The Joy Kill Series [Or] Becoming Less of a Human and More of the Sky

by Kathryn H. Ross

Joy Kill

Long, black hair pulled tight
in a ponytail. Slender legs
encased in dark fabric and a
coat reaching down to the backs.
of his knees –Joy Kill stands
in his metallic roller blades, leans
forward, feels the sudden weight
of gravity as she wraps her arms
around his neck. The wind kisses
his lips, caresses his skin and whispers
through ribbons of flying hair,

“faster, faster—,”

Gravity tightens her hold. The wheels
of his blades scream, the ground tips
forward and Joy Kill, arms arched like
wings, plunges head first into the
black canvas sky.

From the Sky Returned

Ink dripped in globs to
the earth. Someone screamed,
“the sky is falling!”and little
human ants went scurrying.

Great, shining dollops of night
rained down, leaving behind hole-
punch windows to morning.

There was a great heave, and a body
came hurtling to the ground, a glint
of silver just visible in the beams of
early sunshine.

The sky was crepe paper and holes.
Joy Kill landed spread-eagled, wet hair
fanned out beneath him, clouds
wrapped around his heaving chest. A star
clung, burning, to his shoulder. His eyes
were full of wandering.

He stood, wiped the night from his
pants, saw it splatter the ground –
a spray of black, mottled blood. He
removed his shining shoes, tossed them
upward and the sky, extending its arms,
caught them –made them twin shining
stars. Human ants watched from their hills,
their beady eyes glinting like diamonds in
the earth.

Joy Kill started walking. The growing sun dried
the ink, the mottled blood, and night burned away.

“Where have you been?” a voice called from its
hiding place. Joy Kill kept his eyes on the sky,
ran a hand across his dripping face and replied,

“Swimming in the flood.”

Cleanse and Color

He’d finally washed off the night;
day had come, blazing white and
warm. Joy Kill watched the world
from his window, standing in the
shadowed slats of his blinds, feeling
like a phantom in his old apartment.
The walls watched him warily.

His long hair hung in wet rivulets around
his bruised shoulders and a white towel lay
draped over his hips, strung around his
alabaster skin.

Behind him she slept, surrounded by pillows. She
sighed, covered her head with her small paws,
trembled with a yawn. Joy Kill turned toward her,
slowly approached the bed. He took her soft body
into his arms and breathed the cinnamon smell of
her fur.

She awoke, startled. Getting her bearings, she hissed
and jumped from his arms, leaving a deep, black
scratch in her wake. She landed sprawled
on the ground, scraped her feet against the floor,
trying to get traction. Joy Kill called out as she
reached the door. She stopped, back arched, eyes
wide.He moved forward but, in the following
moment, she scuttled from the room.

Joy Kill straightened, stared at the empty
doorway. He felt the sting in his arm as black
blood surged forth, dripped down, spread
against the white of his towel, leaving a
night-colored stain.


The sun was sinking beyond the blinds;
Joy Kill stood, picking at the black
scab running down his arm like a
polluted river.

The crowd was clogging his lawn;
their screaming pounded against the
windows and roof like rain.

They were nothing but shadows
against the sun, eyes on fire
and mouths hurling words
like machetes.

“Come out, you demon!”

A rock hit the window,
splintering the glass. The crowd
cried in unison as Joy Kill took
a step back, gripping his sides,
feeling it all rage inside him.

Another stone collided with the house.
The window broke, covering the floor
with crystal shards.

The sun lost its footing, threw out a
glowing hand to cling to the hills,
keep it from falling. Its light was caught,
held in Joy Kill’s eyes, then disappeared,
swallowed like stardust in the twin
black holes.

A tear escaped from the void:
ink on alabaster canvas.

Becoming the Sky

Hands forced themselves through
the broken window. Blood sprayed
the carpet like wine leaping from
the glass. Joy Kill screamed,

“Stay back!”

but his words came as darkness from his
mouth, landed on the floor, mixed
themselves with the blood of the
crowd and consumed them.

White cheeks stained with ink
and water color, Joy Kill backed
against the wall. Heads and arms
surged forward until they were
all Joy Kill could see.

The hands of the crowd gripped
him, scratching and clawing, making
rips in the canvas, loosing onyx strands
from silver scalp while their cacophonic
voices yelled for his blood and his
death and his damnation.

The crowd pulled Joy Kill
forward, until he was born on
bony arms—through the window
and out onto the lawn. The last of the
sunlight slipped from the sky and the
stars peered out from behind the
clouds, blazing.

“Burn him!”

Fire sprang from the air, as if from
fevered human flesh. Joy Kill screamed,
marble skin melting like wax as
the flames licked his dying form.


The human ants scattered, spread out in
a ring of raised limbs and bared teeth. Joy
Kill burned at the center, a bonfire at a
witch’s gathering. Black smoke rose from
his body, reaching for the sky and the sky
spread its fingers, reaching back.

Joy Kill’s screams died. He smiled as
the night leaked from him, onto the grass,
into the air,
black mottled blood and vapor floating
upwards into the sky’s arms. Flames
extinguished themselves. Night fell,
complete, like a curtain. Pulled apart,
opened, scattered—

Joy Kill becomes the sky.

Kathryn H. Ross is an LA-based writer, reader, and storyteller. Her prose and poetry have been previously published in Neutrons Protons and Here/There: Poetry, and will soon appear in Unbroken Journal, Dali’s Lovechild, and 50 Haikus. When she is not writing, she is blogging for her talented writers group, Thimbleschism,or binge-watching Avatar: The Last Airbender.