's 2018 Horror Write-off:


Submitted by D-Pad


By then I already hated the zoo, but after visiting its aquarium I was actually ready to set the whole thing on fire. The sharks were quite predictable. Boring, even. It was the whale, Leviathan. What an original name, yessir. Anyway, they hadn’t even bothered with the water for that one. There it was, just flopping around in an ornate but empty pool, guts all hanging out. “It exploded one day,” a zookeeper told me. “That’s how whale carcasses do, even half-living ones. The warden prefers it that way, I reckon. Makes an impression.”

An impression, indeed. But I don’t think it was the guts, just the smell. God dammit, it refuses to leave my nose.


I feel bad for Dr. Hoffmann, and I don’t blame her for trying. After all, she spent so many years of her life teaching sign language to her beloved gorilla, only for it to die in such tragic circumstances… The irony is that Samson had learned signs for over two thousand words, but after the ritual he only uses “brains.”


The sabretooth tiger resurrection project was proceeding exceedingly well, until the fateful day when the scientists finally decided to reveal their specimen to the public. It had been kept under complete seclusion for most of its life without problems, who would have thought that it would turn to dust when exposed to direct sunlight?


The owl is looking at me. It has been doing it for the past forty minutes. I think it knows.


“Do not walk over the mussels barefoot!” Roberto’s mother told him several times. “Their shells are sharp and you can cut your feet!”
But the boy didn’t listen, as he was too busy hurrying towards the largest tide pool. He carried handfuls of the shrimp that his father used as bait in order to feed the anemones, which was his favorite activity at the beach. He was fascinated by those plant-like animals and the way they slowly closed their petals/tentacles over the free food. Sometimes he would tease them with his own finger instead, just to feel their soft and slightly sticky embrace.
In previous years he would always cross the rocky intertidal zone in the company of one of his parents, but that year he had been deemed old enough to go on his own, and his enthusiasm was palpable. Unfortunately, just as his mother had predicted, in his rush the child carelessly stepped on one of the several black mantles of bivalves and hurt his right sole with the shell of a particularly large mussel. The shock made him trip; he broke the fall with his hands and in the process hurt his palms with the shells as well.

The staffers at the nearby hospital covered his hands and foot in bandages, but the large gash in his sole required stitches first. The boy complained about an itch, but the nurse told him and his parents that it was probably due to the antiseptic that they had applied to the gauze. They sent them home and told them to get back the following day for a checkup.
The next morning, Roberto told his parents that the itch around his wounds had intensified. They decided to take him directly to the hospital rather than remove the bandages all by themselves, just in case. What the nurses found below scared them enough to call the hospital’s head physician and surgeon: growing out of each cut in Roberto’s hands there was a tiny mussel with a deep red shell. He had similar mussels on his feet, though much larger; they had cut their way through the stitches.

His parents and the doctors left Roberto alone in the consulting room for a few minutes in order to discuss the case without upsetting him. The boy wasn’t that worried, though. He plucked one of the mussels from his left hand, which felt cathartic and alleviated his itch a fair bit. He held the animal between his fingers and examined it closely. Aside from the color, it didn’t look that much different from the normal mussels at the beach.
“I wonder if anemones can eat these,” he thought.