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An Anthology of Extreme Creature Horror
By Kurt Bachard, Stephanie Bedwell-Grime, Michael Boatman, Randy Chandler Lawrence Conquest, Tim Curran, Ralph Greco Jr., Jeffrey Hale, Harper Hull, Matt Kurtz, Sean Logan, Aaron Polson, Daniel I. Russell, M. Shaw, John Shirley, Fred Venturini, Simon Wood, Cheryl Mullenax
Comet PressCopyright © 2010 Comet Press
All rights reserved.
And God hath chosen the weak things of the world, to confound the mighty things, And vile things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are. That no flesh should rejoice in his presence.
Corinthians 18–31, Geneva Bible
The damned room. Where it all happened. Where it's still happening. The room that isn't really a room, but what exactly it is, Jeze just doesn't know. That room. Four walls or six or more, owing to the fertile darkness, volume of blood spilled and temper of the times. A living room, the beating heart of a phantom house. The damned room that haunts Jeze's waking life and gives her nightmares actual teeth and claws.
"Why does that place scare you so much?" Jeze's shrink always wants to know. Never satisfied with first answers, he prods for unsacred revelations.
Her answer is always the same: "Because when I die I'll be stuck haunting that place. Forever."
"In a sense, you're stuck there now, aren't you?"
Clever bastard. "Clever bastard," she says. Sometimes words come to her from back there in that room, back where the tree of death grows on roots exposed and sickly white like naked bodies. Where roots are naked bodies.
"Well, aren't you?" His teeth are white as maggots. His eyes dead as roadkill.
"No I'm not. It's for dead souls, not for me. Not yet."
"Talk about your creatures. What was it you called them?"
"Too dangerous. They don't like being probed."
"You're protecting me from them, then?"
She shrugs. "If you like."
"But you called them something. Descriptive."
"Check your notes. I'm sure it's there."
"Ah. Here it is."
"You're such a putz."
"'Dark guardians' you called them. But you never made clear what they guard."
"Because I can never be sure. If they're keeping me in check or keeping others out. I don't know what else they want with me. What they might have planned."
"I can help you figure that out. If you let me."
Saying nothing, she avoids looking into the doctor's dead eyes.
He goes on: "Or ... you can keep your life and your career on hold, sit and spin, and get absolutely nowhere."
She feels herself going now, slipping off into shadow, gooseflesh aquiver, sliding into the desperation of self-mockery: Be still my trip-hammer heart.
* * *
Even before you got there, you knew it was going to be bad. But by then it was too late to turn back. So there you went, the almost-famous filmmaker/documentarian in hot pursuit of the bloody slice-of-darkside-life that would win essential funding and eventual respect of critics and art-house audiences everywhere. Working title: Blood Cult.
Tyler had warned you about these creepy people. The Lost City Luciferians. He told you you'd be nuts to go unescorted with them to a secret location to film their forbidden ceremony. But of course you had to do it. Just you and your handheld movie camera getting right up in reality's face. Rolling. Balls-out tits-atilt rolling, shooting for all you were worth. All the marbles. The whole shooting match and shebang. Shoot cliches and kill them dead.
When they put the bag over your head, you turned the camera on yourself and became part of the story. It was only later, when you were in the room, that you realized you were the story.
You had no inkling then that what you were looking for was God. But the moment you entered the room you knew you had stumbled undoubtedly into the realm of the Devil.
* * *
"Call me Ishmael." That was what the cadaverous cocksucker actually said, and you framed his horse face in warty close-up, while behind you, others were making preparations, laying out steel edges and ancient crucibles. You didn't stay on his emaciated face long. The massive black tree in the center of the room drew itself into the viewfinder. A tree you could only think of as Biblical. It towered over the room, its soaring upper black branches forming a cathedral-like ceiling for the otherwise ceiling-less room.
Though you couldn't see them, you had the sudden unmistakable impression that catlike creatures had draped themselves over favored branches and were waiting to make great springing leaps down onto these pitiful humans who had little idea of the deep evil they were toying with. You weren't equipped to see them either but you caught their dreadful scent and it nearly sickened you.
No, these things were not feline. There was nothing natural about these creatures.
An insistent thought insinuated itself: demon tree.
Then a porcine man wearing thick sideburns and a white jumpsuit showed up and assumed a ceremonious position with his back to the tree.
Fat Elvis, you thought and laughed inwardly. You zoomed in on his face and froze there as Fat Elvis curled his lips and began to chant in lisping southern- fried Latin. Ishmael appeared at his side and slipped a knife in his hammy fingers. "Thank you," said Fat Elvis, "very much."
Now a skinny woman with a smoked-leather face and big hair teased into hedgehog spikes glossy with a slick hairspray sheen sauntered in from stage right, dragging along a small white pregnant dog in a pink tutu on a jeweled leash.
Fat Elvis smiled at the woman (or maybe at the preggers little dog) and took command of the leash. Skinny Minny scowled and exited with an uneasy backward look at the gleaming knife.
The air grew thick and oily, and you could feel those lurking creatures wanting to rip and rend the darkish air to get at the juicy blood-packed meat sacks (the pitiful humans) for a grand feast at the foot of their evil tree.
* * *
"I seriously considered changing my name to Noira Dark and leaving the continent. Did I already tell you that, Doc? So those things would lose my spoor? You know: my scent, my trail, my droppings? Jeze Bellefleur becomes Noira Dark in the blink of an eye. You laugh but I did. Consider it. Not that it would've done any good. They were already on me like flies on shit, pardon my fucking French. No? Then white on rice. Black on boots. Any way you fucking slice it, I was stuck with those wicked bad things. If I'm making light it's only because it's all so dark and deadly serious. There's really no way to make light of cutting unborn babies out of a mother's belly — even if the mother is only a mongrel bitch. That sort of thing makes the demons hungry and pretty much guarantees that they'll be up your ass indefinitely. Or at least until the cows come home. Uh-oh, news flash: the cows aren't coming home because they're all in the slaughterhouse."
* * *
You didn't dare dream of turning away. You kept the camera's unbiased eye on the action and watched in sick fascination as Fat Elvis lifted the mutt by the scruff of its neck and sliced its belly open and six bloody little squirming sacs came sliding out and went splat on the ground at the foot of the tree. Malnourished Ishmael began speaking in tongues, his voice growing louder and louder until he clamped his teeth, clammed up and convulsed.
He foamed at the mouth and fell over like a hundred-pound bag of shit.
Zooming close-up of the canine abortions, moving within blood-slimed sacs.
Wide out to get fat boy's bloody white jumpsuit and expressionless face. You were trembling so hard you were afraid you'd ruin the shot.
And then the real horrorshow began.
* * *
Doctor Dead Eyes doesn't know it but you are shooting your therapy sessions. Cute little nanny cam hidden inside a teddy bear with a pink bow round its neck, sitting next to the few get-well cards and the plastic vase of flowers (no glass allowed on the psych ward). These therapy scenes might make a good companion piece to the unedited snuff footage in your safety deposit box, or a decent DVD extra feature if you end up releasing the hardcore shock-the-monkeys movie.
"And even though you knew the cultists were into sacrifice," he says, petting his beloved beard, "you went anyway. For the sake of your art. In a sense, you were making a personal sacrifice for your art."
"Well yeah. That's why I went. Because they were serious about blood sacrifice. Animal, not human, but my plan was to get good footage of an animal blooding and then push them to reveal how close they might be to actually doing a human. I was convinced that's the way they were heading. Why mess around with sacrifice if you aren't willing to go whole hog. Or whole human. Right?"
* * *
The membranous air rippled and the walls shifted, expanded. She swung the camera slowly left, purposely counting walls as she made a 360 sweep. Five walls now, each corner forming the point of an implied pentagram. And Skinny Minny Shiny Spikes was on her knees, shoveling the aborted pups one by one into her bloody maw, chewing them until their little bones crunched, then sucking off their juices, and finally spitting out the mutilated remains. She wiped blood from her mouth with the back of her hand like a seasoned drunkard, then licked her fingertips with her grotesquely smacking gob.
The tree's exposed roots writhed, or seemed to, for roots that big don't writhe — unless they're not really roots.
This was the moment when filmmaker/documentarian Jeze Bellefleur lost whatever psychic protection her role as detached photographer afforded her, the moment when fear became palpable, a thing gnawing at her insides and turning her mind cold with brain shivers. But she kept shooting, daunted though she was. Vulnerable to the max and scared shitless.
"God help us," she whispered. "Please God."
A subterranean whisper: Feed the tree.
Then something unseen ripped Skinny Minny's head off her shoulders. Red rain gusted against the camera lens, then quickly diminished to a thin drizzle.
Jeze's impulse was to wipe clean the lens but she let it ride. Let things run. Run down.
Fat Elvis looked like he'd just dropped a load in his pants, and his jowls jiggled as his jaw dropped toward his chest. All shook up and looking to book. Exit, stage right.
From somewhere outside the room that wasn't a room, Ishmael cried, "O Lord!"
* * *
"If I was Catholic, I would've joined a convent as soon as I figured out that the devils had followed me out of that room. I did spend a lot of time hiding out in random churches before I had to come here."
"And how did you figure out that they had followed you?"
"A talking dog told me. Black German Shepherd, fucking Nazi-looking mutt with spiked collar. Don't get your panties in a twist and go thinking Son of Sam's talking-dog bullshit. Those devils can slip into animals and they seem partial to big dogs. That's just the way it is. I don't make the rules or make this shit up."
"And what did the dog say?"
"He said, 'We are with you.'"
"No. I said, 'Are you shitting me?' More to myself than to the dog. And the son of a bitch answered: 'When we shit your soul you will have no doubt of it.'"
As the devils frosted her face with their breath, a Biblical line snaked through Jeze's head: By the envy of the Devil, death came into the world. Fat Elvis had tripped over a root and was now on his knees, beseeching the Lord to save him, please Jesus, but she didn't see how the Devil could possibly envy the likes of this blubbering tub-of-guts with comical muttonchops and greasy hair.
* * *
You have to be morally degraded to make a good nonfiction film. A good film document digs deep, pushes people — the subjects and audience — to the edge and then further to get at the terror throbbing at the center of every living thing. Like the time you were seventeen and shot your old man with your first real movie camera. Your first shot at a real doc. Docu-Dad. You sat him in a raggedy-ass folding lawn chair in front of the bleak cinderblock garage and made him do the one thing he never wanted to do. You made him talk about what he did in the war, particularly at a place the grunts called Devil's Valley. Before it was over, you'd reduced him to a trembling heap of bony meat and you had some fine gut-wrenching footage, a piece of unvarnished oral history of the Vietnam war, what he did to those fucking gooks and what they did to his buddies, to him. There's nothing better than war to bring out your inner demons. That was the hardcore truth of it. And you dug it out of the old man with the rusty knife of your ambition. How could he go on living after that clusterfuck of a war? "Well," he said, "sometimes you can feel God's presence by His absence." When it was done, you were so hyped that you went to your room and fingered yourself until you came like crazy, your delirious cries given cover by hard-rocking death metal banging out of your stereo.
To make a good documentary film, you have to be a coldhearted bitch. You develop a nose for that eternal terror at the center of things, at the very heart of life, and you'll go to any extreme to expose it and nail it to the wall, same as a hunter hangs the heads of his kills on his wall.
* * *
Fat Elvis got off his knees and shed his jumpsuit. His flesh was fish-belly white with warty hairs sprouting in odd places. His dick was the color and size of a boiled shrimp. He muttered prayer-like inanities until he took the first bite of his own flesh, canines and incisors ripping out a big bloody chunk. Then he hummed unmusically as he proceeded to partake of more of the fatty flesh on his right arm, forearm first, then the flabby upper arm, wincing with pain that must've been beyond excruciating, but he went right on feasting on himself, and Jeze knew that he had a devil inside him, driving him to do it. Devil in the driver's seat, burning up the road. His humming rose in pitch as he exposed bone, and it became shrill and unnerving as he gnawed his ulna. When he passed out from blood loss or shock or from overeating or all three, Jeze danced around his body, shooting the carnage from every angle, hoping that the devils would be pleased that she was taking such care in filming their savage handiwork. Then Fat Elvis stopped breathing with a final snorting death rattle. And she thought she glimpsed him hauling dead ass up Ghost Road.
Then she shot Skinny Minny's headless body. Quick photographic study. (Her head had simply disappeared, as if swallowed up by one of the disembodied demons.) Her neck resembled the stump of an unfortunate young tree, and Jeze wondered if trees had souls of a sort. Skinny Minny's pitiful remains made her wonder if humans could actually have anything as sublime and potentially exalted as a soul.
But then something happened that sent spectral fingers slipping into the bottomless depth of Jeze's terror: The gore and goo inside Skinny's neck stump began to move and squish like thick strawberry jam and Jeze realized that one of the devils was fucking the stump.
Before she could flee, they started on her. They didn't stop until they'd fucked her half dead.
* * *
"Have you given any more thought to what these things you call devils, demons and dark guardians might actually be? What they represent?"
She gives him a cold stare. Then: "They don't represent anything, unless you want to see them as representatives of Satan. I think they were there — are here — on their own damned dime. Whether they're fallen angels or demons created out of the fires of hell, I can't say. But sometimes I do think fondly of them as my Bad Angels, my evil guardians. And when they have their way with me, I come so hard I go back to that room with the demon tree and they're doing me again like they did the first time. I told you about that, right?"
"Yes, you did. In explicit detail."
"Talking about it like that makes it more real. When it actually happens it's so freaking bizarre it's unreal. But trust me, it's real. They fuck me in orifices I didn't even know I had and then when they're done with their sick fun, they leave me bleeding from most of them and yet wanting more. It's not your standard love/hate deal. It's more like a love/fear thing. They scare the shit out of me but I can't stop wanting them to fuck the shit out of me. That's why I know I need help. I know I'm sick. Sick in my soul. My only hope is that I sink so deep into sin and degradation that I find a low road to God. That could happen, right? A salvation road could open up in front of me? Jesus never turned his back on whores. No fucking way. He liked to hang out with them. These bad boys put the evil in devil. But Jesus can save me if I can get his attention, right? Huh. I just had an insight, Doc. The only time I'm not scared out of my mind is when they're ravaging me or when they're slaughtering someone right in front of my eyes. It's the in-between times that terrify me and make me want to jump out of my skin. All that wicked anticipation, and I'm walking around with a mean hair-trigger and a come-button hard-on. It's enough to make a girl sex crazy with fear and wild for a devils gangbang."
"Have you considered talking with a clergyman?"
"Been there, done that. Big mistake. I still feel bad about what happened to that priest. The devils bent him over the altar and fucked him sideways and inside-out, literally tore him apart. Then they painted the big golden crucifix with the holy man's blood and shit. And me not even Catholic. Poor bastard. He's probably still in Purgatory, going, 'Jesus Christ, what the hell just happened?'"
Excerpted from Sick Things by Kurt Bachard, Stephanie Bedwell-Grime, Michael Boatman, Randy Chandler Lawrence Conquest, Tim Curran, Ralph Greco Jr., Jeffrey Hale, Harper Hull, Matt Kurtz, Sean Logan, Aaron Polson, Daniel I. Russell, M. Shaw, John Shirley, Fred Venturini, Simon Wood, Cheryl Mullenax. Copyright © 2010 Comet Press. Excerpted by permission of Comet Press.
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