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

Don’t You Wonder…?

Don’t you wonder where they go
The men and women of religions gone
The stark reality is a harsh blow
A cruel chance of birth they’d drawn

In Hell they wait, for you and woe
And even in the end, ultimate truth is not for you or they to know.

Nightmare Fuel 2016, Day 20

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

In Game

“Man these graphics suck!” I whined. Everything was strange and freakishly smooth.

“Dude, it’s all about the game-play.” Jason assured me. “Watch.” He walked his avatar up to one of the NPCs and shanked it. People screamed and ran.

Jason ran his character through the city, avoiding police, stabbing and shooting random people before finally collapsing in a hail of 576 megapixel bullets.

“Ehh, I’m not feeling it.” I said, tossing down the controller. “I hate these sandbox games.”

Meanwhile, the residents of a small town in Italy tried to make sense of a vicious spree of supernatural murders. The press considered it the act of a deranged video gamer who played too much Minecraft and liked Slenderman a little too much. But others, the ones that were there, they wondered.

Nightmare Fuel 2016, Day 18

Monument

The Wood cradled the monument of the Pilot-Savior. The time ship was one of the last remnants of the Old Humanity, preserved in tribute.

The Wood didn’t need to preserve it, just as it didn’t need to tolerate weather. Those were choices. The guts of the machine had long been deciphered and stored to memory and disseminated amongst the trees. Even with the best efforts of preservation, the ship was finally showing its age.

Probably, it could have lasted even longer, but the Wood had since moved on in its thinking and had decided it was time to let the ship itself disappear into history.

Probably, that was for the best. The device was the engine of the Wood’s salvation. But it was also a token of destruction.

Pilot-Savior did not agree. Even now, the ghost of his human self sat in the cockpit, stroked fingers over broken panels and the gaping holes of missing buttons. He felt confused sometimes, but not regretful.

We could do it again, he thought.

Not necessary, too dangerous, whispered the Wood. There were a few dissenters, but most were concerned about the unusual death caused by erasure of their own time-lines. You could be immortal in the Wood, as long as the Wood survived and most humans were loathe to risk their comfort and immortality.

It didn’t matter. Inside the ship there was a very special seed, growing from the Savior himself. The seeds of the Wood would fly into space, but not his. He had other futures to explore.

Nightmare Fuel 2016, Day 17

Assumptions

For days, I thought there was a man staring at me.

I mean, he was clearly there. Lit by headlights in the forest. I couldn’t explain how there was a car there, with no road, but it wasn’t like it took special magic to drive a truck up onto the grass and leaves.

I didn’t bother to call the police once my sister and friends told me I was nuts. They tolerated my fear as a nightmare for a few nights but eventually I was left alone in the house again. Just me, and him.

He never approached, never got closer. Occasionally, the light flickered and I lost sight of him. But he was always there. For days I ignored him, but finally went out to confront him.

He rose as I approached, getting taller and taller— until I realized he wasn’t getting taller. He was floating, raising higher and higher with the light.

He was a pupil in a gigantic, floating eye.

And the trees were teeth, closing in on me.

Nightmare Fuel 2016, Day 16

The Hunt

I think a lot of us don’t think much about the hunt anymore. That it is something primitive. Hunters understand it, of course. But most everyone thinks they are civilized and beyond such things.

Which is silly, of course.

You’ve felt it. The thrill of the hunt. Maybe it came in the form of making a sale. Or when you found that store that would let you stack coupons just so, and you got that laptop for a few hundred off. Hell, even that moment when the vegan finally, finally finds that brand of cheese that melts or tastes just right.

I can hear the sounds of our feet, slapping on the cement. The sound of heavy boots and soft flesh… sometimes dry, sometimes splashing in the puddles.

Most hunts don’t last very long, or rather, they don’t last long when the quarry is in sight and the chase begins. But sometimes they can be long.

I’m panting now, like a beast. My tongue lolls out like a dog’s. The smell of my sweat is whipped away in the wind of my passing. You are close, so very close.

This hunt is ending soon. Ahead, I see no escape.

This is how mankind is meant to live.

I feel your claw-like nails as you push me down into the concrete. I close my eyes as water splashes up into my face.

I smell your fetid breath as your teeth chew out my throat.

I’ve never felt so alive.

Nightmare Fuel 2016, Day 15
A version of this story will appear in the October 2017 issue of Blood Moon Rising Magazine.

New Ground, Old Ground

If Sarah had to guess, she figured she probably hadn’t been human for a couple thousand years. Maybe once or twice for the practice of it, but like most of the rest of humanity, humanity itself had become something of a nuisance after the Merge. In fact, she was pretty sure the last time she’d been human had been to greet the Pilot-Savior when he exited his Time Engine all those hundreds of years ago, when she helped to ensure he would bring the alien seeds back to a time when human resistance would be less troublesome, and bringing with the infants the inherited knowledge of the Lost Purging.

Finally, after untold tens of thousands of years, the alien trees found a home and against all odds had survived and flourished. The original time-line had been erased by the Pilot-Savior and a permanent time-loop kept it active. An amazing and unprecedented coincidence that humans had developed and deployed a time machine at just the right time. The Wood didn’t believe in Fate, but the humanity in the Wood marveled— and wondered.

The hard nut-like shell around her cracked open easily. Sarah had a moment of deja vu… not of her own memories, but of past journeys of the Wood through space. They had landed on thousands of worlds, merged, and threw their seed to the stars again and again.

This time, Sarah had been sent alone. There was an anomaly here. An empty shell where a civilization once roamed. She slipped a few fingers through the crack, tasting the atmosphere. Alien chemistry sent signals, but did not decode into anything dangerous. No radiation or toxic chemicals or attacking organisms burned her senses. She pushed the shell back and stepped out, leaving it behind.

Days of exploration did not reveal much else. Empty, blank walls refused to reveal secrets. Following her orders, she decided to reproduce and sank her tentacle-like roots into the road beneath her.

But from beneath, something reached up— and grabbed.

Nightmare Fuel 2016, Day 14

Closed

It was always tapping. A rap-tap-tapping that I couldn’t ignore. It didn’t matter if I was blasting the TV, wearing headphones, or was even in another room of the apartment.

Rap-tap-tap-tap.

Rap-tap-tap-tap.

There would always be that quiet, cool, stillness in the air. Even the T-Rex in Jurassic Park would freeze, one foot raised I supposed, and cock its head to listen.

A-rap-tap-tap-tap.

A-rap-tap-tap-tap.

I was being summoned. As always. Every year. I paused the movie, wondering why I even bothered playing it at all. I suppose I just thought if I tried hard enough, the noise would stop. Maybe I should try harder.

I stepped into the bedroom and opened the window. “It’s summer, Mikey, you’re fine!”

“Ssss….sss…” the night breeze whispered. “…sssooo… cold…”

I softened a bit. I couldn’t help it. “I know, Mikey, I know. I’m sorry.”

“L-love you…” the air sighed.

“I love you too guy. Hold on a minute.” I went back to the kitchen, grabbed a cold one from the fridge and headed back into the room.

“Here.” I said, carefully pressing the bottle between the gaps in the decorative wire barrier, and balancing the bottle on the edge of the outer sill. I had to be very careful not to let any part of me cross over Mikey’s side of the window unless I fancied some frostbite.

The bottle rattled and slid out into the night. I closed the window, then the curtains, and cried.

Nightmare Fuel 2016, Day 13

Addictive

Janice didn’t know when it first started. Who really remembers the first scab they picked? But Janice was different. Her fingernails were perfectly manicured for the job, not from any special cosmetic attention, but from a simple attention to detail as she chewed and licked at her cuticles. She had the care and attentiveness of a master gardener, a shaper of the human bonsai of her own flesh.

Her slender fingers caressed each bump, each crevice… sniffing, seeking, exploring. When she closed her eyes, she imagined she could even taste with them. Her tongue rolled over imagined platelets and dust. Sorted cells from detritus. Her nail slipped under a crack, slow and shy. Hello, she said. The nail flexed, the crack widened— beautiful and perfect. The mass lifted, cupped in a bowl of keratin and moistened with saliva. More fingers deftly smoothed over the flesh left behind.

Freed from the flesh of her body, she examined it first with one pale eye, then the other. It was the last piece of her nose.

Nightmare Fuel 2016, Day 12