The Devil’s Own Night
It was later than normal, darker than normal. A strong wind whistled about. Somewhere a dog barked with nervous energy. Closer-by, someone’s back-porch windchimes busily tinkled out harsh claxons of warning. A metal trash can paid no heed to the “Children at Play” sign, rolling past her as though it had someplace important to be.
A taxing day was nearly over. She just wanted to get out of her heels, to pour a glass of wine, and to relax. Winnie was now all that stood in her way. “Come on, Winnie, just do your business, already!”
This night‘s wind was strangely warm, and absent of rain, lending to the night an eeriness which reminded her that tomorrow was Halloween. She made a mental note to pick up a bag of candy or two on her way home tomorrow. Looking around, she hoped for better weather tomorrow, for the children’s sake. Overhead a steady stream of cloud silhouettes raced through the washy glow of a low-hung, cartoonish moon. Across the way, beyond the dim light of an outmatched street lamp, an obscure tree-line swayed wildly, with partially bare limbs flailing their desperation overtop rooted, concrete feet. From the wooded copse loud cracks, and crashes carried over to her through the gales while the crinkling leaves of a dying summer cascaded to the street in waves, skittering in scratchy circles there beneath the underpowered street lamp. She should probably get inside.
No matter which direction she turned her head wild strands of hair found her eyes and mouth, so that her free hand was unceasingly tucking it behind her ears. With her face bent downward away from the gusts she pleaded with Winnie to get her business done, but Winnie, oblivious to the harrowing night, continued her sniffing, and stalling... a dog’s repayment, she supposed, for the extra time spent home alone, as work had kept her late once again.
Another ear-splitting crack drew her eyes back to the copse. She saw something this time that she hadn’t noticed previously. Beneath the lamppost, amongst the circling leaves, stood a man. How had she failed to see him before? Something besides the warm wind produced a shiver inside her. “Come on Winnie. Let’s go home.”
When she started back, the man began walking as well, unhurried, keeping pace. She lifted up on Winnie’s leash, pulling the little dog along behind her. “Come on, Winnie!”
Winnie saw the man now. She stopped walking, and snuffled the wind. She pulled against her leash, emitting a low, menacing growl that added to the woman’s unease. Winnie was a friendly dog, and liked everyone. She whispered to the dog through tight, angry lips. “Stop it, Winnie. Come on!”
Once away from the lamp the man was hard to see. She peered in his direction, looking for movement, but his dark clothes blended in with the dark woods behind him. She could make out just enough to know that he was walking faster now. She felt a stronger surge of fear this time. She pulled the startled dog to her with the leash and scooped it up in her arms. Even tucked in safely against her the dog continued its growling. She walked faster, her heels clicking hard on the asphalt. The man had pulled slightly ahead. He started across, slanting toward her side of the street. In a few moments he would be between her and her house. It was probably silly. She was being irrational. The man was probably a neighbor, and harmless, but she began to run anyway.
She could not run fast, not with a dog in her arms and with high heels on her feet, but she felt an undeniable urgency, so she ran along as best she could. She was quickly winded though, and slowed back to a fast walk. Winnie was barking now, her little body rigid as she pulled it in closer in a failed attempt to comfort. Across the way the man broke into a jog of his own. She panicked now. He was faster. Much faster. He was going to cut her off. She stopped walking. “Who are you?” She yelled. “What do you want?” Her voice sounded unusually weak beneath the howling wind, and the barking dog.
The man made her side of the road a good twenty yards ahead of her. He made no attempt to answer her questions. She wondered if he had even heard her? She wanted to turn around, to go the other way, to put distance between herself and the stranger, but that would take her further from home, further from it’s safety. If she could stall long enough a car might come by. If one did she would flag it down. The man turned around and started toward her.
”What do you want?” She screamed it this time, desperate to be heard. She tried to make out his face in the shadows, his expression, but could see nothing. She was truly panicked now. “What do I do?“ She repeated the words over and over, her mind blank. There was pepper spray in her purse, and her phone was there too, but her purse was on the table beside the front door. She had only planned to be out for a minute. How careless she had been!
The man was close now. Her every instincy screamed “Danger.” Not knowing what else to do she turned and ran in the opposite direction. She heard his footsteps behind her. A whimper escaped her as a strong hand grasped her bicep. Winnie snapped viciously at the hand, and it let go. She was crying now. She ran faster, as fast as she could. She ran for her life.
She was pushed violently then from behind. Winnie yelped. The little dog flew from her arms as she sprawled face first onto the rough, unforgiving asphalt. Ignoring the pain, she rolled herself over to find him looming over top of her. She struck at his shadowy face with both hands.
“Leave me alone! What are you doing?”
There was no answer, but neither did he move away. She was caught. There was nothing to do but surrender. She stopped struggling. “Are you going to kill me?” She asked him.
His voice was low, steady, calming when it finally spoke, more like a teacher to a pupil than a man about to commit murder. “Yes, among other things.”
“Why?” Her voice was somehow calm too.
“I was sent here. All of these years you have gotten treats., but this year is different. This year I am your “Trick-or-Treat.”
”You were sent here?” There was desperation now in her voice. “Sent by whom?”
”Ah!” She was able to make out a twisted smile in the shadows of his face. “Now there is the question. You will find that out soon enough. I am here to take you to him, but I am only the messenger.”
There was no more sound but the wind as cold, boney fingers circled her neck.
Nothing in particular seems to be extraordinary about the present moment, yet I feel a sudden subtle nagging to investigate, as if a clue to something mysterious is courting my attention away from my book. There is this festering scab on my left calf from a mosquito bite that stubbornly won’t seem to heal. Could it be there is an infection coursing through my veins sending a warning signal to my brain? Or could it be that the gas line in the fireplace is about to come loose again, silently threatening to poison the air that I breathe? While I contemplate, a single gnat has been circling in front of my face, just inches from my nose and as I attempt to reach for it, it seems to disappear, as if it really wasn’t there in the first place only to return again and I am beginning to wonder if it is just an illusion, only a figment of my imagination.
A sudden ricochet sound catches my attention from the back of the house as if something has possibly been knocked off my bedroom bureau. I am sure I had let the cat out, but then again I have been getting a tad bit forgetful of late, so I better get up to check things out. Nothing seems to be out of order in my bedroom, so I step back out into the hallway and walk towards the back door to call in Mittens, and there she is as I suspected, coming up the stone path under the reveal of the full moon sauntering, as if to ask me,
“Really. Do I have to come in?”
After closing the door, I sort of decide to ignore the implications of the noise I heard, considering that my hearing is also not what it used to be. Maybe a racoon or some other critter has just fiddled with something outside and as I turn around to walk back to my reading chair I notice something on the floor in front of me that I had not seen before. It is small, rectangular, and brown. Leather? A wallet? A man’s wallet? How peculiar. When I pick it up, of course I check the bill fold first. Who doesn’t hope for some unexpected cash, and the thought takes my mind off the possibility that a strange man may have entered my house without my knowledge. But no. No cash, but there is a license with the picture of a handsome young man, name: Phillip Antonia, birth date: December 12, 1992, dark hair, dark eyes, sharp features, the kind of guy I would have been attracted to as a young woman, so even though this is so very odd, I still feel no reason to be afraid. There must be some explanation.
The thought occurs to me to look him up on the internet and see if there is a phone number listed for his address. Bingo. I have no idea what I’m going to say to him, but I’m typically pretty good at getting information out of people having been a data collector for most of my career, so I dial his number planning to wing it.
A woman with a raspy voice answers the phone.
“Hi. My name is Sarah (why offer my last name). Is Phillip home?”
“What do you want with Phillip?”
“I actually found something of his. Is he home? Can I speak to him?”
There is a long pause and I wonder what she’s thinking and whether or not I’m going to get to talk to Philip.
“Listen, umm, Sarah. I don’t know if you are legit or if you are some kind of cruel prankster. I am a close friend of Philip’s mother. Philip has passed away. His body was found in the Allegheny River earlier today and his death is being investigated as a homicide. You may have heard about this on the news? If you have anything of Philips, I suggest you turn it over to the police. I’m going to give them your number; I’m looking at it right now on caller id; so they will be getting in touch with you if you don’t call them.”
Suddenly me; never at a loss for words me is tongue tied. Searching my memory for clues, I consider the possibility that I may have just unknowingly made myself into a suspect. Even more frightening is the possibility that I am not just a suspect, but guilty, having had some kind of black out and killed this young man?
“Sure. Sure. No worries. I will call the police right after I hang up the phone with you. So sorry for your loss.”
And I hang up having no idea how I will go about explaining finding a dead guy’s wallet on my floor that literally seems to have fallen from the sky.
I sit gathering my thoughts knowing I have no other choice but to call the police when I see that damn gnat is back. This time he flies right into my eye and I begin to rub it and it stings like hell so I run into the bathroom to look for some Visine. One eye closed, my peripheral catches a sideways glance of myself in the mirror, and my peripheral vision knows everything is wrong, as wrong as when you just know life as you once knew it to be is about to be over. The knowing comes like a light bulb about to burn out, flickering just before the illumination in the room fades out. And I know I must force myself, and I do, although apprehensively, turn towards the mirror.
It is then that I recognize, as if he had been there all along, Philip Antonia is the only one in the bathroom mirror, and the only one in the room, staring back at me.
Jeu de Cartes
His father stood beside the still body of his mother. He gave a blank stare when Bryth asked, ‘‘What happened to Mom?’’ Bryth stopped in his tracks with fright when he saw the blood on his father’s hands.
Did this man kill his mother? Bryth gasped and ran as fast as his feet could go. He dashed out of the small house, around Dandy lane, and just kept running, and running until he was out of breath.
Then he looked around and scratched his head. He had never been in this part of town before. There were so many lines of stores in this area.
Some of them looked familiar. One store caught his eye. It looked like a video game store.
Bryth walked into the store and said, ‘‘Hello~’’ Then in a few seconds, he heard a reply, ‘‘Welcome young man.’’
The young man stared at the skeleton man. Bryth tried not to stare for too long. He could not help it. Why adults still dressed up for Halloween was a mystery to him.
He was surprised at how well this guy’s costume was though. He looked so much like a skeleton, or death really. Especially with the way you could not see his eyes. It was as if you were looking into a black hole.
Bryth followed the owner of the store. He told the young man to pick anything that he liked, it was on the house. The young man smiled. ‘‘Seriously? Thanks!’’
He felt like he was in a candy store. How could he pick only one thing from the store?
There were so many games to choose: he spotted the Monster Hunter video game series (that came with the virtual reality headset), the League of Warlocks: Into the Magick Realm, The ShadowMan collection, Into the Maze (Flight or Fight), and then there was also a deck of cards that glowed a golden colour.
Bryth saw the owner of the store nod his head. Was he able to read what was running through Bryth’s head? Hmm.
He reached for the deck of cards, and felt a jolt of electricity course through his body. What kind of cards were these?
The owner of the store smiled & said, ‘‘Be careful with those cards, kid. They may not look like much, but they can make you feel invincible.’’
Bryth thanked the owner for the cards, waved goodbye and walked out of the store. The moment he was back home, he checked the kitchen first to see if his Dad was still around.
The room was quiet. Not only was his Dad not there, even his mother’s body was now missing.
Bryth scanned the dining and living rooms, too. Nothing. The house was too quiet.
Then he remembered he had a deck of cards. He pulled the cards out of his jacket pocket.
As soon as he opened the deck, the cards went flying out and surrounded Bryth. The cards floated around him, and then came to a halt.
Bryth looked at the back side of the deck of cards. There were no instructions. The owner didn’t tell him exactly how this deck worked.
The sound of the front door opening made Bryth jump. The man that killed his Mom walked into the living space and saw his son.
He looked at Bryth and said, ‘‘Your mother is gone, boy. She’s never coming back from the other side.’’
Bryth tried to hold back the tears from streaming down his face. He was going to make this man regret killing his mother.
The cards started glowing. This time they glowed from red and then turned black.
A card appeared before Bryth’s eyes. It showed an image of a basilisk. Then another card to the right side had an image of a maze. Bryth grabbed the card to the right and flicked it toward his father.
The man laughed at first, but soon started to scream when a Minotaur emerged from the card. It growled and pulled the mortal by his sleeves. Then dragged him into the maze in the card.
Bryth clenched his fists and the cards swirled around before piling on top of each other. Right after that Bryth picked the pile up from the floor. He saw the Minotaur charging toward his old man before it twisted the man’s head off from his body.
Well, this deck of cards took care of his mother’s killer. Maybe he did make the right selection after all.
31st Oct., 2020.
“Need anything else, Granny?” Lauren asked, leaning against the doorjamb.
“I’m fine, dear,” her granny replied, letting a twinkling smile escape. “I sleep like the dead anyway. I’m sure I’ll be out like a light in a matter of seconds.”
Lauren smiled. That was true. Gran had always been a deep sleeper. Even years ago, when Lauren was still small and woke up scared in the middle of the night, she’d rarely ever been able to shake Granny awake. Lauren would have to be consoled by curling up under the covers next to Granny and pretend that the monsters couldn’t see her there. Now that Lauren was grown and had a place of her own, it was her turn to take care of Gran.
“Sleep well, Gran,” she said, and started to close the door.
“Wait a moment, Lauren dear,” Gran said suddenly. Lauren stuck her head back into the room.
“I know this sounds silly,” Gran continued, “but just on the off chance that you wake up in the middle of the night and see me walking around the house, don’t worry about it.” She paused as she looked down and scratched the back of her head. “I’ve, uh, I’ve been sleepwalking lately. Several times in the past few weeks I’ve woken up on the floor or holding something of Bob’s in my hand. The doctor says it’s probably related to the emotional trauma of Bob’s passing, but that it’s harmless and will pass eventually. But I wanted you to know. Just in case.” Lauren frowned but nodded in understanding.
“You sure you’re okay, Gran?” she asked.
“Oh, yes, dear, I’ll be fine. If you do run into me tonight, standing in the kitchen looking confused or something, don’t be alarmed; just gently guide me back to my room and I’m sure I’ll go right back to bed.” Her mouth pulled into a consoling smile, and Lauren returned it, though it didn’t remove the unease that had settled in her gut.
Lauren finished her nightly routine and got into bed, pulling the covers up to her chin. It was late fall, and the nights had been growing increasingly frigid with the threat of snow perpetually in the air. Thankfully, Lauren was prepared, with blankets piled on top of her a foot high, and she fell asleep quickly.
Later that night, something roused her from a deep slumber. Instantly awake, Lauren raised her head from the pillow slightly and perked her ears toward her cracked bedroom door. There it was again. It sounded like a shuffling noise, like someone dragging their slippered feet across the wood floors. And now a scraping sound. It was coming from the direction of the kitchen. Her granny’s warning came back to her, and Lauren sighed. She really needs a full-time caregiver, not just an occasional visit to her granddaughter’s house. Lauren would do it if she could, but money was too tight right now; plus, Lauren wasn’t even home half the time.
Soaking in the warmth emanating from beneath her layered blankets for another second, Lauren took a deep breath and threw them off, then jumped up and slipped her fuzzy bathrobe on. Her room was near to the kitchen, so she stepped across the hall and into the doorway of the dim kitchen. She shivered when her bare feet touched the cold floors. Darn, should’ve grabbed my slippers, too.
Instead of going back for them, Lauren stood still, letting her eyes adjust to the gloom. There, on the far side of the room, a wispy figure stood. Lauren’s heart skipped a beat, but she forced it to settle with another deep breath.
It was just Granny. Sleepwalking Granny. Good thing Gran had told her about her latest habit of nocturnal wanderings or Lauren would’ve been scared stiff getting a glass of water in the middle of the night as she sometimes did.
She took a step forward into the kitchen, balancing on the balls of her feet to avoid the shockingly cold floor. “Gran?” Her voice came out raspy, so she cleared her throat and tried again. “Granny?” There was no answer; her gran simply stood in front of the sink, apparently looking out the window. A faint shaft of crescent moonlight fell across her face, illuminating the poof of white frizz haloed around her head.
What am I thinking? Lauren thought. She’s not going to answer me, right? She’s asleep! Duh. Or at least I hope she doesn't talk to me; 'cuz that would just be creepy.
Gingerly, Lauren took another step into the kitchen, and another. Suddenly, her toes slammed into something solid, which skittered across the floor and into a cabinet with a loud crash. The harsh noise made her heart bullet into her throat and she gasped. Placing a hand on her chest, Lauren’s eyes fluttered shut as she tried to get her breathing and heart rate under control.
“Crap,” she muttered. Then she wondered, How did I leave something on the floor last night? That’s totally not like me. She definitely should’ve turned the light on before venturing into the dark kitchen like an idiot. “Yeah, like the idiot in the horror movies that always gets murdered first,” she said out loud. The thought sent a chill down her spine, so she shook it away and looked up to where her granny was standing--or where her granny was standing.
Granny was gone.
Lauren blinked, stunned, then darted her eyes around, her head whipping back and forth as a feeling of dread soured her stomach. How on earth did Gran get away so fast? She normally needed her walker, or, at the very least, a helping arm to support her. And Lauren hadn’t seen the walker anywhere in the hallway or kitchen.
Cold feet forgotten, Lauren rapidly crossed the kitchen and stopped near the sink where Granny had been. Looking down, Lauren saw what looked like the peel and core of an apple. This sink had been spotlessly empty when Lauren had gone to bed last night. Sleepwalking Granny liked to eat apples, then? That was the only explanation. Except for the fact that Granny hadn’t eaten anything hard since she’d misplaced her dentures several months ago.
Lauren pivoted on her heels, about to go search for her granny in the next room, when she felt something wet and sticky under her feet. With a grimace, she looked down and saw she’d stepped in a small pool of dark liquid. She grabbed the nearby roll of paper towels and hurriedly wiped her feet off, but had trouble completely removing the sticky, partially congealed substance.
“Darn you, Gran.” Lauren sighed. It looked like Gran had broken into the jar of caramel apple dip. Like, literally, broken into it. Though, Lauren didn't see the jar anywhere. But it was dark in here. The shadows made the details easy to miss. She considered wiping up the rest of the spill, but decided it was more important to find Gran and get her back to bed first. “I’ll deal with this mess in the morning,” she told herself.
Before she could decide which direction to search for her gran first, Lauren heard a low chuckle coming from the dining room. She froze, her blood curdling in her veins. That didn’t sound like Granny’s soft, tinkling laugh. But it couldn’t be anyone else. It must be a strange effect of sleepwalking.
Lauren forced her feet to start moving again and walked on shaky legs toward the door leading to the dining room. With the large sliding door to her back patio, the dining room was somewhat brighter than the kitchen. Lauren stopped in the doorway and immediately spotted Granny sitting at the head of the table. First, relief trickled through Lauren, followed by apprehension.
Gran had something in her hands. What was she doing? After a few seconds, Lauren realized Gran was slicing the apple and dipping the wedges into a bowl of caramel dip at her elbow. The movement was all slow, precise, and methodical. Gran never stepped out of that set rhythm.
A shiver wracked Lauren’s whole body; she didn’t think it was related to the cold, either. Because as she watched, Lauren saw her granny carefully dip an apple slice and place it in her mouth with a crunch. But Granny couldn’t chew. She had no teeth.
“Granny?” Lauren called out again, her voice cracking. Granny didn’t respond. She just kept chewing and slicing and dipping, her unseeing eyes trained on the wall opposite her. Lauren’s feet moved slowly across the room, an unexplainable dread seizing her insides. She watched Gran the whole time, who never deviated from her rhythm or stone-still expression.
Lauren came to a stop at Gran’s left side. “Granny?” she said, her voice barely more than a whisper now. “We need to get you back to bed.”
Gran was unresponsive, her wide-open eyes still staring straight in front of her, the methodical crunch, crunch of her supposedly non-existent teeth echoing in the stillness while the knife in her hand went shript, shript, slicing through the white flesh of the skinned apple to clink on the china plate beneath. Then the glup, glup of the apple wedge being scooped into the bowl of viscous, dripping caramel. Slowly, slowly, Lauren reached out her hand to lay it on Granny’s arm.
Lauren’s fingertips grazed the paper-thin skin of Gran’s arm where the sleeve of her nightgown had ridden up. Hesitantly, Lauren closed her fingers around Gran’s slender wrist and gave it a gentle shake. “Gran?”
Gran’s movements came to an aprupt halt. The crunching and the cutting and the scooping all silenced and for a few seconds, total stillness reigned. Lauren’s already shallow breathing all but stopped.
Granny delicately laid the knife down on the table, and without warning, twisted her face toward Lauren and looked right at her with an unblinking, fixed stare. Lauren’s heart gave a terrible shudder at the sight of Gran’s sharp, bony face and sunken eye sockets that gave her a ghoulish appearance in the shadowy room. Lauren swallowed with a gulp and began to pull her hand away, when Gran reached out her other hand whip-fast and snapped it around Lauren’s wrist. Lauren pulled harder, but Gran’s grip was unyieldingly tight.
“Gran? What are you doing--” As Lauren tugged, Gran suddenly opened her mouth and let out another of those foreboding cackles. Lauren’s jaw dopped open and she barely stifled a scream at the murderous glint in her granny’s eyes and the dark caramel sauce streaking her granny’s teeth like blood streaking the fangs of a ravenous wolf feeding upon a helpless lamb.
Lauren’s heart was pounding so hard now and her mind was racing to figure out how to snap Gran out of this terrible...whatever this was. It was unnatural. Otherworldly. Horror-movie-worthy. She had to do something, but she was slipping into a state of panic, and who knew what would happen to her in this brain-stunted terror.
Come on, Lauren, get a hold of yourself! Stay calm. Use that smart brain of yours and do something. Come on, come on...! Lauren racked her brain. Wake her up. That’s it! Wake Gran up, and it’ll all stop. She’ll drop this maniac murderer stuff and go back to normal.
“Okay, Lauren, do your thing. Wake her up,” she murmured to herself, partly to help summon her courage.
Lauren tugged again, but Gran’s hand was still glued to her wrist, Gran’s ice-blue eyes nearly glowing in the moonlight like someone possessed. Lauren’s eyes darted frantically around the room. The light. Maybe if she turned the light on it would help shock Gran back into consciousness.
With a massive tug, Lauren jerked her hand out of Gran’s grasp, but Gran’s grip was so strong it pulled her up out of her seat into a standing position before Lauren finally managed to free herself.
Lauren backed away slowly, keeping her eyes on Gran, who still grinned that glowing, teeth-streaked smile, but as Lauren backtracked, Gran matched each step with one of her own--steady, strong, full of intention, coming toward Lauren. The moonlight glinted off something in Granny’s right hand, and with a startling realization, Lauren recognized it as the knife Gran had been using to cut the apple. When had Gran grabbed it from the table? Well, she had no time to consider that now. She needed to wake her gran up, now!
Lauren stumbled backward in a rush to reach the light switch near the kitchen door. She refused to turn her back to Gran, so she reached her hand behind her, blindly feeling around the wall for the switch.
Gran kept coming forward steadily, holding the knife in an unnaturally strong grip and flashing her black-streaked smile like an evil witch coming to sacrifice the defenseless maiden.
Where was that switch, dammit?! Finally, Lauren’s fingers brushed against the knob of the switch and she flipped it up. Light flooded the room, momentarily blinding both of them. Lauren’s eyes adjusted faster, so she had a few seconds of stillness to fully take in her granny’s figure and the horrifying fact that the lack of light had caused her to sorely misjudge the color of the sticky substance Granny had been dipping her apples into and which now coated Granny’s teeth.
It wasn’t caramel sauce.
It looked sort of like ketchup, but darker, thicker, stickier. Lauren had a feeling it wasn’t tomato-derived. She became aware of something in her fisted hand and looked down at the crumpled paper towel that she’d used to wipe her feet: it, too, was smeared in a dark red fluid. That puddle of liquid on the kitchen floor...it was--Lauren shuddered violently, not willing to believe that Gran was actually a murderer. Maybe she’d accidentally cut herself or something. But Lauren didn’t see any signs of blood anywhere on Gran’s body or clothes--except for the streaks on her teeth and lips.
As Gran came out of her temporary blindness, Lauren’s heart beat at an incredible speed that had to be breaking a record, and her breathing was so rapid she feared hyperventilation. She felt like she was stuck in some kind of waking nightmare, like the terrifying episodes of sleep paralysis she used to get as a child. She struggled to wrap her mind around what was happening right now: her granny was actually trying to kill her!
Wake up, Lauren! Move! Do something! she shouted at herself mentally. Wake Granny up!
That’s right. She had to wake Gran up and everything would be all right.
Somehow, she found her voice. “Gran! Wake up! Gran!” But Gran kept moving toward her, forcing Lauren to back up along the wall. Too late, she realized Gran had trapped her in the corner of the room. She had nowhere to go.
Like a deer caught in a headlight, Lauren stared petrified as Gran raised the knife toward the ceiling, the sharp point aimed directly for Lauren’s heart. Then, with another chilling cackle, Gran struck.
At the same time, Lauren screamed as hard as her vocal cords would allow, and some sort of innate survival instinct made her duck down into a crouch. She heard a menacing thud right above her head, exactly where she’d been standing upright just a moment before. Another louder thump followed.
In her panic-induced state, she sat there frozen, her legs drawn up and her head buried under her arms, even though her brain was yelling at her to move, get out of there. But her muscles felt like jelly; she simply could not make them budge. Helpless, Lauren waited for the second strike, for the pain of the knife being jabbed into her skull like it was a ripe pumpkin ready to be gutted.
A second passed, then two. Then five. After ten seconds, Lauren let out the breath she’d been holding unconsciously. After twenty seconds, she finally jolted herself out of her frozen state enough to lift her head.
Trembling, Lauren cracked her eyelids open and took in the moonlit room. Her gran was lying limp on the floor, eyes closed, her empty hand open and loose, the awful bloody grin wiped away like it’d never been there. She looked like a ghostly shell of the bloodthirsty monster she’d just been. Hesitantly, Lauren twisted her head up and around, and saw the knife still embedded in the wall of her dining room.
Lauren let out a sob, her body shaking from head to toe. Somehow, she got to her feet and nearly tripped over Gran’s arm as she stumbled forward. At second thought, Lauren turned around and watched anxiously for a sign of life; Gran’s chest rose and fell in a gentle rhythm. She was still asleep.
Lauren backed away and tore out of the dining room, through the kitchen, and into her room, where she slammed the door shut firmly behind her. She leaned against the door, her pulse wildly out of control and her breath coming in stilted puffs.
But what the freaking heck was that? A highly extreme and violent case of somnambulism? And was Lauren really just content to stay in the house the rest of the night with the threat of being murdered by her demon-possessed, sleepwalking granny?
That was a hard pass.
Lauren grabbed the bag she used for weekend trips and began packing it haphazardly. She’d go down the street and stay with her friend for the night, and then...well, to be honest, she didn’t give a care what happened to her gran at the moment. Likely, she’d just be conked out for the rest of the night and wake up with no idea of the horror that had gone down.
But the blood?!? And the teeth? And the fact that Granny had been strolling around the house like a fit thirty-year-old? That was all just too...wrong. And frankly, freaked Lauren the hell out. She kept stuffing random clothes and items into the bag. After a few minutes, deciding that she had enough for the night or however long she’d have to hide out from her homicidal granny, Lauren zipped the bag and stood up.
She started toward her closed bedroom door, but halted in her tracks when a light tap came on the door.
Then, Granny’s crooning voice: “Lauren, dear, you awake?” Lauren did not dare move a muscle. “I thought you might want a midnight snack,” Gran continued. “How does apples and dip sound?”
Over the Moon
Hunting. Always hunting. Her ethereal body prickled in anticipation at the sound of prey moving into her trap. Every noise echoed in the panicked hush of the woods she encircled. Each twig snapping, each bone chilled shudder, each bemoaned cry as a foot fell wrong through the mossy rocks. But the trees sheltered her prey, their hammock wide and unblinking. A thousand evergreen stares peered back up towards the Huntress.
Then! A sudden gasp of air; frantic cast net eyes gleaming out from the dark forest below. She swooped in eagerly through a breach in the clouds, her talons like silver shrapnel shredding through the soft skin of the poor human girl.
A terrible cry pierced the night sky, like the first bullets on a once silent battlefield. Falling to her knees before crumpling in the clearing, the girl was at the mercy of the Moon. Trilling out rhythmically, a machine gun fire of sobbing racked the body of the young woman caught in the single glimmer of moonlight that descended through the terrible scene.
Cold, serene, the moon did not hesitate, she cupped the girl in a gentle, unforgiving calm- setting a chill softly into the human's delicate, delicious bones, until soon the crying became soft moans, and sooner after a peaceful silence purred from the girl while she slept.
It did not matter the little human's name. Nor the circumstance the Moon had whispered into the dreams of the wolf like men around the girl that led to the blood staining the girls colder and colder body. What mattered was the Magic. Sleeping into the Earth and the trees and kept far from the rivers that would wash it all away. Before the girl was just meat, before the scavengers were brave enough to steal pieces of her flesh that the Moon had no use for, before she was even born, a seed of Magic had made its way into her. Like so many other Human girls. "So undeserving," the Moon hissed to herself.
The moon did not feel sorry for the embrace, she felt no guilt and would give no penance. She feasted, hungrily, until again she was a full, beautiful, lucious Moon. Round and perfectly spherical, hung in the heavens like a goddess, to be worshipped. It would not be until she began to wane again that she would need to hunt. The decaying body of this girl would tide her until then, but already, like clockwork, she had set her spell into the dreams of others. Others who would unknowingly help her With the next kill.
In The Dark of Night
I am the shadow that follows your ever waking moment.
I am all that which you long for, yet fear most, for you live in a world of fantasy. A fantasy I will make happen, and then suck you into my void where you can scream all you wish and never be heard.
You laugh now, scoff even at my words. But when the clock strikes midnight, when twelve ticks pass, your life becomes mine to do with as I please.
Perhaps, when in my realm, you may recognize others from your world—life that had disappeared who live out their empty existence as you will.
They will point, stare, and call youj wretched names, reach out and claw and tear at your flesh so you will look as they do. The forgotten. The unhuman vermin that roams in my darkness.
Your pleasures will no longer matter, and my pleasure only just begins. To hear you scream, to watch you bleed, to hear your cries of an unending, unyielding torment that will last beyond any forever you ever imagined.
When I come for you, do not think about running, for no matter where you go, I will be there waiting to take you to the dark side of the Nether Regions of the one true Divine World.
I am the Lord of Hell, my father, the King of Darkness.
And once you arrive, the midnight madness in your mind will begin—and never end.