The Visitors

by Dustin Pellegrini

The visitors came dressed for darkness.

Alfred watched from his bedroom window as they shuffled up the drive. If the moon hadn’t been so clouded over, he’d have sworn they were shadows.

Alfred and his mother lived alone out in the country, their nearest neighbors only swamps and trees. Their last visitor, the Dr., left only a few days before and they weren’t expecting anyone else. Yet here they came all the same.

They were getting closer.

Alfred saw now that each of them carried something, swung it as they walked. He picked out the head of a hammer, bigger than his own. The point of a pick, ragged from dirt and rocks. And there, in the faintest shard of moonlight, the glint of a shovel’s face.

He got up onto his step stool to follow them through the window. They were only a few steps from the front door now, he had to warn his mother.

DOCK

DOCK

Alfred pictured the shovel banging against the door. Could they pry it open?

DOCK

DOCK

He ran to his bedroom door, ready to shout for his mother, don’t let them in.

DOCK

DO-

Too late.

His mother let out a cry, wailing like he had never heard. He braced himself against his door, slowed his breath.

What could he do? There was no one to help, no one to call. Alfred slipped to the floor, tried to come up with a plan.

With his ear to the wood, he heard the tools crash downstairs. He heard the hammer drive nails that must have been longer than his fingers. Outside, he heard the pick and the shovel bite into fresh earth. And between every swing, his mother cried out with fresh howls of pain.

Seconds.

Minutes.

Alfred chewed through his lip and tried to shut out the sounds as his mother’s sobs grew weak.

When he could take no more, he ripped the door open and flung himself down the stairs, his eyes shut at the terror of finding his mother in pain.

The house was empty, but the front door stood open.

Alfred hurried outside and there his mother stood. There they all stood, forming a circle in the yard. The tools lay quiet on the grass and his mother shook as one of the visitors spoke under his breath.

Alfred approached, took his place next to his mother, and saw her pain.

There, in the fresh wooden box, in a freshly dug hole, he saw himself. His arms crossed, his eyes closed. Alfred watched his mother pass one last kiss from her lips to his, then took her hand as the men shut up the box and reached for their tools.


Dustin Pellegrini is a writer living in Chicago. He studied Creative Writing at Columbia College Chicago, has had his work read at Chicago’s Story Week Festival and currently works at a nonprofit. You can find more of his writing at dustinpellegrini.com

Punishments

by Tony Sakalauskas

The dark wooden door opened to allow the first of the three prisoners to enter the room. Three judges, two men and a woman, draped in black robes, were waiting for him.

The man wore an orange prisoner suit beneath his long brown hair. He had indistinct tattoos darkening his neck. He hadn’t shaved for two days.

The male judge, in the middle, seated behind the long table, shuffled some papers and spoke.

“It says here, from your personality tests, that you don’t like to read. Is that true?”

“Yes, your honor. I never read a book in my life.”

“Okay. It also says that you hated school. Is that true?”

“Yes, your honor. I dropped out in junior high.”

“Okay then. Here is your punishment. You will have to read a couple of dozen school books. Books such as: history, geography, biology and so forth. You’ll read them in jail. After you have read these books, you will be tested on them. Only when you pass the tests, will you be free. You may leave.”

The second prisoner appeared before the judge. Like the guy before him he had long brown hair and some matching brown facial hair. He also had some tattoos marking his neck that you couldn’t make out.

Once again it was the middle male judge who was doing all the talking.

“Your personality tests show that you like listening to Country and Western music. Is that true?”

“Yes, your honor. It’s all I listen to.”

“And that you hate heavy metal music. Is this also true?”

“Yes, your honor.”

“For your punishment, you will be given about two dozen heavy metal compact discs to listen to in your jail cell. You will learn the names of all the bands, the names of their albums, the names of their songs and the lyrics. You will be tested. When you answer all the questions, you will be set free. You may leave.”

The third prisoner appeared before the three judges. He was a clean cut kid with short blond hair and a clean shaven face. He wore silver-rimmed glasses. His neck did not display any tattoos. Even is posture was different; he stood more erect.

“Your personality tests show that you like to read,” said the middle judge. “That you’re a bookworm. Is that true?”

“Yes, your honor.”

“And that you hate boredom. Is that also true?’

“Yes, your honor.”

“The tests also show you to be an intelligent person, a law-abiding citizen. Why would you be involved in a break and enter with these other two prisoners who were here before us?’

“I just moved to the city and didn’t know anyone,” said the third prisoner. “All three of us live in the same apartment building. And um… I don’t make friends easily.”

“I see,” said the judge.

“For your punishment, you will not be allowed to read books or magazines or any other reading material. Also, you will not be allowed to watch television, or listen to the radio or to be on the computer.”

“But your honor, if I can’t do those things I’ll be bored to death. I’ll go crazy.”

“That’s the idea,” said the judge. “That’s your punishment, boredom. We had a difficult time thinking of a suitable time period for your sentence. So, we came up with this. When your so-called friends finish their sentences, you will be finished yours. You may leave.”


Tony is a 63-year-old Canadian from the city of Halifax, on the east coast of Canada. Follow him on Twitter @TonySakalauskas

Three Weeks

by C. Joy

Teresa stumbled, the underbrush grasping her feet as she plunged towards the shore. The sound of breaking waves roared nearby. The island was caught in the last rays of daylight, and she quietly begged the sun to have mercy for a few minutes longer. A lone howl made her cast a fearful glance behind her. They were already looking.

Jerkily, she clambered over the slippery, moss covered rocks. Surviving on worms, beetles and little sleep made her muscles scream. Her breath was uneven, coming in short gasps and grunts. The sharp rocks cut her hands, but she ignored the pain, terror pressing her on. A misstep sent her sliding down a large boulder, leaving a crimson trail along the jagged surface and sea green moss. She screamed in frustration, climbing back up. The darkening night air filled with howls and moans, making her skin prickle. The last place she had found solace still lay a hundred yards away.

The yacht lay sideways in a shallow pool. It drifted lifeless, each wave mocking its inability to free itself. Finally, last of the sun disappeared, leaving her to blindly stumble across the uneven rocks. The air was thick, borderline electric. A distant rumble of thunder joined a brilliant burst of lightning.

A storm was coming. Even the stars had hid from the horrors to come.

He mentioned the island on their first date. His story fascinated her, but so had his bright blue eyes. The horrifying tale of an insane asylum on a deserted island, home to the worst and most terrifying , the blight of society. Church leaders and psychiatrist argued between mental illness or demonic possession, he scoffed. Fearing the latter, the Lady Sovereign of the Ursuline Convent was consulted. Soon, fourteen seasoned nuns arrived to manage and care for the asylum.

In theory, it was perfect. The ultimate humanitarians caring for the morally and mentally deranged. They were horribly wrong. Indiscernible scrawls and terrifying images covered every wall and ceiling. Notes were found, detailing futile exorcisms, patients vomiting nails, blood running down the walls, and concerns of a heavy presence of evil.

Nobody survived.

She had listened, scared and enthralled. A small graveyard bordered the convent and asylum, tombstones dated older than both. Years after they closed the asylum, it was there that they’d found the nuns bodies. Chained, nailed, and burned, they were found in various, ritualistic forms of torment, evidence of the evil residing within.

Three weeks ago. Their third date. Out of the blue, he’d suggested a quick sail. Once on the water, he asked if she wanted to see the island. She should have said no.

The sky lit with a deafening peal of thunder. In that brief second, glimpsing an incoming swell, she noticed the waves increasing size and intensity. Panic kicked her sleep deprived brain. Desperately, her round eyes picked a path to the yacht. Glancing behind her, she realized it was impossible to go back as the rocks had been swallowed by the growing waves. And the yacht was dancing in a deepening pool, threatened to break free. She could see a sliver of grass just beyond the yacht. Ribbons of a sand dune crest connecting the rocky shore and the island. The island she was running from.

The sky bellowed with another flash of lightning. In that second, everything changed. A wail escaped her, hope splintering around her. It was the flash of the emblem on the broken hull that caused her to cry out. She had hoped, prayed that he’d escaped. And would return to rescue her. That this was a different yacht she’d stumbled on three long days ago. Waves crashed around her, breaking her trance as the sinking realization overcame her. She would never leave this island. Sobbing, she debated letting go, letting the sea claim her.

But she didn’t.

Tired, weak, shoeless, with her shredded shirt and shorts barely covering the countless bloodied crosses she had cut onto her skin, she climbed past the broken yacht toward the grass and sand. Teresa de Meo, a forbidden descendant of Father Gabrielle de Meo, stood and faced the island of Evil.

Howling wind and sharp needles of rain began to sting her cheeks. Black, wet tendrils of hair whipped her face. Taking a long ragged breath, she began to grasp that this night had been set in motion an eternity before. Destiny had patiently waited, until a man with bright blue eyes and a story like a sirens song lulled her here. Her great-great-grandfather, Father de Meo was a powerful, righteous man. His blood, forged centuries before, was destined to war against the evil Blackness throughout the ages. This blood of triumph and loss mingled with the insatiable need for eternal vengeance, carried for centuries, now stirred within her.

The hair on the back of her neck rose in response to the howls and moans closing in. Her fingers, wet with blood, curled around the silver crucifix in her pocket. One night, as she scoured the island for relief from the night terrors, she had found the crucifix clutched in the hand of a nuns corpse, still chained upside down on the cemetery gate.

She’d been here three weeks. Twenty one days. She had lost four days of memory, and almost her mind to the taunting voices in the asylum. She’d fled to the abandoned convent seeking refuge. Instead, fourteen angry souls tormented her, their work interrupted and unfinished. She spent nights running and hiding in crags, holes and trees, caught in an ageless war between the righteous dead and spirits of darkness, a war no mortal could survive. She knew victory wasn’t promised, but neither was defeat. Gingerly, she made her way up the path.

He was waiting at the gate. She clasped her trembling hands, the crucifix tightly hid within. Small sobs of fear threatened to overtake her.

“Good Evening, Teresa. We’ve been waiting for you,” he whispered, his blue eyes dancing.


Living in the middle cornfields and an occasional burst of trees, C. Joy calls the Midwest home. Writing for fun, but dreaming to hit it big.