's 2013 Horror Write-off:

" Scar Stories "

Submitted by Prophet Storm

“Hey, Jimmy. What’s with the scar?”

I blanched. “You had to ask, didn’t you?”

There was silence for a minute. Everyone on the dock was waiting with anticipation. The fire behind us crackled and popped as Gerry stirred it up. I set my rod down, and pulled my hat off, fully revealing the crescent-shaped gash on the left side of my forehead. “It’s a long and distressing story. If I get choked up, don’t worry. I’ll be fine.” I looked back, reflecting on the miracle that I was still alive.

It was pouring rain and wind was howling through the trees, tearing the last of autumn’s leaves off them. It was the night of the new moon, so a curtain of shadows had fallen over everything. In other words, it was a dark and stormy night.

I was driving a couple pals out to a mountain retreat. We hadn’t even gotten higher than sea level yet and already we had the two newbies in the back of the truck—the same ones talking about ‘roughing it’ and ‘being men’—wailing and moaning and gnashing their teeth. It was compounding the howling of the wind, the pounding of the rain, and the eerie whistling.

“Stop the eerie whistling,” I mumbled to my buddy Frank, who was riding shotgun. “Pete and Cy back there are spooky enough.” The aforementioned Pete and Cy were both old geezers, those who’d driven the truck back when Frank and I were the wailing newbies. They were regaling Hank and Bill, the youngsters, with horror stories. Six of us were jammed into the four-seated truck.

It was about one o’clock when Frank relieved me. I awoke at nine and relieved him, driving up a winding mountain path. The sunrise had a tranquilizing effect on the four in the back, who’d been awake all night, and put them to sleep quickly. But everyone was awake when the tires blew.

The front two wheels were now deflated, and so steering was bad. We sailed out over a rocky bluff and plummeted into the ravine below. The dog was lost. I don’t know how any of us survived, unless it was divine providence. Matter of fact, hardly a one of us was scraped, ‘xeptin’ Frank, who had to splint a broken toe. Up in the Colorado mountains, it gets pretty cold at night, so we started planning.

Quickly we had set up camp. A comforter of my grandmother’s, which had been in the back of the truck, served as the tent, propped up around us by the pried-off fenders of the truck. Pete and Cy thought of the whole thing as an adventure, and started munching on trail mix. Frank and I were trying to get the truck back into a driveable condition, and Hank and Bill sat around, worrying themselves to an early grave.

Night fell. Cy, the Unchallenged, Supreme Commander and Master of All Tales Pants-Wettingly Horrifying, amused us with some of the scariest stories in his repertoire—things about Bigfoot, The Michigan Dogman, Mongolian Deathworms and the like that would make an Eskimo’s blood run cold. Right about when he got to the spine-chilling climax of a tale about an axe-wielding maniac from 1842 who was supposedly still running about in Milwaukee, the sun slipped off the horizon, fed up with the scary stuff. In the Colorado Mountains, that has the strange effect of, in a matter of moments, dropping the luminosity and temperature exponentially. Soon it was pitch black and frigid, and he was starting another tale.

Pete leaned over to me, scratched his stubbly chin, and whispered, “I gotta go answer Nature’s call. Be right back.” Almost as soon as he left the light inside the tent, we heard the noise. Not a drop of moisture was heard hitting the dry stone outside before a sickening crunch and shredding of fabric—and possibly flesh. Frank, armed with the only shotgun in the group, fired off a blast into the night air, then emerged and screamed like a girl. He and Pete came back into the tent. Pete was grinning ear to ear and Frank was gripping his shotgun menacingly. The septuagenarian sat beside me, showed me a broken tree limb and ripped square of fabric, and chuckled, “They don’t make gags like that today! You’ll never find that one at the dollar store!”

Cy went on, hardly phased. “So Phineas’n’I crept up the bank. W’both knew we wuz in trouble if’n the critter saw us, so we thought back to the war and went into an army crawl. Wuzn’t long afore we heard it screamin’ agin. I ain’t never heard such a skeery sound as that Wampus Cait screamin’. But somethin’ that…” Crunch. Something had landed in the gravel beside the tent. We heard the thing moving toward us. We were on an incline, and the mouth of the tent faced the hill. Frank cautiously aimed his shotgun at the mouth of the tent, ready to shoot. We all moved back.

The creature entered the tent. It was the body of a man about thirty. You wouldn’t recognize it to look at it though. Its hair was dead white. Its eyes were wild and dry, and its mouth was open in a silent scream. Three gigantic gashes were cut in his throat, as if some gigantic beastie had…

“Oh my goodness.” Cy stated. Quite frankly, he stated something a little more frank than that, but it’s the same principle. “That ain’t the Wampus Cait.”

Frank shook his head. “Poor devil. Probably some sort of wildcat, Cy. From your description, the Wampus Cat’s the only one who could deal such a blow.”

"I knew it," Hank started. "I knew it, I should never have let myself be talked into this thing. We're all gonna get killed!"

I butted in. “Cy’s right, Frank. The Wampus Cat could’ve easily dealt that blow—but what about this one?” Here I gestured to the three ring-shaped wounds in the man’s chest. "That's not natural. Frank, can I borrow your shotgun? I've got to check this out."

He snarled. "No. I'm holdin' on to it."

"Then you check out what it is. We'll stay here and guard...each other, I guess."

He gave us all a bit of a glare, then stormed out.


I don't know how long he was gone, but we all knew when Frank came back--he was hurled through the flap of our tent like a disgusting kite. He'd been torn up completely, so that only his silhouette could have been regarded as slightly human. Bone splinters jutted out of his flesh, blood and various other fluid oozed from him, all his hair was gone and all his skin laid open.

His shotgun was gone.

"I'm gettin' outta here." Cy was half-finished packing his backpack by the time he finished his sentence. "Sayonara!"

"No, Cy!" I tried to stop him, but settled for yelling to him from the open flap of the tent as he ran. "It won't come inside the tent!"

Of course, I had to say that. As I did, I heard tearing and smacking behind me. Turning, I saw It feeding on Hank and Bill. Pete turned with me and saw it as I did--a greyish-green thing with leathery skin, enormous black eyes, slitlike nostrils and a long, prehensile tongue. It had stuck its head and shoulders through the tent where it'd torn a hole. Scrawny, almost insect-looking claws tore at the flesh where it fed. What bothered me more than anything else was that this creature was fast enough to kill a man without letting him make a sound.

It withdrew from Hank's corpse, its disgusting, semi-humanoid muzzle drenched in blood and gore. Between serrated teeth, its mouthed tongue shot out and got Pete before he could reach for his knife. A ring-shaped wound in his throat was the first mark the creature made, then it lept on him, tearing him open like a Christmas present.

I knew I should have done something, but I--I just didn't know what. I was frozen, rooted to the spot by my fear. Then it turned toward me. A red glow behind its eyes--like the kind you might see in a deer's eyes in a bright light, but a sickening shade of red--flashed briefly. My stomach began churning. I knew then how this thing killed so silently, and knew I was next.

The tongue came.

I felt it on my forehead.

What a terrible feeling.

Then it went limp.

I opened my eyes as the last echo of the gunshot rang through the canyon. The creature's corpse lay headless, sprawled across the bodies of Pete and Bill. Green, pungent ichor coated the interior of the tent. I yanked the sucker-tongue off my forehead. It still wriggled a little, and it left an incomplete ring-wound--something more like a crescent--on my forehead. That's what you see here.

In the flap of the tent crouched Cy. "Found the shotgun. Danged chupacabra left it 'steadda buryin' it like they usually do. Guess it smelled fresh meat and got a little antsy. You okay, Jimbo?"

"Fine. I'm fine."

"James." He looked at me levelly. "You okay?

"I'll live, Cy." I shuddered.

"That's how it happened."

"Amazing. Well, looks to me like the campfire's dyin' down. I'll go stir the embers up. See if you can catch something before nightfall." Gerry headed back to the fire.

"I'll check on Ms. Finch," Bob Finch said, removing himself to the tent where his wife, six months pregnant, was resting.

Rick sat beside me still. "What a tale. That chupacabra, did it really--"

"Hey, guys!" Phil approached with his rifle and a healthy-looking grouse, which he tossed at Gerry. "How goes the battle?"

"Not too good, overall." I re-cast.

Rick looked over my shoulder as he spoke to Phil. "James was just tellin' us about the scar on his forehead. Should I tell him, James?"

"...Naw," I said, after some contemplation. "Sit down, this is gonna be a little long. Now there were three of us shootin' these rapids up in Scotland, see, in a two-man boat. I--"

"I thought you were--" Rick started.

"Hush, boy, I'm talkin'." I reasserted myself. "Anyhow, we were swappin' tales about the weird things we'd seen when we got to talkin' about the Bear Lake Monster, Loch Ness, all that funny stuff that goes on in the water. Well, the river emptied out into this lake, y'see, and we started feelin' kinda nervous. Well, the water started bubblin', and up from the bottom of the lake we saw comin' the biggest, ugliest critter you ever seen..."