's 2013 Horror Write-off:

" Poison Breather "

Submitted by Axle the Beast

A sense of well-being envelopes me. The day is warm and bright, and I can feel the light soak into my sun-deprived skin. All around me, farmers jovially attend to their harvest, collecting their life-giving grains and vegetables. In good humor and high spirits, the men argue and laugh boisterously, while the women, quieter, also converse and occasionally let out laughs of their own. A few of the unmarried girls look at me, admiring my looks; I smile back, grateful. In complete mental clarity, I easily recognize the desire I feel for them, as plain as the joy I have caught from the happy atmosphere.

It's all so utterly repellant.

I am quite literally in the best shape of my life; an unfamiliar sensation of strength and ableness resonates in every bone and muscle. I feel ready and willing to jump off my horse and court one of the girls. Internally I cringe at the thought and resist the urge. Even the sensation of comfort and well-being atop my horse is repulsive. I look forward to the exhaustion that will follow a day of riding. Upon realizing how much I desire it, I chastise myself for longing so much for mere exhaustion after the agony I've long been accustomed to.

A deeper longing, one spurred by much darker thoughts, sweeps through me, and I want nothing more than to poison and murder all of the life around me.

Still smiling at the pretty girls and drowning in the muck of health and happiness around me, I reach underneath the edge of my horse's saddle and with all my strength dig into the beast's side, drawing a pitifully small amount of blood from its flank. Still, it snorts its approval. He feels the same way I do. Of course he does. I consider drawing some of my own blood as well, but, concerned that doing so might tip me back into madness, however sweet it would be, I begrudgingly refrain. The worry and frustration, at least, is delicious.

I ride on, keeping to a trot so as not to arouse any suspicion from the farmers. Finally, after a time, I pass beyond the populated areas as the daylight just begins to falter in the late hours of evening. Breaking into a gallop, we ride far away from the repulsive farmers. We ride for many hours, deep into the night, until the air of health and happiness that SHE brought to these lands can no longer be felt. And then we keep riding. My horse is tired, and my backside hurts. But we kept riding.

In the dead of night, with the life-giving sunlight forgotten, past the farmlands I've terrorized for many years, with HER hideous warmth far behind, I finally feel free once again. I let my mind be absorbed by my hatred of her, by my wrath at the damn seaweed-burners, and the madness overtakes me. I grate my fingernails against the skin on my arms, my face, digging in and ripping off flesh. I bite. I rip at my horse as well.

After a short while I can feel it boiling inside me, the pain I crave, the agony that makes me feel whole. And then, with a wretched cry, and sob, and howl of pain, I exhale. Even in the darkness I know it's there: The black-and-green mist that sprays from my mouth and nose into the air, mixed with blood. My horse lets out its own horrid noise and expells the same. I glance at my arms and see that they now run black, not red.

A mad joy, intimately mixed with hatred, grips me; my skin feels like it is on fire as the poison in my body erodes it, followed by a horrifically uncomfortable feeling of exposure as I rot and my skin sloughs off my now-exposed muscle. And even some of my muscle rots, causing my legs to dwindle as my horse -- experiencing the same -- has its back collapse, making room for my lower body. Our liquifying, putrefying bodies fuse, leaving us as one and not two. I am now alone.

An eyeball falls from my horse head; the socket peels and sags until it overtakes its brow. My muscles become like slush, sagging down to my hands, leaving me barely able to lift them with my atrophied arms. Parts of my body, my head especially, bloat with foul gasses.

I can feel the mortasheen in every fibre of my being. Now whole again, I feel a glorious sensation within me. Disgusting humans might describe the sensation I feel as relief, or like a stretch of muscle, but it is the opposite of these things. I feel weak and restless. I am in agony. And I hate. This is my "pleasure". It is my NATURE.

And even with all the pain I feel, I hunger for more. Daylight will come soon; I can search for another land -- one far away from the Mither o' the Sea -- to ravage another night. For now all I want is to feel the sting of the seasalt on my swollen, hurting muscles. I want to dissolve into the pain, to melt back into the darkness and rot in the deepest recesses of the ocean. Once I have drunk deep of the dark and the pain, I will remind the seaweed-burners of the Nuckelavee.