The knock is the same as the one in your dreams – it’s a knock. It comes at the same time as you dreamed, which is at some time. It’s neither loud and angry nor gentle and timid. It’s as you had imagined it – a knock that says nothing. It’s a sound that is, by all other aspects of its character, another kind of silence. You think of Poe – the tapping in The Raven, the door blown open in the House of Usher, the locked room of the Rue Morgue and the sealed fortress of the Red Death. All your fears are in that sound – not for what’s beyond it – but instead for what probably isn’t. How many times have you opened the door, and no one was there? You have felt shame – and for so long that it has been a kind of dying. [Read more…] about She Knocks in Your Mind
The Tree of Desolation
Have you ever learned so many names at once that you forgot your own for a moment? And when those names and voices come to you out of the darkness, when you wake into them, in that space where you don’t know if you’re dreaming or not, do you even know who you are? [Read more…] about Mass Silence
Our garden grows ripe and strong, even if the soil is bare,
around the head of Mrs. Long, that Daddy had left lying there. [Read more…] about Talking Your Way into Dodge
Hon Carter had a machine gun behind his eyes. Wherever he looked, he saw carnage, and he was the cause of it. He had long ago tried to blind those eyes, not once but three times, when he was foolish enough to think he could spend eternity doing any other job. When you were drafted, you didn’t get to pick your duty, and that went double in God’s army. Now it was a soggy, crimson mess that oozed from his sockets, and still he saw. There’s a strange kind of hope in mutilating oneself, and maybe there was an end to it at last. Just three more names. [Read more…] about Nightmares in Heaven
The fire spread through the clock with an uncertainty that was bound to disappoint, and would do final, irreparable damage not to the object on fire but to the hand that had set it. The man clutched his chest at the sudden heat, and dropped dead at the foot of it, just as it struck twelve and the fire seemed to all but blow itself out, moldering a little before dying at last of exhaustion, leaving little harm but a pool of wax at the base, as far as collectors would be concerned.
Oh, it would go into a right, fine house, just like the man’s house used to be, before he’d bought the thing at auction. It would fit perfectly in whatever alcove, corner, or place of honor its new owner envisioned. And it would stand there, gonging out its hours for a week, a month, perhaps even a year before things would start to change.
But change they would. And the eyes that looked up, lifelessly, from the floor, had known it – had been intent on saving the next person from it. The original invoice was a whisper of ash beneath the thin, singed fingers. He had used it to try to put fire into the clock, but it was too strong for that, after two years of sucking the life out of the man and the house. It had grown hungry again, in the last days, and had expected something like this – hungry, but ready.
In one week, just after the wake, and just too soon for a decent waiting period, the movers came, and the house was emptied out, though most of the furniture was drab, dingy, and ended up at the dump. The family had commented with astonishment on how much the place had seemed to fall into disrepair in the year before the man’s death. The rugs went into the furnace. The paintings were all of pale, frail, and disfigured or unattractive people – those ended up decorating a rest home, where it was supposed no one would look too closely. The clothes had fallen to moth and ruin. Not even the poor house would want those.
Only the clock stood majestic, inviting, needing only a fresh coat of wax to gleam like new and it would make the auction house on 4th street, and then on to a new home. The clock chuckled in the way that clocks sometimes do – all in little chimes, like aural tinsel full of mirth and the comfort one has of being wanted, of knowing there will always be a place called home. The clock wondered if the next house would have children. Children could last such a long time. They had all that growing up to do, and it seemed like they were always new, every day, with a newfound energy that made every morning succulent and fresh. [Read more…] about Grandfather