Only the Dead Go Free, A Haunting of Words

AHOW                17580146_426927567699793_1261155030_n

“The shower’s hiss behind me competes with the roaring inferno raging down the hallway. Breathless and without thought, I gaze with lifeless eyes into the bathroom mirror. This gore-drenched nightmare of a witch is no longer recognizable. What have I done? What was the lesson here? I never wanted this.
Questions bubble up like water-borne carcasses until I hear his final words thunder in my head. “Only the dead go free,” he had said, right before he—
No, there’s nothing left for me now.
I raise the imbrued hunter’s knife to the side of my neck, fingers tightening, hand shaking. My palm sticks to a bloody strip of leather matted on the handle. Sinewy bits of his flesh dangles from the blade’s tip that now presses into mine. A tiny droplet of blood wells where the point pierces the outer layer of skin. Will I die if I never look away, or will time freeze me here forever?

Fiona’s whispered prayer echoes in my mind—
‘—in reparation for all of my sins, for the souls in Purgatory—’
—and I question again if she was correct in her faith. Is there a Heaven, Hell, or Purgatory? Fuck it, it doesn’t matter. Nothing can be changed if it were real anyway, the die has been cast. Sweat trickles down my temple from the growing heat. An acrid stench of burning flesh and gasoline assaults my nostrils.

With my eyes still locked with their dead reflection, I plunge the knife into my neck. Its warm blade slides through my skin, slicing tendon and esophagus until it strikes bone. In a single swift motion, I bring it around the front of my windpipe. The blade squeaks as it scrapes across my vertebrae. A new mouth opens where one should never be. Crimson sprays onto my ghoulish doppelganger.
What must be gallons of blood splashes into the rusted sink, maroon on brown. Wells of saline liquid spring from the back of my throat, and pour from both the slit in my neck and my mouth. Copper stink masks the smoke.
Fiona, oh my Fiona, I miss you more than anything.
The mirror clouds. Is it steam from the shower, or is my vision failing? Is it like this every time? I sense there is truth in the answers flashing across my heart, but just as I am about to reach them, they elude once more.

Weakness overtakes my legs; I stagger then fall into my own gore. My head cracks open on the white tiles like a ripe coconut. Life drains from me in a widening lake of sanguinity. The world evaporates, and the answers disappear.”

‘Only the Dead Go Free’ by J.M. Ames, part of the anthology A Haunting of Words, is now available worldwide in paperback and a variety of eBook options. There are several ways to order, each with a different set of perks:

  • Paperback
    • Direct order from me ($19.99 + $5 S&H). Includes:
      • Free personal delivery if local (at cost via your preferred method if not).
      • Signed copy
      • Free A Haunting of Words / Only the Dead Go Free bookmark
        • AHOWBM1
        • Paypal or Credit Cards – Please use the Paypal link below.
          Buy Now Button
        • Local, in-person delivery
          • If you are local and would prefer to pay cash, check, or money order, please email me at, with the Subject as AHOW Order. Price would be $19.99, no S&H.
    • Direct order from publisher Scout Media. Includes:
      • Free soundtrack on CD. Each song handpicked by the author to represent their story.
      • Order here
    • Order from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Booksamillion – all online book retailers.
      • Free shipping with Amazon if you have a Prime account
      • Available here
  • Ebook 
    • Immediate direct download from publisher here
      • MOBI for Kindle
      • EPUB for eReaders
      • PDF for computers and tablets
    • Amazon
      • MOBI for Kindle here
    • Barnes & Noble

You should also check out the song this story is based on, by the band Transpose. Video


2 thoughts on “Only the Dead Go Free, A Haunting of Words

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