Damned Words 6


Dan Dillard

Bars on your windows, so old and ornate.
At your driveway’s end lies a chained and locked gate.
These both in attempt to circumvent fate.

Huddled … lonely inside your own tomb.
Your domicile morphs into some sort of womb.
You peek through the blinds hoping nothing might loom.

And the world spins around you, life goes on for most.
You should celebrate each day that comes with a toast.
But instead you hide praying you don’t give up the ghost.

The joke, Dear, is that there’s no hope for the dawn.
For wherever you are, Dear, death watches on.

Wrong Turn
Leslie Moon

Darknesses hollow whispers
death’s gripping fingers splayed
mind the path twisting, turns there
don’t divert well-lit ways
many drops of blood’s been spilt here
dagger’s sharpened, long caressed
sightless skulls aimed and leering
the spirit must of you assess
bodily theyr’e rendered lifeless
gather, on moonless eve
momentarily seek some solace
wander, they eternal grieve
seeking, mind if they see you
your retreat may never be
run swift rusting gates through
you again will not be free
darknesses claiming whisper
death’s fingers greedily splayed
mind the path, aims to trip dear
don’t divert from well-lit ways

Atomic Number 26
Joseph A. Pinto

And still you’ve no understanding of my stories lost before
you, words stripped of their most basic composition and
left to crumble in a fitting tribute of oxidation.  You’ll always

view me that way, nothing more than your atomic number 26
while the greater part of me flakes bit by bit over time.  I mourn the
days when my message rung true and beauty gleamed through my

imperfection.  Now I go unnoticed, a broken tale; a gate
through which nothing can ever pass again.  Such a wasted thing; left
here, your tainted breath corrupting every last line of my expression.

Thomas Brown

They say dreaming is dead, but I still dream. Clear skies. Cool breeze. A little sunlight on my face. I would like to walk somewhere with you, hand-in-hand, and not be alone. I choke to think of what could be: flesh and blood and bones that sing my name, my song, our song, rising into the wind. We should be so lucky.

They say dreaming is dead, but I still dream of a way out, an escape, a different life to that behind this iron gate; this tarnished prison, this nightmare in which we have trapped ourselves, furry with sharp-blood-rust.

The Other Side
Jon Olson

There it is. I cannot believe it is still standing. My body goes numb as I stare at the place that for many years I called home. The same black iron fence surrounds the property like it did when I lived there. Now the paint is peeling away exposing the rust underneath; reopening old wounds. How many times did I grip the fence wishing, praying that I could someday be on the other side? And now that I am on the outside I don’t feel free. I am still trapped within its grasp behind the padlocked gate, never to reopen.

Nina D’Arcangela

Been so many years, I don’t even remember the sun no more. I hear ‘em muttering, let ‘em talk. I’ll die in this box no doubt. I even heard they sealed it with the name. Trying to shame me I s’ppose. But I have my trophy; I pick my teeth with it every day. Wearin’ it down, but then it was so small to start with. Seems people dislike what I done, but that’s only ‘cause they don’t understan’ it. See, the sweet meat – it’s like veal, you gotta eat it when it’s supple, ‘fore it grows and loses the flavor.

What Lies Within
Blaze McRob

The rusted chain and lock cannot possibly hold this unholy gate in place much longer. Do I dare attempt to break the obstacles and venture within? I must; I have to know!

A well placed kick and the fragile metal breaks. I walk down the stone reinforced tunnel and get closer to the impenetrable darkness. The scent of sweet musk tickles my nostrils, and I smile.

“Lord Azazel, what you long for resides within.”

A torch is lit and I see my prize. Upon an altar she lies, and her glories call out to me.

She screams at my touch…

His to bring…
Zack Kullis

He looked at his charred body. The thugs had chained his security gate moments before they threw the Molotov cocktail through his window.

His fingers still gripped the old iron. The flesh was black like charcoal, and flaked away like the burned paint of the gate. Lips, hair, skin, and anything identifiable had been burned away, leaving a macabre grimace. Death had taken him hours ago.

Fury and lust for revenge damned his soul to this place like the chains had damned him to the fire. He was a wraith, and he welcomed the damnation. Hell was his to bring.

Claiming the Condemned
Tyr Kieran

The end came faster than anyone anticipated and all the prophecies were wrong. It wasn’t failed science gone viral or a cleansing trial to better mankind; it was Hell claiming the condemned—every last one of us. It began with a tortuous plague the turned the sick into blood crazed cadavers. They were the lucky ones. They didn’t suffer the tenuous and futile existence that was always moments away from being torn into a million bite-sized morsels by rancid insatiable teeth. I was the last, eaten alive behind safe gates as I clung expectantly to my wife’s once still corpse.

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


It was 4:00 am when I woke from heartburn, or maybe it was back pain. There are so many things that wake a man of my age in the middle of the night. I shifted my position and then got up to relieve myself. While I was in the bathroom, I heard something odd, something I didn’t recognize—not at first, but then it came to me. Wh-h-h-who. An owl.

It called, and it was close, close enough that I heard it clearly in the bathroom. I walked back into the bedroom.

“You okay?” my wife asked sleepily.

“Yeah. Had to pee,” I said. “Did you hear that?”

“I did. I’ve been listening to it for a few minutes.”

“It’s an owl.”

“Uh huh,” she said.

I walked to the window and peered through the slats in the closed blinds. In the January darkness, I could make out the trees, void of leaves against the sky, but I saw no bird.



Was that another one? Wh-h-who-who. A third? Three distinct pitches and if I wasn’t mistaken, coming from three different directions.

“There’s more than one,” I said and turned to see my wife.

She was backed up, sitting against the headboard and holding her knees to her chest. Even in the dark room, I could see her eyes were round and full of fear.

“Honey? What is it?”

She laughed and shook her head. “Nothing.”

“Really? You don’t look like it’s nothing.”

“It’s silly, really…something my grandmother used to tell us when we were little. A poem, or a song. I don’t remember all of it.”

I peeked back out the window. A dark shape perched on one of the branches in the largest maple tree that stood between the sidewalk and the road. A car drove by. Who is out at 4:00 am?

“Well?” I said.

I heard her sigh and turned to her again.

“Something…something like this:

When the witching hour draws near its end,

hide, if you’re awake my friend.

Before the dead wake up to roam,

the owls will come to take them home.”

I waited a moment to see if she had any more to add and when she was silent, I said, “Wow.”

“Yeah, wow.”

“What does that mean exactly?”

She hugged her knees again and I sat down on the bed.

“Like I said, I don’t remember the rest, but I do recall her telling us a story about the owls. She told us they came when someone was about to die and sought that person out. The hooting brings the reaper.”

The reaper?”


“Your grandmother told you that? That’s a little intense isn’t it?”

Wh-h-h-who one owl called. The other two answered. Each from a different direction and in their slightly different pitch. It occurred to me then that they were triangulating a position. A silly idea.

“It is intense. She wasn’t joking either. I can still see her face grow pale whenever we heard one of those birds hooting in the night at that old farmhouse. I thought we were far enough out of the country to avoid them.”

“You mean you believe that old tale? It’s just a poem.”

“Is it?”

I peeked out the window again, looking for the dark spot in the tree, but it was gone. When the birds hooted again, it was further away, but still close.

“Don’t,” she said.

“Don’t what?”

“Don’t look.”

I stared at her and it was as if we were children and she was trying to scare me…she was believing in a nightmare and I was a few years older telling her how silly she was.

“Honey, come on.”


I waved her off and looked back out the window. Something fluttered and I heard the beat of large wings. A shadow covered our window for just a moment, then it was gone to my right. Then the hooting again.

“Please?” she said, clearly upset, but I ignored her.

I ignored her because there was something out there in the glow of the street lamp across the way. It shimmered and warped like a mirage. I heard the owls again. My wife protested behind me, “You aren’t supposed to look.”

I heard her, but it didn’t sink in. I was watching, engrossed in the thing that moved along the sidewalk across the street. Engrossed by the talking birds, calling and responding to each other.

A shimmer slid along the sidewalk, forming a familiar shape, then becoming abstract, then forming again. It looked like a man, thin to the point of worry, and nude. His skin was pale and just barely stretched across his bones. Behind him he dragged something. I would swear it was a scythe. Too cliché, I thought. Too much beer the night before, or too little sleep. Still it was unsettling. I opened the window without knowing why, call it a compulsion. I wanted this stalker, this skeletal being to know that I knew he was there. Perhaps I thought I might prevent him from committing some terrible act. The owls voices were much heavier, much louder through the screen. The icy air surrounded me.

“Hey!” I shouted. It was the only word that I could manage.

My wife screamed behind me and at that moment, the thing dragging its weapon along the sidewalk—the metal blade sparking on the concrete as it went—turned and looked at me. Not toward me, but at me. Its burning yellow eyes dug into my brain for just a split second. The creature’s visage was all I could see and the rest of the world was black. I could hear my wife weeping, calling to me, but I couldn’t answer her and I couldn’t move. Not dead, but paralyzed and blind having seen death before my time.

It was the next day at the hospital when we got the call that one of our elderly neighbors had passed away in the night; the owls were for her, not me. I should’ve let that personal moment alone, not interrupted. It was none of my business and now I pay for my rudeness. I will pay until the owls come back.

~ Dan Dillard

© Copyright 2014 Dan Dillard. All Rights Reserved.

Damned Words 5


His Release
Zack Kullis

The plume of his breath in the January air lied to him, but he knew the truth.

His heart pushed the searing heat through his body.  He was burning from the inside.  “Release the heat,” his fever screamed.

He could see the fiery blue of the offending veins.  They were the traitorous vehicles for the blood which burned him.

Steel, blessedly cold, cut easily.  He peeled away the skin on his arm with a pleasurable frenzy.

Vein-like branches quickly gave up their sanguine heat.  Blue soon gave way to grey.

Frozen veins, branching across his opened flesh, burned him nevermore.

Dan Dillard

It hunted me.

And for the better part of the chase, I was enthralled. Adrenaline pumped through my veins, keeping them hot. My muscles seared as I darted this way and that, ducking, leaping and rolling into the next place where I would wait. Wait for a breath, the crack of twigs underfoot, the flutter of a flock of birds frightened by my suitor, or a scent detected from upwind. They gave it away.

For a time it was quiet and no direction looked safe. I hesitated.

I felt its moist, warm breath on my neck and my veins froze.

Nina D’Arcangela

Icy tendrils; you’d think they’d chill me, but no – they warm my very soul. The children of my children’s children, the progeny that will carry forth my breath cocooned in an impenetrable translucent sleeve. When this world thaws, my branches will spring free. They will bloom, spreading their lethal spore among others of my kind, killing their offspring, weakening each host. As they fail to mend, the frost will come again, and I will wait for the next thaw. When that day comes, I will stand alone, proud, the only of my kind – as it was always meant to be.

What the Frost Brings
Tyr Kieran

I am the cold—not the winter’s chill, but the dark, seeping cold that settles within the bones of the living. As they shiver and doubt and fear, I grow stronger, burning their patience away to ash. When hardship gets harder, the flames go out and their food stores diminish, I take over, filling the void where hope once bloomed. I force their despair into violence until nothing stirs but my sweet mistress: Death. Oh, how divine her touch! I’ve laid waste to entire civilizations just to feel her embrace. So, heed the frost’s warning—Death is not far behind.

Silent Planet
Thomas Brown

I travelled the world in search of you. They said that you were gone but I knew there were still places where we might talk; where for a few minutes at midnight I might look into your eyes, and smile.

Austria, Germany, the vast trackless forests of Norway. Five times I found you, hiding in the dark, bound to the old locales dotted around the world: cosmic pockets where the dead still dance.

It was a dream come true to watch you waltz under the stars. Then dawn broke, the dream ended and I died inside to be so alone.

Joseph A. Pinto

I have no magic left to revive you; you have gone cold at my feet.  A time existed when I held you aloft, serenaded by the sun.  We both know that day is no more.  So into your wonderland, I follow one last time; your brittle boughs snap between my callous fingers.  I find your pain an absent, infinite thing.  Can you hear the ice crack; yes, I can hear your heart crack.  Come spring, when the ground softens, I’ll dig you free again.  For now, whisper to me your lost, blue-lipped solace.  You have gone cold at my feet.

Deck The Lawn
Blaze McRob

They’re going to put the fucking lights and other shit on me again. I won’t allow it to happen. This ice is even too much weight for my branches to support.

It is dark when they come. Good for me, not for them. Before they have a chance to assault me, my icy branches take them down and apply a frosty guillotine to their necks.  Their red blood gives the lawn a festive look, and the shock, still in their eyes, is better than any dangling orbs hanging on a tree.

Old fat Santa couldn’t have done a better job.

Cold Hearts
L. Moon

“Hard hearts in the making”
soft wintry voices say
innocence is for the taking
fiendish finger play
small bodies fearful, shiver
carrion blocks the light
black wings swoop and quiver
will spend life this night
“quickly now and hide your young ones”
dark howls fill night’s space
crystal snow a place to burrow
by dawn there’s little trace
scheming branches interlocking
cries both far and wide
the rumors say “death is walking”
beckoning from the other side
“Hard hearts foul in the making”
ice cold voices say
innocence is for the taking
while fiendish fingers play

Hunter Shea

Veins, veins. Ice in my veins.

Snowflakes flitting on my window, tapping, melting. So cold.

Ice in my veins.

My hands are numb. How fast will it travel, this ice flow, broken free from some frozen cellular hinterland?

Frozen fingers, numb nose, pressed against the glass. Waiting for my heart to glaciate. Warm heart, cold hands. Dead hands, deader heart.

“Stop looking out there. That is not you,” I mumble. The man next to me snorts, claws at his hair.

“That is outside. I am inside.”

Spider veins, glistening, luminescent. Blue veins, silver. Cadaverous flesh.

“Make me warm!”

Needle prick.

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

Not a Creature Was Stirring

Tiny footsteps and giggles filled the hallways of the small suburban house. Dad was snoring somewhere in a back bedroom.

“Shh,” one voice said. The other snickered and more footsteps were heard as the pair moved into the kitchen and through the wooden door that led to the basement.

“Where are they?” Emily asked.

Her blond pigtails hung in long, thick ringlets against the bright pink footie-pajamas.

“I don’t know. Look over there, dork,” said David. “I think they’re in daddy’s toolbox.”

She stuck out her tongue and carefully opened the lid to the Craftsman case. She saw screwdrivers and wrenches and various other things inside the tool chest. Then, her eyes grew round and her lips parted, spreading into a wide grin.

“Found ‘em,” she said to her brother, holding up her prize.

“Good. Now help me find the big one.”

She pulled out her list and checked it twice.

“The big one?” she asked as if to say, are you sure?


David, eight years old, pushed a lock of chestnut brown hair out of his eyes and grabbed a coil of rope from a hook on the pegboard wall while Ironman looked on from the front of his t-shirt. The coil of rope slipped over his shoulder as the pair hunted the big one.

She spotted it first.

“There it is, David.”

David looked where she pointed and leaning against the wall next to the water heater, was a bundle of long handled tools. He grabbed the ten pound sledge hammer and hiked it up onto his shoulder before starting back up the stairs. Emily was looking at a pair of large garden shears, almost as tall as she was.

“Emmy, come on. We don’t need those.”

“You sure? They look sharp and pointy.”

“I’m sure. Everything’s set up already.”

She shrugged, tucked the nails she’d grabbed from the toolbox under her arm and bounded up the steps behind her brother.

“Daddy’s going to be so surprised!” she said in an excited whisper.

“Shh,” David said.

They snuck into the living room and placed the items in the middle of the floor with some earlier gatherings. David grabbed a chair from the dining room and carried it into the living room. He placed it under the exposed beam that ran the length of the ceiling. Emily turned on the Christmas tree lights and hummed Jingle Bells.

David removed a cluster of mistletoe from the beam revealing a metal bracket and with some struggle, connected the handle of the sledge to it with a single bolt. Giving it a nudge, he was happy to see the hammer swing freely side to side. He slid the chair a couple feet to his left and climbed back up, pulling the sledge by its head and connecting it to a loop of twine that was already prepared. The other end of the slipknot dangled over the back of their father’s recliner.

“Like this?” Emily asked.

David turned and looked. Emily had propped up a two-foot-square piece of plywood that was full of holes he had drilled that afternoon and she was busy pushing nails through them. He nodded.

“Just like that.”

When she was finished, it made a triangular pattern much like a Christmas tree. She put duct tape on the back, holding the spikes in place until she could lay it on the plastic sheeting they had placed the floor. There were a few more holes in the board that David had drilled so he could screw it into the subflooring through the thin carpeting. He picked up a battery powered screwdriver.

“Go check on Dad,” he said.

She padded down the hallway and peeked into her father’s room. He snored peacefully and she pulled the door shut behind her with a minimal snick of the latch. Back in the living room, she gave her brother a quick smile and a thumbs up.

“Still asleep. Visions of sugar plums,” she said.


He quickly screwed down the bed of nails and put the screw-gun away. Emily helped him stretch out the coil of rope and David secured one end of it to the fireplace with a double knot. Once that was finished, they stood back and looked at their work. Emily jumped up.

“Almost forgot,” she said and rushed into the kitchen.

She returned with a plate of cookies and a glass of milk they had staged in the refrigerator and placed them on the end table next to the recliner.

“I think that does it,” Emily said.

David nodded in agreement.

“Now what?” she asked.

“Now we get in position and don’t move until it’s time.”

They fist bumped and then she ducked behind her dad’s recliner and grabbed the length of twine that hung down from the ceiling. David gripped the end of the rope and sat in the doorway between the living room and the kitchen. The Christmas tree lights gave off an eerie glow and not a creature stirred otherwise. Their father’s snoring broke the silence every few seconds.

Those seconds turned into minutes and the children exercised expert patience, but when the clock on the fireplace mantle struck midnight, their wait was rewarded. In a twinkling, they heard on the roof, the prancing and pawing of many a hoof. Emily smiled as she peeked around the chair. David gave her a nod and ducked back behind the wall, holding his rope in both hands.

There were more scuffling sounds, then a snore from daddy’s bedroom, then more scuffling, and then with a bound, St. Nicholas came down the chimney. The jolly old elf stepped, leaning over, out from the fireplace and dusted the soot from his furry red suit, then he cranked his pipe from one corner of his mouth to the other. He glanced at the tree, then at the cookies and when he laughed, his little round belly shook like a bowl full of jelly. Over his shoulder was a sack, and as he stepped further into the room, he swung it around and set it on the floor. David peeked around the corner. It was time.
“Now!” he shouted.

Before Saint Nick could place a finger aside of his nose, Emily jerked the twine with all of her might. The slipknot came undone and the sledge fell from its perch, smashing Santa in the side of the head. David pulled his rope tight and as Santa pirouetted in place, dizzy from the blow, he tripped over the rope and fell face-first onto the bed of nails, embedding his rosy cheeks, cherry nose and droll little mouth onto each three-inch spike.

“We got the bastard,” Emily said as she stood up.

“We sure did,” David agreed.

As the Claus twitched and shuddered, his magic blood seeping out onto the plastic in front of their tree, David and Emily retrieved his bag. It felt empty as they held it up, but when Emily reached inside, wishing, something appeared. A pink tablet computer with her name etched on the back. David pulled out one of his favorite video games, then another. Then they pulled out a wad of cash as thick as the Manhattan Yellow Pages.

“Merry freakin’ Christmas,” Emily said.

Her brother gave her a hug. “Daddy’s going to be so excited.”

“What do we do with that?”

They pair looked at Santa’s corpse and David laughed in spite of himself.

“I have an idea.”

They wrapped the plastic sheeting around Claus’s body and David lifted the old man’s shoulders while Emily pulled the bag over his head. They struggled to get it around the rest of his body, but the bag stretched as necessary and once inside, he disappeared. David unscrewed the board and tossed it and the screws into the magic sack and lucky for them, none of the blood had gotten onto the carpet. He then climbed back onto the chair and replaced the sledge hammer with the mistletoe. Once it was all cleaned up, they sat down and split the milk and cookies.

“What you want to wish for next?” Emily said.

“Dunno. You?”

She shrugged.

A massive thud on the roof startled them. Emily’s tiny hands went to her heart. Another thud followed, then another, and one by one, the reindeer slid off the snow covered roof into the back yard.

Down Dasher, then Dancer, then Prancer and Vixen, followed by Comet, then Cupid, then Donder and finally, Blitzen.

“I almost forgot about the poison carrots,” she said. “How are we gonna hide all that?”

David blushed.

“We’ll think of something,” he said. “We always do.”

~ Dan Dillard

© Copyright 2013 Dan Dillard. All Rights Reserved.


Gavin tripped as he left the bathroom and stumbled into his bedroom. He sat on his bed underneath two posters. One was for Empire Strikes Back, his favorite, and the other for the upcoming Return of the Jedi. The legs on his costume pants were a bit long, and they were in the way. Scissors would help. The mask, however, wasn’t helping. The eye-holes were just a bit too high in the one-size-fits-all clown suit his mother had picked out for him. He pushed it up on top of his head, held there by a thin elastic band stapled to the mask on either side.

Of course there weren’t that many choices at Woolworth’s. You had a plastic clown face, a plastic bum face, a monkey, a werewolf, vampire or mummy face…and then there had been the array of superheroes. All plastic, all crappy. His baggy suit was a clever sewing job by his mother. Patchwork colors and shiny silk, a floppy tie and some old shoes of his dad’s, painted orange.

“Can’t we just paint my face?” he’d asked.

“No, sweetie. That stuff is hard to wash off, and it makes your skin break out. The mask is just easier,” his mother said.

He had grumbled, staring at the floor, hating the plastic, store-bought stuff. Rich kids made fun of the poor kids at Halloween. They had rented costumes or luxurious fabrics, custom sewn at the tailor’s shop in town. His family wasn’t poor, but things were tight so they could stay in that neighborhood, living paycheck to paycheck. His parents did the best they could in those trying times, unable to afford extras like Cable or MTV. The Jones’s always had something new to keep up with. A concept Gavin would understand later.

“Besides,” his mother had said. “Think about the candy, and your friend Gregory’s party tonight. That’ll be fun, right?”

It would be fun, he thought. If they don’t make fun of me. If I can get to my friends before the others make fun. Before they point and howl and slap each other on the shoulders at my expense. If I can just live through the next hour or two of trick-or-treating, please God, let that happen.

He nodded, then pulled the mask back down. The eye holes still didn’t match. Scissors would help. He dug a pair out of the desk drawer on the opposite side of his room and immediately snipped two inches from the bottom of his red, yellow and green pants. Then he looked at the mirror over his dresser. His mother had done a fine job. A circus clown, not too menacing, still kind of creepy, like the one in that Poltergeist film. He wished he’d had a jester hat with jingly bells to complete the look, maybe hide some of that awful plastic mask…or some fluffy cotton candy hair.

A few steps in his dad’s old dress shoes, floppy enough, went much better with the bottoms of those pants cut off. It might upset his mother, but there was no time for alteration. The sun was fading and it was time to ring doorbells. He still couldn’t see quite right, so the mask came off once more and the scissors went to work, helping things. Two much larger eyeholes and he could see again. His eyes were sad and didn’t quite match the brilliant red, up-turned smile or the blue diamond-shaped streaks that went across his eyes.

Makeup would’ve been better.

One last look in the mirror and he grabbed his pillowcase—in which he would carry his loot—and carefully descended the stairs to the kitchen which smelled of caramel apples and popcorn.

“Mom! I’m leaving.”

She came in from the attached laundry and smiled.

“You look adorable!”

“I’m supposed to look like that clown from Poltergeist,” Gavin said.

“Oh. Well in that case, you look…terrifying?”

She hadn’t seen the film. Gavin sighed.

“Yes, terrifying,” he said.

She hugged him. “I’m sorry, honey. I’m so bad at this.”

But it’s so important to me.

“Have fun, honey. Don’t forget, Gregory’s house by 7:30! And behave.”

“I will, mom.”

It was just after 6:30, a late start, but trick-or-treating didn’t feel right until dusk. He only took ten paces to get to the front door. His shoes mad a clip-flap clip-flap sound as he walked, but changed to a ka-thunk ka-thunk when he crossed the threshold of the front door onto the concrete porch and walkway.

The first house was dark. His next-door neighbors were out of town, going to a funeral he’d heard. They had set out pumpkins, but the lights were off. That was a universal sign that said, ‘No candy here kids. Move along’. He walked by with a light ka-thunk ka-thunk and watched as other groups of kids moved on the opposite side of the street. Some groups were kids only, others had parents who watched from the street and others still were made of the tiniest of trick-or-treaters. Those approached the door with parent’s in tow and were met with “Oh, how precious!” and “Adorable!”

The second home had the lights on, so he knocked. He could hear the television through the door, see the light flickering in the sidelight window. Then he heard steps and when the door opened, it was Mr. Kaminski. The Kaminski’s were at least a hundred years old. Mr. K. looked at him.

“What the hell you s’posed to be?”

“Trick or treat! I’m a scary clown,” Gavin said.

Mr. K. considered and frowned.

“You a little old for this?”

“I’m only thirteen.”

Mr. K. raised an eyebrow and nodded, unimpressed. When he was thirteen, he was probably already married with grandkids. He grabbed a handful of candy from a bowl by the door and tossed it into Gavin’s pillowcase.


“Yeah, yeah,” Mr. K said and shut the door.

Before Gavin arrived at the third house, a voice called from across the street.

“Look at the clown! Is that Gavin? You queer or something?”

Gavin felt tears pool in his eyes.

“Look at the queer clown,” the same voice said, followed by the laughter of cronies.

He knew the voices, but when he looked, the faces were different…painted like the rock band Kiss. It was Gregory’s older brother Mike and his thug friends. Gavin snapped his head forward, forcing himself not to look back and he tripped over his orange shoes, scraping through the silky fabric of his costume and the top layer of skin on one knee. The tears spilled over and he was temporarily glad for the mask.

A huge burst of laughter came from across the street. Kiss was cackling and slapping one another on the backs.

“Clowns really are funny. Damn, Gav. Thanks buddy. I needed that shit,” one said.

More chuckles followed as Gavin stood up. His palms were scraped and his knee was on fire. He skipped the next two houses and turned the corner so he could put their jokes behind him. His breath came in jittery puffs as he cried and his cheeks were sticky with dried tears. Once around the corner, he tried another house, one he’d passed a dozen times a week but didn’t know who lived there. He checked his watch before knocking on the door. It was almost 7:00. He could get twenty more houses before he got to Gregory’s. Then he could take off the stupid mask. Then he could hang out with his friends and relax.

Maybe I am too old for this.

A young woman answered the door, maybe a college student. The music inside the house was so loud he was surprised she could hear the doorbell. She laughed at the sight of him and covered her mouth.

“A clown?” she shouted before he could say trick or treat.

“A scary clown,” he said weakly.

She tossed something into his bag and shook her head.

“Hardly,” she said.

The tears pooled again, but he didn’t care. He moved from house to house filling his bag and the taunts kept coming. Gavin shrugged them off. The heavier his bag became, the less the insults hurt. His mother made that costume and it was good enough for him. If only he’d painted on the face. It would’ve washed off. She should’ve let him—no—he should’ve just done it anyway. Suddenly, Gavin was angry with his mother. Angry with Gregory’s brother Mike. Angry with the college girl. Angry with Mr. Kaminski. Angry with the band Kiss… Then he was at Gregory’s door. It was 7:25.

He pushed the mask up on top of his head and wiped his eyes, now sore from crying. The doorbell brought thudding footsteps as someone approached. When it opened, Gregory stood there in a Superman costume, not a plastic one, but one stretchy fabric, exactly like the movie. He even had red boots like Christopher Reeve. Gregory’s hair was slicked back with just one curl on his forehead. Except for the muscles, which Gregory was sorely lacking, it was perfect.

Angry with Gregory.

“Come on in, man. Cool clown suit,” he said, but with a snicker.

In the background, Gavin saw Kiss. Mike and his three stooges sat at the kitchen table gobbling up the snacks that were supposed to be for Gregory’s party.

“Hey, it’s the queer clown. How’s your knee?”

The four of them roared again, and even Gregory laughed. As they turned past the kitchen into the living room where the other kids were, he saw they were laughing as well. Laughing at him. Laughing at Gavin. Laughing at his homemade costume and Woolworth’s mask. He dropped his bag of candy on the floor by the front door and reached into his pocket. The scissors were there, slick and cold and pointy. Scissors would help.

~ Dan Dillard

© Copyright 2013 Dan Dillard. All Rights Reserved.

666 Words

I’ve never had a pure thought in my life. At least none I can remember. I can live amongst the usual sinners, but I have a darkness that I can’t shed. It started when I was young, perhaps an infant, and long before any of you were born. The minister at our church was arrested for raping and murdering children when I was eleven. He was also my uncle, William. I often wonder if he is the root of my evil. He baptised me.

If one can bless water and make it holy…can one also curse water to make it wicked? If so, I think that may be what he did. A wise man, his death was a shame, and I do miss the times we spent together, at least those I haven’t forgotten.

There are bits and pieces of things I can remember. Now, I would call them rituals. At the time, I don’t think I had words for what they were. I can’t describe them thoroughly, but they involved blood, skulls, and the pitiful cries of animals. The room was always dark when things carried on the way they often did. The only light came from candles, black themselves aside from the flickering flames. Then they would extinguish, and the smell of hot wax and smoke from the wick would fill my nose. If my eyes adjusted quickly enough, I could watch that last faint ember go dead cold from its living, molten orange.

I still know right from wrong, but choose wrong more often than not. People will tell you that evil is the easy path, that it’s more difficult to be righteous in the eyes of God. I’ll tell you that is bullshit, and those people have never tried to cover up a triple homicide. They have never looked into the face of a loved one as the knife slid in and watched as betrayal became horror and then acceptance and then a lifeless hunk of meat. They’ve never tried to choke down a piece of undercooked human thigh. These are difficult things.

It is the meat I crave…the source is inconsequential.

I’ve been called a demon, an angel of death, a monster, a madman, a psychopath, and a murderer. All of those things are true. I deny none of it. I have solidified my position in hell, and I will be upset if anything less than a throne and full-time position are waiting for me upon my arrival.

And so here I sit, at what should be the end of my life, and instead look to the future. The past hundred years have been a learning experience, but my needs have waned. I wonder what violence might reinvigorate my soul, might bring me back again to my prime and excite the jagged things within me long ground smooth. I’ve sipped from war and famine,  I have feasted on disease and I’ve starved myself of affection and affectation. Love is a made up emotion, a primal need based upon hormonal imbalance.

I do miss these things. A belief in love gave me many pleasures. Pleasures of the flesh, pleasures of disappointing others, watching them suffer, watching them die at my hand…there was a rush of adrenaline that used to come with each sin, the anxiety of being caught, the ironic disappointment when I wasn’t, when I realized that getting away with it was easy…it was corralling the nerve in the first place that most lack.

There is truly nothing left under the sun for me. You might wonder, even aloud, if under the sun is where I dwell, and it might shock you to know that I do indeed. That I live everywhere you are, in your home, next door and at your office and those places you shop and in the people you trust. It takes very little to bring me to the surface, but so much effort to put me back once I am there. Remember that above all else.

 ~ Dan Dillard

© Copyright 2013 Dan Dillard. All Rights Reserved.

Damned Words 2


Dan Dillard

It began with one.
But bolt by bolt and rail by rail,
Walls he could not scale.
Leaving was to no avail.
The bastard.

I didn’t mean it as a snare,
At first, it was not a jail.
He had his way, but didn’t care
And now I laugh, I sit and stare.
I watch as he wails and calls
Begging me, “Tear down the walls!”
I  will not.

He will pay with dread and deal with pain.
The love I gave him not in vain.
The cage I built, his blood to stain.
He won’t make this mistake again.


Shiny, Pretty Things
Nina D’Arcangela

Obediently loyal, begging of my affection. Shining vibrantly, fools each one. Seeking my notice among the many. They cling to the side, perfection in every space; none dare lag behind. Repugnant they are.

One does catch my eye, not the brightest, not the flawless; but the least refined. Standing in front, lacking shimmer; displaying the audacity to perch to the left, head skewed slightly off kilter. Perhaps one of these fools is deserving. What use have I of minions made perfect? Give me the challenge; I will break him to my ideal. Yes, this one may be indeed be worthy.


Joseph A. Pinto

 I thought you would follow, but the willow reed swallowed me whole
At least that’s the excuse you sold…
I’d been too busy tightening bolts
Preparing for traffic that would never come.
On the opposite end of nothing now
I’ve teetered upon this sharp edge far too long
Waiting for that willow reed to part
A path once cut through it; I suppose now it’s gone
Should my bridge someday be crossed
Unlike that lost, forgotten route
I’ll keep to tightening bolts, even if my hands get torn
The willow reed once led the way, at least
So you’d sworn.


Cheap Champagne
Tyr Kieran

My vision blurs as if mocking the slur that hindered my tongue for the last hour. On the balcony, the cold aluminum railing burns my cheek, but serves to support me while I regain balance.

I’ve drowned out our honeymoon night, but she kept feeding me full glasses.

Agony hits and I collapse.

My new bride ignores me as she packs a suitcase on the bed.

“Help.” I moan. “It hurts!”

She steps out onto the terrace through the open sliding door and squeezes my face in her hands.

“Yeah, poison will do that, Dear. Thanks for the life insurance.”


Harvest House
Thomas Brown

Each day, when morning breaks, the gates unlock. Blue-eyed boys and blond-haired girls hop, skip and jump, crack silly jokes, kick chequered balls into an empty sky. A bell rings and they rush inside; Tom, Dan, Joe, Little Hunter drink juice, help themselves to biscuits, laughing, throwing punches, wiping crumbs from round their messy mouths.

After lunch the children play inside, read stories (Nina sings), fall fast asleep, and then, in that calm, soporific state begin to change. Skin shivers, splits revealing shells, long insect legs, click-clacking tongues; by night a horrid, hungry hive trapped inside this, their steel penal-nest.


Once Upon A Troll
Blaze McRob

This was once a peaceful place, the bridge above my home wooden and old. No one used it. Ah, except for the occasional foolish school child taking a short cut home. Tasty little creatures for a troll such as me.

Then they put in the steel girder bridge so the train could run over my home. No Damned peace now!

Tonight is a special run. The train will be filled with people.

The rivets are so easy for my strong fingers to turn and remove. Just perfect.

Falling into the middle of the river, the train will run no more.


Sealed Promises
Leslie Moon

All my living fears buried, banished, bolted
contained beneath earth’s seas.
Bound are the monsters was their promise to me.
My logic sneers, “Is the box today’s illusion?”
Placate and pacify where set in stone is a new dependence
and false security they can’t deny.
Their promises  fit neatly in those little pill squares.
Now that the voices have gotten louder where do I run?
Their hot breath growing fouler.
Red eyes at morning taunt my blinds.
Does no one heed the warning?
Make room in the canvas sack, seal out the sounds.
Give my reason back!


The Greatest Fraud

I see a world that no longer is, one in which I cannot live. Just as today, and each before, my mind closes another door. But like a movie without an end, the fire takes me back again. Life and death whiz past my head, I hear a thousand screams of dread.  I taste the blood upon my tongue, and smell the burning of the young.  While blades of green replace hot sands, I watch my life pour through red hands. I now know it was a war of swine that caused me to cross this bridge in pine.

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


Randy was a portrait of self-control. He typed furiously to keep his mind off of his bursting bladder. His left leg quaked and sweat beaded on his brow. He brushed a damp clump of hair back into place and looked nervously out of his cubicle. He typed some more.

It wasn’t a deadline he feared. It wasn’t a tyrannical boss with plans to keep him late or work him over the weekend. It wasn’t even a woman he’d slept with from another department, one who might swing by to make his life miserable. He swabbed the counter with a wet wipe and tossed it in the trash.

“You okay, buddy?”

It was a co-worker. Randy looked into a joke rear-view mirror that was taped to the top of his monitor to see to who it was. People in the mirror may be more annoying than they seem, was printed along the bottom. He recognized the face as Sam. They’d worked together for several years.

“Fine, just busy.”

“You sure? You’re sweating, dude.”

Randy checked his face in the little mirror and wiped his forehead with the sleeve of his shirt. The pain in his full bladder twinged again.

“Fine. Lots to do is all.”

Sam shrugged and left him there. He said, “Lunch at twelve, don’t be late,” as he walked away. “Yeah,” Randy muttered under his breath.

He looked at the clock to see lunch was still two hours away. Then he looked at his coffee mug and regretted the second cup. He couldn’t stand it anymore. His chair rocked up on two wheels, almost falling over as he shot from his cube. Stray papers slid off the desk and floated, like autumn leaves, to the floor.

Randy cringed, focusing all of his energy on the ice pick in his crotch. He felt the moisture on his temples start to drip down the sides of his face. The noise of the office, droning on as usual with phone calls and clacking keys and Xerox machines, seemed to grow in volume.

“Morning, Randy,” a chipper voice said.

He didn’t compute who it belonged to, but nodded. He could feel the eyes on his back, the concerned looks on the faces as he passed by, sweating, walking in a stilted, gotta-go manner. Then he reached the break room, feeling like he might explode, wetting himself in a moment of embarrassment he would never live down. His feet drug the carpeted floor with a scrubbing sound, and then he stamped them as if they were asleep. It helped briefly with the pressure before making it worse.

“Shit, shit, shit,” he whispered with each subsequent step until he reached the bathroom door. His hand wouldn’t reach for the handle. He stood staring at it, biting his lower lip and without realizing grabbing his penis with his other hand. The flow had released from his bladder and was only damned up by a finger-and-thumb tourniquet.

His eyes lingered on that brass knob, sparkling in the fluorescent light. He gritted his teeth. The knob pulsed along with the capillaries in his eyes. He could see things swimming on the handle, tiny things with legs. Globular things with cilia or flagella that slid across the metal as if they were taunting him. Randy increased the grip on himself. His stomach turned at the thought of touching the handle, boiling bile at the top of his esophagus. He was going to vomit or he was going to piss himself.

Voices from around the corner distracted him from the handle. They were walking toward him; they would see him holding himself and perspiring like some schoolyard pervert. The footsteps tapped on the linoleum of the break room floor. In a moment, they would hit the carpet and it would be too late. Randy grabbed the handle with a grunt, bursting into the bathroom and rushing to one of the three stalls. The door swung mostly shut behind him.

“Thank God,” he whispered.

The bathroom was empty, but he didn’t notice. He was busy unzipping his fly around his gripping fingers, rolling his boxers down to reveal himself to the porcelain receptacle.

“Thank God,” he repeated.

Then he let loose, spraying urine on the wall and the toilet seat before gaining control and letting the painful relief consume him. His sweat-covered body shuddered in the air conditioning. When he was finished, finally empty, he leaned against the wall of the stall, from one cubicle to another, and closed his eyes.

Someone else came in. The creak of the self-closing arm on the door caught Randy’s ear. There were two voices, some he didn’t recognize.

“Catch the game?” one said.

Randy relaxed at the dull banter. They weren’t checking on him and that was all that mattered. He would be able to plan his exit. How not to touch anything before getting back. His mind cranked out ideas, but all of them stopped at the bathroom door. He could get out of the stall and wash his hands in the sink, even leave the water running, but then what? He had to touch the door handle. It was crawling with bugs… just like everything else.

He could wait until one of the others—the bacteria infested—came in and the door would be open long enough to escape.

He waited for the other two men to leave. They laughed and washed their hands without a care, but Randy knew better. When the door closer creaked again, he let the stall open, and pulled the door in with his shoe.

He scanned the room, even bent down to look under the other two stalls. They were empty, but his face was only a foot from the floor and he caught a whiff of stale urine. He straightened slowly, watching the floor crawl with life. Cold shot up his spine causing goose bumps on his arms. Randy rushed to the sink, seeing the same things swirling and rolling across the hot and cold handles. He scowled at the soapy fingerprints on the mirror, the mysterious, brownish drip marks in the sink, the wadded up paper towels on the counter and on the floor. He twisted the handle for the hot water and waited to put his hands underneath it.

The water wasn’t pure. Randy could sense it. The soap dispenser had a button to push, but it was caked with liquid soap, crawling with life—demonic, microscopic death that was just waiting to engulf him and eat him molecule by molecule. Waiting to get inside his body and rot him from the inside.

He detected a hint of color to the water and his paranoid eyes grew wider as he stooped for a closer look. They were there, little monsters, swimming in the stream amongst the aerated bubbles. Then Randy lost his balance.

His shoe slid, just a bit, on the wet ceramic tile and a purely involuntary action sent him into fits. His hand touched the floor to keep him from falling. He mouthed a scream, but nothing came out. His body jerked to stand, rigid as a piece of dehydrated spaghetti. Holding his hand up in dramatic fashion, he stared in horror. Millions of crushed organisms coated the skin of his palm; millions of others swarmed the tiny carcasses and began to devour them. It was only a matter of time before they would multiply and start eating him.

He looked at the water. Swimming. The soap, completely engulfed. The mirror, covered in spatters of miscellaneous liquid and fingerprints of the uneducated. Back to his hand. Had they doubled already?


He backed into the corner praying the door would open. He could rush to his desk and sanitize his hands, then go home to his pristine shower. No one came in.

The creatures ate, growing larger, then dividing. So many he could feel them dancing across his skin, moving up his wrist to the flesh of his forearm, headed for center mass.

“No,” Randy whispered.

He started to shake, rubbing one hand over the other in an attempt to slough them off like an old skin. They just grabbed his other hand, splitting and multiplying, covering both hands.

“No,” he said, his voice wavering like a goat.

He dug his fingernails into his palms, trying to scrape them off. Then into his forearms, digging curls of skin loose. The scratch marks filled slowly with blood, then dripped onto the floor. He watched the floor bubble with microbial excitement, closing in on the red drops. Then, like tiny vampiric ants, the mass crawled toward him, covering his shoes, then up under his pant legs to his socks and onto the skin of his shins and calves. Randy screamed.

“Get them off of me!”

He clawed at the flesh of his arms, then his legs, pulling his pant legs up and scraping meat loose from his lower legs. He shrieked with fear, oblivious to the damage he had caused to his own body, blind to the blood and chunks of himself that he held in his own hands. He pulled at his cheeks, clawing at his eyeballs and penetrating one. One fingernail came off in a vicious yank. Terror was his anesthetic.

Sam entered the room in a rush just as Randy’s shrieks were dying down. His skin was pale, bluish. He glared at Sam with the eye that still worked.

“Jesus, Randy, what happened? What’s going on?”

Randy continued to dig hunks from his body.

“Don’t touch me,” he said, croaking the words out like a bullfrog. “They’ll get on you. Don’t touch me.”

Sam shouted for help, bringing others to the office restroom. He dialed his phone, calling for help.

“Don’t touch me,” Randy said again. “Filthy.”

He kept repeating the word, filthy, as the blood drained.

~ Dan Dillard

© Copyright 2013 Dan Dillard. All Rights Reserved.

Visions of the Reaper

The sky was so blue it hurt. Not a cloud, not a plane, not even a bird in sight. The air was warm, the humidity low and it smelled of jasmine and coffee. Corbin Adams walked with a skip in his step and a satisfied smile on his face. He considered it a perfect day. In his opinion, one of three in his entire thirty seven years. Maybe even his best day.

He’d been on a date the previous evening, and Ellie had kissed him full on the lips. Three hours ago, she’d called and thanked him for a wonderful evening and accepted his request for a lunch date. Corbin Adams was over the moon.

He’d longed for her ever since she’d come to his office, a new client, and sat in the marginally comfortable chair on the other side of his desk. A pudgy man, he’d had a tough time with woman. As a loan officer, he had a tough time with people in general, especially in the current economic climate. Ellie’s credit was sterling, her job secure, her income impressive, her hair soft, her lips full, her eyes dreamy and she’d agreed to a second date. It didn’t matter to Corbin that she was roundish as well. Nothing mattered because they were going to have lunch.  And if he didn’t screw that up, maybe dinner a second time.

It is a smashing day, the smashingest! he thought.

If only that dark figure wasn’t standing on the corner, all would’ve been perfect.  It made him feel uneasy and slowly deflating, like a balloon just untied and farting around the room in giant figure eights. He shuddered.

“You’re being silly,” he said to himself.

Three blocks away, it just stood there. Thoughts crossed his mind. Could it be a walk light with a trash bag wrapped around it, or a fallen awning? He squinted, trying to pull details from the distance, and walked another fifty paces. It didn’t flinch.

Corbin stopped, steadying his view, and smoothed back his thinning hair. Farsighted, he pulled his reading glasses down to the bulge of his nose and looked over them. It caused his double chin to stand out. A mannequin perhaps? Maybe a prop for a local theater version of “A Christmas Carol.”

Not in April, he thought.

It stood on the corner where he needed to turn to get to his second date with Ellie. He wouldn’t let anything interrupt that. Nothing could interfere with one of the three best days of his life.

There was no plastic bag wrapped around a traffic signal, walk-don’t walk or otherwise. It was a humanoid form, with black cloth draped over a thin frame. The few other pedestrians paid it no mind. Had it been there and he not noticed—an odd cigar shop Indian for some strange new store?

Then it moved. It shifted its stance and held up a gloved hand. The sleeve of its cloak slid down, revealing a pair of forearm bones, no skin attached. Corbin gasped.

It’s waving at me, he thought.

Sweat beaded on his forehead. He looked around to see if there was an alien, or some other creature waving back…hoping a costume party was gathering and he was in the middle. The street was empty, save for a single car going in the opposite direction. When he turned, the figure was gone.

“Shit,” he said.

He didn’t often swear, but felt it was appropriate under the strange circumstances.

There were three blocks between him and Amato’s Deli—Ellie’s  choice. Three blocks to go. He checked his watch. There was still plenty of time, fourteen minutes to be exact. He liked exact. He liked order. He liked black and white. He kept walking.

Corbin turned the corner and saw the black figure again. It was in front of the deli, two blocks away. He glanced across the street and saw the usual bustling shoppers and dwellers of town, but the sidewalk between Corbin and the thing was empty. When he looked back, the figure hadn’t moved. Its black hood fluttered in the breeze, giving a glimpse of the bony grin beneath. Corbin stopped. He could move no further.

His heart pounded, exiled from his chest, it lived in his throat.

“You don’t want me. You can’t want me,” he said, clutching at his swollen and throbbing neck.

Not on my perfect day. Not now, he thought.

Gathering himself, Corbin turned and stepped into a corner bookstore. A bell jingled announcing him and a kindly old woman stepped forward.

“Thanks for coming in,” she said.

He saw her but didn’t speak. Instead, he moved to the book stacks in the rear. There, he paced, trying to slow his pulse. The old woman stepped from behind the counter and smiled at him.

“If you need anything, just ask,” she said.

“I need a shrink,” he muttered below her radar.

There were four rows of shelves in the back of the store and Corbin fumbled from one to the next. Absently, he fingered the various book covers. The longer he paced, the sillier her felt. His face flushed.

“I’m an idiot. This is just nerves,” he said.

The bell above the front door jingled again and he froze. Fearing, for a moment, it was the black-cloaked thing, coming for him. He held his breath, and then turned to see. The old woman was inches from his face.

“You’ll not escape death in here,” she said with moist, rotten breath.

But it wasn’t her face. What he saw was hollowed-out with holes its eyes should’ve been. Corbin screamed. He stumbled out the door and down the two small steps to the sidewalk. He rushed to his right, then looked back and saw nothing. There was no one on the sidewalk and no monstrous hag with missing eyes. There was no skulking reaper.

He released the breath he’d been holding and checked himself. His shirt was untucked and there was a patch of sweat bleeding through the chest of his short-sleeve button-down.

“Calm down, Corbin,” he said and allowed himself a nervous chuckle.

Again, he noticed the blue sky, a brilliant color that reminded him of Ellie’s eyes, of his lunch date and of his perfect day. Still rattled, he looked back toward the bookstore. Nothing looked back. He checked his watch again.

“Shit,” Corbin said for the second time in one day.

Only the direst of circumstances called for two swears in the same afternoon. Had an hour really passed? Was he late for their meeting? He yanked the handle, pulling the deli door open as if he meant to take it off the hinges. Inside, he found the dining area empty and a young man behind the counter gave him a nod. Corbin sat in the last booth and watched the front door while he fumbled in his pocket for his cell phone.

He could simply explain. He could apologize for screwing things up and she would understand. Before he could dial, a shadow crawled over him and when he looked into it, he saw the boy from behind the counter.

“Can I get you somethin’?” the young man said.

Corbin looked out the window, hoping Ellie was also late and that he might see her rushing to the deli as he had.

“I was supposed to meet someone. Have you seen…”

He stopped because the boys eyes were hollow, and the skin on his face had shriveled to reveal a grinning skull. A plume of black smoke wrapped the monster in a grave hug as the boy-reaper-thing slid into the other side of the booth.

“You’re quite evasive,” it said.

Corbin couldn’t speak, he only stared. A sick feeling ate his perfect day and swallowed it whole.

“I rather enjoy a good chase,” it continued.

Corbin closed his eyes and found his voice. A single tear leaked out.

“I’m…not ready to die.”

The reaper laughed a most horrible sound. At the same time, Ellie emerged from the bathroom. Her face was wrinkled with anger as she looked around the room. She slammed the door, but it made no sound. She walked to the counter and spoke to the boy, now back at his post, but her high heels didn’t click on the tile floor, and her words were muted. Corbin looked back to the reaper. It was still chuckling.

“But you are already dead,” it said.

It was then Corbin noticed the blood smeared on his hand, the gash where his broken radius and ulna protruded. A greenish artery leaked onto the table. Then, he remembered the accident. He remembered being so giddy after Ellie’s phone call that he’d run a red light on his way to work. The mess the truck made of his tiny hybrid, of his pudgy body, was astonishing.

The reaper giggled again, like a maniac from a black and white horror film.

“I only wish to take you home,” it said.

~ Dan Dillard

© Copyright 2013 Dan Dillard. All Rights Reserved.