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Meet My Darkness

The darkness has always been there, silently existing in the background of my life. I had once believed it attached itself to me as a young child, but I’ve come to believe I brought it into this world with me.

I have many stories of the darkness. It has grown and aged with me, we are old friends. As much as I imagine life would be a bit easier without it, I can’t imagine being a complete person without my darkness. It’s affected me in so many ways, and one of us is always clawing for control over the other.

My darkness has given me many things; nightmares, night terrors, sleep paralysis, anxiety, depression, a morbid fascination with serial killers and occult crimes, as well as a deep love of horror movies and books. However, it has also taken many things away from me. It’s taken my sleep, my time, portions of my childhood, and at times, my sanity.

I hope this is a place where I can share the darkness, and maybe, just maybe, it will give you a moment of entertainment, and give me a decent night’s sleep.

“Hello, darkness, my old friend. I’ve come to talk with you again.” – Paul Simon

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Novel Announcement

Things are moving right along with my debut novel release. The book is in the editing stage. It will be released early 2019. I also have a title, summary, and cover to share with you!

Please head over to my Author Facebook Page to check out the latest information.

http://www.facebook.com/a.c.utterauthor

As always, thank you for the continued support.

Novel Update

As of November 25th, I have won National Novel Writing Month. This means I’ve written over 50,000 words during the month of November in an attempt to finish the first draft of my book. I’m only a couple of chapters away from finishing it, then I can jump into edits. I’m also beginning to research graphic designers to create the cover. If anyone has any recommendations, please let me know.

I had originally hoped to have the book released by the end of the year, but being very sick and hospitalized throughout the year, in addition to a major surgery, has slowed me down a bit. I’m not sure when the book will be out, but I’m hoping it won’t be far into 2019. Hopefully my health will cooperate and I can get it out very soon.

This book will likely have a part two, if not a part three as well. I’m hoping to release a collection of short stories before releasing part two of this book. Hopefully I’ll have three releases in 2019, but since I write around my full-time job, we will see if life allows for that much productivity.

Thank you to everyone who have supported me as I’ve finally taken the leap into writing this last year. I hope to have something fun to present to you soon.

The Waiting Room

There are times when gazing out my window, I feel like I could fly. If only my legs could carry me outside, I would simply take in a deep breath and lift off towards the blue. I would soar through the clouds, dipping in and out of them, dancing my way through the sky. Maybe I would find a friendly flock of birds heading south for the winter. I would drop into formation, relieving myself of the need to plan and make decisions. I would follow my winged leader as far as they will go. When my flock was ready to fly north again, I would simply continue on my own. I would fly so very far away from here.

My thoughts are interrupted by the beeping of my IV machine. I’m out of juice. I try to be polite as my caregiver comes in to switch the bag, but I just want to be left alone. I’ve been trapped here for three years. My body has wasted away, I can’t even get up anymore. My once vibrant spirit is stuck in this bony, pale, dying, vessel.

It doesn’t matter what disease I have, all that matters is that it will kill me. I often wish I could close my eyes and never open them again. I imagine that death would scoop me up into its arms, carry me through the veil, away from this hell, and onto whatever is next.

It’s not that I want to die, I want to live, but that isn’t an option for me. This disease has left me stuck in between life and death. I’m not dead, but I’m not really alive either. This existence isn’t life, it’s purgatory. If medical science could transplant my consciousness into a working body, I would do anything to make that happen. Unfortunately, even if I somehow lived to be ninety years old, the technology still wouldn’t exist, not yet anyway.

I thought at thirty-two that I would be somewhere else in life, that I would be happy. I imagined a career I enjoyed, a partner I loved, dogs, maybe even children. Instead I have this room, this bed, this window, and my consciousness. The days all blend together, each one exactly like the one before it. This is my waiting room. I’m waiting for the end, for the end of me.

My parents died young and I am an only child. What little extended family I have live over a state, and can’t be bothered to go see their dying cousin. My friends stopped visiting after the first year. I think it makes them too sad to see me, or maybe they never loved me at all. In the end, it really doesn’t matter. I’m alone. I’m going to live out the rest of my life alone. I’m going to die alone.

I used to pray. Getting sick does that to a person, makes them remember their religion, or find it if they didn’t have it in the first place. I prayed constantly. I prayed for the doctors to have the knowledge to help me. I prayed for the researchers. I prayed for my family, for my friends. Each night I prayed for a cure until the tears streamed down my face.

I don’t pray anymore.

Whether my plea for a cure fell upon apathetic ears, or whether I was shouting into the wind, either way I’m still dying.

People used to ask if was angry at God. I never really knew what to say to that question. By the time I figured out my answer, people had stopped asking.

If there was a God, I would be angry with Him.

Medical science, western medicine, eastern medicine, holistic medicine, psychotherapy, physical therapy, friends, family, God, they’ve all failed me. A few days ago my caretaker thought I was asleep, and I heard her telling someone she thought I would be gone within the month. That was the final nail in the coffin. I’m out of options. I am cursed to lie here waiting to die, feeling my body rot around me. There is only one thing left I can try. I haven’t done it yet because the mere thought of it makes me feel insane. I might as well ask for a ticket to Hogwarts. However… desperate times call for desperate measures. It’s not like my situation can get any worse.

It’s time to make a deal with the Devil.

They say that in each lie there is a speck of truth. I have come to believe that religion is the lie, God is the lie, but the Devil, he is the speck of truth. The world is a dark place. If only God or the Devil are real, my bets are on the Devil.

Growing up Christian, I had this idea that the Devil was hiding around every corner. I think this idea was placed there by the private Christian elementary and middle school I attended. A middle school teacher once told us deja vu was a sin. He said it wasn’t a big sin, more like dust on a tabletop. The longer you go without dealing with it (repenting), the worse it would get. I also knew people didn’t have any control over deja vu. This meant that if a misfire in my brain could be a sin, then I could be sinning all the time and I would never know it.

This experience left me with a constant fear of accidentally stumbling across sin, and even the Devil himself. Why did all of the Bible lessons translate this way into my little brain? I have no idea. I do clearly remember being worried if I thought about the Devil too much, he would just appear in my room to take my soul.

After lying in this bed for three years, I’ve finally gathered the courage to try to call, or pray, or whatever it’s called when you’re fishing for the Devil. I will wait until tonight, once all the lights are out. Why at night? Because that’s how they do it in the movies, that and I don’t want anyone to hear me talking to myself.

* * *

The time has finally come. My room is dark. The floor is silent except the occasional soft footfalls of the night staff as they pass my door. This is my last shot. I never thought I would be wishing so hard that the Devil has good hearing.

Closing my eyes, I take a deep breath and say out loud to an empty room, “I give up. I want to live, but my body is dying. I’m asking for help, from anyone, from anything. I’ve called out to God, but he’s not home right now. It’s time now for me to call out to another that he betrayed”. I pause, unable to believe what I’m about to do.

“Lu… Lucifer. I call to you. Please, I beg you, help me live. Tell me what I need to do to live.”

The silent minutes pass as years, each moment an eternity. Every sound startles me. I would have jumped out of my skin several times over if I was strong enough to do so. Yet here I lay, in the dark, in the silence, all alone.

“Please. Help me live. If you can’t… or you won’t… let me live, then help me die. Put me out of my misery, please end my suffering.”

Nothing but silence. I was prepared for the worst, demons crawling out from under my bed, dark shadows blacker than black, watching me as I sleep. I had even prepared myself for Amnityville-style bleeding walls, but silence? I hadn’t prepared for silence.

“I’ll trade anything. My soul. Just name your price. I can’t live another day in this dying shell. Please.”

Hours pass, each blending into the next. My only company is the heavy, pressing silence that surrounds me.

As the reality of my situation sets in, I feel laughter building at the back of my throat. Before I know it, laughter is exploding from me, making it hard to breathe. Nothing is funny about the situation I find myself in, but there’s that laughter, relentless and uncontrollable.

The staff has arrived, hearing my laughter from down the hall. I can hear them asking me if I’m okay, asking me what is wrong, trying to get me to calm down. But for me, there is only the laughter, and the torturous realization of my situation.

He didn’t come. I called all night and he didn’t come. I offered my soul and he didn’t come. He didn’t even send a henchman. I didn’t necessarily expect Lucifer himself to show up, but I thought maybe he would send a demon.

Nope.

I understand now that I was wrong. Things can get worse for me. They just did. My last resort was calling on Lucifer to either save me or kill me, but he didn’t come. I don’t have the strength to get better. I don’t have the strength to end my own suffering. There’s no way out, I’m stuck like this. Alone doesn’t mean anything until not even the Devil will keep you company.

The lunacy of my laughter is making the staff uneasy, but I can’t stop. I hear one of the nurses yell for a sedative. It’s probably for the best.

If only I could tell my younger self that the Devil is nothing to be afraid of, the Devil doesn’t exist. The true terror comes from the place you least suspect. The true terror lies sleeping in each of us.

The nurse has pushed some clear liquid into my IV. It won’t be long until lights out. The drug-induced sleep will be a sweet relief.

The nurse leans down, right as the edges of my sight begin to falter. “You’re okay, everything’s alright,” she whispers in my ear. I try to respond, but between my weakening laughter and the effects of the drugs, words are hard to come by.

Before the darkness envelopes my vision I manage to squeak out one last message, “K… ki… p… please. Kill. M-m-e. P…please.”

The Grey

Here I stand. Just me. All of me. The smudged mirror smirks back at me, zeroing in on my flaws. Places that used to be firm with muscle, now hang loose with gravity stretched skin, and ice cream comprised fat. There are suspicious lines at the corners of my eyes and mouth. My ample bosom, once full and perky, now requires assistance to be at its best.

Life is short, but it is long compared to youth. In the blink of an eye I went from eighteen to… well, not eighteen.

There was a time when my body could filter out a Friday night of parties, liquid libations, and recreational heights, all in time to do it again Saturday night. These days, a few hours out with friends requires a full weekend of recovery.

I can usually laugh off these signs of age, but today is different. Today something new stares back at me from the mirror. The grey. Lying among the jet black hair that adorns my head, is the grey. It’s just one for now, but how long until there’s a second, then a third?

All of those youthful days wasted, worried that I was too fat, too ugly, too slow, my teeth too crooked, my skin too freckled. If only that young woman could see herself the way I see her now. Her ambiguous ethnicity allowed her mostly safe passage through any racially charged conversation or situation. Her long, dark hair, healthy and perfect. She learned quickly and easily, putting in a quarter of the effort and reaping the same rewards.

Staring into the mirror, I understand that things have changed. My arms are mostly rust colored up to my elbows. If I look closely enough, I can almost tell the difference between my freckles and the specs of red across my cheeks. My hair is drenched in sweat, a haphazard pony tail at the base of my neck, my chest decorated in chunks of earth. My skin begging for a shower.

It’s not that I hadn’t thought about it before tonight. I thought of it often. Did I plan it? No. Tonight there was something about the sound of her voice, the pure audacity of it. Her silky-smooth voice danced across the kitchen table, landing with a crash on my eardrums, “I’m worried about you. You’re having a mid-life crisis and I want to help you through it in any way I can,” she lied. If anyone was having a crisis, it was her. She didn’t like that I was aging. Her health conscious life was just a facade to get me in shape, to control me.

Of the ten years we’ve spent together, we have been married for two. In the beginning, everything was great, but isn’t it always? Lately she’s been on this health kick, which has led to a lot of conversations about age and mortality. I’ve tried to get her to leave me out of it, but she wouldn’t take no for an answer. Her nagging is incessant, her words buzzing against my eardrums, threatening my sanity.

Last night I was happily eating dinner, but there she sat, glaring at me across her kale salad. I tried to ignore it, but I couldn’t block it out. I finally caved and asked what was wrong. This resulted in a lecture about how eating mashed potatoes is going to kill me before my fortieth birthday.

Usually when she starts one of her health lectures, I see red. However this time, the moment she began to speak, a wave of relaxing energy washed over me. It was like a dam broke, washing away my anxiety, fear, and anger, leaving only peace and clarity behind. I excused myself from the table, telling her I would be right back.

I calmly collected the Louisville Slugger (our cheapo security system) from the closet by the front door. Although it isn’t used anymore, my wife’s name is burned into the end opposite the handle.

I’ve always felt baseball was the worst of all the sports, second only to golf. Watching a baseball game is akin to waterboarding. My wife, being at times a walking stereotype, had played softball in high school. She thought this meant that I needed to like it too. I had spent many hours in batting cages trying to impress her when we were first dating.

I walked back to the table with the bat, turning it over to find the perfect grip. The weight of the bat felt at home in my hands. Walking up behind her, I took my position; Feet shoulder width apart, weight resting on the balls of my feet, head down. I took a deep breath, then I swung that bat as hard as I could. The resulting impact at the base of her skull was explosive. I literally saw parts of her that no one has ever seen before. At least now she knows I was paying attention to all of those batting lessons.

I’m not sure how many times I hit her. She only made a sound on the first hit, it was a sort of muffled grunt of surprise. When I was done, I walked back around to my seat and finished eating my dinner. At least I was able to eat my mashed potatoes in peace.

After dinner there was quite a bit to do. Before cleaning up the mess in the dining room, I drove her out to a wooded area right outside of town. She was heavy and hard to maneuver, but the strength in my body, the strength she had drained from me over all those years, it had returned. I buried her under a tall pine tree. I left her there in an unmarked grave.

Here I stand. Just me. All of me. The light of dawn peeks in through the curtains, illuminating the horror splashed across my skin. Looking in the mirror, my reflection is a little worse for wear, however a shower will take care of most of it.

I’ve turned a corner, started a new chapter, and I’m blazing my own path. Just as I solved last night’s problems, so will I solve my grey problem. Reaching up with my right hand, I gently grab the end of the grey with my thumb and index finger. Once I have a good grip, I give a fast, hard tug. With a twinge of pain, the hair pulls free immediately.

After turning on the water, I pick the bat up from the floor, slowly tracing my fingers over Sam’s name. I can feel my wife’s energy pulsing through the bat. It’s only appropriate that I call it Sam.

Sam and I both show the efforts of our nighttime problem solving, but the shower will soon rinse it all away. Sam in hand, I step into the shower, letting the hot water wash away the knots in my muscles.

For so long I didn’t know how to solve my wife problem, but then Sam called to me from the closet, offering a quick and easy solution. She’s my little problem-solver. In fact, I think I’ll take Sam to work with me today. I have a few problems I could use some help solving.

The Meadow

Soft petals and shiny leaves,

Shake raindrops from their skin.

Limbs stretch as day breaks,

Warming kith and kin.

 

Bright white flowers lift their faces,

Smiling towards the sky,

Welcoming bees and butterflies,

Calling to them as they fly.

 

Under the vibrant colors,

Of nature’s finest show,

The truth of mother nature,

Lies under what does grow.

 

If only dawn could wash away,

The horrors of the night.

The struggle here was short but violent,

Evil’s true delight.

 

Between the slender blades of grass,

A river of red runs free.

Away from that which once did beat,

Of that which once was me.

 

Bright white flowers with flecks of red,

Broken by violence and pain.

Leave a surreal image,

Of that which has been slain.

 

Broken teeth and broken bones,

Twisted limbs and bruised features.

Darken the beauty of the meadow,

Where he would finally deceive her.

 

With the most wicked intentions,

He lured her to her favorite place.

All blonde hair and blue eyes,

The disguise of love upon his face.

 

When she thought the time had come,

For him to take a knee,

Instead he beat her senseless,

It filled him with glee.

 

Pent up rage from many years,

Finally called his name.

This beautiful place she loved so much,

Is where she would remain.

 

Now she lies among the flowers,

Until she is discovered.

What’s left of her will fast be found,

Because she is uncovered.

 

He thinks he’ll get away with it,

He loves the feeling of power.

But Mother Nature knows what he’s done,

And she will make him cower.

 

Now the meadow mourns for her,

The plants, animals, and deer.

Her resting place is beautiful,

Despite how she got here.

 

He left before the daylight came,

A twinkle in his eye.

He left her lying on the ground,

She can’t imagine why.

 

Now she stands in this place,

After watching as he left.

She knows she needs to move on,

But she’s angry and distressed.

 

Maybe she will stay awhile,

Until someone comes by.

They will see her and then call for help,

She knows she has to try.

 

Her empty shell is bent and broken,

Discarded in the grass.

But the beauty here reminds her,

As always, this too shall pass.

 

When they find her body,

She will finally go away.

Heading into the beyond,

Her soul will light the way.

 

For now she will just stay here,

And help nature plot revenge.

Against the man she loved so much,

His life, like hers, must end.

2300 Hours

Reaching through the doorway,
She feels snowflakes as they kiss her skin.
She wants so badly to take that leap,
To find herself on the other side.

Something holds her here,
Here where machines beep and ring.
She longs for relief from the repeated pressure on her chest,
From the shouting and the tears.

On the fringes of her awareness,
She feels electricity dancing across her skin.
A voice yells out,
“Let’s try it again!”

She tries to back away from the doorway,
She knows her family will not approve of her moving through it.
But a skeletal hand reaches through,
Offering to pull her through that open door.

The voices and shouting are getting further away,
The bony hand beckons her.
She knows there is no turning back,
It’s time to go to this new place.

Placing one foot through the doorway,
She is blinded by the bright light.
She pauses to listen,
But everything has gone quiet.

In the distance she hears,
“Time of death 2300 hours”.
She’s not concerned with that now,
With the sobbing and shuffling she can hear.

She lays her hand in the skeletal hand before her,
Her instincts telling her to trust what comes next.
She pulls her other foot through the doorway,
And steps into the bright white abyss of forever.

 

Where Did She Go?

I have all but disappeared from my blog as of late, so I thought I should post a quick update.

I began writing my next short story and before long I found that it was approaching 15,000 words. I believe I have accidentally started writing a novella. This accidental novella has been taking my time and attention, which is why I haven’t been posting any new content.

My goal is to be published by the end of the year. I’m not sure whether it will be a collection of short stores or if it will be this novella. I will update the blog with any developments.

Until then, I hope to find time to post some short stories here. Please feel free to comment with your favorite type of horror story and/or movie, your favorite horror character, or the horror story you would love to read, but doesn’t yet exist.

Even though I’m not posting here, my nightmares continue, I can’t wait to share them with you. Until my next post… sweet dreams…

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Beyond Death

They roam the earth like zombies.

Heads hung low,

Limbs dangling at their sides,

Barely lifting their feet as they walk,

They don’t know that I can see them.

lonely_ghost_girl_by_ghyselenbert-d4ydial

I started this journey as most do.

I saw something as a child that I cannot explain.

This memory spoke to me often,

Haunting my adult brain.

At first this was a hobby,

Something to pass the time.

Soon it would be an obsession,

It would be my lifeline.

But now I can see them,

Those sad, sorry souls,

Marching through eternity,

Unseen and alone.

My camcorder,

It can see a new spectrum of light.

It allows me,

To witness their plight.

Each one passes another,

Completely unseen.

I watch as they shuffle,

I see their sad and angry faces,

Mouths drawn into an eternal scream.

sgf

Is this what awaits us in death?

A lonesome march through eternity?

They cannot see each other,

They cannot see me.

I wonder what this looks like to them.

This empty earth they are cursed to roam alone.

behind glass

Those who stole the fates’ scissors,

To cut their own life line,

If they only knew the truth.

Whatever horrors in life,

They are nothing compared to those waiting in death.

Mankind is forced to roam the earth,

To see empty spaces,

Where they once saw loving faces.

I wonder if I should share this fate,

If showing the world is a big mistake.

Existential dread is common,

Even in those who dream of gold streets,

Of heaven for them,

And of hell for the rotten.

If they all knew the truth,

How far would we make it?

How far would we fall?

I must keep this secret,

For the sake of mankind.

Let them continue to dream,

Of heaven and the divine.

Meanwhile I know the truth,

No matter what life we led,

We are destined to join them,

The billions of dead.

ghost-girl-street

I will destroy my camcorder tonight.

I will smash it to pieces with delight.

I have solved the oldest question,

I have looked beyond death.

While I am cursed to know the truth,

It’s a burden I will carry to my grave.

Mankind is flawed,

But some are kept in line by holy law.

I will let them continue to believe,

While I try to forget.

What really comes next,

The truth of the horror,

That is beyond death.

cem

You’re not alone. Confidential help is available for free.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

1-800-273-8255

The Curse

It started out as a normal day. I woke up, brushed my teeth, went to work, and on the way home I stopped at the grocery store for a frozen pizza and some beer. I felt a little uneasy as I pulled into the drive way, parked, and exited the car, however nothing seemed out-of-place. The door was still locked, there weren’t any broken windows, so I figured it was just my brain playing tricks on me. I went inside and turned on the living room light.

As soon as I turned the light on, before I had a chance to close the door behind me, I felt two hands hit me in the back, giving me a violent shove forward. I stumbled forward, losing my balance, and dropped my groceries. However, I managed to get my hands in front of me so they hit the carpet before my face did. Heart-pounding, confused, angry, and with a fresh shot of adrenaline pumping through my veins, I began to get up so I could confront my attacker. Before I could get my feet under me, everything went black.

When I awoke I found myself in the living room, facing the couch, tied to one of my kitchen chairs. The lights were on, but I couldn’t see or hear anyone else in the house. My hands were tied behind me, and my legs were tied to the legs of the chair. As I tried to come to terms with what was happening, I struggled against the ropes, but they wouldn’t give. I glanced over at the clock and saw it was after 8:00. I had left the grocery store around 5:30, so I had been out for a while. As I glanced around the room, I noticed a rock by the front door and wondered if that was used to knock me out.

Just as I started to think maybe I was alone in the house, my assumed attacker walked into the living room. There wasn’t anything particularly menacing about him. He was about my height, around six feet tall, of average build, and probably no older than forty-five. He had sandy brown hair, brown eyes, about three days worth of stubble on his cheeks. He wore a black hoodie, black pants, and black shoes. He had a beer in his right hand and a piece of pizza in his left.

He stopped about six feet away from me and just stared at me. I think he was trying to look menacing, but was missing the mark. I didn’t think it would help to scream. I live in a quiet neighborhood on the outskirts of town, and although I do have neighbors, this house is new and well insulated. I knew I was going to have to either fight my way out or talk my way out. Since my arms and legs were secured to the chair, I was only left with one option.

“Hello. I’m Steve. Can you please help me understand what is happening?” I said, trying to sound genuine. That’s all it took, and his menacing facade was broken. His face relaxed, his shoulders slumped, he took a few steps forward and plopped down on the couch facing me, setting his pizza down on the end table.

“I can’t do this,” he began, wringing his hands in his lap. “I don’t have a choice. I HAVE to do this, but I also CANNOT do this!” he exclaimed, his voice cracking. He looked very distraught. I thought maybe he was having some kind of a psychotic break. If that was the case, I thought maybe I could actually talk my way out of this, but I had to be careful.

“What can I call you?” I asked, “I don’t need your real name, I don’t want any information that would allow me to identify you to law enforcement.”

“It doesn’t matter, nothing matters. I thought I was a good person, but that must not be true,” he paused long enough to finish his beer in one long gulp, tossing the emptied can across the room. “Why else would I be here? Why else would this be my fate?” he responded, tears forming in the corners of his eyes.

“I still don’t understand. Is there a way that I can help you? You can talk to me, I’m sure we can figure something out that keeps us both safe” I lied.

“No-no-no-no-no-no. It’s too late. I need to explain this to you,” he said sitting up, “I don’t know that you will believe me. In fact, I don’t think you will believe me in the slightest,” he said as he reached into the back of his pants. “Ah! Here, that will help,” my eyes widened at the sight of the revolver that he freed from his waistband. It now sat on the couch next to him. “You can call me Carrie. That is my real name, but no one will ever find me by it,” he added.

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“I’m still very confused Carrie, I’m listening if you want to talk about what’s going on,” I said carefully. I didn’t want to sound condescending, but Carrie is obviously disturbed, I knew I was treading on thin ice.

“I drank all of your beer. I was hoping it would take the edge off, that it would be easier to do what I need to do. Spoiler alert, it didn’t help at all. Oh well, anyway, my full name is Carrie Henderson. I see you cringe at knowing my real name, but don’t worry, it doesn’t matter,” he said, standing up and handing me a small piece of paper he pulled from his pocket. I flipped the paper over and saw that it was actually a photo. The woman in the photo was very beautiful and probably no older than thirty-five. I tried to make a mental note of her features in case I did escape. I want to give the cops as much information as I possibly can.

“Who is this?” I ask, handing the photo back to him.

“I will tell you, but please let me get through this whole thing before you interject or flip out,” I nodded in understanding, so he continued, “That photo is of Carrie Henderson. It is a photo of me. A few days ago I went to a party with some friends. It was at an old friends house, and we were there pretty late. I took an Uber home alone around two o’ clock in the morning. I remember walking into my apartment, then everything went dark. When I woke up I was on the couch, my legs duct taped together, my hands duct taped behind my back. There was a man sitting in the recliner across from me. He and I had a conversation almost identical to the one you and I are having.” As he spoke, I was trying to focus on what he was saying, as well as trying to figure out what I should say to get myself out of this situation.

“This man explained his predicament to me. He said that he was cursed to be a murderer. He said his name was Thomas, he was nineteen, and he was going to kill me. I didn’t understand because he looked like he was in his forties. I didn’t really understand until after he killed me,” he paused, I can only assume to make up more nonsense or to listen to the voices in his head. It was obvious at this point that he was completely insane. Unfortunately that wasn’t going to help me get out of this situation.

“So,” he continued, “Thomas told me he was murdered. He was shot in the head, right between the eyes. The last thing he saw was the man standing over him, pressing the gun to Thomas’ head, and quietly sobbing. The next thing Thomas knows, he’s standing in front of his now lifeless body. At first he thought he was just a spirit, seeing his body as he moved on to whatever is next. That was until he looked at his right hand and saw he was holding a revolver. In fact, it was this very revolver,” he said as he held the revolver up for me to see, then set it back down next to him. I was starting to panic. The closer he got to finishing this insane story, the less time I had to escape.

“He went and looked in the mirror and saw his murderer’s reflection staring back at him. A few weeks later he followed me home from a coffee shop. I left later that night for the party, and he waited for me to return. He murdered me, Carrie Henderson, and when I opened my eyes, they were no longer my eyes, they were Thomas’ eyes,” he paused, gauging my reaction.

“I’ll admit it Carrie, I’m still confused,” I said, feeling the minutes slip by, I am barely keeping my panic at bay.

“You probably won’t really understand until you die. The simplest way I can explain it is by calling it a curse. I’ll call it the Serial Killer Curse. Thomas was murdered by a man. After he was murdered he regained consciousness, but he was no longer Thomas, he was in the murderers body. Thomas killed me, Carrie, I’m a woman by the way, and when I regained consciousness I was in my murderer’s body. Tonight I will kill you and you will come back, but in the body of the mid-forties man you see before you. You will then murder someone and they will take your place, and so on and so forth.”

“If I’m understanding you correctly, the body sitting in front of me, the one you are in, is a constant,” I began, trying to keep the tremble out of my voice, “The body is used to murder someone, and the victim’s soul is placed into this body. What happens to whomever is in the body before? What happens to you when I take your place?” I ask, trying to buy myself time.

“I get to move on to whatever is next. I’ll be free from this prison, from this torture. Once I kill you and you wake up in this man’s body, don’t waste time. You need to kill someone as soon as possible. You have no money, no phone, no contacts, no job, and there will be no rest until you do what needs to be done. If you try to continue to live in this foreign body, you will regret it. Each day that passes the voices get louder. It’s like the screams of every victim taken by this body are screaming in your ears at all times. The longer you go without taking a life, the louder the voices get. It’s maddening. Not to mention that I feel like I’m wearing someone else’s skin, it doesn’t feel right. It’s like an itch you can never scratch. There are lots of other unpleasant things, but that’s enough for now, we need to get on with it. Any questions?”

“What if once I’m in that body, I kill myself? Will that stop the curse?” I ask. I hoped this hadn’t dawned on Carrie, and that he would turn the gun on himself instead of killing me.

“No, Thomas tried that a few times. I even tried it once myself. This body is truly cursed. I put this revolver to my temple and pulled the trigger. I didn’t die, but I blew a hole in the side of my head and I felt the pain of that gunshot wound. It was excruciating. I spent a few days lying in an alley, hidden under garbage while the body regenerated. The same thing happened each time Thomas tried to end it,” he said sadly.

“So, once you kill me I will take your place in the body. I cannot kill myself, and continuing to live in the body will be torture and drive me insane. If I kill someone, I will be allowed to move on because my victim would take my place. Did I get that right?”

Carrie picks up the revolver and stands up. “Ya, you got it dude. I’m sorry that I’m doing this, I never would’ve hurt anyone in my real life. Religion has always been very important to me, and I don’t know if I’ll be allowed into heaven once I do this, but I don’t have a choice. I can only hope that God forgives me. I hope you will forgive me too.”

I had no choice but to beg, “Please, Carrie, please do not do this! Maybe we can find a solution together. There has to be a way to break a curse! Just give me a few days, I’m sure we can sort it out. We could end this forever,” I beg, tears beginning to roll down my cheeks.

Carrie leaned down and pressed the nose of the revolver to my forehead. “You’ll soon see why that’s not possible. I’m sorry,” and with that everything went dark.

***

As I open my eyes, the first thing I notice is the smell. It smells like rotting flesh. Once my eyes are able to focus, the first thing I see is myself, tied to a kitchen chair, with a bloody hole in my forehead. This has got to be the worst nightmare ever. I lift my hands to rub my eyes, and see that the revolver is in my right hand. I set it down on the couch and head to the bathroom to splash some cold water in my face. Maybe that will trigger me to wake up.

Looking in the mirror I see what I do not want to believe. I’m Carrie, well, I’m in the body that murdered me. There is no way that Carrie was telling the truth, it’s impossible. I splash some cold water in my face and head back to the living room.

My body is still there, tied to that chair, the same hole in my forehead. I can’t take this, it feels like my mind wants to just shut off, it’s too much to process. I decide to try again to wake myself up, just in case this really is a dream. I walk over to a lamp that is on an end table near the couch. I lift it up with my right hand, and bring it down hard onto my left. I let out a yelp, the pain is blinding, but I haven’t woken up. I walk back over to the couch and sit down, being careful not to hit my injured hand on anything.

This isn’t possible, yet I do feel as though I’m in a stranger’s body. Everything looks and smells different, I feel out of it and uncoordinated. I feel like I need to crawl out of my own skin, except it isn’t actually my skin. I wonder who he was, this skin suit I’m wearing. Since it can’t die, how old is it? Am I in the body of a famous serial killer that was never captured? I’ve always been fascinated by serial killers. Maybe it’s Jack the Ripper or the Zodiac Killer, or both? I remember watching a documentary on the Zodiac Killer in which they showed a sketch of him. If I threw glasses onto this body it looks pretty close. I guess I’ll never really know.

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I really hope that rotting flesh smell isn’t coming from me. What am I going to do? Should I call in sick to work tomorrow? Or call 9-1-1 and report my murder? Whatever happens next, right now I need to calm down. I’m spiraling out of control. I lean my head back against the couch cushion behind me and close my eyes. Now that I’ve quieted my mind a little bit, I can hear them. The screaming, it’s soft and distant, but very distinct.

I wonder if there are no true serial killers. Maybe there or more cursed people out there. I wonder if any serial killers have been executed or imprisoned who haven’t actually committed a crime, but the body they are stuck in has killed many. I guess it really doesn’t matter, nothing really does anymore. Even in the few minutes I’ve been sitting here, I can hear the voices getting louder.

I only have a couple of choices, either murder someone now, or wait until I cannot handle the screaming in my ears anymore, and kill someone then. Either way I end up having to take a life, I end up pulling a new soul into this curse.

Then it dawns on me, I can choose my victim. Just because Thomas and Carrie chose random people, doesn’t mean that I have to do the same. There is a man who lives around the corner from me who is a registered sex offender. I know this because he had to knock on everyone’s door to tell them when he moved into the neighborhood last July. I looked him up after that to see if he hurt some kids, or if he just got caught having a drunken piss too close to a school at three o’clock in the morning. It turns out that this guy is the real deal, he has hurt three little children in ways from which they will never truly recover. He is perfect for the task at hand.

I stand and stretch, then place the revolver in my waistband. I don’t want to be a murderer, but since I have no choice, I’m going to simultaneously free myself and free the world from one more monster. I’m on my very own kamikaze mission.

I head to the kitchen to grab some duct tape and a flashlight from under the sink. If I need to knock him out, I can hit him in the back of the head with the flashlight and secure his arms and legs with the duct tape. I haven’t quite decided yet if I’m going to talk to him before killing him, or just let him figure it out on his own. Maybe a few weeks stuck in this body, in this weird purgatory, will be a fitting start to his eternal punishment.

Once I have the items I need, I notice my pizza sitting on the counter. I grab a slice and wolf it down. It’s not the best last meal, but I’m glad that Carrie made the pizza. It’s better than nothing.

I walk over to my body as I lick the pizza grease off of my fingers. It’s so strange to see my own dead body. It doesn’t even look like me anymore, it really is just an empty shell. I want to leave a note for my family, but I was very obviously murdered, so it wouldn’t make sense to leave a note. Maybe once I cross over to whatever is on the other side, I will understand how I can help them through losing me.

I am understanding more and more how Carrie felt about being stuck in this body. It’s like all of the murder and evil committed by it is trying to strangle me. I need to get out as soon as possible. My injured hand has already begun to heal itself, so I’m glad I didn’t try the suicide route.

Revolver, duct tape, and flashlight in hand, I head out the front door. The pedophile only lives a few doors down, so I decide to walk over. It’s hard enough walking around in this foreign body, let alone trying to drive a car. The fresh air is nice, and for a brief moment it makes me feel almost normal.

It’s around ten at night, and I’m surprised to see that his house is already dark. His car is in the driveway, so he must be home. This should make it easy. I walk up to the door and use the flashlight to break the small window nearest to the doorknob. This makes it easy for me to reach in and unlock the door. Once I’m inside I stop and listen, but I don’t hear anyone moving around.

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I head upstairs and quickly find the master bedroom. The house is a mirror image of my own, so navigating it is pretty easy. The door to the bedroom is cracked, so I carefully swing the door open and step inside.

I can hear the steady sound of sleeping breath and notice an orange spot in his left ear. He must be wearing earplugs, it’s like he’s trying to make it easier on me. I can feel instincts kicking in, not my own, but those belonging to the body I’m wearing. It is as if the kill memories are stored in its very cells, in its DNA. This body is a killing machine.

Before I realize what I’m doing, I’ve jumped onto the bed, straddling him and pinning his arms under my knees. I reach down and rip his left earplug out as his eyes fly open in fright. He seems too stunned to struggle, but he starts yelling immediately.

“Get off me! Who the fuck are you? Get the FUCK off of me!” he screams.

I chuckle to myself and lean forward to whisper in his ear, careful not to get close enough for him to bite me. “This is for the children. This is the beginning of your punishment. Whatever happens next, just know that you deserve it. You deserve every single second of it.” And with that, I place the nose of the revolver to his forehead, and with a grin, I pull the trigger.

Be Mine

“Be mine?” he asked, cornering me by the coffee machine and holding out a Valentine. I accept it and notice it’s the kind of Valentine that kids put in shoe boxes at school. This one has cupid on the front, preparing to shoot a heart-shaped arrow at some poor unsuspecting soul.

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“Thank you Curtis, Happy Valentine’s Day!” I respond. I try to walk away but he’s blocking my path. “Can I squeeze by you? I have some work waiting for me at my desk,” I say with a smile.

“Be mine?” he repeats, his face absent of emotion. I thought this was all in good fun, but I’m beginning to think he’s serious. Curtis has only worked here for a short time, so I don’t know him quite well enough to read him yet.

“I’m flattered, but I’m seeing someone,” I answered. I thought for sure he knew I was seeing someone. I’ve worked in this office for the last ten years, eight of which I’ve been with Peter. The entire office knows Peter. Curtis just started here a few weeks ago, however I thought he saw Peter come in to bring me lunch the other day. Our desks are right next to each other and he was sitting in his at the time, maybe he thought Peter was just a friend or a family member.

“That someone isn’t here, are they? Be mine?” he pleaded.

“No, thank you,” I said.

“Be mine,” he said.

“For the third time, no, and don’t ask again!” I spit. I’m done being nice.

“Be mine!” he demanded.

“Over my dead body!” I exclaimed. He’s being too pushy. I’m glad we are at the office surrounded by other coworkers, not that any of them are paying attention.

“Fine,” he sighed as he stepped back to let me pass. As I walk past him I swear I hear him whisper “slut”. However, I can’t be sure that’s what I heard, so I keep moving. It was a strange interaction, and he has me a little spooked. I think I’ll keep my distance for now. If it happens again I’ll go to HR, but everyone seems to like Curtis, so I don’t want to rock the boat unless it’s absolutely necessary.

* * *

Lying in bed I can’t help but think I should’ve seen this coming. He never really spoke to me before today. Our interaction at work was strange and unsettling. Holidays do weird things to people, they stir up all kinds of emotions. I thought maybe he was just lonely and frustrated, not that it excuses harassing me.

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None of that matters now. He must have been in my room before I got home. It wasn’t until I laid down and turned off the lights that he emerged from the closet. I think he thought I was sleeping, but wearing an eye mask makes it hard to tell. I know he’s standing over me. I heard the closet door open, followed by soft footsteps approaching the bed. I think he’s just standing over me now. I am so afraid to take my eye mask off, to move, to breathe.

I feel the movement of air as he kneels down next to the bed, his lips getting dangerously close to my ear.

“Be mine?” he asks.

I don’t know what to do. Maybe if I hold still he will think I’m asleep and change his mind.

“BITCH, I know you’re awake! You will be mine. I own you! You start right now,” he yelled.

Slowly I lift my hand to my head and pull off my sleep mask. There he is, once again standing over me. He looks so much bigger and truly terrifying in the dark. There’s wild look in his eyes, and he’s wearing black from head to toe.

“That’s more like it! Now, BE MINE!” Before I can respond he jumps on top of me, straddling me at the waist and closes his large hands over my windpipe. I try to fight him but it’s no use, he outweighs me by at least fifty pounds. The lack of oxygen is stripping my muscles of their power. No matter how much I fight, things slowly go dark.

Upon waking, I see that I’m in my bathtub. My neck hurts from laying at such an awkward angle. Even more disturbing, I’m naked from the waist up. As I slowly come out of the haze I see that he’s sitting on the toilet lid a couple of feet away, eyes closed. I shift in the tub to straighten my neck and his eyes immediately open.

“Welcome back my dear, now the fun can begin,” he says mid-yawn. I cross my arms across my chest, trying to cover myself up. I feel so vulnerable and exposed, it’s awful.

“I don’t understand what’s happening. Why are you doing this?” I ask. He shifts on the toilet lid, turning to face me. His elbows rest on his legs as he leans toward me.

“What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done?” he asks, his wild eyes darting back and forth from me to his hands.

“What? What does that matter? I don’t know, I don’t think I’ve ever done anything terrible,” I manage to squeak out.

“Sounds like you aren’t thinking hard enough. No one ever does, they always like to think they’re good people. You think so too, don’t you, that you’re a good person?” his grin is unsettling and it’s making me incredibly nervous.

“I’m apparently oblivious. Please tell me why you’re doing this and what you plan to do. Please don’t hurt me. I’m sure whatever is going on can be worked out.” I’m trying to keep my cool but desperation finds me and gives itself away by the tremble in my voice.

“A couple of months ago you made a mistake, a big, giant, whopper of a mistake. It was the kind of mistake I find offensive. I gave you a great gift and you’re just throwing it away.”

I wish I didn’t know what he was talking about, but I do. I don’t know how he could possibly know, I haven’t told a single person because I’m so ashamed. I can feel the tears trying to fight their way out of my eyes, but I must try to stay calm and collected.

He takes my silence as a reason to keep talking. “You had a special relationship with the person I replaced at the office. From what I understand, your mistake is why he quit his job. I’m also here because of your mistake, understand?”

I can’t help it, I feel the tears as they spill down my face. “I still don’t understand what’s going on, but you’re right, I did make a mistake. I made the biggest mistake of my life. The whole office went out for drinks while Peter was out-of-town seeing some relatives. I had an inappropriate moment with your predecessor.”

“Ah, ya, you made a mistake all right. Calling it an inappropriate moment is an insult to everyone effected. While your husband was away seeing family, you brought home a coworker. You little worthless slut! You brought him here, to the home you share with Peter, and you let him bend you over the couch. You have defiled this entire house,” he says, disgusted.

“I know! I would do anything to take it back! I don’t know what came over me,” I sob. “But I still don’t understand why you care. What does this have to do with you?”

“You can’t take it back, but you can pay the price. When you and Peter were born, I marked both of your souls. That’s my job, to match souls. My mark led you to each other, you’re true soul mates. I put in all of this hard work to match you up to your perfect partner, and you throw it in my face.”

I don’t understand what he’s talking about. I thought he was crazy before, but this is a whole new level. I don’t know what to do besides sit and cry.

“My primary function is to match souls. However, I’ve found a pet project over the millennia that keeps things fresh for me. Since you have disgraced the gift I gave you, since you’ve broken Peter’s heart, even though he doesn’t yet know it yet, I am here to collect the fee. Your heart is blackened by this deceit, so I am here to collect it,” he paused, his eyes boring holes through mine. Slowly he reaches behind him into a bag I hadn’t noticed before. His hand re-emerges wrapped around the handle of a scalpel.

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“No! No! NO!” I scream, I’m losing my wits. There’s nowhere to run. He’s between me and the door. I know I won’t be able to fight him off.

“You broke Peter’s heart,” he says with a grin, “so I’m here to take yours,” his grin widens as he recognizes the horror in my eyes.

“I’ll be better, I swear! I’ll make it right, I’ll tell Peter! I’ll tell him he deserves better than me! Please don’t hurt me, please!” I plead.

Before I can react, he lunges forward and shoves a syringe into my neck. Within seconds my arms have gone slack, once again exposing my bare chest. I try to lift my arms back up but I can’t. My body feels like it’s made of lead, it’s so heavy I can’t move. I try to scream, but nothing comes out. I’m trapped in my own body. He tosses the syringe aside, and scalpel in hand, he kneels next to the tub.

“Settle down my dear,” he begins to sing. “Don’t fight it, don’t delay, for Cupid’s bow is on its way. I’ve found you a lover who is precious and kind, the kind that loves you for body and mind. But you threw it away for some booze and a good time. Now Cupid is back, to collect his fee. Now heartless, you will always be,” and as he sang the last few words he touched the scalpel to the left side of my chest.

I can’t believe this is happening. I can’t move, but I can feel. I can feel the tub, cold against my skin, the pain in my neck, the hunger in my belly, and the scalpel  blade resting on my chest. He gives me one last grin and presses the scalpel into my flesh. All I can feel is searing pain. I try to scream, but nothing comes out.

“That’s correct my dear, you can’t move nor speak, but you sure can feel. This is how Peter would feel if he found out about your betrayal. He has always been good to you, so I will save him from that fate. Instead he will think you left him. I’ve left a note on the TV. I promise,” he says while removing the flesh on the left side of my chest, directly over my heart. Things are starting to get hazy. The pain is more than I ever imagined possible.

I wanted to plead for my life, to fight back, to run, but it’s useless. I see him reach into the bag behind him once again. He pulls out a bone saw, and when he turns it on, the sound of the bone saw is too much. Everything begins to go dark again. I’m floating somewhere between conscious and unconscious, feeling pain and hearing him whistle to himself as he goes about his gruesome task.

“Okay my dear, I think you can still hear me. I have your heart exposed. I’m going to cut it out now, and add it to my trophy case. I’ll dispose of your body. Before I take your heart, I want to read you the note I’ve left for Peter. No one will ever know what actually happened to you, not even your family. This note is your legacy to the ones you care about, it’s the last contact you will ever have with them.”

Peter –

I can’t believe I’m writing this note, I never thought it would come to this. I’m unhappy, I have been for quite some time. I don’t want to give you the ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ line, but it’s the truth. I’ve been planning this for a while, you won’t be able to find me. Please do not try, it will be a waste of your time.

I’ve moved out-of-state and I am starting over somewhere new, where nobody knows me. I hope you find happiness, find love, and forget about me.

-Jen

I can feel the tears streaming down my face, they’re making my vision fuzzy. I’ll never see Peter again, my parents, my sister, my friends, they will never know what happened to me. They will all think I abandoned them.

I don’t see an escape, so I give up, I let go. The world begins to fade to black as I feel him reach into my chest cavity. The last thing I hear is him whistling while he cuts my heart from my chest.

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