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


Keziah Mason finally has his academic career on a smooth flight path. Then it happened. Keziah and those around him face a bloodcurdling intruder who has marked Kezzy as its host.


A Short Story

Nicholas Cochran


Keziah Mason was not a big baby, less than four pounds. When he celebrated his twenty-third birthday, he remained small. In fact, he was a puny little bugger. He was very short, with rust colored hair, black eyes, and  bore not much more than a semi-weekly fuzz on his face.

In addition, Keziah—Kezzy—was not strong. A n enormous older brother kept him alive throughout his grade and high school years. Fortunately, murders—even fist fights—are rare occurrences on most university campuses. Statistics favored Kezzy. Fate protected him from harm during his B.A. years, apart from his fraternity initiation ritual. The Brothers forced him to sit blindfolded on a huge chunk of ice and hosed him with icy water.

Grad school in Ancient History and Legend were physically uneventful. His chosen thesis, The Origin of the Exorcism Rituals, was well under way. His PhD was within sight—perhaps one more year. The committee had yet to set a date for the completion of his thesis and his oral session. Nonetheless, the physically undemanding academic life favorably positioned Keziah on a peaceful flight path to success. He considered himself twice blessed by his opportunity to muck about in such an unusual and enticing field of study.


I suppose it started with some sort of post-prandial murmur issuing from the general area of his poochy stomach. A week or so later, Kezzy suffered a series of three terrifying nightmares, with ghoulish images  and chilling cries attacking every ounce of stability in his essence. Only a moment of recollection of these ghastly phantasms paralyzed him with horror while his gorge filled with vomit. Within seconds, panic yanked the weak young man of barely five feet and a hundred and ten pounds into an irreversible tumble toward the abyss of unconsciousness.

The first stinging hints of impending assault by these shocking panics, drove terror into his heart. First, he sat, but almost immediately lay down while the combination of dizziness and near retching pushed back against icy fear. Slowly, these malignant horrors oozed into some ghastly pit of hell from which they escaped. Keziah instantly concluded these afflictions slipped the bonds of the Stygian pit roiling beneath the sewer-cover of his subconscious.

Happily for Kezzy, he passed a pleasant unremarkable month. This refreshing time served to liberate and exhilarate him while he journeyed along the challenging byways of academia. They set a date for his Doctoral Oral Examination; a female Professor of some renown winked at him in the cafeteria; a janitor, approximately Kezzy’s height, chatted him up about some bizarre bones his grandmother found in a tar pit behind her cottage; his bigger, older, and stronger brother dropped by to check up on him, and took him out for some fresh eel.


A week following his brother’s return to Titusburg to take his position as a Vector Man---a rat killer---three towering figures dressed entirely in black jumped. Kezzy. One held him while another hit him with quick vicious blows. The third ripped off his watch, yanked out his wallet, and grabbed the large file bag Kezzy dropped when the first mugger grabbed him.

This assault erupted on the darkest point of Wingate Walk, a favored paved pathway through the heart of the university grounds, winding a couple of hundred feet from the Porters Lodge of All Akeley College.

Kezzy immediately knew he hurt too much to be frightened, uttering only a hope they would spare his life. The faint murmur of a nascent existent slipped out from his battered stomach. Then he felt his bruised shoulders drooping when he understood they were about to take his file bag holding not only the major books on his doctoral subject but also his completed thesis. Though Keziah Mason was short and weak, he was anything but a coward. He uttered inward words of brutal revenge with such vehemence, he surprised himself.

A senior from St. Peaslee’s College, a member of the university football team, and an ROTC SEAL in training, was running intervals at lightning speeds along the Walk, and saved Kezzy’s life. To all intents and purposes, he shortened—if not ended—the lives of the three attackers.

Jim—James Typer—put Kezzy over his right shoulder and ran (only three seconds off his quickest two hundred meter interval run of the night) to St. Nate’s Infirmary, where he was a frequent (and warmly welcomed) patient. (His recovery times were off the charts.)

Jim deposited Kezzy on an operating table, where he helped tear off Kezzy’s clothes to clear the workspace for the night nurse and the doctor. Jim sprinted another interval or two back to the scene of the assault, where he found only torn bits of clothing, a few teeth, part of an ear, and many traces of blood. Unfortunately, all this carnage detritus gave him no clues as to the direction of escape the assailants used. Following a short pause to listen for sounds of retreat, he turned and intervaled back to the infirmary to check on the patient.

A few transfusions, bandages, and a yard of stitches upped Kezzy’s wellbeing. They reinforced his recovery with a few shots of hot tea, honey, and rum. Despite looking and feeling much better, Kezzy was not well enough to return to his room at Miskatonic College.

When Jim returned to look in on Kezzy, the doctor and nurse instantly grabbed his arms with death grips of surprising strength. Ignoring Jim’s request to speak one at a time, both, in goggled-eyed panic, shouted over each other, attempting to tell Jim something they heard. Their unintelligible garble—intertwined with shouts of confusion and fear—stumbled out of their quivering mouths in perplexed bundles of gibberish.

Jim finally tore their hands from him and pushed them to arms length. He gently shook each one, while he asked them in soothing tones what it was  they were telling him; and what, if anything, they wanted him to do. “And one at a time, please!” They simultaneously gulped, somewhat debugged their eyes, and apologized before Dexter nodded toward Denise to begin.

What they told Jim was wrapped in a riddle of fear and somewhat jumbled. Knifing through all the entangling mess of jabber, Jim thought they were asking him if he heard it. “Heard what?” said Jim. Well, that was just it. Dexter Dunwich, the young cadaver-colored doctor with the rimless glasses and big ears asked Jim: “Did you hear whatever it is in his stomach?”

Jim’s reply was a sincere blank look. He turned to the very attractive brunette nurse of twenty something with the bulging blue eyes and blanched complexion. A wreath of stunned dread hung about the persona of Denise Dovecraft. Placing a soothing hand on her forearm, Jim mustered up his seducing tone and asked her, in a measured timbre, just what the hell the dazed Dexter was babbling about. “Really,” Jim asked as he paused and questioned her eyes for her name.


“Denise; what the hell is he actually asking me—and what’s your version of this . . . this ‘happening’, this . . .  whatever?”

Denise Dovecraft, cutting a fine figure in white, trembled her full lips in what could easily have resulted in the most erotic kiss ever endowed upon James Typer. Instead, she barely managed to squeak out the question, “Did you hear the sound of a . . . well, like a person’s; like a voice; like something’s voice . . .  while you were carrying him here?” Jim inhaled deeply in preparation for delivering a booming laugh, when two things happened.

The first thing embodied a low growling that seemed to be rumbling from the area of Keziah Mason’s room. The second occurrence was the immediate appearance of fear on the faces of Dexter and Denise. Grotesque arrangements and distorted masks of utter terror captured all features of the two young medics.

Jim received, perceived, and acted in an instant. He streaked to Kezzy’s room where he sprang to his bedside. Kezzy was unconscious from the sedative Doctor Dunwich administered. His closed eyes showed no sign of any internal disturbance. His chest barely shifted the white covers while it rose and fell in a regular rhythm. The remainder of his body showed no sign of discomfort.

Following a nanosecond’s review of Kezzy’s form, he abruptly leaned over and placed his right ear directly upon Kezzy’s stomach.

Jim uttered a loud curse as he jumped backwards, almost clearing the doorway, and fell into the hall. By employing some trick of sound—perhaps an act of magic—or by some undiscovered power, a thing, a disembodied gnarl, followed Jim, as though the speaker was standing over his ringing ear. It roared:  “And you better find them—and kill them,” a pause of deathly quiet, “or I will!”

Jim struggled to his feet by grasping the door frame. He immediately propelled himself to Kezzy’s side, where he quickly placed his ear on Kezzy’s midsection. ‘Was that a noise; a low rumbling; perhaps a muted growling?’ He waited while Doctor Dunwich and Nurse Dovecraft hurried in. They crammed up beside him, their eyes tearing, their faces wobbling with fear of the unknown. Jim lingered. He listened. He leaned closer. He listened harder. He heard nothing.

Dexter and Denise straightened up. They forced gulps of sickening discomfort down their constricted throats while they fought to dispel their imaginings of the macabre.

 Softly, they turned expectant eyes to Jim, silently pleading for some report that would quell the creeping threads of deathly anxiety, which continued pushing them toward a fatal cliff of fear.

Jim, shook his head.“Jesus H. . . oh, excuse me . . what the f . .  frigging hell was that?” Neither could manage any words. They could only manage a stare at Jim, as though he was some latter day Messiah about to reveal the infinite mysteries of the universe. Or, at least, tell them  they weren’t going mad; assure them there were some peculiar sounds—almost like static; no, not simple static, but tones of static resembling a speech pattern, coming from the innards of their inert patient.

Dexter and Denise retreated to the reception room to hug and comfort each other. Dexter opened the desk drawer and lifted a bottle of Chivas Regal to his lips. Denise took three long swallows.

Jim smiled away his uneasiness, rolling his shoulders while inhaling and expelling large blocks of air. A few moments after shaking his hands and kicking out his feet to restore his agility, he prepared to leave. But not without one last listen at what they all imagined were the portals of hell. He eased across the linoleum to Kezzy’s side and lowered his right ear onto Kezzy’s stomach. Jim’s head gave a backward twitch but remained in place. He could scarcely hear any sound, but by focusing his entire essence on the translation of the alien gnarls, he soon heard: He’s mine. Thank you for saving us; but those three are after me and will be back unless you find them first and destroy them. Otherwise they will first kill Keziah and then me. Then they will conspire to catch you off guard; maybe asleep, and will send you to your grave.

There was a long pause. Jim started to remove his ear but stopped: And then you’ll be in my neck of the woods, where, of course, I can look out for you as best I can—until I can find a Keziah for you—you understand?

Jim whispered, “No; but I’ll think about it . . .  what you—or whatever you are—have said, and . . . I’ll, ah—I’ll get back to you.” He straightened up and turned to leave.


Some—up to half a mile away—said the raging blast of screeching woke them from a bottomless REM sleep. James Typer was rendered deaf. Doctor Dunwich ran from the infirmary to inhabit a psycho ward in Sarnath. Some saw Nurse Denise Dovecraft boarding the ship Alert bound for Sydney. She vanished.

James Typer was an amazing specimen, as he was occasionally known to remind certain vanquished, conquered, or deflowered women.  Although deaf, severely shaken, and suffering some unknown infection, he told the authorities that whatever it was inside Keziah Mason said: Get back to me?! Who do you think you’re dealing with you slimy little piss ant? You give me your word now! NOW ! Or you’re dead before dawn!”

Typer’s super-human conditioning barely willed his reflexes to mouth the word “okay”, while he was hurtling backward through the patient’s doorway.


Five years later, Jim still believes that his ‘okay’ is the only thing that’s keeping him alive today. Within a week of the attack on Keziah Mason, the authorities found small pieces of three savagely sliced and slashed corpses of some animal-like mammals spread over the Don Valley Ravine.

Doctors and anthropologists—and particularly, now-Professor Doctor Keziah Mason—undertook the business of finding and bonding every iota of the formerly-living ‘things’. When all twelve of them completed their challenge, they held a meeting, where they voted unanimously to place their findings in the most secure vault of the Vatican. The deeply disturbed dozen continue to decline—in truth, refuse—to mention any aspect of their scholarly transaction with anyone from anywhere at any time.


James Typer regained his hearing immediately after leaving a sumptuous dinner gathering put on by Dr. Keziah Mason and the faculty of his—the University’s—new wing, which housed the Center for the Study of Mankind. Dr. Mason settled upon this pretentious appellation after secret negotiations with an unnamed source.

Today, astonishingly, Dr. Keziah Mason has grown to a height of six feet three inches. He wholly attributes this stunning achievement over the past five years to a good diet, a heavy regimen of weight training, and cardio exercising that includes running intervals along Wingate Walk with Jim Typer.  Oh—and yes; the advice and counsel of a secret admirer.


Doctor Mason is now married to a woman with an uncanny resemblance to the vanished Denise Barry. From the time following his recovery to the present, Keziah Mason has never been denied any ambition, title, accolade or honor.

Occasionally, someone will say they were sure they heard three people talking in the Mason’s luxurious quarters, (added especially for his service to the College)—a woman and two men. None the less, no one has seen anyone else talking with Keziah and Denise on these occasions —ever. 


Submitted: January 18, 2016

© Copyright 2021 Nicholas Cochran. All rights reserved.

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