Nasty, Brutish, and Short
Evil Flash Fiction by Patrick M. Tracy


By Patrick M. Tracy

Vera, Chuck, and Dave held the demon’s arms as I pressed the concrete cutter’s blade against its torso and revved the Husqvarna as high as it would spin. The creature’s scream dwarfed the sound of the saw, and I could feel the wetness of blood trickle down my neck as one of my eardrums burst. The armor parted, and I was into the flesh below after twenty seconds. The demon’s blood and tissue blew outward from the wound, having the consistency and coloration of apple sauce. It smelled like rotten chicken and burning feathers.

Sawing it in half calmed it down a little, but the bastard wouldn’t die. In the eleventh year of the war, we’d started to see stuff like that. They’d gotten tired of us mowing down their weaker troops, and finally started sending in the big muscle. Things had looked pretty grim for us, but we’d adapted. That’s what you do. Adapt or perish. Those of us on the line then, having seen years of war, were pretty inured to most of it, but when we had to do this, and it was happening more every year, it was still a shitty day.

It was only after sawing the head and arms off that the demon really began to hold still, with only the rare muscular action in the hands and the still-open and glaring eyes showing that it wasn’t dead. Unlike you see sometimes on a movie, things can’t talk when their heads are removed. No lungs to pump the air, even if they’re somehow alive. Like our demon here.

I had to stop for a minute. My shop safety glasses were so spattered with blood that it was hard to see, and my arms were shivering from leaning so hard on the concrete cutter. I looked at the blade. It was dull as a marble. “Shit,” I groaned. “Make sure those parts don’t start wriggling back together, huh?”

Vera nodded. They pulled the arms and torso well apart from the legs and head. I’d have to go through the pubic bone to get the legs apart, and that wouldn’t be a walk in the park. I’d need to change blades, maybe twice.

In another twenty minutes, I’d managed to disarticulate the two legs from each other and crack the chest cavity. The stink in the warehouse was making it tough to breath. Whatever demon innards were made of, they were nasty. I was exhausted, soaked with sweat and blood and demon filth. It was starting to get like this too often. It wasn’t my job. It wasn’t Vera’s, Chuck’s, or Dave’s, either.

I had limited energy to rail against it, though. As the saying goes, “It is what it is.”

“Vera, get the boxes. Guys, get the rock salt. I’ll drag the chain and spikes in.”

We had six boxes made from scavenged wood from pallets. They looked pretty iffy, but they’d hold as long as they had to. Long enough to get them down into the sub basement, anyway. After that, it was not our problem anymore.

Dave poured in a base layer of salt, then we hoisted each demon segment into the boxes. After pouring the rest of the salt over the top of each dismembered piece, I nailed the box tops on with long spikes, and we wrapped each one up with as much steel chain as we could fit on in one layer.

“That’ll do,” Vera said. “Let’s get ‘em on the cart.”

The torso box was unbearably heavy, and the four of us could barely hoist it, but we managed to get it on there. It took three trips to get all of the parts onto the dumbwaiter. We threw the door closed and hit the button. The sound of the whirring motor as the dumbwaiter descended filled the alcove at the side of the warehouse. As we waited for the confirmation that it had gotten to its destination, we started to kick out of the clothes we’d been wearing. They’d all need to go into the incenerator, and we’d have to spend an hour in the shower with industrial soap to get the smell off. By the time the panel lit up green, most of us were down to our bare skin. Vera’d been shy the first time, with her two brothers around, but you got to the point when you just didn’t care. We’d all been long past that point for months.

We gathered our clothes and fed them to the fire, trudging to the showers. Whatever happened to the remains down in the sub basement, we didn’t know. I swear that we didn’t. It would have been a luckier world by far, had we never found out.



By Patrick M. Tracy

“You bit me,” Charlene said, holding her shoulder where Ted’s teeth had pressed down hard, almost enough to draw blood.

“These things happen,” Ted said with a whimsical shrug. “You know how it is.”

Charlene backed away.

“I don’t, Ted. You’d better tell me.”

It was important to keep him talking while she assessed his level of threat and decided how to respond. She should have never let Gina set her up with a blind date. She knew better. Gina had terrible taste in men.

“I bite girls to death. It’s sorta my thing.” Ted’s eyes were lit with a lunatic’s gleam as he approached, his hands outstretched as if he needed a hug.

“Not tonight.” There was a muffled pop. Ted stopped, touching his chest where the blood churned out, already wetting him to the belt line.

That new silencer worked pretty well.


By Patrick M. Tracy

Before being displaced in time, Sam had been a pipefitter on a steam ship. The Claudia Jane had been her name, though she had not been a graceful ship, as the name might imply. No, she’d been an awkward hog of a vessel, with twin side wheels churning and blunt bow slowly pushing through the water. The tiny berth he’d shared with another man, a laconic Finn who tended to eat only pickled herring and hard tack, and been a loud, roaring box of steel buried in the steerage compartments.

Sam would sometimes lie awake and think of the noises the Claudia Jane used to make. Sleep was often a long time in coming anymore, and those memories of another time, another self, would sometimes sooth him and take his mind away from the irregular beating of his heart. His hands folded on his breast like the coffin-filler he would soon become, he would look up at the acoustic tiles, still half amazed that it was nineteen ninety-four, and that he had lived far longer in this time frame than his own native one, which he’d been wrenched out of in eighteen sixty seven and pulled almost a hundred years into the future.

It was far too late to consider the fact that he should not have picked up that silvery artifact he found in the dead man’s hands, or that the man himself hadn’t looked quite right…no, that was all rarefied and cooked out of him, leaving an old man much like any other. His story had but one wrinkle, really, and one that he’d never shared with another soul.

Sam had gone to work at the Lever Brothers factory soon after he arrived, feigning limited English for a time to keep the questions to a minimum. Thirty years he’d labored in the serpentine pipes of the giant soap factory, a hulking landbound equivalent to the Claudia Jane, another hot, loud, dark place for men like him to pay out their rent on earth.

He’d read a story once, supposedly literature, about a man becoming an insect. He imagined that it was supposed to be a symbolic thing, a metaphor, but he had truly been a beetle, scurrying around in the bowels of the vast equipment of humanity, unknown and nameless. For Sam, who’d been an insect, the story was different, somehow more revolting. There was no mystery about men becoming insects. The mystery was how to become human, how to ascend from the dark, scuttling warren of all that takes place below society’s notice. It was a mystery that he’d never had any luck in solving, and his time was nearly done. All of life remained an unknown thing to him, a daylight world only guessed at by denizens of a cave.

His heart was not well. Sam had been to see specialists whose titles had been difficult to comprehend or pronounce these last two years. None of them had smiled, cracked his knuckles, and gotten to work solving the problem. Unlike the pipes and valves in a factory or a ship, the inner workings of a human were not easily mended with a craftsman’s hand, a welding torch, and an assortment of wrenches. No, this off rhythm, this racing and juddering of his heart, it wasn’t something that could be put to rights. At least, not by any knowledge humanity currently possessed. It was all right. He had experienced his time. Two times, two lives separated by one unknowable chasm. While he may have made no headway in understanding what it is to be human, very few could claim to have done any different. Now it had come to this, and the man on the threshold, who had opened the locked door and come in without a sound or a word.

“I thought you might come,” Sam said. He wasn’t surprised to see the figure at the door, dressed in clothes that weren’t quite right, but made the effort. Even in the gloom, he wasn’t quite a perfect duplicate of the dead man from ‘67, but very nearly so. Something from the same mold, though with slightly different air gaps and tailings, so to speak.

The man stepped closer, standing over Sam, a quizzical expression on his face. “It took a lot of effort to find you. I’m glad you only used the device once.”

“I could have used it again?”

The stranger, the alien, nodded. “It had the energy to make eleven jumps, maybe twelve.”

Sam wasn’t afraid. What would a dying man be afraid of? “I didn’t know. I don’t know how I made it–do what it did–the first time. Where would I have gone? Back to where I left off?”

The stranger gave a sardonic smile. “This one doesn’t do that. It doesn’t…go back, as you’d see it.”

“Ah, well. I didn’t have a bad life, I suppose. I did enjoy the television, and the jazz music.”

“Jazz, yes. Many of us appreciate that movement. Television is…dependent upon temporal concerns, though. Often, it isn’t broadly applicable.”

“You’re here for the device, then?”

The stranger nodded. “I hope you still have it.”

“In the top drawer, next to my watches. I’ve never said a word, never told anyone.”

The stranger stood at the bureau, facing away. “We know. We appreciate that you’ve…as they say in this time, carried the water for us all this time. Ah, here it is.”

“I’ve always wondered one thing,” Sam said.

The stranger turned around, holding the device in his hands carefully, like an egg.

“Did I foul anything up, doing what I did?”

The stranger shrugged. “It’s hard to tell. Maybe you were meant to take the relocator. If you changed things, there’d be no real way to find out. The continuum is a tricky thing.”

Sam lay back, his heart beating like a monkey on the drums. The stranger nodded once more, pressed a button on the device, and vanished. A loop of rope had stood open for a long time, narrowing with the years. Now, it closed. Sam closed his eyes, letting himself fall asleep. He didn’t think he’d wake up this time, and that was, perhaps, as it should be.