Category: Short Fiction


Henry folded up the packing box and looked around the kitchen. He couldn’t help a little pride showing on his face at having finally finished. That was the last box. They were finally all moved into their first house as a family.

Teresa had gone out to pick up some dinner, Chinese, from a take-out place that one of their new neighbors had mentioned, and some celebratory wine for later that evening. Henry imagined how, once their daughter Gabriella was asleep, that the wine might lead to Teresa and he revisiting the conversation they’d started that morning, about christening their new home; surface by surface and in varying degrees of undress.

Henry was pulled out of his daydreaming revelry by the sound of Gabriella’s voice coming from down the hall. Gabriella was precocious, as four-year-olds can be. Teresa had mentioned that their little one had seemingly entered into the imaginary friend stage of childhood that some kids do, as she had heard Gabriella talking to an empty room on more than one occasion since they moved in.

Henry smiled and walked down the hall toward his daughter’s room, wishing to see such a precious moment for himself. Gabriella’s imagination astounded him sometimes, with the stories she would make up and the questions she would ask. He paused at Gabriella’s closed bedroom door and listened.

“I don’t have toys like that,” she said, matter-of-factly, “but I have a dragon named Hocus that you can play with.”

Henry’s smile widened.

“No.”

Henry thought maybe he could hear some rustling papers, like Gabriella was coloring with her new friend. “The girl’s my mom and the boy is my dad.”

Henry suppressed a giggle at the cuteness of the situation.

“No, they’re nice. They wouldn’t do something like that.”

Henry’s smile slightly faded.

Gabriella’s bedroom beyond the closed door went quiet. Henry began to smell a strange scent and he quickly opened Gabriella’s door.

His little girl looked up at Henry from a small pile of papers surrounding her and smiled at him.

“Hi, Daddy, are you done?” She got up and walked over to Henry, hugging his leg, “Can we play a board game now?”

Henry carefully took a small step back so that he could look down at her. “Gabriella, what is that smell? Did you get into your mother’s perfumes again?”

Gabriella’s smile folded up into a look that showed she remembered once getting into trouble for playing in her mother’s things without permission and she gave Henry a quick “No.” Then she tilted her little head to the left and sniffed, followed by a tilt to the right and sniff. “What smell, Daddy?”

Henry sniffed the room but the smell was gone.

“I –” he sniffed again to be sure, “never mind. I heard you talking to someone, though, and thought –” Henry stopped himself. He actually didn’t know what he’d been thinking or why he’d gotten so unnerved.

“Oh,” Gabriella said, “that’s the boy who lives here. He plays with me sometimes.”

“Gabriella, you know that it’s just you, me and Mommy living here.” Imaginary friends, to Henry, had suddenly become less precocious than, say, scary. The idea now made him feel that Gabriella was unsafe.

Gabriella seemed to weigh this statement for a second, her little girl’s mind allowing the truth of the situation.

“Well, he used to live here before we did, I guess. Maybe he still has a key?”

Henry didn’t respond. He was the adult, after all. No need to frighten his daughter with what he felt, particularly since he couldn’t explain these sudden scared feelings.

“He lives in our house with his mom. He said his dad used to be here, too, but now he can’t find him.” Gabriella continued as she dug out the Candy Land box from beneath a stack of books and toys, “He told me his mom has bad dreams in the daytime.” The feeling of fear crept back over Henry as he looked down at the pages on the floor where Gabriella had been sitting. They were awful images of dead bodies taken from countless magazines and newspapers. All of the terrible things that humans can do to one another, splayed on the floor like a mosaic of horror amidst his daughter’s Elmo and favorite Barbie.

“Daddy,” Gabriella asked, her face scrunched up quizzically as Henry felt the panic overwhelm him, “how come boys can turn blue?”

* * * * *

Teresa poured the wine again, refilling first Henry’s glass and then her own. Their Chinese food sat untouched on the dining room table, where she’d placed it upon returning home to Henry’s stack of death and gore pages.

She sipped her wine. All thoughts of a night of carnal pleasure with her husband, the night’s previous intent, had disappeared – the images of death had taken care of that – but seeing Henry so scared when she got home, the story he was telling, had caused her to drink the first glass too quickly. Her nerves were settling now and she wanted to keep a clear head.

“Gabriella had these?” Teresa asked as Henry returned from getting their daughter to sleep in their bed. Somehow their room had felt safer.

“It’s like I said,” Henry began, taking a healthy swig from his wine glass as well, “I heard her talking to someone and went into her room. She was looking at these on the floor when I came in.”

“Did she – I mean, is it possible she found them stuffed into one of the closets? Someplace we must’ve missed when we bought the house?”

Henry took a deep breath and exhaled. He finished his second glass of wine with a gulp. “I dunno. Maybe.”

Teresa took another sip of wine, letting her better logic overtake her wilder imaginings. Her rational mind slowly explaining away the This Is What You Should Do rules of every crappy horror movie she’d ever seen as nonsense. Henry seemed to be calming down, too.

“Gabriella was just so . . . creepy! The way she nonchalantly asked me about this kid being blue,” Henry shivered.

“I thought about that part, too,” Teresa said, “and I’d bet you anything it’s because we let her watch Avatar with us. Our last night in the apartment, remember?”

Henry smiled and cocked his head back in a sigh. “Avatar! I hadn’t even thought of the connection.” He finished off the wine bottle into his glass as he and Teresa gave over to giggles of relief.

“Kids do that,” Teresa laughed, “make those kinds of weird connections in the stories they make up. Pulling stuff from all over the place. If you’d asked her, I bet the boy had a tail.” Henry continued to laugh, albeit quietly so as to not wake Gabriella. “I mean, I don’t blame you,” Teresa continued, “for freaking out. Those pictures are awful and we should pitch them in the trash right now, but I think she just found them somewhere and didn’t understand them. We’ll talk to her about them in the –”

It was right then that an odor, the smell that Henry had first smelled in Gabriella’s room, overwhelmed the dining room.

“Oh, God,” Teresa said, covering her nose from the strong scent, “what is –“

Then, from their bedroom down the hall, from the master bath, they could hear the water blast on from the bathtub faucet. The sounds as if it were filling came down the hallway and it hit Henry, what the smell was.

What he’d smelled in Gabriella’s room earlier.

The overpowering scent now.

It was bubble bath soap.

The kind you use for a child’s bath.

“Mommy!” Gabriella screamed at the exact moment that the doors began opening and slamming shut all around the house.

Teresa toppled her chair over, hopping out of it. Henry knocked the table aside as both parents raced down the hall toward their bedroom.

The door was closed. The sound of the bathtub filling up was the only sound from behind it.

“Gabriella!” Teresa screamed as Henry kicked at the door to open.

“Teresa,” Henry kicked again and again, “it won’t – Gabriella!” he pounded on the door.

Silence.

The bedroom door opened.

The room was turned topsy-turvy; anything in it scattered or broken. Henry and Teresa ran in, scouring for any sign of Gabriella amidst the strewn clothes, bedclothes and broken lamps, only to come up empty-handed.

“Henry,” Teresa said, pointing to the closed bathroom door.

They couple went over to the door and turned the handle.

The bathroom was filled with steam, but they could each make out Gabriella sitting on the toilet with her legs drawn up to her chest. She was staring toward the bathtub. The shower curtain was drawn closed.

“His mommy was so scared, but,” Gabriella said, turning wide-eyed to her parents as Henry ran to her, “he can’t breathe.” Her eyes brimmed with tears.

Teresa let her hand fall gently from the top of her daughter’s head as her eyes looked toward the shower curtain.

Legs shaking, Teresa walked toward the bathtub.

She drew back the curtain.

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This year for my October Friday flash pieces I’m doing homages to my favorite four Stephen King horror novels.

Last week was The Shining, which you can read here if you like: 217

As always, I hope you enjoy.

*     *     *     *     *

The dog couldn’t have known how his day would go, playing in the field as he was.  There was sunshine.  There was field.  There was rabbit.  Rabbit was fun to chase.  Rabbit was always fun to chase.

The bat flew into the small cavern’s wall.  Again.  Up was down, it seemed, and the bat thought the glimmering ray of sunshine streaming into its domain might possibly taste of red-heat-pain-shiny.

It wasn’t so much that the dog particularly wanted the rabbit, not really.  It was just so cocky with its bounce and dart and weave, its fluffy cottony tail and – oh! almost got it.  So close.

The bat twisted its head quickly, back and forth, the froth building up around its mouth like an overzealous child learning to brush their teeth.  It looked to its fellow bats, squinting its beady eyes in confused hate.

This rabbit was a quick one, the dog must give credit where it’s due.  Terribly fast.  But he thought he would wear it down eventually.  And then, once the rabbit was tired – when he caught it and won, the rabbit would lie down (the dog would flip it up in the air once or twice to make sure it was sleeping) and then he would bring the rabbit to his boy.  He loved his boy, more than a nice steak bone.  Well, just as much.  No, no, more than a steak bone.

The trembling. . .the red-heat-pain-shiny noise that the bat heard in its ears/head/wing/heart was BARKBARKBARK and it trembled and could not stop trembling.  The cave vibrated, the bat felt, with waves of thumping.

Oh no you don’t – dang it! – that rabbit bunnied its way down that hole.  But that wouldn’t stop the dog, no way.  Well, he’d just follow in and. . .nope.  Hole’s too small for that.  Well, the dog figured he’d just have to call the rabbit back.  This was no fair, after all, no fair at all for a chase, running where the bigger dog couldn’t run.  So he barked and he barked.

The fever rose up then in the bat.  Restlessness in all of his company.  Annoyance at the noise.  NOISE.  “Get the noise” the bat thought, “make it stop” thought the company.  And the bat knew that to stop the noise it must bite and scratch.  It followed the swell of bats that attacked in the dark, attacked the noise.  Maybe the bat could lose the trembling red-heat-pain-shiny in the blood.

The dog heard his boy calling him home and was happy to heed the call, trying his best to lick and groom his aching nose, his face.

Those funny-looking mice played too rough.

217

This year for my October Friday flash pieces I’m doing homages to my favorite four Stephen King horror novels.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

*     *     *     *     *

“Enjoy your stay!” the clerk says, handing you your room key.  Is it odd that the chipper tone of his voice in no way matches the haunted, hollow look in his eyes?

No matter.

Thanking him with a nod you gather your overnight bag and head for the lift.  As you wait you feel a chill run down your back, goosefleshing your arms.  Well, it is Colorado.  There’s bound to be a nip in the air.  You can pull a sweater out once you’re in your room.

The lift arrives, doors sliding open to reveal its operator standing attentively.  You look up and stifle a gasp.  For a second, merely the quickest flash, you would have sworn that the man’s face was. . .wrong, though you can’t explain it beyond that.

“Going up?” his game show host smile painted on.

You enter the lift, shaking the fading image of his jagged, tilting face dismissively from your mind.  You tell him your floor as he closes the lift’s doors, his eyes looking forward.

You feel the presence of others now, like the lift is overcrowded; forcing you to share space, share breathing air – arm to arm and crotch to butt.  Only there isn’t anyone else there but the operator.

The chill goes up your back again.

You hurry from the lift as it opens, unable to find the nerve to look back at it.  It must be the mountain air.  Making you think childish thoughts; seeing things, feeling things that aren’t there.

You’ll feel better once you’re in your room.

The hallway is a long one, the only sound the soft wooshing of your steps on the carpet.  Not a soul around.  Well, maybe souls but none inside a living body.

Stop it!  Why did you think that?  What a creepy thing to ponder.

Your hands give an involuntary shudder.  It’s because you’re so chilly, so unaccustomed to this climate.

Mountain air.

Wait, was that –

The peephole of that room as you walked by. . .the way the light from the other side of the door moved, blinked, like someone, someone inside that room was watching.

Watching you.

No!

Ridiculous.  You’re being silly.

You quicken your pace anyway, all but running until you get to your room, slide the key in the door, turn it and shut the door behind you.

You realize that you are gasping – completely out of breath.

Shh-hhh.  Shh-hhh.  Shh-hh.

Just relax.  Slow it down.  Close your eyes.  Breathe in, breathe out.  It’s okay.  There you go, getting back to normal.  You’re just tired is all.  A good night’s rest will do you.  There we go.

Only.

There’s a second faint sound now, isn’t there?  It’s music playing; big band.

Now a New Year’s Eve countdown, and

Shh-hhh.  Shh-hhh.  Shh-hh.

That’s not your breathing.  It’s not –

Shh-hhh.  Shh-hhh.  Shh-hh.

Something, something coming from the bathroom.  Water sloshing.  Is someone there?

Shh-hhh.  Shh-hhh. Shh-hh.

Is someone there?

I drink my tea amidst an endless stream of noxious revelry, pantomiming the back-slapping and chest-bumping that tends to accompany such occasions so as to not reveal myself to this party of do-gooders – these Fix It Folks, of which I’ve inconveniently found myself embedded.

Any fool paying attention could see that my smile doesn’t reach my eyes; my hypocrisy’s line in the sand, it seems, that last inch of which I cannot give.

Oh, how I hate them.

*     *     *     *     *

2B began a dancing spin, a whirligig of emotion, across the room, letting her blue Solo cup fly empty from her hand as her long, silver hair twirled around her head in thick, chaotic tendrils.

“This calls for something stronger than tea!” she laughed, grabbing 5B – they hadn’t the chance to learn each other’s actual names – by the hands, forcing the younger girl to drop her cup as well and join in the dance.  “3B, don’t you agree?”

The young girl, 5B, twenty if she was a day, with her deep, dark, purple Kool-Aid hair, laughed, “It’s like a nursery rhyme! ‘3B, don’t you agree?’, ‘3B, don’t you agree?’!” and the two spun in quick circles, round and round.

3B, dark-skinned and thin in his white cotton undershirt and blue jeans, smiled at the two women and then finished his tea; refilling his Solo cup from the gallon jug that 1B was sharing with them.

“Appreciate the sweet tea, ma’am,” he said, walking over and refilling 1B’s cup before replacing it in her refrigerator.

1B returned his smile, “De nada.  Have as much as you like.” Her arthritic hands didn’t seem to be bothering her as much tonight.

4B, a slightly overweight man in his late 30s, came in through the open apartment door swigging the last of his tea.  “That’s it, folks, we’ve done it.  The dimensional gateway linking each of our realities is closed, save for the tunnel that will return us to our individual reality’s Apartment B.

2B and 5B stopped spinning to listen to 4B’s message of all clear.

“So, now, you’re saying a spatial chronoworm – did I get that right?” 2B asked.

“A giant spatial chronoworm, yes.” 4B explained, putting his cup down on 1B’s coffee table, avoiding the Asker and Folks magazines that were splayed out there.

“Right, a giant spatial chronoworm, sorry, ate through the walls of each of our apartments in an attempt to. . .I admit, this is where you lost me.”

4B laughed, “I’m impressed that it took you until there to get lost.  And it wasn’t your apartment walls, so much as your reality’s walls, but that’s neither here nor there.  Spatial chronoworms tend to. . .”

*     *     *     *     *

Admittedly, I miscalculated with the worm.  It quickly got beyond my control, obstinate creatures that they are.  There’s just no telling which way or when that they will go.  The fact that I needed to rely at all on these, these, pedestrian nobodies!  I should kill them all is what I should do.

They’ve served their purpose.  All is safe now; I ought to just wipe them out and be about my business.

Oh, should the Confederation of Scoundrels ever catch wind of this, I don’t know what would happen.  I’d be out every penny of union dues, that much is certain.

Not to mention my parking space.

A Birthday Story #2

This tale, just like last year’s, is a little too long to be an actual flash, I know. Once again I wrote a story as a birthday gift for my wife and asked for any and all outside prompts via social media before writing anything. The list that came from that was: The Oregon Trail, Wonka’s Fizzy Lifting Drink, giant atomic robo-chimps, Kiya and Roxie (our pets), robots, two turntables and a microphone, snow, Steve Guttenberg, a princess in a boat, a baby, and couch circles.  This is what came of it.

Hope you enjoy.

 

A Birthday Story:

A Roxie and Kiya Adventure

Once upon a time there was a gray tabby cat named Roxie and her little sister, a mixed husky/shepherd dog, named Wakiya (though everyone called her Kiya for short).  They lived together with their adoptive parents and had many adventures independently of one another.

This tale, however, is of an adventure that they shared.

You see, our story begins on a cold, winter’s night; a Thursday, if memory serves.  A blanket of snow covered everything for miles around outside.  Roxie was asleep in her spot, curled up on her parents’ bed and dreaming of days gone by.  (Roxie was a retired ninja assassin, you see, so it’s best that we not dwell on the specifics of her dreams so as to keep things PG here.)

Kiya, for her part, was in her usual spot: right outside the closed bedroom door, nose pressed against the crack under the door.  Kiya loved her sister too much, one might say, as she always wanted to nibble her, hence the closed bedroom door.

“Roxie?” Kiya asked from under the door.

“Go away.” Roxie responded, her paw over her eyes.

“It’s just that –”

“I’m asleep.” Roxie meowed.

“If you could just let me”

“No.”

“grab you and maybe flip you around”

“No.”

“– only a little! – I think that I”

“No.”

“could get over this.”

And so it went.  Kiya, with the single-mindedness of any good dog, stayed at her self-appointed post by the door while Roxie tried to sleep, ignoring her little sister’s exasperated sighs.

Until the robots came.

The sisters heard the lasers firing outside first, then the clomp-clomp-clomp of the robot army making its way down the road outside.

Kiya barked and then ran to the window.  Then she barked again.

“Stop that!” Roxie yelled from the bedroom, looking out her own window while she was at it.

“But that’s how they know that I’m ferocious,” Kiya explained through the wall, “and also that squirrels are out there.  Grrrr, squirrels!”

Roxie hopped down under their parents’ bed and grabbed a hidden cache of weapons.

“Whatcha doin’?” Kiya asked from under the door.

“Never you mind.”

“Aww, just tell me.”

“I must prepare to defend the house while Mother is away.”

“Daddy’s gone, too.” Kiya explained.

Roxie had a hard time acknowledging any people beyond their mother.  She knew a guy lived with them in the house, too, but she preferred to think of him as an indentured servant, referring to him only as the Fat Man.

“Hurrumph.” Roxie said, pulling a pair of katana swords from her case.

“Wait,” Kiya said, “I’m coming too!  I can help.” And she scampered down the hall to her kennel.

“I’m opening this door now, Kiya,” Roxie said, her paw on the handle, “and I am quite well armed.  If you even so much as open your mouth near me I’ll…Kiya?” she peered outside the cracked door.  Kiya wasn’t to be seen.

Roxie could hear the robot armada destroying houses all around the neighborhood.  She threw the door open and slid silently down the hall toward the front door.  Suddenly, the chairs from the kitchen table flipped over and Kiya jumped out wearing her blanket like a cape.

“I’m Bat-Hound.” She growled in her extra gravelly Christian Bale voice.

Roxie looked at her and rolled her eyes.  “What is that on your blanket?”

“That’s a giant atomic robo-chimp.” Kiya stated, matter-of-factly, “Giant atomic robo-chimps are cool.  And since we’re going to fight robots you need a giant atomic robo-chimp to fight them.  The robots.  Can I bite you?”

The pair slipped out the front door (doors were quite easy for Roxie to work, you see) and made their way toward the robotic commotion.  Kiya stopped to pee multiple times and once Roxie even had to double back to collect her from the window of the neighbor’s house where she was watching Willy Wonka.

“Aw, but it’s the fizzy lifting drink scene!” Kiya whispered.

“Let’s go!” Roxie commanded.

The robot army was destroying all in its path and they were a mere six or seven houses from the sisters’ house.  Roxie drew her swords while Kiya peed again.

“Snow peeing is not happy peeing.” Kiya said, making Roxie recall, fondly, how she’d staved off, alone, an alien invasion two summers ago in the case of the couch circles.  (Similar to crop circles only they appeared in abandoned malls.  They’d been from a race of fat aliens who’d been gaining sustenance from our television signals only to become angered at the forced diet of reality TV, which to them tasted like unsalted, unbuttered popcorn.)

Roxie grabbed Kiya by the ear and pulled her head close to her mouth.

“Ouch!” Kiya complained.

“Listen!” Roxie whispered through gritted teeth, “Those things are almost to our house.  They seem to be following the Oregon Trail regardless of what’s in their way.”

“What’s the Oregon Trail?” Kiya whispered back through gritted teeth in a mimicky sort of way.

“It was on PBS the other day and – it doesn’t matter!” Roxie yelled, letting Kiya’s ear go, “I’ve got an idea but I need to make a call.  Can you stall them for a second?”

Kiya stood up straight and tall, puffing her chest out.  “No problem!”

And she ran out into the street to face the metal horde while Roxie slipped into a neighbor’s house to use the phone.  As she punched in the number, she heard Kiya outside.

There’s a destination a little up the road, from the habitations and the towns we know.  A place we saw the light’s turn low, jig-saw jazz and the get-fresh flow.”

“Is that –” Roxie wondered, “is she singing Beck?”

Kiya did a little soft shoe as the robots marched closer.

Where it’s at!  I got two turntables and a microphone.” She danced in a slow circle.

Suddenly, what looked to be a flying row boat piloted by a small, green baby with red hair came from behind the army of robots.

“I am Princess WafflePixie and I demand to know who you are to think that you can stop my army of robot minions!” the baby looked to be close to throwing a tantrum.

“I’m Kiya and I’m a pretty girl.” Kiya barked, “My momma said so.”

“Today is your last, Kiya!” Princess WafflePixie shouted, “Destroy her!”

“Not so fast.” A voice said from behind Kiya.

“Steve Guttenberg!” the robot army yelled out in unison.

“Steve Guttenberg!” Princess WafflePixie yelled from her flying row boat.

“Squirrel!” Kiya yelled and ran toward a nearby tree.

It turned out that Roxie had been owed a favor from Steve Guttenberg for a job she had done a long time ago.  And, as everyone knows, Steve Guttenberg is like Elvis Presley to the robot world, so Princess WafflePixie was forced to surrender once her army refused to cause anymore carnage.

Once the day was saved, thanks mostly to Roxie (though Kiya helped a little), the sisters returned to their positions at home with their parents none the wiser as to anything out of the ordinary having taken place.

Ya know, outside of the surrounding neighborhood being all but decimated.

NaNoWriMo

So, I’ll be taking a break from writing flash pieces for the month of November to focus on this challenge of writing a novel in one month.  (I know, I’m doubting my sanity as well.)
Wish me luck!

Lord of the Night

So here it is, the last of my Halloween pieces paying tribute to the Universal Monsters.

If you have any interest in the other pieces:

The first was Frankenstein’s Monster, here.

Second, The Wolf-Man, here.

And up third, The Mummy, here.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

*     *     *     *     *

The Night belongs to monsters.

It is the folly of men that they forget this truth, allowing for sleep to come easily with dreams unguarded.

Windows unlatched.

Gu-gum…gu-gum…gu-gum…

He had heard her heartbeat drumming his invitation from the street below.  His lifeless lips parted at the thought of soft, warm flesh; his teeth, instantly aroused.  He knelt to grant his kiss, watching intently as her neck pulsed in time with the beating of her heart.

Gu-gum…gu-gum…gu-gum…

She stirred, ever so slightly as he tended her; heartbeat quickened with the hint of his touch.  He carefully wound his spirit through hers, softly exploring like a gentleman thief as he drank deeply from the source of her.

Gu-gum, gu-gum, gu-gum

He saw in her the beauty of life in the sunrise.  The glow of days yet to come burned a soft flame, all but extinguished by his shadow.

And still, he drank.  Her life raced to him, begging to be taken.

Gu-gumgu-gumgu-gum

He stopped, short of snuffing her flame completely, closing his eyes and his lips as he stood, shaking off that pull of life like an uncomfortable thought.  When once more his eyes were open, their steely gaze returned to her sleeping body.

He listened.

Gu-gum…gu-gum…gu-gum…

He slowly made his way back to the window, stopping to look back only once.

She was his now, as it should be.

As he wished it.

For the Night belongs to monsters.

And he was Lord of the Night.

Rise Again

Another of my shorts celebrating the Universal Monsters in honor of Halloween.

The first, if you’re interested, was Frankenstein’s Monster, here.

Second, The Wolf-Man, here

As always, I hope you enjoy.

 

*     *     *     *     *

 

The gods whisper, ever-present beneath the dunes; though their voices over the eons had become mere wind-strewn sand across the desert floor.

Its face cracks upon the utterance of the incantation, the body’s way of acknowledging Time as master of all things before awareness can even set in.  Wrappings cling too tightly over long dead skin, making simple gestures – the moving of a hand – tedious.

But the flesh will have its way.

And so the wrappings loosen, one end falling to the temple floor.

Sst.

With Time paid its due, awareness gives way to thought, allowing the thing that had forgotten having ever been a man, to remember.

And with memory comes desire.

Sst…sst.

She was his everything, now as then.  Leaving the land of mortal men had done nothing to dull the ache he felt at her absence.  The longing.  He would shadow Eternity if need be, align all of heaven with the dark arts of hell, if that’s what it took.

He began to feel emboldened in his steps.

Sst…sst…sst.

The scroll was nearly his.

Within reach of his withered hand.

Just a few more steps.

Sst…sst…sst…

Change

Another of my shorts celebrating the Universal Monsters in honor of Halloween.  The first, if you’re interested, was Frankenstein’s Monster, here.

Hope you enjoy.

*     *     *     *     *

 

The wind sounds a lonesome tune.

Wshhhhhhh.

Mourning at dusk, the Moon has no wish to incite the Change.  She can’t help that their cycles match.  No one asked her thoughts on the matter.  Does the Moon bring the Change or is that backward?

Everything is still.

Except the wind.

Wshhhhhhh.

Over the years he’s become accustomed to his joints popping; of blood boiling its passage through his veins as the beast’s coat arrives.

Of hearing nothing but heartbeats.

And the wind.

Wshhhhhhh.

But there’s no getting used to his mind’s behavior, as it crests the verge of no longer being his.

How it unfolds, slowly, filling with his heart’s blood until bursting, forcing the beast from the quiet, hidden cave in his mind.

Madness given form, dressed in nightmare.

Wshhhhhhh.

Finally, the Moon can wait no longer.  In her fullness their terms are met.  Would she weep for him, were she able?  Offer a balm for his weary soul?  He wondered sometimes.

But for naught.

For in the end, it is always the beast she chooses.

It is the beast she dances with as it howls.  As it hunts.

The wind serves as their tempo.

Wshhhhhhh.

Almost There

The large man walked up the staircase towards the open door.

Thump.  Thump.  Thump.

His coat itched along the back of his neck, right at the hairline.

Thump.  Thump.  Thump.

It had been such a long, hard day at work, he longed for the comfort of bed.

Thump.  Thump.  Thump.

His coat would need mending, he knew.  People in the village, always with their torches and pitchforks.

Thump.  Thump.  Thump.

Where was all the hay? that’s what he wondered.

Thump.  Thump.  Thump.

And after doing the math at $1.60 a torch, that was some action he wouldn’t mind getting in on.

Thump.  Thump.  Thump.

So close he could nearly feel the cool pillow on his face.

“Dear,” his wife said, already cozied up under the blankets, “you forgot to put the cat out before coming up.”

Thump.  Thump.  Thump.