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I look down at the loose change in my hand. A few quarters, dimes, some nickels, and a load of pennies. Should be enough to get something from a dollar menu. The long trek home from the bus stop wasn’t bad today considering it was technically still summer. Rain rolled through the day before, and, with it, came a slight cold front.

I pass the gas station. I don’t have money for a candy bar. Will power.

Darcy had been a bitch at work. I know I’m new, and kind of clumsy, but they are supposed to train you. If she would just help a little, I would be an asset. Four days in and she already expected me to get a report done…in an hour…when no one has shown me the software, despite my asking.

I pass the church. 

My feet ache. Shelby told me to bring comfy shoes for the walk. I just can’t imagine wearing a casual skirt and a button shirt with sneakers. But then again, I keep all forms of makeup in my bag for touch-ups through the day. Shelby’s not that kind girl; comfort over composure she says. I think of my mom, all those years pulling her hair into a tight bun. She didn’t believe in comfort.

As I approach the cemetery, I see a man, presumably homeless, sitting on the signage out front. His head is down, his back sags heavy. Normally I spare change when I can, but I can’t today. I have to hold out for that two-week paycheck. I expect to have to deny this man money as I walk by, but he doesn’t acknowledge my presence. I continue, pass, then pause. 

There’s something.

“Sir, excuse me, sir.”

He lifts his head, looks at me.

“Uh, oh, I don’t know what I wanted, I saw you sitting here, and you looked defeated. I just wanted to talk to you.”

His back straightened. “Oh?”

“I mean, everyone has bad days, and I hate seeing sad people, especially when you don’t know if they have anyone to talk to.”

“Well that’s all right. I don’t know if I would say I’m sad, but you’ve already made my day a bit better.”

His name is Al and he’s been all around the states. He said his wife was in the cemetery and he wanted to say bye. He was getting ready to hitch a ride far away and didn’t know when he would get a chance to visit again. 

I look over the headstones. Some flat and new, some sticking from the ground in arcs, statues, towers. There are a couple of monuments tucked in the corners. “My mom is buried here too.”

“I’m sorry to hear she’s gone. You’re young.”

“I am. She was, too.”

We are quiet for a while. I enjoy the stillness with the stranger.  He has a comforting voice, a soothing soul. I wonder where he’s headed, but I don’t ask. He knows where he’s going, and I know where I’m going. That’s all that matters. 

I reach my hand in my pocket, pull it out holding my loose change. 

“Here. In case you want to grab dinner on your way out. It’s not much, but it’s all I have.” 

He protests. I try to insist.

He holds my hand closed, then lowers it, looks at my pocket. “You need it, you need to eat. Besides, it will do me no good anyway.” 

“You don’t have to be like that. I know it’s meager but it’s literally all I…”

“I know, I know Martha, you don’t have to explain.”

I yank my hand from his, take three steps back. “I never told you my name.”

“When you are what I am, you don’t have to ask. Thank you for talking with me.”

He seemed so normal before. Great. What did I get myself into? I don’t have anything for self defense. I step back, one foot at a time, hoping he doesn’t try to hurt me. I’ve heard the bath salt stories.

“Tsk. Tsk. I’m not going to hurt you Martha. You were kind. You are safe.”

I continue adding distance between us. A young man is walking our way on the sidewalk, and I consider yelling a warning to him, but then I feel silly. This man hasn’t done anything. He’s just a little off is all. I’ll be fine. I just need to get away, get home.

“It’s too bad. I rather enjoyed talking with you. Maybe I’ll see you again someday.” He winked at me, then jumped up and crouched on the ledge where he had been sitting. In fractions of a second, he leaps in the air, is upon the young man, then they’re just gone. A smear of darkness passes my vision and disappears into the cemetery and surrounding trees. I stand there, stunned.

What did I see? Who do I tell?

I hold my neck, out of instinct I suppose, pop off my heels, then scuttle as fast as I can the rest of the distance home. 

 

THE END

 

Copyright WB Welch – All Rights Reserved

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

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Employed

“I got the job!” Michelle, my roommate, is so excited she can’t stand it. I watch her jump up and down, do two laps around the apartment, and call her parents. “Let’s go to dinner to celebrate.”

She throws open the window in our high rise. “I got the job, everyone,” she yells from the open orifice. “I got an offer from…” her voice cut off. When I turn around, she is gone. I freeze. It takes me more than a few seconds to realize she isn’t hiding in the apartment somewhere. I walk to the window, slowly. I float. I can’t really feel my feet.

When I lean over the ledge, I see her, but not splattered into the cement like I thought she would be. Michelle is just floating in the air, below the edge of the window.

“Got you.” She grabs me by my shirt collar and pulls me from the apartment, then lets me go. I watch the street approach. My stomach flys to my throat. My joints tingle from the adrenaline. I turn over just in time to see her crawl back into our window. I close my eyes.

 

THE END

 

Copyright WB Welch – All Rights Reserved

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Employed

Night Circus

“Traffic at midnight? This is stupid.”

I roll down my windows, turn off my air, and turn up the music. Even night time is stupid hot in the summer. I want to go back to Colorado. Stupid fucking job relocation. Who wants to move to Arizona? It’s hot. Stupid hot.

Half way through.

I need a new job anyway. ‘Anything to get the job done.’ This is what I said in my interview. I had no idea they would hold me to it. New state. New position. Stay until it’s finished. I left after eleven tonight. And now this.

Stupid traffic.

I’m finally at the front of the line, about to have my turn through the one open lane.

Please let me over. Thank you.

There was an accident. I wonder if anyone is actually hurt. I look as long as I can. I’m almost through when I see her. Oh my god. They don’t have a sheet on her yet, why? A man in a uniform is bent over her, taking photos. Shit. I realize there’s no wrecked car. I realize, too, that she is beneath an overpass.

Shit, she jumped? Or was thrown? They must be trying to figure that out.

What fool blocked the traffic line? I should have been past by now. I inspect the traffic in front of me, then look to her again. There’s blood all over her, blood absorbed into the cement. Blonde hair, white top, green skirt.

What happened to her?

I hear my passenger door open. I jump, turn my head, lean against the driver door. I don’t have any cash. I don’t have a weapon. It’s her. I look back to the body, then to the woman.

She puts a hand up to her mouth. “Shhhhhh.”

My mouth opens, but I can’t say anything. She looks at me, smiles like the smoothest seductress, then yanks my tongue out of my mouth. I’m thrown in the backseat before she climbs behind the wheel and leads us god knows where.

 

THE END

 

Copyright WB Welch – All Rights Reserved

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Night Circus

Amputation

I look at my severed finger on the floor, then to the jigsaw. I see the blood, then I look at my hand. It finally comes together. My project for Jimmy, a quick bench for his backyard, claimed my digit.

Cup of ice.

I plant my finger like a seedling.

9-1-1.

While I wait, I watch the cup. I don’t know why, but it was better than looking at my hand.

Blood dripped from the bandage.

It was a slight comfort to watch it, I supposed. How abstract, to see a part of you physically elsewhere. I had nightmares about this kind of stuff as a kid.

Should I unlock the door, in case I pass out?

I peer from the window. Nothing yet. With the door open, I can hear faint sirens…or am I faint?

I start back to my seat in front of my finger. As I approach, I see a small green stem sprouting from the top of my nail bed. The room goes dark as I fall to the floor.

 

THE END

 

Copyright WB Welch – All Rights Reserved

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:

Happy Wednesday to you all. I have signed up to be part of Blogtober this fall, which means I will be putting out daily blog posts. This is the most email my subscribers will ever receive from me. I hope it’s not too much of a burden to your inbox. Thanks for sticking with me. Enjoy your Blogtober scary shorts!

Amputation

The Genie

“Neka, it’s Mom. Call me. It’s about Dad.” 

Not now Mom.

Neka erases the phone message and grabs the joint she rolled that morning. It’s Friday. She had been waiting all day for this joint. Of course it’s about Dad. It’s always about Dad. He has Parkinson’s. It would go from bad to worse, but Neka just needs a little time, a little space before calling. Her professors rode her ass all week, Leesa and Mesh are both mad at her, and Bart won’t return her calls.

“Shit, where’s my lighter?”

Neka tosses last night’s skirt across the living room, moves the pile of clothes off the couch seat, shuffles the papers on the coffee table, the desk, pushes cans and crinkling bags around her kitchenette. 

“Shit!”

She rummages the bed sheets, the pillows on the floor; she shuffles the contents of the dresser. 

Nothing.

With the joint hanging loose from her lips, Neka starts her bathwater, then drops her bottoms and plops on the toilet. She sighs, looking down the bridge of her nose at the green heaven that she can almost taste. She cleans herself quick, then pops her head out her bedroom window. 

“No, no, no….bingo.” The man in the coat with the patched elbows. He’s puffing on a cigarette. “Heeyyy, blondie.” A thin blonde female looks up from the sidewalk ready to say fuck off. “No, not you, him!” She looks confused, then irritated, says something to her friend, then they stroll off. Blonde smoker, however, finally looks up. “Hey, can I borrow your lighter for a quick flick? If you toss it up, I’ll send it right back down.”

The man in the jacket has his hands is his pockets. It’s a blue suede material, very dapper. To most women he would be quite attractive, but Neka thought anyone that polished must have too much time or money on their hands, or both. He smiles, then tosses it up. “Keep it. I’ve been meaning to pass that on.”

Neka catches the flighted metal. It’s weighty, solid. “No, really, just let me light this, and…” flick, ccrrssstt, “All done, here you g…” but he’s gone. She looks left and right to see which way he’d walked, but she can’t find him. “Hmmm, whatever.” 

She tucks back in her window, sits on the edge of the tub, and examines the metal. All silver, old silver – she knows because she’s seen some of her grandmother’s collectables. There’s a woman molded on the front of the lighter, a woman with six arms and no clothes on. Her hair is long and wavy, and she wears some sort of amulet.

She reaches behind her blindly to shut off the water. A hand grabs her wrist.

Neka screams, falls, scoots away from the tub. Her joint falls from her mouth. 

“Help, there’s someone in my…”

“Shut up!” A woman says from her tub.

Neka freezes, terrified. 

“Come here.”

No fucking way.”

Neka stands, but she doesn’t mean to. She didn’t move herself. She’s moved. Her legs take her to the side of the tub. She screams again. Her mouth is slammed shut.

“Stop that. It’s annoying.”

Neka’s eyes water. She’s scared. She should have called her mom.

“I am hungry.”

Neka doesn’t speak. She looks over the woman lying in her bathtub. Her face is smooth, her skin plump, her hair is long, dark, floating over her naked body. It takes Neka a minute to really see it, to see that she has six arms.

“I am hungry. Bring me food.”

“You’re the woman…” 

“Yes, on the lighter yes.”

“You came out of the lighter, like, like a?”

The woman laughs. “Like a what, like a genie?”

Neka nods with her mouth hanging open. 

“Ah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha. You humans, tsk, you all think your words mean so much. A genie. Ha. What, you expect me to come out of your lamp and grant you tricky wishes? No. I don’t think so. I am Mathnanon, a Benevar. You summon me, you serve me.”

“I don’t exactly under…”

Mathnanon pulls herself up, then out and over the side of the tub. She moves like a giant insect. Neka’s stomach churns.  “You summon me, you serve me.”

Neka steps back, then again, and again. She should have called her mom. She should have left the house. She should have bought her own lighter. The Benevar moves closer to Neka still. They dance like this until she is backed against the wall. 

“I need,” Mathnanon says light, breathy, “I need flesh.” She leans into Neka for a hard kiss. Neka squirms. Blood pounds in her lips. The pressure is too much. She tastes iron. Mathnanon holds Neka’s shoulders, wrists, hips. She moves a hand to Neka’s face, another to her groin. Neka sighs, moans, loses feeling in her knees. 

Before she could fight the advance again, the Benevar burst into flames. She backs away from Neka, smiling. “Bring me human, or I eat you.” She shrinks until all fluids have evaporated. Her body breaks, falls, the ashes create a cloud. 

A gust of wind moves through the bathroom then, which swirls the ashes before all of it spirals down, seeming to be contained in the lighter. She looks at her hand, still shaking. She looks at the window. She looks around her apartment for a weapon.

“Shit.”

 

THE END

 

Copyright WB Welch – All Rights Reserved

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

The Genie

Cernia Luna – Photo Story No. 19

If ever there was a person no one thought capable of murder, it was Luna.

Corey drove her to it, they’ll say. They were together two years. She walked in to an empty apartment and a note that just said ‘Bye.’ They all thought she would crumble.

She came to work like normal, ate, laughed, but no one saw her out nights. She stopped socializing with everyone outside of obligatory tasks. Understandable. Then one Monday, she didn’t come in. She didn’t call in sick, she didn’t return calls. The second no show day, their boss said ‘Fuck her then, post an ad for help.’ Work resumed.

Biels and Cernia went by her apartment after work. Luna wasn’t there; neither was her car. Biels had to bail, family needed dinner she said. Cernia stayed, waited. At almost midnight, she started walking home.

There was a horrible ache beneath her shoulder blades. Too much work. Too much stress. Some time off would do her good. She laughed at the thought, remembering she had three dollars and thirty-two cents in her pocket to last until Friday.

The bridge was dark that night, barren. Cernia’s stomach tingled, her arm hairs pricked. She wished she had cab money. She looked over the high ledge at the blackness of the water below. How strange that she could see the sky better than the water no more than a hundred feet beneath her ankles. There was a noise close by.

It was time to go.

Just passing the midway point, Cernia slowed, then stopped. Squinting, she saw a large silhouette, too large to be real, of course. She knew it was a trick on the mind. Her upper back ached. She rubbed her muscles. The things in front of her moved, swayed, like two tall but juvenile trees. Between them was a smaller, dense, stationary object. Cernia blinked hard several times. The shadows did not fade. She kicked herself for being a coward and took a step.

Then another.

And another.

She only accepted that her vision was not an illusion once she could see past the darkness, see the flesh, skin, blood. It was Luna, and it wasn’t. Her face had pulled, stretched. She had a long, moth-like mouth that was stuck into Corey’s throat, suckling. White, powdered wings moved in a wave like a conductor leading an orchestra through a delicate, sweeping downbeat.

Cernia’s shoulder blades pinched. A hot, singe plucked a nerve and shot through her shoulders, elbows, wrists, knuckles. She crumpled.

There was a thud. Thick iron and sweat whirled in her nose. She wretched, then drooled. She swallowed. She could hear Corey’s blood thicken, his heart rate slow then stop; she could hear Luna’s skin peel from the cement with each step of her bare feet; she could hear the coat of small hairs all colliding into one another, like grass in a heavy wind. She covered her ears and squeezed.

“What have you done to me?” Cernia yelled.

“Me?” Luna laughed. “Oh dear. Have you never? You poor thing. Let me help.”

The hair on Cernia’s arms pulled up, like iron bits to a magnet, and pointed at Luna. She curled into a ball and covered her throat.

“Please don’t eat me. I won’t tell anyone.” Her face was hot, moist. Luna was over her, all light from the moon blotted out by her wings. Cernia held her breath.

Luna’s touch brought not pain but release. She poked her fingers deep into Cernia’s back, causing an eruption of powder and feathers. White wings sprouted from her own back. She reached to feel a tubular mouth hanging from her face, twirled into a spiral.

The wind rolling over the water sounded like ice scraping metal. Birds chirped sharp. Leaves rustling was louder than a shattered window. Luna held her hands over Cernia’s ears.

“This is the worst of it. Your ears will adjust.”

“What. Did. You. Do?”

“I set you free, mon amie. I didn’t do this to you. You were in hibernation.”

Crying, Cernia looked up. “What?”

“You are awake now.”

“No, no, I must be dreaming.”

“You can go back to sleep if you like.”

Was she making jokes?

“Come. You don’t have to suffer anymore. Let’s try those new wings, anywhere you want to go.”

“But Corey…”

“Got what he had coming to him. I ate his new girlfriend, too.”

Cernia vomited. It spewed out of her little spout mouth.

“I can’t…I can’t eat people.”

“You can, and you’ll drool for more when you do. Each flavor is as unique as a line of reds at a wine tasting.”

“But they are people, with…”

“Meaningless lives and humdrum jobs raising kids they don’t even like.”

“Luna, what’s…”

“Gotten into me? The me you knew was but a portion of my timeline. I am hundreds of years old, sweetheart”

“How am I this, this thing? Was my mom…or dad?”

“One of them, yes.”

“Oh, God.”

“No, no god sweetie. Just man and animal and a fucked-up planet.”

Cernia gathered herself. She considered two options. Leaving with Luna or latching onto her throat. Would she die? Was she capable? She thought about everyone she knew, everyone she had known. Was anyone worth the life they’d been granted? Were their lives worth her own? She was hungry. There was a new cave in her core already.

“Who would you suggest I try first?”

 

THE END

 

Copyright WB Welch – All Rights Reserved

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

To see the photo that originally inspired this story, please visit the Instagram link below.

Photo Story No. 19

 

 

 

Cernia Luna – Photo Story No. 19

Photo Story No. 17

“It’s Friday the 13th. Everybody, stay safe out there.”

Celia turned off the radio. She spotted what she had been looking for. She killed her idling car.

Her long legs presented first. When Celia stood, four pairs of eyes followed her movements. She gave a nod to a few, then continued her hunt.

“Excuse me, ma’am,” she said, giving a light run to catch up with the blonde. “Excuse me.”

The girl gave a stuttered glance back, then fully turned around when she realized Celia was talking to her. “Yes?”

“Could you help me? I need to use a phone. Mine died, and I need to call my husband to tell him my car is dead.” The woman looked around as if searching for a reason to say no, then pulled her phone from the pocket of her Michael Kors handbag. When she held it out, Celia grabbed her wrist.

The woman tried to pull away, but there was no movement. Celia had the strength of stone. When the woman looked up, she saw her attacker’s eyes had gone black, and no one around them seemed to notice a thing. “Let go of me.” She pulled as hard as she could away from the woman with the black eyes. No one watched them, no one turned to look; those on the same sidewalk were walking around them. How could no one care she was being attacked? She screamed again.

Celia smiled. “They can’t hear you. Today is our day. Today, he protects us.” The woman half heard Celia, but she was frantic, hysterical, screaming, flailing. She felt like her wrist was cast inside of dried cement.

Celia tightened her grasp, then put her other hand to the woman’s chest.

“Help me, PLEASE.”

“I am helping you. You’ll live on forever, in me.” Celia’s palm opened, then latched onto the woman’s sternum. When the transfer began, Celia’s knees grew weak from the flow of euphoria. Her blood, marrow, cartilage, fibers, her energy….she tasted, she FELT divine. She didn’t even watch the woman; her eyes closed and her head fell back.

The woman shriveled before completely dissolving into a pile of dust, having been depleted of everything.

“Twenty-three more hours.” Celia licked her hand before the orifice closed. “Who’s next?”

 

THE END

 

Copyright WB Welch – All Rights Reserved

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

To see the photo that originally inspired this story, please visit the Instagram link below.

Photo Story No. 17

 

 

Photo Story No. 17