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Damned Words 18

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Ravenous Eyes
Jon Olson

The carcass had washed up during the night, not far from the tourist hot spots. It was massive, stunk of rot, possibly a whale. We planned to investigate; maybe even identify it, once morning came. They beat us to it. Damn seagulls. Within a few short hours, they picked it clean. There wasn’t even a speck of flesh left. While a couple of them still peck absently at it, the majority flap their wings; jostling for position on the bone. They don’t seem satisfied. Their ravenous eyes look beyond us, just offshore at the children splashing a few meters out…


Washed Ashore
Joseph A. Pinto

Once, I provided you shelter. Once, I held your world aloft. I am but part of the tidewrack now, splintered from my whole. You have found use for me; I am thankful for that much. A waystation for others to defecate upon.

Yes, you have found much use.

Leave me to the elements, to the rising chorus of jeers. I recognize I am your running joke. One day, perhaps, the beauty will be found within me. Until then, I await the rising tide. To be drawn away with the rest of the rubbish; to deeper seas; to grander isles.


Deep Sleep
Zack Kullis

He was God on his Virginia class submarine. Sailors frequently joked about the captain’s eccentricities, strange books, and old spear gun. Once out to sea, the poison killed them all quickly. 133 sailors sprawled across their watery tomb, the smell of wretch filled the tight quarters. He entered the command center shirtless, the Albatross tattoo breathing as evenly as he did, and pointed the spear gun at a temporary survivor. The sailor choked on frothy bile as he fumbled for the radio, but the spear gun spoke quickly. His blood flowed brightly as his eyes dimmed.

“God bids thee sleep.”


My Gift
Hunter Shea

He’s not where he’s supposed to be.
Salt air crusts my hair. The sun so bright, it hurts my skin.
How long have I been wandering here?
No, not wandering. Searching. I know where I am. I know why I’m here. I have a purpose.
To find him.
He came to me upon a wave, a swollen offering from the churning brown sea. A secret I could share with no one.
For the merman was mine. Dazed, I hid my gift from prying eyes.
Gulls shriek. Gathering. Feeding. Fighting over…
My merman!
His eyes, his lips, his gills. All gone.


Treasure Hunter
Tyr Kieran

I wandered the beach often, waiving my metal detector from side to side, desperate to find something that could change my painfully dull existence. One fall morning, it happened. I found some valuables buried two feet down. They were still around the fingers of a murdered woman. The maw of her slit throat was packed with pinkish sand and tiny burrowing crabs. Yet, it didn’t disturb or discourage me. The sight of her fascinated me more than any girl before. I visited her often, digging each time with anticipation. She’s taught me a valuable lesson: don’t bury them, sink them.


Dissolution
Lee A. Forman

Will sits on the driftwood watching creatures take flight, wishing he could join. I’m a man condemned to nothingness, he thinks. Death is fickle; too much time to suffer, not enough time to live.

As he runs his hand along the log’s surface sludge coats his palm. The viscous liquid moves of its own volition, traveling up his arm. Nerves alight as the slime penetrates his being, driving itself deep inside.

Life feeds. Life dies.

The ooze coalesces with Will’s skin; his body loses cohesion. The remaining gelatinous flesh seeps into the ancient wood, sustenance for the primordial hunger within.


Idyllic
Christopher A. Liccardi

Idyllic – it’s what people used to call this place. Now, the only thing to wash up on these black sand beaches are the dead; most parts of the dead anyway. The birds pick and choose the choicest morsels to feed on, leaving whats left to bloat and stink.

If only they would stay dead! Why do they have to get up and shamble across the beach anyway? Fucking rotting tourists is what they are.

The gulls cry out in shrill exuberance with each new visitor. Nobody living visits this beach any longer.

The birds don’t seem to mind, though.


Icarus
Veronica Magenta Nero

The rise was good but the plummet was better. So close, almost close enough to spit in the white hot face of god, before radiating light seared my feathers, sending me spiraling downwards. The impact on water shattered every bone, my patchwork wings were torn. Blood seeped like a twisting lie, staining the ocean red. On the rocking waves I waited patiently for death to free me and lead me through the veil, far away from the cruel touch of the sun. On the shore they flutter and squawk, pleased and satisfied to watch me fall. Little do they know.


Driftwood
Thomas Brown

He stands alone on the beach, waiting for dusk. Behind him, St. Bees is quiet. The shrieks of the gulls fill his head, brush his skin, vibrate the jelly in his bones. Smiling, he cocks his head.

The dunes are empty but soon things will be better. Soon he will fly with the gulls. The rebirth is beginning. Already he feels the first feathers, prickling the underside of his skin.

They find him at dawn, washed up five miles down the coast. Cause of death: drowning. It takes three men to scatter the birds scavenging the flesh from his face.


Fowl Deeds
Nina D’Arcangela

The attack was imminent – we knew it would come from above, though many were lost to the beasts that swim the depths below. We fought with a ferocity that cannot be expressed in words; with the veracity of those who know the fate of an ecosphere rests upon their deeds. Man, ever ignorant of our struggle, watched feebly as destruction swiftly approached on wings far less pallid than our own. Our crusade failed.

Most are gone now. Those who can, rally to take flight one final time. We hold no hope of triumph; only a seething fury for unbridled vengeance.


Each piece of fiction is the copyright of its respective author
and may not be reproduced without prior consent. © Copyright 2016
Image © Copyright Dark Angel Photography. All Rights Reserved.

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Meat and Leather

The high-pitched screams slowly faded to silence in front of him. Using his paring knife as a tool of inspection, he checked his work, turning the glistening, skinless torso from left to right as he watched for any spots he may have missed. The small body rolled with little effort since no limbs remained to inhibit the motion; they were customarily removed for efficiency in the skinning process.

Satisfied, Jeremy pressed the blade to the creature’s neck with increasing pressure until the head squished away from the torso, completing the total dismemberment. He picked up the head by its youthful tuft of dark hair and held it at eye level.

“I hope you enjoyed the pain,” he said to the lifeless eyes staring back at him. “In the end, we’re all just meat and everyone’s gotta eat.”

Jeremy dropped the head into a trash receptacle. With swift slices akin to a Rhoad Island wharfsman he stripped off the meat—separating it from the inedibles—and tossed the pieces into the pot simmering on a can of blue Sterno at the end of his work bench. He then scraped the remnants from his cutting board into the trash, saving only the creature’s wings.

He took great care to clean the blood from his hands before raising the wings overhead, examining them one after another under the fluorescent light fixture with meticulous slowness and delicate handling, searching for tears, punctures, or deformities. The rubbery smooth sensation of the bat’s wings sent a shiver twitching through Jeremy’s body. He closed his eyes, caressed it against his face.

Jeremy trapped the bats for sustenance, but the pleasure he received from their wings kept him from branching out to larger more sustaining animals. There was something visceral about the sensation of leather, of smooth animal skin whispering along his human flesh—it took him to another plane of experience.

Just as Jeremy put down the wings he heard the muffled thumping upstairs that signaled another victim in his trap. He smiled.

“My stew’s getting heartier by the hour.”

Chuckling, Jeremy reached for his Lite beer. He drained the can, slammed it down next to the crimson-stained cutting board, and wiped the remaining drops from his chin with a clean area of his apron.

He skipped up the basement steps and continued on to the second floor, the old wooden staircases creaking with each shift in weight. At the top, he walked down the narrow hall to the far door.

When his parents still lived in the house, still lived at all, it had been a guest bedroom. But, to young Jeremy, it was like a historic monument—a perfectly arranged room that endured untouched as if from the high security of a museum velvet rope. His mother kept the room pristine just in case a distant relative or lost traveler would drop in and need accommodations, but no one ever came.

His parents didn’t venture out much, on the account of their excessive weight, so the family didn’t really have friends. And no sane person would just drive up a two-mile driveway in the Pine Barrens of Southern New Jersey to knock on some stranger’s door. So the room remained quarantined—off limits and untouched.

Often, Jeremy would stare at the closed door, knowing that simply touching the knob would warrant the lashings of father’s belt, but when he stood absolutely still some nights after dinner, with the toothpaste dripping from his lips, he could hear the dull thudding of something trapped in the walls and desperately trying to escape.

It was a mystery that never drifted far from his current thoughts. What was it? How was it trapped? What would it be like to thrash about in futility until exhaustion brought Death’s sickle down that much quicker?

His obsession with solving the mystery compelled him to visit the room time and time again, despite the repeated punishments. After a while, the beatings weren’t even a deterrent; in fact, along the way something changed in him and Jeremy began venturing into that prohibited zone more for the leather belt than his intrigue in the room itself.

The same day he put his parents in the ground, he wrenched the knob and shoved his way into the room. Standing there, for what must have been hours, he soaked up the forbidden realm. Staring at the pineapple patterned wallpaper, the tasseled lamp shades, the maroon fluffed carpet, the massive wooden headboard on the four-post bed, but without the promise of leather-bound pain, it was simply a dull, old-fashioned room.

Jeremy shook his head and turned to leave when a sudden flurry of muffled thumping shattered the silence and buried his disappointment. Adrenaline electrified his nervous system like jumper cables bringing a dead car battery back to life. He scurried throughout the room letting his ears guide him to the source of this lifelong mystery. Pressing the side of his head to the walls and sliding in every direction he eventually pinpointed its location—the chimney stack.

Moments later the room was full of plastic lining, heavy tools, and masonry dust. Jeremy hammered his way to the answer he craved.

The demolition revealed an odd bottleneck design to the home’s chimney. It was an unintentional trap for creatures of the night—an ideal resting place during the day, but too narrow for flight on exit. Bats, upon waking at dusk, would feel trapped and bludgeon themselves against the brick structure trying to escape.

Laying on a small ledge in this bottleneck, were several tiny carcasses; one of which was still fresh. Jeremy cradled the corpse in his hands. He could sympathize with the winged mammal’s plight. He too had been trapped by this constricting house. Emotion welled in his eyes.

On the verge of vowing to cement the trap away and close off the entire chimney forever, he stopped abruptly in mid thought. His widening eyes tilted down to look at his hands. Lost in his head, he hadn’t realized his fingers were rubbing the bat’s wings like a child absentmindedly working a worry stone. The sensation brought full understanding to him, not just with what he desired, but the realization that he was now truly free to do as he wished.

Over the next few days he worked hard to enclose the hole in the chimney, but with a new design. He installed a one-way gated trap with an internal door that would allow him access to the captured animal. He tested different baits, from sound frequencies to rotten fruit, luring his winged friends to their doom. It wasn’t long until he was capturing enough of them with regularity to further his own survival and satisfy his unnatural attractions.

Jeremy was on his fourth trip to the chimney that evening. He heard the creature’s thumps from the hall, their frequency diminishing, volume weakening—it was the right time to extract it, to make sure it’d have a bit of life left to feel the blessed pain he would graciously offer. Pain was a gift. He would help his new friend transcend to a better realm.

But before Jeremy could open the door an explosion shook the house, reverberating in the closed room and nearly blowing the door off its hinges. His mind pictured a bolt of lightning striking the old structure and obliterating the chimney. Trembling, he opened the door, pushed past some rubble on the carpet.

Neither the room nor the chimney was as damaged as he’d visualized, but the wall and the chimney stack were bulging into the room with areas of missing brick near the ceiling. Jeremy, inching forward, watched with wide eyes as more bricks fell to the carpet; not as a delayed collapse, but from something moving in the stack. What was a dull thumping before the crash, was now the sounds of confined shifting.

Whatever the fuck it is, it’s much bigger than a bat, Jeremy thought.

He crept onward with an outstretched hand reaching for the trap door. The metal door hung crookedly but was strong enough to stay latched. His fingers danced on the handle until he managed a firm grip. He took a deep breath and pulled.

At first all he saw was darkness. Then he noticed the wet glint of dark eyes just as it started to move again. The shadows spilled out of the opening and Jeremy stumbled backward—his shuffling feet catching on carpet, sending him to the floor.

The dark creature unfolded from the confined space and stood over him.

Jeremy couldn’t comprehend what he saw.

Its two hoofs clumped on the floor as it shifted weight between its furry legs. A forked tail whipped back and forth as the creature eyed him. Two long horns, pronged like antlers nearly scratched the ceiling. An elongated face leaned toward him as its teeth worked up and down. The torn remnants of a bat dripped from the creature’s taloned hand. It snorted and tilted its head.

Then it dropped the bat carcass and screeched at him. The echo was so loud as it sounded through the room that Jeremy’s ears released a trickle of blood.

The large creature stepped toward him and when its massive wings unfurled, Jeremy finally realized the nature of the creature before him.

“Y-you’re real!” The sight of the devil’s wings reaching from wall to wall turned Jeremy’s fear into awe and acceptance. “We’re all just meat, and you need to feed. Take me to a better realm.”

The creature shrieked again and lunged at him.

As teeth tore into his flesh and sharp talons ripped meat from bone, Jeremy clutched to the leathery wings, rubbing them against his face.

~ Tyr Kieran

© Copyright 2016 Tyr Kieran. All Rights Reserved.

Damned Echoes 2

Damnlings, welcome yet again to our lair of insanity where our depraved souls leak their nectar for your consumption…

In the collection of prose set forth before you, you will find each of the authors has been constrained to a measure between one hundred and one hundred fifty words; two of which must be borrowed from the nether’s uttering. But fear not, for the Damned wear our shackles well and true – we shrink from no challenge. Sit, read, perhaps ponder… which two of the five words on offer would you chose for a story worthy of the ink that drips from the Pen of the Damned?

DE_Cloud_02


Not His Own
Jon Olson

The Dark One will be happy with this offering. It lies at my feet, struggling for breath – this man of valor. Sadly for him, no one will remember his name; only his actions. His hands, which under my power killed so many, now claw uselessly at the blood soaked earth. Staring into the sky, his eyes begin to glaze over. It is always closest to death that I can be seen. There is a hint of fear in his dulling orbs as he spots me, then a dawning realization that his actions were not wholly his own. In one quick swoop, I reach into his chest, tear out his soul. This will do nicely. Moving on, I look around the battlefield for the next of His children to inhabit.


Amshu and Nerezza
Lee A. Forman

“Why don’t you leave?”

“Why should I?”

“To inhabit a body for too long is dangerous.”

“Don’t you think I’m aware of that?”

“So why do you stay?”

“Why do you?”

Silence grew, both between life and something that wasn’t quite death—an eternal state of non-corporeal existence.

Nerezza grunted and folded both arms across a bare chest. “I came here first.”

“So shouldn’t you be the first to leave?” Amshu raised an eyebrow.

A smile split the coal expression on Nerezza’s face. “No.”

“Why is that?”

“Darkness is absolute. Light fades.”

“So stay here forever.”

“Maybe I will.”

“Quiet! The child awakens!”

With a groan it rubbed its eyes and sat up. It turned its head left and right, looking for the things born in its nightmares.

“Shall we flip a coin?”

“Don’t we always?” Amshu lowered both eyelids with boredom.

“Heads he lives, tails he dies.”


Allies
Joseph A. Pinto

They dug in, their bones, their charred, brittle bones, hacking the dirt with their spades.

Private McDermott watched as the cadaver platoon fortified their position within the trench.  His Sergeant had notified him help would be arriving, but this…?  A shell exploded nearby, and his sense of valor nearly fled.  He buckled his helmet beneath his chin and dropped into the ditch.

The cadavers worked without sound, just earth and burnt stone grinding within their joints.  Flesh, like tattered curtains, hung from their frames.  Foul, heinous things, McDermott had to remind himself these devil-spawns fought on their side now.

A cadaver leered, each socket a hellish foxhole in its own right.  McDermott recognized its prominent jaw line—Jimmy James.  Together they had seen basic training through.

Now McDermott wondered what was worse—the screaming Nazi mortars or the chattering of hungry teeth inside those damned Allied skulls?


Tomb
Veronica Magenta Nero

The air that seeps in from outside is foul, it is tainted with hope, with sentiments of love. Outside there is a world of false promises and pretty lies. The truth is here, in this dark tomb we inhabit. We were sealed in here long ago. The passing of time has become meaningless, I don’t know how old I am anymore. I remember my mothers’ screams as she punched and clawed at the heavy doors. Those sobs and screams, they still echo within these walls. Perhaps my mother is dead but yet she moves. She passes through the walls at night and she returns to feed me in the morning. Warm blood pours from her mouth into mine. Her eyes glitter, they are the only light I ever see. Soon, her eyes seem to say, soon it will be time to leave.


RMS Valor
Thomas Brown

A ripe smell washed over the docks; the sickly aroma of decay. For two hours Mark patrolled the boards, the scattered stores, the shipyard and the steel skeleton of RMS Bravery, chained to the ceilings and the walls. The smell was stronger here; he ducked beneath vast iron ribs, inspected rows of sheet metal, kicked at the crabs who had come to inhabit the dank spaces between these things: nothing.

It was almost midnight when the ship parted the mists. She moved silently, her savage plow cutting clean through the waves. She brought with her the smell. Sitting at his desk, Mark gagged, dropped his pen, did a double-take when her name slid into view: RMS Valor, one year lost to the ocean bed, still wreathed in slime, deck crawling with the lobster-limbs of her new monster crew.


Too late
Zack Kullis

Dust motes floated through the stale air like pallid balloons on a lifeless breeze. Everything had been undisturbed for far too long. How could one such as he, born of noble blood and ancient valor, stoop to inhabit such a foul and loathsome place? Dmitri bowed his head and pressed forward. His father should have reposed in the Vvedenskoye crypt in Moscow with the rest of his kin.

Dmitri passed through the room without disturbing the dust-covered floors. The cement lid to the tomb lie broken on the floor. He was too late. He smelled the wood of the steak before he saw it. The undead wither and become undone rather than die, and what had been his father lie within the tomb. Dmitri picked up the steak, smelled it, and knew where to take his revenge.


Those That Make The Rules
Tyr Kieran

Surrounded by blood and spoiled dreams, I surveyed the land. The ground squirmed with the dying youth—drafted teenagers ripped apart by merciless gears of the war machine. I watched as they clutched at their gore and twitched in agony. The world’s future facing a painful lack thereof simply because they were told to by those that make the rules. What a fucking joke! Foul logic cooked up and served in heaping mouthfuls to kids too blinded by their own testosterone and sense of rebellion to see the truth of it all. Their blood dripped from my fingers. Their last cries echoed in my ears. I survived. I killed under orders in what they deemed efforts of valor. Slaughter, something that would be utterly horrific at home on the suburban cul-de-sacs, was called valiant. Now, I see the cogs in the machine and I will kill for them no more.


Dying Breath
Christopher A. Liccardi

“Valor above all else,” he repeated to himself. The knife plunged deep into his gut was unnoticed. Those who inhabit the dark places often find comfort in such noble monikers but this one was different. He perverted the valorous, the brave, with his hate. The last hero lay at his feet, panting as much from fear as exhaustion. He wore the triumphant grin of those who think that killing a single person can thwart evil.

“That blade was dipped in poison, you bastard,” the hero panted. Blood and spittle flew from the corners of his mouth. “Tonight, you die with us.”

Named after his father for more than his looks, Samael’s grin widened as he collapsed to the ground knowing two more would take his place. Two more would pick up where he left off and valor would die along with the last hero.


A Few Steps
Nina D’Arcangela

The ripe stench sickens; the fetid odor enough to raise the bile of the staunchest bastard, yet here is the place I was born – brought into this world of evils and misdeeds. This cracked, filthy slab of concrete served as both my crib and cradle. Did I ask for this life? No. But granted to me, or shall I say more accurately, thrust upon me, it certainly was. I’ve not shied from the mantle presented; I’ve embraced it and its repugnance with the whole of my being. The squalor within which I exist, the distance from this darkened stoop to the brilliance just beyond has never been a burden for my soul to bear. Though when the gates swing wide, and the light blinds these most dim of eyes, I cannot but wonder if another destiny may have awaited me had she held her birthing fluids a few steps farther…


Each piece of fiction is the copyright of its respective author
and may not be reproduced without prior consent. © Copyright 2016
Image © Copyright Dark Angel Photography. All Rights Reserved.

Controlled

Letters and symbols vibrated on the screen—C# programming conditions that barely made sense to him anymore. Blinking, he tried to halt their rebellious dance, but each moment of blissful darkness brought Mel that much closer to involuntary shutdown. He’d never gone twenty-two hours straight before, nor beyond a ninety-hour work week, but here he was.

The clock in the lower corner reminded him that this sleep-deprived torture was far from over. 6:58AM. Brad’s Lexus would be parking across two visitor spaces out front by now. His entrance was always a whirlwind of douche-baggery.

Moments later, the boss stormed off the elevator, his briefcase swinging wildly as his heavy footfalls stopped at Sheryl’s desk. She looked up at him with half-squinted eyes, as if anticipating the full force of Brad’s backhand. Sheryl was new, only employed since the second quarter began, but she’d been around long enough to experience the worst. He must have something on her too, Mel thought as he peeked over the low cubical wall, otherwise why would she put up with this?

“Good morning, Sir,” she said.

“Don’t just sit there on your fat ass like you’re at home surfing Pinterest for your recipe wishlist, get me the latest shareholder’s report, the morning paper, and the status report for the Streamline project.”

Brad’s verbal barrage didn’t stop there. His demands and insults continued as he marched down the hall to his office, stopping for a moment as he reached his desk. He flopped the briefcase down, shaking the glass walls surrounding him, and sighed in a dramatic exhale. “For fuck’s sake, Sheryl. Where’s my double-espresso latte? You know I need it ready by 7AM.”

With an expletive of her own, she hurried off to the break room to fulfill his request.

Mel kept his head down, preparing himself for the inevitable summoning.

“Code-monkey,” Brad shouted. “Get in here.”

Mel rubbed his face in a brisk motion—trying to wipe the stress away—before shuffling into his bosses’ office. After squeezing into the chair Brad was crowding from his perch atop the desk, Mel stared down at his hands. Despite feeling cold and numb, as they usually did after long bouts of typing, they were sweating. Mel tucked his hands under his thighs for warmth just as Brad opened the discussion.

“How much farther did you get last night?”

“I scripted most of the control statements and I’m close to completing a prototype shell of the app, but as I said before we have to confirm the core attributes before—”

“We talked about this, Mel,” Brad said, tossing his hands. “Just get it done, we’re on a tight deadline.”

“I understand that, Sir. But, we cannot guarantee anything without—”

“Whoa! What the fuck, Mel? Don’t ever mention guarantees; they lead to lawsuits.” Brad punctuated his command with a sharp slap to the back of Mel’s skull.

The strike froze him for a moment; shoulders raised, eyes squinted, mouth half-agape in mid-syllable.  Then Mel reset his posture with slow resignation—funneling all his frustration into a moment of gritted teeth that his dentist would surely complain about at his next appointment.

Unsheathing his hands, he offered them up in placation, hoping to dampen his boss’s fuse as he explained further. “Sorry, Sir. I hear what you’re saying, but without defining all the client specifics like intended application interaction or even required platform compatibility, we’re setting ourselves up for massive revisions. If I could only have a conversation directly with the client, I think—”

“No!” Brad shouted at him, thrusting a finger in his face. “Leave the thinking to me. I manage the clients. You do the programming. Got it?”

Sheryl bustled into the room and, with great care, placed a large cup of coffee on Brad’s desk behind them.

Brad turned and stared her down, annoyed eyes screaming about her ill-timed entrance. Taking his meaning, Sheryl slunk out of the room, visually cringing from the attention, but not before exchanging a quick glance of understanding with Mel.

Maintaining his ocular assault, Brad picked up the tall cup and sipped.

“Sheryl, dear?” he called after her.

She turned.

“This is liquid-shit and you’re fired.” Despite Brad’s calm, Mel winced at the statement. Sheryl was a nice, intelligent woman. She didn’t deserve to be fired over coffee, let alone catering to mundane requests in the first place. The change of job might benefit her in the end, but it would still hurt. Sheryl had two daughters to care for and this salary was her only means of putting food in their fridge.

Sheryl’s mouth fell open, and before she turned away, Mel saw tears already streaming from her eyes. He clenched his fists. His cold fingers now pulsed with a swollen heat, the same sensation that stoked his gut with a churning energy.

“Mel,” Brad cooed, feigning compassion while he perched on the edge of his desk. “The project scope isn’t going to change until we show the prototype and we don’t have the budget for extensive revisions, so get it done and do it right the first time… am I understood?”

Mel seethed in silence—a furious bouncing of the right leg, white knuckled fists, and longer, deeper breathing.

“I needn’t remind you that my father owns Maven Digital Media. Your poor mother’s position might be eliminated if suggestions are made for leaner operations.”

The sound of Brad’s voice seemed distant behind the maddening rush of blood pulsing through Mel’s body. Accelerated breaths pressured out his nose like a show-prepped bull in Madrid’s main arena.

“Oh, and I talked to the client on the way in this morning.” Brad continued, leaning closer. “Due to competitive market pressures, I had to shorten the deadline by another week to keep them happy.”

Mel’s jaw cried out, threatening to strain muscles or chip teeth. The voice in the room was nearly washed out by the white-hot torrent surging through his mind. A rising growl started to form in his throat.

“…don’t care if you sleep under your desk, you’re going to—”

“Shut up!” Mel screamed, releasing the words at full volume. They reverberated off the office walls as Brad fell silent in their wake.

His boss phased through multiple emotions in a matter of seconds: from clenched anger, to confusion and finally landing on pale disbelief.

Mel watched him. What was he doing? Where was the predictable backlash?

Still emboldened from his rage, Mel prodded. “Well?”

His boss remained silent. Beads of sweat formed across his brow above an expression that Mel had never seen from him before. Still, no reply.

“Say something!” Mel conceded.

“Ghw-wha da fuck did you do to me?” Brad touched his throat and sucked air as if someone had been choking him.

“Huh?”

“I couldn’t talk.” Brad explained, fumbling the words between breaths. “I—I tried but nothing came out. You did something to me. Did you poison my coffee?!”

Mel, more frustrated and confused than anything else, splayed his fingers incredulously.

“What? I didn’t do anything to you. I just told you to shut… up.” As the words fell from his mouth, a crazy, sleep-deprived thought popped into his head. No sane person would ever consider it to be possible, but sanity was a foreign state on days like this, in work environments like this.

Mel needed to know. Brad was still complaining, when Mel spoke again.

“Brad, be quiet please.” He said causally, barely audible over his boss’s ramblings—ramblings that suddenly halted.

Mel’s eyes popped wide. So did Brad’s.

“Grab your index finger in one hand,” Mel said, dishing an order that would irrefutably prove his illogical theory, “…and break it!”

His boss’s eyes somehow opened even wider as his right hand clasped his left index finger. While frantically shaking his head against his own actions, Brad bent his finger backward until there was an audible snap. A muffled cry leaked out of his sealed lips.

Mel shot to his feet—his chair toppling over backward—and clutched his head with both hands, as if to keep his mind contained; to keep it from exploding. “What the fuck?”

Hearing the commotion, Sheryl rushed into the office, still holding a box of her personal effects. Her gaze of confusion shifted back and forth between the men.

Mel turned to her, “Wait there… you gotta hear this.”

She didn’t budge.

“Brad,” Mel said firmly. “Pick up your coffee and pour it on your head.

He did. Again, he cried out a muffled whimper of pain. His soaked shirt steamed.

Sheryl’s mouth fell open.

Mel grinned.

It was a smile that told of much more than humor. It was wider than normal and yet still concealed his teeth. It reeked more of foreshadowed mischief than of satisfaction. It was a smile that would make others uneasy, but Sheryl, in this odd moment in time, found it comforting.

“Brad, apologize to Sheryl. Rescind her termination and offer her a fifty percent raise.”

He did, despite an expression of great struggle—words sloppy from forced syllables. His complexion reddening as veins bulged in his neck and forehead.

She accepted with a nervous laugh.

“It’s okay.” Mel said to her. “It’s true. Go ahead and unpack your things.”

She left the room with a smile on her face.

“Now. Here’s how it’s going to go,” Mel instructed.

“You’re going to forget my mother completely. You’re going to hire at least two more programmers to work under my management. You’re going to give me a fifty percent raise and you’re going to allow me to communicate directly with clients during project planning. Oh, and you’re going to stay out of my business. Got it?”

Brad nodded with such force that he might have earned a mild concussion.

“Oh, and if you deviate from my wishes at any time,” Mel said, narrowing his eyes. “I’ll tell you to slit your own throat.

“And, just so you don’t think I’m bluffing… break another finger.”

Brad did as he was told.

~ Tyr Kieran

© Copyright 2016 Tyr Kieran. All Rights Reserved.

Damned Echoes

Ahhh Damnlings, into our realm of darkness you have wandered once more. A realm where words twist on the wind, and morals gain no purchase…

In the collection of prose set forth before you, you will find each of the authors has been constrained to a measure of one hundred to one hundred fifty words; two of which must be borrowed from the nether’s uttering. But fear not, for the Damned wear our shackles well and true – we shrink from no challenge. Sit, read, perhaps ponder… which two of the five words on offer would you chose to sacrifice for a story worthy of the ink that drips from the Pen of the Damned?

Why a sacrifice? You will never hear them Echoed again!

 

DE01_Cloud

 


My Mind Screams
Jon Olson

My old fishing boat, the Extant, rocks unsteady beneath my feet. I struggle to catch my breath — difficult after stealing something else’s last. Blood runs down the wrench in my hand, dropping off onto the floor already wet from the carcass curled against the wall. Even in the dim cabin light, I am repulsed by this abomination of nature; the unnatural pulled up from the depths in my fishing net. Its skin glistens, almost amphibious, but completely alien. Somewhere in the mass of flesh, bone and gore are its eyes; black, unemotional and lifeless. My mind screams, unable to comprehend the events that transpired. Grabbing a spare gas can, I douse the body. With a flick of my lighter, the ungodly is engulfed – burning its existence from my mind.


Fetid Hunger
Lee A. Forman

Bound to a chair in the center of a dark room I sit. Countless eyes stare, their yellow glow peering through thin slits in the ebony veil which encircles me. Hope of escape—fleeting, lost; I try to focus on the steady drip of rainwater from the ceiling, the only thing keeping me extant.

They blink in the hushed air, each subtle movement accompanied by a soft squish—a sound not human. I don’t know what beasts hide in the shadowy corners of this strange and unfamiliar chamber. I have yet to see them. Even their shape is a mystery.

Only thing I am aware of is their hunger. They reek of it. I don’t know how long it will be until they tear into me and begin to feast. But from the stench of their breath, I know it will be soon.


Pandemic
Zack Kullis

“….. no interim procedure for eradicating ……”

Dr. Livingston’s eyes glided numbly over the words. She liked simplicity, and this pretentious document could have been reduced to a few sentences. The cell-repairing microbes they created to combat the aging process mutated shortly after they were introduced to the general population. The Guardian Strain became a pandemic.

She looked at her bloody hands. As with millions of other infected, the cellular walls of her organs bloated with the infection, swelling with puss and blood before splitting open like roadkill in the heat.

Dr. Livingston touched the package her colleague sent, her sausage-like fingers leaving a trail of smelly ichor across the box. The blood-stained note was written in shaky handwriting.

“Cure”

Her trembling hand reached up and placed the only cure into her mouth. Ironically, the treatment did in fact come from a shot, she thought as she squeezed the trigger.


The Price
Joseph Pinto

“There.  You see it, now?  You see?”

Indeed, I did.  One of only two extant copies known to man.  There it lay beneath the glass.  “How did you gain such a—”

He waved me off.  “Does it matter?” sucking on his Gurkha Black Dragon, appreciating the white tendrils curling round the cigar’s tip.  “What matters is that I have it.  What matters is that it can be yours…if you’ve acquired its cost.”

“I have.”  I knew my associate’s fondness for cigars.  I knew his affinity for a virgin’s eyes even more.  I handed over my satchel, his fee exquisitely stored inside.  He parted his mouth; the peppery finish of his cigar wafted, tickling my nose.  Then he pitched forward, the strain I had swabbed along his cigar’s head seizing his heart.

I took my priceless manuscript.  I took back the sightless eyes.

I left him to his cigar.


The Wailing
Magenta Nero

I noticed the church while driving through drab countryside. I pulled over to look around. I was surprised by the age of the building, the yellow sandstone was coated with moss, crumbling grey headstones littered the churchyard. The wooden doors were locked but I managed to wrench them open. Dim light shone through the small stained glass windows, the air was thick with dust. Slowly I walked the aisle, glancing around as my eyes adjusted. I froze suddenly, spotting the draped figure that stood before the altar. It wore a long dress with a tattered train of ghostly lace. I heard the sound of faint sobbing. It turned towards me. With hands of blackened skin it lifted its veil and fixed me with a rotten stare. The wailing began and I fell to my knees, struck by the bitter heartbreak only the dead can know.


Mistaken
Tyr Kieran

I tried to tell him. My words started in a hasty shout, the syllables tripping over themselves as I shoved them past my chapped lips. It sounded all wrong. I couldn’t even recognize the words myself. Lack of water in these scorched days has left my mouth and throat so damned dry. With precious little time at hand, I strain, trying again, forcing my tacky tongue to dislodge and shape the sounds, yet it only rolls and twitches like a dying slug. The cold lightening of panic surges through me, lifting my heavy eyelids, raising my outstretched hands, but nothing can stop the downward arc of his weapon. The massive wrench is the last thing I see—stealing my sight on the first catastrophic blow. Warm blood wets my throat just enough for my plea to gain sound as everything fades to eternal darkness, “Not a Zombie”.


Judgement Day
Thomas Brown

On the last day of summer, the dead rose from their rest in the earth. He watched from his treehouse while they emerged. Thin bone. Domed skulls. Clenched hands unfurling like flowers in the morning.

There was nothing hurried about their efforts. They staggered to their feet, stretched, shed old skin and loose soil. When his Action Man fell to the floorboards, he imagined he could hear the creak of their necks as they stared skyward.

It took them hours to climb the tree. Fingers without tips wrenched slugs of grey bark. He watched them until he couldn’t bear to watch them anymore then dragged himself and a blanket into the corner.

It was dark when they finally reached him. She had on a veil; black, backlit with luminescent eyes. Even as she crawled closer, he wondered where his parents were, and when they were going to rescue him.


Perfect
Christopher A. Liccardi

In its extant, this was nothing new. It was strong though. It hadn’t been seen in ages not because it was weak, but because it was fast. This strain moved quicker than anything else they had ever seen.

“What are we going to do, Doctor Lee?”

Lee, an experienced viral biologist crushed what would probably be his final cigarette and stared though the haze of blue smoke. A pause…

“First, we die Janine. Then, we come back.”

“I don’t want to come back.”

“Actually, it’s as perfect as you could ever be. Complete harmony between the living and the dead. You’d be not alive, and yet mortally perfect. Besides, you don’t have much of a choice.”

“Do we have to drop it on the city?” Her voice quavered the slightest bit.

“We do but it won’t matter where you are in a few hours.”


Revelation
Nina D’Arcangela

Like the maelstrom that swept in her tide, she swirled with a tempest of fate. Those before her attempted to flee; begged forgiveness for their evils. Misunderstood lives, unappreciated deeds, this lot unaware the veil had thinned solely to allow their pardon. Gleaming ebony skin that smoldered of embers left to flame, she bore down upon them with brutality unknown to these worthy heathens. Necks twisted most unnatural, bodies rent of their companion cog and spokes, these children of misdirection now granted reward for actions unprovoked yet savored by that which waits. As claws struck and teeth ripped, screams wailed the song of souls unburdened. Mother to the immoral, sister of the dishonest, beacon for the misguided, she stilled as the slop of her task struck a final note. More would come, born of those who kneel in perverse fealty. In the interim, the void of silence stirred her home.


Each piece of fiction is the sole copyright of its respective author
and may not be reproduced without prior consent. © Copyright 2016

Damned Words 16

DamnedWords_16

Fading
Christopher Liccardi

Mitchell sits on its broken foam seat, feeling the pain diminish. Blood loss pulls him from his cares and worries. He can feel his hands slipping from the sides of the chair. His choice was made by another, but not the one holding the blade. It was the demon in the chair that made the choice. It spoke to him and told him what it needed; more blood. He closed his eyes and the voice faded until it was a whisper. The last thought on Mitchell’s mind wasn’t death, but the chair. Who would feed it once he was gone?


Barbaric Elegance
Jon Olson

Nothing like this had ever been found before; the diggers unsure of their discovery. What is it? Excitement, confusion and terror glisten in their eyes. Months spent sifting through rubble, burrowing into the past with little to show for it; very few indications or evidence to reward our labor. Today, we find this: elegance crafted by the barbaric. Its craftsmen, the humans, all but erased from history; consumed by extinction. Is it safe? There’s nothing to fear, yet reassurance is met with hesitation. Like the others, it will be cataloged and destroyed; recorded and wiped from existence like its makers.


Metamorphosis
Zack Kullis

There was nothing quite as perfect as the spoiled beauty of the fetid and rancid.  Everything his eyes touched was painted with the distinct colors of decomposition’s palette.  It took him years to fill his sub-basement with thoughtfully selected detritus that would breed the corruption and blight he so loved.

Nearly a decade of carefully chosen carcasses littered the floor, blessing this place with their funk and ghastly splendor.  It was perfect but for one thing – himself.  He clamped his eyes open and shackled his hands to the chair.  Death would not keep him from watching his own loathsome metamorphosis.


Throne
Magenta Nero

Death has long since swallowed him whole but he believes himself to be living. His face is shrunken, folded upon itself, closed like a flower at dusk. His eyes are ringed with grey. Pain wrestles with his body as he lies in bed. Each morning he rises, dragging his disease ridden leg behind him.

Born of clay, with the pride of kings, he judges all and pardons nothing. He survives alone. One by one he has severed all ties with the living, unable to forgive or forget. All that remains is the vision of a throne, righteous amongst the clouds.


No Work, All Play
Joseph A. Pinto

Interment had delayed my work.

Comprised only of broken rock and lost time, my resting place had been disturbed in dubious fashion. Ignorant thrill seekers they were, tipping bottles to mouth. One stumbled callously into my chair.

Stepping from decades of grit, my straight razor I drew. I had forgotten the power of my blade. But it had not forgotten the power mine.

Throat utilized as strop to steel, his blood made me whole to the world again. Within the deep gloss finish of the blade, I admired my reflection.

“Handsome devil,” I crooned and busied myself in his lather.


Delusion of Freewill
Nina D’Arcangela

This is the place I was born. Not brought into the world, but given life; purpose. Society could no longer sustain the delusion of freewill. It had become a blight; a poison that corroded the beast from within. No, this world was not intended for choice, it needed structure, guidance; a singular hand to rein it. I succumbed to that hand. Strapped to the chair, current charred my flesh, molded my mind until I became a drone; re-purposed for the greater good.

Born again as a bone man I had but one task – pick amongst the piles of the dead.


Under The Knife
Thomas Brown

He came here last year for Botox. Funny how they find their way back. Rotten cats, retracing old steps. Stumbling onto the chair, she flails, snatching a scalpel from the steel tray.

Decay has done terrible things to the man’s features but she remembers him. His Tie Dye shirt, green Crocks, the way he’d smiled when she’d fixed his forehead.

He is still smiling now. A shovel has seen to that; his lips red and wet. They all look happy, dead and indifferent. He looms over her, hands outstretched. Smiling back at him, she takes the scalpel to her throat.


Home, Sweet Broken Home
Tyr Kieran

I smile at the chair, despite its imperfections—rusted metal, cracked leather, speckles of dried blood—it’s the only thing that feels like home. Sitting on its cool leather so many years ago, I had my first conflicted taste of solid food. From diapers to teenage acne, this chair held me for many forced meals and brutal punishments. I only tasted freedom for a few moments annually, on my birthday—the only gift my mother ever granted. Eventually, I outgrew the chair and captivity. Now, to help celebrate my birthday, Mother is the one temporarily freed of the chair’s confines.


Each piece of fiction is the copyright of its respective author
and may not be reproduced without prior consent. © Copyright 2016
Image © Copyright Dark Angel Photography. All Rights Reserved.

In The Eyes Of A Victim

He waits behind the crowd, swaying in a corner—visible, yet perfectly forgettable. His incoherent mumbling is as much a disguise as the layers of filth he stole from the corpse of a homeless man only a few hours earlier. The corpse, when alive, had spent most of its time begging for change in the very spot this impostor now stood—both shuffling feet and jingling coins in a cup.

The bustle of men and women blindly swarms past, cramming onto the subway platform with a narrow, narcissistic awareness. Hot gusts of air swirl through the tiled alcove as trains rumble along distant rails, pushing and pulling putrid fumes that nearly mask the scent of urine on the man’s clothes.

I watch as he watches.

His eyes flit from face to face, searching for the right one, the right moment.

A train arrives in a whirlwind of garbage and air pressure. The crowd tenses, impatient with unopened doors as the transport slows. When the train finally stops, it releases a horrific screech like the piercing wail of elephants at slaughter. The sound ricochets off the tile walls as the vessel sets free its detained occupants. Squeezing past one another, the new commuters fill the train beyond capacity and abandon a few on the fringe. With a faltering chime, the entourage departs. One of the forsaken hurls obscenities before jogging back up the steps to find another route home.

For the moment, two would-be passengers remain on the platform. The practicing beggar continues his feigned self-involvement while venturing further from the wall. I believe we both sense the moment ripen as a young man scuffles back to a bench, delves into his smartphone—earbuds and all—isolating the final commuter.

A young woman stands alone, gazing down the tunnel that will deliver the next train. Her appearance and demeanor seem average until I glimpse her blue eyes. Beautiful, yes, but they hold the light to which killers flock: fear.

I see him, with such subtle motion, skulk his way to the girl. Her head turns toward the movement, or possibly the smell, just as he makes his move. Those anxious eyes pop open to their fullest, quivering, clamoring—fueling her attacker. With a hand clamped over her mouth and a firm arm locking hers in place, he yanks the girl around the corner and out of sight.

This is it; the moment I’ve been waiting for. Over seven months of surveillance to finally catch him in the act. Today is my day!

My body tingles with cool adrenaline as I leave my perch to follow. Traversing the platform, I search for potential witnesses. None.

He is good.

I hear the next rush of commuters spilling down the steps and into the station behind me as I slip around the corner in pursuit.

Down a ladder at the end of a service ledge, I follow his path along the tunnel. Darkness swarms me after a few paces. The distant percussion serves as a constant reminder of the next train’s inevitable approach. Urging my legs beyond their usual lope but trying to remain cautious in my footing, I hurry toward the intersection ahead. Green utility lights mounted on the tunnel ceiling casts the open crossroad in faint light that seems to accentuate the garbage, filth, and overall disrepair as if it’s the emerald city that time forgot.

There has to be an old storage locker or maintenance room here; it’d be the type of place he would use as his ‘art’ studio—an enclosed space, full of useful items, and near the echoing rumble of subway cars that mask the inevitable screams.

Scanning through the murk, I spot the entrance a few yards away in one of the connecting tunnels. It takes a few moments of stepping over rails, refuse, and even the rotting corpse of a mangled dog to arrive at the door.

I stand there for a moment, staring at the threshold, catching my breath and collecting my thoughts. Two muffled voices float through the barrier, one significantly more than the other.

Gently squeezing the cold metal latch, I confirm my suspicion and set to work with my picking tools. Wincing at each little click, I manage to unlock the door without hearing changes within.

After a deep breath, I draw my weapon and creep inside.

The walls are lined with supplies for both cleaning and electrical repairs; the odor of ammonia is prominent. A breaker box stares me in the face from the far wall before the space takes a ninety-degree turn. I ease the door shut behind me and strafe around the corner with my gun level.

His back is to me as he attends to the victim. She’s restrained; wrists and ankles handcuffed to steel conduits jutting from the wall; an oily rag used tightly as a gag. Her blouse is ripped open; a shallow cut glistens between her breasts. The woman notices me first—her eyes widen in a silent plea. Her shift in expression must have alerted him as his knife stalls in mid-slice along her cheek.

“Freeze!” I shout. “Lower your weapon.”

The man turns slowly, shoulders slumped, hands out in placation; but once he sees me, his demeanor shifts. “Who the fuck are you?”

“The man who’s watched you long enough to know everything, Mr. Barton.”

“You don’t look like a cop, old man. You a detective?”

“Does it matter?”

He eyes me up for a moment. Sweat rolls down his brow. “Are you gonna arrest me or not?”

“Me? No.” I reply, lowering my gun. “But whether you still end up in jail tonight depends on you.”

A raised expression of surprise washes over both captor and victim.

I continue. “My name is Owen Dunning and I’m in the market for a new vendor. I need a man of your interests and abilities—I want something that you can provide.”

“Like what, exactly?”

“Human organs.”

The woman screams into her gag and struggles with the handcuffs, rattling them against the pipes.

Mr. Barton silences her with the back of his hand and her body drops. Motionless, she hangs from her restraints as he returns to the conversation.

“You want me to sell you body parts from my victims?”

“Yes. But don’t worry, my needs won’t interfere with your…art.”

“Why don’t you just buy from the morgue, or something?”

“Come now, Barton. Do I look like a desperate idiot? I’m an aficionado. I demand quality and freshness.”

He stares at me for a moment, a long gaze across the bridge of his nose. “An aficionado, huh? These’re souvenirs…for a collector?”

“No. Rare delicacies for a connoisseur.”

Another stare, but this time his expression has the air of inquiry rather than apprehension.

“In exchange for my requested cuts,” I explain, “I offer you generous payment to fund your operation and my assistance in maintaining your freedom and anonymity. Do we have a deal?”

“Deal.”

I produce an envelope full of cash and hand it to him.

He accepts it with a Cheshire grin. “What’s your first order, Mr. Dunning?”

“I want to taste her soul—taste her fear. Those blue eyes of hers would be divine.”

~ Tyr Kieran

© Copyright 2015 Tyr Kieran. All Rights Reserved.

Damned Words 15

DamnedWords_15

Rusted Relics
Jon Olson

Are they gone? The Creepers I mean? Fuck that was close. Too close. Shit, they almost got me. Cold-blooded bastards. They’re most active in the sun, yet you ventured out in daylight. We can’t take any more chances; there are so few of us left now. At one time, we were many; powerful and dominant. Then the Creepers came. Their war with us was quick; brutal; unrelenting; genocidal. These old war machines, these rusted relics, once a source of pride in our dominance, now gravestones of a dying civilization. Grim reminders of what we were and of what we’ve become.


Delirium
Zack Kullis

Delirium from the dehydration twisted his worst memory to the sweetest- the blood.  The fall into the abandoned coal pulverizer broke his back and legs, but the compound fracture in his left leg covered his face with blood.  Warm, wet blood.  What had once been nausea was now thirst and desperation.

Upside down, he raised the jagged piece of iron with his last bit of strength and plunged it into his gut, and salvation flowed with damnation.  He gulped savagely until something plugged the wound.  His fury turned to gluttony, for he had found something meaty to eat as well.


Footsteps
Magenta Nero

I hear footsteps approaching with a dull, heavy thud. Always the same footsteps. Big boots with steel capped heels. I squeeze further back into the black corner. I shun the light that streaks through the bars in a fan of gleaming dust. The footsteps stop. There’s a rustle of paper. He hurls it into my cell; a sandwich.  Always the same; a thin slice of processed meat between heavily buttered white bread. It lands in a puddle of dirty water. I never touch them but the rats do. They will come during the night, squeaking as they crawl through the bars.


Laughter
Christopher A. Liccardi

The smelling salts brought him back to his situation and the clarity of the thing in front of him. His hands ached; pinned overhead with the dagger. His thick calf muscle screamed.  He was with the other woman, then…

“Rumor has it, you like to fuck. Me too.” His wife’s voice tittered as she stepped into the light. The thing’s steel finger bore down, tearing flesh from bone. Pain exploded in to him. He could see her in the gloom, licking her lips and laughing.

In the end, it wasn’t the agony, but her laughter escorting him to his death.


God-Given Seed
Thomas Brown

We tried everything but they kept coming. Nothing would drive them off except when Pa took to the fields. “Don’t play in the corn,” he’d say. We’d watch from the first-floor window, scythe bobbing, glinting in the light, scattering the birds like dark clouds into the sky.

When Pa died, there was no stopping them. We went hungry that year. The one afterwards we brought him back. Sticks and straw, all trussed up high, old scythe stitched to his paw. Now the birds are the least of our worries. “Don’t play in the corn,” he’d say. We keep well clear.


Of A New Age
Joseph A. Pinto

We are all as one, she said, and the great wheelwork spun behind her eyes.  It bore into me, that horrible flaking of rust, the anguished drumming of the mechanism she was, and still, I would have followed her anywhere.  Into the mouth of the machine, she said.  Yes, into the mouth of madness.  I cuffed my sleeves and exhaled, watching her shudder like an awakening beast as she gathered steam.  She was right.  We are all as one.  I closed my eyes and finally, surrendered.  Extending my hand, she took me, and shorn me as she had been shorn.


Sufferance
Nina D’Arcangela

It churned along, belching foul, oily smoke into the already smothered atmosphere. Where it roamed, nothing was left; not animal, nor tree, or blade of grass – it consumed all. Nothing could withstand the creature’s path. Many generations had passed since we’d lived without fear of this demon; it was a constant in our world. We’d heard rumor of its approach, rumors we’d heard before; this one proved itself true. Crouched in our burrow, we watched in terror as the gnashing iron teeth approached. Just a few feet more – the end so very near. Call me coward, but I welcomed it.


Chomp
Blaze McRob

Metal scrapes against metal, hastening the demise of the already deteriorating structure. From inside the darkened crevices they wake, ready to finish their job. Rust calls to them, sounding a dinner gong. Already, the transformation is happening. Not much of the infrastructure built by humans remains; not many of them remain. Chomp, chomp, chomp. Those who have eaten more than their share are now becoming the eaten. There is no place left for them to hide.

An unlucky one walks beneath the girder at the wrong time. The rust eaters have done their job. The flesh eaters now do theirs.


The Pit
Craig McGray

They’d done it for decades, maybe even centuries. Each full moon, the elders gathered the chosen and brought them to the pit. Eager and naïve, the chosen were led into the forest with hopes of a promising future, dreams of becoming one of the guardians to protect the clan from evil intruders who would dare take them from their home and destroy their way of life. However, true evil comes from within and the elders were pure evil, through and through. Once inside the pit, true intentions were revealed and the elders feasted on the pure innocence of the weak.


Relics of the Old World
Tyr Kieran

Massive machines moored in ancient soil, now unearthed to behold—such barbaric contraptions of whirring gears, sharp slicing appendages, and explosive, rotating turrets. Their victims’ screams and spilled blood now nothing more than faded memories and miniscule footnotes in historical annuals. Moving metal warriors left to rust. Their purpose of aligning world views and beliefs through slaughter, has been long forgotten. But, such effective devices they were! Nothing unifies like fear and power. These sleeping giants, abandoned in their finest hours, have endured. They lie silent… simply waiting for new marching orders. Well, I say, “Rise, and unify us again!”


Each piece of fiction is the copyright of its respective author
and may not be reproduced without prior consent. © Copyright 2015
Image © Copyright Dark Angel Photography. All Rights Reserved.

The Game of Life

Beads of sweat emphasized the early night’s chill along his exposed neck and brow. The Policeman stood on their stoop, shifting his weight as much for warmth as from impatience. After a few brisk moments, a man answered the door.

“Oh… hello, Officer,” the homeowner said, greeting him with large, hesitant eyes. “Is there something I can do for you?”

“I’m terribly sorry to bother you, Sir,” the officer replied. “We have a criminal on the run in this neighborhood, so for everyone’s safety, we’re performing house to house searches. Would you mind?”

“No, not at all. Please, come in.” The man stepped back and ushered the policeman into his home.

The house was warm and full of light. Two faces peered at him from an adjoining dinning room. The officer could smell Christmas dinner before he saw the mouthwatering spread.

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “We’re just taking precautions.”

Then, turning to the father, he asked in a hushed tone, “Is there anyone else in the house?”

The man shook his head, “No, no one.”

The officer nodded and turned back to the family, “Please carry on with your meal. I won’t be long.”

Wide eyes followed the officer as he stalked down the hall, hand on his pistol, weapon at the ready. Room by room, he searched and after a few moments, he confirmed the house was clear.

Returning to the dining area, Officer Mitcheltree stood for a moment. He watched the holiday scene—the small, happy family sharing home cooked food that clung to their souls, laughing as they created a memory for future cherishment; bad puns spoken over poured gravy and steaming roast turkey nestled snug against blended potatoes and acceptable gluttony.

Watching the interaction, hearing the high-pitched innocence of their young daughter, nearly caused the officer to flinch.

The mother was the first to notice the police officer standing there. “Is… everything alright, Officer?”

A silent moment passed, his non-reply thickening the tension in the air.

“W—would you like to join us for dinner?” the father asked.

Sweat collected along the cop’s chin and dripped to the floor. His gaze lingered on each member of the family, their kind offer drowned out by the hammering of his own heartbeat.

With each passing second, concern and confusion creased their expressions further.

Officer Mitcheltree raised his gun, pointing the weapon point blank at the father’s head. Half-lidded eyes unfurled into wide disbelieving orbs. Before any of them could do more than inhale, the officer pulled the trigger.

Blood, skull fragments, and gray matter splattered the table, desecrating the partially carved turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, holiday linens, and the terrified faces. A scream hurled free from the mother’s throat, but the gun’s second bullet deprived her lament of its longevity, jolting her head backward with such force that it dislocated vertebrae in her neck. Dangling, her head hung at an unnatural angle.

When the young girl’s gaze shifted from her dead mother back to the murderous police officer through the haze of fresh tears and fading gun smoke, she found the weapon pointed at her.

Her eyes climbed the barrel to meet his. Tears streamed down their cheeks in unison. The officer squeezed his eyes shut as he squeezed the trigger for the third time.

His face contorted as the hard-clamped humorless grin broke open under the pressure of raw emotion. A loud, guttural yell seemed to burst from every pore, reverberating throughout his body. He fell to his hands and knees and wept in oxygen-starved fits. Many minutes passed until he managed a semblance of composure.

Electronic music chimed from his waist.

He fished a cell phone from his pocket and looked down at the screen:‘Unknown. No Caller ID’.

Officer Mitcheltree touched the answer prompt and waited.

Neither party spoke. Soft sounds of calm breathing and a distant, continuous rumble came across the line – nothing else.

“It’s done,” the officer said, breaking the stalemate. Then, as he fought back another bought of emotion with gritted teeth, he added, “A life for a life.”

“Hmm… Show me.”

“Fuck you!”

“Now, now, Officer Mitcheltree. Be civil.”

“Civil? I did what you asked, now give me back my family, you son of a bitch!” the officer said, spitting into the phone.

“Of course, but first, I need proof of your efforts.”

The officer opened the camera app on his phone and snapped a photo of the morbid scene, then sent it to the number provided.

“I see,” the voice on the other end said. “A life for a life it shall be. We can finalize our exchange in the bowels of Reformation Chapel.”

The policeman’s eyes shifted back and forth as he dug through his memory.

“The abandoned chapel off Farmstead Road? That’s two hours outside of town!”

“And if you hurry, you’ll arrive just in time.”

“Just in time for what?” the officer shouted, but the call had already ended.

***

Officer Mitcheltree stalked down the steps of the old chapel. With the aid of flashing lights and a wailing siren, he was able to make the trek with six minutes to spare; the use of caution was now an option. Gun raised, he reached the bottom to find a narrow walk-through pantry that opened up to a larger room. He padded across the shelf-lined hallway, his eyes searching for movement.

Entering the main room, the officer stalked to the table at its center while twisting and turning to check for threats. The room was still, silent, hot.

He wiped sweat from his brow with a quick brush of his forearm.

“Where are you?” He shouted. “Where’s my family?”

No answer came except for the echo of his own desperate pleas and the clanking of mason jars as he bumped into the table.

Electronic music chimed from his hip.

Again, the screen read: ‘Unknown. No Caller ID’.

Officer Mitcheltree answered the call, “Where’s my family?”

“I have returned them to you in accordance with our arrangement.”

The cop whirled around, searching for his wife and daughter, but there was still no sign of them. “No more games! Where are they?”

“Your answer is on the table.”

Mitcheltree wiped the sweat from his eyes and inspected the items on the table. At first glance, they seemed nothing more than simple canning supplies left out from when the pantry was in operation many years ago, but focused attention revealed that they weren’t covered in dust. One large Mason jar was sealed and full of a gray powdered substance. The other was significantly smaller, open and empty—unused.

The policeman picked up the large jar, hoping to find a note or some kind of clue, but there was nothing else on the table but the two jars. As he brought the phone back up to his ear, prepared to unleash a flurry of threats, something caught his eye.

A piece of masking tape labeled the far side of the tall jar. He read the name as he turned it in his hands, “Mrs. Mitcheltree & Daughter.”

“What the Fuck is this?” he said, breathing the words into the phone—his chest suddenly feeling hotter than the rest of him, his throat tightening. He put the jar down with a loud thunk and backed away.

“A life for a life, Officer.” the kidnapper stated firmly. “I asked for life. A life to save a life. You misinterpreted and provided death.”

The cop’s head swam, the room began to spin; the heat not helping his focus. He stumbled further away from the table. That’s when he spotted the small metal door in the opposite wall. The source of all the heat—a crematory.

“You misunderstood my request, Officer Mitcheltree. You chose death. You killed your family.”

“Oh, God. No!” the policeman cried out; reeling. He fell backward into the shelves. Glass jars clanked together. He turned on instinct; looked with wavering vision at the objects before him.

“If it makes you feel better, you’re not the only one who’s made that mistake.”

Shelf after shelf carried large ash-filled Mason jars with masking tape labels. He couldn’t quite make out the letters, but he knew they were names. Then, he realized each one was paired with a smaller jar also filled and labeled.

“I have a lovely collection, don’t you think?”

This time, the voice echoed—sounding in both ears.

The policeman turned and the last thing he saw was a smiling face and a descending sledgehammer.

~ Tyr Kieran

© Copyright 2015 Tyr Kieran. All Rights Reserved.

Damned Words 14

stone

Empty Stone
Jon Olson

He is weak, the large gash in his stomach slowly killing him, yet he crawls onward. Gripping dirt, the dying man pulls himself closer. His eyes rest upon the stone carvings; upon the angel. There he hopes to feel his lord’s embrace; to feel salvation. Fingertips reach out, touching it, feeling nothing. A groan escapes his lips, morphing into a scream. Pain engulfs his body, growing cold, announcing the arrival of the beast. Any hope of salvation fades as the foul one laughs. It’s just empty stone. Another false idol. Grinning, the foul one tears out the dying man’s throat.


Of god and guise
Joseph A. Pinto

What fear say you?

To which I reply possess no fear, nor cowardice, for that matter. I am of an esoteric order, keeper of the indulger of dust and decay. To my god I owe nothing but respect. I, its dutiful tasker of divine immolation.

Ssh. Agonize not. To your knees. In newfound supplication, your chin now lift. See my god. Know my god. Relish its kiss as to stone I press your cheek.

Let my god eat through grit until grit turns to bone. To flesh. And through your flesh, baptized newly my god once more.

Welcome, my master…


Medusa’s Child
Magenta Nero

With a final shriek it was expelled, I tried to kicked it away. The nurse scooped it up, oblivious to my panic. Tears streamed as I squeezed my eyes shut but I heard it’s first gurgled cry and my resolve melted. Sobbing I turned to face the babe. It was held aloft in gloved hands; a strange, blue wrinkled thing. We both fell silent as our gaze met. Then it began and I watched helplessly as it spread. Fine hairline fractures became deep cracks, it’s wriggling limbs froze. The nurse screamed as my baby crumbled and shattered in her hands.


Rules
by Tyr Kieran

They teach rules with which to govern yourself—defining factors handed down from our creator looking to reward those that act accordingly. Then there’s societal laws, rules made by man and enforced by the same. They pound them into your head from birth. But, they neglect to tell you, it’s a flawed system! Following these rules only leaves you or your loved ones vulnerable to those living of their own accord. One such “rogue” killed my son. Now, I say fuck the system! I’m making my own rules from here on out. Revenge won’t be sweet enough, but it’s mandatory!


Hallowed Be Thy Name
Thomas Brown

The past haunts us like ragged ghosts, like the remembered scent of an old flame. I prayed to Him. For three years I knelt, palm to palm, seeking forgiveness.

“Father, can you hear me?”

It was the thirteenth when He answered. Three years, of tears, upset, not knowing where I fit in. I woke, crusty-eyed, cold. 3am. Moon fat in the sky.

“Hello?”

For the longest time, silence. I was used to this. I began to drift off. Then bedsprings, sudden weight, a whisper in my ear. The Lord smelled a lot to me like wet dog.

“I hear you.”


Innocence Lost
Blaze McRob

The eyes stare out, seeing what they don’t see. He’s been here long enough to see the forest grow up around this place . . . a place meant to elicit oohs and aahs. Apparent youth beams a message of happiness and innocence. Yet not is all as it appears.

Strength lies within the arm of the child, the ruddy bas-relief almost giving it a hairy appearance. The arm of the beast. That’s what the legends say. Stay away at all costs.

Not everyone heeds the words of the wise ones. Self-sacrifice. Unwilling. Final.

The smile spreads wider. The child has been nourished.


Silent Wrath
Craig McGray

Stone statues and distant memories are all that remain of children. Gone are the days of playgrounds filled with joy and laughter, replaced instead by the tears and sorrow of those who cannot let go the thought of holding a child, their bodies unable to produce what they long for. We allowed the world around us to decay into a cesspool of man’s worst traits, ignorant to the consequences of our actions and even more damning was our inaction. Some waited for a violent apocalypse to descend from above. Instead, we received this silent wrath. Soon we’ll all be gone.


Every Other Weekend
Christopher A. Liccardi

“Why do the eyes follow us, Mommy?” The boy asked, rubbing snot from his nose with his sleeve.

“Because someone needs to watch over you. Mommy can’t always keep an eye out. “She knew their time together was short; no longer than a walk to the other end of the cemetery.

“Is this where Daddy lives now?” he asked.

“Yes, it is sweetheart.”

They reached the entrance to the lonely grey slab building. It smelled of new decay and dried flowers.

“Mommy?” he questioned in a nasely voice.

“In ya go, kiddo. Daddy’s waiting.”

She closed the door behind him.


The Forgotten
Zack Kullis

Rough, with hints of moisture from the morning dew – each sensation punctuated by the never-ending cold. Careful to touch only the surface where the memory was etched, and not the deeper rock that offers no sentiment, he outlines the gravestone with ghostly fingers.

The dead feel more than the living ever could. Cumbersome flesh is like a thick glove, hiding most sensory input. His spirit’s fine matter misses nothing. The sole visitor stopped only to admire the exquisite art, oblivious of the weeping apparition.

“If they will not visit me, then I will bring the bitterness of the afterlife to them.”


Rings of Death
Nina D’Arcangela

She comes always – even on the coldest of days. She comes and weeps fained devastation. My father watches silently; a man broken by his pain. The carriage stands vigil; the horses fuss, hair shimmering in the sunlight. The stable hands often complained of the muck after our adventures; but their silence already bought. The animals pristine by the time father broke from his study; our supposed jaunts to the park never fell suspect. Mother and I traveled to wooden houses, each bore a mark upon the door; a mark the same hue as the flowers now spilling from my pockets.

 


Each piece of fiction is the copyright of its respective author
and may not be reproduced without prior consent. © Copyright 2015
Image © Copyright Dark Angel Photography. All Rights Reserved.

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