's 2017 Horror Write-off:

The snail's leaf

Submitted by Gozuforce

A long black snail crawled to me solemnly, bearing on its back the rolled leaf that contained the words I was most affraid to read.

"The king, stated the snail, has taken his decision. You can submit to the sentence or you may try to escape it. Be assured, however, that any further attempt to ellude us, especially while inflicting harm, would only aggravate the condemnation."

The snail had a smugness in its voice that led me to believe it had a personnal grudge against me, and its satisfaction couldn't be more overt.

I reached for the leaf, trembling. I knew that I would not have been acquitted way back at the start of the trial, but seeing the sentence this close to my hand gave it a reality I was not ready to accept yet.

When my hand got near it, the snail had a movement, mimicking an effort to crush my finger. That was considered an extremely rude gesture in its kingdom.

I didn't really like it either, mind you.

Then the snail took the leaf on its mouth, and put it on my palm as violently as it could.

I read the words on the leaf

" Guilty Of All Charges.

The punishment will be of mud, carried out by the court of earthworms"

I let the paper fall on the ground. I cried a little, even if part of me found solace in that I was not to face the punishment of blood, carried out by the mosquito army.

That one had the reputation to last agonizing weeks. Compared to it, the few hours I would have to bear my punishment before my death sounded almost forgetable.

Once it was clear that I would not make an escape attempt, the snail went out of my cell without a word. I didn't say anything to the Ladybug priest, nor to the Scarab monk. I was not a religious person, and they don't really understand human religions all that much anyway.

I didn't move when the spiders came to bind my wrists together.

I only stood up when a swarm of hornets flew to me and said it was the time of my punishment.

Following them, I saw a few of the other inmates, waiting for their trial.

Back home, rumor said they had already captured millions of us to put in trial. And they were regurlarly capturing new prisonners.

When they revealed their grand enterprise against us, what caught everyone off guard the most was how prepared they clearly were. They had spent years compiling individual files for every human's crime to them.

Their file on me was pretty bad. I used to sell insecticide.