Category Archives: Horror

Growing Pains. Short Story.

Grace stretched and yawned, she stood for a moment at the kitchen sink looking out the window at the field of cows. She was still having difficulty adjusting to all this space and the wandering farm animals. Before moving out here she’d never seen a cow in real life, never mind sheep or goats. She could hear Brad moving around upstairs with his usual heavy footsteps. The kettle clicked and she picked it up, pouring hot water into two mugs. She hadn’t slept well the night before, though Brad had slept like a log. During the night she heard an almighty bang, it was so loud it almost felt like the house shook with the noise of it. She’d prodded Brad awake, asking if he heard anything and all she got was some mumbling as he rolled over and went back asleep. She never appreciated the feeling of safety she had in the city, the fact that there were always people around and if needed, the police could be called. Out here god only knew how long it would take for them to arrive. Grace glanced out the window and frowned, there was something wrong with the fields, they were the wrong colour. She squinted at them, they were still green, but they were a brighter green than before. With a shock she realised that the brighter green was moving towards her, moving over bushes and animals alike. “Brad!”
he thundered down the stairs, “What? What’s wrong?”
she pointed out the window,
“What? Is there another cow in the garden? Just-” he stopped, staring wide eyed as the rush of green came closer. Grace reached out to Brad and gripped his hand tightly, “what is it?” by then it was almost upon the house. Grace flinched and turned her head. When she opened her eyes again a few seconds later she expected the room to be in darkness, but it was as bright as ever. She looked out the window and saw the green had stopped in a perfect half circle around the house. This close it looked like soft, verdant moss. Brad was staring out the window, his mouth hanging open. A second later the alarm started beeping, Grace looked around and saw the oven clock was off. “Power cut.” Brad stepped away from Grace, moving towards the back door, he reached for the handle and Grace leapt forward to grab his hand, “Don’t. What if it comes inside.”
“It stopped, why did it stop? Besides it’s like moss or something. That’s all.” He reached for the door again, Grace didn’t stop him.

Outside the air smelt fresh with a cool undercurrent to it. Grace and Brad had walked around the house and saw the moss had stopped in a perfect circle, about ten feet from the house. Brad’s car had been parked across the odd boundary and the moss had covered almost half of it. They were standing near the back door again, ready to make a dash inside if necessary. Brad squatted down to get a better look, then he stood. “It’s moss. It has to be, it looks exactly like it.” Grace gasped, Brad’s head snapped up, he looked to where she was pointing. A cow, completely covered in bright green moss was casually strolling across what had once been its field. It stopped and lowered its head, it looked like it was eating. “Why isn’t it dead? how can it be walking around like that? Can it even breathe?”
Greg shook his head, he had no answers for her, the cow looked like it was made entirely of moss. He picked up a pebble that was lying on the tarmac and tossed it onto the moss, it was quickly covered. He pulled his phone from his pocket, maybe the internet would have a solution, maybe it was just a rare natural phenomenon. He unlocked his phone then cursed under his breath, no signal. Grace went inside to check hers, she joined him a moment later, useless phone gripped tightly in one hand.

Inside they sat at the kitchen table, sipping their almost cold tea, they had taken a stock of the house and it didn’t bode well. They had enough food to last them a few days, a week at most with severe rationing and enough water to last a few days. Greg had tried to fill the bathtub with water but when he turned the tap nothing came out, not even a drop. They drank their tea in silence, Grace was scared, but angry too, she hadn’t wanted to move out here to the middle of nowhere, not at first, but Brad had managed to convince her. If he had listened to her they wouldn’t be here in this mess, they’d be around people, in a city somewhere and completely safe. Greg stood and moved his cup to the sink, he was going to throw the dregs down the drain, he paused and set the cup to the side, they might be thankful for that later. He looked out the window and frowned, had the moss moved closer? He moved to the backdoor, “What are you doing?”
“It looks like it moved closer, I want to get a better look.”
“don’t go out there. It’s dangerous, we don’t know what that is, what if it releases spores or something?”
Brad rolled his eyes and pulled the door open. He stepped outside into the cool air, it had definitely moved closer. He went to the edge, where black tarmac met startlingly bright green and squatted beside it. He was tempted to reach out and touch it, it looked soft, but he held back. “Well?” Grace’s voice startled him from his thoughts, he jumped then over balanced, he fell forward, hands lunging out to stop him. They sunk into the green moss, it was soft. Then the moss was crawling its way up his arms, down his chest and over his head. By the time he’d fully fallen Brad was coated in it. Grace took a step towards him then stopped, she didn’t want to get infected too. “Brad?”
He didn’t say anything, couldn’t say anything. He knelt on all fours, shuddering. When it stopped Brad stood and shook his head slightly, like trying to clear away the remnants of a bad dream. He smiled at grace, wide and open, even his teeth had been covered .Grace gasped then turned and fled into the house.

Brad was circling the house endlessly, occasionally he would pull at a door or jiggle its handle, testing. Grace was upstairs, hiding in their room. She could see him from the window every so often, the moss was moving closer too. He hadn’t spoken to her yet, though she’d seen his mouth moving as she watched him. Finally after what seemed like hours he stopped, she watched him go to the garage, he went inside and started rummaging around. A few minutes later he pulled the lawnmower out. Grace’s chest felt tight, it was hard to breath. Saturday morning, that was when he always mowed the grass. She watched as the thing that was Brad dragged the mower across the moss until he was standing where their grass had been. He bent over and tried to start the mower, which was already covered in the moss and after a few pulls on the cord he stood up and started dragging it back and forth, like he was cutting grass with the dead mower. Grace turned from the window, she had a cramping lump in her throat that made it hard to breath. It was too much like him, she couldn’t watch any more.

An hour later and the thing that was Brad put the mower away, closing the garage behind him. Grace was shaking slightly, her eyes burned from crying, her nose was red and sore, wads of tissues were around her. She jumped as she heard someone pulling at the door downstairs, he was trying to get in again. After mowing it was always time for some TV, then lunch. A part of her wanted to go down and let him in, welcome her once husband with open arms and join him in whatever passed for the afterlife. Downstairs she heard the shatter of glass, her breathing quickened as she ran and locked the bedroom door. She heard the front door open and close again, then the sounds of someone sweeping up glass, the swish of the brush, the almost gentle tinkle of glass. Then the TV switched on, the noise was faint but she could just about hear it. Carefully she unlocked the door and crept to the top of the stairs, the door to the sitting room was open and she could just see his green arm on the armrest of the couch. Quietly she crept down the stairs, maybe she could make a break for it? She shook her head, that was crazy, there was no way she could cross that moss, but she could grab supplies while he was distracted.

She moved through the kitchen quickly and quietly, pulling open cupboards and filling a canvas shopping bag with what she could find. She hefted the bag and moved towards the hall, as she stepped out of the kitchen the TV turned off. Grace froze, eyes going wide. The green thing walked out of the sitting room then stopped, surprised to see her. It grinned, a grin that was so like Brad’s it made her stomach twist, but completely alien at the same time. He held up his hands and lightly clenched his fingers. Grace recognised that sign, it was the same one he always gave her before he would chase her down and tickle her until she couldn’t breathe, until she was screaming with laughter and tears ran down her face. She dropped the bag and sprinted to the stairs, Brad leaped forward to block her path but she ducked around him, his fingers trailed along her back and she was gone, up the stairs and into the bedroom. She had it locked before he reached the landing. The thing stood on the landing for a minute, then there was a soft, gentle knock. She knew that knock too, the soft, gentle tap tap tap letting her know he was here if she wanted him, if she’d forgiven him for what ever he had done. She sighed in relief as she heard the creak of the stairs. He was leaving. Grace stood from the door and moved around the bed, she expected to see him outside in the garden again but there was no sign of him. The moss was almost touching the house now. She turned, her heart leaping as she caught sight of bright green, then she let out a slow breath, he hadn’t gotten in. She frowned at the mirror, then crept towards it, not wanting to see. Slowly she turned and looked over her back, the back of her top was encrusted with the moss, she let out a strangled cry and ripped the top off her, hoping that somehow she was safe. As she wrestled it off herself she felt the cool softness of it against her skin, finally free she let the top drop to the ground, by the time it landed Grace was covered in moss. She stood there for a moment, then twitched. she breathed in deeply then moved towards the door, unlocking it. She went downstairs, Greg was sitting at the kitchen table, a mug with a teabag and nothing else in it sat in front of him. He stood when he saw her and held out his arms, Grace went to him, feeling his arms enclose her. She closed her eyes and breathed in deeply, inhaling the light mossy scent that surrounded them both. Outside the moss grew across the house, coating it as it had coated the couple inside.

Out in the Darkness. Short Story.

Nancy pulled the blanket tighter about herself as the wind shook the trees against the sitting room window. She made a mental note to talk to Hanna about getting someone in to cut the trees back a little, then promptly forgot about it. The fire crackled in the hearth, providing heat that Nancy just couldn’t seem to feel. The heating had been on all day and she spent most of the afternoon in the sitting room, doors closed and fire blazing, blankets layered across her lap. She had a sip of tea, now only lukewarm, and changed the channel on the TV. Outside the tree tapped on her window again, the sound reminded her of something, though she couldn’t quite place it. Nancy dismissed the feeling and pulled the blanket closer. She’d have to have a talk with Hanna, maybe there were some drafts and she hadn’t realised, she couldn’t even remember that last time she was this cold. A voice spoke up at the back of her mind, soft but with a hard edge, “that isn’t true, you do remember.” she frowned at that. The weather had taken a turn about three days back, the mild, wet winter they’d been experiencing giving way to the freezing winds. The scent of snow hung on the cold air, fresh and promising, Nancy always loved that smell, ever since she was a little girl. The tree hit against the window again, only this time it was a gentle scratching sound, it sent a chill through her already cold body and she remembered the last time she had been this cold.

She had been fifteen and finishing up her shift at the store, outside it was already dark and the store was mostly empty. Keith, the manager, was somewhere in the back. Nancy didn’t mind working in the store too much, it was easy enough work and most people were nice enough. The only thing she hated was walking home during the dark, winter nights. Nancy buttoned up her coat and shoved her hands in her pockets, she’d forgotten her hat and scarf in her rush to make it to the store on time. It hadn’t been too noticeable then when the sun was shining down on everything and the wind had fallen still. Now the wind was blowing steadily and the air was frigid. She stepped out into the street and for a second found it hard to breath. The feeling passed and she took a deep breath, smelling the snow on the air. She smiled, Nancy always loved the snow and as she started to walk a few solitary flakes started to fall.

Ten minutes later and Nancy felt frozen to the bone. Snow was falling steadily around her, thick flakes drifting to the ground. Her ears were burning with the cold and she had a strange feeling that she’d never feel warm again. She paused at the intersection then turned down the alley, it would cut off a good ten minutes of her walk, her parents didn’t like her going down it but on a night like tonight she wanted to be home as quickly as possible. The alleyway was poorly lit and seemed darker than usual. Nancy kept a steady pace, ignoring the pounding of her heart and the sudden bloom of fear. She wasn’t a child any more and it was just an alley, she knew there weren’t monsters lurking in the dark. A figure lunged out of the darkness and she shrieked arms going up, Mr. Franklin from down the road stood in front of her, his eyes wide and staring, alarm replaced by concern Nancy touched his arm gently, “Mr. Franklin? Are you OK? Did something happen?”
“It’s coming again. I have to warn them. Have to warn everyone. It’s coming.” he looked at her, his eyes suddenly focusing, “Nancy? What are you doing here? Get home, now. Don’t talk to anyone on the way either it isn’t safe.” his head whipped around, he let out a strangled yell, “it isn’t safe. Get home and stay there!” and before Nancy could say anything else he took off, half running, half stumbling through the alley and out of sight. Nancy stared after him for a few seconds, torn by indecision, should she go after him? He didn’t seem to be in his right mind after all and if he was lost or confused. A freezing wind tore through the alley with a howl, Nancy stiffened, the cold stole that last of the warmth she had, shivering she turned and started to walk again. He would be fine, of course he would. She’d let her parents know when she got home, they’d know what to do, she wasn’t dressed for this weather and Mr. Franklin had been dressed warmly.

That night Nancy lay in bed, staring at the ceiling. Her parents had rang the police and last she heard they’d found Mr. Franklin, he’d been going through the town raving at people and was currently safe and warm in the local police station, sleeping off whatever he had drank. She shivered beneath her heavy blanket, the cold had gotten into her bones and she couldn’t seem to get warm again.

Nancy slipped from her bed and put on her slippers and dressing gown. Normally she brought a glass of water to bed, but with all the excitement of the night she’d forgotten and now her mouth and throat were dry. She crept across the landing and down the stairs, avoiding the parts the creaked. She didn’t bother turning on the lights as she went, she knew where everything was. In the kitchen she grabbed a glass then went to the sink. She peered out the window that was just above it, into the darkness and the sheet of falling snow in front of her. It was still coming down pretty heavily out there, maybe school would be cancelled tomorrow. She turned on the tap and started to fill her glass, listening to the pipes gurgle. Outside something moved amongst the snow. It was too dark to get a proper look, but it was large. Nancy frowned and squinted, trying to see something, anything but it was too dark. Then something was pressing itself against the window, Nancy stood frozen as she looked at the creature. It tapped on the glass gently, almost as though testing it. It had two dark eyes, a cruel, hooked nose and a short gash of a mouth. Its eyes met hers and it grinned, even though it looked like a man Nancy knew in her very soul that it was anything but. The thing winked, then it was gone from the window. Nancy’s glass overflowed, bitingly cold water washed over her hand and she dropped her glass with a startled gasp, it clattered as it landed in the sink.

By the time Nancy slipped back into her bed she had convinced herself it was just a trick of the snow and her overactive imagination. As she rolled over she heard a gentle scratching against her window. She nestled deeper into her blanket and squeezed her eyes shut. She had the urge to look, to get out of bed and walk to the window, the pull it open and let the cold night air in. Her stomach twisted, nausea building, the urge turned deeper, into a maddening need, an itch that she refused to scratch and still she heard that gentle sound that seemed to fill the entire room. There was a loud bang on the window, Nancy jumped her eyes opening. The scratching had stopped, she needed to know. She swung her legs from bed and stood shakily, goosebumps rippling across her skin. She walked to the window and gently pulled back the curtain revealing her empty window. She let the curtain drop back into place and went back to bed feeling foolish. She was just a little jumpy from her scare earlier. That was all. Nancy repeated it to herself again and again, but still she couldn’t’ seem to believe it. Eventually she fell into a fitful sleep filled with dark and violent dreams.

When she woke the next morning her parents had been sitting at the table in the kitchen, clutching cups of black coffee, her mother was pale, her father looked angry.
“Schools cancelled today.” her father’s tone was sharp.
“Snow day?”
her mother and father shared a look, “No, something happened last night, there was-”

“Joseph!” her mothers voice was high and slightly scandalised.
“What? What happened?”
“She’s going to find out sooner or later. It’s all the kids will be talking about, hell it’s all anyone will be talking about.”

Her mother was silent, “some people were attacked last night. Killed they think. They’re not sure.”
Nancy frowned, “what? How are they not sure?”
Her father looked at his coffee, “they didn’t find any bodies, but there was blood. Lots of it.”
Nancy sat at the table, feeling light headed. “Who? Who was it?”
Her parents shared a look, “we’re not sure yet, they haven’t released the names, but we know three of them were kids.”
Nancy felt her stomach clench, “Three of them? How many were there?”
Her mother slammed her hand on the table causing them all to jump, “That’s enough I don’t want to hear anything more about it. It was just a drifter, that’s all. The police will catch him and everything will be all right.”
An image flashed in Nancy’s mind, the man she had seen last night, maybe it wasn’t a dream. She opened her mouth to speak and her mother gave her a hard look, Nancy closed her mouth again.

In the end twelve people were killed, six children, six adults. Nancy didn’t know any of them personally, but she knew of most of them. The killer was never caught and the bodies had never been found. Most people seemed to think that Mr. Franklin had been involved somehow, he kept raving about the killings, he always seemed to know the nights something would happen. After the seventh victim a mob, consisting of the family of the victims went to his house. Mr. Franklin hadn’t been seen after that and the police were too concerned about the murders to worry about a crazy old man going missing.

A log in the fire popped, startling Nancy out of her memories, it was happening again. She could feel it. What ever that thing she had seen was, it wasn’t human and it was coming back. She stood from her couch, disentangling herself from the blankets. She needed to get to the phone, needed to warn someone before it happened again. She didn’t know how she’d get people to believe her, but she’d find a way. The scratching at the window came again, but it was different this time. Nancy froze, then slowly turned around, he was standing at her window, he raised his hand slightly in a half wave, around him snow was falling steadily. Nancy let out a shriek, she turned from the room and ran. Panting, Nancy stood in the kitchen, searching for the phone, it wasn’t in its cradle, as she searched she curse under her breath. How many times had she told Hanna if she used the phone she was to put it back in the god damned cradle? She could hear it tapping at the window in the kitchen, she refused to look, some part of her knew that if she just didn’t look everything would be fine but that need was back, that itch she knew she shouldn’t scratch. She felt herself turning, eyes rising and meeting the gaze of the thing on the other side of the window. It smiled at her, a slow, lecherous smile that made her stomach drop. Nancy started moving forward, unable to stop herself, she moaned as her shaking hand reached towards the latch, her hand gripped it, feeling the cold metal beneath her fingers. It turned and opened, the lock opening with a gentle, light click that filled her ears. The wind caught the window and blew it open, ripping it from her grip, thick heavy snowflakes blew into the kitchen, melting as soon as they landed. The creature was suddenly inside, she hadn’t seen it climb through the window, it was just there, in front of her. It nodded at her, the gesture was startlingly friendly and familiar, a quick “nice to see you again.” then it lunged. Nancy started screaming, a high shrill sound that was suddenly cut off.

Hanna let herself into the house, she stepped inside and stopped, it was freezing in here, did something happen to the heating? It had seemed fine yesterday. “Nancy? Everything OK?” Hanna didn’t bother stripping off her jacket or gloves, she opened the door to the sitting room and peered in, it was empty. She moved into the kitchen, Hanna pushed the door open and stopped. The window above the sink was open letting in the cold air and there was blood, so much blood, it seemed to have covered everything. Hanna fumbled for her pocket, wrestling to grab her phone with fingers that felt numb and somehow too large at the same time. After what seemed like an eternity her phone was finally in her hands and she called the police, fighting against the vomit that was at the back of her throat. She left the kitchen and stumbled into the sitting room, half collapsing on the couch where she’d remain until the police arrived, phone still gripped tightly in her hand

Entering the Void. Short Story.

Brenda scowled as the cameramen moved around the room setting everything up. To her right a reporter was chatting with Johnny. The last time Brenda had seen Johnny he’d been full of excitement and ceaseless chattering, now he was pale, his eyes seemed slightly too wide and his shoulders were hunched. She smiled to herself as she passed them by, going out her way to do so, as she past him she leaned into Johnny and muttered “if you’re going to throw up get it in the bin, thanks.” and continued on before Johnny could reply. She felt immense satisfaction at the look on his face, the reporter either hadn’t noticed or chose to ignore her remark. Brenda may have had some of her power wrestled away from her but she could still kick out anyone she pleased. Anyone that was, except Johnny. She looked at the computer screens in front of her, her team were working steadily, checking and double checking everything. She wasn’t concerned with a malfunction or a mistake, the team knew this procedure by heart and could do it blindfolded if needed but still she felt a faint thread of unease winding its way through everything else. This Johnny character was a wild card, he hadn’t been chosen specifically, hadn’t been vetted as the best candidate for the job, no he was here because of a god damned internet contest. She shook her head in disgust feeling the old anger rising again. It should be her god damn it. She pressed a few buttons, fingers slamming into them. She turned from the computer and stepped over a few wires to check the two metal doorways, they were arched, looking almost like empty Gothic window frames. The metal on them was thin, only a an inch thick, but it was more than enough.

Across the room a reporter nudged a cameraman beside her and nodded towards Brenda, “What’s her problem?” The cameraman shook his head, “How the hell do you not know who that is?”
The reporter shrugged, “I don’t need to know, I just need to say the line and that’s it.”
“That’s Brenda O’Connell. The one who invented this machine? The reason why we’re all here.”
“Huh. I thought she’d be older.”
The cameraman shook his head, letting Karen’s inane ramblings wash over him. She was right, she didn’t need to know anything, she just needed to look pretty and say the lines. It didn’t stop her from being any less infuriating, at first Victor believed the whole stupid cute reporter thing had been a shtick, something to get her more fluff pieces but after working with her for two years he’d found that she was exactly who she presented herself as. A pretty woman with nothing between her ears and no desire to be anything else. He knew why they’d sent her here today, they expected failure and wanted a pretty face to soften the blow, to tell the audience they can’t get it right every time. No one here really expected it to work, he’d chatted to most of the other cameramen and reporters, standing around the large table filled with stale pastries and lukewarm coffee. He wasn’t so sure though, someone was backing this with an awful lot of money and a good deal of publicity, why would they bother if they didn’t think it’d be a successful test? He suspected that this wasn’t the real first test, they’d have to have done it before to iron out any kinks and make sure it wasn’t fatal. Johnny broke away from the reporter he’d been talking to and seeing her moment Karen went over, expecting Victor to just follow. He sighed and went after her.
“So, are you nervous?”
“Well, yeah I guess. I mean who wouldn’t be? The first person to be teleported anywhere! I just hope all the pieces come out right!”
Karen chuckled softly, “So, Johnny what made you enter the contest? Did you ever think you’d win?”
“That was the goal, after all it was a competition, but no never in a million years did I think it would be me. I thought they’d choose someone with a background in science, maybe someone in better shape than I am. When my name came up I could barely believe it.”
“You’re married right? How did you wife feel when you won?”
“She was thrilled but a little worried, Anna is always so supportive of everything I do…”
Victor tuned out again.

Brenda pressed a button and felt herself relax a little as a gentle rumble started beneath her feet, the machines in the depth of the building were running smoothly, she scanned the screen quickly, looking for anything out of the ordinary, but all systems were fully operational. She smiled again, this time it looked almost predatory. She went to Johnny and pulled him away from some blonde reporter, interrupting them babbling at each other. “I’ve just started the machines, it will be time soon, are you ready?” He nodded, “Good. Please stand in the staging area for now, it won’t be too much longer.”
Johnny went over to where she had pointed, a small area marked off with strips of tape. “We’re about to see the first attempt at teleporting a human being, if this is successful it will revolutionise the modern world.” Brenda ignored them, of course it would work, what kind of idiot would she be if it hadn’t been tested all ready. As far as anyone outside of the project was concerned Johnny would be the first human through the teleportation gates. They’d never hear of the men and women who had been paraded through it, one after another as they worked out kinks. All in all twelve men and three women had gone through, none of whom had been Brenda, much to her annoyance. She should be the first officially recorded person through the gate, all those cameras should be pointing at her, after all it was her invention, her discovery’s that allowed them to get this far. She knew she’d be remembered but that wasn’t enough, it burned that Johnny would be the first person through, his idiotic smiling face immortalised in textbooks and film for the rest of time.

Brenda looked over the screens again and seeing that everything was optimal pressed the final button. A hush fell over the room as the doorways either side filled with blackness, spreading from the top down, one of the cameramen gasped. The darkness didn’t shimmer or shine, it just was, Brenda looked away, it still made her eyes water a little, her brain trying to make sense of that impossibly black doorway. “Johnny, we’re ready when you are.”
He nodded to himself, then took a deep breath and approached the door.
“The teleportation should be practically instantaneous, it will take the same time no matter how far apart or how close together the gates are.”

Brenda felt a faint thrill of anticipation in her stomach, everyone else who’d gone through it had described it as a little disorientating but it truly was instant. Johnny paused in front of the gate, “Here goes nothing.” Brenda winced a little, that was what he wanted to say? Nothing about what a leap forward it was for mankind or the start of a new chapter? She shook her head slightly and looked down at the computer screens, trying to hide her disgust.

Johnny stepped forward, he expected to feel something as the darkness hit his skin, some kind of resistance, maybe even a wetness, but there was nothing. He strode forward and through the doorway. Johnny found himself surrounded by the darkness, a ripple seemed to spread through it, like water hitting a puddle. The darkness came alive, millions, no billions of things writhed over one another, glistening in the darkness as they reached upward with grasping hands, their heads turned up towards him. Their mouths opened wide as they moaned and screamed, one looked at him, two empty eyeholes staring up at him and then he started falling towards them. He hit the writhing pile of things without feeling anything at all and then he was through. Light, sudden and cleansing, the darkness around him began to break apart, it shattered instantly and he saw the wall of the lab. Around him people were shouting and cheering, Johnny raised his fists in the air and jumped, already the memory of the journey through was gone, leaving nothing behind but a sense of exhilaration, it had worked, it had really worked.

Survival. Short Story.

Vincent walked through the scattered corpses, around them dying fires were smouldering, a thick haze filled the air. He didn’t pause or look at their faces, it was better not to know. When it had began all those long months before he had seen his first dead body, it haunted his dreams, but these bodies were nothing now, just part of the backdrop. It had been a teenage boy who was running just ahead of him when one of the monsters grabbed him. Vincent hadn’t paused, hadn’t stopped, he just kept running, it was the only thing he could do. He made it another twenty steps before something sailed over his head and landed in front of him with a heavy thud. It was the body of the boy, his head ripped from his shoulders, a gaping hole where his stomach should have been. Vincent had been sure he was next, kept expecting something to grab him but nothing did. That night the scene played over and over again in his dreams, the boys body crashing in front of him. When Vincent finally woke from his nightmare he’d just enough time to turn and vomit onto the ground beside him rather than over himself. How many people had he seen killed since? How many bodies? It was an endless parade of death and destruction. He’d seen people torn limb from limb, screaming all the while, he’d seen people killed in the blink of an eye, a giant stone falling from above and crushing them. He’d seen buildings collapse and burst into flames and somehow he’d managed to survive it all.

Vincent kept walking as the military moved in, this was the truly dangerous part. If they noticed him, noticed that he was broad shouldered, that he was still strong, he would face a seemingly simple choice, join the army or die. The truth of the matter was it would be a death sentence regardless of how he chose. The army had been throwing men at the things since it began and still they kept coming. It was all humanity could do to stay ahead of them. He ducked into a dark and half collapsed alleyway, two children, a boy and a girl, were picking through rubble, the girl glared at him as he past while the boy kept rummaging. Vincent kept them in sight until he rounded the corner, it was always better to have your guard up around the kids, they tended to move in packs and didn’t mind using the knives they liked to carry. He moved through an old apartment building, it was leaning drunkenly against its neighbour, looking as though it would collapse any moment. As he moved through what was once the lobby he could hear the noise of people above him, those too stupid or too poor to go anywhere else. Not him, so far the only thing keeping him alive was being on the move. He’d met plenty of people in the last city who told him it was safe, that he should stay, find somewhere and hunker down until it was all over. Three weeks ago it had been destroyed entirely, last he heard there was nothing left but a smoking crater. He picked his way over bits of concrete and rubbish, it looked like someone had attempted to move it all to the side but had given up partway through. Vincent paused at the front of the building, looking out at the rubble strewn street, people were already coming out to scavenge after the last attack, some were crying and shouting as they dug, but most worked silently, looking for food or anything valuable. At one end of the street stood a tall, gangly boy in a green, ill-fitting uniform, it looked as though he had borrowed the clothes from his father and the tightly gripped gun was almost comically oversized, he had wide, staring eyes that were starkly white against his grey, dust covered skin, Vincent guessed he couldn’t be older than thirteen. Vincent stepped from the building and headed off in the other direction keeping himself hunched over, the kid wasn’t exactly threatening but when dealing with someone that young, that untrained and that scared, you never really knew what you were getting into. Somewhere to his left there came a deep, throaty cry and Vincent froze, already people were beginning to scatter, someone ran past him, knocking him down as they went. Vincent scrambled to his feet and started running.

Vincent watched the city burn, people streamed past him in a steady flow, he could still make out people fleeing the city, dark shapes lit only by the leaping flames behind them. The gunfire had stopped, the army had abandoned they city around the time Vincent had made it to the outskirts. Vincent turned from the city and started walking again, he had lingered too long here, growing complacent, he needed to keep moving, needed to stay ahead of the things. Some people were talking, but most trudged forward with their heads down, many of them carried nothing having no time to grab any of their meagre belongings.

Vincent stopped and sat against some rocks. His feet were tired and sore, around him he could smell food cooking over the campfires that dotted the area, his stomach grumbled sullenly. He hadn’t eaten since the day before, but he had gone longer without food. He had been moving with the others from the city and they swarmed across the countryside, picking everything clean. He didn’t know where he was heading, he wasn’t sure if anyone really knew or if they were just following the signs to the next city. A small family huddled around a fire nearby, he watched as the mother passed food to her children, the mother looked up and caught his eye, he saw a flash of fear and she moved closer to her children, Vincent looked away. He wouldn’t take their food, he wasn’t a thief and he wasn’t that desperate, not yet. He stood from the rock and started walking again, ignoring the protesting pain in his feet. If he kept following like this he’d never get anywhere, he’d just be another desperate refugee, penned into a resettlement camp or conscripted. Besides, there was safety in numbers, but it could also attract the wrong kind of attention, all those people, weak and frightened, would make easy pickings for anyone or anything that decided to come along. Vincent spotted an apple on the ground, a glint of green that had mostly been buried in muck, he pulled it out of the mud and quickly wiped it down, the green skin was smooth and unbroken, though he knew he’d have eaten it even if it was half rotted. Vincent ate it quickly, trickles of juice running down the side of his mouth, already things were looking up.

Preminition. Flash Fiction.

Elena stood at the stove, spatula in one hand, frying pan tightly gripped in the other. Behind her sat Daniel, her husband of eight years and their 5 month old daughter Jessica. Jessica let out a shrill laugh, Elena scooped up a piece of bread and flipped it, “OK, careful I’m coming around with the pan.”

Daniel cupped his hands around his mouth and called “hot stuff coming through!” Elena moved past him, rolling her eyes as she smiled at him. Elena scooped up the slices of bread and placed them onto Daniels plate, then she was back at the stove. The morning light shone through the window on her left, sparkling in the stainless steel kitchen sink. Elena dipped two more pieces of bread into the egg mixture and put them in the pan, they sizzled as they hit the heat. Elena froze, it lasted less than a second, more of a stutter than a pause but to her it seemed endless. She gripped the frying pan tightly, she could feel the warm plastic handle digging into her palm, the heft of the pan in her hand. Elena spun, with a strangled yell she brought the hot pan crashing into Daniel head, he fell from his chair, he let out a groan “what…what hap-” Elena brought the pan down on his head again, he lay on the ground, one arm twitching wildly, his breathing was shallow with occasional hitching gasps, Elena raised the pan up “I’m sorry.” She brought the pan down, Daniel lay still. Elena dropped the pan, it landed with a loud clatter. She felt sick, her hands shook violently, but she couldn’t stop. She looked at Jessica whose face was red and streaked with tears and the shrill cries suddenly came into sharp focus. Elena ran to Jessica ‘s high chair and pulled her free, trying her best to sooth her daughter. Elena turned from the kitchen and walked down the short corridor, painted a nice muted green, Elena felt a horrible stabbing in her gut she remembered how difficult it had been for them to decide on a colour, such a silly argument but it had gone on for weeks. She’d do anything to have that stupid argument again. Elena opened the front door and stepped out into the corridor, she walked down it in her bare feet, the carpet was surprisingly soft. She walked past the elevator, still trying to sooth Jessica, and in to the stairwell.

Elena’s breathing was heavy, her arms felt impossibly tired, and Jessica was still sniffling. It wasn’t that much further she’d already gone seven floors. Elena didn’t pause at the top, she opened the door and walked out onto the roof. For once she was glad she lived in a place where the manager liked to let things slide. The maintenance workers had been bitching about the broken door up here for weeks. Elena shivered as the cold wind stole her warmth, Jessica started to cry again. This was the fastest way, the best way. Elena walked up to the edge and without hesitation stepped off. Together she and Jessica fell.

Elena and her family weren’t the first to die that morning and they weren’t the last. Elena and others like her had seen what was to come, the foul things clawing their way into the world and they knew that there was only one escape.

The Orb. Flash Fiction.

Janet carefully plucked a petal from the rose, then she watched as Patient 192 started to scream. A patch of skin along his forearm was peeling itself back, blood ran freely from the wound, the flesh worked itself free then fell to the ground. Fascinating. She plucked another petal, this time the patch of skin was on his shin. She kept plucking the petals, one by one and marking off the corresponding patches of skin on a clipboard. There was one petal left, a patch of skin in the middle of his chest, blood flowed freely from his exposed muscles, but he did not die. Janet had expected him to die of blood loss long before this, but still he screamed. She plucked the last petal and the last piece of skin fell from his body, joining the others on the ground, she had no doubt that each patch of skin would correspond to the relative size of the rose petal. She held the stem for a moment, the patient was moaning, how was he even still alive? After a seconds hesitation she broke the stem in two, the patient screamed as his hips ripped free of his torso, his legs fell to the ground, he stayed chained to the upright table. Deciding that she had learned all she could from this experiment she cut the stem into smaller pieces until finally there was nothing left and the patient was a pile of bloody meat on the floor.

Janet picked up the small glowing orb, it was about the size of a marble, she wore heavy duty gloves to protect herself from its influence. She held out the orb to Patient 193, “Please place the ball in that glass vase.”
“Is it safe to touch?”
“Completely. I am wearing gloves only to ensure that I don’t interfere with the experiment.”
The patient took the orb, “huh, I thought it would feel warm. Is it supposed to be cold?”
“Yes, it is, please place the orb into the glass vase.”
The patient, a 25 year old woman with long black hair and pale skin placed the orb into the vase, “Is that it?”
“We will do further testing in a few moments, for now you can just relax.”
“Ok. Will this take much longer? The woman said it would only take like an hour.”
“No, you won’t be too much longer.”
Janet picked up the vase and left the room, this one was going to be messy and they had yet to test the range, would it continue to work through a wall?

Janet placed the orb back into its container, a small lead lined box and gently closed the lid. On the other side of the two way mirror the patient had started pacing around the room. Beside Janet was a large metal box with spikes at the base of it, Janet held the vase above the box then threw it inside. The vase shattered and as she watched the patient exploded into chunks, she had no doubt that they would correspond to the size of the shards in the box. They already knew from previous tests that if the item remained intact the patient would begin to twist and collapse in on themselves over the course of twelve hours until they physically matched the object they had been linked to. If they could only figure out how to replicate the orbs they could do anything. It would be the perfect weapon. Rain them down upon a city and let things play themselves out. The people would be killed and all that would be left to do was tidy up the remains and remove and stragglers. Two people entered the room, both were wearing full biohazard suits, she watched as they began to pick up the pieces, which would be brought for further testing. She looked at the small lead lined box, the orb would be was active again, it was time to bring it to the next patient.

Life of the Party. Flash Fiction.

Francine lifted the fork full of raw meat to her mouth, slowly, almost sensuously she put the fork into her mouth and closed it, slowly drawing the tines between her lips. She savoured the taste for a second, then she started chewing. She swallowed, then sighed in satisfaction, “Perfection. Sheer perfection.” there was a polite round of applause, she gestured at the table and the guests picked up their own cutlery and started to eat.
“Oh, Francine this is just delicious, so vibrant, so full of life.”
“Thank you Damien, it was just slaughtered this afternoon, you couldn’t get any fresher unless you ate it right off the bone.”
“How do you manage to always have the best meat?”
Francine smiled “I’m afraid that’s a secret dear, my source wouldn’t take kindly if they found out that I had been telling people about them.” She took a sip of her wine and smiled. The five other people at the table focused on eating, three of them closed their eyes with each bite, focusing entirely on the food.

They ate their way through three courses until finally they sat chatting over coffee, the candles giving off a soft, gentle light, the guests would stay until the candles had extinguished themselves and no longer, as was tradition. Though the dinner party was a success, as usual, Francine found herself distracted and wishing the night was over, she had saved a special cut of meat for herself and she was dying to have a bite or two. She had restrained herself during dinner, taking only the smallest portions all in preparation for what was waiting for her on the kitchen counter. Finally one of the candles went out and everyone began to gather their things.
“Are you still OK for hosting the next dinner Mary?”
“Oh of course, I’ve already started making preparations for it.”
Francine showed them to the door, graciously accepting their compliments as they went until the front door closed and she was alone. Francine walked down the hall, ignoring the dining room and the dirty plates, those would keep until the morning. She went into the kitchen and went straight to the counter, slices of brain lay on a white porcelain plate, the meat glistened in the soft light. She opened the drawer and pulled out a knife and a fork.

When she was done she took three slow breaths, already she was feeling stronger, not that that was any surprise, the lovely donor of the meat had been a fifteen year old girl, full of life and fun. Francine didn’t know where her supplier found them, she didn’t want to know, it was none of her business really. All she cared about was the quality of the meat and it was always top quality. She left the kitchen and went upstairs, a glass of wine held in one hand. She stripped out of her dress and took off her jewellery, then she cleaned the make up off her face, pausing only to take sips of her wine. When she was done she climbed into bed, she needed her beauty rest after all and there was nothing like an infusion of vitality to help smooth away the wrinkles. She closed her eyes and with a small content smile on her lips she drifted off into a pleasant sleep.

From the Skies Above. Flash Fiction.

Nick sneezed, he pulled his hands away from his face and froze. Hundreds of little black dots covered the palms of his hands, he was infected. He had three days left, four if he was unlucky. He stood for a moment, just staring at his hands before a loud crash from outside startled him, he went to the downstairs bathroom and turned on the taps, there he washed his hands again and again, scrubbing at them with a nail brush until they were bright red and stinging underneath the spray of the warm water. He knew it wouldn’t make a difference, it was already inside him, but he couldn’t stand the thought of that black stuff on his skin. He left the bathroom and went to the kitchen, stumbling one or twice on the way. He sat down at the small wooden table and stared into the distance. Was this really how it was going to end for him? Alone in his house, unable to breath, to move. He got up from the table and filled the kettle, he needed something to calm his nerves, first he’d have a cup of tea, then he’d figure out a game plan. He still had the same food supplies as before, but well, now at least they wouldn’t have to be stretched as far.

Nick sipped his coffee, it was black, the milk had gone off the day before. The shops had been closed shortly after the first signs of sickness appeared and Nick hadn’t been outside since, not with the mandatory quarantine. No one was allowed outside their property and anyone seen doing so would be arrested or shot on sight if they appeared sick in any way. Nick had been lucky, he’d gone shopping only the day before it all started, he’d seen plenty of stories on the news of people going outside looking for food only to find a military patrol instead.

It had all started innocuously enough a week before, when there was a meteor shower, everyone had been outside watching, it had been billed as a once in a lifetime event and they weren’t wrong. What looked like millions of stars shooting across sky, visible despite the light pollution of the city. They had all stood outside, staring upwards completely unaware of what was raining down on them. Nick coughed, more black specks were on his hands, as he looked at them he felt tired, drained. The frantic urge to wash it away was gone as were all thoughts of a plan, there was nothing to do now but wait and hope that he’d be the first to survive.

Possessed. Short Story.

Jacob stood at the gate, looking at the house, it was two stories tall and made of red brick, the garden was quite large with an abundance of flowers, all of which were wilting and dying. The houses either side were easily twice, if not three times the size of the house in front of him. He took a slow breath, then opened the gate, it creaked as he pushed it in. He walked up the path and knocked on the large, black door. It opened a few seconds later to reveal a woman in her mid-fifties, her hair was in a messy bun, her eyes were red and swollen, it looked as though there had been an attempt at putting on make up but most of it had streaked. “Are you Mr. Vander?”
“Yes, I am and please call me Jacob.”
“I’m Meredith, please come in. Do you want to see him straight away?”
“No, first I’d like to have a quick chat with you and your husband, I need to know what I’m dealing with before we start anything.”
“Of course. Michael’s in the kitchen, would you like some tea or coffee?”
“Water would be great, thank you.” she lead him down a long hallway, her slippers whispering along the hardwood floors. The house itself seemed gloomy, despite the large windows and sunshine outside. Meredith opened the door to the kitchen and stepped inside, Jacob followed after. The floors and counter top seemed to be made of marble, everything in the kitchen gleamed in the light. A man was sitting at a small table, he stood as they entered, “Hi, Mr. Vander? I’m Michael”
Jacob shook his hand, Michael had a firm grip, but his palms were sweaty, “Please, call me Jacob. It’s nice to meet you Michael, I wish it was under better circumstance.”
“Me too.”
“Have a seat, are you sure you just want water?”
“Yes, thank you.”
He wouldn’t have turned down a shot of vodka or two, but it was still early, the vodka would come later, to help him forget.
Jacob sat at the table a second later a large glass of water was placed in front of him, ice tinkling gently against the glass, Jacob took a sip. “So, when did this all begin?”
“About eleven months back, right?”
“Maybe a year ago. We’re not sure. The change was gradual, we thought maybe it was just work stress or maybe he was fighting with his girlfriend again.”
Jacob nodded, “Yes, most people think it’s something like that at first. Has he seen doctors?”
“Yes, as we said on the phone he’s seen multiple doctors and psychiatrists and he’s been on multiple medications but none make a difference.”
“I know, I just have to be certain. What kind of behaviours did he exhibit?”
“Well, at first he was just more distant, he was closing himself off from us, then he started making mistakes in work, simple ones here and there. He was fired, he wouldn’t tell us why, just kept ranting about them not knowing how to take a joke. Since then he hasn’t really left the house unless he has to, mostly he stays up in his old room. He bathes regularly, he eats healthily, he seems normal enough.”
“But?”
“The things he says. Awful, horrible things. My mother” Meredith paused, her voice hitching slightly, she pulled a crumpled tissue from her sleeve, “My mother died in a car accident ten years ago. She was driving home and swerved to avoid hitting something, we think it was a deer.” She paused and took a sip of her tea, “She wasn’t found until the next day, it wasn’t a well travelled road, they told us that it had been quick. That she hadn’t suffered.” she paused again.
“I know it’s difficult but it would be helpful to know what he said, take as much time as you need and if you need a break that’s OK too.”
She nodded, took a slow breath, “he said that she hadn’t died straight away, that she’d slowly bled out, that she was just sitting in the cold, calling out for help for hours.” She shuddered, “he started calling out in my mothers voice, I don’t know how but he did. He called for help, then he started coughing, he stopped then and grinned at me, “She was coughing up blood, cold, trapped and scared, waiting for help that wasn’t coming.” I ran from him then, I couldn’t help it, I just had to get away and as I ran he started laughing, this awful screeching laugh.”
“He’s told us how every single person we’ve ever known has died, the fear they felt, the pain.”
Meredith looked at Jacob, tissue tightly clutched in one hand, “If that monster didn’t look like my son I’d have killed him myself long ago.”
Jacob reached across the table and gently put his hand on hers, “this is an extremely difficult thing to experience for anyone but you need to remember that it isn’t actually your son in there any more. It’s just a thing, a cruel, heartless thing that’s just looking to hurt you. It feeds off pain and misery, now it’s still young, still a baby that makes it easier for me to get rid of it, but it also makes it dangerous. The older ones fall into patterns, they become predictable, the young ones could do almost anything. What other behaviours has he exhibited?”
“He um, well, we think he has killed some of the neighbours pets. There’s no proof one way or the other but they started going missing the same time this all started. He’s also had issues with vomiting, this black bile hat has stumped the doctors. He has also experienced diarrhoea and incontinence.”
“Has he ever gotten physical with either of you?”
“He’s never hit us if that’s what you mean. Son or not if he had he wouldn’t be living here any longer.”
Jacob nodded, “That’s a good sign. It means it’s more likely to be a lesser demon, more of a pest than a true physical danger.” Jacob took a sip of his water, “I’ve to ask you something and I know you’re not going to like it but we need to be honest with each other. Do you want your son back?”
“How could you even ask something like that?”
“Look, you’re not the first family to go through this and you wouldn’t be the first family to want nothing to do with the possessed after it’s all finished. They can never look at their family member the same way again after all the things they’ve said and done, even if it wasn’t really them.”
“We want our son back, no matter what.”
“I do have to warn you that while you will get your son back he won’t be himself. He’ll be depressed, despondent. Some come out of it on their own, others don’t. I’ll give you the number for someone experienced with this kind of thing to talk to him. However, of those possessed, over 95% of them go on to commit suicide.”
Meredith gasped, her hand going to her mouth, Michael hugged her to him.
“He’s been through a lot, mentally, physically and spiritually. He isn’t really aware of what’s going on at the moment, he will remember once he’s free again, but to him he’s experiencing another world.”
“Oh my poor baby, it must be so terrible, what is that foul creature doing to him?”
“Unfortunately it isn’t that easy. You’re son isn’t living in hell at the moment, he’s in a sort of paradise. His life is going exactly how he wants it, he’ll have gotten promotions, money, he could even have a family in there. There’s just no way to tell until he comes back. We know that that life was never real, but to him it’s as real as this kitchen is to us. We don’t know how much time has passed for him either, it could be around eleven months or it could be a week or even twenty years. He’ll be distant when he first comes out and in mourning. It won’t be like flipping a switch, there’s been a lot of psychological damage and he will need time and support to recover, if he ever does. The procedure is mostly safe however that doesn’t guarantee that he will survive this, he may die, are you willing to take that risk?”
“That isn’t our son, but we want him back. If he doesn’t…doesn’t make it, well, we’ll be putting him to rest.”
“OK, I think it’s time I see him. I want you to both stay here, I shouldn’t have any trouble but it might have a trick or two up its sleeve. It won’t take me long, ten, fifteen minutes and then it will be over.”
Meredith grabbed his hand, “No matter what happens, thank you.”
Jacob nodded, “Where is his room?”
“upstairs, down the hallway, last door on the right.”
Jacob stood and left the kitchen.

The stairs creaked beneath his feet as he climbed them, the floors upstairs were also hard wood, paintings hung on the wood walls, mostly landscape scenery and a few family portraits. Jacob paused at the last door on the right, he could smell it from out here, a faint stench of rot, a slight tickle of sulphur, as though someone had just lit a match. Jacob didn’t bother knocking, he opened the door and walked in.

Douglas sat on his bed, as Jacob walked in he turned his head slowly and smiled at him. Douglas looked like a normal twenty-five year old, his hair was scruffy and there was stubble across his cheeks. “I was wondering when someone like you would show up. They warned me of you you know.”
“Really? I didn’t know I was famous.”
“More infamous than anything. Oh there’s a lot of people who want to get their hands on you. Just you wait.”
Jacob closed the door behind himself, despite Douglas looking normal, there was something off about his eyes, they seemed oddly flat, they were a pale, washed out grey colour.
“So where’s your bible? Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do, splash holy water on me while reciting scripture? I hear it burns so good.”
Jacob shook his head, “I’m not a priest. Those aren’t the tools of my trade. I come from something different.”
“Oh?”
“Yes, but my secrets are my own.”
“You’re no fun. Where’s the banter, the wit? Or are we just going to get down to business?”
There was a yowling screech from the closet, Jacob recognised the sound, “So you were the one taking the pets then?”
“Well, I figured Mr. Snuffles from next door would appreciate a few…changes.” there was a heavy bang on the closet door. “you know, make him bigger, badder, sharper claws. That kind of thing.” the banging on the door continued, “I’m getting stronger you know, every day. I’m still learning how to use this body, but I’m getting there. I’m starting to get sexual attraction too, that mother, she’s looks very fuckable, doesn’t she? Might have to show her what her son is really made of. I’m sure she’d enjoy it, she looks like a filthy bitch.”
“First time in a human?”
“How’d you know?”
“Sexuality is one of the first things the old hands get started on. You’re taking your time, getting a feel for things.”
“You got me. I tried to be subtle, keep things normal enough. I had them going for a while, they thought it was some kind of mental disorder.”
“They’d have kept thinking that too if one of my sources hadn’t spotted you.”
“And who might that be?”
Jacob shrugged, there came a crack from the closet door as it started to splinter. Douglas grinned, “You might want to go ahead and do something, my little friend there isn’t going to be stopped by that door for much longer.”
Jacob shrugged, “I’m in no rush.”
There was another crack, Jacob slid his hand into his pocket and pulled out a small vial.
“What’s that?”
“You’ll see.”
Jacob uncorked it and as the door shattered he downed the contents of the bottle in one gulp. A heavy wind filled the room, ripping old posters off the wall, sweeping things off the desk. The cat had been changed, it was about four feet tall and packed with heavy muscle, patches of different coloured fur covered its body along with thick, ropey scars. The cat jumped at Jacob, as it hit him it started screeching, its paws were stuck to his body. The cats body became rigid, then it dropped to the floor leaving nothing but a pile of meat and fur. Jacob took a step forward, Douglas screeched and scuttled backwards off the bed and onto the wall. Jacob reached out for him, Douglas shuddered then collapsed forward onto the bed, Jacob reached out and took his hand.

Douglas woke a few minutes later, his head pounding and his mouth dry. He looked around slowly, “What? What am I doing here? Where’s Samantha and the kids?”
Jacob shook his head, “They never existed, you were possessed, they were just creations of the demon.”
“What? What the hell are you on about? This isn’t funny where the hell are my wife and kids? Why am I in my old room? Mom!? Dad!?”
“Just take it easy for a few minutes OK? Your parents are downstairs, you’ll start to remember bits and pieces soon, just rest for now.” Douglas’ eyes rolled into the back of his head and he collapsed onto the bed.

An Easy Deal. Short Story.

“Now, I’m sure none of this is what you expected.”
Connor shook his head, “No, not at all.”
“We’ve had to streamline a bit in the modern day. People just don’t go into that whole ritualistic sacrifice and slaughter, it used to be huge though. It’s going to come back around though, just you wait.” The man behind the desk gave a small chuckle, Connor smiled nervously, the office was smaller than he expected, about five foot by ten, it was sparsely decorated, a simple large desk had been crammed in somehow and took up most of the space, there was a large window on the back wall, but Connor found it difficult to look at. It was like seeing the world through a heat haze and it made his head hurt if he looked at it for too long. The man sitting across from him wore a slightly wrinkled charcoal grey suit, his hair had been neatly arranged at some point, but now it was sticking up in places.
“The truth of the matter is we do need blood, blood contracts are the oldest and strongest available. Now, I’m sure you’re asking yourself ‘What is a blood contract?’ Well, simply put it writes the contract into your very DNA, that sounds scary, but it actually doesn’t take up a lot of space and is completely harmess. It just ensures that both of us hold up our end of the bargain. It can’t be destroyed or erased, once it’s done it’s done. The reason we call it a blood contract is because you have to sign in your blood. Don’t look so alarmed! Don’t worry it’s only a drop or two, you’ll barely feel it. You’ll use a single-use, disposable pen which will harvest your blood and allow you to write with it. It’s quick and almost painless.”
“And what do I get for that?”
“Now that’s just the standard package, wealth, women, or men if you’re into them, large house, fairly successful life. We can throw in fame, but it does cost a surprising amount if you don’t come by it honestly.”
“How much for the fame add on?”
“Well, as it stands we get your soul, for fame we have to add something in, bit of demonic power. You won’t be able to control it, but it will seed a bit of chaos wherever you go. Nothing too dramatic or dangerous, but enough to keep things lively. You can see it in action with some of the more out there celebrities. Your immediate family will be safe enough, as will you if you’re a bit sensible.”
Connor shook his head, “No, I don’t like the sound of that.”
“Not many do, but there’s no rush, if you decide to do business with us today you can always add it on in the future at any point.”

The man reached into a drawer behind his desk and took out a single white sheet of paper along with a pen sealed in plastic wrapping.
“If you’d like to just sign here?”
“What? That’s the contract? I thought it would be a stack of paper.”
“Yes, most do. It’s as standard enough contract, I, fill in your name, agree to trade my soul for wealth and success. The house and the women, or men, come later, after you’ve completed a personality test that will help us determine the best matches. Then there’s just some protections for us, like we can’t be blamed for anything you do with your power, wealth or success and we are not responsible for any of your actions after signing. We had to add that last bit in a few decades back, we had a messy situation on our hands then.” The man shook his head with a small smile, then pushed the piece of paper towards Connor. Connor picked up the pen and unwrapped it, it fit his grip perfectly, he felt a short, stabbing pain in his finger then it was over. He held the pen poised above the line, “What if I change my mind. What if I’m not happy?”
“We guarantee happiness, if you’re not happy you can always request your soul back, in that case we do a straight swap, we take back what was given and what was gained and you take back your soul. I will warn you this will leave you with nothing if you do get a refund, you will have the clothes on your back and one thousand of whatever currency you wish. There are also limits to protect us, such as you cannot request a refund if you are terminally ill or dying, you need to be in good health.”
Connor took a slow breath, that all seemed reasonable. Extremely reasonable. He lowered the pen and signed. As he finished the man stood and shook his hand, “Thank you for coming aboard with us today.” He walked Conner the few feet to the door and opened it, “If you’ll just head own the hallway and take the first door on the right, they’ll get you sorted with your bank transfer. You can arrange your success and wealth however you like. Inheritance from a dead relative, selling some new software, lottery win. It’s quite fun.”

Connor left the room, the man moved back behind the desk, his appearance began to change, his hair smoothed out becoming perfect again, his suit became crisp. The office stretched out becoming a bit bigger, the desk more imposing, the view more impressive. There was a knock at the door, it opened slightly and a woman popper her head around, “You’re next appointment has arrived.”
“Great, send him in, I’m ready for him.”