Monsters | Penana

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Short Story
Writer Matthew D. Saeman
  • G: General Audiences
  • PG: Parental Guidance Suggested
  • PG-13: Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • R: Restricted
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Matthew D. Saeman
Feb 14, 2018
11 Mins Read
No Plagiarism!lPL6c86tGr2obz8sQcI8posted on PENANA

Jack drew the short straw. Since we’ve been stuck in here for two days, since we’re starving and since no one’s stepped up to brave the battle, go out and find us food, we had to figure a fair way to force someone to volunteer… and Jack lost. Steve was holding the straws when we picked, and after the selection process was over, Jack accused him of cheating, said he knew Steve always hated him, had always been jealous of him, and secretly pined for his wife Emilie. Steve’s not a big fan of being accused of things he didn't do, and certainly doesn't like anyone questioning the love he has for his wife Trudy, especially when she’s in the same room. Jack knew this. So, as Steve prepared to wipe the floor with him, I caught on to Jack’s plan, grabbed hold of Steve’s shoulder, and explained it to him. Steve quickly settled himself, understanding that if Jack were incapacitated, we’d have to pick a new volunteer. Jack hated me for pulling back the curtain on his ill-conceived strategy. He said spiteful things, sounding like a condemned prisoner on his way to the Chair. Nevertheless, like it or not, he was our guy.copyright protection16PENANAEWLOEZCvAJ

We moved the big rolling sink structure that served as our barricade, and opened the door slowly. All was quiet. Jack took one tentative step out into the hallway but before he could take a second, a pair of razor sharp claws from somewhere up above reached down and sliced his head clean off. It disappeared, never to be seen again, while his body fell back into our arms. In such a state of shock, it took us an extra second to grasp the concept of what had just occurred. We had seen others killed in similar fashion, but never anyone we actually knew. We pulled his twitching corpse back inside, slammed and refortified the door. We dragged the body to the rear of the room, dropped it to the ground, stepped back and observed with fascination as the seizures finally began to slow. Emilie stared silently at her dead husband, as if waiting for him to sprout a new head so they could carry on as normal.  A short time later she began to weep… that went on for the next four hours despite attempts by the other women to comfort her. When she finally finished and went quiet, she ambled into a corner and collapsed.copyright protection16PENANAsVzd1Ml8f1

Those things out there are relentless. They’re smart, fast and strong, always hungry, and they love the way we taste; I know… I’ve seen them eat. We hear them roaming up and down the hallway day and night, searching for what or whom I haven’t a clue. Can’t believe there’s anyone or anything still alive in this hotel… except us of course. Such a posh spot. The perfect place to celebrate my 40th birthday… same place we stayed the night of our wedding so many years ago.copyright protection16PENANAzhpLRydHKV

Kathy planned it meticulously, set the reservations months in advance, and convinced our best friends Jack, Emilie, Steve, Trudy, Bob, and Laura to join us for the occasion. We’d check in, have a drink or two, then walk to my favorite restaurant down the street where I’d be greeted by an additional gaggle of family and friends and a great big SURPRISE!!! Surprise is right. We never made it to the restaurant, didn’t even have time for that second drink before they burst in and began to feast.copyright protection16PENANAPoSAdxzP29

Heading down to the lobby dressed like rock stars, the eight of us chatted it up like normal people do when they don’t know something’s wrong. The men discussing sports and politics while the ladies complimented each other on their choice of earrings and outfits, inquiring as to how on Earth they were able to get their hair looking so perfect. As the bell sounded and the elevator doors parted, we walked out. After a single step forward, we saw the bloodshed all over the lobby, in the bar, at the front desk. My first thought was that knowing my love of horror films, Kathy had set up this elaborate scene for my birthday, but when I looked back at her with a smile, the story her face told spoke the truth of a reality too fantastic to be believed. Watching these creatures ripping off limbs with little effort, their lengthy saber claws tearing through skin like paper, gouging out eyes and sucking brain matter through now vacant cavities was like watching a child destroying a hated doll made of flimsy popsicle sticks. Pure rage. As one of them took notice of our presence and began racing toward us, we scrambled into the elevator and made our way back up to our floor. What we found there was a chaos entirely different, yet just as deadly.copyright protection16PENANAzu59I7V3ga

News travels fast. Hordes of guests were scrambling up and down the hallways trying to find some sort of escape route. We pushed our way through the bedlam with me on point, but our group was split in half on account of the mad rush of bodies. Jack, Emilie, Bob, and Laura went left; the rest of us went right. After running just a few strides, I felt compelled to look back over my shoulder, and that’s when I spotted the partially opened door. Before this craziness got underway, a hotel worker must’ve forgotten their key and so placed a stopper on the floor to hold the door ajar. Jack and Emilie, along with Bob and Laura were the closest to it. After watching them all dart inside, I grabbed Kathy’s arm and she grabbed Trudy who had a hold of Steve. We made fast for it, surprised as hell that no one else was paying attention. When we arrived, it was locked up tight. We banged our fists, called out to our friends for help, and after a few moments, when the door still hadn’t opened, began screaming obscenities and pounding harder. And that’s when we saw it: seven feet tall if it was an inch. Hairless, sexless, snarling…downright nasty.copyright protection16PENANA5PsvBj3O0O

At the far end of the hall it stood, seemed to have its eye focused solely on us since it paid zero attention to the scores of others running right past it. Then I realized why. It was the same creature that was coming after us down in the lobby. Beginning with a slow trot, it headed our way. As it picked up speed, we elevated our sense of urgency, begged and pleaded with our soon to be former friends til our voices went hoarse. Seeming hopeless, Steve and I abandoned our futile cries and readied ourselves for the fight of a lifetime. The girls slid down to the floor, covering their ears and eyes, not wanting to see the massacre that was sure to occur. And then, with a faint creak which I was shocked to have heard… the door opened. We got the women and ourselves inside not a second before that thing would’ve had us skewered. We used what was available to blockade the entrance on our side as the frustrated beast let loose a high-pitched angry squeal from the other. Upon the metallic surface of the door its uber sharp claws scratched and scraped to no avail. The aforementioned squeal then transformed into a guttural howl… this thing was pissed! After some time, after all had finally gone quiet again, Steve, a bit of a hothead, let Jack know exactly how he felt about his delaying us access to this sanctuary with a knuckle sandwich right to the jaw. Jack went down hard and nobody said a word in protest… not even Emilie. Bob escaped blame, I assume Jack never forgave him for that.copyright protection16PENANAKQcCrq91gc

Where they came from? Who knows. We listened to the news on our phones til either our phones or the newscasters went dead. All thoughts as to the origin of this “species” were conjecture. One person said they were seen coming up through the sewers. Some claimed they fell from the sky. Does it matter? They’re here. And we’re here… hiding, trying our damndest to stay alive, to stay… civilized.copyright protection16PENANAbQHgZqnVtD

So here we now sit… and cry… and laugh hysterically at the absurdity of this scenario. Jack’s decaying flesh has begun to reek and his belly to swell. I keep expecting to see his innards burst free at any moment like those giant whales on YouTube being trucked through small, third world towns that explode all over hell-n-gone. Sure we could’ve just thrown him back out into the hallway, separated ourselves from such a disgusting display, but opening that door for even a second would give those bastards another chance to get at us. So we kept him in here with us, stink and all. Emilie appreciated the gesture... time to pick straws again.copyright protection16PENANA6zty44S8TT

This time, Steve took the short one, and as we all prepared to deliver our goodbye speeches, he told us he wasn’t going. Bob and I looked at each other, not sure how to respond. Steve is… was a S.W.A.T. commando, don’t think we would’ve had a shot at taking him out despite the fact the odds were in our favor. We tried reasoning with him, but it was useless…. he simply refused to go. Then Emilie stepped in, pointed a shaky finger at her dead, headless husband, and told Steve he had to go to justify what happened to Jack. Steve smiled a sinister grin, told her that Jack is precisely why he wasn’t going. Everyone watched with curious eyes as Steve walked over to one of the shelving units, dismantled it, removed a long metal shard and scraped it on the concrete floor til it was sharpened just enough. He took the blade and, before anyone could truly grasp the reality of what he was doing, sliced Jack’s left leg open from calf to mid-thigh. Emilie went berserk, screamed in a pitch that could’ve shattered a diamond, jumped on Steve’s back and tried with all her might to wrestle the knife away. Steve simply shrugged a shoulder which sent Emilie, who can't weigh more than a hundred pounds, barreling back into the corner. She didn’t move, just started crying. He then cut free a healthy chunk of Jack’s meat, muscle, and flesh and offered it to Trudy who snatched it up and nearly swallowed it whole. To say I was awestruck would be the understatement of the century. Steve took a piece for himself, then handed the blade to Bob who did the same for Laura. She was reticent at first with her portion, but eventually conceded and consumed it. When the cutting tool was handed to me, I looked to Kathy who returned a non-committal, but non-condemning facial expression. So, with my stomach rumbling, I moved down to Jack’s open leg and cut pieces for she and I. Amazing how much clearer your mind is after a hearty meal.copyright protection16PENANAWDK9gbAqcQ

Once everything edible from Jack’s body had been devoured, we all enjoyed a post-lunch nap… except for Emilie. She chose instead to drink a bottle of cleaning chemicals. When I woke and saw her dead, my heart leapt at the thought of fresh provisions. Then I saw the empty bottle next to her leg, realized she’d poisoned herself as a means of escape, as well as a “fuck you” to us all for eating her husband. An aura of anger descended upon us fast, not necessarily toward Emilie, or the things outside, or any person in particular inside this room. The mood was just dark, as if Emilie’s gesture had given the green light to a primitive, survival of the fittest calling within each of us. We tossed her body out into the hall hoping some of those things might die (or at least get really, really sick) from eating the tainted meat… also as a fuck you to her in retort. Following Emilie’s justified disposal, no one spoke a word. Everyone just looked at everyone else, two questions occupying our minds: who’s next, and… who’s next after that?copyright protection16PENANACnGkDFK1Ae

As it happened, Laura was the next to go, and it was her husband Bob who struck the blindside blow. He didn’t even have the courtesy to do it as she slept. While she was peeing, with her back turned to us all, he sneaked up behind her and slammed the cutting tool straight down through the top of her skull. She was dead in an instant. Turns out he’d been planning on killing her for months, long before those things ever showed up… said something about her being a really, REALLY bad cook. Win, win for him. For us, there was no shock factor, it just meant dinner was served. Or… maybe not? When Bob turned to us after pulling the murder weapon free (which took some effort), he wore an expression much like that of a four-year-old child clutching a toy they truly believe is all theirs even though it isn’t. Steve and I read his eyes immediately and clenched our fists, ready to “correct” Bob’s thinking if indeed it was heading that way. Bob looked at the two of us, saw our intentions distinctly, knew we had the upper hand, and backed down. He took the blade and went to work on his dead wife’s body. We learned a lot from Jack on how best to remove meat from bones, so butchering Laura was a no-brainer. We all ate our fill, then sat back to let our bodies digest while our minds wandered.copyright protection16PENANAFGN9fSd816

An unspoken free-for-all was officially on. Everyone was fair game given the fact that the concept of right versus wrong played no part in our minds anymore. Nobody slept, nobody turned their back on anybody, and everyone made damn sure they had some sort of weapon at the ready to defend themselves… or take someone out if the opportunity presented itself. There is no escape from these monsters… the ones out there as well as those inside this room, myself included. Even if by some miracle we were to find a way out of this hotel, what future exists for us? Are there any others still alive? And if so, have they succumbed to the same primal urges we have? Better not to know in my opinion. What a funny game fate plays with us pitiful people.copyright protection16PENANA1YKL80XIq9

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