Nine Ladies Dancing
Special agent Shelly Jansen felt the mud soaking into her shoes, the murder scene was more swamp than pasture and yet the killer somehow left no tire tracks, no footprints and not even a trace of evidence.
Agent Robert Smith lifted the sheet and winced. “Same M.O. as the others?” he said.
“Yep,” Jansen said, “Something small caliber like a .22 long rifle, but some crazy number of shots.”
“25 rounds,” Smith said, “we’re dealing with a seriously disturbed individual”.
“Is this the seventh victim?” he said.
“This is number eight,” she said, “and they all fit the pattern, every one a dancer”.
As Jansen drove away from the scene, the rain made the roads slick, but she was deep in thought and didn’t even notice. As the wipers chattered over the scratched windshield of the government-issue sedan, Jensen was thinking about each crime scene, there was something they were missing, she knew it. Why so many rounds? It’s a message someone is sending, but we’re not getting it. Her thoughts were interrupted by her phone, it was an urgent message from special ops.
KIDNAPPING REPORTED. Calumet City 23:30 Zulu. Suspect spotted. Stand by for GPS coordinates.
Her pulse quickened as she slammed the throttle to the floor and hit the switches to engage lights and sirens. It was a farm only two miles from her location. The speedometer crested 100 as the she cut the siren and slowed to make the turn.
This never happens, she thought to herself. The local cops are always first on the scene, then the feds show up afterwards, yet here she was, going in alone and armed with only her sidearm.
Out of nowhere a bullet slammed into the dashboard as the side window blew out in a flurry of glass. She instinctively ducked down and spun the sedan left for cover, dropping it in a ditch as she hit the red panic button on the radio. She grabbed two magazines from the glove box and jumped from the car. Two more rounds punched through the windshield as she drew her weapon, but she was pinned down and the shots were getting closer….
The Sword of Stone
Look, I never expected my life to turn out the way it has. I was normal. I was the most normal of normal, and I was perfectly happy living my mediocre life, thank you very much. So, how in the world did I end up like this?
Let me explain. It was about three weeks ago when everything started to go downhill. It was the middle of summer and I was bored out of my mind. Most people enjoy summer vacation, but after a while, it can get a bit tedious doing nothing at all. Especially if you live in a small suburban neighborhood with nothing thing to do for miles on end. There was also the unfortunate reality that I had no one to do anything with. Parents? Out of town for work. Yes, both of them. Siblings? I don’t have the pleasure of having any. Friends? The very few I actually had were out traveling with their families and actually having fun with their life. Everyone was able to get out, except me.
I didn’t mind that they had all left for me to suffer by my lonesome. My parents worked hard to provide for me and they looked guilty as they relayed the news that they would be gone for two weeks. My mom had placed her hand on my shoulders and looked at me with eyes full of regret.
“Oh, Sam,” she started. “I’m so sorry. You’ll be in the house all by yourself!”
“Don’t worry,” I had reassured her. “I’ll be fine for a bit on my own.”
“It’s only two weeks, but I might be able to finish up early and come back sooner.”
“Mom, don’t worry. I’ll be fine. You don’t need to rush your work for me. I can take of myself.”
“I trust you not to burn the house down, Sam,” my dad quipped as my mom continued to fret about. I gave him a deadpan look to showcase how much I appreciated his lack of help in improving my mom’s frantic state. It took a bit of convincing, but in the end, I was able to convince her that I would be perfectly capable on my own with the promise to call every day or if I ever needed help.
While I was trying to send off my parents without them worrying too much about me, my friends were acting as true friends should and were laughing at my predicament. They wouldn’t have been laughing if they were also stuck at home, but they had the fortune of being out of town as well. My friends were lucky to be able to go out and travel and I accept that, but they could’ve been a little bit less smug about their departures. Commenting a simple “sucks to be you,” and texting every so often bragging about all the fun they were having at beaches and going to watch musicals on Broadway. I adore them, but I also want to throttle them sometimes. Who needs annoying siblings when you can have annoying friends instead.
Anyways, I’m getting off track. Back to the point.
So, instead of suffering through my lonely misery at home, I had the bright idea to go to a park nearby. It was a fairly small park with a questionably built wooden playscape being its main feature. For many obvious reasons, parents didn’t like their children playing on it, and the location of the park was in a fairly secluded area surrounded by thick trees. Any sane person would go to the mega-park that was only a few blocks from this one. Why go to a half-broken park that was obviously not up to safety codes when you could go to a 125-acre park with a huge playground, splash pad, skate park, dog park, basketball and volleyball courts, and its own lake for kayaking?
Apparently, I’m not sane because I thought it would be a good idea to go to the deserted and creepy park. A place that looked like a prime location to be kidnapped or the setting of a bad horror movie. Yes, I went to that very park to read a book to chase away my boredom.
I never said that I was the smartest person in the world. And it is with great regret that I must inform you that I get stupider.
I will state right here and right now that I am an idiot. I acknowledge it, and there is no reason to remind me because I am fully aware of the fact. With that out of the way, I’ll explain one of the reasons why I’m an idiot: I fell asleep.
That’s right you heard me. Me; a fifteen-year-old soon-to-be high school sophomore, fell asleep in the middle of a desolated sketchy park, in the middle of a wooded area, while reading a book. Oh, did I also mention that I went out there in the evening? No? Well, now you know. In my defense though, the sun usually sets around eight during the summer and I was fully expecting to be home before sunset.
That is if I hadn’t fallen asleep.
So, color me surprised when I woke up and there was neither hide nor hair of sunlight. The sky wasn’t even the pretty mixture of orange and pink when the sun had just set. Nope, it was pitch dark outside with the only evidence of light coming from the lone street light that sat at the entrance of the park and the full moon.
It was disorienting to wake up from an unintended nap into darkness. I bolted up from my position leaning against the aging wood of the playscape I sat in the middle of. The soft surface from years of use shifted as I moved and the rusted bolts that held the structure together creaked. The soft noise seemed to echo in the silence of the night. The only other noise was the sound of the wind shifting through the trees and the soft cooing of the animals that they held. Looking up into the sky, the pale moonlight cast a ghostly shadow across the ground.
Once I was able to grasp the situation, I wretched my phone out of my shorts pocket and tapped on the screen. 11:56 pm flashed across the screen and dread spread throughout my entire body. The first thought that ran through my mind was that I needed to get back home. The second thought was that of course, not even a kidnapper would want to come to this desolated place. I want to punch my past self for even entertaining the thought I was safe from danger in a basically abandoned park. The moment I finished thinking that thought I made my way to climb out of the wooden structure, that’s when I noticed something on the edge of my peripheral.
There standing in the middle of the light cast down by the streetlamp stood a lone figure. They were dressed in dark jeans and a simple black jacket with a hood covering their head. I found the attire odd since it was the middle of summer. I couldn’t figure out any more about this mysterious character because they were facing away from me and looking toward the empty street. But soon, I felt like they were more well equipped for the weather than I was. Sweat trickled down my back and arms only to be cooled by the wind that flowed lazily through the trees. It seemed as if the temperature had dropped 30 degrees in the span of a few moments, which should not have been possible, but apparently mother nature didn’t get that message. I watched as the figure looked out at the street. I didn’t know if they knew I was there or not. I wasn’t making much noise, but in the silence, even the smallest sound seemed to be amplified.
I just wanted to go home, but there was only one entrance to the park that wasn’t the woods and this figure was blocking it. I’m not the largest human being in the world. One of my best traits is that I’m a fast runner and that comes from the fact that I’m quite lithe in structure. The figure in the distance was about the same height as me, but even in the dark, I could tell that they were probably stronger than I was. More likely than not I would probably be the one murdered in this situation.
That is if they even had the intention to murder me. They could’ve been a completely friendly individual. However, this didn’t seem like the most optimal situation to be making a new friend. Especially when the person was just staring at the empty street near midnight.
It was while I was contemplating risking a quick run through the woods when the weirdest thing I have ever witnessed in my life happened.
Suddenly a loud sound, like a thunderclap, pierced through the night air. I shifted my head around the person and towards the street where the noise had come from. I was shocked to see that the once smooth asphalt had been cracked. I watched with mouth agape as the crumbling pieces continued to shift. I hadn’t even noticed as the figure in all-black moved from their spot grabbing a bag that sat rested against the light pole and slowly made their way towards the trees.
If I hadn’t been watching the destroyed asphalt with unadulterated shock I might have not believed what I saw. Heck, there’s still a part of me that doesn’t believe what I saw. A dark haze erupted from the newly created cracks. Its body shifted in the dust-filled air, having no definite shape. It billowed back and forth above the place it sprouted from. Soon enough the form started to solidify. It grew darker and darker as it became more defined. Even from my distance and in the faint light of the night I was able to distinguish the dark veiny wings that erupted from its back. The being wore a grotesque mask that looked as if a skeleton had been encapsulated in half-formed muscles. Its hunched figure moved slowly with long sluggish strides as if it were walking through a deep bank of mud. A reapers staff, the mark of death, materialized from its smoky body and it clutched at it with its gnarled hand.
I watched as the being lurked near the trees and as it grew closer, the grass at the edge of the curb connecting the street with the flora browned and shriveled. As if its mere presence sucked the life out of anything that lived. It reached the edge of the tree line, raised its arm into the air causing small rocks to levitate and turn into fine points. With a simple movement of its’ limb, it shot the rocks like projectiles at the few living creatures clinging to life nearby in the dense trees. It was difficult to make out exactly from my position but the sharp noise followed by squelches and the pained cries that reverberated throughout the night was enough for me to piece together the unwanted imagery. After the last rock hit a small bird trying to make its’ escape, it turned towards me. I didn’t know if I was going crazy, but it seemed as if this abomination was coming in my direction. As if it could sense that I was the closest living creature and was coming to steal my life as it did to the animals and grass before me.
I felt the ice-cold grip of fear seize my heart and found myself unable to move. In the two sockets where its eyes should’ve been only held the faint glow of blood-red light. They chilled me to the bone and promised of my end. I sat rooted in place. The breath I hadn’t known I had been holding escaped me in a sudden whoosh. This is it. My final moments in life. I was going to die alone in the dark by a random demon creature all because I was bored.
It was with great luck, or great misfortune depending on who you ask, that the creature wasn’t allowed to travel far up the pavement enough to murder me. All of a sudden the mysterious figure from earlier was standing in front of the dark being. They were now holding a long object covered in a leather sleeve in one hand and a bag slung over one shoulder. In comparison to the tall monster towering over menacingly with its scythe, the hooded figure didn’t seem like they stood much of a chance. Yet, they stood there without moving an inch. There didn’t seem to be an ounce of fear in the smaller figure. The creature stared at the other figure almost questioningly with its head tilted in consideration. Then in a single move, the creature lifted its limb and I watched as the pointed stones lifted once again and aimed at the person.
In a swift movement that I was barely able to see, the hooded figure sidestepped the barrage of stones and ripped the leather sleeve off of the object in their hand. They parried the remaining stones aimed at them and moved with an inhuman speed back towards the spotlight created by the street lamp. At first, I thought they were holding a metal pipe, but after another glance, I realized that it was a sword. Like a legit Arthurian knight of the round table type sword. It was a silver color and shone even brighter than the moonlight. As they dodged and maneuvered the creature’s advances I noticed a bright red stone in the center of the hilt. It was similar in color to the sharp red light in the creature’s eyes.
The hooded person had brought the creature into the light and it did not look any better in the light than it did shroud in the darkness. The person backed up towards the light pole and threw their bag onto the ground. When the creature finally was within range, they plunged the sword through its middle only to have it go through its mist-like body without effect. It lunged at them with claws as sharp as daggers on one hand and the scythe on the other. They swiftly moved to the side and sliced their blade through its neck, again, with no effect. It continued to move forward and slice at the person. They dodged every swipe then danced past the pole and onto the grass surrounding the perimeter of the playground. The creature followed and as it stepped onto the lively grass there was a loud hissing, and the earth beneath it withered and died leaving only a black scorched area.
The creature continued its advance on the figure but they were undeterred by its menacing approach. The figure lunged forward once again aiming for one of its blood-red eyes. This time it stumbled backward letting out a high screeched wail that made my ears pop. While the creature wailed in pain and anger the hooded figure took the opportunity and aimed a stab at its other eye before ripping the sword back once more and plunging the sharp object in the place where its heart should have been if it was alive. Each time the sword passed through it let out a horrid wail the next worse than the first. I watched as the person removed the sword then held up their left arm towards the creature. In their hand, they held a smooth clear orb I hadn’t noticed earlier. The person faced the creature with the orb and stated softly in a clear, distinctly female, voice, “I, Audree Stone, banish thee from this plane, for the harmony of life and death.”
It was a series of words I understood definition-wise, but could not wrap my head around when said in that order. It was simply incomprehensible. Yet, it seemed that was enough for the creature. Light burst from the orb and penetrated the monster and severed the body into millions of dust particles. It left behind only the swirling of its remains in the wind and a small ruby gem on the ground it once occupied. The girl, Audree, picked up the small crystal and laced it onto a cord around her neck that already contained a large selection of green, blue, and yellow crystals.
The chill that had overtaken the area had disappeared. It was only me and the girl in the hot humid night, yet not a word was shared between us. There was no way to tell if my presence was known or not. I was of the opinion that I would not mind if she hadn’t noticed me. She would definitely be capable of murdering me the same way she had offed the dark creature. So, I stayed quiet and watched as she picked up her discarded belongings then made her way over to the destroyed street. She placed her right hand onto the ground, the clear orb still clutched in her left and whispered words I could not hear. In the blink of an eye, the crumbled asphalt mended itself. I rubbed my eyes to make sure that I was really seeing that because all the stuff that happened previously wasn’t crazy enough. While I had been making sure that I was not hallucinating the girl had disappeared, leaving me alone with a scene that was exactly as it should be. No crazy demon creature. No hooded girl with a silver sword. Just me and the completely normal creepy playground and undamaged street.
I sat there for a few moments taking everything in before I shook myself out of my stupor. I checked the time once again on my phone and it read 12:03 am. Had it really only been seven minutes? It felt like it had been a lot longer than that. I made my way home quickly, not wanting to come across another demon banishment. Once I had safely got inside and locked the door I let out a shaky breath and contemplated whether everything that had happened had truly happened. The only conclusion I could reach was that if it was all real, then I was glad it was over and I was safe and sound.
Too bad that sentiment didn’t last very long…
I found a very short story that I wrote while I was in middle school. I wrote it on October 26th, 2011. I read it and I thought I'd see if I could improve on it with a little over 10 years more of knowledge and experience. I ended up changing quite a bit from the original, but the general idea is still there. I don't write a lot in fiction story format so I thought it would be good practice.
If you made it this far, thanks for reading!
my insides are disturbed
the warble of the quiver
in passing i am mute
within i am a shiver
unfurled i am a block
a writers own remorse
a drug to help me pass
the beating of a horse
ghost or am i muted
the grey is fuzzed and wide
its bruises leak that ocean green
just hiding whats inside
darkness eats the boat
the water was a friend
but now it seems to run amok
its arms part wide to end
escape? a laugh, im gone
no evil leaves a trace
and as im bloated lying there
expectation takes its place
a body on the shore
my teeth did not survive
you had hoped for so much yet you find
i never was alive
It has taken me my whole life to formulate these words and to summon the courage to put them on paper. They are ugly, uncomfortable words no one wants to say, least of all me, but ones which will do us both good. Me in my nomad universe and you, similarly nomadic, over the edge on your side side of existence.
I remember seeing a documentary once where the North Vietnamese were interviewed to tell their sides of all they experienced in the grisly Vietnam War, and one of these men almost laughed once, noting how tall the Americans were and what easy targets they made.
You are as guilty of being 6'3'' as you are of affecting my life, yet still here we are, both dissatisfied with the answers we have been given and the courses our lives, or lack thereof, have taken.
After you parted ways in April of '68, my father decided I would not be named Mark, as previously planned, and would carry your name out of respect, as if that would make a difference.
My mother-you remember Julie?-did not like the idea and tried halfheartedly to protest, but she was already full aware of how stubborn your brother could be. As a result, I received the name neither of us wanted, and if you travel to Washington DC you can see my, or..um..sorry..our name on the monument to Vietnam veterans there.
I have not made it to DC to see that, as I am sure you have not, either.
I am now sure my father did this to lessen his own grief, without really thinking about how you (or I) would think about it, or, worse, to try and curry favor in his father's eyes. We all know what a cold, unfeeling bastard he could be. Julie has told me stories...
Sometimes I wonder when men will finally realize there are more important things than the family line, or living up to anyone's expectations. These things tend to magnify heartache, instead of the opposite.
Often I try and picture what our lives would have been like had you not gone to Vietnam, or had you somehow eluded the bullet which took your life in the Mekong Delta. I see you being a great man, strong enough to resist the dark forces of my Grampy, your father, at least long enough to raise loved and loving children, and stand by a happy, independent woman.
I see me being someone with opportunities, with the fortitude required to see things through to their desired conclusions. Yes, much of this is because I, Mark, was murdered before I got the chance to be born, but letting me "cry myself to sleep" every night did me no favors either.
At any rate, with you gone, and me carrying someone else's name, I found it terribly easy to give up on life.
I have tried to do my part. I hope you somehow got wind of the cleansing ceremony I performed at the spot you fell. In a perfect world I would have released your pain and brought you (and I) peace,; the jury is still out...
This is goodbye, P-. I wish you well. In case of reincarnation, I hope we one day do cross paths; it would be interesting to see what your beautiful soul might have accomplished if given the chance. I've seen pictures of you working on your High School Yearbook in 1966 and that's. just. not. enough.
Most of all I grant you peace. I know our fates our intertwined, and if you may find a place to rest, then it may also be possible for me to, as well.
With love, respectfully,
I’m back for now. Haven’t posted here in a while but looking to bring writing back into my life with the goal of working on a book of poetry that has been collecting spiderwebs in my drafts for over a year.
I’m sophia, a tattoo artist living in Chicago. I write for fun and neurological creative stimulation aside from visual art, although I like to bring visuals into my poetry as well at times.
I’m also a Pisces ;)
and glad to be involved in writing again.
the thought of a home terrifies me.
I never thought I would deserve such a thing
called home, and I would never think
of myself as a person who could even
define it for myself.
permanence. a fear to me
much too similar to unknowingness.
what will I want? will a home
be an ever changing concept to me?
how will I ever be satisfied…
so for now, I fail to commit. I fail
to define. and I fail to keep fear
out of my mind.
perhaps I find home in that.
six-pointed story telling
only to harden over
again like snow
The purpose of breathing is absent here,
the water filling me where air should be.
Will you become her from the wanting?
Don’t call my name, don’t call me love
With that voice when you have pulled the tide in too high
To leave room for my living.
Far better, far kinder to dash me against the rocks and let me leak
Into the sea, let me again be salt, the blood and the tears and the sea together
in the briny dark.
Call me Ado and grant me mercy, shatter me to pieces and give me back to the cold.
Tell me that my only sin was looking back as my city burned.
I write your name in the wet sand and watch it darken, fill with the ocean, and
Do you think those letters shape you?
Did they create us?
Are you as lost to me as they are?
Am I lost, too?
My footprints do not linger, do not endure, and I can’t see anymore
How I was ever real at all.
The Last Good One
Death, long enamored of his mortal charges, watched them ceaselessly. He loved them, in his own way; the way an immortal, ageless being unconstrained by time and space can love the tender existence of a finite and flawed creature. He loved them like the fragile things they were. He was buoyed by their triumphs and burdened by their losses. Their quirks and strange habits brought to him a sense of wonder, though at times he could be heard clucking to himself, not unlike a broody mother hen, as his charges were up to something one might describe as 'no good.'
But...all things considered, they were largely good. Their love could be unconditional, boundless, unending even in the presence of Death. It was often he would come to call and, beckoned closer by the waning cadence of their heartbeats, would feel the pull of their devotion to one another. There existed between all those who were loved a cord of spider-fine silk, nearly invisible and stretched tight between them as if to keep them from his hands just awhile longer. The taut string would sing with his gentle tug, plucking from it a singular word, an imploring and tremulous, “Stay.” And often Death allowed it, for just a while longer, because he loved them.
Oh, the good ones were always the hardest to take. Not because Death was frightening or malevolent because, really, Death was neither of those things. Dying could be, of course, but Death...was like slipping away to another room from an overcrowded party, one where the good cheer is choking and the revelry a miasma and the small talk almost metastatic. It is the studious defection away from the noise, a flight from the clammer of those busy with the brilliance of living, through the door that allows you, finally, out into that brisk night. Death is the first inhalation where your chest burns with the cold of it, your face stings with the chill of it, and beneath a sky tossed heavy with stars, you are free. You are at last unbound, undone from the mortal coil and unleashed into the endless. Death had always been fond of an Irish goodbye.
When Death would arrive, punctual to no fault and precise to the second, it meant we must close the book, shutting for good its well-thumbed pages and worrying ourselves no more at how the story might end. For here our end stood, not at all as we pictured. Perhaps it was just the finality of our own conclusion, of our brightly burning final chapter now extinguished, that made the thought of Death so fearsome. To gaze upon that countenance meant we had arrived at the terminus, end of the line, time to depart. It meant that all we had dreamed about, hoped for, wished of…all of the things that could possibly be had already been and there were no more things that could be….Perhaps this was what made Death so maligned to us, made us dread his attendance and resist his attentions.
The heart of Death was heavy, as he understood he must now take The Last. He knew it must be done and he knew where he would find her, as sometime before Death had claimed that which was most dear to her, the Last One's most Beloved. When Death had come for her Beloved, he had felt the familiar ache, the pull of the silk, heard the trill of the string. But it was all sharpened, almost too painful to be near, and when Death leaned closed to listen, he had understood. The Beloved had known that with his parting, the Last would truly be alone, the singular mortal soul left behind in a world that had very nearly finished dying. The Beloved wanted nothing more than to remain here beside her and he had often hoped that Death would come for her first so that she would not be alone, that she would not end her days only waiting for his return, but even Death did not decide these things and so he had come for the Beloved first.
Death had taken the string in one hand, lamenting in his own silence that he must mar the gossamer sheen of it, that he would quell forever the sweet, familiar song of it. The Beloved had kissed the Last one more time and, taking her face into his hands, pressed his forehead to hers, desperate to memorize the face he had loved in life and would carry with him now into Death. He looked once more into her eyes, finding them empty of guile or malice and full only of love, and here Death had quieted the aching in his heart. Death gifted him with stillness, allowing the Beloved a moment of memories in place of the terrible knowledge that she would be alone in a way that no mortal soul had ever been. It was just a moment of kindness, but it was enough.
The Beloved was taken back to the day when he and The Last were first brought together, and the memories that should have faded with time like well-loved toys were still vivid, kept vibrant through the unexplainable sorcery held by all the things we cherish.
It was when the Beloved had wrapped himself in these moments, saw himself with his hands cupping the sweet face of The Last, that Death had taken him by the arm, severed the ties that held him to life, and they had simply stepped away. Here in this hushed lacuna, after the last lingering echo of a single word had withered away into nothing, that she had become The Last.
Now, Death must come for her. Settling next to the small soul who had been left behind, he wondered at how such devotion had endured in a thing so slight. Death was forever enthralled of them, these good ones, and he marveled at the strength that nestled in such frail beings. And they were frail, weren’t they? The eyes of The Last had once been dark and shining, lined with bristly lashes and quick to chase the form of her Beloved to whatever far reaches he might venture. Now they were dull, milky orbs that could make out only shapes, the vaguest of forms that were all some variety or another of gray shadows. A dying world emits little noise, and this was perhaps a blessing, as her hearing had almost entirely deserted her as well. It might have been less cruel if it had gone completely, as sometimes The Last was certain she heard someone calling for her, very faintly and from very far away. She would rise, stiff joints shivering to hold her thin body upright, and she would twist her face towards the sound, hoping to catch it on some rising wind. But it would fade away, always, as if it never were, and likely, it hadn't been and she would lay herself down gently, once more sheltered in the place where he had left her, and she waited. It was here that Death had found the Last, still waiting for whatever it was that would bring her Beloved back to her.
Death reached out to trace the graying fur that speckled the dog’s muzzle, following its path from her nose across her cheeks to where it finally spread out like the wings of some snowy moth to encircle her eyes. As he did so, The Last lifted her head, an enormous task with what little life her body still held, and laid it across his knee. Death placed his hand on her head, feeling the angles of her bones and the lightness of her being, and heard the labored drumming of her tail against the ground. Once...twice... and then The Last could do it no more. She only gazed up at Death patiently, her heart, so soon to be stilled, comforted to no longer be alone. Death stroked her head and The Last closed her eyes. They sat this way awhile longer, Death and the dog, in the backyard of the house on a planet in a world where nobody lived anymore, only this little soul, tattered and tired and so terribly alone.
Death knew it was time.
He listened intently and found himself surprised. For the first time in... all time, he had no need to quiet a restless mind. He had no need to bequeath the mercy of memories to her. She was waiting. Only waiting.
Uncertain, Death reached for the string as he had always done, expecting her to cling to life and this barren world because it was all she had known, but this time, it was not the word ‘stay’ that sang out across the universe when he held the strand. There was no mournful beseeching, no doleful imploring.
It was her name. Her name was clear and brilliant as it rolled across the void, cutting through it without hesitation and she heard it. For one brief moment, unfathomable to we who can be ushered away by Death, the entirety of the universe existed only as her name.
She would wait no more. Her Beloved was calling her home. So she went and she was no longer the last.
And so our world was emptied of its last good soul, and it was only the lingering ripples of our dying that prove we ever lived at all. All was still and quiet as Death thought of the dog, missing quite suddenly the weight of her head laid upon his knees. Death felt very empty and he sighed, but there was no one to hear it.
blur together in
the fork stuck in
the garbage disposal
makes no sound,
you can feel it
causing catastrophic cacophony
never to ease,
not even a single breath
to slow the heart
does the [mind]