Category Archives: Original Writing

Night Terror: Cult

This is part of a series of night terrors, sleep paralysis, and strange dreams I’ve had over the years.


The shadows threatened to eat me alive as I stood still. I gazed up at the ceiling as they pulsated around me, and I realized I’d been staring at the door to my office for some time. I checked my watch. It was three in the morning, which meant everyone would be gathering soon in the living room downstairs. Not that it was a living room anymore. We’d stripped the carpet from the old wood, but the walls were still crimson with an intricate white design. The furniture was absent save for a large fireplace and whatever ritual materials were required.

I blinked hard to clear the fog and slipped into my bedroom. A dark form was sprawled out on the bed, and upon extending my hand toward it, my fingers met with coarse fur covering a cold body. I jerked back and clenched my jaw. A dog. My dog.

My lungs burned with emotion as I spun from the room and was claimed by the shadows in the hall once more. Was it them? Did those bastards kill my dog for some sick communion that had gone too far? I’d been a fool to get involved with such lunatics, but after my wife left me with nothing, I was prepared to do anything for money. Even if it meant hosting freak shows downstairs that I was never to speak of.

My body lunged forward as I grabbed for a door that was no longer there. Pain shocked my wrists as I looked out into a hall where my office should have been, and I climbed to my feet to continue. My office was somewhere. It had to be. It was there yesterday and the day before.

I paused and took in the squirming shadows. The walls were breathing. The house was alive, and I knew it was their fault.

I let out a primal sound of frustration as both fear and exhaustion overwhelmed me. These strange rituals that happened night after night finally took their toll, and they were beginning to shift reality. I’d been a spectator on the third night — dawned in the plain black robes they required with nothing underneath. The room had been silent save for the crackling fireplace, and the orange flames danced like spirits on the walls as a golden chalice was raised. It held a liquid I was better a stranger to. There was no chanting but continued silence as the circle remained still. I glanced from one person to the next to see they’d been completely enraptured in the moment. The red sigil beneath all of us had begun to glow, and it was the moment I realized I’d gotten in over my head.

The days that followed were the beginning of something horrible. I would fall asleep in my bedroom with my dog at my feet, and by morning, I’d awaken in a room I’d never seen before. I tried to stay awake after that. It didn’t help. I would pass out for an hour or two before I’d awaken again, and the inevitable would happen. Last night, I hadn’t slept a wink.

And yet, I wandered throughout my own house as it led me somewhere new once more, although I was awake for it. I paused. A different floor was best.

I backtracked to the stairs and descended. To my relief, my office was waiting for me and I raced inside and slammed the door. I didn’t give a damn if it interrupted my distinguished guests. I was done.

Fishing through my desk, I tugged a top drawer until a gun rattled into my eager hand. As I clicked the bullets into place, a knock resounded in the silence. There was only one person it could be, and his timing was impeccable. “Come in.”

A darkly robed figure drifted inside and stood before me. Despite being a man of few words, he uttered in a guttural tone, “You intend to kill me.”

“You killed my dog.” I cocked the gun and aimed it at the man’s head. “You’re fucking with my house. I didn’t agree to any of this.”

“You agreed to be our host and keep our secret.” The man held out a pale, wrinkled hand. “It is not the fault of my brethren nor I that you did not inquire further.”

“You didn’t say this shit was actually real!” The trigger clicked as I trembled. “You didn’t say you’d sacrifice my fucking dog for whatever abomination you’re trying to summon.”

The elder laughed in a way that sounded like a death rattle. “That was but a mere casualty in something greater. While I did not harm your pet, it seems something else did. We have been successful. We shall awaken the old ones in due time, and they shall swallow this world and end all of our suffering.”

“The old ones?” My gun lowered. “Is my house possessed?”

“Time has less meaning now than it did last night or the night before it.” The elder moved to the window to look outside. It was nearing dawn but still quite dark. The sky was a hazy burnt sienna. “The old ones exist outside of time — outside of this world. When they awaken, we will be one with them and at peace, and the time is nearly at hand.” The robed figure turned to me. “Reality is fading, and our next ritual will be our last. Your shifting environment is a sign of that success. We’ve reached the source and they have answered us.”

The man’s head cracked against the wall as I pulled the trigger. Gore smeared the window red as he died with a grin.

The gun fell from my hands and I stumbled forward before blacking out.

It wasn’t long before my eyes opened to the body slumped against the wall. My empty stomach lurched, but I swallowed down the bile as I rose with a powerful dizziness. I tried to think of my daughter for a reason to continue as I ascended the stairs, but as I reached the top floor and climbed through the open window in my bedroom, I remembered what I’d done. Oh god, my daughter.

I raced to the first floor, the house breathing and watching me as it allowed my path unhindered. The living room was larger than I remembered it, and the orange glow from the flames licked across that dreaded symbol on the floor. It was nothing Biblical, Satanic, or any kind of witchery I’d suspected. It was something that could only come from a mind as mad as the one splattered across my office window. On the other end of it against a wall, a small day bed rested with a young teenager’s body relaxed across it. I choked.

“Aggie.” The room split as I watched in horror, my own daughter in my arms hanging limp before lying her on the bed. I’d been possessed then and I knew it. The thing possessing this house was very much inside me, and it carried with it a cold emptiness of space.

The tear in time healed and the room was silent once more, but the decaying body on the bed sat up slowly to look at me. As still as a cobra eyeing its prey with certainty, Aggie stared through milky white eyes into my soul. Her dry mouth opened but nothing came forth.

“I’m sorry,” I cried. “Oh god. It was me.” I shook my head. “No, no it wasn’t me. These old ones… it was them. They’re inside me.” I realized then what my purpose was and why the elder allowed my presence during the rituals. I was a washed-up man with nothing to lose because I’d already lost everything. Who else would have been such a fool? The cult members had mentioned words I didn’t understand — of vessels and old gods and the great silence before everything. I hadn’t realized I was the perfect ignorant pawn. I knew none of it, and I was already empty inside swimming around in my own dark void.

I retraced my steps to leave the corpse behind. Shuffling feet alerted me to its presence, and I glanced back to see Aggie swaying in the shadows in silence. My legs were like lead as I tried to lose her, but each twist and turn brought her before me. If there was a kind and just God in existence, this was surely his doing to make me pay for what the old ones had made me do. To pay for my own weakness and ignorance.

The basset hound on the bed was festering with insects and bacteria as I approached the window again. Maybe things could be right once more. I glanced back at Aggie, who had taken to stroking the dog’s fur. The world was better without me. I was better without me.

Without another thought, I jumped.


The bright sun stung my eyes as I rolled over in bed. A sloppy tongue bathed my face with the stale smell of dog food, and my eyes shot open. “Bassie!” I opened my arms to hug the large hound as he fell into my lap, tail wagging enthusiastically and very much alive.

My head jerked in the direction of the hall, and through the open door I could make out the sound of crackling bacon on the stove. “Mary?” I mumbled the name as I slid from under the dog and made my way downstairs. My hands jumped to my loose tie and my white button-down shirt that was half-open. Must have fallen asleep working late again.

I sighed with relief at the sound of Aggie giggling outside. Everything was fine. We were fine and Mary was beautiful and Aggie was the light of my life.

I attempted a greeting as I rounded the stairs into the kitchen, but all was still. My brow furrowed as I approached the stove. “Shit!” I jerked my hand back from touching the cast iron pan to see red spreading across my palm. Racing to the sink, I flipped on the cold water and looked through the kitchen windows to see a quiet neighborhood. The sky was orange and the sun blurred behind a strange haze, and there was no soul to be found. Cars rested peacefully on the street and in driveways awaiting commute, and houses remained still as if tombs for the families that once dwelt within their walls.

Aggie and Mary were nowhere to be found. The living room was equally as scarce of life, but it had returned to its normal splendor of cream sofas and a coffee table, lamps, and a large wooden TV set on the floor with the dial set to channel 6. The picture moved in time, but there was no sound.

My office greeted me in its sterile glory, and I fell into my chair. The larger cabinet to the side swung open at my command and produced a large bottle of amber liquid, and I settled in to numb myself before I paused. The bottle crashed against the wall and sprayed amber in all directions.

A knock on the door brought my attention back around, and I remembered the gun in my drawer. No one should have been there. “Come in.”

The elder in his black robe greeted me once more, his hands out in a welcoming gesture. “All is well and good, and we must prepare for the ritual.”

There was no hindrance to the quick tug of my finger against the trigger, and the man swayed as the bullet pierced his forehead. My limbs grew cold as he continued to approach me. No blood or gore gushed forth as if he were a mere shell of a human.

I stumbled as I raced up the stairs, and upon reaching the top floor, the hallways plunged into darkness. The shadows undulated around me as I approached my bedroom window once again. The morning sun caused the atmosphere to sway in the heatwave as I climbed out, but before I was able to jump, I caught sight of the man on the lawn below. His hands were raised to the sky, and although I did not understand the strange language coming from his lips, something within me stirred. My blood turned to ice, and a haunting, bestial growl approached from high above the atmosphere. Daring to glance upward, the sky had begun to sway.

This time, with meaning, I leaped.

©2020 Shane Blackheart

Sleep Paralysis: Bondage

This is an actual sleep paralysis episode I had one night a few years ago, sleep hallucinations (hypnopompic) and all. I wrote it down upon waking up and have remembered it ever since, as I do many of my experiences.


I blinked hard and tried to shake my body, but nothing changed. Somehow my mom had entered my apartment without my knowledge, and grandma was there too. They eyed me curiously as if I had something on my face, and neither seemed to be concerned about the muddy sky outside. It was a dark brown and the setting sun’s rays were masked behind the smog, and nothing out there looked as it should have. My home had also grown in size — the floor had more than doubled what it was.

My breath hitched. “I’m dreaming.” I stared up at my grandma from where I knelt on the floor, whose expression had turned to one of sympathy. “I’m — I’m sleeping. I know I’m sleeping.” My body refused to move. I was a statue.

“Then you need to wake yourself up, angel,” my grandma said with a gentle warning.

I managed to sit back on my legs. I rolled my neck and flexed my fingers. “Wake up.” My tone held a firmness I hadn’t anticipated, and it was clear a subconscious part of my mind knew the dangers. Breath shuddered from my lungs as I tensed and jerked my body to the side. “Wake up! You know what will happen if you don’t!”

Each blink brought with it one of two realities, the one with my grandma and mom staring in dead silence at me, and the one where I was frozen in a dark room on my back. My eyes were forced shut as I fought between the two worlds, and that subconscious voice became angry — self-preservation kicking into gear to gain momentum over the anxiety that surfaced.

A sleep coma. I’d feared them before. My pulse raced. This would be the time. This exact moment was my last chance to wake up!

The dark room flashed before I found myself lying on a red carpet. My body was weak as it ached, and I lifted myself into a sitting position. The red room stretched as far as my eyes could make out, and my grandma and mom were still present. I couldn’t bear to look at them. I had no idea why they were there staring at me as if they felt sorry for me. They were powerless and could do nothing but haunt me between worlds.

The dull sound of heavy heels on carpet met my ears and I looked to my right. The ethereal weight pressing down on my head allowed me just enough perception to see a long set of legs clad in thigh high leather stilettos. I traced them to the hem and watched as they sauntered by, but no body came with them. I fought with gravity and lifted my head to see another set of leather-clad legs, buckles adorning the black wrapped around them. They were bodiless as well, and they passed on by as if strolling through a piece of time that had become dislodged.

I was alone before a rattling metal cart met my ears. That same set of legs was strapped down on its flat surface, a large handle jutting up where it had been pushed by an unseen force. The thighs quivered and writhed as if tossing and turning — or in great pleasure.

Words spilled from my mouth like a warped record as I tried to yell out again. Wake up. Wake up!

My hand squeezed into a fist as another cart rolled out before me. Several kittens were secured to it, and they danced and wiggled beneath the black tape holding them down. Their expressions were peaceful and happy, and a few rested without worry as the others rocked their heads. I wanted to save them — to remove them from this purgatory that refused to let me go.

Something lurked the perimeter and I couldn’t see or hear it, but I knew it was there and I fought harder to be free of it. I knew it wanted me. It wanted to keep me there so badly it would fight me until I was a dead weight on the floor.

The dark room where I lied frozen flashed once more, and with my last ounce of strength, I threw my arm out and punched my jaw as hard as I was able, and my fist dropped like lead across my body. Something held my eyes shut until I lurched to the side, and with a racing pulse and burning lungs, I opened my eyes fully to stare into the darkness. The wall beside me held claw marks as if a wild animal had been trapped against it.

No! You’re not awake! A distressed moan left my lips and I lurched to the side once more. My body grew numb with a powerful tingling, and I remained still in a heap of tangled blankets between my twisted limbs. My eyes had finally opened wide.

The tingling faded as I stared out into the expanse of darkness. An aching in my chest and sweat on my back coaxed me into a supine position, and I waited. Nothing changed. With each blink, the moonlight remained slitted against the wall through my blinds, and all was silent and still. I slowed my breathing.

I’d escaped. I hadn’t fallen into the sleep coma.

I rolled my stiff body to the side to reach for my medication, but I paused as I felt a presence. Goosebumps crawled up and down my flesh as I scoped the room. I heard nothing and saw nothing, but it was at the perimeter again. It had come back with me. I continued deep breathing cycles to assure myself it was just an illusion. I’d escaped and it was just my mind playing tricks on me. Glancing at the wall again, I saw the scratches were gone.

One last deep breath was enough to relax me, and I curled into a comforting position beneath the blanket. Morning would come soon and I would be safe. Nothing was there, anyway.

“Hello,” it whispered.

©2020 Shane Blackheart


What Lies Beyond

A Gothic short story

A dark figure approached the cemetery, his heart heavy with memories of ages past. He’d been alive for too many years, and he found himself pushing past the cast-iron gates to escape the monotony of it all. Although the moon was high in the sky and all was clear, the city lights near the road blotted out the stars, and the sky cast a strange aura over the resting ground that revealed broken stones and gnarled tree limbs. Roots twisted and fought with marble as older stones were lifted from the ground, and as the figure walked deeper, a silence drifted about the monuments.

Once lost within the twists and turns, the cemetery became a forest of weathered stone and iron, the mausoleums and memorials standing the test of time. Statues wept black tears as age washed away the memories of those who laid beneath them, and the vampire paused to bask in their beauty. It had been some time since he’d wandered around a cemetery at night, but it was a call that beckoned to him every year around the same date. He closed his eyes and bowed his head in memory, his shaggy black hair falling in his face where it was swept to the side.

A soft breeze broke the silence as leaves rustled across the vampire’s path, and he looked off into the dark distance, his red eyes providing their own light. It was then that the peculiar feeling of being watched washed over him, and he turned to look in every direction to find nothing but stone, brush, and ancient gnarled trees. Curiosity became his guide as he followed the direction of the wind. It led him further along the path, and an old church that was small and long since abandoned came into view. 

He slipped his hands into his black leather jacket and continued until a small voice made him pause. It came with the wind and went just as soon with it, and sitting on a gravestone across from him was a figure that seemed to blend with nature itself. 

The being’s voice was melancholic, but coal-black lips curved into a smile as he set dark eyes upon the late-night visitor. “You can hear me?”

“And see you.” The vampire approached the specter as he became clearer. He was in the form of a young man, his pallor white with dark circles around large eyes. Staring into them was like gazing into the void itself, and dark short hair fell to cover his face upon noticing the vampire’s gaze. He looked off to the side and hugged himself as the vampire spoke, “Is that your grave?”

“No.” The entity glimpsed the vampire out of the corner of his eye. “I was never like you.”

“You’re a spirit, though?” The vampire smiled and bowed for flourish to humor them both. “I’m a vampire. My name is Lestan.”

“A vampire!” The spirit smiled and slid from the stone he occupied, approaching his visitor and resting a hand on the side of the vampire’s face. A wave of sadness and something dark enveloped Lestan upon contact, and his chest clenched tight with emotion. Seeing the look of despair upon the vampire’s face, the spirit quickly reclaimed his hand and became anxious. “Oh no… I am sorry! I forget that I cannot touch others.” 

The spirit turned to back away before Lestan grabbed his wrist to stop him, and the vampire was flooded with another wave of anguish. “No. It’s fine.” A lump formed in Lestan’s throat as the urge to weep overcame him, but he swallowed it down. “What’s your name?”

“I do not have one.” The spirit’s form began to fade as he phased through the vampire’s hand, floating backward as he curled into his black robe. He brought his knees to his chest where he rested in the air — visibly upset and unable to speak any further. 

Lestan noticed that the darkness consuming him receded with the spirit’s touch, but it didn’t deter him. It was too peculiar. “If you were never human and you don’t have a name, then what are you?”

“I am a guide.” The spirit unfurled and rested his bare feet on the ground, the loose dirt drifting aside as if a soft breath had disturbed its peace. “I was born from despair itself, and I guide those who have died a lonely and fitful death to their afterlife.” The spirit lifted his hand and upturned his palm, and in it formed a gristly heart that dripped dark blood onto the ground through his fingers. He then focused his void-like eyes on Lestan to search him, a look of understanding dawning upon him. “That is why you can see me.”

“I didn’t exactly die.” Lestan focused on the heart that flickered before an anguished moan drifted around it, cries fading into a crescendo before the organ flickered out of existence. The cries, thankfully, went with it. The blood that had dripped to the ground was gone. 

“In a way you have. But more importantly…” The spirit dared to come close again but kept a distance for fear of scaring Lestan away — now that the vampire knew what his touch brought with it. “You have lost someone. Although your heart barely beats, it aches for that person. That brought you here tonight.”

“You can tell?” Lestan smiled sadly as his hand drifted over his heart, his long black nails digging into his white t-shirt. “I guess you would.”

“I am sorry for your loss.” The spirit wanted more than anything to comfort the vampire. It had been the only time he’d been able to interact with another creature in decades, and the guilt ate away at him as he realized there was nothing he could do. He had only ever existed for one purpose, and to interact with the living was one thing he was forbidden to do — if the living could even perceive him — but this vampire stood before him, seeing him without fear. And Lestan was not among the living. 

“It was a long time ago. Over a few hundred years now. She was my sister.” Lestan’s hand slipped into his pocket for want of something to do.

The spirit was even more intrigued and obviously not experienced in the way of tact. “How did she die? Was her suffering great? Did you remain by her side?” The spirit was rapt with interest, the vampire falling silent as words caught in his throat. It certainly was inappropriate to ask such things, and it was bad enough he’d ended up there with enough hurt inside him as it was. 

He couldn’t possibly relive it again in explanation, and he most certainly couldn’t explain it in any way that any being would understand. “I held her through her last breath.” Lestan closed his eyes and lowered his head as the memories resurfaced. They’d already been fresh in his mind due to it being the anniversary of her death. He’d remembered every single year even though he’d told himself long ago to move on from it.

It seemed the spirit understood that he’d breached a sore subject and looked around nervously, his feet shuffling in the dirt below. Lestan opened his eyes and found it interesting how the earth responded to the specter. It was as if the spirit were corporeal at times but faded whenever something upset him. The vampire looked up and smiled.

“I… I meant no harm. Oh no.” A light blue lit up the spirit’s cheeks and he looked away. “I just get curious, you know? I find the ways in which humans can perish fascinating and it helps me to better understand human grief. Grief brings me joy, so…” Lestan extended his hand and waited in silence, the spirit stopping in his rambling to observe the outstretched fingers. “What… Why are you doing that?”

“A handshake in solidarity.” Lestan chuckled and wiggled his fingers. “It seems we’ve both seen some things in our existences.”

“You… you want to touch me knowing what will happen? I cannot.” 

“Please? I imagine I’ll become desensitized soon enough. Exposure therapy.” The vampire winked and caused the spirit to fall into another embarrassed fit. 

A partially transparent hand reached out to take the vampire’s briefly before withdrawing again. A spark of something the specter couldn’t explain formed within him as he noticed Lestan’s stern expression. “Are you alright?”

“I knew it was coming. I prepared myself.” Although it was a moment of great emotional pain, Lestan had brushed it off just as quickly knowing it wasn’t his own. It was merely the reflections of grief the spirit carried with him.

“Oh, you can do that? That is wonderful.” 

“Yeah…” Lestan wanted to call him something other than ‘spirit’ or ‘guide’. He racked his brain and settled with sleeping on it for the next day. “Hey, I have to call you something if we’re going to be friends.”

“Friends? Us?” The spirit felt the spark grow stronger, and it expanded until something was screaming at him to run away. Dread washed over him as if he’d done something out of line and he began to fade. Lestan moved to reach out for him — touch him as he had before — but his hands went straight through. The spirit’s voice quivered. “I am sorry. I cannot!” 

With that, the presence was gone and Lestan stood in the middle of the large cemetery alone.

He spun around in all directions, hoping to catch a drift of wind as a sign or a glimpse of something moving. He finally settled his sight back on the grave the spirit had rested upon and spoke into the night. “If you can hear me, I’ll be back tomorrow. I’ll come right back to this stone and wait for you.”

With that, Lestan left the cemetery with a plan. To live in such misery and exist for nothing but that misery was no way for any entity to carry on. The spirit appeared to be a being of his own with independent thoughts and ideas and feelings. Now, he just needed a name.


The wind rustled through the spirit’s translucent form, his hair unmoving in the breeze. He stared at the moon as if he were seeing every minute detail, its rocky and cold surface beckoning to him as did the vastness of space. He craved the void but only ever crossed into it when necessary. Otherwise, he was afraid he’d become lost and never return. That was not his purpose, and he knew his place and where he had to remain. To leave would be to abandon those fraught with grief due to their own unfortunate demise, and that was something the spirit would never wish upon any creature. 

He lifted his hand and the battered heart appeared, the agony contained within reaching a volume that could be heard throughout the cemetery. Every soul he led into the next world left their sorrows with him, and in his heart, he felt the weight of every single one. Hundreds — thousands — of cries and haunting screams rustled the energy around him, and the trees swayed with the sheer force of the energy until the spirit withdrew, the heart fizzling out to return to him.

He looked out across the cemetery before slipping off the tombstone he occupied. He didn’t walk often as mortals tended to, but after meeting the vampire earlier that night, he felt the need to think, and to think brought its own kind of melancholy. He’d never spoken to another creature at length. It had been enough to cause his entire existence to pause, but what was even more curious was the vampire’s persistence in wanting to know him. It simply wasn’t the way things were supposed to be, and a powerful anxiety claimed him, the grass beneath his feet flattening with an ethereal breeze as his energy sparked in the darkness. 

A name. The vampire had said something about a name before the spirit vanished. He knew the meaning of them and their importance, but he wasn’t anything important enough in his own mind to be deserving of one. He was just… there. He existed for his purpose and although he’d put a name to that purpose for the vampire’s sake of understanding, it wasn’t even close to the truth. The spirit sighed, a pale blue glow emanating from him as he walked among the shadows. Speaking with the vampire had brought more complications than he wanted to deal with.

Cold stone caressed the spirit’s body as he drifted through it, the mausoleum steps just below him as he hovered near the walls. Thin, vine-like branches wound their way through the narrow openings in the walls, their tendrils dry and clinging to life as they stretched over the worn surface. Silver strands of moonlight disturbed the peaceful dark and spilled upon the floor where the spirit drifted past, the stone steps leading down to introduce a wintry cold despite the budding spring above. Stopping once he was below ground, the spirit gazed around the quiet room.

Hollowed out shelves in the stonework lined the walls, their presence barely visible to the naked eye in the purest of darknesses. The spirit’s black, void-like eyes allowed him a glimpse into that world that none were able to perceive. He was as much a part of this darkness as it was of him, and within it, he could see bones lying neatly and untouched in their respective shrouds. The materials were wrought with decay and their jewels tarnished to never shine again, insects crawling over and between them on their path to devour what was left of the body beneath them. 

It was beautiful.

The spirit drifted over to a body that was much less decayed than the others, the bones jutting out where flesh had all but dissipated with time. His hand trailed over the skull that was thinly veiled with parchment-like skin, and he pressed his fingers gently into the eyes, his own falling shut as he felt a semblance of something that was once there. A sadness gripped at his chest and he pulled his hand away. These were his true friends and the only ones he could ever allow himself to have. They could not tempt him away from his purpose or claim to give him a name. They’d become just as meaningless as he, their own names lost with the passage of time. 

The spirit dropped to the stone floor among the spiders. The tomb wall behind him brought comfort as he welcomed its frigid chill, and the energy of the ever-changing earth seeped through him. He could hear every pulse within the womb of Mother Nature herself as he basked in it, and he closed his eyes once more as he took in the sound. A curious thought crossed his mind.

Perhaps the vampire would enjoy it just as much with him. If not, then all would return to as it should be and maybe he would understand.


Lestan pushed past the cemetery gates and walked briskly through the grounds. He’d arrived earlier than the night before, the moon not quite high in the sky and the stars just visible. The sounds of humanity faded behind him as he went deeper among the trees, the natural darkness washing over all in place of the streetlight’s glow. He searched for any sign of the spirit and upon finding none, Lestan settled with trying to find the exact spot he’d come across the entity before.

Even with nocturnal eyes it took time, but Lestan was able to find the stone from the night before. Everything seemed as it should and there was nothing present but a slight breeze drifting through the leaves. Lestan looked to the ground as disappointment set in and he dropped to the grass, his leather pants wrinkling as he brought his knees to his chest. He watched the tombstone for some time, his will to remain stronger than his desire to forget anything that had happened. He was certain it had, after all. He wasn’t prone to hallucinating and he remembered most details that humans did not, and he was adamant on speaking with such an interesting specter once more. He refused to let it go.

After a time, the foliage stirred around him and he perked up, a human-like form fading into existence before the tombstone. Lestan jumped to his feet and waited for the spirit to fully manifest before approaching him. He held out his hand in greeting as he had the night before. The specter watched him with unease, his form shrinking back as he looked from the outstretched hand to the vampire’s smile. 

Lestan broke the awkward silence. “There’s no harm in a handshake, is there?”

“Quite a lot coming from me.” The spirit reached out despite his words, his form coming and going as his uncertainty built. 

Lestan grasped what he could of the ethereal hand and chuckled when his fingers faded through it. As it manifested into something more solid, the vampire felt the wave of grief as he had the night before, although he hadn’t been prepared for it that time. It hit him as if he’d been punched in the stomach, the shock of it causing him to jerk his hand back. The emotions faded almost as quickly and the spirit withdrew, hugging himself as he curled up in mid-air. 

“Please, don’t touch me anymore.”

“It just caught me off guard, love. Exposure therapy, remember?” Lestan smiled. “It won’t scare me away.”

“But it’s painful for you to experience that much grief. Vampire or not.” The spirit uncurled and stood upon the ground, his form manifesting into something less ethereal. “This is why we cannot be friends.”

Lestan lifted a questioning eyebrow. “I’m not like a human, and I definitely won’t break because of a brief emotional overload. I’ve had plenty of time to deal with my own anyway, and they aren’t pretty, I assure you.” Lestan chuckled. 

The spirit couldn’t understand why the vampire was so cheerful and it caused him to fall silent in question. No. They couldn’t understand each other. It just wasn’t possible and not meant to be. The energy around the spirit caused reality to warp as he became distressed. “We cannot exist as you desire, Lestan.” The spirit brought his hands to his mouth to cope with his looming anxiety. He had felt something that he couldn’t quite explain, and it wasn’t within himself. Something was wrong. He did not change and neither did his purpose, and it would not do so now. Yet, somehow, something was changing and he couldn’t figure out what. 

“And what divine law says we can’t?” Lestan crossed his arms, defiant and confident. “How do you know what’s forbidden if you’ve never experienced anything?”

“These are good questions.” The spirit’s form flickered as he became upset, and his voice reverberated and crackled like a radio with bad reception. “Questions I am not prepared to answer.”

“Then don’t answer them yet.” Lestan backed down and gestured to the cemetery before them — a portion that he had yet to explore. “Can we walk? Just exist together for a little while?”

“Just exist?” The entity was much more favorable to this decision and the flickering ceased, his gentle and quiet voice audible again. It was then that he remembered his thoughts from the night before. Surely, after showing the vampire just how different they truly were, Lestan would leave the idea alone. “Yes. Existing is fine. Follow me.”

The two drifted through the cemetery in silence. Lestan only spoke up as he noticed something unique in their path. The spirit was content with this, never replying but smiling back to acknowledge the other’s presence. He stopped them once they reached the mausoleum he’d occupied the night before, and he drifted around front to see that it was locked. A sadness enveloped him. He didn’t have to worry about those sorts of things. “I am sorry, it seems you cannot come with me to see what I have to show you.”

“In there?” Lestan approached the chain lock and held it in his hand. The rust flaked against his fair skin.

“Yes, inside. Below.” The spirit dispersed through the peeling green doors and was absent for a second, only to resurface as his face faded through the door. Lestan found it amusing and bit his lip to keep from laughing out loud. The spirit’s distressed expression didn’t affect his humor. “There is no way to let you inside from here, either.”

“A chain lock isn’t going to keep me out, love. Move back — or don’t, actually.” He finally chuckled. “It’s not like you can actually get in the way, can you?”

“No.” The spirit’s interest was piqued as he hovered beside the vampire, watching intently as hands curled around the chain and pulled tight. The lock popped away from the metal and rust crumbled to the ground as Lestan applied his full strength, and the iron gate swung open. The vampire smiled in victory and pushed against the green doors, the lock in them still intact. It went the same way as the chain, and Lestan stumbled inside. He was careful not to fall down the stairs and stopped before them, allowing the spirit to join him. It seemed the entity was able to manipulate objects in the basest of ways only, which allowed him to close the door behind them. Despite the streaks of moonlight inside, they were awash in darkness.

“So, what’s in here?”

“Down there.” The spirit drifted ahead and Lestan followed him down into an even darker abyss. 

The pupils in the vampire’s eyes enlarged like a feline’s as he adjusted to the darkness, seeing everything on par with the entity. “Did you know them?” He looked around at the decayed forms resting in their respective hollows. They’d been down there a while, otherwise the stench would be beyond what the vampire could handle. 

The spirit stood in the center of the room, glad that Lestan could see along with him. “No. I just like it here. Come, stand still.” Lestan did as he was told and stood before the spirit in complete silence. “We are beneath the earth now. Can’t you hear it?” 

Lestan shook his head. “I hear the wind outside and the insects.”

“There’s something else. Maybe you can’t.” The spirit became sad once more but was comforted by the dull hum of the earth’s pulse. “It’s the sound of life from the source itself.”

“You can hear that?” Lestan finally understood and was in awe. “What does it sound like?”

“Listen. If you can hear the insects, you can hear the pulse. Close your eyes.” The entity closed his own and a small smile was on his lips as he heard it, the thrum surrounding his senses as he became lost in the earth’s song. Lestan had closed his eyes for a moment as well, and they stood there in silence for some time before the vampire finally reopened his eyes. The spirit seemed so serene and at peace, and he wondered what it would be like to see other positive emotions on the melancholic being’s face. It suited him more than he would likely ever be able to imagine.

Moving on pure impulse, Lestan took a step toward the spirit. He was lost in Mother Nature’s thrum and ignored the vampire’s close proximity as Lestan paused right before the specter, their noses nearly touching. Lestan’s lips parted as he observed the entity’s face up close. He found a beauty in it — in its shockingly pale features with just a touch of humanity. The coal black lips… Lestan wondered what they felt like, if they had a feeling at all. He was able to touch the spirit’s hand at times, and he was sure that while the specter was distracted he would have his chance to find out. 

Lestan slowly ghosted his lips over the spirit’s, a faint feeling of something similar to flesh meeting his own. The being finally noticed their closeness and was uncertain of what to do, his body remaining frozen as the vampire slid his tongue along the ethereal lips that had started to tremble. He finally pulled away, his form more corporeal than ever as a light blue dusted across his face. He had felt a spark of something that he couldn’t put a name to. It was warm, which was something the spirit did not and should not have experienced. It was nice in all of the wrong ways, and he backed away until he was at the wall of the mausoleum. His form was fading.

“No, don’t go, sweetheart. There’s nothing to be afraid of.” Lestan covered the distance between them and reached out to touch the spirit’s hand, but his own just bled right through. “Don’t you want to know the name I thought of for you?”

“I am not worthy of a name.” The spirit’s voice shook and became unclear again. “Please do not give me a name. I have no individuality and am not anything other than my purpose.”

“Jack. I want to call you that so I don’t have to keep referring to you as ‘spirit’.”

“Jack? No.” The spirit curled into himself as he flickered.

“It’s from a movie that reminded me of you, honestly.” Lestan smiled awkwardly. He was suddenly self-conscious. He’d never had to name anything before. What was worse was that it made the spirit highly uncomfortable, even more so than the kiss he’d attempted. 

“I must go. Please leave me and do not return.”

“I can’t do that!” Lestan panicked as the spirit began to fade entirely. “I don’t want to leave you alone. You have to be lonely by yourself existing in this agony all the time. You deserve to be happy.” His words resounded off the walls as he was alone at last. 

The vampire approached the stone wall the spirit had been huddled against and rested his head against the cold surface. “Jack — please let me call you Jack. If you’re still listening, I’ll be back tomorrow. Wait for me by the same tombstone, okay? I’ll be there until you show up. Even if it’s almost sunrise.”









The name echoed in the spirit’s soul as he rested within the void. It reverberated throughout the darkness like a strange sound, the simple syllable creating an energy of its own that burned within him. He curled into a ball, the sound of Mother Nature no longer there to comfort him as it had been moments ago. He was truly alone and at home in that darkness as he felt the agony within his heart reaching out — overpowering him. It was the only kind of pain an entity like him could feel, and it was… agonizing.

He was frightened. Everything was so unsure and he did everything he could to hold onto the memories of his solitary past, since before he met the vampire. Before Lestan moved in close and acted so peculiarly. He’d touched the spirit’s mouth with his, and then… 

A pale blue vibration rippled out across the expanse of darkness as the spirit’s form flickered. As if a candle flame threatening to go out, his form warped and formed again, its blue glow burning in a way he couldn’t quite understand. He knew what the souls told him when they’d crossed over — before he’d left them to discover their own afterlife. Many had mentioned that burning flame within themselves long after death. It was an emotion that stood the test of time and mortality, and one that he had only ever heard the name of before. 

It carried with it a need so strong that it reshaped a person’s soul entirely. For good or bad, the spirit had always seen it no better than something to tarnish what was underneath. The reality that it had tarnished him and had started to change him as well caused the tears to flow, their thin, black streams caressing his face and neck as they poured freely. 

The emotion slithered its way into his ethereal heart and pushed the comforting melancholia aside. He was lost with it and struggled to make the tears stop, but they flowed relentlessly as he curled his arms around himself. For the first time in his entire existence, he was considering a change and it wasn’t a voluntary one. Although he was not supposed to feel anything other than the grief that resided in him — the grief that lost souls stored within his form to be able to move on — he was feeling something that called forth a primal yearning that only man or beast could truly understand. 

The tears stopped and he gazed out into the void. The feeling rose up within him, caressing his form as if it were a pleasant breeze that brought forth a comforting omen. In the time he’d existed with the new emotion, nothing bad had happened. He remained just as he was and the void was still a comfort to him, and he thought no differently of anything he’d perceived before. Except for one thing in particular, and it brought the blue glow around him to a luminescence that pierced the darker edges of the blackness.

“Jack.” The name gained in familiarity as he uttered it again, and the new emotion within him fluttered at the sound. The vampire had bestowed a name upon him, and with it carried a freedom he wasn’t sure he was ready to, or could ever, embrace. There was a profound and greater reason for him to never be given a name, for his identity held one meaning that carried with it its own divine purpose. His sole purpose.


One of many fractured beliefs and thoughtforms that spread throughout the consciousness of any living creature at any time. He had been born from a need for a figure to guide those who were lost, and whatever that had been called across millions of lips expanding through time, Death had been the universal word and purpose for the guide’s existence.

To be given a name as if he were among the living, as if he were a soul like those he guided, it was impossible. It was a disruption in the natural way of things. This vampire, however, had been interesting and unique enough to him to cause such a disruption. He had always been the last sight before a soul passed into a better, or worse, plane of existence. The vampire had seen him twice now, and the spirit had to decide whether he would meet with this strange creature a third time. 

“Jack.” The name was like a breath of fresh air upon its third utterance. The flame flickered within him until the melancholy moved further to the side, this new emotion expanding to create a vague warmth that comforted him. He closed his eyes and brought forth the vivid memory of the vampire’s mouth resting against his own, and an irrational fear came to the surface. It was as if the vampire had tried to devour him, for that was the only reason he could think of for such odd behavior. Was it just the strange creature’s way of connecting with him? What would something like that reveal, and what would the vampire have to gain?

The void faded and the spirit settled upon the roof of the mausoleum. The vampire, “Lestan,” was no longer in the cemetery. The spirit placed a hand over his chest and felt the slight warmth of the flame. It was the first time he’d used the vampire’s name aloud, and he was beginning to see the power a name brought with it. Was he allowed this power? He had no way of knowing other than to test it out once more, so he dared to utter it one last time.




Lestan wandered around the mausoleum after having given up on the tombstone. It was well into the third night and the spirit hadn’t revealed any sign of his eventual presence, and Lestan was beginning to worry he’d gone too far. He often moved quickly and became familiar with people much sooner than was appropriate, but it was all due to his genuinely kind nature. He warmed up quickly and enjoyed the excitement that a new relationship of any sort would bring, but he’d never spoken with a being like the specter before. It had caused a strange sense of urgency.

The spirit’s presence held an importance to it that Lestan wasn’t ignorant of. He knew the entity had a much more important reason for being, but to see so much sadness wrapped up in one existence was unbearable. He’d tasted the grief and the raw agony on his own lips the night before, and although it had only been a small taste, he couldn’t help but wonder if there was any possibility of taming it. To see the spirit smile would make him happy enough, but he was doubting whether it would ever happen. There wasn’t even so much as a slight breeze that night.

Lestan dropped onto the steps of the mausoleum and looked down, the memory of the rusting chains still lying on the ground beside him. He remembered what the spirit had tried to show him, and he was disappointed when he couldn’t hear a semblance of what was supposed to be there. Coming to a decision, the vampire stood and opened the mausoleum doors. 

It was as dark as he remembered inside, although it was darker still due to the overcast sky. The moon and stars were hidden behind rain clouds that had only started to drip, but it became more insistent as Lestan made his way down into the crypt. The rain above met his ears as it echoed around him, the cold embracing him as if he’d walked into Hades itself. He closed his eyes as he stood in the center, a small smile creeping across his lips.

It may not have been the thrum of Mother Nature’s womb, but it was close enough. The sound of the soil collecting water as the rain poured outside, and the insects scrambling to get in, was like music to Lestan’s ears. The tapping of the drops against the roof and the panicked shuffling of a rabbit scrambling for shelter masked the wisp behind him. 

“I am sorry. I hope you haven’t been waiting long.” 

Lestan turned around to see the spirit as he dropped to the floor at a crouch, the specter’s hands coming together as he nervously fiddled with his thin fingers. The vampire smiled. “It’s fine. It gave me some time to be down here by myself.”

“You were listening for the pulse, weren’t you?” The spirit hid a shy smile. “Did you hear it?”

“I think so. Maybe not in the way that you do, but I get it. I think.” Lestan chuckled but was rendered silent as the entity approached him. He remained still and allowed the cold palm hovering before him to touch his face, and he closed his eyes as he prepared for an onslaught of grief. It was muted that time, and he opened his eyes to see that a ghastly face was inches from his own, the specter’s mouth drifting across his parted lips. 

After a time, the entity pulled back to look upon the vampire with utter confusion. “I don’t understand. What does that do?”

“What does… You’ve never…” Lestan snorted a laugh and realized his own ignorance. Of course the spirit hadn’t done that before. What reason would he have had? “Sorry. I guess that probably seemed weird.”

“What is it?” The spirit stared into Lestan’s eyes with a childlike curiosity that would have been endearing on any other creature. It only brought a focus to the void that filled him, and the frightening awareness of a vastness beyond the vampire’s comprehension. 

He had to look away as something icy gripped at his insides. A shiver traveled up his spine and he felt so small at that moment — in the reality of the vastness of everything. Could the spirit’s eyes really do all of that? “You said you’re a guide for lost souls, right? That there was a reason why you couldn’t have a name. Answer that first and I promise to answer you.”

“It’s not so easy to explain, but I suppose I could try.” The entity looked off to the side. “You are not human, but you once were, yes?”

“Yeah. A long time ago.” 

“When you were human, you experienced a horrible death. Both yours and your sister’s.”

“Yes.” The memories erased any ounce of a decent mood that the vampire had managed to salvage. Despite it, he stood firm and dared a glance back into the entity’s gaze. It was staring back at him once again.

“What was your perception of Death?”

“It was the end. I was raised to believe in a Christian idea of God and Satan — Heaven and Hell — but beyond that, I didn’t know. After my faith was betrayed…” Lestan averted his gaze, old traumas creeping back to cause an agony in his own heart. He shook his head. “I thought I’d angered God with the way Carrie and I were. It took a while to be rid of that, but honestly, I don’t know what happens after death anymore. I don’t even know what would happen if I were to stop existing as I am.” Lestan hugged himself. “Do I have a soul?”

The spirit smiled sadly. “Every thing walking this earth has a soul of some sort. I believe you do.” He reached out to comfort Lestan but withdrew. The vampire quickly grasped his hand.

It was completely solid. 

Lestan moved closer, ignoring the emotional pain the touch brought forth from the other. From Jack. “You’re so much more than what I thought you were. You’re not just a spirit. You can be whatever you want to be.”

The entity looked down and flexed his fingers, frightened at the fact that he could feel as a corporeal being. The flame flickered within him and he realized that it was making him that way, and although he wanted to disappear and forget all of this madness, he could not. The emotion’s strength refused to let him, and he looked back into Lestan’s eyes as a pair of lips drifted across his own. “You haven’t answered my question,” the spirit whispered. The words shivered with his aura. 

“It’s called a kiss.” Lestan smiled, finally understanding everything. He lifted a hand to brush the hair aside that had fallen in the entity’s face, its texture softer than he’d imagined. “What kind of chaos would happen if I kissed Death itself, I wonder?”

“No! I do not wish for that kind of chaos!” The spirit’s hands pressed against Lestan’s chest to hinder him, but the vampire refused to budge. 

“It was an honest question. What could possibly happen?”

“I… don’t know.” The spirit stared into a pair of red eyes that were swimming with something mirroring the flame within him. A strange tingle of electricity ran up his back and he froze. The vampire’s thumb caressing his cheek was the sole source.

“I don’t have anything to lose by finding out,” Lestan drawled. “And something tells me you don’t either. So, can I make a proposition?”

“Oh, I do not know if that is a wise thing to do.” The spirit flickered, but Lestan remained.

“If I kiss you and nothing bad happens, can we consider that an agreement for your new name?”

The entity’s eyes darted about nervously and he did his best to retain his corporeal form. The flame within him was making it much easier than it normally would be, and he felt an unfamiliar sense of impatience. This kiss was the thing that had started the flame, and he was more than a bit frightened to fan it. However, nothing bad had happened as he’d feared. Nothing bad had happened during any of the three nights spent with Lestan so far. The vampire also knew his true identity at last. He’d wondered if it would come forth without having to utter it. 

The entity finally conceded, nodding as he watched the vampire closely. “Yes. Yes, I can agree to that.”

“Then close your eyes, love.” Lestan brushed their noses together and was pleased to find that the cold flesh he’d felt before was still there. 

“Why must I? Does it matter?”

“It feels better that way. It’s also a bit weird to stare.” He ghosted a laugh over the spirit’s lips before teasing them, diving in as the large void-like eyes drifted shut. 

The flame’s full intensity consumed Jack. He gripped the vampire’s arms tight as his mouth was coaxed open, and he could taste every bit of the flame on Lestan’s tongue. It was powerful enough to shove the melancholy completely aside and he was drowning in the sensation. His only idea of reality faded to nothing but the feeling of the lips against his own. A quiet, content moan left him as the spark grew.

Lestan’s fingers wandered down to feel the form pressed against him, a thin figure and small hips fitting wonderfully into his hands. That simple touches brought no ill effects only emboldened him, and he melded with a body he still couldn’t be certain was real.

Another sigh echoed throughout the crypt and Lestan’s curiosity wandered further. He pressed his arousal into the body clinging to him but found no response, and he pulled back just enough to speak between them. “How much control do you have over your form?”

“All of it, I am afraid.” Jack’s voice trembled as anxiety claimed him, although he had no desire to drift away. The strange warmth within him was pleasant and allowed him a small comfort he’d never known. He wanted to bask in it — to see what this vampire had cursed him with by giving him a name. 

“Can you feel this?” Long, glassy nails drifted up the spirit’s side, and a sliver of electricity sparked from the touch. 

“In this form I can. I think.” Jack clung to the vampire as Lestan continued to create shocks of electricity that consumed him. Another sigh.

“And here.” Lestan took one of Jack’s hands and pressed it against his arousal. “Can you do that, too?”

“I… am not sure if this body can do such things.” Despite his doubts, Jack focused on the flame, finally grasping the purpose of it. It was just like the thrum of Mother Nature, but it resided within him instead of solely in the earth around them. 

Lestan hummed against Jack’s lips as the spirit moved on his own. “Right there, that’s where the greatest pleasures lie. I can show you more if you want.”

“I do not know if…”

The vampire grinned as he observed the light blue covering the spirit’s face. “Use your imagination. You at least have one of those, I’m sure.”

“Yes.” The simple word sounded lecherous in the way it fell from Jack’s lips. He yearned for something. It was a need that bestowed a bravery he hadn’t known he possessed. He would shirk all possibilities of anything horrible to get a taste of what the vampire was alluding to. The flame flickered strongly as he closed his eyes and came to a resolution. He had never desired anything before, but it demanded everything of him. As he focused on that desire, it guided his form to manifest it.

It pained Lestan to part from the entity, but he did so only temporarily. “Hey, why don’t we get out of this crypt.”

“But… is it over now?” Jack’s voice quivered.

Lestan chuckled. “No, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t amused.” He held onto the spirit’s hand, the echoes of Jack’s melancholia all but absent from them both as they made their way outside. The rain had ceased and the moon was out, and the stars were equally alight to witness something that had never happened beneath them before.


The spirit’s shroud returned and he sat up to better see the vampire kneeling before him. He took the time to observe Lestan’s naked form, entranced by the beauty of it. Before, he had thought nothing of the human body. It was a mere vessel that souls occupied until their passing, but now that he knew the delights it could bring, he saw its allure. He had taken that form himself long ago to connect with those he led into the afterlife, but now he was finding its use as a thing of pleasure. It was all quite strange, but it made sense at the same time.

“I know I said we were going to seal your name with a kiss, but I guess we went a bit further than that,” Lestan laughed. 

The sound graced Jack’s headspace like a wonderful melody. It was a music that drifted directly to the center of him, and it coaxed forth contentment. Laughter was such a beautiful thing even if he could not give it in return. He could at least bask in it as it bled through him from another. A small smile formed on his ashen lips. “Yes. Jack.” The entity extended a hand toward the vampire.

Lestan’s laughter paused and he reached out to grasp the pale hand, but it was in vain as his fingers faded through it. He sighed as he looked at the spirit with forgiveness, but it hadn’t seemed to be a bother.

“Hello, Lestan,” the spirit continued. “I am Jack.”

 Lestan’s smile grew, his fangs poking over his lip as an immense happiness consumed him. “Good to meet you, Jack.” He stood and reclaimed his clothing, redressing haphazardly as the spirit joined him. Once Lestan was decent, he pointed toward the gates in the distance. “Come with me?”

“What?” The entity’s good mood dissolved and the agonized moans within him intruded. Whispering voices surrounded him as if the wind were chastising him, their cacophony having been blocked out while he had been in such forbidden bliss. “No… No!”

“What’s wrong?” Lestan tried to reach out to comfort his friend, but it was impossible. The spirit had curled in mid-air, floating among a breeze that picked up around him. His hands gripped the side of his head and he buried his face in his knees, black tears streaming down his face. 

“I should have never done that.” He curled further until he was a trembling ball of a human form in the air. “Everything is wrong!”

“No, it’s fine, Jack.” Lestan tried to reach out once more, but he was shocked as Jack’s energy repelled him.

“It is not.” The spirit looked up, anxiety looming over him like a dark shadow as he realized all that he had done. How much he’d lost himself. He’d strayed so far, and the only thing he had ever known was now second to him. It was a disruption of the balance of everything that was his existence. “Death cannot experience love.”

“You felt love?” Lestan’s smile returned. “Don’t cry because of that.”

“But what is there for me now? I am no longer as I should be. I am frightened.” The breeze continued as the trees around them swayed in the wind, Jack’s emotions still a flurry of anxiousness. Lestan finally came to a realization as he observed it all. The way the environment reacted to the spirit was enough of a sign that the cemetery was very much a part of him, and he belonged to it. It all made sense — why the spirit had remained in that location and was so at home with it. 

But everything had been calm around them while Jack explored his own desires. If things were supposed to remain as they were, wouldn’t the protests have started long ago? It wasn’t the spirit’s changing nature that was the upset, it was his attachment and his fear of leaving. Lestan reached out again as Jack calmed, his hand bleeding through but remaining where it would grasp trembling fingers. “Hey, everything’s going to be okay. You can still exist as you are without staying here.”

“That is impossible. I have always been here. I have never been outside of this place.” Jack’s voice faded into a messy static.

“Think about it. Where do you go when Death is called for?” 

“The void. Always the void. They are… there.” Jack’s tears stopped as he thought about it. He stared into Lestan’s eyes, the agony in his own difficult to confront. “I go there.”

“Which isn’t here, right?”

“I do not know.” Jack began to uncurl and the wind died down, his feet touching the ground once more. 

Lestan’s fingers came into contact with a viscous memory of a hand, Jack’s form becoming more clear. “You can go there no matter where you are. You’re just scared. I understand.” The spirit watched him like a frightened child searching for answers. Lestan’s chest clenched with emotion as he saw it, wishing more than ever he could pull the entity into a hug. “Just come to the gates. I’ll prove to you that it’s okay.” He stepped backward, hand outstretched. “You can come back here anytime you want.”

“The edge. Only to the edge.” The spirit hesitated as he moved, his hand resting above the vampire’s as he followed. Each step was pure agony as the panic threatened to take control again, but Lestan had been good to him. He wanted to trust the vampire and believe that he would not be led astray. He had no idea what would happen once he crossed the threshold, but if Lestan said it would be okay, he felt it truly might be. He’d changed so much in such a short time as it was. It would be impossible to go back to the way things were without remembering the warmth. 

“You’re doing great, Jack. Just a bit further.” Lestan coaxed his friend forward, his heart growing lighter as the spirit continued. The roads were practically barren due to the late-night hour, and the streetlights came into view to cast a glow over the distant pavement. 

Jack’s void-like eyes reflected their glow as he stared in wonder. There was an entirely new existence out there that he’d never seen, and the newness of it filled him with dread.

Lestan’s own anxiety surfaced as the spirit stopped. “Just a few more steps. The gates are right there.”

“I do not know if I can do this.”

“You can. I believe in you, and I know you’re curious, aren’t you?” Lestan backed into the gate and it creaked open, the sound grating in Jack’s head. His form flickered slightly as he took another step. Lestan coaxed him forward once more. “Come on. You’re the embodiment of Death, you don’t have anything to fear.”

“Maybe.” The spirit’s feet stopped right before the gate.

“One more step and you’ll see that everything will be okay.” To drive the point home, Lestan stepped past the gate and reached out to take Jack’s hand.

The spirit closed his eyes and, with his form flickering, he made the final step over the threshold.

The gate clanked loudly as it latched. Lestan’s outstretched hand trembled. He hadn’t really known what would happen. He had expected Jack to disappear and retreat back into the shadows of the cemetery, but the spirit was still standing there, flickering as he had been before.

The vampire sighed in relief and smiled as anxiety ebbed away from the spirit. “You did it!”

Jack formed into something more visible and looked around, turning to look out over the dark cemetery. He had done it. “I am… fine.” He smiled.

“Of course you are, love. Now you have all kinds of things to explore.” Lestan was pleased when the entity’s hand solidified in his own.

Jack stepped close enough to wrap his arms around the vampire. “Please do not leave me alone out here.”

“I wouldn’t do something like that, don’t worry.” Lestan set his hand on the spirit’s head and rustled messy black hair. “I realize it’s not as easy to hear Mother Nature’s thrum out here, but there are a lot of other cool things to experience.”

“Yes, I believe that. And I think I can still hear it.” Jack stepped back and closed his eyes, a passing car not deterring his attention. He nodded. “Yes, I can still hear it.”

“Good. Let’s go.”

The city clock chimed four in the morning, and the traffic increased as the two wandered down the sidewalk. Rather others could see Jack or not wasn’t really a concern, but he would gain a greater appreciation for the souls he guided into the afterlife. A momentary fear gripped him as he remembered his true purpose, but it comforted him all the same to realize that it hadn’t changed. Everything was still as it should be save for his new sense of self, and he was more than agreeable to exploring it with his friend at his side.

©2020 Shane Blackheart

Poe’s Isolation


Beyond my small prison of old, creaking wood and flickering candlelight, the world falls silent. There is no raven at my chamber door, nor is there the meow of a mischievous black cat. Yet, hark! I can hear the distant cries of Annabelle Lee and the bells in the tower off the beaten cobblestone path. The gentle thrum beneath my floorboards is surely no heart but a gathering below — of people who are none the wiser.

Or perhaps, they tempt the red death slowly closing in on all of us — crushing our lungs and burning us alive.

A growing wind toys with the flame dancing in my vision. There is a storm on the horizon. Its gust spares not my journal’s pages nor my pen — but what is that? Valdemar’s cries that drift through my room. They’re from…

I turn to look toward my bookshelf, noting their emanating from that very spot. My eyes grow wide and I return to the flickering flame and my journal, my hand squeezing the fountain pen much too tight. These voices I’ve created and come to know haunt me in this silence, but they are scattered.

The raven finally makes his appearance known by tapping gently at my window, but when I look up to see the first drops of rain — the pecking of tears on the pane — nothing is there. I run my hands through my thin hair and take a deep breath. While isolation is my dearest friend, it is also my cruelest enemy.

There it is. The cat’s wailing near the–

I look hard through the dusty windows to see a shutter creaking in the wind.

Perhaps the red death has claimed me and my life is flitting before me. My creations and my ghosts, as well as the skeletons I hold dear, are the last and most important memories to guide me into nothingness.

Before my story is finished, I have but one last request.

Please, I beg you. Don’t bury me alive.

©2020 Shane Blackheart

Excerpt from a work in progress: Daniel

This is an excerpt from a work in progress. I couldn’t wait to share some of it, but first, a content warning: language and mild violence.

Daniel’s fist ached from hitting the demon repeatedly, but he swung one last time for effect. Alastair had fallen silent, except for the little taunts that would cause Daniel to flare up and swing once more. Thankfully his dominant arm wasn’t the one that had been injured, although his knuckles were bruising. The demon felt as if he were made of stone.

“Your petty outlets of human rage are hardly enough to do any real damage.” Alastair squeezed his fists where they hung above his head. “Although I’ll give you credit. You’re quite hefty for a mortal.”

“A lot of years of football does that to you.” Daniel slipped back into his room, everything still in darkness save for the setting sun through the curtains.

“You do realize this isn’t going to accomplish anything for you, right?” The demon breathed, his boredom growing. “You can’t kill me. That’s already happened once.” Alastair chuckled, ignoring the man shuffling around in his drawers.

“I can make you hurt enough. Besides, I’m pissed off and I needed a new punching bag anyway.” Daniel came back with a knife that he flicked free from its safety handle. “Guess I’ll just have to dig deeper.”

The demon finally took in the man before him, observing the way the human’s eyes glistened with malice. There was no kindness there to be seen, not for anyone. “I can see why your partner left you. You’re a ticking time bomb.” Alastair smiled. “Ah, yes. Someone’s hurt you, haven’t they? You’re certainly capable of compassion — that much is obvious. You feel too much and you act on impulse. You’ve driven away many, haven’t you—”

“Shut the fuck up.” Daniel swiped at the demon’s face, leaving a blood trail that bled for only a moment before closing. “You have no idea what I did for her. How much I love her.”

“I know more than you realize. You’re a stereotypical case of obsessive love — the locker room boy who practically bleeds testosterone and fights just to look tougher than he really is. But you cry at night, don’t you?”

Daniel paused as his chest clenched. “I don’t cry.”

“Not even over your lost love?”

“I haven’t lost anything.” The knife teased along bare skin where Daniel pulled the demon’s shirt open, leaving a trail of glistening red flesh that started to close before the knife dug deeper. That finally gained a hiss from the demon. “You’re going to make her realize that.”

Alistair growled low in his chest. “Not only are you petty and vile, you’re an idiot. Haven’t you read a damn thing in the books you referenced? Or have you chosen to ignore everything but the shortcuts you foolishly thought you found?”

“That’s the point of summoning a demon, isn’t it? A shortcut.” Of course, he’d read all he was able to comprehend. He wasn’t the uneducated moron everyone made him out to be. He did realize, however, outside of referencing a book that had already translated the language he needed and provided the symbols to make, there was a lot this demon could tell him that no book would cover. He stuttered, losing his composure. “But — but tell me anyway. Not that I don’t already know it, but I want to confirm it for myself. What do you think I’m missing?”

“Oh, ready to listen now, are you?” A sharp smile returned across Alastair’s pale face. “I’m not certain you’ve earned the right to hear anything from me.”

“You’ll tell me or I’ll start here.” Daniel raised the knife to the demon’s neck and pressed it against flesh. A sigh from above was enough to distract him, and he looked up to see the demon’s eyes lowered with a dusting of red across sharp cheekbones. An awkward feeling settled in the young man’s stomach and he drew the knife back. His face twisted in disgust. “Fuck, you’re getting off on this?”

Alastair hummed in agreement. “When you were looking to summon a demon, tell me, how much research did you do, exactly? What were the qualifications?”

Daniel paused and squeezed the knife tight in his hand, looking anywhere but at the tall form before him. “I needed a demon who knew what it was like to be human — who would know what it felt like.”

“So you thought anyone would do? That any ex-mortal would have some sort of sympathy and understand what it was like to love?”

Daniel huffed, annoyed that he was even humoring the demon with conversation. It would bring the answers he sought, at least. Although, now that he thought about it, he really had been a bit careless and rushed in his decision-making. Demons were demons, and they were all alike. Or so he thought. “That had something to do with it, yeah,” he ground out.

Alastair laughed again, this time with honest humor. “Do you know what becoming a demon does to someone? Over time, being human is an afterthought. It no longer plagues you — the disease of the human condition and petty morals are beneath you. You’re something greater and much more powerful despite the one curse you take on from your shallow existence as a mortal.” Alastair’s eyes lowered, causing Daniel’s skin to crawl. “Do you know what my curse is to bear, silly boy?”

“Besides being sick in the head?”

“Lust. And a love for the good old ultraviolence,” Alastair drawled. “So hit me. Penetrate my flesh like the sadistic artist you are. See where it gets you.”

Daniel’s words were robbed from him as he turned to search through his desk. The books he’d borrowed for longer than he should have were beneath papers and notes he’d taken, and he flipped to the back. He’d been an idiot to turn to the internet to search for keywords, but no matter how many times he went through the appendix of the books in his grasp, Alastair’s name was nowhere to be found. He finally turned to face the demon before him, the exposed flesh healed over already. There wasn’t an injury to be seen, but he would find a way to dig deep enough to leave a mark for good. Surely that wouldn’t be pleasant even to a masochistic freak.

It seemed the seals only did one thing, and that was to remove the demon’s power to overcome him. He had indeed become the demon’s master, but not in a way he’d intended.

 ©2020 Shane Blackheart

Original short horror story: Void of Everything

This is taken from a sleep paralysis nightmare I had years ago, and it’s best rated for older teens and up.


An orange light tried to escape through the clouds as it was strangled. The gray shadow from it washed over all in its path, and the brown sky foretold of a dawn that would never fully reach fruition.

I stood with my red suitcase in hand and red wool coat keeping me warm from the sea’s breeze. I paused as I walked along the narrow path surrounded by water, and the endless horizon stared back at me as if to confirm my hopeless existence. There wasn’t much to the world anymore since it had been swallowed by the sea, and I knew it would claim me someday too.

The towering, white clapboard house before me had been expanded several times over the last few years, its height climbing to an impressive six stories that caused the building to lean just barely to the right. Its red roof had been weathered by the saltwater breeze and looked like dried blood. It was all falling apart, the house bleeding as it shed its white paint into the water.

My eyes drifted to the side as I stood at the front door. A set of five steps led down into an underground room, and I abandoned my suitcase at the door to explore. Brown slate guided me to a white wooden door that was labeled, ‘Sick Room.’ I pressed my ear to it, noticing no sounds of any kind. Was I truly alone? Had my journey been pointless?

My black Mary Janes clacked across the white and red-tiled floor, the light flickering as the breeze slipped through into the stale air. Silence. The large room had a low ceiling and a round desk at the center as if ready for nurses to clock in. There were no other rooms save for the small alcoves carved out of the walls, cushions and blankets tossed about in a few of them where people had once sat reading. I wandered over to one of the books; Ray Bradbury’s, There Will Come Soft Rains.

The atmosphere was thick with stale illness and wrapped around my throat, threatening to crush my lungs. The despair trapped in the walls greeted me at once in waves, and blurred translucent forms came and went with it. The figures were all in white gowns with frowns on their faces, their eyes sunken and red with tears. So many had died here.

Fear gripped me tightly and I ran from the room to escape the nightmare. It brought me back to the doorstep and I knocked before letting myself inside. I grew weary as the weathered walls greeted me with their splattering of mold from the damp air, and as I breathed in deeply the must entered my lungs. It would only be a matter of time before this rotting corpse of a house was taken away, too.

Climbing the stairs brought me to a second landing where a woman was standing outside her door. I stilled my beating heart and observed her form, fearing she was just another ghost. She smiled, her dark olive skin creasing back into two dimples as her teeth were revealed from behind her scabbed lips.

“Hello,” I breathed, still in shock. Was she sick like the others had been?

“Hi.” The room fell silent to the waves outside once more, and I ventured forth toward a room while keeping my eyes on her. Her gaze followed me with just as much suspicion, although she hadn’t stopped smiling. Perhaps she was lonely and happy to see me, but then what of the other rooms? Was she the only one left?

I paused before entering the room next to hers. “Is anyone else here?”

“Just you and I, and a few others who keep their distance.” Her smile finally fell. There was paint on the breast of her blue overalls and her black kinked hair was frizzed as if it hadn’t been groomed for some time. Despite it, she seemed well.

I attempted to return to something less somber. “Are you a painter?”

“Yes.” She smiled again. “I have an easel outside — on the balcony. I don’t see much but the ferns, but I paint them. I’ve become very good at it and I’ve gathered a small collection.” She chuckled, her laugh childlike despite her perceived age. She looked to be in her late twenties. “Maybe you’d like to watch me paint sometime?”

“Absolutely.” I smiled again before opening the door. Flicking on the dim light revealed a moldy tan carpet, a bed strewn about, and a few piles of clothes on the floor. A small door led to a personal bathroom, and a dresser was the only other item to the side.

I threw my bag onto the bed, knowing all too well what had happened here. It was an awful way to die, but at least they were at peace now. Maybe if I was lucky, too, I wouldn’t be alive to see the small island swallowed by the sea.

I brushed aside a dirty white lace curtain and peered out across the water. Ferns darted up to the windowsill and beyond, and it allowed a sliver of the end-times’ orange light to paint a streak on my face. The sun would never rise again. It hadn’t for more than a month. Perhaps three. I’d lost track of time since it had become meaningless.

I turned my head to take in the room once more. A translucent form was on the bed beside me as I gripped the curtains in my fists, my eyes growing wide as the being watched me. I couldn’t bear its gaze begging me for something I couldn’t give. “You’re lucky. Stop lamenting,” I snapped in my anxiety.

Its hand reached out and faded through my long blond hair before it flickered. It wailed something hoarsely before fizzling out.


My new friend led me down the stairs once I’d removed my coat. She seemed excited to speak to another living person despite there being other occupants. It was the norm to avoid each other as it had been where I came from.

My city had worn down and decayed quickly as the waters lapped up onto the shore, and after a time people started dying as well. A sickness was quick to claim the young and the elderly, and soon there were no doctors able to figure out the mysterious illness. The few that remained had no desire as the world slowly died around them, and they would often spend their last days at the top of a skyscraper, staring out into the sea’s abyss as they waited to see the sun rise one last time. It was a dying wish that was never granted but held before them as the golden glow of morning paused to remain forever.

Mother nature — or whatever force was looming over us — had finally gotten angry.

The force delivered the sickness on the sea’s air, its invisible hand sprinkling pestilence throughout the world. I’d contracted a weak strain and recovered, which very few managed to do, and was left immune. I sat in my living room for days barely eating, watching as my family died one after the other around me. It hadn’t spared the dog or the cats either, and by the end of its reign in my home, I was certain I’d been chosen as one of the few who would suffer for all that humanity had done. To die would have been a mercy.

My travels had brought me to where I now stood, spinning around in a room covered with beautiful paintings that were equally macabre. Their chunky, golden and intricate frames displayed them as an art exhibit would, and the smile that graced my face was genuine. It had been so long since I’d seen something so beautiful — something that captured the hopeless fear in my heart so vividly. The faces twisted in agony behind thick oil paints reminded me of my family in their last moments, and I felt they were there with me.

I turned back to my friend, who had also been admiring the paintings. They stretched up past the second story into the third and climbed up through the rest. It was the focal point of the house and others were joining us or had joined us, although at a distance. Their eyes followed our every move as if we would bring the plague upon them ourselves, although it was clear a few of them were already on their way out. Their dry skin and cracked lips were enough of a sign with the sunken sockets in their heads.

“What’s your name?” I finally returned to my friend. She was an odd one in that place. She hadn’t feared me from the beginning like the others.

“I don’t have one anymore.” She didn’t seem bothered by this in the slightest. “What’s yours?”

I mused for a moment before quirking my lips. “I don’t have one anymore either.”

“Neither did he — the man who built this place.” The girl pulled me over to an area where an oak desk sat with stains and papers and books scattered about it. I noticed a few anatomy books and notes about disease. “Look. This is him.”

I followed her hand to see a large painting of a sallow looking man, his face thin and gaunt and his short gray hair flattened to the side. He looked tired, and I wondered for a moment if he’d managed to capture himself within the painting to live forever. It was the goal of having a portrait done or painting your own, although it would do no good now.

A soft whispering met my ears as the thought crossed my mind, and the oils in the man’s hair swirled as if it were swaying in the wind. The painting’s eyes dragged slowly down to see me and stared, and I stared right back. There was a blankness to his expression and I knew why. He’d failed. He’d built this place to try to save everyone — it was evident in the sick room downstairs and the books on his desk. He hadn’t had time, which was also apparent in the house’s design. It’s odd, slanted, towering build was enough to speak of his desperation to escape the rising tide.

“He painted all of these, ” my friend continued. “They were once beautiful, but as he grew sick, it warped his view of how anything appeared.”

“Yes, I got a taste of that,” I remembered. Although I hadn’t come down with the illness to a fatal degree, I’d experienced the hallucinations. The morning my mother came into my bedroom to bring me breakfast on the third day of my sickness, I hadn’t recognized her.

Her face looked just like the paintings, her features smeared to the side and dripping from her face as if she were melting before me. I watched flesh drop onto the floor like candle wax as it left tears in her skin, and from the decaying muscle crawled small centipedes to slip back into her ears.

I screamed and shoved her with all of my remaining strength. The tray with water and Spam rations flipped back into her body, and she knocked her head on the open door in her fall to gain a concussion as blood trickled into the white carpet. My father came running and screamed into an echoing void far from me, and I sunk into my bed with clenched teeth as I stared at the ceiling. It would be a week later before I could look at another human being again.

I returned to my friend who had been calling out to me. I was face to face with the painting of the founder, my neck aching as I stood directly in front of it to touch its textures. I dropped my hands immediately and backed away. I’d gone on autopilot again. The illness had left me with a strangeness that still invaded my waking life, and often I would fall asleep only to end up awoken to stand before a mirror. At times I would lose my memory as well and wake up a stranger to myself.

“Did you see it?” My friend asked.

I turned to her, shaking off what had happened. “See what?”

“Him.” The girl moved to the painting and stared up at it. “He haunts this place, and I’ve heard others talk about seeing him before they died. It’s a bad omen.”

“No.” I forced a laugh. “I was merely intrigued by the beautiful work. He’s long gone, I’m sure.”

“No, not the founder.” The girl turned to look at me with a hard gaze that chilled me to the bone. “He’s the harbinger of the end. The founder saw him before he died, too.”

“Did he paint him?”

“He didn’t dare.” The girl hugged herself and looked as if she would cry, her eyes darting about the room. “Can we leave now? I’d rather show you my work.”

“Yes, of course.” I grew exasperated. She’d been the one to lead me to the gallery, but perhaps she’d survived the illness as well and saw something she shouldn’t have.


The balcony’s breeze was enough to coax me into sleep, but I fought it off as I sat beside my friend. She stared intently at the ferns before us as she painted them, the picture only slightly varied from the last. I hadn’t questioned the strange nature of her repetitiveness, but nothing had been said between us since we’d left the gallery. I didn’t miss the silence. “Would you like to paint my portrait?” I offered.

She turned to observe me and nodded. “Yes, you’ll look lovely within the ferns.”

I couldn’t hold back the laugh that graced me for the first time in a long while. “Then so it shall be.” I threw my arm over the back of the chair, my off the shoulder gray sweater drooping as I crossed my legs and became comfortable. She began to paint once more over the ferns she’d already detailed. “Did you know the founder? You talk as if you were familiar with him.”

She smiled sadly. “He was my father. Not by birth, but he took me in after my parents died. I was very young.” She paused to look at me. “How old do I look now?”

I pondered and wiggled my fingers. “Twenty-seven? Twenty-nine?”

She giggled. “Twenty-three.”

“Close enough, I suppose.”

“I was five.” She returned to painting, her ability to paint a person lacking in comparison to the plant life she so explicitly studied. “My mother and father found this place and brought me here before it was as large as you see it now. I think it only had two stories at the time, and the sea hadn’t quite taken over yet. Originally, it was a homeless shelter for those stricken by the war, and the founder had dedicated his small fortune to helping all of us.” She faltered. “The bedroom you are now in was my brother’s.”

A lump formed in my throat and I tensed. The form on the bed — the wailing. It had been her brother in his last moments, and he had pleaded with me. Was he asking me to look after her? “I saw him,” I blurted.

She turned to face me. “My brother?”

“I was sick once.” I picked at my nails, not wanting to see her expression. I would soon be sleeping in the same bed her brother died in, and I wondered what dreams it would bring me. If they would be the same feverish dreams the man had in his last moments to punish me for disturbing his sacred space. “I was one of the few to recover and become immune, but it left me with the ability to see things beyond reason.”

“I was sick, too.” My friend had ceased painting altogether and picked at her paint-covered overalls. “I’m not sure how I recovered, but the founder nursed me back to health.” She finally looked up at me, horror in her brown eyes. “I saw things too. Awful things. It’s why I avoid going into my brother’s room and I moved from my parents’.”

“That’s for the best. I think he wanted me to look after you.” I smiled in an attempt to lighten the atmosphere.

Sadness twisted her face and she looked like the child she once was. Tears streamed down her cheeks. “I’ve been so lonely. I’ve watched everyone die — everyone in the gallery is dying too. They fear people like you and me. They think our purpose is to carry the illness to others. As if we were Mother Nature’s walking message of her divine wrath.”

“And perhaps we are.” I reached out to take her hands and watched as she chewed on her lip, reopening the scabs that had closed. “But what can we do about it? What can we–”

A rustling in the ferns.

My heart leaped into my throat and I sat up to look through the wooden banister of the balcony. The rustling stopped. “Did you see that?”

“No, did something happen?” She turned to look in the direction I’d fixated on.

“An animal? I thought all the animals died.”

“They have. Unless there are a few who were immune like you and me?” Her hopes were clear in her voice as she jumped up and ran to the side to look out into the ferns. “A deer? A cat? A dog? A fox? How wonderful would that be?”

“No, step away.” Dread blind sighted me as I was awash in a cold sweat. By her legs were two clawed black hands gripping tight to the banister. All else was black as the void except for a sun-dried cow’s skull resting on its shoulders, the rest of its body cloaked in a large black robe. Two white ethereal lights shone dimly in the eye sockets and stared into my soul. It was reading me, judging me as it pondered my existence.

“What is it? What’s the matter?” The girl turned to see my alarmed state and approached me, and as she did everything was set into motion. The stirring of her tennis shoes on the grime-covered deck coaxed the being from the ferns and through the fencing where it stood stationary with its sight locked on me.

I grabbed her arm and pulled her in the direction of the door, and we ran through the house and downstairs until we reached the gallery once more. I paused to catch my breath, the few people scattered about in the leather armchairs turning to watch us with rapt attention. As I glanced up at them, they reminded me of predators waiting to strike their prey in self-defense.

I swallowed hard. “You didn’t see it?”

“No, was it a hallucination?”

“I don’t know.” Tears welled up and poured down my cheeks, and I pulled my friend close to rest my head on her shoulder. A memory struck me and I jerked my head back up in the direction of the founder’s painting. “What does he look like?”


“The harbinger,” I spoke through choked tears. My friend backed away from me to my horror, and she stared at me with uneasiness. I couldn’t bear to lose the last friend I would ever have, and I regretted saying anything, but the anxiety gripping my heart so tight it hurt was my master, and there was nothing I could possibly take back.

“He’s been described as a moving shadow.”

“A man with skin like midnight and a large dark robe?” I couldn’t still the shaking building in my hands. “A cow’s skull for a head? And those eyes… They aren’t eyes but a glimpse into the universe itself.”

“You’ve seen him.” She backed away further. “Another shift will take place, and you’ve brought it upon us.” Emotion crept into her voice and spilled over her face. “It is said he chooses his messengers, and to see him when you are not destined to be among the dead means he’s chosen you.”

“Oh god–”

“And God has grown sick and died as well.” The young woman’s frown curved to an impossible degree, and her sad eyes reflected those of her brother’s as he reached out to me in his bed. “But it’s not your fault. You did not ask to be the next messenger.”

“Can I stop it? Can he be overcome?”

“No, it’s inevitable.” The girl glanced back at the people in the chairs, their bodies tense and their eyes burning wide with hatred. They hadn’t noticed the man slouched over among them, lifeless at last. “You’d better return to your room. They already think you’ve damned them.”


I shot up in bed and looked around the dark room.

A faint white glow was coming from outside, and I rolled over in my white satin nightgown to throw open the curtains. Darkness. It was night. It hadn’t been night in so long, and I wondered, foolishly, if the sun had fallen from the sky. Or had it simply given up in its attempt to bring the day?

But the glow wasn’t from the moon that had long ago abandoned us.

My lungs burned as I struggled to breathe through the panic attack that was shaking me to my core. The glow in the sky was in the shape of a large eye, and it was unmoving as it stared down at me. I jerked the curtains shut, but the lace allowed the glow to filter in, and as I followed it, it fell upon the door as a guide. I blinked hard and turned to face it. It remained.

I crossed the room on quick feet to open the door and stared into the dark walkway twisting around the stairs. To my right was my friend’s room, and I made my way over to it to try the handle. It was locked tight and I didn’t blame her. I leaned back against it and sighed, staring down the stairway into the dark abyss. It rippled.

Steeling my resolve, I crept down the stairs and into the first floor parlor, searching for any sign of anything significant. I knew I was a fool to chase the message being laid out for me, but if there was any way I could manage to delay or stop the next shift, I had to do it. My life had become meaningless since the sea swallowed most of everything, and that foolish human determination to be something before it all ended tugged at my heartstrings. No one would be here to know, and nothing I did would ultimately matter, but there was still at least one person I cared about in existence. As long as that was true, it would matter to her.

The archway I slipped beneath revealed a very large kitchen with the same red and white tiles as the sick room. In the center was an island with various cooking utensils and a steel commercial stove sat before it. The far wall was lined in windows that once allowed the sunlight to grace the space, but now it was merely awash in the pale glow from the eye in the sky.

A quiet choking sound slipped from my throat as I caught sight of the dark form in the center of the glow. It lifted a hand to beckon to me, and I leaned into the archway to grip the frame tight. I shook my head, fear winning over my earlier feelings of bravery. It continued to curl its finger in a taunting motion to coax me forward.

“Did you choose me?” My voice shook as I attempted communication, but the being continued as if I’d said nothing. “Are you the harbinger?” It remained silent. I took a deep breath and stepped into the kitchen.

The faint glow in its eyes was the same color as the one outside, and it grew in intensity as I approached. Its aura reached out to me in welcome and eased my nerves, and I was soon at peace as I stood before it. I had no doubt then that it had chosen me to be the sign of the end — it was time to finish what was started.

I dropped to my knees as a powerful need overwhelmed me, and my hands crept up a pair of thighs over the black robe. It dropped to the floor along with the dull thud of the mask, and as I stared up at the harbinger, I saw nothing but black with two glowing lights where the shape of the head rested.

It drew me back up with a claw beneath my chin and pulled me flush against its form. It was cold and nothing solid, but I felt its figure nonetheless as an ancient being made up of everything that was the beginning of all. I allowed myself to sink into its greatness as it raised my leg, and soon my body was filled and gripping tight around the void that entered me.

I gasped at the intrusion and curled my toes, but there would be no pleasure to be had in this intimate ritual. My womb was quickly injected with something ice-cold, and it was enough to shock me back to my senses. The freeze crawled into my belly and swirled about, and I was released to stand on my own. I grasped at my stomach and stared at the figure who remained a mere shadow of a man. “What have you done to me?”

A void of stars formed as it expanded to become its mouth and its eyes flickered. A hissing wail emitted from it that drew out my screams, and I ran from the kitchen.

I felt it behind me and around me, and as I crashed through door after door, tripped up stairway after stairway, I became lost in the dark. The cold swirling in my belly grew and I became sick, but I pushed on for reasons unknown. I was no longer being driven by survival but a strong need to find the end, and I knew it was somewhere higher. I had to get higher despite my fear telling me to escape the harbinger.

At last, I climbed to the top floor and threw open the balcony doors, stepping out onto the deck to look out across the sea. The lapping of the calm water and the glow of the eye that seemed larger than ever lulled me into a trance, and I once again felt the cloaked figure near. It came up behind me and spread its arms wide, and the ferns below us parted to clear a path to the sea below that had finally sloshed to the foundation of the house.

With heavy-lidded eyes, I gripped the balcony and leaned over it, and the cold in my stomach expanded. The entity behind me held its arms out to keep the path clear, and I climbed up onto the railing. With the sea’s winds rushing through my hair, I plummeted to the waters below, the crash causing my stomach to pop open with a myriad of stars and a black void.


When the moon rises in the sky I envelop its brilliance with my glow. The blackness that is everything swallows the world and all are none the wiser to its monotony.

But everything is made up of the stars and the nothingness that has been and will be, and the seas will lap upon the shores until it is time for the harbinger to bring a cleansing to Mother Nature’s soul.

You are all my children. You are part of my everything that will be and what was, and if I am betrayed once more I will choose another to bear many more stars and moons and suns, and perhaps one day I will finally lay all to rest.

©2020 Shane Blackheart

[M+]Excerpt from Gabriel – original writing

I haven’t posted anything in a while, so I figured I could post this bit of inspiration I got today. This is an excerpt from a longer story I have in progress. I had horrible writer’s block with it until today when this moment hit me out of nowhere. It was deviously fun to write and will be part of the book, but a warning: It’s rated as mature content for a reason. Byleth is pretty liberal with his language most times, and this scene is kind of spicy, but more so in an emotional aspect. It could also be considered a bit offensive. The book itself is an LGBTQ+ erotic fantasy, although this scene does not contain anything explicit other than language.

Gabriel stormed into Byleth’s flat and crossed his arms once he reached the bar, refusing to look at the fallen king behind him. He couldn’t allow himself to fall into any more depravity because of the deviant, and he would put a stop to everything right now. “Byleth, no more.”

“Oh, so your high wore off. Great. Killed my buzz.” Byleth huffed as he fell onto the bed. Gabriel had been more than jovial on their walk home from the concert, the weed that had been passed around to them potent enough, especially for a first-timer like the angel. When Gabriel’s wings had come out after his high kicked in, everything had come to a stop as Byleth snapped his fingers to rush them out of the theater. The Doors would be around again soon, no doubt, but Byleth was more eager to play with the angel’s tolerance for certain things. Acid had been potent as well as grass, but now that it was wearing off, as with the acid before, Gabriel was coming to his senses. That wouldn’t do.

“I’m not even supposed to be doing this sort of thing!” The angel finally turned around, his arms wrapped around himself. He couldn’t meet Byleth’s eyes. It would only remind him of the forbidden things he’d done with the fallen king the night before. “All of this is new to me, but I see now that it’s only a way for you to manipulate me.” He braved a glance at Byleth’s red eyes that were staring right at him. “That’s been your plan, hasn’t it? Our discussion this morning meant nothing to you?”

“I’m getting a fucking headache, which isn’t something I have to deal with. Congratulations.” Byleth pushed up off the bed and approached the bar beside Gabriel to pour a drink. It was a metaphorical headache, of course. “I know what we discussed. I don’t hate you like I do the others, Gabriel. I’m just trying to show you a good time while you’re here — which, by the way, you never elaborated on. Care to?”

Gabriel fell silent and stared at the floor. When he didn’t speak up for some time, Byleth turned to face him with a strong drink in his hand. It was an awkward moment before the angel figured he should say something. “May we agree to enjoy our time here without mind-altering substances?”

“You mean to tell me you didn’t like feeling human for a minute?” Byleth smiled and shoved the drink in Gabriel’s direction. There were many tricks he could play to loosen the angel up that he wouldn’t expect, a good glass of gin and tonic a great place to start. Byleth took his own glass as Gabriel sipped his.

The angel grimaced and swallowed hard. “What in Heaven’s name is this awful concoction?”

“Something to tame your tensions, turtle dove.” Byleth took a large drink from his own and returned to the edge of the bed. He snapped his fingers and a record player kicked on across the room to play ‘Get Ready’ by the Temptations.

Gabriel stared suspiciously at the glass as he leaned back against the bar, sniffing it before taking another drink. “It burns.”

“It’s supposed to. You’ll be feeling warm and fuzzy in no time.” Byleth chuckled. The angel would be a lightweight for certain, which he was all too happy to witness.

“This isn’t another of your strange substances, is it?” Gabriel took another drink despite his concerns.

“Most humans enjoy this sort of thing. It isn’t taboo if that’s what you’ve got your feathers in a bunch over.”

“Oh, I see.” Gabriel took a bigger drink that time, the warmth spreading down into his stomach where it lingered. He had to admit that it felt very nice, and it wasn’t messing with his perception of reality like the other two things. He was also aware, as the minutes ticked by and after a second glass, that he was feeling particularly fuzzy and happy, and his skin was warm.

“Feeling good now, are you?” Byleth bit his lip to keep from laughing at the angel, his tolerance much higher. It took more than three glasses of the stuff to affect him, and Gabriel was already practically swooning over the sensations from two small glasses. ‘Come and Get Your Love’ by Redbone came over the speaker, which was enough to get Byleth in the mood. He leaned back on the bed on his elbows, drink still in hand. “Get over here, pigeon.”

“Oh, no. No, see, I see what you’re doing, Byleth, and it won’t work this time. No, sir.” Gabriel was speaking much more freely now, although he was still very aware of the king’s deviousness. No amount of muscle peeking through a half-buttoned shirt, nor a pair of bellbottoms that were much too tight would distract him. “Oh, dear.”

Byleth arched an eyebrow. “Get your angelic ass over here.”

Gabriel was already reaching behind the bar for the bottle of gin, not realizing that what he’d been consuming before was a mixed drink. Byleth smirked and let it happen, laughing quietly as the angel groaned and made a face of extreme displeasure. “I must purge these wicked thoughts.” Gabriel turned to Byleth, glaring. “The only drink I can trust is one made by my own hand. You shan’t trick me again.”

“Oh yeah? Go for it.” Byleth watched as Gabriel downed the gin in his glass. “But do it over here.”

Gabriel rounded the bar and grabbed onto the edge of it, dizziness hitting him. He nearly dropped the half-full glass in his hand. “You can’t make me this time.”

Byleth lowered his eyes. “Come. Here.”

The tone in the king’s voice sent a shiver up Gabriel’s spine, and it alarmed him. He wasn’t sure exactly what possessed him, but he met Byleth’s gaze and answered with a breathy, “No.”

“Excuse me?” Byleth stood to approach the angel and observed him. Oh. It was happening again, it seemed. The fallen king smiled, two small canines poking over his lip. “Are you defying me?”

Gabriel licked his lips nervously and avoided Byleth’s gaze, his cheeks growing red. Why did everything feel so good right now? Surely it wasn’t from the drink. “Y-yes. My answer is no.”

Bullshit. Byleth circled around the angel and trailed a finger up Gabriel’s arm. He could smell the gin on the angel’s breath as he breathed heavily. “What’s the matter, pigeon? Can’t handle your gin?”

“I am not a pigeon.” Gabriel tensed as he felt hot breath drift across his neck as Byleth came close only to draw back again, chuckling.

“You’re a fucking pigeon. A messenger pigeon, more like it. God’s little bitch.”

Byleth’s baritone laughter went straight south, and Gabriel was quickly downing the rest of his drink for something less awkward to do. “Your language…”

“Am I offending you?” Byleth mocked a sound of sympathy and set his glass on the bar, coming up behind Gabriel to run his hands up the angel’s back where wings would otherwise be present.

Gabriel twitched more from pleasure than annoyance. “It is inappro — inappopiate…” Gabriel trailed off, his buzz strengthening. He had no doubt he’d consumed something else that was causing that debauched feeling to come back, although this time he was aware of every second. He was also very aware of how much the sober Gabriel very much liked this sort of thing deep inside, and this strange drink only brought it out of him. He shivered.

“Oh? Inappropriate, huh? What if I said I didn’t give a fuck about your sensibilities?” Byleth was sure to moan out the ‘fuck’ to torture the angel further.

“Please, Byleth.” Gabriel teared up as he fought his true desires. They were eating him alive, and he was frightened by them.

Byleth paused and watched the angel’s eyes become red around the edges as tears threatened to spill forth. A smile tugged at his lips. “Are you going to cry?” A sadistic pleasure rushed up inside him and he came close to Gabriel, grabbing the angel’s jaw and forcing it to look up at him. “You gonna cry, baby?”

“Why are you so cruel? Why — why do you…” The drunkenness robbed further speech from Gabriel as Byleth’s touch sent a wave of arousal through him.

“Pigeons are supposed to coo, sweetie, not whine.” Byleth reached down and slid a hand along the bulge that had formed in the angel’s corduroy pants. It brought a breathy moan from the form in his grasp. “Much better.”

The tears finally spilled over, but not from misery. Everything felt so wonderful and Gabriel knew he was powerless to deny himself what he had come to enjoy. He was already surely damned for what they’d done together the other night, so what was once more? But that was how it started. Soon, Gabriel was sure, if he ever came across God again in his shame, he would end up in the flames with this devil. “I’m debauched,” he slurred. “Indecent.”

Byleth hummed in approval, grabbing a fist full of the angel’s shirt to drag him over to the bed. “Beautiful words. Are you getting it now?” Byleth’s own buzz had set in and he was more than eager to give the angel another test drive.

“Unfortunately.” Gabriel fell on top of Byleth as they stumbled backward onto the bed. He lifted himself up onto his hands and stared down at the being that would surely be his undoing on a grand scale. “Why have you done this to me? Why me?”

“Because I like it.” Byleth untucked the angel’s shirt and pulled the buttons open, teasing his claws up quivering sides. “And so do you.”

“Do I? Oh God, do I?” Gabriel was close to tears again as a pulse below nearly pulled another moan from him. He felt Byleth’s arousal just as strong against his own as the fallen king gently bucked up against him.

Byleth lifted his head to lick away a tear trail and whispered against the angel’s face. “You love it.” He pulled back and rocked his hips into Gabriel’s once more while staring into a pair of glazed blue eyes. “This beautiful cock of yours isn’t so angelic right now, is it?”

“That’s so… dirty.” Gabriel’s eyes fell shut and he met Byleth’s rhythm with his own. “It burns and it aches, and it’s so, so, so miserable. But why do I like it?” He stopped and stared down at Byleth, his tears drying. “Why?”

The fallen king chuckled. “We need to get you drunk more often, sugar.” He beckoned for the angel to close the distance between them, and he was pleased when Gabriel fell into a kiss that had them both breathless.

©2020 Shane Blackheart

March 18, 2020 update: Byleth and I did a reading of this here:

STIGMA – book trailer

I don’t have publishing details or anything yet for my book, but I wanted to make something for fun since I love this project so much. It’s extremely close to my heart in many ways, and I wanted to share the excitement in a more creative way than just typing about it.

So, here is a book trailer I spent a few days creating. My editor and I are working on the final touches to the book, and we’re discussing possible publishing avenues. Traditional or Indie is my highest hope! Either way, no matter which type of publishing I pursue, the book will be published as soon as everything is worked out. When that time comes, I’ll be sure to update this video with any relevant information.

Until then, hopefully you enjoy the little trailer I put together and it sparks some interest in you.

The Ultimate Trick – Original horror story

The sepia sky threatened to choke the sun that afternoon.

A memory of a storm that was ever present on the horizon stole my thoughts as I jogged across town. My phone was to my ear, but my mind was elsewhere, the line falling dead a sign that I was either being ignored or my friend was busy. I sighed and slipped the phone back into my pocket as I approached the rickety white gazebo at the town’s center. There was a sparse motion of old cars driving around it — a roundabout having been installed many years ago as if to honor the very spot.

Nothing else existed in that circle of lawn except for that antique bit of woodwork. No flowers graced its presence nor did the grass grow very well, and if there had been any trees they were mowed down long ago. Between its sorry existence and the threatening sky, I was reminded of why I felt it was imperative that I be at that very spot.

It was a similar scene and atmosphere to a dream I’d experienced the night before. As most odd dreams were, it was a hazy memory that left me filled with an uneasiness I’d been darkened by in the dream itself. It was as if there was another force at work in the middle of that traffic circle — something of warning to forbid anything living to occupy its same space. I stared up at the decaying structure in wonder, sensing a fizzled out presence that I was certain I hadn’t imagined. I chuckled.

Dreams and nightmares were just that, and my friend had probably ditched me because of my all-too-obvious madness.

My phone buzzed in my pocket and I answered, my friend’s presence finally alerting me to the fact that she wasn’t freaked out by me — yet. She wanted to meet at the convenience store across the way to grab a few things before humoring my weird dream visions, but it was already too late. I turned to see the aging family-owned restaurant at the other end of the small town. I was already late for work.

The phone no sooner went dead before I noticed a familiar form approaching the old country store. I watched through narrowed eyes as it most definitely was my friend. Odd. She’d been home — about a mile away — when we’d spoken. Yet, there she was as if a strange doppelganger was poking fun at my already unnerving bout of mania.

I shook it off and made my way into the restaurant. All was dark until I turned on the lights, which didn’t really help matters. At most I could make out the moth-eaten faded pink table cloths, retro decor, and the smell of old wood that I liked most of all. I shook my head again, my mind getting away with me. It was probably just anxiety; tunnel vision was a bitch when your brain was in a different reality entirely. The nightmare was getting to me, and whatever had been present in that odd place in the center of town was clearly trying to one-up me.

A back room that was also the kitchen served to be no better. A small mouse scuttled across the yellow and white tiled floor that caught me by surprise, but I noticed a dirty plate with rotten food spread out across the stove burners. A glance up revealed a small window to be propped open, and a few dried specks of blood popped out against the metal frame. Lovely.

“What in the hell is this?”

I jumped and grabbed at my heart, forcing the thing back into my chest. My grandma had crept up behind me and examined the damage, shaking her head.

“I locked it up last night, I swear,” I stammered. My head was as full as a balloon from my anxiety now, the pressure threatening to pop. “I have no idea how anyone could have gotten in.”

“Well, can’t be helped now. We should clean up before we open.” She flicked on the old-fashioned red faucet handles and grabbed a bottle of Ivory soap.

I climbed onto the counter to shut the window and locked it tight, and took in the rest of the kitchen. Although the old bulbs were doing their best to provide light, the window’s closing had stolen any sign of day from the room. I swiped a finger across the glass and cringed when a line of dust settled. Food and Safety wasn’t going to be happy about that.

I then turned my focus to my grandma’s submerged arms. The pale green plate in her hands turned over and over in the suds, the food having been tossed in the disposal. Something dawned on me then as I became hypnotized by the monotony.

“That homeless woman that camps out back sometimes,” I offered. “Do you think it was her?” An image of a scraggly woman with long blonde hair, old round wire-framed glasses, grimy clothing, and sooty skin crossed my mind. I’d only seen her a few times before, but my heart sank at the memory of her. I couldn’t be angry. I made a point to leave food for her after closing up.

My grandma confirmed my suspicions, nodding. “I wish I knew what kind of tricks she pulled to get in here. That window’s pretty high.”

“People get desperate when they’re hungry.” I shrugged as I remembered the dried blood on the frame.

“It’s a damn shame.” My grandma flicked water everywhere before turning to me with a towel. “Let’s open this place up. We hired a new waitress and she needs training.”

* * *

Later that day, the sky seemed to grace the stale atmosphere with more luminescence through the restaurant windows.

Business was slow as it tended to be, but the mood was light and the food was delicious. My grandpa had stopped by and was greeting my grandma at the door, I sitting at a booth to chat with a few of the regular patrons. The new waitress came by and fumbled her tray, and I held my breath before she righted it again and sat a guest’s order safely on a table. My grandpa and grandma joined us.

The guests turned their attention to my grandpa, who had taken several seemingly trivial items from his pocket; an elastic string, a few metal rings, a gathering of beads, and other odd bits and pieces. I looked on with my grandma and the others with curiosity, our faces beaming. Grandpa had always been an entertainer, so there was no doubt that he had some tricks up his sleeve to impress.

Grandpa eyed the attractive young waitress and beckoned for her to come forward. He’d been messing with the beads and string for a distraction, but lifted the ring as if to aim it in the proper direction. The young woman leaned forward, and in a blink the ring was through her nose. For a moment she panicked but settled her conscience as pain seemed to elude her. Grandpa laughed while everyone stared in awe, I craning my neck to see any sort of way it had been done. Just as quickly as it had appeared, grandpa snapped his fingers before removing the ring in a swift motion, his other hand flat in the air in a waving motion for show. The few patrons clapped as well as the waitress once she realized it had all been an illusion.

At least, I was certain it was an illusion.

As grandpa started a new series of magic tricks, my tunnel vision returned and I stared off to the far corner of the room, my eyes tracing the vintage floral wallpaper. As long as I’ve been alive, grandpa had always been full of the perfect jokes, and he’d always impressed everyone with his strange ability for sleight of hand. I’d asked him how he managed such impossible tricks, but he could never give a clear answer. His usual, ‘A magician doesn’t give away his secrets!’ went in one ear and out the other as I’d finally just decided to accept the unexplainable. I couldn’t help but shake an odd sense about them, though. They didn’t feel or seem like atypical magic show tricks, but completely random things my grandpa would come up with off the top of his head. This removed any ability for him having rehearsed them.

I was brought out of my thoughts when the friend I’d contacted earlier came up behind me. Her hand on my shoulder reminded me of our meeting, and that I’d completely forgotten and left her standing in that weird space at the center of town. Thankfully, she wasn’t angry in the slightest and shoved her way into the booth beside me, and we settled in to watch grandpa perform more of his illustrious magic.

* * *

I’d completely forgotten about the gazebo and the strange dream that led me there. Instead, I headed toward my grandma’s house that was a block away, she staying behind to close the restaurant. I’d hugged myself in embarrassment during that conversation, ashamed that I couldn’t even lock up a place correctly. Although I was entirely certain I’d done just that, my head had been in odd places all day and since the day before, and I chalked it all up to my mania and my nerves.

My friend had gone home and my grandpa had left at some point as well, most likely due to fatigue from old age. I smiled and humored myself with a silly thought. Maybe he needed to recharge his magical powers somehow, just like a wise old man from a fairy tale. Perhaps he even had a deep secret he had to keep hidden somehow — a wizard sworn to secrecy who had to play his feats off as simple parlor tricks.

I yawned as I kicked off my shoes by the front door of my grandparents’ house. The newly cleaned cream carpet was plush beneath my feet, and I wiggled my toes as the feeling of wanting to lay on it washed over me. I did just that, staring up at the swirled white ceiling like I had as a child. The memories were fleeting, but I remembered lying on my back and telling stories with my friend, our game to continue as long as we could manage while staring at the ceiling and not moving an inch. Whoever ran out of ideas or moved first lost the game. Very vaguely I recalled her telling a story about wolves…

I jumped up into a sitting position as I heard faint shuffling. A distinct smell of decay overwhelmed me just as quick, and I was flooded with a range of emotions that rendered me completely speechless. I threw my hand over my mouth and nose, wondering how I’d missed it all before. My empathic abilities were heightened when I was manic, and it was like being punched in the stomach. It always hit me at once before I had any time to sort any of it.

My breathing quickened and my eyes grew wide. Too much. I felt too much and my skin was crawling. I had to move — knew I had to get off of the floor and find the source of the coppery smell invading my senses. As I managed to stand at last, I searched for a memory of the smell. I knew I’d caught it before, and it was recently. Yes, it was at the restaurant. It was when I’d found the specks of blood on the window.

Dread settling over me moved my legs on impulse. The only light in the house was that of the sinking sun shining through the blinds — the slitted rays painting everything orange that they touched. The kitchen and the living room were empty and silent save for the same inkling of a dreadful presence I’d felt at the center of town. I made my way down the hallway to the bathroom. The smell grew stronger.

Was the dream a warning? Had I missed a message by not going back, and not probing further for the presence that was growing stronger the further I walked?

I was nearly gagging as the smell of decay suffocated me. I reached out to touch the white bathroom door that was just barely ajar and noticed the lights were on inside, spreading out across the hallway as the door creaked on its hinges.

I choked on the lump that formed in my throat.

My eyes followed a trail of blood that split out across the white tile, and it ended in a pool surrounding a young woman in an old-fashioned waitress’ dress. I recognized her instantly from the restaurant. Her eyes were open wide in a memory of fear, and they were now glazed over as they stared up at me. I stared back with rapt attention, unable to tear myself away from the grisly sight. Nausea crept up into my throat and gripped at my stomach, and I felt a strange pull at the back of my head as I began to hyperventilate.

Tunnel vision. Can’t breathe. Dizzy — so damned dizzy.

And then the void.

* * *

A fog clouded my vision as I turned my head. My wrists hurt and I noticed I was on the floor, the young woman’s blood sticking my fingers to the white porcelain beneath me. My limbs were shaky as I pushed myself up to kneel, and I glanced around the bathroom when my vision came as clear as it was going to get.

I found my grandpa standing at the sink in a white tank. He was bent over and focusing in the mirror as if he were attempting to shave the white stubble on his face. I couldn’t make out his expression, but what was clear was his utter neglect of the gruesome scene lying on the floor right behind him. He didn’t seem to be stirred by my presence in the slightest.

“Grandpa?” My voice was hoarse as it shook, my anxiety robbing me of further communication. I desperately didn’t want to believe what I suspected, but nothing else would have made sense. Another fainting spell threatened, but I remained upright despite it.

Without a sound, he finally turned to acknowledge my presence. Tears spilled from the corners of my eyes as my blood turned to ice.

My cheerful, loving grandpa — my secret wizard — wore the darkest, most maniacal grin on his face. His eyes were wide with frenzy and his aged white teeth were on full display like a Cheshire cat. His expression warped his face and exaggerated its features, and I could feel the way murder had corrupted him. It was animalistic and raw in its nature, and something so primal that I knew I would never forget it again. It was bliss and desperation at the same time, mingled together in an explosive passion that robbed of any ability to choke back the feral cries.

I knew there had to be something about my grandpa and his magic. He was most certainly gifted in ways that weren’t only sleight of hand and rehearsed showman magic tricks. He was something else entirely, and for a moment I wondered if my mania was just playing tricks on me. With his razor still in hand, my grandpa approached me, his maddening expression never changing.

“You weren’t meant to see this.” He spoke in a higher pitch than his usual tone, and much quieter.

“Why?” I was breathless as I stumbled backward where I sat, scrambling to get out of that room. When I finally reached the threshold, I was shaking too much to get to my knees and close the door. I hugged myself tight as grandpa squeezed the plastic razor in his hand.

He just stood there in silence, that same grin claiming him as if he had no control over it. Everything was silent save for our breathing, mine coming in short bursts as my body tensed impossibly tight. The bathroom light poured out at either side of him as if it were framing him — as if he held a much grander purpose than even I could ever manage to comprehend.

The door slammed shut. I was bathed in darkness once more and worked up the nerve to crawl down the hallway, the drying blood on my hands staining the carpet. The stench in the house. The body on the floor. That smell of old decay lingering in the walls — grandpa was no stranger to it.

It was the ultimate trick, to make someone disappear.

© 2019 Shane Blackheart

Autumn Rain – an original poem

I wanted to try writing poetry again. It’s never been something that’s come easy to me since I’m better with flowery words in longer prose, and I usually fail for words when it comes to painting something more abstract for a proper poem, or at least, something that resembles one. I found a TED Talk about poetry tonight though, and I followed its guidance for an idea. This is what I came up with, in memory of one of my best friends who lost her life too soon when we were teenagers.

Etching people of never past across wallpaper,
a childlike innocence rapt with brilliance —
you were a creator of life.

Your very presence brought sunshine into my bleak home;
my upstairs of cobwebs and stale, stagnant air.
You made me a creator of life, too.

I loved you like a lily loves the sun;
a flower sprung to life and realized as something beautiful.
And now I love you like Autumn rain.

Nostalgia and fragments of you haunt me.
The pages I salvaged from your heart’s permission,
they are your eternity.

As a creator of life,
you drift among faded lines of frozen expressions,
and I cherish the soul you left in that ink.

I’ve wilted without your sun,
and the smell of pencils have turned to must,
your legacy now etched into my lucid dreams.

© 2019 Shane Blackheart