Tag Archives: dark

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.

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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.

The Land of Opportunity

The rabble outstretched their hands feebly as I trudged through the layer of filth coating main street. A hooded figure stood atop a stack of crates, illuminated by the torchlight of the gathering crowd. He preached solidarity and glory to those who followed the ‘righteous path’. A path whose first step is a donation to the Brothers of Raya. Rounding the corner, I nearly collided with a troop of city guard. Formed up and ready to break up the gathering.

A lone streetlamp enlivened the filthy cobblestone leading up Monroe Street. Beneath, a woman rubbed against the pole seductively. Her red hair cast a shadow over her face. I shot her a winning grin.

“Fancy meeting you here Eliza, I was just on my way home”

She chuckled and tossed her hair, revealing a stunning freckled face. She licked her lips.

“Food’s on the table.” Her eyes darted to the ground. “I was hoping we could have dessert before dinner.”

I walked to her till our faces nearly touched. Her breath was warm and smelled of mint. She quivered as my shadow began to envelop her slender figure.

“My darling, how could I refuse?”

I embraced my wife. We joined hands and giggled amongst ourselves, nearly running with anticipation. When we reached the end of the street we stopped in our tracks. I shook my hand free Eliza’s. Her body was taken by fear and could not move an inch. Three scrappy migrant men stood outside the doorway to our home. The skinniest of the three caught us in the corner of his eye and nodded his head. The men sprang to life, catching me off guard with their blinding speed. One clocked me with his right hand, sending me spiraling onto the cobblestone. He positioned himself over my body and mercilessly beat into my face. With each blow came a flash of white, until it suddenly went black.

I woke on a rickety wooden table surrounded by concerned faces looking down. The smell of vomit and ale wafted through the air.

“He’s alive!”

The crowd thrust their mugs into the air and cheered “Glory, glory Brigdania!”.

“Wh-what happened?” I whimpered. The pain was coming back to me.

The group quieted and averted their gaze. A cheery man with a stout red beard pushed his way to the head of the table. Obviously drunk.

“A right shame mate. Gang of migrants jumped you an the missus. Seems they got you down easy. Your lady struggled, I’m sure that’s why they cut her throat.”

The men of the inn beat him away from the table. Then looked back down at me, pity plastered their blank faces. Though sadness did not once cross my mind. It was a smoldering rage that swelled in my chest.

“Fuck the migrants. Fuck ‘em all!” I spat.

I jumped to my feet and from the squeaking table, commanded attention from the concerned people below. My pain had subsided, absorbed by sheer fury.

“Fellow Estuarians! This is our city! There was a time when we felt safe, but it seems so long ago! They dared to attack me and my wife in front of our own home! When does it stop?!”

A blonde woman behind the bar raised her dish rag defiantly.

“When we fight back!”

Others joined in from around the bar.

“Yeah!”

“What gives ‘em the right to push us around!”

“We are Estuarians!”

“This is OUR land!”

“Glory, glory Estuaria!”

The entire inn had come together in resistance. The room erupted into cheer. With white-knuckled fists and drink-fueled hatred. I landed off the table with a heavy thump. I grabbed the lantern from the doorway as made my exit. My kinsmen were quick to follow me with whatever weapons they could muster. The reality of the situation did not set in until we had reached the city commons.

“There are thousands of them.”

The mob that had seconds ago been so full of life now cowered away. The commons, once an empty field in the center of the market district was now little more than one amorphous dump of wood beams and canvas. The refugees packed into hastily constructed shelters. In the dead of night the bustle and chatter of merchants emanated from the miniature city. There were just too many of them. The once cheery red-bearded man slapped his hand against my back.

“Ya gave it a try mate.”

He paused for a moment, as if lost in thought before catching up with the rest of the drunks. This is not the end. I swung the lantern in circles around my shoulder a few times before releasing it into the air. As it flew I felt no remorse. Their screams had intensified by the time I had returned. This time, with more lanterns.

Disillusionment

I was but a bright eyed boy when my dear mother passed. Her throat slit while she slept. My father was sent to prison under suspicion of her death where he eventually fell ill and expired. Of course, he was entirely innocent of the crime.

It was a drifter that came to our door that day. He was soaked through his heavy wool coat. Bones rattling to a deathly rhythm, one that had shook the life from his eyes. I distinctly remember a dark presence burdening him, radiating like black steam. I begged my mother not to take pity. But she was a foolish woman. Too kind for her own good.

When the man had finished with her he rooted through our kitchen and stormed out the back. Not before giving a patronizing pat to the back of my head. It was at his touch that the darkness began to take root. The feeling was that of a hand crushing my skull, fingernails digging ever deeper into the depths of my mind. A madness that to this day has failed to cease.

Perhaps I should have stayed. With my testimony, my father surely would have avoided his unjust sentence. Instead he came home to a dead wife and policemen welcoming him with shackles in hand. The only witness had slipped out the door.

On the road life was less than pleasant. Every passing day was a testament to will and desperation.

Travelers would occasionally stop and offer whatever help they could. Though never enough to loosen the grip on my head. Once you have seen evil it becomes a part of you. A part that if not properly drowned, will pound electrifying spasms of torment into the chest. I think that is why I kept walking. Each step staved off the darkness, I knew nothing else.

I woke this morning unable to make it to my feet. Three weeks of hunger and exhaustion had taken its toll. I fear death will take me soon. But more than that, I fear the thoughts that encroach while I lay here.

Before it all goes black I will see true darkness.