Some More 3-Sentence Horror Stories

An Eyeful

For three days after the spider bite Johnny ’s right eye was blurry and pulsated and brimmed with pus.  Johnny had been staying in the darkness of his bedroom, but on the fourth morning he went into the bathroom to look in the mirror at his swollen eye.  Exposed to the light in the bathroom, the eye crawled farther back into its socket, retreating from the brightness.

Tryst

Her neck was long, stretching out from her kimono like a pale snake as her body lay sleeping on her tatami.  From her room, and down the hall, her head went floating, searching the paper-walled rooms of the palace for the handsome young samurai.  Blade drawn, and already wet with blood, the emperor awaited her within her lover ’s room.

Call And Answer

The cornfield trembled beneath the Harvest moon, and so, too, did Maggie, fearfully holding her doll to her chest.  Somewhere in the corn rows the scarecrow walked, calling out with his dry, straw-tongued voice.  After a time, Maggie ’s doll called out in answer, inviting him over.

Discovery

Warren had been tracking the Great Horned Owl for months, seeking the pellets left in its wake.  Sometimes at night, while alone in the woods, Warren heard voices, and even screams, as if far away, and saw orbs of light in the treetops.  After Warren was confined to the asylum he continued to talk of fairies and pellets while clutching tiny skulls in his hands.

The Gallows Judge

Harold Marsh was a hanging judge who claimed no greater satisfaction than a gallows jig.  Often Marsh would order a hanged man taken down, just before he could die, and then strung up and hanged again, just so he could watch the dance such men did a second, or even third, time.  After retirement Marsh was found dead in his house, hung up in front of a mirror, a grin on his purple face.

Marriage Vows

Before Josh ’s first wife, Kelly, had killed herself, she vowed, “Josh would remarry over my dead body! ”  And so, when Josh married Britney, his second wife, the ceremony was held atop Kelly ’s grave.  True to her word, Kelly made no objections

Clear-Eyed, Silent

 The man in the black robe stood at the end of the long driveway, across the yellowing field where the bales of hay huddled in the shrapnel stalks.  The man leaned on his long-handled scythe, his face cowled in shadow.  The scythe’s blade gleamed, even in the predawn murk.  Billy sat upon the front porch of the farmhouse, squinting his eyes as the flash of the blade leapt out at intervals, watching the man as the man watched his older brother, Thomas.  Thomas did not see the robed man as he helped his father with the tractor.  Billy could not tell Thomas because his head did not work right, and so his mouth did not work right.  Instead, Billy pointed at the man with one hand—the hand that did not hold the toy soldier.  Even so, no one paid any mind to Billy, and so they paid no mind to the robed man.  At length, the robed man continued down the road.  Along the distant hills behind the robed man were trees.  The trees were bare and black like charred hands stretched out in vain to protect against the coming sunrise.

 Billy did not play with the toy soldier in his hand.  He held it gently, reverently, as if it might break at any moment.

 “Hey, Duckbill,” Thomas said, ruffling his little brother’s hair as he and his father stepped up onto the porch.  “You going to help daddy with the tractor while I’m gone?”

 “If he can milk Betty without being kicked he’ll be doin’ good,” their father said.  He did not pat his youngest son’s head, but grumpily took hold of the rocking chair and sat down.  “But maybe someday he’ll be strong.  A lot of them that are weak in the head prove to be strong in the arm.  Maybe then he’ll earn his keep.”

 Thomas did not sit in the other rocking chair, but stood with his arms folded.  “Wish you wouldn’t say that about him.  It’ll hurt his feelings.”

 Their father shook his head.  “He don’t understand anyhow,” he said.  “And the truth never hurt nobody.  I’ve been tellin’ you the truth for years, Tom, and you grew up big and strong and good.  No harm done, all in all.”

 In reply, Thomas crouched down beside his little brother.  “You’ll learn to talk eventually, Duckbill.  I know you will.  When I come back you’ll be here to greet me, and you’ll tell me with your own mouth how your daddy’s the sorriest son of a buck there ever was this side of Crabapple County.”

 Billy continued to stare at the distant hills, the distant trees, and the coming sunrise.  Their father chuckled.

 “I may be the sorriest son of a buck in this county,” their father said, “but I feel sorry for the sorriest son of a buck over there.  You’ve got a talent with a rifle.  I’m sure whoever you’ll have in your sights will be as a clay pigeon still on the flywheel.”

 The sun rose and set the trees afire with napalm bombardment.  The horizon burned in an apocalyptic inferno.  Billy began to sob.

 “What’s wrong, Duckbill?” Thomas asked, tenderly.  He put a hand on the little boy’s shoulder, but the boy just shook his head.

 “That boy ain’t right,” their father said, grimacing.  “What’re you cryin’ about, boy?  You ain’t got nothin’ to cry about.”

 “Lay off the boy,” said their mother.  She stood behind the screen-door, her hands on her aproned hips.  “Breakfast is ready.  Come get you something to eat.  All of you.”

 Their father shot bolt-up from the rocking chair and went in.

 “Come on, Duckbill,” Thomas said.  “You’ll feel better once you’ve had something for breakfast.”

 Reluctantly, Bill rose from the porch, careful not to drop the toy soldier.  His eyes blurred with tears and the glare of the sun.  Letting his eyes fall to the hay bales, he saw them anew.  There were minced men rolled up and bound together in amongst the straw.  He rubbed his eyes clear of the tears, but not the vision.

 Billy followed his older brother inside the house.

 Sitting at the table, the family said Grace and then began to eat.  There were biscuits, sausage, eggs, and gravy on each plate.  The tablecloth was checkered red and white.  The grandfather clock ticked off seconds, slicing Now from Nevermore one sliver with each swing of its pendulum.  The radio was on the kitchen counter, near the dirty pans.  It was turned down low, but Billy listened to it intently as he held his idle fork with one hand.  The other hand retained its gentle, but firm, grip on the toy soldier.  The radio host spoke of the Viet Cong and deadly jungle diseases.

 Still, their father spoke casually; easily.  Pridefully.

 “You’re doin’ a good thing, Tom,” his father said, beaming.  “Stoppin’ them Commies is the most important thing right now.  It’s either them or us.  You’re gonna’ make sure it’s them.”

 “I know, daddy,” Thomas said.

 “This ain’t goin’ to be another Korea,” his father said resolutely through a mouth full of gravy-laden biscuit.  “We just come off the Big War and nobody had the stomach for it.  Now, though, you are goin’ to put those Commies in their place.  And that place is six feet under.  Or head-down in the rice paddies.  To hell with ‘em.  They don’t deserve a Christian burial.”

 Thomas nodded, but said no more.  He ate his breakfast in silence.

 Billy ate nothing.  He stared emptily at his full plate.

 “Bill,” his mother said.  “You need to eat something.  You got a full day ahead of you and you aren’t going to be able to do nothing on an empty stomach.”

 “You better eat that food, boy,” his father said, “or I’m takin’ its cost out of your hide.”

 Billy pushed the plate toward his brother, his eyes and mouth agape with meaning they could not convey.

 “It’s all right, Duckbill,” Thomas said.  “I got enough to eat.”

 The radio announcer spoke confidently of the military, but his words were gnawed with screaming static.

 Gunpowder clouds floated in from the East, darkening the caustic white sky.  The winds cut across the heartland like cold metal blades sweeping side to side.  

 Billy followed his brother and father out to the gate.  Opening it, they went through.  They said nothing of the blood and ragged skin and meat hanging along the barbed wire fence, or the bodies entangled in the coils.  The herd gathered around obediently as the men went to the barn.  The old barn had a gambrel roof, like a casket, and overflowed as they approached it.  The hay loft brimmed with heaped corpses and entrails and dismembered limbs as they began to pitch hay down to the cows.  Billy could say nothing at all.  He only moaned a little.

 “Jesus, boy,” his father growled.  “You ain’t even doin’ nothin’!  We’re the ones throwing this hay out.”

 They worked at the heaps of hay while the herd eagerly gathered around to eat.  Billy watched the dumb beasts chew, their heedless lips splattered with blood.  Billy’s eyes itched and brimmed as they always did when he was near hay.  The world was blurry, but he could see more than most.

 “Daddy, I’ve been thinkin’,” Thomas said as he pitched the hay.  “You need to teach Bill how to shoot.  Who knows how long this war might last.”

 “The boy doesn’t understand nothin’,” his father said.  “You honestly think they’d accept him?  He’s…half-finished.  Course, it’s our fault.  We waited too long to have him.  And now…well, he’ll be lucky if he can look at a gun without runnin’ off in terror.”

 “Daddy, you’re being mean,” Thomas said, halting his pitchfork.

 His father halted, too.  He stabbed his pitchfork’s teeth into the floor of the barn like a bayonet into bowels, leaning on it and rubbing his lower back with one hand.  He affixed his youngest son with a shrewd, merciless stare.  “I ain’t bein’ mean.  I am bein’ honest.”  He turned toward his eldest son.  “Don’t you remember how he reacted when I tried to get him to shoot that little ol’ .22?  He ran as if the Devil was after him!  He’s scared shitless of guns now.  I can’t even clean a gun in my own living room without him becoming a blubbering mess.”

 “That’s not his fault, daddy,” Thomas said, looking to his little brother with a mixture of sadness and pity.

 “I know it,” his father said gruffly.  “That’s why I said we should never have tried at our age.  And now look at him!  Playing with dolls and cryin’ when a gun goes off.  It’s not…manly.”

 “He’s still a boy,” Thomas said.  “He has some growing to do.”

 “At his age you were shootin’ ducks, Tom,” his father said.  “All on your own with no say-so from me or nobody else.”  He smiled with pride.  “I remember back then.  You were so proud when you brought those ducks in for supper.  Your momma already had made some soup, but when I saw what you’d done, I said, ‘To hell with the soup!  Let’s have some roasted duck!’” His wrinkles smoothed with youthful joy.  “And I’ll be damned if that wasn’t some of the best meat I’ve ever had.  And you never ruined anything you shot with a bad aim.  You got the Eye for shootin’.  I’d wager to say your enemies will call it the Evil Eye before long.  Or the Eye of God.  Where you aim, Death follows.  Those slant-eyes will be like fish in a barrel.  They won’t know what hit ‘em.”

 They continued pitching the hay as the clouds rolled in.

 Billy wandered away, unnoticed.  He looked out across the yellowing fields that undulated heavenward, the bales silent amongst the splintered stalks.  He was startled at the roar of the tractor engine.  The tractor rolled out of the shed, his father a shadowy outline atop it.  Billy watched the bold, black tires of the machine deploying forward to the day’s work, its ridged tires cutting trenches in the fallow earth.

 Billy walked farther away.  He came to the tobacco barn where the stalks hung from the crossbeams.  Bodies hung there, too.  He walked inside and saw the man in the black robe, sharpening his sickle.  Billy stared at him.  He could not see the man’s face beneath his hood.  The whetstone slid slickly across the cold white crescent blade in a pendulous motion.  The sibilance struck something primal in Billy’s spine, begging flight.  But he did not flee.  He stood and stared at the man.  The man looked up, but his hand never stopped swiping the whetstone across the long blade.  Its curvature reminded Billy of a raven’s beak.  Bill began to cry.

 ‘Silence,’ the man said, his voice sharper than the blade he whetted.  ‘You have chores to do.  As do I.’

 Bill ran away from the tobacco barn, catching up to Thomas in the field.  He hugged him around his leg.

 “Whoa, Duckbill,” Thomas said, almost falling over.  He looked down at the trembling boy that clutched at his thigh.  “Come on, now.  You don’t need to get upset over it.  I’ll miss you, too, but I’ll be coming back.  Don’t you worry none.”

 Billy continued to weep, shaking his head as the tears came.

 They drove the shaky, sputtering old truck to the bus stop and waited with the other families for the military bus to come to pick up the young men assembled there.  There were lots of kisses and handshakes, hugs and shoulder pats.  There was bravado, and not just from the young men.  Fathers and brothers and uncles spoke with grinning complacency.

 “Give ‘em hell, boys.”

 “Shoot to kill.”

 “Kick their asses so hard you knock their slant-eyes straight!”

 While the others talked and boasted and bragged on their sons, Billy stared at Thomas through tears.  Thomas was tall, like his father, only Time had not whittled him thin yet, and his shoulders were broad, his chest burley, his arms muscled from tools and chores.  His smile was easy and kind.  He had the loudest laugh, spreading seeds of laughter all around him.  He was the gentlest and the strongest young man among all those gathered from every end of the county.

 But Billy knew that none of that mattered to the man in the black robe as he, too, waited by the bus stop, leaning patiently on his scythe.

 “Be good while I’m gone, Duckbill,” Thomas said.  “Grow bigger and stronger than me, okay?  Momma and daddy are going to need your help.”

 Billy tried to speak, but, as always, the words did not come.

 When Billy and his mother and father arrived home, without Thomas, Billy stared out toward the East where the dark clouds flashed here and there with lightning.

 “Get on inside, boy,” his father said.  “And go to bed early.  Don’t stay up all night playin’ with toys.  Tomorrow I’m goin’ to have to show you how to milk the cows.  You’re goin’ to be busy for the Winter.”

 Billy went upstairs, but did not go into his own room.  Instead, he carried the toy soldier into Thomas’s room.  The little boy sat on Thomas’s bed, looking out through Thomas’s window.  Beyond the distant fields, toward the East, a storm was readying its front-line offensive.  Billy opened the window and a warm breeze blew in, as if from some other part of the world that was warmer and moister.  It felt like a monsoon was coming to the heartland of America.

Hell’s Bales

Demonic scythemen are abroad,

roaming and reaping, home to home,

feared by folks as though each a god

invoked from an old pagan tome.

Wise villagers will keep indoors,

praying throughout Samhain night,

away from the fields and the moors

where sickles gleam with hellish light.

To and fro, the imp reapers swing

black blades amidst the bloody yield—

pauper, pope, merchant, whore and king—

Man falling as wheat in a field.

They amass bales to feed their steeds,

those horses that snort smoke and flame.

Wherefrom? Hell!  The infernal breeds

bear them up for damnation games,

bursting forth from the flaming depths

amidst plumes of sulphur and fire

like silos alight, these seraphs

fallen to the abyssal pyre.

And what bales amassed!  Wound and bound

with the bodies of those thus reaped,

flesh and soul spiraled round and round—

bone and blood and sin as one heaped

to keep hale the mounts of the Pit

during times of better peoples;

the lean, famine seasons, to wit,

when hearts rise higher than steeples—

those Renaissance times of the soul

when Man aspires beyond himself,

working at wonders for the whole

and starving Hell of its vast wealth

till such beasts as in Hell’s stables

must lay down, famished and bereft

beneath the gargoyled gables

where rider, too, walks with feet cleft,

each taking a nap, for a time,

to await harvests yet to come,

for Sin is a generous clime

that returns throughout a kingdom.

Swallow

Her bioluminescence casts shadows

on the cavern’s cold, wet deep-sea walls,

reeling round like a carousel that glows

in Neptune’s silent, coral-toothed halls.

There are terrors written within the light

of her heart, that jellyfish aglow

and aquiver in endless depths of night

within the sea’s saltwater grotto.

Tongues twist and twine like sea slugs from conch shells,

tasting the other, a frank meeting

that stirs the blood to race in ocean swells—

a frenzied shiver of sharks eating.

He does not know how long her appetite

may be stayed, nor the strength of this love

that brought him low, away from sunlight,

but knows it better than most above,

for when her hunger waxes like the tide

and she swallows his heart at long last,

she will add it to the strange glow inside

and be brighter than day by contrast.

Haxprocess

The trees are cracks in the blue sky

as the sun descends—baleful eye

that sets alight its dusky wake

as a witch fettered to a stake.

Smoking moon low above the trees,

orange glow, cold air, and no breeze.

She walks—slow-tread—from house to house,

her footfall quiet as a mouse,

her black hair spilling to her hips,

nude but for the ash on her lips,

as she threads the street and lampposts

all aglow like luminous ghosts.

The cars are still, the windows dark,

houses dead, the dogs do not bark,

and owls watch her, their heads askew,

eyes aflame with the twilight view

as the moon becomes orange flame,

embers flaring, woman the same,

but she walks on, pale flesh like wax

melting off her bones, wet and lax,

dripping along Salem sidewalks

like bright-burning candle stalks—

on she walks, slow, and the moon glows

with the fire the other one knows

as they both burn clean to white bone,

meeting down the street, leaf-strewn

with the sloughing leper’s season

of Autumn’s withering treason.

Bone to bone beneath umbrous hoods,

woman and moon meet in the woods,

bearing each a paternal gaze

to its end, its requiem phase,

dead themselves, and so free at last

from will o’ the wisps of the past.

They kiss the other a good night,

snuffing, at last, that baleful light.

Of Wyrm And Man

Listen, we are the Ravens three

perched on our crooked oak tree,

laughing as the farmhouse flares

and smoke blackens evening airs

up toward the snake-ribbed sky—

sunny day, yet black each eye

that looks upon the charred husk,

empty carcass, cinder dusk,

while fields lay as wyrm-mauled mud,

the trenches deep, crops aflood,

as though young drakes raked their claws

to bleed earth while the outlaws

sought what fare there was to steal:

food and flesh and Fortune’s Wheel.

Shadows, thus, of Wyrm and Man

are much the same at a span

and engulf all caught within:

wide as the world, black as sin,

and cast from the light of day,

perching to stay where they may.

Hearken!  We are the Ravens three—

greed, selfishness, cruelty,

and we will perch and laugh more,

perhaps near your own front door

The Garroter Priest

They come unto him, the Garroter Priest,

praying like sheep to the fangs of a beast,

seeking his rosary, his brimstone path—

the way of war, and its bleak aftermath.

Kneeling before him, they welcome his grasp

around their necks, like a tight choker’s clasp,

his fingers interlocked in grim prayer,

helping them see their God (as they lose air);

the God of the Red, of rage consuming

like a stab, a gunshot, a bomb blooming

to engulf their lives and welcome the flood

of fire, of ash, of smoke and tears and blood,

hearing evermore the discordant choir,

each angel strumming its sinewed lyre.

His clarion call is a dire wolf’s howl

and his flock gathers, a pack on the prowl:

“Come, O flock of mine!” he says, “A fine fleece

each of you offer, and in return, peace

shall be your reward—the peace of such spite

that knows no end except when the sharp bite

about your neck sinks deep, strangling from you

a life burdened with grudges old and new.”

And so the Garroter Priest blesses those

whose wolfish fury hides in sheepish clothes,

wrenching from their throats the hunger of hate

and bleeding them to a more tranquil state,

for a faith of hellfire and brimstone laws

proceeds by a cannibal’s fangs and claws

as the acolytes eat one another,

shepherd on flock, and brother on brother,

until one remains, the Garroter Priest,

who welcomes himself to one final feast.

Man Up

Black and white cat screeching
with a badly broken back,
its limbs flailing, reaching—
a useless, aimless attack;
claws spreading, fangs flashing
in the chilly rain that falls,
gut bleeding, teeth gnashing,
while a small child, somewhere, calls.
Neither needle or stitch
can mend all this damage done,
and, kneeling in the ditch,
I see the blood burst, then run.
Guiltless, my hands in gloves
rummage for mercy to use,
and I wonder what loves
we might, someday, likewise lose.
Penknife in trembling hand
unfolding a silver gleam—
I feel myself unmanned
by the cat’s tormented scream.
Releasing the cat, now,
clutched in Death’s unflinching grasp,
I rub my clammy brow
and hear it gurgle and gasp.
The rain falls cold, meantime,
and I see the cat’s gashed eye
caked black with blood and grime,
yet alert and asking, “Why?”
I put away my knife,
the cat still writhing in pain,
yet clinging to its life
though life itself is a bane.
Turning to go away,
I am haunted by a word
echoing to this day:
“Coward, coward…you coward…”

Battle Of The Wits

I prefer Saki to Wilde

like a gleeful little child

too busy throughout his day

with the games he likes to play

to eat but in little bites

the sour-sweet dessert delights,

each story packing a punch

that does enough as a lunch

for an intellect in need

of some nourishment to feed,

and, besides, he does not cloy,

being subtle, this choirboy

whose wit prefers not to preach,

but seeks with humor to teach

lessons acerbic, yet smooth,

like a tonic meant to soothe,

yet burns when it’s ingested

to purge someone phlegm-chested.

I hold nothing against Wilde

nor Dorian Gray, so styled

with wit as to be satire

of satire itself, a pyre

in which irony aflame

immolates the author ’s shame —

an enlightenment most quaint

despite its destructive taint

that hounded him in his life

and cost him his lovely wife.

But while both men have now won

readers generations on

and lived the same span of years

while closeted for their fears,

Saki died before such fame

could make or break his strange name.

A sniper ’s gun found him out

in the trenches, at a shout

to snuff out a cigarette

only to die himself, yet

even his death was satire —

for, ere the sniper did fire,

Saki sought to ward the eye

of Death, so none else might die,

but, in so doing, passed from

service, life, till kingdom come.

Saki fought and died in France,

enlisting despite the chance

of the combat and horror

well known in the First World War

whereas Wilde died destitute

in Paris, in ill repute,

not that I blame him for it

or for each close-minded Brit

that despised him for his book

or the astute views he took;

it is just that Saki knew

how to keep just out of view

(save when in a sniper ’s sight

in the early morning light),

but the point is simply this:

Saki did not take the piss.

He loved Britain, in his way,

and fought for it, till the day

he was laid to rest, at last,

which showed that his writing past

was love of life, of folly,

and though sharp, too, was jolly

and he critiqued Britain well

with the tales he had to tell,

proving satire is best done

of what you love most, or none,

for it is, otherwise, spite

and, so, propaganda —trite,

of little substance or worth,

and very little of mirth.

Sharp, witty, and full of love:

thus does writing rise above

the pettiness it records

and thus deserves great rewards.

After all, life is a jest

told with great love, if told best.