Tag Archives: dark

Gone

I remember the day I disappeared. It was a Saturday. A normal day. I had gotten off work early, and decided to roam the streets of this strange city I had found myself in.

It was the day my calls went unanswered. My text messages left unreplied. I stopped mid step as traffic roared by. I felt invisible. At first I was confused- why did everyone leave me?

But then I realized that it was me that had left them. I was the one that had gone so far, far away. The force of an encroaching darkness squeezed my vision to a closing pinhole.

I had been conversing with shadows all this time. Oblivious to the fact until the shifting figures had blended into the surrounding black. Hours past with me standing on that sidewalk. No bystanders seemed to notice. They didn’t care about me, nor I them. I was alone in an avenue bursting with people.

So I conjured up memories to keep me company. For a moment, the dim lights of long gone times floated by. They were happiness, sadness, snapshots of places I yearned to return to.

I was aware that they were headlights, but I reached for them anyways.

The squeal of brakes carried me away.

I’d rather be dead than gone.

Happy Fourth

Billy turned down the volume on his car radio as he pulled into the empty parking lot. He checked his map. This was the place. An old strip mall full of abandoned nail salons and Mexican restaurants. A general sense of unease coated the area like grease on fries. He was a long way from the suburbs.

“Hey Billy!” A familiar voice shot out from one of the buildings. “Come on in! Glad you could make it!”

Billy couldn’t help but smile. Red was always coming up with these crazy shenanigans for the holidays. And the Fourth of July would be no exception. But he had never taken the group so far into the south side. Still, Red’s voice seemed to melt away any inhibitions.

Billy shuffled out of his car and into the dilapidated building. It was once a Payless shoe store. The kind Billy used to go to in middle school. It was weird seeing it in such bad shape. It was an empty concrete husk with scrap metal laying haphazardly along the edges of the floor and a single barrel in the center of the room. Red leaned against it as he shook with excitement. Another figure lurked in his shadow, Billy recognized him as someone from his school but could not seem to place a name to the face.

“How the hell are ya Billy? It’s been too damn long!”

“It’s been two days.” Billy shot back with a grin.

“Well, do I have something planned for us tonight!” He gestured to the plain looking kid next to him. “This is John. You probably know him from Algebra.”

Billy and John made brief eye contact before turning back to Red.

“So John here!” He clasped him on the back upon mentioning his name. “He says we can shoot fireworks at him for $50. He needs the money or something I guess.”

Billy smiled sheepishly and stepped back.

“What the hell is this man?”

John spoke up. “Look, I need the money and Red said I could stand all the way at the back of the store while you shoot. Just do it man, everybody wins.”

Billy tried to play off his comments with a shrug, but he still felt uneasy about the whole situation. Red was not helping with a manic energy that shook Billy. He was not sure why Red wanted to shoot fireworks at this kid and it was unlike him to be so outwardly mean.

Before Billy could protest, John was already walking to the other side of the room. Red was suppressing a deep chuckle. He inched a bony elbow into Billy’s chest.

“Hey Bill.” He whispered. “So you know how my Pa was fired from the plant the other day?”

“Yeah?”

“It was this fucker’s dad that fired him.” He gestured into the barrel.

Billy’s stomach flipped over. He could tell this was not going well. And when he peered into the barrel he was expecting the worst. Only to find a standard pack of fountains and sparklers. The relief was breeze that swept away his anxiety. If only that was all he found in that barrel inside that abandoned payless shoe store.

“Check it out man.” Red lifted the fireworks and underneath were two hammers. One for Red. One for Billy. “Let’s fuck this guy up. By the time he turns around and realizes it, he’ll be trapped.”

Billy paused for a moment. This was wrong. He knew it was wrong. But Red was his best friend. He reached into the barrel and grabbed his hammer. His hand shook with the implications of what he was about to do. When would they know when he had enough? What if they accidentally killed him? So many questions. He looked over to Red who was already getting in a few practice swings.

Red flashed a toothy grin. “Happy Fourth Billy.”

Rock N Me

107.9 FM bid me goodbye with an old jam hot off the airwaves.

Well, I’ve been lookin’ real hard
And I’m tryin’ to find a job
But it just keeps gettin’ tougher every day
But I got to do my part
‘Cause I know in my heart
I got to please my sweet baby, yeah

I learned pretty early on that if you blur your eyes the right way, you can see the world for what it is- a wasteland. You have to scavenge for everything you need in life and the last thing I wanted was a damn reminder.

A reminder of how I had failed.

I hushed the volume to a whisper, leaving a trail of hot blood pooling over my dash. The biting pain in my head subsided. Colors began to darken and swirl about.

Framed

I DIDN’T DO IT

A puddle nestled between the gaps in the cobblestone road splashed as I sprinted past. Soaking my aching feet. The shopkeepers looked up from their wares at my racing figure in horror. It seemed that the news traveled faster than I could run.

My stepfather always had it out for me. Though he was a pillar of the community, he was a cruel man. It started with little things. My mother’s ‘stolen’ necklace stashed under my pillow to turn her against me. A local grocer’s till found under the floorboards of my room to portray me as a criminal. He took care to never abuse me. At least not in any way that could leave a mark. He would always say the same thing: “Who are they going to believe?”

But it had never gone this far before. That man wanted to ruin me.

“You! Stop!” A policeman yelled from a passing alleyway.

He shouldered a flintlock rifle to scare me into submission. I didn’t stop. Even when my leg exploded in pain at the cracking of the gun. I collapsed onto the ground, clawing my way down the street. I had to escape.

“Get him!” An orchestra of fast footsteps grew louder.

I felt a boot press against my bloody leg. Though the agony was unbearable, I pushed the impending screams down to the pit of my stomach. I looked up at the grizzly man in uniform.

“Alan Whitaker. You’re under arrest for matricide. You fucking scum.”

I could hear the ferocity in his growling voice. He was right to be angry. A woman was dead. My poor mother. I found her head under my pillow when I got home, her hacked up body was crammed under the floorboards. When I confronted my stepfather in his study, he only laughed.

“Who are they going to believe?”

Dig

The foot squeezing my rib cage kept me pinned to the ground. A soil spattered edge of the shovel pressed against my trembling throat. My Adam’s apple struggled to gulp repeatedly, stopped each time by cold steel. The man standing above me in a jet blue suit stared into my soul with squirming pupils. He pulled the spade away, releasing me. My body convulsed with involuntary coughing and wheezing.

“Do we understand each other then?”

“Yes.” I wiped away tears with a hand caked in dirt.

“Get diggin’ then.”

I reached for the shovel, but the well dressed man pivoted it out of my grasp. He gave me a disapproving look with empty eyes.

“Your hands. Use them.”

I nodded obediently, then I rolled onto my knees and sunk my nails below the withering grass of the forest floor. Tearing into the earth’s crumbly flesh. Buried rocks and roots cracked against my knuckles, insects wriggled from out their furtive burrows. Occasionally I looked back at the man. He leaned casually against his shovel, tapping his foot impatiently.

“You done yet?”

The pit was barely a foot deep. My spine racked nervously.

“We got all day.”

I dug til the clouds bled orange and purple. The evening breeze whistled its way between the twisting pines. I was sure to take it all in. Memories of the most mundane variety were increasingly precious to me.

“Stop.” The voice boomed, echoing through my core.

The man fiddled his fingers playfully. A wicked smile revealed his festering teeth. The blade of his shovel scraped a trail as he walked toward the pit. I stepped out to face him. I had resigned myself to die, but my fists disagreed. They squeezed around the sharpest pebbles I could find. The man met me at the edge of the hole. He had swung the shovel over his shoulder. His wrist twitched with anticipation. There was not a moment to lose.

“Thanks for your-“

I threw the rocks with the force of a coal train. They clattered harmlessly off his surprised expression. All I needed was an opening. I sprung low to the ground, tackling the man off his feet. A pained exhale exploded from his chest as he slammed to the ground. I took advantage of his shock and wrested the shovel from his grip. He laid there, breathing heavily as I rose to stand. I used the shovel to finish the job.

Thinking back, I should’ve called the police. Instead I buried the mutilated corpse. And stuck the shovel into the ground. It was all I knew about him. I thought it a fitting headstone.

Hangman

It was a quiet night on Park Avenue. The swirling snowflakes falling from the clouds muffled the noises of traffic. Only the occasional car horn broke the melancholy silence.

He had chosen this street as his courthouse because the townhouses were built before 1944. Aside from being mostly abandoned and slowly decaying, they had basements and walls made of brick. Perfect for keeping sound from escaping out onto the street.

Although good bones were necessary in choosing a house, he had also taken every other precaution. Nothing was getting in or out until deliberation was complete.

He threw his trademark white plastic grocery bag over his head and gently cut out holes for his mouth, nostrils and eyes.

8 O’clock. It was time to begin.

He strolled down the hall and swung open the door to the basement, releasing a blast of desperate screams for help. With an outstretched finger he flicked on the florescent lights. They buzzed angelically to a horrific display.

A man with a pin striped blue suit stood shaking on a construct of wood. His hands restrained behind his back, and a noose of coarse rope around his neck.

Facing him was a captive audience. Twelve men and women from all over Clearwater County. Strapped to sturdy wooden chairs with zip ties and duct tape, they looked equally distressed.

He stepped up onto his wooden structure and ran his finger along the sweaty face of the well dressed man.

“You bastard!” The man retaliated with in an unbridled fury. “Do you know who I AM?! You’re DEAD!! DEAD!!

He chuckled at the man’s attempt at a threat and then turned to the crowd. With a swift stomp of his foot, the cries died out and with a twitch of his head he began the proceedings.

“Hello. My name is Gallow.” He began in a gravely voice. “Or at least.. That’s the name you need to know.”

His plastic mask crinkled as he scanned the room. Making intermittent eye contact with every single person. He held up three fingers.

“Now there are three parts to the modern justice system.” He continued. “As you can probably guess by my whole vibe, I am the executioner.”

He paused to let the captives yell in the horror they must have experienced at that statement. As they struggled and looked at each other with terrorized expressions, Gallow glanced at his watch.

They usually come to a realization after about 5 minutes. He thought to himself. In this case, the realization that screaming isn’t going to change anything.

As per his prediction, the last voice hushed.

5 minutes and 17 seconds. He rolled his sleeve back over his watch face and resumed.

“As I mentioned previously, I am the executioner.” Gallow clapped his hands once and jumped from the wooden platform. “But you! You all are the judge and jury. I only carry out your will. And I DARE not question your final decision.”

A woman with tear smeared mascara shook in her seat.

“If you’ll do as we wish then LET US GO!!” She beckoned.

Several men yelled in agreement.

“All in due time madam.” Gallow cooed calmly as he paced in front of the jury. “But first! You must do your civic duty!”

He paused.

“And remember!” He pointed up playfully. “God is watching.”

The man with the noose against his throat struggled violently on the stage.

“So you brought them all to judge me?! IS THAT IT?!” Saliva burst from his lips with every word. “And what if they all vote me innocent?? You’ll let me and them go unharmed?!”

With a lively crinkle, Gallow returned to his deliberate pacing.

“Well to put it plainly, yes. Yes I would.”

He could feel the relief of tension in the cold basement.

BUT” He held up a finger once more. “You wouldn’t want to do that without hearing more about the accused.”

The jury clamored in protest, but Gallow peered back down at his timepiece and waited for their outbursts to expire.

He hopped back onto the platform and gracefully stroked an iron lever connected the floor of the wooden stage. He continued with a more somber cadence to his hoarse voice.

“Steven Wyatt.” Gallow’s bag rustled as he threw a piercing glare at the man on trial. “CEO of Wyatt Enterprises. Anyone heard of him?”

A short Asian man with a sweat-soaked maroon shirt raised his hand cautiously.

“Yes! You!”

“Well, uh.” The man gulped with a nervous energy. “They’re the guys making groundbreaking cancer research right? I hear about them on the news all the time.”

“Correct!” Gallow beamed beneath his grocery bag mask. “Actually- half right. Wyatt Enterprises also dabbles in another business venture.”

He let silence reclaim the room for a dramatic effect.

Human trafficking.

Gallow took a moment to absorb the faces of the jury, but was still met with resentment towards him. The big reveal didn’t seem to work.

“His company literally buys human beings and uses them for chemical trials.” Gallow stressed. “He treats people like cattle! Most die. VERY painfully. And the police- They just turn a blind eye because of his political connections. Steven Wyatt is all that is wrong with America! Sure he appears to have good intentions. But in the end it’s all about money, and trampling over everything in his way! Including the laws of God and of this country!”

He looked around to see if he had swayed any opinions. His audience held the same expressions of hatred as they had before. None directed at the man restrained next to him.

HA!” Mr. Wyatt spat. “They won’t fall for your little speech! YOU are a hypocrite!! YOU are the one with no regard for the law!!”

Gallow sighed and turned to the seated individuals.

“I’ll be taking your votes now.” He stated monotonously. “Keep in mind the verdict must be unanimous. Also that outside of this room, Steven will never face any consequences for his actions. Whatsoever.”

He started from the left and worked his way down the line of chairs. Pointing with a meaty finger to coerce a vote.

“Not guilty.”

“Not guilty.”

“Let him go and let us go. Not guilty.”

“Not guilty.”

“Not guilty.”

“You’re a monster.. Not guilty.”

“Not guilty.”

“Not guilty.”

“Not guilty.”

“Not guilty.”

“Not guilty.”

YOU LOSE. Not guilty.”

Gallow’s bag crinkled as he shook his head. The people had spoken. He mused.

“And I was getting all excited to pull that lever and watch him squirm.” He whipped out a pocket knife and put it in the greasy palm of an teenage girl, no older than 16. “As I said, you’ll be freed. And the accused will be spared.”

The girl squealed anxiously as she sawed her way through her plastic bindings. He watched patiently as she finished and passed the blade to the woman sitting next to her. The woman was in her mid-thirties. Frantic. Crying. Pregnant.

Noticing the violent sentiment growing in the room. Gallow decided to make his exit and strolled up the stairs. Towards the door leading back into the hallway of the townhouse. A few steps in, he snapped his fingers and spun around. The woman cutting the last of the zip ties around her arms froze mid-action.

“One last thing I forgot to mention!” Gallow slapped his hand against his forehead comedically. “Stupid me! Of course the jury is out on Mr. Wyatt, so as per our agreement, my hands are tied. But it would have helped if I had brought up some evidence during the trial.”

He shook his head playfully and gestured to the teenager shaking in her chair, trying to unwrap the duct tape from around her legs. He proceeded with a grave tone.

“Why don’t you go ahead and check under your seat for me sweetie.”

She stared at him with wild eyes. Slowly reaching beneath her seat while keeping her eyes on Gallow’s swaying figure. She moved her fingers around randomly until she grasped a large vanilla envelope. She picked it up and curiously dumped the contents onto her lap. She riffled through until she held up a white sheet of paper.

Her eyes widened. A new breed of fear rose from the bottom of her chest.

“Wha- What is this?!” She demanded. “WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS?!”

Gallow chuckled. His mask rustled as he brushed the thin plastic over his scalp.

“My dear girl. THAT is a bill of sale. Note your picture at the top and Mr. Wyatt’s signature there at the bottom. You see I-” He took a deep breath before finishing. “I found you all unconscious in a lab at Wyatt Enterprises.

The man with the rope around his throat turned visibly pale. For the first time he stopped fidgeting and stood deathly still. All of his earlier confidence had vanished.

“I knew he wouldn’t recognize you because frankly- He’s a monster.” Gallow chimed. “But like I said, my hands are tied.”

Gallow stood at the doorway at the top of the stairs. He swung the door open, shot a wink, and closed it behind him.

The second he released the knob, muffled noise exploded from the basement. He methodically pulled off his mask and brushed up his sleeve to look at his watch.

After 5 minutes and 33 seconds the emotional, panicked screaming ceased.

After 5 minutes and 46 seconds he felt a satisfying *THWUMP* vibrate through his shoes.

Gallow leaned back from the door and cracked a wry grin. He ran his fingers through his hair and casually strolled out the front door and onto the snow laden Park Avenue. He was in no rush.

It could take up to twenty minutes for Steven Wyatt to die of strangulation. And Gallow knew that the jury would stay until justice had been served.

Sleep

I opened my eyes reluctantly, hoping to hold on to my dreams a little longer.

While I slept I would roam the endless plains of North Dakota. Back to the freedom I once knew.

When I woke, I knew I would be returned to this nameless hellhole. My whole world was everything a 60 watt bulb could illuminate. My freedom, restricted by a chain link fence hooked up to a row of car batteries.

A pure darkness laid at the periphery of everything in my existence. Occasionally I could hear water dripping, but I tried not to fall into its hypnotic rhythm. Lest I slip into madness.

I never found out who had trapped me here, how it had happened, or why.

The only escape was to make it disappear. I tried- Forced myself to sleep.


REAL TALK

Depression is something I struggle with. Sometimes when I am content a voice from inside tries to convince me that it is just a dream, and I am destined to wake up to the reality that all the hope in the world was never real to begin with. I know that’s not true- but I can’t seem to escape it sometimes. The battle, at least for me is to remember that depression is the dream. It’s not real. And at some point I will wake up.