Chris found his way to the kitchen. Fumbling in the darkness to find the light switch on the wall, his bare right foot was met with stinging warmth and shooting pain. His leg recoiled away from its stance, but the step back was more painful than the first. Lifting the now throbbing appendage upward, his hand grabbed his heel and brought the sole of his right foot within sight. Shattered bits of glass, drawing streams of living tissue from the prison of skin, protruded from his soft arch. The awkward position and the deep kiss of unrelenting torment sent Chris crashing to the floor, landing hard on the wooden planks.
“Fuck me!” he cursed.
“Irene? Are you in there?” His head now turned towards the hallway leading to his bedroom.
“Sandra? Sandra!” He shouted.
“What the fuck is going on?”
Drawing his foot closer again, his eyes searched out the glass shards. His fingers began picking out the larger pieces, staining his fingertips red with every attempt. Placing the removed glass on the end table closest to his landing, Chris rubbed his hand across the blood stained sole of his foot. Tiny glass needles still burned deep within his skin causing him to wince when touched. They were too deep to remove by hand, especially in the darkness of the living room floor. His now sobbing foot covered his hands, jeans and the floor with an abundance of red tears. Climbing to stand on his left leg, he hopped back to the entrance of the kitchen. Reaching around the corner, his fingers find the light switch. Two one hundred watt bulbs pour their light over the kitchen. They burned brighter than Chris remembered. Just inside the frame leading into the kitchen, what was left of a drinking glass lay in pieces on the kitchen floor. Chris’s blood pooled in droplets from the moment of impact, dotting small puddles of water. Just beyond the fragments and blood, Momma Irene’s dentures rested, discarded from the broken glass of water.
“Irene?” he shouted. His left hand stretching across the entrance to grab a kitchen towel laying on the counter. Wrapping it quickly around his bleeding foot, he tied the ends in a half hazard knot pulling the baby blue cloth tightly against his wounds. The fabric brushed against the exposed slivers of glass still embedded in his sensitive skin. His foot slowly ascended to the floor while his eyes scanned the kitchen.
“What the hell is going on?” he whispered to himself.
With every attempt to place weight on his injured foot, the damaged nerves sent screaming messages to his brain. The filaments of the bulbs shuddered with white hot energy causing their illumination to increase well beyond the limits of the tiny wires. A quick flash, like that of a dying star, and with a loud pop, darkness swallowed Chris. The sudden silence was quickly broken by heavy footsteps pounding on the ceiling, followed by a ghastly howl from Momma Irene.
“Dear God, help me!”
Chris quickly spun on his good foot and hastily limped to the bottom of the stairs.
“Irene!” he shouted. His hand flicked the stairwell light with no response from the dead bulb. His trip up the stairs seemed endless and sharp. Each advance on his injured foot leaving a stinging bloodied foot print on every other step. Through gritted teeth and grunts of pain, Chris called out to his mother in-law.
“Irene! I’m coming!”
Pulling himself along the banister, Chris strained under the hot caress each step delivered. With the second floor finally reached, Chris began hopping on his left foot down the hall to Irene’s room. His eyes move from the blood stain in front of the bathroom and follow the dragging red pool into Momma Irene’s open bedroom door.
Sophie and Amanda were seated back to back on the center of the bed, their bodies supporting each other. The white linens and comforter of the bed were now stained black and red, mirroring the walls and floor. Bits and pieces of Irene’s body now lay strewn about the small room, clinging to the wet walls and ceiling. Only her head remained untouched, preserved perfectly and unblemished by the red stain that now covered the entire room. It sat precariously above the headless open necks of Chris’s mutilated daughters. Irene’s eyes stared directly into Chris’s. Her lips frozen in an exaggerated curl of a toothless smile. An exhibit in Hell that lacked only a running fountain of blood that had long since been closed for repair. A deliberate atrocity, a willful stab at the heart of the son, of the father. Chris could feel the throngs of death ebb throughout his soul. The sudden passing of all light within him quickly flashed to his stomach, chest and head. His body recoiled and quickly sent the contents of his belly screaming through his throat and crashing against the back of his teeth. The expulsion so sudden and extreme, blood carrying vessels within his tightly closed eyes burst. Muscles in his legs, already burdened with stabilizing the weight against his injured foot, buckled and cramped under the sudden shock. His spent body fell against the open door frame and slid without resistance to rest upon his knees in a warm pool of vomit and bloodied gruel. Trails of tears ran from his throbbing eyes. All the world had to offer now forgotten, the spectator remained in awe of the artist’s masterpiece of death. Chris’s jaw rocked back and forth, randomly opening and closing as if to scream. His throat burned with bile and clenched muscle, squeezing so tightly, sound could not escape it. The hallway began to spin around him as darkness seemed to rush in like a black tide. The icy touch of impending unconsciousness drew his eyes into their sockets. The pupils rolled up under the tide as his eyelids did their best to guard against the chill. Body and soul had resigned itself to suffocate under the ocean of horror. Just before the last glimmer of light would disappear between the closing curtains of flesh and lashes, a siren’s song rose above the crashing waves.
“Chris! Don’t leave me!”
Sandra’s voice reached into the crushing abyss. Her voice stirred within his still form. Heavy with the weight of his struggle, Chris’s head rolled back on his shoulders. The numbness of the depth he had fallen into soon bristled with sting and fire. Her voice carried electricity, and with it, shocked his heart with a forgotten reason to surface. Fighting to reach the surface, his eyes snapped open as his lungs filled with the stink of humid air.
“Oh my God! Sandra!”
His hand clutched the door frame as Chris strained to pick himself up from the stagnant wreckage. The jagged stones that ripped apart his sanity still sat back to back, two small bodies, one head, staring with silver eyes, smiling with a toothless grin. Beyond Chris’s reach, they could no longer be saved. Only Sandra remained, screaming in the dark for rescue, never realizing he himself might be under the spell of the harpy’s song.
“Baby, I’m coming!” His words filled with glass and salt. The same stinging sensation shared by his injured foot.
His shoulder bounced against the hallway as he staggered to the stairs, shaking his head to wake the frozen thoughts. Each step descending the hard wooden planks grew more painful than the last. His foot had now become engorged with bruised and coagulating blood. His clenched teeth would peek out behind his clenched lips after every step. Moving with purpose, this was the only sign of pain that could be detected from Chris’s face. He no longer cared about the shattered glass embedded deep within his foot, nor the stain it left on the clean wooden floor. Sandra needed him. She was now the center of his universe, the guiding light through the storm that was now falling upon him. There was no time to think of anything else. Whomever had mutilated the rest of his family in the tiny bedroom upstairs must now be attacking Sandra. She had screamed for him, and he would be damned if she were left alone to be molded and carved into another Hellish sculpture. Surely, she would have grabbed the revolver from his dresser drawer to protect herself. The night lay quiet and still. No gunfire, no screaming, not even the sound of crickets broke through the static of silence. Only the old wood floor creaked under his footsteps and the deep panicked breath that moved in and out of his own lungs.
Reaching the bottom of the stairs, Chris moved quickly through the living room and into the hallway, under cover of the darkness. The light in the hallway had also been swallowed by the black. Chris moved swiftly, limping and hopping closer to the bedroom door. There wasn’t the time to check the hall light, Sandra was alone behind the jammed door. Or, at least, Chris had hoped she was alone. He stopped in front of the door. It was no longer closed entirely. It stood, cracked open, about a thumbs length from the splintered frame. His hand pushed against its weight until it moaned open completely.
Moonlight hinted that Sandra still lay beneath the blankets on the bed. Dark stains pooled under the fabric and seemed to move slowly between the fibers. Black Rorschach patterns formed wet nightmares under the soaking gauze. The same humid stench that filled the second floor had now clung to the air of the bedroom. Chris wiped his aching blood dotted eyes, his lips now forming words with no sound. Please and no stuck deep within his burning throat. His legs carried him closer to Sandra’s side of the bed. With a trembling hand, his fingers grasped the top of the sheets. His knuckles drained of color as he clenched the sheet, pulling it from the moist heat that permeated the mattress. The dizzying sensation began to return as his stomach churned and folded. Absent of any remaining contents, Chris began to dry heave and sway, under the control of the ghastly mess that filled his eyes. Sophie and Sandra, eyes now dark caverns of gore, slashed almost beyond recognition, stare in horror back at their father. His daughter’s heads now occupying the black and red stain where he had last seen Sandra, sleeping unaware, dreaming. His red eyes welled with tears, but remained behind the safety of his stinging eyelids. His reserve of fluid and tears almost drained to empty by the endless command to quench his reddened face. The sickening pain within him began to turn in his gut. Warmth poured over his flesh as anger soon replaced illness. Drying pasty saliva now spilled out between his clenched teeth with every breath. His eyes rolled briefly in their sockets, as if his sight had been interrupted by incoming information. They quickly snapped back to attention with a new seething purpose.
“Where are you, you son of a bitch?”
Chris rounded the bed to his end table. Retrieving a small metal box, he feverishly fumbled with the rolling numbers of the lock that kept its contents from curious little girls. The .45, fully loaded, cold and heavy, now rested in the shaking hand of a man with nothing left to lose.
“What have you done with Sandra? Come out and face me mother fucker!
Chris scanned the room quickly. In the moonlight peaking through the window behind him, he could now see a dark stain on the floor in the corner next to him. It left a bloody streak leading to the bed. As his eyes followed the dark red pool to the mattress, a shredded flesh covered hand darted from beneath the bed frame and grabbed his swollen injured foot. It’s grasp squeezed tightly onto his ankle, sending sparks of raw pain and panic through his body. The silence exploded as Chris unleashed six silver slivers of hot death into the mattress. Acrid smoke plumed from the weapon and drifted slowly to the ceiling. The sound of six thunder claps echoed in his ears. The static of silence was now replaced with a sharp whistle that lingered in his head. Chris pulled his leg away from the now lifeless hand. Its grip had loosened and fell from his ankle. As it lay overturned on the hard wood floor, the moon reflected a sparkle of light from the wretched hand that now sat motionless before him. A stark realization climbed up his limbs with thorny claws, digging deeper and deeper as it ripped its way up his chest and over the lump in his throat. His eyes grew wide as the realization flooded into his head.
“Sandra’s wedding ring…” he whispered.
“Oh God.. Oh God, no!”
The revolver fell from his hand as Chris slumped to the floor. His hands grasping at the tattered arm that lay in a puddle of blood, outstretched from under the bed. He pulled at the appendage until Sandra’s corpse was fully exposed from the waist up. He sat sobbing, clutching his dead wife, rocking back and forth. Her jaw hung ajar, frozen in a scream. Her chest and face a bleeding chasm. Her back and head pitted with fresh graves for bullets.
This was the delicious moment
That point in time where all that Hell has to offer rests golden brown and steaming artfully placed between the gravy and the mashed potatoes. Burning long candles and beautiful flora adorn the elaborate long dining table, cluttered with pies, cakes and spirits of all kinds. Sandra is there. Fluttering like a butterfly about the table, landing only for a moment to fill the plate she is carrying in her milky white hands. Her skin appears phosphorescent, shimmering in much the same way as her billowing white gown. The dark red walls and dancing candle light of the great dining hall compliment the brightness Sandra exudes. Chris sits comfortably, leaning in to his high back chair. Letting his arms fall to the outside of the arm rests, he gives way to Sandra returning to his side and placing her bountiful plate before him. Chris smiles as Sandra turns to adjust the tie on his suit. He stares into her eyes as she lovingly makes the adjustment and holds his face in her soft glowing hands.
“Eat, my love.”
The butterfly returns to the air, fluttering to his side.
“Eat, my love.”
Polished fork and knife glisten in refraction. Ghosts of flame dance within their surface. They penetrate the succulent meat, still moist and warm. The aroma causes Chris to close his eyes in delight just as it passes below his nose and into his palate. The most delicious moment.
“Eat, my love.”
A second bite, and then a third. The flavor overwhelms Chris as table manners are quickly abandoned. His joy is only surpassed by his growing hunger. The eating utensils are cast aside in favor of pursuing a more direct approach. His fingers poke and tear at the juicy bits with fervor and frenzy, picking meat from bone. His face is soon covered in warm grease and saliva spilling from his smiling meat hole.
“Eat my love.”
Sandra’s tone had changed. Her voice seemed dry and guttural, as if choking on a cigarette. Something hard and metallic smashed into Chris’s left molars. Wincing in pain, his tongue began searching out the un-chewable object. It slipped neatly over the tip of his tongue. Reaching into his mouth to retrieve it, a confusion swept over him upon seeing the foreign object. Sandra’s wedding band.
“EAT MY LOVE!”
The voice was so close, it startled Chris. Upon blinking a few times, he focused his vision on the motionless corpse standing just beyond the bedroom mattress. The taste of hot copper filled his throat, almost soothing the putrid burning. To his right, he held Sandra’s wedding ring. His left held Sandra’s mutilated hand to his lips. Her blood now covered Chris’s face, hands and chest. His eyes darted to her gnawed hand, and then back to the maddening stare of dead eyes. Mangled chunks of flesh and muscle rolled from his lips to land on his chest and lap. The delicious moment, savored solely by his tormentor.
Without emotion, Chris whispered “…eat my love”
“And so you have.”The thing whispered back.
Silver blades scrape together with vicious anticipation of a new human sheath. Once frozen by death, aged bone and dead skin fold and twist, under the command of demonic masters. Dried marrow snaps, muscle tears, bone breaks. Unnatural bends from spastic appendages flail wildly as the singing silver blades begin to thrust and wail at the humid copper air. Dirty chipped toe nails drag the surface of the wooden slats as the thing begins moving forward towards the mattress, closer to the stunned prey gazing upon the shining truth of Hell. No reason. No explanation. No escape. The Devil had found its way to the surface, clawing at the earth with silver edge and hellish will. Apparently, some rules remain above as well as below… women and children first.
The click was almost audible outside of Chris’s head. The only tell was a slight twitch in Chris’s unblinking eyes. He slid to his feet at the same time grabbing the bed rail. In one movement, Chris hurled the bed onto its far side, causing the mattress and box springs to interrupt the silver assault whirring closer to his weaker flesh. The sudden burst of energy and awkward movement sent Chris reeling backwards. His elbows and head felt the surface of the bedroom window crack and give way. He tumbled through the frame in a shower of glass and searing pain. His bare back felt the muddy ground force shards of stinging heat deeper into his cold skin. This was of no consequence to the rush of anger swirling in fear and sorrow that spun like a tornado behind his eyes. Quickly finding his footing, Chris stumbled up and ran to his pickup truck. The spare key was quickly snatched from its magnetized box underneath the driver’s side front wheel well. He hurriedly unlocked the door and shut himself within the truck, jamming the key into the ignition. The headlights cut through the darkness and illuminated the front of the house. Four corpses. Four visions of sheer terror stood before the front door of his home. Dead eyes and teeth shined with the same evil glow that their silver knives reflected. The fifth corpse rose up within the broken window frame. It’s shoulders hunched up with its head hanging low, slightly tilted so it’s dead eyes peered coldly at the truck. Chris slammed the truck in reverse and pressed the gas pedal. Gravel spit from beneath the spinning four wheels. The sound of hard rain was joined with a sudden larger banging. Chris briefly had checked behind him when driving in reverse to turn around as to avoid Sandra’s car. When he glimpsed in front of him again to check on the devils standing at his door, he saw his daughters one last time. Their tiny heads hurling at his windshield. Blood staining the wet glass upon impact.
The delicious moment.