Nightmare Fuel — The Bunny Man

Hello Addicts,

This week’s Nightmare Fuel comes courtesy of one of my sons.  Let’s take a look at The Bunny Man or The Clifton Bunny Man.

Our story begins with an asylum, which predated the town of Clifton, VA, that was petitioned to relocate. The reason given was that they didn’t feel comfortable living so close to the inmates stored there. During the process of moving the patients to a different facility, they bus transporting them overturned and most of the prisoners escaped. All but two were quickly recaptured. Marcus A. Wallster and Douglas J. Grifton evaded police for four months, leaving half eaten and dismembered rabbit carcasses in random spots. Eventually, they found the body of Wallster holding a handmade weapon that looked to be a cross between a hatchet and a dagger. The press and townspeople dubbed him the Bunny Man, although the name changed ownership to Grifton after the body of more rabbits were discovered. After three more months of not finding any other signs of the final escaped prisoner, the police called off the search for him. They figured he had either already left the area or died. Life went on.

Around Halloween, rabbit carcasses were discovered in the area around the Fairfax Station Bridge. On Halloween Night, a group of teenagers were drinking and having a good time on the bridge, but terror struck the only three remaining on the bridge at midnight. According to the legend, a bright light erupted from the portion of the bridge where the kids were. Within seconds, the teens were hung by their necks off the sides of the bridge with their throats slit and slashes running up their middles. It was determined that the weapon was similar to the one found with Marcus Wallster’s body months prior. These murders became an annual thing as defiant teenagers tempted fate at the Bunny Man Bridge.  Always on Halloween, and always foreshadowed by the bunny body parts, now renamed Bunny Man Bridge.

Fast forward to 1987, and a group of teens are hanging around the bridge, pulling pranks to scare each other and eating candy stolen from other Trick-or-Treaters. At midnight, one member of the group attempts to leave, not wanting to tempt the fate of the Bunny Man. Her body is halfway off the bridge when things brighten and the skin on her chest begins to slice open. There is nothing physically touching her to cause this, so she doubles her efforts to escape, which she does. In the process, the woman collides with one of the hanging bodies and she is rendered unconscious. When she wakes up, her hair has turned bright white and she has been bleeding. The woman spends the rest of her days sitting on a swinging bench on her balcony, just staring in the direction of the bridge without ever going near it.

As with any urban legend of the like, there is little evidence proving that these events, let alone all of the murders occurred. It is possible that this is a story told by parents to keep their children away from the Bunny Man Bridge. However, there may also be a nugget of truth to the story as well. In 1970, two incidents occurred within a week of each other in Burke, VA. According to police reports, people were chased off what he called his property. He held an ax in his hands and was described to possibly be wearing a bunny costume, or something resembling one. In each case, the man was never found, and there have been no similar incidents in the police records since.

Whether the stories are true or not, they do make for interesting nightmares and horror stories.

Until next time, Addicts…

D.J. Pitsiladis

HorrorAddicts.net, 145 #NGHW Guest Judges: David Watson and Dario Ciriello

Horror Addicts Episode# 145
SEASON 12 – The Next Great Horror Writer Contest

JUDGES:

Horror Hostess: Emerian Rich

Judge: H.E. Roulo

Guest Judge: David Watson, Dario Ciriello

Intro Music by: Valentine Wolfe

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The top 9 / Campfire Tales

Find all articles and interviews at: http://www.horroraddicts.net

80 Days till Halloween

Scary lantern woods ghost, scary guy in the woods, super tall shadow creatures? Fear draws things?

Intro of judges, prizes, and contest.

Portions of 9 tales

Contestants: Feind Gottes, Naching T. Kassa, Jess Landry, Sumiko Saulson, Cat Voleur, Jonathan Fortin, Adele Marie Park, JC Martinez, Harry Husbands, Daphne Strasert.

HA.Net News: Campfire Man

*Daphne Full Blog from “Character” challenge

*#NGHW News by Adelise M. Cullens

*By the Fire by David Waston
*Jesse Orr’s new installment of The Scarlett Dahlia

*Kbatz reviews: Teen Horrors: The Blackcoat’s Daughter, The Boy, Lights Out, Prom Night.

*David interviews author Lily Luchesi

*Free Fiction by R. B. Wood “Emerald Eyes”

* Sub call: Crescendo of Darkness

*David’s Haunted Library features Ugly Little Things by Todd Keisling & Behold! Oddities, Curiosities, and Undefinable Wonders by Doug Murano

*PR: Whispered Echoes By Paul F. Olson

*PR: Nightmare films presents Hotel Camarillo

*PR: Juno-Reactor & The Mutant Theatre

Find all this and more at HorrorAddicts.net

Contestant bedtime scary stories answers

Dead Mail:

Jeff: Love the show and George Romero.

Judges deliberate.

Next challenge announced.

Winner announced.

 

“Broken Pieces” by Valentine Wolfe

http://valentinewolfe.bandcamp.com/track/broken-pieces

HorrorAddicts.net blog Kindle syndicated

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———————–

Write in re: ideas, questions, opinions, horror cartoons, favorite movies, etc…

horroraddicts@gmail.com

————————

h o s t e s s

Emerian Rich

s t a f f

David Watson, Stacy Rich, Dan Shaurette, KBatz (Kristin Battestella), Mimielle, D.J. Pitsiladis, Jesse Orr, Crystal Connor, Lisa Vasquez, Adelise M. Cullens, Kenzie Kordic.

Want to be a part of the HA staff? Email horroraddicts@gmail.com

b l o g  / c o n t a c t / s h o w . n o t e s

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David’s Haunted Library: Two from Crystal Lake Publishing

Ugly Little Things: Collected Horrors by Todd Keisling is a collection of stories that explore what happens when people are pushed to their limits.The first story called A Man In Your Garden sets up the anthology perfectly. It’s about a man who believes a stranger is standing on his lawn. The man is scared but is there, someone, really out there or does he have an overactive imagination. I love how this story shows that sometimes we are our worst enemy.

Another good story here is Saving Granny From The Devil, this is a coming of age story where a young kid name Todd gets help from the devil. Flash forward a few years and the devil is coming for Todd’s Granny and Todd makes a deal to save her. The problem is that while Todd’s heart is in the right place, he may have made the wrong decision. We then see how his actions affected his life and his Granny’s. What I like about this story is the idea presented that love lasts forever and maybe the devil isn’t such a bad guy. Todd Keisling shows that he has a gift for creating deep characters that you can’t help but care for even when they do wrong.

My favorite story in this collection is When Karen Met Her Mountain. Karen comes from a religious father who recently died and not too long ago she had a miscarriage that she hasn’t mentally recovered from. Tragedy strikes when a religious cult shows up and kidnaps her husband. The Cult is messing with the wrong woman and Karen is going to make them pay.  I liked how you see Karen’s personality change as she hunts down her victims and then towards the end we find out that her therapist believed something like this would happen if the wrong trigger was pulled. The ending of this one really surprised me, this is a woman pushed to the edge and comes out stronger and more vicious.

The last story in the collection is a novella called The Final Reconciliation. It’s about a progressive rock band called The Yellow Kings, four kids with big dreams set out on their first tour. Little did they know that their first album would only be heard once and would cause the death of nearly 200 people. This story is a twist on an old mythology and a story of four kids achieving their dreams and worst nightmares at the same time.This is another coming of age story as the kids are working to leave the rough backgrounds that they come from.

Ugly Little Things is a book about the human spirit but the human spirit doesn’t always triumph. Even when you get what you want there is a dark side to it and that’s what Ugly Little Things is about. This is a book that’s shocking and disturbing but most of all it’s a look at what happens to people when they can’t handle the horror of life.

We’re all fascinated by things that are strange, odd and just plain different. Behold! Oddities, Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders edited by Doug Murano is an anthology that embraces weirdness. When you start reading this book you know to expect the unexpected from the first story. In Larue’s Dime Museum by Lisa Morton. The story follows a woman who is obsessed with the past and finds two photos that transport her back in time. I loved how this story opens leading you to believe it’s about a circus style sideshow. Then you start to realize it’s really about a photographer and a woman who wishes to be in another time. I loved the descriptions of the setting and hearing about the woman’s daily routine and how she sees the world around her.

Another good story in this anthology is Chivalry by Neil Gaiman. In this story, an old woman finds the holy grail in a second-hand store and before long Galaad comes on a quest to bring the grail to King Arthur’s Knights Of The Round Table. The woman does not want to give it up. Galaad keeps coming back with extravagant gifts and finally offers three gifts to the woman and the woman accepts two in exchange for the chalice but the one she rejects is a huge surprise in the story. I love how the woman rejects the gift and her reaction after Galaad leaves her. At this point you are left to wonder is she crying because she liked the attention from Galaad or is it because she really wanted the third gift. This story is a must read.

Another good one is the Wildflower, Cactus Rose by Brian Kirk. This is a completely original story about a woman who goes in for surgery to take care of a sleep apnea problem. She comes out mutilated and thinks her life is over. Her new gifts seem to change her life though as she finds it easier to do the right thing.  There is a good message in this story about how the way you look doesn’t affect the life you choose. In reality, it’s our attitude that either draws people to us or pushes them away. The world is a mirror, you see what you want to see.

This book is full of great stories and one of the best is Clive Barker’s Jacqueline Ess: Her Will and Testament. This is an odd story about a woman who almost dies due to a suicide attempt. She then discovers she can make men do anything she wants and kill people with a simple thought. This one is fascinating because it is told from two perspectives and there is a bizarre love story involved. This tale can be described as a journey as you watch Jacqueline change as she understands her power and you watch the men around her change as they figure out what she can do.  Behold! Oddities, Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders is a speculative fiction anthology that is a must read.

http://www.crystallakepub.com/

 

FRIGHTENING FLIX BY KBATZ: TEEN HORRORS

 

 

Summer Teen Horrors

by Kristin Battestella

 

Prom, dolls, murder, and monsters – will teens never learn?

 

The Blackcoat’s Daughter Haunting melodies, terrible news, and subtitles like “silence” and “eerie ambiance” open this chiller from director Oz Perkins (I am the Pretty Thing that Lives in the House) along with suggestive lion and lamb lyrics, crosses on the wall, priestly substitutes, and father figure innuendo. Rather than emo angst, the bad girl pregnancy scares and awkward acting out are handled maturely, with a Picnic at Hanging Rock weirdness. Dark filming against bleak windows or open doors makes us unsure what side we are on, capturing the dreary mundane as two girls are stuck at school during winter break. The intertwining build of events may be slow to some, but each act follows one girl in distorted, compelling vignettes. Common bathroom echoes and creaking doors add to the spooky orange boiler room and what we think we saw contortions while change for the pay phone, maps, bus stops, and red tail lights create helplessness and traveling dangers. And you know, parents saying a teen can’t have one has to be the best excuse yet for a lack of cell phones. Who stole the laptop? Do you trust the stranger offering a ride? Is being happy an ulterior motive or will the god-believing good Samaritan find it is the devil that answers instead? These young ladies are filmed not for titillation as in slasher T-n-A horror but with a sense of innocence and fragility. Rather than in your face mayhem, suspect conversations, sinister changes, and non-linear storytelling give the audience intriguing pieces of creepy doubt. Is a crazy student after the headmaster’s attention or is that really a reflection of horns and a shadowy devil in the frame? The surreal atmosphere makes viewers peer deeper at the screen, wondering if the devil, possessions, or unreliable impressions are playing tricks on us. Editing splices match the bloody stabbings, with nonchalant mentions of forensics having to find which head matches which body. Static, distorted voices, and vibrating sound invoke more unease amid an isolating, hoodwinked power of suggestion. The audience sees the reaction on a police officer’s face rather than the terrible shocks he witnesses – doing the worst horrors imagined with a subtle reveal instead of pulling the rug out from under the viewer and calling it a twist. Although spoon fed audiences may want answers immediately instead of open to interpretation confusion and arty pretentiousness – Perkins may need an outside eye on his writing and directing to clarify this pizzazz for the masses – once you wrap your head around it, this is a straightforward story taking its time with a unique mood and special characters for full gruesome effect.

The Boy – Eccentric British parents hire a babysitter for their son – who just happens to be a doll – in this 2016 bizzarity. There’s padding opening credits driving the young American woman in a foreign country to the kid horrors, because of course, and there’s a no wif-fi, no neighbors phone call to her sister about a nasty ex, too. Fake boo moments, dream shocks, and phantom phone calls are unnecessary, as is the psychic grocery delivery man who reads gum and guesses wrong. I kid you not. The introduction to the little doll – err son is laughable as well, but our nanny must play along with the well paying delusion and make sure he sits up straight during their poetry lessons. Creepy portraits, strange noises, prayers, thunderstorms, and taxidermy create an eerie atmosphere for this warped hook while a great Canadian castle stands in for the cluttered English estate. Old toys, phonographs, candles, windows painted shut, and traps to keep rats out of the walls add to the freaky doll moments, but our babysitter waits until the doll uncovers itself and the stereo-typically locked attic doors open by themselves before following the house rules. She also never bothers to explore or investigate, but there’s an obligatory local who knows the dead little girl past and eight year old died in a fire back story – tossing in cliché details along with lost pregnancies, love triangles, and taking a shower trite. If you’re going to go into the ominous attic in nothing but a towel or have a doll listening to the sex in the next room, then don’t be a soft PG-13 but embrace that winking R. The eponymous frights should be stronger, and although we smartly don’t see any silly doll moving effects, the traditional filming style doesn’t do justice to the oddity. Rather than embracing the bizarre bonding afoot, the standard horror formulaic wastes too much time – this unusual premise could really shine if the flip flopping world rules didn’t detract from the aloof charm. A WTF siege veers the finale into something more preposterous, calling it a twist while holding back as late night horror lite for people who haven’t already seen any similar scary movies.

Lights Out This 2016 feature adaptation of the popular 2013 short is still a little short itself at eighty minutes and keeps restarting with a working dad on skype, mom talking to herself, a little brother not sleeping, and a bad attitude big sister with a sensitive rocker boyfriend. Fortunately, employees locking up for the night lead to crackling electricity and shadows that blink closer with each flick of the light switch. What would you do if you turned out the lights and saw a silhouette that isn’t there when the lights are on? We know something is in the dark, but not what, and the old school light means safety rule works amid the almost GIF-like now you see it now you don’t. Ominous tracking shots, red spotlights, neon signs flashing, and black lights create enough mood without unnecessary transition pans, bones cracking, and scratching sounds. A young boy with spooky afoot and a mother who may or may not be crazy are more interesting than time wasting millennial emo, and Maria Bello (A History of Violence) as the unstable wife dealing with shadows real or imagined a la The Babadook should have been the lead here. Naming the shadow, having her talk, and the constantly changing backstory gets laughable at times – as do slides across the floor and zooms on the ceiling. The research montage is a convenient home office snoop for a cassette tape from the doctor and a few photographs with retro jumpy footage snips patchworking the light sensitivity, skin disorder, institution experiment gone wrong, and psychic ghost happenings. There’s inconsistent UV light and physicality excuses, too, but if you aren’t going to give the audience a concrete explanation – i.e. saving it for the inevitable sequel – then there shouldn’t be any attempted information at all. Is this multiple personalities, a basement relative, or a childhood lez be friends BFF that won’t let go even in death? Why not call in the institution doctor or present your evidence to the sniffing child services instead of just yelling at your mother? There’s a kid so afraid he’s sleeping in the bathtub with the flashlight shining on his face, something’s tugging on mom’s sweater from behind the door, and quality under the bed threats rekindle timeless fears. There’s no need to add convoluted characters or ever leave the unique Tudor house standoff, yet one can tell where the trite dialogue and thin story were stretched to appeal to the mainstream teen horror public – complete with an L.A. setting, rich white blonde people, and a made stupid black cop and his Hispanic female partner. The short film didn’t have to explain its narrative the way a feature does, and this isn’t the worst recent horror film, but the good ending is a little too quick, playing it safe, serviceable, and ticking the standard contemporary horror boxes rather than really zinging. One should either stick with the original short or take this as a separate late night chiller for full bump in the night enjoyment.

 

Prom Night – Talk about kids being cruel! Morbid child’s play leads to deadly chases in this 1980 slasher – complete with one brat making the others swear to never tell, pathetic still seventies dudes, ugly vans a rockin’, station wagons, transistor radios, drive-ins, and obscene phone calls. Remember those? Although a few silly voiceovers could just be said out loud and some of the intercut flashes dump information in a quick reset, we know who is who for this eponymous anniversary vengeance. Six years later the killer has the names on his list and he’s checking them twice amid whispers of neighborhood sex offenders, creepy janitors, and mirrored innuendo. There’s terrible matching stripes, flared bell bottoms, knee socks, feathered hair, and side ponytails, too – not to mention escaped mental patients and a fatherly cop not telling the locals what’s afoot. This all must seem like Halloween deja vu for twenty-two year old high schooler Jamie Lee Curtis! Disco ball glows and red lights add flair, and there’s a sardonic humor with principal dad Leslie Nielsen (The Naked Gun) so awkward on the lit up floor before the big dance off, oh yeah. If there was going to be a Saturday Night Fever nod, they could have at least sprung for Bee Gees music instead of generic disco that’s honestly a little late. The prom king and queen ruses are i.e. Carrie as well, however these snob teens deserve what’s coming to them. How can a guy say he loves a girl when he helped kill her sister? We may laugh at some of the sagging datedness or bemusingly preposterous – violence in the gym showers and nobody in the school gives a hoot? However, a lot of horror movies and teen flicks are still using these borrowed staples. There’s a sense of small town swept under the rug paralleling the prom and sex calm as the ominous school hallways escalate to bloodied virgins in white dresses, lengthy slice and dice chases, rolling heads, light show disasters, and fiery vehicle attacks. This isn’t super gory and there’s no groundbreaking horror effects, but the well filmed checklist vignettes and shrewd cut corners editing build suspense alongside the red herrings and obvious killer guessing game. This isn’t super intellectual on the mentality of the killer or the full psychology of the crimes, either, but the misunderstood whys and psychosis seeds suggested continue the conversation long after everything plays out right on the dance floor with a power ballad topper.

 

Press Release: Reel Nightmare Films Presents Hotel Camarillo

Reel Nightmare Films has released the paranormal documentary feature film ‘Hotel Camarillo’ on Amazon Prime and Amazon Video.

The official synopsis reads: “A paranormal investigation takes us inside the abandoned Camarillo State Mental Hospital in California. Featuring real archival footage, EVP, photos, and interviews with the investigators documenting the paranormal activity inside the reportedly haunted location.”

Hotel Camarillo is a must-see for fans of paranormal investigations and ghost hunters; and for anyone who finds historical locations interesting.” Says Armand Petri, Head of Operations at Reel Nightmare Films.

Written & directed by Wayne Poe, and produced by Seventh Planet Productions; Hotel Camarillo is now available to Amazon Prime subscribers in the US, UK, DE & JP. The feature film is also available for rent on Amazon Video for only $1.99.

Hotel Camarillo Trailer

The Scarlett Dahlia by Jesse Orr: Heat

 

 

What came to be Scarlett Elizabeth Dahlia had been found under a tree by a river one scorching August day. She was found by her adoptive parents, Cynthia and Mason Sterling. Later Mason told his friends that he and Cynthia would have ridden right past if the baby had not been screaming at the top of her little lungs. The tree was far enough off the path that the basket in which the baby lay could not be seen, and the steady clop clop of the horse’s hooves on the hard gravel made enough noise. But screaming she was and had been for some time, it seemed, for by the time they had reined their horses in and dismounted, the baby’s face was a bright, furious red. Scarlet, thought Cynthia, before scooping the baby from the basket and holding her close.

“Mason, she’s burning up!” Cynthia said and looked at her husband who was standing at arm’s length. “The river! Mason! Your jacket!”

Mason looked down at his waistcoat, which had cost a pretty penny and with which he was loth to part. “My jacket…”

“Quick!” Cynthia cried. The little thing in her arms was burning up, and he was just standing there! If she could count on him not to just drop the poor child she would have done it herself by now.

With some reluctance, Mason dragged the jacket from his shoulders and went to the riverbank. Crouching, he held one sleeve and tossed the rest of the coat into the water, looking resigned as the water turned its light blue to dark. Hauling it back in, he carried it to her and held it out.

Cynthia took the sodden jacket and wrapped it around the baby before bathing its tiny brow with a sleeve. “There, there, you poor little thing! It’s okay, it’s okay, shhh…”

After a while, the scarlet color of the baby’s skin began to calm to its natural shade, and she began to quiet, looking at the two strangers with wide eyes. Those eyes in that moment melted both their hearts.

They searched dutifully for the baby’s parents as they cared for her, but every inquiry they made was done with a hope for its failure. In this they were diligent, for they were good folk and did not wish to steal the child of another. As time went by, and the little girl grew, little by little, their search tapered to nothing.

Though her color had faded, the name stuck, and Scarlett became a permanent member of Mason and Cynthia Sterling’s world. They were both overjoyed. After years of fruitless(but enjoyable) years trying to have their own children, they had begun to accept that there would be no pitter-patter of little feet for them. Now Scarlett, who was just learning to walk, filled their house with the sounds of youth.

And what a house it was! The Sterling estate was not the biggest or the richest, but to a child Scarlett’s size, it went on for what seemed like miles, and she never forgot it. The slaves adored her and would often comment on how she was “jus’ cute as a li’l button” when she came toddling their way. Mason and Cynthia were delighted with her, and the speed with which she learned. She did not speak as often as some children, but the insight she demonstrated in what she did say never ceased to amaze Mason.

As she grew older, she would often stand for long periods of time perfectly still holding on to two rails on her own little balcony, looking at all the world she could see. From there, she could see over the lawn and the slave quarters, and into the fields beyond where the slaves worked. The Sterling estate grew some of the best cotton for miles around, and the slaves took great pride in that fact.

As the little girl continued through adolescence, her curiosity seemed to grow with her. One night, she began to wonder, then ask about herself, as all children do. Mason and Cynthia were taken by surprise by the question and before they could consult with each other on the subject or plan what to say, Mason blurted out the truth. Scarlett’s whole world fell apart. She was nothing more than a throwaway. Discarded trash that had been left for the scavengers to find.

Nobody, not even Scarlett herself, knew that as she lay beneath the tree that hot August day, she had sustained permanent brain damage. Deep within the gray matter of her mind, something had gotten hot enough to rewire itself and was just waiting for something else to activate it. In the trauma of learning her origins, this new connection had lit up and changed Mason and Cynthia’s little girl forever.

That night, there was a fire in the Sterling Manor. A modern fire inspector would have looked upon it with great suspicion, for it started at the door of the master bedroom, on a hardwood floor, with no natural tinder. The sleeping Mason and Cynthia Sterling were dead of asphyxiation long before they were consumed by flames, along with the rest of their house. The slave quarters started to burn as well but were caught in time and the fire extinguished. The main house was a total loss.

Only Scarlett survived. One of the slaves found her, dry eyed, at the edge of the lawn, watching the fire burn. The slave spoke, and Scarlett turned to her, but not before the woman saw the savage expression of satisfaction on the girl’s face turn into tears as fake as she had ever seen. The slave woman never spoke of it to anyone, but she was sure she had seen the devil.

In the following weeks, the Sterling estate was dismantled and parceled out to the highest bidders. Slaves were sold and the property went for a staggering sum after a fierce auction. What little was not destroyed in the fire was included in the auction. Scarlett Sterling, not yet seventeen years of age, had inherited a fortune.

As the only remaining Sterling, Scarlett could have stayed and used the money to rebuild, but she had no interest in staying. While the estate of her so-called parents was divided, she had been staying in an orphanage. The other girls had been leaving her alone to grieve her loss, which suited her just fine. She used the time to plan. She would lie about her age and get as fine a house as she could with what she received from the sales, and start a new life. She was frightened but determined.

When she found out about Dahlia Manor, everything changed.

Guest Blog: EMERALD EYES By R. B. Wood

EMERALD EYES

By R. B. Wood

It was raining the night the dark-faced, false-skinned murderers came for my children. I’d been through and survived their senseless killings before, escaping with my life and little else.

If it were just me, I wouldn’t be concerned. But I had children now, and the three youngsters were asleep, huddled together for warmth and comfort. The wind howled at our home while torrents of rain lashed down, threatening to drown us. Indistinct voices sounded outside. They didn’t kill us to eat. They slaughtered us for fun, and they were far more dangerous than any jungle storm.

Lightning exploded around me as I woke the children. The two youngest, Chand and Saarya, fussed and complained sleepily, but Ishaan, my eldest, woke instantly and was immediately alert, staring at me with his beautiful and expectant emerald eyes. There was so much more to teach them, but there was no more time. I had to trust that they could find their own path, as young as they were. I did once, long ago. Now it was their turn. I needed to face the false-skinned murderers and keep them from my family.

I knew that by dawn, I would be dead.

I nodded once to Ishaan, then to the jungle. He nodded once in response. He swatted at his sister and brother and the two fell into line behind him. My three babies stole away through the lashing rain. It took only seconds for them to disappear from sight—an impressive feat for ones so young. I felt a moment of pride, just then, I admit it.

Ishaan was doing his job as the eldest. It was time for me to do mine as their mother. The false-skinned murderers wanted something to kill? I would not make it easy for them. I leaped out of the door of my home for the last time and began to stalk my prey. I found the first one urinating against a tree. I took him before he even knew there was danger.

I ripped the throat out of a second murderer moments later. This one lets out a gurgling cry, but the wind and then rain masked the sound of his death. I was approaching a third when I heard a loud crack—the report of one of their damnable fire-sticks. Caution be damned, I ran toward the sound, already knowing what I’d find. Little Chand was lying among the fronds, his blood pooling, mixing with the rain and the dirt. A ragged wound had taken the place of the soft, black fur of his chest. I watched him take his last breath. Whether he realized I was with him when he died, I’ll never know. 

A second crack sounded nearby and I roared with rage, bounding away from one dead child only to find another—my little Saarya—missing half of her head. I could see bloody, broken teeth showing through the hole. A grotesque mockery of what had been her beautiful smile. All around my daughter I could smell her death, taste her blood. I was about to scream again when I heard a higher pitched yell of fear and pain. Not Ishann too, I thought and set off as fast as my legs would carry me.

I splashed through puddles and slid in the muck, scrambling to get to my boy. I found him. But it hadn’t been he who screamed. Lying on the ground was a murderer. His throat had been ripped out, much like I’d done to his companion moments before. A broken fire-stick lay beside him.

Ishaan was there, ripping at the murder’s false-skin, tearing into the dark flesh underneath. My son was in the middle of a blood rage. He had lost the sense of himself, lost awareness of the danger that still surrounded us. I pulled him off his kill. He bit and clawed at me, and I let him until his rage faded.

Shouts could be heard coming closer, and beams from false-suns sprang up. More murderers would come, as they always did, sensing an impending kill. They would be riding in metal beasts and carrying larger fire-sticks.

We needed to run.

No, I thought. Ishann needs to run. I failed to keep the false-skinned killers from Chand and Saarya. I will not fail a third time.

I held my son close, inhaling his scent, trying to explain to him how he needed to run, how proud I was of him. How much I loved him. Rain washed away the blood and dirt from the fur of my child as I set him down upon the sodden ground. He looked up at me, emerald eyes unblinking, understanding. And at the next flash of lightning, my son was gone. Thunder rumbled, and I growled a challenge in response, matching tone and timber.

Voices were all around me now. Many false-suns lit the jungle chaotically, bouncing off trees and ground and rain.

And me.

One of them shouted, and other false-suns turned to me in an instant. There was no more time. I snarled in defiance.

This is for Chand and Saarya. This is to keep my Ishann free.

I pounced amongst screams. Their fire-sticks roared. Blood flowed, and the rains fell harder.

 

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BIO:

R. B. Wood is a technology consultant and a writer of Speculative and Dark Fiction.  His first novel, The Prodigal’s Foole, was released to critical acclaim in 2012.  Mr. Wood is currently working on multiple stories and his MFA (Emerson College Class of ’19).  Along with his writing passion, R. B.  is the host of The Word Count Podcast – a show that features talent from all around the globe reading original flash-fiction stories.

R. B. currently lives in Boston with his partner, Tina, a multitude of cats and various other critters that visit from time to time.