black crows peck at my corpse
skeletonized remains alone and forgotten
struggling to wash pure with gallons of tears
memories branded and seared into breast
hollow throbbing bones collapsing in ruins
black crows peck at my corpse
dissolving into puddles of rancid death
unfolded particles of grief and sorrow
trudging paths of sharpened pain
digging into wounds, praying you’ll hear
black crows peck at my corpse
my feelings packed beyond last door
unraveled like a threadbare sweater
neglected and held in contempt
erased from deep depths of darkness
black crows peck at my corpse
abandoned and invisible in my corner
fading into grey world of oblivion
tiptoeing on silent padded feet, as I
pull blade of scorn from bleeding chest.
black crows peck at my corpse
“I am still here!” I scream
begging you to blow air into lungs
so I can inhale your essence
but I plod on, lost and alone.
There’s a tree, on which we fix
With fruit as “golden mean”
Is there truly white or onyx?
Gray is what it deams
This tree; accursed all peoples
Midst the garden where we dine
“Knowing good and evil”
Deceived, to “be divine”
This tree; that yields one sight
As tempted by, was Eve
Poisonous first bite
It veils the eyes to see
This tree; with pride as fodder
The conscience seared to silence
Bleeding out all color
Self-righteous in light's absence
This tree; where pure’s evaded;
Is black, its tone just faded
Gray’s moral lens askewed
Perhaps I should say, that to some,
it is not gray, but simple fun,
to me it was more - for my heart,
does not know when to stop, or start.
She would enter, when she left me alone,
then to undress, hours to moan,
when she was done and sore,
i could finish, she wanted no more.
Coming back home, I was left on the mantle,
untouched and forgotten, stranger on cantle,
I’d live for those moments, once a week,
the time between, and nights so bleak.
No longer I say, I live for myself,
let them judge, I will not be on that shelf,
maybe it was me that kept her so blue?
forced us to leave this house built for two.
In the Gray of Eve
Does loving an evil man make a woman evil? It certainly makes her evil by association, but does loving such a man actually make her as nefarious as he himself is? Do people see her slithering when she approaches them, as she supposes they must see him, as she herself has viewed him lately? Perhaps so. She had to admit to herself that it probably does, and if so, then she was indeed an evil woman.
So how had she become this abhorational thing, and what to do about it?
She had not set out to be vile. She had once been young and sweet... innocent even. She could remember skipping and dancing in her play clothes, as a good child will. She had once held buttercups under her chin and laughed as the buttercups turned it yellow, and she had done it just as sweetly as any of the sweetest children could do it. Even today she would not kill an insect if she could instead whoosh it out of the window, or the door. And yet with all of that, with all of the sweet things she had done, here she stood with a tumbler of iced whiskey, her guilty conscience staring through the plate-glass and down the shadowed drive, awaiting the approach of the dimmed and hurried headlamps that shone his way home.
Eve married up. She could not deny that. Anderson Ivey had given her a life that she would never have had otherwise. She lived in his house on the hill. She wore the nicest clothes and jewelry paid on his line of credit, and she flew along the rural highways in his big, fast car. Through Anderson she had achieved the dream. All of the things she didn’t have as a child she had now, and more. She had someone who loved and respected her. She was trusted to run his home, which was a great trust that she took seriously, as it was a rich, and fine home. He needed her. He gave her responsibilities that none of her friends knew. He gave her a purpose that she desperately wanted to uphold. He even loved and honored her parents. In so many ways he was a good man. He made her a part of everything, which is why this was so hard, trying to follow him along this newest path he had chosen. This darkened path. This unnecessary path. This path to greed, and power. Eve could not for her life understand this need for power, his need for more, and still more. Once elected to the State House he had immediately begun the wrangling necessary for the Governorship before he had even taken a seat at his new desk. Could he not see that none of those things he craved were necessary for him to be a respected and popular man? What was it that drove a man so, and pushed him to these unthinkable things.
He had been no different than usual tonight at supper. He had read his newspaper and shared its highlights. They had discussed the fields, the almanac, and the weather. They argued over universities for the children, he always wanting Sewanee, she preferring the Northern schools, Yale or Harvard, but knowing also that they would go where he said they should go. And then he had stood. He had pushed his chair in as always. He had walked around the table to kiss her, as always, his loving smile for her as bright as always.
Her heart had become heavy, so heavy that it weighted her to her chair so that she could not rise to meet him. “You are going, then?”
“Of course. Don’t worry, I will be back shortly.”
“I don’t know if I can love you if you go.”
“Of course you will.” That most familiar and bright smile had taken on a gray aspect. She inspected it closely, so closely that she saw that it might be just a touch off. How had she never noticed that before? Could that be new? Or only newly appreciated?
Anderson tipped his hat from the rack in the entryway before pulling the door softly-to behind him, and he was gone. His demeanor had been no different than if he were leaving for work, or for a hunt. There had been no extra emotion, no nervousness, no hesitation. That was when she got up from the table and poured the first whiskey, the weight of its bottle steadying her hand, the weight of its spirit steadying her heart.
Anderson Ivey, college graduate, decorated military officer, church deacon, successful businessman, State Assembly Representative, faithful father and husband... the man who had it all. Anderson Ivey was on his way to kill a man, a man whom she knew, and had known her whole life. A good, hard-working black man who would die because of a comment made to a white man while on a Saturday night binge, a comment so “insulting” that he must die for having uttered it, even while it was spoken in a drunken stupor. She took more than a sip of the bourbon, so that it burned going down and crinkled her nose into a scowl. The scowl was a repugnant look, but was one she was assuming more and more these days.
Of course Anderson would not actually have his own hand in the killing. No, he was too rich for that. He would only stand by while some poor, uneducated, rural thugs committed the killing of Hardiman Brown. Those red-necks would do the dirty work for little more than a bottle of cheap whiskey and some cheaper promises. Anderson would only be there to show them that he was on their side, that he was one of them, but by his presence was he not every bit as guilty as were those whose hands hauled on the rope? Their problems were his problems, and Anderson Ivey knew all of the answers. He was the one man who could make their problems go away, and for just the price of a vote.
But he could not really do that, could he? He could not really make their problems disappear. All he could really do was to say what they wanted to hear, and to do what they said they wanted him to do. These Southern politics were only an illusion, a trick up the sleeve as you hid your wallet away from someone else’s greasy palm with one hand, while you yourself picked at that person’s empty pocket with the other.
She poured another whiskey. A tall one. Her third. She no longer bothered with trivial niceties like ice. What had happened she wondered? They had been so happy, for so long. Had it begun when he was elected to the state legislature? They do say that power corrupts. Was she seeing the effects of that corruption, or had this been hidden inside him all along, this evil awaiting its moment? The whiskey shaded the blackness on the other side of the window, but neither the whiskey nor the darkness offered up answers to her questions.
The headlamps appeared. They flashed between the oaks like Morse code as the Packard sped up the drive, the code a warning to her that he was coming, and that the deed was done. Part of her was happy that he was home, that part of her that would always love him. Everything had always been better when he was home. The house was not so silent with him in it, nor the nights so dark.
Eve Ivey picked up the phone from its cradle. The receiver shook in her hand. It could be that the person on the other side of the line was with Anderson tonight, hiding in the shadows, unwilling to show their face just as Anderson was unwilling to show his. It could be that there was no justice here, not in Jackson, not in 1929, not for a man like Hardiman Brown, but she would seek it. She would find justice. She must. She was still the child with the buttercup, was she not?
“Yes. This is Eve Ivey.” Her voice was surprisingly even. “I need you to send a car. There has been a murder.” She took another mouthful of whiskey and returned the receiver to its home. She watched through the window as her husband parked in the front drive and opened the car’s door. She saw him up the steps, sober and strong. She heard the front door open, and close. She heard his hat find its spot on the rack.
He saw her at the window and he walked over, his footsteps loud on the parquet. He put his arm around her waist from behind and pulled her to him. She felt him against her backside as he kissed the back of her neck, softly and sweetly. “I’m going to bed if you want to come.”
She sighed. Any other night! She loved the way he touched her, and the way he kissed her, even after all these years... but not tonight. He could not have her tonight. In fact, he would never have her again. She heard his footsteps on the stairs leading up to the balcony, and to the master bedroom. She had to ask him. She had to hear his guilt, before she could do it. “Did you kill him, then?”
He hesitated, but she deserved to know the truth. He did not believe in concealing things from his wife. She would have to understand, and she would. She could not help him unless she knew everything, and he needed her help. He had always been honest with her. They were a team... but he hesitated because he knew that this was different. This had an admittedly bad feel, and an admittedly bad smell. He wished he had listened to her from the start. He wished he had stayed away, but it was done now, and could not be undone.
“Yes. Yes we did.” He climbed the stairs and disappeared into the bedroom.
Eve finshed her whiskey. She set the glass on the foyer’s console and started on uneasy feet out the door. The air around the Packard smelled of burnt gasoline and exhaust, the smells of man spoiled nature’s soft night, though the crickets sang all the same. The inside of the car was empty. She put her key in the trunk. There it was... a white hood. Her skin crawled at its sight. “Dear Lord!” She could only imagine the fear Old Hardiman Brown had felt upon seeing it, God bless his soul.
Far away, very far, a siren wailed into the night. Eve closed the trunk quietly, so Anderson would not hear it close. She was suddenly afraid of the man she loved, of the father to her children. She leaned hard against the Packard. Her tears came in a flood.
“How could he do this? How could he do this to her? How could he put her in this position? And how could he have mis-read her so badly after all of these years?”
The sirens grew louder, and closer yet. She went back inside. The pistol was hanging in its holster beside his hat, just as it always was. It was heavy in her hand as she started up the stairs.
In between the black and white of this world there is a gray, but gray cannot sit fences forever. Gray too must eventually choose a side, as Eve Ivey had chosen hers.
(I will hit “publish” on this story with some trepidation, as I am fully aware of the feelings the subject may invoke. But I hope that any readers will understand and appreciate the “ghosts” that those of us of Southern heritage, both black and white, must live beside in our world. An ever-so-slow Time is allowing some of those hate-filled ghosts to rest, but the very real humans and humanities involved should not be lightly forgotten, lest the evils repeat themselves.)
“Daddy, dear, may I please go out and play?”
Kindly to her father, the Young Wind did say.
“No, no, my darling. Not today.”
Father replied to her dismay.
“Why must I sit here bored as always?”
“To comb out the wheat so that it sways.”
Young Wind did not care to comb wheat very well,
but rather comb little girls long ponytails.
And fly to warm lands, soaring mile after mile,
To pick up bright kites and make little boys smile.
And swim above oceans, pushing surfers and skis
And elaborate yachts that tickle the seas.
“Father, I said that I want to go play.”
“I told you no, sweetheart, not now. Not today.”
She pushed down the wheat just a little bit tighter.
A big, angry storm began brewing inside her.
She kicked up some dirt and some dust with a frown.
Her father, now worried, said, “Sweetheart, calm down.”
But, Young Wind didn’t quite listen. She was upset and wanted to play.
“The weathermen say that the wind should be calm. I’ll let them be right today.”
“But YOU’RE in control, and YOU say what goes. Not the pitiful humans of earth.”
“I AM in control, so calm yourself down.” Now, Young Wind was ready to burst.
“I’ll play right here, then!” she shouted at last,
bending the trees and the brush with a thrash.
She spun in a tantrum. She plucked up the wheat.
She flung a few cars that were parked on the street.
She tore off the door of Farmer Ben’s barn,
And tossed all the phone lines like thin strands of yarn.
She ran through the gardens of seventeen homes,
She trampled their flowers and kicked up their gnomes.
She threw many rocks and shattered some glass,
She pushed down the people who tried to run past.
She grew bigger and bigger with every loud cry.
Her terrible teardrops rained down from the sky.
She fell on a house and she started to kick.
She banged on the ground, and she cracked every brick.
At last, her dear father had sure seen enough.
He reached down and grabbed her and lifted her up.
And he took her away to the heavens so deep,
Where she calmed down, and breathed in, and fell sound asleep.
And over the earth, the quiet did fall
Except for the sirens and crying and all.
They certainly now had some cleaning to do,
Not to mention the part about search and rescue.
But Young Wind was sleeping, and under cloud sheet,
Realized that it WAS quite fun combing the wheat.
Always different from
That of another
Those who retain faith
In merciless execution,
Those who maintain
Rehabilitation is the better way
Each person with thoughts
Of their own,
The scales ever tipping
In the favor they choose
There is no definite
Method to punish,
Just as there is no set way
To deliver justice
The scales forever
Weighed with dull gray
“They know it was him, they just didn’t know he was yours. I can’t believe you got him in there, I nearly turned white when I saw him. I tried to distance myself as much as possible but then, next thing I know, the Crown Prince is dead, and I’m in custody,” I heard the journalist say as I stood guard outside the tent in the desert sun.
“An unfortunate coincidence certainly. I appreciate you staying tight-lipped through that,” replied the Lieutenant.
“Yeah, I’ve been through worse. They had no reason to believe I was involved since I wasn’t and most likely they still think it was the Iranians. Much of their questioning led that direction. Though, no doubt, if they would have found any piece of my background, I would have been done for.”
“Why do you think I requested to oversee your transfer after your release. I wouldn’t want the wrong people getting their hands on you,” the Lieutenant said.
“Is that why we’re in this makeshift camp?” he asked.
“Something like that.”
“Jessica, I have to go public with this. I’m only giving you warning because of our… history. I’ll give you 48 hours to pass the word along if need be,” he said.
He called her by her first name? No one calls her by her first name. Whatever history he had with the Lieutenant must have been more personal than the interviews I had been around for.
“There’s no way I can get to my people in 48 hours,” came the Lieutenant’s growling response. “This will compromise years of work and endanger tens of thousands of people. It’ll be impossible to anticipate their response going forward.”
“The truth will out. It’s only a matter of time before they find we’re responsible, even if they can’t prove it.”
“They’re guessing. Putting this out there would blow the cover off our operations. Everyone, everything we’re trying to protect would be put at risk.”
“Our citizens need to know about this. The government can’t go around killing whoever they deem a significant threat. He hasn’t committed any crimes.”
“He was planning the largest terrorist attack in history!”
“So arrest him. Notify the other nations of his plans. Anything but assassinate him.”
“Arrest the Crown Prince? Do you want us to start a war?”
“You don’t think this will start a war? They will respond, even if it isn’t overt. This was wrong.”
“Thousands would be dead, and we would end up at war anyhow. It’s wrong to save thousands of lives?“
“If it means murdering someone who hasn’t committed a crime, yes!” he said, growing louder.
I could tell this wasn’t going well. There was a pause of several seconds.
“So you’ve made your mind up then, there’s no swaying you?” the Lieutenant asked eventually.
“Jessica, this isn’t an attack on you or your people, I know you’re just following orders. I don’t know who made this call but, once the public finds out about it, there’ll be an investigation and, if what you say is true, I’m sure no one will blame you.”
“What if I made the call, would it make any difference?” the Lieutenant asked.
“You? Why would you make the call?” I could hear a new tension in his voice as it had gone higher. “Assassinating a Crown Prince is far above a lieutenant’s clearance. Besides, you wouldn’t, you wouldn’t have a man killed for a crime he didn’t commit.”
“The politicians have to keep their hands clean, and someone has to ensure the safety of our people, so it was left up to me.”
“I know you wouldn’t kill an innocent man,” he said.
“You know I believe in justice. You know I believe in protecting the innocent. I’m sorry, Mike, protecting the innocent is much more complicated than that. I need to know if you’re with us or not?”
There was silence for quite a few seconds, maybe a minute. “I’m with you,” he said finally.
“I want to believe that Mike, but you never were a good liar.”
“No,” came his startled yelp, cut off by two shots ringing out.
I stepped into the tent after I heard the shots. The Lieutenant was standing, her sidearm in hand. The journalist lay on the opposite side of the table in the sand, bleeding out, two holes in his chest, his chair toppled over next to him.
The Lieutenant took a deep breath looking at the journalist for a moment and shaking her head.
“I’m sorry Ma’am. I take it you knew him well,” I said.
Without turning to look at me, she said, “Once, I did. It’s unfortunate he happened to be there, a thousand other journalists would have had no clue. But, he made his choice long ago, idealism over protecting reality. We were never close since.”
I stood there, dumbfounded. Perhaps the Lieutenant, once, had been human.
“Have the men get the shovels. Once it’s cleaned up, take the tent down and return to camp," she said coldly, then checked her watch. "Quickly, only another two hours outside of satellite coverage, you need to be on the road by then.”
“Yes, Ma’am,” I replied, stepping aside and saluting her as she walked out.
As she passed, I noticed a wet streak down her cheek.
It wasn’t the fact that there was a dead body on the ground that shocked Audie, or the blood making a small pool below the torso. No, it was the fact it was Audie himself whom he saw standing above it. Torn T-shirt and jeans were stained with rough dirt. His face was slack, and his blue eyes dull and glassy. A bloodied knife held so tightly in his hands, the knuckles were white. His victim’s hair sprawled around the head like a bloody crown.
Audie shot up on his bed, pale faced, a cold sweat covering his forehead and brows.
Strange as that was, Audie could still hear the heavy thumping of large feet on the ground, the threatening growl echoing in his head, and the hard clap of thunder and lightning.
He turned toward the window and realized the thunder was coming from outside. A shuddering breath overtook him as he wiped a hand over his face. And it happened again. The nightmares came back. He swallowed a lump in his throat, trying to forget the dreams that unnerved him each night— hour by hour through the dark.
“Easy, now.” He told himself. “It’s fine. It’s all over now.”
The clock on the bed stand read a little after 3 AM, or some other ungodly time like that. Glancing around their little motel room, Audie caught sight of his father Silas sleeping on the rough, sitting chair. His small, old notebook with psychological notes about patients lay abandoned on his lap in peril of slipping from his limp hands.
Audie flipped off the reading lamp; it’s dull light ceased to illuminate the small room. ‘He must’ve fallen asleep reading,’ Audie thought, getting up to throw covers over him and picking up the book.
Audie looked bewildered at the text. He scarcely made out of his father’s chicken-scratch hand, but the words seemed to shift and drift off the page, becoming “halluci…” and “nigtm…”
Squinting in the dark, Audie could make out an ominous, dark thundercloud drawing with lightning strikes taking up an entire page. The black ink seemed to droop of the page as though it were still wet. The clap of thunder hit overhead looked out the window to see a dark, cloudy sky.
The weather was strange, because Audie thought the sky was supposed to stay sunny for a while after the summer. Another flash and he shut the curtains completely.
Climbing back onto the full-sized bed, he still couldn’t shake the nightmare. It was—to put it simply—a dismal, living with these chronic nightmares that often lingered into killer morning headaches.
But the worst part was knowing Audie couldn’t do anything to make them stop,
except wait for the sun to show.
“Another dream?” His father poured Audie the milk—the milk he so-clumsily forgot—in his cereal bowl. They were at the Breakfast Center in the motel. The Rigg’s Motel is in Marietta, Ohio, the town they just moved into. Just until Silas can find a new place. Again. It’s been a way of life for Audie that they move to a new town every two or three years. Audie knows it’s his issue with middle school. Or more like the middle school can’t deal with his issues or his “mental situation” as Silas preferred to call them. He doesn’t understand it—his father can be very evasive for reasons Silas says he will explain to Audie when he’s older—and, when it comes to explaining, it’s unlikely Silas’ reasoning will.
Audie muttered, “how’d you guess,” over his steaming cup of coffee, grabbing a fistful of sugar packets.
Getting his own tea and toast with eggs, Silas took a seat. He shook his head, “We need to set another appointment with someone. The nightmares are getting worse, aren’t they?”
Audie squinted his eyes in confusion. “Someone?— You mean with Dr. Joyce?”
“No. She had to go for a family emergency—“ Silas waved his hand dismissively “—or something like that.”
“Oh.” Audie said, trying to hide his disappointment. He had been getting used to Dr. Joyce, and she had been the closest to having him open up.
“Don’t worry,” his father gave him a encouraging glance, taking a sip out of his tea mug. “We’ll get someone new.”
“Great!” He cringed. Audie’s pretend excitement came out pathetically faux.
Silas must’ve seen Audie’s deflated expression, because he then said, “We can—” his father looked at him with soft, dark brown eyes “—we will get through it, Audie. Y’know,” Silas grinned, “as a family.”
Audie caught Silas rub his forearm, and his eyebrows rose in alarm at large scratches.
“How did you get those?” Audie asked, eyeing them. They were red and pink, so they must’ve been fairly new.
Silas followed Audie’s eyesight, but showed hardly any emotion on his face. “Oh! I tripped on my way to work… on asphalt.”
Audie frowned at the injuries that didn’t match with a simple fall. They looked a lot more serious.
Silas smiled, trying to get Audie to look at him and not the scratches, “Hey, I’m okay.”
Audie found comfort in those eyes, and he gave a small smile and nodded in response.
Audie then remembered. “Did you hear the thunder storm last night?”
Audie glanced at his father whose eyes turned strangely dark. “You heard thunder?”
“It was an intense thunderstorm,” Audie noted.
His father didn’t answer, and it was silent at their table. And Audie, itching to make conversation, decided to ask about last night.
“What were you writing in your notebook?” Audie asked.
“I wasn’t wri—” Silas cleared his throat and rectified himself. “You always ask too many
“No, I don’t.” Audie objected. “You write some things. And there was a picture of a
Audie watched as Silas looked at him in confusion, internally frustrated by Silas’ never-ending cycle of evasion.
Silas opened his mouth. Probably to change the subject. “It’s that old therapist of yours. She’s getting you to believe things that aren’t true.”
Audie stopped him, “Dad, don’t— Don’t just talk to me like—like I’m crazy or some nutcase—”
“Audie!” Silas hissed.
“Just— Just… Don’t avoid the question, dad.” The thirteen year old pleaded.
At Audie’s determined gaze, Silas sighed and gave him a withering look. Then he answered simply and swiftly, “There were no drawings in my book, Audie.” And he showed him the same page Audie had seen last night, except for no dark thundercloud in black ink.
“You haven’t been getting enough rest have you?”
Audie finally looked to face his therapist. Actually, his new therapist. His old one went missing or on a trip, so his father had to assign him Dr. Tanner.
“I’ve been sleeping,” Audie lied, quickly averting his eyes to the window that presented the suspenseful, stormy sky—which has yet to rain—but continued to thunder its warnings.
“Oh, come now. We both know that’s a lie, Audie.” Dr. Tanner looked at Audie with a piercing gaze; her stare pinned him down to his seat. Audie shifted in his chair as she continued to stare and pulled at the loose string at the hem of his blue T-shirt. Despite the odd, glassy eyes, Dr. Tanner followed his every movement attentively. Like a large cougar.
Audie had a mild—no—intense distaste for his therapist. He’s had this abhorrence for her for many months now, but when asked by his father why he hated her so much, Audie just couldn’t admit that he was afraid of her.
Plus, he couldn’t disappoint his dad by not participating in the appointments he scheduled. Silas had enough on his plate, working over time and taking care of an insomniac son. Audie just needed to tough it out for a little while longer.
He could feel her predatory gaze boring into his scalp as he continued to keep quiet. She had a narrow head with dark eyes in slits like a hawk. She licked her thinly pressed lips and stared, like she did so often. “Would there be any other reason for you falling asleep in class?” She probed.
Still, slightly embarrassed and slightly angry, Audie kept quiet and tried to avert his gaze to anywhere but his therapist.
“Was it your nightmares?” Dr. Tanner asked in an effort to gain his attention.
‘What else could it be?’ It was always the nightmares.
Not waiting for Audie’s affirmation, Dr. Tanner asked again, “What was your dream about?”
Audie hated that Silas thought he needed this. His dreams never bothered anyone but himself. Audie can handle himself.
“But can your father handle you?” ‘Did she hear me?’
Dr. Tanner’s expression wasn’t at all what he was expecting: her fury quickly diminished, and a cold smile replaced it.
“Freakish, boy,” Dr. Tanner laughed and it came out like a guttural growl from the back of her throat.
“What?” And when he said that, there was the biggest thunder crack he’s ever heard. He saw the lightning flash again, and looking outside once again, Audie saw no rain.
‘What the hell is going on with this weather,’ he thought.
“There is nothing wrong with the weather, Audie.” Came a voice that sounded like someone was in dire need of a Halls cough drop.
“What do you- What the hell!” Audie jumped and fell back from his chair that fell with him and broke. Audie watched what used to be his therapist jump on her desk on her hands and feet and obtain a raised height and a dark tone, reaching ebony skin with dark patches of fur, and grow long, rusty-colored nails and a curved back. Large feet with backwards legs, sickly satin red tongue, and horns extending out of its head, contorted and twisted with anger.
Blood red eyes stared at him, and Audie with utter horror recognized them immediately.
The lightning flashed again, bringing to light the large looming figure before him, and the violent thunder rumbled soon after.
“Can your father handle much more of you?” The being’s musings came as a deep rumbling sound.
Audie yelped as he backed closer and closer to the door.
“Oh! You don’t know real or not, do you?” When she laughed it sounded like multiple voices all yelling at the same time. “Your dreams explain it all.”
Audie spotted the stray, broken leg of his wooden chair. The end was thinner than the other side, and the larger side was dangerously frayed with pointed and sharp edges.
‘Why the hell not,’ he thought and grabbed it, hiding it behind his back.
Audie couldn’t speak or move except for the little that moved his hand to the doorknob, shaking and twisting the bolted door in vain.
“Where are you going? The party’s hardly even started!” The monster continued to creep up to Audie. Then as quick as the lightning, she slammed a large paw on Audie’s chest and pushed him to the door with great force. He cringed as the sharp stick was positioned uncomfortably behind him.
“You don’t even know my name yet,” she said.
Her claws were long enough to dig under his chin. Her mouth curved into an unnatural, wolfish grin.
She opened her large mouth, great jaws lined with sharp, canine teeth. The stench of rotting flesh filled Audie’s nostrils and he held back vomit.
As she dove down, Audie brought up the chair leg and drove it up her neck. The sharp object stuck, and Tannin screamed—all the voices screamed—as she staggered back.
A large inhumane wail rang throughout the room. Audie ran out of the way to try another door.
He shook the knob violently, ramming into the door in an effort to break it. Closing his eyes, he knew he would wake up soon.
It didn’t budge.
His ears started ringing. He could hear that and his heart beating crazily. Following that, a shrilling cry of a woman. Audie finally opened his eyes and the room was clear. There was bright sunlight pouring from the windows into the cerulean room. The furniture was beautifully polished. The only disorder in the room was the broken wood chair and the sticky red painting the immaculate cream carpet.
Dr. Tanner, wholly human, bleeding out on her own carpet. Audie could only stare in shock as the woman choked on her own blood.
Audie heard loud footsteps run to his direction, and the door busted open, revealing Silas,
“I—I didn’t—I don’t know what happened.” Stammered Audie, pale-faced.
Silas looked at the therapist, who was very much dead on the ground. He sighed, scratching his head, not looking as bothered as Audie expected him to be. He muttered something to himself, pulled his notebook out and wrote something down.
Tears started to spill down the boy’s face as he came upon a realization with a soft “oh.” It was a nightmare again. Audie will have to wait until he wakes up.
“I’m dreaming.” Audie assured himself. “It’ll be fine. It’s not real.”
“It’s not a dream.” Silas said.
“Yes, it is.” Audie blubbered, “I would never hurt someone—”
“You would. And you have. Several times.”
Audie shook his head. “No. No. No, I—I wouldn’t— couldn’t.” Audie looked into the eyes of his dead therapist and the stick of wood in her. ‘How did I do that?’
Silas gripped Audie’s shoulders. Staring him in the eye, Silas said, “Listen to me, son. This. Has. Happened. But your mind makes you forget every time. I have done my best to protect you from people who would take you away from me, and well, my hands are as clean as yours.”
Audie looked at Silas in realization, “Dr. Joyce…”
“She found out. Found out everything we did. Killing. Moving everytime. Repeat.”
“You took her out to coffee…”
“My plan had to resort to a rather unpleasant trip in the woods.”
Audie stared at Silas with horror, “You—You…”
“Yes. You know why.”
“You’re a killer.” Audie whispered. “You’re going to kill me.”
“I will not!” Silas screamed, stilling Audie’s shaking. “I protect you. You will always be safe from the real monsters that want to take you away like they did your mother. I would never, EVER let that happen. I am not evil… I’m a father.”
Audie was silent.
“We need to leave, Audie.”
Audie didn’t respond. Silas tapped him again, “Audie. You’re not gonna get in trouble. Not as long as I’m here. So trust me like you’ve always done before. Can you do that?”
Audie’s head was spinning, but Silas’ voice kept him grounded. Audie stared at his hands, crusted red from where the blood dried.
The Grey Matters?
We tell fables,
In black and white
and pass these on
as God given birthright
We save up doubt
for rainy days...
trace clouds along
trying to escape...
and Ersatz Beginning...
We proof ideals,
with lead pencil
unmeant to erase
live-in ghosts upon a page
We’ve made our way
in figure eights...
with motley mores
...Closing doors, and not
lore and revelation.
In this mire of divination
where we’re summoned by
winds of mass hypnosis, and
the shrug of the iconoclast...
it is so hard to be sure,
though we all have our own
and grow pale and
sick for want of
light and ethics
in a world scene
in highlight and
...Shades upon shades
growing ever more grey
along the gills...
...this brooding fills...
with heavy shapes
that throw illusions
on the walls.
Mavia Hankala &