When You’re Howling

I watched the crazy bastard staggering across the shit-colored wasteland like some post-apocalyptic bindlestiff. He gestured wildly at Heaven and Hell, screaming in some dead language. But a bandana-wrapped poke dangled from the cane over his shoulder. Maybe it held food; I was starving.

A big boulder hid me. The dude walked past. I rose up behind him, cleared my throat. He spun around, and if he’d had a gun he would have shucked it. I had one—a cheap piece of blue-steel crap from before the world went to rot. But I didn’t shoot. The man was ugly as sin. On one side. The left side of his face…squirmed. I didn’t want to look too closely. But the right side was beautiful—uncomfortably beautiful. I looked away.

“I’ll take those goodies,” I told him, gesturing at his poke.

Suddenly calm, he pulled the cane off his shoulder and tapped the bandana-wrapped bindle. “You really don’t want to see inside this,” he said. “Let me offer a cigarette instead.”

I dealt him the nastiest smile in my set. “I’ll have the cigarettes too. But first the bag.”

He shook his head. “You’ve got no reason to believe me. But I’m not here by chance. I came seeking you. To make an end. I see now, though, you deserve more time. That heart’s not quite dead yet. In this bag, there isn’t anything to eat or sell. There’s only destruction.”

I hefted my pistol. “This is real destruction. Brought the world low. Give me the fuckin’ bag.”

“Please,” he said. “For your sake.”

Something about the guy creeped me out. My skin started jumping from more than just the fleas that made my rags their ghetto. But dammit! I was hungry, so hungry. I pressed the gun barrel against his forehead and cocked the hammer. The Devil laughed. Or maybe it was me.

The man sighed, dropped his cane, backed away. I knelt, pulled the knot loose on his bindle. For a moment, I looked in, then began to blubber like a baby. I put the gun in my mouth and pulled the trigger.

Click.

Nothing.

Click. Click. Click. Click. Click.

Sympathetic fingers stroked my greasy hair. He didn’t say, “I told you so,” but it was in his gaze when I looked up. That beauty! And that ugliness. I saw now why the left side of his face writhed; maggots crawled there, with human faces.

“Maybe just a little more time?” I asked.

“Sorry. Not now.”

He took my shoulders in his hands, folded and folded me until he dropped me into his bindle and retied the knot. I heard him groan through the walls as he lifted the immense burden on his back and staggered onward.

It wasn’t dark inside the bundle; I so wished it was dark. All the beauty of the world lay defiled before me. All the Love trashed by Hate. Hate looked at me and smiled.

I wanted to run but there was nowhere to go.

∼ Charles Gramlich

© Copyright Charles Gramlich. All Rights Reserved.

 

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About TheDamned

A clandestine collection of the most eclectic minds of horror. These anguished souls have stripped free their pretenses for your grotesque delight. The Pen of the Damned tread where you dare walk not. Breathe what you dare dream not. Share what you dare speak not.

13 responses to “When You’re Howling”

  1. afstewart says :

    A wonderfully dark story with a touch of macabre. Loved it.

    Like

  2. Russell MacClaren says :

    Damn that’s creepy, and such an apropos story for the end of mankind. “Only the Shadow knows.” Death is in our blood, and there’s only one way out!

    Like

  3. Nina D'Arcangela says :

    Reblogged this on The Road to Nowhere… and commented:

    A gruesome little tale of careful what you ask for by guest author, Charles Gramlich on PenoftheDamned.com

    Like

  4. Nina D'Arcangela says :

    I very much enjoyed the ‘careful what you ask for’ angle of this dark tale, Charles. Well done, sir!

    Like

  5. Lee Andrew Forman says :

    A wonderfully dark tale by guest author, Charles Gramlich! Awesome story, Charles!

    Like

  6. Lee Andrew Forman says :

    Reblogged this on Lee Andrew Forman and commented:

    A warm welcome to Charles Gramlich, our guest author this week on Pen of the Damned! Check out his morbidly awesome story, ‘When You’re Howling’.

    Like

  7. Scarlett R. Algee says :

    Gorgeous. Sharp and brutal, just a great dark slice of apocalypse. Well done (and hi!)

    Like

  8. moondustwriter says :

    howling good. Miss you damlings…

    Like

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