To Rule the Earth

When I was a kid I used to love a documentary called Planet of Life. I think it was from the Discovery Channel. I had it on VHS and I would watch it over and over and over again.

From that series, I’d learned that one of vertebrate’s oldest enemies was the long forgotten Anomalocaris. This beast would have been large enough to frighten human swimmers today, as it undulated and flapped through the water and reached out with its stubby claspers. Since it could bite through a trilobite, I’d imagine it could leave a nasty little wound on a swimmer, maybe nip off a toe if it wanted.

I’d also learned that little cells making oxygen and photosynthesis effectively destroyed the world and replaced it with a new one filled with creatures that had mutated to survive in a new toxic atmosphere. To this day, Earth’s original inhabitants are confined to the anaerobic layers of water, soil, mud… and animal bowels.

I discovered that even before that, some of those inhabitants had been absorbed into others… enslaved, or merged over time as over-dependent parasites or symbiotes.

Eventually plants filled the seas and the land, and on land they lead the mutants with them.

And when the corpses of plants burned, nearly all the mutants died.
Later, when the mutants had recovered and grown too big, the plants changed themselves into new forms. Flowers bloomed, deciduous trees replaced conifers and some of the largest of those beasts went extinct.

But the plants had a purpose for many of the survivors. They shaped them into sexual vehicles, into caregivers and vehicles.

Was it a coincidence that the last of those great beasts died as they started to adapted to eating the new forms?

Is it a coincidence that man happens to be a species that responds so well to the nutrition, scent, sight, and flavor of so so many of the new forms?

I read recently that scientists are now working on getting plants to grow in Lunar and Martian soils.


Nightmare Fuel 2017, Day 7

Into the Outside

Breathe.

Breathe.

Run.

Run.

Turn.

Breathe.

Try another door.

Another. Another.

How long have I been trying to escape. How many doors have I opened. Doors within doors.

But windows are doors, too.

Every window is sealed with cement.


Nightmare Fuel 2017, Day 6

She’s Mad Now

That dog of Shelly’s was a real mean bastard. Big German Shepherd, the kind you’d chain up in a scrap yard. There wasn’t a minute in the day that Shelly didn’t baby that monster, giving it treats and attention. And it adored her.

Mean as Hell to anyone else.

When I killed Shelly, it was when I’d caught her coming out of the bathroom, but before she’d made it back to the yard.

Maybe that bastard just hated me, maybe he knew. Who knows what a dog thinks.

After Shelly was gone, I laid back for a bit. Didn’t want to arouse any suspicions. I took care of that mean bastard, best I could. Told everyone how much Shelly had loved that dog so of course, of course I had to take care of him. For Shelly. Poor, poor Shelly.

The dog was almost as good a hunter as I was. Almost.

It was a real big, mean dog. But even dogs go down as easily as a human with a firm crack to the head.

I told everyone the dog had been hit by a car.

I didn’t tell anyone when Shelly and the beast came knocking.

Nightmare Fuel 2017, Day 5

Ghosts of Space

Shortly before the Wood, I’d re-watched the Aliens movies. There was a famous line in there about how our parents told us monsters weren’t real, but in reality there are monsters. Of course, the deeper punchline being that maybe it’s actually our fellow humans that are the real monsters.

When humans had lost the war against the Wood, and had been absorbed, we’d breathed a collective sigh of relief. No more war, no more monsters.

We had lost the war, but won peace and immortality.

But we had forgotten about the ghosts.

And in the Wood, ghosts had an outlet. In the Wood, ghosts had bodies.
I was watching one now, near the water. It had formed from algae and other bits of plant and plant-like pond sludge. I wasn’t sure, but I think it was a woman. It was looking for something, combing through the water with distorted arms and fingers. Reaching, stretching, frantically. It was crying. Looking for a lover? A child? Its thoughts were closed to me, but its intent bled through. Someone important had died here.

A lot of humans had died in the war, but many from suicide and murder, not in the fighting.

Maybe she had drowned her child before the Wood had taken her family.

Before she had known the truth of the Wood.

I moved my consciousness closer.

The ghost’s head jerked up, looked at me. It wailed and tried to run, but its body began to fall apart as I reached out with root and branch.

Come back to us, I urged her. I could sense the bits of her mind falling to the ground, becoming lost. Ghosts barely had anything left to them to begin with, and couldn’t afford to lose any more of themselves. Pieces of her broken mind became open to me as they hit the ground and vanished.

Memories of terror, of being chased. Holding someone small and squirming. Then, holding someone small under the water until that someone stopped moving. Going into the water, then feeling a rough grip around an ankle.

And then she was gone.

Nightmare Fuel 2017, Day 4

I Didn’t Want to See This

The kids were walking to school as usual that morning, being directed by a crossing guard. It was a sunny, hot morning. I had stopped at the light and just idly gazed at them. I wasn’t in a particular hurry to get to work that day.

The kids were walking to school again in the morning. It was a sunny, hot morning again. I was sitting at the light, watching them. I wasn’t in any hurry.

They were skipping a bit as they walked to school this time. It was sunny, but cool morning. I tapped my fingers on the steering wheel as I waited for them to cross.

I couldn’t see the kids, but I could hear them giggling. It was foggy and a touch cool that day. I strained to see them, and didn’t notice immediately when the light changed.

There were shapes in the fog, but they were quiet now. The fog was breaking up. The shadows resolved into deer, herded by a large hulking figure… my hands were shaking as it looked at me.

“Forget you ever saw this,” it muttered. The deer stood waiting in the field. They watched me as I hit the gas.


Nightmare Fuel 2017, Day 2 and Day 3

Into Dust

I don’t know when the dust first came. If things were different there’d probably be an army of scientists working it out… people stringing together incomprehensible data points and painstakingly gluing tiny bits of data to each other. Then would have come the cynics and doubters and deniers. Well, when I think about it that way, maybe everything would be ending up the same anyway. So, in that case, who cares?

But as it really unfolded, as far as I could tell, I was the only one who could see it.

It simply came to be that one day, I noticed something strange. Like when you’re cooking and something starts to burn just a little bit and it takes you a moment to figure out why something in the room looks a little off.

My husband couldn’t see it. There wasn’t anything burning.

I’d had floaters and things before. Things in my eyes. So I was a little worried about that, but not too worried. Not worried enough to get it checked out until a couple days later.

I was getting old, my left retina was starting to detach. Just a little. Nothing to worry about. Not the cause of the haze or the dust. Maybe it would clear up on it’s own, or I’d have to see the other kind of eye doctor. The one that isn’t at the malls. Maybe a neurologist, if it wasn’t that.

I was afraid, so I didn’t go. Silly of me, but I really couldn’t decide if some kind of brain tumor or eye problem was worse. They aren’t really equivalent problems, but the surgeries I would imagine for either and their potential catastrophes were still then too frightening for any calm, logical, rational decision.

In a few weeks, I would have. Once I’d calmed down. In a normal, sane world I would have had that leisure.

The dust didn’t wait that long.

That, too, I didn’t realize right away.

By the time I made an appointment, the death tolls were…

People. Nature. They were getting angrier. More wild.

But it was harder for me to see it.

People, trees, animals, buildings… they began to disappear.

I was the only one who could see it.

Maybe.

Before the end, I was still pretending everything was normal, that it was just my eyes.

I was watching a ferris wheel, the people riding up and down, up and down. I held on to my husband, who was barely there. I could see them, in the baskets. The dust covered everything but for just a moment in the breeze, when they were up high and right before they plunged back down, I could see them realize and begin to scream.


Nightmare Fuel 2017, Day 1

Imaginary

“I really hate it when you yawn like that.”

“I can’t help it.” The ghost whined. “And it’s not yawning, it’s moaning.”

I rolled my eyes and looked back down at my phone. In a few moments I was giggling at some meme of a bird in a towel on Facebook.

“Why don’t you love me anymore?” He whined. “You’re always just putting me down these days. Why can’t we have fun anymore.”

“I already told you Beebles,” I sighed, distracted. “I’m not a little kid anymore.”

“But…”

“No buts!” I set my phone down hard, but carefully. I stared the sheet-covered apparition in the eye. “You know you’re overdue to go. You had a good little stint all these years, pretending to be my imaginary friend… but that’s over now. I’m grown up, I know the truth, and it’s time for you to move on!”

Beebles— God knew what his real name was— just stared at me quietly for a moment. Then, he began to hum the tune to Sesame Street.

I sighed, again, and went back to Facebook. I wondered if he’d been this much of a creeper when he was alive.

Nightmare Fuel 2016, Day 23

No Good Treats Are Cheap

It’s not that I mind the real monsters that show up at the door for Trick or Treating, it’s getting what they want that is hard. Don’t have fresh worms, organs (none of that frozen supermarket stuff), or even blood? Forget about it. You’re gonna get teepee’d.

Except, when a ghost does it, maybe it’s an actual curse. Or with a vampire, maybe your sister starts getting a night-time visitor… that sort of thing.

God, I want people to stop whining about allergy-free treats. Seriously, it’s not hard to pick up a cheap pack of temporary tattoos or cheapo Chinese slinkies or something to hand out. And it certainly isn’t illegal. And no, you don’t gotta hand out crappy bags of raisins or apples or something. You don’t gotta leave your porch light on at all.

There’s a reason why I have so many bruises, and there’s a reason why there are so many missing kids in my town. And no, that locked basement pit, the jaw clamps, the butcher’s apron and the nice knives and saws and mason jars… they weren’t cheap. Ok, ok, the jars were cheap. But it adds up.

So quit your bitchin’.

Nightmare Fuel 2016, Day 22

Can’t Unsee Them

They show that trope in movies where like, you know, the kid can see ghosts and spirits and whatever but the adults see nothing or an animal. You know what I mean. Because kids are pure or spiritual or innocent or something. I sure as fuck don’t know.

What I do know, is that I’m well into my teens and I still see this shit. Sure as fuck I’m not pure, though. And I got clever real fast about keeping my mouth shut.

It’s hard sometimes, let me tell you. I mean, you can imagine some of the shit I see… monsters that do live in the closet, or in the basement or graveyard. It’s hard to keep friends if you get too enthusiastic about trying to stab that thing you see riding their back.

And sometimes you see the most absurd things, things that make you want to cry and laugh at the same time. Just the other day I saw the neighbors’ beat up old pickup truck roll back into their driveway. Looked like they and their friend’s got some of those mountain doves on their hunting trip, a big ol’ pile of them.

For small birds, one of the easiest, laziest ways to eat them is to “breast” them. What you do is, rip the feathers of the breast, enough to get to the skin. Tear the skin back until the breast muscle is good and exposed. Then, you put it on the ground, stand on the head and tail and get your finger under the sternum on both ends and pull upward… it’ll take that whole breast and bone right out along with the wings which you can just cut off at that point. Bam, clean easy meat. People like it because it’s fast, easy and you don’t waste time on the tiny bits of meat on the game birds.

So, imagine when I see these good unknowing Godly folk doing this to their daily quota out in the yard, having a beer and getting the grill going… and about five birds in I see and honest to goodness little angel in there.

And let me tell you something. They don’t die that easy. It was stunned, maybe. Recovering, maybe. Probably not dead.

Well, at least up to the point where they tossed that boney breast on the grill. I’m pretty sure it was dead at that point. I didn’t want to be caught staring, so I didn’t look close to be sure.

Nightmare Fuel 2016, Day 21

Forever

Little Susie loved to play with dolls. Big dolls, little dolls, ceramic dolls, cloth dolls… all sorts of dolls. She was nothing like me when I was little, I liked Trucks and He-man and all that. She was so different from me, and although that made it tough (after all, 31 was a ripe old age to be learning about make-up and braiding hair), I loved her more than anything.

Her favorite doll was a little cloth one, looked like a sack puppet, with little mismatched button eyes. He was just some scraggly thing she saw at a garage sale… probably some other kid’s sewing project that got mixed in with the store bought stuffies. And she loved it, brought it everywhere with her.

I still have it, now that she is gone.

Well, she isn’t really gone.

I hold the doll, I cuddle her and tell her how good she was today. She she looks up at me and smiles with her old baby teeth.

Nightmare Fuel 2016, Day 19