OCTOBER TERROR – “Oh Christmas Tree” by Pippa Bailey  

Oh Christmas Tree

By Pippa Bailey

 

 

“Run!” Julie screamed.

She dodged the swinging branches and slammed into a deep bank of snow. A wave of frozen white engulfed her as it collapsed. Bitter cold seeped through her jeans and hoodie.

She lay still, and held her breath. Gloved hands pressed tight against chapped lips. Footsteps thundered past her, firing crystal spears from the pine spindles overhead. She winced, body tense. Ice javelins pierced the encircling slush. A lucky escape.

Thunderous footsteps were deadened by fresh snow. No longer able to hear their pounding on frozen ground. Her lungs screamed for oxygen. Whoosh, she released the stale air in a hot cloud that clung to tiny hairs on her face.

She needed out of this woodland maze.

Derrick, her workaholic husband, had decided this was the year they would cut down their own Christmas tree. After a few unhappy online hunts for local venues, he had decided to take the matter into his own hands. Dragging Julie and the kids along. She was less than impressed, but let him have his moment. He’d been watching Bear Grylls’ adventures on T.V recently, and she’d decided this was at least better than him copying the piss drinking.

She didn’t see which way Derrick ran when the creature hurtled towards them a second time. From the first axe swing the energy in the forest changed. Shifted. Like a shadow bore down on the frostbitten pines. It blotted out the winter sun, and quelled all sound, save the blow of blade on wood.

She knew it was too late for their children. With a single blow it had swept them from their mother’s side. Their bodies like ragdolls that spewed blood upon impact with thick branches. They tumbled against rough bark, smashing through waves of white and green. Barbs of wood found soft skin, tore at bare flesh, flayed those children alive. Clouds of red filled the air. Chunks like confetti exploded, showering the surroundings in a thick slather of pungent gore. Their bodies crumpled to the ground. Roots snaked, clawed at them, claimed them for their own. Children reunited with the earth.

The trees in this forest didn’t like to be touched, didn’t like to be cut.

She’d tried to warn Derrick about the damaged sign on the roadside. Private Property. Tres …  be felled. Half the sign obscured by snow.

Derrick, assuming it was practically an invite to take his pick. Dumped the car and dragged the four of them down the winding path into the forest. Julie knew better now. Trespassers will be felled.

Tear stains had scorched crimson lines in her frozen skin. She pulled herself from the snow bank, and padded towards path. Desperate to find Derrick, to get out of there.

She walked a short way, dodging between hunched trees. Each twig crack made her shudder. She couldn’t tell which way she’d run. Turned around when she’d hit the snowbank.

Footprints…

That was it, she could follow the footprints. Her size six prints were easy to spot, amid snow-covered detritus. But where were Derrick’s? He’d run in this direction, she was sure of it. Backwards indentations turned from crisp white, to pink. Bloodstained. Still no Derrick.

She found bloody remnants, gouges in the ice that surrounded the roots. Tufts of blond hair peeked from below. Their bodies now entwined with the forest. Hot sour vomit splattered on the ground, frozen in place. She heaved again, leant against the tree, and wept.

Dark air hung low amid the trees, the sun a soft pink glow through the murk. She couldn’t bear to leave them again. Pulling off a glove she stroked the wisp of blond. Like a vacuum they too were sucked beneath the ground. Nothing left. She collapsed to her sodden knees, judders of dry sobs wracked her body.

“Julie?” A voice called in the distance.

She turned her head to source the voice. It was becoming too dark to see far through the trees.

“DERR–ick?” She shouted. Stifling the call with a glove, for fear of disturbing the creature again.

“Over here,” he said, running towards her.

Julie spun around, unsure of his direction. Strong arms scooped her from the ground, held her close. His warmth, the only thing she could feel.

“We need to get out of here,” he whispered, warm lips pressed against her ear.

“I can’t leave—”

“They’re gone baby. There’s nothing we can do.”

“But the trees—”

“I know, I know. I need you to stay quiet. Okay?”

She nodded solemnly. Biting down on her gloved fist, she let him lead her from the tangled grave.

“I can’t do this.”

“Yes, you can. You have to,” he grabbed her tight around the waist and pulled her between bowing trees.

CRUNCH. Something shifted behind them, fallen branches snapped, and creaked. Shadowed mist hid its master, but she knew that sound.

BOOM. Another footstep echoed in the distance. Somehow it heard them. Fear stole her strength. She slumped against his chest. Hands dropped from her waist, looped her arm, and almost yank it from the socket. She yelped.

BOOM. It was speeding up.

They ran, zig-zagging through trees. Her eyes bounced in their sockets, she tried to focus on the direction, but could see nothing through the thick black. Ground shuddered beneath them, torn asunder by the creature that chased them.

“We’re close,” Derrick shouted, pointing ahead to a clearing. His car’s yellow pierced the mist.

She nodded, heart screaming in her ears.

A knotted root coiled out in front of her, tripping them both. Sprawled on the ground she kicked at the earth, pushing herself backwards to the forest edge. To freedom.

Derrick didn’t move.

A trickle of blood slithered from a gash above his eye, droplets resting on his brow.

“Derrick. Get up!”

Nothing.

BOOM… It had reached them.

She scrambled to her feet. Snow rained from shaken branches. A thick blanket coated his body. Blood seeped from the wound.

One great dead hand reached for him, a gnarled twist of sticks. They bunched around his body, encasing him.

“No!”

She stumbled towards the creature that crumpled his body between its spindly wooden hands. It ignored her pleas, hands squeezed tighter.

Pop. Snap. She heard his body break.

There was no scream, no howl of pain. Maybe he was dead before the creature scooped him up. She bellowed at it.

It wrung its hands, and peeled them apart like shelling a pistachio. A mass of crushed bone spikes hung from mutilated flesh. It swirled its fingertips about the bloody remnants, extracting a length of sodden bowel. With a flick of its hand, it coiled the hulk of intestines around its tree-like body, spiralling upwards through branches that littered its chest. Next were the organs. It slipped a pointed finger into the soft flesh, and dangled the offal from tips of spines that stuck out at odd angles. His slivers of bone like a scattering of ornaments were sprinkled about its needled torso.

Julie’s slack jaw quivered. Breath caught in her throat at the sight of this tree-beast adorning its body with the remnants of Derrick’s. She couldn’t process what she was seeing. A tendril of drool, slopped from her mouth down the front of her bloody torn hoodie.

The skin came last. Shredded flaps stuck to its hands. It yanked the skin free and raised it high above its featureless face. Spreading the layer flat before pinning it between two protruding sticks, like a winged angel.

It shuffled in place, the ground beneath its feet splitting. It sank. Planting itself. This newly decorated Christmas tree.

Her heart gave out. She would be fodder, a feast for the worms. Looked upon by the tree who felled man.

 

 


 

Pippa Bailey lives in rural Shropshire, England. Principally a horror writer, independent reviewer, and YouTube personality, her supernatural, and sci-fi stories have featured in several anthologies and zines. Her debut novel LUX is due for release summer 2018.

 

Find her on:

Www.facebook.com/pippabaileyauthor

Www.facebook.com/Pbaileyauthor
Www.facebook.com/theghoulguides

 

 

 

 

 

 


BACK TO THE STORIES

I’m Mar.
Head of The Bold Mom.
Promoter and compulsive thinker.

OCTOBER TERROR – “The Conversion of Andrew Currant” by C. H. Baum

 

The Conversion of Andrew Currant

C. H. Baum

 

 

“Andy, I dare you to doorbell ditch old lady Cavin.”  Micky prodded like his future depended on it.

“No way, Micky.  You do it.  She creeps me out.”  Andy’s twelve year old mind conjured up images of an old lady cackling and laughing when she caught him, leaving remnants of rotten spittle on his cheeks and lips.  In truth, none of the neighborhood kids had ever really seen old lady Cavin with any clarity, just quick glimpses behind leaded glass windows.

“You’re chicken Andy.  If you don’t do it, I’m going to tell everyone in Mrs. Campbell’s class that you’re a coward.  Even Dana will laugh at you, because she will know it’s true.”

“Okay.  Just once.  I’ll run up there, ring the doorbell, and then run over behind that old van.  She’s the devil’s sister, you know.  No one can call me a coward if I doorbell ditch the devil’s sister.”

Micky smiled his immature smile, deliciously anticipating the naughtiness of the act and ran over behind the van to watch from a safe distance.  He didn’t want the devil’s sister to see him when Andy rang the doorbell.

Andy crept up the front lawn.  The house was old; it looked like it was built in the neighborhood fifty years before there was a neighborhood.  Peeling paint created claws that reached out silently to scratch at unsuspecting victims.  The house didn’t even smell like the rest of the neighborhood.  The mold and mustiness made Andy imagine two stories of ancient, crocheted afghans thrown over plastic covered couches, old nylon socks with no elastic draped over lamps, and an open can of cold baked beans on the floor next to a recliner.

Andy thought, It’s only a few feet away now.  No turning back.  I can do this, while extending his arm and pointing his finger in anticipation and accusation at the chipped doorbell.  This close, he could see the black veins that crawled through the pristine ivory of the old bell, like a sun bleached tortoise shell, barely poking through the surrounding sand.

He sucked in a breath and held it there, dreading the actual act of pushing the ringer, frozen in fear.  The petrification was broken as Micky made clucking sounds from behind the van.  Andy steeled his resolve and committed to depressing the alabaster ringer.

He expected an ominous ding, followed by a booming dong, but got the uninterrupted ring of an old telephone instead.  He was pondering the oddity of the ring when the door flashed open, a slender old hand closed like a vice on his slim wrist, and yanked him inside. It all happened so fast, his reaction was not to scream, cry, or twist his arm against the grasp; he just whimpered as he expelled the breath he had been holding while being transported wholly into the foyer of the old house, and hearing the door slam shut behind him.

The devil’s sister was actually very attractive for her age.  Her black hair, shot with gray streaks, was pulled back in a severe bun, with an errant wisp that had escaped and was caressing her slim chin.  She had striking purple, almond shaped eyes.  Andy had never seen someone with eyes the color of ripe eggplant.  Her smile revealed perfect rows of bright, straight, clean teeth.  Then the devil’s sister spoke in a smooth and pleasant voice, “I’m sorry I had to yank you in here so suddenly, but there’s a giant hornet’s nest next to the ringer on the porch, and they go mad at the noise.  I need to call an exterminator before someone gets stung.”

The buzz of the irritated hornets broke into Andy’s thoughts and he turned to see an angry swarm attempting to sting the window and the doorway where he stood moments before.  Andy stammered, “Miss Cavin?”

“Yes child….you look shaken.  Would you like some milk?  We need to wait for the hornets’ fury to die down.  I just happened to be baking some cookies too.  That’s always a pleasant way to pass a few minutes.”  She waved him forward, towards the kitchen and said, “Come, come.”

Andy followed the perfectly creased skirt into the kitchen, too ashamed to raise his eyes further while sinking deeper and deeper into the wonderful aroma of baking cookies.  She placed three cookies from the cooling trays on a plate, and stretched over to open an ancient icebox with General Electric scrolled in cursive across the front of the door.  She pulled out a pitcher of milk and poured him a tall, cool glass to accompany the cookies.

“Sit, my child, sit,” she invited, while pointing at one of the two dining room chairs.

Andy plopped down in the wrought iron chair and Miss Cavin sat down across from him, pushing the plate of cookies and glass of milk over to him.  She also grabbed a cookie for herself and left them in a moment of silence while they both chewed the still warm deliciousness.

“Mmmmmmmm. These are really good cookies, Miss Cavin.  Better than the ones my mom makes.  She always burns them.”

Miss Cavin laughed and he let the pleasant sound of her humor roll over him.  “Burnt offerings are discouraged young man; they do not taste as good.”

He smiled, even though he had no idea what she meant.

She smiled back and asked, “You rang my bell child.  Did you need something?”

He decided honesty was the best policy.  “Well Miss Cavin, I’m Andy and I was going to doorbell ditch you on a dare.  I….I’m sorry.”

“Please child, call me Day.  I admire your honesty, and your bravery.  But there’s nothing to forgive, and I’m not in that business anyway.  I’m a harmless, old lady, and nothing would have come from it other than tragedy if I hadn’t heard you coming.  Had I been upstairs when you rang the bell, you might be a pin cushion for a bunch of angry hornets.”  She smiled and then bit into another cookie.

Andy was relieved, and the cookies were fantastic.  “Miss Cavin, you treated me nice, even though you knew I was going to trick you.  My mom wouldn’t do that.  She would have punished me.  Do you have any children?”

“Day, call me Day, child. And, I do have children, but not in the way you think.  I have Daemonium.”

Andy had never heard that word before.  He rolled it around in his head before he repeated it, “Day Moan Eeum.  What’s that?”

Day stood and smiled right at him, her big smile was delightful, and her violet eyes sparkled in the light of the kitchen.  “Come.  I will show you.”

Andy found himself following her into the ancient living room, where he expected an old couch, with a couple of sitting chairs, but met with something quite different.  There was a large, hulking table that occupied the entire space of the living room.  The table was accompanied by a mix of mismatched chairs, placed at strategic points around the edge, and the table was covered with the biggest mess of wires, electronics, speakers, and coils that Andy had ever seen.  It was like all the old appliances in town had dragged themselves to her living room and then exploded.

“What is this stuff?” Andy asked earnestly.

Day lightly caressed the base of his neck and said, “I fix these electronics.  When they are done, they contain my daemonium and I care for them like children.  These are my passion and my calling.  Would you like to help me fix one?”

Andy immediately answered, “Of course.”  He jumped at the chance to please Miss Day and to help her with her work.  After he had been so mean to her, he really wanted to make it up to her; make her proud that she had let him into her home.

She resumed their conversation,  “Ok, this is the carcass of an old telephone.  It was made long before cell phones, even long before rotary phones.”  Miss Day gestured for him to sit in one of the chairs at the corner of the table, and sat down ninety degrees to him.  She pushed some of the other wires and electronics out of the way, and pulled an old oak box over the table so that it separated them.  It had a black cone growing from the top plate and a black crank on the side that looked like it belonged to a giant pencil sharpener.  Another black cone was attached to a braided cord and bumped along the table behind the box as she slid it over for inspection.

Day grabbed a pair of pliers and a screwdriver and extricated the black cone on the front of the telephone.  Then she pulled away the oak top plate and removed the sides.  They were left with an oak plank with a bunch of wires, and with a coil connected to the old crank.  She re-attached the crank and spun it around, but nothing happened.

“What’s wrong with it, Miss Day?” Andy asked as he peered over the carcass of the old telephone.

“See that metal coil at the top?  The one that attaches to the crank?  That’s called a magneto and it creates electricity when you crank it.”  She used the screwdriver to identify some of the wires and continued, “Then the electricity flows down these wires, and is stored in the big black battery at the bottom.  My guess is that the battery unit is dead, but that the magneto still works and generates electricity.  In order to fix this, I need to test the magneto coil.  You think you could help me with that, child?”

Andy nodded excitedly, ready to help in any way needed.

“Ok child, I’ll need you to hold this wire with your right hand, and this one with your left hand.  While I’m testing it, you might feel a little shock, but you can’t let go.  If you let go, the daemonium may be lost forever.  Do you understand child?”  She was very serious and intense while she implored, “If you let go, it could stay broken forever.”

Andy again nodded excitedly. “I’ll hold it as long as you need me to, Miss Day.”  To show his eagerness, he grabbed the appropriate wires in each hand, pinched them between his thumb and index finger, and then crushed down with all his immature strength.  “I’m ready.”

Day stood up from her chair to get a good hold on the crank and winked at Andy before she started.  She began slow grinding the magneto and watching Andy carefully.  She knew he was getting shocked, but he doggedly held onto the wires.  “Fantastic, child.  You’re doing an amazing job.”  Then she cranked the magneto faster, a blurry whir of electrical production.

Andy groaned against the shock, but he didn’t let go.  When she cranked even faster, like a possessed whirlwind, he couldn’t have let go if he wanted to.  The electricity paralyzed the muscles in his hands, and shook his forearms uncontrollably in short, seizure like convulsions.  “Ngnnnnnnnnnnnnn.”

It was over quickly, and Day smiled over at him.  “You did wonderfully my child.  This will certainly return to its former glory.  You are responsible for the life of this daemonium.”  Then she shocked him even more by grabbing each side of his face, and kissing him deeply.  He felt her tongue graze his and she sloppily sucked his bottom lip, letting it slip back while staring him in the eyes and panting with hot, wet breath on his face.

Andy stammered, “I, I………Miss Cavin…………I never kissed a girl before.”

From very, very close, she whispered, “I am not a girl, Andy.  You will understand when you’re a man.”

Andy slipped out the front door, studiously avoiding any noise that might irritate the large hornets’ nest.  He glanced back over his shoulder to see Day wink at him through the leaded glass, and disappear into the fog of the house as she backed away.  As soon as he was off the porch, he sprinted across the front lawn, and rounded behind the old van where Mickey sat, crying.

“Mickey, I did it.  I rang the bell.”

Mickey looked up, completely taken by surprise that Andy had escaped alive.  “You were in there for thirty minutes.  It seemed like forever.  I thought you were dead.”

Andy smiled, a changed boy since he accepted the dare.  “I helped her fix an old telephone.  She is beautiful, and isn’t like anyone I’ve ever met before.”

Mickey hadn’t seen Andy talk about anyone like that.  Not even Dana.  He snickered as he pronounced, “You love her!”

Andy glanced down and saw a dark urine stain in the crotch of Mikey’s Wranglers.  “You peed yourself.  I was the one that did the scariest thing ever and you peed your pants.  If you tell anyone that I love her, I will tell everyone you pissed your pants.”

Mickey nodded.  He didn’t want anyone to know that he was so scared when his friend got yanked inside ol’ bat Cavin’s house that he’d peed down his leg.

****

Mickey ran up to Andy on the playground, completely out of breath.  “Did you hear, Andy?  Did you hear?”

Andy turned from telling Dana he didn’t like her anymore, and asked, “What?  Did I hear what?”

“Ol’ bat Cavin died.  They are going to mettle her mistake tomorrow.  They already sold the house to someone that’s going to gut it and remodel the whole thing.”

Andy’s heart broke, but still caught the absurdity of Mickey’s statement.  Through unbidden tears, Andy corrected, “You mean settling her estate?”  He immediately followed with a gasp that ripped at his lungs, burning as he exhaled, and fell to his knees.  “No, it……it can’t be. I was going to help her fix more of her daemonium.”

“Yeah, someone said they found her naked in the tub.  Josh and Lucas heard the cops say that her corpse was floating in there, all pasty, wrinkly and saggy.”

Andy stood up and punched Mickey straight in the face.  “You son of a bitch.  She was not wrinkly and saggy, and NO ONE CALLS HER AN OL’ BAT!”  Andy sniveled, uncontrollably shuddering, while standing over his friend with clenched fists.  Mickey crab walked away, turned and ran for the safety of the recess supervisor.

“Go, Mickey! GO! Go tell on me you bastard!”

Dana sidled away, not wanting to be anywhere near Andy’s fury.  He turned on her now that Mickey was out of reach, screaming through the snot and drool of his grief.  “Go tattle on me too, you bitch! GO!”  He screamed out to no one in particular, but the whole playground heard him, “I HATE YOU ALL!”

 

****

 

Finally.  It was his birthday.  Eighteen years old.  Andrew made plans with Mick to celebrate appropriately because you only become an adult once in your life.  “Hey, Mick, Dana says we can come over to her house.  Her mom has a ton of whiskey in the basement and works nights at the hospital.  We can get drunk and maybe she’ll let me make out with her.”

Mick dragged his feet, “I don’t know, Andrew.  Her mom will notice we drank a bunch of the whiskey.”

“There’s no way she could count it all.  We’ll take a little bit from each of the open bottles.  There’s like twenty down there.  Plus, her mom doesn’t care about the collection.  It was her dad’s before he left.  Dude, we can’t go wrong.”

Mick smiled and nodded his agreement.  “Let’s go!  Andrew becomin’ a MAN.”

When they arrived, Dana held Andrew’s hand and led them down to the musty basement.  The old wood of the stairs moaned and complained from beneath orange shag carpet, as they descended.  Dana and Andrew plopped down on a brown sofa that had a deer hunting scene stitched into the cushions.  Mick sat in the recliner that looked like it had been recycled from the dump, disturbing a tabby colored cat that yowled in protest.  The surroundings didn’t matter, as long as they were left to their own devices; he had whiskey and a woman waiting to help him usher in adulthood.

They drank small thimbles of whiskey from a multitude of different bottles, and before long they were snorting, laughing and whirling their shirts above their heads.  Mick stated the obvious, “It sure burns goin’ down, and it damn sure messes up my brain.”

****

Andrew dreamed.

Miss Cavin visited his dreams for the first time since he was twelve.  She was not the same elderly lady he met all those years ago.  She appeared as a younger woman, before the years started to take their toll on her face and body.  Andrew saw her with the eyes of a man, drawn to her animal sexuality.  She was stunningly beautiful, hair flowing around her face like she was under water, and dressed in a skin tight, red skirt that hugged the curves of her hips.  Her black jacket was open to her navel and she wasn’t wearing anything underneath.  The audacious show of skin left just enough to the imagination, but the flaunting of her cleavage made her intent clear.  She began by planting a hot, wet, kiss on his slightly open mouth, and caressing the side of his face.  She followed by whispering, “daemonium” in his ear.  Andrew expected more, but she sauntered away slowly, looking over her shoulder one last time before fading into the fog of his dream.

The dream shifted and he was in an unknown forest, hunting a lynx.  He could sense the animal nearby, and knew he was getting close to the end of the stalk.  The lynx bounded out in front of his trail, and he threw a javelin, spearing the animal and pinning it to the ground.  He didn’t want to harm the majestic animal, but the dream followed its own desires; Andrew was just along for the ride.  He sliced opened the stomach and cleaned the organs so that it wouldn’t spoil the meat.  Andrew assumed he would take the meat with him, but his dream-self threw the carcass and gut pile around the forest, scattering the regal lynx with reckless abandon.  Andrew felt glee at the slaughter of his dream, while knowing it was wrong and cruel.  He just couldn’t stop himself from acting out.

****

 

“Andrew, get up!”  Dana kicked him awake.  “We fell asleep.  My mom will be home any minute from the hospital, and you and Mick have to get out of here!”

Andrew crawled around the shag carpet of the basement looking for his shirt and shoes while wincing from his hangover.  Mick was already headed up the stairs.

Dana panicked, “Damnit Andrew, hurry up!”

“I’m going, I’m going.”  He pulled on his shirt and shoved his shoes under his armpit right before heading up the stairs.  He stopped for a brief second and turned to kiss Dana.  “Thank you, I had a wonderful night.  I’ll never forget it.”

She smiled coyly and patted his rear end.  “C’mon, get moving.  I’ll see you in a couple days.”

****

Andrew dreamed.

This one was much more sinister, darker.  He was hunting a wolf, and even though it was dangerous, he revelled in it.  The wolf had doubled back on him a couple of times, and Andrew knew that on the third time, he would catch it unawares.  Andrew salivated over the prospect of killing and gutting the lupine prey.

The vicious part of him was growing in strength.  He was hungry for bigger, more challenging prey and the part of Andrew that was concerned about the progression was violently pushed to the back of his psyche.  Andrew had no place in his own dreams.

He sat behind a tree, up wind from the wolf, and smelled the animal before he heard him coming.  He sucked in the scent of the matted fur, the creature’s sweat, and the mud on its paws.  As the wolf bounded past, he stepped out and ran his spear through its ribcage.  Andrew laughed at the popping sound as the spear split and broke the ribs.  He fell on the limp corpse and tore at the stomach with his knife, hacking in a fury of stabbing and slashing, flinging gore around the forest floor.  He sectioned the quarters and threw the limbs in all different directions.  Soaked up to his elbows in blood, he yanked out the heart and took a large bite of the sinewy muscle.  The warmth of the flesh went perfectly with the mineral aftertaste of the blood.  He licked at the gore that ran down his chin.  It was delicious.

****

Andrew woke up, sweating and trembling from the exertion in the dream, and concerned about his subconscious progression to bigger, more dangerous prey.  He thought, Maybe I should see a psychiatrist, before climbing into the shower to start his day.

****

Andrew dreamed.

The choice of prey was progressing, and he was helpless to stop it.  He watched the pulse of blood through the artery running up the side of the prostitute’s neck.  It fascinated him.  He snickered as he vividly imagined slicing it and watching the blood spurt through her fingers.  His mirth made her turn her head towards him, assuming he would make good on his promise.  She quested after her addiction, “You bring it with you?”

“Bring what baby?” He teased her, knowing exactly what he had promised her.

“You know…..the sugar you promised me.  I give you a little sugar, and you give me a little sugar.  That’s how this deal works.” She smiled and licked her lips seductively, running the tip of her tongue around her mouth.  It was meant to be sexy, but she ruined it by opening her mouth wide enough to see her rotten teeth and then scratching uncontrollably at her shoulder.

“I’ve got it right here….” Andrew fumbled in his jean’s pocket for his razor.

He was interrupted by a cop banging on the window with his flashlight.  Moments away from slicing her throat and dissecting her corpse, his prey was abruptly stolen from him.

“Go away, Pig!” he yelled through the dream.

The pounding on the car window continued, unabated.  The policeman would not be deterred once he saw a known prostitute in the car with Andrew.  The dream grinned with the prospect of killing the policeman too.  He’d strip them down naked, and put them in a compromising position in the park.

The policeman continued to bang on the window, unaware of the sinister evil on the other side of the glass, stubbornly rushing towards Andrew’s razor.

 

****

 

Andrew woke up to someone banging on his door.  It took him a moment to realize it wasn’t a cop banging on the steamy window of his car.  His head swam with a splitting headache, and he somehow knew it was related to the abrupt end of his dream; he hadn’t released the dream to run free and kill.

He could hear a muffled Mick through the door, “C’mon, Andrew, OPEN THE DOOR!” right before the pounding started again.

He stumbled up from his couch and swirled back the dead bolt with a twist of his wrist.  “What?  I was sleeping….”

Mick was out of breath, and panted, “Dana’s all broke up.  She’s crying her eyes out.  Someone killed her cat.”

Andrew was agitated, “It’s sad and all, but cats get run over all the time.  Why on earth does that make you run over here and bang on my door in the middle of the night?”

Mick shook his head, “No, you got it all wrong.  Someone didn’t run over her cat, someone BUTCHERED her cat.  Her mom came home, and found the cat hanging in the bathroom, with its intestines pulled out.  Her mom works at the hospital and she’s seen a TON of gruesome stuff, but when she saw the cat, she puked all over the bathroom.  Whoever did it, rammed the shower rod THROUGH the cat’s head and rehung the shower rod over the tub!”

Andrew had flashes of disturbing hunting scenes and a lynx.  “Who would do something like that?”

Mick shrugged.  “Who knows…..some sick weirdo, a demon, the devil……whoever did it was just plain EVIL.”

Andrew grabbed his jacket to head over to Dana’s.  “C’mon, Dana needs support of her friends.”

Mick nodded, “Yeah, especially because whoever killed her cat, also killed a dog over on 3rd and Eastern.  Had to be the same guy.”

Andrew’s disturbing flashes repeated for the wolf.  “What happened to the dog?” he asked, even though he knew the answer.

“It was a pit bull, one they used for fighting on the bad side of town.  Whoever killed it hated the dog something fierce.  He speared it with a fence post.  The post went clear through the torso.  Then he butchered it and spread the guts and body parts all over the intersection.  He wrapped the intestines around the light pole like a holiday garland.”

Andrew felt sick to his stomach.  “That’s disgusting.”

“That’s not even the worst part,” responded Mick.  “He also ripped out the heart and there were bite marks on it!  He ATE half the heart!”

“Stop, STOP!  You’re going to make me hurl.  Let’s go to Dana’s and see if we can calm her nerves.”  Andrew stepped out into the hallway and turned to lock the door behind him, before shuffling down the hall with Mick.  He knew the cop had been Mick.  The prostitute had probably been Dana.  He thought, That’s the clear progression.  I almost murdered my friends.

 

****

 

Dana was inconsolable, crying softly against Andrew’s chest while they sat huddled together on the old couch in her basement.  Mick was oblivious, as he played the vintage video games while sitting cross legged on the floor.  Andrew knew that if he fell asleep again, he would murder them in a possessed frenzy.  He had to leave.  He had to escape.

He kept to his own head while his friend grieved.  Asking himself question after question.  How did this happen?  What is wrong with me?  Why did this just start on my eighteenth birthday?  The shock hit him like a wet slap in the face.  Miss Cavin did this to him.  She WAS the devil’s sister.  That old bitch had done something to him with the telephone, possessed his dreams somehow.  She probably didn’t even really die; she just moved on to another unsuspecting youth to corrupt.  He got an idea and looked up daemonium on his phone.  The first thing that popped up was, “Latin to English translation – Daemonium – Demon.”

He whispered, “Holy shit.”

His statement disturbed Dana and she looked up at him with red, puffy eyes.  “What did you say?”

“Nothing baby.  But I need to leave.  I’m really tired and I have to work early tomorrow.  I’m sorry about your cat.  That’s just not right.”

Dana nodded and hugged him as thanks for the support.  “Ok, Andrew.  Come back tomorrow afternoon, after my mom leaves for work.  I don’t want to be in the house alone.”

“Yeah, I’ll be here.”  He pressed his lips on her forehead   and shuffled out of the basement.

As soon as he got outside, he began talking to himself in hushed tones, “I DO understand now that I’m a man.  You possessed me, you bitch……..you psychotic old hag.  But I won’t sleep until I find a cure for the demon haunting my dreams.”

It occurred to him that the demon took up residence in his adolescent body through the flow of electricity.  So electricity would have to kick it out too.  He remembered her saying that the daemonium could be lost forever, and he was determined to make sure her warning came true.  There was an electrical substation near Dana’s house, and he headed that way, following his intuition.  The massive electrical towers tracked through the miles in single file, standing like sentinels with their high voltage wires only dipping to the ground over the substation fence.

Andrew grabbed a fist sized rock and slammed it against the padlock on the chain link fence until it shattered the shackle.  He slipped inside and walked confidently up to one of the transformers.  Two giant, porcelain wrapped antenna stood out from the head of the transformer, like some huge insect buried up to its neck in the soft soil.

As he got near enough to touch the antenna, he could feel the energy raise the hair on his arms and neck, and hear the droning hum of the massive charges flowing through the substation.  He gave no heed to the warning signs with their angry red lightning bolts and grabbed both antenna at the top, where the high voltage wires connected to the substation.  The instant he made the circuit, the electricity flowed.  It was a massive rush of power that seized his muscles, and slapped his heart around in his chest.  Burns crawled up his hands into his arms, blackening the skin.  The mix of smells were intoxicating; crisp ozone carrying a hint of roasting flesh.

In an explosion of sparks, the safety equipment took charge and blew the transformer, shutting off the flow of electricity.  Andrew’s body stiffened, tipping over backwards and falling with his arms extended out; a perfect impersonation of a zombie from the old black and white movies.  He glanced up at his paralyzed arms, ending in nothing more than claws, and made the comparison of hot dogs left too long on the grill; blackened skin crisscrossed with angry red cracks where the flesh had split open.  He laughed as he remembered Miss Cavin saying, “Burnt offerings are discouraged young man; they do not taste as good.”  The memory chased him into unconsciousness as the chuckle died in his throat.

****

Andrew dreamed BIG.


 

Find the story in the book

 


About the author

C. H. BAUM

 

C H Baum lives in Las Vegas with his two children and a stunningly gorgeous wife (no, she didn’t pay me to say that).

When he is not working his super glamorous job as a mortgage underwriter, he is writing or riding.

Writing horror, and fantasy that smells suspiciously like horror. Or, riding his bike around the valley, pumping away at the pedals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Read more about his work, find his book here:

 


BACK TO THE STORIES

I’m Mar.
Head of The Bold Mom.
Promoter and compulsive thinker.

OCTOBER TERROR – “The Final Charge” by Peter Germany

The Final Charge

By

Peter Germany

 

67%

 

His heads-up display said 67%, and it wasn’t going to go up. The only change would be the free-fall as he began to move.

“You ready for this, Sean?” Janel said.

“No, you?”

She shook her head. “Not even close. 71%.”

“That’s 4% more juice than I’m packing.”

“Considering we’ve had three days of rain, I think we’re better off than we could have been. Oh and don’t forget the firefights and bombardment by hi-explosive shells, cluster bombs,”

“Incendiary,” Sean added.

“We can’t forget that.”

“Shit,” Cole said. She was hitting the frame around her leg with a club hammer. She flexed and it began to move freely.

Sean Banner looked down at his leg, wrapped in the exoskeleton that encased his whole body. It hadn’t had a proper service for almost eight months, and it had repeatedly gone wrong over the last few days as they’d waited for the inevitable attack, and then the order to counter-attack. Almost three hundred years after the Great War and they had reverted to that same old suicidal strategy. One group of troops dug in a hundred yards away from the enemy’s trench. One side would go first, then the other.

Death would have a busy day.

 

66%

 

The drone footage being transmitted to his heads-up display showed the objective: a nuclear power plant, the last one in Europe – maybe even the world. It was enough to power eighty percent of the survivors but what was left of the European Government didn’t want to share with the British.

The last war had seen Europe caught in the crossfire of a biological, chemical, and nuclear onslaught. Now everyone was rushing to grab what was left of the resources after war had bled it dry, and the politicians were sending troops to fight each other instead of finding ways for everyone to survive.

Sean thought they should use their limited munitions to shoot all the politicians because once they were out of the way, the survivors would just get on with it and share this power plant. Those politicians were secure in bunkers with their own generators and solar cells while everyone else had to fight for any form of electricity they could find.

Sean could see a lot of movement in the footage, all of which made him feel like they were outnumbered. The Europeans were dug in deep with infantry, armour and artillery, but most of all they could keep their weapons charged.

 

58%

 

“Why haven’t we gone over?” Janel said.

“I don’t know.” Sean’s muscles ached. They’d been in their exos for almost three hours. All of them had their suits on standby, not wanting to use up too much of the power.

“What the fuck is command playing at? We can’t be on standby this long, it’s draining the cells, and our bodies can’t take the pressure of the exos. We’re going to be exhausted by the time they send us over.”

“Since when has command cared about us, down here in the shit? They’re back at base eating steak and patting each other on the back.”

“You two, shut up,” Company Sergeant-Major Bird said. “We’re going over in five minutes, five minutes people.”

 

50%

 

Whistles blew and everyone rushed over the edge of the trenches to begin their kamikaze charge for the enemy lines.

Sean and Janel were side by side as they launched themselves into no-man’s land. Bullets from both sides flew past them. Disruptor mortars erupted all around them. One caught Bird, his exoskeleton convulsed, breaking both his arms and legs. His body bent backwards, spine shattering. Sean didn’t stop moving. To stop was to be a stationary target and that meant death.

Janel took a hi-ex round to the body and blew up, covering Sean in blood, bone, and intestines but he kept running. The enemy lines were less than fifty yards away when he stood on a mine.

 

36%

 

Sean could taste copper when he woke up, but it took a moment for his brain to fully process what it meant. He lay in mud where he had fallen. No-man’s land all looked the same: mud and bodies. He tried to get up but couldn’t, so lifted his head and looked down the length of his body. His left foot was a bloodied mess. The exoskeleton’s boot had taken the brunt of the mine’s force but not all of it. His right ankle had an unnatural twist in it. He couldn’t move his right arm and his back felt strange. His heads-up display was cracked, but still working. It showed his exo’s power cell capacity, and a technical image of the exoskeleton against the cracked screen. The parts of the suit that weren’t working were illuminated in red. The whole suit was pretty much in red, with a few sections in amber. The only part of the exo that still shone a healthy green was the control panel on his left arm, but as he couldn’t move his right arm, he had no way to operate the panel. What troubled him most was there was no static in his ears. He couldn’t hear the sound of war. They had lost.

Sean looked at his right hand and tried to flex it, but nothing happened. Looking down to his legs he wondered just how much pain stoppers his exo had pumped into him.

An explosion shook the ground around him. He flinched and turned his head to where he thought it had come from but couldn’t see anything, except the corpses of his friends. He strained to see if any of them were alive but it was easy to see that none were. You don’t spend three years at war without knowing a dead body when you see one. His eyes welled up as he remembered what had happened to Janel. Sean had been fighting alongside Janel for a little over two years, and they had been through all levels of hell together. Now he was covered in her. Tears streaked down his face, carrying dirt, grime and blood away with them.

 

28%

 

Artillery rounds tore apart the lines where his side of this pointless, bloody war had been held up. Sean wondered who had survived long enough to get back to their lines, and if any of them would be alive after the ferocious bombardment they were going through now.

Did it matter if any of them were alive? None of them would be coming to get him. Even if his comms were working, he doubted anyone would come. He was in the middle of no-man’s land and any attempt to rescue him would be deemed suicidal. The enemy wouldn’t come for him; they wouldn’t even come out to attack. They were well fortified and not stupid enough to risk their numbers. Even if they did come out they wouldn’t help him. To them, Sean would be just another corpse. Even if he wasn’t a corpse when they found him he would be soon after. Prisoners of war was a phrase for a time when integrity meant something. Even if the troops on the ground aided him, their commanders wouldn’t, and punishment would be swift on those who had helped. His side wasn’t any better. Their orders had been clear: if they’re not on our side, they never will be and don’t deserve to live.

Sean licked his lips and tried to forget about where he was. He reached for his canteen and struggled as he undid the cap. He wasn’t feeling light-headed though, so he wasn’t losing any blood. Any wounds that had been opened must have sealed themselves up. His display flickered and he saw that his exo’s power cell was down to 35%. The exo had a first-aid unit built into the back, but it wasn’t a medical kit in the traditional sense. It was connected to smaller kits that were built into other areas of the exo and would communicate with the other devices and regulate treatment. Treatment meant pumping the wearer full of painkillers, adrenaline and military grade amphetamines. It wasn’t designed to save the life of the wearer, just to keep them fighting.

But when the exo’s power cell died, so would the pain relief.

 

23%

 

Sean’s vomit splattered onto his torso, and clung to his chin. He’d been feeling nauseous for a while and hadn’t been able to stop himself from being sick when it had finally come. He sipped his water slowly, not wanting to take too much in case it caused him to vomit again, but he needed to take away the acidic taste he had in his mouth.  At least the artillery had knocked their bombardment on the head.

He froze as he heard someone cough. Despite the pain it caused he looked over his left shoulder. He hadn’t noticed but he was up against one of the metal crosses placed on the battlefield to prevent armour from moving easily across no-man’s land, not that they had any armour but the enemy hadn’t known that.

Straining, he could just see a woman in an exoskeleton trying to get up. She was on her hands and knees and looked like she was swaying a little. She didn’t have her helmet on and he could see her shaved head and knew it was Bren Wood. Bren was good people and someone who he had a lot of time for. He wished she’d keep her head down. She was a good soldier so she had to be suffering from shell-shock. There was no way she’d be exposing herself like that for any other reason.

Sean tried to call out, but all his vocal folds gave him was a scratchy gasp. He tried again as Bren fiddled with the release of her exoskeleton. It clanked as it opened and she fought her way free of it. He watched in horror as she got to her feet and began to stumble around the body-strewn battlefield.

“..en…get…own.”

Bren looked his way and locked eyes with him just before she took a bullet to the chest. It didn’t knock her off her feet like he’d seen a hundred times before, but instead made her stumble back. She looked down at her chest in confusion before collapsing to her knees. Another shot and her head snapped back. Her body fell to the blood-soaked ground, leaving a red mist where her head had been. Machine gun fire tore up the ground around him as the enemy gunners honed in. In his effort to help Bren he’d brought the eyes of the enemy onto him when they hadn’t known he was there.

Each time a string of bullets dug into the ground, Sean flinched. Even more so when they hit the metal cross that he was against. The gun crew didn’t know exactly where he was and he tried his best not to give himself away any more than he had done. After a few more bursts, the machine gun fell silent. Sean braced himself for the next round but it didn’t come. For the first time in hours there was no gunfire, no explosions, no sounds of pain and agony. It was just quiet and that freaked him out more than the cacophony of war.

As his ears got used to the silence he realised he could hear the hum coming from the power plant behind enemy lines. He glanced over his shoulder and saw the complex just a few hundred metres away. A few lights shone in the windows but he couldn’t see much more beyond the fortifications. Nine weeks of fighting for an inch at a time and this was as close as he’d got. This was as close as they would ever get. The enemy had been digging in for months before Sean’s regiment had been dropped in a mile out from the power plant. They had begun fighting as soon as they had touched down. Their drop ship had gone down before all of the troops could get out, its power cell taking a direct hit and tearing the mammoth aircraft to shrapnel and those in it to bones covered in charred flesh. Drop craft had re-supplied them from high-altitude but the last one had been four days ago. They had to take this power plant. If they didn’t then their loved ones would be living in the dark ages once again.

 

5%

Sean woke slowly as rain fell on his face. He’d passed out. The first thing he saw was his exo’s display flashing 5% in deep red numbers across the cracked screen, but it then changed to a red radiation symbol. He wet himself. This meant the area was radioactive, or that his side had launched a nuke and they were in the blast zone.

He shook his head. Maybe it was a malfunction with the exoskeleton- he knew it was damaged. Panic filled him and he tried to move again but all this did was bring pain. He cried out, and machine gun fire tore the sodden ground up around him once more.

His people wouldn’t nuke it, it was the last power station known to man. There weren’t the resources in the ground to burn, or the ability to make another one. That’s not to say they hadn’t tried. A whole swathe of northern Europe was a nuclear wasteland because of it. The smog blocked out too much of the sun’s light to make solar viable. Without this station, what was left of mankind would have to rely on wind turbines, which the wealthy controlled and charged excessive fees for the electricity. His people wouldn’t nuke it, but their leaders would. Sean knew if those who ruled from their fortified bunkers couldn’t have something then they wouldn’t let anyone have it.

Sirens sounded from the power plant. Anti-aircraft guns pumped flack into the twilight sky. He smiled at the beauty of it, like fireworks that he’d seen videos of when he was a kid, before electricity and food and water were rationed. He thought back to celebrating his wedding with the clean, recycled water that his now dead father had been saving for a special occasion. The two families had all chipped in with their rations of electricity to have a party with music and flashing coloured lights.

The rain hid his tears from the dead that lay around him, but it didn’t hide the weak smile on his face at the thought of his wedding to Sarah. He wondered if war and nature had buried her yet. He didn’t like the thought she was out there waiting for the scavengers to come. He knew she was dead, even if he hadn’t been officially told. She’d been deployed on the other side of the power plant. Their drop-ship had dropped them half-a-mile closer to the power plant than it was meant to, and into a minefield that had become a shooting range. He’d seen drone footage of the fight, and of the bodies scattered after the shooting had stopped. They never stood a chance.

The display over his eyes stopped showing the power cells remaining charge. Now it just flashed the nuclear alert urgently. Sean closed his eyes as the end of the modern era of humanity came to an end.

 

0%

 


About the author

PETER GERMANY

 

Peter Germany is a writer of Science Fiction and Horror from Gravesend in Kent who intends to finish a novel, one day. He is influenced by writers like Dan Abnett, Scott Sigler, CL Raven and Joe Haldeman.

When not pretending to be normal at a day job, he is writing or dealing with a supreme being (a cat), an energetic puppy, and trying to wrangle a small flock of chickens. He also spends an unhealthy amount of time watching good and bad TV and movies.

You can find him at his blog: http://petergermany.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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BACK TO THE STORIES

I’m Mar.
Head of The Bold Mom.
Promoter and compulsive thinker.

OCTOBER TERROR – “Power Cut” by Christopher Law

Power Cut

Christopher Law

 

It took me a few minutes after waking to realise where I was, my mind still muddled by sleep and the drugs in my system. Then I became aware of the antiseptic smell and the soft hum of the machines I’m connected to, the distant sound of people talking quietly beyond the curtains and the crisp feel of the sheets and blankets, the unmistakeable firmness of a hospital bed. I might have realised quicker if I could see but I was born blind; my world is one of touch and sound.

I wasn’t alarmed, although that might have been the drugs. My entire life before that moment was jumbled and distant, as if I had slept for years. I wasn’t in pain and, so far as I could tell, I was physically intact. I thought about calling for help but it seemed like something that could wait and I drifted back into sleep, certain everything would be explained in due course, my sleepy mind dismissing the whole experience as a vivid dream, strange but benign.

The second time I woke, my wife was sitting beside me, her perfume cutting through the hospital smell. My thoughts were much clearer and I tried to say hello to her, belatedly realising that whatever had happened to me might have involved her as well. The guilt I felt at not thinking of the risk to her sooner was washed away by the simultaneous relief that she was okay.

That was when I realised there was a tube running down my throat, working my lungs without any involvement from me. The alarm I hadn’t felt the first time I woke arrived, hysterically focusing on the tube, the plastic taste and feel of it. Physically, I still felt perfectly fine, but if I was on a ventilator that clearly wasn’t correct. I tried again, hoping to make some kind of noise to alert my wife, since talk was impossible. No sound emerged, my lips and tongue immobile.

I’m a solicitor, my days spent in the intricacies of inheritance laws in Britain and beyond. I get paid to sit and think, trusted to find the best way around the tax regimes and idiosyncratic laws of a dozen countries. I pushed my panic down, forced the fear into a corner and tried to raise my hand, reaching for my wife.

I couldn’t move my hand, couldn’t even twitch a finger. I felt the command leave my mind, travel down my arm, but nothing happened at the far end. My emotions harder to control now, I thrashed and screamed within the confines of my mind, trying to wake myself from the dream. I lay motionless, able to feel the blankets over my body and the IV tubes in my arms, the bunged-up sensation from the catheters dealing with my waste. I could feel everything, I just couldn’t move.

I was still trying when I heard the chair scrape as my wife stood up, felt her kiss me.

“I know you are in there, sweetheart. I’ll be back later, I love you.”

After she left me alone with my thoughts I continued to try until I was worn out and drifted back into sleep, my dreams dominated by increasingly clear and coherent memories of my life before this bed. On the verge of sleep I thought I could sense someone come to my bedside; if so, they were silent and left before I woke again.

 

The day when everything changed was almost like any other – the first day of the three weeks annual leave I’d taken for our silver wedding anniversary. The actual date wasn’t until ten days later, by which time we’d be in the Seychelles, and my wife still had a full week before her own leave started. I’d taken the extra week to take care of the last few bits and bobs before our flight on Saturday, as well as devote a few days to working on my book. It’s a collection of the quirkier cases that have come before British courts I’ve been working on since my post-grad days. I like to claim it would be finished by now if it didn’t take so long to get Braille copies of the source material, or I had the money to pay a team of full-time transcribers. That’s probably not true but procrastination, excuses and the written word are ancient bedfellows.

I allowed myself a lie-in that morning, waking long enough to kiss my wife goodbye as she left and then allowing myself to doze until almost eleven, Scrabble and the cat beside me on the bed. Scrabble is my guide-dog and the cat is a stray that chose us a few years ago, an elderly queen that likes to groom Scrabble, my wife and sometimes me. My wife says the three of us look adorable when we’re all asleep, Scrabble by my feet and the cat on my chest.

It was a glorious day in mid-April, full of the promise of a glorious summer when spring’s riot was done. After a lazy, indulgent morning I listened to the one o’clock news on BBC One, unable to look away from the interminable wars in the Middle East and the fallout of Trump’s election. It would have broken my father’s heart to see what has become of his home country. He always thought it probable after the incompetence of Bush-Clinton-Bush. It’s a blessing he died in two-thousand-nine.

After the news I left, as much because Scrabble needed to do her business as the errands I had to run. We went the long route into town, through the park and then along the seafront. It was half-term and the park was noisy with children, the swings and skatepark bustling. I sat on a bench for an hour or so, my fingers running over the patterned dots of my book – a so-so police procedural. If it had been quieter, I might have paid more attention to the insults sent my way by the group of thuggish malcontents but not by much. I’m disabled and I look more like my Arabic father more than my English mother. I’m used to the abuse.

When we finally reached town we went to the bank first. I got the foreign currency needed for our holiday and double-checked that our travel insurance was adequate. It took the kid who served me almost fifteen minutes to find a Braille copy of the terms and conditions but he was so mortified that I had to let him off. I expect things to take a little longer, be a little more difficult, because I experience the world a little differently to most. The delay gave me time, as an afterthought, to get some Travellers Cheques. We weren’t travelling anywhere unstable or dangerous but I like to have a few cheques with me just in case.

After the bank I ran a few more errands – the chemist for the collection of pills my ageing wife and I require, then the dry-cleaners. The night before our flight we were throwing a party for our friends and families. It was going to be a big affair, all the money we might have spent on university fees for our children just sitting in our account, earning more interest a year than we tended to spend.

We’d both have rather had the children. We tried for years before we had to give-up, both of us scoring badly on the fertility front. Another round of IVF was financially possible but we’d failed so many times neither of us could face it again, even if the doctors hadn’t advised against it. After that, we looked at adoption but the agencies and government never liked my blindness. They couldn’t explain why it was a problem, it just was.

The situation couldn’t be changed, not without going to lengths neither of us was willing to contemplate. So, with more money than we’ve ever known what to do with, our gaggle of nephews and nieces have tidy sums waiting for them when they hit eighteen and more in store when my wife and I die, like a lot of other people. We update our wills every couple of years, if nothing requires it sooner. No-one will be left never needing to work again but, if they’re wise, they’ll live a whole better than they would have.

Finally, feeling good, I went to The Leg for a pint and cigar. I’m not really a smoker or a drinker, my father was the one with the problem, but occasionally I like to indulge.

 

“I don’t care what the tests say,” my wife is speaking in the low, controlled way she does when she’s truly angry. She’s holding my hand as she speaks, her perfume not as strong as usual. I can tell from the way she’s squeezing my hand that she’s upset. I’m doing my best to make my fingers move, to squeeze her hand in return. “He’s still in there. I know it. I’m not going to let you. I won’t.”

It has been months, almost a year, since I first woke and I’m in a different hospital bed – a private room where the flowers and air-fresheners are almost enough to overpower the bleach and phenol. I was moved here when the NHS couldn’t afford to keep pursuing a lost cause and, unless I’ve forgotten how to count and analyse since I became trapped, I know the private health insurance has also declared me gone. Everything keeping me alive is being paid for from our savings. No matter how she juggles, the money must be almost gone. Everything I’ve suffered, trapped in my own mind, screaming and begging before gods and demons I’ve never believed in, can be no worse than what she is going through, left alone in the world.

“I understand,” the doctor is on the other side of my bed. His English is good but there’s a trace of somewhere Eastern European in his accent. His voice comes from above me, my wife’s from one side. The doctor is a tall man, barrel chested from the depth of his voice. “He seems like he’s just sleeping, like he might wake at any moment, but he isn’t. I hate to say it, but he is gone and all any of us – me and you – can do is prolong his suffering. We have to let him go. Honour his wishes. His living will.”

I’m in here! Your tests are wrong! Your machines are wrong! I’m in here! I don’t care what I signed!

I’d scream it if I could but I’m still unable to breathe for myself, my fingers and toes as immobile as they’ve been since the first time I woke. I can feel everything as well as I ever could, maybe even better, and my mind is as capable as it ever was – I calculate immense sums and list the facts I know to keep my mind from wandering. It sounds arrogant without verification, but I’m right most of the time and, with so much free time, I find the mistakes when I review my work. It’d be harder if I could see, I’m sure – if I needed visual markers rather than mental to keep track. Arrogant, maybe, but also true.

The bits of my brain that make me who I am, the elusive corners where the soul lies, are as healthy as they’ve been since I was born. It’s the cruder parts, the animal control centres they can monitor, that have broken. They have wires and sensors all over my body, but none of them can register my thoughts. They can only monitor the electrical impulses that make muscles twitch, keep our lungs pumping and our hearts beating.

I read an article about this a while back, there’s a name for what I’m living through. All those coma patients, the ones in persistent vegetative states, who suddenly recover and rejoin the world, their waiting loved ones. You know the story, a staple of melodramas and soap operas. I’m one of those coma patients, one of the shut-ins.

In the past, we were the ones who were buried alive and somehow managed to break through our coffins, burrow through the dirt and be murdered as revenants and vampires. Now we are simply left to listen, trapped and unable to act, as we are abandoned, as our loved ones lose hope and the confines of our minds get closer and closer.

My wife read the same article, we had a long conversation with some friends about the implications and the horror of finding ourselves in that situation. At the time, my flippant best coming out after a few too many, I said I’d rather be killed and my donor card obeyed – take everything and anything that might help someone still alive and leave the rest for the worms. Now that I’m here, listening to my wife do her best to keep her hope alive, trying to do right by me, I wish I’d said something else.

My silent visitor, the one who never leaves, is happy I didn’t. I can’t tell you how I know this, given that the visitor never makes a noise, not even a breath or a sigh. I just feel the presence by my bedside, know that someone’s there, watching me die. The feeling has been growing stronger recently, feeding on my increasing fear as I know my wife’s deadline approaches.

 

“Ain’t it ‘gainst yer religion to drink?”

There was a powerful stench of body-odour coming from the thug leaning against the bar next to me, far too strong to be masked by the cheap deodorant he had sprayed over his clothes. There was also a hint of cigarette smoke and lager in the stench. Blind as I am, I could still see his bald head and red face, the gut straining at his England football shirt

I can’t say for sure if I recognised the thug’s voice as one of the ones that had shouted at me in the park. In retrospect, I have no doubt and can’t help but wish that Scrabble – who did recognise him – had been able to overcome her training and attack him first. She only rose from where she had been lying by my feet and pushed her head into my hand. She was a guide-dog, one of the best. They never bite.

“I’m not religious,” I said, working my thumb against the base of Scrabble’s ear. I could feel her trembling. “Just having a drink.”

They’d been working me for an hour, ever since I entered the pub. Perhaps I should have turned right around and taken the dry-cleaning home, cracked one of the Japanese beers in the fridge, but I’ve been drinking in The Leg since we bought our home. Our house is in my wife’s hometown and she’s been drinking in The Leg since she got her first fake ID. It’s a good, mellow place most of the time, favoured by leftists and wierdos – the sort of people who don’t get freaked by blind secular Arabs. I’ve been getting grief from bigots since I was born, I figured I’d just ride it out like I always had.

It started with the normal crap, the cheekier members of the group who’d drifted in putting bags and bottles in my way in the hope that I’d trip, probably pulling faces and making gestures – their kind always did. I didn’t respond to any of it, Scrabble leading me around the obstacles she couldn’t push aside with her nose. She was my third guide-dog and, much as I loved the previous two, she was the best by far.

I smoked my cigar, bought from the tin behind the counter, and drank my first pint in the beer-garden. I was feeling good and I knew my wife would be working late that day; I had plenty of time to nap away the effects of a second. I chose to drink it at the bar, chatting to the landlord. We’ve know each other for almost thirty years, in a casual way. I didn’t stop to think that there might be a problem brewing. Maybe I was too trusting.

“Ain’t religious?” the thug laughed. “All you Pakis are religious, it’s in yer DNA.”

“I’m not Pakistani. My dad was Syrian,” I can’t say for certain, having never been able to see, but I’m fairly sure Syrians and Pakistanis don’t look that much alike, beyond not being European.

“Whatever. Yer all in the same game. Ain’t they?”

The final comment was shouted out to his friends, who obediently cackled and howled, some of them calling me names and the others asking where I’d hidden my bomb. One of them started to sing Rule Britannia, but he didn’t know the words and was too drunk to enunciate.

“It’s time for you to leave,” the landlord said, his voice thick with embarrassment and disgust. “Now.”

“We ain’t leavin’,” the thug jeered. “I just got a fuckin’ round in.”

“Then drink ’em quick and get out. You aren’t welcome here.”

“Ain’t welcome? You hear that, lads – we ain’t welcome in our own country?”

My memories are still jumbled after that, I don’t know exactly what happened or in what order. The thugs took exception to the request to leave, leapt on the opportunity for violence. From what my wife has said whilst she’s been sat by my side, holding my hand, I know that they were a gang of English fascists, on the prowl for a scrap. They’d have taken on some of their own kind but they saw me in the park and then bad luck landed them in my local.

They’re all doing time now, writing illiterate Tweets on the mobile phones they smuggled in up their arses and selling the drugs brought in by drone. They could be serving their time in a Siberian Gulag, breaking rocks in the nude, and it wouldn’t be enough to compensate for everything I’ve lost. No amount of suffering could equal my inability to control my own body, let my wife know that all I want is to hold and kiss her again. My unfinished book, the labour of my life, and our luxury holiday are minor details when set against the knowledge that I will never feel her in my arms, never bury my face in her hair again.

At night, when I’m alone and the ward beyond my door is quiet, I amuse myself with the things I’d do to them if I ever could, the things I’d pay to have done if I couldn’t do them myself. Those are the times when my silent visitors feel closest, the air tense as if the right cue to speak is due.

There was a lot of shouting and yelling after The Leg’s landlord told them to go and then, delighted by the opportunity, the thugs threw me to the ground, stamped on my head and ribs. One of them pulled the landlord over the bar, his bloated heart failing halfway down so that they only battered his corpse. Glasses and bottles flew everywhere – I can hear the sound of them breaking whenever I want – and Scrabble forgot her placidity training and tried to bite and maul as she defended me. One of them attacked her with a broken bottle, lost a finger or two but still killed her.

With a double murder on their hands (they thought they’d killed me too) and cocaine mingling with alcohol in their system, thrilled by the glory of violence, the thugs fled The Leg and did everything they could to spark a race-riot. They were brought down in less than twenty minutes, unable to find enough support for their brand of murderous hate.

I was found with my skull cracked open and my lungs punctured, both of them. My arms and legs were broken and one of them had ground a jagged bottleneck into my groin before he ran into the street, screaming for the Pakis and Yids to come out and meet him. About a month ago my wife told me that, no longer fuelled by cocaine and booze, he hung himself in his cell, broken by the real hard men.

I hope he suffered, I don’t care that he was only eighteen. I hope he suffered. If my visitor chose to speak, I’m sure I’d hear that he did.

 

“It’s the right thing to do,” the doctor is talking to my wife again, standing on the opposite side of the bed from her, like I’m not even here. “I’d choose a different outcome if I could, I really would, but…”

“I understand,” I’ve never heard her sound so small, so broken. She’s still holding my hand, I’d give my soul to squeeze her fingers – I’d give it to twitch the tip of my pinky. “I can’t believe he’s gone,” she hitches, strangles a sob. “I can’t. This can’t be real, please…it can’t be real.”

“You loved him, I can’t ever know how deeply, but you have to do this. Let us honour what he wanted, who he was – let us donate his organs.”

“I know it’s what I should do, what he wants,” her tears are falling now, I can feel them dripping on my cheeks as she bends down to kiss me. I want nothing more than to flex my fingers, arch my back, anything. “I know I must let him go.”

“He’s been gone for a long time. All you can do is remember him.”

It isn’t quick when they flip the switch. The hum of the machines and the static in the air fade quickly, but gradually – like slipping under the water in your bathtub. My attempts to refuse, make the machines keep me alive for just another day, all fail. My chest stops rising and falling, my heart stops beating.

My visitor finally steps forward, lays a hand on my chest and says something I can’t quite hear and for the first time in my life I can see.

The gates and walls of Heaven are more glorious than you can imagine. I’m new to colour so I am perhaps a little easier to impress than you but the gold tracery catching the sun, the pristine white of the marble look exactly how they feel, softer than kitten fur and smoother than silk. A man born with working eyes would be as incapable as I of describing what I see as I float, lighter than air, towards the gates.

I will be with my wife again behind those walls, the years that I have to wait before she joins me a time of joyful anticipation. The children we never had will join us there, the violence and hate my life ended with all wiped away. My father will be there, ready to use action-figures so I can feel the fights between the good and bad guys, my eyes closed so I can remember that the blindness is a part of me, intrinsic to who I am. I know that, as I draw closer to the gates, I will be blind again behind those walls and I do not mind – these moments of sight are all the proof I need to believe.

Then the path to the gates crumbles away and the walls become pockmarked. I feel hands and claws around my ankles, working up towards my knees. I see my wife above the crumpled gates, standing over the arch and framed by the ever higher walls that rise behind her. I almost hear her scream my name as my tongue tries to call hers.

It is a terrible fall, down towards the churning ocean of blood, flames licking the shores. All the way down, the malformed eagles and vultures scream and hiss at me, delighting in the fact that I glimpsed Heaven and they are hunting me.

I land abruptly, my new bed made of rock and inset with upturned nails that pierce my ankles and wrists, make a scattered line along my spine.

“Welcome,” I’m blind again and cannot see the monster above me, only feel the acidic sting of its warm spittle. The feel of it in the air is the same as my silent visitor. “You saw Heaven, belonged there, but things have changed, my little love.”

I hear the screams echoing all around me, feel a hundred tiny hands cutting and peeling my skin back. I try not to think of my wife, hope she never thinks of me – the connection will drag her down. I understand so much, see the futility of hope, now that I am in this place. I can’t help but think of her, all the good things and the bad. The bad loom larger and larger as the pain increases until I can’t remember what the good things were.

“Innocence burns now,” my tormentor laughs, ripping my testicles away with one hand as the other digs into my midriff. “Hell is the fate waiting for us all. Heaven is no more.”

I’d not be here if the machines were running, if my wife hadn’t let the doctors flip the switch. As I lose the last of my purity and hope, I want her to come suffer with me.


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About the author

CHRISTOPHER LAW

Christopher Law is the author of Chaos Tales, Chaos Tales II: Hell TV and the soon to be released Chaos Tales III: Infodump, plus a gaggle of other shorts and a clutch of novels he will get published.

 

You can find him on Facebook as Christopher Law Horror Writer and at evilscribbles.wordpress.com. Other than that he’s rather dull and middle-aged, still has a great view of the castle apart from the hill in the way and is thinking about getting some kittens.

 

Find him on his Facebook page

https://www.facebook.com/evilscribbles/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


BACK TO THE STORIES

I’m Mar.
Head of The Bold Mom.
Promoter and compulsive thinker.

OCTOBER TERROR – “There’s No Lights On The Christmas Tree, Mother. They’re Burning Big Louie Tonight.” by Matthew Cash

There’s No Lights On The Christmas Tree, Mother. They’re Burning Big Louie Tonight.

Matthew Cash

 

The Nice Lady said that if I told you about what happened she would let me see Saffy, my sister.

Me and Saffy don’t like Louie.

Even Frankie doesn’t like Louie, and he likes everyone.

I hate him I do, hate him loads, more than mash potato.
Louie is a naughty, evil, wicked man. “A devil in disguise,” that’s what Nanna said one day near my birthday before she left on the 57 bus. On Sundays, Nanna would come round really early and wake us up. Me and Saffy was ever so excited every time Sunday came. Nanna used to bring breakfast, sometimes donuts but not the yucky ones with custard in or jam that squirts on you like fly guts and brains. She would bring the round ones with a hole in the middle. Me and Saffy would scoff ’em down, sometimes cuz I’m a big boy she’d let me have two.
Afterwards, she would bring stuff out of her wheelie bag and put it in the oven. “Every family deserves a good Sunday dinner,” Nanna always said.
Mummy and Louie would always get up really, really late, sometimes after twelve o’clock in the day! Mummy would always look tired and sometimes she had purple stuff around her eyes. Saffy used to think that was funny cuz it made Mummy look like a panda. “Panda-Mummy,” Saffy would shout, jumping up and down when Mummy came downstairs for her drink. “Mummy juice” is what Mummy called it but I know it is called COFFEE, cuz I’m good at reading and writing and Miss Farr at school says I’m the best in the class. COFFEE tastes yucky, but I like the smell it does cuz it makes me think of Mummy.

Nanna would always look at Mummy funny, her eyes gone all slitty and her mouth screwed up really little, but she never said nothing. When Louie came down the stairs it was like a elephant. Nanna always looked at him funny too, the same face she made when I stood on dog poo in my trainers once and walked it on her carpet.
Louie would always wind us up like, he would snatch a donut out of our hands and ruffle our hairs like he was joking but he never gave the stuff he took back.
On that day, Saffy was really happy cuz Mummy had got panda eyes again, she danced round and around and around the kitchen singing a song about Panda-Mummy having her Mummy Juice. When Louie laughed it sounded like he had a bad cough, like Jimmy Morgan in my class gets after P.E when he has the asthma. He did that laugh and said, “Mummy had plenty of Mummy juice last night, and loads of daddy juice.” He did the laugh again but I don’t think his joke was funny, or maybe Mummy and Nanna didn’t get it cuz no one laughed.

Louie wasn’t our real Daddy and we didn’t have to call him it either, but he told us off like he was our Daddy, which wasn’t fair if he wasn’t.
Me and Saffy were told to go and play in the garden by Mummy cuz Nanna had started shouting at Louie cuz of his joke that wasn’t funny. It was cold outside and all the ground was wet.

Outside we could hear all the shouting, it was very loud. I held Saffy’s hand cuz she didn’t like the shouting, it made her cry and put her hands over her ears. Cuz it was fireworks three weeks before, I talked to her about fireworks and bonfire night and how we would get sparklies and hotdogs and toffee apples and sweets next year when Mummy took us, and how we would have to wrap up warm cuz in the autumn it gets colder and colder and when you do fireworks it’s at night time so it’s even colder. Cheered her right up that did, talking about fireworks. And we talked about Christmas coming and what things we wanted. We chased each other around and around and around the garden, pretending we was fireworks for ages until I needed a wee and we went back to the house.

The kitchen was a right mess when we came back in, the table was on the floor and there was washing up everywhere, some of it brokened. I told Saffy not to touch it cuz broken stuff could give you a poorly and she’d probably get told off if she got a poorly.
I called Mummy but she didn’t answer.

The door to the base…thingy under the kitchen, was opened. No one was allowed down there or “they’d be in for it” that’s what Louie said. He said it was his man-cave, but I remember when I was really little and before Saffy was borned, Mummy used to have the washing machine and tumble dryer down there and it wasn’t a cave, just a dark, dusty room full of boxes and tools. Caves were all dark and drippy and spiky and trolls lived in ‘em. There weren’t any trolls down there when I went down that time.

But when Louie camed to live with us it was then called his man-cave. He sometimes had his friend Steve round to play and they’d go down and play loud music and drink beer. Beer is also yucky, once I tried some of Louie’s beer he had in a can which said SPECIAL BREW and it made me pull a face and go yuck. Louie saw me do it and I thought I was going to be in for it but he did that laugh of his and then told me to drink it all. I cried cuz it tasted yuck but he did his angry face and told me he’d turn me into a panda too if I didn’t. So I dranked it all and soon as I dranked it I puked everywhere. All over the floor. It was brown with rice krispies in it. Louie laughed and then Frankie came in from digging outside and started to lick the floor which was really really yucky. Frankie is my best dog and I tried to stop him but slipped on the sick and felled on my bottom. It made me cry some more but when Frankie had licked all my puke up he licked my cry away too. I love Frankie. Every time Louie went near Frankie he used to woof and make a thunder noise in his mouth. Once, just after Louie came to live, he kicked Frankie in the tummy for knocking over one of his beers. He didn’t do it on purpose cuz dogs don’t do things like that on purpose.
When we walked to the man-cave door, Louie came out really quickly like he was running.
Louie couldn’t run, he was big and fat. Once him and Mummy took us to the park and me and Saffy ran after the ice cream van as it was getting late and he tried to catch up with us but couldn’t. His big tummy was wobbling all over the place. It was funny, like Daddy Pig in Peppa. But he shouted at us for running off and then at Mummy who said, “Don’t you shout at my children.” And when the ice cream man leant out of the window to ask us what we would like Louie said, “Fuck off you dirty, Paki cunt!”
I don’t know what any of those words mean apart from ‘off’, ‘you’ and ‘dirty’, but he seemed like a nice friendly man, not dirty or smelly at all, and the other words must’ve been nasty as Louie’s face went all red when he shouted ’em and the nice ice cream man looked like he was going to be crying. Saffy cried when the van drove out the park, I just felt upset.

Louie banged the man-cave door shut and locked it with the key he kept in his pocket. “Mummy and Nanna have gone to the shops. Go to your room,” He said before walking to the fridge and getting a SPECIAL BREW out. His boots went crunch on the broken washing up.

We did as we was told cuz we had to be extra good when Mummy was out or Louie might lose his rag. I had never even seen him with it so don’t know how he could lose it. I sawed Nanny’s wheelie bag and thought, blige me, why ain’t she taken that to the shops? She always took it to the shops. Then I remembered it was Sunday and how Mummy told us the shops shut early on Sundays cuz of God and thought maybe they would be back soon and had just gone out to get one thing.
We played upstairs for ages and ages until it got dark and Louie shouted us to come down. Mummy and Nanna still weren’t home and Louie had tidied up all the mess in the kitchen and got the red plates out that we had Christmas dinner on. Nanna’s meat she put in the oven was on the table but instead of all the gravy and vegetables that we had to eat or no pudding, there was just meat and a pack of bread. Louie cutted the meat up all messy, not how Nanna does it and made us red sauce and meat sandwiches. Me and Saffy couldn’t eat our sandwiches cuz the meat was too hard and hurt our teeth, it was always nice when Nanna made it with gravy and roasted potatoes. Louie shouted at us and said we would eat it or starve. I didn’t know what starve was but we had been learning about opposites at school with Miss Farr and I thought that if starve was an opposite to eat it meant we would be hungry. I was clever though cuz I tooked the meat out of our sandwiches and gave it to Frankie when Louie went to the fridge. Louie caught me though and kicked his foot up Frankie’s bum and he made a squeaky noise and ran upstairs. Louie growled in my face but he talked at the same time and said, “eat your fucking dinner.”
We had red sauce sandwiches.

Mummy still hadn’t come home the next morning which was weird cuz she never was out overnight. Louie was sat in the armchair asleep, all around him was cans and cans of SPECIAL BREW. He smelled bad. I tried to wake him up cuz of breakfast and school but he was snoring too loud. I felt really upset and worried cuz I know it’s naughty to miss school if you’re not ill and I like school, especially Miss Farr. She’s my favourite teacher ever in the world and I think I love her.
Saffy was upset lots cuz Mummy not being there still and she wanted rice krispies for breakfast but she couldn’t have ’em cuz I couldn’t reach ’em on top of the cupboard above the microwave. There was still bread on the kitchen table and even though it was a bit stiff it was alright with red sauce on.

After breakfast we went into the lounge and put CBeebies on, it was cool cuz we didn’t get to watch it that much cuz of school and even though I’m nearly seven I still like watching the programmes on there. I let Saffy have the buttons cuz it always cheered her right up but she put it up too loud and Louie woke up really really angry and threw a can of beer at her head. Even though it was empty it still smacked her one and made her cry, and when Louie picked her up by her clothes and shouted, “shut the fuck up you little cunt,” right in her face she did a massive wee right down his t-shirt. Louie’s face went all red like a great big tomato and he threwed Saffy against the TV on the wall. She hit it with a loud bang and it went off just as Mr Tumble came on which was good cuz I don’t like him, he’s a right weirdo.
Saffy laid on the floor and Louie looked at me all funny like Billy Coleman in Mrs Cameron’s class in assembly once when he was messing about with Danny Williams and accidentally knocked the fire extinguisher off the wall. He put his hands on his big fat red face and looked at me really scared, Louie did. He moved towards me but I was frightened he was going to hurt me too so I stepped back. Then Saffy started crying louder than I’d ever ever heard her cry in my whole life and Louie didn’t look so frightened. He all of a sudden smiled and picked Saffy up and said sorry lots and lots and cuddled her even though she had weed herself.
Louie was really nice to us afterwards and even said we could put the Christmas decorations up for a surprise for Mummy and Nanna. It was like someone had swapped Louie for a Nice Louie. He even went out to McDonald’s to get us a Happy Meal each at lunchtime. I was a bit scared at being at home without an adult but he told me not to answer the door to anyone or touch the phone and that I was a big brave boy for looking after my sister.

Saffy was happy she was getting McDonald’s but she kept moaning about her arm being poorly.
When Louie went out to get the McDonald’s I thought I would surprise him and show him how much of a big boy I was by getting the Christmas decorations out from the basement. I remembered the word now. BASEMENT. I knew Mummy used to keep ’em down there cuz before Louie came there was a big box behind the tumble dryer with ‘XMAS’ written on it.
Louie always locked the door but I knew there was a key in the knives and forks drawer which we wasn’t allowed to touch and cuz he knew I was a big boy now I thought it would be okay to go down and get ‘em.
So I told Saffy to stay and watch CBeebies cuz the telly was on again even though the picture was a bit squiggly or else she’d be in for it. She was a good girl and sat watching Balamory and hugging her poorly arm.
I got the key from the knives and forks drawer and was careful not to touch any of the big sharp knives that Mummy used to cut stuff with and went to the basement door.
I undid the door and it was all black down there. I was a bit scared but I knew there was nothing down there that could scare me really, apart from maybe a spider but I don’t mind spiders.

Spiders catch flies and I hate flies.

There was a really nasty smell, worse than farts, that came from Louie’s man-cave and I’m positive I could hear flies buzzing.
I couldn’t find the lightswitch, it might have been too high up but last time I went down here when Mummy had the washing machine and tumble dryer in there it was a string that turned the light on but I couldn’t find it. I checked the other side of the door and all of a sudden I heard Louie shout at me really, really angry, so angry Frankie came running in the kitchen woofing. “DAVID!” He shouted and I turned round and saw the two Happy Meal boxes on the floor. Louie’s face was all red again and he stomped across the kitchen at me. Frankie started woofing around his feet and Louie did something really evil then. He kicked Frankie so hard he flew through the air and down into the black basement. I turned to run down the steps to get my dog, he’s a sausage dog, and Louie grabbed his hand around my neck and pulled me backwards. He slammed the basement door shut and made a fist like people fighting do and hit me in the eye. I fell on the floor and went to sleep for a bit.

When I woke up my eye and face really hurt, my face was all big and felt sore and funny. Saffy was sat on the sofa still watching CBeebies with an empty Happy Meal box beside her and a purple Fruit Shoot. She looked at me and laughed and said, “Panda, panda!”

Now I knew how Mummy got her panda eyes.

Louie sat in his chair with another beer, and beside him was the box of Christmas decorations, Saffy had dobbed us in. All he said was, “you don’t go in my man-cave.”
I ate my McDonald’s cold only cuz I was hungry. I missed Frankie. I wanted to know where he was and if he was okay.

Louie started being nice again and said that whilst I was asleep he fetched the decorations and made sure Frankie was alright and that he had made Frankie a nice big dog bed in the man-cave so he could be warm and cosy.
After that Louie climbed up into the loft and got down our Christmas tree and told me and Saffy we could decorate it ourselves whilst he did something in the man-cave.

I don’t know what he was doing but he must have gone in the garden as well cuz he was all dirty and sweaty afterwards. His white tracksuit trousers were disgusting, they had all kinds of yucky stuff on ’em. We showed him the Christmas tree and asked him if he would help us with the lights. He said we had done a good job but wanted to have a bath as he was tired after all the work he had being doing in the man-cave, and that he would probably have even more work to do when we were asleep. He must’ve seen I was sad cuz he sighed and said he would help us stick the lights on after his bath. Then he took two beers from the fridge and went into the bathroom.

I couldn’t wait to see the lights on and last year Mummy always plugged ’em in before putting ’em on the tree to test they worked as they had been Nanny’s lights when Mummy was a little girl so they was really old. They are little lanterns that light up in all the colours you can think of.

While Louie was in the bath, cuz CBeebies had ended I thought it would be cool to show Saffy the pretty lights and tell her about Mummy having ’em at Nanna’s house when she was a little girl. I made sure she was very very careful, that they weren’t a toy, but she wanted to see ’em turned on. I said no she couldn’t as it was dangerous messing with lecktrics and that only adults were allowed. But she kept going on and on and on and on and on so I put the plug in the plughole by Louie’s chair. They came on after two seconds and they were really pretty. Saffy said that she loved ’em and picked up a blue lantern to look at it closelier. Then one of the red uns made a fizzy noise and popped and went out.
I was upset and didn’t want to get told off so did what Mummy always said. “If you break something, it is better to come clean about it.”
So, even though I was frightened Louie would hit us again I knew that I had to tell him.

I lugged all the lights up the stairs and was careful not to stand on any in case I broked em. In the hallway opposite the bathroom was a plughole so I plugged ’em in so I could show Louie the light wasn’t working. I switched ’em on and a green un went fizzle too. I knocked on the door and told Louie I needed to show him something. He moaned at me and said, “if it’s not fucking important then it’ll wait till after me bath.”I heard him open another can of SPECIAL BREW.
I said to him that it was very, very important and that he needed to see it right now. He said more bad words, I said earlier I didn’t know the words but I had heard ’em before just don’t know what they mean. He said, “oh for fuck’s sake, get in here.”
So I bundled up the lights in my arms and walked in. Louie had been really naughty cuz Mummy said that whenever she got us ready for our baths to put a towel down in case we slid on the wet floor. My Transformers sock slipped on the floor where some of the bath water had spilt and I chucked the bunch of lights into Louie’s bath with him.
They made lots of funny noises and did funny sparkly things, it was really pretty and I have never seen ’em do that before. Louie shouted out and I ran out of the bathroom and fell on my bottom in the hallway. For some reason Louie did a really strange laying down dance in the bath, the water went everywhere, nearly on the hallway carpet. He crunched the SPECIAL BREW can in his hand and stopped moving.
The lights in the whole house went out and I heard Saffy moan from downstairs.

It was dark everywhere, even the light in the fridge was not working. I held Saffy’s hand and cuddled her on the sofa and told her it was going to be okay and that Mummy and Nanna would be home soon and would turn the lecktrics back on so she could have her moon nightlight at bedtime.
We sat there for a long time, until we went to sleep.

I woked up the next morning when it was light and went to see where Louie was. I thought it was funny that he was still in the bath and thought he was asleep but saw his eyes were open. Then I knew he had had a poorly, a bad one. That he might even be dead like Grandpa and Danny Williams’s Daddy. I was very frightened but last month a policeman called PC Andrews came into our class to explain STRANGER DANGER to us and how we should always tell an adult and dial nine nine nine in an emergency. I went and picked the phone up but they weren’t working cuz the lecktrics had broked and our phones plugged into the plugholes.
So I got Saffy and gave her a carton of juice and her favourite My Little Pony and we went round to Charlotte’s next door but one to tell her as Mummy always said that Aunty Charlotte was her “best friend.”
Aunty Charlotte called the nine nine nines on her mobile phone and when the ambulance came and even the police they went down into the basement to look in Louie’s man-cave and found the floor all dug up like the garden with two great big holes that somebody could fall in if they weren’t careful. Don’t know what he was digging for, maybe buried treasure.

Then you took us and we saw the Nice Lady and she gave me a orange squash and a cheese sandwich and I ate it all up even though I don’t really like cheese.
Can I see my sister now?
When will Mummy come and get us?



About the author

MATTHEW CASH

Matthew Cash, or Matty-Bob Cash as he is known to most, was born and raised in Suffolk; which is the setting for his debut novel Pinprick. He is compiler and editor of Death By Chocolate, a chocoholic horror Anthology, Sparks, the 12Days: STOCKING FILLERS Anthology, and its subsequent yearly annuals and has numerous releases on Kindle and several collections in paperback.

In 2016 he started his own label, Burdizzo Books, with the intention of compiling and releasing charity anthologies a few times a year. He is currently working on numerous projects, his second novel FUR will hopefully be launched 2018.

He has always written stories since he first learnt to write and most, although not all, tend to slip into the many layered murky depths of the Horror genre.
His influences ranged from when he first started reading to Present day are, to name but a small select few; Roald Dahl, James Herbert, Clive Barker, Stephen King, Stephen Laws, and more recently he enjoys Adam Nevill, F.R Tallis, Michael Bray, Gary Fry, William Meikle and Iain Rob Wright (who featured Matty-Bob in his famous A-Z of Horror title M is For Matty-Bob, plus Matthew wrote his own version of events which was included as a bonus).
He is a father of two, a husband of one and a zoo keeper of numerous fur babies.

 

 


You can find him here:

www.facebook.com/pinprickbymatthewcash

https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B010MQTWKK

Website: www.Facebook.com/pinprickbymatthewcash

Twitter @mattybob1979

 

Other Releases By Matthew Cash

 

Novels

Virgin And The Hunter

Pinprick

 

Novellas

Ankle Biters

KrackerJack

Illness

Hell And Sebastian

Waiting For Godfrey

Deadbeard

The Cat Came Back

Krackerjack 2 [coming soon]

 

Short Stories

Why Can’t I Be You?

Slugs And Snails And Puppydog Tails

OldTimers

Hunt The C*nt

 

 

Anthologies Compiled and Edited By Matthew Cash

Death By Chocolate

12 Days Anthology

The Reverend Burdizzo’s Hymn Book (with Em Dehaney)

 

Anthologies Featuring Matthew Cash

Rejected For Content 3: Vicious Vengeance

JEApers Creepers

Full Moon Slaughter

Down The Rabbit Hole: Tales of Insanity

 

Collections

The Cash Compendium Volume 1 [coming soon]


BACK TO THE STORIES

 

 

I’m Mar.
Head of The Bold Mom.
Promoter and compulsive thinker.