horror, thriller

Karmic Hell – flash fiction-horror

What if I told you I know what hell is. What if I told you I was in hell right now.  Would you even listen? Probably not. You don’t even notice me sitting here, chained here, watching you.   The others? They’re watching you too. Now, I don’t know if they know what I know. I don’t even know if they think. Had you asked me twenty years ago, I would have said hell no, they don’t think. They’re too stupid. Ask me now though.

I don’t know how long I have been chained in this so-called house. More like a box…more like a dog house. Half my body in, half my body out. But I do know how long you plan to keep me here. Four months. If I’m lucky, you’ll be impatient like the last person and let me out after three. I could only be so lucky.

Yes, sir! I will bow my head, and step back as you fill my food. I know. I know. One wrong move and you’ll slam my head with that metal bucket you hold. And that blow to my skull will be painful. I’ve felt it before.   So many times before. Even when I was sure to not move, to not even breathe when that bucket was near me, it would still come down and hit me with a loud crack, followed by the soundwaves of that metal traveling through my skull just because the holder was having a bad day. Because it was too hot out that day. Or because the smell of our shit and piss was extra strong on that day. I don’t know if today is one of those days, I don’t smell our excrement anymore. So I will sit here, quiet, while you pour that slop in front of my vulnerable, tender face. And I will pray to the God that has turned his back on me to please take pity on my soul. For I am truly sorry for all I have done in the past. Please God, forgive me.

I know you. I was you. I was powerful once too. Shit, to hold the power of who lives and who dies in your own two hands? That’s some amazing feeling right there. I know, you pretend like it’s just a job. You do it for the money, right? It has nothing to do with the feeling you get when you raise that bucket above our heads and watch with laughter in your eyes as we cower to you, anticipating the pain to come. Sometimes you pull back though.   You spare us the pain, but only the pain. You don’t spare our dignity that you took in that moment. Always making sure we know who is boss.   Always making sure we know we are less than. Because that makes you more than. I know. I was you.

I want to die. And I want to stay dead. I did die. I had a heart attack at fifty-five. Twenty years ago. They said my arteries were clogged. I had a wonderful life, so I thought. My husband and I owned the largest dairy farm our side of the state. Business was good. We had the best machinery money could buy to milk those ladies. We also had the best insemination practices…they took almost every time. That meant extra money from the veal industry. Life was good. Money was good.

Apparently I overlooked number six in the Ten Commandments though: Thou shalt not kill. I’m sure it didn’t help any that we also slaughtered those babies and their expired moms on the Sabbath day as well. I should have known better.

The last thing I remember from that life was hearing my daughter crying for me to hang on. Then it went black. I felt nothing for a minute. Then I saw a light. It was beautiful and I wanted nothing more than to go to it. As I entered into it, I felt myself dangle down, cold and wet. I tried to see, but everything was a blur. Then my body hit something hard. I felt a gentle touch. It was the most welcoming feeling in the world. I wondered if it was an angle. It gently caressed my body everywhere. And once it stroked my face, I could smell the earth. It smelled dirty and green and wonderful. And then I could see clearly. The blur was removed as something rough and wet dragged across my eyes. I could see sky. Beautiful blue sky with the occasional white puff strategically placed. I struggled to stand, and as I did so, I turned my head to see who this beautiful angel was. To my disbelief it was a cow. Surprisingly I wasn’t disturbed, or disgusted. I loved her. It was an automatic love. And instantly I regretted the enslavement that I did for years with animals like this beautiful cow who stood before me, continuing to brush me with her tongue. I think she loved me too.

I heard footsteps pushing through the grass. And before I could turn to see who was coming, my body was lifted and flung into a rusted wheel barrow as though I was nothing more than a heavy bag of manure. My thin, soft bones felt as though they were hit with baseball bats. I could see the anguish in the cow’s eyes as she began to yell for me and follow this man as he threw me into a truck. I yelled, I cried. But I knew no one would listen. Sadly, I was familiar with what was happening and I knew what would come next.   I knew because I was that farmer once. And as terrified as I was for myself, I felt so much worse for the cow, my new mother. Her heart would break and she would literally call for me for days. Maybe even weeks. And no one would listen.

I was tied to a chain and left in a tiny dog-style house for four long months. Veal is tender because when it’s alive, it’s not permitted to move…ever. That’s trick of the trade number one. I was fed a meal that was deficient in many nutrients. I would also be plagued with extreme stomach upset and diarrhea every day because of that diet. But because of that diet, I would taste better. That’s trick of the trade number two. I would occasionally be beat for no reason. Thankfully I would only have to endure this cruelty for four months. Final trick of the trade: kill them young, while the meat is still as tender as butter.

I could not wait for that reincarnated life to be over.

But after four months, after I was pushed into a truck with ten other four-month old calves and driven to the slaughter house. After we all stood in line watching the one in front of us get their throat slit. After receiving a blunt hit to my own head. After having my own throat slit and then my skin pulled and sliced from me before I bled out…before I was even dead. After all that, I traveled to another light. I thought, Thank you God, as I traveled to a new light. That light was beautiful and I felt peace. Finally, I felt peace. It was finally over. Then I felt cold and wet before hitting the ground. I felt a loving caress and found myself in love with another beautiful cow only to endure the whole four month hellish process again. Hell-ish. There is no “ish” about this. It took me five reincarnations into this same situation before I realized this was hell. This is hell. For twenty years I have endured the life of a baby calve, held against my will and slaughtered over and over and over again.

So you, with that bucket in your hand and power raging from your eyes, you will soon be here too. Hell is real and it is more karmic than you could ever imagine.
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Written by Sheryl Marasi
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drama

The Memory – flash fiction-drama

Dad had always played by the rules. “Don’t cheat.” “Don’t steal.” “Say please.” “Don’t fight.” “Always ask before using someone else’s things.” And so on. So his suggestion early that morning took me by surprise.

“Do you want to go for a ride in it?” He smiled as he looked down at the seven-year-old-me. The stranded boat sat silently on the sandy beach.

My heart leaped—a couple times, actually. I stared up at him with my only answer being the giant smile on my face that matched how large my eyes were at the moment.

“Help me pull it to the water, big guy!”

It was dirty inside. We could tell it had been sitting on the beach for a while. A daddy long leg scurried across my hand before we made it to the water, but I didn’t mind. It was the thick black kind of spider that I couldn’t stand. The water pushed up to the shore repeatedly.  There were mainly little rushes of water, but sometimes a bigger rush of water rolled up with a lasting swish sound as it completed its summersault. Eventually my giant smile gave way to excited chit-chat and probably one too many questions. Looking back I either drove my dad nuts that morning or made him fall deeper in love with me.

There was only one oar in the boat, but that was enough for Dad. “Climb in Jimmy, and stay seated, okay?”

“What happens if I stand up, Daddy?”–One of my hundred questions during the 30 minute boat ride. Dad pushed us deeper into the water and then jumped in himself. “Will we tip if I stand? How come you could stand when you got in?” And the questions went on until there was silence as we both enjoyed the rocking of the boat, the sounds of birds, the freshness of the air along with its gentle morning chill, the faintest smell of fish in the water below us, and everything else the free boat ride had to offer us. It was beautiful—the weather and the time we spent together.

Today if I could, I would find the man who had left the boat on the beach and thank him. Because of him, my dad put aside his rules for the only time in my life so that he and I could have a memory that lasted forever. That was my favorite memory of us and it will be the memory I share later today at his service before we lay him to rest for eternity.

I love you, Dad. I will miss you forever.
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Written by Sheryl Marasi
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drama, love, Uncategorized

About Time – flash fiction-drama

Jerry was the quiet neighbor. The one who never had a television blaring, music playing, or kids yelling. He was that neighbor. The good neighbor. At least that was the case until one week ago at 2:00 am. Yes, 2:00 am…on a work night.

I met Jerry six years ago. It was noon and the summer sun had clearly turned its hot focus directly on me as I was moving items into my new home. I’m pretty sure he took pity on all one hundred pounds of me as I tried for ten minutes to push my sofa through the front door all by myself.

“You need some help, Beautiful?” he asked as he walked up the pathway that divided my yard of weeds into two.

“The name is Katie,” I said being sure to make eye contact. “Katie.” I walked into the house and grabbed the end of the sofa that refused to enter its new home. “Sure, I could use some help.”

As he walked closer to the couch, I could smell my Grandpa. It was a scent I sadly hadn’t smelled in years. Freshly burned, sweet pipe tobacco. “I’m Jerry,” he said. “I live right there.” He pointed to the green-vinyl home to the left of mine.

It took an hour to finish. My clothes were sticking to me and Jerry’s tank was no longer dry.

“I wish I could thank you with something cold to drink, but I don’t have anything other than tap water.” I looked toward the kitchen. “Or glasses.”

“Don’t worry, Beautiful,” he said. “I have lemonade. Why don’t you come over for a drink.”

“Katie,” I said a little more firmly as I followed him to his house.

I felt like I was walking into a home in one of those outdoor historical museums set in the early 1900’s, except this home, thankfully, had air conditioning. The wood floor had a large oriental rug covering most of it, the far wall contained multiple wooden book shelves that were stuffed full with antique books, the curtains were off-white with mini red flowers all over them, and the sofas were dressed in red velvet. Most interesting, though was the record player to my right that was built into a wooden display case. “It’s beautiful,” I said. “Does it still work?”

Jerry ignored my question and made his way into the kitchen. “Come have a seat,” he called from the kitchen.

I sat at a tiny wood table that was covered in a thick table cloth lined with plastic. He placed a glass of iced lemonade in front of me. The ice clinked while he used the table as leverage to lower himself to the chair.

“I haven’t played it for ten years,” he said, looking at me through his glasses. “Not since Barbara passed away.”

I looked back into the living room at the record player and was surprised at all of the pictures that I missed. They covered the wall above and on both sides of the player. I excused myself to take a closer look at them. There were black and white photos from their younger years which transitioned to brown tinted photos and then to color photos over the years. They looked like a very happy couple. They were beautiful.

Jerry joined me in front of the pictures. “That’s my beautiful Barbara. When she was here, we would play that record player every night and dance at least one song together. Every single night. You see that mirror up there with the pictures?”

I did. It blended in with them. Same shape and frame, just a little larger. It was directly in front of me.

“Barbara liked to watch us dance in that mirror. She would comment that out of all the couples dancing, those two right there were the best.” He chuckled. “She made me smile every day.”

Barbara passed away at seventy-two in her sleep. It was peaceful. They never had children. Jerry said they tried for years, but it just wasn’t meant to be. He still had some nieces and nephews that came around on occasion, but he would have loved to have had his own children, especially since they would have been pieces of his Barbara still with him after she left. He explained that the saying that time flies when you get older is only true until the love of your life dies. Then time goes slower than it did when you were a child impatiently waiting to become an adult. Every morning was a reminder to him that he would have to wait at least one more day to be with her.

Over the years, Jerry continued to call me “beautiful” rather than Katie. I came to learn that every time he was able to call someone “beautiful”, it was his way of remembering Barbara, and if I could be any comfort to the old man, I decided it wouldn’t hurt.

***

A week ago, Sunday, I was awoken. Before I fully pulled myself from whatever dream I may have been having it was already quiet again. Some faint noise, somewhere in the night. I drifted back to my slumber.

The next night, it happened again. That time I woke up soon enough to hear the clarinets and saxophones playing to the blackness outside. Swing. It was a swing-styled song. And then, it was over.

By Friday night, it became a ritual. 2:00am, Glenn Miller – Moonlight Serenade, and then it was over. The odd thing was that it seemed to be coming from Jerry’s house. Quiet, Jerry’s house.

By Saturday I had had enough. 2:00 am hit, the song began, and within the thirty seconds it took for me to painfully assault my eyes with my 100 watt lamp, blindly put my slippers on, and angrily whip on my robe, I was in my driveway playing sound detective. Jerry. I stomped over to his house and knocked. Loudly. The music continued. In fact, the song oddly started over a second time. I knocked again, with no answer. I tried the door knob, and it turned.

“Jerry?” I said over the music as I opened the door. There was no answer. When I stepped into the room my lungs momentarily stopped as I was greeted with what smelled like garbage that missed last month’s trash pick-up. I covered my nose and continued to breathe at a bare minimum. The room was dark aside from a glow traveling in from the oven light in the kitchen. “Jerry,” I said again. Then, I saw him. He was sitting on his red velvet sofa with is head tilted back, mouth open. The song stopped.

“Jerry!” I ran to him. He was cold and firm. The song started for a third time. It wasn’t as loud this time. It was quite pleasant, but I thought I should turn off the record player anyway. I walked over, but as I approached, the record wasn’t moving. In fact, the needle was at rest in its slot. Movement in the mirror above the record player caught my attention. There was a soft glow in the room’s reflection. And I saw Jerry dancing in the image with his beautiful Barbara. He looked happy. Much happier than I had ever seen him in the six years I had known him. I looked behind me half expecting both of them to be dancing behind me yelling “Got ya!”, but there was only Jerry, firmly attached to the sofa. The music faded and when I turned around, the only person I saw in the mirror was me.

***

The ambulance technicians said it looked as though Jerry had been dead for about a week.

It was a week ago when I had begun to hear the music. One song every night. Every single night.

It’s about time, Beautiful Barbara, I thought. He has been waiting sixteen long years for that dance.

AUDIO VERSION HERE
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Written by Sheryl Marasi (pen name)

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