Nine drabbles of pain, misery, arrogance and horror by nine different authors based on one chilly photograph.
The plume of his breath in the January air lied to him, but he knew the truth.
His heart pushed the searing heat through his body. He was burning from the inside. “Release the heat,” his fever screamed.
He could see the fiery blue of the offending veins. They were the traitorous vehicles for the blood which burned him.
Steel, blessedly cold, cut easily. He peeled away the skin on his arm with a pleasurable frenzy.
Vein-like branches quickly gave up their sanguine heat. Blue soon gave way to grey.
Frozen veins, branching across his opened flesh, burned him nevermore.
It hunted me.
And for the better part of the chase, I was enthralled. Adrenaline pumped through my veins, keeping them hot. My muscles seared as I darted this way and that, ducking, leaping and rolling into the next place where I would wait. Wait for a breath, the crack of twigs underfoot, the flutter of a flock of birds frightened by my suitor, or a scent detected from upwind. They gave it away.
For a time it was quiet and no direction looked safe. I hesitated.
I felt its moist, warm breath on my neck and my veins froze.
Icy tendrils; you’d think they’d chill me, but no – they warm my very soul. The children of my children’s children, the progeny that will carry forth my breath cocooned in an impenetrable translucent sleeve. When this world thaws, my branches will spring free. They will bloom, spreading their lethal spore among others of my kind, killing their offspring, weakening each host. As they fail to mend, the frost will come again, and I will wait for the next thaw. When that day comes, I will stand alone, proud, the only of my kind – as it was always meant to be.
What the Frost Brings
I am the cold—not the winter’s chill, but the dark, seeping cold that settles within the bones of the living. As they shiver and doubt and fear, I grow stronger, burning their patience away to ash. When hardship gets harder, the flames go out and their food stores diminish, I take over, filling the void where hope once bloomed. I force their despair into violence until nothing stirs but my sweet mistress: Death. Oh, how divine her touch! I’ve laid waste to entire civilizations just to feel her embrace. So, heed the frost’s warning—Death is not far behind.
I travelled the world in search of you. They said that you were gone but I knew there were still places where we might talk; where for a few minutes at midnight I might look into your eyes, and smile.
Austria, Germany, the vast trackless forests of Norway. Five times I found you, hiding in the dark, bound to the old locales dotted around the world: cosmic pockets where the dead still dance.
It was a dream come true to watch you waltz under the stars. Then dawn broke, the dream ended and I died inside to be so alone.
Joseph A. Pinto
I have no magic left to revive you; you have gone cold at my feet. A time existed when I held you aloft, serenaded by the sun. We both know that day is no more. So into your wonderland, I follow one last time; your brittle boughs snap between my callous fingers. I find your pain an absent, infinite thing. Can you hear the ice crack; yes, I can hear your heart crack. Come spring, when the ground softens, I’ll dig you free again. For now, whisper to me your lost, blue-lipped solace. You have gone cold at my feet.
Deck The Lawn
They’re going to put the fucking lights and other shit on me again. I won’t allow it to happen. This ice is even too much weight for my branches to support.
It is dark when they come. Good for me, not for them. Before they have a chance to assault me, my icy branches take them down and apply a frosty guillotine to their necks. Their red blood gives the lawn a festive look, and the shock, still in their eyes, is better than any dangling orbs hanging on a tree.
Old fat Santa couldn’t have done a better job.
“Hard hearts in the making”
soft wintry voices say
innocence is for the taking
fiendish finger play
small bodies fearful, shiver
carrion blocks the light
black wings swoop and quiver
will spend life this night
“quickly now and hide your young ones”
dark howls fill night’s space
crystal snow a place to burrow
by dawn there’s little trace
scheming branches interlocking
cries both far and wide
the rumors say “death is walking”
beckoning from the other side
“Hard hearts foul in the making”
ice cold voices say
innocence is for the taking
while fiendish fingers play
Veins, veins. Ice in my veins.
Snowflakes flitting on my window, tapping, melting. So cold.
Ice in my veins.
My hands are numb. How fast will it travel, this ice flow, broken free from some frozen cellular hinterland?
Frozen fingers, numb nose, pressed against the glass. Waiting for my heart to glaciate. Warm heart, cold hands. Dead hands, deader heart.
“Stop looking out there. That is not you,” I mumble. The man next to me snorts, claws at his hair.
“That is outside. I am inside.”
Spider veins, glistening, luminescent. Blue veins, silver. Cadaverous flesh.
“Make me warm!”
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