Tag Archives: supernatural

THE NOISY BATHROOM FAN

At first, Randall was appalled when the noisy bathroom fan suggested that he murder his girlfriend right there and then, but then he grew intrigued. With the fan’s persuasive voice, the thought of murder solidified into an ideal. Was it possible? In fact, was it the only thing that would set things right?

He was beginning to think so.

The bathroom fan had been broken since Randall had moved into the small corner unit five months ago. So, instead of the calming thrum that accompanied most properly functioning, well-maintained exhaust fans –it instead produced a violent, garbled choking that resembled a dying animal in heat. Its multi-layered rattling occasionally peaked into a wild banshee-like scream that almost seemed deliberate and threatened to take over everything.

And one day it did just that when it simply began to speak.

…Randall…

“Yes?” Randall looked around then up at the fan. “Hello? Is somebody in there?”

…You have to take her out, Randall. Use one of your long kitchen knives…make it dirty…

“Why would anybody do that? And why would I, especially? I really, really like her.” Randall held a quizzical expression on his face. He didn’t really understand, but the noisy bathroom fan would help him with that.

…That’s why you’ve got to do it, to protect yourself from people like her…she’s going to get in and eat you all up from the inside like a cancer…

The voice that came from the fan seemed to fall directly into Randall’s ear in a soothing lull that betrayed its chaotically abrasive presence. The fan knew things. The fan was Randall’s friend and was only looking out for him. But still…

“No! No!” Randall struggled with the idea now. Amy was perfect for him, wasn’t she?

…She’s gonna mess you up, Randall, just like your ex-wife…because she doesn’t know any better…

The fan’s words swept through Randall’s mind, bringing light into where there once was only darkness and planting seeds where that light now was so that ideas could grow. Randall’s eyes widened. He was beginning to see.

“Yes, you’re right. I need to do this.”
…Gotta mess her up, Randall…
“I’m gonna mess her up!”

…Do it now…do it now…
“I’m gonna do it right now!”

Randall left the bathroom and quietly walked past the living room where Amy was sprawled on the sofa watching Netflix. Randall slowly entered into the small side kitchen where he pulled a long, stainless steel knife from a drawer. He then approached Amy slowly from behind raising the knife over his head, readying to plunge it deep into the back of her neck just like the fan wanted.

Amy sensed Randall behind her and spun her head around to see him standing right there. It looked like Randall was holding something behind his back.

“What’s up, Babe?” She asked, eyes widened.

“Nothing, Hon.” Randall swayed on his feet just enough to lean over and leave the knife on the counter. That would have to do, for now. “Hey listen, do you think you can stay over tonight? I can take you home in the morning.”

“Ok, sure. Come, sit down on your favourite recliner.” Randall looked like he thought it was a good idea. Amy tilted her head. “You alright? You look a little triggered.”

“No, everything’s fine,” Randall sighed, “I just have to fix the exhaust fan in the bathroom.”

“I noticed. It’s rather noisy.”

“Oh yeah? You were in there for quite a while earlier. Forgot about that.”

“It told me you were going to kill me.”

Randall laughed nervously as he usually did when he didn’t know what to do or say. The bathroom fan was right: he was a big pussy. Amy slowly pulled a larger kitchen knife than the one Randall had out from under the cushion she sat upon and held it in a firm grip.

“Think this is a joke?” Amy said as she got up.

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.”

THE PARTY DRUG

Tom lost his fiancé at a party. He didn’t like being without her in an apartment crowded with people. He didn’t like people. He didn’t know what to say to them. Stacy was the only one he could talk to. And now she was gone.

That’s when he saw the boy standing in the living room with an open Ziploc bag handing out pills like it was Halloween candy. He looked so nicely cooked that you just wanted to be him.

“This is Eddie’s shit, Man. Best in town. Y’all know Eddie, right? We’re just around the corner so hit us up. Nice chill buzz. It’ll get your girl in the mood. Spread the word that I’ve got free samples cause I’m only here ‘til it’s gone. Only got fragments left, Man, fragments.”

Largest reason why Tom didn’t like being around people was that he easily saw into them and mostly didn’t like what he saw. The boy with the bag didn’t add up at all. Beneath his entrepreneurial bravado he looked scared. Of what? It was a party, Man, not even a particularly exciting one.

People were snatching pills up as word circulated around the apartment. When the boy gave out the last one and noticed that Tom was watching him he took the empty sandwich bag in both of his hands, blew into it and then popped it with his fist. He mouthed a word slowly to Tom and made for the door, fumbling the knob on the way out. Tom couldn’t make out what he had said but he barely tried.

Fuck, where was Stacy? She knew better than this. Tom didn’t want to seem desperate enough to go looking for her either. It was one of those situations that exemplified exactly why he was dragged here by his balls and Tom was just going to sit there and wait a few more minutes like a good dog.

That’s when the laughter in the kitchen started.

Everybody was laughing in there. What a riot. Good times. They kept on and on. They didn’t stop. After a while Tom could tell by the way that people in the living room had stopped talking with eyes nervously darting back and forth that it scared them too. A couple of them started laughing themselves. It was catching on, whatever it was. Something was happening.

The laughter became louder until it was all anyone could hear and it wasn’t only coming from the kitchen now. People were bent over here and there having a fit. It didn’t look fun; it looked forced. Tom realized that he was gripping the sofa he sat on with white knuckles.

Tom wasn’t sure what was going on but it was strange enough to potentially send him over the ledge and all the way down. His short bursts of breath were signaling a coming panic attack and Tom wasn’t about to have one here because there was nowhere to hide. Stacy would be disappointed, even if she didn’t show it.

A skinny blonde girl stumbled out of the kitchen cackling like a rabid hyena. The people that weren’t laughing started screaming –her face; her fucking face. Tom sprang from the sofa and sped to the back of the apartment calling Stacy’s name and going into every room until he found her.

“We’ve got to go, now!” Stacy saw enough to not protest and held Tom close as they made their way back down the hall towards the front door. Stacy looked into the next room they passed and screamed as Tom pulled her away.

Uncontrollable laughter was only a symptom of becoming something far worse. What they saw now were no longer people. Their faces and bodies had disfigured into some morbid curiosity. It made you sick to look at them but you didn’t want to look away as everything was happening so fast.

Tom knew that it wouldn’t stop there and that this was the beginning of an event that was beyond his comprehension. What he did comprehend was that they weren’t going to make it past the living room. Not with what he saw happening up ahead. Nothing should make a person look like that and do those things. Rage wouldn’t describe it.

Passing by the bathroom Tom saw that it was empty, pulled Stacy inside and locked the door. Not satisfied, he held the doorknob with both hands. Tom now felt shut in and trapped but at least he didn’t have to see what was going on out there. Screams filled the apartment. Screams and laughter. It was pandemonium. It was a living Hell.

It was only then that Tom thought back to what the boy had said to him and realized it was, ‘I’m sorry.’ If it didn’t make much sense then it was much clearer now. But what in God’s name had he done?

“Call 911!” Tom shouted, but Stacy wasn’t moving, until she lifted up her face. Her mouth had already frozen into an sickening grin that almost met her yellow bulbous eyes trapped in a blank mad stare that was both haunted and haunting. It was a face that would have been comic had it not been terrifyingly so.

“Oh no, Baby. NO BABY! No no no no…not you too…” Tom reached for her and began to cry.

Stacy began to laugh.

Part 2 of 2. Catch part 1 here: THE DEALER

THE DEALER

“I’m going to tell you what’s going to happen if you go to the hospital in order to save you some time. First, they’ll take some tests, stick needles into you, give you some saline and sedatives, pump your stomach and slide a catheter into your dick. None of which will be pleasant under your current condition of duress. None of which will work.”

I got high with a couple friends eight days ago. Ecstasy and a little bit of coke, nothing crazy. But we haven’t been able to come down since. None of us. Drinking wouldn’t do anything. Sleeping pills? Forget it. Wasn’t able to sleep at all, barely could eat. Called into work. Couldn’t drive. And it was getting worse. Had to go back to the source, the source that was this voice over the phone.

“And when they don’t find anything physically wrong with you they’ll bring you to the next step: psychological evaluation. Welcome to the psyche ward. By this time you’ll be so aggravated that they might consider you a danger to yourself and others and that’s ninety days right off the hop. Either way, you keep up this ‘I’m high and I can’t come down’ story and they’ll keep you in for 72 hours at first for observation, then two weeks, then a month. Jesus, a month in the loony bin is enough to drive anyone insane, especially one who is already fucked up on what nobody else can see or detect and God knows what else they’ll make you swallow and how that’s going to react with what you’ve already ingested. The drug is a ghost. One that only you see. I made it that way.”

Went to Derek’s. He was way worse than I was. Kept shouting that he needed Christ. Yeah, got it. Sarah couldn’t even look at me; she was in some catatonic state. Kept pulling at her hair and clawing at her own face. Something had to be done. None of us wanted to go to the hospital and admit what we were on. Our episode would go on public record. Future employers would see it. Cops, family –it was a no go. But when it got to the point where that didn’t matter anymore that’s when the fucking phone rang. Guess who it was?

“Am I painting a somber picture here of how things are going to go? Because I can give you names of people just like you that are still there, wasting away in some hospital basement without the ability to even construct a sentence. Or what about the ones that saw it coming and decided to take things into their own hands not bearing the thought of eventually becoming a vegetable that nobody gives a fuck about. Nah, not them. Smart ones, you see?”

The dealer. Like he was reading my mind. Just like that. And things got worse the more he talked until it made the trip I was on the least of my fucking problems. But why? Derek and Sarah were already falling apart and would probably never recover. What was it worth to ruin people’s lives like this? The answer I got made me realize that my problems were just starting because if I was looking for empathy I was in the belly of the wrong beast.

“Why you guys? Motherfucker, why not? You got high off my shit and now I control you and that is the way it goes. I’ve built this. I’ve got designs. Nobody asks where it comes from anymore so this gets easier all the time and I’m aiming even higher. Ha, get it? Remember that I control you because I control how you feel now. I can make it good just like the very first time you ever dropped, or I can make it so bad that you’ll want to die. Just die. That’s all. We all know how lonely and final it can all be. Just one little tweak and your whole narrative will change.”

What do you want?

“Now we come to the point. What do I want? Well, that all depends on what you want, my new friend. You want out of this? You want to be able to go back to your job, your family, your girl or guy or whatever the fuck you’re into? I need you to do something for me and I’ll make it stop. Are you ready to listen? Do I have your full attention?”

Yes. I’m listening.

“Good, cause there’s this party coming up and you’re bringing the treats.”

 

Part 1 of 2. Catch Part 2 Here: The Party Drug

FLASH HORROR FICTION #12: NEIGHBOUR’S SHED

“Did you hear something?”

“No,” Sam lied. He did, and it shook him up even though Sam was expecting to hear it: the voice of a little girl singing. It was coming from the neighbour’s shed.

It was mid-January. The garage they were in was just a roof stuck to the side of a house. Sam had a portable lamp hung over the open hood of a car and held a wrench in his hand but had no idea what to do with it. This was all just for show.

Jamie wore only a light jacket and had his hands shoved deep into its pockets as he shivered. He was there to tell Sam that he was screwing his wife and that she was leaving him. Sam knew this because Jamie had told everyone and that was because Jamie could never shut the Hell up once to save his life.

Sam had never been to this garage before and the owners of the house were not his friends. But Jamie wouldn’t know that because he never gave a second thought to anything outside the sphere of his personal interests. Getting Jamie here was easy. The next step? Probably even easier.

“Okay,” Jamie said, “you had to hear it this time. I mean, come on!”

Sam heard it –you bet he did– but he simply shook his head slowly and leaned further into the engine as the girl continued to sing her lullaby.

“I’m going to check it out.” Jamie started walking toward the neighbour’s unfenced yard. “Forgot that it’s always up to me. I’ll be right back.”

“You do that,” Sam said to himself. The girl’s voice became louder and Sam had to laugh a little: a girl singing in a shed on a January night and she needs Jamie to go save her.

He had to hand it to the girl though, even while dead she could still really belt out a tune.

Oh, King Jamie, I’ve been waiting for something like this. I’ve swallowed your shit for ten years, and I’ve listened to you go on about your cars and your girls and your money. Oh, and also about how you’re just better than everybody else. You may have managed to even fool my wife, but not me because I know what you truly are and that’s a goddamn virus that needs to get stamped out and now.

Sam smiled as he heard the shed door open and Jamie’s voice calling out with that authoritative command of his: “is there somebody in here?”

Yes, there is indeed, King Jamie. Twenty years ago today a little girl was murdered by her own father on her birthday and left to rot in that shed and since then each year on this special day she needs a little ‘gift’ or else all Hell breaks loose around this whole neighbourhood because she can be a very, very angry little spirit when she doesn’t get her present.

So, because I knew what you needed to talk to me about in person when you called, well, I called up these good people I knew of and asked if we could do each other a favour because that’s how they chose to deal with this predicament instead of having to move everybody out. When you don’t have all the money and influence in the world you have to do what you need to in order to survive and sometimes it’s ugly like this. So, this year you’re going to be her present, King Jamie, and that in itself will be mine.

Jamie’s sudden harrowing scream sent chill’s down Sam’s spine.

Then there was nothing for a while –no screaming or singing, just a hollow shed with its door left banging in the cold wind.

A woman with striking green eyes came out into the garage from a side door of the house and said, “it’s done.”

Sam nodded, put down the wrench, removed the lamp and shut the hood of the car. He gave her a weak smile then turned and started down the driveway.

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?”

The War Veteran

Johnny had his face in his iPhone.
He didn’t see the crippled old war veteran
lying like litter on the sidewalk
in a beaten parka begging for change.

“Get out of my way, you filthy bum!”
Johnny was disgusted. The city should do a better job
of keeping this scum out of his sight.

As Johnny went to kick the man’s legs
to teach him a lesson
the old man’s hand reached out
and seized Johnny by the ankle
for while this particular veteran had lost everything
along the way he had obtained a very special gift
and today it would be Johnny who was the one
receiving the lesson
of a lifetime.

Everything went dark and quiet but for only a moment.
Johnny opened his eyes but didn’t remember closing them.

He wasn’t downtown anymore.
Instead Johnny was in a rice field and his ankles were all wet
the air was stifling hot with no breeze
large insects buzzed all around him and he could
smell his own sweat along with cow shit
but he didn’t have time to feel disgusted again.

A large boom displaced the air all around him as
further up the way
the entire tree line disappeared beneath
a wall of mushrooming fire
as jets roared past overhead.

Johnny’s eyes widened as the heat hit him and as
dozens of men came running out towards him screaming
all completely covered in crawling flames.

Johnny could smell their skin burning
when the barrage of endless bullets began
whipping right past his head and
cutting down the men Johnny realized
where all around him
scared just like him –men that
he went to basic training with
that he played cards with
men that were like his brothers.

The way that his best friend’s body
twitched as it was riddled with bullets
made him look like a dancing puppet
and it might have been funny as Hell
if it didn’t break Johnny’s heart.

Bombs exploded dirt high into the sky
that came raining back down all around him.
Then another hit…and another
closer and closer each time.

Johnny turned his head to look behind him.
A boy, must have been only seventeen
a new recruit that Johnny knew well
was seated on the ground trying to hold his guts in
screaming for his momma.

Men in straw hats came running out of the forest
fire spouted in rapid succession from the barrels of their guns.
They were all around him coming in fast.
Johnny was paralyzed with fear
his bladder let go inside of his pants when
the sergeant –a large shirtless man wearing a cowboy hat
calmly smoking a cigar
came up to Johnny and slapped him:

“Don’t you dare wet yourself on my field, soldier. You worthless piece of wet chicken shit I’ll hand you over to Charlie myself and you’ll get ass-banged all the way to Goddamn China if you don’t get a grip on your gun and DO WHAT YOU”RE TRAINED TO DO!! We’ve got to take this damned village or we’ll all be sucking bamboo dicks for the next ten years so get your Sally-ass shit together and make yourself GOD-DAMN USEFUL! GET TO KILL’N SOME COMMUNISTS! YOU WANT TO MAKE IT HOME SOME DAY THEN START MOVING! THE ONLY WAY OUT IS FORWARD AND THROUGH THESE SHITBAGS!”

The sergeant was the scariest person Johnny had ever seen
he was obviously completely insane
and made Johnny want to run into the fire just to escape his presence.
Instead the sergeant pushed Johnny forward and at that moment
Johnny somehow knew that he had spent over a year
in this Hell and there was no respite from it
not day or night
it would just continue on and on.

Johnny’s Mom wasn’t going to be able to
bail him out of this there was no one
there was nothing but him and his gun and
he was going to die or go mad in this man-made Hell
where everything was burning and filthy and all covered in
grease and blood and where everyone wanted you dead
and the only thing worse than the insects was the heat
and the constant endless stream of enemies.

This was a reality that he had never had to feel
or know was real and Johnny just couldn’t handle it.
Johnny just wanted to go home and hide under his bed.

Johnny leaned over and vomited
then vomited some more
as the sounds of passing cars and people
laughing returned and Johnny opened his eyes
realizing that he was in the middle of the sidewalk
crying, having wet his pants and now
retching his insides out in front of a
group of Japanese tourists.

Johnny ducked into a nearby alley
and leaned back against the cold brick wall
shivering and still crying.

The last thig he remembered before all this was
the man…the old man…
The war veteran.

The old man climbed up into his wheelchair and
quietly rolled himself down towards the harbor.

He had found some bread to feed the gulls with.

It was getting late and the view of the water
at sunset always made him feel at peace.

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.