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!

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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!

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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!

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“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…

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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!

The Other by @Sotet_Angyal @penofthedamned


Hello Travelers,

I love the phrase ‘significant other’ for many reasons. One of which is that it implies there are insignificant others, lovers who represent such a small part of our own existence that we could utterly forget about them.

Similarly, it means there are Others who are bound to us with no regard to significance at all. But does that make their existence more or less meaningful? Let’s see what the Dark Angel of Pen of the Damned has to say about that…

The Other.

Down In A Hole by @tyrkieran @penofthedamned


Hello Travelers,

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? These long roads have kept me away for some time as I pursued my various projects. One or two, unfortunately, have been, how shall we say… dead… ends.

However, it is my distinct pleasure to bring you Tyr Kieran’s “Down in a Hole”. At times, we must use all of our power to do what we think we must. But what qualifies as something we ‘must’ do? Is it something that makes us more than human? Or does our doing it make us less so?

Take a moment to see what Tyr thinks of this matter…

Down In A Hole.

Tender is a Cupcake by @JosephAPinto


Hello Travelers,

Good parenting seems to be a rare thing in today’s society, and this is truly a shame. The thing about writers, though, is that when one creates a work with real passion, that emotional strength carries in every line.

Please take a moment to read Tender is a Cupcake and celebrate Joseph’s love for his daughter.

Wishing you the best,
Alex

Tender is a Cupcake.

Visions of the Reaper by @demonauthor @penofthedamned


Hello Travelers,

Today, I’d like to extend a warm (or should I say icy-cold?) welcome to the newest Pen of the Damned member, Dan Dillard, the Demon Author. While I am not personally a member, I am a fan, and look forward to future installments of his spine-chilling work.

I assure you, Travelers, that you will too, so check it out. It’s not like doing so will kill you… right?

 

Visions of the Reaper.