A Quieter Darkness

K. E. Smith's personal blog. Any work inquiries can be directed to wecouldbevillains@gmail.com ||

Like so many others, I’ve been using Midjourney for worldbuilding tools/assets.


More than impressed, honestly.


Kade Samson, in the flesh.

I can’t wait to waste too much time playing with this.

Cheers, Kat

Biding your time is anxiety in the palm of your hand.

At any point and time, you can cup it close. Cherish it. It’s the problem to circulate around all your other problems, a predatory creature stalking the outskirts of life.

Your life.

When you hold it most dear, in that way you do when the world starts to drag you down, it will remind you of every coming obstacle you’ve yet overcome.

Sometimes, when you’re alone, you hope it never goes away. The wait, the idea of waiting; you want it to stay. It’s a familiar spirit you’ve nurtured, a beast of infinite burden. When the rest has fallen into place, you still have this anxiety at your disposal.

Now ask me why I’m tired.

Always tired.

Cheers, Kat

When you work, you do so with purpose. To complete, or to compete, and to what lengths you feel are necessary—that is how far you will go. That is work.

And when you’re done, should you ever find an end to the constant grind, you will retire. You cease to work. You cease to toil. You cease to be an instrument for others to use, as you are now an instrument at your own disposal.

Our life, as day and night.

All long mornings bleed into short afternoons, and the evening is a blink before sleep. If you struggle, you tire faster.

Sleep is peace. Sleep can be eternal, too.

In this way, I am headed toward the mid-morning hustle. The world is vast, the sky’s the limit; I am ready yet unprepared.

I’ve done so much already. What more can I do?

What more do I want to do?

Cheers, Kat

There are houses in shambles.

Available, but only if you want to put in the work to revive them.

Their interiors are waterlogged, gored of details; wholly destroyed. Each step creaks with resignation, unfit for continued use. Nests are made in the attics, rafters, and other places of rare benefit, tended like a private zoo, occupants nourished by shadow visitors. Trash models atop grainy linoleum, piles of debris swept lazily in all directions from the center, a cause of spiritual ache for those with clean intentions.

What pass for lawns are the splendid gardens of wayward youth, in patches of brown and green often distinguished by inherent ugliness. These grounds create mazes with their abundance of overgrowth, plots situated in such a way for ghosts to navigate their uneven terrain. The spirit of craftsmanship has long since abandoned what remains. Weeds tangle, their predecessors dead beneath their roots. Moss thrives and ivy flourishes; the stretch of summer heat invites life in excess.

In need of TLC.

Sold as is.

A buyer’s opportunity.

An investment home.

I’ve been combing the listings for something precious. A dream house? Is it considered such if it’s my second choice? Third? Fiftieth?

We string our dreams together like garland on a Christmas tree, and we make silent wishes and prayers to whatever powers might be, and we ask for somewhere to go by the end of the year because we’re cramped and we’re tired and we’re really looking to feel better about all these little accomplishments we’ve made and having a home to showcase them would really solve most of our problems.


Cheers, Kat

I have ideas. They’re… I’m not even sure how to describe them. Like burrs? Like double sided tape? Like the lint rollers with sticky sheets that collect hair and dust whenever you put them down, so it’s effectively two sheets of effort if you ever want to use it?

Manny comes back to me like those dusty lint roller sheets, waiting for his story to earn my attention. It’s never too far from my mind, his story with the cleaning gig that turns into supernatural horror, and I like to imagine it’s just waiting for the mood to strike me.

A bit of alcohol never hurts.

When I drink, Manny is loud and fiesty. He’s serenading Emily Cooper from the garden, shouting lyrics to songs he heard in his mother’s kitchen. His hair is getting long, the curls are teasing the tips of his ears. Emily is humming under her breath, in a nightgown of sheer satin, a painfully pale silhouette captured in the moonlight. There’s blood dried at the corners of her lips, waiting to be noticed.

Her father isn’t home. Her fiance is working in the city. Her mother is insane.

I’ll store this here for now. Manny will get his chance.

Cheers, Kat


When hair burned, it had this sort of acrid and pungent smell that lingered in the air long after whatever fire had been put out was long gone. It just hung there, and it was awful, and try as he might, Manny couldn't seem to get rid of the smell. It was on his clothes, his skin, even in his own unruly locks. Cursing, he drew back from the room; retreated to regroup.

What was he supposed to do with this body?

Better yet, who was he supposed to blame for the body? The victim wasn't his. They never were. It was just some up-and-comer, with dreams too big for their pockets, and wide brown eyes that currently stared lifelessly at the stucco ceiling. His body was charred and blistered over available skin, indistinguishable at points where clothing meshed against ruined flesh. Manny thought of summer barbecues, and the occasional steak left on the grill too long. Manny couldn't even tell if the body had actually been male, but it wasn't his place to start picking at pieces for details of the corpse's previous life.

He didn't get paid to pry.

Manny plucked at the thick plastic gloves covering his hands, checking the elasticity to ensure they wouldn't tear at any point in the process. A bucket of bleach water sat nearby, as well as new sponges and towels and a spray bottle with an ammonia cocktail for blood splatter. The boys hadn't just torched the poor bastard, but they had dug their claws in deep. Deep enough to gut the guy. There had been entrails pulped at the stomach, skin split before fire was brought into the picture, and now Manny couldn't help thinking of thick strings of Italian Sausages from Cuzimano's down on fifth.

He cursed again, wishing he had eaten before he showed up. Then, after a string of expletives, he was glad he hadn't. The last thing he needed was a pile of his puke at the crime scene.

“Whatever...” He breathed before stalking off to get his tools. “Don't think about it.”


Emmanuel Parker sat with his face cupped in his hands, elbows propped against the cold polish of his dining room table. His mother was prattling on about the neighbor's daughter. Alexis or Alice. Something. “-But they keep askin', Manny. They want you to meet her, an' they say they'll make you both dinner. Isn't that worth givin' it a shot? A free dinner with a pretty girl?”

“Nah.” Manny admitted quietly as his body shifted, his legs crossing while he leaned back in his chair. “They probably don't know what they're doin' in a kitchen.” His head shook, sending his unkempt curls into disarray. “Look, Ma, I ain't interested. I got other shit I gotta deal with, and I don't got time for dinners and hookups and whatever else ya got planned.”

Her retort was priceless; a half growl, half whine of frustration. “Manny, you're too young to be too busy for a date.”

“Tell me about it.” He said as a hand instinctively rose to point out the scattered grey hairs caught in the mess of brunette. “Too young for grey hair, too, but I got 'em.”

“I don't know what's got you so stressed, hon. Working for a nice young couple, cleaning their house a few times a week- that isn't the worst job to have at your age. When I was twenty-four, I was workin' for that hard assed jamaican woman I told you about. Sheila? Yeah, I was workin' for her, cleaning close to ten houses a day. And your father was stuck with Ralph at the plant, puttin' up with the worst conditions, and working like 70 hours a week for less than minimum wage. They hated us then, and they hate us now. There's never been any love for immigrants in New York city.”

Manny held his tongue because anything he said might make his mother cry. He didn't want her to get caught up on his father, who died in '93, but had settled as a ghost in her consciousness for the entirety of Manny's life. A pipe had ruptured, and the water had scaled his father so badly, they said he died in less than a minute. Despite his mother coming away with more money than she would have ever seen with his father alive, she continued to live as though it were still the early nineties, with her thoughts on hard work and diligence and how New York City didn't give a damn about their family or their struggles.

Sucking her teeth after the silence of her previous statement seemed to smother their kitchen, Manny's mother shrugged from her place at the sink, a rinsed plate still in hand. “All I'm saying is you need to live like you're still young, Manny. I know you wanna be responsible, and you always wanted to make your own way, but this? This is just stress you don't need. Tell those Cooper's you can't get caught up in their business. I know you think I don't know what it's like, but I did it, too. I know that when you're working around those sort of types, it's easy to get caught up in their business. We ain't like them though, Manny.”

“No, I got that much. Believe me.” He scratched behind his ear before standing up, and with a lazy step, he gave his much shorter mother a hug from behind. “I'll try an' ease up, okay? Just don't worry about me so much, eh? I'm fine. Gettin' paid well, too. I just stress myself out, always have.”

“You're all I got, Manny. Just don't make your poor mother cry, alright?”

Laughing, he pulled away and grabbed his jacket from the back of his chair before pushing it in. “Never. Never gonna make you cry.”

Not if he didn't fuck up, he wouldn't.


“Daddy,” Emily cooed quietly from where she lay, Egyptian cotton sheets framing her slender torso like petals around the stigma of a flower. The room was done in rose accents, with a cherry finish to the

We did what people do when they have time off.

We left.

We were away.

In my mind, it’s necessary to pretend we’re cutting all ties, so I didn’t check up or check in. I removed myself from everything, all at once, and only came back when I was well and truly ready to do so.

There was the boardwalk, then the movies. Driving back and forth. Lots of shopping in San Jose. An anniversary dinner. GOfest.

I bought him (another) switch for his birthday. He bought me a phone. We’re a month or so early but we’re adults. We don’t care about birthdays. We don’t care about much of anything, but aging?

Aging offends me. The idea I’m aging is, without a doubt, the most offensive idea I’m willing to harbor. It’s cancerous to creativity, a great and terrible weight to bear. I don’t want to age. I don’t want numbers anywhere near my mind. I don’t want inevitability to masquerade as acceptable circumstance. I don’t want to die.

But we’re home now. This home. The new home comes later.

I had fun.

Cheers, Kat

I had a few books I plan to read/reread over the course of the next few months, some of which I started earlier this month. It’s not terribly exciting but I’m in one of those ruts where you’re convinced everything you write is exactly the opposite of what you want to read, so I want to refer to authors/books I’ve enjoyed, adding in a few titles I haven’t gotten around to but bought with the intention of reading.

  • Tender is the Flesh – Augustina Bazterrica [read] Really enjoyed it! Looking forward to reading more from the author. She’s amazing.
  • Blood Meridian or the evening of redness in the west – Cormac McCarthy [Reading] I’m desperately drawn to western settings, those which rely heavily on a backdrop of supposed bleakness, and the central concept is one I find myself regarding with great care. I’ll add more when I’ve finished it.
  • The Road – Cormac McCarthy [To be reread] I read this years ago and I’m awfully forgetful, so I’d like to touch down on the points I enjoyed about the father/son dynamic.
  • The Running Man – Richard Bachman/Stephen King [To be read] Is it really so surprising to add Stephen King to this list? I wish I could read The Longest Walk a second or third time, but I can’t keep putting off other content and I need, for lack of a better description, dystopias of all kinds.
  • Kindred – Octavia Butler [To be reread] I didn’t appreciate this book the first time I read it. Something about it made me uncomfortable like I was watching a friend being harassed, and I ended up doing more skimming than I originally intended. I’ll do better this time. It really deserves my full attention.
  • The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks [To be read] Heard it was good. Hoping it’s good.
  • The City We Became – N. K. Jemisin [To be read] Bought the hardback the week it came out, intending to read it as quickly as possible because I absolutely love her work (with The Broken Earth trilogy being one of my favorite series) but I didn’t. Looking forward to reading it soon.
  • The Collector – John Fowles [To be read] Recommended to me under the impression I would enjoy the obsessive aspects of the core relationship. Unhealthy though it may be, it’s right up my alley. We’ll see how I like it!
  • The Secret History – Donna Tartt [To be reread] Believe it or not, I really enjoyed this story when I first read it, but I’ve forgotten bits and pieces along the way and I’d like to touchdown with new thoughts after another reading.
  • Haunted – Chuck Palahniuk [To be read] One of his novels I haven’t had the pleasure of reading, I’m looking to change that.
  • I’m Thinking of Ending Things – Iain Reid [To be read] The concept sounded interesting and I’ve never read anything by the author, so I picked it up to change that.
  • Flowers for Algernon – Daniel Keyes [To be read] I’m a sucker for classics and, thanks to mention from colleagues, this one has been brought to my attention.
  • American Psycho – Brett Easton Ellis [To be reread] I don’t remember reading American Psycho, but I was poking around an old blog and noted I had mentioned reading it to a point and stopping. I’d like to know why I stopped, so it’s a reread for sure.
  • The Rules of Attraction – Brett Easton Ellis [To be read] Unlike American Psycho, I’ve never read The Rules of Attraction because I had no idea the movie was based on a book. I really loved the movie back in the early 2000s. Hopefully, I haven’t outgrown it.
  • The Virgin Suicides – Jeffrey Eugenides [To be read] Sitting on my shelf, LONELY, The Virgin Suicides has been waiting for me to make time to read it. I’m getting there. ; ~ ;
  • How to Lose Friends & Alienate People – Toby Young [To be read] Title alone: doesn’t that sound like me? Ugh. I hope it’s as cringe as I’ve been in the past.
  • The Unwind Series – Neil Schusterman [To be read] Speaking of dystopias, the idea of unwinding has me hooked. I’m not usually into YA literature, but I can recognize a messed-up setting at a glance, and that’s honestly enough of a hook to get me started.
  • Blindness – José Saramago [To be read] As one of, like, ten people who liked the movie, I’ve been hoping to read the book since I learned it was a book adaptation. Of course, dystopian drama is my bread and butter. People are scary.
  • The Farm – Joanne Ramos [Reading] A weird choice, but I feel like I owe it to myself to pay more attention to motherhood and the struggles mothers face. Like, the premise of the book is so deeply rooted in those ideas, that it’s occasionally difficult to relate. That said, I am well within my comfort zone to remain an outsider looking in.
  • The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood [To be reread] Brushing up because it’s relevant to current events, albeit distantly.
  • Oryx and Crake – Margaret Atwood [To be read] I swear I read more than dystopian fantasy. Of course, that doesn’t mean I’ll ignore this book, which comes highly recommended because there is a gentleness to Atwood’s work I’ve always wished to emulate and others have brought up the similarities. Flattering but I don’t necessarily see it.

Anyway, the list is rather large, but I want to get through it before I lose motivation to do so.

Cheers, Kat

On occasion, my anxiety gets the best of me. It’s little things, compounded, and the usual issues become impossible to see without narrowing the scope. They’re exaggerated. A mountain out of a molehill, etc.

It’s not necessarily uncommon. I like to believe everyone has bad days. Bad being unmanageable, out of character, and generally miserable for everyone involved. Worse days, of course, should be limited. Only a few and only as life throws them at us.

I think I’m headed for worse days. Healthwise, the early signs are being unkind. I’m not entirely certain, but…

Call it a hunch.

At least I’m making mediocre progress on NS. That’s something, right? As the idiom goes, better than nothing.

Cheers, Kat

No snow, no long winters, no blizzards to contend with.

We’d been talking about places, but only in a way relating to the spectrum of weather. I like the cold in moderation, whereas Trev wants nothing to do with it. I want seasons, though.

Ended up deciding on North Carolina. Winston-Salem area, somewhere in the 150-200k price range.

It’s kinda funny. I’ve never been to either of the Carolinas. Never been farther down the east coast than DC and that was for a MTG Grand Prix.

Should be worried but I can’t help feeling excited. We’ve been cramped for years and years, passing from one stuffed situation to the next, constantly battling the sharp realities concerning the economy and where we fit into it. Middle class was comfortable once, wasn’t it?

Now, between he and I, just thankful we didn’t have kids in all these years leading up to the move. Do I want kids? Sure, sure. I don’t see why not. Do I want kids before I have a place to raise them? Definitely not. No no no. Hard pass.

Just gotta keep my head up high. When the details fall into place, we’ll be outta here. New house, new state, new jobs, new life.

Sometimes I wish I had more friends to share the good news with. Or, realistically, I’d like to have the old friends I’m not so friendly with anymore. Memories make all the good times into great times. The bad times? Nightmares. I think I’ve spent the last decade trying to forgive myself for what a twenty-two year old version of me did to her social group. Gutted from belly out.

I wonder how she’d feel about seeing herself at thirty-two? A bit thicker, a bit more wrinkled. Less vocal, more thoughtful. Still at odds with her parents, still a shitty sibling.

Still writing.

Every. Single. Day.

Still dreaming of stories.

She’d be disappointed in how we let ourselves procrastinate away for the past few years, writing other people’s books while our ideas stagnated. Freelancing? Might as well sell the blood from our veins, the backbone of our creative process, the meaty bits we picked up from a lifetime of watching people in detail until we could pretend we were one of them, too.

Sold everything else, so why not our soul? Why did we stop when we were ahead?

Still dreaming.

Still full of stories.

Cheers, Kat

I’ve been thinking about houses. Big houses, small houses, old houses, new houses. I have an idea of what sort of house I’m hoping to find, but I’m trying to be realistic with my expectations. Trevor thinks it’ll sort itself out, convinced the pieces will align perfectly without any additional effort. He doesn’t seem to understand how planning with intention works. It’s become my pet project between all the usual bullshit keeping me busy.

If anything, it fills a unique void?

Yesterday was a sick day. I spent time in bed being generally useless, which caused very little issue, surprisingly. If I’m honest with myself, I should slow down. Less anxiety, more naps.

Fuck, I’m always tired. Right this second? Exhausted.

Maybe I’ll write something. Maybe I won’t.

Cheers, Kat