Dead Boy

Gary Holman

It was finally here. The blood moon was finally here. The Boy could see its scarlet glow peaking through the mini blinds in his bedroom. He had anticipated its coming for weeks now and he was eager to see if the blood moon would live up to it’s name sake.

Would it really be as blood red as his teacher foretold? He hoped it would be. The idea of a moon the color of blood fascinated the Boy. His bedroom walls were decorated with crayon interpretations and he was more than a little curious to see how they would compare to the real thing.

He muffled a yawn, as he stepped through his backdoor. It was a very late, much later than what he was used to staying up. Had his mother been awake, she would have reprimanded the Boy for staying up past his bedtime. “No later than 10pm,” she had decreed. But his mother had been ill lately, and much too tired to police bedtimes.

The Boy gently closed the door behind himself and shook the sleep from his body. Nothing, not bed times nor his own circadian rhythm, would make him miss this. He couldn’t afford to. The last blood moon appeared over 150 years ago and who knew if it would take another 150 years for the next one.

Outside, the Boy could only catch fragments of the blood moon through the neighboring buildings and tall trees, but that did nothing to limit it’s range. It’s moonlight painted everything he saw red. It made even the most familiar of objects alien.

“Are these my hands?” he asked himself, amazed at how the blood moon stained his brown hands burgundy. “Is this really me?”

The knee length grass and leafy dandelions licked at his ankles as he furthered into his backyard. He desperately wanted to see the blood moon in its entirety. The Boy held his breath as it came in to view. It was beautiful. It wasn’t exactly as maroon, or brick red, as he predicted but it was more beautiful than he imagined. He ran through the list of “reds” he possessed in his box of crayons. None of them, or any combination of them, could do this moon justice.

The Boy reached towards the glowing orb with both hands. Had the moon always been this gargantuan? It had never seemed this large before nor did it seem this close. The Boy was certain that if his reach were just a little longer, he could brush his fingers against its surface. The boy wiggled his fingers in the faint red glow in one final attempt at capturing the moon in his hand.

There was something different about this moon. This blood moon had to be more than the work of planetary shadows and ellipses. He was sure of it. He could feel it. He stared at this new moon, desperate to uncover its secrets. He stared, examining every deep red crater on it’s face until his eyes lost focus. It was then that he heard the Blood Moon speak to him.

The Blood Moon didn’t require a set of teeth, or a pair of lips to communicate. It implanted its voice in his head. Its voice gently scratched at the Boys ears. He swatted at his ears, certain that he had shooed away a burrowing insect. Once the “scratching” progressed into a manic “mumbling,” he realized that this was no insect.

The Boy wondered if he were hearing the voice of god. His mother had told him that God used the heavens to speak to us. The moon and the stars, and even the meteors that passed in the night were messages of God’s love. The boy listened to the blood moons incessant mumbling and was convinced that this was anyone but God.

It voice sounded like a threat told through clenched teeth. He didn’t like its voice in his head. Their was an urgency and a panic it’s delivery that made his blood chill. His Instincts told him to run away, but his body wouldn’t cooperate. His legs had taken root in the soil where he stood and refused to follow his command. Besides, where could he run too? Where could he run to that was beyond the reach of the moonlight?

The Boy, terrified beyond reason and with no other option, conceded. Although the voice in his head terrified him, he humored it. There wasn’t any other option. The Blood Moon had infiltrated the Boy’s head and it was clear that it wouldn’t stop speaking to him until it had bean heard. So In spite of the fear bubbling in his gut, he sat cross legged in a patch of overgrown weeds, chewed his bottom lip until he tasted blood, and he listened.

With his eyes closed and his mind open, the Blood moon filled his skull. It poured its self into him. He felt it’s moonlight on the back of his eyes, and down his chest. His body tingled and his muscles tensed under its influence.

It wasn’t long before the Boy was drowning it its urgency. He felt its frustration as well as its determination to be heard. The Boy’s tongue tingled as the blood moon took possession of it. He become it’s living vessel, and its was through the Boy’s own mouth that he finally heard the Blood Moon’s message in full.

“Don’t fear a reflection that’s been conjured in puddles of blood. It’s blood that replenishes the soil, and Its blood that feeds the earth.”

The boy clenched his eyes tighter and covered his mouth. He didn’t like what the blood moon had to tell him, nor did he enjoy it coming from his own mouth. He tried to shake the Blood moons voice from his head but it was far too late. The blood moon had its grip firmly latched into the boy’s mind and It had far more too share with him tonight.w

The boy opened his eyes to a corpse, drenched in the blood moons glow before him. His limbs draped the terrain like a disheveled marionette, with his neck cocked in one direction and his body the other. His flesh, an ashen brown had long ago began the deterioration process. His limbs and chest were decorated in gashes and that were overflowing with maggots.

The Boy would have screamed if the vision hadn’t knock the wind out of his lungs. The corpse terrified him. Where had it come from? Why was it here, but most importantly,  why did he and the Dead Boy look so much alike? Their resemblance was uncanny. They both shared the same round jawline and almond shaped eyes. The same brown skin and the same unruly, black curls. They even shared the same jagged scar under their left eye. As much as he wanted to deny what he was seeing, he couldn’t. This was more than a strong, resemblance. The dead boy and he were the same.

The Boy, studied his own lifeless body, stiff with rigor mortis and ripe with decomposition and felt an endless wave of fear ripple through his body. “Is that me?” he wondered. “Is this death? Am I going to die?”

The Boy had never seen death before, nor had he imagined himself as one of its victims. Until now, he had believed that death was something that only existed on television. Death only came for the old, and the deserving. He was immune to death, and seeing his own dead body, ripped of life and festering not only contradicted his theory, it unraveled him.

Shaken and desperate, the Boy did what his mother taught him to do during times of crisis. He put the palms of his hands together, closed his eyes and prayed. His procedure was sloppy and he lacked his mother’s formality but he prayed the best he could. At first, he prayed according to the template his mother taught him. He asked God for his help. He begged for divine intervention. He prayed that he would wake up from this nightmare and find that the Dead Boy was nothing more than the invention of an overactive imagination.

But as time passed and the Boy’s prayer went unanswered, his “asking of God” evolved into a “demanding of God.” He demanded God’s assistance, and for his intervention but most of all for his acknowledgment.

“Are you listening to me?” He asked. “Help me.” he pleaded. “If you can hear me, help me. If I’ve ever needed your help, It’s now. Please, help me.”

The Boy waited to hear the voice of God. He waited to awaken in the confines of his bedroom and in the safety of his bed. He patiently waited for the relief of realizing that again his nightmares had gotten the better off him. But when the Boy opened his eyes and saw the dead boy’s maggot filled grin, he knew then that God would never respond to his prayers.

“Don’t fear a reflection that’s been conjured in puddles of blood” said the Dead Boy, flies spilling out of his open mouth. “It’s blood that replenishes the soil, and Its blood that feeds the earth.”

“I’m going to die aren’t I?” asked the boy. “You’re here to tell me I’m going to die?”

The Dead Boy gurgled dirt as he spoke. The earth was already eager to consume the Blood Moon’s Dead Boy, and it was hard at work at returning its flesh into the ground. Wild dandelions burst through the wounds and the scars in the Dead Boy’s body and round face. They uprooted them selves and latched onto his skin in favor of the soil. Their roots stretched across his skin like thick, red highways and siphoned what little blood was left in his veins. Within moments his veins and his muscles had already begun to atrophy beyond function.

“Of course you are going to die,” said the Dead Boy. “Everyone and everything dies. Your blood and your bones will feed the earth, but don’t worry, the earth hasn’t finished feeding you.”

The Dead Boy, drained of his lunar glow, surrendered to natures final demand. His chest sank into the earth and cracked opened like a well worn book, and out of its pages poured new life. Patches of nauseatingly yellow dandelions sprung from the soil that had been encased between his ribs.

Dandelions tore their way through his flesh and the cloudy marbles that had been his eye balls dissolved in his skull. Tangled earthworms wiggled in his hollows eye sockets and fire ants carried away the marrow in his bones. Nature decomposed and disassembled him, limb by limb, until he was nothing more than dirt and dandelions.

The Boy stared at the mound of weeds and dirt that had been his doppelganger and shivered. The Blood Moon still hung above him but its presence was gone. The voice in his head. The Dead Boy. They were both gone, without a trace of their existence.

Optimistic, the Boy thought to himself, maybe they aren’t gone. Maybe they never existed. The boy began to wonder If his sleep deprived mind had played a trick on him. How could any of that been real? There was no one else to witness what he had seen. There wasn’t a single trace of the Dead Boy’s existences or of the blood moon’s babbling. Maybe he had dreamt the entire thing.

That idea put the Boy at ease. “Its ok,” he thought to himself. “It was just a dream. A nightmare.” The Boy, eager to prove his theory, snatched a handful of dandelions out of the ground but to his dismay, discovered that their roots were thick, still engorged with the Dead Boy’s stagnant blood.

“The moon is beautiful tonight isn’t it?” said a voice behind him.

His mother had slipped into their backyard while his back was turned to her. The Blood Moon radiated in in her eyes as she stared at it’s face.  She wasn’t the least bit concerned with the Boy’s bedtime, or with the blood dripping from the dandelion in his hand.

“I almost missed it,” she said. “But I don’t think I could if I wanted to. It wouldn’t let me.”

The Mother invited her son to sit in her lap, and the Boy, fearful and desperate for the comfort of his mother’s shelter, jumped at the opportunity, but something was different. He no longer felt at home in her arms. Had he either, out grown his Mother’s lap or her embrace had grown weak? The Boy closed his eyes and tried to find his home in her arms but he couldn’t quiet his mind, because when he laid his head on her, he was certain he could smell damp soil on her chest, and when she looked down at the boy and smiled he was certain that he could see maggots wiggling between her teeth.

“Your bigger than I remember,” she told the Boy, “With your weight on me, It feels like I’m sinking, she giggled. “It feels Like the ground is swallowing me whole.” And the mother laughed at the absurdity of being swallowed by the earth, but the boy didn’t find it absurd or the least bit impossible. Even from her lap, he could see the earth licking at her ankles and the dandelions, desperate for her substance.

“I had a dream about the moon,” said the Mother, her eyes still transfixed on that pale red orb in the night sky. “”I had a dream that the moon spoke to me.”

“And what did it say,” asked the Boy, his eyes wide and watering with fear.

His mother froze, her face turned to stone and her eyes full of the blood moon’s glow. Hesitation poured from her pursed lips and her scrunched brow. She thought she would spare her son by omitting the gore and grim message the blood moon had shared with her, but her reluctance told the Boy more about what she had dreamt than she would ever realize.

“I don’t remember,” she lied. “But maybe I’ll remember in the morning. But you don’t have to worry about that right, she told her son. “It’s time for bed.”



Gary Holman is a writer and actor from Indianapolis, Indiana. He currently lives in Washington Heights, New York City. He is currently staging his play, “Now Go and Smite” In Chelsea.