Credit: Painting by Joseph Mooney
by Stephen Queen
It was day. Alex Kistler brought the last of his moving boxes into his new apartment. Caleb had helped him with the couch and heavier furniture earlier. There was a closet right by the front door which he hadn't noticed when the property manager showed him the place.
Bonus!, he thought to himself with a smile. He hung his one winter coat in there, rolled his vacuum cleaner in as well, and called it a night. When he woke the next day he set everything up and organized his new place. After that he went for the vacuum but upon opening the closet, he was surprised to find it completely empty. No vacuum. No coat.
I could have sworn I put those things in here, he thought.
But Alex was constantly misplacing and losing things, and dismissed the confusion as his mind playing tricks on him as a side effect of heavy marijuana use. He left for his night time job. He came home late that night and decided to throw his three pairs of sneakers into the closet by the door, out of the way of everything. He went to bed. When he went to put his sneakers on the next day he found the closet completely empty. This not only shocked Alex, but angered him. He searched every inch of his apartment and car, but found no sneaker, vacuum or coat.
"What the fuck is going on?!" he shouted as he kicked at the air. He was quite embarrassed going into the "Shoe Show" with only socks on his feet to buy new shoes. That night, before bed he put his Monopoly board game into the closet, as an experiment. The next morning - empty closet. He inspected the closet for some loose panel or trapdoor. Nothing. He made a video with his phone of him putting some old clothes into the closet, and videoed the opening of the empty closet the next day. But all of his friends that he showed thought it was a lame, unthought-out joke. He couldn't prove that he didn't empty the closet himself.
He put nothing in the closet for a week. This is when Alex was greeted by friendly, hungry, stray cat. He gained the cat's trust with a bowl of milk and managed to wrangle the cute little feline into his apartment. That night he put the cat into the closet with a bowl of milk.
The next day he hurried to the closet door. He pulled the door open to see a strange landscape as far as the eye could see, with no sky. It was dimly lit by what seemed like a red fire. In the distance, he could see human figures being mutilated and torn apart by horrific creatures that were certainly not of this world. He couldn't believe his eyes, and tried to shut the door, but that's when a clawed hand as big as Alex's head reached from inside the doorway and clutched his neck. The hideous, goat-like, horned head that he saw next spoke to him in a low-pitched voice that sounded like an animal speaking English.
"We've been waiting for you."
And then Alex was pulled in, and the closet door shut behind him.
THE END...But not for Alex.
A Painting of Satan
by Stephen Queen
It was day. The sun shone on a painting of Satan. It wasn't a particularly good painting, yet there it hung on Bill's wall. This was the first painting he had ever purchased, and how could he pass it up at the hilarious price of $6.66 at the J and J flea market just an hour earlier.
It was a funny little story to tell his co-workers at the very least. The painting was quite huge and heavy. The frame wood had some heft to it. Bill thought it looked cool next to his tall grandfather clock he had inherited years ago.
While still standing in admiration of his latest purchase, Bill heard his roommate, Seth, come through the front door of their apartment.
"Check it out, Seth!", Bill yelled with both hands raised in what they referred to as 'devil horns'.
"Holy shit! That's awesome!"
"Yeah, I got it for $6.66 at J and J!"
"Hahaha! Let me get a pic of you in front of it to show everyone how big it is!"
So Bill pulled his phone out.
Seth gave his best smile; as Bill looked through his phone screen, the painting dropped from the wall, and when it hit the floor, the thick glass on the grandfather clock shattered. Startled by the sounds, Seth spun around just in time to have a plank-sized piece of broken glass fall across his wrist. Blood spayed like a sprinkler all over the apartment.
Bill made a fine tourniquet, but Seth was still pronounced "Dead On Arrival" at the hospital. Detectives told Bill that they needed to bring the broken, bloody glass to the lab as it was standard procedure. A shocked Bill asked with all sincerity, "Shouldn't you guys take the painting too?", because in the several times he told the detectives what had happened, he tried to emphasize that the painting itself was what caused the freak accident.
But the detectives just laughed and said, "We'll be in touch if we need anything else, Mr. Cochran." They snickered as they left the apartment. Bill decided then that he would throw this painting in the dumpster first thing in the morning. He cleaned up as much blood as he could until he was exhausted and went to bed.
That night everyone in the entire apartment building burned to death. By sunrise, the firefighters had put out the last of the flames. There was nothing left of the structure, just black, smoldering heaps of destruction. The crowd and firemen gazed in awe at the heart of the rubble where, laying face up, unburnt and unscathed, was a painting of Satan.