Seeds of Ignition

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His mouth is a door.

“Where do you want to go?” he whispers. A tongue, short and pink, slips out and hangs over a generous lower lip. Eel slick. A leafy gutter after a late October rainstorm. Far away, a planet annihilates into its sun.

“To them,” she replies, and reaches with a tentative hand.

The door widens to accommodate. Skin splits, then knits. New teeth sprout from elongating gums. Enamel amaryllises.

Hand, wrist, forearm. The door makes room. It did for me. I was the first to try. And succeed.

“How far until…” she asks, only to hush. Right then, she can feel it. I can tell.

Five fingers finesse frigid, fleshy folds. Folds finesse back.

Continue reading “Seeds of Ignition”

The Yanny-Laurel Enigma

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“Have you guys heard the Yanny Laurel thing?” Johanna slurred. She was four beers in and desperate to add some levity to the dying party.

“No,” was the chorus of replies. None of them had. None of them cared much, either. Freida and Joe were independently thinking up excuses to make their escape, while Robert, who wanted the others to leave so he could try to f*ck Johanna, just shrugged.

Johanna watched the others with disappointment. She didn’t want the group to disperse yet.

Freida noticed her friend’s mopey expression, so she obliged. “So what’s Yanny Laurel?”

Johanna brightened.

“Oh my God, it’s so weird.” She fumbled her phone out of her jeans, then tapped its cracked screen a few times. “Check this out!”

An audio file began to play.

“Okay?” Joe replied. “So?”

“So what did you hear?” Johanna asked.

Freida and Joe, in unison, replied “Yanny.”

Robert didn’t say anything. He stared at the floor.

“Rob?” Johanna prodded. “Did you hear ‘Yanny’ too? Or ‘Laurel?’”

“Wait, you heard ‘Laurel?’” interjected Joe.

“Yeah, wait — what?” added Freida.

Johanna laughed. “See! I told you it would be cool.”

“Hang on, are you f*cking with us?” Joe inquired, looking at Johanna with wary interest. Continue reading “The Yanny-Laurel Enigma”

A Questionable Glory Hole

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“We don’t have time for this!” Art, Reilly’s father, shouted. “We’re almost home. Can’t you hold it?”

“Dad!” Reilly hollered back, his muscles tense, beads of cold sweat popping out on his pockmarked forehead. “It can’t wait!”

“Jesus Christ, we’re already a half hour late,” Art muttered, and swerved his old Subaru off the New Jersey Turnpike into an old rest area that’d been closed for as long as he could remember.

“If the door’s locked, you can sh*t outside around back,” he instructed, as Reilly bolted out of the car and waddled across the littered parking lot toward the men’s room. “Poor b*stard’s not gonna make it,” he thought.

“Please don’t be locked, please don’t be locked, please d–” Reilly thought, clenching everything he had to avoid a humiliating disaster.

The door to the bathroom was not locked. Not anymore, at least. An old Master Lock lay in pieces on the chipped tile floor. There was no electricity; the only light coming in was from the clearly-unwashed skylights. The air, if what he was breathing could be considered such, was thick and fetid. Used.

None of that mattered. The nearest stall was open, and a grime-caked, waterless toilet, beckoned. He barged in, dropped his pants, and let go.

He sat, his elbows on his legs and his hands pressed against his eyes, until his body allowed him to move again. He sighed with relief and moved his hands, finally taking in the filth of the room around him.

It’d been a long time since anyone had cleaned the place, but not long since it’d been used. With a feeling of disgust, he glanced over to where the toilet paper should have been.

Then he saw it.

“What the f*ck!” Reilly exclaimed, pulling the front of his shirt down and clamping his legs shut.

An eye was studying him from a jagged hole in the stall. Continue reading “A Questionable Glory Hole”

The Star Bridge

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Eric shot himself in the head on April 24th, 2016. I was standing beside him. I still have the bloodstained clothes. And the bloodstained memories.

“You need to understand, Elena,” he explained, holding the gun to his temple. “There’s a bridge. It’s right here.”

He shook the gun, as if to signify its new status – not as a weapon, but as a means of traversal.

“Don’t, Eric.” My voice was slow and calm but flickers of panic were doubtless present in its timbre.

“I see it now. In flashes. Whenever I imagine pulling the trigger, I get a glimpse of the bridge ahead. It’s not black. It’s not empty. It’s bright and full and warm with everything I’d imagined.”

Machinery whirred around us. An omnipresent hum of energy filled the room as countless megajoules of electricity filled capacitating cylinders, all ready to discharge at a specific time.

“What if you’re wrong?” I asked. “What then? You’re just dead. And you’re worthless when you’re dead. All that potential is gone.”

“The continuation of life affirms worthlessness. My worth is in what I’ve seen. My worth is in what happens next. Because if I’m right, and I know I’m right, everyone will learn that what we are in right now is just the first stage. Once that gets out, we can all go through. And on.”

“But by that, you mean that everyone can just die? Are you listening to yourself?”

He gripped the gun tighter and grinned.

“Maybe it sounds crazy. But I see it. And I think you’re about to.” Continue reading “The Star Bridge”

All horror stories about dolls are fake.

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(Horror stories about dolls.)

I just want to take a moment and give special thanks to my daughter’s “friend,” Laurie.

Hi Laurie. Thanks. Seriously. Because of you, Jenny refused to sleep with her dolls. That includes the stuffed animals she loved intensely until you had to make up all those stories. That’s right, Laurie. You made a fellow six-year-old too afraid to sleep with any of them.

You’re a terrible little girl.

Not long ago, Jenny told me that Laurie had been making up horror stories about dolls. I didn’t think much of it. There’s a lot of creepy dolls out there, and even at the kids’ age, they’re more than likely going to encounter some of them in the TV shows they watch. It was fine. Whatever.

What pissed me off was when I found out Laurie was making things up about the American Girl ones that Jenny has. She’d tell her stuff like, “Samantha is going to eat your cat” and “Addy wants to kill your dad” and, the one that really got me angry, “Kirsten made your little brother sick and that’s why he died.”

First of all, I don’t know why Laurie’s mother would’ve told her about Michael’s death. That happened four years ago. I was hoping Jenny had been too young to remember the worst of it.

Well, she did. And does. Thanks to Laurie.

After that, Jenny came to me and said she didn’t want any of the dolls in her room. Continue reading “All horror stories about dolls are fake.”

My dog wouldn’t stop barking and pawing at the basement wall.

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For the whole day, he stood in the same spot, sometimes with his paws up on the concrete, barking wildly and scratching the rough surface with his nails. I tried to get him to calm down. I had to use his favorite treats to coax him out of the basement. Once I did, I locked him outside.

I put my ear to the wall he’d been obsessing over. I heard a few faint scratches, but I wasn’t particularly bothered. I’m not a superstitious man; you won’t catch me worrying about poltergeists or ghosts. If anything, I was concerned about bugs getting into the foundation. I made a mental note to buy some insecticide at Home Depot.

The following morning, I looked out the window and saw the dog had started digging a hole up against the side of the house. It was right above the spot he’d been so focused on in the basement.

Now I was starting to get pissed off. He was ruining Martin’s marigolds. Continue reading “My dog wouldn’t stop barking and pawing at the basement wall.”

Never Ride the Subway at Night

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From the moment I got on the train, I felt him staring at me. We were the only ones there. It was 2am.

“Just a random weirdo,” I thought. “Probably harmless.”

It was little comfort. I’d heard enough horror stories about the subway to know that if he wanted to hurt me, there’d be nothing to stop him.

I tried to focus on my phone while knowing he was still focusing on me. His glare was icy and dispassionate. Predatory. Despite it being late July in a hot subway car, I was covered in goosebumps.

“When’s the next stop?” I wondered. The ride felt like it was taking forever. Discomfort and fear began to swell inside my chest.

“Maybe I should sneak a picture of him, just in case he tries something. The cops can go through my phone and find out who hurt me. …or who killed me.” Continue reading “Never Ride the Subway at Night”