I dreamed it, and now it’s mine... The vile thing cries out from under the bed, demanding to be fed when I nurse Mikey. I try to ignore it, but I’m its mother, and I can’t. I can’t! Lord knows I’ve tried. Its garbled screeching affects me every bit as much as Mikey’s soft cries. I can’t deny it substance. So, I gather its scaly body to my breast, hot pain piercing my nipple as its teeth sink in, and it feeds, first on my milk, then my blood. # It’s growing much faster than Mikey, barely two weeks old and already crawling. How long before it walks? How long before it climbs unaided into bed with me? How long before it can clamber up the side of Mikey’s crib? Before I grow too weak from blood loss, I have to kill it. # I have the knife in my hand. I can do this. Freshly fed, stomach full of my milk and blood, it’s sleeping in its dark nest under my bed. Now is the time. I hunker to my knees, raise the knife, and slowly lift the dust ruffle. The ugly, lumpy thing lies on its side facing me. Its long pink tail curled over its eyes tells me it is sleeping. Mikey whimpers. I glance over my shoulder, lay a finger over my lips, “Shh," then turn back to my other son— And see a dark blur of movement, angry red eyes, and a huge, suckered mouth full of needle teeth. Then pain—oh god, the pain—and darkness as those teeth close over my face. And rip. ©2021 KT Workman
Martin took the squirming bundle from Mrs. Kenny and balanced it on top of the others in his wagon. It was a good thing that this was the last house on his route since his wagon was full, overfull in fact. He would have to go easy to keep from losing any of his cargo.
“Thank you, dear,” the old woman said, ruffling his hair. “I have something else for you…hold on.” She hobbled back inside, emerging moments later holding out two cookies. “They’re chocolate chip, except there’re no chips. I ran out, and well, you know…”
Yes, Martin knew—when the town’s supply of something ran out, if they couldn’t make or grow it, there’d be no more. “I’m sure they’re fine, ma’am.”
“Take one home to your little brother,” she said.
“I will, ma’am. And thank you.” He slipped the cookies into his shirt pocket. “I’d best be getting on, not long till dark.”
“You do that, Martin. And be careful.” Continue reading Cargo
Part three of three…
When I stepped into the house after returning the handsaw, a bolt of pain stabbed my lower belly. I crammed the hurt into that dark, crowded place deep inside that Mama couldn’t see, and tended to Sissy. I stripped the smelly clothes from her body, washed her as best I could, then pulled her favorite pink nightgown over her head, all the while talking slowly and softly. I knew she heard me. She stood when I told her to, held up her hands when I said so, but not one word passed her white lips.
Meanwhile, Mama fed thin slats of wood into the cookstove until the thing danced with heat. Sweat ran down her face and soaked the white collar of her dress, turning it pink.
“Put your sister to bed,” she said over her shoulder. “Then come get yourself cleaned up.”
I led Sissy into the little room off the kitchen, and tucked her into the bed we shared. “I’ll be back soon.” No answer from my sister. She rolled over and faced the wall, and I knew if I had looked, her eyes would still be open. “Everything’s gonna be all right. You’re just having a bad dream, and when you wake up in the morning, you won’t even remember it. Just a dream, that’s all.”
“Clara!” Mama yelled.
I wanted nothing more than to crawl into the bed next to Sissy and sleep for days. I was worn out, and my belly hurt real bad. Instead, I patted her shoulder and walked back out into the nightmare. Continue reading Pearls Before Swine / Part Three
Part two of three…
“What’s going on here?” Mama said, running her hand over Sissy’s fat belly.
Sissy shrugged her shoulders. “I et too much, I reckon.”
“Don’t sass me, gal.” The back of Mama’s hand cracked across my sister’s face. The blow had a lot of power behind it, knocked Sissy on her butt.
“I’m sorry, Mama.” Sissy cupped her red cheek. “I won’t do it no more.” There hadn’t been any sass in Sissy’s words, but she knew better than to go against Mama. I did too. Since Daddy’d died, Mama had gotten mean and hateful.
“Now I’m gonna ask you one more time—who did this to you?”
Tears trickled down Sissy’s cheeks. She trembled. “I…I don’t know wh…what you mean.”
Mama planted her fists on her ample hips. She looked down at Sissy and shook her head. “Are you that ignorant…you really don’t know?”
Sissy said nothing, just sat on the floor with her head bent, wisps of corn-silk hair sticking to her wet face.
“Get up,” Mama ordered.
Sissy bolted to her feet, a mess of scared-shakes and sniffles.
“You’re pregnant, got a baby in your belly,” Mama said. “Now what I wanna know is what boy put his pecker inside you and got you that way.” Continue reading Pearls Before Swine / Part Two
Part one of three…
I woke in the dark to squeals and yells and thumps and bangs. From somewhere inside the house, Daddy rattled off a string of cuss words, then hollered: “Get the shotgun, Lizzy, something’s got in with the hogs!”
The awfulest commotion was going on outside. It sounded like every pig on the place was pitching a holy fit.
“What is it, Clara?” Sissy asked.
“I don’t know…” I turned back the covers.
She grabbed my arm. “Where’re you going?”
“To see what all the racket’s about.”
Sissy’s fingers dug deeper. “What if it’s the boogeyman?”
I pulled my arm away. “There ain’t no such thing, and you know it.”
My feet hit the floor, and I made a beeline for the slash of light knifing in underneath the closed door, Sissy’s night-breath a hot prickle on the back of my neck. My fingers curled around the doorknob, twisted and pushed.
Light blazed from the 100-watt bulb dangling on the end of the thick, black wire snaking down from the kitchen ceiling, briefly catching Mama and Daddy as they rushed out the back door. I chased after them, Sissy on my heels.
The lantern held high in one hand, the tail of her nightgown in the other, Mama ran neck and neck with Daddy across the back yard and through the gate.
Dewey appeared inside the bouncing circle of light. Mama let out a startled “Oh!” and Daddy a “Jesus Christ!” and we all skidded to a stop.
“Don’t you be going down there, Mr. Primrose,” Dewey said, his eyes all big and wild looking. His oily brown hair stuck out this way and that. Only one gallous of his overalls was fastened; the other flopped down over his scrawny belly. “It’s dangerous. There’s demons loose tonight.” Continue reading Pearls Before Swine