Late-night shifts in a celestial graveyard – the gravestones are sunk into layers of star stuff. The wraiths drift along paths composed of nebulae, burning gas and color forced to consider order. Staff ask for cooperation when the supernova crypts threaten to redshift and take a galaxy of dead royalty with them. An unseen grave is still a grave and flowers should be placed in urns or vases close to the voids where families lie silent.
Waking up doubled and learning just how long it takes for two throats to fill up with blood by way of screaming (there’s another head, bulbous and slick, pulsing in agony and stitched just far enough away from your peripheral vision that you can almost ignore its thrashing.)
Gnarled and knotted over a cauldron, the mess within filling a dank cottage with steam and the scents of unfortunate travelers. A trio of glass phials swing from one wrist and clink against one another, almost covering the thin shrieks coming from their contents. The swamp outside groans in appreciation as another set of skeletons sinks to the bottom of murky bogs.
Wrapped in vines and sucked beneath an old-growth forest. Petals slide along skin to ensure freshness while roots slip past the ribs and tangle themselves in the heart. Great clans of spiders set up shop in drying joints, eager to fill the space with silk.
A double helix of teeth and bones, fire wreathing the sharpened points and golden waters spilling from cracks in gargantuan pelvises. The night sky is blotted out by a colossus (by an angel, the older ones whisper in the middle of panicked crowds.)
A man dripping eyes like a summer storm – sudden and bewildering, remembered by confused dogs. Grocery stores toss him out when they find the broccoli riddled with spinning baby blues. Each lost eye is another view of the world in his fractured sight, forever seeing shock, horror, and the skies above garbage dumps.
The shape of a fish and the feel of a failed vegetable garden – dry and wilting, because the summer’s been too long for ten years now and vultures stopped taking flight when their wings exploded in flame. There’s a covering of locusts in one corner, all of them buzzing and chittering hours after their legs were taken by the last pass of that great shadow on the horizon. A surviving caretaker says to ignore the foreboding thunder and green lightning, that this small patch of dirt’s seen its last tragedy.
It’d be easier to believe them if not for the skeletal protrusions studding their cheeks. But you tend the crop you have. Here that means dealing with teetering old corpses and weeds reaching for the dark, throbbing lungs hidden beneath the garden’s metal and empty seeds.
A wailing moon, the sight of which sends all men screaming to their beds. Flocks of birds flying across its rounded profile freeze, stuck to the sky by its light. In its mirrored surface the nightmares of all good people come to life and stalk the forested hills. Streets are washed in blood and buildings fall down, their foundations refusing composure.
The downside is visibility on just one night of a thousand year orbit and stardust shackles encircling its spires.
Composed of sand and scouring the throats of any voice foolish enough to comment on the folly of using particulate matter to form a body; walking through the city streets and carrying the bitter chill of a desert night while summer attempts to warm non-existent bones; killing the sixth bouquet of roses sent by an admirer from across the hall and filling their mailbox downstairs with scorpions.
An automaton with ink in its veins and quills where fingers should be, all attached to a brain that took its evolutionary notes from a library blueprint. Able to copy Ulysses in two hours, given enough paper and a steady supply of whiskey. When asked for alternative word suggestions, its mouth opens up and swallows the questioner whole (there’s a thesaurus in the dimensional rift caught in its stomach. A pleasant energy keeps it updated.)
Layered in tongues, each twisting and lurching from an ecstatic overload. Flavors beyond mortal comprehension slide across their flesh (a three-foot long lump of what look like inverted mushroom caps shudder and squeal in heady delight.)
A pumpkin, vast and looming over the dry fields of a small town on the edge of memory. No one gathers to look on its strange husk or brush away the segmented worm cocooned to the stem. They stopped planting, stopped watering, stopped looking down and promised their eyes to thin, curling clouds. Things went wrong soon after and now they shamble through windblown alleys, mouths leaking mist and eyes long since stolen. The pumpkin grew in the midst of the screaming, got fat and thick on blood in the air. Its vines creep over sidewalks and up front steps, ending in fibrous masses of tissue that still moan on full moons.
Formed from bone meal, the stuff left in hundred-year-old graves and a lonely grandfather’s kitchen cabinets. Every movement leaves a trail of dead sand and each dry word begs further explanation, with those who stick around for longer than five minutes finding blood leaking from their soles.
The strange movements of beer seen through brown glass and even then, only for a second. But you’re sure the undulations were a trick of the light and put them out of your mind as you leave the bar. Your dreams that night are haunted, full of dark waters and bubbling whispers. A glass of orange juice the next morning asks you if you’ve ever experienced the majesty of wet lungs. The mailman delivers a letter full of scales. Your spouse hands you a pair of bloody fins and disappears into the upstairs tub.
Elizabeth is a writer from Massachusetts. She can be found regularly screaming or writing snippets of fiction on Twitter.