Friday, March 1, 2013

A Prison Within

Hubcaps spiraled and spun off balanced, caught in the moonlight they reflected an array simmering colors. The Nova rested upside down, back and forth it teetered on the caved in roof. A shadowed figure moved from underneath. Pinned by the wreckage, it clawed and hissed trying to free itself. It pushed with its rotten face against the road for leverage, my presence not a threat or desire to it. I put my boot to its head and pushed, a few black teeth shattered under my weight and skipped across the pavement. With a quick stomp  the skull cracked and broke into pieces like a ceramic bowl. It convulsed and collapsed with a thud.

An tearful moan cried from the rear of the old muscle car. A young girl, maybe fifteen or sixteen laid face up on the pavement. Her blue and white letter jacket was two sizes too big for her, it  had turned a dingy grey, like the rest of her, soiled and tattered from the world. 

"Thank you," her voice said lightly above a whisper. Her blonde hair was splayed out on the asphalt, the tips and dead ends soaked in blood. Her wounds weren't fatal nor was she bitten and infected. She breathed, her heart beat. What happened next surprised us both. 

I placed one finger over her lips to say, "shh," and then pivoted my wrist and palmed her mouth and nose shut. The warmth of her breath against my cold hand was surprising and I doubted my willingness. 

"Not this way," her eyes spoke and went wide with wonder. Suffocating, she struggled to comprehend that her life was about to end. "Not this way," they said again. I closed my own, partly in disgust and partly because I couldn't stand the sight. She had fought so hard to survive, to have just one more day. I would trade her if I could. All I want is to cease to be and I cannot. 

I let my hand fall heavy on her face and her muffled screams and moans were muted just a little more. Her lungs, powerful and as young as they were, only suctioned my grip tighter around her mouth. She fought to free herself, flailing and whipping her arms she pounded my back. Her head twisted and thrashed. The blood soaked hair painted little red Jackson Pollock's across my other hand and forearm. Her legs kicked and her ambition for life was strong, but her paced slowed.
I opened my eyes to a single tear streaming down her face. The fight was gone. Her stomach contracted in short, quick convulsions and then one long failed breath. I gave myself a moment to compose myself. I didn't want to process what exactly I had done. I couldn’t allow that to register.  What I had done was self-serving. It goes against the basic protocol of my design. I lifted my hand from her and pulled my focus away. Down the darkened street, I could see them moving my way. Slow and determined, yet rushing their foreign bodies forward with heavy, labored steps. They could smell her. Flesh had become a dismal commodity and her blood was a beacon in a withering storm for such large appetites. The monsters had either infected or eaten most of the remaining population of Washington D.C., the last and lost civilization of the American empire. I live, if living could actually be considered a viable option or derivative of my programming. To be immortal, and actually not mortal at all, is perhaps the cruelest design. 

We were created in their image, as lures, decoys to protect the human populations from their menacing selves.  Scout and locate elevated threats and hordes, safely map and study them up close.  Once all intel could be attained, we were cued for our final act, mobile IED's, draw a pack of infected out and detonate. Like with all sophisticated, top-grade military equipment, it's never wise to put all your eggs in one basket. 

Many of my kind crashed or lost connection with the host, some spontaneously detonated in civilian safe zones, killing and creating more monsters than they we were putting down. And some could never detonate themselves at all.  It didn't take long for military and public opinion to deem the operation a failure and shut it down. Instead of powering us off, we were forgotten, a casualty of war, abandoned by our fathers. We were left to roam the city with no purpose or objective and with no certain end to either plague. 

I lifted her shirt up to the edge of her ribcage, exposing her navel and a series of other wounds and past contusions. Her eyes, vacant and glassy gazed up into the night. Her skin had already lost most of its color for life except the rosy red hue around her mouth and her tear-dried cheeks.
I placed my thumbs inside her navel and applied pressure. Her stomach gave little resistance and they sank in with easy. I could feel the moisture and warmth as it edged around my knuckles. I buried them a little deeper, all the way to the base of my wrist. Her navel widen and tore. Instantly the smell of the exposed girl sent the dead into a frenzy. Their moans carried swiftly and excitedly on the wind. Aspirating on their own bile and putridness they trudged forward, footsteps beating against the pavement in a dissonant rhythm. 

To do what one must is a necessary means of survival. It is the code of humanity. To abjure from it would mean extinction. They fight very hard to survive, humans. But I am not one of them. I am their discarded creation put out to pasture. I am not wired the same, survival is not apart of my programmed initiative.  

I dug my hands deeper into the poor girls stomach. I pressed them in firmly and gripped what I could. Fistful of intestines coiled themselves around my hands. I pulled and yanked, her body jerked and spasmed. Nerve's kicking and screaming, not yet fully aware of the bodies death. I released my grasp and brought my hand to my face. Soaked in an blazing crimson and thickness, I studied them for a moment. Staring into the essence of human life itself, a radiating hue of slow methodical drips that pooled in my lap. I placed my hands on my face. I rubbed it in, deep into the silicone sheath that covered my mechanical form. Like war paint I smeared it across my cheeks, arms and chest. I reached for more and doused myself again. There was a moment where the difference between the two forms of monsters weren't so different. I, ripping apart the young girl, and them, eager to join the feast. 

The intoxicating smell of blood enticed and drew them in and their eyes caught fire behind an opaque glaze. I dreamed of my final, pointless moments. Imagined that what was to proceed would be a frenzy of living dead with ravenous intentions. The young girl and I caught in a fury of feast, two becoming one and then nothing. Her bones cracking and splintering, my circuity snapping. In the mix I am devoured, ripped apart piece by piece, unaware that I am different, that I am not one of them, I am neither dead nor alive. 

They were side by side and only steps away. Their snarls fearsome and guttural. An elated like expression draped across their sunken, morbid faces as they lunged forward taking the bait. I stared into the gate of ones seething mouth, waiting with anticipation for its teeth and jaws. Just as the monster was about to wrap its blood crusted fingers around me...Pop. Followed by two more, Pop...Pop. Bits of corrupt brain and foul black blood sprayed all across the front of me. The ambling creatures dropped and wilted a foot away. Behind them stood a tall, skinny man wearing a Yankee’s cap. His pistol still drawn and raised. The mans eyes were searching for answers, struggling to figure out the sick senorio that was in front of him. He had no doubt seen horrible things, atrocious acts of a murderous nation, a war of gluttony the likes humanity had never thought possible. He had never seen this though. I could see it in his shoulders as dropped in exhaustion and in lack of understanding. 

“What did you?” He asked me. I stood there in silence, as only I could, purposely muted by my creator and in the interest of the humans. 

“What did you?” He shouted and reared forward, placing the barrel to my forehead. He looked me in the eyes and finally he understood. 

“Worthless clones.” He pulled the trigger and the hammer snapped. Nothing. The chamber was empty. He turned and walked away, his boots scraping the road, “Suffer like the rest of us you piece of shit.”

...I am not like you.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Femme Fatale

It was a tiny spot. A spec really. It shimmered bright as the passing, flickering sunlight punched through the train cabin window. Miriam couldn’t pull her hazel eyes away. She had stared at the crimson stain for so long she had forgotten it was attached to the cuff of the man across from her.
The man had hardly noticed her when she entered the cabin.  It upset her. Men don’t simply glance at her, they stare. Their eyes follow her every step. Rush to open doors only to trip over their own tongue. Draw every sensual and revealing part of her in with one long, impressive breath.  She wasn’t being conceded she told herself, just honest. Men don't hide their desire.
Perhaps he wasn't feeling himself, distant and distracted from the world she thought. He wasn’t handsome. He wasn’t homely either. Kempt and well groomed with a kind of pathetic awkwardness that makes girls uncomfortable. Not her.
His suit was freshly pressed and black as coal. His fedora titled to one side and didn't fit him well. None of it did she thought. Miriam imagined a lonely life and felt a twinge of sorrow for him. He retrieved his pocket watch and examined the time, then let out an impatient sigh.
He intrigued her. The blood below his cufflink intrigued her more as the train departed another station. The way it soaked into the fibers and pulled at the thread. How it stood out like Venus in the early evening sky. She knew it wasn’t his. She didn’t know how she knew, gut feeling she guessed. It was fresh. An hour old.
How did it get there?
Who did it belong to?
Things happen she supposed. He wasn't the mob type, too frail to be a goon. He wasn’t a cop. He resembled a detective, but lacked the assuredness and confidence of one. Unemployed and defeated was a possibility. The pinned up aggression of failure upon his shoulders. A day drunk, then a fist fight before he returned home to a nagging wife and a screaming infant. All of it was plausible Miriam told herself, but there was something altogether different about him. Something she couldn't quite place. The motion of the train left her head woozy and her eyes grew heavy. She decided to close them and put the man out of her thoughts.

A warm summer wind drifted through the cabin and tickled Miriams toes like little flames. Her mind wasn't able leave the spot far behind. The story of how it came to be there was distant and insignificant to her. The spec reached for her. Called to her. She knew it was foolish, but it seemed alive, growing deeper, darker. She felt herself fall like Alice, a slow, gradual descent into the unknown. Next she was followed the voice down a long cavern. Water dripped and echoed through the emptiness. Only Miriam knew it wasn’t water. It was blood. Plop, Plop, Plop. The voice grew closer and out of the darkness the words finally reached her ears, “Time to go,” it whispered.

When Miriam awoke, a young boy, ten, maybe eleven, stood over her. His chest heaved for air, his heart desperately pounded under his shirt pocket. The boys eyes were  wide, anxiousness and full of fear. His face was filthy, beads of desperation ran from his brow.
It was very sudden. The "Pop." The cool piece of steel gripped in the boys small hand. Miriams ears fell deaf. The pain was not immediate. She struggled to remember why she had boarded the train in the first place. Where she was going? Where she had been? She couldn't remember or focus.
Confusion washed over the young boy. He stared at the barrel of the gun and watched as the smoke churned and dissipated into nothingness. The smell of gunpowder filled his nose and he vomited on himself.
" I...I...," the boys voice broke into a million pieces. The gun fell to the floor. The boy grabbed Miriam's handbag and she grabbed his wrist. Her grasp was weak and slipped right off the boys oily, sweaty skin. He ran
from the cabin. Miriam clutched her stomach as the first bit of blood pushed it’s way to the surface.
Quickly it spread.The man in the black suit snapped his pocket watch closed. The sound startled Miriam. She had forgotten he was even there.
"The boy dies," the man said calmly. He adjusted his hat and perched on the edge of the seat. "His shoelace gets tangled in the train. He's pulled under and dragged for miles. He suffers a great deal."
"Why are...," pain surged all throughout her body. She removed her hand from the wound, the stickiness of her blood surprised her. She swallowed hard, "Why are you telling me this?"
"He never meant to harm you, only steal from you. The weight of a man's weapon in the hands of child was too heavy for him. Finger slipped on the trigger."
"An accident then," Miriam coughed, blood had begun to fill her lungs and she could taste the iron, "and justice. The boy got what he deserved."
"I'm afraid not. There are no accidents. There's no judge or jury. There's only me. Everyone's time comes to an end. Even mine. Then another will take my place. There is only life and death."
Finally she understood. The blood made sense.
"Oh, God, I don't want to die." Miriam sobbed. “Please don’t let me die.” The blood pooled in her lap and the day faded to dusk.
"I don't want to take you, Miriam. You're far too beautiful."
"Really? You think so? You really think so?" The darkness came fast. Miriam thought about the man in the black suit and his words.
"Yes and it's time to go, Miriam."
She smiled, closed her eyes and never thought of blood again. The sound of his pocket watch took her away.

Motif: Blood. Setting: A Train. Sub-genre: Noir. Words: 996

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


A mangled fortress twists up and wildy into a threatening sky. The lower half is a dirty shade of gray and concrete with a dingy blue border and a red stripe around the top. Above, various levels jut out like thorns, platforms made from wood and other materials slathered together haphazardly reach up beyond the sky line.  Some are illuminated by torch light, with others disappearing into the depth of night.

Jak’s never been here before, but it’s all too familiar sight. A sickening feeling overwhelms him. How could it have come to this he says to himself.

In the distance, two pudgy, misshapen figures lumber towards Jak as silhouettes against a collapsing sun. They approach with loud, squishy footsteps and hefty breaths.

"What is this?" the little fat one says with snot bubbling from his nose. His blue vest clings to his grayish green skin, its saturated in sweat and on the back, a yellow smiley face is stretched a ghoulish grin.  

"Let me see," snarls the older looking one. The optical'  he wears is fused to his eye socket, wrapped in a protective layer of fat and infected tissue. He waddles when he walks and the weight in front of him swings like a pendulum.
"You there?" he growls. Jak lifts his head. The old one roars and hisses, "What? It can’t be!" He vaults backwards, bouncing like a rubber ball on the pavement.

Jak is quickly dragged across the empty parking lot. They reach the entryway and two older looking, blue vested fatties guard the doors. They see Jak, gasp and step aside.

Inside, the stench assaults Jak’s senses and he begins to choke and spit.
"Quiet down," the little fat one says.
The interior is otherwise empty and hollow, except for trash and debris. At the center, a massive staircase rises up through the ceiling. As they begin their ascent, more blue vest meet them along the way, some run, others cower at the sight of Jak. They climb and climb, until finally the rickety structure changes to one made of gold, more gold than Jak has ever seen. It trickles down, flowing under his every step like slow moving lava. As they climb further, piles and piles of gold create various rooms of different sizes. The stairway narrows and they enter an enormous chamber. A golden hen sits squawking in one corner, in the other, a harp is playing itself a wondrous tune.  The ground began to shake and the coins jump in unison.

“Fee, fi, fo, fum,” a thunderous voice echoes through the chamber and the little fat one begins to tremble. A grotesque likeness enters the chamber, his body is deformed and writhe with pieces of gold embed into his skin, swollen and surrounded by bright yellow pus.  
“I thought that might bring back memories for you. Good to see you again or shall I say myself, Jak.”
Jak looks up at the giant, the resemblance is uncanny, undeniable. A monster.
“What have you done?”
“What have I done, what we’ve done you mean.  I’ve given us everything. We are happy ever after.”
“You have taken everything away from everyone in the process.”
“Say’s the thief. That giant we bested might think the same of you. Have you come to best me?”
The giant Jak roars with laughter. The golden harp ceases it’s song.
“You’ve forgotten one thing. Your axe. How is mother by the way?"
"She's dying." Jak yells.
"Oh yes, that's right. Pity."
"The gold is poison. Look at you. Look at what you've become."
"Yes, look at me. I am a giant of all things."
“I went to see the butcher again," Jak says.
“How is our old friend?”  
“He gave me more beans.”
“More beans, we have no need for beans, we have no need for climbing.”

Jak removes the beans from his pocket, “These aren’t for climbing,”
He tosses the beans high into the air and they scatter all throughout the chamber.
“they’re for re-claiming.” Instantly they split apart and small vines begin to wiggle their way across the floor, growing bigger and bigger, burying themselves into the gold. The chamber floor begins to rip and shake violently apart. Giant Jak is knocked off balance and comes crashing down, narrowly missing Jak.

Jak grabs hold and wraps himself tight around a vine just as an avalanche of coins gives way. Above him he can see the whole thing collapsing. The nights sky is breaking through and gold rains down like shooting stars. The vines reach the lower platforms, engulfing them and crushing them into tiny splinters.  The little fat one hangs from a nearby vine while other fatties fall to their deaths, popping like grapes on the pavement. Large green stalks slam into the foundation, rooting and plowing through concrete. They quickly envelop the strongholds walls, bringing them down in one single, cohesive grip.
Jak loses his grasp and falls, bouncing off several vines before meeting a soft landing on the fat little ones limp body. Jak struggles to get up, his foot tangled in the grip of a vine.
Above him, the giant plummets, his enormous size and weight snapping and pummeling crisp stalks as he descends.
"This is a one way trip for you Jak," the butchers voice echoes in his.
Jak closes his eyes and thinks of his mother as the giant crashes down.

Jak awakes to the warmth of the sun on his cheek. He shakes off his sleepiness and sits up. Quickly he jumps to his feet and runs home.
He burst through the door and his mother sits at the table peeling potatoes.
"Jak, what has gotten into you?"
"Nothing mother, just happy to see you."
She gives him a warm smile and continues peeling. Jak puts his hands in his pockets and pulls out a handful of gold coins. They shimmer and shine. Jak smiles.

Monday, January 7, 2013

A Beautiful Distraction

"86, 400 seconds Hart, 86, 400 seconds in any given day. That's 86, 400 chances to do the right thing, to be the hero for once, to make a fresh start. Or you can do the opposite and do the wrong thing, be the villain, go to jail for the rest of your pathetic little life."

Detective Adams leans back in his chair and kicks his boots up on the desk. His shoulder holster seems tight against his massive frame and his .38 rides a little high on his ribs. 

"Unfortunately we don't have 86,400 seconds to dance. You have till that clock hits 11 to tell me what I need to know, which leaves you with only about 2,820, 2,819, 18, 17...rumor is that you’re getting into some deep shit with the wrong sort of people. Then you go and punch an officer, what are you thinking Hart?”

“He’s a crook Adams, you know that, he’s one of yours.”

“You've been singing that song since we were on the force together ten years ago. Who’s the dame from the bar. You know, black dress, red hair, great tits. Gorgeous. We've been keeping close tabs on you old friend."

"She's just some woman," I tell him.

She's not just some woman. She's more than that. She’s the woman. More beautiful than Gene Tierney, more shape than Veronica Lake and eyes a deeper blue than I've ever seen. Hair the color of the sun, heavy and thick with curls that coil around her like flames, kissing and licking her face. She wore her dress like it was part of her, like it wasn't there at all, she was of two shades, black on milky white.

“What’s her name?”

“Lilith Black.”

“You went there to meet her?”


He stares me down like a disapproving father and pulls out a cigarette from his shirt pocket and taps it against the heel of his boot, lights it and takes a long drag.

"Here’s how I see. You take a seat at the bar and have a few. You're an older guy, not bad looking. You see this Helen sitting a few stoles down, she's young and she starts giving you "the eye." You lie to her, tell her you’re in advertising and her ears perk up. She leans a little closer, casually touching you on the elbow, accidentally brushing her knee against yours. Something starts to move downstairs, in a way your wife doesn't move you. The booze begins to flow, eventually making its way to your head and suddenly you can see all this happening. The room key, her bare shoulders as her dress comes off, her on top of you.”

“I’m in love with her.”

Adams smiles and slow streams of smoke slip out from between his crooked, coffee stained teeth. He reaches in the top drawer and pulls out a flask and pours a little into his coffee and then takes a pull for good measure.

“A beautiful distraction, maybe, but not love. That’s one of Louie Genovese outfits. I want to know the truth Hart, what were you doing in a mob bar?”

“I told you, meeting Lilith. 

“Times running out Hart, 2,420 seconds, if I had to guess.”

“We were discussing our future.”

“You’re lying,” slamming his fist down, “I know what you are, you're an ex-cop who's lost his way and his badge because he couldn't keep the bottle down. You have a grudge against me and the department. I know you've been meeting with the Genovese family and I know you’re up to something. I've been doing this for a long time. I always get my man, you know that!” 

"May I have one of those?” He passes me a cigarette and offers me a light. I remove my Zippo from my coat pocket and light it myself.  The smoke fills my lungs and I expel the awfulness.

“You don’t remember her do you?”

“Remember who?” Adams launches back from the desk, his boots hit the floor with a thud. 

“Lilith, she was much younger then. Only a teenager when you gunned her father down because he wouldn't go along with your schemes. She remembers you! Could even tell you what you were wearing. She saw it all Adams.”

He takes another swig and adjust himself in his chair and starts to laugh. “Hart, you've really gone off the deep end. Your little girl is all you have in your corner against this heavy weight. Half an hour I’ll have her picked up and silence you both forever.” 

"1,440 seconds detective." He stares at me with a blank expression, void of comprehension. 
"That's the amount of time you've spent telling me how you have it all figured out. How you think I've come to be in this chair.  Your arrogance has betrayed you detective. You've been working against yourself." I take another drag from the cigarette. “See, the thing about a woman is, there’s always something deeper than beauty, there’s fire too. Beauty is the distraction, get’s them in the door. Like a scorpion's claws teasing you, all the while the venomous tail is posed above, ready to strike.”

The door slams open and a young officer in his freshly pressed blues rushes in out of breath and screaming,“Detective, the redhead just walked into the precinct.”


“The woman, Lilith Black! She has a bomb strapped around her waist.” 

The detective looks at the young officer and then at me. I exhale and snuff the cigarette out on the floor. I see the blood flush from his face. 

“You’re a bad cop Adams and bad cops have to be dealt with, even if it means spilling a little innocent blood. You gotta destroy the nest if you wanna rid yourself of the wasp.”

Adams legs begin to give way like a bested prizefighter about to hit the canvas.

“10 seconds detective...if I had to guess.”