When the Walls Fall Down (excerpt) by Lou Rasmus

The following is an excerpt of the short story: When the Walls Fall Down by Lou Rasmus, which you can find in the anthology The Hawthorne Project. Inside you’ll find ten dark and creepy stories written by him and other amazing authors. I hope you enjoy this little snippet. Oh, and click any of the links below to buy.

It’s a ceramic pan. There are two raw chicken thighs inside of the pan. Some olive oil is pooling beneath the chicken and then I add salt, pepper, onion powder, a little cayenne, and I top it with some herbs. The oven is at 400 degrees. The rack is on the second rung from the bottom. Before I put the pan in the oven, I mix the seasonings and the oil and the two raw chicken thighs until everything is evenly spread. The chicken is icy between my fingers; my fingers are slimy between the chicken and the oil.

It’s a ceramic pan. And there are two beating hearts inside of the pan. Ugly, vascular hearts. Going buh-bump buh-bump buh-bump. And buh-bump buh-bump buh-bump. My hands spasm and recoil. One heart beats faster and more erratically than the other. So much so that it beats over the edge of the ceramic pan and onto the floor. There’s a heavy, viscous pool of red where it lands. And then the thing just goes on beating – buh-bump buh-bump buh-bump – around the kitchen. One of the cats comes down from on top of the refrigerator where he was sleeping to look at it. His head turns one way and then the other as he studies it. It’s unfamiliar to him, a beating heart. He’s never seen anything like it. And when it goes beating and jumping around the kitchen it startles him. He jerks backward from it. He springs straight up into the air. And then he swats at it, with his little white paw. He swats at it in the fast, repetitive way cats swat at things. Like quick sideways jabs. But he can’t seem to get it. The heart is beating too fast and too erratically. It’s headed for the door. It’s leaving, I think to myself. I’m not sure where it’s leaving to, but I can tell that it doesn’t want to be here, so I let it go.

I look back down at the pan. It’s a ceramic pan. There are two raw chicken thighs in the pan and they’re mixed together with olive oil, salt, pepper, onion powder, cayenne, and some herbs. It’s just a regular pan with regular chicken. The one cat is asleep on the refrigerator and the other is sleeping on the couch in the living room, I’m sure. She sleeps there most of the day and usually through the night, too. The oven is at 400 degrees and the rack is on the second rung from the bottom of the oven. I put the pan into the oven, set a timer for forty minutes, and wash my hands.

When Oxford comes into the kitchen he asks me what’s for dinner.

The chicken thighs have been in the oven for ten minutes, I have vegetables sautéing on the stove, and some sweet potatoes are boiling in a pot.

“Your favorite,” I say brightly.

Oxford steps closer. A smile sneaks up on his face and he sniffs at the air. He has a cute, pointed nose, I think.

Then he says, “salmon? Is it the lemon-parmesan crusted salmon?”

I back myself up against the stovetop to hide the vegetables and sweet potatoes.


He comes closer and smiles bigger and sniffs a few more times.

“Oh!” Oxford says. “It smells like asparagus, too. Ah! I love asparagus Teddy!”

I stutter out a soft “well…”

He strides up to me until his chest is pressed against mine. Just enough for me to feel the size of his chest on mine. His broad and heavy and strong chest. It takes over my deflated frame and bends me backwards over the stovetop until the heat of the burners starts to make me sweat. That’s when he sees it. Over my shoulder he sees the sautéed vegetables and boiled sweet potatoes. His pointed little nose turns down.

“Wait,” he says. He grabs me by the arms and moves me to the side away from the oven door. Then he opens the oven, sees the chicken, and drops his head. He doesn’t slam the door shut, but he closes it hard enough to make it clear that what he was going to say next isn’t going to be good.

And what he says next isn’t good.

You can find Lou’s story, along with nine additional ones, in The Hawthorne Project. Each creepy tale interweaves with the others for a week of terror on Hawthorne Drive, a small cul-de-sac in Greenfield, Wisconsin. Buy it at lulu, Amazon, or on your Kindle.

7 Comments on “When the Walls Fall Down (excerpt) by Lou Rasmus

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