's 2013 Horror Write-off:

"The Final Stage"

Submitted by Charred Newt

The Final Stage

Henry quickly rose the dusty stairway; his excited steps woke a symphony of indignant creaks from the old, deformed wooden boards. To anyone else the house was abandoned, and he could easily see why. He had talked to her about giving a new hand of coating to the crusty walls, or getting rid of all the infesting plants overgrowing the roof, but she always said that she liked it that way. She enjoyed her loneliness, and he was the exception.

As he got closer to the door, the air became a lot more breathable, the moldy aftertaste overshadowed by a warm mixture of cinnamon and sun-dried grass. Her smell. He inhaled deeply, letting it fill his head, and stepped inside the room.

She was at the window, as usual, sitting in her stuffed wheelchair. Her white, porcelain skin shimmered in the sunset’s light, and her bright green eyes, untainted by the black of a pupil, were staring in the horizon; she turned towards him as he set foot in the room, and smiled. The most beautiful smile in the world. Henry hurried to her side, barely keeping his balance on the irregular floorboard. The wood was soft and sagged slightly under him: it must be half-rotten. That place was unworthy of her presence, he thought. But he’d protect her. He’d always be there for her, as she had for him. He gently slipped his arm around her shoulders, beneath the rich mass of her black hair.

A small lock started climbing his forearm, like a curious caterpillar. Her scent filled completely the air around them, taking them far, far away from the damp room in the dying house. Normally they could stay like that for hours; sometimes they’d start talking and go on till his tongue felt like an old, thick rug, but there were also times when they’d simply sit together, silently, and he’d be content with just bathing in her presence.

This was not one of those nights. He’d practiced the words in his mind until he’d found those that he was sure would sound right, would make her understand exactly what he meant. No half-hearted mumblings, no hesitations, no awkward pauses. “Coral-“ he said: she turned and looked at him with a hint of surprise. His voice was trembling. “Coral, I can’t take this anymore. In this past month, every moment I’ve passed without you felt like I was going mad! You make me feel like… like… like nothing else can, and I don’t care if you can’t move” he pointed at the large, bulging, greyish blanket that covered her lower body “I don’t care if I’ll have to carry you everywhere in my arms, or feed you, or anything: I just want to be with you!”

Silence fell in the room. Henry felt exhausted, his head light and his face on fire. Damn. That was pathetic. She hadn’t said anything yet: she was staring at him, her back stiff and straight against her chair. Maybe he’d scared her, he’d been too sudden and made a fool of himself, stupid, stupid-

“Are you sure?“

The sound of her voice pulled him out of his thoughts. He lifted his head; Coral was leaning towards him, her eyes wider than ever. Was she quivering slightly? “Are-are you serious?” she repeated, looking immensely fragile on her thin arms. Henry was taken aback for a few seconds, but he quickly recovered; he tried to speak, but the words stubbornly tangled up in his mouth. Finally, he nodded vigorously.

“Yes. Yes, absolutely, I am.”

“Do you really want to bring this relationship to the next stage? To raise a family?”

Henry paused. He actually hadn’t thought about that, but now that she’d said it… yes, of course he wanted that! He could not desire anything better. He smiled wholeheartedly: “I really do.” Her laughter erupted like fresh water, filling the room’s dusty silence as she threw her arms around his neck. He hugged her back, and soon found himself laughing too. She felt so small and lively in his arms, and he’d never want to let go of her; they were dancing on the clouds, if they left each other they’d drop to the ground. Slowly, they calmed down a bit, still chuckling slightly as the searched for air. She had a look of pure bliss on her face.

“Oh Henry, I’m so happy you told me! It will be wonderful! We must start preparing immediately!”

He nodded, still grinning and euphoric. “Of course! You can come stay at my place! This dump is way too old and dangerous: the floor is rotting and so is the roof, the stairs are shaky and the walls are falling to pieces. And this room! It’s so soggy and cold, I can’t stand knowing you are here, it’d be just a matter of time before you caught something bad. I know you’ve managed till now, but please, come live with me!”

She seemed to turn thoughtful at this words. “Yes, I imagine I cannot stay here anymore…”

“Alright then, I know a guy who can rent us a truck for your stuff, but maybe my car will be enough anyway, I can get some wood to build a ramp for your wheelchair on the stairs, and you won’t have to worry about that anymore ‘cause my house’s got a lift, and there’s the docu-“ She interrupted him, pressing her index finger on his lips. It was cold against his skin. “Henry, Henry. Stop worrying, I will take care of everything. I won’t need any help at all.” He frowned, and tried to tell her that no, she couldn’t possibly do everything by herself, but then looked into her eyes: they were calm and firm like an undisturbed lake. She wasn’t going to change her mind anytime soon, and, after all, she was probably right. He relaxed and nodded, feeling a bit embarrassed. Her smile returned; then, all of a sudden, she leaned forward and kissed him.

It was a long kiss. It felt like a long kiss.

“I love you.”

That night, he almost couldn’t remember how he got home.

A week later, he was distractedly fixing himself a bowl of cereals for breakfast. He hadn’t seen Coral since that evening, and was getting more and more alarmed. A couple days before he’d gone to the house to check on her, but the door was firmly locked. Nailed on it was a rectangular piece of paper that read:




The message ended with a crudely-drawn smiley face. That hadn’t done much to reassure him: the handwriting was thick and wobbly, as if it had been traced by someone with a single giant broken finger. Maybe she’d fallen and hurt his hand, Henry had thought. He’d started calling her name to the dimly lit windows. Finally, a figure had waved back from the house; he couldn’t be sure with that murky glass in the way, but it looked like her silhouette. A tad bigger maybe. She had disappeared in the room shortly after, and the door had stayed shut.

His eyes fixated idly on a small dot in the sky. Looked like a plane or a ‘copter. Maybe she was going to send him a letter when she’d been ready; he’d never seen her use a cell-phone, and the house sure as hell didn’t have a working line. He trusted her judgments, but it was taking a bit long. He missed her so much.
The dot was bigger. It looked more like some kind of bird now; four other shapes soon joined it. Henry straightened himself up, puzzled. They were getting closer, much closer. It almost looked like-

He barely managed to dive to the ground before the first creature crashed through the window. Shards of glass flew all around him, while the thing tumbled madly through the air, finally landing in the sink. The other four soon followed, gliding on their long membranous wings: they sort of looked like bugs, cat-sized pale bugs with bulbous heads and a confused mass of spindly black legs that hung limply from their body. Their high-pitched buzzing filled the room, along with the sound of broken dishes; the one in the sink was furiously thrashing around, its abdomen continuously inflating and contracting like a twitching lung. One of them knocked down the cereal box, making corn-flakes rain all over the floor.

Still clutching the spoon, Henry frenetically crawled away from the table, feeling the crushed glass and cereals scratch the palm of his hands. As he tried to pick himself up, a sudden weight landed on his back, cutting his breath short: he could feel the creature’s tendril-like legs clenching to his shoulders and ripping his t-shirt. Still, he managed to regain his feet, while he fruitlessly struggled to hit the thing’s head with the spoon. The other beings stopped for a second, seemingly following the fight with their orb-shaped green eyes; then, they leapt in unison: the blast of air from their wings almost made him lose his balance for a second time.

The creatures grappled his legs, arms, chest, tearing the fabric of his clothes and pricking the skin underneath.
The last one embraced his head, blocking almost completely his vision. He felt a wet, clammy sensation on his cheek, and his ears filled with the beating of an alien heart.

It was way too much. With an incoherent scream he tore the twitching body from his face and threw it on the ground, using all the strength he didn’t even suspect having.

It smacked on the floor with a sad viscid sound, and stood there. Time seemed to freeze for a second.
He felt the grip on his body loosening as the creatures flocked to their fallen sibling. A trembling chant rose in the air from their bodies, gaining force as they turned to face him. –Rrrrrrrrryyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy-

It was like their previous buzzing had slowed down and lowered its pitch.

Henry just stood there, bewildered, as they sang and stared into his face. He felt… guilty. He surely couldn’t hurt them, he should not. For the first time he was able to get a good look at them: their heads were unlike those of any insect he’d ever seen, much bigger and rounder, with a pair of thin tentacle-like proboscises. Right under that was a couple of short limbs, much stubbier than the others and as white as the creatures’ bodies; they almost looked like human fingers. But the eyes were the most striking element: they seemed like they didn’t quite belong with the rest, having a distinct un-bug-like quality, and their green was so intense and vibrant he’d say they were glowing. He liked looking into them. They felt good. They felt…


And then he understood. He understood everything.
He went and locked the door: with all that noise, a neighbor might have felt like investigating. On his way back the creatures climbed on his legs once again. He let them. Walking cautiously, he found a mostly clean area on the floor, and laid down on his back.

It didn’t hurt much.

They took turns.

He tried to stay as still as he could. It became easier as the time passed.

He stood still and silent, even as one of them slit the skin of his arm and deftly inserted her long proboscis in the vein underneath, not wasting a single drop.

On his legs, he could feel small pinches, growing in intensity.

He smiled weakly.

Of course, their children would need nourishment.