HOLLOW

: When death creeps under the weave of your skin :
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V

Remember

What it felt like

When you clawed out my light

And held me under

Until I  d r o w n e d

Over and over

Before you let go and

Fed me to the wolves

Who set fire to my bones

R e m e m b e r. 

OAK III: Red Flowers & Bone

Cut to the bone.

The Earth around The Oak was tangled with slender vines tipped with jagged red flowers. The buds pushed themselves up several inches above the soil, opening slowly with tendrils of sap glistening and dripping down the vines. The sap’s bioluminescence glowed a soft orange in the dark, their stamens poking upward from the centre of each bloom, swirling gently.

Cut down rather than across.

The sap released a pheromone that billowed into the air. Tiny carmine spores floated from the blooms, creating a heady dust designed to lure and intoxicate. A low hum reverberated from deep within The Earth, a vibration that sent a shiver through the area, casting the spores further afield. They drifted, some settling on leaves and moss, glowing faintly in the dark.

A guttural rumble tore the mossy soil apart around The Oak, the green folding back on itself and convulsing as if it were birthing something.

And birth something it did.

Cut to the bone.

Its fingers or what were supposed to look like fingers thrust upward from the ground, thrashing and hacking its way out as the blooms around it rose higher, releasing more spores and spitting sap. Its body was made entirely of nature, but this was not the type of nature that was kind. It was everything terrible nature could create.

When it finally broke free from The Oak, it stood at over ten feet tall and oozed the same sap and wafted the same spores as the flowers around it. It yanked its head forward, the blooms ripping out from inside the soil as they unfurled and gathered around its head in the mass of vines where its hair would be. Those red flowers floated and swirled around its head in a cloud of hazy poison. A low hum drifted around as a warning signal, but nobody would be clever enough to realise.

When it moved, sap trickled from its body leaving clumps of corrosive venom on the ground, yet it didn’t seem to eat away at it.

The creature opened its mouth and roared, the howl sending a shockwave that produced even more spores, the air around it now thick with them.

Cut down rather than across.

It buried its roots in the ground in front of The Oak, gorging on tiny crawling life from the Earth, but it wasn’t enough. It needed more.

Cut down rather than across.

It heard those words spoken with anger, spoken with the intent to hurt and cause pain, and it followed them slowly, unfurling its roots from the ground, creeping across it, the spores and vines drifting in slow fluid movements. The forest reached out for it, branches creaking and twisting to touch the red blooms, leaves uncurling, mosses pulsing against the ground as if the Earth’s heartbeat were heavier than usual.

This was not an it. This was a SHE. The embodiment of The Divine Feminine in her rawest form; RAGE.

She could hear the words cutting through the air, vicious and malignant. She recognised those words and remembered what she was before the shame hit, before she had given herself to the Earth via The Oak, she remembered;

Cut to the bone. Cut down rather then across otherwise it won’t work, cut down..

He was asleep. She saw through the gaps in the forest, over the gentle ripple of the water from the pond in the night, and around the landscape until she was stood over him. Her mouth fell open slowly in a quiet hiss, her jaw distended and cavernous. The vines and red blooms around her head shifted in one snake like movement, poised above his face, creeping closer. The glow from the flowers cast soft light over the shadows of his face, but revealed more than surface skin. Those words; the poison he released and couldn’t take back pulsated and coiled under his flesh like parasitic worms. She could see them moving and growing. His face was puffy and engorged, and every few seconds a blackened worm would flick from his lips and across his cheek, only to find its way back inside by slithering up his nose.

Cut to the bone.

The poisonous whispers were right there in front of her.

She lowered her head inches from his face, every bloom on her vines as close to his skin as could be without touching it, spores wafting and filling the room, that low hum that nobody would have taken as a warning sending ripples through the air.

She wanted him to see her before she took him. His eyes were forced open and he could see the vision of rage he’d help create, just as she coiled her vines around his throat and neck, across his gaping mouth as a strangled gurgling bubbled out. His eyes looked into what used to be hers, but they were glowing rings of blazing anger, and nothing like the ones he used to see. The soft bark of her once smooth skin unfolded so fresh vines could uncoil and pin him where he was. They stabbed through him like hot bolts, gleaming with corrosive sap that hissed and frothed though his flesh. The vines around his throat coiled tighter, slowly and deliberately so she could hear every crack, every break, and every pop as the life drained from him. The facial cavity that was once her mouth was so distended that it was wider than his head, and she was siphoning him into her core. He tried to struggle and writhe beneath her, but he was too weak as she tore the life from him. The place where her heart used to be glowed a bright red that flowed through every part of her right to the ends of each flower. Her belly grew rapidly as she consumed him.

A final crack from the thickest vines ended him, as it broke his neck. She paused over him, looking over the burned out husk of what he was. Her mouth shrank back into place, her vines recoiled and settled themselves softly. He was now as he had once left her, hollow, and empty, and cleft. The worm like words oozed and crawled out from inside what was left of him, because they always survive. She watched them trickle away into the dark, where they belonged.

The newly fed blooms on her vines puffed out a generous cloud of spores over his corpse, and settled over him, devouring the remains slowly. There would be nothing but red dust in the morning.

She withdrew back into heavy shadow, and crept back to The Oak. She was entirely satiated, her body swollen and pregnant with the life she had claimed as hers. The Earth around The Oak opened up to her, peeling itself back with a welcoming warmth with which she could merge. She sank down into it, its vines twisting and entwined with hers, a protective web crawling over her heavy belly. The Earth closed itself around her, and  drifted into a deep torpor, as they both fed on what she had taken.

Her red flowers slowly poked up out of the Earth, and swirled with their jagged petals in the night. Only when they began to fade would she rip through the Earth and feed again.

The Gory Hole

This was written as part of a writing challenge on another website, but since it’s horror, I’m posting it here too. 

Three lads. Early twenties. All perpetually horny and testosterone fuelled.

One text message, so easily led.

A Whatsapp group several seconds later.

“I just got a text from Mike saying the weirdest shit.”
“Yeah me too.”
“WTF i just got one!”

Various screenshots loaded in the chat, proving the same message thrice over.

Rumours of a gory hole in the old abandoned library toilets. gonna drive over if you’re coming, my place at 10-ish.

As you might imagine, the three assumed he meant glory hole, and didn’t have to be asked twice. Each one made their way to their mutual friend’s place, but when they got there, it was dark and nobody was to be found.

“Fucking wanker. He’s full of shit, it’s a wind-up”, Jack blurted out.
Noah just stood there looking dejected.
“Fuck it, let’s just walk to the library anyway, it’s not far”, Liam said, dropping his most recent rollup on the ground and stubbing it out with his boot.

It was raining lightly, and nobody had prepared for rain so their shirts and hoodies got damp pretty quickly, but they weren’t letting wet weather ruin the potential for getting a no strings blow job, plus they wanted to see what kind of other people might turn up. They were absolutely going to take photos and clips and upload them to facebook in an effort to shame any freaks they found.

These boys were not the smartest, especially when they were thinking with their testicles.

The library was on the other side of town, zero lighting and heavily dilapidated. The architecture was something out of the seventies, and the old decor was never updated. The glass doors were shattered and buckled, and the once bright orange foam filled seating inside was now ripped apart and covered in mould and dust. The bookcases had been dismantled in parts, and tipped over in others. They had to use the light from their phones to see where they were going, lest they walked into a fallen case or a broken beam. Any beams that had fallen were rusted and sharp in places, so they had to take care to avoid injury.

Noah was mashing a text message into his phone back to Mike, who was the original sender, telling him he was a fucking bell-end for the wind up and could fuck off. He didn’t get a response right away.

The lads were climbing over piles of abandoned books, their phone lights waving about in the darkness, and curtains of dust flying up the further they went in. A lot of coughing and sneezing happened, but nobody seemed to realise that aside from the noise they were making, the place was deathly silent for somewhere that supposedly held a glory hole in the depths of the basement toilets. They hadn’t noticed in the dark that there were no other footprints in the dust, no new pathways made by scattering those old dishevelled books, and no signs of anyone else being in the building for a very long time.

The reached the stairway, the large brown double doors held open by old bricks. Jack shined his phone light down to reveal they would have to go down three flights to reach the toilets. They weren’t even talking to one another at that point, they just scuffled down the steps, knocking any fallen books or debris out of their way.

Noah’s phone beeped loudly which made them all jump slightly and Liam swear under his breath. Mike had finally responded to his jabs, and said he didn’t know what the fuck he was talking about. He wasn’t at home, but he was in the middle of nowhere with his girlfriend and hasn’t sent any texts to anyone because he couldn’t keep a decent signal.

Noah shrugged it off as part of the wind-up and called him a fucking wanker out loud, and didn’t bother to respond.

They were finally down in the basement. The toilets were behind two huge grubby double doors, much like the ones at the top of the stairs but these were heavier and were painted a dark green colour. They had been damaged by folks using keys to scratch their names and various pieces of lewd commentary on them, and people using marker pens to sign their names as is tradition on entry to a public access toilet.

The two handles in the middle were held shut by a heavy chain, that upon inspection looked untouched for a very long time.

“Fucking Mike”, Noah spat. “It’s all been a fucking wind-up to get us in here, he was taking the piss. There’s nobody here, it’s a waste of time.”

The heavy chain unravelled and fell to the floor with a horrific clanging slam that echoed off the walls, sending fresh dust crumbling from the tiled ceiling. Jack covered his nose and mouth and coughed into the sleeve of his hoodie. A singular light flashed through the glass of the now unchained doors, and a faint giggle rang out from behind them.

“There’s someone in there!” Liam said excitedly, barreling through the doors with his full weight. The other two followed suit, but Noah was a little less enthusiastic. He knew something wasn’t right about this, but his boner cancelled out a lot of the apprehension and he carried on anyway. The same light that flashed through the window was jiggling about in the toilet cubicle right at the end. The door to the cubicle next to it was wide open, and the boys hurried over, ignoring their surroundings that if they had paid close attention to, they would have run out of there faster than they went in, but it was dark and all they could focus on was getting to the feminine giggling and flashing light.

It didn’t matter that nobody else was there.
It didn’t matter that the heavy double doors closed slowly behind them, and that the chains snaked up and coiled themselves around the metal handles, locking shut.
It didn’t matter that they’d missed the dessicated corpses in the dark corners of the toilet, piled up in the other cubicles out of sight behind their locked doors.
It didn’t matter that it wasn’t actually Mike that had sent the message.

A strangely soft light illuminated the cubicle, and compelled the boys to enter. It seemed larger somehow, that all of them would be able to go inside with no issues, when in reality a single cubicle would barely hold an adult and a child. They moved in slowly, silently but completely of their own accord. The same soft light above them also shone through a hole in the cubicle wall, and the softest of whispers and giggles wafted through it.

“I’m hungry”, it said. “I’m SO hungry and I’ve been alone here all night with nobody to play with. Play with me.”

The soft giggling turned into a more sinister cackle, and suddenly multiple whispers crept out around them, filled with harsh edges and sharp tongues. The voice turned into a wall rattling roar, an angry snarling brimming with hatred and ravenous hunger.

“PLAY WITH ME”, It demanded, turning into a shriek that made the boys cover their ears in terror.

They all tried to fight their way out of the cubicle yelling for help, but nobody was listening. The door was solid and no amount of battering it would open it. Jack was the first to be taken. He was grabbed and flattened against the side with the hole, and his clothes ripped and shredded, flying away from his body leaving him naked. He started to scream as the whispers around them grew louder, and stabbed at his skin, flaying him until he was a mass of dripping muscle and sinew. When his ability to scream was suppressed, all he could manage was a dull rasping noise as his organs were ripped from his skeleton, his eyes exploding with the pressure. He was consumed, sucked through the hole in the cubicle wall, whilst the whispers grew louder and groaned in satisfaction. His skinless bones collapsed to the floor just as Liam was pinned on the other side, his clothes tearing from his body, his phone flying out of his hand and smashing against the floor. Noah watched in wide eyed horror as his best friend’s flesh was ripped from him and whirled through the air and into the gaping maw that was significantly wider.

He tried to dial for help, but his phone was yanked away and flew down into the toilet bowl with a loud clatter, smashed to float in the water. The fingers on both of his hands were wrenched open from his palms, and broke simultaneously in wrong directions, leaving them looking like they’d been through a grinder. His screams previously high pitched, turned hoarse as an unseen grip circled itself around his throat. The last thing he saw was the slippery mess of Liam’s defleshed skeleton hunched over on the floor, as his own eyes exploded from the pressure of the hand around his throat.

Everything went dark. The pressure in his head was relentless, and then suddenly there was nothing as it exploded in much the same way a ketchup sachet would if you squeezed it hard enough.

Nobody was there to see the flesh rend from his body, or witness the pools of blood seeping across the cubicle floor, only to be sucked up through the hole in the wall. Nobody saw the harsh whispers suck the marrow out of their bones, or the way their sharp tongues licked the blood from them. Nobody was there to watch them dessicate and age, and crumble into the corner, dead to the world.
The library had closed down many years ago, before the boys had even been born. It was afflicted with a high staff turnover, dangerous conditions on the lower floors, and increasing levels of staff illness. People were often seen leaving the town as it seemed grim and miserable with no real prospects for anyone. The truth is that nobody ever left the area, and the staff were still very much there. It’s just they were piles of rotten old bones and forgotten memories.

OAK

She was broken with shame in a way that was irreparable.

Wandering into the woodlands over the moors near home, she found a gigantic Oak tree set deep in the Earth, surrounded by thick moss that hadn’t felt human touch for a long time. The air was thick and heavy with the scent of it, and her bare feet sank and left imprints in the soft green. She clawed her way through, ripping huge clomps away, upsetting the life underneath; worms and beetles flew as she clawed deeper, her fingernails filled with dirt that felt strangely warm for such a cold place. She didn’t want to feel anything anymore.

The Earth grew warmer and seemed to pull itself apart to let her in, almost as if it knew she felt such profound loss that it didn’t want to make this harder. She found a root that uncoiled slightly, and put her hand through it, feeling it tighten around her wrist but not so it hurt. The Earth opened a little more, sinking and rising softly as it breathed. She closed her eyes and slowly one by one, heavier roots reached out and coiled around her arms, around her body and finally around her thighs. She didn’t have to dig anymore, the Oak pulled her down into the warm soil, and closed around her like she was back in the womb.

The Earth above her settled again, worms and beetles as they were, the moss unbroken and untrodden.

Her eyes were the first to go. Tiny shoots from the roots that coiled around her wound themselves through her flesh. Her hair twisted into the ground, and held her head in place as the Oak took her. Two sharp branches shot through her eyes, piercing them until they found their way through her ears. Blood trickled from the jellied mess that used to be her eyes, and she screamed soundlessly as her mouth filled with soil.

Hundreds of barbarous shoots bore through her skin and into her bones, her entire body burning with pain. It had changed much in the last week, she was paler then usual, her frame felt weaker, merely something for her skin to hang from which felt heavy and oversized. She had been reduced to a barely breathing husk. The shoots settled into her body and left intricate twine on the surface of her skin.

The roots pulled huge armfuls of mossy Earth to pack her deeply into the ground, and wrapped themselves around her like a Mother would for a sick child.

The Oak drank her slowly, draining the life from her organs, the blood from her veins and the life from her skin. It took her heart next, gnarled and ruined as it was, hollowing it out before filling its shell with a viscous sap. One by one, it changed the configuration of her organs into a myriad of vines, moss, and worts, her skin replaced with a canvas of soft bark that would release spores as she ripened. Her hair twisted and coiled into hundreds of thin vines tipped with tiny red flowers that would burn to the touch.

The verdant moss and Oak grew slowly richer as they fed on her; she stayed buried there down in the warm Earth, nourishing it until she was dead to the world.

Whatever surfaced later wouldn’t come for a very long time.