beverage-mug-000000Enhance your coffee today

 

They got on separately, at different stops. The first snuffed a cigarette on a lamp post and entered wordlessly while flashing a monthly pass to the driver. He was a bit past middle-aged and wore it more obviously than most. He dressed himself as an icon of a bygone age; torn and dusty and almost entirely in blue denim; jean jacket covered in iron-on biker patches. Beneath it all was a graphic tee, detailing the rules for dating his teenage daughter.

The second man wore a conservative grey suit; also middle-aged, but a lot better looking for it. He sat down a seat behind Blue Denim. A couple stops passed by in silence until the Businessman tapped Blue Denim on his shoulder, and then, flashing a broad smile, pointed to one of his patches.

“Maritimus?”

Blue Denim grinned and nodded. “Went there last summer, man. Time of my life.”

“Me and the family went just a couple weeks ago.”

“It’s a helluva place.”

“Helluva place.”

They shared one last smile, like old friends remembering that time in that place years ago. Then, Blue Denim got off at his stop and it was only me and the Businessman.

I’ve seen young men with missing teeth playing music on their phone, unaware or in spite of headphones. I’ve seen fare arguments with screaming, cracked-out mothers-to-be. I’ve seen welfare parents off to interview at fast food jobs they couldn’t get. But, the conversation between Blue Denim and the Businessman was a different sort of interaction. Everything else on the bus was a desperate transaction. But their conversation was easy. It was intimate, soaked with the warmth of recognition. A few stops later and I was still replaying it in my mind.

Meanwhile, the businessman sat, swaying with the bus’ stops and starts while I was searching his back for something. I silently rehearsed my words and once I gathered the courage, I asked aloud the nagging question: “What’s Maritimus?”

The Businessman turned and smiled– a garish plastic thing that came with the ring of a cash register. He looked pleased to see I was eavesdropping. “It’s a little resort town on the coast,” he said. “You have kids?”

“I have a daughter.”

“How old?”

“Just turned sixteen.”

He adjusted his belt and gave me a flash of his realtor’s smile. “She’ll love it. Great place to just, you know, unwind.”

He said it as if he was indulging in an obvious innuendo. His smile flashed again with conspiratorial panache, and I found myself longing to know what knowledge was buried behind those bared teeth.

He turned back around to stare out the window and in another stop he was gone, briefcase in hand strutting importantly into a grey compound under siege by shiny new cars. His words tumbled about in my ears. Five stops later, I was surrounded by treeless lawns and cracked sidewalks. Houses painted ugly shades of yellow flanked my own, painted an ugly shade of pink. It was cracking like lizard skin in the summer sun. A part of me hoped it would all just fall off in flakes and save me the trouble. I walked up the dead grass of my sloping lawn and opened the door.

Kayla was already home and on the couch, a blanket covering her legs, her eyes glued to the flat, smooth glass of her smartphone.  She greeted me without as little as a look.

I closed the door and began the steps to our usual dance. “How was school?”

“Diddly-dank,” she said, rolling her eyes.

I closed the door and slung my bag on the chair. “I’m not stupid, Kayla. I know no one says that.”

She rolled her eyes and said, “I say it.” She then tossed her phone to the side and stretched her arms out. “What’s for dinner?”

“I don’t know, doll. We have chicken defrosted, so probably some sort of chicken.”

Kayla went to the kitchen to look at her options and I sat down. She brought me a beer, and I thanked her. She asked me if she could have one too. I told her no, and our after-school ritual survived another day.

I thought of the bus.

Blue Denim and the Businessman ran through my mind as the bitter lit my tongue. Kayla had resigned herself to chicken and was improvising a marinade. I swished the beer around my mouth, letting the bubbles invade and pop in every toothsome crevice.

I hadn’t realized how tired I was. The walls of our home,  modest to be sure, seemed to inch closer together every day. Maybe the talk of resorts wormed its way through my sense of space. I suddenly had the tangible feeling that I was missing something. As Kayla was in the kitchen, digging for ingredients, potatoes for a side, the thought grew, ballooning until it started to carry weight; a slab of concrete on my shoulders, pressing me down into the couch cushions, souring my beer… Minutes passed and it was like being stoned, I tried to chuckle quietly at my own anxiety, but levity did nothing. I had to expel it. I had to vomit it out, like a poison. I chewed on the words, till they were practically mush. Finally, I acquiesced and called to the kitchen with fateful words: “What do you think about going on a vacation?”

Kayla looked up, cocking a head out of the refrigerator and asked, “What were you thinking?”

“Some guys on the bus were talking about a place on the coast. Maritimus.”

Kayla raised a single, mocking eyebrow. “Seriously? Maritimus?”

“You’ve heard of it?”

“Jesus, Dad, like every girl at my school is rocking a Maritimus hoodie with a seal or some bullshit on it.”

“Don’t you wanna ‘rock’ one too?”

“Dad, please. Maritimus is for kids and old people.”

“I just thought it sounded fun. Good place to unwind or something. Sound of the ocean. All that jazz.”

“Its a tourist trap, dad.”

“Maybe,” I admitted. “Probably, actually. But it could be a fun one.”

Kayla dropped the chicken into a plastic bag filled with a myriad of seasonings and worcestershire sauce. She said, “Whatever,” but it was as good as ‘yes.’

That night I lay awake in my bed. My sheets were chilled and the night was still. I was tired, but I lay awake. I thought of the ocean air. Seashells. Sand. Rocky cliffs that stood noble and proud; jagged gargoyles to keep the ocean at bay. Helluva place.

I felt myself growing hard. I reached down to my thick shaft and started rubbing it up and down, at first weakly, and then faster, and then faster and harder still. At the end it didn’t even feel like flesh.

***

It was a mere two weeks before we departed. Summer break came. Vacation days were marked on the calendar.

Kayla rolled her eyes, as she was apt to do, and I understood it. Maritimus wasn’t quite cool. But, she was sitting beside me. Content to leave for the coast, to indulge in ol’ Dad’s fantasy vacation as long as her eyes were allowed to roll back and forth at will. It was a small concession.

I let her drive til we got to Portland and then I switched for the last hour. Windmills passed us faster than traffic. Grey and pregnant clouds stretched out across the sky as far as we could see. There was nothing dreary about them. The wind blew the scent of rain yet to fall.

A rustic sign of carved wood appeared on the horizon. Mountains and waterfalls and a spare elk framed Maritimus, OR, carved deeper than the rest. I rolled down the window and smelled salty air. Kayla stirred and looked up.

“Oh look. They have an iHop,” she said, pointing to a sign filled with restaurant logos.

“They also have shopping, and the ocean, and crafts, and I’m sure a lot of other stuff.”

“Tons of stuff.”

“You’re a peach, doll. Shut up and have fun.” I couldn’t help but smile when I said it. She looked like me then: looking out the windows, picking apart the seams of Maritimus, searching for disappointment.

But the air. It was sweet and salty, and suffocated my own cynicism. “Listen,” I said. “Do you hear that?”

“Nope.”

“Listen closer.”

Just over the car engine, the cutting call of peace. The ocean washing over sand, slowly eroding jagged rocks into smooth pebbles, seagulls honking for food.

Kay looked over at me and smirked, and then put her hand through my hair and tousled it, “You’re a cute kid, Dad.”

***

 

The hotel was quaint by design. It looked like an old lodge, with the outside of it covered in what I would assume were fake logs. The lobby was cavernous, with big wooden pillars holding the ceiling. On closer examination, I realized they were carved with various animals; one with a bear, another a seal, and another had a scene of salmon jumping from a stream. Another was of a native woman, eyes closed and arms crossed over her chest, a subtle smile spread across her lips.

The lady at the front desk was exuberantly friendly. So much so that on her second “You guys are going to have so much fun!,” Kayla gave me her you-have-to-be-fucking-kidding-me eyes.

The room had the same Trapper’s Lodge aesthetic as the rest of the hotel. Kayla jumped on one of the two beds. I was pleased to see she was impressed for once. “This place is huge,” she said.

“It’s nice, right?”

“Diddly-dank.”

I took that as confirmation and looked at the tourism pamphlets spread out on the night stand. “What do you wanna do first?”

She looked up at me and shrugged, “I don’t know, Dad. You’re the Maritimus expert. This is your deal.”

It was almost lunchtime, and the sun was high in the sky. The air was crisp and cool. “How about we walk down to the coast and find some place to eat?”

Kayla agreed, holding her stomach and making exaggerated claims of hunger. She freshened up and we went back downstairs, the lady at the front desk smiling broadly, giving us double thumbs up as we left out the doors.

You could hear the coast wherever you were in Maritimus. It was as omnipresent as air. You could follow it, an audible compass to due west. We saw couples holding hands, splashing their feet and running away back up the wet sand. Kayla was braver than I, dipping a sandaled toe into the ocean. She withdrew it quickly and shivered, “Shit, that’s cold.”

We heard cackling, loud and mirthful. At first I felt a pang of shame, but it dissipated as I saw they weren’t laughing at us. They appeared to be locals, seven women, of varying ages laughing to themselves at a private joke. Their clothes looked like a lighter shade of burlap. Their spot on the beach was covered in straw. One of them, a brunette about twenty years older than me, turned her head slightly and acknowledged our presence. Kayla watched them curiously as I turned the other direction.

“Let’s go get some food,” I said.

She turned after a moment, as if we hadn’t seen anyone, “Not seafood.”

“Fine. You still like burgers?”

Kayla nodded and followed along behind me, up the beach to a series of businesses that looked like seaside cottages. Gauche fish seemed to be jumping over every decal. A diner called Maritimus Maximus looked to be our best option, built around a dissonant Roman gladiator theme that also incorporated marine imagery, perhaps even more dissonantly.

“What the fuck is this place?” Kayla asked.

“Watch your language,” I whispered, “We’re in public.”

She rolled her eyes, not bothering to correct them when a waitress only a couple years older than her popped into sight.

“How are y’all doing today?” She exclaimed it almost as a declarative, like the answer was a foregone conclusion of ecstasy. She turned to Kayla and hunched over a little, who was the same height as her and said, “You spending the day with your Daddy, girlie?”

Kayla looked at me from the corner of her eyes, it was a look of panic. “Uh, yeah,” she said.

“There’s a lot of things to do in Maritimus,” she said sweetly, “But nothing’s better than hanging with your Daddy!” She then gave me a knowing wink and sat us to a table booth overlooking the beach. Kayla mouthed ‘what the fuck’ to me as soon as she left us our menus.

“Well, it looks like they have burgers.”

Kayla shook her head and giggled. I started to laugh because she looked the same as when she was an infant and I’m sure our waitress’ heart warmed, watching father and daughter have a grand time.

We both ordered burgers with tacky Roman names, each with the suffix -us and they came out quick enough that we barely had time to make conversation.

In between mouthfuls of beef, grease dripping down her chin, she asked, “Who were those women?”

“No idea,” I answered, “Probably just locals hanging out.”

“I figured locals would be bored with the shore.”

“Probably just a club or a church group or something. Why stay inside when you have the beach so close, you know?”

The waitress picked up our plates. “I hope everything was super great!”

We told her it was and I paid the bill while Kayla texted.

“Anything catch your eye?”

“I saw a row of shops and stuff on the way down to the beach, maybe tool around there,” she said casually.

“Sounds good,” I agreed, and I let her lead the way.

It was a sort-of pseudo boardwalk. The ground was planked with white wood that served as a pedestrian walkway as big as the average street, with signs warning vehicles that it was not an actual road. I stood off to the side, picking benches to sit on as Kayla wandered from gift shop to clothing shop to milk-sugar-coffee shop. I wandered into a shop called Maritimus Mercantile. A lone shopkeeper, a chipper young man with a bright face greeted me excitedly.

It was half-museum and half-tourist shop he said, self effacingly. But the deprecation was surface level. His excitement betrayed no sense of shame. There were displays of pieces of wood, ships that sailed a long time ago, when Maritimus was a port on the way to Canada and beyond, a strategic fuel stop that faded into a resort town as ships became more advanced as well as anachronistic. A tribal headdress was on the wall, displayed like the head of a hunter’s kill. Maritimus boasted kind and progressive treatment of the native population back when such tolerance wasn’t in vogue. White settlers and natives exchanged culture and assimilated evenly and quickly. These facts were presented typed and printed, framed by red construction paper under an ancient photograph of men, women, and children, both native and settlers, smiling together arm-in-arm.

“We have a very rich history,” said the young man behind my back.

“Yeah,” I said. “Looks like it.”

I heard the door chime ring a set of ascending notes and turned to see Kayla with an iced coffee in hand.

“Whatcha looking at?” She asked.

“Oh, you know. Just checking out the local history.”

She nudged me in the side and she said, “Guess who I saw?”

“Who?”

“Those ladies in the weird brown dresses. They were walking around and I said ‘hi.’”

“Yeah?”

“They’re part of some sort of local committee, apparently we hit Maritimus during festival season.”

“What kind of festival?”

“C’mon, Dad. I thought you were reading up on the local history? We’re celebrating the day the town was established.”

“Oh, cool.”

She shrugged, as if not wanting to come off as too excited, “Well, yeah, a little. They invited me to go along with them and check out the town.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah,” she said, circling to the point, “Can I go?”

I thought a moment. I said, “Sure,” but I wasn’t sure I meant it. I turned to the shopkeeper, who was adjusting a painting of Maritimus of olde, and asked, “What’s the story with the festival?”

He beamed at the question. “It’s a celebration. Of community and persistence, along with everything that makes Maritimus, well, Maritimus!”

“See?”

“Do you know the women who are involved in the planning?”

He cocked his head robotically, “Oh? You mean Becky, Sue, Rachel, Erin, Gertrude, Olivia, and Willow? Yes, of course! Wonderful women, all of them. Very knowledgable of the area. All of them have keys to the city, well, practically. They are the folks that keep Maritimus as a place families can be themselves and relax! Bearers of the old ways, I’d say!” He laughed aloud at his rhyme.

“Alright,” I said to Kayla, “Just meet me at the hotel for dinner.”

Kayla agreed and gave me a peck on the cheek. Soon I was left alone with the sun, the sea, and the feverish keeper of the gift shop.

***

 

Maritimus was a good place to unwind, I decided. I laid on the beach, which was cool, but warm enough with the sun I didn’t mind. I read a book and breathed in the air. Down the sand, I saw other tourists, similarly complacent and relaxed. Another father, a little older than me, held his daughter in one arm, and his wife in the other. They laughed together as they watched a crab scuttle past.

I rolled over and closed my eyes, listening for the sound of rolling eternity. The laughing was too loud though, so I turned back and opened my eyes. The man looked at me and winked, then kissed his wife on the lips, long and hard. And then, without a second thought, turned to his daughter and did the same. All three looked at me and giggled.

I sat up, unnerved. Curious and sick. But they didn’t come to greet me. They turned away and continued to laugh, heading back to the center of town. I tried to push it out of my mind and watch the ocean lapping like a hungry tongue at the sand.

And then out of nowhere came a voice. “You enjoying Maritimus so far?”

I jumped, startled, then turned to see an old man in a white shirt and straw fedora standing behind me. He smiled broadly and offered a hand to shake. “Yes,” I said, “I am.”

He had a short white beard and shiny white teeth. When I took his hand, I also realized he was wearing white cotton shorts.

“My name is Emmett Grover– I’m the mayor.”

“Of Maritimus?”

“No other,” he said with a grin. “I like to check in personally on our guest’s good time.”

His face stared back at me expectantly, daring me to be unsettled, to be anything but relaxed and happy. “I’m having a great time,” I said.

“Just wait for the festival,” he whispered conspiratorially, “It only gets better. I like to think of Maritimus as the ultimate resort town. And you know what makes it special?” He opened his arms, as if the town behind him was his to display, “Authenticity. Locals and tourists understand Maritimus intrinsically, because it is real. There’s no fakery, no plastic tourism. It’s a real town. A place like this, a place where a man can unwind, is good for the soul, you know? It helps you shed layers. Here, on the beach, with the sand, and the water, you become the real you.”

“You don’t need to sell me.”

“Ha! Ha! Of course not, dear sir! Of course not! You enjoy your time in Maritimus, and let us know if we can help you with anything.”

And with that, he ran off, hooting and hollering up the beach, like an excited child.

***

 

Through a mouthful of marbles, Kayla gargled up the words, “Now, Dad, don’t be mad.”

I was going to say, “Why would I be mad?,” but then she opened her mouth. In the center of her tongue was a diamond stud, shining white under the hotel room’s lamplight. I said, “Holy shit,” instead.

Kayla explained as best she could, around her swollen tongue. “I’ve always wanted one and Becky said carpe diem.”

In the face of my daughter’s tongue piercing, words escaped me. “Dad, stop looking at me like that. It comes right out,” she said as she played with the sharp rock, “But not for another month. It needs to heal.”

Her eyes glistened with tears, but she wasn’t upset. She looked at me like I was a pathetic little kid, or an out of touch old man. Maybe there wasn’t that much of a difference. She told me she loved me and that it’d be okay, rubbing a smooth hand across my face. “It’s Maritimus, Dad. Relax. Let’s just have a good time.”

I had that same numb sick feeling from the beach. It never left. The air just magnified it. The dissonance. Nevertheless, I sat numbly on the bed and accepted her words as truth. She brushed a soft hand across my face, and held my head against her chest, like she could see and feel my unease; softly whispering that everything was okay, that everything was good. That Maritimus would bring us closer together. She turned off the light and took off my shirt, and then took off her own and tucked me into bed. She laid beside me, warm and soft and young. And soon, we were both asleep.

 

***

 

The sun dodged through blinds and carried with it the warm glow of a new day. Kayla was snuggled up in the crook of my arm. She woke up looking at me, with her big eyes and long lashes, an affectionate smile on her lips. I struggled with the intimacy for a moment and then it dissipated when she yawned and everything started to feel normal.

“I slept so good,” she said. Her diamond tongue refracted light, a lighthouses swinging beam on the rocks of a dangerous shore.. I couldn’t help but think, in the early morning light, that it completed her though. Like a natural extension of her personality, a real-life gemstone joined to flesh.

She swayed her hips and yawned once more on the way to the bathroom. I was rock hard. Ready to explode. With her out of sight, I was overwhelmingly tempted to self-pleasure.

I shook my head and closed my eyes, burying my face into the pillow for a little longer, feigning sleep.

“Anything I can help you with, Dad?”

Did I imagine how she said it?

I shifted my head, my erection burying itself into the bedspread, leaking like a pubescent boy. She was standing, fully dressed, a half-smile, possibly a knowing half-smile, on her lips. “Like coffee or something?”

“Sure,” I said. And she was out the door. I followed her footsteps down the hall, lightly tapping out an arcane rhythm. I held the blankets close.

By the time she got back, I was dressed again. I was composed. I was her father and she was my daughter. I made peace with her piercing, and briefly told her to ask me next time she made a big decision. I drank coffee from a paper cup and we wandered out to the lobby. Everything felt like a dream, like it was floating on Maritimus’ salty air. We were light, nearly weightless, and on the horizon, past the ocean on one side, and the mountains on the other, I was sure there was nothing else but where we were right then.

“Look alive, Dad. It’s Maritimus Day!”

And then as soon as we exited the hotel lobby there were the women in burlap: Becky, Sue, Rachel, Erin, Gertrude, Olivia, and Willow. And in the center of them, in white cotton from head to toe was Emmett Grover. His mouth was a wide open ‘o’ of excitement, as if he and the committee had just taken a walk, right up to the doors of our hotel and that running into us was but a happy coincidence.

“Oh dear! Look who it is!”

Kayla waved to the ladies and stuck out her tongue, showing her diamond. One of them, a raven-haired woman of about forty-five beamed and said, “It looks beautiful. What do you think, Dad?”

Without thinking, I said, “It is very becoming.”

The raven-haired woman winked at me and I felt exposed and disgusted.

Emmett Grover’s teeth were as white as the rest of him, they showed when he spoke. “Why don’t you all join us for the rest of the day? A first hand tour of the freedom and family values that runs to the very core of Maritimus.”

“That sounds lovely, Mr. Grover,” Kayla said. I didn’t know how she knew his name.

She grabbed my hand in hers and pulled me along as the group moved down towards the ocean. Grover and the women, who only spoke to correct him on the minutia of the town’s history, led us to the water. Overnight a carnival had been erected, straw had been formed with twine into the shape of men, themselves arranged in a triangle. Each had a phallus made of sticks, denoting their sex. At the high point of the triangle was the sole female figure, twine binding the straw into a curvaceous figure. Between the three points, was a pedestal.

“Authenticity! Honesty! With yourself and your neighbor! Love!” Emmett Grover raved. “That is what Maritimus is about.”

He turned to no one in particular and shouted: “Soon the shackles will be lifted!”

Others were gathering, following the siren song of the carnival. Kayla ran off into the crowd leaving me with little but my thoughts and discomfort.

The crowd was swelling as conversations turned to a wave of indistinguishable static. Emmett Grover was running pell-mell through the crowd, and I could hear his voice piercing above it all. “The transference of power! Our deepest temptations turned to our greatest memories! Maritimus is good! Maritimus is great!” He reminded me of those old movie posters, with giant radioactive cockroaches and a strong-jawed leading man. “Romance! Thrills! The Greatest Spectacle on the Silver Screen!”

From here, things only got stranger.

The beach was packed, the faux-boardwalk was packed. The entire population of the town was gathering for the festival. I was being pushed along to the triangle. Emmett Grover was on the pedestal. The women, Kayla included, were hauling giant sacks of burlap, the same as the women’s dresses. The fabric darkened where the wet soaked through. They dumped a small furry body at one tip of the triangle. I squinted and saw that it was a young black bear, mouth slung lazily open. At another was the slick, wet, gray body of a seal, blood oozing from the concave hammer blow atop its skull. Finally, they reached the last point and dumped a bag of silver and asphyxiated salmon. Kayla turned to me and waved and then took one of the salmon and ripped it open with her teeth. She held it up in the air and the town erupted in cheers. A hundred pink eggs fell into her open mouth and she mashed them with relish. Her pink lips held a thousand promises.

I gagged on my questions– the who’s and the what’s and the when’s stopped in my throat. I was numb, and then I was shocked, then revolted, then– most strangely– I felt–

My eyes turned to the mayor.

Emmett Grover stripped off his clothes with aplomb and produced a knife in which to slice the seal jaw to fin.

(Kayla)

He pulled out big bloody-white handfuls of blubber, rubbing it up and down his naked body. The women were skinning the bear.

(My beautiful daughter)

Before long one of them, the youngest, was wearing the skin. And through it all, children sat in the ferris wheel, laughing and pointing, cotton candy crystals hanging to their chin.

 

It was night time. I don’t know where the time went, but miraculously, the sunlight became torchlight and I was naked like the rest of them. Maritimus was alive with energy. The perfect little town. The ultimate resort. Helluva place.

Kayla was leading me to the pedestal. I suddenly remembered watching the other men go up, giving their penance in exchange for dreams. The young girl in the bear skin was already in the water. It was a lovely display, I remembered. Emmett Grover was standing behind a teenage girl with bird-like legs stretched out, gyrating hungrily into her ass. The whole beach smelled of a different sort of salt. Of flesh and sweat and sickly-sweet lust. Everyone was doing it, I realized. The older women were applauding and offering advice and commendations, the younger were paired with sometimes two-to-four men, three to four times their age.

Kayla took me by the hand. I was scared, and she knew it. She put her lips to my ear and told me it would be okay. Grover was raving, madder than ever, his body glistening with the seal fat, the girl in his hands face twisted in wretched pain. He wasn’t speaking English. Some forbidden portmanteau of syllables, a curious patois that everyone seemed to understand but me. I stared out at the ocean and was sure it was staring back.

I stood on the pedestal and Kayla kissed me deeply. She held me by my hips and suddenly I didn’t care that we were being watched. Her diamond tongue clinked against my teeth and I was hard again. Thirsty for her touch, ready to take it if need be. But when she broke her kiss, I knew there would be no need for taking. It was the inherent promise of a resort: transcendence from means, weeknight dreams made weekend reality. Her eyes said it all. And it was all for a price.

I was happy to pay it.

I was naked. She took me in her mouth, bobbing her head. The same head that kissed me on the cheek when she was a little girl. That giggled when I gave her raspberries on her four year old belly. She was a woman now, and she was finally mine. Running her diamond tongue back and forth along my shaft, slicing my most precious skin. Tendons and vessels shredded. Years from now I would delight in my disfigurement.

I made good on the promise sixteen years in the making. Blood and semen washed over my daughter’s diamond tongue.

Maritimus grew and shrank in my vision, swelling as I did. Wilting as I was. Kayla stood up and let me taste her lips.

The women took her body to the water and let her sink as I assumed they had done so many other times. The ocean roared and for a moment I thought I saw something rise out of its waters, but my knees were weak and I just wanted to lay on the sand. I saw her diamond shine from beneath the ocean. The other women tended to my shredded member, sucking the last bit of life from me, healing me of my weakness. I turned to see hundreds of glinting diamonds in the dark crowd, nearer to me I saw dozens of scarred genitals and the smiles of their happy owners. They gave me knowing winks and I felt elated to be so acknowledged.

An amalgam of animals rose out of the sea, eyes gleaming green, with my daughter in its arms. Emmett Grover said that this was Maritimus’ very own Director of Tourism. Its mouth was hungry for dread dreams, he said.

Kayla was awake. I was dripping out her mouth. The other girl too, bear skin still draped over her shoulders. He laid them down on the beach. When they came to, they began to kiss. The crowd cheered. “Another hundred years of seaside tourism!” “We’ve been saved!” “Print more hoodies! More posters! More everything! Maritimus is here to stay!”

Emmett Grover pulled us together in a big, naked hug. He smelled of sex and carrion. He handed us a big burlap sack, filled with sweaters and T-Shirts, calendars and trucker hats– all emblazoned with the town’s name.

Everything was soft and the world shifted lazily. I hugged my daughter and she hugged me back. We told him we couldn’t wait for next year and he laughed a deep laugh and slapped me joyously across my back as giving eyes from the ocean twinkled like diamonds in an old and forbidden rough.

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Deadman’s Tome is a growing horror zine that publishes horror short stories and horror flash fiction. The online magazine publishes dark and gritty content from professional horror writers, Bram Stoker award nominated horror authors, along with talented newcomers of the horror writing craft. Deadman’s Tome features chilling, terrifying horror shorts ranging from ghost stories, zombie invasions, bigfoot sightings, monster horror, and even horror erotica. Deadman’s Tome is one of the best online horror zines to publish horror short stories, horror flash fiction, and dark flash fiction. The darker the tale the better. If you enjoyed the story, or even if you didn’t, leave a comment below as it helps the horror authors.

 

Owner of Dedman Productions, a small production company that focuses on bringing entertainment in both fiction and film.

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