Amit kissed me for the first time, at the Tacky Mirage Cafe.

It was mid October, and there was a small batch of
high school kids who came in.
They were on their Homecoming date, so I offered to
let them have our booth.
“That was generous, love,” she said.

We were in town for a mish-mash artist’s and farmer’s market
sort of deal.
Iowa’s so great for those kind of things.

It’s why I was excited to spend the weekend there.
A fall festival, and taking in some local color.

The kid who bought of Amit’s works, I’ll call him Timothy.

He was one of the last of the Milk Carton kids, just
before that ran its course in the late 80’s.

I think about how there’s a family who goes
to Des Moines to get counseling, to deal with the void
of Timothy not in their life.

I think about how I heard about this department store.
It was a tip, the kind only I can pick up on.

My tip was from an album photo. Not the cover, but the back.
I saw the graffiti, and knew that was where someone kept
her.

That’s how this under-the-table community operates.
They make it look like it’s real estate.
Showing property to potential buyers.

The graffiti. They have this mandala.
Think it looks Runic.

Her?
Spider legs.

Mike. That’s what some guy called her. Claimed
that was her preferred name.

He had some fetish I’m not gonna describe.

While the world was waiting on war during the Berlin Blockade,
he was luring men into his home.
For Mike.

This group, who have Mike in their detention.

It’s a wretched kind of stupid.

You don’t take something from the Archean era, and turn
into a draw.
They think it’s cool. Charge people
to see her.
The human keeper, or husband, he’d been dead
for decades.

Mike? Well, she’s the last of her kind.
They don’t age, though.

This group – they used Timothy, somehow.
A bogus offer for some work is the typical
ruse.

Mike still has to eat.

Anyhow, if you’re wondering.
Amit doesn’t know about my freelance work.
Doesn’t know about how I tie up loose ends.

I’m here to stop this little enterprise.

Small confession, though.

The guy at the door will tell me, “No cameras.”

I’ll say, “No problem. It’s better to not leave
traces around.”

8 Comments

  1. Trent

    My fan fiction. A decades-after-the-story sequel to “The Thing on the Fourble Board” radio play.

    It should be required material, for any horror fan.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_EtWrWvllA

    So, here, I’m someone dealing with a continuation of the story.
    There’s the creature, and some people who are doing something quite reckless.

    A photo that I will say is a visual spark:

    https://pixabay.com/photos/oil-rig-industry-old-field-3629119/

    • Aimee Parkison

      Trent, I’m listening to “The Thing on the Fourble Board” now. Wow! Thank you for sharing the link. It’s great!!!

  2. Aimee Parkison

    Trent,

    This piece really resonated for me. Absolutely horrific! It hit home.

    One of my many dark obsessions is true crime, and one of my favorite cases, terrifying to go back to and which I keep going back to is Johnny Gosch. Gosch’s picture was among the first to be featured on milk cartons as part of a campaign to find missing children, but that’s only one of the curious details that draws true crime junkies to the Gosch mystery, which is very dark. Your fiction seems to be tapping into the mythological criminal underworld that true crime investigators discover when they research cases like Gosch. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disappearance_of_Johnny_Gosch

    You explore the horror of the trafficking underground in a vivid, gripping way.

    This passage, immediately got my attention–

    The kid who bought of Amit’s works, I’ll call him Timothy.
    He was one of the last of the Milk Carton kids, just
    before that ran its course in the late 80’s.

    I think about how there’s a family who goes
    to Des Moines to get counseling, to deal with the void
    of Timothy not in their life.

    There are so many dark theories about the disappearances of people. While some of those theories are perhaps mere conspiracy, many of the theories are urban legends to the point of becoming the stuff of horror. Your fiction explores this so well.

    You writing taps into these urban legends in such a smart, artistic, and horrifying way–

    “I think about how I heard about this department store.
    It was a tip, the kind only I can pick up on.
    My tip was from an album photo. Not the cover, but the back.
    I saw the graffiti, and knew that was where someone kept
    her.”

    There is so much darkness but so much real grit and terror and mystery, especially when it comes to investigating the crime story, which is a powerful avenue of horror, but with the spider girl/Mike narrative strands you take it into even darker territory so sinister that it is the stuff of nightmares and yet possible in the criminal underworld.

    Try sending this to Shotgun Honey, Crazyhorse, New Delta Review, and/or The Literary Review.

    By the way, I loved reading your writing! It fascinates me and took me down many dark avenues that thrilled. Thanks so much for sharing your horror fiction with me!

    Xoxo, Aimee

  3. Sara Comito

    I enjoyed the stream of consciousness-type ruminations from the narrator throughout. It breaks up the action and difficult facts and helps the reader absorb the information at a digestible rate. The voice is authoritative and sly, and a bit funny. I like phrases like “last of the Milk Carton kids” and “under-the-table community.” Seems like it could be a small film.

  4. Jennifer Fliss

    This is fascinating to me. I’m going to check that link out right after this. I love the time-placement nods here. The kids on milk cartons evokes this worry, this unending fear of us 80s/90s kids. The voice is also clutch. This feels really intelligent and it makes me want to go research further some of the things you mention, which, to me, is like, the ultimate reading experience.

  5. David O'Connor

    Trent, I loved this, painted a whole mid-western fall festival world here in so few strokes. You should be proud, this is superb writing.

  6. AJ Miller

    Trent, each time I read this, the voice seems to go a little darker for me. Chilling really, to have this insider perspective of the underground kidnapping world. That alone is terrifying. Funny how the way you structured it made me want to read fast, but I had to keep telling myself to slow down to catch the details. Really interesting choice and style and I like how it put the narrative and voice a little at odds with each other. Great job on this!

  7. Gloria Garfunkel

    Trent:

    I love the voice, so matter-of-fact, weaving the ordinary in with the creepy. Very well done. However, I didn’t have the stamina to watch the original film, so I’m sure I missed a lot. Will save it for a better time.

    Gloria

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