‘Want,’ a Horror Short Story

“I can’t believe you just did that, you humongous animal!” Dr. Will Cameron shouted in sobs as he looked up and watched his gigantic colleague, Dr. John Gula, licking human blood off his fingertips. “How could you just…pick up…Dr. Sanders and…eat her?”

“I was hungry,” thirty-foot-high Dr. Gula said, then belched. 

“You were hungry?” Cameron said. “That’s all you can say, you cannibalistic monster!”

“It must be one of the bizarre side effects of Aggrandizin, the drug we were going to test on the diseased fish around this island…”

“And you’re still hungry, after all those apes you ate,” Cameron said, looking up at Gula in horror. “Making you grow to that monstrous size.”

“Another…surprising…side effect of the drug,” Gula said, pulling up the tarpaulin he had wrapped around his waist to cover his nakedness. “And you know I had to eat the drugged apes, to stop them from eating us. One of them almost got you.”

“I’d rather we were eaten by the apes then to see this nightmare as it’s unfolding! I keep hoping I’ll wake up from a nightmare, but this…insane…moment seems all too real!”

“I find it as hard to believe as you do, Cameron.”

“We were only supposed to dose marine animals with the Aggrandizin, to speed up their ability to heal wounds and recover from disease, after the exposure to the pollution and toxic chemicals surrounding the island. How did this simple experiment turn into such a nightmare?”

“That baby shark grew in size, and hunger. It bit Sanders, she bumped into me, and I accidentally injected myself with the drug. I already explained that to both of you.”

“How much of the drug did you dose yourself with? Ten times the amount we gave that shark?”

“It must have been at least about ten times the amount we were going to dose the fish with,” Gula said, without a trace of emotion.

“And you ate all those apes!”

“It was either that, or they were going to eat us. We saw how ravenous they got after they, it’s more than safe to assume, broke into the phials of Aggrandizin in the boat, and how they grew like me, each time after they ate something. We saw how insatiable their hunger got, like mine, even to the point of eating what no animal of their species would normally ever eat, including flesh. We saw how they ate most of the plant and animal life here…”

“And you ate the rest, and Dr. Sanders, just now!”

“I couldn’t help myself, Cameron! Try to understand! I’m not any happier about it than you are.”

“You don’t seem to give a shit, John!”

“You don’t know the hunger that Aggrandizin causes!”

“I don’t wanna know!” Cameron bawled. “How could this have happened? How could we have gotten this drug so horribly wrong? This is like something out of a B science fiction movie. How could a mere drug cause someone to grow into a giant, of all things, and to hunger so much, that he’d eat apes, and another human being?”

Speaking of hunger, Gula was looking down at Cameron and licking his lips.

“John, don’t look at me like that,” Cameron said, backing up a few steps, with trembling legs.

“I can’t help it.” Gula was drooling as his eyes explored Cameron’s meaty body.

“John, only I can fit into the boat to go back out and get help for you. There’s no more food for you to eat here.”

“I’ll go fishing by hand in the ocean after I eat you.”

“The massive pollution in the water surrounding this island means that you won’t be able to eat any edible marine life here,” Cameron insisted. “That’s why we chose this island to do our experiments: to dose the sick fish, and hopefully save them from the poisons in the water. You can’t eat the marine life here. You’ll get sick.”

“The drug dose I took should be strong enough to repel any toxins from the dead fish near here.” He licked his lips again at Cameron, who shuddered at the sight.

“The toxic chemicals dumped in the water are so poisonous that even your Aggrandizin dosage, as excessive as it was, surely won’t be strong enough to counteract the toxicity of any dead fish floating around here.”

“You don’t know that for sure. You’re only saying that because you want to believe it. But even if what you say is right, I’ll go further out into the water. I’m getting larger and larger. I could conceivably wade far enough, with my gigantic size, to get past the polluted part.”

“You can’t swim, by your own admission, and the toxic chemicals are already spread out so far into the ocean around here that, even at your size, you won’t be able to wade out far enough to get past the pollution surrounding the island. The ring of pollution is like a thick donut, and this island is like the small hole in the centre, there’s so much donut out there.”

Gula licked his lips and said, “Donut.”

“OK, bad comparison,” Cameron said, shaking spastically at how Gula’s eyes were staring at him, appraising his tastiness. “Look, you need me alive to sail the boat back to the African mainland and get help. Just hang on, be patient, control your hunger, for God’s sake.”

Gula’s hand reached down to pick up Cameron, who dodged the huge fingers and started running away. “You can’t catch me; how can you expect to catch any fish by hand in the ocean?”

“I’ll practice and get better.” He reached for running Cameron and missed again.

“If you eat me,…you’ll have…no food left.” Cameron raced for the leafless trees that Gula and the apes had already fed on. “What will you do…after eating me…eat yourself? You eat, you grow…and only get hungrier. Aaaah!

Gula grabbed him and picked him up.

“The tarp is slipping off your waist!” Cameron said, hoping to distract Gula and make him let go.

“So what?” Gula said as he brought Cameron up to his face. “Nobody else is here to see me with my cock and balls hanging out.”

“After you eat me, the tarp won’t…be big enough…to cover you! You’ll rip out of it…the way you…ripped out…of your clothes…after eating…those apes!”

“Nobody will be here to see me.” 

“Exactly!” Cameron shouted. “Without me, you’ll have…no one to help you! You’ll be trapped…alone…on this island! With no more food!”

Gula opened his mouth wide enough to bite off Cameron’s head. Cameron put his hands on Gula’s upper lip, pushing away to keep from going in his mouth.

“Only I…can help you…find food!” Cameron shouted while kicking at Gula’s chin and swinging away from his mouth. “The water’s…toxicity…will damage…your skin…if you wade out…to find fish. The Aggrandizin…won’t be strong enough…to heal you. If you eat me, you’ll die!

“Yeah, I probably will.”

“Then, why won’t…you resist…the temptation…to eat me? Unh!

“I can’t help it,” Gula said, grabbing Cameron’s legs and aiming the feet at his mouth. “It’s in my nature to keep eating. I’m the scorpion, and you’re the frog, like in that old fable.”

He put Cameron’s legs in his mouth, up to his thighs. Cameron was screaming and kicking at Gula’s uvula, and at the roof of his mouth.

“No! John, don’t!

He felt Gula’s sharp incisors bite through his waist, cutting through his skin and muscles, and cracking the bones. He screamed as he saw the blood spraying everywhere. His now-separated upper half hung loose and shook; his eyes and mouth were wide open in horrific disbelief. He passed out.

Gula was chewing, cracking the bones and sighing with relief that his hunger was being satisfied…for the moment. He felt his body vibrating, as it always did whenever he ate something since his Aggrandizin dosage. He grew by about a foot.

He looked down. Cameron was right. The tarpaulin had fallen from his waist and onto the sand on the beach. A breeze was caressing his balls.

He gulped down Cameron’s masticated bottom half, licked the blood from his lips, and belched out loud.

“Goodbye, Cameron. Sorry about this.”

His mouth was now big enough to stuff in, with the greatest of ease, all of the upper half of Cameron’s body, so he did.

Crunch! Crunch! Crunch!

Blood splattered all over his face. The bald head of the chubby man looked like that of a giant baby’s having eaten tomato sauce and soaked red all over his cheeks. The white tarpaulin would be his diaper. How appropriate.

Gulp. Burp!

He wiped the blood off his face and licked his hand. To see the day when he would actually find cannibalism to be appetizing…what a shock. His body vibrated again, and he grew another foot or so.

He picked up the tarp and wrapped it around his waist. “You were wrong about one thing, Cameron. It’s still large enough to cover my dick and ass.”

Then, he felt another pang of hunger.

“Oh, shit. What do I do now?”

He walked over to the edge of the shore, where the filthy water washed up pieces of plastic and dead fish. The water was a mix of blue and yellow from all the toxic waste in it.

“Eww,” he groaned at the sight of the dead fish’s unnatural colours. As hungry as I am, he thought, there’s no way in hell that I’m eating any of those.

He looked far out to sea. Cameron was right again: the pollution went so far out that Gula couldn’t see any pure blue water anywhere beyond the filth. Even at his enlarged size, he still couldn’t see far enough.

I wonder if I can see the shark out there, he thought, straining his eyes. I’ll bet it’s gotten really huge by now. If I were to see it, I might consider going out there, trying to swim and risking drowning, then eating it if I caught it…or letting it eat me, even. I can’t imagine wanting to continue living like this. A part of me actually wouldn’t mind drowning or being eaten by the shark.

His stomach was growling.

To think, that shark was a baby, swimming just outside the periphery of the ring of pollution. We caught it in a net, Sarah Sanders held its wiggling body, and I stuck the needle of Aggrandizin in its side. I dosed it with a generous amount. Then it bit her on the arm.

The hunger in his gut was getting painful.

She screamed and jerked her arm. Her elbow nudged my arm, and I stabbed the needle into my left wrist. I accidentally pushed the plunger all the way in and injected a huge dose of the drug into my arm. Neither she nor Cameron noticed what I’d done, they were so busy fussing with the shaking, growing shark and throwing it back into the water, then worrying about treating her bite wound. Cameron said the baby shark had already grown to almost twice its size, just from the one bite.

Another stomach growl.

Back in the water, it caught a fish in its teeth and ate it. It grew some more. We saw it eat a few more fish; now it had grown to about the size of a great white shark…and like at the end of that old Spielberg movie, it attacked our boat.

Another hunger pang.

Cameron got out his binoculars, and after about half a minute of frantically searching for somewhere we could go to save ourselves from the shark, he spotted this island. Getting here would have been the fastest way to get to safety from the shark, which we saw eating more and more fish, and growing and growing, and trying to ram a hole in the side of our boat. We turned on the motor and raced over here. We’d already eaten all of the food on the boat, so I was holding back as best I could…as I am now—oh, this is getting difficult! Anyway, when we got here, I ran over to the trees and wolfed down as many of the leaves as I could stuff into my mouth. Cameron and Sanders were shocked at my behaviour. They left the boat and ran into the woods with me. Some apes must have gotten into our boat, found the phials of Aggrandizin, broke the glass, and drank from it; because soon after, they were growing and eating like the baby shark and me.

His hunger was getting unbearable.

As I, grabbing at leaves and grass to eat, was being chased by Cameron and Sanders, the apes that must have had the drug ran back into the woods with us. They ran around eating leaves and other animals, too. We ended up eating all the leaves off the trees on this tiny island. I was ripping out of my clothes. One of the enlarged, ravenous apes jumped on Cameron; in its new taste for flesh-eating, it would have eaten him, but I grabbed it and ate it. Again, Cameron and Sanders were shocked at my behaviour. I fought off the other attacking apes, and ate them.

Another stomach growl. “Unh!” he grunted.

After having feasted on the rest of the island’s apes, plants and insects, Gula continued in his thoughts, I’d grown so big, I ripped out of my clothes. Sanders gave me the tarpaulin to cover myself with, then…I…ate her. How could I have done that? But…how could I not have…

Oh, the hunger

He was shaking…gasping and wheezing…

“Aaaaaah!” he screamed, running into the water. It was slimy and disgusting. He grabbed a large shark’s corpse and tried eating it out of desperation. It tasted so awful, he spat it out within a second. He waded out as far as he could go. The…liquid…more like piss than water, had reached his chin. Waves splashed on his face. Then he remembered: “I…can’t…swim.”

He turned around and rushed back, plodding in the water and almost falling into it, till he finally got back onto the land, soaking in caustic filth and sobbing in despair. The Aggrandizin managed to heal his skin reasonably well, but his stomach was growling so much, it was like having a huge second mouth…or many little mouths…in his belly. 

“For God’s sake,” he said in gasps and sobs. “We made Aggrandizin…to make animals stronger, more immune…to disease and injury, not to make them…become giant gluttons!” We didn’t see any of these side effects during the lab experiments on the rats, he thought. Granted, we gave them very small doses, unlike with the baby shark (or me, for that matter). We weren’t in charge of feeding them afterwards, and we came out here quickly after what seemed successful experiments. I guess I was too proud to wait and see if there would be any undesirable after-effects. I just saw quick healing, and we all jumped to conclusions. There was an email or two from the people in the lab; we never got around to reading them—maybe the messages were a warning about such after-effects. I don’t know—it’s too late for me now.

He looked down at his arms.

They looked tasty.

He was salivating. 

“Come on, John,” he said. “You can’t be serious.”

The growing happens only after eating, he thought as he looked at that meaty flesh. My powers of healing, particularly strong after my large dose, could compensate for the bite wounds, at least to enough of an extent that, if a boat comes by, I can be taken away and saved.

His stomach growled again. He was shaking.

“I can’t take this anymore. It’s crazy, but I have to do it.”

He bit off a huge chunk off of his left forearm. Blood sprayed everywhere.

“Aaaaah!” he screamed in clenched teeth as he began chewing.

The pain was excruciating, but the delicious flesh was satisfying in a way that made him forget the throbbing. 

He swallowed. He felt the flesh enter his stomach, filling in the void.

“Aaaaah!” he sighed. Thanks to the Aggrandizin, the pain was subsiding, the blood clotted faster, and he felt every encouragement that the wound would soon just be a crater in his arm. He felt those familiar vibrations, and grew a tiny bit.

He enjoyed a few fleeting minutes of relief from his hunger. The pain in his arm disappeared.

“Wow,” he said. “That was a fast recovery.”

Then he felt another hunger pang.

“And that was fast, too,” he said. “Fuck!” I can’t just keep taking bites out of myself…but what else am I going to eat? My shit when I crap? (Funny thing: I’ve eaten so much, yet I never piss or shit…why is that? Is it another side effect of the Aggrandizin? What kind of bizarre voodoo drug did we synthesize in that lab?) “Am I drugged, or possessed of a devil?”

He looked at his left arm, where the freshly healed crater was. Then he looked at the flesh right next to it, just before his elbow.

Maybe a huge ship will sail by and find me here, he thought. Hope, hope.

Another pang…a sharp, stinging one.

He opened his mouth wide, and his head dove onto that arm.

“Unh!” he grunted as he sank his teeth into that coveted arm-flesh. His teeth dug deep enough to reach the bone, several square inches of which were exposed after his ripping the flesh off, spraying blood all over the place and making him groan muffled whimpers of pain as he chewed.

Again, when the flesh hit his stomach, the more important pain was gone…for the moment.

He trembled, then grew another tiny bit.

With my growing size, I should be more visible to ships, he thought, massaging his throbbing arm as it healed. Then again, I’m not growing as much as I was before. It must be because I’m eating myself instead of eating other living things.

Speaking of eating, he wanted more flesh. He felt like a pregnant woman whose belly was a womb with half a dozen hungry fetuses aching for food.

“I’m getting used to the pain,” he said as he looked at his upper left arm. “If only I could get used to the hunger.”

He bit off the bicep; again, the bite went all the way to the bone. His face was red with blood. He grunted in pain, but indeed, he found it more and more bearable.

His want of flesh continued to grow.

He looked over at his right arm now…and he coveted the flesh he saw.

All I do is want, want, want! he thought. I always want more! I only want more! I can never stop wanting! I’m wanting of flesh on my arms, and I only want to eat more. I have a surplus of want, and a lack of anything to eat other than myself! This is madness!

He bit off a chunk from his right forearm. He was so used to the pain now that he easily ignored it. His body wasn’t growing anymore, though.

The only thing growing now was his hunger. He now felt as though his, so to speak, belly-womb was housing a dozen so-to-speak hungry fetuses instead of half a dozen.

The moments of relief were getting shorter and shorter. Within an hour, he’d ripped off and eaten all of the flesh on his arms. He’d chewed off the flesh on his hands and fingers. All that was left of them were bone and ligaments.

The sharp ends of his finger-bones were useful; he could use them to rip off flesh on parts of his body that he couldn’t reach with his head. 

Now that his arm flesh was all gone, he looked down at his legs.

He licked his lips.

Oh, so much meat, he thought.

Without even hesitating anymore, he dug his bony fingers deep into his upper right leg flesh, tore off a huge chunk, right down to the bone, and didn’t seem aware of any pain in his leg as he brought the meat up to his grinning face. He munched on it with manic glee.

No sooner did he gulp it down and feel it hit his thankful stomach, but he felt more hunger pangs.

I’m slowly killing myself, he thought, but I can’t help it. It’s my nature. I’m the scorpion on the scorpion. I’m sitting on my own back, crossing the river and stinging myself.

He tore off a chunk of flesh from his upper left leg and stuffed the bloody mass into his greedy mouth. He chomped on it with a gory grin.

“Mmm!” He swallowed and belched.

Next, he ripped off his left calf and stuffed it in.

I am so high in protein! he thought, then let out a macabre laugh.

He shrank a little.

He ripped off his right calf and ate it. His hunger went on in an unbroken line—no more brief moments of relief, not even for a few seconds. He dug his fingers into the remaining flesh on his legs, tore it all off, and ate it. He shrank some more.

Within another hour, all four of his limbs were just bone and ligaments. His hunger, the only thing growing, was growing far faster than he was shrinking.

He dug his fingers into his cheeks, ripped them off, and ate them. The sight of all of his teeth, in what would have looked like a perpetual grin (were he to have looked at his reflection in the water), made no difference in terms of his facial expression; for if that cheek and lip flesh were to have remained on his face, he’d still have been grinning from ear to ear, his teeth just as fully exposed, he was enjoying his ghoulish meal so much.

The healing effects of the Aggrandizin were still working just enough to keep him alive, but they were abating, fading away little by little. Though his healing was slower, his growing urge to eat overshadowed the pain from the wounds so much that he seemed numb everywhere except in his stomach.

He ripped all the skin off of his face. After eating that, he felt himself shrinking again. He was now just slightly larger than his original size.

He looked out to sea; he saw no ships anywhere.

His stomach was growling, louder and louder, like a thousand voices inside, whining for food. 

He felt his energy beginning to wane, too.

With effort, he ripped off the flesh on his chest and ate it. In his skeletal hands, he cupped the blood, as best he could, to stop it from dripping on the sand, then he drank it. 

Still, he just got hungrier and hungrier.

He tore the flesh off his neck, all the way around from the front to the back. His neck bone, larynx, and esophagus were showing. He ate the flesh, chewing with lethargic slowness.

He looked down at his chest, where his upper ribcage was showing. Though he’d shrunk all the way back to his original size, his stomach was bloated with all the rest of his eaten body. Instead of being rotund, though, it oddly had a number of bumps on it.

Yet still, his stomach felt as if empty.

He ripped the flesh off of his buttocks and ate it. Then, amazingly, his cock and balls became appetizing, so he tore them off and ate them, his hunger so severe that he gave no thought to how disturbing it would be to lose them. There is no castration anxiety when one is as famished as he was, apparently.

He was sitting in a lake of reddened sand. All that was left of his body were his skull-like face, with his eyeballs showing because he’d ripped off and eaten his eyelids, his exposed skeleton—his ribcage being the only cover of his heart and lungs—and the skin on his back.

He couldn’t bear the sight of his lower body. He’d have shuddered to think what his face must have looked like in the reflection in the water. What have I reduced myself to? he wondered. And the Aggrandizin is still keeping me alive…how?…even though I can feel my life slowly fading away. My energy is draining from me, little by little. The only energy I seem to have in large amounts is in my guts. 

He looked out to the polluted sea…still, no ships to be seen anywhere out there.

He looked back down at his bloody, mutilated body, at the protrusions in his belly.

“There is nothing good to see, anywhere,” he said. “And still, I’m hungry.” His bony index fingers stabbed into his eyes. “Unghh!” He pulled them out of their sockets, each pull making a popping sound, then he popped them into his mouth.

He wanted to sob, but he had only blood for tears pouring out of the sockets.

His stomach felt about to burst, it was so stuffed.

Still, he hungered.

He began scratching his back for more flesh to eat, his diminishing strength making those scratches slower and shallower. As he stuffed his bony face with the bloody flesh, he felt the strain on his stomach.

And he was still hungry.

After ripping off all the flesh he could reach on his back and eating it, he tore into his guts, ripped out his pancreas, bits of intestine, and his kidneys. He stuffed the meat in his mouth. It tasted awful, but it gave some relief—not much—to his hunger.

How am I still alive? he wondered. I can feel myself slowly weakening, slowly dying, but I should have already been dead long ago. Was the dose I gave myself really so strong as to sustain me in this extremity?

His hunger pangs continued to grow, even as his energy was fading away.

I don’t wanna live anymore, he thought. That’s for sure. Maybe I can speed up my death. Destroying my vitals should do it. The apes that had the Aggrandizin died soon enough when I ate them; surely I can die soon enough if I keep eating myself, right to the bone. Surely the Aggrandizin won’t keep me going forever.

He dug his hand under and behind his ribcage and tore out a lung. He ate it. Fantastically, he was still conscious and breathing. He tore out and ate the other lung: he still lived. He couldn’t believe it—the drug apparently made breathing unnecessary to live. He ripped out his heart and ate it. The Aggrandizin was, to some extent, counteracting all of these mutilations, though his life was ever so slowly fading away.

Has the drug made me immortal? Am I hallucinating in my fading consciousness? Is that how these impossibilities are possible?

He felt a jiggling of those protrusions in his stomach—not the rumblings of hunger so much as the sensation of what seemed to be small living beings in there.

Am I immortal, or are there immortal beings inside me? Has the drug resurrected and regenerated all the bits of flesh that I’ve digested? Is Aggrandizin making us all immortal, me and those inside me? Or, in my delirium, am I hallucinating their existence?

With his energy level so low now, he couldn’t lift his arms to rip off any more body parts to stuff into his mouth. Yet his hunger kept growing…especially the hunger of whatever had awoken and was growing and fidgeting around inside his belly.

Those things were poking bubbly bumps against his belly, making wavelike movements along the surface of his skin there. After a while of this continued pressure, one of the things poked a hole in his belly, spitting blood out of the opening.

It kept pushing, ripping a larger hole and spraying out more blood. The rest of his body lay still and, finally, he was dead. The thing pushed its way out of the hole, followed by all of the others, one by one, until the bloody belly lay empty on the soaking red sand.

Those things, kept alive by the Aggrandizin that they all shared, were blood-covered blobs, lumpy but basically spherical, with mouths that had serrated, teeth-like protrusions all along the edges. They looked like gruesome, deformed 3-D Pac-men, each about the size of a tennis ball. They rolled out over the sand in a blind search for food, their mouths flapping open and shut without ever tiring, while making grotesque grunting sounds: “Ngah-ngah-ngah-ngah!…” They quickly turned beige as more and more sand grains stuck to the blood on them.

Some rolled out to sea, eating the plastic and dead fish. They would die of food poisoning minutes after their exposure to the impurities in the water. Others rolled into the woods, eating the few remaining blades of grass and leaves on the trees. As they ate, they grew somewhat.

By the time they’d eaten everything alive on the island, they too found their energy waning as their insatiability only strengthened. Instinctively, as they had sensed while hibernating inside Gula’s guts, they knew that eating each other was futile. Each of them about the size of a medicine ball now, they just lay on the ground, rocking from side to side as their mouths faced the sky, as if babies wishing to cry out to their mother for something to eat.

All of them were in the middle of the leafless forest, hidden by the trunks of the trees. Night was falling. They were saving what little energy they had left for any possible food that chance might provide. They didn’t make the slightest sound.

Within an hour, the stars and moon offered the only light. A large, lost boat came ashore, filled with about twenty people—adults, elderly, and children.

“Where are we?” a ten-year-old boy among them said as they began disembarking.

“I don’t know,” his mother said. “It stinks here. Pollution in the water…Do I smell blood?

Everyone got off the boat after a few minutes. Some of them, those who hadn’t smelled the blood, wandered into the woods.

The eating blobs felt the vibrations from all the footsteps. Their mouths curled up into smiles.

My Body Horror Short Story, ‘Blue,’ Published in the July Issue of the Terror Tract E-zine

I originally published ‘Blue’ here on my blog, but now that it’s appearing in the July issue of the Terror Tract e-zine (check the table of contents to see “Blue” listed there), I’ve returned my story as published here to ‘draft’ status.

My story is about a blue, gelatinous substance from outer space landing on a tree in a park not too far away from the home of the protagonist, who gets a splattering of the blue on his skin. Over time, the blue takes over more and more of his body.

Apart from my short story, the July e-zine also has stories from such writers as Jack Rollins and John Barackman, as well as Jim Merwin, Jay Seate, Alfred Gremsly, Isaac Cooper, Kelly Evans, Ryan Woods, Becky Narron, Terry Miller, Matt Scott, and Anthony D Redden. There’s also an interview with Stefan Lear.

Please go out and get a copy of the e-zine. If you like horror fiction, you’ll love Terror Tract! 🙂

My Horror Short Story, “Berserk,” Published in the Horror Anthology, “A is for Aliens”

My science fiction/horror short story, “Berserk,” has been included in this anthology of horror fiction, A is for Aliens, the first of twenty-six alphabetized anthologies, A to Z of Horror, published by Red Cape Publishing. I originally meant my story idea, called Berserkers, to be more or less a zombie story; but I’ve changed my mind, so this short story is meant to give the reader a taste of what it will be about. It’s now going to be sort of like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but with the influence of Bion‘s notions of beta elements, the beta screen, and bizarre objects. (Read here for more information about these concepts.)

Anyway, “Berserk” is about aliens that come to the earth in the form of tiny dots of light. When they enter you, they take control if you accept them. But if you reject them, they end up driving you mad, causing you to hallucinate when you try to project them outward; eventually, your projecting of them causes your body to be torn into pieces, each with its own independent consciousness, until you finally die. Those who accept the tiny, glowing aliens spread them to other people, who will either accept or reject them.

Other talented authors in this anthology include Mark Anthony Smith, Theresa Jacobs, PJ Blakely-Novis, Daren Callow, Dona Fox, Megan Neumann, Nancy Kilpatrick, Jeremy Megargee, Astrid Addama, and Lesley Drane. (The author/editor wasn’t able to add all of the authors in the author list; for some reason, he’s had this problem with a few anthologies. So my name isn’t included, at the moment, on the Amazon page. My story can be found, however, on page 151.) All of their stories, as the title of the anthology indicates, are about aliens coming to Earth and terrorizing humans in one form or another.

Go out and get your copy of the Kindle Edition. The pre-order price is $1.35, and it will be auto-delivered to your Kindle on March 13, 2020. I want to thank author and editor Peter (PJ Blakely-Novis) for accepting my story. You rock! 🙂

My Horror Short Story, “Itchy,” Published in the Horror Anthology, “Infestation”

My horror short story, “Itchy,” has been included in the Terror Tract horror anthology, Infestation. The story is about tiny, almost microscopic aliens on a meteorite that lands on an open field near the home of the protagonist, who gets too close to it and gets the aliens all over his body, making him itch in the worst way. He keeps scratching and scratching, cutting wounds into his body, and…well, you figure out for yourself where the story is heading.

The other fifteen talented writers in the anthology are Kelly Evans, Josh Davis, Scott M. Goriscak, James Pyles, Norbert Góra, Rob Smales, Andy Rausch, Alistair Rey, Eddie J. Morales, Mark Cassell, R.C. Rumple, Blaze Ward, Jason O’Toole, Dusty Davis, and Cynthia A. Knoble.

As the title of the anthology indicates, all the stories are about getting infected with some kind of deadly disease, and the horrifying results of this happening to the victims. Go get your copy of the Kindle Edition; the pre-order price is $5.24, and it will be auto-delivered to your Kindle on March 21st, 2020. I hope you enjoy my story, as well as all the others.

I want to give a big thank you to Becky Narron for accepting my story. Hugs and kisses to her! 🙂

My Horror Short Story, ‘Bone Cabin,’ In the November Issue of ‘Terror Tract’

I’m thrilled to announce that I have another horror short story of mine to be published in next month’s issue of Terror Tract. The name of my story is “Bone Cabin.” I don’t want to go into any detail as to what the story is about, but let’s just say that when it comes to any place you stay for a vacation, be sure that you won’t be too cramped in…

Other talented writers included in this November 2019 issue are Theresa Scott-Matthews, Cody W. Higgins, John Palisano, Scott Deegan, Howard Carlyle, Dusty Davis, Edmund Stone, David B. Harrington, Andy Rausch, David Niall Wilson, Timothy A. Wiseman, Ryan Woods, Charles Lynne, and Thomas S. Gunther.

Here’s a pre-order link.

So, go out and get a copy of these scary stories. I want to give a great big thank you to Becky Narron for including my story this month. Hugs and kisses to you! 🙂

‘Branches,’ a Horror Short Story

The visitor promised the people in town that he wouldn’t go into the forest. The warning they gave, that whoever went in never came out, because of a demonic presence left there by a witch centuries ago, was a silly tale; but to make them feel better, he promised he’d stay away from the trees.

He walked along a trail with bushes to his left and a fence of jagged wood to his right, with lush, tall grasses of yellow and green jutting out from behind it. The sky was a greyish-blue, but still, overall the scenery was too idyllic to pass up enjoying. Fresh air all around him was a balm to his skin.

He approached the shady entrance to the woods, then stopped. It’s the end of the line, he thought. I guess I’d better turn around and go back.

But he didn’t.

How stupid, he thought. It’s just a forest, no magic. What could possibly happen to me in there besides getting lost? The owner of the diner had said, ‘You die in there…yet at the same time, you don’t.’ What’s that even supposed to mean? 

“Forget it. I don’t have time anyway.” He turned around.

He took no more than one step away when he saw a flurry of dollar bills blown past him in the direction of the entry. A few bills flew into his hands…hundred dollar bills.

“Holy shit!” he whispered, then looked back at all the others being blown into the forest. Without thinking, he ran after them.

As he entered the darkness, he managed to grab a few more flying bills. He stuffed them in his pockets and went in further, reaching blindly for more, unable to see. Enveloped in black…His hands managed to find three more bills, then he groped about in the air in all futility, coming up empty.

The wind blew around him, caressing his skin, sounding almost like a whisper. “Oh…no…don’t…”

After reaching and reaching for more bills with no success, he finally gave up. He turned the way he had entered to leave.

Black. Everywhere.

“OK, what the f–”

Something whacked him in the ass, hard. It felt like a thick piece of wood. Not a plank. A branch.

Now he was shaking.

He stood there, rooted in the spot for about ten seconds. His heavy breathing drowned out any intelligibility in the whispering wind he still heard.

What felt like the roughness of bark rubbed against his arm.

“God!” he screamed, then ran in the direction of the way he’d come in, even though he now saw as black a void there as he saw everywhere else. He kept running and running, in the exact same trajectory as the curve of the path into the woods, but he ran at least three times the distance he’d come in from the original point of entry. Still, he kept running that way, in total darkness.

Until a thick tree branch ran him through like a sword.

It entered his gut, level with and to the left of his navel, then out his back to the right of his spine. He shook all over and coughed out blood. The branch lifted him two feet off the ground.

But he never passed out.

Wiry thin branches coiled around his wrists and ankles, tightened their grips, and stretched his limbs out to the point of his shoulders and thighs hurting.

Then the screaming began.

Not his screaming…the wailing of what seemed a million souls trapped in Hell surrounded him, impaling his eardrums.

His arms and legs were being pulled more and more…the pain was unbearable…yet he never lost consciousness!

He’d surely lost enough blood by now to die…yet he was wide awake! He felt a sharp, almost popping pain in his shoulders and femora/pelvis, which had just been dislocated!

Still, he didn’t pass out.

Then he remembered what the owner of the diner said: “You die in there…yet, you don’t.”

His arms and legs were torn off. Piercing screams all around…not his screams, though: he had too much blood clogging his throat to vocalize at all.

What felt like about a dozen thin but strong branches stabbed through his chest and guts, one through his heart.

A vine coiled around his neck, choking him tighter and tighter until it crushed his windpipe. It was torture not being able to breathe, and in his thoughts he begged to die…at least to pass out.

But he wouldn’t.

The vine was pulling his head up, pulling…pulling…until his neck-bone cracked, the flesh there tore, and his head came off.

He didn’t stop feeling the pain all over his body, though, even with his head removed…he was conscious of the pain everywhere.

Branches slashed and stabbed through his severed arms and legs, even making multiple stigmatas, as it were, through his hands and feet.

And he felt it all.

Branches stabbed into his face: two from the top-back poked his eyeballs out. A thick one went in his mouth, punched out most of his teeth, and went through the lower back of his head. Thin branches went up his nostrils, tore up his nose, and stabbed his brain. One branch stabbed into his right ear and went out his left.

Yet he never stopped hearing the screaming.

A branch rammed deep into his rectum and tore his intestines apart. All these impaling branches now moved in diverging directions and tore his head, torso, arms, and legs into pieces.

This was not the end of the tearing…

…and fantastically, he was still as conscious as if he’d been unharmed.

His shattered body parts could ‘see’ as if he had millions of eyes, and ‘hear’ with millions of ears, all the screams of previous victims. All the mutilated pieces of his body were themselves tearing and dividing into smaller and smaller fragments, by some kind of magical power that proved the townspeople right.

He felt his scattered drops of blood divide…painfully. He felt his cells being torn apart…were his atoms splitting apart? His body felt as if it were a nuclear bomb going off.

The only things unbroken were his continued consciousness…and his excruciating pain. The only coming together he felt was that between him and his fellow screaming sufferers, a solidarity of souls in a Hades of pain, endless waves of an ongoing throbbing.

Still, he remained so aware of his surroundings that he and the battalion of the damned he’d joined noticed those hundred dollar bills fluttering yet again into the forest from the once-again sunlit entry. A young woman came in trying to grab those bills. All he and his kindred sufferers could do, with their infinitesimally soft chorus of voices, was whisper, “Oh…no…don’t…”

‘Bloom,’ a Horror Short Story

Muir Cantell stared at the new flower he found in his greenhouse late that night. How did it get there? If his wife, Paula, had brought it in, surely she would have told him about it.

It was a beautiful, but unique flower. He’d never seen this kind of flower ever before, in all his years of gardening. It had silvery-gold, shining petals, with touches of bright red along some of the edges. A silvery gold that made wealth seem like poverty, a red like freshly-shed blood.

The flower seemed to stare back at him as it emerged from the black shadows; the bright petals were a chiaroscuro contrast to their home in the darkness. The petals seemed to speak to him.

Their language was their scent, an alien, dirty smell, but a smell that made him want to stay by the flower more and more, the longer he smelled it.

He watered it lovingly, then left to go to bed in his house beside the greenhouse, wanting to stay with the flower, but also afraid to stay.

***************

The next morning, he and Paula went into the greenhouse to begin the business day of selling flowers. He hurried over to the new flower, while his wife stayed at the other end of the greenhouse, as if trying to avoid the flower. When he reached the corner of the greenhouse where the flower was, he noticed an odd thing.

There were now two flowers.

The second was an identical twin of the first. The smell of the flowers was, as would be expected, twice as powerful as it had been the night before.

“It’s a…miracle,” Muir sighed, and stood before the flowers, almost as if in a trance. “They’re magical.”

He picked up his watering can and poured water on the two flowers, grinning at their glowing beauty.

The petals opened wider to receive the water. The flowers were like mouths that were opening not only to drink the water, but to thank their loving gardener. 

Tiny black seeds, ones as small as sesame seeds, flew out of the centre of both flowers and landed in the soil surrounding them.

“Does this mean I’ll get two more beautiful flowers by the end of the day?” he whispered to the flowers, imagining they could hear his words.

“Hey, Muir!” Paula called from the other side of the greenhouse. “We have customers here! Come on!”

“You handle it, honey,” he said, gazing at his flowers. “I’m busy here.”

“You bastard,” she whispered, then turned her frown upside down to meet the customers. “So, Helen, what can I do for you today?”

“What are those flowers your husband is so interested in?” Helen asked. “He looks as if he’s under a spell.”

“Something we got recently. They sure are pretty, but–I don’t know, there’s something about them…”

Muir pulled himself away from the flowers and rushed over to where Paula and Helen were.

Wow, he thought, I mustn’t let myself be around those two beauties for too long. They have some kind of hold on me. He went past the two women without saying a word.

“Good,” Paula said, assuming he was going to serve the other customer there, a man in his thirties looking at some orchids. “It’s about time you did your jo–hey, where ya goin’?”

Muir ran out of the greenhouse.

“What?” the male customer said. “I thought he was going to–”

“So did I,” Paula said. “Maybe he needs to use the bathroom. Well, I guess I have to take care of you both myself. Do you want some orchids today, Mr. Gadd?” 

“Yes, Mrs. Cantell,” he said. “But what about those flowers your husband was obsessing over?”

“Yeah, what about them?” Paula asked, then all three of them went over to those two flowers.

When they came within smelling distance, the dirty reek was overwhelming. The three tilted their heads back and said, “Whoa!” at the same time.

“They are pretty flowers, but that smell,” Helen said. “It kind of pulls you in and pushes you away at the same time.” She held her nose, but kept looking at them.

“All they do is push me away,” Mr. Gadd said, squinting and holding his nose. “They’re a dangerous beautiful. It feels like they’re pulling you in to destroy you.”

“I agree,” Paula said, frowning and looking askance at them. “I remember just one flower. Muir seems to have sneaked another flower in here.” She looked closer before wincing. “And what’s that little stem in the…”

“What are you doing?” Muir shouted as he rushed back to the flowers, pushing his wife and Mr. Gadd to the side to get back to his darlings. “Don’t touch them!”

“Muir, what’s the matter with you?” Paula asked.

“Well, they are lovely,” Helen said. “You just have to get used to the smell. I’d like to buy one.”

“They aren’t for sale,” Muir said. “They’re mine.”

“Honey,” Paula said. “You and I are going to have a talk about those flowers later.”

“Yeah, yeah, whatever,” he said, gesturing to them to go away. He looked down at the soil in anticipation. He was practically salivating.

Paula and Mr. Gadd walked away with furrows of worry on their brows. Helen followed, but was looking back at the flowers from time to time.

“Paula?” she asked. “Before I go, could I please borrow your purple hat? I’d like to take it to the haberdasher to have him help design a copy for me. Your hat is so unique, and so pretty. May I copy it, please?”

“Sure,” Paula said. “As soon as we’re done here with Mr. Gadd, I’ll take you over to the house and give it to you.”

“Thanks,” Helen said.

Muir just kept grinning and staring at his flowers, and at the soil where the seeds had fallen and sunk into.

On either side of the two flowers, he saw two little thin stalks growing.

******************

As soon as the greenhouse was empty of customers, which was a mere twenty minutes after Helen and Mr. Gadd left, Paula walked over to Muir, who was still watching the flowers. He was gazing at them in his usual, grinning daze.

“OK, Muir, what’s with you and those flow–” she began, then froze with widened eyes.

There were now four fully-grown flowers.

“Muir, where did you get that flower, the first one, I mean?”

“I didn’t,” he said, finally looking away from them. “I thought you got it.”

I thought you got it,” she said. “What’s going on?”

“I don’t know.” He stepped back from the flowers, and turned his smile upside-down. “Who gave them to us, or rather, what did?”

“Let’s get away from them,” she said, taking him by the arm and pulling him back. “The smell is awful. That flower–those flowers–are giving me the creeps. How could two new flowers have grown out of nowhere so quickly?”

“Three new flowers. The second grew late last night.”

“My God. I’ve never seen that kind of flower in my life.”

“Nor have I. They’re a gift from heaven.”

“Or a curse from hell. In any case, they’re something completely alien. They’re…scary. Let’s throw them away. Let’s kill them.”

“No!” he shouted, picking up a trowel and aiming it at her heart. He scowled at her like a vicious dog, baring a few teeth like fangs; the hand holding the trowel was shaking.

Her whole body was now shaking.

The whites of almost all her eyeballs, it seemed, were showing as she stared at that trowel, then at his own wild eyes. Her eyes didn’t see her husband anymore, for his eyes weren’t the eyes of her husband–she was sure of that.

“Who…are you?” she almost sobbed, then ran out of the greenhouse and back home.

He looked down at the trowel he’d just threatened his wife with. “Indeed,” he gasped. Tears were soaking his eyes. He ran out after her, wanting to scream out an apology, but too ashamed to speak.

*****************

He’d been lying in bed, shaking, for the rest of the day. He was pale. An itch made him want to go back to the flowers…to see if they were safe and healthy, but he didn’t dare, for he sensed what they were doing to him, and making him like what they were doing.

Paula had been sitting on the sofa all day, rocking back and forth, but relieved that at least he understood he’d flipped his lid, and was staying away from the flowers. By the evening, she was finally starting to calm down.

Then Helen knocked on the front door. Paula answered the door.

“Yes, Helen,” she said with a smile to hide her fear. “Are you finished with my hat?”

“No, not yet,” Helen said. “It’s about those flowers. I know your husband doesn’t want to sell any of them, but I just must have one. I’ll pay you any amount he wants.”

“Well…they’re rather dang–I mean, I have a bad feeling about…” She looked up to the second-floor bedroom and thought about Muir, who, for all she knew, was much better now. “Well, maybe we can spare one flower and see what happens.”

Paula led Helen out to the greenhouse. When they reached the far corner where the new flowers were, they saw eight of them. The smell was overpowering.

“Are you sure you want one?” Paula asked Helen. “They smell awful. Oh!

“Oh, it’s not so bad,” Helen said. “If I grow only one, I should be able to tolerate the smell. They’re just so pretty and colourful.”

“OK, but you may find yourself with more than one flower, and sooner than you know. There’s something spooky about…”

“Oh, they’re just flowers. I can kill them if I don’t like them. But I must have one. I’ll give you $20 for one.” Helen held out a $20 bill for Paula, who took it.

“Well, OK,” Paula said. “Pick whichever one you like, not that there’s any variation between–”

Helen had already snatched one and run out of the greenhouse without even saying good night to Paula.

Well, Paula thought, at least we got rid of one of them. Muir won’t miss a flower he never saw grow, surely.

*****************

The next morning, Muir felt unable to stand staying away from his precious flowers anymore, so he ran out to the greenhouse to check up on them.

I saw four seeds fly out of my flowers after I last watered them, he thought as he approached them. I should see eight now. “What?” he shouted. “Only seven?”

He watered the remaining seven with feverish speed, watched seven little black seeds fly out and land in the surrounding soil, then ran back to the house. He found an axe in the basement, then looked up to the ground floor. He was gritting his teeth.

“Paula?” he called up to her. “Come down here.”

“What is it?” she said in a shaky voice as she began descending the stairs. He held the axe behind him as she continued down to the basement. “Are you feeling any better?”

“You sold one of my flowers, didn’t you?”

“No, I didn’t,” she said with a twitch.

“Don’t you lie to me! There should have been at least eight flowers in that corner of the greenhouse, where I reserved all that extra soil for my flowers. There are only seven there now. You sold one. It’s the only explanation.”

“Muir, if you can replace the flowers so easily with new ones, what do you care if you give up one or two? We could make a lot of money with them. Helen gave us twenty dollars for the one I sold her. She was as crazy about them as you are.” Tears were rolling down her cheeks as she presented the money in a trembling hand. “Here, I’ll give you her money. Every one of those flowers that we sell, you can have all the money made from them. I won’t take a cent of it.”

He clenched his bared teeth and brought the axe out front. He started walking towards her.

“Muir…what are you doing?” She stepped back with spastic legs. “I-I think, you’re losing your…you need to see a…doctor. The flowers are doing this to you.”

“You sold my flower,” he growled, raising the axe over his head. “Now I have to get it back from her, and that won’t be easy. It’s your fault.”

“Muir, my God! Don’t! No!

He brought the axe down on her head, chopping it right down the middle, separating her cerebral hemispheres and spraying her blood everywhere.

****************

After showering and changing his clothes, Muir drove over to Helen’s house down the street. He had a small knife in his jacket pocket.

Her husband was at work, and their kids were all at school. She was at home alone. He rang the doorbell.

“Mr. Cantell,” she said as she approached the door. She opened the screen door and let him in. “Are you here about the flower, or Paula’s hat? I know you didn’t want to part with any of them, but I loved them so much that I just had to have one.” 

“Oh, that’s OK,” he lied. “I’d just like to see it one last time, if you don’t mind.”

She led him to the back of the house, where she had the flower.

“There it is,” he sighed, his heartbeat slowing down.

“Yes,” she said with a grin as wide as his. “It is so beautiful, and if you look…” she stepped in front and pointed at the surrounding soil with a trowel, “…a new flower is beginning to grow. See the thin, green stem?”

“Yes, I do,” he said as he pulled the knife out of his pocket. He slowly brought it over to her neck.

“These flowers are a gift that keeps on giving, aren’t they?” she said, still gawking at the flower with dazed eyes and a toothy smile as his knife reached a centimetre or two from her throat.

“Yes, but only one person can have them,” he said.

“You’re right,” she said. Me!

She spun around and stabbed him in the gut with the trowel. He’d only managed to slice a shallow, thin red line along the back of her neck.

He fell to the floor with a thud; only the handle of the trowel was sticking out of his stomach. A pool of blood surrounded his body in a growing circle.

She grabbed a nearby tissue and pressed it against her neck to stop the blood. Then she squatted down. “I knew you’d kill your wife for selling me the flower, and that you’d want to kill me for taking it from you,” she said. “Such is the power those flowers have over us. But now that you Cantells are gone, I can take over the greenhouse, and have all the flowers to myself. Oh, don’t worry: I won’t sell any of them.”

She cleaned up the basement, wrapped his body in old, dirty blankets, then took it out to his car, checking to make sure no one was around in the neighbourhood: everyone was either at work or at school, and the only other housewife of their area, a gossipy middle-aged woman named Mrs. Granville, lived far off on the other end of the street, to the far side of the greenhouse; so Helen figured she was safe from being seen.

She had his car keys, put on Paula’s hat, then drove away to a forest out of town to bury the body there. She drove back the Cantells’ house and found Paula’s body in the basement. 

Showing no emotion at the gory sight of the body (for owning those flowers was infinitely more important to her), Helen disposed of it near Muir’s.

Now the greenhouse was hers.

*****************

When the neighbours wondered why Helen was running the Cantells’ greenhouse business, her excuse was that Muir and Paula had suddenly decided to take a vacation, since they’d been stressed lately. The neighbours were suspicious of Helen running the business in place of the Cantells, since she had no experience in gardening or selling flowers. What’s more, Helen was more interested in watching over those new flowers, which by now numbered over thirty, than selling the others, which were dying from neglect. 

When the customers realized Helen had no intention of selling any of the new flowers, which soon became the vast majority of those in the greenhouse, they all left with frowns.

Mr. Gadd stopped by a week after the murders, and found himself concerned not so much from the change from the Cantells’ to Helen’s management, but about how identical her attitude was to Muir’s.

And the smell of that greenhouse, now with only the identical-looking flowers, put him in a staggering daze once he’d entered.

As he walked back to his car, his staggering changing into normal walking after about ten seconds from exiting the greenhouse, he saw Mrs. Granville sitting on her porch, her mouth in a permanent pout and her eyes and ears out like antennae. 

“Good afternoon, Mr. Gadd,” she called out to him.

“Good afternoon, Mrs. Granville,” he said, then put a small plastic bag in his glove compartment.

“Why didn’t you buy any flowers today?” she asked.

“None to buy that are of interest to me,” he said.

“What about all those pretty new flowers they have, the ones that all look like clones of each other?”

“You mean the silvery-gold-red ones? That’s all they have now. Over fifty of them, I’d say.”

“Well, why not buy one of those?”

“Nah. I don’t like them.”

“I don’t blame you. They all stink. They’re evil, too.”

“That’s the feeling I’ve always had of them. They have an evil charm.”

“C’mere, Mr. Gadd,” she said with a sly smirk and squinted eyes. “I’ll bet I know something you don’t about what’s going on over there.”

“What’s that?” he asked as he approached her porch.

“Y’know how Helen’s supposed to be watching over the greenhouse while the Cantells are in Florida?”

“Yeah, I heard. There’s no way they can afford a two-week vacation in Miami Beach.”

“Well, I remember seeing Helen buy one of those evil flowers, when none of ‘em were supposed to be for sale. She also borrowed one of Paula’s hats, her purple one, the day before she bought that flower. I saw Helen twice driving the Cantells’ car wearing that hat. She’d dragged something big and heavy into the car from the Cantells’ house. Big and heavy enough to be a body.”

“Are you sure?” Gadd asked.

“Yes. I think Helen killed the Cantells to get at those flowers. They’re supposed to return from their ‘vacation’ at the end of next week. I’ll make a million-dollar bet that Helen will still be running the greenhouse business, saying she doesn’t know what happened to the Cantells, then eventually make us believe they were murdered in Miami Beach instead of here.”

“Could be. There’s something about those flowers. Something in the smell. A smell of…covetousness.”

“I agree. That’s what I smelled, and I recoiled instantly upon smelling it. A smell honest people could never stand. You watch Helen over the next week. I sure will.”

“Yes, we should watch her.”

But Helen was watching them from the greenhouse, noting their scowling looks at her.

*****************

Two days later, Mrs. Granville went over to the greenhouse to see what was going on over there. She stood just outside, looking through the glass to see, but not smell, the goings-on inside. 

She gasped at what she saw.

Helen, pale, was swinging a knife at men and women who were trying to take her flowers; worse, the men and women had knives of their own, and stabbed not only at her, but at each other. Helen would need a larger bandage than the one along the back of her neck to cover the bloody gash along her left forearm.

A woman she’d stabbed in the back was lying dead on the floor between her and the other fighting customers, all of whom had cuts and gashes on their arms or legs. All of them ignored the pain, so focused were they on getting control of all the flowers. Some jealously held flowerpots in the arms that weren’t brandishing knives.

Mrs. Granville backed away from the window of the greenhouse when she saw Helen’s scowling eyes aiming murderously at hers. With a shaky hand, she took her cellphone out of her handbag and tried tapping a phone number, grunting in nervous annoyance whenever she tapped any wrong numbers. Finally, she finished dialling.

“Hello?” Mr. Gadd said.

“This is Mrs. Granville,” she said. “The situation with Helen and the flowers is much worse now.”

“How many are there now? In the hundreds?”

“Yes, but that’s not the worst part. She and several customers are swinging knives at each other, trying to take over the greenhouse and have all the flowers to themselves. One woman’s lying on the floor dead…Oh! I just saw a man stabbed and falling–he must be dead, too. All the others, including Helen, are cut and wounded, but still fighting as if they hadn’t a spot of blood on them.”

“They’re swinging knives at each other in broad daylight?” Gadd asked. “They aren’t worried about cops coming to stop them?”

“Of course not. The flowers have driven them all mad.”

“I’m coming over there.”

“Why? It’s dangerous. I should call the police.”

“No! Not yet. They won’t understand what needs to be done. The flowers must all be destroyed.” He sighed, then continued. “Arresting a few people won’t end this problem. As long as there are flowers, people will fight to have them. I’m on my way. Bye.”

He hung up.

Mrs. Granville watched in helpless horror as the fighting continued. She kept backing up slowly, without noticing the curb as her feet neared it.

A man swung his knife in an arc from right to left, slicing Helen across the guts and tearing them open. Shc buckled and fell to the floor, with parts of her intestines snaking out of the wound, coated in blood.

The man reached for the flowerpot she was holding and caught it before she hit the floor, but a woman stabbed him in the back and snatched the flower from him.

“Aah!” Mrs. Granville screamed not only from the violence, but also from tripping over the curb and hitting the road, hurting her right elbow.

A car raced over and was about to hit her in the face. She screamed, but the car stopped, the bumper just a few inches away from her nose. Mr. Gadd got out of the car and ran over to the greenhouse. He had a container of gasoline. 

He began running around the greenhouse, pouring gasoline all along the perimeter. Once he’d finished his tour around the greenhouse, he flicked a cigarette lighter and reached down to the ground.

“Oh, my God!” she said, moaning in pain as she fought to get back on her feet. She limped back to her house, saying, “Still, if those people are mad enough to kill each other over that devil of a flower, maybe they should all burn in the hell of their greed.”

She reached her porch. By the time she’d sat down, rubbing her elbow, she saw a rectangle of fire surrounding the greenhouse. Gadd raced back to his car and drove off.

One woman, the one who’d stabbed Helen’s killer in the back, was the sole survivor of the knife fight…though she wouldn’t survive much longer. 

The flowers by the glass were bursting into flame. As they burned, they made a chorus of squeals so shrill and ear-piercing, they made the screeching violins of horror movie soundtracks seem soothing.

More and more flowers burned and screamed. The woman joined in the screaming as the flames moved further and further inside, inching closer to her and the three flowerpots she was squeezing to her chest in a futile effort to protect them.

“No!” she screamed. “My flowers! They’re dying!”

By the time a fire truck and police cars had arrived, she and all the flowers had burned to a crisp.

Still on her porch and watching everything, Mrs. Granville called Mr. Gadd on her cellphone again.

“Are all the flowers dead?” he asked her.

“Every last one of them, thank God,” she said. “The last surviving woman in that fight perished, too. So awful.”

“Yeah. I feel bad about having caused such a loss of life, but you know as well as I do that those flowers had to be killed, to stop the cycle of human violence. Sometimes you have to make difficult sacrifices to avoid worse suffering.”

“I agree. She was a killer for those evil flowers, so I don’t feel much sympathy for her. Honest people like you and me would never allow ourselves to covet those flowers. Don’t worry, Mr. Gadd, I won’t tell the police what you did.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Granville,” he said. “Well, I have a few things to do, so if you’ll excuse me, we can discuss the rest of this later, OK?”

“Yes, of course,” she said. “We both need a rest from all of this violence. Goodbye, Mr. Gadd.” They hung up.

Mr. Gadd took the little bag out of the glove compartment of his car and went over to his garden.

Now that there aren’t any more of those flowers around elsewhere, I’ll feel safe doing this, he thought. I hated having to kill all of them, but sometimes you have to make great sacrifices to avoid worse violence.

He opened the bag and sprinkled little black seeds on the soil.

My Short Story, ‘Violation,’ in the Horror Anthology, ‘Dig Two Graves, Vol. II’

Dig Two Graves: An Anthology Vol. II–Kindle edition by Death’s Head Press is now published! I have an erotic horror short story, ‘Violation,’ included in it. It’s about a group of young men who gang rape and murder a woman in the woods (or so they think), then realize they’ve gotten themselves into something supernatural and surreal, and a revenge ensues to make I Spit On Your Grave seem mild in comparison. That’s all I’m telling for now; you’ll have to read for yourself to find out how they get what’s coming to them.

Other great stories included in the anthology were written by Wesley Southard, Cameron Trost, Gerri R. Gray, Gary Power, Delphine Quinn, M. Ennenbach, Jack Bantry, Charlotte Platt, Cameron Kirk, Susan E. Abramski, Mark Lumby, Lucas Milliron, David L. Tamarin, Lori Tiron-Pandit, Pete Mesling, G. Allen Wilbanks, Thomas Vaughn, Sergio “ente per ente” Palumbo, Duane Bradley, David Owain Hughes, and Betty Rocksteady.

I want to show my appreciation to Death’s Head Press for including my story in their new anthology! If you love horror fiction, Dear Reader, I hope you’ll go out and get your hands on this collection of scary stories!

A Horror Short Story of Mine Published in ‘The Devil’s Hour’

The Devil’s Hour is an anthology of horror short stories recently published by HellBound Books. I have a short story included in it, one called “The Pet.” I don’t want to tell you too much about it, since I’d rather you got a copy of the anthology and found out for yourself; let’s just say that the pet is always hungry, and he’s a growing boy…

The other sixteen writers in the anthology are these talented people: M.U.Nib, Nick Manzolillo, Richard Raven, Pamela Scott, Thomas S. Gunther, Tim V. Decker, Marc L. Rissmann, Ken McGrath, Brandon Cracraft, James R. Gardner, Lex H Jones, Sergio ‘ente per ente’ Palumbo & Ernesto Canepa, Jim Towns, Sarah Cannavo, Feind Gottes, and J.N. Cameron. 

Above all, I want to thank Xtina Marie and James Longmore for accepting my story. You two rock…and…roll!

‘Heavy Splash,’ a Horror Short Story

[Trigger Warning: some sexual content of a disturbing nature.]

Ayumi Suzuki shouldn’t have been driving. She was about to peak on a combination of ecstasy, ketamine, and acid as she, naked, drove out of the front yard of the country home where the party was still in full swing that summer night. The other partiers, her associates in the porn industry, were too wasted themselves to notice her having sneaked out after a trip to the bathroom…not that they cared. ‘Yummy Sucky’— her stage name—was important to them only insofar as she made money for them. The waves of her thoughts rose and fell like this:

I’ve got to get out of there! I’m just too high. I love to party, but they just don’t know when to stop. All those pills. All that snorting. All that fucking. I’ll die if I keep doing drugs in there. I washed the come off my face and left immediately after. I didn’t even bother to get my clothes. I’m surprised—and lucky—none of Phil’s musclemen stopped me from leaving. I may be naked and stoned, but at least I got away from them. It’s safer to leave now, and to risk it on the road, than to stay, and risk letting them just get crazier and crazier with me, till they kill me. Gotta escape…escape…Drive, drive far away…just keep driving…

She was driving alone down a gravel road lined with trees on both sides. Besides what little light the half moon and stars were giving overhead, her high beams were augmented by the dazzle the drugs were flashing in her eyes.

Are those trees I’m driving past…or are they people, blacks with their hair dyed green? They all look like punk rocker clones of Leon, one of the porno studs who were just fucking me in that bedroom. Man, am I ever stoned!

Her little car was swaying left to right, but mostly staying on the gravel. The tires crushed the bordering grass during the extremes of three sways. Her head was swaying all the more from the mental massage of the high she was now peaking on.

Great party! A way-too-crazy one, but a great one! I’m really fucking high. Now that I’m away from all those fuckers, I can just relax and enjoy my high. Leaving them was kinda like leaving home in Sacramento. I’m so glad I left my parents’ home to live this party life, here in Washington State. I don’t always know which way I’m going, but I’m glad I left that hell of a house back in California last year. Escape…the great escape…I just drove and drove…got far, far away from them…I just kept on driving…

Going through the forest, she took a wrong turn to the right, and then went down an inclining dirt road. She thought she was still on the right path, even though it was a bumpy, downhill one. The descent made her want to slow down, which of course was a good thing. If only she’d been willing to stop.

The road doesn’t seem level anymore. I don’t remember going up or down any hills on the way to Phil’s house. Must be the drugs making me think I’m going downhill.

She was tingling all over from the ecstasy, and the drugs made her vision too blurry to see the difference in roads. The tingles cancelled out the bumpy feel of the road so well that she hadn’t noticed the end of the smoothness beneath her tires, either; the drugs she was on were better than the best of shock absorbers. The darkness of the overhanging trees was beginning to envelope her. There was a small spot of light at the bottom of the incline, where the dirt road was leading to God-knew-what, a kind of light at the end of the tunnel.

Is this a straw I’m looking through, with pure, white cocaine at the bottom, waiting to be sniffed up my lucky nose, or am I driving through a tunnel? Yes, it’s a tunnel! How did I get from the forest to a tunnel? I don’t remember there being a tunnel anywhere on the road from my place to Phil’s house.

Indeed, her high was making her think she was driving through a tunnel at the moment, with a grey glow at the far end. The trees—or the greenish-brown curved tunnel walls, as they looked to her—were rippling like the waves of a serene lake, a peaceful escape from the smut business.

So I’m doing porn now: so what? As a twenty-year-old who didn’t finish college (I’m so glad I dropped out—I’m sick of school!), I didn’t have many other options after running away from home; but even if I had, why should I be ashamed of fucking in front of a camera? I’m freely exploring my sexuality: what’s wrong with a girl doing that? At least I’m not chained to a desk anymore, always pressured to get next-to-perfect grades for my parents. I do whatever I want now. I get high whenever I want. I escaped from home…I just need to escape from the partying and the sex, for a while…Just keep on driving, far, far away…

She drove down to where that light was, and came out from the trees. Dots of blurry light flashed in her eyes: was it the stars, or was it the drugs? Still peaking on her high, every inch of her body sizzling with pleasure, she didn’t notice how the road had ended, and she was now driving slowly on a long wooden pier, one wide and sturdy enough to support the weight of her car, but leading into the middle of a lake—one with as many cans, plastic bags, and chocolate bar wrappers as there were dead fish. For a moment, she stared at the dark spaces between the planks of wood on the pier. The spaces were going straight ahead, in the direction she was driving.

The dirt road looks different. Why are there straight, black lines on the light brown dirt? Are they lines of black cocaine, all chopped up for me to snort on a wooden table? Is there such a thing as black cocaine? I’ll bet black blow gives a freaky buzz. Still, no way! No more drugs for me, thank you. Is that dirt I’m driving on, or is it wood? The sides are black and wavy: where’s the grass? Wait a minute: everything is wavy. Where’s the road?

The car swayed left and right, almost going off the side at one point. To her eyes, that sturdy pier seemed to be as wobbly as the waves of the lake, as did the swaying trees. Everything seemed to be an ocean, as if she were underwater: there was no sense of separation or distinction between her and her environment, or between anything around her…it was almost primordial Chaos, a dark world of death, before the creation of the universe, before the pain of life had even begun, as waste and void as her mind was wasted and void. It was beautiful. Her spirit was about to hover over the face of the waters. No, everything already was water, and she was in it, Ayumi, a drop of water mixed in with her surroundings, indistinct from them.

I’m free now, I’m out of the darkness and into the light: it’s like having found Jesus, and dying with Him on the wooden rood, the Word at the beginning of time; unlike in Mom’s and Dad’s church, those hypocrites and their phoney, conniving pastors. The family preacher never helped me when I complained about Mommy’s and Daddy’s coldness when I was a child, always pushing me to slave away at school, and never letting me have any fun.

Though she was driving slower and slower, she was too stoned to notice how the edge of that pier was getting close.

Well, I’m twenty years old now, and I can go wherever I want, do whatever I want. Neither Mom nor Dad can stop me. No one can stop me. I hate the family’s posing as ‘respectable’ Japanese-Americans, the way they carry on the social lie about us as the good, Christian, Suzuki family, with their religion, a drug for the masses, and my only drug to ease my suffering when I was still living with them. Oh, what bullshit! But I got far, far away from them. I have much better drugs now. I just need a break from Phil and the porn moviemakers, and from the sex, for the moment. I just have to keep driving, driving to safety…

She didn’t even notice herself drive off the end of the pier: it was as if she were going down another dirt road incline. Her car plunged into the lake. The water, fanning out in all directions around the front of her car, was like a great flash of light blinding her. Because everything had been waves in front of her eyes, the sight of undulating water outside her car wasn’t a surprise to her.

Am I being baptized? Yes! I’m being bathed in holiness and redemption.

The car sank diagonally into the water as if it were quicksand, for there was such a mountain of junk dumped into the lake, it managed to slow the car down. The window to her car door, to the left of the driver’s seat, was open by an inch or so. As the dirty water poured through and splashed all over her, she turned her head towards it, letting it splash all over her face. She smirked as she got soaked.

It’s like my last bukkake film. I had so much come all over my face, my mouth, my nose, it was hard to breathe. My director, Phil, got so mad at me for ruining the scene when I asked for help, instead of giggling like the little slut he wanted me to act like. Why couldn’t he just help me? Nobody helped me. I thought I was going to die!

She moved her head back to the front to face the windshield, and took a breath while looking through it. It was so dark out there. She couldn’t see any kind of road. Instead, the outside looked like a forest of giant fungi, dark green mushrooms the size of trees, swaying left to right. She blinked her eyes, still too dazed to be thinking about the water filling up in her car, already a pool with her feet submerged.

What are those orange things floating about? They look like…are they dead fish? No, they can’t be. This is one intense high. Am I no longer driving? Am I dreaming? Am I in an aquarium? I sure am far, far away now. My head is swimming: is my body swimming? What’s with all this water? Why is it so dark outside?

The car thudded against something and stopped moving. Her head jerked forward, almost hitting the dashboard. It was a good thing she had her seatbelt on.

Did I hit something? What is that in front of me?

Some dark, thick mass had bumped against the windshield, cracking the glass slightly. For a second, the thick mass looked like a giant, fidgeting, black octopus, about to wrap its swaying tentacles all over her.

Are those Leon’s hands on my arms? Are we filming another fuck scene? No!

Then she looked again, and saw what looked like a large tree stump. Actually, it was a thick branch, and another, thicker and stronger branch, one parallel to the first, was under the car, holding it in its diagonal position. More dead fish, and the corpses of one or two frogs, were floating by the ajar window, through the top of which the water was pouring in like a waterfall. The water in the car had risen to her knees now.

I’m cold. Now I wish I’d grabbed my dress. Why am I so wet?

She looked to her left, and felt the dirty water splashing on her face again. As it went all over her nose and mouth, she looked out the ajar window and saw a frog’s corpse almost slipping in: its front limbs, having slipped past the glass, were fluttering at her, as if wanting to touch her face. The limbs were inches away from her nose. She could see the frog’s face seeming to stare right into her eyes. She blinked her eyes, and for a second she thought she saw…

Are those my father’s hands reaching out to slap me, the way they did whenever he saw me not studying?

She jerked her head away, shook it for a few seconds, and looked back at the windshield.

No, that can’t be Daddy. I’m far away from him now. This trip is getting just too intense for me. I’m seeing things.

She looked back at the window, blinked and tried to focus. She saw the frog. She sighed with relief, swatted at it to make it float away, and looked back to her front.

I knew it. It wasn’t Daddy. When will that bastard get out of my head? Can’t I just enjoy my high in peace?

The water was a swirling mix of turquoise, brown, orange, and yellow. The face of a large, grey, dead fish approached the windshield, its wide-open mouth kissing the glass. For a second, it looked like a shark about to attack: she saw huge, sharp teeth shining from its widening jaws. She jerked her head, looked again, and saw just the fish. She let out a heavy sigh, and waited for her pounding heart to slow down. As she calmed down, she focused on the waves of pleasure her high’s massage was giving her brain.

Please, no more scary sights. Just let me enjoy my high.

Indeed, her whole body was vibrating, undulating with her high. Had it not been for the scary surroundings, it would have been the best feeling she’d ever had in her life. It was as if she were at one with the water: the boundary between her and her soaking surroundings was as blurred as her vision. It was like death, an annihilation of her ego, but it was also a beautiful oneness. It was peaceful, an end to her suffering. She was one with the waves of the world.

Am I taking a shower? This is like that time three months ago, when we did that film and I fucked that white stud, Jim Johnson, in the shower. I was on really good ecstasy the day we filmed that scene, too, almost as good as the ecstasy I’m on now.

She saw that fish head again, and for a second, it looked like her father’s face. She shook at the sight of it.

Oh! Wait, no, it isn’t Dad yelling at me. That reminds me of when Mom and Dad caught me with a small bag of marijuana in my purse, which my nosy aunt found. I’m so glad I don’t live with my family anymore. I’m safe now, far away from them. It’s good to drive away, to escape from the pain.

The pressure against the windshield caused it to crack into longer crooked lines. The crack was like a giant, emaciated, white spider, wanting to crawl inside the car and onto her face. She thought she saw glowing eyes in the center of the crack, the ‘head’ of the spider.

Ooh! That isn’t a spider, is it? I hate spiders, especially big ones.

Her mind was taken off of the ‘spider’ when a set of six-pack rings, whose plastic had disintegrated somewhat, leaving only two distinct rings, darkened by dirt, slipped through the window crack and landed on her hands. She looked down at them. They looked like grey handcuffs.

Am I doing another bondage film? Phil promised me he’d never make me do that again! Well, he makes a lot of promises he doesn’t keep…bastard. He—Phil Sakamoto—kind of looks like my Dad.

The six-pack rings were washed off her hands by the continuous influx of filthy water, which she was way too stoned to give serious thought to. She looked back down at her hands.

Oh? The handcuffs are gone. Good. Wow, I guess Phil does keep his promises sometimes. Hey, what’s that slapping me?

A few skinny dead black fish slipped through the opening in the side window and slapped against her left cheek as the water continued to pour in. She was up to her waist in water now.

Is that a tree branch in front of me? Where am I? What keeps swatting my left cheek? Something long and black. Is it Leon’s dick slapping my face after I blew him? It sure feels that way. He was doing that at the party tonight, wasn’t he? I hate it when he does that during filming, but when Phil tells us to do a scene a certain way, we have to do as we’re told. I’ll bet Leon likes swatting my face with his cock. Asshole!

The windshield cracked again. That ‘spider’ was growing into a monster, looking like a nuclear mutation. The acid she was peaking on made the ‘spider’ seem to move. For a second or two, the spider seemed to be crawling a bit, then stopping and watching her. Those glowing grey eyes she saw seemed to be staring right into her soul. She jumped at the sight of them, then looked again, and realized the ‘spider’ was just a crack in the glass. The relief wasn’t reassuring, though, for the darkness and freaky visuals were ruining what could have been an amazing buzz.

Oh, shit! I hate spiders. I really didn’t need that hallucination.

The water was up to her belly now. Was she vibrating from her high, or shivering from the cold? The dead black fish were floating in a circle around her, almost touching her skin. She looked down at them, and thought she was wearing some kind of chain around her waist, links of black rotating around her.

Has Phil chained me to a wall? I guess I’m doing a bondage film again, after all. I hate him. What’s that pouring on my head? Is he having someone piss on me again?

She looked back up at the windshield, then back down at her waist. The black fish had floated away.

Oh, wait, I’m not chained up—good. But what’s that smell? Piss? Dead animals? I’m really fuckin’ high, like that time I was snorting cocaine at that other party last week, and I heard Phil and Jim talking about climate change. Jim was warning about the dangers of pollution and shit like that. Phil ignored him, said it’s a liberal myth made up so the government can tax us and interfere with our lives more. I tend to agree with Phil. My dad never believed what the environmentalists say: I hate Phil and Daddy, but I agree with them about that.

Some of the filthy water got in her mouth. She spat it out and coughed.

Did Jim just piss in my mouth?

She looked to her left, but didn’t see Jim’s dick.

No, it isn’t him; but fuck him and his green politics, anyway. Fuck Mother Nature. She’s a whore, like the whore my misfortunes made me into. My mother’s nature was never any kinder to me than Daddy was; she always ignored my childhood need for hugs and love, instead barking at me to finish my homework. Fuck Mother Nature. Fuck everything. We’re all going to die one day, anyway. Death is beautiful. Death is escape. Getting away, far away. Finding peace of mind. We’re all polluted, and we can never un-pollute ourselves. There’s no hope for redemption. Just die, and escape from it all.

The windshield cracked again, making a small hole through which water sprayed like a shower nozzle on her face.

What’s that? More bukkake? Or another shower fuck scene we’re filming? Damn, why am I so wet? This is such good ketamine! It’s as if something terrible is happening to me, but I feel perfectly safe from it. It’s like I’m shielded in armor, or in an electric field of energy, or something. Flashing rays of light are shooting out in all directions around my eyes. Nothing can hurt me, though everything is trying to. I see horrors before my eyes, death everywhere, but a bubble of protection will keep me safe. I’m too high to care, anyway.

The water level was up to her breasts now. Her nipples were freezing and erect.

Am I in a swimming pool? I did a porno shoot in a swimming pool a month ago. I was swimming around, then Leon walked by the poolside naked, his big black dick pointing at me, then I came out of the pool, as naked as he was. Then we fucked. His dick is too big, but I was high on ketamine, so I didn’t feel the pain during the filming. I sure was sore afterwards. Still, I’m not complaining. Fun times!

The water was up to her neck now.

As bad and Phil and his boys get, at least it’s not like life at home in Sacramento, being repressed by my parents after they’d taken me to church services, when the preacher warned of the kind of sins that led to the Great Flood, sinning that Daddy ignored in himself–with his hands on me–even as he punished me for my imperfections, and the pastors ignored my cries for help. Bastards! And when I complained to the preachers about my parents’ strictness, they said that potheads deserve to be treated with strictness! And they all talk of God’s love and forgiveness. Hypocrites, all of them!

The glass of the windshield finally broke. Shattered pieces of glass flew at her face, cutting tiny holes in her cheeks. Tiny pieces of plastic, like scattered rice, but glowing because of the drugs, were flying at her face, too. The tree branch’s jagged front hit her in the face like a fist, giving her a nosebleed. All her blood got diluted in the water that was enveloping her, swirling about her face like fumes from marijuana cigarettes, only they were red.

Who punched me? Was it Daddy, after he caught me in my room smoking pot, the day before I left home? Was it Leon, after I finished blowing him? I remember Phil wanting him to do that, but I refused to let him. Phil is such an asshole sometimes. My jaw gets so sore from blowing Leon’s big cock. Speaking of blow, is this cocaine going up my nose, or is it more bukkake? Sometimes it feels like a glass powder, sometimes it feels like…water…water turned to red wine by Jesus…

She blacked out. Deep black. A far, far away kind of black. It was a bottomless pit of black, like Jonah going into the mouth of the great fish. She phased into unconsciousness, a place where the border between unconsciousness and death was blurred…a peaceful place, beyond the pairs of opposites, those of life and death…shifting back and forth between those opposites…like…waves…

Am I awake? Am I…dreaming? I can’t breathe. The water…is beautiful. Red. Is it wine? Are those…dead, pink fish…floating about me, or are they…severed cocks, Jim’s and Leon’s, after I…bit them off, with their blood…flowing everywhere? I’d sure…like to bite them off. Phil’s, too. I had to…get away from them, far away. Too many drugs, too much fucking, too much sucking, too much partying. It was fun, but it was…dangerous fun. I ran out…of the house, completely naked, with…only my car keys…I had to…get out…of there. I thought I’d…die there.

The line between life and death was, for her, like the surface of the ocean, rippling up and down, up and down…

But out here, dying is better. It’s beautiful…to die. It’s like sleeping. Dreaming. Escaping. No more abuse. No more being…exploited by Phil. No more pain, no more filth…polluting my body. No more drugs…to fuck my head up. If my…body isn’t…getting fucked…my mind is…This is better…Just sleeping, forever. Escaping the world. Getting away…from the filth. The Great Flood, washing away…the sin of the world. With the end…comes a new beginning…a new creation. I’ve found…redemption…through blood…Christ’s blood. Peace. Feeding me…with fish, the Jesus fish. All I’ve…ever wanted…to do…is to get away…to drive away, far away from all the…