My daughter was coming home from work and was daydreaming about the cars around her being sucked up into the sky. When she got home she asked me if I would write a story about it. Here it is!


On Skinned Knees



 Some called it the Rapture. From where Amanda sat, neither the dictionary definition of the word nor the Christian doctrine came close to being accurate descriptions. True, she didn’t see the expression on Janet’s face when her coworker’s 400-pound body was sucked upward into a two-foot by two-foot air conditioning vent, but she doubted the woman was feeling either pleasure or joy while her body collapsed in on itself and was minced by the metal grating. Amanda also felt strongly that any god who transported their believers into the heavens in such a manner was one she didn’t care to meet.

The two women were seated in the large cubicle they shared at Fulsom Insurance, discussing where to eat lunch and the cute new hire Stefano. In the blink of an eye Janet was pulled up to the ceiling and her rotund body stuffed through the vent like ground sausage. A full minute elapsed before the other coworkers around her registered the horror of what transpired, followed by panic and screams as a half dozen of them were sucked out of the building through the windows, their bodies hurtling skyward in the wake of glass shards.

Amanda sat rooted in horror, staring at the blood and gore spattered ceiling vent and broken windows. The room exploded in chaos, the remaining office workers scrambling to crawl under their desks or running around blindly, hoping to escape a similar fate. Police sirens sounded in the distance, and Amanda numbly walked to the windows and stared out into the streets. From her vantage point on the second floor, she saw dozens of vehicles being sucked into the sky along with bicyclists, joggers, and pedestrians. Men, women, small children, and babies were randomly vaulted into the morning sky at high velocity, disappearing into the blue expanse. Elliot, the office manager, was trying to instill a sense of order in the pandemonium surrounding him.

“Everyone, listen! The police have been notified and a unit is on the way, but this is happening all over the city, so it might take a while for them to get here. I ask that you return to your desks and continue working until they arrive to take our statements!”

No one paid him any heed. In fact, everyone but Amanda ran out of the building and headed for their cars, most likely to make sure their loved ones were safe.

Amanda jumped at the sound of a metallic bang, followed by a moist squelching sound. Janet’s skin, minus her clothing and everything else inside it had fallen from the vent to lay on the floor behind her like a pale, wrinkled onesie. Her bones and organs were missing, leaving behind an empty, intact skin leaking blood from a two-inch section of torn skin on the scalp.

Amanda took a step backward and leaned out the nearest shattered window, emptying the contents of her stomach. “No!” she moaned, wiping her mouth as the skies began to rain down empty automobiles, buses, and motorcycles on the city below. Fires and explosions erupted when the vehicles landed among the living, killing and injuring countless in their wake. When the last of the empty vehicles landed in piles of crumpled, twisted metal, the true terror began. A torrential downpour of empty skins fluttered to the earth, striking the ground with wet thuds.

Amanda ran to her computer and searched the newsfeed. It wasn’t just here, she realized, this was happening globally. And it sure as hell wasn’t the Rapture, anyone and everyone was fair game regardless of age, gender, religion, ethnicity, or location. Not every single person was targeted, however. It was random--one taken here, another there, and even large groups. The web was saturated with videos of people and vehicles being pulled heavenward. Multiple reports of jetliners being struck and downed by ascending vehicles and bodies filled her screen. Amanda briefly wondered how high they travelled. Were they smashing into satellites, or continuing out into deep space? And why? Who or what was causing it?

She grabbed her cell phone from her purse and dialed her parents. The call went straight to voicemail.

“Mom? Dad? Please call me back as soon as you get this, please let me know that you two are okay!” she sobbed, ending the call.

Elliot approached her desk, hands on hips. “I’m going to need you to stick around until the police get here; apparently I can’t depend on the rest of these people to do what’s necessary when the going gets a little tough!” Amanda stared at him, dumbfounded.

“Are you serious? Eat a bag of dicks, douchebag!” she flipped him the middle finger, grabbed her purse and brushed past him.

“You wait just a minute!” he snapped at her. Amanda whirled around, ready to lay into him, then froze, mouth agape. Elliot stood with one hand bunched into a fist, the other pointing at her. An angry scowl twisted his face, but it wasn’t Elliot who chilled her blood. Something was inside Janet’s skin, wearing it like an ill-fitting suit, and whatever it was now shambled across the floor toward them. Elliot sensed something was wrong and slowly looked back over his shoulder.

“Janet? Whew, glad you’re okay! At least I know you’ll stay with me to talk to the police when they get here, unlike the rest of these slackers! And put some clothes on for God’s sake, it’s not casual Friday yet!”

Shuffling wordlessly towards her boss, Janet’s arms reached toward Elliot, hand and forearm skin dangling limply. The thing inside it must have had shorter arms than Janet, if they were even arms. The deflated head skin hung down the back, a mock imitation of a hood, while the leg skins were bunched up around the ankles, looking for all the world like fleshy legwarmers. Amanda had seen enough. She pivoted and bolted for the exit without looking back, even when Elliot let out a bloodcurdling scream. Rummaging through her purse as she ran, she found the key fob for her car and sprinted across the parking lot to her Toyota Corolla. Once she was locked inside, Amanda started the engine and raced out onto the street, dialing her parents once again.

“C’mon you guys, pick up!” she yelled impatiently. Voicemail again. Amanda didn’t leave a message, instead she hammered the gas pedal and tore down the 192 at a reckless speed, weaving in and out of the automotive wreckage and fires, passing the wizard and mermaid facades on the tourist gift shops to her left and right.

Behind her, a Corvette flew into the air, and to her right, a school bus full of children and a Harley Davidson motorcycle were viciously wrenched from the highway into the sky. Six people at the bus stop along the road pinwheeled upward until she couldn’t see them anymore.

“Please, please, please, leave me alone, and let my parents be alright!” she whispered a silent prayer to the universe. More vehicles were vacuumed off the road, more pedestrians sucked up into the great beyond, followed by the empty cars and trucks plummeting down to the highway below. It took all of Amanda’s concentration and reflexes to dodge the wreckage, but she couldn’t completely avoid the empty skins and clothing that followed shortly thereafter. At one point it was necessary to reach out of her open window and drag a child-sized skin that blocked her vision off the windshield. Using the wipers had been a colossal mistake, serving only to smear the blood around before getting tangled up in the skin bag.

Every radio station covered the worldwide phenomenon of aerial abductions, asking “How long is this going to continue?” and “How many more will be taken?” There were no answers to how this would affect life for the survivors, assuming there were any. Nor could anyone explain the reanimated skins with curious two-inch gashes on their scalps. And why were they all naked? Janet’s wasn’t the only skin to be reoccupied according to the news. The media referred to them as ‘Skinwalkers.’ The empty skins which had fallen around the globe now roamed the streets, occupied by unknown entities. Scientists were baffled, postulating the beings occupying the skins and invading our planet were noncorporeal and of either extraterrestrial or interdimensional origin. Composed of pure energy, perhaps they required a host vessel to interact with our world, hence the need to harvest our skins. Religious leaders preaching whatever version of their End Times they believed called them God’s wrath upon humanity. The pious were urged to fall on our knees and repent, begging forgiveness so that we might be among those chosen to ascend into whatever heaven you believed in. Some thought they were the spirits of the dead, reclaiming their place among the living, or returning to drag us to Hell.

Amanda turned down Strahan Boulevard where her parents lived, thankful that the carnage didn’t seem as bad in their neighborhood. A few wrecked cars smoldered on the streets and in the yards, and one house was burning, but she was hopeful that her parents were untouched. What she had earlier mistaken for trash bags blowing down the street turned out to be dried human skins, tumbling with the wind through the neighborhood. A few dozen people milled about in small groups on their front lawns or walked slowly down the sidewalks. Ahead of her, a woman jogged along the bike path, pushing a baby stroller with one hand, while carrying a screaming toddler under her other arm. Correction--the woman was running at high speed, frequently looking over her shoulder as if she were being chased.

“Oh shit!” Realization dawned on Amanda. The ‘people’ walking or milling about were Skinwalkers! She stomped on the gas pedal intending to catch up to the woman and give her a ride, but as she approached, the stroller and screaming toddler were both wrenched into the sky. The mother gave a wail of despair, tearing at her hair while tears coursed down her face. Wild-eyed and grief-stricken, the woman threw herself in front of Amanda’s Toyota, thudding onto the hood and rolling over the top. Amanda screamed and braked hard. It had all happened so fast. Sobbing and shaking all over, she almost fell out of the car on wobbly legs. Tentatively, she took a step toward the lifeless body lying on the street. The sight of the broken body made her sick and guilt wracked her body, but there was nothing she could do for the woman now. In addition, she was standing in the middle of a neighborhood occupied by Skinwalkers, although none of them seemed to notice she was there. In what could only be described as a parody of life, the Skinwalkers shambled back and forth, stopping occasionally to touch whatever was in front of them, or conceivably in silent communication with each other. And whatever was inside the skins weren’t all the same shape or height. Human skins were not ‘one size fits all’, and excess arm, leg, torso, or head skin hung or dragged behind the majority of the Skinwalkers. This resulted in a lot of tripping, entangled limbs, and slow, shuffling gaits. None of them noticed the accident or cared enough to investigate it. They were busy doing their own thing, whatever that was.

So engrossed was she gawking at the scene around her, Amanda didn’t notice the Skinwalker who quietly approached her car and crawled in through the open door until she remembered her parents and snapped back into reality. The creature lay sprawled across the front seat and pawed at the dashboard buttons.

“It’s yours now, but I still have six payments left so good luck with that!” she said, throwing the keys on top of the Skinwalker and kicking the door shut. Her parents’ house was only a block away, but after running half the distance Amanda realized her cardio game needed a serious overhaul. The mailbox she leaned on to catch her breath also thought she could cut way back on carbs; the post it was attached to snapped, sending her sprawling to the ground.

“Gimme a break, I’m average weight for my height!” she snarled after kicking the broken mail receptacle. Feeling pacified, she jogged at a more manageable pace until she reached her parents’ front door.

“AAAARRRRGGGGHHHH!” she bellowed to no one in particular. “WHY DID I THROW MY GODDAMN KEYS BACK IN THE CAR?!” She took a deep breath and closed her eyes. “Get it together girl, there’s a spare house key around the back.” A large Skinwalker by the side of the house blocked her path, but Amanda’s level of patience was at zero.

“You’re about to find out what that mailbox felt like!” she growled. Lowering her head, she charged straight at it, clipping it with her shoulder and elbow. Usually, she reserved that move (although executed with a lot less gusto) for Brittany back at the office. Brittany always stole Amanda’s yogurts out of the breakroom refrigerator, so Amanda never missed an opportunity to body check her whenever they passed each other in the hall. The Skinwalker fell backward into a row of hedges without making a sound, and Amanda reached the back door without further incident. Fumbling above the door frame, she located the key, unlocked the door, and threw herself into the house.

“Mom! Dad! Where are you guys?” She went from room to room, but the house was empty. They weren’t hiding in the closets or under the bed either. She called for them until her voice was hoarse and tendrils of despair wrapped themselves around her heart and her brain.

“No--I know you’re here somewhere!” Silence was the only reply. Wait—it was Thursday, her parents usually went grocery shopping at Publix today! She could picture them at the register, pulling out a huge stack of coupons, completely oblivious to what was going on in the world. A weight was lifted from her shoulders until she saw their car keys hanging on the hook in the kitchen. Tears filled her eyes, but Amanda resolved to stay at their house in case they came home. She sat in the living room and turned on the television, watching the news while she waited. The global horror was intensifying; looting and rioting accompanied the mayhem inflicted by the Skinwalkers. Survivors began attacking the mobile skin suits, with negligible effect other than perforating and mangling the animated skins. Whatever occupied them seemed impervious to conventional weapons. There were no eyewitnesses reporting Skinwalker deaths, because when attacked, the creatures would emit a high-pitched keening which caused their aggressors to ascend into the sky at a rapid velocity.

Amanda turned off the television and lay on the couch. Despite the surreal cacophony of sirens, yelling, and booms in the distance she felt her eyelids grow heavy. The events of the day took their toll, lulling her to sleep.


Her body jackknifed off the couch at the deafening sound. The living room was engulfed in smoke, which thankfully cleared after a few minutes. Pushing herself up on her elbows, Amanda gasped. A pickup truck had fallen into the house, leaving a huge hole in the ceiling. The mangled chassis lay only a few feet from the sofa, engine still running. Three feet more to the left and I would be a pancake! The thought of pancakes made her giggle hysterically, shoulders and chest heaving with exertion. Brushing the hair from her face, she absently scratched her tender, itchy scalp. A few drops of blood stained her fingers. Oops-took a shot to the head from falling debris! She thought to herself, which made her giggle even more. Tangled in the grip of stress and mental exhaustion, the tiny amount of blood barely registered to Amanda. She regained her feet and was relieved to see that at least the truck didn’t belong to her parents. There was still hope that they would both saunter through the front door at any minute as if they didn’t have a care in the world, but deep-down Amanda was coming to grips with the thought that maybe they wouldn’t.

Hot tears wended their way down her cheeks, mingling with blood from her scalp to form a large pool at her feet. More blood than she cared to see.

I’ll grab some paper towels from the kitchen to staunch it. Head wounds always bleed a lot. Amanda took a step toward the kitchen and was relieved to see that the pool at her feet was a lot smaller than she had originally thought. She took another step, then reached out to brace herself against the wall. Vertigo washed over her, leaving Amanda dizzy and lightheaded. A lump formed in the pit of her stomach when she realized she couldn’t feel her feet. No, that wasn’t entirely correct; she couldn’t feel anything beneath her feet...


Submitted: September 21, 2022

© Copyright 2023 Zane Cray. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:



Great work Mr Cray

Wed, September 21st, 2022 5:34pm


Thank you!

Wed, September 21st, 2022 10:39am


You're welcome (-:

Wed, September 21st, 2022 5:38pm


I have a short story that you might like it's called the mountain woman and there's another one I have called the ears

Wed, September 21st, 2022 5:39pm


I will check them out!

Wed, September 21st, 2022 10:40am


Thank you!

Wed, September 21st, 2022 5:44pm


Wow! Awesome. I don't know how old your daughter is but I won't be sleeping tonight!!! This would make a great movie/mini-series.

Wed, September 21st, 2022 6:50pm


Thanks! She’s 23 :)

Wed, September 21st, 2022 12:02pm

Charles H. Hinton

Very interesting. Good work.

Sat, September 24th, 2022 9:54pm


Thank you!

Sat, September 24th, 2022 7:23pm

Sune Mans write

Loved the originality! Keep it coming.

Thu, March 2nd, 2023 1:08pm


Thank you!

Thu, March 2nd, 2023 7:21am

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