He stared up at the blue, purple, and black balloons taped to the ceiling, framing a gigantic banner reading ‘GRADUATE’ in bold silver filigree. When he’d watched his mom hang the decorations, he couldn’t help but think how much the colours reminded him of an ugly bruise.
*PLEASE NOTE: This is a short horror story containing violence, explicit language, and torture.
A white figure moved in his periphery.
He froze. Blinked furiously.
It was just the white curtain, hanging limp and moth-eaten over the window. Blast it. You’re an educated man, Arthur Bainsworth. Stop jumping at imagined ghosts.
A short story about an undead village and a lost ranger.
Ever since I was eight, I’ve been able to create portals to another dimension. Cool, right?
No, actually. Get your head out of your ass.
For my first few years in Cardiff, I felt like an outsider. I had the weird accent. My mother was dead. People would ask me about her, and I’d shrug. There wasn’t much to say. They’d ask me if Canada was cold. Yes, it’s fucking cold. (Okay, I didn’t say ‘fucking’, because I was ten, remember). The winter tends to be cold. Because of the snow. They’d ask me why I’d moved to Cardiff. What my Aunt did. She works in banking, I’d answer, though what I really wanted to say was, she works in banking, until she finally locks down one of those desperate divorced dads she’s always after. One with a solicitor’s salary and no dependants, if she had her way.
There are a lot of tragic stories. Another where some obscure white girl doesn’t get her way is hardly worth anyone’s pity. And that’s not what I’m here to tell you about, anyways. I’m here to tell you about my mother’s handbag.
And how that handbag, with its rough stitching and cultural-appropriating rainbow-coloured elephant print kept me alive on the night I was attacked.
The night that stranger took everything from me: mind, soul, and body.
No time for a shower. Grilled cheese for lunch, if they were lucky. Too late for order-in groceries. Could she order pizza? She could ask him to pick something up, but his trips to the grocery store always took twice as long and came with a bombardment of questions via text: “Which isle is that in again? Did you want the organic or the regular? What size diapers does she wear?” (Maybe if you changed them more often, you’d know!) And that was if he thought to text.
The tight press of bodies around him were just shapes, smelling of sweat and blood and the tang of stale urine. He wrinkled his nose in disgust, stifling a gag. The smell was on him now, like a baptism in a tainted stream that could not be washed by any number of holy prayers. The bodies around him shifted and murmured. They were animals in a cage, grumbling over the pangs of hunger and thirst.
The assassin crept through the shadows as though they were a part of him. Darkness draped around his shoulders like a comfortable coat. Foot