Blood, Sweat and Shears

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic


After the creature know as Follicle takes over the world, one desperate survivor is hunted by the thing which used to be his wife. First Draft. Looking for feedback.

Submitted: July 29, 2018

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Submitted: July 29, 2018

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She hunted him and the temptation to let it all end rose up just like it did every night for three months. Always being on the run. Always hiding from them. Full moons were the worst. The things were more active then, called by the moonlight to hunt and dance. He shifted his position, twirling the wedding ring on his left hand, trying to get comfortable on the boards in this tucked away sweaty crawlspace inside someone’s attic. He lay trying not to think about her smile, the way she looked at him when she woke up in his arms.

He knew if he remained quiet they would not find him. The hairballs did not have any special senses that he could tell, yet somehow, she always managed to track him. For three weeks, every time he stopped for food or shelter she would catch up and he would hear her. He found himself looking forward to it in a twisted way. He couldn’t accept that his Claire was gone, that only the thing remained.

From downstairs in this suburban house he heard the front door open, creaking wide like a gate of hell in some cheap gothic horror movie. He left the door unlocked deliberately. The things were smart enough to realize a locked door meant someone hiding out. He closed his eyes in the darkness, remaining as still as possible, straining his ears. Maybe this time it wouldn’t be her. Maybe I can vent my anger on one of the hairballs.

“Find him. Make him strand, no red wetness,” It was her, Claire, his wife. He could hear her in the high-pitched voice. That was the worst thing. That he could still hear her in there.

“Red wetness so tasty. Chase the food so fun. But not Edward. Make him strand.” The voice that said I love you a thousand times, that told him all her secret fears and dreams before the end of the world crept up on them and shattered their hopes of family.

He put his hands over his ears. No, this is torture. He didn’t want to hear her voice again. What makes her keep trying to find me? None of the other things he’d seen did that. They seemed happy to hunt anything and anyone, not caring who they killed, even their own children.

Yet she fixated on him.

I have to see her. He rolled over without making a sound, looking down into a living room bathed in the light of the full moon, hoping to catch a glimpse. He knew he wouldn’t see his beautiful Claire. Just the thing which took her over and wore her body like a coat, hidden beneath the long black oily hair. But still he wanted to look.

“Must find him. Make him strand. Be one with Follicle.” He heard and saw the shape creep forward into the light, pausing next to a white leather couch. The moonlight seemed absorbed into the long black hair that grew from her head. A black hole that contained only darkness and death. He watched as one grimy hand reached out from with the dark curtain to touch the white leather and saw the glint of gold on her ring finger. She stood still for a minute as he watched, sniffing like a dog until he saw several strands of her hair lift and turn like curious snakes.

“The dancing calls.”

He heard her feet thud on the wooden floor and she dashed from the house, the door slamming shut behind her as she went to join the other things. He closed his eyes as the tears flowed across his shaved skin and he clenched his jaw hard to keep from sobbing.

***

He waited in the darkness for what felt like hours before he took out the diary and flicked on his flash light. He found the picture of them on the last page and traced the seductive curve of her smile with his eyes before he looked at the words. He’d read them so many times he could recite them by heart. Yet there was something about looking at these words, the last words written by Claire, while she still existed, that demanded he touch them with his own fingers. Read every curved letter and word blurred by her tears.

Edward my love,

I can hear it in my head, trying to take me over. It’s so hungry and I am so tired. I feel like I can’t fight it any more, even though I want to, for you, for us. It wants me to do terrible things. Every time it wakes in my head I think of you. The first time we met in the park, our first kiss, the first time we made love. It seems to help but I know I can’t hold out much longer. We swore to each other we would never be parted. Two souls joined together forever, yet I am afraid. I’m afraid of what might happen when it wins.

I don’t want you to die. Just the thought of it tears me up inside. I’m trying to be brave. I know I need to die, I’ve thought about killing myself before it is too late. I’ve thought about asking you to do it for me. But I’m not brave enough, and I can’t bare even the imagined face I see in my mind if I asked you.

So, I’m leaving, now before it turns me completely. When you find this message don’t look for me, for I will be gone and I don’t want you to see what remains.

I love you now and forever and I hope we meet again in the next life.

Forever yours,

Claire

Underneath her neat handwriting were three words looking like they were written by a child.

See you soon.

Those words stoked his anger.

He switched off the light after one last glimpse at the tear-stained page. The words rolled around inside his head. One last I love you, etched on his heart. And the message from the thing in words that burned within him. Why her? God why her? Hers was the gentlest soul he’d ever met. She would never want to hurt anyone, but that’s what the things always did.

When the TV worked he’d seen footage of them in the cities. Vast armies of them laughing their insane cackle and running towards the troops, that black hair acting like shields. Uncaring if they were shot down or blown apart. Little particles of black hair floating in the air. The army realized it too late. Breathed in the hair, or let it touch their skin. Only fire worked to destroy the hair completely. The world fell apart so fast. He never thought it was so fragile.

Now the things didn’t face armies. Now they hunted the desperate survivors like himself. Hordes of them travelling wherever they wanted. Her last words rolled around in his head again. He could never kill her, but was the thing he saw downstairs still her? Do I owe it to her to end her suffering despite the risk? Despite her plea not to look for her, she keeps tracking me.

They liked to hide out in dark places during the day. The things were like cockroaches.

In the darkness he felt small and insignificant. A life without meaning or purpose in this crazy end of the world. Perhaps I can make my death mean something, if only I could get her alone.

* * *

That morning he tracked their lair. Their tracks were easy to spot if you knew what you were looking for. Strokes along the ground like brooms. The tracks led him to a local cinema near some restaurants. A perfect spot for them; big room, comfy chairs and no windows. And since he’d snuck up and wired the main doors shut, only one way out. If he couldn’t lure her out of the pack, he’d go in after her, use the fuel can and flare and burn the place down.

He adjusted his gas mask in the toilets trying to make as little noise as possible. Making sure his mask remained secure on his head. He applied a fresh layer of gaffer tape around his wrists and ankles, he didn’t need any exposed skin. If he killed her and got turned in the process…well, did he care? If that happened he’d try and take as many with him as he could. But he needed to know. He burned with the need to find out once and for all if his Claire remained inside the thing. He doubted the hairballs would expect a lone man to try and attack them. No one would be that suicidal.

He knew the things died just like people. Stab them, shoot them, they died like anyone else, they just didn’t seem to care. The tricky bit was getting through the hair to reach the body beneath. He‘d already packed what he needed for this last desperate attempt to reach her. A set of clothes he’d worn in case she did track him by scent. A rope, several knives, his flash light and spare batteries, a plastic jerry can half full of fuel and a road flare.

As he picked up his flash light he caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror and winced. No hair on his face or head, not even eyebrows. The gasmask hid his lower face, the skin on his head covered with black liquid latex and behind a pair of goggles, a set of blue eyes shone like dread lighthouses. He looked inhuman. A monster, ready to kill a different monster.

Within minutes he tiptoed down the short hallway to the emergency exit door, taking out the clothes from his pack. He positioned the fire door handle in his mind and turned off his flash light before edging a hand out and touching the metal, cold through his gloves. He placed his ear next to the door and listened. Hearing nothing inside but soft snoring he took a deep breath, feeling his heart hammer in his chest. With slow infinite care he opened the door an inch, pushing the edge of his shirt into the gap and backed off.

Placing his hand over the end of his flash light he turned it on, allowing enough of a tiny red glow to escape past his fingers and waited.

* * *

Maybe she knew he called for her. In the life before they were always connected, more than any couple he knew. Finishing each other’s sentences, turning to the doorway from which the other would enter. Knowing how the other felt. Perhaps she sensed his silent pleading for her to come to him.

When the door opened a few inches and the shirt lifted into the blackness he heard a whispered “Edward?” before she pushed the door open and stepped out. He let a little more light escape as he backed away and he saw the shadow of her head turn towards him. He was ready for a rush, but she took tiny steps towards him, matching his pace.

“Find you. Make you strand. No red wetness tasty.” She whispered from behind the dark hair.

“Claire? Are you in there?” He backed all the way down the emergency exit corridor until he felt the warm sunlight on his back. The jerry can and flare were hidden behind the corner, just two steps away.

“You find this strand,” Came the reply in a high childish voice that contained nothing of his sweet Claire, accompanied by a soft giggle, “You dance with Follicle?”

As the long black hair parted he saw the huge dark eyes, staring at him with naked hunger. “Claire. I want to talk to Claire. I know she’s in there.”

“Strand part of Follicle now. All part of Follicle. All over blue green roundness.”

“I need to know if she is in there. I have to know.” He said, putting away the flash light and taking out a knife.

The eyes shifted to the hand holding the sharp blade before they returned to his face, the ends of its hair twisting like medusa’s snakes. “You want to stab strand?” the thing asked in an unconcerned tone, “Why?

His hand shook. “I want to end her pain.”

What is pain?

Edward felt thrown by the question, by how utterly alien the things were. As he struggled to express himself, the thing took a step forward, looking up at him with no trace of fear, just that terrible hunger that pulled at him.

“Claire is gentle. You make her kill,” he said, “She is trapped inside you. I can feel her falling. Like her skin is gone and the wind makes her bleed. Let her go, please let her go.”

The thing stayed silent for a full minute, just watching him as his heartbeats played a dirge and his hands shook. “Strand thinks of you. Whispers in the dark. Annoying. Strand not quiet like all the others. Can’t let strand go. Don’t know how.”

“What if I cut off the hair? Shaved her head?”

The thing smiled, showing teeth before opening it’s mouth wide and black hairs slid out across her tongue like an eel before retreating. “Follicle inside strand forever. Strand be noisy. Says lonely. What is lonely?”

“Loneliness is a hunger.” He replied, “A connection to everything but without deeper meaning. Like walking through a city and seeing all the people and knowing that none of them know the real you. Just the you they see on the outside.”  

Follicle tilted its head to one side, dark eyes glistening with reflected sunlight. “Make you strand. Whisper to this strand in the darkness. Always together.”

He shook and the urge to let go took him completely. He dropped the knife before lifting his hand and taking off his gas mask. The thing licked its lips.

“Not you. Claire. Let her come out again. I know you can do that.”

The dark eyes changed, no longer looking at him as if he were a steak and he heard her voice again. “Eddie?”

Tears escaped as he nodded, “I cannot be without you,” He said, taking a knee and reminding himself of the day he proposed to her. “Whatever you’ve become, I have to be with you.”

“I've missed you so much it hurts.” She said stepping forward and taking his face in her hands, her hair moving to surround them both like a dark halo.

He closed his eyes as she leant forward and he felt the familiar touch of her lips on his. The memory of every kiss they ever shared flickered through his mind as he felt her mouth widen and the sensation of wet hair slide across his tongue. He forced himself not to bite down, to concentrate solely on her kiss, and not the thing inside her. Thinking that finally they could be reunited.

With a jerk the hair inside his mouth retreated and he felt her hair whip around his neck like a noose.

“No! Make him strand.” Claire’s voice sounded desperate as the crushing pressure increased and he scratched at his neck trying to loosen the hair and breathe.

“Cannot be turned. Is food.”

“No.” The hair around his neck loosened enough for him to get his fingertips underneath it and pull.

FOOD!”

“Nooooooo!”

With an immense heave the hair threw him away, and he struck the corner of the wall hard enough to hear something crack, landing on his back taking great gulps of air as his hand came down on the jerry can. He could see his Claire, face set in determination, inside a swirling black cloud, and from within the cinema heard the rest of the pack make that hyena laugh.

He rolled to his feet, knocking over the jerry can and gas flowed out towards her. He scooped up the flare.

Claire took a step into the liquid, her eyes pleading and he knew what he had to do. He popped the flare and stepped forward. He closed his eyes as the flames rose up around them and held her one last time.

Until the next life.


© Copyright 2018 Julian St Aubyn Green. All rights reserved.

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