Listen to Hunter

Listen to Hunter.
It’s a command. A request.
The title of the new album from Hunter, coming out on April 13th.

It’s windy outside.
Like, end of the world windy.
I expect to see a skeleton on a pale horse riding through the gusts.

Inside, it’s calm, and Hunter is playing in my headphones.

Unlike their debut album, LISTEN TO HUNTER sounds like it’s more about Hunter the band, than Hunter the singer,

Her vocals are still there, don’t get me wrong, but as a band they sound tighter, like they are beginning to find their groove as a whole.
I may be wrong but it feels like the songs were written as a band – it’s replaced the rawness of their debut with a matured cohesion.

The wind howls, I close my eyes, and I imagine a small, New England local pub with a young PJ Harvey singing.
Especially the song that closes out the album, “Ballad of An Enigma.”
It encapsulates the sound of the album – a small, local 90’s band that plays from their emotions and tries to connect with their audience.

The song writing is tight, but with the gentleness that comes from soul-searching and honing craft.

“The Queen of the Tree Streets” comes on, sounding like the love child of Natalie Merchant and early 2000’s Cranberries.
Where the first album was raw, this album is giddy, with a sweetness undertone that can make you grin when Hunter sings “I’m so sorry I used to be such a bitch.”

This album pulls them from rock to an almost singer/songwriter sensibility.
Drum and vocal heavy, pulsing and upbeat.

My windows rattle and “Good Deed of the Day” starts, the vocals reminding me of the jam bands that are so popular amongst liberal arts students – that kind of snarky, smile through a sneer, ironic lyrical jabs that seem to have drifted away from music on the wind.

Hunter’s sophomore album is what you get when a band gels and becomes a singular unit. It’s not Hunter and her band. It’s just Hunter the band, now.
They are mature and tight and definitely on the right track.

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Hour 24: Cindy (by Kyle Willis)

Seventeen years of dreaming, slashed to an end by the simple constant that is time. 

Cindy locked eyes with Jake on their first day of freshman year, and spent every day since exacting her plan to walk into the Senior Prom on his arm.

 She wasn’t allowed to date, not even allowed to be outside of her home after nightfall. She’d begged her godmother for the chance to attend that grand party with all of her peers whom she cared nothing of except for Jake.

 After four years of hesitation, Cindy’s godmother finally buckled to her pleas, on the condition would be home in her bed before midnight.

 This had everything to do with the attacks that had been increasing over the years. In the night at its darkest, limbs were being torn and flesh was being shredded by some unseen creature. Bigger than anything spotlighted on National Geographic.

 Cindy had dreaded the end of the night almost enough to completely lose all opportunity to enjoy any of its passing hours.

 The deejay announced the final dance and Cindy and Jake embraced, staring into each other’s eyes longingly. They hadn’t yet kissed, but Cindy sure it would happen only if time were on her side.

 Cindy peered over Jack’s shoulder and could see Alex Wagner’s Rolex at the small of Annie Packerman’s back. Three minutes to midnight.

 Cindy bit her lip and apologized to Jack, insisting she had to go home now. Without a kiss. Dammit.  

 Jack protested but Cindy knew she had to run. And she did. And Jack went after her.

 One of the plum strappy pumps Cindy had eyed in the window of Neiman’s flew off her foot as she jetted down the steps of the gymnasium, full speed toward the wooded shortcut across the way.  

 Jake followed.

 “Cindy! Wait, come back! Cindy!”

 Darkness enveloped the wood. Jack peered through the black for Cindy’s silver gown.

 “Cindy! Let me take you home!”

 “Go away, Jack! Get out of here!” Her plea was shrill and labored. “Go now!”

 “Let me take you—”

 Jack stopped in his tracks. In front of him lay Cindy’s gown. Split at every seam it had. A puddle of silver that represented a lifetime of ‘coulda-shoulda-woulda’.

 “Cindy–?”

 THWACK! Jake was knocked to the ground. His arm went warm, then wet, then numb. THWACK! His arm was gone.

 A creature bore with thistly black fur and standing nine feet tall had Jack on the ground at its mercy. Red eyes, hideous fangs.  

 Those red eyes. They had been blue just moments ago. Shrouded with wavy blond hair.  

 Cindy’s hair. Cindy’s eyes.

 Cindy’s appetite. Her protruding jaws clamped onto Jack’s throat. His lifeline flooded her throat, down to her swollen werewolf gut.  

 Midnight had come. Cindy had gone. Jack had lost.

 

Hour 23: Judgement Day

I open my eyes and the sky explodes.
I thought it would be bigger. It was more of a whimper than a bang.

It’s the end of the world and you can hear a whisper.

Everyone was wrong. There was no rapture, no aliens or zombies or world wide war.
It just started as a little spark. Tiny, really. Falling from a singular black cloud over the Pacific ocean.

Like God lit a cigarette and let the match fall.

The ocean caught fire. I think it was fire. It wasn’t hot though.

But it spread.
It spread to land, up mountains and slowly made its way to the sky.
The end of the world. I wasn’t even shocked. I always knew it would happen during my life time.
I mean, I hoped it wouldn’t, don’t get me wrong.

But here we are.
In a way it seems beautiful. Completely hopeless, but beautiful. Like those photographs you see of wars and violent protests.
There were no protests this time. No mass looting like you’d think.

It all went down like a horrible ballet. One spark in the ocean and society jerks and contorts like a Stravinsky firebird.

No pun intended.

If I had control over judgement day, I wouldn’t change anything.
Bright flames and ash falling – it’s peaceful, it’s quiet.

No one is screaming. I don’t hear crying. I don’t even see anyone else.

The end just slowly envelopes everything. Creeping along and leaving the void in it’s trail.
I’m just going to sit back, smoke this last cigarette, drop my match in the sea of flame like a god and wait.
I close my eyes.
I open my eyes and see nothing. Nothing at all. 

Hour 22: Airplane

He thought he’d be safe on the plane. 

No one could get him. No one could find him. 

When the plane bounced he knew it was just the wind. 

A nice peaceful flight going as far away as he could get. 

When he went to the bathroom the lights went out. 

It’s okay, he told himself, this happens. You’re safe. 

When he left the bathroom the cabin was cold and silent. 

All of the other passengers frozen and pale. 

You can’t escape us, Johnny. 

There is no hiding. 

He ran. 

Down the aisle towards the cockpit. 

He banged on the door. 

They’re not going to answer. 

They’re all dead, Johnny. You brought this on all of them. 

The plane tilted down. 

If you had just stayed with us, Johnny. 

If you had just stayed with us. 

Hour 21: Nightmares

She sold her nightmares to the funny old man in the alley.

He said he was giving her the best deal in the city, but she didn’t really care. She just wanted them gone. 

She just wanted a night of sleep without waking up in a cold sweat, heart pounding, and crying. 

She felt lighter that day, knowing her nightmares were gone. 

In bed, she sighed happily and closed her eyes and drifted off into peaceful sleep. 

A crash woke her up. 

Smashing glass and laughing from the living room. 

She fainted when she saw the giant man in the mask with the chainsaw. 

……

The man was happy to get rid of his nightmares. They’d plagued him long enough. 

“People don’t stick around long enough for the warning,” the old man said. “Nightmares are energy…if they can’t live in your head, who knows where they might end up.”

Hour 19: Heartbeat

When Kathy woke up, she smelled.

Like, straight up stunk.

Like week old trash,

 

She showered 4 times, using all of her shampoo and soap.

But the stench got worse.

 

A day later the rashes showed up.

Huge bumps, and red streaks and the itching, Oh god the itching,

 

Kathy was going nuts.
She covered herself in oils, trying to stave off the stench and the itch.

 

But one scratch couldn’t hurt.
Could it?

Just a little scratch on her arm.

A little more.

Oh god it felt good.

She scratched both arms and her stomach and her breasts.

Harder and faster.

Blood was beading up on her skin but she couldn’t stop.

Her nails dug into her skin, the smell got worse.

 

She was putrid. Her arm was weak. The flesh dead.

She scratched at her leg.

Was that bite mark there before?
Was this part of the rash?

 

Her stomach rumbled and she threw up.

She screamed, ran her hands over her head, clumps of hair falling around her.

 

Clenching her fist she tried to wish it all away.

That’s when she noticed something.

Something that made everything…not okay…but less important.

The stench took a backburner in her mind.
The itch seemed less important.

 

Where was her pulse?
Why couldn’t she feel her pulse?

Hour 18: Like in the Movies

As the rope tightened around his neck he couldn’t help but give up.
He’d been running all night, hiding and crying and vomiting,
He was alone. The last one.
And now…hot breath on his neck, laughter, the stench of the death of his friends.

 

The rope tightens and he thought this kind of shit didn’t happen it real life.
It was for shitty Halloween movies and suspense flicks with Keanu Reeves.

 

His legs were throbbing and weak.
He struggled at first, trying to claw the rope away from his throat, but the man in the Halloween mask pulled tighter and tighter,

 

He thought he was in love once.
But she was dead now.

 

His vision blurs but there are sirens somewhere, Getting closer?

No. No sirens. Just the blood pounding in his ears.

 

This was it.
The end.
The last kill in the horror movie before the killer gets killed but comes back for the sequel.

 

This shit isn’t supposed to happen in real life.

Hour 17: Trick or Treat

It’s 11pm…
Do you know where your children are?

 

It’s Halloween…
Do you know where your children are?

 

They were out dressed as ghosts and goblins…
But they haven’t returned.

 

Are they warming the Patchwork Man?
Are they out running wolves?

 

It’s Midnight…
Do you know where your children are?

 

They were trick or treating.
But where are they now?

Hour 16: The Wolves Were Out

The wolves were out and they were hungry/

She was out and scared.

The wolves were out and they were hungry/

She was out and running.

The wolves were out and they were hungry/

She was out of breath,

The wolves were out and they were hungry/

She was out and couldn’t run anymore.

The wolves were out and they were hungry/

She was out and they were getting closer.

The wolves were out and they were hungry/

She was out and tripped over a rock.

The wolves were out and they were hungry/

She was out cold and lying in the snow.

The wolves were out and they were hungry/

She was out and they began to feed.

Hour 15: Downfall (By Kyle Willis)

Sadie Sullivan became Sadie Caldwell on October 17, 2009.

She and Anthony Caldwell had exchanged their vows in front of nearly 150 of their closest friends and family members amidst the redwoods in northern California.

Then, Sadie was an office manager for an e-commerce start-up; Anthony was a contributing writer to 17 blogs and cheapie publications.

Sadie filled her resume with her experience; Anthony filled his with heart.

Anthony had always made around half the salary as Sadie; but she’d always known his success would ultimately be her undoing.

Their marriage contracted with elation and tension. Ups turned to downs; downs turned to ups.

Up until September 23, 2016, when the cold muzzle of a .45 slid between Anthony’s lips and opened an escape hatch for its bullet in the back of his skull.

The 150 friends and family who witnessed the Caldwell union didn’t think much of the suicide, Anthony being the artistic type he was. Passionate, tragic. It wasn’t expected, but it wasn’t a surprise, either. Even if he’d just stepped into his greatest splash of success with a book deal inked with one of New York’s leading publishers.

The publishing house of Killion and Wade had commissioned Anthony’s novel INTO THE RED earlier that July. INTO THE RED was a story of a young couple navigating marriage with a deepening hatred for each other.

The ink on that deal dried just two weeks before Anthony fellated that .45

Here, five weeks after his death, Sadie sat in the offices of Killion and Wade.

Anthony’s relationship with Killion and Wade had been partially forged by Ron Forrest, one of those 150 at the wedding who’d known Anthony for nearly two decades. Ron worked as an editor at Killion and Wade, and happily oversaw the progress of INTO THE RED.

Ron entered the office in which Sadie waited. In his hands, a bound, hard copy of INTO THE RED. He presented it to Sadie.

“For you, Sadie.”

Sadie had to admit to herself she was impressed by this work of accomplishment by her late husband. This book was real, and it was heavy, and it was responsible for the seven figures in her once-joint bank account.

“There’s a dedication to you. In the back.”

Sadie eyed Ron with a smile. She was touched. She opened the book.

And immediately regretted doing so.

On the back page was a picture. A printout of a photo taken from a camera mounted in a corner of the Caldwell’s living room.

A photo that showed the .45 in Anthony’s mouth; the butt of the gun wrapped tightly in Sadie’s hand as she pulled the trigger.

His success would be her downfall.