Laurie in the Closet/Michael with the Knife//Megan Pillow Davis

Grand Prize Winner Halloween Contest 2018 – Flash Fiction


The children are running, away, away,                 And he hears them, skittering like beetles

down the hall, past the lamp that glows               across the surface of his brain. He raises

in the doorway, across the floor, behind               the knife like a lantern. It guides him up

the locked door. Laurie hears him coming up     the stairs. He sees her run into a room,

behind her like the stir and roil                         toward some faint safety, but only the blade

of some stumbling darkness, so she runs            can keep her safe. It points its way

to the closet, sliding the door closed,                 to her skin and he follows. The blade slips into

the light through the slats leaving a mark            the sliver of space in the closet slat,

that tells the blade where to go. She grabs          a knife between a rib. It’s still so far away.

a hanger like women always have, to protect       the crack of the slat as it gives way,

themselves from the things that will wreck           a rotten tooth, and the light, the light,

their bodies, their lives, and she reaches it out     the light swings like a circling sun

and presses it in to his cheek, feels it give           over the blank white planet of his face, and

like soil under her fingers. It thrills her,               the pop and flare of pain, the gush of blood

and then the knife is at her feet, in her hands      like the venting of some geyser that fills up

and centers her rage and she thrusts it               dark with noise and heat and he feels the itch

deep into his chest, into what she hopes is          at the center of him, the scratch of

his heart, and then he disappears. Only the         fury now leaching into his veins. How could she blade

now keeps her company. To                              betray him, how could she deliver the itch,

the door, the blade before her like a shield,        when she knows that is his to gift her, his to

still the air sucks around her with his                  circle around her throat like a chain, like his

absence. She drops the knife, stumbles to           hands when his hands won’t do. The floor is

the hall, and the children, the children are           beneath him. He takes that itch and uses it to

still there somehow, and she tells them to           rise, to pull his leaking body to its feet, to

run again. She gets to her feet. She can              walk across the room with plodding steps

feel him in the air behind her and then               behind her, each one the twitch of the blade

his hands are wrapping around her neck,            and his hands are not as sharp but they are

and she can feel it, death, like a collar,               stronger. And he can feel her fluttering beneath

but there is a thundering on the stairs                his hands like a sparrow, and he will down her,

and a great bang as Loomis fires the gun           but then the dart and sting in his chest and

once, and Michael is downed like                       a great ocean of pain rises in him, but he will

a wide-winged hawk shot from the sky.              not fall, he will not break his focus, and so

Laurie grips her head as if he ripped it                he retreats to the dark of a room, and he waits,

from her. Loomis runs to see, but Michael          sees Loomis enter, then the rattle of

is still alive, and so Loomis shoots again             metal again filling his chest and he falls back

and again and again and again again                 through the door the porch the rail the air and

until Michael finally falls to the ground.               the earth claims him like he’s planted there.

Laurie is crying. She wants it to be over              But he will not stay. He uproots himself. He is

but she knows the boogeyman will come            again rising, again on the move, again looking

back to find her because they always do,            for the way he can come around to

because monsters like this one, once they           see her, feel her, be close to her somehow,

have the scent of your blood in their nose,          because she doesn’t understand yet, but he

will never stop until they taste it,                       will show her that this is how he loves her,

will never stop until the blood runs out.              this is how he always will love her.


Megan Pillow Davis is a graduate of the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop in fiction and is currently a doctoral candidate in the University of Kentucky’s English Department. Her work has appeared recently in Electric Literature, SmokeLong Quarterly, Mutha Magazine, Memoir Mixtapes, and Coffin Bell Journal and is forthcoming in Moonchild Magazine, Collective Unrest, and Jellyfish Review. She has received fellowships from Pen Parentis and the Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing and a residency from the Ragdale Foundation. She is currently writing her dissertation and a novel. You can find her on Twitter at @megpillow