Craig D.B. Patton is a member of New England Horror Writers and a graduate/survivor of the Borderlands Press Boot Camp. He has lived most of his life in New England, the exception being 11 wonderful years in Chicago. It was while there that he figured out he was a writer. He has written mostly short stories, poems, several Christmas pageant plays,
and a bit of Twitter fiction. Currently, he is working on his first novel and, in his own words, “ …since it is the first draft of my first novel, trying not to let the stench overpower me while I learn. All of my work can be labeled as speculative fiction. All of my stories are true, including the parts I make up.” Some of his stories have been published in Shroud Magazine, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (Pocket Books), and other markets. His first published poem recently appeared in A Sea of Alone: Poems for Alfred Hitchcock (Dark Scribe Press), and more are forthcoming in The Terror at Miskatonic Falls (Shroud Publishing) and Illumen.
Submitted for your perusal: the story of the grief a mother and father feel after the loss of their son and the terror of the events after.
He checks his watch. 05-23-10 4:15 A.M. He shows his wife. She nods and tightens her grip on his hand to stop the trembling. Their son will be home again very soon.
It has been four years since their son vanished in a massive truck bomb explosion in Baghdad. Witnesses said he was standing right next to it when it went off.
There was an empty, flag-draped casket at the funeral. Framed photos everywhere, overcompensating for the lack of a body. A field’s worth of flowers. Well wishes and military salutes. Then tail lights receding down the long dirt road from their home and a settling, spreading emptiness.
For weeks, they remained deep in shock. Sometimes they even believed their son still lived. The casket flag and the condolence letter from the President in the family room reminded them otherwise.
The swelling boil of their grief ruptured on their son’s birthday in July. They wailed. They smashed dishes. They screamed at God. How could He take their son? They had prayed every day for his safety. He had been a pious man, respectful and humble, eager to do good in this troubled world.
God did not answer.
On the first anniversary of their son’s death, they were not at home. They had gone to her sister’s home in Minneapolis, seeking comfort from family.
When they returned, they opened the front door and stared. The living room was trashed. Paintings hung askew or lay on the floor. The mirror and lamp were shattered. Plants were toppled, spilling dirt onto the floor.
They called the police.