The only sounds in the night were his feet thumping the pavement and his breath coming hard and heavy. Somewhere behind him, he could hear the roar of the truck’s engine and Michael knew he had to get off the streets. The muscles in his legs were burning. They were hooting and hollering just behind him, but he could see a refuge of sorts. There was a park ahead. Well, it wasn’t a park, really. It was one of the old battlefields, but they wouldn’t drive into it and he could probably find somewhere to hide. He was fifty feet inside the bounds of the battlefield when he heard a voice.
“Come on, boy! Get past the line and we’ll cover you.”
Looking up, he saw a line of men in dark blue uniforms with rifles held on the level. He froze for a moment and one of them stepped forward, waving him on.
“Don’t just stand there. I can hear them Rebs coming. They sure were hot on your heels.”
“Y-yeah. Yeah, they were.”
Michael didn’t know what to say, all he knew was that he wasn’t going to look a gift ghost in the mouth. Especially not one that was going to protect him. He dove behind the line gladly and one of his saviors handed him a canteen.
“Drink up. You look like you need it.”
Figures were running towards them out of the darkness and Michael knew it was the men from before.
“Steady, boys. Make sure you can see ’em before you fire.”
One of the younger men near the front laughed.
“They might even turn tail and run when they see us.”
“Too right, too right.”
The first of them came into sight then, a look of shock on his face when he saw the line of soldiers arrayed against him. Then he turned and ran back the way he’d come.
“Looks like that’s it then.” The man in charge of the unit nodded once and then smiled. “You see any more problems like them, you come find us. We take Mr. Lincoln’s words seriously around here.”
Michael nodded, still not sure that any of this was real.
“I will. Thank you.”


Fleeting Friends Upon the Wall

The shadows were hovering,
The lights burning dim,
Over an eerie façade which once was a house.
High upon a hill, a fence all around.
None ever enter.
None ever leave.

And so I went alone in darkness,
Up the hill toward the manse.
Past the jungles of overgrown bushes,
Through the gate whose scream reached out,
Like a banshee or spirit from beyond the grave,
To rend the very soul.

I crept up the path, fearing every sound,
To the door wrought of iron and wood.
The door swung open,
Creaking on hinges unused.
They cried out with the effort,
So long had it been since last any folk did enter here.

Up the stairs that framed the hall
To a hallway that ran for the ages
A door hung open
A light shone within
Yearning for company in its candle’s dance.

Inside I stepped to watch the light dance,
Casting fleeting friends upon the wall.
I stood and watched as all around me
Transient folk passed me in costumes of mist.
They formed a stately procession
Into a ballroom where played music of the fey.

Together danced the transient folk,
Trying to lure me in.
With darkling smiles adorning their fearsome faces,
They closed their ranks around my mortal frame
And into a corner I was forced,
Mist closing all around.

Certain faces passed me
Eyes ablaze with light
Darkness closing all around
Transient forms grew solid
Claws pulling me under
To drown in that shadowed mist

I scream aloud the first thing that came to mind
I called for light, for dawn, for flame
To end this passing nightmare.
To deliver me from the darkness
Lend me the strength to get out
And to find my way home

Light licked my cheek as I awoke.
I was there lying on the floor
I felt battered and my clothes were ripped
But I was alone
The ballroom all around me,
With no signs of the folk who had gathered here the night before.

I stood and turned to go
And erase this place from my mind.
As I returned to a world I could call my own,
To the world of light and humans
A light danced in a room where the door hung open
Casting fleeting friends upon the wall.

The Cycle of Contentment

One young woman standing bound to a wooden beam
That points at the sky like an accusing finger
She feels the flames licking at her feet
But she feels only contentment
Despite the screams that are ripped from her throat
Because she knows that her lover escaped

An old woman sitting in a rocking chair
Watching the grandchildren play on the lawn
She ponders another batch of cookies
As she stands, she feels a sharp pain in her breast
But she feels only contentment
Despite the upward rushing of the wooden floor
Because she lived to see her grandchildren

A mother-to-be lays in bed staring up at the stark white ceiling
She pushes and pushes, bringing life into the world
And as the girl-child comes forth
It is not the screaming of a new life that she cries
But instead the scream of the last life ended
As she is wrapped in warm, dry clothes
She feels only contentment and allows herself to forget