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Sunday, July 31, 2011

DIG ME A GRAVE copyright2011 m.s.

                 Crawford was holding the shotgun closer to Kiln's back.

“I don't know why you think this is such a bum rap, “ he said, laughed rambunctiously.

George Kiln was digging ferociously, dirt flying everywhere. He was three feet into it, and the heat was making him dizzy. If only some of the dirt would hit Ben Crawford in the face, he might have a chance at getting the shotgun. He brought out in the desert to dig his own grave, in the sweltering heat, and several buzzards circling above.

He had showed up at the Crawford's General store half-starved and no where to go. They fed him, gave him a job delivering groceries to their customers and a place to stay. Now he was digging his own grave, five miles from the store, out in the desert. A shot gun pointed at his face.

All of this over a woman.

“I think I have lots to be upset about,Bill,” Kiln bellowed. “I'm not guilty of anything, my friend.”

“There you go again,” Crawford breathed deeply. “Trying those mind tricks.” The sweat dripped from his cheek to his shirt that was already sticking to his round body.

“Ain't no trick, boy!” Kiln kept digging wildly, not missing a beat. “Me and Heddy.....we ain't nothin' but friends.”

“Just how friendly, Kiln, is what has riled me. Now shut-up and dig faster!”

Kiln stopped for a moment, tore his t-shirt off. He stared at Crawford.

Crawford burst into laughter. “Get those ideas out your mind, Kiln. That grave is for you.”

Kiln's face fell. He wiped sweat from his face with a hand. “I'm tellin' you,” His voice broke. “I never as much had words with her. C'mon Crawford! We only talk every few minutes or when me and you had a few beers......Oh what's the use!You gonna believe what you want.” Kiln grabbed the shovel and commenced with the digging, only slower, more graceful.

Crawford stepped forward, the edge of his wingtips hanging off the edge. He cocked both barrels. “That's enough, Kiln.”

Kiln threw the shovel out of the grave. He turned to Crawford, stone faced.

Crawford was leering at him. That shotgun was almost touching the tip of Kiln's nose. Crawford laughed. The thought of breaking down and crying, begging for his life crossed his mind. But that sad, sickening smile of Crawford's........that he had the world in his hands. Kiln didn't break.

“Got any last words, Kiln? A man about to die should always get his say the end.”

“Yeah,” Kiln nodded. “Only.....Only....”

“Well spit out!”

“Only if I'm guilty of what you say, I sure wish I had fucked your wife!”

“You son of a bitch!” Crawford screamed. Crawford took another step and fell. While in mid-air the shotgun went off, both barrels in his face. He toppled over onto Kiln, knocking him to one side of the grave before dragging him down. Kiln found himself on top of Crawford, staring down at a bloody mass of flesh that was once his face.

Kiln screamed, clawed his way out the grave, dirt clogs tumbled down the side and on Crawford. Even when Kiln reached level ground, he couldn't stop screaming. A few minutes later, he'd calmed himself slightly, his heart still pounding against his chest.

But Kiln looked over at the pile of dirt, then at the open grave where his persecutor lay. He began to laugh uncontrollably. He grabbed the shovel, pushed over some dirt on Crawford.

“How about some dirt to go with that humble pie, boy?”

Ellie was sitting outside on the porch of the General store. As usual, there were no customers. She was sitting in a plastic chair too small for her, fanning herself with a page from the newspaper. When she saw Kiln she flinched and immediately stood. As he staggered across the desert plains, he waved to her.

“Your alive,” She cried out, more surprised than relieved.
“What happened?” He stood on the porch, swallowed hard.

“He's dead,” Kiln was blunt in his statement. He didn't owe her any more than that. No reason for any sugar-coating.

She bowed her head. Was she praying? Kiln couldn't tell. She looked up. They stared at each other for a few minutes. The silence was appreciated.

“What was it all about?” She said finally, almost emotionless.

No tears? These people are strange. Kiln's nostrils flared. “You don't know, eh?”

“No, I don't. He was so angry this morning. He seemed angry because I wasn't in bed when he woke. I told him I couldn't sleep. It was too damn hot.”

“Why didn't he believe you?” Kiln stepped closer to Ellie.

“I-I don't know.” Ellie took a few steps back. She looked away nervously. Kiln came closer, backing her against the door to the General store. “I never gave him a reason to mistrust me.”

Kiln leaned in, smelled Ellie's neck. The blossom fragrance invaded his nostrils, and Kiln breathed it in. Ellie closed her eyes, repulsed and excited by Kiln closing in on her.

“Somehow,” Kiln's voice rose and fell in a blistering whisper. “I don't believe you.” He wanted to kiss her at that moment, but something more stirred inside him. He grabbed Ellie by her blouse and tore it to her waist, exposing her breasts in a pink pushup bra.

She flinched, but didn't scream.

Kiln pushed her aside, opened the door to the General store. He took Ellie by the arm and flung her inside. She fell to the floor hard. Shocked, she cried out. The flap to her skirt rose up and Kiln froze just inside the doorway gleaming at the opening, seeing the pink flowers on the front of her white panties. He shut the door to the General store, made sure the closed sign was in the window, He turned the lock, and their eyes met. She was like a frighted deer caught in headlights of a vehicle. Kiln had the look of a tiger about to pounce on his prey.

Kiln wasted no time.

It was later that the beating of the rain on the windows and the howling wind woke him. He looked around, saw the shadow of Ellie, naked, with the window open . She was feeling the beads of raindrops dancing on her body that the wind brought in.

“What's going on?” He said in a daze.

“You’re in your room, behind the store,” Ellie closed the window.


Ellie walked toward Kiln, carelessly wrapping in her robe. “So....”

“All of this was not a bad dream then.” He sat up, turned to sit on one side of the bed.

“Oh, I don't. Not all of it is bad,” Ellie sat next to him. She took a cigarette from a pack that was laying on the table by the bed, along with low-lit lamp and several empty bags of peanuts. She blew smoke rings that lingered in the air and disappeared.

Kiln was caught by surprise by Ellie's remark. “You don't seem to be sad about the current stream of events.”

Ellie shrugged. “Sometimes things happen. It's life. You just roll with it.”

The rain continued pound the roof and the wind screamed outside. The lights flickered, thunder echoed in conjunction with flashes of blue and pink lightning.

“It hasn't rained like this in this stinking desert for next to a year,” Ellie blew more smoke rings watched them float around Kiln's head. She imagined one would create a heart shape one day, when he felt the way she felt for him. “When it does, it always comes hard like this.”

“How long you been in these parts?” Kiln breathed in the smoke and coughed.

“Ever since I married Ben. Six years. I met him on one of his business trips in Dallas. I was a waitress in a bar. And out of the five hundred guys who asked me out, I let him take me out. I don't know you could see he wasn't good looking. I guess.....I guess he seemed ...kind.”

“Did you love him?”

“No,” Ellie took a long drag from her cigarette. Their eyes met. She could see in his eyes his next question. “I was fond of him and he could provide for me. This store that had been in his family for years.”

“Now it's yours,” Kiln said.

Ellie touched his arm, running her fingernails gently across the blond hairs. “It's yours too.” She whispered. Kiln stroked her chestnut hair, then slowly her long, white swan-like neck.....touching the soft skin with his fingers. She closed her eyes, sighing at his touch.

Three loud crashes came from the store.

Kiln jumped, removed his hands from Ellie. He cursed under his breath. They looked at each, wild-eyed. Ellie swallowed hard. There was another loud crash. Kiln stood.

“It's coming from the store.....” Ellie barely managed to say it. She felt hard pangs in her stomach. She winced with each pang, grabbed Kiln's arm.

He pulled away. “I'll go see,” He moved slowly to the door of his room. He opened the door cautiously. He could see several displays knocked over and the front door to the general store was left wide open. The window was blowing rain inside and keeping the door flapping against cold soda display.

“Stay here,” Kiln told her.

Ellie nodded, her head bobbed up and down very fast.

Kiln stepped out of his room almost in a leap. He turned fast, left, right---behind him. There was a lull in the storm. It grew very quiet. He took in some air, tried to keep his hands from shaking.

He heard a grunt from behind and felt a hand snatch him by his hair. He was flung to the floor hard. A stinging passed through his upper body. He shook it off, got to his knees.

Standing in front of him was Crawford. Covered in a mixture of mud and blood from head to toe, and the right side of his face had two huge fleshy holes with skin hanging from his cheek. He was grunting, trying to breathe through a nose that was no more.

“Thought you could get away with it!” Crawford spit out. “Take my wife! Take my store! Take!”

Crawford leveled the shotgun at his midsection, placed the barrels at Kiln's forehead. Crawford swung the shotgun as if he were swinging at a baseball. The barrel caught Kiln on the right side of his head. Kiln fell backwards. He blacked out momentarily. He saw Ellie standing behind Crawford, holding a .38. she fired twice, the bullets tore through Crawford's back and out through the front. Sparks appeared at the top of the register where the bullets ricocheted and hit the floor.

Crawford fell over on his face and gurgled.

Ellie collected herself. She went to Kiln, helped him up. He wobbled, saw everything in double vision, shook it off. He looked at her, mouthed the words before he actually said them. She waited patiently.

“K---k---killed that bastard twice....”

“Come to bed,” Ellie spoke fast. She swallowed hard, felt the pang in her stomach again. “In the morning we'll put him back in his grave.”

Neither of them slept.

Ellie held a tight grip on both the gun and Kiln's hand. Not once did Kiln take his eyes off the door to his room.

The storm had seemed to call it quits hours earlier. The clock said six-thirty before they decided to get out of bed to take Crawford back to the desert. They dressed quickly, did not hesitate to talk through the plan. It was known what to do.

Before opening the door, they both took one long gaze into each others eyes. Ellie leaned in and kissed Kiln hard on the lips. He tasted where her lips had been, briefly smiled.

Kiln threw the door open, stepped into the General store. “He's gone,” Kiln said dryly.

Ellie pushed kiln out of the way. “What?!” She screamed. She threw her hands up. “How could this happen?”

No trace Crawford had been there. No muddy footprints.

The displays were not turned over. No product on the floor. No puddles from the rain on the inside doorstep. Everything was as it had been left the evening before.

Kiln headed for the front door.

“Where are you going?” Ellie barked at him.

Not even turning to her, he said, “I'm going to check the grave.” Kiln placed his hand on the doorknob. “Maybe this was a bad dream----”

“No!” Ellie cried out. “Don't!”

“Why not?” He turned to her and took a few steps away from the door.

Ellie was kneeling by a potato chip rack, her hand underneath. She pulled her hand out, gripping something. “Don't bother,” She said, stood up. She showed Kiln the shotgun.

Confusion, then fear ravaged his face.

THE ROADRUNNER MURDERcopyright2011 m.s.

Here in Acme city the noise can be unbearable.

For Willie the sound of buses and trains are nothing in comparison to the noise his neighbor makes. The constant construction, the cars stuck in traffic on the overpass just outside his apartment building can be hard on one's ears, often drowning out the television, radio. Over the last year Willie Coyote was okay with it. He learned for the most part to tune it out. Even if it was hard for Willie to concentrate on his writing.

But that neighbor and his loud jazz playing at two in the morning, the hammering and sawing. Willie hated it, but there was the one thing he heard, even in his sleep, that Willie hated more than anything was the honking.

Willie often found himself sitting at his desk stuck for a word and he would hear “Beep-beep!”

It was more than he could bear.

Willie tried to take it up with the manager of the building. He could not get in touch with him. He tried telling the cops. They knocked on the door and was there inside the neighbor's apartment for two hours. When they spoke to Willie, he could smell alcohol on them. They told him the neighbor would definitely follow the quiet rules during appropriate hours. That lasted a day.

Willie decided to take it up with the noisy neighbor.

He knocked on the door, no one answered. But the door swung open, and Willie decided to have a look inside. There was almost no furniture in the place, save for a wooden chair and an old single folding cot bed in the corner. No television, but an old record player with one record on the turntable. The record was Artie Shaw big band record.. Three big feedbags in the kitchen and a pile of bird feed that had spilled on the floor.

In the middle of the living room was a sculpture of some kind. For several minutes Willie tried to figure out the abstract piece. Most of it made of wood, except photographs cut out and pasted to what looks like arms. All the photos are of different birds with their faces blacked out.

Very strange.

Willie thought maybe it represented a person, until he saw the tail feathers.
Then there were legs, two, made of straws. He looked even closer and saw feather dusters for wings and a cowl on top of a tennis ball. And of course, Willie could not keep from laughing, a party hat for a beak.

Willie doubled over laughing. Tears filled his eyes. Then he heard creaking behind him.

“Beep-beep!” The neighbor was standing in the doorway.

Nervously, Willie tried to explain.

The neighbor would not except any excuse why Willie was inside the apartment. Willie was rushed out in the hallway and the door slammed in his face.

Willie stood out there for a few minutes, confused by what had just happened. Anger filled him up. Resentment. Pure hatred filled Willie's heart.

Soon, sitting in his apartment, hearing big band music and sawing and hammering, “Beep-beep” day and night; not being able to write---- all Willie could think of was getting even with that fucking bird.

Not simple childish pranks. But complete unadulterated, mindless violence to that Roadrunner. Simply put: MURDER.

Willie decided he would buy a gun. He knew a guy on the street corner that sold everything. Willie paid him three hundred for it. The pig stuffed the money in his belt, looked around nervously. “Y-y-y-you can't b-b-be too sure these d-d-days, with the-the-the c-c-c- the fuzz on every corner.”

Willie just snarled, made hand gestures for what he came for. The pig handed Willie a .38 snub nose. Willie held it gently, gawked at it with a malicious smile. He stuffed it in his trench coat, motioned for the box of bullets.

“D-d-don't hurt y-y-y-yourself with that-that thing,” the pig said and giggled.

But Willie was disappointed.

When he got home he loaded the gun. His plan was to sneak in the roadrunner's apartment through an open window and shoot him in the beak while it slept in the early hours of the morning. Willie discovered that the bullets were made of rubber.

Oh, that pig was gonna pay.

For now he still had to deal with that bird. He lay in his bed, tossing and turning thinking of nothing but ways to rid himself of that lousy bird. For weeks he went over scenarios. He ate very little. Only thing he could hold down was oatmeal with half a bag of brown sugar in each bowl. He began popping uppers to stay awake. He had to plan this carefully. Sleep makes a mind weak....and Willie couldn't afford a weak mind at this point.

One day, while watching his soap, it came to Willie. The plan excited him so much he accidentally knocked over his television set. There was no time to mourn it's loss. Willie jumped to action. He ran to the store to buy supplies. Used the last of his money to order from the Acme website.

He spent night and day building his contraption.

Just in thirty-six hours, it was ready. He placed his weapon out in the hallway. It was a wooden box. It stood just a little under six foot. He placed a sign on the front of the box that said FREE BIRDFEED. Below the sign was a red glowing button to open the trapdoor just

wide enough for the Roadrunner's head to fit. The box stayed in the hallway for two days and a night. No Roadrunner, but lots of traffic up and down the hallway. He noticed movers coming and going. They taking the roadrunner's things, not much, just the chair and his bed, but bringing in lots of boxes, furniture, tables, beds, several electronics inside the Roadrunner's apartment.

Still that godawful sculpture was there.

On the fourth day, late at night, the Roadrunner came. He walked right by the box without noticing it. When he was dragging his sculpture down the hall, the sign caught his eye.

He cautiously stepped toward it. He looked around, made sure no one was watching. He pressed the glowing button and the trapdoor raised up slowly. “Beep-beep,” the roadrunner whispered happily. He placed his head inside.

Willy was laying in his bed when he heard echo of the blade hitting the chopping block. He suddenly rose from his bed. Anxiously, willy hopped out out of his apartment.

He ran double-speed to the box. He saw the Roadrunner's limp body hanging out of the trapdoor. A puddle of blood was forming underneath the box. Quickly, he rolled the box and into his apartment. Willie returned with a bucket of soapy water, a sponge, and an Acme blood-disposal kit.

After an hour cleaning, he went back inside the apartment. Now phase two of the plan. Willie changed his clothes. Now he wore a white smock and a hairnet. He dragged the Roadrunner's body to the kitchen, lift it to the counter. He took a meat cleaver from the drawer and went to work.

Two days went by, and Willie had several nicely wrapped packages of meat laying on the kitchen counter. He placed them in a box of dry ice and sealed the flaps. On the outside it was addressed to his cousin that lived out in the desert.

The doorbell rang.

Confused, Willie stood frozen in his kitchen. He swallowed hard. What if it was the cops. No.....Willie thought. No one saw him. Or did they?

Finally he made himself answer the door.

Willie opened the door part way. He peaked out, steadying himself as not to pass out. His quivering hands pushed the door open further.

He saw five shadows against the hallway wall. Standing in front of him were a family. Father, bespectacled, Mother in her yellow dress and apron and a boy and girl behind them.

The Father spoke. “Beep-beep,” He said.
The Mother said, “Beep-beep.”

The kids screamed “Beep-beep” simultaneously while running around in circles.

Willie opened his snout and let out a stifled scream.

THE CITY copyright2011 m.s.


The sun rose at five-forty five this morning and immediately burned it's way through the sky. From my window I had waited three hours to witness this event. Every night it's the same. Hearing the screams of others in this city invades your dreams. Horrible, excruciating screams.

And I never leave my room to find out why they are screaming . At night you never leave your room for fear of being caught by those who own you.

Every morning I walk these streets where the sidewalks melt after every step. I pass by those with half-eaten faces, on their way to a job that doesn't exist or a school that never teaches. I watch those strip others of their skin, and devour their souls. I pass by trees with burning limbs, and blades of grass that burst into flames at will.

With each step the heat grows worse, unbearable. But I keep going. I see cars parked on top of each other, virtually destroyed that house moaning voices that call out for help. I see children playing in the street, poking a man with no arms and no legs. They look up at me laughing, their eyes black as tar. I try not to let them know I am afraid. They can smell fear.

I've reached my destination, just past the church with the inverted cross bleeding. I stand at the gates of the city listening to the voices of my loved ones calling for me. I try to go through those gates, but something will not let me pass, as if I were being held back by an invisible hand.

I look up at the sign on the city gates, seeing the sun's yellow-red rays light up the words HELL.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


In the small hollow of Amelia, the people often speak of the hills with the devil's smile. Three large barren, rocky terrain resemble a man's face and two trees on the very top look very similar to horns. As much as it rains in Amelia, those three hills never grow anything, no grass, no weeds. But at one time it must have, if there are trees.

I was there for the reading of an old friend's will, who had built a house under those devil hills. Guy Franklin and I knew each other as children. We lived in the squalor capitol of the poor at the heart of the meanest city America had ever invented, right in the heart of Amherst, north of Pittsburgh. Both of our parents shared a three bedroom apartment. Both parents came from Italy and both parents had three children each. Oddly enough we were the only boys in the family. Our fathers had met on the boat to America. Traveled together on a train when they were offered a job in the Shipyard. They rented the apartment dirt cheap, because there was no bathroom.

When their families arrived, they made accommodations by hanging quilts to block out the quarters for each family, but the wives shared the kitchen, which wasn't always easy, since they couldn't stand each other. A year passed and my father died in a railway accident. We never knew exactly what happened. I always suspected he was pushed in front of a moving train, since one witness said they had seen him arguing with two men. In the coming years Guy's father assumed father of us both and my sisters, and in that transaction, he gained another wife. Strangely enough, both wives got along perfectly well from then on, and was more than happy to share Guy's father. During that time everyone adopted an American name. I became Tony. Guy was had been Giuseppe. All of my sisters had names picked out of a Hollywood magazine, Shirley, Marilyn, Bette, Ann-Margret. The family name became Franklin.

It wasn't long before things went from bad to worse for us. Guy's father drank heavily. My sister Ann-Margret died from an illegal abortion. And of course Guy went to prison for three years for his part in a hold up of a grocery store.

When he was released, he sent for me. He brought me out to California and set up as a publisher of pornographic magazines by a friend from prison, Benito. Oh yes, there was mafia connections. Somehow everyone is connected, aren't they? I had never met Benito. To hear Guy tell it, the man saved his life many times, very influential for guy.

Okay, I admit it was strange that I should be so dedicated to Guy. And it's not because of circumstances made us brothers, though not by blood. Sure, I had girlfriends. But I never loved them like I loved Guy. I never acted on my affection for him. He wouldn't go for it anyway. He always saw me as his little brother, even though we were the same age.

He lived a good life.

The last few years, I have been on my own. He sent me a letter stating he had moved to the southern part of America, out in “the boonies” as he put it. He had achieved what he needed to create Hell's for those who had crossed him.

I always thought Guy had a screw loose, dabbling in the occult. Black magic. I enjoyed the orgies, but as far as sacrificing chickens and goats, that shit was for the birds. It was his fault for introducing me to Mogu.

It was something Guy had been introduced to in prison by Benito, the same one that set him up in publishing. I never met Benito. When released from prison, he died in a fishing accident. “ Mogu, a belief system old, but not so old it's followers haven't forgotten what powers it contained..” A direct quote from Guy himself. The belief system is an offspring of many religions in the bloodline from Africa that found it's way to the Islands and even in Sicily.

Mogu is the twin Gods who control the destinies of all man in the universe. Chief among it's followers of the philosophy that magic is separate, but equal. Black and White magic is separated only by it's intent and end goals. Mogu twins share the same name, but in your prayers, you either draw a white card and drip the wax of a white candle for protection. Mogu will keep you from harm, or others you mention. If you draw a black card and drip the blood of a black cockerel, in your prayers, Mogu's brother will bring forth your vengeance upon others.

I've always subscribed to the protection of Mogu, one had to wear the sign bearing his name, two circles intertwined, representing the sun. Those who represent the black arts, wear the sign of the sun blacked out by the full moon.
He always wondered who was the one who used the white arts against him. When he found out, he cast me out of his life.

The whole reason for my re-entering my adopted brother's life was to hear his last will and testament.

On this day, I entered his study along with Melinda, his ex-wife, and Verne, his ex-business partner in publishing.

I sat in a red plush chair, Guy's lawyer spoke to each one of us, as if introducing us to each other for the first time. The lawyer went by the name of Dickson, and he knew nothing of Guy's dealings with Mogu. The man was very tall, and had a very bad hair lip that looked as if he'd been caught at the end of someone's fishing line. Melinda had a habit of sniffing and saying, “Mmmm.....?” every time she spoke. She hadn't changed in the fifteen years I had last seen her. Very striking red haired and buxom still. But if we had carried out the plan Guy and I had concocted before she left him the first time, Mogu would be devouring her soul every night for eternity, after which I had shot her in the head several times. But, Guy had discovered he loved her very much, even after leaving him for a Television Evangelist and slurring his name in all major newspapers.

Verne sat next to Melinda, and as always had a tendency to place his hands over her stockinged legs. And as usual she would remove his hands and if necessary, smack the dog shit out of Verne. Verne had aged considerably. No longer a man of great physical stature, but stooped over as if his vertebrae had been demolished.

Verne had stolen almost everything from Guy. All the movie companies that distributed porno’s, the book company that published the taut literary masterpieces Guy was forever in court defending first amendment, the rags that published terrible true and untrue gossip of celebrities. But Verne hadn't taken away Velvet magazine. Because at the time Velvet was not making a profit. Competition with Penthouse and Hustler was fierce. Then Velvet began to publish a lot of fetishes pictorials. That was what got Guy back in the game. Verne's ventures sank in the early 1990's. Drugs have definitely taken it's toll. As well as prison for one of the biggest coke scandals in Hollywood, where Verne was the only one to be indicted.

So we three sat in Guy's study, listening to guy's lawyer go on and on about everyone's attachment and importance to the man who made out his will thirty years before in a french brothel.

“As per the arrangements, neither of the three of you were informed of Mr. Franklin's death,” Dickson paused, wiped a bit of dribble from his chin with a handkerchief.

“We're the only one's named in his will...mmmm...?” Melinda didn't even try to look sad. She was as cold as the night of their honeymoon. I know, because I filmed it for Guy and his social club friends.

Dickson nodded. “ I think this is, perhaps, the strangest will and testament I have ever presided over. It seems Mr. Franklin has some strange beliefs in the afterlife, as well as strange beliefs in the present one of his closest friends and closest enemies. That's how it reads.”

“So, what does the chump want us to do?” Verne said. He was in a hurry to get the money he once had.

Dickson leaned over his desk and handed me a paper with the prepared statement typed nicely. “Would you please read this, Mr. Franklin?”

I waved a hand. “I don't need to read it, Mr. Dickson. I know this all too well. I was there when he wrote it out years ago.”

“Very well,” Dickson slumped back in his chair, wiped dribble from his chin. “Carry on.”

“In the event of my death, Guy Franklin, three of my closest friends, family or enemy, shall inherit my entire fortune, only, but only, if one should survive the Hell I shall invent in my afterlife for each who stands to collect. Any one person could survive with his or her mental standings mostly intact, and of course, alive.” I paused, the other two looked at me as if I'd been speaking in Latin. So I put it as plainly as possible. I sighed, cleared my throat. “We have to spend the night Guy's dead body.”

Melinda laughed. “I did that for ten years, this will be a piece of cake. Guy was always a stiff.”

Verne sprang from his chair as well as he could in his condition.

“I protest! Never will I commit such a vile act!” He bellowed.

Dickson shrugged, once again wiped his chin. “That's perfectly fine. You give up your chance for the inheritance.”

Verne was stunned. “I-I-No! I do not!” He looked away, obviously a flash of a memory swept Verne away. His face was filled with much sadness. Could it be that Verne was sorry about something to do with his once friend Guy Franklin? I'm not so certain of that. People do change over the years , and maybe Verne had become soft in his old age.

“Make up your mind, Verne.” I said. “It's not the first time you've seen Guy incapacitated.”

“Is he going to stay with Guy's body, too?” Verne pointed his cane at Dickson.

Melinda smiled. “I sure hope so,” She said and uncrossed her legs, then crossed them again slowly.

I rolled my eyes. The bitch couldn't help herself. She's always in heat.

“Yes,” Dickson said. “Someone has to bare witness, legal documents to sign.....proof who survived”

“It's no game, Mr. Dickson,” I said. “I assure you that Guy was very serious when he wrote this will. You wouldn't believe what he went through to have everything in it's place.”

“I'm not a believer in Mumbo-jumbo, Mr. Franklin.”

I laughed. “You don't have to, Dickson. You don't have to believe in Mogu. They already believe in you.”

“So,” Verne piped up. “When does this sitting with the dead man happen?”

I sighed. There was a tug of a smile at my lips. “It's already begun.”

“Where's Guy's body, then?” Melinda looked around the study.

I turned to the lawyer Dickson. He made a face, placed his hand under the desk and touched a button. Across the room,Guy's bookcase opened, swinging with a terrible creak that everyone cringed. There he lay behind a sheet of glass, Guy Franklin. He was on a wooden platform draped in red silk from seven virgin girls he had slain by his many accomplices. He himself looked exactly as I had left him years ago. Still with a dyed brown hair on his wrinkled head, and deep

hollow black eyes that would frighten the devil himself. He had a melancholy smile on his face. Did he indeed die so peaceful? Or was the simple fact his plan was coming together? Exact vengeance from the beyond.

The glass wall that was between he and us fogged up. Guy's body degraded into another image altogether. We saw Melinda standing inside a cave, with her back to us. Melinda was startled by this other apparition of herself. She suddenly rose from her chair. The apparition beckoned her with a hand, still not looking our way. Melinda seemed enchanted by this, lost , bedeviled. The apparition began to walk away from the mirror deeper in the darkened cave. Melinda followed, almost at a rushed pace.

Verne stood, tried to catch her by the arm. “Good God, woman! Keep your wits about you!” He screamed.

Melinda shook him off and stepped closer to the glass wall. Dickson seemed to have no reaction at all. He looked on, as if her were watching a film or television. I was bound by my allegiance with Guy to not get involved.

Melinda stepped inside the glass wall, a mist seemed to pass through into the study, bringing the temperature down to a mere thirty or so odd degrees. We all felt a shiver through our bodies. Verne was especially hit hardest. I wrestled my coat from my chair and wrapped the old man. He nodded at me in thanks.

That's when we heard the blood curdling scream. I nearly fell over backwards as my body jumped. Verne caught me by my elbows.

“My God........” I heard Verne whisper.

I turned to see the horrible visage. The apparition's face had been burned, bone could be seen from under rolls and rolls of dead dry, gray skin. It's eyes were a fixed glassy glare, no skin to cover just two large eyeballs staring back at us. It had no lips, but a smile of clenched bone-white teeth.

A mist came over the image. The apparition and the cave was gone. Now only Guy in his death bed was apparent. The temperature was normal again. The glass wall appeared, and Melinda was kneeling at it, sobbing lowly.

I moved toward her.

“Stay back,” She said. “Please....just stay away......”

I placed a hand on her shoulder, she turned quickly to me. I gasped. She had adopted the apparition's horrible face. She stood and ran to the door, found that it was locked. Melinda pulled and screamed, tugging at the doorknob in succession with her screams to let her out. All the while, bits and pieces of flesh fell from her face. One last pull and the door flew open. She ran as fast as she could, loosing her heels in the process.

There was laugh, a maniacal laugh echoing throughout the study. I recognized that laugh. Loud and boisterous. It belonged to Guy Franklin.

“I'm not sure I like this idea.....” Verne's voice trailed off. It sounded as if he was having a hard time talking-----and with good reason. I could see what Hell Guy had created for poor Verne. As he sat in his chair, Verne would die, his body would become a rotting corpse every ten minutes, then start all over again.

“This is too much,” I said, took a few steps away from Verne.

Dickson had come from around the desk. I could feel him behind me. I turned slowly to face him. Dickson was no longer human. He no longer wore a suit. He had become demon whose head was that of a misshaped catfish with a mouth that had been torn open by a fishing hook.
His torso was hairy, but still of human form. His legs were bent, out of shape with hooves likened to a goats.

“Now,” He said, saliva draining from his open wound. “I get to feed from you, slowly devouring every part of your body for all eternity as you beg to be killed.”

He took hold of me by the shoulders and screamed. His hands became engulfed in flames. There was a smell of burnt flesh....not human but a burnt fishy smell. In mere minutes, the demon had dwindled into a small gathering of sulfur.

I heard a voice cry out, and the library swung shut, encasing Guy and his deathbed. I felt a rush cold air which blew away the pile of sulfur.

I moved a hand over my chest where a newly created tattoo of the sign of Mogu rested. The sign that will protect me till the end of my life and well into my afterlife.