Archive | September 2015

Loose The Gods of War

Private Wilhelm Hausser stood trembling, and for the first time it wasn’t because of the perpetual screams from behind the door of his post or the gruesome state of the bodies he was tasked to drag out and dispose of each day. This time, his body shook under a flood of adrenaline invoked by a different type of scream.

In an echoing torrent, Hausser’s commanding officer scolded him between gasps of air. Lieutenant Altstacht’s frame jerked and twitched with each exclamation, engorged veins pulsing in his neck, but his right hand held firm—the hand holding the loaded 9mm Luger inches from Wilhelm’s face.

“…unacceptable. You will face severe repercussions!”

Both men dripped sweat and struggled to keep their breath as the situation escalated. The other solider, on post opposite Wilhelm, pressed himself against the wall, doing his best to become invisible.

None of them noticed the clopping footsteps approach until they stopped. Private Hausser’s eyes drifted to the waiting group of men. Their identity was unmistakable—black uniforms emblazoned with dual lightning bolt letters and a silver skull glimmering atop their helmets. Wilhelm, in sync with the other Private, jolted into a rigged stance, their complexions more pallid, their right arms raised.

“…either astounding ignorance or an utter lack of—” Alstacht’s existence froze. Then, he lowered the pistol and snapped into a salute.

One man broke from the group and faced the officer with a clack of his heels. “At ease, Lieutenant. What is the disturbance here?”

“M-my Führer, I am honored by your presence. My sincerest apologies for the disruption,” Alstacht said with the lowered gaze of a scolded child.

“Nonsense, I am a man of the people and I wish to help. Please, enlighten me.”

“The… uh, Private here, was being reprimanded for failure to follow orders and repeated offenses of unauthorized attire in disrespect of the uniform.”

“Hmm, yes, this is not good. What is the exact offense?”

The Lieutenant’s posture straightened and his voice now held much of the strength it had prior to the group’s arrival. “Repeated exposure of a necklace promoting unauthorized symbols—the Christian cross and some other nonsensical medallion. The solider had been warned previously of such an offense.”

The Führer walked over to Hausser and lifted the charms in the palm of his hand for a closer inspection. With a swipe of his thumb, he brushed the cross aside to view the medallion—a pewter cast of three interlocking horns. The Führer glanced at the Private before returning to Alstacht’s side.

“And, what was the decided punishment?”

“The official punishment for insubordination is death, my Führer,” the Lieutenant answered and retrained his pistol on Hausser.

“I see,” Hitler said, pursing his lips. “It is a shameful loss, but rules are rules.”

Then, gesturing to Alstacht with an open hand, he inquired, “May I?”

“Of course, my Führer.”

Hitler raised the pistol and locked eyes with Private Hausser. In a calm, swift motion, he turned to the Lieutenant and pulled the trigger.

Alstacht’s body crumpled to the floor.

“Now, let me be clear,” the Führer announced, “ignorance is unforgivable. No situation can be defined by the black and white of a rule book.”  Hitler then gripped Hausser’s shoulder.  “Forgive the misunderstanding. Please, come with me and tell me why you wear Odin’s symbol.”

The two men walked down the long corridor with the SS marching behind them. Hausser had similar features to those in the SS and stood at least eight inches taller than their leader.

“My grandmother raised me on both the pre and post-Christian Norse religion. I wear them to honor her and to honor the Gods.”

“Do not those symbols clash?”

“No, my Führer, I believe that there is a closer connection than currently known. I believe they are both based on an older mythos.”

“Ha,” Hitler laughed aloud, which caused more than a few widened eyes behind them. “Private, you were quite underutilized.”

After a few turns through the complex, they approached a heavily guarded door. The soldiers on post saluted as they crossed the threshold.

The room was massive. Broken into several areas, it looked to contain functions of a library, a science laboratory, a museum, and an odd variation of a church sanctuary. Nazi regalia lined the walls and men were hard at work in all sections.

Hitler led them across the main hall and into the Library’s archive examination room, waiving off salutes as they went. A small team of scholars hovered around a book laid open at the table’s center as they took notes and referenced other texts. They dropped everything and gave salute. One of them, after receiving the return salute, approached the Führer. His complexion reddened and beads of sweat formed across his brow as he waited for Hitler to speak.

“Dr. Bunzel, I have not received Himmler’s report on the new item.”

“My Führer, please forgive the delay. We have translated portions of the manuscripts and are only now able to run some tests on its accuracy and potential.” The doctor gestured to the sanctuary at the far end of the great hall where men looked to be preparing for a ceremony with lighted candles and incense.

“Pnakotic,” Hausser spoke softly, an unintentional word falling from his lips as he peeked over Bunzel’s shoulder to the book in the examination room.

Both men stopped and looked at him.

“Is that the Pnakotic Manuscripts?”

The doctor’s mouth dropped open, his gaze shifting from the young soldier to the Führer and back.

“Dr. Bunzel,” Hitler said with a smirk, “meet Private Wilhelm Hausser.”

“You know of the manuscripts?” the doctor asked.

“I-I never knew if they were real or myth, but, yes. It was said by Norse mystics that the manuscripts held the true origin of the Gods… all the Gods that we now see as different religions. They are all incarnations—representations diluted by the framework of human sanity—of the true supreme beings that rule over our existence.”

“How do you know this?”

“Are the manuscripts penned in Old Norse or the elder language?”

“It’s, uh, Duriac, or, as you say, the elder language,” Dr. Bunzel answered, still slow in finding his words as he stared with a pinched expression. “What else do you know about the manuscripts?”

“I’ve heard there is a Norse version, lost chapters of the Sagas, emblazoned with the tangled image of Jormungandr. But, this creature is not the spawn of Loki as the mythology is told. That serpent of the sea is but an appendage of the true being—a much older, horrific creature of inconceivable context and power—one of the Elder Gods. The manuscripts offer historical reference, but also passages of worship and incantation. Norse mystics included words of warning as well, safeguards so to speak, that were not in the originals texts. I urge you to not—”

Excited voices from across the hall grew loud enough to demand their attention. One of the scholars, clad in a heavy robe, shouted at the altar with his arms outstretched. A breeze swirled through the room, ruffling the large Nazi banners and threatening to extinguish the candle flames. The man slowed, hesitating in his incantation. He searched through the translated documents with a frantic flipping of pages.

A deep rumbling sound emerged as the floor shuddered.

“This can’t be good,” Hausser said and cursed under his breath as he leapt forward, snatched the Pnakotic Manuscripts, and sprinted toward the sanctuary.

“Hey!” the doctor objected.

The group rushed to follow the young Private. When they arrived at the edge of the church, Hausser was there, already paging through the manuscripts.

“You can read them?” Dr. Bunzel asked.

“Not entirely, but I may know enough,” Hausser said without looking up.

The makeshift priest shouted a sequence of ancient words and the tremors stopped; a moment of calm hung heavy in the room with a wide eyed look of confusion on all the faces. Then, booming from all directions, a voice of grinding stone and thunder replied to the incantation.

“Hasyrath r’ylek n’gklul.”

The scholars rifled through their notes arguing in harsh whispers.

With no direct reply, the monstrous voice spoke again.

“R’ylek n’gklul.”

“It’s saying something about, uh, a true gift,” Hausser said, drawing the attention of those around him. He stood squeezing his eyes shut, scouring his memory for a better understanding of the language. “No wait, it’s asking for a worthy offering.”

“Ph’nglui kadishtu ehye fhtagn r’lyehoth, gnaiih mnahn fhtagn.”

“No blood sacrifice was given,” Hausser translated, “so blood he shall take.”

They all stared at the Private, waiting, hoping he’d correct his translation.

Just as Hitler moved to voice an inquiry, the makeshift priest screamed and dropped to his knees. He held his face in his hands as blood oozed out between his fingers. After a moment, his shrieks dwindled until he knelt in near silence, his heaving breaths the only sound in the entire hall.

A lone scientist approached the priest with great caution, each of his footsteps placed with visible hesitance. He knelt down next to the man and, with a craned neck and a gentle hand upon his shoulder as if consoling a lost child, he offered to help.

The priest removed his hands from his face and reached out to the scientist. A gasp flowed through the crowd of onlookers as his empty eye sockets were revealed. The two men rose to their feet and the scientist waved to the soldiers for assistance. The priest, instead of reaching for support on the other man’s shoulders, clutched the scientist’s head and cackled wildly as he squeezed. In a matter of seconds his hands, now covered in blood and grey matter, found each other.

Screams erupted throughout the hall.

The soldiers skidded to a halt a few feet away and immediately readied their rifles. With gore dripping from his outstretched fingers, the priest turned to face them and they opened fire. A series of bullets riddled his chest, their impact jostled his body, but he kept shambling toward them. Then, in a voice like screams amid a buzzing storm of insects, he spoke to them, “R’lyehoth mnahn fhtagn.”

The soldiers crept back again, trying to keep a safe distance, but the priest, with only a sweeping gesture, sent them and all to the floor, clutching their helmets and writhing in agony.

Full panic hit the room. Scientist and scholars ran for cover and shoved past each other to reach the exits. The SS core formed a barrier around the Führer and fired at the possessed priest.

“Found it!” Hausser shouted. Ignoring the gunshots and the urgent questions from Dr. Bunzel, the Private stepped out of the crowd and approached the altar. He grabbed a silver saucer, brushed off the incense ash, and rushed over to the scientist’s corpse. As he fought down the rising bile in his throat, he scooped up brains and blood with his bare hands to load up the offering plate. On the floor at the base of the alter he drew symbols in blood that looked like variations of three interlocked triangles and modified pentagrams with a central eye.

By that time the SS had inflicted enough damage to the priest’s skull, spine, and torso to render him little more than an abstract pile of hot meat. As they sighed their relief and reloaded their weapons, the five victims of the priest, rose to carry out the will of their possessor.

Renewed gunfire thrummed in Hausser’s peripheral attention, but he remained focused. He stood between the blood-drawn symbols, with the offering plate held high, and called to the Ancient Ones.

“Vulgtlagln naep vulgtm shtunggli zhro ee naR’lyeh”

The complex shook violently and the thundering voice replied, “Nilgh’ri sll’ha vulgtm ilyaa li’hee. Ehye fhtagn.”

Hausser’s shoulders slumped. He turned to look at the human chaos behind him. More death bloomed through the hall as people trampled each other and soldiers succumbed to the possessed corpses, while all those screams from the experiment ward echoed through his mind. Should he end this, or was it deserved punishment? No one in the entire complex could be considered innocent, he thought, but this curse, their wrath, would quickly spread beyond these walls if he didn’t abide.

Moral agony twisted his face as he decided his fate and theirs.

Tears slid down his cheeks. With a clenched jaw, he set down the saucer and sought out the closest scholar. A woman, trying to flee the possessed soldiers, ran along the sanctuary’s edge toward the main entrance. Hausser grabbed her lab coat and pulled her over to the altar. Breathing heavy through gritted teeth, he snatch a dagger from the altar, held it against her neck, and shouted, “Vulgtm ehye fhtagn li’hee.”

Then, in one swift movement, he yanked her hair back and slit her throat.

Her blood sprayed him as much as it did the offering plates.

The tremors stopped.

The possessed soldiers, collapsed, returning to their state of death.

An odd calm fell over the hall.

Hitler, with the remaining SS in tow, approached Hausser and shook his hand with vigor, “I knew you were special. Excellent work, young Hausser! You shall be commended and given proper reward.”

“My Führer, I—”

“Never mind that. With the right incantations, might we control the… Gods?”

“My Führer,” Hausser replied with a creased expression of fret, “we are extremely lucky to have contained them for the time being. Control will never be an option.”

“Special Lieutenant Hausser, your responsibility going forward is to contain the powers behind today’s events, and to report directly to me with any variance,” Hitler said, then turned to Dr. Bunzel. “Doctor, you and your team will continue to seek a method of control and experiment toward such. This power, if harnessed, would deliver to us all nations and allow a proper ethnic cleansing for the dawn of the Aryan race! This is of the highest priority. Have I made myself clear?”

“Yes, my Führer. Sieg Heil!”

Wilhelm Hausser watched the survivors march away with smiles on their faces as if a treasure was uncovered. All he could think about, with the day’s violence joining the nightmare menagerie of his memories, was the question: who was the true terror, the malignant Gods, or mankind itself?

~ Tyr Kieran

© Copyright 2015 Tyr Kieran. All Rights Reserved.

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Utterly Shattered

Why must I feel so utterly shattered when smashed upon your jagged edge? Why can you not let me fall into the beautifully delicious pain that exists inside you – pain that has been waiting for me to find it for so very long? You hide such an exquisitely luring anguish from me, thinking I cannot see it – but I see it with my very essence – my entire being; I see it in the blink of your depthless eyes even when not at your side; I feel it in every breath you draw whether that breath be taken roughly in my ear or drawn in a spat of anger at all the world has made of you.  I long so desperately to be near you, to revel in your darkest pangs, your deepest wounds, your most hidden crevasses where your shadows stretch the longest.

My soul is no longer in my own keeping as it has already been fully engulfed by you – it is given with utter bliss and unhindered submission, bowing to your every whim and fancy.  My pain is yours to have, my pleasure yours to give or withhold. I beg of you to open your shadowed darkness and let me submerge myself, gulping it in as though it were my own life’s breath; for it is, as I cannot be without you any longer.

Give to me all that I would allow you to take from one so undeserving as I.  I offer you a glimpse of the salvation you have sought at only the cost of my own damnation. Why must you hide in a darkness you feel is precious only to you? My darkness is equal to that of yours and calls out in pain to touch, to merge, to become one with that mournful depth which dwells within you.

Ahhh, tears burn my eyes to think of the ecstasy that awaits the lost such as we. Am I never to attain such glorious freedom while you exist in your own self-imposed exile? Be all to me that your inner demon demands I be to you, suffocate me with your needs; for I need not the air I breathe so much as I need the nearness of the beast that rages within you. Your touch, your embrace, your longing – your anger, your angst, and your pain; these things are my gleaming gems, my most sacred desires – the currency of an aching soul unearthed from the roughest of stone I did not know existed before you.

Drag me into an eternity of damnation where I will languish in your exquisite tenderness… a tenderness that rends my heart to pieces and releases the overwhelming restraint I have kept in check for what seems all of time.  Strip away my mask and bare my most inner desires that I am not able to unleash with any other than you. Take me farther into the reaches of madness that will consume what is left of my sanity for I need not think when you are near, I must only be.

This is my treasured wish; this is my undisguised want; this is what you have made of me. Be for me, as I am only for you…

skull_fangs2~ Nina D’Arcangela

© Copyright 2015 Nina D’Arcangela. All Rights Reserved

Crime Doesn’t Pay

C’mon, Greg! We gotta stash this loot!”

“Why here, for Christ’s sake, Len? This place gives me the fucking creeps!”

“In case you can’t hear too well, dip-wad, the police sirens are blaring all over the place. If we’re caught with the cash, it’s our asses!”

“But this is the cemetery. It ain’t right!”

“What wouldn’t be right is us sitting in a cell with Bubba wanting to pound our butts. I ain’t into that Hershey stuff.”

“And I suppose I am, huh?”

“I’m not saying you are. We hide the stash and vamoose. When the coast is clear, we come back and get it.”

“But . . .”

“No buts. This place is filled with dead people. They won’t care. It’s not like we’re going to desecrate their graves or anything.”

“Okay, but I don’t like it.”

The two men look around, searching for the perfect place: a spot easy enough to conceal the money and their guns, but one that will not present hardships to retrieve it later.

Tonight the cemetery is well lit from the light of a huge full moon and no clouds to speak of. Caution. Yes, care must be taken so they are not seen. No one frequents the place now, but who knows? The cops are scouring everywhere. What’s to stop them from coming here?

Less than an hour ago, they had held-up the convenience store, pistol-whipping the clerk and emptying the cash drawer. Len had gone into the office and busted the safe open. Nothing like having some experience with such things. Greg had been upset over the condition of the clerk, but the idiot refused to hand over the loot and Len had lost it, rushing into a vicious attack on his skull, the sounds of breaking bone ripping through the store. When the money had been stashed away in Len’s backpack, the two thieves checked on the cashier. Too late for him. The bloody pulp that had formerly been the pleasant, cheerful face of Tony Sturbridge, was unrecognizable now.

The stench of feces filled the store, combined with that of piss. Tony had unloaded his bowels and bladder when death came a-knocking. The blood, still pouring from his head, completed the grisly picture. Greg stayed far away from the body, tasting the Death in the room, the sensation of their evil deed running rampant around them.

Somehow, the cops were on their way in a hurry, not even allowing the two of them time to get back to their car that was parked a few blocks away in front of an apartment complex. No one could pin the duo to the crime by association with the vehicle.

“Okay, Len, just where do we stash this shit? C’mon, answer man.”

“Just shut the fuck up! We’ll find a place. I’ll look. You keep your eyes open for the cops.”

Tiptoeing around the markers and stones, Len finds what appears to be a floating section of grass about three feet square around the base of a huge oak. He works his fingers around the edges and gaining a finger-hold, he pulls it up.

“Look at this, Greg! This grass chunk is like a trap door or something. I wonder where it goes?”

He feels around and finds a wooden structure. With the help of Greg, he lifts it up and is overwhelmed from the stench coming out of the opening beneath them. “Holy shit! What’s that odor, Greg?! It’s putrid!”

Greg is in no shape to answer him, not with his insides trying to come up through his esophagus. Struggling to hold back the onslaught of puke doesn’t work and soon he and Len both are covered in his bile-rich vomit.

“Damn it, Greg! That’s fucking disgusting . . .”

His words are cut short as two huge hands reach up from below, grabbing him, and cutting into his arms with long, sharp nails. In one swift move, he is pulled beneath the ground, the sudden attack putting him into a state of shock. His adversary laughs and seemingly finds every little rock and root to drag him across.

Trying to focus through his vomit encased vision, Greg sees but doesn’t see what happened to Len. Spitting out some of the crap in his throat and mouth, he shouts, “Where are you, Len?!  What’s going on?”

He doesn’t have to wait long for an answer as something from behind places its huge foot on his ass and kicks him into the hole. Greg tries to stop his rapid descent but has no luck. He’s in some sort of a shaft. It’s steep, and when he hits bottom, he lands hard.

Algol jumps in after him, taking the slab of wood along. He pulls down on the grass concealment, firmly putting it back in place and forces the plank of wood into the ground, effectively concealing the entry. No one will find the opening.

Len and Greg are dragged to the chamber that until recently was his lonely home. Now he shares it with Lillith and things are so much better. Not only do they share their unique tastes in cuisine, but the amorous adventures foreign to them for so long are engaged in day after day, night after night. Neither of them tires of their pursuits of sexual pleasure.

However, other pleasures are now awaiting the Ghoulish couple: fresh meat before them, a terrified duo just now realizing where they are, and while not fully recognizing the horror of the situation, knowing that nothing good is about to happen.

The sweat of the damned pours from Len as Lillith hovers over him, her long, scraggly hair and yellowish-black teeth staring him in his face. She smiles, not at all upset by his panic. In fact, she recognizes it for what it is and basks in the joy of her dinner’s agony. Spittle from the sides of her mouth fall into his eyes, causing him to scream out in pain as her acidic saliva burns deep into him.

“Does that hurt, you little bastard? Maybe there should be a lot more pain given to you,” she says. “After all, you could have cared less about the pain you subjected Tony to.”

What the fuck?! The ugliness of this creature, illuminated by a flashlight that fell out of Len’s pocket, terrifies him: naked, covered with hair, drooling. She approaches closer and closer, her breasts drooping down, almost to his mouth, the very thought of them that close disgusting him.

“Oh, you don’t like the way I look! Well, my friend, you’re not going to look too good yourself in a few minutes. Maybe if you say you’re sorry I’ll take pity on you and not kill you too fast. Yeah, maybe.”

A rat scoots across Len’s forehead, sending more shivers down his frame. He jerks upward as hard as he can, trying to shove Lillith off him. She plays along for a few seconds, allowing him to move her up, but uses the time to tear his clothes off him. Len goes berserk with fear as she starts nibbling on his neck, taking tiny little bites, the acid attacking the wounds burning like nothing he has ever felt before.

“So you don’t like my little pet,” Lillith says. “He likes you. Watch.”

She picks the rodent up and places it on Len’s neck. It sniffs around, whiskers creating a picture on his neck, the blood acting as paint. The pet drives the killer to spasmodic jerking. He wants it off him; he hates rats.

“Mama says it’s okay to feed, my precious. I will share my dinner with you.”

Understanding Lillith, the rat buries its teeth into the wounds, sucking up blood and nibbling away as Len screams in pain. Once it has eaten his fill, it hops off contentedly and scurries through the piles of clothing stacked everywhere in this Ghoulish love nest.

Lillith rubs her body all over Len as she goes back to feeding on him, the pain driving him to the edge of insanity. Smiling before she puts her lips on his, she forces the taste of her on his lips and tongue, adding to his agony as he forces the wretched affliction from his mouth, spitting it back at her. Lillith reacts violently by biting his lips off, chewing on them before his horrified eyes.

Greg, stricken with panic watching his friend being eaten alive, tries to escape, but Algol tears off his right arm and slaps him in the face with it. As he screams in pain, knowing now their fates are sealed, Algol says, “Welcome to the party, Greg. No way could we leave you out of this fun.”

Lillith and Algol slowly eat away at the two men, enjoying their struggles and the taste of fresh meat – so much better than decayed flesh. Watching each other tease and taste the two vermin drives the Ghouls to a feeding frenzy and they pass the two back and forth between them. When Len is almost dead they both eat away at him from different ends of his body, meeting in the middle and disemboweling him in unison.

Len’s life force is gone.

Greg, forced to watch this attack on his friend, is unable to move. He is resigned to his fate; he does not have long to wait. Lillith reaches in with her hideous claws and tears his heart out. One last shudder and it’s all over for him.

Their little pet returns to partake of more as Lillith finishes eating Greg’s heart.

Algol looks at his mate, other feelings stirring once more in his loins. She returns his look and smiles.

“You know, Lillith,” he says, “this human rabble doesn’t understand that crime doesn’t pay.”

~ Blaze McRob

© Copyright 2015 Blaze McRob. All Rights Reserved.

In the Clearing

George Sutherland followed Francine McKenna farther into the forest. His interest in Sasquatch had led him to join the Nova Scotia Bigfoot Hunters Society. When he met the group’s leader Francine, however, his priority instantly became to get into her pants. When she asked him to go with her on a short overnight expedition, he saw it as good a chance as any.

Only one tent for the two of them.

“Come on,” Francine said, looking over her shoulder. “Pick up the pace back there.”

Her red hair was pulled back into a tight ponytail and although her cheeks were red from the excursion through the woods, George could still see her freckles. He couldn’t help but smile.

“Easy for you to say,” George said adjusting his backpack straps. “I’m the one carrying all of the heavy shit.”

“I can give you the lighter one if that one is too heavy for you. I bet the rest of the group would love to hear about that.”

George made a face but increased his speed, trying to catch up to her.

Clouds were slowly overtaking the blue sky that had been present earlier in the morning when they parked on the side of the logging road and ventured into the woods. Some blue jays chirping in the trees suddenly darted out, catching George’s attention. He didn’t see his boot catch the exposed root and fell forward with the weight of the backpack forcing him to the ground.

Francine laughed. “Are you okay?”

“Fuck sakes,” George said, pushing himself off the ground. “Where is the rest of the team anyways?”

“Matt and Ryder had to work and Beverly’s out of town visiting family. They’re going to regret not coming out on this one.”

“So exactly why are we out here? Why this particular area?”

Francine looked at him. “You mean besides living up to the NSBHS’s name?” She took out her cellphone, opened some files and handed it to George. “An old friend of mine, Bryan who works as a harvester for Triple L Lumber, sent me these photographs.”

The first few photos George flipped through consisted of large footprints in the ground and at the end were shots of reddish-brown fur snagged on tree branches.

“Those pictures were taken by different employees all within this eighty hectare plot,” Francine said. “They all reported experiencing a strong, foul odor like a combination of a skunk and wet dog as well as hearing loud grunts and sticks banging against trees. All classic evidence of Bigfoot.”

George frowned. “I know that I’m still relatively new to the group but we get dozens of emails from people with pictures like this, claiming to have seen Bigfoot. What makes these more special or significant?”

“There’s also been some other strange things going on up here. If you scroll to the end of the photos, you’ll see one that’s not related to Sasquatch at all.”

George found the photo she was referring to and looked at it.

There were four impressions in all, with two distinct prints. The first set was the smaller of the two with what looked like three knuckles side by side. The larger ones also had three knuckles and were further out to the sides. They also had small indentations that resembled bear claws.

“It kind of looks like whatever made these was running,” George said. He handed the phone back to Francine. “The way they are laid out reminds me of the way a gorilla runs.”

“Show me.”

George undid his backpack straps and slid them off his shoulders.

“Like this.”

He squatted down and then pushed off with his knuckles, landing on his feet and repeated for a few feet so Francine could see what he meant. She looked at the pictures, then at the slight impressions George had made in the ground and back to her phone.

“I can see it,” she said. “If we can find more evidence of this we may have something new for the cryptozoology books.”

***

It was sore from the struggle its previous prey had put up.

Unable to see, it relied on its sharp sense of smell that was still filled with the skunk-like smell of its previous meal. It was about to move on when it picked up on something else.

The smell was faint but recognizable.

Humans.

***

They trudged on, venturing deeper into the forest. The air was cool, yet humid, as summer was refusing to hand its reigns over to autumn.

“I’ve always enjoyed the smells of the woods,” Francine said. “It smells alive.”

“The bugs have always kept me away from walking amongst the trees,” George said. “Fucking things.”

“They don’t seem to be too bad now.”

George realized that he hadn’t heard the high-pitched buzzing in his ear for a while. He also noticed that the birds didn’t seem to be chirping either.

“Why is it so quiet?” George asked.

Francine looked at him, listened and shrugged with little concern for the silence.

They walked on and in the pit of his stomach, George thought it felt wrong. He opened his mouth to mention it but didn’t want to ruin his chances.

The trees started to thin out, which George was thankful for as it made walking easier. Eventually, they entered a clearing and were immediately hit by a strong stink.

“Holy shit, what the hell is that…?” George said covering his nose with his hand.

Francine gagged.

“It kind of smells like a skunk,” George said.

He looked at Francine and even though the smell was bothering her, she seemed to get excited.

“Sasquatch is reported to have a skunk-like smell,” she said.

“Or it could just be a skunk.”

“No, this is different. It’s really thick and… it does seem to have a wet dog scent to it.”

Although he smelled it too, George shook his head. “To me it still smells like a skunk, possibly a dead one, but a skunk nonetheless.”

“Let’s go find the source,” Francine said.

The clearing was roughly the size of a football field. An assortment of bushes had sprung up sporadically with a few small spruce trees here and there amongst the tall grass.

George started after her and immediately felt his body break out in goose bumps. He stopped and looked around. Something about the clearing made him feel very uneasy.

“Maybe we should…”

He was cut off by Francine yelling with excitement in her voice.

“Oh my God! George, get your ass over here! Hurry!”

She was standing near the far tree line, waving her arms frantically.

“Did you find the skunk?” George asked as he got closer.

Near the edge of the clearing was a body lying on its back, its arms jutting straight out to the side. It was covered in reddish-brown fur that fluttered in a gentle breeze except for the face, which was clean shaven. The eyelids were open slightly but the eyes had rolled back into its head with a wide, flat nose sitting just below them. Its mouth was slightly agape, showing yellowed teeth.

The body of a Sasquatch.

***

It could tell it was getting closer; the human scent was everywhere.  Very faintly, it could hear their voices.

Its pace quickened.

***

“I don’t fucking believe it,” George said.

“Do you know what this means?” Francine asked. “Get the camera out.”

“I still don’t believe what I’m seeing.”

“You can don’t believe all you want later.” Francine slipped the backpack off her shoulders. “Get the camera out and start shooting!”

George’s eyes, and brain, were still trying to comprehend exactly what they had stumbled across. He removed his backpack and let it fall to the ground hard.

“Hey, come on. Pay attention to what you’re doing.” She took her cellphone out of her backpack and began dialing.

“I’m going to give the rest of the team a call.”

George squatted down and began unzipping his backpack, but didn’t take his eyes off of the body. It was well over nine feet and the beast’s frame looked powerful.

His hands found the camera and he pulled it out. He turned it on, shifted his eyes from the body to the LCD screen and began taking pictures.

“Damn it,” Francine said. “I can’t get a signal out here.”

As he walked closer to the body, George zoomed in on the Sasquatch’s arms and noticed a puncture wound on each one. The fur and skin seemed to have been pushed to the sides. A hole, roughly the diameter of a pencil, penetrated through the tissue underneath.

“I really can’t believe that this is lying right in front of us,” Francine said. She knelt down beside the Sasquatch and held her hand out, hesitating to touch it. “This is incredible.”

As he took a few more pictures, George noticed the ground around the body was beaten down. A lot of the tall grass had been broken, as if it buckled underneath something heavy. Scattered around the ground were clumps of the Sasquatch’s fur.

To him, it looked like a fight had taken place.

George lowered the camera and looked at her. “It doesn’t look like it died from natural causes.”

Francine met his gaze for a moment then looked around at the surroundings. “I think you might be right.”

“So what killed it?”

***

It could tell it was near the clearing due to the trees’ smells fading into nothing more than background scents. The other odor was still there.

There were two human scents, a male and female, both of them nearby.

Despite its previous meal not too long ago, it was ravenous.

It entered the clearing.

***

George frowned.

“Does Bigfoot have any natural predators?”

“I’m not really sure,” Francine replied. “But, if I had to give an answer, I would say no.”

“So, I’ll ask again. What killed it?”

They both thought back to the strange tracks in the picture on Francine’s phone.

“Do you think those tracks are part of it?” Francine asked.

George opened his mouth to answer but saw Francine’s eyes open wide in fear.

Something slammed into him and tackled him to the ground, landing on his stomach. George struggled to turn over but he felt a sting in his back; within seconds a toxin entered his bloodstream, paralyzing him.  Although he could not move, George’s head remained facing Francine’s direction.

The thing that tackled him was already making its way towards her. It was hairless and running just as he had acted out earlier: running on its knuckles with its fingers curled underneath, like a gorilla.

Francine screamed and ran. The creature, however, was too fast and tackled her to the ground. Two stingers shot out of its palms into her back, just beneath her shoulder blades.

When she stopped moving, it turned its head to George.

There were no eyes; only nostrils constantly flaring and a mouth running vertically up its face. A large plate-like feature jutted out along its back, protecting most of the torso.

The creature began dragging her back to where George was lying. It released her and using the claws on its hands, cut into her forearm. George watched as it dug its hook-like teeth into her flesh and then the mouth opened, tearing tissue away from the bone. A penetrating sheath shot out of its mouth into the bone and it began to ingest Francine’s marrow.

George could only watch and wait, knowing that once it finished with her it would come for him.

~ Jon Olson

© Copyright 2015 Jon Olson. All Rights Reserved

Salamander

“Fulfill your divine potential. Connect with your higher self and spirit guides. Manifest the life you want,” read the brochure.

It sounded like a good idea at the time, but sitting there, in a circle of misfits, Jess regretted going along and wondered how she could politely excuse herself.

A woman with long white hair rang a little bell to announce the meditation was about to begin. People hushed their soft chatter. They nestled on their cushions, getting comfortable.

“Okay. Let’s begin. My name is Isadora. I will be leading the guided meditation with you tonight.”

Isadora glanced around the room, smiling warmly. She wore long flowing clothes in shades of pink and white. Her neck and fingers were adorned with gemstones. Jess hated her immediately.

“Let’s close our eyes. Begin by taking a deep breath. In through the nose, out through the mouth. And another deep breath in…and out. Allow all the thoughts and worries of the day to slip away. Become fully aware of your body. We’re going to count backwards from ten and you will gradually feel more and more relaxed. Ten…”

Reluctantly Jess closed her eyes. She would just have to sit through this and leave as soon as she could. She peeped through squinted eyes at the others in the room. They were a random group from all walks of life: a well groomed business man fresh out of the office, a twenty something Goth girl, a middle aged woman in gym gear, a plump woman in a brightly printed kaftan and matching head scarf.

Without dropping her smile Isadora gave Jess a stern look. Jess quickly squeezed her eyes shut.

“You are standing in a beautiful forest; a lush, green, beautiful forest. It is a warm sunny day. You are walking through the forest and soon you reach a clearing. Standing in the middle of the clearing is someone waiting for you. It is your spirit guide. Feel the rays of love coming from your guide, they are so happy to meet you.”

Jess was standing in a beautiful forest. A lush, green, beautiful forest. A short way ahead there was a clearing. She walked towards the clearing as she was instructed. There was something there. It was so bright that her eyes began to sting; she couldn’t look at it directly. Jess didn’t feel joy, she felt a heavy sinking dread – an immobilizing terror. The being was menacing. It appeared to be made of flames, flickering and lashing. Jess looked around, frightened. The lush, green, beautiful forest had become dense and dark, stretching upwards, closing in on her. She couldn’t escape this imagined landscape; there was no way back.

“When you feel ready you may approach your guide. You may hug them if you wish, do what feels right for you. Ask them if they have a name.”

Isadora’s calm steady voice continued to drone on in her head, but Jess could no longer focus on the words.

The temperature was rising quickly, the atmosphere had become a blistering haze. Jess was sweating; she felt faint. The strange being approached her. It came close, dancing and twirling in front of her. The waves of heat were scalding; she could smell her hair smouldering. Tiny shooting sparks flicked at her, each one inflicting a painful burn. Jess opened her mouth to scream and the being leapt in. It slid down her throat and zapped around furiously in her belly. Her stomach began to sizzle. The sensation of being burned from the inside out was excruciating. She dropped to the ground screaming. She rolled around clutching her stomach, but the fire was within her and she couldn’t extinguish it. The looming dark forest exploded in flames.

“…And when you are ready, open your eyes. You are now fully back in your body and safely grounded.”

Isadora’s voice cut through her vision and Jess found herself sitting on the cushion again.

Around her, the others had begun to stretch and move. A few people were shedding quiet tears of happiness and awe. The kaftan wearing woman was chanting ‘Om’. Isadora rang her tiny bell again to bring attention back to the circle.

“Okay. I hope you all enjoyed that visualization. Would anyone like to share their experience?”

“My guide was a Native American warrior,” blurted the businessman. “He gave me a large white feather.”

“A white feather!” said Isadora, impressed. “Wonderful. Very powerful.”

A lively discussion began as people exchanged details of their spirit guide experiences, comparing mysterious details and imagery.

Jess sat quietly, feeling very shaken. Her experience had seemed so real, so awful. She remembered the smell of her hair burning and the sensation of burning up inside. She hoped no one would ask her about it. She looked around the room, growing more anxious. It was starting to get so hot and stuffy. Thick smoke streamed from an incense burner, forming a mist in the room. The sweet scent was nauseating. Candles burned around the circle. Jessica watched the flames rise and flash brightly. She wriggled uncomfortably as panic began to set in. She must be imagining things, she thought, she had to get out.

“Are you okay, dear? Do you want to share your experience? Sometimes our guides challenge us because they know we are ready to grow.”

Isadora was speaking to her. She was still smiling that infuriating smile, that feigned wisdom and compassion.

The others in the circle turned to stare at Jess. Jess felt a strange force stir within her and she struggled to speak.

“My guide…my guide is…my guide is fire!”

The smile on Isadora’s face didn’t falter, she stared at Jess, not understanding.

Jess began to shake, a blind rage rose within her, building momentum. A deafening screech erupted from her as she lunged at Isadora, bowling her over. Her hands gripped her neck and squeezed. Jess watched in shock and delight as flesh melted and oozed in her hands. Muscle dripped away from jawbone, revealing rows of long teeth; the tongue was sizzling sludge. Isadora’s eyeballs blistered then popped. Foul grey smoke streamed out of ears and nostrils as her brain boiled. Soon, all that remained of Isadora’s head was a charred skull with a mocking smile.

The room had erupted into screams. Jess stood and faced the others, her eyes glowed like burning coals. Candles flashed, alighting curtains and furnishings as people tried to escape. The sacred circle was now a ring of flame.

 ~ Magenta Nero

© Copyright 2015 Magenta Nero. All Rights Reserved.

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