Bogleech.com's 2019 Horror Write-off:
Submitted by Shakara
There are many of us here, but we are all in danger. It has been this way since forever.
I, Bonne, and my dear friend Kit. I, pink. She, white. We are of many colours, adorned with our long cloaks of furs. The only thing that closes out the cold.
We live here in The Space. Wide and open, we live here as best we can.
Kit comes to me, pale and trembling. I do not need to ask why. I know already.
“Tourt has been taken.” She spoke. No longer does she shed tears, for they have been spent.
I bow my head. Kind, green Tourt. Too kind. He’d been so peaceful, but slow. Too slow to move. Old. A hidden part of me is grateful Kit was left be.
“Cannot be helped.” I say. I brush my hair, pawing ineffectively. I am too tired to work.
She looks to the black ground.
“I also.” I respond.
She buries her face in my neck. I hold her to me. She is younger than I, so is more liberal with displays of emotion. Alas, I cannot comfort much. I’ve been hardened too much. Seen too much. When will it end?
Gathering in the evenings, I unconsciously count who remain. There are now 32. Before, there had been 50. And before that, nearly 100? More? There has not been a single day of peace. Only in the night can we seek respite.
“The gods are cruel!” Bur shouts, spitting his vitriol. The others nod. I only watch.
Kit sits close to me. We do not eat, for how could we keep it inside? Many a time it is expelled from our bodies with pure fear. In my youth, I always feared my insides would rupture themselves, falling thick and pale on the ground like fallen snows.
Unfair, it is. Very unfair. Always, each day, it comes from above. It takes one of us. Sometimes several of us in one day, if it feels particularly spiteful.
We do not know why. But it always comes.
Rarely, there are merciful days where we are left alone. Sometimes, new ones arrive. They know not from where, for they simply awake in The Space. They do not know the danger, and they are taken easily the next morrow.
From above. It isn’t seen until it digs into you. The Hand of Grey. Bigger than our bodies, it takes us. It lifts us into the unforgiving sky. You will not be seen after it.
Rarely, so rarely, some of us had fallen back down. Daug had fallen down, freed from the grip of the firmamental colossus. He did not speak after. He never spoke after. Even now, I can see his eyes, misty and wet in the light of the moon. Something terrible must be aloft.
To see the face of The Hand of Grey, it must be something worse than damnation itself.
But I would not care if I was taken. Anything to protect Kit.
She had been one of the new arrivals. Absent of memory and identity. Helpless as newborns. From where they come from, I know not. I remember that day, for my mother had been taken. I wept sore. Bitterly, I cursed the endless sky. Kit came to me, shaking and nervous. She had nobody to guide her, and I took her in.
“Bonne, you are so kind…” I sang her to sleep. I kept her with me in my home under the ground, keeping her safe. Always I told her “If The Hand of Grey ever comes, you run to my home. You stay there, even if I do not return. Do not leave for anything.”
The world is cruel.
The next morning, I see Bur taken. A single blur of the immense greyness, long fingers wrapping. I heard Bur scream and he disappeared into the sky.
I turn away. What can be done?
We cannot fight. In years past, before my mother’s time, I had heard of a rebellion. The Hand had caught fast onto one of us, but the townsfolk had banded together to pull back down.
Ah, they thought they had succeeded. But The Hand pulled harder and harder. A whole group of four was taken in one day. Clinging for dear life, they daren’t let go.
Never to be seen again. The Hand was stronger.
I do not count the days. I mark the passing of time by how many times I talk to Kit. She comes at day and stays in the night. Rarely does she travel far.
“There are more taken, now.” She spoke. “The Hand keeps coming.”
Impossible. In every taking I have witnessed, the highest number had been 3 in one day.
“How… how many?”
“6. 7. I know not if two clung together and were taken away.” She shakes her head, running deeper into my home. It is the one safe spot here. But no more than 2 lives can fit here.
I would have offered further sanctuary to the others, but then they would give us away.
No. Nobody can be safe here. Nobody but Kit.
I had barely awoken when it came again today. This time, Kit came screaming to me. She said The Hand had come, and it was coming again and again and again, trying to catch her!
I ran out in time to see it descend. I pushed Kit back into my home.
“Stay there! Do not leave for anything!”
I stretched out my arms. Let the beast take me. But not Kit. Never Kit.
The colour of thunder and the feel of ice. I feel the long fingers encircle me, digging into my skin, almost ripping me. The all-encompassing sound of groaning. The beast calls me.
“BONNE!” I hear Kit wail. One final look back, I see her withdraw deeper. Deeper than I ever went. She will be safe, if alone. The sky thickens, an endless height of purest white, away from The Space forever.
How high does The Hand go? I know not. I close my eyes, thankful that Kit is too small to be caught.
The Hand raises back into the sky, and time becomes a dream. Blinded by the white sky, I smile silently for the first time in years.
- - - -
- - - -
“Aw, darn. I didn’t get the white cat plush.” The 6-year old Kara whines.
“Well, you got a toy anyway! Look!” Her brother points to the blue bunny plush.
“It’s much bigger than the cat. Easier caught.” He rifled through his pockets. Kara may have just been imagining, but it was almost as if the bunny jumped in front of the claw…?
“Do you want to go back to the Arcade? I’ve got some coins left.”
Kara inspects the blue bunny plush. She looks back to the claw machine, the small cat plush buried deep within the depths of the machine.
“May as well. That cat toy is stuck…”