's 2019 Horror Write-off:

Hot summer night

Submitted by manga-ranga

Even at night it’s too hot in Perth… or Western Australia in general… unless you’re lucky enough to get a breeze off the ocean. If not, the heat is always suffocating above all else. The dry stillness of the night is enough to leave you sweating and gasping for air. On particularly bad nights sometimes you can’t breathe deeply because the air feels stagnant and awkward in your lungs. Most times of the day, your skin is burning even in the shade and it almost fells like your blood is curdling within you. You just want to strip your flesh off because it’s too heavy, sweaty, disgusting that you’re boiling in it, and you just want to stop feeling hot and slimy all the time.

By the time I got home from the airport after a FIFO shift, it was some obscure hour of the night and the heat had followed me home. It wasn’t quite as intense as it gets up north but you have to keep going south to find a reprieve from it all. Anyway, I share a house with my mate Liz, just some crappy little place near Vic Park we rent so it’s kinda central. The old house seems to complain with each step you take in it, like it’s too tired to deal with occupants living in it. Narrow halls, dark too from a lack of wide windows but that seemed to work in its favour as we had no air con. If we were lucky, maybe we could open all the doors and create a wind tunnel but tonight we weren’t. So I fumbled with my keys to unlock the door and get in, dumped my bag in my room and went to clean myself up a bit. Liz’s door was closed so I figured she was either out or asleep.

After a shower and a change into my comfiest clothes, I finally sank into the couch to watch some TV, just the usual shit they put on at around three in the morning. Fucking long shifts and flights really mess with your sleep patterns. Some cop show fell to white noise as I just zoned the fuck out. It was nice until I heard a dripping sound, when I looked to the kitchen, there was no tap dripping so maybe my head is just playing… tricks… on me…

Time passed… I must have dozed off because I woke when I heard this bloody loud thump. Now this wasn’t a usual possum in the roof situation. It sounded heavy and it sounded wet. I could hear the squelches between something dense slapping against something hard. I froze up, unable to move from the couch as it just kept moving closer and closer.

The smell of rotting flesh, sweat and blood assaulted my senses first, leaving a metallic taste in my mouth. Then something bashed against the back of the couch and sent me flying to the floor. When I finally got to my knees I saw the folds of skin oozing over the couch and pooling where I had been lying. The fleshy blanket was speckled with freckles, hairs sticky in weird patterns, and sweat glistening in beads as they rolled over every fold and curve. The skin rippled and shuffled, a heavy bulge formed and drooped over the edge of the couch like legs. It continued to waver and swell to a tune of squelches in order to finally produce an eye poking from a hole in the skin folds.

It then just… sat there… watching TV, just hanging out. It’s a fucking hot night so no wonder the blighter had the same idea as me. So I asked it “Did you really have to knock me off the couch like that? You could’ve just asked.”

The flesh pile rumbled and slapped together, making me giggle because it sounded like it was farting up a storm.

 “Yeah… yeah… but does Lizzie know where you are?”

It bubbled and gurgled in response as I sat on the opposite end of the couch. We just kept watching the screen while sweating and tolerating the heat. The channel had swapped from a cop show to late night shopping by then. Then came a clacking sound down the hallway, I looked over the couch to see Lizzie strutting past. Her bones were still bloody and sticky, no idea how she doesn’t slip and fall. A skeleton also doesn’t seem to walk or run; it struts and glides around the room like it’s walking on air.

Lizzie’s skull rattled, jaw clicking and gnashing before her garbled voice said “Sorry mate, I’ll mop all this up before daylight.” We had learned the summer heat combined with leaking bodily fluids on the ground led to a horrific stench. She plodded over to the couch to find her flesh “So that’s where you’ve gone.”

 “Ah don’t worry Lizzie, it’s all good. I know that bastard doesn’t always want to stick around when it gets this hot.”

 “Yeah nah, it’s not good, mate.” Lizzie shrugged, her bones nearly sliding out their joints from the motion. She cackled while heading to the kitchen “Seeing as we’re all up, you want a cuppa?”

 “I reckon a cold beer would be better.”

She thought for a moment, tapping her phalanxes on her jawbone “Nah yeah! I’ll join you for a round after I clean myself and everything up a bit.” She then wandered back down the hall towards the bathroom.

A few moments later I could hear the old pipes of the house complain in a noisy groan as the shower came on. I stretched out a bit to rest my legs on the coffee table while the flesh pile focused on the sales pitch for moisturiser. I reassured my fleshy friend “We’ll run a cold bath for you later”

They’ll be right, it’s just another hot night.