I sidetracked Wolf for a couple weeks to work on a fantasy novel, but I'm back to work on it again. Horror is fun, even though there isn't much of a market for it unless you're writing about werewolves and vampires boning. I'd like to finish this work at around forty-thousand words, then pair it with my other horror novella, In the Depths of the Valley. Perhaps then both would have a better chance of getting published. Here are chapters one, two, three, four, and five.
He lies in a motel bed, a week before Christmas, waiting for the prostitute to come out of the bathroom. He wears his suit and tie; the only articles of clothing he has removed are his shoes. The big toe of his right foot sticks out of a hole in his sock, a pink, lint-covered thing. A case of beer rests on the nightstand, half of it consumed and littered on the floor. The television crackles with the muted speech of bastards. He has seen this program before; this brainwashed Evangelical is preaching the benefits of producing enough progeny to fill the entire state of Arkansas. No one's ever taught her bucktoothed husband to use a condom. Filling the world with more idiots, more bigots, more deniers of rational thought. Funny, of course, that he criticizes them; he deals in the irrational, after all, the big, ugly seething mess. That doesn't mean that his work is inexplicable. It doesn't defy thought as much as he sometimes believes. Christ, he whispers, tossing the remote at the television, listening to the sound of the hooker inhaling cocaine in the bathroom. This is the future I would've imagined, were I capable of imagining anything.
The hooker comes out of the bathroom, white powder clinging to her nostrils, her dress a shiny sequined thing of silver. As she moves, it shimmers like fish scales in the weak light of the lamp, and he sees an image of himself in her, a twisted body, a distorted face. He grimaces and opens another beer can. This is cheap stuff, watered-down light beer, but he doesn't drink it for the flavor. The woman is pretty for a prostitute, late twenties, he guesses, flaxen hair and a lithe figure. It's her eyes that made him go to her. Great green emeralds, vivid green, a haunted fire behind them, the mark, the sign he always recognizes even if he can't explain it. There was a play, though the king wore another color... he banishes the fragments of thought and calls her to him, his arms opening wide to seize her, to claim her, to make her his own. She comes to him and unzips his trousers, taking his penis in her hand, putting it into her mouth. They found each other at a truck stop, he playing the lonely part, she that of the damsel harlot. This town is suck city, he thinks, his eyes fluttering. A short drink of day-old spittle. One day, hopefully before his ever-approaching demise, he will write some of these stray thoughts down. He has a nephew in Nebraska; maybe he'd like to see the hypothetical book. You're supposed to find and teach your replacement, but he wasn't sure he wanted to damn another soul to this kind of life. The hooker has a soft mouth and an expert grip. He touches the back of her dress while she sucks him, running his fingers across the sequins, finding the zipper. He pulls her off of him and commands her to undress. She's skinny, a little too thin, but her breasts hang like ripe fruit and his hands begin reaching for her before the dress slides down her legs. They fuck for a half-hour before he finally comes. Afterward, they sit naked, exchanging cigarettes, taking sips of beer while the television plays endless commercials.
“You from around here?” he asks her.
“Next town over,” she says, taking a long drag on her cigarette.
“Where'd you get your eyes?”
“My father,” she says, turning to look at him. He was right; she isn't normal, no sir, not even close.
“He was an itinerant gambler and womanizer,” he says. “He never paid a month's worth of child support in his life.”
“That describes half of the men in this county,” she says.
“But it's true.”
“Don't be judging. Not everybody's born with a silver spoon,” she says, putting out her cigarette. She falls back onto the bed, her head sinking into the pillow.
“I was born in a corn field, beneath a harvest moon,” he says, smiling. “My mother was a whore. My father was a pool shark and petty criminal. I have only the greatest respect for the aforementioned professions.”
“What do you do?” she asks.
“I'm in animal control. I put things out of their misery.”
“Human animals. The kind that huff and puff and blow your house down.”
“So you're a cop,” she says, looking at him eyes aslant.
“Do I act like a cop?” he asks, looking up at the ceiling fan. Mounds of dust hang from its blades, centuries' worth. He takes out his wallet and hands a card to her. “What have you seen?” he asks, sitting up, redirecting his gaze. In the center of the television, he sees an enormous petrified fang, black static hovering around it, making the edges vibrate and pulsate. She stares at him; their eyes connect, feeding the green flame. The smell of cloves, a faint touch on his cheek. Shadow people moving behind him, sending silhouettes dancing across the far wall. Christ, not again, he thinks, his fingers digging into the bed spread. He watches helplessly as she opens her mouth.
“Nothing,” she says. In between her lips is an abyss. Rain is falling outside, steaming the windows, leaving long acidic streaks. He looks around the room again, blinking stupidly. Cigarette stains. Burn marks on the filthy carpet. Water damage on the ceiling.
“You ever think that this is hell?” he asks. “I feel like the world started off bad and we made it worse. It was our destiny to make the skies bleed. We eat each other under tenement shacks and in high rise apartments. You know what human tastes like? It tastes just like everything else.”
“Everything doesn't taste the same,” she says.
“How do you know? Everything tastes the same to me.”
“You're some kind of crazy, ain't you?” she asks. He can see the faint outline of her ribs over the thinness of her pale flesh.
“You have the green fire. The beautiful burning curse. You see things as I do. Human beings are a demonic race, a plague upon the planet, sowing ruin wherever they go, causing mass extinctions. We're a walking catastrophe, a biblical apocalypse. Hungry monsters prowling the streets, growing fat off of the innards of the earth. We'll bleed it all dry, you know. The earth. Life. Each other. We'll slap each other on the back while we're doing it. 'Congratulations,'” we'll say to each other. 'There's nothing left to kill.'”
The hooker gets up from the bed and crosses the room, grabbing her sequined dress, stepping into it in one smooth movement, her shoes suddenly on her feet, her purse on her shoulder. The cigarette dangles from her mouth like the lure of some deep sea monstrosity. He reaches out to her from the bed, a feeble gesture, his face melting into a mess of emotions. The television continues its static discharge, unperturbed, a deaf, dumb witness. He argues with her, pleads with her, threatens her, causes a knife to be produced from her purse, and finally the door slams shut. Some phrase set her off, the mentioning of the green fire, perhaps, or just his nihilistic worldview. He hit close to home: that's the problem. He watches her walk to her car without a mask or an umbrella, the rain hitting her, soaking into her pores, bringing her one step closer to death. It's here, unfortunately, lingering in this very room, waiting for him to turn out the lights. The blackness of existence. A cold, strong taste of nothing. The problem, of course, is that he hasn't drank enough beer to put himself to sleep.
He settles into the bed, brooding, his thoughts turning toward work in order to stave off his fears. The camera feed has picked up nothing so far, and there have been no further deaths. These things are cyclical, however. A flurry of violence and dismemberment and then silence for months, years even. He would hate to have to come back here. But where else do you have to go? he thinks. One place is as good as the next. His eyes flutter; he's falling asleep, he's become a goddamn narcoleptic. He fights the urge but notices that the ceiling is spinning and undulating. He looks at the television and sees two black figures, faceless, their arms interlocked, twisting into each other like tree branches. The whole room has a heavy dark feeling, as though the weight of years of motel room abuse and excess have finally manifested into a web of seething gloom. The figures by the television are looking at him—they don't have eyes, but he can tell—and he scrambles to get out of the bed but he can't move, he's pinned down like an insect, feeble and helpless before these energies. The ceiling comes closer now, flattening the room, compressing emotions, making it hard to breathe. These things have haunted him all of his life. He can't shoot them or whisper them away. They don't respond to mumbled incantations or hapless prayers. They don't speak any language he can understand. They just watch with their empty black faces, worming their way under his eyelids, taunting him with terrible knowledge. They are the emptiness inside us. They have no souls.
Early in the morning, he takes a drive. The fog rests thick and heavy on the road, reducing his visibility to a few feet. It rises from the river, a dead flowing body of stripped trees, human refuse, and toxic waste. He rolls his window down, lets his hand cut through the moist air. Looks like the moors, he thinks, looking at a barren farm field. This is the kind of weather it likes; wet and cold with death oozing up out of the earth. Part of him wants to call it a “he” or “she,” but he sticks with the genderless pronoun like he was taught. The old bastard who gave him his profession looked like Edger Allen Poe: huge head, high forehead, mustache. He had a different view of things, an optimist's perspective, well, relatively speaking. Let's just say he didn't believe in the complete annihilation of the species. The man smiles in reflection, a rare expression, fleeting. The moon shines through the fog, barely visible, its light ghostly, coming in scattered rays. The burb enclave is in view, the great iron gates locked shut. He does a loop around before picking a spot next to the woods. On the passenger's seat rests a giant knife and a nightvision monocular. He grabs the monocular and peers through it, his ears alive, his hands itching for the knife if things go bad. It could rip through his car roof like paper or tear the door off its hinge with ease, and really, what use would the Bowie knife be against something with that kind of strength? They're huge, usually, though he remembers a gaunt creature, glimpsed through shattered glass, retreating into the forest, dragging its leg. They never found that one, unfortunately; probably bled to death out in the middle of nowhere, a loathsome, pathetic thing.
Now for the thing he came to see. The mist, rolling to the edge of the woods, parts; something emerges, a hulking beast crawling awkwardly on oversized limbs, its head lolling from side to side, the eyes bright white in the green world of the monocular. He watches as it sniffs the air, tongue dipping out of its mouth. In one claw-like hand it clutches the tatters of a dress. He reaches for the reassurance of the knife, but knocks it to the floor, where it disturbs a pile of beer cans. GoddamnJesusfuckingshit, he mutters, dropping the monocular and turning around to retrieve it. When he is again facing the woods, it stands in the middle of the road, a mere six feet away, looking right through the thin glass, its eyes locking with his own. Scattered patches of fur litter its chest; the skin is a dark brown, muscles rippling beneath. The great head has a stunted muzzle with teeth twisting out from beneath the lips, giving the creature an almost comical appearance. He holds his breath, the knife in his hand. Something flickers in those green eyes, human recognition, perhaps, though he doesn't believe it, he can't believe it, he doesn't think that there's anything substantial differentiating himself and this beast from dirt, water, or rotting flesh. One of its clawed hands reaches out and scrapes against the window, a mournful gesture, one might suppose, but he doesn't move an inch. The eyes flicker and then it is gone, the huge awkward body vanished. He sees a blur leap over the fence and lets his breath out, leaning back, his heart beating again. His hand hurts suddenly, so he looks down and sees that he has been gripping the blade of the knife. Shit. He's bled all over himself.