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Bloodshot Eyes

 

 

BLOODSHOT EYES

 

Tales of Horror that

Bleed from the Dead of Night

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

written by Clive Carpenter

 

edited by Marjorie Miskey

 

 

 

www.bloodtypeh.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First printing November 2016

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book

may be reproduced or transmitted

in any form without written permission

of the copyright owner.

 

You may contact the publisher, Blood Type H, at

[email protected]

 

Cover art & design by J. Brian

© copyright 2016 Scorpios Media, LLC.

All rights reserved.

Published by Blood Type H

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This book is for everyone who has ever really pissed me off. You’re the chum I feed to the shark that is my imagination. Thanks for the inspiration.

 

Like I always tell people:

Go ahead and piss me off. I won’t get mad. I won’t get even. I’ll just make you a victim in one of my stories!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A “SPECIAL THANKSSHOUT OUT TO

 

Neil

The computer surgeon who brought my computer back from the brink of death so I could get this damned book done on time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STORIES

 

7 THE THING IN THE HALL

23 SCRITCHING

31 LANNA

44 I WATCH CANDICE

50 L-239

70 CURIOSITY IS A SICK BITCH

78 BENEATH THE CLUBHOUSE

105 LA PIEDRA MAYA

116 I KNOW WHAT YOU’VE DONE

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE THING IN THE HALL

 

 

It must have been around 4:00 a.m. when Missy, our little Yorkshire Terrier, woke me up with a barking fit, took a flying leap off the bed, and continued sounding her alarm all the way down the hall from the bedroom to the living room. Sometimes, I wondered how that massive Doberman attitude could even fit into the body of a five pound Yorkie.

“Those damned raccoons are at it again,” I mumbled to my wife. She didn’t respond, as usual. Anytime the dog called for assistance between 11:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m., the wife was totally off-line.

I began to stir a bit. “Shit, she probably needs to go out anyway.” But, then I remembered the doggie door I had just installed a couple of days before. Missy had a bit of trouble getting used to it at first, but eventually, by the end of the first night, she was a pro. Someday, my brain would accept the fact that it was there, and then I’d be able to sleep peacefully.

For now, the little Yorkie could let herself out anytime she heard those fucking raccoons and deal with them herself, and I knew this, which was why it was odd that she was still barking inside the house after five minutes. One of those damned rodents probably got in the house through her doggie door. Shit!

I started to sit up just when her barking finally stopped. “’Bout time,” I mumbled, again. Of course, the wife still had me tuned out.

I was trying to get myself back into sleep mode, when I realized that Missy hadn’t carried her barking fit outside. She just totally went silent all of a sudden, which was nice for a change, but completely out of character for her. Her Doberman attitude wouldn’t allow her to shut up that quickly. And that bothered me.

I was finally ready to sit up and check on her… and that’s when I noticed it.

I froze, keeping totally still, staring at it through the darkness of the room. It was standing in the doorway of our bedroom, backlit by the dim nightlight we kept plugged in down the hall; it was a dark silhouette of a figure, tall and thin, its shoulders hunched slightly with its knuckles hanging past its knees. Its head was oblong, and it appeared to be bald, making it easy for me to make out its pointed ears. I couldn’t tell if the thing was nude or not.

I couldn’t even see its face, but somehow I knew it was staring right back at me. It cocked its head to the side.

Something was clutched in its right hand. It looked like one of my wife’s wigs, the hair dangling between its fingers. Then, it brought the right hand up to its face, and I heard a faint whimper from Missy as the thing in the hall took a bite out of her little, limp body.

I knew I was in that state between sleep and awake but… WHAT THE FUCK WAS THIS?!

I was dreaming, right? I wanted to rub my eyes, but a slight tinge of fear kept me from moving. I even had to fight the urge to fart because I just knew it would not only be loud enough to wake the wife, but make the thing in the hall drop the dog and come after us. And, I needed to be sure I was able to get my hands on my gun first.

I always slept with it on my side of the bed in a holster tucked just under the mattress – my dad’s old .38 caliber service revolver. The only time it was ever loaded in the house was at bedtime.

I used to keep it loaded in my sock drawer all the time, but my son, Danny, found it a couple of years ago when he was about six, and the wife ripped me a new asshole over it. I wasn’t sure who to be more pissed at over the whole thing: myself for leaving the gun in a place he could get to it or Danny for sneaking into our room and rummaging through my sock drawer; I still don’t think I ever got a clear answer out of him about what he was looking for. Didn’t matter. The wife preached at me for days about getting rid of the damned thing. Saying shit about kids shooting themselves and each other, or someone breaking in, finding and using it against us. My debate was pretty convincing, though, if I do say so myself. The damned gun is still in the house, tucked under the mattress on my side of the bed. So, take that!

Of course, if my argument had included defending the family against a thing in the hall, she would have laughed at me for being so childish and stupid, but at this moment, I would be having the last laugh. Right? Sheesh… women!

Anyway, I was lying on my side, snuggled up behind the wife near the center of the bed, which meant the gun was about a foot and a half behind me, tucked between our mattresses. SHIT! I couldn’t reach it without turning over, and I wasn’t ready to do that just yet; I had no idea what the fuck this thing was standing in my doorway or how fast it could move.

The thing stood there, staring into the darkness of the room… its chest heaving with every breath, blood dripping from its jowls, silhouetted and backlit by the night light down the hall.

I began to ever so slowly inch my way backwards towards the gun, keeping my eye on the thing in the hall.

It moved, bringing the dog back up to its mouth. But, instead of taking another bite, it appeared to be sucking on its little body, no doubt draining her of blood. It was then that I figured this thing must have been some kind of vampire.

Yeah, whatever. I half-heartedly shook off a little, internal giggle because they don’t exist. They’re not real; yet, there was one standing in my hall sucking the blood out of my little dog. Um, okay.

I could finally feel the edge of the mattress with my ass and that meant the gun would be just behind my head. I was about the make a move for the gun, when the thing stepped into the room and walked right up to the wife’s side of the bed and just stood… staring at her.

I froze, trying to control my breathing.

Then, it bent over her, and I still couldn’t get a good look at it, but it was definitely there. Through the sleepy haze in my eyes, the one feature of this thing I could make out was its eyes – there was almost a slight hint of humanity in them as it stared at her.

Then, my skin crawled as I heard it whisper to the wife as if trying to get her to turn over and expose her neck to it. And, it worked because the thing whispered the one word that would get her attention no matter how hard she slept through Missy’s late-night barking fits.

In a raspy, almost inhuman, voice, it whispered “Mmommy”.

She moved.

The thing bent closer as she turned her head, exposing her neck.

That’s when I went into action. I quickly threw the covers off and spun out of bed, landing on my knees on the floor. The .38’s grip and trigger were peeking from between the sheets, making it easy to slide it from its holster.

In one fluid motion – I drew the pistol. Cocked the hammer - *SHA-CLICK*. Aimed it at the thing’s silhouette.

The thing saw me move and looked right at me, reaching its hand out to me.

The wife switched on her bedside lamp and bathed my vision in blinding light.

I pulled the trigger!

BLAM!!!

But, something was wrong, and my heart sank in an instant because in the split second between the time the light hit my eyes and the .38 let out its deafening yelp, I caught a glimpse of Danny’s face looking at me, his hand held up as if trying to stop me from what I was doing.

My eyes needed time to adjust to the sudden invasion of light, but my brain already knew what had happened.

The wife screamed, and as my eyes became focused and adjusted, I saw her face covered in Danny’s blood and gore. She was in complete shock, hands trembling, and face frozen in an almost exaggerated expression of disgust and disbelief.

It wasn’t until I gathered my senses and stood that I saw the carnage I had created: my son’s little body was slumped in a pile of death on the floor between the bed and the wall. My bullet hit him in center of the forehead and removed the entire top of his head. I threw up all over the bed at the sight, as well as at the thought, of what I had just done… I had just killed my only child – my little boy – my Danny.

Denial grabbed me for just a second, but my conscience quickly beat it back. This was real, right? It had to be… it felt real. The ringing in my ears from the .38’s thunderous roar seemed real. My son’s lifeless body looked real. Even the wife’s sobbing and whimpering sounded real.

I began to walk around to the other side of the bed, so I could better assess my situation.

The wife, between sobs, asked, “Wha… what the hell have you done? Are you insane?”

I reached the foot of the bed and got a better look at Danny on the floor, with his Teddy bear in his hand. It wasn’t a thing in the hall after all, and he sure as hell hadn’t been eating our dog.

That’s when, in the near silence of the moment, I heard it again: that fucking, inhuman whispering:

“Yoouu sssiick ffuucckk.”

I couldn’t believe where it was coming from until I turned my gaze to the wife, sitting on the bed, and saw that she wasn’t herself… she was that goddamned thing from the hall with the oblong head and pointy ears and bloody face. Its grey skin was stretched over its skull so tight that I thought it would rip at any moment, and it smiled at me with a grin full of sharp teeth; I don’t think it had any lips.

I raised my gun.

Displaying total defiance, the thing reached its hands out to me and screamed with its huge mouth that came unhinged at the jaw, and from the depths of its throat, eight tentacles, the size of human fingers and lined with jagged teeth, emerged from its mouth. It looked as if a small octopus was trying to escape, and in an instant, the tentacles quickly extended towards me as the thing let out a guttural, ear-piercing scream.

But, my .38 screamed louder…

BLAM BLAM!!!

BLAM!!!

The first two were face shots… and messy, too. After the thing fell backward onto the wife’s pillow, the third bullet went in under the chin and ruptured the jugular, spraying its blood high into the air.

“FUCK YOU!” I screamed back. I let out a victorious laugh and stepped over my son to get a better look at this thing that was now dead in my bed, but to my horror…

“No, no, no… NNNOOOOO!!! WHAT THE…?!”

For one shocking moment, I found myself staring at the wife’s body, her face contorted in a death mask of blood, mucous, and gore. The hollow point showered most of her brains across the bed’s headboard, and now bloody chunks of it slid down onto her pillow like bits of her memories coming to their final resting place.

I spun around, frantically searching the room for that damned thing. I knew it had to be somewhere.

“Where the hell are you, you son of a bitch?!” I forced the words through a spray of spit and tears.

After a while, I just sat on the bed and dropped the gun. I considered calling the police, but I could already hear them outside as the blue and red lights danced against my window from the street.

However, what I couldn’t hear was our little Yorkie, Missy. By this time, she would have been announcing the arrival of the police banging on the front door. But, there was not a peep from her -no barking… nothing.

And now, I’m lying in the top bunk of my jail cell, a month later, and it’s been a while since I’ve seen that thing from the hall. But, it’s after midnight, and I can finally rest, again… well, I can tonight, anyway… because I just ripped that fucking thing’s throat out with my bare hands for whispering at me from the bunk below.

 

 

 

 

 

SCRITCHING

 

 

That ‘scritching’ sound. Very light. Barely audible. Like someone lightly picking their nails over silk. That’s what woke me up, believe it or not.

In the pitch blackness of my tent, I pull the sleeping bag closer around me, not quite ready to move until I know what the hell that thing is making that ‘scritching’ sound.

This year, I decided to spend my summer vacation hiking in Brazil. I’ve only been out here in its glorious wilderness for a few days and it is quite breathtaking.

But, my trip so far hasn’t been without some annoyance. The first night I made camp, I thought I was going to go crazy at the constant screeching of some damned owl that had perched itself high above my tent. All fucking night long: SCREEEECH!!! SCREEEECH!!!

Fuck you, bird!

Earlier this afternoon, I hiked for about five hours and stopped in a rocky area with no foliage overhead. I decided to camp out here where no damned birds would keep me up half the night.

By the time I bedded down, there was a full moon in a sky that was clear for as far as the eye could see. I went ahead and pitched my tent out under the beautifully moonlit, wide open, night sky.

So, now I’m awake because of a little ‘scritching’. Actually, it’s turned into a lot of ‘scritching’. And becoming more and more constant. When I first heard it, it was faint, but the more awake I’ve become, the more I realize that it’s all around me.

It sounds like the wind is blowing small pebbles or loose sand against my tent.

Through sleepy eyes, I think I can see the skin of the tent moving.

I peek at my watch. It’s one o’clock in the morning.

I’ve only been asleep for just over an hour. The moon should be high and bright enough for me to see through my tent. But, it’s nearly pitch black in here.

And what the hell is that ‘scritching’?!

Wait, something is moving along the outside of my tent. Whatever it is has covered the entire outer skin. That’s where the ‘scritching’ is coming from. It’s everywhere.

As I scan the pitch blackness of my tent, I can make out the glow of the moon every few seconds. But, then, it disappears, once again, for a moment; obscured by the moving veil of whatever the hell is ‘scritching’ all over the outside of my tent.

It’s really creeping me out. In fact, it’s making my skin crawl. I can feel my legs tingling as the feeling moves up my calves and right up to my knees. Now the feeling is creeping up my thighs. Such a distinct feeling. It’s giving me goosebumps. I never knew fear could produce such a sensation. It’s as if something is actually crawling up my legs.

As I stare through the darkness at the thin walls of my tent, I feel the involuntary creeping sensation make its way up my neck and over my scalp. Something has truly gotten a hold of me. I have to get my fear under control.

I reach outside of my sleeping bag and my fingers find the power button of my electric lantern. Maybe the light from within my tent will scare the ‘scritching’ away. I’ll turn it on in an effort to drown my fear once and for all.

I push the button.

In the near blackness of the tent, the light isn’t a very welcome guest, at first.

My eyes adjust.

I immediately know that the ‘scritching’ on the skin of my tent isn’t a thing. It’s dozens of things. Hundreds of things! Some of them as big as my hand!

Oh God! They’ve swarmed and covered my tent! So many of them that they’ve actually blocked out the moonlight! What the fuck?!

It hasn’t been fear making my skin crawl! It’s them!

They’re crawling up my legs.

They’re creeping up my neck and covering my scalp!

Shit! I must have pitched my tent right on top of their nest! And now they’ve covered it, and me, in a giant web!

I need to get the fuck out of here!

But, I can’t move. Jesus Christ, why can’t I move? More fear?

No, it’s not fear. It’s something else.

OW! Fuck! They’re biting me!

I can’t move my hand! I can’t wiggle my toes!

They’re all over my face!

I could scream. I know I can still do that, but I dare not open my mouth.

One of them is trying to crawl up my nose. Shit! Shit! I can’t stop it.

I can’t breathe, you eight-legged asshole!

I open my mouth to take a breath.

I just sucked one of them in!

Another one follows!

And another!

Their legs tickle the roof of my mouth.

One of them is trying to crawl down my throat!

Shit! I think one just bit my tongue.

I can’t breathe!

I CAN’T BREATHE!!!

I CAN’T…

 

 

 

 

 

LANNA

 

 

“Gerald! GERALD!”

Her voice was shrill, like a banshee, and it echoed through the house. I turned the water off and left the pot soaking in the sink as I left the kitchen and walked down the long hall to our bedroom.

In the forty years I had spent with Lanna, this past year had been the worst. But, that’s not how I wanted to think of my wife – as some bossy, loud-mouthed, inconsiderate, devil of a bitch. So, like the loving husband I have always tried to be to her, I answered her call every time.

After all, she couldn’t help it; it wasn’t her fault that she was in this condition, so, if she was going to hate the world for it, I would rather her take it out on me instead of anyone else.

I reached the bedroom and found her on the floor between the bed and her wheelchair. Once again, she had tried to get out of bed unassisted – a nasty habit that I knew she would never break.

“Didn’t you hear me on the floor? What the hell’s wrong with you?”

“Sorry, honey, I should have been listening better.” I helped her into the chair, with no assistance from her, of course.

She had been getting heavier, it seemed. Or was I just getting older? Ever since her double amputation four years ago, she had become nothing more than dead weight. And with us both now in our seventies, there just wasn’t anything more I could do physically for her. But, I couldn’t bring myself to let her down in any way. I loved her.

“You never listen, Gerald!” She reminded me, as usual, as I tucked her blanket under her thighs. She slapped my hands away. “Leave it, dammit. Change the bed sheets. You took so damned long, I pissed the bed again. Jeezus Christ!”

She wheeled herself into the bathroom as I gathered the sheets and prepared to swap them for clean ones.

In the next forty minutes, I had her bathed, out of the tub, and ready for her weekly trip into town.

My back was killing me as I helped her into the car, put her wheelchair in the trunk, and drove to her favorite café for lunch.

As I drove, I thought about how it seemed as though Lanna was beginning to lose her mind. Just over a year ago is when it started. At 2:30 in the morning, I sat straight up in the bed and found she was gone! I was scared to death that I had lost her. I actually had to take the car and search for her.

When I finally found her, she had made it to the parking lot of our church – in her wheelchair – almost two miles from the house. She yelled at me the entire ride home; it was all gibberish about keeping her prisoner. It was beginning to become a pretty frequent occurrence. And every time I found her, she got more and more belligerent with me.

I felt there were even times she didn’t remember who I was.

We pulled up to the café, and as I unloaded her wheel chair, helped her out of the car, and wheeled her chair along the sidewalk to the café door, I was greeted with the usual uneasy stares and half-smiles of several people walking by.

I understood why, of course. After all, it was a small town, and most of our neighbors knew how she had begun treating me over the last year. To them, she was probably just a mean old lady to her husband. And ever since that first night I found her at 2:30 in the morning, the stares came more often, especially when we came to town.

On Sunday mornings at church, nobody really acted any different towards us; they all minded their own business. But, of course, they all knew us better than the other townsfolk did.

We sat in the café. I had my usual: scrambled eggs, 2 slices of bacon, biscuits and gravy, and black coffee. I ordered Lanna her favorite: the turkey club with the crust of the bread removed.

Jenny, our pastor’s twenty-year-old daughter, waited on us.

“Mr. Willis, when are you ever gonna order somethin’ new? Them taste buds of yours ain’t gettin’ any younger.” She giggled.

I laughed and chewed on a piece of bacon.

Lanna stared me down with a look that could have set my face on fire. “Eat your food, you dirty, old bastard. She’s only flirting with you for the damned tip.”

“She wasn’t flirting, dear. She… she was just making a little joke.”

“It wasn’t funny. You just keep your wandering eyes on your plate, Mr. Willis.” Her voice was stern and harsh, and once again, I was getting stares from a few tables.

“Yes, honey. Please don’t make a scene.”

“Then hurry and stuff your damned face, so we can go.”

Lanna hadn’t touched her food, as usual. The sandwich just sat in front of her.

After a few minutes, Jenny returned with the bill.

“Could we get a to-go box for Lanna’s lunch, please?”

Jenny left and returned shortly with a small Styrofoam container. She smiled a little uneasily in Lanna’s direction before leaving the table. Lanna didn’t even acknowledge the young beauty.

After a short visit to Lee’s Hardware, we headed home.

I worked on the leaky kitchen faucet, along with a few other chores on my list, while Lanna watched her TV shows in bed.

After sundown, I cooked dinner and brought it to her.

Before I knew, it was bed time. I kissed her goodnight and went to my room; Lanna wouldn’t allow me to share the bed with her. She said I kept her up at night with my snoring.

I sorely missed sleeping with her, though. Feeling her next to me. Snuggling with her. Hearing her breathe in the dark. Holding her hand when a bad dream caused her to toss and turn. Waking up to see her when the sun came up.

When we were young – so young – she used to tell me I was the other half of her heart. She could call me every name in the book, yell at me all night, and throw anything she wanted at me when she got upset… I didn’t care; I knew that wasn’t the real Lanna. She would always be my love, no matter what anyone thought of her behavior, lately.

I fell asleep with sweet memories of her on my mind.

I was awakened, suddenly! That noise! A sound in the dark pulled me from my sleep, once again. It was loud. A pounding, maybe? I couldn’t place what it had been, but my heart sank when the first thing I thought of was Lanna on the floor again.

I got up, rushed to her room, and flooded it with light as I flipped the switch.

She was gone! Dammit!!!

I quickly got dressed and grabbed my keys. I knew exactly where she was going, and I had to get to her before something happened and I lost her. I couldn’t bare the thought.

I drove quickly, running several stop signs. There was nobody on the street at 2:30 in the morning, so, nobody was in danger. Nobody but my Lanna.

I reached the church, but nowhere along the way did I pass her. I stopped the car in the parking lot and got out.

“Lanna!” I roamed the lot and the street in front of the church, searching for her. Hoping that I beat her to the church, and she would come rolling up any minute in her chair.

“LANNA!” I could feel myself beginning to get nervous. Fear was setting in – fear that I had lost her.

The tears welled up in my eyes. “Lanna! Please come back!” My voice began to break. “I’m sorry! Whatever it is I’ve done, I’ll do better!”

I walked to the front door of the church and sat on the steps and whimpered. “Just come home.”

I tried to think about where she could have gone, but deep in my heart I knew. I knew, and it hurt. I didn’t want to think about it.

I got up and walked around to the back of the church. I followed the sidewalk between the parsonage, where the pastor and his family lived, and the children’s church annex. I continued across the rear parking lot and through the gate of the fence beyond.

The grass here had been freshly mowed the afternoon before; I could smell it. I walked along, slowly and with a heavy heart, until I reached her wheelchair.

It was exactly where I knew it would be. Where I was afraid it would be.

By the light of the moon, I stared down at her beautiful, marble grave marker:

 

“Svetlanna Lynn Willis

Beloved Wife. My Best Friend

January 1944 – June 2015”

 

It seemed that she finally managed to leave me for a second time, and, somehow, I knew she would be much happier without me.

So, heartbroken, I sat there in her empty wheelchair at the foot of her grave and cried.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I WATCH CANDICE

 

 

Every night, I watch Candice through the mirror over her vanity. She doesn’t even know can see her.

Ahh… here she is, coming in from the bathroom. She just stepped out of the shower and she’s got that towel wrapped around her hair like a turban.

She’s just as beautiful as the first day I saw her. That was only eight years ago. Wow, time flies.

The way she moved in that red dress on the dance floor with the grace of a swan was captivating to everyone in the room that night. She was happy and vibrant and so full of life.

Now, she’s just a shell of a woman since we parted. She stares at herself in this mirror and frowns an awful lot. She even cries herself to sleep just sitting right there. Well, I know that my leaving her was so unexpected, and I’m ready to be with her again, but reuniting with me will have to be her choice, now.

So, until she makes that choice, I’ll just watch her.

Sometimes, I watch her sleep for hours and I’ve noticed things about her that I’ve never noticed before. Like, holy shit does she kick a lot while she’s sleeping. And she does hog the covers; she used to tell me she didn’t. But she does. She even cuddles up with what used to be my pillow. I know it smells like me.

Yeah, she misses me, still.

However, lately, she’s been thinking about dating again. That bothers me… a lot.

I don’t like to think about her with another man. And I sure as hell don’t want to see her with one.

For the last few nights, Candice has been talking to some guy on the phone. Her best friend, Bobbi, keeps trying to get her to move on by playing matchmaker with my girl and some idiot.

Oh, wait, here she comes. That towel wrapped around her hair is about to come off as she sits down at her vanity and stares right at me.

Hmph… If she only knew.

I love watching her brush her hair. I used to watch her from the bed when we were together. Her long, black hair – fine as silk – flowed over the bristles of that brush.

Something is different tonight, though. She’s beginning to style her hair. She just put it up in the bow she wore the first night I saw her.

Now she’s putting on her makeup. And those earrings! I bought her those for our first Christmas together! What the hell is she doing?

That necklace was a gift for her on our fifth anniversary!

Wait… where’s she going? I can’t see her! Shit!

What the hell? I thought she was getting ready for bed!

Get back over here!

Ahh, that’s better…

Hey! I know that dress! That’s the red dress! You gotta be kidding me! She’s got a date?!

For chrissakes! It’s 1:45 in the morning! Who the fuck is she going to see wearing the all that shit I got her? And in that dress?

It’s only been a couple of weeks! She’s already over me? This is bullshit!

Oh, now she’s gonna cry. Good! I hope she’s thinking about me. In fact, I hope the thought of me ruins her fucking date! A memory of me is the perfect cock block!

Wait… what is that? What the fuck is that? Is that my fucking gun?

Oh, God please don’t let her put it to her temple. The bullet might not kill her.

Let her put it in her mouth… like I did.

Yesss!!! Nibble on that barrel, baby.

Oh man, I can’t wait to be with her again!

 

 

 

 

 

L-239

 

 

Ethel had to fix this fucking mess before anyone noticed the stench.

Last week’s electrical storm had knocked out the power at the storage facility, and when the old woman arrived for her weekly visit, she realized from the odor that the power surge had shorted out her deepfreeze.

She figured it’d be wiser to return after dark – way after dark – with her new freezer. She had to do this, and do it quickly, because if management found out she was keeping her own personal butcher shop in $150 a month storage unit, the shit storm to follow would be a thousand times worse than the mess she was dealing with tonight.

After her husband, Cletus, died eighteen years ago in a tractor accident, she had to sell their farm. She used the money to open her own little BBQ and burger diner just off of Highway 14.

Every weekend, for nearly two decades, Ethel had worked hard at building a good reputation for serving the best steaks and burgers made from the fresh meats she brought in herself. She usually had to shop for them out of town because, in her opinion, the local supply of meat just wasn’t good enough.

Ethel had wisely chosen a unit way in the back of the lot with good reason: hardly anyone came back there. Most of the tenants on this little block – block “L” – were rarely around anyway. In fact, it was so tucked away in the back corner of the lot that, ever since Ethel started renting unit L-239 about sixteen years ago, she may have run into a “neighbor” maybe four or five times; and that was making a visit to L-239 once a week.

So, she was pretty confident that she could deal with this problem without any other issues aside from the shitty task of bringing in the new deepfreeze and disposing of the old one all by herself. After all, at 73, Ethel was no spring chicken, but being a stout old farm girl, she figured she could hold her own.

She also knew that all of her meat had to be replaced. Shit! Now she’d be working hard for the next couple of weeks to replace what she’d lost.

She slipped the key into the lock and opened the unit. The stench was nearly blinding as it wafted upwards into her face from inside L-239. She left the keys dangling in the lock and raised the retractable door up just enough to crouch under. She took a deep breath and entered the unit.

With a CLICK… she turned on the floodlight near the door. She made her way to the back of the fifteen by twenty-five-foot unit on a narrow footpath between old memories stacked from floor to ceiling. At the end of the short path, the unit opened up to her little butcher shop. But, before she could do anything else, Ethel had to grab a couple of fans and air out this fucking stink hole, otherwise she’d hit the floor from the stench of rotted meat.

With a series of long extension cords and a hole cut into the side of L-239, she had been able to steal electricity for years from a nearby house about fifty yards through the woods on the other side of the fence that sat right up against her corner unit. In fact, the people she stole electricity from were customers of hers. She always gave them a special discount.

Ethel plugged in the box fans and opened the door a couple of feet. Hopefully, it wouldn’t take long to clear out the odor.

She returned to her butcher area and turned on the floodlight there. Something just didn’t feel right. Her prep table stood in front of a small cabinet where she kept her knives and cleaver along with a couple of flashlights. Against the back wall sat the white deepfreeze, and she immediately saw that the lid was propped open a couple of inches, but she couldn’t tell what kept it from closing.

She had been in a hurry the last time she was here, and the freezer was so packed that she had a feeling she might have overstuffed it. She did the same damned thing several years ago, too. But, at that time, the freezer was able to keep everything cold enough, and she really only had to throw out a couple of racks of ribs when she returned the next week.

Ethel took a deep breath, walked to the freezer, and finally took a look at what kept the lid from closing: a hand.

She rolled her eyes and cursed to herself as she lifted the lid and shoved the hand back into the chest so she could close it.

She started to walk away but wheeled around and locked her eyes on the bloody handprint that was smeared down the front of the deepfreeze. On the floor, a second bloody handprint trailed away from it.

Ethel’s eyes began to wander as she scanned the shadowy surroundings of the storage unit. Some of those deep shadows could easily hide someone who was able to find their way out of that icebox.

Fuck! She shook her head, disappointed at herself for not bleeding out her most recent catch before shoving the guy into the freezer. But, Ethel had been in a big hurry that day and figured she’d given him enough of a tranquilizer to keep him out until he froze to death. She would have just thawed him, bled him, and butchered him next week.

Dammit, how much tranquilizer did it take to keep a small Asian man down, anyway? She had never made this kind of a mistake in her twenty years of business.

Well, now she had an even bigger problem with livestock loose in her butcher shop, but her hunting ground was very small with very limited space. This should be easy.

Ethel grabbed her cleaver and a flashlight from her cabinet.

“Bobby,” she called out, shining the flashlight into some of the nearby shadows.

Unit L-239 was a forest of furniture, old bicycles, boxes, and other useless shit covered with blankets, and the harsh glow of the two floodlights at either end of the storage space cast odd, stark shadows throughout the claustrophobic storage unit.

The beam from Ethel’s flashlight trailed along the path between the two walls of useless junk until she realized that the door was still open. Bobby could just run out into the night if she didn’t close that damn thing. She headed towards the door.

Halfway down the path, something behind her shifted.

Bobby struck. He hit her in the back with a ceramic lamp that shattered across her shoulders.

Ethel stumbled forward but caught herself against the arm of her old couch.

She swung around, her cleaver cutting through the air and slicing Bobby across his chest. It wasn’t a deep slice but enough to draw blood and pain.

Bobby stumbled backward and grabbed his chest as the burly, black woman stood upright and squared off against the short Asian man.

She shook off his meager attack.

“That’s why you ain’t gonna make it outta this gotdam room alive, chopsticks.” She smiled at him. “You hit like a fuckin’ girl.”

Ethel gripped her cleaver and stepped towards him.

Bobby backed away quickly. The burning pain across his chest made his eyes water. He rubbed his eyes, and the blood on his hands made them sting.

He blinked hard once…

Ethel was closer.

Twice…

Her cleaver was raised high.

Three times…

Her flashlight blinded him.

He stuck out his hand to shield his eyes from the light.

Ethel swung the cleaver.

Sheer pain shot through Bobby’s hand, up his arm, and into his brain as his thumb was hacked clean off by Ethel’s cleaver.

He screamed. Then, he lost his footing and stumbled backward to the floor. Ethel’s cleaver whipped overhead as he fell.

Bobby found himself under the prep table.

Ethel closed the distance fast.

Bobby’s brain worked faster. He brought his feet up and kicked out, launching the table at Ethel.

In mid-stride, Ethel’s legs caught the edge of the tabletop as it came down in front of her. She tripped, tumbled forward over it, and nearly landed on top of Bobby.

The cleaver hit the floor with a CLANK and skidded away.

The flashlight bounced once, breaking apart and spilling its batteries.

Bobby scrambled to his feet and began kicking Ethel in the face and chest.

“You crazy black bitch! I’ll kill you!”

She rolled over, turning her back to him. Then, she quickly rolled towards him, trapping his feet and bringing him to the floor. She climbed on top of him and began pounding at his chest and face.

Bobby covered himself the best he could from the onslaught of her meaty fists, and it was almost too much for him until she slowed her attack.

Ethel could feel herself tiring out with this little bastard. How? She knew he was no match for her: a scrawny little Vietnamese guy against a strong, beefy farm girl. No contest! Right?

Bobby definitely wasn’t the first man she’d had to beat to death. Hell, Cletus was twice the man that this little shit was. And, for years, he used her like a punching bag every time he came in from working the field and got drunk; he couldn’t keep his hands off of her. She finally decided to give him a taste of his own shit by literally beating his head in and crushing his throat with her bare hands. Years of milking cows… it did her body good.

But that was years ago, and now, age was catching up to Ethel. She was winded already after just a few minutes of tangling with Bobby.

She grabbed his head and slammed it against the floor. That was enough to daze him, and he nearly blacked out. His arms went numb and slumped to the floor over his head.

She managed to get to her feet and staggered around, searching for her cleaver.

Bobby’s vision had become blurred for a moment. His fingers felt something long, thin, and flexible. He craned his head to see what he was touching.

Ethel spotted her cleaver, barely visible in a shadow under a blanket that covered an old table. She walked toward it.

Bobby blinked a few times until he realized he was holding the electrical cord of the floodlight. Mustering his strength and fighting the pain in his cleaved hand, he yanked as hard as he could.

Ethel was a few feet from her cleaver when everything went dark in the back of unit L-239. Even though the light on the other end of the unit was still on, it was nearly completely dark here. She reached down to where she knew she had last seen the cleaver. Her fingers groped the cold, cement floor.

She could hear Bobby fumbling around in the darkness behind her, and she knew he wasn’t trying to escape just yet; he was searching for something with which to finish her off, first.

She wasn’t worried about it, though. What the fuck could he find to use against her? He had spent nearly a week in total darkness. There was no way he could even know where anything of any use would be. He hadn’t had the time to get a look at anything since she’d been there tonight, such as her collection of knives in the cabinet against the far wall.

Ah-ha! There it is. Her fingers touched the blade of her cleaver. She groped and found the handle and felt her fingers wrap around it.

Bobby was suddenly on her back. He wrapped something around her throat.

Bobby gripped the electrical cord as tightly as he could with one thumb missing. Ethel began to struggle and grab at the cord around her throat. She swung her cleaver blindly at him, so he drove his knee into her back.

The stabbing pain of his bony knee was enough to put Ethel on the floor. She dropped the cleaver, and with both hands, she tried to ease the tension of the cord, instead. It was no use. With his weight on her back and the flow of air blocked, she was blacking out.

Bobby strained against Ethel’s throat until she struggled no more. She stopped breathing. He listened for a heartbeat… nothing.

He stood up and took a deep sigh of relief.

“Fuck you!” He stomped on her back as hard as he could, one last time.

Bobby walked towards the door. The short, narrow path was the longest he had ever walked. Silly visions of Ethel rising behind him and cleaving him wormed their way into his imagination. It made him want to walk faster, but he hadn’t the strength. He knew he had lost a lot of blood.

The floodlight at the front of the storage unit was a bit blinding, but he could see the door raised a few feet with the fans blowing in front of it. As he reached the floodlight, he kicked it over. The bulb shattered against the floor.

He reached the door and lifted it, opening it all the way. He stepped outside. After a week in the unit engulfed in the stench of death, Bobby finally took a breath of fresh air. Cool and breezy.

Ethel’s pickup stood in front of him. The new deepfreeze sat in the back. Bobby just stared at it in awe and disbelief. That crazy bitch had a busy night ahead of her.

He walked to the driver’s side door and opened it.

He reached for the ignition… no keys.

Shit. The last damned thing he wanted to do was go back inside and get them from her.

Taking a deep breath, he walked back toward the unit, and there were the keys, dangling from the lock on the door and staring him right in the face.

He smiled.

Bobby reached for the keys.

 

><><><><><><

 

Charlie was seated atop his favorite stool at the end of the counter. By now, he had been the tiny diner’s most loyal customer, having enjoyed the burgers almost every day for the last twelve years.

He was a bit disappointed when his favorite eatery was closed up for a few weeks due to a “family emergency”, but now the doors were reopened, and he was back to claim his rightful spot and indulge in what he considered to be the best burgers in the world.

Charlie finished the last bite of his favorite menu item, “The Big Ol’ Burger”, savoring the flavor before washing it down with his iced tea.

“Christ almighty.” Charlie wiped his lips with a napkin. “That has got to be the best burger I’ve ever had.” He announced it to the small room of just over a dozen customers. “Is that a new beef? I’ll bet it’s Angus. It has to be, but I just can’t place the flavor.”

Ethel briefly turned away from her little grill. The sizzling sounds and mouth-watering aromas of several burger patties over the flames filled the air.

She smiled at Charlie. “It’s an Asian selection.”

 

 

 

 

 

CURIOSITY IS A SICK BITCH

 

 

I was a cook at an Italian restaurant. This particular night had been extremely busy. We closed at midnight and here it was nearly 2 hours later and I had just clocked out.

On my way out the back door, my boss asked if I could grab the last of the trash and toss it out on my way. Sure, no prob. Hell, it was just a couple of bags of garbage.

“See you tomorrow, bud,” Jeff, my boss, said. Then, he locked the door behind me.

I stood there for a moment and lit a cig, before doing anything else. Sure, I could have just tossed away the trash first, but I’m a slacker. Fuck off.

The alley between us and the dry cleaner next door was dark and funky. And I don’t mean funky as in The Commodores bass-slappin’ “Brick House” funky. No, I mean funky as in “what the fuck is that smell?” kind of funky. Or “drunks and homeless people use the alley as a shit house” kind of funky.

The bulb above our back door did its best to shine through the cruddy, piece of shit glass globe that covered it. It was the only light in the alley, with the exception of the street lamp that lit up the sidewalk at the end of the alley thirty feet away.

I was about four drags into my cancer stick when I remembered that some guy recently got knifed to death right outside our back door. He had been beaten, stabbed about eight or nine times, and his throat was cut from ear to ear.

In fact, he was killed just a few feet from where I was presently killing myself with this cig. I don’t think anyone ever caught the murderer or even found out why it happened. He was probably some slacker in the wrong place at the wrong time. I half-ass chuckled at the thought.

Shit. That’s actually not funny at all.

I quickly flicked the cig away and grabbed the trash bags. I decided I wasn’t standing out here any longer than I had to. I wasn’t about to wait around and have to fight off some asswipe who wanted to come along and shank me, too. I’m no badass. Like I said, I’m a slacker.

There were two dumpsters right outside the back door of the restaurant and my previous two trips with the garbage earlier had pretty much topped off one of them, so I opened the top of the other one and looked inside right before heaving in the first bag.

And that’s when I saw it. By the dim light of our bulb, a shoe was clearly visible.

At first, I thought it was just a random sneaker that someone had thrown out in our trash. But, then, I saw the white sock and black pant leg leading away from the shoe and disappearing beneath a couple of boxes. I jumped back with a start. Fuck this!

I went to the door and banged on it. I got no answer. The boss had already gone. Shit!

I dug for my phone. It wasn’t in any of my pockets. Dammit! This wasn’t the first time I left that stupid thing in the restaurant.

I slowly walked back over to the dumpster. Glanced in.

Curiosity is a sick bitch!

I moved one of the boxes. There was hand was cocked at an odd angle. Lifeless, limp and covered in blood. I think there was a stab wound in it.

This was fucked up! I had to find a cop or something.

I looked down the alley toward the streetlamp and sidewalk. I was working up the courage to make a mad-assed dash through the darkness toward the light when I thought about what I had just seen in the dumpster. Something wasn’t right.

That shoe. I knew that shoe. Holy shit! That body in the trash was someone from the restaurant! But who? I couldn’t remember who wore those shoes.

Tom and Dakota had left an hour ago. Zack and Jacob left right before I did.

I crept back to the dumpster. I listened. To what?! What the hell was I listening for? That was stupid.

I looked in at the shoe. I saw the hand, again. I had to know who this was before I ran for the police.

I moved another box. His shirt was covered in blood. And from what I could see, it had been slashed about eight or nine times, no doubt, by a knife.

And that shirt. I recognized it, too.

Oh shit. I didn’t want to have to I.D. one of my co-workers for the cops. That would not be cool.

I couldn’t reach the garbage bag covering his face without climbing into the dumpster. This was definitely not cool. I waded through the trash and boxes and reached the bag.

My nerves were pretty much shot at this point. And, for a moment, I figured I’d just go for the cops. But, that sick bitch got the better of me and she forced my hand to grab the bag.

I moved it aside.

As soon as I saw my own, dead face staring toward the night sky, I immediately understood why I knew those shoes so well. My throat had been cut from ear to ear. The features of my own corpse’s face were frozen in a mask of pain and terror. My lifeless eyes were opened wide and veiled with death’s glaze; they had rolled, sickly, to one side, and one of them was lolling more to the left than the other.

So, I sat there in that smelly dumpster staring at myself. And tomorrow night it would happen all over again.

 

 

 

 

 

BENEATH THE CLUBHOUSE

 

 

It all started last month when they accidentally dug up the body.

Actually, let me back up…

It was the spring of ‘87, in my small hometown in Louisiana. Back then, I was a scrawny fifteen-year-old boy whose main role in high school’s circle of life was being bullied. And with a name like Peter, you can only imagine the shit I had to endure. Not to mention the fucked up little nicknames with which I was branded.

My best friend was a fellow fifteen-year-old named Marty. A little more on the huskier side, Marty was just as much

a target of the bullies as I was. Of course, his nickname was a bit more tolerable than mine. He was fortunate to get through the first years of high school as “Farty Marty” while I got stuck with shit like “Peter Twat-n-Tail” or just plain “Dick”. And then, there was my personal favorite, “Penis the Menace”. Did I mention this was high school?

Anyway, during the previous summer in ’86, Marty’s dad built us a clubhouse behind his old garage in their backyard. And this wasn’t just any ordinary clubhouse; this was a technological marvel of engineering to a couple of fourteen year olds. But, basically it was a twelve-foot by twelve-foot shed that stood twenty feet off the ground atop four solid wooden posts with a steep, narrow set of stairs that ascended up towards the small landing right in front of the door. A thin metal railing at the top kept us from falling over the edge of the landing. His dad even wired it for electricity… well, it had an extension cord that ran from the garage.

Marty and I spent a hell of a lot of nights in that little clubhouse playing Dungeons & Dragons, Risk and Atari games into the wee hours of the morning (Yeah, we were total fucking nerds. So what?). Eventually, we would break out the sleeping bags and just lie there and tell each other stupid jokes or talk about girls or the latest episode of Miami Vice or whatever.

Now, stay with me because this is leading to something pretty fucked up.

Back then, the king of bullies was a lanky, six-foot tall, redneck ass-clown named David Tanner. Known to everyone as Buddy, he was a seventeen-year-old shit-burger still trying to get through the tenth grade. Buddy was a violent bully. He didn’t give wedgies or swirlies like the bullshit you see in those stupid teenybopper movies. Oh, not a chance. He would just knock the shit out of you. Kids like me and Marty had lived with the non-stop shame and pain of Buddy’s bullshit for years.

So, anyway, the spring of ’87 was nearly over with only a month left of school. It was a beautiful Friday afternoon. Marty and I were sitting at the table on his front porch, deeply enthralled in a game of Risk.

That’s when we saw her: the girl who would unknowingly have a hand in changing the course of our lives forever. She was visiting the Busby’s place across the street for the weekend; we’d later learn that she was Mrs. Busby’s niece. She was our age and very cute, and we couldn’t tear our eyes away from her bikini-clad body while she sunbathed. So, like the two sex-crazed teenage boys that we were, we stared at her, though we pretended not to.

That’s when Buddy drove up in his piece of shit, redneck pickup truck. He pulled right into the Busby’s driveway and went inside for a while. When he finally came out and backed out of the driveway, Buddy looked over at us.

“Take your fuckin’ eyes off my cousin, you little pussies!” He took a gulp from his beer bottle. “Don’t let me catch you lookin’ at her again!” He chucked the bottle onto the road as he peeled away.

Okay, now, I can’t say that we actually stopped looking at his cousin (whose name, by the way, I still don’t know to this day), but we didn’t stare as much. We tried to concentrate more on the game than on her.

About an hour later, Marty stepped inside the house to fill up the lemonade pitcher and grab another bag of Cheetos. That’s when Buddy drove back by. And, of course, the first damned thing he did was look in my direction and catch me looking at his cousin.

“I fuckin’ warned you, you little shit!” As he passed, he slowed just enough to give me the news. “I’ll see you later!” Then, he drove away.

I am thoroughly convinced, even to this day, that he drove his truck back down the street just to catch one of us, or both, looking at his cousin because he never returned to the Busby’s house that day.

That night, Marty and I were in the clubhouse. At about one thirty in the morning, we were deep into a Dungeons & Dragons adventure.

Then, there was a knock at the clubhouse door.

I got up from the table to answer the door because we thought it was probably just Marty’s dad; he would usually check up on us to see if we needed anything before he hit the sack. However, we never heard his heavy footsteps come up the stairs.

The knock came again.

Marty and I looked at each other for a moment.

I opened the door.

Standing there, half-cast in shadow, was Buddy. I could smell the beer all over him.

“What’s up, Penis the Menace? I fuckin’ told you I’d see you later.” He wasted no time pushing his way through the door. “Who said you could look at my cousin?” He shoved me backwards against the table. “The fuck was you thinkin’, huh? You thinkin’ some dirty shit?”

I was speechless. Trembling.

This guy had some balls. For him to actually come onto Marty’s property, walk through the front yard and into the back, and then head right up the steps to our clubhouse door, he was sending the message loud and clear that he was not leaving this clubhouse without getting his knuckles bloodied.

“You think you gonna get some of that little ass?” He stepped up to me. “Is that what you want? You wanna fuck my cousin?” He brought his face right up to mine. His glazed eyes looked right through me. “I’m fuckin’ talkin’ to you!”

Now, I had always heard that in a moment of extreme fear a person was capable of doing something they never had the guts to do before. And, for me, that moment came when Buddy grabbed me by the throat and slapped me across the face.

Instinctively, my left foot connected with his balls. Really hard, too. He doubled over. I’m pretty sure he never expected that, but I knew I couldn’t stop there because as soon as he regained his composure, it was all over for me. So, I shoved myself away from the table as hard as I could, kicking him square in the chest.

He stumbled backwards out the door.

He doubled over the railing, head first.

I heard a nasty CRACK when I saw his mouth connect with the edge of the landing on the other side of the railing. Then, he disappeared out of sight.

The next thing we heard was the THUMP of Buddy hitting the ground twenty feet below.

Then, everything was silent. I think even the crickets stopped chirping for a few moments.

My adrenaline made my heart beat so hard that I thought maybe Marty could hear it.

I looked back over my left shoulder at Marty, whose eyes were fixed on the open door. He broke his gaze on the door and looked at me; his eyes wide with disbelief. Neither one of us spoke nor dared to move for several minutes.

I slowly made my way to the door, almost too scared to look outside. My imagination went into overdrive, and I had a vision of Buddy running up the stairs to shove me over the side.

I stepped out into the balmy air. Standing on the little landing, I looked over the railing. Buddy was in a crumpled heap on the ground. Unmoving. Silent.

I heard Marty ask me something from inside the clubhouse, but I don’t know what the hell it was. My attention was now focused on something else. Right next to my left shoe, embedded in the wood of the landing, was a single tooth. Root and all. Goosebumps ran through my entire body for a split second when I saw it.

I knelt down and plucked the tooth from the wood. I put it in my pocket before Marty saw it.

“Pete.” At this point, I finally heard Marty. “Is he okay?”

Fuck no, he wasn’t okay. I was sure of that. I looked over my shoulder at Marty.

“I don’t think so.”

“Should we check?”

I looked down at Buddy again. Something inside of me wanted to say fuck that piece of shit, but I wasn’t like him. I wasn’t the type of person who could hurt somebody and not care.

It took us nearly fifteen minutes to finally get down there to him. It took another forty-five minutes to drag him up the stairs and into the clubhouse.

That night, we slept in Marty’s dad’s garage.

I spent the entire Saturday at home trying to figure out what the hell to do. My stomach was in knots. I think I puked four or five times. I even took several showers to make sure all of Buddy’s blood was off of me. I threw my blood-stained clothes away before dad saw them.

That day, Marty spent a lot of time in his room by himself. When he finally called me, he had a plan.

That night, the full moon was so bright we needed no flashlights when we met under the clubhouse. Marty already had two shovels waiting. Before either of us touched one, we both swore to each other to never speak of this to anybody.

We dug Buddy’s grave.

We were silent. The only sounds were the crickets and our shovels chucking dirt and that thick, red, shitty Louisiana clay. In the moonlight, that clay was the color of blood.

I’m not sure what Marty was thinking (I’ve never asked him), but when we began digging, something in me wanted to stop and go tell someone what I had done. It wasn’t my fault; I was just defending myself.

But, then I started thinking about all the times Buddy fucked with me. All the times he punched me in the arm while he passed me in the halls at school and the bruises he left behind. All the times he walked up behind me at my locker and punched me right at the base of my spine and yelled “Tailbone!” and then walked away with his asshole friends while they laughed about it. All the times he knocked my books out of my hands, shoved me against the lockers, slapped me in the head, and demanded that I pick them up. All the times he threw rocks at me while I stood at the bus stop. There was even a time when I tried out for the baseball team, and he hit me right in the face with a ball and shattered my glasses. I still have the scar on the bridge of my nose from when the frames cut me that day.

I thought about all of this while I dug that fucking asshole’s grave. And with each new shovelful of dirt and clay came a new memory.

Now, do you remember earlier when I said I wasn’t like Buddy? How I wasn’t the type of person who could hurt somebody and not care? Well, fuck that! Something inside of me had snapped. I dug harder, twice as fast as Marty. My anger fueled my muscles, and soon, not even the pain of digging through all of that fucking clay could slow me down.

“I can’t dig anymore, Pete.” Marty’s voice pulled me out of my rage-fueled trance. “This should be okay.”

It was then that I realized that we were chest deep in the hole under the clubhouse, and Marty was right; this hole was deep enough to bury that redneck piece of shit.

Marty helped me out of the hole with a boost, and I followed suit. We both looked up at the clubhouse, dreading our next task.

“I’m thirsty.” I walked away to the garage. Marty’s dad always kept a well-stocked supply of sodas and beer in the fridge.

Marty quietly joined me.

As we guzzled Shasta grape soda and root beer, I stared out at the moon, lost in thought about what the hell we were doing.

Marty looked at me. I locked eyes with him for a moment. Then, I cried. He sat next to me and put his arm around me. I knew he had taken just as much punishment as I had over the years from Buddy, and, in a way, I had protected Marty that night too. Marty understood that. And I knew he did; he didn’t have to say a word.

It was nearly a half-hour before we returned to the clubhouse at three-thirty in the morning. The muscles in my arms and chest were beginning to feel the after effects of the dig.

“Man,” Marty began, stretching his arms back behind himself, “my arms are killing me.”

Good, I wasn’t the only one.

We climbed the stairs to the clubhouse door. Marty unlocked it, swinging it open. He flicked on the light. We both peered through the door.

Buddy was exactly where we had left him the night before. His right leg was still twisted around behind him in such a sickening manner. His left arm had come out of its socket and was still flopped over his chest. His eyes were closed, mouth wide open, and I could see the gap where his tooth had been before it ended up in my pocket. The impact from hitting the landing with his mouth had torn open a huge gash in his face. Blood was still everywhere.

We hauled Buddy down the stairs. I took his good arm and started down backwards with Marty following, holding Buddy’s one good foot. And, I swear that every fucking time a damned car passed in front of their house, Marty would stop.

“Goddammit, Marty!” I half-assed whispered. “Stop that!”

“Well, the cars are making me nervous!”

“They can’t even see us!”

“We can see the road from the top of the stairs!”

“So?”

“So, they can probably see us!”

He kind of had a good point, though. When we would pull into his driveway, the door of the clubhouse was in full view.

“What do we do then?” I looked up at Marty, both of us still near the top of the stairs.

“Well, don’t stop. Keep going!”

“Hey, fuck you! I was going,” I got a better grip on Buddy’s arm. “You’re the one who keeps stopping every damned time a car passes.”

We hauled Buddy down two more steps.

A car passed.

Marty stopped.

I glared at him.

He smiled at me.

“You asshole!” I looked down at Buddy’s face and quickly flipped him over the side of the stairs.

Marty watched as Buddy hit the ground. “Why didn’t we just do that in the first place?”

Beneath the clubhouse, we dragged Buddy to the hole, and the reality of our situation came back in full force and hit us hard. At first, Marty didn’t want to be the one to throw Buddy in. Hell, neither did I. But, after a few minutes, we agreed to do it together. We just had to wait until we both got the nerve up to do it at the same time.

We finally rolled him into the grave, and he landed on his back with a FLUMPH.

We each took a shovel, but Marty hesitated. “I can see his face.”

He was right. I could see it, too. The moonlight lit up one corner of the grave, and we could see clearly to the bottom of the hole. Buddy’s face was bathed in the soft glow of the full moon.

“Turn around.” I looked at Marty. I took a shovelful of dirt and clay.

Marty never saw what happened next. And I’m grateful for it.

I lifted my load of dirt and clay. I looked down into the grave at Buddy.

Now, you’ll take note that not one time during this story have I ever referred to Buddy as a “body”.

Buddy opened his eyes. He looked right at me from his own grave, eyes slowly glancing around the hole as if he had just awakened from a terrible dream and didn’t know where he was.

He had been unconscious for the last 24 hours. I discovered this while we dragged him down the stairs earlier because he looked at me right before I threw him over the side. His neck had been broken from the fall the night before, so he probably couldn’t move anything from his neck down. But those eyes. He could sure as hell move those eyes.

Now, from the bottom of the hole, Buddy looked back up at me. I knew the look he gave me. He was pleading for help.

I grinned. “Fuck you, Tanner.”

I threw the dirt right in his face. I tossed in two more loads of dirt before I told Marty it was safe to turn around. As we filled the grave, I swear that I could hear his near silent cries for help, just barely audible below the chirping of the crickets. I grinned as I threw dirt and clay over Buddy, who was, by now, a body.

As the sun began to rise, we took care to replace the clumps of grass and weeds just as we had found them before we dug the grave. By the time we were done, we were the only two people on this earth who could look at that space beneath the clubhouse and know that there was a dead body buried about four feet below.

After we cleaned the clubhouse, we never slept there again.

During the following Monday, school went on as scheduled, but a bit more peacefully. Nobody really noticed that Buddy was even gone. He usually skipped school anyway, so, who gave shit?

After a week though, his parents had gathered half of the community, along with the sheriff and the local cops, to look for him. But, of course, we all know the results of that search. They never even came close to looking our way.

 

 

><><><><><><><

 

Now, let’s get back to how I began this story: It all started last month when they accidentally dug up the body.

It’s been nearly thirty years since that night. Marty and I have moved on and moved away.

Marty lives in New Orleans, now. He’s got a wife and three beautiful kids.

I’ve wandered around between a few states: Arkansas; Nevada; Texas. I’ve never really settled down. I think, maybe, the Buddy incident had a lot to do with that. I never married. And, I never had any kids because I’ve always had a fear of them having to deal with their own “Buddy” someday. Or, even worse, burying their own “Buddy” and never telling me about it.

Anyway, I haven’t seen Marty in years. And, I certainly haven’t thought about Buddy in a very long time. In fact, I had nearly forgotten about him… until they dug up his body.

You see, a few years ago, before Marty’s father passed away, he sold the property to a commercial developer who waited until the rest of that little town grew to the point that they decided that that property would be a great place for a gas station. During the excavation, they found Buddy’s body.

Marty was the first person the authorities hauled in for questioning. When I found out, I had to fly down and tell them my side of what happened that night.

They weren’t letting up on Marty, and though we hadn’t seen each other in nearly twenty years, I still felt it was my duty to protect him one more time.

I sat in the interrogation room and stared at the detective after I gave my statement.

“I can appreciate your concern for your friend,” Detective Bozburg began after hearing my story. “But we already have his confession. And, in his statement, he said that he was alone that night.”

I was dumbfounded. I had just told this cop that I was alone that night. Buddy came to the clubhouse and threatened me, we scuffled, and I kicked him over the railing. I was the one who dug the grave. And, that I was the one who buried that piece of shit. I told Bozburg that it all happened while Marty and his parents were out of town for the weekend. I told him that I confessed to Marty years later, which is how he had access to details like the fact that Buddy was wearing a Twisted Sister t-shirt when I threw him in the hole.

But there was one detail that I knew Marty didn’t have. And, it was the one detail that would set him free and put this whole thing on me, where it belonged.

I reached into the pocket of my t-shirt and pulled out a small envelope. Inside was a piece of folded paper. I set the paper on the table in front of Bozburg.

He looked at it, then at me, quizzically.

I nodded to the paper. “All you need to know is folded up in that little note.”

Bozburg unfolded the paper that read only three words: “Fuck you, Tanner!” And I saw the color leave his face as he stared at Buddy’s tooth.

 

 

 

 

 

LA PIEDRA MAYA

(The Mayan Stone)

 

 

I turn off the TV and sit in silence for a moment.

Ahh… the dark, peaceful surroundings of my own living room. It’s so nice to be back home after spending a month in southern Mexico.

I had accompanied a missionary and his family to a small village where we helped build a church. During one of my last weekends there, I broke away from the village and explored some of the Mayan ruins in the area. They were off limits, so I had to sneak my way into them. It was so worth it! Such an awesome experience. Exploring the Mayan ruins is definitely something I can finally scratch off my bucket list.

It was really the only reason I wanted to take the trip. I couldn’t care less about building a damned church for a bunch of uneducated, dirty Mexicans. Just a village of freeloaders sitting around expecting hardworking Americans to provide for them. I think I’d rather be dead than Mexican.

So, anyway, I’ve been told that a visit to the Mayan temples can change a person. Well, I don’t know about that. I don’t feel any different, but maybe, in time, we’ll see.

But, it was such an exciting experience that I had to bring a piece of it home with me. Thank goodness the border guys didn’t catch me with it.

I walk over to the mantle where I keep it in a little display case.

It’s just a stone. A little memento of my life-changing trip.

But this stone was different from the others I saw scattered about the floor of the temple I had tiptoed into. There was a carving in it; four little symbols. I don’t know what they mean and I don’t really care. It was so cool that I had to snatch it up.

Yesterday, I had it mounted on a gold chain. I can’t wait to wear it out tomorrow night with my husband.

In fact, I think I’ll try it on one more time before I go to bed.

I take it to the bathroom and turn on the light. In front of the mirror, I put on the necklace.

Wow. Nice.

I step back to get a good look. That’s when I stumble over Mugsy, our cat.

I fall against the wall and topple over the toilet.

I end up in the tub after hitting my forehead on the soap dish.

You fucking cat!

I can feel the blood running down my face from the cut above my eye. Shit! This will not look good for dinner tomorrow night.

I get to the sink and look in the mirror at the damage.

Eh, just a small cut. But, holy shit is it pouring blood. Down my cheek, off my chin and down my chest.

Great, there’s a spot of blood on the stone.

I wash my head and face with a wet washcloth.

Then, I try to take the necklace off but my hands are shaking so much I can’t get a good grip on the clasp in the back. I’ll just take it off later. Dammit.

I lean closer to the mirror and grab the stone to wipe the blood.

That’s when every muscle in my body locks up.

Oh God! What’s happening? Everything burns!

I fall to the floor like a ragdoll.

I scream in agony as the bones in my face crack and contort. Through the excruciating pain, I can feel them moving and repositioning.

My eyes burn. The pressure behind them is unbearable.

My teeth hurt! My teeth!!! One of them falls to the floor. Then, another. After a moment I’m spitting blood and my own teeth as they are all pushed out of my skull, replaced by new ones that grow into their places.

I try to reach up to my face but my arms are so heavy. My biceps are burning! The bones in my arms are stretching and I’m ready to pass out from the tormenting discomfort.

I can’t escape this torture. Every time I think I’m going to faint, unbelievable pain attacks another part of my body. I can’t scream away the stabbing agony!

I rip the clothes from my body, desperately trying to ease the discomfort.

Every joint in my legs is popping and snapping as they grow and change. And they itch like fucking crazy. I can see the hair growing in.

My feet and hands are no longer my own.

The pain seems to be subsiding. But, now, my head and face itch just like my legs did. I can feel the hair growing there, too! What the fuck is going on?

Then, it stops. I try to catch my breath. My chest hurts from all of the pressure. My throat is raw from all of my screaming. I’m on the floor in a pool of blood.

Slowly, I try to get to my feet. I use the tub and toilet to help get myself off the floor.

Then, I hear…

“Mommy?” Her tiny voice behind me is so inquisitive.

I turn to face her and the look on her face is heartbreaking as she screams at the sight of me.

“Jo-jo?” My husband’s voice is a comfort. “You okay in there?” I can hear him right before he comes into view in the doorway. “What the fuck?”

He immediately shields our daughter and steps in front of her with his handgun drawn. “Sissy, go to your room. Now!”

Our daughter runs away to her bedroom.

My husband looks around the bloody bathroom and points his gun at me.

I put my hands up. “Por favor, no disparen!”

Wait! What? I know I just asked him not to shoot, but that’s not what it sounded like. I think I just spoke Spanish.

“What the fuck are you doing in my house?!” My husband cocks his gun. “Where is my wife, you son of a bitch?!”

I turn and look in the mirror. There’s a scruffy, naked Mexican man staring back at me!

Holy Shit! That damned stone hanging around my neck is shimmering. It’s that stone!

“What have you done with Joanna, asshole?”

I turn back to my husband.

“Esperar. Soy yo Joanna!” Dammit, enough with the Spanish! Oh God. It’s me, honey. Please, understand me! Please! “Por favor, entiende lo que estoy diciendo!”

I step toward him and grab the stone. I rip it from my neck.

“ES LA PIEDRA!!!”

He panics and fires his gun. Twice.

My little girl screams in her room.

I stumble backward and clutch my chest.

I fall into the tub.

My husband picks up the phone. He turns away for a moment.

My bones begin shifting, again! The pain comes back and drowns out the agony of the bullet wounds. Oh God, the pain!

I can hear him talking to the 911 operator: He’s just shot an intruder and his wife is nowhere in the house. There’s blood all over the bathroom.

My senses are fading. My vision is going black. I can barely breath. I can’t speak.

I’m dying.

Then, I hear…

“Mommy!”

She’s standing over me, holding my hand.

“Sissy!” My husband rushes into the bathroom to grab her, but freezes in his tracks when he sees me – his wife – lying in the tub. “Joanna!”

Then, I take my last breath and he watches as I die from the two bullets he put in my chest.

 

 

 

 

 

I Know What You’ve Done

 

 

It was a bitter, cold Christmas Eve when my world changed last year.

Bernie and I had been in and out of homeless shelters for years, but last year was tough. Most beds had been taken early on in the day and he was too sick and worn out to even try to fight for one anymore.

He had lived a good life up until eight years ago when his whole world came to a devastating halt. He lost his job when the auto plant closed down. His wife of 40 years died shortly after. Breast cancer. He lost all hope after that and just gave up.

He tried to remain a good man for her, even after she passed, and the gold pocket watch she gave him before she died reminded him every day of the man she expected him to be. Even though it hadn’t worked for years, he would often open it and stare at the photo of her he kept inside it.

Bernie had vowed to never touch alcohol ever again… gave it up when she was diagnosed.

Living on the streets wasn’t easy, and it was much, much harder for a man who refused to live like a rogue. All of his street buddies bragged about what they would steal at any given day; a pack of lunch meat here, an apple there. Cigarettes. Booze. Shoes from thrift shop donation bins. But Bernie stuck to his principles and kept his hands to himself.

Sounds impossible, right? I’ve known people like this, personally: people who have lost everything but their integrity. I would know. Bernie was my best friend and what happened to us last year is beyond comprehension. Even I don’t believe it to this day, but I was there to witness it.

Anyway, on a desolate street, stood two of the oldest-looking, red brick buildings you’d ever see and a narrow alley cut a path between them. It went about thirty feet in from the street before opening up to a decent-sized courtyard nestled between these two, six-story structures that had once been apartment buildings. They had been empty for almost fifteen years and, now, they were just trashed and falling apart.

It was a squatter’s haven. A place to hide when you ran from the cops. And there was an abundance of shadows and empty rooms you could sneak away to and get a quick blowjob if you could afford one of the corner whores.

That narrow alley was the gateway to this hellhole… and the only way in or out unless you wanted to try tunneling your way out of the garbage and remnants of forgotten civilization through the maze of apartments in either building. Your very own Temple of Doom.

For several months, these buildings had been our home when we weren’t fortunate enough to get a bed at one of the shelters.

It was close to 2 a.m. that morning when Bernie and I came back from our usual stroll about the neighborhood and entered the courtyard from the alley. As we got closer to the window of Bernie’s place, we caught a couple of guys going through his stuff. They had ransacked his bedding and threw his personal belongings everywhere.

“Hey!” Bernie called out. “That’s mine. Get the hell out of there!”

I told Bernie to just let it go, but it was too late.

One of the guys, a husky fellow, climbed out of the window and approached us.

“This shit is ours, now, old man.”

Bernie stumbled backward as Husky shoved him.

“You haven’t heard?” The other guy, much slimmer and taller and wearing a dirty, Detroit Tigers ball cap, entered the courtyard through the doorway of the trashed apartment and walked up to Bernie. “We just moved in and, uh, we own this block now. So, take a fuckin’ walk or spend Christmas in the morgue.”

They were both in their late teens. Probably kicked out of their homes by parents who were sick of their shit or they just decided it was better to live on the streets by their own rules rather than sleep in a warm bed under someone else’s. Stupid kids.

But they weren’t alone. I turned around when I heard three more come in from the alley, their antics echoing through the courtyard. More street punks… a boy and two girls – one in a ponytail and the other in a tattered Hello Kitty knit cap. They couldn’t have been any older than fifteen or sixteen. The boy was taking a drink from a bottle of beer.

“Check it out, yo! We got presents from Pete’s Liquor,” the boy said as he took another swig.

One of the girls, the one with the ponytail, pulled two more bottles from her coat pockets.

“That’s what’s up,” the Tigers fan nodded. Then, he looked back at Bernie. “This old-ass bastard was just gettin’ educated on the new rules.”

“Why don’t you little assholes get the hell out of here and go home?” Bernie refused to back down. “Go terrorize your own families.”

They all laughed.

“Fuck you!” Husky sucker-punched Bernie right in the face, knocking him to the ground. Then, he and Tiger went to kicking him while the others cheered them on.

“Get back!” I tried to help, but there’s only so much I could do from my wheelchair. “Stop! He’s just an old man!”

Beer Boy pulled a knife and held it to my face as Hello Kitty slapped me in the back of the head.

“Shut da fuck up or I’ll cut those arms off to match your legs.”

The two punks stopped kicking Bernie and Tiger knelt next to him and started digging through his pockets.

“Whachoo got on you, grampa? Anything good?”

Bernie tried to stop him but was too weak to do anything about it. So, he just lay there on the dirty ground, wheezing and holding his chest.

Then, Tiger came up with something shiny.

“Holy shit, check it out!” He held up Bernie’s pocket watch for the other kids to see.

“Damn, that’s the shit!” Husky chuckled. He pulled Bernie up from the ground by his coat. “What else you got, asshole? Got some bills stashed?”

“Probably,” goes Ponytail. “My granny used to keep some money and her bling in a old cookie jar. Dumb bitch always thought it was safe ‘til she thought my li’l brother stole the shit.”

Hello Kitty laughed. “I remember that. Your little bro got his ass whipped bigtime.” She looked at the others and laughed some stupid, little, teenie-bopper girly laugh, “We went shopping the next week.”

Husky was holding Bernie up by his collar because his knees were too weak to stand on.

“Where’s the rest of your bling, motherfucker?” Tiger slapped Bernie across the face.

Bernie began to cry, “Please don’t take that. Take anything but that.”

“You gonna cry like a little bitch? Be a man, fucker!”

Tiger shoved the pocket watch into his coat and turned to me, “What about you, Bigwheel? You got somethin’ for me?”

“No, I’m broke as a joke, Boss,” I tried to ease the situation with some nervous humor. “We ain’t got nothin’ else, guys. How about lettin’ up some, okay?”

“You some kind of comedian, bitch?” Tiger’s glare cut right through me. “And don’t tell me you ain’t got nothin’ for me.” His gaze fell upon my chair as he walked around behind me.

“Get your lazy ass outa my chair, old man!” He grabbed the chair and toppled it sideways, spilling me out of it, as the others laughed. One of them kicked me from behind as I lay on my side.

Husky let Bernie fall to the ground, got behind the wheelchair and began to push Tiger around the courtyard.

I crawled over the Bernie to make sure he was okay…

And that’s when I heard it. We all heard it.

The *CLINKING* and *CLANKING* of metal echoed through the courtyard.

Everyone stopped and we all looked around until we spotted the source: a metal chain was slapping against the bricks from the roof of one of the buildings. And as we continued to watch, the figure of a man rose up, silhouetted against the night sky as he stood on the roof.

He was holding one end of the chain with his left hand, letting the rest of it dangle for almost two stories down the side of the building. It only took a moment for all of us to realize this was no man… this was something else.

It was huge, even from six floors down it was a sight: tall and large, like a football linebacker, with big arms and broad shoulders. But it was its head that sent a chill down my spine. From what I could make out, it had two horns that swept out to either side of its head like those of a Texas longhorn… only thicker, almost the size of its arms. And to complete the look of a raging bull, its breath billowed in steady clouds of steam from its nose every time it exhaled.

What a sight! I nearly shit myself when I realized that this thing couldn’t be up to anything good.

And, then, when it was certain that we had all noticed it, the thing slapped the chain against the bricks one final time. And all was quiet in the courtyard. That was, until…

“What the fuck do you want?” Tiger stood from my wheelchair and decided to challenge this thing. Man, the balls on this kid! “Get your ass outa here! Mind your business!”

If I hadn’t looked back up at the thing in time, I would have missed what it did next.

In a flash, its right hand whipped around like Nolan Ryan firing a fast ball at home plate.

And a split second later, there was a loud *CRACK* as Tiger was thrown backward, his body slammed to the ground. It wasn’t until I got a good look at his face that I understood what put him there – an old sleigh bell, the size of a baseball, had buried itself halfway into his face. Blood sprayed like a geyser from where his nose was supposed to be. His left leg twitched a little.

The other kids soon realized that Tiger’s ass wasn’t getting up. The shit just turned real!

The girls screamed.

Beer Boy looked at Husky.

“Shit on this!” Husky turned and ran, heading for the narrow alley, the fastest way out of the courtyard, followed by the other little assholes.

I looked up to see the thing, in one giant stride, leap from the building…

What the fuck?! Yes! It leapt from a six story building! And I watched, with a slack jaw, as it landed – on its hooved feet –at the entrance to the alley with a thunderous *THUD* that rumbled through the courtyard. It had cut off their escape.

Covered in long, flowing, white hair, the only bare parts of its body were its face, horns, hands, feet and a long tail that trailed from its backside. And when the thing stood to its full height, it had to be about seven or eight feet tall.

By this time, Beer Boy thought he was home free as he had passed Husky and would have reached the exit way ahead of the pack. But his quick feet only earned him the privilege of being the next victim as he ran right into the thing’s massive, outstretched hand. Its clawed fingers wrapped around the boy’s throat and lifted him off the ground… about four feet off the ground, actually.

The other kids stopped in their tracks and stared at it.

Then, in a deep, growling voice, it asked…

“Do you know who I am?”

The kids slowly shook their heads – as did I – except for Beer Boy. He just kind of struggled to breathe and held onto the thing’s thick, tree trunk of an arm.

The thing continued –

“I am the reaper of the evil and the despicable. And this is my season of harvest.”

Husky and the girls only stood there, speechless. They didn’t get it, so the thing put it in a language they’d understand -

“I am the one that the fat, jolly Christmas bastard gives his naughty list to. And all of you little shits have been on it for years.”

Husky finally wised up… kind of.

“’Naughty list’?” He chuckled. “You mean like Santa Claus?” Husky burst with laughter and the girls joined him, though theirs was a bit uneasy and nervous.

The thing laughed, too. Deep and guttural.

Then, it fell silent.

“Fuck Santa! I am Krampus!”

And with that, Krampus raised Beer Boy’s body high and brought it down with a sharp snap, ripping off his head as the body fell to the ground like a rag doll in a shower of blood. Then, he held up the head for all to see Beer Boy’s face frozen in terror.

I must admit that I laughed as Krampus shook the head up and down, making the jaw open and close like a puppet as his gruff voice yelled:

“Fa-la-la-la-la, fuckers!”

Husky turned and ran back towards me.

Krampus – with that Nolan Ryan pitching arm – caught Husky square in the back of the head with Beer Boy’s head.

Husky hit the ground, hard, just a few feet from me, and lay there in a daze.

Ponytail didn’t get very far, either, as Krampus whipped his chain and wrapped it around her waist, yanking her to the ground.

The Hello Kitty girl screamed and tried to run away.

“Here kitty, kitty,” Krampus called out as he took a mighty leap from the alley, sailed over her head, and landed, on his hands and knees, several feet in front of her and lowered his head.

She impaled herself deep on his right horn.

Krampus stood, with her body hanging and quivering in pain on the side of his head, and, in one strong move, he shook his head and flung her off, sending her body flying across the courtyard and into one of the brick walls with a *SMACK*. She didn’t move after she hit the ground.

“Help me!” Ponytail was blubbering and barely able to scream. I think fear had caught hold of her voice.

She was clawing at the chain and the spikes that had stabbed themselves deep into her flesh. She looked at me and reached her hand out from across the courtyard. She was too far away for me to do anything. And, besides, I wasn’t about to touch this shit.

I watched as she was dragged away when Krampus pulled her to him. He leaned over her and caressed her ponytail.

“You like horses?” He grunted.

She was crying and trembling uncontrollably as she nodded; unsure whether or not she should even answer him at all.

“Well, hi ho Silver, bitch,” Krampus stood and, with the chain wrapped around her waist, began to swing her around over his head like a lasso.

She screamed and screamed as the spikes dug deeper and deeper into her flesh. Her blood began to fall, hitting the pavement of the courtyard like ruby-red rain drops.

After a few moments she vomited and Krampus whipped her high into the air. He let her fly almost the entire length of the chain before he gave it a sudden and very sharp yank that ripped her body in half.

Her top and bottom halves continued on until they slapped the wall at the far end of the courtyard with a *SPLAT* as her innards showered the bricks in a sloppy, gory mess.

I heard the chain hit the ground and looked back at Krampus. He was heading right for me but, then, stopped when he reached Husky, who was still dazed and lying on the ground.

He grabbed the boy’s head with one hand then, using the claws of his other hand, he dug into Husky’s back. That woke the boy up in a flash.

Now, I have been through war. I fought in Vietnam and saw – and even did – some things that I wish I could erase from my memory, but the look of pain and surprise on Husky’s face will be in my mind until the day I die.

Krampus ripped the kid’s spine right out of his body and took his head clean off along with it as blood soaked the ground in a deep, red puddle.

I puked.

And puked, again.

I sat next to Bernie, trying to comfort him and compose myself after the massacre I’d just witnessed, as Krampus went about collecting the bodies of Tiger and his gang, stuffing them into a large, brown sack.

When he was done, he flung the sack and chain over his shoulder and approached us, looking right at Bernie. I scooted as close as I could to Bernie and tried to shield him with my own body.

“Please,” I begged. “Not Bernie, he’s never done anything.”

Krampus stood over us, held out a hand and dangled Bernie’s pocket watch.

Cautiously, I took it from him nodded a silent ‘thank you’.

Then, Krampus dug into the brown sack, held up a long scroll of parchment paper and revealed a list of names, most of which had been scratched out in blood. But, the sixth name down the list was mine! And I could read it clear as day.

In the blink of an eye, with one sharp claw, he ripped open the right sleeve of my coat revealing my U.S.M.C. tattoo. It was a crude work of art I got from a fellow soldier one night in a bunker during the war.

Krampus leaned over and looked me right in the eyes and growled something that sent a chill down my spine:

“I know what you’ve done.”

My heart skipped a beat and I shivered, but not from the cold. I felt sick to my stomach.

Krampus looked at Bernie, then back at me.

He stood and put the list back into the sack, flung it over his shoulder and with one powerful leap, disappeared over the rooftop of the building.

As I sat there, thinking about what he said, I cried because I know the terrible things I’ve done, too.

And I know I haven’t seen the last of Krampus.


Bloodshot Eyes

Nine tales await you in this new collection of horror and suspense from Clive Carpenter. "La Piedra Maya" - A stone from an ancient Mayan temple has a deadly surprise in store for the woman who stole it. "Scritching" - A camper is awakened when his tent is invaded by creatures so creepy they will make your skin crawl. "The Thing in the Hall" - A man wakes up in the middle of the night to find a blood-thirsty creature standing at his bedroom door. "Beneath the Clubhouse" - Two bullied teenagers get a late-night visit from their tormentor. "L-239" - The owner of a popular burger joint uses a rented storage unit as a slaughterhouse for fresh meat. "I Know What You've Done" - A gang of street punks is given a taste of their own medicine by a merciless creature on Christmas Eve. "Curiosity is a Sick Bitch" - A restaurant employee makes a grim discovery in a back alley dumpster. "Lanna"- While caring for his disabled wife, an old man endures her endless abuse. "I Watch Candice" - A man watches his former lover through a mirror in her bedroom.

  • ISBN: 9781370531820
  • Author: Blood Type H
  • Published: 2016-11-08 08:20:18
  • Words: 16914
Bloodshot Eyes Bloodshot Eyes