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Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

thespot.jpg
Art by KJ Hannah Greenberg 2019

The Spot

 

Rick McQuiston

 

          "I thought you said you cleaned it?" Heather spat at her husband. "I can still see a spot on it."

          Adam rolled his eyes. "I did clean it." He gestured to a bottle of glass cleaner.

          Heather wasn't convinced. "Whatever, all I know is I see a giant spot in the middle of the mirror."

          Forcing himself from his worn but comfortable recliner Adam lumbered over to where his clean-crazy wife stood with her arms folded. "Where? Where is this so-called…"

          The words died in his throat.

          A dark spot, dead center on the otherwise gleaming surface of the glass, glared out at him like the eye of a cyclops. How he had missed it, he couldn't begin to guess.

Heather grunted in satisfaction. "You see? I told you." Her words dripped venom.

The spot moved on the glass then. It gyrated in light semi-circles, rotating in one direction and then the other, as if testing its boundaries.

Adam stepped forward, coming to within inches of the mirror.

"Adam, what are you doing?"

Adam heard Heather's words, but they seemed distant.

He touched the spot with his finger.

At first the sensation was not unlike a mild electrical jolt, but somehow pleasant. He looked at his finger. It was smudged with a charcoal-black substance similar to soot and rubbing it on his thumb, he noticed that it wiped away easily.

Heather came up behind him and peered around his shoulder. "Did it come off?" she asked.

          Adam brushed his fingers on his pants. "Yeah," he replied with a hint of uneasiness in his voice. "It's clean now."

          Feeling relieved, Heather turned and left the room. "Good," she said casually as she walked into the kitchen. "I'll make us some lunch."

Adam nodded and stumbled over to his chair. He was feeling disoriented and needed to sit. He flopped down in the recliner and closed his eyes, clearing his mind as he breathed in deeply.

"Ham sandwich okay?" Heather called out from the kitchen. She waited for a few seconds, a loaf of bread in her hand. "Adam? Did you hear me?" She set the bread down on the counter and walked back into the living room. "Adam?"

She choked on her words.

Adam was sprawled out across the chair. His complexion was a ghastly white, his eyes sightless orbs that stared at nothing. His mouth, drool at the corners, was like a bottomless chasm waiting for someone to fall into it. And his arms were bent at impossible angles.

But the worst part was what Heather didn't see.

           Adam's entire midsection was missing. His chest down to his groin was nothing more than a gaping hole, blacker than midnight in a grave, revealing nothing in or behind it. It was as if something had dissolved him.

Heather stumbled back into a wall. She struggled for breath and her head spun in a thousand different directions. The man she loved was dead and the fact that she might be next was not lost on her. She turned and ran into the kitchen, her eyes focusing on the back door. Then the knife block on the counter caught her attention. Escape was her first choice, but anger welled up inside her soul.

She snatched a large knife from its slot and spun around. What she would do she wasn't sure, but she would somehow avenge Adam.

She walked into the living room and was engulfed before she could defend herself.

*                 *                 *                 *

Meredith stopped in front of the house. Her dog, an energetic miniature dachshund named Rocky homed in on the front door and stiffened his posture.

Meredith studied the house. Heather and her husband Adam lived there. They'd say hello from their front porch when she walked by with Rocky. But Rocky had sensed something, and he was never wrong about those things. When he felt that something was amiss it always was.

There were no lights on inside, despite dusk settling over the town, but that wasn't unusual. Perhaps Heather and Adam weren't home.

Then the front door creaked open, exposing a wall of pitch darkness behind it.

Rocky began to howl. He bared his teeth and tightened his haunches. He sensed something was wrong and was intent on letting his master know.

The door opened more, loosening on its hinges as it did so. It then fell away into the darkness, crashing into the abyss without so much as a sound.

Meredith had seen enough. She pulled Rocky along behind her, ignoring all the noise he was making. She needed to alert the authorities. They'd know what to do.

Yanking her cell phone from her pocket she fumbled with the screen, trying to call 9-1-1.

Rocky's barking suddenly changed to a whimper and he curled his tail between his legs, cowering next to his owner. His change of demeanor was obvious, made all the more frightening by the fact that he didn't take his eyes off the source of his fear: the house.

However, Meredith didn't notice her pet's odd behavior. She was busy trying to reach the authorities.

She didn't notice Rocky.

She didn't notice him shivering at her feet.

         She didn't notice the man-shaped mass of darkness rapidly lumbering toward her.


Rick McQuiston is a fifty-one year old father of two who loves anything horror-related. He's had over 400 publications so far, and written five novels, thirteen anthologies, one book of novellas, and edited an anthology of Michigan authors. He's also a guest author each year at Memphis Junior High School. Currently, he's working on two new novels.



KJ Hannah Greenberg captures the world in words and images. Her latest photography portfolio is 20/20: KJ Hannah Greenberg Eye on Israel. Her most recent poetry collection is Mothers Ought to Utter Only Niceties (Unbound CONTENT, 2017). Her most recent fiction collection is the omnibus, Concatenation (Bards & Sages Publishing, 2018).

Recently, Hannah’s seventh short story collection was published by Bards and Sages Publishing.

The publisher writes: "Bards and Sages Publishing is pleased to bring readers Walnut Street, our seventh short story collection by KJ Hannah Greenberg. Greenberg’s flair for the peculiar and eclectic shines through in this collection of over fifty flash and short fiction works featuring anthropomorphic starship pilots, angsty authors, strange neighbors, and more."

Walnut Street is available on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Walnut-Street-KJ-Hannah-Greenberg-ebook/dp/B07T4HB9S9/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?keywords=kjhannah+greenberg+walnut+street&qid=1561063957&s=gateway&sr=8-1-fkmr0

Volumes One through Five of the KJ Hannah Greenberg Short Story Collection at 50% off the list in an exclusive bundle only at 

https://www.drivethrufiction.com/product/156488/Greenberg-BUNDLE?affiliate_id=51852





In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2019