Love Letter

love letter
Dear Linda

How to begin? I guess I should start by telling you I didn’t wake up Benjamin and Wendy. Not once did they so much as stir in their sleep.
I’m sitting by the little kitchen table writing you this letter. That’s right – I’m in our house. Even though you don’t think about it like that anymore. I’m writing these words with a pen that says its from Hotel Atlantico. I guess we brought it with us home after that time we went to Rio De Janeiro. That was good times, wasn’t it? Do you remember walking along the Copacabana? That quaint little bar where they kept bringing us pretzels even though we told them we didn’t like pretzels? Going skinny dipping at night, even though it was illegal? I wonder if you ever think about those times, and what we had together.
I can’t believe you still have that pen, but I guess that answers my question – if you ever did think about those times it would be too painful to keep something like that. I guess you really don’t care anymore.
You’ll probably want to know the how’s and why’s of what I’ve done. Or maybe not. Maybe you’ll be too upset to want anything. But then maybe later. Fuck it, who am I kidding. I’m going to tell you anyway. Just to torture you.

I have been watching our house for a long time. I don’t know if you know that? I guess, if you did you’d have called the cops. It’s really your own fault. It’s not like I enjoy sneaking around like some damn pervert. Do you have any idea how undignified it is to have to sit out here in my car, in the rain, watching my own Goddamn house through binoculars? If you hadn’t gone and gotten that restraining order it wouldn’t be necessary either. What did you expect when you had my rights to see Benjy and Wendy revoked?
I was watching when the babysitter arrived, and I was watching later when Thomas arrived, and you emerged from the house all dolled up and slutty looking. I knew Thomas was going to come by and pick you up (I hacked your Facebook even though you changed the password again, and read all the dirty messages you’ve been sending each other). You guys have been dating for a month now (yes, I keep track), and I guess you were going out to celebrate that.
You looked good when you came out, I’ll give you that. The last couple of times I saw you, you always had your hair in a bun and no make-up on. I guess you really wanted to look good for him.
I wonder how you guys met? It annoys me to no end that I haven’t found that out exactly. But judging from your messages I’d say a bar somewhere downtown. How original. Was he just the first guy that gathered his courage and went up to offer you a drink? If I had been there, when and if, that was how it happened, I would have knocked that motherfucker’s teeth out right then and there.
Did you already know you were going to start dating him back then? Or did you think it was going to be just a one night stand?
That was what I hoped at first – that maybe you just needed the rebound. But then I watched as you started texting each other more and more. And I noticed the first time you made the first of many little ❤ in a text message to him.
So weird that you have chosen this stranger over me.
That you now grant him the sighs and moans that used to be reserved for me.
That you now curl up him to fall asleep to the sound of his breathing.
After he'd finished playing the perfect gentleman, holding the umbrella and everything, I watched you drive off. I waited for a couple of hours (waiting becomes easier the more you do it), to be sure Benjy and Wendy were asleep. Then I drove a couple of streets down and parked the car. Getting out of the car, I checked my coat pocket for the thousandth time – the syringe was still there. I still work at the drugstore, so it was easy enough for me to procure it.
It was raining, and my hair clung to my face in sticky wet tongues when I rang the doorbell , but that was part of the plan.
For once I felt thankful you'd thrown out all the pictures of you and me together that used to stand on top of your mom's old bureau (even though it did hurt when I found the picture from our wedding in your trash).
When the babysitter opened the door I could see she had a piercing in her nose, and I would have sworn there was a faint smell of cigarette smoke on her. I can't believe you'd let someone like that watch over our children. It's especially funny because you wouldn't let me show Benjy ”The Good, The Bad & The Ugly” that time. Maybe you've gone soft from being ”in love” again and all that – maybe Thomas even convinced you to be more ”broadminded” or ”tolerant” or some shit like that.
I had rehearsed what I was going to say over and over – my first inclination had been to ask to borrow the phone, but of course that would be stupid, nobody borrows phones anymore. I also didn't want to scream or shout or raise my voice or anything like that for fear of waking up Benjy and Wendy. I could almost see their sweet, serene faces as they slept before my eyes. You see? I've never had anything but their best interests at heart.
I needed just the right mixture of urgency and respectability in my voice to pull it off. I'd also washed my shirt and bought a new tie for the occasion.
”Hey,” I said, forcing what I hoped looked like an embarrassed smile. She didn't respond, just eyed me suspiciously, so I went on.
”I was wondering if I could borrow your bathroom,”
I produced the little plastic bag with the syringe from my pocket and held it up in front of me.
”You see, my car has broken down. And I have diabetes. I need to take a shot of insulin or I'm going to have a seizure.”
”Um… ah… I don't know about that…” she said, and scratched her head.
”Please,” I urged. ”I just need a clean, calm place to do it. It won't be long, then I'll be out of your hair again. If I don't get this shot I might die.”
She rubbed her face, probably trying to decide what to do.
I decided to take a chance and pulled out my wallet.
”Look,” I said, ”I'll give you fifty dollars if you let me in. Please.”
Just as I felt certain she was going to call my bluff, she removed the chain on the door.
”But please hurry,” she said. ”I don't really live here, I'm just the babysitter.”
I nodded gratefully, while I fumbled to get the syringe out of the bag. It seemed to take forver. Then I stabbed her in the throat with it.
I knew I had to be damn fast – I couldn't allow her to let out the smallest peep. Luckily she must have been so surprised she didn't even scream.
I covered her mouth with my hand and pushed the content of the syringe into her. She struggled viciously, the bitch, but it wasn't insulin I'd put in the syringe, it was cetacaine, a strong prescription sedative from the store. In a manner of seconds her eyes rolled back and she went limp.
I put her on the floor. Before leaving her, I leaned down and yanked out her piercing. Her skin tore like tender sole leather. For a moment I stood transfixed and looked at the blood that curled around the shiny material. It was beautifull. Then I tossed the ring away and went out to the kitchen.
Passing through our living room, the memories opened the storm locks. I remembered the old days when things were good and uncomplicated. When you smiled and looked happy in the pictures we took. I wonder if, if one could roll out the history of your thoughts on the floor, like a map of the neural paths, would I be able to find the exact moment you decided to ruin everything? Would I be able to pinpoint the exact moment you decided you didn't love me anymore? Or did it happen more gradually?
I have done a lot of work to find out as much as possible about what you've been doing since you kicked me out, but I'll never know the actual thought process and that drives me up the damn wall. I can watch you shower and read your mail, but I can't tell what is going on inside your beautiful, mysterious head.
I guess I went a little overboard calling you slutty and all that earlier. What I'm trying to say is just that you went and destroyed something that was good and right and beautiful. When people get married they are supposed to be together. For ever. That's the whole idea.
And what's more, I don't think you had the right to divorce me like you did. What about my feelings? What about what we had together? We built a family, for Christ's sake. It's not just about you and what you want – a marriage is something you have together. It's holy. You can't just pull the rug out from under everything and waltz away as if everything was just there for your enjoyment.
And goddamn it – the kids, you bitch. Benjy and Wendy were the lights of my fucking life. How could you take them from me? How did you manage to turn everyone against me like you did? Did you sleep with my lawyer maybe? Maybe that was why he did such a lousy job.
Here's the problem you see – not that I'd expect you to understand, seeing as you were always so damn strong and independent – but I love you too much. I grew to needing you. And one can't help but secretly resent the things one needs.
But it's no good – I keep ending up saying bad things about you. And when you read this it will all be too late anyway.
When I'd found what I needed in the kitchen I went into the nursery. I see Benjy and Wendy still sleep in the same room even though they are really too old for that now. Wendy also still sucks her thumb, the little rascal.
Seeing them sleeping so innocently there, I wavered and almost couldn't do it.
I hesitated for a moment – and you'll love this – a tiny, treacherous voice rose inside my head. What if – just what if – your date with Thomas was going horribly? Just what if, suddenly he did some little thing that made you remember what you'd thrown away, made you realize your mistake and sent you running back through the rain, not even wanting him to drive you home.
I almost dropped the knife to the floor and went outside to look for you. But it would have been stupid, wouldn't it?
It was a ridiculous, childish hope like so many I'd entertained before, all of which had all left me disappointed and hurting even more.
You never came through for me, and you never will.
There is no happy ending tonight.
I caressed the sweet bulb of Wendy's forehead, drawing a few wild locks of hair away from her eyes. I swear she looked just like a plump little angel.

It is done now. I will have killed myself too by the time you read this. As I write this, you are probably still out with Thomas, shamelessly enjoying a night away from the kids.
Good, I want it that way. I want you to think back to this night, knowing that while you were out drinking expensive wine, laughing and thinking of fucking his brains out, our children died.
And every time you curl up to him and fall asleep to the sound of his breathing, in your most private and intimate moments, I want you to remember what it cost you. That this was the price you paid.


By Lars Kramhøft

Yard Work

In my haste I forgot to rake the leaves. With so many more on the trees it won’t be long before my lawn will fill. As the leafclouds roll in under the stars, my bet is by morning I will need to use shovel and squeegee to clear them. All that wet, all that slime and mold; my, such a soup as this would even make a rat sick.
I wish I could light them on fire.
The rats too.
They’ll burn faster than I can ever think to pick them up. I also like the smell. I like the sound too; like fingers snapping.
But if I want to burn my leaves I’ll have to get a permit. I’ll need to have a hose at the ready.
I’m required by law to wear goggles and a mask. I can only burn is a designated area at a designated time. Etc. Etc. All that red tape is just too damn much trouble. All that government dictate makes burning way too clinical and sterile. I just want to burn. I like to burn.
I like to burn for fun and for curiosity. Maybe I should burn the house down so it can spread to the lawn then I need not accessorize in any special manner or pay any money to the city for an activity I enjoy.
Just a thought. But then again some busy body neighbor will just call the fire department and my fun will be extinguished.
I should have seen that coming.
If I just let all the leaves fall I wonder just how deep the pile will be. Maybe to my mid-calf, but at least an inch or two over my ankles. That would sure be a lot of raking.
It’ll be worth it. It’ll be worth the slow reveal. Just to see the trees bare themselves to all and stand naked and erect during the long chill of an October breeze. Stark and alone at first then melding together in a grey, almost invisible, but certainly opaque community. Anonymous but inviting anyone and everyone to see through them to what they inhibited in sight from the spring before.
My trees are long and lean very much like her. Tall and slender and smooth; her skin and polished mahogany, at sight, seem to be one in the same. She told me she modeled some in college. That I can believe. And she was working this job to merely fund her acting lessons.
Her dreams seemed as lofty as her gaze.
But we all know she is a bartender with a habit who will allow anyone to dip for her nectar as long as the number is right.
She was eager to please and please we both did the first couple of rounds. As she relaxed in the glow of cooling body fluids she dozed off a little and that is why she didn’t resist the ether.
Limp, she still came instinctively not once but twice more and by then I was spent.
In the muted moonlight I have conformed her body in the trees. Her long shapely legs and supple arms almost match the branches where they are pinned. I doubt any passersby or paranoid neighbor will ever notice. This yard is wooded. The pieces that are her body are scattered and pinned at such angles that are well hidden to the naked eye.
Even if some animals get a morsel or two; I’m confident, after all I’ve done it before and before that.
But I just have to say I’m more proud of this one though. I know it is shallow thing for me to say, to take so much credit for my work, but it is clearly due to her looks and exquisite build. She wasn’t like the others; she was different than my normal type. She was devoid of the ‘nice young baby fat yet firm and cushy plumpness’ I normally go for.
She had almost no body fat so it made it easier for me to make the transformation. Besides the cutting; I am so especially pleased with how I have tucked her torso away, and those stunning budding breasts just high enough in the oak and yet low enough for me to run my fingers around and reminisce.
Well, at least for a few extra days thanks to the falling temperatures.
But as I look out to my gallery of nature. I wonder too, if I should take some time off. I wonder if I should lay low. Enough have gone missing that there is a buzz going around the town.
Even if the police eventually tie me to her and the bar; no one saw us leave together; we just talked a lot.
Even if the police make a search warrant they won’t find her in the trees. They’re not that smart to look above the possible grave in their profile.
Yet, despite all my carefully taken precautions into making this little allusion to a game of hide and seek, I wonder truly if I didn’t, in my exuberance get too bold with this one.
Maybe I shouldn’t have made a lamp out of her head.
No, I should have. I quite like it and it does still give off a relaxed and content glow.
No, the lamp itself is fine; I think though, I shouldn’t keep it so close to the front window.

By Joseph J. Patchen


vampire moon

It was a night like any other she had known — long, lonely, and of the darkest pitch. Tonight there was no silver moon to climb over dark shapes or dance in the window panes, and there were no diamonds of the sky. The cold seemed to seep from outside to suck the very marrow from her bones. It was twenty below, but for northern Maine this came as no surprise. Especially considering it was winter. Still she wished if they had to commit her anywhere they could have done it somewhere warm and friendly like South Carolina or Florida. Even California or Texas would have been better than these looming mountains of chill that merely made her feel small and lost inside the belly of a forest that never seemed to end.
She knew why they thought her insane, she had breathed word of vampires. They thought that she was out of her head, but she knew better. She knew what she had seen — it was no terrorist that had killed her family it was a red eyed monster with fangs longer than her family’s dog had been. No one could explain the bite marks so they chose to ignore them or blame them on Cody.
She hadn’t forgiven her aunt or uncle for shooting her dog. In fact, it made her hate them more. They had taken her from her home in Ohio and dragged her out here into this hilly nightmare. Just because they were crazy enough to live out here didn’t mean she had any desire to.
Her parents and siblings had died two years ago. She was still distraught about it, she still had nightmares.
Everyone thought that she should move on. No one could understand her pain, it seemed. It was too real, too raw.
She was angry and alone except when she had to take her pills or was forced to go to group or individual therapy neither of which she enjoyed very much.
A tear trickled down her cheek in a hot, salty trail. She hated feeling this way and she loathed being here. Yet no one seemed keen on letting her out or on visiting her. She hadn’t seen her aunt or uncle once she had arrived at Lemont Institution for the Clinically Insane. She didn’t belong here, and she would never forgive them for abandoning her in a place like this. She glowered at the post card they had sent a week ago. They had gone to a trip to some historical places in Boston. It must have been nice for them to be wielders of their own fate. They weren’t trapped like a sardine in some cold tin can. She had to find a way out of this place.
Pushing strands of hair from her eyes, she glanced over her shoulders. She had a feeling she was being watched, but there was no one to be observed. She narrowed her eyes suspiciously — there was something eerie about this. All the little hairs on the back of her neck were standing up and goose bumps pirouetted up and down her arms and legs. Something was wrong. That much was a given.
Moments later alarms were going off in the halls to alert anyone listening of an emergency. She winced hard when she heard gun shots. It had been the same way at her father’s house. People covered in blood, screaming, her sisters and brother torn down as if they were mere chew toys, and Cody barking his head off angrily trying to protect everyone at once.
She slowly pushed open the door to see what was going on. The white carpet was stained several shades of scarlet and dark brown. Blood and dried blood she noted. This wasn’t good. She knew what had caused this. Vampires. She was the sole survivor of her family, she wasn’t going to die here. She closed her door, and broke the glass window after several harassed moments of smashing a wooden chair against it. It was jagged and unevenly cut, but it was open. That was all that mattered.
She pulled her tall, lithe body through the window slowly in an attempt not to cut herself. She cried out in pain as she lowered herself from the window. She had torn a deep laceration in the middle of her left hand upon climbing out of the building. She clenched that hand in a fist and staggered out into the cold, harsh night. Snow was falling from the heavens and richly coating her thick, dark hair.
She heard a snapping of twigs and she stumbled further into the woods or clearing or whatever this was. She leaned against a tree trying to catch her breath. Trudging through the snow was a lot more difficult than she surmised it would be.
Yet she would make it out somehow, she was determined.
“We’re sorry, Mr. and Mrs. Anderson your niece Naomi was lost in the snow that later took her life. She was trying to escape the gun man that snuck into the building last night.”
“How did this happen?”
“We’re horribly sorry. We’re looking into how the security breach happened. I know this must be hard for you and your wife, Mr. Anderson.” The man stroked his long handle bar mustache thoughtfully. “If there’s anything I can do for you, just let me know.”
“Was she still suffering from her delusions?”
“Delusions, Mrs. Anderson?”
“She thought vampires killed her family,” Mr. Anderson snorted. “Preposterous. As if vampires truly exist.”
The door swung closed, and the director’s smile grew a little too wide. “It wasn’t your niece that was suffering delusions, but you.” The couple screamed, but it was too late for them. The vampire had already sprang upon them both staining the white washed walls a deep, dark crimson. “By the way, Mrs. Anderson,” the vampire drawled. “Your niece tasted better.”

By Linda M. Crate