Every day, the sky is a cauldron churning with hellās wrath.
Every night, the stars watch my back like a constellation of vengeful eyes.
A voice hisses through the trees. āTurn around.ā
The ligneous limbs reach for me.
āTurn around.ā The voice mimics my wifeās.
I gaze ahead, not knowing who or whatās behind meā¦
āTurn around, daddy.ā
Iāve forgotten what she looked likeā¦ why we were so ashamed of herā¦ why we felt the need to bury her ugliness in these woods.
Iāve been walking for a long time.
Maybe itās time to turn aroundā¦
I was a rotting fruitā¦ fattening fliesā¦ waiting to be harvested by death.
I stared at the mirror as the maggots of old age consumed me. Skin, sinew, skeleton, soulā¦
Then the peddler came, with his potion and persuasive tongue.
It seemed like a fair price at the time.
After all, what need have I for toesā¦
Or posterior teethā¦
Theyāre easily concealed.
Three wealthy husbands later, he returned.
āFear not, Madame,ā he chitchatted as he severed my leg. āLong skirts are fashionable these days.ā
I opened my mouth to screamā¦ and silence exploded within the tongueless cavity.
Whisper your troubles to the Baobab.
The tree can keep secrets, her mother had said before she died.
Putain de sorciĆØre. The other kids teased her mercilessly. They said her mother was a witch and a whore.
They threw stones at Fleurette and she would cry.
Sheād carve a hollow in that tree, share her secret and cover it with mud.
The tree was her only friendā¦ the keeper of her skeletons.
As the wood does not produce growth rings, radiocarbon dating today revealed it to be thousands of years old.
The human bones inside, at least a hundred years.
My earliest memory was that of my father disappearing into the silver fog.
I cried out his nameā¦ first word I ever spokeā¦ but he just kept walking.
Then his replacement came.
A silent semi-manā¦
Heād lock the doors and motherās screams would splinter the airā¦They were of unexplainable pleasureā¦ and pain.
āHithh thill your fatherā¦ā mother said as her teeth clattered onto the floor.
That was history.
Then the mist called meā¦
When I return, I hope my wife would remember what I told her.
To aim straight for the headā¦ and to never look into my eyes...
The ships burned cigarette holes into the blanket of blue satin sky.
The people gazed skyward, displaying digits tattooed into their hyper-extended necks.
The numbers meant that theyāve been chosen, that theyāve killed to earn their limited tickets to salvation.
Theyāve trimmed the population down to half for the chance to dwell in the new world created by superior species.
The chosenās bodies lifted into the air. The earth spun like a giant baggage carousel.
In every corner, screams pierced the air in innumerable shades of intensity, as each extraterrestrial immigrant scanned the digits and claimed their designated flesh suits.
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He rarely left that desk.
For years, he ensorcelled the public with haunting stories spawned from his imagination yet refused to bask in the brilliance of his fame.
Some dismissed it as cheap tactic, speculating that there was no single mysterious author but a group of ghost writers.
Fans camped outside his fortress. The media met only with agents of glib tongues and swollen pockets.
They said he answered to disembodied whispers.
His last words were jumbled letters carved into the ancient desk, engraved into emaciated fleshā¦
Indecipherable, except for the words: āFree usā penned shakily in sick, diluted blood.
Maura was four when she said the darndest thing.
āYouāre so much nicer than my old mommy. She tried to eat me.ā
She was my baby. Years of trying and finally, god gave her to me.
It got worse when she refused to go to school, crying, kicking and screaming āI donāt want you to die!ā
One day, we were buying groceries. The ground trembled and saltwater seeped in from every corner ātil it hid my knees.
Maura looked at me sadly, āItās alright, mommy.ā
I watched, cold, immobilized, as she shed her skin and let the waves take her.
Curdled clouds cameā¦ hovering, descendingā¦
ingesting everything in their way.
The world was painted in black, white and gray.
I opened my mouth and out poured a soundless scream
as if we existed in a silent film.
Then people started floatingā¦
Their bodies bloating,
Fat limbs flailing,
Dancing in an eerie pantomimeā¦
Intent on leaving me behind.
I cried after the corpse balloons as they flew towards the ashen sky,
gazing down at me with pupilless eyes.
Their decaying mouths opened and closed in an inaudible song.
Then I remembered my last birthday wishā¦
For everyone to leave me alone.