's 2018 Horror Write-off:


Submitted by Kiara Maher

You ever have a dream that just... stays with you? No matter how hard you try to shake it, it's still there?

I know, I know, people talking about their dreams, right? But bear with me here, I only want a couple minutes of your time and this one's... weird.

So, when it starts out I'm walking home from the grocery store carrying my bags, at like, dusk in the summertime. You know, when it's starting to get dark and all the shadows are super long.

Anyway, the streets are empty and I catch sight of this group of people running down the road in my direction. They're all wearing those like, form-fitting black bodysuits where only your face is exposed and there's eight of them lined up in rows of two, just like... jogging and each waving one arm around and holding the hand of the person next to them with the other.

As they get closer I realize they're holding tennis rackets, and then they get even closer and I see that no, it's actually those bug zappers. They've each got one.

"What are you guys doing?" I ask, and they stop in formation.

"There are no more spiders," says one of them.

"We were hired on short notice to fill in," adds another.

"They didn't give us much to work with," grumbles a third.

"But we know they had eight legs and killed insects," shrugs a fourth member.

Two of the people near the back of the group flinch as their zappers pop and hiss on a cloud of tiny flies.

They don't say anything else to me, they just nod and move on. So I continue home with my groceries, thinking that it's weird that I can't remember what I bought. I look inside the bags but I still can't remember and when I look up, more people in those weird bodysuits are coming my way. This time there's only two of them, one in front of the other, and they are pulling some kind of little cart or rickshaw.

"Let me guess," I say, "There are no more horses so you were hired on short notice to fill in?"

"Oh, not at all!" replies the back person genially. "Not short notice, I mean. We've been doing this professionally for years. You won't find a better horse than us in this city, that's for sure."

"We do it all," they continue, "Pulling, plowing, racing, tearing up grass, leaving dung--" as they say this, they reach into a black bag strapped across their shoulder and pull out a fist-sized ball of used chewing gum. They drop it by their feet and it hits the pavement with a wet smack.

"No expense spared," they declare proudly, and the person in front of them curls their upper lip and emits a high-pitched whine. As they leave, I see that the rickshaw is occupied by a single half-full sack of flour.

I think about telling them their flour is leaking, but they're going away so fast, and I'm almost home now anyway. It's getting darker outside, and when the streetlamps flicker on I see two tall shapes illuminated in the nearest pool of light. It appears to be two more pairs of... performers, I suppose, and they're stacked atop each other's shoulders. The carriers are completely silent and the riders are talking about something and shaking hands. When I come into the light, the riders turn to stare down at me.

A few seconds pass.

As the carriers look on in silence, the riders address me in turn, somewhat mournfully.

"They didn't give us anything to work with. Not even a number or a name."

"We know that they walked and talked and shook hands."

"Two arms, two legs."

"And they increased their numbers by making love."

"That's only a theory. We haven't actually figured out how to apply it yet."

"You wouldn't happen to know anything about it, would you?"

And then one of the carriers makes direct eye contact with me and says,

"Teach us how to make more. Teach us how to make love."