What Has Been Done…

I noticed the way she looks at me again today. The look of a blank stare, but it is not a blank stare. It is as if she is trying to tell me something that words could never really say. I see it in her eyes. Those cold green eyes. They appear almost gray as though something is hidden in them. Ten years I have stared into these eyes. Ten years I have study these particular eyes. I have watched as she has gone from child to woman and it is as though nothing has ever changed. Ten years of failure. Ten years of silence. I’ve run every test possible up to this point. Everything in the book just to hear her speak. Electroshock therapy, two electrodes attached to her head and enough electrical current to wake the dead. Not a god damn peep. If it wasn’t for her pulse and her eyes, I would’ve ruled her dead years ago. I fought tooth and nail to keep her after she turned eighteen. The state told me she had served her time. I argued that she still needs to server more, but like this? Was it worth it?

Her crimes though not as extensive as the others leave a lot to the imagine nation as to why. Why a child would commit such a crime? A silent hour every week for ten years and I am not any closer to finding out the answer. Her eyes motionless as if she is trying to tell me something. Maybe it is a neurological condition? No, I’ve tested that and came up with nothing. She chooses not to say anything at all. Ten years and I have never heard her voice. Witness, the neighbors claim to have heard her scream awakening them from a dead sleep. A scream like a siren only to stop. Replaced with silence. Imagine my jealousy to these complete strangers. Her eyes tease me like a loaded gun. Her eyes so innocent, so green, could they really have comprehended what she had done? Could anyone?

Could anyone understand fully the act of killing their parents? Witness testified that she was often beaten. Appeared to have bruises, black eyes, cuts all over her body. Never enough to raise alarm, but enough to noticed. The scars though faint are still there. Proved to be self-inflicted. Even at such a young age. What all her parents had done to protect her from herself is lost to time, but what she did has been well documented. The simplest of them all murder. The more complex. The ones I want to know, to understand? Hidden behind those eyes.

How does a child carefully remove the skin of a person? Let alone their own parents? I know surgeons.  Doctors paid to be precise every day and every time. Even they do not understand how a child could be so methodic in one’s actions. A pile of skin laid on the floor as she began the real work, she had set out to do. As one police officer stated in their report, “The organs were laid out. Laid out on display like we had to do in basic training for our rifles. Laid there ready to be put back in if need be.” Their husk like bodies resting on the floor.  

No, a child could not understand what they have done? Or could they? None of it makes any sense. The answers I seek sits before me waiting to be discovered. No evil in sight only a blank stare. Yet she sits before me. A child capable of tearing apart her whole family. A child who shaped the bones of her parents to that of some kind of monster. A child who took the skin of her mother from the floor and wore it like a costume until the police arrived. What kind of evil truly lives behind those green eyes?

Valerie Hannigan

My eyes are brown just so you know and why the hell would anyone want to dress up like their mother? It is unsettling enough knowing that I am slowly becoming like her.

West End Love for All the East End Girls…

“So, are we doing this or what?” He asks me for the thirteenth time in the last five minutes. “We need to do this,” he reminds me once again. “We or you need to do this?” I ask barely looking away from my phone. “I’ll slap that thing right out of your hands,” he threatens. “I’m sure you will,” I sigh but I’m not putting away my phone. “Look you need to do this. You are in a rut,” he pauses rethinking his words. “No, you are stuck in some ditch in the middle of nothing town,” he declares. Should have thought harder I think to myself. “Well, I’m not stuck anywhere. I am choosing to be in the middle of nothing town because I want to be,” I let him know. “No one chooses to be in nothing town. Someone chooses it for them or they are there by happenstance,” he tries to recover. “Fun fact I am someone and this is where I have chosen to be,” I say in an abrupt tone signaling I am done with this conversation.

“Okay fine, I need this,” he concedes. “Now will you come with me?” I shake my head no.  “I need a second you know that,” he whines. “I’m not dragging my ass across town. I’m just not,” I proclaim once again. “I’m not shitting where I eat,” he admits. “Never stopped you before. I’m pretty sure your bathroom is right next to the dining area in that trash apartment,” I joke. But then I realize what this is really about. I have the nicer apartment. What a little snake, I think to myself. “Okay, you have me there. Correction I have shit too much where I eat. Is that better,” he smiles trying to get on my good side. “Didn’t we just go out the other night?” I ask deciding on a different way to get out of this other than pointing out I am better off than him. “Yeah, but you are single now. So, we can go out more. Maybe even twice a week,” he suggests. “Twice a week?” I ask my eyes growing wide. “That’s pushing it don’t you think?”

Before I know it I am driving his ass to the other side of town to haunt the usual spots. We don’t come here much anymore and for good reason. He tries to hand me a bottle from under his jacket. “Are you kidding me right now?” I ask pissed off. “Do you have any idea how many cops are staked out on this side of town,” I bark. “That’s what makes it even more fun,” he tells me before taking a swig. I shake my head as he puts the cap back on. “Just a little pre-gaming,” he smirks putting the bottle back in his inside jacket pocket. “You need to learn to find your center without alcohol,” I tell him. “Yes, Master,” he claps his hands together and lowers his head. Not amused I keep on driving and ignoring him. “I’m seeing a lot of ladies that should be having my baby,” he quotes excited behind the glass. If he wasn’t my only friend I wouldn’t hang out with him either.

“No one should be having any of your children ever, Jackson.” That is a fact for a lifetime. “It’s lyrics to a song. I don’t literally want a child, ever,” he rolls his eyes in annoyance at my lack of excitement for this evening. “Could you imagine?” He asks staring out the window. “I mean how does someone like me, like us, not literally carve the child right out of the womb?” He ponders into his reflection. His voice turning cold as it often does at times like these. “Could you imagine how boring it would be to wait for the thing to come out? Then have to actively try to keep it alive,” he shivers. “Plenty of our kind do it all the time,” I remind him. “Yeah, because they don’t know what they are,” he says turning to me. “I take it you have decided?” I ask looking over to him. “Yeah, I think I have,” he returns his gaze to the streets. “Let’s get ourselves a pregnant one,” he grins. His sinister smile reflecting back to him in the rolled up window.

Layne Ambrose

Beyond the End…

“Despite purified air, despite not going out for months, despite no human contact in over a year, and despite a diet balanced out to be everything that my body needs. I have become sick. I have become infected with something I have to silently suffer with. Alone and isolated I lost everything and yet I still managed to pack everything for this exact scenario. I have planned every possible outcome of everything. The architect of my own demise. How could I have been so careless? They warned me long ago but I didn’t listen. I didn’t think it was possible. Chasing darkness into the night. Should have known better. Should have been better than to question the idea of immorality. I dreamed of immorality but what is it really? It is nothing more than infinite knowledge and a never-ending legacy of pain and sorrow. Threw it all away. Should have let the idea of death take over. Would I be human then if I had?

I am well suited for immorality since anything that mattered died a long time ago. I’ve given up on the idea of humanity. Become more like God than I’d like to admit. I am as if I am immortal though only time will tell how long it will last. Time and days are a human idea. Immorality and life are God ideas, but where and what are you when stuck in between the crossroads of God and man? I can create and destroy anything I wish by shaping this reality. Shaping another’s reality. I am my own God and my own savior, but will I also be my own end? The question fills my heart with no answers. The isolation proves theories I thought were only myths. There is no God greater than the sun. There is nothing beyond the stars but more darkness. There is no true meaning of life beyond the end. Not when we can control it ourselves. I’ve unleashed the end of all things to come. Now is the time for me to enjoy the end. For we are our own damn God’s.”

“End of transmission,” the computer states. “But there is no body?” A solider questions. His uniform the same as the rest. “Then we have to assume he is still out there. We must find him. As long as he lives, he holds the power to end it all,” his superior says. “So, it is true then. He is the source. He is the God of all of us?” The young solider questions. “There is no God only the devil. This man is no architect of our creation or our end,” their leader barks. “He is nothing more than a virus. A sickness we have been trained and created to get rid of. We will find him and put a stop to all of this. Now let’s move out,” he orders. 

Valerie Hannigan

A Story Never Told…

“What the hell are you even doing up at this hour?” A voice asks with a yawn. I bang on the door harder and harder. “Ain’t no one want to see you in there. Hell, I see you and I don’t even want to,” the homeless man moans. “Shut up you stupid vagrant. As a matter of fact, someone in there really does want to see me,” I inform him. “Oh, really? That why you have been out here for a better part of an hour messing up my sleep? The only fact I see around here is that no one wants your ass around. So, why don’t you go ahead and give it a rest and I can get some myself. Got an early morning believe it or not. I’m a very busy man,” the homeless man mumbles into his filth ridden pillow.

I stop banging on the door and I’m ready to bang on something else. I raise my fists, “One more word old man and I’ll see to it that you get plenty of rest.” The homeless man giggles. He giggles at me. I can feel my anger and frustration rising. “Don’t go starting trouble when troubles already found you. Take my advice. I didn’t end up here by design,” the man preaches. I start to take the steps down to his garbage bed when a familiar sweet voice takes a hold. “He’s right you know?” Her voice cutting through the commotion. All I wanted from her was an acknowledgement that I was even there. “I’ll ring you in. I guess we need to talk,” she says from the second-floor window. I turn back towards the door.

“Are you sure Miss Kelly?” The vagrant asks. “Of course, she is sure,” I snap at the man. “There you go starting trouble again. I ain’t afraid of you. Honestly, I ain’t got nothing left to lose,” the homeless man smiles a toothless grin before putting up his fists. “Yes, I’m sure Frank, but if I change my mind,” she begins to say. “I’ll be right here miss Kelly,” Frank finishes for her. She smiles and moves away from the window. Moments later I hear the sound of the door buzzing and I head inside. Frank lies back down on his makeshift bed, “Can’t get no peace and quiet. Thoughts this was a good neighborhood. God damn kids with their pointless drama. You want a challenge. Try washing your ass with no water. That right there is a situation.”

I ascend the stairs rapidly. A flight of stairs in an instant. There is much to say and who knows how long to say it. The door is cracked and waiting for me when I get there. I take in a large breath. Be cool Miles. Be cool I tell myself one more time before knocking on the door. She is waiting just on the other side as I enter. “May I ask what is so important you have to disturb me and the whole neighborhood at 3 am?” She starts right at the door way. There are so many things that I want to say. All at once, but only one thing I should say. “I’m sorry.”  

“Sorry for what? What you did or disturbing everyone? Because only one of those things can be fixed with an, I’m sorry,” she says. “I’m sorry for all of it. I’m sorry I’m here so late disturbing you and everyone else. I’m sorry for what I did earlier. I’m sorry for a lot of things,” I say searching for my words. “Yes, you should be,” she informs me watching my reaction. “I’m afraid, your sorry has come too late. Unfortunately, the words are useless at this point and are no longer any good here,” she pauses for a moment to let it sink in. Her eyes trapping the light from the hallway within. Her eyes look different than the times before. Something so different than the times before.

“Kelly please,” I interrupt. “Kelly please what? Forgive you again and again? Damnit Miles you can’t just keep messing up and thinking I will forgive you later for it. You can only play a song so many times before it becomes background noise,” her eyes like fire now. I step closer to her. I let her speak her mind and now I have to try the one move I have left. If I can get her in my arms, I know she will change her mind. I’m greeted by an open hand on my chest, “Not this time Miles. We are done,” she says sternly. “This is the last time I swear,” I reach for the hand on my chest. She quickly moves it away before I can even touch her one last time.

“You said that two times ago and every time before. Let me say this so you understand. I am done and this is the last time I am going to tell you.” She locks eyes with me. “But?” I try to say. I’m at a loss of words. “It’s time for you to leave and I’m not asking. I’m telling you,” she commands with her finger extended towards the stairs. I look her in the eyes one last time before doing as I was told. There comes a time in any battle where winning is losing either way. I put us here and know damn well I’ll only do it again. There is only one thing to do. I turn and walk my new path. I hear the door close behind me and the door’s lock click over as I reach the stairs. “I didn’t mean it,” I say to an empty audience. From behind the door, she breathes a heavy, “I know,” before her held back tears fall to the ground.

I leave the apartment building at the slowest of speeds. Lost in thought. What have I done this time? What have I given up for nothing? Questions I only have excuses for but no answers. I pass by the vagrant known only as Frank. “Out on your ass I see. You ain’t the only one. Join the club as they say,” he lets out a small laugh. The street goes silent as I walk down the block. A coldness washes over me from inside. Where I am to go from here. I really don’t know.

M.T. Billings

Wait and See…

I’m startled awake confused as to where I am and where I should be. I can feel the bang of the door as much as I think I can hear it. “I’m going already. Give it a rest,” I shout but they don’t care. The door rattles with every strike. Must mean something to bang this damn long. I try to get up and at first it seems that I am having the hardest of times. Everything seems out of place in my brain as I. There’s no other way to describe what happens to me next. No way other than I rise up? A ghostly outline of my former self. Neither here nor there or anywhere to be exact. I watch over my lifeless shell. Who I used to be? Who I am now? Who I will be forever? Confusion doesn’t even begin to explain the feelings of everything that is happening. My door bursts open. No more banging. 

The first emergency responder to rush into my tiny studio apartment seems as though he is caught between two places. Nervousness and excitement flashes across his face in a slow motion that plays out in rapid speed. His partner half a step behind him. Their heavy bags land with a thud next to my bed, next to me. What is left of me? One of them picks up the phone next to my vessel’s hand. Says a few words I cannot understand as I once did, and hangs up the phone. The other man searches for a pulse. Finding nothing of course they begin chest compressions. The difference between life and whatever this is, is only a second but I imagine every second counts at this point. I imagine what is left of my time counts for something when a life is on the line. Try as they might the only fight left is the battle within themselves. They aren’t willing to let go. Not like my body has. I’ve made my peace as I watch them fail. As I watch the needle fall from my arm and onto the floor. I’ve made my peace I think though it would seem that I haven’t. A by stander to my own end and a shitty narrator to my new beginning.

If God is real, he is nothing more than a trickster. Proving a point that only the dead could understand. Even if everything feels like a dream or a shitty nightmare played out in my head. Is this real? Is this the high or something else? The two EMTs fight and fight to bring me back. I wonder why I didn’t do the same. Why do they care so much when I didn’t? I want to make them stop. Tell them thank you but I did this, and it is what I deserve. We die, I died, the end. What’s really left to say? A lifeless corpse with shit in his veins. How else was this going to end? Is this the way I wanted it? Sure, why not? Had to happen at some point or another. Death waits for no one or nothing. More so when you play with it like I have. This is what I deserve and they don’t deserve to watch it all fold out. Embracing my new beginning. Embracing what comes next it would appear that this was all only a warning. A second look at what it is that I have done. Something draws me back to my vessel. Tells me to lay back down. Not a thought or an idea the feeling is beyond my understanding to explain. I do what it is I feel I must.

Maybe if I lie back down. Lay perfectly still the two parts will become whole once more? Nothing left to lose any more. I try to recreate the position my body is in on the bed. What comes next is nothing short of a rebirth. The feeling of waking up after a long slumber as I spring back to life. Gasping for air and for the first time in what feels like forever I feel it. I feel it all. The tears flow down my face as I look into their eyes. Euphoric at first and then nothing but pain. Startled and relieved I grab the collar of the EMT closest to me, “Thank you.” Thank you is all I have to say. Thank you for what however we will just have to wait and see.

Valerie Hannigan

I’ve never done drugs nor have I ever been on the verge of death. I don’t know anyone who has almost died or died and then came back. This isn’t a very personal story though I suppose it could be. Because I may not know of anyone who has died and came back. I do know a drug addict or two. We don’t speak. Don’t need that shit around my children or in my life. No one needs that garbage in their lives. Life is never easy and why anyone would want to make it any harder than it already is, is beyond me. People will do what they do though for whatever reason they think they should do it. I’m not above it myself. I’m not better than every other walking asshole on earth. I got my own set of problems that need to be dealt with on a daily basis. Reflection and thinking past the now is the only advice I can give. It is the only thing that works for me. Could I use an escape? A fucking break from the chaos that is my children? I bet their little souls I could. The now. But when the vacation is over? When their soulless bodies are resting in my arms. What new chaos am I facing? How will my life be then? Peaceful.

Got lost in a fantasy there for a second. My life would be shit. Still here, but a little worse. Do it again and again, and what do you think will be left? Everyone wants to run away from their problems. But no matter how far you run they are still going to be right there. Dealing with them, accepting the challenge is the only way to get over them. Not the easiest of solutions. Not what anyone wants to hear. Cheat codes are the best way to play any video game until you’ve rode out the codes for everything they are. Then that game is trash and all you want is something new. The game isn’t what you can do at the end, but what we did to get there. Or something like that…

Beginning of All Things to End…

“Things went from bad to worse,” he says as they walk down the long corridor. “What do you mean?” One of his colleagues asks. “Most importantly they are being taken to the facility right now to insure there will be a future them,” he says ignoring the question all together. “Doesn’t matter there won’t be,” another colleague responds. They move quickly through the corridor making sure no one sees them. “Sure, maybe not now but twenty or thirty years from now when they have figured it out. It will be the end of the world,” the leader lays out. They arrive at an unmarked door. Looking around he inserts his key card, “Quickly we don’t have much time. The cameras have already alerted them, I’m sure.”

The three of them enter the room. “We need to erase whatever we can,” the leader says. “What are we even really doing here?” One of them asks. They walk through the stacks of tanks. Each one containing what looks to be a fetus. “Trust me they won’t have cloning figured out by then. Cloning doesn’t work now and by the time it does it’ll be two hundred or more years from now. And even by then none of them will be relevant beyond history books,” a colleague states unsure of his own predictions. “Exactly, we need to stop them now. These are all nothing more than failures. But the potential each container contains. This is where it all starts. This is where we have to make our stand,” the leader assures them.

“Your fear of that future is irrelevant. Some other monster will take their place,” one of them proclaims. They begin pulling electrical board after board as the tanks switch to back up power. “We will impact the next fifty years by our actions today. We fucked up already letting them go into hiding. Who knows exactly how much information they were able to collect behind our backs?” The leader admits. “Doesn’t matter they won’t have us when all this is over. The others will find them and do their part. Same as before. This won’t be over but you’re right we can slow it down.”

The lights begin to flash as the backup systems trigger from the disturbance. “We are in the final moments of our chance to do your part. Destroy whatever you can,” the leader orders. They split up and rush through the room pulling board after board. Quickly they pull what they can as they hear the door open and the boots of their oppressors marching through. “Use extreme force,” they hear someone order before they hear the sound of bullets breaking glass. The sounds of screaming and death soon to follow.

The floor becomes saturated in more than just blood as the last one of the resistances takes their final breath. A solider walks over to their dying body. “If you do the devil’s work then you are,” a bullet to the head silences the room. “Sweep the room, recover the bodies, and report back,” the solider orders. The others do as they are told. Dragging the bodies of the dead to the center of the room. The sound of the door opening again fills the room. The sound of footsteps on glass follows.

“Report,” a man in a white coat demands. “All deserters accounted for and terminated. Zero causalities on our side. They were unarmed. Damage unknown. Believed to be minimal,” the solider reports. “Good job. Could have been executed sooner, but good job none the less,” the man in the coat says. “Thank you, sir,” the solider responds. “Now if we can figure out how they were able to bypass their programming?” The man in the white coat questions out loud.

M.T. Billings

Passions…

“So here we are once again. You with the gun and me with the hostage. Who do you think is going to win this time? Me or you?” The madman with the barrel pressed against the victim’s head ponders out loud. “Things may seem like you’ve got the upper hand, but I’ve got something you don’t,” the half-naked, half blown up, and one hundred percent out of patience hero says. “Oh, and what’s that?” The villain pulls the hammer back on the gun. “A chance.”

“Can you shut that shit off already?” She moans. “How can you even watch this crap?” She asks letting me know she isn’t going to stop without an answer. “Why do you do that? Why do you have to interrupt all of the best parts?” I ask. The sound of me hitting the space bar fills the room. “The best parts? What could have possibly been the best part of a movie that failed to get one star?” She badgers. “I don’t know maybe when he pulls a gun out of nowhere and shots him off the building like in Harder To Die, Than To Live,” I answer. “Wait so you’re telling me the best part of a film is a copycat scene from a film you’ve already seen?” She mocks me. “Well madam it’s not a complete copy since that would be illegal. It will be different to a point though overall the same scene in a sense. Plus, this one didn’t go to theaters and is unrated. Which basically means there will be more blood and the fact that the hostage is a woman means there is a good chance of a topless scene. All of this could add up to a better or worse ending than the “same scene” in another movie,” I explain. “You’ve got to be kidding me, right?” She looks more annoyed than confused. “I didn’t invent the male brain. I was just born with one,” I smile.

She sighs in disgust. “What would you rather watch another movie about two people falling in love after overcoming some stupid obstacle?” I ask her. “Of course, at least they are original,” she says. “Original? Right let’s see the last one we watched was about some couple who fell in love, but then the lady had a dog which just so happens the man is afraid of so, they spend the next hour getting over that. The one before that was about two people too afraid to leave their house though they fall in love over the internet so, they spend the next hour and half getting over that. An hour and a half wondering if they will ever be able to be together through this dire situation that is somehow too impossible to get over. How are either one of those movies not the same?” I question. “That last one won an Oscar by the way so, what do you know?” She says defensively. “How can a movie about nothing get any sort of reward?” I mock. “It got six, but that is beside the point,” she tries to play off. “Nothing happens for almost two hours,” I won’t let the point die. “You try making the hottest actress in Hollywood look ugly and then you tell me you didn’t take a chance,” she rolls her eyes as though I am the ignorant one in this situation. “They put a bump on her nose and she was still hot. They could have lit her head on fire and put her in a full body cast, and she still be hot. Changing one thing about someone is not taking a chance,” I protest. “Neither is watching a movie because there might be a topless scene or more blood,” she protests back. The screen goes black.

“How can you watch this shit?” An angel with giant white wings asks. “What are you talking about? There is so much passion over nothing. How could I the Lord not watch?” A figure of immense light and a voice that could crack the sky asks right back. “I don’t know maybe because there are about seven billion and growing other issues you could address. I mean it is all the same thing. Over and over about nothing at all. Couldn’t there be anything else you could do today? I just don’t get it,” the angel tries to reason. “What’s the point of being a God if you can’t enjoy your own creations?” The question hangs in the air. 

Valerie Hannigan

I Awake with Bruised Eyes and Hollowed Out Lies…

I look at the world around me, seven minutes freezing cold under the blankets covered in sweat, flashing ideas of the night before, and how I passed out drunk once again. I awaken with burning, stinging, sleepless eyes. The same two eyes I carry with me everywhere I go. I awake with a sense of belonging and at the same time a longing for something else. Awaken but yet I must still be dreaming. Dreaming for something better or something worse my day hasn’t been decided yet. I awake to the uncomfortable feeling of my dick harder than it needs to be. It stands at full attention looking for any attention. Either from me or anyone willing to kill some time. Ready to release one more load or another gallon of piss. The bed is empty and my hands aren’t interested.  The decision no longer up to my brain, but in a gateway smaller than I can imagine. Buried deep inside past the over complicated network of nerves and stretched skin. Made of flesh and blood as is the rest of me. This is every morning. This is a constant. These are the early morning things I think about and I do not know why. Discomfort first and ask questions later.

The bad taste that has slipped into my mouth overnight doesn’t go away even after I try to brush it out or smoke in a replacement taste. My teeth hurt like they have been grinding away layer by layer all night. It’s the little stresses that kill you not the big stuff. It is the little stuff that slowly eats you alive. Taking this and taking that but in the end, they take everything anyway. If you are one of the lucky ones you won’t even notice the discomfort. I notice every little instance and yet I let it happen. Hell, I join in on the pleasure every now and then. Daily. I smoke another with the taste still very much intact. I didn’t need another one, but at this point what is one more? One more nail, one more stake in the heart. Tiny needles pressing against my chest cavity heading for my soul. It wasn’t the taste or even my cock that woke me up today. Woke me up earlier than even death would allow. No, it was a dream, a light version of a nightmare that is my life.

My dream, nightmare, inner vision was about my grandmother. A devil of a woman whom without I wouldn’t be standing here today. Allegedly, there is no scientific facts to back up these claims. I hate my grandmother she was a bitch. Therapy could help me describe my true inner feelings better, but she’d still be a bitch. In the dream she pretends to be a sleep as my grandfather rattles off a list of shit she wants for dinner. He has exact instructions on what she wants and how she wants it to be. Treated like a slave in life and in my dreams. I feel bad for my grandfather. It was no wonder he went a little crazy. It was no wonder they found him in possession of a trunk full of dead cats and a collection of women’s underwear. Luckily it didn’t go any further than that or you might have heard of him. He lives in a cozy little place far removed from society now. Better but he is basically dead. No more dead than the rest of us mind you, but dead enough.

“This but not that. Make sure you get it right or else,” he says in my mind and my dream. Or what the fat bitch is going to get her lazy ass out of bed and kick your ass? She hasn’t left that bed by choice in maybe a year. I’d like to say, but even in my dreams conversations with myself always seem one-sided. He rubs lotion across already weeping wounds. Bed sores left out in the open to fester and farm the guilt of anyone willing to help her. I can see her while she fakes being asleep. Patiently listening to make sure he plays his part as always. His hands kneading the folds of her skin. Sick to my stomach at even the thought. He says one more thing before I awoke, “We know you’re capable of so much more, but we also know you always screw up.” The sound of wet flesh as he sticks his hand deeper into the folds. Elbow deep my mind couldn’t take anymore.

What do you think that the dream meant? I hope it means that she is or will be dying all over again, but she is already dead. Not a loss or a gain just more of the nothing that fills this world. I shouldn’t waste my thought on people that don’t matter, didn’t matter, or don’t care. The brain doesn’t work like that though. They still find their way through long after they have gone away. Slip their way through the cracks no one knew were even there. Tears in the walls they work their way through and leave nothing but rubble behind. How could anyone know what someone else is capable of when they don’t even know themselves? Two turns into another and the ash tray slowly fills up as I watch it grow.

A gun fight erupts outside, a flood down the street drowns hundreds, and yet I sit staring at a screen looking for answers. The noises of life all around me. How am I to live with so many distractions? The hopes, wants, and needs that will always go unfulfilled. There is a need in me to start over again. To walk away and try something different. Every morning the same old thoughts. Hindered by a sense of reason. Each day passes and I bury myself deeper. Living a life without purpose doesn’t leave me much of a reason to do anything different. Drinking doesn’t help any of this go away. Suicide comes easy when the present is only for a moment but the past lasts a life time. Still enough time to jerk off before I have to do anything that is supposed to matter. Still too early to start drinking once again. Too restless to think of anything else. Sitting and waiting is all I seem capable of.

M.T. Billings

I don’t like breaking down my writing so I’m not going to. I say how I feel and that is that. Is it fiction? Not at first, but given enough time and space. It becomes fiction for me. Give it enough time and everything will go away.

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“What do you mean you don’t understand?” She asks as if there is really some secret to her madness. “I just don’t get it. First you say I have to go, and now that I want to go, you’re telling me I can’t go as if I have a real choice in the matter,” he huffs frustrated. “Well, I just don’t want you there, okay?” She doesn’t even bother looking at him. “Why? Because it is some sort of girl thing?” He questions to her absent face. “It’s my bachelorette party so yes, it is a girl’s only type of thing,” she points out looking at him. “I’m going to be there for the marriage so is it really that big of a deal that I go to the party?” He asks annoyed. “It’s a huge deal Steven. This party is for me not you,” she whines.

“Well, it’s kind of for me too,” he interjects into her pity party. “No, it does not have anything to do with you. It is my party and I really don’t want you there,” she lays out. “There’s no reason to get upset at me Stacy. It’s not my fault things worked out this way. It’s hard enough that you’re getting married and I’m still single,” he tries to explain. “Well how do you think I feel about? Don’t you think that this whole situation is even more stressful to me? Regardless though you’re not coming and that is final,” she holds firmly.

“So, what am I supposed to do? Sit outside? Where is this stupid party even at?” He questions rolling his eyes to the thought of it all. “My party’s not stupid and it’s going to be here at the house which means you are going to have to sit behind the curtain,” she informs him. “Sounds like a blast,” he says sarcastically. “Is Stan at least going to be here?” He asks quickly hopeful that he won’t be alone. “What part of it’s a girl thing are you not understanding?” She moans out of annoyance. “I’m so glad we don’t have to share a brain,” she sighs. “Nope just a stomach and a kidney,” he says with a slight sneer. “And for your information I was asking if Stan was going to be on the other side of the curtain with me,” he defends.

“Okay well still no,” she exaggerates. “Stan will be at his own party because that is what happens when two people get married. They each have their own parties to celebrate one last day of freedom,” she talks down to him. “I know that, Stacy. Thanks for clearing that up for me,” he mocks with wide eyes. “I’m glad and just so we are crystal clear Stan will not be at this party, the house next door, or anywhere near here. You will be behind the curtain, you will be quiet, and you will not interfere with my party,” she says in a serious tone. “That’s just great. Not only do I not get to go to the bachelor party, but I have to sit on the other side of a curtain, alone, while you have all the fun,” he starts to pout.  

“Yep, that about sums up your plans for this evening,” she says ignoring him. She drags him along as she lays out the plates and cups for the party. “Do you think one of the ladies will come and sit with me?” He asks in a fake depressed tone. “That’s a big N.O. They all think that you are weird so the chance of one of them leaving the party just to hang out with you is pretty slim,” she laughs. “Wait they think that I am weird? How could they even think that I am weird? If I am weird than you’re weird too. We share the same body,” he rationalizes out loud. “Do we now?” She asks sarcastically. “They think you are weird because you are always staring at them,” she says as though she agrees.

“Well, that is a very unfair opinion about me since you’re always telling me to be quiet whenever they are around and if it isn’t that it’s keep your eyes closed. I’m a guy so of course I’m going to stare every time they want to show you the new under wear they purchased or in the girls locker room,” he says frustrated. There’s a knock at the door. “I’ve had enough with this argument Steven. It is time to be quiet the guests are starting to arrive. We are heading for the door,” she says hurrying for the door. “Thanks for the warning,” he says in a deflated tone.

“Just stay silent and behave Steven, and I will take you to the comic book shop first thing in the morning,” she says as she checks her hair in the mirror. “Fine, but please try to not drink that much. You know how sick I get afterwards,” he requests. “I’ll try to refrain from drinking too much,” she sighs. “Now zip it or no comics,” she says putting on her best fake smile and opening the door. “Who’s ready to party?”

Valerie Hannigan

This isn’t from my book. It was a throw away story and someone liked it. Hopefully, you enjoyed it. I don’t really care, but whatever. Ambrose says I am supposed to talk about what the story is about here. My thoughts and feelings or whatever. (Loud noise in the background… Followed by a long pause…)

The story is about marriage and how the whole institution can feel like there is a dead body attached to you wherever you may go. A soul sucking entity that wants to zap the living life out of you at all times. Did I say dead limb syndrome? I guess you could also say that it is about being a parent as well. If you want you could say it is about anything that makes you happy or sad or nothing at all. I don’t have any siblings so I wouldn’t say it is about that at all. Did I hit the word limit yet?

Check out our shit. Sell your soul before someone else takes it from you. Breathe through your nose and don’t own black sheets. A fountain of information I am not. (Dictated not read…)

Editor’s Note: Her husband is pretty cool… What’s up Steven...

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