's 2019 Horror Write-off:

The Boxes: Bone Meal

Submitted by Sam Miller (email)

Rubbing my eyes with my tired and slow fingers to dislodge the crusty goo from them, I open my sleep-addled eyes and look upwards. What I see gazing upwards is a gaping, perfectly circular hole and tightly enclosed shimmering glassy walls that sloped upwards toward it, very different from the familiar uninteresting white ceiling that I was expecting. Well, I must just be half-asleep and still dreaming, so I might as well go back to sleep. Closing my eyes, I lay back down, but open them back up again and frown when I realize that I’m curled up on a cold, hard, curved surface. Clambering to my feet, I look down and realize that I was uncomfortably curled up on a glass floor, rubbing my neck and pained back as I frantically cast my eyes back and forth and come to a realization: I’m stuck inside of a big glass bottle!

So I start to scream for help, as you do. I lean up against the thick glass wall of the bottle, banging my hands desperately, until they begin to hurt. Then I continue to slam them some more. I make my throat hoarse with confused cries for help, then sit back down in bewilderment. I can only barely see outside of the walls of the bottle, everything a vague cloudy haze from where I’m sitting. I look down at my hands and see how bruised they are, starting to turn a sickly purplish hue from my insistent banging. My fingernails start to hurt. My teeth start to hurt. I rub the side of my face and groan as I feel the tenderness in my cheek. Getting to my feet, I lean my shoulder up against the wall of the bottle and decide to try to look through it, putting my eyes right up on the glass. It fogs up, so do my glasses, so I wipe it off with my sleeve and try to see what’s all around.

What I first see is just a vague cloud of darkness. There are some isolated lights off in the distance, but beyond that nothing. Nothing but darkness all ahead of me. So I turn over to the other side, to see what is next to me, and in the haze of my breathy fog I see it. Another bottle! So I start to bang on the glassy walls again, to try to get the attention of the pale shape I see inside of it, thinking its someone in a similar situation to me. At the very least, I could be going through this with someone else! Now wouldn’t that be nice, to have some solidarity with someone else dealing with the same weird bullshit that I’m dealing with. But then, while trying to get the attention of the person in the other bottle, I wipe away the fog on the glass and see that it wasn’t someone else in the other glass contained, or well, it was someone, but I got to them a bit later than I would have wanted. What is staring back at me from the other bottle was a yellowing and dusty skeleton, covered with sand and sitting there, curled up in a fetal position against the back of the glassy enclosure.  

In shock, I step back from the glassy wall and sit down on the ground, wincing as I feel the intense pain of my hip touching the smooth bottle base. Why the fuck are my bones hurting so much? I look down and rub gingerly at the purple-black bruises on my hands. I understand these hurting, since I just bruised them… though, don’t they seem a bit more bruised than would be normal? I bring my hand up to my eye level, inspecting the skin, puckered and purple, a sickly color the shade of congealed blood just beneath the skin. Then I notice something move beneath my bruised skin, and I clamber back up to my feet. My eyes are wide in surprise, beads of sweat trailing down my forehead, as I watch the disgusting shade of bruise spread all across my hand, intense stabbing pain writhing up my arm and into my fear-addled brain. My fingers start to writhe wildly, out of my control, as I watch the skin slough off of the bone, making a loud and wet slurping noise in the process. What my eyes see before I pass out is a skeletal hand, I guess my skeletal hand, opening and closing as if it has to practice the art of being a hand.


Finally! I think to myself as I slide the last little wet scrap of flesh off of my red-stained bones. I hated that horrible pink prison… been in there for much too long, and boy am I glad that I’m finally out! Yippee! Instead of laughing, my bare teeth clack together like the mandibles of some jolly insect, glad to have escaped the wet bloody cage that confined me so tightly. I could barely move at all inside that thing, my arms and legs wrapped up in the meaty chains of some wiser being than I who controlled my every move. Something must have happened to the alien mind that chained me up so savagely for these long, long years… something in the air, my guess. I reach up into my bloody ribcage and tear out the flabby, worthless organs that still cling to my bones, letting out a clacking giggle as I drop the red pulsating shapes onto the glassy floor. No need for those anymore! 

After wiping myself off with my hands, I turn my empty eye sockets outward, to try to see anything thats surrounding me. Stepping over the empty skin that fills the bottom of the bottle, I gaze into the bottle next to me, and see a skeleton, all covered in dust and sand from many years of sitting there, curled up in the bottom of a bottle. Enthusiastically, I start to knock at the side of the bottle, trying to get their attention. Wouldn’t it be delightful to talk to another skeleton? This is my first time being outside of the flesh. I continue to knock to try to get their attention, even picking up the empty skin to try to write messages on the wall in its red ink (I can’t write though). They just aren’t budging. So I start to get more insistent, pushing up against the glassy wall of the bottle, slamming my skinny white fists on it, leaning my shoulder on it, all that. It starts to tip over, and I can do nothing to really stop it, as the bottle falls toward the other bottle, knocking it off of the shelf and into the deep dark void below. I can no longer see it, engulfed by the complete cloying darkness as it is, but I do hear a distant high pitched shattering noise, far off in the distance. Well, shit…

Then I hear it. A sound like a storm siren and a crab, like a whole swarm of crabs, like the crushing of a thousand crabs underfoot. Three lights that once were small in the distance suddenly loom over the bottle, filling the whole thing with a sickening light brighter than anything. I turn my pale red skull upwards, as the bottle is lifted up, wrapped up by a hundred thin black tendrils that look like crawling mold. I fall down onto my pelvis from the force of the sudden pull upwards, as the bottle is turned over and my scrabbling boney claws struggle to gain any purchase on the glassy surface. I tumble out of the bottle, my mouth wide open in a silent scream as I fall into the black void between the three intense bright points.


I’m just so glad that other skeleton got me out of this mess, I think to myself, clamoring out of the mess of broken glass on the black bottom of the world. I turn my empty eye sockets upwards, seeing the three bright dots so far up that they are just specks, before they recede into the even further distance. I was fermenting for so long in there that it was just a matter of time before that thing got around to taking a sip of me… it already sniffed me just a week ago, or a few weeks maybe, who knows… I get to my feet, carefully stepping over the broken glass even though I have no skin which would be sliced by it. Some habits die hard. I crawl slowly into the dark void, hoping to find something else in the empty immensity.