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Heart Break

It was an exceptionally melancholy scene. Elizabeth sat at her small desk next in front of the window. The heavy curtains were drawn, and the only sound was the steady tapping of the rain against the glass. The girl’s cheeks were red and puffy from her long bouts of sobbing. The tears rolling down her cheeks splashed onto her trembling hands as they typed out her last words.
Below the status update box where she would be announcing her own death were dozens of pictures of the girl, he chose instead of her. Ashely was her name. They found her dismembered body just hours ago. They said it may take time to tell what he had done to her and what was the work of rats.
Of course like the others, she had been beautiful and the handpicked memories being shared with a world that was for the moment completely enamored with her emphasized that fact. The quotes taken from those who knew her grieved the horrible loss of a “passionate, optimistic, and dedicated person. The public who mourned for her…

A Schizophrenic's Afternoon with Alexa

The lights were out, and the blinds were closed.  Only the pale sun smoldering behind the grey winter sky seeped in between the dusty plastic shutters. Nick paced fifteen between the window and the stove again and again. Occasionally he’d stop at the window open space between the blinds with his fingers and look down at the walkway next to the building.
Sitting on a ledge between the kitchen and living room was a donut shaped AI that called itself Alexa.  As far as Nick knew Alexa had no eyes, but it could still hear everything he said. It was but one of a hundred million ears attached to something that had no tangible form of its own and was as omnipotent as god.
Nick was careful not to pique Alexa’s interest. Sometimes the blue light that ringed its circular form would pulse, and that’s when it would start paying attention to the people in the room. Nick noticed the changes in Alexa’s light even when no one else seemed to. The machine had a tell.
When they were alone, Nick could hea…

Fade

The older I get, the more my friends remind me of approaching death. I can’t help but notice the steadily appearing signs of decline. In an age when the days of even the most obscure and inconsequential lives are as thoroughly documented as any celebrity, the steady decline is impossible to ignore. The pictures and status updates make a flipbook of entropy in action. I can see the hair shedding from scalps like the crumbling leaves from a falling tree. I can see bellies extending and once taught skin wrinkle and sag.
I see people online I haven’t seen in person for maybe over a decade but just a few minutes exploring their photo albums I can fill in the years when these former friends, acquaintances, and family members were mere abstractions. Even the most beautiful can’t completely cover the corrosive effects of time.
Many of them might as well already be dead. They have passed from my life forever. The years have torn a chasm between us, and like the dead, they exist only in pictur…

The Morning Sun Revealed the Horror

The morning sun revealed the horror.
The soft yellow glow reached across the battlefield, everything it touched, every shredded body, every disembodied corpse, every smear of blood that was once a human being spasmed with a new vibrancy.
The stench of decay is an enticing aroma to some. Flocks of squawking birds and buzzing clouds of bloated flies were the only sounds on the silent killing fields.
There were too many for every man to get his own hole in the dirt. A heard of rumbling bulldozers shoveled the human remains into a pit. They could hear men whimpering underneath the growing mound of bodies, but they were buried far too deep in the putridity.
The men who dug the ditch where their brothers, comrades, and friends would be spending eternity could see the bugs writhing in the blood-soaked dirt ready to devour their blessed bounty of flesh.
The corpse-filled fissure was covered over with dirt, and the decomposing men became the fertilizer out of which a field of grass and crucifi…

Pretender

The plane started its sharp descent the over-eager prince imperial stared out through the small window and watched the moving masses of green and brown sharpen into distinct geographical features. The green stretches became fields and hills and the dirt colored patches outlined into well-defined plots of farmland. After more than thirty years Prince Alexander was not only reclaiming a lost throne he was returning home.
“Beautiful isn’t she?
Alexander turned his gaze. The elderly Colonel Fritz Hohellensburg was looking at the prince imperial the old man’s darkened eyes gleamed with tears, that spilled onto his wrinkled cheeks.
“I am eternally grateful I’ll get to see her one more time.’ Hohellensburg pinned.
The Colonel’s emotional display made Alexander regain a more formal composure.
“Should God see fit to make me Emperor today it would only be because he owes you a favor,” Alexander smiled warmly.
Alexander Brattenwolff was the only son of Ferdinand Brattenwolff who himself had been…

Carrion (My Wayward Son)

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The bits of necrotic flesh shedding from the carcasses of great beasts flutters in the cold, sunless depths of the sea like flakes of snow. An array of lights float through the darkness like stars in a midnight sky devouring every bit of the precipitating flesh they possibly can.
The mammoth bones sink to the bottom to settle into a quiet eternity on the ocean floor, their skeletons become a refuge for the creatures hiding from the roaming lights before time and pressure inevitably grind the mighty structures down into minute particles consumed by the Earth itself. In the opaque water just like in the void of space there are no horizons.
The creatures down below that sustain themselves on what comes from above will never cross any barrier between the two realms that are traversed only by the dead. The carrion that sustains life is merely a mysterious gift from the unknown.

Beneficiaries

Alan McCabe was born into the funeral business. His grandfather was the founder of Serene Pastures funeral home. The old man left the care of his legacy to his son, Martin. The twenty-seven years Martin ran Serene Pastures were steady, and upon his death, he passed the family business onto his son Allan.

Martin saw to it Alan was well versed in the trade. He taught his son and protege to be a capable mortician and businessman. His dutiful wife Elizabeth was a dependable and competent administrator between the two of them they were able to run a tight ship. Unfortunately, circumstances didn’t always remain so favorable.

Death is a steady business to be sure but the area Serene Pastures serviced became less and less lucrative over the years. The elderly died debt-ladened and abandoned by their kin in local morgues. No one had money to spring for grandma and grandpas memorial services. Heroin overdoses kept a trickle of business flowing, but these were more often than not very modest aff…