Published August 7, 2013



The thick leather strap landed soundly across his back, its jagged edge biting into his flesh.  A fresh coat of red painted over the browned layers of past whippings.

The boy cried out his apologies for an offense he had no knowledge of committing.  His innocence ignored.  Nevertheless, he pleaded his reformer’s forgiveness – all falling on deaf ears.

Another blow.  Another tear-filled scream.

Hands and feet bound to the rusty frame of a soiled cot ensured no escape.  His torn body remained trapped beneath the punishing lashings of an evil superintendent.

And from the final strike, the boy found peace.

Published August 7, 2013


Who Has Control?

After an hour of battling defiant rage, I left her sulking on her bed with a slam of the door.

Her father and I had caught her red-handed in a lie…again.  The punishment:  one week of no cell phone, a four-day sentence increase for the repeated offense.  Her father had to work late…again.  Thus, I was left to tread into enemy territory alone…again.  Aside from the arrival of a new baby, this was the whole of my life since that day one year ago when the judge had rendered his ruling for custody.

Exhausted, I made my way to the other end of the hall to tend to my baby’s cries pushing through the closed door.  God only knows how long they had gone unanswered during the foregoing argument.

Then she called my name – her voice peculiar.  I froze in mid stride.  In the span of maybe four footsteps, a bitter, angry tone had transitioned to singsong sweetness.  The hairs on the back of my neck stood on end and my infant’s crying faded into the distant background…again.

I returned to her door and found my hand trembling as I reached to turn the handle.

My stepdaughter was sitting on her bed, right where I had left her but a moment ago.  Cradled in her arms was a stuffed bear – a gift from her mother – that she rocked tenderly, humming…

The familiarity of the tune she hummed stoned me.

I hummed that same lullaby – a melody from my childhood – each night when rocking my daughter to sleep, in much the same manner this child imitated.

The last breath I had pulled into my lungs had become trapped behind an aching lump that had just appeared.  No matter how hard my heart pounded against my chest, the air did not pass.  Her eyes locked with my tearing gaze and held it captive until the tear fell.

With a curious tilt of her head, like a puppy, she sung her ultimatum with an innocent-looking smile, “Give me back my phone.”

My muscles hardened beneath goose-pimpled skin when I curled my fingers deep into my palms, and with a forced exhale of stagnate air, I stood my shaky ground with a stern, “No.”

As fluffs of soft cotton snowed down on me, the icy hardness of her eyes ripped at my core.  She had merely whispered the edge of her capabilities, just a glimpse at a possible future.  While her tiny fingers ripped through stitching and faux fur, I knew who had control.

Published August 13, 2013


Red Light Special

The game was even more titillating under the glowing red than I could have imagined.  I was finding it difficult to keep things under control, but I had never lost control before.  This was not my first rodeo and I’d become quite the pro…especially, at the kill.

That one.  I stalked up to the glass and seduced my prey.

Accepted.  That was so easy.

I could never grow tired of this scarlet hunt.  Each night I thirst for these poor, defenseless creatures – practically displayed just for my pleasure – fall victim to my trap.

He entered.

My red light darkened.

Published August 14, 2013


The Rocking Chair

She had always hated those eighteen-wheeled behemoths, she thought while her knuckles whitened and her fingers dug into the steering wheel at the sight of metal, pointed teeth bearing down on her in the rearview.

“Don’tcha let those big ol’ trucks frighten you, shortcake,” her father had told her when she was young. “They won’t hurt you.”

Willing to move out of its way, she flipped on her blinker. Another big rig crept up alongside, blocking her. Then a third closed the box.

The bridge ahead came into view.

The rolling steel cage tightened.

“They won’t hurt…,” he had said.

Published August 15, 2013


Identifying the Body

Once the door closed with a solid clack behind me, reality kicked me square in the gut.  Nothing could’ve prepared me for that room.  Or its smells.  Just beyond the primary odors of antiseptics, there was an unmistakable scent of decomposition lingering in the sterile air; a hint of rot slithered over my tongue and sent my stomach churning.

The wall displayed a catacomb of steel doors, and I would’ve imagined what bodies were being stored within those refrigerated coffins, but I was focused more on the bagged mass resting on the rolling gurney directly before me.

Then I smiled.

Published August 15, 2013


Haunting the Haunting

The Tiffany lamp flickered on a soft yellow radiance that cut through the darkness.

“Who’s there?” she demanded, trying to hide her fear.

Stepping from the shadows, he whimpered, “Oh Lord, what have I done?”

“What’re you doing here?”

Holding out bloodstained hands, he cried, “Look what I’ve done!”

“No! Get out! Get out!” she screamed.

She threw up her arms, guarding against his advance.  He passed through her on his way out of the window, fading into the night. Her cries stopped when the lamp dimmed – just as they had at the same time each night…before he appeared.

Published August 15, 2013


Enchanted Christmas

Christmas morning had birthed a fresh layer of downy snow that glittered like diamond dust under the early sun’s rays. Through frosted breath, I watched a doe and her fawn play at the wood’s edge.

I had always believed this time of year held a special kind of magic. I guess that’s why it’s always been my favorite. But you knew that, didn’t you? Of course you did. Why else would you’ve given me this amazing gift of being here in this place, in this very moment, alone with you? Even your blood spilled over the glistening white is enchanting.

Published August 15, 2013



Her heart fired rapid beats within her ear as it ricocheted off her rib cage, repeating the taunt, You’ll get caught.

He was behind her.  And gaining.

She searched for a place to go.  Dead ends.  Panic began to consume her.  She must hide.  Rounding a corner, she tucked herself deep into a shadow, praying he wouldn’t find her.

His approaching footsteps landed with sound and determined power.  She forced her breath to a shallow crawl despite how her lungs ached, then held it when his silhouette appeared.

She pounced with smooth and fatal accuracy.

Another hunt.

Another successful kill.

What is it, son?

That feeling crawled up his spine, commanding every hair to stand ready, and although the sensation had already woken him, he still didn’t want to open his eyes.  By doing so, he’d be acknowledging that it wasn’t a dream that had caused the eerie chill.

With a determined draw of air, he parted the darkness.  In the doorway stood a small shadowy figure.

“What is it, son?  Why are you up?”

No response.

“Is something wrong?”


“Son?  Talk to me.”

A low inhuman growl verbalized from the shadowed child.

Overcome with dread, he curled his lip over sharp teeth.