's 2015 Horror Write-off:

" Splatter Freak "

Submitted by Gwendolynn Anathema MacGlower

Cameron was an odd boy. He didn't much care for others, didn't much care for anything besides books and movies, and even then it was a certain type of book and movie. What Cameron loved was creatures. His room was decorated with his trophies of the macabre, movie posters proudly displaying zombies and demons of every sort, one enthusiastically announcing that the gore-covered stripper on it was a “SPLATTER FREAK”, rubber masks contorted into unnatural expressions, rubbery blood and snot and in one case what appeared to be motor oil dripping from their mouths, noses, and gaping wounds. Spiders and skeletal birds hung from his ceiling, entangled and sharing pieces in such a way that it was somewhat impossible to tell which was which. His bookshelf was full of the greats; Algernon Blackwood, HP Lovecraft, Bram Stoker, Edgar Allen Poe, Stephen King, Poppy Z. Brite, RL Stine, and many, many, more. The books filled his small shelf and poured over edge, thin novels and anthologies containing the doorway to eternity and nightmares laying scattered over his creaky wood floor.

It was in these books that Cameron found friends, and not in the children who played noisily in the street. He would bury his face in one short story collection or another, and listen to the cacophony of Azathoth's dancers or the scuttle and squeak of rats as they drove a man to suicide. In the pages of his books, he befriended Otto, who murdered murderers and simply ADORED the look on their face as they slept. Of course, the executioner was not quite peculiar enough for Cameron, so he tucked Otto back onto his shelf and found comfort in the fortunately true tale of Robert, who came alive and tormented an artist until he simply dropped dead.

The best part of reading, Cameron thought, was that if he closed his eyes, it was as if his friends were real, in the room with him. He would hear the sticky PLOP as a piece of the blob fell off his table, feel the scaly skin of the Deep Ones brush his cheek, smell the rot of Ghouls. If he had his eyes closed for a reeeaaaalllyyy long time, they would still be there when he opened them. He loved to watch ghosts float through his ceiling, to see faeries stab and laugh at each other, to see the pumpkin-headed demons light up from the inside and cackle as his posters were scorched.

After a few small fires, Cameron didn't close his eyes as much.

One late night, Cameron had stayed up late, and he could hear his parents arguing from downstairs. “YOU'RE INSANE,” his mother yelled. His father responded, “It's not natural, Debbie! None of it is right!”

His mother was crying. There was screaming, threats, and then hushed sobs. Cameron closed his eyes to sleep, and the dreams drifted out of his head and danced around the room. Before he could work himself into a nice, deep slumber, he heard heavy footsteps coming up the stairs. They were hesitant, slow. If you listened closely, you would hear them stop, pace nervously, then resume their trek down the hall to Cameron's room. Cameron opened his eyes, the serpent floating through the air turning to dust as he did. The footsteps had stopped outside his door. The door creaked open when his father pushed it. “Get up, Cam,” he said, “We're going for a walk.”

Cameron did not have time to put on his shoes as his father walked him through the icy night into the woods. Something cold, so cold, almost as cold as his toes, was pressed against his back. They walked deeper, and deeper, and deeper, until the only sound they could hear was a dog barking very, very, far off in the distance.

Cameron was scared. He didn't trust his father, didn't trust the cold, hard thing digging into his ribs. He closed his eyes, and started to pray.

Or at least, he tried to. His mind wandered to all the horrible things that happened to children in the movies. He thought of banshees and boogeymen and little vampire girls turned to ash. Something rustled in the bushes. His father forced him onto his knees, the cold thing now pressed against his head.

Cameron thought he heard crying. He knew he heard leaves crunching, wanted to know what had followed them, but was too terrified to open his eyes. The cold thing was no longer pressed against his skull. For a moment, it was quiet. Calm. Only the sound of heavy breathing and a low, vicious growl could be heard. Something touched Cameron again, still very, very cold. There was a scream, and a gunshot.

Cameron kept his eyes closed for a very long time, listening to something being dragged through the frost, the sounds of something ripping and something smacking. The cold hand on his head began to stroke him, told him it was all okay. Her claw scratched the back of his head. He heard something run off, and opened his eyes, just in time to see something large, on four legs, turn a corner through a thick copse of trees very quickly, headed back towards Cameron's house, towards Cameron's mother. He turned to see a lovely lady, skin all blue, no breath creating a mist. She smiled weakly. Then Cameron looked down.

His father's corpse was mostly eaten, just some warm, sticky bones now, a red stain on the frost that would melt away in the morning. He stood in silence for some time, paying his respects to the dead, When he looked back at the blue lady, she was crumbling, her hair falling out and skin turning black as she fell to her knees. Cameron sighed and closed his eyes.

He kept his eyes closed for a rather remarkable amount of time. When he opened them, the sun had risen, and over the pile of bones stood a new mother and father for Cameron, markedly similar to the last set.