And then the Spider Came Along, by P.L. Cobb. A supernatural horror short about a widower who comes face to face with his wife's killer.

And then the Spider Came Along

It was a long, dark night. The kind of long and dark where one is lonely. Loneliness was known to cause insanity … But it was also a beacon for other strange things.

He, recently widowed, sat hunched over his desk, carefully carving a squiggle into the wood with a knife. A soft whisper tickled the back of his neck; it was very slight, but still it prickled his skin. Immediately he turned around to find the source. The last thing he wanted to see greeted his wide-eyed stare.

A spectre. No–a ghoul, a mocking visage of his wife was in the room with him. It hurt him to see her decomposed body. It enraged him. Once dark skin was now maggot-white; her hair hung limp around her head like a veil. A death veil.

The ghoul was not truly looking at him, but its pale eyes were pointed in his direction.

In life those eyes had been hazel-green, he reminded himself.

The spectre, the ghoul–whatever it was–raised a hand to point at something behind him. There were, he noticed, puncture wounds running all the way up to the thing’s elbows.

Puncture wounds. His dead wife. Carefully he turned around. Above his head was the creature known as the Spider. It clung to the place where wall met ceiling, hidden in the shadows.

Slowly he stood up, and backed away from the desk. Within a clenched fist the knife felt reassuring. He had always known that the Spider would return, had counted upon it, but never suspected the time to be so soon. I buried her last week! Pure loathing, mixed with fear, set his pulse racing. They seldom have any decency.

There were things which lived beyond the scope of human understanding; the Spider was one amongst many. These beings flitted in and out of time and space. Sometimes they walked between worlds. None of what they did made any sense, save for one: they all had to feed. Hunger, even for a god-like creature, was an instinctual need. Emotions, particularly from organic life, intoxicated them; greed drove them to seek out the choicest individuals, and people died.

His wife was just one amongst many, and the Spider would not stop with just her. A vision flashed before the man’s eyes: of people running, panting, through gloom-laden woods. It had come for both of them on a camping trip. Who would have suspected that a long weekend could go to hell so quick?

It didn’t move from its perch, but it watched him with all eight of its eyes. And he watched it as it began to click its fangs.

He held up the knife, hoping against hope that his plan would not go to hell as his life had. With an unsteady hand he began to carve a sigil onto his free hand. Spider, spider on the wall. Spider, spider in the hall. When you hear the raven’s call, back to your hole you shall crawl. 

The rhyme was stupid, but it steadied his nerves. If an alien god was going to kill him, then he would invite another to kill it. When he finished carving the mark, he managed a weak smile. “I hope you don’t mind me inviting a friend!”

The Spider, the Golden Spider, held no love for the Red Raven, and vice versa. He did not want another juggernaut in his home … But what choice do I have?

The Red Raven was punctual; it answered his call immediately. Another spot of darkness filled the small office. Suddenly, the air became thin. Space became scarce as the two gods sized each other up. Before they clashed, the man ducked out of the room, shutting the door behind him.

With That Horrific Potential

“Out of all the creatures, it had to be you,” she murmured. When she had taken the plunge, fallen into another world, another plane beyond her own, she had met him: Druzi. He was the pale thing, the thing straight from stupid fiction books, things not truly imagined to their full potential . . . The things with that horrific potential that go along  ignored, purposely, for commercial gain.

She had fallen into his hell, and all he could do was stare at her. She was lying on the ground, mocking him with her advanced freedom, with her evolved life. Oh, how he hated her for it.

And the way she talked, as if she knew him from a dream. He wanted to scratch her eyes out, peel the skin away from her face, all for her ignorance. Damn. One would almost assume that he had oozed out of some dead white man’s imagination from the way that she went on. It was odd though, he realized, for she had never said a word at all–really. All she had done was appear.

Poof!

Just like a confused ghost. Druzi was at a loss for words, not that he talked much to begin with. Sometimes he wish he did, if only for a real reason for his own brethren to shut him up, beat him down, torture him, belittle him. The part of him that was human wanted to ask her: what is it like to be alive?

The rest of him wanted her to become one with the dust.

By the look on her face, he knew that he would fight her to the bitter end. And he knew, without a doubt, that she would take her own life before she ever let him win. He was a bastard, a lowly one at that, a fact that he knew too well. There was a weight to her words, one that she didn’t understand herself.

All the same, she would come to understand the true meaning of horror. Not the commercial kind; the true, gritty, unfiltered kind of horror.

He took solace in that.

While he did that, she steeled her nerves for what would come. She was, after all, a lion-hearted woman; there were no damns to give, it was all or nothing, now or never . . . That creature would not win, she promised.

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More Machen

Please, by all means . . . If I were to swim in a sea of words, let his be among many. I don’t get how someone can inspire so many people to pick up a pen and spell out something terrifying, when the man himself never truly wrote about horrors outright. His is the quiet shout. Contemplative, tempting, but not always out right. Maybe that’s why I enjoy his work; to me it doesn’t seem like it’s always trying to be terrifying. Sometimes it doesn’t try hard enough*. Somehow I always find myself coming back for me–in fact I would read his work over Algernon Blackwood (who has provided me with much reading material).

Today I finished reading The White People. Title aside, the book is more along the lines of The Great God Pan . . . Somewhat. It was a surprisingly short read, and at the end turned into a cautionary tale. The writing was good, and once again the characters were very well written. I don’t have any major nit picks, except the length (it could have gone on forever, because it ended just when it was starting to get really interesting).

So, do I recommend this book? Yes, even if it’s only to pass the time. It also has some interesting ideas.

*Sometimes it varies from trying to hard to getting it right. Nobody’s perfect.

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Beyond the Waterfall

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Beyond the Waterfall

Up in the forest, in places I used to haunt there was a lake; Lake Nettleton, they called it. Or so I’ve been told. I’m sure the First Nations people had another name for it long ago. It was a small lake that trickled down to an even smaller creek. The creek would have been a river I’m sure, if it weren’t for the beaver dam–if I called it a wall I wouldn’t be that far off the mark, for it blocked one end of the lake forcing the water to enter the creek at a trickle. If I was brave, I would have walked across the dam. As it is, the waters of Lake Nettleton set me on edge.

If you followed the creek it would take you to a small waterfall. I know this because to use the paths that circled the lake one would have to cross a makeshift bridge (which was three wooden planks, courtesy of the neighbourhood) that was literally five meters away from it. The water there was shallow, and on a sunny day it was nice to dip your feet in. Out of concern for my safety I never did; the creek bed consisted of large, slippery slabs of stone, and although small the drop down the falls would have proven fatal.

In the winter there is a drastic change that comes across the land; something that was once familiar becomes alien. When you’re walking alone there is only silence, thick and impermeable. The cold air is like oil. There are no smells . . .

The waterfall was now a wild sculpture, beautiful and ugly. One day I noticed a strange scent around the area. There was nothing like it, and it terrified me. Without even stopping to think I immediately found my way to the bottom of the falls. It was all harsh white and deep blue shadows, and the air was colder. No amount of sun could penetrate the canopy above.

For a while I was content to stare at the cold, cerulean sky. The trees reminded me of bones. The sterile scene was at odds with the mysterious smell, and I soon found myself feeling queasy. After several seconds of searching I found the source. A pile of skin and clothes, and the skin still steaming. Nearby I heard the sound of flapping; it was like thunder, which was then followed by a sharp hiss.

I took care not to throw-up as I backed away.

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Girl in the Glass

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Suddenly a dismal figure flashed by in the window.

Girl in the Glass

The window looked out upon a small backyard; behind the house was the forest. He only saw her at sunrise and sunset. That was when he was six. She had scared him then, but he had been  a young boy with an imagination. When he was a teenager he had dismissed her. Now, as an adult, he wasn’t certain what to make of it.

His childhood home was old now. The family had moved away when he was around eight. When pressed for answers, no one seemed to remember why. He suspected that his parents knew something. They would never tell, though.

That’s why he came back.

He stood in the musty kitchen, looking out that same window.

It wasn’t dirty. Just warped somehow. But inside the glass, not on its surface . . . He had checked outside, and he still couldn’t understand it. It was a single-paned window, with one sheet of glass. One of the old ones, with the metal framing, and the latches that always seemed to get stuck whenever you tried to close the window. The glass was dirty on the surface, but warped inside of itself.

Like gasoline.

He couldn’t wrap his head around it.

There was a scurrying sound, and he jumped. Wild animals had taken up residence here; there was a fox, a multitude of mice and squirrels, and a pigeon roost in the attic. Nothing here though. Not even a cobweb.

Like something was . . .

. . . What?

Scaring them away?

He swung back to the window. Something had hissed at him. From behind.

And it wasn’t a mouse.

The window had grown noticeably darker, like a bruise, or something else. Outside there was a bright afternoon sun overhead.

Before anything else could happen, he turned around and bolted.

There was nothing to see here.

The Demon of the Tree

The Demon of the Tree

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*This story contains subject matter which some may find disturbing.* **Please read at your own risk.** Continue reading

Galling, Gruelling Eternity

Galling, Gruelling Eternity | The Red Raven Part 5

Cold, stiff, skeletal . . .

“How long do you suppose he’s been dead?” the woman asked. She refrained from nudging the body with her boot.

“It’s hard to say just by looking,” the other man replied. “He’s been here for weeks, or months. We’ll have to get him back to the laboratory for further analysis.” He scratched his beard.

“It looks like he’s been bitten,” she motioned to the neck of the corpse. “Everything about this case screams that it’s been staged. Do you suppose that this is a ritualistic murder?”

“Yes,” the man replied without so much as a hint of hesitation. “I know this man.”

“He’s the thief, then?”

The professor–Alec A. Chamberlain–sighed. “Yes.” It was always the thief. He had seen DeCorvi dead so many times that he had become accustomed to it; the first few times he had dreaded the outcome–it was always the same–until he stopped thinking about it. Alec was not heartless. No, far from it. Pragmatic? Yes. So far his theory had been proven true.

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Existence Without Existing

Existence Without Existing | The Red Raven, part 4

What did it mean to exist without ever existing at all? How did it feel?

Is that the illusion of self? A voice whispered.

For a moment Joseph thought about it; it was a miserable moment. Each time he came close to something, he felt numb inside, and it frightened him.

Because he did not understand. Anything. Because he did not know what was happening to him, or what had ever happened to him, or what would happen to him.

Or if there was anything at all.

“Who is the truth?” the stranger asked.

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3rd Issue Sneak Peak, Amongst Other Things

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3rd Issue Sneak Peak, Amongst Other Things

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We could pretend that it’s actually a sneak peek, and not just a reveal of the cover . . .

October 1st is fast approaching, and something wicked this way comes . . . the 3rd issue of The Enigmatic Monster is taking on a new look, something nitty, gritty, and decidedly graffiti! We’ve also made some slight size adjustments to the .pdf document to optimize viewing. Our Wordsmith is looking over our stories, wondering how we stay sane, at this very moment.

For those of you who passionately detest .pdf documents, do not worry, the entire issue will be available online for your viewing pleasure!

Some new developments have come around the corner as well. Team Monster is planning on doing another live reading! This time on a boat, in the middle of the night. We may possibly be pandering trinkets too (tiny little Theos to love and to hug, but never to feed–heaven forbid). Not in the SSM area? Never fear, we’ll be doing a recording as well.

Keep it monstrous!

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Real Vampires Don’t Sparkle

Real Vampires Don’t Sparkle

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Vampires, real vampires, didn’t nibble on the necks of nubile young virgins. They tore people to pieces and sucked the blood out of the chunks.

― David Wellington

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Something Else, But What?

Something Else, But What? | The Red Raven, Part 3

Joseph DeCorvi . . . 

Was how how the letter began. When Joseph had found it tucked neatly into his back pocket a month ago he had been surprised, to say the least. Upon reading it, it had left him in a cold sweat.

I have heard that you are the right man for this particular job, or rather, for a job of this calibre. 

At the time he had been staying at a little inn near the shores of Waridge, an island located right on the border between Cannard and Oursar. Waridge profited from the two countries in trade, tourism, and as an official border crossing (of which only two ferrying companies legally benefited from). Another thing the island profited from was numbers. Its population was comparable to that of Tarano, comprising of many cultural groups.

We sketched a map! Now you can see into the future! Wait . . .

We sketched a map! Now you can see into the future! Wait . . .

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The Thief, Mr. DeCorvi

The Thief, Mr. DeCorvi

The Red Raven, Part 2

The Red Raven . . . What was it? Where had it come from?

The man wondered as he hunkered down into the bush.

It was an idea–a symbol–an ancient being. In other words, a very good myth. Whatever any of it meant . . . He laughed to himself, a bit on edge.

The Red Raven, it was said, was the cause of dreams, the true king of the dream world. Day or night, it cast out its seeds, good or bad, to be had by the dreamer. Rich or poor, woman or man, the Red Raven cared not. The being was a chaotic agent, and therefore did not care what it did, without being good nor evil. According to many stories, the sovereign had reigned supreme, until its downfall, when it lost its crown . . . Continue reading

The Red Raven, Part I

The Red Raven, Part I

Sylvan Spider God

Like a wheel, spinning, spinning, spinning–a maddening rhythm that increases in speed–the god-creature spins and spins away, all eight of its hands a silver shimmer in the air.

Like a nightmare-creature, it sits in its golden chair. A chair made from gilded bones, which the spider god looks at fondly from time to time. The creature in question is itself a mystery: why does it spin, and who does it spin for? It is both a horror and a delight to behold; gold and silver, with black bands on all eight of it’s arms, hands, and fingers, which–in just the right light–are translucent, revealing an intricate network of veins, muscles, and sinew . . . All of which sparkle, due to the star stuff from which the god-creature was made. Continue reading

For the Love of Trees

For the Love of Trees

The Man Whom the Trees Loved is another short, supernatural horror story from Algernon Blackwood. You can download it for free from Project Gutenberg, or buy it on Amazon for cheap (in mega-pack form).

By the way, we love Algernon Blackwood. Blackwood good. Delicious, even . . .

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