The Bite of an Apple

The apartment smelled like formaldehyde, a smell that soothed Romano as he pushed his legs back into his recliner and stared at the flickering black and white image on his now-antique video set. The old analog signal didn’t pick up television anymore, so he had resorted to playing the same VHS tapes over and over, recordings of news broadcasts of missing people, from adults to children, over the past three decades across the United States.

Romano liked that about the news. He liked that they hadn’t been solved the puzzle yet, that no one had been able to find out who did it. It was a mystery, a sense of unknown mystery surrounding the bodies of girls and boys being dumped somewhere by the same mysterious killer, all completely untouched except for the fact that every single one had been dumped missing every tooth in their body.

The case had been going on for years, and every time a new body was found Romano would record the news and watch it over and over. Until the analog went out. Then, he just imagined how they all would respond.

Pouring himself another glass of bottom shelf whiskey, Romano rose from his recliner and walked over to the tattered rug in the corner. Kicking it aside, he revealed a wooden door in the floor of his tiny one bedroom home. Bending over, his back almost creaking with reluctance as tired muscles stretched beyond their limit, he lifted the door and began climbing down the ladder into the darkness.

Feeling around in the nothing that surrounded him, he reached for the chain dangling to his left to bring light to his damp, dark cavern. As the old incandescent bulb flickered to life, the room filled with a soft yellow light, bringing into view a girl who was maybe eleven or twelve years old, her body strapped to a metal table with a drain beneath her head.

Romano walked over to her side, taking no notice of her rapid breathing and the tears streaking down her cheeks. Grabbing a wooden wedge off the tray beside the girl’s head, Romano carefully slipped it between her teeth, forcing her mouth open. Reaching back to the table, he grabbed a scalpel and a set of pliers. Clasping down on her front tooth, he began to pull, all the while carefully scraping away at the girl’s gums to ensure the tooth retained its perfect shape as it was removed.

She screamed, tried to escape, but the binds were fastened too tight around her to allow any real range of motion except the exasperated pleas of desperation that fell flat on the sound-proofed walls. Then, as he made the final yank and the tooth came free, the girl fell silent, her body giving into the pain and slipping her mind into silence.

Romano worked carefully for almost two hours, until every tooth was removed and placed in a small bowl beside the girl’s head. Looking down at the bowl full of teeth, he felt a calmness come over him. This was where the real art began. Crossing the room to the freezer, he removed a bright red apple and returned to the table. Cutting a slice across its center in the shape of a crude and malicious grin, he carefully began to insert the teeth into the soft innards of the apple.

The work was careful, a true piece of art in the form of an apple, now smiling brightly at the world with a mouth full of perfect, white teeth.

Picking up a mason jar, he filled it with formaldehyde and dropped the apple inside. Walking to the wall, he placed the jar on the fourth shelf down, in a spot marked 62. Stepping back, he marveled at his work. 62 jars, 62 smiling apples, ranging in color from red to green to yellow to everything in-between.

He stared for several minutes, just admiring his work, taking in every creation he had made over the years, from young teeth to old teeth, from perfect smiles to heinous ones. Sighing quietly, he walked back to the ladder and pulled the the chain, sucking the light out of the room before ascending back into his quiet little home.

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Cyclist

A young soon-to-be American was walking down the street of his passport country of England. He was heading from Eton Wick to Windsor, a thirty minute walk along side the road. As he walked,  he saw in the distance a man on a bicycle. He thought little of it, dropped his head, and continued along his way.

Not long into his walk, the young man looked up again to find himself nearly passing the cyclist. As he approached, he realized the man on the seat of his bike, pedaling extremely slowly, was in his early eighties. The young boy, passing on foot, turned and smiled to the cyclist. He said, a smile still upon his face, “It’s strange, passing a cyclist on foot my friend.”

The old man smiled back, bowing his head slightly. “Young man,” said the cyclist, “life is far too short to spend it hurrying from place to place.”

 

 

Story based on true events.

The Man in the Corner

There’s something in the corner of my eye. I feel it staring at me, watching my every move and learning from my every action. He knows where I am and what I’m doing, what I’m thinking and for which reasons. He knows because he’s always there, standing just outside my view, staring deep into my mind and soul with bitterness in his heart. He is my silent judgement, the voice of darkness that argues out reason and hope. He is the devil in the core of my being, always waiting, always prepared to snuff out whatever comes along shining a light into the darkness of my world.

I know he’s there without ever having seen him. I know he smiles when I frown, laughs when I cry. I cannot hear him, or touch him, or smell him. But I can taste him sometimes, a bitterness in the air that engulfs my world when I find something that makes me smile. I can taste him as he sits in the corner of my eye, seeing everything I see, feeling everything I feel.

He will wait in silence as I walk across the room to talk to girl so full of light and happiness that I’ve never met. He’ll wait as I take her number, and call it to invite her out for dinner. He’ll wait as we laugh together, as we tell stories of our past and one day begin talking about our future. He waits as we fall madly in love, as we make love for the first time, as we have sex for the hundredth time. He waits as we rent our first apartment, buy our first home. And then, one day, he starts to whisper silently in my ear.

From the corner of my eye, a devil whispers words I cannot hear. He whispers endlessly, repeating the same sentence over and over, building a fear that burns in my chest hotter than molten rock. He chuckles as I begin to flounder, to make mistakes I cannot seem to stop, all the while continuing to whisper words of silence that push me towards the end. And with every mistake I make, with every word he speaks, he sits in the corner of my eye and watches as the light that burned inside of me slowly begins to fade. Then, he laughs as the fading light that brought me such joy vanishes from this world, leaving me alone and empty and dark. And the man in the corner of my eye stops. He smiles as I frown, revels in the darkness that’s inside me.

There’s something in the corner of my eye, and it lives because I cannot.

If I Were Asked

If I were asked, I’d say that it must be like buying one of the first televisions ever invented. As the family sat down and gathered around the tiny little screen, they must have been so fascinated by the world trapped within it. There, in the large brown box that held the insignificant screen, danced images of grey from all over the world. The family must have watched in silence as they witnessed something so far away, so distant, so beautiful from the comfort of their own home.

And as they stared into the gateway of the universe, they would have seen things that they had never seen before in their lives; Mountains in distant lands, beaches in tropical locations, the world beneath the sea, the universe beyond the stars. And they would stare in awe, having never before seen such incredible images flashing before them as if they were real. It would become a sensory overload, something so completely fixating that there’s almost no way to escape it. But why would you ever want to escape?

Instead, you would sit back and let the images flash before your eyes, let the pictures capture your mind and soul, pulling you in deeper and deeper until you’re so lost in the unimaginable that you forget what life was like before the tiny box appeared in your home. It becomes a staple part of your life, something you look forward to every day. It makes you happy, shows you the world, and promises to always, always keep you entertained no matter how bad your day has been.

If I were asked to describe the impossible, that is what I’d say; If I were asked to describe what I saw in your eyes.

Bulletproof

The bullet careened off the kitchen counter top, making an almost inaudible ping as the sound of the exploding gunpowder rang in Derek’s ear. He shuddered as he grabbed the sushi knife off the side that his wife had bought him on their anniversary. There were screams, those of his children perhaps, or his wife, somewhere in the house just outside of his reach. The intruder stood between him and the rest of his house, pointing the barrel of the gun straight at Derek’s torso. He didn’t have time to be concerned, to fear for his own life. He lunged forward, the knife extended as he took the first of three needed steps to be within reach of the intruder.

The sound of the gun shook the walls of the home once again as the intruder pulled back on the trigger. This time, there was no sound as the bullet veered off course, no ping as it slammed into something metal, just an enormous force in the lower portion of Derek’s chest. The impact forced him backwards, but the adrenaline pushed forward. The gun echoed again, a bullet slamming hard into his shoulder causing him to spin sideways. He started to fall, but as his body toppled forward, he thrust onwards with his shaking leg left. The knife entered the intruders chest, slipping neatly between two of his ribs. Continue reading

The Jade City

The couple lay in the tangled sheets of their king sized bed, wrapped in each other’s arms and breathing in the intoxicating smell of their partner’s sweat soaked body. Even in the aftermath of their passion, they timed their breathing to rhythmic harmony, inhaling and exhaling as one combined lung gasping for air. Jacob reached up and stroked Lara’s hair, staring into her ocean-green eyes. His mouth broke into a grin and he began to laugh, not because the moment was funny, but because the sheer ecstasy had rendered him incapable of anything but utter joy.

Lara gently ran her fingers over Jacob’s rising and falling chest. He would never tell her, but the touch of her fingertips slammed all of his senses together in a mess of confusion, making his entire body tingle, his ears ring, his sight flicker, and his breathing to elevate and consume all the smells around him.

“I can’t do this anymore,” whispered Lara, her fingertips still gently grazing Jacob’s skin.

“Well too bad, we’re going again in fifteen,” responded Jacob with a laugh, grabbing her body and pulling it into a kiss that collided all the love of their entire relationship with the span of a single moment.

Lara let out a quiet little moan, kissing him back with equal passion and devotion. Then, she pulled away, her eyes wide as Jacob stared into the glowing jade city of light and love that resided within the ring surrounding her pupil.

“No, I cannot do this anymore. Us. You. Me.”

She held her face inches from his, still breathing the same air. But now the harmony was broken, and as she lay beside him sharing the oxygen they  breathed together, Jacob knew that there wasn’t enough for the both of them.

“I don’t understand…” he said, completely incapable of moving anything but his mouth.

“I’m sorry, Jacob. I just can’t.”

Lara did not move. She simply lay beside him, staring blankly into his face. And as he sat there, he noticed that the city of jade that he would stare at for hours in the eyes of the woman he loved had burned to nothing, leaving behind a green he had seen a thousand times before, in a thousand different eyes.

Copyright. First published at The Mitchener Chronicles