Tommy kept the Christmas tree up several months after the holiday season was over; he thought it made a good nightlight in the living room when the overhead lamp was too much. The soft cozy glow it gave off felt homie. It made it a lot easier to cope with the multiple stab wounds he would puncture into the body of his victims. He just had to find a way to deal with the screams. Stuffing a sock in their mouths did well to muffle the pitch and make it hard for any neighbors to hear them cry out in agony. But, it didn’t stop their shrills from putting him on edge. So, he decided to start playing Bing Crosby albums as loud as he could while he flayed their skin from the bone. Bing’s deep, smooth voice wound its way through his soul, putting him at ease as he cast both sharp and dull objects down into the fragile flesh of his prey. The effect the crooner’s golden tone had on his spirit made his arms move without hesitation, as if they were wings guided by the breeze. Each cut, each carving, each beautifully barbaric strike burst through the bodies like they were water. Often, he watched their glassy eyes swiveling wildly in their blood-soaked faces, and felt comforted by the reflection of the blinking Christmas lights dancing in their watering eyes. Once the life drained away, there was a slight sense of serenity in those dead eyes: a calm beauty, like they had finally gone home and he had been the courageous carrier to convey them there. It was almost heroic.
MY PERFECT WORLD
On a roll of the dice you left that night
Landing on snake eyes, the throw wasn’t right
You said to me, “Boy, I don’t need you.”
Then all of that love was broken in two
Getting beyond you has always been hard
I’m a Joker chasing the Queen of Hearts card
I’m just a boy but you’re more than a girl
Standing on top of my perfect world.
I thought about leaving but I couldn’t move
You’re a shot through the soul with nothing to lose
You bricked up the walls to my Shangri-La
And blocked out the sun from the Eye of Ra
All truth was revealed upon your arrival
You gave my heart to Anubis to control my revival
And all weaknesses of mine you would find
In my perfect world that you left behind.
Nothing is perfect when time stands still
There is no warmth in a long winter’s chill
Raindrops are gathering on my window sill
Your hands unleash the passions that thrill
Showing me the voids that I need to fill
Until I’m a volcano ready to spill
Your words are the bullets with the power to kill
My perfect world where you shatter my will.
I knew that you always liked to play games
In a castle of cards where royalty reigns
Where you are the bridge as well as the moat
With your skeletal fingers tight on my throat
I can’t resist you or I’ll be devoured
No man can stand up to such Feminine Power
You dealt me bad cards and my deck was hurled
Right out the window of my perfect world.
GALLOWS OF HOPE
You tighten your noose around my neck
Every time I look back and start to reflect
On all of my battles to earn your respect
Then you moved in to start tying the rope
That would hang me high from the gallows of hope.
I sit in your cell and remember the night
That you had begun to tie the noose right
By manipulating me with your midnight delight
Thereby loading your guns and throwing your rope
That would have me swinging from the gallows of hope.
When you came to retrieve me from that cell
You walked me back to the place where I fell
Weak in the knees to your soul-binding spell
And strung me up high from the your steel-encased rope
Then left me to dangle from the gallows of hope.
You used to say that everything was fine
You always came to me and said you were mine
All-the-while feeding me the lies on your line
That was added to the cable to lengthen the rope
Where I danced in the wind on the gallows of hope.
Somewhere in the darkness are shadows abound
And sometimes I feel you when you’re not around
Now that my breathing doesn’t make too much sound
My blood is left dripping down the knots of the rope
That keeps me tethered to the gallows of hope.
You and I never seemed to be more than a dream
Sometimes, in the end, things are more than they seem
But now I am choked so that I can’t even scream
Because your hands are still pulling hard on the rope
That strangles me on the gallows of hope.
I look down at you without much surprise
I watch as my life now drains through your eyes
And you cry haunted tears of blood and despise
That supply all the fabric for your poisonous rope
That injects me with death on the gallows of hope.
One thing is for sure about what I have learned
That trust is a spark that leaves someone burned
This I found out once the love tide had turned
Washing me up still tangled in rope
That hanged me and drowned me on the gallows of hope.
In the end I could see what your heart was about:
Deceit and destruction and black shadows of doubt
Too bad it’s too late for me to get out
For I am now one with your heartstring rope
That has made me a ghost on the gallows of hope.
Silhouette’s putting her clothes back on when I wake up. I assume she is about to split, which is fine; it’s the nature of the rendezvous: no strings. The creak of the mattress when I move alerts her to my waking. She finishes pulling her blue tank-top back on and looks over at me from across the room.
“Hey,” she says.
She smiles. “Yeah, you know. I got to get home. I didn’t want to wake you up since you told me you haven’t been sleeping too well.”
“It’s okay. I was kind of crazy tonight, anyway.”
She smiles. “We all have our moments.”
I can’t help but look at her long, toned legs as she stands before me in her skimpy dark underwear. Her messed up hair reminds me of everything we just did and, like everything else, that reminiscence reminds me of Dark Dance.
“Hey, do you know any other women in the Club,” I get the bright idea to ask.
She flashes me an uneasy look. “Yeah. Why?”
“I was just wondering about one in particular.”
Silhouette grabs her short black skirt off the floor and starts to slide it back on. “We’re not supposed to talk about things like that.”
“I know. But, I had a rendezvous with her and now I can’t seem to locate her in the database.”
After her skirt is all the way on, she replies, “That’s weird. Do you think she had a bad experience with you?”
“Maybe she blocked you.”
“I don’t know why she would. Nothing went wrong. Even if she did, that would just prevent me from sending her messages or requests. I would still see her name.”
“That’s true. I really don’t know what to say to that. What’s her name?”
“I never met anyone with that name.”
“Are you sure?”
I don’t quite believe her. Her answer was too quick, as if she expected me to ask her that.
“Yeah, I’m sure.”
“Then why was she just in here?”
The look Silhouette gives me is apprehensive. “Someone’s in here? Is this some kind of joke, Cupid? Are you setting me up? They know at the Club that I came to meet with you. I signed off for our rendezvous.”
Her voice speeds up as if she is trying so hard to talk fast enough to hide her lies. I stand up from the bed. “You know she was in here; don’t act dumb. You can’t tell me you didn’t see her.”
“I didn’t see nobody, man,” she responds as she backs away from me.
I stop at the edge of the bed and hold up my hands. “Relax. It’s okay if you had her waiting here. I get it, now. You and her are friends and you like to play games. That’s cool. You don’t have to hide that from me. Just tell her I’ve been trying to get back to her since that night she and I met up. In fact, all this is actually a relief. I kept having these very realistic dreams about her and it was starting to freak me out. I was beginning to think I was going crazy or being possessed by a demon or something. That’s why I was so distracted tonight.”
“Look Cupid, I don’t know what you’re talking about, but I don’t know nobody named Dark Dance. Whoever she is, it sounds like she’s fucking with your head. You might want to leave that shit alone.”
“Come on, Silhouette. The game is over. You two don’t have to keep playing me. I matched with her the same night you and I met up. I ain’t stupid.”
“No, you ain’t stupid, you’re just crazy. Now, I’m gonna go, okay. I think it might be better if we make this our last meeting.”
For a second, I study her to discern if she is lying or not. I’m usually pretty good at spotting an untruth etched on someone’s face. If a person normally looks people in the eyes, you’ll find their eyes darting side to side or looking away; if they are timid and don’t usually look people in the eyes, they will glare at you when they lie; the lips will pucker or tremble slightly, or they will crease their forehead in consternation. There may be an odd expression formed in their eyebrows. The voice gets either thicker or thinner than usual. It isn’t in the pitch like people think, but in the harshness of their words. I also watch for nervous ticks. There are subtle differences in the motions a person makes whether they are lying or they are nervous that the person they’re talking to doesn’t believe the truth they are telling them. Silhouette looks like she is lying, but maybe my judgment isn’t clear, though I think it is.
“So, you’re telling me you didn’t know she was in here?”
“I never saw her.”
“How could you have missed her? She stood right there beside the bed and told me to do everything I could to satisfy you. She’s the reason I was able to perform, so well. When I was going down on you, she ordered me to please you like I would her. She even stood right behind me and made sure I moved the right way during sex. Now, why would she do that if she didn’t even know you?”
Silhouette’s mouth hangs open in disbelief. I can read the shock on her face; she’s been caught in her elaborate scheme against me. I know something is amiss; she and Dark Dance are playing me for a fool and I refuse to sit back and accept it.
“Why are you looking at me like that?” I ask, growing angry.
“What angle are you working, Cupid?”
“No angle,” I reply and move towards her.
“Back off, Cupid, and put your clothes on.”
I was unaware of my nudity during my interrogation of her. I look down and see my cock swinging.
“Just tell me where she is. That’s all I’m asking.
She shakes her head and says, “I’m out of here. You’re fucking nuts, man.”
When she turns to go, I reach out and grab her arm to stop her. She yanks it away and says, “Don’t put your fucking hands on me like that, again.”
“What are you hiding from me?” I demand to know. “Why was Dark Dance here and why won’t you tell me anything?”
“I done told you, psycho, that I don’t know this bitch.” Her slightly confused decorum suddenly transitions into anger; she squints and wrinkles her brow, and then begins to rummage through her purse. “If this is some sort of scam where you lure me in here to steal my shit, I’m gonna cut your fucking nuts off. And if some crazy bitch is helping you, I’ll slit her throat.”
“There’s no scam and you know it,” I tell her. “You’re the one hiding something. Don’t try and turn this around on me.”
Once she is satisfied that all the contents of her handbag remain, she points at me and says, “You and that crazy-ass hoochie of yours better stay the hell away from me.”
Something then goes off inside me–a warning light, or a bell–and I become enraged. I lunge at Silhouette and push her up against the wall, making a mirror rattle. My hand grasps her chin from underneath, two of my fingers up by her lips, and I look into her eyes. They carry no fear, only surprise that turns to seething anger.
“Don’t you ever talk about her like that. Do you hear me?”
Her mouth opens and my middle and index fingers curl into it. Her teeth then clamp down hard of them both, making one of them bleed. I cry out and try to pull them free but she bites down harder. When she finally lets them go, I back up and she uppercuts me hard right in the chin. I then stumble back and feel her foot slam into my balls and the crushing feeling instantly forms in the pit of my stomach. Surprisingly, I don’t fall, but my hands go right down to cup them.
I don’t even know what’s going on when I feel her fingers tighten around my wrists and pull my hands away. It doesn’t even register with me until I feel the gut-wrenching impact of her foot smashing my testicles upwards, again. This time, my legs buckle, but her hands press my shoulders and I stay on my feet. Quickly, her arms slither under my arm pits, leaving my arms dangling, and I feel something harder rise up to crush my nuts.
“How’s that, motherfucker?” she asks.
My face falls forward, leaning on her shoulder, and a low, beastly moan escapes my lips. I feel a second blow ravage my balls.
“You stupid fucking bitch!” she scolds me right in my ear.
I gasp so hard I feel like I swallowed a part of my throat. Bile rises up and I begin to cough. Drool drips from my mouth and runs down her shoulder blade. A third shot ties my stomach into a million knots.
“How’s that, pussy-boy?” she asks.
I want to beg her to stop, but I cannot talk. The sweat is standing on my forehead and my gut is convulsing. My lungs scream for air but none comes. When the fourth blow lands, I become so lightheaded that I can barely see anything beyond the twirling red and yellow stars circling against the growing darkness of my vision. She lets me go and I crumple to the floor in a defeated heap.
She laughs when I hit the ground. “Aw, did that hurt your vulnerable little balls? I hope so, you fucking scrub. Teach you to put your hands on me.”
I lie on my back, legs bent at the knees, trying to breath, holding my testicles as if that will help. I am easily defeated, but breaking me isn’t enough. Perhaps feeling she still has a point to make, she leans over, grabs my knees to spread my legs apart and stomps once, then rears back her leg and plants it right into my crotch. The presence of my hands on guard only adds more pressure to the assault and I cry out.
“How does that feel?”
“Please! Stop!” I gag.
“What was that?”
“Yeah, you are sorry. You ain’t so tough, now.”
She spits on my face and storms out. As I roll on the floor, hacking up my lungs, I hear the sound of feet sliding across the carpet. When I look up, Dark Dance is standing before me, adorned in black leather shorts and a matching sleeveless black leather shirt. Her elbow length gloves and high-heel boots correspond with the rest of her attire. The room is relatively dark, but all the leather on her body seems to shine as if reflecting the moon.
As always, her sunglasses veil her eyes.
I shuffle through the dark interior again, navigating passed the same abandoned clutter. An air that was not present before begins to wrap its arms around me, guiding me to the corner where the small bed still stands. I can plainly see she is not there. I call out, once again, regardless, “Dark Dance? Are you here?”
Only the silence answers back. Tension winds its way up my spine. I want to jump around and kick things, punch the walls and throw things, but I don’t. I stand still, shaking, trying to calm the uncharacteristic outrage growing inside me.
Dark Dance, what have you done to me?
The heavy air constricts my throat; the room spins and I have to sit down. When I flop onto the mattress, I think I feel her, immediately. Her residual energy is swirling around the bed. I can feel her hands on my body. A slight whisper caresses my air, telling me to lie down. Instantly, I obey, falling back and letting her memory overtake me.
Something clutches my shoulders and squeezes my legs. My penis starts to move around inside my pants. Her scent returns, wafting around the bed, circling me, making me high. My body starts to move up and down as if something is pushing me. More sensations work their way through my body. Only now, where there was only immense pleasure before, there develops a severe burning, as if I am being slowly rolled into a furnace, mingling the pleasure with pain; the ecstasy and torment tumble over one another, grappling for control. My body contorts and I go blind.
“Cupid,” the hollow echo of her voice speaks. “Come to me.”
My brain feels like it spins around in my head, crushing me with a mountain of solid light, not weightless, but heavy and full. A pale blue boulder rolls over me, twisting into a yellow ball. Then, my mind is drowned in the hissing of rushing water. Cold prickles dance along me before covering me.
“Welcome to the Ocean of the Moon,” her distant voice says. “Immerse yourself in the Land of Darkness Around the Light, and dance with me, forever.”
I cannot speak, but my mind accepts and my vision returns. A large yellow moon shimmers above me. The bonds upon my body snap and I sit up, finding myself submerged in a filmy liquid. When I rise, I begin to float into the air like a balloon, towards the fat moon surrounded in the pale blue light.
Dark Dance’s disembodied voice finds me, again. “Cleanse yourself in the shaded waters and be reborn in my womb.”
I continue my ascension towards the moon until I am consumed by its undulating shades of yellow and blue. I fall in deep, penetrating the surface and swimming through its glow. I burn; I break; I freeze; and, I fall. I scream against my own silence, from the inside, and my body swells. A pinpoint of blackness appears inside the lunar haze and a vacuum begins to pull me towards it; it grows into a black circle, then a gaping hole. I scream again as I feel my breath pulled away. Soon, I am thrown through the hole back into space, hurtling across the vast emptiness, about to face eternity alone.
Then I awake back on the bed in the garage, the mattress soaked with my sweat; my clothes cling to my flesh. I look around the room: only the lonesome blackness of solitude surrounds me. A scrape to my left grabs my attention, so I look. It’s hard for me to comprehend at first because I am looking at the reflection of a man on a mattress, but there is no window or mirror there, and the man on the mattress isn’t me. His face does not return my stare. He is looking away towards the foot of his bed. I see his mouth move but I cannot hear him. A shadow starts to pass around him and then it hits me like a rushing gale through a tunnel.
The shadow is her; she has returned. But, who is she with?
Recollections of our rendezvous come back to me as I watch her faded silhouette grope and kiss the man like she did me. I cannot see her in full detail for her form is not solid, but I know it’s her. I can feel the connection, the energy, and the wave of electricity she gave off. I need nothing else. The man is solid, though, and I know nothing of him, but I hate him and want to destroy him. Dark Dance is mine!
I become enraged with jealousy and despair while watching her pleasure him. The scene is tragic to my heart and I want to either kill or die. That’s when I start crying for her, yelling for him to stop, and begging her to leave him and come to me, even if it has to be in shadow.
“How can you do this to me?” I scream. “I’ll kill you, you motherfucker, if you don’t let her go!” I scream at the man, and then back to Dark Dance. “Please, Dark Dance, don’t do it. Don’t make me watch this!”
Suddenly, the shadow stops moving. The shape shimmers and begins to solidify into Dark Dance; her gorgeous nudity mocks me under her smile.
“Watch what?” she asks. “Do you not see what this is?”
Confused, I ask, “I cannot stand to see you with anyone else.”
She smiles. “Then don’t.”
She fades back into shadow and the man beneath her beautiful body, I realize, is me. My eyes widen and so does the eyes of my reflection, though it does not look at me. “I don’t understand.”
“Do you not recognize yourself? Do you even know who you are?” she asks with disdain. “I think not. You’re a lost puppy, like all men who come to me. Devote yourself to me and I might show you who you are.”
The Firewalker glided along the Ocean Inferno in pursuit of the Black Ship. The Shadow Riders were pulling away, leaping the flaming waves, heading into the Sea of Fire. Much further and Capt. Asmoday might find himself incinerated by the Sun Inside the Earth.
His crew was already down to its bare bones, having been cut down in the skirmishes with these vile creatures up on Hades Hill. That had been one of the worst slaughters he’d ever experienced in his centuries as a soldier in the Crimson Guard. He had battled creatures from all planes of existence and pulled out more victories than defeats, but he’d never seen anything like these beasts. They were as ferocious as any demons, angels, gods, or devils he’d ever encountered, but they were better organized, stronger, faster, and more determined. There was some sort of undaunted instinct that drove them onward. Whatever their mission, it was worth their lives to them. They flew into death headlong if it was necessary.
It had come as a relief during the battle when they finally started to drop. At first, he wondered if they could even be killed. The way they did not flinch even as vicious blows impacted their smoky bodies was a shot to his squadron’s spirit far worse than wounds of the flesh they received in battle. It took hack upon hack of the heaviest weapons to drop these tenacious beings, but they were not invincible. Eventually, they could be brought down.
Capt. Asmoday had no idea what realm they came from. In all his years, he had never even heard of any race like them, let alone seen them. They were all red clouds of undulating smoke that took on solid forms. They had arms, legs, and heads, but their eyes and mouths were hollow sockets that blazed with spiraling yellow light. They wielded no weapons save their arms and hands, which they swung with sharp, fatal accuracy. Each limb had a slicing effect that gashed skin and muscle and ripped apart bone. Their bodies radiated ever-changing auras of heat and cold so extreme that it either made you blister or freeze in just seconds if you were too close. Trying to fight these powerful foes while maintaining a relatively safe distance was almost impossible.
Eventually, through sly use of the surrounding elements–combating their heat with cold and vice versa via Asmoday’s own sources of magical energy–his battalion succeeded in weakening their ranks and pushing them back down the hill. From there, they fled onto their ship and sped across the bubbling sea towards the reddening horizon. The captain wasted no time giving chase. He could not allow the Shadow Riders to make land anywhere else. The damage they inflicted was always too great as they plundered every inhabited stop along their way to whatever destination their trail of devastation was to take them.
Out in the open fires, that dark vessel could run. He was not sure what their motivation was, or the endgame they sought. All he knew was that they were more than just a force, they were a scourge, and they were mighty enough to rip right through all of the Underworld Kingdoms, leaving an apocalypse in their wake.
“I don’t know where you came from,” he said to himself. “But, I’m going to chase you all the way back there, or I’ll burn trying.”
His troops were all in. As they boarded the Firewalker from the hill, he had turned to them and said, “I am going to chase these monsters right over the edge of oblivion if I have to. They will not continue to take liberties with every land they set foot upon, not as long as I ride the Ocean Inferno. The only reprieve they’ll get from me will come when I am thrown overboard and left melting in the fires below us, for then I will be one with the Inferno. Only then will I stop. If you wish to stay behind, so be it. I will not force you along.”
After a brief silence, one of the crew declared, “We signed up to fight for the Crimson Guard, not wait on Hades Hill for a rescue party. I say we sail, now.”
No protest was offered, and the chase began. Now, they were fighting the mighty flames in pursuit of their own demise. They were sailing deeper into the Red Lands, where the Inferno seared the Earth above and below them. The Sun Inside the Earth roared in the distance, miles and miles away, screaming like an angry monster. These were lands few dared to venture to. Even Capt. Asmoday had never been. No infantry of the Crimson Guard had ever come this far. But, these creatures had to be stopped before they defiled the entire Underworld, sending it back into a state of chaos like it was over millennia ago when the Angry Gods escaped.
That was not going to happen on Capt. Asmoday’s patrol. Not as long as he lead the Firewalker through the Inferno.
Come one, come all, take a stroll down the Road of Blood…horrors and delights switch masks, wear alike faces. Tears are blood, blood are tears and dreams are husks of breathing fears.
If you’ve ever entered a nightmare, bones shivering in their tightly wrapped flesh coats, staring at the mouth of a monster, then you might have passed the road a time or two.
This is where everything dies, and his born, and lives and grows, withers, expands, decays, blows away as decomposed powder, or sinks to mingle with the cold soil of the Earth.
Life is nothing but a constant bleed. Every path is bound by horror. People live for fear, are driven by dread, and all of their monsters have a face and name, even if they remain anonymous.
On the Road of Blood, we will see all varieties of accursed creatures, monstrous maniacs, barbarous beasts, and vile villains from all walks–or crawls–of life, dragging themselves from beyond the light, clawing at the ground, collecting dirt beneath their nails, wishing it was the flesh of an enemy.
God forbid–and He did–that you splash through the crimson river rushing along this ancient street through the oldest of forsaken cities, beneath a ragged sky punched full of holes by the tentacles of the abominable beings occupying–in both senses of the term–the celestial realms of this dark and twisted section of the universe.
The Blackened Earth, beyond the gate of bones and skulls, beyond the wicked whispering void, vast and vicious, vacuous, vexing, destruction, death, eternal life and peril, hollow, slumbering stillness: the sickening cycle of suffering, bold, brazen, breathtaking, backbreaking, and beautiful–it is the mother and father, life-giver and death-bringer; it is all the Light and Darkness in the meaningless life of man.
As the blood washes out the village, collapsed on the roadside, on the outskirts, at the edge of oblivion, a ruined, toppled tangle of rubble and debris, new faces arise above the mass graveyard where the rotting tides submerge the dead, baptizing them in the blood before burying them just above the roof of Hell.
The Road of Blood never evaporates, or dries, or coagulates; nor does it become a tributary to drain or empty. It is eternal as long as the living breathe.
Find yourself swimming, swimming, breaking for the waves that crash the sepulchers, seeping into the cracks of decomposition.
Morbid it may seem, but this is life: a rivulet forever rushing towards the end. Blood only dies in water…
So let it rain.