I think the best horror stories come from those hell-visions that flash through your head in an instant, when you spot something not quite right.

You reach for your shoe. The laces shift, or the tongue flops down, and you see something vanish inside. It’s a shadow. It’s a spider. It’s a fibre-thin worm with a long, skinny snout. It’ll crawl under your toenail and into your bloodstream, all the way to your brain. It’ll give birth in there, and its squirming, sentient brood will take your body for a walk.

There’s a crack in your ceiling. A hundred thousand dermestid beetles live in it. One day, you’ll die, and they’ll drop down and eat you. They’ll eat you so fast you won’t have time to stink. Your skeleton will preside over the remains of your life till the sea swallows the earth.

Your TV’s stuck between channels. You’ve got the news on one end, Gordon Ramsay on the other. He’s making beef Wellington. He’s tenderising the meat. And it’s human flesh…and they’re sentient, the zombies. They look like us, and they’re everywhere, and we’re—

You wake up. There’s a bird on your foot, must’ve come in the window. And it’s pulled out your toenails, all ten of them, and you’re looking at raw flesh, beads of blood, naked nailbeds—aw, fuck, no!

You punch a motherfucker in the face. His tooth gouges your knuckle. And he infects you with some, like…some high-octane space gangrene, and you rot from hand to jaw. They sedate you. You don’t feel yourself die. But after you’re gone comes the true horror, the indignity that cements your place in history: the bug eats through your spine and its soft nervous centre. When the coroner lifts your body, your head falls off.

You hear one of those, ah…that tidy, chitinous tap, when a bug hits your window. It’s a small sound, but distinct. Nothing else sounds quite like it. Still, you don’t even look, ’cause a bug, yeah, who cares? A few seconds later, you hear it again. And again. This time, you check it out. It’s a horsefly. No, two horseflies. No—a great, meaty welter of them, battering and battering and battering, and they can’t get in; of course they can’t—but they do. You laugh. It’s a dream. It has to be: millions, no, billions of horseflies, shattering your windows like sugar glass. You fall back on the bed and pull the covers over your head. They swarm in and bite you to death. Your last thought is why?

You check out your symptoms on WebMD. This time, it is cancer.

(Sorry about that last one. That was more of a—a, man, fuck WebMD.)

I wish Stephen King would go back to writing horror, and not all those detective books. I mean, I shouldn’t—there’s better horror out there. I don’t have to buy everything he writes. But I’m chasing that Cujo feeling. That was the first horrorbook I read, unless you count, y’know, scary sci-fi…and I loathed it. That dog, shit…I hated it so much I stuffed the book under my mattress. And then I dug it out again, and I read all night, ’cause I had to get past the horrible bit. I had to do that, or I wouldn’t sleep. It was brilliant. And I was ten. And I know I can’t have that at forty, that same sort of ghoul-tickle…but I want it so much.

I’d like a job writing horror. I keep getting sci-fi and romance*. And then the shivers creep in, like…around the edges. Wee visceral bits. Flights of fancy, one sentence or less.

At any rate, I didn’t get that bubble tea, yesterday—I did feel sick. And I still do, today, so I reckon I’ll lie down. Maybe the Cryptkeeper’ll spin me a dream.

* Yep. Romance. Me. I’m not terrible at it.

4 thoughts on “Fear

  1. The toenail snatching bird made me wince. You are really good at this horror thing. And I accidentally read “giant bot flies” instead of “horse flies” at first… :/ There were horse flies in the village I’ve visited in Russia last summer. They WERE huge, and zoomed around with a sharp, menacing buzz. And they were everywhere. You were guaranteed to get stung multiple times. And they still register as a good memory because everything else was amazing.

    I still get the ghoul-shivers from reading about the things like the Dyatlov pass incident at four in the morning (although I realise that it’s mostly a creepypasta). Being sleep deprived and susceptible to flights of fancy helps.

    Hope you’ll feel better by tomorrow and get that bubble tea. ❤


    1. Yeah, sorry about that. Anything with nail-extraction…it’s sort of low-hanging fruit, isn’t it? Everyone gets the crawlies for that. (But that IS what popped into my head, last time I woke up with a sparrow on my foot.)

      Also, GIANT BOTFLIES, my God! Why didn’t I think of that? That’s about a million times worse than horseflies. Ew, ew, ew, ew, ew, ew, ew, and a million times…ew. (I really hate horseflies, too, though. They’re just so big and bulky. Squashing them is one of the most disgusting things ever: the sound, the feel, the squelch of it all.)

      By the way, I LOVE a good creepypasta. Have you seen that one about the cave? Let me see if I can find the link. Ah, here we go: http://www.angelfire.com/trek/caver/page1.html (As you can see from the URL, it’s waaaaaaay old. And I last read it in the 90s, so it might not be as creepy as I remember it being…but at the time, I was pretty rattled.)

      Still haven’t felt up to that bubble tea, but you know, I might order some today, anyway. I don’t have to drink ALL of it. Just half would be fine.


      1. That is a good creepypasta, although he stops right when things get really interesting. Of course it’s much more difficult to keep up the tension once the threat becomes definite. I remember reading another one about a cave (it was in one of those “tell an inexplicable, creepy thing that really happened to you” threads on reddit), where the teller had a recurring nightmare about descending into a cave, and going around a bend, and coming out into a large space where they see their family tortured by weird mutated creatures… So, of course, at some point later they go caving with a cousin, and it’s THAT cave, and it’s THAT bend, just like in the dream (they even provided a Google Earth link to a specific cave). They freak out in a big way, and convince their cousin not to go further beyond that bend and hightail it out of the cave. And after that incident the nightmare stops recurring, and that’s that. What made it especially creepy was just the right amount of detailed description of the cave’s interior, and at the same time the sense that the teller wasn’t going out of their way to try and scare you. It was told very plainly and matter of factly, and nothing supernatural per se actually happened in it, which elevated it into the realm of “who knows, maybe it’s real”. …Or maybe they watched “The Descent” one time too many.

        Did you fall asleep outside to wake up with a sparrow on your foot or did it, like, fly in through an open window? This is important information… 😶 I have friends whose room gets periodically invaded by a myna. It doesn’t do much, it just sits on a wardrobe and judgmentally observes them from above (no, it doesn’t utter “nevermore” or other cryptically ominous phrases… What would mynas say anyway? Probably tiny judgmental “hm”s, like a dissappointed schoolmistress). And you have way morbid associations with sparrows, they’re easily the friendliest bird you could imagine, they wouldn’t steal toenails (ok, appearances can be deceiving… But that would be a particularly cruel instance).

        I’ve just made tea out of sage, black tea, and one of those fruity teabags you get from eastern Europe which combine raspberry, rosehip and other such flavours (all plus honey and lemon). I don’t know how that compares to bubble tea, but it’s pretty good.


        1. I think that was supposed to be the creepy part: he discovers something genuinely disconcerting, goes back to investigate further, and is never heard from again. You know what would be brilliant, though? If he gave the password for his website to his kid, with instructions to pass it on to HIS kid, and then, 100 years later, the grandchild could finish the story as if only a day or two had passed, for him. I mean, Angelfire probably won’t still be around in 100 years, but it’s a nice thought….

          You’re right, though. What you DON’T know is always way creepier than what you DO know. That’s why I lost interest after the first season of “Lost.” Once you start finding out what’s going on, the story falls flat. I mean, I know some people still liked it, but for me, it was like they yanked a good series out from under my feet, and replaced it with run-of-the-mill science-fantasy.

          I love those Reddit “let’s creep each other out” threads. The /nosleep sub is mostly shite, but the normal-people-sharing-creepy-stories threads always have some brilliant moments.

          As for the sparrow, that came in the window–back at my old place, before the landlord banned feeders, I had mine right outside the window. Every once in a while, I’d wake up to find sparrows in my bed. They’d go back out the minute I opened my eyes, of course, but I think they were having little sparrow parties while I slept. Once, I did, indeed, find one on my foot. But it didn’t pull out my toenails. That would be more something you’d expect from a great tit. Those are some aggressive little birds.

          I think mynas CAN talk. I have a distinct memory of seeing one in a zoo, once–it kept calling me a naughty boy. So, yeah, that’s what a myna would say: “you’re a naughty boy.” Now, you know.

          Your tea sounds delicious. I did order bubble tea yesterday, but they put cream in it (which I didn’t ask for), so I couldn’t drink it. I didn’t want to get ill from the lactose. Very, very disappointing.


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