Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Quoting Aristotle

Δεν μεγάλο μυαλό έχει υπάρξει ποτέ χωρίς μια δόση τρέλας.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Predilection, Bias, and Eschewal

I came upon a graphic on Facebook the other day. It reads:

The world is filled with people who, no matter what you do, will point blank not like you. But it is also filled with those who will love you fiercely. They are your people. You are not for everyone and that’s OK. Talk to the people who can hear you.

Don’t waste your precious time and gifts trying to convince them of your value, they won’t ever want what you’re selling. Don’t convince them to walk alongside you. You’ll be wasting both your time and theirs and will likely inflict unnecessary wounds, which will take precious time to heal. You are not for them and they are not for you; politely wave them on, and continue along your way. Sharing your path with someone is a sacred gift; don’t cheapen this gift by rolling yours in the wrong direction.

Keep facing your true north.

The words are not mine, but do express a sentiment that I’ve been feeling for quite some time. What I give and share is not for everyone. Not everyone seems to enjoy what I have to offer. To that end, I have decided to take a hiatus of sorts. I’ve been hemming and hawing about this for some time and have decided that today is a natural breaking point.

I know that there may be a few people who say that they’ll miss what I have to say and miss the work that I put out here on this blog. I know that there are quite a few more who call me friend and family who have never even given thought about the words I put out. There are still a great deal more who do not count me in their spheres.

My firm belief is that those who count me as friend or family should support my endeavors and help me reach my dreamy goals. It matters to me so, in turn, it should matter to them. I should not have to have to endure the excuses that have been put to me in the past. I should not have to keep holding the feelings of inadequacy and failure that these off-hand ‘jokes’ have caused.

This also is why I have decided to take a break. I need to regroup and work on thickening my skin to the realization that few actually care about what’s important to me or my success. I feel betrayed by many because they do not see my worth or value. In turn, I realize that I have been following that logic instead of appreciating what is inside of me rather than what is seen (or not seen in this case) within myself by others.

I suppose many others like me have had similar feelings and pushed through with assistance from their tribe. The tribe has consoled and provided equal parts compassion and expectation to their artist. My tribe is small, scattered, and have their own lives in their own parts of the world.

No, none of them are in my meatspace locality.

Oddly, those that should be in my tribe are not. They cannot seem to understand that I need their support. They are only aware of the spaces they occupy and my little corner of cyberspace is inconsequential. My visions in dreamspace is invisible. My work, to them, is inconsequential.

I don’t like the way that makes me feel. It taints everything I do. I need to regroup and retask my energy into creating what I need. Should you need to contact me, it is best to email me as I do not know whether or not my social interactions on the various media outlets will last for very much longer or in the capacity that I have used them.


Monday, October 31, 2016

Doors Closing

Said plainly, it is fruitless when I share.
Work goes in and yet there is no response.
It lives in a void to die a slow death
Because it is hard to see a soul bare.

No one wants to actually read now.
Too few can handle the ugliness there
That is laying between a few letters.

Time for an ‘Elevator Pitch’ affair
I have to be quick to trick or ensconce
The attention need to give life’s breath.
Now it is all electronic warfare.

The Profane Brigade

A story in parts by: @black_canary02 and @entrebat:

Fog of cool color. Hovering blue mist covers. Hides as it reveals.  
  Gun smoke rises now revealing the battlefield. The dead have blank stares.
Shambling readiness awaiting the loud horn-call. Jaws slack. Need to feed.  
  Uniformed bodies once festooned in blue or grey crave the taste of red.
Past Appomattox. Tattered uniforms dodder. March no longer heard.  
  Generals knew not how the dead rose up to fight. Calling for men's flesh
What call do they hear? All awareness is hunger. Gnawing ache to feed.  
  Gabriel's trumpet sounding off in righteous blasts. United, they feast
Flesh torn from live limbs. Screams and sounds of gluttony rends metal-tinged air  
  Seals undone, broken. Angels no longer weeping. Reapers fear to tread.
With a great rumble the earth is ripped asunder. Warriors called home.  
  Blood calls out to blood. The valley burns in decent. Ash floats on the wind
Falling in the rift, spine-chilling cries fill the air. Quickly extinguished  
  The howls of death fade. Once again, the living breathe. Their path ever clear.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Halloween Knight

The push broom made an awkward noise when the rhythm was applied to it. The swish-thump, swish-thump, swish-thump echoed against the halls as it gathered the dust that settled on the linoleum tiles. It was just another day. Nothing much changed in the LBI Coffin Hotel. There were always the floors to sweep and tubes to clean. The showers were another story. They had to be disinfected with a super-duty cleaner that killed every virus or bacteria known to man, metahuman, or dragon. Franco smiled slightly at the thought of all of the people pulling together for a toilet cleaner. But it had to be done. The travelers and commuters really didn’t like the idea of catching some kind of STD from the crapper. Franco pondered the floor again. There were only two more floors to go until his shift at the front desk.

Somewhere on the second floor is where Franco had found a little puzzle box. The thing was just sitting in one of the tubes that was rented last night by a Mr. Johnson. Like they all weren’t rented by Johnson’s every now and again. The Ork smiled to himself letting his tusks fully show. It was one of his favorite facial expressions. It really drove the norms mad when he did it. Franco liked to think it was ‘tusk envy.’ If Freud had been alive now, he’d have a whole hell of a lot to work with besides his Id, Ego, and Superego. But what did Franco know, he was the janitor?

The little cube had etchings all over it. He didn’t know how it worked. There were no switches or jacks on it at all; just the etched bronze metal that lined all six sides of it. The light danced along the sides of the metal surface. There were no input leads or anything like that on it. The little box puzzled Franco. It looked like a puzzle cube he’d heard of. It was the height of envy nearly 75 years ago. The things were running about 5000 nuyen in good condition and about double that in mint. But the little box didn’t look like a normal Rubik’s cube. All the angles for movement were wrong; and this one was made of bronze and steel rather than the standard plastic.

The cube didn’t have the little colored stickers either. The lines were just a bunch of etched designs. Triangles, stars, rhomboids were plastered all over the thing. The normal Rubik’s cube was just a bunch of squares. His grandfather had one when he was smaller. He smiled warmly remembering the fascination that his grandfather looked on as Franco kept solving the puzzling cube in less than two minutes. Franco thought that he might have to call one of his collector friends to get it appraised. He’d have time to ponder the thing later. There were still more tubes to clean.

The sound of boot steps coming from the stairwell told Franco that he was about to have company. He continued on with the rhythm of the push broom. The sounds mingled together as if they were married to the same source. Swish-thump, click-clack, swish-thump, click-clack, the sound repeated another dozen times before the foot falls stopped. Franco turned expecting to see they poor slob unloading gear into one of the tubes he had just cleaned. The Elf standing behind him kind of smiled oddly.

“Good afternoon,” he spoke softly. The condescending tone came through very well. Franco eyed him up and down. Black silver-toed boots stuck out from blue denim cinching at the Elf’s waist. A puffy white silk shirt covered the Elf’s torso. Wrapping up the ensemble was a burgundy long coat with buttons on the lapel. The package was complete when he got to the Elf’s head. Bright red hair was pulled back into a loose ponytail with a small braid of the licorice colored hair braided down the left side of the Elf’s face. White face paint was caked onto the confines of the Elf’s face. The guy looked like a clown without a circus. Then Franco remembered - it’s Halloween.

“And what? Trick or treat?” Franco blurted to the Elf, holding the push broom in his good hand and ready to act if necessary.

The Elf’s hollow smile widened. “Yes,” he chuckled, “Tricks and treats. I had almost forgotten about this day.” His eyes danced around the corridor; “Of course it is up to you which one you receive.”

“Look Chum, I don’t know why yer here, but you might want to start explaining yourself before I hafta bust open yer head.” Franco drove his finger into the Elf’s chest emphasizing his words.

The gleeful glimmer in the Elf’s eyes turned hard. “So, this is the choice that you make,” the Elf started, “Some associates of mine seem to have - misplaced a very important item and I was wondering if you had seen it anywhere?” the Elf leaned up against the wall. He was too comfortable, too cocky. Franco thought about cracking his emergency card to call LoneStar.

“Look here pal,” Franco motioned for the Elf to follow him towards one of the open tubes. “You see this here sticker? ‘Light Bearer Industries bears no responsibility for lost or misplaced items left after your stay.’ Do you understand that?” Franco asked plainly. The Elf let out a laugh like no other Franco had heard. It was a full belly roll laugh that had the Elf holding his stomach. Had he not been leaning against the wall, he would have surely doubled over and fallen to the floor. He caught the Ork’s blatant stare and held up on hand as if to ask, ‘just a moment, please.’

“Oh, now that’s a good one!” The Elf announced. “What next, ‘Knights of the Crimson Spire’ action figures? Oh how the mighty have fallen,” he continued, Franco thought he might smear his face paint with the tears. “would that our Order had heard that one.”

“Look, I dunno what your chipped on pal, but I don’t want no trouble here.” Franco explained to the nearly hysterical Elf. “You have about five seconds to leave before I crack the card to get the Star out here.”

“There’s no need for that,” the Elf said, finally recouping from the laughter. “I’ll be going. Here’s my card if you find the item I’m looking for.”

Slender hands reached inside of one of the pockets. Franco immediately moved his hand to the badge that he wore. The LoneStar security card was attached to the lanyard that held his badge for LBI. The Elf produced a card and with a flick of his wrist, sent it sailing towards Franco. The Ork caught the card and examined it. There was a stylish ‘H’ on one side of it and what looked like a jester on the other side. It looked like a playing card, but the dimensions were the right size of a business card. Fragging loony! What was he supposed to do with this card? There was no LTG number, no matrix mailbox, nothing!

“And just how am I supposed to get in touch with you?” he asked. Silence answered him. Franco looked up and the question just hung there. The Elf was gone without a trace. “Fragging wonderful!” Franco seethed through his clenched teeth. “Happy Halloween.”

Franco finished up the sweeping without another incident and headed down to the booth with the armored plexiglass that LBI Coffin Hotel used to check in the ‘guests’. The young guy who he relieved was already itching to get out. The disheveled hair and crumpled T-shirt told Franco that he didn’t do his laundry again. Spike was a good kid, but not responsible. Franco didn’t know why he was hired. He was just another warm body behind the glass to make sure pre-deceased ‘guests’ didn’t check into the hotel. That’s about all he was good for anyway. It happened, but not often this close to the corporate buildings.

“Heya Franco!” he beamed. “I was wondering if I could bolt early,” Spike began to explain, “ya see there’s this party down in Redmond that’s having a live band and an honest to God fortune teller.” Spike pleaded with all of his soul. Franco shook his head. Kids, he thought, always looking for the thrill in life - no wonder the trid was full of shadowrunners. ‘Longshot and Raptor - Runners for Hire’ was one of the most popular shows on ‘Must see Wednesday.’

“How did I know this was coming?” Franco asked rhetorically.

“Well?” Spike asked, impatiently.

“Yeah, get outta here.” Franco smiled his special smile at the teenager.

“Dude, put those things away,” he chided Franco, “You’re gonna damage somebody with those things.” Spike grinned.

“Yeah, but the ladies love ‘em!” Franco winked at him. “Oh and I found something up there in the tubes. Take it to your party; let the fortuneteller have a look-see at it. Let me know what the results are.” Franco tossed him the bronze cube.

“Sure Franco,” Spike looked at the little box quizzically, “I’ll see you later then.”

“Now scat!” Franco growled, urging Spike out of the booth. “Go have fun, and Happy Halloween!” he called after the young man. Spike waved to him as he headed for the monorail station. It was still early enough to catch the rail to Redmond. The sun hadn’t quite fallen from the sky. Dusk was approaching. Franco fished around in his coveralls and found the Elf’s card. Chills ran up his arms. Maybe he should have given the little puzzle box to the Elf with the flaming hair. It was too late now.

Hours passed as he watched the traffic in the inner city slowly cut itself down to an inconsistent drip instead of the flood of headlights. The only thing constant was the changing of the language as he checked in the clientele. “Bonsoir!” and “Merci beaucoup” were for the ones coming from Paris. “Guten Abend” and “Vielen dank” were for the ones coming from Berlin. “Konbanha” and “Bansha” were for the ones visiting Renraku. “An-nyong hashimnika” and “Tedanhi kamsa-hamnida” were for the Seoul men. “Wanv sháng haov” and “Fei cháng gàn xie” for the ones coming in from Red China - it was all the same, “Good evening” and “Thank you very much.” Faces passed by the glass and left promptly. The clouds covered over the sunset and the blackness encompassed the metroplex. Life was good behind his bulletproof glass.

Franco watched the Matchsticks roam around hiding from the LoneStar patrols. The cat-and-mouse game lasted for awhile before one of the leather clad freaks decided to pull a piece on the cruiser. That was a big mistake. Doors flew open and the ganger went down in a spray of bullets and gun smoke. It wasn’t a pleasing sight, but that drew out some of the other gang members. The Yellowjackets were flying high and quickly illuminating the area until the firefight calmed down. The ghetto birds had a strict pattern in this secured area. It didn’t stop the chipheads looking for a thrill though. Franco frowned deeply at the thought. He was glad that Spike wasn’t in one of those stupid go-gangs. He was a good kid. He didn’t need that kind of life or that attitude of nothing to live for except the ‘shadows.’

More out of boredom than anything else, Franco flipped on the little police scanner that he bought at a pawnshop. He tuned it into the LoneStar frequency with a little work. He wasn’t supposed to have that freq., but when you work the night shift in a coffin house, you get to meet people in the know. The chatter was normal for Halloween. The Barrens were having several block wars and the seedier parts of the ‘plex had bonfires going. Firefights and body counts were officially noted in someone’s log file. DocWagon was having a hefty night with all the normal weirdoes and the additional strain of supporting All Hallows Eve. Franco knew that life was good behind his bulletproof glass.

It was coming up on midnight when the group walked through the sliding glass doors of the LBI Coffin Hotel. There were five of them, all norms. Four of them were male, the last female. She was the obvious leader of this group. The last two were as wide as Trolls, but normal height. Their skin-weave must have cost them some big nuyen. The one in the middle was an oddity. The youngster had datajacks behind both ears. He looked about fourteen. Franco shook his head at the shame of it. That boy probably had a future once, but instead, he threw it away to live the life of ‘Longshot and Raptor - Runners for Hire.’ Their demeanor was obvious. They were the scum that the corporate types used to play their power games. They were the ones who corrupted the future and aided in the declination of society. They were shadowrunners.

Franco remembered a quote that his grandfather used a lot, “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, why’d you have to come into mine.” It was made by another shadowy character named Rick, Franco remembered. His father chuckled at Grandpa whenever he said it. Franco really didn’t feel the meaning of the words until they walked through the door. So much for a nice quiet night, he thought silently.

“Are you Franco?” the woman inquired. Short, abrupt and to the point.

“What’s it to ya?” Franco replied, holding his hand under the counter near the red panic button.

“We got a message for you.” She looked like she’d been through hell and back. Her hair was matted with sweat and could it be blood? Blood was seeping through her shirtsleeve. Franco noticed that she was grasping a meat arm with one that was chromed and solid state of the art. He also noticed that in the meat hand was the puzzle box that he had found earlier. It was opened. The Ork’s eyes opened wide.

“Wh-where did you get that?” he asked the woman, pointing to the bronze box in her hand.

“You Franco?” she asked again coyly. The Ork nodded in silent response. “Then take your hand off of the joy button and let’s talk.” Franco complied; still astonished that this group of mercenaries had the puzzle box that he had given to Spike several hours ago.

“Box, Lox!” ordered the older male to the two skin jobs, “Secure the hotel. No one in, no one out.” Franco eyed the two. They were like bookends guarding the only exit to the outside.

“Rightey-O, mate!” one of them said.

“All’s tidy here Lance,” the other finished.

“Zipper, find a matrix point and get jacked in. We need all the warning we can get.” Lance barked to the youngster.

“I’m on it,” was all he said. He was gone in a flash to one of the data lines that brought in the live feed for the executive coffins. In a flurry of motion, the kid reached in his bag and dropped a toolkit on the floor. Within two minutes he was wired and jacked in. The security camera nodded. The kid was wired into the building security system. Franco just stared.

“Secured Captain.” Lance informed the woman as he drew out two very large pistols from behind his back. Franco recognized the Predators. All he kept thinking was, “This can’t be for real! This happens on the trid, not in real life. Shadowrunners just don’t come up and hold your place of business hostage. That was terrorism. The law didn’t allow terrorism in the metroplex.”

“Look,” the Captain explained, “we’re tired. We don’t want to alarm you, but I see we’ve already done that. My name is Sylvia. Here’s my face. Get a good look because I don’t know how much longer we’ll be alive here.” Franco’s eyes went wild; his hand went for the panic button instead of the shotgun that was hidden under the desk. “No! No! No! Please don’t do that.” It was already too late. Franco’s hand hit Big Red and waited for the phone call. LoneStar would be here in less than two minutes if he didn’t pick up the line. “Slag it all to hell!” the woman screamed. “Zipper, you got an intercept ETA?” Lance shot a hand to his ear, trying to block out the other noise.

“Tee minus two and counting, Captain.” Lance reported in lieu of the jacked-in teenager. The phone began to ring. Franco didn’t make a move. LoneStar could handle these slime balls. Sylvia screamed in pain. Franco’s eyes focused in on her. The little puzzle box was moving on its own. Turning, spinning, and sticking razor-sharp edges into her meat hand.

The living bronze shrapnel dropped from her hand as the fingers came loose. “Shit!” she cried out, “It’s too fragging late! They’ve found us.” The lights dropped in the LBI Coffin Hotel leaving Franco and the rest in complete darkness.

In the foyer, a bell went off. Vile, black and crimson rays of light shot out from the opened puzzle box. Sylvia was on her knees in pain. Faint music could be heard echoing off of the tiled walls of the foyer. Rotating pillars of wood came through the floor. The sound of the wood and metal scraping through the tiles tore into Franco’s soul. He felt rendered from the inside out as the chains attached to them started whipping about catching the humans in the foyer. Angled chains of black metal shot out from the ceiling, floor and walls. The foyer was now a web of twisted metal and hooks.

“We didn’t even open the box!” Lance pleaded to the air within the foyer. New chains shot out of the ethereal, piercing the flesh in his hands, pulling his arms up. The scream he let out was half finished when another hook shot out from behind Lance and shredded his throat. Blood bubbled up from his mouth clogging the scream.

“You didn’t open the box,” a raspy voice thundered, “and what was it last time? ‘Didn’t know what the box was.’ And yet we keep finding each other, don’t we? Perhaps you’re teasing us. Are you teasing us?” It asked through grotesquely pierced lips. “No more delays. No more teasing. Time to play.” The thing raised its arm and snapped its fingers. Three more hooked chains flew into Lance. His scream was barely audible.

Lance’s body was pulled in five different directions at once. The razor sharp hooks attached to the twisting metal links of the chains were holding him above the tiled floor. Pain wracked the shadowrunner’s body, Franco could tell. He had a full view of Lance’s face. Dark blood seeped through the armored vest he was wearing only to collect on the underside of his torso before it fell to the floor. Lance’s eyes pleaded with Franco to do something, anything. The Ork stood still behind his bulletproof glass. He could do nothing to save the shadowrunner. Entrails and bits of bone splattered the plexiglass as Lance was rendered into several pieces. Franco leaped backwards as the guts of the shadowrunner hit his bulletproof shield.

Franco studied the thing that had just disemboweled the man. Dark leather was sewn onto the thing’s body. The course leather stitching could be seen plainly. The thing turned, giving Franco a better look. It was focusing on Sylvia now.

“For God’s sake,” she exclaimed, “what in the hell do you want?” The thing smiled in response.

“That is an interesting question, Sylvia.” It responded coolly. Franco could see the miniature chains attached to its eyelids, undulating through the bone and muscle in the face to link up with the hooks piercing the creature’s lower lip. “But to rephrase, it is not ‘what in the hell do you want,’ it is ‘what does Hell want with you?’” The thing laughed. Small bells hanging off of the beast’s neck rang off as Sylvia started to cry. Streaks formed on her cheeks where the mascara was running down her face. “No tears please. It’s a waste of good suffering.”

Near the doorway, Franco witnessed the two skin jobs were spread eagle on the rotating cylinders. In front of them was another leather-clad demon whose head was tattooed with an intricate grid. Franco noticed that the intersections had jeweled pins that were sticking through the beast’s skull. The thing turned to face him and stuck out its tongue at Franco. The tattoos didn’t stop at the surface. The muscle was also lined with the grids and had the pins sticking out of it. With a light, breathy voice it called to Franco, “We have such sights to show you.” The voice was almost shrill, like an excited girl.

The leather clad demon spun the wooden cylinders faster and faster. The chains attached to each pole were cutting the opposite shadowrunner. The two had to be twins to look that much alike, Franco noted. It was a pity that they were going to die together as well. Hooks cut and flayed the flesh off of the two big men as they passed each other. The Pinhead just stood there, reveling in the amount of blood and flesh that was coming off of the two bodies. “So eager to play, so reluctant to admit it!” the Pinhead seethed with glee.

A third demon was in the opposite corner closing in on the young decker. All the fat beast would do was grunt at the near comatose teenager. Its bald head was scarred beyond belief. Dark glasses found a home on the ugly face of the thing. The Fat One was interested in Zipper’s datajacks. Chubby fingers were toying with the input from the cyberdeck. Blood was staring to run from the interface. Zipper screamed.

“Your pain will be legendary, even in Hell.” Chain-face quipped as it turned to Franco. Locked in the booth, Franco knew that it would take an immense beating to get through the armored plexiglass. What he didn’t know was if the plexiglass was enough to keep the demons out.

“Well, ya know what slick?” he asked the Chain-face. “I aint ready to go to Hell just yet. I’ve got things to do and people to see.” Franco was nearly foaming at the mouth. He didn’t know where the words came from. Just that he was comfortable with them. The demon seemed to be taken aback from his response.

“We have an eternity to know your flesh,” the Pinhead joined in, leaving the two bulking masses still chained to the twirling posts. The Fat one grunted a giggle and removed the glasses from his head. Leather binds were sewn over his eyes to keep them shut. Franco dug into his pockets trying to find something, anything that would ward the demons off. His hand happened upon the card that the Elf threw at him earlier in the night. Quick fingers bent the card in half in his pocket. A perceptible snapping came to Franco more through his fingers rather than his ears. He hoped this was the way to contact the clown.

A faint whistling could be heard above the din of chains and torment. Franco heard the familiar sounds of the Elf’s boots as he walked calmly on the linoleum. Click-clack, click-clack, click-clack, and then the footsteps stopped. “Now how did I end up back here?” the painted Elf asked himself. “I surely don’t remember wanting to be here. But here I am nevertheless,” he explained to no one. The Elf glanced through the foyer of the coffin hotel and his eyes widened. “I need another drink.”

Franco pounded on the bulletproof glass trying to get the Elf’s attention. He now understood the importance of the little puzzle box. It was some sort of magical juju gateway to whatever nether realm that these demons came from. Lamentation poured over the Ork for not giving the damned box over to the Elf in the first place. Spike was probably dead, and all his friends. The party in Redmond turned into a bloodbath because he sent the box there. All those people, all those deaths, on his hands, Franco should just step out of the booth and let the demons have their way with him.

“They solved the box, Franco,” a new demon started. Franco looked towards the voice. All he saw was a hooded robe and gray skin underneath; “We came.” Slender arms lifted the hood off of a bald head. Thin wisps of hair were left, but not much. Scar tissue ran all over the head of the new demon. The voice was husky, but definitely feminine. “Now you must come with us,” the She-beast taunted. Franco could see her bare feet shuffling underneath the dark robe as she was walking towards the booth. As she walked, bare knees showed themselves from within the dark confines of the robe. “Taste our pleasures,” the She-beast offered as she spread her arms out revealing her nude body underneath the robe.

Franco was stunned. The She-beast’s skin nearly glowed in the carnage that was taking place in the foyer. He could feel his heart starting to beat faster. Sweat was starting to form on his hairline. Franco knew he was going to die tonight. ‘Just as well,’ he thought, ‘I’ve been the cause of the death of so many others this night, why not me as well?’

“Because!” yelled the Elf from across the room, “It wasn’t your hands that opened the box, Franco.” The Ork’s mouth dropped open. How could this Elf clown read his thoughts?

“It is not the hands that call us Caimbeul,” the She-beast explained, “it is desire.”

“Well,” thought the Elf, “that is one way to put it.” Slender hands drew a broadsword from a sheath on his back. “But I really don’t think that these poor fellows desired death and dismemberment quite so soon,” he chuckled to the She-beast.

“We’ll tear your soul apart, Caimbeul!” the She-beast seethed. Chains launched at the painted Elf from all directions. He parried and jumped away from most of them. Franco stared as the battle was commencing. The Elf’s sword began to glow as the chains bounced off of the steel blade.

“You’re welcome to try,” he retorted, “but you’ll find out that it wouldn’t give you as much satisfaction as you think.” He winked at the She-beast. The torrent of barbed chains continued throughout the foyer of the hotel. Franco watched the Elf block the barrage of twisted unholy metal to his best efforts, there were times where the hooks sliced through the burgundy long coat leaving raised welts of blood.

There was no mirth left in the Elf’s eyes as Franco witnessed the battle. Waves of flashing light glanced off of the blackened metal of the chains. The rebounding echoes sounded like a morbid song consisting of chimes and bells. His hands were shaking so badly that he didn’t bother to stop them. Franco’s eyes ate and swallowed the macabre scene surrounding him. Pieces of entrails and much blood stained the walls and tile floor of the foyer. The slime trail left by Lance’s intestines was still on the plexiglass in front of him. His hands had a mind of their own; Franco let them wander. They found the shotgun.

Franco held the gun close to him more out of comfort than self-defense. The chains had latched into the Elf’s left leg. The Ork could see the skin bulging from the amount of pull on the chain. These demons didn’t want their prize escaping, Franco could see that clearly. Movement was becoming harder for the painted warrior to maintain with one of his legs out of commission. His sword still flared as he blocked off another volley of snaking chains.

The Fat demon was out of the picture. The scarred head had been neatly cut off from the rest of its body. Dark glasses sat askew on his bloated cheeks. That left the Elf with three of the things, all doing their damnedest to nail him with whatever they had. Franco eyed Sylvia sitting on the floor still trembling. Her face was streaked black from her tears and makeup. She was more a wreck than Franco had figured a shadowrunner should be. Sylvia was leaning most of her weight on the cybered arm while reaching out with her meat arm for the little bronze box.

The Pinhead must have sensed her movement because four chains came out of nowhere to string the shadowrunner up just has they had done with Lance. Her screams were loud. Franco tried to cover his ears but it didn’t work. He heard the screams in his soul. Zipper was leaning against the wall huddled into a little human ball. The jack at the end of his input was a bloody mess lying on the floor. The kid needed to get to a hospital. The damage was already done. Franco didn’t know much about how the melding of meat and machine worked, but it couldn’t have been good to have a piece of your nervous system just yanked out.

“You will learn to know the difference between pleasure and pain,” cooed the Pinhead to the outstretched Sylvia. “And we have all eternity to explore the pleasure of pain.” The beast was licking her face with its pinpricked tongue. Sylvia shook all over in response, further driving the hooks deeper into her flesh. Franco’s hands found the keypad for the door and opened it. The Pinhead just chuckled.

The Elf was still having problems defending himself against the assault of Chain-face and the She-beast. Franco heard sirens in the distance. ‘Great,’ he thought, ‘more bodies to throw in the fray!’

“Not this time!” Franco bellowed loudly. The Pinhead turned as the Ork pumped, cocked, and fired the shotgun. The Pinhead continued the turn and fell.

“At last!” the Elf cried out, “our Halloween Knight has arrived!” With new energy, the Elf flipped the sword around his body gathering as much light as he could with the strokes. The chain snapped with a shower of sparks as the sword bit through the black links. With four more shots Sylvia was freed of the tension that was ripping her body into pieces.

“No!” the She-beast screamed. “Her soul is ours for the taking. It was offered and we accepted,” she demanded. Her arms thrust out and sent more chains flying, this time towards the Ork. He wasn’t as fast as the Elf. The razor chains struck him in the sides. Franco frowned. Now he was mad.

“Light Bearer Industries bears no responsibility for lost or misplaced items left after your stay.” Franco informed the demon and pumped the rest of the shells into her face. The She-beast dropped like a sack.

“Well met!” the Elf cheered. “Well said!” Chain-face was still trying to get at the Elf. Chains ripped up from the floor and the ceiling in vain. The clown dodged the oncoming metallic snakes and picked up the bronze box.

“We’ve waited long for you, Caimbeul. You will be astounded at the sights that you will see. We do have such sights to show you.” The Elf’s body moved too quickly to be ensnared by the warping reality around him. Franco’s sides felt like they were being pulled out from the inside. A burning started in his sternum. He cried out in pain.

“Here!” the Elf cried out to him as he tossed the Ork the puzzle box, “Work your magic Halloween Knight!” The barely conscious Ork felt the box hit him in the chest. The cool metal screamed to him. His right hand dropped the shotgun and grabbed for the already falling etched cube. It fell into the palm of his hand without effort.

The patterns called to him. They spoke their own language. It was if the box was telling him which sections to turn. The triangular piece, then press on the circle, rotate just so. The bronze metal was no longer cool. It burned the tender flesh on his fingertips. Franco shook his head to remove the sweat stinging his eyes. His hands were locked in their own combat with the puzzle box. All at once, it flew out of Franco’s hands and landed on the floor. A small ring-shaped piece lifted, rotated and then declined of its own accord. Screeching tires could be heard from the street outside. It was over. Franco dropped to the ground as the chains and the gore of the carnage disappeared.

Hobbling over, the Elf grabbed the bronze puzzle box. He stared at it for a while, pondering the thing. “Happy Halloween,” he finally said.

“What now?” said the Ork.

“You go to the hospital, and I disappear.” Franco watched the Elf fade from existence as the sliding doors opened up in front of the LoneStar patrolmen.

“Are you OK!?” one of them asked Franco.

“I quit,” muttered Franco, “the hospitality industry is just too fragging weird on Halloween.”

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Fair Play

I used to think that it mattered to me,
The thoughts, the smells, the tastes, the life of it.
Memories seem to haunt me from it all.
It is all nothing but grey ash, beastly.

It was never as I had intended.
I was supposed to be a success, see.
Failure was not to be my sole branding.

Here, where I exist, there’s no future sea.
Ahead, there is only this bag of shit
That intends to cover me when I fall.
Now, there are only the things I carry.


“We all wear masks. Some we wear deliberately, others we put up as a defense. 

I’ve not truly learned how to wear my mask. Something always breaks me down. But that’s the story for me. It’s the ‘Chloe Travis Curse.’ I can’t seem to hold that straight face that men do when they mentally check out after the deed has been done. It seems for men, the mask is easy to put on, if they’re wearing a mask at all. For them it’s all about the pussy. 

You know I’m not an Insta-Snap girl, but I’d really like to see what it’s like to not feel the hurt and embarrassment of putting it out there (both literally and figuratively) only to have Mr. Big-Balls turn around and treat me like I’m another notch on his bedpost. I’d like for once to have the mask in place and make the Big-Balls out there feel something.

Over the years, I’ve found it’s easier to have the talk over the telephone rather than in person. I’ve learned how to keep my voice steady. It still hurts, but Mr. Big-Balls doesn’t know that I’m crushed inside. They get their conquest without recompense. I just don’t know why I let them do that. 

Worse is when that one night stretches out into a couple of weeks or more. Then feelings start to grow. I’m always cautious, but it seems that my heart is just out there waiting to be squeezed. A partnership starts to be built and then the rug gets pulled out. And there I am in my Alexander McQueen mini being dumped on my ass — again.”

Chloe looked at the cursor blinking. It was waiting for her to bleed more out into Scrivener so she could post the entry on her blog. It was always waiting for her. Her fingers attacked the keyboard.

“Son of a mother-fucking bitch! Stupid horse’s ass with a comfortable cock and a luscious hair. I hate, hate, HATE you! Mother-fucking, titty sucking, two-balled bitch! Your Momma’s in the kitchen cooking red-hot shit. Your brother’s in jail. Your father’s in hell. And your sister’s around the corner yelling, ‘Pussy for sale!’”

Hot tears rolled down her cheeks and splashed on her leg. The screen was now a blurred wobbly image. The cursor blinked, waiting. Chloe’s face twisted up as she let the pain bubble up. She knew that Phil was not ‘The One,’ but she didn’t expect to be blown off. They had been flirting for a couple of weeks online and when they finally met in person, the chemistry between them was thick.

Chloe saw his smile and his chiseled face and melted. It was his eyes more than anything else. Phil’s eyes were a kind of mocha brown that matched up with how she took her coffee. All she could imagine was ripping into his clothes and leaving a trail of them in her wake.

Now, there was the hole. That space that she let Phil into was empty because he got what he wanted. All she had to do was spread her legs and let him in. Once he came, he left. He ignored her online and ignored her texts. Chloe knew that sometimes it took a brick to get through to her. This time it didn’t.

Questions raced through her mind. Was I bad in bed? Was I too clingy? What’s wrong with me? Each question was a punch in the gut. Chloe laid her forehead on the keyboard of her laptop and listened to the fan whir as she sobbed.


Chloe just sat in the chair with her head on the keyboard for a while. The whirring fan seemed to drown out everything else. It comforted her with its consistency. There was no variation. It was even.

Lifting her head up, she wiped away the tears from her face with the palms of her hands and then dried the keyboard with the cuff of her sweatshirt. She knew better than to let Phil inside to play with her emotions. She knew better to keep her heart on her sleeve.

Blinking back another bout of tears, Chloe straightened up and looked back at the screen. There were more words than she had written out. Her head probably had hit the keys.

“lure wwwwrm. rift lull gift SAFE saga”

Chloe stared at the words. There was no way that the random rolling of her head on the keyboard put them there. A slight chill started up her back, making her arch. Quickly highlighting the words, Chloe hit the backspace key. The text was gone.

She then selected the paragraph of venting and deleted the text. The cursor blinked at her waiting for the next line. Shaking her head to clear out thoughts of Phil and the strangeness of text she deleted, Chloe started at the top of her article again.

“We all wear masks. We have worn them decisively throughout history. It was not just defense. 

I’ve not only learned but mastered how to wear my mask. Nothing can break me down. It’s not just my story but the story for all of us that have worn it. The ‘Chloe Travis Curse’ can be broken. I can show you how to hold that straight face. Men will flock to you. You can be the one who controls the deed and decide when it is done. I will make the mask is easy to put on. No one will know if you’re wearing a mask at all. For them it will be all about your purity. 

Their minds will bend to you. They will snap. I can show you what it’s like to not feel the hurt and embarrassment of putting yourself out there (both literally and figuratively) only to have Mr. Big-Balls turn around and treat me like I’m another notch on his bedpost. I’d like for once to have the mask in place and make the Big-Balls out there feel something.

Over the years, I’ve helped countless women. You will no longer have to have the talk over the telephone. I will be your armor. I will be your spine. Together Mr. Big-Balls won’t know that he’s about to be crushed inside. You will take your conquest without recompense. 

Our nights will stretch on for whatever time you choose. They will gnaw out their insides because of the feelings that will grow in them. You will not have to be cautious. Your heart will be protected. We will hold them by the balls and squeeze. 

A partnership can be built betwixt you and I. You will know the true power of that Alexander McQueen mini and never be dumped on your ass again.”

Chloe put her hands on the table and pushed herself away from the laptop. For a moment, she didn’t know if she could stand. Wobbly legs stood and held her weight. All she could do was stare at the words.

She knew they weren’t hers. She knew she didn’t write them. She knew that the words were changed.

The chair rumbled across the carpet finally catching and turning over. Chloe found herself screaming as the chair’s legs ran up her own.

Finding the courage to lean in, she slammed her laptop closed and grabbed her phone that was charging via the USB port. It came away from the computer with a snap of resistance. Unlocking the phone, she found Leigh Ann’s number and hit the call button.

“Hi, you’ve reached Leigh Ann’s phone. I can’t talk right now because my mouth is probably full of something long, hard, and salty. You know what to do.”

“Goddamnit, Leigh Ann! I need you to come over, now!” Chloe could hear the panic in her voice, but she didn’t care.

Chloe moved through the kitchen and out of the den where her writing desk was set up. Bare feet slapped on the tile as she dialed Rachel’s number.

“You’ve reached Renee Knight. I can’t come to the phone right now. Please leave a message.”

“Holy Christ!” Chloe almost screamed, “You too? Ren, I need you to come over. Something’s going on. Please, sweetie.” Chloe turned out of the kitchen and headed for her bedroom. She needed shoes, shoes and keys.

Tile gave way to a plush runner that lined the hallway. The soft knap pushed up against the soles of her feet and into the spaces between her toes. Normally Chloe would have relished it, now though, not so much. She just wanted to get a hold of Kelly.

“Hi, you’ve reached Kelly. I’m on assignment. Please leave a message.”

“Hon,” Chloe could hear something else in her voice she didn’t recognize. “It’s Chloe, please come over or call me back. I really need you.”

Chloe hit the end call button and gripped her phone tightly. She hurried down the hallway to her bedroom, hopped up on the bed, and grabbed a pillow in a stranglehold.

She kept thinking about the words she saw on her laptop. They weren’t her words. She knew that. The chill ran up her spine again. Something was here in her apartment. Chloe flipped the pillow over her head to land between her back and the headboard and slipped into the covers. She brought her knees up to her chin and hugged herself waiting for the phone to ring.

The transition from bright afternoon to inky blackness happened within a blink of an eye for Chloe. One moment she was amped up waiting for Leigh Ann, Renee, or Kelly to call and the next, she was moving her face off of her drool-soaked pillow.

Blinking to remove the sleep out of her eyes, Chloe felt uncomfortable. Something in the back of her mind was itching. Like the time when her pervy cousin was trying to catch a glimpse down her blouse.

Chloe sat up immediately and scanned the room. Darkness was the only thing there. Inky blackness seemed to loom over Chloe, shrinking her down to the size of a pea. It seemed to expand beyond her room.

She opened her eyes wide, watching it. It seemed to be looking back at her. Chloe’s skin itched now. Something in the darkness was caustic. Chloe struggled not to scratch her forearms and face. Tiny hairs on the back of Chloe’s neck started to rise up.

Shifting herself out from under the covers, Chloe crawled to the end of the bed and squinted. She could have sworn there was a patch of the black shadows that was deeper and more robust. Chloe sat back on her feet and craned her head towards the darker patch of shadows just beyond her reach. Something almost perceptible was shuffling.

Leaning in, Chloe could almost hear it. Signals in her brain were screaming for her to relieve the itching. Moving her jaw forward, Chloe strained to clear her ears in an effort to listen harder. Almost there. There was something…

Chloe let out a scream as her phone chimed off loud tones from underneath the pile of covers. Buzzing quickly followed. Turning back for the phone, Chloe’s hair whipped around and hit the side of her face. Immediately looking backwards, Chloe felt more than saw something retreating back into the shadow.

She lunged for the phone, fighting with the covers to find it. The tones were still singing off and it was still vibrating. A soft sigh seemed to follow her. Chloe’s skin itched where the blanket touched it.


Chloe could see the light filtering through the blanket as it was ringing. Finally, she found the edge of the blanket and maneuvered the phone to free it from the tangle. Renee’s face appeared on the screen. Raven locks and an upturned nose never looked so good. Quickly, Chloe swiped right on the screen to accept the call.

“Ren!” Chloe could feel the tension easing out of her.

“Chloe?” Renee’s voice was distant, as if calling from a can. “What’s going on?”

“Ren, Ren, oh Ren. Thank God.” Chloe stammered. “I don’t know. Something weird is going on. There were some words and just now something here in the bedroom.”

“Chloe?” static broke in. “Chloe?”

Chloe brought the phone away from her ear and looked at it. The charge was good. She had four bars. There shouldn’t be any issues on her end. She could hear Renee keep asking for her.

“Chloe?” Renee’s voice changed. “…unnel…ck.”

“No, no, no, no.” Chloe pleaded with the phone as she watched the line disconnect. As the screen went black, a sigh escaped from the end of Chloe’s bed. Shadows grew deeper. On instinct, Chloe hit the button that lit up the phone’s lock screen. Pale light didn’t make it past the end of the bed. With the other hand, Chloe moved to switch on the lamp at her bedside.

Soft yellow light permeated the room. The doors to her antique Armoire opposite the bed stood open. In the mirror, she could see a dim reflection of herself. The clothes were in order, but there was something that struck Chloe funny. Getting up and sliding bare feet into pink fuzzy slippers, she shuffled over to the Armoire and shut all three of its doors.

The touch of the wooden doors sent a tingling through her hands and arms. Chloe’s shoulders twitched as her spine recovered from the pulse. The wood was cool. The pattern of the grain stood out, but the surface wasn’t rough. It had been a gift for her birthday from Kelly. It was a knockdown three door Armoire imported from the United Kingdom in 1927. The Birdseye Maple was rich and wholesome, yet something about the piece now just gave her chills when she touched it.

Checking her phone, Chloe was distracted from the raised bumps on her arms. It was as if thousands of mosquitoes had their fill of blood and then vanished. She could only imagine how her face looked. Focusing back on the phone, no other messages had come through while she was sleeping. She wondered what was keeping Leigh Ann and Kelly from calling.

Under the harsh bathroom light, Chloe could see the red splotches on her face. Chloe twisted her face up and frowned at her reflection. No amount of base was going to cover it up. Her disheveled curly blonde hair didn’t make the picture any better.

The phone rang again loudly and vibrated on the granite counter. Chloe snatched it up. It was Renee calling back.

“Ohmigod!” Chloe blurted. “I need you to come over.”

“What’s going on?” Renee’s concern eased Chloe through the phone.”You sounded frantic on your message and not much better now.”

“These words weren’t mine,” Chloe started, “and just now the Armoire felt funny.”

“Chloe,” Renee didn’t seem to understand, “what are you talking about? What words? What about the Armoire?”

“Oh, Ren,” Chloe sighed. “I just don’t know. Can you come over? I don’t feel safe right now.”

“Lock the door, Sweetie,” Renee said flatly. “I’ll be right over.” Chloe melted against the vanity in the bathroom.

“Thank you, Hon.” Chloe hung up and turned on the water.

The coolness of the water eased the itching on her face. Patting her face dry, she heard the sigh again from her bedroom. Chloe felt her neck tense instantly as she looked back towards her bedroom. The lamp was still lit. As she walked into the room, the doors to the Airmoire were open again. Chloe stood outside the room and unlocked her phone. She pulled up both Kelly and Leigh Ann from her contacts list and began typing, “I’ve got wine. Come over.”

Chloe sent the text and backed away from her bedroom and headed back through the hallway. Stopping in the kitchen, she looked out into the den. Her laptop was open. The chair was set back properly on the carpet.

With wide eyes, she reached for the Santoku on the magnetic strip near the stovetop. The Henkel was comfortable in her hand. It wasn’t too long for her and Chloe knew it was sharp. Chloe held a death grip on both the knife and her cell phone as she crouched down and stepped forward.

Creeping around the corner, she saw Scrivener was still open on the laptop. More words were there. She didn’t bother to look at them. They weren’t her words anyway. Chloe took a wide angle around the small writing table and into the living room.

There were wine glasses out and a bottle of Merlot. Three of them were standing half-filled around the open bottle. Chloe approached the table and set her phone down. The bottle was warm. How long had it been out?

Two of the glasses had lipstick around the rim. The muscles in Chloe’s face contracted as her lip came out. One shade was unmistakably Leigh Ann’s. She only wore Diorissimo. Mixed with the scent of the Merlot was the scent of Alibaba. Kelly’s new favorite.

“No, no, no.” Chloe mumbled, dropping the knife and bringing her hands to her mouth. She stood there shaking her arms. She couldn’t see clearly through the tears that were welling from her eyes. Chloe pointed to the left over wine and the gathering of used glasses and shook her head.

Chloe turned her head away from the sofa and coffee table and ran the wide arc back to the kitchen. The bile was rising in her throat. She was going to be sick. She reached the stainless steel sink just in time to save the tile and the granite.

A flood of vomit splattered into the basin from Chloe’s mouth. Turning her head to the side, she turned on the faucet and watched the deep red coagulation flow down the disposal. It smelled of wine and gastric juice. Chloe heaved again.

Laying her head on the cold surface of the granite, Chloe glared into the den. She could see her laptop was open and the chair as it would usually sit. This time it wasn’t so inviting.

Chloe wiped her mouth with the sleeve of her sweatshirt. It came away red. She didn’t want to think about that. She wanted to know that Leigh Ann and Kelly were all right. She needed to know that they were all right.

Her head was heavy. Her hair hurt along with her stomach. Chloe lifted up and walked towards the den where the laptop was sitting. She didn’t want to think about what the words said, but she had to know. Chloe’s face was a mask of pain.

Chloe closed her eyes and pulled the chair out so she could sit. All she wanted to do was run. It didn’t matter where. Her stomach complained again. She ignored it.

The cursor blinked on a blank line as it always did. She scrolled up.

“I’ve borrowed your mask. It was comfortable and exquisite. They didn’t even know. They had no defense. 

Your skin is so delicate, but I’ve learned how to let it breathe. It is a glorious and beautiful mask. Nothing can separate us now. We are bonded. It’s not just my story but your story for the rest of your days. The ‘Chloe Travis Curse’ is broken. I’ve taken the sacrifice. The wine and blood are enough of a tribute. We can hold our face up high in the knowledge that all will come and pay homage to us. We control the deeds. We decide what can be done. Well, I will, anyway. Your mask is now so easy to put on. No one will know if you’re wearing a mask at all. For them it will be all about you, but it will be me. 

Your mind bent easily to me. All it took was a simple push, a small gap. Worry not though. You’ll never feel the embarrassment of putting yourself out there again. I’ll be there instead. They will all feel something.

I am eternal and you as lovely as the countless women I’ve had before. I will be your armor. I will be your spine. I will take conquest without recompense. I will be the one surviving.

We will stretch on for whatever time your flesh survives. You’ll feel though. You will gnaw and thrash deep within. I’ll not have to be cautious. Your heart called out to me to be protected. I’ll show you how to break hearts again.”

Chloe felt all of her nerves firing. Flashes of Leigh Ann’s smile fading assaulted her. Kelly’s face was bruised but not bloody. The Armoire doors were open. The clothes were gone. In the reflection of the mirror Chloe could see the wicked smile on her own face.

It was her, but it wasn’t her. Kelly had told her it was a 20th Century piece from an estate sale in Glastonbury. In new flashes of memory, Chloe knew the parts were far older, not the Bakelite fixtures, of course, but the wood. Ancient memories flooded into Chloe’s brain as laughter echoed in her mind.

Her heart went to her throat when Chloe heard the familiar chime of the doorbell. Renee was here. Laughter echoed again. It was all around her.

Without her will, Chloe felt her body lift from the chair and start to walk across the room. She tried to stop, but her legs kept moving. Chloe could feel a smile form on her face as she reached for the door.

“Renee!” she heard her voice call out as the door opened to reveal the last of her best friends. “Thank you for coming. I was so scared.”

“Anything for you, Chloe.” Renee smiled and wrapped her arms around Chloe’s body. Chloe could feel Renee’s heartbeat. She could smell her perfume. Laughter echoed around her.

Friday, October 28, 2016

A Hollow Shell

Broken and tossed against the hardened shoals
Life’s dreams take on a new meaning of pain.
We battered, discarded, and forgotten
Still try to give of ourselves and our souls.

It isn’t enough to be a good man.
There is often no reward for these goals
Because we should be glad to do the work.

So we move along as the wind controls
Or waves with sea shells as we smile and feign
Happiness so we will not seem rotten
While we beg to gather alms in our bowls.

Love, Or Something Like It

“What do you mean, you like him?” Victor stopped digging and chucked the shovel out of the hole. It landed on the loamy ground with a soft thud. Sweaty and caked with the ripe smell of rich earth, he pulled himself out from the grave and stared at Mia.

She couldn’t like him. What the fuck did he ever do besides run around and brag about his big dick. Stupid slut of a man-whore that he was. Chris fucking Palmer. Ass-hat.

“Don’t be like that.” Mia twisted in the fog. Victor could sense more than see her bite her lip.

“Like fucking what?” Victor brushed the dirt off of his face.

“Come on, Vic.” Her pleading voice was more of a whine. Victor hated when she pulled that penny-ante shit on him. “You know, he’s just so,” Mia trailed off still twisting around the shovel she was holding.

“Yeah, I fucking know,” Victor began to shake off the grave dirt from his clothes. It was too fertile, too rancorous, too clingy. It was like Mia at times.

“If you’re gonna be like that, I’m not going to help you.” Mia let the shovel drop onto the ground and folded her arms across her chest.

“For Christ’s sake, Mia.” Victor walked over to her and put his grimy hands on her shoulders. He could see the patented pout starting to form on her face. He could smell her scent through the earthy and moist odor that permeated the graveyard. He could feel the tension in her shoulders.

Goddamnit! You can’t like him. You’re supposed to like me!

“That guy is no good Mia,” Victor spoke in a whisper to her. “He’s got a reputation.” He lifted her chin up so he could look into her eyes. “He’s seeing Dawn Cook from Washington High, Jen Cunningham from Lynwood, Sheila House from …”

“Enough, Vic.” She pulled away from him, “Just, enough.” Mia wiped at her eyes with the sleeves of her hoody. Victor could hear a sniffle. He moved towards her again, “No! Let’s just get the body to your dad’s lab.”

“Look, I didn’t mean to come off like that.” Victor grabbed her shovel and tossed it near the other one. “He’s just such an asshole.”

“I know Vic.” Her voice was steady. Mia looked up from underneath the hood and smiled at him as she handed him a crowbar from the duffle bag full of tools near the grave. The dampness of the fog made her hair start to turn curly. Her pale face was like porcelain.

Fuck! How can she like him?

“What does your dad do with them Vic?” She asked as Victor jumped back into the newly dug grave ready to open casket. “It’s always been fun and all seeing what their damage was,” she said obviously indicating the corpses that they got for his father, “but what’s his damage?” this time indicating Victor’s father.

“You know,” Victor shoved the hook end under the seam between the lid and the coffin, “I’m not even sure what his addiction is to these fucking things.” He leaned into the crowbar, using his weight to leverage the lid open.

Don’t breathe. Don’t breathe. Don’t breathe.

The lid opened with a fog-muffled crack just as a clod of smelly dirt and grass hit him in the face. Victor inhaled to let loose the profanities when the taste of long dead flesh entered his mouth followed by the smell of rot. Somewhere in there was the distinct aroma of the coffin flies. Victor wanted to retch. He could hear Mia giggling above him.


“Sorry Vic,” Mia smiled down on him like a Valkyrie waiting to take him to Valhalla. It was all bright teeth, pale skin and black makeup framed by raven locks. “Besides, you deserved it.”

“No I fucking didn’t!” Victor spat out the bits of dirt that seemed to get into his mouth. Flies buzzed out from the coffin complaining about the rude intrusion of their feeding and breeding ground. Victor swatted at them aimlessly. “Christopher fucking Palmer is an ass-hat and you know it!” He glared up at her. “I don’t even know why you’re friends with him with how he acts.”

“Ugh!” Victor watched he patented eye-roll as she moved out of view. “You just don’t get it, do you?”

“Uh, no!” Victor worked the lid open. He could hear her setting up the portable winch so the two could lift the body out from the coffin. “Why don’t you break it down for me?”

“God!” The clanking of the metal stand being thrown down filled up the space above Victor. He felt the angry footsteps coming up to the grave. “You are fucking brain dead Victor Ingram!” Victor looked up at her. “You may as well just take, what’s his name?” Mia paused to read the headstone, “Russell Edwin Long’s place after we get him up!”

“What the hell are you going on about now?” Victor kept batting at the flies.

“The fact that there’s this saying floating around and you don’t even have a clue!”

“What saying?”

“Victor Ingram,” she was using a calmer and more confident voice. Victor had never heard it. “A friend is who you call to help you move. A good friend is who you call to help you move a dead body. A very good friend is who you call to dig up a dead body.”

“Huh?” Victor looked up at her again. “So you’re my very good friend. I already knew that.”

“You are dense.” Mia crawled down into the grave and stood next to Victor. “Very. Good. Friend.” Mia punctuated each word with a forceful kiss onto his grimy mouth. “Get it?”


Victor pulled her close and kissed her deeply standing above the body of Russell Edwin Long. The taste was of strawberries.

“Besides Vic,” she said when the two briefly stopped, “Chris Palmer is only good for sex, he’s a total ass-hat.”

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Heavenly Scent

Crisp and clean, the winter wind carries it.
I was told that the snow aloft is kin
To the scent of what heaven would smell like.
In the infinite of it all, it knit.

And then there was verisimilitude.
I knew there was no other truth to it.
The faith the belief that absolute trust.

I could not deny the passion befit
Of a revelation that was given
To the likes of me from one so dreamlike.
Winter’s Scent – and I am still so unfit.