's 2016 Horror Write-off:

Uncle Frank

Submitted by Jared Ludy

When the final days of November started to approach, Kyle began to feel an imminent sense of dread return to him. It was this time of year that he had to visit his Uncle Frank. Frank moved to the woods about 10 years ago, when Kyle was only very little, and he hasn't really been the same ever since. Kyle knew that living alone could make you a whole lot stranger, and Frank was no exception.

When the day finally came, Kyle's dad knocked on his door and told him to grab his coat. It was going to be a long drive.

While they were sitting in the car, cruising down the highway, Kyle's dad geared up to talk to his son about their visit. "Now, I know your uncle makes you a bit uncomfortable..." his father started. "But he's still family you know? He might be living an alternate lifestyle now, but he loves you just as much as he did when you were little, and he doesn't get much company out where he lives."

"I get it dad. It's fine." Said Kyle, though insincere.

"We'll be pretty quick anyhow. I don't think he'll even want us inside this year, honestly. We'll just be making a quick stop to chat and catch up. Hey, we'll even pick up some dinner on the way back. Look at us go." said Kyle's dad.

Kyle still couldn't help being withdrawn.

Soon, the pavement of the road turned bumpy and gravelly. A thick sea of trees surrounded the car. In broad daylight beyond the treetops, the light barely reached the long, decaying road. The space between the trees themselves was nearly pitch black. The radio sputtered on and off for a couple of moments before totally cutting to static.

Soon, a familiar sight passed the side of Kyle's vision. A car was broken down on the side of the road. Like every year, it wasn't the last. Soon another one. And another. And another. After a couple of minutes they were even closer together. A few moments longer and they were even in the middle of the road. Kyle's father had to turn and swerve to avoid them. He was obviously bothered, and his breathing became unsteady. Kyle closed his eyes for a couple minutes and pulled in a deep breathe to prepare himself.

He saved himself the sight of it, but Kyle began to hear crunching noises from under the wheels. Bones. The crunching became louder and more frequent as the vehicle pushed forward.

The car began to slow after about twenty minutes, and painfully rolled into a stop.

Kyle heard his father's seat belt unbuckle and his door open. He took another deep breathe and unbuckled his own belt.

As the two stood in front of Frank's residence, they noticed a deafening silence. It was as if no cricket or bird had so much as taken a step in the surrounding area for years.

Frank's lawn was no lawn. It was a patch of dirt littered with bones smashed into pebble-sized pieces and splintered shards.

Frank's house was disheveled beyond belief. It was a rotting log cabin with a caved in roof and two shacks fashioned out of sheets of scrap metal affixed to the side.

Kyle's father was sweating, despite the freezing cold air and heavy shade. "Fraaaaaank!" he called out with an echo.

After a couple of seconds, crunching could be heard from the backyard. It became louder and louder, step by step.

Soon he came into sight.

Uncle Frank walked in a drugged manner, like a gaunt corpse with a bum leg. He wore nothing but underwear, cowboy boots and gloves of cracked, stained leather. Kyle was never told, but he knew they weren't made with skin from animals.

Frank's skin and hair was heavily caked in dirt. He had been sleeping in that muddy hole in his backyard again. The dried mud seeped into his mouth and eye-lids, which were sewn shut with leather lace. He carried a rusted machete in each hand.

Frank spoke first. "Hiya family. Always nice always nice."

His words were clear, yet did not emerge from his laced mouth or any other source.

"Yeah, always nice." says Kyle's father with a crack in his voice.

"Always a good time. Good feelings. So soft. And such a young one too! Big also. So big and strong, like his Uncle frank!"

Kyle's father nodded and kept his eyes away from Frank. Kyle felt a lump in his throat.

"Family is a nice. You need! You gotta have! Stronger and stronger! Makes your bones work!"

"It's nice to see you again Uncle Frank." Kyle nervously blurted out.

As Uncle Frank continued to speak, his voice became closer. Not louder, but closer. If you were to talk to him for too long, it would feel as though he were speaking right next to both of your ears, close enough to embrace you.

"Always nice" said Frank.

"And you know I can see you."

Kyle felt chills throughout his body. His heart skipped a beat.

"You know, we miss you up in the city." Kyle's father interrupted, still attempting to not look directly at his brother.

Uncle Frank was silent.

"We just.... We respect the fact that you....."

Uncle Frank remained silent.

"But we really think that you might.... You might want things to be like they used to again."

Uncle frank remained silent.

Kyle's father remained silent as well.

Kyle couldn't bear to look at him any more either.

Uncle frank stepped closer to Kyle's father. The bones crunched under his boots.

Uncle Frank raised one of his machetes and placed it flatly against Kyle's father's back, like how someone would grab you by the shoulder to tell you something intimate.

"I'm so much stronger." Said Uncle Frank.

"You could be strong too, Tom. You can stay. You all can stay."

Kyle and his father were frozen with fear. Kyle naively wondered if he could wrestle one of Frank's machetes away from him if he needed to.

Kyle's father winced with guilt. "It's time for us to go Frank."

Uncle Frank was silent.

"Yes.... Yes. Yes. Good." Uncle Frank said.

Uncle Frank backed away.

Silence took over once more.

Breaking the silence, coughing came from one of Frank's metal shacks.

Without a word, Frank left the two and retreated to this shack, boots crunching on the ground. When he entered, he was met with anguished crying.

Kyle and his father retreat to the car and buckle up for the ride home. Before he starts the car, they both sit there for a few minutes.

"How's hoagies sound?" asks Kyle's father eventually.

Kyle nods.

His father starts up the car and they move forward. As they continue down the road, the sea of abandoned cars becomes more and more dense. After mere moments, it becomes impossible to drive through without scraping against the sides of them.

As the minute sparks from the cars scraping together light up their windows in the shady forest, Kyle looks at his father's face. Tears are running down his cheeks.

Kyle can't help but tear up as well. He closes his eyes and thinks about the hoagies.