FIESTA, EST-CE QUE CE MONDE EST SERIEUX

 

Hemingway loved the bull, both the beast and the shit-
the bravado of animal instinct bared on horny streets
in the heat, caught up, breathless, in the chase-
the Aficionado on fire, at the Fiesta, those buen hombres
who always knew how to get a room in a hotel
with nothing left to rent

and that other artist, galloping
for his freedom through the fearless fools
in the sweltering sun, under crowded balconies
but the crowd knew the clause, freedom was not his prize
at the end, after the gallop, inside the ring as the rocket roared
and the costumes and cape commenced.

Hemingway loved the bull…

‘Sentir le sable sous ma tête c’est fou comme ça peut faire du bien,
j’ai prié pour que tout s’arrête, Andalousie je me souviens…’

Lyrics from ‘La Corrida’ by Francis Cabrel

 

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

SHORT STORIES OF FEAR; BETWEEN THE PANES

A short story

The wife.
I am a wife. I am a mother. There is a brown house with a red picket fence surrounding it that has our name upon the old fashioned and outdated post box. I can’t remember ever really receiving post. Real post; letters stamped with fondness and posted with a hope of reply. Now everything is emailed instead of mailed. Things change so quickly and I am slower every time with keeping up. I was single once and lived in a cramped cottage that was cold in summer and stuffy in winter. I used to walk barefoot in the mud out back, after the rainstorms, my skirt hitched above my knees. My brother would try to push me over. He succeeded only three times. That’s how long it took me to learn that I didn’t like being pushed. I adapted quicker back then as if change was easier; a necessity, a requirement of growth, development. When I was 14, we moved closer to town. My mother cried. Father said something about a fresh start. I got to choose my own bedroom now that it was just my parents and myself.
I am a wife. I am a mother. My daughter doesn’t like mud. I thought she would. I imagined she would find comfort in my footsteps. I assumed she would follow her mother to the ends of the earth. That was not to be. You see, she doesn’t like walking. She likes laughing. She can almost choke herself while covering a fit of giggles if she thinks I’m not in the mood. My husband is also not a walker and finds no grounding, no comfort to be barefoot in the mud. Not like my father once did. My husband is funny. My daughter is devoted to funny. I never acquired the taste. My husband is always on the verge of choking.
I am a wife. I am a mother. I have lived for 32 years. I have inhaled the same air as everyone around me but it didn’t kill me. Others have disappeared. Others that shared my air. Others that often begrudged me my very own breath. Sometimes I see their faces in windowpanes, fleeting flickers trapped between the glass, their voices faint and distant as if an echo of what once was entangled inside an echo of what is no longer. When I was old enough to start working and earn my own money my parents vanished. Somethings I guess happen for a reason. It’s all about timing. I used to hang their photographs on the white polished walls of our brown house with its red picket fence until one day, walking barefoot in the back garden, alone, I caught them looking out at me between the panes of glass in the kitchen window. Their appearance was fractured, like a reflection in a mirror after it’s been smashed. It offered me no clarity but only a cold comfort until I dug my toes deeper into the wet earth as if I could push down that which was trying to rise back up. After that day, I took their photographs down in case their memory was bound in some such way within the picture frame, like that final vision I have of them, the last time I saw them fighting for air in that old attic of our new home near the town that would always and forever be shackled to some part of my soul. I never liked being up in that draughty attic. I couldn’t wait to get out. It was so stuffy, like our old cottage, like my dead brother, like my parents. I loved my father very much and he loved me. But love is not something you can always hold on to. Sometimes you need to clear out so you can start fresh.
I am a wife. I am a mother. Before we had our daughter, my husband would spend hours, days, entire weekends with his fingers, his tongue, his penis, exploring every inch of my flesh. He had an insatiable thirst that could never be quenched and I never let it. I wanted him to match me in all that I desired. I gave myself up to him like a vessel to be filled, feasted on, fornicate with. We were feverous. Fucking was not just a nocturnal pastime but our daily need. I was his trainer without him ever knowing it. I had learned how to be a silent master. It is so much easier to get what you want when the other person believes he is giving it all up on his own terms. I can at least thank my father for this. I am a wife in a marriage but the terms have never been shared. He is my husband. He always came when I called.
Until I became a mother.

The mother.
I was a wife. I was a mother. I didn’t enjoy one more than the other. In fact, I can honestly say I only managed to endure them both. I derived no satisfaction, no comfort from those roles my life led me to. When I was a young girl, my own mother cried often behind the door of the pantry. Occasionally, if I approached her slowly, she would let me take her hand. That was her only outlet. That was her moment of releasing all the pain she embodied but couldn’t speak of. Those minutes behind that door, shrouded with the smell of cinnamon sticks and muslin cloths hanging to dry, were the darkest moments of her day. They were my happiest memories. The only time in my life I felt truly capable to comfort and be comforted.
When I became a wife, my husband took me to his family cottage to live. We had fields instead of neighbours. No one saw us. We had animals instead of friends. No one came to visit. We had a stifling stillness instead of the city’s sound and speed. No one heard me scream. The entire building and surrounding landscape of mounting mud and baying sheep became the pantry I cried in. To hide for a moment behind one door wasn’t enough. My pain, my loss, was bigger, I believe, than my own mother’s. I married a man who was bigger than my father. Stronger than my father. I saw this as seductive and secure. But it was all a myth. He was no less than a monster imitating man. At night, I often woke alone on the soiled sheets. Battered and broken I would rise up and watch him from the window walking barefoot in the mud across the back fields. It comforted me, momentarily, to watch him from behind the windowpane as if somehow that solid sheet of glass could shield me from the sinister spirit that haunted his shadow.
I was a wife. I was a mother. A parent is not meant live beyond their children. That is not the natural order but I grew accustomed over the years to understanding that I had been taken far from anything that was natural. Anything that was expected. We lived on a large farm, in a fading cottage, with that mud and those sheep and the stretched-out fields and a sky full of burnt-out stars still shining because no one had told then they were already dead and yet none of that was ordinary.
Ordinary was not the night I woke to a sound so cold, so crippling that I grabbed my husband’s arms to plead with him to hold me in his careless embrace. It sounded like a stick being broken but more fragile, more finite. It caught the cottage in its reverberating echo and all contents trembled in its wake. My husband found the boy. Our boy. My boy.
We had two children. The daughter came first. My husband claimed her early on for himself and later on for something unforgivable. They shared that foreign fondness for bare feet in the freshly formed mud. She liked to hum to herself as I worked in the kitchen even though she knew it bothered me. She never took my hand in the pantry. She never took my hand at all. And I was glad. Even as a baby her touch felt uncharacteristically cold to me. The boy was my son. He came afterwards. I saw his flesh in my blood. I saw my weakness in his silence. I saw his affection when my side became his side. When my reason became his objective. Our offspring could not have been more different. They were stern shadow and stilted light. I encouraged him, as he grew older, to stand his ground. To hold his place against her. I had been wrong.
My husband found him, that night, the night of the snapping wood and reverberating echo, face down in the mud on the other side of the rusty gate. My husband said he must have been sleep walking and somehow climbed the gate and slipped. His neck had snapped in three places, the doctor told us afterwards. But I knew he never liked the darkness. I knew he would never go outside alone in the night. Not even in sleep. Not alone, at least. And so then there was just myself and my husband and his daughter and they grew closer to each other as my son moved further from my vision, now existing only in brief glimpses as light cast confusions onto windowpanes that occasionally carried whispers of his reflection.
I was a wife. I was a mother. We moved closer to town after it happened. A silly brown house with a white picket fence that my daughter would one day, long after, paint red and too many windows that had no memory of my son. I don’t know if a house, a vessel that has housed so many restless souls, can know what the future holds for it but I am certain that the moment we moved in, it sealed our fate as simply as the shutting of a front door. I had no idea at the time how this house would hold us. I spent too long looking in the windows for a glimpse of the past to notice the reflected projections of what was yet to be, already finding a place within the panes.

The husband.
I was a husband. I am a father. I was deceived by the first and saved by the second. I was lost for a long time behind a glass wall I couldn’t see through. All I could see was a reflection of my own desires and it wanted more. But it wasn’t me. It was a shadow manipulated by longing and lust. I was held between the frame of a moment caught in time. I had no past or future. I had only the intensity of the structure I was encased in. My wife had led me there. To that place. That house with its white picket fence she insisted on painting raw red. I had no idea I had become no more than a belonging. A longing she infested so as to own. I was ravenous for her. I was becoming her beast. Feeding from her breast was an intoxication that both fired and confined me. When I was a boy I thought my 8-speed silver racer could take me across the world. Every year the distance extended from the back yard, to the end of the street, into town, across Jackson’s field. I could not get enough. That was all I lived for. To see everything that existed beyond the blue door of our two-story semi in a neighbourhood that grew more and more affluent without ever wondering what else life had to offer. When I met my wife, all of that changed instantly. Our bedroom and our hunger became my only existence. I thought it was a choice I had made. I thought I was free within the foundation of our union. I was wrong. My daughter thought me that. It was she, this fragile, bright, smiling little girl who revealed the truth about what was good and all the rest that slips into your bed, under your skin and sucks the spirit out of you in the same way a serpent injects its venom. I never knew how easy it was to fall victim until I finally realised the thing I was addicted to was vicious.
I was a husband. I am a father. My daughter came as a shock to my wife and a jolt to me. It unnerved her and awakened me. I would wake to the pounding rain in the middle of the night and, from the bedroom window, see her walking naked, her swollen belly exposed to the night’s eyes, in the back garden, traipsing through the mud as if trying to pound her weight upon the earth. As if trying to crush all that was growing beneath her. Later I came to understand that she was really trying to stamp out the life that was growing inside her, the stirring within that had never been her intention. But at the time, I couldn’t see this. It is not always easy to see what’s right in front of you. It was even more difficult to see through our windows. The windows of our house, which in fact was my wife’s house, which had been her parent’s house before they disappeared, had shadows in the corners of them where there should have been clarity. I swore, at times, that there was more restless movement between the panes than there was outside in the world. This coming from a man held captive on the inside without knowing it yet.
Summer came with a different light, it poured in through the windows and drowned out all possibility of shadow in pane and in partner. My daughter was born of the summer sun, a radiance almost bigger than her own little body. Eyes of an emerald and hair the colour of corn. She was an eye opener in every way. She was a summation of all I had once dreamed of and all I had left outside when I first walked through the doors of that brown house with its white picket fence soon to be stained red. I love my daughter. I thought I loved my wife but it revealed itself finally as lust entangled within the curse of something not of this world. Something mixed with mud and murder.
I was a husband. I am a father. It was my daughter’s laughter that cracked the spell finally. It came upon me like fresh air into a stale house when the windows are opened and the air invited in. It was that simple and yet so significant. Every day more laughter. Every year more air, more light to wash down the shadow. And then it started. The end. Even ends have beginnings. We came home from an afternoon movie in town to find blank white walls in the hallway where once faces had watched over us. They were not the Instagram finely filtered faces of today. They were not altered of defects or Facebook selfies. They were faces of those who had come before us. Faces that told stories in their lines, in their captivity within the frame, frozen in their own moment. My daughter noticed them first and it was the first time I saw her cry. The faces in the photographs now missing were the faces of her grandparents she had never seen in life. Lost souls who had once walked through the very rooms we called home. My wife was as dismissive of the pictures disappearance as she was of her parent’s actual disappearance. Why remember a weak mother or a father who had been eaten by his own strength and desire? That was all she said. That was all she was ever going to say on the subject. We are who we are, she told our daughter from the doorway of her bedroom as I tucked the blankets around her tiny frame later that night, pictures just capture a single reflection, like light trapped in the window. You don’t want to be trapped between a sheet of glass, do you?
I was a husband. I am a father. My wife was not who I thought she was. After the lust had settled, after the laughter arrived, I began to be aware of fear. For the first time in my life, at the age of 35, on the edge of a town I never managed to cycle far from on that 8-speed silver racer now being recycled into something someone else will also never use to its full extent, in a brown house with a red picket fence that looks like blood-soaked swords shooting up from the afterlife, I found myself face to face with fear.
After the photographs vanished and we were left with only the memory of their existence on once pristine white walls, my daughter began a fascination with sitting by certain windows in the house. At first I thought she was watching the world and wondering, like I once did, how she could become a part of it. But it was more than that. When she was 9, I caught her, while I was taking out the trash in the back yard, staring from the window without looking out. I can’t really explain what I mean by that, suffice to say I was on the outside of the window, she was inside but she didn’t see me. She saw something else. Something between the panes of glass. A trick of shadow and light I told her when she finally whispered about the movement in the windows to me one day. It’s just the sunlight casting reflections on something which isn’t really there, although in the back of my mind I recalled once feeling something similar. Glass is just something to let the light through, it holds nothing of itself. No Daddy, she told me at 9 years of age, there are people within the panes. I can see them, she confessed. They are not just shadows. Mammy thought she was getting rid of them by hiding their photographs. But it’s not true. Grandma and Grandpa are still here. They tell me things. They show me things that happened but I can’t understand. I can’t always make out the shapes. They are fuzzy like the tv when you don’t tune it in properly. But I know neither of them are happy.
I was a husband. I am a father. I owed it to my daughter to protect her, whatever happened.

The mother.
I was a wife. I was a mother. I was a disappointment in both. Not intentionally, but I failed in both roles nonetheless. I lost a son. I laid his bones in the ground for the earth to comfort in ways that I could not. Now I wonder if he has found that comfort yet. I worry so, because after dying, I realised that I was not yet free. I am still shadow cast upon reflection in pain between the panes of glass that hold me prisoner. That keeps me timeless but without any concept of time passing.
I was a wife. I was a mother. The former was my greatest mistake to begin with. To not be able to see beyond the glimmering pretence of a man so immensely monster was my failing. My mother, in that pantry, with her hand in mine, cried because she had no time to be herself except in tears. She did not know anything more of bruises except for what she kissed on the knees and arms of her children. She did not know what torture meant aside from the monotony of her daily life. She did not know what a monster could rip from you beneath the covers of a marital bed. She had a husband, my father, who drank too much and laughed too little. I would have given anything for such a man as that.
I was a wife. I was a mother. But I was an outsider from the moment my daughter was born. They were the couple, my husband and his daughter. They took the wet walks in the newly fragrant mud in bare feet. They found the broken body of my son, that night when I woke to the sound of something snapping, of a bond breaking. They took the decision to move from the place that held the only memory of the boy who always took my side. They took over the use of the stuffy attic in that new brown house that never felt like a home to me but a sentence to be served. I took control only once in my life. I do not regret my actions, even if the truth later revealed itself as a back-to-front reflection in a picture taken of a moment that shattered my concept of our world, my so-called family and the final crack in a glass wall that could take no more stress.
I was a wife. I was a mother. I opened the door to their attic room one morning when I thought they were out walking. I opened the door and felt my weakness slip from my grasp. I was solid as stone. I was impenetrable in that moment, at the sight laid out on hands and knees before me. There was an old mirror, almost floor to ceiling, that the previous owners had left behind. My daughter and husband were not fond of reflections and all they revealed and had moved it away to the shadows of the attic. It was rusty and the glass had taken a liking to mildew like a man takes to the scent of a woman. But it still had purpose. It still revealed truths that were possibly too difficult for the eyes to see directly. In the ravaged glass I saw my daughter. In that musty glass I saw my husband. He was on his knees before his daughter. She was open legged on the edge of a bed before him. That was how I lost my weakness, finally. I gave it to the reflection in the mirror as I took hold of the old bed pan hanging by the door frame. My husband never had a chance to see his ending begin. With one solid crash, his head split even before it fit the floor.
I was a wife. I was a mother. I thought killing my husband had set us free. I thought I had smashed the monster and only the floorboards would echo with all he had done against us. That was what I thought in those first few minutes. I had killed the monster that had made us meek. I thought that. But I was wrong. I saw it instantly when I looked into the eyes of his daughter. I saw it. In that attic. In that brown house with the white picket fence she would soon stain with the blood of us both. My husband had been a monster but he had planted his seed to root in my body and I had borne nothing of my own likeness and all of his. But she had learned to be more. She had learned to hunger for more. She was already growing tired of being Daddy’s little girl and so she had made him crawl on his knees before her, pleading, begging but even that had grown dull. And then I eliminated him for her. I thought I had lost my weakness but, in part, I had been turned and twisted into fulfilling her desires. Now all that stood in her way was me. Her mother. I knew I had but minutes. Time ticked away from me like the sun descends from day. And she was upon me like the eye of the moon taking hold of the night. Her shadow engulfed me in its clasp. It was cold, like the touch of her skin when she was a baby. But she was no longer a baby and I was no longer for this earth. There was no air. There was to be no more. Or so I thought.
I was a wife. I was a mother. Now I am but shadow. Now I am but a partly forgotten memory of something that once moved. I am the trick you think is light in the corner of your eye when you look out into the world from within. I am at times static and stationary. I am at times a fuzzy blur on the brink of burning out. But I am not alone. I cannot see him but I know he is here with me in between the panes of glass that we no longer have the strength or limbs to shatter. The monster is here, somewhere. That monster I married and murdered.
I was a wife. I was a mother. But it was my granddaughter who finally looked out into the world and saw me trapped between it. I whispered into her thoughts and she whispered into the man who my daughter had tried to turn into her prey. But she had been wrong. She had been so wrong to bring a new life into this world. Evil does always bare its likeness into its offspring, just as goodness does not always bare the brightest fruit. I had given birth to both. She had given birth to a light that was too bright to blanket in the shade.
I saw him, that night, that night the pipe broke at the end of the back garden. It had never burst before but pipes are bursting with water and water can be like a mirror, can be like glass, can show you the truth if you look closely beneath its depths. He was wading through the mud that my daughter loved and he hated, looking for the source but what he found was not what he ever imagined. If you push something down deep in the ground, it will one day find a way to rise back up. No late-night walking, stomping can ever keep fate down for long. I had long since been lost to my body, snared behind the pane but my body was no longer lost to the world. Nor that of my husband and the further he looked for the source of the flooding, the closer my daughter’s husband came to the bones of it all. Our rotting remains came up from hell like a man coming up from air after almost drowning. And suddenly there was the light, crashing against his feet and suddenly, too, her darkness was revealed to him in the muddy waters in his back garden that was once my back garden and had, 15 years earlier, become my grave of utter unrest. He had been looking in all the wrong corners but had finally found, in the depths of night, the truth he had been sleeping next to.
When my daughter returned that night, I turned within the pane of glass from looking outside to a world I was lost to, to looking inside to a daughter I needed to be avenged. He was waiting for her. Standing right next to the bones that had once been mine. The bones that had once been her fathers. He thought he could reason with her until he lost that fight. He thought he could take her until she was on top of him. He thought it was over as her hands chocked the life out of him and I began to see a shadow appearing next to me in the glass. I thought he was finished. I thought evil had finally won. But I was wrong. I had been away from the light so long that I had forgotten how powerful it was. And there it was. In the doorway. And I recalled another doorway and the feeling of my mother’s hand slipping around mine, and the feeling of her tears on my cheek as she leaned her head against mine. And I remembered the comfort I had given her and the comforted folded itself around the memory that I had become. And I whispered to the light. And I reached out deep into the mind of that light. And I offered it comfort as it raised its arms onto all that was comfortless. And the light that was my granddaughter brought its force upon the monster mounted upon her father. And instantly the shadow next to me shifted. And instantly I recognised something cold in its form.

The wife.
I am a wife. I am a mother. But now I am dead. So I don’t know if I can still call myself either. I didn’t know I was dead until I felt the glass press upon my flesh on all sides. I didn’t know I was dead because I could still see the living, picking up the pieces all around me. In losing life, I had lost time. I lost the ability to follow one thought to the next. To define one moment from the other. Suddenly I found myself in a continuum of being present and feeling a descent from my own self, my own processions, my own desires. I was vague when I had always been veracious. I shifted in shape between the sheets of glass, limbs disconnected as if I’d been shattered. Parts of my being belonged to someone else, older, weaker, people once vanished by my own hands. I knew I was dead when I looked at my hand, a hand that wasn’t my hand, and recognised it to be that of my mother.
And then I saw them coming towards me, moving in slow, solid motions to where my reflection had collected into a featureless form on the cold corner of the frosted glass of the front window. I saw them coming towards me with spears of broken wood from the red picket fence I had painted, yielding it like swords. I saw them coming towards me, the man I had married and the child I had pushed out of me, and I knew, right before the glass shattered, that even death had an ending.

The husband.
I was a husband. I am a father. I will never falter again I told myself as we packed up the car with the basic essentials and drove away without looking back at all that lay broken. We did not speak, my daughter or myself. There was nothing left to say. All that once was had been smashed to pieces. All connections, all reflections released as if we’d amputated ourselves from our past. Or so I thought until we hit that turning on the interstate and I signalled left but my daughter said no. We still had one thing left to do. Someone was still trapped. Someone needed us to release them before we could completely release ourselves from the horror we had endured. One shaft of sorrow still stood in a shadow of pain. And so we turned right and eventually fell upon the old cottage, now rotting by the roadside and partially swamped in mud. My daughter knew where to find him. His mother, her grandma had told him where he’d be. And she was right. The window was still there, still unbroken and still captive to the soul of a young boy with a broken neck in search of salvation. I didn’t cry when we killed my wife. I didn’t cry when I smashed every window in that brown house with the red picket fence to send her soul to hell along with her fathers and let her mother find rest without them. But I cried when I broke the last pane of glass that divided fear from freedom.
I was a husband. I am a father. I have a daughter. We have a connection to each other. It is real. It beats. It is palpable. It cannot be shattered. It is more than just a reflection. We are more than just the reflection we see in the mirror, in the glass, in the cold corners where the shadows congregate. It is possible for us now to see beyond the pain.

 

All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly

SHORT STORIES OF FEAR; SLICED

 

A short poem of fear

A haunting is happening in this house that holds me,
a sinister spirit that lies in the shadows,
a feeling of fear is feeding on frenzy
as it ghoulishly groans and gasps from its gallows.

A breath is baying by this bed that now binds me
with its fetid foulness that flits by my face,
a mischievous menace that will not let me be,
I fear the already dead splitting time and space.

A demon is devising a death to destroy me,
his clutch a cold and callous caress,
while no face nor fingers nor form can I see
there’s dread in this dark I cannot suppress.

A sour scent stains the sheets where I slumber
reeking of rank and rotten revulsions,
it exhales a heinous, horrible, hunger
of demonic desires and cursed compulsions.

A miserable monster while mumbling madness
is slapping and sliding something sharp on my skin,
between life and death there’s not much to divide us;
but the grind to be good and the seduction of sin.

A haunting is happening in this house that holds me,
a sinister spirit groaning from its gallows,
a face is now forming and two eyes can I see
as I’m dragged into darkness to be sliced in the shadows.

 

All words and photographs by Dmien B Donnelly

SHORT STORIES OF FEAR; WATCHING YOU WATCHING ME

 

 The Dead one

I woke to a mouth already swallowing the claustrophobic earth that mounded itself over my naked torso like crumble over stewed apples waiting to be crisped but I couldn’t feel the warmth of an oven, even buried, as I was, so close to the sparks of hell but, instead of digging down to join the demons dancing in the darkness, I ate my way up and out, through the crunch of earth now meeting the acid of my stomach, past the worms that wanted to wind their wills within this festering flesh still clinging to the bones of a body the day had pushed deep down into the darkness, although nothing works alone; the night has a moon while the day bears that ball of fire which burns through all the possibilities the light can shine upon and so, too, my demise did not happen alone but had his cowardly character carved all over its bloody finality. Oh, how we come and covet and then cum and croak. My name was Benjamin Grant when air was my everything and I wanted to taste all the world had to offer, when I thought I had found it all in him and his horny little hunger I mistook for happiness. Well, now I have no more need for a name and taste only decay, destruction, and a desire only death knows how to discern. And that desire will see his downfall.

 

The Other One, Still Alive

He woke up under a twisted blanket of sharp shadows, startled by a staggered pull of starved lungs begging for air and felt, instantly, the restriction of cold hands upon him, as if trying to close the circumference of his neck, all the while knowing the owner of those hands was nowhere near, all the while knowing what had become of him, all the time reminding himself that that man no longer sought out any air to fill his lifeless lungs in a body that would be nothing more than rotting flesh for fowl figures to feast upon, deep below the daylight, far from sight. He sat there, sweating in the middle of the bed with a fat man snoring beside him and, he imagined with a grim, his Tesla igniting gossip in the gobs of the next door neighbours, a bed once their bed, now his bed, recalling how he had dug, with his own hands, this former lover’s final resting place, a place he hoped never offered any rest, deep in the forest where only savage swine sought shelter, where only callous crows came to caw. He recalled the spot where he covered the cadaver, the one he once so openly cavorted upon, in the coarse, comfortless earth while he cried with a jolt of joy on front of the sudden stillness, the smashing silence that seemed even louder than the muffled screams his boyfriend had made the moment he had pulled the plastic bag down over his head from behind while he had been waiting for him, as usual, just as he had done every morning, for the previous 7 years, by the breakfast counter, in the kitchen. But that morning he suffocated from lack of air and a gulp of coffee he never managed to fully taste.

 

The Dead one

You came into the bathroom, once our bathroom, once our choice of towels and tiles, once the place where I would take you in the shower, against the glass, my fingers in your mouth, my breath on the back of your neck and your body bending into mine. You came in and stood by the toilet, pissing, without lifting the seat, without lifting up the fucking seat. You were still half asleep, totally naked but half asleep. You wore that nakedness often on front of me as if it was something I could never again fit into. You were always standing, posing, looking for the right light to fall upon your flesh. I had thought you meant to tease but now I realise how you saw it more as a torture. You didn’t notice as I moved from behind the door, didn’t hear me step into position behind you, you didn’t even hear me as I sniffed your scent one last time. But there was nothing. I was dead, I didn’t breathe, didn’t sleep, didn’t fuck, didn’t piss, and I couldn’t even smell. You had taken all that from me, a month ago, on an ordinary morning that had barely found its light. You’d grown tired and wanted new attention, someone new to look at with admiration so you could look back and swoon at your own reflection in their eyes. Maybe that was why I chose to break one of the mirrors in the downstairs hallway, earlier, before I’d crept up the stairs and took my position. And then, there I was, standing behind you, not fucking you, not smelling you, no longer a lover of you, raising my right arm, bringing it up and out and around until the shard of glass I was holding caught my reflection just before it found the softness of your socket. Did you have a moment to catch the look in my eyes, watching you, in the glass, before it pierced its way through your eye?

 

To be continued…

 

All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly

SHORT STORIES OF FEAR; A MATTER OF MUD

 

A Short Story

The Americans and British were bent on finding Jim Morrison while the Irish and Japanese, for some reason, longed to add more kisses to the now ball-less Sphinx lingering over the long decayed body of Wilde, who probably watched down over their stupidity, proffered some wicked wit as their rouged up lips found a free side of the concrete to consecrate. Kissing a carcass is much like kissing an ass, you come away from both with a distinct desire to rinse your mouth immediately.

At one point, somewhere amid the ongoing battle of trees reclaiming the conquered landscape, I took a turn into the shadows and a darkness fell as if a cover had been placed over the sun like one drapes a cloth over the cage of a bird mid song and suddenly the silence is stifling. Darkness comes over you in the same way when unannounced. The weight of its dominance takes on a persona as its very essence runs its icy touch along your skin. Under its spell, and there was a spell upon me, I lost sense of direction, trapped strikingly between the desire to run towards life and the horrid reality that I was standing upon so much death. I didn’t believe in ghosts, not because I was sure they didn’t exist, but because I’d never allowed such superstition to cross my path. But there, in that twist of day and night, amid the moss-covered beds of those who’d long since reached out their hands to eternal rest, everything was open to suggestion.
I twisted and turned over directions in my mind, the routes I had taken that brought me there, literally and figuratively. I’d come for the fun, to find the forever flames of the famous, now fruit for roots and worms. I’d come also to escape the daily drab of life; the 9 to 5, rush hours, traffic jams, gossip, crowded metros and shoulder shrugs. I’d come to death to escape life and lost my way beneath its shadows. I’d wanted something different and found something terrifying instead, mortality. Under the silence of the surreal, I heard bones rotting, flesh festering, souls scratching, my heart beating and watch ticking, teasing me with every minute I’d wasted seeking diversions from the right roads, the real roads. The track trembled before me. Tombs lay broken and open, dark holes reaching into darker realms that only Dante had dared to dwell on in life and all that watched me were birds; black birds, sinister sentinels and not a single dove to drown out the darkness.
I felt my skin tighten around tensed muscles, my pulses pounding around veins starved for blood, as if my whole body feared its finality, foresaw what would one day become of it, here in this place of buried beds and eternal sleeps where the angels creep and mourners weep.
Suddenly I heard a child’s voice laughing and turned and ran towards its distant direction, but my feet heeded not my mind and my footing fell upon a broken branch of nature and the break of my ankle echoed through my frustration as I fell while nature itself looked and laughed at length. I fell upon a grave. I fell upon an open grave and lost sight of the cemetery. I lost sight of the trees fighting the concrete columns. I lost sight of the weeping Madonnas. I lost sight of the stone eyes angels and so, as I plunged down, deep down, I closed my eyes and waited to be swallowed by the bowels of the earth.

With a shock, I jumped up, in bed, at home. My bed, my home, not a grave, not the end, not Dante’s inferno. My breath could not find itself in the confusion, still stuck in the dream, that nightmare disguised as dream, down in the layers of hell. Eventually, in a sweat, I made it to the bathroom and turned on the tap to wash my face in cold water and drown myself back into the security of reality. I looked in the mirror; it was still me, still my refection, my face. I looked down to turn off the tap and noticed the dirty water running down the drain. Then I saw my hands; covered in muck, my body; covered in muck, my feet; covered in muck.
What in hell is going on, I asked myself? What was happening, had it all been real, had I actually been to the cemetery somewhere under the cover of night and nonsense? I looked back into the mirror at my reflection and it smiled back at me. My heart stopped. My skin tensed, just like in the dream. My reflection was smiling but I wasn’t.
I wasn’t anymore.

 

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

SHORT STORIES OF FEAR; THE BLIND ASSASSIN

 

A Short Horror Story.

I don’t remember what happened before, no clue as to who I was, what I was, but afterwards, everything that happened afterwards is a completely different story, because when you open your eyes after death, you discover a whole other way of living.

Tick tock, tick tock.

There is darkness mostly, she left me no eyes to escape the blindness but I can see when I want, when the need fills me. I see shape in sound and smell, these are my senses now, she left me those. Guilt, regret, remorse, those weaknesses have no part in what I’ve become. I’m no longer accountable to the standards Men hold as law. I am beyond law and now, as I’m technically dead, I’m beyond Man.

Tick tock, tick tock.

“I remade you, better than before. You were a drunk, a drug addict with no direction. No one gave a shit for you. You would’ve died one day, I just gave that day a name. You should be grateful, I’ve given you something greater than life; indestructible, eternal death among the living,” she declared that day, the first day of my everlasting existence, as I realised the horror of what she‘d done. I wasn’t human anymore, this was true. I would be unbeatable, also true. But she hadn’t given me eternal death, it was eternal damnation. I recognised her voice from somewhere before death, a sound bite on TV, a ranting about experimentation, radiation, creation; bringing heaven to earth. “I’ll build a world that will never need creation again, all will be eternal,” she’d bragged. I remember that. I’ll always remember that. She won’t, not anymore.

Tick tock, tick tock.
When I first awoke, to her recreation, I felt no pain at all, that came later, when I came to
understand what she’d made of me. She was my Frankenstein; she’d remoulded me from her miscreant mind. “Without sight you’ll see much better,” she whispered to my naked form, strapped to a gurney, as forceps wrenched my eyes from their sockets. “The tongue just teases you with taste,” she insisted, “this’ll teach you to taste from within,” and she snipped the tongue from my mouth with a blade, severing it from service with a single slice. Afterwards, she stitched it to the back of my neck, to remind me of all that was now behind me.

I was not a body of blood anymore, my veins had been drained, dried out like taunt twine that tore through my flesh from the inside out. My innards had been expunged, discarded, floor fodder for vermin to devour and they did, nightly, as I lay there, a monster metamorphosing. In my chest, empty of all organs except my heart, a machine of amorality maintained me, pumping a self-sustainable liquid through the little that remained of me; limbs that had been ravaged, a hand severed and replaced with a scythe, legs hacked at the knees, mounted on metal spikes while my manhood was slit, sliced and stuffed with the slivering tongue of a serpent, still hissing. I was a despicable demon, an envoy of evil, a punishment for a world that had dismissed her dreams of total autonomy as nothing more than an inhuman, unjustifiable, godless existence. I was her retribution. She believed I’d bring them all down for her but she misjudged who was master. A monster knows no master. A monster needs no master. Monster is master.

Tick tock, tick tock.

Monster let her believe she had control while she trained me, taught me to walk, to hunt, to appreciate the divinity of my own damnation. Monster appeared grateful to his creator and her darkness, monster acted thankful to his creator and her inventiveness until one day when monster stabbed his spikes into his creator’s feet as she leaned against the wall, smiling at the completion of her own genius. Monster smiled as his scythe slit her from nipple to neck and his one remaining hand reached inside her and disgorged the heart from her blood bathed body before her face even had time to register fear. Monster left her there, in her darkness, in that heartless body, further fodder for the vermin who’d already begun to sniff her out.

That was 4 years ago. I can finally admit I’m grateful to her. I’ve lived more in death than I ever could in life. I don’t need food or drink, don’t shit or sleep. I exist as if every day were the first, do you understand? Can you understand me now, now that I’m standing behind you, so close that your skin prickles with fear as I sliver my scythe around your neck?

You came looking for me, didn’t you? Foolishly searching the shadows for the monster you thought was myth. Well, now you’re truly the fool because this monster is no myth, nor a white knight. I am the Blind Assassin, devoid of compassion. She removed that from me when she raided my body of blood and being. Do you hear the ticking clock? Tick tock, tick tock. It’s inside me. It goes where I go. It counts down humanity while I continue on, slaying it. I feel nothing for you people anymore, nothing. And in a moment, you’ll feel nothing too.

And he was right. In an instant blood spewed from the gash in the human’s neck and splattered onto the glasses that covered Monster’s eyeless sockets and down onto his tongue-less, grinning mouth as the clock continued counting.

Tick tock, tick tock.

He’d killed his creator but he couldn’t extinguish the desire for revenge that she’d transplanted into his useless, still beating, eternally damned heart.

 

All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly

SHORT STORIES OF FEAR; STILL ACHING

 

A Short story of Horror

I’d been back a month, the city of light they called it, Paris and all its lovers, everyone hand in hand, lips locked like they were lynching the breath from each other and there I was, alone. It had become my city of shadows; dark, devious and doomed.
Why did I come back here, of all places, the one city that had ripped us apart, literally? It had found us, cracked us open and drained the beat of life that bound us, blood seeping onto sidewalks, terrorising terraces, drowning the river in crimson currents, from your veins to its bed.
I was back in our home, on our balcony, waiting, wondering if I’d catch sight of you. I lost nights chain smoking, drinking, hurting all over again. Everything inside still aching from that night, even the dust felt your absence and clung to your chair, your brushes, your side of the bed, your box of sharp, sadistic tricks.

It was the end of October when it happened, when the shadows gradually began to find their shape in the darker tones of the season. Breath hung in the crisp air when you exhaled, like an entity all of its own. It was almost midnight on that most hallowed of all eves, I was wearing your scarf, wrapped tightly around my neck. I had the feeling it was your hands wrapped around me, almost to the point of choking me, when I saw the shadow approaching. An icy shiver cut through my veins like I’d swallowed blades, large and hole. I froze to the spot. I recognised the shadow as it came closer and, as the form found its shape, I knew it to be true. I held my breath as it came to the gate, flipped the latch and entered the garden of dying flowers beneath the spell of the moon. The door downstairs groaned opened, followed by footsteps creaking their way up along those old steps, the ones you always demanded me to fix, I wish that had been your only demand. Keys rattled next in the hallway until one twisted in the slot of my door, which used to be our door. The lock clicked just as I stepped in from the balcony. My pulse was beating so hard it felt like the veins of my body were being strangled.
The form stepped into the dimly lit room and I recognised the scent immediately as tears burnt down my face. I opened my mouth to scream but your hand caressed my cheek, wiped my tears before you put your lips against mine and I was captive once again in your dangerous embrace, after so many years of being without, being lost, being broken, regretting it all. I thought I was dead. I didn’t think I could move until you whispered to me to hold you and, without knowing it, without controlling them, my arms wrapped themselves around you and held us together so tightly that I thought we’d break.
This is death, I told myself, I exist now among the dead and yet I could smell you, feel you; your cold lips, that putrid perfume I’d always hated and your body bolt against mine.
I didn’t know how it could be, how you were standing in front of me, touching me, your tongue piercing its way into my mouth. And then the doorbell rang and shook the silence of the entire moment, the entire building and maybe even the entire world that had flipped on its axis in a matter of moments, in the encounter of a kiss, a kiss from death itself.
“Those kids,” I said, as if everything was normal, unsure of what else to say, “it’s
Halloween… you always hated when they found their way into the building, begging for candy.”

You turned and somehow you were instantly out of my grip, standing by the door, turning the handle, but I hadn’t seen you move. You stood in silence regarding the children outside, dressed as ghouls, monsters and one peculiar child hidden from head to toe in a princess costume, perfectly in character except for the gaping wound on her neck. She held a knife in her tiny hand, as real and as sharp as a butcher’s pride and joy.
“You shouldn’t be playing with this, my sweet, you’ll get blood all over your costume,” you said to her before you took the knife from her tiny fingers and instantly you were back again, standing before me, looking right inside me.
The children were still standing in the doorway as you raised the blade, cutting through the thin breath of air that separated us, as if that was all that separated us.
“I don’t understand,” I said to you, knowing time had deserted me, realising I’d wasted my freedom, watching the shadows, terrified of what would one day arise from them, “you were dead,” I said, “I saw you bleed out on front of me.”
“I know, my love and I still am. The dead don’t come back to life, not after their lover has killed them, they just come back for what they left behind,” she said as she slashed the blade across my neck, just below her scarf and the warm blood gushed from the inside out. She grabbed me and pulled me close to her as the life drained from my body, bringing her lips down on my neck and savagely sucking what was left from my veins.
“You killed me because you discovered my desire for slicing up life, so I’ve returned to show you that very desire, first-hand,” she whispered to my fading life-force.
“Happy Halloween,” were the last words I heard her utter as I dropped to the floor while she took the hands of the children who watched from the shadow of the doorway and lead them off with a vengefully demonic laugh.

   

All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly

This short story was published as a tale in the ‘Body Horror Anthology’ from Gehenna and Hinnom Books.

SHORT STORIES OF FEAR; THE STILLNESS IN THE BARN

 

A short tale of fancy and fear.

And so he waved back, and, as if brushing back the years, he remembered when they cycled through the lanes together, well, not exactly together, but in their group; he was there and she was there, though, in truth, it was not this particular woman, the woman who had waved to him as the train passed but the tracks and the wave lead him back there somehow, that time when he watched a girl’s hair in front of him as it caught the breeze and the sunlight above them as wisps of leaves leaned from trees overhead as if to touch her and he remembered how much it hurt. How much he resented nature in that moment, on that perfectly ordinary day in the countryside when everything, it seemed, reached out to touch her but him while he peddled to keep up with her scent, with her hair, with her hands that caressed the handlebars, with all that had always alluded him at such a young age. And he wondered, as he cycled, if she knew how he fantasised about her every move?

Falling back to reality, the train upon which he sat in the crowded carriage continued along its tracks, and the crowds continued their innocuous chatter of babies and breakfasts and lunch dates and reunions and mass projections and program malfunctions, and she, a stranger who’d stopped to watch a train pass and wave at him, momentarily, inexplicably, strapped herself, in his mind, to a memory of another, long since lost, before she continued onwards and away on her bicycle, fading in the fields, now but a tiny glimmer of blonde waves brushing above the bushes of blood red berries.

And he recalled that day, after that dance where she had smiled at him across the floor, across the crowded floor of feet shuffling, of socks showing and leather straps cutting into ankles, of teenagers attempting to be attractive, alluring, aloof and yet she had smiled at him or had he smiled at her, was that the truth and the reason she blanked him the following day as if nothing had ever really happened? Which it hadn’t, of course, except in the meandering mind of the boy who wished and waited and met with nothing more than disappointment which grew into embarrassment before it slipped into anger which lingered for a while, just below the fist, until that other extra ordinary day, three months later, beneath the stillness of the barn, when the world stopped rushing past him and he finally realised what it felt like to hold her in his arms, to catch her scent, like butter and pine, in his nostrils, to have her hair against his cheek and feel her blood on his body.

And as the train pulled into the station that had once been his station, he counted 20 years that had past since that day of death, discovery and detainment. A childhood imprisoned by ferocious feelings and a life imprisoned behind unbreakable bars.

 

All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly

SHORT STORIES OF FEAR; THE MONSTER IN THE MAN

 

Was he not tied
and turned on the tide,
was there not light 
and dark by his side,
though the morning’s sun
rose as his bride
twas the black of the moon
at night that found stride.

Was he not washed
and worn on the waves,
was he not cracked
like the sea cuts the caves,
in the morning did he count
the slaughter, the saves,
was he ashamed of how many
he’d laid in their graves?

Was he not just a reed
washed over the sand,
was he not just a vessel
on an ocean unmanned,
controlled in the day
where blood was banned
but unbound in the night
the beast took his hand.

Was he not just a man
who’d from day lost sight?
Was there not to be compassion
for the monster in the night?
But the hunger he managed
to contain before the light
was too much in the darkness
to put up a fight.

The best of a man,
a wolf of a beast
but never the two
could ever find peace,
Helios held famine,
Selene supplied the feast
but not a single God
could offer a release.

A savage surrender
into the sea was swept,
the hair of the hound,
the soul that now wept,
a man and the monster
drowned in the depth
and in their beds, his children,
safely then slept.

And was he not tied
and turned on the tides
like the rise and fall
of a twist that divides
as the nature of man
and monster collides
but when the darkness descends

the light

it subsides.

 

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

HUNGER, A SHORT TALE OF HORROR

 

The Man.

The morning was a challenge from the offset. One of those days when I should’ve stayed in bed; the milk had curdled in the crippled cardboard carton so my coffee was black and bitter before I accidentally downed half of it over the front of the shirt I’d spent too long pressing into creases; irons are not for early morning idiots. All the other office shirts were in the basket or, more honestly, on the bathroom floor by the basket; the comforts of no longer being caught up in cohabitation; you can’t be a cantankerous cunt anymore about this chaos Carol! So, as I ditched the idea of looking pressed and presentable and pulled on a pair of chinos, I came face to face, or skull to skull, with my reflection between the bathroom mirror and the other one on the door behind me. Horrifically, after 40 years of being covered in thick brown hair, there was my scalp looking at me through a miserable thin tuft on the back of my skull. That was all I needed; age creeping up on me from behind; fucking hell, just as I was getting back out there again I realized there was less of me to market.

Suddenly, crippled by a follicle challenge, I grabbed a baseball cap! And I’d thought I was carefree and vain-less all this time. Now I understood that carefree and vain-less were cords barely tethered to youth like umbilical cords before the suckers are snipped. Fuck. Something else to worry about. Shaved head or Rogaine? Shaving was surely the cheaper and possibly the more honest option I thought as I pulled the door shut and remembered my bag was still sitting on the counter in the kitchen. When I finally stepped onto the train I remembered I’d left the cap in the bathroom after I’d gone back for the bag only to grow distracted by further investigation of the hairless head, losing another 20 minutes while the cap disintegrated into insignificance as hairs were counted and carefully weaved into something looking like a first attempt nest made by a blind bird who couldn’t give a toss! Fortunately, I wasn’t the only follically challenged 40 something on the carriage, although the rest looked sharper in their tailored suits while I looked like I was trying to reattach that cord to youth. How sweet birds fly by so quickly! Should adults really be allowed to poke fun at themselves in the spirit of Causal Friday’s, I wondered as I looked at my watch and realized it was already well past 10am and I still had another hour of commuting to go? Casual was coming no matter what! No, this was not the best start to a Friday morning, or to any morning. And then, suddenly, there she was, that woman. Fuck!

The Woman.

No one seemed to notice me. Not one single person looked up or over at my less than concealed condition. You could be naked on the underground and the so-called best of British would simply turn back to their digital Daily Mail as if nothing was wrong. But it was wrong. I wasn’t naked but I was a disturbing sight, to say the least. I couldn’t even tell you what I was wearing. I’d grabbed whatever was nearest to my trembling hand and had fled the scene. I was still shaking as I emptied my bag over the turnstile to find my Oyster card. I was still trembling as I boarded the escalator, descending into more and more chaos, as if hell was waiting for me below or was it back there, where I’d run from or was it truly inside me and running was pointless? I slid down by the white defaced walls and past the pressing faces of pressured commuters desperate to make connections in a world that was falling apart. Starry tuned singers caught open mouthed and c-list celebrities tuning up talentless vocal cords glared at me from posters postulating the latest 90’s band of one-hit-wonders to get their Westend debut before they fell thankfully back into obscurity just before the press defecated all over them and their despicable hunger. Their desperate gaze seemed to say more about me than I wanted. I shivered when the train pulled up along the packed platform, feeling more alone than I’d ever felt in my life. Crowds can be the coldest of cages for those of us who know what it is to be an animal.

When the doors shut they seemed to seal out all the air and my lungs gasped at the nothingness and that’s when it broke.

That’s when I broke and the tears burst from my eyes like hot springs through the dessert sand but there was no relief with the onslaught, only a feeling of more and more of less and less. Life had come to a standstill as the wheels turned along tracks that could lead me nowhere. Moving in motions of motionless, soiling every minute, every track in burning tears. Was this what it meant to be on the run? Was this what escape felt like? All your energy fixed on getting somewhere other than where you were while all other forces grounded you in where you’d come from. Moving is just geography, only psychology knows why the mind holds us forever locked onto the moment that broke us.

As we exited a tunnel, light smashed its way through the windows and I thought my skin would literally burn from its intensity. I thought everyone would cower in front of my overly exposed lack of composure. I thought they would. But this was Britain, London to be exact and the underground going overground to be precise. No one reacted to anything on this tiny tube. There was no room on crowded trains for expressions of fear or concern. Stiff upper lips sealed us shut in silence. Resilience rendered us immune to public displays of emotion. And then I saw him. Dark hair, disheveled, distracted by something he seemed to have forgotten, like that immunity I mentioned, but he was looking at me, right at me, there in the burning light of the moving train that wasn’t taking me anywhere and yet he stopped to see me. He actually stopped looking for what he was missing and saw me. Me. And then he came towards me while he rummaged in his trouser pocket for something.

The Man.

Four hours we spent together as the causal morning fell into late afternoon, not at my desk, not in my office, not

under the watchful eye of my boss who spent more time creating nothing than making something, but on a terrace, sitting still as the city raced past us, under pressure to proceed, to perfect, to preform. But somehow, sitting there in the midst of the growing sunlight as spring stretched into summer with a complete stranger, I felt no pressure at all. How was that fucking possible, I asked myself? With Carol and all her concerns and insistances on commitments, that six year sentence with Carol in Colchester (now served and severed), all I’d felt was pressure. They say you need to peal back the layers slowly to get to know someone but Carol took that literally and every day I felt her pulling more and more skin from my already tingling and taunt flesh. Carol, the pressure cooker whose thermostat was permanent broken. Not even sex released a degree or two. Even there she was vocal on where, when and how. For the one thing that actually required heat, she certainly had a way of cooling things down. But here, on a casually passing Friday, on a green wrought iron seat with one leg worn down to a wobble, under a lilac tree that was making someone at the table behind me sneeze, I sat in a relative state of tranquility with a woman who I’d offered a tissue to as the train tore obliviously along its tracks and somehow, in her acceptance of that flimsy piece of pliable paper to mend the pain, we ended up losing a Friday together, telling each other things that didn’t matter, truths that I hadn’t even told friends and yet nothing really of any importance, if that makes sense. We were just two strangers floating through random thoughts, two people sitting still in the middle of a city that couldn’t stop moving.

The Woman.

Jason used to bring me to places I’d never considered of interest, used to, used to introduce me to things I never thought would (things I already knew wouldn’t) be ‘my cup of tea’ as my grandmother was supposed to say, but, in truth, she would say things like ‘what would I be doing in a place like that’ or ‘I’d rather slit my wrists.’ She wasn’t as cultured, so to speak, as my grandfather. That being one of the many reasons my grandfather’s family rapidly rationed their allowances after he refused to marry someone whose parents had a similar knowledge of bulging bank balances and connections considered correct. My grandmother brought him down to earth with a crash and a discovery of hard graft along with a greatly reduced waistline which in turn increased his healthline. My grandmother didn’t give a damn about social status or what the correct skirt length was at the time. Dad once referred to her as the ‘tramp in trousers’- and that was his mother. My grandfather was a good man, tasty, from the little I remember of him and from the tales my father used to tell me, but there were underlying tones that tarnished Dad’s pride in this own father. A regret and an anger, in part, that life could have been easier had other choices been made. A resentment that, as a working man, he had to climb from the bottom up as opposed to taking over prized positions at the top as our cousins did due to the decisions their parents once made based on what could have been called provisions for the future. My grandfather rejected those considerations in order to accept the woman he loved, to embrace her passion for life and truth and utterly unmasked honesty, decked out in trousers or not.

Honesty, I thought to myself, while I gave a stranger a brief outline of my family’s history, at least my fathers family history, in part because I didn’t want to tell him about myself directly, or go into my mother’s less explainable lineage. Perhaps I was trying to tell him the reason behind why he found me standing in a crowded underground flooded with tears, me that is, not the train itself. Perhaps I was trying to cover up all that had happened and hoped that my grandfather’s decisions to go against the wishes of his betters would excuse my morning. Perhaps. Perhaps I just needed to be masked in something other than the remains of the fresh blood I had just showered off my still tingling skin. Perhaps, unlike the tramp in trousers, I needed a mask to seek refuge beneath. Perhaps I took similar refuge behind the tears. It brought me an offer of a tissue after all, and this seat in the sunshine with the briefest of breezes blowing away certain things I don’t want to think about right now. Not here, not in front of him. I should ask him his name at some point, before it’s too late. Although I knew Jason’s name and that made no difference and mother knew my father’s name for more than 30 years and yet that also made no difference in the end, when her true taste took over. Then again, I never knew my grandfather’s real name either. Tasty though he was.

The Man.

We somehow made it all the way back to mine, having avoided the office or any work entirely, about 5pm. I remember thinking it was funny to see the front of the brown bricked house with its aging trunk of the wisteria, now past it’s bloom, still caught in the final caress of daylight. My office hours tended towards late in the night and weekends were either indoors, in cinemas or in pubs forgetting what outside light was like in place of pints to make minds feel lighter. She had somehow followed me home, not followed exactly, I had wanted her to come with me, in fact I was growing ravenous to have her; a hunger I had never felt before, but I don’t think we’d really discussed what to do or where to go. Home seemed to offer a little more privacy for the girl who’d first appeared not that many hours earlier in a torrent of tears. She hadn’t told me what it was all about yet. I guessed a break up and not her choice, if I was being totally honest, while a part of me hoped she was already looking for the rebound. If I’m not being clear, let me take the opportunity now, I had no objection to being her rebound. Or rather, that afternoon, with that shaft of light splitting the window of my lonely apartment, I had no objection to anything!

The Woman.

I felt him stir in the bed beside me, a stranger in a stranger’s room in a city that no longer moved for me or at least a city that I had just moved away from, mentally, if not yet geographically. But it would happen soon, it had before. I till my father died, (can i say died?) we had never moved but his death brought about a change in our lives, his death was a necessity to ensure our survival.

It was now 24 hours since I had severed the cord to my ties here in this city of constant commuters, constantly commuting. But there was no commotion, no chaos, no consequences, I had severed cords before.

Eventually, the man next to me got up and made breakfast. I took a shower silently and let the warm water wash away the last vestiages of the woman I had turned myself into over the past 5 years. The London girl I had become when I thought I had no choice but to escape my past, my

Mother, our bloodline. Back then I had no idea that I had absolutely no choice in the matter. Running was a waste of time. Hunger only increases after a race!

When I wandered out into the kitchen with a towel wrapped around my waist and my breasts bare, I had no thought other than to let him fuck me again. It had been wild the night before, the evening before, the afternoon before. We had been wreakless strangers taking sustenance from a situation neither of us understood or even questioned. And then I noticed the blood on the counter.

Fresh blood, lying, longing, beckoning me towards it and again I was consumed by a hunger that had nothing to do with the human I thought I was and everything regarding the monster I had once tried to hide. The cannibal that Jason had met briefly yesterday morning in the bathroom, after his shower, after he’d shaved, after he’d cut his neck so deeply that the blood flowed down his naked chest like a raging river and when he called me to help him, all I could do was give in to the hunger that had laid dormant for so long. My

fingers found their way to his flesh, to the cut he thought I was trying to close until he felt my lips lean in to the liquid and I began to devour the red river running.

Afterwards, I closed his still open eyes that no longer held the possibility of vision before I found favor with the flavor that lay within the taste of his face.

Back in the kitchen, the man was holding up his right arm with a knife cut in his finger and leaning with his left towards the tap as the morning light stole across the crisp white washed wooden floors. There will be stains, I thought immediately as I came closer to the prey, already wounded, already distracted by the loss of blood. Humans are easier to devour when distracted, are so much tastier when fear twists through their viens.

I turned him around and took his hand in mine, bringing it up to my beating breast as I squeezed his hand tighter and the blood shoot across my bare breasts. It was more than excitement, it was deeper than sex, it was the all I needed, all I tired once to hide and now the only thing I knew I had to become. He was already on the floor before I broke through the first bone with my teeth. The floors were stained, just like I thought.

He’d seen me on the train yesterday morning. He’d smelt it, I’d smelt it; a hunger rising between us. He’d fed on me all night and his desire had been abated. As I walked down the stairs, away from his apartment, I knew my hunger was only beginning and, like my mother still running wild through a city far away like wolves roam the wilderness, mine would never be abated.

All words by Damien B. Donnelly