Posts tagged Horror

Kieran’s Jellyfish

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The gull stabbed at the bread with its beak. Kieran threw another slice. Then another.

A second gull landed and nudged its rival aside from the free lunch. The first bird lunged at the usurper and they exploded in a flurry of wings and feathers.

‘Kieran, don’t!’ his mother said.

‘Nothing but vermin, them creatures,’ his stepfather remarked from behind the daily paper.

Kieran turned from the gulls to the bright, shimmering shore. Scores of families had set up camp for the day. Everywhere he looked he saw overweight Mums and Dads, small children building sandcastles, dogs yapping. A nearby group of youths, a mix of lean boys and girls in undersized bikinis, were laughing aloud at some secret joke. There was no one Kieran’s age.

Kieran was eleven, a small dark-haired boy with eyes the colour of emeralds and a habit of squinting. His vision was perfect, but somehow the world seemed better through narrow eyelids.

The gulls ripped the bread to crumbs. They screeched in disappointment and flapped away. Kieran returned his attention to Mum and Archie.

He squinted at his mother. She looked a lot like him, except her locks were lighter and her eyes a dull brown. Archie, now in his third month as Kieran’s official stepfather, was a porky man with shiny bald pate, a greasy moustache and eyes as big as golf balls.

‘Feel free to wonder off, Kieran,’ Archie said, lowering his newspaper.

‘You’re so thoughtful, Archie,’ Mum added. “Kieran doesn’t want to hang around all day with crocks like us.’

Archie’s wide-eyed scowl burned into his stepson as if to say ‘clear off, I want your mother to myself, with no dumb kids in the way.’ Kieran retaliated with a frown, but his resolve melted faster than ice cream in the sun. He had to be careful. Archie’s temper was like a lurking crocodile. Kieran never knew when it would erupt from the depths and strike.

Kieran turned down his lower lip and threw his mother a look. She didn’t notice.

‘Yup, okay,’ he said at last, collecting his bucket and spade and stumbling off.

Kieran walked towards the far end of the beach, where jagged rocks broke through the sand like razors. As he came closer the sound of the holidaymakers faded.

The rocks were deserted.

‘Here there be monsters,’ he remarked in a glum voice.

He stopped at the first slab of basalt and rubbed the back of his hand across his lips. His flesh reeked of sunshine and sweat, summoning up a memory from last year.

Last year with Dad.

The two of them had explored this slanted world, charting rock pools, hunting crabs, inventing stories. Dad liked to pretend each sea-puddle was an uncharted lagoon teeming with bloodthirsty creatures. Everything was fun.

“Here there be monsters”, Dad used to say, over and over, grinning his cheeky grin and pushing back his wispy hair.

But Dad was gone now, Mum had seen to that. Mum and Archie.

Kieran sighed and inched nearer to his favourite rock pool. He knew from his explorations with Dad that this was the largest, the size of a paddling pool. A glassy underworld where fish and crustaceans lurked in seaweed jungles.

‘Here there be monsters,’ Kieran mumbled sadly, kneeling down on the stony rim.

He sat very quietly, as his father had taught him, and watched as the pool revealed its inhabitants. Small fish darted from side to side, searching for an escape back to the Atlantic. Shrimps glided over the sand like submarines. Limpets clung to the rock, hard as stones. Ruby red anemones trailed poisonous fronds in the water.

There! A slender, silvery young crab scuttled into the shadow of the rocks.

Kieran beat his chest in best King Kong fashion.

‘I am the giant of doom. Come to destroy-oh!’

A severed claw popped out.

‘Who’s snacking on you then?’ Kieran remarked to himself.

He waited. The minutes ticked away. Then, as he was about to give up and move on, something stirred. He almost missed it. A ripple in the sand, nothing more.

He hunched over the pool and lowered his head to the surface. A crescent of translucent skin had emerged from its hiding place, then halted. Perhaps it had seen him?

Kieran leaned back and froze every muscle in his body. More moments passed. The creature began slowly drifting out, across the sandy floor.

‘A jellyfish!’ he said. At least he thought it was a jellyfish. It reminded him of all the dead jellyfish scattered along the shoreline. Revolting blubber pancakes. This creature had a similar appearance. A circle of clear flesh, riddled with veins and dark spots.

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From The Earth

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They were everywhere. Each corner Leanne turned, her stomach lurched at the sight of another friend screaming in agony as hordes of the undead pulled and chewed at flesh and bathed in blood. For Leanne, it had stopped being about winning a long time ago. Now, all she wanted to do was survive long enough to see the light of day again. To see her family again. But as each second passed, salvation receded further and further out of reach. Soon enough, hope was a distant memory and the only thing left to keep her going was adrenaline, and it was running out, fast. As if sensing the end, Leann’s body started giving out, legs twanged and snapped with each step and every breath became more laboured than the last.

Finally, too bloody and bruised to carry on, Leanne slowed from a panicked sprint to a defeated stumbling. With almost all options exhausted, she gave into darkening dread and dropped to her knees at the mercy of one of the surrounding cameras and begged until she could cry no more. But all the camera did was look down at Leanne in pity, and the omniscient voice that once droned in the ear like a bee, was as quiet as a tomb. Leanne’s fate had been sealed. It was over. It was all over. Almost on que, waves of the undead began pouring in from both sides of the hallway, trapping Leanne in the middle like a sitting duck. Against the crescendo of Leanne’s beating heart, the undead inched closer and closer until all she could see was bared teeth and soulless eyes.

Her scream was like a gunshot.


As Leanne was torn limb from limb, Marcus and Ali clapped and cheered triumphally – the bitch was dead. As Marcus switched from camera to camera to ensure not a single spurt of blood went unseen in glorious high definition, Ali scrolled through and read each and every comment beneath the live stream on the website. Laughs and giggles laced his every word.

BiggWolf69: The bitch had it coming…

BritishBullDog11: Gutted. I had money on Leanne to make it out.

Long’n’Juicy:  Best show on the internet!

BuggzBunne: That’s it, I’m applying for the next season. I could out survive these spoilt rich kids, easy…

DonaldTopTrumps: @BuggzBunne, No, you couldn’t. Leanne kicked ass!

I really think she could have made it out, she just gave up too early.  

BuggzBunne: @DonaldTopTrumps, You don’t know what I’m capable of.

I’m ex-marine, bitch.

DonaldTopTrumps: @BuggzBunne, Ex-marine? Right… and I am the real Donald Trump.

JohnDoe88: I wish we still had dead heads in Britain! We killed the last of ours too quickly.

We could have had fun shit like this if we hadn’t. #BringBackTheDead   

Biscuit00001: @JohnDoe88, Fun shit? Watching the undead get exploited and butchered for mere entertainment is ‘fun shit’? You are fucked up.   

BiggWolf69: @Biscuit00001, Looks like we have a DeadLib p*ssy in our ranks, boys.

RealNi88er: @Bisucit0001, Get the F*ck out of here. They are dead, we can do

what we want to them. And the ‘human beings’ signed up for this…

As Ali continued to read through the comments section, Xanadu found himself increasingly feeling feint and lightheaded. He even had to close his eyes to help stop his head from spinning, which did not go unnoticed around the room.

Usually, it was Xanadu reading the comments aloud with macabre glee. However, in the last couple of weeks, he had been struggling to rustle up anything approaching enthusiasm for the bloodbaths. Some days, when it really got bad, Xanadu had to flee the room to avoid vomiting right there and then. Once in the hall, he would stay there until the survivors escaped or the last body had been devoured.

Because of his sudden, and stark, aversion to the violence of the game show, Xanadu had become a pariah in the control room and office. So much so that, unless it was absolutely necessary, no one spoke to him or even looked in his direction. And, when he wasn’t in the room, his colleagues often joked about knocking him out cold and locking him in the House of Horrors to fend for himself. But, as much as everyone had grown to hate him, there was nothing that could be done – Xanadu was the boss.

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The Storyteller

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She reached out. He was nestled under the duvet but, if she wriggled her fingers enough, she could just about touch his back – a small spot beneath his right shoulder blade. Awareness of her sudden daring thickened her breathing. There, she’d done it. The warmth of another human being emanated from the sleeping skin just under her fingertips, in turn filling her with borrowed heat.

Holding her own breath she felt the pulse of his. She exhaled, trying to match her rhythm to that of her sleeping husband.

Softly, pioneering fingers were joined by the heel of her hand. She realised that it now occupied a spot she couldn’t remember ever having touched before. She must have done so at some point of course; after all, they had been married for over thirty years. Somehow though, the touching had stopped. Try as she might, she couldn’t remember when.

His breathing changed and he moved. She withdrew as if scalded. Now they were separated again, she didn’t know why she had felt such a strong need to reach out in the first place. Casting her mind back a short while, she seemed to remember being stuck in a grey, featureless Broadstairs High Street. It was a place she knew well but, in the here and now of her dreamscape, the familiar setting had been stripped of all colour.

As her mind started filling in more of the details, a memory of extreme thirst slammed into her. She seemed to recall desperately trying to reach the multitudes of colourful bottles and other goodies on display in the shop windows. Enticed by wares that were sparkling like jewels she had tried to get into one shop and then the next. But, it was the same everywhere; doors were closed and windows barred. The High Street had turned into an arid place of wandering, with nowhere to assuage her thirst.

Then, she remembered suddenly catching a glimpse of brilliant red out of the corner of her eye. It had come while she was unsuccessfully wrestling with the door on Crusties the bakers. And, although she hadn’t been sure, it had seemed as though a figure, clad in top to toe vermillion, was turning the corner into the town’s other main thoroughfare, Queen’s Road. In the expanse of monochrome dullness, the flash of warmth it afforded was heartening; something that both was and wasn’t but, at the same time, offering the promise of something real. So, girding metaphorical loins, she followed.

Shortly afterwards, she found herself back in bed again; the need to touch her husband; to feel that there was life beyond herself, overwhelming in its intensity.

He had started snoring now. Worried that his loud, rattling breaths would wake the neighbours she tentatively reached out again, bringing her hand to rest on the soft flesh at the top of his arm. Leaving it there this time, she must have sunk into a deep sleep as, when as she opened her eyes next, the first rays of a spring sun were pushing their way through the slatted venetian blinds of the shared bedroom.

Reluctantly her gaze was drawn to the corner of the room where a desk, situated just in front of one of the Victorian sash windows, was slowly being infused with the golden glow of the morning. It had only been yesterday evening that another ‘ever-so polite’ agent Email had popped up on her screen – informing her that her novel was being rejected for the thirtieth time. Deciding then and there that she wanted to match this landmark occasion with some kind of action on her part, she had conceived of the plan to replace her writing space with a dressing table.

She remembered re-reading the damning Email for the umpteenth time while wistfully fingering the dreamcatcher hanging from the bookshelf – kept for books she thought would inspire her best ideas.  Having returned with her from a visit to Vancouver, the flat, woven disk with its trailing feathers paid homage to a First Nation cultural heritage. Over time she had come to believe that it inspired and directed her writing.

Propping herself up on her pillows, she looked over at it again; supposing as she did so that, she ought to put it away somewhere also. After all, once the furniture was rearranged, there was no need for it to be there anymore. Anticipating that, in order to complete the removal, she would need all the strength her, decidedly flaky, fifty-five-year self could muster, she turned to get some more sleep. Oddly though, the dreamcatcher seemed to demand her attention, the soft light of its red beads insinuating itself behind her eyelids, even as she was trying to close them.

Finally, driven out of bed to peer at it more closely, she noticed that the colour of the beading in fact, matched the red she had followed in her dreams. Even the webbed pattern of the leather tugged at that half-memory. A sudden wave of emotion robbed her of strength, and she found herself needing to lean on her desk for support. After a few moments in this vaguely supplicant position, she couldn’t help but run regretful fingers over the closed laptop in front of her. It was here that keystrokes had infused her characters and places with life and purpose – while keeping her own hopes and dreams safe within its silver confines also.

She glanced down at the bongo drums she had used to frame some of the narrative and actions of Martha, the middle-aged failure whose transformation her book had been built around. Oddly, the drumming that had started as research had ended up bringing a greater sense of direction to the book as a whole. Not that she had ever dared play them when anyone else was in the house, of course!

Well, she was used to endings. And, at least, she had done what she set out to do. Her book was finished and if it wasn’t possible to get to market, so be it. In the same way that she had dealt with the bereavement of her two children leaving home, yesterday she had closed the lid on her life as a storyteller.

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53 Melville Square

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The Devine house was old. All the houses in that part of Belfast were – old buildings, old families, old money. They were big too, big and cold. They had fireplaces in every room, though few that worked – they just let the wind whistle through and kept the rooms in a frozen stasis. In my experience, wealthy people don’t mind the cold. It’s as if they use it to measure your endurance and character. That home was freezing, but it was furnished with the most modern of furniture and appliances – stereos and TVs controlled by voice command, intercom’s in every room and cameras that blinked red in every corner. No expense had been spared on the place, and yet it was bitterly cold.

I was their housekeeper, a vague title with constantly changing responsibilities. They’d inherited me from an uncle – a mean man who’d died the way he’d lived, in misery, moaning and groaning and cursing me and anyone else who cared to listen. The young Mr Devine was a barrister. Mrs Devine worked in finance. They were young and ambitious – all appearance, status and money. They were quiet and detached and made no small talk. They allowed me to work on my own initiative – which I was more than capable of doing.

And that is how it went, until last week, when Mrs Devine came home early, red-eyed and wet-cheeked. She threw herself onto the settee and sobbed. A miscarriage. Her fifth. I could think of no words to soothe her, so I simply stood there, watching mutely. The next day Mr Devine took her to their holiday cottage in Wexford. That left me on house sitting duty. And that is how I found myself alone, standing in the doorway, watching them drive away, uneasy at the thought of being by myself in that house.

I cleaned for a while, although my heart was not in it. But I needed some time, doing what I always did, before I could settle into my new role as a house-sitter. As the darkness inched its way across the sky, I opened a bottle of wine, but still I could not settle. With a desire to hear a familiar voice, I phoned my sister, but she did not answer. I finished my glass and had another, then I ran myself a bath. I had always loved that bath – a big cast-iron thing with a curved end and feet that made it look indulgent. I sank in and let the warm water calm my thoughts.

The buzz of the intercom made me jump.

Then the front door slammed shut.

Panic hit me like a firework.

I bolted upright and scrambled out of the bath, grasping for a towel. I felt like an intruder as I raced through the bathroom door.

Wet-footed and shivering in the hall, I called out a stuttering, “Hello!”

No answer.

The light sensor activated, illuminating the stairs.

I peered over the balustrade.

No one was there.

I checked every room, creeping hesitantly through each door, calling softly to announce my presence.

I was alone.

I checked the doors again. They were all locked. I thought that my mind was playing tricks on me, that the creepy old house and the wine had combined to unnerve me. I cursed myself for being so foolish.

I decided to settle myself with the rest of the wine and watch some TV in the sitting room. I must have fallen asleep, as I woke there, shivering to my bones with the TV still on. Checking my phone, I saw that it was three minutes after midnight. I was half asleep, but I felt … strange, as if I was not alone. The house was silent. There was no sound from the TV. Had I done that? Had I turned it down? But it was more than the TV. There was no sound anywhere. It was like being in a vacuum. My ears searched for the familiar, but there was nothing. No clocks ticked. No taps dripped. In such an old house there were no floorboards creaking, no pipes whining – even the whistling fireplaces had fallen silent.

My breath froze before me, hanging in the air.

And then came the noise.

A banging and crashing, as if an anvil had been thrown down the stairs.

The hairs on my arms stood to attention. Adrenaline raced through my limbs, and my body tensed expectantly, readying itself for what was to come.

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The Hall Of Geological Personifications

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In the Hall of Geological Personifications the assembled periods were arguing, as always. Atomic fire sparkled in the fireplace while lightning buzzed and crackled in the air, which smelt strongly of ozone. Pale light filtered through the arched, narrow windows, though not from any star we know.

The Triassic period, a feisty young female wearing a glossy dress made from green nothosaur hides stitched together with seaweed, rose to her feet. ‘Am I not inimitably wondrous and fine?’ she asked the gathering, one hand on her shapely hip. ‘I created the first dinosaurs, the most spectacular land animals which ever existed. Not to mention lizards, turtles and crocodilians.’

‘What nonsense,’ lisped a watery female voice. The Devonian period stamped her slipper, the same pale blue as her crinoline dress. The Carboniferous chuckled to himself, his white teeth gleaming against his coal-black skin. Both ladies were rivals for his affections.

Just then the Anthropocene shambled into the hall. A cigarette smouldered in his trembling fingers, his grey eyes peered out of dark hollows and his thinning black hair hung lank on the shoulders of his greasy raincoat.

‘Ah, it’s the Anthropocene,’ boomed the Silurian, in his scaled cloak of coral. ‘The youngest of us all. How goes the world in your care?’

The Anthropocene shuddered and coughed, as if he had been tramping hard streets on a frosty winter’s night. ‘Not well,’ he muttered. ‘Not well at all. Why was it my fate to be ruled by a species determined to destroy both me and themselves?’

‘You are a strange era,’ said the Cretaceous, shaking his head. ‘Most of us end through some external agency or accident – continental drift, climatic changes – ’

‘And asteroid strikes,’ said the Eocene, grinning.

‘Yes,’ said the Anthropocene, stamping out his cigarette. ‘I will be the first period to be terminated by its own inhabitants. Ungrateful wretches! At this rate I’ve got five good decades left in me. Then it’s the end of all organic life – as nearly happened to you, Permian.’

The Permian, a thin woman with pale eyes and mousey hair, nodded bleakly before popping two pills into her mouth and swallowing hard.

‘If it’s all too much for you, let me take over,’ said the Technocene strongly. ‘Once the world is under a single machine intelligence, all your problems of pollution and overconsumption will simply fade away.’

‘It’s already too late for that,’ replied the Anthropocene, with a heavy sigh. ‘Unless you want to be a lifeless wasteland, I need a good few decades yet.’

‘You’ll turn it around, Anthropocene,’ said the Holocene, a hearty old fellow with a great sandy beard, jocular face and gleaming bald head. ‘Most of us ended through some external agency, not through things within us.  There are ways and means of managing your own creations – ’

‘You don’t understand,’ said the Anthropocene, shaking his head. ‘Humans aren’t giant sloths or flying reptiles but the smartest animals that ever existed. I am unique in being named after my inhabitants and there’s good reason for that. They have transformed me in their image as no other animal could.’

‘Have you ever considered re-educating them?’ asked the pre-Cambrian, a wild-eyed eccentric who painted abstract pictures in his spare time.

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Darkout – 2020 Vol 1

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Darkout – 2020 Vol 1, 9 Horror and Fantasy Shorts from the January 2020 Publication.

The collection includes stories from:

Francesca Taylor, a writer from UK, Winner of our “2019 Horror, Fantasy, Gothic, Mystery and Adventure Short Story Contest” and author of horror short story, “A Letter From The Grave”:

“I like to leave the end open and questioning, whether that be with a character’s death or something else…”

Katherine Duncombe from Canada, author of horror short story, “Evil Eyes”:

“…short stories as dreams, or, in the case of horror stories, as nightmares.

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In The Shadow Of The City

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Like any good-natured and truthfully contributing member of society, Francis Draft had always suffered from semi-frequent bouts of hallucinations.  These were not of the in-your-face, cartoon pink elephant montage, snapping demons on the subway variety.  They were much more subtle, and sometimes even appreciable, if Francis was in a good mood.  Passers-by giving strange, often frightening glances that were in truth imagined.  Perhaps a third eye appearing on their forehead or one of their cheeks, a live-action breathing Picasso.  Maybe he’d see pointed, glistening teeth in the beak of a cawing raven, or fiery demonic intelligence glittering behind the eyes of a rat.  The shadow of a UFO in the corner of his eye, or even just a flicker of odd-colored light.

In short, he was used to it.  The fantastic and confusing had become mundane and ordinary, and he thought he didn’t let it affect him beyond a certain colorful touch in his columns which would raise the occasional eyebrow.

With this acceptance of the grotesque, it seemed that it would take quite a bit to shock Francis Draft into his current state, that of a raving, bug-eyed lunatic, head wrapped in tinfoil, crouched behind an IKEA furniture barricade in a dusty apartment, double-barreled shotgun clutched in shaking hands.

When he was lucid enough to reflect on his degradation, usually squatting in the darkness, facefirst in a cup of half-cooked ramen, Francis could dimly decide that it had begun when he was shifted from his small-town newspaper – with such headlines as “Officer Martin Recommends that Citizens Cut Down Branches Obscuring Stop Signs” – to the big city, ostensibly a promotion.

“Good luck, Draft,” his old boss told him when he heard the news.  He chuckled, adding; “that city will eat you alive.”

Francis shuddered remembering that line, curling up in his haphazard, dark, whiskey-stained womb, the shotgun still clutched against his chest like a funeral bouquet.  He watched nervously as cockroaches scuttled about the tightly-closed shutters at the edge of his vision.

Yes, it had all begun when he’d been summoned to that litter-lined maze, the smoky and dense jungle of steel and concrete and transportation, buzzing lights and screaming horns.

He remembered the day he took the exit from the countryside highway, experiencing the initial shock at the abrupt shift of surroundings.  It seemed that there was a thin line crudely drawn between cornfields and this sudden, great looming grey thing, the twisted centipede of roads and highways.  Smoke billowed forth from smokestacks, ruinous poison breath from a cyclopean metal monster.  The highrises poked through this cacophony of smog and concrete, thick spiderlegs in the misty air.

Francis’ musings were not quite so fanciful at first sight, but there was a strange, unnerved sense that filled him as he approached the place.  His life had been a stream of suburban and rural living, with the city being where he went for the occasional concert, slinking away after the show like a trespassing spy on foreign shores.

Now the beast stood before him, and he was expected to live in its belly.  Taking one white hand off the wheel, he shoved a cigarette in his mouth.

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His Heart

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John died the same day Jenny’s name moved up on the waitlist. She’d waited three months to reach the top of that list, and was unconscious for most of it. I didn’t see any difference whether she was the one to receive his heart or not. It could’ve been anybody. ‘His last act on earth will be to save the life of another’ is what everybody kept saying, or some variation of it at least. I don’t know why they thought I would care. When my grandfather died and my nephew was born a month later, it was the same thing. My grandmother’s suffering wasn’t any less because of it, but her new life contained more ups and downs than before. I wasn’t receiving any ‘ups’ from the death of the only other person in the world who loved me. Jenny’s life was completely disposable compared to John’s, of course it would be. Like I said, it could’ve been anybody, and anybody’s life would have meant less than nothing next to my husband’s. But still, it was his life taken randomly and given to her.

Technically, it was the second time that he should have died. Long before we met, when John was a teenager, he and his skateboard were sent flying in a hit and run that by all means should have killed him. It wasn’t until he’d hit thirty-two and was inside the car that fate would come back to claim him. I wondered at that. In some parallel dimension, he’d died at seventeen. And in another, he’d never been hit at all. And in another, he was still here, with a rebroken femur and twenty more stitches holding together his skull. But I was in this one. This one where he survived only to meet me and become the one human being that made me feel like a person, only to be taken in his prime. It’s nothing to say I would die for him. I don’t and never have cared much for my own life, an early onset of depression untreated for decades will do that to you. I would’ve died for my cats. But there was nothing I could do to trade my life for John’s. The prospect I had now was to at least join him. It was repulsively unfair that I should go about my life while he, empty-chested, laid in the ground. What made me so special?

I’d thought about this moment before. Everytime he stood at the curb, or leaned into the subway tunnel to look for the train, or walked on red towing me behind him, I thought of it. What if something happened to him? What if, in a split second, he was mangled under a semi, unrecognizably torn into nothing but fleshy meat, while I melted into the cement wishing to all god I had a gun in my hand? I’d thought about the situation multiple times. John, lying in a hospital bed, legally dead save for his lungs pumping and heart beating, while doctors and family talked over ‘the next steps’. I’d be on that hospital roof in a flash. Every ounce of love and grief I had for him would smash into the pavement at the same time my body did. But that’s not how it happened. John had decided to be an organ-donor.

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A Letter From The Grave

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I remember how cold I was, how scared. My eyes opened slowly, heavy from whatever drugs you had poisoned
me with. Damp, dark and freezing; those are the words I used to describe the stone room I awoke in. You were
not there when I woke up, though, it was just me and my thoughts.

Relief poured through my tired body when I heard footsteps; I should have known they would be yours.

Before the first girl arrived, I was lonely and scared, in constant fear of what you would do when you came in next. You never spoke, just watched as I ate, as I drank, as I cried. You watched with a confused expression on your face as if you had never seen a real human before. It scared me.

The First Girl

You always picked the pretty ones. The first girl to arrive after me was Robyn, black hair swinging as she fought you; punching, kicking, scratching and scraping. Until you injected her with something, and she fell to the floor like a rag doll her head cracking painfully on the concrete.

I remember being mesmerised by her clear, pale skin; her black hair and plump lips. It made me feel worthless with my bruises and flat, brown hair.

She arose angry, cursing at you again and again until her voice cracked.

She wouldn’t speak to me though. She just sat and stared, analysing. It wasn’t until she saw the littering of bruises on my skin that she started to warm to me.

It was the next day that she finally conversed with me, her voice dry and cracked – yet she’d refuse to drink any water. “I’m not touching anything that that creep gives us,” She would say, determined, “I’d rather die.”

The next day she guzzled the whole bottle of water in one sitting.

The Second Girl

Abbey was next, her arrival like a kick to the throat. I remember looking at her school uniform and clenching my fists so hard that my nails broke the skin.

She was still drugged as you yanked her through the large metal door, murmuring nonsense into your empty chest. Robyn, who was much braver than me, lunged at you. You dropped the young girl on the floor to backhand Robyn around the face. This was the first time you ever hit one of us.

Abbey cried a lot that day, wet, incurable sobs that racked through her tiny frame. It felt good to comfort someone.

We didn’t eat until Robyn went to her knees to apologise.

The Third Girl

Lily was next. Beautiful of course, and scarred – jagged lines marking from wrist to elbow. Robyn didn’t fight this time; her punishment was still too vivid, the memory of you in her mouth too rich. Witnessing the limp woman, dropped like trash at her feet, made Abbey cry again.

You wrinkled your nose. “Don’t cry,” You said, “It’s ugly.”

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