's 2014 Horror Write-off:

" Rise, Peter "

Submitted by Izzy Winchester

I'm not sure what I'm doing could be called climbing anymore. Something snapped in my arm long ago and the
clay gets drier and drier. But I can still pull myself up by my hands, a little at a time, further up and
further in. Further up and further in, and it's easier now I can't feel it.

I didn't have to ask anyone about the pillar, or tell. It had already cycled through so many others, like a dance,
one two three...except it was in eights, taking one from the back of the line and letting a new one in,
more a reel than a waltz. I'm reeling now, thirsty and with no water from the clay and not close enough
to the clouds, but then, the first time, I just knew. I knew before the eighth dancer hit the ground.
I wonder if the others did too. I wonder if the one to replace me already knows.

They say it's worse, statistically, to see it for the first time outside. They're wrong. When you see it outside,
you're forced to deal with it, to comprehend it all it once, and maybe that's more of a
shock than some people can bear, but it's better than hope. I turned and I saw the wet red clay
stretching from floor to ceiling, and for a moment I hoped it would go no further, would stay
confined by wood and concrete and pink fiberglass insulation. Then I saw the seamless streaks
at top and bottom, and I knew, I knew it reached below and above, and I knew it would follow.

So low, you can't get under it. So wide, you can't get around it. So high...

The air may be thinning. I don't know, it's hard to tell. I've felt this tired for hours.

At first I thought I could just keep it in sight. Everyone does at first, apparently. But you forget, you
turn your head for a moment and it's back behind you. Forget enough, and it snaps along like
footsteps, leaving thin, sick-smelling liquid in puddles where it's been. I remember
riding in a shopping cart as a child and seeing those puddles when packages of chicken leaked,
and being warned away from them by my mother. They were full of germs, she said. I'd turn green
and die like the little kids who drank bleach on TV ads. Funny, there was a song for those, and
a mascot, funny the things you remember. A mascot for dying.

There was the shadow, anyway. Is. Is the shadow, on the other side, and please God don't let
the sun turn on it. Please God, just that, don't make me climb in the dark.

Not that it's dark, not really. It's dark the way the sun is dark the day after a fire, tinted deep orange
from the ash, but I don't want my skin to be that color when I fall. It'll make me fall, down into
the shapes, and the shapes are dark, pitch black. The pillar stretches out of sight
above the clouds, and the shadow stretches out of sight to the horizon, and at the edge of sight,
the very edge...

It was useless trying to draw them. Everyone has. No one sees why they hurt, what they are.

Everyone? No. The last one, the eighth. He was the first one to use binoculars. He wouldn't draw
what was at the other end of the scope, just say he saw. "I saw, I saw, I saw" over and over and over again.
The day before he escaped, he told them that they were flat like everything is when you see it through
binoculars, but that they weren't flat, but they were. He kept contradicting himself and the next day
he was dead. They found him shattered on the sidewalk with clay drying under his torn fingernails,
tendons ruptured, same as the one before that, and the one before that. The witnesses had seen
him start climbing seventeen hours before. Seventeen long...

It must be quite a sight, if they can still see me. Because they can't see it, can they? Just the other
seven. To everyone else, I'm climbing the air, I'm flying. It must be such a beautiful thought, a dream
thought. They can't see it. They can't see the damned thing!

No. No. It's a beautiful thought, a thought of flying. I can't blame them for it. Maybe I thought that
myself at first, when I found myself standing at the ladder, that it would be like flying.


I knew.

I've known.

It's a beautiful thought, though. A dream thought.

If I were to stop climbing and dream, just for a while...

Maybe I could fly...

Rise, Peter; kill and eat.