Sound the alarm! It’s the first short story post on this blog!
I originally wrote this back in Halloween, but since the rest of my short stories are undergoing some revision I decided to post this one first. This story was inspired by a discussion I had with one of my artist friends and she was inspired by the story to draw a picture, which I have included.
It’d be awesome if you guys could check out here blogs on Tumblr, she’s really cool. Here’s her art blog: http://madness-mind-dark-dreams.tumblr.com/. And here’s her main blog: http://madness-mind-twisted-obsessions.tumblr.com/
Please remember to source me and/or her if you repost or reblog any of our stuff. Don’t be afraid to tell me what you think of this tale in the comments. Now without further ado, I hope you enjoy the story!
“So as you can see, the lining protects the stomach from its own gastric fluids.”
Aileen barely paid any attention as her professor sketched anatomical drawings on the whiteboard. In her seat at the back of the room, she doodled in her notebook. Most people would say that drawing in the middle of class wasn’t conducive to learning, but she’d found it helped her absorb the information better than if she tried to focus on writing down what she was being told. It was kind of like those CDs that you’re supposed to listen to while sleeping. The information just kind of seeped in while drifting along.
Right now, she was drawing a smiling mouth full of razor sharp teeth. This was actually the fourth mouth she’d drawn this class period and the second with teeth for shredding. She’d been drawing a lot of mouths and teeth recently. Maybe it was the Halloween spirit getting to her, but body horror art had been what her hand had drawn every time she was in the zone.
She was pulled out of said zone by the sounds of college students eagerly leaving the last class of Friday. Quickly, Aileen packed away her own notebook and pencil bags into her backpack. Hopefully the professor hadn’t seen her doodling.
Back in her dorm room, she dropped her bags in her desk chair and flopped onto her bed with a sigh. She glanced at her alarm clock. 4:30pm? Plenty of time to take a nap before dinner. Aileen kicked off her shoes and closed her eyes, drifting into a shallow sleep.
Two hours later, she was pulled out of her slumber by the sound of her roommate, Nella, opening the door to their room.
“Wakey Wakey Aileen!” she sang.
“Hey,” Aileen mumbled groggily, sitting up and rubbing her eyes. Something from the clutter of her dreams nagged at the back of her mind. A fuzzy recollection of some shadowy and a squid? “What’s up?”
“Samson’s having a party tonight in his dorm. Wanna head over there and check it out after dinner?”
Samson? Her sleep addled brain couldn’t place the name at first, but it sounded wrong. Then she remembered. Samson was Nella’s older sister’s boyfriend’s roommate. He was famous across campus for his parties. Aileen—like the introvert she was—usually avoided college parties like the plague. But tonight, she felt a restless and adventurous. Besides, her mom had encouraged her to go to at least one party during her years at the university. Saying it was part of the “full college experience.”
“Sure,” she said, grabbing her keys. “Let me just freshen up a bit first.”
Aileen trudged across the campus green. Going to that party had been a bad idea. So many sweaty people crowded into such a tiny space was enough to turn anyone claustrophobic. It didn’t help that a bunch of dudes on a couch in one corner had been passing round a hookah which filled the already stifling air with sickly sweet smoke. She’d been pretty much smooshed against one wall for nearly an hour until she managed to finally slip out. Of course, as she was exiting the party, she accidentally got a face full of smoke from who knows what drug. She didn’t exactly pause to find out.
Now she just wanted to get back to her dorm, shower, maybe chat with her friends a bit online, and head to bed so she could sleep in her cocoon of blankets till noon.
Night had fallen fast today and the crisp autumn air was soothing against her skin after being pressed against so many people and helped clear her head of the dizziness that had come from the smoke to the face. The light posts scattered around campus afforded plenty of light to navigate by without being too blindingly bright.
It was as she was passing under one of these light posts that a figure stepped in front of her path. She froze. The person had seemingly appeared from nowhere and stood just beyond the reach of the light. Only its silhouette and black boots—just barely within the light—were visible. She assumed it was a man, since the person had very broad shoulders underneath a long trench coat and a square jawline below the fedora pulled low over his face. He was nearly seven feet tall and all the sounds of the night had quieted when he appeared. Aileen slipped her hands into her pocket and gripped the small can of mace she always remembered to bring if she was going to be out past dark.
“C-can I help you?” she asked.
The man seemed to hesitate, but it was hard to tell. Finally, he spoke with a clear, deep voice that reminded her of a large church bell. “You need to be careful. You are in danger from something you can’t understand.”
“Uh-huh,” she said carefully, trying to shuffle around the man. He was obviously crazy. “Listen, I don’t want any trouble…”
“Then you should stop letting your daydreams guide your art,” he interrupted. “You may end up losing a part of yourself.”
“How do you…?” Anger flared in her core and she yanked out the can of mace, pointing it at his face. “Listen here bucko, I have a can of pepper spray and I’m not afraid to use it. So just mind your own business and leave.”
He lunged forward into the light, grabbed her wrist, and pulled it down with iron strength. Aileen’s scream died in her throat as she stared at the man’s face, or rather his lack of a face.
The man was entirely black, not African-American black but totally, completely black. An onyx at midnight in a cave could not have been as black as this man’s skin and clothes. Looking at any part of him felt like standing at the lip of a bottomless pit and having his “face” this close was paramount to standing inches from a black hole. He had no eyes, no nose, no mouth, no ears, no anything on his head. It was a square-jawed obsidian bust that had never had its features sculpted.
“Sansh’n ‘lglith guides the hand,” he somehow recited without a mouth. “Snash’n ‘lglith dyes it red. Sansh’n ‘lglith blinds the eye, Sansh’n ‘lglith eats all kinds. Sansh’n ‘lglith sleeps awake, Sansh’n ‘lglith never sates.”
That name, Sansh’n ‘lglith, seemed to strike her very soul every time it was repeated. A hammer and chisel carving into her sternum would have shaken her less. She felt the ground beneath her swaying like the deck of a ship and the world itself began to whisper. Her breath couldn’t get enough air into her lungs and she felt like she might faint.
Finally getting her voice back, Aileen screamed and yanked her hand back, pressing the top of the mace can and spraying wildly as she thrashed.
She didn’t break free, the man let her go. She stumbled out of his grip and bolted across campus to her dorm. She glanced back once to see the impossibly black figure looking after her from under the rays of the light post, a silhouette under full light. She turned away and ran like the hounds of hell were after her.
Aileen burst into her dorm and slammed the door firmly shut. She leaned against the wall and took deep breaths. It was several minutes before she stopped shivering uncontrollably.
Her first thought was to call the police, but the man had probably already run away. Besides, how could she explain what he looked like without them assuming she’d been taking mushrooms or throwing her in an insane asylum. As far as she could see, the only option would be to report the case to the main office, which didn’t open till eight o’clock tomorrow. Then she’d get herself some counseling sessions and try to figure out what had made her hallucinate like that.
Maybe it’d been something in the smoke. Since she had no idea what she’d accidentally inhaled at the party, how could she trust her own senses? Maybe the beer fumes had affected her? Had she been getting enough sleep?
Sleep sounded good, but she was still too shaken to even think of closing her eyes. She needed something to relax her nerves.
Sitting at her desk, she pulled out her drawing pad and pencils. Letting her daydreams take over as she doodled always worked to calm her down whenever she felt high-strung. She was definitely high-strung right now.
Aileen brushed her pencil lead over the paper a few times to start the beginnings of a shape. Immediately her quavering heart returned to a steadier beat. She let her subconscious take over and guide her hand.
Soon, she’d finished the first draft of the piece. Her breathing had returned to normal, her heartbeats steadied fully, the hairs on the back of her neck had laid back down, and her shivers had dissipated completely. Finally, she allowed herself to see what she’d been drawing.
The piece was a stylized self-portrait in modeled after angular manga character designs. It was what Aileen often wished she looked like. Long black hair hung in a stylishly messy way down to her mid-back. Her brown eyes were big and full of playful mischief. Casual but eye-catching black clothes covered her slender but strong body. She’d made several anime self-portraits of herself and her friends before, but there was something odd about this one.
In the picture, she’d drawn her left arm raised in a way so that her hand covered her mouth with the palm facing out. She didn’t remember drawing it like that and it looked wrong somehow. It wasn’t uncommon for her to draw certain body parts covering others. Many artists did this so they didn’t have to draw those limbs or features. The most common was when she and others drew long bangs covering one side of the face so there would be a struggle in drawing two identical eyes.
However, the one thing she’d never done was cover up a character’s mouth, unless it was an intentional design decision. She’d never had problems drawing mouths or teeth, so she’d never had to resort to tricking an audience.
Still not liking how the hand covering her mouth looked, she suddenly had an idea. Sketching a few more lines, she drew a mouth with pointy teeth on the palm of her drawing’s hand. It created a nice bit of body horror.
Inspired now, Aileen started drawing more mouths on her manga self. If she was going with some body horror, she might as well go all out.
Her right hand drew up a frenzy of mouths and fangs. One on each knee, a couple along her shins and thighs. Another few down the inside of her left arm and one on either shoulder. It was turning into a nice piece for the Halloween season.
She was about to start another mouth over her stomach to create a sense of gluttony when she used her left hand to adjust the paper and hold down one edge. There was a wetness along that part of the paper, which broke her out of her sketching trance. Frowning, she lifted her hand from the paper.
The paper beneath her hand had been stained red along the top left corner. How had that gotten there?
At that moment she heard the door to her dorm room opening behind her followed by her roommate’s slightly tipsy laughter. Suddenly the laughter changed into an earsplitting scream.
Aileen leapt out of her seat and promptly collapsed to the floor. She barely heard her own shrieks over the pain that lanced up her legs. Her head hit the ground hard and spots danced in front of her eyes.
Yet, past the pain and spotty vision, she could see her left palm, open toward her face where it had fallen with her. She couldn’t process what she was seeing at first, all she saw was a red oval. However, as her vision cleared, she saw that a chunk of flesh and muscle was missing from her hand, blood flowing freely.
Her stomach lurched at the gruesome sight and tears began to flow freely.
Cruel curiosity took hold and she looked at the rest of her left arm. The inside of the appendage was covered in similar wounds, each looking as if a cannibal had taken large bites out of her flesh.
Aileen’s heart pounded in her ears. She barely registered the fact that Nella was kneeling next to her calling 911 or that a crowd was gathering in the doorway to her dorm. These wounds were all exactly where she’d drawn the mouths on her self-portrait, but that was impossible.
Pleading to every force in the universe, she looked down at her legs. Or—as she saw—what remained of her legs.
Swiss cheese didn’t have as many holes as what had once been her legs. An entire range of ovular chunks had been torn from her thighs and shins. All that was left were grotesque pieces of muscle, sinew, and flesh that could have been pulled from a surrealist sculpture gallery. Tatters of what had been her jeans did little to cover the gore and were nearly soaked through with the blood pouring from her exposed veins.
Aileen wanted to scream, but her mind seemed to have forgotten how to. Her vision blurred again and the world spun like a circular saw. Her thoughts, her vision, her everything faded to black.
Sansh’n ‘lglith guides the hand
Sansh’n ‘lglith dyes it red
Sansh’n ‘lglith blinds the eye
Sansh’n ‘lglith eats all kinds
Sansh’n ‘lglith sleeps awake
Sansh’n ‘lglith never sates