Sunday, October 31, 2021

Overheard at Booth 4: The Horrorprompts of Verble Gherulous - 2020

Verble Gherulous Horrorprompt 2020

Dec 7, 2020
#horrorprompt 399 Sacred Offering 
My cat always brings things to me at the back door, puts them at my feet like a sacred offering: birds, field mice, rabbits. 
But this morning, this morning I tell you my blood froze in my veins, when she dropped at my feet 
a child's hand.

Dec 3, 2020
#horrorprompt 398 In the Bogs 
In the pub, October minded her pint, while two locals discussed the men who'd gone missing over the past month. 
"Family abandonment," said one. 
"Spate of suicides?" asked the other. 
Passing them on way to the door, October said, "In the bogs."

Dec 1, 2020
#horrorprompt 397 At Your Door 
You grew up, being taught to fear the wolf at your door, when instead, they should have warned you about the wolf you occasionally glimpse in the mirror.

Nov 21, 2020
#horrorprompt 394 Coagulated Strands 
The deputies knew he'd thrown the girl's body into the well, but when they pulled out the bloated pieces to find coagulated strands of different hair that they realized ...they needed to look at the last 30 years of missing persons reports.

Nov 12, 2020
#horrorprompt 390 Leave a Scar 
Surgeon [to the intern]: The art of this extraction is not to leave a scar. 
Intern: Is that what the ice is for? 
Surgeon: And why you prop 'em up in the tub. Hand me another bucket.

Nov 10, 2020
#horrorprompt 389 Shadow Dragon 
Chasing the Shadow Dragon, he’d wasted his life & the family fortune. 
On his deathbed, he was tended by his only remaining family: his sister. 
As she injected the phenobarbital into the IV, she said, “You. The Shadow Dragon has always been…you.”

Nov 10, 2020
#horrorprompt 388 Pins and Needles 
Back at October’s brownstone, Terry swigged his after-dinner drink, then tried to kiss her. 
She said, “Wait. Anticipation is sweet.” 
“I’m on pins and needles,” he grinned. “Well ... you will be.” 
Then, the room shifted and colors blurred …

Oct 7, 2020
#horrorprompt 382 Insane Asylum 
October spent her formative years at the Caldwell Insane Asylum, upstate New York. 
She says it was a good preparatory school: She keeps hair samples in clear plastic bags, liquified skin samples in corked beakers. 
All meticulously recorded.

Oct 6, 2020
#horrorprompt 381 Interdimensional Gateway 
Jed’s research into interdimensional gateways cost him his family. 
Shunned, mocked by his peers, living in a storage unit, he worked feverishly, until finally, it opened & he saw himself, who smiled & said, "Now I have your world, too!"

Sep 15, 2020
#horrorprompt 376 Perpetual Penance 
"For your crimes, you are banished to the land of Perpetual Penance." 
"No! Anywhere but there! Please, just kill me here!" 
"That would be too merciful. You deserve the worst Hell in the Universe."
I looked at my new prison: Earth.

Sep 8, 2020
#horrorprompt 374 Final Crescendo 
He called himself The Conductor.  
He tapped the podium with the baton, and the music began to play, 
slow at first, then building in intensity, the strings 
tightening around the wrists of his players ... 

to the final crescendo.

Sep 3, 2020
#horrorprompt 373 Inhaling Death 
During Freshman year, Paul developed the idea that sleep is "inhaling Death." 
He did everything he could to stay awake, & would wander the campus, whacked-out, all hours of the day. 
Christmas break, he finally slept. Garage. Car still running.

Sep 2, 2020
#horrorprompt 372 Forged by Fire 
"Well, it is indeed the double-edged sword that is forged by fire," she said, as she dug the kidney out of the man she'd brought to the motel, as he lay there, unconscious in the bathtub filled with ice.

Jul 14, 2020
#horrorprompt 356 Dissolving Memory 
The more the old woman slipped away, losing touch on a dissolving memory, the more we thought we’d never know who murdered all those children. 
Until her final day, in a brief burst of clarity, she smiled,
… and told us in detail how they begged for death

Jun 10, 2020
#horrorprompt 351 Inoculated 
The vampire snapped back from the woman's neck, its throat searing in pain. 
"HOW?!" it screamed. 
"Lunch," she replied, drawing forth a wooden stake. "Garlic-stuffed chicken. Three full cloves." 
The last word the vampire said: "Inoculated!"

May 27, 2020
#horrorprompt 350 Spiderweb Dreams 

Apr 29, 2020
#horrorprompt 349 Normal Life 
Having broken quarantine, Jeremy tore through the drumstick, Lizzie dug into the breast, & Joey chewed gizzards. 
Mum & Dad poured wine into glasses from the veins of the traveler's eviscerated corpse. 
They raised a toast. “To Normal Life again!’

Apr 29, 2020
#horrorprompt 348 Wave After Wave 
They bombed us, wave after wave, for days, but when the bombing stopped, that was when we knew true fear. 
Because they would now be coming door to door, looking for survivors.

Apr 17, 2020
#horrorprompt 347 Desperate Hordes 

Apr 13, 2020
#horrorprompt 346 Rabid Bunny 
The Sheriff explained to the Feds who’d come to investigate the serial murders, 
“The guys say she humps like a rabid bunny. Don’t snicker! 
I’m sure it’s all fun and games for the vics until she jams the icepick into their eye socket.”

Apr 3, 2020
#horrorprompt 344 Solitary Confinement 
It wasn't the solitary confinement that drove him mad. 
It was the voices that were locked in there with him.
Mar 31, 2020
#horrorprompt 341 Dust Bowl 

Dust Bowl, Oklahoma 

The drought had killed most of the crops and the locusts took the rest.

Birds perched on branches, 
waiting for us to die.

Ma, granpa & I held on, until
the day, 
from the wall of dust, 
earth to sky, 
walked toward us.

And we knew his name.

Mar 22, 2020
#horrorprompt 339 Quarantine 

Hector, 8 years old, heard his mother & her boyfriend in the other room, 
talking about not leaving the apartment during the quarantine. 

"Fuck," mom's boyfriend said, "If I'm stuck here, I’m gonna wind up
using the belt like -
every damn hour!" 

Hector started to cry.

Mar 20, 2020
#horrorprompt 338 Second Wave 

The first wave decimated us. 
Bodies incinerated, buildings in ruins. Electronics useless. 
We are completely on our own. 

But the second wave was even worse. 
Because in the second wave, they took us alive.

Mar 18, 2020
#horrorprompt 337 The First Act 
A Passion Play 
Director to actors: In the First Act, we choose a member of the audience, and shower adulation on him/her. 
For the Second Act, arguments and divisions ensue. 
Third Act: the stage crew brings out the cross, hammer and nails ...

Mar 17, 2020
#horrorprompt 336 New World Order 
CDC meeting 
Virologist: The virus is a sentient hive mind and only kills those who can't be absorbed into the collective! 
One official: That's a bunch a crap! 
Virologist *eyes glazed, metallic voice*: That is why you'll be dead by sundown.

Mar 10, 2020
#horrorprompt 334 Fresh Kill 
Tom was amazed by Amber's collection of various blades, from pocket knives to the wall-mounted 8' pole lance. 
As she showed him her favourite flaying knife, she said, "I always keep the blades sharp, you know why?" 
"I love fresh kill."

Mar 3, 2020
#horrorprompt 333 Seeds of Dissent 
It was so clear, so very clear at that moment, as the crowd broke through the doors & poured into the palace to murder my entire family, making me watch before they gouged out my eyes, that I had been the ruler who had sown the seeds of dissent.

Mar 2, 2020
#horrorprompt 332 Fibonacci Sequence 
The moment I saw the victim, her intestines pulled from her torso & spiraled around her body like a snail shell, I knew the press would call this guy "The Fibonacci Killer." 
Great name, sure, but plays to the narcissism of every mathematician.

Feb 26, 2020
#horrorprompt 331 Blank Stare 
They'd been living together on a few months when he realized that she sleepwalked, nights that he would find her, standing over the bed, silent, with a blank stare. 
Then, one night, he saw the glint of moonlight against the metal of the scissors.

Feb 22, 2020
#horrorprompt 330 Hunter's Call 
Taking the key from the motel desk clerk, I heard a shrill cry from the nearby hills. 
"That's just the Hunter's Call," he told me. 
"It's midnight!" I said. 
"Well don't complain about it," he said, "That's how we had a vacancy for you."

Feb 20, 2020
#horrorprompt 329 Powder
In opening letters to forward to the Top Office, they trained you to distinguish between true needs & false flags, to weed out profane invectives, yet they can never fully prepare you for when you open the envelope & out spills the yellow-tinted powder.

Feb 14, 2020
#horrorprompt 328 Ornamental Skull 
The ornamental skull on the shelf looked vaguely familiar, the chip above the eye socket, the indention in the cranium. 
Behind me, she said "That's where the hammer fell." 
I stretched forth my fingers to touch ... but they passed through.

Feb 12, 2020
#horrorprompt 327 Empty Shell 
Meg was the best of them: funny, kind, always painted cartoons for the kids & baked for the elderly. 
The whole town mourned when they found her by the county line: entrails scooped out, torso propped against fence post, looking like an empty shell.

Feb 7, 2020
#horrorprompt 326 Wilted Bouquet 
The cake, imploded. 
Forks, scattered. 
Wine from overturned glasses stains the white lace. 
Broken guitars. Broken cameras. Broken bodies. Broken chairs. 
In the corner, they are still feasting on the bride. 
In her dead hand, the wilted bouquet.

Feb 6, 2020
Jan 23, 2020
“I’ll never leave you,” he said passionately, to her horror. 
#Tenzen #hangtenstories #horrorprompt

Jan 21, 2020
#horrorprompt 323 Useless 
The dark damp fog curled in around their legs and wrapped tendrils around their waists and when it reached their throats,
that was the moment that they realized
screaming was quite useless.

Jan 18, 2020
#horrorprompt 322 Without a Trace 
The Sheriff said Margot disappeared without a trace, but with an abusive father & drunken mother, she'd been vanishing for years. 
Which is why I went to her house. 
And, looking through the basement window, I saw the fresh patch of concrete.

Jan 9, 2020
#horrorprompt 321 Winter's Return 
She had lived on her own in the mountains for years, 
knew the valley like the curves of her own body, 
yet even she knew better than to tempt the cold spirits of the lake 
upon winter's return.

Jan 5, 2020
#horrorprompt 320 Darkness Within 

She was blonde hair, blue eyes & fair skin when she deployed. 

When she returned after two tours, her husband still found her all light & sunshine. 

But one day, in the bedroom, service pistol to her head, 
she let out the darkness within.

Jan 2, 2020
#horrorprompt 319 Fresh Skin 

She slipped on the sleeve, wiggled the fingers a bit. 

Then she pulled on the leggings, they were a little tight in the toes. 

But when she stretched into the face and snapped the eyes into place, she said, 
“Ah! New Year! Nothing like fresh skin!”

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Overheard at Booth 1: The Horrorprompts of Verble Gherulous - 2019

The Horrorprompts of Verble Gherulous

Book One: 2019

May 28, 2019

For 15 long years he had sneered at her for everything.

For her cooking.
For going back to school.
For how she performed in bed.

Now that answer had been erased by her kitchen scissors.

She would not miss that sneer.

May 29, 2019
#horrorprompt 284: tiny eggs

This lovely enigma in Raybans and a purse-lipped smile had flirted with him all afternoon at the poolside bar.  

Back at her room, she unlocked the door, pulled off the sunglasses, exposing eyes like tiny eggs. 

Mouth opened: pincers.
She lunged.

May 30, 2019
#horrorprompt 182: sealed inside

Smiling wide, he encouraged the prospective home buyers to knock on the walls that he had framed, sheet-rocked, and painted himself.

"The insulation," he said proudly, "is the best that humans can make."

Because that's what was sealed inside.

June 3, 2019
#horrorprompt 286: wrapped.

Wrapped in chains, he sank in the water.
Struggling, he suddenly realized: No escape! 

He would drown!

Frantic, he wondered why the faces outside the glass tank did nothing to save him.

Damn! he thought, They think this is just part of the show!

June 6, 2019
#horrorprompt 287: benevolent love.

The monks always welcomed strangers who wandered in from the road.  Such folk were always very welcomed at dinner.

And with benevolent love, the monks always ensured the wayfarers went to sleep peacefully before being prepared for the feast.

June 10, 2019
#horrorprompt 272 last sunrise

In the early evening hour, 
they turned to see the last sunrise
rise in the east.

This final dawning, crowned
in a mushroom cloud,


sent waves of heat
roaring over them,

turning flesh to ash,
setting their souls free.

June 12, 2019
#horrorprompt 288 Last Word

After 53 years of his verbal abuse, Grace now watched Roy struggle with his last breaths.

"You never let me speak, all these years," she said, "but I get the last word: it's what I put in your nightly tea."

She leaned in and whispered, "Cyanide."

June 18, 2019
#horrorprompt 289 Kill for Me

"Who would you kill for me?" she asked.

"Anyone," he said.

"Liar," she said.  "You wouldn't kill your daughter for me."

He stammered a bit.

"It's OK," she told him, leaning in close to kiss him.  "I've made sure you won't have to."

June 20, 2019
#horrorprompt 290: Skinned Alive

She was so happy to work for this director, who was known for intense realism.

But when he readied the actors to shoot the scene where they would be skinned alive, she understood too late that, this time, when he said, "CUT!" he meant ... BEGIN!

June 24, 2019
#horrorprompt 291 Layers of Silt

Running along the riverbank with his friends, Benny’s foot sank through several layers of silt.  Something grabbed his ankle.  Pulling up, he saw the hand.  The dead hand.

Benny screamed.

The nightly news told of the girl, missing for 15 years.

July 7, 2019
#horrorprompt Two Drops

The old librarian told me, "Back in those days, any man who went to the gallows never wanted the hangman to be 'Two-Drops' Callaghan."

"Why's that?" I asked.

"Because the sadistic prick would drop you once, then pull you back up and drop you again!"

July 11, 2019
#horrorprompt 294 emaciated remains

They were nothing but emaciated remains of what once were human beings.

My fellow GI's and I watched in silence as they lumbered out of the camp toward the medics' trucks.

I looked up at the sign above the gate.


July 13, 2019
#horrorprompt 295 stranded

After the firefight and his squad was pushed back, Frankie was stranded behind enemy lines.  

He tried to hide under a burned out jeep but he saw their boots &heard their laughter and he didn't know their language but he knew "die amerikaner ist tod"

July 31,2019
#horrorprompt 297 Unending Scar

When they came,
when the aliens finally came,
we knew immediately we had nothing
that could stop them.

The roar of their engines flattened the trees,
and their weapons ripped the night sky into
an unending scar.

July 31, 2019
#horrorprompt 298: Greasy Hair

It wasn’t the matted, greasy hair or the dirty fingernails or the feral eyes, or even the way the boy was hunched over, rocking slowly back and forth….

it was his smile, eeking out around the half-eaten rat that was sandwiched between his teeth.

August 2, 2019
#horrorprompt 299: Sweltering Heat

San Salvador 1982

The girl walked to school in the morning, backpack slung over one shoulder.

In the sweltering heat, soldiers burned the bodies of dead protesters and revolutionaries.   

The smoke rose to the sky.
And permeated everything.

August 6, 2019
#horrorprompt 300 End Times

"Welcome to the End Times café," our host said with a sweep of his arm.

We stood amazed by the wood decor & plush velvet curtains.
The room was thick with the smell of gasoline.

Then, we heard a chain locking the door... & the click of his lighter.

August 12, 2019
#horrorprompt 301 Glorious Agony

The masochist had foregone the safe word. 

The crank was turned and the screws twisted him into paroxyms of glorious agony.

Glorious, yes, until the sadist, inexperienced at this machine, turned the crank one rotation too far.

August 20, 2019
#horrorprompt 302 - Obliterated

What if I could indeed feel the plaque as it wraps around the synapses of my brain? 

Would it make sense of all this?

Or do I just stay numb to the knowledge that in my brain the recognition of my dear wife's face will one day be obliterated?

August 27, 2019
#horrorprompt 303 Left to Wilt

What was it about the flowers, she wondered, left to wilt in the vase on the table?

She ran the blade of the pruning shears across her lips, tasting

the faint tinge of the blood of the suitor, who will never come to call no more.

September 5, 2019
#horrorprompt 304 Eviscerated Entrails

The Amazonians hung the anthropologist from a tree & eviscerated him.

As his entrails spilled on the forest floor & the members began to feast, he thought, "Ha! The bacteria in my intestines will decimate your tribe!"

He died smiling.

September 17, 2019
#horrorprompt 306 Natural Causes

Midnight, small town, speed trap.

The sheriff blinded me with his flashlight as he looked over my license, saying "You city boys shouldn't race through here like y'all do. You likely to get shot.  'Round here we call that dyin' a natural causes"

September 27, 2019
#horrorprompt 307 Peachy

Kevin always had a feeling that we would die gruesomely, in great pain.

So, when the car stalled underneath the bridge just as the 18 wheeler overturned on the overpass and came careening down on him, he murmured "Well isn't that just peachy."

October 1, 2019
#horrorprompt 308 Let Me Show You

We'd been dating a month.

I said, "You're the sweetest kindest person ever!"

She said, "You don't know me."

I said, "Yes I do."

She said, "Let me show you," as her hand grabbed the skin under her jaw line and she began to pull her skin...

October 8, 2019
#horrorprompt 309 Behind the Mask

My dad's new wife smiled sweetly, always, and always told us she loved us and was glad to get to know us.

I knew at the reading of the will would be the moment we got to see what was behind the mask.

October 16, 2019
#horrorprompt 310 Weakening Grip

Raul awoke at the Hyatt Centric to find bombs strapped to his chest & his hand clasping a dead man's switch. He knew he had to run: throw himself into the Hudson.

Hand cramping, grip weakening, he rounded Times Square, bumping into Naked Cowboy

October 22, 2019
#horrorprompt 311 Thinning Old Guard

The thinning old guard of vampire hunters went looking for some new recruits.

Finding some, at the start of the interview, they asked, "What interests you about this opportunity."

The recruits bared their fangs and said, "Your blood!"

November 8, 2019
#horrorprompt Plague Doctor

Our village was a peaceful one, nestled high in the Pyrenees.
We had never known want, nor disease.  We lived on fresh produce and clean air.  We had not need of a physic ... until that cursed day when, into town 

came the Plague Doctor.

November 21, 2019
#horrorprompt 315 Permafrost

A millennia.
Maybe ... two.

I have forgotten Time.

But I have not forgotten how much I love
to feast on fleshlings, those sacks of blood and water and 
bone ... oh yes, 

and now, I can feel the permafrost
thawing, & I shall soon


December 8, 2019
#horrorprompt 317 The End


Our host raises his glass for a toast. 

We all raise ours.  

"To THE END!" he says triumphantly, then he drinks; then, we drink.

I lean to my spouse. "Does he mean 'of this year'?"

"Wait ... what's in this drink?" she asks.

December 27, 2019
#Horrorprompt 318 Suicide King

His name was Jesús. We called him "Suicide King."
He always drew fire from us so that we could take cover. 
He always was first to clear the houses.
He said he did it so we didn't have to.

Fittingly, it was on a Good Friday when he hit that IED.

Friday, October 29, 2021

Overheard at Table 4: Yugo



¾ time

28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

28 Venid a mí todos 

los que estáis trabajados y cargados, 

y yo os haré descansar.

29 Llevad mi yugo 

sobre vosotros, y aprended de mí, que soy manso y humilde de corazón; y hallaréis descanso para vuestras almas;

30 porque mi yugo es fácil, y ligera mi carga.

written 2021-0223

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Overheard at Table 4: Rainfall


The shadows of rainfall
Patter the sidewalk
And we’re laughing as we run into the café
Shaking the raindrops
Out of our wet hair,
We order a cappucino and a grand frappe
And we spend the afternoon in quiet conversation
As the people walk by outside in contemplation
Our words they dance between us in the air
As the café plays Here There and Everywhere.
The patter of footfalls
Trickle through the front halls
And we’re laughing as they tumble into our arms
Shaking the rainfall
Out of their wet hair,
Our children who’ve been playing all day in the rain.
And we spend the afternoon with these rambunctious children
Running through the house in wild abandon
Shouting voices fighting dragons madly in the hall
And life goes on like Ob-la-di blah-dah


NOTE: I think this was going to someone to try to make a song out of.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Overheard at Table 3: Epigram on Art

4. Art is not art until absorbed by the river.

NOTE: When reviewing the author's notes, the editors determined that the original transcription had misread "viewer" as "river" ... however they have decided to leave the mistranscription here as it seems more, shall we say, artistic.

Monday, October 25, 2021

Overheard at Booth 3: Epigram on Art

3.  The artist creates only half the art.

        The viewer's reaction is what completes the art.


Sunday, October 24, 2021

Overheard at Table 2: Epigram on Art

2. Mountain and the Thrush

    The Mountain is not art.

    A painting of the Mountain is art.

    The Thrush is not art.

        The flute that mimics the sound of the Thrush is art.

            Art is short for artifice.

    However, art is more than mere mimicry.

    To put colors and shapes of the Mountain to canvas is mimicry.

    To imitate the sound of the Thrush with the flute is mimicry.

    Such mimicry is merely craft.

    Craft is essential in the creation of art.

            Yet, art is more than the craft.

    Do you know what makes art more than the craft?


    You looking and you listening.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Overheard at Booth 2: Hearing Voices

Hearing Voices

We make jokes
About those who hear voices,
We mimic, for fun,
Other people’s voices.

But you do not know
How your voices
Resound in my head
Like a rubber ball
Bouncing off the walls
In a closed court,

Your strident voices,
Your angry voices,
Your petulant voices,
Your raging voices,
Your whiny voices,
Your indignant voices,
Your insane voices,

All the things that make you
Angry or upset that make you
Raise your ugly voices, don’t you


They are stuck in 
My head, so that now I must

Try to find some way
To quiet your voices.

I’d rather a mountain stream,
Far from any fading echo
Of your voices.


Friday, October 22, 2021

Overheard at Table 2: Jokes in Any Language

I don't know what it is, babe, but every time I talk to someone in Spanish and try to make a joke, they always give me this blank stare, like they don't understand what I'm saying.

Ay mi amor.  It's probably because you're not fully fluent.

Well, a lot of people don't get my jokes in English, either.

OK, I'll be honest.  It's because your jokes are horrible.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Overheard at Booth 4: Goodbye and Adios

I'm an atheist, so when I finally learned that the word "Goodbye" actually means "God be with you" I figured I couldn't keep saying that any more, so now I just say "Adios"

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Overheard at Table 3: Tae-Kwonderoga

Tae Kwonderoga

"Over by the Dollar Store there is a Tae-Kwon-Do studio that had its front window smashed out and it was boarded up with plywood, and my first thought was, 'Boy, that Round House Kick must've really got away from little Jimmy!'"

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Overheard at Table 3: Horrorprompt - Where the Wild Things Are

"It's normal," the doctor told me.  "All new mothers handle post-partum differently.  It's not unusual."

"But she keeps saying weird things," I told her, "like she has this strange desire to .. eat her."

"Look," she replied, "I was the same with my kids when they were newborns.  Couldn't stop smelling them.  Day and night, smelling them all over, their heads, their bellies, my husband thought I was LOCO, you know? It's OK, she'll be fine."

"But she says she wants to physically bite and chew!"

"Didn't your parents ever read you 'Where the Wild Things Are?'  The author based the monsters on his aunts, who were always pinching his cheeks and saying they wanted to gobble him up.  It's a metaphor, totally innocuous."

"OK," I said.

I closed the doctor's office door behind me to find Heather int he lobby with our new beautiful baby girl, three months old today.  My wife looked up from where she had been nibbling on Charlotte's ear.  Heather gave a little guilty smile and asked, "Did you get your answers?"  

"Yeah," I said, "Doc says already cooing and only waking up once at night is pretty normal for this phase."

"Well good!" Heather said.  "It's that good little Charlotte, yes, my scrumptious morsel!"

I sighed.  I drove us all the way home.

Charlotte was already sleeping through the night, waking up for a bottle exactly at 2:35am, every single morning.  I always heard her coo-cry, opened my eyes, and the LED lights said the same time, each time.

We had her crib in our bedroom, and that night Charlotte wanted the crib on her side of the bed.  I don't know why I said yes.  I don't know why,

... but I must have been on the same feeding schedule.  I awoke at exactly 2:35.  I saw the LED lights softly glowing red.  But I did not hear the usual coo-cry.  

That night, I heard something that sounded like a slurp.  Then a soft gulp.

I turned over in the bed.  I saw Heather's back to me, her head bent over the crib.  Her head bobbed up and down.  Charlotte did not make a sound.

"Heather," I said, and then suddenly I moved around her where I could see her, and Heather looked up at me with eyes wide and sparkling with this insane glee ....

and her mouth full of our flesh and blood.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Overheard at Table 1: Life is a Full-Body Experience

I've found that Life is a "Full-Body Experience"

You can't be afraid to get your feet wet and your hands dirty,

but it helps to keep your eyes open, to help keep your head above water,

and to experience it to its fullest, you truly must put your heart into it.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Overheard at Table 1: Notes from a Phone Interview

Notes from a Phone Interview











403B …. MATCH UP TO 4%


What qualities would establish rapport – gain trust respect

Non-profit exp – helps w audit

Having that ability to work cross functionally.


Saturday, October 16, 2021

Overheard at Table 3: Haiku - Experiment

An experiment: 
Two people merge into one. 
The rain and the land.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Overheard at Booth 1: Attention Span

Scene: A 1970s computer room, replete with rows upon rows of giant computers using tape-loops.
A group of demons, wearing white short-sleeved button-down shirts with pocket protectors, sit around tables with early model monitors, typing away on keyboards, as their boss, Satan, walks into the room.
SATAN: OK, boys, you know the goal here is to get the humans' attention span as low as it can go, so they can't ever again see my work in consuming their miserable souls.  SO!  Accounting has given me the latest figures and it looks like our invention of the Television Set has their attention span down to about 30 minutes, but we gotta get those numbers DOWN. Whatcha got?

DEMON 1: We've been working on something called the Internet.  It will connect them all to screens and get them hooked on 24/7 shopping and porn.  That should bring their attention spans down to about 10 minutes.

SATAN: I like it.  But let's go lower.

DEMON 2: I'm thinking when the Internet takes over television, we can make something called "social media," which will let them send short messages back and forth.  That should get their attention span down to under a minute.

SATAN: Loving where you're going with this, guys!  Beautiful.

DEMON 3: Sir, I think I can get it down to under ten seconds.

SATAN: HOLY CRAP!  Ten seconds?  That's wonderful!  How?

DEMON 3: It's called "TikTok."


Thursday, October 14, 2021

Overheard at Table 5: Emailing I.T.

God help me, today at work, I heard someone blurt out, "OUTLOOK IS DOWN.  SOMEBODY EMAIL I.T.!"

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Overheard at Table 3: Torture

The human animal is the only one that tortures.

What about cats?  They play with mice.

That's different.  That's honing their hunting skills.  Plus, it's inter-species.  Cats fight with each other for territory, but they don't sit there and shove bamboo under their claws just to watch each other suffer.


Just like deer may fight for mates, but they don't shove each other's heads in a running river and say, "Look you're drowning!  Ha ha!  Where'd you hide all them fine does?"

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Overheard at Booth 1: Horrorprompt 510 Dead Eyes

 #horrorprompt 510 Dead Eyes

The kid stared at us with dead eyes,
mouth open in a silent scream.

As my partner went back to the car
to radio the coroner, I snapped pics
of the kid’s entrails, half eaten,
strewn across the railroad tracks.

The kid’s hands were clutched 
around a library book.

I had to laugh.

The book was about werewolves.


Monday, October 11, 2021

Overheard at Booth 2: Horrorprompt 510 - Dead Eyes

 #horrorprompt 510 Dead Eyes

The kid stared at us with dead eyes,
mouth open in a silent scream.
As my partner went back to the car
to radio the coroner, I snapped pics
of the kid’s entrails, half eaten,
strewn across the railroad tracks.
The kid’s hands were clutched
around a library book.
I had to laugh.
The book was about werewolves.


Sunday, October 10, 2021

Overheard at Table 3: Keep Your Eyes on Me

Her: Keep your eyes on me.

Him: What?

Her: Don't be checking out other women.

Him: I don't.

Her: Mm hmm

Him: What are you talking about?

Her: That's why I always want you in front of me in the grocery stores, so I can make sure your eyes are not wandering.

Him: Are you feeling OK?  I don't check out other women.

Her: All men check out other women.

Him: Not this man. I only have eyes for you!

Her: That's what they all say.

Him: Seriously, babe, I'm 52.  I'm not in a "check-out chicks" time of my life.

Her: Men of all ages check out chicks.

Him: Look, I'm telling you: I've got a degenerative disc, arthritis in both hands, hacking cough allergy attacks, a crick in my neck that hasn't gone away in months ... I just do not have the physical energy or stamina to check out other women.

Her: ... that's what they all say.

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Overheard at Table 1: Sasha the Diva

Sasha is such a diva.  She will go to her empty bowl and just start licking it, clinking her collar against the sides ... like she's saying, "Ohhhh, look a mee, I'm eating AIR!"

Well, maybe you should feed her more often.

Oh my LORD this is just after she's been fed!  She's already huge.  She's just being a little princess, that's all.



Friday, October 8, 2021

Overheard at Table 4: Lib and Con

Liberal: You should really stop being racist.

Conservative: You should really stop oppressing me.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Overheard at Table 3: October - Skylark - Scalpel

October - Skylark - Scalpel

Please!  I have a wife … and two kids!
Interesting.  You didn’t seem to be thinking about them when you tried to shove me into your car.
It was a mistake, I swear!  I’m sorry.
I am quite certain you are sorry now, and yes, I won’t deny that it was a mistake.
I won’t do it again … I won’t.
Correct.  You won’t do it again.  Think of this as a kindness, think of this as your gift to your wife and you children… boys? Girls?
A girl … and a boy.



Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Overheard at Table 4: Skin - Haiku

#haikuhorrorprompt 82 Skin


The horror of skin.
Variety of marred shades,
All your ugly scars.



Monday, October 4, 2021

Overheard at Booth 1: Murder Tree Returns

Murder Tree Returns

One of the few good things to come out of that pandemic year was the chance to reconnect with some of my old high school buddies.  Decades had passed and several of us now had kids the same age we were when we all hanging out, dreaming of getting out and leaving our hometown far behind us. 

The text chain was a real lifeline.  Most of the others had been on it for a few years before they found me, and I got to catch up and see our wonderful diaspora from our Midwest origins across the whole of America: Seattle, San Diego, Houston, Chicago, Newark, DC, and elsewhere.  I got to see pictures of places I’d normally never get to see.

Then, the first of October, Doug posted a picture and called it “MURDER TREE RETURNS” and all the others chimed in how great it looked this year and how it was always one of their favorite starts to the season.  The tree was in the front yard, looked like some sort of conifer with greenery to the ground, stretching to a point in the top.  It was lit with strings of lights, looked purplish, like a bruise, with deep beet red patches.  Looking closer, I could make out what appeared to be bones for tree limbs, and parts that looked like hands, and feet, and … heads.  There were definitely heads, propped among the flora, eyes closed, mouths open in a silent scream.  Some were bare skulls, but one still had a face.

A face that looked familiar, from a long time ago.

I shot Doug a DM.  That’s a cool tree, man.  That one head kinda looks like Nick Bly.

A few hours later, Doug texted back: Yeah! Actually, it IS Nick. 

Great art!

No.  I mean it’s him.  Sonuvabitch rammed my car one Friday after a Homecoming game and drove off and never paid for how he fucked up my rear end.   Finally found him in Dallas in 2017.

That’s hilarious, man.  Love how you got the story going there.

Tree’s full of stories.   Look at the top.  The bone there, holding up the star, that’s Asleigh Moore.   Bitch said she’d go to Junior prom with me.  Stood me up.  Now she’s standing up, for the MURDER TREE.  Bwahahahahaha!  [he added laughing emojis]

I have to admit, I still thought he might be joking.  Kinda.  This was really making me uncomfortable.  I mean, how do you respond to something like this?  So I wrote back:  Dude, are you saying these are ACTUAL people you MURDERED?  [and I added some emoji that I hoped would look like a quizzical face but I think it’s the one that looks like it’s shushing you.  I’m not really good at this].

It was the next day when Doug texted back.  Yes.  That’s what I’m saying.  Look down at the lower left part of the tree.  There’s a rib cage.  Let me know when you find it.

I found it.  I think I did.  I had to expand the picture but yes, it did look like a human rib cage.  I texted a thumbs up emoji.

He texted back immediately:  That’s Jerry Melua

I texted: Whos that?

Doug DUDE!  You don’t remember?!  You had written this fkn BEAUTIFUL poem to Tracie Gallagher cuz youd had a crush on her since 7th grade!  Dude stole your poem wrote it in his handwriting and gave it to her and went out with her for the rest of the year.  You don’t remember that?

Oh YEAH!  [I now remembered]  That guy was a total DICK!

You wouldn’t believe it.  Just happened to run into him in Buffalo just before the pandemic hit.   I remembered what he did to you.  He had to go.  That one’s for you, man.  Hey you still writing?

Of course

I remember you were always writing.  All the time.  You loved writing about all kinds of shit.  Hey, it’s cool if you write about this.  Just make sure you change the names, OK?

It took me a long time to respond.  I kept re-reading his message, trying to find if there was anything in there that should really make me scared.  I was scared.  Can’t deny.  Still am.  Kinda.  But finally, I just texted back: Thanks, man!

He texted back a thumbs up and that emoji with the smiling face with sunglasses, which I take to mean “It’s cool.”

So, this story is dedicated to my buddy, Doug Graves.   And for any law enforcement agency who is even thinking about trying to track down a serial killer, he does not – I repeat NOT – live in New Hampshire.