's 2018 Horror Write-off:

Moose Lips

Submitted by The Distant Suburbs

Moose lips are extremely dexterous. I really need you to understand this, before we move on. Visualize it. Many large mammals have fleshy, muscular lips so they can grab stuff with them, like an extra limb, a proto-trunk if you will. In the case of a moose, the trunk is already half-way there, the nostrils have moved all the way to the tip oft the lips.

I want you to take a small object and try to pick it up with your upper lip. Now imagine your lips were much, much longer than that, much stronger. So, are we good? Moose lips.

With this in mind, here’s what happened when I went camping with my friends.

For some reason, we thought it would be fun to pick a place that was really… distasteful. A place that feels dangerous, in a very low-key kind of way, but really you know it’s not that bad, it’s just crummy, dirty, a spoiled place.

But also, on some level, you think it might be dangerous after all.

Part of the reason we felt so cocky was because we had all heard stories about the little old ladies living in these woods. When the war was over, and the worst effects had worn off, they said, "I’m old anyway, so what if there is radiation, when I die I’d rather die in my old home, the one I grew up in, where I lived with my family". We figured, if old ladies have been living there for years, how bad can it really be?

When we first got to the campsite, it took me some time to realize where my growing sense of unease was coming from, but it must have been the silence. It was already mid-autumn, but still, it’s weird how you couldn’t hear anything, not a single bird, no cars, no trains. We didn’t see any animals, either. There was nothing but the sound of our feet crunching through the dry leaves on the forest floor.

Obviously, it didn’t get any better after nightfall. I remember lying awake in my sleeping bag, staring at the roof of our tent, thinking really hard about the little old ladies. Somewhere out there in these woods, there was a little old lady all alone in her home, but she would sleep peacefully, without any worries. Maybe she didn’t care about the silence, the loneliness. Maybe after all the screams and the chaos and people strangling one another in crowded bunkers over a can of beans, maybe after all that, she was grateful for the silence.

Anyway, I must have fallen asleep after that, because when I saw a dark shape slipping out of our tent, I was completely disoriented, like I had dropped in from a different reality. My heart was racing, but I quickly calmed down and reminded myself that it was probably just one of my friends going outside to pee. Still, it was a relief when I finally heard the familiar sound of pee on dry leaves.

My friend returned, and I was already half asleep when something started pushing against the side of the tent. I assumed that it was someone else from our group. Everyone seemed to be inside and accounted for, but I attributed that to the confusion of my sleepy mind.

Except then there was even more pushing. Something was really pressing hard against our shelter, the tissue was rubbing against me, and it was just so warm, so big. So BIG.

Animal, I thought. ANIMAL. BIG.

I was wide awake now. So were my friends.

It all happened so fast. Before I could really process any of it, my friends had darted outside, and I was all alone. The tent was much lighter now, and it started sliding over the forest floor. Somehow, I had the presence of mind to grab my backpack, and I rolled out of the tent.

One of my friends was waving a flashlight around, a few meters away. We made a couple of quick steps to the side, to get a glimpse of whatever was attacking our campsite.

My mind went completely blank.

And then I thought, it’s nothing, it’s just a part. It’s disembodied.

And yet, it was moving, and it was big. Hot breath was streaming out of the nostrils, each of them easily four times as big as my entire head. It dragged itself along on the forest floor, feeling its way around. I thought that it was a sad thing, sad like something that cannot feel any sadness, it just IS. Like negative space.

It suddenly discovered one of my shoes that had fallen out of the tent (I was glad I had at least kept my socks), and so it grabbed a hold of it, and swallowed it. I should add that I have really sweaty, stinky feet. There was a lot of me in that shoe, is what I’m saying.

Then it slowly turned towards us, the nostrils widening, staring at us like empty eye sockets. It started sliding towards us. It was moving a lot faster now, gaining momentum.

„Fuck this“, I said. And then we ran.

We ran until we found the road, and we kept running until sunrise. I still remember the cold of the freezing asphalt burning through my socks.