Posts Tagged With: monsters

Halloween Interlude – Under the Stacks

childroomUnder every library is a hidden world of terrors and delights.

That’s not a metaphor, by the way; under every library is a literal world of terrors and delights. That’s why they were created. To contain that world. It’s horrifying.

Dierdre was six and a half and damn proud of that fact. Turning six had been a major milestone in her life; it meant she was allowed to browse the children’s books at the Lowertown Library unattended. It meant the librarian – a round, pleasant woman with sticky-outy hair – trusted that she wouldn’t get dirt on the books or pull out the pages or drop them on the ground and stamp on them. Like her little brother. Honestly, she’d known to not do this for years – well, for months. But, rules were rules. So, she’d patiently waited and on her birthday – February the third – she’d walked with her mom to the big gray building on Haver Street and exchanged her light blue card for a dark blue card. One day, she’d get the red card. But that was a far-off dream.

Today, Dierdre had selected, of her own accord, three books on reptiles and amphibians. They were large and flat and full of photos and not baby books, either. They were big kid books, but, and this was something she was super DUPER proud about, she could read them! Yes. And, most importantly, she could understand them. So, while momma was off looking at books in the boring part of the library – ie, the rest of the library – Dierdre was sitting on the cushioned bench by the back wall and reading about salamanders and how they ate with their sticky tongues. The bench ran the length of the back wall. There was another bench under the big picture window, but it always made Dierdre feel like people were sneaking up behind her when she sat there.

“The Hy-dro-man . . . man-tes salamander has the fastest tongue in the world,” she read out loud. Normally, you weren’t supposed to read with your mouth at the library, but they liked it when you did in the children’s section. It proved that books made you smarter and that was good for business. “It is also the longest tongue,” she continued, happy with her newfound knowledge. She couldn’t wait to get home and throw these facts at her little brother, who wouldn’t understand them but would appear suitably impressed nevertheless.

“The tip of its tongue -”

“Tongue . . .”

Dierdre paused. Someone had whispered the word “tongue” somewhere near her bench. She had definitely heard it. She looked around. The children’s section was empty. Even the round librarian with the sticky-outy hair was away from her desk in the center of the room. Dierdre suddenly felt very alone in a way she hadn’t felt since she was small and afraid of the dark. But, this wasn’t the dark! It was the library. The safest place in the world. And, she wasn’t alone. Momma was in the big person section with a bunch of other grownups. There were two heavy doors between the children’s section and the rest of the library, but if she leaned way over, she could just see through the long windows into the rest of the library.

She looked down at her book. A drawing of a  salamander with its long tongue grabbing a bug splashed across two pages. A small blue box in the corner described the action.

“Here,” she read out loud, “the salamander uses its sticky tongue -”

“Tongue,” the voice said again.

It was close. Near her ear. She whipped her head around, blonde hairs slapping her face. There was no one there, of course. That “all alone in the dark” feeling began to creep over her again. Maybe, she thought, it was time to go find momma and check out her books.

Stood up.

Something had her leg.

It was a hand – gray, bony, with rough skin and scratchy nails at the ends of long long too-long fingers – sticking out from under the bench cushion. The hand was gripping her upper thigh and the horrible fingers wrapped all the way around.

“Momma!” she called out. The hand squeezed her leg a bit harder than was necessary.

There was a noise. A commotion. Something was happening in the rest of the library. Muffled sounds, blocked by the two big doors.

“MOMMA!” she yelled, and the hand slipped back under the cushion dragging it’s sharp nails along her skin and leaving three angry red scratches.

Dierdre bolted from the children’s section, burst through the doors and stood in the safety of the general reading room. She was panting, her reptile books still clutched to her chest, looking around for the comforting shape of her momma.

But, her momma wasn’t there.

No momma’s were there.

The library, so full of life and energy and people when she’d arrived, was quiet as a tomb. Dierdre held perfectly still, her breath coming in quick, hitching gasps. Finally, she managed to calm her breathing enough to listen. There was a sound. A wet sound. It was coming from behind the Information Desk.

On size eight feet, clad in her favorite white shoes (perfect for twirling! she would say) Dierdre crept over to the Information Desk. She knew she wasn’t supposed to go around to the other side – that was for employees only – but, the wet sounds seemed urgent, like an animal in need.

The round librarian, with the sticky-outy hair, lay behind the desk. Her pretty white blouse, the one with the ruffles that Dierdre thought of as a princess blouse, was stained red and torn all over. The librarian’s hair was more sticky-outy than usual and her body had sticky-outy parts where there weren’t supposed to be sticky-outy parts. The wet sounds were coming from her mouth, which was also stained red.

The round librarian looked up with wide wide eyes and saw Dierdre.

“Ca – ca – ca . . . ” she stammered, “ca -”

Dierdre leaned down. It was scary to see the round librarian like this but also sad. Oh her white princess blouse (now stained red oh dear so so red and torn) was a name tag. It said “MISS EMMA” on it. Dierdre had never seen this tag. She had probably been told the round librarian was named Miss Emma when she first started visiting the children’s section, but htat was too long ago to remember.

“Ca – ca -” Miss Emma croaked.

“Do you need help,” Dierdre asked, “Miss Emma?” she added.

“Ca – ca – call. N – number. Desk,” Miss Emma spat out, “Call. Please. Please.”

Dierdre stood on her tiptoes and craned her neck. The top of the desk was smooth and clean save for a few long gouges drawn across the end. She saw no number.

“Miss Emma,” she said looking down, “there’s no number here!”

Miss Emma’s breathing was growing shorter. She gazed with fading eyes at Deirdre. She had known Dierdre for all six years of the little girl’s life. Had met the tiny baby when she was only three weeks old and Dierdre’s momma (that poor poor woman the things they did to her before dragging her away and off and down down down) had brought her in to meet the staff and announced “I want everyone to meet a future bookworm!” Miss Emma had watched little Dierdre grown into a whip-smart toddler, reading at three and comprehending at three and a half. The little girl was smart. She could understand. She would “get it.”

“The – the whole desk. Hidden. On. Top. Hidden. In. Wood.”

Dierdre looked at the desk, but it was too high to see the whole thing. Setting her books down – careful to avoid the expanding pool of blood around Miss Emma – she climbed up onto the Information Desk’s chair and knelt on the soft seat. She gazed at the swirling pattern in the fake wood desktop. It looked like a desktop. She was about to ask Miss Emma for more help, when the pattern resolved itself into recognizable shapes. Numbers. A phone number.

“Who is it? Do I call them? What do I say?” Dierdre was feeling overwhelmed. She wanted to cry. She wanted to pee. She wanted to leave.

Miss Emma, nearly gone now, even a six year old could see that this kind woman was not long for our world, stared at the beautiful child poised above her like and angel. Like a last hope.

“Breach,” she said.

“Beach?” Dierdre asked, confused.

“Brrrreeeach!” Miss Emma sighed out. And died.

Dierdre heard scuffling behind the stacks. Under the floor. In the ceiling. She needed to call the hidden number and say the secret word.

Breach.

She didn’t know what it meant. But, it seemed important and scary.

The man who answered the phone sounded mean when he answered. But, when he heard the little girl on the other end say “breach,” his voice softened. “Are you in the library, little girl?” he asked.

“Yes,” Dierdre replied. “Are you going to come help me?”

The man on the other end, didn’t respond.

Under every library is a hidden world of terrors and delights. That’s why they were created. To contain that world. Books contain magic and that magic usually works. But, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes – rarely oh so rarely but sometimes – things happen. Things get breached. And things come out. From under the stacks.

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Categories: Halloween Interlude, Halloween!, Horror, Just a stupid thing | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Halloween Interlude – The Shortest Ghost

THE SHORTEST GHOST

The Shortest Ghost was very short
Not even two feet high
He looked up to the other ghosts
Who called him “Little Guy.”

The witches called him “Goblin Food”
The mummies called him “Thumbkin”
The Draculas just picked him up
And stuffed him in a pumpkin.

The werewolves all turned up their snouts
As if he wasn’t there
The bats and spiders laughed at him
The Devils pulled his hair

Each Halloween he hoped and dreamed
He’d pull off one big fright
And listen to the children scream
And cry for mom all night

But, when the spooking hour came
The other ghosts would sneer
“A tiny ghost with no loud ‘Boo!’
Does not inspire fear!”

This Halloween, he sat at home
And watched some DVDs
But scary films just made him sad
And he’d seen all of these

And so the Shortest Ghost set out
He thought he’d Trick or Treat
With emphasis on “tricks” because
The treats he could not eat

He stalked a motley group of kids
Who’d not, for hours, be missed
And with a pounce enveloped them
Within his spectral mist

He showed them sights – obscenities –
No living being should see
The face of Death, the Hills of Ot
The Red Pnakotic Sea

He led them through Zehirete
The Holy Womb of Light
And bathed them in The White Fire
Which Is Darker Than The Night

Shub-Niggurath – the Black Goat
With a Thousand Hungry Young –
Ignored them, but not Nyarlathotep
God of the Bloody Tongue

The King In Yellow, Hastur,
Lord of Interstellar Spaces
Was dropping by and broke their minds
By showing them his faces

The Shortest Ghost then dragged them deep
Beneath the ocean’s waves
Where mermaids, fat with sailors’ blood,
Lured men down to their graves

And, down where dead Cthulhu dreamt
And Dagon held court, too
The Shortest Ghost swam in their ears
And whispered to them
“Boo.”

The children screamed, or tried to,
For the ocean filled their lungs
But, soon enough, it mattered not
For death had stopped their tongues

He’d played his trick, he’d had his treat
The dawn would soon be there
The shortest ghost now had his proof
That he knew how to scare

“WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?!” his brothers cried
As he rose out of the foam,
“The Old Gods wake! The Howler Screams!
The Shambler starts to roam!”

“You’ve called attention to mankind
With your stupid little trick
We’re sorry that we called you short
But, this is pretty sick!”

The Shortest Ghost looked hard at them
And, then into the sky
The stars blinked out, the clouds dripped blood
The moon revealed an eye

He thought, “Well, no more haunting now
The dead won’t fear the dead
And, no more Halloween for us
Just endless dark instead”

But, never did the Shortest Ghost
Regret what he had done
For size is always relative
Beneath a blackened sun.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Categories: Halloween!, Horror | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Halloween Interlude – Who Are You Going to Call?

I woke up and all the cats were skeletons. AGAIN! That was six cats in one week; the people at the shelter were going to cut me off and I needed those cats!

Stupid shoggoth.

I tossed the bones into the pile behind the house, kicked some mulch over them and stared at the basement window. It was filled in with black and the black was full of eyes.

Stupid shoggoth.

I pulled my list of animal shelters off the fridge. Out of twenty-five I was down to three. They’d started contacting each other and talking about me. The guy who kept adopting so many cats. So many cats! I knew I had another list in my desk. A list with less . . . legit animal dealers. I hated the thought of resorting to to one of those guys, but I was getting desperate.

Stupid shoggoth.

I dug through my desk drawer for the list and pulled out a card. When this problem had started, I’d received a lot of references from a lot of different sources. Most of them I’d chucked, but I’d hung on to this card. Just in case.

Marinus Willett, PhD.
Finder of lost items, practitioner of old majiks
exorciser of daemons
and a phone number

I thought about calling Willett. Most of these guys, they were useless. Their chants and spells, their potions and poultices, all of this stuff was easily accessible online and had been for years. One guy said he could take care of my problem

(stupid shoggoth)

and had been reduced to trying to hit it with a shovel. I lost fifty bucks that day. And a good shovel.

I looked out the window at the growing mound in the garden.

Willett said he’d be here at noon and arrived at two. He mumbled something about a cursed rectory and shuffled into the house.

To describe Willett as “bedraggled” would be far too complimentary. He was about seventy, short, with dirty gray hair and wearing a suit that looked a) fifty years old and b) fifty years since a good wash. He carried a black doctor’s bag. Like Little House on the Prairie Doc Baker type bag. Seriously old school.

“Shoggoth?” he asked when he hit the foyer.

“Yeah.”

“Smells like,” he said, “Get a cat?”

“Several.”

“Yep. Stops working after a while. They hate them some cats, I tells ya. Still, after a few weeks they realize they’re not gonna get taken to the moon and they get their courage up. Finding a lot of skeletons?”

“Yeah.”

“Sounds right. Good thing you called when you did.”

Willett set down his bag and took out a large piece of chalk.

“Hope you don’t like this tile work too much,” he said as he drew a large circle in the middle of the foyer, “Not gonna look too pretty in a minute.”

Willett futzed around in his circle, drawing little marks and squiggles. He muttered as he drew.

“Damn things keeping me busy these days. Your’re not the only one, no sir. I just cleaned out a nest of them at the Marriott by the mall. Took over the damn basement. Cleaning crew disappeared weeks ago but they tried to cover it up. Once the customers started waking up with limbs missing or . . . replaced . . . they got wise. Well, half-wise. Rounded up a bunch of strays from the alleys and dumped them in the basement. Apparently, the yowling was so loud it alerted the city inspector. Idiots. They called me in. I got rid of ’em but the whole place burned down in the process.”

I must have startled because he looked up.

“Don’t worry, young fella. Your place’ll be fine. Your floor won’t be, but these walls should hold.”

Willett finished up his whatever-it-was and stood, cracking his back with his fists.

“I’m getting too old,” he said, “Too damn old.”

He took a little maraca-type shaker out of his pocket.

“You may want to stand back,” he said.

Willett commenced shaking the object and murmuring a stream of nonsense. It seemed like nonsense to me, at least. Some of it I recognized. “OGTHROD AI’F GEB’L — EE’H YOG-SOTHOTH ‘NGAH’NG AI’Y ZHRO” obviously, that’s how most of these things start, but then it trailed off into sounds I wasn’t familiar with. The air became charged with a kind of greasy electricity. My hear stood on end and I felt nauseated.

“Okay, son, don’t look in the circle!” Willett said.

The room grew unbearably warm. The air became slippery and hard to inhale. I tried to turn and leave, but my head started ringing and my mouth seemed to be full of water. I couldn’t see. My eyes became blurry, like I was looking through thick glass. Things passed in front of my vision – swimming things. Things with fins. I smelled salt and seaweed. A form approached me, holding out its webby hands; taking my face, breathing brine and plankton into my screaming lungs. I floated down, down, down into the abyss of an underwater canyon. Lights burned around me and a city in the cliffs, aeons old, became visible. The creature in whose arms I was held beckoned to a group of creatures far below. They swam up to meet us, dragging a massive chain. The creature said something in a bubbly, alien tongue and his companions yanked hard on their chain. A stirring from below and a dark shadow began to stir in the depths. I looked up and the creatures had fled, their fet barely visible in the distance. I looked down and the shadow grew in size. Whatever was down there, it was big. Bigger than a city. The shadow was enormous and I hadn’t seen any of the monster’s actual surface yet. It continued toward me, pushing the water in front of it. I felt scared but also so curious. What was this thing? Was it beautiful? Was it an angel? Was it coming for me?

I saw its face and my mind reeled.

A hand grabbed me roughly by the collar and yanked me backwards.

I was lying in a sodden mess on the floor of my foyer. Willett was sitting gasping next to me, his upper body soaked and reeking. I coughed and seawater poured out of my mouth and nose. Choking and retching, I sat up. A sudden pain shot through my head. Willett had hit me with his bag.

“I told you not to look in the circle, idiot,” he said.

“W-w-what . . . what was . . . I saw . . . thing, a thing . . . “

“Just one of the spawn. They keep ’em down there. Come in handy. Only things that can eat a shoggoth. Eat other things too. You were lucky. Idiot.”

I realized the floor of my foyer was torn up as if something from below had forced its way out.

“I’ll email you an invoice, Willett said, “Don’t go in your basement for a few days.”

“Why?”

“I had to open a pretty big hole. Things got through.”

“Things?”

“They’ll fade. Don’t go in the basement.”

Willett gathered his belongings and walked to the front door.

“You bought it, didn’t you?” he asked.

“Yeah.”

“They’re cute when they’re little. Novel. You like how they can turn into little animals and mimic your voice. It’s neat. They’ll nibble your finger and chirp like a bird.”

“Yeah.”

“They get big, though. No one ever thinks of that. They almost ended the world once. You know that, right?”

“I – I’d heard . . . something . . . “

“Idiot.” he said. But, he sounded more sorry than angry now, “But, smarter than we have been enamored of their gifts.”

“What do you -“

“Pay that invoice, you hear! I know where you live live and I can bring ’em back.”

“Jesus, man, I’m -“

“Just kidding with you. Stick to cats and dogs from now on, idiot,” he said and he walked down to his car.

I surveyed my destroyed foyer, my walls dripping with seawater. I found a thing swimming in my toilet later that day and that night I woke up to a ceiling of screaming mouths. My walls bled for a while too. But, eventually, it settled down. In all the whole ordeal cost me over 10,000 in service and repairs.

Stupid shoggoth.

One lucky thing, though. Something that passed through my house dropped a trinket in my basement. I found it when I went down to clean up. It’s a small gold box with designs all over it. It burns when I touch it, but if I wear oven mitts I think can can figure out how to get it open.

I got a new cat too. It hates this box. Stupid cat.

Stupid Willett.

Stupid shoggoth.

Categories: Halloween!, Horror | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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