The Moving Painting

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The painting is driving me mad, why won’t it stay still? At every slight movement I make it twists and turns in kind, the demented, wrinkled old man encased in its frame running this way and that but always staring at me whenever I look squarely at it.

Hannah, the day nurse, told me the painting is really a mirror. I know she’s lying to me though.

A Haunt

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There are people in my house, and they won’t go away. I can’t see them, but I can hear them walking around while I’m trying to sleep. Sometimes I run out to confront them but they scatter off, their footsteps pounding across the floor. I yell and I plead at them through the walls to be quiet, but they just wail back in return.

They’re the worst thing to happen to me since my death.

I’m Your Best Friend, and You Don’t Even Know Me!

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She thought the text was a joke at first. “I’m your best friend, and you don’t even know me!” it read, the white space behind the text glowing comfortingly. Arienne laughed, wondering how whatever friend had sent the text had managed to make their number show up as “XXX-XXX-XXXX”.

Wanting to retrieve the current novel she was reading, Awake, so that she could settle into the couch for a late night of reading, she started up the stairs to her bedroom. She had just reached the top of the stairway when she heard something ram into the front door once, twice, and then burst it open and ran into the living room in a split second. It roared triumphantly as she stood paralyzed, a monstrous and inhuman scream.

Her phone lighted up with another message. “But you will soon.”

An Illusion of Memory

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You were at the psychologist’s office because of the bad dreams you’d been having. Dreams that you’d killed a girl when you were in high school. Normally you’d write such dreams off as nightmares, but though you know you didn’t have anything to do with it, this girl actually disappeared. “Please sweet Jesus bring our little girl back to us,” you remember her mom saying on national television as you studied for your AP finals.

“I’m ready to see you now,” Dr. Heston says, ushering you into her office. You spill your guts to her, telling her about your nightmares, how the girl disappeared and eventually her stepfather was found guilty of her disappearance, but how you kept having dreams that you killed her. “In the dreams it’s the middle of the night and I wake up for no reason,” you say. “I’m just an observer, and my body moves on its own. I get out, walk out the back door, walk to her house, and sneak in her window”–this is when you start crying–”I, I smother her, and then take her to my back yard and bury her. That’s when I wake up.”

Though initially alarmed about your revelations, on your next visit Dr. Heston says “I looked up the case, and it’s clear her stepfather did it. He confessed both to a fellow inmate and then later in court. I think you have unresolved childhood issues that need to be dealt with, though. I propose we go to your parents’ yard and dig where you think you buried her in your dreams. When you see that there’s nothing there perhaps this deranged illusion will leave your mind.” Though you think she was a bit wordy, you agree. As you work swings, you meet her there the next night at 10pm, about an hour after your parents hit the hay. “Go on, dig,” she says, handing you a shiny new shovel that she must have bought just for the occasion.

When you uncover the skull, she has just enough time to gasp and turn to run before you hit her in the temple full on with the spade-end of the shovel. While you push her now lifeless body into the hole on top of the skull you start to weep, but a moment later you start laughing as you realize you’ll just forget about this too. After all–you’ve done it before.

The Looming Pine

The tree has a long and sordid history, starting with when it killed my uncle Luke back in ’87. He was clearing brush from around the edges of my grandparents’ property. As he was raking up pine needles underneath the tree on a clear and windless day, somehow a branch spontaneously snapped off, landing directly on the crown of his head and killing him instantly. I was too young to remember him, but my parents told me about it years later.

In ’90 my grandparents found a deceased homeless man propped at the base of the tree’s trunk. They lived in a small town two hours from the nearest city, and the cops could provide no answer as to why the man had decided to bring himself up to the tiny northern town, much less how he’d died. Not two months after that a local boy plowed into the tree on his four-wheeler and painted the trunk with his brains. The tree is by an off-road bike trail, sure, but it’s prominent and practically the only obstacle on the whole route. Continue reading

Headlights (Flash Fiction)

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The car sits idling outside my house, its headlights cutting through the otherwise complete blackness. It’s raining heavily, and every few seconds the windshield wipers on the car brush up and down the windshields. The god-awful squeal they make reminds me of when I was when I was growing up on the farm and dad would slaughter the pigs at the beginning of spring so the hams would be ready for sale by Easter.

The headlights click on and off, and I know she’s spotted me. I draw my hand back from the blinds like they are white hot, and stumble back from the window.

Despite my best efforts, a sob escapes my mouth. Tears follow rapidly. I know I was drunk. I know I shouldn’t have driven that night. I had blacked out–not that that’s any defense–and her headlights are all that I remember after leaving the party.

I’ve done my time, society has forgiven me. So god, oh god, why can’t she?

In the Blend

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This is another flash fiction story I originally posted on Reddit:

Joaquin was working late. Carlos had called in sick the way he did the day after every payday, and Joaquin was stuck covering half of his shift. It would be a 14 hour day when it was all said and done. Fucking bastard.

Tonight he was stuck scrubbing out the industrial blender. Used to chop up beef into fine fine chunks for canned chili, it was a disgusting mess every time he cleaned it. Scrape scrape scrape, scrub scrub scrub, ad nauseum.

He was so absorbed in his work that he didn’t even notice Esteban walk in and start mopping the floor. He noticed the click when Esteban’s mop handle hit the “on” button on the blender he was working on though.

There wasn’t even enough time to open his mouth to scream.

The Monster Under the Bed

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“Come on little buddy,” the voice underneath my bed pleads. “Just come down here, it’s great. Like a party. We’ve got games and toys and every TV show you could want.”
“I’m not coming,” I say stubbornly. “I know what you want. You’re a liar, god fucking dammit! You ate Jonas, he was my best friend. You stripped him limb by limb as he begged for his life, you think I forgot that? And besides, your ‘temptations’ are outdated.” The monster doesn’t reply, stubborn bastard that he is.
“Thad, what’s that light under your bed,” I still hear Jonas say in my dreams, the last words he spoke. I roll over and try to sleep again. The psychologists said the monster would go away when I got older, when I got to the end of high school. My 28th birthday was last month though, and it’s still under my bed. The monster doesn’t care where I am, or how long it’s been, just where I sleep. Sometimes Jonas is down there with it too. They really want me to join the party.

In the Air

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I’m flying. Soaring above the clouds. The fields all look circular. Why are the fields circles? They look square from down on the ground. I dive through a flock of birds headed to Costa Rica to wait out the winter, narrowly missing a direct hit with one. Flying dreams are a common occurrence for me, as well as lucid ones, but never have I had both at the same time. This is great.

I can see cars now, they’re like little toys. People too–they look just like the tiny bugs that hover around porch lights from dusk until dawn, little specks of things that I’ve never bothered to learn the name of. I look to my right and I see a city with giant arches jutting out from it. It’s funny that I would dream of St. Louis, as I’ve never been there.

Except…except the thought of St. Louis makes me remember something about having to go there for a meeting, getting on a Boeing 747, and looking out over the late-summer landscapes when a man started yelling. There was a giant BOOM, followed instantly with fire and then a sudden lightness. I realize I’m strapped to an airplane seat, and then I start screaming, while the little people get bigger and bigger.

This story was originally published by me on Reddit, under my user name Deusmachina.   If you’re a Redditor hit me up!

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