“Lover” Dark Flash Horror by Alan Caldwell

"Lover" Dark, Supernatural Fiction by Alan Caldwell

It doesn’t happen often, and then only in the fall or winter, but never seemingly connected to any specific celestial event or lunar phase. I never subscribed to the notion that the stars or moon influence our personality or behavior in any substantial way.

It always occurs in exactly the same manner. I begin to first feel a bit queasy, a wave of vague sickness, as if I might vomit, then a mild dizziness, and then I invariably awake somewhere in a forest, or in a field, generally naked, and always besmirched with blood.

I still recall the first time it occurred. I was a young man, a college student. I awoke bewildered, and followed the stars till I found a familiar setting.  I made my way back to my dorm room just as the sun broke over the horizon. I had been drinking, but no more than many college boys do. Surely the alcohol explains the blackout, I thought. Since I couldn’t identify its source, I tried to ignore the mysterious blood on my hands and face . The next time it happened, almost two months after the first, I had no ready-made excuse. I had retired, sober, and at a reasonable hour. I enjoyed a dreamless slumber, and then awoke just before sunrise in a muddy livestock pen not far from the village limits. In close proximity to my muddy bed, I discovered seven white goats of various ages, all dead, their throats torn as if bitten by a beast with immense teeth and jaws.

The next morning, I collected the remainder of my tuition money from the strongbox at the foot of my bed, bought a tall black gelding and left my school and my town. So as to preserve those I loved, I wrote no letters home and set out on the road alone. That was just over a century ago. I have not since aged in either body or countenance. I still roam from town to town, faster now by car than gelding. I find work and lodging and remain till I can no longer do so. It always happens again, that aforementioned pattern. Sometimes it will not appear for many months and I pray to the God who made me that I might, at last, be released from my fate.

Then once more I will feel the sickening wave and know I am anything but free. When It’s over, I search the local newspapers and recoil at the tales of the horrid and unaccountable slaughter of pets, and livestock, and yes, even people, many people, more people than beasts now. And again, I must take to the road.

I had a lover many years ago. I should have known better, but my loneliness clouded my judgment.  She served sodas and milkshakes. She was very beautiful. She smelled of cinnamon and vanilla. I am thankful that I can’t remember what I did to her.

Alan Caldwell has been teaching in Georgia since 1994 but only began submitting writing in May 2022. He has since been published in Southern Gothic Creations, Level: Deepsouth, oc87 Recovery Diaries, Black Poppy Review, The Backwoodsman, You Might Need To Hear This, The Chamber, Biostories, Heartwood Literary Journal, American Diversity Report, and Rural Fiction Magazine.

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