December 1, 2008

MicroHorror Featured Pick -- "Out For Blood"

The winners of MicroHorror's 2008 Halloween contest have been announced! I plan to feature each of them here, one at a time, but I figured I'd start with the one that most capably triggered my delusional parasitosis...

"Out For Blood"
by Gail Sosinsky Wickman


The door to the Wisconsin hunting cabin shuddered as the buck threw himself against the weathered gray boards.

“Hurry up,” Harvey yelled as his brothers dragged the heavy pine table across the floor. They upended it and shoved it against the door, then dragged one of the bunks over to brace it.

“I’d have sworn I hit that thing,” Mike said, panting.

“You did,” Bob said, wiping sweat. “Right through the rib cage. I saw lung blood on the snow. No mistaking that red.”

“That thing should be dead,” Mike said.

Harvey peered through the window, glad it wasn’t any bigger than a manhole, but thinking of ways to plug it anyway. “I think it is,” he said.

“Don’t give me that rural superstition crap,” Mike said, hiding behind his suburban house and his engineering degree like he always did when he was scared.

A banshee howl echoed through the clearing, and instinctively, Harvey grabbed an end table and covered the opening. Two thumps hit, followed by more screams and hissing.

“What the hell is that?” Bob asked as he threw his shoulder behind the table.

“That tomcat you warmed up on this morning,” Harvey said. “Both halves.”

“Here,” Mike said, returning from the junk drawer with a hammer, an assortment of nails and a couple of spikes they used to climb trees. It took a bit, but they secured the window.

“I’ve heard of this,” Bob said, nursing the thumb that had gotten in the way of the hammer.

“You thinking of Minong?” Harvey asked.

“Prentice, too.”

“Drop the spook stories,” Mike said. “It’s just some new form of rabies, not some revenge of the hunted.”

“It’s not hunting,” Harvey said. “Road kill, meat markets. The guy at the pet cemetery still won’t talk.”

“So why haven’t I heard of it?”

“Because it’s not logical and it’s not happening in a city,” Bob said.

“Just the day of the full moon, right?” Harvey rubbed his hands together. “We can last that.”

A second thud joined the first at the front door, followed by the crash of the chopping block and the bug light.

“Must be the doe from yesterday,” Bob said. “How’n hell’d she get out of the tree?”

“Doesn’t matter,” Harvey said. “We’d better make sure it’s clean in here, though.”

Mike grumbled, but he helped build the fire, and systematically, they burned every piece of meat in the refrigerator, every bite of jerky and the contents of two cans of steak and potato soup. A cracking noise above the mantle drew their attention. Grandpa Andy’s stuffed musky gnashed its teeth and struggled to free itself from its mounting board. The fish, a bearskin rug and a beaver pelt decorating the wall fed the flames, gagging them with the stench of burned fur.

“Damn, if it’s not like killing the old man all over again.” Bob wiped a tear that might have been from smoke.

“Now what?” Mike asked.

“Grab something to eat and wait it out,” Harvey said.

“They’re not going to take the ax and chop through the wall?”

“They’re just animals, Mike.” Bob shook his head. “It’s not like they get any smarter.”

It was almost cozy, sitting around the fire, eating beans out of cans–always careful to flick the bacon into the fire. After they broke out the schnapps, dozing came naturally. It was Mike’s gasps that woke them.

“It’s the wool shirt,” Bob said and pushed out of the chair, only to fall as his leather boots sliced his calves, severing his tendons. Harvey’s fingers flew to his tightening belt. The pressure on his gut grew, as did a steady whine in his ears, so loud he couldn’t hear Mike’s breathing anymore.

“No,” Bob forced out between moans.

Harvey looked up. A black cloud hung in the air, squeezing around the ill-fitted door. The mosquitoes had found a way out of the bug light’s catch tray. They descended, well-practiced in the taking of blood.

Copyright: © 2008 Gail Sosinsky Wickman

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