Ghosts in this machine

And that talk of veins glowing in the dark.
The ghosts of others inside your heart.
It slides on through into your brain.
That allows this trauma to begin again.

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YOUR EYES WILL BE OPENED

It wasn’t so much that the dark frightened him, the shadows suited him well; casting a cloak for his deeds in the middle of the night. It was just that, the darkness heightened what he already felt inside, desertion and loneliness.

The small town nestled at the bottom of the valley, cupped neatly in the hand of the dark hills that surrounded the collection of houses and farmsteads. The hills were high and the weather was dreary, casting a perpetual gloom over the small town. The lights burned away from inside the cottages, flickering eyes in the darkened face of a place mostly ignored from the rest of the world. The occasional dog would be heard barking out into the night, disturbed by the nocturnal animals which snuffled around the market place looking for vegetables and food cast aside from the day.

Andrew usually waited until around ten o’clock to leave his house. The locals were mostly tucked up inside their own homes by then, and he found he could prowl the streets with ease. Tonight, he hadn’t heard any dogs barking. Not a leaf rustled or car rolled past. Even the full moon, which burned brightly above him, could stir up the restless of the townsfolk or awaken the crazies. All aside Andrew, a fact that was lost on him as he unlatched the gate of Yew tree cottage and slithered up the path, keeping in the shadows.

He’d been here before of course, he’d been to nearly most of the houses in the village after dark. But he liked Yew tree, he was always guaranteed what he wanted when he came. He felt tonight would be no different. His stomach fluttered thinking about it as his found his way around the side of the house where the rubbish bins were kept. He hoisted himself up onto one of them, the one marked specifically for garden waste, a few stray twigs reaching out of the lid like fingers. His trainers squeaked slightly as the slipped on the plastic and he held his breathe in an effort to quieten himself.

They were both there when he looked up. He didn’t have to crane his neck at all, his raised view let him gaze easily into the top window of the small cottage which seemed to lean over to one side. They were usually in bed, Mr and Mrs Sampson. The elderly pair would usually turn in around nine o’clock, sat up reading books as the night-time swirled outside their single glazed window. Andrew couldn’t make out the title that Mr Sampson was reading, he sat further away and the words were too small, but he could see Mrs Sampson was enjoying ‘The Pale Horse’ by Agatha Christie.

The room looked cosy, the lights on the night stands they each had cast a comforting glow around them which seemed to hug their old bodies. Andrew watched as Mrs Sampson nestled closer to her husband, riding down a bit lower in the bed. Turning the page of her novel.

Usually Andrew would watch a bit longer, observe them closely as they hung in his eye line like creatures in a zoo. But tonight something within him stirred strong and he was eager to start. He pulled across the bag he’d been carrying, and pushed aside the hair which had fallen over his eyes as he turned. His keys inside jostled noisily, and he silenced them quickly, reaching in to retrieve the smaller clear bags. Two tonight. It was always two at Yew Tree.

Inside each bag was a small baby white rabbit, each beginning to stir now as the effects of the ketamine were wearing off. The bags had holes in them, allowing the small creatures to breathe but as he handled them carefully out of the bags, they felt limp and lifeless in his hands like small softs bags of bones. He stroked one of the small rabbits with his chin, lifting the tiny creature up to his face. He could smell the warm musky smell of the hutch he had his garden. He closed his eyes for a moment and pictured the other bunnies, nested under their mother. Warm, safe and content.  The one in his other hand jerked suddenly and Andrew nearly let go of it. The muscles beginning to spasm back to life.
He must be quick.

He placed his phone carefully down by his feet as he crouched now on the bin, the two rabbits in each hand. He had their number of course, it wasn’t his first time. He hit the button of his phone which glared alarming out in the inky dullness of the night. The line connected. He heard the ring through his phone, and then moments later her head the returning sound coming from the Sampson’s house. He watched Mrs. Sampson look across alarmed to the phone. Her old fashioned sensibility on edge as she knew no good news came at such hours.

Andrew watched her reach across and lift the receiver, the copy of the Pale horse nestled now on the bedsheet between her and her husband who craned over to hear who the caller might be. This is when he had to be quick, this is when Andrew had to be focused. He held the two bunnies in his hand and waited, waited for the sound through the line in his phone and echoing above him through the window disappearing off into the night.

“Hello…’’ came the timid voice of Mrs Sampson, and that is when he began to squeeze. The more lively rabbit jerked frantically, but Andrew drew his thumb up into its neck and pressed harder. He could hear the old woman now, repeating her answer and he watched as her husband leaned over to listen down the line as if expecting his involvement could produce a response. Andrew stayed silent, slowly squeezing the life out of the animals he held in his grip like hands on a railing. His body shivered, a sense of connection travelling up and down his muscles as they tingled with every feeling of disappearance he craved.

And then suddenly, it was all over. He watched as Mr Sampson reached over and hang up the phone. Speaking hurriedly to his wife who seemed alarmed and confused by the intrusion to their evening. Andrew came back to where he was, the tunnel disappearing and the mist evaporating. He placed one of the creatures back into his bag, wrapped carefully in the small plastic baggy. He then hopped off of the dustbin and walked a few steps to the side door of the cottage. He lay the other dead animal on the mat by the door, it’s head flopping first to the floor as it’s small eyes gleamed up like a dolls. It had been the more restless of the two and Andrew stepped back and admired it there on the mat, forging it in his mind for the moment just as it started to rain. He then turned and left quickly, but just as silently as arriving, getting back at his house in less than ten minutes. He hurried quickly to bed, not changing out of his clothes, brushing his teeth or washing his hands; anxious to get to sleep. He did have school in the morning after all.

YOUR EYES WILL BE BURNED

Amazing shadows

Blink the dark and silence the nightingale.
Two turns on that apology.
Cut the veins of the ghosts and watch them bleed.
Where did you go?
What is that running down your face?
Claustrophobic thoughts of freedom.
Suffocate lungs all drenched in oil.
Such luminous reflections tiptoe across your eyes.
We measure the umbrage that dapples our fears.
From the tree we wish to burn.
Amazing shadows, holding hands into tomorrow.
Making us strangers again.

Chasing shadows

And they came in the night.
Dripping off of nightmares and fears carved in rock.
Slithered out from under my tongue.
They cracked your vertebrae and dusted our world with the pieces.
Those shadows of things.
Unspoken ideas that click and tumble around your skull.
The world unhooked the latch, and blocked out the stars.
Heaved into a silent supernova which bubbled in my soul.
Flick the charcoal from your fingertips.
Smear my brain with the sooty powder of the shadow you inhaled.
The yokey adjuster that they installed in our eyelids.
Click and turn like a wheel of bones.
Yet they drape our world in festive garbs of black.
Cutting velvet cakes in half, filled with dark oily dirt.
Escaping the shadows, cupping them like butterflies in your hand.
You may feel safe, but it doesn’t make it so. The shadows know.
They feed off us, the plentiful.
Like wedding guests at a buffet.
Greedily feeding and flashing false smiles.
Letting the wolves in the backdoor.
Staining shadows.
Stealing honey from the moon.

Little Black Horn

 

Little black horn, weathered and worn; wondering about what to do.
He split the world and climbed inside, and out of hell he peaked on through.  

Little Black Horn: A Collection of Short Horror Stories:-

‘A woman struggles to hide the truth from a creature she believes to be her lover; a man journeys to Southern Italy in search of a witch; a child makes a pact with a voice he hears at the bottom of his garden.

From adult fairy-tales to suburban horror; dark intentions seep through this collection of tales from the imagination of Harley Holland.’

Buy the work in paperback or on kindle here: Little Black Horn

Check out Harley Holland also

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(Half)Empty/Full

A Wounded heart, dying in decompression,
A heart that beats, formed by the cells of God.
This loneliness covers me like a crypt.
A quiet sanctuary for the seeker of stillness.
Blood on my hands and guilt through my bones.
A lesson learned in the guise of judgmental tones.
Tears run like a river of lost moments, damming me into distress.
Tears that rip and free the waves of elation, washing all over me.
Death.
Life.
A bitter end to a dying wounded bird.
Who soared higher than all the others in the sky.

There’s nothing wrong here

I wore the role you wanted.
Dressed in those emotions.
Let it drip like turpentine.
You showed me your Jesus scar.
As I cut through the confusion.
You leave me buzzing like a motel sign.
Only you could scratch me that deep.
Rush through me like amphetamines.
What did they say when you returned?
Did you make it feel so numb?
Feasting on cartilage and present tense.
Yet the dark offered such shelter and shadows.
To call you back to another brilliant night.
Where you looked ahead, seeing us there.
Stepping over the bodies of others.
Look me in the eye, celebrate me deep.
They all wanted to be wrong.
Singing their symphony of sorrow for a loss that had not yet begun.
Bone and cheek.
Questioning our mortality as you trim the fat.
All conquering weirdos.
Destroying the things they never understood.

Contract & construct

That reason we all had for being there.
Through shared DNA and the tears of Jesus.
Waiting for the smoke to clear and the dust to settle.
Yet deep inside a fire burns.
Turning all to ashes and cleansing from within.
Who do you ask forgiveness off?
As you hand across a world that is riddled with pain.
What did you blame as you clung to indifference?
When the world darkened as black as the night.
But do not drown in this consequence.
Or be blown away in this havoc.
It maybe all borrowed time, but it’s ours to own.
And the rest is still unwritten.

An interior rhythm

How to rise, when you’re broken.
Like lofty branches that scratch the sky.
Down here on the forest floor, tangled with the roots.
I feel collapsed. I feel free.
I want to tear it apart.
I had to burn it down.
Pick the thorns out of my bark, the chattel from my teeth.
Swaying with the world now. Rising on its axis.
I swing to a new realm, on the pendulous heartbeat of tomorrow.
I allowed myself to fall apart.
Welcoming the termites of time. Destroying all I had.
Whilst watching the watchers in the wings.
Birds who fly with nightshade plumage.
Cluck their tongues and talk of responsibilities.
Laying eggs for a farmer who will devour their friends.
You don’t know what it’s like. You don’t know what I grew through.
Such hard terrain and unholy winters. Sprouting to my own spring chorus.
You don’t know me, how could you?
I don’t even know myself.

Colour my direction

Dreams, again complicating my life.
They swing their megaphone and make me no longer breathe.
Diving deep, fill my lungs in my chest as they weigh heavy.
Underwater, and the unsettling sound of silence.
Swimming in the dark, where no-one will see if I drown.
They force me to murmur out a sound. An action.
A sleep twitch.
Taking off with little beats. Like coloured balls escaping.
A Personal pilgrimage to land in your lap.
Hold me in your crossed arms, talk to me of the Passion.
Your passion.
Fade into my hue and join me. Linked in gravity.
Seeking rainbows, as I carry the weight of my world.
Imitating life. We have it all.

Hold on to me

You’re the one who comes between us.
Coughing out your IQ, slipping your hand behind the couch of the night.
Leaving me always chocking on your haemoglobin.
Shooting to the sky, and yet careful not to fall.
My eyes are wide, yet they scarcely see you.
The black of loneliness that you leave me with. Weightless and bare.
In the dark, it all looks the same; until you set me on fire.
Warming your hands until I burn to a spark.
Killing me before I get too old.
These words from you are too vulgar, yet I say thank you.
Breathing them in and setting up homes for them inside of me.
Precious fragile fragments of attention.
Your racing heart surprises me, and brings me back; brings me down.
Simmering into something else.
I come back to you in pieces.
Littering your soul.
I know you want to stop.

Black matted fur

This feeling is gaining momentum, speeding like a bullet train I want to derail.
Don’t talk to me world in Japanese.
Last night, there was everything and nothing.
Trickling down before the avalanche.
I want to dig you out, I want to hold you up. I want to disappear into you in a moment and come out blessed.
Covered then uncovered.
Wearing a crown.
But the truth is most disturbing, it horrifies me.
Out of the dark, from the shadows that sweep and seduce, the creature came.
It carries you away.
Last night I saw you weep, and I could do nothing.
Out of your window, I see the poles being hoisted.
The trunk of the tree they are using to support the scaffolding groans in the night.
The darkness masks their deeds.
An untimely but justly death, my body will swing before dawn.
The creature has dropped you now; your blood was too sweet for it.
Its mouth is dripping with your past, blood smeared with virginal innocence.
How could this take place and I still be breathing?
I offer the creature my skull, it smashes down into blackness.