The Sleeper Awakens – S.G. Gill

The Sleeper Awakens

Have you ever thought about what it would be like to be a cat? I mean really thought about it? I can tell you from personal experience that it is not all it is cracked up to be. Sleep, clean, eat, poop…sleep, clean, eat, poop. Chase something, sleep, clean, eat and, poop. Oh and the food is less than stellar to a palette like mine, though Azazel prefers the taste of fish every day. I would kill for a steak and a glass of wine…or an apple…anything besides fish.

Sadly though, at the moment, this is where we are. We’re in the body of a cat, stuck at a road side motel waiting for a new host. The owner seems like a nice sort of fellow to most. Innocuously polite. He blends into the scenery like a painting on the wall or the flies that lazily buzz against the screens. He is not all he seems, nor is this little stop-over for the weary. While he doesn’t get many passing through that are useful to my kind the ones that do stop are unusually powerful…they just don’t know it. But still we wait and have been waiting.

Waiting a very long time.

Day in and day out.

People come…and then they go.

But we’re still waiting.

Waiting for that special person. Waiting for the one that we can use to set me free.

We were lounging on the counter when you walked in. Tired and dirty. You looked liked something we dragged in to torture out of shear boredom. Oh, but the power in you! It rolled off in waves that nearly choked us. You didn’t know we were there, waiting. You were just looking for a place to crash and dream of drifting off never to return. You should have been more careful about what you wished for.

As you signed your name on the page with a wish in your heart the ink rippled and shimmered like the lights of the aura borealis. As the clerk looked you in the eye and handed you the key I saw the sparks in the otherworld and the invisible chains shackle your wrists as you calmly accepted your fate without a word of refute.

“You seem like you could use a bit of companionship,” he whispered and gestured to us as you patted our head. “And Azazel seems to like you. Feel free to take him to your room if you like. Just open the door if he starts to annoy you and he’ll come back up here to the desk.”

As you started to pull away with a no hesitating on your lips, we rose up on all fours and languidly stretched with fluid grace as you unconsciously patted our head–ultimately linking those chains that would bind you to us. Jumping down, we wound around your legs, purring and binding them even tighter. We knew you would not refuse as we bumped against you, pushing you towards the door out to the walkway to head to your room.

Like a parasite looking for a host to devour from the inside out, the anticipation of finally being free was nearly overwhelming. In this case though, patience is a virtue as we knew it would be several long hours before the transference would be complete and we were eager to begin. As the clouds slowly rolled in blocking out the sun, exhaustion began to slowly settle over you like a warm blanket. The sound of door lock tumblers falling into place as you turned the key ricocheted throughout the abyss as thunder. There are many rooms here, but this one is special. This one is where magic happens, where entities like myself can cross over and when we do the world is never the same.

Room #113 lures her in like a lover’s caress— a warm room, a soft bed. Her body grows heavy with sleep as she looks around the room. Crossing the threshold tightens the bindings and invisible hooks latch upon her soul while the wards fall into place as we cross over. There is no turning back now. She has looked upon the outside world for the last time.

Now she is in mine.

The voices whisper as the wind begins to howl but she is lost. Oblivious to what really surrounds her, an empty circle surrounded by the markers of the dead under a blood red sky with multiple moons. As she enters the circle of salt the wind speaks to the graves as pale blue smoke ignites the black pillars with pale blue flames. The air that surrounds us reeks of the scents of fermented juice, spoiled bread, and the clothes of the diseased. It is night and like a rat in a graveyard her mind jolts at the scents and wants to scurry off to the safety of a small burrow to be dry and warm. She sees flashes of her surroundings as her soul fights to remain bound to her corpse…the voices soothe her and reassure her that she is only dreaming and that soon she will be safe at rest.

The spell we have woven is almost complete as she kneels down. The razor she holds draws deaths attention like flies to a carcass. Slowly she cuts and as the blood wells up from her hand my spirit rises out and begins to fill the empty space she made by forcing her own soul to break free. As the drops fall from our hand, a scream from the abyss startles us, breaking the circle of salt. While a moon bleeds a candle falls. Black wax spills like blood as the shadows fill their clothes. I fight to repeat the incantation from the book of the dead, among the damned as the air grows thick making it hard to speak. In her mind I writhe in terror; silently reminding myself there is nothing to fear — though she is strong, I am stronger. As her soul struggles, it finally dawns in her there is something wrong, as with each straggled breath, her soul begins to burn. Unable to speak or move, she becomes the silent scream in my mind and then just as suddenly I am alive again, standing in an empty room in the middle of the day gasping for air. Azazel winds around my legs purring and chirps happily at my return. My mind is cluttered with molding decay of grotesque ghosts whose ashes have made their wings to heavy to fly. I inhale deeply reviling in the fresh clean air that no longer reeks of the scents of mold, graveyard dust and fish. My name is Tamsin Blythe and as I walk out the door with my familiar at my side the lighting cracks and the earth quivers as soon there will be hell for every living creature to pay for my time spent on earth.

*****

S. D. Gill is a student of forensic anthropology who decide to dip her quill into the proverbial ink well and see what might slither out onto the page. She enjoys tea, reading and posting ridiculous amounts of lolcats online. Zomsquinjas (zombie squirrel ninjas) are also her furry minions of doom. YES, DOOM! She is in the process of relocating to Georgia and attending graduate school.

Harvest Moon – Alia Gonzales

Harvest Moon2

“What in the hell!” Arynn screamed as she realized her footing was gone. Of course it had to be now. The first time she and George were on vacation in the last 20 years and now she’s going to get hurt. The fall to the cold tile seemed to take minutes and she could hear the sickening thunk as her head hit the tile.

With blurred vision Arynn opened her eyes to see she was lying in the bathroom, a small puddle of blood leaked beneath her and her head was throbbing. The only saving grace in all of this was that George would be here soon. In just a few minutes he would be back from getting the ice for their romantic bottle of wine and she’d be able to curl up in bed with him.

And what if he doesn’t come, Arynn?

Arynn held back a scream as she realized she didn’t know where that thought was coming from, as it couldn’t be her own. She never thought that way. All her life, she’d been such a positive spirit, ready to accept that only good things and clear things happened in life. The only clear thing in her life other than the glaring florescent lighting was the bright moon staring at her. Even through the frosted bathroom mirrors the moon shone as brightly as ever, taunting her with its beauty. Almost as if it were human… She took another glance at the moon shining through the window. It couldn’t be…

How do you like it down there Arynn? You’re stuck, you know. Stuck here with me.

“No. I’m fine. Just you watch. Everything is going to be just fine,” Arynn didn’t have to be a genius to know that it was going to be hell to try to get up from here. She couldn’t even move her legs. She felt like such a crazy person talking out into the darkness, but in her gut she knew it would be just a few seconds until George came back. He had to be. She paused to look for her phone. She spotted it sitting across the room blasting music for her to sing and dance to as she took a nice warm shower. Arynn started to think. Maybe it would be worth it to drag herself across the floor to it. At least then she could call George, and see what was taking him so damn long to come back. The ice dispenser was just down the hall wasn’t it? He had to have gotten distracted somewhere. This whole vacation was about getting close again after the kids finally left for college. The house was theirs and that meant it was time to celebrate.

Searing pain blasted through Arynn as she tried to life herself enough to crawl to the phone. It didn’t feel like anything was broken yet there was no way she’d make it across that tile floor. Not only did she feel sore and bruised from the fall, the cold of the tile was finally starting to kick in. This vacation was anything but relaxing; all she wanted to see was her loving husband come through that door.

He’s still not here Arynn. You’re mine now.

“NO!” Arynn screamed into the bathroom. The voice in her head was driving her crazy.

Don’t worry Arynn. We’re going to have a lot of fun together. You and I until you draw you last breath. Arynn…

“Arynn… Arynn!”

Finally Arynn opened her eyes to see a blurry image of George standing over her. “Go figure. You dumb bitch. Take you on vacation and you ruin it. Always has to be all about you doesn’t it. Spend twenty years by your side, and just once it can’t be a relaxing weekend. Of course not. Go to sleep, I’ve got shit to do.”

Arynn’s eyes grew wide as she looked up into the huge black boot headed straight for her face. This couldn’t be George. Not her George.

Well, well, well, Arynn. Aren’t you glad your beloved George came back to you? You should be much more careful what you wish for.

“Arynn…Arynn…Can you hear me?”

Arynn shrieked as she rolled into something cold and hard. “Arynn, are you with us?” It was George’s voice. What could he possibly want now, after what he’d done? It was amazing the sensation she could feel in her legs. It hadn’t been there all night and the room was warmer.

She opened her eyes for the first time since George had knocked her unconscious. She was in a hospital room, and there, next to her was her loving George. The adoring look of concern on his face was nothing like the man who hurt her just moments before. Just behind George Arynn could see the hospital window perfectly framing the harvest moon. “You scared us all Arynn. You’ve been out for hours. How are you feeling?”

“Get away from me you freak! I can’t believe you hurt me!” Arynn yelled at a dumbfounded George. She could feel the moon beaming down on her, watching her every moment.

I told you you’re mine. You might be awake, but you’re mine. You belong to the moon now Arynn and we’re going to have some fun.

 *****

Alia is a new writer just getting her feet wet. When she’s not writing she likes to spend time with her small family in Denver and working on crafts and learning to cook. She also spends far too much time with her nose stuck in a book. Also, feel free to visit her facebook stalker page! http://www.facebook.com/aliagonzalesauthor

Crash And Burn – Austin Malone

crash and burn

Kristoff awoke in darkness. He was upright, bound tightly across chest and waist, with his head engulfed in some sort of rough fabric. With a violent start, he flailed at his restraints, and the oppressive material fell away from his face. His first gasp of air ended with a retching cough as the overpowering stench of gasoline filled his mouth. His eyes adjusted, and as his vision returned, so did his memory.

He was in the car. Martin had been driving. A quick glance at Martin’s limp form, then down at the man’s blood-streaked pants leg confirmed Kristoff’s earlier suspicion that Martin had been hit. What should’ve been a textbook holdup had gone epically FUBAR and now here he was, up shit creek, with his paddle smashed into twisted scrap against the trunk of a massive tree.

An orange flicker from between the creases of the crumpled hood caught his attention. He jabbed his thumb with enough force to dislocate it against the belt’s release button. It didn’t disengage. Kristoff swore and pressed harder, sublimating the shooting pain in his thumb with thoughts of being roasted alive. It gave way under his renewed assault with a click. The straps slithered away, hissing like snakes as they went, and Kristoff felt suddenly weightless. He bent to scoop up the satchel from the floorboards, and barreled shoulder first through the partially opened passenger door into the night.

He was about fifty yards away when the car went up in flames. Kristoff broke into a trot down the highway. He had to get out of there. If the cops weren’t already on the way from the liquor store fiasco, they’d definitely get called in to investigate a burning car with a charred corpse behind the wheel. He glanced at the marsh to his right. Out of the question. He wouldn’t make two miles over that terrain before the cops and their bloodhounds were on his heels. His only chance was to hitch a ride and get the hell out of there.

Slinging the satchel across his back, he started to jog. He’d gone a little over a mile when he saw the light ahead. A single headlamp crested the invisible horizon, growing brighter as it bore down on Kristoff. A moment later he heard the buzz of its engine. The pitch was too high for a car. For that matter, it didn’t sound like a cop’s bike either. He formed a mental image of a bored hillbilly teenager tearing around on a Kawasaki crotchrocket.

“Let’s go, Bubba-Joe,” he said as he stepped into the motorcycle’s path. “Gimme my ticket to ride.”

It was upon him sooner than he expected. Panicked, he waved his arms and yelled. The driver pulled the bike into a sharp turn, and between one heartbeat and the next, the bike had deftly cut around Kristoff to disappear behind him.

Kristoff ground his teeth and cursed. Unclenching his fists, he willed himself to relax. After a slow count of ten, he was jogging down the breakdown lane again. Within a couple of minutes, he heard the drone of the motorcycle behind him, returning. He stopped and turned to face the biker.

The motorcycle pulled up alongside him, and Kristoff noted with surprise that the driver was female. Clad in black leather that hugged her curves with an intimacy he envied, she peered at him with wide eyes through the sable curtain of her hair.

“Is that your car back there?” she asked.

He nodded. “Yup. Don’t suppose you’d mind giving me a lift to the next town over, huh?”

She shook her head. “The next town over is eighty miles away,” she said. “You’d be better off going back the way you came.”

“Can’t do that,” he said. “I just got back from overseas. Got an uncle offering me a job and a place to stay. I was just passing through that last place. Stopped to get a beer, and some of the locals started giving me a hard time.” He waved a hand at his fatigues.

She arched an eyebrow. “And?”

“And I took them outside and gave ‘em a hard time right back.” He grinned.

“So, you’re thinking they might be holding a grudge, and keeping an eye out for you,” she said.

“Definitely.”

After a minute’s consideration, she patted the seat behind her. “Come on,” she said. “I can’t take you all the way, but I know a place a few miles down the road where you can rest up for the night. I’m Morgan, by the way.”

“Pleased to meet you,” he said as he took her hand and climbed onto the bike behind her.

“Hang on tight,” she said, and with that, they were off.

With his arms around her midsection and his face buried between her shoulder blades, Kristoff had no way of knowing how far or fast they were traveling. At some point, the exhilaration of the ride gave way to something more primal. He became aware of the soft heat of her body as he pressed against it. The scent of her hair in his face was musky, like incense, and his heartbeat quickened. Slowly, he inched his hands up from her waist, feeling the smooth leather slide under his palms as they caressed her flat stomach, and moved higher still. He was pleasantly surprised when he encountered the soft swell of her breasts unhindered by underwire. His fingers traced circles around her nipples. He could feel them, hard even through the leather.

Morgan downshifted then, and the bike slowed.

“Shit,” he muttered. “I’m sorry, miss. It’s just been a while, and…”

She laughed. “Don’t apologize. I’m not kicking you off. We’re almost there.”

He raised his head to look over her shoulder as she piloted the motorcycle off of the highway. He didn’t see a marker for the road, and from what little he could see of the hard-packed dirt trail, calling it a road may have been generous. Before long, their destination came into view. A neon vacancy sign flickered below a larger sign that simply read: “Hotel.” The building itself was a shapeless mass of darkness that lurked behind the sign.

Morgan parked the bike in the hotel’s empty lot, and they dismounted.

“Is this place even open?” Kristoff asked.

Morgan grabbed his hand and hauled him toward the entrance. “Come on, lover,” she said with a laugh. “Let’s get you tucked in for the night.”

Kristoff didn’t get much of a chance to inspect his surroundings as they entered the lobby. Morgan hustled him past the desk where a bored-looking young man glanced up from a ragged novel just long enough to toss a plastic-fobbed key onto the countertop. She scooped it up as they passed, and led Kristoff down a dimly-lit hallway. Morgan paused at the door to unlock it before sweeping it open with a flourish.

“Ta-daa,” she sang.

Kristoff entered the room and barked a laugh. The chamber was dominated by a sagging heart-shaped bed the color of dried blood. His eyes tracked upward and saw a soot-stained mirror on the ceiling above. Curious.

Morgan eased the door shut and snaked around in front of Kristoff. With a coy glance over her shoulder, she gave his belt a tug, loosening it, before slinking away to perch on the edge of the bed.

“Well, loverboy,” she purred. “Let’s see if we can pick up where we left off. Show me what those busy little hands of yours can do.”

Kristoff crossed the room in two paces, hands outstretched. He stopped just short of touching her, though. Something was wrong. He peered at his hands. They looked different. As he watched, his flesh darkened, and his skin rippled as though his blood was bubbling beneath its surface. With that came an intense itching, followed immediately by a bone-deep ache, as his flesh blistered and began to peel.

Morgan giggled.

“What?” he gasped, and that was all he could manage before searing pain exploded across his entire body. He tried to scream, but was unable to produce more than a quavering whimper. He sank to the floor, curling in on himself as his skin ruptured and sloughed off in tarry chunks.

“There are two things I should have told you, lover,” Morgan’s voice lilted. “First thing: you didn’t escape the fire.”

Kristoff writhed and mewled like an injured animal. There was no escape from the pain, no portion of his body that wasn’t a nexus point for currents of agony. He could hear her laughing at his pain. Worse were the voices of the others, tittering and giggling, muttering and whispering. They crashed against his frayed nerve endings like a jagged wave.

“Tell him,” they cackled. “Make him understand.”

“The second thing, darling,” she said, her voice dropping to a violent hiss. “You didn’t. Escape. The Fire.”

*****

Austin Malone is a writer of short fiction who resides in Texas with his wife, daughter, and an indeterminate number of cats. His work has previously appeared in Bloody Parchment (Vol. 2), A Fancy Dinner Party, and Penny Dreadfuls: Halloween Special. He neither blogs nor tweets, but invites readers to check out his goodreads page to find out more about his work.

Blood Martini – Jennifer Walkup

Blood Martini

I wonder often if the hotel will stop breathing. I wait for it, most days, like you wait for all unfortunate, yet inevitable things. Like death.

It’s in the walls, it is, and days like this last Friday of autumn, I swear it’ll drive me absolutely crazy. I walk down to the lobby bar, letting my fingers trail the beige wainscoting in the hall. Even though my senses have dulled in my old age, the dust that permeates the place tickles my nose and throat.

“Martini,” I say to J.D., the young bartender who is nice enough but reminds me too much of the person I’ve spent a lifetime trying to forget.

He smiles his gap toothed and knowing smile. “Rough day, eh?”

I shake my head slowly. Not rough exactly. Just don’t care for my room on days when the place feels this way. I can’t stand the thought of my gold brocade curtains and the huge and empty king sized bed and oversized room. It’s filled with shadows, like the ones that have crouched close by nearly my whole life.

I rarely let myself think about Kurt, but I can’t help it now, remembering the whisper of his fingers on my shoulders, his gentle nature. I swallow the heap of a lump in my throat.

J.D’s eyes narrow. “You okay?”

“I am. I think.”

His gaze stays on my lips as the words slowly leave them. Wetness dribbles on my mouth and I grab a napkin as J.D. turns.

“Olive?” he asks as he grabs a glass to make my drink.

“Please,” I say, wiping at my lips. Blood? Blood! I soak through the napkin and then another, feeling something rolling on my tongue.

I spit into the napkin and two teeth tumble out.

Not now. This can’t be.

It’s been ages. Too long for this.

“I think I’ll take that drink in my room,” I say, trying to keep my voice balanced while I turn away. My breath is ragged in my chest, my lungs battling between full collapse and bursting. “Can you send it up?”

“Sure, of course. You’re in room…

“201.”

“Right. Will be right up.”

In the elevator, I ball the napkins against my mouth as my lungs keep doing that should-we-keep-going battle. I close my eyes with my back to the mirrored wall as the elevator begins its ascent, the dusty old car clanking its way slowly upward, as always. I feel the blood seeping into the napkins and my all too familiar panic begins to swell.

The elevator finally stops at my floor and I tap my foot relentlessly as I wait for it to squeal open. I walk double-time down the hall. My lungs rattle as I search for my key in my bag.

I’ve spent my whole life scared. Reliving the worst of it. But why tonight? I squeeze the napkin in my hand, the teeth inside hard and real inside it. This is not a hallucination.

I’m surprised by the tray next to my door with the double martini sitting there. How in the world did J.D. get up here faster than me? I stop digging for my key and bend to pick up the glass. I take two large gulps with my eyes closed, loving how the warmth slides down my throat and into my belly. My pulse slows to a trot. I try to ignore the ring of blood I’ve left on the edge of my glass and the tooth floating next to my olive in my martini. I finally dig my key from the bottom of my purse and with fumbling fingers and slide it into the lock. I have to jiggle the knob in that special way I’ve learned before the door finally swings open. I take another swig before stepping into my dark room. Weird, because I swore I left the side lamp on. My brain certainly isn’t as sharp as it used to be. I drain the rest of the martini, wondering if I could possibly get another. I never, ever have more than one, but today is… different.

“It sure is,” a voice says from somewhere in the dark.

My back scrapes against the dresser when I jump back. I turn toward the door too late. It’s already closed, the little bit of light from the hallway gone.

“Don’t be scared.”

The voice. It’s familiar, maybe?

But no. It can’t be. The hair on the back of my neck rises. It’s just because he’s been on my mind.

“Kurt?” I barely let the name out of my mouth, because it can’t be. Can it? It’s been…

“Decades, darling, decades.”

The only sound in the room is the sharp intake of breath. How is he doing that? He did it before, when I first walked in. Is he reading my…

“Stop.” He says softly. “Stop overanalyzing.”

“But I didn’t say anything. I was just thinking-”

“Listen,” he moves closer. “We don’t have much time.”

“What do you mean?” My whisper sounds different than my normal voice. Younger. It’s as if I’m suddenly the age I was when I met Kurt. God, high school. I brush my hair back from my face, surprised to find it wispy and long. “What’s going on?” I ask in a ten-on-the-richter-scale voice.

My mind flashes as I hear him cross the room. I feel suddenly young and without the cynicism that’s leaked into me over time. Without all the fear knowing him all those years ago clamped over the rest of life, like a suffocating blanket that never let the light in. That horrible fear.

I grip the dresser behind me, my chin falling to my chest. Breathing isn’t easy as I remember. All that blood.

His footfalls falter. “Shhhh,” he says. “Just clear your mind. This will be easier that way.”

I wrap my arms around my middle, feeling for the bruises on my ribs and arms, as if it happened yesterday.

“That night.” The words sail out of me, on a barely-there breath. “That fight.” I whimper, remembering the way I was beaten, broken ribs, teeth knocked out. The way Kurt was… well…

Oh God…

“Shhhh,” he says against my lips. I touch his hair. It’s long, like it always was. He smells the same too, that soap his mother always had, and cigarette smoke.

“You’ve been dead,” I say. “For a long time. I tried to forget that night. Always tried. But I never did because I always waited and now…”

His lips find mine and I’m transported. Across decades and state lines to a time and place where nothing bad had happened yet.

“What did you wait for?” He asks in a husky voice, his hands tangling in my suddenly long hair. Tears course down my cheeks.

“This!” I say, because it’s true. Many mourn first love lost, but when your first love is killed and the blood has stained deep into your skin, you don’t very well get over it. No, you spend a lifetime mourning, looking over your shoulder for violence that you hope will not return. Holding Kurt now is something. Like a drink of cool water after a desert lifetime.

“I love you,” he says with his forehead pressed to mine. I reach up and touch his face like a blind woman reaching in the dark. Every feature as I remember. Every contour. “Always have and always will.”

My breath falls out through my feet, through the floor and down down down, away from me. My tears are close behind.

Why and how is this happening? My hands shake against his chest with my impossible fantasy come true.

“That man,” I say, remembering the way I had stumbled over Kurt’s body when I left to find help. “The one who robbed us that night.”

“That man?” Kurt’s voice sounds strange. “That man?”

“He was the devil himself.”

Sudden lights from the alley brighten my room in blues and reds. Police?

The face in front of me isn’t Kurt. It’s him. It’s the devil himself. Sneering at me all these years later. My blood turns ice and I stumble backward, tripping over the bed’s corner and onto the floor.

“The devil himself?” He says. “That the best you can do?”

Rubbing my temples, I run my fingers through my short and spiky hair. The room tilts, the whole earth seeming to spin on its axis. Where is Kurt?

The truth punches me. He’s gone. Of course he’s gone. After I waited my whole damn life.

I must be going crazy.

“Not crazy,” the man says. My heart thunders as I bite on my already bloody lip, my eyes darting all over the dark room. There’s no way I can look into the face of my nightmare. I crawl backwards, but he leans and grabs me roughly by the elbow. “But you’re going somewhere.” The room lights up then – red then white then black again. He pushes me toward the window.

“Jump,” he hisses in my ear.

“Are you crazy?” I’m frantic now. This can’t be it. Can’t be! “I’ll die!” I remember the way he hit me that night, the way he twisted his hands at Kurt’s throat before taking that knife out.

Yet he hasn’t aged a bit. Or changed, it seems. I remember this pumping fear and hanging onto the excruciating edge of life that I didn’t want to leave.

He laughs in my ear, a wet and gargling sound. “The time is here. This time.”

So many things are different and so many the same.

I still don’t want to leave.

*****

When Jennifer Walkup isn’t writing or reading, she’s spending time with her husband and young sons, listening to Red Hot Chili Peppers, and coming up with costume ideas for Halloween. She’s obsessed with good coffee and new recipes and likes broccoli on her pizza, flowers in her hair, flip-flops on her feet, and the number 13. A member of SCBWI and RWA, Jennifer also serves as fiction editor for The Meadowland Review and teaches creative writing at The Writers Circle. Her first novel, SECOND VERSE, was released in 2013. Check out her website at http://www.jenniferwalkup.com/

Good Night, Sleep Tight – Mikey Hope

Good Night

Man! I’m itchin’ like crazy and this rat-hole is runnin’ out of toilet paper. I musta bout used it all up makin’ these little squares. Dang, my arms look like hell, with all these red spots holdin’ the paper on ‘em. Makes ‘em look like Daddy’s face when he shaves, or like my legs when I started learnin’ how. This ugly vanity light ain’t helpin’ any either. Looks like I got some places on my legs too, dang. What the hell is wrong with me? I can’t even remember when these spots started poppin’ up, but they’re all over me now — arms, legs, boobs…everywhere. What if I’m sick? Like, really sick with somethin’ bad? I’ll have to go to the doctor after I find Momma. Momma would want me to anyway.

Ain’t there no ashtray in this place? Guess I’ll just use the sink. There, had it ’bout down to the filter anyway. At least the boy at the desk let me bum one off him, whatever his name was. Whew…let me just lay down for a minute and think. Guess I can lay over the bedspread on the end of the bed here and keep the blood off the sheets. Like that piece-a-shit bedspread has even been washed. God knows what’s on it. Oh…feels good to lay down in just my undies, I’m sure the maid won’t mind I wadded my clothes up in the floor. Where did I put that business card? Oh right, on the nightstand. That lamp is god-awful, just like everything else in here. Where’d they get all this stuff, Goodwill?  I wonder if Daddy knows his gun is gone yet? He prob’ly thinks Momma took it when she run off with that new man of hers. He wouldn’t ever think I’d take it. Prob’ly never. Well, anyway when Momma and that man get here, that ain’t all that’s gonna be gone. She shoulda known better than to leave that card in her purse for me to find. She knows I swipe her smokes. They even wrote the room number on it. Piece of luck this room butts right up to it. They’ll be here soon, they gotta be. Hope I loaded this thing right.

God, I’m so beat. That window unit is purrin’ me to sleep. Don’t wanna sleep through Momma gettin’ here. Don’t want any more of those dreams. Can’t believe how crazy, those messed up…dreams. Crazy…Momma…

Momma. Momma! Where are you?!

Girl, I told you not to follow after me. You don’t listen. You never did listen.

Momma, where are you?! I can hear you but I can’t find you! It’s so dark here!

I didn’t want you to find me. Tried to tell you not to follow after me. You think I wanted you here?

Momma why’d you leave Daddy?! He needs you! We – I need you!

A dog needs his bone too, till he gets tired of it. Buries it in the backyard. Forgets about it. I told you not to follow me. I wanted better for you. You get some rest now, rest while you can, baby. Go on now, just like when you was a little girl.

Momma…need…Mumma…

Good night…sleep tight…

Don’…letta…beh bug…

Momma!
Oh…fell asleep. It’s so cold in here…freezin’. Where’s my shirt? Oh, yeah, the floor. Shit! Look at my arms. My chest! Oh no, oh no, where are these comin’ from? Oh Jesus, what is wrong with me?! Maybe I got the hives or somethin’? Maybe I’m allergic to that nasty bedspread. I don’t care if I do bleed on them sheets, I can’t sleep on top of the covers, I’ll be froze to death. I’ll just…put my shirt and britches on. Let them soak up the blood spots, at least I’ll be warm. Momma will be here soon. Just tired. So tired, gotta lay down. Momma’ll be here soon…
Ha, ha! That tickles! Stop ticklin’ me! Ow! What the? Quit bitin’ me! I’ll tell Momma on you! OW! Son-of-a-bitch! Get off of me! What are you…what…are you?

I told you not to follow after me.

Momma! Somethin’s bitin’ me! What are these things? Look at ‘em! Look at ‘em up close…See! Look there! Just like a little bitty…man! A little man with a bloody mouth! He looks just like your boyfriend! Ow! He bit me! He did it again! Ow! OW! Momma, it hurts make him stop! Make them stop! There’s…more of them…men, women…that one looks like you! There’s lots more! Oh my god, there’s little people crawlin’ all over me! They’re bitin’! It hurts! Momma!! Momma where are you?! What’s that moanin’, Momma? I hear you moanin’! Gotta wake up! Please wake UP! WAKE UP!!

Uh! Oh my god! Oh! Look at all the blood! Soaked right through my shirt, soaked the sheets! Oh the sheets are rurnt…Ow! Sore…somethin’…bit me. Oh shit. Somethin’ bit me all over! I ain’t allergic to nothin,’ somethin’s been bitin’ me this whole time while I been sleepin’! Oh my god this place has bugs. I knew it! I bet there’s some in the bed right now, some up under this mattress…lemme…just…pull it back…Yeah, prob’ly some right up in the corner here…need more light, c’mere ugly-ass lamp…yeah…there’s dried up blood all along the seams on the matt– wait. Oh, ew! No, no, no! It just crawled right out of there! Shit, pulled the plug out of the wall! Where’d it go? Gotta get my shoes, where my shoes at? Ugh! Shower. Get me to the shower! Get these bloody clothes off – gotta get the bugs off…C’mon, c’mon, heat up! There we go…Oh, damn that’s gonna make ‘em bleed worse. Holy shit, look at the size of these sores! Those things musta bit a plug outta me. Oh, they itch! Dammit!

Wait a minute. That didn’t look like no bug on the mattress. That looked like… No, that’s crazy. You’re goin’ crazy, girl. Two or three nights of bad sleep and you done lost your mind. But it wasn’t….a bug. You know what you seen…You know what you seen. Oh God, what if there are more of them? How many more of them are they?!

What was…sound like someone moanin’? Where is that comin’ from? The room next door? Sounded like Momma! I bet she’s in there with that man-whore of hers!

Oh wait, I can’t run outside, someone will see me like this…Wait, I think -yeah! This door here without a knob goes to their room… Dammit locked! Let me in! You hear me?! Momma, I know you’re in there! Open the door! I’ve got a gun! Open this door or I’m shootin’ the lock off! Momma?! Alright, I warned you…Shit! Left the safety on. Okay, now – Ah! Loud! Gotta keep at it! Momma?! I’m comin’ in there, Momma! Ah! Ah! One! More! Shot! There we go, now… gotta shove it hard – HUNH!

Oh, shit, my shoulder…worked though. Told you I’d…shoot the lock…turn on the lights you floozy! I know what you’re doin’ in here, I can smell – uh, smell…oh God, what is that? Smells like iron in here. Sounds like moanin’ again. Momma stop that moanin’! Stop it you two! Can’t you stop it for one second, I’m right here, don’t you smell that? Don’t you hear that? That scratchin’ and scribblin’ like little buh-bugs…Ah! Momma is that your hand!  It’s bloody! Oh god, I stepped on– Momma! Momma is that you?! They’re everywhere. Momma, we have to get out of here! Momma please stop that moanin’, where is he? Where’s your man? Is that him?! I’ll stop that moanin’… Ah! There! I saw in the flash –they were all over him! Uh! Uh! N-no! Outta bullets! He was still twitchin’! Momma we have to g-UH! Tripped! Oh! My leg! Sorry, Momma, I didn’t mean to step on your – ow! Ow! Oh no, they’re crawlin’ on me, they’re on me! Get them off! Let’s see how you like my nails you little shits! Got you! Where’s the light? Uh! There! Oh…God…

There’s blood everywhere…Oh no…I can see your…insides…the little people…Little men on you. Little men…in you. Oh! The floor is crawlin’ with them! So many…they’re all over me…they’re gettin’ inside me!

Ah!

Momma, they’re eatin’ into me! Can’t get ‘em off. Help me, Momma!

Momma!

Ah! AH!

Told you not to follow after me, girl. Never. Listen…Sleep tight…

*****

Mikey Hope has lived in and around Atlanta, Georgia for many years, whilst waiting for the rest of his clones to be activated so that each can fully pursue one of his interests, which include writing genre fiction, tabletop RPG gaming, creating digital art, teaching and performing massage, and making music.

 While his writing has largely been confined to in-game settings and world-building thus far, he hopes to inflict it upon an unsuspecting public, starting with his contribution to 13 Stories Til Halloween 2013, which seems a fitting numbered year to execute his nefarious plan.
His artwork can be seen at the Dragon*Con art show Labor Day weekends in Atlanta, REV Coffee Fall Festival in Smyrna, and at his DeviantART page: http://preternatch.deviantart.com/

The White Witch – Katie Barber

The White Witch

“I’m not going to make it to my meeting, am I?” Ian asked his assistant as she came out of the gas station’s convenience store with a bag of gummy eyeballs in hand. The actor was staring at their car, a burgundy, sub-compact rental piece of crap, as it sat parked with its hood open and the engine steaming.

The tearing of plastic drew his attention. Ian turned to Sarah, who had removed two of the treats from the bag and placed them up to her own eyes. She looked like her eyes had popped out of her head.  She squished them between her fingers in a mocking way.

“This is a casting you just aren’t going to make, boss,” she giggled, but let her arms drop with the candy in hand, when Ian continued to frown at her. “Not even a crack of a smile, huh?”

“This role would be an opportunity of a lifetime,” he said, looking longingly down the road, where the town he needed to reach was still fifty miles away. It was ten o’clock at night and thunder boomed in the distance, lightning streaking across the night sky in the fields beyond.

Ian’s agent came around the edge of the car with an oily rag in hand and splotches of black on her pink “I love you, Mommy” tee her daughter made for her at school. Crap, Ian thought, it was a garment with sentimental value that he could not replace. Sarah popped the eyeballs in her mouth, chewing contently, unaffected in the least by their bad luck.  Luckily, Jen was a mechanic before she had gotten into entertainment.

“We blew a gasket. Coolant leaked everywhere, and the engine won’t turn over when I try and start it,” Jen said with an even deeper frown than her client’s on her face. “Sorry Ian.  We’ll be lucky finding a place to sleep tonight, much less make your casting meeting tomorrow.  Our best bet is to sleep in the car and call a wrecker in the morning.”

Ian sighed heavily, looking into the gloom surrounding the rusty old gas station in the middle of nowhere.  No houses, no lights, there was just emptiness as far as the eye could see. He dropped his head in defeat.

The throaty purr of a motorcycle reached their ears before its lights appeared on the horizon. Sarah smacked Ian on the shoulder, leaving sticky fingerprints in its wake on his white V-neck t-shirt.  He glared at her, while lightly touching the nasty mix of saliva and candy with his fingertips.

Really?”  Ian asked incredulously, looking from his sticky fingers to his assistant.

“Oh, I’m sorry boss. Did your skinny jeans get all in a twist?” Sarah replied, making a pouty face at Ian. “Anyway,” she continued, pointing at the pearl-colored motorcycle as it pulled into the gas station. “There’s your ride.”

Ian watched the motorcyclist, a slender female in a white, leather riding getup that matched her bike.  She got off her bike, and then with a key turn popped up seat and the front trunk on the Can-Am Spyder to get at her wallet. The woman casually regarded them, as she swiped her credit card, started fueling her bike, and put her wallet away.  When she turned and bent over to put the nozzle in under the bike’s seat, the tip of a black holstered handgun peeked out under her jacket on her belt.

“I am off to get you that ride, boss,” Sarah said and walked over to the stranger. Ian and Jen rolled their eyes at his assistant, who was now talking to the biker chick.

“She isn’t, is she?” Ian asked Jen.

“Oh, I think she is…” Jen grinned. “If she is willing, you could go on alone.” Ian stared shocked at Jen, who simply shrugged. “Like you said, this is role would be an opportunity of a lifetime. If you don’t show, they will find someone else. Have you even been on a motorcycle before?”

“No,” he said blandly.

“Well, she looks nice enough,” Jen replied.

“More like a stormtrooper…” Ian added before his agent shushed him.

Sarah approached with the stranger in tow, after she had finished gassing up.

“She’ll take you,” Jen stated and opened the trunk of the car, pulling out Ian’s suitcase.  Ian’s heart began to pound, as he stood befuddled before the biker.  The woman had a spare, black full helmet in her hand and offered it to Ian.  Sarah put his suitcase in the front trunk of the bike.

“I’m Katherine,” she said in a pleasant voice.  “Let’s see how many miles we can go before the rain starts, shall we?”  She asked him.  He took the helmet.

The rain was pouring in sheets now. The sky threatened to crash down with every boom of thunder, and his biker savior had had no choice but to stop. Katherine returned from the front desk with a vintage key to the last available room in a roadside motel, where they stopped. They went into the room with Ian’s suitcase and one of Katherine’s saddlebags. His rescuer decided to rinse the road dirt off with a quick shower.

His first motorcycle ride had been heart-pounding and later exhilarating, but now Ian just was just tired from the tribulations of the day. Hearing the shower going and deeming it safe to disrobe, he kicked off his shoes, slid into his green, plaid flannel pajama pants, and lay on the bed… away from the orange Cheetos stain on the comforter that was left by the room’s previous occupants.  Eww, he thought and closed his eyes.

“I’ve waited a long time to be alone in a room with a sexy actor,” Ian heard a woman say.  He opened his eyes to see Katherine sitting on the bed next to him, wearing just a towel, and running her freezing fingers along the toned lines of his bare chest.  He must have nodded off; he felt her weight on the mattress as she sat down.  Also, her hands are really cold!  He thought.

“Are you okay?” he asked nervously and sat up, pulling away from Katherine. “Can I get you a blanket or something?”

The bathroom door opened and Katherine walked out with a white towel tied around her body.

“Who are you talking to?” she asked. Ian did a double take from Katherine in the doorway to… the empty spot on the bed.

“Uh, what the…” Ian said, his heart thumping in panic.  Katherine reacted immediately, lunging to the foot of the bed where her things were and drew her gun. She thumbed off the safety and scanned the room for an intruder.

A flake of snow fell onto Ian’s stomach, its coolness just as real the other Katherine’s touch. The biker chick took one hand off her gun and held it out, catching a snowflake in her palm. They looked bewilderingly at each other, and then at the snow as more began to fall.

The room fell away to an ice-covered pond, surrounded by trees heavy with powdery snow.  Because of the position Ian had been propped up on the bed, his feet went out from under him, his butt landing hard as he fell to the ice.

The pond cracked, where he fell, and a white hand broke through the surface of the ice from below. It grabbed Ian’s ankle and was trying to pull him under. Katherine stepped closer and fired two rounds from her gun into the hand, which disappeared under the ice, and a high pitched scream came from the hole. The danger gone for the moment, she extended a hand to Ian and helped him up.  They were both shivering and held onto each other, Katherine’s arm sliding from under his armpit to around his waist.  She held her gun close in her other hand, still aiming it at the hole where the hand had emerged.

The water swirled under the ice. Ian swiped some snow away from the surface with afoot, as if it were fog on a steamed up mirror, trying to get a better look at what lurked below. Dark strands of hair appeared in the water and then a hand pressed upwards right under the ice. There was a squeaking sound like bare fingers sliding on a glass window, as it moved to the cracked hole in the pond. From its depths the face of a frozen woman appeared, her opalescent eyes glazed over and tinged in blue. Katherine dropped her hand from around Ian, taking aim at the woman with two hands on the gun, as a corpse climbed out the lake.  At one time, she had worn a white nightgown, but it was now dirty, tattered and wetly clung onto her emaciated carcass.

“Oh, hell no!” Katherine said and unloaded the rest of the magazine into the thing, walking towards them.  Shots clearly showed in its head and chest, but she kept walking forward.  The corpse drew a deep breath, its tornado-like strength pulling the snow at their feet into her mouth, and its intensity increasing with frightening power. Katherine’s gun, extended between her two hands, was sucked away and then filaments of white began to rise from her skin.

Katherine turned her head to Ian, her eyes scared and a warning on her blue lips, and then her body dissolved into dust and was sucked in as well. The creature’s mouth closed, as she swallowed Katherine, her head lowering to her chest. A pulse of light momentarily obscured its face. A mini cyclone swirled around its body as it looked up, locking eyes with Ian..

Standing in front of him was Katherine, again in her white bath towel, and her auburn locks wet against her bare shoulders.  She had a sultry smile on her lips and put a hand on her hip.

“I’ve waited a long time to be alone in a room with a sexy actor,” she drawled. She closed the distance between them in two quick steps, kissing him lightly on the lips. Ian felt the skin of his face began to freeze, starting with his lips, and her kiss became more forceful, as her tongue pressed into his mouth.  The kiss tasted like someone had shoved maggots in his mouth.  He opened his eyes wide in his fear, and then they too froze, perfectly preserving his terror.

She wrapped her arms around him in a tight embrace, while waiting for his whole body to turn as solid as the iced pond at their feet. The thing finally stepped back, admiring her handiwork. The sound of cracking ice filled the air, as the pond groaned under his frozen increased mass.

Ian fell through the ice with a splash.  With his darkening vision, he saw her dive in after him, her dark hair fanning out as she took long strokes with her arms, following him down into the darkness.

*****

Mother, homemaker, ordained Wiccan priestess, writer, MMA enthusiast, and budding motorcyclist, Katie also enjoys the boring things taken for granted like spending time with family and going to movies. She was born in Atlanta, GA, got her BA in English: Creative Writing from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She currently resides with her husband, two children, and four rescue cats in Roswell, GA. Katie also co-writes with her husband, Jay Barber. Their pen name is J. K. Barber and have written an epic fantasy trilogy entitled, Chronicles of Aronshae.

For more information, please visit their website at www.jkbarber.com. You can also find them on Facebook, and on Twitter @0jkbarber0

Hell Hound – Becky Brewster Sain

HellHound

She looked down from the hill, her hair matted with the stench of several days worth of deaths, her skin pale and translucent, the straps from her backpack cutting deeper into her skin with each subtle movement she made, making a vile concoction of sweat and blood that would not stop dripping down her arms – unable to remove her backpack, glued to her skin in some demonic prank. She had been circling the hotel for what seemed like days, but time didn’t really exist anymore. She would have to go in eventually, what waited for her inside must be far worse than a mixed up time space hell continuum and a demonized backpack – what waited for her inside was her best friend, the only living thing to love her unconditionally, the dog that did whatever she commanded… which was usually, “Kill”.

She could see a man near the front door of the hotel, she knew it was her turn, her time, her reservation was ready. Her backpack guided her down the overgrown path, through every thorny bush and broken branch, until she walked up to the front door. The door opened quickly and a tall thin man with long white hair reached out with both his hands and grabbed her bloodied shoulders, the backpack finally fell to the ground, releasing its grasp on her – the cuts across her shoulders were deep and wet with blood, slightly blackened like rotting flesh.

She knew this place must be the entrance to Hell, maybe she had to check-in, was hell really that formal? She knew why she was there; she had commanded her dog to “kill” 9 times in less than two years. Her victims were random people, she didn’t know them or the lives they led or the people they loved or the people they were yet to become… she didn’t care. She had complete control over their destiny, their death. She would watch them for a few days, with her dog at her side. When the time felt right, she would softly whisper “kill” into her dog’s ear, like a lover whispering a poem. She had trained the dog so well. It would walk towards the person, silently, holding its breath, camouflaging its footsteps… and for a brief unnoticeable second, it would pause and stare at the kill – a toddler left unattended just long enough, a boy walking home after sharing his first kiss, a retired teacher lost in the beauty of her roses. It noticed these things, these human things that made each person unique, but only briefly, its purpose was to entertain her, to “kill”.

No words were ever spoken between her and the man in charge of the door. He turned to walk down a brightly lit hallway with beautiful wallpaper and perfectly framed works of art. The air smelled clean and fresh – a game, she thought, a game where she gets to stay in a nice hotel room for a while before moving on to hell.

The doorman stopped at room number 107 and turned the handle. He gave her a tremendous shove into the room and she fell onto the floor, or rather, it wasn’t a floor, it was a backyard. A beautiful backyard enclosed in a black wrought iron fence, the grass was perfectly mowed — the yard was littered with toys, a trampoline, a clubhouse, a tire swing. She began to recognize this place, from somewhere, a memory stored away in a part of her mind that tried to easily forget… forgetting made everything easy. She began pacing the yard, faster and faster, trying to remember this place, trying to remember why she was here… and then, a voice. A cherub like voice asking if she wanted some ice cream. She was startled, growing afraid, no one was there. Again, the voice sounded out in angelic tones to ask if she wanted some ice cream. She turned quickly, looking, finally realizing it was coming from inside the clubhouse.

She took a few small, cautious steps towards the clubhouse but stopped when she could see someone moving inside. A small chubby hand came out from the dark of the clubhouse and grabbed the door, that’s all she could see, this small chubby hand belonging to a small child, maybe three or four, she thought. She didn’t move towards the clubhouse, instead letting the child come out on his own – slowly, the child emerged. He grabbed the opening to the clubhouse with his other hand; it must have been a hand. It was round; there was no skin, only shreds of muscle and tendon. On the top, there were two small bones protruding – maybe they used to be fingers. She covered her mouth to keep from screaming, she was in hell.

More of the small child slowly came out of the clubhouse – he was scooting on his bottom, using his one good hand to pull himself. One leg was in similar condition as his hand… stripped of its skin, muscle and tendons hanging in a disjointed puzzle, blood and puss oozing everywhere. His other leg was gone, just gone. His pants were soaked with blood near his hip – it looked like an ax cut through it, no sign that bone or flesh or muscle or anything living had ever been attached to that spot. He scooted further out from the clubhouse, in full view, sitting directly in front of her. His clothing was barely recognizable as clothing – dripping with blood and tears and intestinal fluids, and one more smell she recognized right away… dog slobber, it was her dogs slobber soaking the boys shirt. She backed away from the boy looking up at her from his place on the ground when she heard another movement coming from within the clubhouse.

Her dog slowly walked out of the clubhouse towards the boy, she closed her eyes, unable to watch what she thought would happen next – the first time she watched her dog kill the boy, it was from a distance… she could look away when she wanted, she couldn’t hear the bones breaking and the flesh ripping or the mother screaming. But, now, now she had no choice but to watch… to be a part of it. She opened her eyes when she heard the boy giggling, as she looked up, the boy was stroking her dog with his bloody nub – leaving her dogs fur matted with blood and dirt. Her dog started licking the boys grotesque wounds, her stomach churned as she watched streaks of slobber and blood slowly fall from her dog’s mouth onto the boy.

The boy looked at her, and then pointed to a backpack at her feet. He scooted over to the backpack and began to crawl inside, leaving a trail of ooze behind him like a wounded slug. He pointed up to her shoulders; she understood that to mean she should put the backpack on, with him inside. The backpack immediately became glued to her shoulders, once again cutting deeply into her flesh. Her dog stood, facing her, staring at her, not blinking, not breathing, not moving – the two of them, face to face, not moving.

She had almost forgotten about the boy on her back when he moved and the straps of the backpack cut into her shoulders more, though she didn’t dare take her eyes off of her dog. The boy leaned forward, placing his mouth directly on her ear, the putrid smell that surrounded him was inescapable, and in the most angelic loving voice he whispered to her, “run”. She didn’t comprehend what he was saying at first, he giggled in a way that so many mischievous little boys do, and then she saw her dog lower his head and growl.

She ran.

Just as the boy had commanded her to, she ran.

She darted behind the clubhouse and jumped the fence in a quick movement. She headed down the middle of the street, unable to see her dog, but she could feel him… his hot breath on the back of her legs, nipping at her calves – just enough to draw blood. Then she could feel his warm slobber dripping onto her neck, his teeth just barely breaking the skin. He was toying with her, waiting to kill her, perhaps for the boys command. But, the boy seemed to be having too much fun, laughing at all the raucous behavior happening around him as he raced through the streets in her backpack.

She ran, never stopping, her dog right there out of sight, but inches from her flesh, ready to kill. The street turned into an overgrown forest that looked all too familiar – broken branches jumping out at her and roots rising up to trip her, then it happened. Her dog clamped down on her calf with the full force of his monstrous jaw, ripping away pieces of flesh. She fell and tumbled over and over, screaming in pain and being knocked around by trees and stumps and bushes. The boy, still in the backpack strapped ever tighter to her bleeding shoulders, giggled like he was at an amusement park. Her dog continued to run beside her as she tumbled, taking bites out of her. She came to a stop as she crashed into a door, the door to her hotel room, room number 107. She stood up quickly and opened the door only to find the tall doorman waiting for her. He reached out his lengthy arms and grabbed both her shoulders, the backpack was automatically released. He picked up the pack and gently placed it in the arms of a small woman – who walked away with it.

The door man guided her back to her hotel room, she wasn’t done yet, there were others she needed to bring out. She begged him not to make her go back in there, to fix her wounds, to let her rest, anything… he gave a heavy sigh and pushed her back into hotel room number 107.

She turned around and was in the most amazing garden she had ever seen. It was a beautiful spring day, butterflies and hummingbirds were everywhere. The smell of roses filled the air – it gave her a sense of calm. She noticed an older woman in a corner of the garden kneeling down, working away at pruning and watering and feeding the roses. The woman spoke without turning around, she asked if she liked her roses. But before she could answer, the woman turned to face her and the horror of her hell was again real. The woman’s face was gone, nothing but bone on the right side. The left side was mangled, her lips were hanging by a single piece of skin, her scalp looked as if it had been removed with a chainsaw, and her single eye was dangling by a thin muscle past her cheek swinging back and forth like the pendulum of a clock.

She looked at the ground were the woman had been sitting and saw her dog, staring at her…

*****

Becky Brewster Sain lives in the Nashville area with her three joyfully imaginative children and two large willful dogs, or is that large willful children and joyfully imaginative dogs? She writes poetry and prose on her blog, First Pages ( http://bsain.wordpress.com/ ) as well as a few scattered short stories. She is feverishly submitting poems and stories and trying to expand her creative boundaries. You can stalk her on twitter @beckysain or follow her Facebook pageFirst Pages.

She also wrote a story for us last year. Feel free to check it out here.