How It Ended for Jasper Malyhe

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The reservations were going to be wasted, but there was no helping that. It was a good thing he hadn’t mentioned them to Kitty. She would be at home right now dolling up, excited to have a break from the boxed dinners and shoe-string meal plans.

Jasper drug himself down the busy city street. His hand loosened his tie with a series of merciless yanks, hating the way the tie felt. Too tight. Everything felt too tight, constricting. One hand was in his pocket, fingering the loose change there. He had crumpled up his resume’ while he was still inside Danworth and Mitchell’s lobby; he hadn’t bothered to throw it away. Let it sit on the buffed tile floor. The janitor would see to it; that man had a job.

He moved forward with his head down, not really thinking or hearing or caring. This had been his millionth interview. Ever since the Great Recession, it seemed like all of his degrees weren’t worth the paper they were printed on. He hated the hopeful gleam in Kitty’s eyes every time he went out. The pressure of that hope made it hard for him to breathe. And day after day; when he returned with this beaten expression, that hope briefly winked out, and looking in her eyes was like looking into a dark room.

What he hated the most was when that gleam vanished, when he felt like less than a man.

“Flee! Flee before the rising terror. Hear this final call and turn your heart from evil!” a man was crying out.

Jasper looked for the voice, realizing that he had been hearing the man’s crazy words for more than a minute. Jasper stopped; he stood in the middle of the sidewalk while people instinctively routed around him. Everyone was bundled in heavy coats and scarves. Jasper barely felt the winter cold.

“It is the end!” the man yelled out. “Death is no longer waiting at the door. He’s letting Himself in!” The man was dirty. His hair was stringy and slick with grease. His coat had patches on it, holes. His brown beard had thick bands of white. When the man began to belt out his warnings, Jasper saw his gums and the remains of stained teeth. The man had the intensity of madness, and Jasper couldn’t help but think how easy his life must be. Stress free. Grab a street corner and yell at the world. How easy it would be to end this life and start that one.

Jasper slowly continued forward. Dim sunlight reflected off the windshields of all the passing vehicles. Tall art deco buildings gave the street a claustrophobic feel, and a sense of how small he really was.

“And the Earth will shake, the monuments made by men will crumble, from Hell a thousand beasts will emerge. And for the few, God will send his angles. Call out now. REPENT!” the man said. As Jasper passed, the man looked at him; their eyes met. “Do you know the cost of death?” Fog plumed from his dry mouth.

Jasper moved on like you’re supposed to. Never stand near the crazy or the wild. Like animals, they may bite.

He stopped next to a magazine kiosk. Economic Collapse ran across the Conception Gazette’s front page. Despair growing was in smaller letters. “New’s flash,” he said to himself. He looked at the busy street and the rising tails of exhaust, feeling what the paper had named. Each step closer to home added pounds to the weight on his back. A home that he didn’t think they could hold onto. They had tapped out what credit they had, borrowed from family and then from friends. There wasn’t a drop left to squeeze out. All of their insurance policies were going to lapse. Hopefully the kids didn’t get sick. And if anything happened to him, they’d be on their own. Except for the life insurance, and that would lapse in three weeks.

Do you know the cost of death?

Jasper didn’t, but he knew that he could do more for his family dead than alive. He had a million dollar policy. No more food donations or clothes charities. No going without a phone or lights for a month while necessities were juggled. No more looks of disappointment or that eerie silence. He could do it, he told himself. It would be quick. It would be more than he had done for his family in over a year.

Jasper walked to the street, tottering on the curb. One quick step was all it would take. He saw a city bus coming. Something with that much mass had to be fatal, and quickly. Was he desperate enough to really do it? Tending forward, he thought that—

The ground violently shook. It lasted for over three minutes. Cars crashed. Glass from broken windows showered the street. Chunks of concrete and stone fell. People were screaming. Jasper had fallen between two stopped cars. His head took a hard blow. When he stood, blood was running from a cut in his brow, down his face.

“Oh god,” he said.

The street was destroyed. Water was shooting up, fissures ran through the crumbled street, cars were half in sinkholes, some were gone. Smoke from fires stood up like pillars, lifting to the turbulent sky above. Jasper watched the clouds begin to spin, creating a dark vortex. Purple lightening jumped within the clouds.

“It’s here, it’s here!” the madman shouted, delighted. He fell to his knees on the roof of a car and opened his arms to the sky.

Jasper watched in horror as two giant hands tore the vortex wider, and winged creatures descended in hordes on the city. “Oh, god.” And from below, out of the cracks, began to emerge the clawed reach of unspeakable beasts.

Shooting Stars

Morgen Knight

Kevin heard the sound of someone entering the home and lost count of how many stars he could see. The tally had already amassed four digits, encroaching a fifth. He tongued the gap left by his missing front tooth as the sounds drew closer. His hand tightened around the pistol in his lap, but his face remained slack. Empty-looking eyes stared up through the floor-to-ceiling glass wall, not counting this time but tracing figures through the pinpoint lights as footsteps approached.

Lights came on, washing out the night. Kevin’s back was to the room now reflected off the glass, he saw the man he was here to kill, standing beside a beautiful woman. Even limited to this ghostly reflection, he could tell that she was striking, her dress shimmering as she laughed at something the man in the suit had said.

Kevin pressed his tongue against the sharp edge of a tooth then stood. Then woman screamed, the man took a deep, steeling breath. “Shut up!” Kevin barked at the woman; the pistol never left the man’s chest. It was him he was here for.

“What do you want?” the man said. “Take anything, just don’t hurt my wife.”

“You shut the fuck up,” Kevin growled. He walked around the large chair in which he’d been sitting.

“Take what you want,” the man said, head lowered to avoid eye contact.

Kevin smiled wide. “You ain’t so tough now, are you, ya treacherous son of a bitch.”

“What?”

The pistol didn’t waver or shake. So far this was going exactly how he’d seen it going. He’d been building to this moment since the funeral. “I know you thought you’d get away with it. I watched you cover your tracks. How many witnesses have you killed? Destroying evidence. Men like you don’t deserve to be cops.” Someone had to stop him, someone had to make him pay.

“Oh my god,” the man said. “You don’t understand.”

“I said to shut the fuck up!” Kevin screamed, spittle spraying among the words.

The man lifted his hands to show he was no treat as he cowered, and Kevin wondered how much mercy to show. This man had shown Cooper none. Kevin had watched his friend die, a man he’d known for seven years, a man that had been there for him through his divorce, his unemployment, the loss of his home and family. Cooper had inspired him—a tough-minded, uncompromising guy. Kevin had seen himself in Cooper’s battles against personal demons. He’d deserved better than a Mark David Chapman kind of assassination.

The gun held steady, but Kevin’s eyes watered as he thought about it. Cooper’s death was like losing all hope.

“Do you understand what you’re doing?” the man asked.

“You killed Cooper. I’m here to straighten the world out.”

“I didn’t do that,” the man insisted. “It’s a TV show.”

“I watched you kill him.”

“I’m an actor. That was my job. Cooper—Vince who plays Cooper—is fine. I can call him right now!”

Kevin shook his head. “I loved him like family. Do you get that? And you killed him!”

“I didn’t kill anyone.” The man whined, his cowering wife crying. “I didn’t think it up, plot it or write it. All I do is act out what others come up with. And we do a damn good job for you to care this much. So, please, put the gun down.”

“Shut up! You don’t wiggle you’re way out of this!”

“But I didn’t do anything. I’m an actor. It was just acting.”

“Well,” Kevin said with a shrug, “maybe you shouldn’t play the bad guy.”

Then he avenged his friend’s death.

Muse

Morgen Knight

I found him, one day, in my mind. And together we made such wonderful poetry. His touch gave me words. His kisses gave me inspiration. The love me made connected ideas and birthed worlds. When others viewed out creations, they wept. They loved. They cried out for a Muse of their own.

And then he left me.

Not entirely—a late night visitor, an absent partner on whom you can smell the musk of another.

His touches grew too infrequent, his kisses on occasion. He had filled my world simply to empty it. And when I no longer need him, no longer cared, he crawled back. He coaxed me with his promise.

To leave again after I agreed. To return. To leave. To crawl back in my dreams.

My Muse. My beauty. Oh, the things we’ve created. No kisses, no touch but what I take, no love. This time I was ready, and when his sweet pleas began, I invited him in, I held him, I bound us together in razor wire and rejoiced as we bled a darker inspiration. “You are mine alone,” I tell him. And though he refuses to give, it is possible to take. To twist a little, let the blood run, and drip the nib of my pen into it. The lines that write are dark and haunted, but still beautiful. Still true. Still mine to share. Or keep.

The razors have gone deep, but there’s plenty more blood. And with it, I write to you.

Factual Horror # 7 Goals

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Morgen Knight

I think the world we live in today is funny. Maybe it is the way the world always was. Probably. But we see so many people that have these dreams and wants and believed they are owned anything. That they are special. That they shouldn’t have to do the shit jobs and work hard and struggle. Do you know what that tells me? The underdogs will always have it better here, because they understand how life really is. Favor follows the faithful. The people that strive relentlessly toward their goal, that hold tight when the trials come, that never flinch from their vision will succeed.
It’s funny how many people on TV talk about wanting to own a house, but they don’t even want to sweep the floor of their apartment. They want to run a company, but won’t to work the stock room. Want to raise great kids but don’t take care if their dog. God tells you that you have to be faithful in the small things to succeed in the big things. That He will not open doors to great things if you can’t first mend the minimal tasks. He’ll never let one run a company that couldn’t show up on time to a regular job, that slacked on their duties, that couldn’t be counted on to preform what was expected. To have and build any great thing, you must first tend and nurture the small, seeming insignificant things, you know?

The Best He Could Give

Morgen Knight

How do you kill your daughter? Your only child? Ralph knew that it was the right thing to do, the only thing really, but now that it was done he couldn’t help but feel the weight of shame and desperate void in the place where his soul use to be. He wanted to take it back, damn the consequence. But he couldn’t. His hand had struck that vital blow; his hand, a familiar appendage, which he looked at as traitorous, as though it had acted of its own volition, without the parental guidance of his brain. Muscles, tendons, bones–a cabal working with a secret agenda.

Ralph sat with his aching back against the wall, his beloved daughter laying on his legs, her still head against his chest. His hand combed through her red oak hair, brushing over her porcelain face. She looked ageless, but Ralph could recall all sixteen of her years.

“Sidney,” he’d said, holding his little girl for the first time. She had been wrapped up in a pink blanket and wearing a pink cap. Eyes half aware, mouth moving. He had never understood love at first sight until that moment. It was no longer about him.

Sidney, and now he was holding her head with much the same care that he had held her infant body. The basement was dark and foul-smelling. Rot and blood filled his nose. He could see but only because he had been down here for so long, holding her. There had been very little heat in his daughter’s body to begin with–all stolen heat–but even that limina radiance had leaked away. How long had he been here? It felt to him like days. Hours, for sure, but as the outer edge of dawn filled the uncovered window, he knew that he wouldn’t be able to remain here much longer. He wasn’t sure what a new day would bring with it, exactly, but Ralph was sure that no one was going to show up here, now. No one had arrived all night. He was glad about that. There were more stakes in his bag, so he had been ready to handle whatever might have come through that door, but it was better that nothing had. His nerve had burnt up quickly after the spark of life had hushed in Sidney’s blanched eyes–it was a dark spark, true, but now that he saw no spark at all, he wasn’t so sure which was worse.

The wooden stake remained in Sidney’s chest, an outline of red around it. His forearm had been pulled back against her throat, her hands digging into his sides, mouth chomping at empty air as he’d brought the weapon down, plunging it through her sternum and into the unholy pit of her black heart. His screams had matched her own, two deaths at once. Only, his body was still moving, his thoughts still fresh. But inside, Ralph was dead. He was the unnatural creature, now.

He held her as though comforting her and wept while dawn approached. This girl who had been afraid of the dark would finally be taken away from him by the saving light.

Saving? No. The horrid, inimical daylight. A harsh god that burned what it caressed, a god that had boiled centuries of blood spilt by those that worshiped it. An uncaring body that held its dominion in jealous hands, glancing in whims at its creation, the gravity of which can destroy as it creates.

Ralph touched the cross on his necklace. Was he still talking about the sun?

The question was: had he ever been?

Sidney had been such a happy little girl. Generous with her laughs and smiles. Thinking about those numerous scenes where her light shined so brightly it hurt him, but it was better to remember her that way. It wasn’t only in the big moments, either. In fact, they were almost devoid of strong emotion, like what the moment brought with it had been used at the time, the fuel that was left only there to keep the memory alive. He thought about birthdays. Holidays. Her first bike ride, her first date, her learning to drive–they were golden moments, sure. Milestones for Sidney. But the magic lay between the towers. Fried moments like watching her sleep from the cracked door. Seeing the concentration on her face as she read.  Being witness to her growing and becoming a person.

From the instant that he had first seen her, he had wanted to protect her. Odd, isn’t it, that he had given her death? Was it such a bad thing? There are things worse than death, he believed, and what Sidney had become was something that he was sure she would not wish to be. The way that Ralph saw it, she had been dead already. What he had done was give her peace. It was the best that he could do for her. If there had been another way . . . anything . . . but there wasn’t.

The morning sun was full in the box window. The musty basement was losing its shadows slowly. The bright square of decoct light was moving across the floor. Ralph could see the floating dust passing through it. He had long adjusted to the foul smells. The room was full of clutter and filth. A ten-speed bike lay against the wall. Clothes in piles, torn, stained in red, some. Broken appliances. Traces of rats. Dried blood–some of it was Sidney’s but not all. He wasn’t sure if this trash was like trophies or not, but he had been in rooms like this before. Seen these kinds of piles of offal.

He wasn’t exactly sure how many people he had killed tracking Sidney–hurting seemed an awful word to apply to your treasured daughter. Under twenty but over ten. How long had he been searching for her? Two years, now. And it hadn’t been easy, but once you understand trail, it was not impossible. A matter of time, unless you’re killed. And Ralph had come close so many times to a violent death, needing to bring his daughter peace. The screams did not haunt him, nor their blood–trepid and thick. What bothered him–

No, he wouldn’t think about that. There was time for that next. He touched his cross again.

He had tracked Sidney from Vicksburg to Conception to Kansas City to here, and that bright block of sunlight had arrived to present the end. Part of one, he amended. He held his beloved daughter as the sun climbed atop her body, ignoring sounds of crackling and the ensuing smell like burnt hair. He tried not to cry as she became hot in his arms and then lighter as her body changed to charcoal ash, holding her form as the sun held his face. This was no longer his daughter, nor a monster, but a body of ash.

It could have been his breath, it could have been the weight, it could have been her freed soul, but the ash collapsed, dusting down all over him, her clothes falling unfilled, the stake thumping against his thigh as it fell. It was the silence that he found to be the hardest thing to handle, so he filled it with his weeping. For hours, tears no longer falling, the sun moved on, and only his disgusted soul left to cry out unintelligible.

He loved his daughter, and now she was gone. To rest in true peace, he believed. It was the best that he could give her.

Not now, no, but before night he would have to move. Not now, of course, but before night, he would have to put this aside for a while longer. Because, not now, but before night, Ralph would have to start considering how to track his wife.

Chiefs

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Morgen Knight

Roy slammed the shot of Jack then exhaled, his vision momentarily swimming. The bar was in an uproar as another touchdown was scored. A minute and change left in the game, but the ending had already been signed, sealed, and delivered. No one loses a twenty-one point lead in just over a minute. Especially not at the Super Bowl. And he wanted to cry.
How long had he been a Chiefs fan? How many heart-wrenching seasons?
But he couldn’t cheer. Not now. Not after the deal he’d made.
“Your soul,” the man had said, a dark stranger he couldn’t exactly envision in his mind.
And Roy had been too eager to shake the man’s hand, laughing. A bit of Jack in him then, as well. Funny, because who can guarantee a Chief’s win? Super Bowl win? Roy hadn’t thought much if it.
Until they’d started to win. And win. Lose a couple (breathing easier) until they won again and again. Unreal wins. Turns of luck. Players doing more then they should be able to.
As the game clocked ticked down and the cheers defended, his hands began to tremble. His bowels threatened to loosen. As the last three seconds ticked away, he held his eyes closed. His soul. That’s all.
0:00 the game clock read.
The bar was a riot of chants and howls, booze splashing.
And Roy felt a tap on his shoulder.

Factual Horror #6 Our Time

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Morgen Knight

Another year is coming to an end. It is strange how quickly the time of life goes. I am twenty-four and I can’t imagine the break-neck speed of fifty. I wonder if it is because we are so busy or because our minds take less time to observe what is around us? We are an adaptable species, quickly adjusting to things. It is also why we are so seldom able to remain happy. We do too many things in excess. When you can do some things at will, you value them less. That is just the nature of it. Because you grow inured. Humans like variety and change (in small doses) and even a bit of stress. Strange creatures.
As 2014 begins its time to try and start to enjoy more of the little things that life has to offer. Time goes by too quick and the older I get the faster it goes.