placed the final prop in its honored and very conspicuous place. It was the most realistic, most expensive severed head he and Ester, God rest her soul, had collected. It was really a bit too pricey for them, but from the moment she saw it, there was no talking sense to her – she simply wouldn’t leave the store without it. He’d spent the last several years sitting up awake on All Hallows’ Eve just to protect that one piece from the neighborhood vandals. They’re just kids having fun, Ester, God rest her soul, would always say. Kids, my ass, he always thought. Lighting his last cigarette before heading inside to wash up and sleep for a few hours, Gus wondered just how much fun they’d be having this year. After a few drags, he flicked the butt onto his neighbor’s lawn, picked up the prized latex head, and trudged inside to catch a little shut-eye.
At 2:00 am, his alarm clock sounded. After splashing cold water on his face and shaking off the sandman, Gus got down to the real business of this year’s decorating. Collecting his shovel and pickax from the shed out back, he shambled his way around to the front lawn. He might be an old geezer, but years of working in the mill had hardened him into something much different than most people thought. He was a smart man, one who knew how to foster good will and empathy, but one who also knew when it was time to use his strengths to his advantage. Making his way to the spot where the prized head would sit later that evening, he tossed down the shovel and began breaking up the dirt on his front lawn.
Back inside, he made his way to the shower, cleaned himself up, then cooked a hearty breakfast of poached eggs, instant grits, bacon, maple sausage links, and six slices of toast. Just like Ester, God rest her soul, used to make… well, maybe a little better, but don’t tell her that.
Sitting on his front porch that afternoon and evening, Gus dutifully rewarded all the little children with their hands held out begging for candy. As the night wore on, he was sure to keep an eye on that ghoulish head, and all the little bastards who had their eye on it, too. He knew that one of them would come back and make a play for it well after everyone was asleep. With all the wee ones home by 9:00 pm, it was just a matter of waiting the right amount of time. By 11:30 pm, Gus had been alone on his porch for an hour and a half without seeing another soul. Giggling to himself and saying a silent prayer that Ester, God rest her soul, was watching, he began his own Halloween fun! Tucking the latex head inside the house, he slid the board covering the hole he’d made in the early hours of the morning out of the way and tossed it under the porch, hiding the evidence of his deceit among the other debris stored there. Sitting down on the lawn, Gus dangled his legs over the opening for just a moment before he shimmied his way into the ground. Having left one arm free, he scooped the loose dirt and leaves that had concealed the board onto his broad shoulders, then worked his arm into the dirt as well. Buried up to his neck, Gus stood in the tight confines of the vertical grave he’d dug earlier and waited. It didn’t take long.
Judging it to be about half past midnight, he heard a rustling sound, and the drunken whispers of the aforementioned idiots approaching. Holding dead still, eyes closed, he waited and listened.
“Damn man, it looks so real!”
“Of course it looks real, dick-head, that’s why it’s such a great grab for this year’s scavenger hunt. Plus that pain-in-the-ass isn’t sitting on the porch guarding it like he usually is.”
“Show some respect, man. The dude just lost his wife. My dad comes by here with food and shit from the church cronies like every night.”
“Yeah, I’m sure he does it out of respect. He’s just hoping the old fuck leaves his money to the parish.”
“Whatever, asshole. Just grab it so we can get the hell out of here before someone sees us.”
The sound of footsteps grew closer as the leaves crunched in his ears. Gus felt the warmth of the little bastard’s hands nearly touching him.
“You sure the coast is clear?”
“Yeah, man. Just hurry the fuck up and grab it!”
Sensing the impending hands closing around his head, Gus’s eyes shot open as quickly as his jaw. He’d taken the time to file his teeth to razor sharp points while he’d waited inside. In one fluid motion, he turned and snapped his mouth closed on the arm of the fuck-wad trying to steal his head. His teeth sliced clean through the connective muscle and sinew at the boys elbow; as soon as the kid yanked backward, his forearm detached with a sickening squelch. They all started to scream like the little piss-ants they were. Blood spurted everywhere, making Gus’s head really look like the latex gem. As the teens ran screaming for their lives, Gus spit the arm out toward the bushes. Cackling with maniacal laughter, shreds of fabric and gristle still clinging to his teeth, Gus shouted, “See Ester, God rest your ever lovin’ soul, I found the perfect prop to finish our display!”
~ Nina D’Arcangela
© Copyright Nina D’Arcangela. All Rights Reserved
“Brett, wake up.”
His voice echoed, came to my ears from great distance.
“Wake up, you worthless slag.”
Cracks of light burned my eyes. Slowly they grew until I saw the familiar boots of Sam Brooks. Those stupid fucking skull buckles… Peculiar how my first thought lent itself to something so unimportant.
He grabbed my collar and pulled me from the floor. “Come on, you shit, we’re going to see the boss.”
My attempts at a response led to no success. Throat dry, lips cracked, desperate for water—I couldn’t even croak. Not that I knew what the fuck I would say. I had no idea where I was and little memory of how I got there. Something about a bar and a yellow neon light; I’m pretty sure it was shaped in the name of some cheap beer.
Sam dragged me down the hall, jeans riding along the splintered wood floor. The dark stains didn’t instill comfort about where I was headed. They spoke of bad things, blood spilled.
His fist against the door thundered in my ears. Three hard knocks and the door opened. Sam dragged me in and dropped me on the floor at the foot of an old metal desk.
“So here he is,” Maxwell said. “Where ya’ been? You know I hate when I have to look for someone. It just gets to me.”
Sam kicked me with his stupid fucking boot. “I found him at the bar on East Main,” he said.
Maxwell laughed. “Figures.”
“He was all liquored up and ready for the taking.”
“So you didn’t give Sam here much trouble then, did ya’ little fella.”
“No, Boss,” Sam said. “No trouble at all.”
“That’s good. That’s very good.” Maxwell shook his head, took a half-smoked cigar from his ash tray, and lit it.
With great effort I managed to cough out a few words. “What am I doing here?”
They laughed at my question.
“I think he’s a bit confused,” Sam said, still chuckling.
“Won’t be for long.” Maxwell pulled deep on his cigar and blew a cloud of smoke in my face. “You took my money from Bobbi. Now why would you go and do something like that?”
I tried to focus, tried to remember who the hell he was talking about. I repeated the name in my head until it lost meaning.
“Come on, Brett,” Sam said. “Just admit what you done.”
“Bobbi?” I asked. “She’s the one with the scar on her cheek, isn’t she?”
“Well look at that. His memory is starting to come back.” Maxwell sat up from his chair and walked around the desk. He grabbed my hair and lifted my head, looked me in the eyes. “Why’d you take my money?”
“I don’t know what you mean. I didn’t take any money.” I couldn’t remember whether I did or not, but it didn’t seem like something I would do.
“Oh, you took it, alright,” Maxwell said. “Bobbi wouldn’t lie to me. Isn’t that right, Sam?”
“Damn right, Boss.”
“Now you gotta pay for what you done. And a few black and blue marks aren’t going to cut it. Are they, Sam?”
“No, sir. Not even close.”
I knew I was a scumbag. Who didn’t? But I was pretty sure I didn’t take any money, not from Maxwell.
“Take him to the cellar,” Maxwell said.
“Jesus, Boss. Isn’t that a little harsh?”
The uncertain tone in Sam’s voice spoke of something more horrible than I could imagine. He had an iron stomach and no conscience. The wavering of his words told me it was something even he wasn’t going to enjoy. And that terrified me.
Sam tied my hands behind my back and lifted me off the floor. He dragged me back through the hallway and outside into the alley. Normally that would be where it ended, with a bullet to the head. But I knew they had something more sinister in mind.
He opened the back door of his old Chevy and threw me in. I heard the engine roar to life and he drove with a heavy foot. I watched familiar streets go by until we ended up in an unfamiliar place. We must have traveled a few miles without seeing a single house.
The car stopped and the engine went silent.
“I’m sorry,” Sam said.
It was that moment reality became apparent. Sam probably never apologized to anyone his entire life, especially not to someone like me. But he did, and by the sound of his voice he meant it. The sadistic bastard was actually sorry for what he was about to do.
I thought back on my life; years flashed by in moments. I saw things I’d done and it put a sour taste in my mouth. I’d been a good for nothing piece of shit since I was able to raise my middle finger. But if Sam felt sorry for me I didn’t deserve what was coming.
He dragged me out of the car and walked me toward an old wood shack surrounded by dark forest. Few stars shined through the canopy above. My guts felt like they were about to come out of my ass.
Sam stopped at the door and stood motionless. He took keys from his pocket and looked at them for a while before undoing the padlock and pulling me inside. We descended stairs that went down into the pit of the Earth. At the bottom a pale yellow light glowed.
I heard something move and Sam jumped. It was then I realized why Sam had an issue with what Maxwell ordered—even he was afraid.
“What’s down there?” I asked, my voice barely able to formulate the words. “What the fuck is it? Just tell me!”
Sam ignored my pleas and took a deep breath as we got to the bottom of the stairs. A wood bar stool sat in the center of the cellar. The yellow light came from a neon sign just like the one at the bar, with that same logo for cheap beer, the one I sat next to most nights of my shitty adult life.
Sam pushed me toward the stool. He kept me at arm’s length, keeping his hand on my back. He forced me to sit and tied my hands and feet to the wooden legs.
Black, stringy appendages shot out from a dark corner of the room and latched onto my skin. Dozens of them stuck all over my body. It was as if they each contained thousands of tiny teeth that chewed through my clothes and bit down on every nerve receptor within their vicinity. Intense pain flooded through me like electricity. Whatever it was could not be seen. It was blacker than the emptiness of space, something that didn’t just absorb light, but pulled it completely out of existence.
A foul looking tube crawled along the floor like a serpent. Its slime-covered surface glistened in the yellow light. It worked its way up my leg, pulsating and releasing a nauseating odor. The intestine-like appendage entered my mouth and forced a slick mucus down my throat. I gagged against it but it flowed like a fucking river. I felt my own vomit forced back into my gut. It was feeding me, feeding me so it could keep me alive for who knows how long while it suckled on my flesh.
“I just wanna let you know something,” Sam said as he backed away toward the stairs.
My eyes rolled in his direction.
“It was me. I took the money.”
∼Lee A. Forman
© Copyright 2016 Lee A. Forman. All Rights Reserved.