Sam tried to follow me along with the monster that had swallowed me, but it was far too fast, weaving back and forth around pedestrians with ease. Soon it was out of Sam’s sight. The snow was too well-trampled to show new footprints, and he had no clues on where it might be going. He ran back to where the encounter had happened, hoping to find Milo, hoping he could make some use of the boy. He was gone, frightened off by the monster, deciding that it just wasn’t worth torturing his ex tonight if he had to deal with that.
Sam looked up and down the street. Everything was business as usual. If anyone had witnessed what happened they had written it off as imagination or were inside being counseled that it had been imagination.
Sam went to room 11031, kicking the door in without bothering to knock. The latch smashed through the jamb easily enough, showering the room with splinters. Girls looked up blearily at his entrance, not jumping in surprise or standing in anger. Their eyes were empty, bored, perhaps only showing a slight relief that this newcomer wasn’t Amnon.
Continue reading “The Fallowing – The Fifth, Part VIII”
I was brushing my hair in the bathroom, watching my reflection in the mirror. I don’t know when it started, but the eyes of my reflection had unfocused from my own, had begun to look at a point over my shoulder. At something over my shoulder. Then my reflection’s mouth slowly, slowly opened in a silent scream. In shock, I backed away from the mirror and bumped into something and I spun around with such force my arm must have hit the mirror, shattering it into a thousand pieces.
I swear, that’s how I got these cuts on my arms.
I actually took a step back, bumped into the thing behind me, and jumped. It clattered madly and wriggled around in its skin. Its mouth opened and though there was no tongue its teeth milled about, floating inside like glitter in a snowglobe.
“So that,” Amnon continued, “is why I waited until you two made a play for Milo. That was your plan, yes? To lure me somewhere to regain Milo?”
“Well, I suppose there’s no denying it now.” I looked directly at him, directly into his eyes. As dangerous as they were, they helped me ignore the monster at my back.
“But I knew when Milo was coming to see me, when you couldn’t. You could only waste time waiting, exposing yourselves. Sam never did have a reason to learn to be inconspicuous.”
“Okay,” I said, trying to keep my cool, trying to keep my voice from shaking. I shrugged my shoulders a bit too violently. “We failed. So what’s your plan with me?”
Continue reading “The Fallowing – The Fifth, Part VII”
Sam saw it, and shouted my name. I looked away from Milo, past him to where Sam was, running forward, pulling an arrow from his pack. He was looking behind me. I turned as one of the many girls on the street screamed.
The thing behind me gaped open. Its skin was stretched to the sides as if an autopsy were being performed on it, all the way from the top of the skull to its toes. The insides glistened devoid of organs, and bones spilled out all about it, seeming to float in the air as if frozen there. The skull was even split apart, hanging in sections, teeth rattling together softly. I only had a second to take this all in, because it was winding its way around me, closing over me. Its bones bit into my skin and its flesh fell steaming hot onto mine, and Sam couldn’t fire his arrow because I was inside it, and to hit it was to hit me.
It ran, and as its legs bent and pushed at the ground, so did mine, but so quickly my muscles sang out an alarm to stop, that they couldn’t go on like this for long. The thing was far stronger than me, and I couldn’t make an action against it. I was trapped in the dark and, though I could breathe, the metallic scent of blood and bile filled my nostrils and burned my lungs.
Continue reading “The Fallowing – The Fifth, Part VI”
Her coffee had gone cold, steam no longer rising from it. Tears were flowing form her one good eye. She had quit bothering to wipe them away. She shook her head.
“No,” I told her. “You refused to rise to his taunts. To both their taunts.”
“And I’ll die for it. They won’t stop.”
“We’ll stop him.”
“How? You can’t hurt him. Remember, he said – ”
“There’s always a way. We always find a way. Right, Sam?”
I looked at him, but he was staring out the window, rubbing the bridge of his nose and lost in his thoughts. And again his eyes were full of hatred and anger and I didn’t entirely know why.
Continue reading “The Fallowing – The Fifth, Part V”
“When I got there I saw the sign taped to the door and deep down I thought That’s it, it’s room 11031, though I had no reason to think so. Just an instinct.
“I opened the door with the taped sign and shivered as I crossed the threshold, even though it was warmer inside than out. Something was wrong here. Something pulled me along the hallways as if saying Yes, you’re in the right place. But it was all awfully, terribly wrong. The walls were swimming in a sickening cream color, like the color of a dead person’s skin. Hookers walked past me with that same color on their flesh and for a moment I was horrified because I thought they really were dead and still walking around, their flesh all curdled milk and eyes vacant and staring. They didn’t even look at me as they passed and I huddled against the wall to get away from them, so they couldn’t touch me with their dead skin. Maybe it was all my imagination, because girls laughed behind closed doors and music thumped from somewhere. But that sick corpse-glow wouldn’t disperse.
“I found 11031 at the end of the hall. I stood at the door frightened out of my mind because I had no idea what I would find on the other side of it. The was no sound of laughter coming from it, no music. Just silence, the silence of a grave. I probably never would have knocked or opened it, probably would have stood for another age and then walked away, except that it opened for me.
Continue reading “The Fallowing – The Fifth, Part IV”
She held her coffee cup in shaking hands. The diner was half-full, dinner rush looming close. The chatter and clatter of knives on plates bounced off the walls of framed curios. A signed photo of A. Swartz watched over our particular table.
“You won’t believe me,” she said. Her name was Corrie. Her hair was strawberry blonde, her eyes green and wide and haunted. She was all of seventeen, but it was hard to tell from her face. She looked much older. “You’ll think I did this to myself. Everyone thinks that. Even my mother. They would lock me away somewhere if there was any place to lock me away in.”
“We have some experience with these types of cases,” I said. “Tell us what happened.”
She sipped her coffee, and as she set it down on the counter some spilled. She didn’t notice.
Continue reading “The Fallowing – The Fifth, Part III”
It was clear that winter was on the way. A freezing wind followed us all the way to Sheffield Street and sent flurries of snow pulled from the piles on the ground into our eyes. Let me tell you about the wind in Chicago: it never gives up. It goes tearing through the buildings like a damned hurricane, ripping through coats and sweaters and into your bones.
So it was ripping up Sheffield Street, over and around the dancers and hookers and their clients. At least the women in the windows looked warm, skimpily though they were dressed.
Most of them ignored us – a man with a woman already. But a couple tried to convince Sam there was better game inside, and I was surprised to see him smile politely as he waved their comments away, then ask them where he might find Amnon. Most of them didn’t know, or claimed not to know. The latter shook their heads violently and turned away, but Sam didn’t press them. In fact he looked almost cowed, as if they had deeply insulted him. Finally I got fed up with this. When an only moderately pretty girl wordlessly shrugged her shoulders and made to walk away down the street I blocked her path.
“Look, I can tell you know where he is. Half of the women on this street know, so just tell us.”
Continue reading “The Fallowing – The Fifth, Part II”
When I woke it was noon, light full in the hotel room. I stretched awkwardly beneath the blankets and rolled over, but the space on the bed next to me was empty and cold. I sat up and looked around the room, at the window where Sam spent so much time. He wasn’t there.
“Sam?” I called, swinging my legs over the edge of the bed and starting to panic. If he had left the room without me…
“Yeah?” Sam came around the corner from the bathroom. Soap suds were on his face and a straight razor was in his hand.
I flumped back down on the bed. “I thought you had left.”
“For what? Lunch? I mean, you’ve been snoring a while but I was still going to wait for you.”
I flung a pillow at him and he ducked back into the bathroom to avoid it.
As I dressed I could hear the razor swishing occasionally in the sink. Since when did Sam ever get out of bed before me? I thought back to last night, to a watch dropped on the floor of the room, Sam poising his knife over it. As he brought it down I had fallen forward onto the carpet and thrust out my hands over the watch. He couldn’t quite stop his motion, could only turn the knife aside, nicking the outside of my left hand.
Continue reading “The Fallowing – The Fifth, Part I”
A friend of mine was the one who guilted me into calling this thing “occult adventure,” due to the tone. But reading back over it I have issues with calling it that. There are some very dark elements in this story that make it not entirely adventure and more horror. I keep having this idea in my head that horror must not contain light-hearted elements, must be fully horror non-stop all the time. But if I’ve learned anything from Manly Wade Wellman, it’s that the characters in a horror story can be horrified some of the time, and can also have fun some of the time, even while they’re horrified. So here is some…
“You may call me Amnon,” says the man, genially enough, all trace of tooth gone from his voice. “Might I ask your name?”
“I thought you were expecting me?” the boy says, still dazed.
“I anticipated your arrival due to your motions. Your… energies? But names, sadly, I cannot predict.”
Continue reading “The Fallowing – Interlude IV, Part II”