Bogleech.com's 2019 Horror Write-off:
Fragments of Fear: Volume One
Submitted by Shakara
A collection of short horror snippets. Medium and short. Miscellanea that wouldn't fit elsewhere.
Let's Go Fly:
“Do you like to fly kites?” Tomasa held up a navy-blue bird kite, an orange dragon in her other hand. They fluttered in the breeze, fabric tails lightly flicking the air.
“Sure!” Jilly nodded enthusiastically.
“Cool! Which one do you like? I have more at home, but I couldn’t fit any more in my bag.” Jilly looked between the two. “Oh, I like the bird one.”
“Excellent! Now, hold onto the handle-thingy…” Tomasa instructed. “Let out a bit of string. Walk back. Careful of that root!”
Jilly pottered back, letting out the line. The breeze slowly began to lift the blue bird upwards. It shook uneasily, and Jilly bit her lip. “Come on, fly!” she urged, bouncing foot to foot.
Tomasa’s orange dragon surged up into the sky, followed by the bird.
“Woah!” Jilly held tight onto the handle, the string pricking her fingers. “It’s super-bird! Look at it go!”
“Whee! It’s amazing!” Tomasa laughed, the orange dragon’s growling face standing out against the white sky.
The two girls exchanged compliments of one another’s kites, watching as they whirled and cavorted in the air. Jilly was glad of Tomasa’s art-skills. These were not cheap plastic, they were hand-crafted. Strong wooden rods and fine-painted cloth.
“I hear there’s a kite competition this spring. I’ll see if I can get a ticket for you, Jil!”
“Oh, will you? That’s awesome!” The duo laughed.
They ceased laughing as Jilly’s bird crashed to the ground, the sound of a sharp cry mingling with the cracking of wood and cloth. Tomasa pulled her kite handle violently. Jilly stared on, confused. Had her kite hit something? A tree-branch? A bird?
She looked to her friend, but before she could speak, she looked up to the dragon. The fabric was torn from something, and the string wrapped around a dark shape. Jilly first assumed it was an old umbrella, perhaps a bat, but it was neither of the two.
“Let go! Let go!” Jilly urged, feeling a nameless fear, cold and sharp.
“But my kite-!”
Jilly snatched the handle away from her hands, and the dragon fluttered to the ground, a mess of shredded orange. The dark shape flew off, calling like a carrion bird.
The two girls sat on the hill, silent and shaken.
“What was that?” Tomasa shouted, breaking the painful silence.
“I… I don’t know. Some big bird? …”
“I wanna go home.”
They didn’t fly kites for a while afterward.
Asha leant against the bark of the tree, idly watching her younger brother, Roman. He was busy looking at bugs. His most recent mission; finding beetles in the underbrush.
“Beetle!” he lifted up a shiny black ground beetle. After the appropriate period of analysis, he set it down and looked for another.
“Very perceptive, Roman.” She flicked through her notebook, trying to come up with things to sketch. Wood fairies? No, too stereotypical. Besides, she didn’t know how to draw wings that well. Monsters? Maybe. But what sort of animal shape? Maybe a wolf…
Roman was rummaging through the thicket noisily. For a boy who doesn’t speak a lot, he sure is loud, Asha internally fumed. He triumphantly laughed as a large cloud of moths exploded from the bush. Asha jumped. Didn’t moths come out in the night? Roman chased the fuzzy, brown insects with glee, running out of the glade.
“Roman, get back here!” Asha hiked her bag up, putting away her notebook. Great. Another goose-chase. Striding along, she followed the stocky toddler into the wood. If he got lost again, she was going to get a hiding from mother. It wasn’t her fault he was so damn inattentive! Did she even want a little brother? Nooo. But when had anybody listened to her?
Propelled by the speed of childish excitement, Roman sped ahead, chasing the moths. Asha nearly leapt out of her skin as one brushed against her cheek.
“I hate moths!” she squeaked, shuddering.
The smell of wet wood and fungus filled her nose. A dark, deep part of the wood she hadn’t been to. Of course, Roman liked to explore, regardless of danger. That’s how he wound up with scratches up and down his hands from the brambles. Asha followed him as best she could in the poor light.
“Damn you, get back here!” she shouted. No dice. He was stuck in a fantasy. Oh, when I catch him…
At last, he stopped his running. She could hear him panting, giggling at something.
She burst into a clearing, the ivy snatching at her sleeves. She tore at the mossy surroundings, enraged. Another flurry of moths burst into the air. Ire peaked, and she smashed the largest between her hands. Roman jumped at the sudden sharp sound.
“ENOUGH! Roman, you’re coming back with me right this instant.” She dusted off her hands on the sides of her leggings.
“But the fairies!” the boy lamented, so disappointed that his forest play had been interrupted. Several moths sat on his head, flying in and out of the biggest tree in the clearing.
“Shut up. We’re going home. Now.” She snatched up his hand, shuddering as she felt the shed moth scales and lichen scraps dotting his skin. He protested and wailed, pulling back against the teen’s arm in infantile fury.
“No! I have to set the fairies free!”
“What are you even talking about?!” she turned around, only realising that his hand was sticky. Mud? She breathed through her nose, the smell of rotten apples filling her lungs.
“Ugh. Roman, what are you holding?” she gagged. Roman held up something dusty and white. It looked like a pale birch branch with some ragged leather hanging from it. Asha felt the blood drain from her face, and she dropped the object as if it were white hot. With sickening realisation, she knew what it was. A broken rib.
“Where’d you find this? What were you doing?!” she choked back bile.
Roman pointed to something dark at the foot of the tree, where the moths were at their thickest. Asha walked forward and swiped viciously. The moths retreated, unveiling what they had crowded.
A withered corpse, skin threadbare and ragged clothing heavy with dew. Larvae wriggled at the pale mask of the face, their white-yellow bodies dripping out of a hollow eye-socket like tears. The reek of skatole and rotten meat rose into the air. Asha clutched at her mouth, and yanked Roman out of the clearing.
She ran. She didn’t stop running until she made it back home, an exhausted Roman with a near-dislocated arm. Mother was about to give her yet another tongue-lashing for almost losing Roman, but stopped when Asha vomited on the porch.
The police were called to examine the corpse. Though old, they did manage to find some dental records from the dusty teeth.
Conclusion: a deceased child of 8-10 years. Female. Anila Kiera. Reported missing 9 weeks prior. Cause of death, possible exsanguination via multiple puncture wounds. Moth larvae found inside body. Genus unknown. Hybrid?
Asha spent her days inside for a long while, and kept a bug-zapper outside. Roman wasn’t allowed to go moth-chasing anymore.
Breeze Pop popsicle. Peeling off the dark-blue wrapper, you reveal the fruity, cold treat. A perfect pillar of frozen raspberry, perfect for the boiling summer day. You bite into it, revealing the centre of wriggling cicada larvae.
The plumber didn’t find any faults with the basement boiler. No leaks or breaks. Showering, the water is fine. The heat is fine. Only, you don’t like the occasional sigh or groan that rings out from the plug-hole, nor the long, howling songs that come in the night.
You don’t like it at all.
Tailoring was Lulie’s favourite hobby. She’d always admired the idea of creating her own outfits. Deft hands and a creative mind, she sewed and snipped, forming all manner of articles and accessories, her skill advancing with the years. Even the ugliest, coarsest sheet of material, she would make into a most lovely item. Before long, she’d made a name for herself as Europe’s best seamstress. Seamstress Lulie.
It was only when they began finding the flayed orphans did they truly start to think where she got her material from.
The electric chair didn’t stop her, somehow... Soon after she died, they found something within her home. The seamstress managed to conjure a last-ditch act in the form of a dress. Just that. A long white dress, decked with pearls and woven with fine red lace. Some kind of swan-song?
The Duchess didn’t think much of it when she purchased it and wore it to the annual winter dance at the palace.
They found her in the bathroom, after a servant had heard her screams. Her body, all muscle rended, sinew like split harp-strings, the bones snapped at hideous angles and her organs crushed into paste- yet the dress remained unspoilt. If anything, it looked even more beautiful, longer, softer, with shinier pearls and much more red lace woven into intricate patterns.
Nobody wore the dress after that.
Beautiful flowers growing in the garden. So many kinds. Lilacs, lilies, hyacinths and hydrangeas, snapdragons and snowdrops. Green buds popping from the loamy dirt. Humming, you admire their pretty petals. All colours, all shapes. A harmonious song of scents.
Something hums back. One of the flowers is shaking intermittently, jittering. Hummm-hummm. Is there a bumblebee inside? You don’t recognise this breed of flower. It looks like a rather tall white-pink lily, only with thinner petals and a hair-covered stem. It’s tinged with grey. Perhaps diseased?
Before you can even reach for it with your gloves, it bursts open. No pollen, no bee, no stamens nor stigmas. Nothing but a quivering, red mouth. Exposing needle-fangs, it laughs.
Is… is someone talking in the library? Unheard of. This is a place of silence. Alright, alright. I’ll look, child.
They’re arguing in the Religious History section on the correct identities of martyrs, the Music section is having a contest on whom can sing the best aria and the Science section are reciting chemical equations. Don’t be annoyed, I’m sure it’ll settle.
… No, nobody’s talking. What? Well, no people at least.
It’s just the books.
Report 250-D: Current sources of renewable energy:
· Biomass [May remove – emits CO2 upon combustion]
· Electrical impulses of the brain
· Muscular movement of the body [Maybe even major organs. Cardiac movement looks promising – reminder, wash the hearts of blood first!!]
· Stomach acids [Possible replacement for batteries. Shows good potential]
· Bacterial metabolism of corpses [Still working on it. Janitor complains of the smell. Putrefaction too rapid. Maybe scrap this idea?]
The coffee grinder was making much more noise than usual, so you decided to remove the top to see just what was making that horrid racket.
You immediately closed it once you saw the circle of large molars smashing the coffee beans to powder.
The kitchen seemed to manage itself. There was no need for cleaners or even for the occupant to make any effort. Every morning, noon and evening, it would be cleaned, organised and meals would be cooked. All that was needed was to write down or simply say aloud what you wanted. No fuss, no mess. It was there.
Say, you wanted fried eggs with buttered toast, no crusts, and a glass of grapefruit juice for breakfast. Done. Even silly details that no sensible cook would bother with. So, if you wanted your eggs in the shape of stars and sprinkled with paprika, your toast with butter on both sides, or if you wanted two shots of espresso in your grapefruit juice and served in a flute glass, it would also be done.
Just as long as you stayed out of the kitchen when it was meal-time, everything would be fine. You never saw this mysterious cook, or even saw evidence that they were around. Only the sound of rattling crockery. Darned quick, too. Oh, it made dinner parties an absolute breeze. Guests would always be stupefied at how wonderful everything was. No money spent on fancy ingredients, no time spent slaving over a hot stove, no messy cleaning…
… Pity that the cook didn’t know how to take a joke. Remember that time your co-worker got promoted- some suck-up named Giles- even though you’d been working harder than him. He got rewarded, which rightfully burned you up. When you got home, you said ‘I wish I had Giles’s head on a platter’. Remember? …
Yeah… You’re not going into the kitchen when you’re angry anymore.
There’s a crawlspace near the bed. How it got there is a mystery. A previous tenant’s work? Something left behind when the house was divided? You didn’t know, nor did you care.
Being the imaginative child, you always fancied it led to another world, or that tiny wee men lived in there. You’d keep secret stashes of sweets there, like hidden-away treasures in the late nights. What was it-- Oh, cake bars, yes. And boiled sweets made to look like miniature flowers, from Chambord! You got so mad when you found the wrappers.
Squaring off with your sister, Breya, she said she didn’t eat them. Well, who did? They couldn’t have just vanished.
When dad found the sweet wrappers in the crawlspace, he made you clean it up. “We don’t want any rats.” You made some comment about Breya. She didn’t take that well.
Time went on, and you decided to hide your sweets at the back of the wardrobe.
Whenever you were angry, you’d hide in there. Big enough for your child body, but you still had to crouch a bit. The floor was wooden boarding, with a blanket thrown over. Old drawings dotted the ceiling and walls, detailing stick-people doing all kinds of things. Eating, sleeping, running, reading, playing, arguing… You’d take an electric lantern in there, and remained near the door, keeping a stopper near the door so you didn’t get closed in.
On the really bad days, you’d spend whole afternoons there. It seemed that the crawlspace was soundproof. So, you voiced out all your ire for your family. Every member. None were spared your vocal wrath. Weeping, gnashing, howling- commanding- for something in the dark to just come and change it all. To take you away to some better place. … Heh. An imaginary man. A fairy-land. That’d be a load off.
… You must’ve fallen asleep in the crawlspace. Strange. It wasn’t a comfortable place, just wood with a blanketed floor. Well, you found yourself wrapped up, not with the old dirty blanket, but a clean one, softer than silk. Did mom or dad come in the night? You hadn’t heard a thing. You turned on the electric lantern, the white glow illuminating an entire crocheted throw, all the colours of the rainbow, surrounded by all manner of teddies and dolls. Modern ones, retro ones, even some very, very old ones.
Had you stumbled into some toy-storage? It wasn’t uncommon for previous tenants to leave things behind. Another doll moved next to you, dropped from above. A white rabbit plush. Where were they coming from? Was there something in the ceiling of the crawlspace?
You tried to open the door and get some fresh air, but you couldn’t find the knob. It had vanished. Did you move further down? You pointed the electric lantern down the dark hall. … Since when was the crawlspace so long? Trying to get up, you fell back down again, onto the soft blanketed sea. Packets of sweets and fairy books surrounded you. All of them clean and new, higher quality than you’d ever seen before. Fairy-lights popped to life on the wall. A veritable treasure trove of childlike wonder.
Long hands tucked you in, placing more stuffed toys about you. A soft cooing.
You weren’t alone.
You wanted to get up, to cry for help, but you couldn’t. The blankets, the toys, cushions, that melodic cooing voice… All strength was sapped from your limbs as your mind slowed, coddled by whatever was in the crawlspace with you.
Softer than silk. Gentler than a butterfly’s kiss. You fell asleep.
You don’t know how much time passed, but when the soft, pale thing had finally gone, you scrambled out of there. Turns out mom and dad were looking for you for the whole evening. Even the usually-stoic Breya was worried. You were making no sense to them, just babbling gibberish about the crawlspace, snatches of words muddled by panic.
Dad said he didn’t see anything in the crawlspace, other than your stash of candy and toys. The space ended after about three metres, tops. You must’ve gotten stuck in there for a while after napping. Whatever you’d seen there, it was imagined.
At least, you liked to believe that. You forced yourself to believe it. For up until you moved house, that soft pale creature would come out, cooing by your bedside on long, sleepless nights, caressing your face with long, white hands.
“Oh, I have a fine sense of smell. It really helps me make my perfumes.”
‘Atomise Aura’, the name of the store. The owner, one Anarosa Carideo. A fine woman of very refined fashions. Inventor of hundreds of new perfume types. It was getting late into the evening when you found the store, but you decided to stay for a while and look.
You surveyed the bottles upon bottles, all spellbound by their many colours, shapes and varieties.
“This is the sample aisle. Try as many as you like. You don’t have asthma, do you? No? Excellent.”
You’ve been here for an hour now, testing each individual bottle. So many scents. So little time. You smell like potpourri now. Not a dizzying sensation, but a highly pleasant one, a harmony of olfactory notes, all mingling in perfection.
“There are so many smells. Orange blossom. Musk rose. Lemongrass. Yuzu. Curiosity. Bergamot. Fixation. Vetiver. Jasmine. Subservience.”
As she announces each name, you sample. And you keep sampling. On and on.
“Through the correct composition of herbs, they can evoke certain emotions. Can’t you feel it?”
You can. Oh, you most certainly can.
“Lavender. Yearning. Leather. Repentance. Vanilla. Helplessness. Almonds. Obsession.”
You haven’t stopped sampling them, spraying them along your arms, about your chest, and still the woman strides next to you, surveying your progress. Now, a rich and heady riot of flavourful smells. It overpowers everything, clouding your senses and your mind. Each bottle labelled.
“Maddened religious ecstasy”.
“A mother’s loss”.
“Envy of another’s joy”.
You can smell it. You can taste it. You can hear it. You can feel it. The sensation wrought into your bones, your soul. Your mind drowned in an ocean of stimulation.
Anarosa laughs, and your flayed psyche instinctively braces as your hands unwillingly reach for the tall, dark bottle named ‘Blinding agony’.
Playing house with your little cousin, Agnes. You never enjoyed it, but it was the only way the small girl would be quiet. You hated it whenever she cried. God, she had a wail like a pneumatic drill… At least the toys looked interesting. Not the usual slew of plastic bleach-blonde bubblegum-pop-shop girls. No, these were ragdolls. Very nice ones, too. Very detailed. Thread hair, fine satin skin, clothes woven by a deft hand.
Agnes would laugh and smile, putting on silly voices for each rag-boy and rag-girl.
You did your best to play along, but you could never get into it. It had been a long time since you played with toys, and the feeling of the doll warm in your hand prevented you from showing any strong desire for play.
Half-heartedly, you moved the doll about until Agnes was sufficiently happy. After that, you set it down as calmly as you could.
Let Agnes put her own toys away. You could never handle it, not when they kept twitching when you were alone in the room, silky faces warping with invisible mouths, teeth almost poking through cloth.
“Daddy, there’s a hole in the sand-pit!”
Caden rushed in, plastic spade in hand, his dungarees ruffled. Lane looked up from washing the dishes.
“No joke, you’re covered in sand!” Now he’d need to vacuum again. Kids just didn’t care about dirt.
“Well, I dug a hole.”
“I see. You must’ve been digging a rather long time.” He smirked, wondering just what childish fantasy his son thought of.
“But it keeps going! No grass, just sand! Lotsa, lotsa sand.”
“That’s odd. Usually the sand-pits are rather shallow.”
“I kept on digging. Maybe I’ll get to Australia!”
“You’d need to get through the core of the planet first, though.”
“I’ll get some ice, then!”
Five minutes later, Caden returned, sprinting. Typical kids. Just when he’d finally been left alone in the living room, ready to read.
“I hit something!”
“You did? What was it?” You set down the book.
“Buried treasure? It was hard, like metal.”
Lane followed him outside, confused by just how deep the sand-pit was. Perhaps the previous tenant had dug rather deep, as to enhance the sandy experience. He knelt down, seeing something metallic glint in the midday sun. He brushed it clean.
“… Aw, no fair! It’s just a pipe!” Caden threw down his spade.
Strange. It didn’t look like a water-pipe. It looked too clean for that. Almost brand new. He saw a few stamped letters, block capital.
Pawing away more of the sand, he was able to expose a good length of piping, along with the labelling.
“SECTOR B-18: HUMAN SINEW.”
Lane had no idea what to think of it. It was probably some sick joke. Maybe a time-capsule prank that had been forgotten. Then why did it look so clean?
Caden didn’t stop digging, however. By the end of the week, he had managed to create a ludicrously large hole in the garden.
“Caden! I thought I told you to stop digging!”
Lane walked to the edge of the hole, impressed and frightened at just how deep it had become. He worried Caden may fall and hurt himself. Would he need to get the ladder?
Caden just looked up at him and waved, showing a system of pipes he had unearthed. He stood, stunned. Pipes of all sizes, clean and grey, all labelled in that same stencilled lettering.
“SECTOR B-18”, they read. “HUMAN TENDON. HUMAN TEETH. HUMAN CARTILIGE. HUMAN MUSCLE. HUMAN LYMPH. HUMAN BLOOD.”
Lane and Caden moved away after that. A house in the countryside would be the break they needed.
… Without a sandpit.
Nothing was outside.
Nothing was making a sound.
Nothing walked down the old country road.
Nothing made its way to Old Wick Town.
Nothing saw the porch-light of Lily’s house.
Nothing found the door of Lily’s house.
Nothing shattered the door of Lily’s house.
Nothing scrambled up the stairs and nothing startled the cat, Ginger.
Nothing woke up frightened Lily.
Nothing chased her through the house.
Nothing tore Lily to pieces.
The screen flashes to life, but you were certain you unplugged it. You scramble off the settee in a daze, forgetting where you are. That’s right, you were up in the wee hours, trying to sleep. Coloured lines streak through the background, neon-bright, stinging your eyes.
The static bleeds away, the image of a man flickering, becoming visible. You rub your eyes. You have to turn it off before you wake up your brother. He can’t stand early weekends, he’ll be moaning and talking your ear off the rest of the day.
Pressing the buttons doesn't help. The machine has made its decision. It's staying on.
"M-M-M-M-Max Headroom he-e-e-ere!"
A heavily made-up man appears on the screen, clad in a pitch-black suit and sunglasses, his smile shining like polished alabaster, his hair as yellow as the sun.
“The Max Headroom show? How? That ended years ago!” You fumble with the buttons, trying in vain to turn it off. The volume isn’t working. It’s still playing. And loud.
The screen must be broken. His skin is so red... Blurry... Is he... melting...? Another wave of static, and the background burns to black, cracks of neon-red shooting through.
"Yeeeeessss, tune into N-N-Network 23! It's a reeEEAaaaAAALLL m-m-mind-blower!" Pixellated fragments of bone fly across the screen as his scarlet cranium bursts like rubescent popcorn. A high electric whine fills the air. Like laughter.
The machine shuts off, screen snapping to black. The laughter stops, the only sound present, your desperate, frightened panting.
In all his years, Riley had never seen anything like it.
“Why won’t it turn off?”
He thumped the ‘off’ button. And still it played?
"Bring home the Coke! Bring home the Cooooooke-e-e-e..."
It won't shut off. Even hammering the ‘mute’ button or trying to change the channel, it won't stop. Old commercials. From his grandfather's time. That old jingle played loud.
"Everybody's happy when you bring home the Coke! That real great taste leaves you soooOOOO refre-e-e-e-eshed!" the black and white people danced about, their faces blurring in black as the music creaked.
It won't stop. The remote isn't working. Nor the buttons.
It's starting to shake, now, with dark liquid oozing from the cracks. It smells of burnt beef.
"Coca-Cola puts you at your sparkling beeeeeEEEEEEEEEST!" He turned off the plug, and yanked the cable out of the wall.
It’s flooding the carpet. It won’t stop. It’s sickly-sweet, metallic and meaty. Don’t drink it. Don’t. It’s so sweet. Don’t kneel. Sparkling best. This is dreadfully wrong. Something is very, very wrong with the television. Sparkling. Stop. Sweet. Please.
Streaming. You have nothing to do, so why not just watch a dude play games? You go to the ‘popular’ tab to see who’s playing. Everyone’s on Twitch. Nobody has appeared yet.
The standby screen vanishes, snippets of colour and static bleeding through. In the corner, the streamer appears.
The watchers observe, confused, commenting back and forth to each other, wondering who it is. It’s nobody you recognise. A new streamer, perhaps? The figure shuffles forward into better view, a mess of many hair colours, skin tones, eyes and mouths, their clothes a tattered menagerie of band t-shirts, glitter, jewellery and V-necks. Multi-speaker headphones adorn the shimmering anterior, the head morphing from one shape to next as the hair changes.
"H̴e̴l̴l̴o̴ ̴e̴v̴e̴r̴y̴b̴o̴d̴y̴!" High, low, deep, piercing, Thespian, tinny, man, woman, accented, stentorian... A cacophony of voices. They're inside your head.
" ̴T̴o̴d̴a̴y̴, ̴w̴e̴ ̴a̴r̴e̴ ̴g̴o̴i̴n̴g̴ ̴t̴o̴ ̴p̴p̴p̴p̴l̴l̴l̴ ̴a̴a̴a̴ ̴y̴ ̴y̴ ̴y̴ ̴y̴ ̴y̴ . . ."
You're not even listening anymore. Even the previously panicked commenters have stopped. You feel yourself being drawn in, the smell of Monster, Red Bull, ramen and instant coffee overwhelming, snatches of house, swing and pop-rock filling your ears, the view of the all-one streamer melding into your mind...
The cartoons haven’t been playing correctly. The music is off-tune. Through the static, you can guess it’s an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants you put on for Devan and Lucille. It’s so fuzzy. SpongeBob looks very pink, and Patrick is almost maroon. And it keeps getting more and more distorted, the screen darker and more pixelated, until the theme is nothing but a demonically-low rumble, and the screen a mess of red and black pixels...
Your children are forever changed by it. And not scared. In fact, they're not even crying. Or smiling. They refuse to eat and don't talk to you, forgoing English and using their own lexicon instead...
Why are their skins so red?!