's 2016 Horror Write-off:


Submitted by Paracosmos

 James followed the hulking beast across the grassy plain. It was humanoid, black. Standing twelve feet tall, fifteen if it weren't hunched. It had legs like tree trunks which were small in proportion to its body. Its back had two small shoulder blades. James had a strange feeling that those shoulder blades had carvings and designs etched in, some ancient language. Each spine segment poked out like a horn, stretching the black, shiny skin.

 It had a dry leather belt with little glass jars, each with a beetle or insect trapped inside, some dead, some dying, some fresh.

 Its belt forked off at its left hip. That path of leather stretched up over its right shoulder and back around to the belt. A matted, patchy brown fur hung from it, wooden pegs kept it attached.

 One arm was muscled and long, the other short and slightly deformed. The large one dragged a stained burlap sack, one that jittered and pulled, someone kept inside.

 James lifted a rock and flung it at the things back, something he did occasionally. The impact of the rock described the skin as leathery and knotted. He heard the creature purr like a whale-cat hybrid taken slightly out of its comfort zone. James wondered how a creature like that would ever be comfortable.

 James picked up his pace, matching the speed of the slow lunges taken by the creature. Its feet seemed to uproot and replant themselves every step.

 The thing had a disturbing silence, hiding its mysterious intention. An intention James hoped to learn. He was now a few feet ahead of the creature.

 He looked at it, drawing its bag of human along with it. It had a small, slightly baggy burlap sack pulled over its head with its base tied around its neck. There was a tight hole for one small eye, an unblinking bloodshot eye.

 The creature did its best to ignore James, lightly swishing at him with its small arm or shaking like a cow bothered by flies.

 James kicked it in the stomach, it stopped. Waited a second.

 The single visible eye audibly rolled down to James, slowly. It judged him. James had no time to react, a burlap sack with the weight of a fully grown man had been swung into his side, toppling him.

 James wretched with pain, he was winded to the point of suffocation. And his side was on fire.

 The thing marched on, ignorant as ever. Its elephantine foot landed centimetres from his ankle, which could easily snap his leg.

 James reached for a satchel on his belt, his hands panicked and sloppy. He opened the satchel and pulled out a small white glass bottle. The top had been plugged with a varnished cork. He dug out the cork and ingested everything in the bottle. A numbing freeze flowed down his throat and through his entire body, fixing and adjusting the damage as it went. No more pain.

 James took it that the beast has had enough of his shit, and would now retaliate.

 So James followed the thing. It never strayed from its beeline of a path. When it came across a rock or a drop, any kind of obstacle, it would stand dumbly for a few seconds, then go around it. As if waiting for someone to remove the obstacle.

 James was getting tired, but he thought he now knew where the thing was going. Just a few hours ago, James was sleeping in a boarded up hotel. He woke up at six in the morning to a screaming sound which muffled a short time after it started. He had rushed to the window, still rubbing his eyes, and saw that the sacrifice had been accepted. The kidnapping beast took the tied up prisoner who was left out in the open.

 It made him feel sick.

 But there was a witch nearby, he spoke to her. According to her, the way you keep them away is by soaking a potato sack in blood and cutting out a single eyehole, then you put it on your head.

 The blood had to be human.

 She offered to sell some, giving him a discount he was sure everyone got. But he politely refused, he didn't want to be wondering where she got the blood or who's it was. He bought some numbing fruit and a surgical knife from the pharmacist. He bought a bag of potatoes from the farmer and soon enough he had his strange mask. That and a bandaged arm.

 He had been putting off wearing the mask until now, because far away he saw another trudging up in the same direction.

 They were heading into the weeping willows, a well known place. Though nothing seemed bad about it, people didn't go in because they were scared. Everyone was scared of that forest. Just a result of myths and stories.

 Now James discovered a secret about this place, it was home to the kidnappers. James dreaded that he would find where everyone had been taken, despite that being the reason he had followed the thing in the first place.

 The willow trees looked nice, thick with leaves. Now the beast stepped in through the treeline. James hesitated, then followed.

 The further they went, the thinner the leaves got. As if James was walking through the seasons, now entering Winter.

Eventually the trees were bare, and the wood seemed dryer. The branches were angling a lot more. Jutting out at random places.

 James saw another kidnapper, this one coming towards him, and scrambled to get the bloody mask over his face.

 It was horrible. Cold, wet and claustrophobic. He wondered if the beasts felt this all the time. He hoped they did.

 The trees seemed to twitch and curl sometimes. As if being blown around by a nonexistent wind.

 The other kidnapper brushed past the one James was following, it was going back for another victim. James walked by it nervously, breathing very light. He felt his shoulder make contact with it, sending him into an internal panic, but it ignored him.

 About five feet ahead, the kidnapping beast had a branch stretch reluctantly down and poke him. Another few did the same.

 James understood, they were making sure they had their regular visitors.

 James lay on his stomach and began worming along the ground, if he touched those branches something would happen. And James was not willing to find out what that was.

 He was breathing heavily, the branches hung low near his body. But James saw that the beast was no longer being felt by the trees, so when James crawled over to where the beast was, he got back up and dusted himself off.

 They walked for another minute, and James felt the eerie quiet of the forest pressing heavily.

 The sky seemed to darken with grey clouds. The trees were stretching out, as if racing for sunlight.

 James noticed a malnourished looking squirrel, sitting on a tree branch. He smiled at it, though the squirrel wouldn't notice this small bit of appreciation, due to the mask.

 James felt his smile drop with force. A branch tilted towards the squirrel, aiming, and shot forward, extending impossibly.

 James looked away from his little impaled friend. He felt like crying, such a minor tragedy wasn't worth tears, but that wouldn't stop him.

 James despised this forest, wanted to burn it. The wood is so dry it might just work. Another day, soon.

 Another impaled creature slowly slid down a branch, a crow. And another, and another.

 He was walking through a forest that held nothing sacred. A forest who's fruit was small dead animals. Soon enough every branch had an impaled creature. Though no flies feasted on them. They were getting bigger and older the deeper James went, as if stuck in a morbid competition.

 James saw a clear winner to this competition. Farther up ahead.

 He took a moment to hold back his stomach, but it went anyways. At first he didn't believe he saw it, but it was very real. The kidnapper continued its journey, as if nothing was wrong. James wanted to shout at it, show it exactly what was wrong. Why couldn't it just see? Why wasn't it horrified and in tears? Why didn't it care?

 Because these things were dumb, cruel brutes. They knew nothing good.

 James walked on, angry now, angrier than ever. He kept his head down, but the image was burned into his eyes. What had happened? James imagined that this was just a normal, peaceful forest a long time ago. And here was a family, living in a little wooden cabin. He thought of the mother cradling the baby... But the trees just... Sudden...

 James would kill all these fucking things, that was his new goal.

 He was near that horrible tree now, the victims were hanging over him. James closed his eyes.

 By now James was used to the kidnappers walking in and out of the forest now. A silent misery loomed over them all, making James feel as if he was slowly turning into one.

 James thought nothing would disturb him more than what he had seen. But of course, this forest keeps getting worse and worse. In the distance, impaled creatures were running out of style. Apparently it was hanging bodies, human bodies? Yeah, sure, that's completely in right now.

 As James got closer to the hanging bodies, he was beginning to realise that these weren't human, and he had never seen them before. They were humanoid, completely black. Red eyes bulging like the eyes of a fly. In fact, they looked exactly like them.

 The sky was dark grey with clouds, the unending loom hanging over the creatures. It was sunny back in the plains.

 Now the trees had strange, ancient carvings. The same ones carved into the kidnappers shoulder blades. James dismissed the thought- no, it stayed. The thought forced its way in and stayed.

 James thought he was going mad, and did nothing to stop it.

 Now the massive willow trees- Living trees, were walking, shuffling around gently swinging their hanging creatures. James was not surprised in the least.

 Now kidnappers were coming out into the forest constantly, every ten seconds or so. The source was close.

 Very close.

 The trees started to thin out. Walking more slowly, getting frailer and frailer, James could see past them.

 Now they were at a dirt clearing, a big one. A tree stood in the centre, a gigantic one. James had never seen such a large tree,

 But its leaves were there, bright and green. The black bodies hung generously like apples.

 Surrounding the tree, many kidnappers walked in and out of the clearing. There was maybe thirteen at one time.

 The base of the tree, that was the source. A silver, clear mirror lay embedded in it. The kidnapper he had been following for hours walked straight through the mirror, no hesitation. Its surface rippled, settled quickly.

 James slowly walked up to the mirror. He saw himself, eerily similar to the creatures. His macabre mask with one eye staring. He wondered if this is how the creatures came to be. He would walk into that mirror and walk straight back out holding an empty sack that he would soon fil-

 His horrible train of thought was interrupted when a kidnapper lumbered up behind him, dragging its demented bag with it. James walked quickly into the mirror and immediately felt the cold. His vision stuttered, he fell to one side. He thought he was going to pass out, things were hazy. But his senses crawled back...


 A patient line of kidnappers, their bags fighting less now, stood before him.

 The sky was dark shades of green, swirling and mingling. James stood on a giant creation, living and breathing in ominous silence. He saw that, if he had fallen another inch, he would be in a misty bright green abyss. He thought you could fall for years and not find the end to that thing.

 James stood, he was on a large black structure. It was flat, rectangular.

 There must have been a hundred of the things.

 They came out of a silver mirror, the exact same to the one he saw in the tree. But James saw through the thick line of kidnappers, there was another, going the other way, going out.

 But there were too many going out to be entering just the willow forest. There must have been more places that they inhabited.

 James walked up the line to the end, it was fairly long. James reached the end, and saw where the people were going.

 One by one, the kidnappers opened the sacks and emptied them into the abyss. The person fell out screaming until they came to an abrupt silence. James hurried to peer over the edge. His blood went cold.

 In the murky green abyss, hundreds of humans floated, still and silent, some further down than others.

 James had to break them out of this abstract hell. But he didn't know how. So he did what first came to mind. He reached for his holsters and pulled out one revolver, he aimed with his right hand into the abyss.

 He picked one of the closer bodies, aiming with his one eye. He drew three breaths, held the third one.


 The sound echoed through the abyss, the kidnappers stopped, seemingly in fear. The body resumed its screaming it was doing before being thrown into the abyss. It flailed and twirled through the air, momentum preserved, as if I had just unpaused time.

 The kidnappers began to move, hurrying. Only now, all towards the exit.

 Regret started pooling in James' stomach. He awoke something from its peaceful slumber, a slumber that was supposed to last billions of years, and then it would wake up to a buffet of humans. Though they weren't the only bodies it was feeding on...

 James stayed still... He had awoken something terrible.

 And he could feel it's anger, hunger from miles away. It was snarling and speeding through the abyss. Right towards James.

 He looked over the green sea, and in the distance, a small bump.

 The bump moved up like a serpent, and dove back down into the green sea, its long body followed. James felt it nearing with every sense, every sense and a thousand more, an indescribable feeling he would never repeat.

 It was to his right, very far but closing the distance quickly. James quivered, holstered his revolver and got to his knees. A final request for mercy.

 But the ancient being remained unfaltered, now rising from the sea. It rushed past James within three feet of him.

 It was like a high speed train. It's body wider than the Colosseum, a terrifying sight to behold.

 Eyes lined the sides of the beast, each one stared at James with pure molten hatred.

 James felt the air rushing past him, through him. The ground below him began to seep and boil, frothing and writhing. He was gently sinking into the stuff.

 James leapt.

 He latched onto the great eldritch serpent, grasping its tough, scaly body. He had both hands and a foot stuck into small ridges on the beast. His dangling foot scanned the body for a place to plant itself, and dug in. James began to climb the creature one limb at a time. Now he could see that he was very high up on this length of ancient flesh, and was thankful, it made the climb short.

 James reached the top of the creature, wind threatening to wipe him off at any moment.

 When he peeked over the last part of its side, James saw a flat, walled length of scales. He checked both sides of the thing, it was wide as a highway. Yet no traffic came. He tugged viciously to pull himself onto the grand path. He lay flat on his back, staring at the horrendous void of the sky. Cosmic entities bred and consumed deep in that sky, James hated the thought... The truth.

 James regained focus and looked right, the head of the serpent was far away, and it was rising. He also took time to notice another great black blot in the sky, surely the same kind as he had just come from, though it used beings from another world.

 James looked back to the head of the creature, which disappeared. James frowned at this. Had it entered another dimension? Dipped like a rollercoaster?


 ... It dipped. Oh god it dipped.

 And when the section of this endless body caught up to the dive, James would fling off. If he held on, he would rip off his arms. If the creature had wanted me to enter the green abyss, couldn't it have just twisted and let me fly off there?

 There was something more that it wanted, something worse than the abyss. But James couldn't think of anything worse. His mind got ticking.

 Fling me off... It won't let me fall... Catch... Me... Oh god OH GOD O-

 James was flying through the... Air? Sure, the air. And the creature seemed to telepathically let him in on its demented plan. A plan formed from inspiration pumped straight from the ancient, recently awoken wells of dark intuition. Now the mouth of the eldritch serpent which had waited eons to open and dine, was right under James, and approaching fast.

 James saw gums built with Shoggoth's flesh, he saw a tongue beholding sentience, he saw many rows of titanic teeth which had edges sharpened down to the atom, he saw mouth walls harder than steel, he saw enough saliva to drown galaxies. But worst of all he saw the throat.

 In the moment he saw the creatures stomach, or rather, didn't, he was aware of the creatures might. A dreadful might welded by a horrendous thing.

 James was swallowed into the abyss, into hell. He plummeted into another dimension, making a soft thump on a mountain of alien corpses, entire races of them. James wondered when he would die, how long would this last?

 James heard a moaning that vibrated from beneath.

 They were still alive.

 They were all still alive.