Skip to content

I Can’t Sleep

March 12, 2010

Welcome, readers. I know things look a little different. I have a new site for my blog, which I hope will make it easier both to read and leave comments (so many of you told me you had trouble at the other site). A heartfelt thanks for visiting. 🙂

In the night the monsters come. Their reddish orange bodies swarm and swirl around my bed, playing peek-a-boo in an inky darkness blacker than the deepest black hole. They take me with them and I get lost until the rising of the sun, when I remember: I am the chosen one. I help the little ones find their way.

It started with Daniel. Above the steam from the mashed potatoes I looked across the table and saw it. A voice loud as thunder said, “My daughter, free him!” My hands trembled as I took the dirty dishes into the kitchen. A glass shattered.

“Thanks for having me over, Mrs. Armstrong,” Daniel said after we’d washed the dishes. His clothes were surprisingly clean, and his ten-year-old smile was as open as ever. “Don’t believe it,” a voice whispered. Daniel’s smile turned fiery red, trapped behind prison bars. For the first time I looked at him with pity for his soul.

“Daniel, could you come with me into the living room?”

I was sloppy back then.

The late day sun struggled through the blinds as black words began to fill the walls. I read aloud.

Daniel interrupted, “Can I have pumpkin pie when we’re done?”

“Whatever your soul desires, sweetie.”

The words came faster—too fast. I couldn’t keep up. I prayed for help and the words flew off the walls, spun in the air, swam into my head, and merged into the voice. Thunder threw itself from my chest, bounced off the walls, and echoed in my brain.

The voice commanded. I obeyed.

I lived this obedience for twenty years, every Thanksgiving. Until they brought me here.

“Mrs. Armstrong, your meal is here.” The tray held the perfect Thanksgiving dinner, made exactly to my specifications.

“Do you—” he hesitates. The guards always want to know. “Do you mind if I ask you—why?”

I’m silent.

It is the young we have the most chance of saving. I see them ragged in the street and my heart moves. I feed them. I teach them to read. And when I see the red rise within, trapped, I free them.

“Why so many?” He doesn’t give up.

I think of years spent perfecting my craft. The hours spent cradling different body parts, coaxing the spirits out.

“Does the Homeless Killer feel any remorse now?” I overheard the pastor say to the warden.

I think of nights, red faces, black holes, thunder.

The guard turns away.

“Because they are homeless. They need a home,” I finally reply.

He shakes his head. Leaves.

It’s not Thanksgiving, but I’m celebrating. Turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, green beans, gravy, mashed potatoes. It’s all here. Tomorrow my own soul will be liberated.

Tonight I will sleep in peace. I have pumpkin pie.

33 Comments leave one →
  1. March 12, 2010 2:15 pm

    Firstly – love the new site!

    This piece was wicked – this means good, in UK speak 🙂
    Love the black words filling the walls, fabulous horror imagery here!

    • March 13, 2010 12:06 am

      Thanks, Mazzz! “Fabulous horror imagery”: high praise coming from you. 😉 Thank you.

  2. March 12, 2010 2:21 pm

    Creepy, awesomely creepy. “I see them ragged in the street and my heart moves” is a particularly great line.

  3. March 12, 2010 2:22 pm

    First of all, beautiful new place!

    Secondly, this was very, very good.

    And the killer is having her last meal in prison.


    • March 13, 2010 12:11 am

      Thanks! I’m glad you like the new site….Yes, she’s having her last meal and reveling in it…um, yum.

  4. March 12, 2010 2:23 pm

    Tasty last meal. Eerie story weaving the past into the cell; giving victims a home. Similar to the freeing victims from pains of life. Nice the killer feels at peace with a good pie.

    • March 13, 2010 12:16 am

      Indeed, very similar to freeing the victims…and if pie is what the soul wants, pie she shall get.

  5. March 12, 2010 3:01 pm

    It’s both eerie and creepy (in a good way) but what stands out for me the most is the overall voice. It’s distinct and well done. I even went back to skim your past FF’s that I’ve read to double check that this voice was original and fresh, which it is. Nice job!

    • March 13, 2010 12:17 am

      Thank you so much!! I’m so happy a distinct voice emerged. Hmm…wonder what it means that it emerged in writing about a serial killer. 😉

  6. March 12, 2010 3:50 pm

    Wow. You got the serial killer voice down terribly clear. I mean…wow. I’m going to go hide under my bedcovers now.

  7. March 12, 2010 6:53 pm

    Great opening paragraph. It really put me in the action while remaining ambiguous. This really painted a disturbingly effective descent into madness hidden under the guise of a savior. While she makes decisions she considers rational and loving, she takes the lives of those around her. It’s a feeling we all experience when celebrating Thanksgiving dinner with the extended family 😉

  8. yearzerowriters permalink
    March 12, 2010 9:26 pm

    I’m fascinated by your use of colours throughout this piece. I know your an artist and I wonder how conscious you are of using colours when you write prose? Have you ever written something using the pre-industrialised paints, like ochre, lapis lazuli, cinnabar, malachite etc? I’ve tried to write something with them, but yet to pull it off.

    marc nash

    • March 13, 2010 12:42 am

      That’s a good question. No, I haven’t. It’d be interesting to try. I know that I’d have to be mindful of my readers–some might not be familiar with some colors and/or know the names and I’d rather not make color stumble a reader–unless there’s a good reason for it (which there could be in some cases…). Am I conscious of using colors when I write? I’m only conscious of it in that I visualize things and write what I see…but I am very conscious when color is serving in a symbolic role…

  9. soesposito permalink
    March 13, 2010 12:17 am

    Ug, twenty years she got away with this!!! Well, great job with the story…I am totally disgusted and may never be able to eat pumpkin pie again! :-0

    ps. Love the site, too!

  10. March 13, 2010 2:15 am

    This: “The hours spent cradling different body parts, coaxing the spirits out.” really creeped me out.

    Nice job of portraying the madness.

  11. March 13, 2010 7:16 pm

    Mrs. Armstrong? Well I guess she needed something to take her mind off of things while her significant other was, um, away.

    Gosh, this is a well crafted and very disturbing piece. ‘They need a home’ is chilling. Well done!

    Welcome to your new home too – it’s lovely!


    • March 16, 2010 11:59 pm

      I have a feeling that Mrs. Armstrong’s significant other was always “away.” 😉 Thanks, Simon!

  12. March 13, 2010 8:49 pm

    Lovely flash, enjoyed this part the most:
    “The words came faster—too fast. I couldn’t keep up. I prayed for help and the words flew off the walls, spun in the air, swam into my head, and merged into the voice. Thunder threw itself from my chest, bounced off the walls, and echoed in my brain.”
    So nicely written!

    • March 16, 2010 11:59 pm

      Thanks, Estrella! That’s actually one of my favorite passages from the piece. 🙂

  13. March 14, 2010 2:05 am

    You get better and better and better… great new digs, too. Peace, Linda

  14. March 14, 2010 7:40 pm

    I’d like to think that such a killer suffers for what they’ve done, but we know that’s not necessarily the case. I’m intrigued that, since I’ve been reading your stories (about a month or so) you like to take an unflinching look at some of the hard facts of life.

    The new home looks great. I like these clean wordpress sites very much.

    • March 19, 2010 12:07 am

      I do like to look at the hard things about life. I always have because it’s a part of reality we can’t afford to ignore. Glad you like the new site!

  15. G.P. Ching permalink
    March 15, 2010 2:54 am

    Wicked tale of madness and murder. Loved it, Melissa! I think the character drove this one. The writing seems effortless.

    Oh, I love the new site. Very easy to read.

  16. March 15, 2010 9:35 pm

    Haunted and authenthic with a nice ugly twist that made me raise an eyebrow. Subtle at first, rising to a blood-curdling scream at the final punch.

  17. March 19, 2010 6:20 pm

    Sorry I got to this one late. It builds the creepiness gradually, until the reader finally realizes the true evil at the end. Very well done!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: