's 2016 Horror Write-off:

Knotted Sticks

Submitted by Axe Burner


They look like old women, but too old, too skinny and wrinkled, their limbs and fingers and everything else thin and drawn out like sticks. Everything is long and sharp, their noses and chins are long and sharp. They weave their limbs with dry thorny branches, woven, intertwined. And their fingers all are knotted you know. And their fingers all are knotted you know. (Knotted like the knots in wood with their wrinkles forming dark whorls, knotted like the knots in string woven with those thorny branches).

Once they were as beautiful and delicate as flowers.

They have eternal life but they don't stop aging, we lose water as we get older and now they are as dry as mummies, thin and hard as wood. Some people seem to get as hard as teak as they grow old, and don't some mummies look like they're made of polished wood? The myths say the gods gave a man eternal life but forgot to give him eternal youth so he shriveled up into a cricket, but they turned into stick insects instead. Like stick insects, hiding among the branches of dead trees, bundles of sticks.

They come out for those softer than they are, younger than they are, wetter than they are, poking and piercing. Poking and piercing to bring out the blood, the water, jabbing with thorns and needles. So many points, they are hard and we are soft and they poke of full of holes because they are too thin and drawn out into sticks, into needles. Wooden needles, wooden splinters getting under the skin, hard weaving through the soft, until all bleeds out and is as dry and hard as they are. Dry branches rustling in the wind.