Friday, November 20, 2015


Happy November 20th, friends. I hope you're all gearing up for next week's holiday and the retail therapy that particular holiday affords us all.

Since I was a week late in starting this story, this week I'm posting parts 3 & 4. The conclusion, part 5, will post next week on Black Friday.

I hope the story's enjoyable; it's different from anything I've written before. I really enjoyed the research into the Cleveland Police Department, interrogation techniques, and writing a crime drama. If I've missed anything or made glaring errors, please leave a comment and let me know!

With no further blathering, enjoy parts 3 & 4 of Hell Is Empty & All The Devils Are Here.


Laocoon & His Sons; 1506; Athenodorus, Polydorus, & Agesander of Rhodes

by Tucker McCallahan
3 – JUNE 13, 2015, EVENING

“On a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero.” ~ Chuck Palahniuk

Grif dressed stiffly, yanking his tight, skinny jeans up over his hips. A whisper on the still air of the condo brought his head up like a prairie dog. His head whipped right and then left as he strained to listen.

The only audible sound was the extremely loud ticking of the antique clock in the great room.

Still, Grif couldn’t shake the sensation of being watched. He felt the eyes on his body, sensed something tracking every move he made. Tears filled his eyes. Being gay wasn’t his fault. It’s just what he was. He swallowed the sob threatening to burst from his throat. His parents had warned him ….

You know what to do.

The shock of the voice whispering in his ears sent Grif to the floor. He crouched low, desperately peering around the bedroom for the source of the voice.

He saw no one; he was alone.

You’ve sinned. You must make it right.

Grif clapped his hands over his ears. For a solid week he’d heard the voice. Sometimes it preached with such righteousness he ended up paralyzed with fear and shame. Other times, like now, it whispered insidiously.

“Stop. Please.” Grif spoke to the empty room, his voice pleading.

You know the law. If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.

“Leave me alone!”

Grif scrabbled for his boots as the voice grew louder, repeating the damning verse from Leviticus 20 over and over again. With a strangled scream, Grif left his boots untied and fled from the condo out onto the street.

He was supposed to wait for Levi to get home. They were going to have dinner before Levi dropped Grif off at the bar for work. Grif couldn’t stay in the condo another second, and if he was honest, he didn’t really want to see Levi. His boyfriend would do the lawyer thing and badger him relentlessly about why he was being difficult and distant. Or worse, Levi would just give him that look and mutter about “petulant children.” The nine years that separated them­–which hadn’t mattered in the six months they’d been going out–had shown a lot lately.

Grif hurried down the street, immediately feeling warm and sticky in Cleveland’s close summer heat. Normally it wouldn’t bother him, but with the voice’s stern reprimand echoing in his ears, Grif felt dirty.


He stopped at the bus stop. It was abandoned at this hour on a Saturday. Everybody who had gone to work this morning had already gotten home, and anybody who was going out hadn’t left yet. Grif was going to get to the bar hours before his shift, but he needed to be around people. The servers would all be at the bar, getting ready to open.

The bus pulled up exactly on time. The driver greeted him, but Grif kept his head down and went to sit near the back of the bus. He didn’t want to talk to anyone.

The ride to work was blissfully quiet. Grif breathed slowly in an attempt to calm his nerves. When the driver pulled up to his stop, Grif moved up the aisle to exit the bus. The driver stared at him as he approached.

“But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.” The bus driver’s face was blank, his eyes a flat matte black. “Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.”

Grif nearly leaped out of his skin. He ran from the bus and the driver, sprinting down Detroit Avenue.

The sight of the familiar sign above his workplace brought a small measure of comfort until Grif discovered the door was locked. He pounded on it with a closed fist. Just as he grew frantic, the door swung open. Cindy, one of the servers, stood in the open doorway. She looked at Grif like he’d gone insane. He shoved past her and headed straight for the bar.

“Uh … You know you’re like, an hour and a half early, right?”

Grif ignored her and helped himself to a healthy double shot of tequila. He slammed the shot back and immediately poured another.

“Did you and Levi break up?”

Grif didn’t even acknowledge her until he’d downed the third double shot. He used his foot to open the fridge below the bar and scooped the container of limes out. The plastic wrap over the container fluttered to the floor. Grif grabbed a wedge, shoved it in his mouth and bit down, his cheeks contracting as he sucked hard. His eyes watered, his stomach burned, but his head felt better almost instantly. He tossed the mangled lime in the trash and looked cautiously at Cindy.

“Yes. And no.”

“You broke up, but you didn’t?”

“Yes, I know I’m early, and no, we didn’t break up.” Grif collapsed onto the stool he wasn’t allowed to sit on during his shifts, his shoulders slumping. “Yet,” he added.

“What’s with the tequila?” Cindy radiated a mixture of concern and curiosity.

Grif fell silent. He had no idea what to say to her. If he told her the truth–that he’d been hearing voices for a week–she’d think he was crazy.

Maybe he was.

The tequila hit his stomach like an atomic bomb and numbed him from head to toe. Grif felt considerably more comfortable. If he was crazy, Cindy didn’t need to worry about him. He offered her one of his most charming smiles.

“How can I help you ladies?”

“You know Bill won’t pay you for the extra time.”

“That’s OK. I’m here; I might as well work.”

Cindy laughed and motioned him down the bar where she and another server wrapped silverware and put up clean dishes. Grif threw himself into the work, grateful for the repetitive motion and the company.

By the time they opened, Grif felt one hundred times better.


The Pancrastinae; 3rd Century BC; Uffizi Collection

4 – JUNE 17, 2015, NIGHT

“Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit upon his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.” ~ H.L. Mencken

A fly perched on the wall rubbing its front set of legs together. Grif focused on the fly and tried to block everything else out.

Evil shall slay the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.

“No.” Grif shook his head. “Please.”

You know what to do.

“I don’t.”

You shall be washed clean in the blood of the sinner.

“Thou shalt not commit murder.”

The wages of the wicked are sin and death.

Tears ran down Grif’s face. Whatever pursued him was relentless. It invaded every space, penetrated Grif’s every waking hour. He was never alone, not even in his mind. It lived inside him, violating his every thought. He couldn’t escape.

You are corrupted.

“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.”

Only blood will free you.

“Thy kingdom come, thy Will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Redemption comes only through blood.

“Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”

Put to death sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed.

Grif clapped his hands over his ears. His voice shook and trembled through the sobs he couldn’t control.

“L–lead us not into temptation, but–”

An image blossomed in Grif’s mind. Wrapped in a sensual embrace, Grif slid in and out of Levi’s body to the symphony of his moans. Grif faltered; his prayer fell silent. The vision expanded, surrounding and engulfing him. The bed creaked. The musky scent of sex filled Grif’s nose.

Unable to resist, Grif surrendered, and the vision devoured him.

Levi’s exquisite tightness sent tingles racing over Grif’s skin. Such rapture … Light from the Tiffany lamp reflected off the razor in his hand. Chest to Levi’s back, Grif wrapped Levi in a one-armed embrace. Perilously close to orgasm, Levi closed his eyes. His head dropped forward, and with a guttural moan, he rocked against Grif.




With one decisive stroke, Grif slashed Levi’s throat from ear to ear. His eyes flew open, solidly black, his mouth stretching open in a silent shriek. With a snarl, Grif yanked Levi’s head back. Blood sprayed, spurting in time to Levi’s heartbeat. Grif sank his teeth into the torn flesh. Air bubbled up through Levi’s severed trachea creating a gory scarlet froth. Grif’s tongue lashed at it, licking along the razor’s slice. He slurped at the rhythmic flow, swallowing Levi’s blood in great gulps.

Reality slammed into Grif, a hard body check that knocked the vision away. He screamed. Shadows exploded across the floor and rushed up the walls to envelope the ceiling, eating up the light. Living darkness poured down into Grif’s open mouth. He went rigid, and then collapsed to the floor in a heap.

The lights blinked back on, the condo silent. Grif slowly climbed to his feet and went to the tremendous Victorian-era silver mirror beside Levi’s closet. As he gazed at his reflection, inky blackness swirled through his pupils and he smiled.

“Deliver us from evil.”


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