Daemon Manx is an American author with a back-story unlike any other. He is a recovering addict who spent nearly a decade in the prison system where he focused on recovery and learned to perfect his horror writing craft. He has been featured in magazines in America, the U.K, and in Germany. In 2021 he received a HAG award for his story “The Dead Girl” and was nominated for a Splatterpunk award that same year.

He was a bonus-round winner on the game show Wheel of Fortune in 1999 and is infamously known for a motor vehicle accident he was responsible for that involved President Ronald Reagan’s limousine.

Daemon has eleven years clean and sober. After struggling with addiction and incarceration, he now uses his story to illustrate the positive outcome of sobriety and offer a glimpse at what life can be like when one receives a second chance.

He has been featured in numerous anthologies alongside Richard Chizmar, Edward Lee, Brian Asman, and Duncan Ralston. In 2023, his short story collection, Manx-iety, hit the Amazon bestsellers list.

He is the owner of Last Waltz Publishing which can be found at www.lastwaltzpublishing.com and also on The Horror Zine’s list of reputable publishers.

He lives with his sister, author Danielle Manx and their narcoleptic cat, Sydney, where they patiently prepare for the apocalypse. There is a good chance they will run out of coffee far too soon.


by Daemon Manx


Wendy McBride left work at 5:30 p.m. and made her way to the supermarket to pick up something for dinner. After all the running around she had done over the past week, she was happy to finally have a night to herself.

Lately it felt like she was being pulled in seven different directions. She owned her own business, which was demanding but manageable. It was when she had to go over her hundred-and-two-year-old grandmother’s house that made her feel as though she was slowly losing her faculties. She figured she could handle everything being thrown at her a whole lot easier if she didn’t have Uncle Jerry calling her six times a day. It was always about the same concerns.

“I think there’s something terribly wrong with your grandmother.”

Wendy gripped the steering wheel and exhaled slowly. She had braced herself when she saw the caller ID flash on the Honda’s display screen.

“Hi, Uncle Jerry. I’m in the car and on my way to the grocery store. What’s going on?”

“I can’t get Grandma to eat dinner. She’s been sitting on the couch for the past two hours just staring at me. I asked her what’s wrong, but she won’t answer—she just keeps staring. It’s creepy.”

Wendy bit her lip and checked the time. So much for a quiet night alone, she thought. “Okay. So I guess you want me to come over?”

“I think you’d better. There’s something wrong with her and I really think it’s time to start thinking about what comes next. I know I live with her but she’s becoming too much for me. Remember, I’ll be eighty-three soon.”

“All right,” Wendy said. “I’ll be there in a few minutes.”

Fifteen minutes later Wendy arrived at her grandmother’s house and was met in the driveway by her Uncle Jerry before she had one foot out of the car.

“Thanks for coming, Wendy,” Jerry said as he shuffled toward her. He looked as though he was carrying the entire world on his back. “I don’t know what to do. She won’t get up to eat dinner, and she hasn’t said a word since this morning. Something is very wrong.”

“Maybe she just isn’t hungry.” Wendy exited the car. “She’s a hundred-and-two years old, and you know Grandma—if she doesn’t want to eat, there’s nothing you or I can do that will change her mind.” To say that Beatrice had always done things her way and had a willful disposition was putting it lightly.

“I know,” Jerry said. He slumped his shoulders and sighed like a dismal donkey. “But you didn’t see the way she looked at me! Something is wrong, I’m telling you.”

“What are you telling me, Uncle Jerry? Grandma is deteriorating and there isn’t a whole lot we can do about it.”

“It’s not just that…you’ll see.”

They entered the kitchen to find Bea sitting at the table with a cup of tea and a plate of Nilla Wafers in front of her. “There’s my beautiful granddaughter!” Bea said with a cookie in her hand and a smile on her face. “What are you doing here?”

Wendy looked at her uncle and raised her eyebrows. He offered a shrug and a quizzical gesture in reply but didn’t say a word. “Uncle Jerry said you wouldn’t eat. I came over because he said you wouldn’t get off the couch.” Wendy kissed Bea hello and took a seat beside her at the table.

“Why do you make up such stuff, Jerry?” Bea asked. “I raised you better than to fib.”

“Ma.” Jerry shuffled into the room looking even more defeated than usual. “I’ve been trying to get you off the couch for the past two hours. All you did was stare at me. I couldn’t get you to move.”

“Nonsense.” Bea scowled and maneuvered her teacup to her lips with veined, liver-spotted hands.

“How have you been feeling lately, Gram?” Wendy asked. “Are you sleeping okay? Are you eating enough?”

“Oh, I’m fine. Don’t listen to your uncle. Seriously, I don’t know where he gets these ideas.”

Wendy studied her grandmother’s face and wondered how the woman continued to do it. At over a hundred years old, Beatrice Arthur-King defied all natural laws. It was as if the grim reaper had lost her address.

Sure, she was wrinkled and frail, forgot half of what you said, and dismissed eighty percent of the rest, but the woman was doing better than the Energizer Bunny. And at the rate she was going, Wendy wouldn’t be surprised if the woman outlived her Uncle Jerry.

Actually, if that happened, it wouldn’t have fazed Wendy in the least. Jerry looked as if he were waning by the day. His color was off, he carried huge dark circles under his eyes, and his energy level was nil. Not to mention, he had become preoccupied with the notion that there was something wrong with Bea. Wendy felt as though Jerry was a bigger problem for her than her grandmother.

Wendy visited for another hour in the kitchen, then helped Bea into the living room and said goodnight. Jerry walked her to the car, and he started in immediately. “She wasn’t like that before you got here. She wouldn’t move and she just stared at me. It’s the darndest thing. You show up and she’s fine.”

“So, what are you saying, Uncle Jerry. Grandma’s gaslighting you?” Wendy opened the car door and threw her purse onto the seat. “She looked fine to me.”

“I know.” Jerry slumped his shoulders and hung his head. “But I swear she wasn’t like that before.”

“Listen, Uncle Jerry—you are the one who is going to inherit her house, not me. In return, you agreed to take care of her. I have a busy life so you need to stop calling me multiple times a day and figure things out for yourself. Maybe you should hire a helper. Ever thought of that?”


Jerry turned toward the house and made his way slowly up the steps. He walked through the kitchen, entered the living room, and froze. Bea stared back at him from her position on the sofa, a long line of saliva hung from her bottom lip.

He walked to the coffee table and reached for a tissue but recoiled instantly. A low guttered hiss escaped from Bea’s mouth. It sounded like air escaping from an over inflated balloon then grew in timber and depth till it formed into a growl.

Bea fixed her stare at him and lowered her head, her growl growing louder and more threatening by the second. Jerry’s legs began to tremble and threatened to give out from under him. Still, he managed to back away from the table.

“What did I tell you?” Bea hissed at him, her eyes rolling back into her skull.

“Ma,” Jerry tried to speak then felt his bladder let loose.

“You never knew how to keep your mouth shut, did you!” 

“Ma, you’re not yourself. I think I better call Wendy.” Jerry took another step back and knocked into an end table, the vase and bowl of peppermints crashed to the floor.

“You’ll do no such thing!” Bea snarled and moved from her seated position. Impossibly, she lifted her legs and brought them onto the cushion of the sofa until she was in a squatting position, arms hanging in front of her, hands facing her son.

“What are you doing, Ma? You’re scaring me.” Jerry tried to move but had already backed himself against the wall. He stared into the orange glow of his mother’s eyes. The noises coming out of her were like nothing he had ever heard in his life; they sounded feral and animalistic.

He turned away for one disastrous second and that was when it happened.

Bea leaped from the couch and screamed, her vocal cords electric with the shill cadence of a chainsaw. She pounced like a leopard with her hands hooked and stretched out before her. Jerry had just enough time to watch the talons erupt from her fingertips before she knocked him to the floor.

She was on top of him. Bea knelt on Jerry’s chest with the full force of her weight bearing down on him. Clutching his shoulders in her hands, she drove her claws into the soft flesh below his collar bone. Jerry tried to scream but was silenced as Bea drew in closer and opened her mouth.

Ice water chilled his veins as his breath was ripped from his lungs. Jerry gagged as the woman he had called mother lowered her jaw to his and inhaled. It felt like being burned alive. His eyeballs grew inside their sockets and threatened to burst, his muscles deflated and withered, and his heart folded in on itself.

He watched as a strange gray cloud drifted from his lips and was then absorbed by the old woman. He tried one last time to speak, to tell his mother that something was terribly wrong with her, but it wouldn’t have mattered if he did.

The frail, sad sack of a man was emptied like a waste basket.

Bea extracted what was needed, then stood up and walked to the kitchen. She made herself a fresh cup of tea and set three Nilla Wafers on a plate while her son Jerry, the living embodiment of Eeyore the dismal donkey, died on the living room floor.


Jerry’s death came as no surprise to Wendy or anyone else for that matter. He was laid to rest the following Saturday in the family plot next to both his brothers. Bea had outlived the last of her children, which left Wendy as her sole surviving heir.

Wendy had heard all the horror stories about what went on in nursing homes and was afraid to place Bea into one. Plus, there was the benefit of inheritance which the will stated would go to whoever was her caretaker. After all, at one-oh-two, Bea couldn’t possibly have all that much time left.

She put her own house up for sale and moved in with Bea that very week. She followed her own advice and hired a nurse to help out part-time. Fortunately, Wendy could afford to pay for a nurse to be there during the day while she was earning a living.

“I have to leave for work, Grandma.” Wendy smiled and turned to Ramon. “My number’s on the fridge if you need me, and I’m only fifteen minutes away, so don’t hesitate to call.”

“Oh, I’m sure we’ll be just fine,” Ramon, said. He had worked as a home health care worker for years and came with a high recommendation from the agency. “Isn’t that right, Mrs. King?”

Bea looked up from her position on the couch and smiled. “Don’t give me that Mrs. King nonsense, young man. Friends call Bea and so will you. I insist.”

Wendy leaned in and kissed her. “Have a great day, Grandma.”

Bea continued to smile and sat with her head slightly rocking back and forth as if she were listing to a tune that only she could hear. Wendy gave Ramon a few final instructions and then left for work.

“Can I get you anything, Mrs. King?” Ramon asked as he stood at the side door watching Wendy back out of the driveway. “Perhaps some tea, or maybe a cup of juice?”

“Oh, I’m fine, dear,” Bea called from the living room. “Why don’t you come sit with me so we can get to know each other a little better?”

Ramon entered the living room to find Beatrice bright-eyed and alert with her head held perfectly straight without a single shake or tremor at all. “That would be lovely,” he said and took a seat in the chair across from her.

“I won’t bite,” she said. “Come sit next to me on the couch so I can see you better. These old eyes aren’t what they used to be.” She patted the cushion next to her and smiled, showing her original teeth that had seen better days. Dark brown stains with even darker splotches of buildup blanketed the canvas of her grin.

“That would be nice,” Ramon said and joined her on the couch. “Where shall we start our chat?”

Bea spun like an uncoiled spring and leaned in toward him, causing Ramon to jump. “Oh my, you can sure move quick when you want to,” he said, sounding unsure of himself.

“You have no idea, young man.” Bea allowed her smile to broaden, exposing the dark funk that lay behind her lips. “Tell me, Ramon. Are you a religious man?”

Ramon slid an inch to the side, not wanting to appear rude, but still wishing to put a little more breathing room between him and the old woman. “Yes, I am religious.” He made the sign of the cross on his forehead.

“I see.” Bea lifted her upper lip into a sneer. “So, you’re a Catholic boy then?”

“Yes ma’am.” Ramon lifted the gold chain from under his shirt, revealing the crucifix lying underneath.

Bea latched onto the cross in Ramon’s hand with the speed of a viper. She clamped down, causing his knuckles to pop. He pulled against the old woman’s grip as his eyes widened and his heart slammed into overdrive. “Mrs. King, you’re hurting me.”

“I won’t have that vile malediction in my house!” she said, her last words trailing off into a deep guttural growl.

Bea tightened her grip and she could hear the small bones in Ramon’s hand shatter like toothpicks. He howled in pain and struggled to free himself, but the more he fought to break free, the tighter she latched on.

Bea could feel the adrenaline that surged through his veins and clouded his brain as he tried to comprehend what was happening. She could sense the panic and incomprehension from the young man.

He pulled away again and attempted to stand up but was yanked forward by the woman’s impossible strength. The chain broke free from around his neck as Bea jerked him off balance. The odor of burning fabric began to fill the room, smelling toxic and dense like a polyester material had suddenly caught fire.

Ramon screamed again as Bea’s hand blazed orange and then burst into flames. Her fiery fingers wrapped around his fist and melted into his flesh. A half second later, the cross and the broken chain liquefied. He jumped and pulled, and tried to get away, but Bea clamped down tighter and the fire spread.

Ramon smashed the old woman against the side of her head in a last-ditch effort to free himself. Bea didn’t even flinch as his blows fell ineffectively against her. Instead, she leaned in closer and stared deep into his soul.

Bea’s eyes burned orange like the fire that now consumed the entire length of Ramon’s arm. Her lips pulled back until they reached the top of her cheeks and she shrieked into Ramon’s face.

An oppressive stink lifted out of the woman and it smelled as if it were infected; a combination of puss and urine that had been left marinating in a forgotten bathroom. The sound of laughter filled the room as the demon creature began to rock back and forth with intent. He attempted to raise his free hand one last time to deliver a final blow but never got the chance. Bea reared back and ripped; Ramon’s arm separated at the shoulder and was pulled off cleanly.

The demon casually sat back on the couch and watched as he collapsed to the floor with a jet stream of arterial blood that became a geyser into the air. She knew his vision was fading into gray, but not before he saw Bea rise to her feet and stand over him.

She picked up his smoking, severed arm from the floor and lifted it over her head, enjoying the feel of its heat in her hands. She brought it down like a broadsword, silencing his thoughts completely.

Then the demon-woman kneeled on the dying man’s chest, lowered her face to his, and inhaled. The bluish-gray mist that was his last breath was consumed and savored.


Wendy returned shortly before five to find her grandmother sitting on the couch in the same spot she had left her, only Ramon was nowhere to be found. She set her purse on the counter and sat next to Bea on the couch. “Where’s Ramon, Grandma?”

“Oh, that nice man? He said he had to leave for some reason. A family emergency I think it was. I told him I would be fine and that you would be here any minute.”

“What!” Wendy’s voice rose in volume. “He can’t just leave anytime he wants. He was hired to stay with you while I’m at work. I’m calling the agency.”

“Oh, don’t make such a fuss. It’s no big deal; he just left right before you walked in the door.”

Wendy stepped over the rug to approach her grandmother. The rug seemed to squish under her shoes. “Why is this rug wet? Oh, and the couch looks like it has wet places, too.”

“It’s nothing, dear. Ramon spilled my soup so he had to clean it up. Made quite a mess. Maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing that he left the way he did. He was certainly clumsy.”

“I supposed you’re right,” Wendy said, then relaxed against the cushion. “Ramon just didn’t work out. Don’t worry; I’ll find another nurse.”

The women talked for nearly an hour before Wendy made soup and grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner. Afterward, they both retired to their rooms early.

Wendy read for a little while. But she was unable to focus on the words on the page. She fell asleep with the book in her hands and her mind running in twenty different directions. Her dreams were troubled and tension-filled, turning into nightmares.

In the foggy haze of a surrealistic dream, she saw herself as a little girl, sitting at the table with her Grandma Bea. The woman was showing her how to hold the pencil and use her left hand. A familiar face faded into view and Wendy looked up to see her father. Although no words had been said, she knew there was an argument taking place between Bea and her dad. Something about how Wendy should be using her right hand, or she would never learn how to do it correctly.

In her nightmare, Wendy stared up at her grandmother and watched as the woman’s eyes blazed a deep toxic orange. Shock caused adrenaline to surge and Wendy felt her heart pound in painful thuds against her ribcage. She tried to cry out but her throat felt constricted in her panic and she only managed to mewl like a kitten.

The child watched the evil smile that appeared as a jagged slash on her grandmother’s face grow impossible wide. The dark stains on the Bea-creature’s teeth grew even darker as she leaned in closer. She opened her mouth to allow a hiss to escape from somewhere deep inside her. It lifted out from between her lips and parted the air like a blade.

The nightmare subsided and Wendy moaned in her sleep as a vision of fire and smoke filled her next dream.


In the morning Wendy called the agency, but they were less than helpful. The woman on the other end of the phone had no idea where Ramon might be and offered to send a replacement. Wendy told the woman to forget it, hung up the phone, and decided to take the day off from work.

“I wish you wouldn’t worry so,” Bea said later that morning as they sat on the couch together. “I’m quite capable of taking care of myself.”

“I know, Grandma. But if anything happened, there would be no one here to help you. Hard to believe you are over a hundred. I sometimes wonder if you just might outlive me.”

“Oh, you won’t have to worry about that.” Bea turned to Wendy and smiled.

“Sometimes I’m not so sure.”

“Trust me dear, neither of us are going anywhere for a long time.” Bea parted her lips, allowing her smile to widen. Wendy stared and shifted in her seat.

Bea continued, “You know, you always were my favorite.” The center of Bea’s pupils flickered for a second then burned as if there were fire inside them. Wendy stared into them with her mouth hung wide. “Must be because we have so much in common, my little lefty girl.”

Wendy felt as though her body was undulating. A sensation of heat traveled up her neck and she felt her face flush. The corners of her mouth felt pulled until they impossibly stretched beyond their normal capabilities. Her vision was focused but it seemed to have an orange halo, like she was peering through flames. 

“You are inheriting more than the house,” Bea told her.       

last waltz