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


Three a.m. every morning. She always visited. She had to – silent and forlorn in the shadows. He could hear her creep along the dark halls – those blood-splattered corridors that she’d been dragged down by a death-cord wrapped around her neck. That fucking telephone wire. He could feel her pass by him, could see the candles flicker and the curtains sway back as she took her seat.

If only she could leave her violin alone there might be some peace, but it was the thing that still tied her to this world. He knew this, and he used it.

Maybe it was guilt that made him put the delicate instrument out night after night, summoning her to draw fierce catgut across rusting strings. Maybe it was his way of giving her the freedom to express: to pluck out each emotion, replaying the terror and betrayal with notes and tones that narrated her own story.

Perhaps he was punishing himself for what he had done by repeatedly listening to her pain. But most likely he was pretending that she was still alive, giving him a private concert at his bidding. He was delusional after all.

Lately the sound had been sad and eerie – the kind that could cut through a soul, already lacerated and broken, but this early morning was different. Linn’s spirit had been growing angry. On her way in she had slammed doors and thrown chairs, even ripped a curtain from its rings, and she certainly had refused to sit. She chose to stand. It would give her music more power.

Her husband didn’t mind the violence. It was comforting just knowing that she was there, invisibly shackled to him and his darkness.

This was Linn’s last visit however. The bruises and blood were fading and the burn around her neck had lost its terrifying command. She was reclaiming herself. She had learned a lot in the spirit world. She was tired of being his ghost, of being called involuntarily to haunt him night after night. She wanted to have done with it, with him.

Strongly composed, she drew the bow deliberately across the strings as she would a knife across his neck. Deep, dark and mellow quickly gave way to frenetic sawing and screeching – an abrasive violence of notes that bespoke Linn’s fury. Gone was the demure, shy victim.

One last drag across that old violin and she snapped. She flew at him, lashing the bow hard across his face – the force sending him off the back of his antique Hitchcock chair. She jumped after whipping and beating him until the wooden weapon broke on his cheek leaving flesh ripped and dripping with blood.

The startled look in his eyes made her happy. She only wished he could see the victory in hers. Crazed with the need to be free she bashed the violin over the chair, breaking it in two. She dropped to the floor, knees on either side of his trunk and jabbed the half she still held under his chin, digging the splintered wood in deep.
“Alright, alright,” he yelped.
“Release me,” she commanded, jabbing harder.
He couldn’t let her go.
She twisted the violin, breaking his skin. She pushed it hard.
“Release me, or you’re coming with me.” She hissed.
As shards cut through muscle and tongue, he threw his hands up in surrender.
“I promise. I’ll leave you alone.” He yelped.
“Please.” he started to cry.

Linn smiled.

Numbing and peacefully ascending she dropped the instrument and quietly floated up off the floor, showing herself to him for the first time since her death. She was beautiful. The spell had been broken. She was free.

“I love you,” he said.

This made her happy, for the most sadistic thing she could do was to prevent him from having her.

She laid back on the soft air in a deep peace and floated over to the window – out and up towards the clouds…

©kym darkly


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…




 Though it made her sick, she could roll Sara’s dismembered body back into the water since she was as good as dead anyway, but that thing didn’t want food. It wanted to play. The cave was vast. She couldn’t go back the way she came. The tide was rising and the creature’s spiny tail flipped up here and there letting her know that it was waiting. She’d have to press on deeper inside where there was no light at all, no promise of escape and God only knew what else waiting…

© kym darkly


The sweet success of ripping a freshly painted nail from his victim’s tortured finger, the exquisite pain she must have felt from the flush of bright rich blood. It was glorious watching her green eyes burn with hate and fear, her screams muffled by black stockings. But he wouldn’t visit again, not until she had healed her wounded soul. Not until she had reconsidered the window that, although locked, was easy to force open. Not until she missed him, as she surely would. She loved him after all, didn’t she? Then again, maybe he wouldn’t ever come back. It was a very strange marriage, even for him…

© kym darkly

Monster Mash…

The thick walls were pumping all around them, sucking and slapping visceral, mucus-saturated flesh up against their skin, burning them with secretions from its great pores. When the muscular walls began to crush their bones, they tried to move, to scream, but all three were quickly squeezed up tightly together. Soon one’s leg would become the mush of another’s arm pulp, human pulp – and they would slowly be digested by this creature that had swallowed them… 


© kym darkly

The Provocateur…

Something’s holding onto my mind,” he screamed – hands to head, nails digging in fiercely. “Why won’t you go?” The truth was she couldn’t. There was no way to step out of another’s thoughts. She had no control over that. Torture was her trade and sex was part of the deal. He’d paid for it and now he just couldn’t let it go: the memories, the craving, his desperate need for more. It was his hold that haunted him: his problem, not hers for she just made transactions – besides he was her very best client…

© kym darkly