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Sunday, December 30, 2012

THE HIND copyright 2012 m.s.

I heard it's footsteps in the distance, tree limbs being moved and twigs breaking. I turned quickly and saw nothing but six feet of snow and gray gloomy skies. But the sounds of something rumbling through the snow continued. I saw clumps of snow being kicked up like invisible hands were throwing snowballs.

Still, I saw no person or animal.

I was out walking Comanche, a four year old red-haired Russian hound I had inherited from a friend from mine when I was in New york as used car salesman. Gnarly Dave, we called him because of the strange arrangements of his crooked digits. When Dave died, Comanche had no where to go, so I took him in.

This particular day, for some reason, didn't feel right. I woke up with a weird rumbling in my head. A bit like rolling thunder clouds, and when they collide, it's massive noise that shakes the entire area. I had that in my head. Taking headache tablets did nothing to alleviate the problem.

Comanche shook me from my bed, forced me to walk him in ten degree weather at six thirty in the morning. At first he wanted only to walk through the front yard of the cabin. Then he took off screaming and howling at nothing visible. I chased after him, calling out his name until my voice was nearly gone. He led me into the wooded area behind the cabin. I'm about four hundred yards from the next house that sits in the valley below. Around ten miles from town that has one school house for every grade, a police station with one cop, a truck stop cafe for lonely truckers carrying logs to the paper mill forty five miles away.

Comanche disappeared. I heard him howling, trying to sound like he meant business. Where did he go? How could a red haired dog get lost in a white back ground?

I saw it.
It just appeared out of thin air---materialized as they say in books. A red coat deer with a touch of white on the chest. The deer was long, muscled animal, two small nubs for horns placed just inches from each ear. It was beautiful. But, it also had five legs.

Yes. I said five legs. Damn, it looked weird. That extra leg was attached to its tailbone, resting so confidently between its normal two back legs.

I marveled at it for several long minutes. I thought for a moment I was caught in some kind of dream state. I heard Comanche off in the distance, his deep vibrato voice sounded like he was in a well. I started to feel strange....light headed.

Then I heard the gunshot.
Everything went black. As I hit the cold frozen ground, a warm sensation was dripping down my forehead to my chin.

“Oh God!” I heard a man's voice break like he was just reaching puberty. “Are you all right?” I felt hands on me, patting me down, until the cold digits were touching my neck. “I'm really sorry, mister---”

I heard him burst into a high-pitch whine, followed by uncontrollable sobs.

When I came to, I was lying on a couch, my head bandaged as if in a hurry, a towel and surgical tape kept the bleeding from seeping out. I opened my eyes to a round faced woman with rosy-cheeks and a long white neck. Her skin was unblemished, her large brown eyes complimented her honey brown hair.

When I tried to move, the woman gently eased me back on the couch. I was sore, but I really think that had more to do with my fall than getting shot. Every bone in my body ached.

“Hey....” I heard that same man's voice that stood over me after I had been shot. “You're awake. Grand.”

He appeared, placed a hand on the woman's shoulder. She smiled at the man, touched his hand with hers.

“Where am I?” I asked in a whisper. I closed my eyes for a moment to ease the throbbing pain in my head.

“Why, we are neighbors,” The man said. “I'm Jack Dann. This is my wife Clara.”

“Hi,” She waved to me and gave me a warm inviting smile.

“Your Evelyn Williams,” He said with chuckle. “Glad to meet you.”

“How did you know my name?” I tried not to wheeze when I spoke.

“I told them,” A voice called out from the kitchen. I recognized it as Sheriff Hahn. Hahn walked in the living room eating a sandwich, mayonnaise covering his fish lips. “You had us scared, Evelyn.”

“Just what the hell happened?” I adjusted on the pillow behind me.

Jack gave everyone an uneasy look. He released a heavy sigh. “I shot you,” Jack licked his lips. Clara rubbed his arm consolingly. “Most assuredly an accident. Swear to God,” Jack held his hand up in a testimony.

“The bullet must have grazed you. Because I got that deer too.” Jack said, pumping out his chest, very proud of himself. “Got it hanging in the barn. When it's ready I can give you prime cut.”

“No, I'm not so sure I can cook it right.” I told him. “Should I go to the hospital?' I said to Hahn.

He chuckled. “Well...if you want to, Evelyn. I don't think you need to.” He continued to sloppily eat his sandwich, mayonnaise dripping from his chin.

“I can cook the deer for you, if need be,” Clara piped in.

“Clara's a great cook,” Jack assured me.

Something caught my eye. I rose up slightly, looking out the living room window.
A woman with long brown hair and olive skin, was standing in the snow wearing nothing but a thin teary cloth dress. She was looking straight at me. I shivered. It felt like someone had just walked across my grave.

She spoke, her full lips moved in slow-motion. I could hear her voice echo my head. I felt a jabbing pain throughout by body, tiny needles. I squeezed my eyes shut. It helped to ease the horrible sensation.

एक जीवन के लिए एक जीवन .....

I reopened my eyes, and the woman was gone.

“Did you see her?” I screamed, tried to lift myself from the sofa and fell weakly back to it.

“He must be delusional,” Jack said.

“He needs rest,” Clara said. She shushed me as I tried to speak again. She tossed a blanket over me, sat at my side. “The two of you just go in the game room for awhile. Let him sleep.”

“I have to get going,” Sheriff Hahn said, placing his hat on his head.

I closed my eyes, drifting to sleep, still hearing that mysterious woman's voice in my head.


Six months down the road, I became pretty good friends with Jack, Clara, and Sheriff Hahn.
I ate at Jack and Clara's house twice a week, fished with Hahn in the spring every weekend when I was off from the bottling plant. Clara would come over to my cabin and clean up behind me, and when Jack was away visiting his family in North Carolina, she stayed with me. I grew quite attached to Clara. Even at one point discussing our feelings for each other. Then, of course, realizing those feelings were a deep friendship two lonely people were experiencing.

Sheriff Hahn also became a very dear friend. I was with him when his wife Dee was diagnosed with breast cancer. Hahn was not as needy about friendship as Clara and Jack. He just needed someone to sit with him in silence at the jailhouse to play cards.

In my spare time I became very obsessed with that deer I’d seen. A rare type, indeed. A fifth legged creature only reported as a mistake or freak of nature. In myths, it was stories told how a young woman in Indonesia had died of a horrible disease. She was reincarnated as a red coated deer traveling from village to village curing the sick, or killing the arrogant who did not praise her for her sacrifices.

I had talked to Jack many times about that strange red deer he killed. He couldn't remember anything about it. He said the meat wasn't even edible, Clara had to throw it out. That fifth leg? He always laughed it off, said no way in hell that deer had five legs.

As for the mysterious woman, I have seen her a lot over the last six months, whether in my dreams, or just appearing in a room where I am. Always the same. She would speak, and I could not understand a word she spoke. I wasn't sure, but I believe the language was Arabic or Hindi.

एक जीवन के लिए एक जीवन .....

At times, this presence from the woman, would turn me into a mad man. An obsessive who could not leave his home, didn't or wouldn't see anyone for days.

I'd had one such episode the events that have led me to this final chapter to the story.

Jack came to my cabin nearly knocking my front door down.

I opened the door and he flung himself inside bawling.
“I really fucked up!” He screamed at me.

“Calm down, Jack----”

“No!” He sat down on my sofa violently. “Look, Evelyn, I fucked up bad.”

“Jack...just calm down. Tell me what happened,” I offered him a beer.

He waved it away. I opened the bottle and gulped it down.

“Oh, Evelyn....geez, man.”

I sat beside him, put my hand on his shoulder.

He sighed. “Clara...Clara kicked me out.”

“Why? What—Jack--”

“I've been cheating on her,” He said calmly, tears running down his cheeks.

I took my hand from his shoulders.

He continued. “I met her at the cafe a few months ago. The relationship picked up steam and I did a fool thing and said I would leave Clara. Of course, I didn't. I strung Deanna along. I tried to stop...but I couldn't....” He began sobbing loudly. “I guess...I guess you should meet her. She's out in the truck now.”

Still I said nothing.

I followed him out to his truck. I saw the young pretty dark haired girl in his truck....but it was not who he said she was. It was the mysterious woman out there. I wouldn't go to the truck. I wouldn't meet her. I stood on my porch drinking my beer.

I looked at Jack, finished off the bottle, tossed it aside. “Get off my property,” I told him.

“Huh—what?” he was perplexed.

“Leave!” I screamed at him. “I don't want to meet your whore. You hear me? We are through, Jack. No more hearing bullshit stories from you or bragging about family members being kin to historical figures. You don't deserve Clara.”

With that last spear thrown into his side, Jack got in his truck and drove off. As the truck passed by, I could hear his girlfriend say:

““एक जीवन के लिए एक जीवन .....

After a few days, I still couldn't compute the weeks happenings. Loneliness set in my bones again. I needed to talk to someone.

I went to visit Clara. She was gone. The house was empty. The doors were not even locked. No furniture, nothing. No signs that anyone had even been there in a few days.

My terrible want for those I cared for weighed heavily upon me. I needed someone desperately. I went into town looking for Sheriff Hahn.

I found Deputy Gilbert instead. He was very upset. I came into the jailhouse and found him sitting at Hahn 's desk.

“He's gone,” Gilbert said. 'He'd hung himself with his belt over the that cell, Evelyn, and I’m the one that found him,” He fought back tears, sucking in air through flared nostrils.

“I -I can't believe—this....Why?” I sat sat down uneasily in a chair opposite Gilbert.

“He stole county funds. Embezzled the money meant for the police department. The bills...his wife's cancer treatment....he had to do it...I'm sorry i'm saying this, but...he had to, Evelyn. He had to pay all of that shit off.

“No choice.”

I went home.
I was shattered.
I just sat in my living room not know what to do next. I know that week I had missed so much, that they were had most likely fired me from the bottling plant.

No friends.
No money.
No life.

Hahn was right to end it.

Then she appeared.

She was standing over me, her dark hair falling over top of my face. She offered her hand to me. I took it. The room disappeared, only the white of the snow became the background. Comanche could be heard barking in the distance. I was standing outside in the woods like the same day I met Jack, and had been in Clara and his house with Sheriff Hahn. She was still holding my hand. She spoke, this time I understood her.

“A life for a life.....” Her angelic voice was overcome by a thunderous sound echoing through the quiet woods.

I felt a sharp pain in the temple of my forehead. The wind came and whisked the mysterious woman away.

The last I remember was I was lying on the cold ground, a warm sensation running down my face and Jack hovering over me, screaming he'd shot me.

Darkness came swiftly and I was no more.

story featured

my story nightmare box isin the vampire  anthology, you cant kill me, I'm.
 already dead

Friday, December 28, 2012


Dan slipped into an oven and was magically carried into the land of the Gingerbread. He was immediately taken in by the witch Fiona. She gave Dan an inter-dimensional cream pie in exchange for his collection of Jerry Lewis soundbites he had cleverly sewn into his belly button.

Suddenly, the Gingerbread Nazis forced their way into Fiona's house of candy canes and arrested her on the spot, relocating her to a camp for witches to bake more Gingerbread Nazis.

Dan was found by his wife, over baked. She found the cream pie and consumed it.
A one way ticket home.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

THE LUNATIC IS ON THE GRASS copyright 2012 m.s.

They all laughed at Wilkins.
He turned bright red and said, “Why would you not believe me?”
“Oh, please,” Johns told him. “As a child your father kept a Klanse out in your backyard?”
“Those things don't exist!” Mantle bellowed and drank down his whiskey.
We were at the Mud shark clubhouse meeting, initiating a new member named Donald Dollup. Dollup wasn't anyone important in town. He was a young man with big city dreams and just started University. Wilkins and I met him at Rose's bar a few nights ago and he began telling us how he was going to be a big man one day and own the world. Of course Dollup was completely drunk, and...we weren't too far behind him in glasses of beer, chasers of vodka and coke.

That was when the idea to make him our newest member hit me. I pulled Wilkins aside, convinced him that this would be good for the club. He raised an eyebrow, agreed with a drunken nod.

So, were at the club smoking cigars and drinking ourselves into oblivion, when Wilkins spilled a secret.

“Charlie!” I reprimanded him. “Telling your father's secrets. For shame! This is the man, who  not only helped create your life, but cared and loved you!” I shook my head at him, showing disgust on my face. “For shame.”

“Oh, it's a big lie any way,” Johns slurred.

Peter Johns was the town banker. Daniel Mantle built every new building in the town. And I, Douglas Tart, supply everyone in town with goods from furniture to canned peaches and fresh fish. Two other members who tended to keep quiet during meetings were Billings the school superintendent and Rev, Smegly.

They knew better than to get in the way.

Wilkins moved in his chair slightly. He took a long drink from his glass and waved for the servant to fill it with more whiskey.

“Yes....father founded this club to hold secrets for the men of this great town. But it was not the first club this town had. My grandfather formed the first one. Farmers who had experienced the devastating drought in forty years. That was in 1909.

“And then the economic collapse in the thirties. Now, we face harsh times in it's beginning. All the bad luck is because we have turned our backs on tradition.”

“What in God's name is he talking about?”  Dollup said and everyone fell out of their chairs in a scatter of laughter. Dollup laughed along with the rest of them. “What is a......Klanse......anyway?”

“Don't Charlie,” I begged. “Please. Remember tradition?”

“I am remembering tradition,” He threw his half -empty glass against the wall behind us. A servant ran to clean it up and Wilkins screamed at him to leave it be. He placed a hand on my shoulder, rose from his chair. “I am remembering tradition, Douglass.”

He baby-stepped his way carefully to a large bay window with black silk curtains drawn in front of it. He grabbed hold of the strings to the curtains  to pull them open to expose a setting sun on a yard where tangled grass had grown waist deep and old dead gnarly trees intertwined.

Wilkins pointed to the window and staggered  from side to side. “Look,” He whispered at first. “Look I said!” he screamed in the direction of Dollup. “You arrogant little ass....”

“Here, here,”  Johns protested. “Don't insult a prospect----”

“Shut-up! I make the rules, here, Johns. If you don't like the club anymore, then leave.”

Johns said nothing else. He looked around the room for backup. There wasn't any. Johns sank further in his seat.

“You are going to be a big man someday? Change the world for the better? Make better mouse traps. eh? Better wine? Hogwash! The world doesn't change....just you. There are no better mouse traps. You, yes, you don't make a damned difference.

“My father thought the did all of us at your age. My grandfather thought it as well. He purchased a Klanse from the mountains of Austria.. Out there, between the  Alps. This...klanse is a man. Yes. No ordinary man. He is chosen by the demons of the shadow world and the angels of the constant light to keep order in this world. My grandfather used him to keep prosperity in the world, as did my father, as do I.

“If an unsuspecting person is devoured, bones and  flesh...then yes, the town continues to avoid decline.”

Dollup laughed. “Bullshit. I don't You all are pulling my leg. Simply, put, it's bullshit.”

“You care to put that opinion to test, young man?”  Wilkins sneered at him. “Step outside that window and race to the end of the yard, and back to the deck.”

“I will do it.” Dollup stood, placed his glass on the table beside him. He straightened his tie, tugged the sleeves of his jacket. “Not only am I automatically in the club, I want the club and new members. All old cronies are hereby excommunicated.”

 All heads turned to Wilkins. He raised a hand and nodded in agreement.

“Wilkins! There is no reason---” I stifled myself when he shot me a look. I sighed deeply, went back to Vodka  and orange.

Wilkins ushered the others out on the deck after he showed Dollup the backdoor of the clubhouse. He turned to me, said, “Get out here and bare witness, Douglass. It's your duty.”

Reluctantly, I did as I was told. I stood with the other old fools and watched this young vibrant man dash  fifteen yards across high grass and weeds, avoiding several dead tree limbs. He stood there a moment, waiting for something awful to happen.

He faced us, laughing. “Now, I run back, I assume?” Shrugging, he had a  sly pompous smile on on his thin-lined lips.

We looked on. The only one of us that was pleased with himself was  Wilkins.

Dollup sprinted back to us and the deck. He was fast, I can say that. I imagined he ran track in high school and on a scholarship to University.

Out of breath, he shook his head. “This was too easy---”

The Klanse materialized out of thin air and whisked Dollup to the ground in seconds flat. Dollup screamed, tried to fight, but he was powerless. The Klanse had a growl that could rival the largest tigers in all of India. The Klanse tore into Dollup with its long twisted fingernails, blood splattering its naked,chalky- white body. Long yellow teeth ripped flesh from Dollup's throat.

 Minutes later Dollup gave up the good fight.  His  dying eyes were set on us. The last he saw was all of us returning to the shadows, our ghostly presence disappearing completely as the Klanse devoured him.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

THE STRAY copyright 2012 m.s.

“Hey!” Denise yelled at Paul. “Pull over!”
“What?” Paul yelled back. “Why?” They were driving his new-old Mercedes and were feeling more than a bit above the rest of the neighborhood. They were on Reynolds and had turned down Flyer just at Dunkin Donuts when a yellow lab caught Denise’s eye.
“Look at that dog over there!” Denise said excitedly.
A thirty-two year old woman should not act like a five year old,Paul thought.
He did as he was told, never the less, because if you didn't do what Denise wanted, it became a fight even bigger that Frazier/Ali.

“It's just a dog,” Paul said.
“It's not just a dog,” Denise opened the passenger door. “It's our dog.” She rushed out of the car and called the yellow lab. The dog looked like it had been through hell and back. Parts of fur on it's back was missing and the tail seemed to be shaped funny. Paul was not enthusiastic about acquiring a pet, let alone a mangy dog that looked like it had been abused.

“Denise...come on? Don't---”

She didn't listen. She went on calling to the lab, chased it down. She sat on the sidewalk a few feet from the Mercedes, making friends with it. Finally, after ten minutes, Denise came back to the car and opened the door of the passenger. She ushered the yellow lab in the back seat. The dog looked around, worriedly, not sure of his new adventure.

“Damn it, Denise!” Paul screamed. “I just bought this car and now a mangy mutt is getting my back seat dirty!”

“Drive, will you! Just drive!” She screamed back.
The tires squealed, the Mercedes sped off to the nearest stoplight on the other side of the street.
The yellow lab settled down in the back seat, licking it's lips and keeping it's eyes on the two humans in the front seat.

“What if this dog belongs to someone?” Paul said after several minutes of silence.

“He does,” Denise said smugly. “He belongs to us.”

They lived on Seaside, which had now become a gated community. But their house was modest and if his mother had not bought the house in eighties before the gates went up, it would have been bulldozed long ago by the community commissioner. It is run down, green paint chipping away, and the roof sagging a bit. Paul had said for at least a year he would hire someone to fix up the house.
Denise told him, “It better be soon. The community is ready to vote us out.”
The house is flanked on both sides by two very tall, luminous, glass buildings. One a bank, the other a complex of townhouses.
Still, they lived in Seaside. Trendy, and a cut above normal.

“I think his name will be Sam,” Denise said after breakfast the next day.

Paul looked up from his IPAD knockoff, pushed his glasses up on the brim of his nose. “Sam?” He twitched a little. “Why Sam?”

“Why not?” Denise shrugged, grabbing dirty dishes from the table and placed them in the sink. “I had an uncle who had a German Shepard. He was named Sam.”

“Yeah....well, I had a boss at the gas station when I was sixteen, and he was named Sam. Biggest dick I ever knew.”

Denise poured herself a cup of coffee, sat at the table across from Paul. “A boss, huh?” She mused. “Yep. Sam it is. You better get going,” She told Paul. “You'll be late and those little gas stations need to be managed or I don't get my weekly allowance and you don't get your three times a week to lay on top of me.”

Paul rose from his chair, cradling the IPAD in his arms gingerly. “You are so crude,” He snarled. Then went out the door, slamming it behind him.

Sam lifted his head up out of groggy slumber. He watched the two humans. Denise flicked off Paul as he drove off. Sam smiled sheepishly, and bit at a flea on his left back leg.

Denise turned to Sam and folded her arms. “Fucking men!”

Sam laughed. “Yeah. I bet you don't know about the other bank account he has, do you?”

Denise's face fell. Shock settled in. She pointed a finger at Sam. “The dog just spoke....”


After dinner, the house was quiet. Paul sat in his chair in the living room playing around on his IPAD, and Denise was upstairs in their bedroom watching TV. Sam was lounging in his dog bed, laying on his back, his right leg kicking once in awhile. Then he awoke suddenly. He sat up in his bed, his ears raised slightly. He was staring at Paul.

“I have something to tell you,” Sam said in a deep calm voice.

Paul looked at Sam and flashed a brief smile. Then he realized his dog just spoke. Paul slipped his IPAD in the chair beside him. He scowled.

“Did you just say something?” Paul whispered.

“Who else is in the room with you?” Sam asked.

“Dogs can't....” He began, coughed, and started over. “Animals can't talk.”

“Then what the hell am I doing right now, Paul?”

“No.....” Paul's eyes grew bigger. He let out a nervous giggle. “I must be---”

“Crazy? Well, yes you are that. And no, you are not dreaming.” Sam told him. “Can we just get on with this—get this over with, huh? I mean, you see me talking, you hear me. You see my lips moving. You don't need any other proof.”

Paul climbed out of his chair and crawled across the beige carpet, on his hands and knees toward the dog. He was dismayed. But Sam didn't give Paul a chance to revel in his possible insanity.

“Look...i like you kid,” Sam told him. “That bitch of a wife of yours has another.”

“Did you just call my wife a bitch? She really loves you.” Paul said.

“Hey, I don't really care, you know. I mean if you are okay with another woman sleeping in your bed---”

“What the hell are you saying—I'm asking a dog this? I think I am loosing it.” Paul felt tension between his eyes. He closed them and pinched the bridge of his nose. “I feel a migraine coming on.”

“Get a grip of yourself!” Sam screamed in Paul's face.
Paul blinked. He thought a second. “You said....another woman?”

“You got peanut butter in your ears?” The dog said, licking his lips.

She did have that incident in college, Paul thought. That's where they met. She was in his business class. They had the same interest: money. She had this one roommate, Gloria, a real butch cunt that always controlled everything Denise did. One night, after Paul asked her to marry him, Denise came clean. She said she was confused and really loved both of them. She wasn't sure she could leave Gloria behind.

Yeah...and that's when Paul's roommate Clive came in handy. Clive was a horrible druggie who would steal whatever he found of Paul's and sell it for crack. Paul had Clive buy some crack, fix up a glass pipe and break into Gloria' s bedroom. Paul called Detective Brownstone and.....well, Gloria was out of the picture.

“You should read her E-mail.” Sam said. “Look at her Facebook picture album. You might find--”

“I've seen those pictures of Denise and Gloria reuniting a few months ago. I approved it.” Paul told the dog. He was lost in thought, trying to make sense of it all.

“Oh,” Sam laughed. “So you know she had lunch with Gloria the other day?”

Paul snarled. “She said she was visiting her dad. She was gone until the next morning.” He stood suddenly and kicked the sofa.


“Fuck,” Richards said to Detective Brownstone. “Two days before you retire and you have to see this.”

They were in the hallway of Denise and Paul's house. The wall behind them was covered in blood. Paul lay at the top of the stairs, the right side of his face was blown off, He held a.38 snub nose in his left hand. The gun was still warm in his hand.

Denise lay on her back in the doorway of her bedroom, a large pool of blood caressing her. A double barrel shotgun held in a death grip.

Brownstone sighed, looked upwards as if to say to God, “Why?”

“You knew them, or something?” Richards began writing in his notepad describing the scene.

Brownstone nodded. “Yeah. I've known the husband for years.” He was choked up, fumbling his words.

Richards felt something lick his hand. He looked down and saw Sam standing there, wagging his tail enthusiastically. A smile came across Richards pock marked face.

“Hey!” He said in a sing-song voice. “Where did you come from? Ain’t you the prettiest thing!”
He bent down on one knee and rubbed Sam' s head and neck with his hands. “If nobody claims you, I outta take you home with me, buddy.”



Friday, December 14, 2012

BOBBY'S FIEND copyright m.s.2012

Bobby saw the fiend peering out from behind the large magnolia tree. This happened on the playground at school. The fiend was tall, very thin with large, black bulging eyes and blood red lips. The fiend was staring at Bobby, digging its long black fingernails into the skin of the magnolia tree. Sap bled. The white gooey liquid ran down the fiend's spotty hand.

The night before the fiend stood at the foot of Bobby's bed and watched him sleep. Bobby just covered his head and prayed the fiend wouldn't hurt him. It's safe to say Bobby didn't sleep much that night.

Earlier in the day, while standing in line for lunch, the fiend tripped Monica Brant. She fell hard on the lunch room floor, breaking her nose. Everyone standing in that line had to go the principle's office and explain what they saw. No one saw anything except for Bobby. He saw the fiend trip Monica and laugh a shrilly as Monica lay on the floor in a puddle of blood,wailing.

But that's not what Bobby told the principle.

He reiterated what the other children said.

Later, at the drug store, the fiend followed Bobby inside. Bobby made his way to the comic books for the latest issue of Detective comics. He looked around the corner and saw the fiend take four Hershey's candy bars and place them in the left pocket of his dingy jeans.

The fiend pointed at Bobby and laughed.

Bobby went to the counter to pay for his comic book, when the owner Mr. Ranse stopped him. He demanded Bobby empty his pockets in front of everyone in the drug store. Bobby placed a comb, chewing gum, a note from Linda Thomas (saying she had a crush on him), and ten dollars and fifty-two cents on the counter. Then, out of his left back pocket were four melted unopened bars of Hershey's chocolate.

Bobby hung his head as Mr. Ranse took the newest issue of Detective comics from him and escorted Bobby out of his store.

Bobby ran all the way home in tears. He ran upstairs past his mother and slammed his bedroom door. He flung himself on his bed and bawled non stop for an hour until he fell asleep.

His mother knocked on bobby's door. She asked if he was all right. He didn't answer.
She shrugged, went into the bathroom.
Looking into the mirror, Bobby's mother laughed shrilly, her large bulging black eyes danced with delight. Licking her blood red lips, she dragged her long black fingernails across the bathroom mirror.

Sunday, December 9, 2012



Saturday, December 8, 2012

KEEPERS OF THE INNER LIGHT copyright 2012 m.s.

Zola wasn't sure about the man who came into her shop an hour ago. He looked strange, with his black ruffled hair and pock-marked face, small screwed down eyes that danced around like a Mexican jumping beans. He was stout, more chubby than muscular, and wore an old tattered army jacket that was too small for him. He walked in between the narrow wooden bookshelves aimlessly, looking lost. He skimmed the pamphlet racks, racing fingers flipping through the flimsy card stock.

Every once in awhile he would lift his head up and his black beady eyes would meet Zola's large brown eyes. She had an odd sensation run through her bones. Almost....a connection.

Zola didn't want to approach him. Especially since April wasn't there. April had worked with her for five years, and twice in that time she was with Zola when the shop was robbed. April foiled one robbery by tossing her hot coffee in the mans face, then smacking him with a deluxe edition of the PICKWICK PAPERS. The second time didn't go so smoothly. April tried the same trick, but the robber only stood there with steaming hot coffee dripping from his scowling face. He smacked April across the face with his other hand, bloodying her lip. They gave him the forty-three dollars from the till and he ran down the street, never to be seen again. The police said that was an unsolved case.

So, yeah, Zola felt safe when April was around, only that day, April was off.

Zola had always wanted to run a book shop, just not a New age book shop. The previous owner, Delores Dean, Madame D, as her followers called her, sold the shop to Zola five years ago with one stipulation: Zola keep the name (SERENITY BOOKS), which was no problem. The second thing was readings. Zola never pretended to know how to do that crap, nor believe in that whole psychic stuff.

At first, it was okay, because Madame D did the reading for the first three months, teaching Zola and April what to say and how to read tea leaves. Then Madame D died suddenly in her sleep. Hell, she was eighty three, and claimed she was sixty-one. She was a very nice old woman, but, as Zola saw it, more than just a ditzy broad----she was crazy as shit.

Zola had been moving away from that New age tripe the past three years,making it more into a legitimate bookstore. And lately, only doing the occasional tea reading when one of Madame D's old weirdo clients would show up. Zola had not had one of them in at least a year.

She sat behind the register on her over-sized plush pillow, watching the strange man on the crappy security camera, hoping he was just a kook and not a shop lifter or worse.

When she looked away from the security camera to get her coffee, then back to it, the strange man was gone. Zola looked again and made a noise. She heard a grunt and the strange man was standing at the cash register, his dim eyes staring a hole through Zola. She jumped from her chair nervously, dropping her cup to the floor.

“I've got something for you,” The strange man said.

“What?” Zola said, fumbling her words. She swallowed hard.

“There's something I'm suppose to give you,” He said in a sing-song voice. He reached inside his army jacket. He took out a glowing oval shaped crystal. 'Here,” He offered.

Zola shook her head, dismayed a bit. “I don't want it.”

The strange man's upper lip curled. “Take it,” He growled and pushed it into her hands.
Zola almost dropped the glowing oval. Light spewed every which way, blinding Zola for a few seconds. When she recovered, she noticed the strange man was gone.

“Hey!” She called out. “Hey, look, I—I don't want this...whatever it is!”
There was no answer. No sound of his boots on the floorboards, or the slamming of the door of the shop. He just vanished.
Zola sat the glowing oval on the cash register. She sighed.

“He just came right up to you and handed the glowing globe to you?” April said, took a sip from her beer.
They were in Zola's studio apartment and had tried to enjoy a movie and a few beers, but this incident had Zola's mind twisted like a pretzel.

“Forced it on me,” Zola came from the kitchen holding a bottle of vodka in her hands. She sat on the puke green sofa beside April. “He forced that damn thing on me. When I touched it, it began to it was alive. Lights just....went everywhere....weird.”

Zola turned down the TV, The Searchers was on, which fit into their criteria of Western night. Every Wednesday was Western night, but lately since April began dating a cook from Gus' bar, the two of them hadn't spent much time together outside of work.

“I'm never going to see the ending to this movie,” April bit her lower lip. “Something always happens when we watch this movie.”

“If you hadn't been with that nutcase, he wouldn't have terrorized us. You could have already seen the ending.” Zola drank straight from the vodka bottle and gagged as it burned her throat.

“ let me know about that every time we have Western night. I know, I know. He was crazy.”

“That's all that stupid thing does,” Zola tried to kick the glowing oval and missed. She fell over on April and quickly straightened herself. “It's like a forever flashlight. All evening...don't laugh..I heard a voice coming from that thing.”

April stiffened. Her dark eyes moved from side to side. “Listen,” She whispered.
They listened together. There was a scuffle coming from the bathroom. Zola breathed uneasy and April shushed her. They gripping each others hands way too tight, leaving red marks pale pink skin. The noise had turned into a sputter, then sounding like someone was scrubbing with a hard sponge on the sink.

They exchanged curious looks.

April stood, pulling Zola to a standing position. She began to walk, but Zola resisted. April pulled again as if she were tugging on a leash. Zola shook her head no. April grit her teeth and lowered her eyebrows. She was giving Zola her “cool Clint Eastwood” look when she was getting upset with her.

Zola sighed, relented.

April led Zola by the hand, slowly to the bathroom. The door was partially closed, only a nightlight provided a source of light. As they passed the closet, April swooped up a baseball bat that had belonged to Zola's brother when he played baseball in high school.

They heard a flutter of wings.
Again they exchanged curious looks.

April kicked the bathroom door open. A tall, winged man in a dark suit stood perched on the toilet
He was shuffling his wings, and had in the small darkness away from the nightlight, held his head close to his folded arms. He lift his head up to reveal a face resembling a vulture. He squawked angrily. Two large yellow eyes were glowing, and in mere moments, had turned to a scorching red.

Zola screamed. She turned April's hand loose and ran for cover. April swung the baseball bat wildly, missing the vulture by a mile. The bat took out the bottles of lotion and other assorted perfumes that were on a shelf above the vulture. It tried to take flight and at that time the bat caught the vulture on the beak.

There was a loud crunch. The vulture's beak split in half. It let out a cry reminiscent of an animal caught in a trap. Black liquid squirted from the wound and sprayed the sink and toilet. The vulture flapped its wings frantically, called out for help in a high pitched squeal. A wing clocked April on her forehead. She spun around and dropped the bat. The vulture fell first to the linoleum floor. April followed, face first in the black liquid the vulture was spewing.

April just lay there, stuck in the gooey black liquid. After a few minutes, Zola slowly made an appearance in the doorway. She gasped, reached down to help April to her feet. April steadied herself with a hand on Zola's shoulder.
She looked back, and the vulture had turned to black soot.

“What the hell, Zola?” April said wearily.

Zola just shrugged.


They arrived at the book shop just in time to open at nine. It mattered little for Zola and April to rush. There was only two customers waiting. A woman in bright green pants suit and an elderly gentleman, who asked a certain gentleman’s magazine that could only be purchased at an erotic goods shop down the street.

Neither was speaking to the other, concerning last nights misadventure. A lot of quick glances and chilly demeanor that would have iced over the floor they stood on. Zola fixed the til. April walked around in a huff, placing books on the shelves that were laying around.

April went to the stockroom to place her lunch in the small refrigerator. Seconds later, she Calmly reentered the sales floor.
“Zola?” She called out in an even tone.

“Yes?” Zola said in her best business voice.

“Could you please come into the stockroom?” April said, moved a few strands of blond hair from her eyes.

“I'm kind of busy, April,” Zola snapped.

“Oh, no you aren't. Not too busy to see this,” April said through clenched teeth.

'Fine!” Zola slammed the register shut. She stomped her way across the sales floor to the stockroom, eying April the whole time.

April stayed, folded her arms, leaned against a bookshelf containing Science fiction books. She counted to five, then heard Zola scream.

Zola backed out of the stockroom, her hand over mouth. She was shaking, holding a green army coat in the other hand. April touched Zola's shoulder, rubbed it gently.

“Was that the man that gave you the glowing globe?” April asked in a whisper.

Zola nodded slowly. “He's....he's just hanging there.”

“It's not all of him,” April walked into the stockroom. Zola followed reluctantly. “I don't know what's going on, Zola. But it's bad. Real bad.

The man was nothing more than an empty husk, naked skin, no bones, that make a human outline. He was hanging from the lowest rafter. Hanging a long metal rod attached to a hook that was embedded deep into the back of what was the man's neck.

Zola wouldn't look at it. She kept her head down, her eyes to her shoes.
“I don't know what to do?” She said, still shaking.

“We have to get him down. Dispose of him.” April pulled on the meaty husk's legs, tearing from the hook slightly. It made a deep ripping noise, and Zola shivered. She took a couple of steps back, averting her eyes from the slinking hanging body.

“What----what about the police?” Zola's voice broke. “They have to know---”

“Know what?” April screamed. “Think about it, Zola. Would you believe a giant vulture in a suit was perched on your toilet? How about a strange man giving out glowing balls and then shedding his skin? Screw the cops!”

April yanked at the man's legs and he came away from the hook, opening up his neck. Black liquid oozed out as the empty husk fell to the concrete floor with a loud thud.

“Oh, God....i'm going to be sick....” Zola cupped her mouth with both hands, pushed by April to the bathroom behind a row of back stock of paperback books.

“For fuck's sake, Zola!” April called out to her. “You need to be tougher than that in this world!
You can't be the fainting damsel in distress and some asshole comes to your rescue!”

The alleyways at two in the morning were not safe at all. April and Zola hadn't much choice, especially if they were discarding a body. Even if that body is only an empty vessel. People generally have issues with finding human remains in their trash cans.

The empty husk was easy to place into a trunk. They just rolled him into a meaty ball and pushed him inside. Of course Zola couldn't handle it. She dashed off to the bathroom to empty the contents of her stomach.

When the bookshop closed, April and Zola loaded the trunk on a dolly and rolled it to Zola's S-10 pickup. As they were struggling to lift the trunk on the bed of the truck, two men passing by, stopped and helped. One with curly black hair chatted April up, she excepted his cell phone number out of respect for his help. Zola, not really interested, had the other, muscle-bound, bald, man talk her ears off. He tried to give her his number, she declined, telling him she was married. He refused to believe it. He also forgot to remove his own wedding ring.

Getting the body and trunk out of the back of the pick-up truck was an entirely different farce. Argument after argument, and an hour later, the trunk was on the pavement. Zola had the lead, a hand gripping the trunk's handle,dragging it across the cobble pavement. April was in the back, pushing. They were headed toward the dumpsters behind a pizza carry-out. They stopped. They heard flapping of wings. Lowly, there was cooing.

The moon had just settled behind dark clouds in the night sky. A harsh darkness had over come them.

“Shit,” April said. “I can't even see my hand in front of face.”

“What is that noise....I'm scared, April.” Zola said.

April sighed. “Me too, Zola.” Somehow, in the darkness, they had found each others hands. April pulled Zola to her. They held each other close. Zola tried to stifle her sobs. The harder she tried, the louder they became. Soon, April chimed in with Zola, only a more raspy weeping.

Suddenly, as if a light had been switched on, a bright orange hue surrounded April and Zola. Seconds later the spotlight grew to show their guests.

It must have been fifty vultures in black suits in a long chain around April and Zola. All of them had their heads bowed, their arms folded across their chests. Their black silken wings were against their backs, flapping ever so gentle, like a cat swinging its tail playfully.

Zola drew in a breath. April cursed in a whisper.

“Don't move,” April ordered.

“I don't think I can,” Zola said. “I'm petrified.”

“” April gasped.

A hundred more vultures had joined the others. These were dressed differently. Most of them wore long flowing, multicolored robes. They carried staffs with glowing balls attached. others were dressed like they were from the sixteen hundreds, short cloaks—hip length---linen shirts with ruffs, doublets with long sleeves sewn in, and stockings with flat shoes.

They were marching down the pavement in a scuttle, all in a long line that resembled a conga line. They stopped and bowed their heads just like the other vultures in black suits. In the time it took those strange vulture people to convene, two more vultures in loin cloths and bare feet came jogging down the alley, holding two long bamboo sticks haphazardly nailed to a throne that would cause Henry 8th to turn green with envy. Upon that throne sat another, more regal dressed vulture, a flowing red robe and several golden chains around its feathered neck. The regal vulture held a staff in one hand and a glowing sphere in another, which the light from it blinded April and Zola when the regal vulture came closer. The conga line parted, the two vultures carrying the throne danced a zig zag, then sat the throne and its honor down gently.

All of the vultures knelt. They reared their heads backwards and a terrible screeching cry sounded from their black beaks.

“What the fuck is this?!” April yelled, holding her hands up to shield the light from the glowing sphere.

“Oh, God....” Zola fell to knees, clutching her chest and moaning like a wounded animal.

They were marching down the pavement in a scuttle, all in a long line that resembled a conga line. They stopped and bowed their heads just like the other vultures in black suits. In the time it took those strange vulture people to convene, two more vultures in loin cloths and bare feet came jogging down the alley, holding two long bamboo sticks haphazardly nailed to a throne that would cause Henry 8th to turn green with envy. Upon that throne sat another, more regal dressed vulture, a flowing red robe and several golden chains around its feathered neck. The regal vulture held a staff in one hand and a glowing sphere in another, which the light from it blinded April and Zola when the regal vulture came closer. The conga line parted, the two vultures carrying the throne danced a zig zag, then sat the throne and its honor down gently.

All of the vultures knelt. They reared their heads backwards and a terrible screeching cry sounded from their black beaks.

“What the fuck is this?!” April yelled, holding her hands up to shield the light from the glowing sphere.

“Oh, God....” Zola fell to knees, clutching her chest and moaning like a wounded animal.

April went to her friend. Weeping, she touched Zola on her back. “Zola, what is it? Please tell me what's going on....”

“She will be soon as she gives us what we have come for.” A voice floated to April's ears, like waves from a calm sea. April rose, dumbstruck. The voice came from the regal vulture. April couldn't place the voice. She thought about it, and clarity and realization came at once. It was the former bookshop owner, Madam D.

“You.....” April pointed. “Madam....D?” She let the name roll off her tongue like a taste of a bad milk.

“My human name....yes. It is I.” The regal vulture said.

April looked down at Zola writhing on the hard cobblestone, still moaning, calling out for help.

“Who are you?” April said.

“If I told you who we were, it would only confuse you. You could never grasp the concept of our nature, nor our reasoning for existence, nor the world we came from. What I will tell you, is that we are not of this world. We were trapped here a century ago, caught in a mystic time slip that hovers between your dimension and...ours. Zola had been chosen to carry the light which will take us home. She can help us in the final stage to carry us back to our world.

“The strange man that had given Zola the sphere of flight, was one of us. He had been a keeper of the inner light for nigh on a decade. He shed his human skin, as I did when the communion became apparent. He then became the protector of the inner light.

“The one who was murdered in Zola's house....”

April flinched, drew in a nervous breath. She remembered what she had done to one of their own.

“One you murdered.” The regal vulture turned loose the glowing sphere and it rose in the air, floated to Zola. It tapped the cobblestone with its staff. “If only you two had followed instructions, you could have accompanied us on our journey home.”

The vultures in black suits hummed menacingly in unison. They turned their gaze to April, yellow eyes turning fire red. From the middle of their gathering, a black suit clad brother levitated, and as if a fierce wind had picked it up and brought it face to face with April. The vulture growled.

April took a step backward, the vulture reached out, three elongated grimy fingers took hold of her face. She winced, fear exploded inside her. April shook violently, tried to speak, instead it was a low whine. The vulture moved its three fingers around her face to find her eyes, and then her open mouth, where those fingers found a home. The fingertips eased itself into her eye sockets, further exploring the two bloodied holes.

April screamed in agonizing pain.

The last finger drove itself deep into her mouth. A powerful light was extracted and entered the vulture's fingers. Electricity unbounded and became a wiry orange fence surrounding him. In a flash the light disappeared inside his chest. The vulture removed its long grimy fingers from April's face.

She fell, lifeless, to the cobblestone, a black ink dripped from her sightless eyes.

Zola hovered above the crowd of vultures in black suits and flowing robes. A ball of bright orange shot from her midsection and tore open the night sky. It peeled open like fingers pulling a grapefruit apart from the center. Still levitating, Zola felt as if she were dreaming. She was groggy, and all the muscles in her body tight, useless. She opened her droopy eyelids, saw the vultures below her disrobing. The regal vulture was first to remove all clothing, spread its wings and take flight. The action was like one long slow motion segment in a Sam Peckinpah film.

The rest of the vultures were soon in the night sky, a hundred or so of them, flying toward that orange light, disappearing into that black chasm.


Zola awoke the next morning, lying on the cobblestone next to April's limp body. Trash men found her. One trash man stayed in his truck and called the police. The other one helped Zola to her feet, asked if she was all right.

She didn't answer his question. She looked up at the sky and said, “They're gone. All of them. They're gone.”

“You need to go to the hospital or something,” The trash man told her. “You hit your head or something.”

A vulture circled the trash truck a few times and landed on the back of it. Zola started to shake, gripped the trash man's hands.

“It's okay,” The trash man said. “Nothing to be afraid of. Can't get rid of those damn things.”

Zola swallowed hard. She shook her head. “They have to go back home,” She said, a wild shrieking laugh erupted from her. “They have to go home.”