Eye Sees You

Deep through the gnarled trees sits a shack with a broken door and half a roof that only a select few know even exists, and they never get a chance to talk about their experience. Every Halloween, a path appears to young trick-or-treaters, who follow the carved pumpkins lining the walkway up to the small porch decorated with homemade ghosts. The rundown shack is transformed into a cozy, brightly lit cottage. A smiling woman promptly greets them and invites them in. No one has ever solved the mysterious disappearances, although from years past there used to be a story behind them.

The story begins with an ailing woman believed to be practicing the black arts. A large cauldron hangs on a hook in the fireplace that dominates her small house. Whispers about her started when she would bring strangers into her home, but no one sees them leaving, or being out and about. But then again, no one has really befriended her to know the intimate details of her life.

Though what happens inside her private shelter is unknown, many have heard groans of agony that go on and on. Because the village comprises of people barely getting by on their own, they lack the energy to investigate the disturbing sounds. If they can see their kinsfolk, then all is well in their own world. The witch at the other side of town can do what she wants as long as she stays away from their business. In their thinking, better them (the strangers) than us.

One night, 10-year-old Caleb decides to sneak out to explore the cause of the whisperings about town and the whining that can’t be explained as the wind. Any warnings made to him by his parents and friends are not enough to keep him away from learning more about the woman they describe as a conjurer.

Creeping up to a murky looking window on the side of the so-called witch’s cottage, Caleb rubs the sleeve of his jacket on a lower corner of the window. His eyes widen when he sees the woman bent over someone down on the floor. From his vantage, he  only sees  a pair of legs encased in torn pants. An unholy wail penetrates through the thin walls. The woman seems to overpower the struggling person, whose helpless kicking eventually ceases, along with the lament. Suddenly, his surrounding is too quiet. Caleb feels the hair behind his neck prickle, as if someone is watching him. He turns around. Seeing nothing, he returns his gaze to the window. He yelps in surprise when his peering eye directly meets a dilated pupil. Fear overcomes him, as he tries to shake himself loose.

“I see you, boy.” The cackling is too close to his ear. Unable to move, he feels hands grab him.

“I seize you . . .” More cackling follows as he is carried inside the house.

“Help!” Caleb finds his voice, as the woman shuts the door and places him on a cot.

“So you want to know what goes on here, do you?” The woman’s face is a blur as Caleb’s eyes tear up from realizing his folly. Rotting smell around him makes his eyes water even more. He still cannot comprehend how he was detected.

“Eye saw you,” she says, as if reading his mind. “But Eye is getting old, so you came at the right time.” She laughs some more, as the boy’s last thoughts wonder what she means.

The next morning, Caleb’s house turns chaotic when his family notices his absence. Their efforts prove fruitless even when their friends and neighbors help search the neighborhood. The only place left to look is in the vicinity of “that woman’s house.” Feeling assured that their large number will protect them, they march to the witch’s little dwelling. As they approach the humble looking house, they hear someone chanting inside. Those facing the door start pounding on it, but the chanting continues, while the angry crowd is ignored.

The lack of response from inside makes someone in the group speak up, “Let’s just tear it down.” The crowd pounds harder until the door finally cracks open. When they barge in, Caleb’s mother weaves herself in and gasps, “Those are Caleb’s night clothes!” A child-sized shirt and matching pants are strewn on the floor, but the only person in sight is the homeowner, who continues to chant and smile at the crowd without any concerns.

“What have you done to my son?” Caleb’s mother shouts at the woman, but is hesitant to touch her as the woman doesn’t look right in the head.

Between Caleb’s clothes as evidence of his possibly being been there and the woman’s lack of communication, the frustrated crowd decides to be the judge and jury. They pull the woman outside and threaten to hang her if she doesn’t reveal Caleb’s whereabouts.

The woman only laughs and says cryptically, “He has a good eye. He makes a good watch.”  She continues to laugh as they place a noose around her and give her a final warning to talk or die. Her laugh turns to a gurgle as the rope tightens and someone kicks the chair from under her feet.

A stillness settles on the crowd as they realize what they’ve done. Amid the crying of Caleb’s family and friends, the crowd disperses to go back to their homes. Since that day, no one has ever spoken of the event and nobody has dared return to the woman’s place.

As years have passed, an eyeball wedged on a tree across from the old shack continues to behold the transformation that happens every Halloween. A single tear drop falls for every trick-or-treater trapped inside the hovel.

Face Time

Meghan sighs as she sees the night slipping away too soon. Almost ten in the evening and she still has no date. She swipes the photo to the left, but soon changes her mind and swipes it to the right. She reads the brief profile of the guy she decides to pursue: “Enjoys anything that rocks — rock candy, rock climbing, and hard rock. Rock me hard!” She snickers at the last sentence.

“Oh yeah, baby,” she thinks to herself.

She texts him: “What flavor rock candy you like?”

Seconds later a response comes back: “Cherry”

She texts back: “I’ve got on cherry lip gloss.”

“Yum,” flashes on Meghan’s iPhone screen.

“I wish I was somewhere listening to hard rock now,” she types in, hoping to get something going soon.

“You’re playing my tune. Want to hang out?”

Meghan likes that and keys in, “Sure . . . when?”

“Let’s face time,” he messages back and adds his number for her to call.

“Cool,” Meghan thinks as she punches in his number.

A toothy grin dominates Meghan’s phone screen. She catches her breath as her eyes rake over the green cast of the face with bulging eyeballs and stained teeth that seems to take on  a countenance that doesn’t look human at all. As soon as her brain registers the freaky visage, a scream escapes through her lips, now quivering from repulsion. Laughter from the screen erupts just as instantaneously.

She throws the phone across the room, screaming and hearing the laughter. She realizes she’s just been goblined*.

*Goblined – when a person gets startled, surprised, or freaked out by a goblin; usually occurs when a person least expects it. These are Halloween times . . . the countdown begins . . .

Lost in Sleep

lost
You have restless legs, Felix recalls his doctor saying, as he finds himself walking around in his underwear in the middle of a busy street.

I have to be dreaming, Felix thinks because people seem to ignore him. He sees a woman approach him with a rictus that is supposed to pass off as a smile, but not quite successfully.

“Are you lost, dear? My husband used to fade out and wander off too. God rest his soul.” She takes his arm and guides him down the street. “Let me take you to my place; it’s just a short walk down to get you reoriented.”

Definitely a dream, Felix decides, as he plays along and allows the woman to help him. When he sees an uneven, worn looking building with missing bricks on its façade and a couple of windows with fine cracks like spider webs, he’s confident it’s all a dream. How can a lady who carries a Gucci purse and wears fine leather shoes live here?

But the woman acts like she’s right at home when she opens the door and leads him inside. The bright interior and clean spartan lines of the furniture cements his belief it’s all a dream. She leaves him thinking and reappears with a glistening cold glass of milk. “Here, you look thirsty to me.”

Felix drinks it quickly, not really tasting anything. He suddenly feels drowsy and again assures himself it’s only a dream, as he finds himself on a bed. His lids are weighing down.

He wakes, not knowing how much time has passed, and sees he’s now chained in bed, underwear removed. The same woman hovers nearby with the same thin smile. “You’re still dreaming, dear.”

Blind Date

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“The heart of my art is the reality I infuse into my pieces. But enough about my passion . . . speaking of which . . . let me make a toast.” Ben raises his wine glass and continues, “Here’s to two souls brought together by Cousin Gail.” He smiles across to his date, Molly.

Molly clinks her glass against his and says, “Three months ago when I moved to this city, I knew nothing about its night life. Now, I know what a great menu Andre’s has, so I’ll definitely be coming back here. Thanks for the awesome dinner.  I’m so glad I listened to Gail because I’m having a really nice time with you, Ben. ”

“You’re too kind. I hope I didn’t bore you too much about all that talk about my artwork.”

“I appreciate anyone who has that much passion about anything. I’m in Finance where even the people I work with are as dry as the numbers I look at all day. I have bills to pay and I’m still in search of a passion. I admire anyone who finds something that makes a difference in their life. The only difference my job is making is subtracting my college debt.  Plain and simple.”  She pauses and drinks some more. “Excuse me for a minute. “ Molly gets up to go to the restroom.

As she fixes her hair in front of the mirror, she suddenly feels embarrassed for spouting off like someone who has nothing going on in her life. It’s the alcohol talking, and I don’t care, she thinks. She realizes she’s been feeling lonely and friendless since moving from her hometown.  She goes back out to join Ben.

“Let’s drink to Gail,” Ben proposes when Molly sits back down.

After they finish their drinks, she says, “Just so you know, I don’t usually go out on blind dates. I only said yes because Gail is my best friend.  And by the way, I’m glad I did. It’s just so funny how between texting and emailing, Gail was able to arrange us to meet. I miss her, I wish she lived here too.”

Ben leans forward. “As long as you maintain contact, you’ll always be friends.  Gail told you how close her mom and my mom were, right? Neither had siblings, so they adopted each other as sisters and pretty much dubbed me and Gail as cousins. When Dad got transferred to Asia right after we finished eighth grade, my Mom drilled into me the importance of keeping in touch with friends and relatives. So every year, I send Christmas wishes to friends and family.  I’m glad I did too because when I came back to the States, they were there to support me. I move around quite a bit. It’s always about where the job is.”

“Got that right. You go where the money is.” Molly sighs.

“Hey listen, I hope you don’t think I’m being too forward, but I’d really like you to come to my place and check out my sculptures.” Ben flags down their server.  Molly thinks why not. He’s Gail’s cousin after all even if not by blood. She also feels a connection with him, so she accepts his invitation.

Ben drives outside the city. He explains, “I have a studio unit in a sketchy neighborhood, but it’s affordable and close to work. I bought this little house out in the country to get away from all that noise, as well as work on my art in peace. I get my inspiration from the city though.”

They enter the house and Ben flicks on the switch. Molly sees an old woman carrying a paper bag in one corner of the living room. From another corner is a young man with a stethoscope around his neck and a clipboard resting on one arm. “Wow, I’ve never seen so many lifelike sculptures. You’re so talented.” She walks over to where a little girl is tying a shoe. Molly bends down to inspect her.

“Please don’t touch.” Ben is by her side. “I’m still debating with myself whether I’ll ever be ready to show off my creations.”

Molly stands up and feels her head spin. “Whoa, I drank more than I usually do. I might not be good company after all. Maybe I should go home . . .”

“No worries,” Ben takes her arm and leads her back to one of the bedrooms. “Come on over here and rest.” He turns on the light and she sees an S-shaped loveseat with a male figure sitting on one end with his head swiveled toward the other seat, where Ben is guiding her. “Let’s park you here.” He gently folds her lap because she’s starting to feel stiff and unable to move. Instantly, she realizes her folly.  Her tongue seems stuck in her mouth. With the diminishing sensations she’s feeling, the last recognizable touch is Ben turning her head toward the still figure before her.  A handsome man stares at her with eyes that look frightened.

Ben kisses her forehead.  “I’ll be right back.”

True to his word, he returns and she sees him using an eyedropper to put a few drops of liquid on the eyes of the young man staring at her. “Oops, where are my manners? Molly, meet Jack.  You might say he’s your real blind date.” He chuckles. “Sorry about the pun. After his eyes whiten, I’m going to paint them green to match his shirt.” He turns toward her and proceeds to put drops in her eyes, too. “And you, my beautiful Molly, so perfect for my piece. I will paint yours blue to bring out the aquamarine in your dress.  Utter synchronicity. I’m calling this piece ‘My Valentine.’ Happy Valentine’s Day!”

Monster Masquerade: A Head on a Stick

Head
Fat from feasting on corpuscles and pus, the maggots exit from various orifices of the decaying head. A group crawls out from the ear canal, gummy from their travel through the waxy tunnel. They worm themselves through the tangled strands atop of what formerly held the gray mass that spills out of a gash. Drying blood completes the colorful little world of the legless larvae. Continue reading

Eaten Alive

allley

They say the alley buzzes with flesh-eating flies. What nonsense, Hugo thinks, as he jogs by the narrow passage that stinks like someone used it as a public privy. He looks around to see if there are homeless people or a passed out drunk lurking about, but the area seems deserted. Although the sky was clear when he started out his early morning jog, a cloud appears to hover above. He shrugs and sprints. A few blocks down, his curiosity gets the better of him, so he retraces his steps. Still jogging in place, he peers through the alley and sees nothing unusual. Just an alley, for heavens’ sake. What the hell . . . Continue reading