‘The Hollow Man’ by J Snow


wandering through white nothingness
waning, weary, desultory
heaving puffs of heavy, bitter breath
blooming plumes of smoke
such a poignant allegory
achromatic gloom granting serenity and quietude
to ease the wounds of those clenched within the calloused
of life

at least, for a while

elongated wintry smiles stretched thin the skin
faces of the meek
sneers as mere habits from constant combat against a season loved by none
save the indolent and the slain

fraught with despair
caged in the embrace of sunshine realms
the weak
fall upon frail and brittle knees, succumb to the hiss of mighty demons
crawling, slithering, twitching
every degree descending downward
lower levels
shadow-cloaked abyss

winter is a beast, wretched tales of woe

mourning perpetual existence as a solitary being
detached and isolated in sanguine dreams
the wendigo roams

Mayka aches to swallow whole
the raw and meaty bone marrow of those forgotten
as they lure him
from the deep of darkness

drifting stench betrays each forsaken soul
beneath frost-kissed canopies
bleak and blurry horrors of naked
opaque wilderness
deprived of life
lay silent
snow-bleached bones litter his hollow, cavern home
number six hundred and sixty-six

cryptic carnivorous catacomb

painted sorrow-tainted shrieks subsume
under daunting desolation
haunting miles of woodland slopes

suspended high above giant, jagged stones
rows of serrated teeth reaching skyward from ice-sculpted ravines
arctic blasts of dusk-born squalls thrust knotted planks
untamed violence
buckling age-warped and distorted
hand-woven rope-bridge
snapping the quietus
of solitude

Mayka wishes he never licked a human heart
cursed himself with an insatiable hunger for another
one more
unfortunate enough to stumble upon
mountaintop hideaway

Mayka entices unwitting and näivé
with mouthwatering
roasted meat
(simmering fats, saved from kills, mimic hearty feasts)
hopes one day he, too, will find one as hungry and savage
as he inside his refuge
concealed by tangled brush

Mayka slashes trails through timber
ensnares unwary prey
leads unsuspecting innocents to the entrance of his lair
by way of interlaced labyrinths
carved around
vine-encrusted undergrowth

warm promises
orange-kissed glow of fire struck to kindling, glimmering reflecting off
shimmering walls
smoothed by hardened hands of age
in the far depths of his den

offers hope
to those desperate for shelter
from blinding winter whiteness
icy sheathed
stretching, dead fingers of trees in slumber
in land he claimed millennia ago
when time crept slow
like fog
slipping rings down around snow-capped mountain peaks

for every drop of human blood Mayka ingests
his appetite grows more voracious
his craving for human flesh more maniacal
never is there enough to fill the emptiness
regardless the quantity of meat
cushioning skeletons of those he devours
for every human he dines upon
he hungers for three more
for every three he consumes in greed
he lusts for all the villagers sleeping sound in the valley
between white-capped crowns
which hold him
to his curse

the shriveled belly of Mayka
will never fill
the effort drives him mad

Mayka hungers, too, for the black sleep of death
far more elusive than any prey
always tucking beneath shadows
taunting him

Mayka hunts it still today

Mayka lost his wife and son to the harsh conditions at the top of the mountain pass
soon after the winds of a blizzard whipped into them like knives

distraught, he lost himself soon after when he wandered from the path
in search of food and fur

Two months had since evaded him
Mayka had not eaten since the last full moon
melted snow for water
chewed frozen white pine bark to keep his strength
echoed somber notes sour, sullen nights

senses attuned as a hunter of wild things
one morning, just before dawn crest the ridge
he heard a footfall in the thick of the powdery forest floor
distracted him from memories and he ceased breathing
sat muted and motionless

peering from his position, he transfixed upon a lanky shape
standing beneath the huddled fur of evergreens
salivated at the sight of the pale and spindly man

snow collected on the wisps of hair and tattered coat of the stranger
as he paced in circles of perplexity beneath
silver-blue winter-dusted greenery

Mayka crept shrouded by tenebrous night
clutching razor-sharpened predatory blade
dared not breathe lest he risk betraying his position

The man mumbled incoherent
random words of nonsense
kneaded his knuckles into knots

Mayka rationalized the immensity of the favor he would bestow
upon the lonely traveler
when he heard several more footfalls
two feet more as four feet lighter than those of the man
then faint panting

the traveler paid no mind to his companion
instead, pushed snow into a circular pile around him and sat
packed it tight to his body
his wolf padded over and licked his bulbous, reddened nose
beneath eyes that appeared as smoke
turned his quiet stare to Mayka

the man continued to mumble and knead

Mayka exhaled with careless abandon
stepped into view
“Your name?”

The wolf licked his jowls
remained silent

the traveler turned his face from Mayka
“Be quick.”

Mayka skulked with skilled precision
until he stood behind and above the man
he asked, before determining his decision definitive
“You are quite sure?”

“I am.”

Mayka grabbed the man’s hair and jerked his head back
drew his knife across the man’s throat in one swift motion
severed the carotid artery
cut through the trachea below the larynx
ensuring a quiet kill as it would prevent the man from screaming
slashed the jugular vein

steam rose around the limp body of the man as the crisp
frozen air licked the warmth of spilling blood

Mayka wasted no time
sank his teeth into the gash of the neck
tore free meat like a rabid animal

the wolf watched without interest

beneath the new moon
time for initiation and growth
Mayka fed and drew from death images of his wife and son
a small reward of giggles

then all of life split into two dimensions
that of existence
where all stay caught in the pits and perils
of starvation of some form
and that of death
where all of everything is abstract sensations
gifted only to the innocent

before the dawn of the next new moon
the spirit of Mayka turned to ice
his soul to mist and scattered across the harrowing whistle of the wind
his body contorted into that of the man he took

he grew long and thin
narrow arms and fingers like limbs of trees
gaunt and hollow
hunger persistent and unyielding
his flesh smelt of rot
internal organs withered into dust
tufts and clumps of hair matted the stretched and pale yellow skin of his skull
his tongue tasted of ash, always and only ash
grew forked and protruded between extended, vitreous fangs
dripping venom
irises grew pale and cloudy like the storming winter sky
shriveled and fell from their sockets
leaving smoke behind
antlers two feet long sprouted along the brow ridge
above the edge of his empty eye holes

the wolf stayed throughout the transformation
watchful but impassive

hunters soon fled the mountains in fear of the beast
lingering on the whisper of villagers
those that choose to not heed warnings
instead, ventured into the cover of the woodland mountains
never returned home
all who took sight of Mayka
the nights he slipped into the village
told tales of a living corpse
for every new moon
when horrid hunger drove Mayka from his cave
to the humans lost in sleep
death sang a ragged, raspy tune

a thousand years passed
still Mayka cannot fill the void

the wolf stays by his side at all times
not as companion but as watcher
for Mayka swallowed the curse and released the stranger
enslaved himself

until another proves foolish enough
gives way to a ravenous hunger for humankind
eats of his cursed flesh
he will remain the beast of the mountains
the cannibal demon
the wendigo, legend of the native peoples
the hollow man

sometimes, Mayka is incapable of anything but cannibalistic urges
seasoning thoughts
slicing and dicing reason
hunting the wild and wicked
stultified and despondent human species

sometimes, not even death holds temptation.

J Snow is a poet and author of psychological thrillers and tales of terror whose work has been described as disturbing, visceral, haunting, and powerfully evocative. Snow pulls inspiration from personal experience to provide readers a peek inside the splintered psyche of an child abuse/ abduction survivor and uses her insight into the sociopathic mind to breathe life into harrowing yet multidimensional characters that have both horrified and fascinated those of conventional morality for decades. A member of Spawn, PW (Poets and Writers Organization), and NWU (National Writers Union), Snow concentrates on crafting short stories and poetry, many of which have been published, two in the best selling series of Hellbound Books, others by Horrified Press, Zombie Pirate Publishing, Nothing Books, The Horror Zine, Sirens Call, and more. Not only does Snow write almost daily — her drug of choice though an intervention may prove a necessity soon — she is also the founder and editor-in-chief of her own literary journal: Blood Puddles. It’s inaugural issue was released in June of 2018. Currently, she is working on a memoir series and a debut novel (and more short stories and poems plus a bit more polishing for the second issue…)

Blood Puddles

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Memoir Sneak Peak

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