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  Table of contents Issue Twenty-five GRASS ROOTS

a prose poem



huck him in that watering hole out back," Spring snickered, as he hoisted provisions from the Morris Minor. "Dank gloop'll conceal him for several days, and we'll be long gone."

His goons, Fell and Mad Dog, obliged, taking slit-throat Lennard from trunk to mini lake with rough handling.

The corpse was weighted with garden rocks - a landscape feature converted to murder accessory. Under grey Lincolnshire sky, they waded about sludge, gasping breath, and threw their quarry amongst the far-flung feature.

Lennard's feet protruded; yet the shitty water provided enough camouflage for their scant residency at the rented farmhouse, nestled deep within the Wolds.

Hawking spit, Mad Dog remarked: "Fucker must regret ever getting involved with us."

His dictate was true.

Inside, lit by gaslamp, swigging chemical lager and chomping bean salad, the crooks counted their stash. Their robbery - a triumph.

The final tally enough for each to retire abroad, reclining under palm trees and dry beach docks, and eat out every night, forever, and never work again. Never sell hours of their life to others for thankless toil.

Put into such context, criminality had an enriching allure. To hell with moralistic codes; and the fineries of others.

Outside, lit by creeping moonlight, Lennard's consciousness seeped into the groundwork. Lakewater skank bubbled furiously, mottling weed.

Or perhaps the surrounding vegetation, outraged by his brutal demise, sparked alive, imagining the world from Lennard's vantage point, and seeing red.

Either way, the land grew sentient, and sought to burn these grasping, small-minded fiends from the Earth. The roster of death was a daily, twirling display of self-survival and callous action, an infinite list added to - quicker than the seconds did tick. This time life determined to fight back.

Lennard - or Grass Lennard - had been sucked into underworld machinations by banal concepts: the promise of wealth, and with it a greater, bigger existence. Hotter surroundings, company of his own unforced choosing, minimal stress. The fucks he aided and abetted instead absorbed his hard work, and planning, before slicing his throat so deep the blade scraped his spine bone. More for them; his loss.

At some frostbitten morning hour - 4am, or thereabouts - where nothing but witches and strange winds stirred, and signs of humanity were far at bay, Fell came to the kitchen doorway. Flush with alcohol, he stood on the creaking stoop and drew on a cigar. Symbols of success abounded on this date.

Activating the ratty doorweeds, Lennard commanded his green allies to coil around Fell's ankles. Within an eyeblink Fell was transfixed by the spectacle, the stogie dropping from his mouth and bouncing into the soil. Plop.

Rolling like a snowball down slate roofing tiles, heaps of moss collated and grew. Having the netting swing like a tweed mat, the moss flapped from the roof and incased Fell's face. He tried to scream and was muffled.

The living moss asphyxiated Fell, drawing his features together until they were wrenched, twisted and jumbled - an abstract painter's clock face - whilst his creaking skull encased on all sides, elephantine pressure before it collapsed entirely, Fell still trying to scream, as the moss compacted it down to the size of a walnut.

Later, the sun rising, and Mad Dog roused from drunken slumber. Finding the farmhouse toilet caked in fecal matter, and without running water, he ventured outside to urinate.

His piss stream provided a willing waterfall for elemental motes, which traveled upstream, vengeful trout, and entered his bladder. Once entrenched their job was swift, expansion, brutal easy.

Mad Dog's genitalia exploded.

He went to the mud as screaming mess, where blades of grass poked his eyeballs open, slithered up his nostrils and pierced his brain. Soil popped into his ears, blocked them and damaged the delicate materials concealed within his skull. Flowers bloomed there and erased his thoughts and personality entirely.

Alone, Spring panicked to the stoop. The front garden was a writhing mass of hate. He retreated, but Lennard had alit within the long-dormant woodgrain. Trembling from foundation to rooftop, the farmhouse began a dry break apart. Confronted with timber or vine death, Spring opted for the former. The house crumbled around him, and soon he was buried alive amongst the building blocks of shelter, brought low by brick. Plaster dust suffocated his lungs slowly; window glass shards pricked vital areas, and bled him to death sluggishly.

In magic hour sunrise, Lennard's body was absorbed into the lake bed and never found. The rusted hulk of Spring's car still remains, derelict on that deserted patch of land; anything else, you'll be hard-pressed to find.




James Finan has previously had a horror novel published, called RED GODS, and worked in the publishing industry for many years.

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