Tag Archives: fiction

Decameron 2020: God of Carnage


Scurrying into the town of Mouseville, a little grey traveler named Erasmus visited in hopes of seeking shelter from the rain.

Yet, on the streets Mouseville, between the basement and first floor of a century-old Sears Craftsman home, all was not well. Oh sure, there were the happy signs of chewed on wood debris and droppings everywhere, but the residents of Mouseville were in a nervous panic.

“What is wrong?” asked Erasmus, when he encountered a larger brown-and-white field mouse named Esther. “Why is everyone so upset.”

“It is the God of Carnage,” the trembling mouse replied. “He killed Aloysius early this morning.”

“Forgive me,” Erasmus said. “I just came to town. I have never heard of a God of Carnage before.”

“What?! How can that be?” asked Esther. “His savagery is epic. He is huge and vicious. He has large white fangs and razor-sharp claws. He is so terrifying that he doesn’t even camouflage. He wears a coat of tan fur, and his pale green eyes look right through you as he tears you to pieces.”

“Does this God of Carnage have a furry tail?” Erasmus asked.

“Yes,” replied Esther.

“Does your God of Carnage make an ear-shattering cry of death that sounds like this, ‘Meow’?” Erasmus asked.

“Yes,” Esther said. “You do know our God of Carnage.”

“I think it is just a cat,” Erasmus explained, confident his big city mouse experiences were more than these simple country mice were used to. “It is not a god, though they do think highly of themselves. Cats are just predators who happen to feed on mice and birds. They are pretty predictable, really.”

God of Carnage

“Mark my words, Stranger,” stated Atticus, who was a sleek black mouse that overheard their conversation. “The God of Carnage is no mere cat. He has never eaten a mouse. He is fed by his gargantuan servants, whom he himself has trained, something called Fancy Feast. It is a vile meat purée whose sickening stench alerts us to when he is near.”

“BUT,” nervously squeaked Wilhelmina, “Once he has consumed the Fancy Feast, he is sleepy and less apt to torment us.”

“Guys,” Erasmus laughed. “I’m even more convinced now that this is just a cat and not a god at all. They are pretty common. Trust me, I’ve encountered many in my travels.”

“Would a cat hold you down by the tail and slowly stick his claws in you, just to listen to you squeal before you die?” asked Esther, trying to trip up Erasmus.

“Yes,” he replied.

“But then he wouldn’t eat you…just leave your corpse in the shoe of one of his servants who must have displeased him,” Esther probed further.

“Yep. That’s pretty catlike,” Erasmus said, rolling his eyes at their simplistic nature.

“Would a cat play catch with your limp body?” Wilhelmina asked. “Tossing you into the air with his mouth only to catch you and grind you with his teeth until you ceased to try escaping and withered away in his jaws, only to leave you on his servants’ bed to reprimand them?”

“Uh-huh,” Erasmus nonchalantly affirmed.

“What about drowning?” inquired Atticus. “Aloysius did nothing to disturb or offend the God of Carnage. He simply saw a sunflower seed on the floor and raced to get it and return to Mouseville to eat it. Yet, the God of Carnage pounced from thin air and captured Aloysius. As Aloysius begged for his life, the God of Carnage didn’t even bite him. He held Aloysius down in a bowl of water until he ceased to struggle and fight for air. Then he plopped poor bloated Aloysius into the bowl usually left for Fancy Feast and walked away.”

“That does sound unnecessarily cruel,” Erasmus said, “But, I wouldn’t put such behavior beyond a mortal cat.”

“Have you slain such a creature, as you call, a cat?” Atticus asked.

“Oh, God, no,” Erasmus said, losing his patience with these country mice. “They are too big and deadly. I just try to steer clear of them. Haven’t you simpletons ever been taught to practice S.L.R.?”

“We have not heard of your magic,” answered Wilhelmina. “All we can do is pray to the great God of Carnage not to sacrifice us for his amusement.”

“Sniff. Look. Run,” Erasmus explained. “It isn’t magic. I’ll show you. Is that sunflower seed still out there?”

“No, Stranger,” Esther said. “Do not throw away your life. Do not tempt the Great God of Carnage.”

“Look,” Erasmus said. “Cats aren’t that bright. Let me show you how it is done.”

The mice led Erasmus to the hole under the oven in the kitchen. “There lie the bowls of this morning’s tragedy,” said one of the mice.

Erasmus crawled to the edge of the stove’s protection. “First you sniff the air for any sign of cat. Then you look to the left and the right for any sign of cats. When it is all clear, you run as fast as you can.”

Erasmus scurried quickly for the seed he saw on the floor.


He felt the weight of the cat flatten him to the floor.

Recovering from his leap off the counters, which his owners would have been angry about if they knew he was on the counters, the cat briefly let the mouse go.

Yet, Erasmus was too stunned to move. The other mice under the stove shrieked and began praying fervently for Erasmus’ release.

The cat held the recovering mouse with one of his back paws, as he used a front paw to lick and groom himself. He didn’t want to appear slovenly for his new playmate.

“Would you like to play with me?” the wheat-colored mini panther asked.

“Play?” Erasmus questioned.

“I’m bored,” the God of Carnage said. “My humans go to this thing called ‘work’ and leave me with nothing to do.”

“I thought you were the merciless great God of Carnage,” Erasmus said, then looked to the other mice as if to say, “Ya see, I told you so.”

“My name is Peanut. What is your’s?”

Erasmus began laughing as he’d never laughed before. It was a deep, uncontrolled laughter.

“What is so funny, new playmate?” the cat asked.

“P. P. Pea-nut!” The little mouse couldn’t stop laughing. “Ya-ya you are.”

The mouse laughed some more.

“Why am I so funny?” Peanut asked, perturbed by this mouse’s laughter.

“Don’t you know what a peanut is, you idiot,” the haughty mouse kept laughing. “It is a diminutive little legume that people eat at baseball games.”

More gales of mouse laughter.

“Why, you nincompoop!” Erasmus kept laughing. “You’re no God of Carnage. You’re a peanut.”

With that, Peanut bit off the impudent little mouse’s head and tossed it toward the cowering rodents under the stove.

The mice began to pray, “Oh, Great God of Carnage, be merciful!”

“That’s better,” Peanut said, strutting toward the sunny couch in the next room. “I’m going to take a nap. Try not to disturb me, or you’ll suffer a worse fate.”

Once Peanut had left the room, Esther said, “Is it just me, or do you think that Erasmus character talked way too much.”

“I thought he’d never shut-up,” Wilhelmina agreed.

“Good riddance,” Esther said. “Two newcomers in one day ought to keep Peanut satisfied for some time. I’m tired of this Kabuki theater. We’ve got some real work to do without him meddling.”

Decameron 2020: Starlight

By Nancy Bach

It was a steamy Chicago night when I pulled the thread of her unravelling.

I squatted beside the dumpster in the alley, my eyes glued to the back door of the gallery where I had worked for the past five years.  A car’s headlights chased shadows across a brick wall, and I shrank back, but the vehicle passed by, turned out of the alley and onto the street.

I relaxed.  A little.  Ten minutes more, I thought, consulting my watch.  The guests at tonight’s show had already faded into the sweaty darkness, the catering staff had packed their truck and left.  Even Janine, the gallery’s owner, had climbed into her Mercedes and gone home, four-inch heels clacking on the pavement as the metal fire door to the Gallery de las Palmas clanged shut behind her.  Soon the bitch who had stolen my life and the woman I loved would come out that back door, too.

I knew the routine, you see. Knew every step of it because it used to be my routine until that stranger who looked exactly like me had taken over my life.

It was June when I first spotted her.  A glimpse of someone with my curly auburn hair and a pair of embroidered jeans just like ones I owned passed by, her on the way out and I on the way in, to the laundromat I used.  A week later, I saw her again, in a cab with someone who looked like my friend Cal, as I was hoofing it to the El one afternoon for my shift at the gallery.  Soon after, an acquaintance I’d known in art school ran into me, asked me how I’d enjoyed my dinner at the Italian Village the previous Friday.  I told her I hadn’t been there, and she’d looked at me like I was crazy.

“But we talked,” she said.  “You were with that crazy musician we used to hang around with back in the day.  Chet something?”

I shook my head, told her she must have made a mistake, but I wondered.  I’ve heard that everyone has a double somewhere.  Clearly, mine lived here in Chicago.  It was weird, but I put it out of my mind.  I was helping Riley Kincaid, a young artist on whom I had a huge crush, set up her first art show.  I had more important things to worry about than some look-alike.  I went back to my quiet life, in my tiny efficiency apartment on a backstreet.  When not working on the new installation at the gallery, I spent quiet evenings reading and eating Chinese take-out.

Nine more minutes.  Sweat made slick the grime on the back of my neck.  Four days since my last real shower and I wasn’t sure whether I or the dumpster I crouched beside smelled riper.  Traces of spoilt bananas, some decomposing thing, dog shit and other foul odors wafted past me as a faint breeze stirred the rank air of the alley.  

I gritted my teeth, anger nipping at memory’s heels.  June became July and things got weirder.  I stopped getting texts from friends and when I saw them to ask them, they acted odd, told me they knew who I really was and I should stop trying to impersonate my sister.  I had no sister.  Two weeks later my debit card stopped working.  The bank manager told me he would call the cops if I came in again, and to get a job and leave my sister alone.

Last week, my boss locked me out of the office and called our security company.  I was escorted off the premises and threatened.  As they led me away, I could see a woman through the glass front door, watching me, smiling.  It was me.  Only it wasn’t.

Three days ago, the manager of my building changed the locks on my apartment.  The only thing I had left was my car and the clothes on my back.

Finally, yesterday, as I spied on them having a picnic in Grant Park, I saw my double propose to Riley.  The kiss Riley bestowed upon the creature who had stolen my life belonged to me.

Seven minutes.  Rage coiled in my belly like a hissing serpent and my blood throbbed in my head.  I straightened out of my crouch.  Stretched.  My back and shoulders ached from sleeping the last two nights in my car, the only thing of value in my life the bitch hadn’t managed to claim.

Five minutes.  She’d be locking up the office now, setting the alarm on the front door.  Riley had left just after the caterers, and I’d watched the two of them linger at the back door, kissing.  The bitch’s hand was under Riley’s thin summer blouse, massaging Riley’s small breasts.  I’d dug my fingernails into my palms to prevent myself from interrupting them.  I had to be patient.

I rolled my neck.  The black shaft of the tire iron stuck to the sweaty palm of my left hand.

Silence.  The sounds of cars on the street beyond.  The occasional sound of chatter or laughter far away.  More silence.

The back door snicked, pushed open and the other me stepped out and turned to make sure the door was secure.

I would have hit her then, I had the chance.  But I needed answers.

“Why?”  I stepped up behind her, planted my feet, my left hand held down in the shadows behind my leg.

The other turned.  There was no surprise on her face and I felt cheated.  “Why?  Why what?”  Peach tinted lips crept upwards.  Her hair was stylishly cut in a bob, her clothes more boho than my own.  She wore just a touch of make-up.  She was me.  Only better.

Damn her. 

She shrugged.  “You wished upon a star for a clone. Someone to do all the things you didn’t have time to do.”

Butterfly memory fluttered past.  A night under the stars, a rare walk in the park with my friend Chloe, in the spring, after Chloe had been dumped.

I made this happen?  No.  “That’s not possible,” I said.

Another shrug.  “Your wish, my command.  You weren’t doing anything with your life.  With your friends.  With your job.”  She smirked and pointed.  “With your hair.  So I did.”

Something inside me burst, like a pressure cooker exploding. I raised the tire iron and swung.  A crack, wet and dull, and the other me crumpled to the patched pavement of the alley.

Eyes the same green and gold as my own stared in fixed astonishment in the general vicinity of the dumpster.  Blood pooled beneath short auburn curls, reflecting in ruby the lights of the alley.

My heart pounded.  I squatted down, prepared to strike another blow, but the thing was finished.  She was finished.

I moved quickly now.  First, I wrapped the still leaking head in cling wrap, then pulled the tarp I had scavenged that morning from some painters out of the dumpster and rolled the body onto it.  I used my key fob to pop my trunk and dragged the body to my car, parked a little further down the alley.

It took all of ten minutes for clean-up.  There would be bloody drag marks and that little lake of blood, but it was due to rain later, and my hope was that at least some of the blood would wash away into the sewer grate.

My hands shook and my teeth chattered as I got behind the wheel of my Jetta and pulled carefully out into traffic.  Thirty minutes later I was idling near a deserted stretch of the Cal-Sag Channel.  I climbed out, and opened the trunk again, reaching in to wrangle the body out.

I froze.  The tarp was still there, but lay there like an empty burrito, all flat and lumpy.  I touched it, felt around in the dark.  No matter where I laid my hands, I could not find the body.  It was gone.

No.  No, no, no, no.  Damn it, she’d been dead.  I was certain of that.  Nor was there a way she could have gotten out of the trunk, even if some how she’d still been alive.

Frantic, I gripped the tarp, yanked, unrolled it.  The gruesome plastic wrap was there, where the head had been.  A pair of black dress pants, a peasant blouse, stained dark with gore rested inside the canvas.  Shoes too, and a small straw purse on a long strap, inside of which was a wallet.  What wasn’t there was that damned woman’s body.

I picked up the blouse and a quantity of gold dust, like glitter, sparkled down from it onto the tarp.  I leaned into the trunk, ran my hands along the bottom of it.  There was more of the glittery stuff, little piles of it like sparkling sand.

My chest constricted and my vision tunneled.  I dropped into a squat, lowered my head until that sense of receding passed.  I sat there, resting on my heels for maybe ten minutes, trying to piece it all together.  I’d made a wish.  Now I’d undone it.  She was gone.  Nothing now but stardust.

I sucked in a shaky breath, grinned.  At least there would be no body to wash up later.

When I was sure my legs would hold me, I retrieved the purse and the wallet, reclaimed my debit card, the new key to my apartment, and the cell phone.  The tarp, the tire iron, and the clothes, shoes included, I dumped in the canal.

Rain spattered as I closed my trunk.  Drops fell, got fatter and faster.  I raced around to the front, climbed back in and eased along the canal towards the gravel area that led up to the road before the road got to muddy and I got stuck.

My thoughts raced along with my engine.  I’d need a haircut, I thought, and a shower before I dared to go see Riley.  But I’d worry about that tomorrow.  Because there would now be a tomorrow. Many, many more tomorrows.  I wouldn’t waste a one of them.


The stars blazed against a black-satin sky.  The desert air was dry, the vault of the heavens high, as Riley and I sat on the hood of my Jetta on a scenic stretch of the road through a park just outside of Santa Fe.  It had been a year since our move.  Riley hadn’t been keen on it at first, but now she loved it here.  The Muse, she said, spoke to her more clearly in this place where the sun shone and the stars burned brightly.

Her hand shot out, pointing towards the deepening dark of the Sangre de Cristo mountains.  “Look!  A shooting star!”

I followed her gaze, shuddered.  Turned away.

Her eyes were starlit.  “Let’s make a wish.”

My heart thundered in my ears.  I leaned towards her, pressed my lips to hers, capturing her mouth as well as her attention.

I relinquished her lips a few moments later and slid off the hood of the car.  Beckoning her with a grin, I said, “Let’s go home.”

“But we didn’t make our wish.”

I tugged her off the hood, pulled her close, tucked my hands in her back pockets.  “No need for wishes.  I already have everything I could ever want.”

Somewhere to the east, the shooting star fizzled out behind the mountains.  It left a trail of stardust behind.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Read and learn more about Nancy Bach on her website: http://www.nancybach.com and on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NancyBachAuthor/. Be sure to give her a “like.”