A Walk with Grace

The moon stares down at my brittle frame with judgement. A curse suckles upon my flesh, a reflection of the mirrored world I was cast into by no choice of my own. I only follow the deeds of my other half—a witness, a bystander. The exhibitionist shows me her will while forcing my eyes to see. I am no more than myself, and that which binds my flesh together. It isn’t a madness. Else I’d writhe in bed, the horrors in my mind to torture me at their discretion. I’m but a shell, the exosuit of the power which earns the rewards of my actions.

She speaks my name, which is her own. The condescending nature of her tone forbids argument. I’m but a slave with no outer master—the plaything of my own wicked mind.

Grace… Walk dutifully into the night and the blood will flow…

My legs carry an unwilling frame. Decision has never been an option—free will, only a dream which never comes true.

“Why, Grace? Why?” I ask.

Just do as I say. You know there isn’t any other way.

My lips curl into a frown of disdain.

Don’t be so spiteful. If it weren’t for me, you’d be nothing.

“I’d be me.”

You’re already you. But you’re also me.

That’s the problem, always has been. Ever since Mother and Father took their place in eternity, I’ve been nothing more than the hand of another entity. I’ve imagined ways to purge its vile existence, but none that wouldn’t take me with it.

You shouldn’t think such thoughts, Grace. Remember what happened last time?

“How could I forget?” I look down at the scars on my wrists.

I’m glad we have an understanding.

“I wouldn’t call it an understanding. More of a forced arrangement.”

Just keep walking.

She says it as if I have a choice.

“You’re going to hurt him, aren’t you?”

What do you think?

“I don’t know why I bother asking.”

I stare forward, eyes blank and disconnected from reality. The man I plan to meet, so nice, so innocent, undeserving of what awaits him. I don’t want to take his life—nothing disgusts me more. But it’s out of my control. His blood will be spilled and consumed, and there’s nothing I can do to stop it.

I see him on the corner down the street, both hands in his pockets, foot tapping the sidewalk. His stance gives away his anxiety, his shy nature. I pity his innocence while simultaneously adoring it.

“Always praying on the weak, Grace.”

Their blood tastes better.

“Can’t we just leave him be? Can’t we just find someone else?”

No. I’m starving.

I sigh as his eyes light up and an awkward smile brightens his face. Such a handsome man…

“Hi Grace,” he says. “Nice to meet you again. I know it’s only our second date but I got you these.” He reaches behind his jacket and brings out a bouquet of carnations.

If I could cry, tears would fall from my eyes. But the Grace inside me dried up any show of emotion long ago. “Thank you. They’re wonderful.”

“So what would you like to do?” he asks. “Dinner? A movie?”

“I thought we’d take a walk in the park.”

“After dark? Isn’t that a bit risky?”

“No, it’ll be okay. I do it all the time.”

His face reddens and he scratches the back of his neck. “Okay, let’s go.”

As we walk down a lonely path he reaches out to hold my hand. I allow him. Might as well enjoy the brief moments my dreams speak of each night, if only to experience a few seconds of intimate joy I’ll never fully know.

I look into his eyes, see a warm glow. There’s a connection, a communication without words, a palpable tether which might have bound us as one… But I am not whole.

My head splits down the middle with a crack of bone and tearing of flesh. Tentacles of bloody carnage stretch and reach out from the opening, forming bone-like blades at their ends. A multitude of eyes open on each tendril of the beast within my head; they stare at the man’s petrified expression with nihilistic calm. The sharp ends slice through his flesh and I watch, unable to control them, forced to witness the terrible feeding of my other half. Once his head falls to the ground, they drive into the stump of his neck and gorge on his blood.

Once Grace has her fill, she returns to her inner-sanctum, the place where my mind once rested in solitude. But ever since she took Mother and Father, and burrowed deep inside me, I’ve never been alone…

∼Lee A. Forman

© Copyright 2017 Lee A. Forman. All Rights Reserved.

The Lie

Screeching tires broke through the tunes raging in Mark’s headphones. He lifted a middle finger before he raised his eyes to see who was honking at him.

“Get the hell out of the road asshole,” screamed the man as he drove away.

Mark pulled the headphones off as he watched the car. It belonged to a guy down the road. A reckless grin crossed Mark’s face. He would take care of that later. Mark looked at the house as he walked up to the front door.

It had never felt like his house – like a home. The immaculate lawn, trees and bushes trimmed, even the rocks looked like they had been categorized and placed carefully. If there were a 10th circle in Dante’s Inferno, Mark thought, it would have been suburbia.

***

A store-bought scent filled the air as he walked in through the front door. Today’s candle gave off the scent of baked apple pie. Mark scoffed. The oven was for display only. A noise from one of the back rooms caught Mark’s attention.

“Shit,” he mumbled as he put the headphones back on and held his backpack tighter. “They’re back early.”

Mark hurried to the stairs. The parental units made it to the bottom of the stairs just as he reached the top. He moved quickly down the hall while his hands drummed a heavy musical beat against the backpack. The music wasn’t loud enough to drown out the sound of feet stomping up the stairs. Mark knew the telltale sound of disgust and loathing in their heavy footfalls. He made it to his door before the headphones were yanked off his head from behind.

“I said turn that sorry excuse for music off when you are in this house,” said Steve. It was Dad only if there was company.

“Sorry,” Mark said through clenched teeth, “I have algebra and was getting in the mood to do pointless bullshit.”

***

Beth, Mother when occasion called, pasted a faux smile on as she stood next to Steve.

“We came home early because there is something we need to talk to you about.” Beth’s lips and eyes twitched as she exchanged one counterfeit grin for another.

Mark turned his music up as he replied. “I’ll work on my algebra for an hour and then come downstairs. Something smells great down there.”

Beth’s face scrunched with confusion. Steve looked suspicious. Mark stepped into his room as he continued. “Smells like pie or something. I love it when you bake.”

He closed the door, but Steve opened it just enough for his face to show and glared at Mark. “You have 45 minutes or we will come up here.”

***

Mark closed the door again, opened his backpack and pulled out his bong. The water sloshed against the sides as he prepared the water pipe. The meeting with the parental units just begged for a large hit. He was tired of the lies.

Once the bong was ready, he put flame to the bud. Mark sucked deep and watched as the clear chamber filled with smoke. He dropped the lighter onto his bed and was about to open the window when he decided it was time. The bed creaked as Mark sat down and removed his finger from the carb. The chamber quickly emptied of the white smoke as Mark pulled it all into his lungs. He held it in until his head started to swim.

“It’s time for the truth,” Mark said. His words were carried away on a cloud as he tried to decide what to do. Thoughts bounced around in his head like a pinball machine. Most of those thoughts shied away when he tried to reach for them. Only one remained clear. Truth.

He ground more bud and filled the bowl. Truth was bold and brutal. Mark knew brutal, now it was time for bold. He grabbed his lighter and opened the door. Steve and Beth were downstairs talking.

“… a bad kid.”

“Adoption was a stupid idea…”

“… time to get rid of him.”

He almost laughed. This was going to be great. Mark started noisily down the steps. The talking below stopped, but he’d give them something to talk about. Mark reached the bottom of the stairs and walked into the kitchen. Beth and Steve looked shocked. Mark lit the bud and inhaled a full load. Smoke erupted from his lips as he spoke.

“Now that is how you bake.”

“You sorry piece of shit,” Steve screamed.

Beth had no more bogus smiles. “We give you everything and this is how you repay us? Well, now it’s time for the truth. We adopted you when you were little, thinking we could raise you to be like us. But it wasn’t possible. You’re a bad kid.” Beth’s voice was full of relief.

Steve jammed a finger at Mark’s chest. “We were going to wait until you turned eighteen, but neither of us can stand you anymore. Get out!”

“Since it’s time for the truth,” Mark said coldly, “it’s my turn to share.”

“What more could you share? You’re just a rotten kid.”

A sinister smile crawled across Mark’s face and a shadow fell over his eyes. “That is my lie. The lie. You have no idea how bad I am. Let me show you my truth.”

Mark swung the bong and broke it against Steve’s head. Shards of glass opened his forehead with a splash of blood and gouged out one of his eyes. Mark pulled a knife out of his pocket and slashed the blade across Steve’s neck. Beth was about to scream when Mark jumped up and grabbed her throat with a crushing grip. He turned and watched Steve’s movements go from strong and spastic to weak and sporadic. It didn’t take long for the blood to stop flowing and his twitching extremities to relax.

Mark looked back at Beth, shoved her back against the fridge, and slowly stuck the blade underneath her sternum. He breathed quietly and looked deep into her eyes as she kicked and convulsed.

“Is it better to live with a lie, or die with the truth?”

Beth’s reply wouldn’t matter. Mark was free because he already knew the answer.

~ Zack Kullis

© Copyright 2015 Zack Kullis. All Rights Reserved.

My Damned Pen

The black penumbra grows

rising, rising, rising

greying forms its shadow

pages turn unclear

misled me from the light

penetrating screams are near

begs a blood curdling plea

from where I do not know

“before I’m bound, free me”

***

Pensive were my thoughts

trudging, trudging, trudging

to the mire my shoes brought

it’s written “I was here”

the scribe of evil’s night

rending through night’s fear

I am searching for  her life

was she calling out my doom?

innocent, I am now in doubt

blood merged before this moon

***

Pensive are the times

extra, extra, extra

read me between the lines

misled by moon’s eclipse

body slumps, I cannot stand

listless I wait for someone

her pendant in vacant hand

I’m judged and by dawn hung

seemingly torn and  cursed

the last chimes have been rung

***

Pendulum cold doth sway

left ,right ,right, left

endless sound so fey

will it never stop

no end to futile strife

tickings  mark life’s blot

pending seconds of my life

swing to rope’s end

a hanging part of speech

death’s  letter’s do portend

***

Penitent begs to live

“father, father, father

my transgressions please forgive”

echoes in my pent up mind

reams cast a shudder

save this memory and bind

“unjust” will this history suffer

last thing that I heard

a gasp , then

steel sharp against the word

***

Pen away my life

scribble, scribble, scribble

black against parched white

penult is lead etched

no sensible jot or tiddle

telling of  penury’s wretch

timeless life once seemed

inking just a fool’s dream

hark, someone else’s screams

~ Leslie Moon

© Copyright 2013 Leslie Moon. All Rights Reserved.

Broken Dream

I came so innocent as a child

such wild and  fanciful play

I would often tiptoe in the night

 staying long into the day

*

Fortresses queen I’d be

sea castles in my mind

and as I older grew

I toyed in the sublime

*

 chance encounter that I had

mad he flapped and cawed

black cloaked raven-man

a twisted face, how odd

*

things were altered now it seemed

my dreams began to thin

 darkness seeped in and through

imagination’s walls  begun to spin

*

Bloodless echoes haunted me

“please” I’d close my ears

steel-like, frozen where I stood

terrorized by my fears

*

Malevolence stalked through the mist

abyss like were his eyes

vile dropped from his lips

his cloak rendered no disguise

*

“I take you as my victim

pinned – a voodoo curse

you cannot from it run

I promise it’s the worst”

*

No light lit his face

trace, there was no sorrow

 a hideous malignant sneer

little time left to borrow

**

There is no place that I know

to go or leave this thing

bound in a timeless shell

to none hope can I bring

*

For you, life-taker grows this hate

rape you may my world

but watch this as life’s child

her vengeance is unfurled

*

try with all my will to shake

awake I’d purge the dream

blood through fingers oozed

coagulated as I’d scream

*

my hands they hold a sanguinous flood

loves I cannot save

none could stem abhorrent tide

In their blood I am depraved

*

alert my plans, they have wrought

thoughts to kill my foe

the curse must be undone

for the sake of all I know

*

The maniac’s thirsty schemes

dreams that I now dread

 dealt a hand I cannot play

his crimes are mine instead

*

rivulets of a cursed flow

grow as I hold them tight

I stand so pale and aghast

her stream gushes in the night

*

this dreaded, foretold dream alas

last of those I knew

puddles form in ebbing streams

I can only mouth,” Adieu”

*

“Ha” he gasped “Gagnez – you win”

A pin thrust in my side

too late was lost his final breath

” no victory all have died!”

*

 keeper of nightmarish pool

fool I knew too late

this ghoulish fiend held a key

would have opened freedom’s gate

*

you, dream-waker come this way

as the noir play unfolds

ghastly gore spread neath your feet

“what evil is untold?”

*

Endless blood pools there it lay

off-stage a cloak is draped

 one lifeless human voodoo doll

nightmares he must shake

*

From the doll a pin he gently pulls

full of shape and life is she

cruelly manacled to a frozen wall

his aim to set her free

**

 “there must a way to make this cease”

“release me not,” I scream

I now am specter of both worlds

 leave me shackled to this dream”

~ Leslie Moon

© Copyright 2013 Leslie Moon. All Rights Reserved.

Secret Pain

Logan maneuvered the Wii controllers in unison, swinging his arms like a seasoned hockey player. The boy’s passion was obvious — rivaling that of the gladiators his game was designed around despite the disparity of size in his preteen frame.

The digital puck soared past a sprawling goaltender and into the net.

“Goal!”

Conner, Logan’s competitor, exhibited his own fervor as he chewed out the faux net minder. “What was that? Wake up and face the shooter. Stupid auto-goalie.” Conner was only a few weeks older than Logan, but already had sprouted seven more inches. He thought the added height would leverage him a scoring advantage in their rivalry, but his new friend proved to be resilient.

The boys met a couple of months ago when Conner moved into the neighborhood and over the summer they developed a healthy rivalry. Hockey quickly became their favorite battleground. They logged many afternoon hours carving digital ice, but there was more at stake this time. It was their final match-up before starting the 5th grade tomorrow with different homerooms.

Logan danced around the coffee table, punching the air like Rocky in training to celebrating his miraculous two-goal comeback to tie the game in the waning seconds.

“I hate it when you use the green Whalers jerseys.” Conner said, grumbling while he scratched at the bandage high on his arm.

“I know,” Logan said through a joker’s grin. “Green for good luck. Now, they’re gonna help me win this thing in overtime.”

Movement drew Logan’s eye to the bandage. “Uh, dude. You might want to stop scratching that. You’re making it bleed.”

Conner tugged his shirt sleeve down to hide the area. “That? Oh, I scraped it open on a nail head. My dad’s fixing the cellar steps.”

The boy’s eyes bulged suddenly. “What time is it?”

Glancing up at the wall clock, Logan answered. “Almost 4:40. Why?”

“Damn it! I gotta go.”

“What?”

“I have to be home before five or my dad’s going to beat my ass raw.”

“But it’s overtime of game 7. You can’t leave now.”

“I really have to go.”

Conner shoved some items into his duffel bag and sprinted out the front door.

Logan threw his controller and flopped onto the couch. “Shit.”

The next day Conner was a no-show at the bus stop. Logan looked for him all morning — peering out the bus windows, searching the halls between classes, staring at the slotted windows in the classroom doors — but his friend remained unseen. He was beginning to worry about why Conner might have missed the first day of school, when, from the cafeteria line, Logan spotted him sitting alone at the back table.

“You make it home in time yesterday?” Logan asked, placing his tray across from the lone dinner.

“Huh?” Conner said, visibly shaken from deep thought. “Oh. Yeah.” Then he returned to biting his cuticles and plowing the mashed potatoes from side to side with halfhearted fork movements.

Logan chewed on a dry hunk of meatloaf and eyed his friend. He didn’t look well.

Conner’s eyes were shadowed and heavy. His complexion was more pale than usual, earning him another notch toward the color of coconut Popsicle like the ones they used to get from the ice cream truck on Friday afternoons. Which he skipped on the last few times. Logan realized. And look, now he’s not eating his lunch.

“Not hungry?”

Conner shrugged and Logan glimpsed the edge of a new bandage just below his shirt collar.

“What’s that one from,” Logan asked pointing to the gauze dressing, “another nail head?”

“It’s nothing,” Conner replied in a distant tone. But, like a sudden May breeze, he warmed to the conversation. A light flickered to life in his eyes, chasing away the darkness of his frown. “Hey, you want to come over and replay Game 7?”

“Is it okay with your Dad?”

“He won’t be home till later.”

“You sure?”

“Yeah. I feel bad about cutting out on you yesterday. We need to finish that game.” Conner smiled. “I’m gonna hit my locker before class, so I’ll catch you after school, okay?”

Logan hesitated. “Yeah, sure, but aren’t you going to eat lunch?”

“What, and risk toxic mutation? I’ll hold out for something better.”

Conner dumped the tray into the nearest trash receptacle and walked out of the cafeteria.

A few hours later the boys were immersed in their championship game and amid the chaos of crosschecks and slapshots, taunts and complaints, they did not hear Mr. O’Barr return early from work, nor his calls for Conner’s attention.

The TV suddenly went dark. Conner’s father, an imposing figure, stood before them with the plug dangling from his fist.

“You’re not allowed to have guests over while I’m gone.” He said.

Conner’s complexion moved up another notch. “Dad. I’m… I’m sorry, we just wanted to finish our game from yesterday.”

The man’s frown drooped further with nostrils flaring above his thick mustache. “Sorry doesn’t unbreak the rules. Your play time is over. Go wash up and we’ll discuss this over dinner.”

“Could Logan—”

“Get your ass up there ‘fore I throw your goddamn Wii in the trash,” his father said, pointing up the steps. “And you better come down ready to eat this time. I’m not going to serve another uneaten meal in this house.”

Conner jumped to his feet and scrambled up the stairs.

Logan watched the confrontation from eyes wide with fear. He didn’t know what to do. Would Mr. O’Barr turn on him as well? Should he just leave? Was Conner safe? That was it. Safety. It all made sense now. His behavior. His lack of appetite. The nail-biting. The bandages and scars. Conner was being abused!

Mr. O’Barr rummaged around the living room, cleaning up the video games and controllers.

Logan was close enough to hear the man’s teeth grind as he picked them up.

“I swear to God, I’m…” The man stopped, took a deep breath, and faced Logan. “It’s time for you to go home.”

He pulled Logan to his feet, shoved the boy’s school bag into his arms, and promptly escorted him out of the house. The door slammed shut before Logan could turn around.

What should I do? He thought, hesitating on the stoop. Logan stepped down and started toward the curb when the muffled sounds of broken glass made up his mind for him.

He dug out his for-emergencies-only cell phone and dialed.

Ten minutes later Logan was back on the stoop, but this time he wasn’t alone. A black man dressed all in blue stood next to him. Logan straightened and puffed out his chest. He felt a tingling surge of power run through him at the thought of justice being served to help his friend.

The officer rang the doorbell then cupped his hands around his eyes to peer into the narrow windows along the door frame. After a moment he reached up to knock but the door vanished beneath his knuckles.

“Yes?”

“Mr. O’Barr, I’m Officer Emery and I’d like to ask you a few questions.”

Conner’s father glared down at Logan then stepped aside to let them in. They followed him down the hall and into the kitchen. Officer Emery surveyed each room along the way. “How many people are present in the home, Sir?”

“Just me and my son, Conner.” Mr. O’Barr picked up a hand towel and started drying dishes. “Can you tell me what this is about?”

“In due time. Where is your son now?”

“Upstairs, washing up for dinner. Why?”

The officer’s eyes paused on shards of broken glass near the man’s feet. “Sir, what can you tell me about your son’s bandages?”

Mr. O’Barr stopped. His hands froze mid-circle in drying a dinner plate.

“Conner told me they were from skateboarding or street hockey or something like that,” he said, splaying his hands.

“He doesn’t like skateboarding!” Logan said, blurting out the words with his pent-up emotion.

“Look, Officer, I work a lot. It’s hard enough scrounging paycheck to paycheck each month, but to keep track of every little thing he likes or dislikes is—”

“Hobbies are one thing Sir, but injuries are your responsibility as a parent. Do you know the health of your child? What’s the story with the glass at your feet?”

“I knocked over my tumblers before you arrived. And, I don’t like your tone, Officer Emery.” Conner’s dad thrust a finger at the cop. “I raise that boy the best I can and you can’t—”

“Sir, I’m going to be frank. There are allegations of child abuse against you. Have you caused harm to your son?”

“What? Are you freaking kidding me? No. No, I haven’t.”

“There are witnesses to an increasing frequency of bandaged wounds.”

“He’s an active boy, for Christ’s sake! You’d worry if he didn’t consistently carry a red badge of courage.”

“Sir, the amount of badges have become excessive. Logan’s outcry for Conner’s well being is not the first. His school had alerted us to a potential problem just yesterday. They spoke to Conner and he was very uneasy about the conversation. He wouldn’t even allow the nurse to check his wounds.”

“Hey, I don’t want some incompetent nurse prodding at my son!” Mr. O’Barr snapped. Veins pulsed in his neck as his frustration swelled.

“Sir, I’m going to ask you again. Did you harm the boy?”

“No, goddammit, I’d never hurt him!” The man shouted and the wet plate slipped from his fingers and crashed to the floor.

The policeman jerked a hand to the Taser on his belt. “Mr. O’Barr. Stay calm or I will be forced to make you calm down.”

“Whoa.” Conner’s father slowly put his hands in the air. “It was an accident. I’m calm.”

“Good.” Officer Emery said and gestured to the kitchen table. “Sit down.”

The policeman, keeping an eye on Conner’s father, turned to Logan.

“Son, please go upstairs and check on Conner. Ask him to join us here, in the kitchen.”

Logan nodded and ran up the steps.

A moment later he screamed.

“Officer!”

The policeman’s instincts kicked in and within seconds he cuffed the father to a chair, shouted for him to stay put, pulled the firearm from his holster, and jolted up the stairs.

The second floor came into view one step at a time. Logan was standing in the hall, staring into the opened bathroom.

“Back away from the door.” Officer Emery said as he reached the top.

Logan complied, but moved with slow, clumsy steps like a sleepwalker, never taking his eyes off his discovery.

Officer Emery heard the sobs of a child and they weren’t from Logan. He moved laterally, with his gun raised, until the bathroom interior was visible. Taking in the scene before him, the office gradually lowered his weapon.

Conner sat on the edge of the tub, arms tucked between his knees. Tears dripped from his down turned face. He was only wearing boxer shorts and his wounds were exposed—the bandages had been removed.

Emery sucked in a sharp breath at the sight of them. They weren’t the kind of injuries he expected. Mr. O’Barr’ is one sick fuck! He thought.

The boy’s body looked like some sadistic kind of checkerboard — angular chunks of flesh were missing at varying intervals, but only in areas that could be concealed by summer attire.

Emery’s stomach clenched and churned. His heart literally ached at the sight.

Conner whimpered. A few drops of blood splashed to the tile floor between his feet and that’s when Emery caught sight of the razor blade.

“Conner,” the officer said, speaking in soft and slow negotiator tones. “We’ll get through this. Please, put down the blade. Don’t give up on us, now.”

Conner lifted his head and looked at the cop for the first time. His face was wrinkled with confusion. “Give up?”

“Stay with us. We care about you. Your father can’t hurt you anymore.”

“My father? He never hurt me.”

“What?”

“I… I can’t stop cutting.” Conner’s tears flowed in thick rivulets. “It hurts so bad, but I need it. I crave it.”

“We’ll get you some help.” Logan said, peering in from behind the officer.

“No, you don’t understand. I’m addicted. I don’t want real food anymore.”

Conner brought a hand to his mouth. An angular piece of flesh dangled between his fingers. He slurped it up and feverishly chewed the bloody morsel.

“The more I eat, the more I want.”

~ Tyr Kieran

© Copyright 2012 Tyr Kieran. All Rights Reserved.

The Steps Of Fear

My feet: the damn things are cold again. Jesus, they’re frigid! Where was I tonight? What did I do? I feel dirt between my toes: clumps of something, half liquid, half congealed, beneath my finger-nails; and my clothing is shredded, not affording any perceptible function. I might as well be naked. The couch: yes, I remember now; I fell asleep here. Shit! My sleep already sucks; the sofa doesn’t help.I’m a somnambulist  and have been for as long as I can recollect. Fancy name. Yeah, I know. Sleepwalker is what everyone calls me except that little prick of a shrink. The high-nosed, tweed-wearing, pompous jerk thinks he has all the answers. The idiot knows nothing. I’ve been seeing him for years, lining his fancy-pants with my long green. I still sleepwalk, though. Every night.  Somnam man that I am irks my sweet, loving wife. One more thing for her to nag about. She told me to see Mr. Tweed, or she would leave. Stupid me: I should have helped her pack.I get up and go to the john, stopping to look in the mirror before I attend to business.

Damn, Harry, you’re a fucking mess! There is blood all over you. Your clothing, face, hands, and feet are covered in the stuff. Remember, man! You gotta remember!

In a flash, I run to the patio door, following the bloody tracks my feet left. The trail of blood extends across the cement, vanishing at the start of the lawn.

Settle down, Harry. Maybe it‘s nothing. Could be some dead animal you found on the lawn, a poor creature trying to find a place to escape from its torturer. That’s it. Something like that. You merely tried to help it.

A search of the yard does not show any animals. Nothing that sports a coat of fur anyway. In the corner, the one next to the crab-apple tree, is where a dark form lies. The light is bad, but I can sense something is there. I am in no hurry to see what it is, yet I must.

The damned tweed suit of his, covered in blood, not at all in the prissy, almost effeminate way he wears it, but a crumpled mess, surrounds his lifeless body. His head, off to a rather obscene angle, greets me.

Now what? Did I find him like this? Did I kill him? I don’t remember.

For a while, I merely stand and gaze down at him, trying to force memories from out of my brain. Zilch. Nothing at all comes to me. I walk back inside the house.

I sit on the couch and put my head in my hands, staring down at the carpet. What the . . .

A syringe sits on the rug, almost under the sofa and out of sight but enough for me to see. I pick it up and see it is empty. He must have injected me with this, but why? Why was he here?

My head swirls, thoughts caught in a vortex of uncertainty. Nothing rams through into any order of reason. Conflicting paradoxes flit everywhere, changing what might have been to things which cannot possibly be and yet . . .

Reasoning is here, within my house, yard, and mind. Pieces of a puzzle to be put together, analyzed, and remembrance made. If I killed my doctor antagonist, there must have been good reason, especially for me to do it in a state of somnambulism where merely walking about after waking from slow-wave sleep should not push me over the edge of sanity.

I remove my shredded clothes and toss them into the trash. Slipping upstairs naked, I look in on my wife, peacefully sleeping, before I go in to shower. Ah, the power of hot water running all over my body, shoving the blood down the drain, is so comforting. Even as I allow it to wash over me, a relaxed, tired feeling embraces me.

After toweling off, I walk into my bedroom and slide into bed, my nakedness feeling good against the flannel sheets. My wife moves up against me, almost purring. Instinctively, I react but stop.

Something’s wrong, Harry. She hasn’t wanted you for a while; she has been as cold as cold can be. And she’s naked. She never sleeps in the nude. Even when making love, she has always worn something. But she’s naked now. Shit . . . shit, the air is heavy with the scent of her juices.

I glide my hand around and, not surprisingly, find the sheets to be very moist.

Lie back, Harry. You’re tired. You need to sleep. Everything will be better when you wake.

The voice makes sense and I give in to sleep.

Still dark when my eyes open, I once again feel the dampness of the blood and the dirt wedged between my toes. I am alone in my bed, so refreshingly solitary. It is over.

Not bothering to dress, I walk downstairs and retrace my steps from earlier. Her naked body lies across his, her head wearing that same twisted look her lover has.

I smile and go back inside. Two showers in one night. One must be clean.

~ Blaze McRob

© Copyright 2012 Blaze McRob. All Rights Reserved.

Unearthed

Time has become meaningless. I can sense the rise and fall and the wax and wean of the moon, but I’ve long past the point where it matters. I am a forgotten relic.

They used to watch over me, wary of any changes and They have remained vigilant for many lifetimes—passing down, from father to son, the responsibility of guardian and the knowledge with which to prepare themselves for corrective action should change take place. But of course, time devalues all things. Each generation of vigil grew more indifferent than his predecessor until, eventually, no one came or cared.

The world lived on without me, just as They had intended.

And so, I reside here, in this unmarked grave, for longer than I can recall. My motionless body, a dried husk in the earth, imprisoning my mind, waits for… for what? The end of eternity, I suppose. I don’t have much say in the matter. I’m a slave to time and fate, and fate has firm control of my reigns.

When last was I in control? My final night of freedom?

It was a blood bath.

– – –

I was drunk with power, glutting myself on the life-force of men distracted by war. I cared little about the reasons or results of the conflict. The Polish and Lithuanian’s uprising against Teutonic rule—paltry bickering of feeble men and I was no longer one of them. My strengths and abilities were developing far faster than the world around me. I believed myself nigh invincible.

War raged through the land and I gladly accepted its invitation for indulgence—deaths were expected, blood spilled in abundance, and no one questioned wounds or hunted for missing bodies. I could feed freely without all the games and subterfuge. Yet, despite this reprieve from scrutiny, one still needs to retain a sense of caution.

Temptation got the best of me.

Feeding at the battle’s fringe, I pulled men off their feet and into the shadows along the cliff basin. I drained nine men—six too many—before I was forced to purge. With my vision blurred and my legs weak, I fell to my knees. Consumed blood vacated my body like the violent purge of water through a broken dam. The crimson pool was massive.

A small band of men saw the lake of death oozing from the shadows and were compelled to investigate. I spat the last bit of bloody bile and stood in time to see four Knights arrive. They stopped at the pool’s edge and stared with jaws agape. I wiped my mouth with a long drag of my sleeve and stared back.

It didn’t take long for them to see me as a threat to the religious purity of their world. I witnessed the realization change their expressions from wide-eyed pallor to tight-lipped scowls with hooded eyes.

“Go back to Hell where you belong, Demon.” The lead knight said, pointing his sword at my throat. His silver armor glistened in the vibrant moon light. His dark green eyes stabbed from behind a sharp angular nose. His shield and helmet trappings spoke of nobility.

My senses stabilized. Hunger returned, gurgling and aching in my empty stomach. Overconfident again, I smiled. My sharp, two-inch-long fangs glimmered like their armor. “Hell? What do you self-righteous soldiers know of Hell?”

“Enough to know that you are a blight upon God’s earth and we must see to your destruction.” To his credit the Nobleman held firm, unwavering despite the sight of my razor-blade smile.

“Choose your next actions wisely Nobleman! Your mistakes might come to haunt your descendants.”

“You’ll not pester anyone from the bottom of your grave,” he said and swung two fingers through the air.

I leaned forward, preparing to lunge, when a flurry of flaming arrows pelted my chest. I stumbled back against the cliff wall, batting at the flames.

“Bleed him out and let him burn.” The lead knight looked me in the eyes as he ordered my execution. The others rushed in, swords drawn, and stabbed me repeatedly. I tried to fight back, but without sustenance and my own life-force draining away, it accomplished little. Then the nobleman stepped in and slit my throat.

I crumbled to the ground with my flesh crisping in the flames and my blood soaking into the soil. Consciousness faded from me as I caught his final orders for my disposal.

“Cover the demon in leaches and tar, then bury him in the forest.”

– – –

Many generations later, I lay buried and bored, deep in the Bialowiea forests of Warmia. The blur of time, relentlessly marching, has silenced my inner obsessions over the how’s and should-of’s, the dreams of retribution and plots of revenge. Chalk it up to the erosion of hope, if you like. I prefer to label it as patience.

Tonight the moon is high, full of promise, and it seems I have guests.

Two hikers veer from the path and stop above me.

Through the dense earth between us, I could sense their steps, their weight, and their heartbeats. Muffled voices filter down to my sensitive, dried-out ears. They’re a youthful male and a female couple, talking and laughing. Then a flurry of movement, mostly from the heavier male, before each thumped to the ground. Sitting?

Maybe he set up camp for the night. No, it was a moonlit picnic, the odors of bread, cheese, and grapes… correction, wine, wormed into my sinuses like a wraith through cemetery soil. My empty stomach turned.

They ate and drank amid short bursts of conversation. I could hear the wine in its work to lighten their tongues and heavy their limbs. Their hearts beat faster. Their blood flowed more freely through their veins. It was an agonizing tease, an unnecessary torture before the inevitable return to solitude.

Of course, when the refreshments were gone, their appetites shifted toward each other. Fumbling, chaotic thumps and knocks against the earth soon found rhythm. The percussion of love worked toward a crescendo, accompanied by moans and whispered pleas. My stomach turned again, but a sudden shift drew my full attention.

The air pressure changed. I could feel a greater density like a charge that precedes a lightning strike. Their hearts fell out of sync. Their rhythm slowed, becoming disjointed.

She whispered a question in a voice still overwhelmed by passion.

He answered with action.

Thrusting, he stabbed deep into her, over and over, but not with his member—he used a weapon of a different kind. The woman’s gasps and coughs played to me like a symphony. The sensation of surprise was exquisite.

Her gurgling breaths told of punctured lungs and severed arteries. I could feel his hatred for her, pulsing from his heart in shock waves that tickled my bones and weighed against my chest. He shouted obscenities, punctuating each with another blow from his knife.

“Whore! You had to sleep with him. You tainted your chance at salvation. And now you’ve ruined mine. Damn you! Slut!”

The pungent scent of her blood birthed my hopes anew. My bones quivered in anticipation.

Pumping away more and more of her life-force, her heartbeat slowed to a stop. Her killer flopped back and fell still, whimpering in the night air.

Blood trickled down through the soil. The first drop hit my sternum. With the leaches and tar bindings long withered to dust, the drop absorbed uninhibited. It felt like ice against skin baked in the desert sun, a burning cold that takes your breath away.

More claret drops reached me, soaking into my brittle flesh, and reactivated my cells. The drips grew into steady streams, painting my corpse crimson. Tendons stretched and fused to bone. Muscle fibers rehydrated. Organs swelled and pulsed. My body burned under the fires of rejuvenation—the pain was both unbearable and exhilarating.

I sucked down my first breath and clawed for the surface.

Finally free from my grave, I stood tall, brushing dirt from my shoulders. With a deep breath I took in the night sky—at last, one again with the lunar pull.

The man’s whimpers turned to screams as my eyes found his. He fumbled to his feet and tried to run, but I grabbed his shoulders and lifted him in front of me. Face to face, I took in his dark green eyes pleading from behind a sharp angular nose. I smiled at fate’s ironic sense of humor.

“How’s your family, boy?”

~ Tyr Kieran

© Copyright 2012 Tyr Kieran. All Rights Reserved.