's 2013 Horror Write-off:

"Voxcan, Voxcan't"

Submitted by Shouty

   Through the damp dusk of the night-drenched bog moved a ponderous figure. Heaving jingles chime from it as it burdens a large pack, stumbling through the rain and using every branching tendril from the ground for support. With a hunched back covered in tens of several filaments run across by a metronome-like needle protrusion as the travelerís only defining feature, it would not be able to survive the harsh conditions of the swamp, if it were not properly dressed. Clad in gloves that allow it to feel vibrations across its sensitive digits while allowing protection against the acidic texture of the soil and other ecological elements, as well as properly equipped with layers and implements of self-defense, it is virtually impenetrable against any detriments to its health. That is, its physical health.

    A continuous cacophony produced by the inhabitants of the marshland caused the traveler to wince and stiffly contort its body through the motions it made to continue its mobilization. Its sensitive perception of sound did not suit this environment. With this deluge of piercing precipitation it would be nearly impossible to camp out for the night. Almost all of the travelerís gear is soaked in layers of stinging water, inside and out of its multi-layered pack. Regardless, the aforementioned clothing keeps it completely protected, even though they cling to its moist, perspiring body, letting no liquid through.

    Each step feels heavier and more labored, as the lopsided gait and heaving breathes with more disjointed chirps indicate. The traveler reaches out once more for the support of an earthly protuberance, but it suddenly collapses under the weight of its exhaustion. Trapped under the teetering pack, it slowly sways towards a steep hill, and plunges down the slope, dragging the traveler downward. As it tumbles, the sight of a pair of other figures rustling at the peak of the hill comes into the travelerís view, but that perception is quickly dispatched as the travelerís front slams into a large trunk. The traveler screeches, and goes limp from the pain and diminished motivation. However, this does nothing to discourage the travelerís wandering, protruding eyes, and responsive sense of hearing.

    Piled around the plant are large pods that could easily contain an average member of the travelerís species. With a shaky limb the traveler brushed its digits across the invitingly silky smooth texture of the pods. After unbinding itself from its hefty knapsack, the traveler slides into the pericarp. As it does so, the excess water seems to run right off the travelerís outfit, onto the interior of the pod, and absorbed, keeping everything inside dry and warm. The traveler nestles itself comfortably into the pod. A soothing tranquility consumes the traveler, with feelings of no longer wanting to continue its journey. It could at least stay inside the pod until the rain subsides, and it is save to continue. However, the traveler has never felt anything more euphorically comfortable in its life, and wonders why it went on this painstaking adventure in the first place.

    As if reacting to foreign intruders, two spurred appendages spring from the podís sides, and start batting the air. The sound of small creatures being whapped does not bother the traveler. In fact, the overwhelming comfort has quickly taken its consciousness, and is fast asleep, completely unaware of the podís transformed anatomy. Right as it blinks one last time it catches a glimpse of two towering figures rustling from shrubbery to shrubbery, but does not invoke any intrigue within the traveler. Any effort attempted to think is met with diminished inhibitions.

    Suddenly, a sharp pain is felt on every conceivable part of the travelerís body. It is so jarring after the overly pleasantness of the smooth silk, but it soon becomes numbing as the traveler is completely overloaded with discomfort. As such, there is nothing more torturous, and yet, more pleasurable. It is involuntarily lifted upward along with the pod, on a set of four wheel-like extremities, two of each have an axis, and meld with the lower portion of the vessel. The traveler is completely incapacitated, but now fully aware. However, this awareness is not without its biases. As much as the traveler tries, it cannot muster any thoughts about its life, existence, or any events that may have led itself to this scenario, at this point in time. No longer feeling comfortably huddled within an enclosure, the traveler feels the husk as if it were its own epidermis. The thought of being able to sing beautiful melodies, or go on expeditions in the hopes of discovering something new, would never occur to the traveler. In fact, thoughts like these are ludicrous, when there exist other organisms who are in agony, and need to experience this wonderful feeling, of being alleviated from the responsibility of aspirations.