Because all good things must end…

Hello Travelers,

The coffin is closed, and as such, we must say good bye. I’ve chosen the winner for this tour, one Lori Parker, though I regret not being able to give something to each and every one of you.

However, I’ve opted to share the rest of The Silence in my Smile with you, as you all seemed very interested in this piece, so perhaps I am giving you all something. Enjoy, friends!


It was a night like any other for me. I wandered the dark streets, with so many homes filled with families that were not aware of my presence, cold and alone. Not a single house light could be seen, but after all, 2 A.M. was not an hour in which most people were awake. The night sky was black and the darkness unbroken, except by a few defiant stars. The frigid wind blew through my chest, but no cold nor isolation could ever compare to the hollow emptiness inside me.

On more than one occasion, my friends had attempted to pry me from my shell with invitations to parties, drinking games at the local bar, or other such menial delights. On all occasions, I responded in the negative. One of my few remaining friends, Donovan, brought me aside on such a night.

“Look, I know you’re hurt. I know that you must be going through some really dark times, but you have to get out and live just a little.”

“Why should I?” My voice was cold and dead.

“Because we want to know you’re ok, but we have no way of telling whether or not you really are. Ever since… that day… we haven’t heard you laugh. You don’t do anything anymore, and we haven’t even seen you smile. We would know you’re okay if you could just give us one damn smile. It’s rough seeing such a great guy so miserable.”

Well what did they know? I stalked through the night like a wounded animal- desperate for attention, yet ready to snap at anyone who came close. I soon noticed I was coming close to my street, Darnell Court. I didn’t want to return home yet, so I took the sharp left onto Way Street, as if ready to face the creeping memory of death. I tried hard to repress the memories that ripped at my mind, so I shook my head and continued my somber sauntering.

Unfortunately for me, I soon happened upon the town park. I stopped by a thick birch tree, my head suddenly swimming as memories flooded my mind. I fought this, but I could not stop the cruel images from playing in my mind. The colors and sounds mocked me with their unrelenting progression.

I saw the same park, only it was day time. I remembered this scene from just a few months ago; I was pushing my dearest daughter, Emily, on the swings. She had a bright yellow sundress on, and her soft voice was laughing with childish delight. She begged me to push her higher and higher, and soon leapt from the swing, sailing across the playset and landing triumphantly. I couldn’t help but admire her brave spirit. She was always trying to prove she was as mature and as bold as any adult. Sometimes, she actually was, and would prove her bravado despite any danger it might pose to her.

Turning on her feet, she ran suddenly and jumped back onto the swing. Using it like a fulcrum, she swung and leapt once more, this time tackling my chest. I laughed, stumbling, but caught her. She had wrapped her arms tightly around my torso, her narrow arms squeezing tight.

“I love you, daddy!”

That was it. My heart once again shook with pain; my body tensed as I struggled to hold back tears. How cruel must nature be, that I am always reminded of how badly I have suffered? I wrapped my arms tight around myself, praying the other memories would not return as I sprinted for home, unwilling to walk Memory Lane any longer.

My footsteps were loud, echoing through the streets, but I did not care. I shut my eyes, but behind them I saw the darkness in even greater detail. All I could think of was getting home before any other thoughts chose to break my heart again. It almost worked, but I had the growing sense that I could not outrun the pain of my past. I sprinted fast, then faster still, nearly breaking down my door as I slammed into it, but the memory returned regardless.

It had been another bright and warm day. The sun shone brilliantly, with warm air gusting through the streets. Birds chirped merrily, and I smiled up at the pleasant day. Emily and my wife, Elizabeth, had just been out to the supermarket. I couldn’t wait to see them, even though they’d only been gone a short time. I loved them both, and Emily was the spitting image of her mother. They both had wavy, golden hair, a smooth complexion, and an honest, kind, but witty personality. Every day with them was like a day at an amusement park- and Emily had a habit of making up elaborate fantasies, so it could certainly get amusing!

I waited eagerly on my front steps to help them bring the groceries in. I squinted down the road and saw their car driving up Way Street. The bright blue paint sparkled in the sunlight, and I could just make out Emily’s smile from the other side of the windshield. I smiled, stood, and waved to them. I saw Elizabeth laugh as Emily waved back. The joyous expressions were still in place when a black sedan crumpled the driver’s side of their car.

Metal twisted and screeched as my family’s car spun out of control. The driver’s door was so badly damaged, that it could not possibly be opened. Their car wrapped around a telephone pole, a thunderous bang echoing through the neighborhood. Smoke billowed from under the hood. It happened so fast, that I knew they were going to die before I had even stopped smiling.

I raced from my porch, frantically dialing 9-1-1, knowing it would not save my family, but trying nonetheless. I reached the crushed blue van to find my wife slumped upon the steering wheel, her once-vibrant green eyes were now dulled and lifeless. She died on impact. Looking past her, past the blood that coated her, and past the steel that pierced her torso, I saw Emily. She was barely breathing, a large, jagged piece of metal having gouged open her side. She was bleeding badly, but her eyes still locked on me.

I rushed to the other side of the car. Though the thick pole blocked my access to the door, I could see into the gap where the window used to be. She was rasping, blood trickling from the corner’s of her mouth. I heard a desperate sob escape my lips as I pried at the other doors, but the automatic locking system had engaged and my little girl was trapped. My precious Emily was dying, and I couldn’t help her. My heart throbbed in agony as I ran back to the window.

“Emily, it’s ok. It’s going to be ok. Daddy is right here and we’re going to get you to the hospital, ok?” My voice shook, but I didn’t want to let her know how scared I was. I strengthened my resolve, in hopes that fear wouldn’t plague my voice.

“Daddy… It’s ok daddy.”

“Yes baby, it’s going to be ok. You’re going to be ok.” I was praying, no, begging for God’s salvation to shine on my daughter.

“Don’t cry daddy.” Damn, I couldn’t even appear strong for her! “You have to smile.”

“What was that baby?” Smile? I must have misheard her.

“If you don’t smile, then the darkness will get you, and you’ll be all alone. You’ll be sad and scared. Just smile daddy. Smiles say everything.” She pushed her cheeks up in a forced, childish, yet almost surreal grin, and collapsed. Her limp form never stirred again, and my heart broke. I turned with all the fires of hell in my eyes upon the people who had done this to me. God could not have saved them.

Unfortunately, the police could, as they had just showed up and proceeded to restrain me. The driver was 17, dropping acid, and drunk. His BAC was .24 and he had taken nearly enough drugs to kill himself. He was unharmed, as were his five passengers, who were all high. They laughed all the way to the precinct, and I doubted they would remember what had happened. It did not matter. My family had been taken from me, and my happiness went with them.

“Well, you were right baby. I don’t smile anymore, and I’m sure not happy anymore. I’m all alone, with no one left to smile for.” I sobbed to the empty sky, creaked the door open, and collapsed into my bed. I allowed exhaustion to carry me away, my dreams as black as midnight.


I awoke the next day feeling odd. Standing, I noticed my mouth would not open to yawn. I thought this to be a simple thing; I had fallen asleep on my stomach, so perhaps my chin had been pressed into the bedding to hard. I reached up to stretch my jaw by force, but my hand did not meet my chin. It met a hot, thick and burning substance. It slowly dawned on me that it not only hurt to touch, but burned the skin around my face, as if it were eating me away. My heart leapt into my throat, and my body could barely keep up with my feet as I ran to my bathroom. I looked upon my reflection with horror to see that a majority of my mouth, chin and cheeks were gone. In their place was a hideous black fungus that bubbled and seethed with a mind of its own. I felt it had eaten away my mouth, and I pressed my tongue to the front of my mouth, noticing I no longer had lips. In place of them, acidic mush greeted my tongue. The taste of copper blood filled my mouth. Whatever this thing was, it was devouring me.

I looked up at my mirror and tried to dispell this horror with my reflection. I watched the seething mass on my face, wondering what arcane and demonic force had chosen to reap its pain upon me. Then I considered this situation; this had to be a dream or some form of hallucination. I shut my eyes as tight as I could.

This isn’t real, it can’t be… It’s all going to be gone in one… two… three.

I opened my eyes and found a vision even more shocking then my own appearance- my wife and daughter stood behind me. I stared into the mirror, unwilling to believe it was real. They appeared as real as they ever had, Emily’s green eyes gazing eagerly at me. Elizabeth smiled gently, as she always had. I looked back at Emily’s reflection, who pushed her fingers up against her cheeks, just as she had done the day… the day she died. Elizabeth’s image reached over to mine and gave my cheek a soft kiss.

I felt that kiss. I whirled around to grasp my family, to beg their help, to just see them again, but no one was there. Tears rolled down my cheeks as my misery returned, even stronger then before, and caressed the outer edge of the thing that engulfed my face.

I looked back at my reflection, crying with terror and regret, as anyone would. I noticed the fungus had begun to creep outwards. It spread down my chin and across my face, and I could feel it eat and burn my flesh. It was growing, feeding off my body to fuel its own! Pain seared and radiated from every inch that this thing covered, and my breath came in ragged gasps as terror filled me. Worse still, it was attempting to block my nostrils and suffocate me. I smelt an acrid, burnt odor, and soon understood that my facial hair had been burned away by the fungus.

Terrified and in agony, I sprinted down the stairs to my living room. Of course, no one was home to help me, and I didn’t dare go outside. Though my blinds were closed, some slits revealed the sunlight to be blinding. I put my hand in the path of the sunshine only to feel it scald my wrist in seconds! I could not leave my home, and the fungus was spreading into my sinuses. My situation appeared hopeless, but I couldn’t just let this thing win. I picked up a phone and dialed 9-1-1, but of course, I could only attempt to speak. No sound came from me. The thing slowly made its way into me; I had no choice but to dash to the kitchen. I grabbed a knife and stared at the reflection of my blackened, bubbling and terrified face in the blade. I prepared myself for any further pain.

I thought back to the day that fate chose to take my family from me. I remembered the way my daughter gave me one last smile, her face still so innocent and beautiful, despite being matted with dirt and blood from the accident.
“If you don’t smile, then the darkness will get you, and you’ll be all alone. You’ll be sad and scared. Just smile daddy.”

Had she done this? In some point of her life, did my daughter manage to become some dark prophet? Either way, I had to be free of this, so I dragged the knife across my cheek, but found the sharp blade only became stuck within the seething mass. I managed to wrench it free, and knew I had little time. My head began to swim as I lost oxygen, and it had already engulfed half of my torso. My vision shook and began to fade as I thought back to my daughter.

Okay baby, you want daddy to smile? I’m going to give you the biggest smile you’ve ever seen. I thought.

I brought the knife down upon my face, severing portions of my nose. Parts of it dropped to the floor, cartilage attached to the bloody chunks of flesh, and as I sucked in air through the hole, I knew this was the only way. I continued my macabre home surgery, my daughter’s voice echoing in my ears…


Clearview Mental Facility- patient report.
Patient 1842930; Joesph L. Johnson
Patient admitted: 4/12/09
Diagnosis: Severe psychotic break with manic tendencies.
WARNING: Masochistic tendencies. Placed on suicide watch.

Mr. Johnson was admitted to our facility pending an emergency phone call from the patient’s home. A scream was heard, and it was thought he was being attacked. When the police found him, he was laughing in a deranged manner, and continuously slashed at himself with a butcher’s knife. It is unclear who reported the incident, as the patient was far too delusional to do so, but the patient carved off his own nose, lips, cheeks and portions of his chin and neck. He was also alone, and no traces of hallucinogenic or toxins drugs were found in his body.

Mr. Johnson recently lost his wife and child in a traffic collision. The stress of this is undoubtedly what took such a drastic toll on his mind, causing this episode. Fortuntely, the police were able to restrain him and stop the bleeding, preventing his death. Too much damage had been done for skin grafts, so the patient’s physical condition is scarred and gruesome.

Patient is non-responsive, does not answer or even look at those who speak, call his name, or even strike the patient. Patient does not become better or worse with medication. Patient does not engage in any activity, alone or otherwise. The only action indicating this patient has brain function is that the peculiar expression he displays upon the remnants of his face.

It appears to be a smile


S-Drive by @AlexChaseWriter @CoffinHop 2013

Hello Travelers,

If you’ve been reading my work thus far, thank you! Your continued readership means more than I can say. Double thank you to all who’ve commented routinely. If this is your first time reading my work, no worries, I love you too. This marks the end of my piece of Coffin Hop 2013, so I’ve decided to go out with a bang.

Today I bring you the opening to a novella I’ve written, and though it’s on the back burner, I do want to revise and publish it, so you won’t be seeing the full story here. In this, I managed to blend all my favorite themes- horror, science fiction, and psychology. You’ll see why I say that…


Jack Trelawney leaned against a crumbling brick wall, ignoring how the decades-old dust from the crumbling mortar stained his pea coat, and crossed his arms over his chest. Though he kept his ankles crossed and his head pointed toward the ground, pretending to fall asleep from how little he cared, his eyes darted from Zach Burns to Chuck Rawhide and back to the mouth of the alley in which they hid. He thought about their objective, his fingers gently brushing over the metal plate that covered the USB port embedded in his chest, and idly tapped it twice. Zach and Chuck caught sight of this and nudged each other, knowing their boss needed help coming to a resolution.

“Hey, boss,” Zach said, lumbering over. The man had a perpetual slouch, as if as if he had so much muscle that his skeleton could not support its weight. “Who’s this guy again?” He hoped a little Q&A might jar his boss into action.

“Marcus Smith,” Jack said, straightening up.

Zach’s companion glanced over. “But why do we want him again? For research or something? I thought we had enough test subjects.” While he was much more intelligent than Zach, Chuck had a copy of his personality. To be more accurate, they were both copies of some long forgotten person whose personality had been digitized and filed as ‘security personnel type B.’

A gust of wind shrieked to the alley, ripping at Jack’s coat. He smiled knowing that its sleeves covered the goose bumps that raced along his arms. Neither Zach nor Chuck would have questioned him if he showed weakness, but it still made him uncomfortable to know that he might react to things while they sat still, not appearing to have recognized that the wind had blown. Worse still was that the coldness, the way it seemed to penetrate right through to his heart. It was a constant reminder of the monolithic figure whose shadow he had always lived in and whose height he’d always aspired to reach.

Unbidden, his grandfather’s voice echoed in his head. I know you love him, but he will never understand this. He sold his soul long ago and is no longer capable of understanding what it means to love or have family. You need to live for yourself, not for him.

“That’s classified,” Jack said, shaking his head and levering himself off the wall. “Do you see him?”

“Uh, let me check.” Zach leaned out, then pulled back in and began to nod. Jack waved and they stepped out into the deep orange halo cast by the overhead streetlight. Jack looked at it briefly thought of how it looks like the harvest moon, something he hadn’t seen or even looked for since the night he had to say goodbye to the Melissa he loved several years earlier. He followed his escort team, listening to the clack of his dress shoes on the broken sidewalk echo down the deserted Boulevard.

“Marcus Smith?” Jack’s voice was a little sharper, a little colder than he intended for it to be. Maybe it is just nerves, or maybe he was jealous of the smiling man strolling down the street.

“Jack Trelawney? What are you doing out here?” Marcus began to shake as Jack moved behind him. The trio closing in, causing him to press his back against the front of the boarded up toy shop.

“Nothing much, I just been thinking about the Jericho group and all you’ve done to fight my father’s company over the past few months.” Jack remove something sleek and black from his pocket. It only weighed a few ounces, but it was the heaviest thing he’d ever held, as the weight of all that had ever been done with it was dragging it down into the earth. Or maybe straight into hell.

“Yeah, why? So what?” He lowered his hands, flexing them as his voice steadied.

Jack forced his face to grin despite how unnatural it felt. “It doesn’t matter. What matters is why you’ve done all this work for so many people.”

“Why I help those who you’ve destroyed? I don’t follow – do you have something against those who do what’s right because it’s the right thing to do?”

“That’s just it, Mr. Smith. You work for those who can’t defend themselves — for those who you claim have been destroyed by Personex technologies. For those people who willingly and knowingly abused an otherwise safe process, isn’t that right?” Zach looked at Chuck and began guffawing, but was cut off by a sharp look from Jack, who then closed in on Marcus.  His right hand began to shake so he dug the nails of his left hand into his palm.

“That isn’t quite how I’d phrase him it, but yeah, that’s my goal: to seek restitution for everyone damaged by Personex industries him. What of it? What do you want from me?”

“What do I want?” It was the first time anyone had ever asked him that before, and for an instant, he’d almost forgotten what he was doing there in the first place. He heard his grandfather’s voice in his head again. I know you can be a good person. Promise me you’ll be one someday.

Jack shook his head and bit back a sudden sting of tears. Marcus opened his mouth to question him again but Jack stepped forward and, with the soft snick of a blade, sliced away the fabric of Marcus shirt, leaving a thin red line across his chest. Marcus was too surprised to feel the pain and realized too late that his assailant had plunged a Drive into the USB port in his chest. It began to hum as Jack pressed the download button, leeching out Marcus’s personality. The thin black strip was soon filled with glowing bluish white light while Marcus his left with a cold desolation that seemed to radiate further with every pulse of his shuddering heart. Unable to fight the process, he sank to his knees as he gradually stopped noticing the cold air around him, the screaming gale that rushed between the buildings, and the fact that he was being attacked. Soon he was no more afraid of the men in front of him as a fish is afraid of water. There was nothing left of him but memory, a name, and organs. A human in theory but not an application.

Jack remove the Drive from Marcus his chest. “Thank you for your donation to Personex Industries. I’ll be sure to put your personality to good use.” The trio walked away, but Jack stole one last glance at the man they were leaving behind, the scraps of his torn shirt blowing in the wind.


Walk with me from October 24-31 as I post some of my work in honor of Coffin Hop 2013. Some of this is quite old, some of it not–guess which is which, Traveler. Perhaps a right answer will earn a stroke of fortune for you…

For this tour, I’ll be giving away one signed anthology in which a story of mine has been featured. Which anthology is up to the winner. Keep in mind, I reserve the right to award additional gifts as per Coffin Hop rules. Who knows–if I get a lot of hits, you might see a lot of rewards in the future. Be sure to click the badge at the side of my page and visit the other Hoppers!

Sacrifices by @AlexChaseWriter @CoffinHop 2013

Hello Travelers,

This is a very short piece that I wrote for a contest once. I didn’t win, much to my disappointment, but I’m still pleased with it. Enjoy!


The front door slams open, then shut, and I hear heavy, rapid footfalls going up stairs. Damn, I think, looking at the stove, turning the flame down low so that I don’t turn chicken cutlets into charcoal cutlets. I turn on the hot water so it blasts over the carving knife as I dart upstairs, moving past the empty couch that still bears the impression of our father, and find Sandra in her room.

“Hey, Sand,” I poke my head through the door. “What’s going on?”

“Nothing,” she chokes out as shimmering pearls roll down her cherubic fourteen-year-old cheeks and splash down on the rosary necklace our father gave her.

“There’s no lyin’ to me, Sand. Somethin’s up. Tell me?”

Giant amber eyes fix on me, trapping me like a mosquito. She jolts forward and wraps her arms around me.

“M-m-mommy’s gone to re-re-re…” I know this already, of course. I’m the one who talked our mother into it. But Sandra doesn’t need to know what I’ve done.

“Re what, kiddo?”

“Rehab,” she sobs, clutching me tighter. “Why would she do that? Why would she leave us all alone with Daddy?”

“Aw, Sand,” I pull away, looking into her eyes so she focuses on something immediate, something other than our mom. “Sometimes, people do crazy things for those they love. It might mean they have to go away for a while, but it doesn’t change how they feel about you. Things will be better this way, ok?”

She sniffs, nodding vigorously.

“Come on, I’ve got dinner goin’. Maybe you can recite your monologue for me while I get it settled? I always love hearing your perform.”

I don’t really want to hear it again, but hey, that’s what big brothers are for. I graduated last year, so I have plenty of time to do what I want. Well, I used to. I’m not going to have much more.

We make our way into the kitchen and she’s already half-way through a piece from A Streetcar Named Desire. She’s damn good. The girl’s Broadway-bound, even if she doesn’t know it yet. I hope I can go to her plays one day.

She’s just about done when I take the pie out of the oven. Her eyes shoot open as her nostrils flare, breaths coming in quick little bursts.

“Oh! Like Auntie Ruth’s!”

I grin and nod. She doesn’t need to know her aunt’s “secret recipe” is a store-bought mix. We spent a lot of long weekends at Aunt Ruth’s, and I’m not about to spoil those happy memories. An excited look spreads over her face, but it falls as she glances towards the door.

“Do you think Daddy will be home soon?”

No, no I don’t. “Maybe, but let’s eat. He… might be late.” A seat scrapes up to the table as I deliver a steaming plate to her.

“Do… do you think he’ll be angry again?” I’d gotten used to his volcanic temperance, but Sandra… she still had hope in her eyes, a touch of innocence in her mocha-colored face. If there’s one thing worth saving in this world, it’s whatever’s left of her childhood.

“I don’t know, Sand.” I try not to think about last night, when, for the umpteenth time, I cradled her head against my chest and covered her ears, or this morning, when I had to jump through hoops to keep her from seeing our mom’s bruises. I shake my head, jerking myself into the present, and point to her plate saying, “Eat your Brussels sprouts.”

She obliges, and I look at the cross above the doorway, wondering how God can say he loves all his children when, apparently, he has seven billion. My thinking is, once in a while, he misses somebody.

I hear a knock at the door, but I already know who it is. Motioning for Sandra to stay put, I walk to the door and open it.

“Evening, officers,” I say, keeping my solemn voice low.

“Mark Henderson?”

I nod. “Can I say goodbye to my sister?”

They nod, but follow me. Sandra’s watching from the kitchen doorway.

“What’s going on?”

“Sand, just… just listen. You’re gonna’ live with Aunt Ruth, I already packed your bags. This… this is for the best, ok?”

We hug, and she whimpers a bit as I pull away. I want to explain, but I can’t. Because sometimes, we do crazy things for the people we love, and she doesn’t need to know what I’ve done.


Walk with me from October 24-31 as I post some of my work in honor of Coffin Hop 2013. Some of this is quite old, some of it not–guess which is which, Traveler. Perhaps a right answer will earn a stroke of fortune for you…

For this tour, I’ll be giving away one signed anthology in which a story of mine has been featured. Which anthology is up to the winner. Keep in mind, I reserve the right to award additional gifts as per Coffin Hop rules. Who knows–if I get a lot of hits, you might see a lot of rewards in the future. Be sure to click the badge at the side of my page and visit the other Hoppers!

Oblivion by @AlexChaseWriter @CoffinHop 2013

Hello Travelers,

I don’t often write urban fantasy, but when I do…

Ok that’s partially a lie. I love the juxtaposition of urbanity and mythology. It’s in pretty much everything I write, in one way or another. I took some… liberties… with established lore though. This, of course, is just a piece of a 5000 word (or so) story. Be sure to let me know what you think!


“One single bullet, filled with such devastating magicks that it can erase from existence any creature through whom it’s fired… Erase everything they’ve ever done, erase them from memory, from any record in heaven or hell… I swear, Catherine, I will turn this upon the one who stole you from me, and I will ensure there isn’t a molecule left of them for me to despise,” I hiss, stroking my wedding band and kissing the barrel of The .52 Spear.

Some say the weapon was crafted by Darkness and Chaos, the only entities to pre-date God. Writhing in the light, they designed it in hopes that they could slay the Holy Father, the one who restrained them and instituted his will upon them. It is so powerful that only one bullet was made. Having no physical form, they could not fire it.

It was passed down to a mortal, then to that mortal’s children, and their children, and so on. The ethereal weapon, which weighed next to nothing, seemed to be the heaviest thing a person could hold. It was regarded with such fear that its mere presence on a battlefield could stop an army cold, sending the opposing forces to their knees in servitude to the ruler that wielded it. If a president were to be shot by its one bullet, all traces of him would be erased. His parents would not remember him. His people would not serve him. His land would belong to the one who destroyed him. The victim would be rent asunder, cast into the void where only unrelenting Chaos and eternal Darkness dwelled. Should the stories prove true, God could be slain, erasing all traces of Him, the Bible and His religions. The all-mighty are said to cower at the threat of such oblivion.

I, at barely twenty-six, am unemployed, a widower, and Damned.

And The Spear is mine.


Walk with me from October 24-31 as I post some of my work in honor of Coffin Hop 2013. Some of this is quite old, some of it not–guess which is which, Traveler. Perhaps a right answer will earn a stroke of fortune for you…

For this tour, I’ll be giving away one signed anthology in which a story of mine has been featured. Which anthology is up to the winner. Keep in mind, I reserve the right to award additional gifts as per Coffin Hop rules. Who knows–if I get a lot of hits, you might see a lot of rewards in the future. Be sure to click the badge at the side of my page and visit the other Hoppers!

Ashes to Ashes by @AlexChaseWriter @CoffinHop 2013

Hello Travelers,

This story is far too long to have posted here; it simply wouldn’t have been fair to you or the other Hoppers to expect you to read it. I’ll clue you in to the fact that this is an apocalyptic piece with some obvious subgenre work going on. Enjoy, my friends…


Dr. Calvin Dent rested his chin on his elbow and stared through the window at the front of Marie’s Coffee Emporium. It was a quaint little shop known for serving half-priced drinks to college students and weekly poetry slams, affordable and atmospheric, but not so much so that it would seem cheap or overpowering.

He watched vehicle after vehicle pass by without so much as slowing, then bit his lip and whipped out his phone. It was 9:20 in the morning, an early time for her, so she was probably running late. More importantly, it was her, so she might not show up at all.

Then she did. Jewel Alvarez stepped out of a beaten-up taxi and onto the cracked sidewalk. It had been two years, but he’d recognize her anywhere. Her light brown hair was stacked in a bun, but she’d left just enough free to frame her angular face. She had sunglasses on, even though the coffee shop’s side of the street was shaded. Though now into her mid-thirties, her body retained the lithe shape she’d developed in her youth, partially because she was athletic but also because she would often get so wrapped up in her work that she’d forget to eat. Jewel was the type of girl some men spent their lives dying for: shapely, exotic and out of their league.

Calvin enviously wished he could say the same. Though not particularly heavy, he had no muscle to speak of. His skin had a pasty hue from having spent the majority of his life inside. Add glasses to the mix and you’ve got the spitting image of a man whose mind was his greatest- and only- weapon. He wore a light jacket over a long-sleeved shirt, despite the temperate weather. No one had any idea how he’d managed to wind up with Jewel in the first place- he was almost certain he couldn’t pull that trick off a second time, but he was ready to try.

The tinkling of a bell announced her entry. She spied him and walked over. Jewel was dressed in her signature paint-stained jeans and a black t-shirt. Calvin had already pulled her chair out prior to her arrival. She smiled and removed her sunglasses as she sat across from him.

“Hello, Calvin.” Her voice was by no means melodious, but he could listen to it for hours.

“Hi, Jewel.” He realized with abject horror that he had no idea how to conduct such a meeting and fumbled for something to say.

“Thanks for the coffee,” she said, wrapping her hands around the steaming cup in front of her.

“N-no problem,” he chuckled nervously. “Do you still take it the same way you used to?” He paused, then stammered, “No! I mean, take your coffee? Do you like, you know, two creams, one sugar, in your drink, like before?”

She laughed as he blushed. “Yes, I still like it just like I used to.”

“Oh, good!” He breathed a sigh of relief. “Some things never change, huh?”

They stared at each other for a dangerous minute. For a moment, Calvin was sure she’d get up and walk off. He’d come on too strong, he was sure of it. He hadn’t meant to, but some things just slip out. Then again, she wouldn’t have met with him if she didn’t have SOME kind of feeling for him, right? But even so-

“Yeah, some things don’t.” Her voice was almost quiet enough to hide her feelings- but not quiet enough. “…I’m… glad you called, Calvin.”

He gave a half-smile. “I am too. …I guess I have trouble letting go, huh?”

“Sometimes, it’s ok to not let go,” She laid her hand on his, her thumb gently stroking the top of his palm. “How’s work been going?”

“It’s… oh, you know… space. It doesn’t change much, so… Well, actually, the sun has been giving off some strange readings lately, but we’re not sure what they mean yet.”

“Really?” She arched her brow and, to his shock, seemed genuinely interested. “I’d love to hear more.”

“I’d love to tell you,” he stared into the pools of amber and, like a prehistoric mosquito, found himself trapped by their depths. “How… is work, for you?” he managed to whisper. Her perfect lips curved up in an all-too-recognizable expression. Whenever something really, seriously great was happening, her face would inexorably shift to show off an impish grin.

“I’ve actually published two books: my first is on painting with ash, the second is on the human body as a canvas for artistic expression.”

“Painting with ash?” he tilted his head.

“Ash is… often overlooked. It is uniquely beautiful; it’s the remains of something that has perished in flame, but isn’t really a symbol of destruction. It’s a symbol of making way for something new, something greater, that will soon come to be. It’s like with forest fires; those fires only occur so new life can spring up in their wake.”


Walk with me from October 24-31 as I post some of my work in honor of Coffin Hop 2013. Some of this is quite old, some of it not–guess which is which, Traveler. Perhaps a right answer will earn a stroke of fortune for you…

For this tour, I’ll be giving away one signed anthology in which a story of mine has been featured. Which anthology is up to the winner. Keep in mind, I reserve the right to award additional gifts as per Coffin Hop rules. Who knows–if I get a lot of hits, you might see a lot of rewards in the future. Be sure to click the badge at the side of my page and visit the other Hoppers!

Better than Ever by @AlexChaseWriter @CoffinHop 2013

Hello Travelers,

For this one, I won’t tell you when I wrote it. Those who know my writing well enough should have an advantage, but let’s see if you can guess in the comment section. I’ll confirm soon enough who’s right… but until then, enjoy this most recent tale.


Vincent checked Penelope’s restraints, ensuring she wouldn’t thrash about and hurt herself. She was nude, but didn’t seem to mind. A fierceness radiated from her though it was a stark contrast to her withered, pale body.

“This process is going to hurt, do you understand that?”

She shot him a glare. “I know. I’m willing to take that risk. The benefits…”

“I know, they are tempting, but if you have even the slightest doubt, the entire process could fail.”

“Tempting?” She laughed, “don’t sell yourself short… you… if what you said is true, then you could turn a sick little wretch like me into a god.”

“You wouldn’t be a god, Penelope,” he chided, “and if successful you must take care not to let your superior state inflate your ego.”

“Don’t worry, I’m not the type to go power-crazy. I was a CEO in a Fortune 500 company before my final diagnosis, remember?”

“Yes, I’ve seen your file. That’s why I chose you.”

“Because I was a CEO? Isn’t that elitist?” She chuckled, “like I care either way.”

“No, because you have such a conglomerate of conditions that to heal them all through this process would be undeniable proof of its success. Now, if you don’t mind, we must get started.”

“Go ahead, Professor.”

Vincent stepped out of the test chamber and made his way to the sealed monitoring room. It had a wide, shatter-proof window through which he could observe the entire process. He began flipping a few switches. After his computer began displaying Penelope’s vitals, he pressed a nearby button.

The ceiling opened up, metal pieces separating and revealing a device the size of a small car. It was adorned with a series of lasers mean to manipulate her body on a genetic level.

The smaller lasers emitted a variety of colors that began etching their way across her skin. Her heart began to race as she began to twitch and contort herself. Other monitors showed Penelope in closer detail. Her mouth was set in a hard line; sweat broke out upon her brow.

Even if she hadn’t been moving, it would have been easy to see the changes her body was going through. Muscle began to bulge and return to a healthy size. Her skin blushed. Her mouth was no longer a white line but plump and pink. Vincent thumbed through her file to a picture from 2006, before she began her chemotherapy. Penelope was beginning to look like that young, healthy self again.

Seeing the machine was reaching the peak of the alterations, he reached over and flicked two adjacent switches.

Three scythe-like portions extended down from the center of the machine. A thin tube emerged from the center of these blades as they began to spin. They began whirling, making a circle above Penelope. Thin blue arcs of electricity began dancing between the blades and the main portion of the machine.

A brilliant white ray shot from the center tube and down into Penelope’s abdomen.

Penelope screamed, thrashing against her bonds. “Let me out! What are you doing to me?” Her agony reverberated off the steel walls, prompting Vincent to look with more care at the monitors.

Penelope’s muscles were seething and shaking beneath her skin. They were twice the size they’d been a few moments ago. Her skin was beginning to tear apart, blood spurting from the open wounds. The more delicate microphones could register her bones breaking beneath the strain of her growth.

Vincent began cursing himself for not building an emergency deactivation protocol. There was nothing he could do. He watched as bone spurs grew through her body, jutting out from her torso, her limbs, even her neck. Blood poured down her arms and legs. Penelope struggled to free herself, managing to slip her hands from her bonds, but she had grown at such a rate that she couldn’t

She was steadily growing taller, but Vincent knew this could not last. Her chest began breaking open, her ribs parting to expose her racing heart. Vincent blanched as her heart burst, showering the machine in blood. She reached up towards the racing machine, shaking as the remainder of her blood gushed to the ground.

The spinning blades dug into her tormented flesh, tearing it to ribbons. It pulled her entire body off of the table, shredding it and flinging the pieces across the room. Her skull was thrown into the observation window with such force that a series of thin cracks twisted away from the impact.

Vincent gaped, eyes wide as the shrill whine of the heart rate monitor rubbed in the atrocity he’d committed. His hands experienced violent tremors as he reached for some nearby switches. He deactivated his monitors and sent the machine back into its storage area in the ceiling.

With the whine silenced, Vincent noticed the slithering. It was a thin, fleshy sound that made his skin crawl. Looking about the test chamber, he saw every individual scrap of scattered flesh forcing their way up a wall and into an air vent. He turned and raced for the door. Bleeding scraps of muscle had clamped the door shut.

Vincent fell back against his machines as Penelope reassembled in front of him. Torn muscle clung to severed sinews. Her organs were missing; it was easy to see this, as Penelope’s skin had been left behind. He had a growing realization that she didn’t need her skin anymore.

The macabre woman glided towards Vincent, reaching out her hand. It extended from her body, stretching across the room to caress his face. As she did this, he felt her force the hand down his throat and begin to tear him apart from the inside. He gagged as he felt her acidic flesh sliding across his tongue.

Vincent stared into her bulging eyes during his last moment. A lipless smile danced across Penelope’s face. “What did you say about not becoming a God?”


Walk with me from October 24-31 as I post some of my work in honor of Coffin Hop 2013. Some of this is quite old, some of it not–guess which is which, Traveler. Perhaps a right answer will earn a stroke of fortune for you…

For this tour, I’ll be giving away one signed anthology in which a story of mine has been featured. Which anthology is up to the winner. Keep in mind, I reserve the right to award additional gifts as per Coffin Hop rules. Who knows–if I get a lot of hits, you might see a lot of rewards in the future. Be sure to click the badge at the side of my page and visit the other Hoppers!

“The Dragonfly Story” by @AlexChaseWriter @CoffinHop 2013

Hello Travelers,

I wrote this… I’ll be honest, I have no idea when I wrote this or what my intention for it was. The piece is unfinished, but I was so enamored with some of what I’ve said here that, if I get enough positive feedback, I’ll be sure to finish it. Luckily, my past self left me one enigmatic hint by saving this as “The Dragonfly Story.” I don’t know what that means, but, enjoy this snippet, Friends.


Few humans are ever blessed with knowing what a gift their body is. Most only gain such an appreciation after they’ve lost a part of it. I am no exception

If anyone had attempted to tell me how strange my life would become, I would have laughed aloud and called the police to report an escaped mental patient. If I had been told a mere twenty-four hours ago that I would become like this, I would’ve had the same reaction.

My story begins, I suppose, with an event so mundane that it stands in stark and shocking juxtaposition to the details that are to follow. Almost one year ago, I was riding the bus, which usually took me from my apartment to a stop less than a block from my office at Lexington and West, LLC., when it missed a regular turn and meandered into a less savory part of town.

I pulled the cable to signal that I needed to leave only to find that the driver was new and was not aware of what such a signal meant. I approached the driver and explained the situation; he was courteous enough to stop the bus and kick me out while only shouting a few mild expletives at me.

My boss, Joel Lexington, didn’t seem to care that the error wasn’t mine. According to him, the fact that I had only graduated law school a few months prior meant that I was easily replaced. I hung up in the sad, slow manner of one whose only options are to accept defeat graciously or rebel like a child who tries not to sleep. I sighed, knowing how futile it would be to fight to regain my position.

Though I considered myself a local, I had no knowledge of where I was. I escaped the blistering heat of the sun by vanishing into a nearby Starbucks. I took one look at the woman by the counter and forgot my woes.

I do not know if it was love, but I do know I was utterly captivated. She had the eyes of a wolf– smooth and beautiful yet fierce and unrelenting. I couldn’t look away. My heart began to throb erratically as her gaze fell upon me. I prayed that I would die in that instant so that I could say I passed while looking upon the most beautiful sight in the world.

She noticed me and, upon realizing that I’d been entranced by her beauty, smiled. It was a smile of gentle violence, of a complete, actualized nihilism. It was so beautiful, yet so broken. It startled me to find that she was beautiful because she was broken, as if her mistakes and flaws were greater than the virtue and grace of any other being.


Walk with me from October 24-31 as I post some of my work in honor of Coffin Hop 2013. Some of this is quite old, some of it not–guess which is which, Traveler. Perhaps a right answer will earn a stroke of fortune for you…

For this tour, I’ll be giving away one signed anthology in which a story of mine has been featured. Which anthology is up to the winner. Keep in mind, I reserve the right to award additional gifts as per Coffin Hop rules. Who knows–if I get a lot of hits, you might see a lot of rewards in the future. Be sure to click the badge at the side of my page and visit the other Hoppers!