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Old 11-01-2017, 12:14 AM
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Byrus Byrus is offline
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Join Date: June 25, 2008
Location: Ireland
Age: 26
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Hey, so. I've been thinking about starting a writing thread here for a while, just to post short, spooky stories and stuff. I've been busy and kinda in a rut, but I figured maybe having a thread here might motivate me a bit to get writing more.

I meant to post this one in mid-October but I kept backing out. Eh. So I'm posting it on the tail-end of Halloween because, yay, spooky. It's actually part of a longer story I'm writing, but I liked how this first chapter came out and figured it worked okay as a short stand-alone. Let me know if this works as a good hook and thanks for reading.


_________________________________

The human was in the middle of a loud, heated argument with her mother. Wolf approached the window and looked in, silently observing their expressions, trying to understand how they matched up with the words they were saying.

Expressions were something he still struggled with. They were strange and subtle signals that were easy to misinterpret. But to learn and adapt you had to first observe. This was the key rule the others had forgotten.

From what he had observed, he'd found that their general behavior was complicated, and their socialization was filled with seemingly meaningless and arbitrary rules. This didn't deter him, however, but rather intrigued him. His human form was not perfected yet, but he was getting there, day by day. He had no experience in interacting with the natives of this universe, but that would soon change, too.

Wolf became lost in his own thoughts for a while, and the arguing of the two female humans became meaningless background noise. He heard something shatter, and then the voice of a male joined them, loud and agitated—the father human. The young female began to scream at him, her voice piercingly loud.

Wolf glanced up as the front door of the house was suddenly flung open, and the young female came storming out, her hands balled into fists. He could see she was breathing hard, and her eyes were red and wet.

She was crying. He was aware that this was an expression of sorrow. It was one of the easier identifiers he'd learned.

"Amy!" the mother human bawled after her. "You get back here right this instant! We aren't finished here!"

Amy. Wolf softly repeated the name to himself, liking the sound of it. He had the discovered the joy of having a name for himself only recently, and learning the names of others brought him a similar delight.

He watched as Amy began to run, ignoring her mother's furious call. He knew exactly where she was headed, as he'd observed her long enough to learn much of her habits. She would cross the embankment nearby, and from there she would go to the Railer Woods, to lose herself for a while in the birches and pines. It was only a small area of forest, having been gradually diminished by the encroaching development of humans, but it was a peaceful place, and he could see why she liked it.

He followed her, moving swiftly and seamlessly, keeping his form small and inconspicuous. His body changed colours with liquid speed, perfectly matching the area around him to create an effective camouflage. Mimicking the intricate colours and patterns in this world presented no problem to him. It had taken quite a bit of practice to get that trick right, but now he could do it without a second thought.

She was a boiling inferno of emotions now, and that fascinated him. He wanted to reach inside her mind and sift through her thoughts, but he knew it was too risky. Humans were fragile creatures, and their brains didn't react well to careless prodding. He'd learned this the hard way when he'd attempted to read the thoughts of a random man on the subway and caused all the blood vessels in his brain to simultaneously burst.

No, any usage of his abilities had to be carefully planned and performed with delicate precision.

She went exactly where he thought she would. The embankment was only a five-minute walk from her house, situated across from a shallow stream. Amy made it there in half that time, and expertly navigated her way across the slippery trail of stones sticking out of the water. She'd made that herself, picking out the largest, smoothest stones she could find to create an effective pathway. She'd never fallen once.

The stream itself was looking worse for wear nowadays. The water had been crystal clear at one point, but now it looked sickeningly cloudy, and the reeds were clogged with rubbish. Wolf watched with interest as the bloated corpse of a rat drifted lazily downwards, its fur matted with blood. The sight of it made him hungry, but he restrained himself. He imagined Amy would have let out a scream if she saw it, her bad mood forgotten, and high-tailed it right back into the arms of her ranting mother. She was too focused on her footing however, so the rat passed on unnoticed.

She scrambled up the muddy embankment, her face wet with tears and sweat as she sniffled and panted for breath. Her jeans were streaked with dirt when she made it to the top, and she paused to brush a few loose weeds off her shirt before taking off in a sprint. Full of boundless energy, that one.

Wolf increased his speed and took off after her, weaving through the undergrowth like a snake. There were so many different shades of brown and green to mimic, each of them exotically beautiful to him in their own right. Those colours didn't exist in his home-world. He had to focus hard so he wouldn't get distracted. He'd made his decision and he knew what he wanted to do with her. It would require all his concentration if he was to do it properly.

She slowed down when she reached the main pathway through the forest, and leaned against a tree to catch her breath. It was mostly joggers and dog-walkers that came along this route, but there was nobody around today. It was growing dark, and her mother had explicitly forbidden her to go here at night, but he thought she most likely took pleasure in this act of spiteful defiance.

He edged closer, studying her face. Most of it was hidden beneath her tangled black hair, but he could see her green eyes peering out, still glassy with tears. She just stood there, breathing heavily, seemingly not sure what to do with herself now. After a moment, she slumped to the ground and sat with her knees pulled up to her chest, staring glumly at the forest floor.

He grew bolder, reaching out to her with long, thin arms, still completely invisible. He traced his clawed fingers along her shoulders, coming close to touching her a few times, but not quite. He opened his jaws just above her head and stood there, his fangs hovering inches from her flesh. He thought about all the exotic colours that would erupt from her if he clamped his mouth shut.

But he wouldn't do it. He had watched this human over the course of a few months, learning her story and her alien ways, and in that time he had found himself becoming fond of her. It was a strange feeling to form attachment to such an insignificant creature, but it was also very interesting. It had been so long since his people had gotten down onto the same level as mortal beings, to observe in the flesh rather than from the lofty plane of their home dimension. This was something new and exhilarating.

Amy, still oblivious to his presence, reached into her pocket and took out her mobile phone. She sniffed and flicked her hair back, tickling his tongue, then began rapidly tapping away on it. He understood the words perfectly of course—understanding languages was his people's speciality. They all prided themselves as experts in the art of translation as well as shape-shifting.

MUM FOUND STASH, Amy wrote. DIDNT SAY UR NAME BUT SHE PROB SUSPECTS U.

With that done, she tossed the phone down in front of her and looked at it sullenly, waiting for a reply. He moved his jaws away from her head and backed off a little. She remained still. He reached out to her again, and this time he did touch her, brushing her hair away from her eyes in one quick movement. Now he could see her face clearly, and that pleased him. He thought her expression looked quite comical; her eyes were so wide.

For a few moments, she seemed to be completely frozen like that, before she abruptly shot to her feet, looking around wildly. His touch had been feathery light, hardly more than a strand of cob-web, but she had felt it. She shivered, running her hands through her hair and biting her lip.

"Is someone there?" Her words came out as little more than a whimper.

He stood in front of her and gave a grin that showed all his teeth. She was looking directly at him with those wide, staring eyes of hers, but she couldn't see him.

I am here, he thought, and his body began to shift and distort as he finally made himself known.

____

Amy wasn't sure if what she was seeing was real at first—surely it had to be some kind of nightmarish hallucination. A grave sense of wrongness emanated from the thing, and every fibre of her being seemed to scream at her that this should not exist, this should not be. It was as if a hole in the universe had suddenly opened and allowed pure madness to slither forth.

The thing stared at her with sunken eyes filled with a galaxy of colours she couldn't identify. The rest of it seemed momentarily vague and blurred, as if she was seeing it through water, but its image rapidly grew sharper, revealing the chaotic, monstrous visage looming over her.

Its head was twisted and deformed, with jagged shards of blackened bone bursting out of the wizened grey flesh. There were scores of whorls and winding patterns on its skin that were constantly moving, rippling and uncoiling as though filled with life of their own. The colour and appearance of it reminded her of a hornet's nest, as if the monster had been crudely moulded from the same material. Its crooked snout was a darker grey than the rest of it, and the teeth that protruded from its half-open jaws were as long and sharp as carving knives.

It stood on four legs, and its front paws resembled a hideous mixture of human and canine, the long, misshapen fingers armed with wickedly sharp claws. There were deep craters along its back and chest, all clustered together. They looked like empty eye sockets, and she could see insectoid things squirming in their depths. A lengthy, segmented tail lashed out behind it, tipped with a barb reminiscent of a scorpion.

She was dimly aware that she was freezing all over and could not move. Her fear was so great that she could barely process the extent of it; the terror engulfed her senses like a cage.

It stared at her, its jaws opening wider, and she couldn't stop herself from staring back. As terrifying as the creature was, it was the strange, unknowable colours of its eyes that kept her enthralled, binding her in place. She could no longer see the rest of her surroundings; the forest had disappeared into a swirling canvas of madness, with the beast in the centre of it all.

A thick tongue wormed out from between its fangs, luminous yellow and bristling with rows of thorns. It slowly reached out with one enormous paw, its clawed fingers grasping at her. The thought of it touching her sent a fresh wave of horror and revulsion running through her, and she struggled to tear her gaze away and escape.

COME ON! MOVE! Amy thought frantically, fighting to get her limbs to cooperate. She tried to scream for help, but no sound emerged from her frozen lips. All she could manage was a weak twitch of her arms and a brief choked sob. The creature paused, its paw hovering over her, and though the expression on its ruinous face was hard to read, she thought it regarded her with cruel amusement. Its lips peeled back, forming a distorted grin like the face of a rotting jack-o-lantern, and it roughly grabbed her around the waist.

Its touch was like wildfire, sending burning pain coursing through her guts. She tried again to scream and struggle, but her body still didn't respond, leaving her hanging limply in its grasp like a rag doll. She could only watch helplessly as it drew her up to eye-level, giving her a better view of its mesmerising colours.

Its grin widened and its eyes grew horribly bright, casting her in its alien light. As the glow washed over her, she saw her skin seemed to be moving now, writhing madly with jagged shapes like arcane runes. It looked as though her very flesh was trying to tear itself from her bones. The fiery agony pulsed and raged, before it raced directly to her head. The pain was like nothing she had ever experienced—it was as though someone was trying to crack her skull open like an egg.

Such a short life. Such a shame.

The beast's voice sounded perfectly calm, but the volume of it was deafening. It filled her whole head, causing her teeth to chatter and her body to spasm. The word telepathy flitted through her mind, a lost thought in a sea of madness.

But I can make you live forever if you let me take you home.

She gagged, a line of drool running from her mouth as she writhed. A hitching gasp rattled up from her chest and she jerked backward, her eyes momentarily rolling back to the whites. Even then, the colours didn't leave her. They seemed to have blotted out the entire world, leaving her alone with this monstrosity.

The monster's patterns were crawling all over her, searing relentlessly into her flesh. She could feel each whirl and spiral digging into her like burrowing worms with needle sharp teeth.

I must make some adjustments to you in order to get you there safely.

It spoke more softly this time, but it sounded so horribly eager. Its form shifted and twisted, its fanged grin stretching to grotesque proportions. Its eye colours intensified as they danced and swirled in tandem to the patterns burning on her skin.

Behind it, the creature's tail began to lash more violently, becoming a blur of movement. Its sharp stinger pierced at the air in a series of stabbing motions, and the space in front of it rippled and quivered. A sharp hissing noise sounded out as it continued to slash and stab away, growing steadily louder. Soon enough, a dark jagged tear opened in the middle of nothing, like a giant wound in reality, and the hissing became a whirlwind roar.

Still racked by pain, Amy barely noticed any of it. Her body didn't seem like hers anymore; it was a broken vessel rapidly burning up with this monster's markings. She felt as though she was fading into nothing.

I can't take this. I'm going to die. It was the only coherent thought she could manage. Her vision blurred as tears began to stream down her face, and she tried again to scream, to beg the creature to stop.

And to her amazement, words did come out this time.

"STOP IT! YOU'RE KILLING ME!"

Her voice was guttural, not like her own at all, and left her throat feeling sandpaper-raw. The effort seemed to sap away the last dregs of strength she had left, and she couldn't imagine being able to try again.

The creature's colours and markings stopped pulsing, and for a moment, it grew still. The howling of the void behind them continued to rage, and from the corner of her eye she could see dark tendrils crawling out from it, like long fingers. She wished she could look away. The creature's tail was thrashing wildly once again, seemingly in agitation, and its grip on her loosened.

The pain blazing through her gradually began to drain away. It should have been a blessing, except it was immediately replaced by freezing numbness, as though she'd been plunged into an icy lake. She couldn't feel her body at all any more, and she found that cold nothingness even more terrifying than the pain. Her thoughts were all she had left now, and there was another presence in her mind. She could sense the beast in there, sifting through her emotions and memories as one might rummage through a chest of drawers.

It slowly lowered her down and laid her gently on the ground. It took her a few moments to register her freedom, as she was too preoccupied with the invader in her head. She desperately tried to untangle the beast's thoughts from her own, but her struggles only seemed to strengthen the connection. She could feel its frustration surging through her, mixed with resentment and longing.

How can you be so FRAGILE?

She could still hear it perfectly clearly despite all the noise, and it sounded so genuinely perplexed and disgruntled, that she almost felt like laughing. She somehow wasn't surprised by this—clearly, she was losing her mind. Her skull felt like it had cracked open and her brain had liquefied, allowing it to rush out in a great flood, along with everything else. She could see blood pooling around her, staining the forest floor red, and it seemed so bright, so unnaturally vivid, but she had no doubt it was hers. Was it really possible to lose that much and still live?

The beast's eyes dimmed until they were dark and empty, like a starless night. Its grin faded, hiding its awful teeth and tongue from view, and it looked almost sorrowful. The roaring of the void faded, becoming a soft whisper, and it slowly began to shrink. It left the air marred by circular ripples in its wake, like those from a stone cast into water.

Amy remained sprawled on the ground, unmoving, as the beast leaned over her, its head tilted in a curiously dog-like gesture. The things squirming in the craters on its chest seemed to be growing livelier, and she thought she caught a glimpse of something more distinct than just a bug; a bristly, stick-thin insect leg with what looked like human fingers and hands sprouting from it. There was a human eye peering out from it too, streaked with red veins and brimming with tears.

She gave a faint groan, and with a great deal of effort, managed to turn her gaze away from the pitiful things. The forest seemed to be consumed by blood, and her vision was fading.

The beast's gaze hadn't left her, and she could sense its curiosity. It appeared to have gotten over its disappointment in her fragility, and now it seemed content to watch her bleed out. She wanted to try pleading with it again, but she had nothing left, all her life was draining out of her. She was going to black out and die here, she realised, with this monster looming over her.

The beast's eyes flickered, and it slowly reached out to her, brushing the side of her face with one gnarled finger. The markings on its skin began to whirr into life again, pulsing against her cold cheek like a heartbeat.

The beast said something in a language she could not understand, each word sending a splinter of agony through her head. She could not tell whether it was speaking out loud or through telepathy; perhaps it was both this time. There was another white-hot flare of pain, this time across her chest, as the beast delivered several quick slashes with an outstretched claw. Through half-lidded eyes, she could see it had made a mark on her, one with jagged shapes and dancing swirls. Although the style was the same, it was distinctly different from the rest, but she couldn't seem to grasp why. The finer details were just out of sight.

But as she strained to look at her wound, she saw only darkness. With her vision completely gone, her consciousness soon followed, until she knew no more.

Last edited by Byrus; 11-01-2017 at 12:21 AM.
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