's 2013 Horror Write-off:

" Pretty Skies "

Submitted by Chris Cox

I lost my last journal so I guess I'll just summarize what's happened so far and what's going on.

The stars blinked.

I was there when it first happened,

I was performing one of my biweekly late night grocery runs that had become a ritual due to my fucked up work schedule given to me by my father at his farm. I didn’t really like it there, not really my place, I always figured I’d enjoy the city more but I’ve never been. Looking on now I don’t think I’d be able to live comfortably with all those bright lights and loud noises.

So I was at the counter of this run down old gas station, the only place open at this baffling hour of night. Only about four people were there other than me, two half asleep workers hardly managing to keep the dingy shack from falling to the ground, a middle aged man gassing up his car at the only functional pump in the whole place, and I can’t remember what the last person was like, maybe there wasn't one.

I walked out of the place after getting my soggy looking sandwich and poorly mixed soft drink along with some other odds and ends from local companies for whatever me and my dad would need the next few days, I honestly forget what I got, it’s not important. It was sprinkling a bit so I quickly put my stuff in the back of the truck, lit a cigarette, stood under the rain cover at the front of the building and just sort of stared at the skies . That rain cover is probably the only thing that kept me alive. The stars were shining far brighter than I’d ever seen, even compared to our rural skies out here in the reaches of Missouri. It was beautiful, it seemed like the longer you looked the more stars appeared and the brighter they seemed. I thought if I stared long enough that maybe the whole sky would just turn white with ‘em. I looked at the man next to me, struggling to fill up his car with the gas pump you’d believe was from the 20s.

“Sure are some pretty skies tonight, huh?”

I looked back up at the sky focusing on the brightest star I could find, Rigel from the constellation Orion. I was a big fan of astronomy, there wasn’t much else around and most of my free time took place long after the sun was down so it made sense for me. I was still waiting for the man’s reply but heard none, I looked back at the man as he struggled two get out his umbrella. I turned back at Rigel giving up on my hope for a response, it looked brighter than ever when It suddenly flew across the sky rapidly like an incredibly large shooting star, it didn't disappear though. It jolted the opposite way somehow glowing brighter. It kept at it, getting faster and faster, brighter and brighter, slithering in the sky like a wet worm. It then stood still, now appearing about the size of the sun, then began to fall.

The man next to me noticed nothing as he abandoned his dysfunctional umbrella and began to walk into the light shower. The second he came out from under the rain cover I noticed something. The star blinked, then came rushing, falling, bombarding straight down from it's previously calm position leaving an endless black tail from behind it's brilliantly glowing but surprisingly small head as it fell straight for the man in front of me making a sound almost like something familiar, but sped up. There was a short flash much like the quick flipping of a light switch as the star hit the earth. Then there was nothing. There was no crater, not even as much as a crack in the cement where it hit, the man wasn't even there either, nothing but a a small puddle of fluid almost a color I knew, but it changed depending on the angle you looked at it and some silver pasta like strands were mixed in with the wet stew.

A beer-bellied, jean jacket clad worker saw with wide eyes and ran to get who I suspected was the manager, one of those old creeky old men who could raddle on for days about their countless physical ailments. I liked both of them though, I really did. The beer bellied one went out to aid what was left of the man in the parking lot. He knelt by the "body", pondering what the hell he was looking at. A star blinked and slithered out of the sky faster than the last one. The worker was gone. The manager rushed out, a star blinked. He was gone. I looked at the sky, seeing there was now many stars blinking in the far off distance before they would then ooze out of the sky like long branching fingers then strike like black, slimy lightning, before retracting almost too fast to notice, almost. At first the strikes were slow, but I imagined just as with what I had just seen, a majority of the victims were people who rushed out of their shelters to help whoever was struck first. The sky didn't stop, the once beautiful night sky had become a tangled net of greasy hair with each individual strand ending in what I had assumed was a star but now appeared to be camo for some cosmic horror. I noticed though, that after they struck that star was gone, entire constellations disappearing in minutes. I camped out within the gas station for hours. Seeing spread out flashes of light appearing and disappearing as the sky undoubtedly claiming more victims. Thankfully after a while they drastically slowed down, I was happy something like this wasn't happening during the day so at least some deaths were avoided. I drifted to sleep, leaning on a rack of potato chips after several hours of dizzyingly watching the night sky. Then I awoke by infinite flashes of light appearing and disappearing in the still pitch black sky outside. I checked my watch, it was noone. It was the middle of summer, the sun always came up around here far before noone. Thankfully I was able to camp out in the gas station for about a week and live off of slushies and bags of chips still in stock within the shotty establishment. Day by day the hours passed without any sight of sun and the sky grew darker as innumerable stars blinked, struck, and disappeared. I had to leave, I could live in this gas station forever.

I got a stupid idea. Blame my half fried brain binded by it's diet of nothing but junk food, blame the isolation, blame the insanity of what I had been seeing for the past week. But suddenly a new idea occurred to me that filled me with sudden joy. What if the stars hunted on sight? I grabbed an umbrella in stock on one of the racks of the gas station and walked outside. Looking back I would never of even considered taking a risk like this, but it turned out I was right. Under the light, pathetic cover of the black, cheap umbrella. I don't think I've ever felt better which probably sounds stupid, but I had hardly used my legs for days, no reason to, no point. I moved from gas station, to grocery store, to abandoned house taking any resources I could. Once in a while I would see someone else, but none of them lasted more than a few hours without meeting the sky so they never proved very important. After what must of been a month of switching building to building I finally managed to get to my dad's now empty farm last night I noticed the sky once more. After stray through roads for miles out into the middle of nowhere, where we lived. I would of used a car but I couldn't risk putting up the umbrella to get into one. I stood inside my home now, Staring up at the sky once more I swear there were only about 20 stars left, it looked so empty, so dead. About once every few hours someone else would capture their attention and they would blink and it would end.

I slept, but this morning I noticed something, every star was gone, all of them, what used to be billions was now nothing, I stood under a completely black sky making sure my observation was right. I must of been the last person on earth, the only survivor, the only one who didn't go outside. I did it.

Despite my nervousness I figured I'd take the chance and put down my umbrella. If I were the only person left I had nothing to lose even if I missed a star and was doomed to be turned into the thick substance that now pooled in the streets and solidified sometimes speaking to me. I'm now walking free of an umbrella, finally free of the shut in life I was starting to become accustom to. I'm starting to see faint traces of light on the edges of the sky.

And there it is, the most beautiful and assuring thing I could possibly see right now, I couldn't contain my joy and screamed out into the heavens. It was a sunrise, the first one in what felt like years. I felt so nostalgic for something that used to be so normal. At the very least you could always depend on the sun rising up the next morning, but for so long I didn't even have that. The sun rose high and and brilliant in the sky as it filled up and lit up every crevice of the pitch black earth. I'm watching it now and just enjoying the light. Wait Fuck, did that just,

did it

it did

The sun blinked