Category: Tribute


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?

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.

 

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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…

Special Paper

Late night rainstorms are like Santa Claus, leaving little presents for any child who knows where to look for them the next morning.  Alvie Harrison was such a child; jumping from puddle to puddle, trying his best to splash them into the trees behind his house, but doing a better job of drenching his t-shirt instead.

Alvie was going to see his Great Uncle Bakchos who lived down the way.  Uncle Bakchos had a wonderful garden, full of brilliantly-colored plants and flowers; a hedge maze and topiary beasts from far away worlds. It was one of Alvie’s favorite places to play, particularly after a good rainstorm.

Uncle Bakchos looked almost exactly like his brother, Alekos, Alvie’s grandfather and the man Alvie was named after, except that Uncle Bakchos had a short, white beard.  When Alvie came into the yard, he found his Uncle sitting at a small, stone table and eating grapes.  A rolled-up piece of paper sat on the table in front of him.

“Hello, Uncle Bakchos!” Alvie greeted him, smiling.  But his uncle was lost in thought, staring at the clouds in the distance and nibbling his grapes.  Finally, he snapped to attention and noticed Alvie staring at him.

“Alvie!  Oh, my boy, good to see you, good to see you.”

Alvie reached for the paper, “What’s this?”

“Aye, be careful!” Uncle Bakchos picked up the paper, “Gently, my boy, gently.”  He started to unroll the paper for Alvie to see.  Alvie looked at the charcoal drawings and his eyes lit up.

“A map!  I love maps.”

Uncle Bakchos smiled.  “This isn’t just any map, but a map drawn on Sendak paper!”

Alvie noticed the other blank sheets of paper under his uncle’s map.  “What’s Sendak paper?”

Uncle Bakchos’ eyes went somewhere far away as he explained.

“It’s special.  Unique in all the world for its ability to take you to a wonderful place, where the wild things live.  Home of the boy king and the dancing.  Ah, yes, the dancing.”

“Dancing?” Alvie grimaced, “I don’t know about dancing.  But boy kings and wild things sound nice.  I’d like to go!”

Uncle Bakchos smiled and patted Alvie’s head.

“Of course you do, my boy!” Uncle Bakchos said, pulling a stick of charcoal from his shirt pocket and handing it to Alvie.  “Here.  You’ll want to make a map of your own.  Things may have changed since your grandfather and I went those many years ago.  But Alvie,” he handed the boy a piece of Sendak parchment, “remember this.  You’ll cross a large sea.  On the other side, you must be the fiercest of all wild things and look them in the eye.  And when you arrive, a boy king yourself, try the dancing.  I don’t think you will mind so much.  For it is a dance, once learned, that will stay with you when the world turns gray.  A stray bit of light against the shadows.”

Alvie stuck the charcoal stick in his pocket and then carefully rolled up the Sendak paper, ready to go.

“Well, okay.  I’ll try the dancing.  But if I don’t like it, I’ll just stop.  Kings don’t have to dance when I’m king.”

Uncle Bakchos grinned once more before sending Alvie on his journey.

*          *          *          *          *          *          *

R.I.P.  Maurice Sendak

Helmsman of the first fantastic voyage I ever went on, allowing the blueprint for many of my childhood adventures thereafter.