Unholy Trinity: The Muse by Michael Kellichner
Our church worships at the altar of the Unholy Trinity. Its gospels are delivered as a trio of dark drabbles, linked so that Three become One. All hail the power of the Three.
Though he swore he’d never do it again, Ethan rolled another body down the stairs because he needed a new symphony. The carcass hit the basement’s dirt floor where languid tentacles surrounded a toothy pit exuding a sodden, meaty stench. The tentacles pulled the body, and Ethan grabbed his notebook and pen. Waited. He didn’t look at the creature, didn’t think about who he’d just fed it. When music oozed into the room, he frantically marked each beautiful note, each chord, knowing at once this one would be even better than the last. Certainly, this would be the final time.
The orchestra was tuning up, and Jason got comfortable in his seat. His wife had insisted on coming, and he was preparing for a good, two hour doze. Almost asleep, and then the music hit him like a bucket of ice water. Violins screeched, cellos moaned. He went rigid, his mind filled with a city of twisted shadows, buildings impossibly angled. Teeth and tentacles. A pang of immense hunger. He looked around but the rest of the concert hall sat in their usual, slowly nodding attention. Listening to something else. Not hearing the voice in the evanescent silence between notes.
Jason contemplated the bloody shovel. “I should thank you,” he said as Ethan dragged himself across the floor. “You showed me something beautiful. Woke me up. Who knows how long I would have just drifted along if not for you.”
He heaved a heavy sigh, bent down, and began dragging Ethan by his shirt.
“I guess they’re right when they say never meet your heroes. Having something so perfect. And letting it starve. Makes it hard to maintain respect once you know it.”
He shouldered open the basement door. Frantic tentacle slaps. “Sorry about this. But greater things are coming.”
Michael Kellichner is a poet and writer from Pennsylvania currently living and teaching in South Korea. Previous work of his has appeared in Black Denim Lit, Farrago’s Wainscot, Trigger Warning: Short Fiction with Pictures, the Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review, The Tishman Review, the Tahoma Literary Review, and Three Crows Magazine. He can be contacted on twitter at https://twitter.com/mithalanis.
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Stephanie Ellis writes dark speculative prose and poetry and has been published in a variety of magazines and anthologies. Her longer work includes the folk horror novels, The Five Turns of the Wheel and Reborn, and the novellas, Bottled and Paused. Her novel, The Woodcutter, is due for release via Brigids Gate Press in 2023. Her dark poetry has been published in her collections Lilith Rising (co-authored with Shane Douglas Keene), Foundlings (co-authored with Cindy O’Quinn) and Metallurgy, as well as the HWA Poetry Showcase Volumes VI, VII, VIII, and IX and Black Spot Books Under Her Skin. She can be found supporting indie authors at HorrorTree.com via the weekly Indie Bookshelf Releases. She is an active member of the HWA and can be found at https://stephanieellis.org, on Twitter at @el_stevie, Instagram stephanieellis7963 and also somewhere on Facebook.