#IADMM2015 : In The Dark, They Sing

“Damn, Tommy.”

It was one AM, October 31st, and I was at the botanical garden on a dare, fuming at how stupid I was, and remembering what happened.

“Chicken!” Tommy stuck out his elbows and flapped his arms like stubby wings, “Buck-awk!”

“Am not!” I indignantly denied.

“Prove it!”

Everyone circled us, watching, waiting to see what happened, chanting “Prove it! Prove it!

Tommy had that grin people have when you walk into their trap, “Halloween’s this week, right?” Heads nodded all around. “And you, flower boy, always take pictures of the roses at the botanical garden, right?”

Everybody joined in, “Yeah, flower boy.”

Tommy issued his challenge, “So, take pictures of the stupid roses, but take them before the sun comes up on Halloween.”

“But, they’re closed after dark!”

“So, you scared, flower boy?”

“OK!” I paused, took a deep breath. “I’ll take the pictures!”

“And you show them to us on Halloween.”

So on the 30th, I did my homework, watched my TV shows, and went to bed like I always did. I set an alarm for midnight, after I knew Mom and Dad would be asleep. Then, I snuck out and walked the few blocks to the botanical garden. It was easy to get in. They ran chains along the entrance gate, it stopped cars, but was easy to crawl under. “Just to show Tommy,” I pulled out my phone and took a picture of the gate, from the inside.

There were no street lights. “I should have brought a flashlight.” I’d thought about doing that, but figured someone would see it’s beam, and call the police, so I walked in the dark

Everything looked different after dark, the trees beside the road looked black, leaves and all. And they looked bigger than they did in the daytime. All limbs and branches, like arms and fingers. “Happy Halloween,” I mumbled as I walked.

The rose garden was easy to find. I walked to its center. In the dark, I couldn’t see the roses. No colors, no pretty roses, just black rows of amorphous blobs on the ground.

In the middle of the roses I wondered, “How do I get picture in the dark?” That’s when I heard rustling noises. There was no wind, not even a breeze, but I heard rustling. I walked the length of the row of roses, trying to figure out what was making the sound. I couldn’t find a cause. And the rustling noises grew stronger, more frequent.

It sounded like someone was walking through the rose bushes. I stopped, and the rustling grew louder. I held up my phone, and tried to take a panoramic picture. “They’ll all be black.” That wouldn’t prove anything. I had to get pictures of the roses. I held the phone close to a rose bush, and shined the screen on it. I got a hint of color, so I took a picture.

I checked the picture to make sure it was OK. It was a red rose, almost black in the dark. But it wasn’t shaped like any rose I’d ever seen. The tips of the petals formed the outline of an eye. I stared at the picture. Then took pictures of other roses. They all looked like eyes.

I heard laughter, and a voice whispered, “Fresh meat, fresh blood. And I swear, the roses started moving.

I ran down the row I was on, looking for the opening to the next row, so I could get the hell out of there. But there wasn’t an opening, just endless rose bushes. So, I ran back the way I’d come, but the roses blocked my way.

I was trapped.

And I heard the roses whispering, “Fresh meat, fresh blood.” I backed away from them. They got closer, and whispered, “Fresh meat, fresh blood.”

I had to escape them, so I ran through them. Through the bushes filled with thorns. I felt their branches reach for me. Their thorns tore at my clothes, my arms, my legs. “Fresh meat, fresh blood!” I fought my way through the roses.

The botanical garden workers found me unconscious in the parking lot. I was a bloody mess, with scrapes and cuts everywhere. They called 911.

When I got out of the hospital, Mom and Dad never let me look at the pictures of the roses from that night. But one night I heard Mom ask Dad, “Why did he arrange the petals to make them look like eyes?”

747 Words

I wrote this for Ink After Dark’s Monster Mash 2015. Go read the other Monster Mash stories. You can find them here (dark tales) and here (light tales). Happy Halloween.


#FlashMobWrites Week 1×33 : I’m Not An Angel In Disguise

I’m not an angel in disguise,
And the devil never made me do a thing,
Or told me what to say.
I’m just an angry, mortal man,
Made by our society’s hand,
And its ruthless,
Uncaring ways.

I’ll stalk the words others write,
The songs they sing,
The stories they tell,
The games the play.
And take each detail apart,
Analyze each word,
Each action,
Every note, motion, and way.
I’ll study each nuance of your ways,
Until I master the unique language
Only you speak.

The one you don’t even know is there.

Once I have that key to you,
Who you are,
How you think,
What you feel.
It won’t be long until I know what’s missing
In your world.

Then I’ll say the words I know
You want someone to say.
The words you’ve been waiting,
Someone would say.
Words to sweep you off your feet,
And carry you away.
Words you dream of in your sleep.

And you’ll let me in.

I’ll be your friend at first,
But gradually, with time, and effort,
Using what I’ve learned of you,
I’ll do the things you want me to.
And slowly, things will grow.

One day, you’ll start to talk to me.
Start to let me in.
I’ll become your confidant,
That someone whom you trust.
I won’t take advantage,
Or rush things along.
I have time.
I’ll wait for things to happen
On their own.

One day you’ll sit next to me,
As if you always had.
One day you will hold my hand,
And walk with me,
And talk with me,
So you won’t be alone.
I’ll learn the holidays that matter.
When your birthday is.
When to buy you a card,
Or flowers.
And step by step,
Day by day,
I’ll work my way into your world.
By being everything you want,
And everything you need.

I’ll be the one you dream of when you sleep.
The one you always wanted,
The one hold in his arms,
Where you feel safe from harm.

All it takes is patience on my part,
And you’ll let me in,
And give me everything I want.

Someday you might kiss me,
Then take me to your home.
I won’t have to ask,
You’ll guide me there
On your own.

Someday you might even
Take off all your clothes,
And pull me into bed with you.

And I’ll enjoy anything,
And everything,
You decide to do.

But if I ever hear you say
“I love you,” to me,
I’ll be gone with the rising sun.
And you’ll be on your own.

Isn’t that the way this life is?
Aren’t we meant to shred
The hearts and souls around us
Until every heart becomes
Colder than the coldest ice,
Harder than the hardest stone?

I’m not an angel in disguise,
And the devil never made me do a thing.
I’m just an angry, wounded soul
Whose heart died long ago.

491 Words

This is my entry into #FlashMobWrites 1×33, hosted by Ruth Long and Cara Michaels. Please, go read all the stories in for #FlashMobWrites 1×33. You might find something you like. But if you don’t read them, how will you ever know?

#FlashMobWrites Week 1×31 : S.O.B.

Bobby shook his head, “Damn fool.” Tom was at it again, pulling all nighters at the club, then working all day. “What’s he do, sleep 20 minutes a night? He’s killing himself.”

Tom’s wife of four years left him one day. Tom went to work, and when he came home she was gone. Took the dog with her. Left him the house, three bedrooms, two baths, and a hell of a kitchen Tom never set foot in.

The son of a bitch sat in his house, and cried his eyes out. “I loved her! I gave her everything! And now she’s gone!”

Bobby brought him a six-pack one Saturday, “We need to cheer you up.” After the two of them drained all six cans, they decided to go to a club. “We’ll watch the women writhe and shake their hips and boobs, and enjoy the eye candy.” And they had. They’d watched, and talked about how those tiny bits of fabric managed to stay put on those knockers. And how that skirt never came up high enough to show what was underneath it.

Bobby hauled that sick puppy Tom home that night, dumped him in that big old house, then drove home, and passed out.

Tom told him he went back to the club Sunday night, found a girl, and she showed him what was under that tiny skirt. He raided that club two, three times a week. Son of a bitch was sleeping with three different girls on different nights. And always, they danced ‘till the club threw them out.

“Damn fool.” Tom poured another shot of barrel aged gin, turned it up and downed it. “He don’t know what he’s doing. Killing himself, ‘cause that bitch left him.” He stared at the black TV screen. It was well past eleven, and he had to work the next day. “I should crash soon.” He huffed, “Yeah, right. I have to work.”

Work was hell, he knew that. Every day, he turned the car off in the parking lot at work, and his head started to ache. “Place is killing me.” He stared at his reflection on the TV screen. “Owns me, don’t it?” The job. The money. The paycheck. Bobby had things he wanted to do, places he wanted to go, things he wanted to own. All of it took money. “Suck it up, buttercup. Do your job.”

“Tom ain’t the only damn fool killing himself, is he?” Bobby poured one more shot of gin. He watched is swirl in the shot glass, studied the way the light reflected off it, enjoyed its aroma. He chugged it down, put the bottle back in the cabinet, with the shot glass upside down on top.

As he headed toward bed, he paused, and stared at his reflection in the TV screen once more. “He’s a real nowhere man, sitting in his nowhere land…” His voice trailed off as he wandered down the hall to his bed.

494 Words

This is my entry into #FlashMobWrites 1×31, hosted by Ruth Long and Cara Michaels. Please, go read all the stories in for #FlashMobWrites 1×31. You might find something you like. But if you don’t read them, how will you ever know?

#ThursThreads Week 187 : We’re Already Late

“Another 10 people dead,” Armor 17 thought as he pulled the trigger on his gun. He saw the flash of light, smoke, and fire at the end of the barrel, but the gun remained invisible. He heard the small explosion of the gunpowder as he fired, shattering the calm, the quiet conversations in the shop.

“If no one wants to sell…” he watched the middle aged man behind the counter fall. It was the shop’s owner, dead before his body reached the floor. Chaos erupted. People screamed. People ran. People drew their guns and shot at thin air. 17 watched two of the people in the shop get struck by bullets aimed at nothing. “Regrettable.”

17 walked away.

He remembered an hour earlier. “We’re already late!” His car left long gashes in the lawn at the college. Four parallel gashes, where the tires tore the grass from the ground. He’d exited the car while it was still moving, desperation coursed through him.

Gunshots. He was too late. Armor 17 followed the sound, found the gunman in a classroom. Watched people running everywhere, screaming, panicking. Saw the bodies on the floor. Saw the man with the gun, aiming, and firing.

17 shot him.

The violence stopped.

He’d known it would happen again so he found who sold the guns to the killer. And he stopped that man from selling guns. “If no one wants to sell…” Armor 17 headed toward a shop in Colorado.

243 Words

245 Words

I wrote this for Siobhan Muir‘s #ThursThreads, Week 187. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are good reading.