Bryce Albertson lives in what was once known as "Hell on the Border": Fort Smith, Arkansas. The dark psychic residue of this town’s bloody past usually seeps into Bryce’s creative endeavors, whether he’s writing, drawing or terrorizing cats with poorly executed Iron Maiden guitar solos. His potential for creative evil, not laziness, is what has prevented him from building his daughter a much-desired, oft-requested tree house.
Bryce's work has appeared in OnThePremises.com, Chaos Theory: Tales Askew, Nocturnal Ooze and most recently in Malpractice: An Anthology of Bedside Terror.br> br>
The House of Broken Deer
"Know what, Honey?" Brad panted. "That slab out back? There was a house here before this one. It burned in 1928. That’s the foundation. The Sampsons bought the land from here to the highway in ’74 and built this house. They lived here about a year. All five of them -- Mom, Dad, two boys…"
"… and a sweet little baby girl. Her name was Shaney, too! How about that, huh? They tried to burn this house, too. The Star Gazette said they did it to destroy the evidence, but we know better, don’t we, Babe? No big deal. Our new kitchen is so much roomier than the original."
Brad wiped sweat from his face with his T-shirt. "Yeah, this place has a fascinating history. Did you know, back in 1825, the French traded with the Crow right on this very spot? It’s true! Everything was hunky-dory, until they disagreed over how many furs a new rifle was worth. The French, the Crow -- every last…"
"…one of them."
"Brad! Please," Terri screamed. "I love you!"
"I love you, too, Sweetheart," Brad said. "Yeah… The Blackfoot -- their land was just the other side of that creek out back -- they called this little slice of Heaven ‘the Place of Broken Deer’. See, during mating season, bucks fight for mating rights. They lock antlers and wrestle. Only the winner gets to breed. It’s mostly a display of bravado, but not here."
"When they fought here, the strongest killed the others. Sometimes, a weaker one would get lucky, hook his antlers in the alpha’s belly and gut him. They all fought hard to get a piece of that sweet doe meat. And when it came down to the last stag standing, the victor fucked the shit out of the does, and when he was done…"
"… he’d kill those little sluts, too! And when they were dead, he’d mark his territory -- piss all over the place, scrape his antlers against trees until his skull was exposed. Then, if he hadn’t bled out or died from exhaustion, he’d find a good, strong tree, lock his antlers with it aaaaaaaaand…"
"… twist until he broke his own neck!"
"Shhh… it’s okay, Shaney," Terri said. "It’s okay. Mommy’s here."
"Don’t cry, Doodlebug," Brad said. "You think I’m mad at you? Daddy’s not mad at you. Either of you. I love you! It’s thirsty, that’s all."
"You see this rage -- this beautiful rage -- it was here before we bought this place. It was here before any of us -- the Sampsons, the Crow. It was here before the deer became deer. It was here before life dragged its stinking…"
"… guts out of the god damn sea!"
The hole was too small. Black-purple bruised skin snagged on the jagged edges and peeled away from his arm as Brad forced his hand through it. There was a sickening crunch as he flexed his broken fingers on the other side of the door. The blood caused them to slip twice before they found the lock.
"It’s always been here," Brad said.
"It told me so."