This is a decent size sample of my short story Es Kisk. This story falls into the supernatural horror category. Currently Maggie is finishing editing the final two stories that go along with this one for my first collection of like fiction. – Bethalynne
“I smell something.”
Kespah looked over at Sigrid. The woman was sniffing the air and trying to put a name to the smell. Kespah smelled the air as well, recognizing a strangely sweet odor which mingled with a soft musk. It was a manly smell mixed with something one might consider exotic, like oils from the Orient. A spice smell as it marinates a piece of meat on a grill. It made her think of a man’s scented skin mingling with food as he prepares it.
She stopped trying to discern the smell and instead figure out where it was coming from. At first she assumed it was carried with a breeze, but the air was still. Perhaps unnaturally still. The odor moved freely around them with no obvious agent to carry it. Each of them became aware of this fact, slowly eyeing the open space around them.
Kespah hung back from the group, motioning for them to keep moving but to be cautious. There was no longer static on their headsets, the channel appeared to have succumb to the structure and had fallen dead completely. They were alone. Somewhere various machinery tracked them by their physical heat patterns, by their heartbeats, among other things. This didn’t exactly matter. She’d had the same time of coverage on the last occasion. It hadn’t helped them in the least back then.
The air was growing thick as the smell doubled in strength. In itself, the smell was almost calming. It made Kespah think of a warm meal being prepared by a man she loved. Her mind saw images of Mikus in more casual attire. He was working over a modern type stove, putting together a colorful dinner of exotic vegetables and marinated meats. He was looking at her, smiling, the smell of his personal cologne mingling with the food. The vision shimmered in the manner of a mirage, which was at least honest. It was a mirage, all of it. Though the memories were beyond her retrieval, her instincts knew the scenario very well. She was experiencing déjà vu. Only this time she was familiar with the déjà vu, she could recall previous events in her life she might be reenacting. Her mouth opened and closed silently as she tried to find the words to warn the others, or at least prepare them. Nothing came. Her body was losing its heat, its power. The last thing taken from her was her breath and for one clear moment she realized she was lost again.
Warm hands moved slowly over her arms, an embrace with no body attached to it. Her eyes felt heavy as her limbs. She looked ahead, the others hadn’t noticed a thing. She looked to the right but saw nothing. She looked to the left and saw a shadow where there should have been a string of sunlight coming in from the open blinds. The shadow quivered, eager to be seen. Perhaps excited to see her there.
“Kespah.” a voice whispered in her head. Quick and shallow penetration. She felt it over her entire body. This was just preliminary touching, this was just the thing getting to know her again to refresh its memories. There was nothing sexual about it as a human would perceive sexual. It was only Kespah’s instincts which told her the contact would be offensive to another of this thing’s kind, or at least aggressive in an intimate manner. She couldn’t stop it, nor fight it. Her feet were no longing touching the ground just as her arms were no longer gripping her weapon. She was floating as though caught in a pool of water.
It was Sigrid and her nose which finally took notice of the other woman. Sigrid sensed the smell was stronger behind them and that it was part of something bigger and more physical. She was a sensitive, but only to the environment and its elements — smell fell under this collection of elements, so her sense told her she was smelling something which had more substance than a mere odor. She turned to follow the smell and caught sight of their adviser becoming dreamy. Kespah’s eyes rolled up in their sockets and suddenly she was just floating there calmly in the air. She didn’t appear to be in pain, but she was obviously not in control.
Sigrid was going to move in on the woman quietly in the proper fashion. As she moved she caught sight of Kespah’s captor. Without quite meaning to react so impulsively she let out a shout and herself firing at the open space next to their adviser as if she had no training or better sense. It was an impulsive reaction she couldn’t help. The group came to attention, turning around to take in the same sight and have much the same reaction. All reason and discipline gave way to the fight or flight impulse in each of them. Each of them felt like they were not in control. Reflex had taken over.
There was a murmur through the room. It was a sound and vibration like a low after-shock following a major earthquake. Almost like a growl. The floorboards hummed, the blinds gave off dust as they were nervously jolted up and down. A moment later the smell was something with form and mass. It rushed them like a dry wind. Sigrid felt her gun blown from her grip and tossed away like a toy. The same happened to the others. This was the last coherent thought she had.
A sliver of ice washed through her body. It hurt just like an arrow tearing through her, but it wasn’t actually physical. There was no puncture wounds and her inner structure was not torn in any way. She simply felt the physical separation of her inner parts. She felt torn and sliced. She felt herself picked up so quickly she couldn’t draw breath as air rushed against her. She was tossed and turned like a rag doll., her body aching. She was positive that physically she hadn’t moved an inch. It felt like she was being thrown across the sky.
However, the frantic sensation of flight and the ache were only a prelude to the main event. The scene was removed completely from around her. She was no longer among the other agents. She wasn’t even a woman. Her body was pushed and sucked down. She was a child again, back in the sparse farming community where she grew up. There in those fields, small and comfortably stuffed into corduroy overalls with a sweet, cartoonish elephant on the chest pocket. She was in the backyard staring at the corn fields and becoming frightened by the wind blowing through the tall stalks. Evening was approaching quickly and she had to get into the house before the sun fell. She was running, darting for the back door of the house as her flashback was moving in fast motion. Her legs wouldn’t carry her fast enough to beat the sunset. She had to force herself. She pushed her little legs a last step and threw herself in thru the back door and slammed it closed. Night had begun.
Night for her as a child, was an exercise in outlasting the demons of the fields, of the darkness. They were massive hairy creatures with big feet and Indian names. They were little gray men with big black eyes who nabbed you out of your bed. If these two things didn’t get her, any manner of minor evils would. Rats in the basement, bogeyman in the closet, or maybe the Blob would come out of the sink drain.
Ever since growing up, she’d learned her childhood fears were nothing more than scary movies she was exposed to courtesy of her older brother. A whole manner of personal neurosis was nothing more than an over active and somewhat sadistic brain belonging to this brother and his lack of any local friends to share it with. His jokes and personal taste for scary movies were tossed onto her by default, she was the only one there to play with, to scare. Childhood was a revolving door of spooks and redemption from the night.
This was not childhood her mind reasoned. This was remembering childhood in the exaggerated way only memories or nightmares allowed. She felt like she was moving through her childhood home, but she was only there mentally. She was unconscious and the entity they had been tracking had gotten to her, it was doing something to her. This is what she reasoned. But all her reasoning couldn’t take away from the very real sensation of the nightmare. She could smell her mother’s cooking nearby. She could hear the inane chatter of the nightly news on a television somewhere near by. When she found her beloved blanky on the couch, it smelled of her bedroom and her grandma’s perfume. These things felt very real and she was tempted to give in just for the pleasure of being close to these dead objects. She felt herself slacken a little, weakening when she should have been thinking herself out of this place.
Her mom wasn’t near, neither was her older brother. The exaggerated motion of time had flung her forward, sailing her mind past dinner time, primetime television, to hours after bedtime. The house was quite empty even though it showed all signs of being alive. The cooking smell was gone, so was the television noise. It was now late evening and she felt the need to relieve herself. It was her almost ritualistic midnight trek to the bathroom. She tried to block out the details of the ritual.
She was living the memory now. She’d stayed in bed till she could hold her water no longer. She took her blanky as protection and first climbed out of bed and darted to the door. She had to move fast the moment her feet touched the floor or who knew what type of monster would snatch at her feet from beneath the bed. Once at the door she had to turn the knob very slowly and crack the door open enough to sneak a peak out. She had to be sure there were no creatures outside the door. Once she was sure the coast was clear, she flung the door back and bolted top speed towards the bathroom. Once at the bathroom she tried turning too quickly to shut the door behind her and fell as her feet met the linoleum.
Now she was there, in the bathroom lit up by only a single nightlight. She didn’t like turning the bathroom light on because it let those things lurking outside know she was in there. She never did like the bathroom, in daylight or after dark. It was sheer white with no pleasantries or warm touches. For whatever reason, her mother never had done a thing to the bathroom. The tub was white and old fashioned, a giant boat resting on feet shaped like a lion’s. The sink was nothing more than a white bowl jutting out from the wall with a pipe snaking out beneath it. The toilet sat next to it, and like all other things, it was white and plain. There was a window in front of the toilet though, one which sat higher up on the wall. It was too high for someone outside to look in so it didn’t have a curtain. In the middle of the night it was like a black eye looking down at her.
Fear had always kept her from going right away. When the young Sigrid mustered up the courage to take a seat on the toilet in the middle of the night, she would sit there frozen for a few minutes as she tried to relax enough to let the urine flow. When she grew older a doctor would eventually inform her mother her daughter had a mild medical problem which came from her daughter’s habit of holding her urine in till her bladder was near busting. Those years were far away though, for when she was older. The here and now was the white bathroom and her little body willing the body’s rain water to come.
The window stared down on her. She had real nightmares about the window. Bad nightmares. Nightmares she could still recall as an adult. Sigrid thought about those nightmares. How could she have ever become an agent in this group when she suffered such foolish nightmares. How had she come all these years to once again be sitting on the cold toilet seat willing her bladder to let go? With her feet dangling what felt a mile away from the floor below, she inhaled deeply and pushed. Finally her muscles let go, and the wave came spilling from her body with a gush.
Eyes. The urine came too freely now, she couldn’t make it stop. There were eyes staring at her from the window and she couldn’t make her body stop gushing so she could get up and run away from the eyes. She might have ran anyway, but she still had vivid memories of the spanking her mom gave her when she found urine outside of the toilet, on the floor leaking along the floor into the hall. That night Sigrid had ran from the bathroom without thinking about stopping. She couldn’t do that again. Spankings were a different evil, a different nightmare. The eyes knew this and watched her with glee.
Sigrid was accepting that somehow she was in a very vivid hallucination. She was caught in a memory which was also laced with a dream. In the dream the eyes belonged to aliens and these aliens pulled her right through the window and took her outside into the very cold of night. In farming country there were no streetlights, nothing to take the deep, oppressive darkness out of the night. She was prepared to see this night, she knew the memory of being caught on the toilet was going to come to blows with the nightmare of being taken out into the pitch black.
Hands found her. Alien hands wrapped around her little body and pulled her through the window. She was out in the night, shivering from the cold and feeling gross from the wetness of urine running down her legs. The aliens didn’t keep her though, not in the nightmare. They whisked her away and threw her into a mailbox. It terrified her as a child but actually acted as some sense of comfort to the adult mind being dragged along. She waited to be dumped in the mailbox and left alone to get through the night. This is how the dream went.
Here history and her reality divided. The aliens whisked her over the corn fields and the wind came with them. Every evil she’d ever feared was hidden in the rows of the corn. She saw them as she was dragged through the air. Her eyes caught the shadows of a hundred lurching evils which had claimed pieces of her childhood. She feared being handed over to any one of them as she was dragged through the air. Reality and hallucination were not dividing but clashing with force together. Sigrid couldn’t quietly assure herself this was a false vision, she couldn’t comfort herself with the knowledge she would be woken up eventually. The aged and disciplined Sigrid was merging with the young and frightened Sigrid, becoming one as she raced over the night sky like a kidnapped star. Sanity was slipping.
The aliens only halted when at the edge of the big corn field, back behind the weeping willows where the grass grew taller than her. Now she feared, now she feared deeply. There was real terror here and she was never, ever allowed to come this far. There was a well here. An old dirty well in the ground. For a moment she clung to the hold of the gray things holding her hostage even as they loosened their grip. The aliens dropped her.
Sigrid felt the fall and screamed as her hair and nightclothes were blown upwards from the drop. Her little body fell from the sky and tumbled down the well, catching moss and nicks all on the way down. She fell through the muck of slime and swamp life living on top of the small body of water at the bottom. She was bleeding and dirty, trapped at the bottom of the well. It was then Sigrid realized a new sense of horror. She was here, in this dead time and place. No mother would come rescue her, no older brother would come scare away the very monsters he scared her with. Even now she could hear those monsters, those evils tromping through the grass to come sit at the well’s edge and stare at her. She was trapped and it had something to do with an assignment she was on but the reality of that adult life, or the job she was involved with, had become nothing — not even a memory. Sigrid screamed.
Luke heard a sharp rasp from someone as if they were being choked, then a chilling scream followed it. He looked towards Sigrid. She had shouted as if having been stabbed or shot, causing everyone’s attention to find her. They turned in time to see the thing, see it lash out at the woman, and then Sigrid fell to the floor. She didn’t appear physically wounded, just catatonic. The others tried to get their wits about them and rush the entity as they’d been trained. Luke hung back to check Sigrid and make sure she was breathing, that she was okay. There were signs of life in her but nothing which was connecting to the outside world.
He spoke to her, checked her eyes to see if they responded to light. He thought he could see some sign of the woman hearing him. Indeed, on the other side of time and the world Sigrid could just make out a man’s face calling to her from the top of the well. He was too far for her to reach to though. He might have been more horrified to know that in the time it took him to come check on the woman, in her head she’d already been stuck in the well for nearly five years.
Reprinted here by permission of the author.