Deadly Ever After

Archive for the tag “short horror stories”

My Infection by Mark Matthews for Flash Fiction Friday

TODAY’S BREW: Hazelnut times a zillion

By Julie

At Books of the Dead Press, I met some great people. Mark Matthews and I hit it off fast and have become really good friends. He also happens to be a fantastic author, and the world is finally figuring it out. His latest creation, On the Lips of Children just hit the top 100 in horror on Amazon. If you haven’t read this uniquely disturbing novel, trust me, do so. You won’t be the same after. Get this book. NOW. http://t.co/mFzbjq8rNL.

NOW GET EXCITED BECAUSE I MADE MARK WRITE THIS CREEPY ASS STORY FOR FLASH FICTION FRDAY. Enjoy.

MY INFECTION

By Mark Matthews

Puddles of mud.
After she confessed her eyes became puddles of mud, like tears had fallen upon dirty eye sockets and left a muddy mess. “Okay, yes, we had sex,” she squeaked. “Three times only. I didn’t meant to. Will you still take care of us?”
Latrice only confessed because she was caught. The paternity test showed 99 percent chance I wasn’t the father. She held the child of Puckett in her womb.
“Will you take care of us?” she asked again. It wasn’t a question, she was giving me a challenge.
“I will take care of things,” I answered, but I didn’t say the rest that I wanted to, which was “because the day I fucked you I caught an infection and now I have it for life.”
“What about Puckett? Will you take care of him like you usually do?”
“Yes, I will.”
I had to. Because now Puckeet has the infection too, and I can’t have him talking smack about me taking care of his baby.
Puckeett spent 3 more days alive before I found him. Suffocation by choking has always been my choice when I want others to think for a moment on whose hands is killing them. Later, they shall swim deep. The Detroit River doesn’t give up its dead easy. And my Latrice loved it when I killed for her.
The birthing room was lit like a spaceship and reminded me of Vegas. No windows. I couldn’t tell if it was day or night only that that hours passed. New kinds of liquid flowed from between Latrice’s propped up legs. She sweat and spasmed, and when the head crowned, I felt both nauseous bile and warm shivers of hope.
There was a one percent chance that the baby would have my ebony flesh. But she did not. In fact, her flesh was so white it was see through. Nearly blue and fucking see through.
A heart condition kept the child in intensive care for days, in an incubater, looking like a frog ready to be dissected. I peeked at her, tried to make eye contact, did make eye contact. This infant seemed to be my very own heart beating in front of me, shriveled with doctors prodding it to keep her alive.
“She’s going to die,” Latrice repeated again and again. “I can’t take this, I can’t see her. You do it, you take care of her.”
I did, and stayed in the hospital and put my finger in the sterile glove and touched an index finger to her forehead.
Where’s my mother? she asked with tiny motions of her incubated arms.
“Soon you will see her. I am here. This is how it is,” I answered.
Days later I brought the child home to Latrice. Life had grown stronger in the nameless infant, but she was still barely bigger than the palm of my hand. At home the child shrieked and wailed as if she held the pain from a thousands past lives.
“This is not how it’s supposed to be,” Latrice said, watching me hold the child at 3:36 a:m: in the rocker on a Tuesday.
“This is how its going to be.”
I slept with the week old flesh on mine. It was skin so thin you could see her insides, like she was made of rubbery glass. I put her on my chest, rocked her until 4:25 a:m: and she beat with my heart.
The rocker was to be where the baby fed, yet it refused to take the breast of her mother.
Medications the baby did take. I injected them into an IV port in her neck. Warnings from doctors rang in my ears. Too large of an injection can lead to affixiation. Failure to administer will do the same.
Latrice curled up into a ball much of the time, like a fetus afraid to be born into her new life. Her hair, unwashed for days, became stringy like a broom. Pill bottles with the prescription label rubbed off sat on the counter. Oxy’s or Xanax or both.
The infant tears came at night, sometimes causing trips to the hospital wrapping ourselves in jackets gainst the cold, only to be sent back home again. Sleeplessness weighed us down like soaking wet clothes.
“This isn’t how its supposed to be,” she said.
“This is how it is,” I answered.
“No. You can take care of this. Take care of her like you do. Make it like it was before. She’s not meant to be alive.” Her eyes become the muddy puddles of tears and dirt. They pleaded to me. The infection bubbled in my veins.
Killing again would be easy. The pillow held down with my weight covered her whole face. Things were fragile, and it was just tiny breaths to take away this time.
The body fit easily in the trunk. The night felt cold. The car seats were frigid leather. Soon the car would heat up, and things would be better. I whispered my middle of the night words to my passenger in the back seat.
“We’re taking mommy to the river. Then we’ll be home, and I will give you a name, and I will take care of you”.
My infection was gone.

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Inscription 2: The Binding by Julie Hutchings

TODAY’S BREW: Killian’s Irish Red. It’s St. Patrick’s Day! I drank it yesterday, too.

I hope you cringe at the second part of Edgar’s story.

 

Inscription 2: The Binding

by Julie Hutchings

 

“It’s as real as you imagine it to be. There is a spark in you, but you have to ignite it.”

Edgar twisted on the floor, a worm writhing in salt. The blackening wounds on his legs bubbled with infection. The pain of it was too much to write through. It was ruining him.

His mother did not touch him. The boy was beyond touching now, even if she had wanted to. The dark wood floor was lighter than the bruised black skin that covered the pages Edgar had shoved into the ragged cuts on his legs.

She was proud of her boy. He knew how to suffer for his genius. He knew how to create inspiration. What he had written after the butchering to his legs with scissors was masterful, legendary. The sort of words that when strung together create something new entirely, an emotion never known, a dimension never seen.

The child pulsed and rot on the floor with seeping genius.

“Edgar,” she whispered, quiet and smooth as spider silk in his ear. He had clawed his ear with overgrown fingernails, making it bleed. “You must sit up and eat or you will not have strength enough to create. You must continue.”

Edgar felt the devil creep closer, awakening his fitted sleep.

He moaned, a spiderweb of foamy drool connecting to his arm. The words kicked at him from the inside. He was never so glad to have cut himself and pushed the pages inside the wounds. They burned and stung, fueling his pained fingers. Crust closed his eyes as he tried to look at his mother. The rich smell of cooked lamb turned his stomach. But he knew he must eat it.

Flexing his stiff fingers, he took the glass of water she offered him from where she knelt on the floor. It dripped down his chin, making a river of pink from his bleeding gums.

A fine example of an artist’s life. Her boy was suffering for his craft, he would be magnificent because of it. She was sure he loved her more every minute for it. He was becoming a creator the likes of which the world had never seen.

Edgar gagged on the meat, his stomach turning. He held the bile down, but knew it would not be for long. His body shook with fevered cold, making him drop the fork.

“Mother,” he choked out, using his voice for the first time in days. “I think….I think maybe a bath.  A hot bath to get my fingers working.”

His mother took his hand, pulling him up. He would not be able to stand on his own. His legs were hideous meat now, homemade stitches holding the wounds closed in pathetic attempt to heal them. They reeked of rot. His mother had gotten antibiotics, but did not think they were working.

She may have to give in and get him medical treatment. But how? Without exposing him to the world?

His legs were lifeless, causing her to all but drag him to the bathroom. His odor was appalling; she was glad he would no longer smell like urine and infection, if only for a little while.

Once lowered into the steaming bath, Edgar let out a deep sigh, and smiled.

He smiled.

For one moment, a tear pricked his mother’s eye, but only for a moment.

Pus leaked out of the bursting wounds on his legs. They looked awful and would not hold the stitches.

“Do they hurt much, Edgar?” she whispered as she gently cleaned his back, every vertebrae bumping under her fingers.

He just nodded, still smiling.

“What you wrote, my boy. It is the kind of work that speaks to generations. The kind of thing that is brought to classrooms. I am so proud of you, Edgar.”

“The pain makes me feel it all. I want to write more.”

“You should sleep, Edgar.”

He snickered, the smile gone now. “Mother, I may not wake up.” His eyes were closed, and he did not see that her eyes were dry.

Edgar was a prodigy, and his abilities would be realized. He would finish this masterpiece. But he had to feel those classics the same way, he had to absorb them, it had done wonders for his words. But the wounds on his legs were full to exploding with pages torn from the novels in his room, and would barely stay closed through the stitches. There had to be another way.

Edgar was clearly feeling alive when he got out of the tub, and was even able to walk without looking like a crushed spider. He would have the energy to write once she dressed the wounds.

She helped him lie on the bed, allowing him the comfort of it while she figured out how to keep his mental web spinning. He could finish this book tonight if he remained inspired by the great writers the way he had been. He had felt one with them, doing this to his skin. She couldn’t let some doctor take away his inspiration.

And she answered the question that had been plaguing her. No one would take the pages out of his wounds. He always put them back in, as it were. Edgar and his words needed to be bound together, and there could be no better tie than the very leather bindings that gave the words to him.

She took down what was now a shell of a novel, so many pages torn from its binding, wings clipped to keep them with her boy for as long as he needed them.  It was not hard to peel the four inch wide strip of leather off the mess of remaining pages. It was perfect, just the length of Edgar’s tattered incisions.

She could see every rib as he breathed deeply and comfortably on the bed. Like he had when he was just a little boy, with only a glimmer of brilliance. He was so much more than that now. She ripped another binding off of a copy of Shakespeare’s complete works. Now incomplete, some of Edgar’s favorite pieces now a part of him.

The heavy thread she’d used to stitch his wounds shut and the needle still sat on his desk. She rolled the needle over and over in her fingers, taking deep breaths. Ready to heal her boy, to bring him closer to the genius they both craved.

Standing over his peaceful, mutilated body, she closed her eyes and listened to him breathe. She put her hand on his forehead, bending over to whisper in his ear as he slept. “Egar,” she said. “Edgar, are you too tired to write? Does your mind sleep like your body does?”

He groaned in response, stirring slightly.

“Edgar, it is time to finish your work. You will need your sleep after, but not now. And first,” she pressed a finger onto one of the blistering cuts on his leg, making him scream and jump up, “I want to take care of the work you have done on your legs.”

Edgar looked afraid, but quickly gave in, waking from his brief sleep. He saw the needle, and the spines of his now broken novels, and was confused. But it was not long before he understood.

“Mother?” he said, voice shaking, eyeing the fragments of books. He had childlike fear when he awoke, so unlike the strong boy she knew he was now.

She touched his hair, now clean, but still thin with malnutrition. “To keep your pages inside, where they will always be a part of you. The skin that was used to create those books, now will seal your wounds.”

His mother had novocaine. He did not know where she got it. She shot it into his legs whenever she took care of the infections. It did not do much to dull the pain, but the pain is what he felt with those writers now, something they shared. Soon he would be one of them.

He screamed brutally, once, when the huge needle went in, but when the slight numbness took away the ever present burning in his legs, he relaxed. The stitching could not hurt more than that.

It was not long before Edgar passed out, and his mother could stitch the book spines over his wounds without him wiggling. He would thank her tomorrow. She would give him ice cream, insist that he take it, and he would see the titles of his favorite works of genius as part of his very skin. They held inside the words he loved, the pieces of those great minds now pieces of him. She admired her handiwork, covering his unconscious, shivering body, pushing aside some of the crumpled paper that was always around him.

It was not his flesh, but the need to create that held him together. The bindings were the cocoon he needed, and his pain the catalyst to evolve.

Tomorrow he would spread his wings.

 

 

Teeth by Chynna Blue Scott

TODAY’S BREW:  Still boozy cider.
On a theme today of forcing people to show us their writing and letting the world take a look.  Chynna Blue Scott is a brand new friend of ours that keeps right up, and she has a great voice.  I am so very pleased to let you have a look at her handiwork here, then go have fun on her blog to see an excerpt of her first novel!   Follow her on Twitter and check out her blog!
Teeth
by Chynna Blue Scott
We aren’t the only ones who have Christmas trees.

Others have Christmas trees, too. And they don’t decorate them the way we do, oh no. They decorate them bad. Real bad.
Bad for us, anyway.
See, when we go a-running a-round, a-searching out our Christmas tinsel and baubles and lights and all that other insignificant bullhocky, they do a different kind of shopping.
A same kind. But a different kind. It’s all relative, yah know?
You don’t know. But I know.
I heard them, talking. The pale one with the teeth and the pretty eyes, she’d spotted the one she wanted. He was tall, athletic type, typical college footballer. She wanted him, she hissed. They were going to get him, just like they got the others. Just like her brother got the pretty little girl.
I assume he was her brother. You never know with them. But he had the same pale face, the same sparkly eyes. The same teeth.
My finger slipped on the railing I gripped, watching them. It was cold, the ice glittering under the floodlights. Skate-blades glistened like silver razor-slashes. I knew how this would play out.
I hadn’t been able to stop them getting the pretty little girl, at the waxworks. I could still see the bubbles when I closed my eyes.
I’d stop them from getting him.
They wouldn’t come out until he went to leave. The twins liked to make their move in the shadows, to hear their victim’s heart speed up as they walked through the dark patch… Not tonight.
I sauntered up to the athletic guy, flipping my hair back, my smile all teeth. It was easy to get him to come with me. Satisfying to hear the girl’s frustrated hiss split the night air, snaking toward me like a spark along a dynamite fuse. I’d lit the dynamite, alright.
I was ready for the bang.
The athletic guy’s face said he couldn’t believe his luck. Oh, he was lucky. God damn lucky. Luckier than he knew.
I wouldn’t hang him on my tree. I wouldn’t drive spikes into his hands and display him like an ornament, dress him like a nutcracker and force him to walk all day and all night… Not like they would. I’d seen it. Seen it a million times. Not this time.
He never saw it coming. Three sharp slashes, and hot blood spurted, steaming in the frozen air. He gurgled, sighed, and fell. He wouldn’t get back up again. No, I wouldn’t display him. My teeth snagged my lip as I dragged him back into an alleyway, slithering red trail a glaring red-arrow pointing to his location. I wanted him to be found. He deserved a burial.
Once they had chosen him, he was already D-E-A-D dead. I just made sure it was painless as possible. Quick job, over and done. His head lolled back as I slumped him against the brick wall, his mouth open comically.
The twins watched me, alternately hissing and spitting. They followed me out of the alleyway and back to the ice rink, their footsteps soundless. No one paid any attention to them as they passed. My black coat hid the blood well.
I needed a drink. I thought about strapping on a pair of skates, gliding over the ice in my long black coat.
I saw the boy’s eyes light up as he caught sight of a young girl, her long hair a shimmering blonde swathe. I sighed, and made my way over to her. My smile was all teeth.
“Hey, there’s a party going on round the corner. Interested?”

My Brother In Law Wrote This!

TODAY’S BREW: Boozy cider. Dreamtastic.
Allow me to gush.  My brother in law is an avid reader, very bright guy, horror aficionado, and in my mind, a natural writer.  Some of you know I sorta have an eye for talent.  And boom, I was right again.  So proud to have forced Chris to write this very first short story of his, and to post it all in the same month.  Help me convince him to write a book.
A Short Story by Chris Hutchings
Caroling.

Exactly the kind of thing Holly would come up with when she drank too much. They had all drunk too much tonight.

C’mon you guys…It’ll be fun, pulling her sister behind her. Ben and Trevor following obediently. Holly’s hips like the Pied Piper when it came to those two, down the walk way and up the front steps of the house.
Holly ventures up onto the porch alone and knocked a couple times on the door. When she hears movement behind it she races back to join the others.

A grubby little girl holding a naked doll in her arms opens the door. Her eyes widen, little face begins to glow with excitement as they drunkenly tear into Jingle Bells. Two older boys peek out from the doorway. As the song reaches it’s boozy climax the doll this the porch, the little girl jumping up and down, clapping furiously.

Meemaw! she cheers. Meemaw wants a song! The boys vanish from the doorway. She scoops up the doll and dashes down the stairs, grabbing Holly by the hand.

A song for Meemaw! pulling Holly up the stairs, through the open door. Holly looks over her shoulders at the others first shrugging I dunno then waving for them to follow.

The girl leads them to a doorway at the end of a long bare hall. Meemaw’s room.

Trevor is the last one into the room. Drawing a deep breath, ready to beat the old lady over the head with Silent Night, when the screaming starts. Holly and her sister at first, then Ben and Trevor.

Meemaw. The corpse in the rocking chair had been crudely  taxidermied and draped with blankets. Huge bugged out glass eyes and lips drawn back to reveal teeth filed to points. Where the hands and feet should have been; a mass of dried tentacles.

Meemaw wants a song. The little girl behind them, the excitement gone from her voice. Meemaw was going to get her song. The naked doll now exchanged for a cattle prod, decorated to look a magic wand. The older boys appear behind her. One holding a net in his hands, the other a hammer.

Meemaw isn’t interested in drunken carolers. This is the children’s concert. Holly and her friends, they’re the instruments.

The Elf by Catherine Scully

TODAY’S BREW:  Tea. I am catching a *#*!! cold.

We are very pleased to offer up the inner workings of Cat Scully, the horror editor for The Horror Writer’s Association Young Adult Blog.  She is also a high falutin’ illustrator, and just plain fun writer working to get published like us all.  Follow her on Twitter @CatMScully and appreciate her awesomeness on cscullywriter.wordpress.com.

 

The Elf

The morning is pallid and the sun is wrapped with grey, wool patchwork clouds. Though it isn’t Christmas morning, one child wakes, then two, and all three race down the hall together searching for their present. Each corner they turn down the hall, into each bedroom, down the stairs and into the living room yields no clues as to where the present has gone. Then they reach the downstairs closet. With a small creak, the door opens, and the coats packed together provide an excellent canopy to shield the present’s tiny face from the sudden burst of light.

The children stare down at his tiny white face, rosy cheeks, and pointed ears.

“The elf came!” the youngest child exclaims, wiping his snotty nose against his sleeve.

“Yes,” says the second. “The elf left us a message.”

“I want to open it!” says the first, stamping her tiny foot.

“But it’s my turn,” the second child protests.

The third and oldest child says nothing, but stares down the elf’s solemn face. He pushes his glasses up his nose and finds that when he looks at the displayed scene of the elf with it’s letter sitting on top a small pile of fake snow in a red basket, that he can’t look into the elf’s eyes. They stare back like the two coals he worries he’ll get for Christmas if he doesn’t brush his teeth, turn in his homework, and play nice with his two sisters.  The elf’s smile is turned up in a placid expression that was common to all older dolls and looked more painted than real. There was something about the elf that made the child feel like that smile held a secret it wasn’t willing to tell. The elf’s lips would forever be sealed that way. Smiling. Dead. It unsettled him.

The youngest snatched the letter in the elf’s lap first. “It’s mine Sarah!”

“No, Jenny, give it here!” Sarah said. “It’s my turn. You got it yesterday.”

“No,” Jenny whined. The two wrestled and tumbled until the letter ripped open and a great tear went through the envelope and broke the pages within.

“Now look what you’ve done!” Sarah snatched the card away from Jenny, who started to cry.

“Guys,” the third child said, not taking his eyes from the elf.

Sarah opened the envelope and tried to pull out the piece of paper inside. She shushed Jenny with an angry hiss, who only cried harder.

“Hey guys,” he tried again.

“What Mike?” Sarah said, trying to yell over Jenny’s sobbing shrieks.  “What is it?”

“What is that on the elf’s face?”

He pointed to a small spot of liquid that had pooled on the elf’s cheek below its left eye. It sat red, like a small ruby meant for a fairy’s necklace or a doll’s jewelry box. Another drop dripped down and splatted on the elf, this time hitting its little red and white shirt.

Sarah and Mike were so fixated on the dripping red dots that they hadn’t noticed that Jenny had stopped shrieking. She stood behind them, eyes brimming with tears and quietly heaving sobs.

“Where is that coming from?” Mike asked and got down on his hands and knees to look up in the coats.

Sarah slowly opened the letter, which Jenny peaked over on tiptoes to read over her sister’s shoulder. Mike began to part the coats, trying to see what might be causing the dripping. He shoved his hand up between the thick furs and thin, flannel jackets until he hit something wet.

Sarah gasped. “Mike…”

He grabbed the wet thing and yanked. It flopped out into the light.

“Mike,” Sarah yelled. “This… this is blood.”

When he saw what it was he yanked out, Mike screamed. He leapt backwards until he fell into Sarah. The letter fluttered out of her hands and onto the floor. In the center, the open paper read in red-brown letters: “Tonight, you.”

“Oh, God…” Mike said.

“Get off me Mike! What are you…” Sarah started to say, but then saw the thing hanging out of the closet. Her face turned whiter than the snow gently falling outside the window. Flapping skin hung out of the closet like a dirty sleeve. The skin was intact, whole, and a perfect resemblance of a human left arm.

Sarah, Mike, and Jenny sat in horror as they heard a small ping of sound hit the floor. A little silver ring with a modest diamond fell off the small, flat fingertips at the end of the peachy skin sleeve.

A rustle came from beneath the coats as the elf got to his feet with careful determination. Though its face was frozen in permanent smile, a small voice came out like the twinkling of bells and said:

“Tonight. You.”

 

 

 

 

Christmas With(out) Grandpa by Bobby Salomons

TODAY’S BREW:  Water. Even I stop drinking coffee sometimes.

We have a soft spot for Bobby, and so here you have the opportunity to enjoy another of his amazing works.  We also encourage you to follow his maniacal ramblings on Twitter @D2Dbooks and visit severedlimbmovement.wordpress.com.  Seriously.

Christmas with(out) grandpa.

By: Bobby Salomons (Severed Limb Movement)
Partially based on a true story.

It’s been decades, since he passed, my grandfather. A highly decorated World War II Navy-veteran he had spend most of his time submerged under the waves of the Pacific, part of a submarine crew, telegraphing vital messages to and from the Allied Forces.

One unfortunate day the men had even come under friendly fire, taking heavy hits from strafes by British aircraft who saw them for an enemy sub. A group of five, including my grandfather had braved through all odds and stormed onto the deck and waved the Union Jack – that proud British flag – to signal the pilots they were attacking one of their own. Thankfully the pilots saw their error and aborted their attack.
At the risk of death and injury the sub crew did what they felt they had to, they stood for something. He stood for something. And I’d find out, he would always keep doing so – even after life was over.

I never quite had the opportunity to know him, he succumbed to a brain tumor when my mother was just fifteen. They told me many stories, many of which I believed and many of which I did not.
One such story was that on the day of her final exams, the dark hours of the night before, she was sleeping in her mother’s bed – inconsolable over his passing. And suddenly they saw, on the walls of the room, his fine silhouette – in uniform and all. The smell of his Old Spice perfume filled the room with his presence. He was there, letting them know that he was around, to make a point.

Ever since I was little I played with his officer’s hat, his medals bestowed upon him by the Queen herself and perhaps most importantly: His telegraph key. I would sit and play, endless hours, tapping and studying this mind capturing device – imagining myself to be sending Morse codes to commence attack or announce the war was over.
Of course the telegraph key was old, but sturdy made, with screws to adjust the pressure needed to tap the key and being a child I screwed around with them many times. Occasionally the key would fall apart, but with the screws and the adrenaline rush of “being caught” I had always successfully restored it to how it was to be.

Until one unfortunate day, one of the trunnion screws fell from the table, rolled across the floor and disappeared into a hole right before my eyes. The clunk of metal taunting me. Nerves grabbed me by the throat, followed by unforgiving guilt of losing something so precious.
I managed to provisionally restore the telegraph key, but it would only take the lightest tap to find out that it was broken and incomplete. And luck would have it that tomorrow was Christmas, tomorrow all my mom’s family would be here. My aunts, my uncles, my cousins and nephews and undoubtedly they would ask for the telegraph key. And touch it. Play with it.

They would all know it was me. I did it. I broke it, I lost it. It was my fault.

I kept quiet, but not too quiet to avoid suspicion from my mom that day. All I could do was hope, furiously, that none of my family would find out tomorrow. On Christmas, for crying out loud.
I was young and the tension kept sleep away from me, staring at the walls, listening to the traffic outside, feeling remorse. Quietly I mourned the loss of my grandfather, though I had never met him, the telegraph key was my grandfather to me. And now I had ruined that. This was my Christmas without grandpa.
I fell asleep in the early hours of the morning, when things are most quiet and tense. The world no longer belongs to people, it belongs to the dark and the unknown and whatever ventures inside of it.

Suddenly I woke up, my heart racing for no particular reason, cold sweat on my back. There was something in the air, sparkling like fireworks yet invisible to the eyes, I could feel it under my skin.

I gasped and could smell it, Old Spice, even though I had never smelled it before – I knew this had to be it.

Shivering and shaking I pulled the blankets up over my head, yet curiosity forced me to peak around the room from underneath the safety of the covers. Slowly my eyes adjusted to the dark, checking one corner to the next. Soon, I had covered three corners of my room, if there was anything to be seen it had to be the corner with the door.
I quietly rolled underneath my covers and looked at the door. Every nerve, every hair, every muscle fired electric currents through my body – there he stood. Quietly.

His exceedingly tall stature casting upon the cafe doors that were part of my room, not moving an inch yet so overwhelmingly present I felt he could reach out and touch me. I feared he was angry, there to punish me. I dove underneath the covers and as dawn approached his silhouette slowly faded away.

I fell asleep again, exhausted and woke up when my dad checked on me.
Reluctantly I stepped from my bed as my father fluffed my pillow and straightened my blankets. Suddenly I heard a soft metal clunk, my father picked it up,

“…Is that the screw from your grandfather’s telegraph key?” He said. I shivered, I turned around and looked at him – I could tell he was slightly annoyed and not joking.

“Maybe…?” I stuttered, shaking at the knees.

“You should know better than to play with it, you could lose it you know. It’s important to your mom… And put something on, you’re shivering.”

 As I brushed my teeth I realized, my grandfather wasn’t there because he was angry or to scare me, he was returning the screw of his telegraph key and to make a point. And so he did.

Ever since, every single year again, on the night before Christmas I can see him standing in the corner of my room. I can smell his perfume. On Christmas morning I fluff my pillow, followed by the sound of a metal clunk, the trunnion screw of his telegraph key.
I have a running gag with a ghost, I respect him very much.

The Family Dismember by Julie Hutchings

TODAY’S BREW: The end of mediocre mint. I revel in new coffee choices.

Here I am! Hope you enjoy.

The Family Dismember

by Julie Hutchings

Two huge boxes loomed from under the tree.  One as red as glistening blood, the other silver like an ice pick.

Uncle Ebner hung over my shoulder, whiskey pouring off his breath, excitement shaking his words in my ear.  “Which one you want, son?  Which one has your name on it?”

“Ebner, shut the fuck up!  Let Roy pick in peace!”  Ma yelled at him from her armchair.

“You can’t have both, Roy,” little Chrissy whined from a pile of wrapping paper, sucking on a candy cane, red goo smeared on her cheeks and hands.  I frowned at her and she stuck her gooey tongue out at me.

Pa pounded in from the kitchen, taking over the doorway in size and ugliness.   “Roy!  Pick one, now, boy, or I will make you wish you were never born.”  He raised a dirty glass of something to his mouth, wetting his massive beard and dripping it on his flannel shirt sleeve and overalls.  I shook looking at him.  “You are a part of this family, and you will do as we do.”

“I…I don’t know which one.  Maybe you should give them to Cousin Willie or Jenna.”  Even my voice cowered under Pa’s glare as his boots slammed across the room, killing ribbons and wrappings in their path.  He snarled in my face, worse than that coyote that grabbed Chrissy’s arm last summer, eyes glassy.

“You are fifteen.  You have waited long enough.  This is the year you pick one.”  Each word was a death sentence, each syllable punched me with ferocity.  Pa’s eyes got colder with every passing second.

Ebner’s laugh screeched through the room.  “Your time has come, Roy!”  He jumped up from the floor and did a barn dance, arm in arm with Chrissy.  She laughed, dirty, tangled hair trailing behind her.  “Merry Christmas, son, your time has arrived!”

The silver box whimpered.

Pa kicked it hard, ripping the paper in one corner, exposing the cardboard box underneath.  “Shut the fuck up!”  Sobs rolled out of the box, and a moan from the red one.

“Careful, Pa, don’t ruin Roy’s gift, now, it took me days to get them in the house,” Ma nagged, still in her armchair.

My knees buckled, but I caught myself on the edge of the red box.  When I touched it, it screamed.  I smelled sweat from inside it.  My stomach lurched.  “I don’t know which one to pick,” I said so softly, I couldn’t believe anyone heard.

“I don’t know which one to pick,” my brother mocked.  “Just pick one!  It don’t matter, they all look the same in the end!”  He threw a tennis ball at the boxes, hitting the silver one hard, and making it scream.

“You want a hint, boy?”

“I guess, Pa.”

“Straighten up, boy!  Be thankful for what we got you!”  he yelled, shaking the room as much as he shook me.  “The red one you know.  The other one you don’t.”

I felt my eyes widen in fear, and tried to stop them before Pa smelled it on me.  “I….know…one of them?”

“OOOOH, Roy!  That’s right special!” Chrissy said, running to my side.  “I wish I knew mine!”

Pa’s laugh was as terrible as the rest of him.  “Hahahaha!  That’s my little girl!”  Chrissy smiled wide at his approval.

“Stop being a pussy, Roy, pick one.”

“Shut up, John,” I said meekly to my brother.

“Take the red one, it’s prettier!” Chrissy squealed.

“Not for long.”  John loved how afraid I was.  He swaggered over to me, meat on his face and breath.  “Take the one you know, Roy, or I will get it, and I’ll make it stick around longer.”  His grin exposed gristle in his teeth and evil in his soul.

“ENOUGH!  PICK!”  Pa bellowed, making Chrissy cry and me shake.

I reached forward, John giggling wildly next to me, my hands trembling, and touched the red one.  It was as warm as an infection.

“Yes!  Good choice, Roy, good choice!”  Ebner patted me on the back.

“Bring it downstairs,” Pa spat.

I tried to budge the box, but it was too heavy.  “No, no, no,” it cried from inside, fear making the voice unrecognizable.  John’s laugh made it cry more.

“I can’t move it.”

“You’d better get that thing downstairs, boy, or I’ll tan your hide!”

I pushed up the bottom with the toe of my shoe, and wrapped my arms around it as far as I could, jostling it here and there.  It was crying uncontrollably now.  My eyes clouded with tears, and I pushed them back.

I shimmied it across the old rust-brown carpet, unable to pick it up.  The eyes of my family bore into my back.  When I opened the basement door, the stench of blood and rot met me.  I retched.  Pa slapped me in the back of the head.

“Go.”

“I can’t, Pa.”  Tears coursed down my cheeks.

“Disgraceful.”  Pa kicked the box with one mighty foot down the basement stairs, shaking the tools hanging from every inch of wallspace; saws, hammers, picks, machetes, screwdrivers, knives, hacksaws, chains, all rusted with blood.  The box smashed, spilling its contents.

Patty Ann Riley.  She sat next to me in Geography.

She fell in a heap of bruises and broken bones at the bottom of the stairs, crimson box underneath her stained with her blood.  She was soaked in it already.  Her right arm had been hacked off.  Blood streamed from the ragged stump into a puddle of gunk in the wrapping paper.  More bubbled and seeped from countless punctures and cuts all over her.  She groaned through semi-consciousness.

“We gave you a head start, Roy.”

I sighed deeply, my shoulders curling, my back weak.

It was time to start unwrapping.

Their Hands by John F.D. Taff

TODAY’S BREW: Hazelnut. Not that exciting. I can’t always be exciting!

John’s fantastic, so are his more than 65 short stories in print.  Follow him on Twitter @johnfdtaff to see pics of him in superhero masks.  Visit him at http://johnfdtaff.com.  Seriously, do it.

Their Hands

By John F.D. Taff

It was just their hands.  In the end.

Their hands.

No matter what was said after, on the news, on the internet, by the pundits and bloggers, psychics and psychologists, police.  Always trying to make everything more complicated than it actually was.

It was simple.

He’d seen them at the campground, at the pool.

He’d seen them in their Old Navy bikinis and their Dollar Store flip flops.  With their jeweled cell phones and sparkling purses and tubes of lip gloss.

He’d seen them and then, almost, unseen them, as he’d unseen everyone else.

Almost.

They were trailer park thin, with angular, boyish hips, long boyish legs.  They were country pale with high cheekbones and dark, sunken eyes with too much blue eye shadow.  They were cousins, maybe, sisters; too similar looking to be just friends.  Maybe they were step sisters; perhaps the same father, perhaps the same mother.  Stuff like that happened out here beyond the suburbs.

He’d stretched on his perch at the pool, a spot he’d scoped early that morning.  A clean towel (he always brought a clean towel; his momma had warned him against germs) lay over the lounge chair, soaking up his sweat.

The towel smelled like bleach, acrid in his nostrils.

His sweat smelled like coconut suntan lotion and the sour dread of its anticipation.

Its demands.

When the girls came, he’d already dismissed everyone else.  They were all talking too loud and pointing here and there and laughing.  They throbbed in his head, like a hive of agitated bees.  They made his head hurt, his eyes throb.  He dismissed them all immediately.

So he sat in the sun, smelling his sweat and the towel, his eyes shaded by his sunglasses.

And waited.

Then the girls came in.  They entered the pool area quietly, glided across the hot concrete in a tight, cool envelope of silence.

Except.

He sat up in his chair, the towel momentarily sticking to his slick, bare shoulders, then peeling away like a layer of discarded skin, drifting back to the lounge.

His breathing quickened, and he fumbled with his sunglasses.  They were the big, dark aviator kind that made him look cool in the little mirror of his little bathroom in the little, ramshackle RV he lived in, rode in from nameless place to nameless place.

They were slippery in his oiled hands, and they dropped to the lounge chair, clattered to the ground.

Their hands. 

Silent as they were, their hands fluttered in the air before them like tethered birds, captured in their orbits.  They soared and dipped, fingers circumscribing arcane shapes and symbols in the air.

He stared, not at them anymore, but at their darting hands, at the air in which they swooped.  They left silver streaks, like the contrails of jets against a blue, blue sky.  These incandescent arcs and spirals floated before them, between them, and faded, faded slowly into silver spangles that shone in the air, shone in his brain like faery dust before disappearing.

For a moment, it subsided within him, the demands, hypnotized into its own silence by their hands and the occult letters they spelled out onto the very slate of the air.

And then it was back, thrumming through him with a power that rippled the taut muscles of his stomach; that vibrated every cell in every blood vessel in his body.

For a moment, he sat there, his body trembling, his mouth agape, staring at them, at the air around them.

And then he was back, noticing them notice him.

Smiles, small and flirtatious, clung to their immobile lips.

Their hands danced subtly before them, sharing thoughts and feelings that he saw in silver flourishes.

Because of their silence, because of their hands, they were beautiful to him, shining, different.

Seen.

Suddenly, his head felt better, the pressure decreased, and he felt washed in cool air, as if enveloped in the shell of the rarer atmosphere they seemed to inhabit.

He smiled back at them, smiled with the full force of his demand, and they hesitated, smiled back.

His smile broadened, then, broadened because, in looking at their hands, their right hands in particular, he saw his answer.

Each wore, on her wrist, a black silicone bracelet, popular these days and usually imprinted with a slogan, like “Live Free” or “Hope.”  He didn’t care what the bracelets said, not really.  He cared more for what they showed him.

For what they showed him was how they demarked those hands from the rest of their bodies, like a boundary drawn by a surgeon.

A surgeon.

That thought made his smile grow even larger, and then the girls did start giggling, but silently, silently, with their eyes sparkling and their mouths drawn wide and their lungs hitching in air.

He thought, then, to remember that look on their faces.

But he knew he’d see it again, under much different circumstances.

“Hey, girls,” he said, careful to pronounce the words succinctly, moving his mouth in a large, open way.  “Are you as hot as you look?”

Their smiles grew larger, but they remained motionless, smiling at him, appraising him.

“I’ve got AC and cold soda in the RV.  I was heading there now.  Wanna come?”

They giggled again, silently, and their hands, their beautiful, airy hands, leapt out before them and made incantations, more for each other than for him since they nodded in response to his question.

So, they walked back to his RV, arm in arm.  The one’s right arm wrapped around the other; the other’s right arm wrapped around him.  But his arm, thrown over both, never touched them.

* * * * * * * *

Later and far away, a trucker saw him haul two large, suspiciously shaped plastic trash bags off the side of the interstate and dump them in the weeds along the shoulder.

What was left…after.

There were police when he stopped, questions, searching…finding what he’d kept.

Their hands.

It was just their hands.  In the end.

Headhunter by Steve Bridger

TODAY’S BREW: So much. So very very much. Damn Christmas beer.

Steve has another story up, Happy Horrordays, which is so much fun, you should read that too. Go.

HEADHUNTER

“Damn” Rosie Sheppard screamed to the leaden sky venting her totally stressed rage bringing her blood pressure down below the level of: “Danger! Veins about to burst!!”

She cursed the rain, the freezing spray hurled from passing wheels.  Her normally calm demeanour snapped at the same instant as her left shoe heel splintered, a tragic millisecond before Rosie reached the pavement.   She’d survived the early morning dice with death when her momentum was instantly frozen as in a game of statues.  Her balance went completely, toppling backwards falling helplessly into the insane racetrack of early morning traffic.   The squeal of tortured rubber, the slient shouts from onlookers their stunned faces mouthing slow-motion cries seemed comical to Rosie.  Unseen hands pulled her up and through the door of West One Recruitment.   “Monday bloody Monday,” thought Rosie as he finally made it to the safety of her desk.  Strange, she couldn’t work out why her workmates were running headlong to the front window.  Some starting to scream.

At 22, she’d left university and went on to pass her Human Resources exams.  Rosie regularly surpassed her monthly targets and was seen as a great prospect by West One.  She kept in touch with her mates from Norwich and looked forward to inflicting regular liver damage on their Friday night bingefests.  Work hard, play harder.  She loved it, not so keen on the Sunday detox though, and even less pleased with Monday mornings, especially when she’d booked an interview for 9.30am on 16th November, which gave her precisely one minute to prepare.  Actually, no time, as he was already there, sitting quietly across from her waiting for her to acknowledge his presence. His intelligent eyes flickering left and right taking in every movement, his lips holding an amused smile as he watched Rosie wrestle with the top drawer to grab a pen.

“Sorry, about this.  A pig of a journey this morning”.  Rosie speaking the words automatically, a robot recording, not yet making any human connection with her first appointment of the day.

“Hey, no matter, take the time you need, I made it without any hold-ups at all, luck or what?”  The stranger spoke, his East London accent distinct but yet not rough or hard, but helpful and understanding, taking the pressure from Rosie making her feel at ease.  She smiled, taking in his dark blue suit, cream shirt, his blue and white polka-dot tie. Nice, clean appearance cropped dark hair, handsome yet rugged face, wide, dark-brown eyes which shone like polished glass.  Hmmm, good start.

“Right, let’s get going”.  I believe you’re looking for a move up west.  I need to take some details.”  Rosie was suddenly all business, straight into the same groove of a thousand past interviews.

“Name and Date of Birth”.  Her fingers hovered over the keyboard, tensing, ready to start the process, and as he didn’t respond immediately to her instruction with the rapid speed she expected, she paused and looked sideways.  He was holding a piece of stained yellowed and badly creased parchment, rolled and tied with a red ribbon.  Rosie, a master of ‘upside-down reading’ saw the title written in a fine hand ‘Sheppard Family Tree’.   He smiled as her forehead creased, her eyes a question mark.

“You could call it my CV”.  He answered, white teeth flashing in amusement.  He unlaced the ribbon and spread the parchment flat on her desk.  “Let me introduce myself.  Jack Sheppard, apprentice carpenter and petty thief.  Also known as Harlequin Sheppard, escaped from Newgate Prison four times.  Prostitutes, highwaymen, scoundrels and vagabonds were my best mates.  Born 1702 hung at Tyburn 16th November 1724, not thirty paces from where we are now, aged twenty-two.  200,000 people witnessed the journey from Newgate and my execution by the hangman’s noose.  I was famous, super-famous, and bigger even than Posh & Becks!”

Her curled fingers froze above the keyboard.  Jokes were not on Rosie’s agenda.

“Very funny, very funny, very not funny”.  Rosie sneered, could this morning get any worse?

Jack continued, “We’re related; yeah really, I am your great-great- great- great- great grandfather.

“See!” Jacks index finger expertly navigating the journey down the chart, fording swirls of ink and a long list of names.

“I’m here, way back in 1724 and here you are in 2007.  You’re thinking I’m looking for a job but I’m not – I’m here to offer you a job.” Jack said, speaking slowly and deliberately, looking without blinking.

“You were interviewing me, but I’ve got a position open which could suit you down to the ground it’s with my outfit.   Spiritlevel is the name of our organisation.  It’s made up of ex-plumbers, builders, brickies, carpenters like me, DIY deaths, you get the idea – we thought the name had a bit of humour about it.  We are a kind of spiritual rescue service.   I don’t expect you to believe me – just yet – but if we slip out of the side door I’ll prove it to you.  It looks as though your fellow workers are otherwise engaged all looking the other way for some reason.  It’ll only take a second; you’ll be back before they notice you’ve gone.”

“You must think I’ve just fallen off the Christmas tree”.  Rosie was the most cynical person she knew, and had that arrogance of a streetwise London sophisticate.

“Do you think I’m totally stupid?”  For a start, if anything you said was true and you were hung at Tyburn, how do you know about Posh & Becks?  How do you know we’re related and why did you choose today of all days to come into my chaotic life?” Rosie was performing as her dismissive best.

“Good call” Jack was encouraged by her disbelief, it showed a strong questioning attitude, all the better for what was to come. “Tell you what, first I need to explain a few basic facts about the meaning of life”.  Rosie suspected that Jack has given this particular speech many times before.

“And I’m not talking about the Monty Python version!” Jack started to laugh at this own joke – a bad trait in a comedy performer.  “You see we lead two lives.  One where you wear a body, like a suit of clothes.  Your inner-self peers out the holes in your eye sockets to take a look around at the world.  You feel the rain on your face, the wind in your hair; smell the smokey garden leaves burning in autumn, the crisp clean taste of Pinot Grigio on your lips.   “The other life” Jack was perfecting his timing for this second part. “Is where you shed your skin and join us other flies-on-the-wall, outside looking in.  We see and understand the real world, but we don’t have to take aspirin for a hangover or come down with flu, or in my case, cholera, typhus, dysentery and the Black Death!”

Jack had this chuckle which spread warm feelings like a convector heater all around him.

“We see all the changes, the way people dress, the digiboxes, the different styles of music, can’t understand all that Rap music stuff. We see it all but at a different pace from a different perspective.  We can focus on say, World War I or watch the latest entrants to the 2006 UK Music Hall-of-Fame in splendid isolation without paying to get in!  Sometimes, we can even take a daytrip back to the material world to see and be seen by people we know.  I did this with those corrupt bastards at the Old Bailey who sentenced me.  Drove them mad.  But what a laugh, what larks!  It was like Charles Dickens’ ‘Christmas Carol’ but for real – with deadly consequences for those bastards their weak hearts, I really scared them to death.”

Jack’s body laugh had him nearly doubled-up crying with laughter. He stopped as quickly as he started, composing himself; he left the 18th Century and snapped back to the 21st.

“Anyway”, Jack said taking a fresh lungful of air. “I left my mischievous, naughty self in the past, made up for my mistakes, and got this new assignment and that’s why I’m here.”

Rosie slowly became aware of a total stillness around her.  No ringing phones, no loud voices, no road noise, just the sound of Jack’s calm, reassuring voice filling her consciousness.  She was intrigued.  Well, she’d been thinking about her next career move.  Okay, this was not quite what she had in mind, but hey, a break from the Monday morning office routine would do her good.  She reached for her coat and accepted the invitation.

“C’mon then, show me – but I must be back for my next appointment at eleven.”

Jack paused by the door.  “This won’t take long, a mere fragment of time.  You’ll get a glimpse of my work then you can decide whether the time is right to make a move.”

Jack held out his hand.  They slipped over the threshold, and back in time. Jack’s blue suit switching to a torn stained leather jacket, brown breeches, calf length boots and a three-pointed hat.   Rosie’s chic office suit became a faded cotton dress, a pair of thin leather shoes squelching in the stinking putrid mud, a brown woollen wrap pulled tight around her shoulders.  They were walking amid a huge crowd, around them, people jostled to reach the front, elbows striking ribs, shoulders shrugging the weak aside to get the best view of the prison cart lumbering up the last slope toward Tyburn on the final stretch of its two and a half hour journey from Newgate.  The hopeless, hapless, convicts, wide-eyed with fear grateful for the anaesthetic of strong ale from Inns along the way.   Condemned men easing the pain of their last moments.

Jack Sheppard waved to the adoring crowd.  He stood at the front of the cart accepting the cheers and well wishes from the rabble.  Women pressed forward throwing flowers and blowing kisses.  As the cart drew alongside Rosie, the cart stopped.  Two sets of identical dark brown eyes locked together in silent understanding, one in the cart the other holding Rosie’s hand.

Rosie saw the hangman’s noose of filthy worn matted hemp, the hooded executioner preparing for yet another day’s work.  She wanted to vomit, her stomach about to erupt but just as that moment of involuntary release something sailed over her head.  Her arm shot out in a lightning reflex action catching the yellow rose, flung from the man about to die.

“Enough for now.” Jack broke the gaze with his Tyburn bound self and took her arm leading her away from the seething crowd.

“That was a little taste of things past, but now you’ve work to do.  Look at it as a trial period to see how you fit in.  No stress, no bother.  I need the help of a living, breathing human being to do a little convincing, a little persuasion.”

They walked past a makeshift kitchen.  It’s amazing how a good hanging makes folk hungry.  Bad for those on the gallows tree, great for business.  Acrid smoke stung their eyes and engulfed them as another portal opened.

The smoke thinned to reveal a wide expanse of short grass, edged by massive camouflaged hangers bordering on an endless cement runway.  “Right this is it, RAF Bradwell Bay in Essex.” Jack was looking around trying to pinpoint the position of the crew he’d come to meet.  “Ah! There they are.”  The Mosquito pilot and navigator were sitting on 40 gallon oil drums chatting away, happily lost in conversation, trying to decide how long it would take to land, have a bath, a hot meal and get down the Dog & Duck in time for a pint and a game of darts.  Their voices carried over the airfield to Jack and Rosie as they drew closer.

“Now, this is a tricky one.” Jack began his preparation.  “This is Flight Lieutenant John Latimer and Sergeant Wilson; they’ve been together for six months and flew on countless sorties over occupied France. What they don’t know, is that a Messershimdt 109 was circling above the aerodrome, lying in wait for planes returning to base.  It was a highly effective Luftwaffe strategy.  After the rush of adrenalin in combat, crews relaxed as they got close to the airfield and saw the distant lights of the airfield winking a welcome home.

Naturally, their attention wandered from the heat of battle to the promise of the night ahead.  It only took an instant for the armour piecing shells to pierce and rip through their fuel tanks.  Only a second for the plane to erupt in a ball of fire, their uniforms and skins melded to bone.  They didn’t know what hit them.

And that is the problem.  The attack was so sudden, so unexpected, so complete, that Latimer and Wilson had no warning, no time to die.  They’re convinced that they are still on the Darts Team; they can buy five fags and a pint of beer and still get change from a shilling.  On top of it all, Sergeant Wilson is certain he’s going to get lucky with Lucy behind the bar tonight.  It’s our job, or rather your job to put them straight, make them realise that times have changed and they are no longer in the land of the living but have now joined of a totally different squadron in the sky”.

They were so caught up in conversation that Jack and Rosie were standing by them before they realised they were there. The shock on their faces was priceless; the sight of Rosie was a picture.  She was now in her office outfit, white blouse, dark suit, wavy chestnut hair, stunning dove grey eyes, looking like a young Liz Taylor.  They were speechless.

“Good evening gentlemen”.  Rosie spoke softly, keeping her voice deliberately slow to make an even greater impact.  They were all attention.  She held the moment in a heartbeat pause before speaking.

“Guys, I really fancy a lager, then a couple of Tequila slammers followed by a tasty Chicken Tikka, and unless I’m mistaken you two look as though you could murder a pint down the Dog and Duck”.   By the look on their faces Rosie was speaking in tongues – they couldn’t understand one word, but they finally got the gist, after the gesture of a hand holding a glass and a twist of the wrist.  All four began the short walk from the airfield to the pub.

Apart from the Public Bar being knocked into the Saloon, the layout was pretty much as it was in 1943.  But there were subtle changes and non-too subtle changes.   A picture of Lucy on her wedding day arm in arm with that smarmy creep from the Ops Room was pinned behind the bar.  Their first-born child, now in his forties, was pulling pints, his bloated belly and almost perfectly circular face ruddy from drinking the profits.  He was shouting at someone playing the ‘Who wants to be a Millionaire’ game machine, all Tarrant and flickering lights.  It was just as Rosie had hoped.

They hovered behind the clever clogs trying not to put him off.  They read the questions and heard the know-it-all answer.

‘What’s the name of the First Person to walk on the moon?’ – Yep, Neil Armstrong.  ‘

Where does the Channel Tunnel come ashore in England?’ –  Easy Folkstone.

‘What was the top flying speed of the Word War II Mosquito fighter-bomber?

Latimer and Wilson yelled in unison – “380 mph!!!!”

They were jumping up and down, really getting into it, but not realising exactly what was going on, unaware of Rosie’s plan, the significance of the last question not striking home.

The thin white-haired man, his cigarette burning unattended in a nearby ashtray, pressed 380 mph and moved on to the next question. Up it came on the machine

‘What type of aircraft shot down Flight Lieutenant John Latimer and his navigator Sergeant Willie Wilson over RAF Bradwell Bay airfield on 17th May 1943?

Now, there’s always a millisecond delay from the brain registering information and the message reaching the rest of the body and startling the eyes.  There’s a brief pulsing expansion of the eyeballs as understanding dawns.   The knowledge hit the airmen simultaneously.

They reeled as if they’d received a crushing punch from a heavyweight boxer.  They crumpled. The air sucked from their lungs.  They reached for each other, arms shooting out, grabbing shoulders pulling them together in one last embrace.

The white haired man looked at the options on the screen, Focke Wolf, Messershimdt 190 or Heinkel.  John and Willie guided the white haired man’s index finger for their final answer; they whispered “Messershimdt 190”.

Rosie hugged them close.  Jack whispered. “Look, this is not bad news.  You can now leave that cold, godforsaken airfield for good. Leave the past behind.  And anyway, who wants to live in a world where fags are a fiver and beer nearly three pounds a pint!” The airmen pondered then nodded. They were all in agreement.  “Let’s get out of here for good.”

Her workmates had rushed to the window when they heard the squeal of tyres and crash of metal.   They screamed as they saw Rosie lifted high into the air and flung onto the pavement, her Starbucks cup spraying hot Latte.  The car swerved to avoid her; the second the heel snapped and she had started to fall backwards into the oncoming traffic.  It was just a glancing blow.

She laid, eyes closed and unconscious for only a second, then groggy and dazed she started repeating over and over, “damn, damn, damn”.

Fellow commuters helped to her to her feet.  Rosie chucked away the broken shoe, smoothed down her coat and checked her nails to make sure they were all in one piece.  She was feeling better already.  Rosie finally made it to the safety of her desk and flicked open her desk diary to check the time of her first appointment for Monday 16th November.

As the page turned, a crushed yellow rose fell from the page, spun absurdly slowly through the air and settled perfectly on the floor.

The Real Jack Sheppard

Jack Sheppard (4 March 1702 – 16 November 1724) was a notorious English robber, burglar and thief of early 18th-century London. Born into a poor family, he was apprenticed as a carpenter but took to theft and burglary in 1723, with little more than a year of his training to complete. He was arrested and imprisoned five times in 1724 but escaped four times, making him a notorious public figure, and wildly popular with the poorer classes. Ultimately, he was caught, convicted, and hanged at Tyburn, ending his brief criminal career after less than two years. The inability of the notorious “Thief-Taker General” Jonathan Wild to control Sheppard, and injuries suffered by Wild at the hands of Sheppard’s colleague, Joseph “Blueskin” Blake, led to Wild’s downfall.

Sheppard was as renowned for his attempts to escape justice as for his crimes. An autobiographical “Narrative”, thought to have been ghost-written by Daniel Defoe, was sold at his execution,was quickly followed by popular plays. The character of Macheath in John Gay‘s The Beggar’s Opera (1728) was based on Sheppard, keeping him in the limelight for over 100 years. He returned to the public consciousness in around 1840, when William Harrison Ainsworth wrote a novel entitled Jack Sheppard, with illustrations by George Cruikshank. The popularity of his tale, and the fear that others would be drawn to emulate his behaviour, led the authorities to refuse to license any plays in London with “Jack Sheppard” in the title for forty years.

Devilish Desire by Zoey Derrick

 

TODAY’S BREW: Abysmal homemade blend I call French Mintnog Nut. Don’t try it.

The Undead Duo forced Miss Zoey Derrick to write outside of her comfort zone to appease us.   Success! Enjoy this wonderful little read!

 

Today was such a beautiful day, spending Christmas Day with my family and my boyfriend was something that had scared the hell out of me when the idea was brought up. My boyfriend, Link, is someone that generally gets along with everyone. At least I had no problems getting to know him. Now I am beginning to understand why.

I am panting, out of breath. My heart is pounding out a rhythm beneath my ribs that has my whole body trembling. I’m running. One foot in front of the other, but it feels like I am on a street long treadmill. I can’t get to the end of the block that I see up ahead. He’s behind me, chasing me.

The man I thought I loved turned out to be something more, something unexpected. Something that I had only ever read about in books or seen on tv. I never, not in my wildest of nightmares expected him to be something of fantasy.

He is stalking me, forcing me to run from him. Why? Why am I running from him? If everything I have read in books is true, just like this is coming to be, then I should be dead. Right?

I’m still running and finally I am coming towards the end of the empty block, I turn back and he’s gone. I skid to a halt. “What the hell?”

“Looking for me?” His voice is sweet and sensual. Desire courses through my body. My body’s reaction throws me off guard. I shouldn’t be attracted to this man, a man that is trying to kill me.

I feel a magnetic pull course over my body. Pulling me backwards, back into his arms. “NO!” I scream and I start to fight the feeling and try to run back the way that I came. The pull I feel releases and a shoot forward like a slingshot and I am running again. Once I have managed to gain my balance I look up to look where I am going and there he is.

Standing about twenty feet in front of me, I skid to a halt again. “What do you want from me?” I shout at him.

“I want you, with me, forever.” A slow seductive smile crosses his lips and I can’t help the sharp intake of breath that wracks my entire body.

“You…” I take another deep breath, “You want to kill me?”

He doesn’t respond, just shakes his head in a silent “No”.

The pull has returned, it is harder to fight in my forward position. This pull cannot be real, he cannot have this kind of physical effect on me, can he?

I look to my left and there he is. I look to my right, and he is there. I start to turn and he is there, right behind me, reaching his arms out to embrace me into his arms. I take advantage and take off in the opposite direction.

Before I can make it ten feet, I become aware of his presence in front of me and my running has me catapulting into the air. I see him getting closer, the snow strewn streets, the sparsely lit windows and buildings covered in Christmas lights as I slam into him. He catches me. Picks me up and takes off. I quickly realize that he is running faster than humanly possible. I scream.

“What are you? Why were you chasing me?” I shout at him. He continues to race down the street. It is empty; not that anyone could see us anyway. I could see the streams of Christmas lights blurring past us as we made our way to God knows where. The motion was starting to make me dizzy and I closed my eyes. I could feel Link’s hands on me, rubbing, caressing. “What do you want from me?” I whispered.

“Who and what I am are none of your concern. What I want from you, you will give me freely, without hesitation. I can feel your want and desire for me. It is washing over me in waves. You will do this and you will be mine, Forever.” His voice was menacing and seductive all at the same time.

For a moment, I had images running through my head. A dark shadow stalking me, enveloping  my body completely. The room is dark and I can see flames flickering in the distance. The image changes, the shadow is gone and Link appears before me. Naked! Wearing nothing but a set of horns.

My eyes flew open. “You’re the devil?” My eyes closed again and everything went….

 

Enjoy Zoey at http://www.zoeyderrick1.blogspot.com, follow her for sure on Twitter @ZoeyDerrick.  Email the heck out of her at zoeyderrick@gmail.com .

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