Tag Archives: experimental

The Dark Creature Passes, Part I

SPECIAL NOTE – This is horror. If you don’t like horror, turn back now. As you are turning back, notice the guy in the dark, voluminous cape. Walk toward that guy. 

Cruckshank’s Greeting

by Karen R. Sanderson

My old bones ache and feel as if they are frozen into the depths of their marrow. Adjusting my rump on the bale of hay, I try to settle. I pull the moth-bitten horse blanket tighter around me, my shoulder blades sticking out like two tiny wings. The breeze picks up again and disturbs the gray hair around my ears, and I shiver. Adjusting my cap, I wait.

I observe the night sky, as I have done every evening for decades. The darkness is quite complete – there are no stars in this part of the world. No twinkly gases or planets. No vaporous clouds. There is no moon. 

Long ago, in another world, I gazed upon twinkling galaxies spread with glistening paints across a blue-black canopy, listening to hooting owls and the lonely yowls of night creatures. Then…the voice of my mother…calling me home.  

I hear a clattering of hooves and that scraping, dragging sound – the souls he pulls behind him. I stand up and stretch, joints snapping. I do not know the how of it – how much longer I can endure the physical strain of this employment. But it is certainly preferred over the alternative of death. 

I see the horse’s snorting breath first – glowing red and stinking. Then the rider and his mount appear in my field of vision. The Friesian horse is sleek ebony, and the leather he wears is all black, gleaming with a high gloss and squeaking from liberal saddle soap. A most beautiful animal in an occupation most distasteful. 

The rider’s smirking countenance comes into view – a productive night, I imagine. He throws his leg jauntily over the neck of the horse, his black boot glistening with spit and polish. He floats to the ground with his cape spread like bat wings. A blanketing wave of the velvety fabric, and he is gone. The chains that are attached to the catch of the day fall clattering to the dirt.

I drag the chained souls into an immense barn, large enough to produce an echo if there were such a thing as an echo in this vacuous blackness. The granite floor flaunts an occasional scorch mark from previous burnings. Coffin-shaped boxes are lined up, waiting for their cargo. 

I consign each of the souls to a private wood-slat container. And then the burning. Their pleading voices, the crying, the screeching. Oh, if I were able to get that jangle and clank out of my head! Their cries and begging and wheeling-dealing make no difference. They are extinguished with efficient dispatch. 


Filed under Horror, Special Events

“The Garden” – Part IV

The Gardener


Oh goodness, I need to oil those hinges. Every time I open the screen door, I scare away all the birds! Oh wait, there’s a couple of Cardinals up in the maple tree. Isn’t that nice: they’ve built a nest, started a home. That male Cardinal, snuggled up next to his lady, looks like they are smooching. Those Blue Jays are so raucous! Must they be so noisy? 

Hush now! 

What a lovely day, not too hot, not too chilly. I just love the spring. The sun is bright and so warm. Don’t want to get a burn, so it’s the shade for me. I’ll just sit here in my rickety lawn chair and nurture my first iced tea of the day. Ah! I really do need to pick up a new chair. My butt’s gonna bust through this thing any day. 

Oh, Hummingbirds! I should have brought my camera out with me, darn it. They are so beautiful – all those shiny colors. They look like feathered jewels. 

Vrtt! Here they are. Vrtt! There they go.

Those silly Yellow Finches, how do they do that, hang upside down and eat? Like tiny circus acrobats. I’ve never seen any other bird hang like that. I hope those Crows over there don’t bother them. It looks like they are waiting around for some big bird announcement. The Crows, they can be a bother, always shooing and flappity-flapping their wings at the others. 

Darn it – look at that bird bath. And I just scrubbed it yesterday! Ah well. And the feeder, too – nearly empty! And look at the suet. It’s nearly gone already! Piggy birdies. Unless the squirrels are getting up there…. 

My garden, so quiet and peaceful. No traffic noises from the highway, no grandkids under foot. It’s almost too quiet. 

Twe-whoo, twe-whoo. The lady Cardinal looks at me funny – cocking her head – when I whistle. I wonder if she understands me. 

1:15…20 minutes until the ball game. Hey, that tickles—what is…? Aw, a Lady Bug. I’ll just put her on this little tea rose over here. Gently, gently, Lois. There ya go little lady! How precious, her little fluttery wings. 

Oh! A Praying Mantis! They take my breath! Look at her sitting there on that leaf, so regal, like she thinks she’s a queen. I wonder if she’s after those moths. Ew, Spiders on the trellis. Well, they serve a purpose too, I ‘spose. All these bugs, running about, so busy busy busy. 

Are those Cockroaches?! Ah!

Agnes, bring me the bug spray! Quick! Odd, it looks like that Cockroach over at the compost is wearing a grass skirt! Now why would a Cockroach need a grass skirt? 

You’re losing it, Lois. 

Oh dear, what’s with this brown spot? And all these bits of shell? Guess I’ll have to seed that. Hmm, seed, burlap, couple’a nails to hold down the burlap. Need to pull out the hose…. 

Lois! The game’s started! 

The Gardner and her grandson, circa 1981

This four part “The Garden” was written with my Mother, Lois, foremost in my mind. She was the guiding light in my life. With her and my Aunt Agnes (“Ang”), they created a happy home. She was loved. Mom loved family, the bugs, the birds, her garden, and baseball. And she loved the written word.


Filed under Personal Articles

“The Garden” – Part III

The Garden Birds

My favorite time of year. Time to build a new home from fluff out of the dryer vent, discarded bits of yarn from old sweaters; weave in a few twigs and bits of lint that flutter down from clothes pinned on the Gardener’s line. Sometimes I get lucky and find a loose thread on a cloth diaper. That’s the ultimate find for a nest-builder. 

Ah, what’s that smell? My mate – in his pointed red fedora and lush black beard – has brought me a gobbet of suet sprinkled with seed! The slick and creamy delicacy feels so deliciously decadent on my beak. What a good provider he is, the most handsome Cardinal in all the garden. He winks his limpid black eye at me and asks would I like to rub wings later. He gives me an affectionate beak tweak.  

Several branches away a mad disharmony erupts between two odious Blue Jays – their crests erect, blue and black feathers engaged in a broiling rustle. They are in a duel over a female. What a ridiculous exhibition. I turn away. 

An iridescent rainbow cascades past my branch. Ah, the Hummers. How lovely their costumes; they are a hasty parade of amethyst, ruby, sapphire, and jade. Rather ungainly beaks they have, making them the brunt of good-natured teasing. Their fluttering creates the most delicious breeze. I’d invite them in for respite, but our tastes are incompatible. 

There is nasty business going on down in the city of bugs, among the rubbish of the compost. Most distressing. By Avian Law, we are not permitted to interfere. We must observe and silence our tweets. Their preposterous squabbles create great disorder and infect my dreams. The most recent disturbance was muffled at this distance. We have now gotten twitterings of the verdict and the horrifying news of the explosion from the orange-breasted Robins and the acrobatic Finches (I admit that I am often jealous of the Finches – the way they are able to hang upside down. What a merriment that must be!).  

Dour-looking Crows roost on the wire adjacent to the Trellis. They wait for word from the grapevine about the filling of the bird feeder. The Crows will tell the Woodpeckers; the Woodpeckers will tack-tack the news for all to hear.

Such yummies our Gardener puts out for us – black sunflower seeds, safflower, cracked corn, peanuts, an occasional handful of currants. Droves of Mockingbirds and Thrashers flutter in when she sets out a halved apple or other chopped fruits. I do not care for the fruits – they wreak havoc on my delicate digestion. 

Our Gardener scrubbed and re-filled the birdbath before the setting of yesterday’s sun. What a holiday atmosphere this creates! Jump in! The water is fine, so fine. The juveniles are reprimanded by their mothers about deposits recklessly left. They are sent home with quiet dispatch. 

A squeal from the portal – here she comes! The Gardener is coming! Several of our Avian persuasion beat wing away from the suet, and the bathers retreat. The rest of us in the branches are quiet, waiting for today’s banquet to appear. I observe, attentively, smacking my beak. 

She is so kind, our Gardener, so respectful. 

She amuses me when she whistles. I do not understand one word. But bless her for trying.


Filed under Personal Articles

“The Garden” – Part II


Associated Trellis – Extra! Extra!

Cockroaches Guilty as Charged! 

From my perch on the trellis, overlooking the hub-bub in the soil and tiny pebbles of The Garden below, I watch the Snails escort the convicted Cockroaches – bound up in braided-ivy-vine – across the wide expanse of the garden. Slowed to the Snails’ pace, the Cockroaches lurch like zombies as the contingency travels over decorative brick and hot desert slate. Their expedition is observed by Millipede urchins and an assortment of Beetles in fine Queen Anne’s lace petticoats. They are on their way to the compost.  

Arachnid runners in hourglass-stamped tunics jump to my side with the latest interviews and eye-witness reportage from the ground. Dragonflies alight on surrounding leaves with their eye-in-the-sky accounts. 

Below, spectators and hecklers en route hurl discarded coffee grounds and bits of rotted cabbage. The Cockroaches snick-snick along, fettered together like a chain gang. Wild flowers unwrap their withering petals, slinging dried up pollen upon the procession. Not that it would damage the Cockroach’s armor plating – it is simply an exhibition of disgust.  

I lament the current state of insect affairs. It seems that just weeks ago all was serene here in this patch of The Garden.  We all knew the responsibilities of our genus, be we Lepidopteron, Arachnid, Coleopteran; coming out of cocoon or burrow or hive, we all knew our place. Ah, the good ole days; how I miss them. 

As I wax nostalgic, Battalions of Dandelions release clusters of fluffy white paratroopers. They float, caught on the breezes. In crisp military fashion, they fan out and set up their posts. 

I exchange pieces of molted-wing parchment with several stringer Moths, and dispatch them to the lower trellis floors. Ancient presses start their incessant clanging; recycled butterfly-wing scales are loaded and ground into ink and readied for printing. 

Through my compound orbs, I watch as two Cockroaches in Ghillie suits push a curious conveyance of upturned shell into a copse of mushrooms. My breath catches. My phototactic eyes bulge. 

Boom! The shell of fertilizer explodes! The shock wave rumbles across the garden, from the daffodils to the impatiens, blowing Moths, Butterflies and other creatures into a tangle of legs and wings. 

The smoke clears from the blast site and a crater the size of a bird bath emerges. Insurgent Roaches scurry in clutching spears of dried grass. They punch through the constraints of their brethren, liberating them. 

The stench of charred wings and scorched appendages floats skyward in a black cloud. Pulverized Snail shells litter the blast zone; their slime plops upon the earth. Dead leaves are pounded into mulch. Royal attendants scramble to secure our Exulted Mantis.

Under my six feet, cracks appear in the trellis. I hear snapping noises. My workmates and I tremble on a precipitous ledge. Bugs cling to the trellis with all the legs they’ve got. Cries of terror and pain disrupt the black after-bomb silence. My feathery antennae are tingly and itchy. I see EMT’s – Emergency Medical Ticks – dispatched, and they begin infusing stored blood into the wounded. 

Further out, among the branches of the mighty oak and maple, our avian neighbors sit and observe, their twittering silenced.


Filed under Personal Articles