"s 2015 Horror Write-off:

" FEC Macabre "

Submitted by Jon Strong

Its another night working past closing at Bobcat Pizzeria,  a local pizza arcade themed after a long defunct high school's mascot, Blackie. Youve worked here a long time, you reflect. You're the location manager now. Everyone else is gone- its past ten, and you just want to make sure the store will look its best in the morning, like you always do. It is your livelihood, after all.

You finish vacuuming after an infuriating fifteen minutes around the ticket kiosks.  There has to be a cleaner method than just allowing parts of the shredded tickets to fart back out of the slot, you bitch to yourself. Walking the appliance back to the costume closet, you lovingly pat the little fiberglass Blackie and car "ride", the one that takes photos.

It was always your favorite, ever since you were too small to be seen in the photo. Now, you're tall and old enough to be amused by how Blackie's torso just ends in a stump when it hits the seat of the car, and now you would probably snap it off of its bolted down setup if you tried to climb in.

You "pet" the handpainted Blackie- one of a kind, just like everything Blackie Bobcat specific in the store. Well, not the prize merch, but most everything else. You put the vacuum up and head to the kitchen. A friend of yours always leaves you a "personal" pizza, knowing your nightly maintenance habit.

The store, most lights off and the curtains drawn around the animatronic in the showroom, used to be eerie,  but with only the prize counter and kiddie section lights on it feels cozy and like home. You sit in one of the kiddie section booths with your pizza, a brief break before checking on the games. 

A few bites into it, you hear a sound like a pained man...or perhaps dog? It sounded, amusingly, like your aunt's dog dragging its ass on the carpet when it had worms. You hear a scraping along the carpet near the giant cocoa mug and the small carousel and looking down, you see Blackie.

Well, half of him. His torso ended in a stump, and he dragged himself towards you, a smile and expression just the same as the fiberglass Blackie you love so much. But this Blackie is unsettlingly real, claws unseen in merch and art dragging himself towards you. 

You flick a glance at the photo ride. The fiberglass bobcat was there. Hoping what you saw was not real, you look down, and see the legless Blackie closer, and now you can see him trailing some unwholesome fluid behind his stump. Not blood, but somehow worse. There are tears in his eyes and your heart breaks. Fear still floods your system, you are indeed terrified, but you cannot allow yourself to be paralyzed while you see this creature, bizarre and horrifying as he may be, and not test his reality. 

The lights dim the further you go away from them, but you kneel next to the bobcat creature, careful not to touch his trail. He stares up to you, reaches up, so small- forehead to end of torso only three feet. You pray he is only a phantom, pray that when you touch him he will disappear,  but you touch his hand and feel soft fur around the pads on the underside.

You yelp and rip your hand back, heart thundering, as this creature makes a noise you can only describe as a death rattle and a cry for help. But he is not dead, nor is he dying. He is, however, suffering. Your love for this character be damned, however, and you jump back into the booth you had been sitting in. 

You stare at him, terrified and hollow feeling as exhaustion floods you where the adrenaline had eaten away at you. Half an hour later, you see him almost sigh and lay his hands down, chin down, and just watch you grimly. There is no malice in his eyes, however, just hurt as he rattles through each breath. So real. You stay awake for what feels like hours, then you doze off for a while.

You jerk awake sometime in the morning when it is still pitch black, and you spot him, asleep. He looks asleep, at least. You aren't sure of that, though, until he dissolves into sand the color of his fur and of his crimson bellbottoms all of a sudden. In shock, you scramble down from your booth and you sit there a while, running your fingers through the dust. Then you get up, vacuum the remains, and continue your self imposed and neglected duties in a haze.

Your opinions of Bobcat Pizzeria and Blackie are not changed by this occurrence. Such an occurrence will never happen again.