's 2018 Horror Write-off:


Submitted by Genny Doe

In all my life, I never thought I’d take this job.

I hated kids, I hated feeling suffocated, I had a mild phobia of mascot costumes, and I hated life in general. Yet there I was, getting paid to stand around for five hours in a Spongebob Squarepants suit taking pictures with ecstatic kids. It was a three day event over the weekend, and it was also July. Rent had gone up, and I liked not being homeless slightly more than I hated heat stroke. Sitting in that interview room, smiling and nodding politely, felt a little bit like I was selling my soul while a monstrous effigy of Tom Kenny prodded me with a spear, laughing the whole time.

There were two other people working with me, a girl who wore the Patrick costume, Serena, and a guy who wore Squidward, Dennis. I hadn’t met either of them prior to showing up the first day, and I wasn’t particularly looking forward to it. There was a reason I carried one of those credit-card sized folding knives in my wallet at all times. People hadn’t exactly been trustworthy in my experience. I had a coworker try and mug me, I felt my paranoia was justified like that.

When I got to the back room, I saw my new coworkers. A fair skinned, black haired girl who was trying very hard to scrub a stain off her horrible, fuzzy pink suit, and a taller, pierced and tattooed man who was on his phone. The guy, who I presumed was Dennis, was mumbling something about no service when he looked up. He perked up a little now that it wasn’t just him and the other girl.

“Hey, Serena, she’s here. Jacklyn, right?” He asked.

Serena looked up. No light came to her eyes when she saw me. She looked like she had looked the devil in the eyes, and the devil flinched.

“Yeah, that’s me.” I said, ignoring the yellow pile in the back of the room, my new prison cell.

“Can I call you Jackie?” He was smiling.

“No.” I smiled back.

Serena laughed, which startled me slightly. I walked past her, to the empty costumes in the back. They were all various, unmanned characters from Spongebob, of course. They had Sandy, Mr. Krabs, the cute rabbit, Plankton…


The what?

I did a double take. In the middle of the lineup, there was a cutesy, pink and white rabbit costume. It had a starry bow on it’s left ear, glassy, big eyes, and a tiny x indicating a nose and mouth. It wore a matching starry dress. I gawked at it for a moment. Had they sent the wrong costume? Was I that behind on the cartoon?

“So, uh, which one’s this?” I called back to Serena and Dennis, motioning towards the rabbit.

They looked over, and each made their own brand of confused expression. Serena walked over, quirking an eyebrow.

“That… definitely was not there yesterday.” Serena said, reaching down and feeling the soft fur of the suit.

Suddenly and sharply, she pulled back her hand and blinked slowly.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

She opened her mouth to speak, then closed it. Then, she shook her head.

“Nothing. Probably just a static shock.” She sighed, walking back over to her own costume, “Anyways, get dressed. We’re on soon.”

I did as she suggested, and soon my partners in cartoonish crime headed out of the back. I turned to leave the graceful respite of the back room, and began my march into hell. Or, I would have, if I hadn’t heard it. The rustling.

I couldn’t see sh*t in this costume, but I turned to the noise anyways. I was the last one in there, what was that? Rats? Would they even tolerate the idea of rats back there?

There was no time to go and investigate. I had to go pose with some kindergarteners. As I shambled out to the crowd, I almost thought I heard the rustling get louder.

Like whatever was moving had been angered in some way.

The first thing I did when I got that spongy hellsuit off of me was dunk my face into the drinking fountain. It was so hot out there I blacked out at least twice. The beautiful, cold embrace of the germ-filled public fountain felt like the ultimate award. It felt like my whole life had led up to this moment; drenched in sweat and face first in a spray of water.

The holy embrace of the fountain didn’t last long, because I heard Dennis call from the back room.

I shambled back to see him holding the rabbit mascot head. He lightened up seeing me, once again.

“You seen Serena? She came back for a drink and never came back.” Dennis examined the bunny like it was an undiscovered species from Mariana’s Trench.

“She probably went home. I would, too, if I didn’t need the damn money.” I answered, walking over to look at the costume as well, “You know what that is?”

“Nope. It’s probably not one of ours. Misdelivery?” He suggested.

“Yeah, I assumed that much.” After looking at it for a moment, I walked past to the lockers to fetch my things and get home.

“Oh, you going straight home?” He sounded a little surprised.

“Yeah. What, are you not?”

“I wanted-Well, I was hoping you’d stay a moment.”

I looked at him, and he looked scared for a hot second.

“I mean, just to chat, you know?” He jumped to his own defense, “Y’know, like, what do you do for a living-Wait. No, you do this. Nevermind. Uh… What do you like to do?” Oh god.

He was trying to make small talk.

Code red, evacuate the premises immediately.

“I sit at home and I browse the internet for hours at a time.” I was trying to get across that I wasn’t social, but it didn’t faze him.

“Hey, me too! You got a Twitter, Jackie?” He was smiling pretty big.

“It’s Jacklyn, and, uh, yeah.” Did I have a choice in whether or not I gave him my username?

We did end up exchanging handles, and then exchanging pleasantries as we went home and I silently thanked god that I wasn’t having a real conversation anymore. I didn’t hate Dennis or anything, he was nice, a little cute, I guess, but I’d always found solace in the ease of chatting with people online rather than using my mouth to make sounds.

When I got home, I basically flopped onto my bed and wait straight to sleep. When I woke up and checked my phone, it was 3 AM. Groaning, I flipped on my other side and opened Twitter. May as well check out his account, I figured.

He seemed to be pretty active, posting plenty of selfies, tweeting about some cartoons I didn’t recognize, and posting pictures of puppies. He posted a lot about being single. A lot. I began to scroll to see what he had said today.

One tweet caught my eye.

He had taken a picture of the rabbit. It was covered in filters, emojis, and other stickers. It was simply captioned; “who is she”. It was a stupid, outdated joke; and I still found myself giggling at it.

I hadn’t thought about the rabbit since I had gotten home. It finally occurred to me I could just google a physical description of it and find out what it was. I switched out of the Twitter app to check.

‘Pink white rabbit mascot’.


‘Pink white rabbit star bow dress mascot’.

Still nothing.

Maybe it’s a new mascot that hadn’t debuted yet. Maybe it was a new cartoon. Maybe I didn’t really care.

I tabbed back into Twitter to see a new DM. It was from Dennis.


JACKLYN: WUU2??? What?

DENNIS: What U Up To.


JACKLYN: Im stealing nuclear launch codes to nuke france. Im on twitter, dumbass lmao

DENNIS: LOL Yeah I guess I set myself up for that one. Did u see my pic of the bunny?

JACKLYN: Ya I did. Ur ~hilarious~. Did u need something?

DENNIS: Just wanted to check w/ u. Its like 3 I didn’t expect u to reply

JACKLYN: I wake up in the middle of the night sometimes

JACKLYN: Passed out right after work

DENNIS: Lol same

DENNIS: I can’t find that bunny online anywhere

JACKLYN: Saaaaame

JACKLYN: That thing freaks me out a little fr


JACKLYN: I’ve always been a lil afraid of mascots

DENNIS: But not the spongebob ones?

JACKLYN: Nah i’m too familiar with spongebob to be remotely freaked out

JACKLYN: If it’s like new to me it’s a little scary

JACKLYN: Mascots look like they wanna eat my guts or smth


DENNIS: Hey i’m really tired i GTG

DENNIS: C u tomorrow Jackie?

JACKLYN: *Jacklyn

JACKLYN: And yeah lol

The next morning was a journey. I was exhausted, grumpy, and running entirely on cheap convenience store coffee. The absolute shining cherry on the sundae was that I was the first one to get there, so I had to sit alone in the back room.

Well, me and the costumes.

Most notably, the rabbit.

For reasons I can’t begin to comprehend, I walked over and picked up the mask. Maybe I was thinking some kind of exposure therapy would help my aversion to this thing. The foam head felt warm in my hands, and the fuzzy flocking caressed my fingers gently.

It wasn’t long lived, because I was called out to perform way earlier than usual.

That day was even worse than the first day. I had been vomited on at least three times, and I was close to hurling myself from heat stroke. The only thing that could’ve made it worse was if that rabbit was screwing around again.

When I escaped to the back, I saw the rabbit again.

The costume was sitting upright on a pile of boxes. Almost as if someone was inside it. It was sitting too… naturally.

It wasn’t where I left it that morning.

An involuntary shudder ran down me. Maybe Dennis got back here before me and he was playing some sort of joke. Maybe the janitor came in here for once. Maybe I was just going f*cking insane.

When the door creaked behind me, I practically jumped out of my skin in surprise.

“Woah, sorry, didn’t mean to scare you!” It was Dennis, holding a water bottle. “You’re back here late.”

“You’re late too. Did you get sooooo bored of waiting for me you just went to Starbucks?” I teased.

“Waiting? I just undressed 5 minutes ago. I just stepped out to the vending machine.” Dennis tilted his head in confusion.

“...Jackie, did you move the rabbit?” He looked over my shoulder at the costume, now slumped over again, like it should have been in the first place.

The realization the thing wasn’t moved by Dennis shook me. I shakily shook my head no, and I watched him walk over to it. A feeble whimper of ‘It’s Jacklyn’ escaped my throat as I watched. He ran his fingers gently over the fur of the costume.

“Wait, Dennis-” My voice caught in my throat.

He picked up the head slowly.

“Jackie, are you feeling alright?” I heard him ask softly.

“It’s Jacklyn and-No-I mean, yeah-wait, no-I don’t know! Ugh!” I grasped my hair in exasperation, “Shouldn’t you know already?”

“Oh yeah, I saw. They have gotta powerwash your costume.” Dennis groaned, “But seriously, did you move the costume?”

“No, I thought you did.” I apprehensively approached the costume as well.

“Well, that doesn’t help.” He put his hands on his hips, thinking for a moment.

He looked at me; his gaze going up and down my body, before moving his sight to the costume. I saw a smile curl on his face.

“..I think I can make you feel better!” Dennis chirped suddenly, picking up the costume and running behind boxes out of sight.

“...Dennis?” I called, running after him.

Dammit, where was he? I looked through piles of boxes, costumes, everything. I was so preoccupied, I almost didn’t notice the tap on my shoulder.

I squeaked and whipped around. Dennis was wearing the head. He was wearing the f*cking bunny head. And he was giggling.

“Dennis! Take that off!” I yelped, stumbling back. I wanted to believe that costume didn’t scare me, but he had snuck up on me.

“Why? You’re not afraid of a wittle wabbit are you?” A muffled, teasing voice came from the head.

“Dennis, I am serious. It’s not funny!”

“Come on, Jackie! I just wanted to make you feel better...” He sounded almost pitifully let down.

I sat down on some boxes and rubbed my temples. Still in costume, Dennis sat beside me. I tried not to look at him. My heart was still slowing down from the jumpscare he gave me. “...Wanna see a meme?” He asked suddenly, lifting his phone and showing me his lockscreen.

His lockscreen was a LOLcat.

It was so dumb, it was so so so dumb. But I started snickering.

“Ahh! You’re smiling! I did it!” Dennis laughed.

“Oh, piss off!” I snorted back.

“You’re still smiling, though! Do you feel any be-t…..t…”

Dennis stopped. His arms fell limp to his sides and his voice cracked as he froze completely.

“Dennis..? Uh, what’s…. Uh…” I stumbled.

He didn’t move. I heard a soft moan from within the mask.

“Seriously? Come on, now’s not the time to do this. Again, not funny.” I pouted at him.

Dennis began to shake. My initial reaction that this was a stupid joke began to crack. Slowly, his quivering hands reached up to the the mask. A weak, strained attempt to take the head off. I heard another small moan from within.

“Dennis?” I shot up to my feet, “Dennis, are you ok? I-Is it stuck?”

He fell to the floor, still shaking. All I could hear was his ragged, strained breathing and… dripping…


Something in the mask was hurting him.

“Sh*t!” I cried, falling to my knees beside him, “Dennis! Can you hear me?”

I thought a rogue metal wire in the mask had to have caught him, that was the only reasonable explanation. In my panic, I tried to tug the mask off.

Blood spurted over my hands, and Dennis let out a scream of agony.

“Stop! Stop! Please!” He cried, and I crawled back.

A moment of silence fell on us. The soft, choked whimpering from within the mask; my heavy, hyperventilating breath overtaking it.

I had to call 911. I dove for my phone in my pocket.

No service.

Blood was everywhere. I knew if I didn’t do something, Dennis was going to die. He was going to die and it would be my fault.

It had to have been a wire, right? A wire had to have accidentally caught his jugular or something, right?

Dennis was near silent now. He made weak, choked, gurgling breaths. I had to do something. And I had to do it quick. My thoughts were everywhere, as if my own panic had my engines set to overdrive.

‘Tug it off, no that made it worse! I can’t leave him, I can’t leave to find help, I have to find a phone, find service, cut it off, start crying-’

...Cut it off.

My credit card knife.

“Dennis, hold still, I’m gonna cut it off, ok?” I spoke softly, trying to comfort him, my grip tightening on the weapon.

I jabbed the blade into the mask, hoping to cut a hole big enough to pull it off of him. I expected stuffing to go everywhere as I began to slice down.

But that wasn’t what happened.

A high pitched screech filled the room, too high to be human, and the costume head practically flew off of Dennis and bounced to the floor like it was fleeing bat out of hell. I only had one moment to look at Dennis.

Chunks of skin and hair were missing from his face. The blood, god, blood was everywhere, dripping from his flesh. A few flecks of bone were visible across the mangled skin. Deeper gashes were sporadically scattered across his scalp, and one of his eyes was gone completely. A perfect, dark hole dripped blood from where he could once see. He was silent.

In my shuddering collapse to the floor, I got a good look at his neck, where the mask had just been. A perfect ring of bite marks, dripping blood, circled his throat. My gaze fell on the mask.

I looked to where I had jabbed my knife into the mask.

There was no stuffing.

Blood dripped from the laceration in the mask. A clean gash of flesh peeked through the cut. Teeth lined the opening, where Dennis’s head once resided, and inside I could only see blood and pieces of flesh, undoubtedly his. As blood and viscera, what was once my coworkers face, flowed slowly out of the mask’s opening, I made out a single, unscatched eyeball amongst the crimson chunks, as well as clumps of long, black hair.

The mask. I stared at the macabre scene, but somehow, through all of it, it did something I could never have predicted. I saw as the opening of the thing convulsed and heaved, teeth sheathing and unsheathing in a steady pattern. More teeth lined the inside of it, also glimpsing through the the sides before retreating in the same rhythm. It was breathing. There was no lining inside, only moist, bloodied, pink flesh sprinkled with fangs.

Before I could find it in me to make a noise, to scream, I heard a noise.

I heard the mask moan in pain.