Hello everyone! Thank you for visiting my blog today. I’m featuring a short story inspired by a nightmare I had. The nightmare was somewhat bizarre, as night terrors often are, but what I remember of it became the creative impulse that led to this story. I’ll call it a Sci-Fi/Horror.
WARNING: The story is a bit macabre.
( ^ Click PLAY to hear soundtrack ^)
A Town’s Perception
by Vashti Quiroz-Vega
It began with the moon.
One evening I lifted my eyes to the skies, and the moon appeared to have doubled in size. After that, all sorts of curious phenomena began to occur. Everyone in my small town was in a panic.
Strange swirls of indescribable colors were seen in the night skies. During the day the sun shone blood red and colored the skies pink. It was as if we had been transported to a different planet overnight.
When I saw the ships in the sky, I knew it wouldn’t be long before they came for us, and I was right.
In the middle of the day, they came. I watched them disembark their ships, small groups at a time. They resembled men of diminutive stature with large heads. They appeared to waddle rather than walk. They wore weird metallic suits with respirators attached to their faces.
I rushed to my daughter’s side. She lay on the bed in her room, stared ahead at nothingness and wailed, as she had done for days.
My poor child. Her mind was not equipped to handle this invasion. I held her tight. I would not allow her capture. Who knew what these small creatures were capable of doing to her—-to us.
I pushed the barrel of the gun up against her temple to keep my hand from trembling. The cold metal did not stop her wails. Poor thing, her voice was so hoarse. I would extinguish the fire in her gullet.
I pulled the trigger. She fell on her side, her eyes still open wide, as if she could still see this nightmare. I shut her eyelids and finally gave her peace.
It was my turn. I’d convinced myself, like so many others in this town, that this was the only way out. I was the last to take action since I was taught to always have hope, but even those of us who always have hope had given up.
The priest took most of the townfolk. After his last sermon, he instructed the congregation to get on their knees and pray. While the town’s people prayed, the priest left the church and locked the doors behind him. Then he set the church ablaze.
Pitiful man of God, his mind also handled the crisis poorly. He burned those people alive: men and women, young and old. He had invited my daughter and I to attend his last sermon, and I agreed to go, but my daughter was not doing well, so we stayed home and were saved from a horrific death.
I live a block away from the church, and I heard the screams and howls of the burning souls. I ran down the street and was met with a fiery inferno. The stench of burning flesh and hair made me retch. I released the contents of my stomach right there on the street. What did it matter? There was no one around to watch me. I saw the priest stagger from the back of the burning building. My stomach was tied in knots.
“Demons! The demons are upon us,” he shouted. “If you remain they will take your soul!”
“What are you talking about?” I gasped and pointed a shaky finger at the combusting church. “There are people burning alive in there.” I ran toward the church’s double doors. The heat of the blaze stopped me. I sobbed unable to act. Those were my neighbors. My friends.
“You have to burn! Otherwise the demons will take your soul. I burned them because the fire will purify their spirits.” He stared at me with wild eyes.
My hands flew to cover my mouth upon recognition of what he had done. My legs faltered, and I fell to my knees. I trembled uncontrollably as the priest took steps toward me. I extended my quaking arms before me.
“Stop! Stay away!” I made an attempt to get to my feet, but my knees buckled.
“My dear, you must not remain alive. The demons will take your soul.” His voice eerily calm. He continued to trudge in my direction.
“You’re right!” I shouted. My head nodding briskly. “I know I must die. I must tend to my daughter’s demise also.”
“What? Your young daughter is still alive?”
“Yes, she waits for me at home.”
“No, no, no!” The man of the cloth pulled on his sleeves and shook his head like a madman. “You must go to her! It may be too late already. The demons do not waste time. A young soul like hers is a prime target. Go to her! If her soul is still intact, take her life immediately and then take your own.” He took a lighter out and flicked it on. He bent over and put the small flame against the hem of his cassock.
I tried to scream as I watched the fire spread and grow on the flammable cloth of his priestly vestment, but I opened my mouth and sounds did not leave my lips. I gathered all my strength and lifted myself off the ground. I wanted to run. Instead I barely escaped the wailing priest who floundered, engulfed in flames. I staggered past him. The crackle and pop of his burning flesh lingered in my ears never to be forgotten. Noxious smoke attacked my nostrils. The stench was so great, I could taste it.
The very next day, the little men came.
It’s time now. My daughter is gone. The entire town is gone.
A gunshot is heard. Men in white lab coats and facemasks run into a young girl’s bedroom. On the twin bed, dressed in pink, lies a pre-teen girl and a thirty-something-year-old woman. Both females are deceased due to gunfire wounds to the head.
“We’re too late,” one of the men in lab coats said.
“Well, maybe it is for the best,” his partner said. “There is nothing we could have done to reverse the effects of the chemical agent.”
“It’s a shame what happened in this town.”
“Yes, but how could we know Compound K would have this effect on them?”
“No––we had no way of knowing that the solution we prepared to cause infertility in the men and women of this town would turn into a powerful, hallucinogenic, mind-altering drug when combined with their water.”
“We’ll have to look into the town’s filtering system before we try this again in the next small town.”
“I agree, but let’s not allow this small speed bump to deter our cause.”
“Doctors,” a young man interrupted, “you asked for bottled water?” The men nodded and each took a bottle. They hardly took notice of the fellow. The young assistant leaves.
“Of course it won’t deter us. Our cause to save the planet by ending overpopulation goes beyond a few casualties.”
“Well, I wouldn’t exactly call five hundred people a few casualties, but such things happen in the name of science.”
“Absolutely.” The scientist gulps down his bottled water. Suddenly, he sputters. His eyes widen. “Th-thi-this water was bottled right here in this town!”
The other scientist fumbles with the bottle, trying to see the manufacturer’s name.
“How could this small town have a bottled water company?” Wide-eyed and hands trembling, the scientist stares at the lettering on the bottle. He reads, “‘We take pride in our fresh, clean mountain water and we use the highest quality water filtration systems.’ They bottled this water four days ago.” He drops the bottle, and it crashes to the ground.
“No!” his partner yells. “We put Compound K in the water supply seven days ago!”
“Maybe it won’t affect us in the same way as the townspeople. We’ve only drank a small portion in comparison to what they must have drank in the course of several days.” His voice wavers and his body shudders at the thought of having ingested the solution that caused all the townspeople to go mad and kill themselves. The other scientist stares at him, unnervingly silent.
Unexpectedly, the first scientist cries out and recoils. “Stay away from me! Don’t come near me. You will never take me alive!”
“What is the matter with you?” Staring at his partner and looking perplexed the second scientist takes a step back. “Oh, no.” His face slackens as realization hits.
His partner continues shouting, “You’ll never take me alive, Nazi!” He grabs a lamp and charges.
The scientist wrestles with his crazed colleague and seizes the lamp from him. The madman bites him on the shoulder. The scientist beats the man on the head and shoulder repeatedly until the lunatic finally unclenches his teeth and falls to the ground dead.
The scientist falls back against the wall, panting. He slides down the wall, landing in a crumpled mess on the floor. He holds his head in his hands and stares at his partner’s limp body, whose blood meanders toward him. Rivers pour from his eyes. His body shakes and convulses.
His eyes do not reflect what his mind sees.
The flames of hell surround him while demons dance around and torment him with everlasting pain.
Copyright © 2013 by Vashti Quiroz-Vega. All rights reserved.
“Madness is rare in individuals—but in groups, parties, nations, and ages it is the rule.” ~ Nietzsche.