Hinnom maissue 002, p.14
Hinnom Magazine Issue 002, page 14
Konstantine Paradias is a writer by choice. He’s published over 100 stories in English, Japanese, Romanian, German, Dutch, and Portuguese and has worked in a freelancing capacity for videogames, screenplays and anthologies. People tell him he’s got a writing problem but he can, like, quit whenever he wants, man. His work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
THE POWER OF HATE
By Hugh McStay
Being killed is not at all like is in the movies. There’s very little of the dignity afforded to the average person as there is to your standard movie hero. The look of calm resignation that flits across the dying cowboy’s face, his eyes gazing off into the eternal distance as his posse stand solemnly by his side, is largely absent for us.
At least in my experience, anyway.
No, the final seconds of my life in this world were not filled with peace and quiet reflection. I thrashed and kicked like a toddler sent to bed early; I fought the inevitable with everything I had. I screamed until my throat felt as though it were being torn apart by fury and desperation. I cried and I wailed as rage burned across my face like a powerful fever. The betrayal coalescing inside me like a fist, beating from my heart and threatening to crack through my chest.
“You have to go mate,” he had said, forcing me into the crate at gunpoint.
“You lousy bastard, after everything I did for you!” I shouted.
“Mate, it’s over. Just give it up,” said Scott. “Like your wife did”
“She knows you're doing this?” I asked.
“Don't be stupid mate. Need to keep her sweet if I'm going to get your business as well. Well, until she has a wee accident like you somewhere down the road.”
Scott. The man who took my business, my love, and finally, my life.
I had hired him two months ago. He was an experienced and ruthless salesman who would come to be a huge asset to my dealership. He came with amazing references and I needed someone who could help push the numbers. I had been selling used cars for almost twenty years, my own dealership for the last seven. I was the king of my own little castle, not exactly King Arthur but certainly the hero of my own life. Scott was tall, handsome and clever. He was the kind of guy who was always the centre of any social gathering, who was always full of what my wife called ‘banter.’ Any women who came to the dealership swooned around him, pestering their husbands to buy the slightly newer model Scott was pushing.
As it turned out, my own wife was also after a new model. I loved that woman with everything I was, from the soles of my feet to my balding patch of grey. Things had been tough for a while; I knew she was unhappy with how the last few years had gone. I was never home and I worked hard to make sure she would never want for anything. But it turned out that I ended up depriving her of the one thing she needed, which was affection and company.
But fucking the younger model and throwing me on the scrap heap? (Well in this case the local lake not half a mile from my home, but you take my point.)
He had ambushed me in the car park as I was packing away my suit jacket into the boot of my car. He struck me across the back of the head with something blunt and metal and the world raced away from me like Usain Bolt on the starting pistol. I awoke by the lake, stripped to my underwear and bound at the wrists. A large wooden crate, big enough for a body, stood ominously beside me.
“In,” he insisted.
I charged at him, screaming obscenities I’d be too embarrassed to repeat in polite company. But he had the benefit of both not having his hands bound and not being an out of shape, weak forty-eight-year-old man. He caught me square in the face with the butt of the gun as I reached him, and blackness overtook me once more. When I awoke, I had already been boxed up like a redundant appliance to be sent back to the manufacturer (which was a fairly accurate representation of the facts). I was aware that the box was moving, that Scott was slowly pushing me towards the river.
“Seriously mate, don’t worry about a thing. I’ll make sure Sarah is well looked after.”
The hate bubbled and boiled inside me. I pushed against my confinement but could feel no give in the crate. Scott had been generous with the nails. I felt momentarily weightless as the crate was pushed from the little fishing pier before crashing hard into the water. I began to sink quickly, the freezing water agony against my skin as it rushed in on every side. I kicked and thrashed as hard as I could as the water frothed and splashed. I struggled for my freedom knowing that it would never come.
The thought of Sarah and Scott together was all I could see in the cold dark. My stupidity and naivety for not seeing what was happening before it was much too late. Of him touching her where only I was meant to touch her. Of her enjoying him inside her. Of them laughing at me behind my back, making a fool of me and the life we had led.
My lungs burned as they held on to my final breath. A massive pressure escaped my body as I finally had to give in. The water rushed into my lungs filling them quicker than it had filled the crate. I began to fade from existence, to recede into myself rather than out. I had always imagined my soul floating away from my body like smoke rising from a pyre, but this was not like that at all. As my insides soaked, it felt as though my soul had dried up and shrunk into my chest. The thick lump of hate and rage that had gathered in my final moments became my new form. I inhabited it, hid in it.
And I would grow strong.
The hours became days became weeks. I sat inside my rage, the memories of my human life fading into irrelevancy. I could feel the shell of what I used to be bloating with the water, putrescent and fat. But I did not wither, I did not decay. I grew strong and patient, I focussed on my hate and my anger and it held me together like cement holds together a wall.
Weeks became months.
At last, In the rotting dark, the chest cavity of my former self split open. I rolled out into the crate, the water no longer feeling cold on my form but refreshing. As I pushed myself forward and swam into the dark, a small golden ring passed into my globulous form. Making my way to the cracks in the crate, I pushed my way through, my new body squishing through the slats in the crate like grease down a drain. My world suddenly expanded infinitely. I’d always been told that the soul leaving the body was a beautiful, ethereal thing. But I doubt there was any beauty or divinity at hand that night. I had no eyes as such, but my sight was better than it ever had been, my vision stretching across every centimetre of myself. A gentle current helped move me across the river, pulling me towards one of the large drains at the far side of the lake.
I poured through the thick wire fence and at last came to a stop in a damp pile of waste and garbage. While I could see, my sense of smell and taste had thankfully abandoned me. I flopped forward to escape the worst of the filth only to find that it was trailing with me. I became aware of my new form for the first time out in the open: gelatinous, bilious and very, very green. I looked like the coughed-up phlegm of a giant. I was the embodiment of my hate and anger; my pain and fury held me together like super glue holding together a shattered vase.
The grate led to the dank, rat-infested sewers beneath my sleepy hometown. As I squelched through the mire, the rats fled from me as though I were a threat to them. But my form struggled for firm touch and purchase. I tried repeatedly to grab the various flotsam and jetsam on either side of me, only to watch it all pass through me like a spoon through jelly. I inched through the mire, my hate fuelling my every movement.
That fucking bitch, I thought. I can’t believe I was so blind, I can’t believe after all we shared together after all we’d . . .
I grew bigger with each spiteful thought. Not in my own internal mass, but the filth and grime around me began to attach itself to my form. Through the power of my will, the faeces and discarded waste of my former species formed a crude, perfunctory body. I stumbled as I stood, balance came to me as easily as first steps do. My slime-congealed form stood erect, every inch of my new body felt more a part of me than my own ever had.
And yet, I c
I hurried my new feet along, sloshing through the dark river beneath me. At last I came to some stairs leading up to street level. I emerged into the night a foul creature of germ and bacteria, of nightmares and impossibilities. And mostly of shit.
I thanked my luck that the lazy bastard couldn’t be bothered to get rid of my body further from home, I saw that I was no more than five minutes of stumbling through the Winter night to my destination. I passed by my local shop, the butcher who I used to buy from every weekend, the café that Sarah and I went to every Sunday morning. Sadness began to creep in, infecting my rage with its soft edges. The rudimentary shape that I had assumed began to tremble; I feared that I was going to break down before I achieved my goal. At the thought of it, clumps of my body began to drop from me and splat on the pavement.
No! I thought.
It was the hate that had preserved what I was. It was the need for revenge that had given me form. I screamed into the night sky, the noise that came from what passed as a mouth was like a painful gurgle. My body strengthened, solidified. My renewed sense of purpose hardened both my resolve and my form. I carried on, the cul-de-sac I’d called home for ten years came into view. I marched towards the large house at the end of the street, my beautiful house with its large cherry red door.
“Cherry like your lips,” I had once commented to Sarah.
I pushed the door open as softly as my matted paw would allow and passed into my hallway towards the stairs. My choice of cream carpets in the hall had always been folly, never more so than now. I reached the top of the stairs, steaming and furious. I could hear them in my bedroom, grunting and rutting like animals. Sarah, my wonderful Sarah, moaning like a porn star in my bed. Pushing my bedroom door open, I stepped inside to survey the scene.
Scott's arse was thrusting away, both of them enjoying each other, revelling and thriving in my demise. Stepping into the room, Scott was the first to turn.
“What the hell is that smell?” I heard him ask.
Sorry to spoil the mood, I thought as he turned to face me.
If I could have smiled, I would have. The look on his face was worth the trudge alone. He screamed loudly, terrifying Sarah who was still bent over the bed on all fours like an animal. I could see her peering past him at me, then her screams joined his. I doubt many of us expect to be confronted by a shit and bile monster, especially one whose wife you had been fucking.
“What the hell are you?” he asked, his member flopping impotently in my direction.
Advancing on him, Sarah's screams loudened. If I had ears I think they would have been ringing. Scott took a swing at me; his powerful frame threw everything he had into the punch. Connecting with my chest with a wet thump, his fist became lodged squarely where my heart would have been. I stood my ground and watched him stare along the length of his arm in befuddlement. Pulling his shit-encrusted hand from my chest, Scott turned to run to the bathroom. I admired the irony of trying to hide from a shit monster in the bathroom. In his haste, he caught his foot on his hastily discarded jeans and fell hard, face first on the floor.
Still Sarah screamed.
I looked at her, my beautiful wife. She was just as lovely as she was the day we met. I spent the best twenty years of my life with that amazing woman. I loved her with everything that I was.
Tears streamed down her pretty face.
My body began to waver. Whatever black magic responsible for my stay of execution was beginning to slip. My hands broke apart and fell by the wayside. My legs began to tremble. Looking at Scott lying dazed and naked on the floor beside me, I decided that I had one course of action left to me. I fell on him, my coarse disgusting body splattering across his muscular back like a dropped lasagne. The splat seemed to shake him from his daze, his screaming in terror and disgust returned tenfold. I imagine I might have had the same response if someone had dropped 150lbs of faecal matter on me. But it wasn’t enough. I had been humiliated, and so now had he.
It wasn't enough.
I felt myself coalesce.
I found my way in.
I slid inside Scott. I funnelled into him like an enema that would never end. Sarah’s screams disappeared and all I could hear was the sweet sound of Scott’s agony. I poured into him, pushing farther into the soft warmth of his insides. His pain, his unknowable anguish thrilled me, solidified me as I worked my way through him. In the dark, I could hear his flesh tear, his organs rip apart as I pushed farther up his torso. I moved towards the sound from above, his exquisite screaming acting as a beacon in the black. The screaming stopped when I reached his throat, the last of his miserable life pouring out of him as easily as I poured into him.
I pressed on, knowing that our end was near. I pushed into his mouth from his throat, leaving behind my living-waste body which now impaled the length of him. My green, blob-like form was all that remained, and I pressed myself through his open lips, frozen in an eternal, silent scream.
I sit there now, peering out of Scott’s mouth. He is stiff and dead on his knees, head cocked back and looking at the ceiling. My ceiling. The thick green creature of hate that grew strong in my corpse is beginning to fade, the dark arts that held me together are losing their hold.
I can see Sarah. She is in the bed still, our bed, staring at her lover’s stiff and frozen corpse. With the last of my will, I let go of my centre. I begin to fall apart, my rage spent and gone. Grief overwhelms me as I look at my Sarah, my beautiful Sarah, crying alone in the dark. I break apart and dribble down Scott’s chin, like the aftermath of some lewd act. My wedding ring drops from Scott’s chin, rolls along the floor to the edge of the bed.
“James?” she whispers as the dark takes me.
Hugh McStay is a native of Glasgow, Scotland, where his love for all things horror blossomed in the city’s plethora of urban myths and stories. Influenced by the works of Stephen King and Clive Barker, Hugh has been writing short horror fiction in his spare time for a number of years.
Although a journalism graduate, Hugh has spent the last thirteen years in the customer service industry as a restaurant manager. The sights and sounds of a busy city centre restaurant have shown him the many faces of humanity over the years, from the sublime to the preposterous.
A doting Dad of two beautiful girls, Hugh is a firm believer that his two children are far more formidable than any monster his imagination could ever conjure.
Currently working on his first novel, Hugh continues to write short horror stories to delight, disgust and scare in equal measure.
SPIDERING DOWN AN ALLEY
By Jeff Johnson
The six antique electric chairs were arranged in a circle around an alloy pedestal, pointed inward, with people strapped in. Water laid his right hand over the fingernail rakes in the arm of his 1924 Huntsville Edison and felt the needle spike his wrist. There was the almost instant taste of sulfur, and a curling wave of cold railed up the bones of his arm and rinsed his skeleton. He turned to the new guy in chair five and smiled, an expression that had left his face unmapped by lines.
The floodlights dimmed and a ghostly, rotating holograph fanned out above the pedestal. News footage out of Hong Kong, less than ten hours old. The CEO of Unitevex had died in the middle of his trial.
Sanchez walked out of the darkness. Suki trailed behind him, pushing the psychotransmogrification carriage. She took something small from the top instrument tray and laid it in the new guy’s lap. Water’s eyes narrowed. It looked like a first generation Epsin acoustic modem with rows of Sony zip drives soldered on, all wrapped up in trash wire.
“Joseph C. Beeker winked out from ma
Water and the other men in the electric chairs shifted in surprise. Sanchez smiled grimly and clicked the roachcam playback into fast forward. It skittered along a gray, windowless wall around a corner into the enormous void of a coliseum, empty of everything except for a desk in the center, where CEO Beeker sat working at a computer.
Water glanced over at Krilanovick, his second-in-command. Krilanovick studied the roach image without expression, but there was a tell in his calm. Suki had put Krilanovick’s transmog under his tongue, a shard from a school bus headlamp with an epic tragedy in its past that mirrored some secret in Kril’s own history. Krilanovick was carefully rolling the glass back and forth with his tongue.
“This is your drop site,” Sanchez continued. “We don’t have any data on what to expect in the way of resistance, but my feeling is that CEO Beeker will be the most dangerous variable in this equation.” He clicked the roach feed off. “This fucker was so wicked and wrong that he merited an administrative position in Hell, people. Stay sharp. Find that money. This one is going stale fast, so keep an eye on the clock. You have fifteen minutes down there. Make ‘em count.”
Suki took Water’s transmog from the carriage and dropped it in his lap. It was a solid cast iron toy gun with no moving parts, not even a hole in the barrel. The entire thing had been carved and sculpted after being stamped out of old railroad spikes so that it resembled a serpent twisted and tied into the shape of a sixteenth century English Snaphaunce pistol. Water hated the thing almost as much as he hated Suki, the creepy bitch who personally killed all the teams latticing up instead of down. Water had never been up the ladder for Heaven work. He’d heard stories about how Suki liked her job too much when she put the boys going up to Clowntown down for short-term dirt naps.
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