The Dark Path 

“Souls don’t become lost. They grow deaf” Sam looks down at the mess that was Audrey.  “It is not who could do a thing like this…. But rather, what they allowed to rule them.  I would pray for their soul. However, it appears they have none left.”

Sam pulls down his black homemade stetson hat. His right hand reaches into a saddle bag.   It finds a book of curled pages.  It’s silver flaked cross peeled from a charcoal cover announces what it is.   

He walks a few feet to the remains.   His head nods to Jacob to remove his hat as well.  The ritual is becoming daily.   There’s darkness falling from the skies here.   Like rain, it causes weeds to take root.

Silently Sam prays over the body.   His eyes shed a solitary tear.  His hands skim the well worn pages.  His face moves to accent the wear and tear of the years.  Deep set eyes have long sunk.  His mustache lost most of it color and form.   Age didn’t creep up on him, it ambushed him. 

 He wishes he had learned to read.  Long lost shreads of time tie him to a respectable past.  His title changed from miner to Marshall, to scoundrel to pastor. Heaven holds no lure for him.  Neither did a fast trip to Hell.  He fooled enough people and respected them into returning the favor.

His heart still drops when it’s a good person that falls.  He knows each day has brought another body.  Each of these bodies have been less connected to itself.  Tomorrow there will be another one.

“Audrey was one of the few bright spots here.  Chauncy Miller, he’ll need to know what…” Sam’s voice goes rough. “Damn it! Just don’t say how she looked when we got here.  It’ll be enough to kill him knowing she’s gone.”

His eyes find the horizon.  Mountains cut this place fron the rest of the world. It equally keeps demons on both sides of the ridge.  The few here are harder to find. 

Strangers Waiting for the Plane 

“My friend, we will be here awhile.”  A voice travels to my ear.

I have no friends here.   I’m in lay-over purgatory.  I turn to see a bright smiling face.   A rather Foriegn face but charming British accent. 

“I’m sorry… I was starting at people and didn’t realize who you were talking to.  They told me four hours ago, this flight is the most timely they run.   Travel is hell.” I try to figure the nice man out.  

We simply don’t act this way at home.  My God, he could be a terrorist, or a religious nut, or run a foreign money scam.   The news of full of these types in other countries. 

“Travel is like a present.   You think you know what will be inside.   Then like a flower it opens… simply amazing what happens.   We seldom believe what we know not.” His hands gesture something popping up out of box.   I hate to fly alone. You seem much better than most here.  Calm to the outside.  At least.”

I turn to catalog his features. Dark eyes,  softly set amongst richly tan skin.   Dark hair well controlled at ear length with a bushy mustache.  His crisp cotton shirt  almost glows white.  He has one small carry on bag.  

“I returning from finding a brother who thinks the world is a grand adventure.  He found simple things aren’t simple in other places. I’ll be the first to tell him how wrong he is…” My voice falters.   Why am I telling a stranger this?

“He is good to have you.  Someone to go when he needs. I have to deliver things to family.   I’m the only one who has the time.” His dark eyes lock into me. “I will find other things.  Make this a real trip for me.”

“Oh.  You been to the States before?” My mind erupts.  A real live terrorist.   There’s a bomb not even five feet away from me.

“No. The place scares me.  Kilometers to travel.  We do not drive like that.   But must see something.  When I deliver this, I am then free. Free to travel.” His smile is truly a master weapon. 

I freeze.   What dies one say you a mad killer. 

“Where are you going?  I have traveled a bit.” I fake friendliness.   My eyes look for security personnel.   

“You are tense all of a sudden.   I will be in Seattle.  We are on the same flight.  I didn’t mean to…. cause you any discomfort.  Strangers sometimes want their space.”  He smiles that damn friendly smile. 

“I’m sorry.   I’m a bit tired.   Didn’t mean to push you away. ”  My lies get deeper.  

He sits foward and speaks  “I’ll return.”

I watch him walk over to a security person bag in tow.  They smile and talk.   The smiles disappear. They both look my way. 

I’m no terrorist! 
Written as part of a challenge called Tale Weaver https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/19271780/posts/1436456071

End of the Road 

A knock on the door.  Followed by six more.   Staccato wraps follow the first soft touch.  A solitary light shone in a living room. 

The full moon rises.   It lights the last house on the pavement.   The road falls to gravel and disappears into the woods.  The woods reaches around the simple house and its barn.  The white glow of the moon paints it better in the night than the Sun.  The door hides within a small porch, shrunk by the boxes and tables stacked around. 

The hand rises again.  The knocks continue six at a time.  Staccato beats. 

“Hang on baby! hang on…. We’ll get you help.” Brian looks down.   A face looks back.

“No one will open the door… it’s too late they’ll never open the door.” Connie voice fades.   Her jeans covered in blood.   The yellow t-shirt dirt covered and suddenly wore out. “It’s cold.  Maybe there’s blanket in this stuff.   Maybe morning…”

“I see someone.  They are in there.   They’ll help us.” Brian wipes his head.  A streak of blood runs down fron his forehead.  His face shows he doesn’t think help is coming. 

Brian returns to the door.  A series of knocks continues.   Each becoming a little more panic stricken. “Hello?! We need help.   Just call the police…  anything! Please!”

Connie is on the wooden porch. She is sitting against soft boxes that lean over toward her a bit.  She’s scared but holding on a brave front. “Sit next to me.  The morning.. They’ll see us.”

Shuffling sounds inside stop her.   The dragging and stopping catch their attention.  The door had three little boxes that show how dark the inside is but little else.   

“If you open that door, I’ll kill you both. Shotgun is in my hands.” The voice followed by a tapping on the other side of the door. “You live to see tomorrow…. I’ll habe to deal with Y’all then.   Stop banging or you’ll wake up the Dead!”

The shuffling starts again.   This time fading away.   The single light flashes out.   

The Moon –

I run.  A staggered path weaves between rock, trees and cactus.  My enemy is above.  I feel the eyes scanning the landscape. 

“Shadows are my friend.” I whisper to my fellow creatures of the night. “I will sleep on safety beneath your own nose!”

I want to laugh.  But sound travels to easily here.  Its bad enough I see my quarry.  But it’s myself dug in the hole hunted.   He can’t get what he can’t see.   The plan is working so far.

The clouds thin.  Moonbeams stretch out.  Rays of silver like nails in my coffin.  I hide with my back finding an uncomfortable Saguaro.  I watch the light chase the darkness.   Hope is a thin shadow.

My pulse rises to match a deep thumping heart.  If heartbeats slow maybe I can breath.  But for how long?

I turn my head to look.  

His face smiles back.  An oblivious look or game over expression.  If I could hear him.  I hate the distance between us.  Only in moving do I get to find out who wins this night.

“I would stab at you.  You hide too far away.” I look away from him. “There has always been a man within the Moon.  He stalks us all.   He had always been death. He will always be death.  Tonight, better be someone else’s turn.”

I curl into a ball and wait. 

Written as part of a challenge called Tale Weaver, details available  at https://mindlovemiserysmenagerie.wordpress.com/2017/04/20/tale-weaver-116-the-moon/

Tied Up in Others 

“Those words…. They were sharp as glass.  I can feel them still.” Dave’s voice monotone delivery fades away.

His mind churns them over and over.   Minutes to hours. His mind whittles away today with their harshness.

His place outside next to his garage.   Blank eyes look in the air for the answer to what consumes him.   His washed out blue eyes hide behind glasses.   Years have added wrinkles to better disguise his intent.  His salt and pepper hair match his close cut bread.  His pallid face blank from lack of conclusion. 

“I can remember… Her words started about me not doing something.  Her brown eye harden and bloodshot. I just thought… well, I can listen. But then I’ll think about the words.  I’ll start making dumb mistakes.”  Dave wave his hands explaining this to an unseen companion.

He sits back on his metal chair.  His breath pauses.  Fingers engage in hunting for a cigarette.  His lost addiction remains fresh to his body.

The chasm of what we do and how quickly it can change, spill before his feet.  A series of bumps shake his thoughts free.   

“I recon I’ll have to check on her.   She’s probably waking up.   She will probably be a little cross about the whole tired up thing.   She never was much for understanding.”  Dave looks toward the door leading in the garage. 

His eyes open a but more.   His head swivels side to side.   Inventory of his neighbors send important now. 

Dave slides forward in his chair.   Both arms come to rest at the edge of the chair to propel him up.   A simple motion seems like slow motion.   Dread suddenly checks on his face.  He had always hated confrontation. Maybe, it will be easier with her tired up a bit. 

The ordinary door leads to a garage more storage than garage.   Boxes of varies color and age stack toward lights and open rafters.   A path, five to eight feet winds through the maze of excess things. The bumping noise get more intense as he moves toward crudely made cage.  More chain link fencing leaned against cinder block wall.  A few metal poles keep an opening with a giant cocoon drifting side to side. A rap of fencing follows a soft bump.  Oddly hypnotic in motion.

“Grace, you are awake.  We didn’t have to go this way.   But now that we did… Get comfortable.   I’m not the best at things,  as you keep reminding me.  Well, I’ve had a few  hours to think it over. I’ll have to think some more about how we move on from here. Please, fur once let me think.” Dave sips at a coffee mug.  He smiles a tad. “I’ll be back in awhile. Don’t go anywhere.”

Alexander Prause

Two days after coming back, the fever.  The stomach pains were there yesterday.  A fickle young stomach that hated travel, was not any good at revealing problems.  But the bulbous lesions told a story.

The family doctor, Dr Stercic was stumped.  He has seem lymph nodes swollen.  But this was crazy.  The fever was not excessive.  A twelve year old doesn’t feel lethargic.  Alexander was always a sick child.  Mom kind of made the most of these visits.  The symptoms sometimes could be relayed to child by the right parent.  Antibacterial pills given and the next five minutes went to someone in the next room.

The trip to Japan was a family trip.  The three stop return took its toll on everyone.  Time zones spin tomorrow into yesterday.  The day you land is lost until you return home.  The layover would come back to haunt them.

Day three dawns.  A fever spikes.  The pain in muscle of legs cause screams.  “Please, make them stop!  I can’t take it! Mom! Mom!  My legs are burning.”

The Emergency Room of Grand Rapids is awash with bodies.  Children always carry a faster track.  It doesn’t always work.  A cursory doctor visit lands a bed for the night.  A battery of blood work.  A history of travel.  The family tree of blood pressure, heart issues and diabetes has branches low enough for children with immunity issues.  

The night ends with a mother in a chair, and a half open eye on the bed in the same room.  A husband is left to worry with the daughter old enough to recognize a chance to escape her reality.  Suburbia rests uneasy tonite.

The next day ends early for the youngest member of the Prause family.  The high fever came ravished and left a brain cooked.  The doctors seen the simple antibiotics fail.  The switch to stronger meds didn’t come fast enough.  The blood work arrives with the tears of the mother.  Diagnosis Yersinia pestis.

“Mrs Prause, I’m sorry to tell you this but the bubonic plague appears to be the culprit here.  We need to know where you were the last two weeks.  Your family will have to be seen.  I’m so sorry.” Dr Phillips, a stranger rips out her heart.  The feeling of hopelessness was better.

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