Among the Stars

I’m shoulder to shoulder with murderers and pedophiles knee-deep in pig guts. I stuff another heaping handful of intestines into the sack tied to my waist wondering when they’ll open the doors so I can finally take a shit or if I’ll have to do that business right here and now. I notice Charlie collapse into the stinking pool of gore, exhaustion-induced unconsciousness. I wade over to his side as fast as I can before any Fabricants spot him. Pulling him out of the pool took nearly all my strength and I could feel my muscles tear and pain firing from every neuron. “Come on, buddy. On your feet.” I felt a stream of shit fall down my leg. Relief.

Charlie’s head surfaced, eyes still closed. I smacked him twice before he flinched and stared at me with wild eyes. “Put the puppies in the fire!” Charlie said.

He struggled to his feet while grabbing for my neck. I was too tired to defend myself and allowed his hands to close around my neck and shove me down. I was on my knees while Charlie strangled me and I could feel his nails digging deeper into my throat and wondered how bad the wounds would get infected.

“Charles, my lovely boy! Put those puppies in the goddamn fire before I tan your hide!” he said.

“Charlie,” I whispered.

Just as I feel myself slipping, his hands leave my neck and I fall face first into the pig guts. I look up, gag, see the back of someones jumpsuit and another man, presumably Charlie, thrashing wildly before him.

Don’t kill the poor bastard, I thought. Charlie had it worse than all of us in terms of sentencing. At least we got 3 meals and a bedroll while he was on the receiving end of countless torture devices and biological experiments conducted by Fabricants. It’s funny, though. They could be torturing any of us, and in a sense they do, but not the way they do Charlie. Whatever he did must’ve been real bad. Bad enough that they drill holes in his head every night and his screams fill the prison and they echo through your dreams and you wake up with this lingering sadness, this sense of disaster that you can’t quite understand until you see that look in Charlies eyes. That blank stare and crooked smile. The shaved off eyebrows, dimpled chin, hollow cheeks, long, thin black hair. I watch him at breakfast shovel gruel into his mouth with trembling lips but a steady hand. His actions are cold and calculated, an automation. I remember the look on his face when we were in processing and he asked me what I was in for.

“Child prostitution, first-degree murder, necrophilia, cannibalism, trespassing. You?”

He couldn’t even answer, he just stopped breathing and looked at me. I asked him if there was a problem and he just kept staring. I grabbed him by the shirt and shoved him up against the wall and told him I’d take pleasure in fucking him after I kill him that night. It wasn’t until later at dinner that he sat with me and apologized and asked if there was anything he could do to avoid becoming a dead man and naturally I made him my wife up until the Fabricants took him away. I guess I loved him, because when they took him I cried and I screamed and tried to kill myself by jumping off the second floor but got two broken legs and 5 months in solitary for that. When I was put back into general population I asked around for Charlie and was told to wait until nighttime and I’d hear him. I’ve listened to his screams for the past 6 years. When he was finally put back on work duty in the slaughterhouse I tried talking to him but he was already gone, mentally on another planet. It didn’t matter, I still tried talking to him everyday, and everyday he would have psychotic breaks and tried killing me more times than I can count. He successfully killed 14 other inmates but received no punishment because the Fabricants look at is as a natural way of cleaning up the prison population. And if I ever heard even the slightest plan of someone offing Charlie, I killed them. He needs me.

I told him this one day and for the briefest moment, I felt like he was back again. He looked at me strangely and said, “I ran a bookstore. That’s all I ever did”

I know I could get up and save Charlie, pull this mother fucker off him and save him from being murdered. But something kept me still, something convinced me it was his time to go and I watched him stop struggling and the man in the jumpsuit stand up and walk away like nothing ever happened. Charlie was gone,

I’ll miss him.

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Amelia, Young Amelia

                                                                                                                                     amelia

You could dance like the seasons

and sing like the angels

A head full of imagination with princesses and princes

wizards and witches, giants and goblins

I was late to your recital that night

but it didn’t matter, you wouldn’t be there

My Amelia

Didn’t you learn never to talk to strangers?

What did the devil say before he took you?

Did he promise a wish?

You could’ve never known

I made a thousand wishes you had

Because maybe then you’d still be here today

and I wouldn’t have found you buried beneath the snow

I remember cradling you in my arms for the first time

I’ll never forget the last

Your face a sheet of white with a tint of blue

The tears stuck to your face

I still held you close and played with your hair

Winter had betrayed you

But I can still hear you in my dreams

the voice of an angel

I still hear you baby girl, I still do

Phantasmagoria

Author’s Note:

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

 Introduction

 

You’re about to read a short story describing one girls trek from one state to the next in an attempt to chase her dreams and fully harness her creativity.

She grew up in the Pacific Northwest. More specifically, Washington State. Rainy, dreary, unpredictable Washington. After graduation, her life was beginning to plateau. For some reason, she just couldn’t break past these imaginary barriers that were set before her. What was she to do? In a panic, she gathered a few friends together and suggested they move. To where? They asked.

Portland.

It would be perfect.

However, preliminary plans were made and broken. It wouldn’t be until much later that they would pack their bags and spend a weekend down and stay with another friend who lived there.

And so they went.

Upon their return, realities were checked. They were checked so hard that their hearts were crushed; its smooth fragments melting into the cracks of their now fractured souls.

Coming home didn’t feel like coming home. It felt like returning to a house of horrors with an ominous darkness that seemed to have a face glaring back at her. She didn’t want to be here, but she had nowhere else to go. Portland was ready for her, but she wasn’t ready for Portland.

Some time later, after spending a great deal of time in this treacherous place, she adapted to her surroundings, becoming one with all that she once despised. How could this have possibly happened? Well, she wasn’t aware it was happening. She thought it was maturity easing her hate. But it wasn’t. It was her flaws and vulnerabilities in disguise holding her back.

However, there is no such evil that cannot be overcome by love. And love is often accompanied by passion. And that passion holds her purpose. And her purpose was bigger than she, thus prevailing over her reluctant mind.

And so our story begins.

M. Williams, Winter 2013

Departure

I boarded the 8am train to Portland and began searching for my seat. 12D. I spotted 9A and 10B on my right and to my left was 12D; a window seat. I packed my suitcase into the space above and settled the backpack in my lap.

I glanced out the frosted window through streaks of water left behind by the fresh rain, watching trees sway in the wind like a pendulum moving in slow motion.

I barely got any sleep lastnight and my head was throbbing, eyes aching. I closed them and used my thumb and index finger to gently massage them. It slightly dulled the pain causing temporary relief. I began thinking of the night before and how much I cried. I was such a whiny bitch. I couldn’t help it though. It’s so sad leaving my sister behind. She needs me. She’s still so young and naïve; she needs her older sister to help her through life. And she’s right in the middle of breaking up with her boyfriend which doesn’t make things any easier. I let out a soft sigh. I’d never seen her as happy as she was with him and now all that has temporarily gone to shit. I’m just glad her and I grew really close this past year. Something I had only dreamt of happening.

Mom dad both think it was incredibly stupid of me to move out. But they’re not me. And though what they say and do is with honest intentions, I’m a grown-ass woman who can make her own choices.

The train finally started to move. Slowly it crept forward, gaining more and more speed. I felt the steady vibrations from the wheels gliding across the tracks coarse through my body. It reminded me of being soaked in a nice, steamy hot tub.

I watched as the city grew smaller and smaller until my neck got tired and I stopped looking back. I smiled at the fact that I was finally saying goodbye to that place. My departure was way past due.

The land out here was hideous. Ridden with abandoned warehouses, dismantled fences, a few totaled cars, and no grass, just dirt with patches of water spread throughout. How did this place get so ugly? Surely, there was once a time when it was a bit easier on the eyes and didn’t appear to be the aftermath of a nuclear strike.

I felt a large lump in my throat. I’ve lived in this area all my life and I’ve ridden down these very same tracks when I’d go down to see Sydney and yet, this entire area was unfamiliar to me. It was completely new. The thought was disturbing.

I looked at one of the abandoned warehouses in the distance. The roof was caved in on one end. All the windows were busted out. And that’s when I spotted him. A man was standing behind one of the windows completely motionless. I just stared at him. Even at this distance, I could feel his eyes on me. He was watching me.

It must be a homeless man, I thought. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out homeless people sought refuge here. This is paradise compared to sleeping in gutters and being spit on by assholes walking by.

I looked back but the man was gone. A sudden icy wave went through my body down to my toes causing the hairs on my arm and neck to stand up, and my back grew stiff. I then felt compelled to scan the train car I was in.

Nobody was sitting next to me. An older man behind me was sitting alone. A young couple across the aisle. A little boy and girl sitting near a blonde woman who I assumed was their mother.

And that was it. Well, that was everyone I could see.

I sat back in my seat and tried to slow my breathing which became an exercise in futility. I didn’t like this feeling at all. Slowly, I was filling up with dread and I felt nauseous. Then my body started to shake and tremble before I was nearly thrown from my seat.

The train… the train was going off the tracks.

I couldn’t make sense of what was going on around me; it was all happening so fast. Bags flew across the aisle every which way. The little girl was thrown to the back of the car and I heard her smack into the glass sliding door. The sound was awful. It was like a sopping wet towel slapping the floor. I held onto the small headrest of the seat in front of me in a deathgrip and squeezed my eyes shut. I was going to die right here on this train. Oh fuck. Oh fuck.

I screamed.

The train shook violently more and more. I could hear cries and shrieks so loud I swore my eardrums were going to burst. I also heard loud pounding from behind me and when I looked back I saw the old man slamming his fists against the glass sliding door. Pointless, I thought.

And suddenly, it all stopped.

I stole a quick glance out the window and couldn’t believe what I saw. We were airborne. The train was fucking airborne. As we made our descent, I shut my eyes and screamed one last time.

 

Arrival

My head felt like it was going to explode. I couldn’t move. I slowly opened my eyes and felt the cool, light rain pepper my body as I stared up at the grey sky. I could hear someone groaning nearby, but I was too afraid to move. My bones felt frozen and my back glued to the mud.

“Help!” someone yelled. “Help me please!”

It was a man’s voice; raspy and baritone. In my head I told the man I could help. I told him everything was going to be ok and help was on its way. But still I lay in the mud helpless as ever. I started to hear what sounded like someone running towards me, their feet slapping the mud quickly and growing louder each second. Please help us, I thought to myself.

“Oh thank god,” the man said. “I’m so glad–wait, what the… What the fuck?! Get away from me!”

I heard a grunt and the man scream. A scream silenced soon after what sounded like popping and cracking. Now he was crying.

“Oh god please. Please help me. No, no!”

And then I could hear what sounded like slurping and crunching, the man crying and screaming. More crunches and chewing. Oh. My. God. Was he being..eaten? No. No fucking way.

His cries suddenly grew silent.

I felt tears stream down my face, but didn’t feel sad. I was scared to death. It began raining a little harder and it got a little colder so I closed my eyes. I couldn’t help but briefly wonder if the life I lived was enough. What was I leaving behind?

A few funny stories and pieces of art, some friends that thought they knew me but really didn’t, and maybe a few broken hearts and failed romances but nothing that lasted. I already felt dead. So maybe dying would be a little better.

I felt something hot against my neck. I opened my eyes and looked to my left and found myself staring into the dark blue eyes of some hideous creature. Its foul breath came at me in hot waves and made me gag. I turned away from it only to see another one of them standing over me, shaking and smiling.

It looked nearly human. It had a torso, arms, hair, and it stood on two bony legs. Its nose protruded from its face like an upside down coat hanger. But its eyes weren’t human, I knew that. They were large and round just like 50 cent pieces. And its mouth hung open revealing a set of sharp yellow canine teeth. The thing just looked down at me, shaking violently as it let out a low groan.

I then felt something on my back. One of them was lifting me off the ground with its bony arms. It was strong, too. Two more creatures appeared in front of me and I felt long, cold fingers drag down my back, cold fingers sliding underneath my shirt and tearing at my pants. I closed my eyes, weeping uncontrollably; screaming until I tasted blood. One of them grabbed my head in its hands and looked into my eyes, closely examining me before a long, thick, purple tongue rolled out of its mouth. I felt it slide across my face, down my neck and in my ear. I yelled at them to stop when the tongue slithered into my mouth. I tried to cry once I could feel hair and skin being pulled from my scalp.

As fingers clawed at my flesh, and teeth nibbled at my fingers and toes, tongues caressing every bit of my now exposed body, making their way into every orifice, I wondered why this had to happen to me.

What did I do to deserve this? What, in my entire lifetime, could I have possibly done to warrant such pain and torment? And that’s when I was absolutely certain there was no god. And if there is one, he’s twisted as fuck.

As I felt the last of the fingers on my right hand get chewed away, I threw up all over myself. This excited the creatures and they started panting and licking it off my body which made me vomit again, this time all over one of the creatures. It laughed hysterically and smeared it all over himself while another creature started to lick it off.

I became dead weight as pieces of my flesh were ripped and clawed and chewed off. My world went dark as flashes of red and blue and yellow danced in the darkness with me.

I felt enraptured.

The ice cold rain, the searing pain of my swollen, torn muscle tissue, the stimulation I received from my exposed nerve endings. I felt my back hit the mud once again. Did they drop me? Was I just a torso now? I kept bleeding and bleeding and the pool of blood crept over me and I felt the ground melt and become softer and softer as I began making my descent into the earth. I tried to open my eyes one last time, but I couldn’t. All I could see were the flashing lights dancing with me in the darkness.