Gina Easton is a former registered nurse who decided to pursue her long-time dream of writing as a profession. Since starting her new career in 2019, she has had fifteen short-stories published in horror anthologies and magazines.

Her debut horror novel, Black Jack, was released by World Castle Publishing in late December 2020.  A second novel, a supernatural romance, is due out in the latter part of 2021.

She adores the weird, mysterious and magical aspects of life, which she explores through her writing.

She lives in Toronto, Canada, with her husband.


by Gina Easton


Floating in its saline solution, Pouffy’s eyeball glares at me. It seems unimpressed with its prominent position on the mantel. How typical of Pouffy not to recognize my piece-de-resistance—still has that look that manages to be baleful and condescending at the same time. You know the one I mean. You’d think by now he would’ve ditched the judgmental attitude. Maybe I’ll get some formaldehyde so I can preserve it properly…along with some of his other parts.

I heard him once talking to his sister, my mom, about what a failure I was. “Your son,” he said accusingly. “He drops out of everything. Dropped out of college. Couldn’t keep the job that I arranged for him. I went out of my way to call in some favors. And what does he do? Quits before he even gives it a chance. That’s your son for you, Alma. He’s a born quitter. Just like his no-good loser father.”

Even though they were behind closed doors I could picture the spittle forming at the corners of Pouffy’s mouth and the narrowing of his beady eyes when he got angry. Which was pretty much every time he thought of or spoke about me.

My mother, of course, defended me. She always did back then, when she still cared about such things. Now—I don’t know if she cares about anything, including her own life. I mean, if you can call living in an assisted-care facility after suffering a “catastrophic” brain injury any kind of life.

The money we received from the insurance company and the subsequent lawsuit pays for her care. The car accident was the other driver’s fault. He was drunk, driving on the wrong side of the road when he hit my mom’s Toyota head-on, smashing it to pieces—along with Mom’s skull.

At first the doctors weren’t sure she would even survive. Her brain swelled so much they actually had to remove a large section of her skull—the part that wasn’t shattered to smithereens—to allow her brain room to expand; I guess so it wouldn’t just explode inside her cranium, or something. They finally managed to reduce the swelling with some heavy-duty drugs. And quite a while after that they re-attached the piece of skull they’d removed.

Unfortunately, they couldn’t do anything about the damage her brain suffered. It was so severe that she’s confined to a wheelchair, unable to walk or talk. No “purposeful activity” the doctors call it. She requires total care—feeding, washing, dressing—the whole shebang. Her eyes can focus and track movement, but there’s no recognition in them. When I visit her—which is less and less frequently—I don’t think she knows I’m her son. And maybe, at this point, she’s past caring one way or the other.

So it was just Pouffy and me, living together in the old family home. I never understood how Pouffy could be my mom’s brother. The two were as different as night and day. Before the accident Mom always had a sunny disposition, sweet-natured, a kind word for everyone. She was warm and welcoming, volunteered her time at an animal shelter. She would drop everything to help a friend in need.

Pouffy, on the other hand, was an ornery, foul-tempered bastard. Universally disliked and not caring a whit what others thought of him. Petty and spiteful, he took great pleasure in the misery and misfortune of others. In other words, as people go, a total piece of shit.

We had a mutual hatred going, but financial restraints meant we were forced to live under the same roof. I mean, almost all the money from the lawsuit went to Mom’s care. Although I’m loath to admit it, Pouffy might have had a point about my job history. I have had more than my share of failed opportunities. I don’t know; maybe it’s one of those damning personality flaws, like Pouffy’s innate nastiness. Whatever…right now I’m between jobs.

The things Pouffy said about me used to bother me a lot. Not that I was looking for Pouffy’s approval, per se. But I guess Mom was right when she chided Pouffy for being “hard” on me, telling him that he was the only male role model I had, a father-figure of sorts.

Maybe it’s true that subconsciously I sought some kind of positive reinforcement from Pouffy. If so, I never got it. The miserly son-of-a-bitch wasn’t going to part with one iota of approval. If he even had the capability, which I seriously doubt. The only person I ever saw him treat decently was my mom. I guess perhaps he loved her, although in Pouffy’s repertoire of emotion I think love translated into tolerance. But I’m no psychologist.

I have to say, though, that I am pleased with the recent turn of events. Yeah, I still have to deal with Pouffy’s cold, condemning eye on me. But at least I don’t have to listen to his grating, derogatory words.

Not since I cut out his tongue.

It’s worked out really well. Pouffy enjoys a couple of glasses of bourbon in the evening. A couple of nights ago I laced his drink with a powerful sedative I ordered on-line. I waited until he nodded off in his armchair, snoring noisily. Then I used duct-tape to secure him to the chair, wrapping it around his chest, waist and limbs…and a big strip across his forehead to anchor his head in place.

The first thing I did was cut out his tongue with a wood-carving knife. I wasn’t prepared for so much blood, but it wasn’t enough to deter me. In spite of the sedative, Pouffy roused himself sufficiently to struggle when I forced his mouth open. He tried to talk, but that was impossible as I had an iron grip on his lower jaw. I could see the rage in his eyes. And behind that, the fear lurking. I yanked hard on his jaw. All I had to do was grab his tongue and slice it off in one quick motion.

That was the plan. Unfortunately it took not one but three whacks with the knife. That sucker was a tough little muscle, but this was one instance where I didn’t quit. And my perseverance paid off. Despite Pouffy’s struggles and muffled shrieks of pain, his tongue came flying out of his mouth to land in his lap. Just when I thought that he might actually bleed out, the flow slowed. At last there was only an oozing seepage where the jagged stub of his tongue was.

The next step was to shape Pouffy into the man I thought he should be. This involved the wood carving knife again. I’d honed it to its sharpest possible blade. Bear in mind that, physically speaking, my uncle was as unappealing as his character.

Normally it would be next-to-impossible for me to attempt this endeavor while Pouffy was still alive. However, I administered the injectable ketamine I’d also purchased on-line, and that was the end of Pouffy’s ability to move voluntarily or emit annoying sounds with his mangled mouth. I had to be extremely careful with the dosage. I wanted his limbs paralyzed, but not his diaphragm because he needed to breathe to stay alive. But I’d done my homework, researching the drug and its effects. It worked like a charm. So while he couldn’t move, he was conscious and fully aware of everything being done to him.

The whole transformative process took about five hours. My goal was to remove all the parts of my uncle that were nasty and evil. As you can imagine, it was an extensive undertaking. And unbelievably messy. The internal organs had to be carefully excised; the liver that produced the bile that Pouffy was so fond of spewing, and the gall bladder where it was stored. The spleen, naturally. The intestines, coiled and glistening wetly, which produced all the shit that he expelled.

I was a bit concerned that Pouffy might die from shock and blood loss before I was finished. But he proved to be a real trooper and hung in until the very end.  Right up until I sliced out his heart, which was rotten to the core. I fully expected it to be black and wizened, so it was somewhat disappointing to find that it looked like a regular heart.

And I must say that, even to my critical eye, I consider it to be my finest work. The over-all effect is amazing. Pouffy looks quite different with all the bad bits carved out of him, a little like an abstract form of a jig-saw puzzle, but in reverse order, with the pieces missing. It’s a shame that I’m the only one who’ll ever see it.I wish Mom was here. Somehow I know she would appreciate what I’ve done. She would smile that hundred-watt smile she always reserved for my art work, and give me a hug.

An idea occurred to me. Maybe there was a way Mom could see it. I could bring her home from the care facility, just for the day, so that I could show her the results of my artistic genius. Despite the severity of her brain injury the doctors could be wrong. There’s always the chance that she might understand more than they think. It was definitely worth a try. The more I thought about it, the better I liked it. I had nothing to lose. I mean, it’s not like Mom would be able to tellanyone about what I did to Pouffy. Even if she cared. But I believe she only put up with him because she couldn’t see a way out. But I’ve given her, given us both, that way out.

I clapped my hands with delight. The plan was perfect. I called the facility and arranged to pick up Mom ASAP. I wanted her to see my master-piece before it started to spoil.


I don’t understand it. How did everything go so wrong? It was all coming together beautifully. The staff at the facility had Mom all ready to go and helped load her and her wheelchair into my truck. I even thought I glimpsed a gleam of some emotion—excitement, maybe?—in Mom’s eyes. I know I felt excited, thrilled to be precise, at the anticipation of my mother’s reaction. She would be so proud of my achievement, at my living up to, no, exceeding her expectations.

I get Mom out of the truck and settled in the wheelchair outside the house. On the trip home I’d given her teasers about my creation. Nothing specific, of course. I didn’t want to ruin the surprise. When I open the front door I am surprised by the foul odor that assaults my nostrils. I guess being inside with Pouffy’s corpse for two whole days made me used to the smell. But now the reek of it is almost overpowering. I look at Mom and sure enough, her eyes have widened in response to the noxious stimulus, so I know that her brain still registers some things.

I could say that the odor is not appreciably worse than when he was alive, but I don’t want to speak ill of the dead. I hope that the stench won’t distract Mom from seeing the wondrous work her son has wrought. Even when I can no longer hold on to my masterpiece—unlike wood, human flesh decays very quickly and I don’t think varnish will preserve it—at least I’ll still have a keepsake from my greatest achievement.

A memento. Pouffy’s eye.

I wheel Mom inside and shut the door. Her arms are starting to flail around and as we approach the chair where Pouffy sits in his new magnificent form her eyes pop even wider than before. They are almost bulging out of their sockets as I position her wheelchair in front of Pouffy.

Voila!” I announce dramatically. “Here it is, Mom. Without doubt, my finest creation. Don’t you agree?”

Mom doesn’t say anything; she can’t form words. But her mouth is twisting in a grimace and she suddenly emits garbled sounds which remind me of the noises our pet cat made when I slowly squeezed it to death when I was a little kid. I stare at Mom in confusion. I don’t know why she is so distressed. Doesn’t she recognize artistic genius when she sees it?

“Mom,” I say urgently. “Don’t be upset. After all, you didn’t like Pouffy any more than I did. Hell, nobody liked him.”A hardness creeps into my voice. “So don’t pretend now that you did.”

I hope that bit of reasoning will calm her down. But to my dismay, she only becomes more agitated. The gurgling, gagging noises are really starting to get on my nerves. It sounds like someone retching. And that is very irritating. How dare she respond to my creation like that? She could at least try to smile. Even an encouraging nod. Anything to show her approval.

But no. The sounds of fear and disgust grow more vociferous. The ineffectual flailing of her arms is also extremely annoying. I can’t tell you how crestfallen, how absolutely crushed I am, by my mother’s reaction. I’d expected so much better from her.

So you can understand the bitterness and anger that well up inside me like a nasty dark wave.

I have to do something to make the irritation stop. Nothing I say has any impact upon the woman in the wheelchair. She doesn’t even look like my mother anymore. Before I really have time to register what I’m doing I grab my wood-carving knife and plunge it deep into her left eye. Into that damaged, deformed brain that probably doesn’t even understand what is happening. Maybe it does. But you know what? I don’t care.

Because that bitch ruined my plans. Now I can’t risk staying here any longer to admire Pouffy. No way can I explain to others what I’ve done to my mother. I think it may even be against the law. I have to leave. Now. Just get in the truck and drive as far away from this place as I can. I glance over at the mantle where Pouffy’s eye sits glaring at me like it always has.

It is the only thing I can take with me.

Some things change. And some never do. Pouffy’s eye will always be a reminder of that.

Only now it will have another to keep it company.