Friday, October 31, 2014

Decorated - The Halloween Story

             The table was decorated with all the Halloween finery Jim could muster. Spider cakes and Gummy Worms, Spaghetti brain salad, baby back ribs, Frankenstein Jell-O mold, monster napkins and party cups and a ratty looking Old Miss Havisham table cloth and candelabra. It was lit under a blood red light fixture draped with spider webs and gooey looking drippings. The dining room was festooned in black and purple bunting and the orange and black streamers coiled along the ceiling. The family photos on the walls were replaced with eerie holograms of phony ghostly old world photos.

            The front room was decked out in similar creepy fashion, severed limbs for arm rests on the couch, a bed sheet ghost hung carefully in the corner above the little smoke machine. A thin mist rolled along the front room floor up to a bubbling cauldron of punch. Jim was quite satisfied that his Halloween party would be the best one of the year. He’d spared no expense on little frights throughout the house. He even managed to find little sensors with motion activation speakers that screamed whenever someone went into the bathroom. He was sure it would be hilarious. He checked his watch and still had two hours before any guests would arrive. Plenty of time for him to get ready in his headless horseman costume. He’d gone to an old Opera house’s costume sale and he purchased one of the finest made costumes. It was all gold epaulets and blue velvet. It looked like it was straight out of Sleepy Hollow.

            The vampire clock in the kitchen hallway chimed the six o’clock hour with a sinister laugh. Jim chuckled and rubbed his hands together with excitement. He had no doubt whatsoever that this Halloween party would be the one people talked about for years to come. Whenever people thought about Halloween they’d think of his awesome party. He knew it would be great and all the sexy costumed girls would be ready to drop their panties for him all night, either out of fear or totally drunken compliance. It couldn’t be better.

            Jim went through his scary music collection by the stereo and removed all the terrible Halloween songs, Thriller and the Monster Mash would not be included in his party. He’d downloaded the music from the Exorcist and other terrifying movies, but not that ridiculous Michael Meyers music though. He hated that one. It was so over played at Haunted Houses and people got bored of it very quickly. He’d play chilling songs that slowly escalated into more danceable tunes. Tunes the scantily clad costumed women would enjoy. Jim loved Halloween for giving women permission to dress like complete sluts. He also enjoyed the scare factor, but seeing a woman’s bosom smashed into a sexy corset was an added bonus.

            Jim went on Facebook to check the invite status of his guests. The majority had accepted, with a few maybes. He’d invited mostly women to the party to create a three women to one man ratio. A Halloween party just isn’t a good party if it’s all dudes drooling over the one slutty Zebra or Bumblebee.

            Jim went to the kitchen to check on the hors d’oeuvres of lady fingers that looked like fingers and the cheese shaped like a severed head when there was a heavy knocking at the front door. Jim checked his watch and hoped that no one had come earlier than the expected time. He wasn’t even in costume yet and he didn’t want it to be ruined. He put the severed head cheese back into the refrigerator and went to the front door.

            “I hope it isn’t a guest, here too early,” said Jim as he opened the door.

            He pulled the door open expecting an early guest with some sort of appetizer and an offer to help with the set-up, or maybe it was Julie to surprise him with a pre-party quickie. That would be an awesome Halloween start. Sexy Julie in her barely there toga. That would be awesome. She was a knockout babe. Blonde and sexy, but she had little boobs, but Jim guessed her sexy pouty mouth made up for that.

            Jim looked up at the towering stranger at the door, red burning eyes, mouth open exposing rotting teeth and emitting an odor of burning death. The stranger’s white skull was exposed above his left eye and a worm could be seen wriggling just at the edges of the scalp.

            “Whoa, that’s a great costume! Are you trick or treating or here for the party? If you’re here for the party you’re just a bit too early as I’m not nearly ready,” said Jim.

            The stranger looked down at Jim and groaned and a beastly tongue poked out between his teeth.

            “So trick or treating then. No problem, I have tons of great candy. Hold on a second,” said Jim as he laughed slightly. It was a great costume this guy had.

            Jim turned back toward the stranger with some Kit-Kats and Starbursts. He offered the candy out toward the stranger. The stranger lifted his right arm and drove a hatchet into Jim’s face. Jim screamed as the blade pierced through his forehead and severed his nose in two. He staggered backwards against the hallway table, decorated with eyeballs and witches, knocking it to the ground. The stranger stepped over Jim and struck him again with the hatchet, separating Jim’s lower jaw from the rest of his face. The lower mandible hung sickly as Jim gurgled on his own thick blood. The stranger picked Jim up from the floor and flung him into the front room onto the couch with the severed limb arm rests. Blood splashed the floor and the couch as Jim smacked into the furniture.

            The monstrous stranger stepped further into the house and slammed the door behind him. Jim reached up to his mangled face and tried to put his lower jaw back to where it had been prior to answering the door. He felt the warm blood on his hands and smelled the coppery scent of it. He tried to scream but the blood was too thick in his throat and he started to choke. The stranger loomed over him, hatched raised to deliver the last bloody blow. He brought it down hard on Jims remaining face and caved in Jim’s forehead. Jim’s last thought was of Julie in her sexy toga. Why hadn’t it been Julie at the door?

            The stranger pulled the hatched from Jim’s dead face and sat down next to him. He pulled Jim’s body close and started stroking the bloody remnants of Jim’s head as an elderly woman would stroke a pet cat. The stranger drooled over the late Jim through a lipless mouth. He pulled Jim’s body over his lap and used the hatchet to cut into Jim’s abdomen. He pulled out Jim’s organs and splashed them around the couch and the front room. He stood and pulled Jim’s body through the house by his large intestine, spilling blood and bile and stomach acid across the previously polished hardwood floors. The red-eyed stranger then hung Jim’s body in a closet and shut the door.

            Julie arrived at eight o’clock on the dot. She wanted to be the first one at the party to flirt with Jim a little before the other sluts got there. She knew Jim was popular with the ladies, especially since his promotion to vice-president of finance at the brokerage house he worked at. She wanted to get in on that sweet VP money if she could and maybe she’d learn to love Jim after that, but that breast augmentation surgery wasn’t going to be cheap.

            Julie walked up Jim’s front porch carefully, her toga costume was very short, and one miss-step and the whole neighborhood would have a clear view of her private parts. She didn’t really want to give some little eight year old trick or treater a puberty forming treat unintentionally. She got to Jim’s door and rang the bell. A witch screamed and it sounded cheap to Julie’s ear. Too electronic to be scary. She waited a moment and then knocked. She hoped Jim would be ready for her. She straightened her top and tried to look sexy in the doorway.

            The door creaked open and she looked up at blood red eyes staring at her from the dimness of the foyer. The smell was unbearable and Julie took a step back. A hand reached out from the darkness around her throat and pulled her inside. The door slammed behind her. She strained to wriggle free but she was off her feet and she could feel her windpipe being crushed. She opened her eyes in the face of the rotting monster. The beast growled at her and stabbed her in the chest with a butcher’s knife. The beast pulled the blade down her body and opened her up to her legs. Blood poured out of her, flooding the floor like a biblical red sea.

             The monster tossed her body across the room where she folded awkwardly backwards. Her head on the floor next to her bottom. Her legs splayed in front or her. There was no last second gurgle from Julie. No last thought of Jim or his money for new boobs.

The stranger/beast/monster/thing from Hell’s nightmare breathed heavily and waited. It waited for the rest of the guests to arrive and give them the Halloween party they’d never forget for as long as they lived. However brief that may be.

                                                 The End?

Happy Halloween everybody!!!! Be careful who you answer the door for!

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Noise Upstairs

             Connor pulled the blankets up to his chin and squeezed his eyes shut. The noises coming from the living room on the floor above his bedroom were getting worse. The thudding and the screaming were louder than other nights. It was constant and aggressive rather than the occasional thud or bang or half whispered yell. He wished it would stop so he could just get to sleep. Connor heard something break, something like glass and the shouting and shuffling stopped for a moment. Connor took a deep breath and hoped it was over. He hoped the glass breaking, or whatever broke would be the end of it. He heard a door slam and heavy footsteps pound down the front stairs outside. He heard a car start and it squeal away down the street.

For the moment at least, it was over. Connor sighed and relaxed a little bit. He thought he could finally get to sleep and stop being so scared. Tomorrow was the big fourth grade Halloween party and he wanted to be well rested for it. He was dressing up as a cowboy, complete with a cap gun and cool cowboy hat. He hoped it would impress Mary. Connor had such a crush on her. She was his little blue eyed blonde hair gal and he wished they could just run away together and live in peace somewhere in the woods. He’d build them a little wood cabin and they could live together in love and kindness.

            Connor rolled over onto his side and adjusted the covers over his shoulder. It was now very quiet upstairs yet Connor caught himself straining to hear. The sudden silence had started to gnaw at him. He opened his eyes in his dark bedroom and quieted his breath. He could hear a very faint sobbing drifting from the floor above him. A terrible mournful sobbing that filled him with regret for his selfish wish that they’d just stop so he could get to sleep so he could be at his best to impress Mary. Mary, who didn’t even know that Connor had such a huge crush on her, would probably be dressed as a princess. She’d be a beautiful princess and Connor wanted so much for her to notice him. He figured a rough and tough cowboy costume would be that way.

            His mother had suggested he be a robot or Groucho Marx, but Connor wouldn’t hear of it. A cool cowboy was what he had remembered was what Mary liked. So she helped him make a cowboy costume from one of his father’s old flannel shirts, a little brown vest complete with a tin sheriff star, a plastic gun holster and a silver cap gun six shooter with a plastic white handle, made to look like ivory. It was really cool and Connor was sure tomorrow would be the day that Mary would fall madly in love with him.

            A brushing noise came from the floor above his bed along with the glassy tinkle of something being swept off the hardwood. Connor looked up at his ceiling and cringed. He wondered what had been broken. He thought that maybe he should investigate but that might get him into trouble so staying bed would probably be best. He hoped once that sweeping noise was over it would remain quiet and he could get to sleep and hopefully dream of Mary and their cabin in the woods. There wouldn’t be any noises like the ones upstairs in their little wooded cabin. It would always be peaceful and quiet. There wouldn’t be any stomping or screaming or crashing in their home. It would be warm fires in the hearth and quiet conversation all the time. Connor nestled down further into his pillow and tried to ignore the rest of the world so he could finally get to sleep.

            The stomping on the front stairs snapped him from his nearly asleep state. The door unlocked and the stomping over his head started again. There were a few more muffled words. He could never make out what was being said. He could only pick up on the tones. They were almost always angry sounds.  There was more shuffling as the terrible sounds escalated followed by some muffled shushing. It was like living in a haunted house for Connor. It was all noises and sounds of foreboding but he could never actually see what was making those noises. He imagined some long gone argument being reenacted by some lost souls, forever cursed to have the same fight for all eternity.

            The stomping about over his head continued, as if two people were dancing badly at some wedding because they’d had too much wine. It was more balance than actual dancing but no one ever seemed to fall. There was no music either. It was just the hushed words batted back and forth between awkward sounding thuds and bangs. Connor closed his eyes tight again and wished the noise would just stop. Just please stop so the house would quiet down. It was unbearable to hear these sounds almost every night. He longed for laughter or even the gentle hum of the television beaming some dampened tin can laugh track into the house.

            Connor wondered what was going on up there. He wanted to know yet didn’t want to know. It always made him so scared. So scared that he wished he and Mary really could just run away to the woods so he’d never have to hear that awful racket ever again. He wondered if she would go with him, once she realized how totally in love with him she was. It would be so nice to just get away from the noises upstairs.

            A soft clacking sound emanated from above him, as if something was tapping on the floor. It sounded like long, sharp claws rapping on the wood. It beat a rhythm of terror in Connor’s chest and he felt his heart beating hard. This was a new sound. It was unfamiliar. It sounded like something was coming to get him this time. It was persistent and reminded Connor of the terrible story his father had read him from that Poe guy, about the body buried under the floorboards and the murderer hearing the dead man’s beating heart. He wished his father hadn’t read him that story now. A Tell-Tale Heart was the story. Connor regretted asking his father to read it to him.

            The clacking continued, but its beat slowed. Connor shivered in his bed and cowered under his blankets. He hoped it would stop soon. It was getting so late, almost ten thirty, and Connor just wanted it to end. He heard more stomping over the clacking. He heard a deeper muffled voice, a pleading sound. He heard two loud thuds, like someone dropping to their knees followed by more begging sounds. The clacking stopped suddenly.

            A lighter muffled voice, followed by lighter sobbing, and followed by lighter thudding. He listened as the thuds trailed off toward somewhere else above him. They disappeared somewhere in the back of the upstairs floors and then stopped completely. He guessed his parents had finally gone to bed. She'd forgiven him again or just decided to give up. He let his blanket fall from over his head and he peeked out into the darkness of his bedroom. He listened. He held his breath. He sat up on his elbows and listened as hard as he could. It was quiet.

            He could hear a freight train rattling along the train tracks a few miles away and the faint echo of traffic from the streets, but the noises upstairs had stopped. He lay back and let his breath out in a long exhale. He felt so tired; so exhausted by the scary noises upstairs. He felt himself slipping into sleep as soon as his head hit the pillow. He felt himself dreaming of the silence in the woods, with Mary in his arms, not worrying about money or food, rain or winter.

Friday, October 24, 2014

That Got Out of Hand

             Sunlight burst through the open shutters. Mac and Shelly leapt forward through the old wooden church doors and stumbled onto the front steps. The morning sun consumed the building behind them, flames erupted and the remaining Vampires exploded in bloody bursts. The ground outside rumbled and a chasm opened under the old church. Mac and Shelly got to their feet and ran from their crumbling footing toward the near-by woods. Thunder boomed overhead as the old church broke apart and fell into the crevasse below. Mac and Shelly dove into the tree line and just made it before the ground swallowed everything behind them, leaving only a light smoke hanging over a new pit of hell.

            “Okay, that was nuts,” said Shelly.
            “I know right? That was just crazy,” said Mac.
            “Right?! There was like, 30 vampires in there,” said Shelly.
            “More like 50,” said Mac.
            “Yeah, maybe. But like, that was just insane in there,” said Shelly.

            Mac stood up from behind the brush and helped Shelly to her feet. They dusted themselves off and looked back out over the carnage.

            “Too bad about Kelly and Steve,” said Shelly.
            “Yeah, I mean, that thing just like, swallowed them whole,” said Mac.
            “I know right?! Like where did that even come from,” asked Shelly.
            “I don’t know. Like, Hell I’m guessing,” said Mac.

            Shelly wiped her bloody hair off her forehead and put her hand in Mac’s. Mac sighed and stretched his neck.

            “I am going to be sore tomorrow,” said Mac.
            “Oh, me too,” said Shelly.
            Mac felt for his pockets and started digging in them.

            “Oh man, I think I left my cell phone in there. Do you have yours?”
            “No, I lost my purse when that vampire dog thing lunged at us. I threw my purse at it, remember,” said Shelly.
            “Crap. I can’t find the car keys either,” said Mac.
            “I think Kelly had them anyway,” said Shelly.

            Mac looked toward the old dirt road let led to the old church which led back towards town.

            “I guess we’re going to have to walk back to the hotel,” said Mac.
            “Ugh. Really,” pouted Shelly.
            “Yeah, sorry babe,” said Mac.

            Shelly rubbed the back of her leg.

            “Is my leg bleeding,” asked Shelly.
            “Just a little bit. It’s a long scratch, but it’s not too bad,” said Mac.
            “Oh man. That sucks,” said Shelly.

            The morning birds were chirping and the mist was burning away from the forest.

            “Well, I guess we better get a move on,” said Mac.
            “Like 100 Vampires were in there maybe,” said Shelly.
            “All I know is there was a lot,” said Mac.

            Mac put around Shelly’s waist and they started limping down the road back toward town and the old hotel where the gypsy woman told them they would only find trouble at Old Hell’s Church.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Huge Gaping Opinion About Nothing at All (An Anniversary piece)

             This October I’ve been writing a few stories trying to offer some extra fictional fright to the Halloween season. I love writing scary little stories about the things that go bump in the night. A story about some violent monster that actually crawls out from under your bed and eats your face as you scream and kick and blood spurts all over the walls. Writing those stories is just fun. It’s an escape from the everyday horrors that constantly surround each and every one of us. But once in a while the real world creeps in to the fictional world I try to create and some attention must be drawn to it.

            Ebola sucks. There. I said it. Now everyone can relax. I’ve made it official. It is a terrifying sickness that has the potential to become something truly horrific. I wouldn’t wish Ebola on my worst enemy. It’s awful. Yet, it doesn’t mean everyone should freak the hell out. Luckily we live in one of the most medically advanced nations on the Earth and the odds of a regular Joe on the street contracting Ebola is incredibly rare. All the same I would recommend against handling any Ebola infected corpses, feces, vomit, spit or blood. If you are currently finger painting with Ebola infected feces, please stop, wash your hands and lock yourself in your room. I know that sounds a bit harsh but, c’mon, think about the many. And that probably wasn’t the shade of brown you were really going for anyway. So, wow, you double blew that one.

            Celebrity antics are the life blood of the American economy. Without Rene Zelleweger’s new face or Bill Cosby’s sexual goings-on I’m not sure what Americans would have talked about or spent their money on this week. It’s only Wednesday for that matter. I can only imagine what the rest of the week will bring. The new American currency is gossip. And perhaps saying its “new” isn’t appropriate. It’s always been our way to become fascinated by the antics of the famous. Fatty Arbuckle knew the slings and arrows of public scorn all too well. I think it directly lead to the Great Depression in some way didn’t it? Yet, the American public was rapt in the daily newspaper stories about his trial and seedy lifestyle. It was a shock that someone who made people laugh could be a damaged person underneath all that comedy obesity. I’m pretty sure there were far scarier news stories this week than what happened to Rene’s face and Bill’s…whatever Bill did. I don’t even know. Frankly, it isn’t really news. What if Rene Zelleweger got a face lift to look more like Bill Cosby?! Now that would have been news!

            The scariest story of the week for me, as a beer drinker, was the story of the guy who stole a Miller Brewing truck carrying 44,000 pounds of Miller High Life. That guy is going to have one kick ass Halloween party I bet. I wonder if Miller High Life Thief will be a popular Halloween costume this year? It’s just one of the many stories I saw this week that troubled me. The thing that really troubles me and scares me about these types of stories is how many people just believe what they read. I was at a bar a few weeks ago and a young man swore up and down that a woman was being sent to prison for ten years for allegedly twerking on Martin Luther King Jr.’s grave. I told him that I doubted very much that the story was true. He then pulled out his cell phone and showed me the “story” on some website. I read the article and shook my head. This poor guy completely believed the piece without checking the source. The web site was a satirical one, like the Onion and there was no truth to the story. I pointed out the satirical nature of the story to the young man, but he persisted in his belief that it was a true news story. Now that scared the shit out of me. It’s ignorance that scares me the most.

            Things out in the world are terrifying. Scarier than any story I could every write and throw up on my blog page. Canada is getting a taste of true American style gun violence and the Middle East is still a powder keg of uncontrolled zealotry and religious idolatry run amok. Cars are crashing, children are missing, fires are burning, old people are being abused, murderers run free, rapists stalk, and female teachers are still having sex with underage boys. The world is a very scary place. Yet, unlike the stories I write, most of the scary things in the world can be changed.

            When I write about some vicious hell spawn rising from the depths of the abyss to drink the marrow from our bones, I know that it couldn’t ever really happen. It makes the flight of fanciful imagination harmless and even enjoyable. I can even let the villainous demon win in the story and everything ends up in darkness and I’m comfortable in knowing that it’s just a silly story and there’s no truth to any of it. It’s made up in my head and can’t hurt anyone. Unless your eyesight is bad and squinting at the computer screen is giving you a headache, for that I apologize.

            The majority of the horrors in the world however, can be altered through action. We can be vigilant against the spread of an infectious disease, we can truly try to understand the Middle East and Isis so a reasonable solution can be made, and we can protect ourselves against the fear. There are always ways. I’m not advocating violence against the “evil doers” or some blanket Orwellian bureaucracy to control the masses. It really only takes an awareness and rationality to overcome the things we are afraid of. There’s no monster in the closet, only what our imagination says there is. Once Dad checks it out and shows you there are no monsters in there you can finally sleep comfortably, because he educated you and allowed you to overcome your irrational fear.

FDR said it best though truly the only thing we do have to fear is fear itself. Once the veil of fear is removed we can start behaving rationally; or at least slightly smarter than those teenagers that went to the abandoned amusement park at midnight to call upon the spirit of Binky the flesh eating clown. We have the capacity to overcome fear and make things better. Once we were able to light the darkness, the darkness became less powerful over us. It’s been repeated throughout history.

So as I roll out a few more hopefully scary stories over the next few pre-Halloween days, keep in mind that while Earth is frigging scary as hell, it isn’t scary enough to keep us frozen in fear. We are a pretty smart species to make it this far so keep an open mind, use common sense, use good judgment, and keep reading my blog. See how I threw that in there. You probably weren’t expecting that.  Also - Happy four year annniversary to A Minute With Michael!

Monday, October 20, 2014


            Carson rolled the toothpick back and forth over his lips and sighed. He looked up toward the museum’s loading bay doors and then at the clock on the dashboard of the getaway car. The piece of crap car Randy had picked up from some broad he used to mess around with on the weekends after drinking at Jerry’s place. Carson gripped the steering wheel and sighed again. It was only supposed to take ten minutes for Randy and Jerry to get into the museum, subdue the fat night watchman, steal the jewels and get out. Twelve minutes had already passed and their schedule was in severe jeopardy.

            This wasn’t professional. It was a dumb idea to get involved with these amateur thieves. Carson had pulled tons of jobs with the best kind of thieves, but times were getting pretty lean and good jobs were getting harder to come by. So when Randy suggested they knock off the new shipment of Gems & Jewels of Egypt from the museum, Carson jumped at the chance. He was a little drunk when he initially agreed to the plan. He’d been drinking too much lately. He was drinking to forget his debts, which only created more debts, which made him drink more and agree to stupid burglary plans.

            He checked the alley in the rear view and looked back and forth across the cross street for any cops or other security guards. Fifteen minutes had now passed and Carson was sweating. He had a feeling that the fat night watchman wasn’t perhaps as big of a lazy slob as Randy and Jerry had promised. “It’ll be like taking candy from a fat, lazy baby,” were Randy’s exact words.

            Carson cringed and shook his head. This was dumb.  He felt the urge to just speed off and let Randy and Jerry take the fall. It was already 4:45 in the morning and a beat up old Hyundai parked behind the museum’s loading bay doors was bound to draw attention sooner or later.  He looked down at the gas gauge and considered how much gas it would take to get to the other side of town without stopping for a re-fill. He should have had Randy pony up the cash for the gas. Carson chuckled a bit at that since he figured dumb ass Randy probably would have paid with a credit card and leave a paper trail miles long.

            The rear driver’s side door opened behind Carson and Randy jumped in. Carson jumped and nearly gagged on his toothpick. He wasn’t ready for that. He spit the toothpick out. He thought both Randy and Jerry would get in on the passenger side.

            “Drive. Now,” said Randy.
            “What about Jerry,” asked Carson.
            “Go. Just go,” said Randy.

            Carson put the car in drive and took off down the alley. How could Randy leave Jerry behind? They were like brothers.
            “How could leave Jerry behind man,” asked Carson as they peeled around the corner toward the highway.
            “I didn’t leave Jerry. Jerry’s gone,” said Randy.         
            “What? He took off on you,” asked Carson.
            “No. Yes. I mean, he’s, gone,” said Randy.

            Carson looked up at Randy in the rear view mirror. Randy was pale. His eyes looked deeply sunken.

            “Are you okay man,” asked Carson.
            Randy didn’t respond. He kept looking out the window.

            “Did you at least get the gems,” asked Carson.
            “We had them. Jerry had them. Something. Got him. He’s gone. The gems, yeah. I got them,” said Randy.
            “What do you mean something got him?”

            Carson pulled to a red light and stopped hard. He turned around in the driver’s seat and looked back at Randy. Randy was holding his stomach and blood was seeping between his fingers.

            “Oh man! You’re bleeding man,” shouted Carson.
            “Huh,” said Randy and he looked down at his stomach.
            “Dude! You’re bleeding everywhere,” shouted Carson.
            “Oh, yeah. I got… scratched,” said Randy.

            The light changed to green casting a sickly aura on Randy’s face. His eyes were glassy and far away. Carson turned forward and hit the gas.

            “We’re going to a hospital man. Screw it man,” said Carson.
            Carson made a U-turn at the intersection and started speeding back toward town.

            “You hear me man, we’re going to a hospital,” said Carson.

            Carson looked again in the mirror and saw Randy’s head had fallen backwards and his mouth was gaping wide open toward the car’s ceiling.  Carson swerved and Randy slumped over in the seat. Carson pulled the car over and nearly smashed into the curb. He put the car in park and jumped from the driver’s seat and opened the rear driver’s side door.

            “Randy man. Randy!”
            Randy’s hand had fallen away from his stomach and Carson saw the eviscerating slashes across Randy’s belly. Randy’s small intestine, or what Carson thought was Randy’s small intestine, was hanging out. Carson felt the hot sick rumbling up from his own stomach and he wretched the chili fries and two bears he had for dinner up next to the rear tire. He wiped his mouth on his sleeve and tried to catch his breath. He looked back at Randy. He could see he was clearly dead. Carson had seen dead bodies before.

            “Oh Randy. This was such a bad idea. I’m sorry man,” said Carson.  

            Carson reached across Randy’s body and started checking his pockets. He’d said they’d had the jewels. Maybe he was just in shock and didn’t remember where they were. There was so much blood coating Randy’s body. It made it difficult to rifle though his pockets in the dark. In Randy’s front right jacket pocket Carson found a small muslin bag.

            Carson stood and angled himself so the street lights could give him a little more light. He opened the bag and a handful of rubies and emeralds and gold encrusted jewels spilled out. Carson rolled them around in his hand. It wasn’t a huge score, but the quality and size were impressive. They would certainly get Carson out of his money troubles for a while.  He carefully put the jewels back into the bag and stuffed it in his pocket. He closed the rear car door and went back to the driver’s seat. He turned the car off and started wiping down every surface with his sleeves. He was glad he’d worn his driving gloves but he wasn’t going to take any chances. He’d burn the gloves later.

            He closed the driver’s side door and started walking away from the car. He passed an abandoned old warehouse building and tossed the car keys over the chain link fence. He started to work on his alibi. People knew he was acquaintances with Randy and Jerry and eventually the cops would come to talk to him. He had a record for burglary, but had been pretty clean the last five years. Even so, the cops would come to question him. His imagination started to whir and devise a cover story for what he did that night.  He hardly noticed the shuffling noise behind him. It only caught his attention when he heard something kick something metal.

            He stopped on the sidewalk and turned around. There was nothing of course. In real life it was probably a rat or the wind. It was always nothing. Carson started walking again but stopped quickly when he heard a low growl. He thought he might have wandered onto private property and a guard dog was stalking him. He looked around but didn’t see any signs or fences. He started walking again. a little more quickly. He couldn’t risk someone spotting him so near the abandoned car with Randy’s bloody body in it.

            “Return it to me, thief,” said a voice from behind Carson.

            Carson spun around and stumbled a bit. This wasn’t happening. This didn’t happen. An old lady fingered you in a line up, no disembodied voices called you out in the street. Carson turned and started to run.

            “It is not yours to take,” said the voice.

            Carson jumped to his left; he felt the voice directly in his right ear and dove to avoid it. He splashed through a large puddle in the street and ran toward the sounds of heavy city traffic. He ducked down an alley and then remembered that ducking down an alley while being chased by a ghost or whatever was really just a dumb rookie thing to do. He slowed his run and tried to catch his breath.

            “I’m just freaked out. That’s all. Randy’s body and no sign of Jerry. I’m just freaked out. That’s all,” said Carson.

            He rested his hands on his knees and took a deep breath. He was trying to slow down and not be scared. There was no reason to be scared. It was nothing. It was always nothing.

            An overhead street light in front of Carson started to buzz loudly and Carson looked up toward it. It seemed brighter than an alley street light should be. Carson thought it was one of those new high-efficiency bulbs that was just brighter. He looked down at his feet and felt his breath coming back. He was calming down. He felt silly for running from nothing. He was a professional after all and professionals don’t run. He felt foolish and he smirked.

            “God, what happened to me,” he said under his breath.

            Carson straightened up and stretched his back. He felt his front pocket for the little bag and started walking toward the street at the end of the alley. He heard a metal scraping sound behind him. He told himself not to turn around. The biggest mistake people make is when they turn around. He told himself just to keep walking like everything was normal.

            Three gold tips of a trident suddenly burst through Carson’s chest just under his rib cage and he felt himself lifted off his feet. He tried to scream but his diaphragm was punctured and he couldn’t make his muscles work. He turned his head back over his shoulder but couldn’t make out who had stabbed him. With a trident no less. He was flung over backwards and the trident pulled out of his body. He flew and crashed into a brick wall. He fell into a crumpled heap and he tasted pennies in his mouth.

            “Return what you stole, thief,” said a growling voice.

            Carson lifted his head and looked up into the face of a jackal. Carson recognized Anubis immediately. He’d seen The Mummy. He knew what it meant.

            “In my pocket. My arms don’t work,” said Carson as he coughed on his blood.

            Anubis towered over Carson. His form was slick like polished oil outlined in gold and blue. He snarled at Carson and bent down. Carson felt the jackal headed God’s smoky breath on his face. Anubis pulled the muslin bag from Carson’s pocket and clenched it in his giant hand.

            “What did you do to Jerry and Randy,” coughed Carson.
            “Their hearts are being weighed, as yours will be,” snarled Anubis, “and you will fail.”

            Carson felt a follow up question coming but he started to fade just as Anubis drifted into vapor.   

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Scariest

Eye lids clenched,
closed tight against the
rambling horrors
of night.

The not knowing,
the unknown,
the dark,
the silence.

Reaching out for
a helping hand that
isn’t there. No comfort
or quarter found.

Panic, confusion,
stumbling, screaming,
breathless, all

Pin-pricks of fear,
setting skin on fire,
as creaks and moans
get louder.

What’s down the hall?
What’s under the bed?
What’s in the closet?
Is it all in my head?

Thursday, October 9, 2014

This Was No Boating Accident

             “I just want to dance,” shouted Nadia as she stumbled across the dance floor. She spilled the remaining drops of her mango-pineapple margarita as she swirled uncontrollably in a fevered drunkenness. Her flowing sun dress twirled haphazardly around her and gave a few of the other cruise vacationers a quick glance at her underwear. The dance floor patrons on the cruise ship Ocean Dream gave Nadia plenty of space to flail about but it was clear they weren’t happy with her unabashed inebriation. Nadia smiled at them all anyway, like they were all old friends already. The cruise had only been at sea for five hours and Nadia had spent the majority of it by the pool bar, downing fruity drinks that had clever and ironic oceanic straws.

            This cruise was Nadia’s reward to herself for surviving seven years under the heel of an oppressive boss at a terrible PR firm in the crappiest office in Kansas. She’d struggled to rise through the ranks and as soon as she’d achieved some level of management, some respect in the industry, she could take that respect to a new and better company and start making the sort of salary a woman of her tireless devotion to excellence deserved. Last week she was hired by the best PR firm, with the best management team in the nicest office in Kansas and she finally felt like she could cut loose.

            The original cruise plan was just to be a girls trip. She and three of her friends from her book and dieters club had made all the arrangements for a seven day cruise to explore all the debauchery they could handle. But then, Shelly couldn’t go because her son had a severe ear infection and had to go to the hospital, and then Mary decided she couldn’t really afford the trip and backed out, Brenda was the worst though because she flatly told Nadia that, “if the rest of the girls weren’t going then neither was she”. It turned out Brenda just didn’t like Nadia. That was fine with Nadia because she thought Brenda was a snob anyway. So, in the end, Nadia decided she’d go by herself.

            Nadia was initially nervous when she first boarded and wound her way through the long twisting corridors of the Ocean Dream Liner. She’d never travelled anywhere by herself before. It was a completely new and daunting experience for her. There was an allure to it though. She imagined on her plane ride to Florida that maybe she might finally meet that special man on this trip; the one man that could look past her weight issues and her driven career woman dreams. She had been working so hard for the last seven years that she’d let her weight get out of hand and she never dated because she thought it was time wasted. She’d rather date and look fabulous once she’d achieved her dreams of financial freedom. Although she was now 44 years old and the idea of finding that special someone and building a family seemed more remote than ever.

            The music stopped on the dance floor and the DJ made a few announcements about all the fun activities planned for the next six days. He had one of those velvety strip bar announcer voices and Nadia snorted loudly when she imagined him saying something like, “Please welcome Candy Cane to the stage, give it up for Candy Cane”. This drew some unwelcomed glances from some of the fuddy-duddies that were patiently listening. Nadia looked at her empty margarita glass and decided it was time for a re-fill at the bar.

            She tried to move elegantly through the crowd, but she wasn’t used to wearing the espadrilles and she stumbled a bit. She didn’t fall but it was pretty clear that she wasn’t too good on her feet. She met more scowls of disapproval as she moved forward. She made it to the Tiki Hut themed bar and sat down on the first available stool. She tried to get the bartender’s attention but he seemed busy flirting with a waitress that was showing a lot of cleavage. Nadia almost whistled to him but decided that if this bartender liked breasts then maybe she would just have to let her girls do the talking.

            She unsnapped the top button of her sundress and squeezed her breasts together with her arms. She admitted that the weight she had put on over the years had certainly added to the ample bosom she now exposed. The bartender must have ears for large cleavage because as soon as her girls were on display he turned right to Nadia.

            “What can I get you,” he asked, never actually look up at Nadia’s face.
            “I’d… I like… the fruity ones… with the fruit…that’s what I like,” said Nadia.
            “I’m sorry miss, what was that,” asked the bartender.
            “The drink, with the, you know, fruit in it, I been drinking it all day, you know, the one, do you like my breasts,” said Nadia.
            “I’m sorry ma’am I’m having a difficult time understanding you. Did you just ask if I liked your breasts,” asked the bartender.
            “It’s okay, I know you like them. You’re a man and men like boobs,” said Nadia.

             Nadia started giggling uncontrollably and she undid another button on the top part of her sun dress exposing her bra, a bra that was a size too small for her.

             “See… see… I can tell you like ‘em,” said Nadia as she winked at him.

            The bartender picked up a bar towel and tossed it on his shoulder and leaned in toward Nadia.

            “Miss, I think you’ve had too much to drink this evening and I don’t think I should give you another. It’s our policy on Ocean Dreams to make sure our guests have a wonderful time but responsibly,” said the bartender.

            “Are you saying you, you don’t like my breasts,” said Nadia.

            Nadia looked down and she felt herself start to cry. The bartender cleared his throat and leaned in toward Nadia again. Nadia didn’t look up at him.

            “Miss, please, I don’t want to spoil your fun but it appears to me that you’ve been over-served and I can’t in good conscience provide you with any further alcohol. I can get you a coffee if you like,” said the bartender.

            Nadia didn’t want to hear it. She closed her eyes.

            “Miss, I’m sorry. Why don’t you head back to your room and get some rest. Tomorrow is a whole ‘nother day for fun,” said the bartender.
            “You’re right. You’re right. I don’t even know what, what I’m doing on this stupid cruise. I’m old, I’m fat, I don’t have any friends, I wasted my life. I should just jump overboard,” cried Nadia.
            The bartender didn’t respond. He turned to another customer and took his drink order. Nadia buttoned up her open dress and stood up from the barstool. She tried to straighten her hair and wipe the tears from her cheeks. She stepped carefully in her espadrilles toward the exit, only stumbling once, and made it out side onto the deck.

             The ocean air was instantly refreshing on her teary face. She left the noise of the club room behind her and drifted aimlessly toward the ship railing. She looked out over the dark water and remembered her college boyfriend Ricky and she caught herself wishing he was there with her. He would have held her hand as they stood there, looking together out over the water. She looked up and saw the bright moon peeking through thin lines of clouds. She sniffled.

             “Are you alright miss,” said a man in an Ocean Dream Liner polo shirt.

            He had startled Nadia and she turned quickly to face him.

            “I’m sorry ma’am I didn’t mean to scare you. I saw you in the club and I wanted to make sure you were alright,” said the man in the polo.
            “I wish everyone would stop calling me ma’am. That’s what I wish,” said Nadia.
            “Yes, miss, I can understand that. I don’t like it when people call me ma’am either,” said the man and he smiled.
            Nadia caught the joke and she snorted. She got embarrassed and covered her mouth and nose with her hand.

            “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to snort,” said Nadia.
            “It’s alright. Can I walk you back to your room this evening,” asked the man.
            “What’s, what’s your name,” asked Nadia. She straightened her back against the railing and tried to look at least a little sexy.
            “My name is Merrill. It’s our policy here on Ocean Dream Liners to make sure that guests that may have had a bit too much fun be safely escorted back to their rooms”.
            “Oh. Yeah, I guess you would have to do that I suppose,” sighed Nadia.
            “And you’re name?”

            Nadia stopped trying to be sexy and let her shoulders slump. Merrill was handsome but he was far too young for her. He probably had some sweet 22 year old girl back home; all hot and sexy and always in a bikini. Nadia sighed and turned sideways from Merrill.
            “My name is Nadia.”
            “That’s a nice name. I haven’t met a Nadia in a long time. It’s nice to meet you,” said Merrill as he extended his hand.
            “Yeah. Charmed,” said Nadia and she accepted his hand limply.
            “So, Nadia, may I walk you to your room?”
            “I guess,” she said.
            Merrill stepped up next to her and gently ushered her forward toward the room section of the ship. Nadia stepped alongside of him and started to move forward.

            “I mean, you don’t have to go back to your room if you really don’t want to,” said Merrill, “we’re certainly not forcing you.”
            “No, no. It’s fine,” sighed Nadia.
            “I mean, you could always jump overboard,” said Merrill.

            Nadia sort of chuckled at him. He said it in such a Bill Murray-esqe way that it seemed funny.

            “Or I could throw you over,” said Merrill.

            Nadia stopped walking and turned to look at Merrill. He was smiling but there was something wrong with his smile. It was too wide for his face. His cheeks looked like they were wrinkled up, like it was a smile wearing a suit made of skin.

            “What,” said Nadia.
            “I said I think I’ll throw you overboard. Besides, no one will miss you. You’re fat, you’re old and you don’t have any friends. Yeah, I think I will throw you overboard,” said Merrill.

            Nadia started backing away, back down the deck toward the club.

            “You’re crazy,” she said.
            “No. No. I’m not crazy. I’m here for you Nadia. I’ve come to take you from all this pain and suffering,” said the thing in the Merrill suit.
            “What? Take me away? No, no. I’m fine,” said Nadia.

            She continued to walk backwards carefully, holding onto the railing, over the dark ocean.

            “You’re hardly fine Nadia. You wasted your life in the pursuit of money, of things, of unfulfilled dreams. We hate that,” said the growing monster.
            “I lead a good life. I do. I do. What do you know?”
            “Everything about you Nadia. Everything,” said the beast.

            Nadia turned to scream but the beast, now snarling and towering over her, grabbed her and flung her over the side of the ship like a baby tosses a rattle. Nadia screamed out over the water and she splashed down far from the lights of the cruise liner. The shock of the water hitting her was like being punched in the kidneys and for a moment she didn’t know what had happened. She started to shout for help but the ship just kept pulling away from view. There was nothing but blackness all around her. She felt something nibbling on her arm.

            “Miss, Miss… Miss,” said a voice, shaking Nadia, “You can’t sleep here miss. You have to go back to your room. The bar is closed.”

            Nadia sat up from the bar, the bartender from before was shaking her. Her sun dress was still unbuttoned.

            “What happened,” she asked.
            “You fell asleep at the bar after I told you I couldn’t serve you anything more. Now please, I let you stay to sleep it off but now you really must get back to your room,” said the bartender.

            Nadia carefully stood from the stool and steadied herself. The dream was already fuzzy in her mind. She started to turn from the bar when the bartender called after her.

            “And miss, by the way, I do like your breasts,” he winked at her and smiled.

             Nadia blushed and waved him goodnight.