didn't catch the glow until he reached to turn on the front burner.
Chrome trim surrounded the burner knob, chrome trim stained in blue.
spun, but nothing blue burned behind him.
faced the stove again, then turned back quickly. Nothing. He set
the pan of vegetable soup down, his hand starting to shake.
he mumbled. "Nothing." He lit the stove, watching a flaccid pea
sink into the orange liquid. It bobbed back up.
he repeated. The burner filled the air with the odor of hot metal
and meals overflowed. The soup warmed, then frothed. It filled the
pan with spastic herds of white-lace ebullience. The pea danced.
poked at the rebellious vegetable with his wooden spoon, then took
a large, stained plastic bowl from the cupboard. He pulled the pan
from the stovetop and poured.
pea sank, but only momentarily. It resurfaced beside two perfect
orange squares of carrot.
squares of carrot and the blue glow. The blue glow on the stove.
closed his eyes and set the spoon down in the soup. While both knees
fought collapse his right leg over-reacted, slamming its crown into
the shadowed glass of the oven door. Lightning bolts of pain arced
up his thigh and down his shin. The oven door rattled and Claren
backed away, staring at his feet.
tips of his shoes wavered.
the neck first, you know. You've been doing this for a while. It's
shook his head. He wouldn't cut her at the neck. He wouldn't cut
her at all. He couldn't. She could drown with her neck intact. She
didn't have to bleed to be silent.
glow flared, shining back from the chrome of the stove and the dark
glass window above the sink. Blue glow everywhere. Even off the
again, he caught it. He caught her.She
sat just behind him, her body and her chair glowing.
taped to the chair, legs taped to the chair, lips taped together.
Her hair spreading in dark snakes around her head.
didn't cut you," he whispered, backing into the apparition. His
knees disappeared into the pool of light that was her lap, the juxtaposition
of his flesh and the glow creasing with bent shadows. Her flared
nose hovered just inches from his elbow as she looked up at him,
her face straining and contorting to stretch the tape from her lips.
to move, Claren backed through the glow and to the edge of opposite
wall. She continued to stare up, up at the ceiling. Up and away,
as if he didn't stand there at her side. As if he hadn't been the
man who'd taped her to the chair and the weights and sent her to
the stinking mud of Rowlin Marsh.
didn't cut you," Claren repeated. The girl in the glow didn't acknowledge
to his knees, he pushed north through the kitchen. The cool vinyl
melted into coarse shag carpeting as he hit the dining room. No
lights burned, and thankfully, no blue glowed. Behind him the vaporous
shining ebbed. Cool dark flowed over his azure guilt.
gripped the carpet, squeezing the fibers between his fingers. They
burned, of course. Burned hot against skin recently cooled by marsh
water swallowing his daughter.
glow flamed, flamed with a tearing through the air. The tearing
of strip after strip of paper tape. Tape thatů
rubbed his head against the carpet, then raised his eyes to the
pushing and pulled at the chair until it contorted, it's arms stretched
out and the front legs reclining forward. Her mouth worked the membrane
of paper tape covering it free, freeing an iridescent stream of
blue bubbles to float up through the ceiling. Claren dropped his
face back to the carpet and the dark returned.
should have cut her. That's how you were taught. And she was going
to talk - she deserved it.
couldn't," he muttered, pushing a string of drool through his lips
onto the shag. His stomach rolled, bubbling acids setting a new
high water mark in his throat.
strength in his knees and convulsions in his throat, Claren broke
for the bathroom and the cool porcelain of the toilet.
glow met him, shining out from behind the shower door. Sapphire
octagons flooded the hazy glass and more bubbles rose up beside
the dark stub of the shower head.
turned and staggered out, heaving a stream of bile and fear across
the shadows of the hallway.
paper ripping, and a blue spot flamed cold behind a nearly closed
tearing came with the closet door shuddering, and the light nearly
burst from beneath it. Claren wiped the puke from his chin and staggered
back into the living room.
the television now, with her right arm free and clawing at the tape
manacle binding her left. Her mouth, broad and black, sent up a
continuous stream of blue bubbles.
the left wrist free, she bent over and yanked at her ankles. On
releasing her right leg, her body nearly floated free of the chair
and it's weight. Already she looked ready to aim for the surface
of the Marsh. The surface and the freedom.
daughter would walk again. Walk to him.
his back, Claren shook off the glow and set his eyes stony. He walked
through the girl in the living room and through the girl in the
kitchen; heading straight for the silverware drawer.
a twelve inch butcher knife, Claren turned in time to see her free
the last leg and float up, up through the ceiling. Darkness flooded
to papa, 'cause now I'll cut you," Claren whispered. "From the neck."
He felt his way towards the back door.
Michael at his website at NUKE
is Copyright 2000 by Michael T. Huyck Jr. and is published in feoamante.com/
Feo Amante's Story Time with his permission.