Once upon a dark and stormy...

Yelling Unheard

Illustration by Sam Beck

Dear Ghost:

Your aged-old tactics don’t scare me. Stop jumping from corners. Stop opening your mouth to yell. I can not hear a word. Your weak attempts to get me to leave are silly. If you want my attention, you might try being nice. Greet me with a hug rather than bulging eyes and decaying claws. Try to smile. And… Happy Halloween.

~Frustrated Tenant

Wedding Day Portrait

Bonded ox-hairs wet into a smear of ashen-pearl. Victor muses over his listless subject… her flat-sable gaze and overwhelming pungency. Over peaked shades of plum, he delicately strokes, asserting the translucence of her skin. THUDDD!!! She topples hard from the chaise. Victor unwieldy jigs across his canvas, cursing, “Thorns and nails!”

“Yyyyyg! Fetch more rope forthwith. And a tighter knot this time!” singing smartly.

 

 

The Protégée

Illustration by Anon D’mowlse

Red anger swirls inside.

This is my studio, my artwork, Damnit! If that twit says we once more, I’m going to scream! That nervy bitch dares criticize the crimson I use for blood… and to a patron?!!

I’ll show her blood’s true color!

Behind the studio, sharing a smoke, I slid my palette-knife across my protégée’s carotid, splashing a canvas.

The piece sold instantly.

 

The Scarer

Illustration by Vaigh

I choose the most lit and safest home tonight; I crave the challenge. Costumed princesses and hobos bobbing for apples while parents check for unwrapped candy; I study their fears. Their quivering lips and racing hearts belong to me ‘til dawn. Childish illusions amuse me, knowing their tears and whimpers aren’t far off. They’ll not forget me… my return will always see to it.

Halloween Madness

Illustration by Anon D’mowlse

Noises scrap across attic floorboards.

Climbing splintered wood into forgotten shadows,

Dank mold and dusty perfumes assault my lungs.

My shutter-eyes adjust to dimness.

Squinting, I crawl towards scratching noises under dark sloping eaves.

Tiny skeleton-hands withdraw into inkiness.

My skin slithers as my long-dead daughters’ face shoots out, snarling. Not possible!

Black eyes glint, her sharp fangs hurtle!

“Twick-‘r-Tweat, daddy!”

Madness swallows me

 

Battered

Illustration by Anon D’mowlse

A bottle of spirit in one hand, my hair in his other. He dragged me from my roots into our bedroom.
I pleaded. I begged. I cried.
He removed his belt; I shuddered at the sound of its shearing friction. Deliberately, he wrapped the leather around his right hand, the steel buckle left dangling.
My name is Mari. Today is my one year anniversary.

 

 

 

Game with Charlie

Illustration by Anon D’mowlse

Peek-A-Boo! I see you.
Run and hide… there’s no way out.

Scream and shout… not a soul can hear you.
Feel my breath on your neck? Your hairs are standing on ends.
Naughty child, do hear those muffling cries next door?
Metal chains clinking… nails scratching down the wall?
Come and see… join the fun.

Let’s play all night long.
Peek-A-Boo… I see you.

 

 

One Pebble

Illustration by Benjamin Hill

Sakiko hesitates. She stands on the threshold of his World Bank office. She has been here often.

Sakiko waits. He is not here. She feels his presence – perhaps it is the lingering scent of clove cigarettes. Her eyes settle on the Balinese Barong mask. Its expression is less sinister today. The Javanese shadow puppets no longer seem trapped; they are fluid, daring…

Like Sakiko.

Halloween Traditions

Illustration by Taverner Scholar

There’s a full moon tonight, and the air is cool and crisp.

Bright, colorful, dried up leaves crunch under little feet.

Jack-o-lanterns glow with happy and scary faces lighting up the dark paths. There is laughter and squeals all around as children, dressed in their costumes, gather together to collect small pieces of sweets from each spooky house.

Hours pass as the candy overflows.

 

 

 

Love Story

Illustration by Anon D’mowlse

Just a boy who loves a girl.
Or a boy who loves a boy.
Maybe a girl who loves a girl.
Either way, it’s a love story.
Two souls unite as one.
Through the good and the bad.
Until death do they both part.
A love story is just loving someone else wholeheartedly.
No matter what gender, religion, ethnicity.
Just love. Forever and always.

Antiemetic

Illustration by Anon D’mowlse

Lionel feels natural remedies are best. He stirs warm milk in the rusty pot; the ginger has steeped for an hour. Each torturous round of treatment is more horrific than the last. He hacks and gags reaching for a cigarette, milk still astir. He plugs the smoke into the gaping orifice of his throat; the cancer had played dirty. Yes, natural remedies are best.

molted-cat-coats

Molted Cat Coats

Illustration by Sam Beck

We have two cats

and they molt their fur

wherever they walk.

If we gathered it all

we could stitch a cat coat.

Molted Cat Coats

These coats

might become all the rage

named after the breed:

The Tabby

The Siamese

Or maybe after the cat:

The Isabelle

The Chester

To get the business started

what we really need

is a reclusive cat hoarder.

The Empty

Illustration by Anon D’mowlse

A blank page.

That’s the scariest thing.

The need to fill the space.

The compulsion to make it less…

Empty.

Because the empty can swallow you

The empty will eat you alive

The empty speaks of forgetting

The empty speaks of things to do

Of the lost and the unfinished.

That’s why the empty scares us.

More than anything.

That is why

The empty.

The Ticker Regatta

The Ticker Regatta

Casey hopelessly flounders behind his younger rival who suddenly lifts his oars and stands, letting’er run; they share a reverent gaze as Casey overtakes him.

Casey awakens to a sore chest and his doctor listening to his heart. “She’s sounding strong, Case.”

“And the donor, Doc?”

“College kid. Smart…an athlete, I think.”

“Crew?”

Doc reels, startled. “Yeah.”

Moving Together

Illustration by Anon D’mowlse

Sweat dripping, their bodies move together in unison. They breathe in quick gasps, occasionally slowing to moans.

Biting her lip in anticipation, she cries out: “Nearly… there!”

With an inarticulate grunt he gives a final thrust of his huge organ and then they collapse in a flail of tangled limbs and self-congratulation.

“Next time… you want to move this… damn piano… ask… someone else!”

The Right Day

Illustration by Anon D’mowlse

“Today the day, Tom?”

“No. Not yet.”

“Tomorrow?”

“Yeah, maybe.”

“Geez, Tom! I thought you’d decided. You got the vodka, pills, plastic bag… a hose in case you use the car.”

“Damn it, some days are good, some days are bad. I’ve got to be sure. Trust me,” Tom winks at Tom in the mirror. “You’ll be the first to know.”

Tom winks back.

Value of a Dollar

Illustration by Anon D’mowlse

My little boy needs diapers. Rent is past due. The phone was shut off, then the water, and now the heat. Winter is coming. If I can’t support my family, can they still call it earning a living?

The clerk jarred me from my doldrums, “Lotto’s huge today; chance your luck?”

He handed me a dollar in change. “No, thank you. Just the diapers.”

 

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