Oh Baby

OhBaby

I had a wonderful weekend celebrating Friday the 13th with a horror movie marathon and tons of Thai food. I hope everyone else had a similarly awesome weekend.

This weekend I also attempted to exercise, which I haven’t done in years (I know! I’m sorry). And today my legs are super sore, but I deserve it. I hope to be able to keep it up and get myself back in shape!

Please enjoy more of “Something You Can’t Forget,” and have a lovely Sunday Evening.

With Screams and Axes,

Mae

 

SOMETHING YOU CAN’T FORGET

The man who she had taken into the stock room after close last night was named Steve. He worked at a shoe store in the mall. He had been flirting with Melissa for two weeks now, coming into the chocolate shop on his lunch breaks to buy a candy bar and tell her that he liked real women, curvy girls, and that her hair smelled good, like vanilla frosting. He wasn’t the first man she had allowed to take her by the hand into the stock room, or drive her home, or go just a couple times around the mall parking lot. There was something that felt good about being able to attract a man, about making him desire her like that. She liked to dance in front of that hunger and tease it till it pursued her. It made her body look different in the mirror, it made food taste different and it made the eating of it more enjoyable. But after it was spent and the attraction had run its course and he stopped coming around, she would feel the emptiness even deeper, the hunger would grow more ferocious. She worried that she was digging herself a hole and that she would never be more than just space, a large dark expanse.

“Hey Hun,” Sasha said, prancing into the store and hefting her oversized purse on the counter. Sasha and Melissa had been best friends since high school. Sasha worked at the hair salon next door. Sasha was a small girl, short and slender. Her hair was meticulously curled and sprayed with thick chunks of pale blond highlights. She had a thin cotton t-shirt stretched over her frame, which dipped in the front to emphasize an unnatural amount of cleavage, the result of a well-engineered push up bra. Melissa always admired Sasha’s seemingly perfect body that seemed to maintain its smallness almost effortlessly. Sasha ate fast food from the food court every day for lunch, and came in to visit Melissa and eat chocolate-covered cashews on her smoke breaks. Melissa hated herself for always staring at her, for trying to note any changes of size in her breasts or her hips. She felt the need to examine Sasha closely, to search her body for some kind of clue as to why it was the way it was, what made it better and how Melissa could get her body to behave like Sasha’s. Melissa stood behind the counter, not wanting to stand next to her friend and note the size difference between them.

“So what happened with that guy? You promised to tell me about it today.”

“He stopped by last night as I was closing…”

“And?”

“And, and…we did it.”

Sasha exploded into a noise that resembled a laugh and an exclamation of astonishment.

“Haha, you little whore.” Sasha laughed. “How was it?”

“It was fine.” Melissa wished she had something to tell Sasha about it, but nothing about what happened last night was interesting or important. It was just fine, just ok, nothing that shouldn’t be forgotten.

“Just fine?” Sasha made an exaggerated frown. Melissa wasn’t sure if it was in mocking or sincerity. “He’s not the one I guess?”

Melissa glared at her.

“No, I don’t think so.”

“Well, you must have known that before you slept with him. Didn’t you? I mean, did you like him?”

“Yeah, of course I liked him. There just wasn’t anything else.”

“Well, maybe next time you should hang on to the card a little longer before you play it.” Sasha laughed and momentarily became engrossed in the screen of her cell phone.

“Oh, like you’re one to talk.” Melissa playfully tossed a candy wrapper at Sasha, wishing it was something heavier and harder and that she had better aim. Sasha ignored the comment and said she had to get to work, gave Melissa a hug and a kiss on the cheek and left the shop, the echo of her heels clicking on the tile trailing behind her. Melissa loved her friend dearly, but sometimes she hated her just as much.

Melissa knew she wouldn’t hear from Steve again for a while and if she did it would most likely be for a reprise of last night’s events, and the second time it would be mostly business, less flirtation, all hurried hands and starved mouths. As a frustrated tear fell on the cherry wood counter, she popped a caramel into her mouth, letting it dissolve slowly.

Mother’s Day

MothersDay

I hope that you will all forgive me for posting a day late, but yesterday I was having too much fun for Mother’s Day. I hope everyone else had fun with their moms too!

Please enjoy the next installment of “Something You Can’t Forget.”

With Screams and Axes,

Mae

SOMETHING YOU CAN’T FORGET

That next morning, Melissa filled a metal colander full of fresh strawberries and watched the golden light from the morning sun play in the stream of cool water she held them under. She washed the berries under the water gently, smelling the sweetness that she could almost taste. She let the fruit dry on the rack and went over to the chocolate dipper to turn the temperature knob up and melt the chocolate. She set the tray with the fruit on the counter of the dipper, snapped a pair of rubber gloves over her hands and grabbed a small wooden skewer. She pierced the head of a strawberry and dipped it in the chocolate pool, letting the warm aroma waft across her lips as she twirled the strawberry in smooth dark chocolate. She thought about what she would eat today and what she shouldn’t.

After the strawberries were dipped and their chocolate shells hardened, she set them in the glass display case and unlocked the double glass doors of the chocolate shop. She stood in the doorway for a moment listening to the soft sounds of the shopping mall in the morning. The elevator-music played to no one expect for a couple mall-walkers meandering the hallways, and the odd employee hurrying to their shop to punch in on time. Melissa was the manager of the chocolate shop. She had been promoted to the position six months ago when the original manager had quit with little notice. Melissa liked the job. Unlike many stores in the mall, hers was relatively quiet and slow except for Valentine’s Day and Christmas. Melissa had worked in the mall for a couple of years. The men who worked in the mall all seemed to know her before she knew them. She knew she was supposed to mind this, and sometimes she did, but most of the time she told herself that she didn’t.

This morning, Melissa sat behind the counter thinking about chocolates and how many calories were in a single truffle. Too many, she knew as she bit into one, breaking the delicate shell between her teeth. She instantly regretted the action, and considered spitting it out for a moment. But she didn’t. She felt the quick joy of the creamy sweetness on her tongue before it was gone and an anxious pit formed in her stomach. “It’s too late,” she thought. “I’ve already ruined the day.” She bit into another truffle and felt something frantic wretch itself free inside her mind. After her third truffle, she felt as though she might cry, and to remedy the situation she pushed the lunch she had packed for herself off the counter and into the trash can. She did the math in her head. If she could just stop, if she could keep herself from admitting she was hungry, then the day wouldn’t be completely lost. Melissa hated feeling hungry. Hunger was hollowness and pain, and she felt herself unable to endure it, unable to control it. But she always felt hungry, and the struggle not to eat, the debate in her mind over what to eat, and the snap when her spirit would rebel and go on a binge to satisfy itself made it even worse. She looked at the clock that read 10:30 a.m. and she knew the battle was over already. She hadn’t even made it to noon.

Mr. Jekyll and Lady Hyde

LadyHyde

This week’s photo is a collaboration between myself and my amazingly talented brother and drag queen extraordinaire, Monae Fante. I had asked Monae to come up with a horror themed look based on a character I had come up with. I wanted to play around with the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde story but instead of a scientist, I wanted a drag queen that transforms into the darker, evil, homicidal maniac side of herself when she puts her makeup on.

I love how this turned out.

Although I rarely use makeup myself, I love the artistry of it and how it can be used to transform a person’s appearance, almost like a mask does.

Everyone check out more of Monae’s makeup art on Instagram at @monae_fante

And please enjoy the first installment of a story called “Something You Can’t Forget”

With Screams and Axes.

Mae

 

SOMETHING YOU CAN’T FORGET

The night before, in the back room of the chocolate shop, he had asked Melissa to strip herself naked, saying “I won’t hurt you.” She had struggled with the buttons of her blouse and trembled under his eyes as she tossed her shirt aside, worried for a moment that it’d land tag side up and he’d see the size XXL marked on it. He had waited as she acclimated herself to the chill of the refrigerated room and the starkness of her skin, unsteady as she bared herself before him saying “You won’t hurt me.” She knew that one day he would, that one day he would betray her and leave her exposed and empty. But that wasn’t today, wasn’t this moment. He had pursued her yesterday and had boldly asked her into the stock room today, and she was willing to take that on good faith until she couldn’t anymore. She would give him the benefit of the doubt until there was no doubt left.

He had taken her breasts in both of his hands. She had watched his fingers travel over the delicate expanse of pink skin, reaching out to him and loosening his belt and unzipping his pants. She became ashamed at the way her stomach puffed out, the stretch marks across her thighs like cracks in a mirror, of how his arms seemed to have to stretch so that they could reach to fondle her behind. She had shut her eyes and tried not think about her body, about its heft or what it looked like. She looked at him breathing heavy and erect, at his strangely intriguing male body that gave her a dull sensation of disgust but that was overcome with the urge to touch. She wanted to fuck him against the cold cement wall of the stock room, even though she knew that’s not what ladies are supposed to do in stock rooms after work. She wanted this, wanted something deeply, desperately.  She had a feeling that this wasn’t something he was able to give her, but she would try to be sure. Maybe this time, something would change.

Funny Honey

FunnyHoney

Sometimes as an artist I feel like it’s natural to occasionally question everything you’re doing and ask yourself if you’re doing it the best way you can. I guess I’m having one of those moments where I’m wondering if I’m on the right path, if I’m writing about the right things, if I’m choosing the right projects, and if I’m putting myself out there in the right way.

I think these moments of self-doubt make us stronger in the end. So I’m just going to ride this out and wait until I feel strong in my art again.

Please enjoy the final installment of The Cockroaches Waltz at Midnight, and this picture with my funny mask.

With Screams and Axes,

Mae

 

The Cockroaches Waltz at Midnight

Art looked at the guitar in his hand, feeling the places where the strings should be. He looked it over searching for any other damage. The strings were gone, but they had been taken off clean, and nothing else had been broken. It was just irritating, really. Art told himself that the old couple was just doing this to fuck with him, that it was probably some stupid joke, but he felt the despair well up inside him. He was unemployed and he didn’t have any strings. What did he have left?

He reached into his pocket and pulled out his phone. He looked at the time and saw that it was only 5 a.m. He dialed Marta’s number. He knew that he shouldn’t, he knew that she was asleep and there was a good chance she wouldn’t answer, but he needed to talk to someone. Maybe she would talk to him.

“Hello?” She picked up just as Art was convinced it was going to go to voicemail.

“Hi” he said, relieved to hear her voice.

“Art? What time is it?” She asked. She sounded sleepy and confused.

“It’s five in the morning. I’m sorry I’m calling so early,” he said.

“Are you okay?” She sounded more coherent now, and Art felt pleased by the hint of concern in her voice.

“Some people robbed the gas station tonight and I got fired,” he said, starting to tell her the whole story (but omitting the scary thing he’d seen in the woods). “And then my landlords fed me cockroach meatloaf.”

“That nice, old couple?” She asked, not believing him. “Are you sure it wasn’t an accident?”

“I don’t know, maybe. But they did seem to think it was awfully funny.” Art grumbled. “And now I was just checking out my guitar and all the strings are missing. Someone took them.”

“You think they took your guitar strings?” She asked.

“Someone did,” Art said. “Anyway…” He wasn’t sure what else to say.

“Are you okay, Art?” Marta asked.

“I guess,” Art said. “I just think this is a lot tougher than I thought it was going to be.”

Sitting on his bed, Art noticed five cockroaches crawl into the middle of the floor. They stopped when they reached the center and seemed to wait. Art tried to ignore them. Then Art heard a knocking. Like someone was pounding on the front door of the house. He wanted Marta to say something that would make him feel better.

“I’m sorry Art. You knew it was going to be hard being out on your own without your parents.”

“Yeah,” Art agreed. “And I miss you.”

From the living room, Art heard the grandfather clock strike six. The chimes sounded louder than they usually did. At the sound of the clock, the roaches on the floor began to scurry in tiny circles.

“Art,” Marta sighed. He was afraid of what she would say next. “I miss you too.” She admitted, as though he had forced her confession.

From outside his door, Art heard a creaking on the steps, as though someone was walking up to his room. More cockroaches gathered in the center of the room with the others. There were so many that Art picked up his feet off the floor to give them room. What were they all doing? Why were there so many?

“Can I see you soon?” Art asked, keeping an eye on the roaches. “Before you go to school?”

“I don’t know if that would be a good idea,” Marta said.

The clock downstairs struck seven. The chimes were loud and the discordance hurt Art’s head. He thought the clock must be broken.

“We could just hang out,” he said, shouting over the noise. “We don’t have to go on a date or anything.”

“Wouldn’t it just turn into a date though?”

The clock struck eight, made a loud clattering noise that sounded like someone dropping china plates inside a piano, then struck nine, ten, and eleven. The cockroaches were moving across the floor in a frenzy. Art could hear someone running up and down the stairs outside his door.

“Art, what’s all that noise?” Marta asked.

A knocking started on his door. The cockroaches began making a high pitched hissing sound. The room filled with a sour smell.

“Who is it?” Art shouted at the door. “What?!” He screamed. The pounding continued. “Marta?” He shouted into the phone. But she wasn’t there anymore. Maybe she had hung up.

The clock struck twelve and everything went quiet. The cockroaches stopped hissing, the pounding on the door stopped, and the house echoed with the soft chimes of the clock. There was a moment of silence where Art found himself holding his breath.

Then the door to the attic creaked open. In the doorway stood a dark figure. The cockroaches scurried towards and around the figure, crawling everywhere. The figure took a step into the bedroom and slammed the door behind him. The cockroaches took this as a sign and ran towards Art, engulfing him in their tiny bodies. He tried to scream, but they entered his mouth the moment he opened it. The dark figure laughed and laughed.

Zombie Girl

ZombieGirl

It feels like it’s been such a long week. Was I bathing in blood only last Sunday? I guess time moves differently when it feels like you have so much to do and so many projects to work on. I’m working on a lot of exciting stuff that I hope to be able to share with you all someday soon!

In the meantime, here’s another installment of “The Cockroaches Waltz At Midnight.”

With Screams and Axes,

Mae

 

The Cockroaches Waltz At Midnight

“Thank you,” Art said as he was handed a chipped china plate heaping with meat loaf, mashed potatoes, green beans and gravy. “This looks good.”

“How was work today, Dearie?” Mrs. Steven asked him.

“Bad,” Art said, salting his potatoes. “I got fired.”

“Too bad,” she said.

“Keep your chin up, Sonny,” Mr. Steven boomed, slapping Art on the back. “Something will come up, I’m sure of it.”

Art didn’t feel much like speaking about his former job anymore and set to eating his dinner. Mr. and Mrs. Steven made chit chat with each other, discussing whether it would rain and what their favorite flavor of Jell-O salad was. That’s when Art noticed something crunchy in his meatloaf. Art pulled something out of his mouth. It was the top half of a cockroach. The head looked up at Art. The Stevens burst out laughing as Art dropped the cockroach on the tablecloth. Then more of the insects appeared, crawling out from under the serving bowls and scooting on the table cloth. They kept laughing at him, Mrs. Steven wiping tears away with her napkin. Art got up and stomped up to his room. “Fuck those crazy people.”

When Art climbed the stairs to the attic, he noticed that his door was wide open. He knew that he had shut it when he left for work. He entered the room, flicked on the light, and watched the cockroaches scatter. He looked around for signs of a disturbance. Not that he had anything to hide from the Stevens, or anything anyone would want to steal, he just found it unsettling that those cockroach eaters were snooping around in his room while he wasn’t home. Everything looked untouched. Art sat down at his desk and reached for his guitar. When he picked it up, he stopped it examine it more closely. His guitar was missing every single one of its strings.

Blood Bath

BloodBath

It’s a lovely spring day here. I wish I could be outside, but like most writers I’ve fallen behind on all my projects and today I’m trying to play catch up. Since embarking on my horror journey, I have been creating and writing more steadily than I ever have, so I can’t be too hard on myself. And so far, I’ve made some great friends along the way.

GhoulishDelights

In this week’s photo, the blood red bath water was created using the Blood Bath Bomb from Ghoulish Delights Bath Shop. The bath bomb smelled amazing and made my skin so soft. It was the most pleasant photo shoot I’ve done yet! Ghoulish Delights Bath Shop just recently launched and carries awesome horror themed bath products. I’ve gotten to know the creator of this company through my short time spent in the horror community, and I have such respect for her and what she does. Check out www.ghoulishdelightsshop.com  and help support an amazing, woman-owned small business!

And now, another installment of “The Cockroaches Waltz At Midnight.”

With Screams and Axes,

Mae

 

The Cockroaches Waltz At Midnight (Cont.)

Art began to run. He didn’t know what that thing was or why it knew his name, but something told him not to wait and find out. He ran back the way he had come, towards the lights of the gas station. He didn’t look back, and he didn’t call out for Duke. The woods seemed thicker somehow, forcing him to slow down and try to walk quietly. It also seemed that he had run deeper into the woods than he thought. The lights in the distance seemed so far away. Art was unsure how he had been able to run that far.

By the time Art got back to the gas station there were two police cars out front, and he could see his manager standing there with his arms crossed, watching Art shamble towards the scene. Duke was sitting on the ground having a cigarette. His eye looked swollen, and his nose was bleeding. Art laughed for a moment, thinking about Duke getting the shit kicked out of him.

“What are you doing?” Art’s manager demanded as soon as he was close enough to scream at.

“What?” Art was confused.

“Why did you leave the store?” His manager asked again.

“To help Duke. We were going after a shop lifter.”

“Yes, Duke was going after the shop lifter.” He looked at Duke and frowned. “Which is against company protocol and he knows it. What I don’t understand is why you left the station unattended when Duke ran out to chase the thief.”

“Well, I…”

“Because when you left, the shop lifter’s buddies, who must have been watching, came in and made off with the whole god damn register!” A vein in his forehead pulsed and Art didn’t know what to say.

“I’m sorry.” Art began.

“You’re sorry? Well, you’re fired.” The manager waved him away.

“But, but…”Art tried to come up with an argument in his defense.

“But nothing. Get out of here.” The manager turned his back and went to go speak with a police officer.

Art walked home in the dark, wondering how he was going to be able to pay his rent for the attic room now. Maybe his parents were right, maybe Marta was right. Maybe he should have just gone to college.

Art opened the door to the Steven’s house as quietly as he could. It was 4:30 in the morning, and he didn’t want to wake them. But as he entered the living room, Art found all the lights on and the Steven’s sitting at the table, having what looked like dinner. Mrs. Steven was cutting a slice of meatloaf for Mr. Steven, who himself was stirring a large bowl of mashed potatoes. They were wearing matching pink sweat suits, Mr. Steven had several large gold rings on his fingers, and Mrs. Steven was wearing a clownish amount of makeup. The way she had drawn on her eyebrows, thick and dark, gave her a bewildered expression. They both looked up at Art as he entered the room, surprised to see him.

“Art, my lad!” Mr. Steven boomed. “Sit and have dinner with us.” He motioned him towards the table. Art felt it would be rude to deny him, plus he was very hungry. So without asking questions about why they were eating dinner at 4:30 a.m., Art sat at the table and watched Mrs. Steven slice a piece of meat loaf for him.

Spring Days

SpringDays

 

It snowed today, which totally derailed my photo shoot plans. I was all ready to head outside and take some pictures with my new green dress, but Mother Nature had other plans. So this week, I give you another indoor photo with my lovely weeping mask. To see more photos, be sure to check out my Instagram account @maemaccallum. You can also get there by clicking the Instagram icon in the sidebar.

Today is also Wrestlemania, which is a high holy day in my household. So I’ll leave you with part 3 of “The Cockroach Collector” while I go watch wrestling.

With Screams and Axes,

Mae

 

The Cockroaches Waltz At Midnight (Part 3)

The gas station was on a lonely street in the edge of town. Behind it was a thick wood, and if you managed to cut your way through it, you’d eventually find yourself facing the highway. The gas station was open 24 hours, and Art’s shift was from midnight to 8 a.m. It was a mile walk for Art to get to work, and he tried to leave just enough time for him to walk slowly and get there just on time. He hated getting there early, and having to hang around the dingy building, smelling gasoline and old hot dogs.

“Hey,” Art said to Duke in the back room as he hung up his sweatshirt on a hook. Duke had his hands deep in a bag of chips, but pulled one out to give Art a greasy wave.

“Hi man, how are ya?” Duke asked with his mouth full. Duke spent the overnights with Art. He was a man in his forties but perpetually acted like a man in his twenties. After their manager left for the night, Duke would crack open a beer and sip at it at the register in between long smoke breaks outside. Art didn’t mind. The drinking made Duke easier to talk to, and the smoke breaks gave Art moments to himself. After midnight, the gas station received very few customers, and it was mostly a matter of just staying awake. Art didn’t mind the hours though, he enjoyed watching the sunrise.

Howard the manager said goodnight, leaving Art and Duke sitting on stools behind the register. “Try to do some restocks guys. Pretzels are looking a little low over here,” he said as Art nodded and Duke looked at his car outside.

They sat in silence for a while. Art counted cartons of cigarettes while Duke drank his first can of beer.

“Got any new songs for me?” Duke asked with a snicker.

“Nah, not yet. Soon though,” Art said.

“Want a drink?” Duke asked for the third time.

“No, I’m okay.”

“Suit yourself man. Makes the night go by faster.”

“I don’t mind the night,” Art said, hoping Duke would think of something else for them to talk about.

The time passed slowly. Art restocked the pretzels as well as the chips, the sodas, and the condoms. Duke sang along with the overhead music and stood outside smoking. At around 3 a.m. both were back behind the counter. A man came in and went to the fridges in the back. Art looked up, waiting for him to come to the counter to buy a soda or something. Then the man was running past him towards the doors, with bottles of soda and bags of chips in his hands.

“What the fuck!” Duke screamed out, suddenly jumping over the counter and chasing the man out of the store. Art ran after them, screaming for Duke to come back.

“Let him go man. He could have a gun or something!” Art called after Duke’s back, watching the thief and Duke run into the darkness towards the woods. “Damn,” Art mumbled, wondering if it was better to go after Duke or to leave the store unattended. Art did quick math trying to remember how much Duke had had to drink. He took off in the direction they had gone, listening for sounds of a struggle.

Art made it to the woods. Standing just inside the line of trees he called out to Duke. He didn’t hear anything.

“Duke?” Art yelled. “Duke, let it go. We’ll call the cops.” Art listened for Duke’s reply but didn’t hear him. He walked deeper into the woods slowly with his hands outstretched, trying not to trip and fall. All of a sudden, Art heard a hissing in front of him. He wondered if it could be a snake, or air being released from a tire.

“Hello?” Art called out. Then he saw a figure standing just before him in the darkness. It was a man, in a hood. Art approached, hoping it was Duke.

“Hey,” Art said, getting close to the man.

“Hello Art.” The figure said. In the darkness, Art was just able to make out that the figure was not Duke. The face was smiling with gleaming white teeth.

Easter Bunny

Easter Bunny

Happy Easter!

I had quite a busy day visiting family and sitting in traffic. I hope everyone else out there had lovely Sundays as well.

This past week, I was contacted by Creepy Elliot who asked if he could read some of my fiction in one of his videos on his YouTube channel. That sounded like a wonderful idea, so I readily agreed. You can check out Creepy Elliot’s YouTube channel and his narration of some of my short fiction pieces here: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=dxwFtaPDCmw

I also want to take a moment to show everyone the awesome shirt I just received from Terror Threads.

TerrorThreadsZombie

Look at that zombie action. You can check out this shirt and more of their awesome collection here: https://terrorthreads.com?rfsn=213990.9158d

And now, without further ado, part 2 of “The Cockroaches Waltz At Midnight.”

Thank you for reading.

With Screams and Axes,

Mae

 

The Cockroaches Waltz at Midnight (Part 2)

Art left his guitar leaning against his desk, and let himself fall onto his bed. He stared up at the slanted wood ceiling and listened to the creaking of the elderly house. Without meaning to, he fell asleep. Art dreamed of the attic. He was on his bed, just as he was. He felt something shaking the metal bed frame, a rumbling from underneath him. Out from under the bed surged thousands of cockroaches, little legs scurrying at super speeds, all hurrying to Art. They covered him completely head to toe, smothering him with their tiny bodies.

Art woke up choking. He coughed and coughed, and finally hacked up a cockroach and spit it out onto the floor. It righted itself quickly and hurried under the bed. Art breathed heavily and put a hand to his throat, as his mind experienced a new depth of disgust. Quickly he lowered himself to the floor, deciding to chase the offending cockroach that had tried to choke him. That roach had to die. Art reached under the bed, but instead of swiping up the cockroach, his hand touched a large round object. Pulling it out from under the bed, Art found himself looking over a strange object he had never seen before.

It was a crudely formed figure of an insect. Its abdomen was made out of a dried dirt clod and wrapped in twine. Its legs and antennae were made of sticks, its wings made of leaves. It smelled of rot and as Art held it, he decided that it had definitely been made in the image of a cockroach. Art wondered how such a thing had found its way under his bed. He wondered if it was some eccentricity of the Stevens. They seemed like they’d be into weirdo folk art.

Art put the cockroach figure on his desk, assuring himself that he’d ask the Stevens about it later, and that he’d also talk to them about hiring an exterminator. But now, Art had to go to work at the gas station.

The Cockroaches Waltz At Midnight

Sinners9

The week after vacation is always hard. All you can think about is how wonderful being away was! I definitely felt sluggish this week, but I was still able to submit three new stories to horror magazines and write up a storm!

It’s still been too cold for me to get some pictures outside, which has been kind of frustrating. I’m getting tired of trying to be creative and come up with new concepts in my small apartment. One day, far, far away, I’ll have to get some kind of studio space.

I picked up a bunch of new masks this week though! And hopefully that helps spark my creativity.

This week I’m going to give you the first section of the story “The Cockroaches Waltz at Midnight.” I hope you enjoy it. Thank you so much for reading.

With Screams and Axes,

Mae

 

THE COCKROACHES WALTZ AT MIDNIGHT

Art felt a tickle on his arm and saw a large cockroach scurrying down his bicep. He brushed it off and watched it fall to the floor and scamper away. He didn’t even bother trying to kill them anymore, there were just too many. Having lived his entire life in a large, professionally cleaned home, the shock and awe of seeing his first cockroach had filled him with disgust. Now he saw them every day, and their presence was merely a nuisance and only subtly distasteful.

Art lived in the attic of Mr. and Mrs. Steven’s house, and gave them 100 dollars for rent a month. The Steven’s were old and the house was even older, but he tried to remind himself that there were worse places he could live, and at least this roach-infested attic was affordable. He sat at his desk trying to tune his guitar, listening to the wooden creaks and groans of the house, and watching the roaches scamper. Art’s guitar always seemed to stir up the cockroaches in the attic. He didn’t imagine cockroaches were music lovers. He strummed the strings gently, trying not to be too loud for Mr. and Mrs. Stevens. He wondered how good their hearing was at their age. Art figured they certainly couldn’t see very well, considering the shape they allowed their house to be in.

Having just graduated high school, Art had chosen to move out of his parents’ house, and try to make a go out of being a musician on his own. His parents had wanted him to attend college at Duke like Arthur Sr. had, but Art had no interest in going to college. When Art asked his parents how they felt about him attending a school for music, they laughed and said studying music wasn’t a career. So Art had moved out and started working part time at a gas station. He told himself that all this would make a great story to tell once he was a successful and his talent was recognized.

 

The only thing that Art really missed was his girlfriend, Marta. Well, now his ex-girlfriend. They had started dating last summer. Art remembered sitting in the grass in his back yard, gently strumming his guitar while the sun played on the purple streaks in Marta’s hair. She was a painter and a sculptor. She wore colorful clothes that were always spotted with drips of paint, and she wrote him poems and drew him cards covered in crazy cartoons and sketches. Right before graduation, Marta had explained to Art that she felt their lives were going in different directions. She was going to art school states away and he was going to be here, in an attic, playing his guitar. Art understood her reasons, but he couldn’t help feel the sting at the loss of her.

 

Art had celebrated his 18th birthday alone in the attic room. To mark the occasion, he had received a plain, printed card in the mail from Marta, and a phone call from his parents that turned into a lecture about college. “There’s still time to reapply!” They shouted. But they couldn’t change his mind. He ended his birthday by hanging up on them.

 

Wedding Day

 

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Hello My Dears! I’m back from my vacation and I’m happy to report that it was an amazing week. It’s so important to take time for yourself to recharge and relax. I feel like my creativity has been reignited and I’m ready to create and take on loads of new projects.

I have a lot more stories that I’m currently outlining, and I have a collaboration with another artist in the works that I think will blow all your socks off!

For this week, please enjoy these photos with my lovely new mask from Another Face Studio on Etsy (www.etsy.com/shop/AnotherFaceStudio ) and my new horror story “Wedding Day.”

With Screams and Axes,

Mae

 

WEDDING DAY

Ingrid’s wedding was planned for Saturday, November 7th. In the early hours of Friday, November 6th, her fiancé left her a note on her dresser, under the corner of her jewelry box, apologizing for what he was about to do. He committed suicide by jumping from the River Way Bridge a few hours later.

The first time Ingrid read the note, she didn’t believe it. Then she read it again, and again, and again. Then the call came and it was all real. She went back to bed that day and stayed there, firmly dug in under the covers while her mother and aunts whirled around her in confusion, answering phone calls, crying, and trying to cancel wedding plans. Instead of Ingrid’s wedding, they held a funeral instead.

 

After his funeral, Ingrid didn’t know what to do. She blamed herself for everything. She gyrated between bleak and profound grief, dizzying anger, and a tingling numbness. She quit her job as vet tech, and moved out of the apartment they had shared. Before the wedding, Ingrid’s parents had given her the the family’s cabin up in the mountains. It was to be a wedding present. The papers had all been signed, and the cabin was legally hers. So against the advice of her parents and everyone that cared for her, she loaded a few suitcases into the trunk of her car and headed for the mountain retreat so that she could be alone. At a gas station midway on the trip she bought a pregnancy test. In a McDonald’s bathroom down the road, she took the test and watched it turn positive.

It took her two days’ worth of driving to get to the cabin. She had driven fast and almost recklessly. The trees on the side of the dark highway seemed to reach out for her with long jointed limbs. When she became too afraid, she had spent the night in her car at a rest stop with the doors locked and one eye open. After slowly driving the car up the winding, dirt road that cut through the forest, she parked in front of the dark cabin. It looked just like she remembered it. She hadn’t visited in five years. The cabin had always seemed so far away. She brought her suitcases in, turned on the electricity and the heat, made a bed, and quickly collapsed down onto it. She didn’t want to do anything, and she didn’t want to talk to anyone. She didn’t even want to sleep. She just wanted to lie on her bed, and breathe in the musty woodsy air in a place that she had known since childhood. This cabin had been the seat of such fond and loving memories. She regretted that she had never brought him here. She had always meant to.

Her mind went back to the pregnancy test in the fast food rest room. She knew that she should tell someone or do something about it. But she told herself that she had time, and that this issue could wait like all the other issues she was ignoring. She needed to rest now.

She fell asleep on the bed with her suitcases still packed and with all the lights on. She dreamed of him. He was dark and shadowed and he was weeping. Behind him stood an army of leafless trees, branches twisted and gnarled. But then they weren’t trees, they were arms. They were coming for him. She cried with him and reached out to hold him, but he slipped through her fingers like smoke. He was sorry. He loved her. She was sorry. She was angry. She was betrayed. She still loved him. Many long fingers took him away, dragging him back into darkness.

She woke up slowly as the sun beamed through the gauzy curtains. She stared into the light for a few minutes before she rose to change her clothes, and get a glass of water. As she unbuttoned her blouse, she gasped as she looked at herself in the antique vanity mirror that had been her great grandmothers. In her reflection she saw her stomach had grown. Where it had once been lean and flat, there was now a small mound. She knew babies didn’t grow that fast. She put a hand on the round stomach to feel it and convince herself that it was really there. That’s when she heard a faint whisper. Like the sound of children playing outside half a mile away. It was faint and high-pitched, a sound she could have convinced herself she hadn’t really heard.

“I hear you,” she announced to whatever it was. Still holding her stomach she went to the kitchen for her glass of water, too tired to be afraid or take offense. She understood something had begun to happen that was outside of her control. Like everything in life, she was just going to have to wait and bear it.

 

He had been in therapy since they met five years ago. He had always been honest with her about his struggles with his mental health. She stood by him through his ups and downs, through medication changes and constant adjustments. She told him every day that she loved his mind even in its imperfection, even when it seemed to be malfunctioning or misfiring. When he had proposed to her it had been during a stretch of time where he seemed to be the healthiest he’d ever been. He had seemed like he had finally found and peace and happiness within himself. Seeing him like that had made her overjoyed. She had such hope for their future. The day before he left his note had been a simple, happy day. They had taken a long walk in the park, sat on a bench and drank coffee and talked. She couldn’t even remember what they had been talking about, but it had been warm and sweet. She had trouble accepting that she lost him at a time like that. She couldn’t understand why after all he’d been through, that he had given up when things had been so good.

She sat at the kitchen table with her elbows resting on the worn wood. A full, untouched glass of cool water sat in front of her, but she had her eyes closed. Even getting herself to drink water was a struggle. She was thirsty and hungry, and she told herself that she was most likely dehydrated. But the effort needed to care for herself was too much. She wanted to be thirsty and hungry. Let me die of thirst, she thought, staring at the water glass.

“Drink,” something seemed to whine in a whisper from far, far away. She didn’t question the voice, but rather snickered at its demands. She wasn’t going to listen to anyone. Then she felt something in the mound of her stomach, a churning feeling, or rather a stirring. Something was happening. It frightened her. She drank the water quickly in big gulps, and then shuffled to the front door. She thought it might be nice to sit on the front porch and look into the forest that surrounded the cabin.

She had never wanted children. He had never spoken about them or seemed too fond of them either. She had worried what bringing a child into their relationship would do. At times, she felt that his sanity and his health was a fine balancing act, one she had become skilled at maintaining. She didn’t want a baby to come tottering in, knocking everything to ruins. Ingrid wasn’t sure what he would say to her if he were here, if he’d be happy about her pregnancy or if he would be anxious and afraid. She told herself that she should feel more about it. That she should start deciding things for it, caring for herself so as to care for it, this last little remnant of him.

 

The trees were tall and they seemed to go on forever. She sat outside on the porch without a sweater even though it was cold and the wind was blowing. She thought that she could smell snow on the air, and wondered if everything would be covered in white tomorrow. She sat in a rocking chair that had been a fixture in the cabin since before she was born. She wondered how many babies had been rocked to sleep in it. She wondered if she would rock her baby to sleep here.

She stared out into the trees until her eyes grew still and heavy. She couldn’t hear the wind anymore or feel the cold. Deep in the woods, she saw the darkened figure of a man. He began to walk closer, raising his arms. As he got closer, she realized that he was growing taller and taller, as though he was being stretched. And what she had seen as his two arms were actually many arms, fanned out at his sides. She put a hand to her stomach as something told her he was coming for her. Not taking her eyes off the dark figure cutting through the trees, she retreated back into the cabin and locked the door. She sat in front of the door, too afraid to move and catch sight of what might be just out the window by now.

She began to doze off in front of the door, and eventually dragged herself to an old wicker love seat and allowed herself to fully fall asleep there. She dreamed about him again. They were in the black forest with the darkness all around. But this time she was able to touch him, hold him, kiss him. They began making love, even as the darkened trees seemed to grow closer and loom nearer and nearer. Then it wasn’t him anymore. The dark man from the trees was thrusting deep inside her. She began to feel the blood pour out of her as he went harder and harder. His many arms wrapped around her tightly and began to constrict so that she could no longer breathe and couldn’t scream. She woke up coughing and gagging.

Laying on the wicker love seat, with the early traces of dawn outside the windows, she felt a rumbling from her stomach. Looking down she saw that it had doubled in size. What was once a gentle mound was now a mountain. She ran her fingers over it. She looked like she was seven months pregnant. She struggled to push herself up from the love seat. Closer than it had been before she heard a voice whine, “Eat. EAT!” It was a high, muffled sound. As the voice chanted and chanted, instructing her to eat, she realized that it wasn’t one voice, but rather a chorus of many.

She had always harbored a secret fear that she would lose him to suicide. It was something that she was constantly ready to ward off if she could. He had spoken about it with her countless times as something he struggled with. But while they had been together, it had never been something that reached critical mass. She struggled to understand why he had chosen this time, this moment to end his life. Why he had let it all go now. His note had given little insight, leaving her with no other reason than: “this is what I must do.” She wondered if maybe that he did it because he had finally found true happiness. Maybe after struggling for peace his entire life, when he finally acquired it, he knew it would be fleeting. Perhaps he wanted to die perfectly happy, instead of waiting for the eventually down swing of sadness to drag him back down. Maybe this was all Ingrid could have given him.

She found two cans of soup in the pantry that weren’t expired and began to heat them both up. The little shrieking voices began to get louder, all speaking at once, so that she couldn’t decipher what each one was saying. As the soup heated, they seemed to grow louder and shriller. When she finally ate, they were happy. She could tell. Something inside of her started to feel warm. She felt a tinge of enjoyment at being able to make them pleased, whoever they were.

Ingrid thought perhaps she had lost her mind. That perhaps this wasn’t a pregnancy. Maybe it was an incredibly fast growing type of cancer and now it had spread to her brain. Maybe she was possessed by demons or ghosts. She looked down at her large, protruding belly and realized that she was the mother of darkness, impregnated by grief. She laughed.

That’s when the pains started; sharp pangs that radiated from her stomach to all over her body. She fell to the ground and waited for another wave of cramping stings and nausea. She resigned herself to whatever was happening to her now. She couldn’t control anything, she never could. The voices were screaming inside. They shrieked in a high pitch cry, telling her they were frightened. Then the birthing began.

Contractions took her by force and she found herself pushing in spite of herself. With each push her body began to release tiny black spiders. They scurried across the floor as they found themselves free of her. Hundreds and hundreds of spiders poured out of her. She cried when she saw them, and they began to crawl all over her, little black legs tickling her skin. “Mother,” she heard a thousand voices cry. “Mother.”