by Ellen Denton
Alan woke up screaming like a girl. It was the same nightmare; he was being chewed on by hundreds of rats. Now, as he sat up in bed, he could still see their small, red, angry eyes and smell the disgusting, dirty odor of the ones that were on his face. He bolted into the bathroom and vomited.
Weeks ago, about the time the bad dreams started, he had also begun hearing objects in his house whispering to him during the day when he was awake. He still had enough presence of mind to know that they really weren't talking to him and that the actual situation was that he was slowly going crazy.
He shuffled into the kitchen, took a package of ham from the fridge, and got out a plate. He looked at it lovingly for a moment, turning it around in his hands. It was one of four that his sister had sent him as a gift last year from Mexico where she worked as a translator. It had a beautiful, shiny, golden-green glaze. He placed the ham on it, then recoiled in shock, because the plate threatened to kill him if he didn't return the five dollars he had stolen seventeen years earlier from his mother’s purse. He pinched his arm to make sure he was actually awake. He was severely frightened by this chattering piece of dishware, but it's what he saw outside the kitchen window that froze him in sheer terror; two huge, yellow eyes stared down at him malevolently from a height greater than any human being could possibly be. The eyes lowered and moved closer, revealing a hideous, slime-covered face. The face moved closer, bumping against the window.
Now convinced that he was not going crazy and that it was all really happening, he screamed and backed away from the window. He grabbed the phone to call 911, but the receiver turned into a hissing, giant spider as soon as he lifted it out of the cradle. He could feel stiff, little hairs on its body and its eight legs moving frantically up and down against the back of his hand. Cringing in pure, agonized, spiritual disgust, he dropped the phone.
When he was a teenager, the mailman had paid one of his infrequent visits to his grandmother. He found her dead on the kitchen floor from a massive coronary. To this day, he recalled the putrid, overpowering smell of the dead body, which had been rotting on the kitchen floor for days. This is why he knew what the smell was coming from Alan's house.
The coroner ruled Alan's death by hanging a suicide.
It was almost a week after his body was found that his sister's letter arrived from Mexico. In it, she updated him on things there, and mentioned, in a P.S., not to ever eat off of the decorative plates she had earlier sent him. She had recently found out that the glaze in them contained lead and possibly other toxic metals, which could cause a barrage of serious physical problems, not to mention delusions, hallucinations and bad dreams.
Issue #2 Contents
The Heart of the Labyrinth
Where I Choose to Wake
They Don’t Move Like They Used To
The Dubious Apotheosis of Baskin Gough, Part Two
Patrick S. McGinnity
Lazarus Walks, Part Two
Ellen Denton has been published in a White Cat Publication, Underground Voices, Perihelion Science Fiction, Nameless (Print edition), Horror Garage, Transformation, Horror on the Installment Plan, Bards and Sages quarterly, Binnacle, Literary hatchet, Fiction 365, You and Me, Things Japanese, Guardian Angel Publishing, Words about work, Greenprints, Animal Wellness, and Vampires2 magazines, in a Gothic City Press, Suddenly Lost in Words, Dark Moon books, Spark, Spruce Mountain Press, Publishing Syndicate, Zharmae Publishing Press, See Spot Run, and a Treasures Beyond Measure anthology. Honorable mention in L. Ron Hubbard's Writers of the Future contest, First place in On the Premises contest, winner of Enchanted Spark contest, Fourth place in Echoes of the Right to God International essay contest, honorable mention inReading Writers suspense fiction contest, finalist for Smories short story contest, PK Poetry competition, and Scinti story contest.