#friday flash It’s Raining Again…

It’s raining again.

Cold and dreary gray clouds hang overhead, but not so far away–I think I can touch them if I tried. The rain chills the skin, sinks to the bone and dampens any hope of survival, a hope I’ve given up since…

No one saw it coming.

The massive rains flooded the world–not parts of it. All of it. Billions of people were washed away as the waters rose and levees and dams broke.

I’m fortunate, I guess, or maybe not so much when you consider the way things have turned out. When the rains began I pulled up the boat–a standard johnboat–and prepped it like I was heading out to fish. It’s a precaution I always took, though I never thought I would need to hop in and float away. As the waters rose higher, I pulled the boat onto my porch, loaded it with food, a cooler, life jacket, an inflatable raft, first aid kit and a few other items.

When morning came the next day the water had already seeped into the house and was rising at a steady clip. I grabbed my dog, Rufus, and untied the tether. The current swept us away, spinning our boat round and round. There was no use trying to steer against the rushing waters.

The rain finally stopped, but by then the world had been completely flooded. It was like Atlantis and I’ve often wondered if this is what happened to that city. Every once in awhile some of the larger skyscrapers can be seen jutting out the water like an obscene finger, a regular fuck you to the world.

The dead… they floated, bodies bloated, hair around their heads like halos. The stench grew worse as the days passed, but eventually blended in with the rest of the damned world, like one big rotting planet. I guess that’s what it really was– what it is.

I’ve also wondered if this is what Noah felt like when he was on the ark, if he saw the dead floating like logs. I wonder if he wanted to help the people too stupid not to have listened to him when he said it was going to rain.

I wonder if we didn’t listen to him again…

Most of the bodies have sunken beneath the surface leaving only dirty water and debris of the way things used to be. Plastic toys and bottles float along, some trees, too. I plucked a stuffed lion from the water. I was amazed to see it floating, but horrified when I tried to pull it out of the water. A small hand still clutched tight to it.

I screamed, fell back. The lion tore free from the hand and landed in the center of the boat. Rufus sniffed at it and then chomped down on it, probably hoping it was real meat or a bone, anything to get rid of those hunger pangs I’m sure he felt. His eyes were miserable brownies staring at me, begging for something to eat. He spat the stuffed toy out and went back to the front of the boat where he plopped his head down.

And we floated.

Days turned to nights and back to days, each one blending with the other. Our food ran out well before we found the stuffed lion. Part of me wishes I would have grabbed that bloated blue hand. The other part, that section of my brain that still holds onto sanity, somehow is still very thankful I didn’t. I think that part doesn’t know I’m dying.

It’s raining again.

My stomach no longer growls at me. It hurts and I can see my ribs. The clouds are now an angry black. Though I can’t see the lightning, I do see the bottoms of the clouds flicker like a bulb about to die. And that thunder off in the distance sounds like the gods are laughing at me.

Puny human. Puny survivor.

Rufus lays at the front of the boat, his eyes closed, tongue hanging out. I don’t know when he died, but I know he did, just like the rest of this damn world.

I stare at my old friend. His thick chest makes my stomach hurt more and wets my tongue. I scoot forward, weak, but determined. I reach for him. Lord knows I thought about it before… His fur is wet and matted down and my stomach grumbles for the first time in days. It’s still alive in there, still wanting to be fed, still clinging to life.

I lick my dried, crack lips and tears spill down my cheeks as I lift Rufus to my face.

“I’m sorry old buddy,” I say.

The sound of his body hitting the water makes me cry. He sinks quickly, leaving behind bubbles popping on the surface.

I lay down in the bottom of the boat. My head is dizzy and the rain pours down on me… And somewhere behind the clouds, the gods laugh louder…

#fridayflash One

(As usual, not for the kiddies and for those who may get offended easily)

Flames kiss the exterior walls, cracking and shattering glass, working its way up the sides of the house. I sit in the middle of my room, Mom and Dad and Leroy all dead. Mikhala sits near me, naked, bound at the wrists and feet, gagged with one of her very large panties. Her eyes plead with me, beg me to free her.

I shake my head. “He’s coming.”

A muffled groan escapes her throat; tears spill from her green eyes. She wasn’t so merciful earlier when we slit my parents’ throats and stabbed Leroy so many times the blade broke off in his chest. She didn’t listen to him as he begged us to stop, to stop, to oh please stop. No, she didn’t care one bit when we rolled my older brother from his bed and then did the nasty on his blood drenched mattress. She may be a larger gal, but she’s got a wild streak in her and satiating that bitch was damn near impossible.

She fell asleep. I didn’t.

“Not much longer,” I say, though I’m not sure she can hear me over the roar of the flames engulfing the house. I set the fire on the outside to give me enough time to drag Mikhala into my room where we could both wait for… who? I can’t remember, but I know he’s coming. He’ll be here soon and he’ll take Mikhala as a sacrifice and…

Smoke filters beneath the bedroom door. Sweat breaks out along my body as heat fills the room. Mikhala cries. This angers me and I kick her in the side. My boot connects with one flabby breasts and she lets out a yelp of pain and gives me an angered look.

“Quit your whining, Mikhala. This was your idea.”

And it was. She wanted to summon the demon, the creature who could make our lives that much better, make us eternal… she, with her ‘I’m a Satanist’ attitude, dark clothes and pasty white skin. She, who laughed in the face of religion.

She’s not laughing now.

The doorknob glows red and the snap and pop of burning wood echo through the house. The door gives, the flames peel away paint, burn through the flimsy thin wood. A rush of reds, yellows and oranges fill my vision and heat sears my skin, singes the hairs on my head. I want to duck away, but don’t. Only cowards duck away…

The air flees the room and a black mass appears in the crumbling doorway.

“He’s here,” I whisper.

Mikhala’s eyes grow large and she struggles to move. Screams tear from her as gray smoke fills the room, takes on the shape of a beast, horns on its head, wings on its back, talons jutting from its ankles. It reaches a dark hand toward Mikhala, its fingers impossibly long, its arm stretching further than it should.

“Yes,” I say. The smell of urine mingles with smoke and burning wood as I wet myself.

The beast looks up; its void-like eyes stare through me. A shiver runs along my spine and it smiles, showing horrible flaming teeth dancing in its black mouth. Its hand reaches for me, fingers stretching, seeking… me.

“No,” I say and try to back away. “You want her. She’s the one who called you. She’s the sacrifice.”

My legs grow numb and I fall backward. Its fingers latch onto my ankle, burning skin, cooking flesh. I slide across the floor. I grab for Mikhala, feel her doughy flesh and my stomach turns. Reflexively, I let go of her. Flames lick at my legs as it pulls me through the door.

I hear Mikhala, catch a glimpse of her as her bonds loosen, freeing her limbs. She laughs… that bitch laughs and points a meaty hand at me. She smears ash on her naked body and her smile broadens. From behind her another mass appears, this one so much larger than the one that grips my ankles. It reaches around her and grabs one of her sagging breasts. It smiles, a gaping maw of eternal damnation.

Darkness surrounds me as the flames begin to swallow me… I hear her laughter and I am one with the fire; one with the demon…

#friday flash As They Were

The elevator bell rings and we step inside, the door sliding closed behind us. The four of us punch our floors, six, seven, eleven and nineteen. I’m going the highest.

The elderly lady directly to my left stares straight ahead, her eyes on the mirrored door. She clutches a purple handbag that doesn’t match her light blue dress and black shoes. Her eyes are a dim gray and her face holds the wrinkles of a life near spent. Yet she goes into work each day as if she were in her early thirties. It’s in her face, her eyes…

The man in the left corner, closest to the door wears a pressed blue pin striped suit, matching shoes and matching tie. His hair is near perfect, He brushes an invisible strand out of his face. Fake baked tan skin rounds off his false good looks. He stares down at a handheld device—I’m guessing a blackberry—punching on keys with a little pen. Self assured Important. Everyone else evolves around him.

A pretty blond stands to my right, her hair full of waves, her eyes shimmering, lips a perfect red. The dress she wears hugs her figure and I can’t imagine her wearing clothing like the elderly lady to my left. Too much pride in that body, in those features. She pushes her chest out a little, probably to get the suit’s attention. I want to smile but refrain. Blondie is a woman who knows how to use her assets to get what she wants.

As the elevator lurches upward I glance at each of them, notice their flaws, their ages, their lifelines stretched across their faces.

One by one, they file off on their respective floors and I see…

The Suit is first and he departs on the sixth floor, his briefcase traded for a baseball glove, his suit for a pair of dirty jeans and a t-shirt, his hair poking in all directions; gum smacking. The hopes of any little boy who ever played a sport still carried in his heart. I notice his old sneakers—Converse scrolled across the back. He has written the number 3 on the sides, possibly the jersey number of his favorite player. There is a field waiting for him and other boys with gloves and bats in hand. As the doors slide shut he is greeted by old friends and family.

On the seventh floor the door opens and the elderly lady shuffles toward it. As she crosses through the threshold I see the drab blue dress is gone, replaced by a frilly white one—her Sunday best. She holds a basket in her hand instead of a purse. There are eggs in the basket. She skips off and looks under a bush.

“I found one! I found one!” Her joyous proclamation fills my heart and I smile. Two adults kneel beside her, a man and a woman. They hug and congratulate her. The man kisses her on the head.

The door hisses shut and we ascend.

On the eleventh floor Blondie gets off and her head is full of precious ringlets that bounce with each step. She wears socks with frilly laces and slip on shoes; her dress is yellow and there is a bandage on one knee. The room before her holds a dollhouse. She picks up one of the dolls and hugs it tight. She sits on the floor and cradles the doll like a baby. I hear the toy coo and realize the baby is real and not a plastic store bought item. Blondie tickles beneath the child’s chin and giggles happily.

I am left alone as the elevator continues upward. It reaches the nineteenth floor and the doors open. I look out into white puffs of cloud that await me. I step off and see other elevators, others like me. Some of them wipe tears from their eyes. Others smile from the joy of delivering the children to their destinations, to their happiest times; times before life took over and changed them into the adults they became. Before decisions and indecisions, wrong and right moves, love and heartbreak ruled their lives and skewed their views. Before the downward spiral of life–real life.

The door remains open and I look back to it. I wonder if I will ever know that forever peace, forever joy of my greatest times as a child, when Mommy baked apple pies and Daddy held my hand as we walked the trails in the woods; when the best present was time spent with my parents.

I sigh and move back onto the elevator. There are more children who need to be taken home. I can already feel their presence and tastes their sorrows. The doors close and the elevator descends.

Then, it stops on the ninth floor. The doors open and I stare into a familiar room. I hear my name and I exit the elevator. I don’t look back as the doors close and the elevator moves on. The fresh smell of apple pie drifts in the air. I hear my name and I turn to see Daddy standing there, his strong hands held out to me.

“Come on, son, let’s go for a walk.”

My heart leaps and I grab Daddy’s work-rough hands and I know my journey has finally found an end. As we walk toward the woods not far from home I smile. Never again will I go to the highest floor, the only one left on the elevator at the ride’s end. As my heart leaps I say a silent thank you and then turn my attention to a world long gone and a heaven far better than I ever imagined.

#friday flash Beneath the Blankets

They’ll go away if they don’t know we’re here.

They played it as children, hiding under the covers as Mom or Dad sought them out, calling for their Precious, their Sweetness, their Little Ones, their voices haggard and ancient sounding, though the parents were young. They giggled and shivered as the heavy footsteps of Dad or the soft swishing sound of Mom’s slippers entered the room.

Shhh… one of them would give the quiet down sound with a finger to his or her lips and the others would do their best to hush the giggles and whispers. They would wait. Anticipation was the greatest monster, not knowing when Dad or Mom would spring their tickling fingers on their small bodies.

Then… silence. They tensed, shoulders knotting, legs folded up to their chests, hands on their chins or over their mouths. From outside the blankets Mom or Dad would scurry away, mumbling about finding someone to eat, their steps intentionally heavy to give them the false security that the parent had left the room.

“They’re gone,” one would whisper.

“No, they’re not,” another countered.

“Let’s look.”

“No. They’ll get you.”

One, the youngest of the bunch usually, stretched their legs out and tugged on the edges of the cover at their heads. It pulled down just enough so the eyes could peer from beneath the childish force field.

Nothing. No one. Not Mom. Not Dad.

“They’re gone.”

“No, they’re not.”

“Yes they are.”

They grew loud, until all of them had their heads from beneath the cover.

“See, I told yah.” It always came out ‘tolcha.’

The growl from Dad or the almost scream from Mom would send them into hysterics as the parent jumped from their hiding spot at the end of the bed and onto them, fingers poking flesh, searched for the soft spots beneath armpits and on bellies… There was laughter and squeals of delight before they would run off… run off to hide somewhere else before returning to beneath the covers. But one was always caught… always caught…

It had been years since they played.

Back home beckoned and they went, three of them: The two girls youngest and oldest, the boy sandwiched in the middle of births. Mom and Dad were no longer there, the linens of death draped over them and awaiting burial. And they reminisced…

“Do you remember the game?” the youngest asked.

Frowns from the other two.

“It wasn’t a game. It was never a game,” the grown boy said.

Night fell and sleep tapped on their shoulders. They went to their rooms where childhood wonders and dreams forever remained, forever reminded them of the way they were, of the ones…

“Oh Precious.”

Eyes opened, hearts sped up as sleep washed away, taking with it the dreams of the slumbering. Impossible. That wasn’t real. Just a dream.

“Where is my Sweetness? Where is my supper?”

Mouths went dry in the darkness of each room. “Daddy?” one of them whispered and stared at the door, a light from the hall shining from beneath. She stood, reached the door, stopped. The gentle swish-swish of Mom’s slippers echoed from down the hall. Her heart tripped, tripped, tripped and her mind stilled. A shaking hand gripped the knob, turned and opened the door.

The hall light was a small plug-in that sat in its center, always there when they were kids, always shining a way to the bathroom or… to one of the others’ rooms.

She hurried to the room next door, knocked, called the older sister’s name. “Can I come in?”

“Hurry.”

“Oh Little Ones.”

Her flesh prickled, the chill touched her neck and went down to her tailbone. She shoved the door opened as a shadow fell over her. She ran across the cold floor and to the bed where sister and brother lay, huddled under the covers.

“Did you hear that?”

“Yes,” in unison, they answered.

“It’s impossible, isn’t it?”

“They’re dead,” the male answered, his voice much like the boy he used to be, not the man he was.

“Where is my Precious?” the haggard tone was different, still Dad’s, but more rustic, more desperate, hungrier than ever before.

They slipped their heads beneath the blankets, adult siblings suddenly children again. This time there was no laughter. They shook, but not from anticipation of joyous tickles from Mom and Dad, but of trepidation of what lingered beyond the door; of what called to them; of a truth they always knew.

The door opened, a silent push inward that changed the air of the room. The swish-swish of Mom’s slippers was joined by the heavy thuds of Dad’s boots.

“Oh Little Ones,” they called. “Where are our Little Ones. We’re so hungry.”

They lay silent in the bed, tears in their eyes, knees pulled up, hands over mouths. A tug on the blanket at the foot of the bed caused them to suck in hot air. The youngest one pulled her feet in, fought back the urge to scream.

Mom’s slippers faded down the hall. Dad’s boots followed. The door closed.

“Are they gone?” one whispered.

“No,” the boy said, a tremble in his voice.

“Should we look?”

“No,” the other two snapped.

“But–“

“No.”

She reached for the top of the cover anyway, fingers prepared to relieve the heat of the cocoon they lay in. Just a peek. One little peek…

“My Dear Precious,” the voice came, close, so close. The boots were back. The slippers were there. From somewhere beyond the covers something released a heavy breath.

Her fingers stiffened and her heart lifted into her throat. Warmth spread from her bladder, soaked the mattress.

Again, the sound of footsteps led away and down the hall, the door closed with a soft click.

“Do you remember?” one of them asked.

“The others?”

“Yes.”

“Very much so.”

“Do you still wish to look?” the boy asked.

“No,” she said. “Never again.”