's 2013 Horror Write-off:

"The Visitor"

Submitted by J. Ford

Dear, Mrs. Eloise Nilsen,

    I wish to offer my condolences on the loss of your husband, Carl Nilsen. I tried my best to help but Mr. Nilsen was too far gone. All I could really offer was a bit of understanding just before he passed on. It was difficult to locate information any next of kin who claimed to know him. The only connection I had to go on was your name inscribed on his wedding ring. Along with this letter, you will find the ring and his watch. Both items sustained a good deal of trauma but only marginal damage altogether.
    At the time of this writing, I have been running a clinic in a small seaside community for over fifteen years. My patients are usually shipyard workers along with a number of local elderly citizens. No matter who came to me they expected answers, good or bad. That is why I feel I must explain your husband condition in the most honest way I can. In any case- whether you do read this letter or not- everything from here on is my recollection.

    About three weeks ago, a storm of terrific velocity passed through the area. The skies were streaked with bright orbs exploding like firecrackers above the troubled seas. Most of the locals swarmed into churches expecting judgment day, but at dawn the world still remained intact save for some broken windows among other damages inflicted by the storm. Treasure seekers and garbage men flocked the beach to collect the flotsam and jetsam from the previous evening. That was when they found them. The first was discovered by a pair of boys collecting bits of scrap metal. When they found it, the animals already had their fill of the venison. The carcass appeared to be simian except the bones were twisted-not broken, but warped- in a manner that would made it difficult to move. Everyone assumed it to be an animal washed ashore from a ship wreck. That is until the second one was found. Any distinguishing features the thing had was charred away. It could only be described as a large, egg-shaped mound of fatty flesh coated with a fine hair. Bits of metal jutted out of the epidermis like a pin cushion though any wounds appeared to have fully healed around with no scarring. Both carcasses were burned before they could attract more vermin. The smell lingered for days.    

    Two days later, I noticed an article in the paper about a prowler that has been making the rounds along properties near the waterfront. No matter how varied the witnesses’ reports seemed, they all mentioned how the individual made an audible chattering whenever it was present. Stories spread among the locals of a strange blue light where the two bodies were found. Scattered around town people were finding gritty pieces of cloth stained with a sticky substance stuffed into mail slots presumably left behind by the entity. One day, I found such a message wafting on a fence post. With an illegible hand, the red substance seemed to form a series of lines and crude letters but the one that stuck out the most was written in plain English and large text: “Help”

    All these reports came to a head on the night of July 10th when I was called up by the local police to the fish market. Lt. Chiles was present at the docks to explain the situation to me. Apparently a patrolman suffered a severed shock when confronting an intruder who broke into one of the locked market stands. He heard a rattle from the furthest stall suggesting that a lock had been broken. All he could say was that he saw was some sort of “mangled animal” picking at the iced catch. Frightened, the patrolman fired his revolver at the figure who barreled into him.

    Officers followed a trail of blood towards the ice house and could see the shape of something living inside, knocking over block of ice. It took a few of us to muster enough courage to go in. Chiles lead us in brandishing his weapon and a lantern to light the way. The floor looked as if a large and gory snail and passed in between the narrow stacks. Lying in the muck was the remains of a salmon that was chewed but not digested. 

     Then, I heard it. A piercing shriek that sounded like a crow cackling only it was rhythmic; starting and stopping in time with our footsteps. We found him. He lay among the ice shards-which had become rubies from the loss of blood-mostly naked except for a few billows of cloth on his person. His exact physical shape was human but we only knew because of its noticeable components. Arms and legs were merely stubs with only a few skimpy bony appendages sticking out. The torso narrowed at the center and bulged at the top with what appeared a row of rib bones jutting from his back. A distended goiter served as the unsuitable placeholder for a head.

    Chiles was almost ready to put the poor creature out of his misery and I had almost let him until I shouted and the figure sensed us somehow despite a lack of aural and ocular senses. I told the intruder as loud as possible that I was a doctor and we’re responding to his messages. An opening in the goiter flourished and spilled out a monstrously large “tongue” with a pair of eyes located at the tip. The organ appeared to be translucent with a blue glow emanating from the inside. From the tip, a doubled iris adjusted to the light of the lantern. One officer gagged and rushed out of the building while everyone else just stood immobile. I took the cloth from my pocket and held it out in front of me like a talisman. He brought up a knobby, club-like appendage with a splintered bone shard (a femur apparently) sticking out to scrape at an ice block. He carved a large question mark and within the semicircle scratched the words “Place” and “Year.”  I answered both verbally and then resorted to using a spare ice hook to write them. As he wrote I edged closer, I could see the bullet wound in his side. “Do you have a name?” I scratched. That was when I found out that the being before me was Carl Nilsen. Chiles sent a remaining officer to fetch a blanket. I could tell the visitor was already becoming weak as he was shaking in the middle of chiseling another cryptic note: a five sided crest holding a bushel.

    We covered Nilsen with a blanket and hefted him onto a stretcher to take him to the clinic. Unfortunately, he expired upon his arrival. Harsh as it may sound, death was the only cure for him. Extracting the bullet would’ve been a difficult procedure. The autopsy proved that the interior was all the more nightmarish than the exterior. He was laid to rest in an unmarked grave. I began to wonder about the carcasses on the beach and compared them with the remains of Carl Nilsen. Did he deserve the burial and not the bonfire because he proved his humanity unlike those poor creatures? And if they too were human, what were their names?

    From the bloody prost-mortem, the sources of the irritating chirp and the glow were discovered. It was a type of pocket watch crafted from a hard material. Inside a small window were these blue, florescent numbers flashing the time and date. With every passing hour, an ear splitting sound would emanate from it. This continued until the numbers faded and the watch ceased to work. Since then I tried in vain to collect all the scraps of cloth with the cryptic messages and equations. Even with my studies in arithmetic, I found them indecipherable. Then there was the other item- the wedding band. Inscribed within the ring were your names along with the wedding date, “6-27-09.” It was then I remembered the year given on the watch read “2014.”

    Though I am unable to deliver this message in person, arrangements have been made. Hopefully, it won’t be too late. In any case, I’ll find out in a matter of time.
Dr. William Hewitt