fear

BATTLEDRESS…

He scared me some and I always hoped that when I saw him, I’d be on the other side of the street. He’d just start yelling and I didn’t understand because I was just a kid. It was the helmet and fatigues that got to me. Why was he wearing them? It was like he was still in the combat zone and we were his battlefield, this quiet, lonely town.

 

I wondered why he had no help or care. Didn’t anyone love the man with the broken mind, the spirit split in two by the war? Did his family desert him, walk past him on the street as if he were a stranger? Were they afraid to take him in?

 

What about his country? Did we give him enough food and respect, or was the medal we pinned on him compensation enough for all he’d given up? Was he just to rummage through garbage cans, screaming at “the enemy” – townspeople fleeing as if they knew he had murdered and they were next? Was he to spend each winter under discarded cardboard boxes, on top of steam-filled grates? If so, it didnt seem fair or make sense to me.

 

I tried to talk to him but he was too far-gone. He never saw me, even when my terrified hand offered some bread. Those ghosted eyes bore right through mine. They were lost to something that wasnt here and wasnt now. I couldn’t think of anything more terrifying than a once healthy mind that was cracked off from itself.

 

By the time I was a young adult I’d been trying to suppress something that also tortured me. I had this empathy, this way of getting inside someone and feeling what they felt, seeing what they saw. I hated it mostly. It could be painful, but there was one thing I wanted to know: what went on inside this soldier’s head?

 

I was nervous but I couldn’t let it go. It was obsessing me. So I sat in the park one day and watched him, waiting for the opportunity.

 

After he secured a half-eaten sandwich and some pop from an open can, he sat among the birds, cursing them. I watched his breathing, imitated the ins and the outs. I got in sync. He was getting agitated. His breathing became shallow and rapid. His mind was firing up and so was mine.

 

Suddenly I was in:

 

Iraq 2003. We were there. Three man team – Humvee. I’m a gunner: combat military police. Patrolling freeways looking for roadside bombs. Then out of nowhere – Boom! An explosion. Heat, force, dirt flying. Scared shitless but all safe. Lucky this time. Adrenaline. Laughter. Holy fuck. Need to come down. Need a drink…

 

The soldier was flipped out of this memory by his mind going blank, and so I got bumped out also. I stared at him, amazed to experience such a terrifying ordeal. Suddenly he got up and retrieved a small bottle of whiskey he’d hid under some autumn leaves. He drank it back, whipped the bottle away, then hid behind a tree. He scoped out two people walking through the park. His eyes were back on the enemy.

 

Again I tapped into his breathing, relaxing into his mind:

 

Back in the Humvee – a different day. Orders are “shoot on sight.” Two people wearing enemy uniforms. This was a no brainer. Even though they weren’t shooting at us, I took the opportunity. I shot them both DEAD! DEAD! A strange euphoria filled my body. The greatest orgasm ever felt. Flying higher than possible on any drug. Alive, knees weak, attuned to every little thing. Screaming, “I got em. I got em!” High fives from below. I was out of my fucking mind. Killing was amazing!

 

Then that crushing feeling. Getting sucked into that deep hole of fog. The guilt, the madness. Thrill turned to anguish. “Look what you fuckers made me do! I took lives. I took them!” I felt feverish, like I wanted out of my own body. I cycled down into depression, such a lowness of spirit, such damage inside me. I wanted to put a gun to my own head. I was confused. What was I to do? My orders told me I was right, but my soul told me I was wrong. My body enjoyed it. Was I sick or just an animal with no control over how I would react? I sure as fuck wasn’t ready for this.

 

Sobbing broke me out of the man’s flashback once again. I took some deep breaths, glad to be out of his dark spiral. The freedom I had. Holy! Now I understood the cycle, the insanity. Day after day reliving just a few moments that had altered his life forever. The judgment calls that weren’t his, that asked him to go against everything he’d ever been trained to be: a good person who respects life.

 

Now I understood why I liked him. A human can’t live in the mind of a machine.

 

I wanted to rip those fatigues from his body and tear those memories out of his head, but I was powerless. I just had to let him be. This was his fate – to be forever haunted by the ghosts that he’d created.

 

The last time I saw him, I plucked up the courage to thank him for his service. I was grateful that he’d done what he thought was the right and honorable thing. Again he stared right through me and I felt sad that he’d sacrificed his mind for us, so that we could be free…

©kym darkly

THE ENERGY…

©Tanya GroutFOR AUDIO VERSION SCROLL TO THE END

 

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

©KYM DARKLY

 

 

BRAINS ON TOAST…

©Tanya GroutFOR AUDIO VERSION PLEASE SCROLL TO THE END.

“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, thank you,” I said cringing at my failed attempt to not be condescending.

I was actually 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 savory 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

SCUTTLERS…

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

OVUM: THE CREATURE INSIDE…

kym darkly 1

Sally dished the egg out of the boiling water with a teaspoon and washed it under cold water. Her gaze was far off, watching the latest abduction story on TV, “That poor little girl,” she said, “Only five years old. The terrors of this world.”

“Mom!” Evan cried.

Sally looked back. The egg was rocking on the spoon. Something was trying to get out, cracking the hard shell with little jabs from the inside.

“Oh dear lord ‘n Jesus!” She crossed herself. “If that’s a live chick in there, I swear I’ll never eat an egg again.”

But then she got curious; surely nothing could survive twenty minutes of boiling.
Sally moved her face in to get a closer look, but it wasn’t a beak pecking that shell. It was a blade-like limb that suddenly shot through the broken milky surface, just missing Sally’s eye. She dropped the egg into the sink with a yelp.

Evan stood on tiptoes to watch it shake, rumble and smash against the steel sides.

“Step back,” Sally urged.

As Evan leaned in closer, a sharp metal face broke violently through the brittle encasement. Evan gasped at its crystalline eyes, which held him captive in an instant. He was entranced.

Wretched spindly arms and legs covered in viscous white membrane reached out pair by pair and pulled the ghastly monstrosity out of its hiding place and into the sink. It then shook the white off, leaving itself camouflaged by the steel basin.

Losing sight of it, Sally screamed, “Where is it? Where did it go?”
But Evan could see. He instinctively reached into the sink and grasped the cold freak of nature, throwing it back into the boiling water, as the little monster bit a chunk off his hand.

Sally screamed, watching the gore of this psychotic animal eating her son’s flesh feverishly under the boiling bubbles. The hot water was an incubator, not a killer and this thing was growing.

Clasping her head, she felt insane, not knowing what to do. Sally scrambled for a tea towel to wrap Evan’s hand.

It took only two minutes in the pot before the creature jumped back out, hitting the ceiling and clinging there, enlarging to twice its size above the two of them. Sally grabbed Evan and attempted to run, but it sprayed her with a dark fetid liquid that made Sally freeze, mouth agape and eyes wide with fear, her head cranked up and back towards the ceiling.

When the grotesque beast jumped down, it enlarged once again – this time standing tall enough to tower over Sally. It threw open an angry jaw showing rows and rows of serrated teeth, blowing hard gusts of vile breath. It was hungry. It had a lot to accomplish in this world. It would need new fuel and these two pieces of flesh seemed like a good place to start.

When the chomping began, Sally could hear the bones crack, but she couldn’t tell if it were her own body or her son’s. She knew that she was doomed, but she prayed that Evan would be able to escape…

©KymDarkly

 

FANTOM…

image

 

It had come again in the middle of the night, undulating under the sheets like a flat fish might swim at the bottom of the ocean.

Petrified, Bobby jumped out of bed. He watched the creature, with its wave-like motion, slink under the covers heading down to where his feet would always be, the place where it would wriggle before slipping off and away.

In his mind he thought he would catch it and maybe even cook it, if it was a fish, although his mother had said that ghosts couldn’t be eaten or cooked.

You’re not escaping this time, Bobby thought, ripping the sheet right off in an attempt to expose the mystery. But he didn’t see anything. It was invisible as ghosts tended to be.

Bobby got closer, bravely holding out his hand in the terrified hopes that he might touch it. He padded around until finally his delicate fingers landed on top of the slippery creature. Bobby yelped, but kept his hand there on the invisible eeewy fish, desperate to make sense of this thing that haunted him night after night.

The wires from his head sent out crazed signals to computers and machines that measured his brain for activity. Suddenly the sleep lab was full of personnel, but Bobby was oblivious. He was trying to hold onto the cold ghoul that kept escaping his grasp.

Suddenly angered, Bobby grew violent. He threw the sheet back on the thing to see where it was and grabbed his heavy Bible to kill it with. Slam, Slam!

“Ughh, it’s already dead,” said Dr. Rupert from behind the lab’s glass. Doesn’t he get it?

“No, he doesn’t get it. He’s just a kid,” said Rebecca – his striking sidekick.

“I know darling, but we need a kid who can catch one, so we can study it,” replied Rupert.

Bobby’s vital signs were in trouble. The beeps jolted them back to the computer screens.

“Its attacking him. This always happens,” Rebecca said, “Just stop it right now! We dont want to lose him.”

Ignoring her, Dr. Rupert gave a go-ahead signal with his hand through the glass.

The crew did what they were instructed to: sprayed the phantom with a new liquid that had been developed by the brilliant grad student: Rebecca McCauley.

This new variation worked and the crew grew excited as they could finally see a true ghost, albeit a vicious orange jelly that had planted its entire sticky being over Bobby’s face and torso.

Their own faces turned to horror quickly as they witnessed it sucking his brains, blood, tongue and other tissue out of his eyes, ears and mouth with a vicious pumping cycle, ultimately sending out a huge splat of blood back up at the glass of the lab.

 A flat line, and the ghost released its obliterated victim. There was no more live tissue to refuel its dependency needs and so it slipped back into invisibility and disappeared before it could be captured.

Dr. Rupert sighed – annoyance. “Call the parents, our condolences, he went mad, congenital defect and we couldn’t save him.”

“You fucking do it. I’m done,” Rebecca snapped. On her way out she slammed the door, torn over why she still loved this cold-hearted man…

In the blood splattered lab, Dr. Rupert reconsidered. “I’m not sure that’s a ghost…”

© kym darkly

Haunted…

Time Lapse Photography By Chris Barnes https://twitter.com/oddharmonix

Even the clouds were running, sleek across the dying sky. What was coming so fast and dark that made birds slip into silence and trees shake madly, as if to relieve them from their roots? What was this fear that clawed through his body paralyzing and freezing him to the spot? He’d been here before – terrified. A haunted mind can’t run. it has nowhere to go…

© kym darkly