We’re really chuffed that blogger and writer Brian Rella has decided to let us post this short story horror ‘Scarlach’ on Stranger Views. We know a lot of our visitors like the creepy and scary side of literature and we’re sure they will appreciate this.
John Baker is chasing me again.
I run through the woods behind Deighton Park, bobbing and weaving, avoiding brush and tree branches. I feel the rhythmic snap and crackle of leaves and sticks under my falling feat. My heart pounds in my temples, filling my ears. He’s closing in on me and the fear of getting beat up a third time this week is the only thing keeping my weary, ten-year-old body moving.
“You’re dead meat Billy Mason!” John Baker calls from behind me. My lungs burn as I inhale the cold autumn air, but hearing John Baker’s threat, I run harder. I’ve got to make it to the rocky mountains and hide.
The rocky mountains are not the Rocky Mountains. They’re not a mountain at all; they’re a cluster of mossy, grey boulders jutting out of a hill. They seemed pretty big to my seven-year-old eyes, which is how old I was when my best-friend Tommy and me named them that. Lots of kids from our neighborhood used to play there until Cara Conlon disappeared last summer. No one goes up there anymore…unless a maniac 11-year-old is chasing him.
Leaves falling on my right distract me momentarily. Gold, red, and orange leaves sashay to the ground and I swear I can see the outline of a man mirroring me in the twisting and turning falling leaves. I trip over a root, but catch myself before I spill onto the ground. I regain my balance and see the rocky mountains through the trees and saplings. Almost there.
“I’m gonna kick your ass Billy Mason,” John Baker shouts. Come on legs, run! Run!
A branch claws my mouth and I taste blood on my lip. “It’s gonna be worse you keep runnin Billy!” John Baker screams behind me.
I’m at the base of the rocky mountains and I run up the path between the two big boulders, then jump on to the rock face to my right and claw up the incline toward the top. I slip and catch a glimpse behind me. John Baker stares at me, his face contorts in a furious grimace. I never should have fought back. I made it worse and now he’s going to kill me.
I watch him pick up a branch about the size of a baseball bat. “You’re dead meat,” he growls at me. I push my glasses up my nose and race up the rock face to the top, jump down from the boulder, and onto the plateau at the top of the rocky mountains.
Tears form in the corners of my eyes as I frantically search for a place to hide. Don’t cry you wuss! Hide! I can’t find anywhere to hide. I think about running down the backside of the rocky mountains, but my legs are too tired and my only hope is to hide.
Spinning around I see a small space at the base of the big rock I jumped from. I squeeze under the rock and pull leaves and branches from the ground over me for camouflage. I’m about covered when John Baker comes over the top of the rock I’m under. He’s close enough that I can see the Converse star on the back of his sneaker. I hold my breath, trembling.
“I know you’re here Billy,” he shouts. “Come out now and I’ll go easy on you!”
I see the top of the branch John holds and the tears are streaming down my face now as I hold back the sobs that want to break free from chest. He wanders around the area looking for me, the branch swinging around his ankles. Please just leave me alone! Go away, you bastard! Go away!
I see his face through my camouflage and I know he’s going to hurt me bad this time. I know he’s going to teach me a lesson: never fight back. I’m crying silently, shaking, and praying. Someone help me. Please help me… He’s gonna kill me! Someone make him go away, please just go away! Die John Baker! Just die you bastard!
A chill creeps up my spine and long, invisible fingers close on my shoulder. A foul stench reaches my nose and a voice whispers in my head: “I can help you Billy Mason. All you have to do is say my name and pay my price.”
Oh God, what is this!? I’m petrified and can’t move. I’m trapped between this presence on my shoulder and John Baker. I scream at the voice inside my head, “What are you! Go away! Leave me alone!”
“Just say my name and pay my fee, Billy,” the voice wheezes in my head, “I’ll take care of John Baker and leave you alone.” The creature’s name pops into my mind and I’m afraid to say it because I know something bad is going to happen, and I’m afraid, but John Baker is right in front of me and I know he’s going to see me any second and he’s going to hurt me bad and I just want this to be over.
Ok, I’ll say it! I’ll say it! Just leave me alone! It’s name comes out of my mouth in a scream, “SCARLACH!”
John Baker looks startled and hops away from where I’m hiding. He ducks his head down and sees me. There’s nowhere to run so I push myself up out of the leaves and face him.
An evil sneer stretches across John Baker’s face as he brings the branch up and taps it into the palm of his hand. “You’re dead meat Billy Mason,” he hisses and moves toward me.
The presence moves off of my shoulder in a cold wind. The forest floor comes alive as leaves and dirt and sticks and rocks swirl between my tormenter and me, and take the shape of a man.
John Baker stops moving and cocks his head to the side; his eyes go wide. “Dead meat,” Scarlach growls.
From the ground beneath us and from every direction, hundreds of spiders, beetles, fanged centipedes, earthworms, and all manner of creeping, crawling, slithering beasties gather and swarm toward John Baker, their thousands of legs clicking and clattering on the ground. John Baker is frozen, and then his eyebrows arch and he turns to run, but the beasties are all around him.
He takes a step and I hear a crunch, and then squish beneath his foot. Armies of creepers cover his legs, and move up his torso and then his arms and chest. He opens his mouth as if to scream and a horde of crawling things enters his mouth. His hands clutch his neck. I see the brief flash of his pink tongue before the buggers consume his entire head.
He drops to the floor and his arms and legs move under the waves of buggers, but there is no escape for him. His movements slow and finally, cease under the blanket of bugs. The human form on the ground flattens until there is nothing left of him, not even stitch of clothing. The creepers crawl away and I am left staring at where John Baker was and at it – at Scarlach.
Scarlach moves to me and touches my chest. “Now you pay my price,” he growls and I feel a stab of cold in my heart and ice pumps through my veins. I shiver as Scarlach pulls back his hand and something cold leaves my body. In its hand, is a sliver of me; a small, crystalized shard of light from my chest. Scarlach’s eyes glow bright as it brings the shard to its mouth and swallows it.
Scarlach’s head rolls back and it roars up into the sky. The leaves and dirt and sticks burst apart, and flutter to the ground. I am alone, quivering and afraid to move. I sit there until nightfall, clutching my chest, then, finally, I pick myself up and head back down the rocky mountains and back toward home. John Baker won’t bother me up anymore.
Brian Rella is a speculative fiction author who blogs about everything from Star Wars to Starbucks. If you liked this story, or if you want to visit a read some very intelligent and accessible science focussed articles, then you should visit his site.
Thanks again to Brian for letting Stranger Views post his story and we’re looking forward to reading his soon to be published story “The Passing”.