's 2013 Horror Write-off:


Submitted by Angela Shaver

A small cat ambled along. Its tail flicking at the end of each curling motion as its limbs moved gently beneath its slightly matted grey fur. The kitten pounced at nothing in particular. It raced about in a zigzag. It rolled playfully along the banks edge. Plop.

The frigid water of the river would surely seize the kitten’s life. You rush over to scoop up the poor creature. The kitten is not moving. It is laying several feet below in the deep pool. The fur swaying with the current, but not a single batting of the paws can be seen. Surely a few seconds could not rob a spry animal of its life.

You grasp the soggy young cat. Its body is almost at the surface when a burst of motion bewilders you. The frenzied undulations are too quick for you to understand. You are shocked and fall over. The leech-like object zips back toward you and sheds a plume of fibers in your face. You stumbled onto the bank still gripping the carcass of the kitten. It is tailless and empty.

Your boss is unsatisfied with your performance. Try as you might it seems impossible to get out of bed, let alone do your job. The urge to continue slumbering is overpowering. You are pretty sure the bags under your eyes are so heavy that some wrinkly mole rat would win in a beauty contest. Ok maybe that is an exaggeration. But to say your likelihood of being replaced is somewhat high would be too. You are fired.

Browsing the help wanted ads there is only one job that really seems to pique your interest. You go to the local butcher shop. There are not too many places like this anymore. All the Safeways gobble up that kind of business. You are not sure why you even wanted this job. However, you seem to be a master meat carver and impress your new boss right from the start. You do not feel so tired anymore. Maybe you just needed a little change.

A month of menial labor has not paid well, but you feel well. Except you keep mincing too quickly and leaving the cutting tools in the wrong places. Perhaps you just need some more time. Otherwise the customers are quite pleased. There is one thing that has been bothering you though. That dim funnel chamber.

What is in that tunnel, you must know! Every coffee break you peer into it. It must be short. Once you even snuck a flashlight into work. It was nothing spectacular, just shiny metal. But there must be something missing, right. Soon after every task is done you stare into that abyss. Last week you thought you may have, for just an instance, seen something. It was glowing.

Your eyes finally make out that visage you think. The little red dot swirls about on the surface of the wall. Though clearly is must be from some light source, you frantically swipe at it. A loud whirring sound starts as the clean steel table shudders. A dull pain alerts you to something uncomfortable encasing your hand and arm. You cannot see the dim tunnel anymore. But that dot is in there, you know it.

And you must get it. You must!

You push yourself deeper into the entombing, vibrating, painful place where you must go. It is a tragedy, really it is. What a mess you made.

Your boss decides you must have been another person with too many troubles and too little medication. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Well, no sense in letting there be waste. Sure the shop keeper hires cleaners. But the slop will go in that bottom draw, the one with the big beef bones for dogs. Fresh pet food will be on sale.