Hunger: Two-Sentence Horror Story

I gobbled down my first meal in days, barely chewing, expecting to feel guilty about it afterwards. But I only felt relief; besides, I never really liked my neighbours.

© Shyla Fairfax-Owen

Thanks for reading my two-sentence horror story… Mmmm human flesh… Feel free to share your own in the comments!

Advertisements

Letters to Addie: #2 – The Book Burning

March 9,

Addie,

I’m sorry I couldn’t write sooner; things have been … well, I don’t know the word exactly. Something just isn’t right. I tried to keep track of my thoughts on paper, like you said; likes, dislikes, opinions, things I’ve seen, words I know – the stuff that makes me me. But it’s all gone. I came home one day and the notepad had all the used pages missing. Then they recalled the paper. All paper, Addie. Notepads, scrapbooks, books, printed media. Everything had to be handed over by February 28th, and on the 29th, they stormed houses and tore them apart looking for paper, Addie – Paper! It was all burned they say. There was a public demonstration where officials set fire to heaps and mounds of the stuff, but it probably wasn’t all of it. Some say they just incinerated the rest in – what do you call those things… where they cremate people. Anyways, it’s all gone. Now you know why I’m writing this on a napkin.

I don’t know exactly what’s going on, but I’m starting to think you might be right. It’s like what you said that time, “control the medium, control the message.” I think you said it was a quote, but I can’t remember. All I know is I’m getting a distinct feeling that this is the beginning of something really, really big. I’ll keep you posted when I can. I hope these are getting to you. And I hope you enjoy the fruit basket I’m sending this one in.

I know I probably don’t have to say this to you of all people, but be careful. I love you.

Darcy.

P.S. Mom got hacked. They swapped everything out, but she seems to like her new name. Just some adolescent shit-disturbers, I think. She’s fine, though.

© Shyla Fairfax-Owen

Letters To Addie #1

 

 

Letters to Addie

January 30,

Addie,

I guess I’ll just start with – I miss you. It’s a funny thing, mourning the loss of someone who isn’t quite gone, but certainly isn’t here. I have these momentary lapses of memory. I’ll see something that reminds me of you, or come across a meme I know would make you giggle. I’ll pull up your name on my contact list to send it your way and then I remember that you won’t see it. So, yeah, it’s a curious thing; missing you. 

But I’m getting used to it, I think. Because you’re not gone, but the digital you is gone. Everyone acts like that’s the same thing, but it’s not. That’s why I’m writing this letter to you – to the real you. I want you to know I haven’t forgotten you. And I’m not mad. That day you unplugged and left, I said some pretty shitty things. I’m sorry about that. I didn’t get it, how you could just throw away your whole life over some fear of something that you couldn’t show me. I’m stubborn like that though; I need evidence, a digital footprint – anything. I’m still like that Addie; I can’t lie and say I believe you. But I miss you, and I’m finally ready to do anything to get you back. So I’m going to find the proof Addie. I’m going to see it, and then I’m going to know you’re right. That you’re not crazy.

So I’ll start at the beginning. I remember the first thing you said. “These thoughts aren’t mine.”  You kept saying your thoughts and feelings were jumbled. You started unplugging at night to try to clear them up, but that just made things blurrier. You said it was too late for you. Well, if you’re theory is right, there’s still plenty of time for me. So I’m going to start writing down my thoughts. Pen and paper, just like you said, so they can’t access them. You must be thinking, why now? Like I said, I miss you. 

I’ll write again soon. I love you.

Darcy.

P.s. mom is fine.


Most Wanted

I look up. Everything around me is sand. For miles, and miles – just sand. It’s in my eyes, between my breasts, under my fingernails. Hell, it’s even in my lungs. I cough, but I’m so hoarse it hardly sounds like myself. And then there’s the ringing. A piercing, relentless, ringing that somehow I know is coming from inside of my own head.

My wrist is broken. That much is clear. My head has been rattled. My muscles twitch and ache where they shouldn’t. But none of that compares to the damage done to the ship. Metal bits and chunks are laid out upon the sand, a perfect picture of disaster. And that’s when I know for sure, I’m never going home.

The sun is still high, which tells me I have plenty of hours to succumb to dehydration before I even see a desert’s moon. That saddens me. I’ve always wanted to see the moon from the other side. Earth. I almost chuckle. This is not at all how I imagined my grand arrival.

Somehow I find the energy to scrounge for food and water in the heaps of broken ship. I find one water bottle, and it’s only half full. Luckily, I’ve always been a glass half-full woman, so I smile and let a few drips wash over my parched tongue. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I spot a bag of peanuts, and things really start to look up. Because the peanuts aren’t mine.

The dunes are tough to get over. With each step I sink, and have to struggle forward. I engage every muscle, every bone (that isn’t broken), and every corner of my mind. Willpower – there’s nothing like it.

Finally I see a shadow in the distance. I think it’s the shape of a person. The sun is almost set now; it’s cold and I’ve almost finished the water. The peanuts are long gone. It’s not a lot, but it’s enough to assure me I’m not hallucinating when the figure starts towards me.

It’s a woman. She’s tall and sturdy, wielding a crossbow. A huntress of the Desert Peoples. She won’t care that I’m interstellar. Desert Peoples are poor, desperate – they have a million other things to worry about besides intergalactic relations. Still, I hold up my index finger to indicate that I come in peace. I hold up a piece of scrap from my ship and point to the sky, then my broken bone. She nods and offers me a hand.

Gaza, as she calls herself, takes me to her home. She is proud of it even though it is small, dark, and sticky. Its walls are decorated with her trophies – the heads of creatures small and large. It catches me off guard. These are species of which I’ve only seen images. They captured their stillness, but this – this is too still. I look away, embarrassed by my weakness. To think, I used to consider myself tough.

“Thora,” Gaza says pointing to me. She is introducing me to her father, an elderly man who creaks when he moves. He nods, but his gaze seems to pass right through me. He’s blind, I realize.

Over the next few weeks I learn to help around the house. Mostly, I load parcels of meat, babying my wrapped wrist bone. I’m not sure what animal it is, and I don’t ask. Gaza and her clan are preparing for a great travel to the city where they trade goods. I will be going with her, she tells me. It will make me useful, she adds.

I fancy the idea of being a useful member of a community and I’m tickled. Back home, I was just a petty thief, in and out of jails. No sense of loyalty, no sense of belonging. I was hardly a blip on anyones newsfeed. Until the hack. Nothing like a good b and e to the Authority’s mainframe to get some attention. That’s all I was looking for, attention. But I found something much bigger. Plans of an intergalactic war. I’m not sure at what moment I decided to become the hero of this story, to come to Earth and warn the people – I guess I just needed a win. Unfortunately, the Authority put me on a most wanted murderers list before my ship had gained enough speed for its spectacular crash landing. My name was all over the newsfeeds then. Yes, it was.

“This way,” Gaza instructs as she rips down a wanted poster of me. We’ve just arrived at the trading post. It’s the first time I’m sure she knows who I am, but neither one of us says a word about it. I breathe a sigh of relief. It’s good to know she’s on my side. I plan to tell some of the traders about the war plans. They’ll be from all over, and I’m sure to find someone who speaks more English than Gaza; maybe even some Lunar.

Inside the post, Gaza goes on with a shorter woman who is plump and (from the looks of it) bored. After Gaza begins raising her voice, a man comes out. They go back and forth for a while in a language I can’t understand and I turn my back on the ordeal. I’m fondling some sparkly trinkets that I don’t recognize when the hand grabs me. I turn to face the large man as he cuffs me. I want to scream but I’m in shock, because I don’t know what’s going on, but from the look on Gaza’s face, I’ve been sold out.

© Shyla Fairfax-Owen

If Tomorrow Comes

Sir

Sir

“SIR!”

Peter tried to hang on to the sound. Was it real?

“Sir? I need to move you! Ok?! Ok?!”

What was that in the background? Gunfire, perhaps. And the voice… a woman. A young woman. Nothing to be afraid of, perhaps.

“OK! Let’s move! C’mon. We’ve got this!”

Her accent was thick – Australian, perhaps. He wished he could get a grip on himself, but all he could form were half questions and partial realizations.

Before long he could feel the gravel peeling away the skin on his back. Her fingertips were digging deep into his armpits as she grunted exhaustively. She was dragging him to safety. The gunfire was growing more distant. Peter tried to get a foot sturdy on the ground to help her, but as far as he could tell, he was still deadweight.

“Morning.”

Peter looked up groggily; the sun was assaulting.

“You’ve been out for a day and a half. Here, eat.”

She was young, with a sweet, round, face. As she handed him a bowl of what looked like sludge, Peter took notice of her dirty hands and torn fingernails. Suddenly, the angelic haze surrounding her dissipated and he realized they were in hell.

“I’m Evelyn, by the way. Or, Evie. Peter, right? I found your wallet.”

“Yeah,” Peter managed as he pulled himself to a sitting position. “Where are we?”

“Hell,” she offered with a puckish smirk. “Really. But it’s a great hiding spot. I wouldn’t move too much if I were you, though. I had to sort of tumble you down here. But there was no way I could get you up anymore mountains, so the valley was your best chance.”

Hell Valley. Peter breathed in deeply and let the smell of the outback take him over. It took him a moment to process it, but when it came back, the sense memory flooded him. He had come to Australia for a sabbatical. He meant to write a new book but found himself holding more shot glasses than pens. He tried to find some solitude but then he broke his leg, just in time for the end of the world.

“Oh. My leg.”

“Looks broken. My mum’s a nurse. Er – she was.”

Peter considered offering condolences, but felt too disoriented to sound sincere.

“Evie?” he finally managed, “what’s happening?”

She sighed, and lifted her brow to the sky. “My guess? The end of the world.”

They spent the rest of daylight fiddling with a radio Evie had found in the city. She and her friends had been camping in Hell when it happened – whatever it was. An army, she said. But she had no real answers. The others had left to find their families. Evie didn’t have to worry about that. Her mother was dead in the house when she arrived. Shot. That was weeks ago, but Peter could tell she was still in shock.

“The sun’s going down. It gets kind of cold – just a warning.”

“Thanks. You know a lot about this roughing it stuff, huh?”

She smiled. “I know how to survive, if that’s what you mean. And – well, I could tell you didn’t. That’s why I couldn’t leave you. That, and, I figured if you healed good it would be nice to have a partner who owed me his life.”

“I do. Thank you. I feel rather incompetent. You’re just a kid.”

“Seventeen. You could be my dad.”

“Yeah, I could.”

Looking away, Peter sighed through the stabbing pain shooting through his leg. The timing was perfect – it was that, or think about his actual daughter, again.

“So how long do we stay here?”

Evie looked as though she wanted to hide from the question, but finally she said: “until you’re well enough to fight, I guess. We’ll come up with a plan tomorrow.”

Peter shut his eyes. She was right. It was getting cold.

© Shyla Fairfax-Owen

 

Reflections

“Show me how to fight.”

Reese looked at Daria. There was a fire in her eyes that was beginning to match his own. In the short time that he had known this mysterious woman, he had seen her dark skin grow thicker and her demeanour grow rougher. He wouldn’t have described her as naive when they met, but he wouldn’t have imagined seeing her become this.

“You think you’re ready for that?”

“I don’t have a choice, Reese. Do I?”

After a long, dramatic pause, Reese clenched his jaw and gritted his teeth. “No. No you don’t.” He had seen what happened to people who didn’t learn how to fight; to people he let not learn how to fight.

She had been travelling for weeks. She was tired, worn down, skinny. It was painful to watch her try to muster the energy for a proper fight. If she was attacked alone, she was a goner. Reese tried not to let his fear for her show, but after the eighth time she hit the hard ground, he insisted they move on to target practice.

“Where’d you come from?” he asked as they loaded their guns. He had meant to ask a long time ago, but couldn’t.

Daria shrugged, avoiding eye contact. “A bit of everywhere, I guess.”

“And the sickness?” That’s what Reese really wanted to ask. He didn’t care where she grew up, where she came from, or where she was going. He just wanted to know if the sickness had spread; if it really was taking over the world.

“What about it?” she asked coldly as she raised her gun and aimed at her target: a dirty, broken bottle.

Reese shook his head. He could feel an angry heat rising in him. Why did she have to make everything so fucking difficult?

Daria shot. The bullet knocked over the bottle, shattering it from its centre.

“It’s everywhere,” she whispered, eyeing her handy work.

Reese wiped the sweat from his forehead. He used to burn in the sun, but after months of living nowhere, scrounging for food, killing to not be killed – he had adapted. When he caught his reflection now and again, it made his heart skip a little. It was unfamiliar, his tanned skin and hardened eyes. It was all so unfamiliar. He looked at Daria; her lips pursed as she re-loaded. He barely knew her, and yet he pitied her, knowing she too would soon enough jump at her own reflection.

© Shyla Fairfax-Owen

 

The Vision

You know that expression women like to throw about unwittingly? “Not if you were the last man on Earth”- we say. But can it ever really be true? What if someone really was the last man on Earth. Could you hate him? Could you love him? Are we all heterosexist enough to think this is a fair question? See? It’s complicated.

The thing about Yan is, he is the last man on Earth. Well, as far as I can tell anyway. You see, I have a gift. You’ve heard of omens and signs. Most of us think that’s just people assigning meaning to arbitrary things to give them purpose, and to make the world seem more logical, more rational. But they’re real. And I’m one of the few people in the world who can read them. It’s almost like a vision. I see a crow or the number 13, and I’m hit with a sudden knowledge that I can’t ignore. And last week, I saw Yan.

I guess I should start from the beginning. Last year, an illness – no, a plague – attacked us. It spread like wildfire, or more accurately, like biological warfare. It was meant to wipe out the world’s entire population, and it nearly did. But there was one unexpected quirk. The Y chromosome was far more susceptible to it. Females were by no means safe, but we weren’t exactly doomed. Not like the males. Month after month passed us by, and none of the survivors had been able to find any men. I don’t think anyone was really looking. Mostly, we were concerned with figuring out what happened, and why.

But then I had a vision. I saw him. Alive, and well. In hiding, of course. We like to believe that people are basically good, and yet we know enough to hide when there’s something… special… about us. And there is something beyond special about Yan.

“Ophelia?”

I roll my eyes and shudder. “I know,” I mutter, “my parents were, uh, romantics – I guess.”

“I like it.”

He smiles and my heart flutters a little. I hate that, but I don’t seem to have any control over it at the moment. It’s been far too long since I’ve seen a man. I guess I’m a bit of a romantic, too. I honestly can’t tell if he’s attractive, but I know it could be a lot worse. He’s even about my age.

“And how did you find me again?” He removes his hood, finally letting his guard down a little, and pats the empty spot next to him on the park bench.

“Well, I know it sounds kind of nuts, but it was kind of like a vision. I have them sometimes.”

Yan nods suspiciously, but seems overall willing to accept my answer. I guess when 75% of the world crashes and burns before your eyes, it ups your threshold for believability.

“I know of a facility. You’ll be safe there, I promise.”

He snorts a little. Maybe he’s not as trusting as I’d hoped.

“So they can do a bunch of tests on me? Steal my sperm?” He spits the word sperm and I know it’s personal, so I don’t ask.

“Well, some tests, definitely. But nothing to be afraid of. We’re not trying to re-populate. Cloning facilities are working on that.”

“So what’s your facility working on?”

I think on it for a moment and realize we don’t really know. “We just wanna figure this thing out.”

“That’s promising.”

He turns away from me. I can see his jaw clenching and I know he’s fighting back tears. I’m ashamed to admit I hadn’t really thought about how emotional this must all be for him. He’s scruffy, dirty, a little underweight. I’ve lost fifteen pounds since all of this, and I’m not even hiding.

“Are you hungry?” I ask, snuggling into him a little more. I do it to make me seem inviting; friendly, but I do enjoy the sensation of his leg against mine. Not that it matters. I learn pretty quickly that he has no intention of reciprocating my desires.

Six days and four meals later and I’ve got him on a train. He insists on wearing a hood and a scarf to cover most of his face, even though spring is coming on fast and hard. I can still tell he’s a man, and I think most people would if they bothered to look at him. But no one really does. Self-absorbency, no plague can kill that.

“What’s that?” Yan asks as Dr. Ving brings the machine towards his face. He’s in a panic, and all the unfamiliar tools aren’t helping.

“It’s just going to scan your eyes.”

“My eyes are fine.”

“Well, I guess we’ll know in a minute.” She holds the device up to his eyes and waits for a DING before jotting down the results.

“So?” Yan asks, his voice shaking.

“Your eyes are fine.”

Dr. Ving is losing patience with him, but I’m not. The twitchier he gets, the cuter I find him. I almost want to tell him about the secret alliance we’ve made with a neighbouring cloning facility. Almost. But not quite. In my latest vision, there was a little Yan, and he was happy. I know better than to mess with a vision.

© Shyla Fairfax-Owen