's 2018 Horror Write-off:

Aut-Roillet Ite Ira

Submitted by Xionahri

I woke up. The smell of dust surrounded the place. I got up, scattering a cloud of dust in progress. Everything looked like it hadn‘t been touched in ages. How can this be after only one night? Sure this must still be a dream. That kind of dream that feels utterly wrong despite seeming completely harmless at first, but can go bad at any minute. Things were going down here, I just knew it.

I walked out of the bedroom. The rest of the flat looked just as broken down. What once was a home has turned into a dusty, ruined place. There was no use sticking around, but I was already doubting outside would be much better. Still, what else is there to do?

I approached the door to the outside. I touched the visibly broken handle ever so slightly, yet that was enough to send it clattering to the floor. Hopefully this startlingly loud sound hadn‘t alerted anyone nearby. If there are people still, that is. I carefully pulled at the side of the now handle-less door, and it opened despite its hinges making a protesting sound.

The outside world has changed a bit from when I last saw it. All the buildings were there as I knew, but they seemed long abandoned and have since become overgrown, claimed by the nearby forest. Cars were standing in their driveways, rusted and with flat tires. No people. No sounds but the wind rustling through the plant life.

Everything I had once known was gone. What could I do now? What could anyone do in this situation? Nothing. Might as well wander around, trying to find a hint of what has happened.

After some time of idly walking along the dusty old streets I once knew, a new sound could be heard. I sounded like metal clattering on the ground, but as rhythmically as footsteps. Whatever it was, it seemed to be running, and coming closer. I jumped over a nearby small, broken wall and hid being some shrub, watching the nearest intersection.

With sound sound closing it, something appeared around the next corner and came to a sudden halt. It was a strange being. Both biological and mechanic, both humanoid and avian. It looked around, its scythe-like metal arms twitching, almost as if it were scared of something. It turned to my direction. Bulging eyes stared at me past a beak that looked like a mere knife blade. It stopped twitching for a moment, its shoulder muscles relaxed and it cocked its head. But its peace didn‘t last long. It looked up, having sensed something across the street. After a few seconds of figuring out its situation, it ran once again, in the opposite direction of whatever was there.

Soon enough another sound reached to me from my hiding place. Music. It sounded like a parade. But for who? It‘s not like there were any people nearby. My wondering was interrupted by something appearing in the next street. People maybe? From afar, they looked somewhat like people, wearing red masks and thick white clothes. They had instruments with them, some were singing in an unfamiliar language and dancing, while others were lugging some large object around.

As they came closer, they seemed less and less human. More like strange demonic sheep, with fur-less red heads, shiny like cheap rubber masks. The object some of them were carrying was a large cage. It contained another one of these biomechanical bird-creatures, shaking in fear and covered in bleeding wounds and scraped metal. It was surrounded by sheep carrying spears, their wool stained with dried blood.

The parade was nearly past me, when one of the singers noticed my hiding place. With wild gesturing he yelled something at the other sheep, causing them to stop. Some came closer. I froze in place, there was no use trying to hide further. One of the sheep seemed to ask me a question. I tried to tell them I don‘t understand. They looked at me with confusion, and maybe even concern. At least as concerned as a demonic sheep with way too many sharp teeth could ever look. They talked some more, partially to me and partially to one another.

One eventually got a plastic box and gave it to me. The only thing I could do in my confusion was thank them, hoping they could understand the intend of my words at least somewhat. They nodded
and started going their way again without any more words. The world may have become scary and confusing, but all things considered, it could‘ve been worse.

Curiously, I opened up the box. It contained some smoked meat. At least food isn‘t an issue for the moment. It was only then I noticed how hungry I really was. I took a bite. Tasted like smoked ham. At least some things are nice and normal around here.

The rest of the day went without any notable further incident. I have entered one of the abandoned houses and eaten some canned food there. It‘s not like anyone would miss it. Maybe I can survive this. For how long, who knows. But all circumstances considered, this day went okay. Not getting shred to pieces by birds or gored by sheep has become my new standard of okay.

I looked for a place to sleep in this house. The sofa seemed slightly less dusty than the bed, so that‘s what I chose. Resting in a strange place is never easy, but eventually I managed to drift to sleep.

I woke up laying on a hard metal floor. I was in some sort of hallway, surrounded by metal walls. The only source of light were some pulsing artificial lights lining the wall. The thick air, heavy with heat, carried a mechanical droning sound, coming from something big. I tried to get up. My legs failed. In fact they were actually hurting a lot. I looked at them.

Both legs were amputated at the middle of the lower leg. The blood-covered stumps ended instead in digitigrade robotic legs. I tried to flex them. It worked, though the pain didn‘t make it easy. The ankles and toes moved without issue. Toes, that looked suspiciously like bird talons.

A metallic clattering sound came from a nearby hall.