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ArT / CoMiC BoOk / NoVeL

 

Her Inferno

 

It’s a weird feeling when you wake up and don’t know where you actually are. Your first thought is usually that you are in your own bed. Your mind travels around to the actual location that you settled down for the night, using visual indicators and the clues you first see when you wake.  But sometimes you don’t choose the time your consciousness suddenly falls away into dreams and the puzzle takes longer to complete when you wake up.

 

Allison could make out a dark face covered in cuts. The shine in the centre glowed a pleasant orange, waving back and forth, and it was only on the edge of the shadowy image that she saw the extent of the damage. Blood trickled down from the face she had glanced at over the years and it all seemed very foreign to her seeing it now covered in red, reflecting off of a broken rear-vision mirror. Allison was a mess.

 

The Suzuki sedan had flipped off of the edge of the road, spinning wildly a couple times until it settled further down the bank. Allison’s memories came screaming back to her about how she got here.  But now was the time to act.  She moved her fingers at first, taking it slowly to ensure she would be able to fully move. There was a sensation of pain at the back of her head, dull and throbbing but every other part of her felt just fine. She felt the back of her head and the warm ,wet stickiness on her hand told her that she may be in severe trouble.

 

“Okay you have to remain calm and get out of here.”

 

Her inner voice guided her movements and when she felt that she wouldn’t fall apart from moving her body away from the car, the actual dramatic exit out of the vehicle wasn’t all that dramatic at all. Allison smiled and put it down to seeing so many films where the hero gets trapped inside the car and only just escapes with enough time to clear the inevitable explosion.

 

When she pulled herself out from the wreckage, Allison took one glance back at the Suzuki. The yellow car reminded her of a turtle that had flipped upside down and was just waiting for birds of prey to finish it off, the car doors swung open like paddles.

 

Any possible items that may help her during her walk back to civilisation were trapped inside the crumpled boot which, due to the car being upside down, meant that there was no hope getting to them.  Her fragile, glass covered iPhone had easily been smashed inside the car and Allison was kicking herself for buying such a useless and breakable piece of shit.

 

“Thank God it happened coming back from the gym” she thought to herself as at least she was still wearing the appropriate footwear and a warm tracksuit for such a trek. But it would be at least 10 PM, depending on how long she had been out cold and the night was cooling down quickly.  They say you should stay near your car in the event of a breakdown or accident so she risked a big Hollywood explosion and went back to the front passenger side to get her gym bag.

 

Taking out her towel, a 2 L bottle of water and also pulling off some car seat covers, Allison lay some of the covers down on the clearing that had open ground around 15 metres away from the wreckage. She firmly began to wrap the towel around her wounded head to reduce the head bleeding.   Around the clearing she also found some thin, dry , dead branches and stacked them in a neat pile. With the cigarette lighter from her driver’s console, ( she was hoping of quitting soon. Glad now that soon was an ongoing concept), Allison started a modest fire which quickly grew well enough from thicker pieces of wood to keep her warm for the night.  Her head still ached but she knew she was a fair distance from the closest neighbour. Allison waited for the fire to die down a little as she heard in the distance cries from unknown animals. She tried to prop herself up to reduce her head bleeding even worse. Shivering from the cold and shock, Allison again closed her eyes as the hands of sleep caressed her to a calmer place.

 

Allison woke up on her parents green lawn with wind chimes gently tinkling from a soft morning breeze. From her perspective, she saw the white film of dew spread well across the front yard. All of her nightgown was wet and she felt colder than she had ever been before. It was a cold that crept into the bones and ate away at your very being. Distant echoed screams came from inside of her head and Allison felt a sensation of panic as she walked towards the front of the house. The front door was slightly open and it being her parent’s house, didn’t feel obligated to politely knock to announce her arrival. 

 

She could tell there had been a struggle. There were two plates of cold scrambled eggs untouched on the dining table. Trails of ants came from the two plates and some cockroaches scuttled away when she passed the table. Allison walked further and into the living room. Horror filled her heart. A glass coffee table had been smashed in the centre and the fifty cent piece-sized dried bloodstain on the carpet in the living room was small but drew her attention straight away due to the rest of the carpet being cream coloured and spotless. There on the floor lying above the bloodstain was a single eyeball, plucked out and cleaned well. It was as if the intruder had spent time polishing this shiny piece of human anatomy like a butterfly collector preps his new captures, placing them carefully in the right position to best highlight the natural beauty of the organism.

 

Allison could tell straight away it was one of her father’s eyes. She silently mouthed the words, “His right eye.”  Most of the iris was blue but it had a squarish speck of brown on the left of the pupil.  Allison wondered why would someone come into this house and do such a thing to her parents. Her dad was a plumber and her mother was a driving school instructor.  Was it a case of mistaken identity?

 

“ Mistaken identity. That’s very amusing.”

 

Looking for the origin of the comment, Allison turned to look outside the window to see a very pale man with pink eyes and blond hair.  He had a rodent like face that made her dislike him yet curious about his comings and goings at the same time.

How did he know what I was thinking? Allison asked herself.

 

“ Communication is all in the listening, my girl. Any old fool can chatter but true understanding comes to you when you listen. I learnt this lesson a long time ago. A loooong time ago.” The albino man had an amused look on his face but his eyes had a tinge of cruelty in them and Allison couldn’t determine whether this meant he thought she was funny or that he wished to rip her apart like he may have done to her parents.

 

“ What happened to my parents?  Do you know who pulled my dad’s eye out ?” Her  words somehow came across as fake and wooden like she was in a play and hadn’t rehearsed and now this albino man was her bored audience and harshest critic.

 

“ Sounds funny doesn’t it? In a weird, tacky way, it’s like a bad joke. What you should be wondering is how you got here. One moment you’re in the darkness with a camp fire behind you and a car wreck in front and the next minute you are in your parents house at the scene of a possible crime.”

 

“ Is this a dream? Am I just hallucinating from the cold and a head injury? ”

 

“ Bingo! Correct question, my girl! Would you like that to be true? That these things you see are a reaction caused by your brain slowly bleeding out and eventually dying with the rest of your body suffering from hypothermia in the meantime? Or would you prefer yourself to be in good health and your parents to be the ones to suffer? ”

 

“Don't be crazy. It’s not like I’d have a choice. It’s either one or the other.”

 

The Albino Man walked closer to her and Allison could see that his skin glowed in the shade. There was a clearness in his complexion that balanced out the metallic rasp in his voice. His pink, beady eyes looked her over and then gazed into her own.

 

“ Ah but what if you had a choice? To live or die. Let me quickly show you. I'm already running very late.” 

AWAKE

I am awake and the world is asleep. The world that is important to me. The children innocent and asleep in their cots and tiny beds, sleeping soundly while drifting in a world of adventure unknown or forgotten by adults. A world once seen but then unseen like a spray of mist that disperses amongst the ocean.

 

Here I sit at my computer, rock music droning into the still air like a last cry for help from a suicidal soul. The lyrics mix together as the alcohol spins in circles between my blood. I am resigning myself to a night of searching for interest and then inevitable slumber.  Staying awake and trying to capture the night in the palm of my eager hand. I know to none avail but very well. I will try nonetheless. Everything non-descript and uneventful just as I've resigned it to be in my mind anyway.  Some comments on social sites and searching humour pages.

 

I hear a drag outside . I'm sure it comes from far away. I check to see if my beagle stirs but he is listless and enjoying the black leather lounge's contours without disturbance.  Surely he would wake if there was trouble.  My wife sleeps in front of the dark, black flat screen looming over her in the living room like a silent sentinel with its single big black eye. Ever seeing Cyclops.

 

Dismissing it, I return to the hum of my screen and continue tapping away, sliding the mouse to and fro while sipping on my cold Hahn Super Dry beer.  I feel the numbness creeping in as I swig the last of it's ember contents. It feels refreshing as it slides down my throat and the after-taste reminds me that I may have just had one too many and that the sound outside is just boredom asking for adventure. Is my life really that boring that I need to make stuff up happening outside my very window. I ignore it for a while the dragging, metallic sound comes close from outside my house. Just nearing about ten metres away. Almost able to be in view if I looked outside my living room window that the study I sit in spills into. But I refuse because I am a stubborn man, as are many, when weird things beckon for attention. Turning the volume up just enough to be able to ignore the dragging sound outside but not enough to wake my wife in the living room next door, I continue on with the game of ignoring. It doesn't work because when the horrible sound stops, I take a peak outside.

 

As David Bowie sings "Life on Mars?" on my computer, I peer further into the night and realise that the entire moon has been swallowed up. To my horror, the atmosphere outside my house seems dead black, like the harshest death of space. The void looking through my window and seeking me out. I am awake and alone.  I turn my head right and see my wife soundly sleeping in a world of pleasant rest. The gasp in the heart of my throat is eaten alive by my horror and I dare not wake her to this poor abyss that lies between us and the rest of the world.

 

The despair seeps into my bones and flesh like a slow-acting poison and just as I wonder what is going on, the darkness of jet black octopus ink sinks back into the ground and the night is as it was before. The night birds tweet and fruit bats flutter looking for a snack on local fruit. The dull glow of our closest

neighbour hangs confidently back where it was before. The Moon sends its reflected light from the Sun down as a reminder of the next day. The Sun is coming with his light and all is safe. All is safe except for me because just as the dark void sank away from the general area outside it also condensed into one black figure.  He walks towards the window and I try to scream. I try to pick up something to defend myself with but there is no point. This is no man and as he closes in on his prey, I know my place in the universe and it is very humbling indeed. Very humbling and in a weird way, I know he is the blackness within me. The depression of the soul and the hatred of man. That murderous desire feeding on the pent up rage of the day-to-day. It's my fault. I fed him and now he has returned for more food.  END.

                                                                                

 

SAD FACE

Gavin Wainwright

They called him ‘Sad Face’.

When I say They, I mean the three horrible students at Brett Black’s high school who noticed that he existed.  Because of Them, the skinny, brown-haired teen wished that he was fully invisible, like a living ghost walking through these troubled years. At least, if he was truly invisible to everyone, he wouldn’t get singled out as an easy target.  Not that he was a weak kid, as Brett was thin with wiry power, but he lacked the confidence to convert his natural strength to resemble anything that could look like courage. He was relatively good looking with brown eyes and a strong chin. But it was the shape of the thing between his nose and chin that caused the problem. Ultimately, this boy drew the wrong attention by how he never smiled or talked.  No-one in his family could recall seeing a smile on quiet Brett’s face after the age of five. It was as if a shadow had crawled into the boy’s dinosaur themed bedroom one autumn night and stolen away all traces of joy in his life.  

The Three who taunted him and basically made his life hell were now coming up the old road, striving against the large, sweaty flow of students walking away from the high school.  Brett, walking close to the back of the pimply swarm, saw Their cruel faces just beneath the heat haze and long before They saw him. The summer sun hovered over the nearby hills and surrounded the dusty city that Brett called ‘home’. Or ‘hell’ depending on whether They were around.

 ‘ I don’t want to put up with their crap today. This time I will stand up to them if they give me trouble,’ Brett thought.  The constant internal dialogue he kept with himself compensated for the few words he had spoken over the last twelve years. They had forced him to say more words than he had ever wanted to speak. He just wanted a quiet life while in high school - and then? And then - who cares as long as there is silence. Maybe move into the bush or do solo research in the Antarctic. Become a geologist and explore the ground. Travel down into the depths of the ocean. Brett got decent grades and therefore had good options after school. Love, kindness and silence – these three things had always eluded him his entire short life.

 ‘Hey Sad Face! What’s the rush?’

Brett’s decision of being courageous today vanished just as quickly as it had sprung up.

 ‘Look at him! Who died today, loser? Your slut of a mum?’

 ‘What a quiet, depressing  freak you are, Sad Face!’

 Brett pretended to not hear Them, clenched his fists and deviated from his original course, picking up his pace. As he reached the other footpath to avoid Them, They quickly sprinted over to his side like a pack of wolves on a speeding rabbit’s scent. Not a proper meal but good sport nonetheless.

Now blocking his path stood the fair, handsome leader of Brett’s three tormentors. This guy, John Castlestone, was lean but the most toned out of Them and he had a well pronounced speech pattern usually determined by educated, rich parents. Everybody including the teachers called him a ‘good decent bloke who sometimes hung out with the wrong crowd.’ He never usually did the dirty work but seemed to attract similar spirits to himself who were more than willing to be his muscle.

‘Wait a second, Creepy Boy.  Do you have any money for us today? We haven’t seen you for a whole week and today’s Friday so that will be fifty bucks you owe us?’  He sounded unsure of his calculation, still staring at Brett while waiting for echoing reassurance on the amount.

‘Yeah that’s right, John. Yeah it’s fifty bucks, Sad Face.  Ten bucks a day you gotta pay us to put up with seeing you and your pathetic fucking face around here,’  agreed Keith. He was a fast speaking, savage bulldog of a kid with a shaved head wearing a Billabong shirt and Quicksilver board shorts. Apart from the surf fashion, it was obvious that Keith Sunderland was more likely to steal surfboards for a joke than ride them.

 

Brett looked behind Them. The high school crowd had quickly journeyed either down the road to the local corner shop or towards the bus stop fifty meters further. Brett was alone with his usual tormentors this sweaty Friday afternoon.

It would be Saturday tomorrow. Good. Get through this.

 ‘Sorry John. I don’t have the cash.’

 ‘Sad Face, “sorry” doesn’t cut it.  I think you are holding out on us. What should we do to this liar, Benno?’ John said, handing Brett’s consequences over to someone who enjoyed enforcing them even more than, surprisingly, Keith.

 John looked over to the massive seventeen year old. Benjamin towered over this small gang’s back and in a way made the gang into four, his solid chest and shoulders harbored tremendous power . Benjamin Danker was one of the popular forwards in the grade twelve rugby team. His nickname was ‘Tank’ and on the football field you could see why. No-one ever risked coming up with any other obvious nicknames that rhymed with ‘Danker’ – and for a good reason.  If Keith was the bulldog, Benno was like the bull mastiff.

‘I think for every dollar he owes us, we give him a present,’ Ben smiled cruelly, his flat nose glistening in the afternoon sun.

 ‘What present will that be Benno?’ John smirked, putting his hands in his pockets like a coy child, grinning stupidly like this was all an innocent prank.

‘You’ll see Johnno.  You boys better hold Sad Face down before someone comes around here. It’s “art and craft” time boys,’ Ben said.  They approached Brett in a phalanx formation, the first rank filled by John and Keith and the back rank by Benjamin. Without him realizing, the three larger boys were backing Brett away from the street and any possible rescuers. This was going to be bad as They nowadays not only taunted Brett but, starting from last week, had taken turns punching and kicking him black and blue if he didn’t pay Them. Oddly, afterwards, Brett didn’t tell his parents or tell anyone about Them. Brett was as much of a mystery to his teachers as he was to his mum and dad. Because the boy was a true loner, he didn’t have any friends at high school to exact revenge on these cowards. Uninterrupted from any cavalry, They would continue with this cruel game today. Now.

‘Come on guys. Please let it go. Whatever I owe you, I’ll bring on Monday. Guys just leave this “surprise” for Monday if I don’t bring the Fifty,’ Brett nervously said. Sweat was pouring down the back of his neck and his mouth was dry as a bone from fear.

‘Too late Sad Face. We are going to enjoy this much, much more than any fif- SIXTY bucks you’ll owe us on Monday. Yeah just try to see this as you paying us today for our - artistic work,’ Benno pulled a red handled Swiss Army knife out of his jeans pants. The medium sized blade flicked open in a silver flash with practiced ease and pointed sharply towards Brett’s eyes.

‘What the hell did I ever do to you ?’ Brett wailed, turning to run from his fate as a seventeen year old loser.

 ‘The Sad Face’s bolting!’

John king-hit the back of Brett’s head with a punch so hard, he fell face forward into the dry grass. His jaw touched dirt first and, as he started to roll onto his back, a second strike, this time by Benno’s massive foot, caught Brett in the side of his ribcage. The fallen teen gasped in dry, powdered earth. Violently coughing flecks of mud out of his lungs, Brett for a strange reason vaguely remembered that there was an unused paddock nearby. After an unknown amount of time, his blurred vision started to slowly sharpen and, in a daze, he felt two of the three boys dragging him towards the dilapidated shed in the paddock’s back corner. They’d remembered the paddock as well.

 ‘Hold him still, Johnno!’

 ‘Don’t worry man. Sad Face is out to it.’

Searing pain spun around in circles on his forehead and, as soon as he cried because of this immense pain, it went.  Something wet and oily dripped where the pain was and a blurred hand swirled near his face, like a guardian angel taking away his torment.  After that he was sinking, with darkness filling his eyes but Brett could still hear them.  He would always hear them now in his mind, laughing and saying ‘ Make it big and deep, Benno! Give this loser a reason to be sad. Give him something to explain to people why he’s called “Sad Face”!’

                                                    

                                                      L

It was just after sunset when Brett woke to pain again. Dirt covered the right side of his face and his black shirt and blue jeans were covered in a delightful mixture of caked blood and black ink.  An empty pot of ink was lying next to his head. Brett could hear the occasional car whiz past but for some reason it felt like half a mile away. He knew he was only fifty meters from the high school road.

Slowly, Brett stood up and finally found his water bottle in his untouched school bag. ‘They didn’t even look for any money. They were too occupied with cutting me with that knife. Lucky me’ Brett almost smirked- almost.

Brett first took a swig of cool water into his parched mouth, spat out something black and then washed his burning face. A painful sting emitted from the centre of his head and when he looked up, using a half smashed shed window as a mirror, saw his SURPRISE!  Carved in the centre of his forehead, the size of a clenched fist and frowning back at him, was a black, jagged icon. It reminded him of the ones he drew as a child –a Sad Face. Brett screamed and turned towards the traffic.

 

L

The seasons came and went. The grade twelve students graduated school and, afterwards, a few started to either live their dreams or visit their nightmares according to their short term decisions and long term consequences. The majority of students never really reached these pleasant highs or terrifying lows. They merely coasted along and, as the years flew, most were working the same jobs, dating the same people and overall waiting for good fortune to track them down and give them what was coming to them. 

After ten years, Brett Black’s parents finally accepted that their quiet son was dead and gone. He had disappeared one Friday after strangely claiming he was sick for most of the week, groaning at home in bed and sometimes doubling over from pain. Brett’s mother wanted to take him to the doctor but Brett became frustrated at this and she put it down to being a bad virus that would go in a couple of days. It did – Brett was back at school on Friday and appeared much better but still anxious for some reason.  Her boy never talked about his issues and it haunted her now.  Was Brett not sick that week? Was it drugs? Is that why he was sick and then disappeared seemingly forever? Did he overdose at a dealer’s house and his body dumped in a ‘safe spot?’  These questions haunted Brett’s mother for another week until she died from a sudden aneurism. Talk about peaceful release from niggling questions.

John Castlestone eventually forgot how he and his two friends, as teenagers, had tortured this awkward boy called Brett Black. John followed in his father’s footsteps, running the family’s luxury car business. He married his childhood sweetheart, Jessica Stoltz, and they divorced after three years of him sleeping around. John remarried two years after this to Alice Turly with whom he had three healthy children.

Benjamin Danker went on to become a famous rugby league player for the Whitehood Wasps. After some controversial hotel incidents and avoiding charges of assault and battery, Danker’s worst almost-fall was when he became involved in a group orgy scandal with a female fan of The Wasps. Bouncing back from this and four years later retiring from the NRL, Benjamin invested his vast sums of cash into the Fruit and Vegetable business in Brisbane. Ben is still on top.

Keith Sunderland attempted to join the Australian Armed Forces, passed the physical but failed the psych test due to ‘appearing to want to enter the Army with unnecessary aggressive intentions.’  Keith became a bouncer in Fortitude Valley, until he decided to start his own security business, which failed.

 

L

 

John Castlestone was driving his own BMW down Whitehood’s school road and he passed his second high school from when he was an older teen.  The CD player in his car rang out the latest techno song with a basic beat and even simpler words. John checked himself out quickly in his rear vision mirror – ‘I still got it.’

 A dark figure came out from behind the bush on the side of the road and suddenly ran across into the path of his BMW.

‘Shit!’  John slammed on the brakes too late. He’d had a couple Jack Daniel’s before coming over to this part of town and for some stupid reason had risked drink-driving which was out of character for him. Why he was here, John didn’t know either. The front of the BMW knocked into the man who had tried to dash across the road.

John was going sixty kilometers and the man was thrown forward about three meters. After a few seconds, John could see a small dark stain of blood weeping out from the man’s dark clothes. His leg was the source of bleeding.

 ‘You idiot! What the hell were you thinking?’

 John got out and assessed the damage to his car. There was a superficial dent in the front but one of the headlights was also smashed. Angry now, he walked over to the injured pedestrian who was facedown and groaning. He seemed like he might have a broken leg or two at least. The man on the ground was either stunned or didn’t seem to care that he had been hit because he did one half push up and lifted and twisted until he was in a sitting position, facing away from John.

‘I’ll call the ambos and I’ll get your details. Insurance.’ He paused and started again. ‘What were you thinking man?’ John said, pissed and giving the guy a hard time. Best call them now – 0 - 0 - 0 – enter.  After he got off the phone to Ambulance Emergency, John walked closer to the accident victim.  The man turned his face to John as he sat on the bloodied bitumen, blood dribbling from his leg. The injured pedestrian’s face was badly grazed on the right side of his face but it was Keith Sunderland.

 ‘Keith! Sundy? What the hell are you doing here? Man I could’ve killed you. You have to stay down until the paramedics get here. Stay down man.’ John spoke as fast as he could until he worked out how he and his teenage friend had met here at this spot.  The man who looked exactly like Keith Sunderland had the thousand yard stare – ‘ I was running and trying to get away but he said I would never get aw-‘

‘Who were you running from Keith? Where is he? I’ve got a gun in the glove box. If he comes here I’ll kill the motherf-’

 

‘It’s SAD FACE! He found me. I thought he killed himself after that prank when we were kids man. I don’t know why I am here now. I came home from work for Sentinel Security at Three AM and walked into my living room to have a beer before bed. The power went out and suddenly he was standing there butt naked and covered in glowing tattooed frown faces man - from head to toe. When I got closer I saw his white teeth. They were the whitest teeth I had ever seen in my life. It was then that I realized – he was smiling man. Johnno, honest man…Sad Face was fucking smiling at me!”

‘Did he have a weapon Keith?’

‘No I saw that he didn’t so I took a left jab at him and punched him in the face. I then uppercut him and pushed him into my television set. Taking my chance, I ran to the kitchen to get my gun I use for security but when I turned around the mother was gone!”

‘ I ran outside with my gun and nightstick and took a quick glance outside left and right to see if he was running down the street but he wasn’t. I mean I’m now thinking – where is this freaky bastard? Okay he’s got to be in the house. I make the decision and lock the front door. I’m going to make sure this fucker never walks again.’

‘You have that ability, I’ll give you that, Sundy

‘But when I quickly walk into the next room, gun out and nightstick raised, I’m standing on a basketball court. I’m back at Whitehood State High’s friggin’ basketball court at night. Worst of all – Sad Face – is standing at the opposite end. And he starts talking to me.’

‘What does he say?’

‘Fucked if I know Johnno? Poetry or something – anyway I shoot the bastard before I get the chance to listen to this creep’s story. I mean what the hell is going on here?’

‘Keith I’m as lost as you. What happens after you shoot him on the court?’

‘Sad Face falls over backwards. I shot him clear in the chest twice and once in the head. Mozambique Drilled him but he keeps smiling. And he’s still talking. This bastard wont shut up.’

 ‘What does he say Keith? What does he say?’

 John knelt next to Keith’s mangled body in the centre of the road. The ambulance drove quickly around the corner and parked five meters away from the two men bathing in the street lamp’s light.

 ‘He was reciting poetry or lyrics’

One paramedic rushed over with his medical box and knelt to the left of Keith, checking him over with professional eyes and hands before his workmate could even get there. John looked over to the second paramedic that slowly came up on the opposite side, to inform him that John had been driving and was responsible for the accident. John’s and Keith’s faces both went white at the same time when the second paramedic looked at them with a cold, hard stare.

All across his features were tiny etches and grooves in the flesh of his face, like circles within circles , making a beautiful black tattoo continuing down and all over his arms as well. His eyes were brown and clear and there was no love, kindness or silence within them. Brett’s lips parted with a smile as he spoke.

 

‘He said-                              “In your dreams you live

                                               But in your life you die

                                         A world of continuing we give

                                          But within it, forever, you cry”’

L

John was covered in his own cold sweat of terror as he looked over to Alice sleeping in peaceful rest. His bladder was full and aching so he got up to go to the toilet. As he stood, his head throbbed from the alcohol still coursing through his veins and brain.

 ‘Damn drunk dreams. Gotta take a piss.’

After John had relieved himself and the cloud of sleep had cleared, he smirked about the whole thing.  He lay down on the King bed and the curve of Alice’s body underneath the thin bed sheet drew him away from fruitless, disturbing thoughts best left forgotten. John then slept.

L

John woke with a horrible headache at Eight Thirty AM when the doorbell rang  several times. Alice pretended to not be awake and so it was John who got up to answer. Putting on his black robe, John walked over through the house to the front door.  Outside, before he opened, John scanned one police officer waiting on the steps. He was sure that he recognized the officer’s face from his teenage years.  ‘Must be about the neighbor’s wild party last night. They probably had complaints about beer bottles breaking in the street or something,’ John thought as he opened the door.  His mind all of a sudden started working over time as he saw the cop properly. A hot yellow burst of bright morning light shot into his eyeballs as the sun continued dancing through another day.

 ‘Good morning sir. You are John Castlestone.’

‘That’s a statement. You sound very certain that I am John Castlestone. You have a familiar face but I can’t grasp a name from memory yet,’ John thought quickly to himself. Then he replied,

‘Yes that’s me, Officer. Sorry I didn’t get your name and what seems to be the problem?’

 ‘You look a lot older but I’m sure you are…’John tried to work it out in his head.

 ‘I didn’t give it yet. I’m Officer Tanner from Whitehood Police Station. We had a hit and run incident in the Whitehood area near the high school this morning at around Three Forty-Five AM and the victim died from multiple internal bleeding caused by the vehicular accident . A single eyewitness was able to identify your car’s registration number, make and model. Do you have your BMW here on these premises at the current time?’ 

What the fuck?!’ John’s head felt tighter. A burning sensation of hot guilt pressed on the back section of his brain.

 ‘Yes Officer – ah – Tanner. It’s locked up in my garage but it wasn’t out at all this morning. My wife can vouch for my whereabouts – we both went to bed at Midnight last night.’

John led him down to the garage. He couldn’t work out whether this was déjà vu or premonition. When he opened up the garage, the unveiling of truth spoke for itself.  There was a dent in the front of his bonnet and streaks of both dried, brown blood on the smashed headlight and underneath larger splashes of fresh blood. Officer Tanner’s face was blank when he saw this revelation.

‘Okay Officer Tanner. I understand the drill now. I don’t know what is happening but I want my lawyer as soon as possible and I refuse to say anything else,’ John raised his hands in resignation. Surely there will be a rational explanation to this when they investigate it further. Officer Tanner stood still, staring at John Castlestone for a few seconds and then began speaking.

 ‘You don’t remember me do you?’

 ‘No sorry. I mean I recognize your face. Did we go to school together?’, John continued searching through his mind.

 ‘My parents divorced when I was only seven so that’s probably why you don’t. Benjamin stayed with dad and I went with mum. It was both our parent’s decision as I got on with my mum much better than dad. He was an asshole,’ explained Officer Tanner.

‘You’re Christopher right?’ John finally clicked on to a name. Perhaps.

 ‘Close – my name’s Christian. Well with all the situations we went through as kids, I was seven and Benjamin was eighteen when mum and dad split up. But Benny, as I called him, was still my big brother and best friend. I know he had this reputation as a bully or whatever when he was younger but he always looks out for me.’ Tanner corrected himself – ‘ Benny always looked out for me.’

 ‘Why are you speaking in the past tense about Benno?’ John’s head was spinning.

 ‘Shut up you fucking liar! You don’t get to lie to my face about this. Listen to this story for the last time. As I was saying – He had this reputation as a bully but he cared for me.’  Christian pressed one solid index finger to his chest and started to become teary eyed.

 

‘Dad would hit me but Benny never hit me. Benny even stood in the middle one time when dad was going to come down on me hard with his fists. But dad was scared of Benny’s size so he didn’t lay a hand on him. Dad was a coward!  Benny and I always stayed in contact though and we become mates as adults. It’s only in the last four months that contact between us dwindled. Benny had started to become more and more withdrawn over something that was eating him. Saying he had trouble sleeping.’

‘Well while on early duty, I get a call this morning to drive over near Whitehood State High School to check out the area for a hit and run. The paramedics say that the call was from an unidentified source but it was still made from the area before the star eyewitness came forward. While I’m scanning the neighborhood,  stumbling  from where the basketball courts  used to be, out comes my brother onto the street. Benny walks over towards my car, bleeding from two bullet wounds in his lower chest and one graze shot in his head. I’m amazed and horrified that he’s still alive and also at this coincidence – I haven’t seen Benny for a couple months. I ask him to say what had happened and,  with amazing description, he says you phoned him up at a little after Midnight and asked him if he wanted to have a couple drinks for old times sake. He agreed.’

‘Later, when you picked him up and he got into your car, Keith Sunderland was also in your BMW. You and Keith had run into each other when you previously bought your Jack Daniel’s earlier in the night at the bottle shop next to the Hotel that Keith was doing security for. Benny said you were very drunk and had this weird, vacant stare in your eyes but he was already in your car when you pulled the gun on him. Benny and Keith both humored you and, to hopefully settle you down, suggested you all to go for a drive over to your old stomping ground. You seemed to relax at this but when you guys got to where the basketball court used to be, you rambled on about Benny and Keith carving circles and notches into your head and rubbing ink into the wound. Then you shot my brother in the chest and head. Keith freaked out and bolted. After Benny had told me the all this, he died two minutes later, looking towards me while he died, saying over and over – “I’m sorry Brett. Brett I’m sorry.” I don’t know who Brett is but I plan to find out.’

‘Sad Face,’ John whispered to himself and possibly, if he was listening, to his silent hunter.

John snapped back to Christian’s accusations but thought to himself – ‘Christian was telling me all this to see my reaction and then he will bring me in. It will be hard but Christian seems like an upstanding man of the law. All I have to do is avoid any appearance of threatening him. It is unusual for just one officer to visit a prime suspect’s house though – Oh shit! He came alone here and wanted me down in this garage for final affirmation and judgment. He’s not here to arrest me!’

Christian’s words now came clearer than a sermon over someone’s grave -‘Then I assume you sped in a mad rush out of the area and, fortunately for you, hit and killed Keith Sunderland. But my brother lived long enough to tell me that you are the piece of shit that shot him. Now you die asshole! I don’t care what they’ll do to me. I’ve thought about this all morning and now you die!’ Christian Tatter, previously known as Christian Danker, cocked his pistol and raised it in the firing position.

There were two parts of John struggling inside. His instinct for basic survival and the urge to run wrestled with the idea that he had taken Keith’s gun without his knowledge and shot Benny at Whitehood State High School. Keith had freaked and dumb luck helped them meet up again with John’s BMW hitting Keith hard enough to eventually kill him. What had compelled him to do such a horrible thing to his friends?

 He heard a chuckle inside his mind and felt a cold finger scrape inside his brain, ‘The same thing that compels you and your friends to torture and permanently mark an awkward lonely boy who never spoke or smiled because his father abused him over and over and over and over onwards from the day he was five years old.’

John was so distracted with working out if Sad Face’s voice inside him was real that he barely noticed the flash from Christian’s gun, the hole in the front of his head and the massive exit wound opening up the back of his skull like a beautiful red flower.

Now outside of his body, John was floating and looking down at his corpse on the floor with a hole in it’s head. Sad Face stood at the entrance of John’s garage, with a whole gang of dark creatures that looked like fallen angels, covered in black tattoos and sadistic expressions. Sad Face was no longer alone and today was just the beginning of John’s real torment.   END

 

 

"GOOD MORNING, BABE (HERE TODAY , GONE TOMORROW)"  was featured in

SNM Horror Magazine's December 2008 issue 2 of short horror stories.  Please go there to read

more great fiction when you have time -

 

 http://snmhorrormag.com

 

I would like to thank SNMHorrorMag for featuring my story and I dare anyone who

 enjoys reading creative online horror fiction to visit SNMHorrorMag late at night

...but be warned ... you wont risk sleeping until morning comes if you do. Enjoy!

                      

 

 

 

"I love you babe. I always have. If our life was any more perfect I think heaven would have to renovate to equal this."
 
"You rehearsed that didn't you? Buster sometimes you're smooth and other times I'm not too sure!"
 
"Yeah."
 
 "You know you're gonna have to kiss me before you get any more sappy with those words," Terri said

fake indignantly in her Texan accent while all the time smiling at the young blond man she sat with on the

crisp red and white checkered picnic cloth. The lake ripples gently collided with each other and the fresh

green lawn was buzzing with life. They both enjoyed this park.  Darren threw their leftover sandwiches into

 the lake, making several black ducks frantically bob up and down for an early dinner. Their simple animal

instincts of survival kicked in as they jostled and quacked for more bread pieces. Finally crumbs.
 
The golden light of the afternoon danced gently on Darren and Terri's youthful faces, creating a glint off of

her wedding ring band as she used her left hand to sweep away a wilful fly. It was five in the afternoon and

the young married couple had spent the second half of their Saturday gladly lazing with each other in the

shade of the vast park. In the far distance you could faintly hear children playing on the playground equipment

 with simple joy. Crumb covered plates and half empty wine glasses clinked into each other as she pulled him

closer to her in a soft embrace, a continuing of the achingly delicious ritual of foreplay. The wine they had

drunk made her feel light, free and comfortably numb. As Terri and Darren explored each others mouths with

 hungry tongues, the displaced ants and bugs under the picnic blanket struggled for life, awaiting their moment

of scavenging and feeding when the humans left. We live in multiple realms of awareness, oblivious and

unconcerned towards the many layers of existence while on this singular world that we co-habit. There are

secrets we don't know. Some never will see the light of day. Others just will pass us by, blissfully.  Life is a

collision course of innocence and experience constantly slamming into each other.
 
Darren kissed Terri gently on her soft full lips while simultaneously holding the side of her smooth neck. He

was country handsome with a gentle strength she had always adored. They had made cautious love here in

this same exact spot years ago when they were both self-conscious teenage neighbours, sneaking away from

 her father's house that smelled of stale beer, hidden bruises and disgusting moments behind closed doors.

Darren also had had a rough time with his own mum and dad but there was no youngster angst story that would

even attempt to compete with Terri's years of being violently sexually abused since her twelfth birthday.
 
 Her mum, Janet, had sadly died at childbirth and Terri's father, Ben Vernon, was a pig of a man who eventually

 replaced the lingering passion for his dead wife with his only and early maturing daughter. After the dark time of

 stink breath, heavy breathing and young flesh stretching, Terri wondered if there was a God. After the time of

tearing and bleeding, that came on a night mixed with booze, boredom and lust, young Terri cried herself to sleep,

 angry for internally praying for deliverance during the ordeal. Deliverance never came! But the tears and sobs did.

 Her dad's slurred threats down the hall stopped her realising her agony too loudly on the first dark night. 
 
               "Shut up -- you fucccckkin'---- liiitttttllle ---- bitch !!! Do I have to come back for seconds? Go---

 taaaa fuckin'-- sleeeep. Shoulda died with yer no good mother!"
 
It wasn't beyond this out - of - work plumber to send his tiny, quiet daughter bleeding to school on the bus. Terri's

 dad later smoothly explained to a concerned teacher during a lunch time call that she had merely forgotten to wear

the proper hygiene items. Said that she was just getting her period. Terri had stopped being a child for all the wrong

reasons years before this incident. The dark year was 1963 and that hidden crime amazingly drifted through Terri's

teenage years without police or community attention.
 
"This is just a secret between you and Daddy. You love your Daddy don't you?"
 
          -
 
"Don't you?"
 
"Yes Daddy."
 
"Well say it."
 
"I love you Daddy."
 
 
Those days were, thank God, now a happily fading memory of shit.
 
 Darren lent in again to kiss Terri. She was beautiful as ever with deep brown eyes and chocolate hair flowing to

the middle of her petite shoulders. The curve of her hips and ass drove him wild. He had never seen a more

 beautiful twenty five year old and even if he had it wouldn't matter. Her heart was so gentle, honest and kind he

would give anything to Terri. From her side, it had taken a long time to trust any one let alone a guy. She ached

for the right type of sexual touch from Darren. Every moment they made love was like wiping out the horrible

years and taking back what her fucker of a so called father stole from her. Her choice - Her heart.  In her mind,

Terri was slowly replacing putrid green slime with fresh clean water.
 
 
The day her rapist dad died was also when both their lives started to get back on track. It happened the night

before Terri's High School prom. Ben had been drunk in his worn lounge chair and it was like the angel of death

 just gently swooped down and sank into Ben's mind taking him away to the land of torment. He was found brain

 dead and in a coma with no outside signs of foul play. He simply just mentally died leaving his flesh behind.

Wonderful day that one.
 
 
"Let's check out the gardens babe. Have you finished eating?"
 
"Yeah I think you're gonna have to carry me. I'm too full from the picnic." Darren joked to her. He enjoyed the

 innocent sarcasm between them. They talked about everything and then some.
 
"Well your appetite is much better than your wit, smart alec. We'll pack up and see the flowers before it's too

 dark – I'll make it worth your while," Terri smiled with a wink.
 
They went for a walk after Darren excitedly shot up and packed up all the plates and cups into the basket,

quickly crumpling the blanket in because of Terri's strong verbal incentive. The roses were especially beautiful

 he remembered, trying to at least think about something else to avoid getting an embarrassingly obvious

hard-on while journeying around with his wife. They walked along the path until it came to an enclosed section

 of garden that was a memorable feature in the park. In the centre, there stood a well crafted grey stone statue

 of a generic Greek hero. Terri couldn't work out which one the artist had tried to portray. Hercules? She

swung the picnic basket around like a school girl and not the high school teacher that she was. The flowers'

colors spiralled around the grey sentinel in a flood of reds, whites, purples and oranges filling their eyes. After

 standing in awe for about five minutes, they started to walk towards the exit from the park. On their way they

 continued speaking lovely dirty words to each other, deciding to have some modesty and leaving the risk

taking for another day. Anyway the place was a little too busy today for such arrest-worthy antics.
 
 Darren sleazily whispered into Terri's ear as they walked.
 
"Big words, mister. Let's head back to the house to finish what you started." Terri finalised, giving him a loving

backhand. A giggle erupted from the flushing woman.
 
She turned around towards the direction their car was parked and continued talking.
"I'll even kiss you all over this time and I mean all over. What do you think?"
 
Silence.
 
"Darren?"
 
The sky suddenly went darker as if they were inside a mansion and the sun was controlled by a dimming

 switch but this was open sky. The light appeared to concentrate back into one spot behind her like a search

 light. A distant clock bell rang out six times over the park's trees and a strong wind picked up sending green

leaves flying to one side with the escaping sparrows joining in the movement, flying in the local church's direction.
 
"Darren?" She queried again while turning around, hair blowing into her face. Darren was gone. Terri walked

around the bend back to the flower garden. Her pulse started to race now through fear instead of desire as she

started wondering what was going on.  Somehow, this time, the garden was filled with deathly silence.

The bird's songs had left the scene and even the distant children's laughter had gone.
 
It was a beautiful garden but in the midst he stood there, covered in bloody thorns where just moment a stone

statue stood. Eyes glistening through the pain and squinting in the solid harsh light, the man she loved mouthed a

 silent scream. His nakedness ripped open as another eager thorn burst out, splitting his manhood down the middle.

 The sharp dry thorns continued to grow from this feeble flesh. The scene was reminiscent of one created by a

 painter of the Renaissance. A masterpiece of beauty and death and all observed.
 
"You wanted this. Still want this?"
 
"What's going on?"
 
The blood flowed freely from these hideous sprouts but then suddenly the bleeding solidified and stopped. The

blood drops crystallized quickly and shattered, flower buds coming forth. Fragile roses blossomed from these

crystals, spreading out in front of him, hiding the victim.
 
"Now I am!"
 
 
"Jesus, this isn't happening! Darren, what the hell happened? What the fuck is going on?!!" Terri said through

gritted teeth, forcing herself to stare at the subject in the  spotlight. Her Darren. Fear fixed her to where she stood.

 Her own scream floated up from her lungs to her mouth as if it wasn't her own and the world seemed to sway left

 and right like on a small ship in a storm.
 
"Do you want to come with me? Be like I am? It's beautiful Terri. Everything you ever wanted."
 
"No. God NO! God help me!"
 
The fertile ground of flesh was now no more a ghastly horror but a mere foundation of nutrients. A full vibrant

rosebush was now where the man she loved once stood. The viewer fixated on this point of action, this central

tragedy and glory. No other flowers compared to the elegance as the sun above somehow dipped lower like a

sparkling crystal chandelier. Terri stared at the sight. She knew her love was gone but the numbing beauty of the

 instant creation overtook her like a wonderful opium mist. Inside each flower was mankind's absolute magnificence

 and horror. The emotions she felt could not be described as they were all emotions at once – fear, hate, love, lust,

 hope and ones without names.  Was this a small glimpse of what it was like when the words, "Let there be light"

 left the lips of God?  But surely this present creation was from both Heaven and Hell! 
 
"Deepest red, you are all there is now. Now I know loss and gain all in one," Terri sobbed.
 
"But I still think. I can't speak yet you hear me," the voice from the rosebush spoke in her mind.
 
"I love you."
 
"I love you too. I always have. If our life was any more perfect I think heaven would have to renovate to equal this."

 A laugh tinged with an unfathomable sadness rang out from the rosebush and then what used to be Darren spoke no more.
 The repeated words echoed. Terri barely noticed the black shadows around the garden that closed in on all sides like thick ink.

 The circle of light continued to shrink to a pinpoint in a starless space. Full darkness.
 
                                                                               *
 
Terri woke up with a shudder. It was the jolt everyone experiences at least once in their life. Unfortunately for her it was every

 morning. The sensation of a figure jumping quickly out of view just before you glimpse it out of the corner of your eye. The

snap back to consciousness from the relaxed state of sleep. We all desire a fresh small dose of epiphany early in the morning

 where anything is possible, especially to a young idealist.
 
This was the flipside to all that. Terri's trauma crash to earth and subconscious memory of being born hit hard and then quickly

 melted away in the pink light of morning. That world of vibrant hyper real vaporized as soon as dawn came and time again

became a factor. Her room was painted soft pink with yellow flowers in a straight line pattern. Her favourite dolls were lined

in left to right order of favourite to least favourite. Terri heard the fridge door open in the room down the hall and the soft hiss

 of carbonated gas escaping and a beer bottle cap hitting an unvarnished wooden floor. She looked out her small window to

across the field. There it was, a single rose bush all tattered and dry and dying. No roses grew on it and the thorns made up for this.
.
One solitary tear dropped into her lap as she slowly looked into her heart shaped mirror at a little brown eyed girl who dreamed

of being far away from here. The ants beneath her feet crawled over to a single biscuit crumb on the twelve year old's floor and

 relished in the feeding. They struggled for life, awaiting their moment.

 

 

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Valentine's Kiss

 

"John, I want to ask you a question and please don't laugh."

 

"What is it, Jessica?"

 

The scene was set in this little coffee shop on the corner of Barker and King Street.  A passerby would have taken a second swift glance at this odd couple for the very fact that opposites statistically don't really attract when it comes down to looks. John was the very visual expression of Hollywood - tall, dark brown hair, smooth tanned body with a lean muscular build. John's face was clearly like an undiscovered work of Michelangelo but only if the famous artist was magically capable of shaping flesh and bone to make a masterpiece.

 

If John was shining light, Jessica was the shadow. Fat, short, bad skin and insecure, her lack of confidence was an extra reason for men not to take an interest. Although she never let it slip, even to her unlikely friend, Jessica was a virgin. She asked the question with an air of casualness, "John, will you be my valentine?" there was an unsettled pause and then after it, a burst of dialogue shot out from her mouth. It obviously had been held back from being sprung into the atmosphere for ages.

 

"The truth is that I love you, John. I would love to be more than friends."

 

She pulled a red rose from under the table and handed it to him. They had known each other since they were kids and as children they were visually equal - just freckled grubby faced kids who liked bikes and fishing. But as time passed by, the rage and gift of puberty came upon Jessica and John respectively. John remained a friend throughout the quick casual relationships he had with beautiful, shallow girls. He was deeper and had more character than to merely settle for a vacuous trophy yet he was also a fussy man. John in his heart wanted a beautiful woman who was also his equal intellectually.

 

"Jessica...um...that's really nice but we can only ever be friends. I look at you like a sister. I hope you understand."

 

"Okay John. I understand." Tears welled up but refused to fall from her blue eyes. Jessica knew this rare act of boldness most likely wouldn't have paid off but she had to find out, even if it killed her.

 

For five years, since she was fifteen, Jessica had gradually fallen in love with him. This was her secret hidden from the world and especially from him. She had dreamt the same erotic dream almost every night for the last six months. In it she would declare her feelings to him in this coffee shop that was a familiar stop for them and here he would reciprocate her love. John would say things to her about undying love and how beautiful she looked to him. In her fantasies that had consumed her nights and haunted her lonely days, the two would consummate their love for each other in the very bed Jessica dreamt in. Alas this moment did not create an experience of déjà vu` and at this branch in time reality and fantasy went their separate ways. Nervously, John paid for the coffee of both, tipped the bubbly café lady and finally said a platonic goodbye to the eternal ugly duckling.

 

Jessica remained there for half an hour after he had awkwardly left her here. Her gaze slowly moved back and forth from two vantage points in this time – from the unwanted single rose left behind on the varnished table and then to her distorted reflection in the cafe shop window. Behind, coming from the quiet street, Jessica heard a low roar like distant thunder. The following tremor moved at a tremendous speed until it felt like it was almost inside of her and the assembling words seemed to stretch out forever.

 

"You want him? You can have him."

 

She turned around to marry a face to the strange words. No one was there but a clutter of leaves blew up the street towards her on an icy breeze, urging her to leave before it got too cold. She thought her lips and face felt numb as the weak sun died and sank into the horizon.

 

                                                     

*     *     *

 

Further down, in another suburb, John sat in the full bar, drinking the start of the night away.  Several empty beer bottles circled around his position here in his other regular social spot. This was his present and the café, so to speak, was his past. This was where he met new fresh people and the gorgeous women around here at LeMarch's Hotel. John felt bad for Jessica to hurt her like this but damn it she had done it to herself. His thoughts weren't left too long to linger on guilt as a delicate feminine hand gently touched his shoulder. He heard the words before he saw the face. Like music they drifted away from the unseen speaker's mouth and eased into his ears. It was soothing all round.

 

 

"Would you like to share your sorrow with me?"

 

"Yes but if I also share the amount I plan to drink, you may be in trouble", John answered without looking.

 

"I'll risk it. You seem worth the danger."

 

"Thanks."

 

She came into view as the hand left his shoulder and she confidently sat on the bar stool next to him. Throughout his years, John had seen his fair share of beautiful women. What he saw in front of him was much more. This was a religious experience as now he truly believed he was in the presence of an angel. His new self imposed drinking friend had glowing blue-green eyes that were an oasis you could fall into, never to escape. Her slightly tanned skin was so smooth it made his look like sandpaper in comparison. They sat and laughed and talked the talk that gets one into bed. And so the time came that happened so often for John. When the time was right, they stole away from the gathering like thieves and happily walked with each other to his apartment down the road.

 

Feeling suddenly sober and potent, John easily slid his apartment key into the oiled lock,  showing promise to her that he would be deft also in more carnal matters. As soon as they were inside, mouths and cloth covered groins re-united. His angel quickly, silently, dropped to her knees and unzipped his jeans, pulling out his growing length that then continued to grow inside her wet mouth. John quivered from the warm sensation that wrapped around his manhood and with each stroke, his senses faded into one hard point in his body. He had no inclination to say anything and hated to even think of killing the mood. This was too good. He slid her blue dress halfway down as she continued to pleasantly devour him.

 

Her erect nipples and soft pert globes of flesh swayed with her action and John couldn't take this anymore. He dropped to the floor with her and pulled the rest of her dress down and away from her feet. With one swift move, John pulled her black laced underwear to the side and slid inside of her. Drunk with her wetness, protection was the last thing on his mind.

 

He thought to himself, "You feel so good. So good and I don't even know your name. Are you real?"

 

The minutes of their union came in waves of ecstasy and the build up was fantastic. All of a sudden, a jolt of electricity went through his body as he gave one final thrust and as reason trickled back to his senses, John looked into his lover's eyes. Their combined sweat pooled in her lower parts and she smiled at him as her eyes flickered. They seemed to melt from an ocean of blue-green into the deepest black. Her shark teeth with rows echoing behind the hard, white triangles glistened in the light of his bedroom. A look of horror spread across his face on a primal level and he marvelled at this flash of the unreal.

 

"You want to know my name?" the morphing figure beneath whispered in a snake’s hiss.

 

"God help me!"

 

Her calm voice was more terrifying than if she had  violently screamed and tore out his eyes. She owned him in all that he was with those eyes and he sat atop of her, frozen like a feeble animal in high beam.

 

"What we did has nothing to do with the Unmentionable One. Don't get religion now! You lie with a succubus and you forfeit any claim of salvation. Don't add insult to injury with mentioning His name in my presence!"

 

Her shapely form softened further and he felt like he was sinking into a quicksand of flesh. Still the pleading cry asking God to save him continued. There was no answer from above. The only sounds he did hear were those coming from her skin and bones beneath him slowly opening up like a python's disjointed mouth. They cracked open and stretched over his rigid fear filled body until his form stood out from inside her.

 

"If you need to know...it's Baleal. Jessica summoned me with her spoken curse towards you and her blood that dripped from the rope she used to hang herself. The body I am now in is insignificant. Jessica is here inside as well. We are all in here."

 

John screamed a final muffled scream from within the writhing corpse.

The mixed form sunk into the floor boards and darkened into the corner of the room. A single red rose lay in the centre of the vacant room as a whisper echoed into this plane of existence and then moved onto the other. This final sentence drifted like a mote of dust in a tiny spiral and then settled for good.

 

"Be my Valentine, John."

 

 

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

 

“The Plagiarist” sample. The full short story will be up here soon…

 

The small wiry man went from aisle to aisle, carefully checking over his shopping list and picking out each item with a sense of reverence about him. While standing in the electrical section, the fluorescent light above him flickered, irritating his sensitive eyes. A shitty Madonna song belted out from the cream-coloured shopping centre ceiling’s speakers and Clive Barnham could hardly wait to be finished with the required trip here.

 

He bent down to the lowest shelf and moved his skinny right hand towards the black duct tape. Due to finding this final item, he pulled out a small pencil and cleanly drew a line through the words “d tape x 5” on the bottom of his neat piece of paper. Hesitating for a second and biting his lip, he finally put eight rolls into his red plastic carry basket.

 

Walking past the wood laminate-covered television that had Ronald Reagan doing a silent press conference due to the volume being right down, Clive went to the ‘ten items or less’ checkout.  At the checkout, the large blonde teen made the usual saccharine banter.

 

“How are you today sir?”

 

“Fine.”

 

“Doing a bit of handy work?” the heavy girl giggled stupidly.

 

“Um…You never can buy too much of the necessary items I say,” the balding man awkwardly mumbled, more to himself than the blonde. He looked her over while she scanned the small items. Fat heavy breasts hid under the standard white blouse and came together as she lifted the bags over the rail. Her soft arms probably had small white spiderwebs of stretchmarks all over. She didn’t have what it took for Clive’s creative process – too much like cattle. He was looking for a canvas that was more delicate in texture.  

 

After paying and grabbing the two white plastic bags, Clive slowly walked out through the automatic doors facing the heat of the day.  He stopped for a second to put on his brown sunglasses and adjust to the harsh Australian glare. He’d travelled from Brisbane to buy a small house up the Sunshine Coast, somewhere isolated he could work. Getting into his white Mazda 626, Clive exited the carpark and turned onto the road towards the Bruce highway.

 

He whistled for a minute and when he had run out of any recognisable tune, turned the radio on. “Psycho Killer” blared out into the interior of his car. He groaned and turned the dial, the red needle whizzing away from Talking Heads over to a classic FM station. A song by Schubert was playing, orchestra lifting and diving.

 

 

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

   Silent Witness

She comes on shift at Ipswich Public Hospital at midnight, quietly, like a delicate cat.

You could almost blink and miss her as a non-entity, a ghost, which is strange because the young nurse is attractive.

Andrea Seer really is a one-of-a-kind. Most of the other nurses here at the hospital eventually physically fill out into their roles as caregivers. I myself blame it on the regular snacking of the vending machine food, one of the only close supplies of energy at this time of night apart from the ritual of coffee and sugar that accompanies regular care work. Perhaps it’s also because all the other nurses are either married with kids or on the way towards being so.

Not Andrea.

Beautiful as she is, she remains a workaholic. She sleeps throughout the day and remains closed overall to any curious single men working at the hospital. There are many things I would ask Andrea. Why are you still single? How do you keep such a lithe figure while working as a nurse, coming in warm, smiling and glowing amongst the others who always appear slightly tired and obviously bored with their lives of drudgery? How can you, especially YOU, keep that smile on your face after bashing a middle aged man’s head in with a hammer?  I would ask this if I could talk.

If I could talk, I would tell Andrea that I’m aware. I’m not just a sack of meat and bones on life-support , without pain or fear. I am in a vegetable state yet somehow I am fully awake – don’t ask me how.

Damn it…I wish my mind was dead with the rest of my wasted body! I hear every fucking word you say. When you settle down for fifteen minutes and pretend to be attempting to connect with me. You don’t care if you connect, you just need a body to brag to. Someone who never will be able to contact the police and finger you as the one they want. Someone who somewhere within knows your hidden horrors. Is it a sick joke? Why do you care for the most helpless and unfortunate here in the intensive care ward after midnight yet murder prior to coming to work? Is this your pleasure – to taunt and torture my conscience and your actual work is as the “Beast of Ipswich”, as the local papers name you?

Andrea the Nurse is just a mask you wear to experience your concept of atonement. It would actually only be atonement if you stopped the killings. But you can’t now can you? You felt sick in the stomach that first time when you premeditated it down to the latex gloves and blunt tools. You knew to stay away from hospital tools like scalpels and syringes filled with poison – clever girl. The first time, when you stopped being just one of the hunted masses as you call us, terrified you and you had to relive it  through telling me – your silent witness – over and over again.

Eventually you get a routine for your pre-midnight activities. You’re no longer stumbling in the dark and awkwardly killing them just as they emit a half-gasp but now you’ve actually become quite skilled at murder.

You wake at 7pm, as the sun sinks behind Ipswich’s taller buildings, hungry and stomach growling. You are patient. You don’t feed yet and you use it to keep yourself sharp and determined. Then you tell me the outcomes, like an old friend retelling the team plays of an important football game. You  flirt with the dirty men at the various bars and when you offer to go home with one, he waddles off with you, a vixen trophy in the clutches of a victorious drunkard.

You chose the violent ones, scanning during the baiting for ones with scars on their knuckles and tell-tale wounds on elbows. You are drawn to conversation that most women would be disgusted with, chatter about how chicks are sluts and only worth a fuck. You look into your victims eyes and know their soul. Their filth.

But you do not see how much I judge you for these crimes. On the outside, my eyes are fixed, calm pools of water. To you and everyone else I am unseeing, unhearing, unfeeling.

How wrong you all are. How I would scream at you like a hound from hell, “Murderer! Murderer!”

You’ve never been caught because you changed your demographic and I know that all this isn’t just a grand lie by one lonely nurse. The trophies you bring to the hospital solidify in my mind that this isn’t just a nightmare. The dried fingers  and wedding rings of the men. Photographs of the ghastly horrors you commit out in the bush – my you must be quick and precise with your blade, Andrea. Most these men could crush you if only they knew your game but like dumb bulls they fall into the blade of an alluring matador.

There’s so much blood in the photographs and yet you come and sponge bath sleepless sick patients, with them smelling of vomit and you of ambrosia. Never once have I detected the raw metal smell of fresh victims. I must say though, what a place to hide any damning smell amongst wafts of bleach and disinfectant!

The night you showed me that you’d moved onto more innocent victims tore what’s left of my heart out, Andrea.  Miss Seer, you are clearly insane. While there was a mere tinge of retribution in you slicing up child abusers, rapists, cheaters and women beaters, moving onto children and babies was a low, Andrea. I don’t know how you stole them away at night from their parents’ houses, but how more cruel to now show me their videotaped torture on your new mobile phone. You only involve me in this documentary of pain, in the small hours with the volume down. You whisper in my ear, after I witness the bloodbath, that children and babies squeal just like stuck farm pigs. “Funny”, you say, “that they also taste like soft, slow-cooked pork. Young long pork” you call it.

I hate you Andrea! You are a fucking cruel bitch who haunts these sterile halls like an angel of mercy yet your heart is black and empty. Eventually my fury dies down towards you and my mind grows tired. When my eyes remain wide and the dawn comes into view, those words come again to me from your full blood-red lips, “I’ll have more stories to tell you tomorrow, Dad.”

So you’ll whisper again in my ears at 2:30am tomorrow morning about what you did earlier in the night. The cruelest thing you do is take lives that still have potential and yet you fucking spare me day-in and day-out to rot here until I die, with the knowledge of murder on my mind. I only touched you once when you were a little girl, Andrea…why did you have to put me in a coma and then keep me on life-support? You always were an over-achiever.