Month: October 2014

The Skinning Ice…

©Tanya Grout



My memory dragged itself out of lockdown. It had been deep in a coma, a dream perhaps, or some other state of unawareness. Maybe it was drugged. Whatever the case, it was annoying.


It scared me. How could I trust a mind that wouldn’t reveal details about a few moments ago, that wouldn’t tell me where I had been and what I had done?


I urged it to take me back to the last thing it remembered: a day of work followed by the gym and dinner with my ex. Then a few drinks: Bourbon on the rocks, “Old times…” Bad idea all around.


Time was missing – a lot of it. When were those drinks and how did I get from that bar to this harsh reality?


I was walking on ice that stretched far out over a frosted psychological landscape, blinding in its ghastly sameness and terrifying in its unending expanse.


I looked at my bare feet. They left red stains like I was trudging paint. No, it was too watery for paint… It was more like blood!


I looked at my soles. They were burned from the cold but they weren’t bleeding. It must be someone else’s blood…


I turned back to see an endless trail of red prints on white. I could retrace my steps, go back to the source, find out what happened – but I wasn’t sure I wanted to know what I had done this time – that is if I had done anything.


See, this was the thing with my mind: it always made me guilty. It wanted me to suffer. If I didn’t know what had gone down, it would just make shit up for fun. I knew this, yet I still bought into it every time. I got caught up in the story and the environment it created. I got lost in the details and then I’d question myself. Was this real or a fabrication? And then I just wouldn’t know.


It was a punisher, an endless thinker and a twister of facts. It made me feel like a bad person, even though I had never done most of the things it convicted me of.


In fact my behaviour was usually flawless, as I was terrified of making mistakes. If I did my mind would thrash the Hell out of me. I hated playing games with it. I would never win. And now it had sent me to Siberia to play MindFuck 101 !


Anxiety brought me back to my present dilemma: I’m walking with bloody footprints, from nowhere into eternity, holding a knife… A knife!


It wasn’t there a minute ago. I know it wasn’t. See this is what I mean. It’s cruel to do that. My mind put that knife there to complicate things. And now I was naked too, with scratches all over, like I’d had a big fight – one that I’d won by the looks of it.


Goddammit, I hated this place. I wished I could get out – out of my fucking mind! It was always painful in here and I was trapped again like a hare in a snare.


A hare in a snare…


Okay, so I’d fantasized about killing him, several times – even when I saw him over drinks. He’d screwed around. What can I say? But that doesn’t mean that I did it, does it?


If only I could make contact with him to make sure, make sure that he was still alive, that I was in the clear, that I hadn’t…


But I was out here all alone – just me and my thoughts and the details of a possible murder: the evidence in my hand, on my body, my feet.


Fuck it, I’ll just run. They’ll never find me. I’ll hide in this friggin ice desert. God knows no one else is here – that is if I don’t die of hypothermia…


Oh for Gods sakes, I’ll turn myself in. I’ll confess just to stop this bullshit, this torture. I’ll accept the punishment. “I’m sorry, so sorry,” I’ll say. Then there will be forgiveness and a jail sentence or something. God knows, I was serving one already in my brain.


I walked faster, away from the alleged crime.


I yelped, then fell to my knees from a searing pain. I saw cuts. My feet were bleeding now, as were my hands from the fall.


This new ice had razor blades slipping out of its surface in perfect symmetrical lines that covered the entire beyond. I would be ripped to shreds and skinned alive if I moved any further. Could it get any worse? Wasn’t this fucking endless freezer bad enough?


Goodammit! I’d have to go back. Face it, face myself. Or, I could just stay here and die..


“Shut up!” I whispered to myself. “Shut the fuck up!”


I took a deep breath in. I closed my eyes. I let the breath slowly out.

Breathing in, breathing out until everything disappeared, got quiet.


Finally calm, I opened my eyes.


Midnight, downtown. Jack-o’-lanterns filled the town square, their grimacing fiery faces flickering with evil. Cold white flakes kissed my skin as my feet shuffled into a fresh fall of snow. I’d been sleep walking again. Naked. Embarrassing. I always walked to the same place.


This was where I saw him a year ago. He was stealing kisses from that girl, like a teenager under the sheeted ghosts that hung from the town clock as it struck twelve – not caring how I would feel or how devastated I would be.


His betrayal had left me confused and lost. I kept looking for his love like I would a stolen object – unable to fathom that it was no longer there where I left it unguarded, or that someone would take it.


I guess I was still confused, haunted.


A kind man put his coat around my shoulders. I looked up. It was that cop with the soft eyes.


“Come on Brit,” he said gently, I’ll take you back. You need to rest up. The trial starts tomorrow…”


©Kym Darkly




Night was falling fast in the mountains. Dad had planned it that way. He’d said it would be thrilling when the car swept over the top of that last hill and we’d see the sun setting on the beach down below. It was a perfect getaway to celebrate my eighteenth birthday.

“This place has a real energy to it,” he’d said, “You’ll see.”

It was all ice cream and switching radio stations; it was all hair flying out of the sunroof; it was laughter and silly jokes until something brushed over my face.

I wiped my cheek, as I would having stumbled into an unseen web from an invisible spider. Funny how they crept around like ghosts: the colour of day, landing like special ops, spinning their traps undetected.

But this wasn’t a spider or a web.

A swoosh came this time, like a wind made of soft filaments that flipped my hair up and back. It brushed a harsh invisibility over my nose and mouth, blanketing and blocking off air. It seemed to hush me with a soothing sound – urging me to be quiet, to be still, but I struggled none-the-less.

My eyes peeled open, stabbed with fear at the prospect of not being able to breathe… until I realized that this strange energy was breathing for me. It had gotten inside.

Dad looked into his rear view mirror. “You’ve gone quiet back there, missy,” he said.     

Mom, pat his leg, “Leave her alone. All girls disappear into their own heads…”

The filaments were attracted to her lyrical voice and they grew, reaching their hungry fingers over and into her mouth, probing around gums and a wolf tooth that I admired. I could feel the slender threads; feel what they were doing, like they were a part of me, a part that I hated.

Shocked by this unsuspected dentistry, mom pulled the mirror down from above. She could see nothing but her own startled expression and the involuntary movement of flesh that rippled over her teeth, as the energy explored underneath.

She tried to speak, but this strange, unseen power quickly formed needle points that pierced through each lip – jabbing in through the top, pulling down to the bottom and sewing all the way through. Her mouth was sealed within seconds.

She tried to scream but all that came out was a high-pitched squeal.

Dad looked over. Mom’s face alarmed him. He could see the outward bulge and blue crush of her stitched lips, and her stretched eyes, bitten with shock.

“Chris?” He said.

She flagged him with her hand, urging him to pull over.

The energy expanded, leaning over and rolling onto him. It pressed his hands back from the wheel forcing them up into a surrender position.

“What the Hell?” Dad yelped.

The wheel was turning by itself. He’d lost control. We all had.

The force pushed down on dad’s foot, accelerating the car up the last hill at an impossible speed. All three of us stared straight ahead, pressed back in our seats like astronauts launching into space.

As we hit the top of the hill we flew high into the air like Evel Knievel on his last drag race against comets across the sky.

Here it was: the crusted ocean and sun setting over a stunning beach. And there truly was an energy to this place, as dad had said, but it was bigger and more powerful than we could ever have imagined, and it wasn’t good.

The car took a sudden turn in the air and veered off to the left. It flew across the road below and over to the open edged cliff.

Dad tried to grab the wheel, but the energy wouldn’t let him. This whole landscape was its space. It had fully moved in. No one was welcome here anymore… No one, that was, except me.

As the car zipped over the rock face, the graveyard of obliterated vehicles below came into view. Gravity took hold and the car hit a quick descent.

We barely had time to consider our impending fate – but I wouldn’t have to, as the force threw all of its might around my little body and yanked me out through the sunroof, away from my parents, up into the unlit, dusky space above: suspended in the sky.

The car crashed so far away that it looked like a cartoon puff – of destruction, of death.

The force carried me back over the cliff and placed me on top of the hill. It let me down gently as if I had floated in on a grieving black cloud.

Deep pain took me to my knees. I crumbled and cried like any girl would. I was inconsolable – unable to believe that my parents were gone.

Deep in the middle of night, alone and moonless on top of the hill, I started to shake. I was unsure of what this thing wanted from me. I wondered if it would unclasp its grip on my own life, or if I would be enslaved to do its bidding, whatever that might be






“You want some brains on toast, love?” Mrs. Bennett asked.

“What?” I replied.

My head shot up from the Old English sheepdog, whose ears I’d been massaging.

I knew that English fare didn’t have a great reputation and that times were tight, but had the folk in this tiny town resorted to eating one of the body’s most treasured organs?

Mrs. Bennett held a small pot in my direction. I wasn’t sure if I should look inside.

“Beans?” She asked. “Beans on toast?”

In the firelight I could see the orange mush of what might be construed as either beans or brains, especially when as delirious as I was, but she had set my mind straight: They were beans.

“An English delicacy, Mrs. Bennett, I would love some,” I said cringing at my failed attempt to not be condescending.

I was starving. The flight overseas had been long and the train to the cozy B&B in Cornwall followed. In truth, I might have eaten brains on toast if that were on the menu, but I was relieved that my bread would hold a more savoury item.

After my fourth “cuppa tea,” I finally convinced Mrs. Bennett that it was time for bed. I had lots of exploring to do tomorrow, what with beaches and castles to visit. Besides I couldn’t keep my eyes open another second.

She was reluctant to let me go but finally she agreed, after forcing me to eat just one more custard cream.

Very full, I ascended the rickety old stairs up to the snug attic I had rented.

“Best keep the curtains closed an’ the winders shut,” she warned.

I nodded my agreement, as Mrs. Bennett had a deep look of fear in her eyes that was unusual to the Cornish. She’d grown up in a rough part of London, I justified. It was a city thing.

I intended to do as I was told as I was spooked already, what with the wind whistling through each pane of glass like lost ghosts, but I chalked it up mostly to being exhausted.

The attic was dark and cold. I used an oil lamp to help me climb into bed, which snuffed out of its own accord, as I drifted off into a dark dream.

At three a.m. I awoke abruptly, falling. My face smashed onto the floor. I was instantly aware that I had been punted out, shoved by someone or something. I scrambled up quickly and flung open the curtains for light from the moon to see if there was an intruder, but all I saw was a wagging tail.

“Salty?” I whispered.

The dog snuck out from behind the bed.

“Did you hoof me out?” I asked, but Salty ignored me and ran to the window. He put his paws up on one of them and drew up to a tall stand, peering outside, curiously entranced.

I walked over and looked through the windows also, snuggling into Salty’s soft fur. There was such raw beauty out there. The ocean was wildly ravaging the cliff – each furious wave smashing the rock and throwing its white crust up to be licked by a silver lunar shimmer.

I took a deep breath. Suddenly I felt so alive, like I’d consumed something that gave me great power, exuberance, energy and joy – a feeling of being unstoppable, free and completely connected with everything and everyone.

I opened the other window so as to inhale the scent of the ocean breeze, but Salty snarled, then snapped at me and ran off with a whimper. I stared after him – what a strange dog.

But when I looked back, I saw them. At first I couldn’t believe it. Was I imagining things? They were coming in the hundreds, crawling up over the cliff like silverfish.

Coming into view, their forms seemed similar to humans, but a bit off. There was something odd about them, their movements perhaps. They had longer arms and glowing eyes. They appeared to be naked but had no organs to define them as male or female. They also had no hair. Their bodies had a soft silky sheen that slipped quickly towards the cottage.

As they drew closer I saw talons where there would be hands and claw-like teeth – protruding and sharp.

They had a way of jumping through time, jumping forward as if they had slithered a long distance within a fraction of a second.

Before long they had climbed up the side of the cottage and were suddenly scrambling onto the mini terrace outside. Overwhelmed, I tried to slam the window shut, but body parts got caught in the frame and there was no stopping them.

They glared with eyes that that seemed to communicate feelings and thoughts with shots of light, in different hues, that flew out and bent towards each other: receiving and transmitting.

Their tempers turned violent as I tried to hold them back. My hands received deep scratches and lashes. I was even bitten on my arms by their very sharp teeth.

I made the decision to run, but Mrs. Bennett was standing behind me holding a baseball bat.

“Best be movin’ outta the way, love,” she cautioned.

I ducked just in time as Mrs. Bennetts bat swooshed at a body, that had crept up behind me, knocking its head off completely. The Silken flesh fell back as its airborne noggin bounced off a wall and back toward Mrs. Bennett’s feet. She whacked the skull so hard that it spilt in two and the teeth fell right off. She then swiped it to the side ready for another go.

Mrs. Bennett did this to ten more bodies before she whistled loudly at which point, Salty came bounding back up and chased the rest of the intruders out. They seemed terrified of the dog.

She was in no mood to answer my questions, as I had broken her rules.

“I’m really sorry,” I tried to explain.

“Well now you know, she said collecting her loot in a laundry hamper.

Salty dragged the headless beings back to the window. I instinctively followed and climbed through helping to throw them off the terrace. This place had a strange effect on me.

As they dropped to the ground, the corpses were ravaged by hundreds of their own kind. It was a cannibalistic gore-fest, ripe with gushing vermillion – illuminated perfectly by the brightest moon I had ever seen. I had to turn away and move inside as I felt a need arise, one of wanting more. I closed the window and pulled the curtain shut.

I could feel that we were safe inside. If it weren’t for Mrs. Bennett, I thought, those things might have eaten me, but instead I felt invigorated and so did Salty.

I followed him out and down into the kitchen, where old Mrs. Bennett was shucking brains from skulls.

“Like some brains on toast, love?” she asked.

I nodded slowly, suddenly aware of why I felt so good. Those “beans” had been brains and they seemed to have a magical property, like a super-drug.

“Sure,” I said, “I think I’d like that.”

“We’ll have ’em buttered this time,” she winked.

“Lovely,” I said, “I’ll make the tea.”


© kym darkly


kym darkly 1

They were in the walls, scuttling. At night I could hear their blood-sucking probes chiseling at the gyprock. They were coming. They could smell me. It had been three days.


I’d heard about them on the news, but only on the paranormal Channels. No one believed in the Scuttlers, but they would when they saw the video. They all said I was paranoid, but they’d see.


The camera was set up across the room by Freddie Fangs. Nobody fucked with Fangs, well except me of course. Stupid, stupid! But I was desperate – jonesing. I needed the money, man. I woulda fucked anybody over for one more hit. Anyone woulda done it. Anyone. Well, anyone like me anyway.


Thudding drew my attention back to the wall. The first hole appeared in the plaster. My stomach lurched. A probe slowly made its way through. It was violet, glowing in the shadowed room. It had a beeping sound. And there were black eyes at the back of it – large, scanning. Its probe seemed to be communicating with the others, letting them know that it had broken through.


Hundreds, maybe more, thundered together. The buzzing and dull thumping of their bodies made my heart beat faster. Their probes pounded and cracked at the wall – all focused on the same little spot until it split right open.


Like a blast of neon purple light, they flew right at me, three inches long, each. They were in the thousands.


My hands flew up to fend them off, but I was shackled and my arms could only go so far. As one zoomed in at my cheek another stabbed my eye. I screamed and wrestled with the chains.


Another tore into my throat and slipped under the skin, ripping up and down the inside of my neck, sending searing pain up into my face and down into my chest.


One Scuttler plunged its probe deep into my ear and pummeled in and in and in until my eardrum burst.


“Oh fuck! I shoulda picked the oil drum and the cement!” I yelled thinking it a better death.


The Scuttlers got under the rest of my skin quickly, tearing up and down my whole body, cleaning the derma off from inside until I became a raw piece of breathing meat – skinless meat. I felt like I was being burned alive, the pain so intense that it finally disappeared altogether. Shock can do that you know.


Jabs between my ribs turned into entry points and soon the Scuttlers were inside the cage of me eating my guts and organs feverishly: sucking, chomping, inhaling.


I’m not sure at what point I died. It could have been the piercing of my heart or the savage rip of my aorta, but I found it more peaceful to watch it all from above.


It was like looking at art. They were beautiful creatures with their luminescent indigo hues and gossamer orange wings. I liked watching them clean my body of its tissue. I didn’t need it any more. They were economical, using every last piece of flesh to fuel their little bodies, in turn revealing my skeleton underneath.


I didn’t have to watch my torture and death like a coward on a video. I got to watch it first-hand. It was fascinating.


Acceptance blew over me. It was good to be free of needing a hit. They set me free, these Scuttlers. Maybe they knew I was a good one to take, given all the pain and anguish.


This was the best way to die, I considered. Having been consumed by them I became a part of them and I started to enjoy the lightness of their flight and the power in their attacks.


Though I felt at peace I also felt excitement. I couldn’t wait for them to attack Freddie Fangs when he came back for his tape. He’d be expecting to see a body eaten by rats, but the rats had been ravaged long before we arrived. I was looking forward to the terror on Freddie’s face when the Scuttlers swarmed him, as they had me.


Yes, it was going to be an interesting death…

© kym darkly