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.

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."


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.


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.



Saturday, October 2, 2021

Overheard at Table 1: Suegra - the Phoenix

Suegra: the Phoenix


At the age of sixteen,
she left her little village,
with nothing but the
scars on her back
from the belt
of her step-father.

This was just after the war,
when the world had changed hands.

As she walked into the capital
of the land of lava and ash,
she, too,
was born anew.