I needed money. Not to feed my family, or something that'd make me even slightly redeemable, but for dope.
So when a blackout Mercedes rolled up,window cranked down just enough to let the scent of cherry tobacco and scotch permeate the air, and a calm voice beckoned for a date, I got in.
It didn't matter that the car was far too nice for any good to come. It didn't matter that he was almost too well kempt, or that his eyes were so dark and hollow that you could see he'd relished in breaking and taking life. It didn't matter that his voice was far too even and far too calm to be anything but what he was.
It just didn't matter who he was, just a guaranteed jab.
Maybe it should have mattered. But it didn't, not at first.
It was when the doors clicked, that the drug lust took a back seat. Fight or flight had taken root. Each hair stood stiff, my mouth dry, eyes forcibly remaining as even as possible at the words that slipped from the serpents tongue.
“You're mine now”
It wasn't a sexual thing. It was calm, matter of fact. Suddenly, the highway was this vast stretch with no end in sight, the world outside full of listless souls. It all became clear, instantaneously.
"I'm not ready"
And without a second thought, I'd already thrust the sharp end of my heel straight into his temple, grappled the locks, and flown from the passenger side door. His howl escaped into the night with the screaming tires, and my hard thump on asphalt and tarnished grass. A laugh, a disembodied cackle from hell saturated the air, called out into the wind,
"You can't out run me"
But I ran.
I ran. Blindly through gravel and grass. Weeds whipping my feet into a bloodied frenzy of tracked up flesh.
I just ran.
Barefoot, scuffed up, trying to orient myself. I just ran. I couldn't look back. I should have stopped then. But I didn't. I went back and did it again.
I did worse things. I began to understand him, to understand how we become what we become, and my mind cleared. It all became so simple.
I took life indiscriminately. Collecting bits and pieces of each and every body. Teeth, tongues, fingernails, ribs, ears, and small bodily trinkets. Again and again and again. The heroin became a distant memory, filled by absolute unadulterated blood lust. I felt my eyes hollow, my voice relax, my smile bend unapologetically. And now I'm here.
Sitting at his feet, staring up at the scar I'd left some odd years ago, laughing. Relaxed. He knows that. He knows that before meeting my gaze.
The bar is always teeming with people and their idle chatter; it always feels like a mini metropolis within these four walls, where you can meet people from all walks of life. Young or old, healthy or sick - doesn't matter, at the end of the day, you're all here to share a nice, cold drink - and sometimes, a story.
The drink that I personally love making the most, and the one that has brought me city-wide praise, is the Bloody Mary. A fine mix of savory tomato juice and the strong alcoholic jolt of a good Vodka, mixed with salt, pepper and a hint of lemon juice.
At least, that's the classic way of doing that, but I have my own little recipe, one that's made me stand out among the competition. But what good is a secret if everyone knows it?
"HOSPITALS IN PANIC, AS THE RECENT INFLUX OF HIV INFECTIONS KEEPS RISING"
Gerald's watching the news on full blast again. "Turn it down a bit will you, Gerald?"
Funny thing about Gerald, is that he's HIV positive. Now you may be wondering - "Why the hell are you serving HIV patients? Aren't you gonna contaminate your bar?"
What foolishness. Why would I drive away my best, most paying customers? All the other bars in the city will kick them out like stray dogs; this feels like heaven to them. A place where they can still feel normal, and socialize with others.
A place where they can be happy. And you know what they say - a happy customer is a paying customer!
Besides, they all use their separate glasses, so no risk of contamination.
Ah yes, returning to my Bloody Mary! My dear, disease-trodden friends love it to bits. They say it makes them feel rejuvenated, and that the drink feels like a part of themselves. How wonderful.
The rest of the patrons have also given it a very warm reception. Some of them claim that the drink has a peculiar, metallic taste to it, but admit that it adds to its charm. And I couldn't agree more!
Well, it appears it's closing time. Time to go and do some of my volunteer work. Oh yeah! Did I mention that I volunteer at the local HIV clinic?
Gotta give back somehow, to my most loyal customers and this great city, you know! I wouldn't be here without them.
Well, that's all for now! I hope to see you at my bar someday! And remember to give my famous Bloody Marys a taste. ;)
Detective Perez swung her sledgehammer at the wall, which it penetrated with a brutal crunch. She did this repeatedly until there was a large, gaping hole. Behind the wall was a hidden space, which had been sealed off for over a decade. Cold, stale air leached slowly from the hole like a gas leak. When Detective Perez peered inside, her stomach twisted, both from excitement and the confirmation of her worst fears. Inside, on the floor, sat around a dozen urns, lined up neatly in rows.
She and her partner - Detective Brady - turned to look at Countess Highsmith, who was wearing a black dress with a high collar and a plunging neckline. She gazed back at them impassively.
'Anything you want to tell us, Countess?' asked Detective Perez.
The Countess merely raised one eyebrow.
The detectives made the hole wider, then Perez stepped through it. The air hung heavy with death. She knelt down next to the urns. They were admittedly very pretty, with lovely painted patterns swirling all over them. She tentatively opened the lid of one... empty. She began checking the others too - each of them were the same. She reported this to her partner.
Brady looked at the Countess. "Why do you have a bunch of empty urns - ?"
"Because there's nothing in them."
"Right. So why are they hidden in the wall?"
"Out of respect for the dead," said the Countess softly and cryptically. Then her blood-red lips broke into a wide, mocking smile. "Search the whole mansion, detective. You won't find what you're looking for."
Later, the Countess had tea with her friend, Lady Morbuck in the Great Room.
"Now they're digging up the grounds," said the Countess in a bored voice. "It was initially diverting, but the fun of it has worn off now."
Lady Morbuck clucked sympathetically. She wore a dead fox around her shoulders, and her withered hands were capped with sharpened nails painted black. "I love what you've done with this room, Regina. Wherever did you get all these pretty... vases?"
"Thank you, my love. They were custom-made a long time ago." Together they admired the various bright, intricate patterns. "They've been in storage, but now I think they're much better out in the open."
"Indeed! And are they ceramic?"
"China," said the Countess, as she absent-mindedly fingered her necklace made from human teeth - a "gift" from one of her late husbands. "Specifically, bone china."
I know it sounds crazy, but I promise you it's trus. That's the reason the spider gave me for ruining my life; she said it was to get back at me for squishing her mother.
I'm not even sure which spider she means. How am I supposed to recall every spider I've killed? You don't think about that sort of thing, do you? It was such a mundane act, and now she won't give me a moment's peace.
I've seen specialists, been to clinics, told every kind of doctor that I'm in trouble - that my days are numbered - but none of them take me seriously.
They each press for a psych evaluation, thinking that I must be paranoid schizophrenic or have a very extreme case of arachnophobia. No one will ever believe me, no matter how many tears I shed or how fervently I insist.
And the spider just keeps taunting me, and laughing. She keeps laughing, and telling me that no one will ever believe me. She says that she hid the eggs too well; that they are too far past my ear drum, and no doctor would even think to look so deep.
And as I sob into my pillow, wondering how many days I have left, I suddenly hear her begin to laugh at me again.
It's different this time - heartier- like she had been anticipating a joke before, and it's finally time for the punchline.
And then I hear a small, crackling sound. And her laughter is joined by another, and another, until my right ear is aflame with the chorus of a hundred laughing, vengeful offspring.
Ya know, I’m not very hard to figure out. If it’s two things people know about me, it’s that I like to live alone and I keep a clean house. I guess I just enjoy the idea of leaving and coming home to find things right where I left them. When I was going through college, against better judgement, I left my loving family behind and came back to ravaged and broken people. I hardly recognized them. While this is merely an anecdotal example, I think you get the point.
It was three days ago when I first began to notice it. I came home and something just didn’t feel right. I walked anxiously around the house examining it carefully. I had just moved in last week after finally finding a job locally. It was a blessing really. I snatched up this beautiful rustic home, loving the idea of owning a home with history. everything was unpacked and just the way I liked it. I made my second loop around the house and noticed a photo from my wall was missing. I thought for sure it was just nothing. Since then things have only gotten worse. I’ve been finding more and more objects turn up missing. Except not everything was exactly “missing,” at least not for very long. The phrase rings true “it’s gotta be somewhere”... but even if I don’t remember putting it there?
I don’t know how much time I’ll have to write today, but in case someone does find this journal. I AM NOT crazy!!! Somehow... I can’t figure out how… someone is breaking into my house and rearranging my things. Nothing is ever missing for more than a few days but it is ALWAYS turns up in the weirdest place imaginable.
My bed ...is in my kitchen.... I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!!!!! It isn’t even about having things where I want them anymore! the worst is knowing someone else has been in your house. Changing the locks has done nothing. Yesterday, I was home watching tv and decided to take a quick shower and came back to a teddy bear on my recliner. The scary thing is the teddy bear is not mine. The scariest thing? it definitely wasn’t there before I went for a shower.
I know now that this is no human. I woke up in the middle of the night. I sleepily crept to the fridge for water, except someone was already there. I realized pretty quickly that it was more like a something. The air around us felt bone cold and It had its back to me. Before I could run away, it’s head spun on its body giving me a cold stare with an even more sinister grin. I slept in the car. Later I ran some errands. I bought some lighters and Kerosene. One way or another this house will be just the way I left it.
I thought to myself, staring at the symbols on my left hand.
All I did was help an elderly woman carry her baggage to her car. It was just a random act of kindness.
I wasn't expecting anything in return.
I wasn't expecting her to tell me that I was going to die.
I wasn't expecting a timer to appear on my hand to keep track of it.
The old woman then said this before she left;
You should be thankful, young man. Humans become complacent in life, falsely assuming that their lifespan will be long and healthy, unknowing that their times can be much shorter than they think. By revealing your untimely death, I've given you the opportunity to avoid that path.
Live your remaining life to the fullest. Live without regrets.
The timer was the only thing keeping my denial in check. Nobody else could see it but me. It took a few days to accept this fact, but eventually I took action.
With 21 days left, knowing my death gave me enough courage to confessed to my crush in college.
I was unceremoniously rejected.
In hindsight I guess being rejected was the better option than being a couple for just a few weeks.
With 13 days left, I've been volunteering to be a dog walker for the shelters. I've done this enough times that they get excited when they see me in the shelter. If I had enough time I would've adopt one.
With 5 days left, I've gotten pretty close with my younger sister. This took a while, as she considered my change of attitude towards her very suspicious. Couldn't exactly tell her not my parents that I was going to kick the bucket soon with no proof to show.
Eventually she opened up to me and made me realise how little I actually knew about my younger sibling
And now here I am, just a few minutes before midnight, before my last day starts.
I've already went to my bank to make sure my sis inherited my accounts. I've written a note for my parents to see, explaining my situation and how much I loved them. Everything was set.
As I was getting ready for bed, my phone started to vibrate.
It was an emergency alert message from the government.
EMERGENCY! The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has reported that a Vesta-level asteroid is heading towards Earth. The asteroid is said to impact Earth within 24 hours...
Everything hurts. My thoughts are scrambled by a droning sound resembling millions of cicadas buzzing around in my head, and my body is broken and destroyed. I am dying, but the Reaper is taking his time getting to me.
My distressed son paces in front of me, holding the shotgun he used to turn everything below my kneecaps into pink mist. He is crying and babbling like a baby, and I don't blame him; if I had chained up and shot my parents in my basement I would be a mess too.
"It's not my fault, I didn't want any of this," he mumbled to himself. "I needed to do this. I told them not to leave the house for any reason. And what do they do? Do they the exact opposite of what I tell them!" I know he isn't speaking to me, but it doesn't feel like he is taking in his own words either. He turns and looks to me.
"I'm so sorry, mom." Tears are streaming down his face. He reaches into his pocket and pulls out two shotgun shells. Under any other circumstances, I would be screaming and pleading for my life. But now, my throat is far too dry to do anything besides let out faint wheezes. He takes aim at my head, just like he did with his father yesterday.
He had always loved me more. Yesterday, when my son shot my husband, he probably didn't even see him as human. Part of him was likely happy he was killing his dad. After the years of neglect, I can't really blame him. But I was not my husband. Through the years, I filled the void my husband's apathy created, and my son loved me for that. And now, he was going to shoot me in the head.
"No!" He screamed as he threw down his gun. I traced him as he walked back and forth in the basement. He was having a change of heart.
"You're my mother. I don't know why I thought you would hurt me. I don't know why I'm doing this. I love you, mom." He again walked over to me, and I begin to panic.
I wanted to tell him to stay away.
I wanted to croak out my death wish.
I wanted to turn away as he embraced my body in a hug.
But I failed.
As he kissed my cheek, I unwillingly returned his favor by using the burst of adrenaline and hatred the infection gave me to take a bite out of his face. If my body was still mine, I would have been bawling my eyes out. But my body was no longer mine, and soon, my son's wouldn't be his either.
He stumbles back in pain and confusion, beginning to convulse. The infection is taking hold of him. As I fall back defeated, still chained, I can't feel guilty. All I can feel is the buzzing controlling my broken body, and now, his.
The first whole eye transplant. That was me. It was in the news and everything.
I grew up blind. I had a terrible postnatal eye infection, so I never had any meaningful use of my vision. To be honest, I never really missed it because I never got a chance to know what I was missing. Some kids in class would tease me from time to time, but I don't think I got it nearly as bad as everyone else. In that way, it was a certain kind of blessing. Now that I'm an adult, I got myself a dog and a cane, and I'm sure I look a little badass strolling along in my aviators. I wouldn't know, of course.
Suicide changed all that. Not mine, of course. 28 year old guy, I'm told he was schizophrenic. Shot himself right in the chest with a shotgun, which seems terribly inefficient and error-prone to me. But it left his eyes whole, and with the advancements in science, I guess they just thought, "Fuck it, let's give it a shot."
Four hour procedure later, and I can see. Like, colors, shapes, objects, everything. It almost made everything worth it, all of the struggles, all of the shin contusions, everything. It was like a whole new world was opened up to me, full of bright, exploding possibilities. I may be able to drive. I can watch movies. I saw my wife and daughter for the first time. And I saw those terrible things that made that 28 year old take his own life.
They're in the corners of every room, up along the ceiling, grabbing the walls with their razor-like claws. They stare without eyes. Their teeth... oh god, so many teeth.
So now I'm left with a choice. I have a fork and a blowtorch. That's option one. I may be able to survive if I just try to take the damn things out. Certainly no one would dare help me. The only thing that's holding me back is the fear that maybe it won't work, that maybe they'd remain in the corners, knowing that now they could move around freely, now that my eyes would be gone once again. And then there's option two.
One thing is for sure: if I choose option two, I'm taking the eyes with me.
Don't look at this post any further, turn back to your inconsequential and existentially consistent understanding of the universe. Go back to your family, your friends, the ones who love and care for you. Don't do what I did. Don't dare to explore what lies beyond our perceptions. Just turn back and walk away. I will understand.
If you cannot, they don't say I didn't warn you, and continue on without regret, full of caution, and ever weary.
I was about twenty the first time I saw it. That darkness that hides in the furthest corners of our perception, the intermediary between our understanding of the universe, and our dreams. I saw it as clearly as you or me. It was without form, matter, or substance. It was infinite but also finite. Entropy given sentience. I reached out to it, and saw everything. The beginning, the end, and everything in between. It was like this thing WAS the universe. The blackness between the stars, and when the lights go out. The first thing we see as we breath life in this world, and the last thing we see before the end comes.
The darkness quickly retreated as I remembered my love for life. Everything I have to hold close to my heart shone through the darkness and gave me strength. But it will be back, as I laying dying I know it will come for me. I am scared, but also comforted by this fact.
You made me dinner like you always do. I gave you a kiss and dug in, eating it almost as fast as I could. We sat on the couch and watched TV, our nightly routine. Then, it was time for bed. I laid down next to you, stretching out in the comfort of the bed we’ve shared for the past few years.
I fell into a deep sleep, the world going black. It was a deeper sleep than I’ve had in a long time. Normally, I’m a light sleeper, awake and alert at the smallest of sounds. I just want to keep you safe.
Not this time. Tonight, I sleep like the dead.
I wake up feeling refreshed, but something isn’t right. A light breeze tickles my ear. I roll over and… you’re not there. Where am I?
This isn’t right. This isn’t right at all.
I sit up in a panic, on high alert. I call out to you, but there’s no answer. I stand up, my legs shaky. How long have I been asleep?
I’m out in the middle of nowhere. I spin in a circle, seeing only trees. Wait, there. A road.
I walk out of the woods, confused and disoriented. I don’t recognize this at all.
I put my nose to the ground and sniff around, trying to catch your scent. Anything.
There! I smell you. I start trotting in the direction of the smell. I see a box in the distance and run over. It’s some of your old clothes! They smell just like you, but when I look around, you’re nowhere to be found.
I whimper as I sit in the road, looking sadly off into the distance.
Did I do something wrong? Was I not what you wanted?
I whine quietly as I walk back into the woods. I curl up at the base of a tree, shivering slightly as I watch the box. You’ll be back for the clothes, right?