Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Big Thanks to You Readers

Hey guys, just wanted to offer a big thanks. I'm not sure how many of you are actually out there who don't technically "follow" as in you don't click the magic little button there on the sidebar, but I know there's a considerably fair amount of you guys there too.

Anyway, I wanted to say a big thanks to anyone who has read and commented on the work we do here and my writing in particular. As you may note, my latest story "Mother Dearest" was published 41 or so hours ago. It has now reached a grand total of 101 downloads. That may not seem like much really, but please take into consideration that nobody really knows who I am or what I write and I have done virtually no marketing here. For a little perspective, "Merchandise" has been up for 17 days now and is holding strong at 106 downloads. That's a big change in downloads and I owe it to you guys and God.

I just wanted to say a big thanks for your support, and thank you for reading this blog. God of course is the only One responsible for these numbers, so I would ask that you join me in praising him for this. Aside from that, all I can say is Soli Deo Gloria.

Download "Mother Dearest" here.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Mother Dearest Published on Smashwords

Dear readers,

Just dropping in a post to let you know my latest story Mother Dearest is now available for free download at in almost any format. I should offer a mild warning however, the story is not intended for younger audiences due to violence and mild thematic elements. The following is the description from the book page:

"Tom Morrison has just lost his fiance, and then his mother grows incredibly sick. In caring for his mother and missing Trisha, he finds more about his mother than he cared to ever know...a dark and terrible secret. A story of a mother's love gone wrong.

How well do we know the ones we love? How much do they keep hidden from us?"
 Download it here,

Reader - A Short Story

They called him the Reader.

This was partly because no one knew his real name. He kept to himself most of time, hiding away in a large manorhouse on the outskirts of town. But I think he would still have borne the moniker even if things had been otherwise. It just fit.

Every Tuesday he would come walking into town - summer or winter, rain or shine, he came. The very picture of inevitability. Feet crunching against the gravel, eyes fixed on the ground, hands thrust deep in the pockets of his coat, he would make his way past the houses and the shops and the eateries, without so much as giving them a glance. He would not stop – no, not once – till he had reached his destination: a small, homely-looking bookstore with a wordy array of novels, short story collections, and non-fiction titles staring outward from behind the window glass. It was a mere hole-in-the-wall, nestled between a bakery and a clothing store. Above it, suspended by wire, hung a wooden sign that read THE READERY in large splintery letters.

And into The Readery the Reader would go.

Half an hour would pass, maybe even an hour. Then the bell on the door would ring and he would emerge with a book under his arm. He always bought one. Always. It might be the latest bestseller or a piece of classic lit – it didn't matter. What mattered was that he never left The Readery empty-handed.

On a particularly chill and drizzly Tuesday in February, I happened to take shelter under the eaves of that bookstore. I hunched myself into one corner, shivering, disgusted at the weather. I pulled my overcoat tighter around me, then shoved my hands into the pockets, trying to coax warmth back into the tips of my fingers.

That's when I saw him. He stepped off the sidewalk on the opposite side of the street and sloshed toward me through the puddles. He smiled politely as he came up and then reached for the door and disappeared inside. Just like that.

I had the sudden and inexpicable urge to follow him, though to this day I'm not sure why. Perhaps for the simple reason that I really had nothing else to do. I unrooted myself from the sodden pavement and clasped the slippery brass doorknob and opened the door.

Stepping into that bookstore was like stepping into another world. The air was warm and dry and the fiery amalgam of candles and electric lighting threw an orangey-white blush over the place - an errant contrast to the oppressive, wet greyness of the world outside. The pungent odor of ancient books and the crisp, sharp smell of new ones mingled in the air with that of the wooden shelves. Somewhere in the back of the store a phonograph played. I closed my eyes.

“Can I help you find something, sir?”

I hit the here-and-now again with a jolt. The speaker stood behind a counter on my right, busily sorting through a large stack of books. She was elderly, maybe mid-sixties. Stocky build, white hair, wrinkled skin. The owner, I assumed. She paused in her work, questioning. I smiled and shook my head. She nodded and smiled back and resumed her sorting.

I caught sight of him again, poised by a bookshelf on the opposite side of the room. I walked toward him and casually selected a book from the same shelf and made a show of thumbing through the pages, all the while watching him out of the corner of my eye.

His interest was fully engaged by the weighty volume in his hands. Eyes poring over every letter, every word, every sentence, every paragraph. Fingers sifting the crackly yellow pages. It was an old book. Very old. Like him.

Suddenly he looked up and grinned a wide toothy grin. "Chaucer," he rasped happily, indicating the book he was reading. "You read any of him?"

I said that I hadn't.

"You should," he said, head bobbing up and down. "You really should." Then, after a pause, "How d'you like Milton?"


He nodded toward the book I had absently-mindedly pulled from the shelf. "Milton," he said again. "How do you like his work?"

"Oh, this," I said, awkwardly turning it over in my hands to get a good look at the title: "Paradise Lost". I shrugged and tried to look appreciative. "He's, um, pretty good," I said lamely.

He just smiled and bobbed his head again and returned to his book. After a minute or so, I ventured to ask whether he read much, knowing full well what his answer would be.

"I love books," came the enthustiastic reply. "Love them. My house is full of them. And even then, I can't stop myself from coming here every week to get a new one. I started collecting them years ago, you know, and haven't stopped collecting since. I could start my own library if I wanted to," he laughed. Then he stopped. He looked up, sober-faced. He leaned toward me. "Would you like to see it? My library, I mean?"

I was a surprised and delighted. Apparently he wasn't the total recluse I'd taken him for. I felt a thrill run up my spine, recognizing a tremendous opportunity to see something nobody else, to my knowledge, had ever seen before. "Sure," I said. "Thanks."

Excitement danced in his eyes. He tucked Chaucer under his arm and beckoned for me to follow. He paid at the counter and exchanged a few cheery words with the lady behind it and then swept out the door with me close on his heels.

I didn't so much mind the rain or the cold or the greyness now; my mind was abuzz with anticipation. I quickened my pace to keep up with him, and together we walked through town and out of town and along a dirt road that was now turned to mud. Shortly thereafter, we turned off the road and started through the grass and up a rise. His house was at the top. Large and grand and impressive, yet marked by evidences of age and decay. We went up the rickety wooden steps and onto the rickety wooden porch and paused as he fumbled with the lock.

Then we were inside. I nearly tripped over a stack of encyclopedias lying on the floor just inside the door. "Look out," he admonished with a chuckle.

I was looking, but not at my feet. I was looking at all the books. Stack upon stack of them, littering the floor in a sort of choatic orginization. He took hold of my arm and guided carefully me through the maze.

In every room we went through it was the same: books everywhere. On the floor, on the wall, on the furniture. Everywhere. I opened my mouth, then clicked it shut, stupified.

He led me to the den and told me to stand still while he cleared away a place for us to sit. I gazed around me at the sea of words and blinked. I even tried pinching myself to be sure I wasn't dreaming. He looked round. "Well," he grinned, "what do you think? Quite something, isn't it?"

My tongue fumbled around uselessly in my mouth. "Amazing," I finally managed to stammer. "There must be a gazillion books in this place."

He laughed and bent to gather up another pile of books off a seat cushion. "More than that, probably. Upstairs is full, too."

"How many of these have you read?" I breathed, reaching to pick up a copy of Huckleberry Finn and then turning it over in my hands. "How many? And how long did it take you/"

"Read?" He straightened and turned to face me, wiping his dusty hands on his trousers. He smiled, but it was a strange smile this time. An unnatural smile. He licked his lips. "Why," he said, "I haven't read any of them, actually. I just like collecting them. That's all."

Corey Poff is first and foremost a sinner saved by grace alone. He's sixteen, an avid writer, and a lover of books, movies, music, logic, Reformed theology, history, guns, and the great outdoors. And Italian food.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Merchandise - Part 10


FAR AWAY, in a tiny town in Montana, a woman named Tracy Jackson was walking her Great Dane, Arnold, and saw a man up ahead. He was strong looking, youngish; he was nicely dressed, fresh shirt, clean jeans. In his hand was a post and he had it lined up, carefully, he pounded down onto the wooden post. As he looked up, taking a quick break from his work, he caught her eye and smiled. He had a nice smile, a real winning smile, she thought. They hadn’t welcomed this couple to the neighborhood yet, she realized. Perhaps she would do that. It might be a good idea.

The man went back to work on his post and finished after a few more hammer blows. The hammer hung limply in his hand as she approached, trying to keep Arnold from running too far ahead of her. He walked to the sidewalk to meet her, the hammer swinging lightly in his hand.

“Howdy there,” he said. He seemed to have a bit of a Texas accent to her. Something very pleasant, she thought.

“Hello there,” she replied. “New to the neighborhood?”

He nodded. “That we are, me and my wife, Helen.” He extended his free hand. “I’m Jonathan Cain, ma’am.”

She shook it and introduced herself. “This is my dog, Arnold.”

The Great Dane took a look at him and sniffed, turning his nose back to the wind, seeking out something more interesting.

“What’s that you’re putting up?”

“It’s a sign for our new business venture. Something my wife cooked up, figured it’d be a good way to make some money, you know.”

She looked at the sign.


“Anything?” She whispered.

“What’s that?” He asked, the smile of perfect teeth still on his face. She took a look at his face and noticed that he really was the picture of perfection. Just how you’d expect a man in a magazine would look.
“You sell anything?” She asked.

“Yes, ma’am.” He replied. “Anything.”

The End
If you enjoyed "Merchandise" spread the word, and download it here at
About the Author:

Michael Wright lives in Alabama and has been writing since his mid-teen years. He enjoys playing guitar, reading, writing, coffee, sushi, Christian theology and he has never been to a never-ending yard sale. Read more stories at

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Premonition - A Short Story

Harry entered the waking world with a start, head swimming, muscles tense. For a second, he didn't know where he was. Then, as his eyes took in the familiar surroundings, he relaxed. He was in his living room. He must've fallen asleep on the couch again.

The book he'd been reading lay on the cushion next to him - a crime thriller he'd picked up at the bookstore the other day. The title stared up at him with eyes of fancy, gothic lettering: Death Comes As A Friend. He regarded it coldly, unimpressed. A story which put the reader to sleep could hardly be deemed a "thriller".

He sat up from his reclined position and massaged away the cric in his neck with one hand. He got to his feet. He was already dressed, but one look at his exceptionally wrinkled shirt convinced him he needed to change.

In the bathroom, he turned the faucet all the way on and let the water run. He cradled some in his palm and splashed it over his face. The chilly wetness was refreshing, chasing any vestiges of sleep from his cobwebbed brain. He closed his eyes contentedly for a minute and relished the feeling. Then he turned the faucet off and dried his face with a towel.

He changed into a fresh pair of clothes, then proceeded to the kitchen. He turned the dial on the coffee maker to “On”, and grabbed a skillet from the cupboard and began warming it on the stovetop. Two eggs were fried and on a plate and on the table within minutes, accompanied by a cup of coffee. Harry sat down and took a sip. The dark liquid scalded his tongue and throat, but he didn't mind. He liked it that way.

One, two, three raps sounded sharply on the front door. Harry looked up, surprised. “Hey,” called a voice, “you in there, Harry? It's Aaron. Let me in, will you? It's soaking wet out here.”

Harry set his cup down hastily and went to the door and opened it. He motioned his friend inside. “Sorry 'bout that,” he muttered apologetically, closing the door. “Didn't even notice the rain.”

“Well, I noticed it,” said Aaron, grinning. “Doesn't look like it's gonna stop anytime soon, either.” He looked up. “You just get up?”

“Yeah,” said Harry. “I was just eating breakfast. Care for some coffee?”

Aaron shrugged. “Sure.” He stripped off his sopping rain coat and deposited it on the coat rack behind the door, then sat down at the table. “Thanks.”

Harry turned and reached into the cupboard and took down another cup. "So," he said, conversationally, "what's up? Need to borrow somethin'?" He began filling Aaron's cup. The coffee swirled and steamed. "By the way," he added, turning around, "d'you want cream?"

He stopped and his jaw fell and his face turned a pasty white. "Aaron?"

Aaron was standing again. A revolver was in his right hand, his finger curling round the trigger, the bluish barrel pointing straight at Harry's chest.


"Bye, Harry."

There was a small thunderclap. Harry dropped and lay shivering in the floor, a blossom of red spreading slowly across the front of his shirt. His glazing eyes focused one last time on Aaron, who knelt beside him, gun in hand.

"Aaron." Harry's lips moved in a low, reproachful whisper.

Aaron watched, listened.


Aaron bent his head down to the dying man's ear and whispered back: "Because, Harry. Because I can."


Harry woke with a start. His head was swimming and sticky rivulets of sweat ran down his face and his heart was beating in a fast, panicky tempo. He rose from the couch and stumbled hastily into the kitchen. He snatched a glass from the cupboard and filled it from the tap and drank. Calm yourself, Harry. It was just a dream. Just a bad, bad dream and nothing more.

One, two, three raps sounded sharply on the front door. Harry dropped the glass, shattering it into a million winking shards. “Hey,” called a voice, “you in there, Harry? It's Aaron. Let me in, will you? It's soaking wet out here.”

Corey Poff is first and foremost a sinner saved by grace alone. He's sixteen, an avid writer, and a lover of books, movies, music, logic, Reformed theology, history, guns, and the great outdoors. And Italian food.

Merchandise - Part 9


WAKE UP!” He was being shook. The feeling of hands on his shoulder, the fingers digging just a little deep, like someone was clawing into his shoulder.

Jim pulled himself back into reality. The feeling of weightlessness quickly left him, like someone pulling a rug out from under him, leaving him on a hard floor that he quickly realized was a driveway.

“Wake up!” Beverly, she was waking him up.

What did she want?

His eyes opened, and he was instantly blinded by light.

It wasn’t gone! It wasn’t over; whatever it was that he had seen was still there, right by him, the blinding light…

“Wake up, Jim!”

He realized it was the sun. A blue sky with the slightest grin of clouds gazed down on him, like a Cyclops with a blinding eye.

“Jim!” Beverly, covered in dirt, but as beautiful as anything he had ever seen. He managed to slur out something that sounded like a death rattle instead of a reply.


“Are they gone?” He asked. He managed to glance around, and saw that the shed was there, the latch busted open still, hanging loosely. The padlock shone in the grass, right by his bolt cutters. He saw his Ruger lying on the ground, empty and discarded. He wished it hadn’t been left like that.

“Yes,” she answered. “They’re gone. I don’t know where, but they’re gone. Everything’s gone.”

What was she talking about?

He looked around and saw that there were no tables in the back yard. There were no bins either. No tent. No piles of junk. The table that was in the carport was missing as well, and so were Bram and Linda. He leaned back on the grass, and smiled up at her, unable to help it. He felt the pull at the edges of his mouth and wanted to stop it, wishing that he could be serious, but under the circumstances could not be serious.

“What are you smiling at?”

“The craziness of it. The police didn’t come, probably because they didn’t want them too, and the neighbors were eating out of their hand. They had control of the whole neighborhood, and still they’re the ones that left. They had all that, but we won.”

Beverly looked down at him, confused.

He didn’t feel like it needed to be explained. In the end they had the neighborhood, but that didn’t mean anything. When it came down to good versus evil, good won, despite the odds.

He grinned at Beverly again. She looked back down at him, desperate, but relieved at the same time—more confused than he was. She had not seen the light, nor had she seen the wings, or the swords. He wasn’t sure she understood, or was ready to understand. He didn’t even know if she ever would be able to understand all of what had just happened. All he knew was that they were together, and they had survived. Both of them had made it out, free from evil. Good had won over evil.

He looked at the ground and saw a round burn mark; right where he had seen the ball of light and reckoned it was centered. Impossible, but undeniable—it had all actually happened. Even though everything was gone—he was sure that it indeed was all gone, and not a single thing had been left behind, they were still there. They remained, he and Beverly. They made it. Good over evil.

No, he thought to himself. It was God won over evil. Not just good. God.
End of Part 9

Monday, September 19, 2011

Merchandise - Part 8


THE NIGHT swallowed all light around it. The streetlights tried to supply light to any who would dare venture the streets so late at night, but they tried in vain, and the darkness reigned over all, with a rod of iron shadow. Underneath the glare of fading stars, speckled across innumerable galaxies, Jim walked slowly, the bolt cutters held tightly in his hands, partially hidden by his leg. The gun was in his side pocket, and the knife tucked in his waistband, a towel wrapped around it to keep him from cutting himself.

His breathing was hard, harder than it had ever been on one of his longest runs, and his mind was filled with fears that contested with the amount of the stars above. He hadn’t been quite so afraid before he had left his house, but the tiny fears, the ones that made up the little cold needles that danced on the skin of your arms, had grouped up when he had seen the dark streets, and the feeling that he was being watched.

The eyes were everywhere. They were always watching, those tiny little eyes, each one focused on him, peeking through the windows, glowing in the darkness, caught under a spell of their neighbors who were holding the best sale on earth.

We sell anything.



Even you. We’ll sell you. Just come on, rack up some debt—we’ll sell you. We sell anything.
Jim held the bolt cutters tighter. Not that they could really supply him with any assurance, they were only bolt cutters, the gun was in his pocket, and the knife his waistband.

The eyes watched.

He came up to the same old driveway for the last time, and glanced behind him at the streets, empty and dark. They were only occupied by the stretching shadows, waking from their rest, ready to fade again. The streetlights glared, tiny dots, little eyes down the street, growing in size, as they got closer.

The sign: simple, fresh, daring, smart and infuriating—the simple three-word slogan, that terrible phrase that haunted him in the dark corners of his mind. It burned into him, like a lit match pressed against his skin. He thought of Beverly, of what he was about to do. He thought of the little girl—Amy—who had been heartlessly sold to a man that had who knew what in mind for her. A dim fire, the blue blaze of righteous anger burned deep down within. He knew what he was going to do, and come what may, he would make sure it got done, or he would sure enough die trying.

The gravel, suddenly returned, skittered away from him. He hardly paid it any mind; he was going straight for his target, a little shed tucked just to the side of where the tent was. Just to the far right of all of the tables in the back yard.

They keep us in the shed. There are some cots in there for us to sleep, and it’s locked up with a padlock at night. I want to make noise but I’m afraid they’ll hear. They hear everything.

 The fence was wide open, as if they were expecting midnight customers, or—he wanted to cringe at the thought—expecting him.

The backyard was not illuminated in the least; the only light was what came from the street. He could see the faint reflection, barely discernable, on the plastic bins that were piled high on the tables, holding all of the goods, all except for a particular piece of merchandise.

He remembered sitting at his kitchen table, what, only a few hours ago? He was counting cash. He was going to buy her, but then it occurred to him—she couldn’t be bought. Beverly was a person, not a thing. You don’t buy a human being—that was just wrong. He had to break her out: that was the only option. That was the only thing he was going to do. He was going to break her out and then call the cops; he wouldn’t leave her in their possession any longer. They could hide the truth, fool the cops, but Beverly would be free, and that was the point. That was the mission.

He crept down the driveway, stealing a quick peek at the house. The windows were dark, the happy couple probably asleep, exhausted from a day’s labors, dreaming of the next big sales, of how many more people they intended to sell.

The padlock was on the shed, just as Beverly had said, it shone lightly in the dim illumination. He brought the bolt cutters up a little, and moved in for the lock, looked quickly at the window, saw that it was boarded up.
He slipped the cutters right on the lock and began to squeeze.

After a moment, the lock didn’t move—nothing.

Oh, dear God, please.

Jim could feel the cutters gaining purchase, digging just a little bit into the metal. He could picture a large dog, one with big teeth, locking down a bone, trying to bite it in half. The metal cutters sunk a little deeper, and the dog began to growl.

With a light grunt the lock broke. The cutters thudded against the wood of the shed door, and he inhaled sharply, hoping that it wasn’t too loud; not giving him away to the happy couple that was inside.

He fumbled with the lock, realizing that his hands felt like they had swollen a thousand times usual size and were near impossible to use on the lock. He quickly dropped it to the ground, and fumbled with the latch, managing to pull it open, just barely. A flashlight emerged from his side pocket, a Maglite Solitaire, and the beam cut through the darkness of the shed.

A cot, empty, something that looked like a nightgown laid across it delicately. He directed the beam across the room. Another cot, and this time there was a girl curled up in the corner, her knees defensively drawn to her chest, shoulders heaving in near-silent, hysterical gasps. A copper canopy was draped over her shoulders; twin blue stars, shining bright stared desperately out at him.

“Bev,” Jim said. “It’s me.” He shone the light on his face, nearly blinding him for a split second.
Her face poked out, slender and drawn with worry. She stood so quickly that he wasn’t sure that he’d actually seen her do it. She moved across the floor in a blur, running to him, grabbing him around the neck.

“I didn’t think you’d come. I thought you’d…”

“No.” He said. “We’re getting out of here.”

She let go and he clicked off the light, making it easier for stealth, and led her out the door, her steps were soft and careful with her feet clad only in flip-flops. She tried to keep that telltale flapping down, but it was near impossible, and Jim was convinced, inaudible to the two inside.

“They hear everything.” She insisted.

The night swallowed them whole. He suddenly felt the darkness, thankful for it, but still wary, feeling as if he were being watched by it. As if the night itself, while being the only way he could have ever accomplished such a feat, was plotting against him.

It was about that time when he heard the coarse whisper of a sliding door and the terrible metallic chuckle of a shotgun being chambered.

The blast of plastic and glass was almost immediate, and it brought him and Beverly both down to the ground immediately. The bin that had taken a majority of the hit had been completely destroyed, shards of it were in every direction, scattered with the cruel relentlessness of twelve-gauge buckshot.

“Stay down.” He whispered to Beverly.

The rasp and clatter of an empty shell hitting the ground, followed by another mechanical chuckled of a load being shot into the chamber of the gun. An explosion rocked the backyard again, and the splinters of plastic rained down again.

Jim reached into his pocket and grabbed the LC9, raising it high, and squeezing off three rounds in quick succession, hoping it would scare the shotgun wielding guard, knowing that it was near impossible for him to aim correctly from the distance and in the dark. He hadn’t fired the gun in a few years, so he was way out of practice.

Another shotgun blast and more plastic rain, eliciting a thin yelp from Beverly, who ducked low again.
Jim fired off a one more shot, the fear deep down within him that he was almost out of ammo.

No extra magazines. He hadn’t brought the extra he owned.

He reached around for his waistband, where the knife was, but was disappointed—the knife was gone, probably on the ground somewhere when he had dived for the ground.

“We’re closed!” Bram said, the shotgun chuckled again, “And I’m afraid we don’t make any late night exceptions.”

Jim squeezed off another round; he heard it hit the concrete, splintering it, sending bits and pieces in all directions.

“You’re getting warmer. I’m surprised, Jim, how long has it been since you fired a gun, anyway?”

“Not recently.” Jim replied, motioning for Beverly to make a dash for it, but she shook her head. “I haven’t had any freaks like you to shoot at. Takes all the fun out of it.”

A shotgun blast closed the line of discussion.

Jim took a few more shots, and was quickly disappointed by the terrible squishing click that met his ears, he was out—and there were no more bullets.

The firefight was over almost as quickly as it had begun, and there was an obvious advantage that Bram had over them. He didn’t fire back, however. What met Jim’s ears instead was laughing, cruel and full laughter. It was like someone had just told the world’s funniest joke, only the joke was on he and Beverly.

“Looks like you’re up a creek without a paddle there, Jimmy!” He chambered yet another round—the one that had to be his last—and began to walk down the steps in the near pitch-black night.

Jim turned to Beverly, sighed. “I’m sorry.”

She shook her head. “Not over yet.” She whispered.

Jim glanced down at the empty gun in his hand, and he dropped it to the ground, tossing it so that Bram could see he did not have it any longer, and hopefully keeping him from shooting them too quickly.

Bram walked towards them. “You two better stand up.” He said, the boots he wore crunching the sand underfoot. “I know there’s a couple of you.”

Beverly tapped him on the shoulder, and nodded, squeezing his shoulder with her small hand. Thanks for trying, it said.

Jim stood with Beverly at the same time, raising his hands for a moment to show that he was unarmed, and then dropped them by his sides. They were empty, depressingly so. He was out of things that he could do.

“Well, Jimmy. Nice to see you, albeit, at this late hour.” Bram’s tone was unmistakably mocking.
Condescending, and even hateful, he took a look at Beverly, in the dim light, chuckled. “Well, well. Am I interrupting something here? Seriously, Jim, if you just woulda said that you wanted her she could have been yours for the right price…”

“She’s not for sale, anymore.” Jim said.

“Everything’s for sale.” Bram countered. “Ask anyone, everything’s for sale. Morality, purity, even innocence—all you gotta do is name a price.” He held the gun at chest level, pointed directly at Jim. “Some come cheaper than others, but everyone has a price.”

“Not everyone.”

Bram laughed again, that sick, full laugh. He looked at Jim and burst into another fit of it. “You’re kidding. Have you looked around lately, Jimbo? How many kids do you suppose have tried drugs? How many do you suppose haven’t messed around and slept with each other, stolen something—all for a moment of pleasure, a little thrill? For some, that’s all of the price they need.” He looked at Beverly and then cut his eyes back to Jim, that cruel smile on his face. “Some girls will let their boyfriends take it to the next level all because they’ll ‘love them forever.’ Other kids, they’ll do some pot because everyone else does, the price for acceptance and they’re willing to pay. Seriously, Jim, have you even been paying attention?”
Jim was silent. The darkness was still surrounding them. The shotgun barrel was bright in the light, limited though it was, reflecting across the silvery surface. Jim could see the way it was held so steadily in Bram’s hands, like a toy.

“Come over to the carport. We’ll chat over here.” He gestured with the shotgun to signal that this wasn’t optional.

Jim looked at Beverly, and she nodded, moving slowly, with him, her hands on his forearm. She wasn’t squeezing, it was more like a light touch, the calm assurance of a loved one after a bad dream in the middle of the night.

They walked slowly and ever so carefully, trying not to make any quick movements that would give Bram a good excuse to shoot them on the spot.

He stopped and they did the same. Daring not to move any farther, the threat of hot lead enough to make them stop.

“So,” Bram asked, “to what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?”

Jim said nothing.

Bram smiled, and gestured—with the gun—to Beverly. “Lemme guess.”

“She’s not for sale. She’s not a sale item, Bram, you’ve lost your mind.”

“That requires having one in the first place, Jim. But I assure you that I am perfectly sane, in fact, I have the experience of years over you on my side, so not only am I sane, but full of wisdom as well.”

“Just how many years would that be, Bram? Decades? Hundreds?”

Bram remained silent.

“I know what you are. I know what you and Linda both are. I guess I knew since the first time I saw you, I just didn’t want to believe it. Sometimes we like to try the think the best of people, silly how people are, I guess.”

Bram smiled again, “Time to pay up, Jimbo. Got news for you, she’s stolen property. You gotta pay us back for her.”

Jim moved in front of Beverly. “She’s not for sale. She’s a person, not a piece of merchandise.”

Bram ignored him. “We have had a hard time selling her, because she is worth so much. In fact, she’s worth more than you could pay—ever. So, we’re going to have to charge you the same, Jimmy. And I’m afraid that if you can’t pay that up front, then we’ll have to put you on the payment plan option. Or, we’ll just save time and take you, right here.”

Jim nodded. “If she goes free.”

Bram shook his head. “You’re really dense, aren’t you?”

“Then no deal.”

“Really?” Bram laughed again. He dropped the barrel, pointing it at the ground. “I really hate to break it to you, Jim, but you’re not in a negotiating position here. You do what we say or you don’t live to reconsider.”
“I don’t come quite so cheap, Bram.”

The gun was raised, pointed at his head. “How’s your life?” He asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Can’t threaten me with death. I know what’s waiting for me on the others side. I think you do, too, don’t you?”

Bram nodded, gave an approving expression. “Fine.” He shifted the barrel’s position. “How about hers?”
Jim stopped. He had no reply, and Bram knew that he had him; he had him pinned to the wall. There wasn’t any reply that he had for that, and he knew that Bram knew that.

Bram grinned. “You know, she’s damaged goods. I might have to lower the price on her. How about for her, we take just you? She gets to go wherever she wants. I just want you.”

“I can’t make a deal, Bram.”

An eyebrow rose.

“I’ve been bought out already.” Jim shrugged and pushed the barrel away from them. He glanced back at Beverly.

The door rasped open again and Linda stepped out, dressed for bed, but sauntering up in her usual fashion. She took a look at Jim and Bram, knowing exactly what was going on, but choosing to play dumb. “What’s going on?” She was asking Bram.

“Just haggling, dear,” he said, “nothing much.” Bram took a look at her and grinned, gestured to Jim. “How about it?”

“What?” This time Jim responded.

“I know you got a thing for my wife, Jim. It’s hard to miss, well, it was, I was told you gave her a funny look when she got after, um, her.” He pointed to Beverly. “How about that? Enough of a down payment for you?”

Jim looked at Linda, an arrow of shame at what he had thought before shooting through him, and realized that she had no hold over him any more. He was free from that sin of lust that had tempted him for that short period of time. “No. I was paid for by a lot more.”

“What?” Linda said, coming up by her husband.

“In fact, it was a price of infinite value. More than I could ever pay. It was paid long ago, about two thousand years to be honest.” Jim looked down at the gun and didn’t feel the slightest sliver of fear anymore.
Beverly gripped his arm behind him. Her hold was suddenly a light tighter, unsure of where he was going with it.

“Paid for by the highest Royalty ever. Perhaps you’ve heard of Him, name was Jesus.”

At that Bram’s eyes flamed, and he pointed the gun back at Jim. “Don’t…”

“Don’t what? Rebuke you? I wish I could, but I think that He already did, a long, long time ago.” Jim pushed the gun aside, and it fell down on the concrete below them both. Linda glanced down at it, and when she looked back up, her appearance had changed a lot. Two protuberances stood out on her forehead, and her entire face had grown tighter and wrinkled, all of the uncannily youthful beauty departed. The charade was over, no more put-on faces. He knew that he was seeing them for what they truly were.

“You’re kidding.” She said. “You know that He’s dead. There’s nothing for you that He can do.”

“On the contrary, in dying, He did everything for me.” Jim looked at Bram and saw that his appearance had changed a lot as well, into a wrinkled, heavy-looking old face, one that was slowly decaying at the edges, rimmed by a thin line of long, white hair; pus oozed out of an open sore. His true face. “And I don’t have to answer to you. I don’t even have to fight you.”

Bram grinned a toothless, rotten grin. “Then this will be easy.” He drew back and arm and threw Jim to the ground, backing him into Beverly who was dashed in the other direction.

Blood was oozing on Jim’s face. He realized Bram had long nails that had slashed him. The thick teardrops of blood slid slowly down his cheek.

Beverly stood, and Bram took one look at her, and slammed a folded fist into her skull. She took another hard landing on the concrete, this time she did not stir as before.

Jim only half-processed that before Bram was on him again, kicking him with old, curling boots, completely different than the ones he had on before. The ratty clothes that the man wore were a far cry from the usual attire that he had on, they looked years old and never cleaned.

Jim rolled into the next kick and tried to grab Bram’s foot, but the touch of it burned, scorching his palms and he had to quickly let go. The thick odor of sulfur was in the air, as if someone had just opened a sulfur spring right in front of him.

“Everyone has a price, Jimbo. I named mine a long time ago. I’m gonna live longer than you can even dream! Perpetually young!”

Jim looked up at him. “At what price? Your soul?”

“Everyone’s going somewhere. Mine is just guaranteed in advance, no interest. No payment down.”
“What happens when it’s time to pay up?” Jim asked, rising to a crouch.

Bram grinned, that same rotten, empty grin. “Guess we’ll find out when the time comes. It’ll be some time though; I don’t have to pay up for a lot longer. Well, a lot longer than you.”

It was then that Jim noticed the hammer in Bram’s bony hand. The handle was still firm, the head bright, even in the dim light.

“Cheesy as it is,” Bram said, “someone’s gotta say it: time for you to meet your Maker, Jimmy. Tell Him I said ‘hi’.” He raised the hammer up over his head, and readied it to come down on Jim’s head. The ugly, thin arm that raised it was surprisingly strong seeming, and from just a glance, Jim knew that he would not survive if that arm came down a few times.

Dear God, please, I’m ready to meet you, but I’d rather do it at the hands of something other than this monster.

Beverly was still laying on the concrete just a few steps over, huddled together, reflexively protective.
Linda came up behind Bram, bearing her own grin, with two shining canines and nothing more. Her horns were fully visible, even in the poor lighting. Her true face easily seen.

“Say goodbye.”

Jim smiled, grinning at his own dumb joke, “Goodbye.”

The hammer came down.

A bright light broke from nowhere. The center of it was undetermined, but beams shot out in every direction, the fibrous movement of the rays was smooth and organic, as if it were living sun.

Jim covered his eyes immediately. He heard an unholy wailing and knew that it was Bram and Linda; the light was too bright for them, which meant that it didn’t come from them.

Jim felt a warm embrace around him, as if something were protecting him, out of his fingers that covered his eyes, he saw a great sword, a robe swirled, moving, as if alive, then a wing moved past his field of vision before he could no longer stand it and had to look away.

Deep down he knew that Beverly was safe. Something told him that, he wasn’t sure what, but he knew it.

That was just before he lost consciousness, and the world faded away to white.

End of Part 8

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Merchandise - Part 7


HE SET the knife on the table. It was long and had a fresh edge on it. He had a feeling he would need that first. It was not the end of his list, but it was at least a start.

The darkness outside was suffocating. The night had fallen with great suddenness, like a hasty curtain blocking out the show.  The night was going to be heavy, he knew that; the moon was absent from the sky, adding to the deep darkness. It was just what he needed, the cover of darkness.

The bolt cutters had to be in the toolbox. He couldn’t think of them being anywhere else.

He looked at the knife, hesitation growing deep down within him. He could still hear the desperation in her voice.

I need help. Please, help me.

I’ll do whatever I can.

I’m not sure that’s enough.

The hesitation disappeared. He knew he would need the knife; there was no question about it. He would have to take the knife—no chances.

I’m not sure I understand. Why are you here?

He glanced at the clock, noting the late hour, but he still knew that he would have to wait at least another hour. It he went out it would be taking too much of a chance. He had to wait for the dead of night.

I…I have to stay here. I can’t leave.


He rummaged around in the back room of his house, the piles of boxes and odds and ends was almost crippling, he knew that he should have taken more time to organize—but like all thoughts of that sort, it was far too late. He dug past a few boxes, piles of books, piles of photos—things from a life that seemed so far away, so distant from his current situation. 

The toolbox was deep down in the pile. Hiding in the pile, deep down, that dull, crimson box with the dirty, gray handle. He pulled it open, and began to dig around in the innumerable screwdrivers and wrenches that had long ago seen the light of day. It was funny that even when he finally did open the box, they still didn’t see the light of day. He quickly found the bolt cutters, a compact version, and he knew that they wouldn’t do, he had to get the good ones out of the garage.

He stood and slammed the lid shut, going for the doorway and moving quickly through the one that led to the garage, and flipped the light switch on.

Because I belong here. That’s why I can’t leave.

He saw the bolt cutters hanging on the pegboard. You really do sell anything, don’t you, Bram? He thought bitterly. It had all made sense, just half an hour ago, it had all fallen into place.

He remembered watching the little girl go with the man, and he remembered that feeling he had gotten, remembering how familiar she looked. It was only hours later he would realize why she had looked so familiar, and soon after that he would piece it all together.

You can quit this job; you don’t have to work here. It’s not good for you.

I’m not a customer and I’m not an employee. I belong here because…

The bolt cutters were heavy and they had quite a bit of heft in his hands. They would do the job but they would be very difficult to conceal. Thank God it was dark.

The dark hair on the little girl, that slight limp, he had seen it before. He had seen it very recently in fact. Why it had taken so long to click he didn’t know, but as he was sitting in his chair, trying to think of a way that he could get Beverly out—counting up his cash—he remembered the girl. She was walking down the street, not with the man who had bought all of his stuff at the monstrous yard sale, but walking to the yard sale with her mother and father. Her father’s face was half burned off.

…I’m a product.

The girl was a product, and she had just been sold to a man who had come in there looking for stuff and walked out with one of the longest selling items in the world. He had just bought a human being.

“We Sell Anything”

They sure did.

I’m part of the merchandise.

That was their prime product. How did they get them? That had been his question as soon as Beverly had told him. They both looked over to see if Bram was coming back out, or was watching out the windows, watching so carefully.

The payment system. If you rack up too much debt, you can’t buy anything, and most of the time, they’ll do a trade. A car, or a TV, something small like that.

But not all of the time?

No, very quickly, they needed something more.

Jim took the bolt cutters in the house and set them next to the knife. He would need more; he knew that he would need more. He needed something stronger. It was all he could do with these people—oh, these awful people—not to simply kill them. Deep down inside, that part that told him how wrong the whole thing was, selling people for crying out loud, also told him that he shouldn’t kill them. Part of him was afraid that he couldn’t kill them, that they were something…more.

They come at night. Sometimes, with torches—that’s how they got Amy, with torches—and they make their demands. You don’t have any choice but to comply, they won’t let you disagree…

He walked to the cabinets that were in his kitchen. He pulled open the drawer—the middle one—and reached down inside, moving aside a pile of old papers that had no value to him at all, just a pile of papers that he had set there to conceal the drawer’s real purpose.

—…you come with them or you all die.

He reached, gently feeling for the tiny slot, only big enough for one fingertip; that was all it took. He found it only after a moment, and slipped his finger in, gently lifted it away and removed the drawer’s false bottom. The small wooden piece came away easily and he reached in with his other hand and pulled the small, black gun out of the bottom of the drawer.

You don’t have a choice. You can’t call the police, if they were to go investigate, they would be gone. Then they would come for you—come to collect.

How can…that’s not possible.

I think I’ve said too much.

No, they’ve gone too far, we have to stop them. Come with me.

Fear in her eyes. Deep rooted fear, more than he had ever seen on a person’s face. Fear that was not founded on putting your personal safety in danger, but on putting the ones you love in danger.

I’m going to get you out of here. Tonight. You wait. If anyone dies here, it’ll be me.

It was then that Bram had come out, sipping a cold Mountain Dew, giving only a slight glance in their direction. He didn’t know what was going on between them, somehow he was oblivious—that had to be a work of God on their behalf.

The grip of the Ruger LC9 was very tight. The 9mm didn’t hold very many rounds, but hopefully he wouldn’t need many. Best case, he wouldn’t need it at all, but it didn’t hurt to be a little careful.
He would have to be very careful.

The knife and bolt cutters stared back at him from the table. Each one waiting for him to come back to them, ready to be used, ready to assist him under cover of darkness.

He looked at the note that she had written to him, in shaky, bold letters that spoke more of her desperation than the words did.

Please save me.

He saw the little girl—Amy—walking with the man up the driveway, about to be hauled off like any other piece of merchandise, brought to his house for whatever purpose that he had in mind. Taken away, like so many others, trafficked, sold—enslaved.

They weren’t going to get away with it.

The gun felt heavy in his hand, despite its small size. He slipped the slide on the semi-auto down and chambered a round. The familiar metallic snicker of the bullet sliding into place sounded a lot louder than it actually was. He stared down at it, building more resolve to do what he was going to do—a deed under cover of night, hiding among the shadows, moving swiftly among the dark, heavy shade.

I’m going to save you.

End of Part 7

If you would like to read the entire story, download it for free here.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Merchandise - Part 6


WHEN JIM went back down the sale the next day, he was more than just a little hesitant about it. The feeling in his chest was like a vice locked around his sternum, and then there was the electric tingle in his stomach. He knew that he shouldn’t be so nervous, having been there so many times, but it couldn’t be helped, he still felt extremely nervous.

The sky overhead was a mottled gray, dips of blue were visible every now and then, but the blinding gray of the atmosphere was almost overwhelming. It was almost blinding, the strength of it was unmatched, and it caused him to squint if he looked up directly at it.

There were a lot less people that day, he could see that, already. There were only two or three cars perhaps parked by the yard, ready to collect their things. Not a single person was walking on the road with a backpack, coming to feed their hunger.

Jim saw the sign ahead of him, it was still the same simple sign that he had seen Bram hammer into the ground weeks ago, but it had a far more ominous feel to it. Like the sight of it infected him somehow. That phrase at the bottom: “We Sell Anything” three word darts that poisoned his mind. It was like something was breathing it into him, a contaminate that would be the end of him.

Dear God, please help me.

He slowed his pace and felt the feeling begin to recede. It was as if evil had jumped on his back and then simply jumped back off. He breathed a prayer of thanks as he moved down the driveway and into the back yard with the towering white picket fence. The feeling was still strong in the air, he could still feel something very wrong—but it didn’t feel like it was weighing on his shoulders as it had been before.

The driveway was a lot smoother than it had been before, as if the pebbles had all be cleared away, which they probably had by all the foot traffic that it had received, and the grass on the sides of it seemed to be dying away, and scuffed up. The lawn itself didn’t look quite as well cared for as it had been. There was something different about the whole place, as if something was changing.

Jim was sure that something was.

He could see that there was a man wandering around from table and table, the look in his eyes was the same that he had seen in the others’: that hungry deadness.

The man was tall, wearing a white button-up shirt, and jeans. He looked very fit, a man who could really have a long life ahead of him. His eyes though, were shadowed by deep, dark circles, and thick bags that were underneath, like he hadn’t slept in days—his lips moved every now and then, mumbling to himself, almost desperately mumbling.

Jim saw him grabbing things out of the bins—things that had no practical value at all, especially not for a man like that—and Jim knew deep down that the man had to have those things. He was putting them in his sack, counting each object, placing it in there as if it were a delicate animal, carefully setting them down in there, maneuvering them so they set neatly within. Jim didn’t want to watch him continue, but he couldn’t pull his gaze away. The man was moving a little quicker from bin to bin, pulling just a bit of everything out, sorting through it seeming to be the last thing on his mind, he just had to have the things—he needed the stuff. The look in his eyes, that lustful coldness, burned brighter and brighter the more he pulled out. The stuff was becoming part of him, he could see the attachment forming in the man’s mind, worse, and he could discern the connection deep down in the man’s soul.

He managed to look away and glance at the large tent at the back that he had noticed on his last visit, though he had yet to understand its function. It was tall and bright, a white tent that looked like it belonged to a fair or carnival. The shape was a typical rectangular box with a raised top.

He glanced at a woman who was moving around among the items, her long coat was somewhat unseasonable, and the hood over her head seemed very unnecessary, but Jim didn’t see much of a point in criticizing those kinds of choices people made. If they wanted to be impractical, that was their choice.
Bram was manning the table this time. His head was bobbing to the music that streamed through the tiny earbuds in his ear. Jim couldn’t help but note the ever-present smile on his face was strangely absent. His mouth was drawn in a thick line, something that seemed foreign to his appearance.

The laptop was still in front of him, that and the cashbox. The shining metal surface gleamed back at him, bright and reflective. It was strange though, try as he might, Jim couldn’t see any people in the reflection—only the merchandise was reflected.

Jim walked past it and moved for the table with the books, his usual spot and began to scan the yard, looking for her—

Help me

—looking for Beverly. But he didn’t see her yet. He felt down inside that she was there, but he wasn’t sure where she was. It was like the fog that was over the place was hiding her.

That was very absurd, he knew that much, but he wasn’t going to ignore the possibility that there were more forces at work—it was completely possible that Bram and Linda were dabbling in things that were far more than just a good marketing strategy and stellar customer service. Jim was beginning to think there was a little more to the little never-ending yard sale than was apparent.

He glanced back at Bram, noting that he was still very busy, lost in his own little musical world.
The man with the pack had moved for the tent, the dead appetite still burning in his eyes.

It was then that he saw her. The hood and long jacket had thrown him off, but as soon as he saw her eyes he knew it was she, with her hair tied back in the hood. She saw him, and he saw a glimmer in those cobalt orbs, a glimmer of hope. She gave a small, weary smile. Jim felt his heart jump, not in boyish nervousness, suddenly aware of a girl paying attention to him, but in fear. The image of a nightmare creature clutching his leg, with a razor grin, flashed through his mind.

The smile only lasted for a split second and vanished. She suddenly looked down, glancing at Bram as she did so.

What’s wrong, Beverly? He wondered.

The man had gone into the tent.

Why are so you afraid?

Jim moved away from the books and slowly walked over to the table where she was standing. He saw her flinch, and her body jerked in the direction of the tent that she had fled to last time he had seen her, when Linda had chased her away. The jacket framed her in such a way that Jim realized how slight she was. The truth was that Beverly was a small woman, very petite, and extremely vulnerable. The hood hid her face, as if she were trying to conceal herself, hiding from the world—hiding from him.

He stopped on the other side of the table, and feigned interest in one of the boxes that was there.
He could see that that Beverly was debating whether or not to run. There was a question in her mind—a worried question. What did he want?

Jim glanced behind him and saw the man had come out of the small tent and he still had his pile of stuff. A little girl was with him. The little girl looked very familiar, but he wasn’t sure where he had seen her before—probably wandering around the sale with the man before, he just hadn’t paid enough attention. Best of all, they were both talking to Bram, keeping him occupied.

He slowly slipped a yellow piece of paper out of his pocket with a whispered rasp, and he reached for a box, and carefully dropped it on the other side of the table.

Please, God, don’t let him see.

The note landed face up, and he knew Beverly saw it. She shifted her eyes in his direction, they screamed with the question: What are you doing?

He could hear Bram talking behind him.

“…yes, we’re almost out of stock…”

The man said something unintelligible.

“…getting some more soon, we only have one left. As you can probably understand this is a…” a car blasted by the house. “…product. We only get a few.”

She looked down at the note. Jim felt his pulse rise, and his forehead broke out in a slick sweat.
She looked just as nervous, but he gestured for her to read it.

Please, oh dear God, don’t let him look now.

“…of course you understand the risk that comes with this particular item.” Bram droned on. Jim vaguely wondered what the devil he was talking about.

Beverly read it. Jim noticed that he was holding his breath. Her eyes widened, and he saw the fog grow heavy in them, misting over that bright blue. He knew that the three words that he had scrawled on the piece of paper.

I can help.

He glanced at the note and waited for her eyes to meet his, and he gently nodded. The note was true, he meant it, and he only hoped that she would understand that.

She seemed not to believe him for a moment, and then he saw understanding dawn on her face. It was a strange mixture of fear—the kind of fear that went deep and paralyzed you late at night when you’re sure that someone else is in the room—and joy, the kind of joy that you felt when seeing someone you love again after a long absence. Inside he felt a twist in his chest, constricting his breathing, but sending shots of excitement through him at the same time.

“I had a dream,” he said, dropping another piece of paper. “It was about you.” His voice became a whisper.

“…if you are caught with this, we cannot be involved directly. If there is any trouble, you won’t find us here. You won’t find us anywhere.” Bram’s voice was softer in the background, but Jim could still hear him going on to the customer.

Her eyes grew wider—if that was even possible—and her eyes shot to Bram and back. She looked at the note and covered it with her hand.

Jim dropped a pencil in her direction. He gestured towards it.

Beverly looked down at it; looking at it a moment before she realized what he wanted her to do. She fastened onto his gaze and nodded, slowly.

“…do you understand what I am telling you?”

“Yes, I understand.”

He saw her set the paper down, a flicker of eyes, glancing back at Bram, the salesman who was speaking so carefully to his customer.

Jim glanced behind him and saw the money being transferred. The man was loaded down with stuff, the little girl standing with him, looking down at her shoes, probably bored to death.

Cash passed between them, a lot of cash.

The man walked away, the little girl with him—she had just a slight limp—heading for an SUV that was parked just at the street.

Beverly dropped the piece of paper by him; he glanced over at it, trying to feign interest in an item in the bin.
Bram sighed and went for the porch; he pulled the sliding glass door open and stepped inside, leaving everything unattended.

He read the three-word response, and then looked up at her, knowing that they could talk with Bram gone, he hoped she did too.

“I think we can talk.” He said. “Just for a moment.”

She glanced at the door; fear clouded her vision as the tears once had. “My name is Beverly.”

He smiled. “Jim.” He glanced down at the note again.

Please save me.

End of Part 6

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Merchandise - Part 5


HE WAS in a hallway, lined with metal doors. Old rusty ones that were speckled with heavy rivets, the padlocks on them, thick and covered with some kind of fungus, the smell of it was damp and spicy.

The stones underneath his feet were solid, but they didn’t feel like stones should—something about them was just wrong. It was almost like they were moving underneath him. Not like they were loose and moving as he stepped on them, his weight causing them to shift, but moving of their own will—because they were alive.

The doors were breathing, he didn’t know how he knew that, but he did. They were breathing slowly: in…out…in…out. The flaring locks and bars, shifted as they breathed, though at the same time they were still. Dead still.

He was heading forward, he wasn’t sure; he just knew that he had to get into the room at the head of the hallway, the one with the large, iron door.

He glanced around him, feeling like he didn’t belong there. The angles of the hallway felt off, as if they were from another realm completely. Something about it was wrong, very wrong—the kind of wrong that turned his knees to pudding and caused his spine to grow tiny little pins up and down it.
“Help me!” A voice behind the door said.

He knew the voice; he knew he had to help. He had to get there. He ran forward and reached for the door, grasping the slippery, breathing handle, and pulling it open.

Inside there was a large pile of stuff that filled the room. He recognized the plastic containers with their neat labels, but he tried to ignore them.

He saw Beverly, tied with restraints that were impossibly made of paper, twisted around each other and roped tight.

“Help me,” she said. Her foggy eyes were still that cobalt that seemed to go on and on forever. He moved forward, trying to dig his way through the stuff, the stuff that was knee-deep. The wrong angles screamed at him from every side, as if they were bent just moments ago, the entire building folded into shape, but it was slowly coming undone—breathing doors and all.

He tried to wade through it, but it was feeling thicker and thicker, impossibly holding him back slowly.
“Help me!” She cried again, tears streaming down her face, her copper mane streaming madly in ever direction.

“I’m trying!” He said; it felt like he was trying to speak with a mouth full of tiny rocks. Sandy pebbles filled his throat, scraping away the flesh on all sides.

The angles creaked, as if they were coming unfolded.

He managed another foot forward, and an arm immediately met his leg, the bluish-gray fingers wrapped around his leg, latching onto the thin pants he wore.

Jim shouted and tried to shake the thing off, but it was no good, he tried to manage another foot forward when the other arm to the thing beneath reached out and joined its companion grasping his leg.

He tried to pull his leg, but the creature had a heavy grip on him, refusing to let go. Jim gritted his teeth and pulled up as hard as he could muster, calling all strength in him to that one moment.

The corners groaned, protesting their shape.

He pulled and the thing that he had emerged, the hideous face twisted and sneering—Jim shuddered when he saw it.

The man with the half-burned face was holding on as tight as he could. His eyes were cold and dead—but at the same time they were hungry. A mouth full of grinning razors shone at him in the most twisted parody of a smile that Jim had ever seen.

Jim tried to move forward again, trying to get to Beverly, trying to get her out of the building before it was gone, and before the monster of a man got to her, the one that had such a grip on his leg.

He pulled again and felt a hand land on his shoulder, and a cruel chuckle broke the air. He felt the hand squeeze, and just as he turned his head, a hammer was raised in the air, poised to strike.

Then he woke up.

The room was dark, and the electric tingling of a nightmare slowly fading away—the angles collapsing on themselves—danced on his scalp and tickled the back of his neck. He looked at the clock.


After a few deep breaths he knew that the dream had more significance, deep down he knew that something was different.

Something was wrong.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Merchandise - Part 4


OVER THE next few days Jim began to notice more and more how things had been changing around the neighborhood. It started in simple ways, there were more people walking around—but then he noticed where they were going.

Then they started coming back with armloads of stuff, stuff that was really only junk that had been resold to them at a bargain price. He knew where it came from, and he didn’t want to think about it.

He saw a man walking down the road wearing a backpack one day. The man seemed in a bit of a daze, as if he really didn’t see anything going on around him. Jim was sipping a cup of coffee at the time, watching the man walk. As he watched him a few moments longer—the zombie like expression never leaving his face—he noticed that the backpack the man was empty. The floppy folds of it fluttered slightly in the wind, the backpack was slumping down on the man’s back, serving him no purpose whatsoever—but Jim knew why he had the pack.

He waited for the man to come back down the road, and sure enough the backpack was full. There were several odds and ends sticking straight up out of it, he saw the ears of a stuffed rabbit in particular, somewhat dirty from use. Why a grown man had bought something like that was beyond him. He watched until the man disappeared down the road, walking slowly, his face expressionless—robotic.

Jim had gone to bed that night, but didn’t get much sleep—all he could think about was the man with the backpack. When he did sleep, all he saw was a face, screaming and angry, that had two protuberances sticking distinctly out of the skull.

The next day he sat in the same chair in his living room, by the same window that looked out to the street, where he had seen the man with the backpack. The book he had bought a few days ago was in his hands, and he was trying to focus on the pages in front of him, but was having a real hard time paying attention, every few moments his eyes would drift upwards and he would find himself watching—waiting for the man with the backpack.

He had seen several people go down in the direction of the sale, a woman in a white Tahoe had driven down there, and when she came back he could see that her back seat was loaded down with all manner of stuff. The windows were cracked, and a single sleeve from the pile of clothes on top flowed out, reaching into the breeze, trying to escape—

Help me.

—out the window.

Jim watched it disappear and turned back to his book, realizing that he had no idea what was going on in the plot, he had just been grazing through it the whole time. He glanced at the road and thought about that voice he had heard the last time he was at the sale. He thought about the girl—Beverly—who had been yelled at, and that cobalt misty look to her eyes that had been there when she looked at him. That desperation when she had looked at him floated around in his memory, like a ghost that had found the perfect abode in his mind. He didn’t know why she had looked so distressed, aside from Linda firing off at her the way she did. He supposed that Beverly was an employee there, what with all the sales they were making, Bram and Linda probably needed to get some staff. He wasn’t sure what to make of the desperate expression on her face, or the voice—help me—that he was sure was hers. There had to be more to it, he knew that much, there simply had to be more to it.

He looked out the window again, giving up completely on the novel in front of him, setting it down on the coffee table next to him. An untouched cup of coffee that at one time had been steaming, sat next to the novel. He remembered that he had only taken one sip of it; he had been so busy staring out the window at all of the people walking around.

He saw another group walking by, this time they had a child, a little girl, with them. They had packs on their backs as well. They didn’t have the same zombie expression on their faces, he noticed that immediately. They were concerned, the look on their face was one of wariness, as if they were afraid of being seen—embarrassed.

Jim looked at the father immediately, and the little girl seemed to be very close to his side, as if she were hiding on that side of him. Jim really couldn’t get a look at her; only the father and his wife were walking. The father glanced in the direction of Jim’s house, and once Jim knew what he was looking at he took a quick step away from the window.

His breath caught, and the coffee table bumped as the back of his knee came in contact with it, jarring it, sloshing the coffee so it formed an uneven circular wave in the cup, just kissing the rim, just enough to expel a couple of drops of the thick, blackish liquid onto the table top. Jim didn’t notice.

The novel that had been so uninteresting for the whole morning was christened by the coffee, and thick, black drops oozed down the cover, as if the cover itself were weeping—the figures in the illustration an expression that the book had made of absolute despair.

Jim took another step back, and his leg did not bump the table that time. He looked at the man going up the street who had turned his head facing forward, walking with his family, each one of them carrying empty backpacks—heading to the sale, the one where they sold anything.

Yes, anything. 

Jim sat back down quickly, watching the family disappear down the street, the little girl, just about as typical as little girls could go, walked with a slight limp, like she had hurt her ankle or something. The mother was right by her, her hand on the girl’s shoulder. The mother was really quite plain seeming, at least as far as Jim could tell, average height, a good build, very fit. Everything that was quite typical. The father was walking with them, he had a strong, muscular build, a good protector for his family, watching over them with a benevolent eye—strong, angled chin, good overall face structure—the other half of his face had a few small patches of hair that seemed to be remain, but the rest was shiny and red, almost the whole half of his face had been burned off. Red ridges of irritated flesh, spotted with pink patches of new skin. It was poorly bandaged, and obvious that it was somewhat recent, how he was already home and walking around was a mystery, Jim had a theory, but he didn’t want to consider that at the moment. His eye wandered around in the socket, filled with not sadness, or curiosity—but hunger. The look was all too familiar—he was going to buy stuff, not because he needed it, but because he had to.

End of Part 4

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Merchandise - Part 3

THE NEXT couple of weeks flew by surprisingly fast. The days moved as fast as Jim was flipping pages at the end of the Lovecraft collection, grazing over a couple of ads for other titles published by the same publishing house. Some of them he had read, some he hadn’t and thought that they seemed interesting at least.

The days had faded by plenty fast, but he was still trying to fight that one image of Linda in his head, smiling at him, winking.

He had gone home and sat there for hours staring at nothing with the image stamped on his mind, and try as he might it didn’t go away.

He knew that it wasn’t right, not in the least—and he tried as hard as he could to be rid of it, but it ate away at him like a rat gnawing on the wires, those little teeth chomping away until one day they hit the wrong spot—or the right spot, depending on how you look at it—and then it was all over. It would be the same with him if he didn’t get it under control; he knew that, it wasn’t going to end well.

He glanced at the Bible that sat on his desk, the one that he read every morning, and couldn’t believe that he was struggling so hard with something so obvious. He had never been tempted like that before in his entire life. All of the women he had been around, all of them that he had seen, not a one had grabbed his attention like Linda Cain. Maybe it was her perfection, maybe that was it, something about the way her face was set as she looked at his face longingly…

He just wanted to forget it, the sooner that he was able to get victory over it the better. He had gone to church and prayed about it plenty, but it was still a nagging fact at the back of his mind that every now and then whispered to make sure he remembered that it was there.

Jim had thought about going back to the sale for weeks. The day after he had thought about going back, but he knew that would be a bad idea—it was better to avoid the whole situation until he had himself under control.

He set the book down on the table next to him, his big easy chair propped right by his bookcase in his office, the shelves lined with dozens of shining titles, most of which he had read, but a few here and there that were on his “to read” list. He looked down at the book, and wondered why he had the urge to go and buy more books. He had more than enough as it was--the last thing he needed to do was go and get more, but he felt that itch in the back of his mind for a new book.

He really had to focus more on his writing; his agent would be breathing down his neck if he didn’t get a rough draft to him in the next couple of months.

Jim gave a casual glance at the computer and smiled. How long would he sit at the keyboard with the cursor blinking on and off like a demented, electronic metronome and nothing would come out…not even a short story?

All he did was read and think—and try not to think about Linda Cain—for hours. It was about all that he could do. He looked down at his rug and figured that it needed a vacuuming, but he didn’t really feel like doing it. He felt like buying a book.

He knew where he was going to buy it.

His shoes were right by the door, he was already dressed in some jeans and a T-shirt; ready to go on down the road to get another book. He just wasn’t sure that he should. He wanted to, but was it in his best interest?

Jim looked down at the paperback on the table again. Looked at the computer that hadn’t been turned on the whole day, and leaned back into his chair one last time.

Why not, just a book. Nothing else.

He climbed out of the chair, the wooden frame of it creaked in protest as he removed his weight from it and moved across the room, snatching his keys, wallet and knife off of the desk and started to slip them into the different pockets.

Just a book.

He walked slowly out into the very undecorated hallway and began to work his way toward the front door, glancing into each room as he went. He had developed habit of checking rooms as he left, making sure that he hadn’t left any unnecessary lights on since he had seen the obscene power bill that they had sent him the month before.

He crouched for just a moment over his Nikes before they were fastened to his feet and he was standing, unlocking the door, hesitation for just a moment, part of him pulling back, the other part pulling onward. He had to go back and face it down, he just wanted a book, and a temptation was not going to get the best of him.

He slipped out the door, pulling it closed with a scraping whisper. The sun outside was bright, just like before, but the line of clouds could be seen sneaking across the horizon, tiptoeing over rooftops toward the bright light that was bearing down on the street Jim was aiming for. The sun was reflecting brightly on the smooth lines surrounded by sloping, deep road.

He glanced at the shoulder on the other side of the road and saw a couple of kids goofing around in the ditch. One of them, drenched thoroughly with mud, held a stick, as if it were a sword of some kind. The other one held a trashcan lid, obviously a shield, and the little girl was behind both of them, watching. She couldn’t have been more than four, and looked somewhat bored with what was going on.

Those kids had to live pretty close, how close he didn’t know, but he imagined it couldn’t be but only a few houses down. He had to have seen them before. The little girl looked familiar, and her brother—sans mud—looked like one Jim had seen before. He couldn’t quite place their faces, though.

As soon as the kid’s voices faded into the background, the rest of the walk was extremely silent, as if someone had shushed the entire world around him.

It was strange. Eerie.

He looked around the houses on the sides and saw nobody there. It was like everyone had suddenly decided to take an extended vacation to some undisclosed location. The only activity on the street was directly ahead of him, a group of cars parked on the side of the street, right where a towering white fence stood, and a sign out front that called them forward to wade through all of the junk that had been collected for your buying pleasure.

When he got there, he saw a woman with a box under her arm, she was decked out denim, her hair was pulled back, and her eyes were glued to the ground. She moved around him carefully, as if she were afraid he was contagious, looking somewhat ashamed—like she had just walked out of a drug deal.

He continued up to the fence, and saw a lot more customers than he expected. There had to be at least twenty people digging through the stuff, going from bin to bin, glancing, sometimes picking up and object, scanning over it, and either setting it down carefully or throwing it back in like it bit them.

There were a fair amount of diverse people there, he didn’t know where they had all come from. It looked like a bit of everyone had come out to find something. Come one, come all, they sell anything—yes, anything—that you might desire, come on down.

Jim found himself nearly lost as he stared at the customers surveying the junk. They seemed so caught, so hypnotized, by the stuff that he was nearly drawn into it himself—that bitter desire to start searching the stuff for something—anything—that he could take home.

Just a book, I’m only here for a book.

Still that pull was there, he wasn’t sure where it came from, but he knew that it was holding onto him like wet shirt. He looked over at the books, and felt a pull, like a strong vacuum, sucking—a pulsing throb.

Jim pulled his gaze away from the box, and the corners of his vision started to feel fuzzy, like he was about to pass out, and he closed them for just a second, trying to pull himself back together.

What in the world is the matter with me? He wondered. I’ve haven’t ever felt this way.

When he opened his eyes he saw Linda Cain standing with a customer, the sleeves around her waist tied a long sleeved shirt to her like a belt and she was wearing a white T-shirt that looked to be a size too small for her.

Was that on purpose? He suspected it was, and a sick feeling washed over him again. Was this a trap of some kind?

Her fresh stained-wood hair was waterfalling over her shoulders, the sides tucked back by small hairpins. On her wrist was a peculiar pink neon bracelet. She was smiling at the customer, a man in his mid-twenties or so. Her blinks were a little slower, and she bumped him with her shoulder flirtatiously. She was flat-out flirting with the man.

For a moment heat rose in Jim’s ears, and he scanned her face.

That longing was there. It was very present. The kind of longing that didn’t belong on a married woman’s face, the kind that got attention, the kind that was addicting—the kind he had been fighting against. She looked at the customer longingly, lustfully.

I’ve been played. He thought, watching. Just like all the others, I’ve been played. She used herself as a sales technique.

She moved her shoulders carefully, strategically, the way that made sure that she could show off all she wanted. The man was falling for it, like a dog fell for the same fake throw of the squeaky ball every time. Jim wanted to feel disgusted, but he couldn’t, not when realizing that he had been tempted as well—he had fallen for the same trick, chased the same squeaky ball.

He had walked all the way out there, and he wasn’t going to leave empty handed. Ripping his eyes from the man and Linda to the book bin he headed quickly for it. He was going to grab one book, just one.

The paperback titles glared up at him, some with the telltale crease in the spine of being well read and enjoyed. On others, there was maybe a small mark where it had been cracked open, but not really read, not really deeply read. Some books were like that, their spines going from that wonderful straight line to a kind of crooked U. That was one thing about a hardcover that he had to admit, they didn’t deteriorate the same way paperbacks did, but they cost more, took up more space, and were a good amount heavier.

He was beginning to feel the pull play at the back of his mind again, a faint rattle at the back of his skull. He wasn’t sure what it was, but it was something that he knew wasn’t right to let rule him, but at the same time it felt good—real good. Like forbidden fruit.

He pulled another classic out of the stack, passing over all the pulp that lined the bin, and started to flip through, looking for ruined or missing pages.

Linda laughed behind him. It was a loud laugh, one that was unnecessarily drawing attention to her, a bubbly, fake laugh. It was one that didn’t belong on her, just like the T-shirt, and he was sure that it served the same purpose.

You do indeed sell “anything” Linda, even yourself. You even sell your own morality and decency.
He looked up for a moment and saw a young woman with shocking copper hair staring at him. Her eyes were almost unblinking, he waited, and then saw her lids rise and fall. She was under average height, and something else about her looked small, the way she was standing, she looked vulnerable—afraid.
Why is she staring at me?

Jim almost dropped the book as he looked away hastily, trying to ignore her. He moved to another box conveniently marked: MUSIC.

A CD poked out of it, and he grabbed it, just trying to find a diversion. It was a beat-up classical CD; a man with a comb-over was on the front, hunched over a guitar. He tried to keep his attention on the turtleneck-clad man and away from the woman, but he knew she was still watching him.

Jim swiped a quick sweep in her direction and saw that she was still looking at him, her blue, saucer eyes deep with concern and thought. He noted that she looked afraid—very afraid.

He took the CD along with the book and began for Linda, who had just finished talking with the man that had been there before he was. He set the items down on the table carefully.

Linda smiled, bright and easy. She struck a pose that seemed both ridiculous and sexy at the same time. She was trying to toy with him and he knew it. “Hey, there, Jim. Come back so soon?”

“Ran out of stuff to read.” He said. He dared glance behind him to see the copper-haired girl not looking at him anymore. She was walking around the merchandise, glancing at it and counting, as if she were taking inventory.

Did they hire on workers?

“Oh, I’m sure glad you enjoyed them.” The flicker of her lashes shooting up and down, remaining only slightly lowered was barely registered and only later would he think that she was still trying to toy with him. The way she stood was intended to give him a view that would be enticing, he would realize that only later on as well, and he would come to realize for sure that she was trying to hook him—hook him good.

“It’s like I couldn’t put them down, you know?” He said, half distracted by the woman behind him.

“I know, read a few good books in my time.”

“It wasn’t even that, it was more like just the book itself, I just couldn’t get away from it.”

Linda chuckled understandingly. Jim thought there might be more behind it, but he didn’t pursue it further.

“That’ll be five dollars.”

“The CD that much?”

She shook her head, the dark hair flourishing around her. “The book is a dollar and the CD is four.”

Jim reached into his back pocket for his wallet. “Books went up quite a bit.”

“We’re getting more people coming through, and go through more merchandise quicker, and we’re trying to up our quality. Quality costs.”

“I guess.” He handed her the bill. “The other customers find that out?”

“Well, yes, and for more expensive items we designed an easy-payment system. They can pay it off over time, or all at once.”

“How many use that option?”

“Quite a few. Some people go for one-fifty at a time, or five hundred.”

“People buy that much stuff here?”

“You’d be surprised.” She grinned, those perfect teeth shining. “We do eventually work off a limit, if they don’t pay up after a certain amount of time, or rack up more than enough, then they aren’t allowed to buy any more till them pay up.”

“Sounds fair. What if they never pay?”

“We devised an option for that, if they can’t afford it, then we work out a trade.”

Jim set five dollars down. “What do you trade? Do they honestly have something that would be worth that much?”

“Most do.” Her smile faded. “We don’t give away secrets though. All of our trades are private. Most of the time it takes a little more prompting for them to trade, but we try to work it out peacefully.”
“What do you mean?”

Linda took the money and set it in her little box and passed the book and CD back to him. Her face was changing rapidly as she watched something behind him.

He took the book and CD.

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” She screeched and rushed from behind the table, losing her pose, and baring her teeth in a stare of absolute rage.

Jim looked where she was heading.


He saw the target of her rage was the copper-headed young woman, hastily putting down a large pot—it looked like very nice china.

He watched Linda go for the young woman. Her hands were clenched together in fists, and her eyes were bulging.

“Linda?” He said.

Linda flashed a look of rage back at him, and for a moment he wasn’t sure if he was looking at a human, her face had changed so dramatically that he hardly recognized her. Veins stood out, and two tiny protuberances were noticeable on her forehead, or at least he thought they were.

She turned away and back at the woman, shouting and swearing at her. “BEVERLY, YOU RETARD, I TOLD YOU NOT TO TOUCH THINGS!” Her hand flashed out and made contact with the girl’s face, causing her head to jerk backwards. “Get back where you belong.” Linda pointed to a tent.

The girl bowed her head to the ground and started for the tent. Jim watched her a moment. She looked in his direction, her eyes a steamy blue, foggy with tears.

Help me. A desperate voice pleaded.

He did not see her mouth move, but he knew that it had come from her, there was no way that he could confirm it, but he knew that the voice had to have come from the young woman. She ducked back in the tent.

Jim looked back at Linda who was back to her normal self, and turned slowly, composed, and headed back for the table. Her face was completely normal. He looked right where he thought the two little lumps had been, but there was nothing, not on either side. He had to have been imagining it, for a moment he thought he had seen horns. But that was impossible.

Jim looked down and saw that he still had the book and CD in his hand; he began for the gate, anxious to get away from the place as soon as possible. He didn’t know why, but he felt like someone was watching him.

End of Part 3

Apprehended - A Short Story

Saturday night. Wilson sat hunched at his kitchen table, arms resting on the tabletop. Beside him, a shortwave radio spilled classical music into the air. Bach, he thought it was. He wasn't sure which piece, but he didn't care. To listen, to drink in the richness of the music – that was all he wanted. He relaxed and closed his eyes and buried his head in his arms.

A crackle of static sizzled through the speakers and made Wilson jump. He eyed the radio with annoyance and reached out to mess with the dial. Suddenly a man's voice cut into the air, crisp and authoritative and demanding to be heard. Wilson pulled his hand away and listened, curious.

“We interrupt this program,” said the voice, “to bring you this important news bulletin. One hour ago, convicted murderer James Laarson escaped from police custody and is now at large in the city. Laarson is five-foot three, black-haired, clean shaven, and carries a scar above his left eye. He is armed and extremely dangerous. The police advise -”

Wilson flicked the radio switch off – silence. He sat back in his chair and ran one hand through his hair thoughtfully. An escaped convict was roaming the streets of his home city: that didn't happen very often. Not that he needed to be alarmed. He had no reason to think the killer was strolling up and down this particular street in this particular neighborhood. There were hundreds of streets and hundreds of neighborhoods. Why should he choose this one?

Why not? The counter-question buzzed insistently at the back of Wilson's brain. He tried to ignore it: it wouldn't be ignored. He sighed and pushed back his chair and got to his feet. It couldn't hurt to be cautious.

He inspected all the downstairs windows and made sure each one was closed and locked. Then he checked the front and back doors, both of which featured two bolts. Wilson generally used only one; tonight he used both. Having satisfied himself on all accounts, he turned off the lights and went upstairs. The radio sat on the kitchen table, cold and quiet and in the dark.

Upstairs there were two bedrooms – Wilson's own and one intended for guests. The latter was seldom used, but Wilson checked it anyway. The window on the far side of the room was open, ushering in a cool night draft. He slid it shut, then tried the locks. They were stuck fast. He swore. They'd been that way for months, and he hadn't bothered to get them replaced. He drew the curtains closed. Nothing he could do about it now.

Wilson entered his own room, locking the door behind him. He locked the window, too. Then he undressed and pulled on his pajamas. Before crawling into bed, he opened the drawer of his nightstand and took out the revolver he'd stashed there. He had bought it years ago at a local gun show, never used it except on the shooting range. He held it in his hands for a minute, then slipped it under his pillow. Just in case.

Darkness. Silence.


Wilson's eyes shot open. He blinked, getting accustomed to the blackness, and then looked around the room. The bright red digits on the clock face showed two forty-one am – five hours since he'd retired to sleep. Something had woken him – he wasn't sure what, but something had. He listened, straining to catch the slightest sound.


His heart beat quickened. He felt under his pillow and grasped the gun.


It was right outside his bedroom door now. The tread of feet trying not to be heard. Impossible, he thought. The noise ceased. He listened. He could hear heavy breathing. The door knob clicked as an unseen hand tried to turn it.

Wilson pointed the revolver at the door and fired. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Click.

The air trembled as the reports gave way to screaming silence. Wilson sat frozen, hardly daring to move, the gun smoking and empty in his trembling hands. Finally, after what seemed like an hour, he stirred himself and threw off the covers and switched on the lamp beside his bed. He reloaded his gun, then stood up and edged cautiously toward the door. Six holes riddled the thin plywood frame. He shuddered. There was a click as he drew back the hammer on his gun.

He listened for a full minute without hearing a thing. Slowly, he opened the door and stepped out, gun held at arm's length. All was quiet. Nothing stirred in the darkened hallway. He flipped the light switch, flooding the place with an intense yellowy whiteness. He looked.

Blood spatters decorated the wall and carpet with lurid crimson brilliance. Less than five feet away, at the head of the stairs, lay the body of the intruder. His expressionless face stared up at the ceiling and one hand clutched a small semi-automatic. His chest was a mess. And above his left eye was a scar.

Wilson sank to the floor in relief, only to be hit by a wave of nausea. He vomited all over the red-stained carpet, vomited until he had nothing left, until his stomach was empty. He dry-heaved for a full-minute. Then he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and got up and staggered back into his bedroom. He picked up the phone and began punching the numbers with his forefinger.

“Hello, operator?” he rasped. “Get me the police.”

There was a pause, then a voice: “Officer Harrison speaking. What -”

“Officer,” Wilson said, weeping his words into the receiver, “this is Wilson Donaghue, one thirty-six South, Chancery Street. I've just shot James Laarson.”

No response.

“Don't you hear me?” Wilson was almost hysterical by now. “I've just shot James Laarson! I've killed him, dead, on the floor, do you hear?”

“Sir,” Harrison cut in sharply, “that's not possible.”

“What? What d'you mean 'not possible'!”

“Sir, we apprehended James Laarson over two hours ago. He's in custody now.”

Corey Poff is first and foremost a sinner saved by grace alone. He's sixteen, an avid writer, and a lover of books, movies, music, logic, Reformed theology, history, guns, and the great outdoors. And Italian food.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Merchandise Published on Smashwords

If you would like to read the whole story Merchandise, it is now available for free download from on the link below.

It will still be published as a serial story here on Novel Idea, but if you really want to know how it ends right now, you can download it in any format, free of charge. And in case there are those who want to just follow the story on the blog, I would ask that there be no spoilers in the comment section, if you would please.

Thanks for your awesome support!

 “Merchandise is an excellent book—a real page turner. Read it in one sitting.” – Kurt Frazier, author of 49098 to 36575

Download the story here. And if you have Shelfari, it is already listed there.

Here is the book trailer for it as well on YouTube.