's 2018 Horror Write-off:


Submitted by Robert Swanson

You’re coming back from a quick midday grocery run. Walking down the street, past the river of cars speeding by your side, you notice what seems like an albino pigeon, standing calmly on the edge of a stop-sign. Not a dove, mind you, but a pigeon with feathers like white roses and pinkish eyes. Your steps become slightly slower as your gazes lock, with the bird shifting its neck slowly as it observes you… before dashing away to the sky. Your eyes still focused on it, you follow its flight and look up, only to feel the sting of sunlight upon your eyes.

You don’t stop feeling that sting as your eyes remain locked on the sun. Your limbs feel locked as well, like your body is trapped in a puzzle of plastic filaments. The sky bears the same colour as the pigeon’s eyes, with the shadows of the clouds shifting in such a way to make them seem like pulsing veins. The sunlight keeps burning your eyes, but your eyelids refuse to budge. The feeling of crying or shouting or doing anything at all somehow does not occur to you as you stand there, the radiance of that pale brown orb burning ever-brighter and further reducing your field of vision, feeling your sight drawn ever more to the black chasm in the middle of the ball of stretching flames.

The air around you buzzes with slight, distant chirps; rivulets of pigments rolling along at the edges of your vision. Then, something like a column of air cleaves itself from behind you, surging towards the glowing sun. At first you only feel the sweat on your skin evaporate, still clinging to your flesh, feeling like small lakes of fire growing upon your skin. You focus enough to slowly direct your gaze slightly closer to your arm, noticing that the ends of your hairs sometimes light up for a moment, like the blinking of distant stars.

Further, you can feel the air within you; not really forcing itself, but squirming itself like a waterfall within your lungs. They fill up with air, but not like you’re breathing. It somehow reminds you of a child fumbling blindly to put his body through the holes in his pyjamas. Your torso almost cracks with air inside it, and the warmth of light surrounding you begins to make a nest of pain inside your chest. You can feel a strange liquid coagulating within you, scrounged off the insides of your lungs.

You exhale, and it feels like someone else is screaming with your lungs, leaving behind the taste of your morning cigarette.

When that feeling passes, you can see a filament of light stretching downwards towards your body, a ghostly mosaic closing in on you like a guillotine’s blade. A perfectly symmetrical network of fuzzy hexagons, rhombuses and other geometrical shapes, you could spend hours deciphering the patterns of shapes and colours almost sculpted into this flash of light. As the waterfall of light washes over you, there’s a feeling of phlegmatic limbs dancing upon every part of your body: hands, pincers, hooves, claws; all shambling and slithering and tapping upon your flesh in an unwholesome cacophony of tactile embraces.

A jolt of lightning cracks through your head, and the sky returns to its normal colouring as your lips move and your lungs blow out a bit of air. A noise rings in your ear, and it takes you a moment to realise that noise was eerily close to your voice. It should be, in theory, as it came out of your mouth.

“Too fresh”, you spoke, and you look at the people around you, some talking to their friends, others on the phone, and others coming back, just like you, from a quick evening grocery run.