The Voice

| Friday, January 10, 2014 | 0 comments |
A thousand times a day I yell at him to shut up, but he ignores my every word.

My cries for quiet tend to make him all the more vocal, and I wonder why it is that I have put up with him for so long. It's when I reach that breaking point that I remember....sometimes he is right, sometimes his words ring ever so true

He was the first to tell me that my medication was a mistake. "It'll dull you senses, " he roared, whilst everyone else patted me on the back and praised me for my courage.

I thought him a fool back then, telling him so every chance I got, but as time passed, his prophecy came to pass. The lights went off and the fog, ever so calming, rolled across me.

"Can you see, now?" I remember him asking.

"I see nothing," my feeble reply.

It was then that he started to become more vocal, telling me that he could show me the way to true happiness and a fuller appreciation of the senses. He convinced me to come off the meds, but to keep it a little secret between me and him. I duly complied.

His talks, crazy as they may have seemed to others, started to really make sense. He stopped yelling at me and took on a paternal tone, massaging my ego and poking my id. He spoke of the beauty of nature, and how scents played a major role in the pretty painting of the world around us. It was when he turned to smells less common that I started to doubt what he was saying, for a while at least.

Sure, I hung the hooks in every room as he had suggested, but the next step was where I took to drawing the line. I tuned him out as best I could, blasting music through my headphones when his talk turned vile, but he remained patient and waited until he had my full attention again.

"Start small," he said. "The scents are not as rewarding, but they will serve as an awakening."

I remember thinking how small the kitten looked on that large hook, but I also started to see how right he was. He has told me to put honey in the kitten's milk for a week, which I did.

I have smelled roadkill, plastered into the tarmac on a hot summer's day, and it isn't good. The kitten was different. The base scent of putrefaction stimulated the gag reflex, but that hint of honey kept the bile down.

"I told you," he said, simply.

He could see that he was getting through to me now. He turned his attention to women and the lengths that they go to in order to look good for their men. He spoke of the lotions and creams that oozed into the skin and stayed there, long after that initial scent blast had wafted off into the air.

I was sold on the smell, but needed a little further prodding. He started with the hooks and how beautiful they looked when the sun found a way through a gap in the heavy curtains. He told me how the curves of the hooks were the perfect match for the natural curves of the female form. There vision he painted was one of pure eroticism, and I must confess it aroused me.

Sounds were next. He made everything sound like a symphony of Mother Nature's composing: the muffled screams as the hook penetrated flesh; the dripping of blood on the plastic tarp below the hook; the buzzing of flies as they bathed and fed on flesh long dead. All small sounds patched together into a cacophony of grisly orchestral harmony, with my happy tears as the final piece in the music of nightmares.

I knew it to be wrong, though, so I told him to shut up, which he didn't.

It was the result that I had expected. After all, how can you silence the sound of your own voice in your head. You can really only hope to mute it for as long as possible, before cruel intent becomes willing work.


Chardonnay

| Wednesday, February 20, 2013 | 0 comments |
A little background on this one is necessary, I think, just to confirm that I haven't completely lost my shit. Penny and I were at a local bar on the weekend to watch a bunch of aging rockers strut their stuff. Amid the madness, a man sat at the bar who looked totally out of place. He was drinking Chardonnay in a Budweiser bar and was dressed to the nines....creepy does not describe his look and demeanor, and as I found myself staring at him, this came to mind..............

The sound of the guitars in the small room was deafening, but the crowd was soaking it up. Middle-aged men in Affliction t-shirts pounded their fists in the air. The women danced in front of the stage, their baby fat bodies squeezed into outfits plucked from the closets of their teenage daughters. The smell of spilled bear and stale sweat mixed with the powdery scent of dry ice to create a biker bar potpourri that the crowd breathed in willingly. The rock gods on stage were old, but they still put on a show; the lead singer swung his dyed golden locks in time to the guitar riffs, his eyeliner now streaking down his face and nestling in the deep lines barely hidden by his foundation. The crowd didn't care how he looked, especially since most of them were reaching that age themselves. They sung, they danced, and they threw back their cheap beers at a rate that equaled the speed of the music.

That kept the people behind the massive wooden horseshoe-shaped bar busy. They tossed beer can to servers and pulled pints as fast as they could, "talking" to the patrons seated at the bar in a series of nods and finger points that indicated their order was next. Nestled among the sweaty crowd was an immaculately dressed man in his mid-fifties. He sat at the bar, posture perfect, hair perfectly combed, and tailored suit ironed to wrinkle free perfection. The dark clothes were in stark contrast to his ghostly pale skin, which seemed to be almost translucent, so tightly was it stretched over his hollow cheekbones. The bartender pointed at him, waiting for his order, but the man just stared, cold blue eyes seeming to burn a hole through the server.

"DUDE!! What you drinking.?"

The eyes shifted ever so slightly in a quick up and down motion. "Chardonnay," he said.

"Any particular fucking year, man?" the bartender asked with a laugh.

"Whatever you have is fine, just bring me a Chardonnay."

The bartender muttered something under his breath as he pulled a fingerprint stained wine glass from overhead. Reaching into the fridge, he poured the wine from a box that featured a picture of some glorious French valley, but which was actually concocted in a little hick town 50 miles north of Atlanta. He slid the glass across the bar and said, "Eight bucks, dude."

Unblinking, the man dropped a ten on the bar, the note as pristine and clean as his suit. "Keep the rest."

The bartender flicked the man a small, one finger gun salute before moving on to the next person at the bar.

The band was in high gear now, blasting out an old AC/DC song that had the crowd hollering at high volume. He may have looked out of place, but the man's lips moved in time to the music, never missing a word.

"You like this song?"

He turned his head to face the woman asking the question. She looked like an advertisement for a cut-rate plastic surgeons office: botox lips, pulled back skin, and over-sized breasts all clearly on display. He just stared at her, still no sign of a blink, but the blue of his eyes seemed to be getting a little darker.

She leaned in closer, thinking he hadn't heard. "I see you singing. Do you like this song?" Her swollen lips brushed against his ear as she spoke. She knew what she was doing. She saw his clothes, the perfectly groomed nails hair, and she smelled money. She thought he looked creepy, but she'd been with worse.

"You feel like dancing?" she asked, lips a little closer still, tongue flicking against his lobe.

He turned to face her now, rictus smile plastered across his too tight face. "Perhaps a kiss?"

She shuddered involuntarily, but was spurred on by the designer label she spied on the inside of his jacket. Without answering, she leaned in and pressed her lips to his. They felt dry and cold, and she felt a little flutter of something not quite right begin to niggle inside. He put his hand on the back of her neck and puller her closer still, her cosmetically engineered breasts pushing against him. She started to struggle, but his grip became tighter, nails starting to dig into the flesh on the nape of her neck. She couldn't move and felt the panic swell further still when he clamped his teeth down on her tongue.

A Guns n' Roses song echoed around the bar, the sound obliterating her muffled pleas for help. He gripped her tongue tighter still with his teeth, jaws moving ever so slightly as he started to saw through the meat. Once he had it tight in his grip, he started to suck, the way one does when lassoing a long piece of pasta. His Adam's apple bobbed up and down as though it has a fish on the line. The slurping continued until her tongue was gone completely and she had gone limp in his arms. He turned back to the bar, propping her against it as he did so. He held his glass of wine up to the light cast by the NASCAR race showing on TV and then guzzled it down.

The bartender rolled around again and said, "Wanna see a menu, dude?"

"I ate already." He slid the empty glass across the bar. "Chardonnay."

Chef's Special

| Wednesday, February 6, 2013 | 2 comments |
She looked across the expanse of the massive wooden desk, a slack-jawed expression written across her face, trying to make sure she had heard him properly.

The man smiled and repeated the words once more, "Congratulations Miss Stephenson, you are the new Executive Chef of Krave."

Reaching across the desk, he shook her hand perfunctorily as she muttered a totally inadequate, "Thank you."

He smiled again,whilst licking his fingers and flicking through a stack of papers arranged on the desk. "There are just a few formalities to take car of before I show you to your kitchen," he said, before finally finding the paper he was looking for. "Here we are. I just need you to look over this contract and sign at the bottom, please."

His smile examined fixed as she perused the document, barely taking in the words types neatly on the official looking document. The Krave logo stood out like a beacon on the top of the page, virtually blinding her in its luminescence. This was a dream come true, so she hastily scribbled her name before the owner had a chance to change his mind.

She started to regain some of her composure as they made their way to the kitchen, her professional instincts starting to kick in. The fact that she was now the head of one of the hottest restaurants in the city was beginning to sink home, but it also raised a few questions.

"Thank you again for choosing me, Mr. Craven, but I have to ask you why you chose me for the position. I am sure you must have had some more experienced chef's apply for the position."

He placed a hand on her arm, stopping as he did so. She turned towards him and saw that smile on his face once more. He sighed a little and said, "Chef, the answer is very simple, really. We wanted a fresh take on what we offer here at Krave. Our customers expect a higher standard, which is what we feel you can deliver."

"But..."

"But, nothing. Our previous chef was brilliant and our customers love what he served to them, but he looked just about done in the past few weeks. It was time for something new, something fresh, and you have all the qualifications."

She smiled at that, pleased that the sample dished she made must have caught the attention of the owner. She new that she was taking a chance, drawing from the flavors of the south, but it seemed that the L.A scene must be ready for just such a change.

They continued up the gloomy kitchen before breaking through the swinging doors and into the most beautiful kitchen she had ever seen. She had been impressed on the first visit when she had concocted her samples, but it seemed all the more beautiful now that she knew it was hers.She loved the hustle and bustle of a busy kitchen, but with the restaurant closed, as it was now, she could also appreciate the solitude and stainless beauty of the space as well.

She jumped a little when Craven placed his hand on here back. He chuckled, a guttural little sound that spooked her just a little. "I didn't mean to startle you, chef."

She laughed, too, but it was forced. "That's fine. I was somewhere else for a moment."

"You will meet your staff shortly, as I have asked them all to come in for this happy occasion, but for now let me show you our walk in freezer and the supplies we have in there."

He took her arm again, a little habit that was beginning to raise some red flags. She knew all too well how difficult it could be to operate in a man's world, which was exactly what the kitchen was. She made a mental note to herself that she would change that way of thinking by letting her new staff know that she was the boss. She would broach that subject with Craven if the touching continued.

Moving as though adjusting her jacket, she was able to wrest her arm away from his touch, but was a little startled to see him lick his fingers once more. He noticed her look and smiled. "Sorry. I have been a nail biter for years and am in the process of trying to quit. I have this vile substance on my nails that delivers a nasty little taste when I get the urge to gnaw." At that, he made a gnashing motion with his teeth, revealing gums that were unnaturally white, save for a dribble of red that leaked down his incisor.

"Mr. Craven, you are bleeding," she said.

He ran his tongue across his teeth, smacking his lips when he was done. Then, with thumb and forefinger, he reached in and extracted something from his mouth. He held it up to the light, revealing a ragged piece of fingernail which, with its red-tipped end, looked like a match waiting to be struck.

"I have been a naughty boy," he said. "I must be making the worst impression ever."

She had no idea how to react, save for trying to quell the rising gorge. Her instincts told her to run, yet she let herself be led, by the arm once again, into the freezer.

Craven continued on as if the previous little scene had never happened.

"We use fresh wherever possible, but as you know, chef, too much waste can destroy food costs. You will find all that you need in here, starting with this."

He bent down and removed a large plastic container from the one of the lower shelves. A brown substance was clearly visible through the plastic, the "Chef's Special" label giving no clue as to what might be contained within.

"This is all that is left of out previous chef, I'm afraid. He gave as much as he could, but the clientele loved him so much, there simply wasn't enough to go round."

She took a little step backwards. "I....I'm not sure what you are saying Mr. Craven."

"I lied just a little when I explained why I hired you, " he said, thumb and forefinger working once more to show the size of his fib."You are the perfect choice for Krave, but your samples are of no significance. Others will prepare the sides and garnishes, while you will be the star of the show."

She took another step backwards, almost tripping over a large tray that protruded from under the bottom shelf.

"You are perfect in that you are new to town, chef. You have no friends or connections here. You have no family to speak of. I was so touched by how you broke ties with them all those years ago, looking to get out and find a way to forge your own life. You are forgettable in every sense, but our patrons will never forget you, of that I can assure you."

She turned to run, only to find the door barred by three large individuals. Their faces were obscured by the headpieces of the hazmat suits they wore, although she could hear their fevered breaths slipping through the breathers.

A solitary tear slid down her cheek as she sensed the end. Craven reach out and wiped it away, taking the salty tear and rubbing it ever so gently across his lips. He shuddered involuntarily, the smile once again appearing on his face.

"Yes. Perfect."

She didn't move as he placed a kiss on her cheek, his tongue exploring her soft skin. He shuddered again before beckoning his staff into the freezer.

"Gentlemen, please prepare the new chef's special."


The Cats Meow

| Wednesday, January 30, 2013 | 1 comments |
There was nothing he could do to block out the the sound of that incessant nightly howling. The strangled mewling always seemed to find a way to penetrate the layer of pillows and blankets he wedged around his ears. That big old ginger tom seemed to know when he was trying to blot out the sound, as his feline caterwauling would reach all new decibel levels with every failed attempt.

It didn't help that the kid next door loved to poke his head out the window and join the cat in its midnight serenade. The pair would howl in unison, the sound like cat claws on a chalkboard placed perfectly in the center of his forehead. He had spoke to the kids parents, but they claimed that he was imagining shit. Their little Andy would never disrupt the neighborhood in such a way. He knew there was no way those parents could hear their little brat, anyway. They occupied the bedroom at the back of the condominium complex. He had tried moving back to his spare room, but the sounds of the neighbors rutting was almost as distracting as the cat. Between Andy's howls and his Mom's screams of "FUCK ME HARDER, DANNY," sleep just wouldn't find a way to arrive.

Plans to put an end to the nightly entertainment had all failed. He'd put out cat food laced with rat poison, but bi ginger had turned up his nose at the free offering. He had dropped his bowling ball out of his second story bedroom window, but the cat simply dodged the falling projectile, skipping daintily into the bushes under the living room window. Every failed attempt made the howling grow louder, to the point where he wondered why no-one else in the neighborhood was trying to off that awful cat.

He tried calling animal control, but they could never find the cat during the day. He spoke to neighbors, none of whom had saw a stray cat of any kind, never mind that distinctive big bugger. He began to believe that perhaps he was imagining everything, that perhaps it was a recurring dream, but Andy put paid to that idea. He'd see the parents take the kid out to the car each morning for school, and Andy would use that moment to turn around when the parents weren't looking, and greet him with a silent meow and a pretend lick of the paws. Breaking point was fast approaching, but he had a new plan that would put an end to it all.

He knew the cat was fast, but was sure it couldn't outrun a barrage of steel from his nail gun. He could lay roofing like nobody else, and his handiness with that nail gun was what made it happen. The next time he heard that howling would be the last. And that's when it stopped. He would lay in wait in the upstairs bedroom, but neither the cat nor Andy were making a sound. One day passed, then two, and before he knew it, the howling had stopped for a week. Just as sanity was about to settle back in, it happened.

He fell into a sound sleep, only to be woken by that god awful howling once again. He grabbed the nail gun from the bedside table, tore open the window, and unleashed a torrent of nail fire down to the ground. The howling intensified for a moment before silence descended once more. He tore downstairs and bolted out the front door, just as the mom from next door stepped outside. He looked at the parking space and saw the exhaust fumes plume into the cold morning air. The mother went to the car, looked inside, and then turned with a puzzled expression on her face.

he barely heard her asking if he had seen Andy. He pushed through the knee-high bushes and found the boy cradling the big ginger tom that had obviously been dead for a few days. The first rays of the rising sun appeared to make the boys skin sparkle, but closer inspection showed that it was nothing more than the light bouncing off the nails that penetrated his skull.




A Few More Days

| Tuesday, January 22, 2013 | 1 comments |
She was really starting to worry about him now. It had been 6 days, and still he couldn't get out of bed.

His skin had turned a pallid, grey color, and any attempt at getting him to eat had been futile. Even her homemade chicken soup, his favorite dish by far, had dribbled down hid chin as she fed him. He seemed unable to swallow, the terrified look in his eyes a sure sign that he knew something was wrong.

Despite his inability to consume solid foods, she was surprised to see that he seemed to be putting on weight. It was almost imperceptible at first, but she soon became aware that he seemed to be getting bigger. He was a large man to begin with, but the sheets that covered him seemed to rise a little with each passing day. Where she really started to notice, though, was when she laid her head on his chest and sang their favorite song in an effort to make him feel better. She could clearly feel his breastbone against her cheek that first day, but it seemed to be receding further with each passing day, till the point now where she couldn't feel it at all.

It was also becoming obvious that she was going to have to start giving him a bed bath. She had grown accustomed to his musk in the 30 plus years they had been together, but this was something new altogether. The fain tang of dried sweat, coated with the blast of cheap cologne that he swore by had now been replaced by a fetid stench that seemed to ooze from every pore. Worse still was the loathsome reek that poured from his gaping mouth. It were as though every one of his teeth had decided to embark on a race to see who could decay the fastest. She had tried more than once to gently close his mouth, trying not to disturb his sleep, but the slack-jawed look would win ever time.

That wasn't the most disturbing part of it all, though, not by a long shot. What was really starting to worry her was the lack of any sound or murmur of heartbeat as when she laid her head on his bloated chest. She knew that he hated seeing the doctor, but a few more days of this and she would be forced to call him in. Just a few more days.

Last Breath

| Tuesday, January 15, 2013 | 0 comments |
Not really a new piece, but work might get in the way of me writing something totally fresh this week. This came to me after passing Grady Memorial hospital and having the perfectly normal thought of wondering how many people were dying at that moment. That made me think of the night before I was due to start high school, and how I could put it off if I could just stay awake.....it's all about that air of inevitability, really......anyways, enjoy and there may be a bonus blurb tomorrow if I can find the time....


IN, OUT…IN,OUT…..IN, OUT…….IN,OUT……………….IN….

He felt each labored breath drag out a little longer with each wracking exhale…..OUT.

The curtain was about to fall and suddenly his life felt small and somehow incomplete….IN…..

There was no family by his bedside, no lifelong love to take his hand and ease the fear that now gripped and threatened to choke. No well-meaning nurse to help him see out his final moments. Nothing but the beeps of the machines that helped him breathe those…..OUT……..rattling breaths that were coming all too far apart.

IN…….

He had always believed that he would know when his last breath would come, so now he held it and closed his eyes, delaying that final exhale as long as his ravaged lungs would allow….and he dreamed…

…….of mom’s sweet kisses over birthday cake, of love’s first look, his soul to take. Of growing up and heartbreak pain, then rinse, repeat and love again. Of passionate breath against his ear, then death to come and salty tears.
He meant to open his eyes for one last look, but realized that all that was good was trapped behind his heavy lids, and that to open them would be to let those memories……..

OUT.

Scurry

| Tuesday, January 8, 2013 | 1 comments |


It all started with her insistence that we move into that house. She used words like “charming” and “rustic,” where I would have used “horror” and “foreboding.” She sensed my reluctance to embrace the place, but as usual I shirked her questions and shrugged. How could I explain that the place felt wrong to me? I couldn’t, so I kept quiet.

She spoke in excited tones about all the cool little home renovation projects that I could do. She yearned for the smell of fresh paint the way most women yearned for a child. That I couldn’t provide her with the latter made my handyman skills all the more essential. 

Her top priority in the home, though, was the basement. The “honey do” list she provided me made that perfectly clear. I was to get the nailed shut door functional again and re-build the stairs that had been destroyed in some strange little freak accident that the real estate agent glossed over when I asked. My wife didn’t care, but instead scrawled those 2 tasks at the top of the list, which she circled repeatedly in red pen. The addition of stars around the circle gave the impression that the door and stairs had taken on a whole new solar system of their own in the universe that was our home.

It didn’t take long for things to start going downhill after we moved in. Sleep evaded me, while the noises from the basement gnawed at my sanity. Rats are what I told myself. Nothing more than rats, all of which will be taken care of when I fix the door and stairs and set about laying traps down there. The problem was that I had also convinced myself that I was never going to go anywhere near that door. Fixing it meant giving whatever……rats…..was down there the chance to get out. 

She started talking about getting a handyman to come do it, calling me all sorts of names in the process. They were names I had heard before after my fertility tests came back. The names would sting, but she would soothe those sores with apologies and promises to be nicer, kinder, a better wife. Those attempts at forgiveness were what I lived for, as they allowed me to put off fixing that door for another day.

The arguments grew worse, though, and there were nights were I was condemned to the spare bedroom. The noises were even worse in there. The old laundry chute that led to the basement sounded as though there was a swarm of insects with snapping pincers eating away at the inside. I got the courage to look inside, but it too had been nailed shut. Sleep wouldn’t come with that sound, and I had to know what was making it. Perhaps if I could just get some proof that out homes was infested by rates or roaches she would see sense and we could leave. I knew that wasn’t going to happen, though, because she loved the place. She danced around from room to room, as though walking on air, only breaking from the spell she was under when she saw me. The disgust on her face couldn’t be disguised, no matter how hard she tried to explain that it was just because I had startled her.

The nails in the laundry chute door came away pretty easily. The noise stopped as I worked, as though whatever was there sensed that I was coming. The opening revealed nothing more than a laundry chute, with steel wrapped around the first two feet of the opening before it gave way to wood that looked rotten to the core. The overhead light did little to illuminate the cramped space of the chute, but my flashlight did that perfectly. The wood wasn’t rotten at all, but rather riddled with claw marks and scratches that must surely have been made by hungry rats. The steel was obviously in place to stop them climbing all the way up and out, those scabby little claws unable to get purchase on the smooth surface.

It was then that I started to feel somewhat better. Rats were filthy beasts, but they could easily be taken care of. There was nothing to fear in this place, which perhaps meant that now sleep would finally come. Relief filled me for a moment, but that was snatched from my grasp as it crawled into the bloom of illumination from the flashlight. It looked as though his skin were made of dried leather, pulled tight over a distended belly. He was no more than two feet in length, but his pendulous cock added a foot more, swinging between his stunted legs as his clawed hands pulled him ever upwards within the chute. Hid yellow eyes bore a hole through my soul, and when he smiled, revealing teeth as sharp as razors, I let out a scream and stumbled backwards.

The sound of my terror brought her running into the room, yelling at me to stop screaming like a frightened fucking schoolgirl. I remember her shaking me and asking what was wrong with me. I pointed at the open door to the laundry chute, which had once again grown quiet. She looked inside and told me it was too dark to see anything. The rest of it came while I was in a trance. Grabbing her by the hair and shoving her face into the opening. I found the strength to lift her, trying to force her body into the hole as you would with a bag of stinking trash.

She fought hard, but I held on tight. She fought harder still when the scratching started up again. The sounds that followed were unlike anything I had ever heard before. I imagined that the tearing of sinew and crunching of bones would sound the way they do in horror movies, but this was more like butcher shop violence. This was a professional at work, devouring flesh and sucking marrow until the body it fed on went limp, or he became satiated. It was impossible to tell what came first.

The face I had loved, but had grown to hate was all but gone when I pulled her free. I shine the light down the chute, but saw nothing except the glow of those yellow eyes. A chill ran through me when he whispered, “more,” but that sense of calm was back and I knew just what to do. 

That was all a little more than a month ago. She belongs to him fully now, with every single one of the tiny pieces I hacked her into long since gone. He fed well, and it was only days before he could no longer fit inside the chute. I took to dropping the pieces of flesh and bone down the chute, singing a sweet lullaby as I did so. The singing seemed to calm him, and I imagined how my child would have loved to hear those little songs. 

It has been three nights since the last of her was gone, and all attempts at feeding him anything else have not gone well. He is angry. I can feel it. His cries for more are becoming frenzied and I can sense his desperation. I need to feed him, and I sense that I soon will as the noises I hear now are the rattling of the knob on the door to the basement.