Tag Archives: scary

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 Dealer’s Apartment

The text read: 122 Hamilton Street. Apt 42. Bring a flashlight. Get the stash and go home. Easy.

I arrived at a six-story apartment building that was completely dark. All windows were black squares. No lights in the parking lot. No cars.

Was this place completely empty?
It looked like a utilitarian tomb, but that was under closer scrutiny than I would have given any apartment building on any of these streets. Hidden in plain sight, there was something definitely wrong here. I could smell it.

Bring a flashlight. So, the dealer knew about this. Of course he did.

I opened the front door to silence. No dogs barking. No babies crying. No life. I pulled the flashlight app on in my phone and held it in front of me as I went up the stairwell to the fourth floor. All was still. Eerie. A night museum.

I shone my light upon each door until I came to the right one and knocked.

“Get your light off my door.” I heard someone say from behind it.
“What?”
“Put your fucking light down. Do you understand English?” The voice sounded gruff, tired, angry.

“Okay.” I complied. The door opened to an apartment I couldn’t see as it was pitch black except for the echoes of light my phone reflected off the linoleum floor.
“Keep your light down. Don’t shine it in my face, so help me God.”
“No problem.” My hand was shaking slightly, causing the light to bounce around. I steadied it, but everything about this situation made me extremely nervous.

“Wait here,” he went into the bedroom and slammed the door behind him.
I heard the distinct sound of somebody sucking up a rail of cocaine (or whatever) up their nose. I heard a female’s voice.
“Shut the fuck up,” he said, almost at a shout. “Nobody fucking asked you.”

The man came back out and put something on the table. I shone my light on it. Pills in a Ziploc bag. I could see his stained white shirt momentarily before pulling my phone back down. I thought that he was going to berate me for shining my light on the table but, “go on, take it.”

I stepped forward and shoved the bag into my inside pocket.

“Get the fuck out. Keep your light down. Don’t shine it on anyone. You’ll be sorry that you did. You Shitbags never fucking learn. Scram.”

I gladly got out. In the hallway, from the opposite end towards where I was going, I heard a door close and footsteps start to come my way –heavy, awkward ones. I did what my immediate instincts told me to, shut the light off and plastered myself back against the wall until they passed.

Once I was outside, I could really feel the cold in the air. I punched in an Uber and waited, thinking that my problem –my whole new fucking situation– might have been a little understated.

And I wasn’t sure about these pills anymore.

THE INCUBUS OF IRVING ST.

Tina was pulling grocery bags from her trunk when she spotted Bono walking across the street. That’s right, U2’s very own Bono looking like he had just stepped out of the ZooTV tour with the shiny black suit, chest-open shirt, and fly sunglasses. There was no mistaking it because nobody else looked like him. Tina immediately dropped what she was doing and began to follow the singer with complete abandon.

Ireland was a long way away; what was he doing here? Who cared? She wanted to ravage that rock god sex beast right there on the curb. Tina may have been pushing fifty, but she still hit the treadmill and had some bang to her buck –never mind the late afternoon Chianti’s.

Tina kept calling his name, but other than slightly turning her way and showcasing a broad, cocksure smile, Bono kept on walking like he owned the planet. What a tease! Tina became so distracted in watching that hot ass rattle and hum down the sidewalk that she must not have been paying very much attention to anything else as it seemed so sudden that they were all the way down Irving Street to where it met the railway beside the overpass.

Tina never ventured into this area as she had always thought it to be a haven for vicious hobos and violent meth addicts, but now there was no one in sight. At the dead end right before the sidewalk ended into a wall heavily laden with graffiti, Bono finally turned around. Tina only then noticed that there was something different about Bono’s face.

He wasn’t smiling anymore.

Beth was in the process of unlocking her niece’s front door when she heard a knocking sound on the trunk of her car. She turned to see Jim Morrison smile as he patted the taillight and wink as he walked away. There was no mistaking it. No way that wasn’t Jim Morrison. He didn’t look like anybody else.

Wait, wasn’t he supposed to be long dead? He was so hot. Who cared? Beth was freshly divorced from Asshole after twenty-seven long-suffering years of dull and dry nothing, had only a stuffed bank account to show for it, and was dying for something that didn’t sag all the way down. She dropped everything that she was doing and began to follow him.

The Lizard King strutted down the sidewalk without a care in the world. Beth could tell by the fit of his tight leather pants that it wasn’t just his face that looked like it was sculpted by Michelangelo. Where was this iconic piece of deliciousness taking her? What was he going to do to her when they got there? She shivered thinking about the possibilities. Beth must have been thinking about them so hard that they had walked all the way down to the end of Irving Street and she didn’t even notice.

As they came to the abrupt end of the walkway, Beth stopped and realized that she had never been this close to the bridge before, mostly because it was an isolated area that she didn’t consider safe, even when walking Poochie.

There, she found a huge wall covered with painted eyes of all different colours and sizes staring down at her with strange words streaked across them that looked far from English. It all seemed so…Far East, Hindu maybe.

Something shiny on the ground caught Beth’s eye. She leaned down to inspect what was the silver buckle on a black purse. She looked around and quickly discovered that there were other purses of all colours and styles – some modern, but mostly outdated– scattered haphazardly across the lot.

And shoes too, some new but others looked old, very old –as in falling apart and completely colourless, old. Noticing how strange these items were, Beth leaned in closer to examine the pebbles that crunched under her feet and to her growing horror she realized that those weren’t pebbles at all, but teeth –along with piles of jackets, fabric, clumps of hair, and other things that sprang into clarity that her mind almost would not accept, almost. The whole area was covered with this…people residue in every direction.

Beth looked up with a sinking heart, arms and legs frozen in fear, as the singer turned around.

And Jim wasn’t smiling anymore.

The Window

“Did you take your medication, Hon?
The neighbours complained again.
The walls are thin and
they can hear you laughing and
talking to the window.

And now you won’t talk to me
or look at me; you just continue to stare
at the damn television.

I’ve tried yelling and even shaking you and
I’ve never touched a woman like that in my life.

I’m not comfortable with it, but at the same time
I am tired, I am frustrated, and
I am angry
-but above all I’m scared, okay?

I am really scared because I don’t know what’s happening to you,
or what happened to us.

Why won’t you speak to me?
I don’t remember doing anything but my best for you.
I’m sorry that I have to work most of the time at the factory
and that I lost my job in the city and that
we had to move to this town
in the middle of nowhere and into
this destitute ground floor one-bedroom apartment
with just a torn couch and a cheap TV set.

Remember our wedding day?
You were so nervous standing with me at the front waiting for the priest;
so beautiful, vibrant and free.
If only we could go back
to that day –that moment,
and just start over somehow,
somewhere else.

Now you never leave the couch anymore.
You won’t eat.
You won’t change your clothes.
I don’t even know if you go to the bathroom.

And when I hear you talking in the middle of the night,
it scares the Hell out of me.

Who are you talking to?
There is nothing in the window.
Nothing around it.
I’ve checked.

It’s just your voice.
Nobody else’s.
That’s right, there is nobody
ever there at all
…or is there?

Who comes to you?
Why do you only talk to them?

What the Hell is going on? I’m falling apart and you have to talk to me…”

Depleted, Gary left the room and his unresponsive wife, went back into the bedroom where he had once lain with her, and pulled out a bottle of whiskey from the bedside drawer. It was the only way to sleep these days. He had nobody to go to –no family, no money for a doctor and no friends in this town. He had run out of options, so until Gary could think of something –Good Ol’ Jack was there to help numb the pain until sweet beddy-bye.

But sure enough in the middle of the night Gary was awakened by her voice talking loudly and laughing like everything was some sort of insane inside joke. Gary threw off the covers and stormed into the living room only to find his wife lying on the couch with her eyes wide open staring vacantly at a television that was turned off. Gary shouted in frustration and punched the wall until faceless neighbours shouted for him to stop with threats of calling the police. That wasn’t him a year ago; that wasn’t Gary at all. Things have spiraled out of control into a deep, dark pit.

Gary returned to the bedroom, looked at the clock and began to get dressed for work. It was going to be another hard day on the floor. Best start early.

That evening Gary returned to an empty apartment. There was no dormant wife lying on the couch anymore. He stood there staring at the empty space where she had once been as the last of the overcast sky fell into the room like a dead weight.

She didn’t take anything, not even any of her clothes. There was no note. There was nothing. Gary went through the motions of filing a police report. He had canvased the neighbourhood and reached out to any old friends or associates that he could locate with nothing to show for it. But all along he had known that there was nothing to find because deep down inside Gary knew that she had never really left the apartment at all.

Even during that time Gary would some nights be woken up by his wife’s voice on the other side of the wall talking to nobody –her laughter laughing at nothing– and would dash into the living room only to find it empty.

Also during that time, Gary had attempted to logically reconstruct what could have happened to her and arrived only at further frustration. So, it was time for some crazy thinking because crazy was the only thing left.

Gary was forced to come up with a different approach altogether because no matter how far he could get away from this terrible place, if Gary couldn’t find out where his wife went, he would never truly leave here, and Gary could not bear the thought of living the rest of his life like that.

The next night Gary laid on the couch, turned on the television set, and started flipping through channels. Perhaps he wasn’t even aware of what he was doing at first. It wasn’t until he turned the volume down a little lower just like his wife had as not to disturb Gary after he went to bed. That’s when he began to hear it; to feel it. It was so faint at first, but soon it became clear to Gary that whatever the window was, this was its first handshake.

Gary reasoned in the end that if it came for her then it might come for him too. Maybe it couldn’t help itself.

“That’s right, here I am, so come on. Time for me to join the party.” Gary looked up at the insidious window. He could hear voices now along with awfully strange laughter and began to see colours and slight silhouettes dancing around the window frame. It was all gradually becoming louder and more real.

“Alright,” Gary whispered to the darkening room, “let’s do this.”

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.”

Dad, Have You Seen My Scooter?

Life at times can unrelentingly kick your ass
without ever offering an explanation for it and
then brutally punish you for being desperate
until the world flips over gravity undoes itself and all of
the universe unravels in your lap

and this all occurs when you are
unfocused or not paying attention
like day-dreaming behind the wheel
missing where you were supposed to turn
and ending up in a ravine
or it occurs while performing a simple task
such as, let’s say
unpacking a box of used tools.

This was just after the divorce
it was rather messy
the entrails of our marriage
was still a burning trash heap of
screaming unsettled emotions
wailing sirens and tears

and so there was the new (but somebody’s old) house
seems like somebody left in a hurry
it was messy neglected and needed some care
but that would all be done

It was old but large and on a corner lot
not far from the school
not that far from work

Sometimes in bed
I would hear things at night
but you just had to get used to
how the house settled

And what a deal it was
when I had so little to put down
instead of asking questions I
counted my blessings

whatever was wrong with it I could fix
the only thing that mattered now was
that I had custody of Brian
as long as I had that and
we had a place to live and to call home
then it would all be okay
eventually

This was a fresh start
a new coat of paint over everything
and I was just starting to embrace it
on a overcast Saturday afternoon
in our long open basement
aimlessly sorting through a box of tools
when gliding into the room like a newborn superhero
came my son draped head to toe in last year’s
black hooded reaper Halloween costume upon his silver
adjustable kid’s pro stunt scooter

I smiled a little remembering his face
when he opened it last Christmas
until I realized that he was going too fast
and was sure to speed right into the
darkened backroom that was little more than a
closet that housed the water heater

He paid no attention to where he was going being
too busy looking at me bending down on his knees
swinging himself around and
off to the side showing off
laughing like he was super high on chocolate
having the time of his life

only when he was
halfway across the long room
did I realize how unsettling
his way-past giddy laughter was
and how strange his movements were

As I opened my mouth to say something to
the little rock star like ‘calm down!’
the body beneath the black reaper robe
swung down like a pendulum
so low that it was almost even with the leg board
much further then could be possible
having a spine or bones or even skin but as quickly
it stood back up to become the form of Brian again

nothing came out of my mouth
it was rather dry
my mind was busy trying to piece together
a logical explanation but
was not doing a very good job

The laughter continued –louder and higher
the scooter passed right in front of me now
closer to the darkness of the doorway

The cloak swooped down again
now inches from the ground
rippling like a water serpent then
viciously whipping about as though it were caught in the
maw of an over-excited alligator

the laughter came faster and faster
-a tea kettle pitching higher
and higher until ‘POP!’

the robe suddenly swooshed up and away
into mid-air floating dreamily before falling flat
revealing that there was nothing
but the scooter underneath which then
riding solo
sped up straight into the back room
where I heard it crash into the concrete wall

I cannot express enough that, as a parent
it is probably the most terrifying thing
to watch as your child suddenly loses
all of their bones and turns into a
a gelatinous pile of goo
or a rippling flag of black that disappears altogether
in complete daylight

There was something stuck in my throat
pretty sure that it was a scream
and it would not come out because there
was no air there was nothing but the
dropping of my stomach as my mind raced
to try and find something that would
make sense out of what I had just seen

after a full minute of not breathing
I finally managed to gasp
as my son rushed into the room
red-faced flushed from running

“Dad, have you seen my scooter?”

The Disappearing Factory Across The Street

“RAP-RAP-RAP-RAP!”
Good ol’ Eddie always banging on my door
with a cold beer on a Saturday afternoon.

He was here to talk about the humming again
the strange sound of machinery in the air
where there was no manufacturing plant for miles
we all heard it increasingly over the summer months
and of course Eddie was the expert on what it was.

The field across the street from our house
at the center of our neighborhood
that has been barren since we moved in
five years ago
was once an old factory
that had burned down decades ago
nobody survived
not even the foundation remains
every project to reclaim the space had
simply failed.

The humming came from the factory that once was there
according to Eddie who had chatrooms
about it on his phone
forums, blogs and other obscure articles.

According to town legend
every so often a great storm would come
to tear down the veil between the known
and the unknown and during this time
the whole entire factory appeared
to take over the field once again
like a ghost ship but with
an employee committee.

“That makes no sense at all, Eddie.” I’d say,
“Things like that don’t happen in real life.
it’s just a ghost story meant to attract tourists.”

But it was real enough to Eddie; he’s dreamt about it
his wife was concerned and the cats avoided him
he was becoming increasingly obsessed
as the humming became louder.

“Can’t you hear it? It’s every day now. It’s coming back. Soon. I can feel it in my bones.”
“I think that might be the beer…or maybe cancer.” I replied.

The only live witness that Eddie could muster
to having actually ever seen the factory was Bayou Billy
who lived on the corner but that his dog had died
of a Methamphetamine overdose
three weeks ago and the fact that the
thing was still lying dead on his front lawn
chained to a tree like it
was in any condition to escape
did not make him the most reliable witness
and also he was blind.

I had decided that Eddie was delusional
but on certain nights when we all could hear
the low rumbling sound of machinery
coming out from everywhere
it did kind of have me spooked.

Then the day came when he finally did prove me wrong and man
it was like the end of the world
during the World Series
a huge strangely intense storm was in full force
the cat got blown off the porch hours ago and

“RAP-RAP-RAP-RAP!”
I opened the door and there was Eddie
soaking wet screaming -I could barely hear him
because towering behind him
where the field always was
there loomed a gigantic menacing brick building
that took up the entire wall of my vision
an utter monstrosity
and I could hear it so loud
producing God knows what
from God knows where.

“I TOLD YOU! I KNEW IT WOULD COME! COME ON LET’S GO INSIDE!”
Eddie practically dragged me from my porch and across the street
I had no words but his face lit up like a crackhead at Crack Christmas
I tried to pull him back
something was wrong with this place
other than that it was actually there to begin with
Eddie didn’t see what I saw
the way the factory looked like a yawning death trap
from a terrible nightmare or a thousand-year Reich
the jagged surfaces jutting out in impossible angles
that sole figure looking down at me
how it waved at me
it would always give me nightmares.

But Eddie would hear none of it
“I NEED TO GO IN! I NEED TO SEE IT!” was all he shouted
he broke my grip and
ran into one of the many doors
it seemed that at that moment the storm stopped
and the factory disappeared
and so did Eddie.

I never told anyone about that night not even my wife
because I wasn’t stupid enough to sound that crazy.

Eventually his wife stopped looking for him
a couple years later the family moved away
my kids grew a little taller and my wife and I
more than a little distant the room was always
full of unspoken words and maybe
it was me maybe I blamed myself for what happened
to Eddie I should have stopped him somehow and now not a night
went by where I didn’t see his stupid grinning face shouting:
“I NEED TO SEE IT!”

A year later my wife and I were divorcing
and we had put the house up for sale
she was no longer living there it was just me and
I could hear the humming those nights
but what it really felt like was some kind of PTSD
from long before reminding me of the things
I should of done.

Once again during the world series
I had just switched the TV and all the lights off when
a storm had swept in and was raging terror all across the sky.

Suddenly my bedroom was flooded with light
and outside I could see the many levels and windows
of the factory as it was once again now standing in full force
right across the street right in front of my window and it
took me by such surprise
that I almost didn’t hear the front door:

“RAP-RAP-RAP-RAP!”

The Bully

Tyler was the biggest, meanest, toughest
bully there was in our neighborhood
and he terrorized us younger kids
on a daily basis as he lay in wait
in the alleyway,
in his leather jacket,
smoking Marlboro’s.

A decade ago,
a car accident put him in a
wheelchair for life and had
reduced his mental capacity
to that of the local produce section.

Nobody had seen him since then
until I did the other day,
now in my forties.

His sister was wheeling him
across the broken pavement of
the local strip mall and after
some conversation was struck up,
she asked if I could wait with him
outside while she went into the drugstore.

Tyler was silent, small and stared
vacantly at the ground.

“Sure thing,” I said,
wanting to be nice to her.
She still had it.

Not a moment had passed since she went inside
when I felt a sudden cold, steel pressure
clamping down on my wrist.
It felt completely alien, but some part of me
automatically knew that it was Tyler’s hand.

The crushing grip tightened as he
applied even more pressure and
worst of all was that while Tyler was
staring up at me
–where before there was
nothing but blankness in his eyes,
there now was this evil spark,
this glaring, searing manic light,
widening with recognition.

“Hey, look who it is! It’s the Little Toad!”

‘Little Toad’ was Tyler’s nickname for me and
suddenly I was twelve again,
trying not to get pulled into his madness but
compelled by the force of it all the same.

“Little Toad! Little Toad!”
Tyler shouted with glee
as his hand continued to crush my wrist;
his face now right up in my mine.

“Nothing ever changes! You’re still a Little Toady Toad!
And while you’re wrapping your arms around the bottle,
your wife is wrapping her legs around the dentist!
That’s right, I see it all, and it’s all a million laughs!”

Tyler’s entire face seemed to grow out and distort
like a balloon inflating from the stump of his neck
or a twisted medieval gargoyle coming to life.

“What?! You think I was done with you back then?”
Tyler’s voice scraped through my ears like
unrelenting poisonous sandpaper.

“HA HA! Little Toad! I’ll always be here!
I’m at your house every day and every night!
I’LL NEVER BE DONE WITH YOU -IN FACT,
I’M JUST GETTING STARTED!”

It was all coming together like
the worst possible nightmare
in all eternity
and I started to scream.

“My God, are you okay?” His sister was standing
just outside of the shop door staring at me
like I was a complete lunatic and
Tyler was leaning against the side of his
wheelchair, back to normal,
staring away at nothing,
even drooling a little bit.

I didn’t say anything.
I just walked away
to my car then drove to my house and
to my wife and kids.

Later on that week,
I thought myself silly for sleeping
with a baseball bat beneath my bed.
Really, what was wrong with me?

Perhaps because we were sleeping
in different beds now,
or perhaps because of something else.

Later on that night,
I thought I heard a noise
from out back.
It seemed somehow
deliberate.

I went outside and
nobody was there…
but somebody had been:

on the patio table there was
a cigarette left burning…

a Marlboro.