#31ShortHorrors – Insufficient, Unacceptable.

October 14, 2015

Insufficient, Unacceptable

The woman was tied to the chair. Blue jeans, hoodie, long loose hair. She didn’t fight the zip ties that were cutting off her circulation. She was clammy; tears streaked her face. Her ears were bright raging red.

He stroked her hair. Told her she was pretty. Beautiful. He loved her. He’d known a long time she dyed her hair. He was ok with it. He asked her to stop dyeing it. She said she would. She promised. When the time was right.

She stopped dyeing it for a while. But she became fearful, her kids looked at her funny, didn’t recognize her. She trimmed her hair, tried to speed up the growth process. She swallowed vitamins. She exercised, she ate protein, she ate vegetables. Her stomach was in constant agony with all the changes.

While she was focused on her personal change, her work life took a nosedive. Her workload tripled, then quadrupled. She was publicly scolded for not taking more work home. Her mental state deteriorated.

She couldn’t focus on any one thing. Her work suffered. She stopped focusing on her personal change to focus on work. It got worse. Ok, I’ll get a better job, then refocus on my hair.

He had supported her when she stopped focusing on her hair. He had supported her when she left her job, although he was upset, with reason. They talked it out, talked it through, were on the same page.

Until they weren’t.

Which led her to be here, tied to a chair, on the receiving end of chastisement, scolding. She was lazy, she was a liar. Just twelve hours earlier she had been his Princess. Now she was the object of his ire. Spun on a dime, months of pent-up frustration erupted from his mouth into her face, a fireball of misery and disappointment. She was stunned, bewildered.

Disappointment in a decision he had previously supported.

You will never stop dyeing your hair. You lied to me.

You promised you would wait. You said you would wait forever.

You’re taking too long. You lied to me. You didn’t try hard enough. Why don’t you just… just… just…

Just.

Nobody helped me stop dyeing my hair. I had to do it on my own. Why can’t you JUST DO IT he roared.

I had it so much worse than you. I turned out just fine. You’re just lazy.

            Never mind the infinite differences in circumstances. Variables in the data meant nothing to him. He only wanted the end result, quickly as possible, without regard for how the method would affect all of the final results, all of the people involved. He screamed until his vocal chords burned and fused together.

As he screamed in her face, as blood tears dripped from her eyelashes, blood dripped from her nose, the membrane around her brain dissolved, first the right hemisphere collapsed and melted, then the left. Her mind expurgated via her ears, nose, it ran down her throat and choked her. Her stomach roiled and purged, and the melted leftovers of her brain came back up in a grey slippery mass. She coughed, gagged, and hurled up her heart. It flopped lazily down her front, end over end, off her knee, landed with a squishy thud on the cement floor. It stained the grey concrete the color of dark kidney beans.

He stomped out of the room, left her to figure out how to free herself from the chair, the room. He erased her from his memory banks. No more pain for him.

She became suddenly aware she was exhausted. Empty. She never had the words to soothe him. She could never give him what he wanted. Needed. Now her mind was gone, her heart in a puddle on the floor, and she never would.

She closed her eyes. She said goodbye. In her dreams, she told him she loved him. That she was sorry. She tried, but she was insufficient, unacceptable.

She died that night, and woke up to infinite hell the next morning. And the next morning, and the one after that. But, being without mind or heart, she subsisted the rest of her life numb, empty. The memories resided in her gut, the only functional organ remaining, of the times way back, when she could feel something, they had felt something, anger, love, anything. The memories were insufficient, unacceptable, but then, this was hell, and to be expected.

I think that went better than expected.

Welcome to the Weekly Roundup!

Last week was the inauguration of this blog, and a hearty warm bowl of soup and thank you to everyone who visited and read! We saw the debut of 13 pieces of #31ShortHorrors, one of which is available for download already. If you missed bits, never fear, as these stories will all be compiled when finished, and available at Smashwords.

This week will see the debut of a longer piece titled Under the Papadome, and features a few non-fictional characters; it also stitches some previously posted poetry together.

Meanwhile, are you prepping for NaNoWriMo? Join me?

I’m reading the inimitable Mary Roach’s GULP! Say hi on Goodreads!

Have a reasonably unterrible Monday, friends.

~IC

#31ShortHorrors – The Head Fairy

October 13, 2015

(Author’s Note: This story is available as a free download.)

The Head Fairy

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there lived a little boy, Matt with his twin brother, Jason. They were very precocious and independent for two lads of barely six summers; they kept their own house, made their own meals, washed their own dishes, and minded their own livestock. They had to be responsible for themselves, as they had no parents or family to look after them.

Matt and Jason lived all alone in a small stone house with a thatched straw roof. There was a shed behind the house with two goats, two ponies, three pigs, and an assortment of cats, dogs, and chickens. To the side of the house, guarded from the animals by a picket fence, was a vegetable garden. As the livestock and garden had been bought and planted before the children found themselves alone, all they had to do was mind their upkeep.

A small stream ran through the land behind the livestock shed. This stream ran clean, clear, and fast. There were lots of large, meaty fish swimming in it. Crawdads hid in the mud, and turtles waltzed about like they owned the place. And in a way, they did.

For you see, turtles are wise and pragmatic creatures. They carry their houses on their backs. Now, because turtles spend so much time napping and looking for food, who do you suppose keeps their houses in decent condition? Obviously not the turtles themselves. No, the turtles have very special helpers to tidy up, tend the dishes, make the beds, and dust the shelves.

The turtles keep human servants.

But not just any human will do.

He or she must be a human with a demonstrated Need to Clean. A human with an obsessive desire to scrub and dust and check and double-check and vacuum and arrange and re-stock supplies, and most of all, the human must love to dust. Turtle shells have no windows, after all, so the dust can be hard to see until one sits down in a big pile of it and then spends the rest of the afternoon sneezing one’s fool head off.

How does a turtle nail down exactly which human is suitable? Easy peasy. They look for the tidiest cottages, the sheds and barns with no manure in the livestock stalls, the water troughs with no lichen or algae. The look for the villagers and farmers who beat their carpets daily, who empty the chamber pots every time, those who sweep the dirt from the dirt paths leading to their homes.

The humans with the reddest, rawest hands are usually the best bets.

It wasn’t always like this. The turtles used to have fairy servants, because the fairies were tiny and could easily fit into their Masters’ shells. The fairies would use their magic to quickly tidy up and set things to rights. However, the fairies did not receive anything worth having from this arrangement, and one by one, dropped out of the Turtle Internal Husbandry Program.

The Principal Turtle held a meeting with the Head Fairy to discuss the future. It was a brief meeting, considering the amount of tea that was drunk, but there you have it. Business leaders the world over tend to drink a lot of tea. It’s the nature of the beast.

The Principal Turtle and the Head Fairy decided that each fairy in service to a turtle would buy its way out from under the shell by providing an equivalent replacement service creature. Many creatures were interviewed for the positions: cockroaches (too ambivalent about dust), tiny tree frogs (too ambivalent about slime), worms (again with the slime, ewww), minnows (too floppy, dishes remained wet after drying), ants (they tickled, A LOT), centipedes (itchy), and black flies (too unhygienic). Finally, the Principal Turtle turned to the Head Fairy in exasperation.

“Gerald, honest to Pete, there is no creature as fitting as the Fairy for this particular job!” he cried. Gerald the Head Fairy shook his head side to side.

“I see what you mean, Pat, but my Fairies don’t want to do this job any more,” Gerald shrugged. “But what if…” he started, raised one eyebrow, and paused.

“Yes?” grunted Pat the Principal Turtle impatiently.

“What if you had non-magical fairies? Creatures who looked the same as us, who could do the same job, but weren’t magical? I mean, the magic part is no big deal, right? As long as the housekeeping gets done?”

Pat squinted in consideration. “I suppose that could work,” he agreed.

“Give me two shakes, I’ll be back in the morning,” Gerald answered and clapped Pat on the shell.

The dawn was breaking through the trees when Head Fairy Gerald knocked gently on Pat’s shell. Pat opened his eyes slowly, adjusted to the light, then they popped wide open. Two tiny trembling humans, the size of fairies but lacking wings, stood before him.

“See?” Gerald jumped up and down. The tiny humans bobbled and grabbed on to each other as the ground beneath them rumbled with the force of large fairy clomping.

Pat looked the humans up and down. A mated pair, no less, by the way they clung together. Pat raised an eyebrow and was silent a moment.

“What are your names?” he asked.

“I am Tom Barker and this is my wife Cynthia,” the male answered for both of them, maneuvered his body protectively in front of the female.

“Aren’t humans usually a big bigger?” the Pat the Principal Turtle asked gently.

“Yes, but we… we woke up like this! And then we were in a net and flying through the air, and we landed here with this big fella,” Tom nodded towards Gerald and Gerald’s proud grin.

“Ehh? Pretty goo…” Gerald started.

“Silence!” Pat commanded. Everyone flinched. Pat turned to Gerald the Head Fairy. “So, Gerald, you rescued these tiny humans after some wicked creature performed its magic on them? Is that how it went?” Pat’s eye twitched, a barely perceptible wink to Gerald.

“Ah, yes! That’s what I did! I rescued them with a spider web net! Smart, huh?” Gerald’s understanding of the psychology of the situation finally sunk in.

“My dear Mr. and Mrs. Barker. Have you any idea how this happened?” Pat asked the couple. They shook their heads ‘no’ in unison. “Hm. Well, I happen to be in a position to offer you safe housing, however, I would require something in return,” he said gently.

And that is how Gerald the Head Fairy freed his own people from enslavement by Pat the Principal Turtle and his Troupes. Together, the turtles and fairies scouted out the tidiest, most fastidious humans. Gerald and his colony magicked the humans to the appropriate size, and provided the turtles with all the tiny slaves they needed. The turtles framed themselves as benevolent saviors of the tiny humans, rather than slave masters.

This arrangement proved to work quite well for the turtles, and for the tiny humans, as long as no one asked questions. Human curiosity is a powerful force, however, more powerful than any magic. Inevitably, humans large and tiny began to wonder about the order of things.

Not only did the humans wonder, the livestock grumbled amongst themselves. The nanny goats in Matt and Jason’s shed supervised the boys’ activities, and discussed the situation with the pigs and sheepdog. All the mother animals agreed that although the boys were doing a fine job, they’d be better off with their parents. Humans took a very long time to raise their children; they weren’t supposed to be set into the wild this soon, were they? The ponies joined the barnyard chat, and soon all the animals were involved. A chicken thought she’d heard one of the boys sobbing at night. A dove had witnessed the boys clinging to each other during a thunderstorm. Something had to be done.

Shaggy Dog was sent to scout out the situation in town. Surely their parents ought to be about somewhere? Were other kids missing their kin? What the heck was going on?

Several hours later, the goats had been milked, the animals fed, the vegetables and eggs collected. Matt and Jason sat on the back stoop of their cottage, dirty and exhausted.

“I miss Mama,” whispered Jason. “Even though she was too busy scrubbin’ to listen to our lessons.”

“And I miss Papa,” sighed Matt, “even though he was always too busy cleanin’ up the yard to teach me how to ride my bike.”

“You think they’re ever comin’ back?” Jason asked. “I wanna go into town and ask, but then they might stick us in the orphanage if they find out we’re here by ourselves.”

“I dunno, but yeah, we gotta just keep fakin’ like we’re fine. Otherwise they’ll steal us and take our house and animals. We can’t let them get taken away. Someone’ll eat’em,” Matt explained. Jason’s horrified look and tears in his eyes obliged Matt to reconfigure his words.

“We’re doin’ fine, if you think about it. Ain’t no reason anyone should come out and question us. We just keep on doin’ what we’re doin’. We got summer break coming pretty soon, we can relax a little then,” Matt said.

A few hours later, just after dusk, the boys were having breakfast for dinner in the little cottage. Shaggy Dog came trotting up the lane with four other village dogs, each with a similar story: their masters had gone missing in the middle of the night. One dog had lost his young charges to the local orphanage, but another had managed to keep his young’uns safe and hidden in a similar fashion to Matt and Jason. The barnyard animals mumbled and grumbled. Where could they be? Had aliens abducted them? Was there some sort of magic afoot?

The doves were sent into the forest to gather intelligence. They flew to a cave in the hill nearby and spoke with the bats. The bats convened with the owls, and together they swarmed the night sky in search of information, people, magic, and flying saucers. Anything that might explain the disappearance of the local grown ups.

Now, it had long been known amongst the forest animals that the turtles had a special arrangement with the fairies. It was such a well-known and accepted arrangement, that no one really noticed when the housekeeper fairies lost their wings. And it wasn’t until a young owl named Bobby swooped down to grab a dormouse for a snack, that he noticed that the servant hanging up Pat’s washing didn’t shimmer, didn’t fly. In fact, had the housekeepers always dried the laundry in such a way? Seemed like those fairies had used magic for most of their duties.

Bobby Owl had a thought so profoundly shocking that he dropped his dormouse and rammed into a tree. He settled in a bough and thought hard as he studied the turtle neighborhood below. These housekeepers weren’t using any magic! These weren’t fairies at all! They were teensy tiny humans!

Bobby Owl took to the skies and searched out his family. He explained quickly and quietly what he’d seen and where, and they sent a scout group of owls and bats to the small stream behind Matt and Jason’s house. Sure enough, those servants were not fairies! The winged warriors took to the sky and set out to tell the others.

Bobby led a barn dove back to the stream so she could see for herself. She landed lightly next to Pat’s shell and crept around the side. In the gloom, she noted Mrs. Barker, Matt and Jason’s Mama, pulling washing down from a threaded clothesline! Mrs. Barker looked up from a washcloth bed sheet and gasped in surprise. Animals didn’t usually stalk this close to the shell at night. She dropped the washcloth and ran around the corner of the shell, inside to safety. The dove picked up the washcloth and flew back to the barnyard.

The animals regrouped in the shed. A low growl, a bleat here, a quiet whinny there. They decided to send the dogs to speak to the turtles and the fairies. The dogs were familiar and friendly, and the hostage-holders might listen to reason from them. They were also less likely to terrify the humans.

In the morning, the dogs trotted to the stream and formed a circle around the turtles. Shaggy Dog tapped on Pat the Principal Turtle’s shell. His head emerged slowly.

“Hrmph, umf, erm, good morning. What can I do for you?” he asked groggily as his head made a slow pass around the group.

“We’re here for the humans,” Shaggy replied. “You cannot just take them. Their children need them.”

“Nonsense. We’ve taken no one,” Pat grumbled. “Good day, sir.” Pat’s head disappeared inside his shell.

The dogs looked at each other. They could play hardball, but that would involve playing actual ball with the turtles, and the humans inside could get hurt. Shaggy knocked on Pat’s shell once more.

“Look, we know you have the humans. Maybe you didn’t take them, but you have them. You’re not using fairies anymore as servants. Why, I don’t know, and we don’t care. We need the humans back. Their children are not old enough to fend for themselves,” Shaggy entreated.

“Let the other humans deal with the brats,” Pat harrumphed and disappeared again.

A small human head poked out of the leg hole in Pat’s shell. Her eyes became big as saucers when she recognized Shaggy. She disappeared inside, then emerged once more, hand in hand with Mr. Barker. They ran behind a tree. The dove cooed to them until they climbed on her back, and she flew them to a high bough.

Mrs. Barker threw an acorn cap at another turtle’s shell. A small head peeked out the tail hole of the shell. Tom waved his arms wildly and the humans snuck out the back entrance of their prison. The dove flew them up to share the branch with Mr. and Mrs. Barker. One by one, each turtle shell’s servants escaped, ferried to a high tree branch.

Pat’s head slinked out of his shell. “That’s all fine and dandy that you’ve freed this set, but how do you suppose you’ll make them big again? How you going to make sure they don’t just take more servants?”

The dogs looked at each other and then back at Pat as he hissed, “You have til darkness falls once more, to fix the humans, and not make more.”

Back in the barnyard, the humans sat in a tiny circle, surrounded by the larger barnyard animals. Tom Barker related how worried Pat was that if anything happened to Gerald the Head Fairy, their way of life would be lost forever.

“Why’s he called the Head Fairy? Why not Boss Fairy? Or Large and In Charge Fairy?” Mrs. Barker pondered.

“He is bigger than the rest of them,” another woman pointed out, “and his head is disproportionately bulbous.”

Cynthia looked to Tom and Tom looked to her. All the humans sat bolt upright.

“We know what we have to do, everybody. Go, fight, WIN!”

Each human mounted a dove and took to the sky, as the dogs and pigs tracked the scent of fairy on the ground. Matilda Pig, Matt and Jason’s big sow, nosed out a spider web net near the turtle colony that smelled strongly of fae, and gave it to Shaggy. He nodded his understanding and shared it with the rest of his crew. The animals spread out in a wagon wheel circle starting from the turtles, moving outward. Matilda chose to stay nearby, in case Gerald returned with fresh humans.

As the animals searched and mumbled, Matilda’s nose itched. She sneezed. She eyed Pat’s shell with suspicion. He was inside, quiet as stone. Pat was the oldest and largest turtle in the colony, hence the title of Principal. She quietly eased over, closer to him. The scent was stronger. Yes, she knew that scent. She walked up to Pat.

“So, buddy. How’s it going?” she asked loudly, amiably. “Haven’t seen you round for a while, eh? I guess because ‘cause you’re gettin’ on in years?”

Pat’s head eased out of his shell. “Hello, Matilda,” he moaned gloomily. “Well, you know, I can’t get around like I used to any more.”

“So what can you tell me about your bale? You never really introduced us!” Matilda’s grunts echoed through the forest. Shaggy stopped in his tracks and reversed course.

“Well, now see that’s Roscoe over there,” Pat pointed with his snout, “and that’s his mate Jessica, and there’s the twins Jenny and Jane.”

“WOW PAT! THAT’S TERRIFIC! I DIDN’T KNOW YOU’D HAD GRANDKIDS ALREADY!” Matilda shouted. She noted a small knock inside Pat’s shell, towards the back. The dogs surrounded the turtles in the darkening forest, and the doves circled overhead before settling in the branches and into their coo-coo-rain-is-coming song.

“I GUESS THAT’S WHY YOU NEEDED SERVANTS, HUH? TO KEEP UP WITH THE HOUSEWORK?” Matilda asked.

“Why you shoutin’, Matty?” Pat asked, “I’m right here.”

“OH I’M SORRY. I FIGURED SINCE YOU WERE GETTING’ ON IN YEARS YOUR HEARING MIGHT NOT BE SO GREAT ANYMORE!”

Another knock inside the shell.

“SO WHAT ARE YOU GONNA DO WITH NO SERVANTS? YOU GOT A BACKUP PLAN?” Matilda hollered.

“He doesn’t NEED a backup plan! Will you please STOP SHOUTING! My ears are too sensitive for all this racket!” Gerald’s complaints and head emerged from Pat’s back leg hole, just in time for Shaggy to grab him at the nape of the neck and pull him the rest of the way out of the shell. Shaggy clamped down hard on Gerald’s neck and he squeaked.

Dozens of fairies took flight, shooting tiny arrows at the animals. The bats descended upon them and ate the arrows, then ate the fairies. Upon ingestion, the bats grew larger, shimmering in the late dusk.

“We want our parents back!” Jason and Matt stood in front of their dog, the neighbor dogs, and all the forest creatures.

“You can have your parents back. But you’ll never have them big again,” Gerald grinned an evil smile, pointy teeth in his open mouth. “The magic to change them back is right up here!” Gerald pointed to his head.

“I can fix that!” yelled Jason and he charged towards Shaggy and Gerald with his father’s woodcutting axe. Matt held Gerald’s thrashing legs and Shaggy stood on Gerald’s shoulders as Jason hacked off Gerald’s head.

As the lifeless head rolled away from the neck stump, blood did not pour out.

Light poured out of the base of Gerald’s head, up, up, golden yellow sparks and dusty shiny photons floated up into the night sky. Tendrils of fairy magic drifted towards the former servants in the trees, into their ears and noses and mouths, and gently they grew into their former selves. The boughs sagged under the increasing weight, and the adults quickly clambered and shimmied down the tree trunks to the ground.

Mr. and Mrs. Barker ran to their children and scooped them up into tight hugs as the other adults hugged and wiped each other’s tears. All four sank to the ground to hug Shaggy Dog and Matilda Pig.

“It was Matilda’s racket that led us here to the stream!” Matt recounted. “We thought someone was hurting her, that’s why we brought the axe!”

In the hubbub of celebration, the turtles had backed away, down the banks and into the stream. Pat was slowly creeping his way to safety when Mr. Barker caught him by the shell.

“What do you think, kids? Turtle soup for dinner?”

#31ShortHorrors – Not THAT Kind of Help

October 12, 2015

Not That Kind of Help

Help Wanted: Many Happy Returns Crematorium, Inc., is seeking a Motivated Sales Associate to join the ranks in our rapidly expanding Mortuary Service Department.

We Offer:

  • Unlimited Income Potential via a commissioned incentive package
  • Full benefits available (Including Medical, Dental and Vision Insurance, Tuition Assistance Program, PLUS a 401K with a GENEROUS company match)
  • Best in class ~ Professional Training
  • State of the Art Electronic Contract Hardware & Software
  • Best in Class ~ Technology and Sales Operating Systems
  • Flexible Hours
  • Career Advancement Opportunities

Requirements for this position include, but are not limited to:

  • Sales experience is helpful but not mandatory. Someone with the right attitude and a good work ethic can be just as successful as someone with years of sales experience.
  • Desire to help others, and earn a competitive income
  • Ability to work well as part of a team or independently
  • Basic computer and technology skills required

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Greetings,

I am seeking a position in which I can add positive growth to a company under very efficient circumstances. I am fluent in all commonly used operating systems, great with people, and not afraid to get my hands dirty. My resumé and references are attached, and I am available to start immediately.

Regards,

Leland Applegate

Dear Mr. Applegate,

Thank you for applying with our firm. Upon review of your resumé, we do not have any available positions that would suit your experience. We will maintain your submission on file in case an appropriate position opens in the future.

Best,

Deb Hughes, HR representative

Greetings,

I understand you have recently increased your sales force. I am seeking a position in which I can add positive growth to a company via creative market utilization strategies. I am great with people, and not afraid to get my hands filthy dirty. My resumé and references are attached, and I am available to start immediately.

Warm regards,

Leland Applegate

Dear Mr. Applegate,

Thank you for applying with our firm. Upon review of your resumé, we find that our current sales force meets or exceeds the needs of our local market. We will maintain your submission on file in case an appropriate position opens in the future.

Best,

Deb Hughes, HR representative

Dear Ms. Hughes,

I understand you have recently increased your sales force and back-end staff to meet the need for the sudden spike in the local market. I am seeking a position in which I can manage the supply chain logistics required in a company facing an aggressive growth curve such as yours. I am great with people, and not afraid to do what it takes to get the job done. My resumé and references are attached, and I am available to start immediately.

Warm regards,

Leland Applegate

Dear Mr. Applegate,

Thank you for applying with our firm. Upon review of your resumé, we find your experience lacking in the common computer and software systems used in the mortuary industry to efficiently negotiate supply chain and B2B logistics. We will maintain your submission on file in case an appropriate position opens in the future.

Thanks,

Deb Hughes, HR representative

Deb,

I have recently acquired all corporate entities within the logistical supply chain of the mortuary industry in this geographical region. I have created a surplus market, which allowed your business to boom, and your fair city is now 99% employed. What more can I do to demonstrate my motivation and dedication to increasing market share for MHRC, Inc.? My resumé and references are attached, and I am available to start immediately.

Sincerely,

Leland

Hi Leland,

Our CEO has requested an on-site interview panel with you. Please choose a day that is suitable to your schedule:

Wednesday, November 4: 9:00am-2:00pm

Thursday, November 5: 8:30am-1:30pm

Friday, November 6: 8:00am-1:00pm.

Please note, lunch will be provided. Kindly advise of any dietary restrictions when you reply to this email with your interview date of choice.

Thanks,

Deb

Hiya Deb,

Let’s do this on Friday the 6th. All my new residents should be settled in by then, and a new job would be a great way to start of the weekend, don’t’cha think?

I require a high protein diet, so please make sure raw rare steak of some sort is on the menu, and a nice chianti.

I look forward to meeting you! We’re going to have a great time working together!

C-ya,

LA

Dear Mr. Applegate,

You are confirmed for your on-site interview Friday, November 6 at 8:00am. Please bring a photo ID and your parking garage ticket for validation. The menu has been ordered to your requirements.

As I will be out of the office, our CEO Lou Cifer will greet you personally at the front desk.

Good luck,

Deb Hughes, HR, Many Happy Returns Crematorium, Inc.

Dear Mr. Cifer,

Please accept my notice of resignation, effective Thursday, November 5. I have enjoyed my tenure here at MHRC, Inc., and look forward to taking the lessons I’ve learned with me to my next position.

Best,

Deb Hughes, HR

#31ShortHorrors – DIVE

October 11, 2015

Dive

Another fall, a swan-dive leap,

One more purposeful concession

Choices turned to standing orders

Pain dulled in blind obsession.

Steven Davidson, before me

Another kid from round the way

Torn out of your childhood home

Bent and twisted that desperate day.

I knew you well and often, lad,

A first-rate compatriot and friend

You disappeared first from the street

And then your body chose its end.

Nightmare wakened someplace new

Not in bed, on floor, or loo

Brown sugar and ice to wake the bore

Then your body hit the floor.

Now forever young we run

This army gathers up the dead

To save that energy from Else

Eventually rebuild The End.

The war is coming, my old mate

Grim Reapers have singular fates,

Prevent the theft of human crux

Recycle it and save the race.

Ian, Christopher

Isabel, Steven

Our top new recruits are leading

The charge gathering newly dead

The coming plagues and wars and dread

Human kind is teetering

Soon to fall yet skittering

Knowing what will save them yet

They demand to make no move

To save themselves, instead they bet

On future generations’ work

Uninterested, unvested perks

These lazy humans, ungrateful jerks

At any rate, we save their souls

To save the species, regenerate

Smarter experiment, see the data

Humans 3.0 in beta.

#31ShortHorrors – COLLAPSE (or: well, hell, the gang’s all here)

October 10, 2015

Collapse

Who have we here to join us new,

A fresh-faced smiling lady?

It’s so unusual to see

Such joy in those we bade here.

Ah, you’re Isabel of broken heart,

Two sons you lost hard-felt

One fell from disobedience

And the other from his belt.

Quite right then, please sign on this line,

We’ll get your papers sorted.

Christopher’s right over there,

And Ian’s busy morphing.

Notice your kids don’t appear

The same as they did living

What you see is energy

Your memories are serving

Now look here mum

We need your help to organize and lead

This bright young troupe of new Grim Reapers

They’re so eager to please

No sorry, your husband isn’t here

And won’t be for decades

He carried on among those walking

He sings your accolades.

You will have the pleasure

Of escorting him from life

At his appointed exit point

He’ll be relieved to see his wife.

This is the part of our harsh job

That bothers us the least

Reuniting families

Fills our energies with peace.

We hope you have enjoyed your brief

Introduction to this realm

It can be discombobulating

Adjusting to this form.

Once you get accustomed to

Your disembodied essence

I think you will enjoy the freedom

Of empyreal presence.

#31ShortHorrors – PLUNGE

October 9, 2015

Plunge

There is a certain type of child

Whose ears don’t hear, but shake

He doesn’t see the future or

Connect the dots he makes.

This child is named Precocious

Or Monster, Brat, or Heathen

This particular Scot lad

Was Christopher Stephenson.

Always with his fingers in the sauce

His feet would dance

Unfortunately one field trip from school

Cost him his pants.

He also lost his shirt and jacket

No shoes found on his feet

For Christopher was horsing round

The crags at Arthur’s Seat.

Like his brother years before him

Gravity showed Chris

The laws of physics yet unbroken

He fell down the abyss.

Don’t whimper cry or moan, young man

You kinda had this coming

Never list’ning as your teachers

Begged “Eyes open, danger’s looming!”

No matter your cause of death

We’re happy you are here

Your brother Ian needs a minion

He’s feeding off your fear.

As you will feed from next week’s dead

The energy abides

Until it is transferred to armies

Ruthless and unkind.

Our army grows voluminous

And structured every night

We’ll soon be prepped to take in

All the souls who’ve taken flight.

It’s quite a monumental task

Gathering up the lost

Administratively a mess

Traceability’s aghast.

We do our best to sort them out

But soon the plagues commence

We’re training new ranks thoroughly

War’s coming, no pretense.

So here’s your snack and here’s your drink

It’s transparent but familiar

OJ and saltine crackers

Brain tricks to ease your nerves.

Your mum will be here shortly

To fight beside her sons

Don’t worry, she’ll feel better

Once she’s arms’ reach of her loves.

Ian’s here to take you on

Tour of facilities

I have no doubt you’ll be impressed

With our capabilities.

You weren’t made of iron

Oh, Christopher the Scot

Soul’s energy in concentrated

While your body rots.

But that’s the way it works here

You’ll soon be comfortable

Bombastic, hyperactive

You’ve joined our Great Round Table.