Just in time for the Featured Fiction deadline, I blasted out this bizarre little tale, written in two completely different mental-emotional states. I decided to take the “horror” theme a bit out of context, yet again. But unlike my last one, I made less of a pun of things and instead chose to turn the whole concept into a metaphor. Having morphed a small familial gathering to an encounter with monsters and demons… well, right about now I’m just giving away stuff in the actual story. So let’s just get right down to the story!
Oh, whoops, I made a pun anyway. Because the story is… you know. Down there. As in underneath this text.
I’ll just show myself out now.
Word Count: 1,744
The walls trembled and shook with the force of the blast.
“Jan, could you please try to shut the door like a human being?” I said.
Aunt Jan only grunted as she gave the door one last cautionary kick, just to make sure it was closed. Incidentally, said kick also allowed her high leather boots to leave a noticeable mud mark on the door’s light wood. I made a mental note to clean that up later. That was, after I got through mopping up all of the body parts from this evening’s familial ritual.
“Honestly,” my wife muttered, “she moves through the house like she’s some kind of monster.”
Watching Aunt Jan through her weight down the hall, occasionally knocking the wall with some of her loosely-hanging luggage, I had to agree. It was like watching a bear try to navigate a tube covered with liquid butter.
“Don’t shut the door on me like that, you crazy old bat,” roared the next beast to enter. His voice was loud enough to hear through the door, as if he had already broken it down and was shouting right into our ears. Uncle Titus rammed the door open with his shoulder after turning the knob just enough so the door wouldn’t be blasted off its hinges.
Unlike his portly wife, Titus lived up to his intimidatingly Roman name. A fire out of hell burned in his vibrant green eyes and his body, despite his advancing age, was sculpted like a statue. He probably could have torn the heads off of everybody in the house. He probably wanted to, too, if the redness that swallowed his normally-tan complexion was anything to go by.
I gave my life a look- a kind of look that begged for divine intervention to reduce our home to ruins with one climactic blast of light. She returned it in kind. But then we both nodded. God probably wouldn’t waste good lightning bolts on such small fries. My wife and I were becoming professional monster hunters at this rate anyway- we had already had my parents over last weekend and my wife’s two deadbeat brothers the weekend before. They all had come and gone with minimal bloodshed and property damage.
Sure, some bodily damage by way of hoarse and gritty throats was incurred and the damage to emotional quotients for all people could not be accounted for. But one didn’t fight monsters without incurring some wounds. What could they do to us that we haven’t seen before? I thought. Then my ears perked up as they heard the gentle river of sound from the kitchen.
As my wife and I approached, the night dark around us aside from the singular (and tastefully placed, I might add) overhead light, the river of voices grew into a frothy shoreline. And after that, an ocean bearing a hurricane as its child. From beyond the expensive Victorian-style door, I could hear the monsters in the other room- they growled and snapped at each other, trading insults in an almost ballet fashion. I had to admit, there was something strangely (and frighteningly) beautiful about how arguments between two sentient creatures could be so scathing and yet so rehearsed-sounding.
Clearly, these two beasts made it more of a habit to fight and claw at each other than we were originally told. Like an ancient prophecy out of some long-forgotten dark era my parents shared with my wife and me some very cryptic advice. They were just leaving our charming, new, well-kept home last weekend when they both turned and said, “Don’t let them get near each other. There are just some things in this universe that should never interact for any length of time. They might not hear their hissing and growling anymore, but you will. They’ll open a door they never knew existed and come flooding into this mortal realm.”
At the time, I just thought that both of them had been reading too much H.P. Lovecraft.
But now, I can see that I hadn’t read enough of him. Maybe he would have included some kind of ancient ritual or ward to help defend against these cosmic horrors which were laying down their brood nests in our kitchen. I think I heard one of our new stainless steel pans clatter to the ground. I knew I should have put it away- I just liked to keep it sitting empty on our electric range. It gave the room a homey “in-progress” kind of feel. Evidently, our resident cosmic horrors didn’t think the same.
My wife put her hand on the door, obviously just as concerned about the well-being of our room as I was. I took hold of her hand and shook my head.
“Whatever they’re jabbering about in there, I don’t think we should go and get into the middle of it,” I whispered. “The room will survive whatever they throw at it. Unless they start spitting acid from their secret appendages.” After saying it out loud and hearing the growls and moans from the kitchen grow louder and more bestial, the idea didn’t even sound very farfetched to me.
My wife chuckled. She always managed to find the time and the voice to laugh, even in as grim a situation as this. Even so, I could feel her heart beating quickly. I could feel mine beating just as quickly as well. “Whatever mess they make, you’re cleaning up,” she said.
I nodded. Just because my wife and I were getting better at fighting our familiar monsters born from hell doesn’t mean that I necessarily enjoyed it. If we could avoid whipping out our honed weapons of words and messing up our new kitchen tiles, that would be all the better. I don’t think that characters like Wander or Charles Dexter Ward ever enjoyed the destiny they were thrust into- fighting horrible creatures for their very lives.
Then again, I thought, those are fictional characters with fictional monsters. These are real life monsters. I can’t help but think that they’re different.
A sharp crash jam jar lid slid quietly beneath the door. It was coated with a thick, vicious red liquid. The darkness of the antechamber and atmospheric light provided by the bulb overhead made the jelly look darker than it did. The fighting was intensifying in the next room- I wonder who had bled first and what else their conflict claimed aside from our jam jar.
“We have a shotgun in the basement,” I whispered to my wife.
She fanned me away with my hand. “Not yet,” she said with a slight smirk.
I couldn’t tell if that was a smirk of sarcasm or a smirk of late-onset bloodlust. I also couldn’t tell which one I would be happier to see.
The yelling from the kitchen was becoming steadily more incomprehensible. I had once heard that in some situations of extreme diress, regular people had been known to speak in strange, alien tongues. Most whole believed those stories probably thought that a demon was speaking through the person. I, on the other hand, was starting to believe that the sudden onset of alien tongues wasn’t from demons possessing or speaking through people- it came straight from people who were demons.
As if serving as punctuation to the whirlwind of tongues and teeth coming from the demon-monsters in our kitchen, the sharp crashes and blunt thumps were increasing in regularity.
“Shotgun,” I whispered again.
“What if you miss?” my wife asked. “You’ll do more damage than they ever could.”
“Give them time,” I said. “They could probably turn Everest into pebbles after long enough.”
My wife nodded, trying to peak through the crack in the door. “I thought they were coming here to get away from their lives for a little bit. You know, just relax and take things down a notch.”
“Maybe this is just part of the healing process.”
“If this is the healing process, I don’t want to know what the wounding process looks like.”
“Maybe that’s why they’re really here, I suggested. Maybe the last ‘wounding process’ left their house as a crater.”
“Their house was a tacky mess,” my wife said with a sarcastic smile.
“And ours isn’t,” I said in a slightly more serious tone.
“It won’t become a crater,” my wife said, still trying to crane her head to peer through the crack.
Something heavy and expensive hit the floor hard but it didn’t sound like it broke. In fact, it could have been either Aunt Jan or Uncle Titus. But then the tongues and roaring just continued again in the same force as before.
“This is getting out of hand. He’s your uncle,” my wife said accusatorily.
“He’s also a giant muscular man who could probably punch out a bear.”
“At least deal with his wife,” my wife muttered. “Maybe that’ll calm him down. Maybe he only gets angry when she is- like she’s his seal that keeps him in check or something.”
“Wishful thinking,” I groaned. “Maybe if she’d stop insisting we call her Aunt Jan, that might help. It’s kinda creepy. I know it’s been bugging Titus for years.”
“Then start with that,” she said, putting her hand on my shoulder and slowly pushing me towards the door.
“Hey wait,” I said, digging my heels into the ground. “What are you going to be doing?”
“While you district them, I’m going to put our kitchen back together.”
As it the universe was listening (and also hated me), I heard a particularly low and throaty violent growl from the other side of the door. I could very well be walking into a battlefield between two homicidal monsters, the jowls and jaws on each one gnashing and slobbering on each word. In fact, I almost certainly was.
I sighed and rolled my shoulders, trying to shake off the top layer of anxiety and nervousness that coated most of my being. If it worked, I didn’t really notice it. Either way, I put my hand on the door. I’ve fought monsters before, I told myself again. And now, I’ve got something in particular to protect. I started to push open the door and the roaring from within became inquisitive growls, like the monsters were seeing a meal walk right into their new lair. I couldn’t’ blame them for thinking that.
I just hope they don’t get my blood all over the good china, I thought and pushed the door fully open.
The police later found the homeowners body, mutilated and torn to shreds as if he had been thrown into a wood-chipper.
Nah, probably not.
And oh hey, I actually wrote underneath 2,000 words this time! And it was intentional- I didn’t just run out of things to say. How queer!
Good luck, you brave writer folk!