Category Archives: Stories

Dumbass

 

Namcy sits quietly in her bed, coloring.  Her brother comes in and glances at the work. She tries to hide it. He overpowers her and holds it up.

“Pink, purple, purple, pink!” He jeers. 

Her mother, drawn into the room by the commotion, catches him by the ear. “Give that back to her, Aaron,” she says.

Nancy snatches the papers out of his weakened grip. “Dumbass,” she hisses.

“Nancy!” her mother says. “Nice girls don’t say nasty things. And they color inside the lines, to practice their hand-eye coordination.”

After they leave the room, Nancy puts her crayons away.

 

Nancy sits in the back row in her high school class.

“Who knows the answer?” The teacher calls.

Nobody answers. If no one else is going to try… Nancy raises a timid hand.

“Yes, Nancy?” the teacher says.

“Twenty-three?”

The teacher shakes her head. “No, that’s incorrect. How did you get that answer?”

“Um… in my head.”

“Come up to the board and show me.”

Nancy feels a flush spreading as she walks up to the board, in front of everyone, and slowly hashes out her incorrect question in front of her bemused classmates. The pressure makes her slow, awkward. She can hardly hold the chalk, much less think.

“No, see here,” the teacher says. “You’ve skipped this entire row.”

 A titter from behind her.

“Don’t worry about them,” the teacher says. “We’ll go as slow as you need to go.”

 

The family eats together at the dinner table, Aaron declares his acceptance into Penn State.

“Of course you were accepted,” her mother says.

“We’re proud of you,” her father says.

Nancy focuses on her potatoes. 

 

He walks into the drugstore where she works. Underneath his T-shirt he’s lean as a whippet, unlike herself. She appreciates the nape of his neck as he picks out a drink, making sure to avert her eyes before he makes his way back to her register. She’s good at watching people without being noticed.

He pays for the drink in cash. As she accepts the money, she risks another glance at his face, and is caught like a moth in his electric blue eyes. 

He isn’t looking at her the way others do.

He sees her.

 

Nancy’s hands are shaking. She sits crumpled next to him on the bed.

She should have been smarter about it. But she could never say no to him. No, that’s not right. She can’t blame him. It was her responsibility to prevent this kind of thing. She has simply failed again. What will her mother say?

“You don’t want to get it taken care of?” Robby says.

She cradles her hands around her belly. “If you think I should,” she whispers.

“Well,” he says, pausing to irritably suck his cigarette, “we’ll have to get married then.”

Even when she doesn’t ask, he always knows what she wants. She’ll be able to move out of her mother’s house. He is doing this for her. He is saving her. She feels a rush of gratitude.

 

Nancy is six months along. She is making dinner when she delivers the news to Robby.

“A girl, huh,” he says. “Shit. She’s not going to be much to look at.”

“No, Robby,” Nancy says softly. 

Robby glowers at her. “What did you say.”

Her voice remains low. She can’t even look at him but she must say this now. “You don’t get to talk about her that way. Not her.”

“You don’t get to fucking tell me what to do!”

He hits her for the first time. She turns to protect her belly from hitting the stove as she falls.

They never talk about it again. He quits drinking and doesn’t hit her for a year.

 

When their baby is born, Nancy watches, tense as a predator, whenever he draws near to the baby. Robby senses that anything directed at Elsa will be the end of them. Eventually he learns to avoid their daughter.

Nancy isn’t always safe. She can accept that as long as Elsa is safe.

 

Elsa is four years old, coloring quietly. Robby sees the pages on the floor, bends over to examine them. Nancy stiffens, but Robby is focusing on Elsa and misses her warning. She sees in his body language what is coming.

“C’mon Elsa. There’s no such thing as a green dog,” he says.

Before Elsa’s eyes even have a chance to widen, Nancy is there. She scoops her daughter up in her arms. Robby and Elsa are both startled by her interference.

“What?” Robby says. 

Nancy heads to the kitchen counter, grabs the car keys.

“Are you crazy?” Robby says.

She leaves the house through the front door. Elsa starts crying.

“What is your fucking problem!?” 

Nancy shuts the car door and calls out the window at him. “You dumbass.”

She drives away, leaving him standing in the doorway, unable to believe.

She fears the future, protecting Elsa alone against the world. But she’ll figure something out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

The Hell Show

This is a nightmare I had, so it probably doesn’t make a lot of sense.  I often dream in third person.

This a horror story! Turn away, ye faint of heart!

 


 

Before she went to war, she saw her doppelganger in the crowd. It was hiding something bulky under its cloak. Its eyes had a peculiar shine to them. It felt her gaze and looked at her, and she sensed great hate, warning her of things to come. It disappeared in the crowd.

Later, when she tried to tell others about it, they wrote her off as afraid of battle.

Years passed…

She was hanging up laundry to dry late at night. Her stepson was watching TV and she made small talk as she worked, the way mothers do. Gradually she noticed that something was wrong with the channel he was watching. It was a picture of hell. Twisted flesh illuminated in violent orange. Heavy screams.

It leeched all light from the room around her. 

She tried to maintain normalcy, changed the station. “Let’s not watch this scary channel,” she said. He waited until she set the remote down and changed it back.

The atmosphere of the room was sapping her. This was the end of her peace. The same darkness she had seen that day in her doppleganger had returned to claim her. She could barely move.

Rolling her head to tear her eyes away from the TV, she focused instead on a coat rack leaning against the wall which she’d planned to mount in the entryway, for visitors. All the wet laundry she had yet to hang. Simple household things which she’d held on to and tried not to take for granted.

A self-protective instinct kicked in. Weak with horror, she staggered to her feet and stumbled into the bedroom next door, throwing herself onto the bed on top of the covers. Absentmindedly she wondered if she wasn’t going to get cold, falling asleep this way. It didn’t matter. As long as she wasn’t forced to watch that channel. As long as reality held fast.

Her stepson followed her. His eyes shone in the very same way her doppleganger’s had. And something else had entered the room with him: the stifling, odious presence of another being, more felt than seen.

“No, no no please,” she managed. It was hopeless. Fear sapped her limbs; paralysis suppressed her fluttering will into hopeless, taut submission.

The room darkened.

Thick, strangely humid air settled into the room. A small buzzing gnat of mad rationale whispered in her ear, at least it’s warm

The room was opaque with darkness. There was no TV in here, but he didn’t need one. He was going to bring that hell to her anyway.

The boy went to the window. An ominous brimstone glow limned the solid blackout roller shade. 

He raised the shade, and hell was there. An enormous corpselike thing looked through the window at her with dead eyes, a boa constrictor jammed down its throat and wrapping its fetid body in torturing coils. It screamed, impossibly through the snake. The sound was deep, low, primal. The sound of pure evil. 

She screamed back.

She screamed until she ran out of air, kept on spasmodically screaming. Paroxysms of wordless pain and terror tore through her, leaving actual tatters. She screamed until every blood vessel in her eyes burst. She threw her head back and screamed until her neck broke.

Her body jittered unnaturally. Her face was changing. She would be one of them soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

Russian Dolls

 

She was using the circular saw, and she got distracted. It cut deep into her hand.

She watched it sinking into her skin and raised the saw free before she ever felt anything. Then the pain found her, searing the nerves from her hand to her elbow. She curled up reflexively around the wound and tried not to faint while drops of blood plip-plipped on the garage floor. After a full minute, she regained her equilibrium enough to move. The damaged half of her hand had already drained into an alarming shade of pale.

The hospital. They had to go to the hospital.

She went inside, wrapped her hand tightly in a dishcloth to keep the blood in, and called to her son.

“Alex!” Her voice trembled.

Normally he might have called back, but her uncharacteristic tone sent him running down the stairs. He saw her bloody, limp hand and almost gagged.

“Alex, I need you to drive me to the hospital.”

“God, mom. God. Let’s call an ambulance.”

“No… too expensive. I need you to drive me there.”

“Money doesn’t matter! Your hand matters! What if you pass out? What if I crash?”

She understood his lack of confidence. Alex only had his permit. But she wasn’t worried. “You’re a good driver, Alex. It’ll be fine. We’re going now.”

Her parental authority won out. He got the keys as she struggled into the passenger seat of the car. Her hand throbbed magnificently… at least, the parts she could still feel. The part of her hand above the pinky and ring fingers was so deeply severed, there were no connected nerves remaining. She couldn’t move them at all. Funny how she hadn’t even noticed the damage she was doing until it was this deep.

 

They waited for a long time before the doctor came in. He looked at her hand, cleaned it up, and declared that her fingers would have a fifty percent chance of functionality after surgery. The odds of them still working after healing on its own? Only ten percent.

“What will surgery cost?” She said.

“Tough to estimate,” the doctor said. “At minimum, several thousand dollars. But your insurance will help with that. The receptionist can get you started on paperwork and give you an actual estimate.”

“Right,” she said. She looked at Alex, who already knew what she was thinking. He shook his head at her fiercely.

“Thank you, doctor,” she said formally.

When the doctor left the room, she got off the table, fought back a wave of nausea, and headed for the door. Alex boldly intercepted, blocking her exit. Sometimes she forgot how tall he was getting.

“Mom! Don’t you dare.”

He sounded so much like her. She would have laughed if she’d had the strength.

“It costs too much,” she said firmly.

“It doesn’t matter,” he retorted.

“Just take me home,” she said. “He said it might heal on its own.”

“No way.”

“And if it doesn’t, I don’t need those fingers anyway. I’ve got others.”

“You’ll stay here and get treatment!” He said, fists clenched in frustration.

She looked at her hand. It was already prematurely aged from worry. Now it was a ghoulish rainbow of mottled purple, sickly blue, weak white, screaming red. No good colors there. She looked at Alex, his rich chestnut hair and intelligent brown eyes. 

She had grown up poor. The constant worry of her childhood, the deprivation her family endured, were bitter memories. He would have everything she never had. All the money she scraped together was going into his college fund. There was no way she was going to send him into adulthood saddled with debt and the weight of a poverty mentality. She was willing to sacrifice a couple of fingers for that. For him.

“We’re going,” she said. She gingerly made her way past him and through the door, leaving him no choice but to follow.

“God damn it mom,” he said. He was trying not to cry. “Why won’t you just let them help you?”

“Language,” she chided gently.

 

That night, after putting his mom to a fitful sleep with a freshly bandaged hand, Alex lay down in his own bed, but his eyes would not close. A throbbing headache expanded in his right temple, pressuring the backs of his eyeballs, forcing neon geometry across his vision of the dark ceiling.

He got up, went to the bathroom medicine cabinet, and pulled out a bottle of painkillers. It was light in his hand, nearly empty. He often got headaches like this. These pills had become a comfortable friend to him.

How much did a bottle like this cost, again?

He sighed, ran his thumb longingly over the cap, then put the bottle back. If Mom could take that, he could take this. Money was too tight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dream: monsters and corn

 

This is a dream I had. It’s very random and silly, but it’s all I have written down that I like right now.


 

The house where we lived was infested.

Repeatedly throughout the day my kids would call to me, crying. “There’s a monster, mommy, there’s a monster!”

I would rush into the room. Whenever one appeared, the air would get strange, heavy, muted, like having ears stuffed with foam plugs or plunging underwater.

I could see the monster’s shadow under the door, or sometimes it would be even closer, about to harm the kids. It was made of twisted purple and raw red flesh, its head was stretched out of any human semblance, and it lacked a face. When I killed it with a slash, it would disappear, and the air would come back in the room.

This happened so much it became commonplace. The kids and I were the only ones who could see them.

One day a boss-level monster appeared. I opened the front door and there it was. It had a wild circular mane of red hair like a lion. Its nonexistent face was an oversized, blank, caucasian smear. It wore a horizontally striped t-shirt and shorts like kids in the 50’s wore, except its body underneath the clothes was wrongly lumped and muscled against the laws of biology.

It moved in glitches. It glitched past me and went straight for the kids, chasing them across the back lawn. They couldn’t outrun this thing. I ran to save them.

The dream changed. I was a boy with corn-on-the-cob hair. I was trying to sneak through the mall unnoticed, but my high school was having a grand parade right through the center. I’d lied to my girlfriend, telling her I couldn’t come to the parade, and she was sure to see me here, so I hid. Having been strengthened by my fights against the monsters in the earlier dream, I stuck to the ceiling and tried to clamber my way to the door. It was really nerve wracking though, because anyone who looked up would instantly spot me.

Then I saw the perfect hiding place: a float with a human-sized cob of corn. My natural camouflage. I landed right beside it, covered myself in corn, and lay as still as I could.

My friend saw movement and suspected. He came over and tried to sweep all the corn off of me. Panicking, and for lack of better options, I responded by pulling more corn over me. This went on for too long. 


 

Then someone woke me up!

Yes, we’d had corn with dinner that night. Also the beginning part of the dream was almost entirely lifted from the beginning of Hogfather, except the monsters were more like Stranger Things. Sometimes I wonder if I ever actually have an original thought.

Well, the corn cob hair might be too dumb to have been thought of before. Anyway… who cares.

Goodnight!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

Why it’s important to respect nature

 

Jeb was a park ranger. Bill was a sheriff.

One day Bill took Jeb out to lunch. They had a nice time. They fell in love. Marriage it wasn’t legal for them yet, so they moved to a cabin in the woods and taxidermied simple woodland creatures together. It was a happy life, until Jeb blew up.

Bill was in the cabin going through his glass eye collection when it happened. When he heard the blast, he immediately knew that Jeb was gone.

He sat quietly for a long time.

Then he got the keys to the Subaru, he got his shotgun, he got all the leftover dynamite, he packed himself a nice salami sandwich with mustard, and went to get his revenge.

The only recognizable thing he found at the site of the explosion were Jeb’s boots, standing upright in the center of a crater.

The remains of the truck were in orbit over Manitoba.

But Bill wasn’t sheriff for nothing. He was smart. He used his senses. He sniffed, he scratched, he dug, he burrowed, at last unearthing an ancient bunny burial burrow. Jeb must have unknowingly trespassed, incensing the wildlife, sealing his doom.

Bill stuffed all the dried up bunny mummies into the Subaru, loaded the burrow with dynamite, and blew their sacred area up the rest of the goddamn way.

Then he went home and feverishly worked on taxidermying the ancient bunny mummies all night, gluing them into embarrassing poses for all eternity, as he waited for the retaliation of the forest.

A scratching sounded at his door, but it was nothing. Only a stray mountain lion.

Just when dawn touched the horizon, the bunnies came for him.

Bill was prepared.

They tripped a wire in front of his cabin door.

BOOM.

Up went all the bunnies, Bill, his cabin, and six acres of woodland besides.

He got revenge. He left his mark. But he did not win, as he knew he wouldn’t. No man can defeat the Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

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