By Erik Suchy

Milton winced at the basketball’s collision against his back, a pool of discomfort opening with hot knives, followed by dull aching and finishing with ripples in his anatomy sea. Of course, he thought. Since when does a star quarterback like Brock Lerner ever miss a target with a heave-ho like that?“

You’re supposed to use your hands to catch that, not your spine!” Brock cackled from behind. “Didn’t Mommy teach you that when she first saw you jerk your chicken?”

He stapled his would-be-response down with a clutch from both rows of teeth. Petty actions from the great unwashed of high school vermin had always been worth his rejection, but Mother was usually consistent in finding methods to overrule his silence every time. The contempt they lay against him had only ever been her awakening, and the hurt he was forcibly bathed in by their hands her dinner bell. Common sense now dictated that the myriad of disappearances piled up across time meant she was never one easily swayed.

“Hey, you listening?” Brock sneered. “You know you’re the only little bitch here during open gym worth anybody’s attention! Maybe you could give me some more respect I’m being nice enough to play with you!”

The only voice that flung off Milton’s tongue was a noiseless one as he tried to formulate a lure. The great fear – no less the predominant initiative to force himself into action – was the idea of Mother’s agitation, let alone her ensuing ferocity should her nourishment be delayed from sooner to later. Many times she called herself guardian of his wounded corporal land, eternally coated with circles of pain, like dalmatian spots. He debated whether each act of convulsive hunger was done for his benefit or hers, but stopped short of reflecting as a hard pause shattered his thoughts. The moment was nigh, and it told him to ready the usual donkey-and-carrot ambush; to make her work a public mess was a gamble not to be pushed by any stretch of coherence.

Milton took a deep breath. “Hey Brock,” he called, “how about you go and fuck your mother with that rice-grain dick of yours, pussy?”

Initially, he saw him go rigid before his bewilderment quickly spread, reaching its infuriated conclusion in a matter of seconds. The residue of his appearance breathed a desire for unsound satisfaction, seeming to hang longer in the air the more Milton stared back. Inside,Mother congratulated him for achieving step one, offering a reminder the most challenging part from each past endeavor was remembering how fast to run.

“That wasn’t very nice, Milton,” Brock began to rage, “and neither is my foot gonna be once it’s up your ass and out your mouth, because I just signed your fucking death warrant!”

His tone was past boiling, but it rendered Milton indifferent. He’d faced others’ flames before, spewing from their tongues when he had to drag them towards seclusion. Today’s routine was seldom less unorthodox.

“Come catch me if you can, bitch,” he clapped back.

A roar flew from Brock’s throat, akin to a lion crossed with Godzilla, and Milton took a hasty step backward. The call had blazoned, and now, it was time to dash off.

Immediately, they had both sprinted out through the metallic double doors and into Hallway A-3, hasty strides and well-worn gasps careless against every gaze from each passing student. Between his puffs, he heard Mother giggling, wondering where they would go for privacy’s sake, more a sarcasm-drenched proposal than a genuine inquiry. Obviously! How could he forget that room had always worked for them both, never falling off its expectations? Tenth verse, same as the first.

You can’t outrun destiny!” he heard Brock shriek, seemingly from inches close. “It’s always got you on speed dial!”

He turned a swift 90 degrees around the corner from where Mr. Landau taught AP Calculus, pleading his joints to propel him faster than the average poindexter-glasses-ladenoutcast whose skills at friendship-crafting were as obsolete as his muscle density. Another turn down Hallway B-12 brought more attention, showcasing rows of open doors that produced eccentrically peering heads with equally-inquisitive eyes. The terror that struck Milton at that moment was instantaneous. He prayed they would forget about their chase soon, hopefully substituting their curiosity with a simple “boys will be boys” perception. Curiosity, Mother had always told him, would only risk molding her further into savagery. She despised witnesses of any kind who pried for answers.

They continued to zoom—right, left, left, right, soaring like antelopes until Milton found his feet crossing from carpet back onto dingy tiles, finally reaching the back halls behind the gymnasium. On the horizon, a sign slung high overhead in rugged Helvetica font: Men’s Locker Room. Nearby, a clock read 11:30 am, and he smiled.There was still time before the others would return to shower and change.

He pushed open the door, and without any remorse for sparing, he felt Brock lunge elbow-first into the back of his neck. The floor caught them both, but the ensuing flames that licked his ribs were quickly overpowered by way of a sudden thrust, driving him face forward into the dingy concrete. All at once, Milton could only perceive a blaze, hotter beyond observation, from every corner of sentience. He was hurting, so badly hurting, and did not know where Mother had gone.

“Caught you,” Brock sniggered, “ just in time for the jury to find you guilty of backtalk! You got a closing statement under your belt?”

There was no reply from the squirming form underneath. His mouth could only kiss the grime from a dirty footprint without enough room to wiggle it open. He needed her services more than ever while alive enough to feel the burning.

Try again!” Brock cackled. “You know I don’t have all day!

He continued to push harder down.

Answer me!”

Harder. Milton begged for darkness and the fruits of its liberation.


Somewhere, there was a stirring. Gentle, like feathers gliding downward.


No. It was rising, and then Milton saw it once he had managed to turn his head sideways.

An awakening.

He felt Brock stumble off, lungs now awash with breath, yet he chose to stay down and close his eyes. The sensation of her growls had never dripped with this much reassurance before.

What the—”

Milton heard him scream, but it was one lasting not long enough to reverberate. Instead,Mother was adjusting him twofold: first, his voice to a faint muffle, then, his persona to a horrified adolescent, thrashing like mad as she started, then quickly finished up. With one eye,he quietly peered out into the aftermath, then arose, fascinated at her improvement. No one drop or scratch had found its way to taint either side of the room, and it pleased him. In previous frenzies, he had to be coarse in reminding her the importance of leaving the scene bloodless, no matter how turbulent the struggle had worn her out. Tonight, she would rest well enough.

He sighed contently and patted his healing rib cage. A miracle had been born, once more welcomed from the obliviousness of those outside. No one ever questioned Milton where he saw the ones she took last. He could only assume those with such scorching inquiries often pondered a more bizarre region of the human mind’s mental aptitude, one that somehow urged them to disappear from the building without prior notice.

He heard Mother ask him a question.

“We will continue to prowl on,” he answered. “Their hatred against me will never be their hunt to claim.”

Mother asked him what more the future was capable of holding, and Milton paused,licking his lips in thought before the first answer he could think of flung itself toward her:

“For now, the chase is ours to pursue, and their malice shall be YOURS to taste.”

Bio: A recent graduate of Metropolitan State University’s Creative Writing program, Erik Suchy has always taken it upon himself to craft the best tales of the quirky, exciting, and sometimes slightly macabre for those who are always hungry for intriguing stories. When not hard at work on his next piece of short fiction, he is busy prowling the outdoors with his trusty Sony A6500, pursuing a photographer’s dream of taking the best shots imaginable. Currently, he resides in North St. Paul, Minnesota, with his family and beloved nuisance of a Labrador/German Shorthaired Pointer mix, Blaze.
He also has other stories on The Yard: Crime Blog, The Perfect Shot, And Hollow.

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