's 2017 Horror Write-off:

Its Not A Zoo

Submitted by Jac R. B. (Jacobguy)

In the dead of night in a sleepy town a black pyramid hovers, waiting.
it hangs motionless in the sky, no noise, no movement, nothing.

at exactly 3:19 AM, a great flash, like a nuclear bomb, engulfs everything.

In the morning we follow a young man who has been rudely awakened from his sleep by the harsh rays of the sun, he stumbles out of bed groggily scratching an itch he barely thought of as he put on his clothes and made his way downstairs for breakfast.

He lived alone, of course, but that didn't stop him from living. Instead he made his way in life with microwave meals and leftover takeout, as many do in this day and age. nothing seemed off to him, not even paying mind to what's changed around him. he grabs the box of chow mien from the fridge, and even feeling too tired to warm it up, begins messily eating it as he watches TV.

Or he would've, if there was TV to watch.

Puzzled, for a moment he tries messing with the wires, seeing if the Box was hooked up correctly, maybe he'd get to see his favorite Cartoon or nature documentary, but alas, all channels seem stuck on the same Triangular symbol.

It was strange, he thought at first, but he soon drove the thought from his mind. His television provider has a penchant for changing the way things are without prior notice, and so he let it be.

Never mind that the symbol followed him even as he left on his mourning routine.

It was quiet this morning, he said to himself, as he walked along the sidewalk. A pleasantly warm day, with clear blue skies and the scattered clouds should have seen many people walking to and fro, enjoying the unusually nice weather. But instead he saw no one, no one at all outside.

he kept walking on his way, until he saw a bird sitting very close to him. It refused to move from its spot, and he thought to himself, "you know, I've never touched a bird before, I wonder what it must be like."

He moved slowly, and carefully towards it, glancing quickly around to make sure no one was watching him before he made his move.

It was a slow move, but he did it, he grabbed the bird.

His brain was alight with triumph for a brief moment, followed by Confusion and fear.

the bird did not move at all. though it was warm and soft like a living bird, it did not move, completely static, it retained its stance as it was a moment ago.

he could feel its warm flesh, but he could not feel its heartbeat.

in the split second he held it, felt it, and feared it, he let it go, and it shattered upon the ground.

the bird opened like a hollow flowerpot with fragments made of warm flesh and a jet black, smooth, empty inside.

He yelped and ran, as fast as he could from whatever that was, slowing down gradually as he went, trying to rationalize to himself what had just happened. He decided he must've been sick from the old takeout, or some kid forgot their science project outside. Reassured for the moment, but still scared, He quickly made his way home, But not before he became aware of one of his neighbors peaking worriedly out of their front door.

He ran quickly to them and called out, upon hearing him they jumped a little, but instantly relaxed once they saw him. they ushered him inside.

They spoke briefly, about how things were in general, the nice weather, the other neighbors, pleasantries. But it was his neighbor who brought up the wrong goings on.

He was a little taken back at first, the confirmation that what had just happened was indeed real and very unusual. but it only got worse.

There were No Animals Left. none of them were real, all exactly like the bird. He remained skeptical for a moment until his neighbor brought up a bag with a half shattered squirrel analog to the table.

Same as the bird, Warm, Fleshy, Hollow and black. Though it was broken it still looked and felt real and warm, but that was it.

He couldn't take it anymore and asked for it to be put away and the neighbor obliged. There's no sense in denying concrete evidence. but the neighbor assured him that was not the only odd thing. They showed him their back yard.

For a long time they had been planning to make a flower garden back there, the only obstruction was a small tree that was in the way, and today was the day that they were going to take care of it. They had gone outside with their shovel to dig it up, but with one strike, it had only fallen over.

It was fake. The Tree was a fake, wooden craft, and not only that one, as they braced themselves against another tree to gather their thoughts it too had tipped over, showing the seamless circle of lawn that made up its stand. as it fell over, the ground beneath it was revealed.

There was Nothing. Nothing at all. just an empty, black hole into nothing at all.

once the neighbor has finished recounting this story, the Boy asked to see the hole, to make sure this was indeed real, and indeed, it was.

the hole was there, just as said. Both of them puzzled over it for a long time until the Boy decided, slowly, to put his hand inside.

it was cold, not like air is cold, or water is cold, but like there was nothing there to be warm at all.

He yanked his hand back to his chest, it was the most afraid he had been in his life. both he and his neighbor said nothing for a long time, they could not look at the hole in their world.

neither of them were certain who originally brought up the idea, but eventually they had it. They were going to drop something in.

they grabbed a stone, just an average stone as far as they knew, and they dropped it in. They had expected it to just fall forever, but instead it floated, like Styrofoam atop of water.

this didn't make them feel any better and they ran back inside. they had no idea what to do, but they decided they needed to find any other human being they could to help figure out a course of action.

they set out to look, but no matter where they went, they found nothing but empty homes. everything was fake, some constructed more realistically than others.

on one side of the street the tree was crafted, identical to the real thing, but completely hollow within, but on the other, it was nothing but a painted, wooden pole.

their unease grew as the day grew long. no matter how much time passed, the sun still hung overhead, not moving.

their search grew frantic, even more so when they realized that no matter how much time had passed, no matter how much they ran or pushed themselves, they did not feel hunger, or exhaustion. It scared them, they thought they were dead. but they could still feel, they could still think and breath. but they did not hunger nor need rest.

they continued their search, and eventually, at the playground by the church, they saw someone at last.

they ran to them, the small child alone at the swing set, they ran as fast as their legs could carry them. but when they reached the child, they screamed in terror.

the Girl's face was blank, save for a pitch black triangle.

just like the birds and the squirrels and trees, she was warm, but still. They did not stay.

they ran, no where in particular, but they ran. they ran until they realized they were going nowhere.

as they ran forward they realized it was like they were simply on a track, retracing steps until they turned around to go back home.

they were afraid, they were not out of breath, for they couldn't be. they kept running, they didn't need to stop. they began to suspect that they would be just as empty as these replicas around them until the neighbor scraped their shin while tripping. there was blood and flesh, though it did not hurt it still bleed. this gave them small solace, but their fears still remained.

and so did they. They stayed there for god knows how long. They could not hurt, they could not hunger, they could not age, they could not die.

if they were injured, whether they did so by accident or by themselves they were fine by the next morning. whether or not they needed to sleep, they always blacked out at the same time. they lamented their existence in this new hell, unable to leave, never seeing their friends, family or true homes ever again, cursing whatever captors may hold them and for whatever reason.

but nothing came for them, and they could never leave.