The Enigmatic Monster Project: horror of all flavours

Large White Olive Branch

Written by Jonathan Kruschack

Hello, how are you? Well, I hope. What was your name again, lady? Sorry, I’ll try and remember. I’ve had better days. I think. Thought? It’s hard to remember much since . . . that day. The day, I met that giant. What? Sure, I’ll tell you what I remember, forgive me if it doesn’t make much sense. I didn’t understand it as it was happening until it was over. And I do apologize if I go back and forth with how I describe it with past and present tenses, it just doesn’t seem important now. I’m sure you understand.

The day was going as most of my days went. I was walking along, looking for food and shelter among the green of the jungle, which shaded me from the intense light and heat of the sun. By nightfall, the air was finally cool. I needed to be careful though, even though my armour was tough and strong I am not a fighter. My kind, hide when confronted, curling inside our armour until the aggressor gives up. It works . . . for the most part.

Moving along the dirt I reached the enormous lair of a giant. My kind tells tales of these giants. They are to be avoided. They often attack without provocation, as they are fiercely territorial. I didn’t believe them, though. Why would a giant care about us? And how could they even notice us. I’ve seen them from afar, and even hundreds of miles away they tower over most things, especially us. Hungry, I press onward, climbing the stone of the domicile. It took me hours but I finally got to the first ledge. I could see light, faintly. The ledge was some kind of porthole to the giant’s home. There was a ginormous netting meant to keep my kind out, but it had a tear in it. Apprehensive at first; I thought to run away, the risk not worth it. My stomach growled, though and my foolhardy pride kept my feet planted.

I was brave and I could prove my elders wrong about the giants, maybe even be like one of the truly brave who ventured into other giant’s homes and lived there in secret. Forward went my feet, rhythmically tapping as I scurried along. Upon entering the home, I promptly fell off what I thought to be a cliff. Without time to think about how afraid I was I reflexively hid in my armour, hoping it would cushion my fall. The feeling of the impact was . . . jarring to say the least. But after a few moments not being sure if I was dead or not, I realized I was in fact still breathing. Ceasing my orbicular stance I looked around my surroundings. I was on a ledge again. But the material was different. Not the stone I had climbed or the alabaster wood I’d fallen off of. This was cold, hard and a brownish grey. There was a crevice, which my kind loves as I often seek shelter in them though I could not fit into it. Oh well, what’s over OH NO. GIANT! There is a giant. Oh, please don’t notice me, please.

I had shut my eyes and prepared to curl inside my armour again when I noticed something. I hadn’t been immediately crushed by its mountain-sized fist. In fact, it wasn’t even looking at me. Exhaling, I regained some confidence in my earlier thoughts. It won’t notice me. I’m too small. Laughing at my cowardice, I began to look for food and shelter, as I was confident, not stupid. Unfortunately, there was none. Oh well, plenty of time to SHIT, THE GIANT IS MOVING! I froze. The giant stretched its elongated limbs as it rose from its bizarre throne in front of the light-creating rectangle it manipulated with what I could only assume was magic. The sound of its joints popping was like thunder, and its yawn like the roar of a great beast. Or more accurately, like the roar of a great beast multiplied by a thousand. It stretched its neck to one side then the other, vertebrae grinding loudly. It looked very tired, with its huge eyes barely open. I calmed down slightly but not much as I realized it may just be going to sleep. I resumed moving, albeit very, very slowly. Then the giant turned to face the wall where I was. I watched his brown eyes trail down, again thinking I stature too minuscule for him to care. He seemed very uninterested, which made me feel very good. That feeling died though, as I noticed he was now staring, face devoid of any emotion, at the exact spot I was occupying. Staying incredibly still, the most still I had ever been in my life unless I was asleep, I once more looked at his eyes. They were slowly focusing, fighting his sleepy state. Appropriate, because I was slowly losing any hope of a continued existence, fighting the urge to commit suicide. Please, please don’t see me. I’m not worth it I’m not HE SAW ME! RUN! RUN AND NEVER STOP RUNNING, OH WHY AM I SO SLOW? STUPID, STUPID ARMOUR! STUPID SHORT LEGS! As I cried and cursed myself the giant moved, easily crossing a distance that would’ve taken me hours in the blink of an eye. Panicking, I shut my eyes tight. Hoping for death’s grip to be gentle, quick and painless; alas, he didn’t smash me, though. I opened my eyes. He didn’t look angry. Or scared. Sometimes the giants kill because we startle them. But he didn’t look at me with any malice that I could see. Curiosity? Maybe. Pity? Kind of obligation? Yes, actually. I certainly wasn’t happy. But he did seem as if he had to do whatever he was about to do. I just hoped this task he didn’t like was called ‘Murder The Small Thing’. I saw something I’d never seen before, suddenly. A huge, alabaster rectangle of a soft material. It was flat, and the giant placed it in front of me. Why? I turned away and the giant placed it in my way again. Why, I asked again. He definitely wanted me on it. What could it be? Then I had another one of my great ideas, in a moment of hope. What if it was a makeshift vessel of some sort. A kind of large, white olive branch.

Maybe…maybe I was to be an emissary of peace between our people. Usher in a new age of peace, where we coexist in harmony. So, I stepped onto the white rectangle, finding it very soft. Ah, what comfort. He may not look happy when tired but boy is this giant friendly. He said something, I did not understand it. But there would be time to work out a way to communicate later. Come, my new friend. Let us rest and why is he folding it over me? Oh, he’s sealing me inside it.

I HAVE MADE AN ANOTHER TERRIBLE DECISION! Oh no, oh no, I must find a way out but there’s no way out WHY ISN’T THERE A WAY OUT?! Wait, I know, I’ll just curl into a ball. Yeah, that’s what I’ll do. That always works. It has to work. Please, please let it work. He’s lifting me up. Carrying me, but where? I can’t see out. Maybe he’ll take me outside his home and release me? Oh, how foolish I was. He carried me very quickly and then let gravity take me. I fell for what seemed like ages, and then I landed in a lake. At least I think it was a lake. The water was very cold. Wait, is he drowning me? I can’t get out of here and the material is taking on water and HE IS DROWNING ME? Is that why he looked unhappy? He didn’t want to smash me but knew he couldn’t let me live, so he gave me this for a death? A watery grave? THAT DUMB, GIGANTIC BASTAR–what was that noise? Why am I spinning? The water was rising very fast. Oh no, I thought. This is it. With my last gulp of air I curled into a ball but as usual, it did me no good. I was rushed down with the water, wherever it was going. I knew it wasn’t taking very long but when you’re drowning it feel like an eternity. Then, I lost consciousness and true blackness took me.

And when I…awoke, is an appropriate word for this, right? Okay, when I awoke I felt no pain. And there was no water or giants. Only you . . .

Just you lady with your robe and your big grin; I guess I can’t really call that a grin. Yeah, you totally do need lips for that. Oh well, I still like you. Nice robe by the way. I like the way it compliments your sharp, shiny thing on that curvy stick. Thanks for waking me up, by the way. So, what’s this place you’re always going on about? The sunless-lands, huh? Sounds neat. Hey, how come I hear wings?

The Devil's Fork, by R. J. Davies Mornix, presented by the Enigmatic Monster Project

The Devil’s Fork

Written by R. J. Davies Mornix

The elders had whispered about it It took forever to find. Every country, every state or province (depending on which country you were talking about) had one.  It was just never talked about. The subject was forbidden. He had to do this–it was the right thing to do. There was a heavy dew that clung to the air which shrouded everything in a light mist. His car lights were on and it was the only light he had to see by. Why was midnight so damn important? Chills crawled up his sensitive skin.

Closing his eyes tightly he took a deep breath. This was the same road he came out to in the day to check. It was the right place.

This was the right thing to do.

Self doubt began to creep into the back of his mind … Listening hard he ensured that  there was no traffic around; this stretch of road there never saw much much traffic during the day. He wasn’t surprised.

Pacing up and down, not stepping onto the center of the cross road … Biting his bottom lip hard, he could taste his bitter sweet blood. Licking his wounded lip nervously, he looked over his shoulder.

“Forgive me grams for what I’m about to do.”

Holding his breath he rushed to the centre of the cross road and pulled the spade out of his back pocket. Digging feverishly, he hacked away at the soil … The hard clay in the middle of the road meant he had to fight hard towards his goal.

Then the hole was big enough. He took the metal box from his backpack. With shaking hands he gave it a kiss before placing it in the hole. Then he quickly covered up the box with the rich brownish-red clay.

Sitting back on his heels, he frowned and stood up quickly.  Forcing himself to take a couple steps back, he resisted the urge to dig it up.

“What have I done?” he whispered to himself. Clapping his hand over his mouth he spun around to find just himself in the middle of the road.

Something came over him, he took a couple steps back to the mound and stomped on it, pressing the dirt down, then hurried over to his car. Pausing, he looked down at his watch.  One minute to midnight.

One minute to get the box back! One minute to get the box out of the ground and stop this foolishness. One minute to stop the madness …

One minute to save his soul.

“Time’s up,” a soft, sultry voice whispered.

He almost jumped out of his skin. Spinning around he saw the most beautiful raven haired woman standing in front of him. Her blue eyes were so blue they looked like they shone. Her red lips curved into a devilish grin.

“Who are  you?”

She chuckled, “Who do you want me to be?”

“I thought … I thought …” his voice trailed off.

She stepped closer and caressed his cheek with her long, cold fingers. “That I would be what? A male? With cloven hooves, bearing horns on my head?” Tossing her head back she laughed; much like her voice it was hypnotic like a drug.

He blinked and the image of the devil barring hooves and horns appeared before him.

“Is this what you thought I would look like?” a deep raspy voice asked.

He nodded slightly not taking his eyes off her or him. The monster changed back to the gorgeous woman who first greeted him.

“Isn’t this much better?” the deeply raspy voice chuckled.

She cleared her throat. “Well, you summoned me,” her soft sultry voice was back. “I know why but you have to ask for it. Those are the rules.”

“Who are you?” he stammered.

She laughed … Paused, tilted her head to the side and grinned.

“They were just stories,” he gasped.

“Were they?” she whispered.

“You can’t be real.”

“I don’t have all night kid. I’m the devil, and even I have a schedule to maintain.”

“But …. But … But …”

“Say it,” She whispered inside his mind. “Say the words.”

“I need my …,” he words trailed off as he heard  his grandmother’s words warning him.

SAY it,” she stood just inches from him. he could smell fresh baked  cookies on her breath. She  looked like an angel.

“I need my brother back. I want him back alive and healthy like he was before this accident; I want him to be alive and to live a long happy life.”

Stepping back, she had a big grin on her face. “You know the price?”

Swallowing hard he dared not to blink, but only nodded stupidly.

“Good, Jason Mathew Smith, we have a deal. I’ll see you in two years.”

“Two years?” that didn’t sound like enough time.

“Yes those are the terms. Enjoy your life,” she laughed and disappeared.

“Hello?” he heard his brother’s voice calling as he came up the street. “Hello?”

“Joey?”  Jason spun around.

His twelve year old brother came running over to him. “Jay!”

Hugging his brother, he just couldn’t believe his eyes. His brother was alive and hugging him. In two  years when the hell hounds came, he would remember this moment for the rest of eternity.

The Enigmatic Monster Project

Axendough

Written by P. L. Cobb

Prologue: The End Begins

. . . Rotting.

The dreams.

The hopes.

Everything which had been held onto with a feverish zeal was rotting away.

They were turning to dust!

One mistake had ended it all, taken everything away: his life, and then finally his love.

How cruel.

Curses. He had dealt in them before, but never in such a magnitude as this one, and never upon himself. Most had directions. This one was blind. It neither thought nor felt concerning the intended target. The thing, if a thing it could be called, plowed on, aimless. The irony of it was not lost on him.

Silver fluid traced down his hands, falling to the earth.

Her blood.

How cruel.

She had left him. No one had ever dared leave him. They feared him. She had not, but how?

Who knew?

There had been nothing he could do to change that. Now she was gone, rotting, turning to dust.

It was a mistake . . .

Forgive me, was his last thought before he was flung into the void.

A Poem found in one of the journals of Harris A. Clergue,
youngest son of the late Harriet and Patrick Clergue:

Axendough, a legend of old

A monster unspeakable from a realm untold

(Listen to my warning, and let the story unfold!)

As the legend shall go:

His heart was black,

Cold, cruel, and callous.

He wore tattered robes which hung slack

From his frame, a body deserving the gallows.

As tall as a tower,

Endowed with hideous strengths,

In short: a monster.

To what lengths

Would he go to avenge himself?

I pray that we never know,

Nay, not even myself!

With claws like knives,

The shadow in the dark

Preys upon children, men, and wives

Without leaving trace nor mark.

The spell caster casts out his curses

With neither thought nor impunity.

He has been relegated to the tales told

To children by their nurses

But fear him still, yes, for he is here

For eternity.

Who may stop him?

All is futility.

1: House of Bones

“I don’t even know why they want to renovate this place; it’s a waste of time and money!” muttered Len. “Just tear down the whole damn place and build a new house!”

The other man nodded absently. It was no secret that the house frightened Len; it was a joke amongst the other men working for the contractors. “How old did they say this house was?” he asked.

“From what I hear it’s pretty old,” Len replied.

“Too bad the original owners didn’t keep it. This house could’ve classified as a heritage site; and then the family would be rich if they ever sold it. It’d make a nice tourist spot too!”

Len rolled his eyes. “The original owners are dead, Gary!”

Was he rolling his eyes in fear? Gary wondered. He’d been working for the same contracting company as Len for four years now; Len had never acted this strange on a project before. Gary examined the walls.

They were on the second floor, in one of the three bedrooms; the current owners wanted to make the second and third rooms into one large studio area. It would have been much cheaper to tear the place down and start from scratch. Gary wondered if the current owners were going to sell the house once it was finished. They could charge quite a bit.

In order to make the studio, they’d need to knock down a wall or two. Normally he didn’t care, but this house was too old; it made him uneasy. What if the floor caved in? There were more men working below them.

Listening to Len go on about tearing down the house also made him feeling apprehensive. The man’s fear was starting to eat at him. “So what happened after the owners died?” At the time the original owners, the Clergues, had been quite affluent up until their mysterious death. It was all Gary knew.

“After their death, their children left town. No one returned. So basically the house was left to rot.” He plugged the shop vac into the extension cord. “Nobody knew why they didn’t come back to the house. A few years back there was a case of three children who were reported missing in this area though.”

“Okay,” Gary said slowly. Was that what Len was bothered about? From what he knew the nearest house was a kilometer down the road. They were also in bear country. “Get a grip on yourself, Len!” He hefted the sledgehammer.

“It stinks in here,” Len muttered.

Gary rolled his eyes. The room hardly smelled at all. It was one of the better rooms, there had been no furniture or books for the mice to chew on and there was little water damage, if any. At the most, it was dusty.

“There’s something dead in the walls!” Len groaned.

“It’s probably a rat. Shut up.” Gary made the first swing, knocking a hole the size of a fist.

“Wait!”

“What the hell’s wrong with you? Can I do my damn job, please?” Gary didn’t even bother looking at the other man.

“I see it!” It was more of a whisper than a shout; the urgency in his voice was what struck Gary. “It’s looking straight at me, Gary!” Len stared out of the window facing the backyard. All Gary could see was where the forest began. Out of curiosity Gary went to where the Len was standing, just to see if there was something there. Len pointed at a spot. “It’s right where my finger is; I thought it was just another tree. Until it moved . . .”

Gary couldn’t see anything he asked, “What are you on?”

“Life,” Len replied sourly. “I’m not seeing things. Its right in front of that birch tree. How can you miss it? It is right there damn it! Now it’s looking at you, Gary . . . Shit!”

“Move out of the way. Okay, which birch tree are you looking at? There are at least twenty of them.” Gary stood where Len had been. He followed the man’s finger to the exact spot. For a minute he stared hard. All he could see was the birch tree; the bottom half was black, and the rest was normal. Teenagers came out to this place on dares, so it would seem natural for a few to strip the bark off of a tree. He’d never seen someone strip off that much before. It seemed a bit senseless.

“Len, it’s a birch tree. Someone stripped off A LOT of bark. That is not a monster. It isn’t anything.”

Len opened his mouth to protest, he shrugged his shoulders. “You’re probably right. I don’t know what’s happening to me.”

“Maybe you should take a few weeks,” Gary suggested. From what he knew Len was due for a holiday anyways. There were enough men, so he wouldn’t be missed.

“Let’s finish this first,” Len said. He turned his back on the window.

Gary returned to the wall. An odd smell wafted from the hole. “I think a rat died in here.”

A shout rang out, shrill and hoarse, loud enough to be heard from the main floor.

One of the workers looked up to the ceiling. “What–?”

Even before they had thought of posing the question there was a clamor coming from down the stairs, a clatter of frantic footsteps.

“OH SHIT! SHIT! OH SHIT!” was what the two workers were saying, over and over again. Their voices held a hint of terror, even a touch of delirium. Len and Gary burst into the living room area with wild eyes. Len sunk to the floor while Gary leaned against one of the walls.

“You okay?” someone asked.

“What’s going on?”

Slowly, Len lifted his eyes.

“Well?”

Gary began to sob. He started to thump his head against the wall, muttering, “No! No! No!”

Len cast his eyes to the floor. Funny that he should be so calm now. From the corner of his eye he saw the thing again. It stood outside one of the windows. He tried not to scream. His words came out in a choked whisper. “There are bones in the walls.”

Once the proper authorities were called in the house was scoured from top to bottom. Inside the walls numerous skeletons were found; most were estimated to be the remains of children aged three to ten.

The house was confiscated, and then left abandoned . . . again.

2: Always a Sad Shadow

Three years passed by since the grisly discovery at the old Clergue estate. The house had been forsaken this time, left to rot by itself . . . rotting.

The garden out in the front yard had soon grown into a tangled jungle that blocked the wretched place from view. The people who drove by down the road were relieved at the prospect of NOT having to look at the place. By now everyone knew the story.

He, it, sidled along down the dark corridors. They were truly empty now.

What a blessed relief! Oh to be rid of those horrid reminders. But now that the ghosts of the past had vanished, he was all alone.

Atonement. Once seeming ridiculous, it was now an unattainable dream. He would always be a sad shadow. He would creep along in the dark, afraid to show himself to the light of day.

Then he would rot.

Alone . . .

A soft rumbling caught his attention. Looking in the direction of the noise, Axendough let out a soft hiss.

Not alone anymore . . .

3: The Root Cellar

Let’s go for a ride, they had said. Let’s do something different, something cool!

So that’s what they were doing. When asked to be the driver Susan had said sure with a smile, all the while thinking fuck you.

What was she, their chauffer?

She drove down the quiet road hitting ninety kilometers. All the windows were down, and the radio was blaring. It wasn’t that she was bitter . . . just a tad disgruntled. They always asked, because she was the only one with a license to drive.

At least they asked,

The sound of the rushing wind competed with the sounds of Fleetwood Mac. Their older songs, though. They were the best.

“Can you switch the song?” Mark whined.

“No,” said the others, two girls and a guy. Mark didn’t like most of Susan’s music, which was fine because she didn’t like most of his. They were evenly matched in that regard.

Susan caught Mark’s eyes roll into the back of his head. Drama queen! She thought. “Hey, I know what we can do tonight!” she said. “Let’s go to the old Clergue estate! Apparently they found the bones of children in the walls!”

“Oh gross!” Hanna wrinkled her nose. She was a bit squeamish, that one.

“Sweet!” That was Jake. “Its five minutes away, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, it’s pretty close by,” replied Susan. She scanned the fields. The house was hard to miss unless someone knew what to look for. She spotted it on the left. Susan carefully pulled into the unkempt driveway; partway through they had to get out and walk for the remainder of the trek.

Unkempt was an understatement.

The decrepit building loomed up like a giant, bathed in a warm orange light. The sun had already begun its descent. Twilight was fast approaching.

“I really don’t like this,” Hanna whispered.

“Why are you whispering?” Mark asked.

“I don’t know. You know how some people get a very bad feeling about a place?”

“Yeah?”

“I’m feeling it.”

“Sure.” Mark rolled his eyes.

“We’ve only been here for five minutes, Hanna,” Susan broke in. If they got into another fight she’d make them walk home … alone … in the dark.

“You’re serious about this, aren’t you?”

“Yes, Hanna. You don’t have to go inside, you know.”

They came to the old porch. Mosses and lichens covered it like a floral blight and where it had caved in tall thistles sprouted. Stepping around the weeds Susan went up the steps to the front door. The door handle had long since gone missing; she nudged the old wood. It fell right off the hinges with a dull thud. “Geez!” she jumped back a step.

“Maybe we shouldn’t go inside,” Jake began.

“Yeah, you’re right,” Susan agreed. “This place looks like it’ll fall. Where’s Mark?”

“I’m over here!” They all turned their heads in the direction of Mark’s voice. While Susan had gone onto the porch he had explored around the house. “I think I found the door to a cellar or something!”

“I’ll just stay here, thanks.” Hanna hugged herself for warmth. It was beginning to get cooler now that the sun was going down.

Susan went around the house. Jake remained with Hanna. “We’ll wait for you,” he said softly. Why was everyone whispering again?

Mark was crouching over something in the ground. When he looked up at her he said, “It’s hard to see at first, but this is definitely a door.” His voice was a whisper too as he traced the faint outline of the said door. Someone had taken the time to hide the entrance.

Now the question remained: what was it an entrance too?

“See if you can open it.” She was very curious. In the news articles Susan had read nothing about a secret cellar. Perhaps there were more bones waiting to be uncovered.

Mark had to dig in the sod, but he found the latch after five minutes. “Maybe the grass just grew over it?” he suggested. “People forget about these things all the time.” Mark sounded unsure of that explanation.

“I remember they used to teach us about the local history in grade school; no one ever thought that one of the city’s most influential families could do any wrong!”

“Yeah,” Mark nodded his head in agreement. “They won’t be teaching kids about this stuff anymore. At least, not the bad stuff.”

“I wonder who did it,” Susan asked. “Was it the parents, or one of their kids? Apparently their youngest son had committed himself in his forties . . .”

“Wait, what?”

“He checked himself into an insanity ward. There’s got to be some trauma associated with this place.”

“What if it was somebody else stuffing the walls?” Here was a thought. “Maybe somebody was sneaking into the house through this secret cellar at night. They could’ve murdered the Clergues and tortured their kids!”

Susan grimaced. “That would be horrible.” Mark’s idea seemed far-fetched, but it didn’t mean it wasn’t possible. No one had been able to determine who or what had been the cause of death to those poor children.

Finally, Mark lifted the door.

A black, gaping hole stared at them from the ground. Some strange, faint smell wafted up to greet their noses. It wasn’t a bad smell . . . just an odd one. It was unrecognizable.

“Who’s first?” Mark hesitated.

“I’ll go. You found the door, so I’ll find the way.” Susan descended down into the dark cellar.

The air steadily became damp and cool. It looked as if no one had been down here for ages. It seemed as if no one had ever been down here at all. Layers of dust caked and clung to every surface. Thick layers of dust gripped every surface. Susan wrinkled her nose in disgust.

When she came upon a hallway Susan stopped.

At the end of the corridor was a strange orange glow.

“What the hell?” she murmured. Looking up she saw Mark coming down the stairs. He was surrounded by a square halo. She motioned for him to be quiet, and then indicated the light; his reaction was like her own. Could someone actually be down here?

They crept down the hallway. Once they reached the end they came to a room.

At its center was an antique table. It was in mint condition. It was also very old. There was dust everywhere else except on that table. A candle had been placed at the center of the table. The candle was the source of the orange glow a small flame consumed the wick, dancing strangely in the dark. It held an unnatural quality.

Susan put her hand on the table. It was a fine piece of work. Had someone put it there to be admired? It was a small room.

So who else was here?

Just beyond the candles glow she noticed it . . .  a wingback chair.

“Huh.” Something drew her one step closer. Bending forward to investigate–

Mark poked her arm. “Hey! Are you all right?”

No. She was not all right.

Sitting in the chair was it! He . . . the dark shadow! It was not human.

It was too big, too skinny; too long . . . Everything about it was wrong. Leaning forward, as if to observe the observers . . . the thing cocked its head to one side. It turned to Susan. With a monstrously large hand it put something into its face.

It, he, the dark shadow, had put on his eyes. They shone white, colourless in the darkness, soulless.

Mark dragged the transfixed Susan past the table. In his frantic scrabble he bumped into the table, knocking the candle to the ground. Before Susan could blink everyone was thumping to the car like a herd of mad elephants, half carrying her in their arms. As the old house burst into a crackling blaze Jake was speeding away.

“Susan!” Hanna’s voice was muffled.

All she could see were those two white eyes.

What was happening to her?

She blinked.

4: The Beginning of the End

Susan blinked again.

She felt something swerve violently, followed by a sickening impact. A loud whine filled her ears. Someone screamed. Then, all for the whining, it became silent.

“I can’t feel my legs,” She muttered.

No one answered.

“Mark?” her voice was hoarse. Her eyelids fluttered but she could not open them; she whined in frustration. Through her eyelids she saw a dark shadow loom up before her. “Jake?”

No one answered. A sob nearly choked her. Someone touched her waist. “Mark?” The sensation left her . . . What was wrong with her legs?

Then the realization hit her.

“Holy shit, what the hell is that on the road!” that had been Jake. He screamed that before swerving to avoid the thing.

Hanna let out a quick sob, right before the glass shattered her face. “No!”

Yes, there had been the distinct sound of shattering glass. Susan’s body had tensed at that.

The air bags had burst out from the dashboard with a whoosh and a thud. The two at the front would have been dead a few seconds before that.

It was a few seconds too late to save them . . .

Mark . . . He was okay, but unconscious. It was him who had fallen across her legs, cutting off the circulation.

So who was touching her? A pointy object or so it seemed, was placed on her forehead. Was it a pencil?

No.

It was the thing; it was resting one of its long claws on her head.

Susan forced her eyes open to stare straight into the hidden face. Those two white orbs stared at her, or at least she thought they did. It could be looking at a daisy and she wouldn’t know the difference.

“Damn you!” she spat.

The creature, if it could be called such, drew back as if whipped. What kind of monster cringed after it had done something this horrible?

If only Susan knew.

She’d never know that she reminded the thing of someone else, someone he had lost a long time ago. Susan would also never know that that someone had given him the exact same reaction. Now was a different time though. The long years of abject suffering had bludgeoned a once proud and arrogant heart . . .

With something resembling a sigh, the creature turned away. “Forgive me,” it murmured.

“No!” she told it coldly.

The thing let out a piteous howl.

“No!” was its last word before violently dashing itself onto the ground.

The Enigmatic Monster Project

Bedeviled

By Dave A. Mornix

Too many restless nights his back was sore and he was tired of being tired. His wife kept nagging him to buy a new bed. RIP’s had a deal this week. He knew Rip back from the old days and he was always a nice guy. It was sad that he had a heart attack last month and died. The family took it hard most of them moved away except for his son Mike. It was time to pay Mike a visit and get a new bed, so it would be one less thing Kevin’s wife would nag him about.

God that woman would probably nag him to death. She even blamed him for the weather like he had control over that. Underneath it all she was a wonderful woman just not lately. If he could stuff her in the trunk just for an hour to have some peace and quiet he would. The only thing stopping him was he would have to let her out and he’d be a dead man.

No, he couldn’t do anything to his wife that was mean. Ignoring her was the best medicine for his soul and it would wind up her up so much, so sometimes he thought she would explode. Smirking at the thought he shook it from his head. No, he reminded himself he loved his wife. It was for better and for worse. What happen to the better part? Dang he got ripped off. He wondered if there was a department to report that to? Chuckling to himself he knew better.

Driving up to the lot, he parked and went inside. Mike was helping another customer. Wandering around it was a nice furniture store it had everything. Plus if you were looking for something special they would order it online for you if they didn’t have it stock. It was the only place he would shop for anything.

A young woman came over to him. “Welcome to Sweet Dreams; may I help you with something?”

“I need a new bed.”

“What do you have in mind?”

“Well I want something like my old one, but new.”

“How big is your bed?”

“Its bed size, what do you think?” he didn’t like her she was asking too many questions, she reminded him of his wife. If he wanted to be asked so many questions it would have been better coming from her.

“Its okay Arlene I’ve got this customer,” Mike patted him on the back. “How are you doing Kevin?”

“I’m good.” He nodded Mike reminded him of Rip.

“How’s your beautiful wife?”

“She’s been nagging me Mike. If I don’t get a new bed today I might be sleeping on the sofa for the rest of my life.”

“I hear you,” Mike laughed patting him on the shoulder with understanding.

“Your dad was a great guy.”

“I know Kevin he spoke so highly of you too. How about this beauty Kevin this is from a new line called Sweet Dreams?”

Kevin looked at it. It was a bed. What the hell did he know about picking one of these things out? It looked as big as the one he had at home but he didn’t know if this would make his wife happy. God he was thinking maybe he should have brought her along.

“Listen Mike I might be wasting your time here. I have no idea what I’m supposed to be buying I just need a bed, so my wife won’t be angry anymore.”

“Is that all it takes then I need five of them,” Mike chuckled.

Kevin grinned and was grateful that Mike understood.

“Here this is very similar to the one that you have now with a small upgrade since we’re getting older it will just provide that extra support. Lay down try it out.” Mike nodded to the bed.

Hesitatingly Kevin put a hand on it and pressed down. “Feels good.”

“You have to lay down on it Kevin.”

“Alright Mike, alright,” he sat down trying to get the feel of the bed. It did feel like their bed, when they first bought it, but better. Kicking his feet up he laid back. The pillow soft fabric felt like clouds. He closed his eyes and caught himself. He almost fell asleep instantly. Caressing the fabric he grinned. “I’ll take it!”

“Great let’s get you ring through.”

“Thank you … you just saved me some trouble.” Getting up reluctantly he followed Mike over to the counter. “When can I have it delivered?”

“Next week? How does that sound?”
“Too far away,” he frowned staring back at the floor model. “Can’t I have the floor model?”

“People have been laying on that one are you sure Kevin?”

“You don’t understand my wife has been at my throat lately. I think if we could get a good night’s sleep it will be better for the both of us. She was threatening to walk out on me this morning.”

“Alright, I’ll knock off 15% since it’s the floor model. Do you have your truck here?”

“Yeah outside,” he pulled out his debit card and paid for it.

“I’ll get the boys to take it out for you.”

“Thanks.”

“You did good baby,” his wife leaned over and kissed him. It was the first time in months that she had done that. He waited to see if he was going to get anything else. When she rolled over and pulled the covers up he was just grateful to get a kiss.

Grinning he was proud of himself for making his wife happy tonight. He really loved her. She was trying his patients for the longest time but there was no one else he wanted to spend his life with. Rolling over he drifted off.

Coming downstairs he couldn’t believe what a brand new bed did for the soul. He hadn’t had a sleep like that in years. He felt younger, more alive and there was a spring to his step. Coming into the kitchen his wife had made him breakfast! This was a surprise.

“You old dog, you,” she giggled and playfully slapped him on the butt.

He looked at her and smiled. Feeling very pleased with himself he was grateful for stopping by Rip’s shop yesterday.

Sitting down he began eating. He couldn’t help but looking over at his wife she was in a very good mood this morning. She was humming to herself and the kitchen looked so bright and clean.

“I’ll see you tonight lover,” she came over and kissed him hard on the lips. “Maybe tonight we can have a replay of last night. I didn’t know you had it still in you.”

She turned and sauntered off there was a swing in her hips he hadn’t seen in a while. What did she think happen last night? Whatever it was he didn’t care. As long as she was happy and holy smokes she made him breakfast. Grinning he took his time and enjoyed it. Didn’t know when the next meal like this would find him.

His day went by fast. It was amazing what a good night’s sleep would do for you. That bed was amazing. Kevin couldn’t remember the last time he felt so refresh and alive. It had been awhile. Coming home it was late, but when he got inside he saw his wife had her book club over in the living room. Not wanting to disrupt them he tiptoed to the kitchen and was amazed to see dinner waiting for him. He almost went to ask his wife whose food it was. Twice in one day! Wow he was a lucky man.

He took his time and ate enjoying every bite then washed his dishes and headed upstairs. On the way up he heard his wife speaking to the ladies and paused. He was going to go and thank her, but her words caught his attention.

“… and last night was the best sex we have ever had.”

“Way to go Kevin.” One of the ladies giggled.

“Well someone is really lucky,” another one said.

“I’m telling no one was more surprised than I was,” his wife went on.

Kevin thought well I am more surprised than you are, but said nothing and went upstairs. After a long hot shower he headed to his bed. It was a weird nagging thought that caught him as he started to drift off. If he didn’t have sex with his wife, then who did? Could she have just had the most amazing vivid dream ever? That was it! She had to have been dreaming because he didn’t have sex with her. He would have remembered that. Sleep won over. He felt his wife joining him. She woke him up and they made love. He took his time and tried to make it memorable. Afterwards he hugged her and they fell asleep. It was the closest they have been in years. It felt good and he couldn’t imagine having anyone else in his arms. Sleep was a dream.

Morning came too fast for his liking. He yawned and stretched. He glanced at the clock and saw it was after seven. His wife was nowhere to be seen. Getting up he had a quick shower then went downstairs for breakfast. She must have made him breakfast this morning he thought.

When he entered the kitchen he noticed it was the same as last night. Nothing had been touched. The only difference was the cups and saucers from the book club were in the drain board.

“Honey?” he called for his wife. She didn’t reply. Maybe she had an early meeting. Grabbing a quick bite he went outside to see his wife’s car still parked in the garage. Crap, he thought. It must have given her trouble this morning. He’d have to take a look at it when he got back. Climbing into his truck he looked at his house. Something didn’t seem right. It was like he was forgetting something. A small part of him wanted to go back in and give his own house a once over.

Shoving the crazy thought aside he headed off to work.

Since this morning his whole day was off. It was one crisis after another at work. Nothing seemed to work. Getting back home he was just grateful to walk through the door. Expecting to see his wife in the kitchen the house felt too quiet. He checked the living room. No one was there. He went to the kitchen no one was there. Walking through the whole house he found that it was empty it was just him there. Checking the phone there was messages. Maybe his wife was running late he thought.

The messages . . . one, was from his wife’s office wondering where she was. The second one was to remind them that they both had dentist appointments tomorrow. And a third one was from his wife’s office, they were looking for a file that she only knew where it was. Hanging up he tried calling his wife’s cell phone. He heard it ringing inside the house. He followed the noise until he found her purse in the living room. Picking it up he couldn’t understand what that meant.

Sitting down he began frantically calling her friends and family. No one had seen her since last night at the book club. He called the police and told them there was a break-in, he knew if he had just said his wife was missing they wouldn’t do anything.

Half hour later a police officer was at his door.

“Good evening Mr. Miller you reported that someone broke into your house?”

“Yes I did. Please come in.”

“Were any windows broken? Where was the point of entry?”

“I’m not sure.”

“Do you have a list of what was taken?”

“Only one thing missing.”

“Is it very valuable?”

“Priceless.”

“Do you have a picture of the item?”

He handed the officer a picture of his wife. The police officer looked down at the picture than up at him looking a little perplexed. “Is it earrings?”

“No my wife.”

“When did she go missing?”

“Last night sometime.”

“I see.”

“You don’t understand, she was here last night with her book club. Then she came to bed and woke me up. We had sex I woke up and she was gone. I’ve called family and friends no one has seen her since last night. I went to work this morning. I saw her car in the garage it isn’t unusual because it had been acting up lately and she would get a friend to pick her up. So I went to work and didn’t think anything of it. When I got home I checked the messages and there were two from her office looking for her. So she didn’t go to work and I don’t know where she is.”

“I understand.”

“No you don’t I know you have some crazy rule about missing people having to be gone for 24 hours, but come on lady, she’s my wife I don’t know where she is. She’s a pain in the ass, but I love her. You have to help me find her please.”

“I will take this information with me and check back with you.” The woman nodded and left.

He didn’t trust her. She didn’t look around the house for any clues and she didn’t look interested in finding anyone. He had no idea where she was. His stomach felt sick and he couldn’t think right. Sitting on the sofa waiting for her to come home or waiting for someone to call about her the hours dragged by. It was four am in the morning and he had heard nothing.

He called the police again. They said they would send someone over in the morning and he should get some sleep. It sounded like the same lady that had came by his house earlier. Dragging himself upstairs he crawled into bed and turned off the lights. At least this was the last place he saw her and he could be close to her in that way. Grabbing up her pillow he could smell her scent on it. It was a mixture of shampoo, bath soap and perfume that she used.

Closing his eyes he could almost feel her wrapping her arms around him. Pulling him against her warm firm body. Then he realized something was pulling him! Something was wrapped around his waist. It wasn’t just the blanket he covered up with. He opened his mouth to scream, but something covered his mouth and pulled him down. As it was pulling him down he could swear he heard his wife’s screaming for help. He had to help her, but first he had to get out of this Sweet Dream.

The Enigmatic Monster Project

The Picnic

Written by Chelsea

If you’re going out in the woods today,

You’d better not go alone.

It’s lovely out in the woods today,

But suffer to stay at home.

For every bear that ever there was will gather there for certain,

Because today’s the day the teddy bears have their picnic

Today was the first time little Katie had ever heard the teddy song. All of the other children, her friends, sang it aloud while they played with their stuffed teddies. Oh! Don’t get me wrong, of course Katie has plenty of toys to play with — model trains, colourful balls and pretty dolls — but she has never once owned a teddy of her very own. She has wanted one for ever so long, pleading with her mother and father to buy her one, but they never did, and poor Katie never understood why.

But on this particular day, Katie’s dreams were about to come all too true. Because there, laying in the grassy lawn of her own backyard, was a lonely teddy bear. Katie could barely contain herself, but she was also very confused: whose teddy bear was this? There were no other children around; her friends were off playing with their teddies and toys somewhere else, surely.

She wondered if, maybe, her mother left this here for her to find as a present. Could it really be true?

Smiling, Katie skipped over to where the teddy lay, and before she could say a word, the teddy leapt up and ran off, heading into the woods! “Oh dear,” she exclaimed, “I’ve never seen a Teddy do that before. Come back, Teddy!”

Katie ran headlong after him, not sure if this sort of behaviour was normal for a stuffed Teddy. She was so excited to find her new friend; she didn’t even tell her mother where she was going…

It wasn’t long before young Katie found herself very alone, and lost in unfamiliar woods. She slowed down, and walked along, calling out for her friend, “Teddy! Hello, Teddy?”

The sun was setting, and the woods were growing dark very fast. Poor Katie saw no sign of her Teddy, and she was ready to give up. But where was home?

Panic set in now, Katie frantically tried to retrace her steps. She was running through the underbrush, hoping desperately to see her porch light shining in the dark. Ah! There was a light ahead, dim but peeking up from somewhere just ahead. It was her house, she was sure of it. So she ran as quickly as her little legs could carry her, tears running down her cheeks. Oh, her mother would be so cross with her when she got back, but she didn’t care. She would be home again, warm and safe. Not far, now…

The light was brighter now. Suddenly, Katie found herself in a little meadow. There was a small table, and the scene was lit by a tiny lantern filled with bright fireflies. Standing before her, black button eyes gleaming, was her Teddy. Her eyes went from her Teddy, and back to the little scene behind him. All around the table were more teddies, all different shapes and sizes. She didn’t notice them right away, but as her eyes adjusted to the light, she noticed their faces were… deformed. But her Teddy stood there, waiting for her.

“I found you!” she laughed ready to pick up her Teddy in her arms. But out of the corner of her eye, she sees an empty lantern swinging towards her. After that, she remembers nothing.

When she comes around, she finds herself in a strange bed. She tries to get up, but she can’t move. Just then, she feels something reach around her, and pick her up. It’s her friend, Vanessa. Katie tries to scream, but no sounds come out. Vanessa takes her outside and lays her down in a pile of other teddies they look oddly familiar…

Before she could try to call out once more, a voice rings out somewhere unseen, Vanessa’s mother calling for her to come in for dinner. As soon as the door shuts tight, the teddies begin to move! They get up and stretch. One offers to help Katie up, and takes her by the hand and leads her in line with the rest as they march towards the woods.

Voices now, as some children run through the yard. All of the teddies … Katie included drop limp to the ground instantly.

“What’s happening to me,” Katie thought. She couldn’t make a sound or move at all when there are other kids around, and this scares her. The children play with them until the sun goes down, and they all scurry off to bed, leaving the toys out on the lawn.

With the first light of the stars twinkling high above, the teddies rise up. A supernatural force “pulls” Katie along with them, leading deep into the forest. She finds herself again in the mysterious clearing, the table set with a raggedy plaid picnic table cloth. Each teddy, with their misshapen forms, finds their seat around the table and Katie gets a good look at them all.

On the little log stools they sit on, under them, there are pictures. There’s a little girl about her age beneath one, and then a boy, and another child’s face beneath the next bear, and the next. Six children’s faces beam bright smiles from pictures, and slowly Katie sees their resemblance in the faces of the bears.

There’s one last, empty stool, with a picture lying neatly beside it. Katie stoops beside it, and takes a good look at the photo at her feet. It’s her, right there, all bright & smiling. And suddenly she understands.

The bears are staring at her now they look as if they’re…smiling. One of them points to a message carved into the trunk of an old oak tree where the lanterns hang.

It read:

“Salvation is in the bear

And those who own you, stop you.

Forgive them, and send them to Salvation”

There’s a muffled cry from behind, and Katie turns to see her friend Vanessa struggling, gagged and bound. One of the teddies holds a sharp knife, and offers it up to Katie, who takes it without a thought. Another bear carries fluff and button eyes, glistening in the lantern light. An empty teddy skin hangs on a low bough off to the right.

The bear who led her here shows Katie where to cut, and guides her as she carves out Vanessa’s nerves and organs with precision and care. Soon she will be one of them … another teddy.

Remember, if you’re going out in the woods today, you’d better not go alone…

Broken

Written by R. J. Davies Mornix

She stared at the cup. He had given it to her as a gift; the cup had a picture he had taken of them on it. She had accidentally broke it. Shawn had tried to give it to her as a gift and she had broken it. It was when he had asked her out on a date, two weeks ago.

The cup showed up on her doorstep with flowers and a card this morning.

Looking back at the card she swallowed hard; if only she had met him months ago. It was too late now. She didn’t have the strength to invest in another relationship. Besides, he would probably end up like the others. Allan–she thought he would be different … That he would understand … But he didn’t and now he was gone.

Sarah knew she should just swear off men all together. She had tried a few times. Allan had told her she looked like an angel. Yes, she did turn heads, but lately she felt like she was just going through the motions: smiling when expected, being cordial and kind … It all felt fake. Life felt like a dress rehearsal and she was done with the practising; she just wanted the real deal. To meet the  right person who would look at her … Really look at her and see her … And not run away.

Looking in the mirror she brushed her hair slowly. “Pretty on the  outside … Pure rotten on the inside, ” her mother would tell her that on a daily basis. It didn’t let up as she blossomed in her teens; her mother’s boyfriends would always pay her too much attention, which then spurred the wrath of her mother. It was a no-win situation.

Shawn may be different, a little voice whispered in the back of her mind. He could be the one, it persisted.

Her eyes found the broken cup. Opening the card that came with it, ‘We are all a little broken, it’s having the strength to keep striving for that love connection that makes it all worthwhile. What do you say Sarah? Are you willing to take a chance on me? Shawn.’

Did she dare call him?

She shouldn’t.

There was a knock at the door. Putting the card down she went over and opened the door to find Shawn smiling at her.

“Well?” he grinned.

A smile crept over her lips. If it didn’t work out she could add him to her pile of broken boyfriends  she had buried in the backyard. Grinning she thought, It’s not that many: only six ex-boyfriends and one nosey neighbour. Her flower garden was thriving because of their contributions.

“Come on Sarah, I’m not like all the other guys.”

“Alright,” she nodded. “Let me get my purse and we can take a walk to discuss where you are taking me out for dinner tonight.”

“That’s my girl.”

Silver and Gold

The room was dark, but upon entering it I realized I was somewhere else entirely: an empty cabin. The room was full of dust, the air was damp, and somewhere nearby I could hear the steady buzz of a wasps nest. When my eyes rested on the table I frowned.

Underneath the table an old man was curled up. He didn’t seem to be in pain. He just . . . Stared at me with some unknowable intent. A pair of golden eyes bore into me. I suddenly began to feel uncomfortable.

Sitting on the table was a small black cat. It flicked it’s tail back and forth. The cat was watching me too; it’s eyes were silver.

Perturbed, I asked: “What is going on?”

“I know the hearts of all men,” the cat whispered, if a cat it was. “I know your every desire, your every fear . . . ” it trailed off.

“What is the meaning of life?” The words flew out of my mouth all on their own.

“The hearts of men . . .” The cat crooned. Silver eyes mocked me.

“Happiness, pain, and happiness again,” the old man answered. “Love, hate, and love again . . . A never ending cycle where your kind constantly hungers for what was lost.”

“I don’t understand.”

“To live and die again each day, and never ending the endless search, until what was lost has been found.”

I took a step back. The old man wasn’t human. Gold eyes pitied me. “What did we lose?” I asked him.

“Too much.”

“Too much of what?”

The cat hissed. “The hearts of men miss their power. The hearts of women miss their freedom. Male is female, female is male. Both give and both take, while both whither away into the next life. You’re all guilty.

“I would suggest you start screaming for mercy now!” The cat began to billow out like a cloud of dark smoke.

I found it harder and harder to breathe. In a desperate attempt I turned and ran away from Silver and Gold. Silver began to cackle as Gold wailed.

“Ask for it!” The old man begged. “Just ask!”

Ask for what? I looked down at my feet; they were pumping back and forth, but I wasn’t moving anywhere. A sickening sweet smell began to fill my nostrils, and I gagged. My limbs began to slow down in their movements, growing more and more sluggish as if something were holding them. I lurched forward without really doing anything; the upper half fell while the lower half was glued to the ground. In a desperate attempt I turned back to the old man. “What should I ask for?”

Gold cocked his head to the side, and with a slight smirk shrugged his shoulders.

I sighed, annoyed at the unexpected switch in character; I thought Gold was the good one. They were both rotten. “Can I have some space please?” I wheezed as Silver began to crush me.

Nothing.

“Clarity? Sanity?”

Silver began to chuckle. The sound left a sour taste at the back of my throat.

“Mercy!”

At the word time reversed itself. The cloud or dark smoke let me go, and my legs began move before slowing down. I found myself staring at Gold, who was chuckling heartily. Silver was nowhere to be found, but I could have sworn that I heard him wailing in the distance.

I looked at Gold, my mouth working silently. After a few seconds I shut my mouth and began to leave the room.

“Come back soon!” Gold crooned to me as I shut the door.

No thank you! I thought to myself. A part of me knew that our paths would cross in the future.

The Mirror of Clades

I quickened my pace, driving myself forward into the eerie corridor. The object pressed into my body felt heavy and alive, vibrating with an anticipation that only fueled my anxiety. The corridor seemed endless as I passed door after door. The sconces lining the walls were like blackened claws.

My burden felt heavy, like an anvil resting on my chest. The further I got the more it seemed to crush me with its weight. How . . . How was I going to find the courage to go through with it?

I resumed my pace, putting one foot in front of the other with purpose. There was no point in turning back now. The corridor curved slightly, the moonlight filtering through the windows, shedding little by way of light, but I had been here plenty of times before. It was a journey I could have made blindfolded.

Suddenly two flashes of light bloomed into existence as I neared the end of the corridor. Their blue flames danced wildly in the darkness. I stared into the flame that announced my presence, the light like two glaring eyes, as if they knew what I was here to do. Pushing the guilt down I walked up to the door.

The door was lined and knotted as if it were cut from a single slab of wood, and the area around the doorknob was polished with years of use. I hesitated, my hand hanging inches from the knob like a noose while my heart pounded in my throat. The Object gave a hum of irritation and the lights beside me flickered, sputtering out, before resuming their fierce dance.

The face of my Mother and Brother flashed before me. Their cries of agony struck me as whips cracked across them. My hand trembled at the memory. I inched my hand forward, clasping the cold metal. I was the only one that could do this and courage was a warm friend to what I was feeling.

Swallowing, I wrenched the door open and walked inside. Everything screamed at me to run from this place.

Soren stood with his back to me, a pale orb of white light floating lazily above him. My heart contracted at the sight of him. Even with his back to me I could still see his face. His green eyes focused, his jaw set, as he concentrated wholly on his project. I remembered a younger version of him, his young face focused on bringing a small flame to life in his palm, a tiny thing that danced across his fingers playfully.

I pushed the memory aside. It would only hinder me.

“Soren” I spoke quietly, my voice sounding thick, “I’m sorry to show up this late . . . I–just had to talk to you about something.” I finished in a rush, my cheeks flaming.

At the sound of my voice Soren spun on his heels, his face a mask of recognition. The light above him shone brightly before going out, leaving us in the warm light of the torches.

“Aimee!” He exclaimed rushing over to hug me. “It’s so good to see you! What a pleasant surprise!” His arms wrapped around me engulfing me in his robes. The scent of mint hung heavy about him. I stood there in his arms, willing myself not to explode in tears as the stress built up. I refused to hug him back. I did not deserve his affection. Soren took no notice of it, nor of the ornate item held in my hand.

“Here,” He paused putting up his hand to prevent me from talking. “Before you start, let me get you something to drink.” A warm smile flashed across his face, slicing me like the whip across the skin of my family. A whistle broke through his lips as he crossed the small space of his chamber to a small breakfast nook in one corner. A vase of bright flowers sat on the table, shining in the moonlight.

I turned and shut the door to his chamber. With his back still towards me I turned the object around, though I dared not look into it. The object itself was an ancient ornate glass that sung with power. It froze my hands. Oval in shape, a picture of writhing bodies was carved into the back it, the faces screamed in agony as a power bore down on them. Their eyes were set with small rubies.

The glass let out a content sigh as it took in the room, consuming every detail, including the power that rolled of Soren.

With a final whistling note he turned toward me a steaming mug in his hand and a radiant smile on his face. That beautiful smile contorted with confusion as he looked at me. As he looked at the object in my hand. His confusion turned to sadness. My heart throbbed as his face took on betrayal, the question of why she was doing this plain on his face. My heart exploded with sorrow. I couldn’t do this, not to him. I started to lower the glass, before my arm suddenly froze, the faces on the mirror glaring at me.

They wanted his power, and they were going to have it.

Fear exploded through me as I desperately tried wrenching my arm away. But it was no use, it was like my arm was stone.

“No! Soren!” I cried, my desperation clawing at my throat. “Oh Gods no! I’m sorry! Please, no!”

The bones in my shoulder cracked as I tried to move away. Pain flooded my arm. I didn’t care though; I had to get it away from him.

I froze as my eyes met his, and the world slowed as I watched the glass take effect.

Like a rock against glass his face exploded in a series of fissures that spider webbed across him. The moving fissures traveled across his face like a ship cutting through water. Tears rolled down my face like a river as his handsome face was disfigured with cracks. The room behind him dulled as if the vitality was being drawn from it, the stones greying from their white sheen, the vase of flowers dying, falling in a cluster of colorful sparks that wafted into the mirror.

The mirror vibrated in my hand. I watched in horror as the picture on the back of the glass started to move, the bodies writhing and twisting as Soren’s hair twisted and ran like golden fire into the mirror, leaving his scalp bare and cracked. Cries rose from the mirror’s surface. Their wails were a chorus of sorrow and pain as the Looking Glass throbbed. Time sped up as bone appeared through his flesh, and his brown robes frayed and decayed, disintegrating into sparks. The moving picture changed. A new figure appeared on the scene as another figure disappeared.

I watched him dissolve before me. The face of my childhood friend was gone. The memories that we shared, the times they spent together. Gone. Consumed by the dark power within this thing.

My arm unfroze and I fell to the ground, staring at the spot where he stood. The wood in that spot was rotted and warped. The clean smell of his magic was replaced with the cloying scent of burnt cloth, charred wood and death.

A sob bubbled in my throat. Was this the price I had to pay? Become a murderer to save my family? I had to feed my friend to a power that he could not even defend against, because no else could get to him. Would Asmodeus be happy now, now that her friend was gone?

I dropped the glass. It rolled away on its side, but I ignored it. Instead I held myself, my body racked with sobs.  

There Was a Time

There was a time when I could talk to you. Where did all our words go? All the things we used to say to each other: the curses, the secrets, the knowledge of a time long past? I used to admire you, but now that admiration has turned into disgust; if you are not the same as you were before, then who are you now?

Who is this new daemon you have become?

Or did you really die?

Someone told me you died, but I still don’t believe it. When I hear the truth from your mouth I’ll know. In the mean time I shall have to be content with penning this letter, and more. There is always more when I get involved. You should know this Da’Kiri, we grew up together, so unless you have died you have no excuse.

You can imagine my surprise at the rumours which surround you. Da’Kiri dying? Ever since we were young someone has always tried to kill you-and failed to do so. Survival is in your blood. It’s what marks your kind: the will to live, the ambition . . . The strong desire to dominate everything. Perhaps it’s all a lie and you are still here with us. But then you are not yourself, and I am disgusted. Perhaps I am being unfair. If you have changed you clearly have good reason for it; I know you are not stupid.

What happened to you, old friend? Could the reason be related to your failed marriage to . . . That woman? You know how the saying goes: a mortal does not a good daemon make. Forgive me of my ignorance to that particular situation. I couldn’t possibly know of the finer details surrounding your relationship; I realize that you would not have proposed, let alone entered into, such a contract if you did not have strong feelings for her.  Perhaps I am wrong, and the rumours are just that-rumours. I haven’t seen you in a long, long time . . .

That says something, doesn’t it?

I had the privilege of running into one of your older siblings recently. We got to talking, and naturally the topic of your old lover came up. Is it true that you two were betrothed at one point? I honestly never knew. Your sibling didn’t go into much detail about the other woman; you fooled around with her while you were married, and your wife disappeared. They did express surprise though, surprise at the fact that you fooled around with the other woman while you were married. I assumed that you and your former lover had a falling out of sorts. Needless to say, your sibling was not fond of your former lover or your former wife.

They claimed that they had driven you mad. You. Of all creatures it had to be you who lost his mind.

We were all young once. We made mistakes . . . Oh what mistakes! But we grew up in our own times. I must admit that I began to distance myself from you . . . You grew up too fast. I cannot blame you for that; again, it is in your blood. I assume you noticed, or else you would have said something. Or maybe you were so busy that you didn’t care.

You’ve always had a hollow heart, Da’Kiri.

Perhaps I have answered my question within my ramblings. You were so accustomed to having a hollow, empty heart. You let people in, your lover, your wife, and your children.

And that was too much for you. They all hurt you! You, being so used to having to rely upon yourself, became disappointed. Disenchanted. You poisoned yourself. You wanted what you could never have, and it burned you.

It burned you!

Do you not see the irony? A proper fire-breather such as yourself being burned . . . By a creature that was once human.

There was a time when you feasted upon their blood. When did you become so soft?

-Gryndl

I, the Nothing

I, the Nothing, story and photography by P. L. Cobb

Afterwards I left the man to drift aimlessly across the universe.

I died. It was disconcerting at first, as you would imagine. I felt confused and lost. The time it took to find my bearings was incalculable. It was also irrelevant.

When I found myself I was beyond excited. No, it was more like ecstasy. The first thing I did was inhabit the body of a well-known ghost hunter. With their knowledge I set out to prove my existence.

Things didn’t play out the way I had expected them to; in my mind the joint efforts of a ghost and a ghost hunter would prove something, anything, beyond the natural realm. It turned out that what we thought we knew was wrong.

All of it was wrong.

There was nothing to prove.

I was not real.

Afterwards I left the man to drift aimlessly across the universe. Whatever happened to him? I suppose he went insane; my own antics were the culprit. I had been such a selfish prick.

While wandering through the realm of space I saw primordial beings of light and antimatter . . . Gods perhaps? Perhaps real aliens. Maybe. They had no answers for me; I never approached them to ask. A small part of me still fears death. Death beyond death?

What did it matter? I was not real.

There was something, but it was not the me I had been. The me I had clung to in life had been a lie.

I am a lie.

People always asked why their loved ones were not sending them messages from beyond, clear messages. Something, anything. I knew their pain; everything that lives and breathes feels the same pain to a degree. I used to wonder about that same silence during my time.

Now that I am nothing, I know that there is nothing to be said. It’s meaningless to the dead, the disembodied. I can’t say that no one cares. It’s just that we have moved on.

I wish you knew that. One day you will be like me.

The nothing.

 

A Gust of Wind

A Gust of Wind, story and art by P. L . Cobb

Perhaps it was the weather. It was mid-September. A gust of wind tore past her.

A gust of wind sent her hat flying off her head. Cursing under her breath she ran after it. Then stopped.

Marianna and the stranger stared at each other.

“My name is Chrystopher,” he told her, holding her hat out to her.

Marianna took it. “Thanks. I’m Maria.” That was not the full truth, but also not a lie. She turned away. “Thanks for catching my hat, Chrystopher.”

“Goodbye,” she heard him whisper.

Chrystopher watched her walk away down the bike path, twirling one of her stray hairs between a thumb and a forefinger. She looked exactly the same as she had a thousand years ago. It pained him to see her go . . . The woman who couldn’t die.

I took away everything that made you human then, he thought. You’re a daemon, just like me!

The man turned into a cloud of multi-hued mist, which then evaporated.

Marianna shivered at that exact moment. She had found her encounter uncomfortable, but couldn’t say why. “Chrystopher,” she muttered. Marianna had no idea he had been behind her.

She had checked a few minutes before.

She drew her sweater closer to her. Perhaps it was the weather. It was mid-September. A gust of wind tore past her. Curious, Marianna looked behind her shoulder.

Nothing.

“Okay, I’m going home now!” she told herself. She felt an itch between her shoulders blades, but ignored it. Where do I know him?  She wondered to herself, if she even knew him. Perhaps from another city. Then she smiled to herself, realizing how strange it all was. Where’d Chrystopher run off to in such a rush? 

Where?

The bushes, thin as they were?

Maybe he was hiding behind a rock. Or in a ditch.

By the time Marianna had walked into her apartment she had concluded that Chrystopher was a strange man. So glad I didn’t give him my real name! Marianna lifted the curtains in the living room and took a peek at the parking lot below. The lot was empty at this time. She frowned, but then shrugged. Just as she was about to fix herself a mug of tea there was a single knock at the door. It sounded more like a gunshot.

Marianna froze, waiting. When nothing else happened she crept to the door, pressing her ear against the surface.

Other than the pounding of her heart there was nothing that she could hear; she opened the door a crack at first. Marianna stumbled back, gagging at the smell of decay.

A pair or dead eyes regarded her from their place on the blood soaked carpet, sitting just a few inches from the severed head of a coyote. Fighting the urge to vomit, she crawled back to the door. Just as she was about to slam it shut her ears caught the sound of wind rushing through the halls.

And laughter.

“You didn’t like my gift? That used to be your favourite!”

It suddenly dawned on her what Chrystopher was.

Sleeping Beauty, In Death She Lay

Why does he always do this to us? a stray voice said.

Marianna shook her head again, trying to dispel that voice. It kept popping up out of nowhere, muttering a cryptic phrase or sentence here and there, sometimes speaking in what sounded like French. She was beginning to worry about her mental state. Or worse, her fate. As much as it pained her to admit it, something was up.

Why can’t you just go away? she told the voice. For once in my life things are good, and you just have to come and ruin it for me! For us!

He walks with you, waiting to cross over. The king in the shadows is here!

Marianna let out a sigh. It was never going to stop. The constant death threats, the harassment, the need to move from town to town . . . The blanks. She shuddered. You just got a draft of air in your face–air conditioners and drafts don’t like to play nice! she reminded herself.

Something had to stop.

Sooner or later someone would snap. Marianna swore that she wouldn’t be the one. Never!

The king in the shadows is here! He creeps along the secret places. He has eyes on you always!

Marianna ignored the voice. Not again, she told herself as she reached for a package of tin foil. “I am so sick of this,” she muttered to herself, thankful that no one was in the aisle to hear her conversing with herself.

Allow me to clarify, my dear: HE is watching you!

That voice sounded like an older version of herself, she mused; at this rate it was possible for her to become a paranoid mystic of some sorts. She was going on into her late twenties though. That’s probably what I’ll be like in my thirties then, she concluded. Marianna shook her head again. “Please don’t let yourself go down that dark road!” she muttered, comparing the prices of two different toilet paper brands, but to no avail.

Am I a joke? she questioned herself.

No my dear. You are just old like me.

Like us, Marianna added.

Yes, I am the old realization of the self, but essentially we are the same.

Marianna just tossed a package of toilet paper into her cart. Shopping was something she found little to no joy in–at least when it was a chore. Stick her in a chocolate shop, or a pet supplies store, and she’d be in heaven until she became bored.

Lately life had been just that: boring. Well, a mixture of boring and harrowing, if one accounted for all the mysterious harassment she had received.

Marianna never told anyone the complete truth when the topic of her moving came up. She just couldn’t. Not only would they worry but they would think that she was crazy. Nothing hurt her more than being labelled a lunatic. She loathed the thought of someone deciding herself incompetent and then stripping her of all personal agency. No one would go to that extreme. Still . . . Marianna found herself in a cold fury at the mere suggestion.

The checkout line went by in a blur. Before Marianna could blink she found herself waiting at the bus stop. What the hell? Where had she been in between?

Sleeping Beauty, In Death She Lay; story and photography by P. L. Cobb

Despite the chill the sun was still out. Marianna had made sure that it would be when she first left her apartment.

Oh well, you’re fine. Maybe it wasn’t that interesting, she told herself. It was cold outside, with a light breeze that smelled strongly of cut grass. It was a normal, comfortable smell. Despite the chill the sun was still out. Marianna had made sure that it would be when she first left her apartment. You need a car, she told herself. Then: you need another job to do that.

Sometimes it was hard to be happy. Money and the lack thereof had a way of making one miserable. When you had a voice in your head claiming to be you from a more privileged past life things were much worse. Or wrong?

The thirty-year old within her meant well but it was such a damn killjoy at times.

And damn frightening.

At times that voice would allude to the occult, otherworldly creatures, and a daemon lover, without ever going into detail. It just happened without conscious volition; Marianna had tried willing the voice to say something–anything–and found nothing. There was no one serious to talk to, except for her counsellor; more than anything she wished she could speak frankly with her parents about it. Her parents were both very religious people. Speaking with them would not end well, she feared; they already thought there was something wrong with her to begin with. Trying to explain this would result in nothing. You don’t need any of that.

As for herself Marianna was not religious; she didn’t believe in the supernatural, and preferred a logical explanation for everything. She had been raised to fear the lord, among other things. Sometimes it was hard to do anything. Anxiety and sometimes fear would take over, or try. In a way the constant moving also served as her own form of therapy. Marianna was building her confidence back up.

Marianna blinked once and found herself staring down at a woman laid out on her back. Her hands rested on her chest. She looked like she was dead.

He was standing over the woman’s body, looking down at her. Chrystopher, she thought to herself. What is he doing here? Chrystopher was the daemon that haunted her. She had also known a Chrystopher in life; she would always run into him at odd times, in every area she had moved to. Sometimes she couldn’t separate one from the other.

Chrystopher the daemon looked at the woman with an unreadable look on his face; his ears twitched, and his tail flicked back and forth. That was it. Other than that. He was standing still over the woman. Marianna, wake up, he said softly. Wake up, my sleeping beauty. He was speaking in an older French dialect.

The older version of herself whispered: the king in shadows watches and waits.

Chrystopher looked up, directly at the current Marianna.

The real one.

You’ve changed. He began walking towards her. The Marianna who had been dead had disappeared.

You don’t make any sense, the real Marianna said, feeling angry.

My daemoness, he mocked, you still have your signature temper!

Marianna frowned at him. This wasn’t even happening; was she speaking out loud to herself? Were people watching her, giving her a wide berth of space at the bus stop? You love to hear yourself talk, don’t you? Da’Kiri you’re still the same!

The daemon stopped. He appeared hurt. He also appeared to be older now, more opposing– if that was a possibility. I can see you. He said. I’ll be coming for you soon.

Marianna kept her silence. She looked behind the daemon, whoever he was, and saw that the dead Marianna was back. There were bite marks on her neck, as if she were mauled. But no blood. That Marianna opened her eyes; they were cold black pools which sucked up the light.

The real Marianna blinked and found herself lying on her bed. Her hands were clasped on her chest. On checking her kitchen she found that everything was put away in its proper place. When she returned to her room she crawled back into bed. “When will this end?” she whispered, closing her eyes.

When you die.

 

Type Imp

I live inside of your computer. Autocorrect bends to my very will. That sentence you slaved over, the one you re-read twenty times, the one you edited twenty times until it was perfect–I changed the spelling of one of the words. The spell check didn’t catch it.

Surprise!

Type Imp, writing and photography by P. L. Cobb

That essay you wrote, the one with the clever title? It just got a little scandalous!

I am the Typo Imp! Your one and only, driving you insane during the early hours of the morning down till the late hours of the night! No amount of coffee will make it stop. Nothing you do will make me leave: not a hard reset, nothing. Don’t take my word for it though. Go ahead, go and take your computer in. Pay the man’s wages.

I’m a benefactor.

Of my amusement.

That essay you wrote, the one with the clever title? It just got a little scandalous! Can you imagine how boring your existence would be without me? You can at least say (without a doubt) that someone does pay attention to you. The fact that I am neither friend nor family is another matter.

(I have some friends who’d be willing to fix that . . . For themselves. I wouldn’t recommend them. They just wanted me to let you know that they’re around; they say you watch fun movies!)

With love,

The Typical Imp.

P.S: Did you catch that? If yes, it’s only because I wanted you to . . .

Coopid, who may or may not exist, or who may be a parasite?

Down Into the Pond

Down into the pond he leads them; a wicked grin contorts his face, but they do not see it. I want to scream, to wake up. It’s useless.

I am a force of non-agency as I watch myself drowning innocent strangers.

There are two halves of me. The pond serves as the mirror, but also the wall, which reflects back at us, which separates us. The reflection I once saw only showed the one side of me, the one I live with. It didn’t look in, only outside.

When I died I broke through, falling inwards.

Then he came out. A replacement.

I am trapped within my soul, left to wonder if I am a ghost, left to wonder if this is real. Are those people truly dying; do they exist? Or are those metaphors, my past selves?

I smash my fists against the water, coming up against a wall. It greets me with pain.

One by one he dunks their heads in. When they are motionless corpses he allows them to drift off into the reeds; he leaves them to search for more. For him a few is never enough. Nothing is.

For myself there is one thing that I am confident in: that he will drown himself when there is no one else. It is inevitable.

Then there will be peace.

Then there will be true death.

Down Into the Pond, by P. L. Cobb

There are two halves of me. The pond serves as the mirror, but also the wall, which reflects back at us, which separates us.

Coopid, who may or may not exist, or who may be a parasite?

Memory Lane

Memory Lane, story and art by P.L. CobbA walk down memory lane has left me trapped. Who would have thought that nostalgia could destroy your life? There is no hope for me. No friends. No family. And certainly no destiny.

Be careful when walking down memory lane.

Ashkenaz, the ever living flame, and jerk

 

Alabaster Wight

Alabaster Wight was in the kitchen that day, spreading out cobwebs and knocking the salt and pepper shakers across the expensive flooring. Being a professional home-wrecker was a delightful but tedious line of work. She had begun to hum a funeral dirge to herself when there was a knock at the back door.

Alabaster Wight stopped to stare at that door.

Again: Knock. Knock!

“Who’s there?” she called out. Her voice was as dead and monotonous as it was the day she had died.

“It’s me, Grumpy! Let me in Alabaster, or I’ll blow this house up with you inside!”

“Screw you,” Alabaster Wight shot back. “I’m already dead.”

There was a pause. “Oh! Well in that case–” there was a distinct click.

Alabaster cursed as the floor beneath her gave way, swallowed up in flames. She could have sworn that she had heard her nemesis shout: “Have fun down there!” When she found a way out of this mess, she swore that she would give the wizard who had summoned her severe whiplash. Or a tongue-lashing.

Alabaster Wight’s days as a professional home-wrecker were over, starting today.

To be continued! 

Our benovelent/malevolent overlord, Theo Monster

Friday the 24th

Friday the 24th, photography by P.L. Cobb

Friday the 24th; that’s when my sister came rolling in. Except she wasn’t my real sister. The real one had left Sault Ste. Misery years ago. I liked my real sister. The person she had been replaced with was something else. She was one of those people, the kind of people you use air-quotation marks for when they end up in conversations.

Honestly, I think she’s the devil.

Our benovelent/malevolent overlord, Theo Monster

The Wind

The Wind, story and art by P. L. Cobb

I’m afraid, she finally admitted to herself. I am so afraid of . . . Of this place . . . And this–stranger. Or this person?

The wind whistled in her ears; she was cold and her jaw hurt, but she didn’t care. It was nice to stand in the sun. She closed her eyes. Behind her eyelids she saw something block out the light.

“Do you like this?” Someone said in an indescribable voice. It had not clear gender.

“It’s nice,” she answered. Her eyes stayed closed. The cold touch of the stranger’s hand caressed her cheek. Continue reading

Leave the Devil

Leave the Devil, story and art by P. L. Cobb

“Why couldn’t you just keep your head down?” The devil asked in contempt.

Story and art by P. L. Cobb

His hopes and dreams of rebirth lay scattered on the floor, oxidizing.

Degrading.

And then nothing.

“Nothing.” The word rang bitterly in his ears, teasing him, mocking him, flaunting his own failure for the whole world to see.

The culprit stood before him with a grin on her face. “So?” she said, curious.

“Why couldn’t you just keep your head down?” The devil asked in contempt. “I devoted all of my life into suppressing you. My life’s work is a sham and I blame you!”

“Good!” Her grinned widened. “That’s exactly what I wanted to hear!” With those last few words she turned on her heels and began to walk away, leaving the devil behind. “Blame me all you want. You’ll end up giving me more notoriety in the end! I’ll be famous, baby!” And then she laughed.

Why the hell not?

The devil stared at her back. And stared. And stared. And when she was finally out of sight–which was an incredibly long distance–he stared some more. That was all he could do. In one fell swoop she had demolished half a century’s worth of careful planning. It was like she had cut into a cake of warm butter; that’s how easy she had made it seem.

Finally he shifted his gaze. “What next?” he was stuck here in this miserable form. He would die and then that would be the end of it. How good it feels to be cursed like me! He prodded the ashes with a foot, chewing on his lower lip.

There was a steely glint in his eye when he returned his attention to the direction she had gone off in.

“Oh baby, I’ll make you famous. I’ll follow you until you love me!” he spat. “Not even the devil Himself would dare turn his back on me!”

He began to walk, leaving the remains of his old form far behind. His initial intention was to trick her into becoming a willing sacrifice. She would die, and then he would be born anew, back into his original body. He closed his eyes wistfully. He had grown up believing that all humans had low self-esteem, especially the females. If he ever came across his old mentor he’d kick his ass.

“Oh, that magnificent body of mine!

A fine bastard was I!

You she-bitch,

I’ll make you rue the day

You ruined me.

I’ll make you rue the day

That you decided to leave

The devil far behind!”

coopid

The Enigmatic Monster Project: horror of all flavours

Something Intrinsic

Written by P.L Cobb

Something intrinsic, an old instinct perhaps, something linked to her limbic system, caused her to turn around. Continue reading

Into the Hallway

Into the Hallway, writing and photography by Penny C.

He retreated back into his room, locking the door and sliding the dresser in front of it.

Writing and photography by Penny C.

Jared poked his head out into the hallway cautiously. It was brightly lit, almost blinding his eyes,but he could see nothing. On the other hand he could hear something walking across the linoleum flooring.

A great many somethings.

He retreated back into his room, locking the door and sliding the dresser in front of it. It was time to review his escape since the hallway was no longer a viable route.

Theo_icon

Old Beardless

Written by P. L. Cobb

Old Beardless stood, watching the girl at the table nearby. She knew what he was up to, but there was little he could do about it. If he moved an inch everyone would know what he was up to (or assume that they did). That was just another stroke of bad luck on his part. Ever since he had killed the last one his life had been nothing but a series of mishaps.

Old Beardless continued the ruse with a sigh. This is so damn boring, he thought to himself. It wouldn’t be long before she slipped up.

Theo_icon

A Brief Trip to Mars

A Brief Trip to Mars, written and photographed by Penny C.

When he had touched down on the surface of Mars Carlson took out a book-shaped bundle.

Writing and photography by P. L Cobb

Up, up, up. Carlson ascended into the heavens, passing clouds, passing through the ozone layer. Someone must have seen him on his journey upwards; he wasn’t travelling very fast. That thought quickly turned to other, more important things as the vacuum of space pulled at him. Carlson let out a sigh, knowing that it was his own spell that protected him from a sudden and brutal death. Continue reading