Tag Archives: death



[Trigger Warnings:  Abuse.  Sexual Abuse.  Violence.  Nongraphic.]


She woke up suddenly with an awareness of her surroundings.  Sharp eyes peered around the room.  The disparity gave away his outline.  Dark and shadowed, he watched her as she slept.  “I see you.  So you might as well come out of the deep shadows.”

He stepped forward tilting his head thoughtfully.  “You’ve matured since we last met.”

“Well, it’s been around ten years or so.”

“I’m not sure how much time I have but I slipped the watchers.  Can we…talk?”

She patted the side of the bed as she reached over to grab the robe.  “I-I’ve missed you, Caleb.”

“I wouldn’t have left if I could have stopped it from happening.  They dragged me away.”

She slid her hand over his, light blending with shadows.

♦ ♥ ♦

The first time she spotted him was after a nightmare.  He climbed out from under her bed to find her crying.  Wrapping her up in his arms, he soothed her.  She had been four.  He looked no more than six.  “Who are you?” she asked.

“Um, I don’t have a name.  I’ve been here awhile, though.  You are my assignment, Lauren.”

She blinked up at him curiously.  “Are you…a monster?”

He smiled kindly.  “That’s what many of your kind call us.  We are Orrai.  We live in the shadows and watch over the young humans.”

“Like an angel?”

He tilted his head but then nodded it slowly.  “Angels need the light.  We can work with them, however.  We require the darkness.  It’s rare for a human to be able to see us, though.  Most don’t move past shadows.”


“Because humans are made of light.”

She thought about this a moment before she asked, “Even bad guys?”

“Each act of evil will dim that light a little.  If they continue to sin, they will eventually be consumed by darkness.  Orrai are born when one of these dark humans pass away.”

“So you’re a bad guy?”

“No…I just hold his darkness.  You have to have some light to make it to the first tier of the heavens where their fate is determined.  The darkness is stripped away.  When it reaches the shadows, it will create an Orrai.  But Orrai are not evil.  They are just darkness.  We…protect our humans.  You are my first human.”

“You need a name.  Can I give you one?”

“If you’d like.”  He smiled gently towards the child.  “What name would you give me?”

She studied him a bit chewing her lip thoughtfully.  “I think I would call you Caleb.”

He smiled and nodded.  “That’s a good name.  It means ‘whole hearted’.  I will protect you with all of my heart for as long as I am allowed.”

“You won’t be here always?”

“One day your vision of me will dim and you won’t be able to make me out in the shadows.  When that happens, the light within you is too strong and I will have to move on.”

“Does my name have a meaning?”

“Fierce…like a warrior.”

“I like that.”

He nodded as he tucked the covers back around her.  “You should sleep now.  I’ll keep watch.”

♦ ♥ ♦

Lauren threaded her hand into his.  “I could still see you when you went away.”

“I know.  Too much darkness had entered your life by that point.”

“Why did they make you leave?  I didn’t want you to go.”

“Th-they were concerned that I was too close.  Perhaps I was.  I no longer saw you as a child.  You were no longer just my assignment.  You hadn’t been for awhile.”

“You were…my best friend.  At times, you were my only friend.  You kept me safe at that darkest moments of my life.”

“I know…and I would do it again without hesitation.  All of it.”

♦ ♥ ♦

That moment occurred when Lauren was seven.  Gunshots ripped her from her sleep and she was instantly awake, sitting upright.  Shouts and more shots tore through the night.  “Caleb!” she called out softly, fear causing her voice to quaver.

“I’m here.”

“Who is it?”

“Your father’s darkness has caught up to him.”

“Am I going to die?”

“Not tonight.  I’ll keep you safe.”  He pulled her into his arms and wrapped her in his shadows.  “They won’t be able to see you now.”

Minutes ticked by at an eerie pace.  Sounds came from below as furniture shifted and drawers were opened.  The clatter of cabinet doors opening and shutting filled the air.  The acrid smell of the spent gunpowder made its way up the stairs.  “Did you get the girl?” a voice called out.

“No.  I thought you did!”

“Find her!”


Drawing closer.

She tightened her eyes and Caleb could feel her fear.  “Shh!  I’ve got you, Lauren.  You are safe with me.  Just keep quiet.  They can’t hear me but they will be able to hear you.”

She nodded and buried herself into Caleb’s chest clinging to…was it fur?  She never quite knew what he looked like.  The door burst open.

“She’s not here!” one of the cried.

“Check in the closet.  I’ll look under the bed.”

The bed shifted and she could feel him close, the heat off his body unsettling her as she squeezed her eyes shut.  Again she heard Caleb’s gentle voice quieting her.

“There’s no sign of her.  Maybe she stayed at a friend’s house.”

“No worries, then.  She wont’ be a witness.  Let’s get out of here.”

Then they were gone.

Caleb held her all the way until morning.  As he retreated to the shadows, he could hear human movements below as the crime was discovered.  Police arrived and Lauren was taken away, placed in foster care.

♦ ♥ ♦

“I thought you would be gone…I reached out for you when they took me away.  You were all that I had left, Caleb,” she whispered even as she felt his arm slip around her.  She rested her cheek against that chest once more as tears from that memory washed freshly down her face.

“I had to follow you through the shadows.  It took me a few days to reach you but I knew where they took you.”  His arms held her close.  He rested his cheek on her forehead.  Things were so complicated.  How could he tell her?

♦ ♥ ♦

The foster home held its own kind of loneliness.  She shared a room with three other kids, all of which knew their own darkness and were wary of the others.  Lauren felt broken.  Then he was there wrapping her up in his embrace.  “Shh,” he whispered.  “They’ll hear you if you talk to me.  You can press your thoughts to me, though.  I will hear you.”

She closed her eyes and concentrated.  “Where have you been?”

“I had to chase the shadows until I could reach you.  If I entered the shadow lands, I could have lost sight of you.  I didn’t want to risk that.”

“I’ve been afraid since you’ve left.”

“I know.  I’m sorry.  This place…it’s dripping with darkness.  There are several Orrai here but the others haven’t accepted their guardians.”

♦ ♥ ♦

“I hated that first foster home.  There was no cheer.”

“Eventually, they moved you.  The second one was better.”

“But the third one was hell.  I couldn’t have survived it if you weren’t there.”  She tightened her hold on him.  He had once more pulled her from the darkness that day.

♦ ♥ ♦

The man jerked her hair.  “Now call me ‘daddy’, Lauren.”


He laughed but no mirth filled his voice.  “You will comply or you will feel the strap.”  He held the leather over his head in demonstration.  “Now, call me ‘daddy’.” He repeated.

“D-daddy,” she stammered.  At twelve, her body no longer appeared like that of a child although she tried to hide the changes with her clothes.  He saw right through them.

“Good girl.  Now daddy will reward you,” he sneered.  He forced a slobbery kiss upon her, holding her still by her throat.

“Caleb!” she cried out for help in her thoughts.  A pop in the air sent the room into darkness.  The light bulb smoked a bit then calmed.  She felt his arm wrap around her protectively.  He reached up with his other hand and grasped hold of the man’s arm.

“What the h-!” the man called out, releasing her.  Caleb shoved her behind him.  He rose up to his full height as he shed his cloak.  This was the first time she saw his monster form.  The man before them paled.  “Who…what are you?”

“I am Orrai.  You will not touch her again.”

The man backed away.  “D-demon!” he cried out.

Caleb laughed bitterly.  “We have also been called by that name.  Your light has been extinguished, human!”

Lauren turned away from the violence.  When he returned to her, he was wrapped in his cloak and spread it out to cover her.  “Come with me, Lauren.  Let’s get you someplace safe.”

“W-will they blame me for this?”

“No child can cause that kind of damage,” he responded quietly.  He felt her withdraw a little.  “Don’t be afraid of me,” he whispered.  “It makes it harder to protect you.”

♦ ♥ ♦

“My next place was a good place and I was adopted by that family.  Then at sixteen, I looked into the shadows to see your sadness.”

“I had learned that I was being reassigned.  And yet, it was difficult to leave you.  They told me that was why we never stayed so long with an assignment.  It causes us to…change.”

“Where did you go?”

“I was sent to watch over another child but I couldn’t bond with them.  Time and again, I failed at my assignments.  What about you?”

“I graduated and went to follow in my father’s footsteps.  I’m a police officer now, a detective.”

“So you protect the innocent as well.”

She smiled, reaching up to touch his cheek.  He drew a sharp intake of breath.  “You provided the example as well.  I…have learned to see into the darkness of humanity and find the light.”

“I-I’ve been touched by the light.  So much so that I no longer fit among my own kind.”

“What does that mean?”

“I am in danger of being extinguished.  I’m no longer of use.  I don’t want…to disappear.”  She saw the real fear in his eyes.  “I came to you because…you and I…we are still tied together.”

“Can you not join the angels?”

He laughed bitterly.  “One has to become human once more, die as a good man over and over again to become an angel.  Orrai…we only have one chance.  We are rarely reborn.”

“How does one become human?”

“We have to be loved by another human,” he answered shakily turning his eyes upon her.

She gasped at the rawness of his emotion.  “I have always loved you,” she confessed softly.  Her kiss met his as he held her close to his chest.  Out of the corner of his eye, he could see the shadows retreat back into the corners.

“And I’ve loved you,” he whispered as the kiss broke.  “That’s why I could not leave you.”  He winced as he closed his eyes, pain of transformation surging through him.  “It hurts!”  She watched in alarm then wonder as his monstrous form was stripped away, replaced by human skin holding the small amount of light she had given him.  “It will take a lifetime to rebuild the light.  However, if you are by my side, I know that I can do this.”

“You have always been light to me, Caleb.  Your heart has always protected me.  That to me is light.”

He reached out towards her, his hand stroking her cheek as he watched in wonder at the change of his skin.   She leaned towards him and he met her half way into the kiss.  “I will continue to protect you, Lauren.  You hold my heart in your hand.  All of it.”

[Image Credit]



The 6th Deck: Ghostly Post #1

The 6th Deck:  Ghostly Post #1

Years ago, I joined the Navy and found myself attending basic and apprenticeship training in Orlando, Florida.  We were in a barracks dedicated to female recruits that stood eight stories tall and I was of course on the top “deck” (we called floors decks in the Navy).  There were some quirks about being on the top deck.  The bathroom only seemed to have hot water.  Thus, even the toilets steamed like you were at some fancy spa resort.  The showers could make your skin peal off.  Therefore, we were constantly seeking other places to shower and take care of personal business.

The sixth floor was not too bad.  No one was assigned to that deck and we found ourselves wandering down there to take care of laundry, showers, and just to find a quiet corner.  At night, however, it was a different story.  Nobody wanted to be there at night.  Strange sounds could be heard in these empty spaces:  the scraping of furniture, the clacking of a paddle, the clanging of something beating on a metal surface.  However, as recruits, we were expected to stand watch on this floor.

To be honest, I was nervous the night I was assigned to the sixth deck watch.  Of course, it was the 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. watch.     I was late to watch because my bunkmate helped herself to my alarm and changed the time after I went to bed.  Thus, I arrived late and disheveled.  However, I did have the presence of mind to grab my bible.  Taking the watch, the other person responded in an irritated voice that this was the third person who had left her standing watch too long.  I tried to explain the situation but she waved me off, uninterested in my excuses.  I hoped that she wouldn’t report me.  Then I was alone.

Every so often, the elevator door would open and shut with nobody exiting.  It was always the one on the left.  I thought this was odd but not worth noting in the logs.  Strange noises could be heard and I pulled out my bible and began reading through Psalms.  I like 91 when I’m really scared.  It’s comforting to think that a thousand can fall at my side but evil will not come near me.  So I read through the Psalm and then moved onto another.

The elevator open and the roving watch stepped out as I slid the bible out of sight and stood at attention.  We greeted each other and they walked through the barracks.  When they returned, I asked if anyone was in the room on the left.  They said no and asked why.  I had heard some tapping.  They laughed nervously.  It wasn’t the first time they heard this report.  It was recommended that I didn’t write it into the logs and then they left.

I would like to say this was my last experience with the sixth floor activities.  However, one afternoon I jumped in the left elevator in a hurry from the eighth deck.  The elevator began its normal descent.  Then it drew level with the sixth deck.  At that point, the elevator dropped.  I know I screamed.  We fell from the sixth deck to the second.  Then the elevator settled out and finished its descent as normal.  We stepped off shakily and determined not to take the left elevator again.  I remember we reported the mechanical malfunction.  The duty officer laughed nervously and suggested to avoid that elevator.

That’s when we heard the story.  Six months earlier a particular recruit lived on the sixth deck.  She struggled with her choice to join the Navy and possibly other events.  We did not know for sure except that she was deeply depressed.  The woman decided suicide was her only escape.  She chose to slit her wrist to that end.  Only, afterwards she had second thoughts.  She entered the left elevator to seek help.  Sadly, she bled out by the second floor.  Once the elevator settled on the ground floor, it was too late.

We were nineteen and curious.  Therefore, we decided to explore the barracks in which she died.  Thus, we through our laundry into the washer and began to move from alcove to alcove.  One of the girls with me called out to come see what she found.  As she lowered the desk, she had discovered a ouija board carved into the surface.  It was noted that this particular space seemed much colder than the rest.  We ended up pulling our laundry and moving to another floor to finish it up.  From that point forward, we only entered the sixth floor when assigned to watch.  Nobody wanted this watch.

[NOTE:  I hope you enjoyed this story.  This is truly how I remembered the events as it occurred over twenty years ago.  I hope to share other stories over the next couple of weeks.  Happy October!]



Grim Undertaking


They grimly looked upon their list. Gathering souls normally was a joyful event. However, tonight the troop of death angels knew it was time to visit the children’s hospital. They considered their approach. Sometimes their form was frightening to children. “We could dress like grandparents,” suggested Mac. Mac’s generous grey hair would lend well to the task. Still, they decided something else was in order. Tonight, they would dawn the bright colors and makeup of clowns. Dressed and ready, they opened the door that would cross into the human dimension. Soon, the troop of clownish grims found themselves walking down the gleaming polished floor of the children’s hospital. The surgical wing led them to their first soul. They gathered around him and shared giggles and laughs. As the surgeons approached, he grew serious. “I’m not waking up, am I?” Mac grinned, “Of course you are…and you get to see Him.” The boy smiled as the gas overtook him.

This short piece of flash fiction is submitted to Flash! Friday with the inspiration of the following picture.Circus Clowns visit sick boy

“Circus clowns visit sick boy” from the Boston Public Library.

The loss of an unborn child…



Many women go through this.  However, it often seems that the world does not understand.  They even want to strip away the humanity of that child in court.  Still, when a woman becomes pregnant, she becomes intimately involved with another human being in a unique way.  I know some make a choice to terminate that relationship.  This post is not about that choice.  I will not discuss the right and wrong with regard to that matter.  What I want to say is that for those who continue forward in this relationship, dreams start to form, plans begin to be made, and the heart gets tied into the matter.  Therefore, when that child is lost before she even gets to hear that cry, it leaves an emptiness.  It is my prayer that these women find solace, comfort, and support wherever they face their pain.

I wrote this poem for such a woman…and she faced her pain with grace and beauty.  This is very fitting as the little girl was to be named Grace.


“Mourning Dove” by Denise Callaway


A small bit of grace escaped heaven one day

But could only for a moment stay

To pull us together with strings of love

And let us have a glimpse of what is above


She danced in our hearts and dreams

A moment within the glance of moon beams

“Much loved” would be her name

Sadly still, her life’s flame


Angels lifted her to grace once more

Her moment spent, she will now soar

Held within the arms of love

We release our mourning dove



Written in memory of Aimee Grace

On the day of her birth and passing