The Gauntlet of Gore is a strange and bloody short story/novella about a competitive school sport where players punch opposing players in the stomach with a powered gauntlet, which makes the person explode.
There is also a pervading supernatural horror element – and some of the creepiest team captains you may ever encounter…
You can find it on Amazon here.
Here is a second extract to read. This extract does not follow on from the prior one.
She ran from the battle.
She ran from her team mates.
She ran from Mike.
‘Sarah!’ she heard the cry behind her, but she didn’t look around; she was too busy jumping fallen branches, ducking and dodging, and putting her screaming legs to the limit as she sprinted through the darkness.
Gotta stay alive, she repeated to herself, and even the disembodied voice in her head was panting the words. Can’t win if I’m dead, it shifted to, and she began to convince herself that this was strategy, and not a cowardly, selfish flight.
The trees clustered in closer, and she slowed, eventually coming to a halt when she could no longer hear any signs of pursuit. She walked among the bones of black trees, feeling sick and empty. She snapped off some broad leaves from a plant and tried to wipe some of the muck off her face.
She had lost all sense of direction. She didn’t know if she was heading back to the field, or deeper into the woods.
It was starting to get cold. While it might be daylight outside, in here it might as well be night. She inspected the trees closely, but she couldn’t see a single camera, and she had a chilling feeling that nobody knew where she was, that she was entirely alone.
The noise was like the creak of a door, or a slowly falling tree, except it wasn’t natural, but came from a mouth. It rose in volume, a harpy screech that seemed to come from every nook and pore of the forest.
‘Who’s there?’ Sarah called out, not caring anymore about revealing her position to another player. She wanted to surrender. She wanted to put her arms up, take her gauntlet off and give herself up.
But she knew that you couldn’t surrender. Not in this game. If you put your arms up, you were dead.
Then someone, something came out from behind a tree, a tree so thin it seemed impossible it could have hidden her, it. The woman was completely naked, pale as death and almost skeletal. Her bones gleamed slightly, with an almost sickly wet pallor. There was nearly no light, but the woman’s popping, owl-ish eyes shone black and white, like polished snooker balls.
The creature was the Stonewaters captain, and she was smiling, impossibly wide and stretched, her rubbery lips coming almost up to her eyeballs. The teeth had come out from the gums, and were now as long as fingers, as thin as twigs and as sharp as stakes.
Sarah couldn’t breathe. Her feet were stuck to the ground. She saw the pale monster reach out her spindly arms, holding them outstretched before her. The fingers, like the teeth, were longer than before, and were growing before her eyes. The fingers came out like a network of roots blossoming in fast forward through the earth. They crept through the air towards her, multiplying in crooked joints with every few inches gained. As they grew, they creaked and rasped.
Sarah screamed then, trailing off in a whimper when she saw the huge eyes light up, as though inner delight fed the torch that burned behind those black-white bulbs.
The creature licked its lips with a slimy black tongue.
‘We took care of the cameras, dearie,’ said the creature in a voice like a saw. ‘Nobody sees when we don’t want them to.’
The two other captains appeared from behind poles of bark to either side of the woman, both as naked, like sharp white stick figures animated out from black line trees.
They were smiling too.
Sarah heard the drone, the sound that had replayed in her head since yesterday, since listening to the captains stood tall and grinning on that stage. That flat buzzing sound that now came from everywhere, came from inside her, trembling like worms in her veins and flies in her guts.
She put her hands over her ears, but the droning, the creaking, the screech of the captains was not muffled. The woman’s fingers had reached her now, tickling her chest and neck. The fingertips curled and tried to hook her, to snag her flesh.
The droning was increasing in volume, and Sarah imagined a brush in her mind, a hard thin broom with fingers for bristles, sweeping away the clutter of her thoughts, sweeping away her horror, slowly leaving her mind’s corridors and halls polished and empty, with only the scrape of fingernails to mark them.
The terror faded, and numbness washed through her. The woman’s groaning fingers tickled her mouth, trying to pry her lips open so they could come inside.
The finger-broom in her mind opened the doors to her memories, and advanced.