Short story from Robert Ragan

Author Robert Ragan


She denounced the darkness and ever since Kristen has been on edge, the type to turn on everyone.

Her buddy, Brad, messages to ask about some loud smoke and as if she were a decent person. Kristen warned him not to call her phone asking about dope anymore. He brushes his dreadlocks away from his eyes with tarnished rings around his fingers. Brad looks at his phone like who the fuck does this bitch think she is?

Kristen was never decent, a two-faced wave rider. It was rumored that she literally sold her soul to the devil for crack cocaine. So the murder she was rumored to be a part of could have been a blood sacrifice. All jokes aside, she was a piece of shit for a person. But like clockwork every couple of months she swears she’s about to change her ways and give her life to the Lord.

Her brittle hair has been dyed black to death. A look of mild retardation in her eyes should tell anyone not to take her seriously. Yet, those brown eyes received so many compliments. Those full of shit brown eyes break so many hearts. The hearts of lovesick weaklings dreaming of tradition with someone who always worships the latest fad.

Kristen likes to tell people she’s haunted. Always some ghost who wouldn’t be caught dead in her flea-ridden shack. During these times she believes in nonsense but ask her about God and she’ll say He doesn’t exist. Then catch her in a month or two shouting out Amen and Hallelujah. Maybe falling out cold as a preacher touches her forehead in a Pentecostal Church.

Recently, Brad and a few of her other friends have been talking. Apparently they’re worried about Kristen, saying, “She’s been acting more strange than usual.”

A longtime friend of hers, named Tracy, tells Brad and their buddy, Tim, how Kristen has been slicing her arms with razor blades again. Tim throws his hands up shaking his head he says to Brad, “Remember the bitch telling me I was stupid for burning myself with cigarettes?”

Brad looks in his eyes and says, “You were stupid for doing that.” Then turning to Tracy, he looks her up and down from her light blonde hair to her toe nails painted bright pink. The three of them have been friends with Kristen ever since high school, where the four of them were branded as outcasts.

Looking at Tracy now you would never expect her to hang out with any of them.

Tim tosses back his own locks, forever trying to keep up with Brad; he plans on getting dreads too. Taking drags off a blunt he says, “Last I heard Kristen was shacking up with some convict fresh off the yard.” Smirking Brad says, “That lasted about a month, she called and told me dude tried to strangle her.”

Tracy’s eyes glow devious as they glance from Brad to Tim. Shrugging, her tanned shoulders revealed by a yellow tank top she says, “You know Kristen probably told him to choke her while they fucked.”

Pulling his dreads back in a ponytail, Brad then lights a cigarette. Exhaling smoke through his nostrils he says, “Last time I talked to her she was begging me to find some crack, ice…anything.”

Tracy, with a voice of judgement says, “Don’t tell me you went and found the shit for her.” Snapping back quick Brad answers, “Hell no! I told her to fuck off. I said it because the time before that she told me not to ever call her phone about dope anymore and I was just looking for weed.”

These friends part ways. Each of them are saddened by the way Kristen’s life turned out. Suffering from bipolar disorder ruined her destiny. They would all like to help her but the older Kristen gets the worse she loses her mind and now she won’t accept their help. On her spiritual kick only God can save her. Back sliding into damnation only the dope man can save her.

When her brain is frozen it usually makes the ghosts go away. But just the other night, Kristen saw the mouth of the Abyss open wide and swallow all those Spirits whole. Afterwards a calm voice followed telling her to find the skull with her fingers. Visions of her pulling, stretching, and eventually ripping off her own eyelids flashed in her mind faster than sharp lightning. Blood filled her eyes running over on her puffy cheeks.

She screamed and came to in front of the mirror pulling and stretching her eyelids. Thankfully, she stopped before ripping them all the way off.

Her mind has always been a home for evil. Well now she knows her thoughts are playing for keeps. It’s the worst time of her life and she has no friends or family to rely on. During brief moments of clarity, Kristen realizes she pushed them all away. Most times, she’s forgotten about it and cries their name as her tormentors prevail.

Just the other night she woke up unable to move. Looking down, she sees her body is covered with large black spiders. As she screams, one of them crawled in her mouth and began forcing its way down her throat.

In the corner of her bedroom shadows dance on the wall. Pleased by Kristen’s agony, they’ve destroyed great lives but here they only toy with the useless. She invited them in and this time they won’t leave.

The razor blades in toxic images shred all the way to her bones. Kristen feels compelled to face her own skeleton, take a tour of the prison that was her. Thankfully, the actual cuts never reach a vein. If duct tape doesn’t hold it together, it’s the afterlife or the crazy house.

All of her friends talk shit about her. Too weak to follow along the path they were blessed with, she carries on an ancient curse. It lives in her blood, bashing Kristen with her own bones. And she’s terrified of meeting the skull powered by the shadows.

Robert Ragan from Lillington, NC lives his life for art and writing. He has stories and poetry online at Vext Magazine, Outlaw Poetry, The Dope Fiend Daily, The Rye Whiskey Review, Drinkers Only, Under The Bleachers, Cajun Mutt Press, Punk Noir Magazine, Synchronized Chaos, Terror House Magazine, and Rust Belt Review, Horror Sleeze Trash. Alien Buddha Press has published his short story collection Mannequin Legs and Other Tales. 

Short story from Robert Ragan

Bag Lunch

Robert Ragan, young white man with a sweater and glasses and pen

Robert Ragan

Do you ever get tired of seeing those bums with signs saying, “Will work for food?”

Benny was fucking sick of it. He knew all about their little schemes. Maybe just maybe they really wanted food. But not a damn one of them really wanted to work for it.

Benny even knew how they thought. Saying you were willing to work looked better to the public than having a sign flat out asking for money.

Standing on a median in the middle of busy traffic they never figured anyone would offer them a job.

Benny had his own small-time remodeling business, so he decided to put this theory to the test

First thing on a bright Monday morning, Richard was on the move. He had made a cool new sign out of pieces of Carl Berry’s cardboard box.

The poor guy lost his only home to heavy winds and rain. With a black marker, Richard wrote, ‘Will work for food’. The homeless injured veteran angle never worked for Richard. Probably because he wasn’t an injured veteran.

Things were slow that morning but around evening time business would start booming. Lots of fancy cars passed by. These more fortunate people were busy either talking or sending texts. It was best not to bother them in the morning.

Normally Richard would be asleep in the park around this time. Only last night he never went to sleep. Instead, he got drunk and partied all night with a couple of whores by the train tracks.

That morning, he needed one more beer to calm his nerves and put him to sleep for the day. He would of went to the Dollar Pad and stole a bottle of wine but the employees there were now watching him.

Damn, he could end up standing there all day looking like an idiot for nothing.

The last thing he expected was for a work truck to stop alongside him and slow up traffic during a green light. God bless this guy, he wanted to give Richard some money really bad!

With cars blowing their horns he said, “Get in, I’ve got work for you!”

Now, Richard hated working, but sometimes you had to do what you had to do. “So what are we doing today, boss?” Richard asked. Turning on his turn signal and switching lanes Benny says, “We’ll be putting up sheetrock and doing a little painting. Have you ever done that before?” “Can’t say that I have, boss,” says Richard.

Up ahead, the law along with an ambulance and firetruck are at the scene of a bad car accident. “I bet someone got killed in that accident,” said Richard. The whole roof of that car was smashed in.

Benny didn’t care to make small talk, he just wondered if this guy would do anything. It didn’t look good when Richard fell asleep in the work truck.

He woke up when they pulled up to the house. “So, how much are you gonna pay me for doing this,” asked Richard. Benny, putting on his tool belt, says, “Let’s see how you work out first.”

Richard was slow and couldn’t hit a stud if his life depended on it. He couldn’t read a tape measure or make the exact cuts for the sockets.

By lunchtime, Benny told Richard, “I should have left you on the street.” “Well, boss, you can take me right back to that street,” Richard said, “After you pay me for a half a days work.” Filling his cup from the water cooler on the back of the truck.

Benny asked, “What do you think you’ve earned? A bologna sandwich, Moon Pie, and a Pepsi. I’ll give you my bag lunch.”

Confused Richard says, “What in the Hell are you talking about? I need cash money.”

Shaking his head, Benny says, “I should sue you for false advertisement.” “False advertisement? Richard says, “What are you talking about?”

Benny says, “Your sign says, ‘Will work for food dumb dumb’. I know you didn’t think anyone would offer you a job.”

It was a long ride back. The whole time Richard was like, “ appreciate the bag lunch but I at least need three bucks for a 40. Benny refused saying, “You weren’t worth two dollars. You should shut up before I take my bag lunch back.”

Richard sinks down in his seat, “You’re a cold heartless bastard.”

Tired with no hope left for that day, Richard says, “Just drop me off at the park. I live there on a bench.” Showing no sympathy Benny says, “I’d hate to be you.”

When Richard got dropped off, he wondered around harassing people who were walking their dogs. He said, “I’ve got a nice bag lunch for three dollars. The Pepsi and Moon Pie are probably close to three bucks plus you get a bologna sandwich too.”

Richard tells everyone, “You know you can’t beat it.”

They all look at him like he’s crazy. A young mother with red hair, walking her child on a leash says, “Didn’t I see you holding a sign this morning that said, ‘Will work for food?’” An old man passing by says, “Yeah, maybe you should just keep it.”


Robert Ragan from Lillington NC lives his life for art and writing. He has stories and poetry online at Vext Magazine, Outlaw Poetry, The Dope Fiend Daily, The Rye Whiskey Review, Drinkers Only, Under The Bleachers, and Cajun Mutt Press. Alien Budha Press has published his short story collection “Mannequin Legs and Other Tales”