Tag Archives: fridayflash

FridayFlash – Love and Power

“Ha, yeah, that’s hi-LAR-ious,” Billy wasn’t really a guy that appreciated humor. He really just wanted to get stuff done. They’d been working on the car all day.

“Shut up, dick.” Jesse, on the other hand, had a sharp wit and liked to push and poke on Billy until he got mad. Jesse farted and waved it under the car at Billy.

“Jesus, you nasty bastard! Just hand me the goddamn 15mm deep well socket,” Billy said. “Sheesh, sometimes I wonder if it’s worth having you around.”

The mosquitos and mosquito hunters were in full force as the night crept up on them.

Billy groaned as he pushed himself out from under the car. “There, that should do ‘er. Let’s get all this stuff out of the way.” He breathed in the cool night air and paused to consider the stars.

The engine roared to life and they shot each other a knowing glance. A couple of revs and they were even happier.

**********

“So far, so good. Let’s take her out to the airfield so we can open her up where nobody’s around,” Billy patted Jesse on the back, backed out of the garage and fumbled for the garage door clicker.

A couple of turns out of the neighborhood and Billy mashed the pedal, fishtailing the back end.

“Hooey!” Jesse yelled out the window at nobody, the creases by his eyes deep as he squinted into the wind.

“More power than I expected…” Billy faded off. The design was something he’d been working on for a while. Had the idea in high school, in fact, but could never afford the time or the space to do anything about it until now. Hadn’t needed to build it until now. Billy raised an eyebrow at the steady burble of the exhaust, then reached over to the center console and closed all the windows.

“What are doin’, man? It’s a nice night out,” Jesse knew what Billy was going to do. “She’s gone, Billy,” he said and tightened down his ball cap and settled back into the seat with a sigh.

“It’s time.”

**********

The back road ended and they crossed the abandoned rice fields to the back fence, which they’d already cut open and used a few times before when they did the dry run. A fog settled as they felt the tires embrace the runway.

Billy two-footed the brake and the gas, spinning up the tires, smokin’ them. Jesse smiled a weak smile.

“Dang it, Billy – you sure?”

“You can get out if you don’t want to.”

“Nah. I’m here for ya, man.” The air was thin and the silence was broken by the crickets and frogs resuming their chorus.

Billy pulled a tight u-turn and made his way back to the start of the runway, sighed, looked at Jesse, who nodded slightly at him, and put the car in “sport” mode, then pulled the stick back to “Billy” mode to turn on his modification.

“We only get once. Don’t fuck it up.” Jesse cleared his throat, reached up and grabbed the handle, knuckles white.

The acceleration pushed them back hard into their seats. The roar of the engine, at first, sent giddy shivers up their spines, but the fear of the speed and the limits of the runway weighed heavy on their minds.

60… 80… 120… the boost kicked in … 240… 340… phase II boost… 500… the sonic boom shattered windows in a nearby commercial complex… phase III boost… 800… 2000… 5000… the gravity machine was at full power now and turned on.

The outside world faded into slow motion at first, then a swirl of the deep colors of the night, then a blast of light blinded them in the car. Finally, an all-encompassing darkness.

************

“Billy! Billy! Wake UP.”

Billy woke to Jesse shaking his arm and slapping him in the face. “What the- knock it off! I’m up, I’m up…”

“Billy, for chrissakes, Billy, look around! You crazy motherfucker, you did it!” Jesse was standing outside the car in the soft light of the morning.

Billy cautiously opened the door and pulled himself out of the car, cursing his weak back and knees. “Now how the heck do you know it worked? You wouldn’t know your ass from a – ”

“Shut up, Billy, just… Shut. Up.”

Billy narrowed his eyes and leaned on the open car door, glaring at Jesse, then following Jesse’s gaze to his right. “I can’t -” he stammered. “I won’t – ” he couldn’t get more than two words out before he fell back into the driver’s seat, staring at nothing.

“Get in. I have to go see her.”

*********

Author’s notes

I had an idea as I was working on my car, installing the last of the (first round of) performance upgrades. It was a combination of ideas from several places. I watched an old Code Monkeys episode where the nerdy lead developer had a relationship with Kit, the car from Knight Rider, and they said that car had 800 horses under the hood. That’s impressive.

Then I had another discussion where we were saying that 350 horses wasn’t that much, which is crazy because 10 years ago it was a LOT. You can get 550-600 horses for a reasonable price today. By that I mean not Lamborghini or Ferrari prices.

And I always laughed at the surprising power of the car in Men in Black.

Have you seen the ramjet ultrasonic planes the US military has? They need to be brought up to a minimum speed from an external source before they can have their unique engine (no moving parts) kick in.

So my thought was, what if you had a car that could go faster and faster, and eventually a secondary engine kicked on after you got to a certain speed, which went even faster. I thought about SpaceBalls, where they went to Ludicrous Speed, then went to Plaid, and that was a loose inspiration for this story.

But that’s not a story. That’s a technical background. The story is two buddies working on a car in a garage. Typical. But then you learn about “her.” Who is she? What happened? Then you get teased about the invention he was finally able to install. What does it do? How does it work? They finish, there’s more power than he thought, and the tension builds until they seem to have a strange trip, but we don’t know where/when/why.

Perhaps I’ll finish this story later as a novella if there’s interest.

Blind Date

Blind Date

***********

“I hope she’s not ugly. Or fat.” James F. Jones, or Jimmy Jo to those who knew him best, or knew him at all, was no prize himself. But that lady at Portal Dating Services assured him that the match was very, *very* good.

He rinsed his mouth out with moonshine – his own, naturally – and took one last look in the mirror. “Madame,” he said in a deep voice, bowing slightly. He wiped the sweat off his forehead, blotted his armpits one last time, and headed out.

***********

The Blight had only lasted 15 years, but wiped out 99.9% of the human population.

***********

Like most things Jimmy Jo owned, his car was stolen. Borrowed, really. Long-term. He got the Z28 Camaro from the same place he got his flat-screen TV. Not much gas any more, and not much TV any more, but things were getting better. He even had a new neighbor a few streets over. He made a point to smoke his tires in front of their house at least once a week.

************

Anthropologist Bill Ziegler calculated that we didn’t have enough diversity left to re-populate humanity and would interbreed ourselves into extinction if we didn’t just fade away first.

Some said Bill was full of shit.

************

Jimmy Jo saw it on the only channel he could get on his fancy TV – that Hugh Everett and his many-worlds theory, it turns out, was right. After the Blight, a team of scientists scavenged classified documents from scientific research around the world. Some top-secret research in Russia and in Switzerland completed Everett’s theory.

The first portal was opened 3 years ago.

This world was the only one that had reached the apex of the Blight, so this world was the only one that could open the portals.

************

“Shit, flowers!” Jimmy Jo pulled over by a field and picked out a few flowers, pissed on the rest, and got back in the car.

One eye on the road, Jimmy swerved a bit as he re-read the directions on the folded paper. “What in the hell… where do I know that address?”

************

Bill Ziegler seized the opportunity – the parallel universes could simply take lost souls, the poor, despondent folks that were suicidal or imprisoned for things that aren’t crimes in our world, or that had diseases that could be cured here. We could forcibly repopulate our world!

Outraged, the survivors threw Molotov cocktails at Bill’s house, killing him in his sleep.

The idea was hatched, however, had merit. The Council of the Living had a more benevolent idea – a dating service.

“Tired of life? Down and out? Seeking new adventures in new places? We’ll help you leave your old life behind you.”

And the Portal Dating Service was opened for business.

************

Jimmy Jo revved up the engine of his Z28 for effect as he pulled up into the driveway. He picked his teeth in the rear-view, grabbed the flowers, fumbled for the portal key, and walked into the house.

The Service always chose a deserted neighborhood – couldn’t have any more portal jumpers, could we?

Jimmy Jo sighed and closed his eyes, whispered something to himself, held out the key, opened his eyes, and clicked the only button.

************

Some of the people from parallel worlds weren’t too happy to be tricked into coming. Some of them freaked out. Jimmy Jo hadn’t seen the Ford LTD trailing him by a couple of miles.

************

The woman that stepped through the portal looked strikingly like Jimmy Jo, and introduced herself as Jenny Jo.

Jimmy Jo scrambled back and dropped the flowers. He turned to run and only made it to the driveway before he saw the LTD parked at the house next door, and the man leaning against it, looking straight at him.

************

The Service never reminded you that the people were from parallel worlds. That’s the whole idea, right? Only the problem is that the parallel worlds are infinite variations of the world we’re on, so there are an infinite variations of yourself on these other worlds.

************

The man leaning against the LTD shot Jimmy Jo once, hitting him in the leg. He pressed a button and a portal opened up and swallowed poor Jimmy Jo to a dark world.

++++++++++++++

Author’s Notes

I was reading about the wonderful craft of writing on Writer’s Digest. I like these articles not because I generally agree with them, but they are tips from published writers. You do, however, get a lot of repeat information, or different takes on existing information (such as a rehash of the Hero’s Journey).

One of the articles really struck a chord with me, though, and that was the one about R.L. Stine.

Turns out, he writes a lot like I do. He doesn’t start from the ending, he doesn’t endlessly plot out structures, he writes a lot of horror, and he doesn’t seem to do a lot of things that you are “supposed” to do. Instead, he typically thinks up a good title (or just comes up with one during the course of the day) and proceeds to write.

Really, that’s the majority of his “secret.”

A couple of things stood out for me, though.

Stine doesn’t think that you should have to work at writing, you should just really like doing it. Otherwise you’re not a writer. I fully agree with this. I have been writing, even if it’s just rambling, since as early as the seventh grade. At least that I remember.

I’ve loved spinning yarns for the kids for a long time, too – like the time I told my son that you can’t look at the Mr. Pickles kid in a costume on the street corner – if he sees you, he switches places with you and you have to trick someone else into taking your place in the hot, stinky pickle costume. Oh, no! Don’t look! I like to mess with people, and can think up stuff on-the-fly. Mostly, I’m a devious little shit.

Also, he writes. A lot. He’s published over 300 books and keeps going at it. He developed a routine that pumps out books every month or so. For years and years and years he’s done this. He wrote comics and TV shows and dabbled all over the place. One time, and this is my favorite part, someone joked that he should write about a Blind Date.

…fateful lunch with Stine’s Scholastic friend Jean Feiwel, she asked him a simple question: Have you ever thought about writing young adult horror? And she made an equally simple suggestion: Go home and write a book called Blind Date.

“I said, ‘OK, sure, no problem,’” he recalls.

And the amazing thing is—and this is a hint at what makes Stine stand out from millions of other writers, a testament to how much of a born storyteller he truly is—he actually did it. He outlined for a month. He wrote for three. He spent a month revising. He sent it in. It came out in 1986, and became an instant bestseller.

Let’s repeat part of that – “…makes Stine stand out from millions of other writers… he actually did it.”

Yup, folks, there’s the secret sauce: showing up. And the inspiration for today’s story because, you see, I like to be in the company of kings.

p.s. I’ve never read any Stine books – I was already 13 when he wrote Blind Date and didn’t seriously consider reading Goosebumps. I can certainly guarantee that my story is vastly different, and experimental (for me), but, damn it, I wrote it.

 

Second Coming: Flash Fiction

Second Coming

She pulled the shade down and rested her head against the window, sighed, and started to cry.

“Damn you for dying, Joe! Damn you… I miss you so much.” Mary looked up at nothing, brushed the last tears from her eyes, sniffled, pulled back her gray hair with trembling hands, and picked up the gun.

++++++++++++++++++

The neighbors called the police when they hadn’t seen Mary out and about – in her garden, mowing the lawn, waving to everyone in her wide-brimmed hat and smiling.

It took 3 days to clean up the place.

++++++++++++++++++

“Hi, Josh… this is the Hillsboro police… I’m sorry, but your mom died. You have our deepest condolences.”

Josh dropped the phone and put his hands on his head and cried for the first time in 5 years.

He hadn’t seen her since Dad died. He’d see her and feel the tears welling up in his eyes, and would lose control of himself. He couldn’t.

++++++++++++++++++

“You sonofabitch!” Ponch came running from across the street shaking a rake at him, dirt falling off his gardening gloves. “After all this time!” He shook the rake and poked Josh with the wooden end. “She *needed* you. We thought you were dead.”

“Hey, Ponch. You smell like cigarettes.” Josh’s face was flat as Ponch searched for any feeling, any remorse, any emotion at all. Josh turned away, put his hands in his coat pockets and stared at the house. “It’s been hard for me.”

“YOU! What do you– How can you– ” He shook his head, pulled off his gloves and stuffed both of them into a pocket. “You always were a worthless little shit.”

Josh laughed and looked at old man Ponch from over his shoulder. “Even gods get no respect around here.”

++++++++++++++++++

“Hey, Jude,” he always liked the sound of that, even though he was hardly a Beatles fan. “Hey, can you stop by my folks’ place? I need some help packing things up.”

“Josh? JOSH? Well, hey, I thought you were — well, shit… sure, man, I’ll be over after dinner.”

++++++++++++++++++

Jude rang the doorbell and watched his breath come out in foggy clouds. He could smell Josh’s place before the door was open. A dry, woody, pine-like smell. He always thought it was Frankincense but never asked.

Josh opened the door and let him in, led him up the half staircase of the split-level and across the living room to the kitchen table.

“Hey, man, I’m so sorry to hear about your mom,” Jude said as he cracked open his Bud Light. “You’re looking good, though. Not partaking these days?” Jude nodded to Josh’s glass of water and let a wan smile crack across his leathery, stubbly face.

Without looking, Josh picked up his glass and swirled it. The water darkened to a deep, purplish red. “I don’t have time for games and parlor tricks, Jude. I asked you here because I need something.” Josh never broke eye contact. “I want it back, Jude.”

“Aw, you know, that… that was just, that was just… look, man, I didn’t know, I swear, if I’d have known, I never would have…” Jude’s eye twitched as he scanned the room and pushed himself back from the table.

“Yes, you would have, Jude. Who was it that said, ‘Show no pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot?'”

Jude was nervously fondling something under the table. “Don’t,” Josh sighed. “Let’s not make this difficult.” Josh stood and held his hand out, palm up, still not breaking eye contact.

Jude stood and pushed up the table, towards Josh, who put his hand up, waved it to the side and the table followed his hand and landed on its side.

Three quick slashes of a knife and Josh dodged them all without ever breaking his gaze or looking at the knife. Josh sighed again and Jude lifted up into the air, twisted his head back, and began to grasp at his throat.

“Your games tire me, Mr. Iscariot. I want something, however, or you’d be dead already, having served your purpose long ago.” Josh looked at the floor and folded his hands behind his back, pacing. “I want the secret knowledge back.”

Jude fell to his knees and rubbed his throat, craning his neck up to look at Josh. “They will come, and they will kill you.”

“Death, it seems, Mr. Iscariot, does not become me,” Josh raised one brow. “The Illuminators do not scare me, but now that both of my Earth parents have passed, it is time to reveal what lies in darkness.”

“You’re fucked in the head, Josh. I watched you die.”

“And I did, indeed. Have you not gotten over that? You were simply doing what I asked of you. You were my favorite, you know.”

Jude pulled himself into a chair and remembered how much he hated the smell of Frankincense. “The Illuminators will come. And the people will find a new savior to obsess over and to sanctify. They will burn the churches, they will forget –”

“I know all this. I’ve always known the second coming didn’t mean *me.* It is time. The secret – give it to me.”

 

++++++++++++++++++

Author’s notes

I’m not religious but I’ve studied the Christian bible quite a bit. I was fascinated when the Gospel of Judas was discovered and the text was released, forever changing the zeitgeist around Judas.

I also recently finished reading Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, so lots of ideas have been floating around my head surrounding old gods and new gods and culture clashes.

This story was probably the most planning and research I’ve done – it took longer to research than to write.

Glitch [flash fiction]

The screen glitches.

The set looks like scrambled 1980’s porn, you cuddled up to the screen, volume off, watchful that your parents aren’t coming. You reach into your pants.

The screen glitches.

Static flares and the patterns swirl and taunt. Your monkey brain makes faces in the hash and you tilt your head like a dog. You begin to imagine – no, believe – you are in the scene in Poltergeist. Carrie-Anne…

The screen glitches.

The light in the house is on and the blinds are pulled. There’s music, and what appears to be dancing. A police car pulls up, leaves the lights on, and two cops get out. Their breath floats in the air as they check their holsters, look at each other, and walk up to the door.

They knock and nobody answers. One backs away and covers one ear, picks up his radio and you can see his mouth moving as his partner pulls on his belt and kicks the door just on the other side of the handle.

They walk inside.

The screen glitches.

The high-pitched groan screeches and you fumble for the volume, but it’s already down all the way. You twist it up and back again, but nothing changes.

The screen glitches.

You touch the screen and it glows around your finger and begins to hum. Laughter.

A woman with too-bright red lipstick is coming down the stairs on a cruise ship. She looks at no one. Which is to say she looks at everyone. Secretly.

She passes and you smell her perfume. You’re instantly transported to your second grade classroom and the schoolmarm’s smell as she walked past you.

You look down and see a trail of urine.

The screen glitches.

The cops are now inside the house, and there’s a long hallway that faces the street. The house smells… wrong. The rooms are lined up along the hall and each has its blinds closed.

There’s splashing and laughter and loud music, lights flashing. The cop knocks.

Nothing.

The cop calls out.

Nothing.

He opens the door.

Inside is a large hot tub. Six or eight people are in it, splashing around.

Something’s wrong. Terribly wrong. The second cop pukes as he holds onto the door frame and bends over. “God in heaven,” the first cop mumbles and reaches for switch.

The people in the hot tub are all dead, naked, propped up, puppets on sticks attached to a motor. They motor winds down and the dance of the dead stops. Their eyes are gouged out and their heads are fixed in place, staring at the door.

The screen glitches.

“This isn’t a dream. This isn’t a dream. This isn’t a dream.” The voice chants. Becomes almost musical. A high-pitched squeal starts up again. A shiver goes up your spine and you slowly look behind you.

The screen glitches.

Screaming from the alley and a man running, his zippered hoodie billowing behind him. This is too surreal, you think, and you start to believe that it must be a dream. You stand and watch horrors, hoping that it is a dream. Oh, God, please let it be a dream. It’s a dream, right? Right? Help?

The screen glitches.

Two women sit on a bench and look at each other. “One of These Nights” by the Eagles is playing in the background. The lights are low.

There’s a shadow creeping up behind them, and you shake your head and think, “No, no, no! Run!” It’s too late. The great American horror story unfolds in front of you and you just stare.

The killer looks at you. “This is good,” you think as the adrenaline fades, excited that you lost yourself in it for a moment. The killer’s hand reaches out and begins to press on the television screen. You fall back and the hand grabs your ankle and digs its fingernails into your flesh.

You kick at the hand and it lets go. You turn off the TV and the arm severs and wilts in front of you, leaving a black, powdery mess on the floor.

The screen glitches and turns back on.

 
*****************************************

Author’s notes

Everyone says that you should never write in the second person. It’s awful and nobody likes it.

Challenge accepted.

I don’t think it actually came out badly, but I do see where people wouldn’t like it. I’ve never written this way before, but I’m stretching myself after not having written in over a month.

The screen glitching, in my mind, is like a channel changing to a channel that’s just static for a moment, like on old TVs where it would go all haywire for a fraction of a second. In that second, sometimes you could swear you saw something. Perhaps, in the wee morning hours, you DID see something, and you lost control of it…

Mutagen Experiments

“Don’t go lookin’ down in there,” she said and raised a brow. Just one brow. I can’t raise just one brow, but she can. She can do lots of things that I can’t.

That look, though, that look was for me and I knew that I couldn’t look. Which is why I had to.

Down by the fence post there’s a gutter. down in the gutter, there are things that crawl inside. I saw a rat go in there, and I saw a little chipmunk go in there once, too. Never did see them come out.

Today, though, I thought I saw something in there. I though I saw it and I looked because, well, you know that I had to because she told me not to.

There were eyes in there. The light from the sewer shone in a rectangular shaft and just highlighted eyes with frizzy hair coming down into her face. The eyes were yellow and rimmed with red, like perhaps death warmed over. I couldn’t stop looking.

She moved out of the light and I had to get another look. I got my huge flashlight, the really big on that I use when I go camping, that one, and I lit it up and looked down in there again. I found that girl still lookin’ up out at me, and behind her was a man, strapped to a chair, with a fierce fury brewing behind those eyes. He looked even more tired than her and was also looking right at me. I stepped back and yelled for Sherrie.

“Hey! Sherrie! Get over here!” I said as I flashed the light back and forth between the two characters in the sewer.

“Wha- oh, goddamnit,” she said and put her hands on her hips and sighed. “I TOLD YOU NOT TO. LOOK. IN. THERE.” She tapped her toe and and stared at me.

“I- I didn’t-” I stammered, looking down at them and then up back at Sherrie. “I thought you- well, I thought you’d want to see them. It’s freakin’ me out!”

“I don’t need to see them. I put them there.” She pulled her hands off her hips and turned around, pulling a small steno book from her bag. “See the big one there, the one that’s tied up?” She pointed at him and he didn’t break his gaze at me. “Him? He’s too far gone. All zombie now. I tied him up a week ago.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “You’re shitting me.” I said, trying for a laugh.

“I ain’t shittin’ ya, boy!” She yelled at me. She never yells at me. Except when I do what she told me not to do because that’s what I do. So I guess she does yell at me. But she knows I’m going to do it, so why the pretense?

“The OTHER one, the girl, she’s about 2 days into it. She’s still thinkin’, that one, she’s still there in her head but I can’t let her out or she’ll turn other folks into zombies. Can’t have that, nope.” She shook her head and looked down in the dungeon, then held out the steno by the corner and moved it up and down a couple of times. I took it.

The book was a diary of sorts, filled with pages of zombie hunting, zombie experimentation, and she was building a zombie catalog, all the folks that were turned into zombies, starting from the back page and working backwards.

My name was on the list.

“Hey – why’s my name here? I’m not a zombie! I didn’t even know zombies were real until 10 seconds ago.” I said and started towards her. She had turned her back to me and was rifling through her bag again. I came up behind her, “Sher… hey, why am I-”

She turned and stuck me with a needle in my shoulder.

“OW!” I jumped back and she smiled.

“You are now,” she said. “That was a mutagen with an accelerator.” She went back to the bag, pushing things aside, looking for something. “Ah, here it is,” she said and held up a little black box. “And here’s the antidote.” She smiled again, walked over to the hole, and tossed the black box into the room with the 2 zombies.

I backed up away from her, over towards her bag.

“Now, one of them’s tied up, the other’s not,” said to me as I rubbed my arm. “You’ve got about 45 minutes to figure out how to get your antidote. You’ve been a great experiment, Rudy, faithful but stupi-”

I stabbed the needle into her arm.

 

++++++++++++++

Author’s notes

This was actually a dream I had last night – it was very real, but I suppose I should have known it was a dream while I was in it, but there weren’t the normal cues, so my subconscious went along with it.

My dream actually progressed across several dreams, at one point I was nonchalantly carrying a bloody zombie head in a burlap sack, going about my business. Figured I’d keep the reader in suspense, though, and not let on that I won out and claimed a decapitated zombie head as my prize.

I’m trying desperately to write quickly and to make few edits. I am trying to keep the writing simple, small words, things I would actually say in an average conversation, and avoid adverbs. I think I’m getting better all the time, though the stories don’t always lend themselves to the flash fiction style of writing. Even so, I adapt them, as I’ve done here, so the writing tells the story quickly and let’s the reader get on with her day.

Pushing Through the Shadows

“Are those fingers?” I said. On the floor in front of me, as I sat on the toilet for my morning pee, I saw fingers coming out from under the scale.

At first, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing – what the fuck is that? Fingers coming out from under the scale? I was stuck on the pot and didn’t have anywhere to go and I was, as anyone would be, freaked. I stood and backup up a bit, knowing that I’d have to pass by the scale to get out the door to get away from the hand. Instead, I kicked the scale, pushed it six inches.

There was a squeal and the fingers disappeared. I picked up the scale and checked it out, checked out the floor – nothing to indicate a way for the hand to come through, for the phantom fingers to grab at the floor.

The adrenaline faded and I came back to my senses and felt my heart pound and my breath labored. I was sweating.

I rubbed my eyes and shrugged it off. Maybe I was still sleeping – I flicked the light switch on and off a few times, then pinched my forearm as hard as I could. Nope, wide awake.

++++++++

I leaned forward and rinsed the shampoo out, rubbed the water out of my eyes and caught a black streak run across the bathroom. I wiped the glass door and looked around – nothing but me and the rush of water, billows of steam collecting at the peak of the slanted ceiling.

“I’m going fucking crazy,” I said out loud, turned back and grabbed the washcloth.

+++++++++++

The pantry door squeaked as I opened it, and I reminded myself for the 100th time to spray some WD-40 on that damned thing, and there were eyes behind the cereal box.

I jumped back and the Peanut Butter Crunch hit the floor, rolling into untold crevices. I looked down at the mess and then back up at the pantry. The eyes were gone, but now I felt a bit of panic.

++++++++++++

Before the motion sensor could click on the lights in the garage, I saw a black streak flash across the garage, over towards the far bay. The lights came on and there was nothing but the cold and the stacks of boxes. And the fog of my breath.

I crept over to the third bay – my motorcycle is there and nobody better be fucking with my bike – and, in the shadows of the workbench, I saw a full arm clawing out on the concrete floor. But the arm didn’t have a body attached to it, as though the shadow was a boundary, a portal, and the arm was moving inches in and out of it, reaching for unknown treasures.

I have a 6lb sledgehammer that I keep for odd construction jobs around the house and yard, and it’s come in handy more times than you’d think. I grabbed it and did a full swing down onto the arm, hitting at the elbow, the crack of bone exciting me before the splash of blood and meat hit my face. I caught myself before I puked on the floor, lifted my shirt up to wipe the mess from my face, and stumbled back to the washer and dryer.

My eyes watered from the stink.

I heard a whisper in the dark. I squinted my eyes, craned my neck, and crept slowly towards the sound.

“Get on the bridge, get on the bridge, get on the bridge,” it repeated. The voice was human, or at least I thought it was. I moved over and began to see more – every shadow was bulging out, some of them had fingers poking through, some had eyes, wide and shifty, panicked even, staring out.

As I walked over, the whispering began to fade as I heard the screaming. The screams of a thousand people in torment, first a rumble, then a roar, then a cacophony.

I put my hands on my ears and felt a tremble in my body, the shadows pushing and pushing, bulging, noises louder, louder.

The automatic lights timed out and turned off. The noise stopped.

I put my hand up to trigger the lights back on, but they didn’t respond. I turned to go back, and it was pitch black. I reached out for the bench, but it wasn’t there. I took a few steps and reached out for the dryer and a hand grabbed my arm and pulled. I pulled back against it but I wasn’t strong enough. My feet slid on the floor even as I leaned back and grabbed at the darkness with my other hand. The blackness tore and spilled a hot, orange light onto me, revealing the demon’s face, which grinned and pulled me through.