Archive for the ‘monsters’ Category
Once upon a time, I walked the streets of New Bedlam with many of my friends. I’m sure some of you will remember those cold, dark streets, where anything could be creeping around the next corner. Here’s a story from those times. In fact it was my first New Bedlam tale. Hope you enjoy today’s free read.
The following account was found in a journal discovered at a New Bedlam heritage site. According to town archives, the original homestead that stood on the property was gutted by fire in 1895. Somehow this journal survived, with all its pages intact.
* * *
Hillary helped me arrange my iron tools in a circle just outside the front door. No clouds in the sky means no threat of rain tonight, so they’ll be safe. I pray the spring storms don’t come anytime soon. We forgot to lay some iron out before the barn, so I fear what it might do to the cows. How I hope we don’t find a mess in the morning.
We could hear it last night, laughing and shouting threats from underneath our bedroom window. I was terrified it would try to get in through the back entrance, but the lock on that door is made of iron so that should keep it out. It hasn’t yet tried the two windows at the front of our cabin.
Its racket woke up our little Mary. She came down from her tiny room in the loft and asked to sleep with us. She could hear it scratching at her wall. I assume it must’ve climbed up to the roof to try our chimney.
I still cannot discern what we have done to make it so angry with us. Hillary and I always left payment for its hard work around our home and farm. We left it bread and honey, milk and some fresh baked biscuits—every night it had a feast, as requested. How did we insult the creature?
Mind you, we are in New Bedlam, and strange occurrences are frequent in this town. I thought moving here would be a fresh start for Hillary, Mary, and I, after we lost so much back in Alberta. Now, I’m not so sure.
Speaking with Rose Trotten—who some townsfolk fear and avoid, as she’s rumored to be a witch in trade with Satan—I learned this area has a history of tragedy. I fear we made a grave mistake coming here. Rose offered me advice on dealing with the creature, so I can at least be thankful for that. She believes something in the town could be warping its intent, corrupting it. This place is starting to stink with a festering malevolence.
I can’t completely blame the town, though. My grave mistake came when I met it at the crossroads and offered it passage in my wagon. I let it in my home and gave it food. It wasn’t until it took off its hat and brushed back its shaggy hair that I noticed its face. The creature—then posing as a man—looked exactly like me. This gave me quite a shock.
It revealed itself as a Fetch—a co-walker to my spirit, a double of my soul. A denizen of Fey, it claimed to be. Was I naïve to take it at its word? In truth, I was afraid of it by then, afraid not to. When it offered work in exchange for a place to stay and some food, I chose not to deny it. My next fatal mistake came there. I gave it too much will over my home and hearth.
I can see it now, from my bedroom window. I watch it as Hillary and I prepare for sleep. It still resembles me somewhat, but its appearance is more akin to animal than human now. Its pug-nosed face has taken on a piggish appearance. Its yellow eyes remind me of a wolf. When I catch a glimpse of it by daylight, its skin shines an odd, light blue. At this moment, it sits in a looming willow and peers in at me. I clutch the iron spike, one of a few I’ve stolen from the railway yard. Should it decide to try the windows tonight, I will be ready.
Copyright © 2012 Louise Bohmer. All rights reserved. No part of this short story may be distributed, shared, or posted online without the author’s written permission.
The wonderful Carole Lanham, author of The Whisper Jar, has just reviewed the Old School anthology. Carole had some great things to say about this Old School horror collection. She was kind enough to detail what she enjoyed about the stories. Here are her thoughts on my two contributions to Old School:
“Last, but not least, Louise Bohmer lends a haunting touch (along with pitch-perfect editing) to Old School, providing two ghostly tales that ought to be whispered again and again around a crackling campfire on a dark dark night. Oh boy, and they’re a pair of historical pieces too! I can’t help it. I’m a sucker for them. So okay, The Legend of Pierson Point, 1979 doesn’t go back that far in time, just long enough to drape the whole thing in the sort of disquieting fog that tends to whirl around all nasty bits of urban legend, but not long enough to make you feel as though you’re safely beyond it’s spectral grasp. This story reminds me of standing in front of a mirror while murmuring BLOODY MARY BLOODY MARY BLOODY MARY… It’s hard to get any more Old School than that. Then, there’s the fetchingly named, When the Tylwyth Teg Walk Among Us, in which grave-robbers must face the music in 1840 Glastonbury Tor. It’s fearful stuff and a great story to finish things up.” –Carole Lanham, author of The Whisper Jar
You can read the full review here: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/278825067
Much thanks, Carole!
And you can grab a copy of Old School for your Kindle by clicking the link here or book cover below. Want a print copy? Click here. It’s also for sale on Smashwords during Read An Ebook Week. 50% off, and only one day left!
If you haven’t checked it out already, be sure to read Carole Lanham Talks About Poisoned Powdered Sugar.
Also much thanks to Carole for listing me as one of her choices for Women in Horror Month!
This free read is fresh meat. An early version of today’s free read once made honorable mention in a long ago Apex Magazine Halloween contest. However, since then this free read has been nipped and tweaked. It’s a PG-13 free read. I say that only because I’m paranoid of irate parents emailing me. Anyway, on with the shiny new fiction.
by Louise Bohmer
Before Holloway ripped his lover’s eyes out and feasted on her essence, he wanted to give her a night to remember. Her last memory before death should be pleasant–a token to carry her over to the other side, something to comfort her during the transition.
Her murder would be as quick and painless as possible. Sure, he didn’t care for humans, but Holloway didn’t wish to make them suffer needlessly. He was smart enough to recognize the glorified homo-erectus was a necessary evil in the grander scheme of the universe.
He lit two cigarettes and passed her one. “What do you picture when I say ‘extraterrestrial’? Little grey men with wraparound eyes and egg-shaped heads?”
They’d been going at it hot and heavy, but before Holloway fucked this one to death he craved some philosophical talk. Soon enough, he’d bring her to climax as he ripped off the mask and showed her his true countenance. A face that would make her heart explode as she came. The combination of pure terror and pleasure would boil her essence to the surface, where it would bleed through her porcelain skin.
Holloway would lap it up from her cheeks, using it to steal her form, absorb her being, for cover in tonight’s scheduled mischief making. He had a date set for some genetic manipulation that was long overdue, and absorbing a human mask would save him the wasted time and effort of constant shapeshifting. He needed all the extra time he could get.
The plum-haired goth shrugged. “Never thought much about aliens.”
Holloway leaned in close to her. “Those little grey bastards get all the credit, but there are thousands of other inter-dimensional and extraterrestrial life forms mixing and mating with you humans on a regular basis.” He rolled his eyes at her. “You have no idea.”
Her intense stare burned into him with electric-blue fire, and in the dim light of their cheap motel room he could see fear beginning its dance inside her. Holloway grew hard with desire and his mask–this one stolen from a pedophile who posed as the pillar of his community–slipped just a bit, his true face eager to burst through its seams.
Guilt filled him too. The thick scent of her fear, heavy and meaty, was intoxicating. While part of him nursed remorse for her slaughter, so much of him basked in the primal rush to follow.
“What are you talking about?” She backed away from him, her tiny feet skittering and slipping on the sheets.
“Did you like mythology, folklore, when you were a child?” He kissed her forehead, as his arms split open at the wrists and tore a ragged seam up to his shoulders. He grabbed her by the throat and pinned her to the headboard. Birch-bark pale biceps, near thick as tree trunks and of wooden flesh, ruined the businessman mask as they ripped through.
She managed shaky words between sobs. “What do you mean? Like Greek gods?”
“Not exactly, love.” His fingers of root and bone trailed up her thighs. His tongue of moss slipped down her throat. She struggled weakly beneath his eight foot frame, as he entered her and pumped hard. Holloway felt a pang of pity for the goth, deep in his heartcore. When she climaxed, his jagged fangs clamped through her tongue, cleaving it clean off its root. The first sweet nectar of her essence flooded his mouth, and he groaned.
He worked his magicks on her to make her death satisfying, but still shocking enough to the psyche to give him what he needed. Alien witchcraft, Holloway liked to call it. Adrenaline was a marvelous and curious thing, and it worked to his advantage when it came to the necessary combination of titillation and terror. Endorphins worked in conjunction with his whispered sex incantations to bring the essence of his lover-prey within reach. He could smell more of her spirit flowing strong, crawling up from her belly. Boiling just behind the eye sockets, where it was easiest to pluck out by the roots and let flow free.
“We helped create your race. We’re partly responsible for the thing you call a ‘soul’ or ‘spirit’, and you don’t even know it.” He smoothed a hand over her sweaty brow as she thrashed and screamed silent screams. For a moment, he regretted robbing her the comfort of her shrieks. Everyone deserved release.
Holloway yanked her baby blues from their sockets and her essence–the same color as that piercing sapphire gaze she wore in life–gushed out and down her cheeks. He clamped his furry mouth over one seeping hole in her face. His tongue burrowed deep into her brain, sucking in this biological coating she would no longer need. He groaned in satisfaction.
* * * *
Holloway checked his new female form in the cracked mirror taped to the wall beside the closet. He examined his lush curves and creamy skin. He tweaked his nipples through the sheer, black shirt and smiled. Nice boobs.
Lifting his nose as he opened the door, he sniffed the night air for the scent of the Mother of Evolution. She’d just returned to her motel room, three doors down from his. It was time to move, take care of the task he’d been sent here to complete.
Together, he and Gaia would birth the rebels: offspring who would help bring this mixed up human race to the next step in their evolution. He and the Mother would have to save humanity’s sorry mortal asses before it was too late, thus saving their own dimensions a shitload of natural and political disaster.
Humans had a way of messing with space and time when they didn’t know enough about it to be playing around, and it was creating havoc with the natural equilibrium of other worlds. All their messing with nuclear bombs and the hadron collider wasn’t just causing blips in Earth’s space-time continuum. It was messing up harmony throughout existence.
The fae and snake people, part of a coalition of beings who created the human ‘spirit,’ were suffering the brunt of the Inter-Dimensional Diplomacy Senate’s wrath for conducting the experiment of boosting the ape-creature’s psyche, with just a small injection of their combined bio-ethers, so many millennia ago.
“This is your mess, Holloway, and you and that runaway bitch can clean it up. Concordia Discord, son. Chaos in one realm causes a ripple of turmoil throughout realities.” The Highest Elder’s shrill scream pierced his third eye, and Holloway almost fell on his ass as he tried to maneuver the six inch platforms the goth had been wearing.
He reflected over recent instructions from the Highest Elder:
“You need to be covert. I don’t want Gaia to remember who she is before you can corner her. She mustn’t recognize you. She’s buried deep within the human mask, our sources tell us. Don’t spook her or she may bolt.
“Go in wearing the mask of a woman. A small, vulnerable woman preferably. That will let her guard down.”
He fished a cigarette out of the goth’s purse and lit it, mumbling a reply to the Highest Elder around the filter. “How the hell do I impregnate her while I’m in the skin of a woman, smart guy?”
One of them needed to be in human skin for this fertilization to work. But would the mask survive? Would Gaia let it? Inter-dimensional kinds had long ago left behind the need for crude reproductive methods.
Holloway knocked at her door, and checked the parking lot over. Deserted. He was just about to kick at the door with his monster shoes when the entrance opened a crack.
A woman, shorter than the waif mask he wore, peered out at him. Her hair was as dark as the room engulfing her and it was bobbed beneath a tiny, pointed chin that made her look like a china doll. All she needed was a pink bow clipped at each temple.
Gaia’s mask looked nothing like the forceful beast within. The one he remembered so well. There wasn’t a trace of sleek scales or her ancient lizard eyes. Holloway winced at her façade of fragility, and at his own. They looked so like frightened children, searching for their mothers on a playground, rather than the great, inter-dimensional beings they were, who’d mastered arts far beyond homo sapien’s comprehension.
“H-hello there?” The mask frowned at him, and then gave a rapid barely-there smile. “Can I help you?”
“Ummm, yes. I mean, I hope so.” Holloway swallowed, and cursed himself for not thinking up an excuse for all this sooner. “See, my boyfriend kicked me out of our motel room.” He faked a few tears. “Asshole. Could I come in and call for a ride home?”
Gaia back up and looked like she was going to close the door.
“You can totally search my purse,” Holloway added desperately. “If you’re still afraid I’m carrying anything or whatever,” this he said seductively, leaning against the concrete wall to show off his stunning breasts, “you can search me.”
Gaia’s mask blushed, and Holloway wondered if the show of bashfulness was a ruse. Or was Gaia buried so deep within the skin she truly didn’t smell his inter-dimensional heat coming through his stolen flesh? He wouldn’t let his guard down.
Smiling, but dropping her wide-eyed gaze to the worn carpet, Gaia opened the door and gestured for him to enter. “Would you like a drink while you wait for your ride?”
He sighed and rubbed his eyes, smudging his mascara down his cheeks. It was time to get this over with. He’d have to do this quick if he wanted the mask to survive the insemination. There was still a chance Gaia would try to sabotage the pregnancy by destroying the mask. Really, Holloway couldn’t blame her. What higher level being wanted to find itself stuck in the skin of a hairless monkey for nine months, carrying around a half-human brat? The idea made him shudder.
He walked up behind her, stealthy and silent, while his true self broke through the dainty female form he wore. He wrapped his long fingers around the mask’s waist as he whispered frantic incantations and threw out psychic, sealing glamours, trying to trap Gaia in the human shell before she could set herself free.
“Don’t struggle, love. I know you’re in there, and I know you can hear me. You know why I’m here, and what we must do. Do you remember? I know you do.”
He heard the ripping of soft tissue, and Holloway smelled the perfume of inner meat and blood. He was too late. The dying mask twitched in his grasp as Gaia broke free from within. Holloway had failed.
The shredded mask fell to the carpet and the Mother of Evolution rose, like a phoenix, from the remains. “Oh yes, I remember all of it Holloway. Indeed, I remember, but do you? Obviously you don’t. The Highest Elder lied to get you here.
“Why do you think I’ve been running for so long, protecting you for all these centuries? I can run no longer. You’ve had your time to adjust. Our time has come.”
Oily black writhed and turned to forest green. Holloway watched her scales plump and take on a solid yet fluid shape. His heartcore did a strange flutter-beat.
Supple reptile fingers wrapped around his cock. “Come into me, love. Come into me.”
He couldn’t hold back the moan at her slippery touch. Visions, aeons gone, wafted into empty rooms in his mind.
* * * *
“You want me to what?”
“I’m sorry, Holloway, but I have the better temperament for taking lead in this mission. You’re more maternal, I’m more feral. You know that, even if you won’t admit it.”
“Not more feral,” he narrowed his eyes at her, and crossed thick arms over his wooden chest, “just crueler.”
She bit her serpentine lips, and shook her head at him. “That’s not fair.”
Holloway hadn’t experienced pain in quite some time, so when it ripped him apart and sucked him into Gaia’s bio-ether, smashing his own dense bio-ether to bits like a sledgehammer taken in the teeth, the odd sensation pleased him greatly. He remembered what it was to feel again.
He saw Gaia’s hypnotic green eyes in a dream, and it was then he recalled the fine print on that Treaty of Inter-Dimensional Diplomacy they’d signed so long ago. She talked him into it, with those bewitching lizard eyes and promises of great sex. Without much argument, he’d agreed to work as a melded partnership, on this millennia long mission. They’d play the role as one, rather than two, and he’d take the backseat. He’d be the mother, this time, and she’d be the protector.
* * * *
Gaia woke up with her face mashed into the soiled carpet, drenched in sweat and the afterbirth of her transformative mating with Holloway.
She moved to the full-length mirror hanging by the closet. The mixture of Holloway’s fae essence and her reptilian features made for a striking contrast in this temporary human-looking mask they’d created. Beautiful in an odd way, with exaggerated green eyes and a too-small nose.
Shapeshifting was necessary at this point, but before they went out to find themselves a sturdy, 100 percent human male mate, they’d need to find some sex kitten mask to steal for the insemination. They had to be in a human body for the pregnancy to take. And, they needed a pure human mate.
“Where should we start looking for a suitable mask, Holloway? We’re running out of daylight, and time.” She looked at the weak sunlight pouring in the curtains. They might have to send time back six months, a year or two, even though it was frowned on by the Elder Council and the Inter-Dimensional Senate. But, if they were going to complete this mission, it might mean breaking a few rules. They’d already wasted a handful of years.
Holloway found a comfortable place in the back of Gaia’s mind and settled there. “I still don’t see why we have to share a body on this one, or why I have to bare the brunt of these pregnancies.” He pouted.
She chuckled at her reflection and grabbed their purse off the nightstand. Then, she cooed soft words to him, trying to soothe his broken ego. “We’ve discussed it all before. If someone needs to separate, defend or go out and hunt, I’ve the hunter instincts. Let’s face it, you’re more nurturing, babe. You’re the brains, I’m the brawn.”
Holloway snorted, and it tickled her brain something fierce. She knew he was disgruntled about the combination of their bio-ethers, and the fact that her essence was taking the helm in this mission. But they needed a stronger female bio-ether mixed with just the right combination of male bio-ether, to combine with pure human DNA–nothing too diluted with offworld bio-ethers would do–for this conception to take. And for the children born to successfully receive the next genetic code that would give human’s another step up. Worlds within worlds were demanding the chaos infecting their existences be settled, and she and her partner only had 485 years left to finish the job.
“Don’t be sore, sweetheart.” She slid into the seat of their Corvette. “Aren’t you just happy to be back with me? I did try to save you from this for as long as I possibly could. That’s why I ran. I knew you weren’t happy with the Treaty conditions, and I was worried how it would affect our results. You needed time to forget, to adjust, to soften to the idea.”
“I’m sorry I snapped, hon.” Holloway sounded genuine. “I’ll keep my third eye peeled for a man-killer mask in thigh high boots, while you grab me a pack of smokes in that club over there.”
Gaia chuckled and sighed. “You won’t be able to smoke once we’re knocked up.”
Holloway grumbled something she couldn’t quite make out.
Acquiescing to his request, she guided the Corvette toward the club he’d pointed out.
Copyright © 2011 Louise Bohmer. All rights reserved. No part of this short story may be distributed, shared, or posted online without the author’s written permission.
Want more horrifying Louise fiction? Why not check out Old School? Fourteen short tales offered by David Dunwoody, Jackie Gamber, R. Scott McCoy,Natalie L. Sin, Horace James, Gregory L. Hall, and Louise Bohmer, all tied together by selected poems from Zombie Zak – Old School reminds one of terrors best not forgotten.
Within these pages, evil children terrorize, witches gather the teeth of the young, cosmic blobs eat the world, while creepy crawlies ruin a man’s life and a headless ghost seeks revenge. Wander down this spooky path with poems and stories that revive our nightmares about golems, harpies, and other creatures.
Be sure to ‘like’ the book on its Kindle page. It helps up our ranking!
Today’s guest post delights my satyr cohorts. They’re currently playing poker with Chuggie, and partying hard. I told them to clean up after themselves. That’s all I ask. Anyhoo, on with our guest blogger!
Brent Michael Kelley lives and writes in the Wisconsin Northwoods. He shares a home with such things as hairless dogs, a snake named Darth Batman, and the woman he married on Halloween. In addition to writing about his pal Chuggie, he likes writing story-poems, painting monsters, and making wine. Some say late at night, if you’re alone by a campfire, you can summon Brent by closing your eyes and saying his name eleven times. He insists this is not true and there’s no way it will work… yet.
Pay Brent a visit at: http://www.catbat.com/bmk/ or click on his pic above to check out his facebook.
The Birth of Chuggie
It was 2001 or 2002, I can’t be positive. I was an Art major at University of Wisconsin – Stout. One day my painting instructor told us about her muse, a woman who came and stood beside her while she painted. I admit I was fascinated and wanted a muse, too. Later that night, I went to work summoning one of my own. I’m sure I hoped for a hot chick in a bikini with a little attitude, but that’s not what I got.
First he told me only his name: Chuggie. It soon became clear Chuggie was quite intoxicated, a permanent condition. His voice sounded like gravel. I invited him to come visit again so I could find out more about him, and he obliged. He scowled at everything and always squinted. He had five horns and a chain across his chest.
Soon after, a bunch of classes in the Art Dept. took a field trip to some galleries in Minneapolis. I spent the day milling around with my girlfriend’s BFF, worshipping Dali paintings and scoffing at Mondrians. I gravitate towards dark or surreal art, and I’d taken in many wondrous examples that day. They swirled in my head.
On the bus ride back to school, I began to write in my sketchbook. It was a gloomy, foggy scene about Chuggie clawing his way through the brush and emerging in a field full of petrified wooden posts. He knew right away he’d stumbled into a Desecration. Little monsters skittered out of the weeds and hissed at him through mouths full of needle-like teeth. One told him, “In death, you will serve the Gooch!”
He bashed that one with the metal weight at the end of his chain, and the other vanished into the haze. He couldn’t fight his way back through the brush, so he ventured further into the Desecration. It all had something to do with a knife made of bone called the Bleeding Jaws of Glughu and a purse made from the face of a goat.
Over the years the story surged and receded. It was always in the back of my mind, but I was no writer. It was just something to fart around with when I was bored. I drew Chuggie’s picture. I drew Steel Jacks.
After graduation, I ended up in St. Paul, MN designing signs. My lady was living about 3 hours away, damn near the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Driving to see her, I would jabber on into my voice recorder, working on my Chuggie story with Tom Waits playing on the stereo. It was Highway 64 most of the way, one of my all-time favorite roads in this world. Crows cawed on fence posts and deer grazed in fields as I rolled through. Whether I was coming or going, I always seemed to drive that road at sunset. I have over 30 tapes filled with Chuggie ramblings and angry rants about other drivers. It’s pretty amusing if you listen to the playback at double speed. At my apartment in West St. Paul, I covered my coffee table with white paper off a roll. I filled it time and again with sketches and notes. They’re still around, my sheets of coffee table notes.
I moved back to Wisconsin after a couple years in Minnesota. Moved in with my lady. We bought a house, and a dog. I signed up for a workshop with Mr. Jeremy C. Shipp, where I learned a great deal about writing and publishing. I also made several key literary contacts. We got another dog. Chuggie was getting closer. Hell, I could smell his pipe smoke wafting under the door.
Omnium Gatherum decided to take a chance on my little story last summer. We signed a contract in September or something, then I got to work on the second rewrite. Chop this scene, expand that one, more description here, I don’t know what you’re saying there. Then final edits. Then proofing. Then a final round of tweaks. Boom. Now it’s published. You can buy a copy on Amazon in print or eBook.
It’s JUST. THAT. EASY.
Oh, and since you ask, yes I am working on the sequel. I think I can wrap the next one up in well under a decade, though. Just gotta get back out on Highway 64.
You can grab a copy of Chuggie and the Desecration of Stagwater for your Kindle or your bookshelf by clicking the links here. Alternatively, click Brent’s book cover or this cheeky satyr to grab a copy.
Chuggie and the Desecration of Stagwater
In the first installment of Mischief Mayhem Want and Woe, Brent Michael Kelley unleashes the horrors of Desecration on Stagwater.
Norchug Mot Losiat, Chuggie to his friends, is walking Drought. When, in his rambling, he stumbles upon the remote city of Stagwater, he finds love, temptation, and treachery. He fights against men, demons, and his own nature to battle the sinister forces threatening the city. But Chuggie? All he wants is a boat.
More free Halloween reads to make your Halloween season spooky.
by Louise Bohmer
The snow fell in a thick, feathery blanket around the two men sitting opposite each other, as they huddled near the crackling fire.
“You want to go first?” Roger shivered and smiled. He pointed to Jenny, the bubbly shop girl from Gas-N-Go, now lying bound in a bed of blood and snot stained slush.
Hunkering deeper into his wool coat, Samuel fumbled a cigarette from his top pocket, and lit it with trembling fingers. “Not just yet.”
He scanned the skeletal silhouettes of naked poplars, and the furry bodies of looming pine and fir. “We have to wait until it’s closer to the Guardian’s arrival.”
Roger plucked the small axe from the gnarled, soggy log he sat on. “Always with the excuses, Sammy. Not chickening out now, are you?”
“No.” He shook his head, and the smoke that drifted from his lips hovered about his head like blue ghosts.
“Then pick your offering,” Roger held the handle of the double-headed hatchet out to him, “and put it on the altar. Just like when we were kids.” His sneer was feral.
Sam stared at his brother. He let the now damp Export ‘A’ fall from his lips. “It’s a little different this time, Rog.”
Roger closed his eyes and lifted his head. He sniffed at the slight, cool breeze coming in from the east. “He’s coming.” He nodded, and his face lit with wild, vulnerable terror. “The Guardian is getting close.”
* * *
The Wallis house stood atop Silver Dollar Hill. The bluff was named so by the townsfolk because the chief source of income in Salmon Valley, in those long forgotten, post-pioneer days, was the then thriving Silver Dollar Mine. The old mine had carved a modest chunk out of the mighty knoll, but it still loomed over Salmon Valley, and the Wallis house peered down from it, like an ugly, infected eye.
Jeffery and Lenore Wallis built the oddly constructed, obscene monstrosity in 1978. Despite efforts to run the now adult sons out of Salmon Valley, and demolish the place, the home remained.
With their two boys, Roger and Samuel, the Wallis family came to town to live a reclusive life in the bizarre mansion on the hill. Sam and Roger did not attend the regular, Salmon Valley Secondary, like most kids, but were home schooled instead. The family only ventured into the small, village center once a month, to buy groceries and the usual supplies.
Sure, people talked and speculated over the years. Some reasoned it was nothing more than a peaceful sort of commune going on up at the hill. Others whispered darker possibilities, like child pornography and satanic sects. But no one, except for the family who roamed those cyclopean halls, and slept in rooms built on otherworldly angles, knew the real truth.
Sam remembered the murmurs on those visits to town, and the stares from the store clerks. He’d thought about screaming out, begging one of those slack-jawed, gum popping ladies to take him and his brother away, but the Ancients never let him get that far. They droned within his brain, vibrating the rhythm of primordial secrets, reminding him who he belonged to.
The Unknown Guardian of the Old Ones. Samuel was his disciple, as was Roger, and every nine years, when the vortex that led to the resting place of these cosmic monstrosities waned, the Guardian returned to try and claim them once more.
But this cycle, Sam had a plan. He and Roger had a proposition for the unseen creature that guarded the hidden portal. They were desperate men, and desperate men struck dark deals.
* * *
The wind picked up, and it raked its icy fingers through Samuel’s long, auburn hair, stringing wisps about his face. With slow, steady hands, he took the axe from his brother and tested its weight in his meaty palm.
“Why don’t you go first?” He narrowed his coffee-brown eyes at Roger.
Cocking a sideways grin, Roger splayed his hands outward. “You’re the oldest.”
A great sigh expelled from his burly chest, and Samuel turned his attention to the squirming woman nestled in a bed of crimson flakes. Her large, light blue eyes locked with his, and her face tensed. She begged him, with violent jerks and twists, to be set free.
Sam bent to one knee beside her, and stroked her soft, ash-blonde hair. “Sorry, sweetie, but it’s either you,” he motioned a thumb at himself, and then over his shoulder, “or me and my brother. And we’ve been fighting these demons for twenty-seven years.”
He lowered the blade to her slender arm, just below her elbow, and took aim. “The Guardian will be here soon, and he’ll be looking for a sacrifice.”
The sharp steel bit into her flesh, and she shrieked into her dirty, cloth gag.
“Rather it you than me, darling.” Sam closed his eyes, and pulled the axe-head out of her torn tissue. He brought it forward again, hacking deeper through the muscle.
* * *
In the gloom of the clearing, the great green stone shone with sickly, oozing light. Roger and Samuel huddled close to one another, holding their black robes tight to their gangly bodies, as they approached the phosphorescent monolith.
“It is your turn, son.” Father yanked young Sam away from his brother, and the child cried out as he snatched at his sibling’s hands. “Make your contribution to the Great Cthulhu, and his Unknown Guardian. Tonight, we join with the unseen protector, the Wendigo.”
Mother held the bloody stump of her wrist into the roaring fire, and cauterized her fresh wound. Her severed hand sat, like a pale spider, atop the glowing stone. She held Roger back from Samuel with her remaining appendage, cooing a gibberish chant of the Ancients in her son’s ear.
Sam accepted the sharpened hatchet. “I’m frightened, Father.” He glanced up at the towering, bearded man.
Jeffery smiled, exposing a row of broken, yellowed teeth. “There is no need for fear, son, when one embraces the forbidden knowledge of the Great Old Ones. We have been chosen as Guardians. Cthulhu grants us a great honor. To become one with the Wendigo, we must make a sacrifice of ourselves to the beast.”
Holding the short axe tight to his chest, Samuel proceeded to the menacing, stone altar. He sat in the cold bank of snow beneath it, and lifted his raven mantle to just above his knee. He aimed the hatchet at his shin, and held his breath. His parents bowed their heads in silent homage to their Dark God.
Sam bolted from his seat near the rock, and sprinted toward his father. With a strangled cry, he buried the wet, steel edge into the towering man’s chest. Mother screeched, and fled toward her fallen husband.
“Get her,” Sam barked, at his younger brother.
Roger’s eyes bulged as he stood frozen, for a moment, and then he bent down to the fire. He fished a sharpened, burning log from the outside of the pyre, and ran at her, with the weapon brandished overhead.
Their mother turned in time to see the length of wood bearing down on her. It connected with her face, and her old world, porcelain features split in a ragged smear of muscle and blood.
The boys descended on their parents like savage, hungry animals. They tore, bit, pummeled, until the groans of the High Priest and Priestess of Cthulhu sputtered and died.
“Never again.” Sam vowed through a face full of gore, tears, and snot. “They’ll never hurt us again, Roger.”
In their furor, the boys failed to notice the wind stirring to a frenzied gust. Sam shuttered, as he now listened to its howls grow. Its furious grip bent back the trees in the clearing, splitting massive trunks with the whim of its swipe.
The Guardian was coming, and he was angry.
Sam felt the humming throb in his head. Its rapid, eons-old pulse beat deep in his brain. He helped Roger from the snow.
“Come on. We need to go.” He pushed his traumatized brother, urging him to move faster. “Now.”
* * *
The swirling gale mimicked a banshee’s wail, as it gathered speed in the clearing. Sam stood over Jenny. Her severed arm dangled from his grip, dripping her life fluid into the fresh snow. She convulsed with shock and blood loss.
He thought about the elaborate wedding dress he’d seen Jenny and her mom fussing over, through the window of Sophie’s Boutique.
Oh well, he thought, one less expense for her parents.
He turned back to the fire, back to his waiting brother.
As he stepped away from his kill, he noticed the deep throbbing in his right shoulder. He scratched at it through his coat, trying to ignore what that hungry itch meant. He sought to calm his racing heart with a deep breath, but it was no use. He could smell the Guardian all around them.
The old bite continued to irritate, and he wrenched his jacket and worn sweatshirt aside, digging his gloved fingers into the faded wound.
He glanced over at his brother, and Roger met his stare with eyes widened by quiet, gnawing fear. His own hand was buried beneath his clothes, tearing at the old scar that marked them as children of the Wendigo.
The Guardian’s bite is forever, my darling. His mother’s voice went slinking through his mind, and Sam whirled about, searching the murky forest for hidden specters.
He crossed the distance between him and Roger quickly, and thrust the axe, handle out, at his sibling. “Go, get your offering now. Make it quick. I can taste him in the air. It’s rank and sweet.”
Roger took the axe with trembling fingers. He pushed off the log and strode, in wide rapid steps, toward the dying woman.
He spun around, as Sam called out to him. Tears in his younger brother’s eyes mirrored Roger’s own. They froze fast to his pale, smooth cheeks.
Roger panted, waiting for Sam to continue.
Sam moved his focus to the grey, cloud shrouded mountains in the distance. “Pray he’ll accept this alternative we’ve given him. I don’t think I can resist the hunger he has put inside of us much longer.”
“I knew we shouldn’t have come here, Sam.” Roger fell to his knees. “We should’ve left town, like last cycle.” The quiet tears became childlike sobs. “We should’ve skipped to Van,” wearily, he dropped his head, “or something. Gotten away from his whispers, the compulsion.”
Sam stalked over to him, and grabbed him by the lapels of his flannel jacket. “If he accepts this deal, there will be no more running, you fool. A fresh life or two, every nine years, in exchange for our freedom. I think that’s a fair trade.”
He shoved Roger against Jenny’s still body. “Now choose your offering, and bring it to the altar.”
Roger glared at him. “You’re beginning to sound like our father did.”
Sam jabbed his hefty fist forward, and connected with Roger’s nose.
The storm around them screamed, and Sam staggered back. A soft, urgent green glow flickered to life behind him, and cast the scene before him in a sickly, phosphorescent hue.
“We’re too late,” he croaked, and the chittering hymns of the Old Ones winked to life in his mind. Sam doubled over, as his brain beat with their repulsive songs, and he vomited.
Roger scrambled to his knees, and hacked at the corpse’s shin.
Sam lurched toward him. “Forget it. We have to get the fuck out of here.” A harsh burst of air-bound snow tried to drag him from his feet. “Now.”
Roger looked up at him. His chin trembled as he dropped the axe and bolted from the body. He was three feet from their black Explorer when the Wendigo grabbed him.
Sam watched as invisible arms jutted his brother into the inky sky, and out of sight. Roger’s cries were swallowed by the whooping wind. Sam fell to the hard slush beneath him, and sobbed to the dark canopy of night above.
He snatched but a brief moment to gather his senses, and then stumbled to his feet. Leaning into the raging gale, he used all his upper body strength to push toward the SUV.
Scant inches from the driver’s side door, his brother’s torn, smoldering legs plummeted to the ground in front of him. Both of Roger’s boots were worn away, exposing blackened toes and charred bones.
Dark laughter, part human, part an animal’s frenzied howl, came from behind him. Sam’s heart thudded hard, threatening to rip from his chest. He shivered and blubbered incoherently, as he turned back to the frigid, ebony eye of the forest.
The word sounded as if it were spoken by a wolf, or some darker being, beyond the creation of nature. Sam let his eyelids fall shut, as he wished for the axe. Although, he knew it would do him no good now. The beast he was about to face far surpassed the threat of pathetic, human harm.
He followed the low, gurgling growl into the tree line. Past snarls of dead branches, and decaying, hollowed stumps. As he walked, the air grew more oppressive with the heavy stink of the Guardian. And in that stench, Sam could smell, could feel, why the town of Salmon Valley suffered and died like a slow cancer victim. The sinister vortex poisoned the land. Cursed it with the taint of Wendigo, and the Great Old Ones the creature protected. Every nine years, when the oily veil to the void thinned, and the Guardian walked, patrolling this abominable gateway until the cosmic skin thickened once more, the town grew a bit sicker. And its people grew a bit more depraved, sitting in their crumbling houses, mulling over taboo thoughts.
Sam knew these truths, and more, as he shambled through the thick woods. The Wendigo, and the Old Ones, hissed them in his mind. And spectral voices of his mother, father, even Roger now, corroborated the insidious facts.
You cannot control, cannot kill, what is older than the human race.
He knew they were right. Knew it was time to face his fate.
Where a broken, rotten pine barred his way ahead, the path branched left and right. But it took Sam no time to choose. He followed primordial instincts now. Followed the surging, mossy light coming from the left fork, into a border of closely growing, bowed poplars.
He fought to take enough air into his lungs, as the atmosphere around him grew denser. He was traveling in angles and dimensions unknown to man, now.
Round a corner choked by unruly brush, he found the beast. At the sight of his shadowed form, illuminated by only a sliver of winter moon, Sam’s knees weakened. His throat went dry, and he was that twelve-year-old boy again. Fleeing with his younger brother from murdered parents, and a malevolent spirit that would add their souls to his vast collection.
“You’ve never come when I’ve called before, Samuel.” The Wendigo spoke in a voice part human, part feral, and part unutterable by any living thing known to the human world. “Why do you grace me with your presence now, on this waning of the veil to R’lyeh?”
Sam bowed before the monstrosity, and, with trembling hands held out the dainty, severed arm of young Jenny, still clutched in his tight grip.
“I’ve,” he swallowed back his nausea,” I’ve come to offer you an alternative.”
The creature cocked its shaggy head, and adjusted itself in its throne made of oozing stone. It rubbed a horn, thoughtfully, with a clawed finger. “A deal, you say? Hmmm, go on, Sam.”
“I’ll bring you a life.” He shimmied closer to the Guardian, dropping the seeping arm to the ground at the monster’s feet, like a proud prize. “I’ll bring you two or three, if that’s what you want, every nine years, in exchange for my freedom.”
The Guardian rose. Its massive, furry shoulders blotted out the splinter of moon, as it stepped down to the snow-covered earth on hooves as large as Sam’s head.
From the darkness, it reached out and touched Sam’s cheek. He shuddered, but he dare not show his revulsion.
“Why not you, Sam?” It moved to the left, just a step or two, into the shaft of cold light that spilled through the trees. “Why not you?”
A slithering came, like a phantasm. Sam’s eyes darted to the cold earth beneath him, but it was empty. His gaze slowly traveled higher.
The tips of sleek, jet tentacles wormed their way out from under the clumps of dirty fur at the Wendigo’s midriff. The beast lowered his vulpine head, and a guttural hum issued from his throat.
Come see R’lyeh, Sammy. It was the voice of Jenny, the shop girl.
A squirming feeler lashed out, and Sam staggered away, tumbling into the snow. He crab crawled backwards, as the serpentine limbs of the Guardian pursued him.
We are all one inside the Guardian, son. His father this time.
Sam wailed like a little child, as one of the tentacles coiled around him, embedding sharp, hooked suction cups into his leg. The round, spongy suckers sank rows of saw-like teeth into his shin, and they chewed frantically.
“Eat with me, Sam.” The beast held out his shaggy arms like a welcoming father. “Has the hunger not gnawed at you these many years past? Has the compulsion to join, to become one with me and give yourself to the Great Cthulhu, to taste the forbidden meat that will give you power, not ached in your belly?”
The creature leaned down, and grabbed Sam’s severed leg from the snapping tentacles. “Come.” He held the joint out. “Eat with me, as you, your brother, and your parents were meant to do so long ago. Come taste the flesh that will make you Wendigo. You will see worlds, dimensions, a human mind could never fathom.”
Sam scrambled forward and accepted his sticky, shredded limb. He sank his teeth into the thick muscle of his shin, and tore at it ravenously.
“Worlds I’ve never known,” he mumbled, between chews on large gobs of sinew. “Worlds I’ve never known.”
* * *
With the spring thaw, folks in Salmon Valley finally got their wish. After Roger and Samuel Wallis, missing now for five months, were declared dead, the vulgar structure that was the Wallis house came down. And with its demolition, three construction workers also lost their lives.
Some grumbled about poor work safety practices. Others muttered about drinking on the job. But some whispered of darker possibilities. About tentacles and hooves, and a long, bloody trail that led to a clearing about two miles back from the gutted house.
But only those, now gone, who once roamed those destroyed, cyclopean halls, knew what really happened.
Copyright © 2011 Louise Bohmer. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be distributed, shared, or posted online without the publisher and author’s written permission.
Like these free Halloween reads? Want more spooky Louise fiction? Why not check out Old School? Fourteen short tales offered by David Dunwoody, Jackie Gamber, R. Scott McCoy,Natalie L. Sin, Horace James, Gregory L. Hall, and Louise Bohmer, all tied together by selected poems from Zombie Zak – Old School reminds one of terrors best not forgotten.
Within these pages, evil children terrorize, witches gather the teeth of the young, cosmic blobs eat the world, while creepy crawlies ruin a man’s life and a headless ghost seeks revenge. Wander down this spooky path with poems and stories that revive our nightmares about golems, harpies, and other creatures.
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