's 2018 Horror Write-off:


Submitted by Gareth Barsby

‘Another victory for Team Universe!’

The gigantic green lizard that minutes earlier had been terrorising the citizens of Planet Fargleblarg, now lay dead in a plain, purple blood dripping from its carcass. Atop its back stood its murderers: a human man with a fleece jacket, jeans and a “I Went to Outer Space And All I Got Was This T-Shirt”, a blue-skinned, female three-eyed monster, with two tentacles for arms, four tentacles for legs and a face not unlike that of the lizard she vanquished, a bipedal badger carrying a blunderbuss and wearing a bowler hat and a tweed suit that made him look like he escaped from The Wind in the Willows, and a living rosebush, with roses for eyes and vines for appendages.

‘Great work, team,’ said the female monster, spinning a ray gun before putting it back in its holster, ‘even Steve convinced me he was semi-competent for a minute!’

‘Very funny, Larat,’ replied Spaceman Steve with a smirk before turning to the badger, ‘Nice shooting, Billy!’

‘That’s William!’ barked the badger before stuffing the blunderbuss in his jacket pocket and then pulling out a cup of tea from the same pocket, ‘And I must say, what I did was certainly more than “nice”. I’ve forgotten more about battling evil than you’ll ever know.’

‘Hey, I was trying to complement you!’

‘Well, that’s another thing you fail at, isn’t it?’  replied William before taking another sip of his tea. All Rosebuddy the bush did in response was laugh, to which Spaceman Steve said, ‘Don’t you start!’

‘Guys, guys, guys,’ sighed Larat, waving her tentacle-arms, ‘what matters is we saved Fargleblarg…’

‘Oh no.’ Spaceman Steve’s eyes widened.

‘What is it?’ All three of his teammates looked at him with concern.

‘I had a really good joke, but I instantly forgot it.’

All three of them sighed.

‘Yes,’ said William, ‘a battle with a vicious beast and that’s what causes you to…’ All of a sudden, William dropped his tea and clutched his stomach tightly, looking like he was going to vomit.

‘William!’ cried Larat, putting a tentacle on his shoulder.

‘Oh, very funny, Billy,’ said Spaceman Steve, crossing his arms and rolling his eyes, ‘I bet this is how you are when you run out of crump…’

William’s snout elongated, teeth like daggers sprouting from his gums. Claws like scythes sprung from his fingers. His muscles inflated, tearing his tweed suit to shreds and causing his blunderbuss along with a teapot and a milk jug to spill from his pocket.

‘Holy mother of Glop…’ With shaking tentacles, Larat took her ray gun out of its holster and held it in William’s direction. William only snarled at her, before looking in Rosebuddy’s direction.

‘Larat!’ cried Spaceman Steve, pulling out his own gun, ‘What’s happening?’

Rosebuddy underwent his own transformation. The roses that made up his eyes, in milliseconds, transformed into actual human eyeballs, bleeding from the thorns jammed into them. The vines that were his arms and legs reformed into what more resembled arms and legs, with claws just like William’s. Rosebuddy and William roared in unison and ran towards the nearest city.

‘Steve!’ cried Larat, turning towards her companion, ‘We’ve got to stop them and find a way to…’ She screamed in agony, throwing her gun to the ground as she held her tentacle-arms to her head. Steve felt his stomach sink for he thought Larat would instantly undergo a monstrous transformation herself, but when spikes emerged from her tentacles, they slowly crawled back into her flesh. ‘Must…no…Steve,’ she said through clenched teeth, ‘Go after William and Rosebuddy…I’ll…’

‘Don’t try to fight it,’ came a deep, echoing voice behind the two.

Spaceman Steve turned around to see another figure standing on the corpse of the giant lizard. A figure decked in armour decorated with skulls and spikes, with a horned helmet that concealed all of its face except two glowing red eyes.

All Steve could do at that moment was chortle. ‘Seriously?’

‘Do not mock me!’ bellowed the armoured being, shaking his fist, ‘I am Darkedge!’

The name only made Steve laugh harder.

‘You laugh now,’ continued Darkedge, ‘but soon you will laugh no more. When your little friend’s…’ He gestured towards Larat. ‘…transformation is complete and all your companions are as grim and miserable as I am, you will realise the truth!’

‘And that is?’

‘Superheroes should be dark! They should be serious! All of you have suffered pain, all of you have faced monsters and villains and world-ending disasters, and yet you laugh, you make jokes, you trade…’ Darkedge shuddered. ‘…quips!

‘That’s not how we should be! We should be moody and serious, not include nonsense like talking badgers and rosebushes! So why is it that your comic is beloved…’


'...while mine isn't?' From a bag on his belt, Darkedge pulled out a comic book, one featuring himself on the cover, wielding two rifles, standing atop a pile of human skulls. ‘This is what comic books should be like. Yet when it was released, it was shunned. So, I thought, what if every comic book was like mine?’ He held up his fist, which glowed with red energy.

Larat screamed in agony as a spike sprung from her arm. Steve ran to her, putting a hand on her shoulder, with Darkedge only laughing.

‘How sweet,’ he cackled, ‘but when she becomes how she should be, you will see my way is the right way, you’ll become like me without me even having to lift a finger.’


‘Weren’t you paying attention?’ Darkedge stomped his foot on the lizard’s flesh.

‘Why didn’t people like your comic book?’

‘What is that supposed to mean?’ Darkedge gave Spaceman Steve a quizzical expression.

‘Don't tell me you don't read your reviews!’

Darkedge paused, rubbing his chin. From another bag on his belt, he pulled out a smartphone, tapping and swiping as Steve held Larat tightly, attempting to help her control her transformation.

Suddenly, the spikes on her tentacles were instantly sucked into her flesh, and she gasped violently before she and Steve embraced each other with a hug. After sliding off the lizard’s corpse, they saw two familiar figures approach: Rosebuddy and William, both of them looking as they did before, even if William was naked and clearly embarrassed to be so. After Steve covered William up with his jacket and told Rosebuddy to fetch a spare outfit, he turned to Darkedge.

‘People said even though my comic was bad,’ explained Darkedge, ‘it was worth reading because of how much they laughed at it. I make people laugh, you make people laugh, I suppose we have something in common after all. Also….also…’


‘Another common complaint,’ sighed Darkedge, looking at his feet, ‘was that they complained my comic was too dark, when, as they said, “the real world is bad enough already”.’