WRAPPED IN BLACK
Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult
Sekhmet Press is excited to announce that Wrapped In Black contributor
has been named the
2014 Masters of Macabre Winner
INTO THE LIGHT
by Solomon Archer
Elliot thought back to when it all started, before the gatherings became ceremonies. Before the rituals demanded sacrifices. Before his gift became a nightmare. Before his life became Mother’s.
Back then, he thought, as if the world before the coven had been simpler. Sundown meant heading home to set the table for dinner, pedaling his Schwinn as fast as he could. Back then, he responded “treasure hunting pirate astronaut” to any adult who inquired what he wanted to be when he grew up. He wasn’t a sullen eighteen-year-old who lived with his single mother on a dead farm, in a state where the only excitement came in the form of questionably regulated rides at the county fair or an occasional late summer hailstorm. Back then, he had a family and a life. He had a father and friends and all of suburban Newton Highlands as his playground.
But most importantly, he didn’t stay up until dawn, sweat-soaked and panicky with his heart in his throat, listening for the sounds of creatures stirring in the fields outside his window. Or hold his breath when they stopped.
Then, sixteen months ago, he met Deacon.
It had been a Saturday in mid-April, and rather than spend the day turning his dead grandparents’ former dream home into his own Midwest nightmare, unpacking the moving boxes that doubled as cardboard furniture, Elliot opted instead to explore the deserted back roads of Delphos, far from the disappointed stare of his mother. He rarely needed to use more than three or four gears on his bike in the flat expanse of Ottawa County, but that was more than enough to generate a welcome rush of spring wind through his hair. He had just passed the county line ten miles from his house, enjoying the solitude and peace, when he struck the pothole.
He hadn’t been watching the road, so he never saw it coming. The front tire dropped into the depression, pitching him over the handlebars. He stiffened reflexively as the ground rushed up to meet him, and hit the road with both hands. The road tore into his shoulder, elbow, back, and legs as he landed hard. He writhed in pain, moaning and cursing at dozens of scrapes, cuts, and tears that had suddenly erupted all over his body.
He sat up slowly, turning his left hand over in his lap and wincing at what was undoubtedly a sprained wrist. The asphalt had shredded the meat of his palms and the pebbles, dirt, and debris burrowed into his skin like powdered acid. A midline scar on his right hand, the result of a playground accident when he was ten, was lost in a map of angry red cuts.
He gingerly took the cell phone out of his back pocket. The screen was cracked, and dark. His bike lay on its side like mechanical road kill, the disengaged chain dangling from the crankshaft like a metal intestine.
Favoring his left leg, Elliot got to his feet, picked up his bike and steadied himself on it as he walked it back in the direction of town. The front tire wobbled on its warped rim and Elliot had to coax it along like a wounded pack animal. It was over half an hour before he spied a vehicle on the watery horizon. It crossed the center line and slowed to a crawl, stopping only a few feet in front of him. The muffler offered a low chuckle and shook impatiently as if it were attached to a sleek classic muscle car rather than a mid-70s Lincoln Continental. The dark brown finish was faded, its exterior coated in dust. Though the do-it-yourself window tinting was pale and bubbled, Elliot couldn’t make out the driver.
He gave the car a wide berth as he walked past, when the window rolled down and a gaunt man with a shock of fluffy white hair leaned across the passenger seat.
“Looks like you’ve had quite a scrape.” The driver’s voice was deep and raspy, belying a lifetime of cigarette addiction if not throat cancer.
“Yeah,” Elliot replied, an automatic response. “Just a little scrape, no big deal.”
“Would you like a ride?”
Elliot tensed. “No. Thanks, really. I’ll be fine.”
The man’s gaze fell on the ruined tire and dragging chain, glided over Elliot’s legs, wandered past the abrasions on his hips and elbows, and came to rest on the blood-soaked handlebar Elliot clutched in a vise-like grip. He shook his head slowly, deliberately.
“And you’re planning on walking back to town?” The driver’s voice had a pitying, amused quality. “How long do you think that will take? Two hours? Three maybe?”
Read the entire story in
WRAPPED IN BLACK: Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult
RELEASE DATE: October 18, 2014
Solomon Archer is the 2014 Masters of the Macbre winner for his short story SURFACE TENSION. A criminal psychologist by day and writer by night, Archer is currently the Chief Psychologist of the XXXXXXX State Department of Corrections. He spends much of his time working with serious and dangerously mentally ill offenders, some of whom are not so disorganized that they couldn’t figure out a way to free themselves from their restraints and stab him in the head with an altered food tray. (Incidentally, the going rate for shanking a psychologist is two pounds of coffee and three bags of Top tobacco. You know, just in case you were curious).
Archer’s short stories have appeared in Wrapped In White: Thirteen Tales of Spectres, Ghosts, and Spirits and the new Wrapped In Black: Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult. His book PSYKU: A Work of Forensic Prose will release later this year by Sekhmet Press. Follow the lives of criminal offenders, as distilled into 17-syllable snapshots of dark humor and morose commentary, by a forensic psychologist with a Disciple Complex and a rampant case of cynicism.
You can find Archer here: http://psykubook.wordpress.com/
and here: https://www.facebook.com/psykuofficial