Thursday, August 29, 2013

Mating Ritual

Genre: Horror/Fantasy


Daniel Skye

Cameron Davis had never seen a deer up close before. On his daily nature walks, he’d see herds of deer trailing in the distance. Whenever he tried to inch closer, the sound of rustling leaves and fallen branches snapping under his feet would send them scattering.
The good news was he finally got to pet one. The bad news was he rammed it down with his pickup truck. It was a fawn that must have been separated from its mother. The baby deer lay in the center of the road, twitching for ten minutes before it quietly settled down. He tried to comfort it, gently petting its side when the twitching ceased and he knew there was no time to save it. There was minimal damage done to his vehicle, but that wasn’t his primary concern.
An older man drove by in a red convertible and made a smartass comment about Cameron killing Bambi before he sped away. Cameron was shaking his head, but this insensitive stranger actually made him feel better about himself. At least he had the decency to stop and call 911, who put him in touch with animal control. They sent a police officer who took down his basic information.
“Is there any damage to the vehicle?” was the officer’s first major question.
“Not really,” Cameron said. “A slight crack in one of the headlights. I’ll get it fixed as soon as possible.”
“Well,” the officer shrugged, “Don’t feel too bad about it. Happens all the time around here.” Then the officer put on a pair of dark gloves and apathetically dragged the deer carcass to the side of the road, leaving it behind for animal control to cart away.
Cameron returned home that evening and spent four hours on his laptop, meticulously scouring every dating site, every chat room, every personal ad. He needed a good lay, a one-night fling to get over the trauma of killing another living creature.
He felt sick over the whole ordeal. Though he believed getting struck down was a bit more humane than what those poor deer had been through in the last few months. Carcasses found maimed and mutilated; the damage so deliberate that no vehicle could have caused the tissue injuries sustained.
Cameron lived in Dorchester, and most of the town had already written it off as the work of twisted teens or some devil-worshipping cult that sacrifices animals to their demonic savoir. And the cops seemed in no rush to catch the culprits. They were wrapped up in the disappearance of Ed Lee, a local auto mechanic.
The lengthy search turned up nothing more than a severed ear that was found discarded by the entrance ramp of Route 25. The ear could have belonged to anyone, but the bullet-shaped earring dangling from the pierced lobe gave it away. Cameron didn’t know anyone else in town who’d dare wear them.
Ed Lee was an avid hunter. He was last seen by his wife, packing his rifle and hunting gear into his truck. Half of Dorchester drove trucks, but Ed’s was more than conspicuous. It was a shiny yellow pickup with a Confederate flag painted across the back windshield. Under it were the words the south will rise again! Cameron was convinced the poor bastard was delusional. That didn’t stop him from feeling bad when they mentioned his disappearance in the paper.
If a gun-toting redneck like Lee was vulnerable, that made Cameron a moving target. He had never fired a gun before in his life. He barely even had to raise his fists. The closest he ever came to a fight was when he shoved some drunk who was trying to sweet-talk his ex-girlfriend. And when the papers mentioned the cops finding his ear, he knew if they found Lee, he wouldn’t be alive. But he wasn’t going to let this gruesome discovery prevent him from carrying out his business.

It took Cameron four hours to connect with Tara; a slim, athletic brunette from Ocean City. They chatted for thirty minutes via Skype and a meeting was set for the following evening.
Cameron arrived at the pub fifteen minutes early only to discover Tara was way ahead of him. She had arrived fifteen minutes before him to prepare herself.
He recognized her, though he was used to seeing her in a pink tank top, sports bra, and skin-tight sweatpants. He had spotted her jogging many times on his daily walks.
“I’ve seen you around before,” he commented as they ordered their first round of drinks.
“Dorchester is a twenty minute commute from Ocean City so I drive down here a lot to use the trails. I jog a lot.”
“I can tell,” he grinned. “I almost didn’t recognize you without the sweatpants.”
“I almost wore them tonight,” she giggled. “But I didn’t think it was appropriate for a first date.”
“Is that what this is, a date?” He sipped his drink.
“If you play your cards right,” she winked as she downed her vodka martini. “Did you know that guy from around here who disappeared? What was his name…?”
“Ed Lee,” Cameron answered for her. “He worked on my truck a few times. But I didn’t really know him personally.”
“It’s kind of scary when you think about it,” she said. “If that can happen to someone out here, it can happen to any of us.”
Three drinks later and Tara was already insisting on heading back to his place. Cameron knew this was going to be easy, just not that easy. But he wasn’t one to question his luck. It usually came in streaks. He was convinced his bad luck streak had climaxed when he struck that baby deer. Tara was now the kick-start of his good luck streak.

“I’m engaged,” Tara confessed as they entered his bedroom.
“That doesn’t trouble me if it doesn’t trouble you.” Cameron smiled nervously. The fact did trouble him a bit, but he was feeling buzzed and his judgment was fogged by alcohol consumption. The words emanating from his mouth were not his but merely the words he thought Tara wanted to hear.
“No trouble at all,” she smiled, a little tipsy. Her soft lips pressed against his. But Cameron felt the time for smooching had passed.
Cameron lifted her with authority, but laid her down on the bed gently, the way a caring lover would. He unbuttoned his silk shirt and lifted her purple blouse. Before he could unhook her bra, she was already pulling the straps down and unzipping her miniskirt. He ditched his pants and boxers and slid Tara’s panties down slowly, caressing her glossy legs and thighs.
“I like to be on top,” Tara insisted.
“Whatever gets you off,” Cameron smirked.
He rolled over to let Tara mount him. She leaned over and dug into purse at the edge of the bed, producing a pair of metal handcuffs. “Do you have a kinky side?”
“Not normally, but I can make an exception for you.”
Tara cuffed his wrists between the vertical bars of his iron headboard and straddled his waist. She began to slowly roll her hips back and forth, bending closer to his chest and then rising up.
With Cameron’s wrists bound, his movements were restricted. He responded by thrusting upwards and falling back. She reached up and clasped his hands, pulling them together tightly. They started to move in unison, rising as the other fell. Sweat glistened on their bodies as the room grew hotter and they began to quicken the pace.
Tara clamped her thighs tightly around Cameron and dug in with her heels. She started grinding more forcibly against him. He thrust harder with his pelvis as she moaned with delight. Cameron’s curtains were open and the crescent moonlight seemed to beam off her ample breasts as they bounced with every thrust or shift of her waist.
“Don’t come until I do,” she commanded.
Cameron fought to hold on as she rolled and worked her hips faster and harder. The effort was draining him and he wasn’t sure if he could abide. Tara was breathing rapidly, crying out in pleasure. She began to gasp as she emitted soft little moans. He could feel her smooth skin growing hotter. She sucked in the air and arched back, her nails digging into his hands. He couldn’t hold out any longer and started to climax.
Tara bucked wildly against him, her own orgasm consuming her. She moaned as she fell atop his chest and lay motionless for several minutes, panting heavily. Then she reached up and stroked his face, nuzzling hers against his. She planted a wet kiss against his scruffy cheek.
“You usually get all cuddly and affectionate after sex, ’cause I’m not really down with that.”
“Not usually. But tonight is a special occasion. I want you to enjoy it as long as you can.”
“What do you mean special occasion? And my wrists are getting sore, you feel like unlocking these cuffs for me?
“And spoil the fun? Not just yet. I think you have some more left inside of you.”
“Two in a row? You’re quite the energetic gal.”
“Ever heard of sexual cannibalism?”
“Can’t say that I have,” he chuckled. Oh, Cameron, he thought, you sure know how to pick them. First she cuffs you to the bed, now she’s talking about people eating each other. What’s she going to do next, show off her bracelet from the loony bin?
“After sex, the female praying mantis will devour the head of the male. It’s often connected to reproduction. The female needs the nutrients necessary to feed her offspring. Essentially, one dies so others can be born in its place. They do this after sex because that’s when the male is in his most vulnerable state.”
“You’re making me hungry,” Cameron joked. “We should get dinner.”
“That was dinner. Now it’s time for dessert.”
“Dessert?” Cameron asked, bewildered.
Her naked body quaked, the skin bubbling and pushing outwards as her figure increased in mass. The nails of her fingers slipped off one by one as sharp, prodigious claws forced their way to the surface and became whole with her fingers. Her legs were no longer the silky smooth runner’s legs he had encountered that evening. They had swelled to the width of telephone poles, and they were sprouting hair. The hair kept spreading until every inch of her body was consumed by it. Her face had become distorted, taking on the shape of an animal’s snout, with two rows of fangs jutting from her mouth. Her eyes were yellow and glowing.
She leaned in and sunk her teeth into his neck. He spent his final moments twitching, his mind flashing back and forth between Ed Lee and that baby deer that lay helpless in the road. He understood now how Lee and all those innocent deer had met their fates. Unfortunately this newfound information would never leave Cameron’s bedroom.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Hunger Strike

Genre: Horror 

Daniel Skye

Amy Larson’s husband had not touched her in six months. Not so much as a pat on the back or a kiss on the cheek. And though she took his lack of affection as a personal insult, she was relieved he hadn’t raised his hands to her either. Six months earlier, if she so much as spilled a drop of water, Dennis would’ve blackened her eye faster than she could get a towel to wipe up the mess.
Dennis Larson was too preoccupied with Roscoe to even acknowledge his family’s existence beyond the dinner table. Amy would swear he loved that dog more than he did his own wife and child. Roscoe was a Saint Bernard that Dennis had rescued from the Greenville shelter, looked just like the dog from those Beethoven movies. The week he brought Roscoe home, Dennis spent five hundred dollars on a dog house, bed, personalized collar, and a cage for when a visit to the vet or kennel was required.
While the family scrounged and scraped to survive, Roscoe was treated like royalty. When they went to the beach, Roscoe rode shotgun. While the family dined on macaroni and cheese, Roscoe munched on raw sirloin. There was nothing too expensive for that adorable little mutt.
Dennis let Roscoe roam free whenever he pleased, which angered some of the neighbors. But they were too afraid of Dennis’s awful temper to speak up. When it rained, Roscoe would track mud in the living room and shake himself off, soaking the furniture or whoever was unfortunate enough to be standing in his way. Dennis thought this was adorable. Amy found it to be a pain in the ass seeing as she was the one expected to do the cleanup.

It was a grey December afternoon when Evan Larson strolled in early from school. His brown jacket was stained red, his knuckles skinned down to the bone. He had been in another fight. Ten years old and he was already taking on kids twice his size.
Evan used to stay up late to watch amateur boxing on the sports networks. He loved it so much that on his ninth birthday Dennis bought him gloves and a punching bag. He figured wailing on a heavy bag wouldn’t hurt anybody and might help work all the aggression out of his boy. But the bag didn’t quell Evan’s rage; it only seemed to feed it.
This recent incident involved a young boy named Ronnie Henderson who pegged Evan in the back of the head with a dodge ball during gym glass. Evan leapt over the dividing net and threw the first punch, which crushed poor Ronnie’s nose. Kids were going around school saying when it was over Ronnie’s face looked like raw hamburger meat, all mashed and bloody. The verdict was in on Evan: Permanent expulsion. The doors of Greenville Middle School were closed to him forever.
“What were you thinking?” Dennis shouted, his face turning beet red. Roscoe got so worked up over his master’s fury that he started barking along with Dennis’s screams. “Do you know how hard it’s going to be to find a new school? And what about the kid you sent to the hospital? His parents are probably going to sue us.”
“It’s not a big deal,” Evan shrugged it off, shaking his hands to alleviate the pain from his throbbing knuckles.
“You can’t go around beating people up. It won’t solve your problems.”
“It seems to work on mom,” Evan remarked. That snide comment sent Dennis sailing over the edge. Amy was preparing supper in the kitchen and heard the crinkle of leather as Dennis slid his belt from his jeans.
“Boy, I’m going to whip the skin off your ass.”
Amy turned her back in the kitchen, fearing that Dennis would belt her too if she interjected. As Dennis raised his belt, Evan planted his fist in his father’s gut. Roscoe jumped up and sunk his teeth in Evan’s forearm. Shaking Roscoe off, Evan swung again. This time Dennis was prepared and as he ducked, Evan’s tender knuckles smashed against the wall.
Dennis’s belt swung through the air and snapped across Evan’s back. Roscoe backed away as Dennis lashed his boy again and again until his son’s back was raw as his knuckles.
“Now get your worthless ass upstairs, boy. If you thought that was bad, let’s see how you like going to bed without your supper.”
“You can’t starve me,” Evan protested.
“Like hell I can’t. Until we find you another school, you’re going on a mandatory hunger strike. Now move it!”
Defeated, Evan retreated from the living room without further resistance. Dennis kneeled down and petted Roscoe behind the ears; gave him a treat for helping out.
In the kitchen, Amy trembled like the last leaf on a dying tree. Dennis and her son had their disagreements in the past, but it never came to blows before. As many times as Dennis raised his hands to her, he never raised his hands to his boy. 

Evan rearranged his room looking for a source of food. A stale bag of chips or stray candy bar he had brought up and forgotten about. A whole night without food and even the church shoes in his closet were starting to look appetizing.
Dennis retired that evening with a big smile plastered across his chubby face. His son had stepped out of line with him, and he had remedied the situation in his own savage way. Was it any wonder where Evan got his anger and violent tendencies from?
Amy lied awake in bed, reading silently. She never once mentioned the incident. She didn’t even bother to ask Dennis why Roscoe wasn’t planted at the foot of the bed like usual. She just enjoyed the silence, took it as a brief reprieve.
Evan’s room was side-by-side with his parent’s bedroom. Dennis pressed his ear to the wall, expecting to hear his boy snoring away. Instead, he could hear Evan chewing softly, slowly. Whatever he was munching on, he was really savoring the flavor.
“You’ve got to be shitting me,” Dennis yelled, making Amy twitch again. “I think he’s eating in there. I’ll teach him, that little bastard. Where’s my belt?”
“What the heck could he be snacking on?” Amy wondered. “There were no leftovers. And there’s nothing else in the fridge. I haven’t been shopping since Sunday.”
Dennis Larson’s eyes widened. “Roscoe,” he whispered, and a single tear sprawled down his cheek.

Mother's Day

Genre: Horror (Zombies)

Daniel Skye

          In the darkest corner of the Fisher family kitchen, Casey Fisher used a stepstool to reach the countertop. Using a pitcher he had filled at the sink, Casey dumped some water into a mixing bowl and added pancake mix. Casey had studied his mother make pancakes for him and Bo every morning. She always added the water before the mix to prevent the formation of lumps. Then she would stir clockwise with a metal whisk, just as Casey began to do.
          He was a young boy, nine years old to be exact; short and skinny as a pencil. His dark brown hair was shoulder-length and covered the sides of his face, hiding the faded scars that marked him.
          Casey stirred until the batter was nice and thick. He dipped his finger in the bowl and ate a glob of raw batter just to certain it was ready. His dad would’ve caned him good for that one, had he been around to see it.
          Sunlight peeked in through the thin cracks of the wooden planks and boards that were nailed across every window. This made both entry and escape quite impossible.
          The clocks still ran and Casey could see it was just past dawn. He was learning quickly how to operate on little to no sleep. He and Bo, his younger sister, took turns sleeping in shifts. He had been keeping track of the days on a calendar tacked to the kitchen wall.
          It had been two weeks since the chaos erupted. Two weeks and the cavalry had yet to arrive. Every day, Casey’s hope would dwindle. But he fought to stay strong for Bo and for his mother.
Casey lifted the bowl from the counter and dragged the stool across the kitchen floor, scraping the linoleum in the process. That was the least of his concerns. He turned the burner on the electric stove and Bo passed him a frying pan which he set atop the burner. He tipped the bowl gently and let the batter drip into the pan.
Casey was astonished the water and electricity were still flowing, though he figured it wouldn’t last for long. Once the power went, Casey had a box of flashlights and candles set aside. The clocks all ran on batteries. And Ben, his father, had stocked up enough firewood to heat the house for a year. They had plenty of dry and canned foods, and Casey was certain the conflict would be resolved before supplies ran scarce.
          “Don’t forget to flip them this time,” Bo reminded him.
          “You just keep an eye on that toast,” he whispered. “Don’t let it burn. And remember to keep your voice down.”
          “Sorry,” she whispered back. “Do you think mom will enjoy this?”
          “I hope,” he said, flipping one of the pancakes with a spatula. “She hasn’t eaten in days. And it’s Mother’s Day, after all. What mom doesn’t love breakfast in bed?”
          Bo pressed the button the toaster and four crispy brown slices sprung up from their individual slots. She slathered butter on them and spread them out on a clear plate. Casey topped off the stack of pancakes with a little butter and syrup. He placed the food on a silver tray and considered pouring a glass of orange juice. But they were running low on OJ and Casey knew his mom wouldn’t drink it. Since the accident, she had acquired a thirst for something different.
          “Do you miss dad?” Bo asked as they walked through the hall, Casey carrying the tray and Bo toting their father’s shotgun. Casey didn’t have the heart to tell her the gun wasn’t loaded. He didn’t trust her with a loaded gun and let her carry it for false security. He always kept the shells in his pockets for when they were needed.
          He balanced the tray on one hand and brushed his fingers across the scars under his long hair. He had momentary flashes of the day his old man swung a coffeepot at him. He remembered the sound the glass made when it shattered across his cheek. It sounded like a rock being chucked through a window.
          Ben Fisher seemed to have it in for his only son. The beatings were a small fraction of his abuse. He would verbally abuse his son as he would curse the players on TV when they missed a field goal. Ben constantly ridiculed Casey for his long hair, and couldn’t help but wonder if he was raising a queer. “Cut your hair, faggot,” he’d say. “If your grandpa was around to see you, he’d buzz your head and boot your ass straight to military school.” One night, Casey accidently spilled his father’s Blue Ribbon and Ben snapped, ran to the kitchen, and grabbed a butcher’s knife. “Boy, if you pull that shit again, I’ll scalp you like an Injun, you understand?” Casey only nodded his head, the sharp knife glistening under the dim lights.
“Dad got what he deserved,” Casey muttered.
          “Still, we could have used him. He could have protected us.”
          “Dad was more harm than good,” Casey explained. “I’m here to protect you. That’s all that matters.”
          “You did a great job protecting me the other day,” Bo rolled her eyes. She was smart and sassy for her age. But she still required constant supervision.
          “I warned you not to get that close. Don’t worry, it’ll heal up.”
          They approached the basement door and Casey undid the latch. “I can’t go near her,” Bo pleaded, itching at the bandage that covered her infected wound.
“Stay back then,” he cautioned her. He twisted the knob and pushed the door forward, placing the tray on the top step. “Mom?” he called and peered into the darkness below.
Their mother emerged, ascending the staircase slowly. Casey locked eyes with her and almost caught a brief glint of recognition from those blank, lifeless pupils.
          Casey slammed the door, locked it, and watched silently through the peephole he had drilled with one of his dad’s power tools. The dry, rotted flesh still clung to her ample body. She leaned over, growling, drooling over the food as she sniffed and poked at it. In seconds, the tray was flung aside and she was clawing at the door, growling and screeching like the rabid lunatic she had been reduced to.
          “Happy Mother’s Day,” Casey whispered as a tear rolled down his cheek and grazed his scars. He relieved Bo of the shotgun, steering her away from the door.
          “She didn’t like it?” Bo asked, already knowing the answer.
          “Regular food won’t do the trick,” Casey sighed. “We tried. But she’s one of them now. And dad wasn’t enough to satisfy her hunger. The only option is to find her another source of food.”
          “There’s nobody out there,” Bo insisted.
          “There has to be. If we survived, so have others.”
          “We can’t do that,” Bo said, scratched at her infected arm. “Dad was one thing. Hurting normal people is wrong.”
          “Who said we? I’ll handle it.”
          They moved to the living room, where Casey tried the television again. All stations were down. Every channel he flipped through flashed a blue screen with white text that read TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES, PLEASE STAND BY.
          Casey heard the soft approach of footsteps, followed by the loud growling sounds that emanated from their front porch. The porch made him think of the day Bo fell running up to the house and skinned her knee. Ben Fisher was passed out in the recliner; empty Blue Ribbon cans were strewn about the floor. And their mother was working at the market that day. So Casey dabbed the wound with alcohol and bandaged it. Once her tears dried up, she gave her brother a peck on his scarred cheek and thanked him. It was that day that Casey realized he was more a father to Bo than Ben ever would be.
          Being the older brother is usually a tough chore to handle. But now he was playing the role of the brother and the parents. And he was charged with the task of dealing with Bo’ injury; the wound their mother had inflicted when Bo simply tried to pass her an apple. Soon, Bo would develop a bad fever and her flesh would rot to the bone. She would die and come back as one of them… unless he spared her from that misery.
          Bo shuffled away from the boarded windows until she could no longer hear the clawing sounds from outside. The sound of the zombies used to frighten her. Now what frightened her was the fact she was getting used to it. Little Bo was old enough to understand the concept of fate, and she had accepted hers. “I’m not going to get better. I’m going to turn into one of them, aren’t I?”
          “Not if I can help it,” Casey said, slipping one of the shells into his dad’s shotgun. “I love you, sis.”
          Outside, a horde of the undead continued to gather as a single gunshot rang throughout the neighborhood.


 Genre: Horror (Vampires)

Daniel Skye

          It was the first traffic jam in the history of Greenville. A minivan had swerved into oncoming traffic and its side was clipped by a milk truck. The cops had the only main road in town blocked until the wreckage was clear.
Stuck under the blistering August sun in her convertible, Bonnie Wheeler decided to take a detour. Driving through the back-roads of town, she saw a yellow sign poking up from someone’s lawn that implored her to drive as if her own children lived in that neighborhood. Bonnie shrugged and thought to herself, What if I don’t have any children?
          Her friends–all of them in their late thirties and married with children–could identify more. “You don’t understand,” her friends would lecture. “You’re not a mother yet. You don’t know what it’s like to have kids.” And some days Bonnie couldn’t help but thank the good Lord for that fact. But her perspective was about to change.

One night, towards the end of summer, Bonnie met a handsome stranger in the darkest corner of the grimiest watering hole in Greenville. She subtly inspected his fingers for a wedding band, or some kind of mark or tan line that would indicate one. Through this sneaky tactic, Bonnie was able to confirm this man was definitely on the market.
          Bonnie had tried her luck with all the single men of Greenville, but still couldn’t find Mr. Right. But that tingle running through her body said luck was on her side that evening.
          He wasn’t a regular. Bonnie knew all the bar flies that frequented Joker’s Pub. And this guy stuck out like the proverbial sore thumb amongst the other drunken slobs that serve as the bars clientele.
          He introduced himself as Max. No last name, which didn’t strike Bonnie as odd because she was lost in his dark eyes. Bonnie had spent a few short hours with this man, but she already had wedding bells chiming in her head. Max was an out-of-towner, claimed to be from Tampa. He was only in town on business.
          “What kind of business do you have out here in Greenville?” she asked.
          “I’m just following orders from my company. Got to spread our product around.” Handsome as Max was, he seemed a tad bit shy about his teeth. He had this annoying habit of cupping his hand over his mouth when he spoke. “Who knows? Maybe fate brought me here. To Greenville, to this bar. Do you believe in fate?”
“I do,” she smiled, her green eyes shining with affection.
“Well maybe fate brought me here to meet you, Bonnie.” That was the line that cemented her plans for the evening.
          By last call, they were back at Bonnie’s place. What ensued was a steamy night of lust and burning passion that Bonnie fooled herself into thinking was genuine love.
          The next morning, Bonnie awoke and rolled over to an empty bed. Max was gone. No number, no note, no nothing. She had never felt so used in all her life.
          What shocked her friends the most was she continued to pursue him. She called every hotel, motel, and apartment building in town. She checked the shelters and soups kitchens, called every hospital and police station in a thirty mile radius. Bonnie even went as far as to hire a private detective in Florida to track Max down. But he wasn’t in Tampa. Wherever Max was, he didn’t want to be found.
          Her friends encouraged her to let it go, to move on. They couldn’t see what she felt. Bonnie was in love. She wanted him, needed him in her life. What Bonnie couldn’t accept was that true love is not always mutual. It’s usually unrequited.

          Eight and a half months later, Bonnie was carrying Max’s child. Her belly swelled and bloated like wood exposed to constant moisture and even her maternity clothes seemed tight. Her back ached and the cramps made her not want to leave the bed every morning. But her desire for Max had not faded. She still thought about that night, about waking up the next morning alone, about that embarrassing hickey that she had to cover with makeup.
          It was a Friday in early May when her water broke suddenly. She was at the mall with her friend Julie to shop for baby clothes and satisfy her latest craving for hot chocolate. She really wanted yogurt, but the yogurt had become too much for her unusually sensitive teeth. Since the pregnancy, a lot of things about her body had changed. She wore dark-lensed glasses outside to protect her eyes from the sun, as the light was now blinding to her.
          Julie escorted her to the nearest exit and pulled her car up. Bonnie spent the first six hours in intense labor, breathing heavily and sucking on ice chips. Her screams were so agonizing that Julie couldn’t stick around to watch. By the last two hours, Bonnie was ready to perform the delivery herself. She just wanted that little bugger out of her already. Doctor Meyers was summoned when it was time.
          “You’re doing great,” Meyers encouraged her. “Keep pushing Bonnie.”
          Bonnie wailed as she pushed with all her might. The pain was more extreme than her friends led her to believe. It felt like squeezing a huge fridge through a narrow doorway.
          “That’s it, Bonnie,” Meyers continued. “Keep pushing. Just a little more. You’re doing fine.”
          Bonnie dug her nails into the mattress and pushed harder, the pain growing more unbearable with each passing second.
          “Almost there, Bonnie,” Meyers shouted. “I can see the head now. It’s a boy! I can see… fangs?”
          Doctor Meyers swallowed the air and all Bonnie could see was the white of his eyes as they rolled in the back of his head. A nurse tried to catch him as he tumbled to the floor and a soft pink lump slid from his mouth. Meyers had bit down on his tongue when he fainted, and severed the tip.
          One of the nurses covered her eyes as she snipped the umbilical cord and wrapped the baby in a crisp blue blanket. The nurse passed the baby along to Bonnie and tended to a fallen Meyers. A second panicked nurse was already phoning for help.
          Bonnie marveled at her beautiful new baby. All her friends were going to be so jealous. She was pleased to see the boy had Max’s dark eyes, and his sharp teeth. The only problem now was figuring out how she was going to breastfeed.
          Cradling that baby in her arms, she realized it was a mutual attraction between her and Max. He had chosen her to bear his seed, to help carry out his legacy.
          It was love at first bite.

Last Night

Genre: Horror/Mystery


Daniel Skye

          The sound of Preston Kelly’s lawn mower wakes me every morning at six o’clock sharp. I swear that guy must mow his lawn two or three times a day. At this point, Preston will take any excuse to distance himself from that ball-busting wife of his. He even helped organize the neighborhood watch just to get more time away from her.
The watch basically consists of Preston and three other disgruntled spouses who pound beers as they patrol the neighborhood after dark. The watch was formed amidst the slew of recent break-ins and missing person’s reports, so I can’t really complain. My only gripe is with the empty beer cans I find tossed over my fence from time to time. 

          Like clockwork, Kelly’s mower revs up at six A.M. and shakes me from my slumber. I awake with an awful migraine that’s only intensified by the racket of Kelly’s lawn mower.
I roll over and realize I’m not in my bed, but rather sprawled out on the floor of my hot, windowless guestroom. The stale taste of alcohol in the back of my throat could explain this. If I didn’t know any better, I’d swear I was hung over. But as a professional alcoholic, I know a hangover when I feel one. And as an alcoholic, I’m practically immune to hangovers.
          No, this is something entirely different. I can’t recall anything from last night, the likely result of another sudden blackout.
          The blackouts started when I was thirteen. I’d just nod off and wake up in strange places. Walk home caked in dirt or mud, or sand if I woke up on the beach. It got so bad that my parents had to issue a curfew and lock my bedroom door from the outside when I went to sleep. The blackouts stopped when I graduated high school, and started up again my second year of college.
          Then I met Evelyn and things improved. The blackouts ceased and my life was normal again. Nine years passed and not a single blackout. The only loss of consciousness I experienced was alcohol induced. I was finally past this bizarre spell… so I believed.
          I’ve experienced ten blackouts in the last several months. I’ve been to three doctors and all tests have yielded negative or inconclusive results. It’s not cancer or a brain tumor. My blood pressure isn’t too high or too low. It’s not heart-related. I’m not suffering from seizures. It’s not even the massive amounts of alcohol I consume on a regular basis. It’s just another medical mystery. The only downfall is the lapses in memory. Some mornings I wake up and can’t even remember my own name.
          Evelyn has grown frustrated with me recently. It’s not the drinking that seems to trouble her, though I know she could live without it. It’s the blackouts.
I don’t know why my personal condition causes her duress, but she hates having to explain things to me repeatedly. I’ll wake up and she’ll have to recap the whole night for me because I can’t recall a thing. Every so often I get this odd feeling that she’s being untruthful with me. That she’s holding back information with her stories.
          I pick myself off the floor and mash my bloodshot eyes with my knuckles as I stumble to the bathroom. The bathroom tiles are clear, but sticky with some kind of invisible residue. I shrug it off and snatch two aspirin from the medicine cabinet. I swallow them dry and examine my face in the mirror.
          The egg-shaped lump that has formed on the side of my head answers the questions regarding my migraine. But I have no memory of falling or being hit.
          Alcohol on my breath. Scratches on my cheek. Specks of dried blood on my shirt collar. Signs of a bad night I have no recollection of. Was I at a bar? Did I get into a fight? Think, George. Try to remember this time.
          Downstairs in the kitchen, I find a Dear John note from Evelyn. I should be angry or disappointed, but I’m not. I should have seen it coming instead. Evelyn was an angel to endure me for as long as she did.
          Nine years is a deep commitment, but even the best fighters have to throw in the towel when it becomes too much to bear. The drinking. The lack of steady employment. The blackouts. Evelyn had finally thrown in the towel. After nine years, she was calling it quits.
          We've been married longer than most couples last nowadays. When you stop to think about it nine years with anyone is an accomplishment. I think a lot about how Evelyn looked the first time I met her. Her curly blonde locks. Her radiant smile. Her bronzed skin that seemed to be glowing under her turquoise bridesmaid dress. She always smiled, even when it was someone else’s big day and not her own. She knew her time would come eventually. And it did when she met me.
          But after nine rocky years that smile has morphed into a scowl. Even in the words of her letter I can feel her contempt for me. My condition has cost me jobs, friends, and now, my wife.
          Flies buzz around the fruit bowl that Evelyn has made the centerpiece of the Formica kitchen table. Not fruit flies either; plain old ordinary house flies. I’ve been seeing a lot of them lately. At least I can recall that.
          I toss Evelyn’s note in the trash, swat a few flies away with yesterday’s newspaper and open a window to get some air. The whole downstairs reeks of bleach or ammonia or some chemical odor. Why bother to clean if you were planning to bail on me? Women; I’ll never get them.
          The aspirin isn’t helping. I rub my temples and my fingers accidently graze the tender bump on my head. Then I search under the kitchen sink until I find the bottle of scotch I hid from Evelyn.
I know I shouldn’t drink this early, but it’s the only solution I can think numb the pain. I pour a glass, tilt it back, and drink it straight. I’m tempted to slam another, but I tuck the bottle back under the sink and rub my sore temples again. I started attending AA meetings awhile back for Evelyn’s sake. I missed one meeting and never went again. I plunged off the wagon and never hopped back on. I don’t know if that says my love for alcohol is stronger than my love for Evelyn, but I’m certain she sees it that way.
          My head still throbs as I ascend the staircase. In the bedroom, I discover two of Evelyn’s suitcases. Both cases are so stuffed they look ready to burst, not a chance that another piece of clothing would fit. If she finally left, why didn’t she take her stuff?
          The dry blood. The suitcases. The lump on my head. Something ugly occurred here last night. Showdown at the Hartman residence perhaps? Did I hurt Evelyn? No, I would never lay a hand on her. If I did, I’d be in jail right now. Evelyn may put up with a lot of shit, but she’d never put up some brute wailing on her.
          Returning to the kitchen, I check the answering machine. No new messages. I pick up the receiver, dial Evelyn’s cell number. It goes straight to voicemail. I hang up and consider calling the police. With some help from the booze, the throbbing pain from the lump on my head has departed. But that doesn’t change the fact that I still have alcohol on my breath, and I look like I’ve been on the wrong end of an LAPD beat down. Perhaps phoning the cops is not the wisest decision.
          I don’t even know what really happened to Evelyn. Maybe she wrote the note, packed her stuff, had second thoughts, and decided to take off for a bit. Think things over. Her purse, phone, and car keys are all absent from the house. She could be with family, friends. She could be out of state for all I know.
I decide to phone Doug, Evelyn’s brother. Doug was a football buddy of mine from my college days. He introduced the two of us at a mutual friend’s wedding. Two years later, he was best man at our wedding.
          Doug picks up after two rings and greets me with a jovial, “Hey, George!”
“Good morning, Doug. This might sound like a strange question, but have you seen Evelyn?”
After a delayed response, he simply replies, “No.”
“I haven’t seen her since last night, I think. I might have had another blackout.”
“I thought you had those under control.”
“Apparently not.”
“I haven’t heard from her,” Doug assures me. “If I see her or hear from her, I’ll let you know.”
“Thanks, Doug. I appreciate it.”
The door slams as the receiver clicks and Evelyn peeks her head into the kitchen. She glares at me disapprovingly. “Come back to gather your stuff?” I ask.
“I cleaned up the mess in the bathroom,” Evelyn says, almost seething. “Who was it this time? You know what, don’t even tell me. I don’t want to know the sick details. And don’t give me any of that crap about not remembering. I’m tired of the blackouts and the lies and bullshit excuses.”
“What in God’s name are you saying? Are you implying that I’m having some sort of an affair?”
“You’re so clueless,” she says, swatting away the flies that buzz around her face. “Wonder where all these flies are coming from? Check the crawlspace, George. You’ll know the truth then.”
She retrieves her luggage and leaves in a flash. Not even a stick of lipstick or a pair of earrings remains. You’d never even know Evelyn Hartman existed.
I head for the utility closet and yank the wood panel from the crawlspace. A swarm of flies come buzzing out and the stench that emanates makes me gag like a punch to the throat. I feel sick, dizzy. White spots of light obscure my vision, preventing me from seeing beyond the square frame of the crawlspace. My eyelids flutter, the air grows thin. I think I’m blacking…
Oh, George. Sweet, gentle George. That’s it. Stay in the dark. Don’t bother checking the crawlspace. It will be cleared out by this evening. Any minute now, the cops will be towing a car out of the river. The local news will report another missing girl. By tomorrow, it will be two missing girls. I’m sorry but Evelyn has become a liability. As your better half, I can’t allow her to send you to prison, George. I must deal with her so I can carry on my work. Don’t fret, you won’t remember a thing. It’ll be just like the old days.