Unto The Night

Unto The Night
Amazon.com/ron koppelberger

Friday, December 24, 2010

Native Feather


Chains to the past

Ron Koppelberger
Chains to the Past (the spirit of morning)
(The Angel)
The angel was a brilliant beacon of love and light shining down on the man and woman from above, ethereal and beautiful before god and heaven. The veil had become a gauzy rent in a place near the couple and so abbadon had taken advantage. He had put on an ostentatious show, barraging them with terror after terror. Finally it had become too much for them and the angel interceded. He grasped the demon and chained him to the darkest depth of hell, leaving the other demons in hell to wonder and quake with fear, supplicating as the angel passed near.
The bird swooped down at him suddenly, the shadow of it feathered flight against his face. He had been sitting quietly on his front porch for hours, waiting. The bird served as a sign that his waiting was over. He wouldn’t find himself slipping into unconsciousness, disappearing from the planet; his path was clear now. The portent was revealed. He mouthed the lord’s prayer in thanks.
The bird reminded him of the Bee and the Bee reminded him of the Palm Meadow and the Palm Meadow the Locust and the Locust the Wolf. The visions became dimmer and the veil became almost all occlusive; the voices from the depths of sanguine darkness became muted, subdued by the advent of an unknown angel.
Standing, he turned to the front of the house. Once again he prayed, touching the door gently, in singsong rhythms of contrition he asked for protection from above, for his house, his wife and the sanctity of their existence. Sighing he opened the door and went inside.
The next day came much as the previous one had with exception, the sun rose filling the landscape with light as it always had, forever in candent glow, an eternity of light, glowing, warm, guiding and another sign that life would continue to improve for him and the love of his life. The startling fact was that he sensed the difference in atmosphere, the voices were gone and the day seemed brighter. Once gain he prayed.
He had been having nightmares late in the morning hours, silent, flashes of another planet, another life. Sometimes they made sense, at others they were just disjointed images. “ Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the lord my soul to keep, If I should die before I wake, I pray the lord my soul to take.” he whispered to himself just before drifting off.
There were occasional dreams instead of nightmares, portents of a better life. Love, laughter and happiness filling the spaces where the monsters lay. He wished for those moments, those dreams every time his eyes closed and sleep rushed in. Perhaps the nightmares would end, he crossed himself he looked heavenward with the expectation of rebirth, perhaps and just maybe the nightmares were in the past.
He thought about the bird and the other signs again , it had to be over he thought. The demons were powerless now, defeated and bidden toward other moments in time, left to their own and subject to their own. He found himself imbued with the strength to continue on, toward a greater promise and a dawning hope.
The wind blew gently across the yard, branches clicking and clacking in the tall pine bough, the smell of lilac permeated the air and the suns rays warmed his face, and he breathed, breathed for the first time in a long while. He was free and his life would continue on revolutions constant arc. In times of pause he thought with a bit of the old wariness.
He would need to go to the store sometime later in the day, thankfully his car hadn’t given up the ghost yet. His wife was cleaning, washing dishes and busy with the frills of housework; mother in want he thought. Their communication was good and they loved each other above all else. He smiled and called out, “Finished yet hon?” She wouldn’t leave the house to go shopping until everything was in order.
He found himself sitting on the front porch again, shadows filling the yard in slow creeping acquiescence. The sundial in the front garden read Seven P.M., looking into the sky , squinting at what remained of the dying sunlight he listened. The crickets were singing and a gentle breeze ruffled his hair, blowing it in front of his eyes, momentarily blocking the sky and the sun and the pale glow of an early moon.
Inside the house he heard a muffled stream of yelling and laughter. Arailia was engrossed with “ Platoon “. The air was warm and pleasant, he smiled and moved the hair away from his eyes.
Rex loved sitting outside as everything became a gently hushed dream for him. An easy silence except for the birds and the wind. The branches in the tall palms stirred and the calming whoosh was in contrast to the visions he had been having. For shivered for an instant, hoping they were truly gone. The morphic visions were on vacation, and for now the veil was heavy, and the portent declared his freedom. He prayed silently thankful for the reprieve.
The demons had nearly become a reality, an incarnate consistency and that’s what frightened Rex. What if they returned to claim their souls. What if they came for his sweet Arailia, his love and the very breath of his being. His wife was his sanity and the transcendent nature of their relationship was in direct proportion to what they had been through with the visions, the screams of hallucinatory haunt and the dire substance of a demon in bloom.
The sky continued to darken, the sun low on the horizon glowed like a bright orange flame; he could hear someone playing music in the distance, a guitar flowing in gentle waves of caressing soliloquy to an unknown god. The tune was smooth and it reminded him of honey, the taste of honey, the Bee small buzzing and curious. The Bee had been another sign, flittering near his stomach and the seat of his soul, indeed the Bee had been a portent of good things to come.
He stood, gazing into the sky again, just the faintest twinkling of stars in the distant twilight sky. He closed his eyes and the tiny after burn of a hundred points in star shine lit the inside of his eyelids with a blossoming image. Once again he prayed and when he opened his eyes again the sun had set. Turning away from the trees and the yard and the night sky he grabbed the doorknob and smiled, near the center of the door resting his wings was a dragonfly. It whispered silent vibrations as its promised flight rested near the touch of Rex’s hand . Reaching to the side of the porch, to the Alameda vine growing up the side of the house he found a flower and grabbed it, gently pulling it away from the vine. He held the blossom close to his nose and inhaled, the sweet scent filled his head for a moment, a momentary delirium of opium delights clouded his mind for just the briefest of seconds. He opened the door and dropped the flower to the porch, moving inside he was careful not to disturb the dragonfly on his perch.
He Slept peacefully for the first time in months. It had been dark quiet and without interruption. Later he awoke to the sound of Araila’s breathing and the scent of her hair. Again he thought of something sweet like honey as he kissed her gently on the lips.
Rex eased the covers back careful not to wake her; he saw something flitter in the corner of his eye. At the bedroom window and reflected in Arailia’s vanity. It was a bumble bee. He sighed, the clock ticked and the bee tapped against the window pane. Rex looked at arailia and smiled, she had slept through this one, this tiny portent called the bumble bee. He looked out the window again and saw the sun, reflected against the trees filtering through the lace curtains and glowing against the mirror, and still, just for a moment he had seen something else. The yard had been strewn with thousand of flower petals multicolored and fluttering in small tempest whirls. He blinked a few times and the image vanished leaving only green grass and sunshine behind.
Dressing himself, Rex went outside to the front porch swing. The air was fresh and invigorating as he inhaled deeply in the morning sunshine. He was prepared for what the day might bring.
He was drinking a coffee, black and steaming, it burned his tongue a little but he liked it that way. He set the cup down, sloshing some over the brim so it puddled on the wooden porch. He picked the lit cigarette up from the porch step where it lay and took a puff. Smoke filled his lungs and as he exhaled he watched a thousand tiny images evaporate in the air, drifting spirals of mist mixing with the currents of fresh air, finally he spotted the image of an angel, in Smokey disarray, fluttering and waving against the haze. Seconds later a chameleon ran across the bottom step, hurrying needing to remain hidden it ran beneath the boards.
A bird screeched breaking his reverie. Arailia motioned him from the kitchen window. Rex waved back, “I’ll be there in a minute honey.” She realized they had overcome the worst of it, the visions the night terrors and the prospect of an endless series of attacks from some unknown quantity, a demon in vaunt, in vestured arrays of hate and diversion. They had prevailed she thought as she watched Rex move through the front door, and they were happy now, for time first time in years. She had had a moment of trepidation, she had seen things for just a moment as they had been and when she saw Rex sitting there on the porch in quiet prayer she had thought the worst, an instant of doubt. What was wrong she thought for a fraction of an instant. The last few days had been a blessing and she believed, she had to believe the worst of it was over. It had been a struggle filling the closeness between them and the space nearby. Rex had seen the sign and now she was sure that it had ended. Araila was overwhelmed with a new hope for their future, and just before calling Rex into the house she had cried a little bit, salty tears of hope and the love of a wife in commune with her husband. Really, all she wanted was Rex to be near her, for him to extinguish the moment of doubt with his presence.
Rex read the worried expression on Arailias face and went to her embracing her; her arms encircled his neck ruffling his hair. He returned her embrace with kisses ,lightly on the lips. They stood there intertwined, sunlight streaming in from the kitchen window, illuminating them in the midst of shadows and silence. They had become sane again, moreover they had overcome. The prevailing sense of dread that had dictated their every waking moment had vanished.
Toenails clicked across the tile floor, Rex looked down into the expectant panting of a fluffy white and absolutely famished poodle. Rex reached down to scratch the little dogs head. She pushed her head into his hand and wagged her tail madly. Leaning upward, Rex let his eyes trace the outline of Arailia silhouetted in the sunlight. She looked ethereal to him for a moment and a poem filled his head.
“Transcendental passing as the
Tides, their love and warmth
The love of an aching abide,
In the afterglow of commingled essence
And in the shape of spirit
Never ending, as they embrace
Never to cease the adornment
Of love, unbridled in perfect passions,
In harmonies face and the whisper of
Love, the sweet whisper of love,
The eternal bond of passion and love.”
Rex touched Arailias cheek and kissed her again, she closed her eyes and smiled in response. They exchanged a soulful look for a moment, the image removed all the barriers that might restrict the feeling of oneness that he had and shared with his wife.
Later, much later toward the edge of twilight and the advent of an evening moonrise, Rex once again sat on the front porch steps. Lazy tendrils of smoke drifting up from his cigarette. Whippoorwills called out in the evening breeze and the cool airs of a night-tide essence whipped perfumed essences of lilac and fresh cut grass. Rex looked to the East, down the tiny dirt road that fronted the house and as he looked he saw the faintest of shapes approaching growing larger until it stood near the edge of the driveway. A wolf, all scraggly and tall in it’s demeanor. The wolf looked toward the front of the house and Rex then padded it’s way to the front porch. Rex’s heart raced and the prospect of dying flashed across his consciousness. The wolf paused in front of him and rex stood. It licked it’s lips and stood upright planting its paws firmly on either side of Rex’s shoulders. Rex looked into the amber eyed glow of the wolf’s eyes as he held his breath wondering if he would be devoured. The wolfs muzzle was coated in blood and it’s teeth were sharp two inch razors against it’s curled lips. Rex strained under the weight of the wolf. Just as it seemed to be preparing for a fresh meal it’s tongue reached out and licked Rex across the face. Whining the wolf returned to all fours and let out a howl. In that moment Rex saw the freedom that the wolf had and where the dreams of demons and delirium had gone. He prayed again as the wolf Padded away, finally disappearing into the dusky twilight.
The evening wore on that night and Rex realized that the wolf had been sent, by who or whom he wasn’t sure he just knew that he had a guardian angel looking out for him.

Neon Electric

Ron Koppelberger
Neon Electric
Posey Wing lay beneath the window sill staring through the blinds; there were a few missing louvers and he could just make out the neon signs exclamation.
Vacancy the sign flashed. The red neon gave Posey a candent red eyed appearance, pupils dilate and undialate, scarlet like the eyes of a dog in a photograph.
He dozed in a nightmare restlessness, sleep without rest. The sound of his sighs, his exhalations in smoke scented perfumes and moldy carpeting, in cockroach heaven, tinctured the electric buzz of the neon sign with a breath of life; he was lonesome in beggar realms of dirt, stone and humid tears of sweat.
The air conditioning was just beneath the far side of the sill, the foot of the bed, close to the door. The far corner of the blinds bled dirty droplets of dust down onto the cold metal of the conditioner in spattered dew drops.
Clairvoyant, he was clairvoyant. He knew someone had died in the room, he could see the man laying in the floor near the bathroom. He wasn’t there he knew that, nevertheless he still saw and in seeing he suffered the misery of the clairvoyant.
Blood, puddles of blood , the green nap of the carpeting was stained a dark brown, almost black. They hadn’t bothered to replace the carpeting. The man lay in a nimbus of mist, scarlet, frozen in time; hanging above his head was a fine spray of blood, still, glistening, suspended in an instant.
Posey turned from the ugly taboo and grabbed the pack of smokes he had placed on the edge of the window sill. Voodoo amusements he thought as he lit the cigarette, voodoo amusements my man. He inhaled deeply savoring the taste . He needed a coffee, black and strong. Posey stood and grabbed for the ancient coffee cup. There were bits of green and blue mold floating on the surface of the half empty cup. “Yuuuuuucccckkkk!” he groaned.
Crossing the room, past the mans body, the blood and the sightless eyes, he found the dark silhouette of the radio; he turned the knob and the radio blared to life. There were three or four stations playing simultaneously, a Mexican man talking in wavery exclamations , drifting in and out , wavering in ripples of sound. Beneath the Spanish broadcast a Pink Floyd song , he couldn’t remember the name of it; there was the faint sound of a minister in a preachy voice, “Re……ent, ……….pent sinners!” he exclaimed over the Floyd song and the Spanish dialogue. He listened for a moment and decided the radio was haunted.
As he was about to turn it off, he paused; from the bottom of a long dark hole, a tube, gravely, liquid, dark and in ethereal command , a voice sounding like bubbles and static, deep. The voice reminded Posey of an old episode of The Outer Limits, an alien voice, definitely not human. He clicked the radio off and an image clouded his mind for a moment, babies crying in a long tiled room, a woman in the throes of passion, and the alien.
The alien, the monster was a black silhouette in shadow, gurgling, flemy and in vigilant dimensions of madness. The shadow tilted at a crazy oblique angle near the corner of the room. Posey jumped as the radio blared back to life. “……iners repent, ye sinners!” he heard in infinite echoing static. Posey trembled uncontrollably for an instant as the monster melded into the corner of the wall. Posey paused for a breath and a hazy moment of contemplation.
There was a tiny sink and mirror on the opposite side of the room. “Coffee.” he whispered to himself as he imagined the bitter taste of caffeine. As he crossed the room he grabbed the cup from the bedside stand: the logo on the side of the mug read,
“Wild Coyote Inn.”
With a picture of an amber colored coyote on the front. He dumped the ancient brew into the drain. Bits of fury green mold clung to the basin. Posey ran the hot water and using his hand he pushed the chunks of mold into the swirling rush of water. Taking a bar of soap wrapped in paper, he washed the mug and mixed a cup of coffee with the white labeled generic brand he had bought earlier that day.
As he drank the coffee became viscous, it tasted like blood, the lifeblood of a dream, a nightmare in pass. Posey wiped his mouth on the starched white cotton of one of the motel hand cloths, it smelled of bleach. The towel came away stained scarlet in smears of blood.
He exhaled loudly as he clicked the radio back off, dumping the mugs contents into the sink. “Just coffee.” he said aloud as he looked at the brown liquid staining the sink.
Posey grabbed a t-shirt from his battered suitcase and slipped it over his head. He found his tennis shoes and slipped them onto his sock less feet. His mother had told him, “Always wear socks with your shoes Posey, otherwise your feet will stink!” He felt a brief moment of guilt as he saw his mothers look of admonishment peering through a veil of years.
Posey walked out onto the front stoop closing the door to the room behind him. The sidewalk was washed in the flickering neon light of the hotel sign. A pile of dead flies lay scattered across the sidewalk beneath the sign.
Posey crossed the street and began walking south on Mawson Lane. As he approached the corner of Mawson and Rhy he spotted the prostitute on the corner. She walked toward him as he approached. A cool sashay, lipstick and curly blonde hair. She wore a lace halter done in white, sweet songs done in dry deserts he thought. She massaged her hip with long rose colored fingernails. The scarlet colored miniskirt inched up just far enough for him to catch a glimpse of her panties.
“ Watchya doin honey?” she said. Posey paused in mid stride, she was covered in blood and long gashes, knife wounds covered her arms and throat. Several of her fingers were missing as if she had tried to fight off an attacker. She seemed oblivious.
He had discovered his Psychic self when he was eight years old, or rather it had discovered him.
He had been by himself at Aziza Memoriam park; there were swings and slides and spinning wheels for the children. The barbecue pit was near the center of a group of picnic tables and the public restrooms. He had been on the spinner by himself; he pushed ran and jumped on the spinning wheel. Around and around, the wind, tall pines and picnic area became a blur. Jumping back off, his head swam for a moment and he staggered to the picnic tables. The smell of burning charcoal and hamburger grease filled his nostrils. He felt sick as the park wavered and tilted in front of him.
He saw three or four men around the barbecue pit, only thing wuz that they were ghosts he thought, he could see right through them. He was frozen in place as the scene unfolded before his eyes.
The men were laughing and yelling, “Burn baby burn!!” one of the men shouted in a whooping rage.
“Got dat beech but good man!” a scraggly man in a green t-shirt exclaimed.
“That’ll teach that miserable witch!” the third man said to the green shirt.
He watched as a plume of smoke drifted in thick oily streams from the cement pit. The cloying odor of charred meat hung in the air and Posey gagged back the contents of his stomach. He went over and looked in to the cement and mortar barbecue pit, Ash, gray ash and ghosts in blood and bones, “Blood and Bones.” he whispered aloud as the prostitute waved him closer. High-down in his memories, he took a few steps closer to the bleeding woman. Her mouth moved but the words didn’t match, a mans deep tenor. “Beware the wrath of the jade willows breath and the blood of the myrter!” She said as she looked at the bleeding nubs of her missing fingers.
Posey took in a deep breath, clean and tinged by the scent of lilacs, perfumed incense. The prostitute turned away from Posey for a moment and said, “ I love the scents of summer honey. Can you smell that, it reminds me of my grandmothers perfume. She always wore it before she went to the store or bingo. Grandpa said she was a rare beauty and she baffled the sky. Do I baffle the sky Posey? Do I make your heart race like a wild Raven Posey?” she asked in an easy rhythm of seductive coquette. “Do I baffle the sky Posey?” Posey stared at her as she tried to apply her lipstick. “Cherry blossom hun.” It was blood red and in commune with her bleeding face. She kept dropping the damn lipstick, her damaged hands weren’t working. “Gosh darn it Posey, I can’t get this right.” Posey thought for a moment and offered,
“You definitely baffle the sky miss.” She grinned in open eyed glee as she put her lipstick away.
“Thanks honey…..hey…..” she gave him a sly smile, “I might be sweet on you Posey, how about a freebee babe?” Posey shook his head in horror at the thought and said, “ No thanks…..ahhhhhhaaaaa?” he questioned.
“ You can call me Daisy.” she offered in return.
“No thanks Daisy.” he said apologetically.
“Suit yourself hon.” she said as she crossed the street in directions of unknown haunt.
Posey looked at the spot on the corner where Daisy had been. The was a spreading puddle of scarlet and several bloody footprints pointing further down the street. Only thing was the footprints weren’t hers, they were large, a mans footprints, tennis shoe tracks, clearly heading toward the Neon Electric.
The city offered a few rarities, good bear, a good burger, museums for the eclectic minded, he hated modern art, and the Neon Electric.
Posey lit a cigarette and too a breath of smokey relief as he followed the bloody shoe tracks. He ended up standing near the bright neon glare of the Neon Electric. The footprints led inside. He looked at the ticket booth for a moment then the sign. Two stories high the sign flashed green and indigo light, spilling out onto the concrete in black light illumination, the bloody tracks glowed in the signs wash.
It sang in a staticy hum.
The ticket booth to the black light museum was empty and the front entrance beckoned him with its unbidden secret. Posey went inside.
His eyes took a moment to adjust to the black lighting. The first thing he saw was the jade willow, six foot tall it took up an entire corner of the front room. The jade sparkled in the shadow light like a great ghost. He could hear the wind blowing through its jeweled branches. Near the base of the willow lay the body of the ticket taker, crumpled in the final throes of death.
The hall leading to the back of the museum was lined with shelves and colored neon lights. A giant mural of a seductive ornate design covered the opposite side of the hall. The mural showed a woman kissing a man in a fireman’s uniform, she wore nothing and her eyes seemed to loll with the black lighting in the hall. The shelves were lined with glowing curios, glitter covered, painted bright and obvious.
Posey moved into the hall. There were smears of blood covering the floor and tennis shoe tracks. Posey had a brief flash, a vision overwhelm his senses with the sight and smells of a nightmare drama.
The end of the hall seemed to waver in the dark lighting, swaying at a crazy angle, and the smell of blood fresh, coppery. Posey tried to fix a glance at the shadow he saw crouching there, or was it laying there, he couldn’t tell, his psychic senses were in full swing. Dressed in black he saw a skull faced reaper with a blood spattered scythe. Black and white bone, sinew rending unto the blade. The figure screamed, “ Drink the wine! Drink the wine Posey!” Posey shook for a moment as if jolted then he paused the red neon glowing in his wide eyes. He looked at the pathetic creature crouched beneath a display of stained glass crucifixes. “ Drink the wine!” the man whispered in a throaty exclamation.
Posey stared at the shadowy shape of the killer, he was still, quiet in solstice with the screaming ghost, “ Drink the wine!” The mans head had nearly been blown in half and a sodden mess of brains lay next to his motionless figure. Blood, great puddles of congealed crimson liquid pooled beneath his body. He had just missed the action. The killers escape, his way out by self destruction.
The man whispered, “ Drink the wine Posey!” he held out a bottle of grape MD 20/20 toward Posey, “ Have a sip my man, have a sip!”
Posey turned and walked out of the Neon Electric to the waiting street with its freaks, ghosts, burnouts, hookers and dirty dreams of poverty. He made his way back to the motel and bolted the door behind him.
“HOT….L” the sign flashed as Posey layed down in a haunted portion of respite.

The Breech at Shade Tree Orchard

Ron Koppelberger
The Breech at Shade Tree Orchard
They were breeching the boundaries of Riverside Common. They had flittered about the edges of the Common for the past several days, finally venturing close to the heart of the tiny township. A few of the more courageous had gone to explore the far edges of Riverside, never returning. The rest held up in their homes while listening to the faint echoing howls and screeching exclamations near town’s edge.
The twilight presented the bloated pumpkin sun setting slowly into the frayed forest edge and a great glaring moon, full, wan and amber hued, haloed by harvest seasons and a cloudless indigo fringe.
Star Friday, Cadence Cross and Glenn Costa stood near the double glass doors of Sunder Feed and Farm Supply. They had bolted the doors and turned the bright sodium lights off in the parking lot, The expanse of cement stretched to the edge of the road and the woods behind the feed. Stars Camero was parked out front near the body of Paul Shirker. He had volunteered to get help and now he lay cold, bloody with his car keys still in hand near the front sidewalk next to the topsoil display.
A barking howl filled the dampened spaces between the isles of feed, filtering in from outside in easy currents of terrifying utterance. Star looked at Cadence and whispered, “There gonna try to get in at some point Cadence.” Cadence ran her fingers through the braided corn silk tresses that framed her face and said in shaking fear,
“They probably killed everyone in town jus like Paul.”
“They couldn’t have gotten everyone Cadence, we got away, some of the others had to of escaped as well.” Star said in her bravest voice. Glenn walked to the back of the feed. There was a tall pole barn shaped in a half circle attached to the back of the store. The corrugated metal ran from floor to ceiling like a tunnel and bales of hay, cat food, dog food, sow and pig feed, and horse feed lined the walls in the barn. A set of plastic swinging doors separated the front of the store where the shelves were lined with hardware and insecticides of all types, from the tin can that formed the feed area.
Glenn looked through the feed isles hoping for a weapon of some sort. Star stepped into the back of the store and said, “ How about these Glenn?” she held up the long blade of a machete for Glenn to inspect.
“I’d prefer my Winchester but that’ll do us jus fine.” Star handed Glenn one of the three machetes she had found in the hardware and tool isle.
Cadence took her machete reluctantly. “ I hate weapons Star, but I guess I don’t have any choice.” she said looking at the silver blade.
“Not really,” Glenn said matter of factly, “You can wait until those things break in and end up like Paul!”
“No thanks.” she said “I prefer the machete.”
Outside it became darker, the sun finally disappearing into the edge of the earth’s shadow. A maelstrom of silhouettes tall, wolf like and fast flittered near Paul’s body. They tore and ate and feasted. When Star looked out of the double glass doors she saw the sharp deadly maw of one of the creatures. Covered in scarlet, raving human flesh, the creature was part wolf, long snout and pointed incisors, part human with perfectly formed fingers. She watched as the creature slid it’s delicate hands across the glass smearing Paul’s lifeblood in great red smears. The creatures head tilted back and it screamed as if in pain, it was then that Star noticed the black painted fingernails and the shredded remnants of bobby socks on the wolf-thing.
Cadence stepped up behind Star and asked, “What the hell is it?” Glenn moved between Star and the glass doors with a large sheet of neon colored poster board.
“If they see us they’ll try to get in.” he said as he blocked their view with the cardboard sheet. “ Hand me that roll of tape!” he pointed to the roll of clear packing tape next to the cash register. Cadence handed the roll of tape to Glenn and stepped back as he fixed several pieces of the colored cardboard across the windows. When he finished he said, “ Help me move this desk in front of the door!” they all got behind the heavy oaken desk that served as the front counter and slid it to the front of the door. Outside something brushed up against the glass. They moved further into the store as screams and wild piercing howls filled the parking lot, the space between them and the door and the nocturnal terror. Cadence looked at Glenn and asked again, “What are they?”
Glenn thought for a moment before responding. “Last week I saw a caravan of military trucks and transports heading toward the old Shade Tree farm.” the Orchard had been in disrepair for as long as he could remember. The orchard was full of dead orange trees, gray spears and gnarled dead citrus branches, trees by the hundreds filled the acres of Shade Tree Orchard. “They did something, they let something loose, a virus, some kind of curse that only the military guys know about! They’ve been up there for a week now doing god knows what.” he emphasized with a clenched fist. “We might be the only ones who aren’t infected by this thing Cadence!” Glenn said in shaky realization.
“Don’t say that Glenn!” Star said hoping for the best. “There have to be others like us, people hiding from these things.”
Cadence looked at both of them, “Did you see, it was part human, or it used to be human, there might be hundreds of them, maybe thousands.” Riverside’s population was a little over five thousand. Glenn clenched his jaw, “Dammit, they should’ve know better, they should have, the friggin army, they should’ve known!”
“Maybe it wasn’t the army.” Cadence offered “Maybe this is a punishment, with war and mankind’s hatred for each other, maybe it’s god’s punishment.”
“I don’t believe that Cadence, it has to be simpler than that.” Glenn said.
The delicate passing of seconds repeated the breath of silent serpents and tigers in wait; a pause, the howling screams had stopped for a brief moment.
“Do you hear that?” Star asked, “ I mean it’s quiet.” The temptation to look outside was overwhelming and Cadence ran to the glass doors and peeked behind the orange sheets of poster board. Her screams pierced the silence of the moment as she staggered away from the door. It had been a flash of convergent horror; the street light illuminated the deluge of wind washed horror. One of the creatures stood in a cascade of blood; it rained from above, from the sky, but only on her or it, like a shower. The wolf like snout dripped red gore, liquid crimson and the wind, blowing at the bobby socked wolf thing from the side, a small tempest, localized in the space where she stood; bright sprays of blood spattered in an ethereal mist, a cloudy haze to the creatures side. It was a scene from hell ; her eyes, wild ebony orbs filled with lusting hunger and madness. Cadence said hysterically, “ We’re gonna die, we’re never gonna get out of here!” Glenn grabbed her and pulled her close,
“We’ll get out of here Cadence, they can’t get to us here hon. Someone will find us.” Glenn said attempting to console her. Cadence cried, her tear streaked checks pressed against Glenn’s bosom. Her tears were warm, wet giving him a sense of communion. They had to make it he thought, they couldn’t die like Paul had, they couldn’t.
It was close to 10 P.M., Glenn found an all weather radio on one of the shelves. As he tore open the box he wondered, how far had it gone and how many were there? They had some kind of ethereal power, a magic or a darkness from hell. He still wondered how they had done it, the army, had they opened the door to hell? What was the breech and where had it come from? He took the twist tie off the cord to the radio and plugged it in. For a moment he thought all he’d find was the staticy hum of nothingness, then finally a voice, careful, controlled and fatherly. They gathered themselves, Cadence seeing a glimmer of hope with the radio and Star hesitantly expectant.
“ ……….find shelter immediately! Do not approach the infected, do not approach the creatures, do not approach the area of Shade Tree Orchard west to Riverside! This is just a temporary quarantine, we’ll have this under control by dawn.” the man on the radio promised.
Glenn turned off the radio and said, “They’ve quarantined Riverside.”
“I know, I heard him Glenn.” Star said a note of trepidation in her voice.
“Will they get here at dawn, will they really Glenn?” Cadence said angrily. “How are they gonna get past those things?”
“I don’t know Cadence, let’s jus wait it out and see what happens hon.” Glenn said reassuring her.
Outside the creatures raged and it rained blood in frothy mist and dark magic, the showers centering on each individual beast in the form of an ethereal tempest. The wind blew around them and great smears of the scarlet essence flittered and twirled around their fanged grins. They explored the boundaries of the feed, screaming, howling in torn cloths like ragged flags of terror, in wolf like grimaces, hunger, desire and ebony eyed passion fulfilled their need.
On the north end of Riverside, Vern Pursey was battling mosquitoes. The new bug light he had bought was sizzling and popping as mosquitoes and other various flying insect life flittered across the blue neon light and the 120 volt wire. He was fascinated with the new light starring at it and watching the tiny sparks light up the night. Vern paused for a moment his reverie disturbed. It had begun to rain. “Dammit, he said under his breath. Glancing down at his hands, he noticed the rain had streaked them in dark rivulets and beaded tendrils. “Whas this…………” he questioned as he rubbed the back of his hand. “Looks like blood.” he said to himself as he turned to look behind into the face of silent gaping madness. The creature howled and Vern staggered back in surprise. In the space of a breath he took in the creatures appearance; he saw a large, obese body clothed in a raggedy three piece suit and it was drenched in blood, dripping soggy, surreal in the blue black light of the bug zapper. Vern didn’t react as the sharp fanged mouth bit into his neck and tackled him to the ground. Several others appeared screaming in tempest clouds of blood.
As they devoured him, he took a moment to contemplate the creature in the suit. Slavering over the top of Vern it’s necktie dripped crimson into his eyes. The last thing he noticed was the city seal stitched into the bloody cloth. As his life ended he realized the creature was wearing Mayor Braggs cloths.
Closer to the southern end of Riverside Mel’s Truck stop was a giant conflagration as black oily smoke poured from the ruins of the gas pumps and convenience mart. One of the big trucks snorted and spit exhaust as it barreled into the flames. Inside the driver screamed and howled, blood obscuring his view as the truck crashed. It was raining blood inside the cab and as the creature crawled through the flames there was a great hiss as the front tires melted and blood mixed with the burning gasoline.
The eastern line of town was a scattering of orange tree orchards and sorghum fields. Shade Tree Orchard was at the outer edge of the Commons. The old farmhouse and weedy lot was scattered with empty jeeps and the remnants of a Bio Hazard containment convoy. Inside, the farmhouse buzzed with the sound of high tension wires. From the front of the house bright crimson light poured in waves from the broken window panes. Someone had placed a no trespassing sign on the heavy oaken front door and the body of a camo clad soldier lay draped across the front porch steps.
The interior of the house was a scattering of equipment, gages and a giant gold colored metronome and two or three dozen cages , big enough for a human being. The house smelled of garlic and roses and a thick roiling mist poured upward from the cellar. Deep within the confines of the cellar Sgt. Negee lay bleeding near the reflective panel that had been designed to allow the breech, the gateway between here and there. They had been fast, furious and hungry as well as contagious. Negee remembered they had come through screaming and howling. His checks were still moist with the blood that had poured from the breech, thick, viscous giving birth to monsters and demon wilds. Negee inhaled deeply, coughed and began crawling toward the basement steps.
West from Shade Tree Orchard Glenn, Star and Cadence sat near the back wall of the feed listening to the creatures pound on the corrugated metal walls in the back of the store. Hollow, thumping and shrieking gasps of frustration echoed hollowly throughout the feed. Suddenly, there was the sound of glass shattering near the front of the store and cadence screamed, “They’re coming through the front door Glenn!” Glenn grabbed a bale of hay and put it in front of the plastic double doors separating the front of the store from the back.
“Come on help Cadence!” Star yelled as she threw a bale of hay toward Glenn. Glenn stacked the hay in front of the door as fast as he could; in the front they heard the sound of shelves being overturned and growls of determinant possession the sound of spattering rain and wild tempests howling in delirious search.
They had the hay stacked to the top of the door when one of the creatures attempted to gain entrance. Furious hands and rivers of blood, dripping through the hay bales, amber and scarlet hued glistening, descrying an inhuman magic, an ethereal enemy fated by wombs of crazy breech.
A slender arm, bruised, once delicate, slick scarlet and purple, reached inward between the hay bales. The creature screamed and tore at the hay knocking down one of the bales to reveal a ghoulish grimace, wolf like all teeth and grinning a bloody need.
The wind and red rain poured through the opening and Glenn stumbled falling to the floor just as the hay pile tumbled down around him. The mystery of life and the probability that they would all die ran through Glenn’s mind as the creature climbed on top of him. He could hear Cadence screaming and……..what? Gunfire? A sharp report of automatic fire ……Pop, pop…….pop! The creature lay still, silent atop his bosom, the crimson shower and the wind abated as a camo clad figure pushed away the piles of hay and the body of the wolf thing. “Come on!” he said to the three of them. “I don’t know how long I can hold them off.” Glenn stood on shaky legs, dripping the blood of a thousand nightmares. He read the name patch on the soldiers breast, it said “NEGGY”.
Neggy ushered them through and around the desk and broken glass doors into the waiting hummer. He gunned the engine and headed west Toward Rapid Zaine the next closest town.
He had stopped the gold metronome, it’s rhythm still, quietly waiting. The breech had closed but maybe it was too late. Negee looked to the open fields of sorghum before them, here and there were rain showers of blood, some distant some directly to the left and right of the two lane blacktop.
They followed the road to Rapid Zaine and in a haloed harvest moon, a breach in the dark shadows the future beckoned the wants of the survivors and the desires of the determined few, in hope and the need of a fated dream.

The Bleeding Edge

Ron Koppelberger
The Bleeding Edge
Stifling, the sweat poured in slow trickling waves from Pray Blinds furrowed brow. He looked up and down the corridor from the entranceway to the vault. There were sentries on either side of the safe, floor to ceiling, secure with thick steel walls, the safe was a prelude to the baron beige carpeted hall.
Escaping from the written desire of a petty thief, by warrants and county jails, by stolen pencils and free meals at the Salvation Army and by the starved passions of a gambler in a losers palace, he saw the great vault shimmer in the down draft of the ceiling heater vent.
Pray had it all figured out, “A prayer for Pray.” he whispered out aloud. He’d crack the box, “YYYYYYYEEEEEEEHHHHHAAAAAWWWWW!” the top of the hill, the star at the top of the tree and the brass ring, only thing was his ring was gold, 21 carrot and as smooth as glass.
Pray moved down the hall as the heavy tool bag weighed taunt in the muscles of his wrist. “ Gonna break that witch, gonna break that witch!” he sang as he approached the sentries laser beam. The card had a bar code and a brail embossed number on it. He had paid 300 dollars for the dupe at crazy Al’s.
“It’ll work like a clock, tick-tock and yer in!” Al had exclaimed as he handed him the duplicate pass. Pray had put the original back into the bank managers wallet without capture or keep, no one had been the wiser. He had gone back to his tellers booth smiling and humming a tune from Oklahoma.
Pray swiped the card in the tele-max sentry and the crimson colored laser beams disappeared.
A breath, the space of a scream, the moment of decisive capture and wonting delirium came to a precise perfect conclusion as the giant iron cage descended around Pray; the hall went dim and the recessed lighting went dark violet. Pray stood there in shock as a high pitched hum filled the air around him.
Submissively, Pray fell to the floor. The endurance of a wilting rose, the pale horse in full gallop against ebony shadows and moments of winter sleep, Pray simply gave up. He had wagered his dream against the wall, the impossible garner, the harvest in evanescent rhythms of fate. He lay there, just barely touching the cool polished metal bars with the tips of his fingers. He sighed in resignation and closed his eyes. Moments later he died and when he awoke he was in a steamy aura of candent light, the blessed light he thought. The enchantments of another world, a parallel existence, he stood and looked around the mist laden dew of a neon cloak, a brilliant shine in the glow of ethereal passion. Was he dead? He must be he thought. The wings of a greater forward, a beginning for a safe cracker in Eden he thought. “Damn……..yeah!” he said out loud. The sound of his voice echoed in hollow reverberations around him, filling his ears with a cool crisp slice of sound. Rebirth he thought, I’m reborn into the final stretch. Black Beauty is in the lead and Flicka is a close second he thought, the friggin horse in race to the gate. He was home free. Stepping forward, he bumped into the clear bars of the nearly invisible cell. Had he died? He was still in the cage.
There were squawks from the end of the hall, he watched as a fluttering flock of crows moved down the hall toward the cage, “caw, caw,” came the first few in neon silhouette, crimson black, tiny eyes tilted upward as the patter of wings thumped and pounded the air around the cage.
He moved to the center of the cage as a thick roiling mist cloaked the floor with it’s damp tendrils, snaking in from all four sides and dancing in puffs of cool ether and mystery. The light went from violet neon to a dull indigo haze permeating the fog in small sips, tincturing the tips of his fingers with the glowing luster of black light. The crows cawed in unison then went silent. The sound of their wings shifting in the dark shadows betraying their presence to the soul ensnared by the great steel bars of a prison in consuming endeavor; endeavoring the ozone and the breath of an eternal darkness, bought by a petty thief for the price of a spirit, for the wont of a blueprint to ever after, for the pale ghost in dark corners and the second after death.
Pray fell to his knees and closed his eyes in worship. The Smokey arms of a dew laden mist and a newly moss laden floor padded his knees and smoothed over the wrinkles in his fifty-three year old features. His heart pounded rhythmically in his ears and fluttered like a moth in his chest.
His prayer was simple, spoken by the lost, the desperate, the inhabitants of countless disasters and near death survivors. “Dear god if only….I’ll change…..I’ll follow the narrow road…….!” he promised as the outer door near the end of the hall thumped open, bouncing against the rubber stopper mounted on the wall behind it. It was a thickly viscous shadow, large red eyes breathing gouts of blue flame and charcoal soot.
From his end the light flickered dark then dull indigo, on and off, on and off. The air was heavy with a cloying perfume, the essence of a thousand dandelions in fresh green cut, sappy, leaking the pungent milky lifeblood of a child’s dream.
The figure at the end of the hall paused and a swirling eddy of haze descended from the ceiling flittering in the moaning gasps of a hundred tortured souls. The sound hummed and labored the breath of a nightmare, a whisper of sinful fright, a measure of fear, in muffled currents of confessed desperation and desolate terror.
Pray tilted his eyes to the ceiling and shivered; so this is what I’ve come to he thought. The gaping maw of a bloody secret, a scarlet beast in perfect desires of human stew, the salivating greed of a precious peril, the bleeding edge of oblivion.
He remembered in that moment, the remnants of a distant transaction, the day the dreadlock crow had nodded it’s head in his direction.
The day had been uneventful, he counted his cash, fifties, hundreds and neat sheathes of quarters, all in the unchanging exchange between customer and teller. It was the stuff of his undying wont, wont for money, and he had dreamed of, and of, and of the safe and it’s contents. In the midst of his reverie a man had walked through the double glass doors across the lobby. The velvet ropes separated the few customers in the bank from the line of teller booths. The man stood behind Nate Johns and Gretta Burg. He was dressed in a black trench coat, dark ebony eyed with a full head of dreadlocks tied by gray yarn and blood red elastic.
Nate and Gretta made their transactions and the dreadlocks ended up at Pray’s window. He slid a piece of notebook paper toward Pray and glanced upward toward the video cameras, past them and to the sky beyond the distant horizon, eyes rolling with clouds of roiling smoke, billowing from his mouth in waves and tenebrous spider silken snare. He sighed and the whites of his eyes filled with blood from top to bottom, sliding in slick eyed magic. He opened his mouth wider and rows of razor sharp teeth glistened and glimmered like the pointed maw of a Great White. The note said,
“Azalea in the Scream!”
He remembered, the other tellers had seen nothing as the man’s mouth echoed a curing, causing “Caw, caw!” a black mamba with feathered exclamations of fate. No one saw and in the end, in the space of a few seconds he turned and spun on his heels, dreadlocks spinning in a circus fan about his head, he turned and left leaving the piece of paper and a hazy veil of delirium. He had called Mary Simms over to his cage explaining to her that he was feeling ill. He went to the employee lounge with the piece of paper clutched in his sweating fist.
“Azalea in the scream!”
The beast in the hall, the approaching ends of a frayed bloody edge, the bloom of a race from birth to old age and to moments in the afterlife belched and wavered in steamy coils of mist before him. The memory of the dreadlock crow fell in sync with the beast, the dreadful conclusion of his life, his essence, his bond with existence.
He stiffened and slowly edged to the rear of the cage, unprepared, naive’ like an inexperienced toddler avoiding a scolding. Pray trailed his hands across his eyes wanting to rub away the vision of approaching hell, the great rambling demon in hunt. The beast pressed it’s face or what passed as a face, it was all misshapen and fleshy, against the clear bars opposite him. The bars separated with the tongue of a hissing black flame prefaced by screams and roars of rage.
Summoned by chance and the trifles of interlaced fortune, the decision to sin and the promise to fulfill the destiny of a sainted life, the promise to forgo the life of a petty thief for the wonts of the straight and narrow path, inspired Pray to fall to the moss covered floor. He cried as the beast opened it’s maw covering his mouth and pushing hot flame, fetid breath into his lungs.
Passing out in a dream, a nightmare descried by a nightmare, Pray dreamed within the dream. He saw the piece of notebook paper.
“Azalea in the scream!”
Tiny unfolding lines of light spread their warmth and daydream cloud across his features and he saw the Azaleas in bloom, the bursting blossoms done in violet, in alabaster crème and bright scarlet tears. The gentle rolling twilight in orange spears of flame touched his brow and illuminated the Azalea’s with somber light. The rare, bold bid for realms named safe, secure and in reveries of absolution, the stupor of a petty thief, the lyric answer to his prayers and screaming promise, in all he heard the scream the tenor of full born rage and screaming panic. The Azaleas wept blood as the veil disappeared from his eyes.
She was screaming and blowing air into his mouth, filling his lungs he gasped and coughed choking on the wheezy inhalation of breath. Susan Lance, his girlfriend, a fellow teller at the bank, shook him and cradled him in her arms as she called his name , “Pray, Pray!”
He remembered the trench coat crow again, all dreadlocks and fire eyed want. He had hit him, hard, with the dull side of a claw toothed hammer. He had fallen behind the counter unconscious, dead, dead to the world and in hell. Susan had saved him.
His head hurt as he remembered the promise, the moment of decision and forgiveness. He looked up into Susan’s eyes and smiled as best he could. Some things were worth waking up to he thought as he hugged her.
A Week Later
The alarm clock sang 6:00 A.M., he had to shake out the cobwebs and get going, his shift at the bank began in an hour. He glanced at the security card on the bedside table; it lay untouched next to his pain medication and a bottle of ibuprofen. Pray paused for a moment uncertain, wondering, wondering about Susan. What did she need from him, Jewelry, a house………and what, the good life? He pushed those thoughts aside for a moment and looked out the small apartment window. The rows of Azaleas wavered and swam in the cool autumn air. Turning away from the window he dressed, ran a comb through his thinning hair and put his red and white tie on. He picked his dad’s old tie clip and cufflinks. He looked good.
The bag of tools lay in a leather satchel next to the dresser. He listened to the silent tick of the clock for a moment as he grabbed the bank managers identification card and slipped it into his breast pocket.
Outside the wind howled and an earsplitting scream filled the air near the Azalea bushes. Pray looked out the window again fear swelling in his bosom. The sky was blood red and the demon stood howling in the midst of the Azalea bushes, in the midst of a petty thief’s fate.

The Order of the October Chaff

Ron Koppelberger
The Order of the October Chaff
The magic of quiet attire in twilight seasons and Fall address wore the melancholy of Halloween mists, the shadowy sensation of wistful winds and the throes of an aged bargain; Summer for Winter and Fall breaths of intermission, the moments considered the change from Summer to Autumn orange, tattered leaves blown in a heaping blanket of crumbling decay and cool airs of approaching snows.
The town of Hallowawe lay hidden in secret anonymity near the edge of Acres Woods; The surrounding vistas were well worn in harvest bloom, fields of sorghum and wheat cloaked the landscape between Hallowawe and Acres Woods like a great ghost of undulating saffron sky in the distant Summer sun. The houses were old with character and old fashioned regard. Main street lay in the center of Hallowawe, running East to West through the heart of the town. A Texaco gas station, the Prow Pharmacy and Hanson’s Grocery among others lined the street with easy promises and simple satisfactions.
Race Case, his mother had believed his name was perfect for him. When he was a baby she found herself racing after his curiosity; he was always into something she had told him when he was older, “Race Case, chased ya all over the place. “ she had laughed. He considered his mother for a moment as he stepped into the Hallowawe Feed. He missed his mom. She had died about three years earlier. She hadn’t suffered, she’d died in her sleep quietly and without exclamation. She was the reason he had moved to Hallowawe. His parents had been farmers until his dad passed. The farm had gone to seed literally after his death. Maybe he was meant for this life, the farmers lot he thought as he ordered seed from Barley Huss the owner of Hallowawe Feed.
“ Near Winter now Race,” he said with caution, “You aren’t thinking bout plantin are ya?” he asked.
“Nope, this is for next year Barley; I thought I’d get a jump on it before the others, sides it’s savin me money. Always buy my seed early Mr. Huss.” Barley handed Race a receipt and said,
“Yer one of the good ones.” Race grinned and said,
“See ya in the spring.” as he walked out into the street where his truck was Parked.
The evening twilight was a portent of the Halloween season, children in costumes and candy buckets full of Beer Barrels, Hershey Bars and a scattering of pennies. The sky lay in orange silhouette on the horizon, frayed bleeding spears of crimson as Race drove East toward the farm.
The old truck, A Ford F-150, smelled of oil and exhaust. He turned the radio on as the silhouette of the setting sun shone in his eyes painting him in a soft amber hue. He had turned the radio to an oldies station; a song by The Doors was playing and Jim Morrison was commanding,
“Break on through to the other side……
Break on through to the other side…..”
Race traveled the two lane road into the countryside. A flock of crows sat next to the road pecking at a dead raccoon and squawking, “Caw, caw!” Race rolled the truck window up muffling the sound of the birds as he passed.
Unwinding in a long reassurance of farm country vista, his property lay directly ahead, the curving dirt driveway flowing into the main road. The truck bumped and rattled in aged complaint as he turned off the main road onto the bumpy two-track. Trees, oaks and pines, lined the stretch of driveway for a quarter of a mile ending with a small three bedroom ranch and a two story red barn.
Race parked the truck and glanced at the burnt orange twilight horizon, tomorrow was Halloween. He rarely got any treaters nevertheless tonight was devil’s night and his mailbox was fare game; he didn’t think anyone would venture as far as the house. Last year they had smashed his mailbox beyond repair, he had replaced it with a brick and stone pillar with the box securely cemented inside. The evening sky was a bloody smear and drifting from distant points of life came the Oder of wood smoke, tinctured crisp Fall air in seasons sure.
Race got out of the truck and listened; he had seen the silhouette, the shape of something fast and tall reflected in the glimmer of frayed indigo and saffron light, near the corner of the house, the far side near the Azalea bushes. There were flittering shadows and an echoing whisper, a soft hush of sound like a swarm of flies, big bluebottle, buzzing in mass.
The front of the ranch was prefaced by a big bay window, the quiet yellow glow of interior lights shone through the part in the heavy drapes. Warm and safe he thought nervously. The yeowl of a cat in heat tore the silence in pointed wild wont. The buzzing continued a bit louder now and the shadows near the tree line called secret mysteries of fear. Maybe he should go back into town and get the Hallowawe police, maybe he should get the hell back in the truck and drive as fast as he could toward Hallowawe he thought as the shadows multiplied and spread out into the wood line near the edge of the house.
Race swallowed his fear and the trepidation that held him in place as he moved to the front door of the house. The stone steps were covered in a slick mess of crimson, blood, thick, viscous and fresh. Race inhaled in shaky contemplations of death; devils night, was it animal blood, he didn’t think so.
The shadows near the corner of the house shifted and swayed and Race made a conscious effort to ignore the buzzing sound and the whimpers he heard, the howling groans of some great goblin phantasm, the demon spirit of Halloween, in all souls confection, Candy and blood. Blood and dandelion weed, syrupy cotton tufts and black droplets of jagged leafy growth led to the side yard, he had used weed killer on the ragged grass but he was plagued with dandelion weed. The scattered weed sang copper near the edge of the walk, perfumed in dark stain and accented by the buzz of a million flies.
Race glance at the gray and ebony shadows at the corner of the ranch, whimpering he definitely heard a whimpering sound. What was the secret hidden behind the corner? Were they fearful conveyances of pain, injury, was someone hurt, perhaps a child, a babe in distress. He walked slowly to the corner of the house. The blood was smeared in scarlet palm prints on the wooden lattice trim. “ Here goes.” he said in a whisper to himself. Looking around the edge of the house he took several steps back.
The flies, there was a shape swarmed in flies. A human sized mound completely enveloped by flies, a whirling shifting mass of winged green and blue bottle flies. The sound was deafening. The whimpering was coming from beneath the thick blanket of flies. He had to do something, but the flies, he thought cringing . He had to help.
Race touched the whimpering figure and a great cloud of inky black flew up like an explosion, buzzing madly. It was a woman, he could see she had long ravens black hair and full pouting lips. Her eyes glowed a bright neon green and they implored him, pleaded with him to help. She was dressed in a burlap dress, an old grain bag; it was covered in blood from the neckline to the bottom hem.
She moved her legs and Race noticed they were covered in welts, scratches and angry purple bruises. She grabbed his arm as he stood there in silent waves of shock. The flies were crawling into his eyes and mouth tickling his lips wildly. She pulled herself up with his hesitant help. “What the hell Happened?” he said through the buzzing swarm.
“Help me.” she moaned in response, “The order, the order are coming. We’ll have to get away, they’ll kill us!” she said in a halting stutter of what was obvious terror.
“ Come on, we’ll go inside, “ he offered as he held her up. “I don’t know who’s after you, but I have guns in the house. We’ll be safe there.” She took a few shake steps and whispered,
‘Guns……..guns won’t stop the order, they’ll kill us both! ” she groaned as
they moved to the front door.
Visions in ancient drama, the caste of flies followed to impossible conclusions of darkness. Race edged the front door open after finding the lock, with his help she stumbled through the door. Once they were both inside, Race pulled the screen door shut with a rattling metallic bang, the glass in the top portion of the screen door crawled with the blue flies. A few lingering flies found the freedom of the house but the majority had been held at bay outside.
She was beautiful, her features, subtle, soft , primal in flushed checks and glistening eyes of fire. He shut the interior door blocking out the cloud on the screen glass. She crumpled to the floor in a heap. A few errant flies buzzed around her face as she sighed in relief.
Race listened as she confessed the better part of her nightmare, her soul bared for him to see in confused gushes of fear and tremulous vision. He looked more closely at her thinking the blood on the burlap bag came from some horrible injury, she’d need a hospital he thought but after a quick survey he realized the blood wasn’t hers.
“The Order of the October Chaff, they’ll find us here! We’re not safe! They’ll kill us with magic’s and the road to hell!” she said in halting unstrung fear. He listened to her labored breath , the sound of her terrified exhalations. The air was thick with the coppery odor of blood and something else, the scent of fresh cut flowers, lilacs and blood red roses. She looked at him and whispered, “Please help!”
The sound of an echoing howl, a thirsty exclamation, by the edge of the wood line, surrounded the house, flittered through the walls in a dull muffled screech. She began to cry, tears welling up in the corners of her almond shaped eyes, trailing to the hollow of her checks and spattering against her bruised legs. He couldn’t help staring at her, she was the pinnacle of beauty, dark and enchanting the wants of a passionate embrace. He touched her check, brushing away the tear there; it was a damp silken droplet and before he could think he put the tip of his finger to his lips. The tear was warm, salty and tinged with the desire of a careless abandon.
The howling and the screeches continued outside, closer and more insistent.
“We’ll have to leave now! They’re near now…..” she implored Race. He stood there staring down at her in quiet reverie , sated by her tears; magic illusions of Eden he thought. “Sweet, sweet siren, yer the perfect picture of love , the sure sense honey.” She stood up on shaky legs. Grabbing his hand she said,
“We have to go!” the howling continued and the sound of high pitched screaming filled the air, the currents of October chill, the Halloween season and realms of the unbidden, by degrees and dire darkness.
Race pulled the heavy drapes away from the front window and peeked out. The woman screamed behind him and he staggered back a few steps. There was a face in the window coated in thick sheets of insect life, cockroaches, crawling and filling and spilling from his mouth. In the midst were a pair of scarlet rimmed eyes, bulging and wild.
There were four or five of them standing in a semicircle in the center of the front yard. The figure in the center was covered by thick mats of gray fur and two wolves stood guard beside him. The figure to his left was covered in waning tides of butterflies, monarchs and yellow buttercups, flittering, floating in clouds around her; he assumed the figure was female. The shape to the wolf’s right was horned like a twelve point buck and covered by thick ropey braids of hair, knotted in dreadlocks like a rastapharian. The last was winged like a raven, dark shadowy and screeching, the silhouette of a thunderhead in dark skies, momentarily illuminated to reveal thousands of ebony colored birds, ravens, like a tornado, circling in loud bands of sound, pulsing and haunting.
“The Order of the October Chaff. They’ll take me!” she screamed. The front window shattered and glass flew inward as a million flies filled the room and swallowed up the woman. She was a shapeless mound of black; shifting in commune with each other the flies buzzed and swarmed. Phantomlike she moved to the front door, step by step, the flies compelling her. Race grabbed at her in an attempt to restrain her. His hand came away in cloying gobs of flies. They were chocking him, filling his lungs, his mouth; he screamed and bit down, spitting as he crunched mouthfuls of the insects between his teeth.
The woman shifted through the glass door, opening it and stepping outside. Race collapsed in a heap of flies, smothering him with their want, their need, he fell unconscious.
Later that evening he awoke to the sound of children laughing and squeaking glass. He stood and looked out the screen door. He saw three or four small shapes running up the drive. Devil’s night, he remembered. They had waxed what was left of his front windows. He stepped outside as he began to recall the nightmare. The front of the house, it was painted in scarlet, in blood across the front of the house.
Race paused, thinking. The scent of lilac perfume was in the air. A moth flew close to the front porch light, fluttering, a half dozen or so, maybe more. One of them landed on him, then two, then more. He heard a howl in the distance. The moths came by the thousands and Race knew the order of the October chaff wasn’t complete yet.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


In his head.


Short Fiction

Ron Koppelberger
The Neighborhood
The disposition of slavery frustrated him and he screamed for release, “YYYYYiiiiieeeeeeeeee!” Rain was falling in exasperating waves of teardrop blessing. The neighborhood was unaware, entranced by the ethereal drama, the presence that defined their true transport, their mode of life, their actual status in the universe, in a prevailing evil smoke of duel reality.
The televisions were dressed in a myriad of programs, they saw game shows, but underneath, they saw soap operas, but underneath, they saw movies, but underneath, they saw Sunday football, but underneath lay the truth, the secret reality of a thousand nightmares in scarlet neon.
Juke Sober was watching a movie about Viet Nam, yet beneath his wife was being eviscerated; the action pushed ahead occluding the truth……..and the strange thing was that she was in the next room making a decision between hamburgers and hotdogs. Juke saw up top.
Pepper Holly was watching a western, yet what lay beneath her subconscious and the enchanting dance of a car slamming into a brick wall, a young couple catapulting through the windshield like crimson angels. Flashes of light lit the cotton dander of a cloudy twilight sky. The sound of a woman sobbing drifted across the neighborhood in quiet desperation.
Juke prayed asking god if he was in heaven or hell. The sobbing continued and the mass continued to watch, to act in reverence of what appeared to be their lives, their existence, oblivious to the shadows that surrounded them.
Somewhere distantly a wolf howled in the midst of saffron fields and wheat, in a flash of insight the wolf thought, “ A gilded plane for innocent dreams and waking endeavors unto the promise of what wont pretends.” For a moment they all saw the great garden of wheat bloom.
The wolf rested, waiting for them.

Ron Koppelberger
Zombie Spells
Family circles of taboo, of visualized substance, and mystery surrounded the audience of devoted secret exhibition. They pretended legendary courage in daybreaks ambiance as they watched the zombie, blind, jabbering, samba dance in rhythm with the cobweb smoke that wafted in occult purchase through fields of solitary sorcery. The willing land of foreboding, spells in moaning whispers sung in the perfect complaint of caste and creed, the billowing creed of voodoo, borrowed by evolutions of sleep and wild magic.
The family stared at the spectacle and the happenstance of supernatural enhancement. The sedative was a parish priests ventured prayer, holy, celebrated, sanctified by the blood of communion and gods mercy. His purpose was to fulfill the destiny of the guard, the love of life and the nature of absolution in the face of zombie trances, self possession recaptured, reclaimed in opposition to the darkest of evils. For the good, they said to themselves. The man pronounced the name of Christ in Latin as the priest had taught him, they stood still affected by the groaning zombie, the outrage of incense in muddles of lost grace. Blossoms of daisy petal weed grew near the boarders of the clearing and the children, desirous of play time, picked bunches and clutches of the flower.
The father, the husband, moved toward the zombie with the pill. The mother delivered a prayer of measured grace as her husband forced the pill into the zombies mouth. They sang and chanted in still airs with quiet expectation for the miracle of release.
In myths of ancient shadow, the zombie, once enthralled by the viscous decree of black magic’s and bleeding foray, became a man again by degrees of seizure he declined his tethers in chronicles of the newly self possessed. The family sang with the man and fertile encouragements of thought concluded the skill of gentle chance with the bond of tomorrow and rebirth

Ron Koppelberger
Righteous Poetry
The certainty of resonant poetry, in symphonies of action and enchanted circumstance, was unlikely, nevertheless the chorus sang in that respect. The priest was in resolutions grasp, he taken confession from Luanda Leeds, she had confided in secret whispers of seduction. All in all he had known it was her; her manner, her lamenting sashay had been pointedly obvious. Father Rhy had offered her a penance for the variety of sins she had confessed to, mostly mild transgressions.
The man with the shotgun took father Wry by surprise as he closed the confessional door. Luanda screamed a high pitched hollow benediction at father Wry from the front alter. As soon as the man, a shaky tattered white bearded reflection of madness pointed the double barreled shotgun he was holding at him.
The sanctuary shook with a loud booming explosion. Initially Father Rhy expected the painful blast, the shotgun was aimed at his midsection. Wincing, ears ringing he grabbed at his stomach. The man collapsed in a bright blue flash of light. Luanda screamed again as the smoldering remains of the white bearded man burned.
Father Rhy genuflected on bended knees. The man had been hit by a lightening bolt. Father Rhy went to the front door of the enclave and looked outside, “Thank God.” he whispered, the sky was an azure cloudless heaven.

Ron Koppelberger
The Farce
A cross hung in reflective whispers of devotion near the front of the tiny church. A moment of hesitant chanting prayer filled the wood paneled walls. In concealed knowledge the minister arranged the communion wafers and took a sip of the sacred wine. His stomach burned and churned in protest but years of training told him that a sip, a sip for now, of wine would calm his frayed nerves.
The tranquil caste of mid-day sunshine seeped in puddles of multicolored light through the stained glass windows. The church was usually locked but he had forgotten today and an audience of one sat watching him tidy the small enclave. The minister of peace, god and holy absolution turned to face the lone parishioner. “It’s time Edward.” the demon whispered. Edward Pepper looked at the beast, the archfiend and god of the underworld. Winged scarlet with long curling horns he sat in brimstone smolders and embers from the darkest depths of hell; his eyes were the worst and Edward avoided the ebony orbs of shadow as he genuflected near the alter.
“It’s time to end this farce.” the demon said in a grating voice of screams and tortured suspiration. Edward considered the demon for a moment, mortality wasn’t the worst thing he owned. He had lived in the shadow of the demon for three hundred years and here he was expecting payment for those extra years. Edwards laughter echoed in the asylum for a moment before he spoke to the demon, “ I have a covenant with god now demon, “ he began, and this is god’s house.” The demon sighed and waved a claw dismissing Edwards statement.
“You have a covenant with me first Edward.” Edward shook nervously and in creeping symmetry with fear. “Do you believe your farce Edward?” Edward prayed silently and in earnest imploring god to help. “Come on Eddie.” The demon held his hand out. Edward clenched the gold and silver crucifix tightly as he stumbled toward the demon.
The demon took Edwards hand and screamed. A plume of smoke drifted up from the demons talon. Edward laughed and said, “Go to hell……!” The demon rubbed his blistered palm and grinned back at him with an ancient grimace of hate. “Well Eddie, I guess our pact is finished.” with a flourish he disappeared in to a cloud of mist and smoke. Edward sat in one the church pews near exhaustion. His hair was bleached white and his face lined with a myriad of wrinkles, three hundred years worth. He took a labored breath wishing for god’s angels. Soon thereafter, they took him leaving an ancient tattered shell behind.

Ron Koppelberger
Justified by Fire
The virgin leaf was unspoiled by the amber colored substance, opium in a purely secret demonstration of surety. Always there and wanting a host to the lonely deliriums of addiction, the opium was always there and willing.
Harmon Blue was bred by the passage of denial and the tiny green leafed store of opium wasn’t tempting him to dramas of confusion. Instead he found himself on the border of a giant expanse. There were Poppies as far as the eye could see. Harmon was calm as he unscrewed the cap on the ten gallon can of gasoline. As he poured the fuel on the blossoms he thought about his daughter. Twenty-one years, that’s how long she had lived. The gas lolled and dripped from the plants. She had, in some insane yoke of fate, become an opium addict in blooming concession to all things expressing her former life; she was encumbered by the symmetry of the substance, tortoise slow and easy in the great race.
The gasoline sloshed in moist cloying union with the deceptively hateful flowers. He knew he was justified in his remedy. They had found his daughter face down on her apartment floor.
The echo of the shimmering fluid as the last few drops trickled across the temptress weed was hollow and desolate. Harmon Blue set the unequaled expanse of poppies on fire. He opened up his arms and cried; the poppies burned in a glittering conflagration of beauty and utter darkness.

Ron Koppelberger
Divine Scream
The trooper followed the fugitive into the warehouse; a quality of resonant power jolted the calm eddies of dust in the dark void of the empty warehouse. The trooper paused breathing in the sullied odor of rotting vegetables and lilac.
The fugitive stood in silent phantom shadow between the sliver of candent daylight surrounding the trooper in silhouette and the dusty trail leading to the sanctity of his extraction point. The trooper whispered, “Don’t move.” An exhausted tongue of solstice surrounded the trooper as the spring hinged door swung shut behind him.
The fugitive tilted his head backward, opened his mouth and screamed shattering the silent commune. Legends of ancestral continuum filled the moment with the passage of a few seconds, a few moments of tinctured, piercing sound as the fugitive continued to scream.
The trooper squinted in frozen fear as a brilliant fire surrounded the fugitive. Like the roar of a dragon he thought. The aluminum walls of the warehouse shook and the fugitive levitated to a horizontal position between the ceiling and the dirt floor. His scream echoed shrill and infinite. The trooper watched as the firelight vacillated and rolled in flame. A moment later it was finished, the fugitive spun in rhythm to the pulsing fire screaming, then silence. He vanished near the corrugated metal roof and the gentle rush of a gasping breeze shook the building. The trooper sighed and shook his head in disbelief. His thoughts in secret labor as he forced himself to forget the vision of fire.

Ron Koppelberger
THe Weary Dreamer
The gateway to shifting shadows and misty veils of contemplation in dream catcher pavilions of dominion, the claim of tramp bond and ethereal absolutes were the sleepy commons of azure firmament and weary unconscious dreams. A journey with vistas of dandelion drama and pregnant puffs of dander seed. The whisper of gentle harmonies in lullaby eyes of mystical fantasy and illusions of cities in bustle and anxious submission to the oblique angles of day by day adventure, work love and passionate existence were the secrets that enveloped his sleeping soul.
The sleeping dreamer conveying in savannahs of wheat and saffron, corn and marigold tempers. Farmstead fascinations of harvest and boarders of plenty filled the spaces where his awakening dream converged. The sleepy sojourner in flags of divine myth and venerated lands of plenty, defined by lines in flux and gentle applauding witness. Dreaming the dialogue, the soliloquy and agreements of existence. The weary dream in spheres of sunshine and guarantees of life, lands and tinctured seas of meditation. The benedictions of saints and angels in unfettered quests of refreshing slumber and visions of taboos that believe the creation of a universe, dreaming dreams of eternity and forever reflected by the face of god.

Ron Koppelberger
The Inmate
The remedy was a simple matter for Sgt. Windhook, the simplicity of it was just that easy. Safeguards in shadow, an inmate in courts of confinement and faraway, at arms length and by a thousand miles of steel. The miracle of seasoned isolation wore the sanctity of the sergeants’ safe haven, secure, looked up and undeviating. The Psy Research Facility was sponsored by Vermont Horizons Inc., also known as Telemetry Visions Corp. and in retrospect, the Bastille. Sgt. Windhook watched the vine, the wine of countless parishioners and researchers and more importantly the purveyors of a $465.00 paycheck.
He danced in the fluorescent lights of the ten by ten cell. The vine was a young man in his twenties shorn with a buzz cut and piercing dark eyes. He saw Windhook peering in at him and he hooted, “YYYYYEEEEEEHHHHHAAAAAAWWWWWWW!.” Windhook grimaced and watched as the vine concealed his face with cupped hands, a moment later he was looking at the reflection of his own face. The vine growled and in spontaneous ascertation manifest the face of a wolf. Sgt. Windhook staggered back from the tiny window glass and gasped, “Oh my god!” continuing down the row of cells he made a point of ignoring the howls coming from the vines cubicle. Sgt. Windhook wondered and contemplated the strength of the steel doors as he finished his round.

Ron Koppelberger
Poverty and Vision
The desire to conform to sober restraints and the boundaries of existence was like an uncontrollable wildfire in his feverish lust for immortality. He repeated the motion in silent demonstration. The sensibilities of Ragland Watts was the inclination to better things and passions unbound, a proof that the inscribed invention was an assurance of his manifest destiny.
Raggland toggled the fulcrum in the guarantee of odd wisdom, The worn inscription read,
The lazy wheel of the inscribed time piece availed the shadows of secret horizons and the spirit of the sun. A penance to mortality, flowering roses forever in bloom, babies in miraculous ceremonies of suggested design and the revolution of earthly promises, undying circles of existence. The watch ticked and he grew just a bit older in contemplation and reverence for the time piece. In guarded pleasure he had the poverty of vision and the wealth of immortal tides.

Ron Koppelberger
Wayfarer Guide Book
All he remembered was a horrific screech then blackness. There were outstretched hands and sprigs of Palm Scrub surrounding a trail of fools gold. The path was littered with it. Standing water and swampy morass gave birth to cattails and saw grass bouquets in fluttering firefly aspirations. The tall pines cradled errant currents of wind in pine bough whispers and wishful consonance.
He moved along the path, spears of sunshine pierced the jungle hammock in moted spirals of glowing warmth and pools of misty fog roiling in tendrils of cotton near the shadowy border of wooded passage. He spotted the book in glowing temptations of spider silk near the path of fools gold and laying in a bed of moss, the book was covered in a fine spun gossamer spider web. He touched it’s surface, it was leathery smooth and in breaths of exasperating ambiance. He grabbed the ancient text and read the title, the legend embossed by an eternal pilgrim.
“Wayfarer Guidebook”
It said in flowing mysterious script. He opened the book to the first page and read.
“Welcome wayfarer,
If your curious to know and
Confused in successive row, let it be said
Pilgrim babe, that you are most certainly dead!”
He saw his gray and blue corvette for a moment of evanescent reflection. There it was smashed and broken along with him; hauntingly awed by the posthumous rigors of inspired afterlife, he smiled and began reading the wayfarer guidebook.

Ron Koppelberger
Unmoved by the edges of the sunken yard, Moody Carol sat in his recliner, feet up and leaning toward the sky. He had hauled his beige Easy-Boy to the center of the depression in the yard; the hole had spread in a perfect circle swallowing the cottage and a portion of Peace Avenue. The lip of the depression revealed a small crowd of neighbors and the shiny red glow of a rescue vehicle. They were shouting down to Moody and pointing to a rope and steel ladder the fire crew had lowered into the incline.
Moody was oblivious, eyes nearly closed, slivers of twilight sky leaking through to fill the void in his mind. He would ride the broken earth, the soils of encroaching perdition. He would sling low, six gun on his hip, breaths of Pabst Blue Ribbon tingeing his lips, a ride on the way to places bidden by dark shadows and bread crumb trails. “Yeeeeeeeeehhhhhaaaaaa.” he yelled up as the hole deepened.
The chair swayed in uneasy rhythm with the crumbling earth and he moved down, down to the depths of dramatic wandering pass, the sky becoming smaller until it was nearly a pinpoint of azure beckoning. Down, down and further down, finally he reached the bottom, the base of the depression, the center of the earth and close to the devils hearth. Whereupon a demon, winged in crimson, flew across the gulf and came to rest next to Moody’s chair.
“ What hath the lot of selfish wont brought you Moody?” Moody thought for a moment before answering.
“ A moment to trip up the lot of fate demon, I’m here early for the sake of a distraction and chance, chance before the last peal of infinity, chance for redemption, chance for a pitchfork in your backside devil.”
The gentle rush of a beguiling blue light filled the pit and Moody was transported to heaven where he was received in passionate embrace. An angel was heard to comment,” He has the temper of a tiger and the heart of a lion.”

Ron Koppelberger
The benevolent knowledge of an independent seed the labor of an absurd schism and free will………even in symbiosis.
The fullness of the day was necessary to the ecology of Avion; Axion concealed his disdain with the piercing ache of sunshine showers and daffodil dreams. Avion whistled and hummed an old gospel hymn and Axion cringed. The vaguely occult twinkling of darkness touched axions lips as he muttered a curse. Avion slapped Axions hand in a high five gesture. “Cheer up Axion, it’s a beautiful day.”
Axion grimaced as his teeth ground in irritation. When Avion bent down to pluck a rose from the gentle rambling rose bush the sound of a blue jay screamed overhead. Axion bent in synchronous compliment to Avion. Axion caught the misty bouquet of Attar as Avion waved the perfect blossom under his nose. Avion smiled, “Come on brother, be good.” Axion chuckled and smiled back sheepishly. As they carried the newspaper into the house, hand in hand, the postal matron drove by and stared with a bemused fascination. The Siamese twins, the pair, one body and two very wonderfully functioning heads, turned and waved at the mail car as she drove by.

Ron Koppelberger
The Blue Parrot
She was dressed in her sheer camisole and her bedroom slippers. A parrot in ceramic glory hung on the faded pink wall of the bedroom. Simple and replete with the notion of winged freedom, winged in glory and azure tincture, amber eyed thrill.
She stared at the round ceramic dish adorned with the blue parrot,” Polly wanna cracker?” she said out loud. The bars on the window were closely stitched but they would allow for the bird in an easy breath. The windows were open and a warm gust of air blew between the steel bars. A blue parrot, a companion in hell. The locks remained steadfast and heavy on the bedroom door allowing for nothing and in chained, bolted distinctions of prison.
The blue parrot, she saw it clearly, chawing, cawing her name in provident foreshadowing faith, in fortune and wildfire freedom. She took the file she had secreted away from behind the blue parrot and began sawing a tiny groove in the steel bar. She smiled thinking of winged freedoms, open skies and the desires of a sweet deliverance from the confinement of her
Husbands design. She would be free, she would be free.

Ron Koppelberger
The Genius Tiger
In evolutionary terms the tiger was an anomaly, a genius. He shared a motley adornment of orange fire and coal black striped fur with the other tigers, Fanged, carnivorous yet sly in an apostate leadership of higher function. The tigers abode, his sanctuary was a cozy rock cave hidden by saplings and bramble scrub.
Food, he thought one day, I need food. He had seen and bypassed a myriad of pits designed to capture the large beasts of the jungle. On the sly he had seen his brothers and sisters captured and killed by the coalition of man. Thinking of food and the dark skinned men he layed a trap.
Using his front paws he dug a three foot shallow and filled it with loose twigs and logs. It was designed to ensnare a mans ankle long enough for him to pounce in confident attack.
The man came a week later, seven nights the tiger thought purring gently in expectation. In graceful thanksgiving his stomach grumbled with half-caste expressive anticipation. The precious quarry stumbled and fell face first into the makeshift trap. The tiger growled and leapt killing the man with a single bite. He was quick and effective treading the tether of life and death expertly.
The tiger slept with sated satisfaction, safely confined in the sanctity of his hidden shelter. He thought, I’ll never be hungry again as he devised another trap in blissful ecstasies of revolving evolution.

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