albrunoi
 
Who is Al Bruno III?? There are so many questions but so few answers. Is he the outcast son of an outcast son trying to make his way in a world that grows darker and stranger with every passing day? Is he a workplace comedian wielding chaoti...
SHARE THIS PAGE View Viral Dashboard ›
    • albrunoi

      Precious Machine, A rusted electric fence surrounds the walled facility and the facility itself is a series of squat single story buildings connected by hallways. Every window is barred, every door is bolted, every surface is gray or blue. In this way the Kaydeross Asylum keeps the murderous nightmares of its prisoners tucked away from the world of ordinary madness. Orderlies move through the hallways and buildings like ants, jaded boredom has rendered them faceless and emotionless. They go through their routines but have long ago stopped seeing their charges as human beings. The physicians and psychiatrists assigned to this place are no better, any thoughts of rehabilitating their patients have long been ground away by the never-ending crush of State-required paperwork. Only Dr. Annabelle Masters truly cared about what went on here. Despite being the director of the facility she still made it a point to oversee the progress of the women remanded to the Kaydeross Asylum. There is a framed photograph she kept on the wall of her office, it shows her standing within the center of a crowd of women wearing faded hospital gowns and slippers; she is smiling despite the fact she is standing with a group of convicted murderers. As I went through Dr. Masters’s office my gaze returned to the picture again and again. There was something about the patients that haunted me- despite their smiling faces their eyes seemed to be screaming. I was just a temporary administrator sent in to replace Dr. Masters while the investigation into her disappearance moved forward. It was my job to restore some semblance of order to the facility but I already knew it would be no easy task. A tall bookcase occupied one side of the room, some of the texts shelved there were the standards of our profession but others had fallen out of print after being dismissed as bald faced quackery. After this I turned my attention to her desk. It was ugly, gray and metallic. It reminded me of the sort of desk a schoolteacher might have. I searched through the drawer and found one had been locked. It took some effort but I was able to break the lock and found seven files that were thick with handwritten notes and EEG readouts. Dr. Masters’s notes were written on cheap onionskin paper, her handwriting script was cramped and strange, reading it was hard going. There was one folder for each of the Kaydeross Asylum’s more infamous charges. She had been interviewing and treating these murderesses secretly. No it was more than that, she had been experimenting on them. Even now I can recall some of her notes almost perfectly- …the Precious Machine continues to perform better than expected on Leslie Knapp but she resists treatment. She claws at the air and calls the names of her children. The modified styluses titter and scratch at the paper, there is something beautiful about the patterns they make. When I playback the audio tapes it almost sounds like an animal is skittering in the background like a rat gone wild with the urge to gnaw… A search of Dr. Masters’s office revealed no audio tapes or electroencephalogram, and her notes were maddeningly vague as to what exactly she was trying to accomplish. Exhaustion, confusion and the murky February afternoon conspired to make me drowsy. I sat down in Dr. Masters’ leather-backed chair and leaned back. I meant only to rest my eyes but I was soon asleep. The dream that came was at first very literal, I was sitting in the office with the cryptic files spread out before me. There was a hollow rapping at the door and I called for the visitor to enter not looking up from my work. Once the visitor stood on the opposite side of the desk I became gripped with a childlike terror. I did not want to look up but my head moved of its own volition and I found myself staring at a figure from my long-abandoned faith. I knew that frail, beatific gaze and those stigmatic hands. But the crown of thorns he wore was metallic and it sparked. My breath caught in my throat as the figure opened his mouth to speak but all that came out was a faint scraping sound like a record that had reached the end of its song. I awoke then, choking and gasping like a nearly drowned man, but the scratching sound continued. Once the dream had faded away and I was calm, I realized where the strange noise was coming from. Initially the orderlies balked at my request insisting that the moving of furniture was a job for maintenance but I insisted. Once the heavy mahogany bookcase had been moved a doorway was revealed. We forced the door open and found what must have once been a storage closet. The so-called ‘Precious Machine’ was there and it was, as I had thought, a strangely modified EEG machine. A tangle of wires led to a web of sensors that resembled the crown I had seen in my dreams. The EEG had long run out of paper and the styluses scraped and scratched on the bare rollers. And beneath that crown of sensors was a desiccated figure, she had only been missing for a little over a week but the flesh had an almost mummified look to it. We could only identify the body because of the name badge clipped to the lab coat, and by the eyes, the perfectly preserved eyes that stared back at us. Oh how Dr. Masters’s eyes screamed.

    • albrunoi

      A Man Called Corpse
      by
      Al Bruno III
       http://albruno3.blogspot.com/2014/01/tales-from-oddside-man-called-corpse.html There was no accident. Those things did it and they’ll do it again. Even now I can still hear those scratchy little voices saying, “Meat. Meat.” You know the story from the papers; cross country bus blows a tire and goes crashing into a ravine in the Arizona desert, thirty-seven dead or vanished and one survivor. Some of you might think this is an appropriate punishment. At the time fleeing from New York to Los Angeles seemed like my only option. Did I think about Claire waiting at the altar in front of an audience of her family and friends? No, not at all. It happened about an hour after we crossed the state line. What I remember is the bus swerving and pitching over. Everyone was thrown against the ceiling then back to the floor. We rolled seven times in all. I struck the roof of the bus head first, there was a loud crack that I felt and heard. I’m not sure how long I was out, long enough for the bus to stop rolling but not much more than that. All around me people were sobbing and groaning, some were calling 911, the pale light from their cell phones casting an ugly glow over everything. The bus had landed on its side, a pair of seats had torn loose from the floor and I was pinned beneath them. Only my head and left arm were free but I couldn’t move them. I couldn’t even feel them. I was right beside a dead man, he was staring at me with a surprised expression.  The things came crawling in through the shattered windshield. I thought they were children at first but the light of the cell phones revealed they were naked, gray skinned Things. The people near the front of the bus started screaming. Groups of the things surrounded each survivor and started chanting “Meat. Meat!” before dragging them away. Whenever those things came upon someone that had died they would prod and sniff at the body experimentally. Once were sure of it they would hiss “Corpse.” and move on. Most of the survivors were too injured to move, those that did try to run or fight didn’t make it far. I knew what I had to do, I laid perfectly still in the blood and the broken glass with my eyes closed and my breathing shallow. Be dead. I thought to myself, Be dead. “Meat! Meat!” “Corpse!” I listened to them toy with the dead body beside me, lifting its head up and dropping it back down on the broken glass. “Corpse.” The thing sounded disappointed, “Corpse.” Maybe you would have screamed by now. How long could you have held your breath? How long could you have laid still? There is no doubt in my mind that being hidden under a pile of twisted metal and fabric is one of the things that saved my life. Just one of them. The things began sniffing at me, their breath smelled of rot and reptiles. I imagined my skin prickling with revulsion. I was sure Those things would notice, I was sure that any moment They would take me like the others. “Corpse?” One of Them took an experimental bite out of my arm. I only noticed because of the warm spray that hit my face. There was the sound of thoughtful chewing. “Corpse.” Then they left. Where did Those Things take the survivors? And why didn’t the police and paramedics find any footprints or drag marks in the desert sand? The authorities are blaming coyotes but they’ve seen the teeth marks on me. No coyote leaves a wound like that.  The police just won’t believe me. They roll their eyes and tell me I was unconscious and dreaming the whole time. I’ve given up trying to make them listen. I just want to go home, I want to get out of this hospital and out of this state but the doctors say it isn’t safe to do that. They say I have a long recovery ahead before travel becomes an option. Internal decapitation is what they call it. When my head hit on the roof of the bus my spine separated from my skull. I’m paralyzed from the neck down, I can’t feel anything; not my legs or my arms, not even a bite on the shoulder. That’s what saved me. My parents and brother are coming to see me. They couldn’t afford a flight from New York, we’re not wealthy people, so they’re driving here. Dad called a couple of times from the road to check in. He even called to let me know they when they were crossing the Arizona border. Thing is I haven’t heard from them since, and that was two days ago.

    • albrunoi

      Sweet Nothings
      by
      Al Bruno III

      http://albruno3.blogspot.com/2010/08/tales-from-oddside-sweet-nothings.html The hotel desk clerk’s baggy eyes widened at the mere mention of the number. “732? You don’t want that room.” Every year the same thing, a different clerk with the same questions. Ordinarily I endured the interminable excuses but this year’s pilgrimage had been particularly unpleasant. The car had coughed, sputtered and threatened to die at every rest stop; the clouds had been bloated and full of rain. Rainy days were always the hardest. So, I nipped the discussion in the bud. With an offhand gesture I tossed a wad of bills on the counter and spoke again, “Room 732 please.” “You don’t- ” “Give me room 732 for the night, and you can keep the change.” The expression on the desk clerk’s face was almost comical, he swept the bills out of sight and slipped me the key. Turning away from the counter I headed down the familiar maze of hallways. The desk clerk’s unspoken questions burned at my back, Why that room? Haven’t you heard the stories? Aren’t you afraid? I made sure I was out of sight before he decided to ask any of them. When I had first come here- No, not I. We. When we had first come here, this was a four star establishment, with brightly lit hallways, working elevators, even room service. The elevator had stopped working three years ago, and when the bulbs in the hallways burnt out no one bothered to replace them. I pushed the door to the stairwell open; figures crouched in the murk, grunting half-heartedly. Bypassing them I headed up the stairs, debris crunching underfoot. I was out of breath by the time I reached the seventh floor, no surprise there really. I’m not a young man anymore. Sometimes I wondered to myself why the hotel had fallen out of favor so quickly. It couldn’t just be the fact that someone had died here, after all, people died in their hotel rooms all the time. Maybe it was the way she died, maybe the horror of her final moments was so profound that it permeated every floor and hallway. Maybe the slumbering business travelers and vacationing families would wake at exactly 1:49 AM, their hearts beating wildly and their sheets drenched with sweat. Maybe it was nothing more than new, more conveniently located-off ramp that cut this whole section of the city out of the tourist trade. The sound of the seventh floor stairwell opening was high and shrill like a woman’s scream. Frowning, I trudged down the hallway, listening to the pat-pat-patter of the leaky ceiling. I found the familiar suite and slipped the key into the lock. The door resisted for a heartbeat then swung open. For a moment I stood there staring into the shadowed, empty room, torn between the instinct to run and the vows I had made. This, like the bickering with the desk clerk, is a ritual for me. The lights stayed off, I knew the geography here all too well. Closing the door behind me, I crossed the room and sat on the musty bed. It was funny in a way, after almost a decade I still trembled at this moment. For a time I stared into the gloom, watching the darkness churn, then I closed my eyes and replayed visions of broken locks, police tape and dried blood over and over in my mind. A shudder worked its way up my spine. I could almost imagine her kneeling on the bed behind me, her slender arms wrapping around my back. “I miss you.” My voice was reverent, uncertain, of all the rituals I observed on this terrible anniversary this was the most important, “I wish I had come back sooner. I wish I had been here. I wish-.” From out of the darkness her voice is at my ear, “I know.”