In the Light
Miriam H. Harrison
The light lasts longer here. A trick of angles, squeezing every last drop of daylight from the sun. When I followed the path, found this place sitting in the light, I took it for a sign. I wanted to be here—in this place blessed by the sun.
And so I entered.
If you find my path, don’t follow. Stay out there in the light. The light outside lingers. But the darkness inside—that lasts longer than you’ll ever know.
The Weight of Stone
The gold stone sweats light in the dawn. But I am not lit. I lie within. All in black, all in shadow. I pray to the night, to the ancient and puissant god of the dead—to he who is swollen with rot and bile. And I smile as I pray to myself in the mirror of your dreaming eyes.
Can you not hear me prance close? A devil to man! A lord to devils! I love the teeth in your mouth, the bite in your words. But I will not come to you. To summon me, you must light the candle in the whiskey dark—while I sing from a throat blistered by scorpions. To summon me, you must offer pearls of honeyed blood from your unshriven lips.
No, I will not come to you. Not yet. But I will wait. For your nightmare to end.
And the next to begin.
The Citadel de Sangre
Bumming around Spain the summer after college, me and my buddy Garth stopped in the village of Tabernas. Both of us were keen to check out this one place in particular – the Citadel, at the edge of the desert. Lots of folklore about it.
When we got to Alamira, I asked an old woman about it. “La Ciudadela? Si. It’s an ancient fortress, a sanctuary built by an ancient civilization to keep out demons. But beware, a hijo mio, it’s no sanctuary now!” When I asked what she meant, she shook her head, muttering “Los que beben sangre!”
Garth checked his Spanish pocket dictionary “Way cool! She means “those who drink blood.” He looked up, grinning. “Like I’m scared, dude,” he whispered to me. The guy running the tourist office talked us into taking along his daughter as a guide. Carmillita was a weird little gal with stringy dark curls, but she spoke good English. Something about her made me uncomfortable, but Garth thought she was hot.
Our shirts were soaked with sweat when we finally arrived at the Citadel. It was a sturdy structure, made from yellow native stone. We relaxed in the cool interior. I found a wine stash and we downed a couple bottles. Garth and the gal were enjoying some primo Spanish grass and talking. Last I noticed, she was licking his neck. Threesomes weren’t my style. I nodded off after dusk.
“Wake up, buddy. Carmillita wants you with us.” it was Garth’s voice next to me in the dark. That gal was crouching beside him, eyes glowing red in the dark.
“Huh?” I asked sleepily.
“It ain’t for sex, dude.” A sudden flash of white fangs in the moonlight, his mouth on my neck. He stopped sucking to grin at me, blood streaming down his chin.
Guess I wasn’t going to need that fucking degree in Economics after all.
All Day Sucker
I have eyes but cannot see.
The darkness is everywhere.
I have ears but cannot hear.
The dead are polite in their silence.
My mouth is shut, clamping down on the screams that rest on my tongue like a demented all day sucker.
I should have known to turn down the contract, but the money was too good.
I should have known that I would never see the money. It was just that good.
Always be suspicious of a request to build a “secret room.” Especially if that room is beneath a centuries-old mausoleum.
The dead do not need a place for their secrets.
I know that teenagers come to smoke on the steps, but they are too far away to be aware of me. I can smell their pungent exhalations. I imagine they tell scary stories while getting high in the cemetery. They may even fabricate nightmares about being locked in with the bodies that rot. If they knew of me, I would become just another ghost story.
I am a ghost story.
Lee Andrew Forman
Respite from day, an escape from all that ails, is what Harold desired most. So to this monument of silence he traveled each night, and beneath each moon and all its phases, he spent his better hours with the speechless and unmoving. Never a word had been spoken to his kin about these endeavors. A secret dream—of joy, of a stillness which calmed a distressed heart.
No lock barred entry, no watchmen to guard against invasion; he was free to rest his weary bones with Marla, the occupant within the marble box. He painted her in his mind as he saw fit, imaginings of a fine woman, far beyond what he deemed himself worthy of.
But when he approached the old doors this night, one stood ajar. He scurried to peek within the dark mausoleum. Three young men sat inside with booze, drinking in a stupor, regarding precious Marla with uncouth disrespect.
Harold made himself known as a silhouette in the doorway. The young heathens stood, violence rising within their stance. Harold shook. His poor frame would never overcome them.
Then the massive lid opened on its own. From within rose the dried remains of Marla. Bone fingers stabbed at bewildered eyes. Her other arm thrust like a spear into another’s abdomen. The young man gaped at the near-black fluid poured from his wound. The third boy tried to run, but Marla caught him by the neck. She pulled him into her embrace and crushed his ribcage, watching red spurt from his mouth.
When the bloodshed ended, Marla’s eyeless sockets stared at Harold. Although she had no lips with which to smile, he felt affection ebb from her marrow. He approached this miracle with blind joy. Marla’s skeletal hands wrapped themselves around Harold, pulled him into her coffin, and closed the lid.
The mausoleum was a triumph of architecture and style. It dominated the landscape for miles, and had been built to be deliberately in the direct line of sight of the manor house were the Duke resided. It was to be his final resting place and he took huge pride in that fact, not that he intended to change residence anytime soon. The townsfolk, the people who worked in the mines belonging to the Duke, had a different perspective. The Duke was greedy and stupid, focused only on profit. He ordered his engineers to dig too close to the surface and to skimp on tunnel supports. Shafts routinely collapsed, burying miners. The fatality rate was five times the of nearby mines. The Duke paid the families handsomely to cover it up, but now the final straw had been reached. Due to shallow excavations, parts of the town had subsided, killing a number of women and children. The men congregated in the mausoleum. A solution had been found. Muffled cries and entreaties could he heard from inside the crypt. A voice pleaded with them to let him out, save his life, but the miners did not respond or move a finger to help. The Duke, a soft-handed aristocrat, would learn what it was like to be buried alive, suffocated while the air ran out. It was a fitting memorial.
The stone tomb hadn’t been there yesterday.
But yesterday the world had been normal.
Yesterday, I didn’t hear the song.
It began on my morning run. The vision of the stone structure standing in the park haloed against the warm sun. So majestic, so serene.
Music floated from the entrance, a deep entrancing voice singing of peace, of darkness, of stars and fire. Calling my name. Promising me the serenity of his everlasting love. I was on the steps before someone bumped into me. I heard “Sorry,” and looked away. When I looked back, the tomb vanished.
But the echo of the song remained.
That’s why I returned to the park after moonrise. Somehow, I knew he would return before the next sunrise. I knew he was waiting for me.
In the silence of my mind I heard his voice, his sweet, sultry tune of peace and destruction, filling the darkest hours until my prayers were answered. I raced up the stone steps of the tomb, dashing into its dark maw. I laughed as his tentacles encircled me and drew me into death’s embrace, his sweet voice my lullaby into eternal rest and his undying love.
By day, they climb the stairs, stare through the locked grate to catch a glimmer of what lay inside. At dusk, I open the gates, hope one will stray, and step beyond the threshold. This eve is no exception. As the moon trades its place with the sun, the gleam from inside is irresistible. Stunned by the glittering interior, it pauses. I see the greed in its eyes. Just one step further and I will have you. The exterior of the tomb is stunning, but once beyond the iron that was wrought to keep the rabble out, the walls are inlayed with gems that glisten opalescent shades. I am as old as the stone, I hunger as it does, but am not allowed a portion until they have had theirs. If I have done my job adequately, some may feast; if done well, all will sup – myself included.
Each piece of fiction is the copyright of its respective author and may not be reproduced without prior consent. © Copyright 2021
6 thoughts on “Damned Words 47”
This was cool. Like a mosaic short story collaboration, and they’re all fun to read with eerie vibes.
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Well done, all
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Great job, guys. I fully enjoyed all the pieces! 😀
Agreed with y’all! What an enjoyable string of damned flashes! This line from Charles’ offering shines for me: “I love the teeth in your mouth, the bite in your words. But I will not come to you.” I must remember to use that in conversation some time!
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