's 2016 Horror Write-off:


Submitted by Carson Albrecht

"Come on Uncle Greg, they won't be home until the morning, can't you tell us just one more story?" Asked Roger.

"Please, just one more story, and make it a scary one." Said Mark.

"Yeah, a scary one."

"Well, I do have a scary story." Said Uncle Greg. "Just one. But you've got to promise not to tell your parents what I told you. It's not often that I get to take care of you guys, and if they hear about this then they won't let me babysit you again."

"We promise." The boys said in unison.

"Alright," Greg settled down onto the bed and made himself comfortable. "This happened years ago, back before I'd started training for my trucking licence."

"It's not a road story?" Asked Mark.

"No, it's about what happened to my friend Devin. We were the only two horror fans in our high school, so we spent a lot of time together. Even after graduation we traded movies and books.

"It was late one night and I was watching "The Sound of Horror", funny detail that. Forgot about it entirely until I found it in the VCR the next day. It felt like an omen of some sort, so I threw it out.

"Anyway, it was late at night and I was watching a movie when a heard a frantic knocking on the door. So I stopped the movie and went to look through the peephole. Devin was standing there, pale as a ghost and shivering from the rain, looking from side to side in swift jerking motions as if he expected something to lung out of the gloom at any moment. I thought maybe he'd spooked himself really bad with some movie and wanted to hang out.

"Every time we met we would test each other to see if one of us had been turned into a vampire. It was a stupid, geeky thing to do, but we were young and it had become a sort of running joke. So I opened the door and started saying 'If you can't come in uninvited you're not welcome', but he barged inside before I got two words out. Then he grabbed the door, slammed it shut, and locked it.

"By the time I'd finished the sentence he was leaned up against the wall and in the throws of a laughing fit. I asked him what was happening, but he just laughed harder and harder. That got old pretty fast so I grabbed him by the ear and asked him what was wrong. That shut him up. He looked me right in the eyes and said, 'don't worry I'll be fine'. That was when I started getting really worried. He always was a terrible liar. It seemed like he was going to say something, but he was stopped by another spasm of laughter and his legs gave out. Somehow I dragged him over to the couch. In a couple minutes the giggling had died down enough for him to begin.

"He'd had plans that night but had decided to cut them short because of the rain. He was just going to mail a package to his granny up in Prince Rupert and then go home when he heard a little girl crying in an alley. This alley was just across the way from a small park, so he thought that maybe a young girl had slipped away from her parents and gotten herself hurt. His well-honed sense of horror situations was telling him to leave it alone. But if he left now and someone was in danger he'd never forgive himself if something happened in the time it took him to get the police. And if it were a prank then he'd never get over the embarrassment.

"Now he wasn't a complete idiot, he'd heard of women acting as accomplices to muggers, and he supposed the same might be true for children. So he advanced slowly with one hand tight around the penknife hidden in his coat pocket, and he kept one eye on the exit in case things went south.

"He walked quietly through the alley looking everywhere for the girl but he couldn't see her. It sounded like he was getting closer, but all he saw was piles of wet garbage on the ground. Eventually he turned the corner of a dumpster to see a pile of stuffed animals on the ground. Well, he said they weren't really animals, they didn't have the right number or arrangements of limbs and torsos for that, but that was the first thing he thought of when he saw them. They were poorly made and definitely handcrafted. The seams were stitched with thick black thread and spilling some type of red stuffing.

"So he stood there looking at the stuffed 'animals' and he realized two very important things.

"The first was that the crying had stopped.

"The second was that they were dry, and so was everything around them. There was a gap in the rainfall, which could only mean that there was above them that he hadn't seen. Something that was big enough to create a two-metre wide rain shadow.

"His instincts took control and he jumped back a few paces, barely in time to see something land right where he'd just been. Only he couldn't exactly see it, only the rain pattering on what looked like empty air. He wasn't able to describe the thing except to say that it looked to have some type of chitinous armour on its back, and its feet squelched on the pavement. He didn't have time for any further detail because the thing lunged at him and managed to grab one of his arms in its bristly claws."

"Bristly claws?" Asked Roger, eyes wide.

"That's what he said, bristly claws. Kind of like a giant crab's claw covered in straw. The 'straw' stabbed him through his coat and itched like the dickens. He pulled out the hand holding his pocketknife and stabbed the thing. His blade sort of bounced off the thing's armour before he managed to slide it down the thing's arm and find a joint. It screamed and let him go. He ran away leaving the blade still buried in the thing's joint. When he looked back he saw that the blade had vanished completely and only the handle was still partially visible, more of it vanishing with each trickle of blood.

"At this point in his story Devin pulled off his gloves and hiked up his left sleeve to show me his proof. I could see the bones in his right hand and the still visible blood flowing through his unseen veins. That was weird but it seemed mostly harmless. The real problem was his left arm. Where the bristles had pierced him were these great big pustules of red fibres. It was kind of like lint but much coarser. I tried to pull it out with tweezers but it wouldn't stop no matter how much I pulled out. It seemed to tickle him terribly; because he started laughing so hard he could barely breathe.

"I called him an ambulance. Neither of us had any medical knowledge, but we both knew this was serious and he needed professional help. While we were waiting we told me the rest of the story.

 "Devin had run all the way back to his place before he realized what else he'd left behind in that alley. His keys were in the same pocket as his penknife and he must have dropped them in the scuffle. I'd just recently helped him move some stuff so I still had his spare key, which was why he'd run over.

 "When he finished we simply sat there and stared at each other. I wanted to say something, but didn't know what. So we sat there in silence until we heard knocking on the door, and a voice call 'Ambulance here!'

"With his good arm over my shoulder I carried him over to the door. I looked through the peephole and saw three paramedics with a stretcher.

"In the smallest fraction of a second after I opened the door Devin was wrenched from my grasp and pulled out into the night. I fell over and stared up at him, seemingly floating in midair. At my new angle I could tell that the paramedics were a two-dimensional image on what I took to be the creature's shell. I sat there for a moment, paralyzed in fear, as the image pixelated and disappeared. Then something squelched away with Devin in tow. He was laughing harder than before, it almost sounded like coughing. I never saw him again.

"I shut the door and didn't open it until the real paramedics came. There was no evidence. I knew better than to say what had actually happened. I told them that he'd run off while I went to the washroom. The police came by the next day to ask me a few questions about his disappearance, but nothing ever came of it.

"A few weeks later I heard Devin calling for me from the basement of my apartment block. After that I moved out of town. Got a job as a long haul trucker so the thing couldn't track me down. Haven't seen any sign of it in the two decades since, but I still won't ever go back.

"That's why I was so glad to hear you were moving over here. Now that we're all out of town there's no way that thing can find us, and I can finally come over to see you two without worrying."

The two boys lay in stunned silence.

"Sleep tight." Said Uncle Greg as he pulled the blankets up to their chins. Then he got up and walked over to the door.


"Yes Roger?"

"Is that a true story?"

Uncle Greg had an expression on his face that Roger couldn't quite place. "True as they come." He turned out the light and closed the door.

Minutes that might have been hours passed before Roger spoke again. "Mark, are you awake?" He heard his brother nodding beside him.

"Do you think he was telling the truth?"

"No way. Couldn't you tell he was making it up on the fly? He just wanted to scare us."

"If he wanted to do that aren't there a lot of easier ways to do it? Couldn't he tell us about a phantom hitchhiker or something? Something more plausible?"

"He's just joking around with us. Go to sleep." He heard Mark turn over.

And he did, in time, fall asleep, though not for long.

Roger awoke to the sound of voices. He opened his eyes and turned to look at the slight radiance slipping from beneath the door merging with the moonlight from the window. He thought he'd heard his parent's voices but now it sounded like his uncle and a stranger were having an argument. Roger strained to listen.

All he heard was the door being slammed and the sound of wood cracking. Then he heard the sound of feet losing traction on the linoleum of the entrance-way, and a squelching as something stepped inside.

He reached over and hit his brother. "Wake up, it's in the house."

Mark yawned. "What's in the house?"

"The monster that Uncle was telling us about."

"You're dreaming again." Said Mark.

"Listen." Roger said. In the silence that followed they could both hear something squelching around the living room and a struggling sound.

"He's just playing a trick on us." Said Mark as he sat up and strode over to the door. "And I'm calling his bluff." He opened the door and stepped out, looking up and down the hallway. "Stop trying to scare us Uncle, it's not work..." Mark stopped dead in his tracks, his face shifting from annoyance, to amazement, to terror. He screamed and ran the opposite direction. Mark had made it perhaps ten feet, when something unseen thudded down the hall after him in great wet strides, knocking the door closed as it ran.

Alone in the moonlit room Roger quietly slid under the bed and cried as the house fell silent.