's 2017 Horror Write-off:


Submitted by Jackson Gilbert

Andy hated himself. He had told everyone that tonight was when he'd go cold turkey. No more, he said. People congratulated him, said that he had a will of iron. They said that maybe he could finally turn his life around.

But come midnight, here he was. In a dark alley, waiting for his dealer. He had woken up in a sweat, heart racing. He had stressed out over his job, all the stuff that might have happened tomorrow. So Andy decided he needed to relax. When the load was easier, he would stop.

Andy fidgeted and looked over his shoulder. Red-and-blue lights flew past. This was not a good neighborhood. Hopefully he wasn't stabbed to death before the dealer got here. Andy shook again in anticipation for the high. Actually, getting stabbed wouldn't be too bad. After all, it would rid the world of him.

Andy looked over towards the road. He could still leave. He didn't need to do this. He had started walking when he heard a voice behind him.

"I'm in supply, you know." The dealer's voice was weird. It was smooth for half a sentence, then switched to sounding like a burn victim. It would alternate, sometimes within the same syllable.

"Yeah. Sure. I have money for it. Fifty dollars. Good for a vial, right?"

"Good for five." The dealer never showed himself. Every time Andy talked with him, he was in shadow. All Andy knew about the dealer was from his trench-coat.

"Holy shit! Really? That's... that's one helluva deal!"

"You're a good customer. You deserve it." Andy could've sworn the man smiled.

"Y'know, this might just have changed my mind. I was going to quit tomorrow." Andy blushed and snapped his mouth shut after the sentence was over. He probably shouldn't have said that.

"I know." The words sent chills down Andy's spine. He didn't know why, but everything about them was off.

Andy paid him the money, then snatched the vials from his hands. Almost immediately, he downed a vial of the black sludge in one gulp. It tasted bitter, and had all kinds of weird chunks in it. But it gave him an awesome high.

For the second time that night, he was interrupted before he walked out of the alley. This time, it was the police.

Andy saw patrol cars at both sides of the alley. The officers shined their flashlights, yelling for the two men to stop and get on the ground. Andy looked over at the dealer, worried. In the lights, the first thing he saw was that the dealer's trench-coat was not, in fact, a trench-coat.

The dealer was completely naked. His body started to split in half from the throat down, creating the image of clothing. The man was also filled to the brim with some black junk. His ribs, his stomach, and his mouth all had the compacted sludge in them.

The second thing Andy noticed was that the dealer wasn't all the way on the ground. He floated off of it a little bit. This was due to the third thing Andy noticed. Strings trailed from his hands, head, and back to the top of the alleyway. As Andy looked up, he realized that he couldn't see the sky.

Hundreds of clicks echoed from the top of the alleyway. Apparently, the police thought they were guns. As such, they opened fire. When the first bullet hit the dealer, he went up in flames. Only then did the officers see what had happened to him. When the strings caught fire, the corpse collapsed.

A grey limb, long and pointed, flicked out into the light. Andy barely saw a string connect to one of the cars before it flew towards the alley. It crashed against the sides of the alley, unable to enter it, simultaneously blocking that exit. Fortunately, nobody was inside the car.

Another grey piece motioned. The officer who had the broken car was flung up into the darkness, where his screams stopped. The other officers started firing, catching bits of whatever was up there aflame. As the light slowly revealed the thing, the officers were dispatched one by one. Andy had just barely crawled out of the alley when the last one was snatched up, neck immediately breaking.

Andy picked himself up, running. He managed to be in his apartment by morning. He collapsed on his bed, heaving. Andy quickly fell asleep, dreaming of puppet masters breaking all his arms and legs.

Andy woke up with a pained stomach. He staggered over to the toilet and vomited out some black sludge. He swore that it was shaking a little. Andy swore, and looked down at his stomach. It felt like there were things in it. Like a swarm of tiny mice were wiggling around. Andy walked out of the restroom and tried to go back to bed. He didn't notice the small grey blobs trying to escape the toilet.