My Scarred Guardian Angel

Reader Submission: The Trench Coat Man

I have a guardian angel. Although, he’s not exactly divine. He stalks the streets with a charcoal leather trench coat. His long black hair blows behind him with the breeze. The left side of his face hides in the blackness of the void, and a wide-brimmed hat shadows the right side.

He calls upon the darkness and dashes away light with a simple thought. The demons tremble at his name. He can dissolve into obscurity, become a glimmer of the moon. His sense of right and wrong holds blurred lines. But you’ll never hear him lie. He values truth almost as much as he values me.

I am his creator, you see. His heart and his soul. His saving grace. He follows me everywhere, keeps me safe from the evils of this world. For he is evil incarnate. He’s my living shadow, the watcher of my back, my guardian angel.

He’s quick to patience and even quicker to wrath. And when he slides his precious length of chain from around his shoulders, every being knows to flee, lest they become the next victim to the spear head at the end. His true love is pain, and he’s an expert at causing it.

But he never hurts me. Why would he? He’s my protector, after all. I can live my life with confidence.

He has a smile the Devil himself fears.

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Mind Captive

She opened her eyes, everything around her a blur. It took abnormally long for her vision to adjust. Where was she? She looked behind her. Rolling her neck, she tried moving her arms, but she was restrained by over-sized chains. She snapped her head to rest of her viewing area.

It was a desolate place. One of sorrow, regret, despair. A place filled with nothing but black rock glimmering with an unknown liquid. A place she knew all too well.

Her gaze focused on the thick fog rolling toward her. She steeled herself. Broadened her stance as much as the bindings allowed. Making them dig into her skin.

The black smoke swirled and lurched until it revealed a beautifully dark image. Ebony hair, bright red lips, and deeply crimson eyes. A devilish smile became the Other. “Hello.”

She snarled at the Other, but she knew she was trapped.

The Other’s haunting voice echoed through the barren landscape blanketed with smoke. “How do you fare? It’s been quite some time since we spoke last.”

“Why do you care?”

“Because, despite your defiance, you are still mine.” The Other approached. Dragged a black talon under her jaw line and chin. “I do care about my property.”

Her nostrils flared as she sought to keep her emotions in check. “I know you don’t care.”

The Other released a low chuckle. “It’s funny, isn’t it? I can’t affect you physically, but I can affect you mentally. And I don’t even bother you that much. Only when you sleep. Do they know?” The Other caressed her face with back of their fingers. “Have you ran to tell on me? Hmm?”

She curled her lips in disgust, but her heart became heavy with truth. “No. I haven’t told anyone.”

“Oh, that’s too bad. Wouldn’t want to worry the perfect people, would we? But I have a new assignment for you.”

“I refuse to push away any more people. I’m not destroying any more lives. Especially not for you.”

The Other patted her cheek. “You will. You most absolutely will. Even if it takes time. I have all the time in the world. I’ll have fun watching you on the flip side.” The Other brought both arms forward, enveloping her in agonizing black fog.

She plunged into a void of darkness and pain. The echoes of the Other’s laughter drowning out her screams. Falling, she finally slammed against an ebony wall of red eyes and grinning mouths.

 

Crooked (Flash Fiction)

I had always been told that the Devil smiles with a crooked grin. It seemed to be more of a warning than a statement. But I usually passed it on as some superstitious mumbo-jumbo. If the Devil would ever appear to me, I was certain I didn’t need to identify him by a grin. I mean, the Devil does have his generic, assumed looks. A grin wouldn’t be the only thing that would make him known.

But the Devil didn’t reveal himself to me with his presumed appearance. He didn’t have red skin. Nor did he have horns or a spaded tail. He didn’t even have a pitchfork. No, he made himself known as a well-dressed man sporting a sharp suit, striped tie. And…a smile made of a crooked grin.

He came to me not too long after I found out my grandmother had been diagnosed with an incurable disease. I prayed to any and every being that she would be spared. That a miracle would happen. My grandmother and I had forever been close. She raised me, after all. On that fateful night, I was devastated, vulnerable. Walking down the dark and dreary streets to our apartment.

It was then that the Devil approached. Pushed himself off the wall of a building. Flashing that infamous grin I had been forewarned about. But I was too lost in my sorrows to notice. “It’s a rather nice night, isn’t it?” he asked with a suave tone.

I immediately stoned my expression. Being a blonde, I was used to such encounters. Especially when the sun went down. “I’m not selling my body. I have more respect for myself than that. Buzz off before I call the cops.”

“I don’t want your body, Amy.” He stepped forward. I could’ve sworn I saw smoke dance in his dark eyes. “I want your soul.”

My lips curled in disgust. “I mean it, creep. Get back.” Then I blanked. “How do you know my name?”

He chuckled in a manner I did not care for. “Oh, I know all about you. Your father was never a presence in your life. Your mother died while you were a baby. Now, your grandmother lies in a hospital bed, terminally ill. And you’ve cried out numerous times that you will do anything to save her.” His tongue ran over teeth that suddenly seemed to be turned to points. “Will you? Will you really do anything to save her?”

I took a couple steps back. My unease about this man ever increasing. There was something about him that was not right, and I had a feeling it was something more than him just being a creep. “Wha-what do you want?”

“I’ve already told you. Your soul. Yours for hers. You’ll still get to live with her, of course. But, when you die, your soul is mine. Which shouldn’t be that big of a deal, anyway. I’ve heard a lot of you mortals claim your souls don’t go anywhere once you die. So what’s the risk, huh?”

“You–” I cut myself off, rubbing my eyes with the heels of my palms. This man was a lunatic, thinking he could collect people’s souls. It wasn’t like humans had supernatural powers or anything. I almost flipped out when he stepped even closer. Eyes widening, I waved my arms in a spiral motion in attempt to seem as crazy as him. “You know what, fine. If that’s what it takes for you to leave me in peace, fine. Yes, I agree to your stupid soul thing. Now get the heck away from me.”

But he didn’t leave. Nope. Instead, he smiled with that crooked grin. Approached me even closer. Both of his whole eyes swirled to black, and he transformed into a thick cloud of black fog. Which then swallowed me whole.

The Abandoned Light

Abandoned stairs

The sky turned a gray he had never seen before, causing the forest to dim; something inside him whispered to find shelter. His eyes scanned the moss-covered trees. He paused. Fully turned in all directions.

He didn’t know this part of the woods.

An over-grown trail led west. He almost missed it, it hadn’t been used in so long. Moving branches and foliage out of his way, he traversed in silence. In fact, this whole region of the forest was quiet. Not a single animal or insect sounded their respective calls.

He stopped. A set of stone stairs lay before him, leading to a black doorway. His heart raced. Causing him to breathe in quicker. Moist earth permeated his nostrils. Putrid algae and decaying trees followed. Then…ash.

Studying the sky once more, he looked back at the door-less entry to a stone building forgotten in time. Left to the clutches of nature. So much so, he hadn’t noticed the rest of the structure at first. And as much as common sense screamed no, something pulled him inside.

His right foot mounted the first step. Dust, leaves, and ash being stirred in who knew how long. He wasn’t positive the staircase wouldn’t crumble beneath his weight. But he had to know what was inside.

He stepped on the second stair.  Then the third, the fourth. Careful to avoid the jagged stone that somehow survived years of the tender care of the elements. Fifth, sixth, seventh. The toe of his hiking boot caught a thick root, sending him down onto the final two steps.

On hands and knees, he lifted his head. The darkness of the doorway was much closer now. He swallowed. Why did he feel so compelled to enter this dilapidated place? Yes, he sought shelter from what he assumed was a storm, but certainly, there was a better place than this.

However, he pushed himself off the wet stone. Wiped his bloody palms on his shorts. Mounted the eighth step. Then the ninth. Finally stood on the landing taken over by fungi and ivy. He still couldn’t determine the building, but he assumed it was an old home. Built so someone could find solace among the silent trees.

One deep breath prepared him to cross the threshold. Two paces, and he was enveloped by the inky blackness. It took three seconds for his eyes to adjust. And in the distance, he saw a light. Light that must’ve streamed through a gaped hole in the ceiling.

He held his breath. Slowly placed one foot in front of the other. The wooden floors creaked and moaned, clearly unhappy about being disturbed. He prayed there were no missing boards.

A wet, acidic stench clogged his throat.

The ray of light was within reach, and he paused. Thick particles floated in the air. What had he been breathing in? The ancient debris of this abandoned home? It seemed like something more. He coughed and choked, stepping into the light to see if he hawked anything up.

A surge pulsed from the stream of light.

This part of the forest returning to its undisturbed state.

The light had claimed another victim.

And added more ash to its home.

Fear Factory

I never paid attention to that old building as I rode my sport bike to work at the general store every day. It was on the other side of the tracks, so what would you expect? It was beyond old and forgotten. There weren’t any signs attached to it. No special colors to grab your attention.

But one closing night changed all that.

Conveniently, it was Halloween. And, of course, a full moon lit up our small town with an eerie, silver light. I had just finished sweeping when the familiar ring of the bell that hung on the door echoed through the empty mart. Lifting my head, I saw them. The five guys who paraded themselves around as the town’s gang.

The leader—aka “Swag”—peacocked up to me. “It’s Halloween.”

My grip tightened on the broom handle, ready to convert it to a staff weapon. “If you want free candy, you’ll have to go somewhere else.”

“We decided you’re going to be our sucker this year.”

“Like I’m going to let you dare me into one of your stupid stunts.”

Three of the other four laughed. Swag leaned against the end of an aisle. “We dare you to go to the Factory.” His posse silenced.

I had heard the rumors. The stories. Supposedly, the Factory was what caused our town’s erection. What the Factory produced is anyone’s guess. I don’t know how the rumor started, but supposedly, there’s a mutated monster in there forever searching for a way out. But I never believed such ghost stories. They were made up to scare children into behaving. I shrugged. “Okay.”

Swag looked over his shoulder at his gang and snickered. He turned back to me. “We leave now.”

My arms immediately crossed. “We leave when I get my helmet and lock up.”

“Well, hurry it up.” Jeers came from the rocker-clad group.

I dropped my jaw and used slow motion to pivot on my heels. I remained in slow motion as I took step after step to get to the break room.

“Hurry it up, princess. We ain’t got all night.”

The slow motion role had gotten old. But I still took my time gathering my belongings. I knew my life didn’t hang in the balance. They called themselves a gang, but a two-year-old could take them out. When I returned to the front of the store, Swag and his buddies had moved outside to their turbo-charged, four-cylinder imports. I snorted. Anything could out-run those things that possessed weed whackers for motors.

Time was very much so taken as I locked the grocery store doors. I even dropped my keys. On purpose, yes. But I made it look accidental. I made my ritual of swinging my right leg over my Ninja and settling into the seat. I enjoyed how the black metal flakes were reflecting in the deep plumb purple paint. A smudge on the gas tank snagged my attention. As I moved to rub it away, Swag pulled up beside me in his Honda Civic hatchback. “You’re going to follow me. Eight-Z, Flash, and Bats will flank you, so don’t even bother chickening out.”

My eyes rolled. I pulled on my air brushed helmet to keep from saying smart things to dumb ears.

The procession moved forward. I was in the middle with a car in every cardinal direction of me. And I realized how stupid the town’s “gang” really was. Every Halloween, they dare people to do idiotic stunts or pranks. Take this, for instance. I have to walk up to an abandoned factory that’s supposedly haunted. How, exactly, does this make them any cooler? The only reason I complied was so they wouldn’t egg my bike. I valued my bike far more than my pride.

Swag’s moaning Civic crossed the railroad tracks. Of course, I followed suit, the other Honda, a Subaru, and an Acura flanking me. We carried on until we came to the building I never cared to notice. Our group of five vehicles halted on the outskirts of what was left of the overgrown parking lot. The gang got out of their cars while I remained seated on my bike, removing my helmet. Their self-proclaimed leader walked up to me. “Go up the steps and inside.”

I merely shrugged. “Whatever.” This was stupid. But what did I do? I walked up to the steps anyway. This was for my bike. However, I did stop to take in the dilapidated building for the first time.

Vines clung to the sides, as if the crumbling cement gave them life. The tin roof had rust spots waiting to merge and eat out the roof entirely. Large double doors with dirt-encrusted windows patiently waited for a troublesome teenager to disturb their slumber. Well, I supposed I was that “troublesome teenager.” Eh, but I didn’t care. My feet carried me up the cracked cement stairs.

“Hurry it up, princess,” Swag called.

I had to grin at my defiance as I once again used slow motion. One. Two. Three. Four steps to the doors. Slow motion guided my hand to a long handle. Now the suspense killed even me. Regular motion resumed, I pulled. The door held fast. My brows furrowed. I grabbed the other handle and yanked both simultaneously. Still, there would be no entering.

“What’s taking so long?” Swag hollered.

“It’s locked from the inside.”

I heard him whine something. Then he began walking. “We’ll go around back. Come on, gang.”

I rolled my eyes as I turned to my left. This was ludacris.

The five guys joined me. The cousins, Eight-Z and Flash, were pushing each other around. Bats laughed at their antics until Eight-Z punched him in the gut. Swag and his brother walked beside me. Even though the trailing three were obnoxious, the side of the building kept my attention.

Like the front, vines clung for dear life. The roof had about a three-foot overhang, however. There were windows all up and down the wall. Three by three feet, all three feet apart. As we descended the slant, basement windows appeared. Four feet by three feet. All were covered in grates and thick bars. They had tried hard to keep people out.

My eyes studied a basement window. Or to keep something in. Shaking my head, I went to the side basement door. I scrunched my eyebrows. Ran a hand along what should have been a crevice between the wall and door. A large, rough weld brushed under my palm. Cold to the touch.

Swag’s brother, the only quiet one in the bunch, stepped beside me to examine the door. He said nothing as he, too, ran his hand down the weld. But he glanced over at me.

“Ninja, can we get in through here, or what?”

Ninja silently sighed. A gesture of irritation I understood.

Flash came up, pressed his ear to the metal door, and pounded a few times. “Nope, I don’t think we’re gonna get in this way.”

Swag yanked him by the collar. “Thanks for the news flash, Captain Obvious. Let’s go around back.”

I glanced at Ninja, who reluctantly followed his brother. Then my eyes shifted to the well-sealed door. They had really tried hard to keep people out. A chill ran down my spine. Or in. No, I didn’t believe in ghost stories. This was supposed to be ridiculous. We continued on.

A black shadow from within slammed the nearest window to us.

The guys screamed, with the exception of Ninja.

The shadow rattled and pounded the barred window over and over. With no prevail, it screeched loud enough for us outside to clearly hear it.

We all ran madly to our vehicles and sped home. Heart pounding, I couldn’t get the inhuman scream out of my head. I crouched lower to the gas tank and shifted to highest gear.

That haunting screech sounded exactly like a cry for help.

Closed Door

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What lurks behind the door
Life, Death
Something more
What waits behind the glass
Dusty, dirty
Tinted black
What is only a handle away
Sprites, spirits
Golem clay

Patiently waits the door
Faded, rusted
Copper ore
Time is on its side
Sealed, buried
Contents hide
The glass temptingly glints
Legends, secrets
It hints

Curiosity takes the reign
Groaning, creaking
Open again
Light floods the darkness
Beings, creatures
Unknowns hiss
The door is left behind
Freed, rampant
Evil kind

What lurks behind the door
Death, destruction
Something more

*Author’s note: The above picture is one I took of a mausoleum in a cemetary near a friend’s house. I wanted to peek in the glass, but I never did. Just in case something was actually in there.