Rip. Snap. Crack.
These are the words to describe my friend being eaten by whatever’s in the dark, whatever is in the shadows that I refuse to investigate. All I can do is run, run, run until I’m in the clear.
Except I’m never in the clear.
It sounds like my friend’s tibia breaking in two, but it’s a dead branch this time. I turn to my right, toward the sound, and see something moving under the light of the moon. The best I can describe it is that it’s big. I know that’s childish––unliterary-like––but if you were ten yards away from this monstrosity, “big” would be the only word you can think of, too.
There you go: monstrosity.
The rain makes the leaves on the ground slick. The distance I’m putting between myself and the house behind me seems to get smaller instead of greater. But the house isn’t the only thing I’m running from anymore. It’s the house and the big something to my right.
It snarls and I see foam dripping from its chin. Hair clings on random sections of its grey skin and other parts are raw, as if flesh never grew over those areas of its body.
How did I get here? I’m wondering the same thing myself while trying to get away from this house that seems to be pulling me back in.
There was a pamphlet at my work. It was the last one of its kind, advertising a quiet getaway in a rustic house isolated in the woods.
Isolated. Quiet. Rustic.
Those are the words the pamphlet used, and I thought I would be stupid not to rent it out for the weekend. Bring a friend and a couple six packs, it was a win-win situation.
Until the basement started breathing fire and the second floor swarmed with legions and headless children.
It went from win-win to lose-lose in one night. In two hours, actually.
I give up trying to outrun whatever is now bounding toward me and dart back into the house. Smoke permeates throughout the air, but at least the fire is out in the basement. I hear my friend screaming in the living room. Whatever is munching him isn’t done yet.
Before me are the stairs, and at the top of them is a woman. She’s in a wedding dress––a dirty, old wedding dress.
“Byron, you’ve come back,” she says to me in a deep, baritone voice. She extends her arms out to me and I take a step back.
I cough on the smoke. “I–I’m not Byron.” I tell her, “You got the wrong guy.”
Her eyes flash red, I kid you not, and she descends the stairs without touching one step with her feet. “Come to me, Byron.” She smiles, then I realize that’s all she can do is smile, because she doesn’t have lips. One eye hangs from its socket by the red fibers I can’t remember the name of.
I take a step back, and what I feel on the back of my neck is more than just my hair standing on end. I turn to see the monstrosity looming over me, tongue lolling out of the side of its mouth, eyes green, pupils a vertical slit.
“Byron,” the bride says. She doesn’t have hair. She doesn’t have breasts. The dress hangs on her boney shoulders, her arms still outstretched. “I’m yours.”
In the room next to us my friend is screaming my name. “Shut up!” whatever is eating him growls.
The monstrosity behind me growls, and a string of its saliva falls directly into the back of my collar, the thick, gummy fluid trailing down my spine. I shriek, bypassing the bride and into the kitchen.
A knife. A pan. A spoon. I’ll take anything that I can swing in front me like a child.
A bolt of lightning splits the house in two, the flash of white blinding me.
Before I know it, the bride has me in her arms. I’m staring into the face of someone’s great-great-great grandmother, and she’s trying to kiss me without lips. The one eye in her socket closes while the other bounces against my cheek. I squirm but her skeleton arms hold me tight. Before I know it, her teeth are mashing my lips.
My friend continues to scream, and I think: It sure is taking a long time to eat him.
Suddenly the bride’s arms let me go. More accurately, the monstrosity rips them from their sockets and beats her with them.
Is it protecting me? I wonder, then decide that I don’t care the monster’s intent. It’s time for me to go.
I jump over the chasm that the lightning strike opened up and spring out the front door one more time. The rain doesn’t let up, and yet somehow the iridescent moon is still present, beckoning the horrors of this night to come out.
My heart leaps back toward the house, toward my friend, but there’s nothing I can do for him now. At least he’s stopped screaming. If I can’t be a hero, then I can be a survivor.
Whack. Slap. Bang.
These are the words to describe the monstrosity beating the already dead bride. She’s screaming, “BRYON! BYYYYROOOON!”
That experience alone discourages me from ever tying the knot. I mean, any second her arms might detach and be used as weapons against her––or against me. I don’t want to marry someone expendable.
This isn’t the mentality to have right now. I need to escape.
I get in my car and start it. Thankfully the dead-car-cliché isn’t fulfilled. The tires struggle to find traction on the muddy road, but the screaming and roaring behind me abates as I leave the front gates. Automatically they swing shut behind my car. I don’t remember them being automatic––then again, I don’t remember poltergeists ever chasing anyone with a baseball bat, yet it happened.
I am everyone’s humble, petrified witness.
Ten minutes down the road, as my fear slowly dissipates into denial, something shifts in the backseat.
I don’t want to look in the rearview mirror, but I have to.
Yellow teeth gleam at me in the mirror; blue lips pull back and a crooked nose flares.
“No one leaves my house until I’m done with him,” the colorful mouth says. Spit flies onto my shoulder and I look over and see specks of blood.
Something tells me this is Byron.
Now I feel guilty for kissing his wife.ns 188.8.131.52da2