Entries Tagged as 'short story'

Don’t go out there

She'll eat your soulIt’s been three days since you boarded up the windows and jammed all the furniture haphazardly in front of the door. Even your aunt’s priceless antique grandfather clock. Anything heavy to keep them out.

It started with some crazy stories out of South America. Disappearances, mutilations. Demons and gargoyles. Real George Noory stuff that nobody, save a few frantic “Coast to Coast” listeners, really believed. There was even a blurry Youtube video. You watched it at work, forwarded it to your friends. The CG was obviously fake, but it was a pretty good fake.

Then Sao Paulo went dark, like someone pulled the plug. The Brazilian government denied anything was seriously wrong. Just a glitch in the power grid. Satellite photos and seven minutes of grisly camera footage shot from the back of a speeding pickup truck told otherwise.

Reports of mass murders and unexplained disappearances were taken seriously after that. It was all there was in the news. All there was on television, for that matter, despite the blackouts that were steadily creeping north. You could tell which city was going to be next just by looking at a map. Every day, like clockwork, another town was consumed. Every night another city screamed until the microphones cut off.

A churning wave of panicked refugees preceded the front as it moved northward toward Panama. There the advance seemed to stall.

Relieved authorities announced that everything was going to be okay. Yes, the southern continent was teeming with monsters, but they had stopped at Panama. We were safe, you see, because they were there, and we were not.

It turned out that there was wherever the food was. And the food was running north.

Panama City took longer to be devoured because the mass of fleeing refugees coming up from the south ran smack into the backs of those trying to get out of the city, creating an enormous bottleneck. And a feast.

It didn’t end at Panama, no. And we watched it all play out like a miniseries on television. The horror that became the Pan American Highway. The failed evacuation to Moyogalpa on Lago de Nicaragua. The San Salvador firestorm. The twin bloodbaths of Oaxaca and Veracruz. Mexico City.

The brutal violence was televised around the clock until one government or another shut down the satellite feeds. But there was always video tape, so we watched that, transfixed. Network ratings skyrocketed.

Maybe we were literally frozen with fear, or just lazy and desperate to believe that the government, the military, someone would step in and put a stop to it. Call it mass hypnotism, but even with weeks of advance warning, we weren’t prepared. Who knows why.

“The army’s gonna whoop ass!” said your next door neighbor, Dan, planted in a lawn chair on his front porch, anchored to a leaky cooler of beer. “But if any a’ them things show up ’round here,” he added, stroking the shotgun on his lap, “we’ll take care of business. Ain’t that right?” His sweaty palms smeared the oiled metal. You just nodded.

“Maybe,” you thought to yourself, “I should toss a couple of blankets and water bottles in the car. Just in case.” Then the storm hit, and it was too late.

Despite everything, you didn’t think it would actually come to your town, your street. You couldn’t imagine the inhuman screams from the television echoing outside your front window, or the loud popgun noises next door, or the image of Dan’s madly twitching legs, his shocked expression staring up at the sky from the puddle of spilled beer where his head had rolled. The sight of a thing standing in the driveway, sucking greedily from Dan’s gushing neck, was your last clear memory for a day or two.

You vaguely remember ripping shelves from the garage and nailing the boards across the big picture window in the living room. You barely notice when the power goes out until, at some point, you find yourself huddled in a corner, every stick of furniture is piled across the front door or nailed over the windows, and it’s pitch dark. Far off thunder, or muffled explosions thump in the night. Artillery? Somehow, you fall asleep.

Mercifully, you don’t hear claws scraping the door jamb.

November Can Be Glad, Too.

Halloween is 6 days over and Snug Harbor is still festooned with cobwebs. The Grumble still snarls from his tree, and orange lights still glow in the front bushes.

However, in my sloth, I’ve still managed to stack the tombstones on their shelf in the garage, a shelf that won’t bear the burden of next year’s planned expansion. The zombies are back at their posts above the garage door and around the walls, looking very much like unusually garrulous gargoyles. Notre Dame’s rejects.

Some new faces grin over the room at large. Crow, this year’s skeleton-in-a-tree, seems at home hanging by a bungee from a drywall screw. The witch sisters are stacked unceremoniously on a high shelf, for which I’m sure they will make me pay. Brittle arms, once outstretched and reaching, but now sagging, lay folded across flattened paper bosoms. Their musty cloaks are busy with industrious spiders constructing new homes for the winter.

And unlike those spiders, I have been anything but industrious. Just taking a breather. The galleries will get updated. Soon. There are new projects to post. The website’s ongoing renovation is still … ongoing. I’ve just been distracted lately.

I think that possibly I’ve gone and done something rash. Yesterday began chapter one of “The Matter of The Scarecrow Menace”. Want a taste?

On a tall rotten fence post it hung, had always hung. Its cheerless wide-brimmed hat slung low, shading a skeletal face. No crows ever came near, but there were always hornets. A nest humming maliciously somewhere in its dry, paper-filled chest.

It was a menace. You never wanted to see it, but couldn’t help looking. Was it still there? Yes. Always. From its perch in the last field, farther away than any of the boys could run at top speed in under a minute, you could still feel its dead, empty sockets staring. Closing the distance between life and laughter and the sudden realization that no wall blocked its path. No shining knight, leathery cowboy, or hardened marine stood between here and there. And if it suddenly decided to jump off its nail and stalk across the field to the big climbing tree on top of the hill, then — what?

Oh, I’m in trouble.

So, I suppose sloth isn’t really the deadly sin of which I’ve been partaking after all. Possibly wrath. Anyway, if you don’t see many changes around here for a little while, it’s not because I’m neglecting the Autumn Spirit. It’s just that soon everything will be painted gray, and we’ll be the ghosts haunting the cold night.

Go out and fill your soul with sunshine right now, store as much as you can for later. Jump in a pile of leaves. Take a drive into the country and buy a jug of cider from a man with a beard and a friendly dog. Build a little campfire in your front yard and roast something on a stick. Get a bag of those little hard root beer candies shaped like barrels and share them with some kids. Spend a whole day well so that when you close the door for the night and sit down to supper, your clothes smell like leaves and your warm, soft bed is so inviting that you never once consider turning on the TV.

November can be glad, too.