The living room felt electrical and hazy. An old woman was standing in front of the sink, washing a chicken with comet and giving her horrible looks. The woman was pale, with the red cross symbol tattooed on her forehead. She couldn’t look away from the old woman, thinking that the chicken cleaner was a malicious force. It didn’t help that the sound of a tire being stripped clean was playing over and over again in the background like a broken record. This couldn’t be real. But the woman came closer, and she realized that the woman wasn’t malicious, but […]

Everything Changed, Part 4

The grocery store still squatted. But the shadows seemed slower, which told her that night was on its way. She thought to herself that she was telling time more efficiently, using the cues the world gave her rather than that device with hands that now seemed unpredictable and chaotic. She always avoided them. They made people age, albeit slowly, and they eventually ended up as moaning husks. She wondered how long it would be until she turned into one, but avoiding their damning gazes would help slow the sprouting of grey hairs and rotting skin. Her stomach rumbled in hunger. […]

Everything Changed, Part 2

She was standing on the pavement, vermin fleeing as she toyed with her wooden bat. It was quiet, but that wasn’t a good or a bad thing. Nope. Quiet just existed, only to be reinterpreted in moments of reflection on that never-ending lonely road. A gutted store squatted up ahead, but she didn’t look away at the shadows or the hurtful things they were doing. Things were being eaten in there. Or maimed. Or something violent was happening to them. The prospect of groceries inside made her mouth moist, but the thought of syringes dried it up again. The vaccine […]

Everything changed

Once firmly ensconced in the mausoleum, Zeke turned on his flashlight. They exhaled simultaneously.  It wasn’t clear whether or not anyone had followed or seen them, but for now it seemed like they were safe. Lamarr was in the center of the dingy room, her cries having settled to a simmer. Maybe she sensed the dangers lurking nearby. “That Lamarr?” Zeke asked. “I’d give her my coat, but it’s soaking wet.” “Me too.” Zeke looked around, looking more alert than scared. “Hmm, there has to be something to wrap her up in…” Tommy looked around without responding. The walls were […]

5:31am, part 12

“I’d say this report is pretty damning,” Zeke said, holding up the sixteen page document to the moonlight. It started to rain slightly and he shielded himself with his other hand. Tommy stood awkwardly off to the side, waiting for a chance to speak. “In what regard?” Milton asked, shifting his weight to one hip and glancing quickly at his henchmen. “Placing headless rabbits around town would amount to nothing more than a misdemeanor. You’ve overplayed your hand, son.” “I won’t be your son for much longer. You’ve repeatedly harassed my friend, Tommy. I’d say that amounts to a consistent […]

5:31am, part 11

Tommy was standing above Lamarr’s crib, thinking the worst and trying not to visualize it. Mom was staring down at the crib too, the headless rabbit that had been placed in the middle was making her avert her gaze every now and then. “Who could have done this?” she asked. “Bethany was a quiet baby, wouldn’t hurt a soul. We’re just a normal family. Why would anyone do this?” “L-, I mean, Bethany didn’t deserve this. I’ll get her back. I promise.” Mom became a christmas elf for a few seconds as her eyes lit up. After the few seconds […]

5:31am, part 10

Tommy had no choice but to believe his eyes as he stared at the screen. The email from Zhang read:   If Milton becomes president, I’ll kill myself. I can’t lose to that hack! Sincerely, Zhang   “Wow. Can you believe it? This is riveting stuff. Absolutely riveting!…” Zeke said. “Yeah. I had no idea that Zhang and Milton were Republicans. This changes everything.” “Something else is going on. Why would two obscure teachers from Middletown High run for president? It doesn’t make any sense!” Tommy found himself agreeing with Zeke, which made him a little concerned. But since these […]

5:31am, part 9

Zhang ushered everyone out of the classroom and slammed the door. “You have two hour to find the jars. After that, there will be no benefit to your grade!” he said, his muffled voice barely making it through the thick wood. “Well, do you think we should tackle this together?” Zeke said to Tommy. Zeke had always been one of those “vaguely a friend” types to him. Tommy liked the guy well enough, but didn’t have much in common with him. “Let’s do it. Maybe we should start with the other biology lab first. I could see Zhang thinking that’s […]

5:31am, part 8

Zhang was still scanning the room as Tommy took his seat. “I want everyone to take note of this historic day!” Zhang said, making his way to the closet where yesterday’s corpse had emerged. Something told Tommy that  Zhang had another equally horrific surprise in store. “I was able to pull some strings with the school’s donation board,” Zhang prattled on. “What we have today is something very special!” He pulled out an ornate looking sarcophagus, which Tommy thought to be at least sixteen feet. At that length, it seemed like some sort of formidable sea creature. He imagined it […]

5:31m, part 8

Tommy inwardly cursed the dark brown puddle growing around his feet. The beheaded rabbit just sat there, reclining against a container of imitation butter. Everything was fine, Tommy tried to reassure himself. But everything wasn’t fine! That pleasant slice of solitude and subsequent unconsciousness he experienced were the most delightful things in recent memory, and “look at me, I have no head” had to materialize and crash the party. Grogginess still clung to Tommy, but adrenaline was rapidly replacing it with alertness. He had to dispose of that headless furry sack before his parents and Lamarr came home! The solution […]

5:31am, part 6

It was only September 25th, and the local punks were already engaging in Halloween pranks. But decapitated rabbits? Tommy could never quite figure out why that was the chosen symbol for beezlebub’s once a year lollapalooza. He just shook his head and placed the still leaking rabbit into a hollowed out pumpkin sitting on the nearest porch. Tommy burst through the front door, excited. This was rather fortuitous timing. The babysitter was taking Lamarr for  her 1:30 stroll through the park. Both parents were trapped in their jobs, loving every second of it. Meanwhile, Tommy had the space all to […]

5:31am, part 5

Tommy’s heart was racing as his shaking hand moved closer to the chest of the corpse. “How did this guy bite the dust?” one of the students asked. There was laughter, followed by a few fevered whispers. “Excellent question, Terrance,” Zhang said. “But, if I gave you that answer right away, what would compel you to explore further? For instance, you would never know that he was a single father, ashamed of his circumstances. He liked to drink.” Zhang looked around the classroom expectantly. “Maybe he died of cirrhosis?!” another student guessed loudly, causing Tommy to jolt forward and stab […]

5:31am, part 4

The alarm went off like a blaring siren. Tommy vomited a little bit in his sleep before fully waking up. Looking over, he saw that the time was 5:31. Every morning he looked over and the clock read dutifully: 5:31. Making his way downstairs, Tommy found the kitchen to be quiet. Mom & Dad had left for work, and Lamarr–the nickname he had given his little sister–was cooing in her crib still. He grabbed a cold waffle from the fridge, stuffing it into his mouth as he made his way to her room. As Tommy entered, he caught whiff of a […]

5:31am, part 1