Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk Here is the fifth little part of the hallucinogenic road thriller/horror The Violet Dark, following directly on from Part 5. You can buy the full novella for mere pennies/cents/whatever on Amazon, or as part of the short story collection Faces in the Dark.
He turned, yelling ‘RUN!’ at her, and as he turned like a circus ride the blot in the grass reached up with a scabbed whip and pulled at his ankle. He lurched at the ground like a coffin-body tipped and evicted. It struck his chin and he suddenly, face in grass, felt coddled by a burrow of ant-things, a swarm of nests gathering up the tangles of his facial hair and tying them to posts, them to ensnare him here like some Gulliver.
Pain bruised its way through his chin, carried up the lines of his jaw by a new postal service of ant-things, the old nervous system left hammered and purged. All innocent backs to the wall.
He was spun by a powerful force, and the galaxy of his vision was inflicted by horror, by a famine of good things and a desolation of ugliness laid bare.
He had only come so close to the face – was it their face? Was it one of many? – about seven times. Seven times seen that black grinning, garing maw, that boiled, pustulous sea. Always at night. In the doomy dive-bar depths of the violet dark. Treasury chest of nightmares.
He shoved with all his ancestral might and the stormcloud crouched over him like a lightless wolf alighted, pulled back by the hem of its neck, its soul’s nametag, by a hand from above only ever visible as forceless void.
Its snout vomited some gurlish possessed dribble, then shrunk back into the huddle of features; the draws, cabinets and chairs that sat, circled and silent in the gloom of the gaunt attic-space of the devil. The door open wide, a cold usher to the wordless guests of the dead.
He realised the shadow was crunched, almost doubled. It was hurt.
He looked around, sweeping the treeline over the road with shipdeck vision. He saw her, running off into where his gaze could not follow. The violet dark between the trees.
He followed on foot, as fast as he could. He realised in slow-motion catch-up, an inside runner huffing to the delivery post to give the updated news, that he had left the shotgun.
He turned and saw that right behind him was the shadow, and suddenly the shotgun was in his hand after all, it was part of him all along, and he raised his hand like the fiery finger of God’s wrath and he squeezed the trigger and the head of the thing – was it a head? Was it one of many? – fell off.
She loped through the air like a moonwalker, drifting in terror. It was the fastest her body could agree with her on. She could see next to nothing. Clasped in the bosom of the wood. She stopped, a second-guess, a moment’s premeditation. An image of a sawn-off shotgun.
The sound almost raised the graveful bowels of Hell.
She crawled through an orchard of thorns. The twisting claws of the undergrowth. She heard thudding all around, and incoherent screams and warcries. Footsteps of the hunter.
The plants bled together, caught up in this passing storm.
The plants blood blood of the plants my blood
Focus you fucking bitch whore cunt
Your life depends on it. The barrel of thought rolled into her, and things jammered a little clearer.
Quiet now. Remember the cats – move like them.
She stood up and turned right into him.
Her. After a moment of abject panic, the second before the storm, he saw her for who she was. He knew that light in the world.
He gathered her up in his arms.
A bear risen out of the swampy darkness and she wrapped in a bear-hug.
Canoes slit through soft, thin bayous on either side of her. In scared, bewildered embrace.
Into the heart of things.
‘What was it?’
‘I call them shadows.’
‘You’ve seen one before?!’
‘Oh, yes. All the time.’