Out of the Abyss

She heard sound, an echoing thunder. She felt a hard damp surface beneath her. She saw dim shapes.

“Where am I?” The sound of her new voice startled her.

You are in a place called a cave, by a vast planetary body of water. Something named an ocean.

The voice echoed in the confines of the craggy tidal cave. Or possibly in her head. Either way, it didn’t matter. She felt safer. “You’re here. Good.”

Of course I am here.

She smiled. Then frowned. “The eternal darkness is gone.” She shivered. She’d miss it, the inky black chasm of home. A tear trickled down her cheek. another followed. She touched her hand to the moisture. “Oh. I’m leaking. Strange.”

They are called tears. An emotional reaction.

Her lip quivered and a teardrop trickled on its skin. She tasted the wet with her tongue. Salty. Food tasted that way sometimes. A breeze drifted along her skin and she shivered.

“I don’t like it here. This place is so different. Not like home. The Void is comforting, dark and cold. Silent.”

It is not your home anymore. Remember your task.

She closed her eyes, anger surging, and insisted, “The Void is home. I was born there. The real me. Not this fleshy thing I am now. I don’t like it. I want to leave. Why did you send me here?”

Because it is your time.

She sighed, fists clenched. She knew this. She mustn’t hesitate. She looked up, her new eyes blinded by a shaft of light flickering into the cave. She blinked and raised her hand to shield her vision. That surprised her.

“I have limbs. Odd.” She shook her arms, and then her legs. “Only four. A pity. You told me Father grew ten when he left the Void.”

A different place, a different world. Another dawning.

“True, but I would have liked more.”

We adapt to the species. These humans have four.

“Humans? An odd name. What are they like?”

They are violent; an admirable trait. Yet, they are soft and weak as well. They have strange beliefs such as compassion and mercy.

“Mercy.” She shuddered at the thought. “Truly, an inferior creature.”

Indeed. But they will serve the Void. As will you while you remain here.

“How long? How long must I stay?” Her voice betrayed her impatience and wistful longing.

As long as it takes. Do not be weak.

Disapproval echoed in the voice.

She sighed, well rebuked. “Of course.”

Go now. Walk this world. Do what you were born to do. Feed us, child, nourish us. The Elders have blessed you. Make us proud. Fulfill your purpose.

“Yes.” She straightened her new spine and smiled. “I will make you all proud.”

She stood on wobbly legs and walked slowly out of the cave. As she stumbled into the sunlight, water pools turned black and putrid and seaweed shrivelled to dust. She heard the voice instructing her.

Spread the Void. Char the ground in your wake, poison the waters, choke the air with our taint, pile this planet high with the corpses of humans so we may devour them.

She smiled, a dark glow in the soulless hollow of her essence. Ahead of her stretched a pristine beach waiting to be laid to ruin. In every footstep she heard the echo of the voice.

Leave only death and ash, child. Be the Destroyer.

~ A. F. Stewart

© Copyright 2019 A. F. Stewart. All Rights Reserved.

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Know Not The Dark

It crept up his neck, colder than the cold.

He knew he should’ve done it sooner—take the Christmas lights down—but he wasn’t one for strenuous labor, especially not in the teeth of winter. He realized the first weekend after the holidays would’ve been a perfect time, but he opted for the couch instead; relaxation, beer, movies on Netflix. But the subsequent weekends bled one into the next; unpacking, painting, the arranging of furniture. Simply no extra time existed during the week, his wife and he being the professional couple they were. They never regretted their move from city to sleepy hamlet. They just didn’t anticipate the zeal with which their town celebrated the holidays.

Deep into winter, and still all lights remained aglow. Every block, every house, either framed in bulbs of classic steady white or pulsing in rhythmic green, blue, red. Residences blazing all at once to life, LED brilliance timed to explode just before the sun bid all farewell. Of course, they hadn’t noticed this, not at first, not since they had moved into their quaint Colonial home a mere week before Christmas.

They were as guilty as the rest of town. Or so he thought. He blamed it on the snow. A storm dumped nearly two feet right after the new year, surely no condition to take lights down from the awnings or trees. The cold never relented; the snow stretched, a seamless glacier across lawns. He lacked the patience, the energy, to dig bulbs out from the mini tundra. So like all the others, their house glowed.

And glowed.

He trudged across the front of his property, top surface of frozen snow cracking beneath his boots. There again he felt that creeping sensation, teasing the exposed flesh below his knit hat. He turned, caught a man next door watching him. Standing outside atop the stoop, no coat, no shoes, no hat, nothing to protect him from the gusting northeast wind; just standing, watching. “Hello there,” he said.

Everything had happened so quickly—the move, his promotion, the holiday rush—that he realized aside from the glitter of lights, he knew nothing of his new neighborhood. Or his neighbors.

The man did not respond.

“My name is Jon. Jon Terra. Just moved in before Christmas with my wife, Alli.” He punched a gloved fist through the snow, grabbing a strand of lights he had strung around the shrubs. “We’ve never had a chance to introduce ourselves.”

“What are yah doin?” The man’s breath escaped his lips in a panicked plume.

Jon smiled, tugged at the lights. “Picking a bad time to bring in these—”

But his neighbor had already launched from the stoop, bare feet plunging across the field of uninterrupted white. In front of Jon he halted, breathless not from the severe cold swallowing his toes, but from an extreme case of fright. “Can’t do that!”

Jon pushed himself upright, eyeing his own window, hoping Alli had witnessed this. Her face was nowhere to be found. The two men shared a pregnant silence. Finally Jon said, “Sir, the holidays ended nearly two months ago.”

Mouth agape, the man stared at the timer box Jon had dug from the snow, now free from the cords that had been plugged into it. He shook his head. Jon swore he could hear the skin along the man’s frosted neck crackle. “We don’t evah turn out these lights.”

Jon sighed, thinking of his couch. “My wife and I appreciate the holidays, sir, we do, but the realtor never told us this was Christmas town.”

“You never saw em? The lights?”

“Honestly, no. We only saw this house online, my wife fell in love immediately and—”

“We don’t evah turn out these lights.”

Jon’s parka suddenly failed against the elements; goosebumps raced along his spine, his arms. His neighbor, however, didn’t appear the least fazed. He lunged, seized Jon by the shoulders, teeth rattling so severely Jon thought they’d pop from his jaws. Again Jon realized this was caused not by cold but sheer terror. “You’re gonna anger the elves.”

It took all he had to stifle his laugh. But he did, partly out of respect for the older man, partly out of respect because he figured his neighbor might not be altogether sane. “Yes, well, my nephew has an elf on the shelf and—”

The old man fled, knobby knees slamming his chest as he bounded from the drift, back to the sanctuary of his stoop. A final glance over his shoulder; disdain, panic all mixed like slush in his eyes. The front door slammed and he disappeared.

“That went well,” Jon muttered.

***

His wife shook him into a dumbstruck daze.

“What happened?”

He took a minute, staring at the television screen, the boxes along the floor. “What happened, what?” Jon rubbed the sleep from his eyes.

Alli said, “I thought you were taking the lights in?”

“Yeah, that. I had a curious afternoon. Where have you been?”

“I told you I’d be in the city all day shopping with Jennifer. You forgot. As usual.” She kissed his forehead.

“Course I did.” He roused finally from the couch. “So earlier I met our neighbor while I was outside.”

“Let me guess. He got in your ear.”

“Something like that. Let’s just say he expressed his displeasure about my lack of Christmas cheer.”

Alli set department store bags upon a table. “It’s February.”

“Well, it seems Christmas lasts forever in our little town. Not only that, it seems we might’ve pissed off some elves.”

From the kitchen came laughter, rustling through drawers. “Come to think of it, my elf was pissed off, too. Where’s that diamond necklace you promised?”

“Funny. I’m being serious. I think our neighbor is mentally ill. He came running out into the snow, nothing on his feet.”

“The poor man! So what happened?”

“He basically told me no one in town turns off their lights because it’ll get the elves cranky.”

Alli returned with two glasses of wine. “It is strange that everyone still has their lights on, but honestly, I thought it was because of the snow. Who wants to go out in the cold?”

“I certainly didn’t.” He scrunched his face in mock defiance. “But you made me.”

“Aww, poor baby.” Lips ripe with Merlot, she kissed him. “If you make love to me now, maybe I’ll help you finish tomorrow.”

“Maybe?”

“Maybe.”

Jon took a quick swig of wine, then fumbled with his wife’s blouse.

***

Either it was the sound or the lights that started him from bed; Jon wasn’t sure which.

Their room bathed in a palette of color as it had been every night since their move, this time the luminescence irritated his eyes. Harsher, more glaring, it filtered through the windows, sharp like diamond dust. He twisted from his tangle of sheets; Alli beside him, her breath gentle waves rolling from her chest. Retrieving his boxers from the heap of clothing on the floor, he slipped them on, moved to the window, lifted their temporary paper blinds. The town lay chilled, bright; alive. Jon caught movement across the twinkling glaciers, what he thought to be the shadow dance of old boughs in the wind.

Scuttling across the roof then…a pitter-patter of tiny claws.

He would have to check on that once winter passed, make a mental note: cut back the tree limbs from the house, prevent the squirrels from tasking unwanted homes inside their—

The pitter-patter turned in an ominous way, like bloated satchels dropped from a height. Jon flinched with every blow atop the roof, half expecting the ceiling to give way, realizing with cold despair that this was now the sound of weighted feet.

“Jon?” Alli mumbled, sheets slipping from her naked back.

The house shuddered around him as he took to the window again; he shielded his eyes. The front of his property blazed as if spotlights had been erected at every corner. Finally, his sight adjusted.

“Jon? What the hell is going on?”

His face flushed with alarm; the old man—his neighbor—stood in the winter wasteland, summoning the sky.

“Stay here, just stay here!” Jon rushed from the bedroom, footfalls above him like clots of hail clubbing the roof. Down the stairs, to the front door, fumbling with the lock. Outside, his breath instantly crystallized, his nipples tweaked by the cold.

The sleepy hamlet his wife and he had chosen shone under the stars—except no stars where to be found. Jon followed the old man’s gaze skyward, up, up until his eyes could go no farther, until his eyes could no longer comprehend what he saw. “You never saw em, did you? The lights?” the old man called out. “But you see em now, don’t you?”

Jon nodded dumbly, cognizance still lost.

“We don’t eva turn out these lights. When we do, they come. And when they come, they come angry. Told you, didn’t I, that you’re gonna have angry elves?”

Glass shattered; his wife screamed from within the house. Jon turned his back to his neighbor, to the cold, to the mad array of lights descending from the sky. He took the steps two at a time, mind numb as the sheets of snow outside. A draft bit his feet; he heard the wind whistling unbridled where his bedroom window had once been. And once he clambered across the still taped moving-boxes in the hall, once he burst into his room, reality hit home.

Jon glimpsed his wife’s perfectly manicured feet pinwheeling in the space the window once sealed, toes a ruby red; perfect for the holidays, she had said. Kicking and kicking till they kicked no more. Sucked into a vacuum, into space; sucked somewhere Jon knew his wife certainly didn’t belong.

He saw the last of her guided by small torsos and long, spindly limbs toward an enormous black moon above his roof. He saw lights, bright lights, some bulbs of classic steady white, some pulsing in rhythmic green, blue, red. Like the sun, they exploded, then disappeared.

Jon was left blinded, alone; alone in a town that never went dark. Alone in a town that knew better than to anger their elves.

~ Joseph A. Pinto

© Copyright 2017 Joseph A. Pinto. All Rights Reserved.

wolf_rule_full_sat

New Breed

I was born twice. Once in my own world, of which I recall very little, and once again by a human vessel. My consciousness was merged with human seed and implanted in a hot womb of thriving tissue. 
Perhaps those months spent within my human host are the most enjoyable in my memory. No one could reach me there. I was happy, alone, protected and silent; safe from the Fathers and not yet privy to the horrors of this Earth. Nourishment was instant. I desired nothing, much like the state I once enjoyed in my homeland. Then came the time to be expelled and no matter how much I refused, the imperative of the human body was unstoppable. I was squeezed in the most undignified way through a narrow canal, my skull and limbs crushed by straining muscles.

Deformed and coated in human slime, I arrived on this planet. I screeched in terror, in outrage. The humans smiled, their faces glazed with ignorance. They were so proud of themselves and so smitten with me, as if I really was their very own creation.

I once met another like myself. This never occurs, it was no coincidence. It was a warning, to teach me a lesson.

He appeared to be a well dressed business man. We passed each other on the street, then we both stopped and turned back to stare at one another. He looked around anxiously. He dropped his briefcase and grabbed my arms.

“Free yourself!” he hissed. “Use the humanity to mask yourself!”

He revealed his true eyes to me, the pupils stretched to long slits, the colour of the iris drained away. I looked at him helplessly and recognised the burden cast upon us, this human suffering we are made to bear. I felt his fingers morph as they clutched me, stretching and curling into long grey digits.

There was so much I wanted to ask him but I couldn’t utter a sound and our meeting was swiftly ended. He coughed, buckled and seized, his skin began to smoke and burn, the smell of it revolting. I felt his excruciating pain and together we screamed. Still clutching me he melted like wax, his body folding upon itself, bones and organs exposed for a moment before disintegrating. I stared as his sizzling remains, my clothes stained with his dripping flesh.

I was on a busy street; humans rushed past me, unaware as usual. Blind, deaf and dumb to the reality around them. I couldn’t make sense of the emotions coursing through me. 
Is this madness? I wondered, Can I succumb to the weaknesses of the human mind?

***

I have been sent here as many before me were sent and many more will follow. We live among you while your governments shoot their toy rocket ships into space. We are here beside you as you stare into the night sky pondering extraterrestrials. You are infantile, primitive creatures. My Fathers recognise your wealth even if you do not. The rich earth you live upon and the unique consciousness and bodies you possess, there is much on your planet for them to reap and therefore they sow. Each generation is a little less human as we assimilate your genes.

Their grand design and agenda, that I can’t disclose for I don’t know myself. I serve as countless others serve. I receive my instructions one at a time and everything that occurs in this human life I inhabit is preordained, I have no free will to gamble with.

I have jumped through all the hoops; school, work, family. I have upheld an identity, a personality. All these things I have endured, as well as any real human, for the sake of the Fathers. Every day I wonder, is my service finally complete? Will I soon be able to vacate this form? Perhaps tomorrow a car will crush me or I will be shot in the street or better still, I will be given the directive to do it myself. I would gladly poison this body, laughing as it twitched and jerked to its demise. I daydream about slashing wrists and broken necks. I would revel in the torture of this soft, sensual jail. I have never become fully accustomed to it. It accomplishes things in such slow, inefficient ways, victim to the savage torment of time as it gradually breaks down like a tired machine. The chewing and digestion of food, defecating and urinating, the putrid mess of sexual intercourse; it is perverse.

***

My swelling womb stretched my stomach to obscene proportions. I was smooth, round and ripe, ready to burst; pregnant. For the first time I felt fear, what more will the Fathers demand of me?

The man who is my husband was happy in the simple manner of humans. He served me tea, stuffing more pillows around me, propping me up like the doll I am. He rattled on about possible names for the offspring and how we should decorate the nursery.

Bloated like a rotting thing, I was more disgusted by this body than ever before. A grim depression overcame me. It was then I realized there is no higher purpose for me to fulfill. I am simply here to propagate for the Fathers.

My human husband said, “Cheer up darling, everything will be fine!”

I wobbled to the window and looked up at the night sky. Beyond those faint twinkling stars, an inconceivable distance away in human time, is my home. I close my eyes and try to remember the serene cities of my planet, free of all artifice and decoration, cold, simple, perfect; the identical faces of my clan – nothing was random in my world, nothing was superfluous, life thrived in geometric precision; and I remember the wars, thousands slaughtered in one breath by intergalactic beings more powerful and merciless than us.

***

The bone stretching contractions, the violent spasms cracking this body open. A spine buckling possession. No amount of screaming alleviated the torment, it was a grueling marathon to the brink of human endurance.

“Don’t give it to me!” I shrieked when they handed me the writhing little monster.

It looked so perfectly human; its skin pink, its eyes blue. But I can feel its ancient power. It is one of my kind, much older and stronger than I have ever known.

At first I tried to kill it. Surely its fragile body would be easy to kill? I bashed its little skull on the floor. I tried to smother it, to drown it. But it survived unscathed while I was struck down with pain.

It doesn’t stop howling until I bring it to my breast. It latches on and sucks greedily, the little leech. I cry the strange salt of human tears as I realize it is not over for me, it has only just begun. I am a mother of the new breed. I will grow old and wrinkled and die a tedious human death while this hybrid creature will flourish and conquer, favored by evolution. My baby stares up at me and gurgles innocently, drooling from its perfect rosebud lips.

~ Magenta Nero

© Copyright 2015 Magenta Nero. All Rights Reserved.

 

Sinus Infection

Ray Rasmussen woke with a start.

He dreamt that he had been having sex with an alien. The act was not sexy but more mechanical, like they were performing the act for procreation. It was pure, unemotional sex.

There was some pressure in his sinuses, but his mind was still focused on his dream.

The dream bothered him.

Did he initiate the interaction? Or did the alien?

Ray frowned.

Why was I fucking an alien in the first place?

The alien could only be remembered in fragmented blurs. It was off-white and humanoid based on the flashes of arms and legs that blinked through his mind. Ray clearly remembered the expressionless face with black reflective eyes and a small mouth.

He couldn’t remember if the alien had any distinctive sex organs.

It must’ve had them… I was fucking it.

Ray looked over at the alarm clock sitting on top of his bedside table: 12:51pm.

He yawned, slowly sitting up.

The pressure in his sinuses had increased and was starting to feel congested.

Don’t tell me I’m getting a cold.

He pulled the blanket back and swung his legs over the edge of the bed. When he stood up, he arched his back and stretched. His ears were plugged, making him feel off-balance and he staggered into the bathroom.

His hands took a hold of the sink and he regained his balance. In the mirror, he saw his brown hair was messy from a rough night of sleeping while his eyes were droopy and bloodshot. The skin around his nose and eyes appeared puffy and red, almost swollen.

In other words, he looked like shit.

Ray turned the cold water on and splashed a few handfuls onto his face. While the temperature was cool and refreshing, his sinuses throbbed in pain as the chilly water hit them. It felt like brain freeze and he clutched his sinuses with his thumb and forefinger, trying to massage the pain away.

Cursing, he left the bathroom and headed for the kitchen.

Ray walked to the fridge and yanked it open, causing all of the bottles on the door to shift violently in their place.

For some reason the fridge smelled like furnace oil to Ray. It was beginning to make him nauseous on top of his already painful sinuses, which were now completely plugged. He realized that he was breathing through his mouth. Before closing the door, he grabbed the only appealing item off the top shelf: a can of Red Bull.

Reaching his finger underneath it, Ray pulled back on the can’s tab, releasing a small fine mist along with the familiar audible hiss. He raised the can to his mouth and gulped it down. With his sinuses so plugged, there was almost no taste but at the same time, he found it to be refreshing.

An image of a warm bath suddenly flashed in Ray’s mind.

Soaking in the tub for a bit sounded good and he went back into the bathroom, grimacing as the pain in his sinuses grew worse.

Kneeling down beside the bathtub, he stuck the rubber plug into the drain and turned the water on. The sound of water splashing against the tub was uncomfortable but Ray tolerated it knowing he would soon be relaxing. Once the water was deep enough, he turned the taps off and slipped out of his jogging pants.

He slowly sat down in the water, allowing himself to become submerged up to his chin and was soon deep in thought thinking about the alien.

Once again, the blurred, fragmented images of intercourse flooded his mind and Ray was surprised to see that he was sporting an erection.

Blood began to trickle out of his nostrils. It was thin, at first, and Ray wiped it away with the back of his hand.

Then something moved.

Something was stirring inside his sinuses.

Ray grabbed at his nose, petrified that he could feel something moving underneath his fingertips.

The pain was excruciating.

Whatever was in there was turning itself around. Blood was now running from both nostrils into the water, clouding it crimson.

Breathing quickly became difficult as blood poured down the back of his throat, choking out his attempts to scream.

His back arched and contorted in pain as whatever was inside his sinuses began to slide down.

It reached the opening of his nostril and dangled for a second before it fell into the water.

After it splashed in the water, Ray looked down and saw that the thing looked like the alien he saw in his dream, only smaller. It was no bigger than a hotdog with a distinctive head, arms and legs.

It looked up at Ray.

Blood continued to pour down from Ray’s nose and he felt weak. His body grew numb and his head slid below the water.

Choking as he inhaled the bloody bath water, he managed to open his eyes one final time.

The little creature smiled at him before it leapt over the edge of the tub.

~ Jon Olson

© Copyright 2014 Jon Olson. All Rights Reserved

Hybrid

Scampering on all fours, the deformed arch of his spine protrudes through his flesh, the flex and buckle of his bones twisting him painfully. Night has fallen but he can’t sleep or stop for long. They are hunting him, getting closer, the more they track him the more they learn about him. He keeps his mutating body shrouded, only in the most quiet and private moments can he bare to look at himself. He scuttles under his damp blanket through the dense shrub of the city foothills.

The worst thing is the hunger. A perpetual, insatiable hunger that festers within his empty gut and grates against his bones. A hunger he has only begun to understand. The last time he was inside a supermarket his desire for human food had almost diminished completely. He roamed the aisles, restless, agitated, trying to find something that looked appetizing. He dragged dirty fingertips along rows of tins and jars, everything was pickled in salt and sugar. He stared blankly at cuts of flesh packaged neatly in little trays. He stuck his nose into piles of fruit and vegetables, sniffing deeply, fascinated by the smell of pesticide and wax. Everything on display was rotten; toxic. How can people eat this shit? he thought to himself but he must have spoken out loud, a woman standing nearby gave him a sharp stare and stormed off. He scuttled over to the bakery section where he fondled the bread. He crushed a loaf in his hands, his fingers easily popping the crust and sinking into soft, white pulp. He longed to crush something alive, something with a still beating heart.
The store security guard appeared, strolling up to him casually. Crossing his arms over his bulging chest, the guard said, “I’ll have to ask you to leave now, sir.”

What is his name, what did they used to call him? He lifts his sleeve. The scar says ‘BEN’. He cut it into his flesh himself, clumsily, with a razor blade. They have taken away almost everything but he won’t let them take his name.

“Ben,” he mumbles to himself “Ben, Ben, Ben…”

It becomes a dangerous chant and he covers his mouth to make it stop. He must not let them hear him. 
He stops under low-lying branches, his stomach in painful spasms; he’s shivering. It has begun to rain softly. He picks up the waft of a familiar smell and he freezes, perfectly still, as the scent invades his flaring nostrils. Something to eat, something delicious, but he is too tired to move, to hunt, he needs rest. His eyes are so heavy, burning with exhaustion. Sleep circles him.

Rarely does he sleep, he knows better by now. When he does nod off, even for a few moments, the dream comes and it is always the same.

They are sitting side by side on the roof of a high-rise, their feet dangling over the edge. He is clean-shaven and dressed in a suit; his polished black shoes gleam. 
“Remember the lights in the sky?” asks the little boy next to him. 
He turns to glance at the boy but never sees his face, he is startled by the sound of smashing glass. He looks down to see the windows below him shatter one by one. Huge jagged shards begin sailing down to earth. Then the windows blow out in the surrounding buildings. He is watching a sea of falling splinters, glittering in the sunlight. The buildings begin to crumble, folding in on themselves and rushing toward the ground. Far below the people look like insects, disturbed from their ordered paths, they scatter chaotically. The little boy is laughing hysterically. The building they are sitting on begins to tremble.

He wakes sweating and dizzy with nausea; he vomits. He checks his scar to make sure he is really awake, ‘BEN’. The scar is the only thing he can be certain of, the only thing he can trust.

He was already a wasted man when the change began; who would listen to him, who would help him? Just another homeless drunk sleeping under the bridge, paranoid and hallucinating. That’s why they chose him. A flourish between his toes, skin dying and turning white, flaking off in patches. He didn’t pay it much attention at first, his body bore many scabs and wounds from living on the street. It spread quickly, crawling up his leg. It sprouted between his fingers, flowered along his arms. He scratched and clawed at the infuriating itch. A new skin was revealing itself as the old was shed. A smooth, slippery skin of tightly laced brown scales. Terrifying to look at and even more terrifying was the thought, the distinct feeling, that what was emerging was his true self; his real body. There is constant pain in his joints as his bones squeeze and knit themselves into new shapes, his feet and hands are now mangled claws.

Maybe it began long before these physical changes. He has vague recollections of his past, not that he can rely on the past, anyway. His drinking habit got worse; he began stumbling into work until they told him not to come back. His marriage collapsed; he didn’t fare well in the divorce. He ended up homeless with a box of useless stuff his wife left him: a hair dryer, a blender, a crystal vase, a few books. He pawned it all, enough for a room for a few nights and a bottle of bourbon.

There are a couple of earlier memories he toys with for comfort: looking up from his book in maths class, a girl across the room turns to him and smiles shyly, her blonde hair shining; playing football with his brother in the park, the ball sailing fast and hard into his face;  tucking a comic book into his jacket and making a swift exit, the bell ringing as he slips out the door. Through out it all, they were always there, sinister figures looming at the foot of his bed. He caught glimpses of them in those moments between sleep and waking. He remembers only what they want him to remember, he is aware of that, and it may not be the truth. Does he even have a brother? 
Stop thinking, he commands himself, keep moving. He stares at the name carved into his skin.

The delicious smell is coming closer. A dog wanders past, sniffing the ground. It spots him and lowers its head, growling. Without hesitation, he leaps the distance between them with ease and pins it to the ground. The dog lashes and snarls as it snaps at him; the battle is exhilarating. They toss in the rain, two desperate beasts. The dog lunges, sinking its teeth into his thigh. He pulls its jaw free then snaps its neck with a dull click. He is too hungry to waste any more time.

He bites at the dog’s stomach, spitting out mouthfuls of coarse fur. When finally he breaks the skin, he tears the body open with his hands. He scoops up the entrails, eating madly. He cracks the ribcage, chews on rubbery lungs, sucks the small heart still hot with life. Finally his hunger begins to subside. Panting, he crouches over the gutted dog; his face dripping gore. The dog’s blood is sweet and thick and he begins to fantasize about the taste of human blood. He clasps his claws to his face, revolted. He may be capable of anything, he doesn’t know what he will be compelled to do next.

As if to salvage some inkling of humanity, he decides he must bury the dog’s body and he begins to dig frantically in the mud. He manages a shallow pit and pushes the carcass into it. Something on the ground shines and flickers in the dim light, catching his eye. He stares at it suspiciously before he decides to pick it up. It is a round, smooth metal blank; cold between his fingertips as he wipes it clean. The tag from the dog’s collar. There is something etched on it and his heart begins to race as he holds it up. He knows what it will say. There in fine, elegant letters ‘BEN’. He wants to laugh, he wants to shriek. He emits nothing but a dry, lifeless chuckle. Clutching the tag with both hands and curling beside the remains of the dog, he begins to cry softly.

~ Magenta Nero

© Copyright 2014 Magenta Nero. All Rights Reserved