horror fiction by Red Lagoe
They call it a blood moon. I’d always been a fan, but Tad said there wasn’t nothing bloody about it. Big fat disappointment is what he called it. He said his face turns that shade of red when he bears down for a shit.
Why’d he have to go and say that? Now I gotta wonder for the rest of my life why he was lookin at himself shitting. It’s not like I can ask him now though. Our date didn’t go as planned and he’s dead in the ditch, impaled on the biggest jagged branch I’ve ever seen. Blood leaks from his chest and back, seeping into his pants, probably dripping down around his junk and into his butt crack. Too bad I didn’t think of it back before he lost consciousness, I could’ve said, “How’s that for a blood moon?” Like a cheesy one-liner in an action movie.
I almost laugh, but I catch my gasping breath. Hands trembling, blood drips from the tips of my cold fingers. An even colder heart struggles to pump blood through its chambers. I never know what to say or do in the moment when tensions are as high as his raised fist. I’d never said something so witty to his face…I don’t even have the courage to turn around and say it to his dumb, dead face.
I had asked for one thing for Valentine’s Day, and I don’t never ask for nothin. All I wanted was to drive out and see the eclipse where the trees weren’t so tall. A Valentine’s Day eclipse. It don’t get more romantic than that. We parked on the side of the road and watched it disappear chunk by chunk until it turned red. Then, Tad got ornery about something…Hell, I don’t even know what lit his fuse this time.
Overhead, the ruddy red glow of the eclipsed moon follows me as I walk home. Despite what happened tonight, I try to focus on the memory of watching the way the full moon got eaten by the earth’s shadow. Like someone took a nibble, then a bigger nibble, and after bigger and bigger mouths chomped away at it, the damn thing turned red. Like all those bites made it bleed. But it wasn’t that red. Maybe Tad was right—it’s not the color of blood. No. I’ve seen enough blood tonight to know better.
Tremoring hands wipe scarlet onto my jeans as I stare upon the moon, wondering why she’s that shade of red. Maybe the moon is blushing. It’s funny to think of the moon as some bashful tease. Turning pink and hiding behind the shadow of the earth…
No. She ain’t blushing neither.
She’s scared. Terrified. And she should be.
If you look close—I mean real close, like telescope close—you can see all the craters. Divots and scars marring every bit of her surface. I saw a science show on it once. It’s from constant pummeling of asteroids eon after eon. And where it looks dark and flat, you think, maybe…maybe that part’s okay. Maybe she’s never been hurt there. But that ain’t the case. That’s just the part where the lava flowed out and burned away her wounds, creating ginormous new ones. Such massive swaths of gray that it looks like a natural part of her landscape. How peaceful it is.
Who’d believe otherwise?
Who’s gonna believe that I got hit so many times, and cried so damn hard for so long, my tears turned to lava and encrusted me in a layer of rock? An impenetrable surface that from the outside looked gray, flat, calm. Perfectly normal. Peaceful. Beautiful.
But I know the history lying beneath. Years of abuse. Bite after bite after bite until there’s nothing left. Nothing but some bleeding, scared little pebble in the vast emptiness of Nobody-gives-a-shit.
And then I cracked open and released something from inside I didn’t know was there.
He didn’t see it coming. Hell, I didn’t even see it coming.
I cowered at first. Then instead of taking one more hit, one more crater, one more bite, I unleashed a fury. The struggle is a blur, and I worry they ain’t gonna believe me if I can’t recall exactly what happened. They’re gonna want proof that he attacked first. That he had been this way for years, hurtling asteroid after asteroid. Yet there was no sign of it. Who’s gonna believe this rock-hard bitch with no visible scars? They don’t believe the moon when she tells her story—even when it’s written all over her face. No, they say Look how beautiful. Look how bright. And they turn away before seeing the truth.
My tears dry. Blood soaked hands are wiped almost clean. A ruddy red color remains on my skin. Stained. Stupid Tad…I told him it was called a blood moon for a reason.
A sliver of stark white glows on the edge as the moon eases out of eclipse. She shines, leaving the shadow of earth, shedding light on my path away from him. I let my cold heart warm to the thought of living out of the path of assault. I’m gonna wash away these blood stains, tell my truth, and shine like the moon… whether they believe me or not.