Sand Castles

by Mark McKee Jr.

I feed it and it grows and it spits up.

I shovel the vomit into piles, build sand castles. It dances back and forth, first hopping on one hind foot then the other. Its feet are green and black.

A gull cries over the sea. Waves crash along the white sand beach.

It nods at the castle, “I pillage?”

“Go ahead,” I say.

It steps backwards, counting to five. It counts the steps loudly, like this,”Umph. Umph. Umph.” At the end of the five steps it runs in place, mounting speed. The sand on the beach erodes under its spinning feet. My eyes lose track of them. They become a single green foot. The scales are no longer visible.

It’s running so fast it spits up.

Now it’s choking. I run over, scoop up piles of vomit, force open its mouth, jam the semi-liquid goo back down its throat.

It calms down. Sated.


We sit beside a fire. Its eyes are alight. Big moon eyes. Crescent moon eyes. Like the parings of finger nails. It has sharp black nails.

I start to say, I want to tell you about your mother, but stop. I can’t make myself discuss it. So much blood. The screaming still burns in my ears. Are we born innocent, or are we born as guilty as when we exit?

“Dada,” it says, pointing at the sand castles. It jumps up and down, clapping its hairy black paws.

“Go ahead,” I say.

It steps back five more paces, umphing once more between each step. Umph. Umph. Then it spins its green legs until there is only one. One spinning green leg. The leg spins so fast I’m afraid it will fall off.

Then it shoots forward.

It neglects the castles. It’s running at me with black and green arms spread wide.

“Dada,” it says.

It’s coming for me. Arms spread. Running legs. Spinning. Straight for me. Green, scaly, hairy arms spread.

It jumps.

I brace myself. I watch it turn somersaults. Three of them. Perfect circles.

My son makes perfect circles in the air. He makes cooing noises while he spins. I see my wife on the hospital bed. Her head thrown back in agony. Sweat glistening on her forehead. The child rips open her stomach, her womb. He is suffocating, trying to get out. He was just a child. A baby. It wasn’t his fault.

It wasn’t his fault.

He lands in my arms. Flecks of spit-up dapple his chin.

He smiles at me, says, “Dada.”

“Son,” I say.

He smiles.

I smile.

The sun has set. The day is done.

About The Author

Fast-Paced Mini Interview (at high speeds! risking dire consequences!)

The Squid: Who would you invite for roadtrip on SHIELD’s hovercarrier?
MM: I would build an automaton, then load the brain cavity with a construct including the personalities of my Mom, Dad, sis, best friend Kasia, and cat Binx.
The Squid: Now, say you’re a freaking science fiction/fantasy action hero… that’s pretty cool!
Tell us, which one you are most like, and why:
    a) Conan the Barbarian
    b) Han Solo
    c) Captain James Tiberius Kirk
    d) Buckaroo Bonzai
    e) Rick Deckard
MM: This question, it’s like you read my mind.
Since first reading the original stories in 2007, I’ve longed to be the literary Conan the Barbarian. Robert E. Howard is one of my favorite writers (I read anything by him I can get my hands on: Conan, Kull, boxing stories, westerns).

I read somewhere, and I think it was erroneous, but still, that Howard wrote many of the Conan stories with the belief that a real, corporeal Conan was standing behind him, threatening to chop him in half if he didn’t finish a story by a certain deadline. Nice metaphor for writing, eh?
Do I have his muscles, his brawn, his dexterity? Nah. But like to think I have his sense of vengeance, by Crom!
Mark McKee Jr. is an interior decorator from Dyersburg, TN. He likes to review and discuss books on You can find him at He has also been published in Thaumatrope.

About The Artist

Chris Waltrip is an illustrator based in Austin, Texas. He can be contacted at

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