Dying Moon

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic

Main character loses his sanity - or does he - and murders his familly.

The Dying Moon


Declan J Connaughton

*Short Listed 2nd round for 2011 Albedo One International Writing Competition


Richardson felt colder now, a definite caress of the grave, seeping from the wound in his chest and seeking out the destruction of  his lurching body, staggering along the after midnight street across pavements bathed in rain.

He stopped intermittently, catching his reflection in the pools by his feet, the face coloured orange and speckled black by the artificial hue cast by the public lighting from above, the spattered blood on his face and the pallor of his approaching death deceived by its phosphorous glow.  Continuing his fateful journey, passing street names that meant something at sometime, Richardson expected at any moment to meet another Homo sapiens, someone to mark his passage and comment in shock on it later, but there was no one.  Maybe some sleepless soul peered out through a curtain, a slight movement of fabric pulling across and then back just as quickly, but he didn’t see any evidence as his eyes looked up at the sleeping windows intent on ignoring him.

His body was beginning to wilt, arguing the time had come to sit down and fall over;  give in and rest eternally, but he didn’t want to die on the pavement, with rain pouring down on him like some  lonely down and out, prostate for all to see and point at with the advent of morning.  Maybe, in the scheme of things, he wouldn’t be found at all.His ears were attuned for the sound of screaming sirens.There was something far off, at the edge of the world, and then it was gone.  Richardson rested his hand on an anonymous wall, breathing heavily, trying to get his bearings.  There wasn’t that much pain, just a slight twinge, but he was bleeding in a way that guaranteed there could be no healing. He knew where he was now and it surprised him that he had covered so much ground – had been able to - had managed to leave so many footfalls behind him, which translated into several miles.  His mind was leading him, pushing his body away from the wall, like an aged sailor forcing his boat from the quay with a heavy oar.

His physical being didn’t want to obey, but first one step and then another until he found his ultimate destination to the old abandoned mill.  The building looked down on him from its vantage point overlooking the town, where the thing he thought had been his wife, had settled  with him a year after they married, and where the abomination had been conceived and drawn its first rancid breath.  Ultimately,  on this dark night of the soul, where both creatures now lay in death together, still complicit in his ruin even when their life force was spent.

The old gate rose up in front of him under the pretence of being locked, but he pulled the rusty chain down and off easily, pushing the Iron Gate open with strength now dissipating in crimson  down his legs.  The weeds spread their unyielding and selfish grasp around its base, overcoming it as was their right to reclaim all forgotten and discarded things.  Richardson could taste blood in his mouth,  spitting it out, letting the rain rinse his tongue and wash his teeth, getting the gate to move just enough so he could slip through.  A searing agony assaulted his chest and he had to cling to the cold and wet wrought iron for support, or else fall over; dying in a patch of dock leaves which were almost a mutation in their strangling size.  His vision blurred and he felt reality slipping away, fading, like a happy memory caught amid an unhappy life , then steadied himself again.

As his body redeemed itself for the time being, he was past the gate and into the yard, lurching under the obsolete inspection of giant steel stalks which had once held bulbs, where only wires now rotted, starved of electricity.  Through the gloom he could just make out the dilapidated, hunchback form of what had been the site office and reached out to it like a lost traveller who had finally found the way home.  The door had been kicked in by someone, perhaps equally seeking refuge, and Richardson pushed his hand against it, almost collapsing with the frame onto the grotty floor.  The interior smelt of damp and decay and heavy footfalls of grime and debris moved under his faithless feet.  He didn’t bother searching for a light switch, but was grateful for the ancient swivel chair which he could just perceive, sitting, bereft and contorted against a wall.  Easing into it, his distressed body released some of the tension inflicted on it several hours ago.  Hours?  Felt like years, as he listened to the incessant rain keeping up its discordant drum beat on the roof and on all that existed outside, dribbling through cracks in the walls where he now rested.  Closing his eyes, listening to his heart echo through his skull, there seemed less of a crisis to it now.  He rested his hand over where the knife had pierced him, from where his mortality was slowly being extinguished.

As his heavy eyes looked back through the gaping doorway, Richardson was travelling through time, focusing on the exact moment when he had come to the conclusion that both his wife and son were evil.  Entities……  things.

Childhood was something he was a hardened and committed atheist about. They had discussed it.  He had his work; no place in it for a family.  He had rescued one before, and paid too high a price.She knew how he felt - not the precise details – he had never shared  them,  but  maybe she could read his history when he dreamed  of his brother, her mind violating his secrets while he slept, in the days when he was still innocent of her true nature.

 It had happened anyway.  A definite plan, which he couldn’t deny, staring at the bottom of a bin liner one morning, after thinking he had thrown away cash by mistake.  He remembered just looking at the packet, with the dumb, stupid expression of someone who has just been slapped, and slapped hard.  Richardson had let the packet rest in his hand, touching it, turning the box over, and reading the words printed on the back, removing the tabs from the inside with a care as if he might become infected.  None had been used.

Agonising for days and then weeks, anger brimming just below the surface, wondering how to confront her.  Expecting she would come and confess; explain her reasons for trying to trap him, to control him.  After all, he was a reasonable man.  .  But the bitch, which was really a thing never had, and he knew why now, didn’t he?  Should have ended it there and then, he thought with a bitter and pathetic smile, bringing on a cough, which lathered more blood on his lips.

His mind moved on to the dreadful moment of conception, the night of a thousand cuts, only she had used her tongue to attack his body on that occasion.She wanted it, ; that look which twisted itself across her features that night - and at one time had made her very attractive to him - was now ugly and malignant, a garish parody of her human mask, a portrait which a madman who has seen the face of Lucifer might paint.  As she sat across his midriff, with that indescribable, revolting scent in the air, and between her thighs a darkness, a poisoned garden where the Aconitum might bloom, she had ridden him, raped him.  Strapped between her boiling thighs and held there, a prisoner, his seed the only way out.  He gave her the substance that she craved , no pleasure in its release,  anything not to look at her traitorous face, but seeing it anyway; the gleaming triumph in the eyes, reflecting an alien thing, a beast out of Lovecraft.  He prayed the seed would die as soon as it emerged, or somehow euthanize her. 

 Then she was pregnant, and his dreams from that moment on were plagued with taloned beings with vein lined wings and horns of flesh.

The change had started innocuously, just as he knew it would.  She had even brought outside influences to bear in trying to get him to change things, his raison d’etre.  He had resisted furiously at  first,  putting up a valiant fight, but, over time, they had all ground him down, arguing that he would have to give up what defined him, chipping away at his very core as a man,  and Richardson caught glimpses of what was lurking behind their human faces also.  They were all obscenities, making him scream inside.  He had let it happen, had succumbed, had somehow been eclipsed, but that was how they worked.  They wanted him in the background, out of the way, a rapidly fading presence no longer required.  Something with no will, not even a voice, subjugated and an embarrassment to both them and him.  Suicide could have been their idea; but Richardson maintained a straight face, not giving them the pleasure of a reaction, always with arms folded and always present in the room, whatever degree of discomfort he could cause a small act of rebellion, with hatred burning for him in their expressions.

A witness in the delivery room, surrounded by doctors and nurses, not to mention her whole demonic family, he looked at his illegitimate son and tried not to see what it really was, hating its appearance in the world.  It had smiled at him, laughed at his inner turmoil, mocked at his ambitions and dreams, a gum less horror. Both mother and son, surrounded by others who not only shared his guilt, but were willing participants, seemed to maintain an unspoken psychic collusion, communicating their joy and approval in the birth of another of their species.


He didn’t know whether he had passed off into the great unknown.  Images and thoughts augmented with scraps of voices came at him from every direction, but his eyes flickered open and he could see the full moon now, shining balefully down after the flood of the night.  The world was still in the realm of slumber, when only the destitute or a fox was wandering about, and worse……. he was still alive.


Mother and spawn had been sleeping when he drained that last drop of brandy from his glass.  He had acquired a particular taste for it since they had returned home from the hospital, especially on their first night back in the house, when she slept soundlessly beside him and gave him hope that she had just stopped breathing.

He felt something moving within her.  There was a rippling sensation and,  putting out his hand to feel her form, was instantly repulsed by the moving mound which wound its way up and down her spine like a xylophone.  Drawing in his breath, he carefully pushed the duvet back, watching her nightie rise and then fall under the writhing mass of the creature that she really was.  Needing to vomit, but afraid to wake her, he inched his way off the bed onto the floor, where he lay, chest heaving , sweat pouring, sure that a heart attack would bring a sudden and merciful end to his situation.  Then there was movement from the cot as his son kicked his legs and Richardson knew that both of them were in sync again, that psychic invisible conspiracy which kept him forever as the outsider, and that both of them knew what he knew.  He had stopped following her up to bed after that, staying up with his brandy and passing out on the couch, only to be afflicted by dreams which the drink could not anesthetize or obliteratere anymore. He was always in his place beside her when she woke in the morning, playing her little game.

He  held the child only once and that was enough. 

Underneath its skin had crawled like an energetic slug.  They had to die; simple as that, but he was equally sure the feeling was mutual, that he wouldn’t wake up one morning.  It was a way out, certainly, to just let them do whatever unspeakable horror they had envisaged to rid themselves  of his irritating existence, but pondering on it, his role in this nightmare had resulted from his inaction, in not being a man, in not denying her what she wanted, instead letting it be taken.


The name just appeared, was always with him….never really far away.

Richardson had done what was necessary then, and perhaps it was that memory which had stayed his hand until now.  History really did repeat itself.


Poor, sick Seamus - born with limbs twisted and  gnarled like a picture of a giant and hideous tree  from a frightening children’s fairytale book; whose brain was only half a brain, but whom he had loved with an intensity that had to come from somewhere outside himself….an emotion that shouldn’t have belonged to a child of his age. His brother had been born ill because Richardson’s father was ill; the boy had overheard his mother vent her spleen and blame it all on venereal disease and his father lying with whores.  She spat the words out at their father while he listened at the door, not seeing, but imagining her mouth in the grimace of a blood hungry Rottweiler.  His father was a sick bastard, she said. 

He  had left them soon after that, and Richardson watched him walk down the drive and into a waiting taxi,  but a voice came into his mind one night, telling the boy what he must do to get his parents back together again and to end his brothers’ life of torment.

He had pushed Seamus in the wheelchair all the way from their house to the field and river, where his brother would never play football or walk along the bank, making sure Seamus was all tucked up against the cold.  Seamus had smiled at him and Richardson cried and put his arms around the disabled boy.

“I love you, Seamus”, he raved, over and over again, before pushing him in, watching in sorrow as his tiny brothers’ face disappeared under the water, and for a moment thought he could see joy as Seamus and his wheelchair sank beneath its surface.

His brother was gone, free from all the agonies of living, of enduring and suffering.  It had been a simple labour of love to save the family. 

What a terrible accident, they all said.  Still, maybe it was kinder in the long run, was another comment.

And it had brought his parents back together for a while, even though his father eventually left for good two years later, and his mother dying from a broken neck after falling down the steps of a church when she had been too drunk to stand.


He reached for the bottle again, feeling the alcohol coursing through his blood, doing its work.

Rising unsteadily to his feet, almost tipping over, there was a curious calmness.  The rain had begun its assault on the living room window and, as he wandered from the room, he turned and looked at it one last time.  This was my family home; he thought sadly- a family of monsters.

Standing at the end of the stairs, he knew their minds would be as one, aware that he was coming and what he was compelled to do.  They would be waiting for him in the bedroom, maybe with her behind the door and the creature in the cot ready to spring at him and tear open his throat.  He tried to convince himself one last time to call it off for now, but there could be no further procrastination.  Richardson knew it was time, and was glad it was nearly over.

Weaving into the kitchen he removed the carving knife from the drawer, listening intently for any movement from above.  All he could hear was the rain.

 The implement felt very heavy in his hand, climbing the stairs and pausing on the landing before opening the door to the bedroom.  She wasn’t hiding behind the door, but lay motionless in a state of apparent sleep.  Looking down at her, he remembered when they had first met and wondered how she had concealed the hideous truth all this time.  It was his gullibility that she went for and Richardson refused to blame himself for that.  That was the type of guy he was – trusting.  At this moment, she looked so human and helpless that it almost caused him to doubt, and he stared, disbelievingly at the stainless steel weapon in his hand and wondered, in the split second before she opened her eyes in shock, what he was doing, standing in his bedroom with a knife in his hand, where both his wife and child slept in the safety of their own home.

She seemed to lunge at him  and he reacted swiftly, stabbing at the abomination, feeling the blade go in.  The flesh was tender, and after ramming at the creature several times he watched it fall, defeated, off the bed onto the floor with a loud thump.  Richardson’s hands and face were wet with its loathsome blood and he sat over it for a moment, breathless, dropping the instrument of its destruction beside it.  All was silent from the cot, but he was sure that at any moment a thing would rise up and attach its snarling teeth to his face, chewing into him, smothering him.  More minutes disappeared and nothing happened. 

Forcing his body upright, stepping over the mutilated heap which had been his wife, he looked down where the little form which could have been mistaken for a baby lay.  He wanted it to attack him, to try and tear his face off,  to justify his act of killing it, but the scream came from behind, and the wife thing had her hands on his shoulders, wheeling him around, plunging the knife into his chest.  He took the blow, removing the blade from his chest while holding her assassins hand still with the handle in it, gripping her throat with his free hand.

“Good, it’s good this way”, he said, now using both hands to squeeze, looking directly into her bulging eyes.

“Don’t hurt him, you bastard.  Don’t hurt my baby”, she croaked, and he took pleasure in watching it plead as he refused to give it back its breath. 

Back down the stairs again, he left the front door open for anyone to find the bodies, walking out into the night a free man.


Hiss breathing came in shallow gasps, now, and he couldn’t feel his arms or legs anymore.

The moon still cast its unfeeling gaze over the dramas being played out in the privacy of troubled homes and shattered lives.

Then death seduced his consciousness, and Richardson thought, as life passed from his body that the moon was dying with him.



Submitted: April 05, 2012

© Copyright 2020 Declan J Connaughton. All rights reserved.

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