Web of Deceit

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: House of Ghosts

Sometimes you can deceive yourself into thinking things are normal...

Web of Deceit

Q.B. McKinney




“No, no, no, NNNNOOOO!!!”

I waken myself from this nightmare with cold sweats and trembling hands. Did I wake the others? Oh, God…I pray that I didn’t.

They’ve come back…the nightmares; I thought I was done with them. I thought I was cured. I’m not that same person; I’ve changed. These thoughts are rushing through my mind as I shower and try to regain my composure.  Drying off in front of the mirrored shower doors, I don’t like what I see…knuckles bruised and bleeding; and that look in my eyes. Those eyes…


The first time I met them, I was probably about six or seven years old. The older kids in the neighborhood teased me and picked on me because I was “different.” Different, meaning that I was new to the area and didn’t fit into their group. One of the bullies pushed me to my limit…the next thing I remember, my aunt was pulling me off an unconscious and limp body.

My aunt must have known something wasn’t “right” with me, because she kept a close watch on me at all times. She was a very religious person, praying all the time and carrying around a well-worn bible; and she sternly admonished that I do the same. “You need Jesus, boy” is what she frequently told me. I think we were at church more than we were at home; and when we were at home, we were studying the “Scriptures.” That seemed to help, it took my mind off my inner feelings and suppressed the demons within…for a while.

I grew up like any other normal kid, hating school, cutting up in class, playing around with the few friends I had. I was even able to fool everyone into thinking that I was weak and somewhat timid, until one day it happened. I don’t remember anything about the incident, but my friends told me that if an adult hadn’t beaned me on the head with a baseball bat, I probably would have “killed that dude.” I went home and cleaned the blood from my head and face, scalp wounds bleed like a ‘motherf’er’ and I had a nice goose egg where I had been bopped. Staring at myself in the mirror I see those familiar eyes gazing back at me…with a smirk of satisfaction on its face. This can’t be happening again…


I transfer from school to school until I graduate, then I leave town and the past behind me. Working on the docks keep me occupied and physically strong, with volunteer service taking up the rest of my time. I think that things are finally getting better, that maybe I will keep this beast contained. Everyone sees me as the “quiet guy that keeps to himself,” and “the gentle giant that wouldn’t harm a fly.” I’m thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to leave the other “me,” even looking in the mirror each morning while shaving I can’t see those eyes anymore. Life is finally good.

I meet this young couple while coaching a youth basketball camp. They seem like a nice couple, just starting out in life with high hopes and big dreams. The husband was transferred into the area with his job and brought his family with him. The first few years were great for them, I show them around the area and introduce them to a few church members. They befriend me, even though I was leery of letting anyone get close. But I was safe and harmless, that’s what everyone told me and I was beginning to believe it. We had dinner together of several occasions and the wife had introduced me to one of her friends from “back home.” We began talking long distance on the phone for a while, and I visited her a time or two but never getting too serious. A couple of more years passed and then it happened.

There was a company-wide layoff and the husband was one of the few cut from their position. He was thinking that the company would be as loyal to him as he had been to them. Boy was he wrong! They cut him loose without as much as a severance package. They had a little savings, but most was used during the move and his wife hadn’t been able to find work since they moved. I offered to loan him money I had saved; but being a proud man, he wasn’t “about to take any charity.” I told him that I’ve worked on the docks for a while and I would talk to the foreman to see if I could get him a job there. “Hey, man. I would appreciate it” he said, choking back both pride and tears. We talk for a moment more and he said he had to get home to the family, I give him a ‘Bro-hug’ and slip the money into the pocket of his jacket. That should get him through the rough spot.  Working on the docks is strenuous if you’re not accustomed to physical labor, and this guy surely wasn’t. Corporate life had made him soft, and the ribbing from the other guys on the dock didn’t help matters one bit. Being the new guy, you get all of the shit loads and work none of the other fellas want to do. “Damn, I gotta take shit from the wife at home and guys from work too? This ain’t fair, man” he said.

“Give it a little time, they’ll get used to you and lighten up. I went through the same thing when I started” I reassured him.

“Yeah, right” he replied in disbelief, “you got picked on….you’re probable twice the size of anyone on the dock and never mumble a word other than ‘I got this’ whenever you get assigned a load.”

“Hey, we all go through some rough times. Hang in there.”

I drop him off after work since he sold his car to ‘stay afloat.’ His son met us at the door. “Hey kiddo, I haven’t seen you a basketball practice lately? You alright?” I query giving the lad a fist bump.

“Yes sir.” He replies, but not making eye contact with me. His mother comes downstairs walking gingerly and holding her side. She forces a weak smile when she sees me.

“Thanks for the ride, man. I’ll see you at work tomorrow” the husband says in an attempt to shoo me out the door quickly. I make a quick mental note of everything and leave; “yeah, see ya later.”


A couple of weeks passed and all seemed fine, the husband was settling in with a few of the other guys on the docks; not the cream of the crop, but at least he’s gotten a circle of friends to help if needed. He bought an old pickup truck from one of the guys and started hanging around after work “knocking back a few brews” before going home. I see the kid from time to time, a bruise here and there, but he’s a boy and boys get bruised while playing, right? This time I see him riding his bicycle in the direction of the church, I’m glad he’s returning for basketball practice. The kid needs some activities to get him out of the house. He’d better save some of that energy for practice, I push them hard but not past the point of exhaustion. I accelerate to catch up with him due to his frantic pedaling and when I get next to him, can see him sporting a fresh black eye. “Hey kid, pull over…you’re speeding” I jokingly yell out of the window. He brakes his bike with enough force it causes the rear wheel to fishtail. “My mom…” is all he is able to get out, his chest heaving and deep sobs catching his voice in his throat. I get out, put his bike in the back of the truck and say “get in.”

We reach the kids house in a matter of minutes, he’s visibly shaken when we pull up in the driveway. “I think she’s dead” the kid murmured, tears streaming down his cheeks.

“Stay here,” I said exiting the truck and start toward the house. I go to the front door and hear things breaking inside the house. I glance in through the window near the door and notice legs sticking out from behind the couch and the husband pacing back and forth like a caged animal. “This is MY HOUSE and I’ll go and do what I damn well please. You got that, bitch?” He then knocks over the dining room table and leave my line of sight. I take this opportunity to check the door, to my luck it was still unlocked when the kid ran for his life. Slowly I enter and stand with my back against the wall, not wanting the husband to know anyone was there. He returned with a beer in his hands and kicked several empties along the way. I still can’t tell the condition of the wife but from the looks of her legs, she’s possibly unconscious seeing that there is no blood pooling near. He strides victoriously to his recliner, stopping briefly to kick his conquest in the side and plops into the chair. Finally, movement from the victim, she wriggles her toes and draws her legs up to her, behind the couch out of sight. The husband turns on the television and some video music channel spews forth something that sounds like thunderous banging, guttural growls and thumping staccato guitar. I use this distraction to check on the victim curled in a fetal position behind the couch, stealthily moving just outside of the husband’s periphery to get to her position. I kneel to check vitals, and she lets out a small whimper; cringing, physically preparing for the next onslaught of beatings.

“Whatcha say, bitch?” the husband mocks, rustling in the chair in a drunken attempt to free himself from the chair. I remained crouched until I see one leg breach the area between the couch and recliner, before uncoiling with the swiftness of a cobra; hitting the man at the waist and taking him to the floor. He lets out a surprised, high pitched shriek and begins swinging wildly; striking me with what feels like taps about my chest and neck. Pinning both of his hands in my left hand, I return the blows repeatedly with my right; first sending two teeth skittering across the floor and the second crushing the orbital socket of his left eye. The last punch mashes his nose and sends a crimson spray down the front of his shirt and on the floor beside him…and I hear a weak, timid voice behind me…”Mom?”

The squirrel of a husband seizes this opportunity to wrench one of hands free, punching me squarely in the jumblys, sending a feeling of nausea into the pit of my stomach; and writhes from beneath me, bolting into another part of the house. I turn to see the lad standing over his mother sobbing uncontrollably, and I stand, a bit wobbly now and walk over to assist. I scoop up the mother, who still draws herself into a tighter ball in fear of being struck again and winces at being held too tightly; I then pick up the boy and start for the front door thinking the whelp of a husband had fled to lick his wounds. I hear a crack that sounds like someone had broken a piece of dry timber, but I knew that the coward had returned, releasing the slide on his semi-automatic pistol. I hear the report and simultaneously feel an excruciatingly searing pain in my side. Stumbling a bit, I place the boy down and notice that he is pale and crumples to the floor, holding his side in agony and a mixture of pain and disbelief on his small face.

“Fuck you, man. They’re my family...so piss off. Mind your own goddamn business…”

“You made this my business…” I seethe, placing the mother on the floor next to her son. “You made this my business when you hit this kid,” I continued stepping closer to him yet to the side to keep the others out of the line of fire. “You made it my business when you beat this defenseless woman” another step closer…”Look at them. LOOK AT THEM!!!”


His eyes darted toward them and back to me, hands trembling, and a trickle of blood flowing from his nose. I couldn’t tell what was burning more, the hole in my side or my rage; but this was going to end. Now… Seeing me move forward, he lifted the pistol but before he could acquire target, I lunged and grabbed the weapon and his hands, bringing my forearm up in a sweeping motion just underneath his elbows; causing him to loose grip of the firearm. I then clutched his throat and lifted him from the ground, his eyes bulging from fear and lack of oxygen. I back him to a nearby wall for leverage and continue to my death grip; he begins flopping like a fish on a hook and thrumming his heels against the wall. His pupils begin to widen as life slowly fades from his body; my only thought was did he see the daemon in my eyes…


I don’t remember hearing the police arriving, nor did I hear the order to drop the husband and place my hands behind my head. I don’t remember hearing the Advanced Taser Unit being deployed, nor my muscles contracting and my falling to the floor. Responding medics attended to all involved, the wife and son were rushed to the nearby trauma unit; I was rushed to the emergency room and prepped for surgery. The husband…well, the guys down at the docks payed their last respects to him by pouring a beer over his casket after it was lowered down into the grave.



It has been years since I heard from the boy or his mother. It was nice to see them again at his graduation; he had grown up to be a fine young man. The mother had also recovered and grown well, she kept calling me her “hero;” telling my wife how I had saved her from her demon of a husband. Something in my past that I wished would have stayed there.


But now it has returned…



Submitted: December 28, 2017

© Copyright 2021 Q.B. McKinney. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:


Oleg Roschin

Very well-written and intriguing from the beginning to the end! This story seems to be a departure from your usual style and themes, and it’s apparently not connected to the rest. I love it how the story forces us to think about the ambiguity of the protagonist’s predicament - looks like the “demon” did come in handy on that one crucial occasion. The ending is enigmatic - were the demons still haunting him even after he’d found a way to make them serve a good purpose? To be honest, I prefer those other stories of yours, with paranormal and sci-if themes, though this one is by no means inferior in terms of its literary merit, so this is just my subjective opinion.

Fri, December 29th, 2017 3:13am


Thank you for your insightful comment, I was trying yet another style of storytelling. Actually, purging a demon from a nightmare I had the night before. I was a bit sceptical of the story in regards to its ability to stand with the others, but your comment of its literary merit puts me at ease. Now back to what I'm comfortable writing...sci-fi.

Fri, December 29th, 2017 2:25am


A really well-written and well-plotted read. That demon of a temper came in handy at the time but I can easily see how it could be hell to live with. Seriously, great character development in such a short piece, so good work!

Fri, December 29th, 2017 7:41pm


Thank you. I'm practicing with different styles of storytelling to see which I like better. Shorter stories seem to be easier to write for me, forcing me to get to the point without the added fluff. Glad you liked the story.

Fri, December 29th, 2017 12:46pm

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