Joshua’s Moon

crescent-moon-watercolor-painting-silver-blue-gray-abstract-half-moon-art-print-joanna-szmerdt

I approached Joshua with caution.

We were in a twenty floor high rise overlooking the FDR Drive. Joshua was having an intense episode and dangerously near an open window.

“Where’s Joshua?” I discreetly pulled the syringe from its case.  “Can you get Joshua for me?”

“He’s resting,” Joshua calmly answered.

“Wake him.”

Joshua faced me. “No.”

My son’s illness had returned with a vengeance. The prescribed medicines were useless. Ineffective.

“Why not?” I asked.

“It hurts him to say goodbye.”

My stomach turned. “Goodbye?”

“He perceives what’s at stake.” Joshua sat on the window sill.

“Slow down, honey.”

“He understands sacrifice.” Joshua pointed to the moon, revealing cuts on his forearms. “I must take his body.”

Not this again, I thought.

“What happens if you take it?”

“Joshua goes wherever things go when they cease to exist.”

“He’ll die?”

“I’m unsure if nothingness is akin to dying.”

Now’s my chance.

I snatched Joshua from the window and pinned him to the ground.

“The earth is in peril.” Joshua didn’t struggle. “I’m the planets only hope.”

Nothing behind his eyes. The boy talking was not my Joshua.

I injected the needle into his arm.

Warmth immediately returned to Joshua’s eyes.

“Mom?” Josh whimpered.

I squeezed him tight.

“No!” He ripped away from me and rushed the window.

“Joshua!” I chased Joshua to the window.

The view of the sky weakened my knees. Impossible.

The moon. Crumbling to pieces.

“Why didn’t you let me go?” Josh asked with tears in his eyes.

Assassins Curse III:”… slippery edge.”

Biting lips

Part I Here

Part II Here

She licked the venomous gloss from her lips. Swallowed hard.

It’s done. Now it was her turn. To die. To set herself free.

The negligee she wore was literally to die for. Red and glossy all over with a candy coated sheen.  She was a heartshaped box of chocolate wrapped in a silk ribbon. To die for. 

She smirked.

The perfect outfit for the perfect night.

She admired the full Red Moon– shades lighter than her silk negligee. She admired the shining constellations. Tracing them with her fingertips. Admired the post-midnight darkness spreading illusions of clean, shimmering Rose City harbors. She knew better.

“Proud now, mother?” She laughed as she dried tears.

One kiss. One taste of her poison. Widows orgasm. Slow agonizing death in a lipstick dispenser.

She’d taken vials of his blood. A sweet chaser for her champagne and deadly venom she concocted for him.

She longed for the power to resurrect the dead. So she can disarm him again with her pleasure. So she can reintroduce him to the worst agony. Over and over again. For several goddam eternities.

She finished her aged champagne. Tossed the bottle over the railing.

“Fuck!” She screamed into the watery abyss below.

His face. Etched into her nightmares. Her wrists.

She took years preparing body and mind for him. Advanced degree. Martial arts. Gun ranges were her sanctuary. The men she fucked. Women. The countless people she killed. Mobsters. Assassins. Law enforcement. Friends. Her innocence. Her humanity. Parts of her capable of feeling love. She murdered them all. For him. And all it took was a simple kiss. She wanted more. Needed more from him. There had to be more.

She climbed over the bridge railing. Tightroped along the slippery edge.

Murdering him was supposed to release her. Free them from purgatory. But slaying the demon only blackened her void.

Turbulent waves below. Sharp concrete slabs from broken platforms blanketed by waters.

She’d condemned herself to hell. Their faces were fading. He’s rotting but still robbing her of everything. She’ll jump. She’ll shatter on impact. She’ll drown and see their faces clearly once again.

The memory of his body turning cold made her lip quiver. Warmed her pelvis.

She gripped the railing. Clasped her eyes.

The sound of the crashing waters a hundred feet below piqued memories of the spa where she ended his life. Of her breasts pressed against his slender, muscular frame.

She trembled.

I… hate.. you… 

She parted her robe. Parted her lower lips with her fingertips. Slow, deep circular motions to spread the wetness running down her thighs.

Her one-handed grip on the rail was slackening.

She bit down hard on her bottom lip as her body erupted.

“You… took… Everything… from… me.” She moaned.

Fwoop! A sharp pinch on her neck.

Warmth vanished. Replaced with arctic cold. Rage. Dizziness.

She faced her assailant.

“My love.” He withdrew the needle from her neck.

“You!” She jerked away from him and lost her grip on the railing.

Scale Lord’s Victory

Scale lord

She stomped on the demon’s chest. Used the leverage to dislodge the divine spear of E’lees from its belly.

The Demon’s breaths were shallow. Its crushed rib cage slowly rising and sinking beneath her heels. Its long, shattered wings flapping wildly as if trying to escape its broken body.

The Demon spat in her face. “Finish me, insect!”

She plunged the consecrated spear through the Demon’s left eye. Twisted. Drilled it into the back of its skull. No regeneration this time. 

Swooooosh! Escaped souls fired from the Demon’s socket. Ricocheted through the room like vexed lightning.

One more. 

She raised the glowing spear to deliver the finishing thrust.

“Prophecy always prevails,” The Demon whispered.

Not this time. 

She spent her childhood training to combat her so-called prophecy. Awaiting battle against the fate, clerics and superstitious townspeople claimed was inescapable. One strike to its remaining eye and none of it comes to pass. One more strike and she’s free.

The Demon cackled. “See ya.”

She plunged the spear into the Demon’s remaining eye.

Shrieking souls exploded from its skull. Destroyed her remaining dark magic artifacts and sigils in the room. Shattered the towering stain-glass windows.

She withdrew the spear. Wiped demon’s bile from her eyes. Lowered from its corpse before collapsing to a knee upon landing.

Victory. 

“E’lees,” She praised.

She couldn’t free every abducted soul.  The souls used for sustenance and to power the Demon’s machines… Gone forever.

“E’lees, forgive me.”

Movement!

She trained the spear on the quivering Demon.

Hiss… The Demon’s form disintegrated to ash. The ash quickly dissolved in the breeze.

She exhaled.

Relief. Exhaustion.

Its done. The goddess E’lees granted her strength. The will. The arsenal. All she needed to defeat the Demon. To defeat prophecy. To prove mortals weren’t slaves to destiny.

Iku… I’m coming home. 

She shuffled to a shattered window to bathe in the the sunlight. To inhale the sweet scent of grass on the breeze. To take in the sound of caroling birds.

Hell’s ice was thawing. Life was returning to the region. She was going home where there were endless hills, waterfalls and flowers.

To see Iku… To disembowl every thing you love. 

She gasped.

I didn-

Murderous thoughts increasing. Defeaning. Consciousness being crushed. Replaced by another.

Kill them all. Destroy everything… you… I care about.

“I defeated you!” She took an attack position. “You’re-”

Forearm burning…

“Ach!” She rolled up her sleeve.

Black scales formed on her arms and across her collar bone. Organs rapidly shifting. Expanding. Growing.

“Iku, I-”

She’s dying. But she’d never felt stronger. More alive.

“I’m sorry.” She released the spear.

She jerked forward. Landed on all fours.

They tore through her flesh. Her shoulder blades. Her prickly black wings whooshed angrily.

She cried. Tears of pain. Tears of sadness. Tears of laughter.

Prophecy prevailed as it should. She gleefully embraced what she’s meant to become… The Scale Lord. World devourer. Her true self. Fate.

She smirked. “I’m coming for you, Iku.”

She took flight.

Cold Dinner

 

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He vehemently stared at the screen.

Technopathy failed. Nothing creative or profound had materialized in his thoughts or Word Processor. His muse was an unsurprising no-show. Why waste inspiration on atrocious writers like him? Right?

“What’s up?” She asked.

“Suffering.” He typed a paragraph.

“Food’s getting cold.”

“Cool.” He deleted everything.

“Hurry… Eat.” She rested a full plate between them. “You’re probably hungry.”

“Probably am…”  He reached for the plate.

Stomach’s tight. Extremely lethargic.

He hadn’t eaten sinc-

Pap!

She slapped the biscuit out of his hand. “Food’s on the stove.”

Seriously?” He asked.

“Grab yourself a plate.”

Well, damn.

Ghoul’s Night Out

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She perused the menu of the expensive, five pentagram rated restaurant.

A posh, dark ages style torture room decor with stunning views of the unholiest realms.

Perfect for their Ghoul’s night out.

“Let’s see it,” Bestie demands.

She reaches her ring hand across the table.

Bestie closely examines the gem. “Two trapped souls?!”

“I know!” She shrieks.

“Lucky ghoul.”

“And… he loves children,” She adds. “Lightly seasoned… Well done.”

“Your fave.”

“Ahhh… bestie remembers!”

Fiery portals open above their tables. Flaming tentacles place two cauldrons of Boiling Hot primordial soup before them.

“Roanoake U Coven reunion tomorrow.” Bestie tastes the soup.

“The Black Lipstick slut sorority?”

Bestie squints. “Didn’t you pledge?”

“Yes… Before you sacrificed me to the demon, Bilquis.”

Bestie nods. “You’re welcome.”

“Whatever.” She laughs. “Hows dating life?”

Tentacles deliver blood champagne.

“Screwed one of the four,” Bestie answers.

“Horseman?”

Bestie smirks. “Famine.”

“Thought you’d prefer War.”

Too aggressive.”

“Wow… You’ve matured.”

“Two hundredth birthday just passed.”

“Happy belated.”

“I guess…” Bestie frowns.

“Your soulless mate exists. I promise.”

“Yeah, sure,” Bestie sighs.

Explore… Date warlocks.”

“Religious nuts? No thanks.”

“Zombies?”

“Followers. One track minds.”

“Oooh, Vampires? They’re romantic.”

“Total racists.” Bestie replies.  “Briefly dated a succubus.”

“When?

“That semester in Purgatory.”

“Hmmm…. Mummies?”

“Terrible dressers.”

“Wolves?”

“Wild in bed.” Bestie flashes missing finger. “Too wild.”

“Frankenstein.”

“Happily married.”

She groans.

“Ghoul, stop! I’m… fine.”

“You sure?”

Bestie nods and raises glass. “Tonights about you and your unholy union.”

“I guess,” She raises glass.

They share a toast.

 

Jack and Cake

Jack and cake

He remembered my birthday. Nobody remembers my birthday except my mother and Facebook.

I scarfed a piece of my shortcake and washed it down with my nightly medicine.

Straight jack out the bottle. No ice, no chaser. Dark. Strong. Painful going in especially when I take it to the head. Heavenly for my body, short term. Probably damaging my spirit– if I believed in that sort of thing, but oh so good for my mind. I’ll take the headaches. Next-day regrets. Just bring me ecstasy. Pleasure. That hard sleep I haven’t had since I was a child.

I ate another slice.

Sweet, soft, and rich like the nice brother down the hall who brought it for me. Such a solid dude. Always doing nice things for me. And I do nothing for him in return. Nice guy.

I slipped on my favorite lace panties. A skirt short enough to be a blouse.

Something comfortable that I could easily pull up or pull to the side if I was feeling adventurous.

Its. My. Birthday. 

“God damn.” I grabbed my belly roll then looked over my shoulder.

My ass was definitely fatter too. Shit.

My mood darkened. I’m thirty five. Metabolisms slow at that age. Mom was skinny up to about my age as well. She was also married to Dad. Had two kids and was a decade into her nursing career. I was still hitting clubs and putting on expensive lingerie and my best perfume to fuck guys who never remembered my birthday or where they met me.

I lowered the music.

“The fuck?” I whispered to myself.

I felt weak. Emotional. Lost.

Nice brother down the hall tells me I had a pretty face. Even with the smile lines. Guys I messed with compliment my shape and how good I feel. But never how my eyes squint when I laugh. Interesting that the one guy that says the most beautiful things about me was the last man I’d think about fucking.

I ate another piece. Smaller than the last. Turned up the music. Started to whine like I was playin mas in Trinidad.

“I love soca!” I screamed.

Fuck the neighbors. It’s my birthday.

My phone rang.

Shit… nice brother from down the hall calling.

Forgot he had my number.

“Hmmm…” I watched the phone.

Nice brother was sweet… but can sweet collapse my walls and have me sore and shuffling like The Walking Dead into work the next day? Can sweet grab me by the hair and have me screaming bloody murder into my pillow case? Would sweet give me panic attacks and have me shaking, tossing, and turning at night in anticipation of getting split into oozing, bruised up pieces? Sorry… Sweet can’t.

I pushed ignore. “Maybe next time.”

I tossed the cake in the trash. Deepthroated the Jack bottle as I cranked up the music.

It’s my birthday. I wanted strong not sweet. I’d text nice brother gratitude tomorrow. Now, I’m enjoying what youth I have left.

Assassins Curse II: “She’s everything…”

Read Part I here.

His insides were bleeding.

Deteriorating organs. Malfunctioning brain. Heart. Lungs. Fading.

Half paralyzed.

Never felt this way before. Weak… Falling to pieces… In love. So in love.

He’d escaped from the trunk of an old car. Gutted two watchmen patrolling the area. Kept one alive for questioning.

Head cloudy.

She used something potent.  A deadly agent. He died twice. Returned once. For another taste of her succulent lips. Her poison kiss. An aphrodisiac. The things she did to him. She’s the closest to heaven he’d ever be.

“Where’s this?” He struck the guard.

“Scrapyard.” Guard trembled.

He narrowed his eyes. Scanned area for landmarks.

Grandmother’s tune flooding my thoughts…

“Not yet.” He whispered an answer to his grandmother’s calls.

“What?” Guard looked frightened and perplexed.

Eyes blurring. Glowing, mountainous silhouettes of city skylines. The ports. Shipping containers across rivers.

Definitely the East Side. Cross town. Way across town. She meant for me to disappear. Cars get crushed in the morning.

“Who dropped me?” He asked.

He snapped the Guard’s pinky finger.

“Fuck man!”

“A woman?” He gently gripped another finger.

“Yes!”

“How long?”

“Six… Six hours. No seven.”

“Six or seven?”

“Seven! Right after second shift.”

No weapons. No matter. He’s efficient with bare hands. Precise. Guard better not try anything.

He thought of her hands as he dragged Guard by the hair into the security room.

Thoughts of her caressing his chest. Writing love letters in cursive with her fingernails down his stomach.

He ordered Guard into a corner.

“I’m sorry,” Guard pleaded.

“I know,” he replied.

He recalled footage. Hours ago.

There…

His heart fluttered…

An angelic woman. Graceful. Pure sorcery in blood red silk as she dragged his body to the trunk before disappearing off camera. Our first dance.

The bridge. Certain that’s where she’s heading.

They were connected. Intertwined. She’s everything to him. Everything he never knew he needed.

“Your phone,” He demanded.

Guard slowly offered his phone. “You were dead, man.”

“I believe you,” He calmly replied.

Guard had pictures in his phone. Loving wife. Kids.

Love didn’t exist to him until six… no, seven hours ago. Before his killer wrapped her lips around him.

He dialed.

Screen glaring. Characters blurring. Head throbbing.

He pushed call.

“Hello?” A woman answered.

“Hello, sister.” He replied.

“Starvation. Pestilence. War. Death,” Sister said.

“I pray for healing.” He answered.

“God hears all prayers.”

“Thank you, Sister.”

Call ended.

Vrrrrr. Vrrrrr. Cell phone vibrating. Unknown Caller.

He answered. “ I’m… poisoned.”

“Specifics?” Sister asked.

“Unknown… Fast acting.” He cleared sweat from his forehead.

“How long?”

“Seven hours.”

“Who did it?”

“The mark.”

“Delivery system?”

“Lipstick.”

“She alive?”

“Yeah.”

“Poisoned too?”

“Maybe.”

“I’ll track her.” Sister suggested.

“Not necessary.”

He knew her location.

“Client won’t be happy.”

He coughed. Spat blood.

“Cancel the contract… return the money.”

Sister was silent. Frustrated breaths. Sister was contemplating something. Next steps. Betraying him.

“Someone will arrive soon.”

“Thanks…” He had a thought. “Wait.”

“Yes.”

“Send… Roses.”  He said. “And champagne. Top-shelf.”

Part 3 soon.

“Ilana’s call”

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Ilana frantically searched for her car keys and taser. She was an hour late for her tattoo appointment with ‘Freeze’, the only tattoo artist capable of drawing Buttercup and Blossom. See, Freeze was an ill-tempered and impatient drag queen with switchblades who moonlighted as a bar-tending dominatrix at a bar frequented by homicide detectives. She understood having two jobs. Understood life as an enterprising diva. Tatts and hairdos don’t pay for themselves. She needed to get her ass in her car.
She snatched her keys and was about to leave when her phone rang.
“What?” She answered.
“June’s calling,” Camaiyah said.
“Impossible,” She replied.
“Seriously.”
“Can’t be him.”
“What do I do?”
“He can’t trace anything back to you.“ She leaned against the counter. “Even if he did manage to escape.”
“Back to us.”
“Don’t do that,” Ilana warned. “There’s no us.”
“I’m not the one who hacked him.”
“You paid me. I did a job.” Ilana used her phone to trace Camaiyah’s location. “I’m just a third-”
Her phone buzzed.
“Party…” She checked her phone. “He’s calling?”
“How did he-”
“Shut up.” Ilana interrupted as she frantically pushed ignore.
But the screen was frozen. Phone kept ringing. Text and email inboxes flooding.
“Damn it.”
“What?”
Phone answered on its own. Speaker phone activated…. on its own.
“I know you’re there, Ilana,” June said.
Camaiyah was silent. Breathing hard. Swallowing spit.
“I know everything,” June said. “I just want to talk.”
‘Lies’ she thought. June wanted vengeance.
“Okay, lets talk.”

Assassins Curse I: “…her frozen heart.”

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Assassins were bewitched by her smile. Her thickness. Her full, succulent lips. Her sharp glances, piercing him deep.

His hand trembled as he aimed.

His red dot. Between her bosoms. Inches left of her frozen heart. All he had to do was squeeze. Empty his clip and end it.

“Someone hired you?” She asked.

“Yes,” He replied.

“Who?”

“Someone who don’t like you much.”

“Shame.”

She stepped closer.

“What’s stopping you?”

“Nothing.” He didn’t know what else to reply.

Disoriented. Weak. Blind with desire. Consumed.

She disarmed him with a smirk.

That’s all it took. A smirk.

His grandmother forewarned him about her.

Son… Karma will come for you…  His grandmother would say.  And poison you with her smile…

He never took his grandmother seriously. An old southern woman with superstitions and stories of evil spirits and spells. And curses. She wasn’t one to take seriously.

She undressed him. Button by button.  Backed him slowly towards the pool.

He couldn’t help himself. Frozen. Immobile.

She circled him as she disrobed. Lassoed his neck with her nightwear. Lead him towards the bubbling Jacuzzi. Stripped him of everything he had.

Gun. Knife. Keys. His free will.

“Want to know something?” She asked.

“What?”

“I knew you’d come.” She pressed her warm body against his. “You have a possession of mine.”

“Your heart?” He answered.

“No,” she replied.

“Your love?”

“Getting colder.”

“Your body?”

“Keep guessing.”

She was calm. Unlike her heart. Her heart raced.

She pulled close. Fulfilled one desire. Fulfilled desires he was unaware of.

“You owe me something,” She said.

“I do?”  

She nodded.

“Want to know what?” She asked.

“Yes.”

She tiptoed to reach his ear.

“Life. You owe me a life.” She whispered. 

He staggered  back. Wiped his nose.

Leaking nostrils. Red covering his fingertips.

She kissed him on the cheek. “For all the lives you ruined.”

He heard his grandmother’s voice… Calling.

Come on home, son… face judgment. 

No… Not yet… Please. Not now.

He collapsed. Struggled to move. Breathe.

“Sleep well, my love.” She smiled. “Send the devil my deepest regards.”

Shit… 

Read Part II here.