The Hungry Things Between

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
Let's take a walk in the woods...

Submitted: April 14, 2010

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Submitted: April 14, 2010



There is a void full of old and forgotten things. In it there are glens and gullies and wimpling streams and trunks twisted grey and dying and skinned with chafing armor like dragon scales. In it there are mossy clefts where hiding things skitter and call. In it there are lumbering and savage giants. And these watch over all the little parts of it…

* * *

It’s nearly half a waking day in the blind before the first of them makes itself known. It sounds like popping corn, the bulk of its weight snapping small branches scattered aground during last week’s early season storm after the sticking heft of the wet snow proved too much for the aging pines that held it. Something like a muffled grunt comes next. Lem slowly takes aside the old pair of Bushnells he keeps strung to a frayed piece of bailing twine hanging just inside the blind’s westward facing window and glasses the commotion. He can make out little more than the parallel tree line, that and some scattered brush and debris and some occasional patches of snow that linger unmelted in the shade of the remaining forest canopy. He would normally just use the scope on his .270 for such a task, but Lem knows from unfortunate experience that the reflective finish on his rifle can be spotted from a distance and has a tendency to spook more anxious game. He’s about to set the binoculars aside when he notices movement.

It appears like a black smudge on the tangled undergrowth and sways gently right to left as it slowly nudges its way into the thick. The bear doesn’t seem to have any particular goal, save for a little rummaging through the empty blackberry patches nearby. Lem observes cautiously as it pushes its nose flush against the ground surrounding the base of each bush, occasionally using its sizable paws to dig shallow ruts in what seems to be a failing search for food. He can tell that it’s a mature animal, its size alone indicating more than just a few years as a successful forager.

Proximity to these same berry patches is the key reason he and Robert chose this particular hotspot for their camouflaged stand. It’s nearly the end of October and most of the area’s wildlife will be in pursuit of some last precious morsels before the full brunt of winter. White tails, rabbits, and game birds like turkey or pheasant are all notable targets for any hunter and find the natural sweets to be almost irresistible. Black bears are no exception. And regardless of popular opinion, a good outdoorsman understands that scavengers don’t just fall asleep for months on end when the weather gets cold. They’ll frequent this area with a near mechanical sense of timing as long as their efforts are fruitful, despite any conditions or temperature.

Of course, they aren’t the only ones raiding the woods this time of year. And in that spirit, Lem picks up his rifle. The weight of it is comfortable against his shoulder. He chambered a round earlier in the day and now carefully thumbs the safety forward while scoping his target. He tries to slow his breathing and eases his index finger inside the trigger guard. The image in the sight bobs ever so slightly up and back down every time Lem draws breath and he begins counting the seconds between each respiration.

Inhale. Seven count. The bear stops its rutting and stands motionless. Has it caught sight of something? The sun is a couple hours from setting and perches at a perilous angle to his now exposed rifle. The bear’s shoulders draw low to the ground and its hind end stops its casual swaying and goes rigid.

Exhale. When Lem reaches five, a lesson from his father comes to mind. He can’t help a little smile.

Squeeze, boy. Don’t pull.

He squeezes. The shot roars like canon fire in the confines of the small blind. He wishes almost immediately that he’d worn earplugs like at the range, but just as quickly dismisses the idea as foolish. A deeply set and high pitched ringing, almost a buzzing, temporarily robs him of his hearing. He knows it will pass and takes to scanning his target in hope of a clean kill.

It isn’t.

The bear is struggling to stand on all fours, a spill of blood opened up on its flank and darkening the ground beneath. It fails time and again to gain its footing, always slumping forward as if its head and shoulders have suddenly taken on a terrible, burdensome weight. In little time, the bear lays motionless but breathing on its side.

To say that he approaches cautiously is a bit of an understatement. The thing has to outweigh him by at least a hundred and twenty five pounds and is all the more dangerous for being wounded. Lem has no intention of dragging himself out of these woods with his bowels neatly tucked between his hands and his new insulated jacket for failing to respect an injured predator. No, the only thing being dragged out of the woods today is Smokey’s less fortunate cousin here, and come high water it’s going to stay that way. Now advancing at ground level, he’s lost sight of the bear but hears something like labored breathing the further he walks in its direction. It’s a wet and shallow hiss that indicates a possible lung puncture.

What comes next startles Lem almost beyond words. His own breath catches in a hitch and his heart palpitates with a sickening slosh. The numbing sensation of panic runs up his arms, starting at his fingertips and ending at the base of where his neck joins his spine. He isn’t hearing it right. He can’t be hearing it right. He was sure. If there’s only one thing a hunter worth salt knows for certain before firing that shot, it’s exactly and unerringly what they’re shooting at. He saw the bear clearly and didn’t hesitate to fire. And he would have hesitated if there had been even the slightest doubt. For Christ’s sake, he’d seen it lying there! Watched as it grew too weak to stand or even turn over. What he’s listening to isn’t real. It can't possibly be real.

The bear is singing.

Lem doesn’t yet realize it, but he’s stopped moving forward and now does his best statue imitation less than fifty feet from the fallen creature. The bear has collapsed near, or maybe even atop, some of the freshly dredged furrows behind the thicket and he’s still unable to make it out at this vantage. He listens intently to the hushed verse. What sounds like language is being used, but he can’t understand it. Is it some kind of fluke death rattle? A trick of the ears? Fucking pig latin!? Suddenly, it doesn’t really matter.

With a sigh of considerable effort, the singing cuts off and the wounded bear emerges from the growth. He can see that the small entry point where the bullet punched through its side has stopped bleeding and has matted into a stiff and glossy clot. It sniffs at the damage before fixing its attention on the now wide-eyed hunter. Lem’s legs are stretched rubber. He keeps himself from turning and sprinting back to the blind, worried that the ground’s slight downward slope might give the bear some momentum in its inevitable pursuit. Flashes of dismemberment pop into his head. The rifle he’s carrying now feels heavy and unwieldy and he’s reasonably sure that he can’t draw proper aim and fire in the time it will take the bear to reach him.

He speaks aloud for the first time in nearly eight hours.


His mind races. Distance, foot speed, ground condition, even the potential striking power of his rifle’s sturdy walnut stock start forming a rough equation in his head. The state of the bear is the x factor and he knows it. There’s no real way to judge its condition at this point and even the slightest underestimation of its ability could prove fatal. Better to hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

Another dad lesson.

Lem doesn’t smile this time. And before any decision can be made, it’s made for him.

Not a stone’s throw to his right, another bear pads out from behind a dense cluster of sumac. It’s smaller than the one Lem fired on, but looks no less intimidating for it. But it isn’t the size or demeanor of this new threat that has his attention.

It’s the eyes.

Lem has never seen such colors before. Anywhere. Each small orb undulates with alien shades of blue and gold. He gasps as the blues shift to freckles of molten orange and then to a shimmering gold before running into the white of the sclera like a broken egg yolk. Lem doesn’t notice as the newcomer continues to ease towards its injured, but seemingly improved, fellow scavenger. He can’t notice. Everything is lost in those eyes. They’re radiant, haunting, terrifying, bewitching. The trees surrounding him could grow legs and waltz and Lem wouldn’t suffer even a glance for fear of missing a second of the deep ethereal swirl staring back at him. The buzzing in his ears has returned. It pulses like an alarm with each step this new animal takes. His vision is fading. Everything in the peripheral swims in a halo of the same unnatural hues. He smells something like burned hair. It makes the inside of his nose and throat raw. He can see a clean blue light flowing like an undertow beneath the beasts. It’s one of the most beautiful things he has ever seen.

Lem pisses his pants and the world goes dark.

But not before something whispers strange and mysterious words.


* * *


“Lem.” Louder this time.

“Lem, do you hear me?” There’s an immediately recognizable note of concern in the question.

A sky blackened and starry flashes in and out of existence. Someone’s gripping his elbow and lightly tapping his chest. The grip tightens until an ache forms. His eyes open for more than just a split second and take in the figure bending over him and it’s familiar. Lem speaks in spite of the faulty circuit between his brain and his mouth.

“Head hurts.”

He rolls gingerly to his side and there’s dampness from the back of his head to his ankles. The chill of it has leeched to his core. The fuzziness is beginning to clear and he identifies his drive partner and close friend Robert kneeling beside him with a grimace like a pumpkin’s grin on Halloween. They began the day together, Lem stalking through the forest, breaking dead tree limbs and raising all kinds of hell trying to flush out bedded deer for his waiting pal and his waiting pal’s notoriously twitchy trigger finger. But as the late morning’s lack of success played out, Lem assumed sentry duty and Robert retreated to their camp to prepare a meal. Neither went well. Lem would soon learn that Robert almost burned down their bunk house reheating a pot of beef stew on an ancient cast-iron pipe stove while he lay unconscious until dark pickling in his own urine. But for now, standing upright and getting the hell out of here is the business at hand.

“Jesus Lem, are you hurt? Careful…”

Lem manages his feet, Robert supporting some of his weight by hooking his underarm like a crutch for stability. Surroundings spin as blood pressure drops. After a moment teetering on the edge of another black hole, his equilibrium returns and he’s able to stand unassisted. An unpleasant tingle like a small army of insects marches to his hands and feet as regular blood flow returns to them.

He feels a quick surge of anxiety when he realizes night has settled. The woods around them are an eerie silhouette backlit by a hazy half-moon. Sharp and crooked tree-tops frame the dim backdrop like gothic church spires and he shivers.

“What time is it?”

He knows instinctively that the answer will frighten him and he‘s had enough frightening for today. The pause before Robert’s forthcoming response does nothing to alleviate that feeling.


Anxiety justified. He’s been out for nearly three hours.

“Where are they?”

It was Robert’s turn to look confused.


Lem doesn’t bother a reply. He spots his rifle on the ground nearby and picks it up, inspecting the bolt and breach for dirt or any other obstructions that might affect its usefulness. Everything looks clear.

“We have to go.”

* * *

They pull up to the ramshackle bunk house not twenty minutes later, Robert’s ATV running rough and coughing oil smoke but seemingly no worse for its many years of wear. Lem is the first off. He hits the ground running and meets the front door before the vehicle and its driver come to a full stop. He’s intent on telling Rob the entire freakish thing and spent most of the noisy ride back mentally outlining what’s sure to eventually become an absurd story told to disbelieving friends over beers and poker that he’ll be ribbed about until the day he dies. But Rob will have to wait until they reach the truck and the truck reaches asphalt to hear it.

The not-so-old Dodge is parked in the turnaround at the end of a seasonal log road another half-mile south but its keys are hung inside. They’re just right of the heavy, slatted door, dangling from an eyelet on a hand-carved woodpecker that an ex-girlfriend gifted Lem one particularly drunken Christmas nearly ten years gone. The cartoonish bird is painted a now fading nuclear green, but aptly serves its one and only real purpose despite its unnatural garishness. With nearly zero light, the inside of the cabin is an inky veil, so he paws the wall blind until he has keys in hand. Back outside, Rob is bleating.

“You’ve gotta’ be kidding. We see nothing but clouds and squirrels and squirrel shaped clouds all goddamn day, and now they get nosy? That figures.”

Having secured the cabin door, Lem slows his hurried walk back to the idling four wheeler and traces his friend’s sightline until it reaches the shadowy likeness of a large buck positioned at the trail head leading south to the truck. It’s watching them from beneath the lowest overhang on a withering purple ash, the light from the ATV’s headlamp stopping just short of the curious brute. But it’s still bright enough to make out form and a wash of churning eyeshine.

“Lem, there’s something wrong with it. You see that?”

Lem shrinks back towards the door without thinking.

A breeze turns the cool night frosty and the few leaves so far untouched by autumn mutter of the warmer summer days behind them. Neither man gives sign of caring.

“Rob, get away from…”

Too late.

The bastard moves with impossible liquid quickness, completely shooting the gap between itself and Rob before Lem can finish the sentence. It gores Rob with serrated antlers, driving him to the ground with a meaty thud, and then gnashes at the now exposed and bleeding soft tissue surrounding his groin. Rob rips a cacophony of garbled profanity and has both his hands jammed inside the aggressor’s spiked rack. He looks to be trying to force its head away from his torn midriff, but he’s failing miserably. After what can’t be much more than a few seconds of surprised inaction, Lem springs.

He locks on to the horns like handlebars, wrenching the deer’s thrashing head backwards and to the side with a grim snap. It isn’t dead. Lem watches as it tries to raise itself off the ground; its lithe, muscular legs piston like hydraulic parts, not quite catching enough traction to propel itself up or forward, but far too hazardous to approach for closer inspection. He’s certain he’s hurt the attacker, but he wants to get Rob clear of the area and checked for serious injury before retrieving his gun and putting lead through it. Bullets will have to wait. This is more important.

Lem swallows bile when he gets a good look. Rob is flat on his back and mincing fingertips through a snarl of tattered skin and hair just below his waistline. He’s mumbling something that sounds like prayer-the name “Jesus” keeps coming up, at least-and his face is ashen. His pupils are drops of obsidian marble rimmed white and Lem knows it’s shock. He’ll have to get Rob inside before his body temperature slips, but he has at least twenty pounds on Lem, and the thought of hefting his bulkier friend and injuring him further because of it is daunting to say the least.

He walks over to where Rob’s head touches soil and bends with both knees.

“Rob, I need to move you inside. If I get you up, can you walk? I’ll help you.”

Rob’s response is nothing more than an almost indiscernible nod. Lem takes it as positive and slips both arms beneath him, lifting at the shoulders and hoping that Rob will keep pressure on the lacerations to his lower body without prompting.

There’s mewling. It reminds him of barn cats. Horny barn cats. The deer’s energy appears waning and it now just lies there, lips distending with sound. Whatever it’s trying to say in deer speak is probably insulting, so Lem chooses to ignore it for now. He’ll give the freak some proper attention when Rob is inside and comfortable. But until then, it can talk to the ether.

“It’s not much further. C’mon man, try and keep your feet under you. You’re getting heavy.” He tries for levity. Whether it’s out of playful warmth or plain old stress is debatable. “Your reservoir of bacon double cheeseburger memories isn’t helping, fat-ass.”

The coil of uneasiness wrapped like a constrictor snake around his chest loosens a bit when he hears something like “uck oo” grumbled in retort.

Lem trudges back to the bunk house in a crouch, bearing Rob’s weight like a rucksack. He can hear Rob’s feet slipping and dragging along behind them, only to patter rapidly when his grip loosens and falling becomes a real possibility. He’s struggling. They’re struggling. But they finally reach the rise beneath the cabin’s entryway and have only a couple more steps before there are walls between them and the crazy shit out here.

And then the singing starts.

The deer rests, its barreled diaphragm gently rising and falling with easy breath, the dirt around it cleaved with swooping marks and gashes like a sigil from its spasms just moments before. Nothing moves. But still it sings. Tender sounds like wordless chanting fill the air around it and nature listens. Rows of little creatures form atop broken wood and needle beds and hold audience beside those things big enough to hunt them. The shadows of dozens, perhaps hundreds, of birds circle lazily above, normally nesting at such an hour but now come together like debris in a funnel cloud.

The cabin, Lem, Rob, and a singing fuckin’ deer. All are centered in the eye of a looming storm. But instead of rain or thunder, it’s crashing trees that signal its beginning.


* * *

It’s nowhere near as long as half a waking day this time.

The heavier bear, once hobbled, but no more, explodes from the underbrush like a runaway truck, claws designed for traction and mauling rending slabs of earth from the forest floor while withered and rusty leaves dance windblown in its wake. Lem can make out what must be the second, smaller bear loping a semi-circle around the clearing, possibly intent on flanking them from the direction of the trail head, a pair of spinning blue pinholes cutting a spectral trail through the gloom and never once losing its bead. Lem considers his rifle, but knows better. There’s just no time to retrieve it. The larger bear is coming on strong and has already halved the distance between the cabin and the tree line. It gives no hint of slowing. He hopes Rob’s 30-30 is inside.

He drops his grip on Rob’s left arm and grabs up the lever on the old fashioned slide bolt that holds the door shut. He’s disgusted with himself for latching it in the first place. He should have known better, but it’s just old habit when departing for the truck. Stupid. During the off-season, a fat, keyed padlock meant for marine use keeps the lever in place. It’s designed for the elements, the lever and bolt are not. And even though he’s been telling himself for the past few days to douse it with WD-40, he procrastinated. Another old habit. The corroded mechanism squeals begrudgingly and lifts with far more resistance than he‘s expecting, slicing the webbing between his thumb and index finger to the knuckle. No matter. There are far more pressing issues at hand.

Like the now open door and the demonic locomotive behind them.

Steeled for pain, Lem launches himself and his moaning cargo through the breach like backs in a goal line stand. They land hard on the other side of the frame, Lem instantly kicking the door shut and bracing it with his feet, Rob crying out and rolling helplessly away into an unlit room. He bares his teeth and waits for the hit. It doesn’t come. He waits longer. Still nothing. He wonders if he’s quick enough to get up and fasten the inner bolt and decides to try.

Paydirt. Its still shiny brass pin slides home like a greased finger at a doctor’s office. He searches the dark frantically for anything big enough to brace the door and finds only the folding camp-table and chairs. With nothing but a hole for a doorknob, Lem wedges one end of the cheap resin table under the metal lock housing and the other in the narrow space between some warping floor boards. The chairs he just tosses against the makeshift barricade. It’s not much, but it’s better than nothing. Next is light. Besides a couple of scattered flashlights and candles, there’s an oil lantern hanging somewhere and he paces in a rough circle, arms flapping above his head like a six year old snatching fireflies for a zoo jar. A hand bangs against something hard and he grabs hold. He places the lantern on the floor and lifts the chimney stack an inch or two. In the other hand is the last lonely tenant from a convenience store matchbook that he keeps in his pants pocket for just such wick kindling. Phosphorus pops, flame follows. He brings it to the cotton braid and shadow devils prance about the room, exorcised from within the lamp’s glass walls by the touch of burning sulfur.

The cabin’s interior is nothing to write home about. There are two sagging cots, one cornered to the other at the opposite side of the room and with unmade sleeping bags bunched up where pillows should be. A wood stove sits in the corner adjacent, pipe and its flue jutting skyward and leaving just enough space on top for the occasional pot or pan. At first it’s shadow, but it doesn’t take long for Lem to deduce that the broad black smear on the walls behind the stove is from scorching and most definitely made by someone less skilled at homestead cookery. Any other day this would be an argument. Today it’s an afterthought.

That someone is sitting up and making a comeback. The questions start.

“Jesus Lem, did it really take a bite outta‘ me?”

\"It took a lotta’ bites. Speared you pretty good too. Think twice before you try and stand, you lost a lot of blood.\"

“It still out there?”

“Yes, and it has friends.” That reminds Lem of something and he asks a question of his own.

“Where’s your gun?”

“The 30-30?”

“No, the fifty cal you use for sniping airliners. Yes, the goddamn 30-30.”

Lem almost instantly regrets the snap and the callous nature of the exchange. He‘s genuinely concerned about his friend, the harm inflicted upon him is more than serious enough to warrant the worry, but deep down he knows that things are about to get much worse if he doesn’t act swiftly and with a certain detachment. But for the next couple of minutes he wants, no, he needs Rob to fully comprehend the aberrant nature of the situation they’re in and tells him of the things outside. Not animals. Things. When he’s finished he doesn‘t hear the disbelief in Rob‘s response that he‘s been expecting.

“Under my cot. Look under my cot.”

There’s ratty terrycloth folded up beneath the cot and Lem smells gun oil before he even has the chance to open it. Rob’s rifle is inside. It’s a lever action model and the breach is open. It’s been cleaned recently and stinks like benzene. He’s been begging Rob to switch to a more neutrally scented solvent for years, but now takes comfort in its acrid familiarity and thinks it’s funny how the little things keep you grounded. Next to it on the floor is a half-empty box of Remington shells and he loads six. When the first round is chambered, he slides one last shell into the magazine and steps toward the section of wall closest the obstructed door. Midway up is a window, the only window, and it’s more like a die-cut hole. It’s covered from the inside by a slightly bigger piece of hinged plywood and held shut by a cracked leather thong wrapped around the crook of a bent roofing nail. Careful to make as little noise as possible, Lem unfurls the strap and lets the hatch no bigger than a shoebox open, but only a crack. What he sees is unbelievable. It’s horror movie fodder. The stuff of campfires and marshmallows.

And it’s happening out front.

The deer-thing trembles violently as the bear-things flay its hide. The smaller of the two eagerly gnaws into the nape while the larger pulls savagely at its underbelly, together working one long robe of silverskin from front to back like experienced buffalo skinners bloodied and set for tanning. The sufferer bleats horribly as its ravaged coat gets torn free and tossed aside wet. Lem can see thick, matted fur beneath the gore remaining and it’s as black and glossy as an oil slick. Antlers remain fixed and dense. Maws crusted red with what could best be described as molt, the uncanny butchers stop their grisly work and look on as this freshly made variant hoists onto wobbly legs with all the trepidation of a spring foal. Early founders quickly give way to the cool assurance of instinct and it stands strong under the murky abyss of a witching sky, dead and dying stars winking overhead like so many polished baubles.

A closer look reveals something else. A patchwork of finely branded glyphs contrast the creature’s ebony pelt like cave paintings; each primitive rendering mingles into to the ones adjoining to form a kind of living, breathing, story quilt. Just above the belly, figures of what must be men are etched beside the likenesses of horned monstrosities and the men hold spears. Next to that is a fish. Next to the fish a devil with four arms and as many faces sits atop corpses like a throne. It holds a staff in one hand and the crescent moon in another. The entire representation shares a far too familiar and otherworldly glow. The rippling sheen of it flows like capillaries of moonlit water.

“Rob, you gotta’ see this. Get your ass over here.” Lem’s voice is quivering with barely controlled alarm and Rob must of heard it because he moves faster than Lem anticipated. The mess below Rob’s stomach is still just that, but he’s gaining. Even his color has returned and, despite the carnival sideshow outside, Lem allows himself a brief moment to hope. It doesn’t last long.

Rob reaches the window when something rams the reinforced door with heavyweight force. It buckles inward, a few of its slats snapping loudly, but doesn’t give. The table seems to be holding, but cracks like spider webs stand out against the material and Lem knows with a knot in his stomach that it won’t take too many more shots like that to break through completely. Behind them, something is scratching frantically at the back wall like a handsaw. He was so mesmerized by the black nightmare outside that he didn’t realize it now stands alone. The bears are back at work. Lem ever so briefly considers his plan of attack. Fuck it. His own instinct takes over and he does what comes naturally.

Gunshots drown out his screaming. The first two punch through the back wall like rain-soaked cardboard and something beyond it bawls. The next one he sends through the window in the direction of the newly coined Black Nightmare and it hits high, smack in the middle of what’s called a wither, and the creature reels wildly. He aims into the door and it strikes with a woody crack not unlike a baseball bat making hard contact, but fails to pass all the way through the heavier planks that make up the crippled barrier. Rob’s now yelling behind him, but he pays no heed and fires the last three rounds at the still staggering thing outside. Adrenaline is getting the better of him and his hands are shaking. Two shots vanish into the great nowhere, but the last shears tissue from one of its hind legs and leaves a draft of cherry mist behind. The atrocity stumbles again but seems less fazed than last time, as if bullets create antibodies and its immune system nurtures a growing tolerance of lead. The not-so-planned plan is falling well short and he’s empty. The bears intensify their assault on the cabin and it all goes wrong.

“Rob, shells! Toss me the box!” His hands are shaking so badly now that he can barely hold the rifle, let alone shoot it with accuracy. The sharp echo of splintering chokes the room and an earthquake of powerful blows jars settled dust from the rafters like ribbons.

“Jesus man, WHAT THE FUCK DO WE DO!?” Rob’s query falls on deaf ears and he searches for a box that’s right beside him. He‘ll never speak again. From the look on his face, he’d have a hard time finding the floor if he fell on it anyway, and Lem’s not doing much better. He‘s treading murk. Every step, every movement, every everything requires more focus than he’s capable of giving. He’s a drunken Neil Armstrong stepping down from the lander. He’s a claustrophobic Captain Nemo slogging the ocean floor. Everything since the Black Nightmare, hell, since the goddamn woods, is vapor and he sees the end marching like one of hell’s troopers straight through the enveloping fog of it with keen and luminous eyes meant only for him. It won’t be the abrupt pressure of heart disease or the slow peel of cancer that gets him. It’s going to be teeth and claws and the storybook fiends right outside that sport them.

This can’t be happening. None of this is real. And, no, it’s not the first time today that he’s considered such a thing, but it will definitely be the last. It has to be some kind of waking dream. Some kind of traumatic event of the brain. And in his hidden heart he believes with a zealot‘s fervor that he’s lying peacefully under a thousand years of living wood somewhere far from here, waiting to die with a gun in his hand and a friend warming stew back home.

He has to believe this when the door shatters like matchsticks. He has to believe this when the first of them through takes Rob. He has to believe this when the chewing starts. He has to believe this when a scarred nightmare whispers his name. He has to believe this.

* * *

There is a void full of old and forgotten things. In it there are glens and gullies and wimpling streams and the hungry things between. In it men are lost and monsters nourished. In it there are savage totems, made even as the world began, waiting with the wise patience of parlor spiders. And all the little parts of it chitter and hum without ceasing.

© Copyright 2018 Eric James Pray. All rights reserved.

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