Monday, June 6, 2016

Morphosis - a KSHM Project story sample

Here is one of the short stories featured in the fifth volume of the KSHM Project, a joint venture between Australian photographer Karl Strand and myself. Our project was different, in that we combined Karl's stunning visual images with my writing, creating a one of a kind experience where the words and images play on one another creating a stronger experience for the reader.

During our joint tenure, we created five volumes of photostories, most of which is available for free everywhere where ebooks are sold. The exception being volume 4, Elusive Realities; and volume 5 A Stocking Stuffer, which are available for download at a very reasonable price.

Each volume has its own theme, with the fifth being horror / crime theme. The story featured here is the mildest one.  


Six weeks ago, I found two junkies in my basement.

Even before I joined the force, I always hated junkies. But those two really got to me. I
mean, it was my basement, my damn basement in my own damn house. Who the fuck
did they think they were?

The sound of glass shattering against concrete floor yanked me from my sleep. Startled, I
jumped up thinking the cat had knocked one of my wife’s vases over. And that’s when I
heard it, the muffled giggling. I grabbed my shotgun and quietly made my way to the

They had the light on. Two kids, barely old enough to have driver’s licenses, sitting
cross-legged as if they were at home. At first, I was baffled, but then I saw the syringe on
the floor between them. Rage rose inside me.

I stepped out from behind the corner, the barrel aimed at them.
“Get up!”


“Get the fuck up!”

Nothing. And then, I was only a few feet away. They looked right through me as if I was
some apparition. I rocked the pump. The sound of a shell being chambered woke them
right up.

“Hey, man,” said one of them, a blond kid with a peachy fuzz above his upper lip.

“We’re sorry.” The words rolled out of his mouth slowly, almost like a melody.

“Sorry ain’t cutting it.”

“Don’t call the cops . . . We’ll give you some dope if you let us go.”

“I am a cop!”

The other kid’s mouth dropped open, and he just stared at me, motionless.

I nudged him with the barrel. “Up!”

This time they obeyed.

When we left the house, and I pushed them on towards my car, the blond kid’s face
turned as pale as his hair.

“Let us go. Please,” he begged, his speech no longer slow.

I ignored him.

I opened my trunk, shoved them both in, and drove off towards the bad part of town I
knew too well. Abandoned warehouses, hideouts . . . Gang territory. When I got in deep
enough, I pulled over and let the kids out.

I led them on towards an old warehouse, kicked the door open, and nudged them in.

“You broke into my . . .”

“Sir,” the blond kid cut me off.

I pulled the trigger and rocked a new shell in. One smooth rehearsed movement—years
of training will do that. His eyes opened wide as he fell backward.

“Fuck . . .” The other kid finally decided to speak up. Too bad the lead shot swiped the
“you” from his lips before he could finish.

I walked back outside and drove home.

At the bottom of the driveway, I found their car. An old, rusty-looking Civic with a
cracked windshield. I looked inside—the keys were in the ignition. I got in, started the
engine, and contemplated whether to drown it in a lake or leave it in the woods. That’s
when I saw it in the rearview mirror—three neatly wrapped brown bricks. I drove inside
the garage instead.

Heroin—three little bricks sitting on my workbench—I’ve spent enough time chasing it
off the streets to know what it was. What the fuck? It was too much for no one to notice
it missing. Three bricks. I did a quick calculation in my head. Even before it'd hit the
streets, it was enough to pay the house off. The wheels in my head spinning, I tried to
sleep. It was all in vain.

The next day, I went to all the usual places and spread the word that I got a deal to
make. They all knew I was a cop, so no one talked.

I called in sick, went home, and sat in the garage looking at the bricks. All the busts over
the years—nothing but pitiful creatures with little baggies desperately clinging to what
was left of their lives. But this, this was different—it had a certain allure. I always
wondered why people did that shit—was it really so good?

I closed my eyes and the images of the kids I shot flashed behind my eyelids. I was a
murderer, a fucking murderer sitting on a pile of heroin. All the busts over the years, all
the hard work it took to remain straight despite the daily dealings with crooks and filth.
More than anything, I felt disgusted with myself. A tear rolled down my cheek as I
reached for one of the bricks.

Two days later, I was back at work. No one reported two people missing; no one had
seen the Civic in my driveway. I was safe, my life was safe, and everything was as it
should be, except for three tiny prick marks on my left arm. The day passed as if in a
haze . . . All I could think of were the kids’ faces and the dope on my bench.

The next six weeks, I kept sampling my product. My product—what the fuck had I
become? At first, one shot was enough to get me through the day, to black out the
images playing in my mind whenever I shut my eyes, but after a while I started needing
more. Joint pains and sweat in the middle of workday became increasingly hard to hide.
I grew irate.

That’s when I started bringing a little baggie with me to work. I was becoming one of the
pitiful creatures I chased for a living. But I had a badge, and they did not. Shooting up in
the bathroom surrounded by fellow cops made me feel like shit, but it was better than
having the shakes. If only the faces of those two kids stopped appearing whenever I
closed my eyes.

Sitting at my desk today, I was scratching the countless little scabs on my arm when the
phone rang.

“Detective Novak?” a heavily accented male voice came over the wires. A large guy,
judging by the voice.


“You’ve got something that belongs to me,” he said. “I’ll meet you at the blue
warehouse by the old docks in two hours . . . Make sure you are there!” The phone went

I guess the word got out after all.

I told my captain that I was feeling sick and had to go home. He let me. After fifteen
years on the force there isn’t much I can’t do. Had it not been for my own conscience, I
could even get away with a murder.

I stopped by the house, picked up the dope, and drove to the docks. Finding the
warehouse was easy—typical gang signs in a shitty neighborhood overrun by those I
was sworn to fight. I walked in, shut the door behind me, and looked around. Crap and
muck scattered all over the ground, graffiti on the walls, broken windows. Near one
wall stood a filthy sofa—Rape Chair—it said. I shivered.

I’d seen a plenty of places like this one while on duty, but there was always commotion,
adrenaline, and loud noise. This time, it was different. I felt sick to my stomach . . . sick
with the bastards who used this place to violate other human beings, sick with the
pathetic junkies, sick with myself. When did the line between us blur? When did I
become a repulsive fuck? Right then and there I wanted to kill them all, any one of them
who would walk in through the door.

I’m sitting on the sofa, two wrapped bricks and an open one on the armrest. Next to the
pile lays my service weapon, cocked and ready. There are fifteen minutes until the
mysterious man shows up. If only my hands would stop shaking, so I could steady the
lighter under the spoon.


You can check out the rest of the KSHM lineup here:






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