Posted on Leave a comment

Whiteout

whiteout-campfire-horror-stories-old-rickety-bed-sweet-corn-writing-prompt

It was the first snowfall of the year. I sat up and my bones creaked as much as the bed did. That old rickety bed made of pine, just like that cabin. Made with my own two hands, mind you. I swung my legs around and lay my knotted feet on the cold, grained floor. As I drew in a deep breath and rubbed my wrinkled face, I thought about building that cabin twenty years earlier. A slight chuckle escaped my cracked lips when I reflected on my oblivion; not knowing all those years ago that I was, in fact, building a coffin.

The windows were foggy, which made it difficult to know at first, but the sight was unusually white. My back was aching as it did the previous day, and the one before that. As hopeful as I was that my old, rickety bed would do it good, my first conscious expression of every day was a grimace. Rubbing the glass with the sleeve of my night-shirt was a futile task, but it did not matter, really, because what else could a white wilderness be, besides snow? Nevertheless, I sought to open the front door and investigate.

The animals in the main room stared at me from their high vantage points upon the pine walls. Each day they detested me more. They looked down their snouts and turned the corners of their mouths toward the floor. Glassy eyes narrowed. I hardly acknowledge them any more. The fire never judged me, though. It enveloped me in a warm embrace and told me not to leave. The embers of yesterday’s fire still glowed a faint orange behind a grey façade. My modest pile of firewood was down to seven sizable logs, or six if you discount the one I picked up and dropped onto the ashes as I hobbled passed. I would have to check the store at the side of the cabin to fetch some more before the week was out.

I don’t know what else I possibly expected to see when I opened the front door. It was, indeed, the first snowfall of the year. The ground was painted a blinding white, and had engulfed the four stairs that lead up to the front porch. Icicles dangled from the eaves in the light morning breeze. One sprung loose and fell out of sight. I scanned the trees and the ground beneath them. The whole scene was still. Not a branch faltered. Not a sound uttered. My view was then obscured by my breath, which rose in front of my face as a cloud. I could feel the sting of winter on my cheeks. They were surely redder than usual, though I had not a mirror or reference to check. The thought of restocking the firewood inside seemed, in that moment, a monumental task after briefly considering the need to put on appropriate attire and the prerequisite of shoveling the snow from the front stairs. I decidedly shook my head at the wilderness and muttered, “not today.” A chilling breeze licked my nape as I shut the door behind me.

Gurgles and rumbles emanated from my gut. I wondered if I had any sweet corn left in the cupboard, or only beans. Some meat would be a welcome change, although I’m sure my house guests would not approve. Besides, I had not seen any signs of life outside of the cabin, so without anything to hunt I would have no meat, anyway. What a waste of energy. I thought about it not a second longer and opened the cupboard in the kitchenette, which was adjacent to the main living area.

I suppose you would call this open plan living. It was all one room, really. The main room had the fireplace, quite central, but not directly in the middle. It was made of stone, mostly, except for the metal grating I had to prevent embers spitting. I scarcely utilized it, out of laziness, I suppose. In front of the fireplace was a small wooden table and two wooden chairs that had on them some cushions fashioned out of deer skin. The deer didn’t like it when I sat on them, though, so I did not often sit. Sometimes, if my feet were too sore, I would sit on the floor between the chairs and the table. It was actually a perfect height for that. On the other side of the fireplace was a small table and two chairs, also fashioned from pine wood. It sat two people. It has only ever had one to use it, however, but even now that is rather rare an occasion. I had been eating only once a day, for I can’t remember how long, and usually do that on the other table, where the face of fire breathes more warmth. There is a washroom off the dining area and a bedroom off the opposite side of the main room. The washroom has no usual plumbing, however, it has a tank that acquires rainwater and I have a bucket and a tub that I can use to clean myself or my clothes. It hasn’t rained for many moons, though, and I wasn’t about to dip into my drinking water before more rain. The animals are yet to complain about the smell, so I mustn’t be that ripe.

The cupboard creaked as it always did. The whole cabin creaked sometimes. Even though I thought I would be used to it after twenty years, I am not. It irks me every time I hear so much as a squeak. Like a claw digging into my temple, the sound, I fear, might drive me mad one day. There were only two cans left. They stood silently at the back of the dark cupboard, like the final two competitors to be picked for their sports teams. One can of sweet corn and one can of baked beans. I was faced with a dilemma. Which was I to choose?

“The sweet corn, obviously. You’ve been eating nothing but beans for weeks!” Barry exclaimed. He was the boar above the kitchen counter. He was right, too, I had only eaten baked beans for weeks.

I’m unsure just how long I stood there with the cupboard open, but my arm grew sore. I was pondering. Was I saving the sweet corn for an occasion? What occasion might it have been? Was my birthday approaching? It would be nice to have sweet corn on my birthday. “I shall save the sweet corn, and beans are not so bad.”

“Beans are terrible,” scoffed Deidre, one of the deer the cushions were made from.

“No, they’re not that bad,” I retorted.

“They most certainly are!” Dave interjected. He was the other deer the cushions were fashioned from. He stood above my bedroom door. What he had to say wasn’t very important, though, because I no longer respected his opinion. Not since the rug incident.

“You stay out of it, Dave.”

“Oh, he’s okay,” Deidre said in a softer tone than before, “if anyone should stay out of anything, it’s you. What did the beans do to you to be imprisoned in a tin can for god knows how long only to be opened up at such an ungodly hour of the morning and eaten by you. The likes of you.”

“You’re right. I should wait until later. Maybe put it off until tomorrow.”

“Don’t listen to them, buddy, they’ve just got something against beans. I still think you should have the sweet corn though. Do you even know how old you are, today?” Barry was right. The deer were never on my side. Always stirring shit. I swear they only talk to me because they don’t like Barry, either. I should’ve built a bigger cabin. We’re all crammed in here like the can of beans.

I sat down on the floor and held my head in my hands. I felt the callouses scratch my skin. It must’ve been red, if felt red. I was so hungry,

but I didn’t want to upset everyone,

but they already hate me,

but they still talk to me,

but they put me down.

“I don’t put you down, buddy. Just eat the damn beans, at least. You haven’t eaten in days, you’re going to die out here if you don’t eat, buddy.” I hadn’t eaten in days. So I must’ve drank water, which meant that I could put off eating if I drank more water.

I don’t remember eating the beans. Nor the sweet corn, for that matter. I do remember opening the other cupboard and finding the empty water canteen. I held it up to the roof and watched a solitary drop of water cling to the rim of the bore. My tongue protruded further from my mouth than I think it ever had before. It grew sore, like my arm had, and I licked the drop up. I licked the bore over and over. My tongue slipped into it and over it, and yet my thirst would not quench.

The last thing I can recall is crawling to the porch and scooping up warm snow to eat. It tasted better than the beans, too. And felt better between my teeth.


“And, how long did this happen before they found you?”

“I don’t bloody know, does it look like I can wear a watch?”

“Of course, I-I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it like that. It’s just better to give the readers some idea of a timeline.”

“Yeah, I get it, the newspapers are always about the times. I’m sorry if there’s a flicker of resentment in my voice, but it must be the exhaustion. The doc said I’ll be fatigued for a while. I am grateful, really. I’m still here, aren’t I? Still kicking, well kind of. I can’t really kick anymore, either.”

I’m starting to realize there’s a lot of things I won’t be able to do anymore.

 


Writing Prompt: It was the first snowfall of the year.

To respond to this writing prompt, join the Facebook group Around the Campfire, where I post other prompts and encourage you to get creative with them. You can also check out all of my responses to writing prompts in the writing prompt category.

Posted on 1 Comment

They found a boy in the river

boy, pop pop pop, watery fate

Subject#04: The Drowned Boy
Redacted eye-witness statement
Classified
Security Level: Burn after reading

I was driving home from work and had made a stop at the gassy. It had been a long day and so, peckish as I was, I got myself a Big Ben. Should’ve listened to the gospel, though, because I burned my lip as I bit into the damn thing. The mince spewed out of the pastry as I flinched and cursed. It landed on my crotch. The whole scene was a travesty. Always blow on the pie.

I pulled over into the lay-by while this happened. I didn’t have the radio on today, and I remember thinking that was unusual of me as I took note of the way the rain was ratatating on my car. As if the shock of the burn had awakened my senses, I became more aware of my surroundings and could smell the river in the air-con. That’s when I heard it. Pop. Pop pop pop pop. Pop. There were six “pops.” They were faint, but vivid. And very curious. At first, I had thought it was beginning to hail, but that thought was swiftly brushed aside. Hail doesn’t sound like the popping of bubble wrap. The faint popping was distinctly different from a sound of nature. And that realization made my stomach tighten. Or perhaps it was just the hunger.

I set my pie aside on the dash of my car and opened my door. The thundering sound of the rain poured inside, almost muting the ding-ding-ding dashboard alarm flashing a red door symbol to which I paid no attention. Against my best judgement, I stepped outside. Instantly saturated. Even my briefs felt soaked through. A chill ran up my back, but I shook it out with my arms. That’s when I noticed the lights dancing in the trees just over the ridge. I hadn’t seen them from the lower vantage point of my driver’s seat. Alternating red and blue, irritatingly out of sync with the dashboard dinging. A sense of ease washed over me as I moved around my car to the passenger side, where I could no longer hear it. Just the rain, like sizzling bacon, screaming in my ears. My eyes did not falter from the illuminated trees. I was fixated on them. And curiosity got the better of me.

The smell of the river grew ever stronger as I stumbled up the bank, losing my footing in the mud and grasping naively at the ground. It smelled stagnant, like a musty old home left at the mercy of the elements for decades without a visitor. It was almost acrid. I’d finally made it to the top of the ridge, all hot and bothered, and out of breath. Soaked to the bone. My arms jutted outward one last time to avoid toppling right over. I stared into the void. Into the rain-laden air in front of my face; the scene I had sweated up this bank for blurred just beyond.

As my stance relaxed, my eyes focused. There were two cop cars and an ambo pulled off to the side of an access road that led down to the riverside. I had figured as much from the lights I had seen in the trees. But nothing had given clue to what I would witness alongside those vehicles. Like I said, curiosity had gotten the better of me. As it always does. Growing up, Mum would always recite, “Curiosity killed the cat, you know? Don’t be the cat, Michael.” Well, they had found a boy in the river. It was an ugly scene.

They must have pulled in mighty hastily, judging by the skid marks cut into the earth. My guess would have been that the cop car on the right got there first; it seemed somewhat parked intentionally, and the treads in the mud were minimal. The other two vehicles were farther from the gravel. Inches deep ditches carved by their tires. With over a vehicle’s length from the road, it was clear they had continued to move after the wheels had stopped turning. The doors were left ajar, and the seats were saturated. Understandable in an urgent situation, but some time had obviously passed since their arrival. Why hadn’t they closed the doors to save their bottoms a watery fate? Because they were dead, that’s why.

All they know now is a watery fate. Floating through the ether of existence down, down, down to the depths below this plane. To feed them. That’s why they’re gone. To feed them. We should all . . . forgive me, I’m . . .

Their corpses lay at the edge of the river. All of them were shot in the head. The paramedics by the officers, I’d say, and the officers by their own hands. This much was unquestionable. Their firearms, however, were left sullied in mud only a few feet from the vehicles. Peculiar, twisting pathways were drawn in the muddy earth, like tentacles leading to the bodies surrounding the boy. The boy stood, ankle deep, in the river. He almost didn’t look like a boy, but his height would have me guess he was about eight or ten years old. That was, before he died, of course. Once that happens, I suppose you stop ageing, right?

His face was mostly missing. His empty eye sockets stared right at me. Swinging in the breeze, his jaw looked as though it might fall off at any moment. His torso was all puffed up, like the StayPuft Marshmallow Man. His skin was pulled tight – where it wasn’t hanging off him – and translucent. The veins looked like a dark web of tar holding his flesh together. God knows how long he had been drifting in the water, but from where I stood, it sure looked like ol’ Davy Jones had done a number on him. And spat him back out, no less.

He had been sent here, that much is clear to me. Nothing else is. I could still only hear the screaming of the water falling from the, now darkened, heavens. No longer could I feel it hitting my face, nor any part of me. I couldn’t feel my own skin. As I was examining the boy with horror and inquisition, I gasped. Not at the sight of his fingernail-less, gnarled hands, but at the sudden knowledge that I was no longer standing atop the ridge I had scampered up so eagerly however long before. I was standing right in front of him, only a few feet away. How much time had passed? I couldn’t tell you. How had I managed to get down there without falling, slipping, tumbling or noticing? I really cannot say. I have absolutely no recollection of it. And although I could not bear to take my eyes off of the waterlogged boy, had I turned my head over my shoulder, I’d bet my life there would have been a peculiar, twisting pathway drawn in the muddy earth, like a tentacle.

I cannot rationalize it. I felt obliged to the boy. Compelled by him. An overwhelming craving to fulfill his every desire of me replaced any sense of self I had. I remember cackling maniacally, as I knelt in the water. The boy swung his arm at me like a cricket pitcher, striking my shoulder and then over my head and down on my other shoulder. It was as if he was conferring unto me a knighthood from the depths. And then I waded into the river.

I was pulled out of the ocean by a fisherman not two hundred meters from the river’s mouth. He kindly brought me back to land, and I walked right here. That’s all I know about what happened. I am truly sorry about your comrades. But they need to feed. And they are very, very hungry.

Witness eliminated.
Fisherman sought for questioning.

Posted on 1 Comment

Don’t Drink The Water

don't drink the water, drinking water, pink goo, pink ooze, green light, pink glow

Listen to this story on Campfire Storytime:

 

My doctor keeps saying it’s dehydration, that what I’ve begun to see frequently are hallucinations and that if I don’t start drinking water again, I will surely perish. But I feel fine. Allegedly, a man should die after only 3 days without water, though many have been recorded to have survived almost two weeks without drinking water. It’s been six months, and I haven’t touched a drop. I’ve even altered my diet to consist of solely dehydrated and dried foods. I’ve been told it’s a marvel that I am still alive, a miracle that no one can explain. My parents have always insisted that I’m squandering my life, even more so since I seemingly cannot die from dehydration. Although, if dehydration does not affect me, why am I hallucinating? Is it just me, or is dehydration really a myth?

I can’t live my life how I was before; I can’t live it how my parents think I should, or how the infomercials on late night TV. tell me I should, or how my local body elect says I need to. Not after what I’ve seen. Not after what I see every day. But is any of it real? My doctor certainly doesn’t think so, however, he is eight feet tall and has a face full of tentacles. His voice is so loud and pounding, making it near unbearable to be around him and his tentacles, secreting his pink ooze all over everything they touch. It’s repulsive. But it’s unavoidable. He’s not the only one with tentacles, you see.

At first, I would have believed him, everything seemed a bit off, and some things looked a little askew, and these things could easily have been put down to dehydration, although at that point, I had only been without water for a few weeks. I could no longer sleep, and everything was tiresome. I felt incredibly fatigued every day, even small tasks proving rather painful. I stopped leaving my house, and I quit my job. But for whatever reason I had at the time, I still refused to drink water. It was only when I lost most of my strength and energy that I stopped eating hydrated foods, and that was when things began to get better. I could only muster a handful of puffed rice twice a day at first. My strength began to return and I no longer felt so fatigued. Once I had realized this I got rid of all the food in my house that wasn’t dehydrated. I still don’t sleep, but I feel incredible.

After almost a month alone inside my house, I decided to venture out again. I might as well have been leaving my home for the first time in my life, because nothing was the same as it once was, and nothing could prepare me for what I was about to experience.

As I opened the door and stepped outside I was struck by a gleaming green glow enveloping existence. I could not see the sun in the sky but it was not dark, everything was illuminated by this ominous green hue. Not a shadow in sight, as if there was no light source, the brightness just was. Every tree and plant seemed out of focus and fuzzy, like I was looking at them through a lens smeared with Vaseline. If I’m not mistaken, of course I very well could be, they also seemed to sway slightly, as if in a current. This seemed peculiar because I could feel no wind at all, almost like the atmosphere was devoid of any kind of movement. As I was observing the apparent stillness of my new found reality, I felt drawn to something, and was suddenly compelled to continue walking towards whatever centric force was pulling me in.

Every house and every car paled in comparison to the bright green light that encompassed everything, like they were absorbing the light but not reflecting enough to appear as bright and vibrant as the flora or the sky. If there is a sky, anymore, I am still unsure about that. The few people that I saw on my journey were so oblivious to all of this, just carrying on with their lives as they always had before, only now with what I can only describe as an utter lack of enthusiasm. It was so obvious to me at that very moment: everyone is a pawn and no one is aware, and I am probably in imminent danger.

Is my doctor in on all of this? None of the people I saw on the streets had tentacles oozing pink goo, nor were they abnormally tall. Perhaps he has notified some sort of superior overlord who will mobilise some kind of slimy enforcers to find me and silence me before I can speak out. These ideas are why I have not returned home, and never will. My home no longer exists and I have no sanctuary. Nowhere is safe. I have been doomed to a nomadic lifestyle, constantly looking over my shoulder for a tentacle-bearing stranger to take me away. And I know exactly where they would take me.

When I felt committed to that one place, I should have run the opposite way – as I am now – but you couldn’t possibly understand the feeling. The feeling of being captivated by a location that you must reach. It was merely an intrigue that morphed into a need to find it. Impossible to ignore because the feeling was inside me, it was in my head, it was my own desire. I had thought of it. And that’s how they get you. There is no sanctity any more, your thoughts are not only your own. Right now, none of your thoughts belong to you.

My pace increased and I began to jog towards the city, but it wasn’t long before I was in a full-stride sprint. Every person I passed looked less and less human, and every other evidence of humanity within this plane that surrounded me began to glitch and distort. The faster I ran, the closer I got, the less sane I felt. My head started to swirl and ache, but my vision was clearer than ever, aside from the anomalies I was witnessing. As I felt a strange combination of drunkenness and enlightenment, my head was about to burst with the heat of the sun that no longer resided in the sky. But I was so close. I could see the towers in the distance, peeking above the hills in front of me. They curled and flickered, but it was the glow that made me hesitant. That pink glow was the only thing that disturbed the green light which touched everything that could be seen. I slowed down to a power-walk pace as I ascended the hill, my eyes not wavering from that pink glow. As I reached the apex, it took every fibre of my being to halt. The number of creatures that wandered throughout the city, I could not say. Each one far taller than any house, some even rivalled the towers that were twisting in the sky. Too many tentacles to count. So much pink ooze that nothing was spared from their sticky substance.

I began to vomit. To my absolute horror, the bile that was ejected from my body was the same pink goo that covered the city. Although, I cannot possibly be one of them. I am one of you, and you don’t have tentacles, do you? Once I gathered myself together I turned to walk away. I should have just ran then and never looked back. As you can guess, however, I had looked back. When I looked over my shoulder at the slimy city one last time, one of the taller creatures looked over in my direction with one of its many purple eyes and a tentacle extended towards me faster than I had seen anything move before. It let out a great ungodly sound which tore my mind in half. I screamed silently holding my head and barely maintained my footing, tears streaming down my face, my intestines wrapped around my stomach and squeezed it like a noose. I stumbled and fell over, maybe rolled a little bit down the hill, but I managed to get back to my feet and I ran. I ran as fast as I could muster. I am certain it was faster than I have managed to move ever before. I ran and I did not stop until I could not recall just how long I had been running for. It seemed like an eternity. Everything seems like an eternity now. It’s like time doesn’t exist.

So, I found a computer that has internet access and now I’m writing this plea. I know they’ll see it, and I know they’ll find me. But I don’t have to be the only one. I don’t have to be alone. I can find others, if you’ll just listen to me. Please, you must, you simply must listen to me: DON’T DRINK THE WATER.


Prompt: Water is a drug which makes our sight see something different from what is supposed to be there, you have stopped drinking water and now you’re seeing some strange things

Listen to this story on Campfire Storytime: