Category Archives: Monsters

A Man Called Truth, Pt. 4: Inheritance

This is Part 4 of my serial, A Man Called Truth. You can read the previous installments here: Stories

Six-year old Andrea Rosenthal sat on a blue blanket beneath the skimpy shade of a palm tree and rearranged the dolls. Her friend, Michelle Delgado from next door, sat opposite her and busied herself erasing the marks from the handheld chalkboard. Andrea’s father eyed them as he walked to the detached garage, musing on the fact that Andrea hated school.

“Now, Don…” Andrea addressed the male doll that was sitting propped against a box of Legos, pointing a stubby finger at him. “I better not catch you pulling Sherry’s hair anymore.” She picked up the Barbie doll and smoothed down her blond hair.

“That’s a Ken doll, I’ve told you a hun’red times,” Michelle said.

“And I said his name is Don because Mommy says he looks like Don Johnson from Miami Vice!”

“I’m not allowed to watch Miami Vice. My mom says it’s dirty,” Michelle pouted.

Andrea wasn’t allowed to watch the show, either, but she neglected to tell her friend that. Michelle thought Andrea was cool, so Andrea tried to act the part. She had plenty of practice observing the older kids at the academy. She sighed and flipped her long, black hair back over her shoulder, in imitation of one of the girls at the academy. She stifled a smug smile when she saw Michelle flip her own brown hair back.

“We’re going to be doing addition facts,” said Andrea. She pointed at her brand new Cabbage Patch doll. “Lee Ann, what is two-plus-four?”

A dark shadow passed over the two girls. Michelle Delgado looked up and shrieked, dropped the chalkboard down on the blanket and hid her face in her hands.

Andrea looked up at the tall, dark-haired man standing there. Their eyes met. Both pair were dark, almost black: one pair had a brooding look, the other…almost lifeless. Almost…

Two girls. A hammer. A cold, torch-lit tunnel. A lie…a terrible lie. Conflict. Anger. Ill-used! A breach of the requirement!

Michelle was sobbing quietly into her hands.

“It’s only Emet,” Andrea said, looking at her friend. “He lives in our garage sometimes.”

Michelle looked up into those steady eyes. “I don’t like him,” she said.

“He won’t hurt you,” Andrea said. “He works for Daddy.”

At that moment, Andrea’s dad walked around the hulking goliath.

“You girls go into the back-yard and play now, okay? I’ve got some business to take care of in the house and I won’t be able to watch you out here.”

Andrea’s mom was at work, so her father was watching her. The girls got up; gathering dolls, toys and blanket up into their arms. Andrea’s father gestured Emet toward the house.

Andrea stopped suddenly and stared at him. “Emet…You’re bleeding.”

Emet reached up and touched his forehead. As he pulled his finger away from the small cut, both girls gasped.

“Your blood is silver!” Andrea exclaimed.

“Run along, you two,” Andrea’s father said impatiently.

They wandered into the backyard where they dumped everything on the ground, and headed over to swing on the jungle gym.

“My dad’s been mad at everybody lately,” said Andrea. She swung higher and higher, trying to outpace Michelle.

“Why does Emet live in your garage?” Michelle asked.

“It’s a secret,” Andrea said. “My daddy said tell no one. And that means you.”

“Why’s your daddy mad?”

“He’s having business problems, Mommy said. They fight all the time.”

Andrea had never known a time when her parents didn’t fight. Daddy accused Mommy of spending too much money…then Mommy would cry and tell Daddy he didn’t love her…that he still loved his other wife…the one that died. Then Daddy would leave…stomp out and slam the door. Sometimes he’d take his car and drive away for awhile. Other times she would lie in her bed and hear the garage door slam and know Daddy was in there, locked in with his memories.

Sometimes he took her to the garage. He showed her the boxes and boxes and files and files of family history, going back since “time out of mind” he said. He told her that one day, if she never had a brother, it would be her job to take care of the family files. They were very important, he said. They had to be taken care of so future generations would know and learn from the past. What they would know and learn, he wouldn’t tell her. He promised he would tell her everything one day, when she was old enough.

He would never tell her.

That night, as the Rosenthal family lay sleeping, it was supposed that a faulty wire in the kitchen started the blaze. Andrea’s room was closest to the front door, so the firemen reached her first.  She was taken to County Hospital and treated for smoke inhalation.

Harold J. Rosenthal, and his wife, Sharon, perished.

A few days later, the executor of her father’s estate, a kindly white-haired gentleman, visited her at County. He told her that she’d be sent to an orphanage. No one in her father’s family could (or would) take her in.

Andrea cried and wailed in pain. Her Mommy and Daddy were gone and they were never coming back! And nobody else wanted her. She lost everything…all of her dollies died in the fire, too. The kind man held her hand and patted her head until she stopped crying.

When she’d quieted down, he handed her a box with a lock on the side.

“This is very important,” he said. “You have to take care of this box and what’s inside it. It passes from your father to you, now. This is your inheritance.”

He opened the box with a key that he later put on a chain for her to wear around her neck.

Inside the box was a doll made of stone.


A Man Called Truth, Pt. 3: Big Shot

This is Part 3 of my serial, A Man Called Truth. You can read Part 1 and 2 here: Stories

Johnny Ross sat in the back of his limousine drinking a vodka, Winston dangling from his thick, trembling lips. It was an older limo, but he’d sworn to himself that he’d ride in a limo before he died and as soon as he had made enough dough, he bought this used one. The stereo speakers were blaring “Big Shot” by Billy Joel. He wore sunglasses even though it was 1:30 in the morning, because that’s what important people like him did when they were partying in the wilds of 1979 Los Angeles. His silk shirt, unbuttoned far enough to expose an extremely hairy chest and a sharks tooth gold necklace, was stained under the arms with sweat. That was because of the groupie he’d just been screwing in the back of the limo while he sent his driver/bodyguard to the office at the club with the order to tell his partner Shef that he’d better play it cool if any more cops came sniffing around about that nosy bitch reporter.

Johnny was aware there was a certain irony about a singer in a heavy metal band owning a disco, when everyone was saying rock n’ roll was dead, but he didn’t care. The joint brought in loads of cash and whatever problems came up, Shef took care of them without bothering him. All except that last problem.  Shef had needed some help with that one.

Then, Tony Germain had come back to the car, pale as the moon.

Shef was dead. He’d found him stabbed in the throat in the back office.

Johnny opened the back door and shoved the chick out onto the sidewalk before she could even get her panties back on. Johnny threw them out the window at her as Tony put the car in drive and sped toward the house.

They drove down the tree-lined street and came to a stop in front of Johnny’s house, both men looking curiously at the yellow taxi parked in front. Johnny crushed the cigarette out in the ashtray and he and Tony got out and walked over to the cab. Tony pulled  a nine-millimeter out of a holster hidden under his jacket. The car was empty.

“Probably for next door. C’mon,” Johnny said.

Tony re-holstered the gun as they entered the house . He immediately went to the bar and poured them two vodkas.

“Fuck,” Johnny said. He took the drink and downed it in one gulp, putting the glass down on a small coffee table. He plopped down in the leather lounger beside the table and ran his fingers through his hair. “Who the hell else knows about that reporter?”

“Damned if I know.”

The woman had said she’d left her evidence with someone. But she refused to say who, even after they’d hurt her a little. So they hurt her a lot more. That was the part Johnny didn’t like. Shef and Tony were the sleaze-ball gangsters, not him. He was an artist, for Christ’s sake. But damn if those two didn’t get off on torturing that chick. Fucking sadists.

“Do you think it’s her husband coming after us?”

Tony laughed. “I saw the guy’s picture in the paper. Scrawny little bastard. He couldn’t have taken Shef down like that. No way.”

Tony was leaning against the fireplace. He turned to sit his drink on the mantelpiece when Johnny gasped.

He stared in horror at the black-lacquered frame holding the photograph of him and Shef at Boogie Wunderland. Propped up against the picture, obscuring the image of Shef leaning against the bar with his arm around Johnny’s shoulder, was Shef’s severed finger.

Tony shrieked, taking a step backwards and dropping the drink to the floor, the glass thudding on the fake animal-skin rug.

“Holy shit,” Tony cried. He pulled out the gun and brought his fingers to his lips. “Stay there,” he whispered.

As if Johnny was going anywhere. Hell no. He was going to stay right there, close enough to make a beeline for the door.

He waited about ten minutes, tapping his fingers nervously on the arm of the chair. He strained his ears, listening for the sound of Tony’s footfalls on the thick carpet.

Suddenly Tony appeared in the doorway. He was wearing an odd, almost confused expression. His eyes were glazed, as if he were on drugs.

“What the fuck’s the matter with you?” Johnny asked.

Tony took one step forward into the room and fell onto the carpet. His hands were tied behind his back and his feet were shackled. He opened his mouth to scream, but no sound came out. His mouth was a gaping, bloody hole. His tongue had been cut out.

Johnny got up and shot like a bullet toward the door, but found his way suddenly blocked by a mammoth of a man: tall, and built like a professional boxer.

He gulped. How had the stranger gotten in front of the door that quickly? What’s more, how had he gotten inside the house?

“Who are you?” Johnny asked. He was shaking. “Who sent you?”

Emet cocked his head to one side, like a dog listening to his master say something pleasant. He put his hand to his mouth and pulled out a piece of paper. He handed it to Johnny. It read:

“You’re going to die a slow and painful death, Johnny Ross. Everything you guys did to her, is going to be done to you.”

Johnny looked up, wide-eyed, at the behemoth standing in front of him.

Emet removed a knife from his pocket.

Johnny screamed and tried to lunge past Emet. He saw the fist…then everything went black. There would be more screaming later on, but no one would hear Johnny and Tony from the insulated recording studio in the basement of the house.


At the first light of dawn, a mountain of a man dressed in black entered a suburban house. He went to the upstairs bedroom where he laid several small, bloody packages and something that looked like human skin at the feet of a middle-aged man with red, puffy eyes, who was sitting on a bed holding an old lockbox.

“Why?” Emet asked. His eyes had the fire of the kill still kindling within their dark depths. Harold looked up in surprise and flinched at the look in those eyes. There seemed to be something beyond them, almost intelligent. But that wasn’t possible. What was trapped in there had a powerful binding spell placed upon it ages ago.

“Since when do you ask questions?” said Harold. He rose from the bed and wiped a finger across one of the fine lines on Emet’s forehead that most people mistook for a prison tattoo.

Emet’s skin hardened like clay, his body seemed to fall in on itself, and he fell shrinking to the floor.

Harold bent over, picked up a statuette no more than six-inches long and placed it carefully inside the box.

Outside, on the sidewalk in front of the well-kept lawn, a man with long, white hair tied back in a ponytail, wearing a long grey trench coat looked up at the lighted upstairs window and muttered:

“Yes…yes…almost time…”

A Man Called Truth, Pt. 2: Lamentations

This is Part 2 of my serial, A Man Called Truth. You can read Part 1 here: The 70’s Job.

Becka was still alive when Harold found her, but barely. The sight of her tortured body lying in the overgrown lot broke both his soul and his sanity. He cradled her in his arms, anointing her blood-stained face with kisses and tears.

“Who did this to you, Becka?” he asked, looking into her ruined eyes. He felt the warmth of her blood as it saturated his shirt.

He saw a couple walking down the near sidewalk and he yelled at them to Please, Call an Ambulance. The man nodded and the pair hurried away.

While he waited, clutching his wife’s wounded body, he begged her to tell him who hurt her.

Fading in and out of consciousness, Becka told him everything.

He’d been so proud of her as she worked her way through night school until class-by-class she earned her Journalism degree. He was a modern man, and wanted his wife to pursue her dreams.

She took the job at the city news, doing grunt writing: obituaries and church notices. She was ambitious, and so talented that she made Investigative Reporter in just two years. They celebrated the event by having dinner at the fanciest restaurant in town. When they got home, they made love until morning.

With the new position came bigger stories, and with the bigger stories came danger. She uncovered the closeted skeletons of some of the most respected members of the community. She received bundles of hate mail and a few death threats, but neither of them took it seriously.

Harold didn’t like it, though. He didn’t like the idea of Becka meeting criminals alone for interviews. He didn’t like her going undercover into some of the most dangerous sections of the city. He never once voiced his concerns, or tried to dissuade her, though. It was her dream.

And now, she was dying.

She’d called him earlier to tell him where she’d be meeting her latest contact, some lowlife who served drinks at a sleazy disco. Becka always told him where she was going. That’s how he’d found her.

She met someone there, all right, but not her contact. She was subdued and stuffed inside the back of a van. As Harold listened to Becka tell what those sons-of-bitches did to her, he resisted the urge to cry. A hard knot of pain formed in his throat and he swallowed down to the pit of his stomach.

He listened, taking in every detail of his wife’s story: names, places, he urged it all out of her.

“Promise me you won’t go looking for them, Harry,” she begged, her breathing becoming more ragged with every word. “Promise me. They’ll kill you. I…please…promise…”

“I promise,” he said. And he meant it. He wouldn’t go looking for them. He wouldn’t need to.

Becka was already dead by the time the ambulance arrived. He told the police everything, but he knew they’d take too much time to act on it.

He went home to the old Victorian they’d recently purchased, hoping one day to fill the spare bedrooms with little copies of themselves.

Harold sighed heavily. He knew he had to start making funeral arrangements, but there was something else he needed to attend to first.

He walked into the study and sat down at Becka’s old desk. He took a small spiral-bound memo pad and pen out of one of the drawers. As he wrote, the sorrow he’d been holding deep inside was joined by rage. He clamped down tight on both emotions, and quietly nurtured them. He wrote on one sheet of paper and tore it off, then another until he had four sheets in front of him. These he gathered up and put in the breast pocket of his button-down shirt, still stained dark with Becka’s blood.

He rose and climbed the stairs leading to their bedroom. In the closet, he moved boxes and bags from a top shelf until he found what he was looking for, tucked away in a corner. He removed a lockbox about the size of the lunch pail he carried to work.

He sat on the bed, placing the box in front of him. From his pants pocket, Harold withdrew his keychain. He grasped a very ancient looking key and fitted it into the lock. It made a rusty groan when he turned it, but the box opened. He stared for a long while at the object that rested on a bit of folded fabric within.

Suddenly, his grief swelled to it’s apex and he could no longer hold it in.

He began to hum.

He removed the artifact from the box and laid it on the bed. He spit into his hands and began to caress it, feeling it soften beneath his touch. As he hummed, the object began to grow.

Harold’s humming became louder and words emerged from his lips…


The object continued to grow beneath his hands as Harold sang, pouring out his grief and rage, channeling it into ancient magic. It flowed through him, through his fingers and into the artifact, now so large he had to place it on the floor. Harold closed his eyes, tears streaking down his cheeks as he wailed…lamentations echoing in the empty room.

“Azru li…one who loves truth…Ahavat HaEmet…help me.”

Harold opened his eyes and gasped.

The object was only inches from touching the ceiling.

Harold rose to his feet and reaching up, traced a single word upon the forehead.

Lids opened, revealing glassy, mahogany eyes. What once resembled clay, was now flesh. Curly dark hair framed its face.

Harold went to the closet again and removed from hangers in the back a pair of slacks, a shirt, and a jacket that were always too large for him, but that he’d bought anyway. He never explained to Becka why he occasionally bought clothes and shoes that were too big for him. And always in black, the perfect color in which to clothe your living revenge.

When he had dressed it, Harold showed it the first piece of paper. It nodded.

“Open,” Harold commanded, and the half-living man obeyed, allowing Harold to stuff the pages into it’s mouth. It swallowed.

“Go avenge me, Emet,” Harold said.

Emet turned and walked out of the room.

Stay tuned for Part 3: Big Shot

A Man Called Truth, Pt. 1: The 70’s Job

Emet removed the knife from the throat of the grey-haired man on the floor. He wedged a black-booted toe beneath the man’s shoulder and nudged him over on his side. He bent down and grabbed the man’s wrist, lifting his arm. With a precise, almost surgical skill, he severed the ring finger and caught it as he let go of the wrist.

Emet took a plastic sandwich bag from the pocket of his black leather jacket and stuffed the finger—still wearing the ring—inside, proof that the job was done. He stuffed the baggie back in his pocket (along with the knife) and knelt there for a moment, muttering a few foreign words under his breath.

He stood up and walked to the door, loud music blaring from the discotheque as he exited the small back office. He worked his way through the crowded disco, fighting the swaying and grinding bodies of couples dancing to “I Wanna Kiss You All Over,” and a few whores who thought that the tall, muscular, handsome man with curly black hair might make an excellent customer for the evening. They would have been disappointed that he had neither the inclination nor the equipment needed for the enterprise. He also didn’t have much money, which would have depressed them further.

He exited the bar through the front door, taking no precautions whatsoever to conceal his identity. He didn’t need to. If all went according to plan, he would be dead by the time the police started asking questions.

He walked away from the building, the intense blue and red neon flashing “Boogie Wunderland” behind him. He found a taxi parked on the street and got into the back seat.

“Where to?” the cabbie asked. He was middle-aged, fat and balding.

Emet made no answer, but coughed loudly.

“I said, where to, buddy?” The cabbie was getting pissed. And nervous. He could smell trouble, and this big motherfucker reeked of it.

Emet’s mud-colored eyes glazed over and he started wretching violently. He bent over, gagging.

“Hey, hey!!! No pukin’ in my taxi, you son of a bitch. Get out!” The cabbie started to reach beneath his seat where he kept his peacemaker .38 Special, but saw Emet straightening up in the rear view mirror.

Emet opened his mouth and pulled out a piece of paper. The taxi-driver’s jaw dropped. The paper looked dry.

“Go here, please,” Emet said in a deep, hoarse voice. He handed the driver the small, torn sheet of a memo pad.

The driver took the paper (it was dry) and noted the address. He looked even more confused.

“Do you know who the hell lives here?” he asked, but Emet just sat there, staring straight ahead and spoke no reply.

“Do you know him?” the taxi asked.

Emet was silent.

“Aw, fuck it. It’s your dough.” He turned the key and the taxi’s engine vroomed. The driver pulled away from the curb and drove into the night with Emet sitting silently in the back seat.

Emet didn’t have much in the way of a brain, but his instinct made up for it. And his instinct told him that the taxi driver, although his name wasn’t inscribed on the list of deeds, would have to be dealt with.

“I can’t believe you fuckin’ know him!” the cabbie driver said.

As quiet as the whisper of a snake sliding up behind it’s prey, Emet reached into his pocket and fingered the handle of the knife.

I Heard the Bells

Adjusting his scarf around his face, Tim closed the shop door with a tinkle of the welcome bells and locked it, then shuffled down the snowy street making his way against the icy blast of winter wind.

The town square was a bustle of activity, this being Christmas Eve. People were doing their last minute shopping along the streets encompassing the square, and getting set to enjoy the Christmas show. However, everyone seemed to take great pains to avoid one of the side streets.

This street was the home to the old, Gothic-style church that had been home to many denominations over its hundred-and-fifty year history. Currently the Presbyterians were worshipping there, at least until recently. Jeffrey, the church’s official bell-ringer, a boy with more bravery than brains, came tearing down from the belfry two weeks after Hallowe’en, trembling like a wet cat, claiming that he had ‘seen a spook.’

The pastor, Reverend Herlinger, an old man with more contempt than cleverness, sent him straight back to his bell-ringing duties against threats of telling his father: a malicious man given to drink and brutality where his family was concerned, but who was nevertheless a charitable tither.

The boy fearfully discharged his duties, and did so prior to every service from that moment on with nary a complaint, but he was often seen muttering to himself afterward, and casting fearful jerky glances over his shoulder. He became pale and developed dark pouches under his eyes which made him look more like an old man than a mere boy of thirteen.

Then, on the first Sunday of the Christmas season, it happened.

The day started in its normal fashion. Cocks crowed, clocks chimed and people woke up. The first snow of the year had fallen and the ground was frozen hard and glittery-white. Close to 6 am, those who lived in the town awaited the ringing of the church bells to call them to 7 o’clock service.

No bells sounded.

Those townspeople who were awake chewed their eggs and sausages, and drank their juice and coffee, glancing at their wall clocks every three or four minutes.

6:10. . .6:15. . .6:25 came and went and still no din of bells broke the unearthly silence that enfolded the town like a fog.

“Wonder why the church bells haven’t rung?” Tim’s wife, Dorothy,  asked.

“Dunno,” Tim replied. “We’ll find out soon enough, I reckon. Maybe Jeffrey’s ill. God only knows, old Herlinger can’t climb those steep stairs. He ‘aint no spring chicken anymore. All the cluck’s gone right out of the old bugger!” Tim laughed.

They finished breakfast and bundled up, leaving the house at 6:45. The church was less than  a ten-minute walk from their house. As they arrived, they saw most of the other worshippers gathered outside of the church.

“Doors are locked,” said Fred Avery, the town’s barber. He looked grim. “Terrible shouting in there.”

Tim and Dorothy looked confused, but soon heard for themselves as a ruckus erupted inside the church.

“Get your lazy behind up those stairs and ring that bell, I said!” Herlinger shouted.

“NO!! And you can’t make me!” came Jeffrey’s voice. People in the crowd looked at one another in disbelief. They had never heard Jeffrey so much as raise his voice, let alone disobey the minister.

Several thumps could be heard and Jeffrey cried out. The preacher was beating the boy.

“Now, get up there!” the pastor yelled. The people waiting outside could hear the sound of Jeffrey’s footfalls on the stairs to the belfry.

“He’s got no right,” Fred’s wife spoke.

“Mind your business,” Fred admonished her.

“I think she’s right,” Tim said. His wife put her arm around him and squeezed him gently in silent solidarity.

Gladys Avery looked up and screamed. “AAAGGH! Look out!”

Everyone scrambled backwards as a dull thud sounded. They tried to shield themselves, but the impact of the body sent blood and fluids splattering in all directions.

Jeffrey had jumped from the tower.

Tim made his way across the park. Most of the townfolk were gathered there, as the theater troupe was putting on a Christmas show in the square that evening. Tim found Dorothy seated on a bench. She held out a delicious hot cocoa to him and he gratefully accepted it, giving her a peck on the lips in exchange.

“What’s the word, lovey?” he asked.

She smiled briefly, then her smile froze on her face in a grimace. “They say he’s not likely to live out the night.”

After Jeffrey’s suicide, the pastor went crazy. A few of the men tried to calm him down.

“The curse! Blast it! The curse! It must be time. I should’ve known!” he ranted. Although they tried, no one could get a sane word from him.

Later that night, the pastor attempted to take his own life. He’d dragged himself up the steep staircase to the belfry and swallowed a bottle of sleeping pills at the top. The deacon, John Willis, found him there…along with the strange suicide note:

“Harm not another. I give you my life in sacrifice. Harm not the others, I beg. Let my life satisfy the bond…” It went on in that vein for some length, then ended abruptly, no doubt when the pills took hold.

“Anyone been able to determine what the “curse” might be? Did anyone talk to Dolores Gant?” Dolores Gant was the oldest living resident in the town, and she had been a member of the church when it was still St. Michael’s. She was in a nursing home now.

“Me n’ Gladys went over today,” Dorothy said, looking glum. “We asked her if she knew about a curse. Her eyes got big and she became agitated. She said ‘The bellringer!  Sunset!” then clamped her hand over her mouth and refused to say another word.”

“That’s very odd,” Tim said, taking a drink of his cocoa.

They snuggled on the bench and watched the performers on the bandshell in the center of the park getting ready for their performance. The streetlights in the park twinkled on as dusk approached. Tim and Dorothy turned in the direction of the church to watch the sunset. Dorothy gasped.

“What is it, love?” Tim asked.

“Where did they go, Tim?” she cried, pointing at the top of the church.

A few miles away, Pastor Herlinger awoke from his coma and motioned for someone to write down his last words.

Three….three it requires…from All Hallows Eve ’til Christmas Eve. If three it does not get…it will take us all. It will awaken the stone demons as the last of sunlight fades and…and…”

In the square, as the sun set, all who were gathered looked up in awe at the belfry as the bells began to peal. Their looks of shock turned to horror as black shapes flew out of the belfry and from the top of the flying buttresses.

The peace of the evening was disrupted by screams.

Another fifty years had come to pass: it was time for the gargoyles to feed.