Whiskey burns the back of my throat as I exhale, settling my gaze on the placid man before me.
A shadow of what he was before.
Because, before, he had light. Had life. Something to look forward to. Something to hold on to. Back then, he thought he was tough-shit. Thought he was the bee’s knees. The cat’s meow. Thought he was something better than the rest of us, stepping on anyone and everyone to get his way. Rabidly pursuing any who thought differently, who dared to try and make him face fact.
Before, he was confident.
Stood proud. Stood tall.
Now he cowers, a glare dying in the corner of his eye. Weak, because he knows.
I am the one who snuffed that light.
The one he should’ve left alone.
The one creature that he wasn’t tougher than.
I was the one who showed him that he wasn’t anything special. That he was no bigger than a sneeze. And, I’ll be the one to seal his fate, too.
To steal the son. Continue reading “Consequences”
It wasn’t safe.
It had never been safe.
As I stare at the climbing trees and listen to the birds toss their remarks back and forth, I realize that.
It’s never been safe here.
And, honestly, I think I knew that all along. Because, really:
This is a jungle, after all.
A burning jungle. Continue reading “Burning Jungle”
Glowing yellow eyes.
Glistening teeth set to snarl, to snap.
Fur bristling, angry to the touch. Pointed, directed. Speaking clearly.
It bunches up its shoulders, the massive beast. I see more pink flesh as its lips pull further back, pearly in the moonlight. It’s jaw is slightly ajar, drool beginning to pool at the sides of its mouth.
Against its tongue.
Dripping from its massive, sharp teeth.
It snarls again, the sound jagged as it rips through the air. Warning me once more.
The beast’s claws snap a branch, reminding me that there’s more to him than fang and fur. More damage he can do. More ways than one to skin a cat, so to speak.
But I see what lies under the snarls, too.
Under the bristling fur, there’s a softer coat.
Those eyes that rove the landscape behind me, that sift through the trees, they’re not just suspicious, not just threatening.
They’re scared. Continue reading “Chimaera”
The thing about being a Nightwalker is:
You have to face the terror.
Visceral, pounding blood. Bones that crack beneath the weight of too much adrenaline. An impending knowledge that you, among these toothy tombs, are as strong as a twig against a mighty wind.
You are a Nightwalker. One who walks through the dreams of the despairing. Who can clamber up, and down—move among the dwelling horrors of the twilight hour.
A Nightwalker sees a nightmare.
And he can’t look away.
A Nightwalker, in order to survive, must keep moving. Must keep burning. Must keep fighting.
You must face the terror.
Perish. Continue reading “Nightwalker”
When the cat split—it’s head growing, morphing, slowly tripling all of its features—that’s when I realized:
It probably wasn’t a cat. Continue reading “Splitting the Difference”
I can feel the wind.
I have seen the clouds form and break. Seen the sky crack and crush thousands. Watched the earth shatter and split, spilling hundreds of lives right into the abyss. I have heard the war cries, heard the drums, the clanking of shields and the splintering of spears. Watched the dark beasts rise, and seen the dragons of blood and bone call us to Hades’s grip.
I have seen all these things. Watched death vomit its curse up, over whole fields, whole towns, whole cities.
I have seen many, many battles.
Fought in many long wars.
I can feel the wind rise, and die. It’s breath becomes just a whisper on my skin.
Just like the rest of us.
Just like me.
I have won this battle, but…
I don’t think I’ll win another.
I’m done for. Continue reading “Battle Born”
Whenever I passed the bog, I made sure to avert my eyes. Made sure to walk quietly, move quickly. When possible, I avoided the bog. Skipped that part of the woods altogether.
No one told me that it was dangerous. Nobody explained what lurked in the water. What kind of things belonged to bogs. No one had to. I just knew:
I didn’t want to find out. Continue reading “Bog Monster”
They thought they could change me. That immersing me in this… darkness… would help. That it would make things different. Fix me. Shatter the thing that claws. That bites. They thought they could break the beast within me by plunging me into memories. By trying to change what I know. Change my experience. Eliminate the past.
I told them this wouldn’t work.
I’m all for destroying the beast inside—believe me, I am—but…
I want to do it right. Correct. Vanquish the beast completely.
I know the beast within. I know it well.
After all—this beast within?
It’s just me.
And I knew:
This wouldn’t work. I told them very directly, very plainly.
This won’t work.
I wasn’t wrong. Continue reading “Beast Trigger”
I could hear the moaning outside. The tell-tale sign that something was happening. Growing in the dark of the night. A moaning that was not made by any person. I could hear it, the wolves howling into the night. Piercing through our houses, our homes. Warning us:
It comes tonight.
Run, if you dare. Hide, if you can. Do what you must to survive.
They come tonight. Continue reading “Air Raid”
“Did you see it?! Did you see?!”
“I knew it! I was right, wasn’t I? It’s a ghost, right? Right?”
Looking back at the house—the empty mansion that sat in between the clearing and the woods—I saw the eyes again. In the upper floor’s window, I saw the yellow eyes. The lingering feeling of something lost. Of something in need of being found.
I could not say what it was.
“I don’t think it’s a ghost,” I said, crushing my friend’s hopes and dreams, quite coincidentally, really. “It doesn’t feel like a ghost.”
Ghosts don’t have that feeling of needing to be found, do they? When a ghost lingers, they linger for a reason. They aren’t lost, they don’t need to be found. They simply wish to be left to their own purposes. Left to fulfill their perceived duty.
They don’t look lost.
They don’t need to be found.
And they don’t look scared out of their whits.
Do they? Continue reading “Lost, But Not Found”