Sunday, October 31, 2010

After the Screams: Smile

Time to Clown Around

I'd like to take this time to thank all who visited Knight Chills during Halloween week.  I also want to extend my gratitude to our talented writers who contributed a short story or poem during 7 Days and Nights of Terror.  Without all of you, my week would have been extremely dull.

Don't forget to visit our fine writers in their websites for more entertaining, free reads. 

My picks for story of the year on Knight Chills ends up with a tie.  Carole Gill with her beautiful horror story "The Song" and Adriana Noir made a great case for abortion with "Philomena."  After reading both stories, the first word out of my mouth was WOW!

As for the poetry, I'll select a group of my favorites and I'll let you, the readers and writers, decide who has the best poem on Knight Chills.  By Thanksgiving I'll set up a poll and you'll be able to vote for your favorite poem.  I haven't decided on the prize for the best poet yet.  I do have something special in mind for my two favorite horror writers, Adriana and Carole. Expect your gifts before Christmas.

In the meantime, I think it best to end this fun holiday by illustrating some of the possible events that could have occurred while trick or treating. 

Thank you all and have a great week!

Too much of a good thing can be bad.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Philomena by Adriana Noir


A lone, piercing cry echoed through the corridors and jarred Claire from the pleasant escape of her dreams.  As she fought the pull of slumber, confusion set in, followed by a mounting sense of dread.  Her heartbeat hitched and Claire shook her head in pleading denial as she felt the security of her false world slip away bit by bit, like tiny grains of sand sifting through an hourglass.  Before her eyes even opened, she wanted to run, to hide—to disappear forever.  The bloodcurdling wail increased in intensity.  It slammed through her conscious, bringing one terrifying word to mind.


The mere thought made her blood run cold.  Fear trickled down her spine and gnawing guilt rose in the pit of her stomach.  Claire knew, without opening her eyes that he was watching, waiting, gauging her every reaction.  His unmistakable scent infiltrated the room.  It carried on the spring breeze wafting through the open window.  Still, she chanced a peek into the darkness, only to wince and draw deeper into the comforter.  Two eyes stared back at her.  Wide, accusing orbs, so pale they appear to glow, watched, unblinking from the shadows.

The sweet, earthy aroma of sandalwood and smoke grew stronger as Aldric approached the bed.  Her ears prickled, filling with the soft rustle of his clothing.  He closed the distance between them in long, graceful strides, his feet soundless on the wooden planks.  Slender, cool fingers brushed her cheek in a deceptively tender gesture.  There was no place to go, no method of escape, and she stared up at him, conveying a silent plea with her eyes, hoping he would understand.

"Claire, darling?"

His voice was velvet and seductive, a compelling baritone.  It could lead angels from heaven and lure them straight into the depths of hell.  After all, she had followed, unaware of what fate held in store—unaware or uncaring.  She could not resist Aldric's tragic beauty any more than an art collector could resist an original Monet.  Now, it was too late to make amends.

His generous lips curved into a smile, as if he sensed her thoughts.  She watched as an ebony lock slipped out of place to rest against the pale satin of his cheek.  Aldric's eyes mesmerized, but the mock concern glimmering in those eloquent shamrock pools didn't fool her.  Not anymore.

Claire averted her gaze to watch the sheer curtains dance in the breeze.  They moved beneath invisible fingers, plied by a grace and beauty she no longer understood.  The scent of warm lilac teased her senses and, for a moment, she let it wrap her in comfort.  It chased away the damp odor of mildew lurking beneath the sandalwood and smoke, the smell of rot that encased the walls of her prison. 

Outside, the clouds shifted and a thin sliver of light fell through the narrow windows.  The pale glint of the moon eased the dark shadows, and for one blissful second, all was forgotten until another keening wail sliced the silence.

Hungry and demanding, the sound set her nerves on edge.  Claire swallowed against the acidic bile lodged in her throat.  Her breath came in shallow snorts; her nostrils flared.


A sigh of strained patience escaped her lover.  Aldric took her hand in his, holding it against his breast.  She thought she could feel a rhythmic thud beneath her palm, but words skittered through her brain like roaches scuttling for shadow: deception, trickery . . . until she became convinced it was naught but the violent hammer of her own heart that she felt. 

Claire's lips pressed together in a grim line to keep the screams from coming.  Madness swelled within.  It loomed overhead in a thick, insidious cloud, and she prayed that the burgeoning weight would become too much.  That like rain, the terror would somehow break free and fall to the earth in driving sheets.  Perhaps it would cleanse her and wash away all that she had done.

Aldric drew her against him and cut her thoughts short.  His fingers speared through the damp tangles of her hair making her tense on instinct.  Without warning, his arms wrapped around her and squeezed like a snake constricting its prey.  Claire whimpered, terrified he'd somehow found out about her secret—her dirty, shameful secret.

She hated them.

Philomena's cries grew louder still.  Wetness trickled down Claire's bosom. It seeped through the thin nightie in blossoming stains, stains that threatened to purge her soul.  Hot crimson flooded her cheeks, bringing a hint of warmth not found in the air.  It wasn't enough to chase away the biting cold that settled into her core whenever those bloodcurdling wails pierced her ears.  The fires of Hell itself couldn't banish those chills.

Aldric tipped her chin, forcing her gaze to meet his.  Claire trembled beneath his touch, fear and revulsion wreaking havoc on her frazzled system.  Her breath caught with a hitch and she prayed he couldn't see through her thin disguise.  His eyes gave nothing away, but something sinister rose in their depths. 

A scream bubbled against Claire's lips.

"The baby needs you."

For a moment, confusion obscured her thoughts.  Baby?  What baby?  Then, realization sank in, dropping like weighted lead through her heart.


With rubbery legs, Claire stood.  She forced a smile for Aldric's benefit though every fiber in her being tingled with nervous tension, screaming at her to run; run as far, and as fast, as she could.  Each step made her feel as though she were falling forever downward into an eternal abyss.  The urge to flee tore through her in ragged bolts, errant surges of electricity and impulse.  Yet, she couldn't break free.  Her body, weak and pathetic, betrayed her.  It answered the call of the soulless and damned.

She inched into the hall, flipping the switch on her way past.  Soft, welcoming light flooded the corridor, but the shadows still remained.  They always remained.  Claire shuffled forward, one foot at a time.  The movements felt stiff and robotic, disassociated from her own body, as if she were sleepwalking or moving in a trance.  She wished that was the case: that she could somehow wake from the nightmare embroiling her life . . . that Aldric and Philomena would somehow disappear forever and let her gather the few shards of sanity and peace that remained.

Why had she not listened to that screaming voice of conscience?  She had known since day one that something was wrong . . . terribly wrong.  Aldric had been too good to be true.  Yet, like a fool, she kept coming back for more.  She had believed all his lies, his seductive coos, and promises of love.  One icy touch had sent all sense of reason into a state of permanent hibernation.  His pale, penetrating eyes had hypnotized, immobilized, and now she was trapped in a nightmare from which she could never awake.

Claire's eyes drifted shut when another heinous wail lanced the silence.  Her blood turned frigid as if glaciers crept through her veins.  She shook, the aftershock rippling through her body in an uneasy tide. Beneath the demanding scream, something else rose.  A whimper echoed in her ears, the soft, pleading noise similar to a frightened animal.  It took Claire a moment to realize the raw noise emanated from her own throat.  Ashamed at her cowardice, and terrified Aldric would speed her progress along, she crept forward.

The antique doorknob rattled in her grasp.  She hated the old, rundown house almost as much as she hated its occupants.  The brass chilled her palm, sending another frigid stab of fear straight through her heart.  Her nightgown clung to her flesh, saturated with a mixture of milk and stinking sweat as Philomena's shrieks grew more savage, and with the last bit of latent courage that remained, Claire pushed the door open.

An arctic blast assailed her, driving the breath from her body in frosty plumes.  Low bursts of fog rose above the crib in the center of the room, growing with each lofty scream.  Claire stared in horror through the thin, wooden rails, watching Philomena's pale fists pump in the air.  Her heart seized in her chest as that monstrous head turned at the intrusion and the baby fixated her with an accusing glare.  Silvery blue eyes, so light they were almost clear, shone with anger and hatred.

It took every ounce of strength she had not to turn tail and run.

Claire edged forward, one hand held out in uncertainty, as if she could somehow placate the beast.  Her heart jack hammered against her chest and cinched with pain.  Tears stung her eyes, but she was certain they looked nothing like the watery graves her daughter boasted.  A muffled sob vibrated in the hollow of her throat, and Claire fought the familiar mixture of dread and horror that consumed her whenever she dared too close to the room.  She ached to offer a reassuring coo, to pick the child up and nurse her with all the love and care of a normal mother, but she couldn't.  She hated the caterwauling beast confined in its crib.  The mere thought of touching it made Claire's skin crawl as if infected by maggots.

Fighting a wave of rising gorge, she pressed forward.  Philomena stared up at her, her colorless eyes brimming with resentment.  Gaunt, pinched features twisted with violent fury as she screamed.  Claire's hands twitched at her sides.  The urge to suffocate the monster surged through her veins, as potent as the rising tide after a storm.  Somehow, she had to rid the world of the miscreation sprawled before her, undo the damage she had done.  There had to be a way . . .

Those eyes, those soulless eyes, bore into her with fevered intensity.  She felt a disturbing sense of calm settle into her core, and Claire knew, as she lifted the creature to her bosom, that Philomena had worked her demon's spell once again.  It was no more than a glimmer of a thought, and as soon as the notion came, it passed.  She shuffled toward the old rocking chair in the corner, no longer mindful of the room's unsettling chill or the revulsion wrenching her soul.  All that mattered was feeding the precious bundle in her arms.

Loud suckling noises filled the air.  Tiny lips quested against Claire's exposed flesh, smacking with zeal until they found what they sought.  She let her eyes drift shut, though her body stiffened with pain.  The baby feasted, and she remained motionless, staring at the wall as it attempted to quench its endless hunger.  The pain grew more intense and a low, rumbling growl snapped Claire to full attention.  Cursing, she wrenched Philomena away, her own brow drawing in furious reprimand.

"Ouch!  You hideous little—"

Philomena let loose a scream that slaughtered the words in Claire's throat.  It was unearthly and raw, a forceful protest wrought with loathing.  She watched in wide-eyed horror as the screams seemed to multiply, growing to a cacophony of voices rising from a single being, none of them human, but all of them emitting from a mouth smeared with blood.

Two rows of tiny, razor-sharp teeth jutted in ragged intervals from the baby's gums, none of them wider than a sewing needle.  Claire blinked in disbelief—once, twice, but the gruesome image still remained.  Philomena flailed, her crimson-smeared mouth opening wider with each furious scream.  Without thinking, Claire flung the swaddled infant to the floor and sprang to her feet.  Hands splayed in front of her, she staggered away from the abomination, a series of high-pitched mewls squeaking past her throat as she inched toward the door.  She could feel the insidious mixture of blood and milk trickling down her skin.  Each sinister kiss against her flesh made Claire shudder.  She had to get out.

Philomena lifted her head, and even from where Claire stood, she could see the thick blue-grey veins throbbing beneath the surface of the bulbous monstrosity.  She could smell the sickly-sweet stench radiating from the creature she was forced to call a daughter.  Her hand fumbled for the doorknob behind her, her fingers scrabbling in vain against coarse wood.  A sharp yelp pushed past her throat, and she pulled back to find a splinter lodged beneath her nail.

The aberration on the floor sensed her weakness, however fleeting.  It pushed itself up, its tiny arms quivering beneath the strain.  Claire screamed, but even the shrill, jarring sound could not drown out the voice in her head—the quiet, pleading voice that kept insisting this just wasn’t possible.  The baby, if she could be called such, was only a couple weeks old, yet here she was, pushing herself up on her hands, her body trembling as she attempted to get her knees beneath her.

Nothing in the parenting books Claire had read prepared her for such a thing.

Philomena crept across the floor, her gown trailing behind her and dragging against the wooden planks with a slithering, raspy sound.  She grunted and growled with exertion, but she did not slow.  Silvery eyes locked on her mother and the leathered strips of her mouth stretched back into a feral leer.  Needle-like teeth glinted in the moonlight, teeth still stained with Claire’s blood.

Terror kept her rooted in place.  Claire’s heart performed tricks in her chest.  It hammered then stopped, hammered then stopped, until she grew dizzy beneath the spell.  Loud roaring droned in her ears, like the roar of the ocean fading in and out in nauseating surges.

Why had she been so weak?  Why had she let loneliness get the best of her?  Why had she played with that damn Ouija board?  Was this her punishment?  Oh, but the house had been so empty before, so quiet and still.  Now, now she would give anything for that peace once again.

Frigid fingers bit into her ankle, snapping Claire from her thoughts with a scream.  Without thinking, she kicked out, booting the creature away.  She felt a hint of satisfaction as she watched it fly through the air before landing across the room with a loud thud.  That sick sense of accomplishment died as soon as the first pitiful wail pierced her ears.  Filled with pain and mourning, it broke Claire’s heart.  It was as if all of the heartbreak and suffering in the world poured forth from her daughter’s lips.

Her hands twisted with panic.  Sweat beaded against her flesh, amplifying the chill in the room.  Fear-laden icicles draped around her heart.


She didn’t have to turn to see the displeasure etched into Aldrics’s features.  It weighed in his voice, sending ripples of unease darting down her spine.  Fear constricted her heart to a screeching halt.

“What have you done?”

Answers eluded her.  She remained rooted in place as he brushed past her and strode across the room to his beloved daughter.  The cries had since quieted to mere whimpers, and even those died as Aldric cradled Philomena in his arms.  Her hands and legs dangled limply, performing a lifeless dance as he clutched her tight against his chest.

Claire held her breath until her lungs ached.  Agonizing moments ticked by as she waited to see what would happen next.  She didn’t dare breathe as the deep reverberation of Aldric’s voice filled the room.  It vibrated off the walls and through the empty corridors of Claire’s heart, and as she listened, a strange energy tingled around her.  The hairs on her arms lifted in response.  Even the fine down covering the back of her neck stood on end as Aldric whispered and murmured in foreign tongues, his body bowed over his daughter in a protective arch.

There was a time when his secret language had stirred excitement and arousal; when those strange words and sounds had been exotic and exciting.  Now they sounded sinister.  The illusions surrounding her life fell away bit by bit, each sloughing off like rotted layers of skin to reveal the ugly, raw seepage beneath.  What remained was a glimmer of something so unspeakable it induced madness.

The atmosphere grew heavy, weighted down and charged with static, like the calm before a storm.  Aldric glanced over his shoulder, his pale green eyes full of accusation.  Claire withered beneath the blistering hatred, her knees trembling as she struggled to draw air into her aching lungs.

“How does it feel to die, Claire, to feel your life slip helplessly through your hands while others look on with disinterest?”

She clutched at her throat, her fingers clawing in desperation against the invisible chokehold.  As she did, she watched the heinous bundle in Aldric’s arms begin to stir.  The long, gangly fingers twitched and curled and Philomena’s chest heaved in a lofty cry.

Claire hit the floor, hands and knees splayed against the rough wooden planks as darkness closed in.  She wanted to clasp her hands over her ears to drown out the shrill, monstrous noise.  Never in her life had she heard anything like it.  It was as if every legion in hell had been unleashed and now resided in the single, solitary scream emitting from her daughter.


As much as she hated that hideous beast, Claire never imagined that would be the last thought, the last thing to flitter through her mind.  But as her body jerked on the floor, ensnared in death’s final throes, Philomena’s name echoed with haunting clarity inside her head.

Ϯ ~ ϯ ~ ϯ ~ ϯ ~ ϯ ~ ϯ ~ ϯ

A lone cry pierced the night, pulling Claire from the pleasant shroud of her dreams.  She stirred against her pillow, resisting the urge to sink deeper into the comforter and give in to the sweet promise of slumber.  Her eyes drifted open and she listened, for a moment, to the rhythmic breathing of her lover as he slept beside her.  Another wail lanced the silence and Aldric rolled over, a mumbling protest falling from his lips.

She stared at him, admiring the beauty of his features and the smooth scape of his skin beneath the kiss of the moon.  Bathed in an alabaster glow, he was almost too beautiful to resist.  Not wanting Philomena to disturb him, Claire slid from bed, grabbed her robe from the rocking chair, and padded out of the room on quiet feet.

Hungry, demanding screams grew in intensity and pitch.  Her heart sunk in response.  Philomena was waiting and obviously not pleased at the inconvenience.  Claire made her way down the corridor leading to the baby’s room, the smell of death and decay heavy in her nostrils.  She wrinkled her nose, trying to locate the source as she made her way down the hall.

Nudging the door open, she stood for a moment and observed the crib situated in the middle of the room.  A low, dense fog hung above the wooden rails, growing larger with each fervent cry.  Taking a deep breath, she braced herself and pushed forward.

There, inside the crib, lay a swaddled bundle with ashen skin.  One side of the baby’s face had fallen away and a dark, empty hollow sat where an eye had once been.  The other stared up, a single watery grave, as Philomena regarded her mother with hatred.

Claire felt an overwhelming surge of guilt wash over her as she plucked her daughter into her arms.  She cradled Philomena against her breast and issued a mumbled apology.  She had been a bad mother as of late, a very bad mother.  Tears welled in her eyes, each one stinging like fire.  What had she done to her beautiful, beautiful baby girl?

She pressed her lips against the straggly patch of coarse hair covering Philomena’s scalp.  Rotting flesh clung to her lips as she pulled away to offer a nipple and settle in the chair.  She had been so tired lately; even the slightest movements left her feeling drained and exerted.  Gentle moonlight fell through the lone window centered in the room.  It fell across her skin, revealing mottled blots and leathery patches.  She swore it grew worse as the baby fed, yet Philomena, her precious, beautiful child grew more radiant with each ardent suckle.  Two watery blue eyes now stared up at her, unblinking in the darkness.

“That’s right, baby.  Eat,” Claire urged, her voice coming in a grated whisper.  A single tooth fell from her mouth and skittered across the floor.  “Everything is going to be okay now.  Momma’s here.”

© Copyright 2010 Adriana Noir. All rights reserved.
Adriana Noir has granted Knight Chills non-exclusive rights to display this work.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Mr. Moon: Shine on Me by Max Griffin

Mr. Moon: Shine on Me 

     Mr. Moon is full tonight. I can just see him if I stand on the table by my bed, on my tippy-toes.  When you stand like that, you can look out of the basement window and see our backyard.  I pull on my chains so I can see Mr. Moon better.  He's just sneaking over Mr. Wolfson's roof next door, just like he's playing peek-a-boo.  I don't play peek-a-boo anymore.  That's for babies.  Mr. Wolfson used to let me play with his puppy, though.  He's nice to me.  His puppy gave me kisses sometimes.

      My swing set is in the backyard.  It's all shiny in the moonlight.  It looks real pretty when Mr. Moon shines on it.  I wish Mr. Moon would shine on me.

      I wish I could play on my swing set.  But not tonight.  Mr. Moon is full tonight.

      It's real scary when Mr. Moon is full.  They scare me when there's a full moon.  They always chain me in the basement on those nights.  Sometimes they hit me, too.  They're real scary when Mr.Moon is full.

      My legs hurt where they hit me.  Standing on tippy-toe makes my legs hurt the worst.  My chains clank when I lay back down on my bed. I hug Mr. Bear.  It's cold in the basement tonight.  The wind is blowing outside, like my whistle that Daddy threw away because I blew on it too much and it hurt his ears.  It's cold and I can't reach my covers.  They're far away, on the floor across the basement.  I tried to get them but the chains bit  my leg and choked me so bad I couldn't reach them. 

      I wish they didn't make me stay here, but they said I was bad.  They hit me and put the chains on me and said I was a very, very bad little boy.  They must be right.  They're my mommy and daddy. I try to be good.  Cross my heart!

      When they hit me, I cried and cried. I screamed when they carried me down here. I even hit Daddy.  But they didn't care.  I don't know why Mommy and Daddy hate me.  I hug Mr. Bear tighter. Mr. Bear loves me.

      The floor creaks from Mommy and Daddy walking around upstairs.  They're yelling again.  Sometimes I think Mommy and Daddy hate each other, too.  I'm afraid Daddy might leave again.  He left once for days and days but then he came back.  Mommy cried when he left.  She hugged me when she cried.  That was nice; she gives good hugs.

      But then she chained me in the basement and told me I was bad and hit me.

      Daddy was gone for the longest time when he left.  I was scared.  Mommy said we didn't have enough to eat.  Then Daddy came back.  He didn't have any food, but Mommy hugged him and kissed him anyway.  He was all hairy and Mommy made him shave.  She said he looked like an animal.  I don't know why she said that. Daddy didn't look at all like Mr. Wolfson's puppy.  He put the shaving cream on my face and shaved me, too.  We both giggled.  That was fun, to giggle with Daddy.

      They're yelling again. I don't understand what they're saying.  It's all my fault.  They must be fighting about me.  There's a growling sound, too.  It can't be Mr. Wolfson's puppy.  He made growly sounds sometimes, but he doesn't come in our back yard any more.

      It's so cold and my legs ache. My side hurts, too. Why did they hit me? Why are they yelling at each other?  Now Mommy is screaming at Daddy.  Daddy screams back. I think they maybe broke some dishes. I hope they aren't the ones that Grandma gave us.  Grandma is nice to me. She loves me.  She never hits me or locks me in the basement.

      Mr. Moon's face is in the window now. He's shining right on me, here in the basement.  I don't need to climb on my table anymore to see him.  I don't like it when Mr. Moon is full.  They scare me and hit me when Mr. Moon is full. 

      They shout some more.  Then a door slams real loud, and a car starts and drives away.  Mommy is crying.  Her sobs sound all echo-y in the register above my head.  I'm scared that Daddy has left again.  Maybe if I go upstairs and kiss her, she'll love me and hug me. I think I can slip the chains off, now that Mr. Moon has shined on me.  Maybe if I trot to the top of the stairs and scratch at the door, Mommy will open it and let me kiss her.

      I'm nearly done changing now.  I almost always change when Mr. Moon is full. He has to shine on me, though, or I don't change.  I look just like Mr. Wolfson's puppy now.  Poor puppy!  Last month, when Mr. Moon was full, I got out and ate him. 

© Copyright 2010 Max Griffin. All rights reserved. 
Max Griffin has granted Knight Chills non-exclusive rights to display this work.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Silent Scream by Nomar Knight

        Melissa Nieves sat at her ninth floor window listening to teenagers playing hip hop music. Her apartment faced the back of the building towards the Pitt Street swimming pool. The lampposts revealed enticing, blue water, undisturbed for the past hour when it closed for the night. Nearby she watched her big brother standing in front of graffiti filled walls, waiting for customers to buy a substance that promised an escape from everything, including the terrible humidity. She longed for the days she could change her dreaded existence. “Mom, are you awake?”

         She listened as her mother snored softly on an old sofa. Her long mane covered her chiseled face. Melissa sipped a cup of ice tea, wishing she was rich enough to jump in her own private pool to celebrate her thirteenth birthday. She fought off tears for the only person to wish her a happy birthday was her brother, Phillip.

         A brown Hummer pulled next to Phillip. Two men wearing baggy jeans and over-sized t-shirts got out of the vehicle, causing Melissa’s heartbeat to increase. One sported a Yankee cap, identical to her brother’s. The other wore his hair shaved close to the skull, a fancy name carved on his head. When he stepped under the street light, Melissa appreciated the scripted letters which spelled out chocolate. For some reason the man’s wide neck reminded her of a frog.

         Phillip glanced up in her direction and led the men to a dark corner, disappointing Melissa. She knew what he was, the neighborhood drug dealer. While publicly she had to deny knowing his business, privately she wished he didn’t have to sell drugs, but how else would they survive?

         Everything stopped. The fan that blew humid air on her face ceased to function. The streetlights shut down. Darkness blanketed the city. “Mom, wake up. The lights are off.”

         Her mother stirred, mumbled and continued sleeping. Melissa listened as the teenagers
howled like a pack of wolves. Panic filled the streets like a black plague, hell-bent on striking fear into the weakest of souls. Within seconds, the sounds of windows being smashed shattered the routine city noises. People screamed as if hell itself spilled over into the tireless city streets.

         An overwhelming stabbing pain gnawed at Melissa’s gut. She’d get the apprehensive feeling just before something terrible happened. “Phillip’s in danger.” She gasped.

         Extending her hands in front of her, she inched her way towards the sofa, hoping to recruit her mother’s assistance. “Mother, wake up! Phillip is in danger.” She reached her shoulders and shook them. A soft moan escaped from her, but she continued to sleep.

         Melissa screamed, “I hate drugs!” She balled her fists, tempted to pound her mother’s head. “I’ll save him myself.”

         She made her way in the darkness, towards a kitchen drawer. She rifled through its contents and found a small flashlight. When she turned it on, a circle of light surrounded her. She made her way to the locked door, wondering why she loathed the darkness. Something tugged inside her. Something urged her to get out. Her brother was in danger.

         She unlocked the door, quietly closing it. When she flashed the beam before her, Goosebumps ran up her arms. A tiled narrow hallway revealed red doors scattered throughout graffiti tagged walls. Melissa sensed that beyond the reach of her light, something wicked waited for her. Neighbors arguing racked her nerves. As she approached the steel elevators, she listened to a few female voices screaming to be rescued. Tempted to act, she decided her brother’s need for her presence outweighed her desire to help. She shouted, “Don’t worry; I’ll get the security guard.”

         Immediately after she spoke, the females pounded on the walls of the elevator, their desperate pleas triggering memories of cobwebs and closed coffins. She didn’t understand where the morbid images came from, but shook them off, concentrating her efforts on the stairwell.

         The light dimmed as her sandals stomped on the concrete steps. She dared not look within the shadows for evil loomed dreadfully close. She made sure her hand swept wherever her vision aimed. Considering the flashlight’s flickering, she decided prudent to move faster. Breathing. She heard a heavy wheezing behind her as if some monster approached, all set on cutting off her lungs. She paused ready to defend herself. Then as she saw a dark shadow approaching, she realized she had no weapon. Throwing a small flashlight would not save her from the evil she had in mind.

         A boy about ten years of age, stopped dead in his tracks when he saw her. She gathered her composure as the child who struggled for breath, raised his hands in surrender. She said, “Come on kid, I won’t hurt you.”

         “Medicine.” He struggled for air, “My daddy’s downstairs. He has my pump.”

         Melissa reached out for the boy and rushed him down the stairs towards the exit. A much older version of the lad entered the building, grateful to see the child. “Take it, son.” He handed the boy a gizmo which he promptly put into his mouth, squeezing. A hissing verified medicine was going inside him.

         Melissa reached the entrance of the building, sad the moonless night added to her neighbors’ misery. The flashlight died. The only visible illumination came from the headlights of passing vehicles. She raced towards the rear of the building, careful not to trip over debris or run into garbage bins. All around her she heard people shouting. A woman cried, “Sinners! Repent for the end of the world is upon us!”

         Of all the sounds, the people shouting in fear, windows being smashed, children crying, and the sound she did not want to hear, the sound which visited her neighborhood often, blackout or not, echoed nearby. Three gunshots rang across the hectic night air. The dreaded popping noises appeared to come from the vicinity where Phillip had gone with the men.

         Inside, her guts twirled in knots. Ever since she could remember she had a knack for foretelling the future. The minute she laid eyes on the two men she sensed they were bad news. She particularly wondered how her eyes were able to read the man’s haircut from such a distance. “Chocolate.” She whispered, “If you did something to my brother…”

         “Get his stash!”

         The dark skinned gentleman with the neon sign for a skull pointed a nine millimeter gun as the Yankee hat wearing hoodlum rifled through Phillip’s pockets.

         “Phillip!” She shouted. The men pointed weapons at Melissa.

         The one known as chocolate said, “Holy shit! What’s wrong with your eyes?” He crossed himself and kissed his finger.

         The other one moved away from her wounded brother and uttered, “Tiene ojos rojo. Es una diabla.”

         Melissa translated his words in her mind. She wondered why they thought she had red eyes, but she admitted to herself, images appeared clear, highlighted by a tint of red. She did not understand how two men carrying guns became afraid of her. Clicking sounds caused her to crouch. They pulled the trigger on their weapons. The firearms created the clicking noises. Their guns were useless.

         She wondered if the little light there was played tricks on the men. At last she kneeled by Phillip’s side, staring at the Spanish speaking hoodlum and said, “I’m not a devil.”

         Chocolate spoke as if a child, “We were under orders. He had to die.”

         Rage flared through every fiber of Melissa’s body. A burst of energy surged through her. She pointed at the cap wearing thug and watched in awe as a thunderbolt flew out of her fingers, lifting the cretin thirty feet in the air and tossed him against a brick wall. A funky charbroiled odor permeated the night air. His lifeless corpse landed in an awkward heap.

         Phillip grabbed her leg, “Hurry, get momma.”

         Melissa watched as her brother bled in the alley. His panting breaths ceased and his eyes took on a glassy glow. She pointed both her index fingers at the evil man known as Chocolate and yelled, “You will pay for this!”

         Instead of a thunderbolt extending from her new found power, a puff of white smoke surrounded Phillip’s killer. His body shrunk, no longer taking on human form. He transformed from a human drug dealer into a brown toad.

         “Congratulations Melissa.” Her mother stood at the entrance of the alley, her long red hair swaying in spite of a windless night. The few surrounding trees remained still, yet energy surrounded her. Her eyes glowed an alien green.

         “Mom, what just happened?”

         “Happy birthday, my child. Now do us all a favor and restore your brother.”

         An electrical energy pulsated out of her heart. She cupped her brother’s chest and a yellow force field healed his wounds, bringing him back to life.

         Melissa’s mother said, “Living in the city is not easy. These foolish mortals worry about the silliest things. Look how they go ape over a simple blackout.”

         “What am I?” Melissa helped her brother rise to his feet.

         “We are witches. In time you will remember your past lives.”

         “Mom, why am I no longer afraid of the dark?”

         Her mother gestured for them to get going, “I’ll tell you everything upstairs, but like me you possess night vision.” She glanced towards the enemy, “Oh, don’t forget your pet toad.”

         Melissa picked up Chocolate, the evil drug dealer and felt him tremble in her hands. “Maybe we should cook toad soup.”

         Phillip said, “I’d like that very much.”

         The funny thing about the trek back to the apartment was that Melissa heard Chocolate screaming for dear life. She instinctively knew that to the average person, his screams were silent as if a vortex of despair funneled his cries to a world where darkness ruled.

         When they reached the building, her mother said, “Today your powers are unleashed.”

         Melissa smiled, anxious to learn more about her unique abilities.

© Copyright 2010 Nomar Knight. All rights reserved.
Nomar Knight has granted Knight Chills non-exclusive rights to display this work.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Song by Carole Gill

The Song
          Anya’s granny lived in a timber house on the edge of a glacial lake at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains. The house had blue shutters and window boxes full of wild flowers that grew in the alpine meadows nearby--purple and white bellflowers and pink peonies.
It was a magical place for the air carried the sweet scent of spruce trees and conifers which rode upon the generous wind that spread beauty and enchantment throughout the valley.    
          Every summer Anya and her family would come to spend a week visiting Granny but then Anya’s mother suddenly sickened and died.
          It happened shortly after Christmas that she took to her bed. And in between a sad smile and closed eyes she was gone.
          “I am sorry, Anya.”
          Papa’s words didn’t sink in for Anya could not believe her mother could be healthy one day and gone the next.
          “But Papa!”
          “Yes, it is sad. But such is life; death often comes quickly to snatch us away!”
          But so quickly?
          “Go now and say your goodbyes.”
          So Anya kissed her mother’s forehead before the grim-faced men came to take her mama out of the house. How bitterly Anya wept.
          Her mama’s funeral was held on a freezing January day when the earth was too frozen to bury her.
          “The service will be held as planned but she will be returned to the morgue, Janos to lie with the others and when the ground thaws a bit she will be buried.”
          Anya had heard the funeral director tell her papa and she had been terribly upset fearing her mother wouldn’t have liked that, but would have preferred to be interred immediately in the family plot next to the four babies she had unsuccessfully brought into the world.
          Granny wept so hard, Anya’s heart nearly broke for her as it did for herself. But Papa seemed to have recovered fairly quickly from bidding farewell to his wife of ten years. He recovered so quickly in fact he had a new bride just about the time of the spring thaw.
          “Have they buried Mama yet, Papa?”
          The buxom stepmother shuddered, “Of course they did.” How was it that she smiled with everything but her eyes? “Of course she is buried. Now go play. Your Papa and I are busy.”
          Busy making cow’s eyes at each other Anya thought.
          Life went on somehow as it does, though Anya didn’t care for she was so unhappy.
And then when she least expected it Granny suddenly appeared one day. She looked haggard and drawn and so much older. She looked at Papa and the stepmother with hard eyes but smiled with love when she looked at Anya. “I have come to take you home.”
Anya didn’t know her papa had asked the old woman to take her granddaughter. Nor did Anya realize that he was ready to plead.
But that was not necessary as Granny was delighted. “Anya, should you like to live with your old nanny? I would love to have your company.”
          Before Anya could answer Papa did because the stepmother poked him hard in the ribs. “Ah yes! Here is your little suitcase Anya, it is all packed for you!”
          Anya was quite pleased really because she didn’t mind leaving the home that no longer contained love.
So she took her little suitcase and clasped hold of her nanny’s hand.
And when it came time to bid her father and stepmother goodbye she hardly looked at them but looked at her nanny instead. “Come Bunicuţă, I am ready to go with you!”
          Her Granny smiled. “We shall take the train where we will buy ourselves cakes and hot chocolate for it is a special occasion and when we arrive in Ceahlau I shall buy a nice cooked goose for our dinner.”
          Anya was overjoyed.
          They rode in a wonderful steam train that snaked its way through the richly beautiful countryside. And the whole time Anya sat with her nose pressed against the window admiring everything.
And true to Granny’s word when they disembarked, Granny bought a lovely roasted goose from the meat shop. “Goose for dinner!” Granny said. “How very grand we shall be!”
She heard the song the first night, a beautiful haunting song that came from somewhere magical, where fairy tales are real and wishes made with love come true.
Granny had given Anya her own bedroom and was sleeping in the parlor.
“You will be happy in this room, for I know how you love it so. It faces the lake and you love looking at it!”
Anya did love the room with its cozy bed and the beautiful French doors that opened onto the graceful balcony.
Nanny tucked Anya in. “Sleep well and have the most wonderful dreams, dreams of love and goodness.”
Anya promised, not even saying, ‘if I can,’ but swearing she would.
Before it was time to go to sleep Granny read Anya the most wondrous fairy tale, all about songs of magic and fantasy.
Anya was nearly dozing by the time it was finished so Granny tucked her in. “Sleep well my granddaughter, sleep well and dream of love.”
Sometime during the night, between one dream and another it seemed Anya dreamt she heard the most wonderful music.
It was so beautiful, she wanted to step outside so she could trace where it was coming from. But she couldn’t though she tried for she was much too sleepy. And although she sat up, she soon sank back into the soft eiderdown only to fall deeply asleep again.
When she woke in the morning, still thinking it was all a dream she told her granny.
“Did it sound like angels in heaven, child?”
“Yes, Anya said. “It was the song of angels I heard. And I so wished to see them too. But I dreamed I was too tired and although I tried to get up, I fell asleep again! It was a dream wasn’t it? It couldn’t have been real could it have?”
“You would like it to be real, my child?”
“Yes, I would as real as love can be.”
Granny sighed. “I did read you a fairy tale probably that was the cause of it all.”
Anya thought that might be so. “Yes perhaps.” She sighed. “Do read it again for I would very much like to dream it all again.”
And so Granny did. She read the same lovely story about maidens who danced by a lake – maidens who were really water nymphs and whose sole purpose in life was to sing songs for little girls who liked to dream of magic.
Anya grew sleepy as she listened. And when the clock struck nine she had to be carried to her bed.
“Good night my child, everything will be alright. You will see my precious one. You will see more magic than you can imagine!”
Granny kissed Anya’s forehead and quietly slipped out of the room and as strange as it seemed, the singing began almost immediately.
This was no dream Anya soon realized. As a matter of fact, it seemed more distinct—for now she clearly heard the sweetly sad refrain about loss and love—about parting and unrelieved sadness and heartache. It was so sad in fact that Anya wept.
“I will see these maids. I will!” she shouted as she hurried toward the French doors.
There happened to be a pearly moon that shone brightly and lit the lake and the land enough for Anya to see three maids dancing. But not only dancing for they were singing too. And as Anya opened the door, she heard the music so clearly and spied the fiddler there who accompanied them.
How beautifully he played and how graceful they were, twirling about—singing and dancing.
Anya stepped closer to the balcony wall and as she did, she suddenly realized they were all watching her.
“I only wish to listen!”
She heard them giggle when she said that. And she giggled too but that was before she saw them begin to slowly drift upward toward her!
Up, they went like the slow rolling mist that lifted off of the lake at dawn.
Anya gasped. For as much as she liked them, she didn’t want them to come to her. They were frightening her a bit now. For the closer they came, the louder they sang and the song they sang sounded odd and scary almost and they looked different too with their arms outstretched as though they were reaching for her! But worse than that was they were calling her name: “Anya! Anya!”
How did they know her name? How had that happened?
She began to cry and to back away. “No! No go away!”
But they didn’t. They kept on coming, slowly—but steadily.
There was only one thing to do. Anya quickly closed the doors and locked them.
They were on the balcony by then, having drifted down so very gracefully, their bare feet gliding just above the smooth brick floor.
Anya was transfixed and couldn’t move for she wanted to see what they looked like. But a cloud passed over the moon then so that she could only see them in shadow.
“Anya, let us in… let us sing to you…hear our song…!”
“No please! Please!”
Suddenly the bedroom door opened and Granny appeared. She rushed to the doors. “Free the latch and you free your spirit!”
Anya watched incredulously as the doors swung open and a familiar scent of mimosa surrounded her, a sweet scent that brought back memories of her mother for her mama liked mimosa.
One of the maids was coming ever closer and when she reached Anya she smiled. And Anya could see her face, for her Granny held up a candle. “She has come for you child.”
“Come my Anya, come to me…” Her sweet voice, slightly discordant spoke the words Anya was thrilled to hear. “Let me kiss you, daughter.”
But Anya hesitated because none of them looked right. Their skins were deep gray and their eyes were yellow, but her Mama called again and wept and since Anya could not stand to see her cry she walked into her mother’s chilly embrace.
And when the icy blue lips brushed her check Anya smiled for her mother had whispered: “My child it is the only way.”
Anya snuggled closer and as she did her mother gently bit into her neck. It was only a slight sting and nothing more. But her mother did feed. And as she fed, the two other maids began to feed also.
They made quiet sounds of enjoyment while they fed, low moaning sounds in their throats. Afterward they all gave Anya their blood to drink. And it was sweet and tasted of the lake and more besides, much more—for with each swallow Anya could see another world opening up, a world of endless night and dark magic where anything was possible.
The fiddler appeared then. He glided over as gracefully as a cloud and spoke in a soft voice: “I will play the song you like Anya. It is the song of life eternal—it tells of a world where there is no death. It is my song I play for those I raise from the dead and for those who will go to them.
Anya smiled for she understood everything then as she now understood all the wisdom of all the ages.
And as Mama guided Anya into the sky she said: “You will live forever with Mama now, child, come.”
Granny was crying but Mama blew her a kiss and promised: “After I take my revenge on those two who murdered me I shall come back for you, my mother. It will not be long. Do not weep, for soon you shall hear the song again—and when you do, it will be for you!”
Granny waved as she watched them drift away—gladdened in her heart for the child’s passage was easy.
“I will wait!” she called. And although she wept, she wept tears of joy for soon she would not be alone but would be with her loved ones forever and ever.

© Copyright 2010 Carole Gill. All rights reserved.
Carole Gill has granted Knight Chills non-exclusive rights to display this work.