Bogleech.com's 2018 Horror Write-off:
Submitted by Martín N. Aguilar (email)
“For fuck’s sake, Marion”, slurred Jacobson, the stench of whiskey slipping through his teeth and into his nose; a pestilent remnant of the previous night. “The bloody sun’s still down, fuck off.”
With a raised eye-brow and a barely perceptible smirk, the silhouette at the doorframe answered; “You knew a shipment was coming this morning, J. Shouldn’t’ve gone drinking.”
His brain palpitated like a toad with a breathing problem. Marion was right, he knew of the shipment… but that was precisely the reason he got pissed the night before. A hangover provided a massive, if tortuous, distraction from the shit he’d have to face. It wouldn’t make it any less awful, but at least he wouldn’t be able to focus on it too much, and that was good enough.
“Why do you always have to be such a responsible fuck? Do you get off on punctuality or something? Be a bit punk for once in your life and wake up half an hour later, please.” He took his time to remove himself from the bed and search for his pants. He wouldn’t bother showering. It wasn’t worth it.
“Come on, it’s just that I love your early morning banter. Bet ladies love waking up next to you, all silver-tongued and smelling like roses.”
Marion was a tidy bastard. Always sharply dressed, soft-spoken, and even-tempered. He’s impeccable, with just as much shine on his big, bald head as on his shoes. The kind of person that triggers a bloke’s insecurities just by standing near them. He’s a giant fucking prat, but he’s also a very professional prat, so the boss loves him.
It was a half-hour drive to the workplace, with little more than awkward silences between Marion’s half-assed attempts at small talk. There was no need for the façade of friendliness, obvious as it was that Jacobson couldn’t stand him, so it was probably just another way for Mr. Perfect to shit on him without giving him an excuse to force-feed him his sunglasses.
With a yawn and a burp, Jacobson stepped out of the car, Marion following closely behind like a shadow. As always, the greeting committee was there to meet them; a bunch of gun-toting meatheads, and the individual he came to know as “the Suit”. Formally, he was to be addressed as Mr. Crawford, but you didn’t call him that unless you were face to face with him. Forcing yourself to use a regular name for the man left a strange and unpleasant taste in your mouth, for some reason.
Nobody knew who the Suit was or where he came from, but he was impossible to miss; wide-brimmed hat, black, round shades, and all dressed in white. He stood out like a sore thumb among the mix of generic paramilitary half-wits and humble menial workers unlucky enough to end up at the Warehouse, which was probably by design, what with being the boss’s right hand man and all. He was also quite clearly fond of the attention he got, always grinning with the kind of smile that doesn’t showcase happiness so much as it bares teeth.
And it was that very smile that Jacobson hated seeing every time he came to the docks. He didn’t hate it in his usual, old grump kind of way, however. It was a hatred born of distrust, and more than a hint of fear, even if he would never admit it out loud. The Suit was a scary man, although he never saw him do anything to warrant that kind of reaction. It was the same kind of feeling that you got when looking into the eyes of a predator like a shark or a crocodile; there was no malice in that face, no… but there was certainly no mercy, either.
“Good morning, gentlemen. On time, as always. Very good. I appreciate punctuality.”
He spoke funny. It’s not that he had any sort of noteworthy accent or verbal tick, but he seemed profoundly pleased with himself every time he opened his mouth. Almost bubbling with giddy, child-like excitement under a thin veneer of formality. It was creepy as fuck.
“Morning, Mr. Crawford, and thanks, though it certainly took a bit of pressure on my part. You can probably smell the reason why”, said Marion, pointing at the hungover mess of a man beside him.
The Suit laughed, and his laughter was uncomfortably loud and stilted. It almost sounded rehearsed.
“Good one, that is a good one, my friend. But we must not allow ourselves any further distractions. The shipment has arrived, and you have a busy morning ahead.”
“Of course, sir. Let’s begin.”
The armed dullards check everyone from head to toe and take anything that isn’t needed for the task at hand; phones, wallets, lighters… it all goes into a little box. You get it all back later, and while the process is annoying and slightly humiliating, it pays to be safe. If the wrong kind of cargo gets its hand on a pocket knife or a matchstick… you never know what could happen.
Once properly molested by security, you’re allowed inside, and man, the noises you hear once you finally step into the building are enough to make you drop a load in your pants. Growling, screeching, droning, screaming, whispering… you got every flavour of unsettling sound you can imagine, plus a couple of new ones. Some get clearer the more you venture yourself into the halls, while others become distant and muffled, even if it sounded like Satan himself got his bollocks stepped on right beside you a second ago. Sometimes you get handed a pair of earmuffs before entering, depending on what kind of cargo got most recently shipped, but this wasn’t one of those days. Which was all fine and dandy, because if Jacobson’s headache got too bad, he might even be able to get away with excusing himself for the day. He’d get chewed out for it, but fuck it, he could take it.
There are many varieties of cell at the Warehouse, depending on what you’re trying to keep there and for how long. You got Lecter-style bulletproof glass, thick metal bars, electrified fences, the works, scattered seemingly at random throughout the installations. Only an idiot would honestly think the arrangement of the place is arbitrary though; the boss knows exactly what he does. If you keep similar cargo next to each other, they might try to communicate, and that’s not good. Communication implies cooperation, and cooperation leads to outbreaks, for which there’s a zero tolerance policy in this God-forsaken place. And there are very understandable reasons for that policy.
After a short walk, the odd couple found itself outside the cell of one of the newest arrivals, with the Suit sticking to them like the pox; he’s there to monitor, in case anything goes wrong. Jacobson wondered what an unarmed man in a loud white suit would do in case the thing before them broke out, but if the boss actually trusted him to stop it, then it was just yet another reason to put him on the list of people who aren’t to be fucked with.
“Nordic werewolf, for sure. Runt of the litter, and quite possibly the omega of the whole pack” declared Jacobson matter-of-factly, as he stared at the hulking monster behind thick, rusty iron bars.
Marion began typing one-handed on his tablet, the one item the guards didn’t confiscate. Tidy, timely, polite, and skilled with tech. Bastard.
“You sure? I mean, it’s pretty small, yeah, but it looks rather formidable. It’s got a lot of battle scars on its back, and they don’t last long if they can’t fight back.”
“Yeah, but look at its shoulders, it’s got a ton of teeth marks, which means he’s been forced to surrender by bigger pack-mates multiple times. We’re looking at a big. Fucking. Pussy.”
The creature stood attentively, not showing any aggression, but it didn’t need to make a show to intimidate. It was huge and muscular, with shaggy black hair hanging from its body, though it only partially covered its many scars. It walked on its knuckles, like a gorilla, which was easy with hands big enough to completely envelop a human head in their grip, not to mention the massive fucking claw at the end of each finger. Despite moving on all fours, the thing was as tall as a man at the shoulder, and thick enough that it wouldn’t fit through a normal-sized door.
The worst part was the face, though. It was just… bone. A giant fucking dog’s head, without any skin or muscle or anything. Just empty eye-sockets full of blackness, nostrils, and lots and lots of teeth; definitely more than a regular canine’s skull is supposed to have. You see, regular wolves and dogs are very expressive creatures, and it’s easy to read what they’re feeling going off the way they look at you, the position of their ears, and so on. You can’t do that with this thing, because it’s got no way to actually express anything; it’s all bared teeth and the most paradoxically intense stare an eyeless creature can muster, 24/7.
“How did they capture this little guy? Can’t imagine it was very easy”, said Marion to the Suit. Bastard or not, he knew Jacobson didn’t like addressing the man in white if he could help it, and he was secretly thankful that M took care of those interactions.
“The men were actually on an extermination assignment. They had to cull the population of a certain forest region after the local pack became… uppity, due to human encroachment. The alpha in particular gave them a lot of trouble. They had to use a Mark III. Talbot round to put it down.”
A long, impressed whistle left Marion’s lips. “Damn, that’s some firepower right there.”
“Indeed, though it was only strictly necessary. The pack leader was three times bigger than this specimen and ludicrously aggressive. We lost half the squadron and three armoured vehicles before he was stopped.”
It was strange, how different the Suit sounded when talking about these matters. Eloquent and professional, with barely any trace of that unsettling glee he generally failed so hard at hiding. If you only heard him talk about this stuff, you might even think he was a relatively normal guy. For a given value of normal, that is, considering the workplace and all.
Throughout the whole inspection, the creature barely moved. It limited itself to facing the tasty, fragile morsels only a few feet away. Sometimes, it would lightly tug at the fetters held fast to its forearms, not making any genuine attempts to free itself from the bonds. A fresh cow leg lay in front of it, untouched, dark blood flowing from the stump and pooling on the cell’s floor.
“It’s not eating. That’s not good. Possible sign of trauma or illness”, noted Jacobson.
“Nah, it’ll eat once it gets hungry enough. You know how picky werewolves are.”
J and M proceeded to the next subject. They didn’t notice the werewolf flinching when the Suit smiled at it.
The next cell didn’t have bars; it was clear, sturdy glass, giving a view to a blank, impeccable room, with several horseshoes hung on every wall. Sitting cross-legged right in the middle lay a grotesque humanoid, playing with a rag doll.
“Jesus fuck… Tooth fairy. Classic tooth fairy.” The words trembled in Jacobson’s mouth. He hadn’t seen one in a long time, and he had hoped to high heaven to never do so again. As usual, his prayers went unanswered.
“You sure? I mean, it could be a regular pixie, man…”
“They’re unmistakable. I would know.” His tongue passed over the empty spaces at the back of his gums, where his wisdom teeth used to be. Their removal had been anything but surgical.
And then the creature spoke.
“Deal? Gold. Got gold. Deal? Yes, yes.”
Its voice was, for a lack of a better word, otherworldly. Gentle, and sweet, and inviting. The sonic equivalent of slowly dipping your fingers in warm, thick chocolate… only to see them dissolved to the bone once you pulled them out. As it spoke, it extended a hand towards its audience, revealing a handful of pristine gold coins. They weren’t real.
“Go fuck yourself, you piece of shit”, growled J, while bashing the protective glass. The creature didn’t so much as flinch. “Where the fuck did we even get this thing?”, were the first words he directed at the Suit that day. Between the hangover and the now rising rage eating at him, he didn’t mind actually confronting the man in white for the time being.
“Emergency services received a call. A young child, eight years old, if I remember correctly. At first they thought it was nothing, just a little boy calling about a ‘monster’ being in the house. Said the creature had already “taken” mom and dad. However, after the call was interrupted by, and I quote, “extremely alarming noises”, our insider pulled some strings and derived the situation to us.”
“Good deal. You give milkies, I give gold. Shiny, shiny. Like milkies. Good deal.”
“What about the family? Did you find them?” J’s question was little more than a formality. He knew exactly what happened to them.
“We did not, and there were only very little traces of blood at the scene. Certainly not enough to imply that anyone died from blood loss or escaped while wounded. We have a very good idea of what happened to them, though.”
As if on cue, the creature fully opened its mouth, revealing bright red, veiny, and nauseously swollen gums. It was like a pumpkin made of wet meat, with dozens, possibly hundreds of perfect, white teeth scattered all over the surface. Barely noticeable drops of blood dripped from the spot where some of the teeth were rooted, as if they had been forcefully stuck into the flesh.
Marion almost dropped his tablet at the sight, as cold sweat suddenly made itself present in his forehead. Jacobson simply puked his guts out right then and there.
“We checked. The most recent additions to the creature’s... let’s call it “collection” match the dental records of the missing family. The rest match those of at least eleven other people, all reported missing throughout the last six months.”
“Smile, happy smile. Happy. You bring shiny milkies, I give shiny gold. Happy, happy.”
“Throw the fucking thing into a wood-chipper, legs first” managed to muster Jacobson after the heaving and gagging stopped. “Then set the machine on fire once you’re done.”
“Come on, J, this is a great opportunity to study one of these things up close. Even you barely knowanything about them. When was the last time you saw a fey this close and personal?”
Jacobson felt like burying his fist in his partner’s face, but this one time, he knew it would be totally undeserved. He simply didn’t know; you could see it in his face.
“You know we do not kill already secured cargo, Mr. Jacobson. That is not the way of the Warehouse.”
“Well, fuck you and the Warehouse, this thing is dangerous. I don’t want it here.”
“That is not your call to make, Mr. Jacobson. Maybe you would like to take this up with our employer? We could go see him right now and settle this, if you so wish.”
Jacobson’s sequence of reactions at the proposal was quite straightforward. Gulp, take a step back. Reconsider, calm down. Get back home and drown the memories in alcohol as soon as you get there.
“What else have we got?”, he resigned himself to ask.
“Oh, only one more new arrival, but you are going to love this. Absolutely love it.” There it was again, the Suit’s regular tone. This was gonna be bad. “We must go to the pit. There you will see.”
J and M looked at each other, the phrase “no fucking way” written all over their faces. The pit was the biggest containment area in the Warehouse, so they had to bring something fittingly massive to justify putting it there.
They hadn’t been there in a while, but it looked the same as always. Big concrete hole in the ground, ten meters deep, with floors and walls nearly caked in old, dried blood from several different sources. Last time they put something there, it happened to be this big, nightmarish skeleton thing, brought all the way from Japan. If you paid attention, you could see the claw marks it left on the walls in its attempts to climb out. The most recent shipment wasn’t from Japan though. A werewolf and a fairy… that’s Europe, for sure. And in all of old, ragged Europe, there is only a single kind of beast big and dangerous enough that it’d earn that kind of confinement.
“Gentlemen”, declared the Suit, with an appropriate dramatic pause, as if to allow time for an imaginary drum roll. “Here be… a dragon.”
Most people generally have a fairly solid idea of what a dragon is supposed to look like, at least going off pop culture; large and reptilian, with an elongated body, dexterous, cat-like limbs, powerful wings… you know the drill. If you want a precise depiction of one though, look towards classic art from centuries ago, where they show them exactly as they are; skulking, pestilent, ghastly beasts of the Dark Ages. They sort of look like reptiles, yes, but that’s basically all they have in common with sane, regular animals. The thing laying at the bottom of the pit looked far from formidable, however. In fact, it was downright pitiful.
“Jesus, Marion… it’s a Georgian whip-tongue. This is a fucking descendant of the thing that ate Capadoccia back in the 12th century.”
“Yeah, man. But it looks… unwell. Very, very unwell.”
It was a behemoth of a creature, easily as big as a bus and likely thrice as heavy. It also moved very little; understandable, considering the clear signs of obesity it displayed. If the need to move arose, it could drag itself on four stumpy legs, each one lacking a claw or two. Several of the scales on its back had peeled off, likely as a result of a skin disorder, and its weak, useless wings were obviously atrophied.
“This is not okay… we can’t keep this thing here, Crawford. It’s ill, and probably inbred.”
“Oh, don’t you worry about that, Jacobson. It’s not relevant to the task at hand.”
The Suit gestured towards one of the armed guards overlooking the den of the creature, who spoke into a walkie-talkie. Almost immediately, a sturdy, ancient metal door creaked open, and a figure was shoved inside the dragon’s dwellings. A young girl, probably no older than seventeen, blindfolded and with her arms tied behind her back.
“Where am I? Who are you people? What the fuck am I doing here? Somebody, anyone, please say something!” Her voice was exhausted; it had the kind of soreness you get after spending hours crying. “Where are my parents? Did you take them too?”
Jacobson’s lingering hangover was instantly cured, only to be replaced by the horror of a slowly dawning realization. “What the fuck do you think you’re doing, Crawford?”
“I’m only doing as our employer ordered, Jacobson. What he says, goes.”
The dragon began sniffing the air. Their eyes are highly developed, but not adapted to well-lit environments, so during the day they mostly hunt by smell.
“Mr. Crawford, please, this is unnecessary. We can order dozens of heads of fresh, living livestock and have them delivered by tomorrow. It wouldn’t be an issue, I’m sure.” Marion was trying, and failing, to hide his anger. His professional façade gave way to the kind of glare you reserve for someone you’d love to shoot between the eyes on the spot.
“Yes, we could do that, but the creature wouldn’t touch them. Now, I’m not nearly as knowledgeable about these beings as you two, gentlemen, but you do pick up a thing or two working on this gig for as long as I have, and this is one of them.” His smile continued to spread across his face, teeth bared like yet another beast. “You know what I mean, don’t you, Jacobson?”
Jacobson’s worst suspicions were suddenly confirmed.
“The dragon is pregnant. And pregnant dragons only eat virgins.”
The girl stumbled and fell on her face, crying out in pain. “Someone please come help me… please… I just wanna see my parents… what the fuck… please…”
“Pay attention, gentlemen. You don’t get the chance to see something like this often.”
“Is there an animal here with me? What the fuck, what are you people trying to do? Somebody fucking talk to me!” Fear was starting to turn into anger. Too bad it wouldn’t help her much.
The monster slowly opened its titanic jaws. You could probably fit a car in there, and they were filled with hundreds of tiny, sharp fangs that retracted into the gums. A bizarre gurgling noise echoed against the walls of the pit, and a stream of flaming liquid shot out of the monster’s throat with the pressure of a firehose. The girl didn’t live long enough to scream.
As the smoke and the smell of burnt flesh rose in the air, Jacobson lost it. He punched the Suit hard enough to draw blood, and grabbed him by his jacket, dragging the man towards the edge of the pit, as every armed guard in the vicinity pointed his gun at him.
“You fucking bastard cunt. You godless piece of shit. You knew the boss would have you do this if you brought this thing here, and you still went through with it! You still fucking did it!”
The flames blazed and popped and crackled. Without closing its mouth, the dragon’s tongue whipped out in a blur towards the body. Grab. Retract. Crunch. Crunch.
The Suit was smiling so hard that his face almost threatened to snap in half from the strain. He gestured toward the guards to lower their weapons. Marion was simply in too much of a shock to do anything, paralyzed by the sight and the smell. All sense of professionalism had gone out the window.
“I will throw you into that fucking hole myself, right now. How would you like that, you piece of shit?”
“If you actually wanted to do that, Jacobson, you wouldn’t be talking about it. I would already be down there, facing the specimen. Now, please, get your hands off me. This is embarrassing.”
After a moment’s hesitation, he let go of the man in white. He turned around to look at Marion, his face suddenly aged with disgust and guilt. J put a hand on his shoulder and nodded, eyes filled with a sad sense of understanding.
The dragon gulped, and as he did, a deep rumble made the whole area tremble; an ancient, terrible sound, the kind that made mountains shake and villagers cry in fear. The beast, with great effort, raised its colossal tail… and out from behind it oozed a perfectly round, gleaming white egg. It was soft and gooey, and big as a beach ball. It gave off faint traces of vapour.
The Suit returned to the cold, clinical tone he reserved for talking about strictly work-related matters. “We estimate the creature to be carrying anywhere between six and ten of those, and as you know, its dietary requirements will remain quite specific until it can finally lay all of them. Some of our benefactors pay quite generously for the acquisition of assets like these, so we cannot simply dismiss such an opportunity. Jacobson, you will oversee this process, to make sure it’s carried out properly.”
“You’re fucking kiddin me. You and everyone involved in this can drop dead for all I care.”
“Should I inform our employer of your formal resignation?”
A shiver crawled down J’s spine.
“No. I’ll take care of it.”
“Good. Marion, I trust you will assist him on this process in your usual manner?”
“…yes, sir. I will.”
“Excellent. And Jacobson?”
“If we ever have an incident like this again, no one will know what happened to you. There won’t even be a body left for the clean-up crew to handle.”
“Perfect. You start tomorrow. You are dismissed for the day.”
The drive back to Jacobson’s apartment was dead silent. Not because he was deliberately ignoring Marion, as usual, but because there wasn’t really anything to talk about. Was it really worth repeating, everything they saw? Is this not just another day at the job? That’s why alcohol exists, thought Jacobson to himself. So you can just drown the whole fucking thing and numb your continued existence for at least one more day.
J stepped out of M’s car. He lingered for a moment, a thousand thoughts crossing through his mind at light speed.
“Hey, man. You okay?”, uttered the tidiest, most professional bastard in the world, now a man shook to his very core.
“No, I’m really fucking not.”
“I get you.”
“You realize we’re gonna have to kill the cunt, right?”
“Thought you’d never ask. Count me in.”