Monthly Archives: May 2016

Guitar Joey

Black gantry cranes rose up above the miles of containers stacked by the docks. Joey sat on an old broken chair under a corrugated awning. He strummed his guitar and watched the big ships, a one-eyed dog at his heel. He sipped coffee out of a tin cup and the dog gnawed an old bone. The sun took forever to rise, finally floating brightly over the grey world and leaving an orange trail in the water. At 10:25 Cammer came walking down, stepping over the old ropes in her army boots. She sat beside him on a stack of tires. When they comin’ in? she asked. Today, he said, strumming and picking an intricate tune he had just come up with.

What do you have? she asked. I got this, he said and showed her some silver knives wrapped in canvas and a tall jar of rusty liquid. This is supposed to work on them, he said. You dip the knives in this stuff. Cammer knodded. They heard some seagulls call. Barges rumbled by. The guitar notes carried over the water.

You’re good at that, she told him, indicating his guitar. Why don’t you just play music and make people happy?

Joey grinned. Then looked out at the water. I think I hear one, he said. He set the guitar down and reached back for one of the knives. Keeping his eye on the water, he unscrewed one of the jar lids and dipped the knife in. When the creature hurled itself up out of the water he was ready. He leapt forward and stabbed and stabbed the green flesh, its nine-inch claws scraping his shoulders. The one-eyed dog alternately barked and whimpered from a safe distance. Finally the monster’s fanged mouth ceased snapping and the claws tightened in rigor mortis. It dropped back down and sunk deep into the dark water.


Cammer had first seen her brother kill a supernatural creature when they were kids. It started with pounding stakes. She’d followed him into an insane asylum one day, walking down between the bunk beds to where an old man lay under a thin, lime green blanket, eyes closed. Without hesitation Joey had held a stake over the approximate location of the man’s heart and pounded with two powerful, swift blows until the demon hissed, showing impossibly long canines, and dissolved into dust. It always disgusted Cammer to see him kill, even if it was the evil undead or a disgusting sea-monster.


Sooner or later they’re gonna get you, Cammer told him as she watched him wrap the holy dagger back in the canvas. Some day you won’t have your poison, or your stakes, or your silver bullets. They’ll get their retribution. And you’ll never have played a club, or looked down from a stage at a million cheering fans.

Joey smiled again, staring straight ahead. But when she left he gazed out after her for a long time. Her walk had the same rhythm as when they were kids in the Bywater. The one-eyed dog trailed just behind her, leaving Joey alone at the docks. When the next sea creature rose up out of the water Joey just stared at it, strumming his guitar quietly in the shade. It let out a wretched shriek and flailed around, finally clawing its way down the dock and up the road towards civilization. Then another came, and then another. Joey just watched and strummed. When the sun had burned off the morning haze and was high and powerful in the sky, Joey rose and took his guitar with him. He walked slowly along the dock, picking and humming, leaving the canvas-wrapped knives and poison behind, set under the old broken chair.



Timner’s Jays

Timner sat still at his heavy oak desk and listened. The noises of blue jays and large trucks going by carried in through the open window. But there was another sound, almost like tiny, electronic bells. He tilted his head this way and that to determine the source. He glanced around at the other empty desks and over to the closet door. But the more he listened, the more he became sure it was coming from his own desk. He slid open the top middle drawer but found only pencils and a wooden ruler. The top right drawer was pink notepads and tins of snuff. But when he opened the next drawer down a strange blue mist was released. In the haze a small robot insect stood staring up at him and vibrating. Timner leaned in to get a better look and the robot insect launched itself at his neck and sliced away with razor-sharp pincers. With some effort Timner ripped the thing off, blood spraying from his neck all over the blotter on his desk and completely covering the picture of his fiancée. Just then Maerti, one of his sales team, returned from lunch. She stopped in the doorway and stared. Timn! Maerti cried. Timner looked up, the whirring robot still in his hand. Then he threw the robot out the open window. He collapsed forward onto his desk, spewing blood. Maerti came and stood over him. Don’t die, she said.

As the room darkened Timner made out a small crowd staring at him from the doorway. He could also hear people outside the window. Check those bushes and around that tree, he heard someone say. The blue jays screamed and cried. He felt a burning pain in his neck but was unable to move from his slumped position. Maerti leaned in. I found this, she said, holding up a silver, bloody gadget. In your neck.

Timner was unable to reply. He watched as she crossed to the group by the door, holding up the metal piece. She then rushed with them down the hall and he was alone. He could hear movement outside, below the window, but no more voices. The jays got louder. One was so loud it could have been perched on the windowsill.

Finally he willed his arm into motion and pressed his hand against his neck, where the bleeding had slowed. He pushed himself up and stumbled over to the window. On the lawn below bloody corpses were strewn about, some with heads severed from their bodies. He saw the blood-stained robot insect hovering in one place like a humming bird, about five feet above the ground. He pushed away from the window and lurched across the room to the closet door. He had just gotten himself inside and pulled the door closed when he heard the sound of electronic bells and mechanical buzzing inside the office. He waited, slumped inside the closet against the wall. The buzzing got close to the closet door and he imagined the robot insect hovering there, it’s spinning pincers opening and closing. But then the noise receded and he heard what he understood to be the robot flying back out the window. The buzzing got fainter and fainter. Timner leaned back, his head resting against some cardboard boxes and stacks of index cards. Then the blue jays started up again, louder than he ever heard them before. He closed his eyes. The blue jay screams rose to a crescendo and then went silent. Timner waited in the dark, listening to nothing for hours.


In a dream the insect robots descended from above and he shot them, one-by-one, from an anti-aircraft turret. Maerti came over to where he stood by the turret and put her hand on his shoulder. She was naked except for a strange leather mask with a zipper. Don’t distract me, Timner said. But as he continued destroying robots with rapid gun blasts he felt her cold hands encircle his neck from behind, squeezing.


He woke in darkness, not one-hundred-percent sure if he was actually still alive. He turned his head slightly and stabbing pain issued from his neck.

When he closed his eyes again he felt pulled by a strong current down an endless river of darkness. The blue jays called and called but this time he could no longer hear them. He floated away, his dreams dissipating.




The Eye

Oil seeped from the motorcycle engine as Pete lay on his back under it, running his hand along the seams. There was a thud over by the workbench. Pete pressed his finger against the crack in the metal. Martino? What’s happening out there? he said without looking. Another thud. Pete finally glanced over but couldn’t see much from his low angle. Something crashed to the ground and a wrench came sliding across the cement floor, almost to where Pete lay. He pushed himself out from under the bike. He didn’t see anyone but the area around the shelving appeared wavy as though he was seeing it through heat distortion. One of the toolboxes that had been on the shelf was now on the floor, contents strewn from the impact. He got up and as he walked slowly over, the distorted, wavy field seemed to move in an arc toward him.

He felt a sensation like that of a cold hand reaching into his chest and tearing through his internal organs. He gasped. He reached out and was surprised to feel something solid in the undulating haze. An invisible mouth closed on his in a kiss. He tried to pull away but ice-cold arms pulled him closer.


Later he found himself on the floor. His chest appeared to have been ripped apart and he hugged himself, squeezing ribs back together over heart and lungs. He lifted his head and his face sagged until he pressed hanging flesh back onto his skull. The floor was bloody but the blood was frozen and even showed the white snowflake patterns of frost. His own hands were white with cold. He struggled to his feet, fighting to hold his skin together. He fumbled with his phone and it spun out of his hand and dropped, skidding across the cement floor.


The front office manager arrived and stopped short when she saw him. The fluorescents reflected in her glasses, hiding her eyes. Pete… she said. She took a few steps back in her high heels, almost slipping on the icy blood, her hand landing on the counter to steady herself. Near her hand on the counter rested what looked like a human eyeball. Pete tried to say something to her but only guttural sounds came out. Then he picked up the eyeball and held it out, as though offering it as explanation. When he moved closer to her she grabbed a crowbar from the pegboard and swung it at him. She made contact with his shoulder and his whole body shredded with the impact. He landed in a pile of flesh and bones on the frozen blood floor.

She then bent down and took the eyeball from his bloody hand. She looked at it, then placed it carefully in her purse. Soon her car could be heard peeling out of the parking lot.

The shop got quiet again except for the sound of nails falling one by one off the top of a tall galvanized shelving unit. Each nail rolled off of its own volition and bounced down onto the concrete floor. When there were no more nails to fall, the shop was silent.