Category Archives: literature

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?”

The Laughing

I must have been twelve
the first time I heard it
deep in the woods
-the laughing.

Sometimes it was a woman’s laughter
sometimes it was a man’s
sometimes an old voice
and sometimes young

but there was something about
the laughing
unlike anything you’ve
heard before.

Deep in your bones
you knew that it was not
like you or me
or the forest or the
cars on the street
grown or made by man
or in any way
natural.

Nobody knew what it really was
why it was there or
how it came to be.

Nobody talked about it
but everybody knew.

When you heard it from your room
late at night you knew
that harrowing echo
wasn’t a teenager by the bonfire
a drunk in an alley
a coyote or another night
animal
this was different
there was something about
the laughing
that made you want to
crawl deep inside your bed
and stay there.

When it came
even the animals appeared
from the trees out
onto the streets
startled
eyes wide in terror.

You would wonder what it might
look like
but you never wanted to find out

of course,
unless you were a kid
on a dare.

Steven was sixteen
when he went into the forest night
through the trail then off into the woods
after it
following it
looking for it
because we had dared him
egged him on

we did not fear much
then

but that had changed

because we all heard
what it sounded like
when he had found it
or it him.

Even after the search party we never
told what really happened
that night.

We never caved
in fear that they would send us out next.

Even to this day
we don’t even mention it to each other
anymore
like we had forgotten
but none of us had.

Some nights still
the room drops in temperature
the blood stops running in my veins and
I become gripped by an old fear
when I hear it
because it knows
that I know that

thirty years later
what was out there
in the barren darkened wilderness
really wasn’t
young Steven…

laughing.

Be Strong Even When You’re Not

Be strong
even when you’re not.

Even when places
and people
become impossible.

Even when every room is unfriendly,
every day a shame,
every step a burden

and when giving up
seems like a breath of
fresh air.

Do not stop.
Do not cease.
Do not hesitate.

Don’t be like them.
Don’t be like them.

Move forward instead
and when it hurts,
when it aches,
when you bleed

smile.

Eventually you learn
that there is no other way.

Dusty Trumpets

Let me love you
furiously
like death loves the young and
fire loves a tree.

Let me take your hand
and put it on the trigger.

Let’s turn everything
into just plain murder.

Let’s give them all Hell
for having birthed us.

Let’s scream off the agony of being
and beat down the cages just to
bully the hungry lions.

Let’s rage against the day
against the night
against the vast indifferent sky.

Let’s shake the sleep out of the angels,
step on the toes of giants and
embrace the writhing Leviathan.

Let’s burn into forever.

Let’s awaken the dusty trumpets.

The Dust of Long Dead Sheep

I almost feel like begging
for the big grand knife or
the slender shivering blade
in these abundant alleyways
filled with uncertain strangers
with cartoon eyes and
teeth yellowed from manic sweets
(clowns, jugglers, thieves
in sharp expensive suits)
but all that they do
is kill me with conversation
until sleep gravity takes me down
wondering
why
the pen is too often so heavy
when everything else seems so much
like air filled with
the dust of long dead sheep
and the constant drum
of outdated machinery.