Category Archives: Strange Days Indeed

Blood Pupil (Hand Over The Girl new edit)

“Hand over the girl.”

I looked at the suit holding the gun and knew he was used to getting what he wanted. I sighed. “Its not going to happen.”

“Are you crazy? We have you outnumbered.”

“And your point is?..”

He looked me dead in the eye. “We can take her by force if we have to.”

“That’s not a good idea.”

He threw his head back. “Ha! And why not?”

“For every action there is a reaction. You are a ripple in the pond. Don’t turn it into a wave.”

“I hated school teachers as a kid. I hate them even worse now, so just give us the girl.”

“You can learn nothing from her. Leave her alone.”

“We just want to talk to her about what she saw.”

I looked at the thugs before me. There were three of them. Either they weren’t that worried over what she saw or they didn’t think they’d have any trouble out of a little girl and her runaway school teacher. “She didn’t see anything. Nobody called the cops. Live and let live.”

The leader of the three shook his head. “I’m sorry, the boss wants to see her just the same. Just to make sure.”

“I can’t let you take her.”

“Come on, teach. Be smart. Don’t make me shoot you.”

The gun in his hand, pointing directly at me, was starting to make me nervous. “You don’t understand.”

“So make me understand and maybe I’ll let you live.”

I noticed the other two suits laughed under their breath. Yeah, I didn’t believe it either.

“She can’t go outside,” I said. “Not yet anyway.”

“What? Is she grounded or something? Teacher, giving her after school lessons in the dark? Ha-ha!”

“No, she just likes it here in the dark.”

“Freaking perv. How many little girls you bring down here in this dark, damp basement?”

“I’m not a perv. I’m her teacher.”

“Not for long, you ain’t. Now, one last time, hand..over…the …girl.”

I sighed. We were never going to get through this unless I did as they asked. I glanced over my shoulder towards the darkness in the corner. Not even shadows invaded that space, but I knew that’s where she was.

“I’m sorry Elena. These men want to talk to you. I tried my best. I guess I’m not much good at being a protector.”

The lead suit grinned. “That’s better, teach. Now get her out of that corner.”

“Elena, it’s alright. You can come out and go with them. But just this one time, okay?”

“That’s right girly, come out and go with us.”

I tried to peer into the dark, wondering if she was coming or not. Nothing moved there, but I knew she waiting for further instruction.

“Remember what I taught you. Never for pleasure, always for survival, okay?”

The thug leader rolled his eyes. “Whatever, teach. Come on girl, we ain’t got all day. Earl, go over there and get her.”

One of the other gangsters, Earl I assume, took a quick, purposeful stride towards the corner. “Right, boss. I’m on it….Hey, what’s up with her eyes? Why is she freaking smiling like that…..Aaaaaaaa!”

His screams pierced the silence of the basement. There was a crunching sound as he vanished into the pitch black corner. A guttural growl issued from the dark and Earl’s screams seemed to rise a moment before being replaced by something that sounded like he was drowning. We could hear the gurgling in his throat.

“What the hell? Get her off of him!”

The leader shoved his other gun toting cronie towards the corner. The guy hesitat d, seriously afraid, but knew he had no choice. He bounded into the dark, his gun blazing.

“I told you she wants to stay in the dark,” I said.

The gunfire suddenly stopped. “Oh my god, boss! She has…. Aaaaaa!”

In anger the leader cracked me against the head with the butt of the gun. I knew it would draw blood, but I didn’t go down. I stood my ground as he charged to the rescue of his guys.

“I’m coming , hold on! I’m going to pump you full of lead, you little bitch!”

He came up short, raised his gun at the target he could barely see. He pulled the trigger firing off several rounds until there was nothing but clicks.

“What the shit? What..what the hell are you? I just emptied all my bullets into you!”

He tried to take a step back, all the while his finger still pulling the trigger of the now empty gun. A small hand reached out of the darkness. Long, thin fingers bent at odd angles, as if the bones had all grown out in different directions. They grasped his gun arm, wrapping around his biceps and pulled him back into the horrible dark, where even I could not witness his fate.

“No, get away from me! Why are you looking at me like that? Oh Mary, holy mother of Jesus, is that blood on your teeth? No, no, no!…… AaaaaAAA!”

I took a short step forward. Pulling out my handkerchief, I wiped the blood off my forehead where the gun handle had whacked me.

“Elena, don’t turn them. Survival only, remember?”

I approached the dark corner and held my hand out. There were unsettling noises coming from within. Cracking bones. Hungry slurping. Animalistic growls overshadowing the moans of the dying. There was a final crunch like someone setting a broken leg on the field of battle and then her hand reached out to grasp mine gently. It was a normal child hand. No long, thin fingers bent outwards in opposite ways. And as she emerged from the darkness, her dusty brown hair covering half her face, I smiled.

“That’s a good girl,” I said.

She squinted her dark eyes against the light from the basement bulbs. Small slices of sunlight filtered through boarded up casement windows, and I maneuvered her small frame around them.

“Come on, let’s get you away from the light.”

She held her arms up to me and I picked her up.

“Whoa, you sure are heavy after you’ve had breakfast….”

She lay her head over on my shoulder. I could smell the blood in her hair and on her clothes. Her little arms tightened around me and I thought to myself, one day I was going to miss this. Caring about someone. Protecting the innocent. Perhaps you wouldn’t understand, but she’s my blood pupil, not yours. I dare you to come between us…

2017 Paul D Aronson. All Rights Reserved.

Read the original dialogue only version here: Hand Over The Girl: Dialogue Prompt for Sunday 12 Feb

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Halfway House (short story 4K)

When I walk in my building, she is huddled in the back of the hallway, naked. Beaten and discarded, like a rag doll that nobody wants. I spy her right away, there in the darkness in the furthest corner, away from where the other tenants can see her. But I know she’s there. I can even smell her. My senses have become fine tuned over the years and there’s no mistaking the scent of brimstone and a fiery temperament.  I walk over to her and take the sweater off my shoulders, wrapping it around her. She looks up at me with eyes red tinged from the crying. Her pupils seem to implore me to help her. I take her hand and look at the wrist. She has the mark. And she has no one to turn to because of it.

“Mordecai said you’d help,” she barely manages to whisper.

Mordecai, an old friend, always sending me strays. What a guy.

“Come on,” I sigh and lift her up. I help her around to the staircase where I barely manage to navigate her to the third floor, apartment six. We probably look like a pair of junkies stumbling down the hallway. She is weak and her dead weight causes us to shuffle and stumble, but we finally make it into the safety of my apartment.

I sit her on the couch in the living room and go to turn up the thermostat. I casually glance out the window, and that’s when I see them standing in the shadows on the other side of the street. Two men in white-breasted suits. I have often wondered why they dress in such noticeable outfits if they expect not to be seen. But I guess maybe they want you to see them. They want you to be afraid. But I’m not afraid of them. I close the curtains and turn back to my new charge.

I take my sweater back and grab a blanket from the closet, which I promptly wrap around her. I notice her breathing is labored and her skin is quite pale. She’s going to need a doctor soon. The shock is just too great for her. It’s always like this for the new ones. The trauma of real life sets in quickly it seems.

“What’s your name?” I ask her.

“Sky,” she manages to whisper.

“Short name.”

“You wouldn’t be able to pronounce my real name.”

“You’d be surprised. But for now Sky will do. So…. you hungry?”

She looks at me strangely as if I’ve just asked her if her mom’s name is Bill.

“Food?” she asks.

I nod and get up to go to the kitchen. I open up a cabinet. Cans of soup, peaches, apple sauce… yes, that’s it, applesauce. I take a can down and open it. I grab a spoon and carry her very light dinner into the living room for her. She is still on the couch, has hardly moved an inch.

“Here you go.” I hand her the can and spoon. She looks at both as if she doesn’t know which one she wants to eat. Finally, she dips the spoon into the can and brings some of it out. She tastes it cautiously and then swallows it down.

I smile. The new ones always like applesauce. But she eats it too quickly. Soon she begins to cough and choke on the mixture. I pat her on the back and that seems to help a little. But I notice her back is unusually warm. I remove the blanket from her shoulders and take a closer look at her back. She is bleeding, and pretty badly too. I don’t know why I didn’t notice it earlier.

“I’m going to have to get you a doctor.” I pull out my cell and speed dial my friend Carl. He’s a good doctor and doesn’t ask questions.

As I wait for him to pick up the line, the girl drops the can of applesauce and slumps over, sliding off the couch and to the floor.

“Shit,” I exclaim, just as Carl’s voice comes on the line.

“Hello,” his voice says somewhat sleepily though it’s early afternoon.

I get straight to the point. “Carl, I have another one I need you to look at.”

“I’m on the way,” he replies and I hang up on him, already moving to the prone figure of Sky on the floor.

I don’t touch her. I just leave her there in the floor. I don’t even so much as check for a pulse. Healing is not my area of expertise. I am more into the adjustment end of things. I should have an ADJUSTMENT DEPT sign hanging on my door.

The girl shudders, a quick spasm. It startles me and I really want to help, but I know the rules. Wait for the doc. I leave her in the floor and busy myself with the task of preparing the spare bedroom. She is going to need a place to sleep and recuperate.

I finish changing the bed sheets when the knock comes at the door. One knock, then three, and one again. It is the doctor’s code. I go back to the living room and to the front door. When I open it Carl doesn’t say a word in greeting and neither do I. We are beyond such casual formalities.

“That the one?” he asks, looking at the motionless half naked figure on my floor.

“Yeah. She has some serious back lacerations, who knows what else.”

“I’ll need you to make me a cold compress,” he says, as if I’d just told him she has a simple fever. But I do as I’m told and go into the kitchen to prepare what he needs. It doesn’t take me long and soon I’m back in the living room with doctor and patient.

Carl hasn’t wasted much time in the short period I’ve been out of the room. The girl is back on the couch, lying on her stomach and he’s already begun examining her naked, bloody back. I notice her bare skin is of a perfect complexion and unblemished by beauty marks of any kind. The only marks are the wounds just below her shoulder blades. It looks like someone has tried to cut the bones right out of her back.

“Damn,” I exclaim quietly.

Carl looks up at me, a look of worry on his face. “Yeah, this one is pretty bad. It’s been some time since I’ve seen one like this.”

“She must have been out there by herself a long time,” I suggest.

He nods in agreement before returning to his examination. He reaches in his medicine bag and pulls out a small jar. He opens it up and applies a salve like substance to her wounds.

“Generally, this works pretty good,” he explains, “but I think she’s going to need a little more time to heal and rest.” He puts the lid on and closes up the jar, putting it back in his bag. “Are you going to be able to care for her?”

“I don’t know, Carl. This is a halfway house, not a hospital.”

He nods. “Well, if we have to move her we will, but I’d rather she be stabilized and healed before she’s out there with the dogs.”

“She’s already been out there with the dogs,” I reason.

“That’s true, but she didn’t know what the dogs were then. We want her to know what’s out there before we put her out on her own.”

“Okay, I’ll do the best I can. She can stay here however long it takes.”

“You can always call Nicodemus if you need to,” Carl suggests warily. “He’ll take care of her.”

“Nicodemus is a lecher. He would use her and then throw her back out there.”

“True, but she would be out of your hands and not your responsibility.”

“I don’t think I’ll be calling Nicodemus.”

“Good,” he smiles. “Well, I think that’s it for her back wounds there, let’s get her in the bedroom so she can rest.”

I go to the hall closet and get a new blanket, which we lay out beside the couch. Ever so gently we lift and move her onto it. For the most part she is unconscious, but I believe I hear her whisper “no”. I don’t think it is directed towards us though. I imagine she is in the throes of a bad dream. Hell, she doesn’t even know the half of it.

For hours she doesn’t stir in the bed. She just lies there naked, curled up in a fetal position, as if she’s a child resting in the womb. In a way that isn’t too far off the mark. I step in and check on her every so often, but I know she’ll rest for some time. The salve Carl uses seems to heal well enough, but it sometimes makes you sleep for days on end.

My doctor friend waits around for several hours just to make sure she is going to be okay, and then he too leaves. He doesn’t say goodbye. He knows he’ll be hearing from me again soon. No need saying goodbye when you are just going to say hello again.

I watch television as she sleeps. Surfing through the channels I am always surprised there really isn’t anything worth watching. Between “Nobody Has Any Frigging Talent” and reality shows that look remarkably like plastic supermodels masquerading as real people, I am stupefied over what passes as entertainment. If we are going to have reality TV, why not show us the way it truly is? Pre-teen boys shooting their neighbor for those new Nikes he saw him wearing; a young woman prostituting herself because her boyfriend is too lazy to get a real job; a man OD’s when in a drug induced stupor he accidentally shoots an air pocket into his veins. Another young woman shows up naked and bleeding at an apartment complex and no one notices. This is real life, not who is sleeping with who in a fully furnished house none of the occupants had to work their fingers to the bone to afford. This is why I don’t watch TV.

That and the fact the white suits use it to ask for money to further their cause. They think they have us fooled, standing there in their pulpit, quoting scriptures between pleas for donations. They would like us to think the money is for His work, but they aren’t really affiliated with Him at all. It all goes to hunting us down.

I turn it to the religious channel just to see what they have to say today. There is a man preaching. What he says makes sense. Forgiveness. Redemption. All the good stuff, and then a static flare spreads across the screen. The picture goes away replaced by swirling images of bodies entwined. Not in ecstasy but agony. They writhe and twist as if tortured, mouths open trying to scream but nothing comes out. It doesn’t take one of the prophets to tell me it’s a transmission from someone’s perception of hell. Then the screen blanks out again and returns focused on the street outside the apartment. The two white suits who were there earlier are now joined by a third. The third one grins from the TV screen.

“Why don’t you just send her on down, Rachel? We won’t hurt her, promise.”

He reminds me of a used car salesman, or some guy in a bar who looks my way and sees a big flashing neon sign that says TITS AVAILABLE HERE.

“Yeah right, pervert,” I reply.

“You know we’ll get her eventually. We always do,” he says with a lecherous gleam in his eye. “You know as well I do she can’t stay there forever. Eventually you’ll put her out and we’ll be there to get her. You could save yourself some trouble and just put her out now.”

“Why do you want her so bad? Did you run out of altar boys this week?”

“Oh that was funny. Remind me to laugh when I peel the flesh off your bones and…”

“Oh save it for the bleeding choir indivisible, why don’t you?”

Click! I turn off the television. I know this will go nowhere – just insults after insults hurled at each other. And you think the battle of the sexes is bad.

I get up and go to the window. Yes, all three of them are out there leaning against a storefront wall across the street. They all wave as if signaling a long lost friend. I give them the finger. They always hate the “damn you” connotation that applies.

I head for the bedroom to check on my charge and she still sleeps peacefully. She doesn’t even know anyone has been fighting over her. In fact she doesn’t know much at all. I’m going to have to teach her, and fast.

I am distracted by a knock at the door. I know who it is before I even answer it. Nicholas, the boy from the apartment down the hall. He stops by at least once a day whenever I’m home. I think he must watch my door to see if I come and go. Most people would find this creepy, but if you knew the boy you would find it endearing. I mean it’s no secret he has a crush. I saw it in his eyes the first I met him, and though this may sound bad of me, I sometimes use that to my advantage.

I open the door. “Hi Nicky,” I say. He likes the pet name I’ve given him, makes him blush every time.

“Hi Rach,” he grins. His baby blue eyes are wide and innocent. He is much like the girl recuperating in my bed, so far untouched by the madness of the world we live. He’s only sixteen, but his good looks are already a hit with the girls I’m sure. If I was younger and of a different preference I would be tempted to be smitten with him myself. But I have this thing with dating guys. I don’t. Maybe it’s the fact I can always tell what the male of the species is thinking. It kind of takes the mystery out of the evening when you know all they are working for is to find out if you wear panties or thong, or if that’s your natural hair color. Nicky isn’t like that though, thank heavens or whoever. Once, about two weeks ago I caught him thinking of kissing me. I guess that wouldn’t be too unpleasant, but I don’t want him getting anymore attached to me than he already is.

“Hey, I was heading out to the store,” he says. “Can I get you anything?”

“I was thinking of doing that myself, Nicky. Must have read my mind.”

“Cool! We could go together!”

“Well, actually I have company and don’t want to leave them by themselves.”

His smile fades for a minute. I know what he thinks. That I have a man over. But then he grins again. “One of them wild nights, huh?”

“No, it’s not like that,” I laugh. “Just a friend.”

“Ahhh,” he says, giving me a wink. “Well, hey I can pick some stuff up for ya at the store. What do you want?”

“Just some milk and applesauce.”

“I should have known. What do you do with all that applesauce anyway, take a bath in it?”

“Now that’s an idea,” I tease, and for a brief moment I catch an image from his head of me naked in a tub of applesauce. So much for innocence.

I watch Nicky from the window as he heads down the street. I notice the men in white are watching him too. One of them detaches himself from the others and begins to follow the boy discretely. In the old days I would have panicked, thinking they were going to hurt him, but I know better now. They have no real interest in anyone other than those in the halfway house. They know Nick is harmless and no threat to them. Still, they like to keep tabs on people I come in contact with. Maybe they think I will secretly call out for reinforcements.

I turn from the window and go to check out my guest. She has managed to kick off the covers and I gently put them back over her, tucking her in. She stirs lightly and murmurs something that sounds like “Father.”

I touch my hand to her cheek. Her skin is so soft and I find myself wishing to lie beside her. To just curl up next to her and forget the world outside. Would she understand? Or would she recoil in shock or shame, already jaded by this world to believe such intimacy was purely a flawed human thing? My fingers linger on her skin a little longer and I find myself bending over top of her sleeping form, drawing myself down to kiss her cheek.

My thoughts are interrupted by the squeal of tires. No not yet, I think. Please not yet. I forget my impossible dreams of affection and jump to my feet. Returning to the living room I take a look out the window. A car is stopped in the middle of the road. The careless driver almost hit a little old lady pushing a grocery cart across the road. I breathe a sigh of relief. There for a minute I believed it was time’s up for Nicky. One of the hardest parts of being who I am is knowing how someone is going to die. I don’t know when. He could very well live to a ripe old age before it happens, or his end could come tomorrow for all we know. It is a shame that my foresight doesn’t extend far enough out of the shadows to give me all the details.

Nicky arrives with the milk and applesauce fifteen minutes later. I let him in and he stands in the living room as I go to get him some money.

“Whoa, did you spill some ketchup?” he exclaims.

I return with the money and see he is looking at a spot on the couch that I missed while cleaning up after my guest. “Yes, dropped the whole bottle,” I lie.

“I get sloppy with my hamburgers too. Mom won’t even let me eat on the couch anymore.”

I smile and hand him the money for my groceries. He looks at it for a moment, and then hands it back. “You know what? Just keep it,” he says.

“No Nicky, I can’t let you buy my stuff for me. You probably work hard for your allowance.”

“Allowance? Did you know how many rocks I had to sell to get that?”

I know he is playing. He doesn’t do that kind of thing, still I act shocked so he will not know I can read his every thought. “Nicky!”

He grins real big and points his finger at me. “Ha, gotcha!”

“You shouldn’t joke about such things,” I mildly admonish him.

“Yeah I know, but it’s good to see that look on your face every now and then. Hey, could I use your bathroom?”

“Sure go ahead.”

As he heads off down the hall, I take a peek into his own grocery bag. Sodas, bread, his mother’s medicine. I drop the money down in there. He can fuss at me later.

I am cleaning the spot on the couch when he screams. It is not a cry of terror, but one of shocked surprise. I run towards the restroom and come to a complete stop in the hallway. “Oh no,” I whisper.

Nicky is standing there in the bathroom doorway his jaw hanging open. In front of him stands my guest, completely naked. She has obviously awakened and healed enough to start exploring her surroundings. This however is not a good time.

I open the hall closet and pull down a sheet to wrap around her. As I approach them, Nicky turns his eyes from her perfectly alluring form to look at me. “Why didn’t you tell me it was this kind of company?” he stammers.

“Because I knew your tongue would fall out of your head,” I explain, wrapping her in the sheet and steering her back into the bedroom. “Go wait in the living room while I put my sister back to bed. She’s sick.”

“Your sister?”

“Yes, now go in the living room. I’ll only be a minute.”

He grudgingly obeys, and I close the bedroom door behind me, so he won’t try to ogle my guest any further.

“We really need to get you some clothes before you go wandering around too much,” I tell her.

She sits down on the edge of the bed and is looking at me with admiration. “You healed me.”

“No, not me. A friend.”

“You’re not my friend?”

“No, I’m not. I’m just here to help you make the transition.”

“Transition from what?”

“All in good time. You will remember gradually. Until then we have to get you prepared.”

“Prepared for what?”

“Survival.”

I open up the bedroom closet and start rifling through my clothes. “You are a little smaller than me, but hopefully I can find something that won’t swallow you up too much.”

She gets up and comes up behind me. I can feel her breath on my neck. Her close proximity is intoxicating. I hate this. Why does she have to be so beautiful?

“Here, you find something you like,” I stammer. “I have to go explain you to Nicky.”

She is unaware of the effect she has on me. She’ll soon discover she will have that affect on everyone until she learns to hide what she’s been blessed with. These new ones just seem to drip sexuality so much you want to dip them in mud to remove some of that glamour. Problem is I happen to like mud, too.

I leave her to browse my wardrobe while I go to tell Nicky some lie to get him to go home.

“I didn’t know you had a sister,” Nicky says when I tell him she’ll be visiting for a few days. “And she’s hot too!”

“Down boy,” I tell him. “She’s not ready for anyone to be pawing all over her. She had an accident.”

“What happened?”

“She fell.”

“From where?”

“A great height. But I think she’ll be okay.”

“She looks fine to me,” he grins.

“Come on Nicky, please don’t turn out like every other guy I know.”

“I’m sorry, Rach. It’s just ..well…it’s not every day you see a naked girl standing in front of you. It does something to you.”

Tell me about it.

 “Well, she’s not acting like herself. I think the fall dazed her.” I put my hand on his shoulder. “So please behave.”

He sits up straight. I’m not sure if its from what I’ve said or the fact I actually touched him. “No problem,” he says.

“Nicky, you’re going to have to leave us girls to talk, but you can come back tomorrow and visit.”

“Yeah, maybe your sister will be feeling better.”

“Yes, I’m sure she will be.”

He reluctantly gets up, grabs his grocery bag, and walks slowly for the door. He looks almost dejected that he can’t stay. Boys will be boys, I guess.

“Nicky,” I say and he stops. “Thank you for getting my groceries for me.”

This brightens him up a little and he smiles brightly. “Anything for you. Rachel.”

As he leaves, with the door closing behind him, an image comes to me. Nicky hit by a car, his body doing somersaults before crashing down on the vehicle’s windshield. I want to yank back open the door and take him into my arms to protect him somehow. But I know it’s not going to happen today. Still it will happen eventually and that makes me mourn the frailties of mortality.

I feel something stir behind me. My guest has come into the room. “Did he leave?” she asks.

“Yes, he’s gone.”

“He’s going to die, isn’t he?”

“They all do eventually,” I tell her.

“But we don’t?”

“No.”

“Why is that?”

I hesitate for a moment not sure of how much to tell her. “Because we’re angels,” I finally say.

She seems to think on this a moment, and the look on her face tells me she doesn’t find that idea as preposterous as it seems. I know in time she will remember things I would just as soon forget. But for now she appears to accept the one basic truth: We were in heaven, now we’re in hell.

“Halfway House” 2017 Paul D Aronson. 

Are You Gonna Eat That? (Short story)

 “Are you gonna eat that?” she asks. 

 I look down at my plate. “Nah, too much gristle,” I reply, pushing it away from me.

 She rolls her eyes. “I’ll take it then, Mr. Picky-Eater. No sense letting it go to waste.”

 My wife, the garbage disposal. I shake my head. “Hell woman, you’ll eat anything.”

 She grins. “You know it. To hell with starving third world countries, I’ll eat it myself.” Taking a bite, she licks her lips happily. “Damn, this is good. What’s wrong with you?”

 “I don’t like Chinese food too much.”

 “And you don’t like Mexican, either. I’m surprised you don’t starve to death.”

 “Yeah, that will be the day,” I reply. I reach across the table for a plate that’s laden with all meat patties. “I just prefer good old American cuisine.” I bite into one of the patties. It’s a little raw but still delicious.

 She sighs. “Well at least you don’t cook all the flavor out of them.”

 We eat in silence for a few minutes. The only sound is the noise of us chewing our food. Finally she breaks the silence.

 “I saw Patricia at the store the other day.”

 “How’s she doing?”

 “She looked a little pale to me, but she’s gaining weight she says. Her doctor told her she was getting fat. She said she got so mad she could have bitten his head off.”

 I laughed out loud. “Knowing her, she probably did.”

 She laughs with me. “Yeah, she’s got a big mouth on her, we’ve known that.”

 “Open mouth, insert foot. Anyone’s foot.”

 This sets my wife to laughing so hard that she has to wait before putting more food in her mouth.

 “So, how are she and Bill doing?” I ask.

 “She said Bill’s been sick. Food poisoning or some such.”

 “Oh, that sucks.”

 “Yeah.” She takes another bite of her food, talking all the while. “I invited them over for dinner sometime. She said they might do that. I told them we have plenty to eat because you eat like a bird.”

 “Yeah, I love birds,” I tease.

 She tries to laugh but ends up choking on her food a little.

 “Slow it down,” I tell her.

 “Can’t help it,” she replies, after clearing her throat. She reaches across the table for another leg and thigh.

 “I’ll leave you the breast,” she says with a wink.

 “Well, that’s mighty thoughtful of you.” I pick up the breast and take a big bite. “Mmm..mm, there’s nothing better tasting than this right here. You can have the leg all you want, it’s nothing compared to the white meat.”

 My wife just smiles and continues eating. She’s chewing every bit of meat off that leg.

“So honey, what are we going to do with the head?” I ask.

She sets the leg bone down and picks up the thigh, casually wiping the blood off her chin. On the table, a woman’s lifeless face, frozen in a silent scream, stares back at us like a zombie’s TV dinner.

 

 Paul D Aronson. All Rights Reserved.

Morgan’s Plague

​MORGAN’S PLAGUE

    When I came out of the forest clearing into the morning sun, the first thing I noticed was the quiet and absence of people. An RV was parked by a camping spot, but I didn’t see anyone about. Another vehicle, one they used to call a ute, sat alongside the dirt road that led away from the campsites back to the main road and civilization. To break the silence, I shouted a greeting and was answered by the stillness of the day. I thought I heard the sound of birds in the distance somewhere, but I wondered if that was just my imagination, wishing for some other sound besides my own breathing. 

My stomach growled. It had been awhile since I’d eaten.I had run into the woods days ago. I still don’t know why. One minute there was a man talking to me, and then he started choking. I got scared and ran. I didn’t want to be blamed for whatever was happening to him. Whatever his problem was, it seemed to be contagious, because others I slipped past on my way to escape, were also choking, their faces pale and sickly. But now I didn’t see anyone, sick or otherwise. Just the RV in front of me, and common sense told me that where there’s a campsite, there’s generally food. I approached the vehicle cautiously, thinking any minute someone would come out and tell me to get lost. But no one did. And by the time I reached the side, I realized no one was there. The RV had been left abandoned. 

   The door was left open, and as I scrambled up the steps to go inside, I heard something. Voices. I hesitated, suddenly overcome with fear. I listened closely to hear the conversation. It was one-sided, a single desperate voice saying something about an airborne plague affecting the population. I went deeper into the camper in search of the voice’s source, and as I came into a small kitchen area, I found it. A small black and white TV, mounted under a cabinet. Still powered, the image that crackled and flickered was a man in a stained suit looking like he was close to death himself.

   “I don’t think there is an antidote,” he was telling the camera. “If there is, only government officials have it, if in fact they survived the outbreak.” He coughed, and even in black and white I could see he was bringing up blood. “I don’t know if anybody is left, but if someone is out there, I’m at the Channel Ten Studios in Melbourne. Don’t come for me. Everyone here is beyond help. Head for the bush. Maybe the plague can’t survive it out there either.” He looked about ready to cry. “Listen. No one is coming. The British Isles are infected. America suffers the same fate. The plague is highly contagious and passes from person to person. Get out of the cities, flee the towns. Get as far away as you can.” He sighed heavily. “Maybe the plague will lose strength and die out eventually. Until then, stay away from other people.Families, do not stay together! It is certain death. Shit,the cadgers finally did it. Thanks a lot, Mr. Prime Minister.”

   I continued to stare at the TV. The man was just rambling now, verbally blasting government and politics for the deadly plague that seemed to have infected the world. But I felt fine. Why hadn’t I been affected? Was it because I had fled to the forest when I saw people getting sick? My leg began itching and for a brief moment I panicked, thinking the plague was upon me as well. I scratched my leg and prayed it was just that I hadn’t had a bath in a few days. I really needed to wash and get me some brekkie.

   I left the TV with its black and white newsreader no longer blaming the Australian government, but the aborigines and New Zealand. I wandered through the RV looking for something to eat. There was a small refrigerator, but I couldn’t get it open. The owners had put a lock on it, maybe to keep intruders like me out of their grub.

   Under a bed toward the rear of the camper, I found an opened box of bickies. They were dry, but biscuits are biscuits. I ate them quick, just glad to have something to eat. Finishing off the box, I went outside to catch some air and decide what to do next. There was a creek several yards from the RV and I headed for it. The water was sparkling and clear. I didn’t care if it was infected, it still looked cleaner than I felt.  I stepped halfway into the creek and it felt so good around my legs that I sat right down in the middle,and began to splash the water over my head. The water was cool, and I found myself shouting for joy, it felt so refreshing. I didn’t care if anyone heard me. I’d already come to the conclusion I was the only living soul in the vicinity.

   After my creek bath, I decided to head back to the RV as it looked like it might rain. The camper would provide good shelter. The newsreader was still at it, except now he had gotten personal. Racked by guilt and the knowledge that he was going to die soon, he was apologizing to everybody he had ever known. “I was a bad husband, I know I was,” he was saying.

   Why is it when a man gets to the end of his life he finally wakes up to all the horrible things he’s done? If he would have tried to live right the first time we probably wouldn’t even have this plague. I can only imagine that the disease was not only born of pathogens but greed as well.

   The man had stopped his apologies and was reading from something on his desk. “This just in from Gippsland..” He looked up and rolled his eyes. “Yeah right, like there’s anything left in Gippsland.” He laughed under his breath and I realized he was starting to lose it. Any minute now he would be a babbling idiot.

   I decided I would lie down and take a nap. Despite his going mad, the man’s voice soothed me somehow, and so I just lay there on the floor, curled up in a ball, and went to sleep with the sound of his quiet madness in my ear. A short time later,  I awoke to the sound of screaming. Startled out of my sleep, I yelped in surprise, before realizing it was just the yob on the TV again.

   “You bastards!” he screamed. “You really did it this time, didn’t you?! Hey, you doing anything this weekend, let’s make a plague. Oh yeah, make sure it’s passed from person to person. And let’s make it so bad victims tear their own flesh off like mad dogs!”

   I have to admit he was acting a bit rabid at this point. I found myself wishing someone would step in and put a bullet to his head. Anything to end his madness and misery. He let out a loud mad laugh and then lapsed into a sigh of silence. When he finally looked back up into the camera, he seemed calmer.

   “You know what’s funny? They named this thing, Morgan’s Plague, after the notoriously brutal bushwhacker Mad Dog Morgan. But get this is, here’s the funny part. It doesn’t even affect dogs.” He laughed. “After all our superiority, all the advances in technology, all the brilliant world thinkers, our own pets outlive us.”

   I shook my head sadly. After all, he was right, the world had brought this on itself. Mankind had forgotten the simple things, and strived to be its own God. I wanted to feel some great sympathy for this man and his world, but all I could offer was a small whimper. And as I brought my hind leg up to scratch behind my ear, the TV went out, its internal battery finally running out of juice.

Story by Paul D Aronson. First draft 2008. Final draft. 2016. All Rights Reserved. 
   

   

Judgement: By Accident Or Design

“Judgment: By Accident or Design”

   I should be dead. The car hit me head on as I was crossing the street. The impact was sudden, slamming like a jolt that wakes one up from a dream, and then I’m in the air, spinning up and over the hood, across the windshield that shatters under my weight.

   The concrete seems so cold, though it’s in the middle of July. I know this because the sun is so high and beating on the pavement. It feels strange laying here on my back, prone in the street. I know the car has stopped and I turn my head to look for it. The car door opens and a man gets out. There is blood on his forehead where the glass exploded inwards to litter the dashboard and his face.

   He’s screaming, “Oh my God, somebody help! I have hit someone.” I try to tell him I think I’m going to be okay, but I can’t move. I can’t force my limbs to react to my brain’s command. It’s as if body and mind are operating on different levels. I concentrate. I force them back together. For a moment I wonder if this is how it is when people die, the body and spirit separating, drifting from one another. I close my eyes and tell them to come back. Suddenly I am whole again and those thoughts are forgotten.

   I gasp for air, choking in my dry throat as if I’d just taken a deep breath of foul smoke. I roll over coughing and I bring something up from my stomach. It’s blood. I must be bleeding inside. I get to my hands and knees, watching the blood drip from my lips onto the pavement. It has an unusual taste and I find I don’t like it much.

   The screaming man has reached me, but he hesitates to help. He doesn’t know what to do, he is in shock. He just ran over a man in the street.

   “Oh God, I’m sorry, mister,” he cries. “I didn’t see you.”

   I want to tell him it’s all right, but I don’t know what happened. Did I step in front of him? Was I just crossing the street and he failed to see me? I try to remember what was going on before the collision of steel and bone, and I can’t do it. It’s as if some of my memory has been erased on impact. I feel like something has been taken from me and I want to tell the screaming man to give it back.

   I manage to get to my feet, standing shakily. A crowd has gathered, most of them muttering in astonishment to themselves. None of them believe I could have survived that accident, much less stand. I go to brush the dirt off my clothes and realize that I am naked. Strangely, I am not ashamed, but still I look around me, trying to find where my clothes may have gone. Was the impact so hard it tore them right off? Impossible. Had I been naked, wandering the street in broad daylight, maybe drugged out of my mind, until the crash? No, I don’t think so. My body can’t tolerate drugs or alcohol.

   A man comes forth from the crowd with a long coat, and he covers me up, but not before I notice a group of women staring at my nakedness. I can almost hear their thoughts; feel their hearts racing in their chests. One of them has louder thoughts than the others. They are lustful and lascivious. She will go home to her husband tonight and make love to him for hours thinking of the naked man in the street. She’ll think of my perfect body, my tanned hairless chest, muscled biceps rippling, clutching for her, my manhood thrusting deep inside her as she moans her surrender.

   I shake these thoughts, her thoughts, from my head and try to thank the man who has given me his coat. The words that come out of my mouth are garbled, as if I haven’t talked until now. “Tank youth” it sounds like.

   The guy who hit me is still hysterical. By now others are trying to calm him, to reassure him there are no major injuries to my person. “Look, he’s okay,” they try to tell him. I don’t agree with that assessment much, but I can’t find anything wrong with me either. At worst, I am moving in a fog, as if I have to adjust to getting used to my body again. I look at the man, and he peers at me from his frantic eyes. He knows I should be dead. I can even hear it in his thoughts. He doesn’t believe this is happening to him.

   He steps forward and I know he’s going to touch me just to convince his own mind that I’m real. He thinks I may be a ghost, and he looks back at his car just to makes sure my body really isn’t trapped beneath it, dead and lifeless. But my body is not under his car. I am here right in front of him. Body and spirit are perfectly one. I feel complete, but confused. But, I know I am alive and I want to shout it. Before I can though, he touches me. And he begins to scream again.

   He tears away from me to run back to his car. He wants to get away. He has realized what he has done. Seen the sheer cruelty of it. I felt his sickness when he touched my skin and I nearly retched. I fight the waves of revulsion, the urge to throw up in the street. He knows it’s over. He’s been caught. And though he’s not been judged yet, he has judged himself and wants to flee from the horror.

   He’s trying to start the car. He wants to drive far from here. His thoughts are clear to me, as if we are making conversation in my head. You know what I’ve done, the mental image says. Yes, I agree. Don’t show them please, he begs. I have a wife and kids.

   I shut my eyes, knowing I can’t give him that. I am incapable of much mercy under these circumstances. And I wonder if it’s by accident or design that I was the one he hit in the street. Was there a purpose in this meeting? A higher power directing our paths until we collided?

   I surge forward past the people, moving towards his car. He can’t start it. It sputters, trying to turn over, but it won’t. No, no, no, his thoughts cry, and I feel his fear. He is afraid of me and what I know.

   The crowd has turned to watch me. There are whispered voices, “what is he doing?’ or “did anyone see him get hit? He shouldn’t be walking after something like that.”

   I put my hand on the trunk of the car to steady myself. The world is starting to spin around me, the thoughts of all these people closing in, some of them not even thinking of this moment, but of other things. Some good. Some bad, but all loud and trying to pound into my brain. Then above all the other voices, a small whimper comes to me as if from a darkened room. Help me, it says.

It’s tiny and helpless like a child, and I turn to the crowd seeking its source. I can’t pinpoint the direction through all the other thoughts. I see no children, except a little girl holding her mother’s hand standing on the curb. She smiles at me, it’s not her.

   The car throbs beneath my leaning hand, the trunk vibrating as if it has a heartbeat of its own. Has he managed to start the car? No, he has gotten out of the car. He’s backing away from it, as if it’s a rabid dog prepared to lunge at him.

   I pass my finger over the trunk lid and it clicks. The hood pops open and the man falls to his knees weeping. People have come closer, wanting to see what is in the trunk. Do I show them? Do I even dare? I reach my hand inside and another hand, much smaller than mine, clutches it. I pull the child from the trunk. There are gasps and frantic whispers from the crowd.

   “It’s a little boy,” says someone in astonishment. “He had a kid in the trunk,” angrily yells another, until suddenly everyone is talking among themselves, some dialing numbers on their cell phones, wanting to tell others what they have been witness to. Someone grabs the weeping man. He struggles in their grip. I fear they are going to kill him. Maybe to most it would seem like a fitting punishment for what he’s done, but still it is wrong. It is not for them to judge.

Nor is it my job either. I am simply here to read the minds of the wicked. To feel the thoughts most wish to remain hidden and bring that darkness into the light, so it may be seen. I point to him and the world comes to a halt. There is no movement. The crowd is still. No one even sways. No one breathes. They are as storefront mannequins on display.

   I pass by them on my way to the man. Even their thoughts are frozen; the only whisper in my head is his lone voice saying he’s sorry.

   “I saw him playing,” he says. “And I wanted him.” I know this is not the first time. There have been others. And my heart weighs heavy thinking of the families of the disappeared.

   “Tell me,” I command, and his thoughts let loose everything he has done. I can’t feel sorry for him. It is not in my power to forgive. He is a bad person. And he must pay for his crimes. A smaller part of me, maybe that part that exists within every human frame, wants to kill him with my bare hands. I want to take every rage of every parent of every child he’s taken and pour it out on him ten fold. But I know that is not the way.

   I touch his forehead with my finger and mark him with an ‘X’. Others can’t see it but he will know it’s there, and eventually when his time comes, the punishment will be severe and everlasting. I do not wish to think of the horrors and torture that await this man. I turn from him, ignoring his pleas.

   The world starts up again. People breathe, they move. They grab hold of the man tighter. Some women are looking after the boy. I hear sirens drawing near. They will arrest him and he will confess everything. He knows now the punishment for unconfessed sins.

   I walk from the crowd unnoticed, for they are no longer aware of my presence. All they’ll remember is there was an accident. A man hit someone with their car. What happened to the person who got hit? No one knows. Maybe he was taken to a hospital. No, he didn’t get up and walk away; you must be imagining things, honey.

   I look to the little girl with her mother standing on the curb. I put my finger to my lips. She smiles, running an imaginary zipper across her lips and waves goodbye. It sometimes takes the eyes of a child to see the Hand of God in things.

   The boy will be okay. It will be in the papers. The accident that caused a child killer to be apprehended by bystanders and police. They won’t mention me. No one will remember.

   In the beginning, I thought I was dead. That I was a ghost wandering through the world. But I’m not. I live, I breathe. I am seen and unseen. I am believed and doubted. Desired and feared. I am the Lord’s angel and I prepare the way for his judgment…

“Judgement: By Accident Or Design” by Paul D Aronson. All Rights Reserved.

The Aliens Have Landed

The Aliens Have Landed

 The night the aliens landed I was roused from my sleep by a loud knock on my door. Coming out of a peaceful dream, I was plunged into chaos and confusion. The pounding was urgent, rapid, and I knew if I didn’t answer the summons my door might just get kicked in by whoever had come to visit at such a late hour. So I jumped out of bed, glancing first at my beloved Marta to make sure I didn’t wake her beautiful slumbering form, slipped into a robe, and went downstairs to get the door.

 Two agents stood on the porch. I knew they were from the agency because they looked near identical: hair combed the same way and of the same length, identical eye color and cheekbones, build and clothing, even down to the way they both stood as if on inspection drill.

 “Lt. Keck?” one of them asked.

 “Yes, I’m Keck.”

 “Your presence is requested at Zero Hour.”

 That’s all he had to say. Zero Hour, unknown to the public, was a secret military base whose express purpose was to contain, interrogate, and possibly house alien life forms. Extraterrestrials, if you prefer, who may one day be captured or found. So far none had. A summons to Zero Hour could only mean one thing. We found something from outer space.

 The drive to the base didn’t take long, but it did afford me a little time to ponder on what may have happened. Perhaps a ship had crashed in a sparsely populated area and been secured before anyone noticed anything strange. Or maybe our government had had an alien held captive for some time, and had been shuttling it from base to base for matters of national security.

 Either way, my presence had been requested I assume because of my previous experience in decoding the satellite signals we had picked up two years ago from deep space; signals that had told us the aliens were on the way and soon to be among us. My other investigative experiences had made me the official standby translator and interrogator, if such a thing were ever needed. Looks like it was…

 If the two agents had been told not to tell me anything, they did their job well, for they were silent the whole trip. My change from robe to agency uniform had apparently silenced them as well, for I barely heard them breathing. That was okay with me, as it gave me time to think and plan out in my head what questions to ask an extraterrestrial. I had mulled on these things since adulthood, planning out the perfect line of questioning, but now that the time of seeing an alien face to face was here, my mind suddenly went into confusion instead of conversation.

 Of course this happened to me with Marta as well. Especially whenever she asked exactly what kind of work I did for the government. She knew better than to ask. She knew I couldn’t tell her, but maybe she kept hoping she would catch me off guard one day and learn everything our nation’s leaders were trying desperately to hide.

 Zero Hour doesn’t look much like a secret facility. In fact, it almost looks like an old shack surrounded by a fence. You could almost imagine that if you opened the door and peered inside you would see someone sitting on a bucket and fishing through the ice. The fence itself was only four feet high with an unlocked gate to walk through. No guards patrolled the fence or even the immediate area. However, if you did manage to reach the door and attempt to open it, you would soon realize nothing could open it. At least not from the outside. And though it looked like a simple wood shack, it was actually titanium steel under the disguise.

 The agents dropped me at the gate and I got out. They didn’t say a word and I didn’t thank them for the ride. I went through the gate and approached the door. I stood there a few moments, allowing the cleverly hidden retina scan to make sure I belonged there, and then the door opened. No one stood in the doorway, and no one sat inside fishing either. Instead, I stepped directly over the threshold and into an elevator that took me a mile under the shack and into the Zero Hour facility.

 When the elevator door opened two armed guards met me. “Please follow me, Lt. Keck,” one of them said, while the other remained at the elevator. I glanced back and saw he was inspecting it, possibly to make sure I didn’t bring anyone else down with me. The guard led me down a thin white corridor toward a locked door at the end. A scanner was mounted beside the door that scanned my fingerprints, and then my eyes, before gliding silently open. The guard didn’t follow me through. Instead I was met by two more agents, those of an obviously higher rank than myself.

 “Lt. Keck,” said one of them, and nodded. “We are glad you are here. Out of the entire agency, it is told you have the most persuasive and relaxing demeanor. We are afraid everyone here has bad interrogation skills.”

 “Who are you interrogating?”

 “An alien,” he replied matter-of-factly.

 “Where did he come from?”

 “The creature won’t tell us.”

 “Can he understand you? Is his language understandable?”

 “Yes his speech is somewhat similar, though a few words don’t match ours. We think maybe he learned it from our satellite broadcasts.”

 “That is possible. I’ve always believed if an alien could communicate or be taught our language, it would be from radio signals or broadcasts he picked up on.”

 “Perhaps. But we need you to get him to talk. National security is very concerned.”

 “Of course Admiral,” I replied, noticing all the badges on his uniform.

 “Walk with me,” he said, as he started down a hallway that ended with two heavy steel doors. “What concerns us greatly is this, Lt. We found his downed craft in a field outside the security perimeter, as if he had been aiming to locate this facility all along. Unfortunately, he had managed to leave his craft and wander into a rural area. We don’t think many citizens saw him, but I believe it’s possible if the news gets out about this extraterrestrial, it will be all over. We have dispatched agents to the area to try and convince citizens it was one of ours, and now we need you to find out why he is here. And more importantly, if he is alone, or are more of his kind coming.”

 “Do you expect more of them?”

 “It is possible. Especially if they realize we have one of them in custody. Just find out everything you can.” He stopped in front of the double doors. “Listen, we are counting on you and your patriotism. I have read your file, and not only are you an excellent agent, you also love this country, indeed the whole planet. Help us preserve its security.”

 “Yes sir, I will.”

 He rapped the metal door with his fist and it opened. On the other side were four more armed guards, and behind them a long table with two chairs on opposite sides. In one of the chairs sat the alien. At first glance I didn’t know what to make of his hairless appearance. I was trying to take everything in – what had happened and what was expected of me, and now this bizarre creature sitting at the table.

 When I moved past the guards and sat down across from him, he seemed to study me in with a slight cocking of his head. It was hard to say because his whole face seemed reflective, like mirrored glass. There were no discernable facial features, except mine were mirrored in his silent visage. I could see no noticeable orifices that indicated he could hear, see, or even speak. His skin was white, almost like mine, except the texture seemed more like rubber than flesh. Perhaps this was why he was uninjured in the crash.

 I lay my hands flat on the table to show I had no weapons. I offered up a smile. “I am Lt. Keck,” I said. “Greetings.”

 The alien didn’t speak.

 “I mean you no harm. I just want to ask you a few questions.”

 He stared back silent, unmoving.

 “Can you understand me?”

 The creature nodded its bulbous head.

 “Can you speak?”

 “Yes,” he weakly replied. His voice sounded hollow and distant. It reminded me of our own satellite transmissions.

 “Do you have a name? Something you are called?”

 He hesitated, as if trying to find words I would understand. “You can call me Usaf.”

 “Ok, Usaf. Can you tell me how you came to be here?”

 “Crashed.”

 “Yes you did.”

 “Shot down.”

 “Oh, I didn’t realize. I wasn’t told that.” I turned around to look at the door. I knew that in another room somewhere close we were being monitored. Typical for those in charge not to divulge all the details.

 “Well, if you were shot down, it was because you entered restricted air space and we had to protect our citizens.”

 “Citizens?”

 “Inhabitants,” I explained. “The species that dominate all life on this planet.”

 This he seemed to understand, and even nodded as if to acknowledge me.

 “So, where are you from?”

 He mumbled something from his non existent lips. I couldn’t quite make it out.

 “Does your planet have a name?”

 He nodded silently.

 I turned to the wall closest to us. I got up and walked over and touched it, trying to keep my eye on him, in case he made an effort to lunge and attack. A panel in the wall slid down to reveal a huge map of stars and the known universe.

 “Can you identify your planet on here?”

 He looked at it from where he sat, leaned forward as if to see it more clearly. And then shook his head back and forth. No.

 “Do you recognize anything at all on here?”

 Again he shook his head. This was going to be difficult for us both. And the alien knew it. I sat back down, feeling a bit dejected. He hung his head, burying his featureless face in his hands. For a moment I thought I heard him exhale a frustrated sigh. Then, he lifted his head, placing his hands to the side of it. I heard a hiss and two thin wisps of vapor shot out the side of his head.

 I jumped in alarm and nearly fell over backwards in my chair. A fissure had opened in his head and his hands were cracking it open as if it were a shell. As he pulled his head apart, I heard him gasp, taking in a deep breath of air. I glanced quickly behind me, and saw the guards had their weapons at the ready and were blocking the door, in case he decided to attempt escape.

 The alien laid the shell fragments of his head on the table and looked at me with a new face. This one had features, and though I expected our first visitors from space to look different, I didn’t think they would be this hideous. The skin on its new face was tight, with wrinkles, lines, and ridges. Most of these lines were around two sunken orbs almost centered to the face. These orbs darted frantically back and forth, taking in the room in a panic. It appeared as if these orbs functioned as my own eyes did, though maybe not as well. A protrusion below the eyes flared in uncertain rhythm, giving me the sense this was how the creature breathed, much like our own species. Another opening appeared below this, revealing rows of jagged teeth, dulled and discolored, possibly by its time in space. The alien licked its lips, if that was in fact what they were.

 “Help,” he uttered, and I could see in his eyes the most extreme trace of fear I’d ever encountered. If we were worried about him, he was more worried about us. The alien was terrified.

 I wondered to myself what I could do to ease his anxiety. I studied the extraterrestrial the best I could. For the first time I noticed he had the name he gave me emblazoned across the right side of his chest. USAF.

 “You are called usaf?” I reiterated to make him feel at ease.

 “No,” he admitted. “I am Liam.”

 “Then what is usaf?”

 “United States Air Force.”

 This didn’t seem familiar to me. “What does it mean?”

 “Originally it was a combat unit,” he explained.

 This word I understood, and it wasn’t a good one.

 “What about now?”

 “Space exploration.”

 I felt a lump in my throat. This wasn’t good. We had made a mistake in sending out our transmissions all those light years ago. An alien race had discovered them, learned, adapted, and now was reaching out across the stars in search of its naïve creator….us.

“The Aliens Have Landed” by Paul D Aronson. All Rights Reserved.

Strange Days Indeed: The Monster (poem) 

​The Monster”

The monster comes for me at midnight, 
Sometimes he waits until 2, 
He knows I’m under your protection, 
And he waits until I’m away from you. 
He laughs and howls in the darkness, 
Waiting for our love to sleep, 
Then he comes stirring the waters
That threatens to drag me to the deep. 

The monster’s memory I can’t escape, 
Though I know that I’ve tried, 
But ever since I was a little child, 
Something’s lain buried inside. 
Get away from me I want to scream, 
Don’t come around here no more, 
I lie in the darkness so afraid, 
He’s on the other side of the door. 

These fears arise when I’m alone, 
no one else can really see, 
The monster comes when I least expect, 
Always haunting me. 

By Paul D Aronson. 2003. All Rights Reserved.