Category Archives: Stories

Clanks at Midnight

The place smelled like shit and piss.

“I thought these things didn’t have bodily excretions,” I called out to my partner.

“They’re not supposed to,” she replied. “For some reason this one does. Someone’s been hard at work making a clank that can process food the way humans do.”

The clank was a junker, alright, especially since someone had unloaded several rounds of buckshot into the thing. Oil and grease spattered the wall around where it was slumped, and a puddle of very human sewage was leaking onto the floor around the thing.

“Makes you wonder what happened here,” I said thoughtfully. No answer. I looked around. “Mel?”

I found her in the next room looking at a scrap of paper she’d found on the desk. I looked over her shoulder and read: Nobody loves a clank at midnight.

“What does that mean?” I asked.

“Hell if I know, Joe. Nothing about this makes sense. We still haven’t found Mr. Peabody.” She sighed. “Maybe when we find him, we’ll have our answers.”

Maybe, I thought, but I wouldn’t count on it.

[Originally posted at Ficly.]

Meat-Eater

In hindsight, Trista realized she probably shouldn’t have fallen asleep under that tree.

Pus dripped into Trista’s eyes from the multiple infected sores on her scalp. She wanted to wipe it away, but the tree held her fast, pinning her arms to her sides, arms she could no longer feel. Feverish and frequently delirious, Trista couldn’t struggle. She’d lost track of how long she’d been trapped here. Days? Hours? She couldn’t remember.

Her body was coming apart. She was covered in sores as the tree slowly digested her. Her skin was sloughing off in greasy sheets, exposing bone and muscle that had turned black from the tree’s corrosive sap. Strands of flesh and tissue were all that was holding her organs in and that not very well. Already thick coils of bowel stretched from her abdomen to the ground, where insects feasted on them.

In her rare moments of coherency, she longed for death. She had suffered for so long.

Her final thought was a wish – a wish that she had never ventured into this hateful forest.

[Originally posted on Ficly.]

Skin Deep

He works quickly, his deft hands flitting over the instruments with a skill that comes from a vast history of experience. He talks while he works.

“You are my failure,” he says. “I blame only myself.”

He sets one tool down on the tray, picking up the next.

“I raised you better,” he sighs. There is melancholy in his voice. “But alas, the damage is done.”

He pauses for several long moments, intent on his work. Large beads of sweat stand out on his brow. He pays them no notice. He grunts with the exertion of one particularly difficult area, and after a moment he resumes his narrative.

“Do you know,” he asks, “that vanity is considered a deadly sin? Well, it goes with pride, at any rate.” His chuckle is raw and coarse. “I tried to break you of it, but of all my daughters, you were always the one most taken with her looks.”

He makes one final cut and the last of the girl’s skin springs free, stretched taught on the frame above her.

He gestures. “And you see? I warned you. Beauty really is only skin deep.”

[Originally posted on Ficly.]

Magic In Unexpected Places

Claire found the hat half under a bush, half out. It was the sort of hat one might wear while working in the garden — woven straw and wide-brimmed. Claire turned the hat in her hands. The top had been torn out, leaving ragged edges and a large hole.

She flipped the hat over — and it took a moment for her mind to resolve what she saw. All around her it was broad daylight, but looking down through the hole in the hat revealed a landscape cast in night’s shadow. Night, in a place that was other.

It was like a window into another world, or maybe more like a periscope. When Claire moved, that other landscape moved in concert. When she turned, that other place turned, and she saw a world much like her own and yet different in some indefinable way.

She brought the hat down to the ground so to reach through, pluck a blade of grass, and pull it back when a voice, solemn and sad, caused her to gasp and nearly drop the hat.

“I wouldn’t do that were I you. Stuff really shouldn’t cross between our two worlds.”

[Originally posted on Ficly.]

Attacked

He helped her up from the floor. She was bruised, bloody, and shaken. Whatever had happened here, it had been violent and traumatic. The room was a study in chaos.

“You alright?” he asked. No response. Her gaze was distant, focused on something far from here. He tried again. “Hey! Look at me!”

She did.

“Are you alright?” She nodded, tentative at first, then more emphatically. “Good,” he said. “What’s your name?”

“S- Sarah.” Definitely in shock.

“Ok, Sarah. It’s ok, now. I’m going to get you out of here.” She sagged against his shoulder.

“Can you tell me what happened?”

He felt her nod. “Attacked.”

“By what?” No response.

Something crashed in the other room. He made her look at him again, helped her focus.

“Ok, Sarah, this is important. The thing that attacked you, it might still be here.” Fear flashed in her eyes. “Can you tell me what it looks like?”

Her face clouded with confusion.

“I- yeah, but it doesn’t make sense.”

“It’s okay. Just tell me.”

“It looked like a pair of folded purple socks.”

[Originally posted at Ficly.]

Flight

Lightning flashed, and the boys ran, pumping their legs as hard as they could.

“Did you see that?” the first cried.

“No, and neither did you! Keep running!”

“I can’t,” came the reply. “I’ve got to stop for a sec.”

They dropped behind a fallen log and sucked air in ragged gasps, the panic of their flight showing its toll on them. Blood roared in their ears as their scared and exhausted bodies tried to compensate for the brutal run.

“Was that what I think it was?” the first asked. The reply came as a nod. “How can that be? I thought they were just legend?”

The second shook his head. “I don’t know, and it doesn’t matter now. We just have to get away. Ready?”

“Yeah, I think so.”

“Good. We’re almost there.”

They stood to run again, and another flash of lightning illuminated the shadow looming over them, arms outstretched, a wooden pole shoved up its back. They screamed, and the thunder boomed.

In the morning, the ring of scarecrows circling the town had increased by two.

[Originally posted on Ficly.]

Market of the Macabre

This entry is part 1 of 12 in the series Market of the Macabre

He drifted through the cacophony with certain inevitability. Barkers called out their wares along the way.

“Seed of life, extracted via rectal cavity!”

“Fetal tissue from forced abortion!”

“Skullcap of a suicided dwarf!”

“Broken heart! Freshly broken!”

On and on the calls went, featuring items of the grisly and the grotesque. His attention, then, was ripped away by the Finder rapping on the bars of the cage.

“Too bad none of these Rippers has you, eh, lad?” The Finder’s chuckle was wet and croupy. A clump of phlegm shot out and slid down one of the bars. “I knows me my goods, I does, I does. Make me a small fortune from it, too.”

He watched with feverish eyes as the Finder stopped the cart and climbed up next to the cage. A pause to gather himself, and the Finder’s barked call brought all to silence in the market for a brief moment. Then as one, merchant and consumer alike surged forward to bid for this new prize.

“Last breath of a sickly boy with no hope, bottled right before your very eyes!”

[Originally posted on Ficly.]

Cursed

The Callous Demon peered down at Leohand from its perch atop the door. Leohand glared at the leathery creature.

“Ah, I see you’ve met Domedra,” Tarvin said, coming back into the room. “She’s harmless enough, but few of my customers care for her presence. Cuts down on theft.” He chuckled.

“I’ve come for an item in your collection,” Leohand growled. “A Prayer.”

Tarvin’s demeanor became serious as he dropped his voice to a whisper. “I don’t know who you are, chum, but I don’t deal in Relics.”

“I have it on good authority that you do.” Leohand pulled a folded document from his coat. As he took it, Tarvin’s eyes widened as the tattoo appeared from beneath Leohand’s sleeve.

Nodding, Leohand declared, “I have carried this Curse for twelve years.” Tarvin felt the blood drain from his face. Few Cursed lived longer than three years. That this man had survived four times that long…

“Remember that before you choose to cross me,” Leohand finished.

Tarvin stammered, “Y- Um, which Prayer specifically did you want?”

[Originally posted on Ficly.]

Creeping Up the Back Stairs

The party upstairs was in full swing, the bump-bump-bump of the music audible even from outside.

In the darkness on the back stairs, a shadow moved. The form had almost no shape; it moved like liquid. It climbed each step with meticulous care, coalescing itself before pushing its turgid form upward to grab the lip of the next step.

As it climbed, it left an unbroken strand of itself behind, a connection to something as yet unseen in the gloom beyond. Its progress was slow, but inexorable.

It reached the summit and paused, gathering itself and pulsing gently in time with the beat of the music inside. With each pulse it grew, siphoning more of itself upward until it filled the landing.

The span of a human heartbeat — and it surged under the door with alarming speed, invading the space within. What moments before was a festive celebration took but moments to dissolve into terror and screaming.

The screaming ended far, far too quickly.

Originally posted on Ficly.

Ritual

His hood is pulled up, casting his face in shadow. The bus rolls to a stop in front of him, and he steps on board. He ignored the driver’s terse greeting. It’s not like he means it. Years of driving kids to school has turned this ritual into little more than a Pavlovian call-and-response.

He walks toward the back of the bus, looking for an open seat. One of the upperclassmen makes room for him.

As he takes his seat, the upperclassman peers under his hood. “You’re looking healthier. Eating better?” he asks.

He shrugs. It’s not like it matters. He always looks gaunt.

The upperclassman notices what he’s holding. “They’ll never let you take that into the school.”

“I know,” he replies. “It doesn’t matter.” The upperclassman nods like this makes sense.

At school, he steps up to the metal detector. One of the guards approaches. “Sorry, Famine. I can’t let you take the sickle in. You can get it back at the end of the day.”

Famine nods. This, too, is ritual. School policy. It’s not like he really needs it.

Originally posted on Ficly.