Category Archives: Fiction

The Dark Beyond The Parking Lot

I grew up here.
All this time the dark has been watching me,
waiting until I could understand it.

Now, it was calling me out.
It was time to collect.
And that’s why I was back.

I was walking to my car
across the lot behind the apartment building when,
“Hey!” Came a slippery voice
from beyond the trees.

“Hey!” I said back.
After a moment’s pause it said, “you used to live here.”

I stopped. “How’d you know that?”
Instinctively, I opened my car door.

“Remember Jinny? She used to knock on your door
after the streetlights came on.
Your parents did not approve.”
A slight rustle through the trees sounded like quiet laughter as I thought, for the first time in ages, of what happened to Jinny. I thought that whatever was out there knew that and was using it, taunting me.

“Is that so?” I went to the center console. Found the old zippo lighter my father had given to me long ago. It still worked. Like very few things in life, it always worked.
“This is a special lighter, Son. Use it sparingly.”
“How will I know when, Dad?”
“You’ll know.”

That was one of the last times I ever saw him. That day, in the garage, when the afternoon light after the rain dressed the sky in an otherworldly hue.

“Remember the first day you moved in here when you were ten?” The voice moved to the other side of the lot now, just behind the thicket –a coaxing, melodic string of words. “Teddy and Carol wanted to be friends. Not with you though, with your older brother. You were in your new bedroom unpacking your Star Wars toys.”

“Yup, I was there.” I put the zippo in my pocket and closed the door. Teddy didn’t last too long after that, maybe a couple of years. Carol too. Nobody had seemed to make it out of here. Nobody except for me.

“And little Timmy. Oh, what a beautiful bastard! Made you wash his bike. Want to know what he’s doing now?” The voice actually did laugh this time, like it was a little inside joke between us. Timmy had probably long rotted away in the back out there somewhere beneath the gravel and thistle.

I stepped to the edge of the parking lot. “Why don’t you show yourself and we can talk?”

Everything stopped then: the buzzing of the caged light, the night birds, the insects, cars on the streets, my breath.

And then the dark beyond the parking lot groaned, shifted –even seemed to sway.

I could see the darkness stretch…
I could hear the darkness yawn…
I could feel the darkness move air and night and nightmares with its being,
as it awakened…
as it was now getting ready to finally swallow me too.

“Do you really…” The voice came out differently now that it knew we weren’t going to be friends. It was Carol’s.

“…think that…” Timmy’s voice now.
The lights flickered.
The air grew colder and the cracks
in the pavement widened.

“…that lighter is going to help you…” Now Teddy’s, ending his sentence with a laugh just like always.

“…out here?” All of them now – whispers falling into whispers surrounding me, invading me invisibly.

I held out the zippo to the wall of blackness and flicked the flame alive. The landscape before me could be heard more than seen, but could be seen enough to know that it was moving in different places as though it were one living, breathing entity.

“This is all I need. This is all I ever needed,” I said.

And with that
I stepped down the embankment from the lot
into the trees and
into the darkness,

if only because I was so tired of hiding away from it
and from myself.

Now it wants to know what I’m going to do about it…

and so do I.

Dream Phone

“I know it’s been a couple years since lockdown…but I heard and I’m so sorry about Beth, Man. I really am.”
“Yeah, so am I.”
“You still think about her?”
“Every single minute, Martin. Things like that don’t just go away.”
“Fuck cancer.”
“Yeah, fuck cancer,” I said without conviction, staring down at the table. Still the same Martin then. I never quite understood how someone as empathetic could be so socially tone-deaf. And why was I here? What did he want?

But really, what was I doing other than sitting in a room with the drapes drawn staring at a television that wasn’t turned on?

Someone at the other end of the coffee shop coughed. I looked over to see an old man in a checkered shirt frowning at me.
“Oh, check this out.” Martin reached inside his jacket. “Got this phone on Amazon. It lets you take pictures of your dreams.”
“Bullshit.”
“No, seriously. All you have to do is make a clicking motion with your finger –like this, and it’ll take a photo of what you’re doing right inside your dream. But you have to remember while you’re dreaming to do this. Harder than it sounds. Took me a while to get the hang of it.”

I drummed my fingers on the table.
“Bullshit,” I said again. I mean, believe this guy?

Martin laughed, “Okay, I get it. But tech these days? And this phone? I got it a week ago and you should see some of the shit that it can do. Unreal. I don’t know who made it, and I even looked.” Martin then leaned forward and whispered as though what he was telling me was a grave secret: “Listen, this is so much more than just a phone. It’s like a line to the other side of the universe; a bridge to beyond and back. Something happened soon after I got it…so…I had to show you it.”

“Okay, Martin,” I clasped my hands together and looked over at the old man again. He was still frowning at me. “First off, what the fuck? Why me? And what do you mean ‘other side?’” This was when I started to feel something begin to crawl around the inside of my stomach, something cold and unfriendly.

“Alright, alright…” Martin smiled. He has always been a decent enough guy, but this conversation made a quick right turn and went a little too far down the yellow brick road. Maybe Martin was a few gumdrops short of a gingerbread house. Who knows? Either way, I didn’t like where this was going.

“Don’t freak out. Okay? Promise?” Martin didn’t wait for an answer. He slid the phone over and I found myself staring at a pic.

It was me and Martin leaning back against a beach bar with Chinese lanterns filling the sky behind us. Somewhere tropical. Sailboats and gulls. Even though I was never there, it did look like an actual photo. But the only thing that I really saw was Beth, my dearly beloved and departed, standing on the other side of me in a white flowing dress with her arm around my waist.

“What?” Was all I could muster to say, and I could hear my own voice begin to choke. I didn’t know what I was looking at, at first. But it hit me, hard. My vision began to blur. I wasn’t expecting to see her today. It changed things. Memories came flooding back: watching her live, watching her die.

“You fucking photoshop this?” My hand started to shake, so did the phone. I felt tears begin. Fuck, I thought that I was getting better for a while, but obviously I wasn’t.

“Whoa, Man.” Martin looked around. “Let’s just chill for a sec. You’re not seeing the whole picture.”

I actually began to laugh, “I’m not…whew!” I wiped my eyes with my sleeve and looked at the pic again; brought it closer to my face.

Martin shifted uncomfortably in his seat. “You need to listen to me, I…”

“You Sick Fuck, you think this is funny?” I said it softly, my voice quivering. I could barely make out Martin sitting across from me. My face felt hot. Holding the phone anymore was no good so I lay it down on the table, gently.

Martin’s eyes widened. “Easy, Man, just give me one second to explain.” He seemed just as unnerved as I was. Maybe he wasn’t a complete asshole, just hopelessly misguided. But by now he had certainly realized that this was a mistake.

That’s when the phone lit up with an incoming call and I stared at it in disbelief.

Back in college, when we were starting off, Beth and I had made a pact. We made it because deep down inside we knew that we were meant to be together. We would always be in love; there was no question. And we would always find each other no matter what. That was the pact. There was a song that was part of that pact. It was playing when we made it. It was forever, just like us. We adopted it. Sang it to each other. Stupid shit. It was a silly, young romantic gesture. One that I had almost forgotten until now.

It was a collection of flat eight-bit tones, but the ringtone the phone was playing –it was mine and Beth’s song.

Nobody else knew that. When the song then began to play over the radio in the coffee shop it felt like somebody had just tapped me on the back in an empty, locked room. It brought back the nights I lay alone in our bed after she was gone, having conversations with her in my head, wishing to God that I could have went as well and not be left here, like this, grown-ass man crying in the dark like a lost little child. What I would have gave to speak to her again, if only for a minute.

What I would have gave.

Martin put both his hands up like he was under arrest –only to show me that he was non-threatening. He then slowly reached over and answered the phone.

“Hey. Yeah. Thank you. Here he is.” Martin handed it over across the table. As though in slow motion and like in a dream itself, I slowly reached out, grabbed the phone, and brought it to my ear.

“Hello?” I said.

Can You See Them Yet?

Sometimes I hear people
right behind me,
and I don’t know who they are.
All that I know is that
they’re not really there.

It all started with Alice.
That wasn’t her name.
It was what she was after…or who.
She wouldn’t shut up about it.

I take long walks, you see.
One day her voice caught up to me
and out of thin air came:
“Alice wasn’t home today.
I want to show you where she lives but
I follow you. You don’t follow me.
You can’t. That’s not the way it works.”

“What? Hello?” I turned around and saw no one.
“Is anybody there?”

“Don’t be a lunkhead. I was fucking telling you about Alice.”

From there it didn’t stop.
Next came James,
“Alice always wears green, but don’t tell her I told you that.”
Then Marcy,
“Alice isn’t as nice as she comes across. Her kindness is a charade.”
And Sean,
“Alice pretends that she doesn’t want me. But that’s all it is, pretend.”

I don’t know what they look like
because I can’t see them
but they are right there
and nowhere at the same time.

I started walking faster, but it didn’t help
because the voices were always
just behind me:

“Alice is being a real bitch.”
“Oooh, I just love your skin.”

It wasn’t just one place, one walk, one road.
It was at the mall, at the bank, the bakery,
on the street or in my shitty apartment
as I sat on the recliner watching TV.

“What’s he doing?”
“He’s just sitting there staring at that talking screen.”
“Does Alice know?”

I don’t know who they are
(who the fuck is Alice?)
or what they are or where or
how they can see me or if they only see me
or a million other things.

The only thing scarier than this being all in my head and that
I was going batshit crazy
was the possibility that this wasn’t
-that this was real and
what that implied.

Two weeks later I got my answer
from once again, the unlikeliest of places
because our expectations of life
and all that it entails
are meant to be smashed, obliterated,
run over and then set on fire
every single step of the way.

So, there I was on a Monday
at the shop when
Marcus (the mechanic)
nodded me over, wrench in hand.

He wasn’t working on my vehicle just yet
and I didn’t really know him so
I approached with caution
because humans were dangerous.

As Marcus went back to changing a tire he said,
“Alice’s friends have been telling me about you…”
in a happy, sing-song voice.

“Alice?” That sounded so familiar that it was painful.
It still took me a second to process because,
“you mean the voices in my head?”

I wanted to grab Marcus and shake him
and scream and cackle madly
but I just stood there staring at him…stunned,
because none of this seemed real.
I could smell the oil, the exhaust, the lubricants, the cold air outside.
The lighting was harsh and glaring as usual. Nothing was out of the ordinary.
But yet, everything had changed forever
in one casual conversation.

Marcus shook his head and laughed.
He slowly turned to me,
set his wrench down on the cart
and with excited eyes said,

“Can you see them yet?”

The Intervention

Mother stood up first.

“I know the divorce and your father’s passing has been difficult for you and you have your ways to cope…but we feel that we are losing you. You’re the only son I have and I pray everyday that you stop hurting yourself and that you find Jesus.”

She sat down.

Yeah, I found Jesus, Mother. He was hiding underneath my fucking bed right beside the crack pipe.

My uncle stood up next.

“This is all up to you, Peter. If you say (like you said before) that you are done then we’re all behind you. But you have to really be done this time. You have to. Nobody else can do it for you.”

Whatever, put down the doughnut.

After a couple more verbal lashings from the family, Cousin Timmy got up last. This ought to be good.

“You’re a fucking asshole.” He said. There were tears in his eyes.

He sat back down.

As adept as always in handling these kind of situations, Timmy, as adept as always.

I looked around the Tim Horton’s. Everyone was looking at me. I thought I was just coming here for a fucking coffee and a wrap.

That was Monday.

Friday back at it again. The beast needed feeding.

Dan rolled up in his Benz. He held up a bag of pills.

“Wanna get high with me and my girl?” Tina looked over. Smiled.

We made out last time. Felt her up. So hot.

Dan doesn’t know or he knows and doesn’t give a fuck.

“Hell yeah I do.” I got in the car.

HORROR FLASH FICTION #11: ARACHNOPHOBIA

Jesse woke up and looked outside. The sky was filled with spiders lazily floating down as far as the eye could see.

“Daddy!” She cried, “There are spiders falling from the sky!”

“That’s okay, Honey, let them fall.” He replied.

Jesse looked back out. The window itself was now covered with spiders of all sizes shooting across the pane this way and that. And it was not just that one window but all of the windows –all over the house.

“Daddy!” She cried, “There are spiders crawling all over the windows!”

“That’s okay, Honey, let them crawl.” Daddy wasn’t one to become upset apparently over anything. He just sat alone at the kitchen table staring at the wall and sipping on a beer.

In one sweeping movement a multitude of spiders burst into the kitchen from under the front door and came scrambling out, legs clacking loudly against the linoleum.

“Daddy!” She cried, “There are spiders all over the floor!”

“That’s okay, Honey, I’ll sweep them up.”

Just then the front door banged open and the biggest spider Jesse had ever seen came in, plopped down at the kitchen table across from Daddy and opened up a small brown briefcase.

“Thanks for coming, Doc.” Daddy said.

“Is she getting any better?” The spider asked. Its eight billion black, bulging eyes stared at Jesse as multiple facial appendages danced wildly about in anticipation of ingesting her slowly.

Daddy finally turned and looked at her too. There were hordes of small spiders crawling all up his neck and exploding out all over his face.

“No, Doc.” He said, “In fact, I think she’s getting much worse.”

Horror Flash Fiction #10: Looking For Victoria

Johnny Spirit sat beneath the bridge downtown beside the tracks on an old battered mattress placed among train cars splattered with graffiti. He took from his coat pocket the handful of mushroom caps that Evil Jesus had given him, popped them into his mouth and began to chew on what tasted like pliable copper. Unlike most he was loath to do it as they made his mind a train-wreck and the come down was unnecessary but he needed them to get tonight’s job done. They let him get far enough into the thin veil that separated all things to where his own natural abilities would kick in and take it from there. It was very much like jump-starting a vehicle in the dead of winter.

Far across the silent, broad street under the sole streetlamp a fire burned high in a rusted steel barrel. Beyond it on the facade of an abandoned factory a doorway led into darkness. Something bad had happened there not long ago into the past or perhaps into the future. It was hard to tell and it wasn’t his business unless someone paid him which was why Johnny was here to begin with. He needed to eat, pay rent and maybe get a bottle of Jack to help manage his own demons.

After a half-hour had passed in silence the mushrooms started to kick in. Johnny felt nauseous and cold. His thoughts took shapes of their own and took him to places he needed to forget but simply could not and it was all part of the trip:

Her face appeared again like it did every time he closed his eyes. She was laughing as she danced between trees drenched in soft summer’s eve light.

The image faded, replaced by another of her some time later -the same lovely face contorted into a mask of anguish as she screamed for him to leave, followed by the heavy presence of silence and emptiness that had since remained like a long, dark hallway.

No…I’m sorry, Sweetheart. I’m so sorry for what happened to us.

Then came the little apartment room swallowing Johnny up to the moment that he was trapped with the elfish nymphet happily hurling bottles at his face as she laughed at him and at his pain. She was all scars, stitches and rage under a barrage of flower tattoos -a girl that was nothing but damaged and as such had damaged Johnny in return by trying to love him the way that others had taught her.

Some people’s sickness you can’t see until it’s far too late.

Again his world transformed to become the burnt-out husk of their house after the fire where everything was blackened and wet as he wandered through alone in the night still clearly recalling the kaleidoscopic din of sirens and lights. It was a place that he had never really left and Johnny hated himself for it just like he hated the four walls he lived in and despised even more the need to ever leave it and walk out into the brutally confusing world.

Johnny, get a grip. You’ve got work to do.

Johnny jerked his head up, opened his eyes and forced himself into the present. He had to own this trip or it wouldn’t work. The nausea dissipated and he couldn’t feel the cold or anything else now as he experienced the weightlessness that was the dominion of dreams. It was how Johnny knew that it was time. He needed to find the girl in blue by the station as it was Johnny’s ticket to where he wanted to go tonight.

Johnny began to walk in the direction his mind told him to go and it wasn’t long before he heard steps falling, skipping along beside him. He turned to face a girl of about twelve whose light-blue dress and dancing shoes spoke of how long she had been residing here unseen except for when she needed or wanted to be.

“Do you think I’m pretty?” She asked.

“I’m bad, but not like that.” Johnny replied as he lit a cigarette. The act of it taking more of his concentration then it had a right to. “I’m not interested in that or in you in general, not really anyway.”

Johnny felt sorry for the girl as he took in her dead visage, her pale dead legs beneath her tattered dress, her pale dead everything. He wondered how many of the missing have fallen to her in these parts in this town.

“You sure know how to talk to a lady.” She crossed her arms.

“I’m looking for Victoria.”

“Oh? And what do you know about Victoria?”

“She’s been hurting some of my friends and I want her to stop. I thought that things might be better off if her and I had a conversation in private.”

The girl’s laughter was humorless and beyond her years. “What makes you think that I would help you?”

Johnny reached into his pocket. “Because she takes possibilities away from you. Help me, and I’ll help you. All I want is some information and in return I’ll give you this.”

Johnny pulled out a small black key and handed it to her. The girl knew what it really was and smiled. She nodded over to where Johnny came from, to the barrel fire and the door behind that led into a very bad place judging from the feel of it.

“I think you already know where to find her.”

Johnny looked over to see that the fire was still burning like a beacon. There was still nobody tending it. And the door was still open like an unanswered invitation. “Fuck.” He said.

“Not for you. Not tonight. Not if you go in there.” The girl cupped her mouth and giggled.

“A grand says I do.” Johnny turned and started walking.

“Oh, poor Johnny.” He heard from somewhere behind him. “She’s not really the one your looking for, is she?”

Games The Dead Play

Jackson with the long blonde hair
Hollywood smile
badass black leather jacket and slim frame
gracing the kitchen at a party

I was watching him
from the living room
making some beautiful girl laugh
playing it all up smooth as
silk rippling in a fine french wind
but that was Jackson
last I remember
the thing about this was
that he’s been dead
for fourteen years

Don’t tell me that I’m
crazy or mistaken
it was him all right
the way he moved and tilted his head
when he laughed and looked away

Hell, I could see the scar on his right cheek
from here
I gave it to him when we were sixteen
with a bowie knife
that was supposed to hit a tree

Best days of my youth were
spent that last summer
before his funeral when
we were all seventeen and
all we did was skateboard
drink whiskey
get high

He got all the girls’ numbers
every single one of them
you had to hate a guy like that
if you didn’t like him so much
because Jackson had all the charisma
that the rest of us didn’t he was as pleasing
as a Beatles melody
with his laughter his calm eyes his lack of caring

He was one of those guys that would never die
but then one day he did

I remember well
the way his mother cried at his
open casket
his ashen gray face with the
lips sewn together

When you see someone you know
in such a manner
with all the light gone
their dormant body
just looks like a
cheap rubber suit

Now here we are and
there he is
glancing at me all nonchalant

This even isn’t the first time
I’ve seen him
yeah, he’s been here and there at
parties, festivals, bake sales

I put it all together a while back
that he’s been watching me
following me
but for what?

It appeared there was a game afoot
which rules I did not fully understand

Well, having had enough of this
it was finally time to find out
and get some answers from the
dead man himself
so I set my glass down
and made my way towards the kitchen

Jackson lit a smoke as I approached
now that he was alone
leaning up against the fridge

For a moment he just looked at me
and I felt that I must be losing
all my marbles and that
it wasn’t him at all
but then

flashing that signature Hollywood smile

“What took you so long?” He said.

The Harrowing Descent of Mr. Hand Puppet

It started innocently enough
he constructed a hand puppet
named ‘Willy Nilly’
to entertain his girlfriend’s young son
and together they put up clips
on YouTube.

“Hey-Hey-Hey! Duuuh! Howdy, Mr. Rabbit!”

The shows started getting longer
he made up more characters
–more puppets.

A shelving unit was built in the bedroom closet
where they would be carefully stored
when not in use.

His girlfriend joined in
she was a sassy little pink bunny
named ‘Boo!’

It was all in good fun
for a while…

Then something changed
the shows became angry
political and
at times bizarre and
uncomfortable to watch.

It was no longer for the son.
He started filming just himself
in the basement and
spending more and more time
with the puppets.

When it got to the point where he
was always in character
we knew that there would soon
be big mean trouble.

Mr. Hand Puppet
was what everybody called him
by now.

He would take the puppets for walks
downtown
talking to himself
in the voice of whatever puppet
he had on
at the time.

Then one day he just disappeared
but other people
started disappearing too soon after
from the homeless shelter
downtown.
The police would find strange scraps of
fuzzy bright material
at the crime scene.

They didn’t know what was going on
but I did
deep down I knew exactly that.

It was a week later
that I got the afternoon phone call
that would put it all to an end:

“Hey-Hey-Hey! Duuuh! Howdy Mr. Rabbit!”
Mr. Hand puppet
sounded peculiar perhaps because
he was far too happy
to be sane.
“What are you up to today? Hee-hee-hee!”

“Just tell me where you are.” I almost whispered,
by now ready for just about everything
but not this:

The front door of the house was
wide open and I
rushed upstairs
to find Mr. Hand Puppet
in the bedroom
lying face-down in a pool of
growing blood.

I froze.

My mind was racing with possibilities
and none of them good
even the fact that I was now standing in
the middle of a crime scene
was also not good

but those thoughts
were suddenly swept away
as from behind me I heard
the closet door
slowly being opened
and a voice say:

“Howdy Mr. Rabbit…

would you like to know a secret?”

Her Flower is the Rain

She absently plays
with the stitches across
her lips.

Her eyes
have more sky
than sky.

Laughter like wind chimes
she holds out her hands
to collect the rain

hides all her light
where nobody is allowed

and I’ve walked past her a million times

a million times.

Crazy Mexican Cocaine Cop Killer

Fresh from leaving the scene
with bodies all over the floor
staring up at the ceiling fans
with glass eyes.

They looked exactly how Hector said
when he showed me my first:
“See, there’s nothing inside of them anymore.
You’ve got nothing to fear from a dead man
except his kid.”

Soon after the slaughter
I passed this cop on the highway
and he wasn’t looking at me right
something about the big, broad sneer
painted all across his fat, dirty face
really pissed me off

so I spun a 180
hard
half across the road
half across the gravel
fish-tail swinging wide
like her hips in those jean shorts.

Lord have mercy,
what a fucking whore
she was in the end
and it only made me want her more
than life itself.

I came up hard on his cop’s tail,
while throwing my nose into the rest of the bag.

Fuck, that’s primo Mexican!
Everything else they have is shit but
their coke and tacos? Holy fuck!

“Pull over, Pig!” I shouted
until he slowed down on the shoulder
as I picked up the revolver
lying across the
passenger seat.

“Hey Piggy, Pig Pig Pig…” I chanted,
“It’s your turn to pull over now.”

I fumbled the door but it opened anyway.

I got out of the car
raised my pistol
and bullets went flying
as I laughed.