Roger laughed—a hollow, grating sound—and leered at Stein.
“It doesn't matter now, but just wait.”
Stein pressed the heel of his palm against his forehead, over his left eye. “Fuck,” he growled. His head was throbbing, like a bad drug-induced trip, and the wave took him completely by surprise, knocking him flat on his back before the sky fell in. Undulations of red bloody falls and crushed blue velvet dropped into view and a mad rush of sound, like air escaping a hatch, enveloped his senses. It was a vacuum, and he felt the breath sucked from his useless lungs. He couldn't speak or move. His body visibly vibrated with the sudden onslaught (such power) like Heroin, like horse, and chocolate martinis and lipstick-stained champagne glasses. A banner of blasting rays, so blazingly light he felt as if the skin would simply slide down his skull, and reveal gaping hollowed eye sockets.
Wait. Who the fuck was Marquez?
“Marq,” Roger said, echoing his thoughts. Stein clenched his fists so tight his fingernails dug bloody grooves into his (glass covered) palms.
It was exhilaration, like none he'd ever experienced, a sticky residue of cocaine trapped at the bottom of a jar of buzzing flies. A dead carcass, and Ramona's body lay in among the slaughtered cattle.
Who was she?
“It doesn't matter,” Roger said. Stein opened his eyes. He felt he could run a million miles in any given direction and never stop. He felt like flying and diving and swooping on a deep downdraft, over mountains and valleys and streams...
I'm babbling. Jibberish. Who the fuck was Ramona? Where did she go? Why did she disappear?
His mouth gave no speech but Roger smirked.
“She's gone Cristein. Inside you. Gone forever. Can't you feel the power? Can't you just imagine your energy lighting a metropolitan city at this very moment?”
“I feel like a million bucks,” Stein said hoarsely and rose to hunch over pointed knees. He hugged his legs and pressed his cheek there. His mouth was dry. Crunchy.
“The glass again? So soon,” Roger said, almost apologetically.
“What happened to Ramona?”
Roger sighed through his nose. “Get up. You'll find no answers there sitting on the ground.”
Stein rose to his feet and rolled his head back on his shoulders. He looked at his hands, unmarked by blood or glass.
“You took her into you. Her energy became yours.”
“Bullshit,” Stein said, pushing Roger away from him. Roger was hotter than hot, but he didn't care. He wanted to be alone. To understand and digest what had just happened. “I didn't eat her.”
“Just her soul,” Roger said, that same sardonic grin on his face. His sharp teeth glittered in the dying sun.
“I can’t eat souls.”
“It would seem you are mistaken Cristein.”
“If I ate her soul, that would make her—“
“Gone,” Roger finished, “Yes. Gone. Food for you. Too bad for her. Hers was an innocent soul.”
“Stop saying that,” Stein said, “I don't eat souls. I'm not one of your damn minions or what the fuck ever you call them.”
“You are a soul eater.”
“Fuck you Roger.”
“It's time to tell you some things I only suspected up until now. Yours is not a human soul. Yours is not of the living world. You are a soul-eater, and that is that. You feed on the dead souls.”
“I'm human goddamnit.”
“Oh I love the way you believe in a God.”
“There is a God.”
“Is there Cristein?” Roger extended an arm to indicate the barren landscape. The house was gone, reduced to smoldering ashes. “Not here. There is no God here in this place.”
“I don't eat souls. I was a living man.”
“You know very well now that there is something different about you. You stole your sister's life, damning her soul forever.”
Stein pressed his lips so hard together; he felt they would spurt blood. His hands unclenched to press the heel of his palm into his left eye.
“I am human. I had a life. My name was Cristein Chamberlain.”
“Your body is human. You, Cristein, are not. You never were. You never will be. Accept this and we'll move on.”
“Mother. Fucker,” Stein snarled and shoved Roger down, pouncing on his chest afterwards. He held his scalding wrists high over his head.
“I am human.”
“You are not.”
With a roar of defiance, Stein punched Roger in the jaw.
“You can't hurt me Cristein.”
Isobel sat sentient at the edge of the clearing, her silent headlights giving no acknowledgment.
Welcome to my reading room. The works showcased here will most likely be first draft. Red pencils are most certainly welcome.
The 500 concept story begins here.
The 500 concept story begins here.
These works may have shocking content, whether it be sexual, graphic or otherwise twisted. That said, if you aren't much of a horror fan, Carrie Clevenger's Reading Room is probably not for you.
All of these works are copyright, all rights reserved by Carrie Clevenger. I will electrocute. Promise.
Enjoy your stay.
"500" WIP Installments in Order:
Hell's Kitchen (Light Graphic Content)
Cocktail (Light Graphic Content)
A thunderstorm rumbled in the distance with the promise of rain. Woods loomed nearby and the dead grass crunched underfoot. Like glass, Stein thought.
“I thought there wasn't weather in hell,” Stein said, glancing upwards.
Roger followed his gaze. “Everything is always changing in this Purgatory of yours.”
“Purgatory? All this is made by other people?”
“Memories, yes. Lives. Essences.” Roger said and walked on, with Stein following. There was no other alternative.
Smoke rolled over the tree line. Roger melded into the forest and Stein stumbled after, smacking away the sharp branches that snapped back in his face in Roger's wake.
“Where are we going?”
“Seems there's a new bunch coming in,” Roger said, without stopping, just pulling the branches hard to let them pop in Stein's eyes. He chuckled.
“Maybe you should go first,” he said and looked back at Stein. His eyes were filled with fire.
A building blazed—a cabin of sorts, set back in a clearing. Stein could hear the quiet roar of the flames as they licked the thick pine beams. A rocking chair swayed back and forth with tongues of fire taking residence in the seat. Above, the sky rolled red and virulent, with cracks of lightning and thunder, and every so often, a body or three would drop right in.
“War,” Roger said, stopping to admire the event, “always has a healthy bounty.”
Stein stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the strange spirit, because that's what he was. Demon, or something like that. Maybe.
“The dead in battle,” Stein said. It wasn't a question, but Roger nodded, his hair slicked back and that sharp grin emerging on his stone-white features. “So they just kinda fall in? Just like hamburger?”
“Just. Like. That.” Roger said, and approached the blazing cabin.
“Why is this thing on fire?”
“Because they aren't supposed to stay here. They aren't even supposed to be here.”
Stein frowned and looked at Roger. “What do you mean, not supposed to be here?”
“They go to the way-station.”
“Weigh-station? Like a trucker's?”
Roger gritted his teeth. “This was a place before for incoming shipments. But the place has...no, I won't tell you that. Now they go to the waiting room. Hell's Kitchen. Where you started all of this.”
“It's a weigh station?”
“No,” Roger growled and watched the drifting, shimmering shapes of the souls materialize into solid shapes.
Their souls are weighed?”
Roger shook his hair and rubbed a blister appearing over his right eye.
“Why do you do that?” Stein asked, cocking his head to the side to inspect Roger's wound.
“Why do I do what?”
“Blister like you can't stand it.”
“Because,” Roger hissed and started walking again. “This is human thought. Human dream, and I am not a part of it.”
“But you're Death.”
“Am I?” Roger asked and turned to face Stein while walking backwards, “what made you think such a thing?'
“Because,” Stein said and threw his hands up. “Fine. Fuck it. Whatever.”
“If you think I am simply Death, you are very, very wrong Cristein.”
“I am a stand-in.” Roger's black eyes locked with Stein's. “We await the coming of the Reaper.”
“There's a fucking Reaper?”
Roger smirked and waggled a finger. “You worry about what Stein has done. All of this will come to you in time.”
“Why am I here?” Stein asked.
“Because I must know everything I can about you before offering a job.”
“I'm dead. As if it matters if I fuck up.”
“It's an important position,” Roger said and turned to face the incoming wave of piled-up souls. That's what they were, shimmering and vacant, without eyes or ears, just holes where the functional organs had once been.
“Why do they look like that?” Stein asked and walked up to a deflating soul, fizzling on the hot sand.
“It's a hard ride over,” Roger said. “They always look like that.”
“Why don't I look like that?”
“Because.” Roger bent to reach out for the soul who recoiled and squeaked in terror. It got up and scurried across the sand like a wild thing, all shadows and plasma. Roger grumbled and waved a hand at the retreating figure.
“It'll learn not to run away.”
“Because why?” Stein asked, ignoring the diversion.
“Why don't you look like that?” Roger smiled, and it was not pleasant at all. “In due time.”
“How about now?”
Roger nodded at another soul laying on the sand like discarded pantyhose. “Try to pick it up.”
“You mean touch that thing?”
“Yes. Try it.”
Stein frowned but reached out for the shaded form. It came towards his fingers like a lonely stray dog.
“Well, this is interesting,” Roger said, obviously amused, “Go on. Touch it. Grab onto it.”
Stein crept towards the thing, meeting it halfway in the space between them. It was cold, but not bitterly. A cool breeze. An autumn breeze. Soft, like leaves. The form began to solidify, features becoming prominent in the gray shadow. Lips, nose and finally, a sensuous full mouth.
“I believe she likes you,” Roger said and leaned down towards her. Her attributes dissolved like a sand castle in the waves.
“They sure don't like you at all,” Stein said, and closed his fingers around hers. She materialized into a recognizable female again.
The longer he held onto her, the more solid she became, until her flesh gleamed in the dying sun on the horizon. Always on the horizon in the In-Between, as he was beginning to think it was.
Roger smiled weakly and bowed his head to the frightened soul. “Time's up.”
A scream resounded from inside Stein's head, so much that he held a hand to his eyes as if that would stop anything. The pain was internal, and she was pulling to get away from him.
“Welcome to your destiny,” Roger said, grinning his piranha grin as Stein felt the soul turn to ash in his hand, and a cold stroke pass through his center.
“Ramona,” Stein said with a sharp intake of breath. “Her name was Ramona.”
His eyes opened in water. Blue wavered in his vision before he realized where he was. He turned his head to see Roger with his shark-teeth grinning in the nocturnal lighting. A red ribbon twisted and curled in on itself in the pool's movement. He felt himself pulled back and out of the icy water.
“Stein! Man! Speak to me man!” Turned over. A face in his. His words tried to come, but there was water in his mouth. In his lungs. A thrust to his sternum and a lukewarm rush of acidic water rushing up from his throat.
“It's fucking January, what the hell are you doing?”
“He was always so caring, wasn't he Cristein?” Roger stood behind the man and opened a pad of paper. “Let's see, this would be—oh no, seems that page has been torn out...”
“Orlando,” Stein said, his freezing lips twitching uncontrollably as the big black man went inside the lodge for blankets.
“Yes. Yes, that was what I was thinking.” Roger put the pad away and clasped his hands behind his back. He scowled; it looked out of place on those pale features. “You can get up now.”
“Don't be foolish,” Roger snorted. “You're already dead. This isn't going to hurt you anymore than it would hurt me.”
Stein ground his hair into the poolside concrete as he looked back and forth. High above, a gradient, gray to black with swirling snowflakes.
“Orlando never died,” he said finally, biting his lip as he rose from the ground.
“Later he did. You gave him the idea how.”
“You can't pin a suicide on me!”
His voice rang out into a rolling echo, as if he were standing on the brink of a cliff, shouting out across the crevasse.
Crevasse! Had to be a foreign word—
Roger grinned again, his tongue black and forked. “I can do as I like.”
“What about the job you have? Just offer it already.”
Stein felt naked. Steam rolled in around him, hot and humid. He looked down and gave a little yelp.
“Oh come now, not as if I can't see all of you anyway,” Roger said, standing next to him in a towel. His sunken white chest had weeping sores dotted across it, like crying eyes. Stein recoiled when they blinked in unison.
“What the fuck?”
“Seems to be your favorite statement come lately,” Roger scoffed and rolled his head back on his neck.
“Know where you are?”
“Gym,” Stein said flatly. His hair was soapy. He turned to the water spray to rise the shampoo out. “Kevin.”
He switched the water off and Roger handed him a towel. Or at least—fuck. That caught him by surprise. Kevin Cordoba stood there in a towel himself. His face was red and he stammered. Even though Stein knew exactly what he was going to say, his face worked into a mask of surprise.
“Do I know you?”
Kevin managed a small smile and clung loosely to the towel when Stein moved to snatch it out of his hands.
“Jesus,” Stein said to Roger, outside himself, seeing everything as it occurred. “I was fucking seventeen man! I don't want to see this—“
“You did very horrible things, didn't you Stein? What was it that you did immediately after you told him to get the fuck away from you?”
“I don't want to talk about it.”
“No?” Roger said, “Because I can show you what your friends did to him—“
“They had to identify him by his teeth, Cristein. He was tied down in the bed of a pickup truck like an animal. No one ever knew young boys could be such—monsters.” His grin wavered, “But not you Stein. No. You came off smelling like a rose. Seems Angel and Jason did time in the big house. Jason was stabbed in the throat with a sharpened spoon. He died at the scene, and no one knew where or how that inmate was able to keep a weapon like that. They found out when Armando died a day later from internal bleeding.”
He jerked the towel from Kevin's paused hand and blotted Stein's face.
“Three for the price of one. You've been quite the commodity during your time.”
“I didn't know goddamnit,” Stein said, gritting his teeth. The shower faded, and so did Kevin's hopeful smile.