Welcome to the second annual flash fiction battle in which four brilliant independent horror authors will battle it out to be crowned the King or Queen of Horror, (well, Horror October at least).
For the past few weeks, four horror writers have been creating an original short story based on the theme you chose.
The winning theme was ‘Master of Cemeteries’.
The vote will open tomorrow at 09:00 (GMT) for you to pick your favourite, so look out for my post. I will crown the winner on Halloween!
Without further ado, here is the final entry…
Please do let us know what you think in the comments below. Will this story get your vote?
by Gabino Iglesias
“You look a little pale, Daniel,” said Frantz in his deep, rumbling voice. “This new task has you scared, man? If you wanna roll with us, you’re gonna see some weird stuff. And you’re gonna see a lot of blood. Either one bothers you, walk away now. I might forget about your face if you’re lucky.”
Daniel shook his head. Becoming a member of Zoe Pound was all he’d thought about since his older brother, Samuel, joined them at the age of fifteen. He wanted the money and the respect that came with being a member of the gang. He craved the brotherhood of other Haitians and Haitian-Americans. He dreamed about the power and women that would come his way if he didn’t mess up and did what he was told like a good soldier.
“I’m good, Frantz,” said Daniel, quickly making his way to the door. “Meeting the guy in a mausoleum is weird, but I’ve been in the streets long enough to see weirder. I’ll get you a new puppet tonight.”
Puppets. That’s what Frantz called the disposable bodies the bokor, the dark voodoo priest, got him for suicide missions. Daniel knew that getting a new one entailed killing a man and getting him into the hands of the bokor within a day. What he didn’t know was why he was getting this special task assigned to him after he’d botched a drug deal the previous week. Frantz had called it a rookie mistake, but the look in his eyes did not match the smile he shot at Daniel when he said id. In any case, Daniel was going to get in done. That would be a good start in terms of getting back on Frantz good side.
The victim had already been picked. The man was as predictable, loved his routine, and lived alone. Those were good things. They were also the things that were going to get him killed. Daniel knew he liked to park his car behind a local pizzeria before hitting the trails at a nearby park for his nightly run. It was a matter of waiting for him to show up. When he did, Daniel stepped out from behind a Dumpster, pressed his gun against the man’s temple, and made him get in the car and drive to Lincoln Memorial Cemetery in Brownsville, a huge, neglected place that also happened to be Florida’s most important primarily African-American graveyard.
There was a lot of shaking and offering on the drive there, but Daniel ignored all of it. This was a mission he would not screw up. The man at the wheel was already dead to him, nothing more than a throwaway sack of meat and bones.
The explanation Frantz had given Daniel was incredibly accurate. The newbie gangbanger kept his gun in his hoodie and made the man walk to mausoleum near the woods that backed up against the cemetery on the far left side without an issue other than the annoying crying and pleading the man was doing, not to mention he kept snorting snot into the back of his skull like a hog with the flu.
Waiting at the threshold of the dilapidated mausoleum was a wiry, light-skinned man wearing a sleeveless white shirt. His hands, arms, chest, and neck were covered in tattoos.
“You must be Daniel,” said the man.
“Yeah, you the bokor?”
“That’d be me, young blood.”
Daniel realized the man looked anywhere between 38 and 78 years old. His face sported lines that spoke of years under the sun, of hard living and strange nights, but his body looked young and powerful, almost like that of a swimmer or lightweight boxer.
“This the puppet?” the bokor asked, jutting his jaw at the sobbing man.
“Yeah,” replied Daniel.
“Get him inside and shoot him.”
The man screamed some unintelligible promises and supplications. Daniel grabbed him by the back of the neck and pushed him into the cool, moist, smelly darkness of the mausoleum.
Two bullets went into the man’s body, both close to where Daniel thought his heart should be. He dropped down and twitched twice.
“Nice work,” said the bokor from somewhere behind Daniel.
The cold, hard blade pressed against Daniel’s neck from the back.
“The ritual works better if you start it as the person is dying. It’s easier to trap their souls in their bodies for a while that way.”
Confusion and fear kept Daniel frozen. The sound the blade made as it sliced across his neck was as unexpected as the whole situation. It was somewhat of a crunch. The taste of his own blood came quickly, the warm liquid flowing down his chest.
Daniel turned around, lifted his gun, and shot the bokor in the chest, right below his right clavicle. A dark hole appeared where the bullet disappeared into his body, but no blood came. Daniel squeezed the trigger again, aiming higher this time. A second hole opened up in the bokor’s left cheek. The wound remained as dry as the one in his chest.
“Be happy Daniel, you accomplished your task tonight. In fact, you brought Frantz two puppets instead of one. I’m sure he will appreciate the gesture.”
The bokor’s laugh echoed inside the dark mausoleum as Daniel dropped to his knees, his muscles starting to lose their strength.
“Don’t despair, Daniel,” said the bokor. “Your brother asked me to make sure you could cross over as soon as your next job is done.”
Daniel couldn’t reply with a severed throat, so he closed his eyes and felt the tears roll down his face as cold darkness embraced him.
Meet the Author
Gabino Iglesias is a writer, journalist, and book reviewer living in Austin, TX.
He’s the author of ZERO SAINTS, HUNGRY DARKNESS, and GUTMOUTH. He is the book reviews editor for PANK Magazine, the TV/film editor for Entropy Magazine, and a columnist for LitReactor and CLASH Media. His reviews have appeared in Electric Literature, The Rumpus, 3AM Magazine, and many other print and online venues.
Gabino’s latest release is an anthology of crime stories inspired by the songs of Johnny Cash.
Amazon // Goodreads // Twitter
Check out the other entries:
Entry #1: Holding On by Sean Seebach
Entry #2: The Master of Cemeteries by Justin Bienvenue
Entry #3: In That Sleep of Death by Stephen Kozeniewski
The vote opens tomorrow!