Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Monster Food

I wrote this for a 69 word story challenge on the Holy Worlds Christian Fantasy Forum:

Carnival music beckoned to the boy, against his parents’ wishes, against common sense. That night, he crept out his window and through the woods, to see the dragons, vampires, and winged men. Other people were there, drawn like him--then trapped for monster food. The boy ran, but winged men caught him. Suddenly a knight appeared, slaying with a glowing sword, and his father’s arms carried him safely away.

(c) 2010 Jonathan Garner

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Coming

Here is my first published story, 'The Coming', originally published in 2009 in Fear and Trembling Magazine. It has some minor changes that do not affect the story. I should probably note that it is horror and dealing with the sin of lust, so reader discretion is advised.


Even in death, the woman was hauntingly beautiful. Were it not for the blood splattered across the front of her dress, anyone who saw her would have thought she was merely sleeping, her eyes peacefully closed, her lips barely parted. One hand was clutching her belly where the blood had burst forth, the other hand resting against her hip.

As he sat beside her on the floor and stared down at her face, Lou shivered. He knew there were three men in the room with him, all looking at the woman, all vaguely aware of each other. Were they all there for the same reason?

"I killed her." Lou had to say it, to get it out in the open. He knew there had been no other choice, but it still left him shaken.

"No, I killed her," the man to the left of Lou said.

"No, I did," the man directly across from Lou said.

"No," the man to the right of Lou protested. "Y’all are all wrong. I killed her."

"Maybe," Lou said softly, "maybe we all killed her."

When the three other men remained silent, he said, "My name is Lou."

The man to his left spoke. "Mine is Robert."

The man directly across from him spoke. "My name is Carl."

The man to his right spoke. "I’m Jack."

None of them moved. They hardly glanced at each other. Their gaze was continually drawn to the woman who lay in front of them, the four men making a circle around her body. Her blood was splattered all over the room, yet curiously, none of them had a drop of blood upon their skin or clothes.

Trembling, Lou stood, and the three other men looked up at him. He felt compelled to tell them about the woman, who she had been to him, what she had done to him. He wondered if their stories would be similar to his.

"I met Ellen only yesterday," he said.

The gaze of the three other men didn’t leave him.

"I was driving from home from work when I saw her walking along the interstate. I pulled to the side of the road and asked her if she needed a ride. She said she did. When she got in..."

Lou gulped, remembering. The three other men, their eyes on him, gulped as well, with Jack shuddering.

"Ellen was beautiful, more beautiful than any woman I had ever seen. I couldn’t take my eyes off her. I don’t remember what we talked about, but it doesn’t really matter. She asked me to drop her off at one of the little towns along the interstate, refusing my offer to take her all the way to her house. I didn’t realize until I got home later that she had left her jacket in my car."

Lou started rubbing his hands together, though the room wasn’t cold . "That night, I couldn’t sleep. I kept thinking about her, lusting for her, even though I knew it was wrong, that I was cheating on my fiancee in my mind. I couldn’t stop thinking about her for more than a few minutes at a time. Not long before dawn, I went out to my car and got Ellen’s jacket out. I held it against my face, my whole body aching with desire for her, the smell of her in the fabric making me weep. I felt more in love with her than I knew could even be possible.

"Several hours later, I called my fiancee, and..." Lou felt his eyes stinging, but he ignored it. "I called off our engagement. I knew that I could never be complete unless I was with Ellen. I had to be with her. I had to. In the pocket of the jacket was a letter, the address made out to a Jack Cooper."

At the mention of his name, Jack closed his eyes, his teeth clenching.

"The return address led me here. I came here as soon as I got off work, and I knocked on the door. Ellen opened the door, and the sight of her was like a glass of water to a man in the desert. She let me in, and after that..."

Lou trailed off. He tried to continue, but he was unable to. He found himself staring down at Ellen, at the blood that shone in the light of the setting sun, the rays coming in through the window not warming the room. Finally, he sat down, feeling exhausted.

Robert stood up. "I met Ellen the first time today, but I had seen her many times before, in my dreams. I was at seminary school, almost a year ago, when she appeared to me. The first time I saw her, she was in the distance, looking at me. I went towards her, but she ran from me. For almost a year I chased her every night, growing ever closer. It got to the point where she filled my mind all day long, giving me visions of what I would do to her when I caught her, of what I wanted her to do to me. I knew it was wrong, but I felt helpless to stop it."

Taking a deep breath, Robert continued. "One day, not too long ago, she led me to this house in my dreams. She showed me how to get here, how to find her. She told me that when I came, we would make love until the world came to an end. The next day, I dropped out of seminary school and came here."

Robert, like Lou before him, was unable to continue. Staring at Ellen’s body, he sat down.

Carl stood, and it was a while before he spoke. "Ellen was my nurse. I’m well off, and I had hired her to care for me in my home while I was dying of cancer. Even as weak as I was, as near death as I was, the sight of her made me lust like I never had before. Ellen and I talked often about ourselves and grew to know each other well, but I managed to restrain myself from ever mentioning my attraction to her.

"One day, she came to me, and out of nowhere told me my death was near. She told me that if I would renounce the God who was letting me die, she would heal me. She said that once I had fully recovered, I could come to her house and she would show me that she wanted me as badly as I wanted her. Angry at God for not healing me, I agreed. Ellen bent over and kissed my chest, and I could feel the cancer being sucked out. It felt both revolting and liberating. Then she left me, telling me to come to her in a few weeks."

Carl ran a hand through his hair. "I did grow better, just as she said. I’m as strong now as I ever was. I came to her, here, today, and at the door she met me and led me inside."

Like Lou and Robert before him, Carl couldn’t continue. Shaking his head, he sat down, his gaze falling upon Ellen.

Jack stood up, his face pale. "I knew Ellen for five months. We met at the park, where I was walking my dog and she was jogging. We bumped into each other, and after apologizing, we quickly hit it off. Ellen came to my apartment with me, and inside her hands kept clutching at me, her lips searching hungrily for mine, her eyes seeming to whisper that it was all innocent. All my promises to save myself for marriage seemed foolish, and I felt like I had to give in or I would die of loneliness.

"I managed to keep Ellen secret from my friends and family, and she went along with it. Instead of talking on the phone or sending e-mails, she wanted us to send each other letters, saying it was more romantic. Her letters always smelled like her, and when she wasn’t there I would sleep with a letter under my pillow. We met every few days and did things together, always ending up back at my place and in my bed. Every moment I spent with her only made me want her more. Last week, she said that she wanted to show me her house, and today I came."

Jack, like Lou and Robert and Carl before him, was unable to continue. He fell to his knees beside Ellen, staring at her, tears rolling down his cheeks.

Lou managed to get to his feet again. "I think we all probably experienced the same thing when we got here. When I came inside with Ellen, my desire made my skin crawl, my stomach feeling queasy, so great was the lust that burned within me. Ellen brought me here, to her bedroom, to her bed. We began kissing, our hands tearing at each other, when she revealed her true form."

Jack groaned, remembering. Robert flinched.

"I don’t think any of us can describe what the thing was that came out of her. Mostly it was like a spider, long and skinny and hairy. There were so many eyes, so many legs, so many bat-like wings that beat the air. The legs and wings surrounded me, a hairy tongue sliding across my lips. I wondered what was happening, and then I realized this was who she really was, some sort of parasitic demon who had found form in my lust.

"I fell to my knees before the thing that had come out of Ellen, crying out to God to forgive me for my lust and for betraying my fiancee. The creature shrieked that I was hers, but as she fell upon me hissing, I found a knife in my hand, and I drove it into her belly. She collapsed to the ground, becoming as Ellen had been.

"That was when I saw I was in this old, abandoned house, not a new one. There was no bed, only an empty room. Ellen lay upon the floor, and I became aware that all of y’all were gathered around her, as we are now."

"Yes," Robert said, standing up next to Lou. "That was how it happened to me, as well."

"And me," Carl said, standing up next to Robert.

"And me," Jack said, struggling to his feet. "I’m glad it’s over."

Carl glanced at Ellen’s body. "I suspect that none of us will be so easy to deceive next time. The power of death might belong to hell, but the fact that I am alive can only be attributed to heaven."

Before their eyes, Ellen began to crumble. Her skin, flesh, and blood became dust. Her skeleton curled up upon itself and disappeared. Within seconds, no trace of her remained. The house around them was ancient, falling apart almost before their eyes. The four men left the house, finding their four cars outside in the weed-filled driveway.

"That’s strange," Robert said. "I didn’t see any other cars when I got here."

"Nor I," Lou said.

"Nor I," Carl said.

"Nor I," Jack said. "I guess we saw what she wanted us to see."

"At least we are free now," Carl said, and he looked up at the sky. "I can’t help but wonder if there are other things like Ellen out there, preying upon people. I also can’t help but wonder if we were brought together to fight them."

After agreeing to keep in touch, the four men parted ways. Lou didn’t know where the men were going or what they were going to do, but he knew where he was going. He had a very special person to apologize to.