Because it’s been a while, I thought I’d share a bit from one of my favorite stories; A Thousand Little Deaths. If you like what you see, go buy you a copy. It’s available as an eBook from Amazon for $1.25.
A Thousand Little Deaths
Three Dog Night was singing Never Been to Spain from the crackling, broken mono-sound speaker on the cheap clock-radio combo on the motel nightstand. Danny Oldham lay with his legs on the bed, the rest of his body sprawled on the scratchy green Berber carpet covering room nine of the Dixie Motor Lodge. His lips were blue, his flesh jaundiced and clammy. The only warmth was the pistol in his hand, the barrel still warm from the thirty-eight hollow point that had ripped through his skull when the whisky on his nightstand had run dry. The wall of his dingy little tomb was a dripping red-gray mess complete with fragments of bone for texture. Danny wasn’t unique in his death. A lifetime of pain and depression, sleepless, hopeless nights had led countless others to travel to that undiscovered country on the tip of a bullet. It’s what Danny did afterwards that made him stand out, even if no one knew it yet. Those were his brains splattered in a gruesome Rorschach pattern on the yellowed walls and ceiling but there was no hole in his skull.
With a sudden, violent gasp the corpse of Danny Oldham sat straight up and coughed. Cold blue lips turned pink and warm as color flushed over his body. The milk white of dead eyes clouded dark and cleared to emerald green. He ran a hand over the gore caked dome of his shaved scalp, felt a dimple, the scar from a previous attempt with a smaller caliber. He cringed, feeling the excess of bodily fluids covering him from where he’d basted in them overnight. No one had ever told him about that part of death, about the way mother nature likes to add insult to injury by making you piss yourself as your body lies dead in a heap. He sloshed in the putrid mess to the bathroom counter where he logged the time and duration of this death in a little black ledger by the sink. The pages were worn, yellowed from age and loose inside their weathered leather binding. In faded gold leaf across the front cover the words La Petit Mort were barely visible. He started the shower next and waited until the room was filled with a hot white steam. In the fogged over mirror he wrote a single thought with his finger and slipped into the shower to get himself clean.
His body was a pale tapestry of faded scars telling a long and tragic tale. Danny Oldham had been alive a very long time and, despite his best, sometimes nightly efforts to change that, he’d proven to be something close to immortal. To the world around him he was a stoic, inhospitable looking man in his thirties with a shaved scalp or the faint traces of a dirty blonde mane that never grew thicker than a fuzz over his scarified skull. His eyes were a mesmerizing green that drew attention away from a scarred, subtly mutilated face and horrible attitude. He’d earned every wound, wore them as a badge of honor, but found he was starting to resemble the horrors that had haunted him after so long and tragic a life. He was big and thick and imposing everywhere he went and had a way of getting into trouble no matter what he tried to do.
You were dreaming about her again, he thought as the shower head sputtered and sprayed against his neck. It was the nightmare he’d had for years about the woman. Last night it had ended with him as a corpse on the floor. In photo negative shades the little girl had started down the street, pleated skirt and backpack and hair up in pigtails on a gray, sunless day. She splashed in puddles by the sidewalk until one in particular caught her eye. She bent over to look at her face mirrored over the asphalt. The little girl grinned back from the rippling water in a warped caricature of innocence. Her eyes began to bleed, the blood streaming down her face and through the water until it began to wrap around the little girl’s leg. A black, rotting arm reached up from the water and grabbed at her thighs from under her skirt.
The pain was immeasurable as her eyes rolled back in her head, as she screamed silently at the sky above her. There was a squelching of meat as flesh peeled from her body, a stomach churning wet sploosh as all her insides fell into the water. Her skull collapsed into her neck, further into her chest until she’d been turned inside out and was sucked into her own reflection in the water. For a moment the world was silent, mourning the lost innocence taken so abruptly, so violently from existence. Hands reached up from inside the puddle, palms slapping down on the wet pavement. The woman pulled herself naked from the thin pool of water and stood on the sidewalk. Her body was curved, a perfect hourglass of hairless, unblemished skin. Her hair was shoulder length, black with streaks of something else mixed inside. She opened her mouth, parting her full lips to smile with shark teeth that spiraled down her throat into the abyss of her stomach.
I’m waiting for you, Danny. She said in a strange, disjointed voice.
Danny had woken up shivering, a cold sweat drenching him as he fumbled for the light on the nightstand. Somewhere, somewhere close, a child was missing, dead in a horrific way that would forever be a mystery to everyone but him. The visions were always grotesque and painful but nothing had ever addressed him by name. He’d grabbed his revolver and made a hasty, unscheduled attempt to shuffle off this mortal coil to avoid a conflict with whatever he’d seen. Now, free of the filth he’d marinated in overnight, he stepped out onto the linoleum floor and dried himself off. He looked at the question he’d written on the glass and shook his head, finding his question had been answered with a question.
If not you, then who?