WWW Contestant 13: Amy K. Marshall

The following text is posted as part of HorrorAddicts.net‘s annual Wicked Women Writers Challenge.
This text is presented as is, from the author, with no editing.
Contestants should be judged on text, audio, and use of the challenge items listed. Please read the bottom of this post for voting instructions. Audio is playing at HorrorAddicts.net, #94.

Amy K. Marshall – Paternoster

Disaster – Loss of all fuel sources

Location – elevator

Helpful Item – Swiss army survival knife

Disability – sprained swollen ankle

*******

 

Amy K Marshall

Paternoster

 

 

My name is Lily…

It’s been three days since the world went Dark. At least … I think it’s been three days. It’s been two days since I last heard a human voice. At least…I think it’s been two days. The last voice I heard was Perttu’s voice.  He called to me from the 4th floor landing. He never liked elevators and he hated this Paternoster with an irrational vengeance. Yeah. Irrational. Not from where I’m sitting now. Nothing irrational about that now…

It’s Dark. It’s mostly silent. There were people in the elevator’s other cars. I remember people hopping on and off. I remember my car shifting and swaying…. Don’t know what a Paternoster is?

It’s Europe’s Death Elevator.

It’s also the quickest way up to the 6th floor—that’s where Dr. Mikkel  Akselson has his neuro-opthamology lab.  But that’s a million miles away now…

You stand there … watching… the cars rise without stopping. There are two lights on the floor … they blink … red – red – red – GREEN – red – red – red – GREEN. You see, when it’s GREEN, that’s when it’s safe to hop into the car. It doesn’t wait for you, though. It just keeps moving.  It’s like one of those rotating filing cabinets … only this one is for people .. for bodies … now, I’m sure it’s for the dead…

It was evening … and the lobby was crowded. People were happy, talking, laughing … it was nearly the week-end, and, well, I was looking forward to time away from Copenhagen with Mikkel. Just Mikkel and me.

I hate this elevator. I was too lazy to take the stairs.

Red – red – red – GREEN.

Too late.

I hear unflattering things behind me in Danish. I know they’re unflattering because Mikkel and Perttu and I got drunk one evening and they decided I needed to learn how to swear in Danish.

Det passer sgu ikke! Means that’s not bloody true.

Jeg er ligeglad … that’s a good one because it means I don’t care.

Hold kaeft! That means shut up … I think. They laughed quite a bit over that one…

Det er sgu rigtigt! That means I’ll be damned

I’ll be damned. Sure as hell … I’ll be damned…

Red – red –red – Green!

A hand in my back shoved me forward.

OW!

Dit rovhul!

I hope I said that correctly.

I hit the back of the car and turn – I see their smirks as the car moves upward.

Upwards.

There’s no top to the car. I see the chain mechanism.

I rise.

The floors slide by. On the third floor, a red-haired young man starts to step in, but pulls back.

I rise.

Getting on is one thing.

Getting off is another.

Fifth floor.

“This, you must see…” I hear Mikkel’s voice slide through my brain. I can feel his hand on my arm. He smiles, and I’m lost in his eyes. I’m such a sucker for eyes. “Up and over—“

His gaze holds mine as we clear the 6th floor.

What the hell –

I’ve forgotten to get off!

The car rocks up and over the top of the mechanism. A large flywheel slips and spins, cranking the car around.

Get off on 6, you idiot …

“I’ve saved the best for last.”

What the hell is going on? I can still hear him. I think.

I miss 6.

I slide to 5.

To  4.

The young man on 3 is gone.

Two.

One.

“Into the darkness…”

I hold my breath.

We slid beneath the ground floor. Red signs slide by…they’re in Danish.

Mikkel’s breath is warm against my cheek as he leans closer in the darkness. “Keep Standing.”

“Pardon?” I breathe, my knees weakening.

Did I mention that Dr. Akselson is something you wouldn’t think of pushing out of bed?

“It’s what the sign says,” he replies.

“Oh…”

Deeper.

Darker.

We pass across the bottom of the mechanism.

We rise into light.

“I enjoy the darkness,” he says, his accent thickening. “Peaceful…like the grave.”

“Pardon?”

“No, no … I’m not saying it right.” He smiles.”My English.”

My Danish sucks, so what can I say about his English?

I’m lost in thought.

Third floor.

The red-haired young man is back. He doesn’t move. He just…watches. I feel his eyes follow me up.

Remember to get off on 6.

What the –

What the hell was that?

Hello?

Hello?

In those first moments, I strained my ears. I couldn’t hear anything. They rang with the remembered grinding of the Paternoster. The reverberated the bang of its stopping.

Hello?

I could hear others in other cars saying the same.

I changed tack.

I’m here! Are you there? Are you okay? What’s happened?

But … they’re all speaking Danish. No one answered me. Well, no one answered me so I could understand.

It won’t be long.

Hours passed.

Long hours passed.

This is crap—waiting for a rescue.

I rummage through my bum bag (that’s a fanny pack for you Americans) and come up with

A Swiss Army Knife.

WWMD?

What Would Macgyver do?

Better yet, what would Macgyver’s writers do?

Two blades … a corkscrew…and me without a bottle of wine … that saw that really isn’t a saw. Two screwdrivers, a way to pry open a beer, tweezers, and a toothpick.

Just.

Brilliant.

Keep Standing.

Screw that.

I slumped to the floor, flipping the blade open and closed. Open and closed. Open and closed.

Red – red- red- GREEN

But…there’s no light.

Open and closed. Open and closed open and –

That’s when I heard Perttu.

Hey, Lily! You okay?

I press my back against the back of the car and get to my feet.

Perttu?

How the hell does he know I’m here?

Stay put, Lil! I’ll get you out!

I hear him stagger away.

I mean … I listen to him …. Stagger…

What the hell is going on?

Then … there’s nothing.

It doesn’t occur to me that there’s nothing.

No one.

Only silence.

Open and closed open and closed open and –

What the hell was that?

The elevator starting up?

Closed and open –

Yeah … the elevator. It’s resetting or something…

What the –

SCREAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Uff! Ow! Som’bitch!

(sobs) My ankle.

Som’BITCH! My ANKLE!

There was something there! In the dark! On 3!

It was … him… I swear … that guy … that red-haired guy was on 3!

Hey!

Hey!

Can you hear me? Can you hear –

(growl)

(heavy breathing) What the –

Shhhh…… shhh….  (heavy breathing)

There’s something out there –

Where is it?

I scrabble against the floor.

It’s only a Swiss Army Knife, but – what the HELL is that SOUND??

Those are … footsteps…

Oh … my God ..

Mikkel … Perttu … what the hell is this?

I’ve gotta get out of here.

But my ankle … Shit …

Ow …  maybe if I –

(loud thump)

Oh … my God …

It’s dark. I press back against the side of the car. It’s dark. I can’t see it and it can’t see me…right? Right??

(low growl)

Right … right … shhhh…..

Maybe if I just –

(attack sound)

SCREAM!!!!

Get off! Get off! Help! Help!

Perttu! Perttu!

(heavy breathing) … no way …

Ew… is it? I mean … it’s not dead. I don’t think it’s dead…

Oh … my God … is it dead?

What is it?

(low growl)

Oh my God, it’s NOT dead!

It will be now –

(heavy hit)

(sawing)

I don’t know what it is… it’s not…human. It doesn’t look human at all. But, I’ll bet there are more of them.

I know what to do

(sawing)

It’s what I did.

The only thing I could think of to do.

(sawing)

“What did you do?”

“Pardon?”

“What did you do?”

(sawing)

I cut the skin off it. Carefully of course. It skinned like a rabbit. Like a little coat. One incision around the neck, and then I unzipped it. The guts made the floor slippery, but that was okay. Make it smell like a kill. Maybe that would keep them away. Or attract them.

Have you ever tried to skin something big with a Swiss Army Knife?

Sucks. Let me tell you.

Thank God I had a decent edge on that blade.

“What did you do?”

I ate part of it. I mean, three days is a long time, and it didn’t taste particularly rancid. I mean. I was still fresh.

And then, I wore its skin.

You see… that was the trick to getting out.

There were more of them. I tucked its skin around me. I cut away its face and wore it like a mask.

The Paternoster has no top.

Three days I waited … and then the thing got a little wormy, but my ankle felt like it could support some weight … so I tucked the skin around me and climbed out. It took a little balance on top of the car, but I’d cut away its claws and used them like pitons – you know, like mountain climbers use.

I climbed until I got to the ground floor.

There were bodies everywhere … but there were no creatures. Just…bodies. I saw the remains of the two guys who pushed me onto the Paternoster. I felt bad, ‘cause they’d saved my life.

It was night. A stinking night. And I walked out into it and –

And –

And –

“And?”

I noticed how the skin looked different.

“In the moonlight?”

“I don’t think moonlight had anything to do with it.”

“What do you think?”

“The air was clearer.”

“Indeed.”

“Can I see Mikkel now? I want to see him now.”

“You’ve seen him for days.”

 

It was later that I found Mikkel’s notes … his research had taken the darkest of turns before it became Night. Neuro-opthamology includes the study of reactive chemicals that can fool the brain into believing in hallucinations. He found the perfect dose.

“I got the idea from a book on Lily’s shelf,” he had written. “It was all about things underground and the dark … and monsters … and the monstrous dark. Perttu doesn’t believe such a random test is a good idea, but the chemical is only slightly reactive in the quantities I proposed. A slight hallucination for test subjects in the Paternoster. They are in a contained space. We can keep them in the cars for up to an hour. We can play at an elevator malfunction.”

What could possibly go wrong…?

*******

To vote for this story, send an email to: horroraddicts@gmail.com with the subject line: WWW. Voting ends October 7th, 2013, 11:59a, PST.

WWW Contestant 12: Sumiko Saulson

The following text is posted as part of HorrorAddicts.net‘s annual Wicked Women Writers Challenge.
This text is presented as is, from the author, with no editing.
Contestants should be judged on text, audio, and use of the challenge items listed. Please read the bottom of this post for voting instructions. Audio is playing at HorrorAddicts.net, #94.

Sumiko Saulson – A Birthday Present

Disaster –  Sinkholes

Location – Bowling Alley/ Pool Hall Bar

Helpful Item – Cue Stick

Disability – Lost Glasses

*******

The Birthday Present

By Sumiko Saulson

 

The high, thin whine of easy-listening music slid into the room through the high-mounted ancient speakers of Sheckley’s Rock and Bowl, adding to the creepy jaundiced ambiance of the place provided courtesy of it’s filthy, yellowed neon lights. It was a bowling alley and pool house, and I was pretty sure that it hadn’t been rocking since the 1950s. It smelled like stale corndogs, damp drywall with molds growing somewhere deep in it’s innards, and the occasional loaded diaper that the visitors on family day casually tossed into one of the beige bodied and red-lidded plastic trash bins in the bowling area instead of in the bathroom where they belonged.

I was sitting in the corner seat, smashed between my aunt and my mother, waiting for my turn. Squishing my toes up and down in the stiff-soled, tacky tri-toned rented bowling shoes, I silently contemplated the various fungi that were undoubtedly living within. I wondered whether or not my black cotton business socks would provide a thick enough barrier to prevent the athlete’s foot fungus from creeping forth and latching onto the sensitive skin in between my toes? The medicated powder I’d liberally doused the innards with before slipping on the hot and sweaty size sevens probably wasn’t enough. I was busy contemplating the animated mushrooms from my old Super Mario Brother’s video game dancing around in my shoe when my mom jabbed me in the shoulder with her long, sharp fingernail.

“Ouch!” I cried out.

“Don’t be such a baby,” my mom said between loud smacks of her sugar free chewing gum. She always seemed to use the nail file to rub each fingernail into an evil inverted v-shape, as if she were expecting to engage in a catfight to the death momentarily. “Your turn, Minnie,” she said sourly. The muscles under her foundation-caked face twitched angrily. I jumped up and moved for the ball, eager to avoid an untimely slap to the face by the maternal claws of doom.

Mom was a pretty fifty-eight year old woman under her too-thick Maybelline, and when I was a little thing everyone said I looked just like her. Well, I wasn’t a little thing anymore. Now, I was an acne-covered, overweight teenager with hot-comb burned overly straightened hay hair and coke-bottle glasses. My brother and sisters were grown now, and I was the last one left in the home… maybe that’s why mom was making such a big deal about my sweet-sixteen party. I don’t think she truly understood my age, that I was nearly a woman now. I wanted to do something cool for my birthday, like go to a concert, but no, instead I had to be stuck down here on Family Discount Bowling Night with a bunch of families with their funky rug rats howling in the background.

I felt a migraine coming on.

Mama had invited everyone up here to Sheckley’s Rock and Bowl, “everyone” being my twenty-two year old brother Joe, my twenty-four year old twin sisters Alicia and Felicia, and my oldest sister Angelyne, who was twenty-eight and had a nine year old daughter, Tammyline, my mother’s first and only grandchild. The other girls were from momma’s first marriage to Darnel, a serviceman who died in the war. Little Joe was the son of her second husband, Big Joe, a much older man who died of a heart attack before I was born. Big Joe was my daddy, too… on paper, but by now I was old enough know better. No pregnancy lasted fourteen months, at least no human one. One thing was for sure: no one was expecting me, what with momma being over forty and daddy being under dirt on the day I was born.

The whole lot of siblings, aunties, uncles and cousins began a round of distracting applause as I stood up and brushed the popcorn off of my hand-me-down Applebottom jeans. My momma might be skinny, like I used to be back when she gave me the nickname “Minnie” after that Austin Powers sidekick mini-me, because I was supposed to be a mini her, but I wasn’t anymore, and neither were my aunts. We weren’t mini anything. As I stood, I inhaled the deep aroma of stale popcorn, body odor, and sewage-tainted trashcan water that was the perfume of Sheckley’s Rock & Bowl.

Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted Gary, the boy from my P.E. class who always tried to talk to me. “You sure run fast for a girl your size,” she remembered him saying last Tuesday, as he made steady eye contact my cleavage squished below the XXL school issue gym tank v-neck. It turned out he worked at Sheckley’s concession stand. He was staring right at my booty as I walked towards the ball rack. I didn’t really like him, but I liked the attention, and I admit that I was swishing my butt a little as I walked over to select my favorite bubble-gum colored bowling ball, the one with the sparkles in it.

I walked up to the bowling alley with my pretty pink bowling ball shining like the best oversized rubber bouncing ball ever, the hot overhead bowling alley lights gleaming reflectively from the glitter embedded inside. I imagined myself walking in slow motion, hair bouncing and curves flashing in the spotlight like a plus sized beauty queen, a model, maybe Queen Latifah. I was really feeling myself when I tossed that ball on the aisle…

Maybe that’s why I was so horrified when I heard the loud “carrack!” sound.

I reached around with both my hands, grabbing my backside, feeling around for what must have been a rip in the seat of my pants, but I couldn’t feel anything. My face burned hot with embarrassment. A strange aroma of swampy water and sulfur filled the air. If it wasn’t a tear, maybe I’d farted?

It was just then that the bottom of the aisles began to crack and twist. My ball bounced hard up and down as the lane writhed like a snake. A crack down the center of it began to expand, until suddenly a sinkhole dropped open right in the middle of it. My ball rolled forward undeterred until it dropped, suddenly, into the ground. Two equal sized holes opened up in the adjoining lanes, and it looked like a pool ball falling into the center pocket of the table as it when sliding down into the hole. Smoke rolled out of the holes like a thick, putrid, stinking fog. That’s when the screaming started.

Sinkholes were opening up all over Sheckley’s. The elderly lady the next lane over was just standing there with her fingers still in her bowling ball hole, purple polyester pantsuit flapping in the reeking breeze when a hole opened up right under her feet, and she dropped down into the ground. Was it my imagination, or had the stinking steam emissions belching forth from the pit melted the flesh off her contorted face in the moments just prior to her sudden sinking?

I was still staring at the puddle of pink and purple putrescence that used to be Alice Worthington of the Little Old Ladies Bowling League when my aunt Janice came barreling past me with such force that when she knocked into my arm, it sent me spinning, and my glasses flew off my face in the general direction of the terrible pit of stench. My eyes are very bad, without my glasses I am so nearsighted that I am legally blind, and a sense of sinking dread came over me, as I determined that I was totally screwed.

Everything went into soft-focus all of the sudden, like a really cheesy romantic film, only one that was loaded with carnage and death. I could hear the mothers with their hordes of infants screaming in and wailing in unison. Fear seemed to be the equalizer for all ages and genders, because one man’s scream blended in with the howling of his infant in perfect, hellish harmony. As blind as I was, I could still see the sinkhole that my ball had fallen into stretching and expanding, so that it joined with the two on either side of it and stretched across three lanes. I was sure it was big enough to swallow a car by now. I turned around and ran for the door.

I couldn’t see very well, but that wasn’t going to stop me. I just kept racing forward in the general direction of the mass of bodies that was flooding towards the door. I was about to pass the bathroom when a weird, scaly hand grabbed my arm.

“Stop, Damiana,” the commanding voice uttered.

I blinked rapidly. Damiana was my name, but no one called me Damiana. Everyone called me Minnie. My mom tried to make out like Minnie was an appropriate way to shorten my name… Damiana, Miana, Minnie, but we all knew that it was the mini-me thing.

“I am your father,” it announced, and the tone of voice was not even remotely reassuring. I looked on in horror as a sinkhole appeared before me – right in front of the door – and swallowed up the crowed of neighbors, strangers, and relatives who were busily shoving and jostling towards the exit. They fell like dominoes into this latest opening, and I stood there feeling my jaw drop, helplessly aghast at this latest happening. My favorite aunt Meredith was clutching at the edge of the abyss before me, her shrill screams echoing against the roof of the bowling alley. I watch in horror as the acidic fog escaped the pit and melted the flesh off of her grasping knuckles. Liquefied meat and skin slid off the bones and sinew, and soon only a skeletal hand remained, identifiable only by her distinctive turquoise birthstone ring. I felt hot tears gushing from my eyes as I stood there, frozen.

Everyone else with a punk-assed absentee father was frustrated because daddy wouldn’t send child support checks and the kids were in hand-me downs, but not me. No, that wasn’t bad enough for me. Me, I had to have a dad who would melt aunt Meredith like an ice cream cone in a microwave. Who wants a daddy like that?

At last, the screams subsided.

“Let me go!” I yelled, jerking my body ineffectually against the iron grip of the claw. I began kicking against the thing’s knee, but it didn’t do any good. I felt its steely hand begin to forcibly turn me to face it. I twisted my body the other way, but it did no good. Soon, I was looking through bleary eyes at the fuzzy face of what appeared to be a lion’s face with curved antlers.

It starred deeply into my eyes and whispered, “see…”

Suddenly, I was able to see perfectly, as if I had on the world’s best pair of lightweight contact lenses. Why on why did I have to start seeing perfectly when there was nothing to look at except for this horrible mess? Everywhere, I saw the fleshy molten body meats pulsating at the edges of the sinkholes like the bowling alley had just turned into the nastiest pockmarked face you could possibly imagine. Bodily fluids were flying out of the holes like pus from a really nasty zit. I couldn’t help myself. I vomited all over my so-called father.

“All of this will be yours,” he shouted, gesturing with his free hand at the bowling alley wasteland. Now that I could see better, his crinkled face looked less like a cat, and more like some kind of hairless pug dog with twisting horns that looked like that one time when Grandma Louise decided to stop clipping her finger and toenails and they grew out and got all twisted and bent. It really looked like crap, man, her hands and feet were a hot mess, but no one could tell her anything… all brittle and yellowed and broken. This guy’s horns were that skuzzy.

“I don’t want it,” I spat back at him. “You can keep your hell bowling alley.”

That’s when I spotted it. In a corner, untouched by the many sinkholes, there was Goofy Gary from my physical education class, that guy who kept trying to keep up with me when Mr. Fields had us running circles around the track. He was standing on a pool table, trying to avoid the horrible flesh-eating fart juicy smoke.

He grabbed a pool cue off the nearby wall and looked at me and cried out, “Here Minnie! Catch!” I reached up in the air and grabbed the stick. With all of my might, I slammed it through that demon’s big orange cat eye. A horrible stew of blood and pus-like yellow crud came sliding down the pool cue as I forced the stick through his skull and watched it pop out the back of his head.

“Nooooooo!!!!” It screamed as it dropped my body and fell to the floor. As the life oozed from its body, my lousy eyesight began to return. Whatever magic trick it used to improve my vision was fading along with its life. The sinkholes began to shrink, and suck the fog back into the ground with them.

I suppose it was all over. But nothing would ever, ever be the same.

As Gary and I limped out of the bowling alley, we saw the evidence that disaster that had happened not just in the bowling alley.  It was all around us. Partially devoured cars protruded from the ground out of spots where the sinkholes used to be.

Gary turned to look at me. It was a serious look, a deep look.

“Let me help you,” he said. “You have a little something on your face.”

I smiled a little. He had something in his hands. He looked so cute as he unfolded my glasses and grinned sheepishly as he slid them across my nose.

“Thank you,” I said. Goofy Gary was kind of cute when you took a good look at him. Especially right now, when he was looking so shy and sweet.

“Wait a minute,” I said, snapping my fingers. “I forgot something.”

That was when Gary’s head exploded. I guess I shouldn’t have snapped my fingers just then… when I looked at my hand, where the nasty yellow eye go had touched it, it was kind of bubbling and writhing where the fluids were sinking deep into my flesh. My eyes began to grow bleary, and once again I couldn’t see. I thought it was because I was crying at first, but I was wrong. Finally, I understood that it was my glasses that were making my vision blur – I didn’t need them anymore.

I took them in my hand, and flung them on the ground.

It seemed that my birth father had a present to give me for my sweet sixteen, and he was going to give it to me whether I wanted it or not, no matter what. I looked around at all of the carnage and blood, which was all that remained of my past and the family I knew, and I began to sob in earnest.

I didn’t know what the future held. I didn’t even know who I really was. I only knew one thing… that party really sucked.

*******

To vote for this story, send an email to: horroraddicts@gmail.com with the subject line: WWW. Voting ends October 7th, 2013, 11:59a, PST.

WWW Contestant 11: Maggie Fiske

The following text is posted as part of HorrorAddicts.net‘s annual Wicked Women Writers Challenge.
This text is presented as is, from the author, with no editing.
Contestants should be judged on text, audio, and use of the challenge items listed. Please read the bottom of this post for voting instructions. Audio is playing at HorrorAddicts.net, #94.

Maggie Fiske – A Quarrel for Jimmy Lee Killscrow

Disaster –  Solar Flares/ or Gamma Rays

Location – Hunting in the Mountains

Helpful Item – Crossbow

Disability – Hungover

*******

 

“A Quarrel for Jimmy-Lee Killscrow”…                by Margaret Fiske

 

“That’s him,” says Detective Baxter.  He points at a white speck nestled in the BitterrootMountains and holds binoculars up to my face.  All I see is a beat-to-hell camper among the pines.  A bearded man with hippy hair steps into view.  It’s Jimmy-Lee Killscrow, the devil who left me for dead out in the sticks when I was 15.  Now he’s a Lumber-Christ in flannel.  I’m disarmed.  How can Iow HHow can I  kill Jesus?

 

Baxter tries to talk me out of this vendetta.  He says, “Just head back to Bozeman before the solar storm hits tonight, Claudine.”

 

I scoff.  “Baxter, after Y2K and 12-21-12, who listens to that disaster crap?”

 

He doesn’t get it.  The only way to stop Killscrow is to kill that bastard before he beats me to the deathblow.  I knee open the Jeep door and push my crossbow pack out onto the road.

 

“Stay in one piece,” he says, and skins out of there quick with his money.

 

My name is Claudine Archer, but nobody remembers that.  I’m just that hitchhiker that got her arms chopped off.  ¯ ¯

 

By the time I hike to Jimmy-Lee’s camper there’s a high sickle moon reaping the Montana starfield.  I set up Stakeout at the mouth of a small cave near the camper to scout his movements tonight.  He’ll die in the sun tomorrow so he can see my hook squeeze the bow trigger.

 

I watched Killscrow gun his pickup down the dirt road at 7 p.m. sharp.  According to Baxter’s notes, he’s gone bar hopping in Lolo Springs, where he’ll pass out redemption tracts to barflies and save his own soul from sobriety.  I’ve got time to kill.

 

Wind cuts through my fleece poncho, making my teeth clack.  I stashed a bottle of Cuervo to celebrate Jimmy-Lee’s demise, but decide to drink it now.  I tuck the tequila under my armpit and twist off the cap with my molars.

 

Liquor lets the memories slink back easily…

 

I endured nineteen surgeries.  When the stumps finally healed, I was fit with battery-powered myo-electric prosthetics which transmit electrical impulses from my muscles to open or close the metal hooks.  These can openers scare the bejeezus out of little kids and potential suitors.

 

Amputation forces you to relearn how to be an adult.  So I compensate for my loss of hands with other body parts.  Lips, hips and toe tips all become my grip.  I retrained my muscles to perform both with and without prosthetics.

 

I’m messed up on the inside too.  Migraines, vertigo, nightmares, panic attacks, –sucks to be me.  But I also grew strong, and athletic in ways I never dreamt.  I have the flexibility of a Cirque du Soleil acrobat, and moxie that puts Miss Congeniality to shame.  Call me handicapped and I’ll kick you in the teeth.

 

My arms are buried in an unmarked grave in Boise that was a secret between me and the gravediggers.  Every anniversary I bring them sunflowers.  Last summer, there was a nasty present.  A pair of chopsticks stuck in the dirt.  My inner killer grabbed the wheel.

 

I blew the last of my donation money on 3 things: An Excalibur Phoenix crossbow, tattoos, and Detective Baxter.

 

I chose the crossbow because it’s my legacy. With a surname like Archer, bows flow in my blood.  I became a self­-taught arbalist.

 

When the skeptical sporting goods clerk asked what I plan to hunt with the bow, I told him, “Jackass,” and dry-popped the trigger at his heart.  Then for many moons I practiced kill shots on thawed turkeys in the backyard.  I turned Katniss.

 

For my full sleeve, black wing tattoos I commissioned Karasu Ono, the cutting-edge tattoo artisan in Spokane.  I asked her to transform me into the Angel of Death.  Her jeweler’s loupe goggles captured every minute detail.  Each shiny 3-D Photoreal feather scalloped like a hand of rummy.  Badass! ¯¯

 

My phone chimes midnight.  Time to check armaments.  I tune the tension on the Phoenix to deadly perfection.  I inspect the fletching on a dozen four-headed arrows, which are aptly called quarrels.  The quarrel flies with a wicked little twist which can drill a half-dollar sized hole clean through a body.  All my quarrels bear an icon of Venus de Milo etched on the shaft.

 

Tonight, Venus and I are vigilantes on a vigil.  The Aurora Borealis simmers up North, just like in the summer of ’77…        ¯

 

He picked me up outside Pocatello, hitchhiking to Yellowstone just for kicks.  Too young to drive, too dumb to realize a killer can drive a yellow Pontiac with a Mormon Youth Camp bumper sticker.  He was clean-cut, with gentle eyes and a cardigan.  Who’s afraid of Mr. Rogers’ dorkier cousin?

 

I barely shut the door when he said, “Meet Jesus,” and a claw hammer cracked my cranium.

 

Time telescoped when he dragged me into the trees.  5 chops with a hand axe hacked-off my arms at the elbow.  Pain jolted me into another dimension.  He left me to bleed-out.

 

Somehow, I picked myself up out of the ditch to cheat death.  I remember laughter behind me.  There was a small murder of crows skipping through my blood puddles.  I raised my arms to mimic wings.  It staunched the blood flow as I staggered toward the light of the living.  ¯

 

Whew!  I’m feeling all flushed from cocktails and flashbacks, so I strip down to my tank top.  I want wind on my shoulders.  And behold, the solar storm strikes.

 

The sky ignites in swirling acid green flames bright enough to read the warning to pregnant women on the tequila label.  Lolo Springs falls dark.   Northern Lights curl in a tsunami of electrons that charge the air.  I wobble to my feet in awe. Spec-(hic)-tacular.

 

Suddenly, the sky fills with chirping shadows.  A vortex of panicked bats descends on the cave to roost.  I dart, skid on gravel, tumble into a starless pit. ¯¯

 

I wake to sunlight hammering my eyelids.  I feel like I faceplanted a speeding beer truck.  Hands down, this is the evilest PMSing stepmother of all hangovers.  I can vaguely tell that my drunken ass fell into the cave and that there’s a junk refrigerator and some bald tires around me.  I try to sit up, but the pain… oooooh!

 

“Ahhhh,” somebody echoes.  I freeze.  A chorus of groaning surrounds me and I realize the nauseating truth.  There’s at least a dozen girls like me, all missing body parts.  Girls that didn’t get away.

 

It’s zombie apocalypse.  I’m at ground zero in Killscrow’s body dump in his grotto of Slain Angels.  Pink rags shuffle backwards on beef jerky legs in the shadows.  They’re still hitchhiking.

 

I feel the tug of someone braiding my hair and smell her rancid pork chop breath.  I turn.  Half her face is tomahawked.  She hisses.  A buffet line of maggots wriggles in her tongue stub.  I puke Cuervo till my ribs ache. The girls scuffle toward me, drawn toward the light of the living.  I back away, but bump into an unstable Frigidaire that thunders end over end down the rocks, making a godawful racket.

 

They surround me with blind cavefish eyes.  I frantically search for a weapon and spot my bow and a pair of quarrels strewn beside a torso in a Cheap Trick t-shirt writhing in the dirt.  As I scoop up the bow, she chomps at my hooks.  Only 2 quarrels.  A quarrel for Jimmy-Lee Killscrow and one left to take out 12 zombies if they queue up ear to ear.

 

Outside, the camper door slams.  Jesus is risen.  He yells.  ““Hey!  Who’s up there?”  I must become bait to lure him into a deathtrap.  I cry out, “Help!  Help me!”  He snickers.  “Hold on, lady.  I’ll get you !”

 

The cadaverettes advance.  I plead to them. “Remember who you were!  Remember what he did to you!”

 

Killscrow enters the cave, waving an axe.  He hesitates as he spies his resurrected victims.  “You ladies should’ve stayed dead!” he roars and splits a one-armed girl like a winter cornhusk.

 

I cock the bow, but something’s wrong.  I can’t grasp the trigger.  Solar flares fried the batteries in my arms!  “It’s o.k.,” I think.  I can still launch the shot by pulling the claw back with my whole shoulder.  But the Phoenix feels clumsy.  I miss.  Damn!

 

He’s cocky now.  “What’s wrong, Claudine?  Need a hand?

 

No!  I can compensate.  I wriggle out of the arm straps… heel peel off boots and socks… grasp the last quarrel between my toes.  He brags,  ““I’ll chop your head off this time.  Keep it in the freezer for a lonely night.”

 

The Angel of Death rises up inside me.  I spread my wings in challenge.  Killscrow can’t take his eyes off my tattoos. I flex, I feint.  I punt his balls deep into his end zone.  The axe fumbles as he buckles forward.

 

I tell him, “Meet Satan,” and lift the quarrel to my mouth with my foot.  With clenched teeth, I lunge into the face of my nightmare.  I jab Venus de Milo into his gentle blue iris.  A geyser of blood and eyeball juice pops as it sinks into the socket till it hits skullcap.  Bull’s-eye.

 

He yanks out the quarrel skewering a chunk of cerebellum kabob along with it.  For a second he does a freaky little grand mal jig.

 

“Brains!” croaks a dead chick.  The pack pounces.  There’s still enough kick left in Jimmy-Lee for him to realize that he’s dying piece by piece by piece.  The Angels feast.  ¯¯

 

I scramble out of the cave, soaring with joy, for I have no more quarrels.  I embrace the sweet pain of life with phantom limbs.  Every bruising stone underfoot gives me wings.

 

I am the crow he could not kill.  ¯¯

 

You just heard “A Quarrel for Jimmy-Lee Killscrow” by Margaret Fiske, part of the 2013 Wicked Women Writers Challenge.  Please vote for my podcast by sending an e-mail to horroraddicts@gmail.com.

*******

To vote for this story, send an email to: horroraddicts@gmail.com with the subject line: WWW. Voting ends October 7th, 2013, 11:59a, PST.

WWW Contestant 10: R. L. Weston

The following text is posted as part of HorrorAddicts.net‘s annual Wicked Women Writers Challenge.
This text is presented as is, from the author, with no editing.
Contestants should be judged on text, audio, and use of the challenge items listed. Please read the bottom of this post for voting instructions. Audio is playing at HorrorAddicts.net, #94.

RL Weston – Drug Z

Disaster –  Dirty Bombs

Location – Zumba Class

Helpful Item – Workout Towel

Disability – Children Left Alone in gym daycare

*******

Drug Z

By: R.L. Weston

“With more on the string of explosions laced with Drug Z, a terrifying hybrid of Bath Salts and Krokodil, we have Pat Cheney, Government Defense Strategist and Hal Corp CEO.”

A cold chill ran down Alice’s spine as Pat Cheney’s face flashed onto the screens of the televisions suspended above the row of ellipticals on the north side of the gym. Alice knew he couldn’t see her making her way toward her covert meeting before Zumba class, but her pace quickened all the same.

“We will not tolerate these terrorists in our midst,” the bronzer caked on Pat’s face couldn’t completely hide the grey, reptilian coldness of his countenance. “The use of dirty bombs by the Liberty Militia will be met with the use of extreme force by Hal Corp’s Defense Team. Citizens are urged to come forward with any information that will lead to the arrest of these fugitives.”

Alice’s Zumba class was a cover for a small cell of the Liberty Militia, a group opposing Hal Corp’s slow but deliberate takeover of government and their violent, fascist attacks on citizens. Members of the Liberty Militia had been victims in every dirty bomb attack to date and now Hal Corp was trying to frame them as suicide bombers.

“Sorry I was late,” Alice said as she greeted the half-dozen other members of her group. “I was held up at one of Hal Corp’s checkpoints. I was sweating bullets when they opened my gym bag.”

Alice handed the CD marked “Zumba Mix” over to Carol. “Big Ugly is out there on every T.V. screen spouting his lies again. Hopefully this will be what we need to hack his system and get some evidence on our side.”

“This has all the new codes on it?” Carol asked.

“Yep.”

“And they didn’t touch it when they searched your bag?”

“No. You think I would have come here if they had?” The energy in the room felt more nervous than usual. “What’s got everyone so rattled today?”

Carol glanced at Jan. “Jan’s husband was detained today.”

Jan stared at the floor, tears welling in her eyes, and fidgeted with the hem of her t-shirt. “They didn’t find much on him. He had a few posters hidden behind the lining of his briefcase, but, it’s enough.”

“Hey, it’s going to be O.K.” Carol wrapped her arms around Jan as Jan sobbed harder. “We’re going to get him out of there.”

Jan shook her head, backed out of Carol’s arms, and gave a quick look to the clock on the wall, “I need to go. Visiting hours start in twenty minutes.”

The group watched Jan as she left. Carol waited until Jan had shut the door behind her.

“O.K., we need to make this quick because we only have a couple minutes before the rest of the class starts showing up.”

“I’m surprised they aren’t here already.” Alice looked out the windows and her eyes fixed on Jan, across the gym at the daycare center, checking her children out for the day.

“The dirty bomb attacks are becoming more frequent,” Carol began. “We can’t start carrying gasmasks because that would be too conspicuous. But, if you can fold up some fabric, moisten it, and hold it over your face and nose it can keep you from breathing in large amounts of Drug Z until help arrives.”

“Hey, she left her bag.” Taylor, a tall blond woman, grabbed Jan’s bag and held it up to Alice who was closest to the door. Alice didn’t respond.

“What is Jan doing with all the kids? Where’s the sitter?” Alice took a few steps toward the windows. The entire gym was empty. “Where’s everyone?”

Jan led the children through the front door. She didn’t look back before closing the door and running down the hall.

Alice turned to Taylor, “What’s in the–“

A small, distinct beep interrupted Alice’s question.

 

Alice felt like she’d been tossed into a cement mixer set on high. Her ears were ringing and she felt blood dripping down her earlobes. The side of her head and face throbbed where she’d been thrown against the door. The tight pain in her lungs reminded her of the danger still posed by Drug Z. Alice held her breath and reached for the towel that had been blown off her shoulder.

She still needed water. Alice tried to stand and retrieve some from the drinking fountain next to the door but the change in elevation made her vomit all over her towel. Alice lay in front of the door and pressed the vomit soaked towel to her mouth and nose. This was no time to be picky about liquids.

The wall of windows still stood, but each of the panes was riddled with cracks and sprayed with blood. Six motionless bodies lay strewn about the blast radius. Taylor was missing both her arms and most of the front side of her body.  Carol lay against the equipment locker with her spine twisted at an impossible angle. Bits of skin and hair were plastered to the walls and floor.

Alice fought the urge to lower her hand from her makeshift mask and just go to sleep. Her eyes kept trying to close until she noticed movement on the other side of the room. Carol was trying to sit up. When that didn’t work, she rolled over onto her stomach.

“Carol!” Alice could feel her mouth move but she couldn’t hear a thing; coupled with the pain in her chest and lungs, she couldn’t tell if she was screaming or whispering. “Are you ok?”

Carol didn’t respond. Instead, Carol pulled herself over to where Taylor’s body lay twitching and took a big bite out ofTaylor’s thigh.

That’s when Alice did the unthinkable. She passed out.

 

Alice woke to the sensation of being pushed across the floor. Someone was opening the door behind her. Her makeshift, puke-stained mask had fallen away from her face and every inch of her skin burned with an unbearable itch. One black-booted foot casually bumped the back of her head as its owner shuffled farther into the room.

Alice opened her eyes. Carol was only a foot away now, dragging her limp legs behind her; her dead eyes on the open door and the man who’d just stepped inside. Two of the others had woken and were finishing off Taylor’s body.

The black-booted man gave the door another push and Alice took the opportunity to roll onto her belly and push her face against her towel. The man stepped forward and stuck the barrel of his AR-15 against the flaking flesh of Carol’s forehead.

“Sorry, babe, the handicapped need not apply.” The black-booted man pulled the trigger and Carol’s head hit the floor with a wet thunk. “Quick, grab the other two; they’ve got some work to do.”

Alice’s head swam in a fog between fear and hunger as she watched six men in riot gear struggle to wrangle her former comrades. Her thoughts came to her in rudimentary words and crude images. Food. Streets. Terror. Plan.

The black-booted man watched his teammates drag Alice’s friends out the front door then lifted the mask of his helmet and took one last look at the room. As he turned to leave, Alice looped her towel around his ankle and pulled. The man managed a surprised grunt before his teeth smashed against the drinking fountain and he fell onto his back against the doorframe.

The pain and nausea were gone and Alice was on him in an instant. The black-booted man tried to shoot but she was too close and he was too scared. The bullet barely grazed Alice’s temple as she leaned in close and bit his lips right off his face.

*******

To vote for this story, send an email to: horroraddicts@gmail.com with the subject line: WWW. Voting ends October 7th, 2013, 11:59a, PST.

WWW Contestant 9: Julianne Snow

The following text is posted as part of HorrorAddicts.net‘s annual Wicked Women Writers Challenge.
This text is presented as is, from the author, with no editing.
Contestants should be judged on text, audio, and use of the challenge items listed. Please read the bottom of this post for voting instructions. Audio is playing at HorrorAddicts.net, #94.

Julianne Snow – Not All Jacks are Created Equal

Disaster –  Super Volcano

Location – Commuter Train

Helpful Item – Bottle of Jack Daniels

Disability – Naked

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 Not All Jacks Are Created Equal…

Julianne Snow

Why won’t this idiot get off of me? As I pushed him forcefully back, I felt the cool rush of air enter the space between our bodies. Like I actually cared if he was done or not!

I have to admit I was extremely exasperated by this point. Surely this asshat had felt the jolt like I had? I know my butt was the one on the edge of the sink, but how could he have not? It shook the entire train or at least I assumed it had given that all the cars were connected.

I need this fucker to get off of me so I can get dressed and figure out what is going on. I hope we didn’t hit another careless pedestrian… That was when he hit me. While I was shocked by the violence, I wasn’t truly surprised by it either. I didn’t know this jerk apart from the small moments we’d shared across the aisle from each other for the past six months. His name was Jack, he was gorgeous and I was single; sometimes things happen.

And it had happened today on our ride home. How I got myself into these situations was always beyond me, but I have to live up to the fact that I attract trouble.

The knock of his fist dazed me long enough for him to gather my clothes and duck out of the tiny bathroom we had shared for the short moments of our tryst.

Fuck! My clothes! What the fuck was I going to do now with nothing to wear?

At least the idiot hadn’t taken my purse or tote bag. That was something to be thankful for, right? Pulling out the bottle of Jack I’d purchased before getting on the train that evening, I took a long swill and as it burned down the back of my throat, it reminded me that life had the knack for kicking me in the face when I least expected it.

How the fuck am I going to get off this train unnoticed now? I was talking to myself, swallowing more of the amber alcohol than I probably should have given the circumstances. But then, what the fuck did I care? Some asshole had just punched me in the face and stolen my clothes. And I had been wearing my favourite dress too! A vintage Diane von Furstenberg I’d found for a steal in a charity shop a few years ago.

I took another long swallow and returned the cap to the bottle before sliding it back into my bag. It was time to face the rest of the train in all of my naked glory. Hopefully someone would be nice enough to offer me their jacket…

Who the fuck am I kidding? No one is going to offer me anything. I was talking to myself again but the action of it helped calm me down a bit. At least I still have my shoes…

I started to laugh heartily. Here I was, standing naked in a tiny bathroom on my way home thinking life was looking up because I still had my shoes. At least I hadn’t lost my sense of humour – yet.

The train rocked with another jolt and through the door I heard panic begin to spread. It was an odd mix of raised voices and shouts of disbelief. What the hell was going on out there?

Gathering my wits about me, I opened the door to the bathroom, grateful that it swung inward and peeked around its edge. I could see people trying to run down the small passageway in both directions, having to slow down just enough to let each other pass. Their faces betrayed a growing sense of panic and it frightened me. Had something really terrible happened?

My brain ran through all kinds of scenarios, but I quickly discarded most of them as completely stupid. Whatever it was couldn’t be so bad; we were still moving.

The force of the full stop threw me forward into the sink’s metal edge with enough force to leave a welt. The door swung free and slapped me on the ass, propelling me further against the sink and plastering my face against the grimy mirror.

I heard the screaming clearly now without the sound of the wheels on the rails in the background. Did I just hear what I think I heard?

A volcano?

I pried myself away from my own reflection and grabbed my purse and bag. Holding each of them in the best semblance of modesty I could attain, I cautiously inched out into the passageway.

Fairly soon my attempts at modesty were forgotten as I fought to hold onto my belongings amidst the rush of people. The doors to the cars had opened and people were fleeing the sanctity of the train in increasing numbers.

Not knowing what was going on and not trusting my ears since the idea of a volcano was pure lunacy, I fought the throngs of panicked people to an empty bank of seats. I wanted to sit down for a moment and shuffle through the information being thrust at me from all directions. It crossed my mind I should exit the train as well, but the cool temperature of the fall evening kept me inside – at least for the moment.

As I sat there, collecting my thoughts and watching the people run in the direction we had been travelling from, I couldn’t help but wonder why. What had spooked them all so much?

I heard a rumble in the background, but assumed it was a natural occurrence – something I hadn’t heard over the din of the train in the 6 years I had been riding it during my commute.

Then it hit me—maybe the train was on fire! That would explain the jolts I’d experienced while in the bathroom and even the noise I heard now. There must have been an explosion in one of the forward cars and here I lingered in the false sanctity of the train like an idiot.

Feeling the panic grow in my stomach, I made for the exit, believing I only had moments to escape. There were still people fleeing from the forward cars of the train, but none of them spared my nakedness a second glance.

As I stepped down from the car, thinking the drop was awfully far given the fact the train was not at a station with a platform, I stole a look toward the front of the train. The sight stopped me cold.

Those screams of panic and disbelief I had heard were not wrong. A volcano was erupting in close proximity to the train. The sight was astounding.

In an instant, I felt the heat of the event against my skin. I witnessed the flakes of ash as they floated to the ground. It was a mother-fucking volcano and it was erupting only a few miles from where I stood.

My nakedness now felt like a serious disadvantage – how would I protect my delicate skin from the heat and the ash that fell? What about burning embers? I couldn’t even think as more people ran by me, one of them crashing into me, propelling me backward against the bottom step I had just hopped down from.

I heard the crack as much as I felt it. Pain radiated up my back and into my brain while numbness permeated through my legs. I looked down and saw the odd angle created by my left leg as I slid to the ground in a heap. The resulting pop shook my body for the briefest of moments.

Fuck! It was the only word that fit the circumstances. I couldn’t feel my legs and my back hurt more than my last Brazilian wax.

No one noticed me on the ground in their haste to flee and I didn’t shout my insistence they see me either. I was going to die in that spot, dressed in the suit God had given me and there was nothing I could do.

Except drink of course. Opening the tote I had gingerly protected in the fall, I withdrew the cool bottle of Jack Daniels. Unscrewing the cap, I raised the bottle to my lips and let the fire spread through my stomach.

With a massive expulsion of ash and smoke, the volcano burped flames skyward. Rivers of red began to stream down the sides of the mountain, flowing freely and consuming whatever they touched.

The screams of those bolting dulled as they concentrating on escape and I was left in the relative quiet of the natural disaster. The lava flowed faster than I could have imagined and within short minutes it had reached the front of the train.

Molten rock met the metal in a fight to the death, the train easily losing the battle, shifting slightly in its tracks. With no means of escape, or the time to finish the bottle, I drank as much as I could before hot tears welled in my eyes.

The first kiss of scorching lava sent knives of pain along my nerves but they soon burned away as my skin succumbed. I remember feeling the pain and wishing my body would just give out, but it wasn’t going to be that easy. I watched in slow motion as the molten rock covered my body, eating away my flesh and melting my bones. Knowing I only had time for one last sip, I took it as the meat of my forearm seared, then separated from the bone. The weight of the bottle proved too much and it dragged my arm into the sea of death surrounding me. In that moment, it was over. My death wasn’t much more than the melting away of skin and bones until nothing remained.

Had anyone mentioned death on a volcano’s terms would help me in the afterlife, I would have laughed at them. But to be honest, burning alive has made dealing with the heat and humidity of Hell slightly easier to tolerate…

*******

To vote for this story, send an email to: horroraddicts@gmail.com with the subject line: WWW. Voting ends October 7th, 2013, 11:59a, PST.

WWW Contestant 8: Rebecca Snow

The following text is posted as part of HorrorAddicts.net‘s annual Wicked Women Writers Challenge.
This text is presented as is, from the author, with no editing.
Contestants should be judged on text, audio, and use of the challenge items listed. Please read the bottom of this post for voting instructions. Audio is playing at HorrorAddicts.net, #94.

Rebecca Snow

Disaster – Bio- Terrorism

Location – Golf Course

Helpful Item – Scissors

Disability – No Medicine

*******

 

Hazard

Rebecca Snow

The vines peeked over the sills of Meadow Haven Golf Course’s club house and wound their way toward the shingled roof.

“What do you think it is,” Megan asked.  She stood before the picture window and watched the rapid growth while trying to ignore the creepy feeling that her body was being scrutinized.

“Maybe some scientist seeded the clouds with Miracle Grow.  That powdery, green rain got on everything.”  Carl leaned on the counter and dragged his sweaty hands across the glass case as he let his gaze roam Megan’s backside.  “I’ll have to scrub the stuff off my car.  How much would it take for you to do that wearing a white t-shirt?”

Megan cringed.  “The treasury hasn’t made enough yet.”  She turned to face the leering young man.  “You drive the Hummer, right?”

Carl licked his lips and nodded.

“You’ll have to find it first before you can wash it.”  She motioned with her thumb toward the lot before pulling her sweater tighter around her shoulders.  “Looks like the weeds are hungry.”

With perfect timing, glass popped and metal twisted as the runaway foliage crushed a vehicle that had been parked illegally in the handicapped spot.  Carl jumped the counter and pressed his face against the window, his nose smashed like a four year old’s looking into a toy store.

“Aw, man!”  He banged on the pane with his fists.  “Somebody’s gonna have to pay for that.”

“I’m sure your daddy will be able to afford the repairs.”  Megan slid behind the counter and tapped her fingertips on the greasy glass.

Carl’s shoulders tensed.  Megan counted several breaths before she saw him relax.  Spinning in a precision move she was sure he’d learned from his stint in military school, he turned.  A sneer spread across his face.

“And why do you say that?” he asked, taking a single step toward her.

Megan shrugged and dropped to retrieve the glass cleaner and a wad of paper towels from the lower cabinet.  When she stood, Carl was pressed against the opposite side of the counter, his eyebrows pulled together in a scowl.  Megan flinched and sprayed a stream of vinegar scented cleaner on the handprints.  She mopped the towels through the spatter of particles, accomplishing little more than spreading the grime into circular smears.

“I asked you a question,” Carl shouted, grabbing her wrist.  “Why do you think my father would pay for my car?”

Megan twisted free and pulled open a drawer.  She grabbed a pair of scissors and spun, the blades nicking her skin as she pointed them toward Carl’s approaching form.

“Because he paid for…your get out of jail free card when you…put Mandy in a coma.”  Megan wheezed through her own snarl.

What passed for a smile in a back alley spread across Carl’s face.  He took a single step toward Megan.  She backed away from him and skittered around the counter.

“The cops didn’t have any evidence to link me to that.”

“You asked her out…that morning.  She told me, and she’d called me…when you picked her up.”

He took another step forward, his lips pulled together in a thin line.  He stared wide doe eyes at her.

“I never made it to her house.”  Carl tilted his head and mewled.  “My car wouldn’t start.”

Megan glanced over her shoulder as the room darkened.  The vegetation shaded the windows like blinds.  She caught a glimpse of Carl’s flattened ride before the green leaves blocked the entire scene.

“Liar,” she hissed and threw herself into the front door.  She pressed with all her weight as the overgrown branches blocked her way.  “Stay away…from me.”

Carl strode across the room.  As he reached for her, the door gave way and Megan stumbled onto the moss-padded sidewalk.

“Come back here,” Carl called as he sprinted to the door.

Megan kicked at the winding vines and ran, only turning when she heard Carl scream.  Threads of honeysuckle wound around his wrists and ankles and lifted him into the air.  He shrieked twice before an arm popped loose.  His body flopped like a ragdoll when the creepers dropped him to the ground.  She didn’t know if he was dead or just unconscious.  A strand of thorny rosebush coiled through his blood and into his hair.  Megan bolted toward the course.

The manicured lawn had grown to her waist.  Tendrils of long grass tickled her ankles and thighs as she lurched through them.  She dove into one of the larger sand traps.  In the relative safety of the hazard, she tried to comprehend her surroundings.  The rough that ringed the course had become a jungle.  The trees had grown to resemble the Redwoods Megan remembered from her trip to California.  The vines that hung from them could have supported Tarzan and his whole family without complaint.  A few dandelions at the edge of the lawn dwarfed several overturned golf carts as the mountain laurel’s massive blossoms crushed the canopies.

The grass continued to stretch toward the ever-diminishing sunlight.  Several blades braved the sand bunker and touched Megan’s knee.  She wheezed, opened the scissors, and snipped.  The stems recoiled, neon green oozed from the wounds as their amputated ends browned in the sand.  Megan retreated to the center of her oasis and dropped to her knees.  Distant screams echoed through the lush woodlands that had been city streets that morning.  A stray wind murmured through the dense leaves.

Megan rasped in a breath of air and patted her shorts’ pockets.  Her inhaler had been in her purse under the counter.  She stood and peered over the waves of tall grass.  What she could see of the clubhouse reminded her of the old paper route and the abandoned houses that had been swallowed by Kudzu years before she was born.  A tendril of lawn brushed her ear.  Her inhalation burned in her lungs.

“Get away,” she coughed.  She snapped the scissors closed around the shaft of green.  The wounded shoot pulled back into the thickening wall of meadow.

A pop sounded overhead.  A flash of orange glow lit up the postage stamp patch of sky left in her line of sight.  A deepening green fog sifted through the air around her.  The plant life twitched like a waking baby.  Vines and branches seemed to inhale the hazy mist.  Megan’s chest tightened.

She gasped and toppled to the sand.  Her hands dug through lintless pockets.  All hope for an overlooked inhaler died.  Pulling her knees up to her chest, she rested her head on them and tried to focus on her breathing.

A slender arm of foliage caressed her neck.  Megan hiccupped a gasp and shot to her feet.  She clamped the clippers around the slithering frond and squeezed.  She sawed with the little shears until the ragged remains retreated.  A dot-to-dot pattern bloomed in front of her.  She watched as the black spots morphed into a Rorschach configuration. Rubbing her eyes with the heels of her hands, she blinked most of the spots away, but her clouded vision remained.

Sinking onto the sand, Megan tried to catch her breath as she felt two more weeds stroke her legs.  She crushed both of the invaders with the dulling, metallic blades and rolled on her side.  The edge of the hazard seemed to be holding back most of the plant life.

Her neck tingled as though she were being watched.  She turned her head.  An endless wall of vegetal arms waited.  She swatted at the encroaching shoots with one hand and clutched her chest with the other.  As she gasped to fill her lungs, a vine wound around her ankle.  She heard the foliage whispering before the blotchy patch of sky went dark.

*******

To vote for this story, send an email to: horroraddicts@gmail.com with the subject line: WWW. Voting ends October 7th, 2013, 11:59a, PST.

WWW Contestant 7: Anastasia Marie Robinson

The following text is posted as part of HorrorAddicts.net‘s annual Wicked Women Writers Challenge.
This text is presented as is, from the author, with no editing.
Contestants should be judged on text, audio, and use of the challenge items listed. Please read the bottom of this post for voting instructions. Audio is playing at HorrorAddicts.net, #94.

Anastasia Robinson – Motherhood

Disaster –  BUGS!

Location – Circus

Helpful Item – Backpack

Disability – Small child or baby to care for

*******

 

Motherhood

by Marie Robinson

 

Well aren’t I just pathetic?” Sable thought as she slithered through the hordes of couples. There weren’t just couples—there were parents pulling along tearful toddlers and packs of chattering preteens—but surely Sable was the only one at the carnival by herself.

What was the occasion for the festivities anyway? Sable searched for an explanation in the tattered, faded banners and in the flashing marquees, but she found none. However, she did find something that caught her eye. Through the revolving rusty beams of the Ferris wheel she spied a wooden sign painted red with bold black letters. It read, “Oddities”.

I suppose ‘Freak Show’ isn’t politically correct these days,” Sable thought to herself as she headed down the narrow alley over which the sign hung.

A muddy, hay-strewn aisle was lined by fluttering red and white tents. As Sable gingerly pulled open one of the tent flaps she saw that it was populated by under a dozen people crowded around a figure perched on a stool. It was a man, who Sable guessed to be around sixty years of age, though it was hard to tell since seemingly every inch of his skin was covered in tattoos. He was naked from the waist up—his baggy skin sporting a rainbow of ink, its color worn by the sun.

Sable shook off a strange ominous feeling that followed her as she backed out the door of the tent and moved on to the next one. Inside this tent there was a small, circular stage with a ring of men gathered around, their eyes set hungrily upon a woman who danced on the stage. Given that she was only clad in a sheer, black lace bra and a thong, you could see nearly all of her ivory-skinned, voluptuous body. Her hair hung in inky black curls, her pouting lips painted red; she looked weary, and with closed eyes she appeared as though she could be dancing in her sleep.

As she twirled around, her arms stretched lazily above her head, Sable stifled a gasp with the palm of her hand. At the bottom of the woman’s spine, just above her soft, round bottom there sprouted a long, flesh-colored protrusion. It was stiff and thin, and hung down to her thighs—a tail.

Sable turned and tried to leave as quickly but politely as possible. “One more and then I’m out of here,” Sable thought, her morbid curiosity getting the better of her. She pushed into the next tent; this one was packed full of people crowded around a stage similar to the one in the last.

A wiry man loomed above them, and before him on the stage was the most horrid creature Sable had ever seen. Standing about three feet tall, Sable could not decide if it more resembled a slug or a maggot. The skin—slimy, milky, and somewhat translucent—was stretched tightly over the fat being; the pulsing veins and organs seemed as though they would tear right through and flood forth onto the audience. Two rows of sharp, needle-like digits flexed down the length of its body and it appeared to have no eyes or mouth.

“Now, keep your distance, folks,” sang the announcer. “This here is a new, unidentified species and we haven’t the slightest inclination as to its nature. Hell, we don’t even know what it eats! Could be you if you don’t back up, sir!”

The announcer jabbed a man in the chest with his cane that pressed himself up against the stage.

“This gorgeous feller was discovered in a barn in Iowa—the farmer who found him claims the creature came from outer space! I don’t have a better guess—do you? Hey, buddy, back up!”

The same man in the crowd was stepping closer again; he reached a hand up toward the thing. A low hissing issued from the bug and where before there appeared only tight skin, a small hole had opened. It continued to gape wider, revealing a round mouth lined with small, jagged teeth.

“Good God, get back!”

But before the inquisitive man could stumble backwards the creature sprang upon him. The thin, sharp legs of the beast imbedded themselves in the man’s sides, and the mouth closed around his face. While the man writhed in agony under the monster’s firm hold, a cream-colored, curved stinger grew from its abdomen. The dripping end disappeared into the man’s stomach with a cruel jab. The man collapsed to the floor, the creature still holding tight to him.

Sable jumped as a bullet ripped through the beast. The announcer was now toting a shotgun; he fired another bullet into the bug as it leapt from the corpse towards him.

The monster fell dead in a bloody pulp at the announcer’s feet.

On the ground, the man’s corpse was violently twitching and thick black liquid oozed from his gory wound. With a sick explosion, insects the length of a forearm came crawling from his chest. They were smaller versions of their mother, and the color of ink. They moved quickly along the ground and each sought out a pair of legs to scurry up to repeat the same grotesque process, plunging their stingers into the bellies of the awestruck crowd.

Sable stumbled backward, too horrified to scream while the announcer kept firing away at the beasts until a horde of them crawled upon the stage and overtook him; he disappeared in a seething black mass.

Sable’s stifled scream finally ripped from her throat as something bumped against the back of her legs. She whirled around, her heart frozen by the notion that it could be one of those ravenous insects. What she found, however, was somehow more disturbing.

It was a stroller with a silent, sleeping infant in tow. Sable searched the crowd wildly for the parents, but everyone within the tent was lying dead or violated, and the few that remained alive were fleeing.

Sable paused for a moment of trepidation. She knew next to nothing about how to care for a child, especially one that wasn’t even hers! Then again, she couldn’t just leave an infant to be massacred by these monsters…

Noticing a slit in the tent, Sable grabbed hold of the stroller’s handles and quickly wheeled the baby toward it. The opening led them to an aisle of abandoned ticket booths. Screams mixed with the maddening calliope.

She looked down at the child and felt a rush of panic, wondering what she had gotten herself into—but an unexpected feeling of courage drowned out the uncertainty. She would not abandon this baby.

Looking over the stroller, Sable noticed a backpack shoved into a compartment above the wheels. When she retrieved it she found that it wasn’t very heavy and seemingly only contained a few articles. She unzipped the backpack and rifled through, pulling out each object her hand found to examine it.

Within she found a bottle, half-filled with formula, a pack of diapers and wipes, a can of bug-spray—

Why not?” Sable thought and doused herself with the stuff. She rounded the front of the stroller and knelt before the baby. Pressing a palm softly over the child’s closed eyes, she sprayed a layer of insect repellent on the baby’s smooth, mahogany skin. The baby’s peaceful face immediately crinkled as the pungent mist rained over it and the eyes fluttered open.

Tears welled in the almond orbs and small, choking cries sputtered from the infant’s mouth.

Sable’s chest tightened as the cries turned to wailing. She shushed the baby, wordlessly begging it to stop, but she was helpless. She lifted her gaze over the stroller and saw one of the black insects—already twice the size it had started at—slither out from the tent. It knew where they were and began twisting toward them on dozens of clicking legs.

Sable felt her insides contracting in terror but managed to snatch up the backpack and feel blindly inside for something—anything—to save them. Frustrated, unable to recognize any of the objects within by touch alone she overturned the backpack and dumped it onto the ground. She was pleasantly surprised when a handgun fell from the bag into the dust.

With no time to think Sable picked it up, cocked it and fired at the monster. She hit it—and the bug flew onto its back, long body flailing as liquid leaked from it, until it finally curled up and froze into a lifeless ball.

An exasperated laugh of disbelief escaped Sable’s mouth as she lowered the gun and whirled around, shoving the firearm down into the backpack.

“Let’s get out of here,” Sable wheezed through her burning chest. Pushing the stroller she blocked out the sounds and sights of chaos all around her. The horrible orchestra that was created by screaming, crying, ripping, shredding, mixed with the maniacal calliope turned into a dull fuzz in her ears. The collapsed tents, broken windows, dilapidated structures and blazing fires were unseen by her; Sable had eyes only for her destination—the Ferris wheel.

Somehow they made it there alive. The operator was surely long gone; the Ferris wheel spun in a slow, continuous ring. Sable swung the strap of the backpack over one shoulder and picked up the baby, whose little face was beat red and covered in tears.

Two corpses occupied the first carriage that drifted by—a teenage couple whose stomachs were savagely torn open. Sable gagged, took a deep breath, and waited for the next carriage. It was empty; she scrambled into it, keeping a hold of the baby as it screamed in her ear.

As they were lifted up towards the sky Sable rummaged through the backpack, searching with a clawed hand until her grasp claimed a pacifier. She popped it in the baby’s mouth, silencing its piercing cries. Sable peered down into the child’s eyes, which were wells that never seemed to dry; she suddenly felt a calm, a warmth, a peace.

“I don’t know your name,” she said softly. “I don’t even know if you are a boy or a girl yet. But I promise, I’ll keep you safe.”

She hugged the child tight to her, and just as they were perched on the peak of the arc the carriage stopped and the whole carnival plunged into darkness, leaving them nestled up in the stars.

*******

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