Saturday, June 25, 2011

Henry Crow (pt. 2)


Henry Crow awoke to a cold, wet slap to the face, realizing he was propped upright on his run-down, sunken couch. He was startled when his gaze fixed upon the crimson figure of Dave sitting next to him, smiling--Dave to a T, but covered in vibrant, candy apple blood--as well as a mid-sized bear sitting contentedly at Dave's side on the ground, licking its paw. He jumped up in his seat a bit and started to squirm around.

'What in the FUCK is this all about?!!' he exclaimed, eyes wild with delirium.

'I've gotta have a talk with you, Henry,' Dave calmly replied. Even his hair was drenched in blood; his black suit was sopping wet, the white undershirt clinging to his form and looking like it was drenched in Kool-Aid. Henry was having a very hard time grasping all of this.

'Am I dead? Did you fucking kill me?'

Dave laughed a bit.

'No, no, I'd never do that! No, I'm here to help steer you from your evil ways to show you the beauty of life and human decency. Help save your immortal soul and what have you. Also, there was acid in that turkey.'

Henry readjusted himself in his seat, slicking his hair back a bit and taking in a deep breath. He went to grab his smokes and came back to Dave, lighting one up.

'Why are you all, red?'

Dave sighed. 'This is ain't shit. I figured it'd be surprising enough seeing me after all this while, so I put in a favor to at least have a bit of form before you saw me. I actually don't mind this shade of red on me..'

'Are you a ghost?' Henry asked.

Dave shrugged his shoulders. 'Something like that. A man stuck between worlds, a soul killed by unnatural means with unfinished business who needs to rectify his bit of the world to at least attain something of an afterlife. Limbo, yup.'

'You were killed by a bear..' he paused and looked down at the bear still licking its paw on the floor, 'being flung through your window. Another driver hit it and sent it soaring toward you. That's not supernatural in the least.'

'Though the evidence is tangible, and it can be explained, I doubt you would call my demise anything close to natural, Henry,' Dave said, raising his eyebrow and leaning in a bit closer toward his wary friend.

Henry looked down a bit and took a slow drag of his smoke in contemplation.

'What's that thing doing here, anyway?' he asked, nudging toward the bear.

'He's dead, too; also in limbo because of the situation.'

Henry took another slow drag off the cigarette.

'So, what do you want with me?'

Dave smiled. 'So glad you asked. Do you know the story of Gabriel Grub? It's a Dickens short.'

Henry exhaled through his nostrils after a bit of thought. 'I think I remember you saying something about it, actually,' he quietly mentioned.

'That's right. A surly gravedigger who's sent to the goblin cave to learn the err of his evil ways, one dark and frozen Christmas Eve...'

Henry gave him a bit of a look.

'Are you ready to go, Gabriel Grub?'


'Actually, I guess not one of those questions really matter, hmm?' Dave laughed to himself.

In the blink of an eye, Henry Crow found himself in the darkest, coldest place he'd ever been.



'What..where am I?'

Henry Crow was now sitting in a black cave at an elongated dinner table, two three-pronged candelabras sitting at the opposing sides--the only form of light in the dark, frozen dwelling.

Across from him sat two figures in black cloaks, their only distinguishing features the gaping holes for the faces. But they weren't faces underneath the cloaks. Not even a feature. In place instead were oval mirrors staring blankly back, reflecting himself and Dave sitting at his side. He turned to his sanguine friend.

'What is this?'

Dave paused, never taking his eyes off the figures before them.

'Eventually, Henry Crow, we all have to face ourselves..'

The figures seemed to be studying them intently.

'..and the demons within.'

Henry felt coldness plunge to his very core.





(One more, after this.)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Henry Crow (pt. 1)

He wasn't a very nice man.

Henry Crow was not a man known for his blindingly sunny disposition.

He wasn't necessarily the type to make lemonade, when life would hand out lemons, so much as squish them directly into his mouth with a reckless abandon after doing a shot of tequila beforehand, and then subsequently spit on the ground. He wallowed in life's bitterness, at times.

Henry Crow would drift around town after the sun set and the street lights became bright, getting rowdy from bar to bar, breaking the jukebox for not playing his song soon enough on more than one occasion. He was sleazy with the women and sometimes the menfolk too, if his fancy struck him, though more often than not it came to blows of a different kind at the end of the night.

A man with that much bitterness in him has to have had it bore into him right from the start. This was a man who felt life's stinging prick early on. Alcoholic, unattentive parents, countless failed romances, and most recently the death of his closest and only friend, Dave, in a freak accident involving a bear being hurled through a car's windshield. The world made even less sense to him than it had previously, at that point.

Henry Crow was a man who would take whatever he could get. He finds a chilly, near-full beer left alone, he grabs it. He always looked at the ground when he walked, hoping to score a dropped pack of smokes or some other forgotten trinket lying on the streets, undiscerning as to what he may find. He was dirty and grizzled, a slight hunch in his stature and very gaunt; a decent dresser but nothing too flashy, clothes always a bit wrinkled--always a slight bounce in his step. His hair was a thick mess of brown that he'd haphazardly slick back from his face. His brow was dark and thick, and always furrowed into a frown. Even when he laughed, it sounded more like a demonic cackle.

People were always a bit wary around him, though each person expressed it differently. Some react to the fear by staying away, while others would want to poke and pry, seeing what lay underneath the gruff exterior. Often, the latter came with some form of price on the offending party's part.

Henry Crow was a man alone in a dark and dreary world, made darker by his emptiness without Dave and by his own dark mind.

Soon, at least, he'd have one last evening with his oldest, closest friend.


Flying bear to the fucking face, he thought to himself as he meandered through the store.

What the fuck?

He stopped in front of the beer, grabbing a cheap 40 for the road. He managed to have a bit on him, magically finding a five dollar bill earlier on, and decided to splurge for the night. He even got his own pack of smokes. He took dull thuds of strides back to his flat. He felt particularly tired that night.


Slowly he walked up the stairs and almost collapsed through the door as he unlocked it, gripping the black plastic grocery bag tightly. He flicked on the lights and stared at the pile of papers on his tiny kitchen table, adjacent some three feet to his miniature (and rather unkempt) stove top against the wall. He hadn't swept in a while. It was chilly in there.

He rested the black bag on the table and sifted through the contents: his 40 and a pack of Camels--and something else...? Some prize was still resting in the bag, an error either he or the cashier didn't notice. He peeked in. Deli turkey, roasted, thin-sliced. He took it out of the bag and studied it, smelling it, making sure there wasn't anything particularly foul or grotesque on it. He tested just a nibble, and gave a few minutes before grinning to himself and breaking open the 40, taking a few large gulps and then going over to his dingy fridge. He broke out the bread and mayo and topped it with a bit of mustard.

Henry Crow was a scandalous man.

He put on some Mozart as he bit into his free meal. He almost thought it must've tasted better simply by the fact it was given to him by plain dumb luck. The musical accompaniment made it all the more delectable. He attacked that damn sandwich. This was going to make the work week all the more sweeter, knowing he could have that bit of food to come home to. He had plenty else for his mind to fixate itself on, otherwise.

Dave floated to the front of his mind for an instant, as he was about halfway through his dinner. He paused for a moment to take a sip from the 40, offering a bit in remembrance of his friend. He toasted the air in solidarity, letting out a crisp exhale after a few large swigs of the malt liquor.

Dave would approve of this, he thought to himself.

Dave would've done the same thing, if he found that prize in his bag.

After he swallowed one particular bite about halfway through, he felt a tinny sensation roll over his tongue. His taste became metallic, like he'd had some pennies in his mouth. He coughed a bit, clearing his throat, and went for the bottle again to wash it down. He stood there for a moment, feeling a dizziness starting to come over him as he leaned against a metal chair. He started to notice time seeming to slow down, and a heaviness sinking directly into his skull. He looked down at the seemingly innocent sandwich still in his hand.

Mother..fucker..., he thought, as he started to pass out.

He collapsed face down onto the linoleum floor before him, the sandwich hopping out of his grip and flinging itself all over the ground. He lay there, one arm outstretched, the other tucked beside him; he felt his legs going. His breathing was steady, but still a bit slow. He felt paralyzed--his eyes bugged wide open, stuck in a stare at his tiny, messy excuse of a living room. He couldn't even make a noise.

Without warning, a familiar voice came from above.

'Oh, Henry?'

Henry Crow's eyes rolled as far as they could toward the side and saw what appeared to be the silhouette of his old friend, Dave, blocking out the lamplight and looking down at him, pitifully.

Dave smiled and leaned down, whispering into his ear: 'You get to learn you a lesson tonight, friend.'

His eyes glazed over and everything went black before him, traces of "Rondo Alla Turca" jubilantly wilting away in the distance.





(This one's gonna have a lot of dark humor. I'm excited.)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

'I'm not having this conversation right now.'

She pushed me aside and went to the cupboard to get a mug, preparing her usual afternoon tea.

'There's nothing to discuss. I was just...confused. It was fun, but now it's too heavy.'

I didn't look at her as she was saying it. Partially because I didn't want to believe her, partially because I didn't want to break down in front of her.

'Look at me when I'm talking to you. Please.'

I glanced over at her, feeling the lines creasing over my face, my muscles tensing. We stared for a moment.

'You mean to tell me that nothing that was said, nothing we shared, mattered to you at all?' I asked her.

'Of course it mattered. It's always mattered. Do you think I wouldn't be freaking out right now if it didn't matter to me..?' she trailed off. She started to shake a bit.

I went up to get closer to her, and started stroking her arm. She relaxed a bit, enough to let me wrap her up in my arms; she breathed onto my neck, nuzzling into it for a moment. I didn't want anything else, at that moment. I started to run my fingers through her hair, when she realized what was happening and broke away from me.

'NO! Go. You have to go now.'

'Baby, please, I'm just--'

'NO! I can't do this right now, goddamnit! Back the fuck off!'

'Wait, I--'

'FUCK IT!' she cried out as she swung an open palm to my face.

She got me so hard I bled out the corner of my mouth. I placed my hand to the blood and looked down at it, then back at her, astonished. I stared at her, my eyes opened wide. She was rubbing her hand gingerly as she stared back in horror.

'I didn't..I'm...babe--'

'Fuck this,' I said quietly, turning on my heel, grabbing my jacket and making a mad dash for the door as she reached after me, repeating my name. I let my fingers slip through hers as I reached the front porch, and she stayed behind the screen door and watched me as I jumped into my car and took off, hiding the tears in my eyes.


Little lumps of snow started falling from the sky as I drove towards the mountains. They seemed to be the only movement; there just seemed to be stillness all around me. I had pulled over to one of the parks I frequent to calm myself and clear my thoughts. This spot in particular had sentimental value: we had some of our closest moments here. I could almost hear the laughter echoing amongst the floating snowflakes; I could almost retrace the footsteps underneath the white blanket taking form. My memories began to wash themselves all over me at once, when I regained focus long enough to reach up to touch the dried blood at my mouth's corner.

I don't quite know what I'm doing here..., I thought to myself.

I felt the tears welt up in my eyes again and let them drop to the ground, joining in with the rest of the frost and cold. It felt like being punched to your very core, whatever that feeling is. I bent over and placed my hands on my knees, trying to breathe steadily and catch myself. Trying to not collapse from all the memories rushing back to me all at once. I took in a deep breath and walked a bit further. I didn't want to go back to my house any time soon.

I wanted to feel the cold biting at me.


As I got further away from the main road, and more into the woods, I noticed small roots and twigs along the sides of the path protruding through the snow in sort of an odd manner. One could almost imagine them being bony fingers reaching through the soil, desperate to grasp a hold of you.

I walked further through the woods for what seemed like hours, the evergreens still full and blocking out whatever light was available. The dusk was fast approaching, though I didn't mind. I was nearing the end of the path, just around the residential areas of scattered cabins full of creature comforts, my body feeling entirely numb. I watched my breath steaming out of me with every passing step, occasionally staring down at the twisted roots around me. My mind was so off in its own space that I didn't even pay attention to the scenery changing around me--how I broke out of the canopy for an instant and happened upon an open field in the distance just ahead. I pressed forward, noticing a solitary dead Oak tree in the middle of it. As I came closer, it became apparent to me that this Oak tree was shielding a lonesome grave site, some sort of decrepit family plot. Something caught my attention out of the corner of my eye, on the ground.

As I came closer, I noticed someone had laid out a design in front of the plot, underneath the tree's barren branches, clearing out the snow just for it, especially. They used some sort of corn meal or powder to draw the shape of a large, perfect circle, a cross placed in its center and dividing it into four. In the center of each piece, a copper penny was placed heads-up. I stared for a moment, then started to investigate the plot.

An odd red moss covered the few scattered headstones in the decent sized enclosure, a type of moss I'd never seen in the area before; even odder, the snow didn't seem to stick on nor around them. I traced my memory back to my youth, as I'd remembered hearing tales of a hidden witch's grave built some hundreds of years back, and how the children used to frequent it every Halloween in hopes of a good scare. Some of the ones I spoke with said they'd never go back.

The snow continued to fall steadily around me, a gust of wind occasionally blowing past. Though there were no visible leaves on the ground, I could swear I heard the rustling of someone approaching me while I was hunched over, trying to decipher the barely-legible names on the stones, trying to note the designs etched into them. For an instant, I thought I heard a woman's laugh, but thought nothing of it. Then, another--two this time--seemed to be getting closer. I stood up and whirled around, already a bit on end. Nothing. Just my imagination, it seemed.

I bent back down to read the dates. 1787. 1787. 1787.

Why did they all die the same year?

I heard the laughter again, this time alarmingly closer, and spun around. To my utter surprise, two women were standing just outside of the grave's fence, smiling at me and holding arms together. There seemed to be a hunger in their eyes.

'Good evening,' the dark haired one smiled.

'What does this beautiful creature bring on such a biting winter's night?' the red haired one inquired.

Their clothes were tattered and grey, dirty corsets over ripped, flowing gowns. Their skin was pallid, blue and grey veins protruding from their nimble arms, while their eyes appeared to be a striking shade of green.

'Who are you?' I asked.

They looked at each other and laughed a bit to themselves, coming through the fence and closer to me.

'I don't think that should be your concern, kind friend...' the dark one said, circling around me, eyes roving up and down.

'You see, we know who you are,' said the red one, playing with the buttons on my jacket, 'and we have waited for so, so long. The cold is just so unbearable, wouldn't you say?' She stopped to reach up to my mouth, where I was bleeding earlier.

'We will need that,' she smiled to herself, her green eyes seeming to flash excitedly.

Though my heart was racing, I felt in a trance being around these women. I knew I should run, that I should push them away, but my legs were left completely immobile. It was as though the twigs and roots were coming out of the ground and grasping onto me, refusing to let me go. I stared at them cautiously.

'What do you want?'

'You will find out soon enough, pet,' said the dark one, giving a bit of a curtsy as she rejoined the red one in front of me. I stood frozen in place as they started to dance around me in a circle, never breaking eye contact with me whenever they came to my front. They kept chanting unintelligible things, the only word I could recognize was 'fourth.' They stood at my back as I was unable to turn around, slowly raising their voices as they repeated the guttural invocations. As it became almost unbearable, they stopped and came to my front.

The red haired one held a large snake.

The black haired one held a large dagger.

'Our fourth is arrived,' the red one said, almost licking her teeth eagerly.

They began to stalk forward towards me. I wanted to move, I was screaming inside my head for my legs to break whatever this spell was and to sprint as far away from these women as I could, but there was nothing I could do. I stood there wide eyed and speechless, bracing myself for whatever torture was about to occur. As they got not more than a few feet from me, I felt another presence come up from behind me.

'Stop,' a stern woman's commanded.

The other two women froze and looked behind me, their excitement immediately drained from their expressions. They took a few steps back and stared as a stringy blonde figure dressed exactly as they were came around my back. Though the features and dress were similar, her expressions weren't as fierce as the others. She stared at me quizzically and gave a bit of a smile after some thought. She looked back at the other two.

'What are you doing?'

'That is the fourth. We called for it and they have arrived. After this, we will be unstoppable!' the black one roared.

'Revenge is oursssssss!' hissed the red.

The blonde one let her eyes study me, a pitying expression coming over her face. She came up to me and stroked my cheek.

'No. No...this one is too pure. Too pure to be our fourth. Another mistaken identity,' she decided, flippantly.

The other two looked disheartened and completely disappointed upon hearing this. She came close to me and stared deeply into my eyes. I almost got lost in how vibrant a green hers were.

'You're free to go, innocence. Never come back here again.'

She went to wrap her arms around my neck, and gave a nudge into my ear. She began to whisper to me.

'As far as your lover goes, allow her the distance. And if that's not enough consolation, I still love you, my darling.' She looked at me for a moment before kissing my lips, her own as cold as the snow and air around us. I felt a chill run through my entire body and deep into my chest as it ended. She smiled at me once more before stepping back and disappearing into the night. The other two stared for a few seconds more and looked disgusted with me before fading away like the first. Everything was as still as I arrived. The sensation regained in my legs, I made leaps and bounds back to my car all the way back at the front of the forest.


About an hour later, completely out of breath and still a bit shakey, I made it back to my car. I stopped at the trunk to catch my breath, hunched over and coughing, the numb air stinging my lungs. I stopped to stare up at the full moon for a moment in an attempt to truly recount what just went on. I couldn't decide if it was real, and maybe I didn't want to, as I wiped my brow and made my way to the driver's side.

I got in and slowly put the keys in the ignition, trying to steady myself. I heaved a heavy sigh, and started the car up, flipping the heat up to the highest setting, waiting for the windows to defrost. Everything was blurred like an impressionist painting from within the car, the frost melting into droplets rapidly. Finally, after a few minutes they had melted enough for me to engage the wipers. As they swept away the sleet on the window, I was shocked upon seeing the dead vulture curled up some 10 feet in front of wing precariously reaching upward toward the sky, almost specifically posed in that manner. I gasped and peeled out onto the main road.

I can't say for certain, but I almost swear I heard laughter as I drove away.