's 2015 Horror Write-off:


Submitted by HISHAM H.

I remember very little of my previous life.

Vague memories. More like faded dreams.

I think I was a medical student once. Or maybe it was a fantasy I had, and I never set foot inside a medical school.

I assume I had parents, a family once upon a time.

I sometimes wonder if I was married. Did I have children?

Were they now suffering same torture that I do?

And I remember very little of the world before.

Before all this.

At the very least I know that we are humans. We used to live in cities.

Now we're all in cages, packed on top of each other.

The sounds of suffering fill the air. Sobs, moans, wails, occasional shrieks and bouts of babbling.

I'm on one of the higher shelves, so I have a better view than most. Better being subjective.

There's a woman across from me, constantly sobbing. Tears clear tracks on her crusted face.

I think her name is Betty. Or Bessie.

Or maybe even Elsie. I don't really recall.

Her visage is typical of me and the other captives.

Features almost obscured by rolls of fat.

Her blonde hair, filthy and matted, frame her face.

Neck and chin a continuous balloon-collar of flesh.

She lies prone on her hands and knees.

Bloated. Grossly obese. 

The cage is far too small; the bars dug into her soft flesh until it ulcerated.

Every one of us is immobile. A fat bloated slug.

Our muscles have atrophied; even if we were free of our cages, we would still captives of our own flesh.

But it wasn't always like this; we were once at far healthier weights. Back when we still remembered our names.

Although the cages were the same, we could at least turn around a bit on our hands and knees. 

Stacked in rows stretching as far as the eye can see.

Below each row of cages was a sort of long trough or gutter to catch our bodily wastes as it fell through the cage floors.

Sometimes the drains would clog, and the gutters would overflow, the filth slopping down on to the unfortunates below.

Back then there were conversations.

Back then we all had names, and talked about our former lives.

There were even plans of a jailbreak, an uprising against our tormentors.

That's all in the distant past now. I don't even remember what we use to talk about.

No more turning around for us. Now we were pretty much wedged into our cages.

We were all pretty bad off; but some of us were worse than others.

There a guy below Betty. I think his name is Ron.

He's always groaning in perpetual agony.

And from my vantage I can see why.

The bars dig deeply into his flesh. In several places the skin has split open.

And I can see it. The cause of all our suffering.

Bloated, sickly pale. Glistening with grease, and stained yellow with lipids.

Engorged, dark veins worming through its substance.

A monstrously engorged liver, swollen and pulsating.

A normal liver is reddish brown.

This alien tumor is a fatty liver. Steatohepatitis, formerly the affliction of the alcoholic. It's little tidbits like this which makes wonder if I had ever studied medicine.

That is the reason why we are all here; why we are fat blobs stuffed into cages.

Every day our captors come to us, three times a day.

Every day they stuff a thick plastic tube down our throats. Once we could fight back, but not anymore.

It was better if you didn't struggle; I still remember the times I almost died from having my tongue almost shoved down my throat, or the sudden gush of warm blood as the tube tore something deep inside.

Then they would pump this oily, cloying mash down our throats. At least if we were lucky enough that they managed to insert it into our esophagus instead of our trachea. It tasted foul and metallic, with fecal undertones; we speculated we were being fed ground grain boiled with oil ad mixed with the ground-up remains of our deceased fellows.

They would pump us full until our stomachs were in excruciating agony; on the verge of exploding. Some vomited afterwards or even during, the foul mash shooting out the nostrils.

But most of us didn't. Probably because the stomach had been so repeatedly stretched and distended that it's muscle structure had broken down, nothing more than a limp plastic bag. Any vomiting that occurred was a result of simple overfilling; in fact, they would pump until a little came back out, to make sure the stomach was filled to maximum capacity.

It's not surprising that some stomachs simply gave out and burst. It happened every day. It would accompanied by a sudden torrent of blood-rich vomit gushing out the orifices.

On our disgusting regimen of forced overfeeding, the liver swells and grows laden with fat, until it crowds our other organs and compresses our lungs; we all heave and gasp like we have emphysema. The very act of drawing breath a colossal effort.

Some of us, the most prized ones, developed livers so massive and engorged that they eventually eroded the weakened abdominal wall, causing it to tear and rip open like a rotten pumpkin. Massive, sickly bloated organs barely held within the body cavity by a few scraps and straps of skin. Entrails spilling out from tears and gashes in the body wall. Many had prolapsed colons oozing out their backside.

They would double the feeding of those poor bastards. Eventually when taken out of their cages and without the support of the bars, their abdomens would split open like an overripe peach, the last scraps of flesh holding together falling apart like wet tissue paper, the massive liver spilling out.

They would cut away the liver and carry it away on trolley almost reverently, while pushing the limp fleshy husk with a mop, like it was just garbage. Sometimes the poor bastard would be still alive.

It looks like Ron, or whatever his name was, was going to be a "prized one".

Unhealthy was an understatement. We were all sickly and morbid; many suffered from chest infections from aspirated vomit. Although I can't speak for the others, I suspect they all have what I do; a heart at the brink of complete failure, hypertrophied and exhausted from supporting the massive metabolic overload of our enormous bulks, and pounding like a pneumatic drill.

I feel a sharp pain in my right side, an internalized pain, different from the agony of the filth-encrusted bars cutting into my flesh. I can it feel heaving up, poking me with each breath I take.

The grease-laden dirty bomb inside of me. The prized commodity of our handlers.

Perhaps I was a prized one too.

A loud noise distracts me from my thoughts.

They enter, holding the vile tubes and pumps and buckets of the nauseating oily mash.

Our captors are definitely not human.

They're bipeds, with two arms and legs and a head. At least twice the size of a normal human, but the proportions are all wrong. The shoulders are not in the same plane as their necks, which are elongated, and often held in a curve.

The arms are too long and bend in all the wrong ways. The legs are too short, and they big flat boots.

They always enter wearing some sort of hazmat suit, with an elaborate gasmask, like a huge black snout, obscuring their faces. But from the position of the lenses I can tell their eyes are on the side of the heads.

Their gloves are mitten-like, they don't have fingers, but their hands are dexterous and strong enough.

The work their way down the rows, muttering and gesturing to each other.

The sounds of retching and gagging fill the air.

They approach us.

One kneels down and roughly, carelessly shoves a tube into Bessie's (or is it Elsie?) mouth, and starts pumping the mash.

Betty's eyes go wide, and there is a loud gag, then a wet tearing sound as the front of her throat splits open, splattering our captor with mash and blood. That's a new one for me; esophagi and stomach ruptures were a daily occurrence, but this is the first time I saw someone's throat split open.

It gives an angry shriek and kicks Betty's face in.

The other masked creatures burst into a muffled cacophony of what I can only assume is laughter.

The loud, harsh, noises strike a chord with me.

The noisy laughter, strange and distorted, reminds me of something.

It sounds strangely familiar, a relic from the past.

It sounds like...

It sounds like...

It sounds like quacking.