Category Archives: Stories

Market of the Macabre

This entry is part 1 of 12 in the series Market of the Macabre

He drifted through the cacophony with certain inevitability. Barkers called out their wares along the way.

“Seed of life, extracted via rectal cavity!”

“Fetal tissue from forced abortion!”

“Skullcap of a suicided dwarf!”

“Broken heart! Freshly broken!”

On and on the calls went, featuring items of the grisly and the grotesque. His attention, then, was ripped away by the Finder rapping on the bars of the cage.

“Too bad none of these Rippers has you, eh, lad?” The Finder’s chuckle was wet and croupy. A clump of phlegm shot out and slid down one of the bars. “I knows me my goods, I does, I does. Make me a small fortune from it, too.”

He watched with feverish eyes as the Finder stopped the cart and climbed up next to the cage. A pause to gather himself, and the Finder’s barked call brought all to silence in the market for a brief moment. Then as one, merchant and consumer alike surged forward to bid for this new prize.

“Last breath of a sickly boy with no hope, bottled right before your very eyes!”

[Originally posted on Ficly.]


The Callous Demon peered down at Leohand from its perch atop the door. Leohand glared at the leathery creature.

“Ah, I see you’ve met Domedra,” Tarvin said, coming back into the room. “She’s harmless enough, but few of my customers care for her presence. Cuts down on theft.” He chuckled.

“I’ve come for an item in your collection,” Leohand growled. “A Prayer.”

Tarvin’s demeanor became serious as he dropped his voice to a whisper. “I don’t know who you are, chum, but I don’t deal in Relics.”

“I have it on good authority that you do.” Leohand pulled a folded document from his coat. As he took it, Tarvin’s eyes widened as the tattoo appeared from beneath Leohand’s sleeve.

Nodding, Leohand declared, “I have carried this Curse for twelve years.” Tarvin felt the blood drain from his face. Few Cursed lived longer than three years. That this man had survived four times that long…

“Remember that before you choose to cross me,” Leohand finished.

Tarvin stammered, “Y- Um, which Prayer specifically did you want?”

[Originally posted on Ficly.]

Creeping Up the Back Stairs

The party upstairs was in full swing, the bump-bump-bump of the music audible even from outside.

In the darkness on the back stairs, a shadow moved. The form had almost no shape; it moved like liquid. It climbed each step with meticulous care, coalescing itself before pushing its turgid form upward to grab the lip of the next step.

As it climbed, it left an unbroken strand of itself behind, a connection to something as yet unseen in the gloom beyond. Its progress was slow, but inexorable.

It reached the summit and paused, gathering itself and pulsing gently in time with the beat of the music inside. With each pulse it grew, siphoning more of itself upward until it filled the landing.

The span of a human heartbeat — and it surged under the door with alarming speed, invading the space within. What moments before was a festive celebration took but moments to dissolve into terror and screaming.

The screaming ended far, far too quickly.

Originally posted on Ficly.


His hood is pulled up, casting his face in shadow. The bus rolls to a stop in front of him, and he steps on board. He ignored the driver’s terse greeting. It’s not like he means it. Years of driving kids to school has turned this ritual into little more than a Pavlovian call-and-response.

He walks toward the back of the bus, looking for an open seat. One of the upperclassmen makes room for him.

As he takes his seat, the upperclassman peers under his hood. “You’re looking healthier. Eating better?” he asks.

He shrugs. It’s not like it matters. He always looks gaunt.

The upperclassman notices what he’s holding. “They’ll never let you take that into the school.”

“I know,” he replies. “It doesn’t matter.” The upperclassman nods like this makes sense.

At school, he steps up to the metal detector. One of the guards approaches. “Sorry, Famine. I can’t let you take the sickle in. You can get it back at the end of the day.”

Famine nods. This, too, is ritual. School policy. It’s not like he really needs it.

Originally posted on Ficly.

Listen to Ava

Beth stood on the knoll and gazed at the broken city some seven miles distant. The voice on the city’s public broadcast system was audible, even from here, but distance diluted it such that it merely caused Beth a mild headache. Had she been within the city proper, that voice would have been enough to make her skull pop like an over-ripe tomato.

Thad stepped silently up beside her. “Any change?”

Beth shook her head. “She’s been broadcasting non-stop for five days. The girl’s not human.”

“I think that’s fairly well established at this point.” Thad’s expression was grim, his mouth pressed into a firm line.

The two stood in silence for a while. Finally, Beth spoke.

“They marched a 6-year-old girl down in front of the world press and held her up as savior. ‘Listen to Ava,’ they said, and then the first word she spoke literally blew the top off the heads of everyone watching.” Beth clenched her fists and fired her next statement with explosive force. “I hate that little bitch.”

Originally posted on Ficly.


She swirled her finger in the glass, then lifted it to his mouth.

“Just a taste, my lover,” she crooned.

He parted his lips, tongue sampling the drop as it fell from her fingertip.

“Oh, my god,” he breathed. “Amazing.”

He closed his eyes, fell back on the pillows, she on top of him. They writhed together, touching, feeling.

“You are my one…” he whispered.

“…my only,” she echoed.

Their skin split, bone pushing through flesh, cries of pain and pleasure escaping their torn lips. In moments, the union was complete, the nightmare creature quivering on the floor.

They would always be together.

Originally posted on Clarity of Night.

Heritage – Repaid

The gate preventing anyone but maintenance workers from reaching the bowels of the sewer system was frozen solid, having rusted in place long ago. Pudge pushed his way through, anyhow, the space being just wide enough to admit entry to his overweight frame. His unfortunate nickname was a testament to the difficulty of living with parents whose only ambitions were gluttony and sloth. This abandoned tunnel was, for today, his haven from the cruelties of the world.

Pudge clicked on his flashlight, shining it in equal parts upon the floor in front of him and the walls beside him. Vandals had wrought their work, scrawling in paint their profane and sometimes mysterious messages, things like:

I tapped Mary Lee. And underneath that, smaller and in a different color: So did we.

Pudge smirked at For a good time call where the phone number had been painted over by someone else.

Further along, other not-so-pithy messages appeared: Megadeth Rulez! and Ratler Teratory and even Kilroy wuz here. Some had even tried their hand at aerosol art (with varying degrees of success).

The tunnel made a turn, hiding the entrance and the daylight outside from view, but Pudge didn’t notice (and even if he had, he probably wouldn’t have cared), such was his focus on the graffiti. Both art and words continued on for a ways, and then the art suddenly stopped, leaving only a strange array of painted messages with increasingly ominous tidings.

The sins of the father.

Condemnation upon all future generations.

Pudge’s flashlight flickered, casting forbidding shadows on the tunnel walls. He slapped it once, and the beam became steady again. He continued walking and reading.

Pain shall be visited upon the children, even unto the third and fourth generations.

They shall walk in the light,
But the light will know them not.
They shall be rejected, thrust from the light,
And they shall abide in everlasting darkness.

And just to the side of that passage: It devours its own.

Pudge shuddered violently, as though he had felt a cold draft. In so doing he dropped his flashlight. It smacked loudly onto the concrete and went out, plunging him into complete darkness. Fear clawed at his belly as he fumbled for his light.

His fingers finally slipped around the shaft of the flashlight, and he breathed a sigh of relief as he flicked the switch back on. Light flooded the tunnel once more, just as sharp pain flooded his opposite arm. Pudge gagged and turned his head to look. What he saw nearly made him pass out – the tunnel itself had become a gaping maw of grotesque teeth. It had grabbed his arm, all but severing it just above the elbow. The teeth ground repeatedly, and Pudge realized with horror that it was chewing!

As Pudge was slowly and excruciatingly ingested, he had time to realize that, somehow, this maw was retribution for a legacy of transgressions.

The sins of the father…

Originally posted at The Curve Ball Conspiracy.


The bag of chips was all but empty, just a few crumbs left in the bottom. He shook the bag, bouncing it in his hand, so that the niblets would fall together in the corner. There were so few left – and he wasn’t one to waste anything – so he tilted the bag to look inside to see just how much of his snack remained. The chips in the bottom reflected off the bag’s silver interior, and he was torn between the decision to pinch out what was left with his fingers or to simply tip the bag back and dump the crumbs straight into his mouth. A seemingly simple decision, yet he felt his mind stutter, then freeze up as solidly as two pieces of metal welded together.

And there he remained.

* * *

The two programmers observed their immobile subject on the monitor.

“Brilliant bit of programming there, Bud. How exactly did you induce that response?” Thom asked.

Bud chuckled. “It was pretty simple, actually. The silver lining in the chip bag contains several thousand lines of scrolling code – invisible to the naked eye, of course,” he said with a wink. “The program running inside the bag forced our subject into a state of indecision, then compounded the response, effectively throwing his brain into an infinite loop. The program essentially prevents him from action because the decision-making process never ends.” He glanced at the monitor again. “By now the program’s subroutines have copied over to his brain and should be running all on their own there.”

Thom nodded and asked the next logical question. “So. How do we get him unstuck?”

There was no response from Bud. Thom looked at him and saw that his face had paled and his eyes were wide with shock. Thom felt his gut clench in a combination of panic and fear as he looked at the monitor again. The horrible truth of what they had done came to him suddenly.

There was no way to end the program because the program had no ‘kill’ command – let alone a way to execute it – and no way to ‘reboot’ the subject. Neither of them had thought of that when they started alpha testing their project.

Thom said the only thing that he could.


Originally posted at 365 Tomorrows.

The Midnight Road

Drive faster!

Rain lashed, wipers slashed, Cort plowed through the pouring rain, the demons of his past – both real and imagined – pursued him close behind.

Wind whistled, debris whirled into the road ahead of him, utility poles fell behind him. That’s how he knew they were still chasing him.

Stomach tied in knots, sweat pouring down his face.

A bump, thump, and the car died. The tension in Cort’s body ratcheted up another few notches.

Gotta run, gotta get away.

Then, They’re here!

He leaped from the car even before it could come to a complete stop. Left the road – that’s where they were – and dashed into the open field beside it.

Gotta hide. Oh, god! Can’t shake them. They’ll find me, anyway, his fevered mind screamed.

Shadows whipped about him, flittered, fluttered. Low hisses of eagerness issued from the assailing darkness.

Skin prickled; invisible claw briefly caressed the back of his neck and was gone. He ran harder.

Out of breath, out of time, out of options.

He screamed in fear and pain. Red ribbons slashed into his back.

Stumbled. Fell.

They were on him in an instant. Dozens of them. Tearing. Clawing. Ripping. He’d never had a chance to get away, even on the highway. Their claws had already been too deeply embedded.

Moonlight filtered through wind-driven clouds. And he was alone, then, as ever he had been.

But the damage was done, life leaking from his savaged body as it lay sprawled there in the moon-washed openness.

Originally posted at Clarity of Night.