Tag Archives: horror

When the Chains Snap (Short Story)

When the Chains Snap

Amanda Leanne (2017)

Found in Shadows Through the Fog

The porcelain tile was ice under her feet. The plastic toilet seat was almost as cold as she felt it through the thin fabric of the threadbare nightgown. Fake silk, itchy lace, and straps a light yank away from completely ripping. She should have left the light off, but then he would have come to see what she was doing. With it on, he could assume she was using the bathroom. If it took a bit, maybe he would think she was going number two and he would be even more reluctant to walk in. She hoped. She wished. If she was religious, she would have prayed.

Her elbows rested in her palms, arms crossed over her chest. Goosebumps had broken out across her skin, giving it a grainy feel. Her hair hung in front of her face, blurry clumps of brown beyond her tear filled eyes. Her teeth bit into her lip, as she choked back the sobs. Another wave of shivers raced down her neck and the length of her spine. Her eyes would be red, puffy, bloodshot. He would know she had been crying. If he didn’t walk in and witness it himself, that is.

In the distance, beyond the closed door and down the hall, the muffled giggles of the toddler. The deep baritone of her husband’s voice seemed to vibrate through the walls. The giggles increased, changed and morphed into squeals of laughter. As comforting as the sound should have been, a new wave of despair crashed over her. She shoved her fist into her mouth, biting down on her knuckles as her body jerked with the near soundless sobs. The ground rumbled as her husband roared in laughter. A growl bubbled in her throat, thick and viscous as it maneuvered through the sobs and into her throat.

She began rocking, back and forth, the pain in her bones and muscles and blood sizzled through her body. The tiles melted under her feet, the walls began to crumble. Her eyes focused on the mirror, the reflection of the framed cheap flower painting taking center stage. The gaudy gold trim and contrasting jewel and pastel tones swirled into themselves, spinning into a puddle reminiscent of vomit. The puddle didn’t drip, it clung to the ugly peach paint. The mirror began to warp and buckle, distorting the image further. The sharp corners, dull and spotted from age, began to curl in under the invisible flames of the room. The paint on the walls began to bubble, darkness creeping in as the heat burned through.

Darkness. She squeezed her eyes shut, embracing the black behind her lids. The static roar of the fire died down, faded. Sucking in her breath, she slowly opened one eye, and saw the hideous painting was whole and still hanging above the toilet, behind her on the wall. The mirror was flat and still, and the walls were not burning. The tiles were no longer cold, but not hot either. Her body heat had warmed them under her unmoving feet.

As she pulled her fist away from her mouth, she saw trails of red where her teeth had broken the skin. Her body shook as she pulled in one ragged breath after another. The room felt small, the walls were too close. She barely had time to stand, spin around and open the lid of the toilet as she fell to her knees, heaving what little she had eaten into the clean, white bowl. Her chest ached and her stomach cramped as her body convulsed, emptying her stomach completely. She almost feared feeling her insides being shoved up and out as the dry heaves finally began to taper off.

Her sweaty head dropped onto the cool plastic of the seat. She took some comfort in knowing she had cleaned the toilet only a few hours earlier. The world faded into grays and back to jarring color as a sharp pain started behind her eyes. Her ears rang and buzzed. She braced herself on the flimsy seat, trying to keep from falling over onto the floor, although that had been cleaned as well. Cleanliness didn’t make the tile much softer for her head if she did fall, though.

Exhaustion poured through her. She wondered if she would be able to stand. Her legs felt like warm jelly. Muffled footsteps came from the distance, getting louder as they approached the bathroom. Her eyes darted to the crack under the door. The bedroom was dark, so she couldn’t see his shadow. He was standing there, she knew he was. He was listening, waiting to hear the sounds of splashes from the toilet or the spray of a shower head.

“Jennifer?” The knob wiggled as he attempted to open the door. “Jennifer, are you okay?”

Her throat was sore, dry and burning. She tried swallowing the acrid taste that enveloped her tongue.

“Jennifer!” The knob jiggled ferociously, the door vibrated as his fist banged into the hollow wood.

“I…” she coughed, wincing in pain, “I’ll be out in a minute.”

“Are you okay?” He was trying to sound concerned. He wanted her to open the door.

“Yeah, um,” coughing, she tried to clear the hoarseness from her voice, “I must have eaten something that didn’t sit well.”

“At dinner? Jack and I had the same thing you did. Are you sure?”

“I don’t know. Maybe it’s a bug or something. I’m fine, I’ll be out in a minute.” Her words were rushed, almost frantic.

“Okay. I’m gonna lay Jack down for the night. I’ll come check on you when I’m done. You want some water or something?” He was convinced. He was suspicious.

“No.” Her voice broke slightly. He was still standing there, waiting.

After a moment, the thumps of him heading away from the bathroom gave her a sigh of relief. Reaching up with her leaden arm, she pushed down on the chrome handle, ignoring the tiny flecks of icy water and vomit that misted from below her. She turned over, on her hands and knees, and crawled the short distance to the sink, grabbing the edge of the Formica counter to pull herself up. She stared at her reflection. Her eyes were wild, red rimmed and glassy. Turning on the faucet, she scooped cold water into her hand and splashed it into her mouth. Swishing and spitting she repeated a few times before leaning over, bending at a painful angle, and gulped the cool liquid down her burning throat.

The freshly laundered blue rag was soaked through and then rubbed vigorously on her face. Strength was easing back into her muscles, her legs still weak but no longer rubbery. She ringed out the rag and draped it over the front of the sink. Looking into her own eyes, she took deep breaths in, slowly releasing and then back in again. Pulling in the calm, is how she pictured it. She ignored the flames flickering at the bottom of the mirror. She refused to look at the painting as it began to blur. Deep breaths.

“Jennifer?”

She jumped. She hadn’t heard him coming back. He could be like that, when he wanted too. Stealthy and sneaky. Her eyes darted to the dark green shower curtain. Something moved behind it. Her mouth tightened as she frowned, watching carefully for the next flicker. There it was, a ripple from the back. It wasn’t enough to rattle the hooks hanging on the rod above, subtle but she saw it.

“Jennifer? You’re kinda of worrying me. Unlock the door.”

Her eyes narrowed as she stared at the sheet of plastic, the shadowy dips between the waves as it fluttered again.

“Goddamnit Jennifer!” He wasn’t yelling, but he was angry. His voice low and deep, growling at her. “I will break the damn door down.”

“I’m fine. I’ll be out shortly.”

“What the hell?” The knob jerked and jiggled, the door vibrating as he banged against it.

“Please, please just go away. I’m a mess. I’ll be out in a minute.”

“Jennifer, what is going on?” The sound of his fist hitting the door caused her to jump back.

“Please!” Her voice came out a hoarse yell, not quite a scream. “Go away!”

The walls bubbled as if they had liquefied. The mirror softly creaked as hairline cracks began racing across its surface. The tiles wobbled in loose grout.

Her sobs came out loud and thick as she hugged herself, sinking down to the floor. The ceiling bowed above her as if she was the source of gravity. The shower curtain shook and jerked on the plastic rings. Once again she shoved a raw fist into her mouth, biting down on the knuckles and sending a trickle of coppery flavor into her gasping mouth.

The door exploded inwards, the toddler cried from his room, and her husband stood above her, his breath heaving in and out as he stared at her. His eyes were unnaturally wide, seeming to get bigger the longer she watched. His teeth elongated, poking out of his parted lips as yellow stained spears. The hair on his body was thick, disgustingly so. His hands gnarled claws.

“Jeeennnnifeerrr!” His mouth opened to reveal the full rows of shark-like teeth as he roared her name.

She screamed into her fist, her body shaking uncontrollably, tears streamed down her face in torrents blurring the room around her as it continued to deteriorate. They would both die if it kept going.

His words garbled into unintelligible growls and snarls. She pulled herself backward, the knobs of the cabinet poking painfully into her spine. She dropped her hands to her side to push against the floor, wanting to push straight through the thin wooden doors, into the cabinet, through the wall, out into the world and away from the hell that was encapsulating her.

His hands came up, reaching for her as he came closer. The bloody cloven hooves cracking the tiles with each step. Jennifer continued to scream as the world pulsed in and out, the colors getting brighter and dimmer as it all swam together. And then finally, the black rolled in and coated her vision, muffled her ears, and pulled her away from the demon.

Before his hands could grab her shoulders, she seized up, her body jerking hard twice, and then collapsed onto her side. He screamed her name as he fell to her knees, pulling her into his lap as he tried to feel for her pulse. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out his cell phone and called an ambulance.

He couldn’t find a pulse. He didn’t think she was breathing. He didn’t know what happened. She seemed really scared and was screaming, biting on her hand and crying and then the collapse.

The ambulance was on its way.

Her face was sodden, mouth matching her fist in a mix of saliva and blood, snot from her nose and tears from her eyes blended with the film sheen of sweat covering her skin. He was baffled, confused, and frightened. The operator was trying to tell him how to do CPR, but he couldn’t get the image of her staring at him like he was a stranger, like he was going to hurt her, out of his head.

The ambulance came. They used the emergency access code to enter the locked door. A large man in the police uniform pulled him back as two blue clad medics began working on his wife. He saw the brief glance they shared, the tightening of the mouths. She was dead.

“What happened?” He barely recognized his own voice.

“Sir, we would like you to tell us.” Officer Mark Gallows, or so his name tag stated, looked straight into his eyes. “Perhaps we could attend to your child while I get a statement from you?”

He led the officer out of the bedroom and across the hall. The toddler was standing in his crib, grabbing the rails in his tiny fists as he hiccuped through tears. Reaching down, he picked up his son and hugged him close. The world seemed so small and empty.

“How about we go into the kitchen?”

He nodded and followed the officer out and down to the white tiled room. He automatically went to work making a warm bottle for the baby as the officer took a seat at the bar.

“So what happened tonight?”

“I’m not really sure. She was in the bathroom for awhile and I went to check on her. She sounded off but said she was just feeling sick and maybe it was something she ate. We all ate the same thing though. After a bit longer, I was starting to get worried and tried to check on her again. She kept wanting me to go away and was crying and even screaming sometimes. The door was locked and she wouldn’t open it. I started to get really scared and as she got more frantic I panicked and kicked the door in. And….and she just stared at me in horror. She was terrified. I didn’t know what to do. Then she went all rigid and sort of fell over and I called 911.”

“Is there any history of domestic abuse?”

“What?! No. Never.” His look of shock seemed convincing to the officer, who nodded and moved on.

“What about psychological issues with Jennifer? She have depression or psychotic episodes?”

“No. Nothing like that. She’s been so happy since the baby came along. She’s writing a book and loves staying home with him. She’s always smiling and seemed to be glowing. If there was, she hid it so well.” He shook his head, staring at the little boy in his arms. Tears flowed freely down his cheeks.

Officer Gallows watched the man. He used his wife’s name in the present tense, suggesting he hadn’t processed her death and making it less likely he was responsible. He was concerned the man was going into shock. Turning to the side, he radioed for a second medical team. If anything, the man and baby should be checked to make sure it wasn’t something environmental.

“Is there anyone I can call for you, sir?” Officer Gallows glanced at the man who had stopped rocking his son back and forth and stood staring at the little boy.

“Sir? Are you okay?” The officer stood and walked around the bar, his hands poised to grab the baby out of the man’s arms if something suddenly happened.

Commotion from the hall caused the officer to turn and watch as the medics rolled the covered body toward the front door. When he turned back around, the kitchen was empty.

“Officer Gallows. Dispatch confirming need of a secondary medic vehicle. Is there information on the patients?”

“Um,” He turned a circle in the room and stepped back toward the hall, the acrid odor that had struck him when he came in was stronger. “The patients husband and child.”

“Repeat that please.”

“The husband and child of the original patient. Just for a check-up and to watch the husband for potential shock.”

“Sir, I believe you may be mistaken.”

Officer Gallows walked back down the hall. For the first time, he noticed the soot stains on the ceiling. The smell of burned garbage and wet charcoal grew stronger.

“The patient is in route to the hospital. It’s suggested you and whoever is remaining at the scene exit the building due to structural compromise from last weeks fire damage.”

His mouth dropped open as he stared into the baby’s room. The paint on the walls was bubbled and black, the floor and ceilings were black. The crib was but a skeleton of ebony. The smell of the burned debris was nearly unbearable.

Officer Gallows spun on his heels and went into the master bedroom. The room was a mess. Items of clothing were everywhere. Minor fire damage around the door frame was nothing compared to the water damage from the fire hoses. The bathroom was a mess. Everything charred, burnt, broken and destroyed.

Back in the hall, he walked down the blackened carpets, glancing into the shell of a kitchen. Absently he rubbed the butt of his pants, not surprised to see the smears of ash when he looked at his hand. The wall behind the stove, the wall that was shared with the nursery, was open, with the blackened studs the only barrier.

“What happened to the husband and child?” Gallows spoke into his radio, his voice wavering.

“The died in a fire last week. It’s believed the patient may have had some involvement. She’s been missing since then.”

Walking blindly, Officer Gallows exited the house. He refused to look back as he walked to his car. Once inside, he pulled out his cell phone and looked up the address. A picture of the man and the toddler was shown with an article about the fire and their deaths. It was believed the woman had looped the gas lines from the stove back into the wall and ignited the fuel. She hadn’t let the fumes build up enough or the house would have been in much worse condition.

Looking into the police report, he discovered the man had still been alive, breathing in the black smoke as the fire burned him and the child. The window’s electronic fail safe had been turned off and the bedroom door locked. Marks on the other side of the door suggested the man had tried to kick it down. Jennifer Copen was consider a dangerous psychiatric patient who had left the hospital against doctor’s orders after her husband admitted her with postpartum depression. There was a warrant for her arrest in connection with the fire.

Officer Matthew Gallows stared at the phone in his hands a while before finally lifting his head to look at the house. A man holding a child waved at him from the door. They were barely recognizable. The skin was black in the places it still hung onto the bones. Their eyes seemed too big and bright. Teeth poked out of the shriveled mouths as they stretched into grotesque grins. The man held up his hand, bones poking out a vibrant white against the charred flesh as he gave a salute.

The officer slowly raised his hand in return. He pushed the button to begin the ignition sequence on the car. He entered the address for the nearest mental health check-up clinic and laid back as the car began its short journey. He wasn’t sure if he even dared to close his eyes.

Sever the Circle

Life for me and mine was set. Wood Women, witches to many, had a cycle. There were only two Wood Women alive at a time, a mother and her daughter. As the daughter beget her own, her mother would cease to be. But that wasn’t the only circle that justified our life.

The town was ours and we belonged to them. The crops flourished and the seasons changed, as was our want. We wove the tapestry of the town, trimmed the frayed threads, added the new ones, removed those that had faded, and kept the picture beautiful and trapped within a bubble of our making. They knew only of which we wanted them to, no more or less,.

As stories are often about a change, a disruption, so is this one. The circle of the lives of the Wood Women, the life of the town, and the sphere we had built to keep it all contained in was challenged, attacked, and eventually severed. There was another darkness in the night, untouched by moon and fire, and it held the secrets that would be our undoing.

GOODEREADS

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“I am a Wood Woman. One from a long line of Wood Women. We are the forest, from and of, and we are the caretakers of the town. We see and we mend, we care and we tend.”

“I don’t understand.” His eyes were narrowed as he searched my face. As much as he complimented me on my observations, he was a bit keen, himself. “If you are saying what I think you are saying, I am unsure how to proceed.”

“Would you burn me at the stake for healing the sick? For helping women birth babes? For making sure the harvests are good and rains come when needed?”

“No, not for those things.”

“But for other things? Do I sacrifice the young and eat their hearts?” I couldn’t help but laugh, a deeper laugh than I had ever felt any time before. His face was frozen but then cracked, his lips widened into a reluctant smile. “I assure you that all I hunt in the forest is small game, not humans, and that I prefer my meat well cooked. Stews are nice and keep for days.”

“I see. Do you not have a being you pray to, though? An entity that holds your hand and controls your heart and mind?”

“Only myself, Zariah. There are no devils or demons here.”

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Coming Soon: Sever the Circle

Life for me and mine was set. Wood Women, witches to many, had a cycle. There were only two Wood Women alive at a time, a mother and her daughter. As the daughter beget her own, her mother would cease to be. But that wasn’t the only circle that justified our life.

The town was ours and we belonged to them. The crops flourished and the seasons changed, as was our want. We wove the tapestry of the town, trimmed the frayed threads, added the new ones, removed those that had faded, and kept the picture beautiful and trapped within a bubble of our making. They knew only of which we wanted them to, no more or less,.

As stories are often about a change, a disruption, so is this one. The circle of the lives of the Wood Women, the life of the town, and the sphere we had built to keep it all contained in was challenged, attacked, and eventually severed. There was another darkness in the night, untouched by moon and fire, and it held the secrets that would be our undoing.

Coming late Spring 2018, Sever the Circle by Amanda Leanne. A dark tale of witches, will power, and nightmares that are much too real. Will be available on most major ebook retailers and in paperback from Amazon.

White Neurosis (Horror Short)

This short story was written based on the writing prompt: A wintry scene and interpretation of the song “Reach” by Neurosis.

We didn’t watch. The explosion ripped through the night behind our backs and we kept walking. Not because we were badasses. No, definitely not that. In fact, we felt the opposite of that, the very black to that white. It wasn’t the first, nor the last, and the screams that still echoed over the raging flames was enough. We didn’t need to watch. I don’t think we could stomach to witness any more of the destruction our path had wrought.

Her hand felt so small, so fragile, in mine. The frozen blood and dirt that crusted our gloves was ground between our clasped palms. Death had, actually, not done us part, as the old saying went. Marriage between two souls sometimes went beyond petty normalcies, especially when the world was far from normal. Even more so when you see the world as it really is. When the veil falls, the gauzy screen is cleared away, and you see the truth of what is going on around you, around everyone. Humans didn’t rule the planet anymore. I don’t know if they had slipped to second place in the past month or year or what, but I knew we were quickly fading. She knew it too. She could see, as I did, that something else was perched, crouched, on the top of the food chain, annihilating its way down.

She was trembling. I couldn’t see her face in the night sky, not well. The half moon placed it in such heavy shadows under the hood of her sweatshirt, but I saw the sparkle and reflections of tears freezing on her cheeks and puffs of white as she tried to control her breathing. She wasn’t meant for this. Part of me felt guilty but a sliver was happy I could still protect her. She was all I had left to protect. If not for me, if not for us, one or both of us would have become one of them. Or we would be dead. Like our children. We didn’t do that. We couldn’t have. If they hadn’t had killed them, trying to kill us, we would have probably succumbed as the majority of the world had. The world failed them. We failed them. We should have never had children. But we hadn’t known. We couldn’t see them. Not then, not yet.

“There’s…” I coughed, partly to clear the smoke from my throat but I knew I was having my own emotional turmoils. Not crying. Not really. “There’s a, um, roadside inn not too far from here. Remember? The one we saw a few days ago?”

“Yes.” Barely a whisper.

“Maybe it’ll be okay. So far away from everyone else, you know?”

“Hopefully. But they might’ve seen the news, the lies they are telling about us.”

“Yeah, maybe. We’ll see.”

“Will we have to kill them too? If they aren’t one of them, but they recognize us?”

“I don’t know.”

And back to the sounds of tired feet scuffing across the snow, ragged backpacks thumping with each step, and labored breathing. A sniffle. A cough. No words. The air was getting so much harder to breathe in. I couldn’t quite make them out, but the massive silhouettes of the mountains were growing in the distance. Our destination was in those. We hoped. We didn’t know, not for sure, but that was what the message had said. There was no way to check anymore, see if it had been updated or some status like ffs, total clickbait, fake news, not safe at all posted in the comments. Nope. None of that.

Cell phones had been the secondary heart of the human race, but with the dwindling of the species, elimination of the devices was the quickest way to cut off all communication, rebellion, hope… anything. It was smart of them. I think it was how they got through to so many in the first place. But it was also how it alerted some of us. How we found out that something wasn’t right. The “conspiracy theorist crazies” had found something. It all started with a damn filter for social media. A quick way to stylishly alter an image. It was supposed to remove “unnatural lighting” from a picture, giving a very realistic image, like super HD or something. Instead, it removed the facade they wore. And then we saw them.

It sounds stupid. I almost want to laugh but I feel her hand, occasionally squeezing mine, and I know there is nothing to laugh about anymore. Nothing to find humor in. Not when the white, wormy looking things stared at you with their pus-colored eyes, reached for you with their tentacle-like arms. Their mouth was but a tube, a proboscis if school-age science memories are accurate. At least that is what I think they looked like. I can’t be sure, thinking back. They wear the people. Somehow. Or maybe they wear something that looks like the people but isn’t completely real. Maybe they aren’t real. Maybe we killed the kids. Did we kill the kids?

“What?” Her voice had moved up an octave. I spoke out loud. I had been doing that a lot lately. Shit.

“I’m tired.”

“Don’t….do not say that. Do not ever say that.” She stopped, stock still, yanking my arm to make me face her. “They did that. We saw them do that. We didn’t have the guns and explosives then. They made them….nothing. They took them and they were just gone! We did not do that!”

“I know, I know, I’m just…I can’t keep shit straight in my head, you know? Like, I don’t remember what they look like or how the kids….It’s getting dark and fuzzy and I can’t remember.”

“They look like snakes. Black and slimy and their eyes are red and evil. Their tongues lashing out of those damn, nasty ass teeth!”

I didn’t know how to respond to her. That wasn’t what I had seen. I didn’t think so.

“Are you sure?”

“What? Yes….maybe, I don’t know!”

She was definitely crying now. Hard.

“Okay, okay.” I pulled her close, sliding my hands around her jacket-layered waist and under the backpack. We had lost so much weight. When had we eaten? “Okay, let’s trying to get to the inn, get some sleep and maybe a shower. We need that.”

I felt her head bob against my chest. Reluctantly, I let her go and we continued on. No more words, again, and I tried to keep my head quite too. Didn’t need any more of that either. The sign for the hotel was dim under the snow but stood vigilant over the small building. Max of ten rooms and barely far enough away from the road for someone to park. Not that anyone would anymore. Unless it was them, though. A bunch of them could load up on a school bus or something and ride around sucking all the people out of themselves so they could plop another one inside what was left. That was a possibility.

“Something doesn’t seem right.” Her whispers sent a chill down my spine, it was as if she was hissing.

“Nothing’s right…” I turned my head slightly, trying to see into her hood from my peripheral.

I thought the light from the motel was reflecting off her skin, or scales, or something. Was I losing it or had I lost her? Either way, we were close to being screwed.

“What?” Her head flicked around, vertical slits shining as they watched me.

I shook my head, afraid to open my mouth. I shook off her hand and hurried up to the glass doors. Before my hand touched the handle, I saw them. Four of them standing around the front desk, staring at the television. A fat slug with beady black eyes was squeezed into a black suit. I didn’t see a mouth, but the captioning at the bottom did well to tell me what was going on a second before our images were on the screen. And then they started turning.

“Run, there here!” I grabbed her hand, glad the gloves prevented me from feeling any scales and pulled her behind me.

We circled around the motel and to the wide expanse of snow behind. But why was I seeing her as she saw them? That had to mean it was in my head, that she was safe. Maybe. I didn’t know how it worked. She saw them differently then I did. There was no manual for when the shit hit the fan. I mean, there was, but not like this. People are Slug-men Out to Kill You and How to Hunt with a Cellphone and Starbucks Straw……yeah. No.

We ran, stumbling in the snow, pulling each other up, pushing forward, our faces hurt, our muscles burned, and the icy mountain in the distance seemed no closer. If the world snapped back to how it had been, we would be able to join the Olympics. Free Runners, solid golds with a training regime of running for their lives all the goddamn time.

The sound from behind us was a massive tsunami of terror shoving us up the mountainside. High pitched screeching with the roar that shook the ground around us. The ground slowly sloped upward and the tremors began shaking the powdery snow.

“Oh shit!” My eyes had bounced up enough to see a side of the mountain sheer off and come blasting down the side.

Trees and rocks began to join the momentum. I pulled her to the right and tried running parallel to the mountaintop, knowing it was a useless endeavor. Within moments, we would be buried under the very sanctuary we were seeking. And they were still coming, unaware or unconcerned about the massive avalanche they were causing. Maybe that was the point. Bury us and be done.

I turned back to look at her, to make sure she was still attached to the hand I held. Our eyes met and she screamed, jerking away from me and falling backward. I slid to a stop, ignoring the chunks of snow and ice falling around my boots as I looked into her terrified face.

“Oh no, no no no no….” Her serpentine head swung wildly from side to side, “They got you. When did they get you?”

“What do you see?”

“You’re not like the others. You look like a night crawler, white and….oh god! How are you talking? Where’s your mouth?”

“Shhh, you look the way you told me they looked. Not like how I see them, but how you see them. I saw it before the motel. And now you see me the way I see them. I don’t think it’s real. I think it’s in our heads.”

“Then make it stop!” Her words echoed a moment and then were muffled as the sliding debris hit us.

We slid down, somehow afloat on the mass, but having to dodge each yank and pull from that which wished to take us under and devour us. I didn’t know where they were. I didn’t care. I tried to hold onto her, but both of us struggled to touch the other. What if we were changed? Maybe they looked different than we were seeing but some hive mind was contorting it all. We all saw what we wanted to see, as we had for ages.

The pain faded as the cold sucked everything from me. Exposed skin went from fiery burning to numb. A dull pain, like a severe headache, throbbed in my bones. I think she was gone. I couldn’t hear or feel her. My arms waved wildly as I tried to stay above the massive landslide. We had been so close to the edge of it, so close to being precariously safe.

And then it stopped. The motel a few yards in front of me. I realized the mountain had been closer than we thought, or we had traveled further, or nothing was as it seemed at all. She was close by. Her face as it was before but more pale and hollow. Her eyes blinked rapidly as her mouth gaped.

“Oh god, are you okay?”

I fell down on my knees and began digging and tugging, trying to get her out of the snow. I needed to make sure she was whole, she was okay. She was all I had left. I leaned over her and saw her neck was steaming, the red pool growing around the gash under her chin.

“No! No!” I didn’t know what to do.

Her eyes found mine, and they were still yellow with the black gash down the center. The eyes of a serpent. I leaned over and pressed my lips to her, the tears freezing on my eyelashes. She tried moving, but gave up, gasping and gurgling. And then I glanced behind and saw them, so close. Within moments, they would be on us. And I would be gone too.

“Not like this.”

There was no use in stopping the blood or comforting her. She was fading. But I wasn’t going to let her go alone. We made it this far together, we would continue on in the afterlife.

I ripped off my backpack, surprised it had stayed on with the straps frayed and tearing at every seam. Inside was more explosives and a few flares. I snatched up the flare, dumped the sticks of dynamite over her and leaned down for a final kiss. I saw their shadows falling over us as I ignited the flare, the phosphorescent light bursting a second before the world blinked white and then nothing.

Interview on Storyteller

Women in Horror Month is here! I have been featured on S. K. Gregory’s Storyteller Blog today, so if you get a chnce, check it out!

WiHM9 Interviews Amanda Leanne Boyce

 

A bit from the interview:

S.K. Gregory: Why is horror writing important to you?

Amanda Leane: I have an interesting theory about horror and what it does for me. I had a difficult childhood and have dealt with depression and insomnia (mine as well as that of my family) for a good amount of my life. Books became a staple for me at an early age. I learned to read when I was four, thanks to a determined uncle who saw my young fascination for books , and had read my first horror by the second grade. My mother loved Stephen King and Anne Rice, and so those books were quite plentiful. With insomnia, mom would be up late watching horror movies on one of the old random channels that played classics. And so the reading and watching gave me an early introduction, respect and love.
With horror, I feel it is more relatable to life. I’m not, nor ever have been, a fan of happy endings. I feel that if something goes horribly wrong, it can never be completely righted. I also feel that horror can embody issues worse than my experiences and fears, thus giving me proof of a darkness much bleaker than any I have dealt with. When I write horror, I get to control that. I am in control of the darkness. I decide how deep it can go, what it does , if it is able to be overcome and what it will leave behind. I can create worlds worse than any depression I have had and yet at any time I can tilt it another direction.
Horror is also necessary, in my opinion, to show the depths of depravity the human mind is possible to have. It also allows us to indulge in the faux pas aspects of being human in a lawful world without breaking any morality or personal vindications. You can delve into the mind of a cannibal or sympathize with a real monster and its okay. In horror, you can face your fears or bask in the darkness and close the book at the end without changing your place in the world. Horror allows us to confront and embrace so much on our own terms.