Up

image by me and Midjourney

Up

Emil Laughner had the same dream every night: he would wake to use the bathroom, and while standing over the toilet he would look out into the back yard through the window. But the back yard would not be there. Confused, he would pull up his shorts, still dribbling, and head to the back door. When he opened it, a cold wind would slap him in the face. Balls good and shrivelled, he would walk out onto the porch and see down below, far below, the fields of his property. His house was in the sky, and not just floating. It was rising. It rose higher and higher and he could see the lights of town and then more and more lights but by then he was scared and he would rush inside and stupidly grab the phone to call for help. But of course there was no dial tone, so he would run back to the bedroom and jump into bed and grab the covers and hide under them like a little kid again, crying and praying.

And then he would wake up staring at the clock. It said 3:23 every time. With not just a little trepidation, he would go to the bathroom and try and piss while peering through the window. Beyond, in the gloom, he could make out the back yard and the fields beyond. After he finally forced his bladder empty, he would go back to bed and lie there until dawn, wishing he could fall asleep but also dreading it.

One, he told Clayton about the dream. It had taken a lot of nerve to work up to it, and when he did — over their daily coffee and eggs, which Clayton always ate sunny side but Emil switched up now and again between scrambled and over easy — when he told Clayton, Clayton laughed until he coughed up brown phlegm. Emil never mentioned the dream again, to anyone.

It went on like that for weeks and Emil was sure he would eventually go crazy, so he decided to take control of matters. That was, after all, what Margaret had always expected of him. “Take control of matters,” she would always say whenever he had some trouble with money or farm hands or the law. Truthfully, more often than not it had been her that had taken control of matters. But she was gone now and he was the only one left to take control of matters.

So one night when he had worked up the nerve, he made a pot of coffee at damn near midnight and drank one cup after another. He sat on the porch, rocking in his chair against the autumn cold with a shotgun across his knees and he checked his watch every few minutes for hours.

At 3:19 he felt it.

The house began to shake. Not bad, not like an earthquake. Just a vibration, like a train going by. It shook like that for a minute or more then stopped. Emil shot up out of his rocker and headed toward the porch stairs but it was too late. The yard was already forty feet down and moving away fast. On the one hand, Emil was terrified, but on the other, he was glad to know he wasn’t mad.

Emil didn’t run to hide under his covers that night. He stood on his porch and watched the world fall away until the air got cold and thin.

His last thought was about Margaret and that maybe he would see her again soon. His next to last thought was about Clayton and how that son of a bitch wouldn’t be laughing tomorrow.

She Sees

She Sees

I wake. I masturbate. I shit. I eat. I dress. I go. I work. I work. I work. I return. I undress. I eat. I shit. I masturbate. I sleep.

She speaks to me. She sings to me. She gives me dreams. She fills my empty void. She heals me. She wounds me. She hurts me. She comforts me. She loves me. She commands me.

I wake.

“Rogers,” says the smelly man with the beard, “someone shat all over stall 13. Go clean it.”

I clean the explosive offal from stall 13. All the while, I imagine my hands around the man’s hairy neck. I imagine his stink growing sharper with fear as he dies.

“Rogers,” he says, “someone puked in stall 9.”

I clean stall 9 and salivate at the thought his mouldering corpse.

I return. I undress. I eat. I shit. I masturbate. I sleep.

She blesses me with her visit. I see her in all her glory, her beauty and her vast wisdom, a void of white where a mind should be. I am entranced. I am aroused. I wake. I masturbate.

“Rogers,” says the woman with the cold scowl, the one that never smiles, the one that judges. “You aren’t a good fit.”

I leave. I weep. I spit. I mutter. I swear. I ignore the ones that look at me on the street. I hate them. I hate. I hate. Hate.

I eat. I shit. I mastur—. Dammit. I lay awake. I weep. I wish. I mast–. No. I cry. I spit. I rage. I swear. I beg. Eventually, exhausted, I sleep.

She judges. She scowls. She disapproves.

I beg. I worship. I vow.

She demands.

I agree.

I wake. I masturbate. I shit. I eat. I dress. I go. I fire. They run. They scream. I fire. They cry. They beg. I fire. They yell. They command. I fire. They fire. I fire. They fire. I die.

She smiles. She embraces. I smile.

Night Terror

art by me and midjourney

Night Terror

I was asking Brad Pitt — well, it wasn’t Brad Pitt, it was my high school soccer coach being played by Brad Pitt — why we had to use an inflated rhinoceros testicle for the ball in our game against South Southington. I was just about to point out his nakedness and suggest we turn up the steam in the car when my eyes shot open.

The dream evaporated. I started to turn over onto my back but found myself tangled in my sheets. I realized I was soaked with sweat but felt cold and wondered if the furnace had gone down again. When I actively went to sit up and literally could not, my chest tightened and my skin prickled with goosebumps.

I became suddenly aware that breathing was difficult and imagined for a moment a weight on my back, pressing me into the mattress. No. I didn’t imagine it. There was a real weight on me.

That’s when I felt the presence.

The sensation crawled up through my mind from the deepest part of my lizard brain. It was the feeling that a rabbit gets when a hawk’s shadow crosses it in the field. It was the dread that comes with a certain smell in your own shit that you know means you are sick. It was the deep and inescapable certainty that something is lurking in the gloom just beyond the edge of shadow, just outside of your peripheral vision.

I let out a shuddering breath and I felt the presence shift its attention. It suddenly focused on me, as if it became aware only at that moment that I was conscious and that its malevolent intelligence found this to be — what? — amusing?

I very much at that moment did not wish to be awake.

How I knew I could not say, but the presence was curious. It did not want to know my name or anything personal about me. No, it was curious how I would react to what was coming next.

Something slithered beneath my skin, like a muscle that wasn’t my own spasming and undulating in ripples from my groin outward. It was as if a thousand thousand worms or snakes wriggled out of my balls and crawled through my muscles until they could escape through my eyes and nose and mouth and ears.

The presence noted how I wished to scream but did not allow it. It simply went on exploring me, head to toe, inside and out, violating my every orifice and organ.

Until, with no preamble, it was not. The weight on my back lifted. The invasive internal touch stopped. I could move.

But I didn’t. I did not shift or turn. Nor did I sleep. I laid there, shivering, weeping, dreading the return of the presence.

Cloud

“Cumulus,” said Stacey.

“Right!” said Dan with the beaming pride that only the father of a 6 year old daughter can radiate.

They lay together in the park with neither blanket nor picnic basket. It was an impromptu excursion, after all. It wasn’t Dan’s day, after all. In fact, he wasn’t supposed to see Stacey without Eleanor being present. Which was ridiculous. She was his daughter, for God’s sake. What sort of danger could he possibly put her in? None. Obviously. Eleanor was the one who burned through a bottle of wine every night and who went home with strange women and who forced her daughter to go to a prison like school full of nuns and rich brats. Why couldn’t Dan see her? Why couldn’t he bring her to the park–

“That’s weird?” said Stacey.

“Huh?’ asked Dan, blinking himself back to the present.

“The cloud,” she said, “it looks like it has a tail.

Dan let his eyes focus on the sky again. He found the big, bulbous, weird shaped cloud they had been tracking as it floated over the park and then tried to let his atrified old brain see what hers was seeing. Tail? Did she mean like a dinosaur, or like a monkey. But when he tried to force the cloud into a shape, it just wouldn’t fit.

“There,” Stacey said, pointing like he could see through her eyes. Kids…

Dan suddenly held his breath. He sat up slowly, blinking. He could see that the look on his face was draining the wonder and joy from Stacey’s expression. She went stoic and pale. “Daddy?” she said.

“Shh,” he hissed.

There WAS a tail on the cloud: a long fleshy tendril that hung down from the center of is white fluffy form. It wasn’t an elegant jellyfish tendril or a muscular octopus tentacle. Instead it was a jointed and bulbous thing, like a finger with a thousand knuckles that had recently sloughed off third degree burnt skin, leaving only pink flesh and watery blisters.

“Daddy,” Stacey said again.

“Jesus,” said Dan. He sat bolt upright and grabbed her by the wrist. She squeaked in paina nd fear and resisted but he pulled himself to his feet and started to run. “Come on,” he said while she cried.

The cloud lowered itself toward the city. The tendril swept the streets. Dan couldn’t see what happened. He was too busy running. But he heard it, even from the great distance of the park, even through the muffling of the trees. Screams — horrible, pained, desperate, dying screams.

Heavy Petting

art by me and midjourney

Heavy Petting

We drove down Manor Street with the headlights off. The moon was bright enough to see by, at least enough to avoid the exposed catch basin frames and so as not to overshoot the cul de sac. Some developer had run out of money after putting the road in during the last crash so there weren’t any houses, just overgrown lots, a crumbling road, and hundreds of scattered beer cans and used condoms. Luckily, no other cars were at the turn around and I pulled to a stop at the far end.

Tricia — no, Tonya — did not waste any time. She had been rubbing me the whole way and as soon as I stopped she all but clawed me out of my jeans so she could swallow me. “The moon is pretty tonight,” I said because I thought I should say something while she worked up and down, hands and mouth. She grunted like she agreed but kept working.

I felt myself start to get close and pulled her up. I wanted to be cool and tell her to take off her dress when she said, “I want you to fuck me on the hood.” I started to say something, but I don’t know what stupid shit would have come out of my mouth. I didn’t have to embarrass myself, though, because she added, “Doggy style,” with this funny, almost hungry grin and I was speechless.

Her skin was so pale in the moonlight. At the bar I hadn’t noticed that she wasn’t wearing anything under the sundress, but now I could see it all. She jerked my jeans down around my knees, swallowed me again and then slid slowly and full of teeth off me. When she turned around and crawled on all fours onto the hood she made this growling sound that almost made me go off all by itself. When I lifted the dress I admit that I did, a little.

The scent of her was so strong, like an animal musk, I barely thought, and just thrust forward into her. She reached back and grabbed my hip with one hand to pull me deeper. I remember feeling bad because I knew I wasn’t going to last long and my older brother had always told me, “Let them come first.” There was no way, though. Half a dozen thrusts and I was on the verge.

That was when the pain hit. My hip burned like fire and the immediacy of my climax receded. “Don’t stop,” she growled. I mean, really growled. I didn’t realize until that moment that I had been doing it with my eyes closed, trying to concentrate on not going off. So I opened my eyes.

Her beautiful, pale-skinned ass against my hips was now covered in dark brown, soft fur. The hand that held me hit was long fingered, cruel, and ended in wicked nails. My hip and buttocks were bleeding as she squeezed. “Fuck me!”she growled again, turning, showing me her white teeth and yellow eyes.

And, well, I did. After a moment of pure shock, pure terror, I felt myself stiffen again and I started driving into her. The pain in my bloody hip was suddenly pleasure and her velvet covered muscles felt so good against me. She howled and I howeld and we came.

I don’t remember much of what happened after, except that she turned on me suddenly, fully human again, and kissed me deeply. She pulled her hand up from my hip and sucked the blood from her fingers. Then she looked up at the moon and said, “See you in a month.”

I fucking hope so.

The Door

created with midjourney

We found it while searching for Emily Dansforth. She was the third child that had gone missing in the last 6 months. We were expecting to find shallow graves, but instead we found this: a door to nowhere, looking like something out of Grimm’s fairy tales, just out of sight of but still within earshot of the highway.

Ms. Farnsworth, the social worker we had brought along because we thought we might have found one or more of the girls alive, said, “The wall isn’t deep enough for a door. What’s beyond it?”

I wanted to scoff. I wanted to tell her she was overreacting and that she should go back to her comfy office couches and leave us, the real cops, to our work. But I couldn’t. I just looked at it. Ancient stairs, tread by uncounted feet, led up to a gaping maw of an arch. Maybe it was ceremonial, my mind said. Light some candles and incense and everything would make sense. But it didn’t. That thing was a door. No doubt about it. But it didn’t go anywhere. It just sat there, a hungry darkness, inviting and terrifying all at once.

Dr. Byram from forensics spent three days at the site. He took samples of everything. He took shoe impressions in the soft ground leading to the… portal, I guess. He took lichen scrapings and found some blood droplets and even what looked to be human vomit near the ”door.”  After a week of analysis he pulled me aside and said, “I don’t know what it is, but if I were you, I would let it go. They’re missing. End of story.”

I wish I could. I wish I could imagine them abducted, strangled, raped by some sick fuck who was, at the end of the day, just another broken human being. But here I am, staring into the blackness. I know there is something more. I know there are answers on the other side. I know that it isn’t just a sculpture. I know it is, in all the senses of the word, a Door.

And, fuck it. I am going through. I have to know what happened to them.

Fear the Night of the Return of the Walking Zombies

It’s October! Spooky Month! That means 31 days of flash fiction, vignettes and fragments for your reading pleasure — with accompanying AI generated art! I am starting off with the lowest of low hanging fruit: Zombies. Enjoy!

—–

The first time you see a horde (hoard? — shit, I can never remember) of zombies (I know, I know, we aren’t supposed to use the “Z word” but come ON) the thing that gets you isn’t the thing you think will get you. First of all, it isn’t that they are dead — because they aren’t. At least, not like we think of as “dead.”

People know “dead” even if they have never seen a dead person. Maybe your cat died, or you had to go to an open casket funeral. Or maybe a squirrel got crushed in the road in front of your house where you stood waiting for the bus and no one ever picked it up and nothing ever ate it and it just was THERE, every morning of second grade, for MONTHS, and since it was fall it didn’t even rot it just lay there, bloody and smashed and — anyway, where was I?

Right, people know DEAD and zombies aren’t it. Dead doesn’t move. Dead doesn’t even hint at movement. It’s so still it is eerie. It is, I don’t know, slack, like gravity has taken full control. But zombies move. They don’t move RIGHT — they shuffle and they jerk and they grope and they lurch — but they move. They aren’t dead. They are something else, and whatever it is, while it is horrible and disturbing, it isn’t dead.

It isn’t even the rot which, don’t get me wrong, is gross. Especially in summer. I mean, Jeezus Motherfucking Christ, the smell and the maggots and the, I don’t know, oil? pus? Whatever that drips out of them. But that is just disgusting. That isn’t what gets you.

No, the thing that gets you when you see the horde (I’m sure it is h-o-r-d-e) is that they are HUNGRY. You can sense it immediately. That shuffling and jerking I mentioned? It is in YOUR direction, with a purpose. They want to eat and they want to eat YOU. Not since the African savanna fifty-thousand years ago have we been honest to God prey, but we remember. Deep down inside, we remember what it felt like to be on the menu, and zombies bring it right to the surface.

I think that’s why so many of us don’t make it past that point. We freeze, or we run blindly. We can’t deal with being on the menu and freak the fuck out. And it always leads to a mistake: trip and fall, sprain and ankle, end up with your back to the wall, whatever. That real terror takes over and then you’re lunch.

And then you are one of them.

So, if you find this, read it twice then leave it for someone else to find. Maybe one of you will live.