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/
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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.

Cold Glass of Grief – Matt Roberts

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Robert Vanguard was a cranky old cuss. Seventy-eight and in failing health, he refused to go to a nursing home, rather, he insisted on being cared for by his only son, William.

William was thirty-six and loved his father very much. But as much as he loved his father, he hated the way the old man ran him around by constantly calling out to him, “William! Bring me some oatmeal!” or “William, I need to be changed!” More often than not, the old man would also bang his cane on the floor while he yelled. This bothered William to no end. With every rap of the cane, with every call and demand, William slowly but surely began resenting the old man.

William didn’t have much of a life, which he longed for. Before his father fell ill, he had a great job, great friends and met plenty of women. He worked hard and partied harder. When Robert got to where he couldn’t take care of himself, William gave up his life to devote it to his father.

He didn’t mind because he loved his father. Before he fell ill, the two had a decent enough relationship. But after Robert became in need of live-in assistance to help him do things he could always do on his own before, he grew cranky and he took it out on everyone. It got to the point where nobody stopped by anymore to see either of the men. Robert’s nasty attitude kept everyone away, and his constant demands kept his son too busy for company of his own.

One night after his father had gone to sleep, William decided he would drink. He didn’t get to do it often enough anymore, but he needed it. He needed some sort of break. Even though his father was a restless sleeper and often woke in the night, William risked it to have just one night for himself.

He sat alone in the study of his father’s large house and drank from a bottle of his father’s aged Brandy while listening to the thoughts in his head. Thoughts of how his life used to be versus how it was now. Depressed and liquored up with the bottle half gone, William began to fall asleep, hoping for dreams of a life without his bossy old man. Just as he started to snore, his father banged his cane on the floor and yelled out, “William! William! Bring me some milk!”

William shot up in his seat, the room spinning around his head.

“William! Bring me my milk now!”

William took a large drink from the bottle and stood on shaky legs. He groaned and stumbled through the dark house into his father’s bedroom where his father was laying in bed, banging his cane on the floor next to it.

When Robert saw his son was drunk he grew angry. “You’ve always been a no good drunk! Were you drinking my liquor? I know you were, because you’ve been using me for my money all this time! Bring me my milk!”

William was enraged. How dare he say that? William gave up his life to help his father. He never asked for this, to be an unappreciated slave. He grabbed his father by his bed shirt and lifted him up, causing Robert to drop his cane on the floor. “How can you say that dad? How?”

Robert was shocked at his son’s audacity and he began beating on William’s shoulders with his fists. William stumbled and he stepped on his father’s cane, which caused him to fall backwards. He held on tighter to his father in a desperation for balance, but he fell anyway. As he did, he pulled his father out of bed and they both crashed to the floor. William landed on his back with a thud, knocking the air out of his lungs. Robert came down next to him, head first onto the floor. William quickly gasped for air in a drunken panic until he became light-headed. Paired with the adrenaline and booze flowing through him, that was all it took, and he passed out.

The following morning William awoke with such a hangover! His head was pounding and his back was stiff and sore. The room spun around him when he opened his eyes and the dim light coming in through the window was enough to blind him. He moaned his displeasure and held his head with both hands, hoping for some stability, but none would come.

Finally he felt as if he could move, so he looked around to figure out where he was, since he clearly wasn’t in his familiar room. Just then he noticed his dad lying next to him on the floor with a puddle of blood under his head.

William sat up quickly, and again the room spun around him. He felt as if he might vomit. He took a moment to steady himself and then focused on his dad until finally the realization hit him.

“Oh god… oh god no…”

William searched his father for a pulse but found none. He wasn’t sure if he did it right, so he tried shaking his father awake. That’s when he saw his father’s eyes, wide open and staring across the room. His mind raced and William felt again as if he might vomit.

That’s when the second realization set in. Suddenly his thoughts all settled down and he focused on one particular idea. His father was dead. William was now free. Free from a life of agony and torment from his ungrateful father. He was no longer bound by his father’s chain. He could get his life back on track and be happy again.

“Poor Dad… he fell out of bed during the night and…” A smile grew upon William’s face. He began to laugh to himself, quietly at first. He was finally rid of the old man. His heart ached over his loss, but more so, excitedly beat away in his chest at the prospect of reclaiming the life he once had.

William got to his feet quickly, the pain in his body doing nothing to slow him down. He ran out of the room and found a phone. He dialed the morgue to let them know what had happened and to have them send someone out to collect the body to prepare it for the funeral.

As he dialed, he suddenly remembered bits of the previous night and the dialing stopped. He had ripped his father from his bed in a drunken rage. His father was powerless to defend himself. What had he done? William’s mind raced again and he set the phone back in the cradle. He couldn’t do that. He couldn’t pretend as if nothing had happened. He had to do what was right by his father, and be true to himself. He picked up the phone again, only this time he dialed the police.

The phone rang, and rang again. William heard the phone pick up on the other end and there was a shuffle. Finally there was a groan and he heard his father’s voice. “William, you killed me William! You’re such a drunk! Such a horrible drunk!”

William’s jaw dropped. “No dad! I didn’t mean to! Honest! I love you dad! I’m so sorry!”

“William! You putz! You’re going to Hell for what you did to me! You can never be rid of me!”

William dropped the phone and fell to his knees, holding his hands over both ears while he sobbed. He could still hear his father on the phone yelling at him for a moment and then the line went dead.

After another moment William opened his eyes and stopped breathing. He listened but couldn’t hear a thing. Other than the beating of his own heart inside his chest, all was silent. William reached for the phone and just before he could pick it up he heard his father’s cane smacking against the floor in his bedroom.

“William! Bring me my milk!”

 *****

Matt Roberts writes stuff sometimes, and it’s usually of the horror
variety. You can get his book here
or you can check out his website and read some free short stories at
officialmattroberts.com. He also has a Twitter
and a Facebook page.