PART 15 (finale)

HALLOWEEN 3 YEARS AGO

 

Don’t worry, dad said, you worry too much.

But what about—?

Don’t worry!

They said no going outside, no exposing yourself to—

To what, air? Don’t expose myself to air and breathe like a human being just because I’m dying?

You’re not dying wasn’t the right thing to say, because it was a lie, and so instead she said, don’t worry, dad, you’ll live forever.

Nah, I won’t. None of us do. And when you’re my age you realize that’s a blessing. You stop being afraid; you start being ready.

She’s never recalled the finer details of the crash, but she does the red memory of the vivid blood pressure in her whirling head and how it had built some behind her eyes until the burden made them haul open fanlike and woozy and all she desired inwardly was to sleep. She could’ve persisted there suspended upside down by the faithful seatbelt with her unwieldy arms, slackly splayed out curve of the wrists first and make this her grave. The chapped texture of the roof of the inside of the trickling car could’ve been the last thing she ever felt. She’d even run her knuckles on it some as if it might lull her, wondering if she’d ever done this very same thing while drifting safely in the rhythmic amnion of the womb.

Instead, stringed along by an otherworldly puppeteer and with the pathetic soundtrack of her own chopped and labored breathing, she’d released herself from the seat belt first and fell hard onto her shoulder, then turned to the empty passenger seat and no longer felt anything but the desire to find her father.

The rubble of him was a hurled scarecrow on its back surrounded by a swelling, dark pool not far ejected from the vehicle when it flipped in the collision. The white-dusted fragments of glass outlined him like illuminated chalk, like an angel dissolved having fallen to earth and becoming human. When she trudged to him with a half-busted knee and a warm fluid flowing down her cupids bow, she flickered over him silently for a moment thinking he was gone already, but he’d said, go, go help them, they got a baby. Only then could she hear the primeval vocalizations of one too young and too trapped to help themselves.

Time didn’t go by too fast, or too slow, time simply wasn’t. There wasn’t any time at all. She’d saved the mother and the baby and they lied together weeping and calling the police. She’d come back just in time to see her father smile and leave the world.

The eyes are what she saw first, before the height of the thing. They were pale yellow underneath the murky light of the round moon, which darkened its grey fur into a blue, dismal pelt as it prowled quietly to her from the dense trees like a fence on the side of the highway. The shoulders were broad and half-clothed with a red plaid shirt ripped apart and glistening, the opened maw was wet and dripped onto the concrete as it walked to her on its hind legs, the teeth long and yellowed. It was taller than any dog she’d ever seen, well over six feet, and it was so slow, unblinking.

The full moon obscured by a passing cloud was blotted out when it pounced on her. She can remember how it smelt; seeped fur, clotted canine musk herbed with dried blood, congealed foamy congregations of saliva at the corners of its mouth. She can remember the piercing of its claws burrowing into her shoulder blades, but she remembers nothing else. Not screaming. Not pain. Not anything until she woke up in the hospital.

The morning had rose in that strange way that morning seems to lift up, at least that’s how she’s always seen it. It comes up from the grass as if it crawled out of outer space in a vapor.

I’m sorry about your father. I’m your new partner, he’d said, poking his narrow chin and inspecting the room for ears he might’ve not seen listening, tell me what you know about werewolves.

THE END (for now)

PART 13

She asks in that rehearsed tranquility; that silver voice, that comely voice in control of the drumming song of the hummingbird heart, because she’s the immovable rock. She can still be the hero.

What’re they gunna do to him?

And with the wet-blanket heat and the soft strangle of anxiety that makes the swollen edge of her nose trickle with an oval of sweat and imperceptibly tame tears tumbling down one-by-one from her smoke-burnt eyes that she can blame on the crushing stench that’s becoming insistently more putrid; she is that immovable rock. She is that silver voice in the simmering, nervous night.

They already hurt him, so now they eat him so no one can find him, the little girl says, But no hands and feet, that’s bad luck, you don’t eat that.

Can you untie me?

Mmmm, no, the little girl says in that childish way kids do with moony, large eyes, and she moves back to sit on her haunches and rocks back and forth for an absent comfort; she’s jumpy, but she’d untie her with the right coercing, or at least try to. The night is starless and peerless to all other dark nights and the little ones sunken-eyed stare bleeds out into the rest of it, making her look like a tiny, swaying skull.

The chanting and crying of the other child is loud, but there’s another shimmer of a noise quivering faintly close by. It rustles in cold-blood fully alive on nights like this and it curls, watches from somewhere. The detective says, stay still, there’s a rattler.

A snake? It won’t bite, it’s a toy, wanna see it?

No, don’t touch it. It’s not a toy.

Trust me, I play with it. It was my toy. I think it just came to life now, i’ll find it.

The little skeleton stands with difficulty, must’ve stood too swiftly, because she crashes into a brief lean onto a tree and breathes before darting out, and vanishes into a curvy palisade of shadows and thick-thighed oaks.

You just had to be the hero, the broken corpse of her father says, shaking his head, tsk tsk, from the ground where he lies.

No! Stop! The girl shouts, the detective can can hear dull thudding against thin skin, stop biting me!

The chanting dies for a moment, long enough for howling to raise itself up between the distance of it, and of her, and she looks back again even if it hurts her head where the shock had once shunned the reality of the wound, which began painfully to throb along with the gallop of her pulse.

A nude man walks down an aisle strewn with miniature bones, could be avian, limping familiarly from the right hip, wearing a paper mask similar to Baby Mikey’s, but his is a bigger dog–a wolf, with a scarlet streamer for a tongue that affords it either more primitive an appearance or sinister–yet it has antlers reaching up. The worshippers swoon to the ground and bury their faces and fingers into the hot earth, smearing their loose hair with it, bowing to him. He raises his hands up to the sky, says something that sounds more like a gurgle, but she can hear the words, lord, hear our prayers.

That’s when the gunshot strikes him in the chest.

TO BE CONTINUED…

PART 11

Before she died

You’re trickin me, it’s a joke, right? Miranda asked, and she’d laughed briefly and sheepishly like a live stage actor pretending to comprehend a scene she’s never been in before. Her mascara and dark eyeliner had crumbled because of the showers outside and had given her light eyes a flaked and hollow look, making her seem lit from within like a jack-o-lantern when she grinned.

No, I ain’t kiddin’, you’re stayin’ here, they’re out there and they’ll get you, Gabe’s mother had told her, igniting another cigarette with the bitter end of the one she’d just finished. You can’t go home tonight, not through there, she’d added, And Gabe and all the boys is too drunk to drive you home.

I can’t stay here, Miranda had said pathetically in a voice with faint tremor, Mikey’s alone, I have to go back. He can’t be alone anymore! What if he wakes up and I’m not there? I timed it this way. He’ll feel so alone if he wakes up without me. He’ll cry. He’ll look for me and I won’t be there.

For an older, stouter woman, Gabe’s mother was as fast as a high school sprinter. She was never wont to shoving young girls she liked into bedrooms and locking the doors behind them, but she had to protect her. She’d pushed Miranda into the mouth of Gabe’s room, watched her get swallowed up into the dark throat of it, and heard her fall back onto the rickety dresser. She’d heard a few neglected bottles that had once lived there on top vaguely teeter, plummet, and bounce off of the thinly carpeted floor and thankfully not bust open. Then she’d heard Miranda rise up and go for the door before she locked it from the outside and started sticking a stained foldable chair underneath the knob just to make sure she couldn’t get out. Miranda was hysterical, begging, sobbing… and then everything went quiet on the other side of the door.

Trust me, Gabe’s mother said in the seam with a sigh of relief, you can’t leave. We’ll do the wedding ritual another time. Mikey will be fine. Please, just stay here. Wait till the suns up.

The sound of it was a wire in the blood; a noise that sent an electric, chemical signal to the leftover reptilian part of the mammal brain.  The howling was a call and the call sounded through the thick bodies of the trees; the sound reached in, and somewhere in the gut it dazzled, mesmerizing, wailing, tumbling through branches, digging up dirt, rustling the leaves.

Miranda? Gabe’s mother had asked.

But when she’d opened the door the window had been opened. And Miranda was gone.

 

to be continued … 

PART 10

DETECTIVE

The light left when daddy died. The world started to get a grain over it; dimmer and dimmer went her waking life, until the doctor said it was all in her mind. Migraine auras, they’d said, without the migraine part sometimes, blind in this eye one day, blind in the other tomorrow. Get some sleep. Get some help.

Sometimes she’d think she saw something out of the corner of her eye, a loitering figure, a hunched posture, or she’d catch the heavy scent of an unbearable perfume, the kind that festers in the throat, the kind you can taste.

Everything was too loud, everything had a strong smell that made her head hurt, and sometimes she never wanted to leave the dark loam of her room. With all the lights out, she could imagine what it would be like to die.

She understood what it meant now: light of my life. Ever since the accident, she was never the same. She can still see his gasping face from when he was dying in her slender arms, and the hot flashes of the bloodied grin and the trembling sound of the death-gurgling up from deep inside of him; they wake her up at night when she’s alone.

The detective carries herself as if this burden is nothing to her. She is tall and rigid as a classical statue, saving the opportunity to pretend to be lax only for when she’s questioning suspects, with her dusky skin blemished by nothing but worry. The mother was standing outside already as she approached the weathered, molded trailer, that like a wilting flower stooped lopsided as if somebody had kicked the back of its knees and it never fully stood back up again.

Can I help you? The mother asks, she can spot a cop a mile away.

Yes, I’m looking for Gabriel, is he home? I just need to ask him a few questions about the disappearance of Miranda Delano, the detective asks. Her hands in her pockets, relaxed as she advances in her weighty boots that crack the spines of fallen sticks from the scrawly angel oak. She ignores the amorphous shimmering that’s begun in her peripheral; it’s just a migraine, like the doctors said, hormones.

He doesn’t live here anymore, ran off last night, mother says, and she stubbornly crosses her arms in the universal posture of a shut door, clearing her throat with a rattling noise as she loosens sediment there, spitting into the dog-piss grass. She’s stout and tubby and bejeweled, her eyes lined dark with black eyeshadow.

It ain’t that boy! A voice exclaims, and from what she instantly measures it’s come from behind her. The detective turns around to face the limping approach of a feeble-looking, toothless white-haired man. His cane has the image of an open-mouthed wolf on it, and he continues.

It’s them satanists, he says, age making his tone tremulous.

Satanists? So you’re saying you saw what happened? The detective asks.

No, but I heard it. And I’m a good christian man and know a satanist when I seen one, he says, stopping in front of her and leaning on his cane. It sinks in faintly and he glares at her with one bulbous eye, the pores of his nose covered in blackheads. She can smell his sweat.

What did you hear? When?

I heard a buncha howling dogs the same night that girl went missing, and I heard her screamin’ too.

Is it possible you were asleep?

He laughs, no ma’am, he says, I never sleep. You should know. By the look of you, you ain’t ever sleepin either.

What makes you think satanist just by howling?

It’s the loup garou, he says, and behind her the mother clicks her tongue in irritation. They all satanists because they been cursed by god.

What’s a loup garou? The detective asks, where do they live?

A man or a woman who takes the form of a wolf when the moons right, ya’ll call it werewolf, I call it fairytale bullshit, mother says. Ain’t no truth to it.

And where are these fairytale creatures living?

Both of them pointed her into the right direction, told her to go about a mile in, and told her to never come back at night. She wouldn’t listen; she’d be back once the sun sank down, but for now she went to see what she could find in the day.

All there was deeper in: a deer bloated stiff, shredded apart, it’s intestines alive with ants, patches of its fur strewn across the woodland floor and far away behind a thick valley of oaks, a dog staring back at her.

to be continued … 

part 9

night

 

Everything was a different color than it should be when the world began to exist without Miranda. In the filthy mouth of his blighted room, which he had torn apart with rage, he was like a chewed piece of gum. He’d wadded himself in rancid blankets despite the heat to torment himself into comprehending what she had gone through; a pathetic fantasy of her last moments.

He’d gazed without blinking for so long at the water stains spreading in the sepia pits of his room from the leaking A/C, inexpertly self-installed, that he was convinced he’d seen the powdery green fingers of the spotty mildew unfurl in slow millimeters.

And then, all of a sudden he knew what had happened. The realization made the sweat covering his body freeze.

He’d flung his door open with a snarl and the wood whimpered. MOTHER, he’d bellowed, what’d you do to her?

Mother was making potato salad and chain-smoking, sending ashes into an old disney world tray, where Mickey mouse’s eyes had cateracted with age. She’d gasped and dropped the mixing spoon, mayonnaise on the blemished kitchen floor.

I didn’t do anything to her, she’d shouted back.

Then where’d she go? Why’d she end up dead?

It was them, she’d said with her head low, her voice grave.

Them? He’d asked.

Them.

The night was alive with howling outside. The moon full and white.

 

 

to be continued …

PART 3

 

TRAILER PARK

To a child all things rise. Mother rises in the morning when the sun rises. The moon rises and mom and baby go to sleep. Miranda would rise to feed him. The dead girls name was Miranda and she never rose today, and baby Mikey wondered why his sister never trickled in with the sun as she usually did with it thrilling through her saltwater hair like a bright comb.

He faintly recalls a damp kiss on his temple between alphabet dreams, but she never rose with him. He was so hungry now he’d cried and made duck noises and horse noises he’d learned from the toy in his broken bed next to Miranda’s empty one.

Real mother staggered in belated expecting that Miranda had fed baby Mikey.

Where the fuck is Miranda? Mom squawked too loud in her talon-voice, and baby Mikey flinched.

Baby Mikey made a cat noise and then said, bye bye dada, because he’d also dimly recalled his toy making an opaline of harmonious colors and grinning like a kitten kneading fat and seeing Miranda’s friend with a beard; all men with beards are dada, but he’s too young to explain.

to be continued … 

part 2

 

NEW ORLEANS:

Morning rose and the wallowing sun divulged trace litters of a lady’s’ under things and a stringy rip of shredded denim. The evidence was fixed up in a concrete drainage ditch by a humid water line, with alien pale rocks that jutted out circling it like delegates from the moon and carefully placed on top the tatters to keep them from disturbance.

When the nutria scattered after having nibbled at coagulated blood spots dry and sweet to them like hard candy, they’d arrived. A set of shadows, which frowned and overlooked the mystery pile like mourners hovering over a peeled casket.

But where’s the body, one asked, yellow lettering dramatically over the heart of her windbreaker spelled out the words S-T-A-T-E and P-O-L-I-C-E. She shifted and bent her knees to crouch and lean over it thoughtfully, making the chunky coat swish and her arthritic knees click. She grimaced as if the evidence could spring up and shout BOO.

We don’t even know if this is hers, the other one says sardonically in his gloomy suit.

Detectives, a voice asks from behind, come have a look at this.

 

to be continued …

part 1

There’s a girl and a gust of wind and the house she left behind. A pale yellow house with mold in the corners and babies with fevers, and cigarette smoke in her nose and on the walls of her room, in her hair and in her bed sheets, and on the outside in the humid world beyond the broken door she crept out of at 2am.

They looked for her in the pastures and in the nooks, in the neck of the woods that smell green and lush and watery, and they looked up as if she might be in a tree staring down at them, but they never did find her.

 

to be continued …

‘There are doors’ a short story by Christine Delano & Samantha Lucero

A recent story one of my BFF’s and I wrote together. A publisher for an anthology passed on it (and my other ghost story, too. I finally found the email. which means I’ll be posting that one up eventually, too.) it’s written in two perspectives, Adelina and Vera, two single moms (and characters we used to role-play on journals in a World of Darkness setting, I TOLD YOU I WAS A NERD.) both first person. It’s about 15k words, so it’s kind of a commitment. It was partly inspired by a weird place in the hills of NJ.

And yes, it’s horror. Do you even know me?

Two single moms leave their lives behind
and start over, but … 

Continue reading “‘There are doors’ a short story by Christine Delano & Samantha Lucero”

her old stories from the grave: the horseman, pt 1.

[a series written a million years ago by a total goth.
unearthed for amusement. posted in parts.
a ridiculed man desperate to find evidence
of the soul embarks on a murderous journey.]

THE HORSEMAN’S LETTER TO MR. HARRY HOUDINI

 

Continue reading “her old stories from the grave: the horseman, pt 1.”