Tag Archives: fire

Desperate: A Free Short Horror Story for Halloween

31 Oct

Happy All Hallow’s Eve, spooksters.

I’ve finished up “Desperate,” a short horror story, and am releasing it on Gumroad for Halloween! You can read the start of it here and, if you like it, hop on over to my Gumroad store to download the full thing for free/pay-what-you’d-like.

It’s got monsters, and fire, and edge. It’s got gore. It’s a little bit haunted. And that makes its characters a little bit desperate.

Actually, that’s the title.

fire banner

Desperate

They’d been a desperate threesome. Nikki had made it out first, kissing the world goodbye for the military (an escape to violence that would at least get her pride along with the bruises). Calvin had settled where he was, dropping into the familiar Midwestern monotony of a comfortable desk job with spreadsheets and quarterly reports and a girlfriend who’d fuck him enough that he could forget for thirty sweet minutes about the slipping mind of his ailing mother.

Em had been the first to leave but the last to make it out. If she were really honest with herself, she was still running.

She wondered if the other two were just lying to themselves too. She wondered if they’d really escaped the nights of writhing, trying desperately to claw their way out of their own body while dragging along a splitting mind behind them. Sweating into pillows, tears staining the sheets, howling to the dark from behind a dead smile. Always prepared to jump back into place. Waiting.

She hated spending nights alone. Screaming.

She wondered if they’d really managed to exorcise their demons or if they, like she, had merely managed to become better friends with the devil.

They’d all learned how to hide their scars, eventually. She’d just never learned how to stop making them.

She could imagine what Nikki looked like, underneath. Calvin she wasn’t so sure about. Numbness made it hard to get the truth. She was supposed it was better than his old pain, though. Cold and sharp. Howling.

Some days, she ached for his warmth.

It was very hard not to tell him that.

There was mold growing on the counter. Em frowned and tried to ignore it as she splashed the gasoline over her arm, careful to hold it steady above the sink. Old bloodstains soured their stench up at her. She sighed at the taste.

Em sat down on the leaves, moist and decaying on the kitchen floor. The house was old when she’d gotten there, and the cobwebs in the corner had only begged her all the more to stay. She loved it. Nikki would have, even more so. Calvin would probably hate it.

Em picked a match out of its box and struck it to life. She held it to her skin, setting her left arm aflame. Her dark eyes glittered in the light.

The heat roiled over her curling skin, seductive and swaying. The warmth slowly tingled up to her shoulder, then down to her bones. Em breathed out slowly. Shut her eyes. Whispered his name.

Waited.

Her arm crackled softly in the silent night. Em hoped he wouldn’t be slow about showing up tonight. Gasoline only burned for so long, and she wasn’t going to set her arm on fire twice in one week for the fucker.

The leaves around her crunched lightly, then harder as a body shuffled its way closer. The visitor sat down, and there was silence again.

Save for one deep, tired sigh.

“Em, that’s gross. Cut it out.”

She grinned at the exasperation in it. Em opened her eyes, both of them turned to wells of pupiless black. She looked fondly at her burning arm, pink and blistering now. “It’s beautiful,” Em breathed.

Calvin made a face. “It’s gross.”

“It’s effective. You’re here, aren’t you?” Calvin was silent. Em shrugged. “But fine, have it your way.” There was a snuffing noise, and the flames disappeared, plunging them both into darkness. Em brushed a small clump of ash off her arm, now back to its normal flawless white.

Calvin ran one hand down its alabaster smoothness. Em shivered under the rough touch of his callouses.

“You okay?” Calvin murmured, his voice low.

Em only glared.

Calvin leaned back and sighed again. “Fine. Well, I’m here. What did you want?”

Em swallowed down the pain surging up her throat. She ran her fingers through the gossamer strands of her hair, absent-mindedly twisting and untwisting her curls.

“I… just… wanted to see you.”

Why?”

Em tugged too hard at her hair and pulled a strand loose. “Ow.”

She held the strand up in front of her eyes and stared at it.

“Em?”

She tossed the strand. Looked up. Glanced at Calvin, now standing and ready to leave.

Just like she didn’t want him to.

“She’s getting restless.”

Calvin’s brow furrowed. “Who? Nikki?”

“No.”

“…Oh.”

Calvin crouched down beside Em and pulled her into his arms. “What do you need?” he murmured, pressing his face into her hair.

Em hugged him closer. “You.”

Calvin let out a breath, long and slow. “You know I can’t do that. Shelley…”

Em growled.

“Fine, I won’t say her name. But you know the rules.”

Em dug the nails of her right hand into her left arm. Calvin flickered a little. Em snarled. “Since when do you care about rules?”

Calvin gently pulled her fingers off her arm. Solid again, he kissed her on the forehead and backed away. “You know when,” he whispered.

But Em could hear the sting still in his voice. She knew he was lying.

Even when he was gone, and not even his shadow was left to show he had been there, Em knew he didn’t really care.

Not enough. Not yet.

She could hear it in the dark spaces of his voice. The poison that still pooled in the corners.

Em dug her nails back into her arm and breathed in the smell of his memory.

He couldn’t lie to her.

Not when he was still hungry.

Not yet.

She needed Nikki. Badly.

Finding her was not going to be easy. Nikki had always been the hunter out of the three of them. Lithe and dangerous and predatory. Stealthy and graceful and very, very good at covering her tracks.

But when it came to Em, she’d always been a little bit obvious, too.

The moon was high that night, spilling milky sheen onto the wet floors of the old house through the holes in its roof.

Somewhere, a drip of black water fell from a windowsill. The clink of gravity rippled through Em’s ear, expanding into her consciousness. She shivered as the waves hit her.

Full moons had always made the night an ocean. At least this time she was choosing the drowning.

Nikki,” Em thought, her voice small and helpless and floating. “Nikki, where are you?”

The world was silent as deep water. But one part of it was more silent than the others. Em smiled.

“Nikki!” she shrieked gleefully, stepping through the black space and into reality. A tall girl with short hair glared at her from beside a campfire.

“What are you doing here?” Nikki spat. She glanced around. “And what the fuck did you do with my platoon?”

Read the full text of “Desperate” on Gumroad for free/pay-what-you-want.

A La Frozen: Let It Burn

26 Nov

My apartment is hosting a bunch of people for Thanksgiving tomorrow, and while a lot of the cooking will happen then, there’s some initial preparation that’s already happening. And, well, we’ve already managed to fill our apartment with smoke once. My bet’s on at least three times total between now and Friday.

Joking around our first time of smoke-filling inspired this lovely Thanksgiving parody of Let It Go. Please forgive the bumps in rhythm that happen every few measures; it’s a joke, not a music masterpiece. But I do hope it eases the pain of all of you who are also elbow-deep in giblets or knee-deep in powder sugar mess.

Let It Burn

The cake glows white on the counter tonight

not a helper to be seen.

A kitchen of isolation,

and it looks I’ve got to clean.

The oven starts a-beeping like the swirling alarm inside

Couldn’t turn it off;

Heaven knows I’ve tried.

Don’t let them in,

don’t let them see.

Be the arsonist you’ve got to be!

Grab mitts don’t feel,

don’t let them know –

but the smoke shows!

Let it burn! Let it burn;

can’t salvage it anymore.

Let it burn, let it burn.

Turn and slam that oven door.

I don’t care

what relatives say.

Let the fire rage on,

the burn never bothered me anyway.

It’s funny how apoxia

makes everything breathe small,

and the fears that once controlled me

don’t register at all.

It’s time to see what glass can do,

to test the limits and heat through.

No right, no left, no escape for me.

I blaze!

Let it burn, let it burn.

I am one with the ash and smoke.

Let is burn, let it burn –

you’ll never see leftovers.

Turkey brands,

and turkey flames.

Let the fire rage on!

The ashes flurry through the air onto the ground.

The turkey’s spiraling in burning white meat all around.

And one thought then condenses like a smoky blast –

Next year no relatives come back, the past is in the past!

Let it burn! Let it burn!

Till it breaks the fire alarm!

Let it burn! Let it burn!

The whole damn meal is gone!

Turkey brands

and turkey flames.

Let the fire rage on!

The burn never bothered me anyway.

Fire

26 Nov

Fire

You wake up burning.

The fingers around you singed to the tips,

begging you to turn their ash into words.

You wonder where the smoke was.

Fire is a cathartic being

but a cathode to an anode is dangerous, too –

just ask some suicides.

There is no logic if you can’t trace the smoke

but not many people know those patterns;

that’s why you’re always explaining yourself.

You miss when the world knew,

when your compact body and compact mind

were taken for simple –

or simpler, at least.

And maybe you agreed with them, back then.

Maybe you wanted to.

But the tips are still shaking with those red afterthoughts –

embers. You know their name.

You sit down to paper and let your hands bleed,

wondering what they have to say this time.

Loneliness Hits

30 Sep

Loneliness is a rough sort of rolled-up burning-down summary of life to take a hit of. It’s the kind of hit that leaves you not just coughing so badly you wind up in tears, but somehow proves a bruise-leaver too, on more than just your throat. Loneliness hits that way.

Loneliness is the worst of drags that I cannot seem to ever figure out how to choke down and tolerate. I guess my ears get a little weird, when I’ve sucked down loneliness. I go deaf for a bit, so I can’t even hear the noises of the ones around me. All I can hear is the inside of my brain, and that’s only filled with the noises of people who aren’t any longer here.

It’s a bad trip, loneliness.

The psychiatrists and psychologists, they say it will pass. That we’ll find me an antidote, and I will stop choking on the very air around me as this unending ember of a stick of loneliness dangles from my fingers, unable to be removed. This next set of pills, they say. This next glass of water. This next deep breath.

I’ve taken many a deep breath in my life; loneliness is an insidious pollution, and the smog count grows ever higher. That’s the rub – you breathe in to breathe out what you breathed in, but if there’s no change in air quality, your red blood cells only learn all the more to consent to carry what your heady environment has stuck upon life’s circulation.

Even tears can’t flush it out.

Maybe one day a little white circle will clear all this away.

Maybe one day a fire will burn hot enough to immolate this slow-killing haze.

Maybe one day I will have exchanged all my oxygen for this grey composition, and then I will no longer notice any discrepancy in hue, and I will not remember what it was like before, and I will no longer fight to hold off this desperate coloration, because at least now, in this grey prison, I have something with which to be one.

Or maybe these are all just ramblings, too long a drag off the loneliness stick. I’m starting not to remember much. Oh look, bruises…

Three Types of Hell

7 May

Three Types of Hell

– A Short Story –

My life is a confusing brand of hell.  They’re not all so hard, you know. Some people at least get to know why they’re doomed to an eternity of being burnt about the toes. You’ve got the straight-forward malice types, the murderers, the robbers (sans raisons), the loose liars and the psychopaths. You know, the people who didn’t give a damn about others and so heaped up a whole lot of damnation for themselves. Their souls started burning even before their dead eyes shut.

Then you’ve got the regretters. Or at least, that’s how they think of themselves. They’ve got no grand feat to speak of, just lots of small grievances piled up without remorse. An annoyance here, a slight there. Never any thought as to how treating their fellow humans like a convenience mart might go in the long run, for those fellows or themselves. No, the regretters, it’s almost ironic, their chosen name in their little red-taped clique of the hot place. They spent their lives making being alive just a little bit harder for others. Now they’re spending forever making it harder for themselves. Each and every one of them tucked into the regretter section, a club of mopers and moaners whose only task all the live long day is to trip up the no-longer-a-body next to them. They keep doing what they were doing. It’s just limited to their own kind, now. And these people – bureaucrats, most of ’em – they just sit about regretting. If only they’d known. If only they could’ve done differently. But no, it’s as they told every customer, every broken-down landlady or tired old veteran – they had no choice, the stamp was there, the law in place. Regrettably, they could do nothing.

And so now they do nothing but regret their regretting.

But then… then there’s me. And a few others, here and there. We don’t see each other very often. We’re not the skulking type and we’re too faded to scuttle, but occasionally one of us will scuff along the floor loudly enough for another of us to hear if we’re nearby. We are… we don’t have a name, actually. Because that’s the point of this kind of hell, isn’t it? There is no point. There is no name. There is no reason. We’re all just here. We don’t know what we did. We carry some amorphous, pervasive sense of guilt, but it’ll never coalesce together enough to show us its true shape. We question. And we wonder. Why are we here? What did we do? Was it some wrong choice? We cannot remember taking any wrong path… Did we do another wrong? Look long as we might, our memories show nothing but love.

Or so we think.

So we think we think.

And onward, downward, inward.

There is no escape.

Not that we know where the entrance was, anyway.

It’s a confusing brand of hell, this life of ours. We’re all still trying to do right, even down here. But eventually, our numbers thin, until the next crop comes along. I’m about three generations of influx along. About my time to be passing away, actually. I don’t know which direction I’ll take. The ones who say fuck it all and throw themselves to where the flames burn blue, or the ones who shrug and accept that perhaps their damnation was in fact a small pile of nothing, nothing so significant as to have warranted all that… Malice or minutiae, we all go one way or the other.

It’s hard, scuffling along, your toes slowly turning crisp about the edges. Eventually, you need a reason for why your toes are turning black.