The things that go quiet in the night

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The time on the clock read 2:29 am.  The waning moon shared its luminescence with the corner of my bedroom and my eyes blinked repeatedly with the harsh difference between the blackness behind my eyelids and the moonlight permeating my bedroom.

love the moon

The sound that woke me was shrill and I was trying to convince myself it had followed me from a nightmare.  My dog’s uneasiness confirmed the polar opposite of that theory and together we looked out the bedroom window to discern where the awful noise was coming from.

My initial thought was that a baby raccoon was lost and crying out for its mother but as the cry continued it became much more visceral and intense.  My tension escalated with the suffering sounds of nature.  There was nowhere I could free myself from the wretched sounds of terror that animal was shrieking.  I now know how poor Clarice Starling felt in The Silence of Lambs.  Somewhere deep inside you want the shrill cries to stop but you also realize the outcome of the slaughter when the night regains its stillness.

The cry did lose its intensity and that sound of terror became more and more staggered until it was replaced by the silence of the night.  It took me a long time to get back to sleep.  Between my over-active imagination and my staunch passion for Criminal Mind’s crime scene photos, I’m sure I had created over 200 plausible crime scenes by the time I finally nodded off.

I can only hope whatever predator was outside has moved on to a new hunting ground.  And I sincerely wish we will not have to, ever again, listen to the unfortunate nocturnal requiem of the untimely death of wildlife that once felt safe to roam through our woods.


Suffering the side-effects of the human condition


For those unfamiliar with the latest news in aviation, an Air Canada flight came down at Halifax International Airport on Sunday in what I personally refer to as a “successful crash”.  Airline media relations like to call it a “hard landing”.   I’m sure the passengers aboard would agree with my description since the pilot attempted to navigate the runway with no landing gear, no nose on the plane and short one engine.  The plane slid along the runway to a stop and passengers were able to exit the plane to safety.  There were more than two dozen sent to hospital with minor injuries but the end result was no casualties.   In lieu of what we have been watching recently about the German Airlines tragic ending, this story has a relatively positive outcome.


(image credit)

The crash is under investigation and veteran pilots are already pointing the finger to pilot error unless the engines were not receiving full power.  It is too early to tell anything beyond the fact that the captain and his co-pilot are currently the only people who are responsible for bringing the troubled plane to the ground and sparing the lives of their passengers and crew.

I read a disturbing story today that some passengers are already threatening to sue Air Canada.  Just days after the tragedy of the German flight being piloted straight into the side of the Alps, these passengers’ perspective seems to have crashed and burned as well.   Their plane,  although potentially mishandled, was brought down safely in high wind gusts and snow after the landing gear was sheared off because the plane hit some antennas.  The one hundred and forty-nine passengers and crew of Germanwings were not so lucky.

Yes…your flight crash landed, but you survived.  Yes……you unfortunately had to stand on the runway for an hour before being shuttled into the airport.  No, I don’t think that is acceptable and no, I wasn’t on the plane and don’t know the terror you certainly experienced.  But nobody has to make a call to your family to say you didn’t make it.  Nobody has to guide your loved ones through the pain of knowing they will never have a body, or even fragments of a body, to bury to give them a sense of peace and closure.  You are alive to tell the tale and you, unlike so many others, will live to see another day.  Your family does not have to spend countless hours wondering what happened to your flight because you did not disappear without a trace, never to be seen again.

Perhaps the thing that irritated me the most and began this tyrannical rant is that one of the passengers made a flip comment about taking “plane crash” off their bucket list. I had to close the page of the interview.  Who, in their right mind, has plane crash on their bucket list and who can be so flippant with such a crass statement shortly after 149 people tragically lost their lives only days earlier and many other missing flights loaded with passengers and crew will never be found?  The light bulb that was my hope for humanity has been alarmingly dimmed today.

Perhaps those passengers threatening to sue were still in shock and merely making a rash judgement.  I can only hope that if the lawsuits go ahead and money is awarded to the victims of the unfortunate landing in Halifax that they will look back on the events of devastation that have happened within air travel over the past few years and use that money to set up a fund to aid families who have lost loved ones.  Winning a cash reward for surviving would be such a monumental slap in the face of the families who are still grieving and to those who will never get the answer to the question of what really happened to their loved ones.


Ashes to ashes – fiction



She knew his heart would crash, landing right at her feet the moment she told him it was over.  What had been a fairy tale beginning had quickly turned into the twisted relationship only Dean Koontz could do justice in one of his macabre stories.  It had been tumultuous, to say the least, and she just needed to be free of him.

Over the course of their relationship, he had retreated into a cocoon inside his mind, fueled by the haze of booze and cigarettes.  She had not realized his heart had shrunk to such a miniscule version of what it once was until she saw it laying before her, cold and lifeless on the stony ground.

His face seemed to become more emaciated the longer she looked at him.  He had not reacted verbally to her accusations.  He could only nod in sullen agreement because he seemed to have lost the ability to speak.  She berated him, lashed out for each minute she spent wishing her life with him had been different.  With each bitter word she uttered, her Machiavellian intention became clearer to him.

She couldn’t tell if his eyes actually became bigger when he realized what was happening or if it just seemed like it because his body was withering at such a rapid rate.  His hair-line seemed to recede as she watched and his gaunt complexion resembled more of a skeleton than a human body.  She pulled the small doll from her pocket and lingered before she pushed the last pin into the woven material that covered its chest.  A small sigh escaped her lips and she plunged the final pin into the doll.  What remained of his skin and bones hastily turned to dust and fell to the cobblestone street.

She stood idle for a few moments and watched as the ants began to march single file through the crack in the stone.  Like a well trained army, they worked as a team to circle the tiny carrion and haul the remains of the lifeless heart down the hole to take home as a trophy.  Little did they know, the spell she had created would only allow that heart to exist for mere minutes after the rest of his body had disappeared.  The ants would get it into the hole but it would never remain solid long enough to present it to the colony.

As she walked away, she carefully removed each pin remembering the outcome that each jab had on his physical being.  She tossed the pins in the gutter and placed the doll safely back in her pocket, hoping, once again, this would be the last time she would need it.



Written for the Grammar Ghoul Challenge – to use the picture above – Just a lonely heart by Marina Carvalho
is licensed under CC by 2.0
,  and the word crash with the following definition – Move or cause to move with force, speed, and sudden loud noise




Not all silence is golden


paul-helleu-sketching-his-wife-1889Her silence began to paw at him.   Like the constant yanking of coat-tails by an impatient child,  her wordlessness did more to annoy him than if she were nagging him, as she usually did on these trips.  But she was petulant in her nature this morning and it was agitating him to the point that he could not focus on his painting.

The day had lent everything he required for his creative process.  The sky was reflecting a profusion of purples and blues off the water and the grass was standing perfectly still, waiting for him to capture its very essence on his canvas.  She began to pick at the weeds in front of her and sighed heavily each time she threw a collection of dying blades into the windless day.

With each of her exhalations, his brush stroke became angrier and more forceful.  The once stunning colors on his palette were becoming a mottled collection of angry hues and the overwhelming emotion he felt rising in his cheeks began to match those shades of regret and dejection.  The beautiful day now felt sour and unfriendly.

He put his brush down and stood to stretch.  She turned her back to him and that simple gesture was the last act of child-like behavior he would tolerate.  In one fluid motion, he reached into the canoe and, without thinking twice, grabbed the paddle and struck the back of her head with all the force he could muster.  Her skull split like a ripe melon and an arc of blood spatter found the extra canvas hidden in the canoe.

After standing over her for several minutes, he delicately placed her hat back over the gash on her head.  He studied her for a moment.  There was such a serene quality to her silence now and he felt the inspiration to begin painting again.  He reached the for the canvas in the canoe.  There was something intriguing about the pattern of blood and his brush strokes on this new piece of art gingerly worked around those drops to maintain their artistic integrity.

He felt great satisfaction looking at his newest masterpiece.  He placed the canvas on the now spare seat in the canoe and began looking for some large rocks.  He would have to do his best to make sure she wasn’t found near the others.


Written for the Grammar Ghoul challenge:  using the word “paw” as a verb and using this picture to write a story up to 750 words.  I’m not sure why my creative brain always goes in the direction of the macabre.







The “eyes” have it – fiction


This short fiction was written last year for a small collection called F*cked Up Fairy Tales.  It was used to raise money for charity.  Since I had never posted my submission on my blog, I thought I would take this opportunity to put it on here and use this as incentive to delve back into the morbid portion of my brain.  (The book isn’t going to write itself!)  This is my macabre version of the Princess and the Pea.


The sputtering neon sign cut through the malignant darkness, blinking as the electric current passed through the wires.  It simply read ‘vacancy’.  He knew wayward travellers would soon arrive at the only motel for miles and he had meticulously prepared for the new stragglers lost on the unforgiving stretch of highway.  Each room had been cleaned by him and the deodorizer had been applied liberally to extinguish any remaining scent of decomposition.  He surveyed each room, his eye focusing on anything that may have seemed out of place, and closed the door leaving the room ready for the next guest.  He sat in the tiny office waiting for the first sign of headlights he knew would be coming.  He sensed that she was near.

The storm winds had escalated and the rain began to pelt down on the tin roof of the motel.   The staccato beat of water on metal soothed him.  He closed his eyes and let the sound bathe him in its rhythm.  She was closer.  His eyelids fluttered opened to see the high beams of the oncoming car slash through the darkness and his pulse quickened.  He could almost hear her heartbeat racing as she maneuvered the car through the puddles.


The flashing pink sign looked like a strobe light as the wipers furiously tried to keep up with the rain on her windshield.  Her grip was tight on the steering wheel and she could hear her mother’s voice in her head calling it a ‘white-knuckle’ drive.  The vacancy sign grew brighter as her car made the turn into the motel parking lot.  She was almost positive she hadn’t been followed but parked the car at the back of the motel just to be certain it wasn’t spotted during the night.

She collected the small travel bag from the passenger seat and reached into the glove compartment for the Glock, tucking it into the side of the bag and concealing it from plain sight.  Exhausted from the drive she headed to the motel office and hoped for a short reprieve from having to constantly look over her shoulder.  This motel, in the middle of nowhere, may be the one place she could silence the voices in her head and shut out her warped reality, if only for a few hours.

She pushed the door open and immediately noticed the odours.  The deodorizer hit her senses first, but her keen sense of smell detected the pungent scent of death lying in wait underneath the lilac spray.  This essence was no stranger to her and she continued forward to ring the bell on the unattended desk.  Her hand absently moved to the side of her travel bag and traced the outline of the pistol.

He came out of the back office and greeted her with a warm smile, welcoming her to the motel.  The menial task of signing her false name was done and he moved around the desk to show her to the room.  Her hand never left the side of her bag as she followed him along the concrete walkway.  His gait was confident and his silence was comforting.  They exchanged no words as he handed her the key to the room that was meant only for her.  She opened the door to the room and felt his stare burning into her back.  As she closed the door and turned the deadbolt, she knew he was still standing a foot from her door.  She could hear his breathing and rather than feeling unnerved, she felt connected.  Nothing about this quiet man-made her feel uneasy and that was the feeling that scared her the most.

She poured a Scotch and stripped out of her rain-soaked clothes.  The acrid stench of decomposition was evident in her room as well but the smell dissipated slightly with a few more sips of whiskey.  She cranked the water in the shower and listened as the pipes vehemently argued with the task.  The hot beads of water from the shower stung her skin but she welcomed the pain.

Skin flushed red from the hot water and cheeks blazing from a half bottle of whiskey, she teetered across the floor and poured herself into bed.  The duvet felt like silk against her bare skin and the pillow was perfectly plump but, as much as she tried to fall into a deep sleep, she could not find a comfortable position on the bed.  She tossed and turned and what she hoped would be a fitful rest was a combination of half hour naps.   She awoke in the morning, achy and wearied.

Determined to find the cause of her lack of sleep she tore the duvet from the bed, letting her hand roam the top of the mattress to detect any imperfections.  Nothing was out of the ordinary.  She grasped the handles on the side of the mattress and lifted it from the box spring.  The orb was not as round as it should have been, but that was from the pressure of the mattress.  The noticeably cloudy film and diluted pupil stared into nothingness as the human eyeball lay lifeless in front of her.

She moved across the room and took a long swill of Scotch from the bottle.  The murky eyeball seemed to follow her as she crossed the room again to get dressed.  Whiskey was not her first choice for breakfast but, given the circumstance, she didn’t care.  She packed her bag, tucked the Glock into the back of her jeans and collected the human remains that thwarted her slumber.

He was in the office when she arrived, coffee in hand and wearing the same warming smile he had worn the previous night.  She was not surprised that his first question was to inquire as to how she slept.  She gently placed the slightly misshapen ocular sphere on the desk and simply tilted her head, lifted her eyebrows and waited for his reaction.  His smile never wavered.

He spoke first, “It’s almost perfect, isn’t it?”

His words hung in the air as he eagerly anticipated her response.  The ticking of the incessant second-hand on the clock seemed to echo in the tiny room and his brain felt like it would explode.

Her response was succinct, “Show me more.”

He knew it would be her. From the moment the winds changed and the rain foreshadowed the previous night, he knew it would be her.  The Prince of Darkness had finally found his Princess.

Nobody thinks it will happen to them


Winter is upon us and, as luck would have it, I was very ill-prepared for the sudden onset of about two feet of snow.  Our friends to the south of us in the Buffalo area got it much worse than we did and I hope everyone is safe and warm preparing for the clean up after that terrible lake-effect snow that was dumped on your world.

The flurry of flurries made me realize how far behind I am with following my prep list for the “festive” season.  My summer tires are currently doing a remarkable job getting me to and from work and my golf clubs are still using the valuable space in my trunk that should now be reserved for my winter safety kit.

Those kits are rarely seen in vehicles but, if you were one of the people trapped on the Interstate during the storm that pounded Buffalo, are a very welcome use of space when you are stranded in bad weather.

Having a safety kit in your car is such a simple way to help prevent what could be a terrifying experience.  It is so easy to collect the necessities and have it in your trunk, just in case.  Good things to keep on hand are:  candles and a metal container to hold them, matches or lighter, snack food like nuts, trail mix or energy bars, a blanket, a change of clothes and footwear, flares, a flashlight, a whistle, kitty litter or a bag of sand (I keep strips of carpet to put under my tires – they are awesome!) and bottled water (using plastic bottles that do not crack).

safety kit

These items should be there as well as your usual items like jumper cables, spare tire, windshield washer fluid and small shovel.

Please be safe this winter.  It only takes a trip to the Dollar Store and a few minutes of your time, but it could save a life, maybe even yours!


Under his spell



What wouldn’t she have done for his love,

for the forbidden taste of his lips,

for the soft caress of his fingers tracing lightly upon her skin.

She savored the memory of his smile,

she recalled his sweetness as he spoke his words of love,

words that were meant to only fall on her ears.

But his carefree words deafened the ears of the spoiled.

Those words were never meant for her.

His life had been promised to another.

And now her soul was trapped,

forced into everlasting damnation,

compelled to bear witness to his life with another.

Their black magic hardened on her skin like a crust,

holding her face in sadness for eternity.

Her body now a statue,

held fast in its place,

her eyes meant to watch him,

reminded every day of what she cannot have.

Her consciousness banished

to a lifetime of anguish and melancholy.

In the darkness he would sneak out to visit her,

his touch was just as warm and his words of love, just as sweet.


Written for the Grammar Ghoul Challenge – combining the above painting, Saint Moritz, by Tamara de Lempicka with the word prompt:

Crust (noun):

A hardened layer, coating, or deposit on the surface of something soft