Invisible matters of the mind turned real into the written word.
|“Mirror, mirror on the wall,” Dorothy Sanders stroked the fairness of skin, eyeing her double within the glass Time had treated her well. Only the beginnings of crows feet crinkled at the edges of her eyes. It was still an infrequent task, plucking the occasional strand of white hair from her luxuriant head of auburn growth.
“There is one fairer than thee.” Her reflection shared a rueful smile as it spoke.
Dorothy’s grip on her hairbrush tightened. Pain shot through her thigh where she had clubbed herself. When had she begun talking to herself in her mirror? It almost seemed the words had not escaped her lips but had come from her unlikely twin. “Get grip.”
Her doppleganger winked at her. Or did Dorothy, not of Oz, have something tearing in her eye. Lately she’d been spending too much time at this extraordinary mirror so filled with promise. It had cost a fortune and was one of a kind. The history behind it from the glamour industry was absurd, of course, still, it didn’t hurt to think the piece had magical properties. “Tell me something I don’t know.”
Dorothy wiggled her sexy tongue out to tease herself but it didn’t work today. She had competition in the beauty department and had better figure out a way to deal with it or pay the enormous cost of losing her modeling career. “Strumpet. Mary Shell thinks she can bed herself into first place, weasel her lies about me into the right ears, tumble me from my throne.”
“Are you ready dear?” Constance, her go to get all girl opened the modeling door.
“One minute,” Dorothy’s heart pounded as she realized she’d just created a bruise where one would show and ruin today’s gig. “I wish we could change places,” she told her mirror. “You don’t know what an impossible task it is to stay young.”
Perhaps her hand, well placed, could manage to keep the bruise from showing in the camera shots. It was about the right size. “If only I were really in Oz and had red ruby shoes where witches had powers untold.”
“In here, you would, Dorothy Sanders. Come and see.”
Had she thought those wild imaginings? Dorothy turned, placed her hand on the mirror, and felt a tingling thrill as it slipped inside. The rest of her body followed. She stared out from the mirror world to her image outside. “Go kill that brat, while you are out there.”
Whatever was happening, felt too good to be true. There stood her threat in her doorway. “I’m taking today’s set. Word got out about your bruise.”
It took only a moment. Her mirror image dragged the brat in, slammed the door shut and the strangulation was done. “Hide her here, inside my mirror,” Dorothy said.
The deed was done faster than Oz ever could have done it. She watched her image wave before she was gone. “Now, to get out of here and switch places,” Dorothy pushed at the glass without it opening like it had done before. “Trapped by my own sacred image of myself.”
The stink of the corpse rotting next to Dorothy Sanders grew. The mirror world was just that. There was only the reflection of the thin line of reality revealed in the real world beyond it. When her doppelganger retired with her fortune, the mirror was covered and stored away with its contents unseen with Dorothy waiting for a world that would never be.
|Life was a silent place for Andrea Norton. She had become what Marty began calling her the day after they got married. “You dummy. You can’t do anything right.”
His hands and feet got into the act, teaching her how right that was. Why she had stayed when the beatings didn’t end, was what made her the real ‘dummy’. “I’m sorry. Please. Forgive me. I love you so much. I just want the best out of you, don’t you see?” Marty would say, asking forgiveness, offering yet another in an endless line of little boxes with jewelry inside as presents.
Some instinctive feminine intuition made her begin hocking the gifts, replacing diamonds with glass. Trust once lost is not easily replaced. Andrea hid the cash behind the framed art her husband bought and loved so much. “Dummy. You don’t understand modern art. It is a matter of perspective,” Marty’s grip on her arm tightened. There would be a bruise there when it left.
His latest purchase looked like scattered little boxes to Andrea’s eye. One’s winking at her, perhaps with jeweled eyes flashing inside. There was just about enough money saved up for her planned escape. Marty was going to kill her one of these days. The beatings had gotten worse. “There’s nothing wrong with your throat, my dear, that time will not heal.”
Yes, Andrea Norton was truly a dummy now. Something went wrong with her vocal cords when Marty tried strangling her. She had no voice now. There had come a curious lull in the beatings after that. “I like you quiet as a church mouse,” he’d told her, rapping his knuckles against her forehead.
He seemed to feel less threatened with her made mute, more helpless. Even if she wanted to, there was nothing she could say to use against him. She was a dummy in more ways than one. “What am I going to do with you? I can’t take you out looking like that.” Marty exploded into another rage.
Marty shifted his gaze away from her. She knew that she wasn’t a pretty picture any longer, with two black eyes beaten into her head she no longer looked like a trophy wife. Dark glasses wouldn’t do inside the art museum ceremony honoring Marty’s years of service as director. “I don’t know if I can stand the thought of retiring, my dear, of being around you 24/7,” Marty sighed and said.
His fingers twitched and crawled the air. It made Andrea flinch. Marty laughed, a strange diamond light flashed in his eyes. The next gift coming wouldn’t be a tiny box. It would be coffin size, Andrea realized.
“I don’t want to do this. It is for your own protection,” Marty urged, tying Andrea spread eagle'd to their wedding bed. “Can’t have you running around hurting yourself, like you do. People will talk.”
Flashbacks turned into finding Marty digging his fingernails into her wrists making sure the binds were tight enough. “They whisper already about how you harm yourself on purpose. Pity. Doing it for attention. A misguided search for love. What I put up with.”
Andrea knew better than to return his gaze. Her’s went up to Marty’s favorite work of art, the one of the colorful boxes hanging on the wall above her head. “Pay attention.” Marty’s slap across her face rocked her head in a stinging rebuke. “Dummy. We’re going to finish this up here and now.”
The knife cut into her flesh when Marty sliced at the silk ties he liked to wear, he’d used to bind her. Her blood, wiped like Indian paint across his brow made him look more savage. “You can talk if you want to.”
Andrea felt herself jerked onto her feet. The knife trembled next to her throat. “We’ll let my favorite picture decide. Tell me what you see, dear wife. We have but few moments before one of us must go.”
It was Marty’s new pretty young assistant fawning over her husband that would be taking Andrea’s place. Andrea had seen the writing on the wall when her husband began working late nights at the museum. He was stealing masterpieces, replacing them with fakes created by his assistant’s own hand. Selling them on the black market. “Look at the boxes, my dear. It is a matter of perspective. I”m in a hurry. What do you see, dummy?”
The knife pricked its first weeping red tear of blood. Marty forced her head up. “Speak,” he whispered against her hair. His breath tickled her ear, urgent, fast, needing an answer. “Or, I am done with you. It is your own fault we came to this pass. I tried to turn you into a work of art. You failed.”
How the blade stung against her throat. Her last seconds were tumbling Andrea into dark oblivion. She felt sorry, not for herself, she would be free. Marty’s assistant didn’t know what she was in for. “Enough,” Marty’s voice spoke for her. It was more than enough. It was beyond what Andrea could bear.
She took her final look at Marty’s favorite painting. Perspective. Marty was right. It was how you looked at things that made things real. The boxes reshaped in her mind like one of those old Rubik's Cubes. It was as if they were the lock to opening a door. “Good bye, dummy.” Marty said, “That’s no answer at all. I gave you all the time you are going to get.”
Time and space whirled around Andrea’s mind, little boxes inside her winked and opened up. All the pent up force of the years she’d been beaten rose up. Andrea screamed a silent, agonizing scream of total despair calling out to the darkness close at hand.
She heard the knife clatter to the hardwood floor, the slap of Marty’s hands going to both sides of his head, Why was he trying to pull his own ears off? Fascination took hold. Andrea watched the darkness flood into her husband’s eyes. Was he stark raving blind? Instead of taking his rage out on her, the man was doing it to himself.
Andrea reached down, unsteadily rose, handing Marty his knife. It was his to do with as he wanted. The picture in her mind was filled with little boxes opening up, revealing all the times past when she’d been beaten for being a dummy.
Pain blinked and flashed in her husband’s mad eyes. He pummeled his face with the fist in one hand. The sharp blade hovered in the air from his other. Which way would it descend?”
Unable to move, Andrea looked towards the painting on the wall for an answer. “I’ll kill you, yet, you damn dummy,” Marty swore, bringing his knife blade winking down towards her. “You can no longer torture me.”
Andrea heard the shot ring out before she saw the third eye appear and blink red in the middle of Marty’s forehead. Meant for her throat, the knife slit her cheek open instead. All the tops of the open boxes in her head swung shut. The painting on the wall blurred and the boxes returned there to themselves.
“Bastard,” said Marty’s assistant, letting the gun drop to her side. “He beat me, You dummy, how could you let yourself let him do this to you?”
The woman meant to take over Andrea’s place in Marty’s universe had just saved her life. “Come on. I’ll call the police. I thought he loved me.” Tears winked in the woman’s eyes like little diamonds.
Andrea took the woman in her arms, rocked her gently, letting the diamond tears fall and wet the face of Marty Norton staring sightlessly up at them.
Dumb luck stared back.
|“What do you mean I’m being collected?” Amber didn’t like the way this was going at all. What was supposed to be a nightclub outing had turned into a sinister personal threat.
“You wanted to be a class act. Here’s your chance.” One of the two over muscled tank tops lifting her off her feet and carrying her onto the circus stage yanked open the barred door and launched her into the huge cage.
Flood lights made it difficult to see. A banshee howl made her keep on rolling past a sudden fetid stink of breath and dripping hot saliva. Wild and crazy shouts of ‘Bravo’ and the roar of a gigantic crowd erupted from around her. What had she gotten herself into?
The howl behind her stopped in the middle of its next ear piercing scream. It was as if the thing’s head had been torn off. Sure enough. There it came rolling past Amber like some kind of grotesque bowling ball. “Ugh.”
She wanted to throw up. She looked up at the rising tower of an antlered Windigo looking creature, holding the banshee’s head by its hair. “This yours?” The thing dangled it closer. “It is if you can keep it.”
An arrow protruded, quivering in the thing’s chest. The next item appearing in sight was in the shape of a Hobgoblin. “I’ll take that, unless you want it? You’ll never get out of here unless you are headed the right way, and now, I am.”
All Amber wanted to do was disappear into the floor. “I wouldn’t try that if I were you.” A Slyph winged down like an overgrown fairy, sprinkled glittering dust in the air. Amber gulped, holding her breath.
The Hobgoblin shouted a warning, notched an arrow, and swallowed some of the dancing particles. His eyes bulged. He dropped his bow, vomited up a river of blood and let the head go. “That’s a dear,” the Slyph hissed, turning to face Amber. “Your turn.”
“I want out of this zoo.” Amber had managed to grab the bow and an arrow. She let the barb fly. The Slyph, caught by surprise, shriveled before Amber’s eyes. What would happen next?” The sightless eyes of the head seemed to beckon.
She dug her fingers into them, squishing the orbs, took a bowlers staunch and let the thing roll with great force towards the direction she’d come from. “Wow.” Instead of a bowling pin, Amber had taken out her next opponent, a haggard old magically appearing screeching witch.
Thundering applause followed her, as Amber made her way to the gate opening itself with her advance. She turned sweeping her arm up at the crowd and bowed.
“Not so fast, young lady. You may have passed the first round, but as soon as we clean up this mess, you’ll be featured in round number two.” It was the pair of hulking muscle men again, forcing her on a waiting area bench and snapping a chain attached to the it around one of her ankles.
Amber stared in disgust at what was cleaning up the ‘mess’, eating the remains of what was inside the cage. Her next antagonist looked even worse.
|498 word entry to "The Art of Letter Writing Contest" Prompt: You must write a letter thanking your wealthy maiden aunt for the REALLY UGLY ornament she gave you for Christmas.
Dear rich Aunt Beula,
I want you to know that I am keeping my New Year’s Resolution not to ask you for money. I am writing to thank you for the REALLY UGLY ornament you sent me for Christmas. At first? It was a bit jarring. It is the perfect image of a miniature shrunken head modeled after my likeness.
I guess you still think it was my fault and I have no mind at all. Was it my fault, my girlfriend showed up as a surprise along with her extended family and charged the holiday party she arranged for you, over the phone to your name and address?
Me boasting about you living in a mansion and having more money than you knew what to do with must have gone to her head. She sure wanted to get to know you better. When her relatives found out they would be spending the night in jail because they partied hardy and lit it on fire by mistake, you really got burned up over how they treated you.
If the police and fire crew hadn’t arrived and everyone got smoke inhalation I think they’d be toasting you and partying still. I hope you are out of the hospital when you get this letter. I think you’ll like how I hired an interior decorator for you and home sat for you while the job was done. No-one else in your posh neighborhood has their own interior wild animal zoo.
I had to fire your staff when they wouldn’t make room in the servant quarters for the elephant. My girlfriend’s family and friends forgive you and have moved in taking their place. Things got so crowded that she and I decided to take an around the world cruise.
I’m sending this letter from a little island paradise we found and bought. Thanks for leaving the code to your wall safe taped behind the portrait of your dearly departed husband. We toast him with only the finest champagne each night for sharing his good fortune with us.
I keep the shrunken head ornament on a gold key chain attached to my belt. It is the only thing you ever gave me without my asking.
I look forward to hearing from you. We could use a little help handling your creditors. They’ve been making statements about how much they like the shrunken head. So much so, they would like to see mine turned into the real thing for comparison. I don’t think they are being funny at all. I’ve hired lawyers in your name to deal with them, since I can’t fire them.
In closing, I know you will be anxious to see me. I can’t wait to see what kind of welcome gift you may be planning. What could match this shrunken head?
Your loving nephew,
Stephen Jay Arnold, the third
|“Isn’t it obvious?” Nancy Cline loved ‘Who Done It’s’. She’d graduated from Miss Marple, Periot and Sherlock Holmes to follow her local police detective hero, Andrew Wright’s career. She finished cutting out her latest clipping from the Deseret News and gave it a kiss. “The clues to solving this case are right there.”
Her husband, Dennis Cline wasn’t bothered by losing first place on her hero worship throne. Her absorption in local murder stories meant his ear wasn’t being chewed off like before. He enjoyed the free space. “That right?”
Growing up on the wrong side of the tracks, she’d been fascinated by his tales of crime. Lies and boasts came easy, substituting mob names for his own forays into running a numbers racket and part time enforcer. “The Marty Shaw case?”
Nancy’s eyes flicked at him suspiciously, “What do you know about it?” His wife had taken him on as a student social worker project to reshape his life and gotten pregnant in the process. Marriage seemed a good cover.
On the surface Dennis got saved by Jesus, networked business church goers into an under-the-table lucrative crime syndicate franchise construction and road building contract business. Favors given and received made everyone happy except for the occasional sore loser like Marty Shaw. “He was a bad dude. Knew him when I was young.”
Dennis launched into a remember when tale so winding and dry Nancy’s eyes glazed over. “Never mind.”
“I’m going out. I’ll buy dinner before coming back.” She’d lost interest in her husband after she’d reshaped his life. Their son, at thirteen was being shaped up by a military school, having failed the administrations of his mother. Andrew Wright was her new cause celebre’.
“Sure. Have fun. Go solve the Marty Shaw Case.” Dennis knew his wife and the police detective were having an affair. The videos were a handy bit of potential blackmail if things got dicey about his part in what happened during the local murder. The relationship had its uses. Nancy kept him up-to-date with police insider information. Nice.
Waking up by means of having a gun barrel tapping the side of your head brings you instantly aware and alert. Dennis saw his own death written in the back of Andrew Wright’s eyes. “Poor staging,” he said. “Messy doing it in my own bed. I can tell this is your first time.”
“You never changed,” said Nancy. “You got worse.”
The pistol whipping hurt. The loving couple wanted everything he had, all the connections, payoff’s and proof of wrongdoing. Those higher up unknowns hidden beyond exposure would want to stay that way.
In the end, he gave the lovers what they wanted. They were digging their own graves. The balance would be broken between Dennis and the power structure. Mayhem. He wished he could see who did whom with what.
In the end, we are all misplaced zero's, when we become non-entities.
Nancy's bullet put an end to the thought.
|“It isn’t like the 80’s.” Margo Cline, researcher for the Prime Time TV special on serial killers needed a tasty new hook. For days and weeks, combing online and local news sources were filled with political plunder, an avalanche of civil disorder and marital mayhem but no enticing take on the convoluted mindscape of a newly unearthed mass murderer.
“I’ll pay. Just borrow some police files buried in the stacks of unsolved cases. Nobody will miss them. I’ll do the rest,” but Jimmy wanted more than money. It is why he was a successful recruit on the vice squad.
Margo sweated out being pawed with promises to come and got her meat. Police reports littered her front room floor. “If I have to, I’ll create some of my own.” There was some pretty kinky stuff with teasers of missing people and lurking unknown’s that stirred her imagination.
Way past midnight, a pattern began to emerge. “Why didn’t anyone else see this?” The strange case of who she had named inside her head, ‘Doctor X’ had managed to slip through the legal cracks against being prosecuted but he was guilty as sin. Not only that, but he had a following of clone-like copycats he used to muddy up the tracks of his own sordid deeds.
Where the cops secretly spreading their web to gather him in. Margo knew the local political machine was not averse to waiting until the right time for a public announcement to hide their under the table graft from coming to light. “Double whammy. Get them and the copy of a life time. A two-fer-one.” Visions of a Pulitzer swam before her eyes.
The Doctor X in question, was a Harvard professor with multiple degrees in everything except what made money. He was living way beyond his means. “I’ve got Blackmail. Get the inside story from the serial killer himself.”
A three A.M. phone call woke up the devil, only too happy to meet with her demands after it was pointed out she had enough to crucify him. “All right. I’ll come to your house. I want to see what it is like. Gives me some atmosphere.”
Margo showed up at dawn with Jimmy playing backup during his time off. She was wired in case something weird came down. They’d almost been made late with Jimmy’s re-adjusting the mic between her breasts. “Knock, knock,” she said into the front door’s voice plate.
Young women like her were the killer’s specialty. His eyes lit up when he opened his door. “Great knockers, indeed. Come on in. Would you like a drink?”
The feeling his eyeing her gave her was like she was the fly instead of the spider. Jimmy’s sliding up as Doctor X held the door made her gasp, “What’s?”
“Money talks, babe. The political machine wants you and your tell all show gone. Your Doctor X is adding some cream on top. Plus I get to play with you before he takes over finding your favorite pain points. Neat.”
There were precious few seconds while the two men got in each other’s way. Jimmy had been too busy playing with her nipples to bother actually frisking her. Doctor X, unused to direct threat, opened himself up to her slashing knife springing from Margo’s wrist into the palm of her hand. “Bloody good.”
The feeling of thrusting the blade and twisting it deep into the serial killer’s gut gave Margo an unexpected thrill. “You’re next.”
Jimmy’s gun caught in his waistband, the sound of the bullet going off was masked by his clothes. Margo slid the knife across the policeman’s throat. “Poor aim, Jim. You shot yourself.” She watched life die from his eyes.
It was the photo opportunity of a lifetime. One thing led to another. Doctor X’s home office was rife with knick knacks obtained from previous torture murders affixed to grusome photos of victims. What came in just as handy were names of future planned forays. Highlighting the treasure were accounts of his deeds and ill gotten gains doing murder wacks for politicans.
“Well, hello, pretty beauty.” The latest young co-ed not much younger than Margo shivered, naked and chained in Doctor X’s basement.
“Thank God, someone found me,” The blond wept.
“Yes, indeed.” Margo couldn’t have a witness to what she had planned. Especially after a little torture using Doctor X’s tools revealed this was a student reporter from the U. of U. campus paper with big plans. The girl had almost one-upped Margo. She’d found out in the nick of time.
It was nice of Doctor X to have photos showing off his stylized method of torture. “All the evidence will point to him being your death’s cause.” The girl ended up pleading for her own death. Margo felt a surge of elation at the result. “I’m better at this than I thought.”
Which is how Margo, herself, became the cause celebre’, her show (slightly revised) of the political elite, the police and the public at large.
Even better, with the secrets she held back, blackmail and a willingness to take over Doctor X’s business meant her career of being the next nation’s greatest mass murderer was a guaranteed sure killing.
|entry to the 48 hour Media Challenge
Chasing the reflection of his youth, Johnny never gave up hope of finding that feeling of love again. “You’re such a child,” Emily laughed, giving back his ring. “You’ll never grow up. You are fun, but?” She finished with a sigh and a shrug as if that explained what words could not.
What was wrong with simple things making him happy? When his girlfriend let go and lived in the moment, a sunset became magic. The sight and smell of a blooming dandelion in a crack was a miracle. Life just was itself. No complications about what to become in all your tomorrows. “You are leaving me.” It felt like she already had.
“We can still be friends. It’s great when I need to get away from things. You are the perfect destressor.”
“Have you met someone?” Johnny felt time bog down the moment, making it last forever until he could let it go.
“I tried to wait, to see if you would change. Maybe I was missing the other side of you. Nothing happened. I fought the urge to try and change you. That would just have made us both unhappy.” Emily turned to go.
There was an emptiness where she had stood. Johnny wondered if she felt that too. “Wait. turn around. Look me in the eye.”
There was a toss of her long blond hair. She did. “What?”
Johnny wiped the tears from her eyes. There was something in his reflection shining there. It was the image of his remembered youth.
He wondered if he would ever see it again. “I’ll sober up,” Johnny promised. He already had. If Emily left him, he’d never see his inner child freed again. Her tears found a home in his own blinking vision.
“Oh, Johnny. Don’t cry. I can’t stand it.”
“We’ll work it out, Em. Maybe, we’ll become friends. I think you just unlocked the door to something more. Why does it hurt?” Johnny leaned back with her in his arms.
They studied each other, seeing something new in the way they viewed each other. “I think I like you better when you smile,” Emily brushed the words against Johnny’s lips.
“Life can be a pain, can’t it, Em?” His hand found hers resting in it. They began walking side by side.
“It can be a good teacher. Showing what is important in our lives, don’t you think?”
The emptiness left both their hearts. There was a shadow still there, a wonder at knowing what it would feel like not to be together. Johnny squeezed Emily’s hand reassuringly. “You are my best friend.”
There was a shy return of the favor. “Look, Johnny, the sky made a rainbow through my tears. Did it do that for you?”
Johnny was just glad the sudden storm between them had passed. He felt more confident in meeting the next wild one. He’d found his pot of gold. “I love you, Miss Em. Is that all right?”
“Just between friends, of course it is,” Emily teased. She turned into his arms, snuggled warm and close. Once again there was no need for words as their lips met in a kiss.
“There is no-one else, Johnny boy. There never will be. I had to make sure you wouldn’t let me go. Not a very grown-up thing to do, was it?”
“I love you.” They said the words together, feeling the pain and joy of what the best and worst the world had to offer. With care, they silently each made a promise to keep that light of love in each other’s eyes shining for as long as life would let them be.
|Welcome. This is not an easy place to find, yet you prevailed. The cavernous expanse is a private museum of sorts, a celebration of the history of horror.
Uncle was a devotee with exacting standards. His personal favorite was ‘The Pit And The Pendulum’ brought forth from Edgar Allen Poe fame. There is something about the swing and flash of the scythe passing ever closer over a victim’s center mass that evokes a timeless picture of imminent doom, does it not?
A contender of my own is ‘The Man In The Iron Mask’ as provided by Alexandre Dumas. To wear such an apparatus for years, prisoned in relative silence and isolation and still remain sane would be a difficult task, indeed. Experiment has revealed it is not easy.
No, I read the question in your eyes. Uncle was not a fanciful man chained to literature. He remained bound to history more than not. The implements of torture used during the famed Spanish Inquisition, the screw, rack, so many heavenly devices find their places here with devotion.
Yes, you will notice tribute to the true Count Dracula. The man who drank the blood of his enemies impaled on tall spikes along the roadsides way to his castle, to warn others transgressing his land’s boundaries of a similar fate. It is said a whole army of attack disbanded and fled when facing a thousand screaming, wiggling, living remains pleading for death who were posted for review.
Such savagery turned him into a hero with his previously war torn populace. Kindred spirits in heart, I am sure. Enough of speech. You have not come for that. Being a writer of some wishful acclaim in this genre, let me introduce you to ‘The Red Room’, an inspiration to your craft. You will be staying here to break whatever writer’s block prevents the opus from erupting inside you.
Certain preparations have been made for your stay. You will experience each of the other rooms either directly or by way of observation witnessing how they work. The only requirement is that when you recover, you put pen to paper. We provide the blood as ink. It may be some of your own prized possession recovered from an excited state. The task of creation is demanding.
Fear is an excellent and time proven motivation. All earthly limits of imagination fall away at its entrance. The likes of the mass murderer, Theodore Bundy, with his willingly charmed victims is instructive. You, a visitor to this realm, will carry on my Uncle’s passion. Here we are. Let me unlock the door. The Red Room.
Surprisingly bare at the moment. Sleeping on rock and drinking from this trickling ice cold stream is enough. You have just moved in. You will be seeing blood red soon filling your vision, both when asleep or awake. That is the sign you are onto something. The hollowed out space yields only it’s ceiling and floor of long toothed stalagmites and stalactites. They await your command to be fashioned according to your taste. I look forward to your addition to our other rooms of state.
What would the act of writing be if it were all tell instead of show? Pity, No famous scrawled manuscript that. A rock to sit upon, another slightly larger used as table, have been provided for. The skin of prisoners like those used by Ille Kock, wife of the commandment Buchenwald concentration camp to make lampshades fashioned for that purpose, will be provided you as blank pages for your text.
My Uncle started a tradition I carry on in a simple well focused manner. Here is a list of our growing number of rooms now made ready. I am sure yours will be equally inventive. I will begin with simple fare by way of observation rather than requiring you take part or perchance not, depending on your revealed nature.
Set your meager belongings down. I will leave you to ponder. Ring the bell dangling from a hangman’s rope when you are ready to share which room you would prefer to visit first. Until then, I bid you adieu. I am sure it will become everything and more that you imagined. Welcome to your second home, horror devotee.
|Daily SCREAMS!!! win
“Religion. They are at it again. Did you hear the news?” Anthony Parker mopped up the last of his runny eggs with a piece of toast chomping it viciously into his mouth.
His mother, Harriet Parker, stood at the sink, washcloth in hand, cleaning up breakfast. “You’d better hurry or you’ll be late for work. First day on the job, and all that.”
“How can people believe this stuff? Brainwashing is what it is. End up cutting off people’s heads in the name of the one true faith. Can’t understand why you think there is a God.” Anthony rolled his eyes.
“You’ve got egg on your face. Brush it off and be off. It was hard enough getting you this job without you making fun of it before you even start.” Harriet bit her lip in the mid-act of uttering a silent prayer.
They’d had this conversation before. She relied on the meagre offerings the church provided for food, clothing and medical assistance. If Anthony rocked the boat their suffering would be ten fold. “Are you sure you don’t want me to go with you?”
Anthony jerked away from the breakfast table as if shot. “Mother. I know how to push a broom and use a mop. Please. Just don’t tell Beth what I’m doing when she calls. You know we are just getting serious. I told her the band had a gig and I’d be away.”
“You lied to her? That’s blasphemy and no way to build a relationship.” The washrag in Harriet’s hands twisted into a knot like the one she felt in her stomach. The telephone rang. Both looked at it as if it were a living thing.
“You’ll be late. Go. I’ll handle it.” The phone called out again.
Anthony nodded by force of habit at the commanding tone of his mother’s voice. His feet obeyed. “I’m only doing this for you, Mom. Please,” and he was gone.
“Hello? Beth? You just missed him. What? Take a message? Sure what is it?” Harriet was glad the girl was in a hurry. If questions came up about the gig, no way was she going to lie for her son. It would only make matters worse. “Let me get a pencil and scrap of paper.”
“Yes. I’m all right. Thanks for asking. Just a twinge. Goodbye.” The pained gasp at the end of their conversation as she wrote the message down wasn’t from the cancerous growth eating away her insides. She stared down in horror at the words she’d written.
“Going to a day long demonstration about LGBT and women’s abortion rights.” The location was at Harriet’s own church. Anthony would think she was to blame. She could have used her health condition to force Beth to care for her instead.
“God? This is in your hands.” Harriet let the phone drop. Her pain in her abdomen felt intense. Knives were sharpening each other down there. All thought of warning Anthony fled. She made it to the medicine cabinet, body slick with sweat, fumbled open the morphine container and swallowed.
“Anthony. What a surprise. Did your mom call? It is so good of you to be here. What’s with the broom?” Beth shoved a protest sign into her boyfriend’s hands. “Neat. You dressed as a janitor to get us inside. Weather will be beastly today. We can hold a sit down without getting cold and wet. You are a doll.”
The tipping point happened fast. Shots rang out from the group of counter protesters. Bullet holes tore through the ‘Black Lives Matter’ sign he held. Anthony swung the remains at the rush of faces coming at him, feeling a grunt of satisfaction as the handle stabbed into a pressing body.
“Anthony? I’m hit.” He felt Beth cling to his back, her warm blood rubbing her against his body. The flash of news cameras made him blink. The riot engulfed him with the sound of police clubs hunting for order, cracking skulls, adding to the mayhem. It became a bloodfest.
Half trampled to death, Anthony struggled to rock Beth inside the janitor’s closet. The smell of smoke from thrown torches mixed with tear gas edged from under the closed door. They were going to die. “Hold on, Beth.”
He stared up at the chipped figure of the Virgin Mary stored in the closet until it could be repaired. “Pro life,” he wept and swore.
Glass shattered down over him and the girl he loved from the closet’s broken window. “Anthony? Are you there? It’s your mom.”
“Yes. Thank God you brought a crow bar.” The long end swung against the window frame, knocking it loose, tumbling it free.
“Don’t blaspheme, Anthony,” Harriet urged as her son began to swear, while pushing Beth up and rolling her out into his mothers arms. The force knocked both of the women down.
“Got to get her to a hospital. Can you walk?” Her son was there helping Harriet up. The two of them wrapped Beth’s arms around their shoulders. The three limped away, leaving the blazing church behind.
“It’s a miracle.”
A doctor on the way to work had set up a triage in the hospital emergency parking lot and treated Beth there. No-one but pandemic patients were permitted inside. The bodies of protesters, counter-protesters, police, and innocent bystanders littered the area. Beth was one who would survive. Burn victims were still being brought in.
“It is a worse cancer than the one I’ve got. Let us pray.” The horror of living through what they’d just had to, was etched deep in the pain lines on Harriet’s face.
“We can’t stay here. It is starting to rain and hail again,” Anthony eased Beth into the back of Harriet’s old Plymouth, helped his mom inside and began the trip back home.
“I’m sorry you couldn’t make your gig, Anthony. Thank you and mom for saving my life. We did right.” Beth’s bandage was seeping blood again. She looked startled, threw up an eruption of blood, gargled more and fainted.
“Turn around. The doctor said we could use his name. He’ll do what he can.” Harriet offered a pain pill to Anthony like it was taking the sacrament. “God will provide or it is meant to be.”
Anthony cursed under his breath. His knuckles whitened on the steering wheel. In the rear view mirror he watched Beth’s face soften and whiten, her breath fluttering as he rolled his eyes.
|Daily SCREAMS!!! win
It all happened so quickly. One moment, Jeremy stood on the ladder with his paintbrush and the next he lay dead with a broken neck. Things do change rather without notice most of one’s life, he supposed.
Like, for instance, he hadn’t realized his wife, Juliette, had been having a torrid love affair for years with his brother, Jack. “I would have thought living day to day with someone that long, I would have felt something amiss,” Jeremy ruminated to himself at his own funeral.
It was less pomp and ceremony than a gay affair. Few showed up from work. Apparently they were not notified nor where his set of friends. Juliette sat hand in hand with Jack comforting her in a most decidedly more than friendly set of caresses under the widow’s black dress. “Couldn’t wait an hour.”
Jeremy trembled with pent up growing rage. No sentiments were expressed at his passing to the great beyond. His body was tipped, slid with no fanfare, into the crematorium fire. With a wrench of parting sorrow the ghost was cast adrift and the body once vibrant with health was gone.
Again, there was no greeting from loved one’s across the vast beyond. Jeremy floated alone, following the couple he had thought trusted companions back to what he had been his own home. “Must be a reason I am being kept here instead of gaining my heavenly reward. I wasn’t a bad bloke, neither was I a black hearted demon.”
Forgotten, misplaced? Whatever the reason, Jeremy was on his own, except for the company of Juliette and her lover making whoopie next to him, in what had been Jeremy’s bed. Hearing the comparison the widow was making of his own sexual prowess compared with her lover’s, set the ghost on a new other worldly path. “How do I haunt these two into meeting as an item in a lover’s suicide pact?”
Ghost tales were not a common theme of movies or books Jeremy had read. Vague thoughts of rattling chains, throwing things around rooms and taking over bodies came to mind. “I suppose I’ll have to experiment. I wonder if Jack’s wife has a suspicion of these goings on.”
Mind travel happens instantly. He found himself drawn to the presence of Mary Anne, hovering as close as her next breath. “I wish I could read her thoughts. She looks a little worried and depressed.”
And just as suddenly, not only could he do so, but in a strange way, he became what she was thinking about and a part of her. “Poor Jeremy. At least, now that he is gone, my Jack won’t be over there constantly helping him and that bitch of a wife with another home improvement project.”
The ghost felt startled into realizing the inner disposition of this neighbor. He had an ally. With a gentle nudge, Jeremy seeped into the woman’s next thought, “I wonder what’s keeping Jack?”
There was a resistance from Jack’s wife, into going over to Jeremy’s house. This haunting business was different than how Jeremy thought it should work. All he could do is enhance a settling feeling of unease. Being a ghost, he was mere suggestion. This took work.
It would be lovely if the woman walked in on her husband and Juliette mourning his passing while comforting each other in bed together. He knew Jack was a gun nut. Surely there must be a pistol close at Mary Anne’s hand, there for protection from who knew what.
The thought brought a flash of memory to the fore. There it was, a pearl handled .32 short nose special in the drawer next door by the bed. Now, how to bring it to the woman’s attention and to her hand?
The wish faded into impossibility as Mary Anne shivered, rubbing her arms as if they were frightfully cold. Jeremy was thrust out of her consciousness. It had been nice not feeling alone. Still, it was better this way, he realized. Only a bad sort would turn an innocent bystander into a murderer.
“I wonder what Juliette is up to now?”
Jeremy had never gotten her to try ‘that’ position. From a distance across the bedroom, it looked quite humorous and a little disgusting. The moans coming from Jack proved it was otherwise from his best friend’s vantage point. “My, God,” Jack shouted along with Jeremy the ghost.
A vortex of swirling rapture captured Jeremy and drew him in. The release of Jack’s orgasm spun the man’s soul fancy free. For an instant the two met before Jeremy swept in place and battened down the hatches, locking his best friend out. “Well, hello.”
“Strange, you sounded, like Jeremy, just then, sweetheart,” Juliette struggled to free herself, rising up for air.
“Jack. How could you?” Mary Anne’s voice cracked along with the sound of the pistol raised in her hand.
Dying the second time, was much like the first. The change happened fast. The difference was in finding himself not alone. The tableau reverberated in Jeremy’s soul. Watching Juiliette’s ample breasts blossom with a fresh red rose shaped hole between them was followed by feeling the jerk of Jack’s body react to a bullet through its skull.
Jeremy, free as a ghost once again, flung himself into Mary Anne’s next thought. “No. it is what they would have wanted.”
The woman’s trigger finger twitched where it rested the pointed gun at her own head. The gun fired on an empty chamber and Mary Ann began to sob. “They deserved it,” Jeremy thought, letting the sweet feeling of revenge wash through them both.
A foreboding darkness filled the room with the scent of death. Jeremy watched in horrified consternation. The spirits of Jack and Juliette pulsed in fear as the darkness scattered into the shapes of demon shadows jerking and tearing at the two’s lost souls, tearing them apart.
Jeremy fled within Mary Ann’s heart of hearts, a quiver of a gasp sucked in where the woman bit her fist thrust against her mouth. “She saw it, if only for an instant, the visage was shared through my ghostly presence, just long enough.”
Mary Ann had saved Jeremy’s soul. He resisted her impulse to call the police. “Look in Juliette’s bottom drawer.”
There was more to the sordid truth than a lover’s knot. Jeremy directed Mary Ann to paw through the revelation of Juliette’s intimate attire. There at the bottom was a sealed envelope. “Jack’s fleeting regret told me what to look for,” Jeremy licked Mary Ann’s lips in anticipation. The woman seemed barely conscious of what she was doing.
There was the evidence of Jack’s taking he and his wife’s life savings, of Juliette rifling the same with Jeremy’s and her own. The couple’s plan to knock off Jeremy and Mary Ann before Jeremy’s untimely death were all written down in the finest detail. Nothing had been left unplanned. “Poetic justice,” Mary Ann and Jeremy’s thoughts became one.
Mary Ann’s future was plain to see. The documents revealed hers was the combined fortune. The plan to get away with murder needed only minor instant changes to make it real. The lovers had quarreled. A suicide murder was the result. “Just so.”
Jeremy found it an easy existence prodding Mary Ann through what to say, how to act when the police got involved. No, she hadn’t known a thing. She’d been home on the phone wondering what was taking her husband so long when the police came knocking at her door. She had no idea about the plans the couple had made. It was all so devastating how so many lives had been torn apart. “I think I will have to move. I can no longer live here.”
To Mary Ann, she felt like a guardian angel guided her through the passing events. She sold her home. Sbe felt a new spirit inside her at times. There would be new haunts for her to explore in the coming days, new wrongs to right, The item in question? The dark deeds quivering for release in the hearts and souls of those she came into contact with.
A rather ridiculous figure, you may have seen her wearing sackcloth and ashes, haunted by her thoughts, standing on a park bench with a sign reading 'Repent' and shouting herself hoarse about sin beckoning dark demons wanting to tear you apart.