Authors: Naomi Canale
A wet hand touches my face. “Savanna, if you’re in there, I love you,” he says as tears trickle past his lips, “I love you.”
I turn a cheek away.
Fluid bubbles up in his chest and suffocates him. I listen as a heavy head smacks the table. His soul departs. It’s on the way to be judged and heaven is where he’ll stay.
I grab the Bible lying open on top of the table. Maybe if I just keep reading it, the judge will change his plans for me. A streak of blood stretches across the oak top from where the Bible now sits and to the Do-gooder. Fingers twitch in the air above pages puddled with blood. They dance silently as if I’m getting ready to play the piano. I think. I read.
The first page I scan is missing His name, it’s missing HIS NAME.
Blank words are scattered about the page. I tear one out, then the next, and the next, the next…
Piles of stained pages sit crumbled around my feet. I’ve gone too far—messed up—again.
“Fuck,” I shout, while kicking one of the legs of the table.
I stand to my feet. I need to make this up to the dark father. He could have made this man doubt and taken his soul, but now it’s too late because I was sloppy. Now I can’t rest, I need to make up for my ill-fitting behavior before he adds to my punishment.
To Please You
The storm has come and pelts the ground with golf ball sized hail, soon it will be quiet and the snow that’s yet to come will cover bloodied tracks made by the soles of my shoes. I stand in the driveway and stare back at the house as the sun sets behind it before I walk around to the backyard and grab the pitchfork.
It’s right where I left it. Faded wood splinters fingers as I tighten my grip and stride toward the old stone house. I’m partially in denial, only because the ringing hasn’t started up thus far. If I don’t do something to please the devil soon, he’s going to blind this body or worse yet, try to throw it into the swine like he did with the last one. Since
can’t be everywhere at once, it’s just a matter of time before he catches on to what I’ve done. I didn’t help him plant doubt in the Do-gooder’s mind and now he’s part of the “saved”.
I puncture loose dirt from the night before.
“I want those boots,” I say to myself. If I’m to make the dark father proud, I need feet to be firm upon earth’s surface. I’m sure there are going to be a few rats that are going to squirm in my presence and try to run.
At the end of the pitchfork lies a wool coat now pierced with four holes, I shake it free. Such a pity I had to disturb such a well-made crypt. Dirt falls between the empty pieces of metal—if only I had a shovel. I toss it and bend over the pile and dig like a dog. I’m content that I don’t have to hollow out dirt for long because it makes me appear weak, like I’m desperate for a bone.
Mud has seeped over the cuff of shoes as I dig. The weather is more than wet, it’s soggy and causing a mess. Like a gentleman, I take a seat on top of rocks that were purposely fitted together for a stone seat. I clear feet of poorly made shoes, fix jeans flat to eliminate wrinkles, and slip on black boots. My appearance needs to be perfection. I pick up a few pieces of hail and rub it over boots to make sure black leather shines.
Snow dusts lips as I gaze toward the heavens. Even though rest hasn’t been able to occupy my time, the weather causes the rage within to slightly dim—for a moment I’m calm. But it doesn’t last. Most earthly creatures are probably freezing by now from what the weather’s brought on, but I’m quite the opposite. Anger, bitterness, the who I am is welling up inside and makes Savanna’s blood boil enough to bring on a sweat. I pull off the hooded sweater, toss it into the open grave, and fix a now exposed grey blouse.
Fingers tap on top of knees and buckles from boots sit tightly locked around calves as I carefully plan out my next moves—messing up again is not an option. Weakness is an older version of me, I can’t be weak.
As I turn to observe a crow flapping wings against heavy falling snow, I sniff my shoulder. A scent still lingers from earlier today, Amy. I trail eyes across the landscape. She’s not far—her mother too. “Two is always better than one,” I say, “lucky me.”
Ice covers the ground and darkness can’t melt it, only the light can. The night doesn’t offer comfort to warm the skins of these “precious children” —or so He likes to call them, and nor is the darkness kind. I clench a jaw thinking about it, I can’t leave the past behind. Even if I cut out my black heart and placed it on a silver platter, nothing will ever be enough, and salvation will never be mine again.
Houses scatter this land and as I break in between a larger cluster of cookie cutters, I see Mary and Amy’s place only about a mile out. A few demons have come out to play, but I ignore their existence. I can do this on my own.
The horses in the coral are startled by my presence. Filthy animals are causing a ruckus.
I tuck myself behind a barn door as Amy peeks out of laced curtains. How charming, she’s reading the Bible. The sight forces a tickle deep in my throat and I let out a chuckle. Too bad, she’s about to die. “I say about twenty minutes,” I whisper, “you can’t find your savior given that much time.”
Savanna’s tongue is moist. My humanless self is starved. I want a body, a frail one at heart that already has a foot sitting in the grave.
I keep steps silent against two inches of snow as I draw closer to the front door. Mary’s passed out on the couch from prescribed opiates. I scan the room for the perfect weapon. If I can’t have rest, I’ll satisfy my hunger instead—it’s the next best thing. I’m sure I’m strong enough to keep Savanna steady while I move into Mary’s body and have a taste of her redeemer reject her.
The fireplace flickers against the blue lights bouncing off the television. I press an ear on the glass next to the door. Emptiness is the only echo. I take pride in the way I sneak up on my prey. After all this time, it’s a skill I’ve mastered. I reach for the key under a cracked clay pot, slide the brass key in the lock, and twist the deadbolt free. With a small quiet turn of the knob, I shut the door back to the way it was.
Carpet makes steps muted as I start toward my choice of weapon.
A twenty-seven inch fireplace poker is warm as I grab onto it, and weighty. Mary looks so sweet with cheeks warmed from the fire and hands folded just under face. I tilt my head as I examine her. “You sleep like a baby,” I say as if I’m a ghost.
I raise the rod of steel and focus the sharp end right above her collarbone and just under her chin. If I impale this into her throat fast enough she won’t be able to scream and Amy can continue to read her precious verses until I’m ready for her.
A gush of adrenaline surges through this human body as I jam the rod into the dip of her neck. My target is met—perfectly. She barely wakes. But her mouth opens as she attempts to grasp onto the air that sits on the tip of her lips. Dark red pours from the piercing. The opiates in her system make it difficult for her to raise arms and put up a fight against the weapon.
Muscles are no longer tense. I can tell since the vibrations on the other end of the rod have died down.
I move into Mary’s body. I always love it when they’re warm.
The Horror in Your Eyes
Amy’s mom twitches at the end of a rod and I watch with eyes peeled open in horror. Heavy black metal sits snug in the palm of my right hand, I can’t let go. An ache multiplies within my cells, I want to help her like I craved to with Elsie, but I can’t. I’m being held onto by an unseen force, bear hugged again. Hell is no longer beneath me, but my worst nightmare seems to sit just on the opposite end of this rod and I’m not sure which is worse.
What have I done? Or what has Daniel done, again?
Madness unfolds in the center of my core, I want to scream. But I’m forced to stand still like a frozen statue with a murder weapon.
This is my fault. I let him in and didn’t protect the ones I loved. I begin to detest myself for what I’ve done. Dad warned me and I didn’t heed the call.
My vision fades in and out and the flickering lights in the room don’t help. Saliva keeps building over my tongue no matter how many times I swallow. I want to throw up, but I can’t. Daniel still has complete control of my body even though I’m the one back in it.
All I can do is stare at the gruesome scene in front of me. He won’t let me look away.
In my peripheral vision a shadow appears. There’s a gasp, something falls and makes a thud on top of the floor. I’m tired of the games Daniel’s playing with my body. I focus and yell at my brain.
The shadow is now beside me. It’s Amy. My neck cracks a little and sends a shiver down my spine as I turn.
She’s now standing on top of russet bricks on the fireplace and has a metal shovel risen in the air.
Spit splatters as I try to speak through a locked jaw. “I didn’t do it. It’s me, Amy, it’s me.”
“What have you done?” she says with a shaky voice.
“Possessed,” I sputter. “Daniel.”
The shovel lowers midway. Tears collide off her face as if an intense storm is taking place within her eyes. “Savanna?” she says, faintly.
Even though I’m holding onto the murder weapon and my muscles were the ones that assisted in pushing this rod into Mary’s flesh, I wasn’t the one to carry out such a heinous act. I try to keep speaking. “Daniel. Controlling me, taken my body.”
I’m even confused at the thought and can’t imagine what Amy must think. If my shoulders could budge, I’d be ducking into a crouched position. The shovel is raised for a second time and her chest starts to pant violently up and down in between breaths of air.
I wait for her to slam the metal shovel over my head.
Catch Me If You Can
What’s wrong with these humans?
They are so disruptive, especially when I’m about to enjoy the taste of death and gain the strength I need. Before I’m fully satisfied, I’m forced to shift back into Savanna’s body. I quickly raise a forearm against the shovel that’s about to pummel Savanna over the head. It pierces skin, dents the ulna bone, and splatters white skin with red.
A sharp throb enters brain sensors. “Stupid girl, you don’t know what you’re messing with,” I say with a scowl as I grab the end of the shovel and toss it across the room.
The shovel hits and cracks the stand of the television and skin tears from Mary’s neck as I swipe the rod and thrust it at Amy—I aim for her heart. If she wants a fight, her wish is granted. I miss and puncture her side. She pulls back and scurries into the kitchen; I knew I was bound to run into a rat.
A rope hangs from the ceiling. It’s intricately knotted together and acts as a dead plant holder. I yank it from the hook and tug both sides together hard enough to cause a snap. “You’re going to choke on this noose I’m about to wrap around your neck, little girl.”
Drips of blood trail across the kitchen and into the hallway. A door slams. She’s tucked herself back in to her room. I slither the twine around the fresh wound on Savanna’s arm and heave the fireplace rod at the door. “Open up, sweetheart, I’ll make it quick. I give you my word.”
I pause and press an ear over the fake wood, silence. I step back and launch myself into the door, it cracks down the middle. “I love it when humans make cheap shit,” I say as I step through it and into her room.
Blood trails out of the open window. “Fuck,” I shout.
An old Bible lies open across her bed. Wind flaps its thin paper edges and lifts them subtly off one another. A car engine revs up but I’m in luck; the camshaft is stuck and keeps her from driving the hunk of metal out of this place.
The flesh-covered rod now only irritates me because I’m wounded and I don’t swing well with the other arm. It clangs as I chuck it on the floor and climb out the window to run after her.
Footsteps in the snow are followed by holes created by warmed blood—she’s making this too easy. I know exactly where she’s been. She dashes from the car and runs toward the barn. My step’s slow as I creep up toward the heap of wood held together with rusted nails.
She scuffles around in the barn. “I can hear you, pretty one.”
The stomp of hooves over hardened dirt breaks the silence.
Sebastian roars up into the air out of the barn and hurdles the fence as Amy directs him toward me. I duck and miss legs made of pure muscle. Her Arabian isn’t a match for the agitated and unfixed palomino in the corral over. I hasten under the fence, climb the boards next to the mustang, and hop on. Little does she know that riding horses is a specialty of mine I’m quite fond of.
He doesn’t like me at first and hurls himself up into the air trying to throw me off. It doesn’t work so he jumps and heaves legs around the corral in a circle. I weave coarse hair in between fingers, clutch on, and gently lie forward over the untrained beasts back while forcing my thoughts into his. He calms as I stare off into the distance. Sebastian is far away enough to blend into the distant snow, but he’s not listening to Amy. She’s trying to get him to go the other way—into town. She hasn’t ridden the animal since her father died—such a shame. I’m going to catch her easily. This isn’t even a game any more, she’s not any fun.
The black horse is steady. I keep him that way and guide him toward the lock on the fence. While snug upon his back, I reach over rundown wood and undo the latch barely held together with unfastened screws. For a second I pet the beast to calm him before digging a firm heel into his side.
My thighs tighten against the folds of his muscled rib cage as I crouch down and focus on my target. I get into his sturdy rhythm as hooves rap and toss up earth that lies just under the snow.
As Sebastian picks up speed Amy’s white night gown kicks up into the burn of the night’s air, exposing her legs. Tips of black hair whip the side of her wet face as she turns to glare at me. She thrusts her heel into the horse and turns into a cluster of trees that mimic tall sticks right before the opening of the desert.