Bucket (of Blood) List – 10 horror films to see before you die

Life is short. So many horror films – so little time. Quite the predickelment. “Hey” you say – is that even a word? No. But who has time for things like grammar, linguistics and etymology – we’ve got things like vampires, zombies and demons to discuss. And movies to watch. Lotsa movies.

I think many would agree that the films listed below are true classics of the genre – so there’s a good chance you’ve seen them all already. But if there are any films on this list you haven’t seen – I’d say sit your horror-film-lovin’ carcass down, right now, and start a watchin’.

Dracula (1931)

Dracula“Listen to dem…children of de night…vhat music dey make.” Iconic lines delivered in the unmistakable voice of the actor who, to this day, is the definitive blood-sucker – the most Dracula-ist of all Draculas – Bela Lugosi. It’s like, how much more Drac could he be? The answer is none. None more Drac. Yes, the film Nosferatu, was released a full 9 years earlier, and is certainly a classic in it’s own right, but Tod Brownings’ Dracula laid the unhallowed groundwork for countless vampire flicks to come.

Psycho (1960)

Psycho

Girl steals money from work, leaves town, and finds an off-the-beaten-path hotel for an overnight stay. Good set up for any standard horror/suspense film, but this film is so masterfully crafted that even those who are not fans of the genre should be thoroughly entertained. And, of course, it contains one of the best-known (and most studied) 45 seconds of film in the history of cinema – the shower scene (“Mother! Oh God, mother! Blood! Blood!”). It’s unarguably among Alfred Hitchcock’s best films. If you need more convincing – the American Film Institute lists it as #14 on their list of the 100 greatest films of all time.

 Carnival of Souls (1962)

CarnivalOfSoulsOK, I’m not great with math, but I think the “equation” for this film would be something like: creepy + creepy, divided by low budget + more creepy = creepy to the 10th power. What I’m trying to say this movie is…creepy. The slow pacing, extremely low production values and amateurish acting (other than from our lead – Candace Hilligoss – who’s performance is dead on) may, at points, distract, but overall add to the pervasive feeling of unease. The story of a woman who has a series of strange experiences after a car accident gets an “A” for atmosphere. Director Herk Harvey’s one and only feature film will haunt you long after the carnival has left town.

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

NightOfTheLivingDeadThe dead were born right here; a horror sub genre started with this film. There were other zombie films before this, but the earlier films lurked somewhere a bit closer to reality – The Cabinet of Dr. Caligiri (1920) dealt with hypnotism, and White Zombie (1932) was a tale of voodoo. It was director George Romero, who truly defined the zombie as we know it – the shuffling, rotting dead, with a big appetite for life.
Night of the Living Dead trailer


Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

RosemaryThe story of a pregnant woman (Mia Farrow) who fears that everyone around her intends to harm her unborn child. Roman Polanski’s cinematic adaptation of Ira Levin’s novel was a critical (an Oscar for best supporting actress – Ruth Gordon) and commercial success. But its biggest success may be the powerful and paralyzing sense of pure paranoia that permeates the picture.
Rosemary’s Baby Trailer

 

The Exorcist (1973)

ExorcistThe first horror film to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture (it lost in that category, but won Best Adapted Screenplay), also finds itself first on many “greatest horror films of all time” lists, and with good reason. The story, of a girl possessed by the devil and a priest whose faith is fading, contains plenty of intense moments and genuine scares. One or two of the special effects may not quite hold up fully to today’s standards, but overall the make-up (by Dick Smith) is incredible, and the scenes of Reagan in full-on-possession mode (her scarred face spewing split-pea-soup-coated profanities) will find a permanent residence in your brain.
The Exorcist trailer

The Omen (1976)Omen

Richard Donner directs old-school Hollywood stars Gregory Peck and Lee Remick in this story of a diplomat and his wife who become the foster parents to the antichrist. This terrifying tale of a terror-inducing tyke on a tricycle, with it’s creative death scenes and Oscar-winning score by Jerry Goldsmith (perhaps the best horror soundtrack ever), put this way out in front of most other spawn-of-Satan flicks.

Dawn of the Dead (1978)

DawnoftheDeadRomero’s sequel to Night of the Living Dead successfully mixes horror with a healthy dose of social satire. But what really makes this flick so much fun are the “fantasy” elements that speak to the 12-year-old in all of us: living in a shopping mall, having an arsenal of weapons and an endless supply of slow moving targets, being among the last people on earth, etc. Throw in loads of comic-book-style gore and you’ve got yourself a bloody good time.
Dawn of the Dead trailer

The Shining (1980)

ShiningStanley Kubrick’s meticulous direction, Jack Nicholson’s tour-de-force performance, and Stephen Kings’ finely crafted novel (about a family who spend a winter as caretakers of a remote, haunted resort) combine for a perfect trifecta of terror. While, at times, the over-the-top sense of drama may bring some unintended humor, overall, Kubrick’s unique interpretation of the source material, the film’s poetic cinematography, and the evocative, intensely effective score, make the film truly hypnotic.

It’s a mesmerizing psychological study of the disintegration of a family – and a spooky, brilliant mood piece.
The Shining trailer

The Evil Dead (1981)

EvilDeadA group of college friends, off in a cabin in the woods, find the Necronomicon (a book of the dead), and high-octane-horror hijinx ensue. Sam Raimi’s generous use of blood and gore and high-energy camera work make for a wonderfully messy thrill ride of a movie. Filming some of the gore scenes in stop-motion animation gives the film an extra feeling of the bizarre. The love of the genre and the pure joy of movie-making are evident in every scene of this low-budget, frantic fright fest.

Author Stephen King’s quote says it all:
“The most ferociously original horror film of the year.”
Evil Dead trailer

Jeeze, that’s 10 already, and we’re only up to 1981. Lots more good stuff beyond that…but I guess that’ll be for another list, another time….assuming we don’t kick the bucket between now and then…

-S. Blood

NAUGHTY


“No daddy!”  she protested.  “I’m scared of the elf.  He comes to life at night and he has those glowing red eyes!”

“Sweetie, he’s not evil, he’s just one of Santa’s helpers. He reports back to Santa whether you’ve been naughty or nice” I brushed back my daughter’s blond hair and held her trembling hand. “The elf on the shelf is friendly, trust me.”

“Daddy’s right.”  said my wife.  “The elf is just a holiday visitor, here to give Santa a good report.  Now I know you’ve been good, so you have nothing to worry about.”

“But he tells me to do bad things at night. He whispers to me in my room, and his breath is really, really bad. And he has those black sharp teeth. I know he’s only testing me so I don’t listen when he tells me to get the poison from under the sink an put it in mommy’s coffee. Daddy I don’t want to go to sleep because that’s when he creeps into my room! Please, get rid of him!” My daughter pleaded, tears streaming down her flushed face.

“Honey,”  I said.  “You’re just having nightmares.”  I glanced at my wife and took stock of the worried look on her face.  I could see the daylight fading behind her through the sliding glass doors. I gazed to the deck outside where our cast-iron chiminea still glowed from the fire I had built earlier in the afternoon, orange embers matching the fading sunset.  We stood in the kitchen, the smell of our traditional holiday skillet cornbread still adrift in the air.  Pots and pans, stacked in the sink, awaited their sentence with the sponge and dish liquid.

It was December 23rd, and fingers of frost had begun to paint the glass of the windows and doors, evidence of the plummeting temperatures outside.  We had just passed the shortest day of the year, and darkness was settling in for the night.

“Tell you what,”  I looked into my daughter’s eyes.  “If you can calm down, I’ll put the elf in a box so he won’t be able to move around tonight.”

I remembered the antique store where I bought the elf a week ago.  I could see the strange old woman with the eastern European accent. Her left eye milky and dead.  “Keep it in da box.”  she grumbled.  “is better dat vay.”  I still had the box upstairs.  It was rusted tin, silver, green and red with german writing on the front and sides.

“No daddy! He’ll get out and then he’ll come after me! He’ll blame me for everything! He told me I could never tell anyone what he said!” My daughter sobbed and jumped up and down.

“That’s enough.” My wife shook her head. “Honey, the elf is just game that parents play at Christmas. Your dad moves him at night when you’re asleep. It’s just pretend, that’s all.”

I glanced at my wife.  “Actually, your mom moves the elf, not me.”

My wife looked up at me, anger swelling in her eyes.  “What are you talking about?  Stop fooling around, can’t you see she’s upset?”

“I’m not fooling around. I haven’t moved the elf once. I thought it was you!” I said and shifted my gaze to the elf on the shelf. He was seated on the fireplace mantle, a foot long figure, red-sleeved arms crossed over a green-vested chest with red legs that danged over the edge. His head was cocked slightly to the side and he grinned that eternal painted-on grin below black dot eyes.

“Mommy, I’m scared!”  My daughter climbed up into the arms of her mother, clutching her tightly.

“Jerry, this isn’t funny.”  My wife drew closer.  “You’re really freaking her out!”

“I swear, I haven’t touched that thing!” We both stared at the elf as the sun’s final rays succumbed to the night. I drew a deep breath and lunged across the room. My hand closed tight around the elf, the cotton stuffed body and limbs yielding to my firm grip. I hurried toward the sliding glass doors, eyes fixed on the embers still glowing in the chiminea. “I’ll take care of this once and for all!” I said. As I reached for the door, I felt the elf’s body suddenly stiffen in my grasp. The cotton transformed into steel-strong sinews and the elf twisted to face me, glowing red, laser-dot eyes staring up at me. An evil grin spreading across the doll’s face. My daughter began to scream and my wife shrieked.

I gasped but held my grip.  The elf hissed, sending a torrent of fetid breath into my face and baring rows of black razor-sharp teeth.  It squirmed and hissed again, then drove its black fangs deep into my hand.  Searing pain spread instantly across my hand and up my arm.  I yelped and dropped the thing on the tiled floor.  The elf scampered across the kitchen and climbed the drawers like an evil ape, swinging from handle to handle, laughing and grunting, until it crested the countertop.  It opened the cutlery drawer and pulled out a paring knife.  My wife and daughter scrambled to my side, screaming.

Drops of red blood splotched the floor and I clutched my injured hand. I grabbed a dish towel and wrapped my wound. The elf began to laugh. A low, laugh, full of bass resonance that couldn’t possibly come from so small a creature. It brandished the knife in the air and howled, “Come and get some, daddy-O!” Blood and saliva sprayed from its black fangs as it danced on the countertop.

I lunged across the kitchen, but before I could engage, my wife slammed a cast-iron skillet down onto the elf, knocking it flat.

“Hideous thing!”  my wife hissed through clenched teeth.

I grabbed the unconscious creature and ran out onto the deck. I tossed the elf into the chiminea and slammed the door with a “clang”. I watched the embers ignite the ghastly thing and wrap it in flames. I stared in horror as it began to thrash about and pound on the screen of the door, begging in agony to escape the miniature crematorium. I went back inside and hugged my wife and daughter. We packed some things and spent the night in local hotel.

The next morning, Christmas eve, we awoke to a fresh coating of December snow,  a silver white sparkling blanket draped across everything.  I told my wife and daughter to stay at the hotel while I checked on the house.  I walked up the stairs to the deck and noticed immediately that the chiminea door was ajar.  Sooty footprints lead up to the sliding glass door.  Written by a tiny finger in black soot on the glass was the word “NAUGHTY”.

naughty

Are you on the list?

That was the Christmas we moved to Florida.  Now, it’s exactly 3 years later.  The temperature in Tampa is a balmy 75 degrees.  I swear I smelled burnt fabric 2 nights ago and this morning I noticed tiny, sooty footprints on the patio. Perhaps this is the Christmas that we move to London.

Or maybe I’ll just send my wife and daughter to a hotel while I wait alone with a machete in the kitchen.  After all, isn’t that the appropriate behavior for those of us in the “naughty” club?

Merry Christmas,
-SkullDug Jerry
SkullDug Jerry

Boo!

The Riverboy

They say he drowned there around fifty years ago, and they say sometimes he comes back to the surface in search of companionship. They say so because they’ve seen it, and they’d be willing to swear on the good book that it was true. And for the last fifty years, kids kept disappearing, gone for days, and suddenly turning up dead in the river, looking like they’d been dead for weeks. Every time one body turned up, another kid seemed to go missing.
That’s what they say, anyway. And they blame it all on the Riverboy.

When I was eight years old, I was unusually brave for someone who was terrified of everything. I was a regular oxymoron, the bold coward, the pathetic hero. So it was natural that I would be afraid of being drowned by the Riverboy, but intrigued by the legend surrounding him. Mom always told me to stay away from the river, but it was a good place to play. During the day, there seemed nothing wrong with it. It moved too fast for skipping stones and too slow for makeshift rafts to be any fun. There used to be a swinging rope, but some grown ups complained it was dangerous and the parents of victims sobbed at the sight of it, so they had it taken down.

I never swam in the river, anyway, so that didn’t bother me much.
Kevin Pearsley and I used to play there. Sometimes we tried fishing. We never caught anything. Other times a police officer would come by to make sure we were okay, and we were always fine. Usually he asked us to go home anyway, or go to the park across the street because it was safer.

But the river was so much fun. There was something about it that made us want to go there. Maybe it was the way the waters sang, whispering over the rocks. Maybe it was the way it rippled in shapes unlike any other body of water I had ever seen. It was like another language. It was like art.

Once I thought it spelled out my name. There, in the shapes and curves of the waves, I saw it; “Bridget.” I asked Kevin if he noticed, but he didn’t. He never really saw what I saw. It said his name once, too.

It was June. I overheard Mom tell Dad another body turned up. Gracie Maydale this time. She was older than me by two years, so I never really knew her. Mom talked about moving. They had listed the house months ago, but I guess nobody wanted to move here. Dad said it was just the economy, whatever that meant. I thought it was the Riverboy’s fault.

Three days following Gracie’s death, I realized Kevin hadn’t called or come by or anything. He didn’t live very far, so I walked to his house and knocked on his big red door. His parents didn’t answer it, so I walked home.
“Mom?” I asked. “Have you talked to Mrs. Pearsley lately?”
“Oh, honey,” my mom replied in the voice she always used when there was bad news. I had heard it twice before; once, when she told me my guinea pig “ran away,” and again when she told me one of my old relatives that I never really knew had died. But this was different. This wasn’t a pet or a distant relative. This was Kevin. This was my best friend.
She told me he went missing three days ago. The same night Gracie’s body was found. How come they found Gracie, but not Kevin? Where had he gone?

There was only one place missing kids in my town were ever found.
The river.
The Riverboy’s river.

I waited for my parents to fall asleep, and even though I was more frightened than I had ever been, I found the bravery to run to the river in the black of night.

The streetlamps were dim, but they were enough. I flew past them, my sandaled feet hitting cold pavement. The farther I ran, the harder it was to make my legs move, like little weights jumped on with each passing yard. But I didn’t stop for anything.
When I reached the river, I stopped at the edge on a dime. The waters roared around me.

“Kevin!” I shrieked, cupping my hands around my mouth. The rushing water still drowned my voice. “KEVIN!” I tried again. “KEVIN PEARSLEY! You aren’t funny! Come out! Kevin!”
I heard a voice.
My best friend’s voice.
Kevin.

“Bridget?” he said.

It was so quiet, I thought it was impossible that I had heard it over the water. Yet it reached my ears clear as day, as if I had thought it myself, right there in my own head.
And then I saw him. Tiny Kevin Pearsley, standing stock-still in the middle of a rushing river. If I hadn’t known better, I would have thought he didn’t feel the water at all. And he was coming closer, hands outstretched, fighting the current effortlessly. His skin looked blue in the light of the moon, reflecting off the water.

“Kevin! What are you doing in there?”

“Bridget, it’s cold.”

“Where have you been for three days, you big dummy?” I cried.

“It’s cold,” he said again. His voice was monotone, and his eyes were dull, his face was expressionless. “It’s cold. Help me.”

He reached out his hand. I hesitated.

One more word, flat, emotionless. I didn’t even see his blue lips move. “Help.”

I reached down and grabbed his hands. It was like grabbing ice; he slipped, and he froze, and I shivered. I felt him come up out of the water, and for a moment I felt a sense of total victory. My heart rejoiced. I smiled.

But then I fell in. The water crashed around me, numbing my skin, filling my ears, my eyes, my lungs.

I watched Kevin float to the surface, drifting away from me, but as I sank deeper, I still felt icy hands gripping mine.

Kevin Pearsley’s body was found on the riverbank the next morning. Bridget Allan’s was gone.

I was Bridget Allan once.

I’m the Riverboy now. It was Kevin Pearsley before me. Gracie Maydale. Countless others. Like good children at the playground, we take turns. We share. We wait.

I’m still waiting.

RiverBoy

He’s waiting…

 

Little Miss Mad

Little Miss Mad

The Ballad of Belsnickel

belsnickel1
‘Twas two weeks afore christmas
And all through the land
The children were fearful
Of Belsnickel’s hand
___________________
If you are good
You have nothing to fear
But if you are naughty
He’ll find you, my dear
___________________
Hark little Timmy
Come round our back porch
His eyes teared with terror
Hands clutching a torch
___________________
In a voice doused in fear
His speech trembled forth
Of indescretions and crimes
Perpetrated up north
___________________
Twas refuge he sought
In our humble abode
Safe haven from Belsnickel
Child collector of old
___________________
We took him inside
Gave him birch beer and kiffles
And a soft handkercheif
To dad away sniffles
___________________
Belsnickel we told him
Was nay but a tale
To make the naughty behave
And steer the wicked from jail
___________________
when finally we calmed him
Even coaxed out a grin
There arose from the front yard
A terrible din
___________________
The wailing of children
Lost in despair
Encircled the house
And swirled through the air
___________________
I closed all the windows
And locked every door
I threw back the carpet
To reveal a trap door
___________________
Inside we tucked Timmy
And bade him to hush
We shut him inside
In a flurry of dust
___________________
I rushed to the front door
 and peeked through the glass
what I saw set me back
and I let out a gasp
___________________
A heavy dark figure
loomed in front of my door
his clothes draped and tattered
dangled down to the floor
___________________
His carriage behind him
black and shackled to a host
of shaggy black beasts
tied to a post
___________________
On our door he did pound
With a sooty black fist
His face drenched in shadow
His head wreathed in mist
___________________
The screws of the hinges
torqued themselves in reverse
as the door toppled inward
I jumped back with a curse
___________________
Belsnickel stood there
a sight to behold
like a king of the beggars
from dark days of old
___________________
His black robes were all dusted
With coal from the mines
And his breath smelled of creosote
And bacon and lyme
___________________
His face was soot covered
and calloused and rough
and his beard was all black
with tangles and tufts
___________________
He carried a switch
made of cable and twine
in his meaty right hand
a black jug of red wine
___________________
His eyes gleamed like sapphires
catching bits of the moon
and under his breath
he hummed a strange tune
___________________
His gaze locked on mine
and a smile crossed his face
“Timmy”  he said
as he wrinkled his face
___________________
“I know that he’s here
So you’d best not deny”
I just shook my head
and let out a sigh.
___________________
In a flash he was gone
and the house it did shudder
and shake to it’s timbers
as if torn asunder
___________________
I lurched ‘cross the room
with my head in a spin
and opened the trap door
to check deep within
___________________
But there was no Timmy
crouched down in the hole
Little Timmy was gone
in his place a lump of coal
___________________
No one ever saw Timmy
again after that night
he just disappeared
or kept out of sight
___________________
His parents spread word
he’d been sent off to school
to learn to behave
and follow the rules
___________________
But I saw in their eyes
and heard their voice shake
They lied about Timmy
for I knew his fate
___________________
‘Twas Belsnickel that took him
that cold wintry night
now you know the story
sleep tight, nighty night!

___________________

Copyright 2013 SkullDug Jerry

Road Work

Night Highway

If you would just stop and ask for directions…

The headlights of the blue BMW drilled into the night, illuminating the black tarmac that flowed like a river of madness through the Pennsylvania mountains.  A double yellow line split the road lengthwise from Tafton to Mountaintop – 26 miles of harrowing hairpin turns and wild camel humps –  a roller coaster ride through old-growth Pennsylvania forests.

Ken kept both hands firmly on the steering wheel – his eyes forward, scanning the shoulder of PA route 390, vigilant for suicidal deer hiding in the darkness between the trees who were more than eager to bound into the path of his speeding vehicle.

He toggled the high beams but they were no match for the darkness that sent it’s fingers through the trees, squeezing the road into a narrow blue tunnel through the woods.

Tanya stared out the passenger window.  She shook her head and tossed her bobbed black hair – releasing dim shimmers of blue in response to the cold dashboard illumination.

“You always do this.”  she sniped.

Ken adjusted his jaw from side to side.

“The traffic was stopped.

For twenty minutes.

I had to get off – I can’t just sit there like that.”

Tanya frowned.  “We’re lost.  You have no idea where we are, in a place that we have never been.”  She pulled her cell phone from her purse and sighed.  “AND we have no signal.  Of course – we have no signal.  We’re in the middle of NoSignalVania.”

Ken winced at every word.  Tanya’s shrill, nasal voice had evolved into a first class irritant as of late.  It was like a million sewing needles stabbing and gouging his eardrums with each sentence. He found himself drifting away during her monologues, staring off into space, dreaming of the days before marriage and wondering how he could have been duped into matrimony all those years ago.  How could he not have noticed that sputtering, insidious, acrid tongue?  A tongue that found him time and time again musing on just how to tear it out, to cease it’s wagging forever so that he might find peace. Instead, he soldiered on in silence, obedient to the stereotype of the henpecked husband.

“Why are they always doing construction in Pennsylvania.  Everywhere you turn, a lane is closed or an exit is under repair.  I hate this state.”  Tanya shook her head.

“We are not lost.  We’re just…temporarily confused.”

Tanya shook her head and scowled.  She glanced back at the road.  “Jesus!”  She braced her hands on the dashboard and dug her feet hard against the floor of the car.

Ken snapped his gaze back to the road in time to see a deer flash past the headlights.  He  jammed both feet onto the brake pedal as the car began to skid sideways.  Suddenly, another animal, this one thicker with dark gray and black streaks, sprang into the path of the sliding car.  It moved like a cat stalking prey, low to the ground and surprisingly agile for its bulk.

There was a moment that seemed an eternity.  It was filled with clenched teeth, white knuckles, squealing tires and the smell of burning rubber and hot brake shoes.  It swam slowly into focus and then WHAM!  The sickening thud of metal hitting flesh and the tinkle of shattered glass broke the spell.

The collision spun the car 90 degrees off the road and into a shallow swale on the right shoulder.  Thick ferns and mountain laurel cushioned the car to a shuddering stop.

“Oh my god.  Are you OK?”  Ken reached over and touched Tanya.

“I think I bit my lip.”  She dabbed her mouth and examined the bright red that coated her fingertips. “Yeah, I’m OK, I think.”

“What the hell did we hit?” Ken unbuckled his seatbelt.

“A deer.  I think I saw a deer.”

“No, we missed the deer.  Something came out of the woods after it.  Something bigger like a bear.”

Ken opened his door and circled around to the front of the car.  The grill was mangled and steam seeped from under the crumpled hood.  The right quarter panel was crushed and the right front tire was rotated at an impossible angle.  Thick black goo was smeared across the damaged areas.

“Shit, shit, shit.”  Ken kicked at the ferns.  “There goes my insurance.”  He turned and looked back down the road.  A dark mass lie motionless on the blacktop, partially blocking the right lane.

“I think you hit a bear.”  Tanya was standing next to him, dabbing her lip with a tissue. “Way to go Mario”.

“Just call Triple A.”  Ken began walking toward the shadowy shape.

Tanya fumbled for her cell phone. “Uh, can’t.  No signal.  Unbelievable.”

Ken slowed his steps as he neared the carcass.  A musty odor, somewhere between cat urine and vinegar, wafted through the night air.  Ken recognized more detail in the moonlight.  The entire creature was about five feet long and had four legs, the front ones longer than the hind and all four capped with five to six inch glossy black claws that looked as if hewn from obsidian.  It appeared to have a small amount of black fur on it’s back which was streaked with dark gray patches that mimicked forest shadows.  Overall, Ken thought it vaguely resembled some kind of deformed black bear mixed with a mountain lion.  The fur gave way to black velvety skin that concealed sinewy muscles throughout the body of the animal.  The shoulders were bulky and the head was elongated and wide, with an odd sloping forehead and two large eyes, shut tight into ten inch slits.  A twisted pair of foot long black horns jutted from just behind the creatures large pointed ears.  The most astonishing feature, however, was the nightmarish mouth of the beast.  It gaped slightly open, and was circled in a row of black teeth on the outside, and rows of similar fangs on the inside.  It was as if a shark’s mouth had been turned slightly inside out around the edges and painted gloss black.  A black forked tongue lolled from the open mouth, dripping with gooey dark saliva.

“What the hell IS that thing?”  Tanya had joined Ken.

“I have no idea.  Maybe a bear that was burned or something.  But it has horns, I think.

“Bears don’t have horns, moron.”  Tanya looked at her phone again.  “How the HELL are we going to get a tow truck.

“We’ll have to walk and get help”  Ken looked around at nothing but shadowy forest as far as the eye could see.

“I’ll bet that’s some kind of endangered animal.  I’ll bet this dumb-ass state is going to fine us on top of everything.”  Tanya started walking back toward the disabled BMW.  “And there’s no WE in this whole walking to find help thing.”

Ken shook his head.  “Seriously?  What the hell are are YOU going to do while I’m walking?”

Over his shoulder, a pair of headlights flickered their way through the winding darkness of the stoic trees, distant tires clinging to the blacktop, hissed through the curves like a mechanized serpent as the vehicle neared.

“Looks like someone just caught a lucky break.”  Tanya stood, hands on hips, a smirk writhing across her red lips.

Ken ran toward the approaching vehicle, arms waving.  Blinded by the headlights, he could make out the dark shape of a late model pick-up truck, slowing to a stop before the motionless body of the strange creature.

“Hey, hey!”  Ken waved his arms.  “We hit something and we need help.”

The driver opened the door and stepped out.  He walked past Ken in a flurry of flannel, scraggly beard and greasy hair, eyes fixed on the creature in the road, the scents of sweat, tobacco and body odor swirled about him in the night air.

“Hey, thanks for stopping, we…” Ken put his hand on the stranger’s shoulder.

The truck driver spun and pushed Ken away.  “Nacht Teufel!”  He hissed through broken teeth and began to back away toward his truck.

“What?”  Ken stumbled forward. “Hey, what the hell?  Where are you going?”

“Ein Junge Nacht Teufeufel!’, shouted the bearded stranger as he climbed back into his truck and gunned it in reverse.

“No, no, no!”  Ken sprinted after the truck as it sped away into the darkness.  He waved his arms and shouted until the tail lights disappeared into the night.  He hung his head and slowly turned back toward his wife.

“What the hell was that?”  Tanya raised her arms, palms toward the sky.  “Did he not speak English? Why didn’t you stop him?”

“I don’t get it.  How could he just leave us here?”  Ken shook his head.

“I’m going to take a nap in the car.  Good luck on your walk.”  Tanya turned and headed back to the car.

“Seriously?  You’re gonna sleep while I walk alone on this ridiculous road?  In the middle of the night?” Ken spread his ams wide in disbelief.

“Good luck.”  Tanya climbed into the back seat of the disabled BMW and slammed the door.

Ken stood motionless, mouth open.  And then he heard it.  Low at first, but growing slowly louder.  A low growl rattled from the carcass on the road behind him.  He turned around and his legs buckled.

The creature’s claws made a rasping sound as they scraped the blacktop.  The eyes were wide open, luminous and green, and as big as pie plates with no visible pupils – just two organic headlights glowing in the thick night.  Slowly, it struggled upright, tilted its  chin into the night air and began to howl.  It was low and mournful at first but built quickly to an ear shattering crescendo that echoed through the black forest.

Ken clamped his hands over his ears and gathered his legs beneath him.  Gingerly, to avoid drawing attention to himself, he began to step backwards toward the safety of his car.  After a few steps he turned and broke into a run – his shoes clacking on the hard surface of the road.

The creature howled again and Ken quickened his pace.  Behind him, he could hear claws scuffling on the blacktop as it tried to regain it’s senses. He reached the car, grabbed the door handle and yanked.  It was locked.  He pounded on the window.  Inside, Tanya shook her head and extended her middle finger.

“Unlock it!” he yelled.  Tanya extended both middle fingers and lounged back down on the back seat.

“C’mon!” Ken bellowed and beat his fists bloody on the window until he was out of breath.  He paused and looked past the car into the dark forest.  Everything had gone silent.  All the katydids and crickets and tree frogs were suddenly mute.   The night seemed somehow darker as the soft rustle of the grass and the wind in the leaves coaxed a pair of giant luminous green eyes from between the trees. Ken’s blood ran cold and he felt light headed.  Slowly, a second creature, identical to but about twice the size of the injured one behind him, emerged from the shadows directly across the road from his disabled beamer.  It moved with careful determination, barely making a sound in the forest night, confirming it’s status as an evolved nocturnal predator.

Ken dropped to his knees and hid behind the car.  His heart pounded in his temples and his hand rested on his thighs where he felt something solid.  He fumbled in his pocket and pulled his cell phone and 2 receipts free before finding his car keys.  Warily, he stood back up and peered over the car.  The creature was gone.  He turned and looked behind him.

The larger creature was now tending to the injured smaller one, nuzzling and grooming it’s wounds with a giant black forked tongue.  Short chirps and whimpers drifted through the dark air as mother creature cared for her child.

Ken fumbled with his keys and dropped them, tinkling into the thick ferns.  “Shit!”  He bent down and began to rummage his fingers through the thick foliage.  Suddenly, he felt warm air on his neck and that acrid smell from before.  Before he could turn, giant, powerful jaws clamped around his torso, and bore down with unbelievable force.  His head felt as if it would burst from the mounting pressure. He felt his ribs snap and the blinding burn of his flesh tearing beneath the black razor teeth of the beast.  He was lifted above the car, sideways, his head slightly lower than his legs, which he could no longer feel as the pressure continued to increase to impossible levels.  He felt gushes of warm blood running up his back and coursing along his neck and chin.  His head swam – the pain was blinding and mounted to a crescendo of cracking bones and rending flesh followed by swirling blackness as he lost consciousness.

And then Ken was hovering above the entire scene.  He could see his limp body in the creature’s massive jaws, like a rag doll, flopping as the creature began to thrash from side to side.  After a few flicks, his body split in two, blood and entrails spilling onto the tarmac. But Ken felt at peace.  There was no pain.  In fact, no feeling at all. He looked down upon the creatures as they milled around the disabled vehicle.  Far away, he could hear his wife’s shrill screams as the mother creature pried the car doors open with giant black claws.

A white light opened up above him, drenching the night in a glorious glow of salvation.  It washed his floating spirit in joy and redemption and mitigated all earthly sounds and images, beckoning his weary soul to eternal bliss.

A feeling of unprecedented warmth and contentment flooded through Ken’s being.  He grinned and dove headfirst into the light, delighted by the realization that he was finally free of his wife’s acrid tongue forever.

Night Eyes

Here kitty, kitty…

Jerry SkullDug

Thanks for digging the dark