Tag Archives: Short stories

Haiku Friday – Sweat & Heat

24 Feb

Hello everyone! Thanks for stopping by and reading. 😀 xx

Sweat and Heat are this week’s prompt words chosen by Ronovan Hester of Ronovan Writes.

Ron hosts a challenge that anyone could participate in called Ronovan Writes Weekly Haiku Poetry Prompt Challenge every Monday, and you have until Sunday to create a post featuring your haiku poem. He is an author and poet and also does author interviews and much more on his blog. Be sure to check it out. Read Ron’s Haiku Prompt Challenge Guidelines for more information.

♥ I have a short story for you today and hidden (in plain sight) within the story is today’s poem. I hope you enjoy. ♥

little_girl_shadow_by_agnes_cecile-d8t108a_The Writer Next Door_Poetry

‘Little Girl Shadow’ by Silvia Pelissero (agnes-cecile on DeviantArt)

♦♦

Where Is My Shadow?

by Vashti Q

I walked past a schoolyard and noticed several children doing something peculiar. They used color chalk to outline each other’s shadows. It was a brilliant idea, so I entered the yard to join them.

 

“Hello! May I play too?” I waited for a response but the kids were too busy drawing and giggling to notice me. I shrugged and picked up a piece of chalk left on the ground.

 

I smoothed my hair and fluffed my skirt. I wanted my shadow to look pretty and neat. I looked down–– “Where’s my shadow?” I scanned the area but didn’t find her.

 

I watched the children trace each other’s long morning shadows, smiling and laughing all the while. The day was bright and hot and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. I faced away from the fiery sun and stared at the ground. “Where is it?” I sunk to the hard pavement sulking while watching the other children play with their silhouettes.

 

After a while, I left the school grounds. “What was I doing there? I should have been looking for my shadow. Those kids ignored me, anyway.” I rolled my eyes and moved on.

 

Across the street a large smooth wall bordered the sidewalk. Perhaps, I would find my shadow there. I stood facing the beige wall, as if gawking at it would produce a dark form, which would resemble me and mimic my every move.

 

I sighed deeply and turned my sights to a beautiful teenage girl wearing pink satin ballerina shoes and a romantic tutu that reached below her calf. She twirled and pranced up the street toward me. Her ebullient shadow danced on pointes in a succession of slow, soft, lyrical movements upon the wall. As the ballerina’s pose changed from pirouette to arabesque her shadow’s dance created the illusion that their movements flowed from one into another.

 

The ballet dancer and her shadow enchanted me. I wanted to be her–– lithe and elegant and to have a lovely shade to dance with me.

 

“Hello! You’re a delightful ballerina. I love your tutu skirt and shoes and . . .” My words drifted toward silence as she past me by without a glance.

 

I dragged my feet on the sidewalk while heaviness settled in my chest. Nevertheless, I kept vigilant and continued to search for my shadow. “Where are you, my shadow? Why have you left me?”

 

I wandered not knowing where I was going and then I heard mellifluous sounds in the distance. I was compelled to follow it. The music led me to a large cemetery. At first, I didn’t want to enter but glorious angels made of marble beckoned me and I couldn’t resist. “Perhaps I will find my shadow here.”

 

I approached a group of men playing musical instruments. They played a cheerful melody whilst wearing somber faces. “Has any of you seen the lone shadow of a girl?” The musicians ignored me and continued performing.

 

Shadows drummed, blew on clarinets, tooted horns and struck tambourines. The sun was angry now. I raised my squinted eyes to it. It was high in the sky––noon time and the shadows were short.

 

No one took notice of me. No one cared that my shadow is lost. “Why is this happening to me?” I uttered a shriek and kicked a rock lying before me.

 

“Are you alright?”

 

The words made me jump.

 

A boy with a wan complexion stood a short distance from me.  “You look upset.” He stared with doleful eyes.

 

“You are the first person that has spoken to me all day.” I smiled. ” My name is Emily––Emily Johnson. What is yours?”

 

“Hi Emily. I’m Michael. So, what’s wrong?”

 

“I seem to have misplaced my shadow,” I said feeling heat rise to my cheeks.

 

“I don’t have one either.” His voice was sad and he wore a wistful expression. “But the reason . . .”

 

“We both lost our shadows!” I interrupted. “Why don’t we look for them together?” I grabbed his hand before he could utter another word and tugged him all around the cemetery.

 

Michael pulled on my dress’ sleeve. “Emily wait . . . there’s something I must tell you.”

 

The sun began to dim. I brushed his hand away and hurried, my eyes flickering in every direction.

 

There were many people in the graveyard and their shadows were now long and scraggy, some looked rather creepy in the dim light. “We must hurry,” I said. “If we don’t find our shadows before sundown we may never find them.” I snatched his hand again but he wrested it out of mine.

 

He stopped and pointed straight ahead. “Look!” His expression was haunting.

 

I scrunched my forehead in confusion. I swallowed what felt like a sock rolled into a ball and took a few apprehensive steps forward. There was a dark form sitting on a headstone. I inched closer. The silhouette looked familiar. “Is that my shadow?” My words were but a breath.

 

Now, it was the pallid boy that took me by the hand. He led me to the grave where my shadow sat. I stood before it and read the engraving on the gravestone.

Emily Johnson

2005 – 2017

Here she lies but she never died!

*

Grief beyond all tears

Sweet bud that never blossomed

Turn to ageless dust

Burn in Mother Nature’s veins

Set all the blooms on fire

 

Suddenly, I was trembling like my bones had turned to frost. “That’s my name.” I looked at the boy and he lowered his eyes and nodded.

 

“That’s me? I’m dead?” My legs faltered and I fell to my knees. I stared at him. “You––are you dead too?”

 

He nodded. “We both died in the school fire. All the other kids got out but we were trapped and consumed by the fire.”

 

I shook my head in disbelief and pressed my face to my hands.

 

I glanced up and through misty eyes I saw my shadow leap from the tombstone into my grave and disappear.

 

Michael stood by my side and placed a hand on my shoulder. I had not noticed, until now, how cold his hands were. “I tried to tell you,” he said, “it was not your shadow that was lost; it was you.”

 

shadow-short_stories-The Writer Next Door-Poetry-RonovanWrites-haiku_Friday

I hope you enjoyed the short story and the poem hidden within. Have a happy Friday!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Haiku Friday – Eye & Fade

17 Feb

Hello and a warm welcome to my blog! It’s Haiku Friday and I hope you’re having a good one.

Eye and Fade are this week’s prompt words chosen by Ronovan Hester of Ronovan Writes.

Ron hosts a challenge that anyone could participate in called Ronovan Writes Weekly Haiku Poetry Prompt Challenge every Monday, and you have until Sunday to create a post featuring your haiku poem. He is an author and poet and also does author interviews and much more on his blog. Be sure to check it out. Read Ron’s Haiku Prompt Challenge Guidelines for more information.

**I will share a short story (flash-fiction) along with my poem this week. I hope you enjoy it.

The Writer Next Door-Vashti Q-Poetry-haiku-tanka-abbey watkins

Illustration by Abbey Watkins

D. I. D.

What’s my point-of-view?

I hear so many voices

I don’t know what to do.

*

Should I take my pills and fade?

Or sharpen my clip point blade?

The Writer Next Door-VashtiQ-Poetry-eye-DID-Haiku_Friday

I stare into the mirror but it isn’t me I see. Those black eyes staring back at me are not my own. Someone lives inside me and his one desire is to control me.

What to do with a mind you cannot control? A mind that thinks in ways you wish it didn’t and behaves in ways that isn’t you. Every day my body feels less and less my own. I’m fading away like a mist in the wind while this stranger takes over my entire being.

I live in his eyes as a mere spectator to the actions of my body. He comes and goes as he pleases while I’m imprisoned in the shadows of my mind. My desire to break free is great. I wish to burst through his gentle eyes and tear his world apart.

I want to destroy smiles––erase them from every face I see and turn them into horrified grimaces. I want to break hearts and ruin minds. I want to turn laughter into wails of agony.

However, every morning, as sure as the sun rises he takes his medicine and with this simple act I am trapped in the gloom of a foggy night––a prisoner in my own mind.

He peers into the mirror and smiles knowing that I am trapped behind his eyes. But as long as they serve as windows through which I can see the world––I will not fade. I only need wait . . . One day he will forget to take his pill.

Enjoy your weekend!

 

 

 

 

 

Writers Quote Wednesday – The Cursed Tree

13 Apr

A warm welcome to my blog. It is Writers Quote Wednesday and I offer you a quote and a story. Enjoy.

 

“And I came to believe that good and evil are names for what people do, not for what they are. All we can say is that this is a good deed, because it helps someone or that’s an evil one because it hurts them. People are too complicated to have simple labels.”

~Philip Pullman

scary_trees_The Writer Next Door-Vashti Q-quote-short story

The Cursed Tree

by Vashti Q

 

 

The earth rumbled, and the sky turned an ominous dark grey. Large black clouds swirled across the heavens, colliding with each other. A sweet, pungent smell drifted through the air. Once the rain arrived, other odors came. The pounding water shook the plants and trees and carried their odiferous particles in the air. Jagged lightning bolts split the skies, spearing trees and turning them to ash. Deafening thunderclaps made the garden tremble. God was angry. Man had betrayed him. The Garden of Eden would no longer be home to Adam and Eve.

 

Only one tree still stood among the devastated land: the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. It, too, was cursed and would not last long in the tumultuous storm of God’s rage. A powerful gust of wind removed a seed from this tree and blew it out of the garden and into the world.

 

The tiny doomed seed drifted to the area of a large, roaring river and landed near its bank. The winds continued to bluster, covering it in moist soil. Buried and forgotten, the small seed took root.

 

In time, the seed pushed through the soil a green, quivering stem adorned with tiny, prickly leaves.

 

“What is it, Cain?” Abel scrunched his nose.

 

“What does it look like? It is a plant of some kind.” Cain peered at the rudimentary tree.

 

“I know that, but what kind of plant? It looks different from all the other vegetation. I do not like it.” Abel’s thick blond hair fell on his face as he leaned forward to take a better look.

 

“I think it is a newborn tree, and I do like it.” Cain stared at it. “I am going to build a barricade around it to protect it from the animals.”

 

“Why?” Abel asked. “It is ugly.”

 

“I want to see it grow. Besides, sometimes things that begin as ugly can grow to be beautiful.”

 

Abel’s brow joined in thought. Cain brushed his brother’s hair from his face. He could not stand that his younger brother never tied his hair back. On the other hand he always kept his dark brown hair tied back and neat.

 

Cain kept to his word and built a barrier around the small tree. The boy visited the tree daily and made sure it was doing well. He even spoke to it. “I know you probably do not understand my words, or maybe you do. I know not. Nevertheless, I shall take good care of you and see what fruits you bear.”

 

“Thank you,” the tree responded in his mind. He jumped, startled by the strange voice in his head.

 

Cain looked around and saw no one. His deep cerulean eyes gawked at the small tree before him. “D-did you speak to me?”

 

“I did,” the tree said.

 

Cain gasped. He took a few steps back. “How is this so? Trees do not speak.”

 

“Just because one never spoke to you does not mean that trees do not speak,” the tree said.

 

Cain stared at the tree.

 

“Protect me and help me grow and I shall bear extraordinary fruit just for you.”

 

Wide-eyed, he nodded in agreement.

 

He continued to visit the tree almost every day. He pulled any weeds growing near it. He made sure the tree’s soil was moist and that it was receiving enough water. He also took care of the surrounding land. He planted fragrant flower bushes and verdant plants to grow along with the tree. Soon, he had created a small paradise with the tree in the center of it.

 

He had many conversations with the tree and it was a good listener. As Cain grew up alongside the tree, he did a lot of complaining about his brother Abel, and the tree paid attention.

 

Years went by, and both Cain and his tree grew big and strong. He had grown into a handsome young man—tall, with long, dark hair, eyes blue like the twilight skies, and creamy skin the color of golden powder sand. He loved the land and knew how to work it well, and working it made him strong and muscular. Every seed he planted yielded luscious fruits, vegetables, and beautiful flowers.

 

One day, he came to visit his tree. Cain carried a basket filled with delectable fruits and vegetables. He grumbled under his breath as he kicked stones in his path. He let the basket drop to the ground. The crops spilled out and rolled in different directions on the lush grass. He fell to his knees and wept into his hands.

 

“What is the matter? the tree asked. “Why are you so troubled?”

 

“Nothing I do is good enough!” Cain’s eyes were dark and glistened as he continued to weep.

 

“What do you mean? Everything I have seen you do has been extraordinary. Because of you, I thrive.”

 

“My father does not think so,” Cain said. “Only my brother, Abel can do right in his eyes.”

 

“It seems that your golden-haired brother does nothing but cause you grief.”

 

“Even God shuns my crops and acclaims his sacrificed lamb. I am the eldest, yet I have always walked in my brother’s shadow. But there is nothing I can do.”

 

“Kill him,” the tree said, “you can kill him.”

 

Cain gulped air and stared at the tree, openmouthed. “No! I cannot slay my brother!”

 

“Why not? You are much stronger than he is.”

 

Cain looked bewildered. “I-I just cannot kill him.”

 

“You have never killed but your brother has killed many times.” The leaves on the tree trembled. “Every time he sacrifices a lamb or a goat, he kills.”

 

“This is true, but it is not the same.”

 

“Why?” The tree’s stentorian tone surprised Cain.

 

“Because taking my brother’s life is taking a human life.”

 

“A life is a life! Why did you protect me so, if you did not hold this to be true?” Cain’s heart leaped to his throat as he pondered the tree’s words. “If your brother Abel can take a life, then so can you.”

 

Cain jumped to his feet, nodding. He stared ahead––his blue eyes glittering with the prospect of revenge.

 

“Sacrifice your brother Abel so that you may walk in the light. Once Abel is gone, you shall grow mighty in your father’s eyes.”

 

Without another word Cain rushed to find his brother. He found him on a nearby hill tending after his sheep.

 

“Brother!” He called.

 

“I am here, among the sheep.” Abel’s long, golden hair a mess and flapping in the wind.

 

“You are always among the sheep. It is no wonder you smell like one.” Cain wore a mischievous expression. Abel chuckled until he saw his brother held a large rock in his powerful hand. He looked at his brother’s face, then at the rock, and then at Cain’s face again.

 

“That is a large, menacing rock you carry.” Abel’s voice was tremulous. “What do you intend to do with it?”

 

Cain gripped the rock until his knuckles turned white. He clenched his jaw and flared his nostrils.

 

Abel, who sat on the ground, climbed to his feet. He stared at him with wide eyes and took a step back.

 

Cain narrowed his eyes. He looked at his brother’s hooded russet eyes, at his messy hair and his sun-kissed skin. He puffed and slammed the rock on the ground. “What do you know of fear?” Cain turned and ran away.

 

He ran all the way back to the tree.

 

“I could not do it,” he said breathless. “I hate him. He is my brother and I hate the air he breathes, but I cannot kill him.”

 

“Do you remember the promise I made to you?”

 

“You promised to someday bear extraordinary fruit for me. What has this to do with my current circumstances?”

 

“Have you noticed the small flowers that have grown on my branches?”

 

“I have. Apologies, I have been meaning to compliment you on those, but so much has happened that––”

 

“Apologies are not necessary. I only mention them because in four weeks time a fruit will grow amidst each bloom. A remarkable fruit.”

 

“Remarkable in what way?”

 

“You bring your brother to me in four weeks time, and have him taste my fruit. One bite will accomplish what you could not.”

 

Cain returned home and was at his best behavior. He was obedient to his parents and kind to his brother. He must be pleasant and amicable toward his brother so that when the time came, he would not fear to follow him.

 

There was a consequence to Cain’s feigned behavior. As he became nicer to his family, it seemed to him that they too became more pleasant to be around. He began to enjoy his brother’s company and his parents’ new praises and attention. Being obedient to his parents and kind to his brother had its rewards. He was enjoying his time with them.

 

Four weeks flew by and the time had come to take Abel to the tree. Cain observed his brother as he protected and guided his sheep. Once more he felt remorse. He dragged his feet back to the tree.

 

“I have changed my mind,” Cain told the tree. “I know longer wish to see my brother’s life extinguished.

 

“It is too late now!” the tree bellowed, causing Cain’s head to ache. “He must taste the fruit I bear!”

 

Cain shook his head. “No! I no longer desire his death!”

 

“For years all you talked about was your hatred for your brother,” the tree said. “You spoke of your hatred for him while you watered me. You spoke of your hatred for him as you pulled weeds from around my roots. You said over and over again, as you pruned and cared for me, how your life would be so much better if your brother were not around!”

 

“Things are different now. I am an obedient son and a loving brother. Since I have been good, my parents show me more love and my brother is kind to me.”

 

“How long do you think this shall last? You are not being yourself right now. You are being who they want you to be, and the day you grow tired of being an imposter, they, too, shall go back to the old ways. Remember your parent’s preference for your brother. Remember how they all looked down on you, as if you were lesser than they.”

 

Cain’s heart grew heavy. His face and body slackened. He stared at the tree through eyes blurred with tears. “You are an evil tree and the fruit you bear is an abomination.”

 

“If I am evil, it is only because you have fed me the hatred that consumes you. The fruit I bear is a product of your hostility and your odium.”

 

Cain’s eyes opened wide, his breathing became shallow and erratic. He turned away from the tree, unable to stand its evil presence any longer. He ran as fast as his feet could carry him. When he arrived home he saw his mother watering the root vegetables he had planted for her.

 

“Mother!” he yelled. Eve jumped. “Where is my brother?”

 

“I do not know. He went looking for you.” Eve looked at him with confusion. “You look pale and distraught. Is there something wrong?”

 

“I must find him.” He hurried to the hill where Able spent most of his time with his sheep. He was not there. Instead, Adam tended the sheep.

 

“Father, where is Abel?” Cain asked. “I must speak to him.”

 

“Your brother went off to look for you. He said he would look for you by the river where he thought you would be tending your favorite tree.” Cain gasped and his legs faltered. He plopped onto his knees.

 

His father hurried over. “What is the matter, son?”

 

“Nothing, Father.” Cain clambered to his feet. “I have been running around looking for him, and I am a bit tired.”

 

Adam responded, but Cain did not hear his words, for his pulse beat loud and fast in his ears.

 

“I must go now, Father.” Cain hurried to the small paradise he had created by the river. Standing next to his tree was his brother, holding a half-eaten fruit in his hand.

 

“You did not tell me your tree has yielded fruit.” Abel smiled. “It is the sweetest and most succulent of all fruits.”

 

Cain approached him slowly, shaking his head––large tears falling from his eyes.

 

“Did you not catch the stench of evil and death that comes from this treacherous fruit?” Cain’s face was marked with anguish.

 

Abel flinched and dropped what remained of the fruit to the ground. His face turned ashen and he dropped to all fours. He sat on his haunches, and his tongue wagged out of his mouth. He rocked back and forth. His mouth foamed and he held his hands in front of him like paws. Then he ran around in circles on all fours, making growling noises and tearing plants apart with his teeth before eating them. He approached his brother and sniffed him.

 

Cain retreated from him, his face twisted in disgust. “He is wild, eats grass and runs around on all fours. He is mad and has the mind of an animal.” Cain’s face was red with rage. “Why have you done this?”

 

“It is what you desired,” the tree said. “You could not kill him because he was human, but now he is but a mere animal. Kill him. Or do you prefer he live like this for the rest of his existence?”

 

“No!” Cain shook his head as his heart pounded.

 

Abel continued to growl and paw at him.

 

Cain stared at him. Tears flooded his face. Abel was human only in appearance. He saw that now. He could not allow his brother to go on like this, and he would not put his parents through the shame of watching their beloved son walk on all fours and eat grass. He would do what he must in order to make this right.

 

He grabbed a large jagged rock and walked over to Abel. He lifted the rock over his head. “Goodbye, brother.” Cain brought the rock down on his head again and again until his brother’s skull became one with the ground, and his warm blood covered his face and hands and colored the verdant grass red.

 

Cain saw what he had done and shouted to the heavens as he pulled the hair out of his head. “My brother’s blood calls out for revenge, so punish me, oh God! I deserve your worst. But before you do, please, allow me to watch the destruction of this evil tree. I implore you!”

 

The earth rumbled and the sky turned an ominous dark grey. Large black clouds swirled across the heavens, colliding with each other. Deafening thunderclaps made the ground tremble. A jagged lightning bolt ripped through the sky and speared the tree, turning it to ash.

Copyright © 2014 by Vashti Quiroz-Vega. All rights reserved.

♦♦

Colleen Chesebro is a writer, poet, and book reviewer. She hosts an inspiring event every Wednesday on her blog, Silver Threading, called Writer’s Quote Wednesday. Anyone can participate by choosing a quote by a favorite writer and posting it on your blog.

 

Writer’s Quote Wednesday – Short Stories

17 Feb

It’s the middle of the week and that means it’s time for Writer’s Quote Wednesday. Welcome everyone! I love short stories. I enjoy writing them and reading them as well. I have written several short stories for this blog, although it has been a little over a year since I wrote the last one. That’s because I’ve been so busy working on my Fantasy Angels Series and what little free time I have left after working on my series I use to work on my blog posts, social media, and blogging.

I haven’t had the time to write short stories in a while and that makes me sad because I love doing it. Anyway, I have gotten several new followers since I posted my last short story, so I decided to post the links to some of these stories. That way, those of you that have not read them can check them out, if you like.

A Town’s Perception

Murder She WrotePart 2, Finale

Raven’s Masterpiece

A Time to Mourn and a Time to Dance, Part 2, Finale

The Cursed Tree, Part 2, Finale

The Writer Next Door

“I would also suggest that any aspiring writer begin with short stories. These days, I meet far too many young writers who try to start off with a novel right off, or a trilogy, or even a nine-book series. That’s like starting in at rock climbing by tackling Mt. Everest. Short stories help you learn your craft.”

~George R.R. Martin

“A short story is the ultimate close-up magic trick – a couple of thousand words to take you around the universe or break your heart.”

~Neil Gaiman

“I love short stories because I believe they are the way we live. They are what our friends tell us, in their pain and joy, their passion and rage, their yearning and their cry against injustice.”

~Andre Dubus

“I find it satisfying and intellectually stimulating to work with the intensity, brevity, balance and word play of the short story.”

~Annie Proulx

Colleen Chesebro is a writer, poet, and book reviewer. She hosts an inspiring event every Wednesday on her blog, Silver Threading, called Writer’s Quote Wednesday. Anyone can participate by choosing a quote by a favorite writer and posting it on your blog.

Ronovan, from Ronovan Writes and Colleen have joined forces! He has been linking his #BeWoW blog share (Be Wonderful on Wednesday) now to include: Be Writing on Wednesday. If you would like to combine both posts feel free to do so and link them to Colleen’s post. She will make sure and add you to the quote wrap-up she does each Tuesday. Please make sure and check out Ron’s blog for more writing inspiration and motivation!

Enjoy your day! And don’t forget to read one of my short stories.

They will haunt you . . . 

Writer’s Quote Wednesday – Daydreams & Nightmares

15 Sep

Colleen Chesebro is a writer, poet, and book reviewer. She hosts an inspiring event every Wednesday on her blog, Silver Threading, called Writer’s Quote Wednesday. Anyone can participate by choosing a quote by a favorite writer and posting it on your blog. Check out her weekly wrap-up and be inspired by all the quotes.

AliceInTheGarden-2-359x450

Alice in the Garden by Jasmine Becket-Griffith

“You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we’re doing it.” ~Neil Gaiman

“I like to play around with my nightmares. Whenever I have a bad dream – something strange and unnerving – I write it down, sometimes in the middle of the night when everyone around me is sleeping soundly, and then I come back to it the next morning and see what I can make of it.” ~Carla H. Krueger

198270_klawter_nightmares-in-wonderland

Nightmares in Wonderland by K Lawter

 ♦

A short story based on a Daydream I had . . .

It Happened in an Elevator

A short story based on a Nightmare I had . . .

A Town’s Perception

A Town’s Perception – Short Story

31 Aug

 

A Town's Perception

 

Hello everyone! Thank you for visiting my blog today. I’m featuring a short story inspired by a nightmare I had. The nightmare was somewhat bizarre, as night terrors often are, but what I remember of it became the creative impulse that led to this story. I’ll call it a Sci-Fi/Horror.

WARNING: The story is a bit macabre.

 

( ^ Click PLAY to hear soundtrack ^)

 

A Town's Perception_Vashti Quiroz-Vega_The Writer Next Door

A Town’s Perception

by Vashti Quiroz-Vega

It began with the moon.

One evening I lifted my eyes to the skies, and the moon appeared to have doubled in size. After that, all sorts of curious phenomena began to occur. Everyone in my small town was in a panic.

Strange swirls of indescribable colors were seen in the night skies. During the day the sun shone blood red and colored the skies pink. It was as if we had been transported to a different planet overnight.

When I saw the ships in the sky, I knew it wouldn’t be long before they came for us, and I was right.

In the middle of the day, they came. I watched them disembark their ships, small groups at a time. They resembled men of diminutive stature with large heads. They appeared to waddle rather than walk. They wore weird metallic suits with respirators attached to their faces.

I rushed to my daughter’s side. She lay on the bed in her room, stared ahead at nothingness and wailed, as she had done for days.

My poor child. Her mind was not equipped to handle this invasion. I held her tight. I would not allow her capture. Who knew what these small creatures were capable of doing to her—-to us.

I pushed the barrel of the gun up against her temple to keep my hand from trembling. The cold metal did not stop her wails. Poor thing, her voice was so hoarse. I would extinguish the fire in her gullet.

I pulled the trigger. She fell on her side, her eyes still open wide, as if she could still see this nightmare. I shut her eyelids and finally gave her peace.

It was my turn. I’d convinced myself, like so many others in this town, that this was the only way out. I was the last to take action since I was taught to always have hope, but even those of us who always have hope had given up.

The priest took most of the townfolk. After his last sermon, he instructed the congregation to get on their knees and pray. While the town’s people prayed, the priest left the church and locked the doors behind him. Then he set the church ablaze.

Pitiful man of God, his mind also handled the crisis poorly. He burned those people alive: men and women, young and old. He had invited my daughter and I to attend his last sermon, and I agreed to go, but my daughter was not doing well, so we stayed home and were saved from a horrific death.

I live a block away from the church, and I heard the screams and howls of the burning souls. I ran down the street and was met with a fiery inferno. The stench of burning flesh and hair made me retch. I released the contents of my stomach right there on the street. What did it matter? There was no one around to watch me. I saw the priest stagger from the back of the burning building. My stomach was tied in knots.

“Demons! The demons are upon us,” he shouted. “If you remain they will take your soul!”

“What are you talking about?” I gasped and pointed a shaky finger at the combusting church. “There are people burning alive in there.” I ran toward the church’s double doors. The heat of the blaze stopped me. I sobbed unable to act. Those were my neighbors. My friends.

“You have to burn! Otherwise the demons will take your soul. I burned them because the fire will purify their spirits.” He stared at me with wild eyes.

My hands flew to cover my mouth upon recognition of what he had done. My legs faltered, and I fell to my knees. I trembled uncontrollably as the priest took steps toward me. I extended my quaking arms before me.

“Stop! Stay away!” I made an attempt to get to my feet, but my knees buckled.

“My dear, you must not remain alive. The demons will take your soul.” His voice eerily calm. He continued to trudge in my direction.

“You’re right!” I shouted. My head nodding briskly. “I know I must die. I must tend to my daughter’s demise also.”

“What? Your young daughter is still alive?”

“Yes, she waits for me at home.”

“No, no, no!” The man of the cloth pulled on his sleeves and shook his head like a madman. “You must go to her! It may be too late already. The demons do not waste time. A young soul like hers is a prime target. Go to her! If her soul is still intact, take her life immediately and then take your own.” He took a lighter out and flicked it on. He bent over and put the small flame against the hem of his cassock.

I tried to scream as I watched the fire spread and grow on the flammable cloth of his priestly vestment, but I opened my mouth and sounds did not leave my lips. I gathered all my strength and lifted myself off the ground. I wanted to run. Instead I barely escaped the wailing priest who floundered, engulfed in flames. I staggered past him. The crackle and pop of his burning flesh lingered in my ears never to be forgotten. Noxious smoke attacked my nostrils. The stench was so great, I could taste it.

The very next day, the little men came.

It’s time now. My daughter is gone. The entire town is gone.

*

A gunshot is heard. Men in white lab coats and facemasks run into a young girl’s bedroom. On the twin bed, dressed in pink, lies a pre-teen girl and a thirty-something-year-old woman. Both females are deceased due to gunfire wounds to the head.

“We’re too late,” one of the men in lab coats said.

“Well, maybe it is for the best,” his partner said. “There is nothing we could have done to reverse the effects of the chemical agent.”

“It’s a shame what happened in this town.”

“Yes, but how could we know Compound K would have this effect on them?”

“No––we had no way of knowing that the solution we prepared to cause infertility in the men and women of this town would turn into a powerful, hallucinogenic, mind-altering drug when combined with their water.”

“We’ll have to look into the town’s filtering system before we try this again in the next small town.”

“I agree, but let’s not allow this small speed bump to deter our cause.”

“Doctors,” a young man interrupted, “you asked for bottled water?” The men nodded and each took a bottle. They hardly took notice of the fellow. The young assistant leaves.

“Of course it won’t deter us. Our cause to save the planet by ending overpopulation goes beyond a few casualties.”

“Well, I wouldn’t exactly call five hundred people a few casualties, but such things happen in the name of science.”

“Absolutely.” The scientist gulps down his bottled water. Suddenly, he sputters. His eyes widen. “Th-thi-this water was bottled right here in this town!”

The other scientist fumbles with the bottle, trying to see the manufacturer’s name.

“How could this small town have a bottled water company?” Wide-eyed and hands trembling, the scientist stares at the lettering on the bottle. He reads, “‘We take pride in our fresh, clean mountain water and we use the highest quality water filtration systems.’ They bottled this water four days ago.” He drops the bottle, and it crashes to the ground.

“No!” his partner yells. “We put Compound K in the water supply seven days ago!”

“Maybe it won’t affect us in the same way as the townspeople. We’ve only drank a small portion in comparison to what they must have drank in the course of several days.” His voice wavers and his body shudders at the thought of having ingested the solution that caused all the townspeople to go mad and kill themselves. The other scientist stares at him, unnervingly silent.

Unexpectedly, the first scientist cries out and recoils. “Stay away from me! Don’t come near me. You will never take me alive!”

“What is the matter with you?” Staring at his partner and looking perplexed the second scientist takes a step back. “Oh, no.” His face slackens as realization hits.

His partner continues shouting, “You’ll never take me alive, Nazi!” He grabs a lamp and charges.

The scientist wrestles with his crazed colleague and seizes the lamp from him. The madman bites him on the shoulder. The scientist beats the man on the head and shoulder repeatedly until the lunatic finally unclenches his teeth and falls to the ground dead.

The scientist falls back against the wall, panting. He slides down the wall, landing in a crumpled mess on the floor. He holds his head in his hands and stares at his partner’s limp body, whose blood meanders toward him. Rivers pour from his eyes. His body shakes and convulses.

His eyes do not reflect what his mind sees.

The flames of hell surround him while demons dance around and torment him with everlasting pain.

 

A Town's Perception

Copyright © 2013 by Vashti Quiroz-Vega. All rights reserved.

The Best of 2014

5 Jan

The year 2014 was a year of high highs and low lows for me. I kept busy with my writing and blogging which made the lows bearable. One thing’s for sure––I ended the year on a good note. And I plan to make 2015 a positive year––no matter what happens.

 

“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.” ~ Buddha

 

My second book, The Fall of Lilith, should be out a little later this year. It is the first installment of my Fantasy Angels Series. I’ve written a few short stories for this blog––The Cursed Tree, Fall From Desire, and A Time to Mourn and a Time to Dance, using the same style in writing I used for The Fall of Lilith and the rest of the series to give you a taste of what it would be like to read the series. Soon I will post an excerpt from the book.

 

This year I would like to bring you more short stories in the genres I write, which are horror, fantasy, and suspense/thriller. If you know anyone who enjoys reading, especially in these genres, please let them know about this blog. I appreciate the support. I would also love to do more interviews, vlogs, spotlights on writers, poets, artists, and talented people in general.

 

To celebrate the new year I would like to list my most popular posts of 2014. Please feel free to click on the links, read, like, and comment.

 

Stories

 The Search for the Last Flower – (Horror) 12 Part Series about zombies

the search for the last flower

 

The Cursed Tree – (Dark Fantasy) 3 Part Series

The Cursed Tree

 

Fall From Desire – (Dark Fantasy) 2 Part Series

swamp-fallen angel-Vashti Quiroz-Vega

 

A Time to Mourn and a Time to Dance – (Dark Fantasy) 3 Part Series

A Time to Mourn and a Time to Dance

 

The Train Ride From Hell – (Horror) 4 Part Series

13-photo-the-fire-demon-on-the-train-tracks

 

Murder She Wrote – (Horror) 3 Part Series

Murder She Wrote_Vashti Quiroz-Vega's Blog

Most Popular Articles

 I Love Animals! 

Ahhh! Fresh powder!

 Why I think The World Should End

why I think this world should end

 Work-In-Progress Blog Challenge

The Fall of Lilith-vashti-quiroz-vega

Do You Judge An Author by His/Her Genre?

mehitobel Wilson

Fantasy Angels Series – (Dark Fantasy)

Author-Vashti Quiroz-Vega-fantasy-stories

The Mysterious Origins of Valentine’s Day

Lupercalia

Are We Eating Beakless, Featherless Mutant Chickens?

kfcchicken

Writer’s Journey

Book Reading/Signing

The Basement_book signing_vashti quiroz vega

Rainbow Bridge 

RIP-Rascal-Vashti Quiroz-Vega

A Sad Father’s Day?

cemiterio-s-joao-batista-vashti quiroz-vega

The Basement: Robbie’s Rite of Passage

The Basement-Vashti Quiroz-Vega

Popular Guests, Spotlights, and Reblogs

Stephen King

Stephen King 126

 Teachers Appreciation Week

248470-year-6-teacher-emidio-boto

 SPOTLIGHT: Photographer Robert Lino

robert lino_photographer

Risky Issues and Lorraine Reguly

lorraine-reguly-300x239

Interview With Vashti Quiroz-Vega Author of The Basement – Reblog from Ronovan Writes

Vashti Quiroz-Vega_writer_author

I hope you can stay a while and read one of my stories or articles. Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below. Contact me via my contact page or email if you’d like to be a guest blogger or be interviewed or featured in a spotlight on my blog.

The Search for the Last Flower – (Part 11)

5 Nov

Welcome to Part 11 of my horror series, The Search for the Last Flower. I appreciate all the comments, shares, and tweets. You guys rock! I’m glad you’re enjoying the story––it’s why I right. 😉 (Part 12 is the final installment and I will be posting it on Friday.)

 

thesearchforthelastflower

 

 

 

Caleb snatched his keys, opened the back door of his car, grabbed Lolita and shoved her in.

 

Lolita groaned and squirmed in pain.

 

“Stay with me, Lolita.” He got into the front seat and started the car. He pushed the pedal to the metal and sped away, just as Dr. Smith placed his face against his window.

 

“Talk to me, Lolita.” Caleb drove recklessly, weaving through traffic, ignoring stale green lights and stop signs, trying to get the girl to the hospital as soon as possible. Her wails and shrieks were making his head throb. He sobbed and pounded on the steering wheel.

 

By the time Caleb had reached the hospital, Lolita was quiet and still. He slammed on the brakes in front of the emergency entrance. He swung his door open and jumped out. It was hard to stomach what he saw when he opened the back door. Lolita lay sprawled on the back seat, naked, completely covered in her own blood and gore. How would he explain this? What the hell––he had to do the right thing. This woman needed medical attention. He grabbed her and carried her out of the car.

 

He rushed inside the hospital, leaving his car parked askew with the passenger side front and back doors wide open. His car could be stolen, but the only thing on his mind was to save the girl.

 

“Help me! This girl needs help!” He ran into the emergency room bellowing. “She’s dying! I need a doctor!”

 

Some people sitting around stared wide-eyed, others gasped, screamed, and some jumped out of their seats staggering backward in shock.

 

Several nurses ran to him, followed by paramedics pushing a stretcher. Caleb placed her limp, motionless body down on the stretcher. A young doctor came running while putting on his stethoscope’s ear tips. He tried to find a heartbeat. His brow knit tightly. He shook his head and grabbed her wrist to feel a pulse and then he auscultated her again. Nothing. “I-I’m sorry sir. The girl is dead.” The doctor looked at Caleb and pressed his lips together. He placed a hand on Caleb’s shoulder.

 

Caleb pushed his hand off. “No––no, check again! She can’t be dead!” The doctor opened his mouth to speak but Caleb yelled, “Check again! One more time––please.” The doctor stared at him with a pitying expression and auscultated her once more. He took longer than the last time. He looked up at Caleb, still maintaining the stethoscope’s diaphragm on her chest and shook his head.

 

Lolita’s eyes sprang open.

 

The nurses gasped and recoiled. The young doctor stared at the corpse. Caleb looked into her eyes. They were wild, cloudy and yellow. The doctor placed his hand over them to close them. Lolita reached and bit three of his fingers off with one bite. The doctor stared in shock at the stumps on his hand as blood jet out from them like geysers.

 

Lolita sat upright and grabbed the doctor from behind. She bit right through his lab coat and shirt into his upper back. The doctor howled in pain and pulled away from her. He stared at her with a confused expression.

 

A nurse ran to help the doctor. Lolita jumped off the stretcher and seized the nurse by the hair. She bit her on the neck. As the nurse screamed and struggled, Lolita continued to bite pieces off her until she lay still, and someone else got Lolita’s attention.

 

The emergency room was in an uproar. Nurses, paramedics, doctors, and patients were running, crying, screaming. Caleb backed into a corner of the room and watched––immobilized by fear and dread. Lolita moved differently from Dr. Smith. She was faster, stronger, and more agile. She grabbed one person, took a few bites and then grabbed another. At least eight or nine people were bit so far, and she showed no signs of slowing down.

 

She must be stopped. Every person she bit would eventually become like her. He knew that now. She must not leave this place––everyone she’d attacked must not leave this place. But it was too late. Many of the bitten had already left the building.

 

As Caleb watched Lolita chase several screaming people out of the emergency room, he became lightheaded. He slid down the wall. He hugged his knees, rocked, and held his head. This would never end now. It would spread until everyone in the city was a crazed––can someone dead be called crazed?

 

He knew he should not sit still. This was all his doing and he had to fix it. He could return to the lab and figure out how to stop this before it truly was too late. He was the only one who could do it. He had to find the strength.

 

Caleb made an attempt to rise, but his legs trembled, his knees faltered and he fell on his rump again. He looked at his hands. They trembled like leaves in a windstorm. He took a deep breath. He had to calm down and take ahold of himself. The longer he lingered, the more victims of his elixir there would be.

 

He rose and looked around the emergency room. There were two paramedics lifting the young doctor, who had attended Lolita, off the floor and onto a stretcher. One of the paramedics bent over to lift the stretcher, his head too close the doctor’s face.

 

“No––get away from him,” Caleb said under his breath as he ran toward them. The doctor opened his eyes and ripped the paramedic’s ear off with his teeth. The paramedic staggered away, howling in pain. His partner dropped the clipboard he was holding and went to help him.

 

“It’s too late for him!” Caleb yelled at the paramedic who was trying to help his friend. “Get away from him and leave this place or you, too, will end up like the doctor.” The paramedic looked at his friend, Caleb and then the doctor, who had already jumped off the stretcher. He left his friend and ran away as fast as he could. The other stood in shock, putting pressure on the hole that was his ear. The doctor launched at him, knocking him to the floor.

 

He pulled his shirt apart, buttons flew everywhere. He gnawed on the paramedic’s belly until he made his way inside and began to feast on his intestines, while the man still squirmed and squealed.

 

Caleb staggered backward, retching violently. He looked around. Others who had been bitten and died were beginning to rise, animated by the synthetic essence of the Brazilian tribe’s last flower.

 

This was his doing. Could this be undone?

 

Copyright © 2014 by Vashti Quiroz-Vega. All rights reserved.

 

zombies

 

Thank you for reading! Leave your thoughts in the comment section.

Don’t forget about the Giveaway! Read, comment, and win!

The Search for the Last Flower – (Part 2)

25 Oct

Hi! Welcome. This is the 2nd installment of my short series, The Search for the Last Flower. If you haven’t read Part 1 you can read it here. I hope you enjoy!

 

yellow_eyed_demon_by_pufferfishcat-d4w6kox

 

“You were wrong––we were wrong.” Clarice showed the woman her wiggling infant. “Look, Flaviá, you have a healthy baby boy.”

 

Flaviá stared at her and then at the infant with a demented and confused expression.

 

“What’s wrong with her eyes?” Dylan stepped back. “I don’t remember them being yellow like that, and why is she drooling?” He continued to move farther away from her.

 

“I don’t understand. Her eyes were dark brown. How––” Clarice glanced at the doctor for answers, but he looked as confused as she did.

 

The doctor sniffed the air. “What is that smell?”

 

Flaviá snatched the baby from Clarice’s arms.

 

“Easy Flaviá, you don’t want to––” Clarice’s words were strangled by the horror she witnessed. The tribeswoman took a bite out of her baby’s head. The infant, who had been crying, died instantly.

 

Clarice screamed and clambered to her feet. She ran to Dylan who was crying out as he watched Flaviá spit bone out of her mouth and continued to extract gray matter from the infant’s skull.

 

Dr. Johnson jumped to his feet and stood paralyzed, watching the horror scene unfold before his eyes.

 

Dylan grabbed Clarice’s hand and pulled her toward the door. He pushed and shoved on the door, but it was jammed.

 

“Open the door!” Clarice screamed, unable to take her eyes off Flaviá.

 

“I can’t open it!” Dylan continued to ram the door with his body.

 

“Dr. Johnson, help us!” She pounded on the door and sobbed.

 

The doctor gawked at the monstrosity before him and couldn’t move. “I smell smoke,” he said under his breath in a flat, dreary tone. “Where’s it coming from?”

 

Clarice ran to him and pulled on his clothes. “What is wrong with you? We have to go!”

 

The doctor finally snapped out of his stupor. He hurried to the door and helped Dylan try to open it.

 

“It’s no use,” he said. “They’ve barricaded us in here with her.”

 

“Why would they do that?!” Dylan pulled the hair on the sides of his head.

 

“Maybe they blame us for her death?” Clarice looked around the room for a way out.

 

“But she isn’t dead . . .” Dylan’s eyes rolled up, and he slammed his hands against his outer thighs.

 

Just then, Flaviá rose from the ground. She had devoured the infant almost entirely but she wasn’t done yet. She fixed her wild, vivid yellow eyes on Dr. Johnson. Her long, black hair draped the sides of her face and she walked toward him in an eerie, stiff, twitchy way. Her head hung to one side and appeared to be resting on her shoulder. Blood framed her mouth, gore hung from her teeth, and tainted saliva dripped off her chin.

 

Dr. Johnson swung his arms in front of him with his palms facing forward. “No! Stay away from me!”

 

Flaviá grabbed one of his arms and before he could do anything to defend himself, she bit into the flesh of his lower arm. Muscles, tendons, ligaments stretched between her teeth and the limb. He wailed.

 

She tore off and slurped the tissues into her mouth like spaghetti. He slumped over, holding his severed arm and shrieking. She sunk her teeth into his shoulder. The doctor winced and howled. Blood escaped his wounds in jets. His legs faltered, and he collapsed. Flaviá leapt on him and began eating the flesh off his face as he writhed on the ground, flailing his arms and legs.

 

Clarice and Dylan stood openmouthed petrified with fear. It seemed an eternity of torture because the doctor would not die. Clarice turned away and retched several times until she vomited all over her shoes. She closed and covered her eyes and pressed her face and body against the door.

 

Dylan was compelled to watch the monster. She sunk her teeth into the doctor’s lower lip, shaking her head like a rabid animal until she pulled it off, and then she did the same to his upper lip while he continued to groan and squirm. She dug her finger into his eye sockets, yanked his eyeballs out of their orbits, and shoved them into her mouth.

 

Dylan pressed himself against the mud, stone, and grass wall of the hut. He felt his throat burn with acid erupting from his stomach. His breathing was labored, and his heart beat faster and faster. A warm stream traveled down his leg, wetting his pants. He slid to the floor and broke down in sobs.

 

Death finally came for the doctor. Flaviá pulled his body to a corner of the hut and continued feasting.

 

The abrupt silence made Clarice turn around and open her eyes. The hut was filled with smoke. She had not noticed the smoke seeping in because she was too distracted by the walking corpse. Her darting eyes noticed blackened areas on the hut’s walls.

 

She gasped and began banging on the door again. “Help, please let us out of here!” She fell to her knees, coughing. “The doctor is dead. Please don’t do this!”

 

Dylan watched her and got off the floor. He looked around and realized why she was in a panic. He began to dig near the wall by the door. Clarice joined him. After they had dug a few inches, flames crept in from the outside.

 

Dylan’s hand was soaked in a liquid and covered in flames. He shrieked and shook his hand. Clarice grabbed soil from the ground and tossed it on his hand. She did this repeatedly until the fire was out. He held his hand out and bawled. Clarice hugged him, but he was too distressed and in too much pain to be consoled. She wept between coughs and wheezes. There was no way out. It seemed they would die this day––eaten alive––by corpse or fire.

 

The tribesmen had barricaded the door of the hut where Flavía had died. They had dug a trench around the hut, poured a combustible liquid into the trench, and lit it on fire. The elder had ordered that the hut and everyone inside be burned to ashes. He knew it was the only way to contain the curse of the walking dead.

 

Copyright © 2014 by Vashti Quiroz-Vega. All rights reserved.

Hagrid-s-Hut-on-fire-harry-potter-28284088-500-210

 

 I hope you enjoyed Part 2 of The search for the Last Flower.

 

 

Image

Short Horror Story – Raven’s Masterpiece

5 Oct

Best friends

Raven and Nina - Bffs

Raven and Nina – Bffs

beautiful-bestfriends-besties-blonde-brown-hair-Favim.com-141657_large

“Lake Creepy-Crawly”

Nina & Raven

Nina & Raven

(^ CLICK PLAY for music track)

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Raven’s Masterpieces

by Vashti Quiroz-Vega

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“Raven, I can’t believe you’re really going through with it.” Nina’s face was frozen in an astonished smile.

 

 

“Once you and Travis leave for college, there’ll be nothing left for me in this small town.” Raven frowned. “Besides, I’m an artist, Nina! I need to expand my wings and fly!” She swung her arms outward and fell back on the grass surrounding Lake Creepy-Crawly.

 

 

“But . . . New York is such a big city. Aren’t you afraid you’ll be swallowed up by the masses?”

 

 

“I plan to shine bright like a Nova. By the time I’m through with that town, everyone will know my name.”

 

 

Nina glanced at Raven and giggled. Raven joined in her laughter and suddenly jumped to her feet.

 

 

“Lets go in!”

 

 

“Go in where?”

 

 

“Lets go for a swim in the lake. For old time’s sake.” Raven’s blue eyes glittered with mischievousness.

 

 

“No way! Why do you think the town nicknamed it Lake Creepy-Crawly? If you go in, you won’t be swimming alone. There are things in that lake. They’ll crawl all over you.”

 

 

“That’s not true!”

 

 

“It is!” Nina yelled. “No one has gone swimming there for years. Not since the incident.”

 

 

“Do you mean when the fish died?”

 

 

“It was more than just a few fish. Old man Sam said that the big company out by Expiry road had something to do with it. He saw them dump things into the lake one night. The next morning, the lake’s fish were floating on the surface. Dead.”

 

 

“Old man Sam drinks!”

 

 

“Yes, but he wasn’t the only one who witnessed the dead fish, and everyone knows that nothing grows or lives in that lake anymore, except . . . except those things.” Nina shuddered.

 

 

“It’s been a while since that happened.” Raven looked out to the lake. “Those things have probably always been there. Besides, they’re tiny.”

 

 

“They were tiny. With time, everything changes . . . and not always for the best.”

 

 

Without waiting for the end of Nina’s sentence, Raven ran and jumped into the lake and splashed around happily, as though she hadn’t a care in the world. A powerful feeling of foreboding enshrouded Nina like a suffocating blanket. When Raven finally emerged from the lake, Nina rushed to her.

 

 

“You’re nuts! Sometimes I think you just do crazy things to torment me.”

 

 

Raven scoffed. “Who’s being dramatic now, huh?”

 

 

Nina picked up the blanket they had been sitting on and placed it around Raven’s shoulders.

 

 

“Ugh!” Raven groaned. She tilted her head sideways and pounded on it with the palm of her hand.

 

 

“What’s wrong?”

 

 

“There must be water in my ear.” Raven shook her head. “There, I think that did it.”

 

 

“I don’t know how you could swim in that murky water. Look at it—it’s black!”

 

 

Raven waved her hand dismissively. “Let’s go home.”

 

 

“Yes! You need a shower.” Nina giggled, pinching her nose and waving her hand as though to clear the stench in the air.

 

 

“Gimme hug! Me want big hug!” Raven joked as she ran after a screaming Nina.

 

 

*Two months later *

“Campus life is great! ” Nina raved on the phone. “I’m really enjoying myself here. I’m doing really well in my classes, and I’ve made some new friends. Oh, and Travis says hello!”

 

 

“That’s great. I’m doing okay, too. I’m painting almost non-stop. I showed one of my works in progress to the manager of a posh art gallery downtown. He was impressed and offered to show my work in early November.”

 

 

“That’s awesome, Raven!”

 

 

“Will you come for the opening?”

 

 

“But we talked about me visiting for Halloween, remember? To see how New York celebrates our favorite holiday?”

 

 

“You could stay through the first week of November,” Raven said in a sullen voice.

 

 

“What’s wrong?”

 

 

“Nothing. Why do you ask?”

 

 

“You don’t sound like yourself. Aren’t you excited about Halloween and your very first art show?”

 

 

“Of course I am. It’s just these headaches . . .  I can’t seem to shake.”

 

 

“Have you seen a doctor?”

 

 

“No. It’s only headaches. Two Advil, and I’ll be all right.”

 

 

“But if you can’t get rid of it—”

 

 

“The pills will help take the edge off so I can get back to work.”

 

 

“Alright, but if the headaches continue, you’ll need to see someone.”

 

 

“Yeah, well . . .  If I want to have these paintings done by the opening, I’d better get back to work. We’ll talk again soon.”

 

 

“Okay. Bye, Raven. Take care.”

 

 

*One month later*

“Aaaahhhhhh! Aaaahhhhh! Get out of there!” Raven pounded her head. She collapsed to the floor and pulled her hair with both hands. She screamed and groaned as she squirmed on the floor of her one-bedroom apartment.

 

A banging on the door did not stop her howling.

 

 

“Miss Raven! Open the door, Miss Raven!” An old woman banged on the door. “That racket is driving everybody crazy!”

 

 

Raven opened the door. Her long dark hair was disheveled and covered a good portion of her face. Her shoulders were scrunched around her ears. Her blue eyes, once vivid azures, were now dull and foggy, with intense redness where the whites should be and deep dark circles underneath. Her usually rosy lips were pale and dry.

 

 

At the sight of her, the building superintendent flinched and squinted, as though trying not to capture all the unpleasantness at once. “Are you ill?” She stared at her wringing her hands.

 

 

“No. I’m fine.”

 

 

“You don’t look too good. Maybe you should see a doctor.”

 

 

“A doctor can’t help me with what I’ve got!” Raven bellowed making the woman jump. “You need to leave me alone.”

 

 

“I have received countless complaints from your neighbors about screaming, loud banging and crashing noises coming from your apartment.”

 

 

“You keep knocking on my door!”

 

 

“And each time you tell me that the noises will stop, but I keep getting complaints from your neighbors.” She added with a grumble, “If the noises don’t stop, I’ll have to call the police.”

 

 

“I assure you–––the complaints will stop.”

 

 

The superintendent narrowed her eyes. “Make sure they do. I don’t want to come back here again.” She turned and shuffled away.

 

 

Raven followed the old woman with her eyes until she was out of sight.

 

 

*

“Hello, Raven. How are you? I’ve been calling and leaving messages, but you never return my calls.”

 

 

“Hi, Nina!” Raven said in an excited voice.

 

 

“Are you alright?”

 

 

“I’m great!”

 

 

“Why are you yelling? You sound manic. Are you sure you’re fine?”

 

 

“I’m just excited to hear from you. I’m sorry about not returning your calls. I’ve been very busy, working on my paintings. I’m all done now! I have left over materials, so I’m using them to decorate for Halloween. You’re still coming up, right?”

 

 

“Yes, of course.”

 

 

“Good! I’m throwing a Halloween party! I’ve invited some friends and neighbors. You’re going to love what I’ve done with the place.”

 

 

*All Hollow’s Eve*

“Raven is going to be surprised to see you. I hope she doesn’t get angry,” Nina said.

 

 

“Why would she? I’m your date for the party.” Travis blinked at her and smiled.

 

 

“She hasn’t been herself lately. Sometimes on the phone, she seems despondent and her voice is barely audible; other times, her voice is excited and shrill. But the last time we spoke, it was more like a groan or a growl.”

 

 

Travis scrunched his brow. “That weird.”

 

 

“She’s been having these terrible headaches, but she refuses to see a doctor. I’ve been calling her all day, but I haven’t been able to reach her. And yet, she knows I’m arriving today. I hope she’s okay.”

 

 

“Well, she’s throwing a Halloween party. How bad could she be?” Travis said. “She’s probably busy putting the party together.”

 

 

“You’re right. Halloween was always our favorite holiday. She’s probably knee-deep in Halloween décor right now. It’s going to be fun.” Nina tried to force a smile. “Anyway, thanks for coming with me.”

 

 

Travis and Nina approached Raven’s apartment building. They rang the buzzer several times, but no one answered. Travis pressed on the inner door, which swung open.

 

 

“Hello,” he called.

 

 

There was no answer, so Travis and Nina started up the stairs. When they reached Raven’s apartment , they found the door ajar.

 

 

“I was expecting festive lights and blaring music.” Travis glanced at Nina with a puzzled look on his face.

 

 

“Why is her door open?” Nina shook her head and bit her lower lip. The door creaked as she pushed on it, and they entered the dimly lit apartment. All the lights were off, except for a small lamp on an end table near the sofa. The curtains were drawn. The smell hit them almost immediately––rancid, jolting, evil—a stench to make the inside of their noses burn.

 

 

“Wow! She really went all out with the macabre theme.” Travis scanned the room his face pinched.

 

 

“What’s that smell?” Nina covered her nose and mouth with her hand.

 

 

“That is one of my best works,” a dark, sinister voice answered. Nina and Travis jolted and directed their eyes toward the voice. Nina’s legs faltered. If it weren’t for Travis, she would have fallen.

 

 

“Raven?” Nina gasped.

 

 

Raven’s skin appeared ashen and leathery. Her ratty, black hair framed her face like heavy curtains. Her eyes were bloodshot, and she wore a raggedy long black dress.

 

 

“Do you like my painting?” Raven tottered toward her.

 

 

Nina reached for Travis’ hand and gave it a squeeze. “Your . . . painting?”

 

 

“Yes, come and have a look.”

 

 

Nina and Travis followed Raven deeper into the apartment. Nina’s heart pounded. A thin film of cold sweat covered Travis’ forehead.

 

 

“At first, I couldn’t figure out what my series of paintings should be about.” Raven waved a paintbrush like a conductor’s wand. “Then an explosion of light went off in my head. Why not make paintings of my neighbors gathered for a great supper?”

 

 

“Interesting concept.” There was a slight tremor in Travis’ voice.

 

 

Nina stepped closer to the painting to have a better look, but then backed away. The stench seemed to be coming from the painting itself. Its surface was slathered in deep red paint and there were rubbery objects attached – no doubt the type of props that gag shops offered around Halloween. Nina looked around. All of the walls were adorned with the dark red paintings.

 

 

“So, you like them?” Raven’s manic tone was back in her voice.

 

 

“Well . . . ” Nina gulped.

 

 

“I like your costume, Raven.” Travis fidgeted and glanced at Nina.

 

 

As Raven brought up her hand, Nina noticed that the handle of the wooden paintbrush had been sharpened to a point. Before Travis realized what was happening, Raven had stabbed him in the chest. He stumbled and fell on his back. Nina wailed, dropped to her knees and began to shake him. He lay still, his eyes wide open.

 

 

“Why Raven? Why?” Nina stared imploringly at the monster that was once her friend.

 

 

“I’m not wearing a costume.” Raven glared at Nina. “Do you like my paintings or not?”

 

 

Nina was sitting on the floor directly beneath one of the paintings. She peered at it through eyes blurred with tears.

 

 

“Well? What do you think?” Raven’s voice became angry and vicious.

 

 

Nina jolted and wiped the wetness from her eyes with trembling hands. She shuddered as she was finally able to see the painting for what it was. Those rubbery objects attached to its surface weren’t from the gag shop – they were real intestines, brains, hearts, tongues, spleens, and who knows what else. How many people died here? Her stomach churned, and she felt lightheaded.

 

 

“Tell me!” Raven stared at her with a wolfish expression. Then she became calm and studied Nina’s face. Suddenly, Raven said cheerfully, “If you don’t like it I can always improve it.”

 

 

Raven lurched over to Travis’ body and grabbed his head, lifting it by the hair. She buried the tip of the large paintbrush into the tear duct and popped the eyeball out. She did the same with the other eye to the rhythm of Nina’s wails. She grabbed the eyeballs dangling on his cheeks and yanked them from the optic nerve. Nina felt an expansion in her head and a weakness throughout her body. She retched several times.

 

 

She can’t have a fainting fit. She has to get to her feet! Nina’s eyes shifted to the door. Raven stood between her and the exit.

 

 

“Here we go. Much better, right?” Raven attached Travis’ eyes to the bowl of soup in the painting. The painted bowl was now crowded with eyeballs. “My neighbors were always watching me, so I decided to paint an homage to their prying eyes.”

 

 

Nina screamed. Her hands flew to cover her mouth. Trembling, she clambered to her feet.

 

 

“I knew it! I knew you wouldn’t be happy for me!” Raven twitched with rage. “I knew you wouldn’t like my work. Well––I have a few more improvements to make, but for the final touches, I’ll need something from you.”

 

 

Raven lunged at Nina, clutching her filed paintbrush.

 

 

Nina’s legs started moving, as though on automatic pilot. Her heart beat loudly in her ears.

 

Raven chased her, howling ghoulishly.

 

Nina ran to the kitchen. Her eyes darted. She spotted a large knife sitting on the counter. She grabbed it and held it in front of her. Her mind raced and she panted.

 

Raven charged and ran into Nina’s extended arm, which held the knife. Raven stared into Nina’s eyes and moaned. Nina thought she heard her murmur, Thank you.

 

 

Nina released hold of the knife, and Raven slid to the floor. Nina kneeled next to her and rocked back and forth, sobbing. Her mind was unable to fully grasp what had just happened.

 

 

“Why? Why did you do this? Raven . . . why?”

 

 

She saw the answer to her question as Raven took her last breath. They crawled out of her ear by the dozens—the wiggly wormy things she recognized from their hometown lake. The parasites were vacating Raven’s head, no longer having a live brain to feed on.

 

Copyright © 2013 by Vashti Quiroz-Vega. All rights reserved.

 

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 Edible Body Parts –– Bread!

 

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Okay, before you guys go off the deep end, let me explain. The images of the human body parts are unsettling I know, but guess what? They’re actually bread. Yes! Your eyes are not playing tricks on you. Thai artist and baker Kittiwat Unarrom creates these edible bread sculptures and sells them at his family’s bakery!

I don’t think I’d be able to put any of this bread in my mouth without retching, but hey, if you’ve ever fantasized about eating a person zombie-style hop on a plane to Thailand and visit Kittiwat’s bakery and you can do it legally. Read more about this Body Part Bakery and The Walking Bread here. Check out this video.

Yes, all of this is edible!

Yes, all of this is edible!

Edible bread body parts