Stories

Lycaon, by Garret Schuelke

#action #horror #lycaon #superhero #werewolf

Banner knew that he should have never got a can opener from Goodwill. Even if they did give it to him for free, it still refused to properly open the can of beans that he needed to complete his chili.

He heard a train coming. He pledged that if he couldn’t get the can open by the time the train appeared, he would whip the can opener underneath the wheels.

On top of the train, Gareth woke up. He looked out at the Thunder Bay River. He sat up and stretched out. Being away for this long still hasn’t changed anything, he thought, scanning the streets. Same businesses, no new attractions, not even any kind of construction going on.

Gareth put on his backpack. “Chicago, babe. Expect me back ASAP. Once I save this hole, I’ll be back home to stay.” He jumped off the train as it started to slow down. “For some time, anyway.”

Banner cursed the can opener. He threw it towards the tracks. Gareth felt something hit his leg as he landed. He looked down to see the can opener tumbling down the gravel.

“Oh Jesus, I’m sorry man,” Banner yelled, running towards Gareth. “I swear, I didn’t mean to hit you!”

“Can’t get the can open?” Gareth asked, pointing at the can of beans Banner was holding. “Yeah, and I got my chili cookin’ right now. It wouldn’t be the same without these beans.”

“I got a can opener that’ll work,” Gareth said, putting his arm around Banner’s shoulders. “Let’s go to your pad and I’ll dig it out.”

Gareth put his backpack down when they got inside the dilapidated train shack. He dug the can opener out of one of the side compartments. Making sure that Banner was still stirring his chili, Gareth concentrated on transforming his right hand. His hand tightened, and his fingernails grew into claws. He stuck a finger into the can, and circled the top until the lid came completely off. He relaxed his hand, reverting it back to its normal state.

“Here’s your beans,” Gareth said, dumping them into the chili. “You can take my can opener too. I’m not going to need it any more.”

“Thanks much, man. You sure don’t you need it, though?” Banner asked.

Gareth shook his head, put on his backpack and headed out the door. “There are a lot of things I don’t need anymore.”

Gareth searched through the shelves where the Alpena News and other Michigan newspapers were for stories on the wolf attacks that occurred in Alpena County over the last month. He copied the articles and snuck out of the library to avoid paying the copy fees.

He headed over to Save-A-Lot. He scoped out the front entrance in the alley across from the store. After thinking over what he remembered of the store’s layout, he tied his grey mask over his eyes. He transformed, stretched his legs, and ran into the store.

He swiped some hamburger patties, barbecue sauce, and a package of white bread. Running out the store, he nearly ran into a girl who was texting.

His last stop was Tarter’s Party Store. He planned to swipe a bottle of red wine, but then he saw the 24 packs of Pabst Blue Ribbon that were right next to the entrance. Aw yeah, he thought. Using his super speed, he darted across the street, swiped one of the packs, and sped down Chisholm towards downtown.

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Stories

Anonymous call

#dark #horror #literary #shortstories

Everybody has a price. I learned that recently. A price in which anybody will do anything for money. The premise is simple. If I said I would pay you one hundred pounds to walk into a supermarket and steal one item, it being of no concern what it was you stole, would you do it? Of course you would. What if I gave you 200 or 400 pounds? The more money I give you, the more likely you are to do it, to break the law. If I gave you one thousand pounds to smash somebody’s window, well, I know the answer to that.

Being a poor student, I was given these incentives by a person I’ve never met. He rang me up and offered me money to perform tasks that have no real relevance to anybody. Thing is, though, he paid up. He knew my bank details, and paid the cash he said he’d give me when the tasks had been performed. How he knew I’d done them I do not know. I assume that he’d been watching me. I suppose it was a lesson in greed. The more money a person has, the more they want, and their only pleasure gained from it is in its attainment. They never spend it. It’s the same with me. I’m rich, but I cannot earn any more.

The phone calls have stopped, and I cannot access my bank account. I came to understand the true power of money, and the stranglehold it has over society. Imagine suddenly waking up in a field, and you have absolutely no idea as to where you are. You discover you have no money whatsoever, or the means to attain it. What do you do? What about when you get pangs of hunger? Do you beg? Or do you steal? Do you break the law in order to eat? Would you, if you had to? Of course you would. The structure of towns and cities is geared to the pound, the dollar, the rouble, and if you haven’t got it, you suffer.

Everything must be paid for. A ride on a bus, a ride on a rollercoaster, a place to park your expensive car, in which you put your expensive petrol. The privilege to watch a new film on a big screen, and the food that goes with it. The staff that help out in your entertainment are not doing it for the fun of it, because they want to help you enjoy yourself. Their incentive for their painted smiles is money, is pay day, so they can go spending. How many people do you know who work a mundane job would do it for nothing? would work a forty hour week for no pay? I don’t think there’s anybody.

The incentive is the wage, the oil that keeps the vast economic machine running, society’s lifeblood, and it can turn friend against friend. Friends who have known each other for many years can fall out over money. It can destroy marriages, cause deaths, and generally create vast amounts of misery.

Yet, by turn, it can cause vast amount of happiness. I thought it would make me happy. It did, I suppose in its attainment. I would receive a call on my mobile. It would always say: ‘Anonymous call’, and whoever it was, was making me rich. Burn down a derelict house for six thousand pounds he had asked. An empty house, just burn it down. Of course I did, and the next day, I checked my account, and found I was considerably richer.

Find somebody who owns a cat, kill it, then break into their house and hang it from the light in the living room. For that, I was to receive half a million pounds. Half a million. I found the task rather easy.

The next assignment I didn’t think twice about. Such was my desire for money that I was entranced by its lure, and was hooked like a shark scenting blood in the water. Sever your bonds, said the voice, sever everything you know. Leave home, leave your friends, don’t even say goodbye. Move down south to this address. He gave an address, and it’s from there where I speak now.

On the journey to a London suburb, he rang again, and told me that before I was to reach the address, I was to bring the head of a tramp. For that, he would give me one million pounds. Would you kill a tramp for a million pounds? I would, and did. It took a while. I bought an axe, and searched the back streets. A tired old man was half asleep in a back doorway to a restaurant, presumably hoping for scraps. I thought this doesn’t happen very often, does it? Me, a rich student, standing before one of the poorest members of society. I axed him without hestitation, taking care not to harm the head, which took four strikes to come free. I put it in a new bag I had bought, and headed for the house, which, to my disappointment, wasn’t a lavish affair, but a derelict abode along a side street with a ‘for sale’ sign outside, attached to which was a ‘sold’ notice.

Well, it didn’t matter, it wasn’t my place, and I could buy whatever house I liked. The door was open and I stepped inside. It was then that the phone rang again, and I saw that it was a text message. ‘Go up into the attic’ it said. So up the creaking stairs I went, and saw that there was a step ladder leading up. I clambered up and found that the light had been switched on.

I also discovered that the money I was to earn this time would not be going in the bank, as it was here, scattered around. The place was literally carpeted in money, and I could roll in it. As I did that, another text message disappointingly informed me that the money was not mine, yet. It could be if I did one more thing. There was a million pounds exactly in ten pound notes. The man rang me. I think he couldn’t be bothered to text again. He told me to close the hatch.

In doing that, I knew I would be locking myself in, as there was a mortice lock on the entrance that could only be unlocked from outside. I had to shut myself in what was effectively a prison cell. I had to trust the stranger, have confidence in him to come and unlock it.

What I want you to do, said the voice, is read one more text message I will send after I finish speaking to you. Once you’ve read it, understood it, I want you to smash the phone, make it useless. I’m sure you can afford a new one. Perform what it says, and if you do that, the money’s yours. Sayonara my friend, I won’t see you again. That was it, he clicked off, and about a minute later, the text message came through:

Escape, it said, nothing else.

Alright, I thought. All I’ve got to do is get out of here. Easy, probably. I smashed the phone against a wooden beam. I made it useless. So I tried to escape, but couldn’t. The floor was made of polished hardboard. I couldn’t penetrate outside onto the roof, and after a while, sat down in the money to think about how I was going to do this.

I saw the bag, and emptied out the severed head. Wonder what that’s for, I asked myself, not really thinking about it. I thought perhaps that if I couldn’t escape, the stranger would come and rescue me, but I was wrong.

Another scout of the attic revealed that I really was trapped. There was absolutely no escape, so exasperated, I sat down again in front of the head, and then I realized what it was for. It was to give me time. It was my sustenance until I figured out how to get out of here, to keep me going if it took a while. I suppose it catered for all my nutritional requirements, being both solid and liquid. As I lie here, staring up at an abandoned cobweb, I understand now what the stranger had taught me.

So full of greed was I that all I saw was the money, and now it’s useless. I can’t eat it. In here, now, with me, it has no meaning, and it can’t help stave off the pangs of hunger that I knew would come. After I’d eaten the head, every bit of it, the hunger stayed away for around a full day, and there was nothing else for it, but to start on myself. It hurt, but I managed most of my left forearm. Thing is, though, although I’m staving off hunger, I can’t really think straight with regards to escaping, as I think I’m going mad. I ate the broken mobile phone, and my watch, and very reluctantly, some ten pounds notes, but still the hunger comes, and I know I’m not getting out of here. My lesson has been learned. Money isn’t everything.

See, the thing is, as the stranger has access to my account, he can easily take out of it, so effectively, that money is his now his, and when I die here, he can come and take all this money away, and I realize that he is no better than I. Money can warp a sane person’s mind. He gets most of his money back, as being greedy meant I didn’t spend much of it, and now as I lay here bleeding waiting for the inevitable, my sense of greed does not let up its grip on me as I find myself jealous of the stranger, because he is after all, rich.

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Sueños, by Tom J. Perrin

#horror

In my dream she went hurtling up into the air after the car hit her, throwing her into a spasmic somersault which served as a prelude to a sickening thud as her body hit the ground. The screech of the tyres filled my head and made me hold fast to my ears, trying to drown out the sound that pierced my skull and sent splinters of pain shooting into my brain. My eyes went wide as the cars white reversal lights came on and the car flung backwards at speed, trampling over the body as if it were nothing more. As it screeched again to a halt, I clamped down harder on my ears and bit back the scream that filled my throat, as the engine revved and the car shot forward, the body jerking with the force and being thrown under the body of the car. This time it didn’t stop again, this time it kept its speed and tore down the street. It was a good few minutes before I let my hands fall down from my ears.
I blinked twice, sure that I was seeing things. I held the second blink long enough for little floaters to take over the inside of my eyelids. It was no use; the body still lay there motionless in the middle of the road. I swallowed hard, unsure of what to do next.
My mind is a wonderful place, but at that precise moment in time it panned back to a tea stain on the kitchen counter. I had just witnessed an atrocious incident mere feet from my front door and my mind was screaming out for me to go and wipe down the counter. I obeyed the screams of my mind, and was wiping down the counter with a damp cloth when the door knocked.
I jumped; the damp cloth fell to the floor with a moist slap which seemed to echo throughout the dark and quiet house, reverberating off of the walls.
I rushed to the door, relieved by the fact that I wasn’t the only one who’d seen it happen; the cramped structure of the row of houses I called home meant that privacy was at minimum thanks to the close proximity of the town homes.
I thought nothing of it when I didn’t see a hulking figure through the frosted glass window. They’d be in the middle of the road now attending to the body and had knocked on my door as a call to help.
I opened the door and looked straight out to the middle of the road.
There was no body.
There was nothing, minus a trail of blood leading to my front door.
I screamed when it grabbed my ankle.
“Help me,” it croaked
I looked down at the body, its neck hung off of the shoulders at an impossible and blood seeped from a head wound and decorated the face. One of the legs shot out to the left, clearly broken. A shoulder bone stuck through the cloth material of the jumper the body wore.
“Help me,” It whimpered again.
This time I couldn’t hold back the scream.
That was when I woke up.

The sheets stuck to my body, the cold sweat gripping the material to me as if it were a veil, suffocating me as I clambered out of bed. It was like they were trying to hold me back. I wasn’t sure why I shot out of bed, the dream seemingly snapping me from my drowsy state. I stood in the middle of the bedroom, shivering, and completely shrouded by the darkness. Not a glimmer of light found its way into the night. My deep breaths were amplified by the silence. My heartbeat increased to the point where my whole body seemingly shook.
The details of the dream came rushing back at me with a sudden whoosh…the body, the crawling, the slow rasp on the door, the impossible nature of it all. I needed light, I virtually yanked the blind off of the wall as I pulled it up; my bedroom window overlooked the back garden I’d laboured in all summer long. Tiny glimmers of light came from houses in the distance, and they had a soothing effect on and calmed my innate fear of the dark, which had plagued me since childhood.
The next sensation that came at me was my dry mouth, so I went through the house towards the kitchen. I illuminated every possible light as I went.
It was when I was in the kitchen, illuminated by the light above the cooker, when I decided to go and peek through the front blinds, just to soothe the voice inside my head. Maybe then I could go back to bed and get some sleep. The clock on the cooker read 02.11am.
The carpet was soft and fluffy underfoot, the rug very deep and comforting. The carpet right under the window was cooler, as was the cord for the blind. I pulled the blind upwards and looked out onto the dark street. The body in the street wasn’t in a starfish, but face down. I gasped and clamped my hand over my mouth and shook my head, convinced that I was still dreaming.
Without realising I’d moved, I was outside, my breath illuminated in front of my face by the coldness of the night. There were tyre marks on the road, and they spoke of a quick and frantic getaway. Without thinking I was gripping both wrists together and dragging the body towards my modest two up two down. There was a think trail of the blood coming from the body as I dragged it into the house, still face down.
Taking care just inside the threshold, I mopped the blood from the face. My stomach churned at the bruising on the face, the nose smashed inward as it had took the full impact of the fall. I put fresh towels down on the sofa before moving the body onto it, resting it in the missionary position. As best I could I attended to the wounds and dressed them. The body was dark and strong, the shoulders and biceps firm and bulging out of the shirt.
When I turned back to the body with a damp cloth, the eyes snapped back open, his strong grip evident as he grasped my neck in both his hands and began to squeeze.

I woke up curled atop the sheets. I was being spooned by the late summer chill that was around the room. I blinked hard against the morning light coming through window, why hadn’t I drawn the blind last night? I must have been super tired, and forgot. It had been a long week.
I made my way slowly downstairs, yawning and stretching as I went.
I stopped dead on the stairs when I saw the think veil of blood leading from the threshold and into the living room, it stuck out on the laminate flooring. I dared to peek around the living room door and saw him lying there, on the sofa underneath a makeshift blanket of coats. His arm lay limply by his side, as if he were a drunk sleeping off a hangover.
I was standing over him, my own hand over my mouth, startled by what I saw before me. He’d bled out in the night, from all possible avenues. It had started to not only pool but dry and crust over on the surface of the sofa, as well as the laminate flooring. The nose had shrunk back into the face, creating a hollow cove. The eyes were open and the brightest possible blue, but there was no sign of life within them.
If I weren’t so transfixed with the face, I’d have seen the left hand curl up into a ball and then relax again. The eyes suddenly snapped shut and then opened again, this time the bright green pupils stared back at me, startling me. Then closed and opened again, the pupils a deep, dark red this time. The body pulsed, and then he vomited all over the floor, a distinct mix of bile and blood. When finally the eyes sought and found me, they were black and soulless.
The hands reached for my neck and took hold. The scream got wedged somewhere between them.

I jerked awake, unaware of my surroundings in the pitch black. The only source of light came from my phone as I tapped the screen to wake it up. It glowed 02.11am, my conscience screamed at me.
Someone was knocking my front door.

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Amboy, by Tom J. Perrin

#horror #thriller

‘You going to Vegas?’ the pump attendant asked Mike.

‘Yes, sir, I am,’ Mike replied.

‘Fuck the sir, name’s Earl. I know a quicker route to Vegas from here.’

Earl of Earl’s Gas Station wore overalls, had huge hands and arms, teeth that were yellowing and a scarred face.

‘Okay…’

‘Take the 15 as far as Barstow; take the road that runs alongside the 40. Take the 66 until you find the 95 and then Vegas is a straight shot from there.’

Mike was skeptical. ‘Is it quicker than the highway?’

‘As the crow flies, no, but it’ll beat the traffic going to Vegas. …You’re not from round here, are you?’

‘I’m from Colorado originally.’

‘Take my advice, mountain boy; it’ll save you time. Card or cash?’

‘Card.’

‘Call it a round 70 then.’ The display showed $66.94. ‘I round up, you got a problem with that?’

‘Nope.’

He didn’t look like the kind of guy you’d like to have a problem with. Mike was just about to leave when there was a curt rasp on the window. Evidently the clerk had followed him out.

‘Take my advice mountain boy—you’ll be with your mountain friends before you know it.’

‘I will, thanks.’ Mike sped off, glad to be getting away.

Sitting in traffic approaching Barstow, the journey had already quadrupled in time. A banker based in Pasadena, Mike had done well for himself despite a tough upbringing. Losing his parents in a car crash at the age of 7, he had moved to LA to live with his grandparents. 24 years later, they were both dead and Mike was alone in the world. He considered Earl’s advice as he approached Barstow. He saw the road just off the 40, it was empty as far as the eye could see, not surprisingly. It went through the vacant desert for miles and miles. Swerving into the empty exit lane, Mike steered the Expo off the highway, silently cursing the traffic he was leaving behind.

The road ran smoothly alongside the Needles freeway until the sparsely populated town of Ludlow. A veer to the right took Mike away from the comforting lights of the freeway and into the darkness. There was nothing for miles; the vacant desert offered no evident directional signs. Not even tumbleweed offered the comfort of a stereotype. Phone signal was redundant out here, Mike was well and truly alone, trapped inside his Expedition and heading headfirst into a nothingness which quite frankly terrified him. The gas light had started glowing a few miles back, offering a dim bolt of light in the darkness. It seemed to scream YOU’RE FUCKED. He couldn’t believe he was out of gas already—he had had the tank filled at Earl’s, or so he thought. He knew there was something off about that place.

The headlights flashed the sign for Amboy, and for a split second he thought he saw somebody leaning on the sign. Mike pivoted in his seat to try and get a look back. The Expo bumped over something in the road and veered violently, and Mike was shocked into taking evasive action to stop the car from tipping over. Having managed to avoid tipping, Mike screeched beside a pump at Roy’s Motel and Café. Getting out he noticed that his front tyre had been punctured by something and was deflating, as were the other three. He walked back into the road and noticed the spike track lying across the road. Mike was suddenly terrified. There was nothing here but one lone building to offer Mike some home.

Rattling the door to Roy’s cafe, he found that it was padlocked shut. A closed until further notice sign clattered against the dusty front door. The only lights in this desert wasteland came from the headlights from his Expo; Mike was well and truly alone.

It wasn’t more than an hour before there were lights approaching Amboy, from the same direction as Mike. He’d locked himself in his car not long after finding the café locked up. The car—or truck, Mike couldn’t tell—made a perfect approach into the dusty parking lot across from the café. Where were the spikes? Mike thought. A cold shiver traveled down his spine.

Mike approached the car. He noticed the Earl’s Garage decal plastered across the side. The door opened. Earl got out of the driver’s side, smiling his yellow smile.

‘You need some help, mountain boy?’ There was something in his right hand.

It was then that Mike was struck from behind.

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The Ocularist by Ian Gammie

#doctors #eyes #ghosts #horror #ocularist

The Ocularist

In the second desk drawer from the bottom, hidden behind a small stack of index cards, sat two prosthetic eyes in their original packaging. Each eye was handcrafted and painted with expensive acrylics that had to be mailed in all the way from Chicago. It increased the cost of the prosthetics, but Martin was one of the few ocularists who specialized in blowing recycled cryolite glass and he liked to brag that his work had more personality than any mass-produced counterpart.

The ocularist tapped his fingers on the top of the boxes and sighed. Business wasn’t as good as it had once been. Too much childproofing, he suspected, too many kids staying in and playing video games instead of running around outside, climbing trees, throwing rocks. He’d made his name in careless accidents and when the carelessness went away, so did the customers. Selling his artisan eyes was all he could do to stay afloat. If he couldn’t have quantity, well, he had to make it up somehow.

The only patient of the day was a nine-year-old boy named Nolan Winters who’d had an unfortunate run in with a foul ball. The boy was wearing a black eyepatch and had a worn-down baseball glove on his left hand, which he was thoughtlessly punching.

“Stop that,” his mother whined from the corner. When Nolan shook his head, she turned to Martin and spoke in her grown-up voice, “Sorry, doctor, but he hasn’t taken it off since the accident.”

“That’s okay, Mrs. Winters, all I need are his eyes.”

Read the full story.

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