Joseph A. Pinto

barflypoet & author of dark fiction



Sit before the Tale Weaver.

On this cold & stormy night, yuletide greetings I do not impart.  Shan’t be the bells of Saint Nicholas you hear echoing in the dark corner of night, nor shall the sweet chorus of cherub-faced children serenade at your door.  Tuck yourself into bed, friend, and be mindful to pull the covers tight, for down your chimney plummets the damned, and I absolve myself of any nefarious visions that may dance in your head.  Now read my yarn and scrawl your comments at its conclusion.  Five names will be picked, five unlucky souls who shall receive two signed copies each of Flowers for Evelene and Dusk and Summer.  Be sure to leave your email address and/or Twitter name so that the dead may contact you.  Aye, read my yarn while still you can, for tomorrow the sun stops shining, and erelong gloam shall rule the land.

Godspeed, friend.  Now be gone.

So the Tale Weaver speaks.


Steady hand.  Fluid wrist.

He commences, conducting an orchestra of pain across flesh.  Razor twinkles.  Nary a wince.

Slash Slash Slash

Rinse.  Repeat.

Torrid water singes skin.  Crimson rivulets streak throat.  Razor kisses flesh again; long unhurried strokes abuse corporeal canvas.  Pauses.  Countenance he measures within warped polished metal anchored into wall.  Glimpses little.  Save distorted haze of ruined reflection.  He smiles.


Slash Slash Slash

Rinse.  Repeat.

Water murky within stainless steel sink.  Chunky with gore.  He has no business dipping fingers into scorching bath.  No business doing anything at all.  Beyond unforgiving bars of his cell swells heinous cacophony.  Thunder low and throaty upon hollows of the valley.  But this is not thunder.  This is anguish.  This is hopelessness.  So delectable.

This is hell.

Swirls razor into steaming mess.  Watches idly frothy, bloody rings cling to sides.  Ruined tissue.  Barely audible, a squeak from behind.  “Are you afraid?” he deadpans.  Interest seized by serumy whirlpool churning within sink’s bowel.

Scampering.  Feet seeking purchase.  Harried breaths.

“You shouldn’t be afraid.”  Razor to flesh.  Skin yields in neat flaps.  Fine meat under honed slicing blade.  “Not yet, anyway.  Didn’t I tell you this would happen?  I did tell you, didn’t I?”

Outside the bars, wails.  Chaos.  Lunacy.  Choked voices plead mercy.  Invoke God.

“Yes, I’m pretty sure I told you.”  Air trembles.  Ripples with disorder.  Sniffs air, he does.  As canine, no.  No.  Inhales as predator.  Bite of sulfur.  Copper.  Sickly sweet in throat.  Delicious these nuances of suffering.  “Yes, thinking about it now, I’m absolutely positive that I told you.”

Pops from beyond.  Another, deafening, just down the hall.  Again, a whimper from behind.  “It’s rare when one holds steadfast about something.  Very rare.  Take personal belief, for example.”  Razor to jaw.  So steady, hand.  So fluid, wrist.

Plop.  Plop.  Plop.  Chunks plummet to sink.

Slash Slash Slash

“I believed this day would come for a long, long time.  I’d have bet my life on it.”  Long strokes.  Graceful.  Measured mutilation.  Rinse goes the razor.  Plunk goes the flesh.  “No, no.  I stand corrected.  Can I do that?  Can I correct something already said?  Why, I suppose so, if I’m the one doing the saying.  So no, I would not have bet my life on it.  But I would have bet my soul.”  Chuckles.  “Can I share something with you?  You won’t judge me, will you?”

Gunshots once more.  Outside bars.  Just down the hall.  From here.  From there.  From here and there.  Each extracts a strangled sob.  Behind him.  Closer to the floor.  “I don’t like to be judged.  Really, who does?  Did you enjoy it when you were?  In the literal sense of the word, you were judged.  You received, what, nine years?  Already had a few strikes against you, a few prior convictions.  What did you expect?  I’ll tell you what you expected—you expected not to be judged.  Your life was hard.  No proper upbringing.  You expected them to understand.  You expected someone to give a damn.  But instead, you were damned.”

Outside bars, screams for a child.  A boy.  His name rips from father’s mouth.  Wishes to hear it, perhaps, before he dies.

“Yes, I’ve been judged as well.  A long, long time ago.”  Blade to forehead, above brow.  Steady hand.  Fluid wrist.  Left to right.  Left to right.

Slash Slash Slash

Rinse.  Repeat.

Splashes scalding water into eyes.  Rinses free the gore.

“I didn’t like being judged then.  All because I simply saw things…differently.  All because I held firm, positive in my sentiment.”  Teeth clinch.  Snare vicious drawl.  “Judge not lest ye be judged.”

Outside bars, prayer in wild howls.  Fades.  Cloth tears.  Rending fills the void.  Then an awful sound.  Pigs to trough.  Jackal to meat.  Wet.  Slobbery.

“So, yes, I did tell you this day would come.  Yes.  I’m positive now.”  Din deafens.  Maelstrom of degeneration.  Yet one voice heard above all.  “I’ve enjoyed talking to you, by the way.  Enjoyed your company these past few years.  You’ve been a good egg.”

Body slams into bars.  Mangled.  Glistening.  Chewed.

He stares into distorted mirror.  Hand hovers inches from face.  An artist, he applies the finishing touches.  Long, fluid strokes.  Graceful, sweeping curves.  Not much longer.  Not much longer at all.

“Listen, you’ve got nothing to worry from me.  Not a thing.  I will not hurt you.  It’s those animals.  Out there.”  Jerks head in direction of bars.  Ploop ploop ploop the crimson splatters shoulder.  Prison garment soaks.  “Those things, they’re you.  What you see is only yourself.  So look, this will go in one of two ways.  Release your inner self, become them and serve.  Or simply become part of them.  I’ll give you a minute to decide.”

Putrid decay seeps into cowering shadows.  Madness reverberates against walls.  Tang of suffering clots the air.

“Time is up.  Sorry, but I haven’t all day.  Places to go, people to see.  Lots planned.  Bet no one thought the end would ever start here.  I mean, it is a penitentiary, after all.  The monsters are supposed to be on the inside.  But not anymore.”

Razor drops into sink.  “I blame all this on your judge.  He thought he had all the answers.  Problem was that he never asked the questions.  Now it’s too late for that.”

He pirouettes. “He tried to make you into his image.  Aren’t you tired of wearing his mask?  I certainly am.”

And last of face oozes down chest.

“So what’s it going to be, hmm?  A brand new world awaits.”

Start hopping like mad, people!!!!

Johanna K. Pitcairn – The Manicheans

Matthew C Wood –

Micheal Rivers  – Micheal Rivers Blog

Axel Howerton –

Renee Pawlish –

Andy Holloman –

Tim Ward –

Tim Ward podcast –

Jason McKinney –

Keith Weaver –

Andrew Bell –

Davida Green-Norris (Dicey Grenor) –

Rae Lori –

Marie Harbon –

Amanda Haulk Taylor –

Joseph Pinto -

Julie Jansen –

Kelly DeWitt – Raven c.s. McCracken’s books

Kim Koning –

Caitlin Hopper –

Alesha Escobar –

Marissa Farrar

Cecilia Robert

Edward Owen

Georgina Kamsika

James L. Hatch

Lindsay Edmunds

P.R Mason

Qwantu Amaru

Shelley Workinger

Nadina Boun

Julia Antione

Charles Jones

Michelle Franklin 

Brian Johnson

Sheila Lamb

Diane Hartsock

Eileen Clemens Granfors

Andrea Pearson

13 thoughts on ““JUDGE,” flash fiction for The Day The Sun Stopped Shining Blog Tour 2011

  1. edwardowen says:

    Intense imagery, sort of a “Twilight Zone” on bad drugs type of ending and scary, which is, after all the point, no? The rhythm was almost poetic. I tend to like everything all buttoned up neatly at the end and this story did not do that, but leaving something to the reader’s imagination is often a good thing.

    1. Hi Edward, glad you enjoyed it. Writing this in a “choppier” style seemed to go hand in hand with its imagery. And as in life, you can’t always have everything wrapped neatly in the end 😉

  2. Julie Jansen says:

    Hi Joseph; Great story! I’d love to be entered in your contest and win your books. I hope you’ve had a wonderful holiday season and have a great new year!


    1. Hey Julie! Thank you! And consider yourself entered! 🙂

  3. Adriana Ryan says:

    WOW! Loved it, loved it. The madness was tangible, as was the scent of blood.

    1. Thanks, Adriana! Madness is my specialty :p

  4. Hi Joseph, Very, very intriguing spin. I loved the ‘chopped’ rhythm of the story combined with the twist in perception from what initially seemed to be self mutilation to that of another. I agree with Adriana, the madness was truly tangible, almost becoming a being of its own.

    1. Hi Nina, so thrilled you stopped by my neck of insanity! 🙂 I’m happy you enjoyed this little piece; being the theme of the blog tour is “the apocalypse,” I wanted to paint our pal Lucifer in a different light. Some may perceive him as coming “without,” but I’ve always fancied him “within” us all. It’s all a matter of the mask you choose to disguise him.

  5. Blaze McRob says:

    Great tale, my friend! I’m glad I shaved BEFORE reading this. Tsk, tsk. I might have had an accident otherwise.

    Satan is truly within. Expulsion or acceptance is up to us.

    Happy New Year to you and yours!


    1. Thanks, Blaze! Truth be told, I always keep a steady hand while shaving my head! 🙂 And yes, my belief is that Satan does walk among us, & his guise couldn’t be more painfully simple.

      1. Blaze McRob says:

        I use the same barber, Joe. Steady hand indeed! Satan and co-horts are everywhere my friend. Sad, but true.


  6. Ren Warom says:

    Now this is my kind of story. Very cool. Loved it 🙂

    1. Awww, thanks very much, Ren!!

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